Saturday, April 30, 2011


Yesterday was the end of an era for me- after 23 years of doing broadcast radio- I thru in the towel. I have been on radio right from the early days of ministry. I started recording my messages even earlier. In those days everything was done on cassette tape. I watched the times change over the years as I would go to the local [regional] radio station to ‘drop off tapes’- geez- thousands of times.

I would notice how most of the other ministries were converting to C.D. [also now a dinosaur] and I was still using cassettes. I would often say to myself ‘John- don’t let the devil make you feel bad- you’re not behind the times’ and I would pop in my Styx 8 track on the ride back home [okay- fudged a little on this].

Anyway I had a system going where I would record the tapes and make high speed copies- the copies would get dropped off- the originals [masters] would not. This was just in case the station lost the program- or a tape broke- you would still have the original. Well as the times changed you couldn’t even purchase [have serviced] these old tape duplicators. As an independent preacher- someone who takes no offerings or receives any financial support [because of principle- way too much money involved in today’s church] I took the risk of just dropping off the originals- and every so often they would ‘get lost’ [I think one of the employees might have enjoyed taking them home to listen to- which was alright with me- it’s just I needed them back].

So over these past few years I did my best to try and solve the problem- it never worked. The station manager- a good friend- told me he would copy the tapes to C.D.’s if I wanted- I said yeah! He never got around to doing it. He then told me he would save the programs in digital format [they put them on computer] and I would be able to copy them that way.

So the other day I finally had him make a copy to my flash drive- at least I would have them that way. I realized they weren’t even playing the right tapes [using the older- out of order stuff]. Then when I got home I realized they did indeed ‘lose’ another tape- part of a series that if you lose one [like a bible study] it ruins the whole set.

So I went and picked up the last batch of tapes and told them that I was sorry- but I had to finally cancel the show. They gave me a break on cost- but I literally spent thousands of dollars over the years doing these broadcasts- it was time to move on.

So hopefully I will soon have a link on the blog where you will be able to hear the programs [simply on line]. I found out it’s a real pain to convert the tapes to Mp3 format- then to get them on the blog. I spent the whole day yesterday messing with it- I ordered the convertor you need to do it. Then I had to start a Host site- the blog does not have space for this- and now I think I will have to get another computer- I do all my work from a laptop- I think the cord for the converter will only work on a desk top.

As someone who is computer illiterate- for the most part- it’s frustrating to have to deal with it. Geez- just getting the Host site up took me forever. So being I was already feeling bad about going off the air- it was something I loved to do- I figured I would just get a quick News fix- in the background- as I’m trying to figure all this out on my laptop. Of course all the channels were showing the Royal Wedding- enough said.

I hate it when the news fixates on a story- or presents something silly- and they do it all day long. One time at the fire house- I was sitting there with a good buddy- we had the news on [the guys used to get mad- for real- I had the news on all the time] and sure enough the actor Lloyd Bridges died. So as I’m sitting there glancing at the screen- I tell my buddy ‘Gee Joe- you think they could show a more ridiculous photo of the poor man’- I mean they had a picture of him from one of the spoof Airplane movies- he had a towel sticking out of both ears- with a goofy face- making it look like the towel went thru his head- ear to ear.

Joe started cracking up. I mean the poor man’s grandkids were probably saying ‘why does grandpa have a towel in his head mommy’. I mean the man had a long career- lots of serious movies- no, CNN liked the towel picture.

So for today I think I will work on the on line format some more- I do have some programs already on computer disk- trying to convert them to the host site and add the link to the blog. So for those of you who are interested you should be able to hear us on line soon- no more radio. Talk to you guys later- John

Thursday, April 28, 2011


There’s a funny commercial running right now on the tube- you have this applicant walk in to a bank and the manager asks him some questions as he applies for a job. The boss says ‘so tell me about yourself a little’ and he begins by telling him his likes and all. One of the things he says is ‘O, I love my banks raise your rate C.D.’. The boss looks dumbfounded- he says ‘did you say you spent 8 days lost at sea?’ and the applicant tries to clarify- the boss says ‘did you say you wanted a raise ASAP?’ Again- the applicant tries to make himself clear. The boss says ‘did you say you love watching your neighbors watch T.V.?’ At this point the applicant realizes no matter what he says- the boss is ‘unable’ to hear the truth.

I think it was T.S. Elliot who said ‘you can’t convince a person to accept something- especially when their job depends on them not accepting it’. Recently I have mentioned the word Ecclesiology- it’s a ten dollar word that simply means ‘the doctrine of the church’- not what the church teaches- but the actual study of what church means. In the New Testament we see the church as meaning a community of people- a movement of followers if you will.

As a young kid who just started learning the bible I of course wanted to learn all I could. I joined a good Baptist church [independent] and I learned the hard and fast view of the local independent church. It was often taught that the actual church building is ‘the local church’. At first I simply accepted this- but it wasn’t too long before I had some serious doubts. At this time in history there are many, many ‘former’ pastors [and some present] who have honestly re-thought the entire system of what is commonly called ‘the local church’.

Today there are entire movements- schools- ‘church groups’ who have moved more closely to the biblical idea of ‘the church’. One of the big obstacles to ‘moving closer’ is the reality that many fine men [pastors] do depend on their jobs as ‘the pastor’ and this does create difficulty in rethinking the entire idea of church.

For instance- the New Testament teaches us that the church- at heart- is a voluntary community of people. Now, these people have elders, pastors, teachers, etc. who are part of the community. But in the New Testament these positions are not hired professionals who are ‘hired’ by ‘the church’ and put on a salary. Yet at the same time the bible does teach us to support those who labor among us in the gospel. Jesus says the laborer is worthy of his hire. Paul says no man goes to war at his own expense. These are all talking about supporting the Christian leaders among us [Priests, Pastors, etc.]

We also have Jesus teaching us that ‘freely we have received- freely give’ in context he was speaking about the spiritual gifts that God gives to us- they are not things to be sold- or charged for. So we see a balance in the bible- one side might ‘just see’ the parts they like- and so on [did you say you spent 8 days lost at sea?]

Overall God gives us leaders and teachers and pastors to help us grow and mature as believers. But many modern churches function more along the lines of ‘these people/members are here to give so much money- I carry out certain job requirements for them [weddings, funerals, etc.] and they come to hear me speak every week’. This is a very limited way to view church- it often works against the intended purpose of leadership- which is to eventually work yourself out of a job- that is the people become independent of you and they now lead others.

Overall these last 20 years many believers have seen these things in a greater way- there are lots of books and teachers who are now looking at the entire doctrine of ‘the church’ as seen in the bible- and the limited view [the building we meet at- the church as a lecture hall] is really falling away at a rapid rate.

It’s fine to ‘go to church on Sunday’ and to contribute money to the good work the churches do- it’s just we all want to learn along the way- and we don’t want to be like the bank manager who keeps hearing only what he wants to hear.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


It’s been a while since I’ve talked about my buddies at the fire house- so let me add a post to the legend.

Like I’ve said before- at the fire house we had a majority Hispanic group- as a White boy I was in the minority. Yet many of my best buddies were Mexican- and to be honest the fights/disagreements were hardly ever race based- we would joke about race- but when there were disagreements it was political [union stuff].

But yes- we would joke- lots. One day I was working with a white brother at the substation [called station 2]. There were only 2 of us on duty at that station- my friend has a white sounding name- he was a Yankee like myself who came south when his family moved here as a boy. I hear him on the phone one day- he was calling back to check up on a free credit card offer that some company kept calling him about.

You could tell that he really didn’t care that much about the offer- but they kept calling him [or writing?] to offer the thing. So as he’s on the phone I hear him giving his last name- he starts getting mad- you can hear it in his voice. He’s telling them ‘no- that’s not how you say my name- it’s $#@% not %$@#!’. They obviously mistook him for being Mexican- they were pronouncing his very white last name with a Hispanic slant.

Well, as he hung up the phone- you could see he was mad. I asked him ‘what’s up’ he of course knew it was too late to cover the incident up- so he tells me that the offer was only for Mexicans- even though they personally hounded him for months. I mean it was funny- I couldn’t stop laughing.

One more- Over the years at the fire house you do stuff to kill the monotony. So one year the guys got into doing arm wrestling competitions. Now- as a younger kid- in the earlier days at the fire house- I got into all sorts of competitions- pushups, chin ups, etc. One day one of the young guys comes up and says out of the blue ‘John- I heard you hold the dept. record for chin ups’. I mean I must have been around 45- I guess the record went back 20 years- I had no idea who held the record! But these legends pass down [I think I did 19 chin ups- according to the Lore].

So the younger guys are all competing with each other with the arm wrestling. Now I’m about 45 at the time and I really don’t want to enter the arena at this age- you know- like a George Foreman thing. But I’m finally persuaded and for some reason I wind up beating the top guy and get the title- it was funny- I would just show up to work and some young kid from another shift would just be there- waiting to challenge. I had a friend who would get a kick out of how the guys wanted to just challenge me out of the blue.

One day I walk in- and the other guy is just there- with his arm in the challenge position- like he was waiting all night for the big show. So as my buddy starts laughing ‘hey John- you got another challenger’ I walk over to the counter- and in about 2 seconds he goes down- I mean it was shameful to be honest. Even his buddy that put him up to it was mad ‘Darn Joe- you went down like a woman!’

So after a while the former champ- Mike- who was a top competitor- Mike weighed about 225, young kid, all muscle. He actually beat me a few times- and me him. It’s just the last time I won I would never give him a rematch. I mean he would beg for just ‘one more chance’. I would say ‘hey Mike- true champs don’t rematch at the drop of the dime’ and I would blow it off.

So one day- out of the blue- me and Mike are working at the sub station- and for some reason I walk into the dorm and say ‘Mike- today’s your day- let’s get it on’. I mean you could see the unbelievable joy in his face [which would soon turn to extreme sadness!] as he thought ‘here’s my chance to redeem myself’. So we sit down at the table and the match is on. Some days you have good days- others bad. So we get into this long match- maybe 20 minutes- and I finally do the surge- and I guess it was that 5th cup of coffee- but I could feel Mike going down. As he begins to give in- it was like slow motion- I look at Mike- and he has this extreme look of unbelief on his face- like after all these months of wanting the re match- he cant believe he’s blowing it- he just looks up and with a complete look of desperations says ‘OH NOO!’ And he goes down.

I felt bad for old Mikie- he waited a long time to redeem himself- and no redemption came. I of course gave Mike the same offer that I did with a few other buddies- I said ‘Now Mike- you know the guys are gonna have to find out sooner or later- either I tell them- and if I tell them- they will hear the whole story- the desperation in your eyes as you went down- the whole 9 yards- or you make the call to the main station and fess up over the loudspeaker’.

Mike saw the writing on the wall- in a way it was sad to sit there at the sub station- to hear Mikes voice over the loudspeaker ‘Guys- Mike’s calling from station 2- he has something to say’ and to hear the confession. Geez- if someone walked in off the street they must have thought ‘what does ‘John beat me again’ mean’? Yes- I must admit I enjoyed the thrill of victory- Mike of course would never challenge again- after a while all the challenges went away- it was me ‘the old guy’ holding the title once again- after all those years.

It was still funny to get the challenges from out of nowhere- guys you thought would never even care. One day I’m sitting in the captain’s office with the captain- a good 15 years my elder. I’m in there with my other buddy- the one who cracked up over seeing the challenges come from nowhere. We were laughing about the whole thing- how the younger guys were distraught over their losses- it was funny. All of a sudden- my captain- who has been hearing the stories for months- looks at me with a serious face- and says ‘you know John- I used to be a pretty good arm wrestler back in the day’ yes- I saw this look before- the look of courage- someone who has heard all the war stories and he thinks to himself ‘I know I can beat John’ Yes- I often saw this look- right before the arm went down.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


The other night I caught the classic movie/musical by Andrew Lloyd Weber- Jesus Christ Superstar. I remember seeing it as a kid [it came out in 73] and I remember that there was some controversy over it. The intro on the Classic channel also talked about the controversy. Whenever a movie comes out depicting the life of Jesus [The Last Temptation of Christ] there usually is some type of protest about it.

As I watched Superstar I saw a few scenes that Christians might see as problematic- but overall I liked it. The things that Christians usually protest are the scenes that show Jesus as a man- tempted the same way all men are tempted- by women! That is- some of the movies depict Jesus as getting too close to Mary Magdalene and even having slept with her.

Now- believers most definitely reject the sleeping part- that did not happen. But was it possible for Jesus [and Mary] to have ever been tempted to be in love? I think so- the bible clearly says that Jesus was tempted in every way, just like us- yet he never sinned [Hebrews, 1st John]. So what’s the big deal if one of the temptations- which he never gave in to- was falling in love with Mary?

The point being- we seem to feel uncomfortable with the biblical doctrine of Jesus being tempted at all- we prefer to overlook the verses that show Jesus was in a great struggle. In Psalms 22- the writer prophesies of Jesus- he says ‘deliver my soul from the mouth of the lion- I call to you from the horns of the unicorns’ it shows a sense of desperation- a sense of Jesus in the garden praying- sweating great drops of blood ‘if it’s possible God- let this thing go away!’

I went to church Easter morning- I on and off attend a mega church here in the city- it’s the 15th fastest growing church in the country [they like to let people know the numbers/statistics a lot] and they average around 7 thousand attendees every weekend. I like the church- it’s a good church. Now, it just so happened that they did mention statistics this day- I felt like they wanted to show the people what they were doing with the money- kind of justify giving to the church- all okay things. As someone who has been around the block- experienced and studied church doctrine [called Ecclesiology- the word Ecclesia is the Greek word for church in our bibles] I have seen how easy it is to view church from the standpoint of getting the right amount of people to ‘join’ so you could have the right amount of money to carry out the church’s mission. Often times the well meaning pastors are influenced by the peer pressure to meet certain criteria and they unwittingly descend into a numbers game ‘gee- if I can just get so many more- who ‘join’ [which means they give 10 % of their money to the church] then I could accomplish so much’.

In the New Testament days you had what was called ‘Oral Tradition’ that is many of the early churches spread the message of Jesus by word of mouth. After a period of time [around 15-30 years- depending on whose numbers you use] these Oral Traditions were put down in writing [the gospels]. You also read how the apostle Paul sent letters to the churches he was working with- and he would say ‘have this letter read among you’. Why not say ‘pass it around and let everyone read it’? There were many early believers who were illiterate- so you had a designated ‘reader-lecturer’ handle the job.

The point being- when you had an increase of people who wanted to hear the message [from Paul or anyone else] you did not have the messenger go out and build huge buildings so everyone in the town could cram in on Sunday and hear Paul [or Jesus]. Instead you had a natural growth take place as people spread the message- that’s how the church grew.

As someone who has written and said much about this over the years [read my section ‘What in the world is the church’] I don’t want to get into the whole thing today- just wanted to say we in the west like seeing Jesus as a famous person- a ‘superstar’ if you will- we like putting him on a stage and seeing him perform. We like it so much we try and emulate this very aspect of what we see as ‘ministry’. Jesus was a real man [and really God] who was tested like all men- he never sinned- but the tests were real. Today we see him seated at the right hand of the father- in his glory- but first came the tests.

Jesus told his men ‘you are the ones who stuck with me all thru the trials- you endured. Therefore I give to you a kingdom- just like I went thru trials and my father has given me a kingdom’. Yes- Jesus has acquired superstar status in the Western world- the American churches seem to focus on that aspect much- yet the psalmist- speaking for Jesus- said ‘save me my darling from the mouth of the lion- the bulls are all around me- my skin sticks to my bones- I am in torment and my soul is at the point of death- help me’ we seem to forget this aspect of the superstar.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


The other night I had a weird dream- 2 young guys showed up at my door. They rang the bell and as I opened the door one of the boys said ‘John, do you remember me’. Now- to be honest this has happened lots thru out my life. At the Fire House I would often show up for shift in the morning and the off going shift would say ‘John- one of your convict buddies stopped by yesterday’ [they eventually caught on that lots of the guys I worked with at the jail/prisons knew where they could find me when they got out- and they figured they would catch me at the Fire House].

So stuff like this has happened lots- and there are times when I simply don’t remember who the guy’s are- if you give a bible study 5 years previously- they might remember you- but you might not remember them. So in my dream I told the kid [around 19 years old] ‘to be honest I don’t really remember you- just a little’ [Yes- I admit at times I have said ‘yeah- I think’ just so I wouldn’t offend the brothers].

The boy tells me that I did indeed help him and he won’t forget it. So I fellowshipped a little while. Then the boy asks a strange request ‘John- will you draw me a picture’. Sure- it seemed like something a young boy would ask- but why not. So I drew a picture of the beach and us just sitting there- like Father and son- and he asked me to sign it for him. I gave him the simple request and he seemed like a little boy getting a present from his dad. He talked a little more and as he began to leave he told me his name. He said ‘I’m Texas Ruiz’. And he left.

As I woke up [around 3 a.m.] I didn’t think too much about it. As I started the coffee, getting ready to go in the yard to pray. I remembered who Texas Ruiz was. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I pray for the cases I see in the paper- or on the news- the severe cases of crimes that have been committed. I have a wall of names [around 30 or so] that I paint the names of these people on. They will forever be on my prayer list- so I try and pick cases where the criminal [or victim] has a long lasting result/penalty- so as I pray for them over the years they can benefit from it.

One of the cases was a local one- here in Corpus Christi. The stepdad called 911 and his stepson [around 1 year old] had died. At 1st they thought it was from some natural cause- then they found out the step dad abused the boy and he died from this abuse. I saw the boy on T.V. a lot- being it was local. As Protestants we usually don’t pray for the people who have died- but I actually have felt the Lord challenge me about this over these last few years- and I do pray for the victims sometimes, even though they are dead. When I saw the boy on TV I would just raise my hand towards him and pray that God would be with his soul- I felt real bad for the kid. I did this a few times over about a week. I felt like a ‘dad’ to the kid- just praying for him. The boys name was Texas Ruiz.

There is a verse in Ezekiel 37- God says ‘in the day I raise you up and bring you back from the dead- in that day you will know that I am God’. I wrote this verse down on an ongoing journal type thing- every week I add whatever verse/book I’m studying from- whatever I feel might be significant. So I stuck this verse on the top of the page. A few days went by and I wrote the dream on the same page- I felt it was significant so I wrote it down.

After a few days- while reviewing the page- I saw that on the top it said ‘in the day I bring you back from the grave’ and in the dream- yes one of ‘our people’ did come back- it freaked me out.

In John’s gospel, chapter 11, we read of the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus and his sisters- Martha and Mary- are good friends of Jesus. They lived in a little town named Bethany [the name of my oldest daughter] and for the Jewish people to openly embrace Jesus at the time- it was a sacrifice. Many of the religious leaders already had turned against Jesus.

So one day Lazarus gets real sick and the sisters send word to Jesus ‘Lazarus- your friend- is sick’. Now- Jesus is going all over the place- healing sick people- opening blind eyes- multiplying bread and fish. I mean the sisters must have thought ‘well- at least all the flack we’ve taken over openly befriending Jesus will finally pay off’. But when Jesus hears about Lazarus the bible says he purposefully waited 2 extra days before heading towards Bethany.

Now- after a few days Lazarus did indeed die. The sisters are mad- ‘wow- he healed all these others- strangers- yet no time for us’. When he gets to the outskirts of town Martha goes out to see him ‘Jesus- why didn’t you come? You could have prevented this from happening’. Eventually Mary says the same thing to him. Jesus tells them ‘I am the resurrection and the life’.

The sisters only saw Jesus thru the lens of ‘why didn't you fix the problem when it was still possible’ Jesus was saying ‘it’s still possible’. He was telling them ‘Just because the thing you thought I would do- in life- didn’t happen yet- I can still overcome the devastation that it has caused you’. Jesus of course will raise their brother- it becomes a huge miracle to the point where the religious leaders conspire to kill Lazarus too- because so many Jewish people begin believing in Jesus because of this miracle.

In Ezekiel 37 God told Ezekiel [and the nation of Israel] ‘in the day I bring you back from the dead- in that day you will know I am God’. Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. A real event that took place in time and has stood the test of historical examination [too much to cover right now- but take my word for it- the evidence is overwhelming].

Sometimes we are like the sisters of Lazarus- we expected God to prevent the disaster from happening ‘Lord- if you were here this would not have happened’. The test of faith is to continue to believe- even on the other side of the disaster. The problem with Mary and Martha was they felt like Jesus simply did not come thru in time- they heard all these great stories about how Jesus helped all these others- yet they sat at home- with a dead brother and a funeral to attend.

Today I want to challenge you- are you like the sisters? Did God not prevent the disaster from happening? Did he not do for you what he did for the others? You might not see the ultimate ‘healing’ until the resurrection- the ‘last day’- but be assured- in the day he raises you from the dead- you will know that he is God.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Got an email the other day from one of my old buddies who I haven’t heard from in a few years. He must have googled my name and found the blog site- it’s not hard to find me being my name is on a lot of the posts that I publish.

He was surprised to have heard that I retired; he used to call me up a lot over the years when I was at the fire house. We grew up together in N.J. and he was one of the friends I always kept in touch with. He told me that a mutual friend was still in prison [Rahway, N.J.] I told him ‘yeah- I know’ I have been writing him in prison ever since he first told me about it a few years back.

He finally sent me the ‘rap sheet’ I knew our friend was doing time for a serious offense, just never knew the whole story. As I read the link I pictured in my mind the whole scene. They pulled up to some house on 70 something street- late at night. The owner was a 73 year old salvage yard owner. My friend had done business with him being he too owned a trucking business. As my friend waited in the Getaway car- his cousin [who I also knew] and another guy go upstairs and knock on the door- he answers ‘who is it’ they reply ‘PSG & E’ [I guess the name of the utility co. in Jersey- I grew up in Jersey but never paid a utility bill]. The guy says ‘one minute’ and as ‘he’ unlocks the door they rush in- to find the cops waiting in the apt. They were set up.

The case showed how they had plastic restraints and duct tape and all the stuff you would need to kidnap someone. They basically were there to rob the guy- he supposedly had a safe with lots of money in it- instead they got busted. As I read the case- the wife’s testimony [I knew her since I was a kid too- they were together since ‘way back then’] I could hear her voice- reading my friends testimony- the story he came up with- I knew I was hearing my friend. It was sad- yet I felt like I was there.

One time this friend stopped by my house in Jersey ‘hey John- let’s take a ride to the shore’. Sure- where did you get the car? [Nice new Nova] ‘I found it- it was just sitting there with the keys in it’ sure enough I went. We had a few incidents take place where he owed me some money- one night I was at the carnival with another friend and I said ‘if I see so and so tonight- its over!’

Sure enough my friend spots him a little while later and I got into a severe fight with him. The next day I found out he had to go to the hospital and his family pressed charges against me- and his ‘biker friends’ [from Fort Lee- young guys- all our age] were gonna get me. I joined the Navy a few days later.

Over the years I always tried to ‘convert’ my buddies- the first time back after this incident [maybe a couple of years later?] I hooked up with these old friends- my one friend [geez- I don’t want to use their names] the friend that I didn’t get in the fight with- he said ‘John- so and so still holds a grudge, maybe you better not get in touch with him’ I just blew it off- we got together and nothing happened. I felt bad- he did have some scars from the incident a few years earlier.

I have always tried to stay in touch with these old friends- I have made lots of friends thru the years- guys who have gone to prison- involved in bad stuff- yet lots of them do actually get into the bible- seek God- and many of them do come around.

I have always had sincere friends say ‘John- maybe your taking too many risks by being around these guys’. I have had a few good friends tell me this recently about my friends contact with these Muslim groups on facebook ‘John- you never know if these guys are terrorists or what’ I hear them- yet the ‘risk’ of possibly having a ‘secret’ terrorist friend on the net- well that’s really not something I worry about- plus- these guys do read my posts, what more could I ask for?

I haven’t heard from my friend in prison for around 8 months now- he was real happy to write- he asked for some radio tapes from my programs- I sent him a bunch- he was grateful- shared them with the brothers in jail [the way my buddy was- always scamming someone- I wouldn’t put it past him to have sold the tapes!]. The charges against him were attempted kidnapping and robbery. They caught him because the plan was hatched with a biker gang out of the South Bronx [N.Y.] and they had an undercover informant in the gang. The gang are called the Chingalings, I saw an A&E special on them years ago- never knew my friend [or his cousin] were in the gang.

So anyway hopefully I’ll hear from him again- I saved the address [I used to never save the addresses of my friends who I wrote to in prison- I have been writing the brothers for years- teaching them stuff- one on one, like the blog- but I would simply get the address from the next letter- this time I thought I should save one of the envelopes- so sure enough I have his Rahway address- his prison number and all].

One time I got an email from a friend- a girl I grew up with- she read the blog and said something like ‘gee- I like the blog John- and I know you are always challenging us to go out and help people like you do- but I’m not like you- I can’t get with all these convicts’. I emailed her back ‘PLEASE- DON’T GET WITH CONVICTS!’ I had to explain to her that she shouldn’t take my blog challenges the wrong way- I never meant for the average homemaker to go out and meet with the Chingalings!

Yet I do try and challenge my old buddies- guys who have done time in prison- ex drug addicts and all- I do often tell them ‘hey guys- don’t forget where you came from- there are still others like you that need someone to go and take a chance on them- like I did with you’. All in all I’m sure God’s will will get done. Anyway it was good to hear from one of my old buddies- he’s not on Facebook- I searched for him when I first got on- I told him that would be the best place to keep in touch. Either way it’s important to make an effort- even if its small- to try and help out your friends- you might have to take some risks- but in the end it will be worth it.

Friday, April 22, 2011

[study] INSIGHTS FROM A REVOLUTION [Exodus] In February of 2011 there began to be uprisings in the Arab/Persian world- as of this date I am not sure how things will turn out- but I decided to document the events on my blog and to try and give some non violent advice to the protestors- the following posts grew out of this desire. NOTE- I will air this series in June/July of 2011 on KCTA radio.

[1591] CHRIS MATTHEWS ‘THE PANAMA CANAL IS IN EGYPT’!- Okay- this past week a lot has been going on in the world- I really wanted to title this post ‘we didn’t start the fire’ [Africa’s revolution] but the Matthews thing was too tempting. First- as I write- protestors are in the streets of Egypt- a popular uprising calling for the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. Why? The same discontent that we saw on the streets of Europe- low wages- a rich/poor caste system- and an overall economic rebellion- people do not want what they see as an unequal balance. These past few weeks the African continent has been in a sort of revolt; Tunisia and Ivory Coast want their ‘dictators’ out- Sudan overwhelmingly voted for independence from the north- and Egypt- the most stable Arab country in the region [though Egypt is technically the northern most country on the continent- it really is a major player in the middle eastern conflict- it borders Israel’s southern border] is in the middle of a popular uprising that no one expected. Egypt has the largest military in the area- has made peace with Israel- and has a proud history of a continuous rule dating back all the way to the Pharaohs- for this country to possibly fall into the hands of the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’- the other major political player in the country- this would not be good. Okay- why the title to this post? Last week- yes- Sarah Palin did it again- in a very short response to Obama’s state of the union speech- she criticized Obama for using the term ‘Sputnik Moment’ [it was very weird- to be honest- I’m sure the speechwriter has been removed from his job after this blunder]. And she kinda criticized Obama for pointing to the former Soviet Union as an example of ‘our moment’. So she says the Russians launched their space program –did beat us with the Sputnik satellite in the space race- we came back fiercely under good old J.F.K. and put a man on the moon. In the end we won the race- and the U.S.S.R. lost- plus they eventually bankrupted themselves with their soviet system. So in Palin’s quick response- I guess you could read it like she was blaming the Russian space program for their financial woes- but it just seems like she was making a legit criticism that using ‘the Sputnik Moment’ was way out in left field. Then of course Chris Matthews spends a few days seriously concerned about the intellectual criteria for the Tea Party crowd- I mean he asks whether or not they really need to go back to Elementary school and get educated- on and on- Bachman, Palin- etc. So as Matthews is covering the Egyptian story- yes- he talks about the importance of Egypt- and he says one of the major reasons that Egypt is so very vital- is because we ‘all know’ that the Panama Canal is located in Egypt. Okay- if you don’t know history/geography- we can forgive you- but when you spend a week critiquing the ‘low level of intellect’ of your political enemies- and do this- then you too need to take a few moths/years off and simply get an education. I mean it’s possible to not know the whole history of the region- but the PANAM CANAL- in Egypt- It’s the Suez.

[1592] EGYPT, ROUND 2- Wow, I haven’t posted in a few days- and what a few days it has been. The protests in Egypt have the world’s attention- the king of Jordan voluntarily replaced his govt. [he saw the ‘writing on the wall’ an actual biblical story of a finger writing judgment on a wall- announcing judgment on a real king who once lived in the area!] and other ‘quasi’ democracies are shaking in their boots. Okay- what’s happening? Of course you have various theories on what’s really going on. Some [Beck] see a behind the scenes move by the Muslim Brotherhood to institute a modern Muslim Caliphate- where all the Muslim/Arab countries in the region will eventually join together and attack Israel. There is no doubt that many militant Muslims would want this- yet it does seem like the initial reason for the protests is the reality that the younger generation of Egyptians, who have grown up under a corrupt regime- they are tired of being brutalized by the police and treated with disrespect by their own ‘president’. These Egyptians [some Christian] are wanting Egypt to move forward in the 21st century and to modernize their political process. The present ruler- Hosni Mubarak- took the reins after the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981. Sadat was the first leader of an Arab country to sign an actual peace treaty with Israel [1979] and it led to his killing a couple of years later. Mubarak was Sadat’s right hand military man- and he was elected [Egypt is a Republic- allows for elections- they’re not what you would call a Western Style Democracy]. He has since been ‘re-elected’ to office 5 consecutive times- most outside observers says these elections were rigged. Mubarak attempted to show that he was willing to allow for real elections in 2005- he ran against some nominal names- the real political threat was prohibited from running- and after the corrupt count was in- he won by some unbelievable percentage- and the politician who was deemed the biggest threat to Mubarak was put in jail. That’s the type of ‘Democracy/Republic’ they have. So after 30 years of this kind of rule- the younger generation is fed up. The human rights abuses in Egypt are also very high- the police regularly brutalize their people- and those who have tried to speak out about the abuse- they are retaliated against. Now- what questions should we in the West be asking? First- why have we been sending this country a billion dollars a year in aid? How many other ‘friends’ do we have like this? Countries whose leader is corrupt- yet they side with us politically [Egypt has been our number 1 ally in the Arab world when it comes to ‘peace in the middle east’] and because of these alliances we overlook the abuse of the citizens. Over the years we have tried to nudge Mubarak towards a more open/humane rule- yet he has never seemed to respond to ‘the nudge’. After a while- the U.S. needs to re-think it’s willingness to continue to turn a blind eye to the oppression that these leaders are inflicting on their own people. In the last post I wrote I mentioned how I ‘felt’ like I needed to write a post on Africa [Egypt is in Africa- the other African nation- Tunisia- seemed to spark off the Egyptian protests. The Tunisians began their protests first] I felt like the words/thoughts ‘Africa is on fire’ were running thru my mind for a few days- this was before these protests broke loose. Sometimes these ‘ideas’ are said to be ‘prophetic’ you know- Christian talk that normal people usually don’t use- so let me say- it seemed ‘strange’ that I had these thoughts a few days before the real fires broke out. As I was watching the news last night- my daughter sees all the fires in the streets of Cairo- I explained some of this to her- and I realized it was just a few weeks back that I kept thinking ‘Africa is on fire’. During the news broadcast a woman was asked what’s happening in her country- what does she blame the riots on- she said it was her generations fault [she was an older woman] she said for years the Egyptian people willingly turned a blind eye towards the corruption in their government- she said they sacrificed justice for stability- she said it was their fault that this happened. Sounded so ‘strange’ to hear her describe it like this.

[1593] EGYPT, ROUND 3- Okay, it’s been around 10 days since the protestors took to the streets- where are we at? If you listen to the right [Beck, Hannity, Rush] the narrative that you get is that Obama is blowing it- like Jimmy Carter did with Iran in the 70’s. Carter did not support the moderate Shah and instead we got the militant Iranian Revolution that set up a religious theocracy- one of the biggest enemies of the U.S. today. Is this accurate- is Obama throwing an important ally under the bus? Well- in a way- yes- but in another ‘way’ he really has no choice. It does seem like he initially sided with Mubarak- the first statements from the Whitehouse were sympathetic to the man- they did not call him a dictator and they seemed to be satisfied with the promise that Mubarak would do better in the future- not at all what the protestors wanted. As the days went by, it became obvious that Mubarak’s days were numbered and the president changed his tune- he needs to go- now. Okay- he has been behind the curve somewhat- doing the best he can. The right wing narrative- that Obama is really in cahoots with the Muslim Brotherhood- that’s a little much. Has he tried to reach out to them? Some reports say yes- but the reality on the ground is these guys will play some type of future role in the govt. so it seems likely that we will have to talk with them. Okay- what about the left’s narrative- yes- they too have one. Rachel Maddow- Chris Matthews- as advocates for the president- have actually mocked the theory that the radical Muslims want a ‘Caliphate’ [Becks new word]. Maddow ‘exposed’ Becks conspiracy theory as being nutty. First- we do need to remember, just because someone is paranoid- that doesn’t mean people are not really out to get you! I reject Becks narrative- but for any news person to not see the real danger in the radical Muslim groups- that they very much are positioning themselves to take advantage of the instability- then you are simply being ignorant of the real world. While I think the protests were probably not instigated by the radicals, yet there is no doubt that they would love to pull off a Caliphate- if they thought they could get away with it. In the end of the day it does look like Mubarak’s days are over- whether he hangs on until September or not- he is finished. Who will replace him? We don’t know- Mubarak and his new V.P. are speaking some truth when they say to the West ‘look- even if we wanted to transition right now- we can’t do it in a day’! They have warned Obama that to just walk away [like the president of Tunisia did the other day] would open the door to a radical revolution. I think there is some truth to this. Whoever takes over down the road- it is obvious that they will not be an ally like we had in the past 30 years. The majority of the Arab world will not support a strong support of the West and Israel- those days are over. The fear is this thing might domino- not only in the unstable African countries [Libya] but that it might grow to the Persian Gulf states. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, countries that were deemed stable because of their economies and wealth, these are now possible candidates for a revolt/revolution. It is possible that Yemen will fall- and Al Qaeda has a very strong presence in Yemen [remember the underwear bomber? He was trained in Yemen] if that happens- we will have another Afghanistan on our hands [when the Taliban ran the country]. So overall we don’t have a lot of say in the matter- if Mubarak seems to be on his way out- Obama can’t support him- because the new govt. would be our enemy from day one. To link the entire thing to some secret political motivation [going all the way back to Frances Pivin!] is loony, but to think that there is no real danger of an organized radical takeover in the region [call it Caliphate or not] is being naïve’ to say the least. As Christians we should be on the side of justice and equality and freedom- for everyone- yes even Muslims. We should reject ALL FORMS OF VIOLENCE to achieve these goals- and we should not ascribe hidden motives to our president- it’s legitimate to ask whether or not he’s doing the right thing- but to link his decisions to a past affinity to Islam- that’s going a bit far.

[1598] DON’T LOOK IN THE BOX!- Let me try and do 2 things today; a short ‘memorable’ truth that is in keeping with yesterdays spirit- and the current events in the Middle East [never got to this part-will do it tomorrow]

First- How many of you remember the Raiders of the Lost Ark movies- go ahead- raise your hand. Yes- those of you reading this- actually raise your hand if you’ve seen the movie- believe me there is a purpose to this. Okay- did you do it? Wow- see how easy it is to engage in stuff when no one’s looking? Well yes, in the bible there is a famous story about ‘not looking’- it has to do with the Indiana Jones movie. First [or 2nd?] the Ark in the movie comes from a real story in the bible about a box [Ark]. Sometimes people confuse the Ark of Noah with this Ark- I heard Keith Olberman [one of my favorite liberals- now with Al Gore’s channel, Current TV] mocking someone- and in his mocking he talked about all the animals that might fit into the ark- the problem was the person he was mocking was talking about this Ark [small box] not Noah’s! Okay- in the book of Exodus we read the famous story of Moses delivering the children of Israel out of bondage [okay- what country was it again? O that’s right- Egypt- wonder of this is significant today? A stubborn dictatorial leader- ruling Egypt- who can’t seem to read the writing on the wall- guess not] and as they flee Egypt they do the Red Sea crossing and they wind up spending 40 years wandering in the wilderness because of their unbelief [too much to explain right now]. So- during their journey they get the 10 commandments and God sets up a tent [tabernacle] system that consists of this small little building surrounded by a fence and in this little room/building there is this box [Ark] that holds the 2 tablets of the 10 commandments. This box is covered with gold- has 2 angel statues on each side of the lid and the lid covering the box is called ‘the mercy seat’. Now- this ‘seat/lid’ is actually the altar that the high priest puts the sacrificial animal blood on once a year [Day of Atonement] to cover the sins of the people. In a nutshell- the lid on the box allowed a holy God [represented by the 10 commandments- his character revealed in this symbolic way] to dwell with sinful man- because the lid ‘atoned/covered’ the sins of the people- allowing God [in the box] to dwell with the people. Got it? That’s the Ark of the Covenant- the box in the Harrison Ford movies. Now- the movies tell the story about Indiana trying to find this ancient artifact- because it is said to have this awesome nuclear like power. Is this true? No. The idea comes from the bible [1st Samuel chapter 6] one time the box was taken captive in one of the battles- during its return to Israel [another long story] it winds up in this area where the people look in the box and the bible says 70,ooo people died [some bible versions say 70 people]. Wow- why did this happen? The lid covered the sins of men- once you take a peek- lift the lid- you have removed the only covering that man has for his sin- Gods holy character [the tablets] meets mans sinful one- obliteration. That’s the story- not some secret nuclear device. In the New Testament book of Hebrews [chapter 9] the same word used to describe the lid [mercy seat] is mentioned again in connection with the Cross of Christ. In the book of Romans [chapter 3] Jesus is said to be ‘the propitiation for our sins’ this is the same word- from the Hebrew language to the Greek [Old Testament story was written in Hebrew- New Testament in Greek] for ‘Mercy Seat’ so what’s the story? The lid on the box represents the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross for all men- it’s because of Jesus that God can once again dwell [the same word for Tabernacle- the whole tent system I just described] with men. The language used to speak about the Incarnation [God becoming man in Jesus] speaks about God dwelling [tabernacling] with men- in a very real way the box also represents the humanity/Deity of Jesus- it was made out of wood [a type of flesh] yet covered with gold [a type of divinity]. So Jesus is the covering [actually for you theologians the New testament sacrifice of Jesus does more than cover- it removes- but this post is supposed to be short!] and if you try and approach God without the ‘lid on’ you get creamed- got it? Now you can tell your kids the real story behind the box- and O yeah- someone let Keith in on the secret! P.S. for all of you who raised your hands- please send me an email- you’re the type we want for mailing lists! J

[1599] DAY OF RAGE IN EGYPT- Okay- I have been holding this story back for 2 weeks- it’s been reported primarily thru the financial shows [cnbc, Bloomberg] The only cable news guy that I saw cover it was Dylan Rattigan [MSNBC]. The story is that this administration made real decisions that have added to the very real discontent and rage that we are presently seeing in the world. I was waiting to see how long it would take before Rush, Beck or Hannity would catch on- as far as this morning they have not. A few months back this administration sat back as the Federal Reserve [Yes- I know there supposed to be independent] printed 600 billion dollars of new money. We were in a dispute with China’s fiscal policy- they are keeping their Yen low, artificially, and we wanted them to stop manipulating their currency. Why? When one country [a major trade partner] does this- that makes their goods cheap and ours more expensive. We already have a huge trade imbalance with China, and this makes it worse. So China ignored our pleas [a common response from more nations as the days go by] and Ben Bernanke- the Fed. Chairman announced we would print 600 billion dollars- just make more money! Now- many economists warned that if you do this- you will be creating lots of ‘fake cash’ and this money will flow into commodities- in essence this policy can cause the food prices to increase dramatically on the world market- creating an atmosphere of unrest through the world. Just yesterday I read in the business section how food prices have soared on the global market. Some of it has to do with the clean energy policies of this administration [yes- again]. Over these last few years many environmentalists have pushed Ethanol [corn for fuel]. Al Gore has since come out and publicly admitted that they [the environmentalists] have made a major mistake in doing this. Why? We have found out that in the production process of the fuel- it still creates a huge amount of pollution- factors we didn’t know at first. Second- this new demand for corn has drastically raised the price of corn on the world market- corn is one of the major factors for food prices- not just because we eat it- but it is a major source of feed for Cows, Chickens, etc. in essence this policy [introducing corn as fuel into the world markets] has drastically increased world food prices- which is one of the major reasons for the protests going on both in Egypt and the world- yes many countries have stated that they are actually starving over this- they make a couple of dollars a day, their price to eat has gone up drastically- and many protestors have taken to the streets because of this. Ben Bernanke was asked about this point blank by a reporter- he denied the logic. This story is very real- it is not the conspiracy theories that we are hearing in the conservative media- it is a very real prediction that was made by moderate financial gurus- they said these policies would cause real inflation that could create instability in the world- they were indeed correct. The U.S. supply of corn is at its lowest in 15 years, the projected orders for corn this year have risen 8 %- to 13 billion bushels. We are estimated to have a reserve of 675 million bushels by august [when the harvest begins for corn] that’s about 5 % of all the corn that will be consumed- the lowest levels since 1996. Corn prices have doubled in the last 6 months- from $3.50 a bushel to $7.00. We have made global decisions, based on certain ideological views- that have indeed caused people to die- for real. Now- the Egypt crisis. I was shocked to hear Mubarak’s speech yesterday- I thought he was stepping down [as did Obama] and instead he shoved it in their faces. The Egyptian leadership has told us, in public, to bud out of their country. The Saudis have told Egypt they will replace the billion dollars of annual foreign aid if the U.S. threatens to stop the aid. Mubarak and Suleiman have told the U.S. news [cable] coverage to bud out. And right after the speech- Chris Matthews from MSNBC says on the air ‘I guess he’s telling the protestors they are going to have to kill him’ this man needs to be pulled off the air- immediately- before he starts world war 3 [no joke]. Obviously we have had lots of missteps, president Obama has very much mishandled things- you do not send Robert Gibbs out to the media to say ‘he needed to go- yesterday’ this nation [as well as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq- yes, why are the media not covering the actual street protestors in Iraq- protesting the guys we installed!] these nations are going to do all that they can to maintain power- the worst one of all- Iran- was the only one that got a free pass when their citizens protested in the streets! Yes- of course we have blown it- lots. Having said all this- we as a nation need to back the democratic process for all these people. They have been abused by tyrants- killed- limbs chopped off- secret govt. police coming to your door at midnight- taking you away never to be seen again- we need to side with the people- these protests are not about radical Islam- they are people starving- living in oppression- desiring to be free- it’s a travesty to the highest degree that we [both Democratic and Republican presidents] have been in bed with these tyrants for all these years- the chickens are coming home to roost- and it’s time for some national repentance.

[1600] YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION? YOU GOT IT. Okay- history was made yesterday- on the exact anniversary of the Iranian revolution [that didn’t work out so well]. First- I’m glad the people in the square prevailed- I’m on their side and stand in solidarity with them. There are already a few other Facebook pages popping up- DAYS OF RAGE for other countries who are seeking to capitalize on the mood of revolution in the air- it looks like we might really be living in historic times. These events could very well be the defining moment of this century- that which historians will look back on and see as momentous- a defining time. Are there dangers? Yes. There are always dangers when Revolution happens- honest [and dishonest] people on both sides- we [the U.S.] are children of Revolution- if any nation should support these revolts- it should be us! We had dissenters during our season of revolt- some preachers/Christians sided with England- they felt like it was disobeying the bible to ‘Revolt’- there are bible verses that say ‘obey your earthly rulers- listen to the kings and governors- don’t rebel’. Now- that sure does sound problematic if you’re a believer on the revolting side. The apostle Paul wrote this, not under Western Style Democracy- but under Imperial Roman Rule! [ in his letter to the church at ROME!] So how do we join the spirit of freedom and popular revolution with this? Jesus obviously rejected violent revolt [those who live by the sword will die by it] yet he was not against challenging the authorities of the day- non violently standing up to corrupt leaders- and yes- instituting a new revolutionary kingdom- one that would overthrow the ‘kingdoms of this world’ [ The Kingdom of God]. I mean you can’t escape the imagery of revolt and kingdom and righteous dominion [rule] this is the heart and soul of the Kingdom of God. Problem? Well yes- at times [like in our day] many Christians misunderstand the purpose of the Kingdom of God- they [in my view] place too much emphasis on the geographical area of the Holy Land- they develop scenarios that pit Arab/Muslim nations against Israel- and they read the very real Old Testament prophecies thru a lens that says ‘this is God’s word- this ethnic group [Jewish] should posses this area- and this other ethnic group [Palestinian] should get out’. I think when we see the purpose of God and his kingdom thru this lens- we err. But the reality is the bible and the message of Jesus are one of true revolution- peaceful- but revolution nonetheless. The verses Paul wrote are indeed scripture- and they were real practical advice given to the fledgling church in the 1st century- Paul did not want the nascent church to get a reputation of being political rabble rousers- you had what were called Zealots at the time- Jewish political activists who advocated violent overthrow of Roman rule from the Jewish land- and Paul [and Jesus] rejected this idea. So I think if we read the basic instructions from Paul and see the context of the time- that yes- a political revolt was not what the early church needed. But what we are seeing in our day is a possible major realignment of the nations in the Arab [and Persian] world. We are seeing people who have been oppressed by religious theocracies- these people have every right to rebel- to non violently go to the streets and stand in protest to the dictators who have ruthlessly oppressed them for years- these rebels are not criminals- they are non violent protestors who are speaking truth to power- much like what Jesus did. Now- where next? I think we need to do Iran again- I think the president [Obama] thinks this too. Yesterday as he gave a speech after the historic events in Egypt- he spoke to the leadership of Iran and told them ‘let your people also freely protest in your streets’. Now- that message is saying ‘you guys are also gonna fall’- do you really think the Iranian madman thinks ‘well- maybe if we let the people protest- that’s all the president meant’ c’mon- if we thru Mubarak ‘under the bus’ [I’m glad he’s under the bus] there isn’t a snowballs chance in Hades that The mad man from Iran will get a free pass. So yes- lets support all the days of rage that are popping up- lets be on the side of freedom from tyrants and U.S. puppets- the Arab street is smart- they know much more than we give them credit for- and yes- there will be a danger from radical Islamist elements- we should make a distinction between violent and non violent Muslim groups- but even groups like the Muslim Brotherhood that have rejected violence- we should still be aware of their goal- they do indeed advocate for religious rule and we need to say ‘yes- we honor your principled stance against violence- yet we reject any religious theocracy- whether it be Christian, Jewish, Muslim- we want freedom and rights for all people- regardless of their religion- and we do not support your goal- even if you want to achieve it thru non violence’. Where next? IRAN.
[just a note- as I’m presently studying Marx and Freud and other thinkers- Marx himself rejected God because he felt like the religious rulers would use these types of ‘non revolt’ teachings to keep the people suppressed- Marx’s problem with God came thru this economic challenge- the masses were unwilling to revolt against economic oppression because religion was being used as a tool to keep the people under. I think in the beginning Marx meant well- saw the oppression of people and saw how rulers used religion to control people- too bad he couldn’t read this post]

[1601] PHARAOH- KING OF EGYPT- I had an interesting experience yesterday- as I was doing the early morning prayer routine [I get up at around 3-3:30 and do about a 2 hour prayer time- I walk in my yard and cover a bunch of things- world situations, natural disasters, war areas- etc.] I got to a spot where I pray for world leaders. I start with president Obama and his wife and kids and then pray for world leaders. At one point I pray for all those in authority who are Christians- I ask the Lord to give them wisdom- help them make right decisions- I also pray for non Christian rulers- I don’t pray ‘against them’ I ask the Lord to also help them to rule justly- to not oppress their people. Then I pray for a 3rd category- let me quote it to you ‘Lord- for all those in authority who are persecuting believers- those who rule oppressive regimes- I ask that you would remove them for these positions and replace them with just leaders- and until that happens- that you would be glorified in them like you were with the rebellious leader of Egypt- Pharaoh’ the thing that surprised me was the realization that the only nation I mention every time I pray [besides the U.S.] is Egypt. The other nations get mentioned [Iraq- Israel- Palestine- etc.] but only as world events would warrant it- but Egypt is actually part of the prayer format. Now- I’m not saying that Egypt ‘fell’ because of my prayer- but it kinda did freak me out a little. Okay- in the last note we ended with Iran. In the past few days there have been uprisings in Yemen, Algeria [formally a colony of France- they too have been independent for around 30 years- yet many of these nations have not translated into Democracies], certain Persian Gulf states [Bahrain] and there are a number of nation/states that are foreseeing trouble [the more stable wealthy gulf states- United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia- are taking preventative steps to ward off any massive demonstrations- many of these countries are flatly handing out one time cash benefits as a sort of early tax return- geez- they are blatant about buying off the people.] So how are the Revolutions doing? Remember- the 1st domino to fall was the African nation of Tunisia [remember- Africa is a continent- so the nations/states in her are separate ruling governments] these past few weeks many thousands of refugees have fled Tunisia by boat and have landed on a port city in Italy. Italy is having major disruptions trying to deal with the crisis. Of course they are dealing with problems of their own- let’s see- what’s the big scandal story in Italy? Oh yeah- Berlusconi paid an underage Moroccan girl for sex. I remember watching the news a month or so ago- as the Italian leader was dealing with all his ‘girl’ scandals- he comes out and says ‘hey- it’s better than sleeping with the gays’. I guess their level of political correctness is a little different than ours. And for Egypt it’s too soon to tell how well the Revolution will end up. Now- at the same time we had the Taliban attack the police in Afghanistan- killing 18 people. There was one protestor killed in Iran- and the news media showed full coverage of the body- top of the world news- yet a few weeks ago while reading the paper- I read a story of 51 people killed by a suicide bomber right outside of Baghdad [Iraq], the next day I read the story again- the headlines were the same- the same amount of people killed- I thought they accidently ran the same story twice- as I read the article it wasn’t the same story, it was indeed the 3rd batch of more than 50 people killed in suicide bombings in 3 days. They said how in the last few weeks many hundreds were killed in these attacks- many more hundreds injured- yet not one top news media story- I found this story hidden on the back pages of the paper in a very obscure spot. Why? Is it because the media ran with the recent celebration of the so called end to our war in Iraq? I remember how MSNBC [yes- Matthews again] spent 3 days trying to make it sound like the end of WW2 – nobody bought it. So the media does pick and choose what they will run with. I’m glad they are covering the protestors- and I’m glad they covered the 1 person killed in Iran [even though they weren’t even sure who killed him] but we need to be very aware of the role the media plays- for them to have ignored 2-300 hundred suicide deaths in Iraq- because they want to show us a particular picture [war is over- let’s celebrate] and to have showed 1death as top major news in Iran- well you get the picture [I hope!] Yes- it’s too soon to tell how the Revolutions will turn out- Tunisia is a mess, and Egypt has a long road ahead of them- and yes- Berlusconi has his problems too. Lets pray for the nations, mention them by name- who knows- maybe one day you will wake up and say ‘geez- I’ve been praying for the removal of corrupt Pharaohs in Egypt for years- and sure enough he ‘got removed’.
NOTE- When the media tried to ‘spin’ the end of the war in Iraq- they showed their obvious bias in the way they reported the story under one president [Obama] versus the other [Bush]. What happened in Iraq was we left 50 thousand ‘non combat’ troops in the country [who by every account- even a local boy who is serving their right now wrote in our editorial- have said our guys are still engaging in combat on a regular basis]- we are building the world’s biggest ‘embassy’ in the country [it has been described as a giant permanent military base] and the uptick in attacks from the enemy have gone up- their country just installed one of the most outspoken enemies of the U.S. in their official govt. and like I said we just had hundreds of innocent people blown apart by suicide bombers in just a few days. During the Bush years- a single death with a burned out vehicle made national headlines- top story for days- showing all the various positions of the vehicles that were blown up- the Democrats regularly questioned the competence of the president- publicly stating that the wars were lost [Harry Reid] and accusing the president of willfully lying- in public- and being responsible- personally- for the deaths of both Iraqi innocents and American boys and girls- yes- senator Kerry went around the country- publicly saying ‘Bush lied- your kids died’. Now, none of this was seen as ‘raising the level of discourse too high’ the media did not freak out about any of this- a movie even came out called ‘the assassination of George W Bush’ the media did not roundly condemn this, not in the same way they spent weeks covering the ‘target’ story from Sarah Palin’s political sight. Can you imagine them not covering the story of a right winger who produced a movie called ‘the assassination of Barak Obama? Nor were the presidents enemies blamed for lowering the discourse and allowing stuff like this to happen. When a certain Democrat was asked ‘do you think it’s wrong that you described the president as an idiot in public’ he said ‘he is one’. The point being this same media- when Joe Wilson said ‘you lie’ some actually said this statement was so dangerous that it put the president’s life at risk [because it lowered the bar of respect]. Now- even though I agree with the need to stop using all this type of language- the point I’m making is the media has an agenda- even if it’s not a ‘secret’ underground thing [like Beck thinks]- never the less they report more favorably about a situation if they like the president- they report more negatively if they don’t. For the media to have reported the ‘end of the war’ in Iraq was a joke- and to have not even covered the hundreds who were just killed- while making 1 death in Iran the top news story- this too is a joke.

[1602] REVOLUTION- NOT ANARCHY! As of last night many streets in the Arab world are experiencing protests- Iran has launched 2 battleships to head towards Syria [right off the coast of Israel] and there are reports of oil prices spiking because of the unrest. These last few weeks I have been reading thru some chapters in Exodus- the book that records the historic liberation of Gods people from Egypt. Those of you who are bible readers will remember that the initial cause for revolt was actually an economic injustice; the children of Israel were under the oppressive regime of Pharaoh and they were grumbling about the poor economic conditions- the leader heard their ‘protests’ and he oppressed them more! He required them to produce more bricks and mortar [for the building of his own wealth] and yet they were to do this from the same amount of natural resources they had all along. In many of these states where the protestors have taken to the streets- they survive on 2 dollars a day- or less. These same people are now required to survive off of the same measly amount- even as the cost of food soars- many of them are indeed going hungry- for real. In the biblical story God sends them Moses [a type of Christ] and as you know Moses confronts unjust authority and the people revolt. Now- one of the key ingredients to a successful ‘revolt’ is a just constitution! God gives them the 10 commandments [rules on treating each other justly- and loving God] at the start of their journey- they will eventually conquer the Promised Land and grow as a society- yet the rules of the game were laid out early in the revolt. What do I think is happening right now? I believe our people [the president and U.S. govt.] are seeing these revolts as the major danger in the world right now- the level of world instability has not been like this in many years- the news media have tried to ‘manipulate’ the environment. After CNN and a few others chose to hone the cameras in on the thousands of protestors in Egypt’s square- yet they initially would not show/report the thousands who were revolting in Iraq. Why? They obviously want to push the narrative of ‘change’ in one place- while pushing the narrative of ‘Obama ended the war and all is well’ in another. The reality is there are major dangers taking place in the world right now- do I think Iran wants to invade Israel? To be honest- yes. What? All these leaders are shaking in their boots- from ‘the shores of Tripoli’ [Quadaffi] to the ‘kings’ of Bahrain. I assure you- if the protestors topple the Iranian leaders- it will not be a ‘peaceful’ exodus to some vacation spot [like Mubarak did] it will be Saddam Hussein all over again [strung up in the streets- or on TV]. Now- do you think the Iranian madman would attack Israel as a last ditch effort to save his skin? You bet ya! [Okay- too much Palin]. Remember- before all the recent developments- there were some major movements in the Middle East that spelled danger for Israel. For years they faced opposition on their northern border from Lebanon. For many years Hezbollah was a political force in the area- for the first time ever they recently elected someone from Hezbollah to high office- deposing the former leader. In the south and on the West bank there was also lots of turmoil right before these revolts took place. The leader of the Palestinians came under tremendous pressure because the Wikileaks ‘leaks’ revealed that Abbas [Palestinian leader] agreed with Israel to kill some Hamas leaders [Hamas is the radical pro Palestinian group- branded as terrorists by Israel and the U.S.] When the leaks got out there was rage in the streets- the chief negotiator [Saeb Erakat] had to step down. So all these events were seen as major threats to peace in the region- add to that the fall of Egypt- and the current uprisings in the other Arab/Persian states- yes indeed- we have not seen a time like this since our world wars [yes that’s strong- I do believe this to be true]. Okay- should we be afraid? No. How should we view the young people who are the primary demonstrators on the streets? I think it would be a mistake for the older generation [especially in the West] to view them all as potential terrorists- remember- Iran wouldn’t be sending her ships to Syria unless they too felt like they needed to hedge their bets. So we want to hear the cries of the younger generation- people who have felt oppressed for years- who were told ‘make do with the same resources- yet make it go further’ these people have indeed been wronged in many ways- many of them feel this is their only chance to ‘escape’- and finally- the advice to the protestors- you need a ‘law’ constitution- a statement of just principles that you will hold each other accountable to- maybe an ‘on line’ statement of beliefs to go along with the ‘days of rage’ that are being posted on facebook- some type of open rejection of radical terrorism and holding accountable those who would like to ‘hijack’ the protests for their own purposes. It’s really too late for the West to say ‘okay- we liked the Egypt thing- but now we want to hold up on the rest’. It’s so sad- right after the Egyptian uprising- news organizations like CNN and others- who were actually ‘parties’ to the success of the revolt [yes- watch carefully and you will see] they then ignored the other protests and were headlining their shows with the Grammy winners- yes- whole hours of not mentioning any of the other protests. Or MSNBC making the stop story about Rumsfeld or how 50 % of the Republican primary voters think Obama is a Muslim- I mean a whole hour on this stuff? The media do ‘play the fool’ lots. Just a note- in some nations there are actually protestors [not govt. cronies] who are protesting against the ‘protestors’- that is some more stable economies [Bahrain, Qatar, etc.] many of these nations- though not democratic- have ‘shared the wealth’ with the people- many successful businesses thrive in some of these countries- these more stable people do not want the Egypt revolt to spread- some have pointed out [very legitimately] that when the media focuses the cameras of the world on a few hundred- or thousand protestors- they need to remember that there are many millions who are not protesting [the population of Egypt is 80 million- some did not want revolt] so the media has to be careful that they are not showing the wrong ‘narrative’ in some of these places. All in all- the cats out of the bag- some regimes are indeed going to shoot their protestors- others will try and start a war with Israel- yes- these are very serious times. Lets pray for the safety and freedom for all people- when the children of Israel were under an oppressive regime- the bible says God heard their cry and sent them a deliverer- the New Testament says Jesus is the ‘Moses’ of this day- even Gandhi used the non violent principles of the Sermon on the Mount to have a successful revolt- I hope the present protestors will do the same.

[By the way- in many of these present revolts the citizens are revolting against the autocrats who were installed after their countries broke away from their colonizers- like India from Britain- yet they never transitioned into real democracies]

[1603] WEEK IN REVIEW [MEDIA BIAS] - Okay, this past week has been big- lots of very important stories. Some ‘news’ outlets present the most favorable view possible- others seem to play into the fears of ‘the West’. Yesterday I read a news paper article- now understand- this is supposed to be straight reporting. The story was about 4 people shot to death as they were protesting in Bahrain- the jist of it went like this ‘as the protests grew out of hand- the govt. increased resources to deal with the unrest- as a result of the govts. attempt to restore order- 4 people died’. Now- out of all the nations that are ‘falling’ Bahrain just might be the most strategically important one for the U.S. We station our ships their [5th fleet- Persian Gulf] and they are a small- yet very important ally. When you have 1 death in Iran- or 20 in Libya- the papers report it as ‘the regime killed innocent people in cold blood’ yet when the media organizations [Associated Press- or whoever] actually try and present an important ally as ‘noble’ when they do the same thing, then they are nor reporting the news in a fair way. This week we had the school teachers protesting in Wisconsin- the newly elected Republican governor has the majority in the state senate/house and he is trying to balance the state budget- and he is wanting to eliminate collective bargaining- except for salary negotiations- in the state [exempting the cops and firefighters]. Okay- as a retired firefighter- who still gets the monthly magazine from my union [international association of firefighters] I see their point- yet as the teachers have taken to the streets to protest- you have seen pictures of the governor [Walker] as good ole Hitler- posters of his face and Mubarak’s together- ‘get rid of the tyrant’ and even a poster of the governor in actual RIFLE SCOPE CROSSHAIRS- saying ‘reload’. Now- we just went thru a few weeks [in the Western media] of CNN- MSNBC- ABC- NBC- CBS- ETC. associating the use of the word ‘target’ and using crosshairs on a political web site- as being possibly responsible for the shooting of rep. Gifford’s in Arizona- yet the same media who were outraged over Palin- seem to be fine with the union protestors actually saying ‘reload’ with an actual scope sight on the Republican governors face. So you pretty much have to be blind to not see the bias. Even Diane Sawyer- in her coverage of Bahrain- showed a scope target over the country as they ‘zoomed in’ for the story- I mean they just can’t help themselves! Now- on a more serious note- as Anderson Cooper [CNN] made it his own personal vendetta to go after Mubarak [you know they beat Anderson up] as he was portraying the govt. as evil [in many ways they were] yet at the same time- we now know that 200 protestors [people Anderson gave ‘cover’ to] were raping Lara Logan- a reporter- in the crowd. As they raped her they shouted ‘Jew- Jew’. This must be condemned by everyone- in no uncertain terms. It should be noted that she was rescued by the women on the street along with the military [the same military that Cooper was vilifying on screen at the same time]. Problem? Like I said before- very rarely does one side take all the blame- or another side all the credit. I think it’s important for Western society to realize that there are over a billion Muslims in the world- and lots of us view them thru the paradigm of ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ or the Iranian madman- yet in many of these Arab/Persian nations- there are lots of younger generation people who also reject these stereotypes- you have many of the younger generation who have connected with the outside world thru social media and many of them do not fit the mold of radical terrorist. Yet some of these younger people do hold to beliefs that Sharia law should be the law of the land- or some of them have very anti Semitic views that were instilled in them thru their ‘religious’ education -they are taught that Jews are pigs and dogs- we can’t simply overlook the racial hatred that is found in many of these societies- and we must say ‘NO- NOT ACCEPTABLE- YOU CAN’T KEEP DOING THIS AND AT THE SAME TIME EXPECT US TO RESPECT YOU’! So, we need to be honest and fair on all sides- If a govt. we need/like kills it’s people- then don’t report it as ‘ accidental collateral damage’ while a govt. the media doesn’t like says ‘they killed them in cold blood’. If a reporter is miffed because he got his ‘butt kicked’- then don’t present the whole story as the military are all evil- protestors good- especially when some of the protestors are raping a female reporter while shouting ‘JEW- JEW’ and the military are the ones who saved her! I want to take the side of the younger people- who do indeed feel oppressed and beaten down- many of these Arab regimes have been repressive- yet the younger people must openly reject anti Semitism- religious theocracy- they must disassociate themselves from the image that many in the Western world have- when we in the West see the Iranian president appealing for the return of the 12th Imam- calling for the slaughter of the Jews- we see a true nut job who we want nothing to do with [as many other Arab leaders also feel- we now know thanks to Wikileaks]. So the younger protestors have a chance- a chance of a lifetime- to show the West that you reject radicalism- and when an atrocious incident happens on the side of the protestors- one that should have been roundly condemned- LOUDLY- then we in the West need to hear it.

[1604] IS IT POSSIBLE TO PROTEST TOO MUCH? A couple of days ago I started teaching the story of Moses and God’s delivering of his people from Egypt- I talked about the Ark of the Covenant and the fall of Pharaoh- try and go back and read those posts- and for the next few days I want to simply tell the story found in the book of Exodus [Old Testament]. In Exodus chapters 15- 16 we read the story of the great deliverance of God- in the previous chapters the people were under bondage to oppressive rulers [much like the autocratic rulers in the Arab/Persian world right now] and the people cried/protested and God heard them and he sent them new leaders [Moses] and this new leadership was needed in order for the old guard to pass away. Now- as they proceed on the journey the first spot they come to is a place named Marah- which means bitterness [present day Suez canal area]. They traveled for 3 days and found no water- and at Marah there is water- but the water is bitter, it’s not fit for human consumption. So they complain and Moses finds a stick/tree branch and puts it in the water and the waters ‘are healed’. In Christian teaching this branch is a symbol of Christ [who the bible calls the true vine- also the apostle Peter calls the Cross ‘the tree’] and the symbol means that when people believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ- in a spiritual way the ‘waters are healed’ [people are brought back to God thru the Cross]. The next spot they get to [Elim] has plenty of food and good water. Now- as they continue on the journey they begin missing the old stability they had under the old regime [Pharaoh] they start to complain against the new leaders and say ‘you led us out on this journey- now we have no good food like the old days- we will all starve out here- we wish we never protested’ wow- talk about rebels! Okay- Moses gets mad too- thinking to himself ‘man- I never asked for this- and now I’m supposed to put up with this’ [sort of like some of the leaders who have had to fill the gap after Mubarak fell- some of these guys- being prodded by the U.S. govt. are being asked to keep the peace until they can transition into a new Democratic rule]. God answers Moses and tells him he will send them meat and bread- God supernaturally causes a bunch of Quail [birds] to blow into the camp and they have lots of meat- and in the morning when they woke up there was this wafer type bread that was on the ground. The bread is called ‘Manna’ which actually means ‘what is it’. God fed them for 40 years with this ‘unknown’ bread- and he tells Moses to put some in a jar and save it as a memorial of Gods provisions. Eventually this jar with the bread in it will go into the box [the Ark I wrote about a few posts back- which had the 2 tablets of the 10 commandments it] and it will be a reminder to future generations how God was with them on the journey. Okay- a few practical points; it is possible to ‘protest too much’ that is after God initiated the process of ‘new rule’ the people couldn’t just keep protesting their way into a new govt., they had to ‘put up’ with some type of leadership along the way. Right now in Egypt [2-2011] some of the people are split on what to do ‘should we keep protesting’ some ask- others are saying ‘okay- we got Mubarak to step down- we need to give some of these military leaders a chance to set some things up for the elections to come’. In the case of Moses this was Gods will- that is the people went too far in not even being willing to let Moses lead a little. So some times as the protests succeed- there might also need to be a few months of letting the new guys have a chance to get some stuff done. A few interesting points; in chapter 16 the bible says ‘this happened on the 15th day of the 2nd month’. Geez- that’s right around the same time that the present Egyptian uprising also took place [I am aware the months of the Jewish calendar are different than mine- but it’s still pretty good!] and in the book of John [John’s gospel, chapter 6] Jesus has a conversation with the Jewish leaders and he says he himself is ‘the bread of God that came down from heaven’ he says the bread Moses gave them [the Manna spoken about here] was a symbol of his own life and death on the Cross for the sins of the world- he says ‘all who eat/receive me will live’. I find it interesting that in this story the original Jewish people are eating the bread for all these years- and the name of it means ‘what is it’. Both Muslims and Jews respect Jesus, they see him as a prophet sent from God- yet in Christian theology we teach that Jesus is much more than that- he is the ‘sent one’ [Jewish Messiah- the one who originates from God] many well meaning Muslims and Jews ‘have’ Jesus sort of like the Manna- they know the bread is there- they even ‘eat it’ [benefit in a way from it] yet Jesus says ‘I am the true bread- the bread that comes down from heaven and gives my life for the world’. As the Arab world is going thru their own journey right now- facing many difficult days ahead- days where some will be tempted to say ‘we regret this new found journey of freedom- we wish we never left Egypt’ there will also be a chance to feed from the Manna- the bread that has been there all along- the bread that many said of ‘what is it’ [or who is this Jesus] Jesus himself testifies that it is speaking about him- he is the true bread of life- the only ‘leader’ [new Moses] that can truly liberate- may we all find true revolution thru him.

[1605] WATER FROM THE ROCK [plus comments on the present atrocities in Libya] - Before I get into the chapter [Exodus 17] let me overview the latest world events. First- I do not think the majority of Americans realize the ‘bigness’ of what's going on right now in the Arab/Persian world- the events of the last few weeks are major world changing events that will play a major role in every aspect of American life. The recession? More than likely it will be extended [or double dip] because of the oil situation [unrest and war in and around the major oil producing nations of the world]. Arab allies? Over [at least in the short term]. Last night Gadhafi used the military against his people. The major eastern city of Libya [Benghazi] has fallen [the govt. is no longer in control] the eastern capitol city- Tripoli- is in a war like situation. Gadhafi’s son went on national TV and basically told the country that they are not like Egypt and Tunisia- they will fight back. The son is smart, educated in the West [London- geographically north of Libya- ‘West’ in the sense of the western world- that is London] he told the people ‘do you think the Americans/Brits want you to revolt? This country [Libya] will fall into chaos and the hands of radicals- the West depends on our stability [for oil] and they don’t want you to succeed’. Understand- this is a brilliant power play in the game. Is he telling the truth? In a way- yeah. In all the revolutions taking place- some nations are Arab- others Persian. Some are majority Shiite [Bahrain] with a minority ruling Sunni dynasty. Iran’s leaders are Shiite- they would be glad to see the fall of Bahrain- so the Shiite majority could overthrow the Sunni kings and have more support from Bahrain. Some Arab nations are ‘pro west’- Egypt, Jordan- and even Yemen are/were working with us- many of our friends in the area were shocked that we publicly called for the ouster of Mubarak, because he was our number 1 ally in the Arab world. They thought ‘what the hell are you doing! You picked the wrong king!’ Libya, Iran and Syria are anti western nations- they hate us- we them [in politics]. Yet without a doubt Gadhafi is crossing the line in violent responses to the protestors- yet president Obama has not called for his ouster- not like the way he did with Egypt. The protestors in these countries are confused and see the west as being sell outs. We have protests that seem to be breaking out of the Arab regions and even affecting Asia. There are reports of protestors in China. I obviously am not advocating the apocalypse- but I don’t think we [western society] realize the import of all these events- our world is changing and there is nothing we can do about it- but try and act justly! We [president] can’t go ‘public’ with a king who is bad- but not 1-100th as bad as Libya’s leader- and then go ‘silent’ on him [the president and U.S. position has been to speak out against the violence- good- but we have decided to not go public in support of the people and the call for the leader to step down]. So all in all we need to act justly- love mercy- and walk humbly with our God [Micah- Old Testament prophet].

Okay- Exodus 17. As the people of God continue on the journey of freedom- they once again come to a place where they lack water- they complain to Moses and God tells Moses to strike the rock with his rod/stick and water will come out. This supernatural miracle is spoken about by the apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians chapter 10. He says all the people who were with Moses on the journey drank from the spiritual rock that was to come- Christ. The church has songs about Jesus being the rock who was broken open so salvation could come to the nations ‘Rock of ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee’ [also from the story we will read later when God puts Moses in a cleft in the mountain/rock and passes by him]. All these stories speak of Jesus as the savior of the world. The New Testament tells us when Jesus was on the Cross the soldier pierced his side with a spear and blood and water came out. So Jesus is the rock that was struck [by God- Isaiah 53] and we all can ‘drink’ the living water [Gods Spirit] that flows from his side.

And in keeping with the format of these posts [I’m going to put all these posts in one study and call them ‘insights from a revolution’- Exodus] let me try and give some practical advice for all our readers/friends from around the world who might be in these countries who are revolting. In this chapter the word used against Moses when the people complained is translated ‘Quarrel’ in English- in the original Hebrew language the word really means a legal complaint against leadership- that is they were wanting to bring Moses to court! In many of the current cases of revolution- some simply want change- others want justice- some revenge. In the case of Moses and ‘his revolution’ the people made the mistake of going too far by wanting Moses to stand before the ‘court’ that is they raised their level of protest too high. My advice- in all the nations going thru these things- I side with the people- and do see the tragic mistake the west has made by siding with these dictators for all these years- we truly did overlook the rights of people for the stability of oil- we sinned. Having said that- revolution is messy- and some might go too far in their complaint- that is the bottom line is freedom and democracy for the people- not vengeance on past leaders. In due time those who have committed crimes should be held accountable- but right now the bottom line is freedom and democracy- and NON VIOLENT protests. In Libya the leader has hired mercenaries from the Sub-Saharan part of the continent- these paid soldiers are in the streets of Libya- killing innocents. They are foreign people who don’t even speak Arabic [they speak French- remember parts of Africa were colonized by the British and French- Algeria used to be under French rule] the scene is surreal- so we condemn all these atrocities that are being carried out by these leaders- we call for peaceful protestors to be treated with dignity and respect- and I think our president should also speak out more on the Libyan situation. Let’s all PRAY FOR PEACE- FOR ALL NATIONS.

[1606] LIBYA [Exodus 18] - Before I get into the chapter, let me cover a few news stories. Obviously the biggest event taking place right now is the tragedy in Libya. Gadhafi has decided to use his troops against the civilian population – as of last night he seems to be taking his final stand in the western capitol city of Tripoli. A famous Imam put out a Fatwa [Islamic call for assassination] on his head- I must admit this is the first time I think the Fatwa is justified. President Obama finally spoke after 9 days of silence; he tried his best. As I listened to a woman holed up in Tripoli- she called CNN’S Anderson Cooper on her cell phone- she was giving him up to date info on the situation in Tripoli. Cooper seemed happy to let her go on- at one point she said all of the people in Libya felt so let down by Obama’s speech- they thought they could look to the west for real help and a much stronger condemnation- she was being very honest- and explained clearly the real feeling on the ground- Cooper cut her off [you can tell they clipped the audio in the middle] obviously she was not giving the story that CNN wants to hear. What’s going on? What can we really do? The fall of Tunisia [right to the west of Libya] was a speedy downfall- the leader- Ben Alli caved quickly. Egypt was a surprise- many observers debated the wisdom of the U.S. govt. calling for the rapid removal of Mubarak. If you carefully read/watched the coverage- you could read between the lines and tell that certain more conservative Democrats were not wanting the quick downfall of Mubarak- other more progressive [liberal] Democrats did think it would be ‘beneficial’ [politically] for the president to take the side of Democracy. Obama sent Gibbs out [former press secretary] and he said ‘Mubarak should have been gone yesterday’ the president made his choice- Mubarak’s gone and Gibbs has since ‘retired’. So I’m sure some insiders said to Obama ‘you do this- and you will set the Middle East on fire’. Now- I am not blaming him for what’s going on- but it’s obvious that after seeing the tragedy in Libya- the Somali pirates killing the 4 hostages off their coast- the pirates opening fire on our warships- it’s obvious that the level of fear that the U.S. used to have- is gone. Obama seems to be hesitant about the next step- some reports said ‘he hasn’t spoken out too strongly because we fear for the safety of Americans in Libya’ wrong signal for sure. How bad will it get? During the day I saw a ‘best case/worst case’ scenario on Bloomberg news [financial show] the worst case scenario was the violence will spread to Saudi Arabia and oil will hit $220 dollars a barrel [Libya alone would not do this- they are Africa’s number one producer of oil- but number 8 on the world stage. By contrast Saudi Arabia produces 20 % of the world’s oil supply]. Later on Hannity reported this as what some analysts are saying will happen- he did not say it was a worst case scenario [he did take it out of context]. Frankly- no one really knows how bad it will get- but as of right now there is a humanitarian disaster talking place on a scale we haven’t seen in many years- forget Wisconsin [as a major news event] forget ‘high speed rail’ and realize that this is the major event of this presidency- how to deal with it in a just way. Europe is in real danger if these dictators make the conscious choice to fight their people [Yemen has also opened fire on its protestors- and the western media are not reporting on the fact that Iraqi police/military have also fired on some of their people- when the reports do come out they say ‘Kurds’ which is a tricky way to not say ‘Iraq’]. Sarkozy [French president] made a stronger statement than Obama- they realize this fire is on their back door- the refugees continuing to flee Africa [Tunisia first- now Libya] are causing a major problem for the region. And Iran’s warships ships have indeed passed thru the Suez Canal for the first time in 30 years. I heard Shimon Peres [Israel] give a speech in Madrid [Spain] he warned of Iran’s nuclear threat and said if they don’t deal with it a nuke will end up blowing up Madrid one day. Yet as I heard him speak about the unrest in North Africa and the Middle east- he wisely attributed it to the younger generation of people being connected to the internet/facebook- and how they for the first time realize what true freedom looks like- they also see corruption- things that they were never able to see before- and that they now realize their leaders have abused them. Listen carefully- if any leader was going to ‘cover up’ for these protests being run by radical Islamists- it wouldn’t be Perez. So we need to watch carefully- we need to understand that the choices we make now [as a nation] will have a real impact in the world. I heard some Middle East experts [not right wing radio people] say the presidents unwillingness to come out sooner and much more strongly was a huge mistake- that the people in these countries loose heart when they feel like the west is not behind them, and the dictators use this as a wedge to oppress and kill the people- many in the media do not want this story to get out [the feeling of let down that many feel by the U.S. president]. As I listened to the woman calling from Tripoli- risking her life to get the story out- as she began telling this side of the story- Cooper seemed to have no time for it.

Will get to Exodus tomorrow.

NOTE- I do not think these events should be used in a political way- whether for or against the president. Nick Robertson- a reporter for CNN- was on the streets of Egypt a few days back, at the time I heard some on ‘the left’ begin trying to spin a story that Obama’s speech given in Cairo in 2009 was the catalyst for this new Democracy uprising in the world- you could tell that the left was pushing a narrative that would benefit them- as well as the right trying to push one that would help their side. Yet as Robertson was interviewing Egyptian protestors- he asked one guy ‘and what do you think about Obama- don’t you think he gets some credit for the Democratic uprising’ and the protestor said in no uncertain terms that he felt Obama was a sell out- It was a little surprising [to me and Robertson]. He then found another protestor- trying to get a more positive response- he asked him the same question- got the same answer. Okay- at this point- non biased journalism should simply report the story- or drop it. Instead Robertson than said ‘but even though you think Obama didn’t speak out soon enough- aren’t you at least glad that he has finally spoken out’ and the guy still wouldn’t budge- he simply said this is not an ‘Obama’ story- and seemed confused that Robertson seemed to make it all about the U.S.- sort of narcissistic. Then to my surprise- Robertson turns to the camera [it was a live shot during the protests] and says ‘there you have it- the feeling on the street is they are elated that the president is now supporting them’. When the media does this stuff [whether right wing or left] they do a disservice to the people who are dying for the cause they believe in.

[1607] DONT DEAL ARROGANTLY WITH THE PEOPLE- DON’T TAKE BRIBES! Okay, before we do news- lets cover Exodus 18. Remember- the reason I’m doing this series [Exodus- insights from a Revolution] is because of the obvious present situation [2011] in North Africa and the Arab/Persian world. While I am not sure how all these ‘Revolutions’ will turn out, the fact is they are happening. So doing this series is for the purpose of appealing to those who are ‘revolting’ for truly democratic purposes [as opposed to those with other goals] and to say ‘look- if you want change- than this is the right/noble way to go about it’. Okay- in this chapter Moses is confronted by his father in-law, he says to Moses ‘why are you wearing yourself out like this? Delegate some authority to those under you and let them share the load’. Moses was ‘judging’ the people all day- he was personally hearing all the disputes- from morning till night- and it was too much. So Moses takes his father in laws advice and appoints Elders- leaders who will take care of the smaller decisions- but the ‘big’ ones will come before him. I heard president Obama say the other day ‘when a problem gets to me- it by nature is a difficult one’ he was saying all the easy ones get solved down the line- they never make it to him. Moses father in law praises God for the way he delivered the people from EGYPT and he says ‘God did a just thing in overthrowing Pharaoh- because he dealt arrogantly with the people’ in many of the present protests you hear this as a common theme among the youth- they are not calling for Islamic Jihad [generally] they are mad that they have been treated with disrespect- they want to be treated like humans. The father in-law also says ‘when you appoint new leaders- make sure there men who won’t take bribes’ another cause for dissent among the protestors- corruption in leadership.

Okay- a few current events that might be relevant. One of the major problems the U.S. govt. is going to have [or let’s say get worse] is the reality that all the years and lives and money spent on our wars- in the end it looks like the leaders we backed [in Iraq and Afghanistan] are doing no better than the leaders in all the other countries who have protestors. To be honest- the regime of Hamid Karzai [Afghanistan] is one of the most corrupt out of them all. So how do we justify fighting ‘on one side’ while they are as corrupt as all these other leaders who are falling like bowling pins? Like I said before- it might be time for us to seriously look at a real exit strategy. I have been following the story of Raymond Davis, the U.S. spy who shot 2 Pakistanis a few weeks ago. The U.S. media kept reporting the official govt. line- that he was an innocent diplomat who was being robbed in Pakistan- and he shot these thieves out of self defense. Yet the Pakistanis would not release him. They actually were being more diplomatic by saying ‘well- he did kill 2 people- we can’t just release him’ after weeks of the Obama administration calling for his ‘immediate release’ and stating how this is such a human rights abuse- finally some of our C.I.A. guys leaked the true story. That yes- he was spying for us- illegally- and he shot 2 Pakistani intelligence people who were legitimately following him. Why did our C.I.A guys have to leak the truth? Because the Obama administration was actually allowing the false story to go very public- they made it sound like the Pakistanis were committing an atrocity- and the truth is all countries practice ‘spying’ and when they get caught- part of the game is- well you got caught. The U.S. govt. is still holding spies we caught years ago. But yet instead of the U.S. govt. accepting the card they were dealt [caught- do your best behind the scenes to work it out] they were allowing the media to report it as some type of hostage thing ‘they have our innocent U.S. diplomat- look at this atrocity’ geez- are our guys real armatures or what? So the C.I.A. insiders looked at what Obama was doing and took a great risk to tell the truth. Now- why was this leak a risk? Understand- no other president- in the history of all past presidents- has gone after leakers like president Obama. He has pursued/prosecuted more leakers than any other U.S. president in history- in the first 2 years of being in office! Yes- more in 2 years than Bush in 8- that’s a fact. One ‘leaker’ who was caught- was expecting to get in trouble [like lose his job] and found out that Obama prosecuted him for a very long prison term- he was a very able man- educated and serving the country- the leak [like most leaks] was something he thought needed to be done [like the C.I.A. thing I just mentioned] after he realized the administration wanted to destroy him- he pleaded for mercy. Our govt. ruined the man- broke up his family- kids, wife- the whole 9 yards- and told every other potential leaker ‘you mess with me- we will absolutely destroy you and your family’ now- you don’t see this image in public- but in private that’s the way this administration decided to go [all these stories have been reported in the media- they usually don’t trickle down to the public at large]. So now you see why I say the above C.I.A guys took a real risk in leaking. The point? When govts. are caught spying- or breaking other countries laws- we should do our best to mitigate the thing- but to actually allow it to get so out of hand as to create a permanent rift among these nations- that’s just amateurish. So we all need to be aware that the U.S. - as well as the countries we are fighting for/against- all have legitimate times when they are wronged- or are doing what’s wrong. We can’t always view things thru a prism that says ‘we were right’ often times we are not. And when picking leaders- they need to be people who are above ‘bribes’ [corruption] men who truly are just- who care for people. When leaders cheat- steal- mislead- abuse people- in the end they have ‘dealt arrogantly with the people- and God will remove them’.

[1608] LOOK FOR THE UNION LABEL [and maybe buy some stock in Nescafe?]
Okay- it’s been a busy news week- I haven’t really commented on the Union situation in Wisconsin and want to cover it some. First- much of the world has been in protest mode for the last year. Originally the problem was the austerity measures that Europe was trying to put in place in order to deal with their debt, and just this week we saw more riots on the streets of Greece- setting a cop on fire. The protests in Wisconsin [and spreading to Ohio and other states] are in nature the same as the European protests [though not as severe] that is the unions [teachers] are protesting the states attempts to abolish collective bargaining, except for the ability to bargain for salaries. The Europeans are mad about changes in their retirement age and stuff like that- protests that are different than what we are seeing in the Middle East and North Africa. Now- who’s right in this situation? The newly elected Republican governor[s] are trying to get rid of the Cadillac benefits plans that many of the Northern states have for their public sector employees. As a retired firefighter in the south I do not get near what retired firefighters in the North get. I have no benefits except a monthly retirement check- I’m hoping I don’t get sick- I still have 12 years to go before I am eligible for Medicare. So why do the northern retirees have better packages? Over time unions have managed to gain lots of political power- and when people run for public office- they have learned that if you want the cops and firefighters [and teachers- etc.] to support you- you promise them stuff. After a while some of the northern states simply gave away too much- and they put the cost into the future [Cadillac benefit plans] and now the chicks are coming home to roost. That’s really the nuts and bolts of the thing. Okay- are the unions/teachers bad? No. The system just got out of control and politicians worked the system by putting off the costs to a day when they would not be around anymore [Like Obama’s recent budget- not dealing at all with the debt.]. So after the recent elections lots of Republicans got in and yes indeed they do want to get rid of the system. Why? Well here's where the ‘rest of the story’ comes in. While it is true that the elimination of these rights would make it easier for states to get their budgets in order- it’s also true that these unions usually support Democratic candidates around 95 % of the time [if not 100]. So these Republicans got elected despite the unions spending all they had on keeping them from getting in. Once they got in- with new majorities in their state houses- they saw the chance to not only get rid of a system that has strapped state budgets- but also a way to finally get rid of the number 1 funding mechanism for the opposing party. So do these governors have the right to do this? Yes indeed they do- that’s part of the game. Do the Democratic senators have ‘the right’ to flee to other states? Well they have ‘the right’ but in the long run the way democracies work is you try you hardest to elect people who will support your side, and if those who don’t support your side get elected- then that’s the way the ball bounces. You might disagree with Governor Walker- and think his hard-line tactic of going for broke is too much- yet he has the right to do it. And if we as a country start walking out of the states [or Washington] because we feel that’s the only way to stop the other side from voting- well that in the long run will not work. My personal view is I think the teachers have tried to do their best to say ‘we will give up more benefits- pay more into the system- we just don’t want to lose collective bargaining’ hey- I hear you. But as a firefighter there were a few times when our city threatened to do away with our contract- we fought back [not by striking] and we won- but the reality was- if we lost- we would have lost fair and square. So ultimately if these new governors/state houses have gone Republican- and they get rid of collective bargaining- then the public sector employees simply need to regroup for the next election and try and get new people in- that’s the way Democracy works- to simply leave the state is not how democracy works [just a note- F.D.R. the father of modern entitlements- said that the public sector was no place for collective bargaining. When private workers bargain for wages and benefits- they are going up against the company they work for- in the end the owners/management and the workers come to a deal with their own money- the money the co. makes and the money the people earn. When you carry this into the state/federal arena- you are bargaining with other people’s money, tax payers. After a while- when tax payers are losing homes- making much less pay- no benefits like the public workers are getting, then these taxpayers only resource to even things out is to elect new leaders who will cut benefits. If at that point the representatives of the union’s walk off the job- then they are no longer truly representing all the people in their area- they are representing a sector that supports them- and this is not fair to all the people. Both private sector tax payers- who are footing the bill- and the union workers should have their voices heard]. I do realize that the union workers pay taxes too.

And now to the stock advice; as the tragedy unfolds in Libya, it is surreal to see the Libyan leader giving these disoriented speeches from atop a building on Green Square in Tripoli. He is telling the people ‘sing- dance- be happy- we are people of the revolution’ it truly seems like the man has lost his mind. At one point he said ‘Bin Laden is behind all this- he is spiking the Nescafe [instant coffee] with drugs’. I had a picture in my mind of Bin Laden sitting in some cave in Pakistan- eating his Pakistani Menudo and saying ‘What? I have enough worries without this other madman blaming all this on me!’ The ‘funny’ thing about these guys is we in the west have been fearing an Islamic Caliphate- we seem to think all these radicals/terrorists are plotting in unison to get us. While I’m sure they want to get us- I never realized how inept they were at even controlling their own people- I mean one tyrant blaming a terrorist for the revolt in his kingdom- and telling the world he’s spiking the Nescafe! If the company is smart- they should come out with a new slogan ‘Nescafe- the coffee that tyrants hate’ hey- that’s what I call the capitalist’s dream.

[1609] ‘DID YOU SEE HOW FAST EGYPT FELL?’ God. In Exodus 19 the Lord brings the people to mount Sinai and his first instructions- before giving them the 10 commandments- is he tells them ‘You yourselves have seen what I did in Egypt- and how I bore you on eagles wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession above all people- for all the earth is mine’. Those of you following these posts- especially you guys from the ‘DAYS OF RAGE’ Facebook pages- it is interesting that these instructions were given to the people in the beginning of the 3rd month [bible calendar time] yet as I’m teaching this the 1st time around- by ‘accident’ it just so happens that today is the beginning of the 3rd month [March 1st 2011]. During the current day revolts taking place in the world- Egypt’s rapid fall was indeed a catalyst for the present day revolts. Now in this chapter God uses the reality of what happened in Egypt as an encouragement to bring the people to himself. He says ‘did you not see the quick deliverance in Egypt? Realize I’m at work in this thing- obey my voice- seek me at this time’. As of this morning Libya still hasn’t fallen- yet Gadhafi is the first leader to actually fight his revolt with arms. Many world observers are asking questions ‘has the U.S. responded right? Is Obama doing a good job’ some are calling for a no fly zone- others are wanting to air drop in humanitarian aid- all in all this is one of those decisions that both the current vice president [Biden] and secretary of state [Clinton] said they sincerely felt candidate senator Obama was not ready for. During the campaign I listened carefully to these 2 individuals sincerely make this claim- Biden would say stuff like ‘look- Barak is a good man- with lots of future potential- I do like him- but to be honest- not critical- he just is not ready for the job- he will be tested because of this and I sincerely do not feel he is ready’ the problem with politicians is after they get put on the team they change their tune- say ‘sure we said that- we are all politicians’ well now we need leaders- not a bunch of ‘bull’ [to put it mildly]. Okay- we were naïve to think that all future revolutions would go as smoothly as Egypt- Libya is a tough nut to crack. If the U.S. takes the lead- goes in and takes the man out- what message will it send? Will all the other protestors in ‘friendly’ countries take it as a sign that if things get out of hand- if they put themselves in situations where they get fired on- then we will be forced to intervene? Yes, these are all tough questions- the job of president is tough- thank God we don’t have a bunch of Harry Reid's and John Kerry’s who went around the country accusing the opposing president of being a murderer who purposely tricked us into war and who is an abysmal failure [note- I am against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan- yet the opposing party felt it their duty to speak like this in their criticism of Bush- thank God there are no Republicans who are openly saying this about Obama- behind the scenes- yes- but not in public- yet]. So the choice is tough- our European allies have all been faster and stronger in their condemnations and the present administrations excuse was ‘we had people on the ground’ but now that they’re out [ferried to the island of Malta in the Mediterranean sea] just ‘watch’. Well, I have been watching- there is nothing to see! God willing this administration will get their act together. While I do not advocate an all out invasion- yet when true humanitarian crimes are being committed- you act- remember Bosnia? Another event the Democrats used to criticize the Repub’s for ‘look- we Dem’s use force- we’re not scared’. Just wish people would do their jobs and quit comparing everything to the opposing side. It’s time to act- act.

Note- sanctions and freezing bank accounts and all these types of things are useless when dealing with a real time humanitarian crisis- a possible genocide. These other tools are not the things you use when dealing with crimes of this nature.

Okay- in this chapter [Exodus 19] we see Mount Sinai, a mountain that represents the first covenant God made with man- the 10 Commandments. In Galatians and Hebrews [chapters 5 and 12 respectively] the bible tells us that we today are at a ‘new mountain’ we have come to a heavenly city- the mountain that represents the New Covenant, called mount Zion- not a physical location any more- but a spiritual community of people- made up of all nations and races- Jews, Arabs, Muslims, everyone is welcome to enjoy the freedom and grace that this new city affords. The New Testament says this city [the church-people of God] has gates that are open all the time- that is people are ‘coming in’ and ‘going out’ 24-7. It is not bound by earthly boundaries- the shaking of nations will not affect it- yet the nations themselves will shake and fall [yes- this actual wording is used in the bible] so today we are seeing a shaking of many nations- people are afraid of radical expressions of Islam- others in the West struggle over the approach- should we quake and fear and give in to worst case scenarios ‘LOOK- THE MUSLIMS ARE TAKING OVER’. The answer is all nations and peoples are going to shake- the govts. of the world are all temporary- yes even the great old U.S. of A. At these times we find stability and freedom in the mountain of God- not Sinai- some old expression of govt. that represented bondage and pain [read Galatians chapter 5!] but we have come to mount Zion- a great assembly of people- from all nations- who are yearning for freedom from oppression- seeking justice and righteousness- rejecting the way of the sword and the gun- yes this new mountain is greater than all the mountains of the earth [Ezekiel, Daniel] and in the last days all the mountains [which represent governments in the bible] of the world will collapse- and the mountain of the Lord will be the only one left standing- flee to that mountain- fast!

Just a note to my Muslim readers- we all have prejudices we need to overcome- even while writing the above post I debated on using the biblical language of Zion. The reason is obvious. Yet in the bible the meaning, as used by the New Testament writers- is not speaking about modern Zionism [a geopolitical view of the world and the present situation in Israel/Palestine] but it speaks about a new reality- that thru Jesus Christ all nations can find peace and harmony thru him. At the end of the day the answer is not going to be found in overthrowing one human govt. for another- but the answer will ultimately be found in Gods government- which is a spiritual kingdom called the kingdom of God [read the gospel of John chapter 3].

[1611] EXODUS 20- God gives the people his law- the famous ’10 commandments’. In Greek it is Decalogue [meaning 10 words] and these laws are actually in the form of an ancient treaty type document- in essence God was not just saying ‘do this- don’t do that’ but he was telling them if they wanted to survive as a people, a society- then they needed law, just principles from which to govern themselves by- and also to hold each other accountable to their government and God.

As I continue to write and post about current world affairs- I also do lots of actual scholarly studying- I try and ‘mix’ world events in with historical perspective and keep my thinking in line with others who have gone on before us- stable thinkers, people who represent a broad range of thought. It’s too easy [and dangerous!] to view all things from a limited perspective- and then to see your view confirmed by your limited reading of the events. I saw a minister on one of the history channel shows speaking about his view of the ‘end of the world’. It was obvious that the program was allowing him to share his view- not because they thought it to be accurate- but because they wanted to show how people can see their beliefs confirmed by world events- if that’s what they want to see. Now- let me give you an example; during WW2 the church in Germany was divided- some wanted to work in accord with the state [Hitler] and others said they wanted no type of ungodly alliances with the state. Men like Dietrich Bonheoffer would reject Hitler’s ideals and be part of ‘the confessing church’ [those evangelicals who would not work with Hitler]. Another very famous theologian [scholar] would sign his name to an important document that stated the same idea of not condoning Hitler’s regime- his name was Karl Barth [considered by many to be the most influential theologian of the 20th century] the document was called The Barmen Declaration. In these cases the church felt she needed to speak out about world events- to side with those who were being oppressed- and to condemn those who were oppressing.

As I write this morning- we come off a day where our forces accidentally killed 9 Afghan boys who were out collecting wood for fire. Gen. Petraeus publicly apologized. Hamid Karzai is livid [rightfully so] and we are rapidly losing the support of the people [and I don’t blame them]. Yemen's president gave a very revealing speech- he told his country that he was going to ‘reveal a secret’. He said there is a secret operations room in Tel Aviv [Israel] and the purpose for it is to conspire against the Arab world and that the U.S. and Israel regularly meet to plan the overthrow of the Arab world. He obviously feels the heat [like all these other nations- he has protestors in the streets] but the fact that these leaders are actually speaking like this openly- our ties to these Arab nations are over. At the airport in Germany- a Muslim employee opened fire on 4 people- killing 2 American soldiers. Reports are he shouted ‘Allah Akbar’ [God is great] while firing his weapon.

In the media there are 2 narratives you can see; some ‘news organizations’ have made the top stories about Rumsfeld and any past mistakes/possible crimes committed under the Bush administration. Now- I guess there is a proper time for this- but not during the same day when the current administration and U.S. forces are involved in so many real-time scenarios, actual things that can change our world for years to come. Other news channels focus on the worst case scenarios- seeming to leave no room for any hope at all. I think both of these extremes are dangerous for our country- and we need to be realistic about the very real dangers- including our countries financial problems [there is talk in the world about dropping the U.S. dollar as the world reserve currency- and some analysts believe that China and others will stop buying our debt- financing us] These are very real dangers that we face as a country.

So what should the church do? First- I believe the ongoing killing of civilians [even by mistake!] is something that has to stop. Many Americans see the shooting of our soldiers at the German base as ‘terrorism’ and view the accidental killing of the 9 boys as ‘collateral damage’. We must understand- that the mothers of these boys don’t see it like that- and the rest of the Arab world as well. When God gave the people the ‘10 laws’ he was telling them there are some very fundamental rules that all nations will need to abide by if they want to survive. Most of us are familiar with them- and most of us know what the big one is ‘thou shalt not kill’- I think too many of us have stepped over this line one too many times.


In our Exodus study we are actually in chapter 23, but these past few weeks I have been reading thru some key passages and before we get too far in the study I want to make sure we hit them. In the above verse God is telling the people that this deliverance- an actual historical event that took place around 1400 years B.C.- that this Divine change taking place- was a world changing event that had greater implications than what they presently understood. In chapter 23 the Lord tells the people that he is sending his messenger [angel] before them- and they need to pay close attention to the words he is speaking. In the bible [especially the Old Testament] the angel of God at times is associated with God himself. In the book of Revelation God is communicating a prophetic vision to the apostle John thru angels [messengers]. Basically God is telling his people that they need to stay on message- and that the message needs to be in line with his character [my messenger- the things I have/will say]. In another chapter we will hear God tell Moses ‘put the words/law I give you into the box’. God tells Moses to put the 2 tablets of the 10 commandments into the Ark of the covenant- as opposed to what Moses might say or think. The point being all of us [Christian ministers, Jewish leaders, Imams] we need to make sure we are speaking the words of God, not man.

At this time [as I write] I have friends reading these posts from all over the spectrum. Many have been reading straight from the blog site- others from various other spots where these posts show up. As a Christian- I of course hold to the biblical teaching that Jesus is the Messiah- the ‘Son of God’ who came to redeem man and died and rose again for the sins of man. Now- why the emphasis on the term ‘Son of God’. In Islam- many good Muslim people are taught- from their youth- that to even read/say this term is blasphemous. Why? In Islam many believe that using this term means that God ‘had sexual relations’ with the Virgin Mary- and many good Muslims sincerely will not listen to a Christian teacher because they are taught that to even hear the term is wrong. So as Christians we need to explain that in Christian teaching this term does not mean that- the Christian faith teaches that the Holy Spirit did a miracle with the Virgin Mary and Mary became pregnant with Jesus- not by a sexual act- but by a Divine miracle. So some bible versions- in an effort to overcome the obstacle that Muslims have about the term ‘Son of God’ [because they see this term in a different way than Christians] have substituted the words ‘Son of God’ with ‘the one who originates from God’. There is a debate among Christians on whether or not this is right [many Christians do not think this interpretation is acceptable] but it seems to be an honest effort among Christian missionaries to introduce the bible to the Muslim people in a way that allows them to get past the first obstacle- of not even wanting to read the words ‘Son of God’. Okay- said all that to say this- in this study of Exodus- we are reading a real biblical account of what took place in time- an account that Christians, Muslims and Jews all believe in. So as much as I want to continue to make the case for the reality of Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah- yet at the same time I want to also teach the biblical account in a way that all 3 faiths can learn from. And I want to be able to be a voice of moderation in the conversation

Often time’s radical voices from all 3 of the above religions are the voices that seem to get the most notice. Last night I caught an interview with the lawyer who went to the Supreme Court and won the case for the Christian church to protest at the funerals of dead soldiers. Here in the U.S. we have this Baptist church [Westboro Baptist church] that has been holding up picket signs at the funerals of soldiers that say mean- offensive things ‘God hates fags’ and stuff that should not be said. Yet they won their case because it is a free speech issue- and on the program I watched, they let this lawyer- who is also a family member of the preacher of the church- she went on and shared her view about God and the bible- and to be frank it is a very ignorant view- a bigoted idea of God and the bible, yet it is a view that prevails among many Christians [not the ‘God hates fags’ view- but other separatist ideas] and it leaves no room for having a moderate conversation among the other religions of the world. So as we progress in this study- we see the importance of the word of God- the commands and character of God. We see that God is up to something that is bigger- more important than the people understand at the time- and we see that things take time. At the end of the chapter God says as he brings the people into the land- they will not take all the land at once- lest the wild beats take over the land- but he will gave them a little land at a time, just enough territory to establish a functioning society- before gaining new ground.

I think we all need to re evaluate and take a look at the present landscape [both symbolically and geographically] and give things some time to settle in- to establish rule and order before we take too much area at once. Right now in Libya- there seems to be a standoff between the protestors [rebels- they don’t like this term] and Gadhafi. The country- though big in geographical terms- is relatively small in population [compared to Egypt- 80 million people]. Libya has 6 million people- 90 % live right off the Mediterranean coast- and the forces in the east [major city- Ben Ghazi] are up against Gadhafi’s stronghold in the west- Tripoli. As I watch all the reports we need to be careful that we don’t misread the situation—even though there were reports of civilian deaths- it does not look like Gadhafi has opened up his air force on the civilian population- not in a way it was reported at first. So even though we [the west] condemn the deaths that have taken place- I’m not sure that we are seeing what some have described as a Genocide [which I too said in the beginning]. So maybe the Middle East, Africa- and even parts of Asia- maybe it’s time to sit back and regroup some. I’m speaking to those who are wanting freedom- NON VIOLENT protestors who are protesting to gain human rights- I’m not talking military strategy here! And in today’s chapter [and the verse I quoted at the top] God is saying to the people ‘I am doing an awesome work in the world right now- obey me- listen to my words- I will give you bread [instruction] every morning [the Manna on the ground] I have given you my words [WORDS THAT HAVE SAID- DON’T KILL! TO ALL SIDES] make sure you organize your new found freedom around these things- don’t use this freedom for a chance to sin- to release anarchy/lawlessness [read Galatians chapter 5] but instead use this new freedom to serve God and love your fellow man’.

[1615] EXODUS 33- The Lord tells his people that they must get up from the place they are at- Mount Sinai- and move on to the new place he has promised to them- Canaan [the Promised Land]. Okay- symbolically what does this mean? Sinai represents law, promised land= the Cross, the ‘new land’ of grace and freedom found in Christ. In the New testament- this is the way all the apostles dealt with these promises [Hebrews, Galatians, Peter’s sermons in Acts]. It is vital for Christians [especially T.V. preachers!] to get this right. The message to the Muslim/Arab world is not ‘God is taking sides in a land war in Israel/Palestine’ but the message is ‘in Jesus, all nations/ethnic groups are welcome- leave Sinai [the old law mentality of seeing God thru the lens of a strict judge who wants to get you] and come to the ‘new land’ this land of grace where Jesus took upon him the sins of the whole world and bore the punishment for us’ this is really the message of Christianity- many people see Christianity/Christendom thru a 2 thousand year history [okay to do- I too am a historian] but they look at the mistakes- the Crusades- the Christian hatred of Jews that existed- the Muslim/Christian battles- many people do not really see the true message of the Cross- the new land of grace and acceptance thru Jesus- they are stuck at Sinai [a mountain that we already saw was fearful, people trembled- were scared- strict judgment] and can’t seem to get to the next mountain.

Also the Lord tells the people ‘take off your costume jewelry’ they wore the celebratory stuff- sort of like Mardi Gra stuff- when they sinned while worshipping their idols. God says ‘it’s not a performance- your service to me, your worship- take the fake stuff off’. In Matthews gospel- chapters 6-7, Jesus says ‘this thing is not theatre- how to perform and gain an audience’ I mean you can’t get stronger than that. Jesus also says ‘prayer is not mastering some type of formula to get what you want- create lots of wealth’ I mean he really takes to task the majority of American Christianity- a huge percentage of it is really performance- seeing ‘church’ as a place where we go once a week and actually watch a stage/theatre performance- ouch! God told the people ‘get rid of the costume jewelry- I have more important stuff for you’. Right now there is a lot of stuff happening in the world- the voice of the church needs to be a voice for justice in the earth. I watched an interview on Fox news this weekend- the host described our wars as just- and the Muslim/Arab side as terrorism. I had just read a news article describing the accidental killings of the 9 Afghan boys who were gathering fire wood while our attack helicopters killed them. The boys were between 5 and 11 years old. One boy- the only survivor, named Hamed- said as they were in the field they heard the chopper coming. Of course it’s a scary sight for little boys. Then as the chopper left- it came back again- like stalking them. They stood still- until the first boy was mowed down. They ran in all different directions- the chopper methodically hunted the boys down- one by one. This boy survived because a tree fell on him and hid him. I know our side thought the boys were enemy combatants- I know we did not intend for this to happen. But to excuse our actions- to say ‘we are just’ and the other side- some who are simply fighting for the Taliban because they need the job- to say they are immoral- and we are moral- seems like a joke after hearing about the deaths of these boys. May God have mercy on all of us.

[1616] EXODUS 34- This chapter is real important- God tells Moses to come back up into the mountain to receive the 2nd set of the 10 commandments. Moses actually broke the 1st set- when he came down from the mountain the 1st time with the 2 tablets- he saw the people rebelling [the story of worshipping the golden calf and all] and when he saw it he flipped out [yes- Moses had an anger problem- it eventually kept him from going into the promised land] and broke the tablets. So in this chapter he goes up for the 2nd time and God writes on the tablets again. I see this as a spiritual symbol of Jesus and the New Covenant. Jesus is called the mediator of the New Covenant- a 2nd covenant that is better than the 1st [Hebrews] so this ‘2nd set’ of commandments can be a type of the 2nd law. Now Moses speaks to the people- and he doesn’t realize that his face is shining. So after he speaks with the people- he puts a veil on his face until he goes to meet with God again. Each time he meets with God- he comes back- talks with the people- and puts the veil on. In 2nd Corinthians chapter 3 the apostle Paul says this is an example of the blindness of natural Israel- that is they don’t fully see Jesus as the Messiah. As a Jew himself- Paul wanted his fellow Jews to also believe in the messiah [Romans 9-10] and he did all he could to argue for the reality of Jesus as being the Messiah [read the sermons in the book of Act’s] so Paul says the Jewish people [his own nation/people] have a sort of spiritual veil over their faces [actually it covers Moses face- a type of Jesus. Meaning Jesus is right there- in front of them, but they see a figure- but are unable to truly see his identity- sort of like a man wearing a veil]. So Paul uses this story to preach Christ. Just like the Manna, just like the Ark, the Tabernacle- as we read Exodus we are really seeing an unveiling of the person and work of Christ.

Okay- as we finish this short study over the next day or 2- let me also try and tie up a few lose ends. Those of you who have been reading this site for a while realize I was in the middle of a few other studies before I jumped into this series- which I will call ‘Insights from a Revolution’. The reason being the Asian/Persian world is on fire- Revolutions- civil wars [Libya] lots of stuff came up. I also finished the Christopher Hitchens book [god is not great- Hitchens is an atheist and I have been reproving him]. For the sake of not wanting to give him any more ‘air time’ than I had to- I stopped correcting his many mistakes [yes- Many!]. I plan on reviewing and critiquing the other ‘new atheists’ in the coming months- Hitchens is considered the smartest of the bunch [Dawkins, Harris, etc.] so I figured if we ‘throw him under the bus’ then we would have taken down the top dog. Let me finish Hitchens by saying the guy is outright mean- calls Mother Theresa ‘a troll’- refers to princess Dianna as a ‘land mine’ [she was known for her international work with getting rid of land mines]. Why? He says ‘there easy to lay- and cause lots of damage’. Hitchens is not a man that anyone should look up to. I felt he was a liar- conniver- snake oil salesman. One last example- he mentions the bible story of the graves of people opening up by an earthquake the day Jesus was crucified- the bible does indeed say this- I have read this many times over the years [in the gospel]. The bible says that AFTER Jesus rose from the dead [3 days later] that the bodies of believers who were in these open graves rose too- a sort of ‘first fruits’ resurrection. The apostle Paul says [1st Corinthians 15] that Jesus resurrection was the ‘first fruits’ you could include this small group of dead saints in with this group [called the 1st fruits]. These believers eventually died again- and will receive their new resurrected bodies at the 2nd coming. Now- why get into this? Hitchens uses this story- and says ‘see- the bible says these saints rose before Jesus- the day he was crucified- this challenges the whole theory that Jesus rose from the dead 1st’. Now- like I said before- Hitchens claims to be a regular bible student- and its stuff like this that causes an alarm bell to go off in my head when I read it. The man is obviously lying- lying for money [a crass seller of books! You know- the same complaint atheists make all the time against believers, money grubbers]. And he uses this actual story- more than once- to prove a point- that is wrong!

There was something else that happened on the day Christ died. In the story of Exodus- when Moses builds the actual tabernacle- he puts this huge veil over a room called ‘the holy of holies’. The tabernacle [little church like structure that held the Ark and stuff] had 2 rooms in it- the 1st room- called the ‘1st room’ [Hebrews 9-10] or the holy place- had the table of showbread, the candlestick- a few other things. Then you had this huge veil covering the 2nd room- called the holy of holies. That’s the room that contained the box [ark] with the 10 commandments in it [I wrote about this in the previous post called ‘don’t look in the box!’]. This room was divided from the 1st room by the veil. So eventually King David would start building the temple- and his son Solomon would finish it. Over the centuries the temple took the place of the tabernacle system. In the temple of Jesus day- built by Herod- it was a magnificent structure- the central place of worship and religion for the Jewish people. In this huge temple there was actually a huge veil- a veil that divided the holy of holies from the 1st room- just like the original tabernacle built by Moses some 1400 years before. The day Jesus died- the bible says ‘the veil of the temple was ripped from the top to the bottom’. God did a miracle [maybe the same earthquake that broke open the graves shook the building and it separated the veil?] and the veil was ripped apart- signifying the reality that because of Jesus death on the Cross we now have open access to God- no more veil. This event is recorded in the history books of Jesus day- Paul says there is coming a time when ‘the veil’ [spiritual blindness of people] will be removed- and people will say ‘wow- now I see it- I never saw it before- but now it makes sense’. Are you still wearing a veil?

[1618] I DID WHAT YOU ASKED- Today we close our brief study from Exodus ‘Insights from a Revolution’. In chapter 40 Moses finally completes the vision God gave him [vision- purpose] for the Tabernacle- he completes it 9 months after they arrived at Sinai [it took some time to establish order!] Just a short re-cap; when God delivered his people out of Egypt- he gave them this tent system where you had the Tabernacle [small building] you had this fence around it- you had the ‘outer courts’ and the area inside the courts. You had the Ark of the Testimony, the box that held the 10 commandments- a sample portion of Manna [the bread God gave them every morning for 40 years] and Aaron’s rod/stick that ‘budded’- a story we didn’t cover, it was a sign God gave the people that he was choosing the Aronic priesthood to be the priests. They took sticks from different tribes and the stick that would miraculously bud was the tribe that God chose. So you had this whole system set up as an example from God that would eventually be fulfilled thru Christ. This tent system became the Temple of Jewish history- and in Jesus day they had this system expanded on a huge scale at the Temple in Jerusalem. It’s sometimes referred to as the 2nd Temple- the one that was rebuilt after the children of Israel returned from captivity [a few hundred years B.C.] but it was rebuilt again- a 3rd time- under Herod, the Roman ruler who ruled right before Jesus was born [you also had another Herod- the title was passed on- during Jesus day]. This Temple was eventually destroyed under the Roman general- Titus- in a.d. 70. There has not been a Jewish temple since- the actual spot where the temple was- that spot is the same spot of this huge Muslim Mosque in the city of Jerusalem today. If you ever see an air view of Jerusalem you will see this huge mosque in the center of the city- that’s the same spot where the last Temple sat. So today there are lots of end times teachers with all types of views about the rebuilding of a 3rd [or 4th] Temple- scenarios of a re instituting of the sacrificial system- a view of a person called the anti Christ who will establish a covenant with Israel and 3.5 years into the 7 year peace treaty he breaks the treaty. All these scenarios are simply speculation- they do come from a sort of montage of verses scattered thru out the bible [Daniel, Matthew, Thessalonians, Revelation, etc.] but they are only one point of view- most bible scholars do not hold to this view- often referred to as dispensationalism- too long to get into it now. The main point I want to make is God used this whole system to show mankind that the only way he could dwell with man- was thru some sort of system that showed the sinfulness of man and the holiness of God- and that man can only approach God thru a sacrifice- the animals and blood were only a symbol of the future day when Jesus would come and die for the sins of the whole world [Hebrews- the book in the New Testament says this]. This whole story points to Jesus and Gods desire to redeem all mankind- regardless of ethnic/social status- to save men and rescue them thru the death and resurrection of His Son. Jesus truly is the sacrifice that saves man- he died for our sins. God gave Moses and the people this system of govt. that would follow them thru the rest of their history. Moses finished the work God gave him to do- and today this prophetic picture lives on in both the bible and on the Hollywood screen- most of us have seen some portrayal of it on the big screen [like Charlton Hesston in the classic movie- the 10 commandments]. Some of you might have learned a new thing as we did this brief study- maybe the purpose of the lid on the box, the Mercy Seat. Maybe some other thing stuck in your mind- that’s good- we want everybody to get an interest in this stuff- most people think the bible is a book that is boring- hard to understand. Yet it’s meant to capture your mind thru stuff like this- to see that the bible stories are actual historical events- events that still have meaning for our day- and they all point to God’s mercy and love for all mankind- not a story where God is some Western deity who takes sides in military ventures- that’s not the message of the gospel. God has made a way for all people to get in on this- he’s not advocating a certain type of religion- he’s saying he has already given his Son to die for the whole world- Jesus said on the Cross ‘It is finished’ the book of Hebrews says Moses was faithful to finish building the earthly house [tabernacle] that God told him to build- he finished the job. Hebrews also says Jesus was faithful in his house- in completing the mission and in completing it he too is building a house- the house of God- the church. This ‘building’ is open to everyone 24 hours a day- a spiritual temple made without human hands. John the apostle said ‘whoever hears this- let him come and take of the water of life freely’ [Revelation] Have you heard?