Monthly Archives: January 2010

Islamic Terrorists Vs. Radical Christians: New Game. New Rules. (Part 1)

An Updated Rerun 2009 Series

When you look at the picture of  21-year old terrorist, Azam Amir Kasab, what do you see?  A good-looking youth who should be in college, preparing himself for a future career. Maybe having a beer or two with buddies on Fridays nights. Maybe dating a soccer cheerleader on Saturday nights. All in all, he should be enjoying his youth and doing what youths do, right?

But the facts are that Kasab trained for months, gobbled steroids to buff up his body, and dedicated his life, along with his eight dead compatriots, toward the hope of killing 5,000 innocent people in Mumbai, India. 5,000 innocent people. Their dream was to kill and kill until their last, dying breaths.

Admittedly, most soldiers are trained and committed to being warriors. And if  occasions should arise and if combat actions are needed, they will fight. Yet, in the back of their minds, they will desperately want to live. This is a rational motive by normal soldiers in times of great peril. Thus, most soldiers’ combat actions will be carefully carried out according to a calculated risk/reward ratio on the battle field.

Not so these terrorists. They are committed to killing and dying! No risk is too severe or too challenging for them. And there are no innocent people – none too old or too young – who are off-limits for their blood thirsty lusts. We are their enemies and deserved to be killed. Period.

How do you defend a city or a nation against dedicated, radical terrorists like Kasab?

Hmm! Maybe, you don’t really want to think about Mumbai-type terrorist attacks happening in your neighborhood.  After all, nothing has happened since 911. Why stir up fears and anxiety, right?

(CONTINUED Part 2)

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Why All The Outrage To Pat Robertson’s Remarks About Haiti? (Part 3)

Click on the following for earlier articles in the series: Part 1 and Part 2.

The Prophecy

On the first Palm Sunday, Jesus rode on a donkey heading to Jerusalem for the upcoming Passover. His journey was a short one which began in the neighboring town of Bethphage.

The road was crowded with people.  His disciples. Pharisees and scribes. And thousands of pilgrims from the Jewish diaspora.

For Passover, Jerusalem’s normal population of 120,000 swelled to nearly a million people as Jews from all over the Middle East returned to observe the feast. It was a profitable event for Jewish merchants, much like Christmas for today’s retail merchants.

As Jesus rode along, His disciples began praising God, saying, “Hosanna! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David. Blessed is the King.”

They were excited over His miracles and expected Him to be the King who would return Israel to its former glory and then throw off the shackles of the cruel Romans.They were hoping for an earthly kingdom, not a heavenly one.

Also, the disciples who had been with Jesus at the raising of Lazarus from the tomb were testifying about His miracle to the crowd. People were excited. Jesus was the Man. An Elijah-type of prophet with death-defying powers.

In the midst of the hubbub and excitement, Jesus paused at a spot on the Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalem and the Temple. This was the exact spot where Jews throughout history had mourned and wept over the Temple.

So, when Jesus stopped and wept at the overlook, the people would have hushed and anticipated a historic speech. Then, He said:

If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now, they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation. (Luke 19:42-44)

The people were shocked by His words!

The Prophet had prophesied the death of Jerusalem and the Temple. Without both, Judaism was a non-functioning religion. No more altar. No more sacrifices. No more priests. No more City of God. And where would God go? After all, He lived in the Holy of Holies.

Let’s look at Jesus’ prophetic words:

1. Who was the prophecy intended for? The Jews and their leaders.

2. What audience heard the prophecy? The Jews and their leaders. So, the prophecy was given directly to its intended listeners.

3. The Greek word episkope in verse 44 is translated into our English word visitation. Yet, episkope does not imply a visitor stopping by for a friendly visit. Its true meaning suggests God the Judge inspecting a people and deciding whether they will be blessed or cursed.

So, was the prophecy effective?

(Continued in Part 4)

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Why All The Outrage To Pat Robertson’s Remarks About Haiti? (Part 2)

Click on the following for an earlier article in the series: Part 1.

The siege of Jerusalem which I used as a time warp short story in Part 1 is the New Testament’s clearest example of God’s divine judgment being prophesied to a specific people, and then, falling upon them. The actual siege occurred in 70 AD, nearly forty years after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

Let’s look at the facts as we know them today:

In Jesus’ time, the Romans had already been occupying Jerusalem for approximately ninety years. The Roman rule was harsh and exacted heavy taxes from the Jewish citizens. And of course, the Jews hated the Romans. Prosperity for most Jews would have been measured in the simplest of terms: food and a place to sleep.

The average Jewish male in 30 AD lived to the age of 42 years old while females lived to an average age of 38 years. Half of the Jewish children died before they were five years old. 90% of the people could not read and 95% could not write. Fifty per cent of the people in the Roman Empire were slaves and lived to an average age of 25 years old. Malnutrition was the single biggest threat to health.

Also, there was a religious revival going on. Herod was rebuilding the Temple to its former glory. (This was not fully completed until 60 AD.) And the Pharisees woke up the Jews to the importance of loving God, loving their neighbors and returning to the strict edicts of the Law and Prophets. They were known as the “hope of Israel.”

Josephus, the historian, estimated there were 120,000 people living in Jerusalem and a total of 3-4 million inhabitants in all of Palestine.

So, with these facts, we can better understand that when Jesus preached the gospel and performed miracles, the Jews were looking for an earthly king. One who would deliver them from the Romans and their everyday miseries.

However, Jesus preached a heavenly kingdom. A message which was so simple; and yet so hard for most Jews to swallow.

As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. (John 6:66)

Still, Josephus estimated that one third of Jerusalem and Palestine converted to Christianity during this time period. Plus, a large number of Pharisees were converted.

These facts should help us have a clearer understanding of the divine judgment carried out on Jerusalem in 70 AD.

(Continued in Part 3)

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Why All The Outrage To Pat Robertson’s Remarks About Haiti? (Part 1)

Let’s begin with a time warp short story looking back at the year 70 AD from today’s  perspective:

The CBS Evening News opened with a shot of Katie Couric sitting at a  desk, checking a laptop computer. As the camera zoomed in for a close-up, Couric turned and looked into the camera. Her face lacked its usual toothy smile, noticeable creases appeared under her blue eyes. She was not her usual bouncy self.

“Hi everyone, I’m Katie Couric,” she said. “Well, it’s over. The siege of  Jerusalem has finally ended. For  more on this tragic story, we go to our CBS Middle East correspondent, Lara Logan. ” Couric pivots to look at a TV monitor, sitting next to the laptop.

A beautiful blond woman, dressed in combat fatigues, appeared on the TV screen. She stood near a demolished wall, holding a microphone. “This is Lara Logan. I’m standing not far from what was the Jewish Temple, the center of Judaism. Earlier today, Roman soldiers under the command of General Titus, stormed the Temple and burned it to the ground.”

She paused as pictures were shown of grisly scenes. Fires burning out of control. Bodies stacked in heaps. Roman soldiers looting and plundering. Other soldiers toppling walls so that not one stone remained atop another.

“Josephus, the Jewish historian, stated that peaceful, unarmed Jewish citizens raised their arms in surrender to the onrushing Roman soldiers, but were butchered anyway. Pregnant woman had  stomachs slashed open and their babies ripped out, and then the babies were smashed against walls. Men, women and children of all ages were slaughtered,” said Logan. “All in all, Josephus estimates that the destruction of Jerusalem resulted in 1.1 million people, mainly Jews, being killed or starved to death during the five-month long siege. Another 95,000 Jews were taken captive, to be used as slaves.”

The CBS Evening News switched back to Couric, sitting at her desk. “International leaders today have voiced their disapproval to the barbarity of this slaughter by the Roman soldiers. And at this moment, the U.N. Security Council is voting on a joint resolution, condemning Rome,” she said, looking down at her notes for a moment.

“But one Evangelical leader, Pat Robertson, is taking heat for his remarks about this tragedy,” she said as her eyes narrowed.

Then, a video appeared on the TV screen showing Pat Robertson talking to a young woman on the 700 Club program. “And you know, Christie,” said Robertson, “something happened a long time ago in Israel and the people may not want to talk about it. They were under the heels of the Romans and made a tough decision. And ever since, they have been cursed by one thing or another. They need to have a great turning to God. And out of this tragedy, I’m optimistic that something good may come. Right now, we are helping the suffering people and the suffering is unimaginable.”

Once again, the camera switched back to Couric. “How insensitive and sad for a so-called religious leader to paint Jerusalem and a whole nation as godless and deserving of destruction in one off-the-cuff statement,” she said, shaking her head. Then she added, “But you know, Robertson has a history of controversial statements like this.”

She collected her notes and looked at the camera. “Thanks for joining us and that’s the news for August 1o, 70 AD. Good night.”

So, in this time warp short story, was Pat Robertson insensitive and over the top with his remarks?

(Continued in Part 2)

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Got Humor?

On one occasion a friend burst into President Abraham Lincoln’s office to tell him that a brigadier general and twelve army mules had been carried off by the Confederate Army.

“How unfortunate!” said Lincoln. “Those mules cost us two hundred dollars apiece!”

President Lincoln was a serious man who had a sense of humor. He once stated, “If I couldn’t laugh, I wouldn’t be able to last in this office for fifteen minutes.”

I agree with President Lincoln.

Yes, America has serious problems such as terrorism, unemployment, economics, wars, etc. And many of these may come crashing down on our heads, but this does not mean we should just sit around, waiting with long faces and sour attitudes. Yipes!

It’s healthy to laugh, especially at ourselves.

Maybe politicians can’t laugh (especially at themselves) because they’re worried how the media will report their actions. And maybe other leaders have the same fears.

Well, phooey on them. We don’t have to follow their examples. Each of us can learn how to cultivate a sense of humor now. It will pay huge dividends in the months and years ahead.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. (Proverbs 17:22 NLT)

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