Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Pandemic Possibility - Apr 28

Hope you're paying attention to what's happening in Mexico. It's certainly not 'The End', but it does represent one of many birth pangs we read about in scripture (see Matthew 24).

Johnny Cash

The world is suddenly facing the possibility of an influenza pandemic following outbreaks of swine flu. Indeed, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared a public health emergency — though largely for administrative and management purposes — to facilitate efforts to deal with the flu outbreak. We say “possibility of a pandemic” because, at this moment, it does not seem to us that anyone has a clear handle on either the likelihood of the virus’s dispersion, nor of its virulence. As of this writing, Mexican authorities suspect that as many as 86 people have died from the disease, although only 22 swine flu deaths have been officially confirmed. Sunday was rife with reports of cases emerging in states from California to New York (as well as in Canada, New Zealand, Spain, Brazil and Colombia), though there have been no reports of deaths or indications that deaths are imminent in these countries.

It might be the case that the virus is so widespread in Mexico that those who died from the disease represent a small percentage of the infected, whereas in the United States the virus has not finished incubating and thus has not yet begun to show its effects. At this point, virulence as a percentage of infection is not clear to us. Nevertheless, U.S. authorities have called a public health emergency, and the international disease control community is struggling to come up with a predictive model.

This situation is outside our area of expertise, though we are able to say that the traditional authorities on such matters appear to be quite unclear on what we are facing. What we can discuss are the potential implications of an influenza pandemic, even one substantially milder than what struck in 1918-1919, 1957-1958 or 1968-1969. In the first case, more than 500,000 people died in the United States alone; tens of thousands died in the United States in the latter two cases. (Flu season runs through the winter, traditionally peaking around February-March, with effects felt into the early summer.) Given the current time frame and the economic crisis, the implication of a new pandemic could be significant, even if it resulted in a much smaller death toll.

The world is currently struggling to emerge from an economic crisis, and at this point some minor headway appears to have been made. The most important impact of this virus would be economic. Apart from absences from work –- or even the potential loss of a portion of the work force — a pandemic could be utterly disruptive.

It is difficult to avoid catching the flu, but one way to decrease the odds is to avoid exposure to others, particularly in crowds, and to stay out of the office if they begin to experience symptoms — and for several days after symptoms cease. In the case of a pandemic, that advice would almost certainly be given.

That in turn could drive a stake into the heart of consumer spending, which is already more than a little weak. If the disease — or popular perception of the disease — were to reach pandemic proportions, consumers could begin to view an impulse trip to the mall as potentially a life-or-death choice. Discretionary spending would collide with discretion, as individuals started to forgo trips that would bring them into contact with large numbers of people –- not just at major sporting events and public rallies, but also movies and restaurants.

Depending on the extent of the virus’s spread, it could directly affect production: Offices and factories would shut down in areas where the flu was particularly rampant, amid efforts to control it. International travel and trade might well be affected, both voluntarily (as people avoided travel and refused to buy goods from countries heavily infected) and involuntarily (as states acted to protect their populations).

The greatest effect would be psychological. In a world where consumer confidence has already been deeply affected by the economic downturn, a pandemic would dramatically darken the mood of the international system, with potential impact on governments.

We are not trying to be alarmist. As stated, we do not really know what these swine flu infections and deaths mean, and as with many other scares, this situation might dissipate in a matter of days. There have been plenty of scares about avian strains of the flu virus breaking through the human-to-human transmission barrier, and so far they have been unfounded. Even the widely hyped outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which spread rapidly from China to a number of other countries in 2002 and 2003, ultimately was contained. Fewer than 800 fatalities from SARS occurred worldwide, with only eight confirmed cases (and zero deaths) in the United States, despite widespread concern that the disease could severely impact the American populace.

But timing can be everything. We are acutely aware that if a deadly flu pandemic were to strike right now — whether actually proving to be, or just creating the perception of, a rapidly spreading and lethal disease — the effect on economic recovery could quickly become dramatic, and therefore the nature of politics in many countries would shift. This is not a geopolitical event in itself, but given the worst-case scenarios, it well might have a geopolitical effect.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Writing On The Wall - Apr 23

So many in the secular world use this well-worn expression yet few know of its Biblical origins. The episode of 'The Writing on the Wall' is found in the Book of Daniel, chapter five. For your own edification, I urge you to read the chapter in its entirety. Here's a brief summary.

At the beginning of the chapter, King Belshazzar is having a party using the silver and gold goblets used in the Temple in Jerusalem. At this point, the king receives a terrible fright:

Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way.
(Daniel 5:5-6)

From verse 7 to 24, Daniel the prophet is summoned to interpret the message before the king. Daniel's fateful (and fatal) message to Belshazzar follows:

"This is the inscription that was written: Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin" "This is what these words mean: Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians."
(Daniel 5:25-28)

After Daniel receives some lovely parting gifts (v. 29), Belshazzar gets his due:

That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.
(Daniel 5:30-31)

Numbered, numbered, weighed and divided. That was Belshazzar's lot. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a just and holy God.

Johnny Cash

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I Dreamed A Dream - Apr 19

By now I'm sure you've heard about Susan Boyle and her knockout performance on American Idol. Here's this frumpy 47 year old woman who was instantly parachuted into fame and did so through sheer moxie. It probably took her twenty years or more for her to become an overnight sensation. But oh, what a debut! I usually have little time for such frivolity as American Idol but Susan's performance inspired me to right this post.

'Maybe I'll Be The Next Great American (or British) Vocalist'

No you won't. Not in a million years. What's the problem with the above statement? If you said the problem lies with the word 'maybe' you'd be absolutely correct. For example, if next weekend you say to yourself 'Maybe I'll take in a movie this week.', what's the likelihood is of you actually going? Nil. Now if you say 'I will see (insert movie title here) this weekend', what's the probability now? Obviously much higher than any 'maybe' statement you'll ever make.

The second you preface anything with the word 'maybe' it will never happen. This world will never open doors to those who preface their life choices with the word maybe. On the other hand, doors will open if you make a deliberate choice and stick to it. You have to be stubborn, focused and single-minded if you ever want to achieve anything in this world. I realize that we're not to love temporal things and to conform ourselves to this world. By no means! What I'm suggesting is that God wants us to succeed and have some ambition. Susan Boyle always knew she could sing. She never gave up despite all the rejection and resistance.

What Separates the Winners From the Losers In This World?

It's not ability and it's not hard work. It is mental toughness and stamina. In my humble opinion, no-one personifies this dimension better than Tiger Woods. All the other golfers have the same skill. Their drives are long and straight. Their putting is sound. Sand traps don't faze them. All of them work hard off the course and practice whenever they can. Yet for some reason Tiger always manages to separate himself from the rest of the field when it matters.

Some P's To Consider: Personality, Profile and A Plan

So now you've made your life choice. No maybes allowed!. We've got the market cornered on mental toughness. Why then are there still failures? It comes down to three main reasons, personality, profile and a plan.

Personality: Failure often occurs because you're doing something that doesn't fit your personality. It is vital to be able to know your values (What's important to you?), your interests (What intrigues you?) and your abilities (What are you good at?).

Profile: Here's another important point. Don't let someone tell you what you can and cannot do. Susan Boyle did not fit the 'profile' of a singer. No doubt people had in mind the likes of Katharine McPhee or Kelly Clarkson when it came to female singers. Susan was no fool. She knew what she looked like. But never did she let that be a hindrance in her pursuit to become a professional singer.

So it is with you. Never let someone shove you into a mould because of race, gender, age or physical appearance. So much of the PC rubbish out there is based on such victimology. Don't believe a word of it! If an obstacle presents itself go around it or remove it. Don't let anyone impede your success because you don't fit the 'profile'.

Plan: The failure to plan is one the greatest obstacles you will ever face. Do you need further training? Do you require real-life experience? Then go get it. Don't let your pride get in the way! Suck it up and go get that training and experience you'll need. The foundation must be laid first before we can build on it!

Starting a business? Ask yourself: Do I have a formal business plan written up? Do I have enough capital - from private investors, banks, gov't grants and your own resources - to get going? Are my timelines too ambitious? Am I assuming instant profitability? Do I have enough money to cover my current expenses? If we cannot find the answers to these questions our dreams can quickly become a nightmare.

Why Positive Thinking Is Nonsense: Of Elephants and Refrigerators

Indeed it can be the death knell of any creative or business enterprise. Read on:

A corporate interview is taking place and a candidate has just been asked 'How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?'. The candidate replies 'Open the fridge door and put the elephant in'. The interviewer is thrilled by the superficial response.

Have you ever seen an elephant in a fridge? Moreover, do you think you'll ever see such a spectacle? Probably not. The reason why I state that positive thinking is rubbish is because we've developed this humanist notion of limitless development. Not only is this preposterous, it's downright scary. A self-righteous liberal with a cause is much more dangerous than a cynic with an axe to grind. It goes beyond illogic and into the realm of neo-fascism.

Positive thinking is not, nor will it ever be, a guaranteeor of success. Positive thinking is meant to act as a buffer against defeatist attitudes. That's it. Allow me another sports example. If you have two fighters squaring off and one was more skilled, in better shape and more prepared, who wins? Suppose the inferior fighter was using the power of positive thinking. Does that alter the outcome? Of course not. The superior fighter wins every time. So much of what constitutes positive thinking is nothing more than fanciful optimism divorced from reality. So don't buy the hype. I certainly don't!

Johnny Cash

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mockers, Scoffers and Democrats - Apr 6

Why Democracy and Majority Votes Suck

Let it be said that democracy is a terrible system of governance. Democracy is by its very definition tyranny. If unpleasant truths can be voted out and self-serving lies can be voted in, how does this serve the cause of human liberty? It doesn't. Oh, how we love truth - when it suits our purpose! Oh, how we love the courts - when they likewise bow down to the false gods we've created! The law and righteousness are two different things. A majority vote and the truth are more often than not at loggerheads with one another.

Here's what I mean. If you have ten people in a room and seven say this will happen and the other three disagree, who's right? The seven hold the majority opinion but that should in no way be offered as concrete evidence. Ten out of ten could believe in such and such a thing and all ten could be wrong! Often is the case that the majority opinion is hopelessly in error and the three (who were correct in their original analysis) face ridicule and persecution.

The bottom line is this: Truth has and always will be independent of any kind of human vote. Let the foolish people of this world believe in whatever they want. Majority votes don't determine truth, God does. Nor is truth some thing that we can manipulate when it suits our ambitions. Truth is a person and that person is none other than Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus is the Jewish Torah and the love of God made flesh. If truth is just another commodity to be crassly manipulated on the open market - and therefore devalued - we're all in serious trouble. As for me, I shall stand upon the rock which is Christ.

X-Def Updates

You may have noticed that I've added some ads through Google's AdSense program. It does not matter to me if I make a red cent through this. I know the traffic to this blog is at best minimal. When people do show up, it's usually on the same post about the number 666, 777. If I make so much as a dollar I will consider it a bonus. I will not be held responsible for the content of any external links. Should any of these AdSense links produce something un-Biblical my advice is to steer well clear. With that being said, do take a peek if you feel so inclined. There's a lot of good information out there if one is willing to do the leg-work.

My friend from Tampa, a fellow Christian, has left two instructive comments on my recent Armageddon - Part 2 post. Please take the time to read both these comments along with my responses. Thanks for your encouragement Fred!

Johnny Cash

Friday, April 10, 2009

Armageddon - Part 2 - Apr 10

Some of you might have been taken aback by my most recent post. I want to be perfectly clear that I stand 100% behind what I said. My intention here is not to cause panic or undue alarm. Instead, we ought to be mentally and physically preparing for what is to come.

The Beach House and the Hurricane

Then the LORD will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over all the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.
(Isaiah 4:5-6)

Let's say you're living in a coastal house right on the beach. It's a slice of paradise and you love living there. You turn on the living room TV to watch the evening news. A major hurricane is directly headed your way. A mandatory evacuation order has been given by local authorities to seek shelter. What do you do? Do you scoff and laugh at such dire predictions? Or do you gather everyone together (including the cat) along with your belongings and legal documents and leave? YES! You evacuate and get out of the way!

Are You Prepared For The Upcoming Prophetic Storm?

Sadly, few are. We heed major hurricanes and other emergencies, be they natural or man-made. Do we heed the warnings of God in His prophetic Word? No we do not. Hurricanes lose strength and dissipate as they move inland. Volcanoes usually become dormant. Explosions, fires and chemical spills are contained. But by reading prophecy we discover the tribulation storm gets more intense, not less, as it progresses. What do we do with such an admonition? We laugh in the face of it and persecute all those who proclaim it.

The Negative Medical Prognosis

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
(1 Cor 1:18)

Here's something you might be able to relate to. You (or one of your loved ones) comes back from the doctor with an unfavorable diagnosis. You might be dead in a year. Or you could live till a ripe old age. Would you sit back and wallow in ignorance? Or would you strive to learn as much as you can about your condition? Again, another no-brainer. Yet how few of us are aware of our sinful condition before a holy and loving God? Instead, we trust in our own goodness whilst forever leaning on our own understanding. It is only by acknowledging Jesus' sacrifice on the cross that we are spared condemnation.

Fear and Loathing Or Wise Counsel?

Faced with disaster our first instinct is to gather as much information as possible to make an informed decision. We'd evacuate the beach house. We'd do medical research and ask questions. Hurricanes change direction. Doctors can get it wrong. However it is the Bible, and only the Bible, that can predict the future with absolute perfect foresight. Why then the thin layer of dust on this majestic book? We don't know the mysteries of the Christian faith because we don't regularly feed upon His prophetic word.

If you're a Christian by the way, don't expect your church to lead you into a lengthy dissemination about His Second Coming. Most churches won't go near 'those' verses. God forbid we offend others by telling the truth! We place ourselves at a tremendous disadvantage if we fail to heed these divine warnings. For the believer, a full review is vital. For the unbeliever, repentance. It's the only way.

Johnny Cash

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Armageddon - Apr 9

With this being Holy Week, I felt it appropriate to discuss Bible prophecy in greater detail. This is a subject that's been on my mind for some time. The word Armaggeddon appears only once in scripture:

Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.
(Revelation 16:16)

Jesus Isn't Coming To Save The World!

I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. (Rev 19:11)

The beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. The remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
(Rev 19:20-21)

Which Bible Are You Reading?

I'm not talking about the King James Version or the New International Version. There are many who will choose to take issue with what the Bible says about judgement. Lest any individual things God's destructive power is only found in the New Testament, perhaps they should read this:

Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the LORD out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land.
(Genesis 19:24-25)

God has not changed from the days of Abraham and Lot. Not one bit. It amazes how people are easily fooled by the 'love gospel'. God is love indeed, Amen to that! But what of His sovereignty and His pure and unsullied holiness? God could neither forgive nor save if He did not rule with absolute and unchallenged authority. His desire for all of us to be like Jesus stems directly from His holy nature. Sadly, few understand or recognize this salient point.

Ten Things You Must Know About Armageddon

  • Man's devices (such as the UN) will not stop it.
  • Philosophy cannot dismiss it.
  • Politics will not prevent it.
  • It will happen.
  • It will be a literal event (just as D-Day or 9/11 was).
  • It will be the most destructive day in all of human history.
  • It will be unlike any other war or campaign. (Rev 19:13-14)
  • No-one will miss its significance.
  • No-one can slow it down.
  • No-one can speed it up.

Anti-Christ's Army

The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million. I heard their number.
(Rev 9:16)

It will be sheer stark terror for those who have chosen to follow after the Beast and his False Prophet. Crammed in like sardines, mass panic in the ranks will ensue. With nowhere to go, the real Christ seals their fate.

A parting thought for all those mockers and scoffers out there. You know who you are!

"If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name."
(Rev 14:9b-11)

Johnny Cash

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Enter Through The Narrow Gate - Apr 7

Here's some scripture that ought to be familiar to you:

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
(Matthew 7:13-14)

There Are Two Kinds of People in this World ...

Those that divide the world into two groups and those that don't. It's an old joke but a true one. In the above passage, Jesus does indeed divide the world into two distinct groups: The majority on the broad path to destruction and the minority that find the narrow gate leading to life.

What Are The Lineups Like?

So if we choose to approach the narrow gate, are we to be looking at one massive queue? It's likely to be stretching for miles on end, right? Do you want to know the truth? You can walk right through the narrow gate whenever you want. Anybody at any time anywhere can receive eternal life through Jesus Christ. No lineups. No frustration.

Why Do We Miss The Point Of Jesus' Teaching?

Because we base things upon human experience. We've all been in the position of being forced to line up to get in somewhere. We've also had the uncomfortable sensation of wanting to use the facilities when lining up. What excrutiating pain! Becoming a Christian requires no riches, rituals or extensive training. The beauty (and strength) of the Christian faith has always been in its simplicity. Truth be told, the lineups and frustration are found exclusively on the broad path that leads to our destruction!

Devilish Lies

Living for Christ is easy. It's the living for one's ego and gratification that's difficult. Following after God brings patience and eternal life. Living for self creates undue hardship and struggle. That's the true meaning of Christ's teachings. We read the above passage and think 'Why would God make it so hard to find the narrow gate?'. That's exactly what Satan wants you to think. On the contrary, it's the other way around. Finding truth and purpose through the study of scripture is easy. It's the pursuit of fads, notions and other trivia that feed our sensuality (sounds nice, feels good) that gets us into trouble. Enter instead through the narrow gate. It's the only way to saner (and holy) living.

Johnny Cash

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Adolf Hitler - Apr 2

It is a fool who denies the existence and reality of evil as a supernatural source. The very name of the Hitler causes us to shudder. Yet how few of us know of the Nazi occult leanings within its echelons? The religious fervor the German people experienced when hearing Hitler's voice is not restricted to just the 20th century. The Anti-Christ to come will be like 'a hundred Hitlers' according to Pastor John MacArthur. Part two can be viewed here. A must see for all those who wish to understand.

Johnny Cash

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Four Words Every Christian Should Know - Apr 1

No April fools to be found here! I'd like to apologize for my lack of timely posts. You get busy and before you know it the day is done. Even a once a week posting can be too much! So without further ado let's start this month off right.

What Four Words Am I Referring To?

They are Jesus (Christ), cross, blood and grace. As a Christian, we have two priorities. One is to give comfort to the saints. The second is to give our testimony to an unbelieving world. That's it. It's not our job to 'save the world' or to try to create heaven here on earth.

Let's Put Those Words in a Paragraph!

If you were to ask me, I think my testimony might sound a bit like this:

"It was Jesus who bore the penalty for my sins by the shedding of His blood on the cross. We do not earn our heavenly citizenship through our own efforts. It is through the grace of God alone that I can boast of having eternal life."

Now let's ask someone else if they're headed for eternity with God:

"I'm a good person who is living a good life. I pray, I go to church and I try to do the right thing. I also volunteer once in a while and help old ladies across the street!"

Which Testimony Belongs To You?

Notice the difference between the two? On the surface they seem pretty similar. However on deeper analysis they're worlds apart. Let's look at some scripture:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
(Ephesians 2:8-10)

By Paul's testimony we see that the first testimony is indeed the saving one.

Why Is This?

I'm going to let you in on a little secret: Satan loves religion. Moreover, Satan relies extensively upon religious people to do his dirty work. By appealing to our fleshy nature and to our pride, we delude ourselves. God's holiness is perfect and absolute. We cannot please Him through our own efforts:

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6)

Jesus Christ must be the focal point of all of our worship and devotion. He must be at the center of what we ourselves desire to be. Jesus must be the golden standard. A Messiah that refuses to shed His blood on the cross is useless to us. Had Jesus balked at such a cruel and painful fate every single one of us would face a lost eternity. It is precisely this wonderful and glorious mystery that confounds the saints instead of uplifting them.

God Is Serious About This Stuff!

What passes for 'religion' today is 99% un-Biblical. No mention of a Messiah to bridge the gap between sinful Man and a holy God. No mention of a cross. Bloodless gospels that appeal to our sensuality have become all the rage. No need for grace. We can do it all by ourselves! Yet by studying God's word we recognize the folly of our thinking. It is not by works that we are saved! It is God and God alone that can take the credit for our salvation. No-one but Jesus has the credentials to call themselves Messiah. No-one else but Jesus has the capacity to forgive us for our sin. No-one else but Jesus could be the sacrificial Passover lamb that was perfectly pleasing to the Father. No-one else except Jesus can come close to fitting the profile of over 400 Old Testament Messianic prophecies. Christ stands alone. No-one else can offer the promise of eternal life. Not the Prophet Mohammed. Not Buddha. Not any other guru or sage. Certainly not L. Ron Hubbard! Do you see what I mean here? The question is not of semantics. We cannot squirm our way past the light of Biblical truth. Jesus cannot be ignored. He's the only hope you have.

Johnny Cash