Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Norway - A Wake-Up Call

The world was shocked this past weekend with the terrorist acts in Norway. As with all acts of terror there was much about these acts that defy our understanding. And we keep learning more about the perpetrator of those acts.

Anders Behring Breivik is a 32-year old Norwegian right-wing extremist. For the past nine years he plotted an attack that would stir Europeans into action against the growing Muslim influence in Europe. Over the course of that time he wrote a 1500 page manifesto that detailed how he believed the Muslims had invaded Europe with the intent of overthrowing governments and creating a Muslim state. He had watched as nation after nation had seemingly capitulated to the demands of those immigrants, some even adopting the Shariah law that the Muslims had advocated. He believed it was only through an act of war such inroads could be stopped.

Twice before in history the European took up arms to stop an advance of Islam. The first was on October 10, 732 at the Battle of Tours (France) where the Frankish army under Charles Martel defeated the larger Muslim force. Historians recognize this battle as one of the great turning points of history. It literally stopped the seemingly unstoppable advance of Islam into Europe. As a consequence of that battle, the Muslims retreated back into Spain and then eventually into Northern Africa. The second was on September 12, 1683 at the Battle of Vienna where, after a two-month besiegement by the Ottoman Turks, an army of Central European powers defeated the Turks, thus saving Europe once again.

Anders Breivik believed that it would take another act of war to turn the tide of Europe against the subtle Muslim invasion. As his lawyer stated yesterday, Mr. Breivik knew what he did, but believes himself to be innocent because it was an act of war.

Throughout Europe we are beginning to see the eyes of European leaders being opened to the threat that the expansive Islamic immigration has brought. Switzerland has banned the construction of minarets. France has banned the wearing of burkhas. Other nations are following suit. Earlier this year the German Chancellor Merkel stated that the German experiment with diversity had not worked. Perhaps it is too little too late - only time will tell.

You remember those words of Jesus as He described the conditions of the last days. He said that there would be "wars and rumors of war." When we think of wars we usually think of Iraq and Afghanistan. But what of the psychological warfare between the East and the West. But what of the economic warfare between the haves and the have nots. But what of the strategic warfare for power and control. I know you will say, "But, Max, these have been going on for centuries; they are as old as man himself." True, but I am not certain we have seen the intensity of such warfare literally encircle the globe - at least not since the days of World War II.

It is time to awaken out of our apathy both as a nation and as a Church. It is time to focus upon what is right and what is wrong; and, if we are not certain as how to discern between them, then we need to get back into the Word of God and make that discernment. It is time to "Wake Up!" and then to "Stand Up!"

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Financial Storm Gets More Intense

I have a friend who is in the financial planning business. He is also a strong student of the Scriptures, particularly of the end times. Dennis and I have shared in many over-lunch discussions on the prevailing economic morass that the world is facing. Because of his business relationships, Dennis reads extensively from financial reports around the globe.

Well, this week I read an article written by Caroline Glick. She is the managing editor of the "Jerusalem Post" and her articles often appear in some of the leading US papers, as well as on the conservative website: This particular article appeared on July 18. The article was titled, "Caution: Storm Approaching." I would like to share just a few thoughts from this article.

Glick first focuses upon the economic condition of Egypt that grows more desperate by the moment. Since the revolution of January/February, Egypt's wealthy elite as well as foreign investors are taking their money out of the Egyptian economy and investing it elsewhere. This "capital flight" is happening throughout the Arab world, but affecting Egypt and Syria most directly. (That is because neither country has any oil to export). She quotes from an article by David Goldman and published in the "Asia Times Online" that states: "There is a capital flight and $500 million a week are leaving the Arab world....Most of the capital flight is coming from Egypt, and at an annual rate roughly equal to Egypt's remaining reserves." The bottom line is this: Egypt will soon be broke financially and unable to feed its starving people. Some analysts believe Egypt could begin defaulting on its loans as early as the end of this year.

Then there is the situation in Syria. President Assad is spending a lot of his country's reserves to pay for political loyalty and to protect the Syrian currency. Even if Assad survives and remains in power, financially his country is nearing the edge of the precipice.

And, of course, there is the situation in Greece. In spite of severe austerity movements by the Greek Parliament, one wonders if the seemingly inevitable can be avoided. If the Italian government goes into default, and it is perilously close, the ramifications for both the United States and European banking systems will be devastating. Then there are the economic woes of Ireland, Portugal, and Spain. The Germans and British have assumed overwhelming debt loads of other nations and are now in peril themselves.

Then Glick makes reference to the financial challenges here in the States. The current United States debt level stands at 98% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Many of the European countries debt level is over 100% of GDP. According to Glick, an American commitment to more tax-and-spend policies can only have dramatic and drastic implications. We simply cannot keep changing credit cards and hope that the inevitable day of reckoning will never come.

In contrast, there is the Israeli economy. She writes, "Israel is likely to find itself in the unlikely position of standing along China and India as among the only stable, growing economies in the world." I had read elsewhere that Israel's economy was expected to grow at an annual rate of over 6% this year - one of the best growth rates in the world. God has not forsaken His people even though they are still in a condition of unbelief. That is because He still has a plan and purpose for them to accomplish.

Friends, I don't believe that either the American or the world economic conditions will change for the better any time soon. For too long we have put our confidence as people into the financial resources we have. I am reminded of these words from the ancient prophet Zephaniah, who wrote concerning the days before the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. His words still have meaning today: "Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the LORD's wrath." (Zephaniah 1:18). The tottering world economies are another reminder that our hope is to be built - not on stocks and bonds, or on bank accounts and IRA's - but on Jesus Christ. He alone is our solid Rock.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Crisis In Leadership: Where Is It Heading?

I find it absolutely fascinating how God is preparing the world for a coming one-world leader - one who, according to the Scriptures, will be full of empty promises of peace and prosperity that people will quickly gravitate toward.

Last week I was in a conversation with a friend of mine and we were talking about the stalemate here in Minnesota that has led to a two-week shut down of many governmental services. Both the Republican-controlled legislature and the Democratic governor seem to have hunkered down for a long and protracted stalemate. The members of the legislature, many of whom were newly elected last fall, have heard the cry of needing to balance state spending with the revenue sources available - sort of like what you and I have to do with our families. That does not mean that we don't borrow money occasionally, but only after considering how those borrowed funds would be repaid. And the governor wants to increase taxes, howbeit only a small percentage of the Minnesota population, but also increase entitlement spending that will cause future deficits down the road. Where are the leaders?

Then one looks at the political maneuvering being done in Washington. Does it really make sense to raise the debt-limits when we are having trouble paying the debts we already have incurred as a nation? As my friend and I talked, where is the leadership?

Now look at the crises in Europe. Greece - near to default, only postponed because the government finally took drastic measures to enable it to get more money; but the people are in revolt. Italy - now joining Spain, Portugal, and Ireland as being ready to collapse monetarily. Who will step forward as leaders?

As I continue my study of the Scriptures, I only see this getting progressively worse, friends. I no longer believe that there will any "Happy Days" appearing on the scene. Like those in ancient Rome, we have become too accustomed to the "free bread" and the entitlements we believe we should have. Rome perished because of its excesses in government and because it lacked leadership. The stories of the last emperors of the Roman Empire are pitiful to read.

Bottom line, friends, the world is looking for someone to step forward, take the "bull by the horns" and give leadership. When such a person steps forward, he will be so persuasive that the people will literally follow him into hell. Such will be the person of the Antichrist. All these impasses in governments around the globe today, I believe, are merely indicators that we are getting closer to the curtain rising on the Devil's man. But, praise God, he will have term-limits! Then the eternal King will come and all will be well.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Independence Day Revisited

This past week our nation celebrated its 235th anniversary. Much has happened. Our country has come a long way since those days when 55 men, meeting in Philadelphia, signed their names to a document declaring independence from Great Britain. That document - the Declaration of Independence - is among the most significant in the world.

This year I have been reading through William Bennett's "The American Patriot's Almanac." (By the way, I highly recommend this for anyone who has an interest in history). The insights and stories for each day have brought new meaning to being an American. I would like to share with you what he wrote for July 5. Dr. Bennett quoted from a speech that President Calvin Coolidge gave on July 5, 1926 in Philadelphia commemorating the 150th anniversary of the writing of the Declaration. I was moved by what President Coolidge said. Read through it carefully:

Our forefathers came to certain conclusions and decided upon certain courses of action which have been a great blessing to the world....They were a people who came under the influence of a great spiritual development and acquired a great moral power.

No other theory is adequate to explain or comprehend the Declaration of Independence. It is the product of the spiritual insight of the people. We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren scepter in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshiped.

Did you hear what President Coolidge said? The Declaration of Independence is really a spiritual document. It was written by men who had a spiritual purpose about them. And that the success we have enjoyed as Americans over the years has been because of these spiritual roots that have held our nation together these many years. People, especially political leaders, do not talk like that any more. Seldom is any reference made to God, except at the close of a speech with those perfunctory words, "God bless America." In fact, it seems that we are doing everything possible to eliminate all references to God from our history and from our contemporary culture. I think if President Coolidge were here today he might say to us, "It is time to return to those roots that made our nation what it truly was. It is time to get back to those principles of faith that guided our founding fathers." Sadly that does not seem to be the language our politicians share today.

Friends, God cannot bless America if our nation's leaders and educators continue their bent to walk as far away as possible from those principles of biblical truth. The day will soon come when God will deal with us as He dealt with Israel of old - we will be ruined from forces from the outside but not before we have been ruined from forces within. It is time to wake up and to heed those words of 2 Chronicles 7:14.