Is it the End of the World?

Is it the End of the World?

He came, He saw, He conquered

posted by jfletcher
Gordon's Garden Tomb

Gordon’s Garden Tomb

Mark 16

And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.

And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?

And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.

And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.

And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.

But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.

And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.

Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.

And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.

After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.

And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.

Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

Fighting BDS

posted by jfletcher

For some time, Israel’s enemies have been cultivating relationships in a seemingly benign environment: America’s religious community. In particular, BDS (Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions) efforts have continued apace within mainline communities (Presbyterian Church-USA; United Methodist Church; etc.).

BDS proponents want to punish companies that do business with Israeli companies in the West Bank.

In particular, a strong effort by fair-minded Presbyterians has been successful in not only blocking BDS gains within the denomination, but in offering sensible counter-proposals.

According to an article by Maxine Dovere, in Algemeiner (“What Really Happened With the Presbyterian Church (USA) BDS Motion?”):

“At its 2012 GA, the PC-USA resolved to promote positive investment in the Middle East. The Church membership voted decidedly in favor of The Positive Investment resolution, passing it by a solid margin, 369-290, thus promising financial support for projects that include collaboration among Christians, Jews and Muslims. The Church voted to foster and help develop viable Palestinian infrastructure projects, for job creation and to encourage economic development.”

bds-300x210

The Presbyterians defeated the BDS motion at the 220th General Assembly. That type of momentum has blunted the strenuous efforts of BDS proponents, such as Anna Baltzer.

Into this fray—and the wider BDS campaign—steps a tremendous resource for fair-minded religious folks…of any stripe.

HonestReporting, a group specializing in monitoring media bias, is front-and-center in efforts to pull the mask off the BDS agenda. Alex Margolin, social media editor for HonestReporting (www.honestreporting.com) is blunt in describing the real agenda of the BDS movement:

“BDS is a comprehensive, international strategy that seeks to present Israel as a pariah state analogous to Apartheid South Africa. Designed to isolate Israel politically, economically, militarily, academically and culturally, many of its member organizations aim to delegitimize the Two-State Solution and promote one state for both people, effectively replacing Israel with an Arab-majority state in all the territories of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. BDS has become the central organizing principle around which almost all anti-Israel activity now revolves.”
Strong charges, but obvious to anyone who uses objectivity in sorting-0ut truth from fiction.
Indeed, BDS proponents continually seek to demonize Israel, and yet seem unaware that their efforts actually harm the livelihoods of many Palestinians who rely on work in the West Bank to feed their families.
I’ve met with many Palestinians who (off-the-record, for fear of retribution from the PA) say clearly that life that involves some measure of interaction with Israel is much preferred to the corruption of the Palestinian Authority, or Hamas. Israel provides jobs, medical care, and housing (among other benefits) for Palestinians who otherwise would be in dire straits—such as their brethren in Gaza and elsewhere.
Sadly, not only church activists but media celebrities employ BDS to castigate Israel. Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters comes to mind.
“BDS activists use the media to get their point across to the public,” says Margolin. “They target well-known celebrities because they know they will get media coverage for it. That gives them a platform to promote their hostile views about Israel. Ultimately, they’re looking to destroy Israel as a Jewish state.”

Margolin elaborates on HonestReporting’s efforts to oppose BDS:

“We are trying to inform people about the real goals of BDS – that it’s not about “ending the occupation,” as some media claim. It is about ending Israel as a Jewish State.”

If you are at least curious about HonestReporting’s claim, check out the myriad resources available on the group’s website. HR’s Facebook page, “Fighting BDS,” is a fast-growing site that is informing many about the unjust nature of the Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions crowd.

In a world where competing ideas clamor for audiences, this is one that readers would do well to check out.

The Great(?) Debate

posted by jfletcher

I don’t know that it was the end of the creationist movement—I’ll be accused of hysterics on that one by my own kind—but if I’m being fair and objective, Bill Nye more than held his own in his debate with Ken Ham at the latter’s Creation Museum in Kentucky tonight.

 

 

 (Full disclosure: I served as editor at Master Books for a decade—the publisher for Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis.)

 

 

 I’ll write more about this later, but the debate just concluded and color me surprised. It should be stated at the outset that, not only do I agree with Ham’s view—I’m a young-earth creationist—but he made several wonderful points and presented the Gospel very clearly to no doubt a broad audience. Ham has been doing this for 30 years and has delivered tonight’s presentation thousands of times. He’s good at it.

 

 

 But Bill Nye “Science Guy” more than held his own. What do I mean, exactly?

 

 

 Well, first, it’s very simple: two men were presenting their worldviews. That’s it. Nye does not believe the Bible describes the origins of Earth and the universe. Ham of course does.

 

 

 Yet Nye was very good. The fact that I believe he is wrong in his overall view of origins is beside the point. On points, I wouldn’t disagree with anyone who says he won. Winsome, witty, and in command of his own presentation, Nye referred to his debate opponent as “Mr. Ham,” while Ham addressed him as “Bill.” Each I think was trying to play to his own audience, but I can’t help thinking Ham came off as a fundamentalist ideologue. Nye was successful in marginalizing Ham by referring several times to the “outside,” in other words, the “real world of science” outside the walls of AiG’s behemoth museum.

 

 

 I felt the key blows (which rained down again and again in the form of a challenging question) came when Nye would virtually demand that Ham give examples of “predictions” from his worldview. Nye said repeatedly that his brand of science can make predictions based on data and evidence. For example, one can study plate tectonics and issue analysis on where and when earthquake might occur.

A sign at the Creation Museum.

A sign at the Creation Museum.

 

 

 In response…well, Ham never really responded to this aggressive challenge. The fact that Nye kept assaulting is debate opponent with it proved he realized he was winning on points, at least.

 

 

 Here’s why Ham’s non-replies left me stunned: why in the world did he not invoke the Bible’s bulletproof predictive prophecy? A few times he quickly alluded to “prophecy,” but his voice even trailed-off when he did. His heart wasn’t in that line of thinking. It was stupefying.

 

 

 Why in the wide, wide world of sports did he not simply look at Nye and cite a few of the hundreds of prophecies concerning the return of the Jews to their ancestral land, after a long exodus? Or any number of other stunning prophecies?

 

 

 I know why. Answers in Genesis sticks to origins issues, and they do it very well. In their defense of the Bible, however, they do not invoke predictive prophecy. That is their right.

 

 

 The tragedy is, Ken Ham didn’t dust-off this apologetic when he needed it most. I suspect most creationists will laud Ken Ham for his performance. Yet I watched the same debate, and it was painful.

 

 

 Like most debates, each side will declare victory.

 

 

 But tonight, there was only one Science Guy.

 

 

 

Warrior

posted by jfletcher

The Warrior is about to go to his fathers.

If press reports are accurate, 85-year-old Israeli legend Ariel Sharon is near death. In a coma for almost eight years, “Arik” is slipping from life. Not wanting to falsely anticipate his demise (we still remember the early Titanic headlines: “All Saved!”), I do want to offer a tribute to the titanic personality.

Sharon with his troops in Beirut, 1983.

Sharon with his troops in Beirut, 1983.

A sabra, a native Israeli, Sharon was born 20 years before the state was established, and his first love was probably always the land. The earth. A farmer/soldier, he retired to his ranch in the Negev in 1973, but was called back to active duty during the nearly apocalyptic Yom Kippur War, launched October 6, 1973, by the Syrians and Egyptians. The surprise attack was devastating to Israel, and it was Sharon’s daring plan to cross the Suez Canal that saved the day. Encircling Egypt’s vaunted Third Army, he was prepared to destroy it when international diplomacy hammered-out a cease-fire. Sharon’s tanks were an hour from Cairo. In the north, the IDF had overcome gruesome conditions to push back the Syrians, and they were were within an hour of Damascus.

Sharon held most of the top military and political positions in Israel, and his 2006 stroke ended his premiership. He was always controversial—hated by the left, which saw him as a butcher. Late in his life, the right hated him for withdrawing from Gaza.

An Israeli diplomat friend of mine, long retired, had an interesting perspective a few years ago when I asked him about Sharon’s later, controversial decisions.

“Listen,” he began quietly, “In 1973, he [Sharon] gave us our nation and our life.”

In other words, criticize him if you wish, but the old lion had fulfilled his God-given duty on a momentous stage in history.

I met Sharon once, at his office in Tel Aviv. He wasn’t tall, and not as fearsome as I thought he’d be—although his handshake was crushing. Frankly, though, he was still intimidating. A nice interview, he talked easily of politics, culture, farming, his own career. But it was a jolting digression midway through the discussion that I carry with me.

Coming off a lengthy discussion of peace prospects with the Palestinians, Sharon abruptly shifted gears.

“Do you know what our problem is in this country? He looked at me, a lifetime of wisdom in his eyes.

“It is that we do not teach enough Bible to our children.”

Well. Here was the old man, an almost mythical fighter and commander, a wily politician…and he was signaling that he knew where Israel’s strength came from. It was similar to a statement he made in his autobiography, Warrior, in which he acknowledged, “Something keeps this nation.”

Some recent reports indicate that Sharon’s doctors have detected brain activity. There is speculation that he can hear. If so, I must wonder: as he nears the end, what occupies his thoughts? Is it his boyhood days, wandering the land? Or might it be the sounds and sights of the Battle of Latrun, during the War of Independence? The Suez Crossing? His two wives, both of whom preceded him in death? His son, Gur, whose tragic death at a young age diminished the Six Day War victory for his father?

No one knows, of course. But I hope he knows and feels that many of us remember him fondly.

Forever.

Previous Posts

He came, He saw, He conquered
Mark 16 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first da

posted 9:09:57pm Apr. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Fighting BDS
For some time, Israel’s enemies have been cultivating relationships in a seemingly benign environment: America’s religious community. In particular, BDS (Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions) efforts have continued apace within mainline communities (Presbyterian Church-USA; United Methodist Church; etc.

posted 2:30:21pm Mar. 05, 2014 | read full post »

The Great(?) Debate
I don’t know that it was the end of the creationist movement—I’ll be accused of hysterics on that one by my own kind—but if I’m being fair and objective, Bill Nye more than held his own in his debate with Ken Ham at the latter’s Creation Museum in Kentucky tonight.      (

posted 10:40:50pm Feb. 04, 2014 | read full post »

Warrior
The Warrior is about to go to his fathers. If press reports are accurate, 85-year-old Israeli legend Ariel Sharon is near death. In a coma for almost eight years, “Arik” is slipping from life. Not wanting to falsely anticipate his demise (we still remember the early Titanic headlines: “Al

posted 6:44:29pm Jan. 01, 2014 | read full post »

JFK in Palestine
Four pages, typewritten. Analytical. Discerning of a situation so complex, not much has changed in 75 years. John F. Kennedy in Palestine. On the eve of World War II, the future president visited the tortured little region on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean and, just before leaving

posted 10:56:00pm Nov. 21, 2013 | read full post »


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