Monday, May 30, 2011


First I want to honor our men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country [and other countries]. This past week I have read/watched lots of stuff about the things our guys go thru when they come back from the field. A sad story of a vet who survived a viscous attack- only to later deal with survivor guilt.

Upon returning to the states he volunteered to work with wounded vets. They showed you him helping guys who lost their limbs- doing activities with them. Some wounded vets. testified to his concern and seeming balanced way he dealt with his experiences in war. Yet this young man chose to take his life- the guilt of him surviving ‘whole’ while others did not- it was eating him up alive.

I read an article written by a commander who had charge of many troops in the various fields of war we are actively involved in. He spoke against our continued presence in Afghanistan. He was by no means a pacifist- he was a realist. He saw many of his men lose their lives- others their limbs. And he saw the political reality on the ground- that basically our continued presence in the field [Afghanistan] would not change the outcome if we are saying we will be pulling out in a few more months.

His view was the leaders and the Taliban will probably wind up making a deal anyway- so why waste another life? If we are just finishing up a political promise that we will stay until a certain date, and yet the last few months up until that date will change nothing- then why let the guys die for that?

All these types of conversations get lost in the American media- we have the left- who act just as ridiculous as the right- and it’s hard to really see what’s going on. These past few weeks our country [along with NATO] has stepped up ‘kinetic’ action in Libya. Libya began much like the other North African countries- protestors rose up and demanded change.

Libya is a big nation- yet 90 % of the population live right off of the coast. The eastern half of the nation are the primary Rebels [from Benghazi] and the west is ‘pro Kaddafi’ [Tripoli being the capital]. A few weeks ago I saw video of Tripoli [before the bombing] the merchant shops and the fresh goods from the fertile Mediterranean Sea made the streets of Tripoli look like some ancient city that was flourishing during the time of Christ.

While its hard to measure the actual numbers- there are many people who live in the western half of the nation who do not want the eastern rebels to win. Okay- we entered the picture because we said we were going to prevent a possible humanitarian disaster- fine. NATO approved action for purely humanitarian reasons- a no fly zone to protect civilians. What are we doing now? We have been bombing the hell out of beautiful Tripoli- chasing Gadhaffi wherever we can find him- bombing his son’s home- killing his son and his 3 grandkids. Gadhaffi's wife has publicly said she wished she died with those kids- she’s putting pressure on her husband to ‘end this thing’ [she was the one who after Bush killed Saddam- she talked her husband into giving up the Nuke plans and making peace with Bush. The story was that she was deathly afraid that Bush would do to her children what he did with Saddam's sons- kill them].

So the wife’s worst nightmare has happened- but instead of Bush being the aggressor- Its France, Britain and the good ole U.S. of A. What’s the problem? The problem is we started this action saying it’s purely a ‘no fly zone’ now we have the leader [being urged by his wife- hoping to save her sons and grandkids] making multiple offers for a cease fire- I think the man is serious.

We respond ‘the offer is not credible’ what are we saying? We have the man between a rock and a hard place- we keep saying ‘cease fire’ and when ever he does- the rebels press forward- we keep bombing and he says ‘how in the hell can I do a cease fire like that’ the man is right.

Look- if we leave these leaders- corrupt as they are- with the only option being ‘we are gonna blow you and your family up’ then we are not playing smart. Today we celebrate the lives of our men and women who laid their lives down in battle- many came home with broken bodies [and minds]. Many are taking their lives because of the reality of being in situations where they had to take other lives. These things are very serious things to live with- I just wish we as a country took these decisions more seriously.

If we are asking so much of our men and women- then let’s be honest and upfront about the cost. Sure its makes good political fare to say ‘I believe in a strong military’ or to say you are ‘for the wars’. But I will go with the commander who looked at the reality- and he said if we are letting our boy’s die- just to ride out some political promise of staying until a certain date- then that’s tragic. Yes- honor our boy’s today- and let’s do what we can to prevent the loss of any more.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


These last few days I have been reading/teaching a few passages from Matthew and one of the quotes of Jesus [chapter 24] comes from the Old Testament book of Daniel. So as I skimmed through a few of the verses I felt like the Lord was leading me to read a chapter or 2.

My last year at the fire Dept. was 2007- I retired in 12-07 with a few days just under 25 years. Though I never planned on retiring that early- I was only 45- and even though I had put in a full 25 years- the young age effects how much you get. I always planned on working till at least 55.

But the last year my back injury was bad- had it for many years [bad disk] and the last few months I finished on injury leave. Now- we have had guys who worked 25 years and spent at least half of it on injury leave- yes some guys know how to work the system. If you don’t count my final 6 months on the job- for the entire other 25 years I only took a total of 2 weeks on injury leave- so I wasn’t a ‘work the system’ kinda guy.

When I retired- the city fully expected me to try and do some kind of injury settlement- it became standard procedure for stuff like this. I took my retirement check and left- they never heard from me again.

The last year- before I knew I was leaving- I would get up real early in the morning [I actually started this practice the last few years before I retired]. I would walk outside and pray for most of the night. I did the same at the house. One thing I soon realized is when you’re up most of the night- you see lots of shooting stars and you learn the different star patterns during the year.

I would often find it ‘strange’ to see a shooting star right at certain times during prayer- maybe I would pray ‘let your word go forth’ and then see a star. Now- I know it might be a coincidence and all- yet at times it was weird.

One night- I will never forget this one- I was walking outside early [maybe 3 a.m.?] and I felt impressed to pray a verse from the book of Daniel. I was thinking about the story of the angel Gabriel and his dealings with Daniel. At one point Daniel is praying to God and he seems to be stuck- he needs a breakthrough. So after a few weeks of seeking God the angel Gabriel appears and tells Daniel he’s there to help.

So as I was thinking about this passage I felt the Lord leading me to do a ‘Daniel prayer’ which to me meant to simply say something like ‘God- send some angels to help us out- Gabriel- come on- what’s taking so long!’ And as soon as I prayed the thing I saw a giant meteor roll through the sky. Now- when I say giant I mean it. It was a huge ball of fire- I have never seen anything like it in real time.

So this obviously stuck with me- a sign from God maybe? Anyway I really never gave it much thought that it came right at a major transitional time in my life- I left the Fire Dept. and at the same time entered into a few new areas of doing ministry. In a way it was a Beginning of a new thing.

So as I’m reading Daniel the other day- I read chapter 9- probably the first time since seeing the meteor in 2007. And I read Gabriel saying ‘I’m the one you saw at the start- when you first started praying- I heard you and was sent forth- I’m now here’. I found it strange because these last few weeks during prayer I felt lead to ask for God to send- well yes angels. I mentioned Michael and Gabriel. So in a way it was like the Lord was saying- through Gabriel ‘I’m the sign you saw at the start- I finally made it’.

Now- one of the new ministry things I started was Facebook- lots of old friends and a few new ones. Because I’m such a political junky- I ‘friended’ a few of the sites that are called ‘Days of Rage’ these are the Arab/Persian nations who are protesting their leaders.

One of the friends on the site is from the tiny nation of Bahrain- if you look on a map it’s this little country sitting right off the coast- in the Persian Gulf. The reason this nation is getting a pass- as opposed to dropping bombs on them [like Libya] is because we have our 5th fleet docked there- this is our major sea base for the whole region.

But I have had a few good talks with the person who runs the site- and I feel doing stuff like this- reaching out to help—even in Arab/Muslim nations- that we as Christains should try and be involved- while at the same time sharing the gospel.

Many years ago while preaching at the jails- I met an exchange student who got arrested and was from the Persian Gulf area. He told me he was Muslim but he would appreciate it if I bought him a Persian language bible. So I ordered one and a few weeks later I gave it to him. He was really grateful- I guess he thought I would forget. This was the first [only?] foreign language bible I recall ever actually buying. But I have thought about it recently- kind of thinking ‘heck, maybe it’s because I have been praying for my friends in the Persian Gulf and somehow this was always a region we were to befriend’.

So this morning I read chapter 10 of Daniel [chapter 9 was the chapter referenced above] and Daniel is on his face- going through great trials- and Gabriel appears again and says ‘fear not Daniel- understand the words that I speak to you. Since the first day you began seeking God I was sent. But the Prince of the Kingdom of Persia withstood me, but lo, Michael, one of the chief princes [angels] came to help me… and I am now come to tell you what will happen to your people in the coming days’.

I just found the entire conversation between Daniel/God and the angels to have been speaking to me. I mean I was just praying about Persia- asking for God to send Gabriel and Michael [by name!] and I had no idea that I would stumble across these obscure Daniel chapters that include all these same elements.

Let me be frank- There are entire church movements [which I am very familiar with] that live their whole lives being led by stuff like this. These are often described as Prophetic or Apostolic movements. I have read lots- and been involved some with these churches and for the most part they are great Christians- It’s just I find at times they avoid ‘classical’ education. That is many of the things I write about and stuff I feel all believers should learn- many of these type churches have no time for ‘that stuff’ and they simply wait for the next ‘Daniel’ experience.

That is they look for details in scripture- things that are not always there. So I want to go on record to say I don’t see these types of experiences as the norm for the healthy Christian life. Yet- I have had them happen- and when they do it’s important to listen.

I thank the Lord that he has sent some help for us at this time- my friends in the Persian/Arab world as well as the ones here in the U.S. I thank God we are part of a real community of people- some have gone on to be with God- others are still here- and yes- we do have a company of angels that are also looking in on the thing [Hebrews, Revelation, etc.]

When we do all we can do and are at the end of the rope- like Daniel flat on his face- it helps when God sends an angel and says ‘heck- get up from the ground- stand up- we have work to do’.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

This is a letter one of my friends asked me to share- They are a Facebook friend

Bahraine Rage May 25 at 1:13pm Report
dear JohnI apologize for the inconvenience, but I need your help as you are an American citizeni wrote this letter to US administration, and i hope that you help me to send it through your friends too, if it is possible, i think it would be more effective if supported by American people.thank you very much in any case.Bahrain Rage this is the letter:The American people, human rights activists, journalists and reporters are our friends, we will never forget their noble attitude towards our revolution, but on the other hand, we would never forget the official American attitude which acted as main instigator that incited the dictatorial Regime to commit anti humanity crimes against us.People of Bahrain have raised their fare revolution started from the unfortunate fact they experience, this fact which is not different too much from the one of Arab nations who announced their revolution against corrupt regimes, such as Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Yemen and Libya. The only fault of those people is that their tiny island was a generous host for the UAs fleet, what prompted the USA government to take a contrary attitude to these of it, towards other Arab revolutions. So, instead of siding with peaceful people in response to their just cause, the USA government has committed to silence in public, and support in the shadows towards the oppression and abuse, that Al Khalifa Regime faced civilized people with. And instead of hastening to representation of its role as an advocate for democracy, as it claims, the USA government has adopted the style of lined incitement, which was embodied in its attitude from the entry of Peninsula Shield forces to Bahrain and the massacres and atrocities these forces have committed, which were shameful affront to humanity. And thus, the highest official in the state had declared that this intervention can’t be considered as an invasion, and that the American administration understands the military move by Al-Saud regime in Bahrain, by this, ignoring all principles it claims, to support the nations’ right of self determination and democratic systems.Despite suffering from the cruelty and brutality of this intransigent regime, through their peacefulness and their civilized march towards freedom, and by not being sucked to a sectarian strife that USA bet on to eliminate the revolution, people of Bahrain have proved to the entire world how conscious and intelligent they are, so they attracted all liberals and free people from several countries, and thus, apologists for them separated everywhere, not only believing in the justice of Bahraini people cause and that they are worthy of gaining their demands, but also that those whom have committed crimes against them should take retribution. And thus, voices started rising and cries overriding, causing headache to the White House and an obsession to both brutal regimes; Khalifi and Saudi. All this, has forced the USA Administration to have some changes on its strategy in order to save what can be saved, and to avoid the great embarrassment, on the external front that is of, in the position of the European Union which was entirely different from the outset, then the access of the issue to the threshold of The Huge Tribunal. Also on the eternal front which is represented in Presidential Elections that makes the Obama’s fate at stake.As Bahraini people are smart and conscious that cannot be taken in by deceits and tricks, they have announced a strong stand towards the USA Administration tries to contain the crisis and solve it in its own method. This was presented in the opposition announcement not to surrender, refusing to compromise on the key demands of the revolution. And as the scandal of the regime has escalated, and its internal crisis that was represented in the dispute within the ruling family that was reflected on the ranks of loyalists has started, beside the rising condemnation voices: internal and external to the USA policy, the former started heading towards more assertive tone with its ally and moving here and there to insidiously wraps around Bahraini people’ demands.And so we declare clearly for the entire world and to this aligned administration that we are aware of those tricks which some of were presented in the king’s declaration to end the state of emergency on the first of the next month and his recent statements that he tried through to absolve his responsibility from those crimes, the announcement of the Ministry of Interior of Providing those involved in the case of murder of the martyr Ali Saqer to investigation without declaring their names causing doubt on the sincerity of that. Then release a number of detainees as a result to the pressure of international human rights organizations.People after all these crimes of murders, robbing, terrorizing, torturing, insulting sanctities, not only would never accept less than the departure of Al Khalifa, but also will demand public trail to all those responsible for these crimes.Hence, we would like to advise this administration, that people of Bahrain would never forget those who stood by their side and supported their case. As well as, they would never forget those who conspired against them and their revolution, gave the green light to dictatorial rulers to suppress and oppress them. And no doubt this will be reflected negatively on the interests of this administration and on its relationship with Bahraini people in future.History has shown that at the end, victory is always an alliance for peoples, and tyrants must be thrown in the dustbin of history. The USA Administration should be aware of this fact very well, and try to correct its paths so as not regret them in future.And we think that window of opportunity stills in front, and that can be through declaration of supporting people without discrimination in their movement towards democracy, and seek to rein in the dictatorial regimes to stop them from the commission of repression and abuse their people, because these people are, who will remain, and will determine its foreign relations and those regimes are, which will be gone and Will not be beneficial any more to those parties that supported and backed them.In the end, our thanks to the various factions of people of the U.S.A, who reflected a completely different position of the official one. To all, ordinary citizens,Human rights activists, doctors, lawyers, journalists and correspondents. To free TV channels and fare press which quoted the truth as it is without bias at the time that Arab Media forsake and abandoned us.As well as to a number of members of Congress and honored senators who generously listened to us, we thank them all, and confirm that our loyal people will never forget their support to them, requesting more pressure on the USA Administration so it correct its strategy towards Bahrain and people of Bahrain.

Okay, I think today will be the last day for doing End Time stuff [for now]. Over these last few days I have tied to just hit a few key verses- things that are popular in the media because of the failed Camping prediction.

As I looked over Matthew 24 again this morning- there might have been 2 more areas I wanted to cover- but let’s stick with the verse above [the other area was Jesus teaching about his own 2nd coming- he actually says don’t ‘fall’ for those who say ‘see- here is Jesus- in the SECRET chambers’. He actually warns against having a belief in a secret return- which is actually what the Rapture is. He then says ‘for as the lightning shines from one end of the sky to the other- so shall the 2nd coming be’. Some actually think this is saying its secretive- that just like you miss seeing the lighting- because it’s so fast- so you might not see the return. In context all these verses are saying the coming of Jesus will be open and in full view. When you read the other descriptions Jesus gives- ‘Like a thief in the Night’ if you continue to read in context- these verses are saying many will be surprised- like when a robber comes- they are not saying no one will see!]

Okay- in Matt. 24 Jesus says ‘when you see the abomination of desolation stand in the holy place- flee to the mountains- leave the city- troubles on the way’. What does this mean? Jesus is quoting Daniel the prophet. In Daniel chapters 9-12 you read lots of detailed stuff- it’s easy to get lost in the many intricate interpretations some prophecy teachers get into here.

I just want to hit on the Abomination one. The term simply means ‘the wicked thing/person that will bring destruction’. Daniel was one of the Jews taken into captivity during the Babylonian captivity of Gods people. Daniel lived around 600 B.C. and you read in his book that when he was in exile he picked up the writings of the prophet Jeremiah and he figured out the years that God had foretold for the judgment on Israel [chapter 9].

As you look at all the verses about how many years so many things will take place in- one of the famous time verses is the 70 weeks prophecy. This prophecy is usually seen to be speaking about 70 weeks of years [490 years]. As you read and follow the years of the prophecy- it brings you right up unto the time of Christ.

The prophecy says there will be 490 years determined for the Jewish people- and from the decree to rebuild the temple to the appearing of Jesus there will be 69 weeks [of years]. Now- many scholars have traced the years from the decree that we find in the Old Testament to the time of Jesus and it amazingly brings you right up unto the time of Christ.

But the prophecy leaves the last ‘week of years’ out [some say]. If you measure the time right unto the Crucifixion of Jesus- then you have the last 7 years open. This is where many prophecy folk put the future 7 year tribulation. If you are familiar at all with these things- the popular version says in the last days the anti-christ will arise and make a covenant with Israel for 7 years- in the middle of the 7 years [3.5] he will ‘cause the sacrifice to cease’ and bring an end to temple worship and the sacrificial system. Wording like this is used in Daniel.

Now- in some of these verses in Daniel you are reading about Jesus- the prince- and in others your reading about the ‘bad’ prince- the ‘abomination that makes desolate’. Some have said if you trace the years [483] to the baptism of Jesus [instead of the Crucifixion] then you can view the ‘middle of the last week’ [3.5 years] as referring to the end of Jesus earthly ministry. If this is so- then ‘the prince who made the sacrifice to cease in the middle of the last week’ might be referring to the Cross of Christ.

The New Testament teaches [Hebrews] that the death of Christ was the final sacrifice for man- and his death caused the old sacrificial system to stop ‘the prince who causes the sacrifice to cease’ get it?

Either way- as you can see- there are various ways to view these time verses. Now- in 168 B.C. you had the wicked ruler- Antiochus Epiphanies- attack the Jewish temple and he set up a pagan altar and sacrificed a pig on the altar- this was the first fulfillment of the ‘abomination of desolation’. This began a process of the Hellenization of the Jewish people by Antiochus [Hellenization means imposing Greek culture and ways upon a foreign culture].

This event was avenged by a Jewish priest and his 5 sons [the most famous being Judas Maccabee]. The Catholic Apocryphal book of Maccabees records this event. This is known as the Maccabean Revolt and the Jewish people celebrate this event every Hanukah [I think it’s Hanukah- to be honest it’s been a long time since I read this- might want to double check].

So Jesus picks up on the Daniel prophecy- that was partially fulfilled in the 2nd century B.C. and he says there will be another ‘abomination that makes desolate’ and when you see him [or it?] ‘flee Jerusalem and run to the hills’. Now I mentioned the other day that many Jewish believers did run for the hills in A.D. 70- they took Jesus words as a warning and escaped the slaughter.

If Jesus were talking about the ‘end of the world’ why flee to the hills? I mean if I said ‘the world is ending- run from North Bergen to Fairview [my old hometown area]’ that wouldn't make much sense. So it is possible that the ‘abomination that makes desolate’ was fulfilled in some way during the 1st century. How?

There are various views on this- let me just give you one. Now- to my Jewish friends I want to be careful here- but understand this is a theological issue that weighed heavily on the minds of the 1st century Jewish believers. The sacrifice of Christ on the Cross is considered to be the final sacrifice for all men. In the New Testament you have very strong language used for those who continued to sacrifice animals after the once and for all sacrifice of Christ.

The book of Hebrews says those who do this are ‘trampling under their feet the Blood of Christ and are disrespecting his Blood’ strong words indeed [Hebrews]. Okay- in the 1st century you did not have the internet or media like we do today- so obviously God was not holding all the Jews responsible from day 1- that is it took some time before the word of the Cross would get out and those who believed would stop sacrificing animals. Basically God gave the Jewish nation a 40 year probationary period- a GENERATION [‘this generation’- remember?]

From the time of Jesus earthly ministry to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem [A.D. 70] you had just under a biblical generation- just like the prophecies said. What happened at the time of the destruction that might have been called ‘an abomination that makes desolate’? The Jewish nation continued to sacrifice animals right up until the end of the ‘40 year probationary period’ the time God gave them to fully embrace the once and for all sacrifice of Christ. This means it is possible that the abomination of desolation is speaking of the continued animal sacrifices that were ‘trampling under foot the Blood of Christ- and putting him to an open shame’.

In essence this act- continuing to sacrifice animals- was just as blasphemous as Antiochus sacrificing a pig on the altar- got it?

Okay- these past few days I floated lots of other ways to view the End Times teaching besides the most popular ways we hear about in the media [both 'Christian’ and secular]. I’m not saying my view- or these various views are the only ‘right way’ but I am saying we need to be careful as believers when we hear/learn certain views- and then confuse those views with ‘well brother- this is what the bible says!’ Often times people mean ‘this is what I think the bible says’ and we need to be careful that we are distinguishing between the two.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Let’s cover a little more on the End Times. Here in my study I have a couple of books that would fit in the category of Preterism. Preterism is the view that some Christians hold that says all the events spoken about by Jesus in these end times chapters were fulfilled in the 1st century.

The books are by R.C. Sproul [not a full Preterist] and Gary Demar [a full Preterist]. Demar's book is called ‘Last Days Madness’ and if you want a full study of this view- that would be the book to get.

Now- am I a Preterist? No. Like I said before- I try real hard to stay in the classical mainstream of Christian thought- and though Preterists make a good case- in the end I think they go too far.

But let’s talk a little about why certain believers have found it necessary to even make a defense like this. In the chapters of the bible that talk about the last days- there are frequent statements made that seem to indicate that the things being discussed would take place ‘quickly’ ‘shortly’ or at least in the lifetime of those hearing the message at the time. Jesus says ‘truly I say to you- this generation will not pass away until ALL these things are fulfilled’. Another time Jesus says ‘some of you standing here will not die until you see the kingdom come’.

So its passages like these that have caused some to make the effort to fit all the end times stuff within the 1st century. You say ‘but how can anyone think that the 2nd coming and the final judgment and all the end times events- how could they think it happened in the 1st century?’ Well before you scoff too much- believe me- these guys make a really thorough case. For instance they will show you verses in the Old Testament that use the same End Times language that Jesus uses about ‘my coming’ and the ‘judge will come to judge the world’ and they will show you that these prophecies were actually fulfilled by certain judgments that took place against the nation of Israel.

And there are Parables of Jesus that speak about his ‘coming’ and in some cases it is speaking about his resurrection and ascension and being seated at Gods right hand- that is ‘the coming’ was more of a view of Jesus ‘coming’ to sit on the right hand of God after he fulfilled his earthly mission. So as you can see, those who make this argument are not totally out in left field.

Okay- how do we answer the critics on the sayings about ‘this generation will not pass until all these things happen’. Like I said in the last post- some say Jesus was talking about a future generation- at least 2 thousand years down the road- who would be alive when the 2nd coming would happen. The problem with this view is in the New Testament you have the Greek language as the original language that you study when looking at these verses [the bible was originally written in Greek] and when you look at this terminology being used in other places- it is always speaking about the generation living at the time of the statement.

So that would make it hard to make the case that Jesus was speaking about some future generation down the road. Others say that ‘this generation’ can refer to a certain ethnic group [the Jewish nation]. While this can apply- yet again this is not the normal way the phrase is used.

So what’s the answer? I do believe that some of the ideas from the Preterists can help here. In the Old Testament there are what you call Dual Prophecies- prophecies that are fulfilled ‘twice’. If you study the events that took place during ‘the generation’ living at the time of these statements- they did indeed see these things happen. I mean you even have reports by 1st century historians [Eusebius- lived in the 3rd or 4th century- was a 1st century historian] that said at the time of the destruction of the temple [A.D. 70] there were accounts of people seeing chariots in the sky and all sorts of signs that Jesus mentioned in the Last Days passages.

Maybe tomorrow I will get a little more into some of the signs- but the fact is you can find just about every element of Jesus Last Times teaching being fulfilled in some way within the actual generation of those who heard him speak at the time.

However Christians decide to come down on these issues- it’s important to see that the prevailing American Evangelical view- that ‘this generation’ is speaking about the generation of people living at the time of the ‘blooming of the fig tree’ which is defined by some as the birth of the nation of Israel in 1948- that this teaching is not to be found in the bible.

While we do not know the time of Jesus return- and the ‘end of the world/age’ [another important distinction] we do know that the signs that Jesus gave us do count for something- it’s not wrong to look at the general signs of increased wars and natural disasters and the like- and to see that his coming is drawing near. Most commentators who have used these verses recently- even in the secular media- have actually been using them in context.

So we should avoid the temptation to date set- try not to add things into the passages that are not there [the fig tree meaning Israel in 1948] and avoid mocking the actual teaching in the bible that Jesus will indeed return some day- the apostle Peter said that in the End Times some would mock and say ‘where is the promise of his coming- we have been hearing it for our whole lives’. So we don’t want to fall into the category of mockers- yet we don’t want to date set either- no man knows the day- not even the Son.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Let’s do a little more on Eschatology [end times stuff] today. Over the last few weeks these things have been in the news because of the Harold Camping prediction and you have heard various news folk- as well as believers giving their slant to all the popular verses that deal with the subject.

Some media people were quoting ‘no one knows when the last day will happen- not even the Son, only God’. Then you have had a few other popular verses seep into the flow. The main portions of the bible that deal with the end times are Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. John’s gospel does not have an ‘end times’ discourse- possibly because he covers the subject in length in the book of Revelation.

The main gospel on the subject is Matthew- Mark’s gospel seems to be a shorter compilation possibly taken from Matthew. By ‘taken’ I mean Mark was a scribe/recorder- he was the personality we see in the book of Acts- John Mark. If you remember- he had a falling out with the Apostle Paul and Mark ‘went home’ while Paul took Silas and they embarked on the great missionary journeys of the Apostle.

You don’t hear that much about Mark after the ‘falling out’ but we know that Mark would later pen the 2nd gospel and he was also a recorder [secretary] for the Apostle Peter [might be important to remember this- if I get to it?]

So anyway mark seems to have borrowed from Matthew [some scholars think the familiarity between the gospels should be attributed to another unknown common source- referred to as Q- I prefer to simply see it as the writers being familiar with what the other writers were writing- and in the 1st century you did not have Plagiarism as we do today- where it would be illegal to copy something verbatim from another writer- that’s why Mark- who also probably penned 2nd Peter- not as a Plagiarist who used Pseudepigraphy- writings by authors who pretended to be someone else- but as a scribe who was familiar with the other source documents of the time. 2nd Peter has come under scrutiny because chapter 2 seems to have borrowed heavily from the letter of Jude. At some spots it looks like a direct copy. But as Peter’s scribe- it would not have been out of the ordinary to have included- verbatim- a passage from Jude and to have attributed the entire letter to Peter. Or Peter might have simply been familiar with Jude's letter and it would not have been wrong according to 1st century writing standards to have done this. But skeptics in our day try to use this to say the bible is a forgery- so that’s why it’s important to be familiar with the debate and to have a good response.]

Okay-lets at least try and start a little end times stuff. Matthews 24 begins with Jesus and the disciples walking away from the Temple and Jesus says ‘see all these buildings- truly I tell you that there will not be left one stone on top of another’.

The disciples then ask Jesus ‘when will this happen- and what will be the sign of the end of the age/world, and the sign of your coming’. Now- this sets the stage for the entire scope of the answer. Jesus told them one thing ‘the temples coming down some day’ and they ask a few things.

Some scholars believe that the entire answer Jesus gives- about the end of the world and the coming tribulation- some teach that all these things did happen by A.D. 70- that’s when the Roman general Titus [future emperor] attacked the city of Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. Jesus prediction about ‘one stone not being left on another’ was fulfilled to the tee because the temple stones were overlaid with Gold and the looters burned the stones to melt the gold and in the process they literally laid every stone out.

In the Matthew discourse Jesus also warned the disciples that ‘when you see these things beginning to happen- let those in the city flee to the mountains’. As Titus made his way towards Jerusalem some early communities took his words literally and did use the mountains as a place for protection. The community at Qumran hid their writings in ‘the mountains’ that overlooked the Dead Sea- some 2 thousand years later these writings [scrolls] would be discovered- those are the Dead Sea Scrolls of today- one of the greatest archeological finds of history.

And there were Jewish believers at Jerusalem who did indeed flee to the mountains and they escaped the slaughter. So there certainly were things that Jesus spoke about in his 'end times’ teaching that were fulfilled in the 1st century.

But what about the other famous portions? As various media persons were quoting a few famous parts of this discourse [this is the 4th famous discourse known as the Olivet discourse in Matthew- 5 famous long sections of Jesus’ teaching] it would help us to know the entire context of the discourse [which includes chapter 25 by the way].

One of the famous verses is ‘when you see the fig tree putting forth leaves- you know that summer is near- so when you see these signs you know the end is near’. In American evangelicalism this verse has been made popular by men like Hal Lindsay who teach that the fig tree is ALWAYS a symbol for the nation of Israel and therefore Jesus was saying that when Israel becomes a nation again [which happened in 1948] that within ‘a generation’ the end will happen.

This view uses a few other verses to come to this conclusion. Jesus famous ‘this generation will not pass away until all these things happen’ and a few other scriptures. Simply reading the chapter in context does not seem to be saying this at all. The parallel passage in Luke says ‘and all the trees’. It seems like Jesus is simply saying ‘just like when you see a tree blossom- so when you see these signs know that the time is near’.

There really is nothing in the actual text to indicate that this is speaking about 1948. But because of these verses having been used like this many preachers have tried to date the coming of Christ within ‘the generation’ from1948. Lindsey put out a book saying that 1988 was a ‘special time’ why 88? 1988 was 40 years [biblical generation] from 1948. Then some changed the biblical generation to 70 years- which makes this decade real important.

The problem with all these dates is there based on a faulty premise- that Jesus was saying that within a generation of the ‘fig tree blooming’ the 2nd coming will take place- he never said that. As far as I can tell 1948 plays no significant role. Of course Israel becoming a nation again at that time was a great thing- but as a date to begin setting off some type of spiritual clock- that’s not in the bible.

Okay- maybe I’ll do a few more of these over the next few days. Try and read these chapters the next few days and get a feel for the overall meaning [the context] when we become familiar with the overall meaning of the passage- it keeps us from getting lost in the Fig Tree ones.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


I spoke with a friend yesterday about the Harold Camping prediction that obviously failed. They know someone who is really into Camping and that person was being set up for the disappointment. On CNN they had a Baptist preacher who warned against this type of date setting- yet he spoke confidently about ‘the Rapture is the next event on Gods calendar- followed by the 7 years of great tribulation’.

I’m sure this fine pastor felt like he was providing a balanced voice compared to Camping’s date setting- yet I felt his interpretation was almost as ‘bad’ as what Camping was doing. Why?

My first introduction to ‘the Rapture’ came as a new believer who started attending a fine Baptist church- they were an ‘Independent, Fundamentalist, Pre-millennial’ Baptist church – and yes- they managed to fit all this on the sign!

The standard teaching says that in the New Testament there are 2 separate events that make up the 2nd coming. The first event is called The Rapture- that Jesus secretly comes all the way back to the earth and stops short in the sky [his feet don’t touch the ground] he ‘catches away’ all true believers [normally the Catholics, Orthodox and other historic churches get ‘left behind’] and then begins a 7 year tribulation period.

After the tribulation you have the other part of the 2nd coming- called the Revelation of Jesus- some Christians say this happens after 3.5 years of tribulation- others after the 7 year period.

Some say Jesus comes back after a 1000 year literal reign on earth [post millennial] others say before [pre- millennial].

And then you have various ways they interpret the end time judgment- some say you have what’s called ‘the Bema seat’ a separate judgment for believers- and then the ‘Great White Throne judgment’ the general judgment of the wicked.

O.K. does the bible specifically teach that the Rapture event is a separate event from the 2nd coming? No- in my view the bible does not teach this. Now- I’m sure that most of my Protestant readers are surprised that I hold to this view, because in American Evangelicalism this view is almost like the Trinity- in some circles it divides the true believers from the heretics.

Classic Christianity does not hold this view- this idea became popularized the 1800’s under a man by the name of John Nelson Darby and the idea spread to America in the 1900’s- primarily thru the revivalist strain of Christianity- and the ‘bible school/conference’ movement.

The historic churches just stuck with the classic idea that there will be one second coming- and there will be a resurrection and final judgment. I pretty much fall into this category myself.

You would be surprised how much thought has gone into this idea- I mean you have entire schools of thought- who call the other side heretics- just because they believe a 3.5 year tribulation as opposed to a 7 year one.

The word rapture comes from the Greek phrase used in Paul’s 1st letter to the Thessalonians- chapter 4. That’s the rapture chapter. The apostle says that Jesus will return and catch up [catch away] the believers into the air- they will forever be with God. This event is biblical- I believe it will someday take place. I simply believe this event to be the 2nd coming- not another event that you would define as the rapture.

I believe if you simply read the 2nd coming passages in the New Testament- that you would see this to be the most acceptable view. Jesus actually says ‘after these things [the great tribulation] then the sign of the coming of the Son of Man appears in heaven’ and he goes on to say ‘one will be taken- the other left’. It seems pretty clear to me that the event where ‘one is taken- another left’ takes place ‘after these things’ Jesus actually gives us the time table.

To be fair- the other side has many-many ways to ‘get around’ these verses- I just feel that after all is said and done- that the best way to view The Rapture is to see this event as the actual 2nd coming.

I have written a lot about this over the years [under the End Times section] and my purpose today is not to ‘prove’ whose view is right- I have found those tasks to be next to impossible. My point is if a believer [or group of them] chooses to break away from the historic church’s position on anything, then you need to think thru it very carefully. Most classic Christian churches have had very wise and knowledgeable men who thought long and hard before they articulated doctrine.

This is not to say that the majority view is always right- but it’s simply a safe guide to stick with the majority Christian view most of the time. I’m very aware of the minority report when it comes to the Rapture doctrine- I just feel like the portions of scripture that are used to ‘prove’ the doctrine are not strong enough to overthrow the classic belief.

The plain teaching of the New Testament is that there most definitely will be a Second Coming- and this event does not take place in 2 stages- the Rapture is the 2nd coming.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


As you well know- today will be our last day together. Yes- at 6:oo tonight the world is supposed to end. I first stumbled across the article a few weeks ago. The famous preacher from the east- Harold Camping- has once again predicted the return of Christ [or the Rapture].

Camping has gone down this road before- and I have a friend who actually follows Camping and I have tried to be nice about it- but of course most Christians believe Camping is part of a long line of well meaning men- who can’t resist the temptation to date set.

Now- I of course do not fall for stuff like this- I am not that gullible for heaven’s sake, some kind of conspiracy nut. Plus- if the world ends today- then how will we ever catch Bin Laden [of course you heard- he’s still alive?] hiding in Pakistan- with the fake birth certificate duplicator machine- you know- the one he used to fake Obama’s long form!

So yes- we as believers do have a history of doing silly things at times- and for some reason these things take on a life of their own. Many years ago I had a friend [Emit- for those of you who have read my posts these past few weeks- you now know who he is] he was/is sort of a spiritual son- you know- one of the sons of the guys hooked on drugs who eventually became a member of our little church movement.

So one day Emit tells me about the movie Jesus of Nazareth. It came out years ago and they did a good job at depicting the life of Christ. He says ‘did you see the actor who played Jesus? Wow- he was mysterious/spooky’ he watched it with his family and they felt touched by the actor who played Christ.

So I of course opined ‘You know brother- after the movie was made- when you look at the credits at the end- no name shows up for the actor. Then when the other actors and the director questioned each other- no one knows who the actor is!’

Now- of course I was kidding- and I made sure I told Emit ‘brother- just kidding’. But you know how these urban myths go- once you start them- there hard to stop!

So a few years later [maybe 5?] I was talking to his mother in law [Yolanda- another church member who was a woman preacher who did preach and had influence with other Christians- she was Emit’s mother in law]. And somehow she says ‘hey brother John- did you know that no one knows who the actor was in that Jesus movie’. I asked her ‘Yolanda- who told you that?’ she says ‘Emit’.

Now- after all those years the story got out- I mean I wish the truth could spread like this. For all I know there might be an entire group of people in Texas- you know- the ‘anonymous Jesus movie actor believers’ who all believe this story. Heck I always wanted to head up a movement.

But things like this do have a tendency to get around. So anyway that’s how the ‘end of the world is today’ thing has caught on. Now- will the world end today? Doubt it. Will ‘the world’ make fun of us? Sure. Will Christians continue to do things like this? Probably. How can we avoid doing things like this?

The safe way to go- in my view- is to stay connected to the historic church as much as possible. The Christian church has a good- long tradition of Christian truth. For the most part- the stability you find in the Christian classics- the church fathers- Patristics- this tradition is a good one.

Harold Camping is a good man- but he is a retired civil engineer- I’m sure he means well- but try and get your info from men who have been educated- yes thru the more traditional forms of education. Yes- I know ‘who are you to talk- you’re a retired fire fighter!’ But I try to offset that with many years of study- not just bible study- but studying the things I just mentioned. Taking the attitude that I can learn from those who have been at this longer than me. Camping believes ‘all the churches’ are now in deception- yes- he has another weird teaching that says the ‘church age’ has ended and there are no longer any true churches in the world today.

I hope most of you will not fall for stuff like this- we have bigger fish to fry- heck- I need to go out today and start the ‘anonymous Jesus actor followers’ are you in?

Friday, May 20, 2011


The president gave his speech yesterday on the Middle East- many observers were waiting to hear what he was going to say. Some conservatives are upset- they felt he ‘thru Israel’ under the bus. Basically the administrations 2 year effort to establish a path to peace between Israel and the Palestinians- under George Mitchell- ended abruptly the other day when Mitchell announced he was done dealing with it.

So you have some advisers who want to take a pro Israel stance- others are more pro Palestinian. Obama went a little more pro Palestinian and he publicly stated that the talks need to start from the pre 1967 borders. This was a bit much for the pro Israel lobby- and even Netanyahu publicly called for the president to reaffirm the 2004 accord agreed to under former president Bush.

So things are a little hot right now. He also dealt with the protests in the Middle East/North Africa. He said to Assad [Syria’s leader] that you either ‘lead- or get out of the way’. To be frank this language confuses me- lead? The man has slaughtered many innocents- we have treated the Libyan leader like a war criminal for this very thing- actively trying to kill him- and in the process have killed his son and 3 grandkids- all justified under the so called NATO agreement.

Now- for us to be targeting him for death- though we deny it- yet as NATO keeps bombing spots where we think he is- after each assassination attempt- NATO says ‘we targeted that spot because it was being used to organize aggression against civilians’. They are basically justifying the assassination attempts by saying ‘wherever he is- that spot is a danger to civilians- so in our agreement to ‘protect civilians’ we can bomb that spot’. Okay- fine- Nato/U.S. wants to kill the guy- but please stop telling us that we are not targeting those spots because we think he’s there- don’t lie about the thing.

So Assad actually gets another chance to lead- or ‘get out of the way’ while the other guy gets chased by bombs. Just seems too inconsistent. Saudi Arabia? No mention about them at all.

I do realize it’s hard to ‘be consistent’ when the whole region is in turmoil- but heck- cant we at least try?

As I watched the media response to the speech- it was interesting to see both sides of the political aisle give their views. Fahreed Zacharia- a very knowledgeable CNN personality- he seemed to put every one of the president’s points in the best possible light. It recently slipped out that he actually advises the president on certain world issues. No wonder. And Beck and the conservatives said Obama abandoned Israel and that if Israel falls that’s the end of the western world as we know it because Israel is the cornerstone of the U.S.

I think an honest evaluation can find both good and bad out of the speech. I find it difficult to believe a reporter can really be non biased- especially if his advice is what the president used to make the speech. And I feel that to take the position that any nation is the key part- that to do anything that might seem negative towards them- that to describe it as the possible collapse of the West- well that too is a little much.

I do feel that the NATO thing needs a lot more scrutiny- if we are now going to allow NATO- and our guys- to engage in a stealth assassination attempt of any world leader. That is for our troops [pilots] being actively involved in the obvious targeting of a leader- evil yes- but if we are saying ‘no- we are not trying kill him’ and it’s obvious we are- then who’s next? The whole NATO operation needs to be more clear- if we are not targeting him- then stop trying to kill the guy. If we are targeting him- then quit saying we are not. Our guys deserve better than that.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I should start an entire blog section called ‘THE CRITIQUE OF MSNBC’, but then maybe that would be giving them a little too much free advertising. Okay- let’s start off with the other night- Chris Matthews was in L.A. and they were covering politics. He goes into this rant on Sarah Palin- saying she has made no efforts to get a simple education. That if she was a serious candidate for higher office then she should at least have spent the last few years reading papers- or getting some basic elementary school type education; history, geography, etc.

He was dead serious. He then interviews a woman liberal- who even though she seems to be on the same side of the aisle as Matthews- even the look on her face was ‘I can’t believe this guy gets away with stuff like this on national T.V.’.

First- I am no fan of Palin. I don’t think she should run for president- nor would I vote for her. But for a male TV personality to regularly accuse the woman of being an uneducated ignoramus- to the point where he actually portrays her in such a demeaning way- it’s unbelievable.

Sarah Palin became the governor of Alaska and held an executive position that was noble. She did indeed drop out- which did make her look bad- but to portray her in a light that says she does not possess an elementary knowledge of anything- it’s totally demeaning- and I think liberal women should at least tell the guy that his demeaning, never ending portrayals of her should end.

Okay- in the rant of Matthews- he mentioned her Christian belief [evangelical, who attended an Assembly of God church for a while] how she [along with all others of this stripe] are actually idiots- because they believe the bible- they reject ‘science’ [evolution] and they believe- quote- the ‘bible is 6 thousand years old’. He said this multiple times.

Now- as much as I defend Catholics on my site- I have had to correct the Catholic misinterpretations of MSNBC hosts on a number of occasions. Do Evangelicals, Catholics, Protestants- Orthodox Christians believe ‘the bible is 6 thousand years old’? No. So what in the heck is he talking about? He is trying to say that some fundamentalist Christians think the EARTH and the history of man is 6 thousand years old. Big difference.

Most Christians agree that the first 5 books of the bible [Pentateuch, Torah] were written by Moses [big debate in theological circles- but most believe Mosaic authorship]. Now- Moses lived around 12- 1400 years before Christ. Some real liberal scholars date the authorship of Genesis around 1- 3 hundred years before Christ. This view holds to the idea that the Jewish people ‘made up’ the history of the Old Testament as a sort of cultural way to deal with their captivity [ under Babylon, Rome, etc.] and that the Old Testament was written at that time.

Most serious scholars reject this idea. So anyway if Moses is generally believed to have written the first 5 books- that would mean that most Christians [including Palin’s brand] believe the bible is around 32-34 hundred years old- not 6 thousand.

I want to be careful here- I grew up in N.J. and over the years have come to appreciate the area of my youth more and more. Why? After studying world [and U.S.] history for many years- you see the North East as being at the heart of the American heritage.

One of the first history books I bought after moving to Corpus Christi [a cheap book sale in one of our malls] was on the Puritans- and after reading all the history taking place in my old stomping grounds- I became a lifelong student of the area.

Okay- one of the problems I see with my old area- is there can be an elitist mindset among some intellectuals [even fake intellectuals]. The mindset often expresses itself in the way liberals speak about other ‘less informed’ folk. I had a conversation one time with a person who was mocking Palin- the person said ‘she is such an idiot- she said you could see Russia from her house’. Now- as a big political watcher myself- I knew this actual quote was wrong.

Palin actually said ‘did you know you can see certain parts of Russia from Alaska’. The person I was talking to absolutely denied this- she said that she personally heard her say it. I informed the person that this actually has become a modern urban myth- that the Tina Fey skit on SNL was where the fake quote came from- that the real quote was the Russia being seen from Alaska quote- not ‘my house’. So- as most liberals [and yes- conservatives too] we are usually not willing to admit that we are wrong- especially during a tirade of exposing the other side as ignoramuses.

So we left it at that. In all of our learning in life- it’s important to try and view the opposing side as favorably as possible. I not only do not believe the ‘bible is 6 thousand years old’ but I also do not believe the earth is 6 thousand years old. I believe Dinosaurs are real [were!]. I believe that there are certain aspects of Evolution that are indeed true- for instance the ‘survival of the fittest’ is indeed a true scientific fact.

The reality is that species do change and adapt over time- yet the ‘other reality’ is we have never- not once- been able to verify this happening between species of living things. That is the theory of Darwin says this is how all the species arrived on the planet- from one common living cell. Science does not show this to have happened- either in the natural environment- or in the laboratory.

So science shows us that Natural Selection does indeed happen- but it does not happen [as far as science goes] between species. As a matter of fact- if a person just went with the current understanding of time and matter commonly held by most scientists- you would not at all have the picture that Darwin painted. Modern science says the earth is a little over 4 billion years old. For the first 3.5 billion years we have no record [Fossil] of complex structures being on the earth.

Our geologic history says complex life structures appeared during the Cambrian era [500 million years ago- referred to as the Cambrian Explosion] and that even according to the Evolutionary scientists- 500 million years is not enough time for Evolution to have happened.

You basically would have needed the Evolutionary process to have started during the first few hundred million years of earth’s history- not the last.

But the average ‘mocker of evangelicals’ has no idea about any of this- he just says ‘they think the bible is 6 thousand years old’. So it would do us all some good if we came to the table with a little more humility. Christianity has a long and deep heritage of wisdom.

Much of this heritage comes to us from the Catholic Church [of which Matthews is a member]. There are many believers who have made great strides in our understanding of creation and existence. Even many fundamentalists accept the idea that the earth is billions- not thousands of years old. So let’s try and have an honest conversation in this country- if I disagree with your politics- then let me make my case and you make yours. But if I degrade you- either by doubting your birth certificate- or by constantly portraying you as an idiot- who lacks a grade school education- well that gets us nowhere.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Let me try to cover a few current events. This week we had a few presidential hopefuls drop out of the race- and a few announce. Newt Gingrich did his first Sunday news interview since officially getting into the race.

David Gregory- Tim Russert’s replacement on NBC- did an okay interview- but he did raise the question of racism [so soon!]. Yes- he questioned Newt’s speech where he mentioned that Obama is the ‘food stamp president’. That is Newt criticized the economic policies of this administration and said how we have over 40 million people on food stamps. That the lack of the president’s ability to create jobs is seen in the food stamp [and welfare] rates rising.

Gregory questioned whether or not this played into the race game. Now- MSNBC and one of the most biased news people in the media today [Chris Matthews] had on 2 liberal minded men. He got right into the race card- he played it hard and long. To my surprise- both of the liberals he interviewed disagreed with him. They distanced themselves from the race card.

One of the men- Richard Wolfe- is an Obama insider. He has lots of access to the inner workings of the White House. He has written books on the president and he is close to the real sources. I had to ask myself why both of these liberal minded men agreed with me- that to use the race card on something like this is shameful.

I realized that as ‘true insiders’ they know that this type of accusation surely does not play well in Rio Linda. That is the majority of voters- especially white independents- they might not say it- but this stuff does not gain votes.

As smart politicos- these Obama supporters knew this- and for the welfare of the president, whom they support- they did the right thing. Matthews- well he’s a lost cause.

One of the things that gets raised with the Newt debate is the accusation that our president is ‘anti- colonial’ or that he is an ‘anti colonial Kenyan’. In the past I have defended the president against this accusation- yet at the same time others who have defended the president against this accusation have seemed to not know what they are talking about [Matthews again].

These last few years Newt Gingrich has positioned himself for a possible run for the White House. One of the things he has done is he has converted to Catholicism. Now- I do not question his conversion- as a matter of fact if you realize that Newt is an intellectual- than the conversion to a Christian denomination that has the greatest intellectual heritage of them all- well that just makes sense.

As a new convert Newt is obviously going to read the books of other Catholic intellectuals. And a top seller during this time was a book by Dinesh Desouza. A Catholic intellectual himself. The book critiqued the development of the political/social thought of the president. It covered the presidents own journey as he grew up and later learned more about his father’s struggle- and the black mans struggle in general. The president wrote about this in his book Dreams of my Father.

Part of the critique that Dinesh mentioned is that the presidents father- like many Kenyans and other foreign ethnic groups- had what you would describe as an ‘anti colonial’ mindset. What’s that? Our world has gone thru many stages of growth and development. Some stages were good- other times bad [the Hitler stage!] After the great breakthroughs in science and technology that occurred during the 18th-19th centuries- you had European [western] world powers colonizing other parts of the world. Africa [Kenya] as well as other Arab nations became colonies of the west.

The famous struggle of Gandhi was all about India breaking away from Britain’s rule over them. They indeed were ‘anti colonial’. Now- in this conversation many can’t believe [Matthews] that anyone would ever even venture to say that the president might be ‘anti colonial’ as in if this is a bad thing. Geez- America is ANTI COLONIAL for heaven’s sake. We revolted against the English king and became a nation of our own.

So the anti colonial mindset-in itself- is not so terrible. Yet some of the president’s accusers do use the accusation as saying the president buys into the whole spirit of anti colonialism- which in many parts of the world does come with an anti American attitude- why? Well they resent our political influence in their nations.

The present protests going on in the Arab world also play strongly into this feeling. Many in the western media have simplified the reasons for the Arab protests. Some [Beck] simply see a radical world uprising that wants to take over the world. Others are a little more thoughtful- they see the actual religious divisions in these countries [between Sunni and Shii] and they tell the story of one sect of Islam fighting the other sect. But this too is ‘too’ simple.

I read an article a while back- written by a Muslim woman who lives in Bahrain. She said that when the west views the protests in her country as simply a Shiite majority population protesting a Sunni minority dynasty- that this narrative misses the point. She explained how in the Arab world there is a strong undercurrent running thru the unrest- and that this undercurrent is anti colonial in nature.

She explained how many of the younger generation Muslim/Arabs are seeing their leaders as sell outs- that their rulers have a sort of unwritten colonial pact with the west- and that this unspoken agreement says ‘if you work with us in fighting the radicals among you- we in turn will support you- even if you treat your people badly’. Thus you had the uprising in Egypt that ousted the long term president. Mubarak was indeed America’s strongest ally in the Arab world- he had maintained a cold peace with Israel for 30 years- and the west loved it.

So in essence the protests are not really about the religious divide within Islam [The divide itself dates back to the 7th century under the founder Mohammad. After Mohammed’s death he was replaced by another top organizational leader- who was not related by blood to Mohammed. This passing of of the leadership- by ability as opposed to blood- this is called Sunna- the example of the prophet spoken about in the Hadith.

Those who describe themselves as Sunni adhere to this example. The other side- Shii [partisan] broke away from this idea and instead believed that the leadership should pass thru those who have blood relations to the former leader. This division has existed till this day and that’s why in some nations you have the Sunni in charge- and in others the Shii.

In Bahrain- when they repressed the protestors- they appealed to another Sunni led nation- Saudi Arabia- and they sent their soldiers into Bahrain to put down the uprising. On the other side of the coin you have Iran [Shii leadership] backing Assad in Syria because he too adheres to their division.

So some in the western media have played this up as the main cause of the protests- when in reality it plays a smaller role than you would think.

Okay- all that to say this. If the defenders of the president want to defend him against ‘anti colonial’ accusations- then have some background into what’s going on. If you want to criticize Newt for the accusation- realize that it’s not totally unfounded- and it’s not wrong to be anti colonial. All our founding fathers were.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


There are a lot of things I want to hit on today- let me start with an article I read in the paper yesterday. It was a study that compared students who studied physics using 2 different methods. The traditional lecture room environment- taught by veteran teachers. Versus an interactive classroom environment taught by inexperienced students [no teacher] who simply shared the things they were learning with each other.

To the shock of the traditional advocates- the kids who were taught without a teacher scored twice as high on the tests as those who sat in the classroom. The study was headed up by a top rated scientist who works for the president.

This reminded me of all the teaching I did over the years on the nature of the church [the study on the blog is called ‘what in the world is the church’]. After years of studying and doing many of the ‘interactive’ principles found in the study- I do see how important it is for believers to interact with each other- not just during ‘fellowship’ times- but as a main part of worship.

It is no accident that the churches in the New Testament were structured along these lines. In the bible you simply did not have churches structured around a single figure who ‘lectured’ week after week to the people. Now- this debate has been raging for a while amongst those who debate stuff like this. And a few years back some scholars from the more traditional view really went after the more ‘organic’ type church brothers.

But overall I believe the interactive ‘church meeting’ is really the most biblical way to go. I still think there is room for the more traditional style of ‘lecture hall’ but that is a small part of being in Christian community- yet for many that seems to actually be what they refer to as ‘the local church’ very limited perspective indeed [you can also read my short book on the left of the blog site- Further Talks on Church and Ministry].

Okay- maybe I’ll hit a few more thoughts in keeping with this idea. After the fellowship lunch the other day I invited Henry [my homeless friend] back to the house for the day. These guys are on the streets most of the day and they appreciate being able to rest and catch some news on the tube.

Once again as Henry left he told me ‘John- this was one of the best days I have had in a long time’. He told me this the last time I had him over. Why? What I do with Henry is I try not to act the ‘preacher/pastor’ role. That is I share and interact with Henry as an equal. Henry just so happens to be real knowledgeable when it comes to the bible and theology.

Part of the discussion was Henry sharing how the letter to the Romans [written by the apostle Paul] was the only letter written to a church that Paul did not found himself. Now- I knew this before- and most bible students know this- but yet it started a conversation that both of us could engage in. Henry had read somewhere that the church at Rome might have been started by the Diaspora [the scattered] Jews/Christians who dispersed after the Martyrdom of Stephen in Acts chapter 7.

I told Henry that I actually taught on this before- but I referenced the dispersion that took place in Acts chapter 2. At the day of Pentecost there were Jewish worshippers who came from all parts of the known world at the time- they were gathered at Jerusalem for the big holiday.

After the Spirit came on the early church- these believers went back to their homes and some of them did indeed go back to Rome.

Either way- the point is that Paul did not start the church at Rome- and there are no records [in the bible] of who was the first founder [yes Peter also went to Rome- but he too was not the initial 'church planter’].

Okay- why even mention this? I think Henry has these ‘best days of my life’ days because the fellowships we have are based on the organic church style- that is I’m not always ‘preaching’ to him in the conventional sense.

I hope to get with the guys again this week- same place [Sirloin Stockade off of SPID in Corpus] I will let everyone know a day ahead- so if you guys want to make it a weekly thing you can join the group. But I have been meeting with these friends for 20 years now- just sharing the interactive way.

The above study was said to have been a real wake up call to the actual veteran lecturers- they couldn’t believe that the students on their own- without the ‘pro’ lecturing them- would do twice as well as the students who sat ‘in church’ [the lecture room] simply listening to the able speaker- speak.

The apostle Paul knew this trick 2 millennia ago- he wrote the church at Corinth ‘and when you meet together- let everyone of you share what you have learned- do it in order- but let everyone speak’ I like Paul’s method a lot.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


We had a good fellowship the other day- I and 2 homeless bro’s got with 2 Kingsville originals and we all ate at the Sirloin Stockade. I want to try and meet once a week for lunch in Corpus- everybody is welcome by the way. I’ll try and mention it on the sites [Blog, Facebook] a day ahead of time, and you are all invited.

I will only cover the cost of the homeless guys though- everyone else it’s Dutch. Okay- this week I have been reading revelation chapter 5. We see this image of John the apostle standing in the throne room of God and God has this book in his hand. John is upset because no one is able to open the book and loose the seals. As John is upset, one of the elders comes up to him and tells him not to worry- Jesus- the Lion of the tribe of Judah, he has prevailed to open the book and to break the seals.

The vision is you have these elders and beasts and John and a multitude of angels and people from all nations- it’s a great gathering of saints of the most high- a true picture of the people of God.

I applied the vision to our little fellowship- made up of people from all over- different ethnic backgrounds and cultures. And John the apostle is struggling with this mandate to get the message out. Remember- the book of Revelation begins with Jesus telling John ‘write these letters to the 7 churches’ so John has this task to communicate this message from God. Yet he runs up against the classic roadblock ‘Who is worthy’ in so many words ‘why did you pick me for the job- I’m not able to do it’. You hear the words of Isaiah here- Isaiah said ‘I am a man of unclean lips- in the middle of a bunch of unclean people!’ Geez Isaiah- you’re not only too hard on yourself, but everyone else!

In the Isaiah vision God takes a coal and uses it to cleanse the lips of the prophet. So John is distraught over the fact that this book is sealed- and no matter how hard he tries- he cant open the thing. Jesus steps up to the plate and takes it and opens it. The whole community rejoices- they sing this song- a new song ‘Worthy is the lamb to open the book and to loose the seals thereof, for thou wast slain and hast redeemed us unto God by thy Blood out of every kindred and tribe and tongue and nation- and hast made us priests and kings unto God our father’. Yes, I put this verse to memory this week and sang it all thru out the week.

Sure- my wife said ‘who are you talking to’. I just blew it off- I have been talking to myself for years. So I’m identifying somewhat with John- also struggling to ‘open the book and loose the seals’. These last few weeks I dropped our radio program and was in a mad rush to get the shows on line [there on now]. But I dropped on a Friday and wanted to have them up by that Sunday.

So after ordering some equipment on line [stuff to convert tape to computer drive] and having my daughter teach me a few computer things [I am computer illiterate- really. Just looking at HTML/JavaScript is like reading a foreign language!]. But even though I was ‘unworthy to open the book and loose the seals’ somehow by Gods grace we were up and running by Sunday.

So as I’m praying/singing the ‘new song’- kind of an intercessory thing- believing God to help us get the word out. Sure enough I sing the thing and the bell rings. That was my buddy Emit [last post] and from that surprise visit a few doors opened to get together more often with the brothers.

Of course I’m just applying these things- obviously revelation is not about eating at the big cow! But God does use stuff like this to speak to us- the principle of Jesus alone being the one who is worthy to ‘open the book’ well that’s a truism that will always be there.

Down the road I hope to teach a little more on the book of Revelation. It’s really not as hard as it might look. Basically you have the command of Jesus to John to write the 7 letters. John sees Jesus as the one who will assist him in getting the message out. The book had 7 seals. The opening of the last seal releases 7 trumpets. And the last trumpet leads to 7 bowls [vials]. Then you have the last few chapters that speak about the wrapping up of the kingdom and the resurrection and the final judgment. You end with a new heaven and a new earth and whoever wants ‘let him come and drink of the water of life’. That’s really it- sure you do have a lot of numbers and images and stuff- but overall this is the basic outline of the book.

In the book of Daniel he sees a lot of the same things that John sees in the book of Revelation- but Daniel is told to seal up the vision- for the time was not ready. John is told to ‘un seal’ it- the time is at hand. For many of the new friends that came in this last year- the time was ready for you guys to ‘read the book’ so to speak. Just remember the key- only Jesus has the ability to show you what’s in the book- to make it clear. Read and pray and ask God to help you understand- he alone can do it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I had a surprise visit last night- one of my original ‘church members’ stopped by to see me. Emit was the 2nd generation family, a son of one of the guys who was hooked on Heroin in the early days. Emit’s dad [Emit senior] was also part of the first group of members.

I would hold bible studies for the guys in the county jail- some were waiting for their court dates- they would do lots of time in Texas’ famous prison system- others were just doing time for minor offenses- things related to their drug addictions.

So anyway Emit Jr. was in that first group. I would pick up his dad for our church meetings [first held at an old abandoned hospital- later moved to my garage]. We had around 30 or so people who made up our little group. Mostly families of the guys I met thru the jail meetings. But every so often we had someone hear about us and they would join our group.

I remember Roy and Kathy- they were in this group of ‘normal people’. Roy was a liberal news reporter for the local paper- and Kathy was a bible college graduate. I don’t know how they found us- but they liked the bible studies I would do and they became good friends. The same with Hubert and his wife Katy.

Hubert actually taught at a regional bible school [Pan Am school/church] sponsored by the Presbyterian Church. It was their Latin American outreach school- located in Kingsville. So we had some up-standing folk as well. As I was fellowshipping with Emit we had some good laughs. I told him now that I’m posting the radio shows on the blog that in the future I’m going to post some of the old recordings from the early days. You can hear Emits dad on these tapes.

It was funny- the guys acted like we were just hanging out at my house- even during the church meetings! Emit [Sr.] had a habit of raiding my fridge right before the meetings would start- I mean I couldn’t keep Pecan Pies away from the brother. I eventually hid the good stuff before Emit got there. Hey I loved the bro. but the Pecan Pies were not part of the deal!

Emit told me he still has a few of these tapes and he hears his dads voice on some of them- His dad has been dead for many years now. He was clean at the time- but he ruined his liver with the Heroin and it finally caught up with him. His dad met his wife- Janie- at our little church. Janie was a single mom who had a bunch of boys- I worked with her sons and she would attend the church- Emit met Janie and sure enough they got married. They were a nice couple.

So last night Emit calls some of the other original group [geez- he had all their numbers in his phone]. So in a few hours I will be taking Emit, David [Buentello] and Henry [one of the homeless guys] to lunch in Corpus. David and Emit both work in Corpus now- they still live in Kingsville.

David too was a ‘founding member’ I met his dad while preaching at the jail- Leonard was a long time addict. Once again I met the sons thru my friendship with the dad. David has a bunch of brothers and I met Leonard [Jr.] and Ben and a few others. David spent lots of year strung out on drugs. I must have written Dave a few hundred times over the years when he was in prison- I saw this as a ministry- keeping in touch with the brothers as they did time- lots of time- in prison. David got his degree [he started while in prison and finished after he got out. It’s a program that helps the guys get a degree with aid from the state. Texas just ended the program this year; they said ‘why should we be paying for ex con’s education for free’. As someone who has seen the good results- it really was worth it].

David has been clean for many years and he is a professional counselor working in Corpus Christi. One time I asked David to pick up the guys for our meetings the next day. Many times I was working the night before at the fire house and it helped if someone could pick the people up in the morning- it gave me a little more time to prepare for the meeting. So I gave Dave the Suburban and he had it for the night. I knew it was a risk- not that he would steal the darn thing- but be tempted to score drugs and all.

Sure enough Dave came by the fire station early in the morning- he was fessing up- telling me he blew it and he was gonna leave the truck. I told him just because he had a bad night- I still needed him to finish the task and pull through. He did- he picked everyone up and attended the service.

Lots of times the guys in these situations have never had any home structure- I mean their parents love them and all- but when the dad struggles with addiction- they’re not there to support the sons. So this was training in a way for Dave.

So hopefully they will all find the restaurant [it’s right off the main drag- but I’m not sure they know the spot I was telling them]. It was funny- as Emit was leaving I walked him out to the car. He was wearing these coveralls from the auto dealer that he works for- he has this lawnmower sticking halfway out of the trunk [he was cutting yards for money after work]. And I asked him about his new girlfriend and all [Emit was married years ago to another person whose family were church members of our group. His wife, Veronica, had a few boys and one girl with Emit. They eventually divorced. One time at work we had a call for a stabbing- the person who was stabbed- Junior Perez- was another family member who I met from the jails. Junior’s younger brother- Tony- was a faithful church member. His older brother- Daniel- was the one I met thru the jail. Junior was dating Veronica at the time- it was an abusive relationship- she stabbed Junior while he was trying to get into her house. She lived there with her mom- Yolanda- yes another one of our church members. She killed Junior that night- no charges against her- but she would eventfully move out of town]

So as Emits leaving I ask him about his latest girl- he says she a nice person- but its one of those situations where the family doesn’t know she’s dating him [I don’t know why- just some family thing]. Then I asked him what happened with his other girl friend- the one he dated for years ‘Oh her, they took her away from me’ [now- I know what Emit meant- her family didn’t get along with Emit and they eventually convinced her to leave Emit]. Now, even though I knew what Emit meant- I was like ‘Hey bro. you show up with these work coveralls- the type you usually see on these serial killer types- you know the video of some guy kidnapping someone at the local store- and you have this ‘after hours lawnmower job’ [classic cover up for stuffing things in the trunk] and you tell me the current girl friend’s family- well they don’t know about your ‘relationship’ and the last one- well ‘they took her away’ [I mean who is they- the cops! LOL]. I said if I didn’t know any better it looks like you might have spent the last 10 years as a serial killer’!

He got a kick out of that. Okay enough for now- maybe I’ll let you know how the fellowship went tomorrow. Emit told me his youngest boy- Justin- is a full blow Heroin addict in Robstown. Geez- I just took a ride thru there the other week- felt like God wanted me to simply do a prayer drive. And now we are going to visit Justin in a few days- maybe it was a sign. Okay- please pray for my buddies and their families.

I’m glad they’re still hanging in there- but I need to try and get with them more often- hopefully today we can schedule a few more fellowship meetings- it’s been too long.

[NOTE- Dave- if you read this- just leave a quick comment on Facebook- so my friends from Jersey can see who you are- I have lots of old friends on the site- thanks]

P.S.- As Emit was giving me all the updated phone numbers of the brothers- I was writing them down in my address book/organizer- geez- as I turned to the ‘E’ page and the ‘D’ page and all- I still had the original names and numbers of their dads and all. One entry said 'Emit/Janie’ it brought back lots of memories.

Thursday, May 05, 2011


The other day I mentioned how over the years I have come to ‘see’ the community of people that I speak into- those friends I have worked with on the streets and all the readers/hearers of the ministry- I have come to see them as one community. I even began to see the friends who died as still being part of the community- just because they are not physically present- they are still ‘there’.

In the letter to the Hebrews the bible says Jesus stands in the middle of the congregation and sings praises unto God. On the Mount of Transfiguration Jesus met with Moses and Elijah [2 dead saints] and Peter, James and John. The community was made up of both earthly and heavenly saints.

Okay- said all that to say this. When I first came to Texas I drove down with a good buddy I grew up with. His name was Miguel and we hung out as kids. Eventually Miguel would give his life to God [after me working with him for a few months] and I saw him as one of my 1st converts to the Lord.

I gave Miguel my first bible and got another one. Over a few years me and Mike tried to establish ourselves and our young families on this strange Texas frontier. Eventually Mike went back to Jersey. The night before he left [I drove him to the airport in San Antonio the next day- and his family]. We took a drive to Corpus Christi [where I now live- we both lived in Kingsville at the time- about 40 miles from Corpus] and spent the last night as buddies just hanging out on Padre Island- eating Whataburger’s [a great burger restaurant in Tx.] and just talking about what God had in store for the future. Actually, as I sit here and type I’m about 100 yards from the main road going straight to the Island- the same road we drove on 25 years ago.

As the years passed I would get a call from my old buddy every so often. One time Mike called to give me the news ‘John- I wanted to let you know I tested positive for Aids’- What! How’d that happen? [Probably a bad response now that I think about it]. Mike wasn’t ‘gay’ or bisexual- but he had lots of girlfriends- all the time. Back then safe sex was more of an option- and obviously Mike wasn’t too careful. Mike told me his wife- Lu Ann- also tested positive. What a tragedy- they had 4 boys.

So of course the whole family became a regular prayer request- till this day- every morning [every!] I pray for Mikes boys. One time I came home from work and my wife said ‘John- Lu Ann called’ I said ‘Mike died’ she said yes. Mike was 32. One day I received a letter from Lu Ann- she told me how her oldest boy was a preacher now in N.J. and he was on fire for God. She wrote a nice long letter. It must have been something God wanted her to do- I will forever remember that letter.

When Mike left Texas- I got that old bible I gave him back. It was just a sentimental thing of keeping your 1st bible. Then one year I started reading from it again and found that Mike had sprinkled notes all thru out it- things like ‘ask John this’ and stuff like that. So it was cool to catch these short notes every so often. I could almost hear Mikes voice as I read the notes.

So anyway as I pray in the mornings I have a conscious sense of my old buddies who have died- lots of homeless friends- a few ex- con/addict friends- and of course Mike and Lou Ann- [I guess she’s dead by now?] So last week as I’m just asking the Lord what chapter to read. I turn to Exodus 16- and Mike had a bunch of notes on this page- stuff like ‘NOTICE THIS’ and things that were weird- like he was writing notes to me. It did freak me out- I ‘fellowship’ with Mike when I pray for the Bro’s- and sometimes it’s like Mike is saying ‘John- thanks for praying for the boys’. And then to read notes later that say ‘Notice this’ or ‘ask John this’ it’s freaky.

Okay- that chapter dealt with God giving his people Manna- bread from heaven. It was the same week I dropped the radio program- I felt bad about doing it- but it was time. I told the Lord ‘If I messed up- sorry’. That is if I dropped it cause I was mad they kept losing the ‘darn’ tapes- then I repent. So anyway one of the verses in the chapter says ‘some people went out on the 7th day- to get their daily bread- and they found none’.

I knew there were going to be lots of long time listeners- who have written- who loved the show. These would ‘go out’ on the 7th day [Actually Sunday is the 1st day- but you get the idea] and would find ‘no bread’ for the first time in 15 years of broadcasting over KCTA. Actually over these last few days I have had lots of confirmation that this was the way to go- I began putting the shows on my blog- you can now listen and download the stuff 24/7- as opposed to only being able to hear it once a week. At the broadcast rate- geez it took 5 years just to recycle some of the older messages.

So for today- we learned that those who have gone on- our spiritual brothers and sisters- they are ‘still alive’. Now the bible forbids communication with the dead, and there are lots of religious superstitions that cross the line in these areas- but at the same time we do believe in eternal life- and if God speaks to me thru the words of one of my old buddies- stuff like ‘notice this’ then who am I to not notice?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


‘PRESIDENT OBAMA IS THE WORST PRESIDENT- EVER!’ Trump. ‘WE JUST KILLED BIN LADEN’ The President. ‘TRUMP APPEARS ON FOX [news] AND HE WEARS ONE ON HIS HEAD’ Seth Meyers- S.N.L fame, at the White House Press dinner. Conclusion? Trump- your fired.

These last few days have been news worthy- Obama released the birth ceritificate [though you still have doubters]. NATO [and the U.S.] killed Gadhafi’s son –Saif [not the famous son by the same name- this one was younger and not as heavily involved with the regime] and his 3 grandkids- all under the banner of ‘protecting civilians’ [how killing 3 kids protects civilians is beyond me]. And of course we all rejoice in the justice brought to Bin Laden.

I found it fascinating how the left/right even use stuff like this to simply play petty games. Michael Issikoff [MSNBC] was criticizing Lynn Cheney because some of the Intel. we used to get Bin Laden came for K.S.M. [Kaliek Sheik Mohammed] during our interrogation of the guy. So those on the right said ‘see- water boarding does work- it got us the info’. And the left said ‘hold your horses Lynn’.

Issikoff said ‘we water boarded the guy 180 something times- and all we got was the nickname of the person connected to Bin Laden- geez- we didn’t even get the full name’. Are you kidding me? If someone was out to kill your family- and you ‘interrogated’ an accomplice- and he said ‘it’s the mailman’ but didn’t give you the proper name- would that not be what is called actionable intelligence?

In point of fact the left and the right are both wrong on this. The way we got the info was not during a water boarding session- it was during normal questioning. At one point the C.I.A. asked him ‘and who is so and so’ and they gave the famous nickname. K.S.M. said ‘I don’t know his name’. The C.I.A. knew that he did know- that tipped us off that the person was a valuable target- and it lead to Bin Laden [he was the courier- mailman- for Bin Laden].

All in all I’m glad they got the guy- but the pettiness of these politico’s- these guys are ruining the country- Jon Stewart is right when he calls them out for what they are. And Michael Issikoff- he should be the last person to talk about ‘valuable- non valuable’ Intel. He is famous for writing an article stating that our soldiers flushed a Koran down the toilet at Gitmo. This article instigated worldwide Muslim uprisings that killed innocent people and put our soldiers at risk. When Pastor Terry Jones burns a Koran and it leads to innocent deaths- we rightfully condemn it. When a MSNBC hack does it- with false information [we never burned a Koran- it was misinformation that the terrorists themselves put out- and Issikoff took the bait- and well you know the rest of the story] we let it slide.

O.K. all in all there’s been a lot going on. I don’t want to demean the importance of the Bin Laden killing- our boys [Seals] did one heck of a job- and they did it in Pakistan- a few hundred yards from a military facility [and they didn’t know he was there? Please]. And we did it without informing the Pakistani Govt. that we were going in- sounds just like an Israeli undercover op. great job. But I am concerned about the way NATO has targeted civilian areas in Tripoli- saying ‘we are not targeting Gadhafi’ baloney. We are indeed targeting him- and we killed his 3 grandkids at the same time. No- killing kids is not acceptable- no matter whose grandkids they are.