Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Will Iran Change with This Treaty?

Congressmen and Congresswomen, while on their long August summer recess, are having the opportunity of reading the recently inked treaty between Iran and the P5+1 nations in Geneva.  They have also had the opportunity of visiting with constituents and hearing how the common American citizen feels about this treat with Iran that will supposedly limit Iran's nuclear capabilities that would lead to the production of a nuclear weapon. 

Iran has become one of the most powerful nations in the world.  It has one of the largest oil reserves in the Middle East.  It has one of the largest standing armies in the Middle East.  It has a strong theocratic government run by its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.  And it is known that Iran is the most prolific exporter of terrorists around the world.  The question that the American people need to be asking of their legislative leaders is: Can Iran be trusted to keep this agreement? 

Let's look at what has been learned since Secretary of State John Kerry affixed his signature to this treaty this past July.  No sooner had the ink been dried than news leaked of several "closed door" decisions that were made between Iran and the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and the United Nations.  One of those decisions, just recently revealed, granted Iran the ability to select its own inspectors for those nuclear sites.  That reminded me of what it might have been like back in our country during the prohibition era.  What if the bootleggers were given the ability to inspect suspected alcohol warehouses?  Do you think their reports would have been honest?  Of course not!  Can we trust Iran to inspect its own nuclear sites?  Of course not! 

Then, just this week, the head of the IAEA stated that his committee was running out of money to hire inspectors for the Iranian nuclear sites, so the sites would be left uninspected.  Now, who do you think gains from that lack of inspection? (

But what I find most disturbing, and should disturb each one of us, is the continued belligerence of Iran toward Israel.  Just yesterday, a senior Iranian official stated that the annihilation of Israel is his country's policy, according to a report from the group The Israel Project.  "Hussein Sheikholeslam, a foreign policy advisor to the speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, said, 'Our positions against the usurper Zionist regime have not changed at all; Israel should be annihilated and this is our ultimate slogan.'"  In other words, Iranian leadership still believes that they exist for the express purpose of completely destroying the nation of Israel - wiping it off the face of the earth. 

Just last week, at least three rockets were fired from Syria into northern Israel, prompting the United States government to issue a warning to America tourists concerning visiting the Upper Galilee and the Golan Heights.  Israeli officials strongly believe that those rockets were fired by Iranian proxies in Syria.  And those same Israeli officials believe that, with the release of $150 billion in frozen assets to Iran with this new treaty, much of that money will be used to provide weapons and supplies to militants in Syria, Lebanon, and the Gaza Strip that Iran is using to conduct its war against Israel. 

Historically treaties have never stopped a nation whose leadership was determined to destroy another.  British Prime Minister Chamberlain's treaty with Adolf Hitler did not bring "peace for our time," but a world war in less than a year.  Friends, from what I have been reading through many different sources, I am convinced that this treaty with Iran does not produce a nuclear-weapons-free Iran, but merely delays that ultimate end by a few years at best.  And then what will happen?  Well, we already have their answer: the annihilation of Israel.  They have made that goal perfectly clear. 

I recently re-read Ezekiel 38 and 39 where that 6th century BC prophet describes an event that will shake the world.  A land known as Magog - recognized by many biblical scholars as referring to ancient Russia - will form a coalition with its neighbors - one of those neighbors is clearly called Persia or Iran.  The purpose of this coalition is to invade Israel to cause its destruction.  From a biblical point of view, it is fascinating to see the relationship between Russia and Iran in this modern day.  One wonders are the foundations for this coalition being laid with an invasion attempt in the very near future?  The intent of this coalition is the annihilation of Israel and the capture of its resources; but God has other plans.  The destroyers become the destroyed.  Those who had been the target of destruction become the recipients of blessing instead. 

So I watch with fascination the debate on the treaty, knowing that ultimately, God will have the final say and I know who will be on the winning side.  Just read Ezekiel 38 and 39 and you will make that discover for yourself. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Lesson from Mark's Story of Jesus about Faith and Family

I want to do something completely different this week.  Yes, I know that there is a lot of news happening - most of it is not very positive, but it is happening nonetheless.  ISIS is still conquering territories and, after those conquest, innocent people are slaughtered - many dying horrific deaths.  Russia and President Putin continue to bully their way with others in Europe, even threatening to renew the Cold War with the United States.  The Iranians are taunting America's leadership because of the treaty just signed which pretty much gave the Iranians everything they were asking for and more.  The Israelis continue feeling the pressures from the rest of the world.  And the economies around the globe are nearing a free-fall, especially now that China has devalued its currency.  And crimes on the street seem to be escalating even to the point of being out of control in some of our major cities.  And there is the continued questions regarding the horrendous actions of Planned Parenthood in selling aborted babies for profit.  And the email scandal that Hillary Clinton finds herself in just grows in magnitude each day threatening her candidacy. 

But this week I want to focus on something from the third chapter in Mark's Gospel.  I have been reading this Gospel in preparation for a special trip to Israel in December with my children and grandchildren.  The Gospel of Mark is one book I always recommend that those traveling to Israel with me read as it shares in a very readable format the story of Jesus.  Many of the places mentioned in Mark's Gospel we will be visiting.  So, I have joined with them in re-reading this book for the "who knows how many times." 

Yet, the other morning as I sat in my chair, Bible in hand, I noticed something in this passage from Mark 3 that I had not seen before.  Let me set the background.  How much time elapses in the events of this chapter, we are not told.  But the busyness of Jesus almost overwhelms our hearts.  The chapter begins with a controversial healing of the man with the shriveled hand - right there in the synagogue - right on the Sabbath.  Oh, that event was an attention-grabber for His critics.  In fact, Mark lets us know that that event began to coalesce two groups that hardly ever spoke to one another: the Pharisees and the Herodians.  Jesus was now a threat to them; He had to be destroyed.

Then there were the multitudes of miraculous healings.  Crowds came from all over the region of Galilee, and even beyond.  It seemed that everyone wanted to have an ailment cured.  The crowds were so intense that, notice Mark says in verse 9, that Jesus instructed His disciples to have a boat ready in case He needed to get away. 

Then there was the "alone time" with those whom He chose to be His disciples.  How long this period of mountainside instruction lasted, Mark does not tell us.  It was probably a "cram course" to be expanded upon during the daily times with Jesus.

That brings us to verse 20 - "Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat."  It reads so matter-of-factly, doesn't it?  Jesus entered into a home in the midst of a crowd that brought with them demands - diseases to heal, demons to expel.  In fact the busyness created a lack of opportunity for Jesus and His disciples to eat - they missed a meal, maybe even a couple of meals.

Verse 21 then follows: "When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, 'He is out of his mind.'"  I had never noticed this before.  After hearing that Jesus was not eating properly, and maybe not even nutritiously, the family becomes incensed.  They declare that Jesus is "out of His mind."  That Jesus needs some serious help.  And so, Mark declares that they go to "take charge of Him."  So, the family of Jesus begins the trek to find Jesus and to bring Him back home because He was not taking care of Himself properly.

Now that brings us to verse 31: "Then Jesus' mother and brothers arrived.  Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him."  The family has arrived at the home where Jesus is staying.,  After their arrival, they let it be known that they were outside waiting for Jesus and they expected Him to come out.  Now, remember what their intentions are: they want to take charge of Jesus because they think He is out of His mind.  Now, what I found so incredulous is that Mark mentions specifically that Jesus' mother was accompanying His brothers.  Doesn't this seem out of place with what we know about Mary - or at least what we assume we know about her?  Knowing what we know about Mary's story, we might have expected her to say something like, "Boys, you need to remember that Jesus is different than you and me.  His purpose in life is entirely different.  I believe Jesus knows what He is about."  Yet, if we read this text carefully, we are led to believe that Mary went along with the plans of her other sons.  Someone needed to step in to protect Jesus from Himself.  Mary's faith was not yet perfected.  Perhaps Mary's faith had stagnated.  We do not know how often Jesus had contact with His mother.  For all we know, when He was driven out of Nazareth, He never returned there, yet we know that Nazareth was still the home of His family.

What was Jesus' response when told that His mother and brothers were outside?  Verses 33-35 read: "'Who are my mother and my brothers?' he asked.  Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers!  Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother!'"  Jesus makes a strong statement that spiritual ties can be closer than physical ties.  Why is this?  Because spiritual ties are grounded upon faith relationships, not upon blood relationships.  And faith is often stronger than blood. 

Friends, as this world continues to grow more evil and we get closer to a world prepared for the Antichrist's reign, how precious become those relationships which we can have with God's children.  Celebrate the Body of Christ by taking a few moments right now and give a word of thanks to the Father for those spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ who are so meaningful to your life.  And ask God to grow you in your faith - that it not become stagnated as was Mary's.  May you have the strong desire to know Jesus Christ and His Father well.   

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Did I Miss Something?!

Last Wednesday I read an article posted by Joseph Farah on the WND website that aroused my anger.  The article is titled, "Farrakhan's Declaration of War."  It can be found at  The article begins: "Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan has declared war on white America.  Did anyone notice?  Did Barack Obama or Attorney General Loretta Lynch notice?  Did I miss the condemnation of Farrakhan's call to violence by this long-time supporter of Obama - a man who once called him 'the Messiah?'"  The unparalleled racial incitement to violence came, shockingly, at a service last Sunday at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Miami.  Citing the Quran as his inspiration, Farrakhan, 82, called for the rising up of an army of 10,000 black male volunteers to kill white Americans.  'Death is sweeter than watching us slaughter each other to the joy of a 400-year old enemy,' he said.  'Death is sweet.  The Quran teaches persecution is worse than slaughter.'  In his fiery speech, Farrakhan said he was looking for '10,000 in the midst of the million ... 10,000 fearless men who say death is sweeter than continued life under tyranny' to retaliate against white Americans because of their alleged oppression of black people.  'Retaliation is a prescription from God to calm the breath of those whose children have been slain,' he said.  'So, if the federal government will not intercede in our affairs, then we must rise up and kill those who kill us.  Stalk them and kill them and let them feel the pain of death that we are feeling.'"

Friends, did you hear anything about this speech on Good Morning, America or Nightly News?  Did you read anything about it in your local newspaper?  Of course not!  Did you hear what this long-time friend of our President just said?  He issued a call for young black men - 10,000 of them - to rise up in a war against white people.   Instead of blacks killing blacks, it is better that blacks kill whites.  Friends, there is no call to investigate Louis Farrakhan.  There is no call for his arrest for creating a national terroristic threat.  Yet let one small-town bakery say that it will not furnish a cake for a same-sex wedding because doing so would violate a religious belief, and the government comes after them for violating someone's rights, fining them and even threatening imprisonment.  Yet, here is a man who can stand in a Baptist Church and declare that the black people in America should declare war on white people in America...and nothing is done. 

On another note, I read another article written by Raymond Ibrahim and found on the Middle East Forum website:  The article begins: "The Obama administration recently made changes to the Oath of Allegiance to the United States in a manner very conducive to Sharia, or Islamic law.  On July 21, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced some 'modifications' to the Oath of Allegiance that immigrants must take before becoming naturalized.  The original oath required incoming citizens to declare that they will 'bear arms on behalf of the United States'; and 'perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States' when required by the Law.  Now the USCIS says that 'a candidate may be eligible to exclude these two clauses based on religious training and belief or a conscientious objection.'"  The article then goes on to state: "These changes serve incoming Islamic supremacists especially well.  For, while Islamic law allows Muslims to feign loyalty to non-Muslim 'infidel' authorities, it bans Muslims from living up to the pretense by actually fighting or killing fellow Muslims on behalf of a non-Muslim entity, such as the United States."  The writer of the article then cites the example of Nidal Hassan, the U.S. army major who went on a terror rampage when he received orders to Afghanistan.  He could not kill another Muslim.  The author closes with these thoughts that should bring alarm: "In short, the first loyalty of any 'American Muslim' who follows the Koran is to fellow Muslims, regardless of their nationality.  It is not to American 'infidels', even if they be their longtime neighbors whom they daily smile to.  Hence why American Muslim Tarik Shah, who was arrested for terrorist-related charges, once boasted, 'I could be joking and smiling [with non-Muslims] and then cutting their throats in the next second'. ... Now, in direct compliance with Islamic law, the Obama administration has made it so that no Muslim immigrating to America need every worry about having to defend her - including against fellow Muslims or jihadis."  Does this news make you feel any safer? 

I keep going back to that passage in Isaiah 5 where the prophet declares, concerning his own day - the times of the 8th century BC - "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter."  Our moral structure has become so corrupted that little structure remains.  Those moral foundations upon which our nation and culture were based have crumbled and are nearing total destruction.  Another passage of Scripture comes to my mind: "When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do? ( Psalm 11:3).  Do we throw up our hands and say, "what's the use?"  Do we cower in despair?  How I love that very next verse: "The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne.  He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them." (Psalm 11:4). 

Friends, isn't great to know that our God is still seated on His throne in glory?  The actions of the Louis Farrakhans' of this world do not intimidate Him one iota.  He does not become discouraged when He sees the vanity of men.  And because He is on the throne, I might become angry at what is happening around me, but I do not become depressed.  Because He is on the throne, I might raise my voice in strong objections to decisions that are made, but I still remember that God has said, "You are more than conquerors through him who loved you" (Romans 8:37). 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Of Lions and Babies

When was the last time a lion dominated the news?  And a dead lion at that?  Wow!  The death of Cecil the Lion has heralded the front pages of newspapers around the country.  His death has been the topic of investigative reports from all the major mainstream news sources.  The life of the Minneapolis dentist, who shot the lion legally while on a hunt in Africa, has been threatened.  His business has been shattered; his home vandalized; his name has become tarnished.  And what was his crime: he went on a big game hunt and shot a lion.  This lion, although protected within a national reserve in Zimbabwe, was, nonetheless, free to roam wherever he wished.  Once he crossed the boundaries of that protected reserve, he was subject to the hunt.  We must remember that this lion, although he had a name, was nonetheless, not a pet of someone, but a wild beast.  And so the lion died. 

Let me ask you: one lion was shot - how many black teenagers have been murdered on the streets of Chicago just this past week?  How many murders have occurred in the city of Baltimore this past year?  There is little outrage when our teens kill one another.  There is little outrage when black gang members in Chicago kill one another in gang warfare, and if a small child is caught in the cross-fire, well, it is just a casualty of the gang violence.  Hardly major news.  But kill a lion - and the world becomes over-wrought with anger.

Let me ask you another question: one lion was shot - how many babies are aborted every day?  And now we are learning of the awful details of how the abortions are done so as to create a profit for those who market in aborted body parts.  Just yesterday another video was released where a discussion was held that declared that fully-intact aborted babies bring a higher price than those whose bodies are crushed.  And yet there is hardly any outrage expressed by the mainstream media.  Certainly not worthy of the front page - as was the death of Cecil the lion.  Certainly not worthy of any special investigative reporting; in fact, the mainstream media has greatly maligned the nonprofit organization that has exposed the practices of Planned Parenthood.  Now, if it were a lion, instead of a baby, that was being killed - perhaps more attention would be given. 

Now I am not a hunter nor ever aspired to be a hunter.  And I have a very strong aversion to those who poach any animal for profit - whether it is killing deer illegally here in Minnesota or elephants in Africa.  But those who choose to hunt legally should not be threatened.  They have a right to hunt - whether it is pheasants, deer, moose, or lions. 

Finally, I want to share an article that I read yesterday, written by Bob Unruh, and posted at:  I was not surprised at the details that emerged within this article.  I have stated often that the push of the gay-rights organization was not the freedom to marry whomever they wanted, but to destroy the Christian teachings that opposed them.  The article concerns a lawsuit filed against a Christian county employee in Kentucky for declining to issue a marriage license for a same-sex couple.  "Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has declined to issues the licenses because it would violate her First Amendment rights to practice her faith. ... Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, which is representing Davis, said that despite, 'the opinion of five black-robed lawyers, the Constitution still governs the United States, and the First Amendment guarantees Kim and every American the free exercise of religion.' ... In a response brief to the ACLU's request for an order targeting the clerk's religious rights, Liberty Counsel said the case is 'a thinly veiled attempt at deeming her religious conscience meaningless and punishing her for even asserting a religious objection to authorizing SSM.  In fact, these plaintiffs sought licenses from Davis only after learning of her religious objections to SSM, and they refuse to obtain a license elsewhere.' ... They want, the court filing explains, 'to induce irreversible and substantial harm to the religious conscience of Davis.'  'If Davis' religious objection cannot be accommodated under the circumstances of this case, then elected officials have no real religious freedom when they take public office,' Staver warned."  The article concludes with a quote from Justice Samuel Alito, made after the Court's decision in favor of same-sex marriage: "Alito said it 'usurps the constitutional right of the people to decide whether to keep or alter the traditional understanding of marriage.  The decision will also have other important consequences.  It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.  In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women. The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.'" 

Friends, those who strongly support the gay-rights agenda, have to attack Christians, the Church, and the Scriptures.  Every Christian reminds them that their decision to be gay is a wrong choice.  The only way to avoid the guilt is to either humiliate or eliminate those who oppose that position you have chosen.  And the attack upon Christians in the public place, whether in business, the school, or in government, is going to increase. 

Friends, on so many fronts, it is time for the followers of Jesus Christ to rise up and stand united upon the truths found within the Word of God.  Dialogue - yes; compromise - never!  Those words of Jude 3 still grab my heart: We are to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.  That is what God desires of us.  May we do this well.