Is it the End of the World?

Is it the End of the World?

Long Live Israel!

posted by jfletcher
Israel's Scroll of Independence

Israel’s Scroll of Independence

As we sit now between Israel’s Independence Day celebrations (according to the Jewish calendar, the Israeli celebration was yesterday—in America, we look forward to May 14), I thought it would be interesting to visit with a man I greatly admire, Kenneth Bialkin. The chairman of the America-Israel Friendship League (AIFL), Bialkin has a front-row seat when it comes to the American-Israel relationship.

Bialkin is a thoughtful observer, and his reflections on Independence Day are especially insightful.

“This year Independence Day is right after Memorial Day (“Yom Hashoah Ve-Hagevurah” in Hebrew). The entire country stops, the sirens ring, people get out of their cars and stand in the streets for a moment of silence in memory of the people who died in the Holocaust. It is a solemn day, remembering those who perished.

“A week later is Independence Day. A day of celebration, like our Fourth of July, which gives thanks and celebrates the freedom that is preserved from the time in 1948 when a relatively small group announced the independence of Israel.”

Bialkin recognizes Israel’s remarkable accomplishments and also acknowledges the challenges the country faces.

“Here we are in 2014 and this is a special celebration. Israel is still the only free country in the whole region, in all of the Middle East. It’s the only one that hasn’t seen rebellion, revolution, or civil war. On every border, its neighbors are fighting: civil war in Syria; conflicts in Lebanon amongst the various sects; the struggle in almost every country between those who are fighting terrorism and those who are practicing terrorism (sometimes you can’t tell the difference between them). And here is Israel, in the midst of that region, able to keep its independence, freedom, and dignity and democracy. It stands there as America’s main ally in the fight against terror.”

As with every year of Israel’s modern existence, there are dangers lurking.

“The pressure of Iran hangs over the region and later this year we will learn whether the interim agreement with Iran will be such that Iran gives up the prospect of a nuclear weapon. Israel and the U.S. will have to agree on Iran if they [Iranians] balk on the prospect of giving up a nuclear device.”

Israel has enjoyed the support of an overwhelming majority of the American public. Bialkin appreciates this, but also wonders where American political leadership stands.

“If you look at analysis of public opinion in America, it’s astounding how strong the support for Israel is, notwithstanding the fact that—just to put it delicately—no one really knows where America [politically] stands on these issues in the peace process.

“America has now called a timeout in the negotiations because the parties were unable to come to an agreement in all these months of brokered negotiations. So we all have to be careful and watchful.”

Recently, Secretary of State John Kerry raised eyebrows when he told a private gathering that if negotiations with the Palestinians fail, Israel risks being seen as an “apartheid state.”

Kerry’s unfortunate remarks created a firestorm.

“The expressions of the secretary of state create a certain ambiguity of where the administration lies in how long and how strongly it will stand by and support Israel fully. But I think the American public and Congress haven’t wavered a bit. And I think we can all take a great deal of comfort in the fact
that most people in America love freedom and love Israel.”

With friends like Kenneth Bialkin, Israel is in good hands. May the connection between our two countries remain unbreakable!

Untold News

posted by jfletcher

In Mitchell Bard’s op-ed in the Huffington Post, posted April 24 (“Defining ‘Pro Israel’ Is Not Rocket-Science”), the scholar set down his 13 “attributes” one must possess in order to be called pro-Israel. I was particularly intrigued with no. 3, given the fact that we too often hear only negative things about Israel and her neighbors. Bard states:

“Emphasizes the good in Israel while acknowledging the faults, rather than emphasizing the faults and ignoring Israel’s virtues.”

More and more, I am drawn to this theme. I find that people who have been indifferent to the Jewish state, or in some cases hostile, listen thoughtfully when hearing (usually for the first time) that Israel does a heck of a lot of good in the world.

Untold News (www.untoldnews.org) is such a source of information. Founder Marcella Rosen has assembled a team that reports on Israeli innovation in a host of fields: medicine, agriculture, and technology. Almost all these efforts are truly astonishing in scope.

Take the plans to develop desalination plants. The Middle East, of course, has oil…but not so much water. Israeli engineers are able to obtain fresh water from seawater!

(The Israelis are also leading innovators in drip-irrigation techniques, used around the world. Imagine my shock while driving near the Dead Sea for the first time and seeing vast palm groves dotting what was once a moonscape. Israel has no peer when it comes to reclaiming the land from centuries of ruin and neglect.)

Yoram Oren is one of the researchers making desalination a reality. The Ben-Gurion University professor is up to the daunting (and daring) task:

“Nature seeks equilibrium,” he says. “Desalination, separating the salt from sea water to make fresh water, is an act of overcoming what nature is seeking. It’s not easy.”

With precious water sources like the Jordan River hotly contested among Israel and her neighbors, desalination is almost miraculous.

Israeli scientist Sidney Loeb developed—in the ‘60s—a semi-permeable membrane that made possible the process of reverse osmosis. From there, modern Israeli innovators have made the process work.

Or consider the case of a Palestinian baby, born with a heart defect. She was treated at an Israeli hospital, made possible through an Israeli charity. Untold News archives many such amazing stories, and Rosen is thrilled with the tremendous feedback her team’s efforts have garnered:

“From the hospital to the farm, from outer space to your kitchen, Israel’s life-saving, life-giving, life-enhancing creations make a positive difference every day in your life, in the lives of people you care about and in the lives of people you’ll never meet.

“It’s my firm belief that the world needs to hear this story — about a tiny nation where an unprecedented degree of life-altering work is being done every day. Further, the world shouldn’t wait to hear it.”

Rosen’s book, Tiny Dynamo, is a quick read chock-full of amazing stories of Israeli innovation.

Desalination is just one Israeli innovation that is helping make the world a better place.

Desalination is just one Israeli innovation that is helping make the world a better place.

“This book tells 21 stories about Israelis who are emblematic of their nation’s determination to make a positive difference,” Rosen writes, “And the work through which they’re expressing that determination. I chose these stories because they represent a cross-section of what’s going on within Israel’s borders . . . but for every story I chose, there are dozens more that could have been included.”

Untold News is telling a story that everyone needs to hear: a story of hope and positive change in a volatile region of the world.

It is a thrilling story that gives us hope.

Into the Cauldron

posted by jfletcher
Terry James' book table at the Mid-America Prophecy Conference.

Terry James’ book table at the Mid-America Prophecy Conference.

We live in an era in which much of Bible prophecy teaching is mocked and marginalized.

And I’m just talking about from within the Christian community! To be more specific, it is becoming popular within some evangelical circles to bash prophecy teaching and prophecy teachers.

To be fair, some Bible prophecy teachers over the years have engaged in date setting or other irresponsible speculations. However, those few who have done so have provided ammo to the scoffers, who hold them up for (proper) ridicule, while also tarring the rest of the prophecy community with the same brush.

It is a Straw Man argument and one that tragically convinces many young people not to listen to prophecy teaching. I do lament those within the prophecy community who have harmed the cause with wild speculations.

Terry James, though, isn’t one of them.

My dear friend of two decades is perhaps the current patriarch of the movement. He is one of the most credible, responsible, and biblical prophecy teachers, ever. I started my editing and writing career by editing Terry’s books. His ability to teach sometimes-difficult concepts, and his keen eye for prophetic signals in our world compelled me to follow in his footsteps.

I have the privilege of visiting with him regularly, and enjoy writing for RaptureReady (the world’s largest Bible prophecy website), his co-endeavor with our good friend, Todd Strandberg.

So it is that I have eagerly anticipated the arrival of Terry’s new prophecy book, Cauldron, which is one of the best primers for the prophecy student…that I’ve ever seen. Terry told me recently:

“I wrote it in much more down-to-earth terms…I want it to be a basic understanding of where the Middle East is going.”

That includes his explanations of the nations involved, the importance of Jerusalem, Israel’s role in the last days, etc.

He not only outlines prophecy for the novice, he skillfully analyzes a whole range of reasons Bible prophecy is relevant for the individual.

I read a lot of Bible prophecy books, and enjoy many of them. Few though hit on all cylinders like Cauldron.

So wherever you purchase books, remember—Cauldron: Supernatural Implications of the Current Middle East and Why What Happens Next Will Be Important to You.

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.

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.

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My friend at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, is a wealth of information, especially for people of faith struggling to understand the dynamics in the Arab-Israeli conflict. His book, Demonizing Israel and the Jews, is a hard look at the alarming rise in anti-S

posted 4:10:02pm Jun. 20, 2014 | read full post »

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posted 12:08:28pm Jun. 19, 2014 | read full post »

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