Scott's Blog - 1/31/07

Mahdi Mania?

The media are still scratching their heads over the "Soldiers of Heaven" battle that took place outside of Najaf, Iraq last weekend. Why would a group of a thousand men, women and children go head to head with Iraqi and US armed forces and think they had the slightest chance of victory? Why would they believe a 40 year old from Dawaniya, Iraq was the Moslem messiah, the Imam Mahdi? As Iraq's national security minister put it, "No sane person could believe it."

Or could they?

In this world you can always count on the law of cause and effect. Things just don't happen for no reason. And in the case of Mahdi-mania there was a compelling cause. Consider this article filed a day before the tragic events outside of Najaf.



Iran prepares people for 'messiah miracles'
Government broadcasts series on imminent appearance of apocalyptic Islamic 'Mahdi'

Posted: January 27, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern

 


© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

 

Official Iranian radio has completed broadcasting a lengthy series on the imminent appearance of a messianic figure who will defeat Islam's enemies and impose Islamic Shiite rule over the entire world – even speculating on specific dates the so-called "Mahdi" will be revealed.

English-language transcripts of "The World Toward Illumination" programs can be found on the website of IRIB, a public broadcast arm of Tehran.

"Be joyous my heart, miracles of the Messiah will soon be here," reads a poem used to conclude the first broadcast. "The scent of breaths of the One we know comes from near. Grieve not of sorrow and melancholy, as assured I was … last night that a Savior will come, it's clear."

After the coming of the 12th imam, or Mahdi, "liberal democratic civilization" will be found only in "history museums," explained the program.

"Contrary to the views of western theoreticians, who usually depict an ambiguous and dark future for mankind, Muslim experts believe human history, despite its many ups and downs, has a very auspicious fate," explained the program. "Muslims believe hopes for the realization of such a happy ending for the world are called 'Awaiting Redemption,' and means waiting for man's problems to be solved by the Savior at the end of time. This awaiting influences many, and inspired them with activity and enthusiasm in confronting darkness and oppression for changing the existing situation. …"

This messianic figure will be a direct descendant of Muhammad, according to the broadcasts.

"In short, when he reappears, peace, justice and security will overcome oppression and deceit and one global government, the most perfect ever, will be established," it said.

The Mahdi will appear suddenly, according to the report, in Mecca. Though no one can know the day, Shiites believe, the report actually suggests possibilities in the Muslim calendar.

The Mahdi will lead a cataclysmic battle against a descendant of Muhammad's archenemy, Abu Sofyan, culminating in the cities of Kufa and Najaf. His enemy, though, is destroyed later in Jerusalem.

"Another beautiful moment of the Savior's appearance is the coming down of Prophet Jesus (PBUH) from heaven," says the report. "Hazrat Mahdi receives him courteously and asks him to lead the prayers. But Jesus says you are more qualified for this than me. We read in the book Tazkarat ol-Olia, 'the Mahdi will come with Jesus son of Mary accompanying him.' This indicates that these two great men are (sic) complement each other. Imam Mahdi will be the leader while Prophet Jesus will act as his lieutenant in the struggle against oppression and establishment of justice in the world. Jesus had himself given the tidings of the coming of God's last messenger and will see Mohammad's ideals materialize in the time of the Mahdi."

Again, this article was posted on Saturday. On Sunday, the invasion of Najaf, lead by a wanna-be Mahdi commences. Could it be this self destructive act was a logical progression from the propaganda pieces portrayed on Iranian television? The old saying, "Sow a thought, reap a belief. Sow a belief, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a consequence." was vividly fulfilled.

But even more fascinating for students of Bible prophecy is the Last Days scenario being presented. A supernatural figure arises on the scene to bring a new world order of peace and justice. The enemies of Islam (read Jews and Christians) are wiped out. This "savior" has a lieutenant who is subservient to him - Jesus.

The parallels to Revelation 13 are striking.

And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.  Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.  And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?”
 And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven.  It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
 If anyone has an ear, let him hear.  He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon.  And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.  He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.  And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. (Revelation 13:1-14)

A supernaturally empowered last days ruler. A spiritual protégé who assists this new messiah and defers to his leadership. A message so potent that 1,000 men, women and children tried to make it happen in Najaf last weekend at the cost of over 200 lives.

Some have scoffed at the Bible's predictions of a last days world dominating dictator. The idea that all the world would worship this beast and persecute those who refused seemed not so long ago a bit far fetched. 

Now, not so much.

A third of the world is being prepared for just such a pair of personalities to take their place.

The last days stage is certainly being set in a number of compelling ways. 


 

Scott's Blog - 1/30/07

As Long As You Are Sincere?

I will never forget reading a Peanuts comic strip back in the early 70's. The security blanket toting Linus was being mocked for his belief in the Great Pumpkin. Linus believed that the Great Pumpkin would arise out of the most sincere pumpkin patch on Halloween and give toys to all children who believed in him. As you can imagine, this twist on the traditional Santie Claus motif didn't go over very well with the other kids. Linus declared, "It doesn't matter what you believe as long as you're sincere!"

I have no idea whether Peanuts creator Charles Schultz was advocating or mocking that position, but it sure caught on. Before long there were greeting cards and posters available with this bold declaration of faith in faith emblazoned upon them. 

It's a funny thing. This very same philosophy is still doing land office business in our day. People strongly favor spiritual experience over spiritual content. "As long as it works for you, go with it!" 

But does this nice sounding point of view rally work in real life?

Consider a cautionary tale that was played out on the battle fields of Iraq last weekend.

Iraqi cult leader killed in Najaf battle

By Khaled Farhan Mon Jan 29, 10:41 AM ET

NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) - The leader of an Iraqi cult who claimed to be the Mahdi, a messiah-like figure in Islam, was killed in a battle on Sunday near Najaf with hundreds of his followers Iraq's national security minister said on Monday.

Women and children who joined 600-700 of his "Soldiers of Heaven" on the outskirts of the Shi'ite holy city may be among the casualties, Shirwan al-Waeli told Reuters. All those people not killed were in detention, many of them wounded.

Iraqi troops, backed by U.S. forces, confronted the group after learning it was planning an attack on the Shi'ite clerical establishment in Najaf on Monday.

"One of the signs of the coming of the Mahdi was to be the killing of the Ulema (hierarchy) in Najaf," Waeli said. "This was a perverse claim. No sane person could believe it."

Authorities have been on alert for days as hundreds of thousands of Shi'ite Muslims massed in the area to commemorate Ashura, the highpoint of their religious calendar, amid fears of attacks by Sunni Arab insurgents linked to al Qaeda.

But Sunday's battle involved a group of a different sort, a cult which Iraqi officials said included both Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims as well as foreigners.

"He claimed to be the Mahdi," Waeli said of the cult's leader, adding that he had used the full name Mahdi bin Ali bin Ali bin Abi Taleb, claiming descent from the Prophet Mohammad.

He was believed to be a 40-year-old from the nearby Shi'ite city of Diwaniya: "He was killed," Waeli said.

"SOLDIERS OF HEAVEN"

The U.S. military declined to provide details. It officially handed over responsibility for Najaf province, in southern Iraq, to Iraqi security forces last month and withdrew most U.S. troops, to be recalled only to help in emergencies.

A government statement said the group was planning "a dangerous criminal act" in Najaf.

"An ideologically perverted group ... tried to insult an Islamic holy symbol, the Imam Mahdi, and use him as an ideological base to recruit followers," the statement said.

Waeli said the death toll among Iraqi forces was around 10 soldiers and police. Najaf's police chief was wounded, he said.

Two U.S. soldiers were killed when their attack helicopter came down during the fighting, the U.S. military said. Iraqi officials and witnesses said it appeared to have been shot down.

Some of the fighters wore headbands describing themselves as "Soldiers of Heaven," Iraqi officials said. It was not clear how many women and children were present: "It is very sad to bring families onto the battlefield," Waeli said.

When police first approached the camp and tried to call on the group to leave, their leader replied: "I am the Mahdi and I want you to join me," Waeli said, adding: "Today was supposed to be the day of his coming."

Other Iraqi officials said on Sunday that a man named Ahmed Hassani al-Yemeni, who had been working from an office in Najaf until it was closed down earlier this month, had assembled the group, claiming to be the messenger of the Mahdi.

Among previous violent instances of people saying they were the Mahdi were an opposition movement to British imperial forces in Sudan in the 1880s and a group of several hundred, including women, that took over the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1979.

The "Soldiers of Heaven" could be criticized on a number of fronts. Militarily they were inept. Doctrinally they were considered "ideologically perverted" (Not the kind of endorsement you would want to lead with on your recruiting brochures). But you can't question their sincerity.

To bring your wife and children with you onto the battlefield to face vastly superior arms you must be sincere. They fully believed that they were following the Moslem messiah. But the "Soldiers of Heaven" were wrong. 

Dead wrong.

The apostle Paul warned of the dangers of a disconnect between spiritual feelings and spiritual content.

For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. (Romans 10:2)

This incident raises a question that hits pretty close to home. Why do we put our faith in Jesus? I have talked to many people whose faith in Christ is founded on nothing more than feelings, or the fact that they seem to enjoy the company of people in a particular fellowship. The problem with that kind of faith is that when it no longer feels good to be a Christian, many will fall away. If being a believer is all about belonging to a group we enjoy, what happens when people let us down?

Jesus said there was only one foundation that wouldn't fail us. Not feelings. Not fellowship. Not faith in our faith. But faith in the timeless promises of God, practically applied in our lives.

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall." (Matthew 7:24-27)

 

Where are you building your house today?


 

Scott's Blog - 1/29/07

Hand Geometry and the Mark of the Beast?

One of the most intriguing prophecies regarding the Last Days is the description of the technology that will allow the Anti-Christ to maintain an iron grip on the world.

He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666. (Revelation 13:15-18)

On SRL we often get questions from callers concerned that a new breakthrough in technology might actually be the mark of the beast. We need to understand that this kind of speculation has been with us for awhile. Since I first read Hal Lindsey's The Late Great Planet Earth in 1973 I have heard everything from credit cards, ATM cards, debit cards, interstate banking, grocery store bar codes and the world wide web put forth as a potential fulfillment of this prophecy.

And let's face it, if the goal of the beast's program is to develop a system that can control the world's population by regulating who can participate in the global economy, there certainly have been some significant steps in that direction. 

And one doesn't have to be a student of prophecy to be concerned about the trend. 

N.Y. scanners spark union cries of "geoslavery"

 

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Every morning Dennis Colson, a surveyor at New York City's Department of Design and Construction, begins his work day by placing his hand on a scanner to log his time and attendance at the office.

The use of hand geometry and other biometric data, like facial and iris recognition, is not new -- the University of Georgia pioneered the use of hand geometry when it installed scanners in its student dining hall in 1974.

But the planned roll-out of hand geometry scanners in all New York City government agencies has sparked union cries of "geoslavery" and assertions that technology developed for security will be used to track, label and control workforces.

 

"It's frustrating, it's kind of an insult," Colson, 53, told Reuters. "They are talking about going to voice and retina scanners and that's an invasion of privacy in that they can track you wherever you go."

Jon Forster, of the Civil Service Technical Guild, which represents Department of Design and Construction workers, said the biometric systems gave the city a license to obtain personal, uniquely identifiable data to track workers.

"It's really a matter of this kind of technology having far outstripped any legislation or even case law in the United States in terms of what are the restrictions," Forster told Reuters.

"On the one hand I think people might all agree that if you put a GPS system in ambulances then that's a good thing. On the other hand you have an employer in Ohio who has demanded that two of his employees have chips implanted in their bodies."

Wow.

Let's add to our file under Disturbing Descriptions of Technology - "Hand Geometry" and "Geo-slavery".

Developments like this certainly do raise the question - Are we seeing the arrival of the mark of the beast?

The answer? Yes and no.

There is no doubt that these kind of breakthroughs could easily be a part of implementing just the kind of Last Days economic system described in Revelation 13. But is GPS or "Hand Geometry" or a Retinal Scan the mark itself?

No. 

The mark will be inextricably tied to the worship of the Antichrist.

Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. (Revelation 14:9-10)

Unless your boss insists on your bowing down before an image of a world dominating dictator who had a fatal sword wound miraculously healed as a part of a new employee monitoring program, I think you are safe.

But these developments certainly do set the stage for the events predicted in the Bible. As technology advances it is fascinating to me how the potential for the literal fulfillment of some predictions has come into place - predictions that seemed like a real stretch even a few years ago.

So how are we to maintain a Biblical perspective on these kinds of events? 

First, don't go the "Chicken Little" route. Jesus said that many prophetically significant things will happen "but the end is not yet." (Matthew 24:6) 

Second, don't go to sleep. 

Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near." (Luke 21:28)

Let's make it our business to be both watchful and wise as we live in the light of Jesus' promise to return.


 

Scott's Blog - 1/26/07

Why God Smiled on Smyrna

When asked about the state of the church from a prophetic point of view, most commentators are prone to point to Revelation 3:14-22. There we see the sad story of the church at Laodicea, a fellowship who had everything going for it but a relationship with God. Luke warm, self satisfied and spiritually indifferent, it was a fellowship sleepwalking through the world.

“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,[ I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:15-22)

Two things are really disturbing about Laodicea. First, Jesus hasn't a single word of commendation for them. Second, their condition sounds more than vaguely familiar. Consider these disheartening findings from the Barna Group.

Study: Most 'Evangelicals' Do Not Meet Criteria

 

Christian Post Reporter
Wed, Jan. 17 2007 10:30 AM ET
A relatively substantial number of people label themselves as evangelicals. But new research by The Barna Group found a much smaller number of people actually fit the criteria.

For two decades, The Barna Group has been measuring the characteristics of evangelicals based on a 9-question set of criteria. In its latest study, the research group names them "9-point evangelicals."

On a general note, 38 percent of the population accepts the label of evangelical. When The Barna Group measured them using its nine questions to categorize evangelicals, only eight percent of the adult population fit the criteria.

Applied to the entire adult population, the difference is "staggering," the report stated. Self-proclaimed evangelicals would number 84 million versus 18 million 9-point evangelicals.

Moreover, the study found that 86 percent of the 9-point evangelicals also call themselves evangelicals while only 19 percent of self-proclaimed evangelicals meets the research group's criteria.

On another note, the study found that 27 percent of those who say they are evangelicals are not born again, based upon their beliefs, The Barna Group reported, and they are also less likely to read their Bible and attend church during a typical week.

I have always wondered why those who identify with the title "evangelical" rarely evangelize. Mind you, those who do consider themselves evangelical probably represent  people with a more highly developed desire for the things of God than the average bear. Yet if evangelicals are clueless concerning such basics of belief as "Is Jesus God?", "Is the Bible God's Word?" or "Are we saved by grace or good works?", what do we really have to share? If our faith is more about comfort than conviction, well, it's no wonder "Laodiceanism" seems to be on the rise.

At least on this side of the proverbial pond.

Consider this report of an almost polar opposite reality taking place in one of the least likely locations we could imagine.




WND Exclusive
FAITH UNDER FIRE
3,000 Christians added daily in China
Faithful undefeated by beatings, arrests, confiscations and destruction of churches

Posted: January 18, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern


© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

 

Part of China's mission fie

Worship services are being broken up by baton-wielding police officers, participants arrested, Bibles confiscated and Christian church buildings demolished. But still, an estimated 3,000 people every day come to a knowledge of Jesus Christ in China.

The report comes from Voice of the Martyrs, a U.S.-based Christian group that works specifically to help those members of the persecuted Christian church worldwide.

The most recent arrests happened just a few days ago, when a house church meeting in Henan province was broken up and 11 people arrested, the organization said.



"Police from Yongfeng township police station in Xiuwu county, Henan province, raided a Christian meeting in a home in Chencun village. Eleven Christians were arrested, two were released the next day and nine remain in jail," the report said.

"Police broke in and proclaimed the gathering a cultic and illegal activity," the report said.

Legal and financial help is being provided to those people during their detention.

However, VOM said that a more than 50-year campaign to eradicate Christianity from China has left that nation with the equivalent of a new mega-church being added each day.

"Chairman Mao Zedong declared the Peoples Republic of China in 1949 and quickly sought to purge society of anything religious, causing China's people to endure great hardship ever since," a VOM analysis of the nation said. "Mao's Great Leap Forward in the late '50s and the Cultural Revolution in the '60s and '70s left millions of his countrymen dead or victimized.

"Today, with its policies of forced abortion and sterilization, China's human rights record is one of the worst in the world. Authorities reportedly sell the organs of executed prisoners to meet the demand for transplants. Its system of 're-education through labor' detains hundreds of thousands each year in work camps without even a court hearing. China's 'strike-hard' policy, presented as a crackdown on criminals, is hardest on Christians, putting more believers in prison or under detention than in any other country. The confiscation of church property and Bibles continues – even Bibles officially printed by the government," the report said.

"Yet the church grows: an estimated 3,000 Chinese come to Christ each day. China's house church movement, which comprises approximately 90 percent of China's Christians, endures unimaginable persecution, yet stands on its commitment to preach the gospel no matter the cost."

Two of the people in the latest raid by police were released a day later, but nine remained in jail, according to VOM and China Aid Association, which also reported on the arrests.

Among those still being held in detention for worshiping in the home were Ju Xiang, 48; Liu Xiaoduo, 42; Wang Shegin, 40; Fu Juyi, 36; Hong Xia, 37; Xue Xianghuo, 49; and Xue Xiaona, 34, officials said.

VOM said the persecution is having little effect on the desire to know more about Christ. "In the past year, we received more requests for Bibles and Christian books from Chinese believers because they wanted to share the gospel with others," a VOM source within the restrictive nation said. "The Communist government of China does not see Christ as the most important person in an individual's life. Christians count it a privilege to believe in and suffer for Jesus Christ."

The contact said Christians simply adjust to the persecution at hand – including arrests, demolished buildings and confiscated materials.

VOM currently is supplying Bibles and copies of other Christian books, including "Tortured for Christ" by VOM founder Richard Wurmbrand, to Christians in China.

"American Christians have also mailed more than 107,310 New Testaments to China through Bibles Unbound (www.BiblesUnbound.com)," VOM said. "Pray God will protect believers in China and give them strength and courage to continue their faith in him."

 

Here we see another prophetically charged situation. The situation in China is remarkably similar to that of the church of Smyrna in Revelation 2:8-11.

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write,
‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”(Revelation 2:8-11)

Did you notice a contrast? In Laodicea they had everything materially. In Smyrna they knew grinding poverty. In Laodicea they were concerned about comfort. In Smyrna they were concerned about connecting with Christ. In Laodicea there was not a word of commendation. In Smyrna there was not a single word of correction. The brevity of the letter almost gives us the idea that Jesus was saying, "Don't let Me interrupt. Keep at it guys!"

One fellowship was jaded. The other joyful.

Which one would you have liked to been a part of?

In this world we will find examples of all seven churches addressed in Revelation. The secret o' life seems to be to "go to school" on the churches that got it right in the eyes of Jesus. The gravity of this world pulls us naturally toward Laodicea. The power of the Spirit can cause us to rise above. When we put the "evangelize" back in evangelical, we can be smiled upon by God, just like Smyrna.


 

Scott's Blog - 1/25/07

A Blast From the Past?

Have you ever heard of an "oxymoron"? It's a word that describes two terms that seem to contradict themselves - like "political solutions", "military intelligence" or "government assistance".

One phrase I've heard more and more of lately that I would add to our list is "living fossil". It is used to describe certain creatures that the scientific community agrees died off millions of years ago, that have the bad manners to make an appearance in our day and age.

Presented for your consideration, the frilled shark.

Rare primitive shark captured on film

Last updated at 08:47am on 25th January 2007

A species of shark rarely seen alive because its natural habitat is 600 metres (2,000 ft) or more under the sea was captured on film by staff at a Japanese marine park this week.

The Awashima Marine Park in Shizuoka, south of Tokyo, was alerted by a fisherman at a nearby port on Sunday that he had spotted an odd-looking eel-like creature with a mouthful of needle-sharp teeth.

Marine park staff caught the 1.6 metre (5 ft) long creature, which they identified as a female frilled shark, sometimes referred to as a "living fossil" because it is a primitive species that has changed little since prehistoric times.

 

The shark appeared to be in poor condition when park staff moved it to a seawater pool where they filmed it swimming and opening its jaws.

"We believe moving pictures of a live specimen are extremely rare," said an official at the park. "They live between 600 and 1,000 metres under the water, which is deeper than humans can go."

"We think it may have come close to the surface because it was sick, or else it was weakened because it was in shallow waters," the official said.

The shark died a few hours after being caught. Frilled sharks, which feed on other sharks and sea creatures, are sometimes caught in the nets of trawlers but are rarely seen alive.

Not exactly the prettiest creature I've ever seen, but a moment for a question - why is the frilly shark considered "primitive"? 

It isn't primitive chronologically. This one was happily participating in the food chain last week.

It isn't primitive biologically. It is pretty good at what it does or it would starve to death.

It isn't primitive functionally. You try living at 1,800 to 3,000 feet below the surface and see how long you last.

What makes it primitive? It looks strangely like one of the usual suspects we meet in the dreaded Chart O' Evolution of the Fish. I think Mr. Frilly has also made an appearance or two on those computer animated "When Computer Graphic Artists With Vivid Imaginations"...err..I mean, "When Dinosaurs Ruled The World" specials. 

Frilly is clunky. Frilly is chunky. Frilly isn't as sleek and sophisticated as a Mako or a Blue or a Great White. Therefore Frilly must be a prototype - something that filled a niche in the primordial seas until time and evolution could make the necessary accidental upgrades. Frilly's fossilized remains tell us that this species couldn't compete and was rendered obsolete, except to remind us of a bizzarre time millions of years ago when funky first drafts swam the seas, marking time before Shark 2.0 came off the assembly line.

The problem is, Frilly didn't get the memo. He continues to do his deep sea thing just as he was designed to do. Right here. Right now. Today.

This Frilly story is an important reminder that so called "origins science" is loaded with speculation and inference based on the unproven assumption of evolution. When we hear the term "living fossil" what we are really being told is, "Uh, by our philosophy, this creature shouldn't be swimming off Japan. It should have made a graceful exit a few million years ago. Go about your business. Nothing to see here." 

But the stubborn consistency of creation as typified by so called "living fossils" (or even dinosaur bones that contain preserved muscle tissue) points to a far more satisfying explanation concerning our origins.

God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:21)

For more on "living fossils" see Answers in Genesis


 

Scott's Blog - 1/24/07

Tom Cruise: A Sign of the Times?

Back in the '90's I had the opportunity to serve on staff at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, California. Since over 40,000 people considered it their church home, you'd better believe that the opportunities to meet, well, "interesting" people were many. During my three years as an associate pastor I had the chance to talk with the deranged, drug addled, and even the demon possessed. I had to explain to a picketer who was dressed up as a nun with fishnet stockings that he had every right to protest, but couldn't block the parking lot entrances. One conversation took place with a young man who was pointing a .44 in my face while explaining he had been doing crack for twenty straight days and was either going to come to church or end it all. 

Never a dull moment.

But one of the most interesting aspects of the position was what we came to call "counseling with celebrities". This would happen when a person would come up after a service and announce that they were Moses, or Elijah. Sometimes even someone claiming to be Jesus would make their way into the prayer room. 

It would happen more often than you would think. So much so that one night after a college and career group meeting a man introduced himself to me by saying, "You probably won't believe this, but I am Moses!"

I replied, "Did you know you are the third Moses I've met this month?"

He looked a bit flustered and then sputtered out, "Yeah! But I'm the real one!"

I gently told him that if he could go out and part the waters of the fountain out front we could talk further.

Believe it or not, this very phenomenon is something that Jesus told us to watch for as a sign of the times.

“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand." (Matthew 24:23-24)

In the last few years we have seen no shortage of applicants for the position of false messiah of the month. Some have even managed to gain quite a following. Jim Jones in Guyana, Bhagwan Sri Rashneesh in Oregon , Benjamin Creme's "Lord Matreya", "Bo and Peep" and the Heaven's Gate cult have all grabbed quite a bit of attention, done their damage and passed from the scene.

But what we may now see in the offing is a variation on the theme of the false Christ with a decidedly Hollywood twist.

Cruise 'is Christ' of Scientology

 
By EMILY SMITH
US Editor

January 23, 2007

Tom ... new mission
 


 
TOM Cruise is the new “Christ” of Scientology, according to leaders of the cult-like religion.

 

The Mission: Impossible star has been told he has been “chosen” to spread the word of his faith throughout the world.

And leader David Miscavige believes that in future, Cruise, 44, will be worshipped like Jesus for his work to raise awareness of the religion.

A source close to the actor, who has risen to one of the church’s top levels, said: “Tom has been told he is Scientology’s Christ-like figure.

“Like Christ, he’s been criticised for his views. But future generations will realise he was right.”

Cruise joined the Church of Scientology in the ’80s. Leader L Ron Hubbard claimed humans bear traces of an ancient alien civilisation.

Cruise has certainly raised some eyebrows with his heated debates with Brooke Shields and Matt Lauer on the value of psychiatric treatments for post partum depression.

His advocacy of Scientology, a religion that ultimately teaches Sci-fi novelist L. Ron Hubbard is God, is well known. How much he has bought into the role of being a "Christ-like figure" remains to be seen.

But Jesus' words of warning seem more relevant than ever. If we look to Tom Cruise of Scientology or Tom Hanks of The DaVinci Code for our spiritual guidance we will end up following those just as limited in perspective as we are. 

But if we follow Jesus Christ we will never be lead astray.

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." (John 8:12)


 

Scott's Blog - 1/23/07

Israel On the Edge

Students of Biblical prophecy know that the leading indicator of where we stand in God's plan for the Last Days is the nation of Israel. A living, breathing example of fulfilled prophecy, Israel is also in essence God's time piece. As we have mentioned in this space, there are a number of key prophetic events that will directly take place in and effect the Jewish nation.

The Physical Restoration of the Land - (Ezekiel 36)

The Physical Re-gathering of the Jewish People to the Land - (Ezekiel 37)

The Spiritual Revival of the Jewish People in the Land - (Ezekiel 37:13-14, Zechariah 12:10-14)

The Political Solution Granting Security to the Jewish People in the Land - (Isaiah 28:14-15, Daniel 9:27 )

The Rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in the Land - (Ezekiel 40-45, Revelation 11:1-3)

The Invasion of the Land by the Coalition of Nations Lead by Magog (Russia with Iran as a key ally) - (Ezekiel 38)

The Supernatural Destruction of the Armies of the Magog Coalition in the Land (Ezekiel 38-39)

The Persecution of the Jewish People By the Anti-Christ in the Land (Revelation 12)

The Return of Jesus to Deliver the Jewish People in the Land (Revelation 19, Zechariah 14)

When we understand these nine key events, we can gain tremendous insight into even the most baffling and disconcerting events that emerge out of this ultimate hot spot in world politics.

Consider this recent dispatch from Joel Rosenberg following his most recent trip to Israel.

DISPATCH FROM JERUSALEM: Bush speech seen as preparing for war with Iran

 

(Jerusalem, Israel) – “Our best case scenario is for missiles to be hitting us in the next year or two. Either the West goes to war to stop Iran from going nuclear, and Iran fires conventional missiles at us in retaliation, or the West waits too long and Iran launches a nuclear first strike at us. Either way, a terrible war is coming. It cannot be avoided.”

That’s the sobering assessment a senior Israeli political leader shared with me over breakfast this week.

In that context, President Bush’s recalibrated Mideast strategy is resonating positively here. The combination of 20,000 more U.S. troops in Iraq, a second U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier headed towards the Persian Gulf, the buildup of more anti-missile batteries near Iran, and a flat out rejection of appeasement talks with Iran and Syria indicates that the White House is not only serious about defeating the forces of radical Islam in and around Baghdad, but may in fact be gearing up for a military showdown with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his fanatic disciples in 2007. Secretary of State Condi Rice, here in the region this week, downplayed that view somewhat, saying in Jerusalem that "the U.S. is simply responding to Iranian activities that have been going on for a while now that … endanger our forces." But there is no question that the Arab and Iranian press are interpreting the President's moves as a step towards war.

I’ve been in Israel for the past ten days filming an EPICENTER documentary for network broadcast and nationwide release later this year. Picking up on the themes from the book, the film will focus on the urgency of the Iranian nuclear threat; how Shiite eschatology is driving Iranian foreign policy; why Russia is selling Iran missiles, submarines and nuclear technology; the differences between Islamic conceptions of end times prophecy and Judeo-Christian expectations of the last days; and how evangelical Christians and Israeli Jews can work together in light of this common enemy.

Exclusive interviews this week included:
* Benjamin Netanyahu, former Prime Minister and current Likud leader
* Natan Sharansky, former Deputy Prime Minister and founder of OneJerusalem.org
* Moshe Yaalon, former Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff
* Dore Gold, former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and author of the forthcoming book, THE FIGHT FOR JERUSALEM

I asked Netanyahu how much time the West has to stop Ahmadinejad. “Not much,” he said, noting that when he was Prime Minister both India and Pakistan tested nuclear weapons to the shock of all Western intelligence agencies and that Iran could be much closer to getting the Bomb than anyone realizes. “Nothing else matters – not Iraq, not the peace process with the Palestinians – if Iran is allowed to obtain nuclear weapons. They must be stopped.”

Sharansky warned that action needs to be taken in 2007, or it could be too late. Ambassador Gold told me that Ahmadinejad’s cult of “Twelvers” – Shiites feverishly preparing for the coming of the Twelfth Imam, or the “Mahdi” – recently claimed to have pre-positioned sleeper cells of Mahdi warriors in Jerusalem and that Messianic fever is sweeping the Shiite crescent from Iran and southern Iraq to Lebanon.

Doesn't look good, does it? 

Without a proper prophetic perspective, we could find ourselves making one of two key errors in processing these developments. Some will opt for a fear based reaction and say, "If we leave Israel to their enemies, their enemies won't bother us!" This is a disastrously wrong point of view. We have to remember that God promised he would bless those who blessed His people, and curse those who curse them (Genesis 12:3). Whenever I hear people speak of trying to win favor with the Muslim world by abandoning the only Western style democracy in the region, I am reminded of Winston Churchill's famous analogy, "An appeaser is one who feeds the crocodile hoping it will eat him last."WINSTON CHURCHILL (on Appeasement, Leftists, Islam, Socialism, etc.)

Israel wouldn't exist without divine intervention. Israel will continue to exist because of divine intervention. Those who are wise will not ask the question, "Is God on our side?" Instead they will decide to make it their business to be on God's side. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!


 

Scott's Blog - 1/22/07

The Truth About Altruism

What makes people go out of their way to help others? The question is at least as old as one of the most famous parables Jesus ever taught.

And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?
So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’
And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”
But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”
And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise." (Luke 10:25-37)

So what made the difference between the people in this parable who passed by a man in desperate need and the unlikely individual that got personally involved?

A team of research scientists believes they may have found an answer.

Are you a giver? Brain scan finds the truth

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor Sun Jan 21, 1:02 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Altruism, one of the most difficult human behaviors to define, can be detected in brain scans, U.S. researchers reported on Sunday.

They found activity in a specific area of the brain could predict altruistic behavior -- and people's own reports of how selfish or giving they are.

"Although understanding the function of this brain region may not necessarily identify what drives people like Mother Theresa, it may give clues to the origins of important social behaviors like altruism," said Scott Huettel, a neuroscientist at Duke University in North Carolina who led the study.

They set up an experiment in which they put 45 college students into a functional magnetic resonance imaging scanner, which can take real-time images of brain activity.

The researchers had their subjects play a game which rewarded helping others. They then correlated the selfless acts with the MRI scans of the players' brains. The results were interesting and unexpected.

"This area we saw was the posterior superior temporal cortex," Huettel said. "It's part of the parietal lobe. What this brain area seems to be involved in is extracting meaning from things you see."

"If you see a rock move because someone picked it up, you can recognize that they have a goal. That would activate this region. If you saw a leaf fluttering in the wind, there is no intention in that leaf." And this brain region would not activate.

"We think altruism might help others understand the intentions of others," Huettel said.

His team asked the students how altruistic they were, and found the test strongly correlated with their own reports of unselfish activity, such as helping a stranger or comforting a friend.

The significant insight? Giving to others, selflessness, altruism were associated with the parts of the brain that are linked to a sense of purpose. How interesting that the Bible tells us the very same thing.

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. (II Corinthians 9:7)

What made the difference between the Good Samaritan and the others who passed by? The Samaritan certainly wasn't as well versed on the Old Testament as a priest or a temple worker, but he did understand the purpose of God's Law. 

How interesting that the neuroscientist confessed not being able to identify what drives people like Mother Teresa. One doesn't need  to run a brain scan to find the answer to that question. When asked why she devoted herself to working with the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta she provided a profound answer.

Once
Mother Theresa was asked
how she could continue
day after day after day,
visiting the terminally ill:
feeding them, touching them,
wiping their brows,
giving them comfort
as they lay dying.

Mother Teresa

And she said,
"It's not hard,
because in each one
I see the face of Christ
in one of His more
distressing disguises."

 We give because the ultimate Giver of every good and perfect gift has given us the gift of His Son. What higher form of praise can we give than to walk in His footsteps in acts of purposeful generosity to others?

 

It seems when we understand the why of giving, the what and how will take care of themselves.

 


 

 

Scott's Blog - 1/19/07

Visa, MasterCard and the Return of Jesus?

Let's open up the SRL mailbag and see how heavenly hope can make a difference in how we handle our finances!

Dear Pastor Scott,    

The return of the Lord Jesus would  seem to be  very close at hand.  My question is,
if the Bible says "owe  no man anything", is it possible that the Lord would
tarry because  many Christians are in financial debt to man? 

It would seem almost  impossible to avoid being in debt in order to survive in this life.   

 I am concerned about this matter because I've heard preachers encourage their
 congregations to get out of debt.  What does the Bible say  in
regards to this matter?  

Yours truly, living in a hurting world,   

Danny G. in
Tucson.   

 

Thanks, Danny for raising such important issues for us to understand. As for your first question, the Lord has the time of His return well in hand. The disciples themselves had the same issue heavy on their minds following Jesus' resurrection.

Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. (Acts 1:6-7)

Jesus' return will happen precisely at the moment already decided by the Father. When you stop to think about it, if the presence of some spiritual fault among God's people could prevent the return of Christ, He would literally never be able to come back again!

Although the financial practices of God's people won't prevent Jesus from returning, the Bible tells us that stewardship of the material blessings God gives to us is an important issue. Let's look at the verse you sited in your e-mail.

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

The point of this verse is to remind us that love needs to be our first priority as believers in Christ. If our financial practices have so tied us up in debt that we no longer are able to give to help those around us in need, then we need to reconsider how we are spending our money. 

Having said this, we also need to realize that there are certain financial commitments we can make, such as buying a house, that will require us to enter into an area of debt. A believer can do this in good conscience as building up equity in a home is a good way of getting a return on the money we would spend on putting a roof over our heads. Using the money we spend on shelter to eventually lead us to own our home, rather than seeing it all go to the benefit of a land lord is good stewardship. 

Credit card debt is something we should try to avoid as much as possible. It is much better for us to set spending guidelines and patiently save for some of the things we might like to have (but are really luxuries) than to "buy now and pay forever". Financial experts tell us if we accumulate more than $10,000 in credit card debt at rates that can run as high as 21% we will never pay it off. That means a certain amount of time each month we are working for Mr. Visa instead of our own families! And that sounds like slavery rather than freedom.

It is important to remember that God promises to meet our needs, but not our "greeds". The Lord is concerned that we learn to be content with what we have, instead of worrying about what we don't have. If we are responsible with what we have, using it to meet the needs of our family and to be a blessing to others, He will add to our resources. 

Keep these words of the Apostle Paul in mind and I know God will give you wisdom in honoring God with your finances.

I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:11-13)

For more solid information on how to honor the Lord with your financial decisions visit Crown Financial Ministries


 

Scott's Blog - 1/18/07

Next Stop: Laodicea?

One of the most intriguing  stretches of Biblical prophecy is found in Revelation chapters 2-3. The seven churches that Jesus addresses are significant not only because their troubles and triumphs are timeless, but also because they represent a sequential breakdown of the condition of the church from the time of the apostles (Ephesus) to the church at the time of the Rapture. Over the last fifty  years or so we have seen conditions remarkably similar to the church at Philadelphia.

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,
‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”:  “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.  Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.  Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”' (Revelation 3:7-13
)

The remarkable thing about the Philadelphian church was that Jesus has not a single word of correction for them. They were invested in outreach, steadfast in the face of persecution, and eagerly looking for the return of Jesus. This simplicity of devotion to Christ earned them a heavenly two thumbs up.

Unfortunately, the next church we find Jesus addressing has not one word of commendation given to it. 

“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’" (Revelation 3:14-22)

The church at Laodicea was powered by self sufficiency rather than the Spirit. They made comfort not commitment to Christ their top priority. They also made Jesus feel sick! They had everything but a real relationship with God.

The sad fact is that the church age will end, not with a bang but a whimper.

Which raises an important question - Are we beginning to see the rise of the Laodicean age of the church in our day?

Consider these year end trends in the life and belief of the North American church as tallied by the Barna Group.

  • Although large majorities of the public claim to be "deeply spiritual" and say that their religious faith is "very important" in their life, only 15% of those who regularly attend a Christian church ranked their relationship with God as the top priority in their life. As alarming as that finding was, its significance was magnified by research showing that on average pastors believe that 70% of the adults in their congregation consider their relationship with God to be their highest priority in life.
  • Three out of every four teenagers have engaged in at least one type of psychic or witchcraft-related activity. Among the most common of those endeavors are using a Ouija board, reading books about witchcraft or Wicca, playing games involving sorcery or witchcraft, having a "professional" do a palm reading or having their fortune told. Conversely, during the past year fewer than three out of every ten churched teenagers had received any teaching from their church about elements of the supernatural.
  • The notion of personal holiness has slipped out of the consciousness of the vast majority of Christians. While just 21% of adults consider themselves to be holy, by their own admission large numbers have no idea what "holiness" means and only one out of every three (35%) believe that God expects people to become holy.

The question is raised, "If this is the prophetic path that God has foreseen for the church, what can we do about it?"

The answer is, plenty.

And it begins with what we could call the Philadelphia Prescription for Laodicean Lethargy.

The church at Philadelphia had three things going for it. They had "a little strength". I believe this is a reference to the power of the Holy Spirit working in the lives of the people. Remember "Holy" isn't the Spirit's first name. it's what he does in our lives.

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (II Corinthians 3:17-18)

The church at Philadelphia also "kept (Jesus') Word". This means they loved the Word of God so much that keeping it, that is putting it into practice in daily life was a top priority. But keeping Jesus Word also means to keep it front and center in terms of the priorities and perspective we have on the issues of life. 

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25)

The church at Philadelphia also had "not denied (Jesus') name. This runs far deeper than merely standing up and courageously confessing Christ in a persecution style setting. To act "in the name" of another carries the idea of accurately and faithfully representing their interests while they are absent. When we follow Jesus and represent Him in our contacts and interactions with others we also will be those who have "not denied My name."

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:17)

The time of Jesus' return is nearer today than ever before. If we are living in the times I believe we are in, this Laodicean spirit will continue to become more and more pronounced. When I hear about churches holding "Beer Evangelism Nights" at local watering holes, or read the latest article about the raging success of churches promoting a pastoral personality or a program rather than Jesus, it makes me sad. But the good news is we can chose to rise above and make it our top priority to be found faithful when the Lord returns. What choices have you made today?


 

Scott's Blog - 1/17/07

A Dino-Diorama?

One of the supposed "facts" that are often used to attempt to discredit the historicity of the Bible is the dinosaur. We are told it is beyond dispute that dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago and never shared this earth with man. 

But as we have seen, the facts seem to keep getting in the way of this widely accepted pronouncement. (See Scott's Blog 4/20/06)

Another real problem for the millions of years set is the annoying habit of stunningly detailed likenesses of dinosaurs showing up in ancient art.

Evidence of dinosaurs at Angkor

by Kenneth E. Cole, M.D.

January 15, 2007

There are many references in creationist literature to historical evidence of dinosaurs and man living together, such as the petroglyph in Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah, legends and stories of dragons in Europe, and frequent use of the dragon motif by the Chinese.1 But one striking physical and historical evidence in Asia is rarely mentioned: the bas-relief picture of a dinosaur in the ruins of Angkor outside of Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Angkor is a collection of ruins from the ancient Khmer civilization that lived and ruled in Southeast Asia from the end of the ninth century to the end of the twelfth century. The ruins are composed of temples, palaces, libraries, monasteries, and other buildings built by the various kings and rulers of the Khmer people. These ruins now lie in an area designated as the “Angkor Archaeological Park” in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Many of these ruins have been restored over the years.2

A dinosaur bas-relief at Angkor Wat

photo by Ben Horton

A photo of the stegosaurus-like bas-relief.

One collection of ruins, known as Angkor Thom, has purposely not been restored. The original edifices were either constructed during the reign of King Jayavarman VII or commissioned by him (AD 1181 – ca. 1210). The most significant of the buildings of Angkor Thom is the great temple-monastery of Ta Prohm. Today, the ruins lie majestically entwined with large jungle vines and the roots of towering tropical strangler fig trees, a decision the Angkor Conservancy took to give tourists a more adventurous, exciting experience.3

Most of the great Angkor ruins have vast displays of bas-relief depicting the various gods, goddesses, and other-worldly beings from the mythological stories and epic poems of ancient Hinduism (modified by centuries of Buddhism). Mingled with these images are actual known animals, like elephants, snakes, fish, and monkeys, in addition to dragon-like creatures that look like the stylized, elongated serpents (with feet and claws) found in Chinese art.

The author poses with the dinosaur bas-relief

photo by Ben Horton

Author next to Angkor ruin dated ca. twelfth century AD

But among the ruins of Ta Prohm, near a huge stone entrance, one can see that the “roundels on pilasters on the south side of the west entrance are unusual in design.”4

What one sees are roundels depicting various common animals—pigs, monkeys, water buffaloes, roosters, snakes—and what appears to be a dinosaur! There are no mythological figures among the roundels, so one can reasonably conclude that these figures depict the animals that were commonly seen by the ancient Khmer people in the twelfth century. That means that only a little over 800 years ago, some dinosaurs were likely still living in the region of Cambodia! Of course this is no surprise to biblical creationists, because we know from Genesis 1 that land animals (such as dinosaurs) and humans were living together in the beginning, and that representatives of the land animals (e.g., dinosaurs) were saved on the Ark to repopulate the earth after the Flood only 4,300 years ago. [Ed. note: Some have questioned the authenticity of the relief. However, even if the relief is found to be fraudulent, the position that man and dinosaurs lived together just thousands of years ago does not rest on this one evidence—it is based on the unchanging Word of God. Further, there are many other petroglyphs and legends that support the true history of the Bible (see Get Answers: Dinosaurs).]

References

  1. Ken Ham, The Great Dinosaur Mystery Solved! (Green Forest, Arkansas: Master Books, 1998), pp. 31–52; Dinosaurs of Eden (Green Forest, Arkansas: Master Books, 2001), pp. 35–39. Return.
  2. Claude Jacques and Michael Freeman, Angkor Cities and Temples (Bangkok: River Books, 1997) p. 203. Return.
  3. Ibid., p. 205. Return.
  4. Ibid., p. 213. Return.

When we see that the Bible makes mention of creatures that correspond to two different species of dinosaurs in the book of Job 40-41 (written around the time of Abraham, 2100 BC), and that the Bible tells us that land animals and man were both created on Day Six of Creation Week, phenomena like the carving at Angkor should be no surprise. But if people are so committed to a philosophy (naturalism) that even dinosaur meat and even dino-dioramas won't change their minds, it is no surprise when they reject the Scriptures as well.


 

Scott's Blog - 1/16/07

A Womb With A View?

In the files under "Science Catches Up With the Bible", consider these remarkable pictures.

DRUDGE REPORT 2007®

A portrait from a nursery? In a manner of speaking. These triplets had their picture taken with new scanning image technology while in their mother's womb.

Twins appear to kiss in the womb

A crowded womb

A twin leans over and kisses the cheek of her sister in a heart-warming picture that would not be out of place in any family home.

Yet these siblings are a not even born and the astonishing images have been captured on a new 'four-dimensional' ultrasound scan of the womb.

The scans are a highly developed form of traditional ultrasound where very high frequency sound waves are used to produce images of what is inside the body.

As with older forms of ultra-sound, sound waves a emitted from a transducer, or probe, which is placed on the mother's abdomen and then moved to 'look at' areas in the uterus. These sound waves bounce back off the foetus, helping to create a 'picture' of the child on a screen.

The new 4D scan uses the same frequency of sound waves as in a normal ultrasound. But the sound waves are directed from many more angles,

producing a 'real-time' video of the foetus as it moves and allowing scientists to say the images are in four dimensions.

This advanced technology has allowed scientists to capture the development of foetuses like never before, including twins and triplets jostling for space in the womb while grasping each other's hands and even faces.

A stunningly vivid illustration of a timeless Scriptural truth -

For You formed my inward parts;
         You covered me in my mother’s womb.
  I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
         Marvelous are Your works,
         And that my soul knows very well.
  My frame was not hidden from You,
         When I was made in secret,
         And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
  Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
         And in Your book they all were written,
         The days fashioned for me,
         When as yet there were none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)

These pictures were taken at the twenty week mark of pregnancy. You may want to keep them handy the next time an ill informed person makes a pronouncement that abortion is not about taking a human life.


 

Scott's Blog - 1/15/07

Will Jesus Return This Year? Let's Go To The Polls!

Have you ever wondered what future generations will think of the times we live in? What will people conclude about us if all that remains of our culture is a Britney Spears video and a thousand lost golf balls? 

If any of the product of our media survives I am convinced that future archeologists may conclude that our times saw the birth of a brand new form of government - the "Poll-ocracy". It seems that if you really want to make a difference in our country, commission a poll, have it lead on the cable network news and watch Washington scramble to catch up.

Don't get me wrong, polls do have their place. It is always instructive to gain an insight into the national mood. But polls do have their limits. They may reflect belief, but we find ourselves on shaky ground when they create belief.

I caught a classic example of the importance of maintaining this distinction in an intriguing poll by the Ipsos research group.

Some Americans Expect Jesus' Second Coming in 2007

Christian Post Reporter
Wed, Jan. 03 2007 01:58 PM ET
One in four Americans anticipates the second coming of Christ in 2007. This is one several predictions made by Americans in a recent poll for the new year.
A poll by Ipsos, an international polling firm, found that 11 percent of respondents said it is "very likely" that Jesus will return to Earth this year and 14 percent said it was "somewhat likely."

Among white evangelical Christians, 46 percent said it's at least somewhat likely that Jesus will return in 2007 compared to 17 percent of Catholics and 10 percent of those with no religion.

Overall, 25 percent said it was "not too likely" that Jesus will make his second coming this year and 42 percent said it was "not at all likely."

Other predictions Americans made for the new year included another terrorist attack and another major natural disaster within the United States, according to the Associated Press. The majority of respondents also expect worsening global warming and that a biological or nuclear weapon will be unleashed elsewhere in the world.

Notice what this poll can and can't show us. It can tell us about what I consider a very encouraging trend. The possibility of Jesus imminent return is on the minds of a significant number of people in our society. This is an entirely appropriate mind set according to Jesus Himself.

Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!" (Mark 13:36-37)

It is encouraging to see that more and more people are aware of the promise of Jesus to return. No doubt the wildly popular "Left Behind Series", the signs of the times we live in, and individual Christians sharing the Good News have contributed to these results. But notice what this poll can't tell us. It can't fix a date for the Lord's return. 

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matthew 24:36-44)

The return of Jesus will not be hastened or altered one bit by whether the idea is popular or not. 

I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords (I Timothy 6:13-15)

Washington may alter policy based on the results of the latest polls. But what a reassuring thing it is to know that Heaven doesn't follow that same school of decision making!


 

Scott's Blog - 1/12/07

A Preview of Coming Attractions

Quick quiz: What is your first impression when you see this picture?

 

A. "Better load up the tranquilizer dart gun!"

B. "Better warm up the medivac helicopter!"

C. "Better read Isaiah chapter 11 again."

If you chose "C", congratulations!

African Lion Kisses, Hugs Woman Who Saved It

People Shocked To See Affection Between Pair

People in Cali, Colombia, are shocked to see the bond between a large African lion and a woman who saved it from abuse, involving long, affectionate kisses and hugs between the pair.

Ana Julia Torres, who runs the Villa Lorena animal shelter in Cali, fed and nursed Jupiter the African lion back to health years ago after it was found abused and emaciated in a traveling circus.

"It is amazing to see an animal like that be so sweet and affectionate," said Torres. "This hug is the most sincere one that I have received in my life."

The Bible tells us there will come a day when animals as fierce and predacious as a lion will have a dramatic change of heart.

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
      And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
    The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him,
      The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
      The Spirit of counsel and might,
      The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.
       His delight is in the fear of the LORD,
      And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes,
      Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;
        But with righteousness He shall judge the poor,
      And decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
      He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
      And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.
       Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins,
      And faithfulness the belt of His waist.
       “ The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
      The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
      The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
      And a little child shall lead them.
      The cow and the bear shall graze;
      Their young ones shall lie down together;
      And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
       The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole,
      And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.
        They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,
      For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
      As the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:1-9)

In our world today this description is almost unimaginable. As Woody Allen once put it, "The lion will lay down with the lamb, but the lamb won't get much sleep." But the Bible tells there is a change coming. 

What will cause this change? The presence of the Lord of love. When Jesus returns the entire creation will be effected, transformed, made right again.

Imagine the difference we can make if we allowed the presence of the Lord, through His Holy Spirit, to impact our little corner of the creation?

There might be a whole lot less growling and a little more grace. And perhaps those we interact with will sit up and take notice when the love of God creates miraculous changes in our relationships.

Maybe, like a grateful lion in Cali Columbia,  we can be a preview of coming attractions as well!


 

Scott's Blog - 1/11/07

Don't Let Progress Get In The Way of Politics

As we have detailed in this space, there are few more impassioned debates in our day than the ethics of stem cell research. Oppose the destruction of human embryos for research that can only promise a potential for miracle cures and get ready to be called a heartless ideologue who thinks the paralyzed should learn to live with their condition. Support it and be ready to be asked how you would enjoy being a subject of human experimentation yourself.

That is why a breaking news story from earlier this week was so wonderful.

WND Exclusive


MATTERS OF LIFE AND DEATH
Christians hail ethical source for stem cells
Scientists say amniotic fluid better than human embryos

Posted: January 10, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern


© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

Christian leaders from around the world are hailing the announcement of a source for stem cells – and their related medical research lines – without obtaining them from aborted babies or from lab-created-and-destroyed human embryos.

The announcement in Nature Biotechnology said seven years of research by scientists from Wake Forest School of Medicine and Harvard University concluded that stem cell lines derived from amniotic fluid actually have a greater potential for good than stem cells from human embryos.

The endorsements from Christian leaders whose constituencies could be numbered in the hundreds of millions have been coming in ever since, and include a range from those heading a pro-life action group in Wichita, Kan., to the Vatican. "This story has become Page 1 news today because, to this point, the media has not told the truth about how promising non-embryonic stem cell research is," said James Dobson, founder of the Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family Action. "Instead, they've chosen to put their emphasis on promoting research that kills human beings in their tiniest form.

"Hopefully, the facts that were brought to the fore today will influence members of the House of Representatives to reject the expansion of federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research when the legislation comes up for a vote this week," he continued. "There is now a tremendous opportunity for those of us who hold to pro-life views to call for uncompromising support of research using sources that do not imperil preborn life."

One of the senior researchers on the project, Anthony Atala, said his hope is that the cells will provide a resource for tissue repair and for "engineered organs."

"It has been known for decades that both the placenta and amniotic fluid contain multiple progenitor cell types from the developing embryo, including fat, bone, and muscle. We asked the question, 'Is there a possibility that within this cell population we can capture true stem cells?' The answer is yes."

The issue of the medical research and potential breakthroughs that might one day come from stem cell research always has been used by abortion industry supporters as a reason for those activities, even though the current medical treatments all come from adult stem cell research, not embryonic stem cells. Stem cell research proponents also routinely argue that life begins at birth.

Christians, on the other side, have argued that life from the moment of conception is sacred and must be protected, even to the point of protecting human embryos from destruction through research techniques.

"This study provides more evidence that there is no need to destroy human embryos in order to treat disease or otherwise benefit mankind," Dobson said. "In fact, there are no clinical trials anywhere in the world where embryonic stem cells are being used in patients."

To the contrary, at least 70 conditions already are being treated with stem cells from bone marrow and cord blood, and similar prospects are likely for stem cells from amniotic fluid, he said.

The announcement means that Congress has no need to move forward when it votes tomorrow on expanding federal funding for stem cell research that kills human life.

"We urge all members of Congress to uphold respect for life while maximizing the investment of American tax dollars by investing in proven and promising stem cell research that does not violate the conscience of many Americans," said Dr. David Stevens, head of the Christian Medical Association.

The bill pending in the House is similar to one vetoed earlier by President Bush, who has authorized and approves of federal funding for a limited number of stem cell research lines.

"We have learned that the ethical route to stem cells is also the most medically effective and promising route to stem cells. Americans' resources should be used for ethical, effective and promising stem cell research that does not violate ethical standards by killing human embryos," Stevens said.

The research announcing the availability of stem cells from amniotic fluid noted that such stem cells can be grown in large quantities, do not require cells from live human embryos, do not develop tumors as the embryonic stem cells do, and estimated that a research line of 100,000 cells would satisfy 99 percent of all research needs.

"This new science has been able to isolate every type of stem cell needed for therapy and healing medicine without the moral concern for loss of innocent life that has alarmed Christians," said Troy Newman, the chief of Operation Rescue.

Rev. Patrick Mahoney, of the Christian Defense Coalition, noted that science now can move forward – towards a better goal and without the moral and ethical objections that are associated with "live human embryonic experimentation."

"This latest research on amniotic cells is further evidence that we don't need to kill one life in order to save another," said Wendy Wright, the president of Concerned Women for America.

"Scientific research proves that the moral choice is also the healthiest and most effective way to find cures," she said.

This breakthrough discovery seems to end the argument. If the point of supporting research is to provide stem cells so that their amazing potential can be harnessed for cures, we have found the perfect solution. The patient with the incurable condition can rejoice in hope. The defender of those most vulnerable and helpless among us can breathe a sigh of relief, seeing our society take a step back from the brink of the Dr. Mengele School of medicine.

So the theme music comes up, the credits roll, and we all live happily ever after, right? 

Uh, not quite.

Apparently congress hasn't got the memo.

Ampoules containing a medium for stem cell storage are displayed in London, May 19, 2004. The new Democratic-led House of Representatives voted on Thursday to lift President George W. Bush's restrictions on federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research. (Peter Macdiarmid/Reuters)
Reuters Photo: Ampoules containing a medium for stem cell storage are displayed in London, May 19, 2004

House backs broader embryonic stem cell research

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The new Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives voted on Thursday to lift President George W. Bush's restrictions on federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research.

The measure passed after an emotional debate in which supporters touted the research as the best hope for potential cures for ailments such as Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injuries.

Opponents condemned it as unethical and immoral. Bush restricted funding for the research in August 2001.

Bush, whose support base includes conservative Christian voters who tend to oppose the use of stem cells taken from human embryos, in July used the only veto of his presidency to date to reject an identical measure.

The White House reiterated Bush's intention to use his veto power, saying American taxpayers should not pay for research involving the intentional destruction of human embryos.

The bill is part of a six-measure package that House Democrats vowed to vote on during their "first 100 legislative hours" after winning control of Congress from Bush's Republicans in November elections.

Already this week, the House passed two other bills in the Democrats' legislative package, one to bolster U.S. security and the other to raise the federal minimum wage.

The stem cell bill now goes to the Senate, where supporters believe it will pass with a veto-proof two-thirds majority.

The debate can transcend party politics, with some anti-abortion Republicans strongly supporting the research. Thirty-seven Republicans backed the bill on Thursday, while 16 Democrats opposed it.

SANCTITY OF LIFE

"I believe this legislation does not seek to destroy life," said House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer (news, bio, voting record) of Maryland.

"It seeks to preserve and protect life," he said. "We have a moral obligation to provide our scientific community with the tools it needs to save lives."

Many scientists view embryonic stem cells as the potential raw material for a new era of regenerative medicine, hoping to harness the unique qualities of the cells to repair damaged tissue. Such therapies are seen as years in the future.

Stem cells are a kind of master cell for the body, capable of growing into various tissue and cell types. Those taken from days-old embryos are especially malleable but "adult" stem cells found in babies and adults also have shown promise.

Rep. Christopher Smith (news, bio, voting record), a New Jersey Republican, favors research on stem cells not taken from embryos but opposes the current measure.

"Where will this all take us? If this bill were to be passed and signed into law, we would see the demise -- the destruction -- over time ... of millions of embryos," he said.

There is no U.S. law against human embryonic stem cell research. Bush's 2001 policy limited federal funding to research on the human embryonic stem cell colonies, or lines, that existed at the time.

Some scientists say many of those roughly 20 lines are deteriorating, contaminated or were developed through obsolete methods, making them inadequate to determine the potential therapeutic value of embryonic stem cells.

The bill would allow federal funding on research involving stem cell lines derived from embryos created at fertility clinics that would otherwise be thrown away because they are not needed to implant in a woman to make a baby.

The bill is sponsored by Reps. Mike Castle, a Delaware Republican, and Diana DeGette (news, bio, voting record), a Colorado Democrat. Last year, the House passed the bill 235-193 before Bush's veto.

The most interesting aspect of this debate is how revealing it is. If stem cells of a superior quality and usability for research can be obtained without killing an embryo, why doesn't congress recognize this and divert these funds toward the avenue where it will do the most good? Or are our leaders so locked in to this "It's just a tissue blob! It's not a human being!" mindset, that they fear backing away from this cause celebre will damage their credentials with the pro abortion set?

For a Biblical point of view on this issue see Scott's Blog - 8/25/06, Is The Stem Cell Debate Over?


 

Scott's Blog - 1/10/07

The Heat Is On

One of the most exciting discoveries I made early on in my Christian life was the promise that Jesus was going to return. When I was told that the Lord had a plan to rescue His people from the coming time of Tribulation, I was so blessed. In fact this event called the Rapture is called "the blessed hope!

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-13)

But it didn't take long to discover that not all believers were unanimous in this excitement. Some would say, "Belief in the Rapture is just escapism. If other believers had to suffer for our faith down through time, why should we get the get out of jail free card?"

So how do we respond to such a challenging argument?

First, we need to agree with the main point. The rapture is a form of escape.

"Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man." (Luke 21:36)

It is important to understand that the Tribulation will be a time unlike any in the history of the church. It will not primarily be a time of the wrath of Satan against believers, but an outpouring of God's wrath against a God rejecting world.

And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" (Revelation 6:15-17)

What a wonderful thing it is to know that Christians are not destined for the experience of God's wrath. And if Jesus told us to pray for escape, then escape is just what we should pray for!

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.
Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. (I Thessalonians 5:9-11)

But isn't this idea of being snatched out before the storm a little unfair? Others have suffered for their faith. Why should we get a pass?

The simple answer is, we haven't.

Those of us who live in this unusual spiritual environment we call the United States can easily lose sight of the fact that although generally speaking we don't experience persecution, that doesn't mean the same is true for the vast majority of our brothers and sisters around the world. Consider this eye opening report from the Global Chinese Christian News Service.

250 Million Christians Will Be Persecuted in 2007

Around 250 million Christians worldwide will face persecution in 2007, simply for following Jesus Christ, according to persecution watchdog Release International. Daniel Blake
Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2007 Posted: 3:14:PM PST LONDON – Around 250 million Christians worldwide will face persecution in 2007, simply for following Jesus Christ, according to persecution watchdog Release International. In particular the U.K.-based group found that persecution is growing the fastest in the Muslim world.

According to Release, most persecution takes place in four distinct "zones": those of Islam, Communism, Hinduism and Buddhism. But persecution is growing fastest of all in the Muslim world.

Governments in even moderate Muslim countries often fail to safeguard the rights of their Christian minorities, explained RI. Abuses suffered by Christians include kidnapping, forced conversion, imprisonment, church destruction, torture, rape and execution.

One of the world’s worst abusers of religious freedom is Saudi Arabia, guardian of Islam’s holiest sites – Mecca and Medina. Saudi Arabia forbids all other religions. A Muslim found "guilty" of converting to Christianity could face the death sentence for apostasy. And anyone who leads a Muslim to Christ faces jail, expulsion or execution.

"There’s a conspiracy of silence around Saudi," said Release International’s CEO Andy Dipper, "probably because the West wants their oil and their money. But this is a government that hands out the death sentence for its own citizens who want nothing more than the freedom to choose their own faith. And while Saudi bans all Christian literature, it spends billions of dollars each year propagating Islam around the world."

But some of the most violent persecution in the Muslim world is beyond government control. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the world has been made dramatically aware of extremist Islamist global networks. Although the best known is Al Qaeda, there are others who exploit religious tensions for their own political ends, RI told U.K.-based Christian Today.

"A rising number of extremists interpret the call to jihad as a call to violence. They seem to regard it as their religious duty to force Christians and non-Muslims to convert to Islam. Those who refuse must be driven out or killed," said RI.

The persecution watchdog continued: "There is a growing movement to impose Islamic Sharia law, which results in increased pressure on Christians. In Nigeria, militants have driven Christians from their homes to remove political opposition and pave the way for Sharia law.

"Despite the spectacular collapse of communism in Europe, persecution of Christians continues in China, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam, while the dubious accolade of the world’s worst persecutor of Christians goes to North Korea."

Communist governments remain ideologically opposed to Christianity and have pursued systematic programs to weaken and destroy the church. Some persecution also continues under the "old guard" in the former Soviet Union, and China – for all its economic openness – continues to drive Christians underground.

"As China prepares for the Olympic Games, western governments would do well to remember that China detains more Christians than any other country," said Dipper. "Believers and leaders who want nothing more than to worship freely face imprisonment, torture and even death."

Persecution is a growing reality in this world. But this is not the wrath of God. When the Rapture happens the unbelieving world will certainly learn the difference. If we are to understand the hope we have for the imminent return of Jesus, we need to understand that distinction as well!


 

Scott's Blog - 1/09/07

Prophecy Update Part II: Signs of the Strong Covenant?

One of the most eye opening aspects of following the signs of the times from a Biblical perspective is the phenomena of "birth pains". In describing the series of signs that would alert His people to the nearness of His return, Jesus said, "But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs." (Matthew 24:8) As any parent who has gone through the process knows, birth pains increase in frequency and intensity as the time of the big event draws near. They also build to a fever pitch, and then for a time subside. 

We may be on the uphill run to another birth pain stretch in human history. It is fascinating to me how after writing yesterday's entry on the prophetic significance of Israel's war plans against Iran, I find myself compelled to share another report out of Israel with potentially jaw dropping significance. 


Joint drill conducted by IDF and NATO navies in June

We need to be part of EU and NATO Jerusalem Post

The following is the first Jpost blog central post by Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman. It is part of a soon-to-be launched feature that provides prominent politicians from across the political spectrum an opportunity to debate the hot issues on their own personal blog.

In my very first political science lecture in the Hebrew University in the early 1980s, I was taught that international politics were governed by State interests. In all my years in Israeli politics and as a third-time minister, I have yet to see this theory implemented in Israel.

I believe it was Henry Kissinger who once said that Israel has no foreign policy, only domestic. The sad reality of today is that the State of Israel has never defined, and rarely acted in accordance with its national interests. The few examples I can think of include Israel going to war over the Egyptian nationalization of the Suez Canal and restriction of Israeli marine traffic in 1956, the 1981 attack against the Iraqi nuclear facility and the 1995 peace agreement with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

I have recently suggested that it is in Israel's national interest to join the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The world today is a less hospitable place to our democracy. The second half of the twentieth century witnessed a world divided over economic doctrines and political thought. I myself was born in Moldova, a country taken over by the Soviet Union in 1944, and spent my childhood under the rule of a harsh totalitarian regime (until my family made aliya in 1978, when I was 20 years old).

Today's world is dividing over values. On the one side is the free, democratic world, and on the other side is the radical, fundamentalist world. We might have disagreements with Europe and the international community over foreign policy, but we share the same values system that is the target of the radical, fundamentalist war against the West.

The great danger in this global conflict is that we are facing non-rational players. Take Bin Laden for example - there is nothing you can offer him to stop his war against the free world - no amount of money, no piece of territory, no agreement - his goal is to convert the entire world to Islam, or send all infidels to heaven. There is no sense in rationalizing with this kind of enemy.

Not a single Islamic leader - political or spiritual - has condemned the death sentence against Salman Rushdie, and even today he has to live in hiding between London and Paris. Not a single Islamic leader has ever condemned the Taliban's destruction of the Buddha sculptures in Afghanistan. The Muslim world's reaction to cartoons about the prophet Muhammad and to Pope Benedict XVI's speech are irrational.

My goal for Israel is to complete this global re-positioning within the coming five years. This move will send a strong message not only to our enemies, but also to our friends and allies.

 The seven year period of time prior to the return of Jesus  is known as the Tribulation. An amazing prophecy in Daniel 9 tells us of an event that will initiate this final countdown.

Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
      But in the middle of the week
      He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
      And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
      Even until the consummation, which is determined,
      Is poured out on the desolate." (Daniel 9:27)

The Bible tells us that the Antichrist will bring about a temporary peace in the Middle East. He will make a peace treaty with many nations that will be hailed as the solution to this conflict that keeps the world on edge. It will be a false peace, lasting only three and a half years. At that time the Anti christ will double cross Israel, go into the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and proclaim himself God.

Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. (II Thessalonians 2:3-4)

Could this unprecedented suggestion of political and military unification, not just with NATO but also the European Union be a step toward this prophesied peace treaty? Stay tuned!


 

 

Scott's Blog - 1/08/07

Prophecy Update: Iran Goes Nuclear?

And probably not in the way Ahmadinejhad dreams of. 

The Sunday Times January 07, 2007

Revealed: Israel plans nuclear strike on Iran


ISRAEL has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons.

Two Israeli air force squadrons are training to blow up an Iranian facility using low-yield nuclear “bunker-busters”, according to several Israeli military sources.

 The attack would be the first with nuclear weapons since 1945, when the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Israeli weapons would each have a force equivalent to one-fifteenth of the Hiroshima bomb.

Under the plans, conventional laser-guided bombs would open “tunnels” into the targets. “Mini-nukes” would then immediately be fired into a plant at Natanz, exploding deep underground to reduce the risk of radioactive fallout.

“As soon as the green light is given, it will be one mission, one strike and the Iranian nuclear project will be demolished,” said one of the sources.

The plans, disclosed to The Sunday Times last week, have been prompted in part by the Israeli intelligence service Mossad’s assessment that Iran is on the verge of producing enough enriched uranium to make nuclear weapons within two years.

Israeli military commanders believe conventional strikes may no longer be enough to annihilate increasingly well-defended enrichment facilities. Several have been built beneath at least 70ft of concrete and rock. However, the nuclear-tipped bunker-busters would be used only if a conventional attack was ruled out and if the United States declined to intervene, senior sources said.

Israeli and American officials have met several times to consider military action. Military analysts said the disclosure of the plans could be intended to put pressure on Tehran to halt enrichment, cajole America into action or soften up world opinion in advance of an Israeli attack.

Some analysts warned that Iranian retaliation for such a strike could range from disruption of oil supplies to the West to terrorist attacks against Jewish targets around the world.

Israel has identified three prime targets south of Tehran which are believed to be involved in Iran’s nuclear programme:

 

  • Natanz, where thousands of centrifuges are being installed for uranium enrichment

     

  • A uranium conversion facility near Isfahan where, according to a statement by an Iranian vice-president last week, 250 tons of gas for the enrichment process have been stored in tunnels

     

  • A heavy water reactor at Arak, which may in future produce enough plutonium for a bomb

    Israeli officials believe that destroying all three sites would delay Iran’s nuclear programme indefinitely and prevent them from having to live in fear of a “second Holocaust”.

    The Israeli government has warned repeatedly that it will never allow nuclear weapons to be made in Iran, whose president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has declared that “Israel must be wiped off the map”.

  • Will Israel follow through on this plan? 

    Stop and consider that this plan is no longer "secret". 

    If the Times of London was able to uncover this strategy, we had better believe that the MOIS, the Iranian spy agency, has been made well aware of such preparations months ago. It is entirely possible that this is another step forward in the global game of "chicken" between Iran and the West. The message being sent is simple. "Mr. Ahmadinejhad, we have the strategy and the support necessary to blast your nuclear program to bits. We did it to Saddam, and we will do it to you. Back off now, or suffer the consequences."

    The parallels to the Israeli strike on Saddam's Osirak nuclear facility are striking.

    Robert Gates, the new US defence secretary, has described military action against Iran as a “last resort”, leading Israeli officials to conclude that it will be left to them to strike.

    Israeli pilots have flown to Gibraltar in recent weeks to train for the 2,000-mile round trip to the Iranian targets. Three possible routes have been mapped out, including one over Turkey.

    Air force squadrons based at Hatzerim in the Negev desert and Tel Nof, south of Tel Aviv, have trained to use Israel’s tactical nuclear weapons on the mission. The preparations have been overseen by Major General Eliezer Shkedi, commander of the Israeli air force.

    Sources close to the Pentagon said the United States was highly unlikely to give approval for tactical nuclear weapons to be used. One source said Israel would have to seek approval “after the event”, as it did when it crippled Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak with air strikes in 1981.

    In other words, if the world continues to dither, Israel will act. As in 1981, it will be easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

    What light does Biblical prophecy shed on these events? 

    First, Israel will not be destroyed in 6 minutes by an Iranian nuclear attack. Israel will continue to exist as a nation until Christ returns. There is no doubt that the main events of the last days, including the return of Jesus, will take place in re-gathered, reborn national Israel.

    Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people. The nations also will know that I, the LORD, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.” (Ezekiel 37:25-28)

    Second, Iran will have a role to play in the last days. Ezekiel 38:5 identifies them as a supporting part of a coalition of nations lead by Russia, that will invade Israel, only to be supernaturally destroyed by God Himself. (See Scott's Blog 12/13/06) Israel may very well de-fang Iran's nuclear capability as it did to Iraq. But the Satanically inspired hatred of the Jews will continue to grow until this prophesied invasion.

    Third, the increasing political and military pressure of the so-called Global War On Terror will continue to escalate. The ante will be upped as more and more destructive weapons become available to more and more unstable and suicidally oriented movements. The world will be ready to welcome anyone who will provide prosperity and peace at any price. The cry of Revelation 13:4;

    So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?" 

    -will be made with more of a sigh of relief than religious fervor.

    Although these developments are genuinely intimidating, they should not be surprising. As believers in the One Who holds the future and knows the end from the beginning, we should take these events as another reason to look up for our salvation draws nigh.


     

    Scott's Blog - 1/2/07

    While Scott is on vacation, let's review a question originally posted October 25, 2006.

    Excellent Servants/Poor Masters

    What role do our emotions play in our walk with the Lord? Let's open the SRL Mailbag and deal with this issue before it deals with us!

    Hi Pastor Scott,

    "Seek ye first the kingdom of God....."

    To get right to the point, how do you do this? My desire more than
    anything in this world is to know God intimately. I want to feel His
    presence and have my life driven by the Holy Spirit. I've heard you say
    on your broadcast that if we ask God to reveal Himself to us He will. I
    heard you say that the words of the Bible seem to leap off the page at
    you. I feel like a second-class Christian. I don't hear from God or feel
    led by the Spirit. I have enough sense to know and believe that the
    problem does not lie with God but with me. So what am I doing wrong?
    Here's what I think I'm doing right. I read God's Word every night as
    Joshua 1:8 and the first Psalm says to do. I try to the best of my
    ability to live according to His Word. I pray that the Lord will be more
    alive to me. I ask Him to reveal Himself to me and open the eyes of my
    understanding with respect to His Word and truth. I long to know His
    good, acceptable, and perfect will for my life. I know I'm not perfect
    but I'm looking for His perfection to perfect me. So is there a "12 step
    program" to this? There are times I tell myself that He loves me and
    everything will work out and I feel charged up. Then after a while I get
    exasperated and wonder what's going on. I know I'm the soil that hears
    and then is glad momentarily but how do I obtain and maintain that peace
    that surpasses understanding? The last thing I want to do is murmur
    against God but I'm left with questions and (I can't believe I'm saying
    this) He doesn't seem to want to answer. Again I know it has to be me so
    if you could shed some light or if any of your listeners has experienced
    this I would love to hear from them.



    Thanks so much.....Roger

    Thank you so much Roger for raising an issue that can make or break our walk with the Lord!

     I can't tell you how many believers I have met who live their Christian lives on a proverbial roller coaster. In a "Mountain Top" moment of praise and inspired worship they claim to have felt so close to God they thought they could touch Him. But the next day, after coming down with a case of stomach flu, God seems 10,000 light years away, if He exists at all. 

    The issue comes down to this - how do we determine if God is really in our lives? Is it by faith or by feelings?

    Contrary to popular opinion, faith is not an emotion. It is a decision. When we exercise faith in another person, we make decisions based on something we cannot see. It is called character. We can't see character itself, but we can certainly see what it does. And when we see the consistent signs of character demonstrated over time, we invest our faith in this person, confident that this pattern will continue. This is called trust. 

    Trust is the highest and most sincere form of praise possible. Show me what you are willing to trust someone with, and I will show you just how highly you really think of them. This investment of trust, what we call faith, is what a genuine relationship with the Lord is all about.

    Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)

    Notice what sets off this cascade of blessings. It is not a feeling, but a decision to trust God. That decision is something we commit to because we have looked at the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and have concluded He is worthy of our trust. We believe that Jesus lives in us, not because of a feeling, or an experience, but because we trust that He will do as He says.

    Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (Revelation 3:20)

    Notice that Jesus didn't say, "If anyone hears My voice, has an overwhelming emotional experience, and opens the door I will come into him." We respond to His invitation by faith, believing He will do exactly as He says.

    When we walk by faith in His promises, as Romans 5: 1-5 reveals, wonderful emotional experiences of His nearness will follow us. Our problem is we want to follow wonderful emotional experiences and call that a relationship with the Lord.

    It has been said our emotions are excellent servants. They can tell us a lot about what is going on in our hearts. They can show us areas where we are on thin ice spiritually. They can refresh and encourage us to carry on in the Christian life. 

    But it has also been said that our emotions are poor masters. Our feelings aren't necessarily good or bad. They are just our feelings. It's what we do with our feelings that ultimately counts. And I have become convinced that it is precisely those times that we remain faithful in spite of our feelings that will end up being of greatest glory and eternal reward when we see our Savior.

    For more on this crucial subject, follow the link to a talk I recently gave at Calvary Chapel of Albuquerque. I think you will find it a blessing.


     

    Scott's Blog - 1/1/07

    While Scott is on vacation, let's review a question originally posted September 7, 2006.

    God's People and the Palestinians

    "Can't we all just get along?"

    Although that question was first asked following a destructive riot in Los Angeles, it seems to be repeated often these days, particularly when we look at the smoldering powder keg that is the Middle East. 

    A question from the SRL mail bag raises the issue at the core of this conflict that threatens to engulf the entire world.

    I really enjoy listening to your radio program on my way home from work.  I have a Christian friend/Co-worker.  She told me in her spare time lately that she has been doing a lot of reading on the fight in Israel/Palestine.  She said she is starting to believe that the land really does belong to the Palestine.  She asked me where can I direct her in the Bible that states otherwise?

    Stephanie

    Thanks, Stephanie, for raising such a relevant question. To get a grip on this issue we have to go all the way back to the book of Genesis. The term "Promised Land" comes from a blessing God gave to Abraham, the father of the Jewish people.

    I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7 And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. 8 Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God." (Genesis 17:6-8)

    This inherited home land is further defined in Deuteronomy 11:24.

    24 Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the River Euphrates, even to the Western Sea, shall be your territory.

    Some have said that because of their disobedience and rebellion against the Lord, Israel has forfeited the right to the Promised Land. But God Himself tells us this is not the case.

    19 And the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, 20 “Thus says the LORD: ‘If you can break My covenant with the day and My covenant with the night, so that there will not be day and night in their season, 21 then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levites, the priests, My ministers. 22 As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured, so will I multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.’”
    23 Moreover the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, 24 “Have you not considered what these people have spoken, saying, ‘The two families which the LORD has chosen, He has also cast them off’? Thus they have despised My people, as if they should no more be a nation before them.
    25 “Thus says the LORD: ‘If My covenant is not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth, 26 then I will cast away the descendants of Jacob and David My servant, so that I will not take any of his descendants to be rulers over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will cause their captives to return, and will have mercy on them.’" (Jeremiah 33:19-26)

    What we are seeing now in our day is this promise being fulfilled. The Jewish people, miraculously preserved after nearly 1,800 years of exile, are a nation once more. The Bible predicts difficult times ahead for Israel, with enemies seeking their destruction from every side until Jesus returns. (see Zechariah 12) But God will demonstrate His faithfulness to His people and His promises.

    An excellent overview of the historical roots of the current conflict between the Jewish people and the Palestinians can be found at Bible scholar and former TRW board member Chuck Missler's Web Site Koinonia House Online.

    I would also highly recommend a two CD audio set called "Why They Fight - The Story of the Arab/Israel Conflict" by syndicated talk show host Michael Medved.

     

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