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2 Thessalonians 2:7:

“For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.”

from Pulpit & Pen:

What We Know

Today, a mad gunman burst into the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, and killed (at least) 26 people and shot approximately 20 more. Average attendance for the church is in the fifties, meaning that almost everyone was shot. The youngest victim was reportedly two and the oldest is in their 70s. The pastor’s 14-year-old daughter was murdered. The gunman was Devin Kelley, a 26 year-old with a dishonorable discharge from the military. Reportedly, he was a registered Democrat, former VBS instructor, and by some reporting, involved with Antifa (no one knows at this point how valid the reporting has been in its earliest of stages). Also, Kelley had posted a photograph of his AR-15 rifle on Facebook in late October. It is unknown what his connection is with the church, but it is not believed he had one. One Citizen grabbed his rifle when seeing the shooting, and took up pursuit with another Citizen who stopped and let him in his vehicle. They pursued Kelley until he ran off the road, and they kept point until police arrived. It is unclear if Kelley was shot by the Citizen or by his own hand.

What Else We Know, and What We Expect

We know that this little town near San Antonio is reeling in agony. For them, this tragedy is Apocalyptic in scale. An entire church was wiped off the face of the Earth, entire families were decimated, an entire community for the rest of time will be remembered as the place where it happened. No doubt, this little hamlet of civilization has been flooded with news agencies from around the world, agents with the FBI and ATF, ambulance-chasing opportunists of the worst varieties, and well-meaning helping hands (who often get in the way).

Whenever schools resume, they will need an army of people trained in crisis therapy. Life will not get back to “normal” in this town for a long, long time – if ever. Likewise, we can expect for liberals to call for gun control (in fact, they already have started) and conspiracy theorists will find reasons to explain that this is a “false flag” designed to confiscate firearms. If Kelley is indeed an activist with Antifa or a registered Democrat, conservatives will claim this is the fruit of an increasingly anti-Christian culture. If Kelley was on psychotropic prescription drugs, it will be used as further evidence that we are medicating people into sociopaths. Anti-military activists will claim that the army is creating killers. If Kelley was a conservative, liberals will seek to draw him to some kind of militia movement and perpetuate the stereotype of dangerous white men. All of those conversations will be had in coming days.

It will be easy to get sucked into the political volleying back and forth between conservatives and Marxist fascists who want to disarm America. It will be easy to make that the substance of our concern. We can expect political opportunists to take as much advantage of this situation as ambulance-chasing lawyers at a horrific crash scene.

What We Should Do

Clearly, the first thing we must do is pray for the survivors and loved ones of the deceased at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. Our petitions should be made to the God of mercy without ceasing in coming days (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We mustn’t just drop a short, drive-by prayer – a “God be with them” – a prayerette in passing, but repeatedly throughout the day drop our heads and pray for those who are left behind this tragedy, who must slowly but surely pick up the pieces to their shattered lives and figure out how to move forward with their loved ones buried in the ground.

We should pray that the Holy Spirit intercedes with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26), because in a time like this, words fail us. Certainly words are failing those in Sutherland Springs this evening. Sometimes there is little to say, and the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when our spiritual brokenness exceeds our mental ability to convey those thoughts into words. We should also give supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving to the city, county and state officials who have to clean up the mess (1 Timothy 2:1-4), distribute justice, dispense mercy, and provide law and order in the midst of tragedy. Likewise, we should force our flesh to cry out in prayer for the wicked, which would include the shooter (if he weren’t already gone to his own place) and those capitalizing on the tragedy for their own political agenda, being instructed in Scripture to even pray for our enemies (Luke 6:27-28). Finally, concerning prayer, we should mourn with those who mourn and enter ourselves into a time of grief and grieve with and alongside Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Secondly, we should preach the Gospel. We are told to preach the Gospel in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2). This means that the Gospel had better be on our lips in the midst of turmoil, trouble, and suffering. If anyone thinks that it is not a proper time to preach Gospel and repentance, they should be reminded of Luke 13, when Jesus was interrupted by the news heralds proclaiming that there had been a massacre in the temple (sound familiar?) and Jesus responded in Luke 13:3, “I tell you, no! Unless you repent, ye likewise will perish.”

People are especially receptive to the Gospel in times of terrible travesty. We are not Gospel opportunists because this would imply we only share the Gospel when times are bad. In fact, we simply share Gospel in all seasons, which include seasons of suffering. This world is a broken mess and life is short and full of sorrow (Job 14:1). There is no better time to discuss these matters than when examples of their truthfulness are still fresh in our minds.

Third, we should take note. While tragedy creates emotionality, emotionality clouds wise judgment. While liberals cry out that it is now time to discuss gun control, we know that policy decisions are best made when people are thinking rationally, and not thinking emotionally. Without being rash, we should nonetheless take note of the lessons here, and make future use of them when we have fully thought out their implications. For example, we should take note that this was a small church, with probably few enemies in the world. This was not a megachurch that might attract throngs of people with perverse political agendas or mental disorders. And yet, a madman decided to approach this small church and wage war against it, ambushing it on a bright Sunday morning. What this means is that any church, at any time, can be attacked, for any reason.

Likewise, we should take note that a lot of people were murdered in a very short period of time. Reaction time, for those of us who steward churches, is very limited. We are simply not afforded time in such an active shooter scenario. Our churches must be prepared to protect the flock against imminent threats, guard and lock doors, and fire back at a moment’s notice (for a Biblical defense of self-defense, read this post, “Why Some People Need A Good Killing“). There are fewer ideas with less Biblical warrant and less historic support among orthodox churches than the absurd notion of pacificism, which has largely been relegated to sub-Christian cults. Christians have always been people who fired back in order to protect the innocent, and we must be prepared to do so.

What We Should Definitely Not Do

We should not be armchair quarterbacks when it comes to church security. We do not know if anyone in the congregation was armed (or if its armed members had a chance to return fire before being sucker-punched with semi-automatic gunfire through the wall). We do not know if that church had a security plan in place. And frankly, you and I (probably) do not know what it is like to use a firearm in a crisis situation, and we do not want to pretend that it is as easy as we’ve made it out to be in the movies. The fact is, a madman with a gun can kill a lot of people before he is stopped, even in a community with lots of Citizens carrying their own self-defense firearms – especially when he attacks without warning.

We should also not forget that at the very center of this mess are approximately 50 victims, some of whom are alive and some of whom are dead. People are important, and the people of this community are hurting. Remember that when you are tempted to use the facts surrounding this tragedy to bludgeon the political enemy. That club is covered with blood, so be conscientious about how (or if) you swing it.

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And if anyone wonders why things like this: “26 killed in church attack in Texas’ deadliest mass shooting” are occurring you only need to read this article. We have lost an entire generation and what we have seen in Texas this week is only the beginning!

(The Texas Church shooter was a former Christian who turned to Atheism)

from Berean Research:

The following blog post is a response to Kari Paul’s “Why millennials are ditching religion for witchcraft and astrology” (here).  In his piece, John Paul Ferguson specifically addresses the move away from traditional religion to an interest in paganism on college campuses. According to Ferguson “a number of universities around the country have officially recognized Pagan or Wicca student groups, usually housed under their respective religious student activities departments.” There is little doubt that the increased interest in pagan spirituality can be traced to people’s obsession with the environment.

To shed light on what Wiccans believe, Ferguson quotes author Catherine Edwards Sanders who says that those who practice witchcraft (Wicca) have “monistic and pantheistic beliefs that all living things are of equal value. … Humans have no special placenor are they made in God’s image. … Wiccans believe that they possess divine power within themselves and that they are gods and goddesses. …Consciousness can and should be altered through rite and ritual.” (emphasis added)

John Paul Ferguson’s piece is over at The College Fix. He writes:

As millennials continue to leave traditional Christian religions, interest in Wiccan and pagan practices have seen increased interest in recent years, a trend also spotted among young people and on college campuses.

Pagan or Wiccan student groups are present on a number of college campuses — both secular and religious — across the nation. The growing normalization of such practices, albeit still a minority, corresponds with the decline in Christian believers, some observers note.

A recent report in Market Watch headlined “Why millennials are ditching religion for witchcraft and astrology” argues as much, for example.

“Whether it be spell-casting, tarot, astrology, meditation and trance, or herbalism, these traditions offer tangible ways for people to enact change in their lives,” Melissa Jayne, owner of the Brooklyn-based “metaphysical boutique,” which has seen a big increase in 20-something customers in recent years, told Market Watch.

“For a generation that grew up in a world of big industry, environmental destruction, large and oppressive governments, and toxic social structures, all of which seem too big to change, this can be incredibly attractive,” she said.

The article goes on to cite several businesses that have successfully latched on to this trend, from online purveyors of tarot cards to popular astrology apps.

The article also cites recent Pew Research Center data that found 25 percent of Americans now identify with no religion, as opposed to 2011’s 18 percent. Underscoring that, a 2014 National Science Foundation poll found nearly half of all Americans say astrology is either “very scientific” or “sort of scientific,” UPI reports.

With that, it may be no surprise to see interest in paganism is also alive and well on campus. Continue reading

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from the College Fix:

A Christian student leader is demanding an apology after a poster distributed by Kent State University asked if stating “You need Jesus“ could qualify as hate speech.

The public university’s Center for Student Involvement created and circulated the posteron Twitter last week. It was designed to promote an event on free speech issues as part of Kent State’s KENTTalks, which are intended to “provide a safe place for discussions and transformational experiences for our student body” and promote “civil discourse.”

Silhouetted activists on the posters hold a range of placards with messages, overlaid with the rhetorical question “free speech or hate speech?” Alongside provocative expressions including “No More Gays,” “Women Need To Serve Their Man” and “Build a Wall,” the fourth placard bears a nonviolent, basic expression of the Christian faith: “You need Jesus.”

Jared Small, president of the Campus Ministry International student organization, told The College Fix that the poster was inappropriate.

“The university should apologize because it appears to be targeted toward one political and religious side,” he wrote in an email:

They could have included hate speech against president Trump or hate speech against Christians as examples. In my opinion, free speech protects hate speech to an extent. However, the university appears to show a bias against Christians and conservatives.

Small later clarified he was speaking personally, not for his organization.

Prof. Amy Reynolds, the dean of Kent State’s College of Communication and Information, moderated last week’s KENTTalks panel discussion on free speech.

She told The Fix in an email that she had no involvement in creating the poster for the event: The Center for Student Involvement “created all of the promotional materials … I’m not sure what the process is/was.”

Neither Eric Mansfield nor Emily Vincent, the executive director and director of Kent State media relations, responded to repeated Fix queries. Neither did Kristan Dolan nor Rick Danals, assistant director and assistant dean of the Center for Student Involvement.

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from Zero Hedge:

The geopolitical reality in the Middle East is changing dramatically.

The impact of the Arab Spring, the retraction of the U.S. military, and diminishing economic influence on the Arab world – as displayed during the Obama Administration – are facts.

The emergence of a Russian-Iranian-Turkish triangle is the new reality. The Western hegemony in the MENA region has ended, and not in a shy way, but with a long list of military conflicts and destabilization.

The first visit of a Saudi king to Russia shows the growing power of Russia in the Middle East. It also shows that not only Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but also Egypt and Libya, are more likely to consider Moscow as a strategic ally.

King Salman’s visit to Moscow could herald not only several multibillion business deals, but could be the first real step towards a new regional geopolitical and military alliance between OPEC leader Saudi Arabia and Russia.

This cooperation will not only have severe consequences for Western interests but also could partly undermine or reshape the position of OPEC at the same time.

Russian president Vladimir Putin is currently hosting a large Saudi delegation, led by King Salman and supported by Saudi minister of energy Khalid Al Falih.

Moscow’s open attitude to Saudi Arabia—a lifetime Washington ally and strong opponent of the growing Iran power projections in the Arab world—show that Putin understands the current pivotal changes in the Middle East.

U.S. allies Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and even the UAE, have shown an increased eagerness to develop military and economic relations with Moscow, even if this means dealing with a global power currently supporting their archenemy Iran. Analysts wonder where the current visit of King Salman will really lead to, but all signs are on green for a straightforward Arab-Saudi support for a bigger Russian role in the region, and more in-depth cooperation in oil and gas markets.

In stark contrast to the difficult relationship of the West with the Arab world, Moscow seems to be playing the regional power game at a higher level. It can become an ally or friend to regional adversaries, such as Iran, Turkey, Egypt and now Saudi Arabia. Arab regimes are also willing to discuss cooperation with Russia, even though the country is supporting adversaries in the Syrian and Yemen conflicts and continues to supply arms to the Shi’a regime in Iran.

Investors can expect Russia and Saudi Arabia to sign a multitude of business deals, some of which have already been presented. Moscow and Riyadh will also discuss the still fledgling oil and gas markets, as both nations still heavily depend on hydrocarbon revenues. Arab analysts expect both sides to choose a bilateral strategy to keep oil prices from falling lower. Riyadh and Moscow have the same end goal: a stable oil and gas market, in which demand and supply keep each other in check to push price levels up, but without leaving enough breathing space for new market entrants such as U.S. shale.

Putin and Salman will also discuss the security situation in the Middle East, especially the ongoing Syrian civil war, Iran’s emerging power, and the Libya situation. Until now, the two have supported opposite sides, but Riyadh has realized that its ultimate goal, the removal of Syrian president Assad, is out of reach. To prevent a full-scale Shi’a triangle (Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon), other options are now being sought to quell Tehran’s power surge. Moscow is key in this.

Putin’s unconditional support of the Iranian military onslaught in Iraq and Syria, combined with its support for Hezbollah in Lebanon or Houthis in Yemen, will be discussed and maybe tweaked to give Riyadh room to maneuver into the Russian influence sphere. The verdict on this isn’t yet out, but Riyadh’s move must be seen in light of ongoing Moscow discussions with Egypt, Libya, Jordan and the UAE.

A growing positive Putin vibe in the Arab world is now clear. The strong leadership of Russia’s new Tsar has become a main point of interest for the (former pro-Western) Arab regimes. The U.S. and its European allies have only shown a diffuse political-military approach to the threats in the MENA region, while even destabilizing historically pro-Western Arab royalties and presidents. Putin’s friendship, however, is being presented as unconditional and long lasting.

Even though geopolitics and military operations in the Middle East now are making up most headlines, the Saudi-Russian rapprochement will also have economic consequences. Riyadh’s leadership of OPEC is still undisputed, as it has shown over the last several years. Saudi Arabia’s eagerness to counter the free-fall of oil prices has been successful, but a much bigger effort is required to bring prices back to a level of between $60-75 per barrel. Russia’s role—as the largest of non-OPEC producers—has been substantial, bringing in not only several emerging producers, but also by putting pressure on its allies Iran, Venezuela and Algeria.

The historically important Moscow-Riyadh cooperation in oil and gas is unprecedented. Without Russia’s support, overall compliance to the OPEC production cut agreement would have been very low, leading to even lower oil prices.

The Saudi-Russian rapprochement could, however, be seen as a threat by the West and OPEC itself. Western influence in the region has waned since the end of the 1990s, not only due to the peace dividend of NATO, but especially because OECD countries are moving away from oil. Saudi Arabia had to find new markets, which happened with China and India. The Saudi future is no longer based on Western customers or support, but lies in Asia and other emerging regions. The FSU region has also popped up on Saudi screens. Investment opportunities, combined with geopolitical support and military interests, are readily available in Russia and its satellite states.

For OPEC, the Moscow-Riyadh love affair could also mean a threat. Throughout OPEC’s history, Riyadh has been the main power broker in the oil cartel, pushing forward price and production strategies; most of the time this was done in close cooperation with all the other members, most of them Arab allies. This changed dramatically after Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed to cooperate in global oil markets. Through the emergence of this OPEC/ non-OPEC cooperation, Moscow and Riyadh have grown closer than expected. The two countries now decide the future of global oil markets before they discuss it with some of the other main players like UAE, Iran, Algeria and Nigeria. King Salman’s visit is seen as another step toward a more in-depth cooperation in oil and gas related issues.

Besides global oil market cooperation, Saudi Arabia is and will become more interested to invest in natural gas development, not only to have an interest in Russia’s gas future but also to bring in Russian technology, investment and LNG to the Kingdom. 

At the same time, media sources are stating that Saudi Arabia is NOT asking Russia to take part in the long-awaited Aramco IPO in 2018. Russian individual investors and financial institutions, however, are expected to take an interest.

Putin understands not only Russian chess tactics but also the Arab “Tawila” approach. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman already will prepare his Tawila strategy, putting enough stones on the table to ensure his successful end game. MBS, currently de-facto ruler of the Kingdom, is targeting a full house—Russian cooperation in energy, defense and investments—while softening Moscow’s 100% percent support of the Shi’a archenemy Iran.

For both sides, Moscow and Riyadh, the current constellation presents a win-win situation. Moscow can reach its ultimate goal in the Middle East: to become the main power broker and knock the US from the pedestal. For Riyadh, the option to counter the Iranian threat, while also bolstering its own economy and hydrocarbon future, is now within reach.

King Salman’s trip could go down in history as the point of no return for the West. Pictures of Russian President Vladimir Putin and King Salman of Saudi Arabia could replace historic pictures of King Saud and U.S. President Roosevelt (Bitter Lake, 1945). In a few years, King-to-be Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman might tell his children that this was one of the pillars that changed not only the Middle East but also supported his Vision 2030 plan of becoming a bridge between the old (West) and the new (Russia-Asia).

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From Vigilant Citizen:

Turkish designer Dilara Findikoglu’s presented her Spring/Summer 2018 collection at London Fashion Week and it was nothing less than a satanic Black Mass. Indeed, the event took place at the altar of St Andrew Church in London and incorporated heavy occult and satanic symbolism. In short, the event summed up everything the fashion world is truly about.

While Dilara Findikoglu is said to an “up-and-coming rebel of the fashion world”, she’s perfectly in line with the industry’s philosophy. She’s not rebelling at all, she’s doing what exactly the type of stuff “they” want her to do.

For this reason, celebrities such as Rihanna, FKA Twigs, and Grimes wear seen wearing Findikoglu’s creations.

Her latest fashion show featured artist Brooke Candy (her videos are full of MK imagery) and drag artist Violet Chachki.

The backdrop is basically a mish-mash of Masonic-inspired imagery. On each side are the Masonic twin pillars. Between the pillars is the letter G inside an inverted pentagram. Underneath it is the all-seeing eye inside a hexagram. There is also the Masonic square and compass in there. To top it off, the runway was a checkerboard pattern. Here’s a classic Masonic painting for comparison.

In this heavily occult context, the models were dressed and arranged with a plethora of symbols. Of course, this had to be combined with the current agenda of androgyny and blurring of the genders.

A sigil is an inscribed or painted symbol considered to have magical power. The term has usually referred the pictorial signature of a demon or other entity and is used in ceremonial magic. The particular sigil on the model’s forehead is strongly reminiscent to the Sigil of Lucifer.

In short, the model is basically a “bride of Satan”.

Historically, a Black Mass is a ritual characterized by the inversion of the Traditional Latin Mass celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church and the desecration of Christian objects for Satanic purposes. The fact that models walk around a Church wearing devil horns recalls the concept of Black Mass……

Read the full article here.

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from PJ Media:

penly gay LGBT activist Tim Gill, who has poured $422 million into the homosexual movement since the 1990s, recently told Rolling Stone why he won’t allow Christians to opt out of participating in same-sex weddings.

“We’re going to punish the wicked,” Gill told Rolling Stone. After the 2015 Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges legalized same-sex marriage across the country, Gill turned his activism apparatus against religious freedom restoration acts (RFRAs) and toward a legal mentality that would penalize Christians, and anyone else in business, who refuse to participate in a same-sex wedding.

“In the wake of Obergefell, … some donors and activists declared victory and moved on,” Rolling Stone‘s Andy Kroll explained. “But Gill insists the LGBTQ civil-rights movement is far from finished: In 28 states, it’s still legal to discriminate against LGBTQ people in housing, employment and public accommodations like restaurants, hotels and restrooms.”

It may not be surprising to see Rolling Stone so misrepresent the situation like this (see “UVA rape scandal”). But the record needs to be set straight: The “public accommodations” push is exactly the line LGBT activists use to undercut Christians’ freedom to opt out of serving same-sex weddings.

Concrete court cases reveal the falseness of this “discrimination” narrative. A Washington state florist and Oregon bakers were fined for refusing to serve same-sex weddings, but they each gladly served the lesbian and gay people who requested wedding services. In both cases, they refused to serve a wedding, fearing that such service would be a public endorsement of something they believed a perversion of marriage.

Under Obergefell, same-sex couples can get married. But a wedding ceremony is still a private event, and people should not be forced to celebrate it, if such a ceremony is opposed to their convictions. This isn’t just an issue of religious freedom — it also involves free speech and free association.

But public accommodation laws have become a cudgel by which LGBT activists attempt to force people to violate their consciences. Indeed, an LGBT group in Ohio actually announced plans to try to force churches to host same-sex weddings on their property. A Christian farmer and his wife in Michigan were excluded from a farmer’s market because they posted on Facebook that they would not host a same-sex wedding on their own property.

In March, the ACLU sued a Sacramento Catholic hospital, even after the hospital helped a transgender patient find another hospital at which to have “his” hysterectomy. The ACLU’s lawsuit makes it clear that this debate isn’t about access — it’s about forcing people to violate their religious convictions.

Last month, the Supreme Court announced that it will consider the case of Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who also refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. Like the Washington florist, the Oregon baker, and the Michigan farmer, Phillips gladly served LGBT people, he just would not endorse a public event which violated his beliefs.

 

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from Got Questions:

The Bible does not use the phrase “one-world government” or “one-world currency” in referring to the end times. It does, however, provide ample evidence to enable us to draw the conclusion that both will exist under the rule of the Antichrist in the last days.

In his apocalyptic vision in the Book of Revelation, the Apostle John sees the “beast,” also called the Antichrist, rising out of the sea having seven heads and ten horns (Revelation 13:1). Combining this vision with Daniel’s similar one (Daniel 7:16-24), we can conclude that some sort of world system will be inaugurated by the beast, the most powerful “horn,” who will defeat the other nine and will begin to wage war against Christians. The ten-nation confederacy is also seen in Daniel’s image of the statue in Daniel 2:41-42, where he pictures the final world government consisting of ten entities represented by the ten toes of the statue. Whoever the ten are and however they come to power, Scripture is clear that the beast will either destroy them or reduce their power to nothing more than figureheads. In the end, they will do his bidding.

John goes on to describe the ruler of this vast empire as having power and great authority, given to him by Satan himself (Revelation 13:2), being followed by and receiving worship from “all the world” (13:3-4), and having authority over “every tribe, people, language and nation” (13:7). From this description, it is logical to assume that this person is the leader of a one-world government which is recognized as sovereign over all other governments. It’s hard to imagine how such diverse systems of government as are in power today would willingly subjugate themselves to a single ruler, and there are many theories on the subject. A logical conclusion is that the disasters and plagues described in Revelation as the seal and trumpet judgments (chapters 6-11) will be so devastating and create such a monumental global crisis that people will embrace anything and anyone who promises to give them relief.

Once entrenched in power, the beast (Antichrist) and the power behind him (Satan) will move to establish absolute control over all peoples of the earth to accomplish their true end, the worship Satan has been seeking ever since being thrown out of heaven (Isaiah 14:12-14). One way they will accomplish this is by controlling all commerce, and this is where the idea of a one-world currency comes in. Revelation 13:16-17 describes some sort of satanic mark which will be required in order to buy and sell. This means anyone who refuses the mark will be unable to buy food, clothing or other necessities of life. No doubt the vast majority of people in the world will succumb to the mark simply to survive. Again, verse 16 makes it clear that this will be a universal system of control where everyone, rich and poor, great and small, will bear the mark on their hand or forehead. There is a great deal of speculation as to how exactly this mark will be affixed, but the technologies that are available right now could accomplish it very easily.

Those who are left behind after the Rapture of the Church will be faced with an excruciating choice—accept the mark of the beast in order to survive or face starvation and horrific persecution by the Antichrist and his followers. But those who come to Christ during this time, those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 13:8), will choose to endure, even to martyrdom.

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