Tuesday, December 31, 2013

How To Control Our Thoughts

Many Christians struggle with this issue, especially in our highly technological world, but taking control of our thoughts is essential. Proverbs 4:23 states, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." The “heart” includes the mind and all that proceeds from it. When we come right down it the matter, every sin we commit, we commit twice, once in our thoughts and again when we act upon those thoughts. It is easier to rid our lives of sin if we attack it at this fundamental thought level rather than waiting for it to become rooted in our lives by our actions and then try to pull it out.

There is also a difference between being tempted (i.e. a thought entering into the mind) and sinning (dwelling upon an evil thought and wallowing in it). It is important to understand that when a thought enters our mind, we examine it based upon God's Word and determine if we should continue down that path or reject the thought and replace it with another thought. If we have already allowed a habit to form in our thought lives, it becomes more difficult to change the path of our thoughts, even as it is hard to get a car out of a deep rut and onto a new track.

The biggest question for Christians today is, “How do we take control of our thoughts and get rid of wrong thoughts”: Let me share some Biblical suggestions.

I. Stay In God’s Word
Be in God's Word so that when a sinful thought enters our mind (a temptation), we will be able to recognize it for what it is and know what course to take. Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4) responded to each of Satan's temptations with Scripture that applied to the direction He knew His mind should take instead of beginning down the path of the sinful thought. When tempted to meet His physical need (turning stone into bread), He recited the passage about the importance of relying upon God. When tempted to serve Satan in order to obtain the glory of the world, He brought up the passage that says we are to serve and worship God alone and speak of the glory that belongs to Him and those who are His.

When tempted to test God (i.e. to see if God was really there and would keep His promises), Jesus responded with passages that stress the importance of believing God without having to see Him demonstrate His presence. Quoting Scripture in a time of temptation is not just some kind of “good luck charm”, but rather serves the purpose of getting our minds onto a biblical track, but we need to know the Word of God AHEAD of time in order to accomplish this. Thus, a daily habit of being in the Word in a meaningful way is essential. If we are aware of a certain area of constant temptation (worry, lust, anger, etc.), we need to study and memorize key passages that deal with those issues. Looking for both what we are to avoid (negative) and how we are to properly respond (positive) to tempting thoughts and situations—before they are upon us—will go a long way to giving us victory over them.

II. Live In Dependance Of Holy Spirit
For many in today’s society, living in dependence upon the Holy Spirit is a foreign idea. So another question may arise, “How do we do that?”

The only way is seeking His strength through prayer. Matthew 26:41 (KJV) speaks to this idea: Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

If we try and rely upon our own strength, we will fail every time. Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered. (Proverbs 28:26)

Often, I here or read where people will say, “it’s what’s in the heart that counts.” Oh, how wrong they are to trust their heart without any guidelines, because Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

III. Guarding Our Hearts and Minds
We are to be careful how and what we feed our hearts and minds with that which will promote sinful thoughts. This is the idea of Proverbs 4:23: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” We are to guard our hearts—what we allow into them and what we allow them to dwell on. These are called “intrusive” thoughts.

Job 31:1 states, "I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman" (NKJV).

Romans 13:14 states, "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts." Thus, we are to avoid periodicals, videos, websites, conversations and situations that will set us up for a fall. We should also avoid spending time with those who would encourage us down these wrong paths.

Most everyone has intrusive thoughts at some point. They're the little nasty ideas that pop up out of nowhere. They may be about sex or blasphemous thoughts about God. They could be about hurting someone or even hurting yourself. As disturbing as they can feel, they're very common and don't necessarily mean anything serious. And they're not sin. It's not a sin to have a random thought. Although it may be sin to choose to keep thinking about it or to act on it.

The simplest way to deal with intrusive thoughts is to reject them and think about something else. Philippians 4:8 is a key verse: "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." As simple as it sounds, it isn't always easy. You have to be consistent and do it every time such a thought appears in your mind. Over and over, a thousand times if necessary. Before too long, it should be second nature.

Another option, if you're more curious about the thought than disturbed, is to quiet down and contemplate why that particular thought came about. You may find that you're anxious about something or saw images that triggered it. If the problem is a life event or a strained relationship, you now know what you should be praying for.

It's entirely possible that the intrusive thoughts are feeding off of something you've voluntarily exposed yourself to. It could be a TV show, a movie, a video game, or a book. If you have sexual intrusive thoughts and you watch sexually-questionable shows, stop watching. If you have spiritual-based intrusive thoughts and you watch reality shows about ghosts, stop watching. It's harder to notice when you're younger and constantly deluged with input from different sources, but what we put into our minds really does matter. You may not immediately feel the effects of that horror movie because you think you like being scared. But everything we watch changes our brains just a little bit, making us more sensitive the next time.

Some intrusive thoughts come from stimuli around us, but some may very well be a form of spiritual warfare. To those who are grounded in Christ and the truth of the Bible, these thoughts are obviously ridiculous. If you think the enemy is whispering in your ear, "God is dead," remember that without God, there is no enemy to whisper that God is dead. Any claim that God is less than all-powerful is just a silly attempt to instill fear.

But it is also possible to open ourselves up for spiritual attack. Whenever we take a drug that affects our minds or how we perceive reality, we're just asking for demonic influence. Involvement in the occult is another obvious danger, but it doesn't just mean animal sacrifices and graveyards. Playing with Ouija boards or tarot cards, watching paranormal movies or reality shows, listening to music with blasphemous lyrics, or any of the other little games we sometimes play as kids, opens a door that allows harmful spiritual influence inside. It's foolish to go looking for demons and then be surprised when they show up.

To fight intrusive thoughts, we have to control what goes into our heads. Know the Bible. Know God and Who He is. It's one thing to dismiss the thought, but we have to fill our minds with something else to take its place. Here is what Luke 11:24-26 says concerning the void that is left when we remove God from our hearts, “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

Memorize some applicable verses and have them at the ready.

IV. Seek After God
We are to pursue hard after God, substituting godly pursuits and mindsets for sinful thoughts. This is the principle of replacement. When tempted to hate someone, we replace those hateful thoughts with godly actions: we do good to them, speak well of them, and pray for them (Matthew 5:44).

Instead of stealing, we should work hard to earn money so we can look for opportunities to give to others in need (Ephesians 4:28).

When tempted to lust after a woman, we turn our gaze, praise God for the way He has made us—male and female—and pray for the woman (for example: "Lord, help this young woman to come to know you if she does not, and to know the joy of walking with you"), then think of her as a sister (1 Timothy 5:2).

The Bible often speaks of "putting off" wrong actions and thoughts but then "putting on” godly actions and thoughts (Ephesians 4:22-32).

Merely seeking to put off sinful thoughts without replacing those thoughts with godly ones leaves an empty field for Satan to come along and sow his weeds (Matthew 12:43-45).

V. Choose Your Friends By Scripture
We can use fellowship with other Christians the way God intended. Hebrews 10:24-25 states, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

Fellow Christians who will encourage us in the changes we desire (best if of the same gender), who will pray for and with us, who will ask us in love how we are doing, and who will hold us accountable in avoiding the old ways, are valuable friends indeed.

Last and most important, these methods will be of no value unless we have placed our faith in Christ as Savior from our sin. This is where we absolutely must start! Without this, there can be no victory over sinful thoughts and temptations, and God’s promises for His children are not for us, nor is the Holy Spirit’s power available to us!

God will bless those who seek to honor Him with what matters most to Him: who we are inside and not just what we appear to be to others. May God make Jesus’ description of Nathanael true also of us—a man [or woman] in whom there is no guile: “Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” (John 1:47)

VI. Does Satan Have To Get God's Permission To Attack Us?
There is no particular verse of Scripture where you could say is evidence that suggests Satan needs God's specific permission in order to act against Christians.

Many people believe that Job 1 supports the idea of Satan not being able to afflict Job until he asked God.

However, consider Satan's argument before God, "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land" (Job 1:10). Satan is obviously familiar with who Job is and is aware of Job's special protection and blessing by God. How could Satan have known of Job's protection, unless he and/or his demonic minions had not already tried to work their will against Job? What Satan is really asking is for God to remove Job's protection.

A similar passage is Luke 22:31-32: "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."

Clearly, we can see in this case, that Satan had to ask permission to tempt Peter. Jesus tells Peter that He has prayed specifically for him so that Peter can strengthen the other disciples, the implication being that the others WILL be sifted in whatever way Satan intends. The Bible does not specifically state that the disciples had special protection from God, but there is no doubt that God had a higher purpose in mind—the strengthening of the other disciples—in allowing Satan to harass Peter.

Whereas these passages imply that there are boundaries and rules Satan must abide by, there is no real biblical proof that he needs God's permission. The very character of Satan proves that he disdains authority and is not one who would truly seek permission.

Job was hedged about by the Lord—Satan couldn’t get to him without the Lord first removing that protection. The ultimate reality is that God controls everything in the universe, including Satan, and that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

As stated earlier, memorizing Scripture is a key point to remember when you are in a battle with satan. Having the Scripture in your mind, can be very important in getting victory, quickly, when in a struggle. It takes time to find a passage to throw at satan when you are not sure where it is.

Here is some scriptures you can memorize to help in three major battle areas we face each day.

Verses for anxious intrusive thoughts

Psalm 94:19: "When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul."

Psalm 40:1-2: "I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm."

Psalm 139:23: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way."

2 Corinthians 12:9: "And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me."

Verses for blasphemous intrusive thoughts

Job 42:2: "I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted."

2 Kings 19:15: "O LORD, the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth."

Psalm 62:1: "My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation."

Psalm 90:2: "Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God."

Verses for sexual intrusive thoughts

Psalm 73:25-26: "Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

Psalm 119:59: "I considered my ways and turned my feet to Your testimonies."

1 Timothy 5:1-2: "Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity."

When an intrusive thought pops up, find an appropriate verse and quote it to yourself.

Be tenacious; sometimes these things take time.

Don't be discouraged if the thoughts escalate—just keep relying on the power of God's Word.

Remember, satan considers that his job is to defeat you. learn to defeat him through God’s Word; Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Christmas Story As Told By Scripture

What did the ancient Hebrew prophets write about the coming of the Messiah, the much-longed for Hope of Israel? And how do those prophecies relate to the story of Christmas?

I realize that some of my readers are not Christians and don't know the answer to these questions. You may be Muslims, Jewish, or you may follow other religions, and some of you have no religion at all. Thus, you may not know why Christmas is not really about Santa or elves or Rudolph or trees or shopping and gifts and malls and Bing Crosby movies. Some of you may be curious about the relationship between ancient prophecy and what Christians celebrate today.

Rather than to try and explain it imperfectly, let me share with you what the Scriptures teach. I hope it's helpful.

Matthew Chapter One
Conception and Birth of Jesus

18 Now the birth of Jesus [Yeshua] the Messiah was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. 20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name [Yeshua] Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” 24 And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, 25 but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

Matthew Chapter Two
The Visit of the Magi

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 2 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: 6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; For out of you shall come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’” 7 Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” 9 After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned by Godin a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.

Luke Chapter One
Introduction

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord s with you.” 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Mary Visits Elizabeth
39 Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”

The Magnificat
46 And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord, 47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. 48 “For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. 49 “For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. 50 “And His mercy is upon generation after generation Toward those who fear Him. 51 “He has done ]mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. 52 “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble. 53 “He has filled the hungry with good things; And sent away the rich empty-handed. 54 “He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy, 55 As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his descendants forever.” 56 And Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home.

John Is Born
57 Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had displayed His great mercy toward her; and they were rejoicing with her. 59 And it happened that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to call him Zacharias, after his father. 60 But his mother answered and said, “No indeed; but he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, as to what he wanted him called. 63 And he asked for a tablet and wrote as follows, “His name is John.” And they were all astonished. 64 And at once his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God. 65 Fear came on all those living around them; and all these matters were being talked about in all the hill country of Judea. 66 All who heard them kept them in mind, saying, “What then will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was certainly with him. 67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: 68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, 69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servant— 70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old— 71 Salvation from our enemies, And from the hand of all who hate us; 72 To show mercy toward our fathers, And to remember His holy covenant, 73 The oath which He swore to Abraham our father, 74 To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. 76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways; 77 To give to His people the knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins, 78 Because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, 79 To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.” 80 And the child continued to grow and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

Luke Chapter TwoJesus’ Birth in Bethlehem
1 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. 2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, 5 in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. 6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” 15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. 17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

Jesus Presented at the Temple
21 And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. 22 And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” 25 And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 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. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, 28 then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation, 31 Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 A Light of revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.” 33 And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— 35 and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” 36 And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. 38 At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Return to Nazareth
39 When they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth. 40 The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

Friday, December 20, 2013

What Ever Happened To Sin

In our country, today, we have a distorted view or idea of what "sin" is.

Sin is described in the Bible as transgression of the law of God (1 John 3:4) and rebellion against God (Deuteronomy 9:7; Joshua 1:18). Sin had its beginning with Lucifer (Satan).

Listening these past few day to the news, it is very evident that the controversy is really one of what God's Word says is sin compared to what the individual wants to believe.

There are no "absolutes" in today's society anymore. It is "whatever one feels is right and desires to do for their own pleasure, and no one, not Phil Robertson or "God" is going to tell them differently.

Phil Robertson was somewhat "crude" when he made his remarks, but with all said, he was right on with "Scripture". When we individually allow sin to run "unchecked" in our lives, we open up ourselves to fill the un-Godly desires that satan puts in our heart, and the more bizarre it is, seems to be the "new" normal. Man's degeneration is measured by his perversion of sex.

If there were only one book of the Bible I could choose to keep, it would be the Book of Romans. Romans has been called the "Magna Carta of our faith. It is the "Constitution of Christianity. It is the greatest "treatise" ever written.
You can take the Book of Romans, and Christ in your heart, and face whatever life brings

This opening chapter is an inclusive as it embraces the introduction, the missionary motives of the great apostle, the definition of the gospel, and the condition of man in sin which necessitates the gospel. This chapter furnishes the tempo for the entire epistle.
Romans teaches the total depravity of man. Man is irrevocably and hopelessly lost. He must have the righteousness of God since he has none of his own.

It is interesting to note that this great document of Christian doctrine, which was addressed to the church at Rome to keep it from heresy, did not accomplish its purpose. The Roman church moved the farthest from the faith which is set forth in the Epistle to the Romans. It is an illustration of the truth of this epistle that man does not understand, neither does he seek after God.

Here is what he said, "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. (Romans 1:21-32)

Did you catch that last verse? "Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them."

When you listen to what's being said all over the news in these past two days, and you soon realize that man is doing something that nature doesn't do.

is it sin? It most definitely! Will this sin send you to hell? This sin will not! What sends a person to hell? The willful rejection of God's Son, Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world. The rejection of Christ as your Savior leads you to all the acts of perversion, those listed in Paul's writings above.

When we remove God from our lives, from our homes, from our towns, from our states, from our nation, we create a void in our lives. if that void is the lack of God's presence, something will fill that void. Enters satan to deceive you. And especially in today's society, for I personally believe we are nearing the "mid night" hour, and satan is doing his dead level best to take as many souls to hell with him as he can!

And if you are one who has never made Christ Lord of your life, guess who your master is, and who your partner in hell is going to be…? That's right…satan. And he is laughing at how he has and is deceiving you! Is this what you want…for eternity?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

CHINA IS BUILDING A NEW SILK ROAD

An article has come out of Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University that should make all those who follow the Kings of the East sit up and take notice:

“The sixth angel poured his bowl on the great Euphrates River. Its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the east.” (Revelation 16:12, ISV)
In early September Chinese President Xi Jinping went on a trade mission to several Central Asian countries to offer billions in investment. The trip could signal the opening of a new silk road connecting the Europe with the East Asia through the Levant (The region consisting of Modern Day Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan, Israel, and southern Turkey.) — ushering in a new economic and political era.
In the past decade, Central Asia has gone from China’s diplomatic backwater to center stage, mainly because of its large, untapped energy and mineral resources. China needs a lot of what Central Asia has to offer and Chia is looking to lock down concessions before other players, particularly Russia can.
China’s new focus in the region has been on cultivating good relations with the newly independent republics that bordered its restive western province of Xinjiang, home to several Turkic groups such as the Uighur, Uzbeks and Kazaks. Uighur nationalists and separatists, or “splitists” as Beijing calls them, have on occasion used the neighboring countries to organize anti-China activity.
Over the last decade, China began to exert its influence in the region by providing development aid and entered into security cooperation treaties.
As China’s economy grew, it soon realized that its African concessions were not enough and it needed to find other sources of energy and material to fuel its economic engine.
China also recognized that the Middle East was a very volatile region, one that may not hold a long-term, secure, energy supply, particularly oil. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) China has overtaken the United States as theworld’s largest importer of oil.
Not only is China concerned about Middle East volatility, but Beijing is also increasingly concerned about possible disruptions in Southeast Asia. China worries that tensions with Japan and security threats like piracy could lead to disruptions in the Straits of Malacca where the bulk of Chinese energy imports must transit.
To reduce its vulnerability to possible disruption of supplies, China has begun to look to Central Asia as an alternative source of energy. Close proximity and shared borders with the Middle Kingdom reduce transportation costs and dependence on seaborne supplies. No other region offers such logistical access to China.
China has been slowly working on increasing that access to its own advantage. In 2006, China and Kazakhstan signed a deal to build a 2000 mile pipeline to transport Kazakh oil and gas to the western Chinese province of Xinjiang. Since that time, it is estimated that China 50 percent of the Kazakh energy sector is now owned by Chinese state-owned companies.
In July the two countries signed an agreement to expand the pipeline and double production.
This expansion could also transport Russian oil to China by mid next year, linking China to one of its main oil suppliers. It is understood that Russian oil company Rosneft earlier this year negotiated a US$35 billion loan from China. Rosneft intended to use the loan to buy off several of its rivals. In exchange the Russians would double oil supplies to China. (Russia is the world’s third largest oil exporter with the United States and Saudi Arabia being #1 & #2 respectively.)
In 2009 China concluded the construction of the multi-billion dollar Turkmenistan-China pipeline. The 1200 mile pipeline crosses neighboring Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and will take oil and natural gas to Xinjiang.
In 2012 Turkmenistan became China’s main source of natural gas providing over 50 percent of China’s gas imports. Iran, the world’s third largest oil producer, already has a pipeline to Turkmenistan, which could be further extended to link up with the Turkmenistan-China pipeline.

A New Silk Road?

On another front, according to Loro Horta of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, China and Pakistan are in the initial stages of developing the Xinjiang Gwadar development corridor.
Beijing has funded the construction of the port of Gwadar in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan at a cost of $1.2 billion. The port is strategically located at the eastern approach of the Persian Gulf in close proximity to Iran and Saudi Arabia.
The Gwadar development corridor will see the construction of an extensive network of roads, rail links and pipelines connecting the Persian Gulf to western China, thus shortening the distance to transport supplies vital to the Chinese economy.
During Xi’s September visit to the Central Asian region, a staggering array of deals worth billions of dollars were signed. This growing investment has the potential to integrate the economies of Russia, Central Asia and China to a degree not seen since the days of the ancient Silk Road.
These new deals link the countries of Eastern Asia (the “Kings of the East”) with the Middle East closer than they have ever been in millennia.
For many reasons, Eastern Asia is one area of the world that should be watched with great interest.

Monday, December 16, 2013

What A Year This Has Been

This past year has seen an enormous amount of events taking place in the world of eschatology. it has been like drinking through a fire hose. Here is just a short list of how God's end-time prophetic scenario moved ahead throughout the year:

1) The potential for a deadly strike on Damascus, Syria, intensified. This would fulfill the warning found in Isaiah 17:1. Israel has weaponry pointed their way and will act should any deadly gesture come their way from Damascus. The passage points to the annihilation of Damascus.

2) The further isolation of Israel. With the Geneva deal back on November 24, an Israeli strike on Iran is likely imminent. Even former Defense Secretary Panetta says, "There is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May, or June." She will be the goat of the world although she will do the world a tremendous favor. Iran can produce a bomb in 36 days. As this article states, now the Twelfth Imam, the Muslim Messiah, can return. Shi'ite tradition says he must return to a world of turmoil and violence.

3) America's complete betrayal of Israel. As Rep. Louie Gohmert says, "It was intentional and they had been putting pressure on Israel not to defend themselves. I'm told by people in Israel that you wouldn't believe the pressure that this administration has brought to bear on Israel not to defend herself." I stand by what I wrote on November 20 in my e-newsletter that many in the current U.S. administration are cheering for Israel's annihilation. No, that's not too strong of a comment.

4) The predicted "perilous times" of II Timothy 3 have escalated. David Horowitz's FrontPageMag asked in a headline on September 12, "What If Islamists Took Control of the White House?" On September 12, 2001, that was inconceivable. Today it is a reality.

5) We have seen the rise of lawlessness starting with the highest leaders in the land. Laws are broken with the stroke of a pen. The U.S. Constitution is ignored by American leaders acting in a totalitarian manner. Such leadership lawlessness inevitably leads to the lawlessness of the people under them. Charles Krauthammer writes an insightful article about the "breathtaking lawlessness" of our times here. Matthew 24:12 refers to the rise of lawlessness in the last days.

6) It was open season on Jews and Christians in 2013. Neither were safe. And the facts and truths of these stories were hidden by almost all media outlets except the Internet and Christian radio. The media will report perceived offenses to Muslims but not to Jews or Christians worldwide. In many countries, there is but a pile of ashes where once stood a church. This article calls the global war on Christians the "unreported catastrophe of our times."

7) Christians in the military were banned from sharing their faith (later rescinded). Such outfits as The American Family Association were called a "hate group." The IRS asked Christian groups applying for non-profit status what the content of their prayers was. Such marginalization is predicted for the last days.

8) If we are to look for signs in nature then we cannot dismiss the significance of one of the deadliest storms ever -- Typhoon Haiyan that struck the Philippines late in the year. It will take years for the region to recover. There was "perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves with hearts fainting for fear . . . " (Luke 21:25-27).

9) Many are asking if Gog is rising? Vladmir Putin has made a resurgence in world influence thanks to the decline of America and her current weak leadership. Putin is viewed by some as a savior in the Middle East for holding off an invasion of Syria. Putin smells blood in the water and is in the process of seizing global leadership away from President Obama. Ezekiel 38-39 refer to Gog of the land of Magog, a national force that will invade Israel in the latter years. Magog is the land to the uttermost north of Israel. Joel Rosenberg speculates on Putin being Gog here.

10) The Antichrist system is now in place. We learned in 2013 that spying was big business, even on American citizens. You are never alone! There is always somebody snooping over your shoulder! There is more info on you than you could imagine. Thus, the Antichrist system is being installed today. It will be ready to go when he arrives and he is crowned as a temporary king.

11) Hating God became a passionate sport. Atheist churches are springing up around the world complete with sermons, songs, and offerings. They proclaim the "mock of ages," not the "rock of ages." God as the source of absolute truth and moral authority has to go! They have a "form of godliness" but deny its power (II Timothy 3). Their motto is, "I believe in life before death."

12) Signs in the Heavens: The amazing Comet Ison. It's called "the comet of the century" with a tail millions of miles long. It introduced itself to us in late 2013.

13) Cash isn't dead yet but it is on life support. Even plastic could go by the wayside. The path is being made easy for an Antichrist system of global economic opportunity. Dr. Mark Hitchcock addressed this at "Understanding the Times 2013." It appears that Israel will be the world's first cashless society.

14) The further decline in man's character as men and women in high places, who should be setting a high standard as to morals and behavior, displayed abysmal character traits. The highest leaders of our land are proud liars, cheaters, and workers of iniquity. And they never even blush about their seared consciences.This is foretold in many places but most obviously in II Timothy 3.

15) The longing for a "man with a plan," a "Mr.Fix-It," grew more intense this year. Even actor Mel Gibson said, "Someone must rise from the ashes and save us." He was referring to government instability and dysfunction. He does not know that the man waiting in the wings known as the Antichrist, will talk a good game but will set the world on its final deadly course.

16) The great end-time apostasy marches on. While not all churches are dysfunctional, one study concludes nearly 150,000 America churches are nearly terminal. That's almost 40% of U.S. churches. Frustration and conflict lead to a revolving door of pastors and apathy reigns within many. Folks will flock to false teachers and to seeker-sensitive churches where the true gospel is never preached.

The list could go on but I believe you get the point. We've all been busy watching and waiting in 2013. And listening. Listening for a trumpet sound that tells us it's time to leave this fractured world.

So, if the Lord tarries, stay tuned in the new year. It will be tumultuous. Watch it with an open Bible.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Liberty Amendment

No fundamental provision of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights is more neglected today -- or more thoroughly violated -- than the Tenth Amendment. One can see its violation in the teaching of American history and civics, legal theory, and what passes for "Constitutional Law," as well as in the everyday functioning and typical media analysis of American politics and government.

Our Constitution -- as the very words of the Tenth Amendment make clear -- was intended to be a document of delegated powers. The states that formed and ratified the Constitution were free and independent, having the characteristics of nations. As Raoul Berger stated after surveying the scholarly controversy about whether the nation or the states came first:

In sum, the colonies, having severed their common allegiance to Great Britain, were sovereign and independent of each other. Lee's resolution of July 2, 1776, attests such independence, and it is confirmed by the Declaration of Independence signed on behalf of the thirteen separate States. That independence was explicitly safeguarded in the Articles of Confederation, which merely set up a "league," and it was further recognized in the peace treaty with Britain, signed on behalf of the thirteen individual states. [1]

These free and independent nations were Christian states with Christian constitutions, declarations of rights, or bills of rights, and fundamentally Christian laws, [2] and they delegated -- and manifestly intended to delegate -- carefully restricted authority and powers to the central or national government created by the Constitution. By clear intention and unmistakable logic, they delegated only those powers stated in the Constitution -- and no more. As stated in Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution, the states forbade themselves certain powers they had not already been granted, but retained all other previously established authority and powers.

The Constitution therefore is a reserved powers document. The powers which the states have neither forbidden to themselves in the Constitution nor delegated to the central government in the Constitution are "reserved to the States respectively, or to the people" that is, they are reserved to each individual state. The "people" mentioned here cannot have reference to the people of the nation as a whole, for that would mean that the reserved powers ultimately default to the central government, which would make the Tenth Amendment meaningless, unnecessary, and absurd. It is clear then that unless a state (either through its government or people) explicitly delegates certain powers to the central government constitutionally, these powers remain in the exclusive domain of each state's government and people.

Our neglected, abused, and violated Tenth Amendment is more than an amendment to our Constitution; it is the anchor and guarantee of federalism, [3] a fundamental principle insisted upon by the states whose representatives framed and ratified the Constitution. Our Constitution contains protections for the reserved powers of the several states imbedded within the very design of our governmental system, which has federalism at its core.

Congress, the most important branch of our central government, is composed of representatives elected from each state. The House of Representatives consists of local representatives from districts within states. The Senate consists of senators elected from each state in general. Originally, Senators were chosen by the Legislature of each state. [4] The President is elected by the votes of electors from each state: the Electoral College. The number of each state's electors is based upon the number of the state's representatives in the House of Representatives (which depends on the population of the state) and the number of United States senators a state has (an equal number for each state, for each state was originally equal as a nation and each state is considered equal, regardless of population, today). If the Electoral College cannot decide who shall be President, then the House of Representatives makes the choice, and each state, no matter how many representatives it may have, casts one, equal vote. Members of the judicial branch of our national government are appointed by the President, who is elected by votes from the states, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, whose members are from their respective states, originally to be chosen by their respective state legislatures representing the people of their particular states.

Thus the respective states have representation in every branch of our national government, which representation should protect the states against usurpations of authority and power by the national government and shield the state's people from a tyrannical central government's encroachments on their rights and liberty. The Tenth Amendment supplements this protection by clearly limiting our central government and obligating it to honor the states' reserved powers and their right of self-government.

The Tenth Amendment protects the self-government of the people of each state by protecting the powers which the state has neither assigned to the central government nor forbidden to itself in the Constitution. It thus protects each state's authority, right, and freedom to govern itself as its people and their representatives see fit (so long as they do not set up a non-republican form of civil government or violate the Constitution's prohibitions of certain powers to them). Our Tenth Amendment is thereby a key protector of the minority's rights and liberty, for the people of any state are but a minority of the people of the nation. It protects against abuses of power perpetrated by a national majority, a powerful minority, or a popular individual who may have seized the reins of power in the national government. The Tenth Amendment protects localism and local self-government against centralism -- the theory and practice of top-down, centralized government.

The Tenth Amendment does not represent an isolated idea in the Constitution; it is but an additional, explicit protection for federalism, and federalism is, as James Madison tells us in Federalist No. 51, an essential portion of the Constitution's system to secure the blessings of liberty. Federalism, Madison tells us, is a system of separation of powers and checks and balances between the central or national government and the state governments. This famous system was intended to protect liberty and justice by preventing the concentration of power, and consequent abuses and usurpations of power, in any one branch of the national government. The intent of federalism is to provide "a double security" to liberty. It is "double" because it supplements the separation of powers and the checks and balances of our central government with the separation of powers and checks and balances between the central government and the state governments to secure, i.e., keep protected, all the rights and liberties the Constitution and Bill of Rights originally intended to protect.

Federalism -- not the phony "federalism" as redefined by "political scientists" and power-hungry politicians, but the separation of powers between a would-be all-powerful central government and our states -- is more than a constitutional principle. Given the fallen nature of man, it is not time-bound but timeless this side of Heaven. It is essential to the protection of liberty and justice. The Tenth Amendment clearly intended to establish federalism as basic to both the interpretation of the Constitution and its application in constitutional law. That is why it has been known as the Liberty Amendment. No fundamental provision of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights needs more urgently to be restored to its rightful place in American political thought, constitutional law, and civil government, for its restoration is a necessary condition for the rekindling of justice and freedom in America.
  • 1. Raoul Berger, Federalism: The Founders' Design (Norman and London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987), 47. 
  • 2. Archie P. Jones, Christianity and Our State Constitutions, Declarations, and Bills of Rights, Parts I and II (Marlborough, New Hampshire: Plymouth Rock Foundation, 1993). An excellent collection of the laws of the colonies before they became states is W. Keith Kavenagh, ed., Foundations of Colonial America; A Documentary History, 3 vols. (New York: The Confucian Press, [1973] 1980). Most of these laws, of course, were retained after independence. 
  • 3. "Federalism," simply, is the belief in and practice of contractually limited government, but it has resulted in, and become characterized by, the horizontal and vertical separation of powers between and among central/national and provincial governments with accompanying checks and balances between and among departments in those governments. 
  • 4. Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution states: "The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote." This constitutional provision was overturned with the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Can We Be In the Tribulation Already?

There are many people who believe that we are living in the tribulation period already.

According to Bible prophecy, the antichrist builds his government on three main pillars of power; a global government, a global economy and a global religious system. All three must exist and be functioning prior to his arrival on the scene, since his time frame is limited to just 2,520 days.

The prophet Daniel says that the antichrist will be a prince of the people who destroyed the city and sanctuary; ". . . and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. . ." (Daniel 9:26)

That was accomplished by the Roman legions under the command of Titus in AD 70.

Daniel says this coming Roman 'prince' will confirm a seven-year covenant between Israel and 'many' that results an a period of peace and safety for the Jews of Israel.

Two things to note about this covenant. First, note the context. This is about Israel's future. Not about the antichrist. In this context, he is a supporting player, not the object of the prophecy.

The fact the antichrist confirms a covenant 'with many' would be irrelevant if Israel were not the other principal to this covenant. An agreement in which Israel plays any lesser role cannot be Daniel's covenant.

The second thing to note is that this covenant must already exist in some form. One cannot 'confirm' that which does not exist. This is not a newly-negotiated covenant cooked up by the antichrist to include Israel among the many.

It is a confirmation of a previously existing agreement. There is but one failed seven-year agreement involving Israel, the revived Roman empire and 'many'.

That is the Oslo agreement, initially negotiated to run exactly seven years, negotiated between the State of Israel and Yasser Arafat on behalf of the Palestinian 'people' under the supervision of the Europeans.

The Oslo formula of 'land for peace' remains the foundation upon which any future agreement will be built. Every effort since has built on the efforts of Oslo.

Once Daniel's covenant is confirmed, Temple worship will be restored, which requires Israel to somehow recover possession of Temple Mount. We know that it must be restored because mid-way through the Tribulation Period, the antichrist suspends Temple worship.

"And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate." (Daniel 9:27)

Any covenant negotiated with Israel that does not leave Israel in possession of Temple Mount and provides for the restoration of Temple worship is NOT the covenant of Daniel 9:27.

How can I say so with such confidence? Because the covenant of Daniel 9:27 is the one that starts the clock ticking.

From the signing of that confirmation of the covenant until the return of Christ at Armageddon is 2,520 literal days. If that covenant were already in place, then the antichrist would already be in power.

Except that at some point before he could BE the antichrist, he must first recover from a deadly head wound.

"And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast." (Revelation 13:3)

It is AFTER his deadly wound is healed, that John says; "And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?"

So, the antichrist, having been healed from a deadly wound, is acclaimed by the whole world for this apparent miracle. John says that, AFTER this takes place;

"And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months."

Let's stop there and summarize. First, the covenant, confirmed by a prince of Rome. Then the head wound. Then he is acclaimed as worthy of worship as a god.

Then he is given power to mesmerize the population with a supernaturally gifted 'mouth speaking great things and blasphemies' -- and this power lasts for forty-two months (1,260 days or 3 1/2 years).

This is the first half of the Tribulation Period. If the antichrist were active and if we were now in the Tribulation, all this would already be in motion. None of it is as yet.

But let's pretend that we're in the Tribulation now. That means that within the next 1,260 days, a functioning global government capable of ordering mass executions for political purposes must be fully in power.

"And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations." Notice this power isn't given him over just Europeans. Or just over the nations around the Mediterranean.

It is over ALL 'kindreds' (families) tongues (languages) and nations (ethnicities)

Anybody care to guess what the word translated into English as 'all' means in the original Greek? (Give up? Ok. It means, 'all').

That power is, after forty-two months, fully developed and operational. Then, the second beast takes his place onstage.

"And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon." (Revelation 13:11) This second beast is a counterfeit prophet, one who has the appearance of Christianity, but who openly teaches the worship of the first beast (the antichrist).

"And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed."

This second beast will be Satanically energized with supernatural powers. "And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, "(Revelation 13:12-13)

Now, I want to stop here again. We are just now at the mid-point of the Tribulation -- it started 3 1/2 years ago with the confirmation of the covenant with Israel and the healing of the first beast's deadly wound.

What must also exist by this point?

Obviously, a global religious system, since there is a global religious leader with the power to condemn apostates to death. So if the Tribulation were to begin tomorrow, say, then within the next 42 months, a new system would have to replace both Christianity and Judaism.

According to the Bible, the persecution of Christians and Jews would be global, bloody and with the enthusiastic cooperation of the global population.

Like most of you, I can see all that coming. But it isn't here.

The third pillar in the antichrist's government is a global economy that is tied to both the global religious system and the global government. All three are administered by the same overall authority.

All three must not only exist, but they must be fully operational within three and one half years of the covenant that restores Temple worship to Israel.

Because three and one half years after Israel's Temple worship is restored, it must then be taken away, signaling the onset of the "Great Tribulation" in which three quarters of mankind die from the plagues and judgments that fall upon an unrepentant human race.

There are some Christians who believe we are already in the early part of the Tribulation Period now and that the current head of the EU/WEU, Javier Solana, is the antichrist.

For that to be true, then, Israel must be in a period of peace and safety right now.

The covenant must be in full force, the Jews of Israel must be in possession of the Temple Mount and the Jewish priests must now be offering legitimate sacrifices to God in a ritually cleansed Temple.

That means the ashes of a pure red heifer must already have been found and sprinkled to cleanse the Holy of Holies after two millennia of desecration.

Within the next forty-two months, the false prophet must convince everybody on earth except the Jews to worship the beast.

By the mid-point of the Tribulation, the global economy will be tied to a mark in the right hand or forehead without which no man could buy or sell.

So within 1260 days, all cash transactions must cease to exist.

Within forty-two months, all Christians and Jews the world over will be hunted down and ultimately executed if they refuse to take the Mark of the Beast.

Problem: Even with Satan's enthusiastic cooperation, there isn't enough time. You can't get there from here.

The covenant has not been confirmed and Israel is not living in peace and safety. Temple worship has not been restored and al-Aqsa remains standing atop the Holy of Holies.

There is no functioning global religion. There is no functioning global religious authority. As long as there are Christians and Jews, there can NEVER be a universally acceptable global religious authority.

The global economy is outside of any one nation's control, let alone the control of one man. Cash makes global control impossible. And a universal currency would take a lot longer than 42 months from now to implement.

That is not to say that the Rapture couldn't take place tomorrow. The Rapture of the Church is an event INDEPENDENT of the Tribulation Period. They are not 'bookends'.

The Rapture is the conclusion of the Age of Grace. It is when Jesus comes to retrieve His Bride from the earth. The Tribulation is the resumption of the Final Week of the Law. They are as separate as distinct as Pentecost is from the Destruction of the Temple forty years later.

Since the Holy Spirit indwells the Church, when the Bride is retrieved, His earthly ministry concludes, just as Jesus' earthly ministry concluded at the Ascension.

Temple worship didn't cease on the day the Church Age began -- it continued another forty years before Titus.

The Rapture of the Church could take place tomorrow and the Tribulation Period could still be a decade or more into the future. Maybe two decades. However long it takes. The two are independent events.

That is why we, as Christians, are not charged with watching for the antichrist. We are given details concerning the coming of antichrist because, if we can hear his approaching footsteps, we can know that the time of our deliverance is even closer.

The signs of the times were given for the lost -- the saved don't need them -- except as witnessing tools.

The Tribulation period is close. No doubt about it. What does it mean to the Church? It means the Rapture is closer. "And when these things BEGIN to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh," Jesus said. (Luke 21:28)

At the beginning. Not at the end.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Is The Great And Terrible Judgement Day Close At Hand?

I read a lot of articles about understanding the sequence of events of the Great Tribulation, of which much study has gone into them. But I see very little as to examining the reasons for it.

So I want to try and help your understanding of that great and terrible judgement.

As a whole, Man has rejected every opportunity that God has given him to demonstrate his trust in Him by obedience to Him. The rejection of God and His guidance is the “catalyst” of every other form of evil.

Thus we see the rejection of God and His Guidance. Man’s rejection of God and His guidance began when our first parents rejected the one command that God had given them. It continued with Cain’s rejection of God’s admonition to offer up the proper sacrifice for sin, and on through Cain’s murder of Abel until the wickedness on earth was so great that God destroyed mankind with a flood except for Noah, his wife, their three sons and their three wives.

We are seeing today the continuous mass murder of millions created in God’s Image and Likeness. Having begun afresh with a new and righteous patriarch, God commanded, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man” (Genesis 9:6), thereby putting the fear of capital punishment into mankind for murder. Yet, man has never ceased to murder and kill by means of abortions, because of personal vendettas, and on mass scales with the most modern weaponry.

Follow This With The Rejection of Capital Punishment for Murder. Despite God’s command to execute murderers, by the end of 2012, eighty-six of the world’s two hundred countries had departed from the Noahic mandate and abandoned the death penalty for all crimes. [1]

From There, We See The Beginning of Institutional Occultism and False Religions. The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:9) was built to seek guidance from the stars instead of the Creator; and Romans 1:21-23 in conjunction with 1 Corinthians 10:19-20 tells us that it is only a step from the turning to creation for guidance to idolatry and the worship of Satan and demons. The Tower of Babel was the institutional fountainhead of all the false and demonic religions and philosophies in the world.

The Call and the Failure of Israel. With the Tower of Babel, God divided mankind into nations by means of multiplying their languages, and out of those nations He called out the nation of Israel to be His fountainhead of holiness and salvation to the rest of the world. Though Israel brought forth the Scriptures and the Messiah, they fell into idolatry for protracted periods of time and rejected their Messiah.

Rejection of the Necessity to Bless Israel. Though Israel rejected their Messiah, God has not rejected them (Romans 11:29) and He will yet use them mightily. Because of His special call on Israel, He announced to Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse” (Genesis 12:3). Scripture records that God did bless and curse individuals and nations according to the manner in which they treated Israel and individual Jews (e.g., Genesis 39:1-5, 41:55-57; Obadiah 1:10; Zechariah 12:9), and Jesus prophesied that He will judge the sheep and goat Gentiles on the basis of how they will treat “these brothers of mine” (Matthew 25:31-46).

How have the nations treated Israel? Egypt tossed Israeli male newborns into the Nile, and Israel was invaded by Assyria, Babylon, Greece and Rome and was dispersed by Rome to the four corners of the earth where it has, in turn, suffered great and continuous. Since Israel’s reestablishment as a nation in 1948 they have fought four major defensive wars, are continually defending themselves against attacks of lesser scope, and are continually being pressured by the world to give up more and more land to surrounding nations and militant groups that are sworn to their destruction. Surely the overall level of anti-Semitism through the ages will be a factor in God’s judgment of the world.

Zechariah 2.8: “For thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘After glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple [pupil] of His eye.’”

Joel 3.2: “I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land.”

Note the last phrase in light of today's political efforts to further divide the Land of Israel.

Call and Failure of the Church. Though God has not rejected Israel and will yet use them mightily, on the Day of Pentecost He began to call out a “new man” (Ephesians 2:15), the church, composed of all believers, “whether Jews or Greeks” (1 Corinthians 12:13), to be His ministers to the world. He commanded, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Corollary to this command to the church is this command to the hearers of the gospel: “God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent” (Acts 17:30); but despite the fact that the gospel has already penetrated most of the world, only a small percent of the world's population has received it.

Indeed, major world religions and numerous national governments oppose it. As for the visible church, its history is rife with self-aggrandizement and has engaged in such horrors as military conquests, forced conversions, and mass persecutions of Jews and true believers. Much of it has embraced the imperial power structure of the world with its pretension, pomp, ostentation and gaudiness, and has turned apostate, denying the very basics of the gospel.

2 Timothy 3.1-5: “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.”

Than we Have The Rejection of the Dominion Mandate. God commanded Noah and his descendants, “be fruitful and multiply; populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it” (Genesis 9:7), repeating what He had commanded Adam and Eve before the Fall (Genesis 1:28). This "dominion mandate" was a commission to Man to take stewardship of the resources that God had provided for the blessing of mankind and the glory of God.

Man has not carried out the dominion mandate; in fact, at Babel, he rebelled directly against it: “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4).

Though vast areas of the earth have been populated and much of its resources have been brought into the service of mankind, vast areas remain unpopulated while in hundreds of thousands of cities and towns people are stacked in layers in apartment buildings, condominiums and office buildings; nor has as much of earth’s resources been brought under control for the elimination of disease, hunger and homelessness as could have been. Counterproductively, much of the earth has been decimated and polluted.

Imagine the progress that could have been made if the trillions of dollars that nations and individuals have invested in warfare, defense and security been invested in housing, agriculture, industry and medical research. Eskimos have learned to live in the Arctic; Arabs have learned live in the desert; and as for turning such forbidding places into productive food-bearing areas, and the seas into fish and vegetable farms, look what Israel has done with its malarial swamps and much of its deserts since the latter half of the nineteenth century, even while defending itself against annihilation.

If Man had allowed God to take the lead he could easily have fulfilled the dominion mandate by now without ravaging and poisoning much of the earth as he has.

We Are Also Seeing The Rejection of God’s Order for the Family. A healthy family unit is necessary for the optimum well-being and spiritual influence of its members, and is most conducive for the bearing and nurturing of future generations who can, by number and spiritual health and maturity, best fulfill the dominion mandate and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). The family unit begins with one man and one woman committed to be sexually and emotionally faithful to one another and to bless one another for life.

While monogamous marriage is not explicitly mandated in Scripture, it is that form of marriage that God established in Eden, honored when He selected four monogamous couples to board the ark, upheld as the picture of marital happiness in Psalm 128:1-6 and Proverbs 31, honored by the births of John the Baptist and Jesus, upheld as the picture of Christ and His church in Ephesians 5:22-31, and is, without exception, that form that is upheld as ideal by Jesus and the New Testament writers (Matthew 19:8-9; Ephesians 5:22-27; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6).

In contrast, Deuteronomy 17:17 says that a king “shall not multiply wives for himself,” and Scripture graphically reveals the strife that is so easily engendered in polygamous or polygamy-like relationships in the story of Abraham, Hagar and Sarah (Genesis 16-18, 21), and in the childbearing olympiad between Rachel and Leah (Genesis 29:31-30:24).

Has Man adhered to the ideal model of marriage and of wholesome childrearing? Of course he hasn’t.

The world is filled with fornication, homosexuality, adultery, polygamy, divorce, abortion and infanticide, all of which are destructive of the family unit and the carrying out of the dominion mandate and Great Commission, and all of which are denounced by Scripture or, in the case of polygamy, shown in a negative light. It should be noted that God destroyed Sodom, Gomorrah and the cities of the Dead Sea valley because of widespread homosexual practice (Genesis 18:16 - 19:29), and that by May 14, 2013, fourteen nations of the world had legalized same sex marriage.

God’s Judgment for Man’s Evil Is Coming. God delayed Israel’s exodus from Egypt, return to Canaan and conquest of its inhabitants because “the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete” (Genesis 15:16). The day will come when the iniquity of our present world will be “complete” and Man will have demonstrated that he is hopelessly wicked and incapable of establishing anything approaching an edenic earth without God yet—he will not repent.

Then will come the Great Tribulation:

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).

It will be a judgment so severe as to destroy every ungodly manmade institution and humble mankind to the point where multitudes will to turn to God, including every Jew alive at the end of it (Jeremiah 31:34; Zechariah 13:1; Romans 11:26) and clear the way for the establishment of Messiah’s one-thousand-year Kingdom, in which “the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3).

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

So, Whose Side Are You Really On?

Last night, November 4, 2013, I was proud and honored to be a small part of the Grand Chapter of CUFI (Christians United For Israel) night to remember Israel.

I was disappointed about the lack or even the non-existence of any local news coverage about something as important as this was. I feel assured that had it been something about Obamacare and/or Muslin related, they would have been all over it.

And it is very important for two main reasons.
  • One is that all the nations around Israel are trying their hardest to exterminate Israel.
  • Number two is how close Iran is to having a nuclear bomb.

Anti-Israel activism in U.S. church circles has increased in recent years especially among some evangelical elites. Mainline Protestant elites have been anti-Israel for decades. Last fall officials of several Mainline denominations urged Congress to reconsider U.S. military aid to Israel, prompting Jewish groups to cancel interfaith dialogue. More politically significant have been exertions to shift evangelicals away from their historically strong affinity for Israel.

For the last several years anti-Israel evangelicals have hosted a “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference in Bethlehem featuring some prominent U.S. evangelicals. Last year’s included evangelist Tony Campolo, a spiritual counselor to President Bill Clinton, and Florida mega church pastor Joel Hunter, a spiritual counselor to President Barack Obama. The next “Christ at the Checkpoint” is February 2014 and will feature Geoff Tunnicliffe, head of the World Evangelical Alliance. There will also be a Dallas Southern Baptist pastor, despite his denomination’s strong support for Israel.

Additionally speaking is Gary Burge of Wheaton College, himself a prominent author critical of Israel who teaches at America’s most prestigious evangelical college. Anti-Israel sentiment among evangelical elites is strongest in academia and in international relief and missions groups.

In November the Alliance for Baptists, a liberal Baptist denomination, will host Waging Peace and Justice in Palestine in Washington, D.C. at a prominent Calvary Baptist Church, which President Obama has attended. The featured speaker will be a Lutheran Palestinian pastor who in 2009 backed the anti-Israel Christian manifesto Kairos Palestine: A Moment of Truth, which Western church groups often cite.

And in December, Evangelicals for Social Action (ESA) will host a similar but much larger advocacy event in Philadelphia called Impact Holy Land, featuring prominent Palestinian clergy and U.S. evangelicals. ESA is now co-headed by Pentecostal academic Paul Alexander, who helped push the Society for Pentecostal Studies in a more Palestinian direction at a 2012 meeting at Pat Robertson’s Regents University.

Anti-Israel activism by Mainline Protestants is often motivated by residual Liberation Theology, and / or Replacement Theology, which teaches that Israel is no longer God's chosen people and that the church has replaced Israel today.

The critique of pro-Israel evangelicals particularly has been that their motivation rests on end-times theology/prophecy, which is very controversial even among conservative Christians.

The Christian Zionism movement that we hear much about today, and is most commonly criticized and caricatured, actually originated in 19th century premillenialist dispensationalism founded by English pastor John Nelson Darby and popularized by Bible commentator C I Scofield. The teaching asserted that the Jews would rightfully return to their homeland before Christ’s return.

Some of the modern adherents to Darby's teachings have included Jerry Falwell, Tim LaHaye, Hal Lindsey and John Hagee.

The critics of Darby complain this sort of Zionism is prone to “ignore the legitimate needs of Palestinians, to support Israel right or wrong and even think Israel can do no wrong, to see the Middle East conflict solely in religious terms, and to ignore indigenous Christians in the region — both Jewish and Arab.”

Anyone who studies Church History, understands that Christian interest in a Jewish return to Zion actually goes back earlier than Darby, especially to the Puritans of Britain and New England in the 17th century. Eighteenth century philosopher-theologian Jonathan Edwards, espoused that perspective. Early American Calvinist philo-Semitism in fact inoculated America against Europe’s more virulent forms of anti-Semitism.

This has been propelled by Christians who were noticing that the Old Testament refers to “the land” 2,500 times, that at the heart of God’s covenant with Israel is the promise of that land, and that the return of Jews to the land in the last two centuries is a partial fulfillment of biblical prophecies.

In the 19th century Protestant philo-Semitism in Britain fueled the Christian Zionism leading to Britain’s Balfour Declaration in 1917 affirming support for a Jewish state. Some English Zionists theorized that God judges nations by their treatment of Jews, contrasting Spain’s 1492 expulsion of Jews and Spain’s subsequent ultimate decline with Britain’s rising glory after Puritan Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell invited Jews to return after four centuries.

Then, you have the divine promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3: “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Many American Christian Zionists today, commonly quote that passage.

Twentieth century evangelicals were gratified by Israel’s creation in 1947 while liberal Protestants were often more ambivalent. Catholic and liberal Protestant affirmations of God’s continuing spiritual covenant with Jews typically omit any connection to the land of Israel, which many Jewish interfaith partners “believe is an indispensable manifestation of the covenant.”

It is difficult to understand how the “charge of illegal occupation" against israel can be made, when “Israel has made repeated efforts to comply with UN stipulations for the territories, while its Arab neighbors have not.”

Israel’s willingness in the 1993 Oslo Accord to cede 92 percent of the West Bank, which Palestinians rejected, is a very good example.

How can one claim this when the Jews have inhabited ancient Samaria (the West Bank) for over 3,000 years, and make this a requisite for peace. “What other country has been required to give up land that it won in a defensive war?” he asked. “Do Germans displaced from K√∂nigsberg clamor and agitate for that German city to be returned to them by the victorious Russians?”

It seems that those who are opposed to Israel, just want them to roll over and play dead when they are attacked.

How would we feel, and how would we respond if we experienced a succession of 9/11-like attacks, regularly over several years, in a country the size of New Jersey or one-seventeenth the size of Germany, where nearly everyone knows someone who has been killed or maimed.

And seeing how the critics of Israel hypocritically condemn Israel for alleged human rights abuses but typically ignore what Iran, Syria, China, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia, are doing to their people.

That is the "pot calling the kettle black," if you ask me.

I stand with Israel, because God stands with Israel, and I have read the Book, and in the Last chapter, Israel is still here. Some of the others, ain't. So which side are you on?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Are We Sacrificing Our Heritage As Christians?

Are we seeing a "lowering" of our standards that have sustained us over the past generations as Christians?

This past week, the president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention's children's services agency has recommended that the organization amend its hiring practices to ban discrimination against homosexuals, according to a PowerPoint presentation posted on the agency's website.

It appears that the homosexual rights movement, which was born out of a desire to be tolerated, now seems to have morphed into a crusade bent on forcing all of society, even conservative churches, to accept and celebrate homosexuality as natural, normal and healthy.

Now, this week, news has it that several Evangelicals are visiting Brigham Young University; it seems to be trying to find a commonality betweens us and them.

This is in fact very curious, considering that many speculated that it was the evangelicals staying home that kept Romney from winning the Presidential election. Could this all be leading up to Romney re running or another Mormon candidate running in the next presidential election? I can't say I know the answer on that one, yet.

But, we as Christians.do not need to be duped into a false sense of security.

Mormonism is not a Christian religion. Mormonism, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, claims to be the restoration of the true gospel and a revelation of the true God. Here is just a glimpse of what they believe;

God
  • God used to be a man on another planet, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 321; Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons, vol. 5, p. 613-614; Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 345; Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 333).
  • "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s..." (D&C 130:22).
  • God is in the form of a man, (Joseph Smith, Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 3).
  • "God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!!! . . . We have imagined that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea and take away the veil, so that you may see," (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345).
  • God the Father had a Father, (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 476; Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 19; Milton Hunter, First Council of the Seventy, Gospel through the Ages, p. 104-105).
  • God resides near a star called Kolob, (Pearl of Great Price, p. 34-35; Mormon Doctrine, p. 428).
  • God had sexual relations with Mary to make the body of Jesus, (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, 1857, p. 218; vol. 8, p. 115). - This one is disputed among many Mormons and not always 'officially' taught and believed. Nevertheless, Young, the 2nd prophet of the Mormon church taught it.
  • "Therefore we know that both the Father and the Son are in form and stature perfect men; each of them possesses a tangible body . . . of flesh and bones." (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 38).
God, becoming a god
  • After you become a good Mormon, you have the potential of becoming a god, (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345-347, 354.)
  • "Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them," (D&C 132:20).
God, many gods
  • There are many gods, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 163).
  • "And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light: and there was light," (Book of Abraham 4:3).
God, mother goddess
  • There is a mother god, (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 443).
  • God is married to his goddess wife and has spirit children, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 516).
If this juncture is for finding commonality ground on combating the gay right's movement, that is one thing. But to go in and fellowship with them is really absurd.

The Muslims do not believe in homosexuality either, will you be meeting with them? You do not have to meet with these religions to study them. Their own religious beliefs will be all the support for traditional values that is needed.

I didn't mean to get off of my subject of this article, but I felt a leading that way.

Last month, after being sure to get his caffeine fix at Starbucks, Southern Baptist leader Richard Land went where few evangelicals had dared to go before: the campus of Brigham Young University, the intellectual heart of Mormonism.

After lecturing on “family, faith, freedom and America,” Land attended a BYU football game with Mormon leaders and joined them to hear James Taylor sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Days later, George O. Wood, the general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, also visited BYU, followed by the Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptists’ flagship seminary.

Is there a new detente — perhaps more practical than theological — between evangelicals and Mormons?

For more than a decade, Mormon and evangelical scholars have discussed their differences and similarities, and even written books together. But leaders of the two faiths appear to have reached a new juncture, with some on both sides seeing benefits in more public engagement.

“At the very least, the two communities, evangelicals and Mormons, have been … each other’s worst enemies,” said Richard Mouw, the former president of Fuller Theological Seminary and a longtime proponent of evangelical-Mormon dialogue.

“There’s a significant part of the evangelical movement that is now having healthy and friendly conversations, and it’s gone from a group of two dozen scholars talking to each other to church leaders meeting each other, going to see each other.”

John Taylor, director of interfaith relations for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said there is a growing sense that Mormons and non-Mormons can agree in some areas — from humanitarian aid, where Mormons have also joined with Catholics — to the desire to retain their younger members.

“There’s a realization among faith groups generally that despite doctrinal differences — and we have doctrinal differences, there’s no question about that — we do have areas of commonality,” said Taylor.

The recent Utah meetings, which came at the invitation of Mormon church leaders in Salt Lake City, have centered on faith, family and religious freedom. Mohler — who was careful not to paper over doctrinal distinctions in his BYU speech — addressed joint concerns about the intersection of those issues.

“That is why I and my evangelical brothers and sisters are so glad to have Mormon neighbors,” Mohler said in his talk on Oct 21. “We stand together for the natural family, for natural marriage, for the integrity of sexuality within marriage alone.”

In a statement, the Assemblies of God said “no restrictions were placed on Dr. Wood’s lecture” when he addressed some 400 BYU students on Sept. 16. He “shared freely” about his Pentecostal faith and being brought up in a missionary family.

Land, who considers Mormonism to be a “fourth Abrahamic faith” — and thus distinct from Christianity — said there has been “gradual increased understanding on both sides.”

He accepted the invitation to BYU because Mormons and evangelicals, with shared opposition to the growing national acceptance of same-sex marriage, need to face together what they both view as increasing religious hostility.

“Those who oppose us are not going to make any distinctions,” said Land, the new president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in North Carolina. “They’re hostile to people of faith, period.”

The outreach has gone both ways. In September, Taylor joined two members of the LDS church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the Washington installation of Russell Moore, who succeeded Land as head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

“It’s clear where we disagree, but we’re standing together in the public square for religious liberty,” said Moore, who has recently spoken with Mormon officials about military chaplains’ religious rights.

Bob Millet, a BYU religion professor who suggested the evangelical visitors to LDS officials, said the rapprochement helps Mormons, “a sample of the population that’s not well-understood and highly misunderstood.”

As Mormons continue to work toward greater acceptance and visibility — from Mitt Romney’s White House bid to a category of questions on “Jeopardy” — they are more likely to have tangible benefits from this engagement, said Stephen Webb, author of the new book “Mormon Christianity: What Other Christians Can Learn from the Latter-day Saints.”

“It’s not just the fact that evangelicals are being more curious about Mormons and being more willing to listen to them and learn from them, but it’s also a matter of the Mormon leadership itself wanting to be part of the American Christian mainstream,” he said.

Gregory Johnson, co-founder of Standing Together, a Utah group of evangelical pastors, has given dozens of presentations with BYU’s Millet called “A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation.” He dubbed the recent get-togethers “the year of the evangelical at BYU.”

Some scholars credit colleagues such as Johnson, Millet and Mouw with the thaw in relations, which still remain tense in some circles. Mouw, for instance, gets hate mail — “a lot of angry stuff” — from pastors and groups that don’t agree with his friendships with Mormons.

The recent evangelical appearances in Utah have sparked online debates, with some welcoming them and others warning they hurt traditional Christianity. A moderator for the unofficial LDS.net who calls himself “prisonchaplain” concluded the meetings were more civil than groundbreaking.

“As far as ‘fruit’ goes, these events sure beat the cold theological wars of the past,’’ he said.

And there’s more to come: Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias, who spoke at the Mormon Tabernacle in 2004, will be at BYU in January, followed by a second appearance by Mohler the following month.