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from Essays in Idleness:

It would seem that, this morning, for the first time in more than eighteen centuries, there are no Christians in Mosul, Iraq.

The city was founded on the west bank of the River Tigris, as the continuation of the more ancient Ninevah, which it is still sometimes called by the biblically inclined, including its Christian former residents. Gentle reader will recall that Ninevah (on the other bank) was sacked by the Babylonians, et alia, in 612 BC. The first rebuilding was done a few miles north; the most recent only a few centuries later, back at the natural bridgehead.

“Recent” is a relative term; all history is modern history, as I like to repeat. Old Mosul (“Mepsila”) is mentioned in Xenophon’s Anabasis, from when his Greeks were passing through, towards the end of the fifth century BC — a time when the ruins of Ninevah had already been forgotten. It was later a Christian city, before it became, by conquest, a Muslim city: yet it remained until the dawn of the present century an important Christian centre, seat of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, and of classical Syriac learning. The ruins of Christian monasteries may be found scattered through the surrounding desert; many survived long into the Islamic era. A story could be told about St Elijah’s monastery, for instance, just to the south of Mosul, which American soldiers helped to restore only a few years ago. Before Tamerlane, it had dispatched missionaries across India, China, and Central Asia, as well as delegates to distant Rome. By much older tradition, the tombs of several Old Testament patriarchs and prophets are to be found within the large area now under Mosul’s modern urban sprawl. (It is the largest city in Iraq, except Baghdad.) This includes the shrine associated with the tomb of Jonah, itself of extraordinary antiquity — torched and demolished last week.

All physical evidence that Christians ever lived in Mosul will soon be erased, if it has not been erased already. Shia Islamic shrines have also been demolished by the Sunni jihadis; and I gather that Mosul’s famous museum, one of several sites around the city under nominal protection of UNESCO as “world heritage,” has also been trashed by these iconoclasts.

Christians were still a substantial minority in Mosul, at the time of the U.S. and allied invasion in 2003. Their numbers had since been reduced considerably by Sunni Arab torments; last month it was estimated that only 35,000 remained. “ISIS” — the army of fanatics that has seized much of northern Iraq — marked their houses with the Arabic letter for N, which stands for “Nasrani,” or Nazarenes. (This is what Christians are called in the Koran.) Educated readers may note that the Nazis had the homes of Jews marked in a similar manner — back when that wasn’t really news, either.

The “final solution” for Mosul’s Christians was blared from loudspeakers in the minarets of the city’s Sunni mosques after Friday prayers. They would have twenty-four hours to flee, taking nothing but the clothes they were wearing. Those found still in the city, after noon yesterday, would be put to the sword. A third option, conversion to Islam, was mentioned only for the record. Any intending to do that would surely have done it by now. The possessions of all Christians had been “nationalized,” according to the announcement — everything they owned now belonged to the Islamic Caliphate of Iraq and the Levant.

This last point, though a technicality, is important to understand the sequence of events. Because the Christians now owned nothing, it would be impossible for them to pay thejizyah — the Islamic tax for non-Muslims. (Over the centuries, throughout the many lands conquered in the name of the Prophet, from Morocco through Indonesia, Christians who valued an easy life above that of Christ gradually converted to Islam, the principal reason being to avoid paying this onerous protection money, to say nothing of the occasional pogrom.) The amount of the tax — payable wherever and whenever it is demanded — is currently fixed in neighbouring Syria, wherever the jihadis of ISIS have taken over from the regime of Bashir Assad, at one half-ounce of pure gold per head for every man, woman, or child. I gather cash equivalents are not acceptable. Gold is hard for the Christians to obtain under prevailing conditions; it is one of many factors exerting an upward influence on the international gold price.

Details, details: I wish that our Western media were capable of spotting and recording them, on almost any topic. Not being in Mosul myself, currently, I cannot attest to the details in any of the reports I have read. (One may find the main event mentioned even by the BBC and CNN, if one examines their websites forensically.) But from previous familiarity with radical Islam, several small things struck me. One was that the announcement of Christian dispossession was phrased with bureaucratic precision, specifying that “the clothes they are wearing” must under no circumstances be used to conceal coins, jewellery, or a long list of other portable valuables, all of which were to be left in the homes which the jihadis would now secure.

It would be a mistake to assume that because they value human life so lightly, the jihadis are indifferent to the values of the bazaar. Note that their conception of heaven is also presented in market terms: as so many virgins in payment to a “martyr,” plus luxuries and treasures also carefully denominated. One might call it a transcendental materialism — religion in the form of compelled material transactions, and in that sense not fundamentally different from the democratic liberalism of our own Nanny States.

The Christians have fled, by necessity many on foot under the killing sun of the Mesopotamian summer, mostly towards Kurdistan: the one part of northern Iraq the jihadis have not yet attempted to subjugate. That is also where Western refugee aid is most likely to be available. At this point, we cannot guess how many will make it alive. Certainly the number of dead will vastly exceed those tallied in the airliner that was shot down in eastern Ukraine — the story now at the top of Western media headlines, for the plane was full of Europeans.

We pray, with least compulsion, for our own. Granting that is how things must be, by nature, those who remain Christian in the West should recall that Christians everywhere are our own.

There is so much wrong with what this “Pastor” is saying. He lumps perceptions about political party allegiance (As if Christians are supposed to declare a public political allegiance to either of the fallen humanistic led American political parties)  in with a multitude of other errors.

What he displays is the classic Assembly of  God second generation “priestly class” humanist mentality. One that says “I was born into the AOG priesthood to an AOG Pastor and therefore it is my right and destiny to be in that class so I can lead people wherever I choose”.  This type of thinking is a cancer in the Assembly of God Ministry!

Everyone who reads this needs to look at your own church. Even if you have a pastor that preaches and teaches what is right and good NOW. If it is a situation where “the pastor is master” then 99% of those pastors will go down the road to error in order to maintain their “high place” instead of being scorned, shunned, and pushed aside for standing up for Biblical truth. Our churches heap praise on pastors and feed their humanistic egos which overtakes their love for the truth!

“God never intended for a Pastor to be a “King”. Sadly, this is what most congregations want just as Israel wanted a king. They want someone to tell them what to do instead of taking responsibility to do it themselves. They are satisfied to live their spirituality vicariously through the Pastor, their king. This Pastor has obviously taken on that role and is now leading an entire congregation into the depths of deception. It is absolutely heartbreaking!”

 

from The Sacramento Bee:

A Pentecostal pastor, a rabbi and an imam walk into a restaurant. Then they go to a synagogue. For Ramadan, Pastor Rick J. Cole of Capital Christian Center – one of the region’s oldest and largest fundamentalist churches – gave a sermon to about 500 Muslims and their friends at the Sunrise Event Center in Rancho Cordovaon Friday.

Cole, 56, was a featured guest on Imam M.A. Azeez’s weekly talk show, “Heart of the Matter.” The show has explored women’s rights, justice, self-expression and democracy in the Muslim world.

Cole, whose 98-year-old Assemblies of God church was long considered the most conservative in the region, has been reaching out to gays, Jews and now Muslims to break down barriers and biases. Cole joined Azeez and Rabbi Mona Alfi at Congregation B’nai Israel on June 18 to mark the 15th anniversary of the one of the most heinous – and ultimately unifying – events in Sacramento history, the pre-dawn firebombing of three Sacramento synagogues. Those blazes were followed by the firebombing of a building housing an abortion clinic and the murder of a gay couple – Gary Matson and and Winfield Mowder – while they slept in their Happy Valley home in rural Shasta County.

Cole, who replaced his father, the late Pastor Glen D. Cole, at the helm of Capital Christian Center in 1995, told the audience at B’nai Israel he’d been to Israel seven times and asked forgiveness of those he may have had been intolerant toward. “I’m now intolerant of people who are intolerant. I’ve got to figure out how to tolerate intolerant people,” Cole said. “We make things about issues instead of people,” he said, adding that he now has a growing number of gay congregants. As for those who don’t accept believers of different faiths or sexual orientation, “if they’ve got a problem, I’m not going to let it become my problem. They really need to talk to more people!”

Cole – whose church’s motto is “Truth, Growth, Love” – has 7,000 congregants, about 4,000 of whom attend one of his three Sunday sermons. Some of them speak in tongues. He oversees the 1,000 students at his church’s Christian school; serves on the board of Sacramento Steps Forward, a partnership addressing the needs of the region’s homeless; and provides help to inner-city schoolchildren through Equal Start. He also works with Champions, which assists special-needs families, and he supports the Center for AIDS Research.

What’s inspired you to step outside the box and reach across the aisle?

Rabbi Alfi, Imam Azeez and I started meeting for lunch at Plates (a restaurant that trains homeless moms) three years ago. Rather than assuming things about each other, we’ve developed a good friendship through direct communication. Too often we stereotype groups and determine this is the way everyone is within that group. There are many people of the Muslim faith who are not interested in violence. Often, they become characterized that way by 9/11 and other incidents that have occurred. There are far fewer Muslim people of faith who embrace extremism than those who are pushing it away. Imam Azeez has become a friend, I see him as a man of hopes and dreams for building a better world and not for tearing it down. The more common ground we can all find, and the more we learn about each other’s belief systems, the more we grow. Friday, I said, “I know the Quran is a great source of wisdom in understanding who God is. We share four of the five pillars of Islam: there is only one God; daily prayers; give to the poor and help the hurting; and fasting, self-control and self discipline.”

Your church has long been considered a bastion of conservatism. What’s changed?

We still lean toward a Republican ideology, but today we have strong representation across the aisle. We have a real passion for ethnic diversity, and people of other ethnicities often tend to adopt a more Democratic ideology. When we blend together different points of view, that’s quite important in challenging how we come together. … There are so many things that divide us ethnically, socioeconomically, spiritually. Part of my role and goal is to unify and honor people, bless people and affirm people.

In the 1980s, Capital Christian Center threatened to quit the Interfaith Service Bureau for admitting a gay-oriented church, and in the 1990s gay and bisexual protesters accused you of “a long history of anti-gay political activity and bigotry.” What’s happened since?

It’s something I’ve grown into the last five or six years. Life is a journey, and we should always be learning and growing along the way. It’s OK to have strong beliefs and convictions, but when we make that the only message, it becomes a dividing line that doesn’t help us build community with others who don’t see things quite the way we do. I had a revelation that God wants us to find ways to love people and not separate them. God’s heart of love for each of us is equal. Homosexuality’s still a complex subject and can cause some to be judgmental. I can maintain convictions but don’t have to impose those convictions on people who don’t share them.

If we take homosexuality as an issue, we dehumanize the person, and I don’t believe God ever does that. God loves each of us right where we are. In the past we have chosen to communicate a certain belief from scripture that homosexuality is not acceptable to God and push that way, instead of leading with, “God loves you and we do too.” I’ve adopted a love for gay people from my own heart, and we have a really great dialogue about faith and how we can encourage one another along the way. Our church has gone from where we wouldn’t know if we had any gay congregants to where we know we have at least several dozen, and instead of being afraid to come here, God wants us to make this a safe place for people to grow.

In 2009, you apologized to Christina Silvas, a former stripper who’d been asked to remove her children from your school in 2001, and to Ben Sharpe, an African American star student who was banned from eighth-grade graduation because his buzz cut violated school policy in 1995. Who are the intolerant you’ve got to learn to tolerate?

There’s a lot of intolerance when it comes to ideas – the political atmosphere in our country is so polarized. It would do us all good if we could have more conversations instead of accusations. Immigration is obviously a great concern – we have to have a heart of compassion for these children coming every day. The more grace we have for others, the more grace we receive. I’m concerned about those who want to make this issue non-human – these are precious people and we need to try and put ourselves in their shoes and practice empathy and see the world through their lens – ‘What if it were me?’ There are those who want to build a utopian world for ourselves. That’s not what we’re here for; we’re here to help each other.

It’s an evolving understanding of our role and how we pursue our place in the community. We aim to heal people who have walked through broken dreams, broken relationships, broken health, and give them a place to find hope and purpose. If we reach out to the hurting, the disadvantaged, the underserved, the overlooked, that’s more in the sweet spot on God’s heart. We have a really passionate outreach to the homeless, and we’re partnering with four inner-city schools, providing mentoring, tutoring, after-school care and encouragement. In the summer, we take kids … to places they’ve never been, ending up at various universities for a sit-down with administrators. My goal is to honor God, his truth and his creation. I’m not trying to push any buttons and create controversy. I really want to bring harmony.

 

 

 

 

 

from Got Questions:

Every time there is a conflict in or around Israel, many see it as a sign of the quickly approaching end times. The problem with this is that we may eventually tire of the conflict in Israel, so much so that we will not recognize when true, prophetically significant events occur. Conflict in Israel is not necessarily a sign of the end times.

Conflict in Israel has been a reality whenever Israel has existed as a nation. Whether it was the Egyptians, Amalekites, Midianites, Moabites, Ammonites, Amorites, Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, or Romans, the nation of Israel has always been persecuted by its neighbors. Why is this? According to the Bible, it is because God has a special plan for the nation of Israel, and Satan wants to defeat that plan. Satanically influenced hatred of Israel—and especially Israel’s God—is the reason Israel’s neighbors have always wanted to see Israel destroyed. Whether it is Sennacherib, king of Assyria; Haman, official of Persia; Hitler, leader of Nazi Germany; or Rouhani, President of Iran, attempts to completely destroy Israel will always fail. The persecutors of Israel will come and go, but the persecution will remain until the second coming of Christ. As a result, conflict in Israel is not a reliable indicator of the soon arrival of the end times.

However, the Bible does say there will be terrible conflict in Israel during the end times. That is why the time period is known as the Tribulation, the Great Tribulation, and the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). Here is what the Bible says about Israel in the end times:

There will be a mass return of Jews to the land of Israel (Deuteronomy 30:3; Isaiah 43:6; Ezekiel 34:11-13; 36:24; 37:1-14).

The Antichrist will make a 7-year covenant of “peace” with Israel (Isaiah 28:18; Daniel 9:27).

The temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem (Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 11:1).

The Antichrist will break his covenant with Israel, and worldwide persecution of Israel will result (Daniel 9:27; 12:1, 11; Zechariah 11:16; Matthew 24:15, 21; Revelation 12:13). Israel will be invaded (Ezekiel chapters 38-39).

Israel will finally recognize Jesus as their Messiah (Zechariah 12:10). Israel will be regenerated, restored, and regathered (Jeremiah 33:8; Ezekiel 11:17; Romans 11:26).

There is much turmoil in Israel today. Israel is persecuted, surrounded by enemies—Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, etc. But this hatred and persecution of Israel is only a hint of what will happen in the end times (Matthew 24:15-21). The latest round of persecution began when Israel was reconstituted as a nation in 1948. Many Bible prophecy scholars believed the six-day Arab-Israeli war in 1967 was the “beginning of the end.” Could what is taking place in Israel today indicate that the end is near? Yes. Does it necessarily mean the end is near? No. Jesus Himself said it best, “Watch out that no one deceives you. . . . You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come” (Matthew 24:4-6).

from The Daily Telegraph:

A judge in Australia has been criticized after saying incest may no longer be a taboo and that the community may now accept consensual sex between adult siblings.

Judge Garry Neilson, from the district court in the state of New South Wales, likened incest to homosexuality, which was once regarded as criminal and “unnatural” but is now widely accepted.

He said incest was now only a crime because it may lead to abnormalities in offspring but this rationale was increasingly irrelevant because of the availability of contraception and abortion.

“A jury might find nothing untoward in the advance of a brother towards his sister once she had sexually matured, had sexual relationships with other men and was now ‘available’, not having [a] sexual partner,” the judge said.

“If this was the 1950s and you had a jury of 12 men there, which is what you’d invariably have, they would say it’s unnatural for a man to be interested in another man or a man being interested in a boy. Those things have gone.”

Judge Neilson made the comments during the trial of a brother charged with raping his younger sister. The man has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting his sister when she was 10 or 11 years old in 1973 or 1974 but has pleaded not guilty to charges relating to sex they had in 1981, when she was 18 and he was 26.

“By that stage they are both mature adults,” the judge said.

“The complainant has been sexually awoken, shall we say, by having two relationships with men and she had become ‘free’ when the second relationship broke down. The only thing that might change that is the fact that they were a brother and sister but we’ve come a long way from the 1950s – when the position of the English Common Law was that sex outside marriage was not lawful.”

The comments were labelled misogynistic and “completely disgraceful” by Sally Dowling, the crown prosecutor, who has asked an appeal court to appoint another judge.

“The reference to abortion is particularly repellent,” she said.

Dr Cathy Kezelman, an advocate for preventing child sex abuse, said incest was horrific, regardless of the ages of those involved.

“The relational betrayal of the horrors of incest between a brother and sister of any age is abhorrently criminal,” she told The Sydney Morning Herald.

from Christian News:

The largest bank in the United States now allegedly requires its employees to state whether or not they are supporters of the homosexual lifestyle.

JPMorgan Chase, headquartered in New York City, is the United States’ largest bank, with total assets of over $2.5 trillion. The bank has overtly supported homosexuality for several years, appearing in several “gay pride” events and even offering a number of special benefits to bank employees who identify as “LGBT.”

Now, JPMorgan Chase has taken their LGBT support even further, reportedly requiring all their employees to voice whether or not they support the so-called “LGBT community”. According to Princeton University Professor Robert George, the bank recently surveyed their workers, asking them to state which of the following descriptions applied to them:

  1. A person with disabilities;
  2. A person with children with disabilities;
  3. A person with a spouse/domestic partner with disabilities;
  4. A member of the LGBT community;
  5. An ally of the LGBT community, but not personally identifying as LGBT.

An unnamed individual, who has worked at JPMorgan Chase for 11 years, first alerted George of the unprecedented survey. The employee told George, who is chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, that the questionnaire “had many of us scratching our heads.”

“What?! What kind of question was that?” the employee had wondered. “An ‘ally’ of that community? What’s the alternative if you don’t select that option? You’re not [an] ally of the LGBT community?”

The employee further explained that the survey was not anonymous, since it required everyone to enter personal identification information. The implications, he suggested, are chilling.

“With the way things are going and the fact that LGBT rights are being viewed as pretty much tantamount to the civil rights movement of the mid-50s to late 60s, not selecting that option is essentially saying ‘I’m not an ally of civil rights’; which is a vague way to say ‘I’m a bigot,’” he told George. “The worry among many of us is that those who didn’t select that poorly placed, irrelevant option will be placed on the ‘you can fire these people first’ list.”

George agreed, writing in a blog post that JPMorgan Chase could quickly quash any dissenters who do not support the homosexual lifestyle.

“The message to all employees is perfectly clear:  You are expected to fall into line with the approved and required thinking,” George stated. “Nothing short of assent is acceptable. Silent dissent will no longer be permitted.”

After George first drew attention to the JPMorgan Chase survey, another employee of the bank contacted him to confirm the initial report.

“I just wanted to confirm the Chase employee survey,” the second employee said. “It did have the last two options about being an LBGT ally. … [I] was blown away by this question. I have no idea what they were thinking when they asked that.”

As previously reported, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that “closely held corporations” can operate according to their owners’ religious beliefs. However, because JPMorgan Chase is a publicly-traded banking company, the same standards likely do not apply. The bank’s questioning of employees’ beliefs on homosexuality is therefore concerning to many Christians.

from Answers In Genesis:

I wanted to share a news report about World Vision and the mess they created for themselves. You may recall they made headlines earlier this year for publicly deciding that “married” homosexuals would be allowed employment with the organization–a decision that they later reversed.

I personally believe that World Vision thought it was politically correct (rather than biblically correct) to come out publicly in support of the homosexual life style.  But I believe they found out something about the actual make-up of most of its donors—that their support comes from Bible-believing evangelical Christians, the majority of whom do not support this anti-biblical worldview.

I praise the Lord there is still a significant remnant in this nation who are prepared to stand on God’s very clear word on marriage—one man for one woman (Matthew 19:4–7).

Also, please consider supporting the Children’s Hunger Fund (CHF), a ministry that we work closely with, putting our worldview into action by delivering help and hope to the nations. You can easily donate online to CHF.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

Ken Ham

from Fox News:

For more than a decade new military recruits at Maxwell Air Force Base – Gunter Annex in Alabama have received a Bible from Gideons International volunteers. But that tradition has come to an end after volunteers said they were told by the military that they would no longer be allowed to personally distribute the pocket-sized Bibles to recruits.

“They kicked us out,” Gideon’s volunteer Michael Fredenburg told me in a telephone interview from his home in Montgomery, Ala. “They told us, ‘get your Bibles out.’”

Gaylan Johnson, is a public affairs officer for the Military Entrance Processing Command. He told me the Gideons’ side of the story is “not strictly true.”

“They can place their literature within our facility, but they are not allowed to stand there and talk with applicants or hand them (the Bibles) out,” he told me.

Fredenburg said his father started the tradition of giving Bibles to new military recruits at the Military Entrance Processing Command center more than 10 years ago. He assumed leadership of the group when his father died last July.

For years the Gideons had distributed Bibles to new recruits four days a week. After they finished their paperwork, the recruits would pass by Gideon volunteers who shook their hands and offered them a pocket-sized Bible.

The Gideon volunteers had military identification cards and had been allowed to store Bibles on the base, Fredenburg said.

“It worked beautifully,” he said.

But that changed last week when Fredenburg said a sergeant informed the Gideons that the Bible distribution program was about to come to a end.

“I tried to get a hold of the colonel but he would not return my call,” he said.

So Fredenburg instructed the volunteers to continue distributing the Bibles until they received official orders. Those orders came on Wednesday. The Gideons would no longer be allowed to give the recruits God’s Word, he said.

“I contacted one of my guys and asked him to get the Bibles out,” he told me. “He went over and got all the Bibles – and we’re out.”

Just like that. The Gideons were never told why.

Johnson said there is a command-wide policy regulating any organization that’s not a member of the federal government. Those organizations are referred to as non-federal entities.

“The policy says non-federal entities shall not be permitted to post or station a member within the premises of any MEPCS including outdoor areas under the exclusive control of the MEPCS for purposes of distributing literature,” he said.

Johnson said the Gideons are allowed to have a literature display rack which they are welcome to replenish on a recurring basis.

“They were informed they couldn’t stand within the premises any more and hand them out,” he said. “The Bibles are on a table. Applicants at their own free will can pick one up if they like.”

Word of the ouster of the internationally-known Christian community spread like wildfire among Fredenburg and his friends. All were in a state of disbelief.

“They were happy my dad wasn’t alive to see it,” Fredenburg said. “If he would’ve seen that happen, it probably would’ve killed him.”

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