Tag Archives: Jesus

Santa Klaus, Islamic Jihadis, Western leaders and You? Make the Connection!

San-Bernardino-Terror-Victims“How much more needless blood must be spilled in the Western world before its leadership comes to its senses? When Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, walked into a Christmas party with Syed’s coworkers in San Bernardino, California, they didn’t bring along some egg nog and cookies. No, those joy sucking Grinches took automatic rifles, pistols, and pipe bombs. In cold blood they killed 14, and wounded another 17. They even took along a video camera to record their massacre for the Internet-viewing pleasure of their fellow jihadis.

Speaking to the media, Syed Farook’s father described his son as “very religious… He would go to work, come back, go to pray, come back. He’s Muslim.” Farook’s neighbor told a newspaper reporter that over the past two years, Farook exchanged his Western dress for Islamic robes bernardino-nightmare-20151203-001and grew a beard, while his wife pledged her loyalty  to the Islamic State on Facebook, under an assumed name.

But did Farook and his wife commit mass murder in the name of a so-called peaceful religion?

How about the coordinated series of terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13th, the deadliest in France since World War II in terms of the number of civilians slaughtered and wounded? Was this not also done in the name of that so-called peaceful religion? Wasn’t responsibility for this massacre claimed by the Islamic State (IS)… whose self-proclaimed Islamic caliph represents himself as the only true leader of all police scene isis flagMuslims in the world? And weren’t the February mass murder attacks at Charlie Hebdo in Paris  also done in the name of Islam? And what about the jihadi attacks at Fort Hood, Boston, and Chattanooga?

I’ve heard the Parisian attackers described in the media as native French speakers and Europeans by virtue of the fact that most of the identified, slain attackers were born there. But again, the attackers were all self-identifying Muslims whose ancestors came from Islamic world of the Middle East or North African and whose families had only immigrated into Western Europe during the recent past.

And yet our leaders stand practically shoulder-to-shoulder like a solid phalanx to vigorously obama wimpreassure us in the West that this mass murder of ordinary Americans, French, and others who were merely attending a party, or eating at a restaurant, or drawing cartoons, or buying groceries at a kosher supermarket, or attending a concert or sporting event, is not the result of any of the teachings of this so-called peaceful Islamic religion. Does anyone remember what George Orwell meant by “double-speak”? Shall we discuss what is meant by willful blindness?

trumpFox News’ O’Reilly asked U.S. presidential candidate, Donald Trump, “Is there a Muslim problem in the World?” We all know Trump’s answer and the subsequent politically correct firestorm that is still rattling the media’s cage.

“But in America of December 2015, natural conclusions are considered irresponsible, at best….. Perhaps the shooters in San Bernardino were just mad at their boss. Maybe Farooq suffered from clinical depression or ADD, or PTSD, or something…. But if facts are to be taken seriously, then the fact is that in December 2015, the US is acting with pathological devotion to ideological narratives that bear no relationship to reality. ” Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, “America’s Pathological Denial of Reality,” http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Column-One-Americas-pathological-denial-of-reality-436278

The apostle Paul when writing about the guilt of this world’s ruling political and cultural elites, said this:

For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. Romans 1:18 Holman Christian Standard Bible 

Paul, of course, composed this statement originally in Greek. The Greek word he used for truth was alétheia (pronounced al-ay’-thi-a). It meant what was “true to reality, true to fact.” The biblical definition of truth is, that which is reality, as opposed to illusion or deceit. There is truth and there are lies. Your leaders are willing to risk your life for an illusion. How about you?

santa cokeDon’t you be caught up in pathological devotion to clever illusions and deceitful ideological narratives that bear no relationship to reality. Around this time of year many people pay lip service to Jesus Christ. Yet the real Jesus of the Bible had no time for either supposedly “harmless illusions” told to children, nor the deliberate, willful lies told to subvert whole nations. Reality, according to Jesus requires a straightforward pursuit of the truth:

So Jesus was saying to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word [continually obeying My teachings and living in accordance with them, then] you are truly My disciples. And you will know the truth [for example, about loving your neighbour, which does not include either murdering him or telling him lies], and the truth will set you free [from the penalty of sin which is both physical and spiritual death].”  John 8:31-32 Amplified Bible

As terrorist attacks increase, we need to understand that we are truly living in dangerous times when our leaders are quite willing to put our lives at risk due to their “pathological devotion to ideological narratives that bear no relationship to reality,” as Caroline Glick says. funeralTherefore, I would encourage you to make sure to put your affairs in order and get your priorities straight. After all, the next moment of consciousness for the people recently killed in San Bernardino and Paris will be before the judgment seat of God. Be prepared, as Jesus would have you be, should evil touch your life or those whom you love.

About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. “Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God. And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.” Luke 13:1-5 New Living Translation

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Coming Soon: Dystopia!

dystopia filmsRecently there have been a variety of movies released by Hollywood that have been exploring the “post-apocalyptic” or “dystopian” themes about the future. Generally speaking, in such movies civil society is going or has already gone to hell (the reasons vary). As a result, everyone is left scrambling to survive or die amidst ruins, violence, and fear except for the hero of the story and his/her love interest who somehow manage to save the day and restore hope in some form. Or, if it’s a European movie, the hero gets killed off and the villains win.

Nevertheless, one assumes most of those screenwriters have merely fallen ill to a creative bug of pessimism  spawned by that infectious Hollywood disease of financial avarice. After all what better way to make a few hundred million than to exploit the public’s perverse desire to be scared spitless by some horror, for a few hours. But then, after the show we expect to go home to our comfy beds and then get up in the morning to pursue our  predictably pleasant and mostly enjoyable existence. Nobody really wants to wake up stuck in a feverish dystopian nightmare of hopeless hardship and gut-wrenching fear that won’t go away like a bad dream.

But my heart is heavy with grief. Weep for me, for I wither away. Deceit still prevails, and treachery is everywhere. Terror and traps and snares will be your lot, you people of the earth. Those who flee in terror will fall into a trap,and those who escape the trap will be caught in a snare. Destruction falls like rain from the heavens; the foundations of the earth shake. (Isaiah 24:16b-18 New Living Translation).

Unfortunately for us, too many of our current world’s leaders are deceitfully writing the scripts for a future distopia that I would have only thought to be product of some Hollywood scriptwriter’s over-active imagination.

Who would have thought that the leaders responsible for one of the world’s most important greek bank robberycentres of liberal Western civilization–the European Union–would have transformed itself into an austerity-obsessed, undemocratic “debtor’s prison”–to quote from Philippe Legrain in his article, “The Berlin Bulldozer and the Sack of Athens,” Foreign Policy magazine, July 13, 2015.

What the Eurozone’s leaders are doing to the Greek people is truly astonishing. Their current “bailout plan” will force the Greeks to add an additional Euro 85 billion to the current Greek debt level of Euro 325 billion–pushing the Greek debt to GDP ratio to over 200 percent! Yet the Eurozone leaders knew when they proposed this bailout plan that the International Monetary Fund had called the Greek debt greek suicide choicepredicament “highly unsustainable” (http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2015/cr15186.pdf).

If an already bankrupt Greece does not presently have  a hope in hell of paying off its current  debt of Euro 325 billion, then how does adding an additional Euro 85 billion over the next three years make any financial sense? Even the International Monetary Fund knows it’s crazy-making irrationality!

As Philippe Legrain writes:greek debt uphill

“The Eurozone as a whole remains an economic basket case and a democratic disgrace. It is trapped in a nightmarish limbo where politics precludes the creation of common institutions that would cage German power and put the European Central Bank in its place, while fear prevents its victims from leaving. So much for the European dream.”

And what about the just signed-in-Vienna Iranian Nukes Deal? Will it facilitate the dream for peace in the Middle East?

neville kerryHow will financially strengthening Iran–the world’s foremost state-sponsor of terrorism–to the tune of about an extra $100 billion annually–make for peace in the world’s powderkeg? The deal allows the Iranian mullahs to earn at least one trillion extra dollars from their oil sales over ten years for merely promising to delay for a decade their development of nuclear bombs! This is a great deal for Iran and goes a long way towards helping it become the new Middle Eastern hegemon–the blood-soaked region’s new top dog.

The Vienna deal will allow Iran to continue its work on the development of its ballistic missilesobama mock iran while at the same time, secretly, to refine its nukes program (everyone knows they will cheat). Obama’s approved deal will relieve the Islamic Republic from the effects of the West’s regimen of punishing financial sanctions. So now  Iran will be able to strengthen its regional proxies: Lebanese Hezbollah, Palestinian Hamas, Yemeni Houtis, Syria’s Assad, and the various Iraqi Shi’ite militias. After ten years of this “good” deal, Israel–the West’s only reliable democracy in the region–will face an existential threat that it will be hard-pressed to effectively counter. Oh yes, arms dealers will also be big winners of this “good” Iranian nukes deal.

chinese stock marketAnd finally there’s the news of the Chinese stock market meltdown. With its opaque financial data and economic system who knows what to believe when the Chinese state tells big investors to buy and hold or be executed? Talk about voodoo economics! We know the world’s financial system almost melted down about 7 years ago. It may yet happen again due to the Chinese contagion and we’ll only learn about it the morning after.

Throughout the world, our leaders are now writing the scripts for a coming dystopia that will be so bad that Jesus of Nazareth prophesied:

For then there will be great tribulation (a dystopia of affliction, distress, and oppression) such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now—no, and never will be [again]. And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would endure and survive, but for the sake of the elect (God’s chosen ones) those days will be shortened (Matthew 24:21-22 Amplified Bible).

So where do we find security in times like these?

The Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high;
He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness.
Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times,
And the strength of salvation;
The fear of the Lord is His treasure.

(Isaiah 33:5-6 NKJV)

Want to learn more? Watch these videos.
Finding Refuge

Be a Stress Survivor

 

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Flashing Signs of Danger!

warning signs generalAnyone traveling on the roads needs to be constantly alert to signs of danger. For the last few months the morning commute to work in Victoria, B.C. has been an increasing hassle due to the on-going construction on one of the main traffic arteries leading into the downtown core. A bicyclist who usually took this route to commute to work downtown observed on one particular morning a few weeks ago that all traffic was being squeezed into just one lane by a small group of flaggers who had placed numerous warning signs, barriers, and orange plastic cones to block off the inside fast lane. But, while most people feel obliged to take notice of the warning signs and make the appropriate inconvenient travel correction, a commuting cyclist, a 30s-something woman, decided to ignore the warning signs.

She deftly zig-zagged through the cones and barriers on her bike and proceeded down the warning allegatorvacated inside traffic lane that had been closed off. Not seeing any overt evidence of construction machines at work, the biker picked up speed, zooming past the bumper-to-bumper line of cars slowly inching along. The safety flaggers’ franticly waved their arms and shouted to the cyclist to get back in line. “Stupid control freaks,” she may have smugly thought. As the cyclist pedalled along, perhaps she was planning to crow a bit in the office today about how her commuting style was not only “greener-than-thou” but also faster—until, suddenly, like a speeding pool ball dropping into a pocket, both woman and bike disappeared in the blink of an eye into the yawning maw of a steep, deep, rectangular hole whose opening, however, was only about the size of a house’s front door. In this case ignoring all the warning signs meant instantaneous death.

warning challengesRight now there are serious warning signs flashing on the world scene.

  1. America’s President and his Secretary of State have agreed to a “framework” protocol that will allow Shi’ite Muslim Iran, the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, to retain its nuclear infrastructure allowing it to develop nuclear weapons—at a more convenient point down the road. Right now, Iran wants economic sanctions relief so it can more effectively support its allies in Syria and Iraq in their civil wars. In an unmistakable sign of his displeasure with the American President over this decision, Saudi Arabia’s new leader, King Salman, refused to personally attend the recent six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) hosted by Obama at Camp David. This was a very public snub.
  2. In another big snub to America’s superpower status, Washington’s closest European allies, despite American pressure and unprecedented public complaints by Washington, have rushed to sign up as founding members in China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Development Bank (AIIB). The implications of China’s rising power and America’s declining power are clear. According to former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summer,

     “I can think of no event since Bretton Woods comparable to the combination of China’s effort to establish a major new institution and the failure of the US to persuade dozens of its traditional allies, starting with Britain, to stay out of it.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11519001/How-China-grew-desperate-to-conceal-its-power-from-the-world.html

  3. The IMF’s just released World Economic Outlook describes a prostrate planet drowning in debt. There has been a persistent reduction in the global growth rate since the Great Recession of 2008-09 with no relief in sight. This is unprecedented and very much a wild card in the game of high stakes poker, that is the global financial system.

    “Total public and private debt levels have reached a record 275 per cent of GDP in rich countries, and 175 per cent in emerging markets. Both are up 30 points since the Lehman crisis.” http://business.financialpost.com/news/economy/welcome-to-the-new-mediocre-of-global-growth#__federated=1

  4. The developed world’s poster child for a country drowning in debt is Greece. For months warning bad thinkingnow, Greece has continued to stagger along like a zombie, even after some fresh flesh of debt relief from the IMF or the European Central Bank. Even Mario Draghi, the ECB’s president, is warning of unexpected, unanticipated consequences if Greece finally defaults on its debt.
  5. Meanwhile, barbaric Islamic State terrorists continue to behead Christians. Yet the Western world still doesn’t take all that seriously the IS spokesmen’s repeated declarations of a worldwide religious war against Christians, Jews, non-conforming Muslim sects and anyone else who isn’t their clone. http://www.jpost.com/Christian-News/After-second-incident-of-ISIS-murdering-Christians-in-Libya-foreign-minister-appalled-398665.

    According to General Alexander, the former chief of the National Security Agency (NSA–Edward Snowden’s nemesis), the West is losing the worldwide fight against jihadist terrorism. He said that the U.S. and its allies had failed to check the advance of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or its expanding network of franchises across the Middle East. The West is increasingly at risk of a strategic defeat in the region. “It is getting worse. Twenty-five countries are now unstable, just look at Yemen,” he said. http://business.financialpost.com/news/energy/hackers-could-cripple-the-west-with-a-hi-tech-blitz-on-energy-sector-infrastructure-u-s-general-says?__lsa=2d0c-cb5e#__federated=1 accessed 4/27/15

  1. As a direct consequence of the current widespread instability, there is a virtual flood of
    desperate people from Syria and throughout North and Sub-Sahara Africa, all desperately trying to get into Europe in search of a better life. In 2014 a total of 170,000 entered Italy alone. Recently, the number of unwanted immigrants has swelled to 11,000 in just one week.

    “We’re swamped,” Sandro Gozi, the Italian minister for European affairs, told French daily Le Monde. “There’s not even enough space in Sicily’s cemeteries to bury the dead.” Where are the Italians going to put them? Who wants them? There’s just not enough work. http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/20/africa/italy-migrant-boat-capsizes/index.html

  2. On the other end of Africa, in South Africa, one of the more prosperous African nations, there is an ongoing wave of what is called “xenophobic attacks” against the 10 percent of the population who are migrants from neighbouring African states, like Zimbabwe, and  Asia who seeking a better life for themselves. But poor South Africans see them as unwanted competition for the scarce jobs available in a country where the unemployment rate is 24 percent. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-32377743
  3. And finally, the Pew Research Center confirmed that over the past seven years, from 2007 to 2014, the number of Americans who identify themselves as Christian has dramatically fallen nearly 8 percentage points from 78% to just 71% of the population. Fifty-six million Americans don’t observe or practice any religion. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-32710444 accessed May 14, 2015.

What do all these signs mean? As a society, collectively we are like the eco-warrior bicyclist in Victoria, ignoring all the warning signs as we make good time pedalling rapidly toward our doom. There’s no doubt that these are serious, even dangerous times. So what should you and I do? Jesus said this to his disciples:

“Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming warning run like hellhorrors and stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:36 (New Living Translation)

Pray to God? That’s the last thing this secular society wants to do. The Canadian Supreme Court recently decided to prohibit municipal officials from praying to the Bible’s God for help before starting on the public’s business.

Many people in the Western world have indeed turned their backs on the wisdom and knowledge that is offered to humanity by God. They have reinterpreted freedom of religion in the 21st Century to now mean freedom FROM religion. After all, they think that in a prosperous, secure society with good health care and abundant food and lots of entertainment, who needs to really seek the Bible’s God?

But, the warning signs are flashing out that there’s danger up ahead. Our future personal safety and security depends upon paying attention to those spiritual flaggers trying to get our attention and get back in line according to the Creator’s established House Rules for Humanity that are spelled out in the Scriptures. As a civilization we are ignoring the warnings to our peril.

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“As close to Satan as can be”

So, for your entertainment pleasure the American TV network NBC is offering you a new series called Hannibal. The new program is about the duplicitous Dr. Hannibal Lecter—psychologist, connoisseur, and gourmet cannibal. I suppose one of the “charms” of this new series will be the constant stream of new guest stars who make short on-camera appearances before being transformed into gourmet entrées for the “good” doctor’s dinner parties.

hannibal posterDanish actor Mads Mikkelsen has been cast as the TV version of Hannibal Lecter. Mikkelsen confessed to some initial reluctance to take on the role when first offered it because he thought Anthony Hopkins had turned in such a consummate portrayal of the Hannibal character in the movie The Silence of the Lambs. But it would seem that the Danish actor found some thespian, if not spiritualist, inspiration to bring the TV Hannibal Lecter “as close to Satan as can be,” according to journalist Frazier Moore of the Associated Press. For Mads Mikkelsen, Hannibal the cannibal isn’t your classic psychopath or serial murderer. No, no, no! This is your charming, sophisticated fallen angel who sees beauty in murder and dining pleasure through cannibalism.

But what the heck, in Canada we don’t have to watch NBC to satisfy our inner cannibal. All we have to do is pick up the newspaper and read about the trial of Luka Magnotta, the Montreal gay pornographic actor, who murdered and chopped up a the Chinese student Lin Jun in May 2012, and then mailed the victim’s body parts to the several Canadian political parties and schools.

When police figured out through surveillance footage that the “perp” was Magnotta, they searched his apartment and found plenty of gruesome evidence. Written in red ink in his closet was the chilling statement: “If you don’t like the reflection. Don’t look in the mirror. I don’t care.”

jun and magnottaDiscovered, Magnotta had fled the country to Europe, but eventually German police apprehended him at an Internet café in Berlin while he was killing some time reading online news stories about himself. Like Mads Mikkelsen, Magnotta, was also trying to get “as close to Satan as can be.”

It beats the life out of me trying to figure out why the NBC executives gave a green light to the TV series Hannibal. But obviously they are convinced that a mass audience will find it entertaining to watch someone act “as close to Satan as can be.”  Why are these TV big shots doing this? Don’t they understand the simple concept “monkey see, monkey do”? Can’t they understand what will result from promoting this spiritual darkness to their audience of millions of viewers? But that’s the point. Perhaps, they do understand.

Think about the moral darkness possessing the gatekeepers of America’s major entertainment corporations. Think about how these gatekeepers have used and are continuing to use the media as a tool for the changes they want to see. What do you think? Will you watch Hannibal on NBC? Or will you take your cues from another source. Jesus of Nazareth said this:

Your eye is the lamp of the body. When your eye is good, your whole body is also full of light. But when it is bad, your body is also full of darkness. Take care then, that the light in you is not darkness.  Luke 11:34-35 Holman Christian Standard Bible

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Can a new Pope bring repentance to the Church of Rome?

potential popesIn a CBC radio interview I listened with interest to an intelligent, young, American Jesuit seminarian who prayerfully called on whoever might be the new Roman Catholic Pope “to lead us into a new age of integrity and to deliver us from hypocrisy—so that we can really be who we say we are!”

This aspiring priest believes it’s imperative for the Roman Catholic Church to really become faithful to Jesus Christ. To achieve this would require dramatic changes in order to bring that church into conformity with the way of life that the Son of God taught in both word and deed as recorded in the Scriptures.

Mission impossible? Well, that man’s not asking for much, is he? Repentance and change!  Not easy but essential to both experiencing and living authentic Christianity as described in the pages of your Bible. But repentance/change is, after all, the profession of every individual Christian and every group of people who want to be a church “of God” in reality and not merely in self-promoting advertising.

A new pope is going to have his work cut out for him if he wants to bring the Roman Catholic Church to the biblical repentance that would please Christ.  What with seemingly unending bad news arising from its on-going flood of clerical pedophile sex cases, and the Vatican Bank’s (the ironically named Institute for Religious Works) stinky reputation in banking circles as a go-to-place for money laundering by traditionally Catholic Mafioso types.

Also, one can’t neglect to add to this new pope’s to-do-list, actions to get to the bottom of the ongoing allegations of various forms of ecclesiastical corruption that include ugly bureaucratic turf battles among the Curia’s Cardinals, and—surprise, surprise—scandalous allegations that some of the papal staff formerly close to Pope Benedict XVI were embracing homosexual practices more enthusiastically than their vows of celibacy.

Wow, what a revolution of change and repentance would occur in the above situation if a new pope actually took his policy and doctrinal cue from biblical teaching about clerical marriage such as found in 1 Timothy 3:2 in order to get at the root of what’s causing that church to be rife with sexual abuse and perversion. But, don’t hold your breath.cardinals

It’s hardly surprising, then, that Massimo Franco, a columnist for Italy’s leading daily newspaper, Corriere della Sera, describes the Vatican as being utterly dysfunctional in his new book “The Crisis of the Vatican Empire.” No wonder every employee working at the Vatican and all the Cardinals locked up in the Sistine Chapel to elect a new Pope are required to take vows of secrecy. What goes on at the Vatican must stay at the Vatican!

But then, what can you expect from an organization that would not even tolerate an individual’s religious freedom of conscience until the Vatican II Council in the early 1960s. Remember that the Roman Catholic Church has a long and bloody history written by its popes’ decrees. Those men who styled themselves as the successor of the Apostle Peter ordered Crusades to slaughter those they saw as “infidels” whether Muslim, Jew, or especially non-conformist Christian.

It makes you wonder when you compare Christ’s teaching to his disciples to the reality revealed by the Catholic Church’s own history.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” John 13:34-36 English Standard Version

Following the crusades, these same popes also formulated and launched a network of terrorism inquisition2throughout the world, which persisted for almost 600 years and was known as the Inquisition. The Roman popes even authorized various forms of horrific torture by a papal bull entitled Ad Extirpanda in 1254 that would make the CIA’s use of waterboarding for interrogations look like playing tag football. Bloody, harsh, and violent were the Inquisitorial methods! The Roman Catholic Popes employed these tactics in order to enforce their monopoly on power and their domination over the expression of all individual Christians’ faith.

Is there something inherently flawed about the Roman Catholic Papacy—whether we’re talkingpapal crown about the office itself and/or its doctrinal claim to authority over Christianity—so that it can’t be reformed, no matter the initial decent nature of the man who might occupy the so-called “seat of St. Peter”? We all know this saying about the human condition: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Check out this series of four presentations discussing the foundations of church authority. Did Christ give the Apostle Peter and his successors authority as “vicars of Christ”? Does the Pope have the authority “to bind and loose” in all matters of doctrine and tradition? Where did Sunday/Easter worship originate and why? How has Christianity changed from what was practiced by the original Jerusalem Church of God during the first 100 years after the crucifixion of Jesus? All these questions and more are discussed and examined in four in-depth streaming video presentations on this subject.

Just click on: http://cogwebcast.com/sermons/video-archives/a-changed-christianity/

 

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U.S.A.—already off the cliff and falling from greatness?

The financial market looked into the crystal ball when trading began the morning of Election Day, November 6, 2012, and predicted an Obama victory. The market’s prediction came about 12 hours before the TV networks made their predictions that evening. So how did the market decide that Obama was going to win? Well, it just looked at the money. And I’m not talking about flipping a coin.

After several soft weeks of declining, weak gold prices, in one hour during the morning of Election Day the rustless yellow metal spiked upwards $31.50 an ounce. This signaled that the market believed the Obama government’s inflationary, deficit-spending, quantitatively easing fiscal policies would continue as our status quo. While Obama’s slogan focused on change, and on protecting change, from the market’s perspective very little, if anything, was going to change.

It is ironic that while the majority of Americans want a change for the better, what they actually voted for is the preservation of a status quo characterized by many as divided, gridlocked government that’s failing to deliver that change for the better.

Despite the Obama administration having one of the poorest economic and unemployment records among all U.S. administrations over the last 100 years, a narrow majority of the American people decided to give Barak Obama another four years so that he could improve upon his prior failure. And, to insure this outcome, Americans also re-elected most of the incumbent Republicans as the majority in the House of Representatives. And, of course, they will assuredly “help” Obama achieve what Obama thinks is best for the nation?

Duh! Seems like Hollywood writer and director Peter Farrelly was being prophetic when he created the 1994 movie Dumb and Dumber. I’ll let you figure out which of the two American political parties is dumb and which is dumber. Why is this happening? Because the heart is sick, the head is foolish.

And, what did the obscene $6 billion spent by big American money on this last election really buy or accomplish, besides turning the U.S. of A. into a “bastardized democracy,” according to the Canadian MP Pat Martin?

Well, a political cartoon that appeared in today’s Times-Colonist newspaper (Victoria, B.C.) sums it up nicely.  In 2008, America was divided almost equally between smug Democrats and angry Republicans. The 2012 American political map is now divided between very smug Democrats and very angry Republicans. Wow! So U.S.$ 6 billion can only buy in 2012 a couple of adverbs on negativity?

There have been times over the course of the American republic during the last two hundred years when strong leadership would have been nice, but it wasn’t really essential for the nation’s growth, much less its survival.  Almost as if it was on automatic pilot, the American nation grew noticeably more prosperous and qualitatively stronger year after year. America’s ascendency to greatness seemed unstoppable, a genuine manifest destiny.

But that’s not the situation any more. Now America is in decline. See Sarah Boesveld’s article in the National Post: Canada rises to Top Five in Economic Freedom ranking as U.S. plummets to 18th  http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/09/18/canada-rises-to-top-five-in-world-economic-freedom-ranking-as-u-s-plummets-to-18th/ Accessed Nov. 8, 2012

 America is living on borrowed money and borrowed time. And far too many very smug Americans are living in denial about the seriousness of their situation. America, now, is more like Wiley Coyote who has just run off the cliff but his legs are still churning furiously in the air—while outside observers wait breathlessly for the inevitable to happen: the sudden plunge that always ends with a violent crash on the rocks at the bottom of the canyon.

Media commentators are talking about what is called the “financial cliff.” But Rep. Ron Paul, who unsuccessfully ran for the presidential nomination of the Republican Party during this last election cycle thinks we’re already over the cliff. We’re broke, he says. And beyond that, the nation can’t fill its leadership positions with enough people who will do the wise things necessary to avoid complete disaster. According to Rep. Paul:

 People do not want anything cut. They want all the bailouts to come. They want the Fed to keep printing the money. And they don’t believe that we’ve gone off the cliff or are close to going off the cliff. They think we can patch it over, that we can somehow come up with some magic solution. But you can’t have a budgetary solution if you don’t change what the role of government should be. As long as you think we have to police the world and run this welfare state, all we are going to argue about is who will get the loot.

http://www.bloomberg.com/video/ron-paul-on-fiscal-cliff-and-vows-to-compromise-MYkAiqYBTaiHwXZL9Tvxkw.html Accessed Nov. 8, 2012

During his victory speech on Election Night, Barak Obama insisted that the best days for America are yet in the future. Well, maybe. But not if the nation’s political leadership remains gridlocked and frustrated from formulating real solutions to America’s massive problems: its uncontrollable appetite for racking up more than U.S.$ one trillion of debt every ten months, its trade imbalance with the rest of the world, and its lack of energy independence. And that’s just for starters.

Most media commentators today aren’t talking about the massive and rapid growth in the nation’s deficit in morals and ethics. Even the phrase “social conservatism” seems to be anathema to the very smug among the governing class these days.

There was a period of time in America’s past, about 150 years ago, when Democrats and Republicans and the nation as a whole were similarly embittered and divided. We call that period of time the American Civil War. The occupant of the White House at that time was trying to hold a divided America together. Abraham Lincoln, however, unlike most of the 21st Century’s hypocritical American politicians, got his inspiration about the right things to do in his personal as well as public life from the Judeo-Christian Bible. He understood the truth and wisdom of the following the principles taught by the Scriptures. One of those principles that Lincoln was fond of is particularly pertinent at this exact moment to the America of the 21st Century:

 Then some people brought to Jesus a man who was blind and could not talk because he had a demon. Jesus healed the man, so that he was able to talk and see. The crowds were all amazed at what Jesus had done. “Could he be the Son of David?” [the Messiah who will rule in the prophesied Kingdom of God] they asked.

When the Pharisees heard this, they replied, “He drives out demons only because their ruler Beelzebul gives him power to do so.” Jesus knew what they were thinking, and so he said to them, “Any country that divides itself into groups which fight each other will not last very long. And any town or family that divides itself into groups which fight each other will fall apart. So if one group is fighting another in Satan’s kingdom, this means that it is already divided into groups and will soon fall apart! (Matthew 12:22-26 Good News Translation)

It is neither money, military strength nor “political correctness” that makes a nation great. To back away from the edge of the cliff, America’s leaders and people need to change their vicious partisan spirit that has infected the whole nation with bitterness, rancor and backbiting.  The whole political dialogue needs to change. As Jesus of Nazareth said to the political slanderers and mudslingers of his day,

You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (Matthew 12:34 English Standard Version)

The American people and its leaders need to re-embrace the motto that their ancestors once believed in so strongly that they even had it inscribed on their money: In God We Trust.  Unless the nation returns to its roots, America like Wiley Coyote, will eventually plummet and crash on the rocks below, being bankrupt not only financially but also morally. And the world will marvel at how the leaders of what was once the greatest nation on Earth destroyed it bit by bit foolishly, all by themselves, as Abraham Lincoln warned so long ago.

For the full text of Abraham Lincoln’s House Divided speech see: http://www.angelfire.com/my/abrahamlincoln/HouseDivided.html

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Amanda, Jesus, and the bullies

One week ago an almost 16-year-old Amanda Todd committed suicide in a Vancouver, B.C. suburb and Canada has been talking about it ever since. Amanda killed herself about one month after she had posted a YouTube video detailing the torment she had received online and in person for several years from her adolescent peers.

The B.C. premier, Christie Clark, has spoken out about this. The members of the federal parliament in Ottawa have debated what should be done about bullying on the house floor. The media is full of opinion pieces, reporting, and letters to the editor about the Amanda Todd trajedy.

Perhaps the most shocking thing about this whole incident is the behaviour of far too many people who in the immediate aftermath of her suicide posted vile comments and inappropriate images on the Amanda Todd memorial Facebook page and elsewhere on social media.

How can some contemporary human beings sink so low in pursuit of the perceived gains that come from bullying others? And why didn’t Amanda’s peers step in to help her rather than pile on to hurt her over that last few years?

Social psychologist and assistant professor of criminology at Simon Fraser University Brenda Morrison asserts that the Amanda Todd suicide is just another piece of evidence making the case that Canada has “raised a generation of passive bystanders,” (Misty Harris, “Bullying backlash,” Times Colonist, Oct. 14, 2012).

Professor Mossison’s point is that if Todd’s peers in school—who now mostly say on social media that they “cared about Amanda”—if they really did care, then why didn’t they actually stand up and do something in solidarity to help the poor girl deal with the bullying? The fact is that there is a real culture of fear to be found in far too many of Canada’s schools. It is a fear of peer-to-peer bullying that inflicts its pain in cyberspace and in the real world by both words and deeds.

Far too many students in our schools treat their classmates with nastiness and cruelty. They lack heart. They lack basic spiritual understanding on how to ethically treat other humans. They lack love. If one cares about another person that means standing shoulder to shoulder with the bullied and being willing to be unpopular, too. It means being willing to pay the price to do what’s right in spite of the consequences of being pushed out of a status-craving, extreme peer-oriented, “cool” crowd.

Most of today’s school population rarely attends any sort of Christian church. They won’t even darken the doors of one of those theologically liberal churches that are obsessed with political correctness in their own peculiar striving for worldly popularity. Consequently many of today’s school-aged generation have never heard of, much less internalized, the most important biblical teachings about how you should treat other people. Prior generations knew about what is called the “golden rule.” But there are serious gaps in the spiritual, Christian knowledge of the majority of the adolescents in school these days. So why should we be surprised at the amount of bullying going on? We can hardly expect young people to act like Christians when they aren’t even superficially committed to its values like previous generations of Canadians.

In the wake of the Amanda Todd suicide I read in the newspaper one evolutionary biologist’s opinion piece stating that bullying is in actuality a “normal” human behaviour. It’s “normal” because it increases the bully’s status/dominance within a group. According to this view, people bully because it gets desired results such as more opportunity to access desirable sexual partners in a group by eliminating competition.  Bullying is seen by evolutionary biologists as a means to the “survival of the fittest.”  In its gross form this secular worldview would conclude that Amanda Todd wasn’t adequately fit to bully back in order to secure her ranking within the group. So she was cast out and couldn’t survive on her own. It just makes good evolutionary sense.

The divine narrative revealed through the Judeo-Christian Bible would agree with the biological evolutionists that bullying is indeed “normal” behaviour—but only for carnal, fleshly, sinful human beings. Such people, however “normal” they might be in the opinion of evolutionary biologists, are cut off from the life of God.

Why? Because they are naturally hostile to keeping the Holy Scriptures’ two golden rules. And just what exactly are these golden rules? The most popularly remembered and cited golden rule is the one that Jesus of Nazareth gave during his famed Sermon on the Mount:

 Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 7:12 New Living Translation).

 

When Jesus gave that golden rule teaching it was at the beginning of his ministry. He wanted to give the public an easy to remember sound bite that neatly summarized the essential message about how to get along with other people as taught in much greater detail and length by the 39 books of the Hebrew, Old Covenant Scriptures, which are the foundational teachings of the divine narrative revealed to humanity.

Later, close to the end of his ministry, just before he was murdered by his enemies, Jesus presented a fuller version of the Bible’s executive summary in response to critics who were trying to find something to pick on in what he was teaching. It’s like today’s students turning on a teacher. They simply wanted to put Jesus down and bully him in public in order to build themselves up. They thought they could increase their own status and power within the community by bullying Jesus. But Jesus’ response shut them down because of its elegant simplicity, completeness, and accuracy in what is really important in living life in this world. Here’s the account:

 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments,” (Matthew 22:34-42 New Living Translation).

 Obviously our society does not keep the first so why should our children bother to keep the second? This idea of loving God and loving others is amplified by teachings throughout the Scriptures. But the social elite and gatekeepers of our society don’t want to hear about it. And anyone in the media who wants to present its messages is generally ostracized and pushed out of the inner circles of power. I suppose you could call it bullying.

The writer Allan Bloom in his 1987 book The Closing of the American Mind made this relevant point that applies equally to Canada’s power elite and this present generation of school children and adolescents:

I do not believe that my generation, my cousins…all of whom are M.D.s or PH.D.s have any comparable learning [to that of his grand parents spiritually rich understand of the Bible]. When they [Allan Bloom’s peers] talk about heaven and earth, the relations between men and women, parents and children, the human condition, I hear nothing but clichés, superficialities, the material of satire. I am not saying anything so trite as that life is fuller when people have myths to live by. I mean rather that a life based on the Book is closer to the truth, that it provides the materials for deeper research in and access to the real nature of things. Without the great revelations, epics, and philosophies as part of our natural vision, there is nothing to see out there, and eventually little left inside. The Bible is not the only means to furnish a mind, but without a book of similar gravity, read with the gravity of the potential believer, it will remain unfurnished.

Bullying will stop when we all truly come to believe that God is love and that we are all made in the image and likeness of God.

[Comment for those who are interested: the New Testament Greek word for “Law” is Nomos while the Old Testament Hebrew word for “Law” is Torah. Neither Nomos nor Torah refer only to explicit, codified laws, but to ALL of the normal rules and forms people take for granted in day to day activities. The Torah or Nomos is that complete way of life that one lives in covenant with God. The “Law” Jesus was talking about in Matthew 22 is merely the complete divine lifestyle that produces love, peace of mind, and liberty from the consequences of sinful human behaviour. And this “Law” is taught throughout the Bible by explicit statements, case examples, prophetic allegories, and even by poetry.]

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Rather outspoken on who controls your news

For better than 40 years Dan Rather worked in mainstream journalism. In fact he was a “star” reporter among his fellow journalists from the early 1960s to 2005. Rather worked as the evening news anchor for the elite media outlet—the CBS News network—during a time when the TV news supplanted the newspapers and radio as the most important source of the news that Americans depended upon to keep them up to date with what was going in their nation and world.

For Rather, quality journalism demands grit. Why? Because good reporting and worthwhile news requires the courage to ask of the powerful  the tough questions despite the costs. Most of the public doesn’t realize the high price that some journalists must occasionally pay to report the truth. In Mexico reporting truthful news about the drug cartels and the legion of corrupt governmental officials has meant a bullet in the back of the head for dozens of Mexican journalists while others have had to flee into  exile to avoid the same fate.

This type of violence and threats is not common for American and Canadian journalists. However, Dan Rather’s personal experience illustrates that journalistic freedom is more illusion than fact in the 21st Century as entire nation’s news organizations are owned by just a handful of multi-national corporate media giants. Any North American journalist who fails to understand that it’s not smart—professionally speaking—to ask tough questions that embarrass the political and/or economic elite, will soon be looking for a new job.

After all, some of Rather’s controversial coverage—such as the news story about the sadistic operation at the American-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq—resulted in “so much heat,” in lost money and influence, in Washington D.C. that Rather was forced out of the CBS Evening News anchor chair by his corporate masters.

Was reporting a controversial truth worth the risk of cutting short a long and distinguished career? Two years ago Rather reflected about the importance of the Abu Ghraib story in a Newsweek magazine feature story about the top ten news story’s of the 21st Century’s first ten years:

“Abu Ghraib has opened our eyes, serving as a dark icon that reminds us our fiercest enemies – hubris [pride], cruelty, and ignorance – wage war from within.” 

Rather’s observation is practically biblical:

Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor 
than to divide the spoil with the proud (Proverbs 16:18-19 English Standard Version).

It bears remembering Dan Rather’s main point: the mainstream news organizations in the 21st Century are not operating in the public service. They are large, usually multi-national corporations, working hand in glove with  political/economic powers  to determine what we see, hear, and read. The corporate masters of these news organizations are in business to make big profits and to earn fat bonuses for themselves. Telling the truth is okay, but only if it doesn’t get in the way of the bottom line.

That’s why the World Tomorrow is different. We are in the public service to tell the truth, which as it turns out has always been a dangerous enterprise:

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the [religious/political elite in the employ of a group of rapacious, violent overlords]. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” (John 18:36-38 English Standard Version).

Some news stories—and that is what the gospel is… truthful good news—are never stale or out of date. Just remember that a great price had to be paid to tell you that story as well.

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Punishing the message and the messenger

The news media in Canada over the last few days has been covering the story of the five-day suspension from a Nova Scotia high school of a 19-year-old senior, William Swinimer. His offense was wearing a T-shirt bearing the slogan “Life is wasted without Jesus.”

According to the superintendent of the South Shore Regional School Board, Nancy Pynch-Worthylake, Swinimer was kicked out of school because the message on his T-shirt offended the beliefs and/or feelings of some other students. The superintendent, however, refused to give any specifics about the complaints that the school authorities had received.

So what was so offensive about William Swinimer’s mild, profanity-free positive affirmation of the Christian faith?

What has happened to our Canadian right to freedom of speech and freedom of religion? Well, this effort by the school authorities to deprive William Swinimer of his freedom to quietly express his faith in a public arena is just one more indication that Canada is well on the way to transforming itself into an aggressive, secular state that insists on uniform compliance with political correctness. Militant secularists progressively attempt to sideline, minimize, label, ridicule, and then suppress the expression of Christian ideas, morality, and ethics in the media and all other arenas of public life.

Why do the secularists do this? Well, it’s obvious. The spiritual worldview taught by the Bible and faith and the secular worldview of materialism and unbelief are diametrically opposed to each other.

When Tory MP Stephen Woodworth introduced his Motion 312 in Ottawa—asking for a parliamentary committee to be formed to review scientific evidence about when human life actually begins so that our 400-year-old definition in the criminal code might be updated—all hell broke loose. The secularists called Woodworth’s motion “an insulting and offensive attack on women’s rights.” They’ve labeled him a “misogynist” and an “ultra-conservative.”

The secularists and pro-abortion people, of course, don’t want a public investigation, or—horrors—a debate on what the scientific evidence on the subject might reveal about when a human being actually becomes a human being. They want to suppress any such parliamentary investigation at all costs. They shudder at the idea that a review of the evidence and a discussion about the morals and ethics of when it’s okay to kill a human fetus might make them look hard-hearted and selfish. Of course, Christianity’s long-held position is that a “good” society promotes loving one’s neighbour—even the most powerless, weak, and vulnerable neighbour of them all.

So, when an audacious teen-ager wears to public school a T-shirt saying, “Life is wasted without Jesus,” uneasy consciences convict the secularists who are indeed upset at the profound implications of that slogan. So, they must suppress the message and punish the one standing in for the Messenger.

The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out. It’s written, I’ll turn conventional wisdom on its head, I’ll expose so-called experts as crackpots.
So where can you find someone truly wise, truly educated, truly intelligent in this day and age? Hasn’t God exposed it all as pretentious nonsense? Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in his wisdom took delight in using what the world considered dumb—preaching, of all things!—to bring those who trust him into the way of salvation (1 Corinthians 1:18-21 The Message paraphrase).

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The Arab Spring’s Blossoms of Hate

On Monday March 12th, the new Islamist-dominated Egyptian parliament unanimously voted to expel Israel’s ambassador in Cairo and to stop all natural gas exports. Secondarily, the Egyptian parliamentarians resolved that Egypt would never [no longer?] be a friend, partner or ally of the “Zionist entity.” [Note: Islamists can’t bring themselves to say the word “Israel” because it contradicts their worldview.] Thirdly, that unmentionable neighbouring nation with whom they currently have a legally binding peace treaty is to be labeled henceforth as Egypt’s “number one enemy.” Finally, the parliament requested the governing military administration review all agreements with the “Zionist entity” with the implied desire to repudiate them. This news report by the Associated Press was filed by Hamza Hendawi this week.

So, here we are! About a year after the “Arab Spring” in Egypt resulted in the overthrow of the authoritarian government of Hosni Mubarak, the flowers of ethnic hate and future conflict are beginning to blossom once again in the land of the pharaohs.


For 33 years Egypt and Israel have been at peace following the treaty signed by the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and the late Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. For this diplomatic good work both leaders were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, as the world breathed a sigh of relief. During Sadat’s acceptance speech for his Nobel recognition, Sadat emphasized the importance of rejecting the way of hate and violence in the Middle East:

Let us put an end to wars, let us reshape life on the solid basis of equity and truth. And it is this call, which reflected the will of the Egyptian people, of the great majority of the Arab and Israeli peoples, and indeed of millions of men, women, and children around the world that you are today honoring. And these hundreds of millions will judge to what extent every responsible leader in the Middle East has responded to the hopes of mankind.”

Though genuinely popular with many Egyptians at the time it was signed, the peace treaty, however, remained deeply unpopular among Egyptian Islamists who darkly nursed their grudges against Israel and the Jews during the last three decades that they were out of power. They were persecuted by the Sadat and Mubarak government and left idly sitting on their hands. Some even cooled their heels in prison. But you know what they say, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.


About 2 ½ years after the signing of the peace treaty with Israel, Egyptian Islamists hatched a plot and assassinated Anwar Sadat. They murdered Egypt’s only Nobel peace prize-winner. This murder was encouraged by an Islamic religious legal interpretation written by a Muslim cleric who hated Sadat for violating Islamic precedent by making a real peace treaty with an enemy.

Obviously, the founder of Islam, Mohammad, neither said, nor taught, nor believed the spiritual concepts of “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God” and “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:9, 44). The historical record and even the testimony of Islam’s own “sacred writings” reveal that Mohammad was a bloody man who waged war against and slaughtered many thousands who opposed him and his religious ideas. And he encouraged his followers to do exactly the same murderous things.

Mohammad and his followers are not the Arabic equivalent of Jesus and his disciples. One of Jesus’ most important followers was the Jew known to us as the Apostle Paul. When it came to the subject of using violence to deal with enemies, Paul wrote this:

If someone has done you wrong, do not repay him with a wrong. Try to do what everyone considers to be good. Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody. Never take revenge, my friends, but instead let God’s anger do it. For the scripture says, I will take revenge, I will pay back, says the Lord. Instead, as the scripture says: If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them a drink; for by doing this you will make them burn with shame. Do not let evil defeat you; instead, conquer evil with good (Romans 12:17-21 Good News Translation).

This subject is but one of the many that reveal how greatly the teachings of Jesus and his disciples differ from those of Mohammad and his followers.

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Who was the original Christmas grinch?

I challenge you to search the Bible from one end to the other to find a reference to the Christmas celebration or any mention of the early Apostolic church celebrating Christ’s birth on December 25. I’m not talking about the gospel accounts describing the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem during the Fall [late September early October]—as the gospel accounts themselves and known historical facts reveal. I’m talking about scriptural proof that would establish that the early Church of Peter and Paul taught the observance of Christmas in late December or at any other time of the year. In fact it was nearly 300 years after the death of Jesus of Nazareth and his apostles before the Roman Catholic Church invented Christmas. During the period of Oliver Cromwell’s Puritan Commonweath in both England and the New England colonies, about 1640-1660, the celebration of Christmas was forbidden:

During this brief period, the English Parliament banned the celebration of Christmas entirely, considering it ‘a popish festival with no biblical justification’, and a time of wasteful and immoral behavior.
See http://www.olivercromwell.org/faqs4.htm

The bottom line is that the celebration of Christmas is merely a human tradition having no divine sanction. Its origins rest with the Roman Catholic Church in the mid-300s A.D. Would Jesus himself condemn the Christmas celebration? Consider this comment that he made regarding man-made religious traditions developed, supposedly, for the purpose of honouring God:

These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God (Matthew 15:8-10 New Living Translation).

How ironic. What the Bible does teach about true spiritual holy days and practices in the Law of God, for example in Leviticus 23, people mostly ignore and fail to reflect upon. While what the Scriptures do not teach—or even teach against—that, people do. And, they do such things while justifying themselves by saying they’re honouring God and Jesus. We should rather consider carefully what the Scriptures are actually telling us:

And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they [Mary and Joseph] brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel [and now throughout the entire world], and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:22-25 English Standard Version).

Of course, for many people any excuse such as Christmas is a good excuse to go shopping and to have a party. But the fact remains that Jesus and his apostles were the original Christmas grinches! They didn’t keep it. Rather they kept the Holydays found in Leviticus 23. Christmas is nothing but bait and switch humbuggery. The sooner this world learns to discern between true biblical reality and the popular alluring counterfeits such as Christmas masquerading as a Christian festival, the sooner we will experience a global blossoming of genuine peace on this earth. As Jesus taught:

Do not think that I have come to do away with or undo the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to do away with or undo but to complete and fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until the sky and earth pass away and perish, not one smallest letter nor one little hook [identifying certain Hebrew letters] will pass from the Law until all things [it foreshadows] are accomplished. Whoever then breaks or does away with or relaxes one of the least [important] of these commandments and teaches men so shall be called least [important] in the kingdom of heaven, but he who practices them and teaches others to do so shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness (your uprightness and your right standing with God) is more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:17-20 Amplified Bible).

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Mining a Reputation


Starting on June 3, 2011, and continuing periodically throughout the summer a group of wealthy individuals hiding behind anonymity and fictitious names with false return addresses began distributing on the Internet site Alfredlittle.com a string of hard-hitting allegations against Silvercorp Metals Inc. alleging various forms of fraud in accounting practices, production statistics, and asset transactions.

Silvercorp is a mostly China-focused precious metals miner whose shares trade on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges under the symbol SVM. The company is considered so significant by the financial industry that its stock is included in the calculation of several bellweather S&P/TSX indices.


Taking advantage of a generalized public suspicion about the reliability of the financial statements of some Chinese businesses, this group of anonymous accusers, who are part of what Silvercorp’s chairman labels the “short and distort industry,” has been able to successfully effect wild price swings in the stock’s value by spreading allegations that Silvercorp’s chairman, Dr. Rui Feng, vociferously rebuts as lies.

Is this a classic smear campaign orchestrated by a group of false witnesses to make huge profits from engaging in what is known by the financial industry as “short selling”? In Silvercorp’s case these rumors are estimated to have wiped out at least temporarily about $1.5 billion from the company’s total value in stock.


Legitimate short-sellers regularly make bets or speculations on information derived from market research or maybe just following up a hunch with old-fashioned on-site investigation. Bad financial news resulting in under-performing quarterly results will drive down the price of a stock. Short-selling a Company’s stocks in such instances is a fair game and legal in most Western countries. But to deliberately spread false rumors and lies in a campaign to manipulate a stock’s price is, however, explicitly illegal. The British Columbia Securities Commission is looking into the Alfredlittle.com allegations.

“Simon Moore,” who claims to be the managing editor of Alfredlittle.com, in his defense of the authors’ use of anonymity in writing their inflammatory reports, states that the allegations were compiled by Chinese nationals who are “risking their necks” in a nation without our standards of freedom of speech. It is true that China does lack the rule of law according to Western standards.

Yet, It’s amazing how much money could perhaps be made from “bearing false witness against your neighbour.” The anonymous Alfredlittle.com short-selling authors admit to having a motive to benefit financially from what they call “truthful allegations.” Profiting from a string of accusations while hiding behind a shield of anonymity is suspicious. But where does the truth lie in this matter? It’s hard for the stockholders to tell, isn’t it?

Did you know that the Judeo-Christian scriptures talk extensively about this issue? Human nature has not changed over the millennia and getting to the bottom of highly charged accusations was already a major issue 3,400 years ago. Read what Moses wrote in the Law of God:

16 If a malicious witness testifies against someone accusing him of a crime, 17 the two people in the dispute must stand in the presence of the LORD before the priests and judges in authority at the time. 18 The judges are to make a careful investigation, and if the witness turns out to be a liar who has falsely accused his brother, 19 you must do to him as he intended to do to his brother. You must purge the evil from you. 20 Then everyone else will hear and be afraid, and they will never again do anything evil like this among you (Deuteronomy 19:16-20 Holmen Christian Standard Bible).


From the viewpoint of the Scriptures, anonymous accusations or denunciations of a crime were inadmissible in any legal proceedings against God’s people in ancient Israel. And, the punishment for transgressing the law and accusing someone falsely was to be appropriate to the damage caused by the false accusation. If you were a false witness guilty of accusing someone falsely of a capital crime, punishable by death, then you would receive that just punishment yourself. If you accused someone falsely of a property crime, then you would have to make the appropriate restitution to the victim.

According to Jesus of Nazareth, bearing false witness or lying is such an important issue that from a spiritual perspective it becomes a life or death issue (cf. Matthew 19:17-19). In fact, the fate of “all liars,” of all who knowingly convey untruth by word or deed, was to be tossed into the lake of fire, which is the second death. (Revelation 21:6-8) Eternal death, that’s definitely not worth risking for the sake of making just a few millions dollars through a fraudulent smear campaign.

If you would like to know more about this subject in detail, go to my video on this subject posted online at: http://cogwebcast.com/sermons/video-archives/divine-directives-the-ninth-commandment/

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The Difference between Rich and Poor

Your average person assumes that the rich people of this world are just like them—only that they have a lot more money! Well, you know what they say about the word “assume,” don’t you? When one assumes something he or she takes a risk of making an “ass” out of “u” and “me.” So how are the rich different from the poor?

Writing in the journal, Current Directions in Psychological Science, Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at U.C. Berkeley, suggests that our society assumes that the lower socio-economic classes have all the problems in life. Granted, he says, the poor truly are more susceptible to all kinds of diseases and health problems than the rich. However, the poor have something extremely valuable that the rich haven’t been able to buy up with their piles of “filthy lucre.”

In fact this qualitative distinction between rich and poor classes—please note that class difference has been markedly increasing in the Western world—has become so pronounced that neutral observers can determine a person’s socio-economic class based on merely 60 seconds of video-taped social interaction.

During those 60 seconds of human contact between two strangers, your typical rich person reveals his class affiliation through consistent displays of social behaviours that are lacking in empathy, social engagement, generosity, and sensitivity. In comparison, your typical member of the lower classes instinctively treats others with far more empathy, altruism, and sensitivity because a person who is NOT wealthy has learned that he or she needs other human beings to survive and prosper. Lower class people learn early in life that they have to ask for help when they need it and to offer it to others in return. In contrast, the wealthy generally feel entitled to “focus on the self” and they believe that they’ve earned their own opportunities without the help of others.

The research model that produced such conclusions is not a fluke. It’s been replicated nearly a dozen times by other psychological researchers. Most charities have long known that the poor will give three times more as a percentage of their pre-tax income to help others than the rich. This charitable fact of life has been consistent for the almost 40 years that I’ve been involved with religious charities. It has always been the poor people who’ve carried the major part of the financial burden of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s the $10, $20, and $50 donations from the working poor and blue collar people for the most part that have enabled the Church to survive and do its work.

Of course, there are notable exceptions to this generality on both sides of the class divide. But perhaps, surprisingly to you, this observation that the rich ARE different in comparison to the poor is not new. In fact this pattern is thousands of years old. Consider this observation made by Jesus of Nazareth:

Another day, a man stopped Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” Jesus said, “Why do you question me about what’s good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you.”
The man asked, “What in particular?” Jesus said, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself.”
The young man said, “I’ve done all that. What’s left?” “If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.”
That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crest-fallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.
As he watched him go, Jesus told his disciples, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for the rich to enter God’s kingdom? Let me tell you, it’s easier to gallop a camel through a needle’s eye than for the rich to enter God’s kingdom” (Matthew 19:16-23 The Message translation by Eugene Peterson).

The problem with too many rich people is that they possess too many things and all this stuff begins to mess with their heads! Things have a perverse way of subtly taking hold of and possessing the possessor. Consequently spiritual attitudes like altruism, self-sacrifice, and doing for one’s neighbour as one would have done for oneself—just end up seeming to cost too much for too many of the wealthy.

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Cheators only cheat themselves


Cheating made the news this week. The fact that it still shocks us (at least somewhat) is an encouraging sign for our society because it indicates that we, the people, still understand that there is something called “right” and “wrong.”

Here in British Columbia two young men recently made the top of the news with a complex, high-tech scheme to cheat a MCAT medical school entrance exam held at the University of Victoria. The cheators used a pinhole camera and a miniaturized radio transmitter/receiver to send the test questions to a remote location at which a couple of unsuspecting University of British Columbia med school students, who thought they were being recruited for a job as a med school tutor, would give the answers. The correct answers were then relayed back to the cheating MCAT test-taker.

Of course, the fact that many students cheat in university or high school is not news. These days most English instructors, habitually, conduct Google key word searches on student-submitted essays to weed out the laziest cheats.

While a cheat who is discovered in high school usually earns only a lecture and a zero grade on the cheated assignment, a university-level cheat can actually have his or her academic career terminated. However, cheating in an educational setting almost never results in criminal charges leading to jail time and/or a fine.

So it made the news when the Province of British Columbia filed criminal charges for committing a fraud over $5,000 against MCAT cheats Housman Rezazadeh-Azarfor and J. Miguel Ruben. After all, a compromised MCAT med school entrance exam can no longer be used. Creating a replacement test costs about $200,000 to $400,000. Obviously cheating is not a crime without a cost. Besides, the very idea of allowing unqualified MCAT cheats to eventually become licensed medical doctors to whom we might in the future turn to for help with some sort of disease or medical emergency still gives most of us the willies, including our police and crown prosecutors.

Yes, the fact that incidents of cheating still have the capacity to arouse public indignation means that there’s still hope for us. And that’s why I continue to write!

At the WorldTomorrow.Ca we seek to shine the light of bibilically-based ethics and morality on what goes on in our society. We seek to persuade or to reaffirm to our readers that in the long run, a happy, productive, and successful life can only be found by actively pursuing and living the truth with integrity.

So, just what is the truth? And what role should the truth play in our lives? Jesus of Nazareth said:

17Your word is the truth. So let this truth make them completely yours (John 17:17 Contemporary English Version).

Older Bible translations say that this truth “sanctifies” us or makes us “holy.” These are words most 21st Century people don’t understand. A person who is sanctified or made holy to God is one who is set apart or devoted to God’s service. Believing and living God’s truth are the essential requirements for anyone who desires a never-ending life that will be overflowing with happiness, joy, and peace of mind.

Isn’t this what true success in life is all about? Stuff and status in the present world are meaningless in the big picture of the universe’s reality. There is a great deal of irony in the fact that cheators think cheating and fraudulent behaviour will open to them the doors to life’s real success. Consider this story told by Jesus about a cheat:

1-2Jesus said to his disciples, “There was once a powerful CEO who had a manager. He got reports that the manager had been taking advantage of his position by running up huge personal expenses. So he called him in and said, ‘What’s this I hear about you? You’re fired. And I want a complete audit of your books.’
3-4″The manager said to himself, ‘What am I going to do? I’ve lost my job as manager. I’m not strong enough for a laboring job, and I’m too proud to beg. . . . Ah, I’ve got a plan. Here’s what I’ll do . . . then when I’m turned out into the street, people will take me into their houses.’
5″Then he went at it. One after another, he called in the people who were in debt to his CEO’s agricultural commodities company. He said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my boss?’
6″He replied, ‘A hundred truckloads of olive oil.’
“The manager said, ‘Here, take your bill, sit down here—quick now— write fifty.’
7″To the next he said, ‘And you, what do you owe?’
“He answered, ‘A hundred train cars of wheat.’
“He said, ‘Take your bill, write in eighty.’
8-9″Now here’s a surprise: The CEO praised the cheat! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials [on God’s priorities], so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on clever cheats.”

10-13Jesus went on to make these comments:

If you’re honest in small things,
you’ll be honest in big things;
If you cheat in small things,
you’ll be a cheat in big things.
If you’re not honest in small jobs,
who will put you in charge of the store?
No worker can serve two bosses:
He’ll either hate the first and love the second
Or adore the first and despise the second.
You can’t serve both God and Selfish Materialism (Luke 16:1-13, mostly The Message translation, italicized portions by me).

Cheating, fraud, deception—sad to say—have become all too commonplace in our “progressive” society of the 21st Century. While our standards of ethical behaviour are truly and progressively degenerating, don’t you get caught up in this slide to self-destruction. Remember, cheats only cheat themselves out of what is the enduring best in life.

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Harold Camping and other Apocalyptic Imposters

As amazing as this lovely sunny Victoria Day weekend may seem, the American radio evangelist, Harold Camping and his followers, who are mostly evangelical Protestants, are adamantly expecting and vociferously announcing to the world that there will be a massive earthquake rolling around the planet through its various time zones on May 21st at about 6 p.m. The earthquake, according to these people, who strongly proclaim themselves to be Bible-believing Christians, will signal their Rapture to heaven as Christ’s true believers, and the beginning of Judgment Day upon the ungodly who are left behind. Or, so they think.

Camping, using a ton of money given to him by his “sheep,” has paid for more than 2,000 billboards, many full-page advertisements in major newspapers, and countless radio programs in order to broadcast and publicize this latest incarnation of an End of the World prediction addiction.

To the liberal media, people like Harold Camping are indeed made in heaven! Mostly secular and cynical, the press has long had a morbid fascination for people like Harold Camping They’re great for the “news” business! Besides, from their perspective, such weirdo prophecy bugs can serve as useful straw-men in the ideological political struggle between left and right over the role of Biblical morality in our society. After all, according to press’ logic, if someone like Harold Camping, who proclaims himself to be such a strong believer in the Bible, actually reveals himself to be a complete moron, then anyone else who believes what the Bible teaches must also be one. Thanks Harold for making their job so easy!

Harold Camping is ignorant of what the Bible teaches. He has loudly and widely misrepresented Scriptural teachings bringing disrepute onto the name of God, Jesus Christ, and the Church. Shame, shame, shame on him! Camping should have bothered to take the time to read Matthew 25:1-13:

1 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
6 “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

These are trying times for all believers. People like Harold Camping—who are spouting pride, deception and doctrinal lies—are just making life difficult for both you and for me by bringing Christianity into disrepute. Listen to what the Apostle Paul wrote to his coworker Timothy about these times:

1 You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!
6 They are the kind who work their way into people’s homes and win the confidence of vulnerable women who are burdened with the guilt of sin and controlled by various desires. 7 (Such women are forever following new teachings, but they are never able to understand the truth.) 8 These teachers oppose the truth just as Jannes and Jambres [unbelievers] opposed Moses. They have depraved minds and a counterfeit faith. 9 But they won’t get away with this for long. Someday everyone will recognize what fools they are, just as with Jannes and Jambres. 10 But you, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance. 11 You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured. You know all about how I was persecuted in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra—but the Lord rescued me from all of it. 12 Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived (2 Timothy 3 New Living Translation).

Don’t allow yourself to be deceived by imposters like Harold Camping. Jesus actually warned His disciples about this!

As he [Jesus] sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray (Matthew 24:3-5 English Standard Version).

Most of today’s deceivers are not going about saying that they are the returning Messiah. Rather, they are saying they are Christians, and all that one needs to do is say, “I believe Jesus is the Christ.” This common verbal profession is camouflage or subterfuge. The real test to determine who is a faithful servant of Jesus Christ is not revealed by words but by actions.

The Apostle John explained this validity test in his first general circular letter to the Churches:

And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked (1 John 2:3-6 ESV).

You will be able to eliminate 99.9% of the so-called “Christians” with apocalyptic prediction addiction syndrome if you ask yourself: do they remember to keep holy the 7th day of the week, the Sabbath. Secularly this day is called Saturday and the commandment to keep it holy is stated in the 4th of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:8 and Deuteronomy 5:12. As the New Covenant’s book of Hebrews points out:

There remains, therefore, Sabbath-keeping [Greek: sabbatismos] for the people of God (Hebrews 4:9 Coulter Translation).

When Christ returns as prophecy foretells, He will give “rest” and bring peace to a war torn world, but meanwhile, followers of Christ will be honouring Him weekly by keeping His Sabbath rest. God only grants spiritual discernment and knowledge of future events to those who are willing to obey HIm. So, I dare say, neither the cynical secular press, nor the religious false prophets like Harold Camping— all of whom refuse to obey God’s commandments—are going to be able to clearly understand Scriptural prophecy before the actual Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

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Picture this… the Second Coming of Osama Bin Laden

In a CBS News interview yesterday, U.S. President Barak Obama rejected releasing grisly death pictures of the al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden, saying,

“We don’t trot this stuff out as trophies… The fact of the matter is, this was somebody who was deserving of the justice that he received, and I think Americans and people around the world are glad that he is gone. But we don’t need to spike the football” (referring to the iconic athletic enthusiasm exhibited by American footballers when they score touchdown points).

Yes, Bin Laden was indeed worthy of the death penalty as he led the terrorist organization responsible for the massacre of many thousands of innocent people. As the Judeo-Christian scriptures explicitly teach in the Law:

However, if someone deliberately kills another person, then the slayer must be dragged even from my altar and be put to death (Exodus 21:13 New Living Translation).

A few bullets to the head administered by a Navy SEAL, however, is just the beginning of the justice process for Osama Bin Laden.

In this, President Barak Obama, a self-professing Christian, seems to be ignorant. While acknowledging in the CBS interview that some people will indeed deny the certainty of Bin Laden’s execution without the release of convincing pictures, Obama asserted:

There is no doubt that Osama Bin Laden is dead. Certainly there is no doubt among al-Qaida members that he is dead…There are going to be some folks who deny it. The fact of the matter is, you will not see Bin Laden walking on the Earth again (Sheldon Alberts, Postmedia News, May 5, 2011).

Well, the real fact of the matter is, and this will be news to President Obama and perhaps many readers, Osama Bin Laden will yet again walk on the Earth! Yes, you read that correctly. There will be a “Second Coming” of this killer. And I’m not just talking metaphorically as when some other murderous Muslim fanatic commits similar crimes under the inspiration of Osama Bin Laden’s example.

How can I make such an assertion? Well, the fact of the matter is, as explained in multiple places in the Holy Scriptures, such a “Second Coming” is precisely what is going to happen to Osama Bin Laden. Notice this biblical prophecy foretelling what shall take place in the End Time:

“At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people [He is one of God’s archangels]. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:1-2 English Standard Version).

Even the New Covenant’s Apostle Paul asserted that bad men like Bin Laden will come to life again and walk on the Earth:

…there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust (Acts 25:15 ESV).

Why would God bother to bring back the bad guys? Well, God has a plan for every mortal human being including you, and me:

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27 King James Version).

Jesus Christ himself, the Son of God, taught there is indeed coming a time of reckoning for all who have ever lived, including wicked men like Osama Bin Laden and all his al-Qaida crew of cutthroats:

Do not be surprised and wonder at this, for the time is coming when all those who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and they shall come out–those who have practiced doing good [will come out] to the resurrection of [new] life, and those who have done evil will be raised for judgment [raised to meet their sentence] (John 5:28-29 Amplified Version).

The fact of the matter is, the real judgment day is still to come when Bin Laden will stand in the docket to fully answer for his behaviour. I’m looking forward to having a courtroom seat to witness such an event. But in the meantime I’m making it my business to be among those whom God will call righteous rather than unrighteous. How about you?

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Looking out for Wisconsin’s and Nanaimo’s best interest

On Friday, April 1, 2011, the Wisconsin state governor Scott Walker signed into law an immensely controversial bill passed by that state’s legislature the previous evening despite death threats, intimidation, and large demonstrations by organized labour supporters. The new law effectively puts this Midwestern state’s public-sector unions on a diet of low-fat cheese at a time when many American states and municipalities are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. The consequences of such defaults on state and municipal financial obligations would be profound.

The Wisconsin Republican governor, arguing that he was elected in order to make the tough decisions needed by the times, successfully pushed this change in the law. Walker consistently said that both the state and its local governments needed it in order for them to balance their budgets. Without it, large numbers of public employees would have to be laid off, and/or taxes would be increased.

The new Wisconsin law effectively reduces the power of some public-sector labour unions. It limits future public employee pay raises to the inflation rate, requires public-sector unions to hold annual certification votes, and no longer allows those unions to collect their union dues directly from their member’s pay cheques. The revised law also requires public employees to make greater contributions to their pension and medical plans.

For decades now, public-sector labour unions have been the fastest growing part of the organized labour movement in North America. These unions have secured for their members high wages and pension benefits that are often far more generous than those accessible to the average joe in the private sector.

When the North American economy was significantly growing in girth by leaps and bounds such generosity to its public employees seemed affordable. But since the economic shock of 2008 and the accompanying severe decline in tax receipts, it has become inevitable that an obese public sector would have to start dieting for the long-term good of their communities.

While the Wisconsin legislators were bravely running the gauntlet of protesting, high-fat demanding, cheese-heads in their quest to skim the state’s milk, I was sitting in a non-descript Nanaimo high school meeting room listening to our local school district’s parent advisory council discuss the cuts that will have to be made in the district’s budget.

In Nanaimo, we don’t even have low-fat dairy creamer for DPAC representatives’ tea or coffee—just that phony white plastic-fat powder. Should we recommend that the school district charge parents for the privilege of allowing their kids to take the school buses? Maybe we should advocate charging teachers for their parking spaces in the school lots? Cuts to programs? Close schools? Two weeks for spring vacation instead of one? Even if we suggested selecting all of the above that still wouldn’t find us the necessary 3 to 4 million dollars in cuts our school district will need to make in 2011-2012 to balance our schools’ budget.

The problem is that of our $120 million annual school budget 93% is wages—most of which is negotiated by the Province of British Columbia with its educational public-sector unions and is untouchable. That leaves roughly 7% or $8.4 million to fund the district’s educational programs and to buy stuff like texts books for all students.

I pointed out at our DPAC meeting that, if our priority goal was really to educate young people, then budget cuts should come from the 93% of the budget going to public-sector employees rather than from the 7% needed to provide students with quality programming. Yet, most likely, the $3-4 million in cuts will come from this remaining 7% of the budget used for our students because this cut will cause the least amount of controversy among the arguing interested groups. But this means a devastating potential reduction of 35 to 47% in our ability, in dollar terms, to create effective and relevant educational programs for our young people!

But I’m sure when the open public meetings start on this problem next week in Nanaimo that we will have as many hard feelings and heated arguments expressed as have the people in Wisconsin.

It would seem that in our contemporary wrangling over public budget shortfalls that we could all use a reminder from the Apostle Paul about how we should approach working out what’s really in the best interest for our communities as a whole:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:3-5 New American Standard Bible).

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Japanese tsunami hits

Earthquake, tsunami, nuclear meltdown—what’s next?


Japanese tsunami hits

Destroying everything in its path


Massive earthquake, monster tsunami, nuclear disaster! I was listening on the CBC Radio One to an interview with the Japanese ambassador to Canada. He said his country could be likened to a supermarket for disasters.

The posted online videos of these Japanese disasters are astounding. One such video taken by someone who had fled for safety to the high ground behind his village, captured the event and its emotion. There, setting up his video camera on a tripod, the videographer captured the onslaught of the tsunami as it relentlessly swallowed up his village below. The Japanese tend to be a reserved, stoic people. But even they were moved by the horror unfolding before their very eyes. The camera’s microphone captured their gasps and cries of astonishment and pain from the group of survivors, watching everything below them that they cherished being destroyed by the tsunami’s irresistible power. Their sense of loss must have been incalculable.

We, post-moderns, tend to take a lot for granted. We think tomorrow will be just like today—only better! As such, we tend to be a very self-confident, self-assured bunch. So when such a disaster befalls people who drive cars like we do, who dress like we dress, who enjoyed a prosperous Western life like we enjoy, somewhere in the backs of our minds we feel uneasy. We feel a bit unsettled. Maybe we even sense our own lack permanence or stability when faced with death and destruction on such a massive scale.

What should be our perspective on the uncertain, temporary nature of life on a planet made up of shifting tectonic plates? The Bible would encourage us to seriously reflect on the big picture—the true picture—about just what is important in life.

Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil (James 4:13-16 New Living Translation).

The values being pushed by our mass media are almost entirely focused on acquiring physical stuff and physical pleasure. However, the present disaster in Japan ought to give you and me some pause to reflect on one of Jesus’ most important teachings directed at this generation:

“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God” (Luke 12:21 NLT).

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Men of Honor - Genral Lee surrenders to Grant

How do we restore our honour?


Men of Honor - Genral Lee surrenders to Grant

Does honour have a role in our society anymore? Or, is it just a relic of the past that had, perhaps, its last great hurrah at Appomattox with Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant along with all those Red Badge of Courage soldiers of the American Civil War?

For many in our modern society the whole concept of honour seems to be antiquated, quaint, or maybe even dangerous. Certainly, some today talk up their own “honour” as ugly window-dressing to excuse their own bad and or even evil behaviour. As poet Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote of one such hypocrite: “The louder he talked of his honour, the faster we counted our spoons.”

Are we losing our sense of honour? Over 2,100 years ago, an emancipated Syrian slave named Publilius Syrus, who was publically recognized by Julius Caesar for his quick wit and wisdom, asked, “What is left when honour is lost?” The answer, of course, is… not much and not for long.

Think about this. For the last 30-40 years the Western liberal democracies have supported corrupt autocratic despots throughout North Africa and the Middle East despite the fact the all these nations’ governing elites actively were suppressing with force or buying off with bribery their own populations. Western governments sold out their political ideals in favour of realpolitik compromise in order to continue accessing cheap oil.

The European and North American governments were even willing to tolerate Muammar Qaddafi—a serial mass murderer proven to be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of their own citizens not to count the thousands of Libyans who perished at his orders. Our Western governments were willing to hold their noses despite Qaddafi’s stench of death just to continue accessing Libya’s “sweet crude” at cheap prices. Crude indeed! Where was honour? It had vanished in the West.

Six months ago on August 28, 2010, conservative media personality Glenn Beck held his ‘Restoring Honour’ rally on America’s National Mall in Washington, D.C., drawing a crowd of about 100,000. Enormously controversial, perspectives on Beck and his rally diverged sharply according to the typical American left-right political divide.

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly described it as an “appeal for a return to Judeo-Christian values” and called it “a huge victory for Glenn Beck and Americans who believe that his message of honour and dignity is worthwhile.” Conversely, liberal radio host Bill Press, who attended the rally personally, criticized the “Christian religious fervor” of the event, remarking that at one point he expected Beck “to part the Reflecting Pool and walk across it.” Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post described Beck as an “egomaniacal talk-show host who profit(s) handsomely from stoking fear, resentment and anger”, while calling his “absurdly titled” rally “an exercise in self-aggrandizement on a Napoleonic scale.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restoring_Honor_rally”

It is amazing how the subject of honour, or teaching honour, or rebuilding standards of honour should be such a divisive, hot-button issue. Nevertheless it is! And the reason for this controversy over restoring honour is because the old, once agreed upon moral and ethical standards that once underpinned the concept of honour in our civilization have also vanished.

Recently, Brigham Young University, a private Mormon university in Provo, Utah, created quite a stir in the collegiate sports world—or maybe, astonishment is the better word—when it disqualified Brandon Davies from BYU’s highly ranked basketball team just prior to the NCAA championship tournament. Now for the uninitiated sportsphobe, Brandon Davies is not just your average hoopster. He is, or rather was, the BYU b-ball team’s superstar. Some say that it was his talent on the court that had made BYU a NCAA trophy contender. But whatever Brandon Davies basketball ability, it made no difference to the BYU administrators concerned with upholding the honour of their institution. Davies ran afoul of BYU’s Honour Code by having pre-marital sex with his girlfriend and that got him cut from the eligibility list. The BYU Honour Code cuts no special deals for “privileged personalities.” It states rather simply:

Be honest
Live a chaste and virtuous life
Obey the law and all campus policies
Use clean language
Respect others
Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, and substance abuse
Participate regularly in church services
Observe the Dress and Grooming Standards
Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code
http://saas.byu.edu/catalog/2010-2011ucat/GeneralInfo/HonorCode.php#HCOfficeInvovement

Let’s be frank. With the exemption of Brigham Young’s Mormon idiosyncrasies regarding “alcoholic beverages… tea, coffee,” the rest of the BYU Honor Code is soundly based on the Judeo-Christian scriptures that have been the primary moral foundation for much of the Western world’s sense of personal honour for some 2,000 years. But in the “progressive” 2011 world of university amateur sports, such a code of honourable conduct no longer exists—or, perhaps it is more accurate to say, it is no longer really enforced even if those educational and sports institutions still have it on the books. To them even the mere idea of an honor code is laughable! Why?

Well, winning university sports programs equal big money: tens of millions of dollars from broadcast license fees, ticket sales, swag sales, corporate sponsorship and alumni donations. Winning is the only thing that counts to those institutions of lower learning. The profitable ends are seen as justifying the corrupt means. This is just like Western governments tolerating oppression and the spilled blood of innocents so they can keep the cheap “sweet crude” flowing. They’re immorally equivalent. Joe O’Connor, a reporter with National Post newspaper, observed:

College sports in the United States are awash with scurrilous dealings and out-and-out skullduggery. Schools with long and glorious winning traditions and boosters with money to burn will often resort to, well, just about anything to entice a superstar high school athlete to play for them and, once they are enrolled, do almost anything they can to keep them happy.
Need some new clothes? Done. Spending money? No problem. A car? Take mine. Free gas? Fill ’er up. Having trouble in school? We’ll write the test. Homesick? How about a prostitute? Yes. A prostitute. College athletes, the best of the best, are treated like gods. Naughty gods, while college coaches and athletic administrators are the great corrupters.
http://sports.nationalpost.com/2011/03/05/student-of-morals-byu-star-dropped-for-premarital-sex/

As the acerbic satirist H.L Mencken once wrote, “The difference between a [im]moral man and a man of honor is that the latter regrets a discreditable act, even when it has worked and he has not been caught.” (Prejudices: Fourth Series,’ 1924). Pardon my brackets of scribal emendation.

Today, while many American lefties discount the idea of having a rally to promote the idea of “restoring honour,” it should be noted that honour is the main reason the United States of America survived and prospered to become the most powerful nation in the world after its Civil War of some 150 years ago. How so?

On April 9, 1865, Robert E. Lee, commanding general of the Army of Northern Virginia, was staring defeat in the eye. The southern Confederate States of America were in deep trouble after four years of warfare with the much richer and materially stronger northern United States of America. Surrounded on three sides by his foes, Lee knew that the history books are almost always written by a war’s victors. Typically in a civil war/rebellion situation, the victors get the spoils while the losers get it in the neck—just like in Libya today.

If Robert E. Lee surrendered to the opposing Union general, Ulysses S. Grant, he had no idea what his fate or that of his men would be. Humiliation? Prisoner of war camp? Execution as criminals? Neither Lee nor his men were afraid to die. They had already proven that countless times during the previous four years. But dishonour was something else. What should he do? Lee’s alternative to surrendering his army as a single unit was to allow his army to disband into small units and melt into the forested hills adjacent to his position and to carry on the Confederate struggle by guerrilla warfare.

The odds were that the South might actually beat the North in a protracted, vicious guerrilla conflict, just like the Spanish and Russians beat Napoleon or like, a century later the North Vietnamese and Chinese beat the Americans in Southeast Asia. In fact, historically, Abraham Lincoln and his Union generals’ greatest fear was that the weaker southern Confederacy would opt for guerrilla warfare in order to even the odds with the strong northern Union. They would bleed them white through low intensity conflict and countless small attacks and ambushes. As University of Maryland historian and Wall Street Journal contributor Jay Winik writes:

Total conquest could be resisted, until, perhaps, attrition and exhaustion would lead the North to sue the South for peace…. [Lee] listened to one of his most trusted advisers in the cool early morning hours of April 9…he was doing some quick calculations in his head about the effect that generations of bushwhacking—guerrilla warfare—would have on the country…. What was honorable? What was proper? What is right? He quickly reasoned that a guerrilla war would make a wasteland of all that he loved. Brother would be set against brother, not just for four years, but for generations. Such a war would surely destroy Virginia [and the South], and just as surely destroy the [northern United States] as well.

As [Lee] had once said, ‘It [is] better to do right, even if we suffer in so doing, than to incur the reproach of our consciences & posterity.” Thus, Robert E. Lee, so revered for his leadership in war, made his most historic contribution to peace. By this one momentous decision, he spared the country the divisive guerrilla warfare that surely would have followed, a vile and poisonous conflict” (April 1865, The month that saved America, HarperCollins, 2001, pp. 164-154.)

So, how do we in the 21st Century re-build a sense of honour amongst our peoples in the West? Perhaps surprisingly to some, Jesus of Nazareth pointed the way during his sermon on the mount when he said:

Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honour in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom [of eternal life and light] (Matthew 5:19-20 The Message paraphrase).

This is a remarkable teaching by the Son of Man linking moral thought and godly behaviour to honour. The Ten Commandments, in effect, make for a very effective code of honour. It is short in form and fairly easy to commit to memory. However, its profound, succinct principles have stood the test of time in providing the basis for serious reflection on and guidance in most of the dilemmas and questions that come our way in this life. Blow the dust of your Bible and check them out in either Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5.

As King David of ancient Israel would sing under the stars,

1 LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle?
Who may dwell in Your holy hill?
2 He who walks uprightly,
And works righteousness,
And speaks the truth in his heart;
3 He who does not backbite with his tongue,
Nor does evil to his neighbor,
Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;
4 In whose eyes a vile person is despised,
But he honors those who fear the LORD;
He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
5 He who does not put out his money at usury,
Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved. Psalm 15

Just think what a different world this would be if we actually embraced and lived by such a code of honour.

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Will we be the “Dumbest Generation?”

idiocracy the movie

There is a small, but vocal, group of educational professionals who are deeply worried about the intellectual abilities of young people in secondary and post-secondary education these days. Mark Bauerlein, a professor of English at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, said in his recently published book The Dumbest Generation:

 

According to recent reports from government agencies, foundations, survey firms, and scholarly institutions, most young people in the United States neither read literature (or fully know how), work reliably (just ask employers), visit cultural institutions (of any sort), nor vote (most can’t even understand a simple ballot). They cannot explain basic scientific methods, recount foundations of American history [many Canadian high school students don’t know who Winston Churchill was or what he did], or name any of their local political representatives. What do they happen to excel at is – each other. They spend unbelievable amounts of time electronically passing stories, pictures, tunes, and texts back and forth, savoring the thrill of peer attention and dwelling in a world of puerile banter and coarse images. http://www.dumbestgeneration.com/home.html

Many seasoned teachers say that students today have shorter attention spans than similar students that they taught two decades ago. Too many students are finding it difficult to concentrate seriously on anything requiring sustained intellectual effort. More than a few commentators would conclude that the current generation of students is inordinately focused on their social lives to their long-term intellectual detriment. Even in class many students find it incredibly hard to focus on the task at hand, rather they run their mouths, listen to their iPods, play video games or engage in “social nitwitting” on their so-called smartphones.

26“There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests—look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular. Luke 6:26 The Message, a paraphrase.

As parents and educators we are going counter to the social/cultural currents of our time when we ask young people to take the time to study and reflect on the great literature of the past or the political-social-religious foundations of our Western culture. Intellectual curiosity about the nature of our society and the world around us, the pursuit of logic and an understanding of cause and effect, learning for the sheer joy of learning, and the search for demonstrable, enduring truth seem to get trounced in the battle with the latest media technology – the gaming console, online or cable entertainment, and web-based social-networking.

In his book Mark Bauerlein asserts:

The technology that was supposed to make young adults more astute, diversify their tastes, and improve their minds had the opposite effect.

Some people would suggest that our children are merely shifting to a new type of technology-based learning suitable for the 21st Century. They would imply that the learning is not “inadequate”; it’s just “different.” They might even ask, why should kids need to study civics, history, current events, Shakespeare’s works, or Newton’s Laws, much less philosophy or the Bible any more!

Today’s students may be able to do well on the multiple-choice, machine-gradable standardized tests that allow them to regurgitate facts and figures. But as parents, educators, and leaders in society we need to ask, “how are they doing when it comes to the pursuit of excellence, social responsibility, and truth, instead of the pursuit of grades?” As teachers we know that some of our students in this brave new world of technology are not learning much more than the skills of “cut and paste” to plagiarize the work of others and call it their own. Truth and personal integrity have fallen under the pressure to “succeed” or the age-old enemy: sloth – laziness.

But the love of the truth is the most important element in education. The human mind to be educated must learn how to think and how to decide what is true from what is false. Ethics and morality are the work of reflective thinking. Just having information online doesn’t guarantee that people will be able to recognize and value the truth or use that information in an appropriate or ethical manner. Our young people need a meaningful education that motivates them to become better people. They need a love for the truth! Without this, everything we take for granted—our comfortable lifestyle, our freedoms, our ability to progress spiritually and materially—will erode or even disappear.

When you read the following passage from Scripture you will see that the debate over having a love for the truth is very old.

33 Then Pilate went back into his headquarters and called for Jesus to be brought to him. “Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked him.

34 Jesus replied, “Is this your own question, or did others tell you about me?”

35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate retorted. “Your own people and their leading priests brought you to me for trial. Why? What have you done?”

36 Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”

37 Pilate said, “So you are a king?”

Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”

38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked.

John 18 New Living Translation

Can you recognize and love the truth when you see it? Metaphorically, would you be willing to sell everything you own to possess it like a Pearl of Great Price. Or, are you like Pilate, uncertain or ambivalent when it comes to searching for what is true. It’s a choice we make for ourselves and our children and it will determine whether we will become the “dumbest generation.”

I’ll be live streaming this topic on March 5, 2011 at 11:30 a.m. PST. If you can’t make it then, don’t worry. The broadcast will be archived for later viewing. Check it out at http://cogwebcast.com/

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Merry Christmas? What Jesus would say is surprising

When someone wishes you a “Merry Christmas” how do you respond? Do you say the equivalent of something like “Bah, humbug!”  If so, how can you avoid being thought of as a big green grinch?

A few years ago,  I went to my publisher’s offices in downtown Victoria taking along my son Jazzy in order to pick up some review copies of our book. While talking with a group of maybe six of the publisher’s staff about a problem, one of the women smitten by my son’s coy smile asked Jazzy, “Are you all ready for Christmas.” Jazzy loudly responded, “We don’t keep Christmas!”

Everyone turned their heads and looked at me. What would you have done? What would Jesus have said at that moment? Would He have launched into a tirade about the pagan origins of common Christmas customs and made everyone feel uncomfortable? Or maybe mumbled a non-committal remark about not participating in gross commercialism.

Well, this is what I said with a smile as I looked at the woman, “We keep Hanukkah!” Wow, everyone was really paying attention now. The woman smiled back at me and said, “Say, that sounds like fun. Don’t they eat great food during Hanukkah?” “Yeah,” I said, “Last night we feasted on fried potato pancakes with sour cream and homemade apple sauce, and there’s cheesecake,  too.” The room buzzed and we chatted on for a few more minutes before returning to the work question at hand.

Friends, what would Jesus have done? Would He have said, “I keep Hanukkah?” Let’s look and see what the Scriptures have to say. Please turn with me to the gospel of John chapter 10 verse 22:

“At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the Temple, in the portico of Solomon.”

The festival of Dedication in Hebrew is called Hanukkah. Jesus made a point of being in the Temple for the Hanukkah festivities despite the fact that his enemies in Jerusalem had tried just a few months before to kill him (see John 8:59). Why did Jesus take the risk to going to Jerusalem to keep Hanukkah? What is it about this festival that Jesus thought was important enough to commemorate?

Hanukkah is sometimes called the festival of lights because it is a joyful occasion that commemorates a remarkable deliverance of the people of God from the power of the terrible oppressor Antiochus IV, who ruled a Hellenistic Greek Syrian state that included all the ancient lands Judea in the mid-second century B.C. This modest pagan king liked to call himself Antiochus Epiphanes, which means “Antiochus, the god made manifest.”  Humble guy, eh?

You see, Antiochus, being recently defeated in Egypt by the Romans, expressed his frustration by viciously oppressing his subject people of Judea, ruthlessly slaughtering men, women, and children as well as robbing the Temple of its precious golden altar, the menorahs and other vessels used in the service of God. In his contempt for the God of Israel Antiochus Epiphanes sacrifice a pig to Zeus on the Temple’s altar, and then cooked it in the holy place and then poured the unclean animal’s broth on copies of the Word of God. Antiochus then dispatched officers and soldiers in his army to enforce the worship of his pagan Greek gods throughout Judah. Anyone who resisted or continued to hold to the ways of the God of Israel was to be murdered and their property confiscated. All of this was prophesied in Daniel chapter 11.

Of course, Antiochus’ plans eventually failed due to the brave resistance of a family of Levitical priests known as the Maccabees who knew their God and with God’s miraculous intervention eventually pushed Antiochus’ forces out the Temple. The festival of Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the people and the Temple to the service of God. It commemorates the revealing of the God of Israel to His hard-pressed people through a miraculous deliverance at a time of great danger.

Hanukkah also recounts the LORD’s own acceptance and dedication to His people. You see, at the rededication of God’s altar on Kislev 25, the priests relit the eternal light fueled by olive oil that was always to burn perpetually before the presence of the LORD. But the priests could only find one jar of specially prepared oil that had escaped destruction at the hands of Antiochus Epiphane’s soldiers. Let’s turn to Exodus 27:20-21 to see what God said about this perpetual light and the special olive oil to be used in it:

“And you shall command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually. In the tabernacle of meeting, outside the veil which is before the Testimony, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening until morning before the LORD. It shall be a statue forever to their generations on behalf of the children of Israel.”

Obviously, this perpetually burning lamp of olive oil symbolized the Holy Spirit’s function of revealing spiritual light to the people of God. The miracle of the Hanukkah lights was that even though the people only had enough oil initially to cause the lamp of God to burn for one day, remarkably, one day’s supply lasted for eight days until fresh supplies of olive oil could be prepared and delivered to the Temple. God made up what the people lacked.

So Hanukkah is about the people rededicating themselves to God and God revealing Himself to His people, supplying their needs for His holy oil.

Let’s turn back to John 10:27 and read what Jesus said during the feast of Dedication:

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish [Why can’t we perish? Because God supplies His Holy Spirit, His pure oil to light our lamps before Him forever]; neither shall anyone snatch them out of our hand [no oppressor can overcome God’s plan]. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”

Yes, unlike Antiochus Epiphanes who wanted to reveal himself as a god, our Saviour revealed Himself as the true Son of God.

Friends, these are fascinating parallels. So if someone says to you, “Merry Christmas” just respond as Jesus would and say, “Happy Feast of Dedication, Happy Hanukkah!”

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Is ignorance bliss?

Do you believe that “ignorance is bliss”—especially when it comes to the world’s most important belief system? On September 28th the Pew Research Center published the results of a survey they conducted in the United States about religious knowledge. Surprisingly, the Pew survey discovered that Atheists, Agnostics, and even Jews could answer correctly more questions about the Bible and Christianity than your average Joe or Jane Christian!

What? Unbelievers and Rejectionists know more about the religion Jesus Christ is credited with establishing than those who claim Him to be their Saviour!!! If I hadn’t looked at the stats with my own eyes I would not have believed it. Out of 12 questions about the Bible and Christianity your average Christian could correctly answer only 6.0 questions. Atheists/Agnostics came in statistically with 6.7 right answers with Jews slightly trailing at 6.3.

Mormons as an identified group came in with the highest scores at 7.9 correctly answered out of 12.  Among the various identifiable Christian groups, White Evangelicals scored highest at 7.3, Mainline Protestants came in at 5.8 while Black Protestants did slightly better at 5.9. White Catholics matched the Black Protestants with 5.9, however Hispanic Catholics lagged the entire Christian group with a score of only 4.2.

Out of curiosity, I took a similar test consisting of 15 questions that Pew has online at http://features.pewforum.org/quiz/us-religious-knowledge/index.php in order to see how hard were these questions. I thought it was easy, scoring correctly 14 out of 15 questions. I missed the question about teachers being allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court to lead a class in prayer in U.S. public schools. When I was in public school during the 1960s in New Hampshire my public school teacher read from the Bible and led us in prayer. Okay, things change.  But even with my blooper I still came in ahead of 99% of everyone else who took the test, including university students with post-graduate training who got only 68% right.

Yeah, I know. I’m a preacher and I better know my stuff. But really, these questions were just so…. Well, so basic. I wonder what kind of results a Pew Reseach Center survey would get if they asked really important questions about what the Bible teaches on issues of spiritual life or death?

I just finished celebrating the annual round of Scripturally sanctioned Holy Days that Jesus and his original disciples personally kept as recorded in the Gospels and the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. Yet most Christians as well as fun-loving Atheists, Agnostics, and not a few assimilated Jews will be celebrating this Fall and Winter the Halloween and Christmas holidays—being ignorant of what the Judeo-Christian scriptures actually teach. Does it matter?  Any excuse for a party, right?

Well, you might check out what Jesus thought about those who play fast and loose with true knowledge, or who think that going along with the crowd is bliss even if it is in ignorance.

Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah [the 8th century B.C.E. prophet] was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’ For you ignore God’s law [the knowledge actually found in the Bible] and substitute your own tradition” (Mark 7:6-8 New Living Translation).

I guarantee that whoever prefers to live in ignorance rather than in truth will not find bliss in the World Tomorrow that Jesus talked about throughout the Gospels.

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Is Islam of the Devil?

Terry Jones, leader of a small Protestant church (Dove International Outreach Church in Gainesville, Florida) with about 30 members managed to capture worldwide attention, some would say notoriety, over his plan to burn copies of the Koran, the Islamic holy book on the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington that killed almost 3,000 people.

Mr. Jones asserts that Jesus would have approved of his plan for “Burn a Koran Day”– if he had gone ahead with his symbolic protest. Some people have dismissed Terry Jones’ proposal to burn the Koran as merely an attention-seeking stunt by that preacher to help promote his book entitled “Islam Is of the Devil.”

Nevertheless, this non-event did occupy a significant amount of space in the media both in the West and the Muslim world. As of Sept. 13th, 16 protesters (14 Muslim Indians in Kashmir  plus two Afghanis in Afghanistan) and two Indian policemen have been killed, and scores injured as demonstrators attacked government buildings and burned a Christian school in a protest against the Koran burning that never took place.

One reader of Canada’s National Post newspaper blogged this reaction to a story about the widespread fears of Muslim violence voiced by many Western leaders such as Barak Obama who seem to be more willing to appease Muslim anger through self-censorship rather than defend their own citizens’ free speech rights:

“A Christian’s reaction to someone who burns a Bible: “I forgive you!” A Muslim’s reaction to someone who burns a Koran: “I will kill you!” Now you understand the basic difference between Christianity and Islam.”

Muslims presently account for 22% of the world’s population or 1.5 billion people. By the end of the 21st Century due to their polygamy and greater birth rate, they will account for about 50% of the world’s population.

Unfortunately, Islam and the Koran allow for neither freedom of conscience nor freedom of expression. Just ask yourself, “How many Christian cultural centres/house of worship have been built in or near the historic Ground Zero (Saudi Arabia) of the Islamic politico-religious movement during the last 50 years in order to take care of the spiritual needs of hundreds of thousands of Christian ex-pats working there? The answer is ZERO! And, did you know that any Saudi Arabian Muslim who converts to Christianity is automatically sentenced to death! Should freedom-loving Christians be concerned about such Muslim hypocrisy? Is Islam of the Devil as Pastor Terry Jones maintains?

For secularists this is an impossible question to ask much less answer since their knowledge and experience is limited to mere materialism. Consequently, spiritual understanding is beyond the grasp of most of our Western politicians. However, there is a Middle Easterner who can and did answer this question. His name is Jesus of Nazareth who is popularly called the Christ by Christians.

Surprising, we can simply answer the question of Islam’s moral parentage by answering the question as to Jesus’. Was Jesus the Son of God as well as the Son of Man?

The official Islamic point of view is as quoted:

“And they [Christians] say: ‘The Most Merciful [God] has taken [for Himself] a son.’ Assuredly you [Christians] utter a hideous thing, whereby almost the heavens are torn, and the earth is split asunder and the mountains fall in ruin; that they [Christians] ascribe unto the Most Merciful a son, when it is not suitable for [the Majesty of] the Most Merciful that He should take a son. There is none in the heavens and the earth but comes unto the Most Merciful as a slave,” (Koran 19:88-93).

The official Christian response is given in the gospel of the apostle John who personally worked with Jesus of Nazareth and wrote down his teachings. I will quote this passage substituting the name of one monotheistic people, the Jews, who claim Abraham as their ancestor (through Isaac and Jacob) for another, the Muslims,  (through Ishmael and Esau). See if this helps you answer this question.

John 8:31 (NKJV) Then Jesus said to those Muslims who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.   

37 “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. 38 I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.”

39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.”

Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. 41 You do the deeds of your father.”

Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.”

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”   48 Then the Muslims answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?”

49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. 50 And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges. 51 Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”

52 Then the Muslims said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.’ 53 Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?”

54 Jesus answered, “If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. 55 Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”

57 Then the Muslims said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”

58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” [Jesus was saying that pre-existing His human birth that He was the God of the Old Covenant who delivered the ancient Israelites from the oppressive hands of Pharaoh and the Egyptians. See Exodus 3:14.]

59 Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the [mosque], going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

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The richest get richer while you get unemployment and taxes

It used to be that we in North America like to hear about rising profits and business success in our large corporations. Why? Because we hoped that such good news would translate into more jobs and better paying jobs for us—the middle and working classes. Sadly, this is not the reality for 21st Century North Americans. According to The Economist newsmagazine,

Corporate America has bounced back impressively. The quarterly results season that is now nearly over has revealed that profits are back within a whisker of the all-time highs achieved before the downturn in late 2008,” (p. 62, August 7, 2010).

Why are corporate profits back up to 11% of the U.S.A.’s GDP? Well, big business squeezed down costs through a combination of layoffs, wage cuts, reduced hours, and reduced benefits. Many people have discovered that their once full-time work with benefits has been reduced to part-time work or independent contractor status with few benefits. As The Economist noted “US unit labour costs falling at their fastest clip in the post-war era” made those healthy big business profits possible.

Actually, this trend is not new. It really started more than a generation ago and merely reflects a speeding up of the erosion of the standard of life for the North American middle and working classes.  Our national wealth is rapidly shifting into the pockets of the richest of the rich. Diane Frances said in her article “In most countries people work harder than in U.S., Canada,”Financial Post, Aug. 17. 2010):

In 1980, the richest 1% in the United States received 9% of its total national income. In 2007… the  [top] 1% took home 23% of the income. In the 1970s CEOs made 40 times the average compensation of workers. Now it is 350 times. The top 25 hedge-fund managers (the people who brought you the 2008’s Great Recession) made an average of US$1 Billion and paid 17% income tax, a lower marginal rate than paid by middle-class families.

I still remember the outrage I felt about our economic system some thirty years ago when I was working as a real estate agent in Los Angeles. Back then I was making about $40,000 a year and was paying far more in taxes than some of my clients who were making several millions a year in profits. As Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labour during the Clinton presidency and now a university economics professor, observes,

Bottomline: higher corporate profits no longer lead to higher employment. We’re witnessing a great decoupling of company profits from [North American] jobs ( The Economist, August 7, 2010).

In essence, big corporations have shifted many jobs overseas to much lower wage nations like China while those jobs remaining here are under intense pressure to cut wages/benefits. In his August 28, 2010 commentary in the National Post newspaper entitled “American Apocalypse” Conrad Black notes that while American unemployment is officially listed at about 9.6%, when the chronically underemployed are added into the statistic the real lack of work is around 18% of the U.S. workforce—misery levels approaching those of the 1930s Great Depression.

Nevertheless, the fat cats, the richest of the rich, have successfully manipulated our North American political system to give themselves advantageous tax and securities law treatment. And, of course, the richest of the rich– because they have the power and corporate control–have been rewarding themselves with spectacular pay increases and fantastic bonuses even while they squeeze the pay of their employees in order to keep the gravy train of corporate profits rolling for their own benefit.

Sadly, the avaricious human nature has not changed much over thousands of years. As the Roman Empire became increasingly corrupt, the wealth of the empire became increasingly concentrated into the hands of the wealthy few while the small landowners and free labourers of Italy were increasing squeezed by taxes, cheap imports, and slave labour that undermined their ability to make a decent living. Eventually, the Roman Empire collapsed because few found it in their interest to support it against the “barbarians.” While some aspects of barbarian culture seemed less appealing, like wearing itchy furs, styling one’s hair with rancid butter, and being deeply involved in the weapons culture of the day–on the other hand–the taxes were low to non-existent and one had a shot at dumping debts and getting a new start at life. So area after area of the Roman Empire gradually fell to the control of the freedom-loving “barbarians” moving West—who, of course, were the ancestors of many North Americans. Ironic?

The love of money and social inequity is a serious spiritual  challenge to our present society. Jesus of Nazareth warned us to beware of materialism.

Mark 10:23-25 The Message: Looking at his disciples, Jesus said, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who ‘have it all’ to enter God’s kingdom?” The disciples couldn’t believe what they were hearing, but Jesus kept on: “You can’t imagine how difficult. I’d say it’s easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for the rich to get into God’s kingdom.

This is a real challenge for those of us today who believe that life’s “winners” are those who accumulate the most toys. The real winners, however, will be those whom God will call His very own children, giving them eternal life in His everlasting Kingdom. They will have an exciting, abundant life that never ends.

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Mohammed, Murder, and Multi-Cultural Mayhem

On June 16th delegates from Islamic countries like Pakistan, Iran, and Egypt pressed the UN’s Human Rights Council to order the UN’s Freedom-of-Religion investigator to adopt new guidelines to shield Islam from any comments being made in Western media that Muslims might deem derogatory.

These Muslim nations want stepped up UN investigations, UN labeling, and UN sanctions against what they call the Western media’s “Islamophobia.” They believe their right to avoid having their religious sensibilities offended by negative commentary or sardonic cartoons about Islam’s bloody weirdness should trump our Western free speech rights and liberties. In effect, the Mohammedans want to muzzle the Western media so that it self-censors like Middle Eastern media outlets.

So it seems that in the near future, coming to your favourite media outlets, Islamophobia will become the new homophobia for the politically correct set.

Ironically, on the same news day, June 16th, the frontpage news of my local newspaper was all about Canadian justice Bruce Durno sentencing Pakistani immigrant Muhammad Parvez and his son Waqas to life in prison with no chance for parole for 18 years. For Canada, that’s a really tough beaver fever of a sentence. Most garden-variety Canadian ax-murderers just get a couple of years in the slammer before being paroled for their good behaviour (sic).

So what was Muhammad’s and Waqas’s heinous crime? Murdering with their bare hands Aqsa Parvez, the 16-year-old daughter of Muhammad and younger sister of Waqas.

And what did this teenager do to deserve such brutal punishment by her father and older brother? She wanted a part-time job at a local Mississauga business. Horrors!  And she preferred wearing Western-style clothes to a Middle Eastern burka-sack. Scandalous! And, to add to these horrendous crimes, she even wanted to go to the movies. Can you believe the brazen nerve of that rebellious teen! So being the good Muslims that they are, Muhammad and Waqas swore on the Koran to kill Aqsa and so strangled her at the first possible opportunity.

At his sentencing, Justice Durno called Muhammad and Waqas “twisted, chilling, repugnant, and abhorrent.” I suppose in the near future the justice will have to temper his remarks to avoid being labeled “Islamophobic.”

The sad fact of life is that in Muslim countries Islamic menfolk think nothing of swearing on their Korans before murdering their womenfolk if they even so much as hear a rumor or have a suspicion of a supposed infidelity or instance of pre-marital sex. This is called “honour killing.” And a father or brother who murders a wife or a sister for such a reason usually faces no penalty in Muslim countries. So you can imagine how surprised Muhammad and Waqas are at getting 18 years in prison.

What I have a hard time understanding is why we Canadians opened the door for such Mohammedan barbarians in the first place? It’s not as though we don’t have enough of our own home-grown low-lifes in the first place. So why import more?

The answer, of course, lies in that wrenching shift in cultural orientation that Canada chose to make in the last quarter of the 20th Century when we proclaimed ourselves a multi-cultural country instead of a Christian nation. If we, instead, had insisted that any who wished to immigrate to Canada agree with and adopt Christian values to live by instead of Mohammedan values, then Aqsa Parvez would still be alive today as well as all the other women and girls who’ve been murdered in “honour killings” in Canada, Britain, and elsewhere in the Western world. For their only “crime” was in wanting to step beyond Islam’s strangling grasp in order to experience some of the freedoms and liberties we take for granted in our formerly Christian lands. Such freedoms are foundational to the Christian scriptures.

Christianity, of course, doesn’t encourage adultery or pre-marital sex either. Far from it! But practicing, active Christians understand that human beings make mistakes¾even serious, hurtful sexual mistakes. But a core Christian belief is that it is possible for a sinner to repent, change, and become a better person. This possibility of personal spiritual growth means it is our duty to extend forgiveness and mercy and to kindly assist in efforts aimed at restoration.

Consider this classic example of this Christian value:

Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. 3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

11 “No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more” (John 8:1-11 NLT).

Unfortunately, Mohammed didn’t agree with Jesus 1,400 years ago and the followers of that illiterate Arab tribal leader still don’t agree with Jesus’ teachings. So it is not surprising that the Muslim Koran is very different from the Christian Bible when it comes to values like love and forgiveness.

After all, Jesus paid in our stead the penalty for our sins through his own shed blood. But Mohammed like most polygamous, tribal leaders of his day, shed the blood of thousands who stood in his path to power in Arabia.

I wonder how long our Canadian elite, drunk on their multi-cultural delusions will continue to maintain that all religious beliefs are the same. They are not. The personal example and teachings of Jesus and Mohammed are very, very, very different. Aqsa Pervez could have told them that. But for now her voice has been strangled by Muhammad. Still, her innocent blood calls out! Are you listening?

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