Thy Word – Sound interpretational principles

Reading God’s word… A gentle admonition

A wonderful gentleman by the name of Ed Ferner once gave me some simple but sage advice that I will pass along. “The Scripture was written FOR us but it was not written TO us.” As obvious as that sounds it has made the Scriptures alive for me in ways that I never would have dreamed. I found that it is imperative to view Scripture through the eyes of those that it was written to and it’s helpful to read the Scripture with the full knowledge that we are reading someone else’s mail. If we are faithful in this regard, we will, through the power of the Holy Spirit who resides within, unlock truths in God’s word that have escaped us & so many countless others for generations.  Bold you say? Yes.  Arrogant? I don’t think so.  Possible? Absolutely!

I always assumed that the early church fathers who we revere so much, had each been given a special key into the mysteries of God.  In my opinion this mediator-type system’s vestiges had their beginnings in a state controlled church where the Word was not entrusted to the “masses”.  Now more than ever we have the tools available to study God’s word that even the elite scholars of the 3rd century simply didn’t have.

We have access to the entire Bible in 40 translations from Arabic to Russian at the stroke of a mouse click. We can search the Scripture for every usage of “The kingdom of God” in less than a second. We can scan through the exhaustive writings of Josephus in the blink of an eye. And we can no longer be confused by the Scofield’s of this world if they tweak their notes by misinterpreting the Greek.

For example Scofield attempted to use the Greek word genos as “generation” in Matthew 24:34. An oversight we hope but if used properly as genea this would have been a huge nail in the coffin of his dispensational system. Jesus said,Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Genos (1085 Strong’s Greek) means offspring, stock, kin or a people. The correct word, Genea (1074 Strong’s Greek), means an age, generation or time.   As you can see the meaning of the verse changes drastically with this small error and we no longer are held captive to these kinds of mistakes be they intentional or accidental.

Although we have the technological advantages over the early church fathers, we lack something that we must make up for.  And that’s proximity to the source.  They had an understanding of the times & culture associated with the writers of the Scripture that we lack.  Our westernized mind is a huge stumbling block to proper interpretation.  Therefore, we must go back to our spiritual roots for it is only through a study of the historical setting that we can begin to grasp the Word in context.

If we extract the contents of Paul’s letter to the Galatians or John’s Revelation to the expectant believers, and put those words into a 21st century context, we will not ascertain the full meaning of what these writers were attempting to share with their readers.  Audience relevance is absolutely critical.

In Acts chapter 2 verses 16-21, what was Peter’s explanation to those present at the Day of Pentecost regarding the supernatural abilities of the unschooled Galileans (who were speaking in the many languages of those present)? Peter begins to quote Joel, “in the last days…” and then proceeds to give a list of things that would happen in the time of the end.

Most of us extract those words “last days” and transport them in a time machine 2,000 years future into the year 2007 and we assume that we are living in the “last days”. Is this what the passage says? Only if we forget the Biblical hermeneutic of audience relevance.

Therefore, it is imperative that we put on our 1st century glasses when we read the words of the apostles. Without a working knowledge of the times, customs & settings we will never uncover the truth & we will continue to be frustrated with an inability to make sense of God’s word.  And this will ultimately result in apathy regarding our zeal to read His word.

A good friend,  Pastor James Saxon, used to say time & again that we must interpret the unclear in the light of that which is clear.  When the Scripture uses terms like, at hand, shortly, soon, in a little while, it is imperative that we don’t assign an arbitrary vagueness to these words of imminency.  That will do great damage to the context of these passages of God’s holy inspired word.

When reading these time sensitive statements we must not allow our minds to become clouded and misapply a verse such as 2Pet 3:8, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years”. We must be both intellectually honest and consistent. For when Jesus says, “I shall be with you a little while longer, and then I go to Him who sent Me” is he not referring to a short time period? Then when we read in Hebrews, “For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry“, do we change the meaning of “a little while” to fit our long held presuppositions? If we don’t consistently apply word meanings then we are in danger of remaking the Scripture to fit a preconceived paradigm. This is known as eisogesis I.e. reading our biases into the text. At the very least this method sets our feet on very dubious interpretational territory.

Approximately 500 years before fulfillment, the prophet Daniel was told to “seal up the vision” for it was “many days in the future” at the “time of the end“.  Yet in John’s Revelation he was told, “do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near“.  This is truly a remarkable contrast.


So how can pastors and Bible students believe with any degree of  intellectual honesty, that Daniel’s sealed vision prophesied to take place “many days in the future” (approx. 600 years to fulfillment) be significantly shorter than the unsealed Revelation’s contention that the “time is near” (which is supposedly almost 2,000 years and counting)?  Do you see the glaring problem? We would never consider performing this kind of word gymnastics with any other form of literature, but when it comes to the inspired, inerrant Word of our Creator, we seem to discard reason. Why?  Because of the expectations created by our paradigm.

Put yourself in the place of the disciples when Jesus said, “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” and “Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” Do you think the hearers of those words took Jesus seriously? At the very least, do we not find it rather disingenuous and downright misleading to utter these types of time indicators if in fact they are actually coded so that only someone 2,000 years future can decipher them? (In my opinion, treating the Scriptures in this manner lends credibility and acceptance to blasphemous books like the Da Vinci Code.)

Would we not be put-off by being told to “flee to the mountains“, scaring us half out of our minds, if this admonition is meant for a generation thousands of years hence?   Can we trust Jesus for our salvation if we cannot rely on Him to do the things he said he would do in the time He said he would do them? C.S. Lewis apparently didn’t have a problem with this when he wrote,

“Say what you like,” we shall be told, “the apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, ‘this generation shall not pass till all these things be done.’ And he was wrong.” He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else.

C.S. Lewis was being honest and for that he should be commended. However, it is quite sad that even this great stalwart of the faith had no hermeneutical grid with which to effectively understand these prophetic passages.

Take heart. Jesus didn’t delude anyone and neither did the NT writers. There is a theological system that can effectively answer the tough questions that the many like C.S. Lewis were not able to deal with. In fact we can make sense of New Testament statements of imminence while increasing our reverence for the inspired Word. We can know that Jesus meant exactly what he said and that He fulfilled his predictions in the exact time sequences in which they were stated.  We don’t have to hide from the atheistic, Judaistic, or Islamic websites and proselytizers as they incessantly trot out Jesus’ Words per Matthew 24:34, Matthew 10:23, and Matthew 16:27-28 in an attempt to discredit Scripture.

However, in order to do this it is imperative that we set our presuppositions aside and be open to what the Scripture teaches regardless of the implications.  For most of us a rather seismic paradigm shift is in order—and process can result in periods of uneasiness and uncertainly. For a season, every answered question may find two taking its place. But I can attest that there is in fact a light at the end of the tunnel—it’s Jesus in all His revealed glory!

A type of Biblical language that seems to create a great deal of confusion and consternation is the recurrent use of figurative speech. In order for us to begin to understand God’s plan throughout history we must effectively recognize apocalyptic language and metaphoric speech while allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture. We see this kind of writing in Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and even in the Psalms. Upon first glance we are prone (by our westernized 21st century mindset) to take the words of Daniel 8:10 literally—“and some of the host and some of the stars it threw down to the ground and trampled on them.In 1837 Adam Clark referencing the above verse wrote, “The destruction of the Jews by Antioch Epiphanes, is represented by casting down some of the host of heaven, and the stars to the ground.” Daniel is not speaking of the dissolution of a planet but the judgment of a nation. So when we read this same type of language in the Second Testament we must not change our interpretational grid.

Have you ever asked or been asked the following question… Should God’s Word be taken literally or figuratively? The truth is that it must be interpreted both ways. A great obstacle that we must overcome is that our westernized mind is so far removed from the times when Peter dropped his nets into the Sea of Galilee. Surely when we read, “For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills” we realize that God isn’t saying that the thousandth and one hill is up for grabs. Or when Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”, we don’t get the picture of a supernatural construction company of angels working around the clock for 3 days building a temple more marvelous than the one that was destroyed.  Did they get it? Did they think he was speaking literally?  No, they didn’t have a clue & yes, they interpreted His statement literally just like we oftentimes do today.

The complexity has been interjected by theologians who refuse (like first century Jews) to recognize that His coming was far different than expected.  The Jews anticipated a political warrior prince who could physically vindicate them from the bondage of Roman tyranny.  He was rejected because He did not meet their expectations.  Instead He came as a suffering servant offering the forgiveness of sins, not as some sort of temporal respite but of eternal consequence.  In Acts 1:6 they still didn’t get it even after the resurrection.  They said, Lord will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?  It was never about physical earthly rule as Jesus pointed out to the woman at the well in John 4.   Jesus said, Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father….23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

That’s why they missed Him the first time.  Their physical expectations didn’t meet God’s spiritual intentions. Have we repeated the same mistake a second time?  (I thought a little repetitive redundancy was in order)

Many warn us against “spiritualizing” too many texts but don’t think it doesn’t happen often in all forms of eschatological systems. Those that claim to be literalists have equated the locusts mentioned in Revelation 9 to Cobra helicopters.

So he who is without figurative language cast the first stone of heresy. It is quite obvious that all Scripture cannot be taken literally. So the question shouldn’t be whether to use a consistent literal or figurative hermeneutic—it should be a question of when.

For example: When we read “All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from the fig tree”, how do we interpret these words? In our 21st century mindset most of us think that this is a prediction of the destruction of the earth at the end of time. Let’s take a closer look. This prophecy was uttered by Isaiah in chapter 34 verse 4 and is clearly announcing the desolation of Bozrah the capital of Edom late in the sixth century BC. This is judgment language as referenced above in Daniel 8 & it’s quite clear that it can’t be taken literally since we are still make earth our temporal residence.  As I sidebar, read Isa 13 & 34, Micah 1, Nahum 1, Ezek 32, & Psalm 18

So when we come to passages with similar language in the New Testament like that of Acts 2:16-21, Matt 24:29, 2Pet 3:10-12, or Rev 6:12-14 are we going to be consistent in our interpretation?  How do you think the people living in the first century viewed this type of language? (Lest we forget—it’s certainly worth noting that no one had the benefit of a pocket New Testament tucked neatly in their tunic pocket or resting prominently on their nightstand.)

Let’s look at Caiaphas’ response to Jesus’ declaration that, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven”.  It says, “He has spoken blasphemy”! It’s quite evident that Caiaphas fully understood this type of apocalyptic language of “coming on the clouds”.   Only God came on the clouds! This is referenced repeatedly in the Old Testament—The oracle concerning Egypt; Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud and is about to come to Egypt; The idols of Egypt will tremble at His presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within themIsa 19:1

 And let’s not let the word “you” in Matthew 26 escape our notice. Jesus said, “YOU will see…” as he was speaking directly to Caiaphas.  Nothing like dropping a bombshell on our eschatological paradigm!

The Word of God is the unfolding of the Greatest Story Ever Told and we do it great disservice by compartmentalizing its contents as though we are reading hundreds of different unrelated stories.   We separate the Old and New Testament like it was some sort of God-ordained division when in fact we can see Christ clearly on page after page of the Old Testament.

The plan of redemption is clear from Genesis to Revelation.  God has always been sovereign & his plans were not & can not be thwarted. His plan has been unfolding throughout history with the precision of a Swiss watchmaker. It has always been by faith and never by our own effort that has given us acceptance before a perfect & holy God.

The New Covenant didn’t abolish the Old – it fulfilled and completed it. The Old Covenant was merely an imperfect shadow. Christ’s work of redemption on the cross & His coming in judgment 40 years later in AD 70 (against a wicked & perverse generation) was the perfect fulfillment of that which had been foretold & so masterfully weaves God’s new with the old when he writes, “…A new covenant”, He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. It was growing old & it did in fact vanish with the destruction of the temple & the entire sacrificial system in those horrible days of tribulation as Titus obliterated Jerusalem. Prophecy was indeed fulfilled but yet since many of us know so little about history, sadly those still waiting for a future fulfillment seem more numerous than the grains of sand in the Sahara.

Since this Old Covenant passed away, we now worship God in spirit and in truth and no longer are we constrained to meet God in boxes or buildings since we are now the temple of the Holy Spirit. For we are the New Jerusalem which comes from above & we are joint heirs with Abraham in the Kingdom of God which has come. We have not replaced Israel but become partakers in the promise. Nationality, circumcision, obedience nor any outward manifestations of our humanity would ever become a pleasing aroma in God’s holy & perfect kingdom. It was by faith then & it is by faith now that we enter God’s eternal peace.

God is never forced by man’s rebellion to resort to alternate plan B’s, C’s, or D’s. And it is with this backdrop that we study God’s word with the confidence that through the Spirit’s illumination that we can understand the mystery of God.

Our God is in complete control and He shall reign forever & ever, Amen!

So when we read the Scripture we will do well to consider the fact that although the Scripture was written for our benefit it was not written directly TO US.  If we do not understand a passage in the light of the original audience then we find ourselves making unintended application.  Audience relevance is the key to unlocking the mysteries of the faith. “and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things;” Eph 3:9

I would highly recommend Frank Turek’s “Cross Examined” podcast and specifically this one regarding “There are no verses in the Bible.” Frank gives a number of very helpful “how not to interpret the Bible” tips, some of which is discussed above.

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Plagiarius to Martial – kidnapping words…

In Pastors, Sermons And Plagiarism In The Internet Age, Sarah Pullham Baily wondered how plagiarism was/is affecting modern day pulpits. She wrote, “Recent cases of high-profile pastors who have been accused of lifting others’ material are raising questions about whether pulpit plagiarism is on the rise — and whether it has become a more forgivable sin.”

An unknown pastor

Well, let’s first ask what is it and when did it originate? Norton/Write explains:

The word plagiarism has a curious history. It is derived from the Latin plagiarius—literally, a kidnapper who ensnares children or slaves in a plaga (net). The Roman poet Martial (40-102 AD), fiercely protective of his literary creations, was the first to apply the word plagiarius to someone who stole his words with false claims of authorship.

This entered the English language as “plagiary,” and then, in the seventeenth century, plagiarism, as the theft of words became a more and more widespread problem amidst the burgeoning culture of books and literacy made possible by the printing press. Something can be “stolen,” of course, only if it can be owned in the first place—and so naturally the modern concept of plagiarism grew up alongside the development of copyright law and the status attached to authorship and originality.

I found Baily’s article interesting if not rather disturbing. There seems to be a wide variety of reactions to it. Some pastors found guilty of plagiarism have been fired while others have, for whatever reason, been elevated to positions of greater scope and responsibility. Clearly it’s not the be-all-end-all sin, but what jettisoned Joe Biden from 1988 presidential contention appears to be on the rise within the Christian community and, in my view, this is not a healthy trend.

So determining how to wade through one’s moral obligations in this changing digital world (both as a hearer/reader and a speaker/author) is clearly a complex task. Most of us have probably been guilty of some level of plagiarism either intentionally or not, but perhaps simply because its a practice common should not give us license to disregard abuse, especially if it’s blatant and premeditated.

Most of us have few original thoughts (I guess I should speak for myself). We glean the majority from others and are most often not even cognizant from whence an idea came.  The question is, should there be a different level of accountability during daily conversations and those who dispense knowledge from pulpits, lecture halls and print/digital media? In the normal discourse of everyday life we effectively become conduits of the burgeoning information overflow. So my question is, should the standard be the same as for pastors, teachers and speakers who may only appear to be delivering fresh content?

In other words, should there be a different level of scrutiny for our general conversations where we might hear something interesting and pass it along having no clue of its origin, and the speaker/author who intentionally takes the words of others (perhaps written in an online blog or used in a sermon) and pretends that they are his or her own?  And is this latter offense worthy of concern?

In this cyber age, protecting intellectual property is going to become a greater and greater concern. In daily interactions it would be nearly impossible and downright cumbersome to cite our sources and stopping every few sentences to use finger quotation gestures, would be very awkward. Not only that but quite frankly, recalling, on-the-fly, specific sources in our melting pot minds, would be nearly impossible.

That said, if I’m reading a book that provides the brunt of my ideas and during daily discourse I pass them off in a way that makes it appear that they are original thoughts, would that be somewhat dishonest? Clearly I wouldn’t have broken any copyright laws but wouldn’t it be more honorable to at least mention the book, article or lecture where an idea was culled.

Now, in the matter of public speaking and authorship, there are already laws in place to protect private property. So, would it not be wise in the Christian community to at least match that standard of expected conduct?

Some of the articles I’ve read on this subject or those I’ve interacted with, have suggested that plagiarism isn’t wrong unless and until the plagiarizer benefits monetarily. Let’s say a pastor or motivational speaker has enjoyed increased stature by using other people’s words, and therefore has benefited from the substantive growth in his/her online presence or overall popularity and notoriety … and if this amplified regard and visibility is ultimately parlayed into greater income, doesn’t this indirectly meet the criteria for monetary gain? And if that is the case, even if there is no direct tangible profitability i.e. through selling a book with plagiarized content, that would not absolve the guilty party would it?

We’re all keenly aware of the group Milli Vanilli and their brush with success. If you recall they tumbled from their pedestal when their lip-syncing was uncovered. In reality, all they did was pretend to sing songs. And people really enjoyed their act. So why was there such outrage?

They didn’t actually steal the voices of others. The vocalists signed contracts to provide the voices for what became Milli Vanilli, so there was no ambiguity in this arrangement. The producer hired both the lip-syncers and vocalists and forbid anyone from divulging their secret. But as we well know, “conspiracies” don’t remain such for long.

At any rate, have you ever wondered why there was such brouhaha over a situation where no one was essentially stealing anything or violating copyright laws?

Interestingly, one of the men whose voice was being used said he felt bittersweet about the stardom achieved by Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan (the actors comprising Milli Vanilli). Knowing that the very substance of his voice had been parlayed into the #1 single in the world made him proud but at the time it caused some regret. In the interview highlighted at the above link, he said, “You have two sides. One side you feel good because you saying my voice done made it, #1 worldwide. But you still sittin’ in the back and sayin’ ‘that’s not what I really wanted’. I wanted to make it.”

So again, why were these men publicly shamed and humiliated? They didn’t hurt anyone and the ones whose voices they lip synced had agreed to the entire arrangement. Perhaps it was because people felt deceived. The world had become infatuated with Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus, but it was all based upon smoke and mirrors. They were not who they and their producer represented them to be, and apparently that deception was not appreciated.

Could these men have ever become stars without using the voices of others? Clearly not. Could the vocalists have become stars in their own right without the look and persona of these actors? Probably not. Well, then, shouldn’t the same question be asked of pastors and teachers who do the same?

In Finding Forester, Jamaal Wallace, a brilliant kid from the ghetto, attended a very prestigious private school. After entering a marvelous piece of pros into a school writing contest he encountered severe scrutiny. As it turned out, Jamaal had merely begun with a few words from something his famous mentor had written. Though the overwhelming majority of his paper was of his own creative imagination, the fact that he plagiarized the first few lines was of such grave concern that it almost caused his expulsion.

In the pivotal scene of confrontation between Jamaal and his very critical teacher (a writer wannabe very jealous of Jamaal’s mentor’s success), Jamaal was justly accused of plagiarism. As it turned out, the few words that he ‘borrowed’ to begin his paper had been part of an article that appeared in the New Yorker! But the point is that even the use of those few words created a firestorm. As we learned earlier in the movie, a mitigating circumstance was that his famous mentor/author/ friend was the one who actually encouraged him (Jamaal) to be begin the flow and cadence of writing by starting with his mentor’s words. The caveat was that no writing that took place in the apartment of his friend and writing coach, Mr. Forester (Sean Connery), was to leave the premise.  That violation nearly cost Jamaal his scholarship.

That wonderfully heartwarming scene is captured below. But the point is that lifting words and pretending them to be one’s own was determined to be a very serious offense.

In Good Will Hunting, an arrogant condescending Harvard student was trying to impress a female student in a bar by embarrassing a kid (Ben Affleck) from the hood who was trying to pretend to be well educated. This Harvard man was resoundingly outed when Affleck’s well-read janitor friend from Southey (Matt Damon) began finishing this Harvard kid’s quotes while citing the commensurate authors. This was the ultimate putdown because the Harvard guy was trying to make it look like he was being original, when in fact this impressive spewing of platitudes was nothing more than a regurgitating of other famous people’s thoughts. He was trying to create the illusion that he was basically somebody that he was not.

Along the same line as using the ideas of others, it appears to be a growing trend for pastors to purchase sermons from sermon outlets. Is there anything inherently dishonest about this practice? Scot McKnight in “Plagiarizing Sermons” identifies a number of underlying problems with this practice. There are a number of factors not the least of which is borrowing personal illustrations and sharing them in the first person as if they were the experiences of the pastor.

Now, it appears that no copyright laws are being broken since these sermons are sold with the creator’s full blessing. But again, we’re confronted with this idea of deception. Does the pastor leave the impression (intentionally or not) that his sermons are personally crafted?  The parishioner mistakenly concludes that the pastor has spent hours of study in order to develop the convictions and salient points laid out in the sermon.

And it logically follows that there would be greater esteem for puppeteers developing fresh content than the pastor who bought his or her message. I am not insinuating that this is an illegitimate or unethical practice but I am attempting to make the point that if the congregation is unware that a sermon is canned, it may be somewhat deceptive. What would be wrong with saying something like, “I enjoyed the sermon series so much that I decided to use it as my guide”?

At this point I think it’s prudent to ask whether we should simply ignore this pulpit? Is the theft of intellectual property only a sin if we derived a direct monetarily benefit? Or is it a problem that should be addressed because those who “borrow” the words of others are engaged in a form of deception?

Some may ask, what does it hurt? The author of the original material will probably never know. And the fact is that they might actually find it flattering that their words were being copied. Charles Colton once wrote, “Imitation is the sincerest [form] of flattery”.

In Christianity Today’s website, an article entitled, “When Pastor’s Plagiarize” gave somewhat of an apologetic, justifying, at least to an extent, a pastor’s license to share borrowed content with others.

“During many eras, in the English Reformation for example, sermons were crafted by church leaders, printed, and distributed to parishes, where local pastors would preach them word for word. Congregations did not blink. It was assumed that sermons were not individualistic efforts but the work of the church.”

Though I agree with a number of the points made in the above article, I think the author omitted some vital factors.

  1. The sermons passed down by English Reformers were assumed not to be “individual efforts but the work of the church”. Is that actually the case in many of the situations dealing with plagiarism today? No one expects all the words from a pastor to be original. Coming up with 50 sermons per year, year after year, straight from one’s own study, is clearly a monumental task. So I get that. I am awed by any pastor’s ability to constantly create fresh Biblically-sanctioned sermon material. However, what’s wrong with holding up a book or two or citing the articles that inspired the sermon? What’s wrong with quoting the source and giving proper attribution when taking sentences verbatim from others?
  2. Yes, it’s wonderful to see the Christian community operating on an organic level, always building on the efforts of others. This kind of collective synergy is necessary to the growth and vitality of the Gospel message. No one is asserting that pooling resources is unhealthy or imprudent. However, again, what’s the problem with proper attribution?  Could it be that some pastors are consistently and serially tapping into the content of others to the point where it would be embarrassing for them to admit that much of their most astute sounding verbiage has been copied verbatim?

I called a pastor friend I’ve known for many years and asked him what he thought about this whole matter. As it turned out, he was involved in teaching a course motivated by book someone else had written. Though he said that most of the points he addressed in the class were of his own creative juices, since he was empowered and encouraged by the book’s overall message, it was second nature for him to give full credit to the author in each class. It should be noted that this pastor was under no obligation to disclose the wind beneath the wings of his teaching points, since none of the material he presented was plagiarized. However, he felt that it was necessary to cite this other man’s work.

So, in closing, let me ask you these few questions.

  1. Do you think plagiarism is a problem within the Christian community and if so, what would you recommend doing about it?
  2. Should a pastor guilty of constant plagiarism be censured in any way? Would you support action taken against them or do you think this is an insignificant offense that doesn’t warrant any negative action taken?

Let me be clear that I am not without foibles. I am not casting the first stone. Sometimes it’s laziness, other times ignorance and occasionally it’s willful and blatant deception. And it seems that the punishment should fit the crime. However, if we continue to ignore this issue, won’t we be in danger of compromising the integrity of authors and pastors and won’t we be guilty of demeaning creative abilities?

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Jesus Is Coming Soon!

Few will disagree that Chris Tomlin is both a gifted writer/performer and a man after God’s ownjesus-is-coming-soon heart. Often his songs are so majestically inspiring that they exhort and compel us to fall on our knees and worship Jesus.

In a recent Sunday service we sang a very popular Tomlin tune, “Even So Come“. As I surveyed the audience, it was obvious by their impassioned faces that this emotionally engaging song tugged deeply at their heart strings. It evoked a clear visceral response, especially during the refrain, “Jesus is Coming Soon.” Since the early 70s when I became a Christian, similar tunes like “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” and “The King is coming“, flicks such as “A Thief in the Night” and apocalyptic novels espousing “Late Great Planet Earth” eschatology, were the order of the day. Jesus was clearly coming soon! In 1973 during my sophomore year in college, there wasn’t a day on my commute to USF, where I’d miss gazing up into the clouds wondering if this would be THE DAY when Jesus split the sky. But that was 43 years ago when Robertson, Falwell and LaHaye assured us that Jesus was coming soon.   

Rewind to the first century when “Even So Come” would have topped the early church charts.  In the AD 60s when Christians were being heavily persecuted, tortured and murdered for their allegiance to Christ, there was no ambiguity as they pleaded  “Come Lord Jesus, come!” The slain believers under the altar cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Rev 6:10) In the New Testament’s pages there was an unmistakably eager expectation of the Lord’s coming to both avenge and reward the beleaguered church. How long, indeed! So, 2,000 years ago, Tomlin’s words would have been extremely poignant and far more emotionally compelling than they are today. Why?  Because the Holy Spirit convinced every last NT author that Jesus was indeed coming soon. So again, since Chris Tomlin has received no such divine inspiration, what gives him the certainty that he’s right? This is the first verse of “Even So Come”. 

All of creation,
All of the earth,
Make straight a highway,
A path for the Lord,
Jesus is coming soon.

Contrast this with the inspired Apostle Paul’s writings…

(1 Cor 1:7) Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.

(Heb 9:28) so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

Do you see the problem? Something is awry and though many refuse to acknowledge the elephant in the room, a few decades ago it began to weigh heavily on my soul. Why were the NT authors inspired to create such eager anticipation? Were the recipients of these letters mislead? Are the souls under the altar still crying out “How long?”

Living nearly 2,000 years after the fact, I am quite frankly baffled by the repeated insistence that “Jesus is coming soon.”  Though Tomlin is convinced that after 2,000 years of assuming Jesus’ imminent arrival is even more imminent than ever, I believe the eschatology promoting this kind of soon coming should provoke a rather troubling question. If not then (in the AD 60s when every NT author proclaimed Jesus’ imminent return), why now? What has fundamentally changed that would cause Tomlin to be so confident that we have finally arrived at what has been an interminably imminent moment?

(At this point, let me offer a disclaimer lest you get the very wrong impression that I am a skeptic. I am NOT! Far from it. I believe every word that proceeded from the mouths and pens of those who authored the NT. This problem, some refer to as “the time statements”, is one of interpretation not inspiration. (2 Tim 3:16)

Yes, it’s clear that America’s moral climate has degraded to the point where it is rivaling that which has been commonplace in Europe for decades. And yes, the fabric of life as it was in the 1950s has been torn apart and is in disrepair. How often though have we heard the Apostle Paul’s warning to Timothy, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come”  used as proof that we must be living in the last days near the end of time? The apocalypse must be just around the corner! The worse things get, the closer to Jesus’ coming…or so many believe.  

Following Paul’s ominous words was a laundry list of moral depravity: “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.” (2 Tim 2-5)

Exposing all manner of wickedness, I constantly hear items plucked from this menu of sinful proclivities as proof that we have finally reached the zenith of a sin-drenched world. But let me pause for a moment and ask a question. Is there truly anything on Paul’s list that is peculiar to 2016? Lovers of self and lovers of money? Disobedient to parents? Ungrateful? Haters of God? Lovers of pleasure? Does anyone seriously believe that this list could not apply to every generation since it was written? If we think that things today are worse than they’ve ever been, I think it’s time we take a serious peak into history to gain context.  Perhaps a read through George Holford’s 1805 classic, “The Destruction of JerusalemAn Absolute & Irresistible Proof of the Divine Origin of Christianity” would be in order (the pdf is only 30 pages in length)?

Stop for a moment and put your objective hat on. Do you truly believe that at the time the Apostle Paul issued this warning, that this group of sins wasn’t thoroughly inculcated into that AD 60s generation in which Paul wrote? (and I’m not talking about the 1960s!) Considering the very next verse. “Avoid such men as these“, why in the world was Timothy instructed to “avoid such men” if Paul was specifically targeting our generation 2,000 years into the future? How could Timothy and his disciples avoid evil men who were thousands of years from being born? And since when has anyone argued that the humanism which has swept through Europe and America in the past century, could in any way be construed as “holding to a form of godliness”? There is no semblance of godliness in today’s secularism.

This isn’t a description of our day’s moral depravity, but rather of the times in which it was written a few decades after the ruling religious elite who killed Jesus continued to deny their Him as they persecuted His followers. Paul, in his warning to Timothy of that which was to befall that wicked and perverse Christ-killing generation in the latter days, exhorted Timothy to stay the course of godliness. It is imperative that we read the NT letters with first century glasses. How can we possibly think we can understand Paul’s second letter to Timothy if we rip from it’s AD 60s moorings and time-warp it into the 21st century? 

(2 Timothy 3:10) But you [Timothy] have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured.

How often have you heard a pastor or teacher pluck the following verse completely out of it’s context and apply it specifically to our time? If evil men and imposters have been growing worse and worse since the AD 60s, then we wouldn’t be able to go outside for fear of being murdered. Paul is talking about the wickedness of his time, not ours, when false Christs and antichrists were attempting to deceive the Church.  

(2 Tim 3:13-15) But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 

Notice the exortive contrast in the very next verse to the proliferation of evil.

14 But you [Timothy] must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Yes, there was indeed a crescendo of evil as men were growing worse and worse in the last days of Old Covenant Israel. During the war with Rome (AD 67-70) the wickedness inside Jerusalem was unparalleled. Consider for a moment how the 1st century Jewish historian, Josephus, characterized the generation to which Paul was referring.

“Neither did any other city [Jerusalem] ever suffer such miseries, nor did any age breed a generation [AD 30-70] more fruitful in wickedness than this one, from the beginning of the world.” War of the Jews, Book V, Section X, Flavius Josephus.

No generation since the foundation of the world was more fruitful in wickedness? And this includes the days of Noah! How often has someone or perhaps even you cited sins on Paul’s list as proof that we’re living in the last days? Though I don’t have time to fully explore it here, did you know that both Peter (in Acts 2:16-21) and Paul (Hebrew 1:1-2) said rather unequivocally that they were living in the last days

Sidebar note: If the “last days” lasted longer than the Mosaic economy it was supposed to be the tail end of, does that make any sense? If we continue to ignore the meanings of these kinds of simple phrases, I think we do ourselves a grave disservice.

So is Chris Tomlin referring to the same soon which was associated with the last days of the Old Covenant economy? Is he referencing the same soon that Jesus prophesied in the 1st words of the apocalypse? “The Revelation [unveiling not the concealing] of Jesus Christ, which God [the Father] gave Him [Jesus] to show to His bond-servants [in the seven churches of Asia Minor], the things which must SOON take place…” (Rev 1:1)  Tomlin is also using the same imminent phraseology that James, the brother of Jesus used: “You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is NEAR.” (James 5:8)

Is Tomlin echoing the sentiment of Peter as he addressed the Church in his first epistle: “The end of all things is NEAR”? (1 Pet 4:7)  Or the Apostle Paul, writing in the early AD 60s to the Philippians and Hebrews respectively, “The Lord is NEAR” and “In A VERY LITTLE WHILE He who is coming will come and WILL NOT DELAY.” (Phil 4:5; Heb 10:37)

The common theme throughout the New testament was the eager expectation that Jesus was in fact coming soon. So again, the question we all should be asking is, Why now, Chris? Could it be that many ignore the timing because they have not understood the nature of His coming? This sense of imminent anticipation is dripping from the pages of the NT. “EAGERLY WAITING for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (1 Cor 1:7“So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who EAGERLY WAIT for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” (Heb 9:28) Just before Jesus conquered the grave and ascended to the right Hand of the Father in AD 30, He made clear that He was returning in that first century generation while some of His followers were still alive. (Matt 24:34; 16:27-28)  It should therefore be noted that Jesus created this eager anticipation of the blessed hope.

We’ve been told ad nauseum that all of the imminent language surrounding the second coming of Christ had no direct relevance to the beleaguered and maligned first century believers who received it. It has been beaten into our brains that when Peter, Paul, James or John spoke imminently about the Parousia (coming with a consequential presence), that they really didn’t mean it, because after all, God’s timing is not ours. Is time really supposed to be cajoled, manipulated and elasticized to fit the reader’s paradigm?

Twenty six hundreds years ago God put an end to the proverb, “The days are prolonged, and every vision fails’”. In other words, just as today when people take Peter’s “a day of the Lord is as a thousand years” out of context arguing that God’s prophetic word is as elastic as silly putty, they did the same in Ezekiel’s day. And notice how God addressed this notion.

(Ezek 12:23- 2523 Tell them therefore, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I will lay this proverb to rest, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel.”’ But say to them, ‘“The days are at hand, and the fulfillment of every vision. 24 For no more shall there be any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel. 25 For I am the Lord. I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass; it will no more be postponed; for in your days, O rebellious house, I will say the word and perform it,” says the Lord God.’

Could God have been any clearer? “It will no more be postponed”!!! “The days are at hand and the fulfillment of every vision”. And if anyone questioned God at this point, He made it even clearer.(Ezek 12:26-29) 26 Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 27 “Son of man, look, the house of Israel is saying, ‘The vision that he sees is for many days from now, and he prophesies of times far off.’ 28 Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “None of My words will be postponed any more, but the word which I speak will be done,” says the Lord God.’”

So again, when Paul wrote, ““In A VERY LITTLE WHILE He who is coming will come and WILL NOT DELAY”, are we on safe ground to say, that which Paul prophesied was to take place “many day from now”? If “None of my words will be postponed” doesn’t mean “Will not delay”, what does?

Listen, I realize for some this is a very hard teaching. But rather than continue to foster a proverb that God put to rest, shouldn’t we take the intellectually honest high road and try to figure out what Jesus and the NT authors meant by their many imminent statements? Is it possible that they were correct and that our presuppositions are in error?

Do you really believe that Jesus, sitting at the right hand of God the Father after He had overcome physical death and ascended to glory, was speaking ambiguously when He said, “things which must soon take place…for the time is near”? Listen, I realize this puts serious pressure on your eschatological worldview and what you’ve been taught for probably your entire Christian life. I understand the angst. I was there wrestling with this very issue for decades. I believe there is a better answer than the one which we have been given for the past 150 years.

Read the following words and ask yourself why soon means soon when Tomlin wrote it but in the inspired word of the living God, soon supposedly means thousands of years?

Jesus is coming soon.
 
Call back the sinner,
Wake up the saint,
Let every nation,
Shout of Your fame,
Jesus is coming soon.
 
Like a bride,
Waiting for her groom,
We’ll be a church,
Ready for You,
Every heart longing for our King,
We sing…
Even so come,
Lord Jesus come.
 
There will be justice,
All will be new,
Your name forever,
Faithful and true,
Jesus is coming soon.
 
So we wait,
We wait for You,
God we wait,
You’re coming soon.
 

 

How on earth can Tomlin know that Jesus is coming soon? Sure, he’ll appeal to the condition of our world and conclude that it can’t get much worse. But is that really the case? Does he have any understanding of history? Are we truly living in the most horrific times mankind has ever experienced? Is it possible that times have been far worse, especially in the first century just prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70? And is it possible that the NT reference to “last days” was not speaking about the end of the world but rather the end of the age?

 
 
A King James mistranslation of Matthew 24:3 has created some rather skewed expectations. The disciples asked Jesus when the “end of the age [aion]” and NOT “end of the world [kosmos]” would come. This is absolutely critical. Did you know that there’s not one reference in the NT referring to the “end of the world“?
 
 
I highly recommend three lectures/sermons which may answer many of your questions. The first is from an Australian pastor, John Alley as he specifically targeted the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24.

The other two come from Bruce Gore who is one of the best teachers of Biblical history I’ve ever encountered. These come from his “Apocalypse in Space and Time” series.

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Is Israel the apple of God’s eye?

How many times have you heard someone say, I believe the Jews i.e. modern day Israel, are God’s chosen people and the apple of God’s eye? In the minds of many, this view is so sacrosanct that to dare question it, is to put one’s toes over the precipice of heresy. Rather emphatically and defiantly, John Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel, makes clear that receipt of heavenly blessings is contingent upon the way individuals and nations treat Israel. After quoting Genesis 12:3, Hagee writes, “God has promised to bless the man or nation that blesses the Chosen People. History has proven beyond reasonable doubt that the nations that have blessed the Jewish people have had the blessing of God; the nations that have cursed the Jewish people have experienced the curse of God.” So if you even question Israeli policy, Hagee asserts that you become an enemy of God.

Oddly and contrarily, all those who espouse this popular doctrine known as Christian Zionism, put little to no emphasis on the way nations and individuals treat Jesus the Messiah. You might initially argue that Jesus is central in their view, but if you listen to those championing this message, you will rarely find any mention of Jesus in this same context. And I find this rather telling. Perhaps it should be the first sign that something is amiss with this supremely popular doctrine. So, according to this view of the Bible, the secular nation of Israel (which was founded in 1948), is THE focal point of Bible prophecy. Let me again point out that any doctrine, unwittingly or not, neglecting to make Jesus Christ the centerpiece of both history and prophecy, must be questioned. Admitted or not, in the political rhetoric of the Christian Zionist, the supremacy of Jesus Christ has been supplanted by the nation of Israel.

And lest anyone think Hagee stands alone, the late Jerry Falwell, founder of one the largest Christian university in the world, echoed Hagee when he wrote, “I believe that the people of Israel are the chosen people of God.” Not to be outflanked, after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a massive stroke in 2006, former presidential candidate and founder of CBN, Pat Robertson, made this startling and disturbing declaration, “God considers this land to be his. You read the Bible and he says ‘This is my land,’ and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, ‘No, this is mine.’ … He was dividing God’s land. And I would say, ‘Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the E.U., the United Nations, or the United States of America.’ God says, ‘This land belongs to me.You better leave it alone.'”  

So, not only must we support the nation of Israel and turn a blind eye to the human rights violations it commits, but we must protect the dirt on which the nation rests.

The above statements are standard fare within evangelical Christian leadership and not surprisingly, is also the view held by most laity in American mega-churches. Given the dominance of Christian Zionism, one might conclude that this doctrine has overwhelming Biblical support. But to the surprise of most, that is not even remotely the case.

You may be shocked to learn that every New Testament usage of  the word “chosen” (by God), refers singularly to those who have faith in Christ. And nary once is it mentioned in the context of national Israel or even physical descendants of Abraham, that  they are “God’s chosen people”. So, how in the name of intellectual honesty, have we come to the place where we regard the Jews as “the apple of God’s eye”? It’s as if the New Testament was never written, because save for a few cherry-picked verses, there’s not a shred of New Testament support. Neither Jesus nor any New Testament author ever stated or even implied that ethnicity was a Kingdom factor. Matter of fact, Jesus emphatically stated, “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. “And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.” Does this sound like an endorsement for the Jews continuing to be God’s chosen people? How can one read this and other similar statements in light of Christian Zionism dominance?

It will be developed more thoroughly in the video below, but suffice it to say, the Apostle Paul couldn’t have been clearer in his opposition of Christian Zionism when he wrote, “Even so Abraham BELIEVED GODAND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.”  What about the Jewish birthright, Paul?

Well, just a few verses down Paul added, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus…There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  Therefore, becoming a child of Abraham didn’t/doesn’t involve heritage, birthright or any other physical factor…for we all, both Jew and Gentile Christ-followers, are heirs according to the promise. There is neither ethnicity in God’s Kingdom nor is there any advantage to being born with even a fraction of Abraham’s blood. The first century Jews had every advantage (Romans 9:1-5) but it was all for naught since only a remnant (Romans 9:27; 11:5) was to be saved.

And if you think any of the above verses are isolated verses, let me say gently that you would be wrong. The New Testament overwhelming rebuts the notion that the Jews are God’s chosen people and it resoundingly opposes this idea that the modern nation of Israel must be supported at all costs.

At this point let me make clear that I am NOT saying that Israel has no right to exist or to defend itself against aggression. That’s a ludicrous charge that I, and those who side with the Apostle Paul, have been accused of. Simply because I believe Christian Zionism is seriously misguided and cannot be supported Biblically, does not mean that I side with Muslim extremists who wish to drive Israel into the sea. I strongly and vehemently oppose ALL aggression, for Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.” This ministry of reconciliation should be the role of the Christian as we bring the good news of the Gospel to all, showing no genetic partiality.

In fleshing out this extremely important issue, let me recommend to you the following lecture from friend and UK rector, Stephen Sizer. He. in my view, did a marvelous job of dealing with and exposing the fallacies of Christian Zionism. If you will set aside your presuppositions for just a moment, I believe you will benefit a great deal. Surely, no one likes change and even less do we want to admit being wrong, but after studying this issue a number of years ago, I was forced to alter my view and admit that I had been very wrong. So please keep an open mind.

Let me add that both Stephen and I love the Jewish people just as the apostle Paul did. For in his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh”. Paul was so distraught by the Jews stiff-necked unbelief, that he was willing to be accursed if it meant their salvation. But, and this is a very important distinction: those of us who oppose the doctrine of Christian Zionism don’t love the Jews exclusive of other people groups. Everyone needs the Gospel, no less the Muslim, the Hindu or our mail carrier. 🙂 Jesus Christ has brought His bountiful blessings to the nations, and this includes Israel, but it also includes China, Iran, India and the rest of humanity!

“Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you. So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.” (Galatian 3:6-9)

Anyone, Jew, Muslim, Hindu or Budhist, can become a child of Abraham by faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the focal point of human history and how you treat Jesus Christ will determine whether you will be blessed or cursed. 

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Does anybody really know what time it is?

time-001

Does eschatology matter? Clearly it’s not a bedrock issue like the atonement, the virgin birth or the deity of Christ, so why waste valuable time studying a doctrine that causes so much conflict and seems to accomplish so little? After all, whether we understand the Biblical view of the end times or not, everything is going pan out the way God intends. So, since brilliant people can’t come to a meaningful consensus, why bother flirting with a subject that seems above most of our pay grades? Wouldn’t it be prudent to simply take the path of least resistance rather than get caught up in all the hype and confusion that accompanies the prevailing eschatological view? After all, who do we think we are, believing that we can discover God’s truth on a subject that those far brighter have been jousting about for centuries? 

Well, perhaps after watching this short video, you’ll begin to appreciate the reasons why eschatology really does matter and why it might be time for you to take a serious look. Maybe it’s not quite as complicated as you’d imagined? And it may turn out to play a far more extensive role in the health and vitality of the Church than you’d ever dreamed…and it might even make a difference in the way you view your future. 

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bin Laden re 9/11 in his own words

I continue to hear people, empowered by conspiratorialists like Alex Jones, claim that ISIL, ISIS or whatever name you choose for the Islamic State, is merely a fabrication of the CIA/Mossad, and that the terror they are accused of spreading, only serves to falsely demonize Muslims. But what about the beheadings? Crisis actors. Yes, that’s correct, they insist that the dead journalists were just part of the illusion. And these same conspiratorialists believe that the U.S. government in consort with Israel, plotted and perpetrated 9/11 and that they, are the greatest dangers to worldwide freedom. 

Now, if you believe or are entertaining such a belief, I’d like to know if you’ve ever taken the time to listen to the words of Osama bin Laden one month after the collapse of the Twin Towers. In this interview, bin Laden not only proudly claimed responsibility for the attacks on New York and Washington, but he openly shared his motivations for masterminding this nefarious plan? 
 
However, the conspiratorialists are not easily fooled. They insist that bin Laden was a mere CIA asset and that he’s simply part of the charade. 
 
I’d like to challenge you to listen carefully to bin Laden, as he clearly enunciates the fact that he is not a pawn of the west, and has only and always represented the interests of Islam. If you think this is a vaudeville act, then you will have no trouble believing just about anything. 
 
Why was America attacked on 9/11? Bin Laden states a number of reasons, one being the U.S. backing of Israel as they’ve treated the Palestinians with contempt. But the bottom line is that bin Laden was no a patsy. Most people won’t watch the interviews, but they will continue to repeat the mantra, “9/11 was an inside job” and then begin to turn reason on its ear. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Secrets and Conspiracies – never the twain shall meet

The following story is a rather poignant reminder why large scale conspiracies involving hundreds, if not thousands of people, simply cannot be true. The fact is that people can’t keep their mouths shut… not for long. Even in this small group of highly trained Navy Seals, not all of them kept their traditional oath of silence. When money, fame and/or notoriety are on the line, somebody always chirps.

bin-laden-compound

On Nov. 11 and 12, Fox News Channel will air “The Man Who Killed Usama Bin Laden,” a two-part documentary featuring “an exclusive interview with the Navy SEAL who says he fired the shots that killed terrorist leader Usama Bin Laden,” according to a Fox media release, using an alternate spelling for the jihadi’s name. The retired SEAL, “who will reveal his identity and speak out publicly for the first time, describes the events leading up to and during the historical raid that took place on May 1st, 2011.” (TBO.com)

Though the detail in which “The Shooter” described his assassination of bin Laden seems inappropriate for public consumption?, it nonetheless serves to confirm this object lesson. Silence, even in an event confined to a band of brothers, is a virtual impossibility. And this Seal team revelation came to light less than 2 years after the death of bin Laden. 
So when people talk about conspiracy theories on the magnitude of 9/11, where thousands ?had to have been “in the know”?, the chances of long term silence are ?extremely slim. It’s simply contrary to human nature, especially in a free society?
 
Recently, a Facebook friend ?argued that since ?the BBC reported the collapse of WTC7 (the Solomon Brothers building) in advance of the actual collapse, this was proof that the BBC had ?prior knowledge. Therefore, in his eyes, this was clear evidence that 9/11 was an inside job, that Larry Silverman (owner of the complex)?, ?plus all of the alphabet networks, the CIA, the Mossad, the U.S. military, and many high level government officials, were all in on the plot. 

So instead of this fellow realizing that on that chaotic day of mass hysteria, reporting was at times confused and downright errant, he chose to believe that thousands knew of the supposed conspiratorial plans to bring down the Twin Towers and WTC 7 through controlled demolition, to wreak havoc on the Pentagon through a missile strike, and to shoot down Flight 93 (that they insist didn’t crash in Shanksville). 

Yes, indeed, the 19 hijackers were just a bunch of poor Muslim patsies scapegoated so that the U.S. could muster the moral justification to invade Iraq while ultimately stealing their oil. So why weren’t any of the patsies actually from Iraq? Couldn’t the sociopathic NWO masterminds behind the attack, have managed to throw a few Iraqis into the flight manifests? And why does the U.S. import a lesser percentage of oil post Gulf War than it did while Hussein was in power? These menacing little factoids don’t matter to the true believer.  
 
Further, consider this. Why would the triumvirate of Cheney, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld have used four planes (two to strike the Twin Towers, one to merely fly over the Pentagon, and one to shoot down), as some sort of magician’s misdirection? Why not crash all four planes into hard targets to create the most damage?  
 
At any rate, now, some 13 years after that fateful day, ?the conspiracy theorists don’t seem to notice that no one has come forward to write the tell-all book or spill the beans on the greatest cover?-up in human history. They want us to believe that hundreds of eyewitnesses, thousands of military personnel, a plethora of government officials, and untold numbers in the media, are all keeping the deafening silence. The government couldn’t even keep a lid on Watergate, which was confined to a mere few, and yet they’re supposedly capable of covering up the mother of all conspiracies? 
 
A friend, deep into the rabbit hole, scolded me, “Use your HEAD, man!” As if I was the one who was living in a dream world void of reality. But using my head is quite frankly what eventually woke me from my conspiratorial stupor. Instead of watching one propaganda flick which is riddled with lies and half truths, I began to do some serious research. I decided to be a Berean and not simply believe what I’d been told. And so, after reading thousands of website pages and viewing the video evidence in detail, I climbed out of the rabbit hole and left the cozy confines of conspiracism.  
The bottom line is that people will believe whatever is necessary to confirm their bias. And even when confronted with the improbability of their conspiracy theory, undaunted they simply ignore the evidence, get verbally aggressive and move on to force the next square peg anomaly into their conspiratorial round hole. Anything to make the world less complex. 
 
So this latest Seal shooter revelation is further proof that massive conspiracies are as improbable as a snowy day in San Francisco. People don’t keep secrets even in the most well-confined events, much less the 9/11 granddaddy of them all. 
 
My recommendation? Break down every conspiracy claim and determine if it can stand on it’s own merit. Don’t fall prey to allowing the massive number of bogus claims overwhelm you. A hundred false claims does not the truth make.   
One concluding thought. For goodness sake, don’t watch one clever YouTube vid and believe you have all the facts. One of the guys obsessed with 9/11 being an inside job, did just that. He actually made the following statement which he believed was proof that WTC 7 had to have been collapsed by controlled demolition. “Your video [which simply showed the WTC 7 collapse in real time] shows NADA of this. NOTHING ON TOP OF THIS BUILDING absolutely NOTHING because they were turned into DUST!!!”
I don’t mean to sound unkind, but this is complete nonsense, devoid of reality. The slick “Loose Change” movie producers, using carefully selected video clips, led this dear brother to believe that the Twin Towers were basically vaporized into what conspiracists like John Lear and Judy Wood refer to as nano-dust. How could they come to this conclusion if they watched ANY of the video footage of the collapse? 

Watch the following to see the kind of “nano-dust” that fell to the ground during the collapse. They hauled away massive amounts of steel, but the revisionist’s theories are so compelling to the uninformed, they don’t even do a cursory fact check. 

Conspiracism is a rabid form of cynicism that is not serving us well. It’s both crippling and debilitating, and it causes such a severe malaise that one is left feeling disenfranchised and helpless. Ultimately people remove themselves from the political process believing that their vote and voice are worthless. Clearly our government is seriously flawed. And yes, it conceals far more than it ought. But blaming the government for things done by terrorists is not only unhealthy but it’s intellectually dishonest. Don’t allow a small group of cyber-conspiracists to control the debate. Think for yourself.


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Does Bill Gates want Depopulation through vaccines and health care?

A FB friend posted a snippet of a 2010 Bill Gates’ speech, “Innovating to Zero”, where Gates essentially outlined what he believed are grave environment problems that will guarantee cataclysmic results. He specifically referenced global warming through greenhouse gas emissions as the main culprit. One of his methods to reduce C02 is through global Population (P in the equation below) reduction. Though I have serious issues with Gates’ alarmist environmental claims (which I dealt with in a prior blog), my intent here is to focus on one particular facet of a statement which I shall quote in a moment. 
Because the amount of CO2 emitted correlates to world population (with developed countries emitting far more of the environmental load), Gates briefly mentioned ways to reduce the projected world population (currently at 6.8B headed to 9B), including “reproductive health services” i.e. abortion and contraception, and also the vaccine initiatives. Following is the exact quote from the lecture. 

“Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we lower that [the population] by perhaps 10 or 15 percent”. (article HERE, video below) 

Did you catch that? One can certainly understand how abortion and contraception lowers world population, but how in the world can new vaccines and better health services also shrink population. Aren’t vaccines designed to prevent disease? 
 
Well, not according to the way Natural News and the many other conspiratorial-minded websites, interpreted Gates’ intentions. Natural News reposted just the first 3 minutes of the 30 minute lecture and changed the title to, Bill Gates Wants Depopulation Through Vaccines and Health Care.” And off they went with their NWO (New World Order) diatribe accusingdavos_bill_gates-jpeg Mr. Microsoft of plotting to wipe out millions. But is that truly what Gates meant by the above statement? Even if that was his intent, would he be so brazen to telegraph his diabolical plan to kill off half the world? 
 
Though I couldn’t disagree with Gates more on his bogus global warming assertions, and I despise (is that a harsh enough word?) his pro-abortion initiatives, anyone with a modicum of common sense should have known that Gates, in that 2010 speech, was not talking about euthenizing large population centers with some sort of killer drug disguised as a vaccine. Talk about confirmation bias!

Admittedly, thought he sounded a bit like Mr. Hyde with some severely demented logic, he was essentially saying that reducing infant deaths by using vaccines and providing better health care, reduces a family’s fears of losing their children through disease. Therefore, he argued, that they’re not as apt to have as many children to compensate for the expected infant deaths. And given the following stats, one need not wonder why. 

  • Diphtheria–760,000 deaths
  • Hepatitis B–12,700,000 deaths
  • Measles–96,700,000 deaths
  • Meningitis-21,900,000 deaths
  • Polio–130,000 deaths (and who knows how many permanently crippled)
  • Smallpox–400,000,000 deaths (yes, 400 million)
  • Tetanus–37,000,000 deaths
  • Whooping cough–38,100,000 deaths
Gates wrote in his 2009 Annual Letter, that a surprising but critical fact [is] that reducing the number of [infant] deaths actually reduces population growth.”
 
He continued by explaining the theory that “parents will have more children when infant mortality is high, so as to ensure that several children will survive to take care of them as they grow old.”
 
Furthering that argument in a 2008 CNN interview, he said, “If you improve health in a society … surprisingly, population growth goes down. And that’s because a parent needs to have some children survive into adulthood to take care of them when they’re old. And so, if they think having six children is what they need to do to have at least two survive, that’s what they’ll do. And amazingly, across the entire world, as health improves, then the population growth actually is reduced.”
 
If Natural News had done a simple internet search or called the Gates Foundation directly, they would have preempted this false accusation. And if my friend would have done the same, it would have saved them the embarrassment of propagating a falsehood. One has to wonder if Natural News chose to close their eyes or if they simply wanted to believe the lie since it confirmed their bias against the nefarious “they”. This kind of bogus reporting, which seems all too typical of Natural News and similar conspiratorial “watchdog” organizations, makes the many Christians who share their blogs look rather foolish. But this raises the wider question about vaccines. Are they as dangerous, and are they’re makers as evil as they’re made out to be. 
 
Consider the fact that Small Pox, Polio and Influenza have killed and crippled hundreds of millions. Does Natural News and the anti-vaccers really want to return to those days? It has been estimated that nearly 1.7 billion people have died from infectious diseases. Though Dr. Mercola points out that the Gates Foundation vaccination programs are not necessarily what malnourished, dehydrated, children living in squalor, need, vilifying Bill Gates as some sort of a sociopathic monster waging a murderous population control campaign through the use of vaccines, is libelous and irresponsible. Natural News and others who spread this disinformation ought to be ashamed of themselves.

If we don’t do a better job of holding these kinds of organizations accountable, we’re going to continue to look like fools to the world… and not for the right reasons. And the Gospel’s proliferation will be compromised simply because too many Christians are passing along these errant stories lessening our credible by the day.
 
In closing, let me leave you with some food for thought about vaccines. I apologize in advance for the occasional foul language in the following video, but I offer it to you to dispel some of the anti-vaccine rhetoric that I continue to hear. In my view, too much of what we take at face value from the alternative medicine community is poorly researched. Though I put little trust in traditional medicine in dealing with cancer and immune disorders, I’ve found that I was throwing too many babies out with the bath water. As Bereans we tend to disbelieve anything and everything coming out of the establishment, but I have found this to be imprudent. Everything should be studied on a case by case basis. Vaccines are no different than anything else.
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Global Warming, Fact or Fiction?

Global warming is a fact, the polar ice caps are melting and industrialization is the root cause. Well, that’s at least what the “experts” are telling us.  

Is our planet really in a dangerous state of warming precipitated by human activity? Are we truly on an imminent and ominous Armageddon type collision course lest we immediately and resoundingly throttle back our greenhouse gas production? One need only listen to the Paul Revere style rhetoric of Al Gore, John McCain and the true believers in this “climate crisis”, to realize that more than science is fueling this movement. It has reached religious fervor and, according to them, only ignorant neanderthals incapable of objective inquiry and open-mindedness, could possibly disagree with their conclusions. The facts, they say, stand decidedly in their corner. 

Listen, I have no ax to grind. I want to be a faithful steward of God’s provision. If we need to alter our behavior to save the planet from calamity, I have no problem making the necessary changes. However, in my view, the interpretation of the facts may not be quite as clear as the climate crisis advocates would have us believe. In the “The Mind Blowing Truth about Global Warming that Nobody Talks About”, blogger Steven Bancarz makes the following rather insightful observation.

Every single planet in our solar system is experiencing the exact same changes the earth is experiencing.   Uranus, Pluto, Mercury, Mars, you name it.  Global warming is not an effect unique to the earth, but is instead a universal phenomenon that is happening throughout the entire solar system in ways that have been documented by Hubble, NASA, BBC, CNN, and mainstream university professors and scientists all over the world.  Every celestial body in our solar system is undergoing dramatic changes, meaning that global warming on earth would still be happening even if it was uninhabited by humans.”

If you are confused by Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and wonder if the global warming denialists are full of hot air, I highly recommend the following videos. I think you will find that science is not as heavily on the side of the alarmists as they would have you believe.

One closing word of caution. Though some climate alarmists appear to have an anti free- market agenda, I don’t think it’s prudent to jump on the conspiratorialist bandwagon as so many are prone to do. Every issue must be weighed individually and should not be linked into some web of NWO (New World Order) conspiratorial fear mongering dogma. You don’t have to believe that 9/11 was an inside job, that the Sandy Hook massacre and the Boston Marathon bombing were false flag hoaxes, to realize that humans are not the enemy of God’s gracious provision. 

Should we be responsible stewards of the earth? Absolutely! However, the fact remains that global warming and cooling are phenomena which have been cyclical since the creation without regard to human activity. So it seems prudent to me that we not crush human industry until we have a far better handle on this issue. And after watching the above videos I think you will find that man-made global warming is anything but a certainty. 
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Either Convert them or kill them! Islam or Christianity?

Who recently said, “Either convert them or kill them?” An Islamic terrorist or Cleric, right? It clearly sounds like Middle East rhetoric we’ve heard before, but in this instance, it was a famous Christian duck hunter. 

Phil Robertson seems like a very committed believer. In reading the book, “Duck Commander”, I came away with three thoughts. He really, really, really like to kill ducks (never heard of so many varieties), he’s a very simple man who loathes technology, and he loves the Lord. I believe he and his family are bold and courageous in their willingness to stave off political correctness and speak affirmatively concerning Christian values. 

Recently as a Foxnews contributor, Robertson made the statement regarding ISIS, “Either convert them or kill them.” 


In reaction, a FB friend’s repost simply stated, “‘Convert them or kill them.’ Congratulations, Phil, you just taught the philosophy of Islam. I found the ensuing debate rather intriguing and invigorating. Many Christians supported Robertson with a “get them before they get us” mentality, The first response was, “He ain’t wrong when it comes to radical Islam. However, since a conversion is unlikely with these radicals, just save time and go to option 2”. Another posited, “If Christians and “Christian nations” do not bring “liberty and justice” to the world, then who the hell will.” Yet another expressed an entirely different point of view when he simply wrote, “He’re Phil’s Christ”, and then linked the following photo of Jesus holding a 50 caliber machine gun. 

To a wildly cheering crowd,
John Hagee (video link) has made similar statements regarding the Palestinians, Muslims and what he regards as the terrorist state of Iran.

A number of years ago he proclaimed, “It is time for America to consider a military preemptive strike against Iran to prevent a nuclear holocaust in Israel and a nuclear attack in America.” I refer to this as the Hagee commandment, “Nuke unto others before they nuke unto you.”


The fellow who posted the Hagee video which included the above quote, wrote, “It’s time for all americans to rise up and nuck the terrorists in Iran before they come over here and hop on the Al Ciada naval ships and reign down nuckler terror on America! It’s time to say no to the racists and liberal ku klux klan nazi members like Pat Buchannan and Ron Paul who just want us to roll over and surreder to the terrorists.” Though this guy could clearly benefit from a little spell check (which in and of itself makes him sound extreme), I don’t find his sentiment all that unusual. Perhaps most are not quite as blatant in their militaristic attitudes, but it appears that he’s clearly not out of the dispensational mainstream. Just watch the Hagee video and take a good look at the crowd as they cheer his war cry. 

At another time, John Hagee and Benny Hinn gathered to pray to lead “this nation into war…” Though the Hagee ministry eliminated this prayer session from public view based upon “copyright infringement”, it can still be found here: John Hagee With Benny Hinn: Praying For War, In the Name Of Jesus. Certainly doesn’t remind me a whole lot of Jesus’ sermon on the mount’s “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called son of God.” How did we get so far from the prayers for peace? 

But as much as it feeds our sense of justice to hold savages and terrorists to an account, is this a Biblically sanctioned response?  ISIS may be out of control, but to pray for the annihilation of a sovereign nation that has NEVER attacked us (Iran), seems less than prudent. 

The question we must answer is if Hagee’s and Robertson’s message is that of Jesus and the NT authors? Where does “love your enemies” and “pray for those who persecute you” come into the equation? Every last disciple (and yes, I believe John is included) died martyrs. Stephen didn’t even pick up a rock in self defense and as he was dying said, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.”  And the one time a disciple attempted to use aggression to thwart the enemies of Christ, Jesus rebuked him and restored the ear of the enemy. 

So are Phil Robertson and John Hagee correct? What should we do? Following is an interview with Semse Aydin, the Christian Widow Who Forgave the men who brutally torturned and murdered her husband and two other missionaries in Turkey

In closing, please consider the following article, “Phil Robertson preaches Islamic doctrine? Convert or die?as Joel McDurmon of American Vision weighs in on this debate. He wrote, “While Robertson’s sentiment resonates with a lot of people, especially conservatives stirred to outrage by gruesome videos of alleged beheadings and alleged threats to “America,” we must step back for a moment and check our reaction. 

On the surface of this quotation, Robertson’s response is little more than the doctrine of the very Islamic “thugs on steroids” he would confront. “Convert them or kill them,” is no different than the classic Islamic battle cry: “convert or die!” Is this really the response Christians should have? Is this what the Bible teaches? Is this even what the allegedly harsh and outdated Old Testament ethic for war would prescribe? No, it is not.
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Facebook Messenger – BEWARE!

A couple of days ago I received a Facebook notification message on my smartphone, so I opened the FB app. After realizing it was a private message, I clicked on the “messages” icon at the bottom of my screen, only to find the following warning (image at right). Hmmm. Simple enough, right? All I had to do was click the blue install button, download the app and then read the message in this new and I assumed, improved feature. What harm could there be in that?
Well, plenty, according to the experts. In the terms of service agreement (that you must agree to before installation), is some rather invasive language that will probably SHOCK you as it did me. I’d heard some horror stories about installing this app but I wondered how truly onerus it could be? Facebook already had far too much information, so what more could they garner from the installation of this little application? Surely the fear mongering about Facebook being able to turn on my camera while my phone is idle, has to be bogus. Or being able to monitor my location through my smartphone’s GPS… oh come on, that’s the kind of stuff from the Hunger Games. 
Well, not so fast! First play the short video (below) specifically targeting the privacy dangers of Facebook Messenger, and then watch the one to follow which deals primarily with some banking apps and their similar attempts to invade our world. I can assure you that this is a very real threat. 

My advice? If you’ve already installed any of these apps (Messenger, Bank of America, Capital One), uninstall them immediately! I surely can live without the Facebook Messenger app since I still have access to it through my phone’s browser and on my computer. 
Hopefully this will send a clear and decisive message to these power-crazed corporations and to others that may be charting a similar course. This kind of corporate fascism is insidious and I think it must be rebuffed. 
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The earth shall SOON dissolve like snow?

One of my all-time favorite songs, John Newton’s 1772 “Amazing Grace”, contains some of the sweetest words ever written. “I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see”. God’s love, grace and mercy are truly amazing! 

The healed blind man said it first, one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” (John 9:25) A whole new world opened up to him. What a powerful metaphor for our spiritual condition prior to faith in Christ.
 
As you may be aware, Chris Tomlin’s updated rendition of Amazing Grace (My chains fell off), eliminated the last verse and included the following.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, Who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.
Will be forever mine.
You are forever mine.
 
What you may not know is that Chris’ version, though a slight alteration of the one found in most hymnals, was in fact a revival of Newton’s original (published in 1779). 

John Newton, 1779, Olney Hymns 
Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believ’d!

Thro’ many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promis’d good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.

 
Do you notice the difference between Newton’s original and the one in the hymnal below?

In the mid 1800s, the verse, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years…” replaced the apocalyptic predictions of Newton. 

With that revelation, two questions immediately sprang to mind.


1. Why was Newton’s “the earth will soon be dissolved like snow” replaced?


2. And why did Chris Tomlin bring it back?
 
Clearly Newton believed like so many before him, that the current world conditions at the end of the 18th century signaled the end of the planet. And this point is critical because we continue to repeat his error. There is a doom and gloom atmosphere that pervades today’s Church as it has for the many generations before ours. The church seems to believe the worst about everything. The currency, financial markets and society as a whole, are always assumed to be on a crash course. But given the sordid track record of these doomsayers, should that not at least cause us pause?
 
Since Newton penned this beloved song so long ago (241 years to be exact), is that perhaps the reason this verse was eventually eliminated? Did someone finally realize that an event can’t be perpetually imminent?  That, since the earth did not dissolve “soon” as Newton expected, it became somewhat of an embarrassment? How long will it be before we stop to realize that something cannot be forever on the verge? 

In a sermon this Sunday morn, the pastor, in his attempt to explain the imminence of 1 Peter 4:7 (“The end of ALL THINGS is NEAR…”), fell all over himself trying to explain what Peter “really” meant by NEAR (Greek eggizo). Surely Peter didn’t mean that the earth was ABOUT TO dissolve as snow, given the fact that he’d penned these words in the earthly AD 60s, almost 2,000 years ago… slightly less than a GENERATION after Jesus proclaimed, “This GENERATION will not pass away until ALL THESE THINGS take place” (Matt 24:34)? 


Even after reading two verses earlier “…to Him who is READY TO JUDGE the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:5), the pastor immediately dispelled the notion that Peter, an inspired Apostle, meant exactly what he wrote. After all, the pastor quipped, Peter never said that the end of all things would take place in his GENERATION. 


Do you realize what this dear pastor was arguing? Even though Peter’s teacher, Messiah, friend and Savior, made that exact statement some 3 decades prior, since Peter didn’t use the word GENERATION, “near” basically meant nothing. I’m sorry, but this kind of logic is unacceptable. This pastor apparently doesn’t understand the ground he’s giving the atheists and mockers of our day. We need to be prepared to give a defense, and this is not it. 


The reason Peter made that and other bold time sensitive assertions was in direct response to the claims of Jesus Christ. Not only had Jesus said that “ALL THESE THINGS” would take place within a GENERATION of His audience, but He made it abundantly clear that He would return before His disciples finished going through the cities of Israel while a few were still alive. (Matt 10:23; 16:27-28). And, in the Revelation, Jesus at this point (approx AD 62) sitting at the right hand of the Father in full knowledge of the events about to transpire, told John “Things which are to SOON take place…for the TIME IS NEAR.” (Rev 1:1,3)  


So, respectfully, we must not continue to make these kinds of excuses for the Word of God. If we will begin to interpret it in context, we will find out how amazing the Bible really is. 


So why did Tomlin remove the one verse (below) that instills the inevitable, our date with death? I can’t answer that but it is, in my opinion, what our focus should be. Our lives will “soon dissolve as snow”. We are here but for an instant. Our life is but a vapor in the wind. 


For centuries, the millions if not billions who have awaited the return of Jesus, have one thing in common. They have all died. So doesn’t it seem that that our focus should be on our life that will eventually fade? How precious is this verse?

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,

A life of joy and peace.
 
Concerning Newton’s last verse, a blogger wrote, “There will come a time when the “earth will soon dissolve like snow” — melting snow is something that we’ve all seen either in person or remotely. 
 
 
If I tell my wife, “I’ll be there soon, honey,” does that mean that at some future time when I finally decide to leave the office, that I’ll be there soon? Can you imagine what she would say if that was my excuse for not coming home when she expected? When getting the evil eye upon my appearance, how do you think this would sell? “Honey, I only meant that when I left, I would be there shortly.” These are the kinds of ludicrous statements that arise from a very faulty eschatological system. It has come to the point where words don’t mean a thing. 
 
The reality is that John Newton, however well-intentioned, joined the long list of false prophets when he wrote, “The earth will soon dissolve like snow, the sun forebear to shine.” 
 
So why then did Chris Tomlin bring that verse back? 

Perhaps he was motivated by his eschatology. In my view, Chris made the same mistake as Newton. No doubt Chris believes, that given the state of affairs today, the earth will in fact dissolve SOON. However, I want to know why, when he sings this verse, he thinks soon actually conveys something that is actually AT HAND? If the inspired NT writers weren’t implying imminence when they used terms like “shortly“, “soon“, “at hand“, “quickly” and “in a very little while“, time becomes totally irrelevant and it would be impossible to hold a prophet accountable. So why would Chris use what has so often been characterized as a Biblically ambiguous term? (for a more comprehensive look at the Biblical usages of imminent language click HERE)


The kind of de-creation apocalyptic verbiage Tomlin brought back (earth dissolving like snow) is found in the Olivet discourse (Matt 24; Mark 13; Luke 21), Peter’s Pentecost sermon (Acts 2) and in the Revelation as the 6th seal is opened (Rev 6). So when were all these cataclysmic events supposed to take place? Written in Approx AD 62 Jesus, through the Angel told John…
 
Revelation 1:1-3 (NASB) The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, 2 who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
 
So, what’s going on? If the calamitous events Tomlin references were imminent 2,000 years ago but never happened, what makes him think they’ll happen soon? 
 
When the Bible refers to this kind of judgment language like the moon turning into blood, the stars falling from the sky and the sun ceasing to shine, was it EVER used in a literal fashion? Not once! (for a fuller discussion click HERE) Until we understand the context and genre of apocalyptic language, we will continue to get stuck in the eschatological quagmire. 
 
So what’s actually going on here? What kind of expectations is Tomlin creating? If you expect the earth to dissolve in the near-term, how will that affect your perceptions about the future? Will it cause any lifestyle changes? Will you begin hording food? Will you see the degradation of our society as a sign of the end or determine that Christ wants you to reform it for His ultimate glory? 

The Apostle Paul warned the Corinthians that the “time is short…for the form of this world is passing away” (1 Cor 7:29-31). And because they were nearing the end, what was Paul’s admonition? To remain as they were! “So that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none30 and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess; 31 and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it…” So why aren’t Christians heeding this message if they truly believe that we only have a short time left?
 
Chris is a gifted songwriter and he recorded a wonderfully inspiring song (our chains have fallen off and we truly have been set free!), but the problem is that he’s subtly spreading an eschatological system that is not Scriptural. In my opinion, it’s rather audacious to say that soon actually means soon today, but it didn’t mean soon when Peter or Paul wrote it. 

The crux of the matter is that we’ve been led by the experts to believe that, when Peter wrote, “The end of all things is near” that he referred to the end of the planet. Neither Jesus nor Peter were referring to the physical end of the universe, but instead, the end of the Old Covenant age that was growing old and ready to disappear. (Heb 8:13) Consider the following:
Revelation 6:12-17 (NASB) I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 14 The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 16 and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” 

If this passage is to be interpreted literally, do you notice the glaring problem? A dark sun, a blood red moon, stars crashing onto the planet earth, the sky splitting and rolling up, and all while every mountain moves out of it’s place… and yet people are hiding under rocks? Are you kidding me? What rocks? How in the world could anyone hide under a rock after the entire solar system has obliterated our planet? This de-creation language is poetic and symbolic but it was never meant to be taken literally/naturally. Yes, judgement was coming upon the generation of Christ killers and it came like clockwork just as Peter and the inspired Bible authors foretold. 

If you would like proof that these things didn’t happen with the timing predicted, I highly recommend the following rather expansively titled short book, “The Destruction of Jerusalem: An Absolute and IrresistibleProof of the Divine Origin of Christianity including a narrative of thecalamities which befel the Jews, so far as they tend to verify our Lord’spredictions relative to that event. With a brief description of the city and the temple” written by George Peter Holford (Written in 1805). With titles so extensive who needs to read the book?  🙂

 
We have unambiguous historical proof that these events did indeed take place “soon” as Jesus returned with both blessings and cursings. The holy city was destroyed along with the temple that will never be rebuilt. The sun never again shined on the Jewish nation that killed their Messiah as 1.1 million Jews died the most horrific holocaust that nation would ever see. 
 
So the next time you sing this song, or any song for that matter, ask yourself if each verse is Biblically supported. If truth matters, it seems that we ought to become more theologically discerning. Perhaps “the earth shall soon dissolve like snow” should in fact be permanently replaced with:

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.
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“Gather around, wait for the sound, the King is coming” – Really?

Why do so many of these otherwise inspiring songs, begin or end with lyrics like, “Gather around, wait for the sound, the King is coming”, or other similar, “Jesus is coming soon” type lyrics? Though these kinds of emotionally charged words of imminent anticipation are guaranteed to send crowds into a frenzy as they tug at our heart strings, the question is, how long will it be before we begin to seriously scrutinize the underlying eschatological system that constantly produces these failed expectations? Few seem to wonder why, if Jesus has been imminently coming for 2,000 years, that He still hasn’t returned. Hope deferred makes the heart grow sick, and right now the sickness of failed expectations is causing Christians to question the veracity of the Bible. 

Let me be clear that I truly appreciate groups like Warr Acres and their commitment to Jesus. What frustrates me is that these uplifting songs are tainted with what I believe is poor eschatology. I’ve been hearing “The King is coming” since the early 70s. Matter of fact, James wrote, “The coming of the Lord is at hand…the judge is standing at the door”, almost 2,000 years ago. (James 5:8-9)
Seriously, I don’t mean to sound disrespectful, but what do you believe Jesus waiting for? Perhaps, according to some, the complete disintegration of our culture? The decline of the Gospel’s influence? If He’s supposedly waiting for a low point, why didn’t He return before the 16th century reformation? Or why didn’t he return before the Puritans landed at Plymouth Rock just prior to Christianity’s explosion into the new world? Or why not just after the Civil War when brother killed brother to the tune of 750,000? Or after 100 million died due to WW1 and the Spanish flu pandemic?

The fact is that the world isn’t getting worse in spite of the constant insistence by many Christians who have been mislead to believe that the worse things become the closer we are to the return of Christ. I’m sorry, but this is just plain bad eschatology. 


Where is the overcoming nature of the Gospel which is found in the Epistles of John? 

What’s interesting is that, in the midst of our eschatological schizophrenia, we sings songs with the following overcoming type lyrics:


Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God…


Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God…


And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
What can stand against?


Yes, indeed, who can stand against? The reality is that many of us don’t believe a word of it because we believe that the antichrist-led one-world government is coming, natural disasters are about to increase and world chaos will soon overcome us.  

Until we undergo an severe eschatological makeover, and begin to believe that no one can ever stop the advance of the Gospel, our society will continue to decline and we will continue to blindly sing “Gather around, wait for the sound, the King is coming”. The power of the Gospel is being compromised and this is having a rather chilling affect. 

Perhaps those who say they take the Bible literally will one day take the following verse literally. But how many more hundreds or even thousands of years before the Church figures out how long a generation is? 


(Matthew 24:34Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

The following podcasts details the events surrounding the close of the Canon near the end of the age. Historical Review (AD 64-66) 
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“We are opposed by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy…” ~ JFK

jfk-speechTake a few moments to listen to this famous John F. Kennedy speech. In it, President Kennedy talks about secret societies, secret oaths, secret proceedings and a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies on covert means to accomplish a grand scheme of world domination.

Questions abound. Was he speaking, as many presume, about the machinations of the infamous New World Order? Were shadow organizations like Skull and Bones, the Bilderbergers and the Illuminati, in JFK’s cross-hairs? Was he assassinated because he was exposing the NWO and it’s shadowy FED banking system?

Was Kennedy warning us of an impending anti-Christ led one-world government? Many believe that a cabal of rich bankers and megalomaniacs, who are secretly plotting and successfully engineering their plans of world dominion,  were directly responsible for JFK’s assassination. Watch this short video and draw your own conclusions as to whether President Kennedy was warning us of this impending NWO takeover or something else more pertinent at the time. JFK has been heralded as the man who exposed these nefariously intentioned globalists. Listen and decide.

Were you aware (as is pointed out at the end of the video) that this April 21, 1961 speech was actually 2,249 words, not just the 181 words that have been carefully edited to foster the above assumptions? Most are as shocked as I was to find that this speech had nothing whatsoever to do with exposing the Rothschilds, the CFR (Council on Foreign Relations) or any of the aforementioned clandestine players. Kennedy’s actual target? Sorry to disappoint you, but he was speaking of the inherent and imminent threat of Communism as the tensions were being played out in the cold war. Don’t believe me? Then listen to the entire unedited speech (below) – (for the text version click HERE).
 

When I first became aware of this dirty little secret propagated by conspiratorialists like Alex Jones, Edward G. Griffin and Texe Marrs, I was really miffed. How dare these agenda-driven provocateurs attempt to dupe us into subscribing blindly to their paranoia at our expense and their financial gain! They’ve created quite a cottage industry. And the sad reality is that truth doesn’t sell nearly like sensationalism. So, since this myth fits neatly into our pre-programmed perceptions of a coming one-world government (promulgated by doom and gloom premillennial eschatology), most never bother to do any fact checking. Christians have become a rather gullible lot.

So, why is this JFK matter important? Because it is one of the NWO conspiracy theory building blocks. If John F. Kennedy gave his life for the cause which conspiratorialists insist was the case, i.e. opposing the monolithic cabal of international “banksters”, then we, who love freedom, should be compelled to action in fighting this grandiose beast. However, if JFK was actually speaking of the the communist agenda, this changes the landscape a great deal. 


As with most conspiracies, certain things must be believed before other things, less demonstrable (coincidental anomalies), will become convincing. In other words, if the cornerstone of a theory is found to be riddled with major cracks, all the peripheral stones (anomalies) laid neatly atop the foundation can no longer be supported and thus the entire structure collapses. (So it is with most conspiracy theories, especially ones with a massive scope.) 


Once the structure ceases to exist, the stones which appeared to have ominous meaning and purpose as part of the overall framework, become nothing more than random, isolated rocks strewn across the ground. And therefore, the beautiful conspiratorial edifice becomes nothing more than a pile of rather meaningless rubble. Such has been the case with the misuse and abuse of the actions and speeches of JFK. 


What I have found is that most who think that JFK was warning us of an impending world takeover by these shadowy overlords, also subscribe to a host of other conjoined false flag conspiracies like:
 
 
1. 9/11 was an inside job
2. The Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax (complete with crisis actors)
3. The Aurora movie theater rampage was a hoax 
4. The Boston Marathon bombing was a hoax (complete with crisis actors and fake blood)

Each of the above events, I am constantly told, were nothing more than false flag operations with the sole intent to turn the populous against our 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. And, over the past 13 years since 9/11, because the government bureaucracy has burgeoned while our freedoms have dwindled (this cannot be disputed), one need not wonder why people have become more suspicious, cynical and easily persuaded that “they” are out to get us.  


So, after coming to the realization that this particular speech, and JFK’s presidency as a whole, was not centered around opposing the international bankers, the FED and all the exclusive organizations that are presumed to further their cause, have your presuppositions been compromised as mine were? I began to wonder how many other pieces of the conspiratorial puzzle may have been similarly manipulated? What other issues have been carefully crafted to cause us to buy into this kind of paranoia? 


Listen, I’m not arguing that conspiracies are always confined to active imaginations, forever ordering facts to fit one’s predetermined paradigm. But what I am saying, is that I think we need to be more diligent to put, not only the establishment to the test, but also those who summarily oppose the establishment to similar rigorous tests. Neither the political far left nor far right have a monopoly on agendas.


Following is an interview that I found rather intriguing. Yes, both the interviewer and interviewee are decidedly “liberal” (to some this means among other things, untruthful – I reject this notion), but I think they expose an underlying narrative that is controlling the perceptions of many on the far right. These things meld quite nicely with the apocalyptic beliefs of many Christians and because of this, we often scrutinize the building blocks of conspiratorialism far less than we ought. In other words, just because some movement opposes the establishment does not make those who do so decidedly and singularly altruistic.


And, as a footnote, I think there ought to be a distinction between being part of the extreme right-wing and being a Libertarian. Standing for free markets and a morally-based capitalism, doesn’t mean one must necessarily subscribe to the conspiratorial paranoia. Though many libertarians are deeply embroiled in conspiracism, they don’t have to be. 


The “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” appears to be the script which many of the conspiratorialists like Alex Jones are reading. I have learned to constantly confront my worldview with competing and opposing worldviews. It’s the only way to remain intellectually honest. But the tendency is to do the opposite. We want to continually reinforce our beliefs, not challenge them. This produces the potential for errors to be perpetuated. Watching the above video is an example of that process being played out. Though I don’t subscribe to much of what these men believe, I have come to realize that we can learn a great deal from those with whom we disagree.


For a fuller discussion of this entire JFK issue, click
HERE and HERE. The latter of these links deals with many JFK misquotes like the one below.
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Windows Service Center Phone Scam!!! Beware

I just got a call from the Windows Service Center notifying me that my computer was sending out infected files. Holy Trojan Horse, Batman! 

This chap said he was authorized to stop these viruses from spreading. He said, “Are you at your computer right now?” This kind gentleman was about to relieve me of my viruses, trojans and other dangerous files. “I can take care of it quickly”, he said rather confidently, “Just follow my instructions.” 


It was an Pakastani sounding guy who said his name was Benjamin Watson. When I laughed out loud he said, “Why are you laughing?” I said, “What a coincidence. My name is Habib Patel and I’m from Islamabad”. LoL 

After my continued prying (since at that point I was still a bit dazed and confused) he finally coughed up his phone number which he said proves he’s with the Windows Service Center. (832) 426-2444. So he said, “Go ahead and call that number to verify.” So I said, “What does that prove other than the fact that you have a phone number?” (After I got off the phone, I called the number. After 9 rings, some fellow who sounded like he was in a cave with bin Laden said, “Windows Service Center, can I help you?” See, it was totally legit!!! 🙂

Then, when I asked him how he got my phone number, he said that it was provided at the time I bought my computer. Everybody signs paperwork, right? So I asked him how he got that information and he told me that it came from Microsoft…because the Windows Service Center is a subsidiary of Microsoft. So he went back to his original script and hammered, “If we don’t get this threat removed immediately, it’s going to jeopardize the use of your computer and will affect countless other computers.” 

Lastly, I asked for his URL. Even novices know what that is, right? He said that he wasn’t authorized to give out that kind of information. He clearly thought it was like a badge number or something. That’s how knowledgeable this scammer was about computers. So I asked for his website and he said they didn’t have one. By this point, confident I was in the throws of an elaborate scam, I said, “Repeat after me. Ohwa — tadger — QR.” Then I proceeded to tell him that I would report this to the FBI. 

After I got off the phone I found the following:


This is the scam in action. Amazing how smooth they are. I have to admit, he had me at least questioning for a while. They basically prove to you that you have some problems with your computer (which EVERY computer does and means very little). Then they get you to go to a legitimate website to download a piece of software that gives them FULL control over your computer. After that you do that you are DONE and I don’t mean that your problems are over. They have just begun and you are in a world of hurt. 

One of the best scams I’ve witnessed in a long time. Please don’t fall for it! 
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