Had to share this…

So I was scanning headlines today, and this jumped out at me.

In case the link itself ends up broken at some point, here is the text of the article.

Putin calls for upgrade of Russian army

By NATALIYA VASILYEVA | Associated Press – 1 hr 16 mins ago

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin told the country’s top brass on Wednesday to drastically upgrade the armed forces in the next few years as part of response to attempts by the United States and NATO to “tip the strategic balance” in the world.

In his address to Russia‘s defense ministry and top military officials, Putin said Russia is witnessing “insistent attempts” to change that balance and complained about U.S. plans to create a new missile defense system in Europe and the potential expansion of NATO to former Soviet republics.

“Geopolitical developments call for our response to be well-calculated and quick,” Putin said, according to a transcript of his speech on the Kremlin’s website. “The Russian armed forces must move to a dramatically new level of capabilities as soon as in the next three to five years.”

The stated goal of the multibillion-dollar missile defense system planned for Europe is to protect the U.S. from Iranian missiles. But Russia has repeatedly criticized the plan, claiming it really is intended to counter its own missiles.

Putin blasted the legacy of former Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov who was dismissed in November 2012 amid a corruption scandal involving billions of rubles reportedly embezzled by the ministry and affiliated firms.

While Putin linked the ouster to the corruption probe, most experts believe that Serdyukov was sacked because of an intensifying behind-the-scenes battle for the distribution of 23 trillion rubles ($750 billion) that the Kremlin plans to spend on buying new weapons through 2020.

Serdyukov demanded higher quality and cheaper prices from the military industry, often refusing to sign new contracts for months. He criticized arms makers for continuing to produce Soviet-era designs instead of developing new weapons, angering industry leaders with strong Kremlin connections. Under Serdyukov, the military purchased amphibious assault vessels from France, bought Israeli drones, Italian armored vehicles and other foreign weapons.

The current defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, has confirmed plans to form a new naval squadron that would patrol the Mediterranean Sea.

A small maintenance and supply base in Syria’s Tartus, Russia’s only naval outpost outside the former Soviet Union, is under threat because of the civil war there.

 

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Did you see that?   

 “The Russian armed forces must move to a dramatically new level of capabilities as soon as in the next three to five years.”

I saw that quote and couldn’t help but smile.  But then again, I know how the story goes.  And it all goes according to plan.

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. … After many days you will be visited.  In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate; they were brought out of the nations and now all of them dwell safely. …  Then you will come from your place out of the far north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great company and a mighty army.  You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land.  It will be in the latter days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me, when I am hallowed in you, O Gog, before their eyes.”             Ezekiel 38:1-3, 8, 15-16 (NKJ)


CPB

 

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Holy apostasy, Batman!

apostasy  n: 1: renunciation of a religious faith  2:abandonment of a previous loyalty : defection

I’ll start off by saying that I am aware this is something that I could spend days or weeks talking about, but I am going to try and do my best to make this concise and coherent.

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching.  They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.  They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

2 Timothy 4: 3-4(NLT)

Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.

Matthew 24:12 (NLT)

So in flitting around the net today I came across a study that disturbed me.  It asked those that claim a religion within the US whether or not they felt their religion was “the one true faith” when it came to whether or not theirs was the only way to eternal life.  (To get to the results, you would have to click first “Beliefs and Practices” and then go to the bottom result for “Views of One’s Religion as the One True Faith.”)

70% of those in the United States felt that “many religions can lead to eternal life.”

Bear in mind, that’s across all religions.  Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, etc.

The scary part is that 59.4% of those professing the Christian faith believe, according to this survey, that many religions lead to eternal life.  (At the low end were the Jehovah’s Witnesses with 16% and at the other end of the spectrum are the “Mainline Churches” and “other Christians” both at a whopping 83%.)

Hence my title here: holy apostasy, Batman!

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one can come to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6 (NLT)

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate.  The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.  But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.

Matthew 7:13-14 (NLT)

I want to ask if these people that answered the survey ever read their own Bibles, but I fear I don’t really want the answer to that.  It scares me to think that people could actually be becoming blind to what is right there in black,white, and red.

NO ONE comes to the Father, except those that do so through Jesus.  That means there is only ONE path to eternal life and it’s through his gift of grace.  Clearly, a narrow gate.  But just the same, a pretty blatant message to any that would read it.  Or should I say for those that have ears to hear?

And so the Lord says, “These people say they are mine.  They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.

Isaiah 29:13 (NLT)

I will stop short of saying those that answered Christian to the survey, (whichever flavor they care to call themselves,) and then answered that there are in fact multiple ways to eternal life are not in fact Christians, (although I myself could be counted as having backslid so far as to be counted among them at one time).  Clearly, however, they seem to be faltering in their study of the Bible.

Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear.  “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand.  It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”

Matthew 15:10-11 (NLT)

The Bible spells things out quite clearly.  There is only one way to eternal life and that is through Jesus.  Either you take what the Bible says as the Word of God that it is, (which means that you take all of what it says of salvation- Thank God for the end of the old covenant!) or you don’t.  This is not a cafeteria plan to salvation.

By asserting to belief that there are multiple paths to heaven, you’re asserting that Jesus was lying when He stated that “no one comes to the Father except through” Him.

Saying that He lied, is to say that Jesus sinned, or bore false witness.  And yet even Pilate (and his wife) wanted nothing to do with the death of an innocent man. (Matthew 27:15-24)  Then there are the myriad of other verses that cite Jesus as sinless: 1 Peter 2:22, 1 John 3:5, 1 John 8:46, Isaiah 53:9, etc.

So it seems to me, to be pretty clear that our churches, (and dare I say political correctness resulting in a fear of offending by stating, even with love, that someone is flat out wrong,) are failing over half of the self proclaimed believers in this nation.

It’s time to draw near to God, and spend time in His word, for “what truth scripture has.”

 

CPB

Dishearened

Oh the irony of talking about being disheartened on Valentine’s Day.  Yeah, good thing I am a fan of irony, no?

There has been a lot of attention brought to the plight of Saeed Abedini lately on the radio station I listen to.  Yes, Air1 for any others happening to read this that listen as well.

For those that are unfamiliar with Saeed’s story, here’s the short version:

He traveled to Iran, his country of birth, from the United States last year at some point to help establish orphanages.  While he is now a US citizen living in Idaho, (with his wife and two children,) he has traveled back to Iran in the past to help with establishing house churches as well, before the new regime deemed such activity illegal.

Last summer, he was placed under house arrest and his passport was taken from him. 

He was eventually taken to prison and bought up on charges due to the fact that he is a Christian.  They claim that he’s been working against the government, basically, by spreading the faith. 

After a few days of a mockery of a trial, he was sentenced to eight years in their harshest prison.  Due to the conditions there, this could, if allowed to go the course, could end up being a death sentence.

And let me guess; unless you actually happen to listen to Air1, you have heard nothing of this man.

This has been a massive failure of both the government and the media.  It seems as though the only media other than the radio station that has given time to Saeed has been the Fox News Network… not necessarily a network that the vast majority of the population tune into. 

So why am I disheartened when I am able to sit, in the safety and comfort of my own home and type about Sadeed’s trials on my laptop?

I am actually disheartened in the Church I had been attending for about two years now.

I will not identify it, but will say that, within my area, it is likely the largest congregation of believers.

Not too long ago, Air1 dedicated a day to getting the word out about Saeed to bring attention to what’s been going on and to try and get him home.  It was a social media blitz.  Twitter mainly, was the focus.  The goal was to get #SaveSaeed trending, but all forms of social media were utilized.

I decided to take the home turf approach and to try to get word out through my church. 

Seems like a logical step, no?

I am not sure what we can do as far as getting the word out, we get so many different requests that we have to be really strict about what is mentioned, but I will get this into the hands of some of our pastors and see if they have any ideas.

One day shy of a week later, I get a response from one of the staff members saying that it has been added to the prayer list, but that “this is something we cannot “advertise” within our weekend services…”

I actually had to read that twice to make sure I wasn’t imagining things.

A church, my church, was refusing to put the word out about a brother that is in prison, being brutally tortured for his belief in Jesus, and they cannot “advertise” it?!

To say that I was shocked initially would be to put it mildly.  The only thing I could think was ‘whatever happened to 1 Corinthians 12:26? “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.”

Did I expect them to dedicate an entire service to Saeed?  No.  Did I even expect ten minutes dedicated to him?  No.  I wanted to see a church take just a moment to mention his name, put the call to the entire body out for prayer, and to mention SaveSaeed.org.  Am I out of bounds to want this from a church?  From my church?  Oh, that’s right.  It would detract from the senior pastor advertising his newest book. 

Silly me.

Disheartened and looking for her new church home.  

One with a better sense of priorities, maybe.


CPB

K.I.S.S

I’ve wanted to say something about this for a few days, so will take the fact that this weekend’s sermon was related to this topic as a hint that I need to stop thinking and start typing.

We’re all guilty of complicating what is, in the end, supposed to be the epitome of K.I.S.S. (keep it silly simple.)

How?

We’ll let’s see….

Oh, but you must be baptized   You must be more than a ChrEaster believer,  (you know what I mean, one that shows at Church only at Christmas and Easter)  What do you mean that you haven’t taken communion?  You don’t religiously tithe ten percent?

Gasp.

You’re on the verge of being cut from the most exclusive club.  You sure you want to chance it?

Guess what?

None of that matters.

Doesn’t matter if you don’t give to the church, never show up in a pew, or if you are still an alcoholic.

How can I dare say something like this?  Easy.

But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die?  We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”

And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Luke 23: 40-43 (NLT)

This man was such a criminal that the Romans deemed him deserving of crucifixion; the worst death possible at that time.  He was never baptized.  He certainly didn’t tithe, (he may very well have tried to steal those donations.)  He never had time to partake in communion.  And yet, Jesus assured him that they would be together in Heaven.

People in general, seem to want to put all kinds of other requirements and standards on believers.  (This is what the sermon this weekend addressed.)  We may raise an eyebrow or bristle at seeing another believer in a liquor store, or speeding on the freeway, or any of a number of other “infractions”  all the way down to smoking outside the church before services begin.

Does any of that matter?  In the end, no.

What does matter, as clearly shown with the criminal on the cross, is Jesus.  In those moments, he acknowledged that Jesus had done no wrong, and expressed hope be thought of favorably by Him.  He knew he deserved to be on the cross.  He had done wrong.  He saw himself as the sinner he was when contrast with Jesus.  So in those last few moments, he was saved.

He could have stolen a coin purse from one of the soldiers that lashed him to the cross and he’d still be covered.  All because he acknowledged Jesus as being without sin, and as the Son of God.

With the simplicity, why do we seem to add so many requirements to it?  Is it possible that we, as broken humans, just see His offer as too good to be true?

Entirely possible.

But there it is, in black, white, and red.  Directly from God, to us.

All that you need is Jesus.  Period.  End of discussion.

CPB