And Jehovah answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tablets, that he may run that readeth it.
(Habakkuk 2:2 [ASV])

                  



_________




Eight Souls
In the age when men lived to be nearly a thousand years old, wickedness became so great that God only saved eight people.

Power Of Prayer
A look at prayer and and its great importance to a genuine Christian.

Prayer: Standing In The Gap



An Open Letter To Black Lives Matter:
How to avoid being ensnared in the ongoing Federal operation 'Ni∓∓er Catcher' and 'Black Snare', run out of the US intelligence community and certain sections of Law Enforcement. These operations do exist, though naturally not with those pejorative titles. They are not legal, nor are they officially recognized but key people in high positions run these operations that specifically target Black Americans and certain White Americans who seek justice, truth and use their rights to bring these things back to our once great nation. The impetus comes from the US Intelligence community - LE does the footwork. This is what they did to so many civil rights leaders back in the 60's and 70's. They have honed their skills for the technology of the 21st century.


An Open Letter To Senator Mikulski And The Senate Select Committee On Intelligence


_____



Last Updated
13 Feb 2020


markswatson.com
For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words,
of him shall the Son of man be ashamed,
when he cometh in his own glory,
and the glory of the Father,
and of the holy angels.
(Luke 9:26 [ASV])



I have set Jehovah always before me:
Because he is at my right hand, I
 shall not be moved.
(Psalms 16:8 [ASV])

***


Mark can be reached
here.
 

13 Feb

Big Pharma

In light of the Coronovirus scare, I figured it might be time to look at Big Pharma and some of the things that have been going on with it under the radar.

I think a look at the Medical industry is important because I personally see the whole US medical profession turning into one giant financial octopus. Whenever there is that much money concentrated in one place, some highly organized criminals will find their way into it. Indeed many already have if the Justice Department's indictments of late are any indication. But there are more sophisticated ways that Big Pharma can increase profits at the expense of the health and pocketbook and even homes of ordinary Americans.

Have you wondered why there is so much good and interesting medical information being censored and taken down at your favorite social networking site? Well, I found a story over at Dr. Mercola's site that may shed a little light on some of the trends we see in who is calling what 'fake news'. If you go to the Newsguard site you will see who all is involved in it. You will see on its Advisory Board a former CIA director and former DHS chief and many others. I am not knocking the idea of ways to counter fake news, rather I only want to make sure that those who are making such determinations don't have their own agenda in doing so, compounding the problem.

This is why I say - be careful out there. The information, disinformation as well as the propaganda, the misdirection, censorship and yes fake news are real and they are everywhere. To these old eyes, it looks like more and more to me like it is modern medicine that is getting the 'Goebbels' treatment. But that is just one bloggers personal opinion. Why do you think there has been such an informational attack on those who question vaccines? It is in the financial interest of some to silence or shut down those who question them or at least the over-use of them and this is exactly the kinds of things we have been seeing for quite some time.

But disinformation and propaganda in science and medicine should scare us all. People don't like to remember, but it was the fake science of Nazi Germany that sent the Jews to the death camps, claiming they were subhuman. It was fake science that put the Aryan man at the top of the evolutionary mountain giving them the 'divine right' to conquer and enslave other races. Fake Science can do enormous harm when it is promulgated as fact and then policies are instituted based upon it. And please do not be fooled - Scientists, big scientific institutions and other in the scientific community - they too can be 'influenced' with money or by people who can get on the board of these scientific institutions who are connected up with those who have an agenda in any scientific results.

Many of those places rely on grants and those grants often come from the very wealthy. Folks, those fancy facilities, all that lab equipment, paying all those scientists - that costs millions Millions. What would you do if a major donor told you all the money will be pulled if certain studies get published that showed something harmful to their economic interests or those of their colleagues? What would a director of such a facility like that do? Or being forced to publish a study at a politically expedient moment that was not fully vetted and proofed? See your facility in receivership in 6 months after you go against your donors wishes?

Look I am fully in favor of science or perhaps better phrased evidence  based solutions in government. But science these days or what calls itself science, in my view too often is being used for propaganda purposes and not for legitimate scientific discovery and purely evidence based information dissemination.

I read a story over at Christiannewswire that talked about an incident that may interest you all. Here is the probably the best summary of the kinds of things that happen to those who are not part of the established system.

I read many stories and see many things on the whole Health Care thing and what I see frightens me. A few weeks ago, Ron Paul did a story about the UK health system and wonders if by setting new policies, some people will be denied care because of their beliefs. This is certainly a trend we are likely to one day see come to pass here in the US, if the ultra liberals ever get sway. Those they deem racist or homophobic or just not politically correct enough to suit their fancy could wind up one day not being able to get care, even if they pay for it in their premiums. This is the problem when you have massive government sponsored things like health care. The politicians get control of it and it becomes less about care and more of a political axe you can swing at your enemies. We saw this with Obamacare with the whole religious exemption thing on abortions. What he did was not needed, but it was a great political axe to swing at Christians and further divide the nation up along partisan lines. 

But this is and will certainly be the end result of any massive 'governmenalization' of American health care. Health care for all? It sounds so good until you look at the numbers. Do that and find out what your paycheck will look like after those proposals. That should cause any sane person to have considerable pause.

There is big money and big politics in all of this. Your health is less and less the issue and getting into your wallet or getting the courts to come after your assets are more and more the real issue.

Getting those big government contracts, passing laws to make you do something and then forcing the people to pay 'the cartel' for 'care' you may or may not receive (because you find out you aren't really insured for your ailment even though you thought you were and certainly paid high premiums like you were). This is the model the profiteers are working from. The New Republic has a piece written a couple of years ago called "How Big Pharma Was Captured By the One Percent". RFK's site Children's Health Defense has a piece on a Harvard Expert who looks at the relationship between the FDA and big Pharma.

Look.... I say these things having no hope that the system will ever change for the better. It won't. The collective voices for change that could do some good if properly informed will be duly manipulated by the 1% and will call for more Government in medicine and by extension (unbeknownst to those voices) more cozy deals that make the Big Medical companies a mint and leave you and me being rolled out of our hospital beds onto the street, while we are still sick, while the lawyers take our homes and seize our bank accounts. That is the trajectory that the American health care system is moving towards.

I say this because I am talking about Washington. Washington runs on money and right now Big Medicine has money, lots of it and they are using that money on Capitol Hill. So I see their agenda as being the one to go forward and that agenda is the further concentration of their power, influence and greater profits for themselves. Who will pay for it will be the people. Either via insurance companies in a private solution or you and me via taxes in a totally governmental solution. In any event, if you think the system as it stands today is going to give anyone health care for nothing, you are sadly mistaken. Medicare for all does not mean Medicare for free. One way or another we will pay for it, the more it costs, the more we will pay, one way or another.

What is the solution? I don't know. but I think that if the government would allow for a way for a totally different way to deliver health care to be established - completely outside of the current system of cartels, health care costs for those people using it could decrease most significantly without their any reduction in care.

If I were in the White House what I would do is this - I would try (very hard) to introduce a new Federal Medical system that will be designed to be self supporting in 10 years. Here is what I would do.

I would create a system of small clinics and roving vans that had experienced PA's and Nurses to do certain day-to-day procedures. They would set broken bones, deal with flu, measles, cuts... the everyday kinds of things people need. They could never charge more than say 300 bucks for procedures and usually between $100-200. They would not ask for insurance cards and they would not be accepted. It would be strictly cash (or credit) and carry. If insurance companies want to reimburse, fine if not well...

Set these up across the nation and specifically in direct competition to the big Medical corporations and insurance conglomerates. At first if the costs of what they are doing is over $300 the Feds will kick in the difference. The key is that you want to create a low cost alternative to 'Big Medicine'. Naturally surgery and other major items will have to go through the health conglomerates. But eventually, you may be able to begin to offer the same thing at significantly reduced prices. Once you have this in place people will use it. Companies who are paying heavy amounts to fund their health care for employee's can begin to use this and bring down their costs. What will that do? It will compel Big Medicine to make major adjustments to their pricing and business models. They may before too long, no longer have the money to spend so much on lobbying... money that comes from ordinary people who often have to pay obscene medical bills.

The idea is that you are never going to get lower costs through Washington or even your State capitals. You are going to have to do it in the market place and make sure that these new Medical teams are fully protected and immunized from lawsuits so that specious and 'lawfare' suits are not brought against them just to shut them down, which is sure to be attempted.

If you did that, our whole landscape would change and costs would slowly come down, premiums would come down and health care would once again be truly affordable. Businesses would also breath a sigh of relief as their costs would begin to tumble on employee care.

It is going to take out of the box solutions like this to get our system fixed.

This would require Congress going against one very powerful lobby on the Hill. A lobby that has considerable power and not just within campaign funding.


I see major issues ahead - we are in for real trouble on the health care front unless cost-effective/inexpensive alternatives are available for ordinary people who work 9-5 but are not making at least say $60k a year. 

The point I want to make here is that the system is broken and is going to get more broken the more money that pours into it from lobbyists.

***

 Is any among you sick?
Let him call for the elders of the church;
and let them pray over him, anointing him
with oil in the name of the Lord: 
and the prayer of faith shall save him that is sick,
and the Lord shall raise him up;
and if he have committed sins,
 it shall be forgiven him.
(James 5:14-15 [ASV])

As a Christian I say this. I think for the most part modern Medicine can be very good. I am not one who believes that we should never go to the doctor. But there are those that do.

My own personal opinion is that I think we Christians should do what we can to rely on God for our health, but not kick at medicine either. They can cure many things. I also think that for many of us. what ails us can often be traced back to our habits - eating, exercise, rest, levels of stress, etc...

My contention with the whole profession these days is how it has been financialized and in some cases, criminalized and Congress has done little to fix things and probably won't as long as those Campaign donations keep rolling in...


So these issues are very important for all of us.

11 Feb



Nehemiah Part L (50)


And it came to pass, when they had heard the law,
that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude.
(Nehemiah 13:3 [ASV])

In the last section we went over how the the Law of Moses was read in the hearing of the people and they discovered that there were certain people that the Lord wanted Israel to be totally separate from. That being the Moabite and the Ammonite. This they had not done because the multitudes were not aware of this part of the law. This brings us to the following verse. When they heard this, unlike their forbears, who rebelled against the Lord and were punished for it, this generation, this heavily chastised generation, obeyed the word of the Lord and did as he commanded. They separated themselves. Did you know that his is one of the prerequisites for holiness for we Christians as well? To be separate from that which God considers profane? Well, let me cite the passage in its context.

 Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers:
for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity?
 or what communion hath light with darkness? 
And what concord hath Christ with Belial?
or what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever?
 And what agreement hath a temple of God with idols?
for we are a temple of the living God; even as God said,
I will dwell in them, and walk in them;
and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 
Wherefore Come ye out from among them,
and be ye separate, saith the Lord,
And touch no unclean thing;
And I will receive you,
(II Corinthians 6:14-17 [ASV])


This is part of the connotation of what holy is, to be separate and consecrated towards God.

Being separate is indeed part of being holy. Now we must not fall into the trap of the Pharisee's and let ourselves get swollen up with spiritual pride/arrogance and 'superiority' with head swelling rituals and man-made commandments so that we forget why we are here, who we are and from whence we were saved. Christians are to be and must remain humble; full of love, compassion and righteousness. No, being separate means for us Christians to not be part of this world and its wickedness.

Yet for the Israelite's of Nehemiah's time, they were clearly ignorant of this charge from the Lord. But now they set about to obey it. Are we Christians today, obeying the voice of our Lord with regards to being separate? I think in many cases the answer is no. The Lord had to rebuke me about getting rid of some unholy relationships in my life and I can tell you he was adamant about it; even more so about ever going back into them. There can be no fellowship with the workers or children of darkness, particularly for those who are called to any kind of ministry. God demands holiness and part of that holiness is being separate. We must be separate and we must not give that which is holy to the dogs, thus showing God great dishonor.

So the foreigners who filled the description were separated from Israel. The word 'mixed multitude' is important here. The word here is this one.

H6154
`ereb ay'-reb or mereb
(1 Kings 10:15), (with the article prefix), {eh'-reb}; from 6148; the web (or transverse threads of cloth); also a mixture, (or mongrel race): --Arabia, mingled people, mixed (multitude), woof.
see HEBREW for 06148

The word has clear connotations of being non-Israelite's. Here is how the K&D commentary looks at this passage.

This law being understood, all strangers were separated from Israel. עֵרֶב is taken from Exo 12:38, where it denotes the mixed multitude of non-Israelitish people who followed the Israelites at their departure from Egypt. The word is here transferred to strangers of different heathen nationalities living among the Israelites. - K&D Commentary
There were earlier calls for this in the book of Nehemiah (chapter 9) and  there may have been some who did not originally comply, there may have been some administrative or legal delay or some new fresh separation may have been necessary.
 
  Now before this, Eliashib the priest,
who was appointed over the chambers
of the house of our God, being allied unto Tobiah, 
had prepared for him a great chamber,
 where aforetime they laid the meal-offerings,
the frankincense, and the vessels,
and the tithes of the grain,
the new wine, and the oil,
which were given by commandment to the Levites,
and the singers, and the porters;
and the heave-offerings for the priests. 
But in all this time I was not at Jerusalem;
for in the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes
 king of Babylon I went unto the king:
and after certain days asked I leave of the king, 
and I came to Jerusalem, and understood
the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah,
in preparing him a chamber in the courts
of the house of God. And it grieved me sore:
therefore I cast forth all the household
 stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber.
(Nehemiah 13:4-8 [ASV])

This passage indicates some of the goings on in Jerusalem that took place during Nehemiah's absence. The long and short are pretty clear. The Priest was in league with Tobiah who was and was allied with foreigners and Nehemiah's enemies. This priest was letting Tobiah who was one of those foreigners the Israelite's were supposed to separate from, a place in the Temple, a place that was to be reserved to those who served the Lord in Holiness (Priests).

As we all know, when the cats away the mice will play. Nehemiah had to leave Jerusalem and go on the Kings business (vs 6) and comes back to find this going on. For some unstated reason he had to go back to the King Xerxes. Nehemiah may still have been the Kings Official cup bearer and there may have been some duties or other tasks that required his attention. Or perhaps he had to report to the King goings on in Jerusalem. He then had to go back to the king and re-request permission to return to Jerusalem... and what does he find? Trouble! We don't know how long he was gone, but it was probably some time.
But probably one of the most appalling things is that this was almost certainly not just some ordinary Priest, but is almost certainly the same Eliashib, who was the High Priest (Neh 13:28). This man knew better and simply was not going to obey the Lord's commandments. This is a pretty serious problem for if the High Priest refuses to obey the Lord he can only guide his sheep into error. Any confusion of the titles here I think is well explained by The Cambridge Bible.
 
Let us keep in mind that these were the chambers that kept all of the holy things that were to be offered up to God. It was supposed to be holy. Nehemiah was not pleased. What was needed was a thorough house cleaning and they were about to get it.

These passages remind me a bit of Christ cleaning out the temple of the money changers. That was the only time the Lord became truly enraged and got physical. This kind of sacrilege (that is what it was) is a serious affront to God and Nehemiah was about to correct it. We will talk about that in the next update, God willing!

6 Feb

Watson's Web is 20 Years Old Today!!

A Look Stateside


I read a story the other day that linked to a most interesting report funded by the US Department of Education. It dealt with the rise in the number of homeless students here in the US. The report is interesting, informative and not too long.

Here are its key findings.
• The number of identified, enrolled students reported as experiencing homelessness at some point during the last three school years increased 15 percent, from 1,307,656 students in SY 2015-16 to 1,508,265 students in SY 2017-18. 

Sixteen states experienced growth in their homeless student populations of 10 percent or more during the three-year period covered in this report. In contrast, only five states saw equally large decreases during the same period. 

• The number of school districts that received subgrants under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (McKinney-Vento Act) saw little change; 4,387 school districts, or just under one-quarter of all districts in the country, received either an award as a single school district or an award as part of a regional consortium during SY 2017-18. 

Funding for the Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program increased by almost $12 million between fiscal years (FYs) 2015 and 2017. 

• States provided an average per pupil amount of $76.50 in McKinney-Vento funding to school districts for the additional supports needed by homeless students in SY 2017-18. Due to increases in the number of students identified as homeless, the average per pupil amount increased less than $3.00 between SYs 2015-16 and 2017-18, despite the increase in funding overall. 

• During SY 2017-18, 74 percent of students experiencing homelessness shared housing with others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason. Twelve percent of homeless students resided in shelters. Seven percent had a primary nighttime residence of hotels or motels, and 7 percent were identified as unsheltered. 

• Over the three-year period, the number of students in unsheltered situations at the time they were first identified increased by 137 percent. Homeless students living in hotels or motels increased by 24 percent while students in doubled-up situations increased by 13 percent. In contrast, the number of students staying in shelters decreased by 2 percent. 

• The change in the unaccompanied homeless youth subgroup was consistent with the growth of the homeless student population overall, with an increase of 16 percent between SYs 2015- 16 and 2017-18. Additionally, unaccompanied homeless youth make up nine percent of the homeless student population. - National Center For Homeless Education

There are more key findings and you can find the report at the Dept. of Education site here. It has maps, charts and graphs and comes to the conclusion that right now there are 1.5 Million homeless students in America.



    Source: National Center For Homeless Education

Homelessness is a major, major issue in this country and it is getting worse. The reasons for it are several. I can name some here though some political motivated people would take exception to some of them. Me? I am not interested in politics but in solutions. I could care less what party a problem solver comes from as long as he solves problems.

Drugs: America is in the midst of a major drug epidemic. Opiods are one key problem, but other drug problems exist as well, Meth and other designer drugs are taking an enormous toll on Americans and their lives and families. People will do many horrible things when hooked on drugs and one thing they will do is not pay the rent. They will use that money to pay for their next high. A drug addict (or alcoholic) usually does not know he has a problem. He often lives in state of denial for years before the reality of their condition begins to dawn on them. When a person has children, they are deeply effected by the choices of their parents and homelessness can be one of the results.
America's economy is shifting and not for the better. Wealth is being concentrated in a smaller and smaller group of people and around certain parts of the country. Key industries that provide the big income jobs tend to concentrate in High Tech, Energy, Entertainment and certain Financial Services (Banking/Wall Street). Here we can look at places like the Bay Area, (silicon Valley); LA, Texas and of course New York City. But these places also tend to have high rates of homelessness because housing prices are driven up to obscene values and puts the ordinary working person out of the competition for housing. This brings us to a key issue - the number of working poor. Those who work hard but still cannot make ends meet because of the high cost of living in many American cities. Many of the working poor have to move in with friends or relatives or wind up living in shelters or even in their cars.
Low income jobs. This is another major problem that has exacerbated America's homeless problem. The Obama and Trump economy may have created jobs, but many of them are low-income. no-benefit kind of jobs. Jobs that don't pay enough for basics - rent- utilities and food and while Obamacare does provide some with health benefits, many still have to come out of an increasingly empty pocket to make those compulsory insurance payments to multi-billions dollar insurance conglomerates who have managed to legislate a way into every single wallet of working Americans. Their profits have soared according to news reports. Do your own search on 'Health Insurers Profits' and see for yourself.

It's no wonder people live on the streets in places like California and have to relieve themselves on the sidewalk. Leaders have legislated money out of the pocket of the working man and regulated employers so hard many are forced to reduce hours or fire people just to comply with new regulatory frameworks or to keep from going into the red and so they can meet their payroll obligations. Many people have the wrong impression - that all business can afford to take on those extra regulatory requirements. It just is not so. Many are just getting by month to month. If you think I am off my nut - go and look at the brick and mortar meltdown in America today. Regulating a company to pay more when they can't afford it will just mean that they will lay off people or go out of business. It's not the way to create jobs or get people off the street. On the street, yes. Off if it, no.

I think these sum up some of the major reasons why there is such an epidemic of homelessness - Drugs - wealth disparity, low income jobs and over-regulation.

But who suffers? These questions may seem academic and perhaps even a bit partisan (I am a firm political independent, meaning I support neither of the two major parties). But they get to the heart of the matter. I will tell you who suffers. In many instances, its the kids. It's the kids who have to deal with the problems of homelessness or the problems with a mother who rents our her bed to pay for food or the step-dad who tries to rent out the step daughter in the same manner for drugs.

These some of the harsher realities going on in the country today. They exist. We can turn our heads and pretend they don't but they are real and getting worse, not better.

But America's problems go far beyond homelessness. There is something much deeper happening to the nation. As I watch the trends in Sexual licentiousness, perversions and sex crimes in the country one cannot help but see the same trends that destroyed so many societies in the past. When empires are new, hard work, morality, a sense of fair play and a strong social order are evident. As empires age and grow, perversions, murder, theft, sloth and the obsession with pleasure become evident. No one wants to do anything for the country. They want the country to do something for them - the nation 'owes them', and not vice versa, they believe. A mentality of entitlement takes hold. In Ancient Rome it was evident when many of the nobles would refuse military service when called. Some would cut off their thumb in order to evade it. People were that contemptuous of their own country and its needs.

We see the same things today. We don't have a draft today for that very reason. It would tear the nation apart. What about calls for National Service? They are met with loud shrieks of indignation particularly by younger Americans who think the world 'owes them' a McMansion and a brand new BMW.... without the need to sweat and serve for it.

The nation is changing and that change is in perfect keeping with all empires that are fading. They are destroyed from within long before they are from without. Once the rot sets into the superstructure of the state, it only takes the kick of a small child to cause the whole thing to come tumbling down. That is where America is rapidly heading.

4 Feb

Nehemiah Part XLVIX

Yes dear readers, we are slowly coming to the end of this most interesting book.

For in the days of David and Asaph of old
there was a chief of the singers,
and songs of praise and thanksgiving
unto God.
(Nehemiah 12:46 [ASV])
Again we see what Nehemiah was doing. He was going back to the days of old and getting back to the basics. Not just the basics of everyday living right in the sight of God, but also the basics of worship. This passage is fairly self explanatory, however their is one minor glitch in the text or rather, how it is rendered. The mention of David and Aspah together in the manner in the text has led to some confusion. This is a small controversy and perhaps does not bear any comment, but today, I will.

The way the scribe wrote the two names down has indeed caused some confusion. For the most part, the controversy is a small one (the Cambridge Bible Commentary's entry on it can be found here - vs 46). But it bears note only insofar as the fact that Nehemiah (or the scribe who penned it), was far less concerned with the linguistic perfection of his text as he was about calling to remembrance what two men of God from the past had done with regards to the singers of the Temple (see 2Ch 29:30 and 2Ch 35:15).

The key here is that Nehemiah was not going to repeat the mistakes of the past, he was going to the past to see what was done right and repeat that instead. Nehemiah was going to make sure that those who sang in the temple were doing it according to the ways that pleased the Lord.

Finally, this textual problem along with the fact that Nehemiah is mentioned in the third person in the following verse has led some to believe that some of this book was written by a later chronicler.

And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel,
and in the days of Nehemiah, gave the
portions of the singers and the porters,
as every day required: and they set
apart that which was for the Levites;
and the Levites set apart that which
was for the sons of Aaron.
 (Nehemiah 12:47 [ASV])

Here we see how this dedication to the Lord that was begun in the days of Nehemiah, was not just a one time thing. It continued all the days of both men. We talked a bit about Zerubabblel when we went over the book of Zechariah, a few of years ago. He is a very important person for this period as he erected the altar and and laid the foundation of the Temple soon after he and his band returned from exile (see Ezra 3:8).

The key in this passage is pretty plain. The singers and the porters were of great importance to Nehemiah and he continually makes mention of them. The people as well were in unison in this thing. They purified (sanctified) things for the Priests.

This all goes back to the law (See Numbers 18:25-28).
On that day they read in the book of Moses
in the audience of the people;
and therein was found written,
that the Ammonite and the Moabite should
not come into the congregation of God for ever;
Because they met not the
children of Israel with bread and with water,
but hired Balaam against them,
that he should curse them:
howbeit our God turned the
curse into a blessing.
(Neh 13:1-2)

Chapter 13 begins with the public reading of the law in the hearing of the people. This was probably something that had not been done for many long years, even excluding the period of the exile. Now they heard the law in public and realized that they had to separate themselves from those who were Ammonite's and Moabites. This was a commandment that was to be forever. This is a harsh punishment, but as we look at the passage and also the history of both groups, we understand that they were enemies of God and his people. This divine prohibition is found in the book of Deuteronomy (23:3ff) and is carried forward here. This passage is important in the underlying political drama because if we remember, Tobiah, who had opposed Nehemiah, was an Ammonite (Neh 4:3).
From the very beginning of Israel's trek to the promised land, these two tribes opposed Israel. Even right up to the (then) present, they opposed them. Casting them out would be a big help to Israel and prevent a lot of unnecessary heartache, trouble and woe.

When God tells us to separate from the wicked, even if we don't fully understand why, we would be wise to obey. This has been my experience. A few years ago, the Lord gave me a vision of people that I knew and trusted. He put them into this big iron 'box' and padlocked it just before I went into follow after them. Then he pointed me down a path, a rather lonely one, but not too difficult and told me to never, EVER go back. I was to under no circumstances follow them into that box. He was direct and no non-sense. He had a path for me and I was to walk on it. If I went back he did not say what would happen, but what ever it was, I did not even want to know. Sometime later you know what he showed me? He showed me what that big iron box was. It was like a giant dumpster and he was going to roll it down into like a huge ravine where other garbage was. I got the impression that anyone who got too close to such people would wind up trapped in that dumpster (sin, evil and rebellion) as well.

I admit both of those visions rather unnerved me. But in it I saw the hand of the Lord protecting me and keeping me from the serious harm that would come to me as a result of those associations. This is a lesson to all of us. When God tells us to separate, we must separate. In short I say this as much to myself as I do to all who read this - remove ungodly associations from your list of friends and confidants. It may not always make sense in the natural realm but God sees, knows and understands all - we must 'trust and obey'. As the scriptures say, "be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers..." (2Cor 6:14), let those who are wise among you discern what this means and blessed be the man who acts according to the wisdom that God has given him or her.

30 Jan

Humanitarian Watch

Today, lets look at the world with an eye towards humanitarian issues and leave the virus, impeachment, Kobe Bryant and other issues the world is focused on to others.

Let's start with Yemen. That war has been going on for years and looks to continue for many more. Little real progress has been made towards peace. It is not clear that peace is at all desirable by the parties involved. There are talks, but they don't last long.
The swing from stalemate and de-escalation to shooting war was sudden. On 18 January, after a month that UN Envoy Martin Griffiths described as one of the conflict’s quietest periods, the government alleges that the Huthis launched missiles at one of its military camps in Marib governorate (the Huthis refuse to confirm responsibility).

The strike reportedly killed more than 100 soldiers in one of the war’s deadliest single incidents to date. It came amid intensified combat along previously stalemated front lines in al-Jawf, Nihm and Marib between allies of the Huthis, on one side, and of the government, on the other.

These battles became still fiercer after the strike, with both sides suffering heavy losses. The Huthis have since fired several more missiles at military facilities in Marib. Saudi Arabia, in turn, has ramped up its air campaign, launching dozens of raids... - Continues at
International Crisis Group (copyright info)
There is enormous suffering and deep concern that the nation will once again fall into famine. Millions of Yemeni kids are in danger of it and are now malnourished.

You can find a map of the situation at the FEWS site.
As noted in the FEWS report, about 17 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian care.
...the majority of Yemenis are unable to meet their food and essential non-food needs. It is expected that many households in worst-affected areas face large consumption gaps, and malnutrition remain a serious concern in many areas. Hajjah and Sa’dah continue to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. In the rest of the country, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are widespread, with worse outcomes likely in areas where conflict frequently restricts humanitarian access, such as parts of southern Al Hudaydah. - Famine Early Warning System
The good news is that aid is heading to the country. The World Food Program appears to be the main driver. It all seems pretty chaotic and how the World Food Program is able to operate in such an environment is frankly beyond me. According to news reports, one of the warehouses that held some of its aid was just looted in an area that was Houthi controlled. Thousands of tons of aid were reportedly stolen.

...and that is just Yemen.

Then there are the problems in the Sahel. Violence has seen a major uptick and children seem to be taking the brunt of much of it. Key conflicts in this part of the world include the ones in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger leaving millions of children in need of assistance. Needless to say, the Islamic State and Al Qaeda are deeply involved in the violence. VOA has some good stories on the problem.
The problems in this part of the world are several and talked about here before. But drought, poor governance, terrorism and economic problems seem to be about a good a way of explaining the causes as any. When there is such turmoil, bad actors usually find a way 'in' to exploit the situation. You can find an interesting advocacy brief (by UNICEF as well as lots of other very important stories at the ReliefWeb site.

But many of you may not be aware of the situation in Madagascar, which has been hit by flooding. Dozens have been killed and thousands have been affected.

Zambia as well has been hit by severe flooding. Some of these regions effected are already food insecure.

Then there is the conflict in Myanmar, which has not got much coverage on this site, but a brief piece on the problems can be found here. There are thousands who have been displaced by virtue of the conflicts that are now going on inside the country.

Then there are the swarms of Desert Locusts that are hitting East Africa (Somalia/Ethiopia). They destroy crops and devastate agriculture. There are many stories on this in the MSM and a news search on Locusts and Africa over the past couple of weeks will yield up many excellent results.

Of Course there is the Coronovirus. A great map of the effected area's can be found here
(copyright info here).

Despite the 'cold hearted' image people have of Trump, he has allocated $2.2 Billion for the Homeless.

WASHINGTON - U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson today announced nearly $2.2 billion in grants to support thousands of local homeless assistance programs across the nation. HUD's Continuum of Care grants will provide critically needed support to approximately 6,593 local programs on the front lines, serving individuals and families experiencing homelessness. This is the first of two announcements of Continuum of Care awards. View a complete list of all the state and local homeless projects awarded funding. - HUD


Lots of big issues on the humanitarian front.

Time would fail me to talk about the hundreds of thousands in need of shelter after the volcanic eruption in the Philippines or those who are suffering after the quake in Turkey and other people on earth who are facing major humanitarian issues.

A lot of people are in need brothers and sisters, let us pray accordingly!!


28 Jan

Nehemiah XLVIII

We have been on Nehemiah for some time now and I am glad we have been. I know some of you may not appreciate this long a series, but my view is that the character, hard work, opposition to his work and Nehemiah's faithfulness to God is a testament to all of us today. One of the biggest problems I see in people today is a lack of character and stubborn tenacity in doing their work, God given or not.

With too many people, they lie, cheat, steal and kill. Pastors lives often do not reflect the gospel and Christians who bring great harm to the gospel of Christ by their behavior. These are all matters of character. Character is always key and Nehemiah displayed it. Going over this book after many, many long years has given me a new appreciation for Nehemiah and true men of God who do the Lord's work and I hope that this is the case for each of you as well.


 and Maaseiah, and Shemaiah, and Eleazar,
and Uzzi, and Jehohanan, and Malchijah,
and Elam, and Ezer. And the singers sang loud,
with Jezrahiah their overseer.  And they offered
great sacrifices that day, and rejoiced;
for God had made them rejoice with great joy;
and the women also and the children rejoiced:
so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard
even afar off.
(Nehemiah 12:42-43 [ASV])

Here we see that there were singers who sang and did so loudly before the Lord in order to give thanks. I think we often don't give godly musicians enough real credit. I confess, I don't always. But clearly in passages like this we see that God is greatly honored by those who sing to him. Again, note the world loudly. The were not mumbling or singing softly, they were outside, this was a celebration and they were going to sing and I get the impression that they were going to do it as loud as they could!

This was key for them now, to celebrate what the Lord had done by keeping his promise to them and bringing them back to their homeland after seven decades of exile. Not only was their singing, but the people offered sacrifices. Actually the passage says GREAT sacrifices. This was a great day of rejoicing. Now this wasn't a party as we know it, but a joyful religious celebration. I note in verse 43 that it says that God made them to rejoice. Why? He was faithful to them even after their sins. While only men are listed in the scriptural record here, verse 43 makes it clear that the women as well were also joining in the singing and praise of God.  Even the kids were involved in the festivities. People could hear the celebration from a long ways off, they were making so much noise! This is one time that the Lord approved of a loud celebration!

 And on that day were men appointed
 over the chambers for the treasures,
for the heave-offerings, for the first-fruits,
and for the tithes, to gather into them,
according to the fields of the cities,
the portions appointed by the law
for the priests and Levites: for Judah rejoiced
for the priests and for the Levites that waited.
 And they kept the charge of their God,
and the charge of the purification,
and so did the singers and the porters,
 according to the commandment of David,
and of Solomon his son.
(Nehemiah 12:44-45 [ASV])


Verse 44 tells us of the those who were appointed over the treasures. The word may be better understood as storehouses.
The idea is that all of the tithes and offerings that people made had to be stored, overseen and protected. As we see in the passage people from all around gave to the Temple according to the Mosaic law. Judah rejoiced over the priests who were in service to the Lord. Interestingly the Tribe of Benjamin was not mentioned here. This is probably an oversight as Benjamin was probably in on the festivities. Nehemiah specifically lists the singers and porters who served God faithfully as being the object of Judah's happiness.  These men were actually custodians of the treasure that came into the Temple and their job was also to make sure that it was distributed properly.

I think it important that we keep something in mind. Today, we think of Pastors as the only one who has a calling on their life to serve God. That is not true. God called those men to sing and as porters; but also as storehouse 'accountants' and nightwatchmen. These are not particularly glamorous jobs. But they are very important, both to the ministry and to God.

When we watch a movie, we see the actors and the stars. We don't see the cameraman, the director, the dialog coach or the set decorator, we don't see the grip, the makeup artist or the costume director. But what film would be watchable without these unseen people? The same can be said of ministry. A pastor may get the spotlight, but he is just one piece of a much large body of people who serve the Lord. Here in Nehemiah, we see that these men who served God had important jobs and Nehemiah, who was no stranger to rolling up his sleeves and breaking a sweat building a wall, understood and honored their hard, often thankless work.

Even the door keepers were honored. That is one of the lowest jobs there is in the eyes of the world. But in God's eyes, he is looking at the faithfulness of the lowly. Christ told us that there would be those who are last that will be first and vice versa. Anyone who wants to be truly honored by God must be faithful in his calling, low or high. If it is a singer in choir or a preaching a sermon; translating the Bible into other languages or being the church accountant, or just being a door keeper. Know this - GOD IS WATCHING, to see if you are indeed faithful to your calling or if you become slack, lackadaisical or otherwise unfaithful to what it is he has called you to do.

These men were worthy and had a God given charge. Nehemiah made sure they had the proper place to serve the Lord. How did he do this? Well, you can take a look at how the Meyer Commentary puts this.

What Nehemiah's' work was, was a sea change in attitude the people had from the days before he arrived (the days of Tobiah). God's servant was going to get the people back to their proper worship and rebuild that wall. Having Tobiah in charge of things was not a good idea. When men who are not anointed by God take charge, there may be an outward building and administration, but God is not in it until it is holy and dedicated to him. This is the problem I see in many major denominations and not just parts of Catholicism. Ungodly men rise to key positions of prominence and live high on the hog and/or preach false doctrines. The sheep become dismayed, confused and their faith is shaken. This is what happens when the devil's ministers get in charge of the Church. This has been the primary problem with Christianity today.

Nehemiah knew that in order to do God's work you need God's anointed people to do it. From the greatest to the smallest, those whom God has chosen, rather than the world, secret societies or the devil chooses is key to having a successful ministry and true Godly spiritual impact.

If American Christianity is to have any kind of revival, we need to get rid of the modern day 'Tobiah's' and let God send us a Nehemiah who will rebuild the Church above the foundation (which is Jesus Christ) upwards to make it acceptable not to the Deep State, the Freemasons or other secretive organizations, but to God. This is going to take a housecleaning. A major, major housecleaning of just about every major denomination. This is not going to be easy. The powerful forces have ways of making sure that those whom they 'own' stay their 'property'. Moreover many will not want to part with the perks their secret associations give them.

I think to a small degree we have seen a bit of this with some schisms that have taken place. This has happened with some denominations over homosexuality. But the root of the disease in modern western Christendom goes far, far deeper than that and it may take that administrative 'amputation' of parts of the body (a schism) to make what is left acceptable to God. But the modern day Tobiah's need to be removed from Church leadership.

One other thing of note here that needs to be said. Nehemiah started having all manner of political difficulty when he started to move against the politically connected and powerful Tobiah faction and do the will of God. Those who want to do right by he Lord and keep the holy commandments outlined clearly in the scriptures will just have to get ready for that kind of opposition when you start to really serve God. It goes with the territory. Look at David. His life was turned upside down after he was anointed King by Samuel. One would think that he would be riding on a white horse with cheering crowds a day or two after he was anointed. No! Saul tried to kill him, he had to flee the country dwell among foreigners, feign madness and live like a vagabond for a long time. It was his FAITH and faithfulness to God that brought him the promise that God made to him. He did not fail God and God did not fail him.

When God gives you a promise like David or a job like Nehemiah, know that you will find enemies you never thought you had as you do the things that God has called you to do. But if you remain faithful, God will keep his promise - witness the great joy in the culmination of the work of Nehemiah.

We will continue Nehemiah next week, God willing!!
23 Jan

Trends

War On The Saints
But today, lets get away from all of this and look at how things are for the saints. Things are not going so good at all. Since the start of the year there have been some tragic developments. First of all there were mass beheadings in Nigeria. It was a bridal party that was beheaded in Nigeria's Borno State. It took place on Christmas day. There are many stories about the web on it, Gatestone as well as a host of Catholic news sites talks about it.

In China well, here is the latest from Persecution.org that talks about the new 'administrative measures' that the Communist Party is now imposing on the Church. Xi is clearly meaning to get complete control of the Churches. It's not so easy though because China is still somewhat administratively fractured and not everyone does what they are told. The sad thing is that when it comes to religion, local leaders seem to be doing more than required to fall in line with the party. As you all have probably heard, a Christian leader, Wang Yi who was critical of the Communist Party just got nine years in jail. The harshness of the sentence is probably meant as a signal as to China's next moves on religion.

As we look at events in China, keep this in mind. The 'great firewall of China' is meant as much to keep information from getting out of China as it is for keeping information out. We are not hearing about a great deal of the persecution over there because of the censorship, which is very pervasive. A good article on how China's 'rulebook' on dealing with religious minorities can be found at The Epoch Times' site in a piece written on the 3rd of January by Eva Fu. It outlines how China went after the Falun Gong and the methods used back then. Surveillance is one key tool they use. Morning Star News has a piece here written last month on a few events in China.

In Egypt, the houses of Coptic Christians were set on fire. reportedly because they wanted to pray just before Christmas as it is celebrated by others. The Coptics celebrate it this year on the 7th of January. Christians were arrested in India for reading the scriptures near a Hindu Temple. Brothers, time would fail me to show you how hard it is to be a Christian today in so many places in our world.
Prophetic and Political Trends

So now, let's take a look at a few things prophetically going forward. I say these things not as a prophet, but as a STUDENT of bible prophecy. So this is not 'thus saith the Lord', but rather, 'what I see ahead', emphasis on the pronoun 'I'.
I see many of the trends have have already been witnessing increasing. I see the kingdoms of the eastern alliance (SCO/BRICS, etc) as continuing their rise in geopolitical and economic power and running counter to US interests more and more. This is a subject I dealt with in my Spiritual Stronghold series (for insiders). I see these nations as becoming increasingly hostile to Christians. This will be under the guise of controlling religion or as the Chinese put it 'extremism' or 'superstition'. This will be the slow moving approach. Move to each successive level of persecution by allowing the former level to become accepted and any problems in implementation to be ironed out before going to the next level.

So this will be step by step, little by little. Keep in mind that in essence, what we have in places like China and India are different forms of extremism now in power in these nations. In China it is extremist Socialism/communism/atheism whereas in India it is extremist Hinduism. Extremism of these forms now calls anyone who disagrees with it's peculiar form of extremism as 'extremism' and uses the power of the state imprison or persecute (or allow to be persecuted) those who disagree with the new 'state religion'. This is one reason why Persecution is rising. These new rising powers are under the control of the prince of darkness and we Christians must never lose sight of this fact. Nor that he will gain even more power as the days pass, nor that these powers play a key role in the last days.
Let us keep in mind that in those last days, that 42 month system may at first be marked by a kind of 'peace' (1Thes 5:3) but that at the end, these nations will turn on each other and a great war will one day ensure. War and the last days.... the two cannot be separated, though the greatest part of the final war will be when the kingdoms of this earth attempt to fight against Christ when he comes in the clouds (Rev of John 1:7). My own view of some of the strange things that are happening is that our leaders, those under the influence of the prince of darkness are looking to protect the planet, not from asteroids but from something that their master has told them is coming, the return of Jesus Christ and that they should fight him when he arrives. However the scriptures do predict what appears to be an asteroid hitting the earth (Rev 8:10-11) This is one reason why I think there has been such an emphasis on Space and militarizing it. No, this is probably not be the primary reason, but yes, I do think it is one of those reasons that has the devil and his imps and those who serve him with glee, shaking in their boots. They know something is coming and they want to prepare for it.

These shall war against the Lamb,
and the Lamb shall overcome them,
for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings;
 and they also shall overcome that are with him,
called and chosen and faithful.
(Rev 17:14 ASV)

The devil and his fallen angelic host know these things. It's not a theory to them. They have been to heaven, seen and stood before God's throne. Remember that there will be a war in the heavens (Rev 12:7).

So keep your eyes on the militarization of outerspace by all the major powers. It's not an issue that people are talking much about, but what goes in on outerspace are things that are kept secret from all of us. We just don't know what is going on up there, all that information is highly classified, though some of it may come out in the open before too long.
But one trend I see as going to have tremendous impact on our world over the next decade and longer is rising populations, migration, mass discontent and increasing need for government surveillance and yes, repression. This will be all over the world, not just in the East. The concentration of wealth by the so called 1%, the increasing lack of jobs that can provide a livable wage, particularly to young people, poor economic and fiscal policies by leaders coupled with other issues will make the next couple of decades a tinderbox of social and political discontent. Keep this in mind as well, - for better or worse, these issues were some of the reasons that Trump is in the White House. Many Americans felt left out of prosperity and saw their incomes and lifestyle severely reduced under Obama.

You did not hear about it in the MSM during his tenure in office as they were focusing on Abortion, Gay Rights, Obamacare and other issues. But millions of middle Americans got fed up with all of that and changed the political landscape. Discontent got Trump in the White House and it got Boris Johnson a super majority in the UK Parliament. Understand, I am neither praising nor condemning either, nor am I saying they have the answers, my point is very different. The discontent is very real and will only worsen as populations rise, wealth continues to be unevenly distributed and the ordinary Joe feels like the government (left or right) is not listening to him or cares about his plight. So I see the problems getting worse in our world, not better.

One big problem I see here in this country is one of perception created by much of our media. You never knew there was enough discontent in the country out there to elect a guy like Donald Trump.... until the actual votes were actually counted. They had created a kind of alternate reality that told us one thing, when in fact something else of great significance was going on. They are still trying it -  calling all who voted for Trump 'racist' or 'homophobe'. Using these kinds of labels is a key propaganda technique.

The realty for many in America? The Left's pushing hard on gay rights didn't keep Joe Sixpac in his job, it didn't keep his house from being foreclosed upon and his health insurance premiums from going up while his coverage went down - all under the last President. Does the left want to hear this? Nope. So I look for President Trump to remain for the next four years. Rather than recognizing their mistakes, they are throwing stones at the President... while living in glass houses.

Propaganda? The people who are addicted to using it, often become the worst victims of their own propaganda. It's why I think it likely that Trump will be in the White house until January of 2025. The left does not have a real solution to the problems of the working Joe; they 'free traded' lots of jobs out of the country. However the left does have a great spin, PR and propaganda machine. The Left if it wants to be successful again, has to go back to what the party was decades ago. A party that looked out for the working man instead of catering to personal sexual preferences, questionable (but exceptionally well financed) environmental theories that are sure to put more folks out of work and the irresponsible expansion of social programs anyone with a ounce of sense can see will bankrupt the nation.

I will say a word about this impeachment here that I think should be said. If you want to see the worst case scenario for the Democratic party a good parallel exists in the Labor party in the UK. They obstructed, played every dirty trick in the book to go against the clear will of the British people. Even those who were not wild about Brexit were not happy with what the party was doing. The result? The Conservatives got a super majority that had not been seen since the '70's. Don't be fooled by polls and news stories that are telling the political left just what they want to hear. They did that in 2016 when they said Hillary was a 'shoe in' and got Donald Trump instead. Many have yet to recover from that shock.

The key for Christians I think is this - what is happening politically is important, not so much on the partisan front, but because of the  deeper issues the western world is facing. High Tech, total surveillance, the environment, mass migration, mass discontent, homelessness, trade, jobs, wealth disparity... our world is in flux and so are our political systems. We should pray accordingly - not for or against parties or candidates but for the issues that are real to us and our respective nations. Partisanship... at least the hyper-partisanship variety we are now witnessing is designed to make sure nothing gets solved but that all sides remain in a total state of agitation, anger and frustration while the same old policies and mistakes; scams and crimes go on unpunished and uncorrected.

Until the country and its people can stop for a minute and listen really listen to the other side with an eye to understanding rather than reacting and start putting people in office whose policies and proposals make sense - real sense and fiscal sense. things will only get worse.. much much worse. Anger and hate are not solutions.


***
In closing today, this is the site's 20th year. Yes, it was actually started on February 6th 2000. Where were you back then? I have been doing this site! So I want to thank all of you who have hung in there through the ups and downs given me space and understand that I am fully human and that there is only one person doing all the work here and being human, mistakes do happen!

But let me take the time out now to thank ALL OF YOU for your kindness prayers and faithfulness to this ministry. May God bless and keep you all who showed kindness here.

Know this as well, this site will be here as long as God wants it here and he right now, wants it here and I think this will be the case for the foreseeable. 

So let us all keep the issues that effect the kingdom, our brothers in Christ and each other in our fervent prayers; stand firm in Christ, be thankful and keep our eyes on the author and finisher of our faith, even Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Grace and peace to you all,

Brother Mark

6 Jan 2020

21 Jan

Nehemiah XLVII

 And the priests and the Levites purified themselves;
and they purified the people, and the gates, and the wall. 
Then I brought up the princes of Judah upon the wall,
and appointed two great companies
that gave thanks and went in procession;
whereof one went on the right hand
upon the wall toward the dung gate:
(Nehemiah 12:30-31 [ASV])

After all the priests and Levites were gathered into the city, the priests had to purify themselves. This whole ritual of purification was in the law. In the book of Numbers we see how this was done. The whole passage in Numbers chapter eight is too long to post here, but for those of you curious, you can find the passages here (Numbers 8:5ff).

They key here to understand is that they were going to undergo purification to make themselves acceptable to God and his service. Since they were in the midst of re-dedication of the walls (and by extension the Temple) to God, the Priests needed to be purified from their sins, which were many, of the past. The leaders wanted to do this whole thing right. They may have gone back to their history and saw how Hezekiah did it.


He in the first year of his reign, in the first month,
opened the doors of the house of Jehovah,
and repaired them.  And he brought in the priests
and the Levites, and gathered them together
into the broad place on the east, 
and said unto them, Hear me, ye Levites;
now sanctify yourselves, and sanctify
the house of Jehovah, the God of your fathers,
and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place.
 For our fathers have trespassed,
and done that which was evil in the
sight of Jehovah our God, and have forsaken him,
and have turned away their faces from
the habitation of Jehovah, and turned their backs. 
Also they have shut up the doors of the porch,
and put out the lamps, and have not burned
incense nor offered burnt-offerings in the
holy place unto the God of Israel. 
Wherefore the wrath of Jehovah was upon
Judah and Jerusalem, and he hath delivered
them to be tossed to and fro,
to be an astonishment, and a hissing,
as ye see with your eyes.  For, lo, our fathers
have fallen by the sword, and our sons and
our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this. 
Now it is in my heart to make a covenant
with Jehovah, the God of Israel,
that his fierce anger may turn away from us. 
My sons, be not now negligent; f
or Jehovah hath chosen you to stand before him,
to minister unto him, and that ye should
be his ministers, and burn incense.
(II Chronicles 29:3-11 [ASV])


So what they are doing is not that dissimilar to what Hezekiah did back in his day, when the Priests were not doing their job. The passage above shows the general state of disrepair of the temple and the unwillingness of the Priests do do their calling in those days. The situation here was a bit different in that they had really felt the rod of the Lord and that rod put them in off the land and forced to serve the king of Babylon. Now, they were going to do pretty much what Hezekiah did back in his day. But before acceptable worship could take place the Priests had to be purified.

Nehemiah, then goes on to appoint two groups of people who were to stand on the wall and give thanks to God. 

Below find a map from Nehemiah's time that you all may find of use.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
From the Student's Old Testament (1905)

Then he lists those who were set upon it on this sides to give thanks. This is the key - the people were repenting of their sins, the Priests were purifying themselves and the following prominent men, were going to stand on the wall and give thanks to the Lord.

Now another class of Israelite, the princes of the Tribe of Judah these were the ones who would stand on the gate and give thanks. This was not just the priests.








 and after them went Hoshaiah, and half of the princes of Judah, and Azariah, Ezra, and Meshullam, Judah, and Benjamin, and Shemaiah, and Jeremiah, and certain of the priests’ sons with trumpets: Zechariah the son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micaiah, the son of Zaccur, the son of Asaph;  and his brethren, Shemaiah, and Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, and Judah, Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God;
and Ezra the scribe was before them.
(Nehemiah 12:32-36 [ASV])



As we can see, this is like some kind of procession where there was probably the fanfare of trumpets to announce the occasion. It was the son's of the priests who were doing the trumpet playing and according to K&D, Zechariah was the head of the Levitical musicians. Ezra is mentioned among the nobles.


Then there is the other company that did pretty much the same thing on the other part of the wall.

And the other company of them that gave
 thanks went to meet them, and I after them,
with the half of the people, upon the wall,
 above the tower of the furnaces, even
unto the broad wall, and above the
gate of Ephraim, and by the old gate,
and by the fish gate, and the tower of
Hananel, and the tower of Hammeah,
even unto the sheep gate: and they stood
still in the gate of the guard. 
So stood the two companies of
them that gave thanks in the house of God,
and I, and the half of the rulers with me;
 and the priests, Eliakim, Maaseiah,
 Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah,
and Hananiah, with trumpets;
(Nehemiah 12:38-41 [ASV])


The locations of these places have long been talked about and disputed. But the above map gives probably as good a reference as any.

The key here is that these two companies of returning exiles and their leaders all had a celebration and procession to celebrate God's remembrance of them and to give thanks to God. Nehemiah and all the rulers were present at this religious occasion.

Brothers, I think it important that the Church today remember this if nothing else from this passage That it took a severe and most painful chastisement of God upon his people to get them to come correct and to get back to the basics of the faith. Many long years had passed since the desolation of Jerusalem and then the exile. God for years pleaded with his people and used the prophets to warn them. They would have none of it. Now after decades of pain and suffering, humiliation and defeat, they finally got the right attitude.

The 'Divine school of attitude adjustment' is often most effective, though hardly the least painful way of learning an important lesson he wants to impart to us.

We will continue the our Study In Nehemiah, next week, God willing!

Brother Mark

16 Jan


Three Christian Teachers Murdered In Kenya

The ICC reports on what looks to be another Islamic Military attack (al Shabbab) on Christians.

Today’s attack comes against the backdrop of a series of attacks from the terrorist group in the last five weeks, leading to the loss of 25 people total in Wajir, Lamu, Mandera, and Garissa. On December 6, 2019, four teachers were among the 11 non-local Christian passengers killed en route to Mandera from Nairobi when al-Shabaab flagged down the bus they were traveling in. The militants separated the passengers and killed those on the spot who failed to recite the Islamic Shahada. - Continues at the ICC

Fulani Herdsman Kill 13 Christians


There has been so much going on in the Sahel.
JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed 13 Christians in Plateau state, Nigeria on Wednesday (Jan. 8), the same day four students were kidnapped from a Catholic seminary in Kaduna state.

About 20 herdsmen attacked the predominantly Christian village of Kulben, in Plateau state’s Mangu County, at about 8 p.m., area residents told Morning Star News. The 13 dead were all members of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN), as were three people wounded in the assault, they said.

“They were shooting with guns in all directions, forcing the villagers to scamper into surrounding bushes,” area resident Michael Mutding, 40, told Morning Star News in a text message. “Corpses of those killed have been evacuated by soldiers and police to the mortuary of Mangu Cottage Hospital; and all the victims are members of COCIN.” - Continues at Morning Star News

Boko Haram Kidnaps Pastor


JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A leader of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) pleaded for help on a video released on Sunday (Jan. 5) after Islamic extremists with Boko Haram kidnapped him last week.
The Rev. Lawan Andimi was abducted by terrorists of the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP, known as Boko Haram before affiliating with the Islamic State) on Thursday (Jan. 2) in attacks on Michika County and a nearby area in northeast Nigeria’s Adamawa state, sources said. - Continues at Morning Star News

***
The Federalist looks at the uptick in Xi's China called, "Xi’s China Ends 2019 With The Worst Religious Persecution In The Country’s History" that is worthy of your attention.

Also of note is the latest monthly newsletter from the ICC called HotSpots! Church Under Attack. Sign up for their newsletter to get it.

Brothers, let us continue to lift up our brothers and sisters who are under the gun. They need and deserve our prayers!

The Church In America

And the Church here? It's a mess. Yes, there are many fine Christians out there and many decent pastors and Christian leaders. But there are also many who are fakes - Judas' in the pulpit and crooks in pastoral robes. They have turned many away from hearing the truth. But one of the bigger and I think undefined problems in American Christianity is something I touched on recently. That problem being the adoration of Christian celebrities - or rather idols. It's great to see many top stars and famous people get religion (if it is genuine) and begin to bear witness to Christ and the gospel of love and faith. But the big problem I see is that every little statement these new believers (who are spiritual infants) makes is carried far and wide in Christian media and often what they are saying sounds good to the flesh and pop culture, but is not based on scriptures.

We have developed this Christian counter culture that like the world, puts far too much stock in the rich, famous and beautiful. Today's 'Christians' are looking at the the outer man and not the fruit and maturity of those whom they have come to adore and trust for guidance on social, political and spiritual matters. I personally think this is a big problem with American Christianity, particularly with newer believers who are all hooked into their technology and social networking sites. They are used to getting their 'guidance' from such sources, not some old dude in a pulpit on Sunday morning. So this is where they tend to gravitate in order to get understanding on the issues of today.

It's not a good thing because we may have many young people in Church but they are not being properly brought up spiritually and the result is what we are seeing today, apostasy. Often the kind that has no remedy... forever. This is an issue I see, the Church has gone about the whole process of dealing with new members the wrong way. Christianity is not a social movement, it is not a way to change society, it is the way to salvation in Christ and the only way into the God's kingdom. That we are to forsake this world, its ambitions, lusts, and enticements and turn our hears and lives wholly over to God. Is this being taught today? This is the idea of discipleship and it is just not being taught much in Churches. They are preaching an easy believe-ism in too many instances and this has led to many of the problems we have seen in what calls itself the Church.

The real gospel is simply not being taught, not the whole of it. This is one of the critical issues I think facing American Christianity. It's not gay marriage, it's not about the politics of the day or even the racial and economic divides that separate many so-called Churches from one another. No, it's the lack of sound, Bible based (rather than social media based or whoever pays the Church the most money based) doctrine in American Christendom. People are going to the wrong sources for spiritual guidance. Having forsaken the biblical based Church and God's order as clearly outlined in scriptures, the so called Church has forsaken God's order and substituted it with something that it finds more to its liking.... with a new app with a sexy face on it.  


This is why I have said that there is no spiritual power in much of today's Christianity in the west. In order to get the power of God working in your favor one must line up their lives with the will of God and his will is clearly laid out in scripture. But today, no one really wants to get down the basics of Christianity, the taking up of the cross daily (Luke 9:3), the sacrifices (Matt 16:25), the denial of self (Mark 8:34). These things are hard and for young people, even harder. So often these things are skipped over or not taught at all in order to keep them in Church.

You see, I think American Christianity is in crisis today because much of it really isn't Christianity. It's religion, but it's not what Christ or his apostles taught. They call it Christianity, but it bears little resemblance to the faith that was taught by Christ and his holy apostles.

Now I am loath to criticize people by name like this, but many Catholics are shocked at what is going on in parts of the Vatican. To me, it is shocking what is being passed off to the world as Christianity and it's why so much of the world has little respect for Christianity. Yes, you see, I think the devil has actually subverted large parts of the institutional Church - he's got control of it and he is using it to turn people off 'Christ' by implanting a consistent stream of negative social imagery of the gospel message as well as bad doctrine.

Look, the devil is very good at what he does. We make a fatal mistake when we don't give the devil at least a little bit of his due... he knows how to deceive and he is very, very good at it. It behooves we who know our God not to be ignorant of his devices. Those devices are many and are highly effective against those who do not know them or do not believe they can be successful on them.


I say these things today brothers and sisters and have left off the news just for today because I see Apostasy and a departure from the faith getting worse and not better in 2020 and beyond. I see institutional Christianity going deeper into crisis as more people leave the Church and seek after other religions or just go into atheism. I say these things so that none of you stumble or become shocked at what we are sure to witness in the future, the death of much of the administrative and financial structure that has called itself Christianity in the west.

But I think a vibrant smaller group of real, born again believers will be a powerful witness in those days. Small Churches, home studies, prayer groups will move to fill in the gaps that will be needed in those times. God, I think will give such men and women and yes, even children a double portion of his spirit to carry on the work of the Gospel in those perilous times. I see an underground Church being formed and I see it being necessary as Satan gets more and more control over the government. I see Christians needing to be extra careful in those times.

Yes, I see many things in the future for we believers in Christ who have not forsaken our God nor his commandments, but have held fast to our faith and not denied the name of Christ Jesus.

So let us all consider the things I have said and know that our God told us and warned us what the times would be like just before his arrival, that there would be upheavals and apostasy. We must not be overly concerned about it. These things have to happen first. Like labor before a birth, you don't get the birth without the labor first. So it is for we who live in the last days.

14 Jan

Nehemiah XLVI


 And at the dedication of the wall of
Jerusalem they sought the Levites
out of all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem,
to keep the dedication with gladness,
both with thanksgivings, and with singing,
with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps. 
And the sons of the singers gathered
themselves together, both out of the
plain round about Jerusalem, and from
the villages of the Netophathites; 
also from Beth-gilgal, and out of the
 fields of Geba and Azmaveth:
for the singers had builded them villages
round about Jerusalem.
(Nehemiah 12:27-29 [ASV])

After we get a kind of 'census' as to which prominent Levitical families were in the two major waves of exilic returnee's, the author of the book then talks about the dedication of the wall and with it the city (according to some commentators), which leaders were hoping would again be the center of Jewish life after the captivity. This passage is the logical progression, first Nehemiah lists the priestly families then he talks about the rededication of the wall.
The timing however of this dedication has been a matter of considerable dispute. Some think this took place shortly after the rebuilding of the Temple Walls, others think this took place about 13 years later. The walls were finished on the 25th day of Elul (Neh 6:15). The Book of Maccabees (a valuable historical reference for the period) says that on the 25th of Chislev they celebrated the dedication of the altar (See Apocryphal book 2Mac 1:18).
So we have a date for the ending of the building of the wall and the date for the celebration of altar.
The Cambridge Bible sums it up part of the controversy quite well I won't get into it here but some think that a 12 lapse occurred.
 
I am not sure which is the correct view, but I think a 12 year lapse would probably have been noted somewhere. But the political difficulties with the Persian emperor that such a rededication could have had and the ramifications of it, may indeed have caused such a delay. FYI, The Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge dates this in the year 445BC.

Such dedications are known throughout scripture and were very common in the ancient world.

But enough with scholarly dating and argument!
This is a passage of joy! This was a very happy occasion, The Jewish people were finally regathered in their homeland, they had rebuilt the walls and they were going to celebrate their return and God's remembrance of the covenant he had made with their forefathers. Moreover, we must not forget that this was all done with considerable problems that came as a result of their enemies. But they did it, with God's help they did it and now it was time to celebrate and give thanks. The passage in verse 27 specifically mentions that this celebration was kept with
Gladness
Singing
Thanksgiving
Music with Instruments
While the passage merely speaks of the dedication of the wall, Some older commentators (Matthew Henry) see this as more being a rededication of the entire city to God and not just the wall. This rededication, therefore was to place the whole city under divine protection.

A Song of Ascents; of Solomon.
Except Jehovah build the house,
They labor in vain that build it:
Except Jehovah keep the city,
The watchman waketh
but in vain.
(Psalms 127:1 [ASV])



This being the case we understand why there was such joy.

The passage shows that people came from round about and flowed in to enjoy the celebrations. The villages of Netophathi is apparently a place where Levites had traditionally dwelt (Chr 9:14-16). Gilgal is a well known city that was associated with Israel's history since the time of Joshua.  The KJV translates it 'house of Gilgal' but it may be more correctly translated 'Beth-Gilgal'. Geba and Azmaveth both appear to be cities that were associated with the tribe of Benjamin. These singers moved into the area around Jerusalem apparently to be more readily available for Temple Services. The idea of a village does imply a fixed dwelling and not something temporary. So it looks like they were moving into the area and it was not just for this particular event.

We will continue the commentary in Nehemiah soon God willing!

Brother Mark

10 Jan

Keeping Faith In Troubled Times

Today, lets look at some news items of importance while I was on my hiatus.

As you all probably know there are some devastating fires now underway in Australia. Bush fires like this Down Under are very common, but these are much worse than normal. Excessive heat and drought are being blamed for their intensity. It's summer down there and it has only just begun. But some fires seem to be somewhat unusual. Such as those that started in a tropical rain forest and caused considerable destruction. Stay tuned on these fires and let's see what if anything fire investigators find. Though many are quick to blame Climate Change for these fires, there are reports that several have recently been arrested for starting fires down there.

In Europe, Anti-Christian violence is growing. The Gatestone Institute has a piece on the subject called "Europe: Anti-Christian Attacks Reach All-Time High in 2019" that discusses the problem with some detail. We hear about problems in China, Iran, North Korea but little about what is happening in the west where religious bigotry and hate are a growing problem that often takes the form of property destruction or violence. Take a minute or two and check out the article, it is pretty detailed.

I wish I could tell you things will get better. I don't think they will. In fact, the more I look at what is happening to the world and yes, the western world, I just think our Lord's prophecy on this should give us all pause.


...yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth
you shall think that he offereth service unto God.
(John 16:2b [ASV])

Thus we should not be shocked. But perhaps this is just a continuation of much of the religious intolerance that was epidemic in Europe in the Middle Ages, where one group of often heretics branded another group 'heretical', excommunicated them, seized their churches and monasteries or burned them alive at the stake. Often attacks against genuine Christians came from within what was called the Church. Today, it is others who are attacking the Church; secularists, socialists, satanists, hard line Islamists and others are all ganging up on the Church to wreck havoc on it.

I am neither shocked nor surprised by any of this. Before the 42 month system of antichrist can arise, Christianity has to be undermined, discredited and destroyed. This is one stratagem I think the devil has been working on from within the Church with false ministers who openly proclaim doctrines contrary to biblical authority or pastors who have always been under the control of the enemy suddenly making loud, boisterous and highly public announcements of their apostasy - thus shaking the faith of many. It's is all probably part of a demonic strategy to destroy the faith in preparation of what the devil has in store for planet earth. It should neither surprise nor shock us that he has got some serious tricks up his sleeve as he prepares the children of darkness for the reign of the man of sin. I see no let up in the harsh persecution of Christians in the days ahead.

My deep concern in the US is that when the Democrats get power again, they will come after Christians and blame us for wrongs real and imagined that this administration did. Thus, we may see a serious backlash here in the US. The good news is that Trump has been able to appoint a whole new slew of Federal Judges who are conservative in their outlook. Consequently though the radical left may get control of the executive and legislative branch, the judicial branch is unlikely to let them go too far when it comes to religious liberty. But all in all, with the rise of the radical left, calls for socialism and the rise of the militant homosexual agenda, the rise of satanism in the country, we who truly place our faith in Jesus Christ are in for a rough ride in the years ahead.

{Several paragraph's dealing with North Korea, the National Security Council, Israel and Obama were removed for the posting here on the public site]

I will close today's update with one observation. I think that going forward we are going to see much more social and political unrest. Masses around the world are simply dissatisfied with what they have and want more. Governments are often predisposed to give less, sometimes out of greed, but more often out of pure fiscal necessity. I was shocked to read a day or so ago that South Korea has a very high rate of youth dissatisfaction - about 75% of them want to leave. Take the numbers with a grain of salt, but in my view they show something. That relative affluence and freedom seem to engender, not gratitude and contentment, but the opposite; discontent and anger.

We believers in Christ must not let that spirit of discontent rankle our spirits. Paul told us that if we have food and raiment we should be content... and he is right. Moreover we should always count our blessings, knowing that the days are evil.

When you are tempted to complain, think about how your brothers are facing hell in foreign nations, placed in jail and otherwise hounded for their faith. This will cure you.

So as we enter the third decade of the century, keep in mind that our world is in a serious state of flux -  problems with debt, unequal wealth distribution, mass demographic shifts political and environmental issues that are going to exacerbate various kinds of popular uprisings in the days ahead. I don't think there is any way to stop it. The world will look for solutions and I don't think they will find them. Christ described the last days as being those of perplexity (
Luke 21:25). So don't look for our leaders to know what to do. Rather I see leaders beginning to fight with one another as each tries to impose their solutions and vision on others, thus adding to the social and political chaos.

But buck up brothers and sisters!! God is still on the throne and prayer still changes things. We who know our God can have confidence that no matter what happens in this crazy ball of confusion we call earth, we can know that God was aware of it long before we were born. He has not been caught off guard.

Thank you all for your gifts, love and prayers.... especially your prayers in 2019. They are so much appreciated and I am looking forward to serving the Lord and each of you in 2020 and beyond.

Some of you are disappointed that so much material has been taken down from the public page and much of the commentary just does not appear there. While I have explained that to all of you, you also need to keep this in mind....

Every ministry needs a strategy. I read a bit of pamphlet by the late Pastor Richard Wurmbrand (Voice of the Martyrs) over my holiday break and he lays this out to the persecuted and underground church - get a strategy... you will need one. Well, that is true out here in cyberspace as well where they will come after you but not from directions you would ordinarily think or expect. I developed a strategy to keep my site online in the year say.... 2023. That was to do strategic retreat before the election of 2020. To lay low, get into a kind of digital foxhole and wait until the political battle is over. When the political 'shells and missiles' fall silent I will once again, begin to put a little more material on the public site... slowly, bit by bit.

So don't be angry... blogging is tough and many are doing it not knowing how dangerous it can be. How dangerous? Think about swatting a blogger a powerful person does not like. Some of the killings we have seen even in the news were about just that, though that part of was carefully omitted from mainline news reporting. Think about suing them just to harass them. Think about accusing them of a horrible crime just to discredit them. These things do happen, but are done with exceptional skill by people trained in such things to evade detection and accountability.

I exhort all of you Christian bloggers out there to develop a strategy. Don't be a deer in the headlights. You know what happens to them.

Having had first hand experience with these malevolent forces, I know that I am at war with the devil and his imps here on the net. But like any warrior he knows when to advance, when to hold fast and when to retreat.

So don't be angry. I am not going anywhere until the Lord releases me and he has not.

I exhort you all to keep a positive attitude this year, stay strong in the Lord and remember always what God has already done for you.

Blessings to you all in Christ.

Brother Mark



7 Jan

FISA

(Note: This was written last last month, just soon the court order was issued)

Perhaps you did not hear about it or read it, but the FISA court has issued blistering letter to the FBI on the whole FISA warrant on the President. You can find a copy of the letter here at the FISA Court site (12-17 order). Clearly the court is most unhappy with the way things are going. But this is just as I have been saying since the get-go; this whole thing looked more like a political set up that a legitimate counterintelligence investigation. Clearly the court takes this matter with the utmost seriousness and isn't going to let the mater fall between the cracks as some on the left, I am sure would love to have happen. 

I'll lift a bit of it from the online pdf

FISA Order
                          12-17-19
FISA order
                          12-17-19

   Source: FISA Court
Now for those of you on the left who think it is OK to do this to Trump, let me ask you this. Would you like the FBI to do this to you? You don't know what it is like to be put under federal investigation and surveillance. I do - they did it to me more than once in my life. You don't do anything wrong, but someone with a grudge or a hate on for Black folks starts making statements against you and investigators are all too eager to come after you. Do you want your phone tapped, your home broken into covertly while you are out at the movies? Your neighbors, employer, co-workers asked questions about you by Feds that will surely denigrate you in their eyes? They do this - they did it to me many times in the military and out of it. So I know how this goes. But it took this - a sitting President getting hounded to death by these unelected and often simply unaccountable bureaucrats to get some of these abuses out into the open. Those who willfully abuse the system need to be dealt with and not lightly.


So I say to you on the left who are all too willing to burn down the house of law and state to 'get Trump' - be careful what you wish for, the next list of those they want to harass may have your name at the top of it. What are you going to do when they start asking you questions about things you know nothing about in an interrogation cell? Hounding you about 'evidence' they (say they) have that you are utterly clueless about?


Putting you in jail or in a secret facility reserved for such people and accusing you of being 'uncooperative' because you have no clue about the charges they have leveled at you? You don't have to be guilty of a thing, just have some enemies who know how to work the system to get you - some of them will try and manufacture evidence against you. Look, 99% of folks simply are not sophisticated enough to understand how this National Security system works and they go down... hard. Not even most lawyers can help you if they are not familiar with this system and not many are not unless they have or have had a high level clearance and very, very few have. Some of these cases are tried in courts where the Judge has reached a verdict before the defendant even reaches the courtroom as he is part of the whole National Security mafia system as well.

I will do what I can to get our leaders to fix what is broken in this system so innocent people are not caught up in this web of legal and political malfeasance. 

However, I do not want to gut the legitimate powers they do really need to root out traitors and spies, but to make sure that that system is not abused to go after Blacks, Whites, Christians, Muslims, Bloggers, Democrats, Republicans or guys like Donald Trump simply because those inside the system have a personal dislike for any one of the aforementioned groups or people.

The good news is that more and more those in Congress do seem concerned about things going on over there at FBI. I think they want to know what other kinds of abuses are going on.

Since we are looking at open and public letters today, here is a screenshot of the one the President just sent to the House Speaker


    Source: White House

Well, most people have made up their minds along partisan lines - or rather the propaganda they are fed by left or right leaning sites and media organizations.

I am swayed by neither. If I thought the President were guilty of a crime, I would say, yes - get him out of there... yesterday! But I see much more questionable activity by those who want to get the President than I do with him.

The whole country needs to take a breather and consider carefully what it is the House is doing. If Investigating what many think could be serious political corruption and possible large scale money laundering has become a crime, then something is far more wrong with the Democrats in the House than the President who tried to look into these things and got impeached for his efforts, whatever his motivation.

This is not said to defend the President, but to get people to step back and think carefully about the precedent the House is setting with their impeachment. Has it become a crime to investigate crime? If that is the case, who is really running this country? Here is the other question that I think may come to the crux of the matter. Billions of dollars have been sent to Ukraine... who got the money? Where did it go after having been sent to one of the most corrupt countries on earth?

Wiser heads can start to ask better questions and seek the correct answers to this and many other questions. Those inflamed by propaganda cannot, their unsophisticated minds are too afraid of what they might find. Many are like a drug addict, they are just too addicted to political hate to see and think clearly.

Our nation is in a very serious crisis and impeachment is just the latest symptom of a much deeper disease within the American system of government.

Let us all pray for our leaders on both sides of the aisle.


3 Jan


Job Conclusion Part II

We will finish up the study in Job today with a final look at suffering.

Some commentators have stated that one thing that Job seemed to have been lacking in his character was that until the Lord spoke to him face to face, he simply had not fully submitted to the will of the Almighty, whatever that will may be. But I think we must not be too hard on Job as the religious thought and theology of those days was very rudimentary, as we saw in the lengthy debate in the text. They all thought that if you did right, good came your way, without exception. The whole idea that God would allow such evil to befall Job not because he was evil, but in essence because he was righteous and good was beyond their theological understanding. Nor could they comprehend a key principle that we in the New Testament era probably take somewhat for granted.

And we know that to them that love God
all things work together for good,
even to them that are called
according to his purpose.
 (Romans 8:28 [ASV])


Yes, all things including sufferings; they work together for our good. But as with all promises like this, there is a condition. In order for such things, even the troubles we endure to work for our good we have to love God, and be called according to God's purpose. So this does not hold true to the lost and those who know not God. In short, God allows these things into our lives to test us, mold us, guide us, help us and teach us.

But Job was deeply beloved of God so this trial taught him some important lessons. Not least of which according to some commentators, the character trait of submission to God's will, even if we don't like the situation we are in or must suffer. If we belong to him, God is in it. He was involved in Job's ordeal and allowed it. Job thought God had forsaken him and without any cause was punishing him. He could not have been more wrong.


This is the fallacy of looking at things the way they appear to the natural mind and our human eyes. As we saw in Job there is a spiritual world which our natural mind cannot see or comprehend but deeply effects our lives. It was Satan's accusation that brought on Job's troubles and Job was utterly unaware of the controversy that took place in Heaven. This is often how things go for us down here but we must remember that we as Saints are involved in a spiritual battle with the Lord's enemies and like any warrior, he is going to have to fight and take a few 'hits' from time to time. There is no way around it if you are in the thick of battle.

Paul lays this theme out again and again in his letters. Paul was no stranger to sufferings. He talks about some of them in
II Corinthians 1:3-11.

Paul knew what it was to suffer and face death. He faced it many times. He also knew despair. But Paul knew his God and the path he had set him on and he was by no means ever going back. He pressed forward in full confidence in the God who raised Christ from the dead.

Yes, this is all New Testament, Job and his friends did not understand these things. But we do.

But suffering is hard. But as hard as it is, God wants us to as much as we can, be joyful in difficult times.

 
 
Count it all joy, my brethren,
when ye fall into manifold temptations; 
Knowing that the proving of your faith worketh patience. 
And let patience have its perfect work,
that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing.
 But if any of you lacketh wisdom,
let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally
 and upbraideth not;
and it shall be given him.
(James 1:2-5 [ASV])

The word translated temptations is Strong's G3986 and it can mean a trial or adversity or temptation. James is telling us to count it joy. How did the early Church look at persecution? They were doing God's work, but had to stand trial for their actions and were beaten for it.

 And to him they agreed:
and when they had called the apostles unto them,
they beat them and charged them
not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
They therefore departed from
the presence of the council, rejoicing
that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor
 for the Name. And every day,
in the temple and at home,
they ceased not to teach and
to preach Jesus as the Christ.
(Acts 5:40-42 [ASV])

Yes, it can be hard to rejoice in such circumstances, particularly when your back is covered in bruises and welts, but this is what the early Church did when facing persecution and hardship.

Job's story is one of faith, endurance but also one of human failings and God's ultimate mercy to those who keep faith with him. Job was not ever, ever going to forsake his God. No matter how confused and hurt he was during his trial, he was going to maintain his confidence in God.

This to me is the key message of Job. We don't understand why things are the way they are. Why am I writing on the internet like this? I don't particularly like it, but it is what I have been commanded to do. God has had my back through many trials. There are times when God just wants us to wait on him in very difficult circumstances. This is what Job had to do and thus we have the phrase 'patience of Job'. Waiting like this can be very difficult and in and of itself can be a serious trial of our faith.

Some of you have lost Jobs, incomes, been dissed by your families, hated, mistreated at work, mocked by your Church buddies, have to deal with health issues, family issues, financial issues. Sometimes these things last a long time, longer than we want or expected. Remember Job.

Sometimes all God really wants to do is to get us to be totally dependent on him. It's a lesson that was and is hardest for me for I love independence and freedom. Having to rely totally on anyone for anything is contrary to this part of my nature. But God has had to teach me humility in this and to depend totally on him. I can tell you this - sooner or later, he will one day teach it to you as well, if you are to be of any use to him.


So let us remember Job and how he suffered but also remember why he suffered (the devil) and that God allowed it and that God, after having taught Job a thing or two (like submission and humility), blessed him twice as much again. Why? Because he loved and respected his servant Job.

I exhort you all to aspire to be that kind of servant, one that God loves and respects. A person who can honestly be called in the corridors of Heaven, the Friend of God.

Friends will go the second mile for one another. This is what Job's faith demonstrated during a trial for which he was utterly confounded as to the reason for it. He stood by his God.

Can you do that? Will you?

Time will tell, though I think you all of my regular readers (insiders) will pass with flying colors and stand before God with great shouts of joy and thanksgiving on the day of our Salvation and look at the trouble we had to endure as very light compared to what God has in store for all who love him.

Here ends my commentary on Job.


1 Jan


Nehemiah Part LXV

 
 As for the Levites, in the days of Eliashib,
Joiada, and Johanan, and Jaddua,
there were recorded the heads of fathers’ houses ;
also the priests, in the reign of Darius the Persian.
  The sons of Levi, heads of fathers’ houses ,
were written in the book of the chronicles,
even until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib.
  And the chiefs of the Levites: Hashabiah,
Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel,
with their brethren over against them, to praise
and give thanks, according to the commandment
of David the man of God, watch next to watch.
 Mattaniah, and Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam,
 Talmon, Akkub, were porters keeping the watch
at the store-houses of the gates. 
These were in the days of Joiakim the
son of Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, and in the
days of Nehemiah the governor,
and of Ezra the priest the scribe.
(Nehemiah 12:22-26 [ASV])


The Darius in question some think was Darius II (Darius Nothus), though the Cambridge Bible and others thinks it refers to Darius III (Codomannus). FYI, this was the Darius that Alexander the Great Defeated though he was actually killed by one of his own Satraps to whom he was blood-related. This was well dramatized in the early film called Alexander with Richard Burton in the 1950's.

The references to the Priests have also caused some argument and confusion in that the same names were used by them at different times.

Eliashib was noteworthy in Nehemiah's time as he took part in the building of the Eastern Wall (Neh 3:1). But he did get Nehemiah rather angry as he for a while seemed to be sympathetic to Tobaiah (we will come to that later). The location of verse 22 and 23 have caused some to think that they were added later by scribes at the time of Alexander. Here Barnes' commentary has some interesting comments about those two verses.

Verse 23 shows us that the 'sons of the Levi' and the heads of families were apparently not part of the official record and were written in a separate work, the Chronicles. So what the writer here apparently is doing is showing where he gets his information from, public records, official and semi-official - none of which are infallible. One needs to keep this in mind when dealing with genealogies, the writer and scribe has to use what resources he has at hand. All this taking place long before the computer, fax machines. the printing press or even paper as we know it today.

The rulers of the Levites were mentioned here as well as their brothers. Their job was to praise God and give thanks to him. As usual, the names of one generation is often the same as the following and thus there is often confusion as to whom is specifically referred to. The next verse shows that they had watches. The next passage seems to amplify this idea as many were actually working as security guards at the gates. They all appeared to have two jobs, both to sing and serve the Lord and to stand watch at the gate.

The KJV uses the word 'Threshold' (of the temple). The word may be rendered Storehouse or Treasury. The American Standard Version uses that word rather than threshold. The word is this one in Strongs.
H624
aw-soof'
Passive participle of H622; collected (only in the plural), i.e, a collection (of offerings): - threshold, Asuppim. see HEBREW for 0622

Given this definition, setting a watch over it makes considerable sense!

Verse 26 attempts to show to which generation the writer was referring to and many believe this verse and a couple of others were inserted later by scribes. There appears to be a couple of different time periods referred to, the Period of Joakim which was around 500BC and then the time of Nehemiah, around 460BC.

The Pulpit Commentary has some great notes on this passage. Their comment on this can be found in that excellent commentary here (scroll down to the homiletic section). It gives a real good overview of TRUE ministry. As that commentary notes, ministry work is often mundane and if you are looking for fame and notoriety you are working from the wrong motives.
We will continue Nehemiah next week, God willing!!

Brother Mark



23 Dec

Money And Marriage In America

A few pieces have come out over the past couple of months that deal with marriage and how for many women there are fewer marriageable men out there for up and coming (economically speaking) women.

Money and marriage? In the west the two are linked in important ways. But let us be fair, it has always pretty much been this way. Even in the Middle Ages, those with property always married 'up' the economic-socio-political ladder to try and gain esteem, wealth and power. Today it is no less true certainly more so as trends in marriage show. 

Back then it was land and titles. Today, it's a Lexus and a McMansion

As I look back on my life I can honestly say that while part of me wanted to marry, I am overall most pleased that I did not. I wanted a wife who loved me...

...not my wallet.

I am very, very old school and don't believe in divorce, except for the cause of adultery.

And while I may be a bit overly cynical on this issue, I think far too many women are too obsessed with a man's bank account rather than his character.

But women need to be aware as well, 'fortune hunters' can these days be male as well as female.

If I was a young person of either sex and contemplating marriage, I would do a few things before I got hitched. In our money obsessed society, one these days just has to be careful about what kind of person you are getting married to.

It is sad thing to say but for some people, love is a lie that is used to wiggle into a 5-6 figure bank transfer when the divorce decree is finalized.

What would I do first?

  • A Background Check
  • A Credit Check
  • And do a Pre-nup - make it fair and amicable for both sides so that if things get ugly, trying to mess each other over in a heat of anger is not a legal possibility.
  • Now I am not a lawyer and cannot give legal advice, but if you feel like I do about adultery - I would seriously consider an adultery/infidelity clause in your prenup. Make that tumble he had with his secretary a very expensive affair that will keep you and your kids in food and clothes for years to come. Fear of financial ruin will give any sane person serious pause before adultery.

Those are the things I would do. You of course must suit yourself.

A smart man or woman with a lot of money will never flash it. He or she will drive an old car, wear comfortable non-expensive clothes and shoes, live moderately and let no one know they've got money. If I were rich (I am not nor ever have been), that is what I would do. No one would know I had money. Why?

Money attracts the wrong kinds of people. Like dung left out in the sun, you can fully expect a swarm of flies to lite around it before long. That is what I think about those who love money and seek a spouse based on it.

My mother, bless her heart, lived like a poor woman, which is how she grew up. But when she died she was worth quite a bit. She never flashed, was always MOST generous, shopped at thrift stores and second hand shops and preferred the company of ordinary folks to others.

Brothers and sisters. Marriage is a serious affair with God. Very serious. God will deal with those who defile their marriages and the marriage bed.

If you are seeking a spouse, find that right person first. Don't be in a hurry. Get before the Lord and remember the wise words of Solomon on the right kind of mate in Proverbs 31:10ff. Get a woman who fears the Lord, has excellent character, is industrious, honest and charitable. The same goes for you women out there looking for the right man. Don't focus in on that new BMW he's driving and that big check he gets every month. That could all go in the next recession and you'll stuck with all the negative traits you chose to overlook while you focused on his money.

Be wise in your choice of a mate.


20 Dec

A Couple of Tidbits


In Christian news, a Black worship leader has struck back at critics who were troubled by his visit to the White House to pray for the President. Christian Post carries the story. There is a lot of hate out there and a great deal of it is coming from the Church or so-called Church I should say. I know nothing about this man or of the meeting, but to go and pray with and for the President... Is this not what we are commanded to do - pray for our leaders? Yet political hate (that is what it is) won't let many do that. That shows a spiritually sick mindset in parts of the Church. Instead of a sweet aroma of love to God, he gets the stink off the turd of hate... coming right from those who claim to know him!!

This is why I exhort each and everyone of you to turn off that hate. It is not going to win you any points with God, just the back of his hand in rebuke if you don't repent of it. So in this impeachment season, whatever your political persuasion, pray for President Trump, Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer and Chief Justice Roberts who will preside over the trial in the Senate. Pray also for Mr. Schiff, and those who are leading the effort to remove the President. Yes, pray for, not against them. Let God do the judging... you just do the praying.

One thing I can tell you all. None of us have all the facts on this. The backstory, the real deal, who is paying who to do what or say what or push this or push back on that. What we see in the news is just one tenth of what is really going on. Don't let anyone manipulate you into 'hate mode'. The only thing you are doing is letting someone control your mental filter - what you hear and what you will accept. Once those powerful emotions set it, the reasoning part of your brain gets side tracked.

Pray for our leaders... they all need it - even and particularly those you may not like much.

18 Dec


Christmas: Indonesia Tightens Security

(ICC) The chief of the National Police Traffic Corps said military personnel and “members of government agencies” will guard churches and tourism sites during Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.

Jakarta Metro Police also announced on December 13 that it will deploy 10,000 agents to ensure that Christmas and New Year celebrations go smoothly with dozens of guard posts set up around the capital.
Senior Commander Yusri Yunus noted that police will work with the Armed Forces and city authorities to improve security. A meeting will be held on 23 December to select the key points to protect.

Indonesia has seen a rise of Islam radicalism in recent years. The IS-linked local terrorist group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) has initiated suicide attacks against churches in Indonesia, with the latest being May 2018 in Surabaya, where more than 10 victims from three different churches were killed. Continues at International Christian Concern.

In other news on the persecution front, Morning Star news has their story on the attack last week in Kenya here. Pakistan is getting some heat over issues of religious freedom, according a report out of HRW.

One thing I have noticed in the past year - that in most places in the world with the exclusion of SCO nations, persecution seems to be ebbing just a little. Why I do not know, but perhaps with Trump in the WH and Pompeo at State, quiet but firm diplomatic pressure has been brought to bear on some states that had a problem.

This does not appear to be happening in China.

But one issue we should keep an eye on that does not directly effect Christians but is based on religion, law and protests is this one in India.

(International Christian Concern) – On December 12, India’s national government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), passed one of the most religiously divisive laws in the country’s recent history. The Citizenship Amendment Bill, informally called the CAB, was signed into law by India’s president after it was passed by both legislative branches of the national government. Since its passage, protests against the law have raged across India.

The now enacted CAB will make it easier for “persecuted minorities” from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh to obtain citizenship in India if they can prove they have lived in the country since 2015. The law specifically provides this path to citizenship for Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, and Parsis. Intentionally omitted, however, are Muslims.

Protestors claim that this divisive law is intended by the BJP to polarize religious communities in India and continue to promote the BJP’s Hindu nationalist agenda. Since coming to power in 2014, the BJP-led government has enacted many pro-Hindu policies that have left India’s religious minority communities uneasy about their future in India.
In 2019 alone, new states have proposed anti-conversion laws, India’s only Muslim-majority state was stripped of its statehood, and a Hindu temple was allowed to be built on the site of a Muslim mosque that was torn down by Hindu radicals in the 1990’s. Added to these religiously divisive policies, BJP leaders continued to perpetuate national narratives that paint India’s religious minorities as outsiders and anti-nationals. - International Christian Concern

There are reports that the internet is blocked in some places where there are protests going on. 

In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Justin Kientega (from Burkna Faso) talks about the persecution Christians are getting in Burkina Faso, sometimes being deliberately targeted by militants.

Looking for other stories on the suffering Church? Click here.



17 Dec

Job Conclusion - Part I

Preface: Once a week, I have been going through the book of Job for insiders. It was a very detailed, verse by verse exposition and something I have wanted to do for a very, very long time.

I wrote some closing thoughts on the book that I have decided to share on the public site.

***
It had been many years since I studied that book with any depth. I discovered many nuances about the book that I had either not known or had long forgotten, while doing this study.

One thing I will never forget. When going though the most difficult trial of my life years and years ago,
Job 13:15 was the verse that kept me going. It is the passage that any saint who is facing serious trial and even death should never forget. That even if the Lord should require our lives, we must continue to put our trust in him. In the New Testament, this thinking is laid out for us by our Lord. But in the times of the Old Testament and before, which is when this book was almost certainly written, such a sentiment was not well known. As we moved through the book we saw the simplistic theology of Job's friends and their refusal to face facts on suffering, prosperity and want that stared them in the face - No, the wicked are not always punished in this life and no, the righteous are not always rewarded. Job knew he was innocent of any crime that could have caused him to deserve his fate, but could not convince his friends who were convinced Job had some great sin he was hiding. Job only had his confidence in God to sustain him.

There may come a time in our lives when we are faced with similar circumstances. How do you think the Chinese pastor feels when he is given a heavy sentence for preaching the gospel? When these things happen, sometimes the sheep scatter and the shepherd is left all alone. How does one deal with this? Or with those who are in the Church who begin to mutter harsh things against such a pastor and begin to malign and slander him for being a 'criminal' while he sits in chains for serving the Lord? Like Job, such a pastor is being punished by the devils ministers for doing right. For Job, he too was being punished by the devil and his ministers for doing right - serving God and pleasing him. This is the way the devil operates. He will reward those who do great wickedness and punish those who do right. Look at the satanic rewards that the drug cartels have. The money, the mansions, yachts, sexy women and other toys the devil lays out for his children. Herein lies a major fallacy in to days western religiosity and prosperity teachings.

We tend to measure the success of a pastor by the size of his Church, the amount of money in the Church coffers and the number of attractive, wealthy people he can get into his pews on Sundays. We measure things materially - not spiritually. We can all be somewhat guilty of this. "He doesn't have a big new car and a new Church, he must be 'off' in his doctrine". We make a horrible mistake when we look at the material goods as a measure of a man's godliness. It is the same basic mistake that Job's friends made. They saw Job's circumstances and immediately assumed he had committed some horrible sin.

Let us keep in mind that the Lord gave Satan a free hand to deal with Job to see if he would curse God. All the horrors that Satan could conjure up were thrown at Job and even in this most horrible affliction, he maintained his faith and kept his walk with God. What Job endured and the way he came through it, shows a remarkable man of God. God was correct when he praised Job so in the court of heaven in the opening chapters of the book.

I think one thing we can also take away from Job is this. When we suffer, we often have to do it alone. Those around us can be hindrances. Job's wife who exhorted him to curse God and die and his friends whose accusatory tongue he had to deal with for the weeks or months of his ordeal - they were no help to him "...miserable comforters are ye all."
(Job 16:2b)

We have all heard the saying 'Grace under pressure'. That is what Job displayed and something we must all strive for as well. That when trials come we must be ready to endure sufferings as Job did, patiently, in faith and a determination to stand with God, no matter what. Can you do that? This is going to be a lesson that we may all have to ask ourselves as the system of Antichrist rises and persecution becomes more significant in our world. Many in far off nations understand this. We Americans, most of us do not. Perhaps in a book level understanding, but not in a 'fires of trial' level of understanding. As this new system continues to rise before our eyes, however we may all have a healthy dose of both levels of understanding.

One thing I have learned to do when under trial is to detach myself as much as I can from my temporal circumstances. I try and move my mind into positive things, peaceful things and hopeful things. Here I find Paul's advice to be most telling.


 And the peace of God,
which passeth all understanding,
shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.
 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honorable,
whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report;
if there be any virtue,
and if there be any praise,
 think on these things.
(Philippians 4:7-8 [ASV])
.


This helps. Be positive, even in midst of your trials. I try hard not to dwell on my problems, no matter how hard they are. Try and keep your mind free from the worries of your particular trial. Now this is much harder to do if one is in Prison or in serious pain. But for many of us, the other trials we must deal with, these things can be done and often help refocus the mind back on God, the source of our strength, rather than the trials we must face. One 'trick' I learned long ago? Just start praising God, giving thanks to him for the things he has done for you in the past, like David often did in the Psalms. Praise can be a powerful weapon if used correctly. Satan wants us to get mad at God when trouble comes. When you praise God and thank him instead, you win a powerful victory over his accusations.

I find that we must often make our face like flint and despite all the 'slings and arrows or outrageous fortune' that we must endure (as Shakespeare put it), we must push forward toward our goal in Christ. Yes, our inheritance in God. What did God say to his friend, Abram (for his name was not yet changed)?


After these things
the word of Jehovah came unto Abram in a vision,
saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield,
and thy exceeding great reward.
 (Genesis 15:1 [ASV])


It is God himself who is our reward, to be welcomed into his family as one of his sons - that should be our primary goal and what we need to focus on when we are going through the fires. What we have to endure down here in this present age is not worthy of comparison for what God has in store for us.

For I reckon that the sufferings
of this present time are not worthy
 to be compared with the glory
which shall be revealed to us-ward.
(Romans 8:18 [ASV])


But let none of us ever forget that our Lord showed us the path to life is not strewn with roses and flower petals, but that it is marked with sacrifice and yes, sufferings.


 But we behold him
who hath been made a little lower than the angels,
even Jesus, because of the suffering of death
crowned with glory and honor,
that by the grace of God he should
taste of death for every man .
  For it became him, for whom are all things,
and through whom are all things,
in bringing many sons unto glory,
to make the author of their salvation
perfect through sufferings.
(Hebrews 2:9-10 [ASV])

Yes, brothers, the book of Job is certainly for us today. While it is one of the oldest, if not the oldest book known to man, it is still very relevant for us today. Particularly for us Christians who live in this age, where more and more of us must suffer for our faith.



12 Dec


Nehemiah XLIV

 Now these are the priests and the Levites
that went up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel,
 and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, 
Amariah, Malluch, Hattush,  Shecaniah, Rehum, Meremoth,  Iddo, Ginnethoi, Abijah,  Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah, 
Shemaiah, and Joiarib, Jedaiah. 
Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, Jedaiah. These were the chiefs of the
 priests and of their brethren in the days of Jeshua. 
Moreover the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel,
Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah, who was
over the thanksgiving, he and his brethren. 
Also Bakbukiah and Unno, their brethren,
were over against them according to their offices.
 And Jeshua begat Joiakim, and Joiakim begat Eliashib,
 and Eliashib begat Joiada,  and Joiada begat
Jonathan, and Jonathan begat Jaddua. 
And in the days of Joiakim were priests, heads of fathers’ houses : of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah; 
of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amariah, Jehohanan;
 of Malluchi, Jonathan; of Shebaniah, Joseph;
 of Harim, Adna; of Meraioth, Helkai; 
of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam; 
of Abijah, Zichri; of Miniamin, of Moadiah, Piltai;
 of Bilgah, Shammua; of Shemaiah, Jehonathan;
 and of Joiarib, Mattenai; of Jedaiah, Uzzi;
 of Sallai, Kallai; of Amok, Eber; 
of Hilkiah, Hashabiah; of Jedaiah, Nethanel.
(Nehemiah 12:1-21 [ASV])
This chapter most again would skip over as lists of names as well as genealogies are not particularly interesting. Today we are going to take a brief look at it. When commenting on this passage, Matthew Henry wonders why this list is even included by Nehemiah. It is a good question and one I think Mr. Henry gets right when he says it is done in remembrance of men who did good and right by the Lord.
He says it is a record for our remembrance and that is exactly what it was meant to be for the Jewish nation and now for us who are called of God to be partakers of the heavenly promise in Christ. In these passages we see God's constancy to his people who he had to severely chastise because of generations of unrepentant sin. He accepted the Priesthood and being intermediaries with himself and his people even after their many sins and abominations. God chastised, but he did not forget mercy and restoration.

The list is a who's who of the priests of the returning exiles and as such is rather important. Many of the names are very familiar, others not. The first ones should be. They are Zerubbabel and Jeshua (Joshua). The Joshua moniker is given to this same Priest in the book of Zechariah and his other works can be found in the book of Ezra. Zerubbabel as well is also mentioned those same passages in Zechariah in conjunction with Joshua (Zechariah chapter three and four).

What is important to note is that these are not listed with the other Priests. They are listed honorably but separately from those in chapter 11. These, it is clearly stated went up with Zerubbabel.
K&D commentary then gives us the different lists of priests in a very good table that I will repost here.



But the real reason for the separation of the names in this passage were separated for the simple fact that they got there long before Nehemiah was even given his royal charge.
So here we discover why this list is separated. Nehemiah wanted to be thorough so he probably went to the records of civil administration kept either by the Priests or by Shesbazzar (Zerubabbel) who was appointed head of the returning exiles at time of the initial return.
Another name of note is Iddo. This name is listed in Zechariah's lineage as his grandfather. The name was common.

As I am not big into Geneologies and others are so I will have to refer you to other scholars who understand these things better than I can as I possess no education in Hebrew and or in ancient Jewish history.



10 Dec

Mexico, Trump and Terrorism

....Today however I want to touch on a subject I have not talked on much. I bring it up because the President has expressed the desire to designate Mexican Cartels as Terrorist Organizations. Whatever his motivations and I think they are good ones, I just don't think such an idea is going to help. It will probably make matters much, much worse. Instead of the 'cat and mouse' game that the cartels play with the US and its officials now, it will be full frontal machine gun and car bomb directed right at America and her LE and security people if that card is played.

Do we have any examples where Terrorism and Narcotics play a key role in a conflict that involves the US? As a matter of fact, we do. A big one - Afghanistan.

SIGAR, the very existence of which was a major feat in DOD investigatory powers, which many fought tooth and nail to both bring about and kill gives us some great facts from those who have access to documents, reports, personnel and more to tell us just what is going on. Their most recent report talks about the Drug situation. When one thinks of Afghanistan, one thinks of Opium/Poppies. Well, that seems to be changing...
Afghan law enforcement also faces a growing methamphetamine production problem. Afghan drug producers likely learned how to manufacture methamphetamine from Iran, where methamphetamine production has been a problem for law enforcement and health professionals since the mid-2000s.

According to Afghan government officials, the Ministry of Interior Affairs (MOI) will review and prepare the country’s new counternarcotics plan now that the Ministry of Counter Narcotics (MCN) is being dissolved. As of September 30, 2019, total U.S. appropriations for counternarcotics activities in Afghanistan were $8.94 billion. - SIGAR
The problems that come with building, maintaining, and managing major forces engaged in these kinds of undertakings can be daunting, on numerous levels.

For example...
The Special Mission Wing (SMW) is a rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft force that supports NIU missions as well as counterterrorism missions conducted by Afghan special security forces. The SMW is the only Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) organization with night-vision, rotary-wing air assault, and fixed-wing intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance capabilities. The SMW structure consists of assault squadrons in Kabul, Kandahar, and Mazar-e Sharif. Since its establishment in 2012, the SMW has been used to conduct counterterrorism and counternarcotics missions. In recent years, counterterrorism missions have dominated.

This quarter, DOD reported that due to political pressure ahead of the presidential election, high-level Ministry of Defense (MOD) officials frequently circumvented the tasking process set up for the SMW and misused SMW assets for tasks unrelated to their core mission of fighting terrorism and narcotics production. The SMW received many taskings better suited to the Afghan Air Force. DOD said that penalties assessed to the MOD had minimal effect on curbing the problem and the misuse of these assets undermined the SMW’s ability to conduct counternarcotics missions. The misuse of the SMW is an ongoing problem, as SIGAR has reported in previous quarterly reports. - SIGAR
How successful are they at interdiction?
Interdiction Results

Between June 27 and September 18, 2019, DOD reported 27 operations resulting in 160 detentions and seizures of 877 kilograms (kg) (1,929 lbs) of opium, 565 kg (1,243 lbs) of heroin, 500 kg of hashish (1,100 lbs), 31,419 kg (69,122 lbs) of chemicals, and 318 kg (700 lbs) of methamphetamine by Afghan security forces. Table 3.29 contains interdiction results provided by DOD.

DOD said security remains poor, hindering the access of government forces in areas where the drug trade is concentrated, particularly in southern regions of the country where the majority of opium is grown, and where drug products are transported, processed, and sold.


Text and Chart from - SIGAR
But let's not blame the Afghans too much. Clearly they are doing a pretty good job as many are indeed dedicated to the work. But this is no easy task.
Despite the strong performance of Afghan specialized units and their improved capabilities over the years, the number of seizures and arrests they have conducted have had minimal impact on the country’s opium- poppy cultivation and production. For example, cumulative opium seizures since the start of the reconstruction effort in 2002 are equivalent to approximately 8% of the country’s 6,400 metric tons of opium production for the single year of 2018, as reported by UNODC.

Afghan law-enforcement forces also face a growing methamphetamine production problem. Afghan workers who apparently learned how to produce methamphetamine in Iran have now brought the process home. Unlike Iran, however, Afghan producers have been able to lower their costs... - SIGAR
Perhaps one gets a better view of what fighting a war where terrorism and drugs converge.

I think that making that designation on Mexican Cartels will open up Pandora's box that will never be put back in once opened. We could be facing a major military campaign along our southern border for years to come.

Consider this. Once such a designation is made, these cartels will be targeted in various fashions by the USG. That sounds good on the surface - tough and no nonsense. But what will be the likely result as time passes? I will tell you what is certain to happen eventually. Those cartels will link up with groups like Hezbollah and ISIS and other extremist groups who are also marked for destruction by the USG as 'terrorists' and also have a serious bone to pick with the US and they will share intelligence, resources and 'how to' methodologies on everything from drug trafficking, money laundering to successful terror operations, right here in the Continental US.

Just this week, the WaPo did a major expose on the war in Afghanistan with documents and interviews with those involved. I say, before those of you from the 'lock and load' crowd decide to egg the President on in to this designation, perhaps a look at that report and some of the SIGAR reporting will give you some much needed pause.

America is just not very good at some things. Counter-terror is one thing we have not been great at - not terrible, just not great. Counter narcotics as well. This is not a slam, truly. The problems these kinds of operations create are myriad and many problems simply cannot be foreseen until they appear - not least of which is internal corruption. Yes, US military members, Law Enforcement and others can easily be co-opted by these cartels. We have seen this already in many news stories. Now multiply that by a thousand as these cartels fight, not just for markets and profits, but also for their survival. America would be taking on a bull by the horns and would certainly be gored in the process, these cartels being so close to home and having access to a porous US border.

No, dealing with the drug crisis down there is going to take a other approaches than merely 'lock and load'. One way to deal with it is with the demand side of the equation. These cartels would not be making money like they are if there was no demand for their product here in the US. There is. Why do people take drugs? What motivates them to escape reality via the use of these dangerous chemicals? I say this only to point out that there are other approaches to dealing with cartels than a military one. I just believe there is something fundamentally wrong with a society that has such a voracious appetite for drugs.

I say, do a re-think on this Mr. President. Sit down and listen... really listen to your people in the DOD, FBI, DHS, CIA and elsewhere. Let them break down to you in plain simple English what we are all likely to see in 5-10 years if you make that designation.


5 Dec

Falling Away....

I read some stories recently about some prominent christian leaders and musicians who appear to be losing or have have lost their faith.

So let's talk a bit about Christian 'celebrities'.


There is some great Christian music out there, but it is in my view, essentially a business. It runs on money, contracts, ticket and record sales, etc. As Christians have done their best to emulate how the world does things, it is hardly surprising that the way the world does things runs directly into the lives of Christians and their celebrities. They get media attention, get the best seats in Church, are fawned over just like the world. In short, in mainstream Christianity there is little really to fundamentally distinguish what calls itself Christianity today from the world, other than a few sermons preached on Sunday and a few political slogans and stances.

Why is this? I can tell you that it was in those early days of my walk that I got a bad... no nasty taste of American Christianity. I had negative experience after negative experience. I went to a Christian College and saw little of Christ in it. It really set my faith back - almost to the point of no return. But you know what? Later when I came back to the Lord do you know what I discovered from the Lord? That only a few of those whom I met or came in contact with were actually born again. Had actually been born of the Spirit and had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. They had an emotional experience, but not a genuine regeneration that can only come from above.

Brothers, that struck me like a bolt of lightning that these Christians were 'social Christians', but were not really part of the body of Christ. Remember I was kind of young and really was on fire for the Lord and just did not understand how these so called Christians behaved the way they did. It really mystified me. They spoke like Christians and had their own Christian jargon, but the reality was that (in retrospect) many of them just were not saved.

I say these things not because many of you don't know this. But because I see this as going to be a growing problem in the Church. People 'falling away' from the faith, having a crisis of faith and others just out and out apostatizing. Get ready because I am here to tell you that in the west, I think it is going to be par for the course. But in other nations in the third and developing world as well as in places where there is severe persecution, I think Christianity will spread like a wildfire on field of dry leaves. Here in the west there are too many distractions, too much materialism, too many people who are preaching the gospel for the income it generates... and for some they are doing, very, very well financially. Meanwhile the meatier things of Christ get lost in the translation because they are not 'monetizable'.

You see a disciple that lasts is one that first of all has been truly born again. He knows God. God has made his home inside the believer and at some point in time, Christ has revealed himself to him (John 14:21-23; Luke 10:22). He knows his God. My problem was that I just figured everyone around me particularly at my so called Christian college had the same experience. They hadn't and their lives as time passed showed it clearly.

It is kind of funny because decades later, some of my extended family attended the same college I did and what they had to say about that school probably should not be repeated in public where youngster may read it. What I will say is that they came away with an even nastier taste than I did. I left disillusioned, they left more than a little angry. Mind you I cannot and will not blame the School or its administration for this state of affairs. For the most part, I think they tried to provide the right environment. No, I think the blame rather lies on the whole social/financial structure of much of mainstream American Christianity.

My point this morning is an important one. Churchianity and its fruit is not likely to last long. Genuine Christianity and its fruit has a much, much better chance. But genuine Christianity may be rarer in the west than many may imagine.

The emotionalism of Churchianity will fade, but the light, nudgings, and guidance of the Holy Spirit do not fade, provided one has the Spirit. If one does not, when things get hot, they will fall away, apostatize and otherwise forsake the gospel.

Now I say these things so that all you are prepared for the things that are to come. There is going to be a mass apostasy and this is something our Lord and the Apostles warned us of. We must not be shocked. Saddened, yes, shocked no.

It is a key signpost for the return of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

 let no man beguile you in any wise:
for it will not be, except the falling away come first,
and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition,
 he that opposeth and exalteth himself
against all that is called God or that is worshipped;
so that he sitteth in the temple of God,
setting himself forth as God.
(II Thess 2:3-4 [ASV])



Be blessed, all of you in Christ.


3 Dec

Spiritual Battle Lines: Separation

In these times, it is my hope that I can provide not just information and godly perspective on the events of the day, but also some firm spiritual encouragement and from time to time, admonitions for these difficult and strange times. One of the more important admonitions I think that will be key to spiritual victory in the years ahead is to do as the Apostle commanded and to come out from among the lost and be separate. This was not one of those 'optional' things that were commanded of the saints.

 Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers:
for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity?
or what communion hath light with darkness? 
And what concord hath Christ with Belial?
 or what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever?
  And what agreement hath a temple of God with idols?
for we are a temple of the living God;
even as God said, I will dwell in them,
and walk in them; and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people. Wherefore Come ye
out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord,
And touch no unclean thing;
And I will receive you,
(II Cor6:14-17 [ASV])

For we who are older, I think we all understand this. But as the days pass, we may find that we may begin to feel a bit isolated from the world around us while they party, get drunk, take dope, fornicate, sodomize and yes, worship devils as though nothing were wrong with these things. As you all have noticed, the moral compass of this nation and the world in general is shifting and not for the better. We must do as the Lord bids us and remember that we are holy unto our God and we just have to be separate from the world as well.

The sin and evil in our world - its like a spiritual Ebola virus. We are most unwise to spend time in or even around an infected village, we could easily catch what they have. This is how we must look at sin and evil. It is a disease, a spiritual disease that those who have it almost never know they have. Their own consciences should tell them, but they often don't as many don't seem to have one. As Paul put it, they have seared it with a hot iron (1Tim 4:2). I think what Paul is trying to say is that there are some who are past the point of no return, they really do not understand right and wrong any longer and probably never will.


We have to look at this like a spiritual battle. What kind of soldier spends time in the enemy camp, laughing it up with the enemy? Could you imagine US soldiers just before the Battle of the Bulge hanging out with the Nazi's in a campfire sing-a-long, just before hostilities? A good General would take those soldiers and have them locked up in the brig... at best or taken out and shot at worst. There is too much at stake on the eve of a critical battle.  For we who put our trust in Jesus Christ, the stakes are eternal.

In a spiritual sense we are in a battle against the forces of darkness, against principalities and strongholds of Satan and his fallen host of spirits. Brothers, it is key that we understand this aspect of our walk with Christ. Satan is busy converting masses of humanity into his cause and people have no clue as to who or what they are serving. This is because Satan is a master deceiver. He will deceive the WHOLE WORLD (Rev 12:9) and could take down the very elect as well, if it were possible (Matt 24:24).

We as Christians must remain true to our God stand firm with our brethren, our real brethren and come away from the lost, apostates and those who preach false and misleading doctrines. This was one of Paul's points in 2 Timothy, chapter three when he went on talking about false teachers and noted Jannes and Jambres. These two men are not specifically named in the Old Testament as it was passed down to us, but who are accepted to be the magicians who opposed Moses before Pharaoh.

Paul is clearly referring to men who oppose God's ministers and in the case of the aforementioned personages, were servants rather of Pharaoh than of God. But false prophets and false ministers exist everywhere in our world - they serve the state or other masters, not the Lord. They are certainly a serious problem here in the US, where a kind of churchianity rather than Christianity is preached.

If Christianity today has little real power and appeal today, it's because much of Church leadership has ceased to obey the God they claim to adore.

The distinctions are often subtle and not easy to determine, particularly with new believers. But various 'new teachings' have permeated much of American Christianity, We have pastors in some denominations performing all manner of unbiblical acts.  We have pastors living like kings in multi-million dollar mansions and others preaching hate or close to it from the Pulpit. We as Christians must be discerning and not let ourselves be deceived by many of the deceiving spirits that have permeated mainstream churchianity. We must not allow ourselves to be fooled by these kinds of religious institutions or leaders. These are difficult times and as Christ and the apostles warned us, deceivers are out there in force for these are the last days.


Let us all keep in mind our heritage in Christ and our place in God's kingdom and what he expects of us all. One is holiness. The Strongs Greek word for it is Hagiamos.
G38
hagiasmos hag-ee-as-mos'
from 37; properly, purification, i.e. (the state) purity; concretely (by Hebraism) a purifier:--holiness, sanctification. see GREEK for 37

It is a state of purity and sanctification and it is a requirement for the saints. It is not an option. Was it not the Lord who said, be ye holy, for I am holy (1Pet 1:16)? This looks very much like a command to me.

What we must never, ever do is adopt a 'holier than thou' attitude, to put ourselves on some kind of spiritual pedestal, looking down on all of the 'sinners' around us as the Pharisee's were known for doing and Christ firmly rebuked them for it. True holiness recognizes that we are sinners and we are forgiven and must reject our sinful life of the past and embrace righteousness, holiness, humility, truth and peace in Christ. We must separate ourselves from those influences that defile us.


Well, I wanted to post something along these lines and felt led to do so this morning as our world slowly slips into madness and former pastors how openly proclaim their apostasy and rejection of Christianity to the world.

We must not catch the spiritual infection that is running rampant in the world today. This infection is hitting the Church as well and confusion rather than sound, biblically based doctrine these days reigns supreme in the 'pop culture' of the American Church.

Let us all take heed to ourselves. Deceit is everywhere and only a foolish man thinks he cannot fall victim to it.

Grace and peace to you all in Christ!

Brother Mark

www.markswatson.com



__________

This is now a Private Site!!

Most commentary these days is for a small select group of people.
 Those who want access can email me (below) read it carefully
and if I am accepting new insiders, you may request it.




This site categorically rejects partisan politics, racism, hate and ignorance.
Be Stupid And Evil Somewhere Else!