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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Amazing Grace

By: Moments With The Book mwtb.org
          John Newton, the author of this famous hymn, is an amazing testament to God's saving grace. Born in England in 1725, he was raised by a godly mother until she died just before he turned seven. Because his father was a sailor who spent most of his time on long voyages at sea, John's next few years were unhappily spent at boarding school and in the custody of his step-mother.
Tract Link
          On his eleventh birthday, John Newton's father introduced him to the sailor's life, and they made several voyages together during his early teenage years. John was treated well, but he was surrounded by poor role models. Later, John would write in his autobiography: "I am persuaded that my father loved me, though he seemed not willing that I should know it." One of the ways the elder Newton cared for his son was in using his connections to secure job opportunities for him. These, however, were repeatedly squandered as distractions and a penchant for mischief led John to one disappointing end after another.
          During his rebellious teenage years, John Newton became a self-described "slave to every customary vice," whose actions were "exceedingly vile." It wasn't long until he adopted a philosophy that denied the existence of God. This brought some rest to his troubled conscience, because if God didn't exist, then there would be no judgment for his sins either. He took much pleasure in converting as many people as possible to his godless theology by ridiculing and blaspheming their faith.
          But even though he tried to forget about God, God did not forget about John Newton, and preserved his life on many occasions. Once he was only minutes late for a boat which overturned, drowning all of the passengers. Another time he was thrown from a horse and landed just short of being impaled on sharpened stakes. Some of these dramatic brushes with death caused John to consider the possibility that God was watching over him, and he even made several failed attempts at reforming his life.
          A series of circumstances, including forced military service, desertion, capture, demotion, and transfer to the crew of a slave ship, eventually left John nearly dead from malaria and brutally mistreated by slave traders in Africa. Eventually, John was found by a ship captain who, at his father's request, was looking for John to bring him home. God, the heavenly father, was also seeking John Newton, and was about to get his attention.
          During the long trip back to England, he was awakened one night by a violent storm which was ripping the ship apart. He briefly went below deck, and the man who took his place was washed overboard. John cried out, "the Lord have mercy on us!" As the sailors attempted to save the battered ship, John began to seriously consider his life in light of the Bible. He recollects: "I concluded at first that my sins were too great to be forgiven."
          In time, however, as John Newton learned more of the amazing grace of God, he "began to understand the security of the covenant of grace, and to expect to be preserved, not by my own power and holiness, but by the mighty power and promise of God through faith in an unchangeable Savior."
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
   And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear,
   The hour I first believed!
          This same "amazing grace" of God that saved John Newton is available to sinners today. Like him, you might think that your sins are too great and too many to be forgiven. Or, you may not yet understand that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Either way, God's Word teaches us that we are slaves of sin (John 8:34), and that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). Like John Newton discovered, trying to live a better life is powerless; self-reform is hopeless. You and I need a Savior.
           Jesus Christ, the Son of God (John 3:16) is the One we need. He lived a perfect life and then died as a guiltless sacrifice for sin (1 Peter 1:18-21). His gift of forgiveness and everlasting life is offered to all who will repent of their sins and put their trust in Him. Salvation is offered through God's grace, and accepted by faith: "For by grace you have been saved through faith" (Ephesians 2:8). Will you turn to God and take advantage of His amazing grace today?

Our Triune God

By John MacArthur gty.org
Diagram of Trinitarian Doctrine
          The Trinity is an unfathomable, and yet unmistakable doctrine in Scripture. As Jonathan Edwards noted, after studying the topic extensively, “I think [the doctrine of the Trinity] to be the highest and deepest of all Divine mysteries” (An Unpublished Treatise on the Trinity).
          Yet, though the fullness of the Trinity is far beyond human comprehension, it is unquestionably how God has revealed Himself in Scripture—as one God eternally existing in three Persons.
          This is not to suggest, of course, that the Bible presents three different gods (cf. Deut. 6:4). Rather, God is three Persons in one essence; the Divine essence subsists wholly and indivisibly, simultaneously and eternally, in the three members of the one Godhead—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (We considered the deity of Christ last Thursday, in this post .)
          The Scriptures are clear that these three Persons together are one and only one God (Deut. 6:4). John 10:30 and33 explain that the Father and the Son are one. First Corinthians 3:16 shows that the Father and the Spirit are one. Romans 8:9 makes clear that the Son and the Spirit are one. And John 14:1618, and 23 demonstrate that the Father, Son, and Spirit are one.
          Yet, in exhibiting the unity between the members of the Trinity, the Word of God in no way denies the simultaneous existence and distinctiveness of each of the three Persons of the Godhead. In other words, the Bible makes it clear that God is one God (not three), but that the one God is a Trinity of Persons.
          In the Old Testament, the Bible implies the idea of the Trinity in several ways. The title Elohim (”God”), for instance, is a plural noun which can suggest multiplicity (cf. Gen. 1:26). This corresponds to the fact that the plural pronoun (”us”) is sometimes used of God (Gen. 1:26Isa. 6:8). More directly, there are places in which God’s name is applied to more than one Person in the same text (Ps. 110:1; cf. Gen. 19:24). And there are also passages where all three divine Persons are seen at work (Is. 48:1661:1).
          The New Testament builds significantly on these truths, revealing them more explicitly. The baptismal formula of Matthew 28:19 designates all three Persons of the Trinity: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” In his apostolic benediction to the Corinthians, Paul underscored this same reality. He wrote, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God [the Father], and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all” (2 Cor. 13:14). Other New Testament passages also spell out the glorious truth of the Triune God (Romans 15:16302 Cor. 1:21–22Eph. 2:18).
          In describing the Trinity, the New Testament clearly distinguishes three Persons who are all simultaneously active. They are not merely modes or manifestations of the same person (as Oneness theology incorrectly asserts) who sometimes acts as Father, sometimes as Son, and sometimes as Spirit. At Christ’s baptism, all three Persons were simultaneously active (Matt. 3:16–17), with the Son being baptized, the Spirit descending, and the Father speaking from Heaven. Jesus Himself prayed to the Father (cf. Matt. 6:9), taught that His will was distinct from His Father’s (Matt. 26:39), promised that He would ask the Father to send the Spirit (John 14:16), and asked the Father to glorify Him (John 17:5). These actions would not make sense unless the Father and the Son were two distinct Persons. Elsewhere in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit intercedes before the Father on behalf of believers (Rom. 8:26), as does the Son, who is our Advocate (1 John 2:1). Again, the distinctness of each Person is in view.
          The Bible is clear. There is only one God, yet He exists, and always has existed, as a Trinity of Persons—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit (cf. John 1:12). To deny or misunderstand the Trinity is to deny or misunderstand the very nature of God Himself. gty.org Article Link
          Today’s article was adapted from John’s commentary on 1-3 John.

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The New York Times Admits That Virtually Every Major News Organization Allows The News To Be Censored By Government Officials

Source: http://endoftheamericandream.com/

          In one of the most shocking articles that the New York Times has ever put out, a New York Times reporter has openly admitted that virtually every major mainstream news organization allows government bureaucrats and campaign officials to censor their stories. For example, almost every major news organization in the country has agreed to submit virtually all quotes from anyone involved in the Obama campaign or the Romney campaign to gatekeepers for "quote approval" before they will be published. If the gatekeeper in the Obama campaign does not want a certain quote to get out, the American people will not see it, and the same thing applies to the Romney campaign. The goal is to keep the campaigns as "on message" as possible and to avoid gaffes at all cost. But this kind of thing is not just happening with political campaigns. According to the New York Times, "quote approval" has become "commonplace throughout Washington". In other words, if you see a quote in the newspaper from someone in the federal government then it is safe to say that a gatekeeper has almost certainly reviewed that quote and has approved it. This is another sign that "the free and independent media" in this country is a joke. What we get from the mainstream media is a very highly filtered form of propaganda, and that is one reason why Americans are turning away from the mainstream media in droves. People want the truth, and more Americans than ever realize that they are not getting it from the mainstream media.
          The following quote comes from the recent article in the New York Times mentioned above and it is absolutely jaw dropping....
The quotations come back redacted, stripped of colorful metaphors, colloquial language and anything even mildly provocative.
They are sent by e-mail from the Obama headquarters in Chicago to reporters who have interviewed campaign officials under one major condition: the press office has veto power over what statements can be quoted and attributed by name.
Most reporters, desperate to pick the brains of the president's top strategists, grudgingly agree. After the interviews, they review their notes, check their tape recorders and send in the juiciest sound bites for review.
The verdict from the campaign - an operation that prides itself on staying consistently on script - is often no, Barack Obama does not approve this message.
          This is an article that everyone needs to read. If you have not read it yet, you can find itright here. What all of this means is that both the Obama campaign and the Romney campaign essentially have "veto power" over any quotes from those campaigns that we see in the newspapers.
          According to the New York Times, virtually every major news organization has agreed to submit their quotes for "quote approval"....
It was difficult to find a news outlet that had not agreed to quote approval, albeit reluctantly. Organizations like Bloomberg, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Reuters and The New York Times have all consented to interviews under such terms.
          This is absolutely disgusting, and it goes against everything that our media is supposed to stand for.
          The following is what Joseph Farah had to say when he learned about this story....
All I can say about these people I once considered "colleagues" is that I am so ashamed of them. I am mortified. They are humiliating themselves and a vital institution for any free society.
It seems the biggest threat to the American tradition of a free and independent press is not government coercion. It's the willing submission of the press to being handled and managed by government and politicians.
          Keep in mind that Joseph Farah has been working in the world of journalism for decades. He is deeply saddened to see what is happening to a profession that he deeply loves. But he is not the only one. Just check out what Dan Rather had to say during a speech back in 2009....
"At my age and stage I've finally reached the point where I don't have to kiss up to anybody," he said. "What a wonderful feeling it is."
Even so, his talk emphasized what he believes is the erosion of quality journalism, because of the corporatization, politicization, and "trivialization" of news. Those three factors, Rather argued, have fueled the "dumbing down and sleezing up of news" and the decline of "great American journalism."
Likening media consolidation to that of the banking industry, Rather claimed that "roughly 80 percent" of the media is controlled by no more than six, and possibly as few as four, corporations.
          And Dan Rather is right. The control over the media in the United States is more tightly concentrated than ever before. Back in the early 1980s, approximately 50 corporations essentially had nearly total control of the media in the United States. Today, just six monolithic media corporations dominate virtually everything you watch, hear and read. These six gigantic corporations own television networks, publishing houses, movie studios, newspapers, radio stations, music labels and video game companies. Most Americans are absolutely addicted to information and entertainment, and those six massive corporations supply the vast majority of the information and entertainment that Americans take in. The amount of control that those six corporate giants have is absolutely incredible. For example, the average American watches 153 hours of television a month. If you can beam 153 hours of "programming" into someone's head each month, that gives you an awesome amount of influence over that person. The six monolithic corporations mentioned above are Time Warner, Walt Disney, Viacom, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., CBS Corporation and NBC Universal.
          There are some areas of the media that are not completely dominated by those corporations, but even control over those areas is becoming more highly concentrated than ever. For example, Clear Channel now owns over 1000 radio stations across the United States. The power that Clear Channel has over the radio industry in America is absolutely staggering. Even control over the Internet is becoming much more concentrated. Giant corporations such as Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are increasingly controlling what we see and hear online. But it really is the "big six" that dominate most of what we see, hear and read on a daily basis.
          In a previous article, I detailed a portion of the vast media holdings of these gigantic corporations....
          Today, six colossal media giants tower over all the rest. Much of the information in the chart below comes from mediaowners.com. The chart below reveals only a small fraction of the media outlets that these six behemoths actually own....
Time Warner
Home Box Office (HBO)
Time Inc.
Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
CW Network (partial ownership)
New Line Cinema
Time Warner Cable
Cartoon Network
America Online
Castle Rock
Sports Illustrated
Marie Claire
People Magazine

Walt Disney
ABC Television Network
Disney Publishing
Disney Channel
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Buena Vista Theatrical Productions
Buena Vista Records
Disney Records
Hollywood Records
Miramax Films
Touchstone Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures
Pixar Animation Studios
Buena Vista Games
Hyperion Books

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Home Entertainment
Black Entertainment Television (BET)
Comedy Central
Country Music Television (CMT)
MTV Canada
Nick Magazine
Nick at Nite
Nick Jr.
Spike TV
The Movie Channel
TV Land

News Corporation
Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Fox Television Stations
The New York Post
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Fox Business Network
Fox Kids Europe
Fox News Channel
Fox Sports Net
Fox Television Network
My Network TV
News Limited News
Phoenix InfoNews Channel
Phoenix Movies Channel
Sky PerfecTV
Speed Channel
STAR TV Taiwan
STAR World
Times Higher Education Supplement Magazine
Times Literary Supplement Magazine
Times of London
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
20th Century Fox International
20th Century Fox Studios
20th Century Fox Television
The Wall Street Journal
Fox Broadcasting Company
Fox Interactive Media
HarperCollins Publishers
The National Geographic Channel
National Rugby League
News Interactive
News Outdoor
Radio Veronica
Sky Italia
Sky Radio Denmark
Sky Radio Germany
Sky Radio Netherlands

CBS Corporation
CBS News
CBS Sports
CBS Television Network
CBS Radio Inc. (130 stations)
CBS Consumer Products
CBS Outdoor
CW Network (50% ownership)
Infinity Broadcasting
Simon & Schuster (Pocket Books, Scribner)
Westwood One Radio Network

NBC Universal
NBC News
NBC Sports
NBC Television Network
SciFi Magazine
Syfy (Sci Fi Channel)
USA Network
Weather Channel
Focus Features
NBC Universal Television Distribution
NBC Universal Television Studio
Paxson Communications (partial ownership)
Universal Parks & Resorts
Universal Pictures
Universal Studio Home Video

          Please keep in mind that the list above is not exhaustive. It only contains a sampling of the companies that those six corporate giants own. So are you starting to get an idea of how powerful they are?
          If you ever wondered why the version of "the news" that you get is so similar no matter where you turn, it is because control of the news is concentrated in just a very few hands. So who controls the "big six" media corporations? Would it surprise you to know that the boards of directors of those big media corporations have a tremendous amount of overlap with the boards of directors of large banks, large oil companies and large pharmaceutical companies?
          The following is from the Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting website....
Media corporations share members of the board of directors with a variety of other large corporations, including banks, investment companies, oil companies, health care and pharmaceutical companies and technology companies.
          You can find a list that shows how these boards of directors overlap and interlock right here. The giant media corporations are not going to criticize the establishment because they are the establishment. The messages that these media behemoths pound into our heads are going to be the messages that the establishment wants pounded into our heads. Anyone that believes that the mainstream media is "independent" and that it does not have "an agenda" is being delusional.
          Of course it is also worth mentioning that much of what we get from the mainstream media is also often directly controlled by the federal government.
Former Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein (of Woodward and Bernstein fame) has discovered that hundreds of American journalists have worked directly for the CIA.
          Not that the federal government and the establishment are opposed to one another. The truth is that they very much work together hand in hand. But sometimes the federal government has slightly different priorities than the corporate establishment does.
          In any event, the key point to take away from all this is that the news and entertainment that we all enjoy on a daily basis if very highly censored and very highly controlled. It is imperative that we understand that those that own and control the media are trying to shape society in a certain way. They want to impose their values and their vision of the future on all the rest of us. You will notice that none of the major news organizations speak out against the "Big Brother" police state control grid that is going in all around us. Instead, they insist that all of this added "security" will keep us safe even as our liberties and freedoms are being badly eroded.
          You will notice that none of the major news organizations speak out against the population control agenda of the global elite. Instead, they insist that more "family planning" will help the environment and make the world a more prosperous place for all of us. You will notice that none of the major news organizations speak out against the Federal Reserve and none of them are warning us about the financial collapse that is rapidly approaching. Instead, they tell us to keep having faith in the system and they promise us that everything is going to be okay.
          Well, you can mindlessly believe the corporate media if you want, but I believe that in this day and age it is absolutely imperative that we all learn to think for ourselves.
          Don't be a mindless robot for anyone. Think for yourself and make your own decisions. The truth is out there and you can find it if you are willing to go search for it.

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Daniel and the Antichrist (Part 1 of 4)

By John C. Whitcomb, Th.D.

Christ and Antichrist 
          What will the world be like just before the second coming of Christ? Our Lord emphasized the enormous potential of global deception at that time.

          In answer to the disciples' urgent question: "What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" (Matt. 24:3, NKJV), our Lord warned them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many… Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many… For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (Matt. 24:4, 5, 11, 24). Note the emphasis on the words "false" and "deceive" in our Lord's answer. 

          One moment after the rapture of the church, every surviving religious leader in the world will be a false one. Yes, millions of good gospel tracts, books and recorded messages will still be here – but all born-again Christians will be gone. Human reflectors of the light of the world will be in heaven with their Savior. Suddenly, the worst person the world has even seen will introduce himself to the people of Israel, and will offer to them hope for security and military victory in the midst of a world that hates them. That person is the Antichrist. He is the one of whom the Lord Jesus spoke: "I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive" (John 5:43).

          So the true Christ knows about the future Antichrist? Of course! In fact, our Lord will actually launch him into his seven-year career on planet Earth: "Now I saw when the Lamb [Jesus] opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, 'Come and see.' And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer" (Rev. 6:1, 2).

The Significance of Daniel's Prophecy
          At first, the Antichrist will pose as Israel's friend, and millions of Israelis will put their trust in him. But then, three-and-a-half years later, his true character as Satan's masterpiece will be revealed. How can we understand this?

          Our Lord explained: "'When you [Jewish disciples] see the "abomination of desolation," spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place'(whoever reads, let him understand)… 'Then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be'" (Matt. 24:15, 21). There it is!

          The command is clear: "Understand" – "Daniel the prophet" (Matt. 24:15). What a tribute to that faithful servant of God who had died nearly 600 years earlier. The Lord had told Daniel: "Seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase… and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand" (Dan. 12:4, 10).

          At this point we can truly identify with Daniel himself. With curiosity bordering on desperation he cried out: "My lord, what shall be the end of these things?"(Dan. 12:8). Fuller revelation was to come in the next four verses, as we shall see, God willing; and later through Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi and, still later, through the New Testament – especially the capstone of all prophecy, the book of Revelation. But the foundation of God's teaching concerning the final Antichrist was laid in the book of Daniel.

          Let us say of Daniel's book what Peter said of Paul's letters: "Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation-as also our beloved brother Paul [and Daniel], according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures" (2 Pet. 3:14-16).

To Be Continued…

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By John Whitcomb
Click here for bio and archived articles

Disclaimer: Worldview Weekend, Christian Worldview Network and its columnists do not necessarily endorse or agree with every opinion expressed in every article posted on this site. We do however, encourage a healthy and friendly debate on the issues of our day. Whether you agree or disagree, we encourage you to post your feedback by using the feedback button. 

What Does Six Creation Days Really Mean?

          Over the years, I have had many people tell me that they asked their pastor or other Christian leaders whether they believed in six literal days of creation. They would tell me the answer was often "yes" and therefore these leaders (apparently) agreed with Answers in Genesis. But sadly, these leaders may not agree with AiG's stand on six literal days, young earth, no death and disease before sin, etc. How is that possible?
          I have found that some people (like Hugh Ross, for instance) will say they believe that God created in six days, but you have to ask very specific questions and discover that they really mean millions of years! Even though Hugh Ross uses the word "day," his understanding of what that means can be very different to what the person asking the question understands it to be. Also, there are many Christian leaders who will say they believe in six literal days of creation according to the literature of Genesis, but they may believe in millions of years and adopt a compromise position like the Gap Theory, Framework Hypothesis, or views like that of John Sailhammer (the billions of years for the universe supposedly fit in Genesis 1:1).
          Here is a good case in point. Many people over the past couple of years have told me how great it is that R.C. Sproul-a very fine Bible teacher whose resources have been a blessing to many-changed his mind about Genesis and would now agree with the stand AiG takes on the six days of creation and the age of the earth and universe. However, having read recent articles and heard R.C Sproul discuss this issue, I was really skeptical that he would agree with the stand that AiG takes. Tim Challies, a blogger, author, and reviewer recently published an interview he had with R.C. Sproul. Here is the section pertaining to the question about the days of creation and the age of the earth.
Have you ever had second thoughts about the stand that you took in favor of a six-day creation and a young earth, especially in view of all the new material on the subject that has come out since 2006?
Well, that's kind of a complex question because when I took the stand, I took the stand on a six-day creation. I didn't take a stand on a young earth. I don't know how old the earth is. I didn't know then. I still don't.
And what do we mean by "young earth"? If you're thinking six thousand years, I doubt that. If you're thinking 12 billion years, I doubt that, too. All I was speaking about was the understanding of what the Scriptures teach regarding the six days of creation. And I'm not even sure it's correct to say that I took a stand. I said that's what my view was.
When you say you have a view, it's one thing to say, "I think that this is the way it is." It's another thing to take a stand where you say: "Here I stand. I'm going to die on this mountain." I could be wrong in my understanding of Genesis. It's a very difficult to deal with the literary genre in the opening verses of the beginning chapters of Genesis. I think there has to be some room for some flexibility on it.
          You can read the entire interview.
          I watched a video recently where R.C Sproul and others were discussing the age of the earth. In one section, he talked about the great age of things in the world (particularly associated with astronomy) and basically said that is the reason he doesn't know what the age of the earth and universe is. To me, it is a glaring admission that he is really starting outside of Scripture in regard to the age issue, and this is determining his hermeneutic used for studying Genesis 1–11. I'm absolutely sure he would not use such a hermeneutic for the rest of the Bible! So many theologically conservative Christian leaders seem to have one hermeneutic for Genesis 1–11 (because of outside influences) and a different hermeneutic (that we would most likely agree with) for the rest of the Bible! This is a major problem throughout Christendom.
          The reason I decided to deal with this subject again is to help people understand that when they are trying to find out exactly what a pastor or Christian leader believes in regard to Genesis, one has to ask some very specific questions to dig down to what they really do believe.
I don't deny that godly men like R.C. Sproul are great Christian scholars who preach the gospel and no doubt have been able to lead many people to the Lord over the years. However, I do believe that no matter how great a Christian leader is, if he doesn't take a stand on the days of creation but allows man's ideas of millions of years to influence how he interprets Genesis, the leader (maybe unwittingly in many cases) contributes to an undermining of the authority of the Word they believe in. answersingenesis.org

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Disclaimer: Worldview Weekend, Christian Worldview Network and its columnists do not necessarily endorse or agree with every opinion expressed in every article posted on this site. We do however, encourage a healthy and friendly debate on the issues of our day. Whether you agree or disagree, we encourage you to post your feedback by using the feedback button

Sunday, July 22, 2012

20 Signs That All Point To The Exact Same Thing - Can You Guess What That Is?

By: The Economic Collapse Blog
Article Link at Worldview Weekend        
          The U.S. economy is in a massive amount of trouble. There aren't enough jobs. There isn't enough money to go around. Business activity is slowing down again. Household wealth has been falling. Food prices have been rising. Many state and local governments all over the country are flat broke and are drowning in debt. The federal government has been rolling up unprecedented amounts of debt in an attempt to keep things going, but everyone knows that kind of borrowing is simply unsustainable. So where do we go from here? We consume far more than we produce and we use debt to make up the difference. 40 years ago the total amount of debt in America (government, business and consumer) was less than 2 trillion dollars. Today it is nearly 55 trillion dollars. How in the world did we let the total amount of debt in the United States grow more than 27 times larger over the past 40 years? Our economic system is fundamentally broken, but most Americans don't realize it yet because times are still relatively good.
          However, the next great economic crisis is going to wake a whole lot of Americans up. And when they realize what has happened to our future, they are going to be really, really angry. Enjoy the good times while they last. The next recession is rapidly approaching, and it will not be pleasant.
          The following are 20 signs that all point to the exact same thing....
#1 The unemployment rate in the U.S. has been above 8 percent for 40 months in a row, and 42 percent of all unemployed Americans have been out of work for at least half a year. As I wrote about recently, there are never going to be enough jobs in America ever again. As bad as things are right now, they are about to get even worse. So what is our country going to look like once the unemployment rate starts shooting up rapidly once again?
#2 35 percent of all unemployed workers have had to dip into retirement savings in order to make ends meet over the past year.
#3 Since 2008, the U.S. economy has lost 1.3 million jobs while at the same time 3.6 million more Americans have been added to Social Security's disability insurance program.
#4 A recent survey conducted by the National Association for Business Economics found that only 23 percent of all U.S. companies plan to hire more workers over the next 6 months. When the same question was asked a few months ago that number was at 39 percent.
#5 An important measure of U.S. manufacturing activity has fallen to its lowest level since June 2009.
#6 Hundreds of thousands of federal jobs at civilian agencies will likely be lost if Congress allows the automatic federal budget cuts to go into effect next year. The following is from a recent article posted on federalnewsradio.com....
A report released Tuesday suggests that several hundred thousand federal jobs at civilian agencies would be on the chopping block within the next year if Congress lets the automatic budget cutting process known as sequestration go into effect.
The study, authored by George Mason University professor Stephen Fuller, adds a new dimension to a budget debate that's so far been centered on sequestration's effects on the military.
#7 The teen unemployment rate in Washington D.C. right now is 51.7 percent.
#8 Gallup's U.S. Economic Confidence Index is now the lowest that it has been since January.
#9 The median net worth of U.S. households in 2007 was $126,400. By 2010, it had fallen to just $77,300.
#10 Pensions at S&P 500 companies are more under-funded than they have ever been before.
#11 According to the New York Times, state and local governments across America "shortchanged their pension plans by more than $50 billion" between 2007 and 2011.
#12 The city of Compton, California is evaluating whether or not it should declare bankruptcy. If it did, it would become the fourth California city to declare bankruptcy this year.
#13 The percentage of U.S. households that are spending more than half their incomes on housing is at an all-time high.
#14 For the first time in modern history, Canadian households are wealthier than American households are.
#15 One recent poll found that 42 percent of all Americans believe that China is the leading economic power in the world while only 36 percent believe that the U.S. is still the leading economic power in the world.
#16 According to the federal government, the price of food rose much faster than the general rate of inflation did during 2011. Just check out these rates of food inflation for 2011....
  • Beef: +10.2%
  • Pork: +8.5%
  • Fish: +7.1%
  • Eggs: +9.2%
  • Dairy: +6.8%
  • Oils and Fats: +9.3%
          If that happened during a somewhat "normal year", what will food prices look like after we are done with the drought of 2012?
#17 The price of a bushel of corn has risen by 54 percent since mid-June.
#18 According to one survey, 42 percent of all American workers are living paycheck to paycheck.
#19 A different survey found that 28 percent of all Americans have absolutely no emergency savings at all right now.
#20 Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made the following statement to Congress on Tuesday: "At this point we don't see a double dip recession. We see continued moderate growth."
          Do you remember that old Seinfeld episode when George Costanza decided that he would "do the opposite" of everything that his instincts were telling him to do and everything started working out great for him? Well, when it comes to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, the key is to "believe the opposite" of everything that he says. And since Bernanke does not believe that a double dip recession is going to happen, that probably means that we are about to hit another recession. If you doubt this theory about Bernanke, just go back and check out his track record.
          Okay, so if our economy is in big trouble shouldn't our leaders be doing something about it? Well, it is election season now so I wouldn't expect too much from Barack Obama. He is too busy raising money in France and in China. I wouldn't expect too much from Obama's economic advisers either. In fact, Obama's much-ballyhooed "jobs council" has not even met in six months. Not that the "jobs council" was ever going to do anything substantive anyway.
The truth is that it was just for show and most of the CEOs on the council have been sending jobs overseas anyway.
          Well, what about the SEC? Shouldn't they be doing something to fix the financial system? No, they are too busy investigating the Amish. It looks like we are on our own. Soon, even more parts of the country will start looking like Detroit or Baltimore or Cleveland. This country is rapidly falling apart, and the federal government is not going to save us. That is why we need to focus on preparing to weather the coming storm on a family and community level.
          There is hope in being prepared. The coming economic crisis will wipe out many Americans because they will never even see it coming. But that does not have to happen to you.
          If you work really hard right now to prepare your family for the storm that is on the horizon, then you will have a much better chance of making it through to the other side.
Distributed by www.worldviewweekend.com 

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Ministry of Suffering

              The ministry of suffering may be considered as threefold: as it affects ourselves; as it affects our relation to other sufferers; and last and most important of all, as it affects our relation to God.

In Relation to Ourselves

          Let us read 1 Peter 5:10, "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you."
          Here we see the grace and glory of God brought together for the purpose of cheering and comforting a suffering people. It looks as if in some way the suffering which is for "a while" has something to do with their perfecting. We know that suffering does not perfect the body, therefore the perfecting must be by way of spiritual development. There are graces which need the soil of pain and grief in order that they may be brought forth in us. We can conceive of love, joy, and peace abounding amid a scene of perfect calm, but it is not possible that longsuffering could be perfected under such conditions. Patience is a Christian grace of rare quality and highly valued by God Himself, but patience can only grow in the soil of tribulation.

In Relation to Others

          Suffering is given us in order that we may be able to bear the heavenly blessing of comfort to others who suffer. This is made plain in 2 Corinthians 1:3,4: "Blessed be … the God of all comfort, who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."
          The Holy Spirit is the Comforter, but He operates through human instrumentality. It is indeed a blessed privilege to be able to touch with the hand of love and sympathy some suffering member of the body of Christ and to pour the healing balm of comfort into some crushed and grief-stricken heart. But in order to qualify for this Christ-like ministry we ourselves must have been comforted of God. The words spoken may be few, the deed of kindness done may be small in itself, but if the grace of consolation flows in word and deed, and heart blends with heart in sorrow, then the weary sufferer is rested and refreshed as in the embrace of love divine.

In Relation to God

          The highest end ever reached through suffering is a prepared fitness and enlarged capacity for the enjoyment of fellowship with God.
          He is the God of all grace, the God of patience and consolation, the God of love and peace, a God full of compassion and gracious, longsuffering, plenteous in mercy and truth. These attributes and excellencies are all in God. The entrance of sin into the world has provided the opportunity for their display through the activities of love in the work of redemption.
          When the morning of the eternal day has dawned and the cry of pain and sorrow shall be heard no more, then shall we know the full meaning of all the suffering which is meted out to saints of God today. The weight and measure of eternal glory which shall rest upon the redeemed shall proclaim to all the universe the perfect wisdom of God, and the true value of the life of faith, lived amid the sin and woe of this wicked world. mwtb.org
—Condensed from "The Mystery and Ministry of Suffering" by Robert McMurdo

Politically Incorrect?

By: Grace To You - gty.org - Article Link
If you came thinking I’m going to tell you how to vote this year, or suggest ways to mobilize your people to sway elections in your home town, you are probably going to be disappointed. In fact, those of you who know anything about me might be surprised that I’m even dealing with a topic like this one. I was frankly surprised when the guys who organize these seminars assigned me this session. Election-year politics are not really my cup of tea. And I don’t mean I’m not interested in the subject. I mean that I purposely try to keep my distance from it.
How to Shepherd Your Congregation in an Election Year.There’s a good reason for that. Before I became a Christian, I was a hard-core, obsessive political activist. Throughout my high-school years, I thought I wanted to be either a politician or a newspaper pundit when I grew up. That was my highest worldly aspiration, and the political power-struggle was the single, central, driving interest of my life. But when I became a Christian, I gave that passion up for something infinitely better—something of eternal value: the gospel of Christ.
I won’t give you my whole testimony about that. It’s on an audio-recording of one of my sermons somewhere downloadable from the Internet. But the short version is that from the night of my conversion until today, I have deliberately steered clear of partisan politics in the same way most of you would try to steer clear of pornography or recreational drugs. Because in my own experience as an unregenerate person, party politics represented that same kind of addiction. In fact, it was the very first worldly fixation I set aside when I became a Christian—because it struck me almost from the outset that an obsession with earthly power and political ideology is basically an addiction to the wisdom of this world, which is foolishness with God.
That’s not to suggest that I’m naturally apathetic about politics. To this day, I know that if I listened to a steady diet of Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter, I would begin to feel rising fits of those same old political passions. But political activism was so much of an idol in my old, pre-Christian life that today I think of it in pretty much the same way the apostle Paul said he regarded his former life as a Pharisee: I count it as dung. I’ve relegated those passions to the rubbish heap of things I count as loss, “In order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”
Some of you are probably already thinking that sounds pretty harsh. If you are inclined to be a political activist yourself, you no doubt think I’m terribly short-sighted, or too much of an isolationist. I hasten to say that I’m not suggesting there’s anything inherently sinful about holding electoral office or doing public service. If it’s your calling to be mayor of your town or a congressman from your district, you’ll get nothing but encouragement from me as long as you seek to fulfill that task to the glory of Christ. But you need to do that not merely by flexing your power, but mainly by being a consistent example of Christlike service and humility. Of course, that’s just what every Christian in the secular workplace should endeavor to do. In the words of 1 Timothy 4:12, “in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.”
I thank God for Christians whose vocation is to serve faithfully in our government—including those elected officials who are devoted Christians. But let’s be clear, here: that’s a different vocation from the calling of a pastor. And I am speaking to you as pastors and church leaders: It’s well-nigh impossible to be a good pastor full time if you also fancy yourself a political lobbyist.
We need to remember that political clout has nothing whatsoever to do with spiritual power. Study the priorities for the church in the New Testament; look at the duties Scripture outlines for shepherds of the flock. You’ll find no mandate to press the government for legislation on moral issues. In fact, what you’ll see is that jockeying for political clout is one of the very strategies Jesus named as worldly methods that are not to characterize leadership in His kingdom. He said His kingdom is permanently set apart from every earthly dominion because Christ’s kingdom is advanced by humble service rather than through the kind of political strategies that depend on the exercise of human authority.
I’ll show you that in a moment, but first I want to stress this: Nothing in the past half century has done more damage to the evangelical cause than the notion that the best way for Christians to influence society is by wielding our collective political clout. If you think the most important answer to the ills of our society is a legislative remedy; if you imagine that political activism is the most effective way for the church to influence culture; or if you suppose the church is going to win the world for Christ by lobbying in the halls of Congress and by rallying Christians to vote for this or that type of legislation—then both your trust and your priorities are misplaced.
Personally, I think the tendency to seek legislative remedies for every social ill is one of the absolute worst tendencies of contemporary secular society, and it disturbs me greatly to see Christians more or less follow that pattern blindly. To borrow a thought from the title of John MacArthur’s least-popular book ever, Government Cannot Save Us. The only power that can truly and permanently rescue human society from its own spiritual ills is the transforming power of gospel of Jesus Christ. And that happens through the regeneration of individual human hearts, right? We need to remind ourselves of that fact often, and put more of our energies into the task of evangelism.
We are pastors and church leaders who formally and confessionally recognize the authority of Scripture. Practically the worst kind of spiritual treason we could ever commit would be to supplant the gospel message with a different message, or to allow an earthly agenda to crowd out our spiritual duties. That is exactly the risk we take when we pour money and resources into political and legislative remedies for our society’s spiritual problems.
In 2008 America saw one of the most hotly contested presidential elections ever. For the first time in more than two decades, the so-called religious right had no clear-cut favorite choice in the primaries. By the time the two major parties finally chose their candidates, neither of the leading presidential nominees had credibly expressed any distinctly evangelical convictions. In fact, I think it would be fair to say both parties chose men who were basically secular humanists (though, obviously, one was more liberal than the other). Before he threw his hat into the presidential race, the Republican candidate was wobbly on the issues of abortion and same-sex unions—and he had repeatedly made it clear that he didn’t share the passions of evangelical voters. He once referred to evangelical Republicans as “agents of intolerance.” Though he softened that stance during the race and even chose a running mate known for her evangelical convictions, the ticket was still hardly representative of the priorities evangelical voters had long fought for.
Now, consider the bitter irony of this: For more than two decades the number-one  issue on the agenda of the evangelical wing of the religious right has been abortion. The number-one legislative goal of evangelical political activists has been to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that effectively legalized abortion. Politically-active evangelicals have been instrumental—in fact, they have been the decisive factor—in the election of every Republican president from Ronald Reagan until now. And yet not only have they failed to achieve their single most-coveted political goal, but they are now approaching a presidential election without a single viable candidate who shares their views.
And meanwhile, if anything, America’s moral decline has accelerated dramatically since evangelicals became politically aggressive in the late 1970s. Although by most accounts evangelicals constitute the largest single voting bloc in America, they have been remarkably ineffective when it comes to using politics to reverse America’s moral and spiritual decline. In fact, if you measure their success or failure according to their own stated political ambitions, evangelicals have failed spectacularly in America’s political arena. Over the past quarter-century, they have not accomplished any of their long-term legislative or constitutional goals.
Worst of all, during that same period of time, the evangelical movement has completely lost its spiritual influence, because the evangelical segment of the church has grown increasingly worldly. Evangelicals have become accustomed to compromise. They have abandoned (or else are in the process of abandoning) virtually all the doctrinal distinctives that made them distinct from Roman Catholics and nominal Christians whose faith amounts to a kind of civil religion. Evangelicals have pretty much forfeited whatever real moral and spiritual authority their movement ever had.
Consider the fact that almost no one in the evangelical world had more political savvy than Ted Haggard, the now-discredited president of the National Association of Evangelicals. He actually advised the White House on evangelical issues. Before his fall from grace, The Wall Street Journal called him “one of the nation’s most politically influential” ministers in America, and Harper’s Magazine said this about him: “No pastor in America holds more sway over the political direction of evangelicalism than does Pastor Ted.” But whatever his accomplishments in the political arena, by his own admission Ted Haggard was a liar and a fraud in his private life.
I’m not suggesting that political activism is what made Ted Haggard a hypocrite, nor am I saying that he is typical of everyone in the mainstream of evangelical politics. I certainly hope he was a singular case.
But I am suggesting that any religious organization that’s more concerned with political expediency than with biblical truth is by definition following the error of the Pharisees and will breed the grossest kind of hypocrisy. (I’m also suggesting that if the National Association of Evangelicals had been more concerned about their leaders’ spiritual qualifications and less enamored with worldly skills like personal charisma and political shrewdness, they would never have had Ted Haggard as their president. He had never really distinguished himself in any of the biblical categories the apostle Paul outlined as qualifications for an elder. His one qualification was his mastery of the political process.)
And let’s face it, brethren: Whether we like it or not, in the eyes of an observant world, Ted Haggard seems like a perfect mascot for the evangelical right. gty.org
For the rest of the article at Grace To You click here.