Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
Get Off the Bus! - By Ronda Lane - https://www.raptureready.com/2018/11/16/get-off-bus-ronda-lane/
The wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round... or so the song goes. Please allow me to tell you a somewhat silly story with a (hopefully) more significant ending.
As a child (as many of us did back in that era), my two sisters and I were limited by the selection of toys on the market and/or the availability to the region unless our parents ordered from the mail order Sears + Roebuck or Montgomery Ward catalogs. Apparently, our parents didn't; and we received (with thankfulness) gifts that were of the common variety.
Of that bygone era, Fisher-Price produced a school bus toy with wooden figurines with various facial expressions. Each 'seat' was a carved round space for the characters to 'sit' in. Whether or not these wooden 'students' managed to stay in their seats and/or survived a wreck was contingent upon which of the three of us sisters was 'driving' the bus.
Decades later, when my own children were young, we bought them the Fisher-Price school bus set also. But the quality of the items had declined. Gone were the finely honed, smooth wooden characters. Instead plastic characters were the modern version to replace the wooden ones of old. Rather disappointing (even more so today, or so I hear).
If any of you remember the wooden toys, you'll remember that one such character had a scowl painted on his face, and his baseball cap affixed sideways. It was clear he was meant to represent the rebellious and grumpy troublemaker on the bus.
Another figure in the set (a girl figure with ponytails) must have been overly played with in our family. If you turned her head back and forth (as you could with the older wooden types), you'd hear a shrill shriek of wood against wood, which could be made to either sound like she was whistling or screaming. Maybe a tiny piece of dirt had gotten in between the parts? I'm not sure the reason why. But it seemed fitting that this girl would represent (depending on mood) either the happy whistling girl or the loud-mouthed complainer shrieking shrilly on the bus. (Yes, children used their imaginations back then.)
Yet another figure had been painted with a facial expression that seemed to be in perpetual amazement. An 'O' of surprise represented his mouth, and eyebrows painted on just a bit too high above where they should be gave the perception of continuously astonished wonderment.
While there may have been other facial expressions, most of the other figures wore the same typical mindless smiles that one would expect a children's toy set would contain.
Many years later, my oldest sister and I both took a part-time job (to supplement our full-time jobs) in a retail establishment which also served food during the festival season. Every year in this region, a local festival in the late summer drew in many people from across the nation. While some folks who visited had ties to the area, others didn't. Back then, there was a motel in town, and some of these folks came in on buses.
My sister and I (and most of our co-workers) called these out-of-towners (privately, of course) "the bus people," whether they came in on a bus or not. I don't suppose the co-workers even understood the private joke between my sister and me. But they did understand there was a difference in attitude among the tourists as compared to the locals.
We wondered what it was about those tourist types that caused them to act as though every slight imperfection was a personal affront to them. Did they act that way at home? Or had they saved it up for us?
Some of the typical complaints were:
"You call that GRAVY? Down south is where REAL gravy is made, not this slop. You Yankees can't do anything right!"
"I said I wanted Heinz ketchup, not this... whatever this excuse for ketchup is!"
"This food is too spicy, not spicy enough, too cold, too hot, too sweet, not sweet enough," etc. Along with the complaints, invariably the claim was added that, wherever these folks resided, only they knew the "right way" to make any given certain dish.
Nine times out of ten, those who complained about the food and also wanted a refund were those who asked for such (conveniently) only after eating 90% or more of it! Most often these same folks made huge messes and left a very small tip or never left a tip at all. (I'm sure those who waitress for a living can relate.)
If the weather wasn't a perfect 75 degrees with sunshine, these folks were sure it was our fault it rained, was too warm, too cold, or too windy. But it wasn't just us they blamed. We actually heard a couple claim they were going to demand a refund from the bus charter agency because of the inclement weather!
Many of their children had apparently had the misfortune of riding on the festival rides, and also as unfortunate (for us) was that they were much every bit the complainers as their parents were. "That ride was too scary, not fast enough, too fast, not high enough, too high, the line too long," etc. And of course they lamented that they had better ride choices wherever it is they came from.
I've left out the numerous expletives that perpetually sprinkled their impossible demands and berating rants. But it's clear there was a spirit behind the evil (Eph. 2:2-3, 6:12; 1 Cor. 6:9-12, et al).
Some folks (obviously not those who rode the buses) demanded that they bring their pets inside the restaurant area of the store even though we explained to them that only service animals for disabled folks were permitted by law, and not any others - even though we also explained to them that the state board of health would shut us down if we let them bring their pets in. None of this seemed to matter to these proud pooch lovers as their pet was much more 'special' than anyone else's. In fact, the rules shouldn't even apply to them, as they were much more 'special' than us common folks also. Or so they seemed to believe.
One of those animal-loving folks brought his pet python in the doors and screamed obscenities when the manager told him that both he and his pet snake had to go.
So too went the 'special privilege' parking demands. Some wanted to park in handicap spots without handicap permits. "But you don't understand; Tiffany is so tired from walking!" Once again we'd have to explain to them that the law (which is standard across the US, no matter what 'special' region they came from) clearly states they must have either handicap plates or handicap parking permits to park in a handicap zone.
More than a few times, some of these folks left their 'special' vehicles there anyway, and found out that our 'special' policemen weren't impressed with their 'special' excuses, and promptly wrote them a ticket. I'm pretty sure that, if they argued with these overworked policemen during festival season, they would soon find that the cost of the ticket would increase to an even higher 'special' rate!
And if there happened to be a full moon that week, they were then known as the "full-moon bus people." Anyone who works with the public will know exactly what I mean.
When told that we'd be closed on Sundays (as many places were back then due to many of us going to church), those same touristy 'bus people' were shocked, literally shocked that such a quaint segment of society still existed. They even looked upon us with pitying faces as if mortified that we weren't as embarrassed by our church-going as they were for us. Church? How could anyone go to church? How could that possibly take precedence over what the world had to offer? (Or so their shocked faces conveyed.)
I don't know if folks really did act that way in their home cities and states also, or if they just let loose here since they didn't know anyone in the area. But regardless, it seemed that we all heaved a collective sigh of relief once "bus people week" was over. I was also glad that job was only part-time and that festival season only occurred once a year. My sister, co-workers, and I would sit down after cleaning up the huge messes left behind on the last day; we were young adults then and would be downright giddy that 'bus week' was over! At least back then.
I also don't know if these trends struck other regions of the US before they arrived at our somewhat remote neck of the woods or not. But I do know it wasn't much long afterwards when those same characteristics became prevalent amongst local folks here. And not just during festival week, but all year long. Every day of the year. Every hour of the day.
Gone were many of the friendly and courteous folks who held doors for each other, their elders, and especially for the disabled. To be fair, there are still a few remaining today. But they are rarer each passing year. Even each passing month.
Now there are so many rude and mean-spirited folks who are so 'special' that they don't think twice about parking in the handicap zones illegally. When trying to wrangle the wheelchair up a hill on the snowy sidewalks to get into the doctor's office, invariably it will be a young healthy person who proclaims: "Oh hey, I was only using it for a minute!" (with a sneer on his or her face). That is if they even bother to respond or note your existence on the planet at all. Most won't. At least not today.
There are so many people today who think they are entitled to things they aren't entitled to. They really do think they are so 'special' that the rules don't apply to them. And the biggest change in society today is the hatred of laws. The word 'illegal' seems to be their banner. They thumb their noses at every law in society. And it's not just here; it's all across the nation. I believe we've been seeing a rapid acceleration of lawlessness in the US, especially over the last 2-3 years.
Some of us miss those bygone eras when neighbors were friendly and church was the hub of family activity. But we wouldn't want to live through those years again only to arrive in this era of lawlessness. Witnessing these perilous last days is grievous to us.
Believers are yearning for the rapture, looking up with anticipation and great eagerness. Not back (as Lot's wife did). So please don't think I'd ever want to return to those days, even if they were better days. I simply want to show the contrast, especially for younger readers who (sadly) never experienced a time when God's word was in society and school, and was revered - not mocked, ridiculed, and excluded from every public place as it is today. What a huge difference!
So it was back then in the 'bus people' era. We got our first taste of the ungodly world permeating our small town only once a year. We were thankful it was only once a year, but it wasn't long before every business was open on Sundays and even Thanksgiving and other holidays that folks typically spent with family and at church events. Even such stores as Walgreens or Rite-aid felt the need to be open during those times (even though the pharmacy was closed and they didn't sell any Thanksgiving items such as turkey or cranberry sauce, etc.). Pure greed and godlessness has overcome society.
In fact, most employers today (around the nation, not just locally) would laugh at anyone interviewing for a job who asked to have Sundays off to go to church. They'd be the last person hired and wouldn't be given any exemptions about church-going, on the slim chance that they were hired in the first place. "It's not fair to other employees who have to work the weekends," most would claim. Of course, they'd never dream of closing the doors on Sundays now because there just aren't that many church-goers as compared to godless folks in the US today.
For those under the mistaken assumption that Christians are the majority in the US, it's time for a wakeup call. It's simply no longer true.
Even within the portion of US citizens who claim to be Christians, many aren't. They don't believe that Jesus is the only way to the Father, even though scripture clearly states He is (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; John 3:15-18; 1 Tim. 2:5 and numerous others). They don't believe that Jesus literally died for our sins, was buried, and rose the third day (1 Cor. 15:1-4). In fact, most of them don't believe scripture whatsoever. They've been taught the lie that scripture is 'all an allegory,' and that truth is supposedly subjective.
Sadly, even among those Christians who claim to believe the gospel, many don't spend any time themselves studying God's word. They don't know (and don't care to find out) if their pastor is teaching them false doctrine or not. And we need to be sure, as we were forewarned that false doctrine would be prevalent in these last days (1 Tim. 4:1-2; 2 Tim. 3:5 and 4:3-4; among others).
The only way to be sure a believer isn't being taught false doctrine is for that believer to know scripture themselves. They would then be able to immediately recognize unsound and unscriptural doctrine.
So too is the prevalence of folks who think they are so 'special' that the rules don't apply to them. Some truly think they are so 'special' that they are also above the law.
For the last several years, so many things have gotten exponentially worse. There have been many secular folks opining as to why that is. They still opine today with their worldly 'special' wisdom. But they are grievously wrong about the cause.
Bible believers know the answer. It's so very clear. These trends began to take place locally when God was kicked out of society and school. When all discipline was cast to the wind. When children started talking back to both teachers and parents, and were never reprimanded for not just disrespecting others, but even for being violent.
When every Biblical principle was removed from public schools, what did they expect? They kicked God to the curb and seemed shocked that the devil strolled right in and took over.
It used to be that the worldly folks claimed they merely wanted 'tolerance' for their Marxist and Darwinist theories to be presented in public schools.
At first they claimed they only wanted them taught alongside the US Constitution and Biblical creationism as 'alternative theories.' But just as we always suspected, tolerance was not what they had in mind whatsoever. They wanted every Biblical concept removed from society, especially from public schools.
Now they teach that the Constitution is supposedly a "living document" which can be changed with the times. The first thing they'd like to do is remove all reverence to our Creator God within our founding documents. The next would be to remove the First and Second Amendments. We're already seeing so much censorship as well as anti-gun propaganda. Both are ratcheting up exponentially since the midterm elections.
There is a large portion of our society that has been indoctrinated into the globalist fantasy of Socialism and even Communism for all - never once understanding that, in order for there to be 'free stuff' for all people, it will come at the theft of someone else's hard work and legally gained property and wealth. That doesn't seem to bother them as they have little desire to work to earn their own way, but would rather rely on a nanny state to take care of them.
They also don't have a clue that 'free stuff' very quickly runs out once they've raided everything owned by those who worked for it.
There's no reasoning with most of these folks. You can point out the historical and current failures of Socialism and Communism to these people, yet they still don't get the picture.
Romans 1:18-32 explains why, as does 2 Tim. 3 verses 7 and 13. Most of us are familiar with those scriptures; but if not, please take a moment to read them. You'll be surprised at the stunning accuracy of God's word foretelling and describing today's world.
Today they won't tolerate creationism taught in schools whatsoever. Now they demand that no children (including violent teens with criminal records) ever be spanked or even made to sit in a 'time-out.' If the children are given detention, they wear it as a badge of honor. It's no punishment. They aren't even forced to write "I will not strike my teacher or fellow students" a hundred times. Instead, they sit there playing on their phones and tablets just as they would if they weren't sitting in detention. That's no punishment or deterrent.
If they are expelled (which seems to be the only recourse still available), then the parents must have a way to either be with them to supervise them, or leave the child on their own to find even more creative ways to get into trouble. Many parents even demand that no one dare raise their voice to these children.
It used to be that parents would be upset with their children when they were disorderly or violent in schools. Now it seems that many parents demand that their children be coddled even more so at school than they are at home - with no recourse for violent actions whatsoever. It's never little Timmy's fault, even if he stabbed another child with a pencil. Why? Because little Timmy's parents are so sure he is 'special.'
Yet, since most of the teachers are themselves both godless and far-leftist in theology, they can't fathom why the parents and children are treating them that way-even if they are the ones responsible for indoctrinating young minds into the victimhood mentality. Everything is someone else's fault (or so they believe). No one is accountable or responsible for themselves. The teacher is the victim, the child is the victim, and the parent is the victim. Or so they all think. Perpetual victimhood is part and parcel of the leftist mentality today. And it all stems from the desire to portray others as the perpetrator of their own sins. But they can't see that. (Again, Rom. 1:18-32 and 2 Tim. 3:1-7 explain why.)
And children's services? As great as they have been in helping children who are truly in peril of violent or sexual abuse, all the same they've gone entirely overboard in usurping the parental rights of good parents. They've been weaponized by the left to be used against good parents.
For example, I personally know parents who were threatened by children's services for merely telling their child that they must clean their room before supper! Children's services claimed it was 'withholding food' from children. How ridiculous! No parent had starving their children in mind by simply telling their kids to pick up the toys off the floor before supper.
We saw much of this coming with comments from leftist politicians in years past. Hillary Clinton's "it takes a village" statements didn't go unnoticed by those of us who see what's really happening.
The left wants complete control over your children. Some leftist-indoctrinated teachers are especially vile to known Christian parents. I'm also aware of different occurrences where such teachers have targeted children of Christian parents by encouraging the kids to report them to CPS if they "feel compelled of their parents to pray before meals."
As if praying is now a crime? They won't admit that they think it should be (even though that's exactly where it's headed). But instead they claim it's the "compelling the child to pray" that's supposedly the issue.
What next? Scripture tells us what's next (Micah 7:2-6; Mark 13:12; Luke 21:16; et al). But I believe those events will occur during the (soon coming) tribulation. Nevertheless, we don't know how authoritarian governments will become prior to the rapture, should the Lord tarry for even a short time.
I'm sure we can think of a thousand more ways leftist-run public schools are attempting to indoctrinate children into every wicked and vile atrocity that goes against God's word - some of which are so evil and loathsome I can't even repeat them here. Every day there's another news article reporting more of the vile filth children are subjected to. They fill children's heads with these gender-bending lies every day. They even want to teach this disgusting filth to preschoolers.
Folks, if at all possible, get your children and grandchildren out of public schools. Homeschool them or send them to a good Christian school, if one is available in your area. Yes, it will mean sacrifice on your part. Sacrifice of your time and/or finances also. But our children and grandchildren are worth it!
As much as some of us would like to believe that America will be 'great again,' it's not in scripture. I've heard some otherwise sound pastors claim that 2 Chron. 7:14 is for the church, but read the entire chapter. Or at least read that scripture in context! It's talking to and about Israel, not the US.
It sure isn't going to happen while our public schools are promoting far-leftist, God-hating and Christ-rejecting propaganda. I hate to say it, but we've lost our public schools altogether to the ungodly.
We won't be 'great again' with the blood of 60+ million abortions-and counting-continuing unabated, and with the mockery of God's word pertaining to male and female, marriage, and basic scriptural concepts thrown out the window in this nation (and most other nations as well). We can't expect God to bless this mess when children are being indoctrinated into the devil's lies from a tender age, and when children are being harmed by pedophiles and stolen by human traffickers at unprecedented rates.
If anything, God has been far more merciful to the US (and many other nations) than we deserve (as a whole). We believers pray that the rapture is very near - and from all scriptural indications, it looks to be. But in the meanwhile, as we wait, we mustn't bury our heads in the sand and pretend our children will get through public schools unscathed. It's not just the majority of their peers pressuring them into worldly ways. But the majority of teachers and faculty today are also unbelievers with far-leftist ideology.
The indoctrination into demonically inspired evil doesn't end with grade school and high school either. Most colleges today (even those who formerly claimed to be Christian colleges) are now propagandizing young adults with even more hardcore globalist and antichrist agendas. Parents pay 5-6 figures a year to send their adult children to college today. And what do they get in return? Many of the majors aren't even useful in today's job market. They are then saddled with debt (or their parents are) for decades; and not only do they have no marketable skills, but they also have a corrupt world view- the antichrist globalist view. (See also: 2 Pet. 2:17-19.)
Sadly, even many seminaries who are training young men to be pastors have succumbed to teaching the devil's lies. Some very devoted young believers find that they are quickly taught to doubt the veracity of the Bible! These professors (not believers themselves, even if they call themselves 'Christians') think they know more than God's word. They think they are intellectually superior to God themselves! They teach the Oprah Winfrey-type, ecumenicist lie that there are supposedly 'many paths to God.' What evil lies! Also teaching them to doubt God's word altogether. That sneaky serpent sure hasn't changed tactics much since Genesis 3:1, has he? (See also: 2 Pet. 2:1-3, 20-22.)
So many folks now believe they are superior, 'special,' and know better than God does. They mock His word and tout human reasoning above scripture. Yet, isn't that what God's word told us to expect? Isn't that same pridefulness the same thing that brought the devil down? The desire to usurp God? How foolish that a created being would ever entertain the thought of usurping the place of the One who created him! The Lord rebuke thee, devil! It's no wonder that unsaved mankind falls into the same trap.
The folks my sister and I used to jokingly call 'the bus people' aren't just out-of-town tourists today. This same culture has infiltrated every segment of society now. Just as scripture warned, these characteristics would be prevalent in these perilous last days (2 Tim. 3:1-5).
And where is this 'bus' full of Christ-rejecting and God-hating people headed? Down the broad and wide path to destruction.
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matt. 7:13-14).
Several decades ago there was a secular song called "Highway to Hell." How sad that the unsaved world (even today) thinks that hell is a party and that their friends are going to be there laughing it up and having a good time with them in hell? Nothing could be further from the truth. Hell is a joke to them. But it's no laughing matter. The devil has blinded their eyes.
"In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Cor. 4:4).
Are you on that 'bus' spiraling towards the tribulation and towards hell itself? On the "highway to hell"? If so, GET OFF THE BUS! Come to Christ now for salvation. None of us are promised tomorrow on this earth. (James 4:13-15; Psalm 103:14-16; 1 Pet. 1:24-25; Prov. 27:1; Ecc. 2:11-16; Isaiah 40:17, et al.)
Jesus has already paid your sin debt when He died for our sins, was buried, and rose the third day (1 Cor. 15:1-4). But this free gift of eternal salvation requires your belief in Jesus' finished work (Rom. 10:9-10; John 3:15-18; Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:8-9; many others). Not our own works.
The unsaved world laughs, scoffs, and mocks not only Jesus but His soon return! (Jude 1:18; 2 Pet. 3:3-4). Ironically, they don't even recognize that they are themselves fulfilling Bible prophecy by doing so!
How sad that they will one day stand before their maker and realize that they too could have had eternal salvation, that their sins were already paid for, but that they said "NO!" (John 3:18) and rejected Christ. That decision will haunt them for eternity. What regret and remorse they will have! But it will be too late then. God gave us free will in this lifetime to choose whether to accept Jesus' offer of eternal salvation or not. None of us knows for certain when we will take our last breath on this earth. Once you do, it will be too late to change your mind.
For those who've trusted Christ for salvation, we are promised deliverance from the wrath to come (1 Thes. 1:10; Rom. 5:9; 1 Thes. 5:9). God's word even tells us how Jesus will deliver us believers (1 Cor. 15:49-53; 1 Thes. 4:16-18). The rapture!
"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).
The EU's Dangerous New Confidence Game - by Douglas Murray - https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/13262/eu-confidence-game
At the start of this decade, a minor story occurred that set the scene for the years that have followed. In 2010, a Saudi lawyer named Faisal Yamani wrote to the Danish newspapers that had published cartoons of Islam's prophet, Mohammed. Claiming to act on behalf of 95,000 descendants of Mohammed, the Saudi lawyer said that the cartoons were defamatory and that legal proceedings would thereby begin.
However, everything about the supposed legal claim reeked. How had Mr Yamani located all these descendants? How had he come up with exactly 95,000 of them? And how could you claim that a statement about somebody who died 1,400 years ago was "defamatory"? Legally, one cannot "defame" the dead.
Everything about the claim was laughable Yet it had its desired effect. At least one Danish paper -- Politiken -- swiftly issued an apology for republishing the cartoons. So Mr Yamani got what he wanted. He had (one might suggest) conjured up a set of alleged victims and cobbled together an alleged offence, but no matter, because he also got a European newspaper to fold in no seconds flat. It was an interesting probe of the European system of justice -- and a good example of submission. And a fine scene-setting precedent for the decade that has followed.
Now, eight years later, an even greater act of submission has come along. This one not imposed from some dodgy Saudi lawyer, but from the highest court in Europe.
At the end of last month, the European Court of Human Rights issued its ruling in a long-running case involving an Austrian woman named Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff. Way back in 2009, in Vienna, Sabaditsch-Wolff (who has lived in several Muslim countries) gave two seminars entitled, "Basic Information on Islam." During these talks, in the words of the ECHR:
"... she discussed the marriage between the Prophet Muhammad and a six-year old girl, Aisha, which allegedly was consummated when she was nine. Inter alia, the applicant stated that Muhammad 'liked to do it with children' and '... A 56-year-old and a six-year-old? ... What do we call it, if it is not pedophilia?'"
For this statement, based on the text of an official Hadith [the acts and saying if Muhammad], Sahih-Bukhari, Vol. 5, Book 58, Nos. 234-236, the Vienna Regional Criminal Court, in February 2011, found Sabaditsch-Wolff guilty of "disparaging religious doctrines." She was fined 480 euros and ordered to pay costs. During an appeal the following December, the court upheld the decision. In December 2013, Austria's Supreme Court dismissed a request for the proceedings to be renewed.
So, Ms Sabaditsch-Wolff took her case to the ECHR, and filed her application in June 2012. In her defense, she cited Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is meant to protect freedom of expression.
The wheels of ECHR justice, however, grind slow, so it was not until last month -- a mere six years after the case was filed -- that the court issued its judgement. According to the ECHR ruling:
"Relying on Article 10 (freedom of expression), Mrs S. complained that the domestic courts failed to address the substance of the impugned statements in the light of her right to freedom of expression. If they had done so, they would not have qualified them as mere value judgments but as value judgments based on facts."
The court ruled that the right of people to express themselves under Article 10 did not supersede the right of other people "to have their religious feelings protected" (under Article 9). The ruling states:
"The Court observed also that the subject matter of the instant case was of a particularly sensitive nature, and that the (potential) effects of the impugned statements, to a certain degree, depended on the situation in the respective country where the statements were made, at the time and in the context they were made."
Meaning, it would appear, that a statement might be protected in one European country and not in another.
"The Court noted that the domestic courts comprehensively explained why they considered that the applicant's statements had been capable of arousing justified indignation; specifically, they had not been made in an objective manner contributing to a debate of public interest (e.g. on child marriage), but could only be understood as having been aimed at demonstrating that Muhammad was not worthy of worship. It agreed with the domestic courts that Mrs S. must have been aware that her statements were partly based on untrue facts and apt to arouse indignation in others. The national courts found that Mrs S. had subjectively labelled Muhammad with paedophilia as his general sexual preference, and that she failed to neutrally inform her audience of the historical background, which consequently did not allow for a serious debate on that issue."
Just as importantly, the court concluded:
"... [Austria's] domestic courts carefully balanced the applicant's right to freedom of expression with the rights of others to have their religious feelings protected, and to have religious peace preserved in Austrian society."
The fact that Ms Sabaditsch-Wolff had been ordered by the Austrian court only to pay what the ECHR ruling called a "moderate fine" meant that the ECHR did not view the punishment as "disproportionate."
Of course all of this has provoked a range of responses, from people saying that the ECHR has overseen the insertion of a new blasphemy law within Europe to those insisting that there is nothing to see here, and that the judgement is of absolutely no interest. Somewhere in the middle are a range of legal voices saying that all that the ECHR has done has agreed that the Austrian courts have the right to make their own decisions on this matter. So again -- there is nothing, or at least not much, to see here. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The first problem brought by the ECHR decision to uphold the Austrian court's verdict against Sabaditsch-Wolff is that it means that, at least in cases of blasphemy, truth is not a defence. There is -- as every Islamic scholar knows -- significant evidence from the Hadith to allow someone to make a perfectly plausible case along the lines that Sabaditsch-Wolff did. But the courts went further. They claimed that her statements were based on "untrue facts" -- whatever those might be. As I have pointed out elsewhere, this poses a serious problem for Europeans. It tells us that words we can read with our own eyes, and which are in books freely available anywhere in the world, do not say the words that they say. What are we to do? Lie? Apparently so.
The second problem is that it turns it a debate about facts into a debate about "tone." Were certain things said in an "objective" manner or not? So, in the future, one European might state something in one tone of voice and another might state it in another -- and on that, a prosecution could be launched. While the first defendant can expect to be hauled before the court, the second may be allowed to continue to roam intellectually and physically free. Who is to decide that?
The third problem is, of course, that such a judgement hands over the decision on what is or is not allowed to be said not to a European or national court, but to whoever can claim, plausibly or otherwise, that another individual has risked "the peace."
Which returns us to the example of the 95,000 descendants of Mohammed. There have been similar mobster tricks tried for some years now. They all run on the old claim, "I'm not mad with you myself; I'm just holding my friend back here." In the Austrian case, as in the Danish one, it seems to have a disturbing ability to work. Yet in the universe of confidence games, this must be among the baldest and the worst.
Once one group of people sees that game working, why shouldn't everyone else play it too? Why shouldn't any other group in Austria other than Muslims claim, on a routine basis, that their feelings have been hurt and announce to the courts that, as a result, "peace" has been put at risk? If I were an Austrian Christian of a fundamentalist bent, I might well think about attending various lectures and sermons at a range of Austrian mosques, waiting until one of the speakers denies the divinity and resurrection of Christ and then run straight to the courts. After all, a denial of the resurrection of Christ by a Muslim could be deemed to be seriously offensive to a Christian and who is to say that "peace" will not be at risk as a result?
There is a complacency that has settled across Europe. This complacency is amply demonstrated by those happy to say that what has just happened at the ECHR is really nothing important. They are wrong. It is extremely important. Not just because it is an awful example of the morally bewildered decade we are in, but because it sets the stage horribly -- for Muslims and non-Muslims for decades to come.
Nearing Midnight: Israel and the Art of the Deal - Terry James - https://www.raptureready.com/category/nearing-midnight/
With America's midterm elections done, except for all the shenanigans going on in Florida and Arizona at the time of this writing, focus of President Trump's agenda seems destined to soon turn to Israel. His friend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has election problems of his own looming. Trump's actions and reactions with regard to Israel, therefore, present intriguing potentiality.
The intrigue involves a primary matter of Bible prophecy set for fulfillment in the near future. The peace process involving the Jewish state and its enemy neighbors is at the heart of the intrigue, of course. There is, it is well known in diplomatic circles, a "deal" in the works.
The Trump administration is holding the key elements within this brewing deal close to its presidential vest. But, the man who is known for the "art of the deal" is obviously operating in his interaction with Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the same way he always deals. He is a master of keeping his counterparts in negotiations off-balance, most often coming in with proposals at the most crucial time, forcing decisions that leave interlocutors within negotiations without recourse but to agree.
There is no more important negotiation in which Trump could possibly be engaged than this one. We are talking about the very heart of Bible prophecy yet future. This matter involves getting dangerously close to what God, Himself, calls "the apple of my eye." The nation-the people called Israel-is a most sensitive matter in God's holy view.
The Israeli prime minister has for years now been subjected to much the same sort of accusation and innuendo Donald Trump has faced. He is embattled on all sides by opposition politicians and by both Israeli national and international news media.
Still, according to polls, it looks like Netanyahu will be reelected in the upcoming election.
He will almost certainly be forced to dissolve the present government and call an election. The question is whether the election will be called next year or sometime very soon-before the end of the year.
One opinion piece explains:
Two clocks are ticking, one in Jerusalem and one in Washington. The problem is that for the time being, they are not synchronized.
With the midterm elections over in the US, President Donald Trump now has the bandwidth and time to shift his focus back to foreign policy issues, including the so-called "deal of the century" that he longs to broker between Israel and the Palestinians. The finishing touches are being put on the plan, and it could be rolled out as early as next month or in January.
The US schedule doesn't seem to match up with Israel's schedule, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is apparently toying with the idea of moving up the elections, scheduled now for November 2019. No one in the coalition believes the government will last until then, and almost everyone thinks something - either the haredi draft bill or Netanyahu's criminal investigations - will prompt the prime minister to dissolve the government in the coming months.
This is important because if the government is dissolved in December, there would be no point in rolling out a peace deal that Israel will not be able to embrace...
This is important because if the government is dissolved in December, there would be no point in rolling out a peace deal that Israel will not be able to embrace. (What will come first - Israeli elections or the U.S. peace plan rollout? by Yaakov Katz, Opinion - Jerusalem Post, November 10, 2018)
Benjamin Netanyahu wants to show the world that he wants to say yes to Israel's good friend America in the matter of a peace deal. He has most always answered "no" to pressures by American presidents. This is understandable,
because these pressures have been brought about by the likes of President Clinton and President Obama. These-and even George W. Bush, with the likes of James Baker pushing matters-have wanted Israel to give up too much to enemies blood-vowed to push all Jews into the Mediterranean.
But now Netanyahu has a president to deal with who has demonstrated both a love for Israel and the ability to accomplish what few, if any, have been able to accomplish.
Does the Trump plan, held closely to the presidential vest, include giving the Palestinian Authority the state they want? Will this mean dividing God's most beloved city? These are intriguing-and dangerously so- questions to be sure.
Proceed very cautiously, Mr. President.
But I'm a Good Person... - By JoAnne Abrassart -
I don't know about you, but I can no longer count the number of times I've heard people exclaim that they will be in Heaven because they are "good" people. When pressed to explain their notion of "good," few can do so. The general premise is that they haven't killed anyone, burned down homes or cheated on their spouse. They tend to be patriotic, obey the laws of the land and may give generously to various causes that help others less fortunate. Compared to murderers, rapists, thieves and blackmailers, they are certainly citizens in good standing with the culture. But therein lies the problem.
The means for judging "goodness" lies in their comparison with the CULTURE, specifically all of the other people in the culture. There seems to be the assumption that there is no OTHER standard, such as GOD'S.
Although apostate beliefs have long been around, the last 60 years have seen an exponential growth in the apostasy of belief in the inerrant, inspired word of God. Even among those who still value God's word, there is significant Biblical illiteracy. For fear of "offending," few churches and pastors are teaching the basic premise of Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God."
Romans 3:10 (KJV) elaborates a little further: "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one."
Ecclesiastes 7:20 (ESV) states: "Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins." (Emphasis mine.)
The point is, that even the best of us does not do good ALWAYS - EVERYDAY. At some point, we all succumb to our "bad side" which we excuse as fatigue, illness, stress and so on. My personal favorite is the claim to "just being human." Often without realizing it, that is EXACTLY the issue at hand!
As the Apostle Paul says in Romans 7:18, "For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do good, but I cannot carry it out." (Emphasis mine.)
The culture would have us believe that we can make any necessary changes to our lives with just a little effort and the right resources. Secular humanism has made its way into the thinking of so many, prompting the movement away from God and trusting in Him, to elevating man to a godlike stature with all power to run his life and determine his future. But none of this changes the fact that God lives and rules in the affairs of men.
After all is said and done, it is only God's standards that will count. That said, God has clearly established HIS standard for righteousness as spelled out in the Ten Commandments. Sadly, so many in the church don't know what they are. So let's review as found in Deuteronomy 5: 7-22:
"You shall have no other gods before me." (vs. 7)
"You shall not make for yourself a carved image-any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them." (vs. 8)
"You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain." (vs. 11)
"Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God, You shall do no work..." (vs. 12-14a).
"Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you." (vs. 16).
"You shall not commit murder." (vs. 17)
"You shall not commit adultery." (vs. 18)
"You shall not steal." (vs. 19)
"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." (vs. 20).
"You shall not covet your neighbor's wife; ...his house...his field....his servants...or anything that is your neighbor's." (vs. 21).
Add to this the teaching of James 2:10 which states that whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. Most people would not consider a traffic ticket to be the breaking of the whole law, but if you look at lawfulness vs. lawlessness in their totality, to offend in just one of the laws under which we live violates the totality of lawfulness. The law then becomes the terrible burden of a bar set too high.
I remember a friend of my mother's complaining that she could not keep the 10 commandments; and as a result, she dismissed Christianity. I tried to tell her that there was another option to rejection.
In Galatians 3:24, the Apostle Paul explains that the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. In other words, we are not capable of keeping the law because our fleshly natures are at war with God's spirit. He describes the law as a mirror that reflects back our image, and as a tutor designed to encourage us to look for redemption somewhere other than ourselves.
The law was not provided to justify us, but to show us how bad we are and how good God is! The law brings death, but the good news is that God knew this well in advance. He knew that we were not capable of our own redemption (not that this has stopped every religion from the beginning of time). So, unlike other "religions," He provided a way FOR us. Jesus tells us who/what that "way" is. In John 14:6 He says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (NIV)
The doorway to redemption/salvation is none other than Jesus Himself. God had to make a provision for dealing with our sin before He could reconcile us to Himself. In Leviticus 17:11 God tells us, "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life."
In the Old Testament, the blood of bulls and goats was offered on the altar repeatedly for the sins of the people. This was a foreshadowing of the cross where the blood of the perfect Lamb of God, Jesus, would be shed for sin, once and for all. Jesus died on the cross and took upon Himself all the penalty for sin...OUR sin. The good news is that He died in our place, knowing we could not save ourselves.
The greatest stumbling block to our pride is recognizing that admitting our sin and inviting Christ into our lives is all that it takes to begin a journey of real faith. It's too simple to be relevant.... right? The insistence that we are "good" people reveals the war within us that will not bow the knee in submission to anything/anyone outside ourselves. Our acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior is by grace through faith in Christ. It is not by feelings, emotions or any form of personal effort, but through only faith or trust in Christ.
Jesus states in Revelation 3:20, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person and they with me."
This is an interesting reference to sharing a meal. It implies a time of intimate communication as a family and friends around the table laughing, joking, crying, and talking during the course of a meal. In this setting, there is a closeness and depth of relationship that goes well beyond the superficial associations we encounter every day. Not everyone is invited home to dinner.
For those who choose to open that door, there is forgiveness of sin that can only be understood by those who experience it. The Bible is clear about what takes place in that "conversion moment" (my words), also known as the new birth. That "conversion moment" is what Christians refer to as being "born again," the expression Jesus used with Nicodemus when He told him, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."
"How can a man be born when he is old?' Nicodemus asked. 'Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!'
"Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again'" (John 3:3-7).
The new birth brings new life, not new religion. In fact, Satan loves religion because it has no power to change a life. The words of Jesus to Nicodemus clearly convey this. The new birth is supernatural. It involves the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the new believer's life.
The Bible says many things happen to a person when they are born again. First and foremost, the new believer becomes a child of God. That person is delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son (Colossians 1:13). The believer is no longer condemned but is passed from death into life.
John 5:24 says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."
The believer is sealed with the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13 says, "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also after that ye believe, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise."
Included in this sealing is the promise of eternal life, never perishing.
John 10:28 states, "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."
Being held firmly in God's hand, the believer is kept by the power of God.
Peter 1:5 states, "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
In addition to eternal life, all of the new believers' sins are forgiven - past, present and future (Romans 8:1). He or she is now a member of God's family and blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3).
Ezekiel 36:26 says, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."
For those who closely watch the events of the world and how they relate to the prophetic timeline, it is clear that we are living in the "latter days" that Jesus referred to in Matthew 24 when He explained to His disciples the signs that would be evident before his Second Coming. That said, there isn't much time to decide what you will do with Jesus Christ. Choose life.
Daily Jot: American socialism now and in 1620 - Bill Wilson - www.dailyjot.com
My grandfather 13 generations back was William Bradford, co writer of the Mayflower Compact and eventual leader of the Pilgrims who came to America on the Mayflower in 1620. There were some 102 passengers and about 30 crewmen on that ship that braved horrible weather, disease, and other hardships to come to this new place that later would become the greatest Christian nation in the world. Bradford wrote, "So they committed themselves to the will of God, and resolved to proceed. In several of these storms the wind was so strong and the seas so high that they could not carry a knot of sail, but were forced to hull for many days." The trip in of itself to find a place to worship without persecution was most difficult.
Once landed, it was no picnic either. Bradford says, "But soon a most lamentable blow fell upon them. In two or three month's time half of their company died...scarcely 50 remained, and sometimes two or three persons died in a day. In the time of worst distress, there were but six or seven sound persons, who, to their great commendation be it spoken, spared no pains night or day, but with great toil and at the risk of their own health, fetched wood, made fires, prepared food for the sick, made their beds, washed their infected clothes, dressed and undressed them; in a word did all the homely and necessary services for them which dainty and queasy stomachs cannot endure to hear mentioned."
"...And what I have said of these few, I should say of many others who died in this general visitation, and others yet living, that while they had health or strength, they forsook none that had need of them. I doubt not that their recompense is with the Lord." Their Virginia Company Charter, however, called for common ownership of land, property, food, drink, clothing, and provisions. Bradford saw that this socialist experiment was detrimental to the colony because it inspired laziness and a lack of productivity. Bradford then did away with this structure, giving ownership of land to each person and two days a week for "their own private employment." This was the first capitalist system and the colony then prospered.
The headlines 398 years later are that nearly 39 million Americans (the total population of California and Connecticut combined) likely will eat their Thanksgiving dinner purchased by food stamps. Liberals say without the government, these people would starve. In reality, without the government, the citizens across the land would be blessed as the Pilgrims were by reaching out and helping their neighbor from the goodness of their hearts. As written in 2 Corinthians 9:11-12, "Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causes through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplies the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God." Bradford knew in 162 that government won't save you. Only the Lord will save you. He chooses to do it through his people.
Daily Devotion: Remember to Give Thanks - By Greg Laurie - www.harvest.org
And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. -Luke 17:15-16
The Bible tells the story of ten men who had a lot to give thanks for. They were miraculously touched by Jesus. Prior to this touch, they were complete outcasts, the very scourge of society. These men had leprosy, and you couldn't get any lower in that particular time in history with this incurable disease.
If a man was found to have leprosy, he could have no contact with others. He had to leave his house and his friends and live apart from them. So here were these men living an isolated, miserable, lonely life. But they heard about Jesus. They heard how He had touched others and healed them.
So they called out to the Lord and asked for His healing touch. Now these men were standing before Jesus in various stages of decay. Their clothing would have been ripped from perpetual mourning. Their skeletal heads would have been uncovered. They would have been required, according to the Law of Moses, to cry out, "Unclean! Unclean!" wherever they went.
But Jesus did not respond to them with special effects or even a dramatic touch. He simply said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests" (Luke 17:14 NKJV). So that is what they did. And guess what? They were healed.
Yet only one decided to go back and give thanks. The Bible tells us he was a Samaritan, which may not mean a lot to us. But normally, Jews and Samaritans had no dealings with each other. The Jews looked down on the Samaritans. Yet it wasn't one of the sons of Abraham that came to give thanks; it was a Samaritan. And he was commended for this.
We are so quick to ask for God's help, but let's remember to be just as quick in giving Him praise when He comes through.
FROM THE HEART
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"Folks, it's all beginning to unravel. America is in more danger of falling than at any time in its history. But I believe Bible prophecy predicts this very decline. From this point on, we believers have to get serious. We are going to face discouragement, disillusionment and, most certainly, persecution in the time between now and the Rapture. But don't be discouraged or disillusioned. The coming turmoil will provide us unrivaled opportunities to share the good news of the Gospel. So be ready to share your faith and your hope with those who need Christ. We still have time to reap a great harvest of souls for God's kingdom!" - Hal Lindsey
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