Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe ~ Larry Osborne

 Pastor Osborne on Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe

Pastor Larry Osborne of North Coast Church in Vista, Calif., was saved a lot of heartache when he was taught not to base his Christian belief system on what everybody else said.
Biblical scrutiny was key to helping him gain greater trust in God’s Word and pinpoint the “partial truths” that many Christians hold as complete truths.
And these beliefs that “smart, sincere, good, and godly Christians” hold aren’t just false, they’re dangerous, he says.
He lays these out in his newly released book, 10 Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe.

CP: Many Christians don’t seem to know or are confused about what exactly they should believe and on top of that they are not really studying Scripture. Is that part of the reason you wrote this book?

Osborne: We live in a day and age of sound bites and so often so much of what we think is in the Bible is just a partial part of a verse or a statement without any knowledge of all the verses that are around it or the other parts of Scripture that might qualify what a particular verse says.

CP: You talk about spiritual urban legends. You mention that these actually get passed around in Sunday school, bible study, a devotional or even sermons. How does that happen? Shouldn’t Christians expect to receive proper teaching from these areas?

Osborne: Definitely, we should be expecting proper teaching. But what happens especially in Sunday school classes and Bible studies and I would say only occasionally in sermons, somebody passes out a truism that sounds good and we’ve just heard it so many times we don’t bother to check it out and that’s the source of most of these urban legends. They’re true partially but they’re not true completely. And it’s the qualification and the rest of the story that’s important. It kind of reminds me of when Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount “you have heard that you shouldn’t murder but I tell you you shouldn’t hate or be angry.” Well they were correct when they said you shouldn’t murder but they were wrong to think it stopped there. Many of the spiritual urban legends are the same way. They’re just the partial truth that we shouldn’t be building the whole house on.

CP: What proportion of Christians do you estimate believe in these spiritual urban legends?

I would say very few Christians probably buy all of them and most of us have one or two of them that will cause us to go “hm.” But the mixture of these is just rampant throughout the Christian community.

CP: It seems like if Christians were clear on all these points you mentioned in the book, they’d do better in debates with atheists or even just be able to clear up a lot of the questions and even criticisms that non-Christians have.

I think some of these would clear them up. Not all of them. Probably the most common thread through all of them is that it would remove the disillusionment that comes when we bank on promises that God actually never made. And if you look at some of them, absolutely they can help in defending our faith and others maybe wouldn’t help so much there but they’d help in the disillusionment area.

For instance, I’m not sure agnostics or atheists want to get into a debate about whether or not forgiving means totally forgetting everything that happened. The negative impact is more upon my spiritual life than my witness.

CP: Let’s get into the actual spiritual urban legends. First one - faith can fix anything. Believing in this could actually be dangerous you say. Can you explain that?

Osborne: Definitely. It’s far better to be positive than negative. So if a kid walks up in his little league game expecting to strike out he probably will. If he expects to hit a home run, he might. But the idea that he expects completely and totally and positively … the facts don’t bear that out.

 I can have all the faith in the pilot of the airplane I’m on but if the plane has a problem and goes down, my faith won’t save my life. I can be scared to death and taking Dramamine to help me get through a flight I’m sure is going to go down and if the plane is good and the pilot is good I still get there. The power of faith is in who it’s in not in faith itself.

CP: You say that in some cases, like with Apostle Paul, having faith may make your situation even worse.

Osborne: Absolutely. The last part of Hebrews 11 gives a whole list of people who essentially from an earthly perspective failed and then it says they were all commended for their faith. The bottom line definition of faith is trusting God enough to do what He says. Often today we think faith means going out on a risky limb and trusting God will rescue us. But faith isn’t about doing a foolish risky thing, it’s about obeying God. So if God clearly told you to go out on that limb then go. But if I’m going out on that limb saying you know what I’m just going to have faith God will be with me, the Bible actually says in Proverbs that a prudent man sees danger in heights and it’s the fool who keeps on going.

CP: So this kind of faith that doesn’t necessarily lead to earthly success, as you said, wouldn’t be popular with Americans who may want more of a feel-good faith or something that leads to more happiness.

Osborne: Mankind in our own natural state away from the Lord, we’re always seeking our own temporal happiness. But I think ultimate happiness is found in God. On top of that, I think some of it is just a language issue. For instance, if you went back to the old King James in the early 1600s the word charity meant love. But in the English language now if we were to read the old King James chapter on love in 1 Corinthians 13, and it said charity, we would think of giving money away.

 I think part of the problem is simply in especially American English the word faith has come to mean positive thinking because our culture uses it that way. When we see it in the Bible we give it that definition rather than stepping back and say “how does the Bible define faith.” It doesn’t define it as positive thinking, it defines it as trusting enough to obey.

CP: Another spiritual urban legend – a godly home guarantees godly kids. There are a lot of studies that ultimately point to the parents and recommend they take certain steps in order to raise their children to be godly. But you say even if you do raise kids in a godly home, ultimately it’s out of their hands.

Osborne: What I simply say is we can have influence. We can’t dictate the outcome. And there is a lot of belief in the old model of B.F. Skinner’s behaviorism as if children are born as blank slates and our environment and our perfect parenting will somehow create a child that walks with God. The best environment and the best parenting still has to come up against a person’s choice.

 I always go back to the Garden of Eden where you have perfect parenting, if you want to call God’s rules parenting, you have a perfect environment, and you have two people without any sin nature within them. Yet they rebelled. So, my goodness. I cannot guarantee godly kids. What I am responsible for is doing the best I can.

CP: Next, God has a blueprint for my life. You say God’s plan is not hidden and it’s not some big Easter egg hunt. So what would you say to those who are still searching for His will and what to do next in their life?

Osborne: God gives us a lot more freedom than sometimes we give Him credit for giving us. For instance, His will in my life is that I marry a Christian. His will in my life is that when I’m dating I’m sexually pure. His will in my life is that in my business dealings I’m honest. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to marry this person or that He says I have to be in this business or live in this town.

The whole thing about a blueprint is that every single detail of a blueprint is spelled out. And any wavering from it creates a real mess. And if indeed there is any sense of human freedom not questioning whether God knows it but just any sense of human freedom, if indeed there is evil that is done by evil people, then when that’s done that changes the situation.

There’s a passage in Jeremiah I believe chapter 18, where he tells Jeremiah to go to the potter’s wheel and he’s going to teach him a lesson. And there he watches the artisan making something on the wheel and it goes wrong. And I love the phrase so he remade it into another vessel as it pleased the potter to make, and then he says so can I do with you o house of Israel.

 So God’s game plan has certain game rules that fit all of us. But God’s plan for David, his game plan was not for David to kill Uriah and marry Bathsheba, clearly. That was not God’s plan A. When that happened, within the game plan there was still a way of restoration. We worry about things when the Lord says I don’t really care, play whatever game you want to play in the backyard just stay in the backyard.

You can work in any one of these business fields, just do it ethically.

CP: So it seems we try to make everything too confined. We make Christian life seem like there are too many rules.

Osborne: One of the ironies is people will come to me in the midst of …let’s say a couple is living together and they say we want to know whether God wants us to get married. Well I don’t think He’s going to tell you that answer until you decide to respond to the first one. Or you got a business man or woman who’s cheating on their taxes and they’re coming in and saying should I take this new job, what does God want? He’s not going to tell him what job to take. He’s already told them to be honest. That’s the important thing. We obsess on the little things – which apartment to get, which car to buy, what career to take. No, no. The character, these are the things I spelled out; let’s deal with those. 

CP: Another legend – Christians shouldn’t judge. Is this a view that Christians hold more or that more non-Christians have?

Osborne: I think it really goes into two extremes. There’s a whole branch of Christianity that’s very judgmental. But if you were to take the man on the street who’s not a Christian and the man or woman who is a Christian but not part of a more extreme political viewpoint, they tend to say live and let live and that somehow it’s wrong to judge anybody. Clearly, we’re not allowed to condemn, that’s God’s prerogative. But in the very passage that people use ‘didn’t Jesus say judge not?’ they forget that he goes on and he didn’t say don’t judge, he said here’s how to judge.

Make sure you don’t judge where you have a problem.

In fact he follows it immediately with don’t give your pearls to swine. How can I decide whether someone’s swine or not, spiritually, if I’m not judging. In the very next verse he says here’s how to determine a true and a false prophet by their fruit. Well I got to judge to do that. And obviously, Jesus did quite a bit of judging.
The idea that we are not to judge period is a partial truth. The classic example of well let’s read the rest of it. Do not judge when you have the same problem, do not put our Christian judgment on non-believers. But we can’t go through life without making judgment.

CP: You also say in your book don’t judge if God hasn’t spoken clearly. In the area of homosexuality, for example, some believe the Bible doesn’t address homosexuality specifically. How should Christians approach this issue then?

Osborne: To me I always want to use the scriptures as my measuring guide. I don’t like to put myself in a position where I’m saying God said that but that’s not really what He meant. Or somehow the writers of the New Testament or Jesus himself said things that don’t fit anymore because they were acquiescing to the culture – we’ve all heard that one.

They were just fitting in with the culture.

That’s ridiculous because if anybody knew how to offend people it was Jesus and the apostles. They were equal opportunity offenders. Any time I look at something and I say in my mind well that was giving in to the culture then because they wouldn’t understand, I go “excuse me, he was killed for not giving into the culture and their legalism and their concepts of the Sabbath.” Same with the apostles.

CP: So would you say Christians do too little judging or too much?

Osborne: I’d say it’s two extremes. We haven’t found a happy middle. There’s an arrogant judgment that’s caused the world to not equate Christians with loving people. And there’s a whole other group of us who’ve misunderstood tolerance because biblical tolerance you have the freedom to be wrong, but we’ve interpreted it to mean everybody’s right. So I see an absence in the happy middle and two extremes, very judgmental and people who were afraid to even agree with Jesus when he calls something sin.

CP: Next legend – God causes everything that happens. Usually this is a problem with nonbelievers because they blame God for all the suffering in the world. But this is also a widely held belief by Christians?

Osborne: I think so, especially Christians who haven’t had a deep hurt, when try to figure out a deep hurt in someone else’s life. Everything does happen for a reason if you mean because we live in a fallen world. But what they really mean is this is the best of all things that could have happened to you. So when a tragedy happens, we go well it really is a good thing and that’s ridiculous. Bad things aren’t good. I think it’s Isaiah who says woe to those who call evil good. I tell the story of my wife’s cancer in there if my wife’s cancer was the best of all things that could have happened to us and necessary, well then cancer should have been around before the fall and will probably be needed in heaven. So it’s a result of our fallen world. And God’s not surprised by it. And everything moves toward His plan. But along the way evil is evil.

CP: So the conclusion from all these spiritual urban legends is that everyone should study the Bible.

Osborne: To me, the simple sound bite, if you will, I’d use is make sure you read the verses before and after and read the other passages of scripture that talk about the same subject because sometimes we treat the Bible as if it’s a series of sound bites and little sayings that we can put on t-shirts, coffee cups and posters. But it’s a big book. It’s a library of 66 books. Just as no lawyer would take one case he would look at all the cases. We need to look at what the bible says about any subject in all of its passages. And when we do that we’ll avoid these urban legends.

My main hope in writing this book was really two-fold, that it would cause people to look more to Scripture than our favorite little sayings, anything that drives people to Scripture is good. And that it would also spare people who become angry at God when He didn’t come through on promises He never made. That to me as a pastor over all my years is always one of the saddest things. Somebody’s become angry at God because He didn’t do something they thought He said He would do. Well, He never said that. That’s why I call them “dumb things smart Christians believe” because none of us buy them all but if we’re not careful they sound good enough, we buy into a few of them.

CP: So which of these urban legends have you encountered the most as a pastor?

Osborne: Frankly, all of them are out there. Probably one of the most common is the simple faith. Let your conscience be your guide. I don’t know how many times, you point out a Bible verse, you say no, God says this. They say, well I have peace about it. Well so do all the guys in prison they have peace about what they did.

CP: So you compiled all of these as a pastor and what members of your church have come to you with?

Osborne: Absolutely. Over the years I’ve done some teaching in summers that include more than these ten. Little four-week series we call urban legends. I do four over one summer, four over next summer. And this book actually came out out of those.

The response was just amazing.

Things that everybody believes but aren’t true.

How Do I Know God is Real? ~ Billy Graham

 How Do I Know God is Real?

Q: How do you know God is real? My psychology professor at college last year said that the idea of "God" was just something human beings dreamed up, and people believe in God because they're afraid of being alone in the universe. How do I know she's not right? - N.T.

  • A: Did it ever occur to you that her argument would be just as valid if you reversed it? In other words, isn't it just as logical to say that some people don't believe in God because they want to be alone in the universe? Then they'd be free to live any way they wanted to, with no moral restraints. Think about it carefully - because it's true.
How do I know God is real? One reason is because of the wonders we see around us. From the most distant galaxies to the smallest subatomic particles, the universe exhibits amazing order and complexity. It's far more logical to conclude that God created it all than to claim it happened by chance. Many centuries before telescopes and microscopes were invented, the Psalmist exclaimed, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands" (Psalm 19:1).

But I know God is real for an even greater reason: Over 20 centuries ago, God came down from heaven and walked among us. God became a man! Do you want to know what God is like? Look at Jesus Christ, who showed God's love for us by dying for us. He then proved He was divine by rising from the dead
I invite you to look at Jesus Christ for yourself, as He is found in the pages of the New Testament. Not only will you conclude that God exists, but that Christ can change your life.

(Afraid of the day?) As In the Days of Noe ~ Jack Kinsella (Rapture dodgeball)

As In the Days of Noe . . .
In Defense of the Faith
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Jack Kinsella - Omega Letter Editor

"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be." (Matthew 24:35-36)

The text itself, at first glance, seems simple and unambiguous. Jesus is explaining that nobody, not even He, knew the precise hour and day in which the Lord will return for His Church. But He offers a clue, saying conditions will be similar that those experienced by Noah and his family.
Before moving on, let's look quickly at conditions in Noah's day, according to the Scriptures. First, Noah, himself.

"But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God."

We immediately see four key points. Noah was the recipient of an unmerited gift - "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." God extended His grace to Noah, who, in spite of being a sinner, trusted the Lord's word.

Consequently, Genesis tells us, "Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations."
Noah was a 'just' man. Only God can justify sinful man. Note that it wasn't Noahthat was perfect -- instead, Noah was 'perfect in his generations.'

What does that mean?

Genesis Chapter Six opens with an explanation: "And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. . . (6:1-2)
The reference to the 'sons of God' is a reference to angels: "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them." (Job 1:6)
"When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" (Job 38:7)
These angels, according to Genesis 6, produced hybrid, half-angelic and half-human offspring, polluting the human bloodline.

"There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. " (6:4)

At the Fall, God pronounced both the curse and a Promise of a Redeemer, saying to the serpent, Satan, "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His Heel. "

By the time of Noah, the seed of Eve had been so polluted by this hybrid bloodline that only Noah and his family remained "perfect in his generations."

And God's promise was specific -- mankind could only be redeemed by the seed of Eve.
Wipe out Eve's 'seed' and God's word is broken, and Satan wins his case on the grounds God is not perfect and therefore not qualified to stand in judgment over him. Finally, we see that Noah "walked with God".

Noah is a picture of the Church in the last days. The Church is redeemed, and therefore justified, not by its own merits, but by God's grace. Covered by the Blood of Christ, the Church's 'bloodline' is perfect and unpolluted by the world.

Noah was preserved alive out of judgment, not necessarily because God loved him best, but because it was a necessary element in God's unfolding plan for the ages.

Had God not preserved Noah and his family alive out of judgment, mankind would have perished and there could have been no Virgin Birth, no redeeming life, atoning death or Resurrection unto life.

Only Eve's seed could qualify according to God's Promise, so some perfect, untainted, purely human remnant of Eve's seed had to be preserved for God's plan to move forward.
God's plan for the last days includes preserving a remnant out of judgment, not because He likes this generation best, but because it is necessary for His plan to move forward. Noah and his family were ridiculed for 120 years, until "the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished." (2nd Peter 3:6)

Jesus likened the Rapture to the Flood, saying, "And [they] knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." (Matthew 24:39)

How do we know that Jesus is referring to the Rapture in his passage about Noah, and not His 2nd Coming? Jesus said no man could know the hour and the day.

The Prophet Daniel gives us the hour and the day of the 2nd Coming of Christ -- or at least, Daniel gives us the ability to calculate it.

Daniel predicts a prince of the revived Roman Empire would negotiate a peace settlement between Israel and 'the many' and that part of that settlement would include the restoration of Temple worship.

The peace agreement, according to Daniel, has a set term of one "week" (Heb - shabua) which is a week of Biblical 360-day years. Seven biblical years equals 2,520 days.

Daniel says that agreement will be broken when "the abomination that maketh desolate is set up." (Daniel 12:11) The Apostle Paul identifies the "abomination" as taking place when the antichrist, "as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." (2nd Thessalonians 2:4)
It is this claim of godhood that causes the Jews to reject him, which results in his tearing up the agreement, closing the Temple and launching his persecution of Jews.

So, let's quickly recap. Daniel 9:27 predicts a period of seven years time from the agreement that restores Temple worship to the 2nd Coming of Christ. Daniel also says that, from the time of the abomination of desolation until the 2nd Coming would total 1,260 days -- or exactly half of 2,520 days of Tribulation.

Since the event that begins the countdown is the antichrist's seating of himself on the Mercy Seat in the Temple, anybody will a Bible could mark that date and start counting down 1,260 days to His Second Coming.

Therefore, it seems entirely logical to deduce the following: The Tribulation Period (Daniel 9:27) lasts for 2,520 days, or seven Biblical years. It is divided into two parts, 1,260 days of Temple worship, and 1,260 days of persecution.

It concludes on the 2,520th day from the date of the peace deal on the plains of Megiddo at the Second Coming of Christ.

Since Daniel also predicted the precise date and hour in which Jesus Christ would ride into Jerusalem on the back of a colt and be received as King of the Jews, it is reasonable to expect the same kind of precision in Daniel's prediction of 1,260 days from the abomination to the 2nd Coming.

Therefore, the only secret coming is that of the Rapture, not His triumphant return as the Righteous Judge at the close of the Tribulation Period. A secret pre-Trib Rapture is the only event that cannot be calculated.

A mid-Trib Rapture can be calculated -- it is 1260 days after the peace deal. A post-Trib Rapture can be calculated, 2,520 days after the peace deal, or 1,260 days after the abomination.

A pre-Wrath Rapture, that is a Rapture that takes place at some point after the peace deal but before the abomination, makes the inclusion of the 2,520 and 1,260 day time frames superfluous and unnecessary, begging the question of why God included them in the first place.

But despite Jesus' stern warning that the timing of the Rapture cannot be calculated, I predict that within the next couple of weeks, somebody will be predicting the Rapture will occur on September 20, 2009 with the blowing of the last shofar (trumpet) at the end of the Jewish Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashana).

It is a safe enough prediction; it happens every single year at this time.

And it makes logical sense. The only major Jewish feast day for which there is no corresponding miracle performed during the Lord's earthly ministry is Rosh Hashana.

So many conclude that when the Rapture does come, it will come at the conclusion of Rosh Hashana.

For that reason, I am absolutely convinced that, of all the possible dates for the Rapture, it won't be Rosh Hashana, despite the twenty-page emails I am certain to receive shortly explaining somebody's exhaustive and comprehensive calculations.

Why? Because the same Jesus who said we couldn't calculate the Rapture also said any calculations that aremade will be wrong.

"Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." (Matthew 24:44)

(While it is gambit to dodge the question, the facts remain that Jack cannot answer and like most who want to side step the issue, His reason not to pick a Time Period that leaves open a 48 hour window Rosh Hashana and a 7 day window the Holy Days, leaves one asking....WHY SO AFRAID TO COMMENT?)

I would rather Warn Watch and Wait, then stand back and make fun of those who can prove we CAN know the times (years ) Seasons(Months) and Holy Days(week) and since the Rabbis solved the RoshChodesh Tradition of calling Feast of Trumpets, "the day no man knows the hour it begins" 

Of course.....that's just a coincidence.......    RIGHT.

Rosh Hashanah - Jewish New Year - This Week End

Happy New Year in the Fall?

The first of the Jewish High Holy Days that were listed in Leviticus, Rosh Hashanah, commonly called the Jewish New Year, is a joyous time of celebration and at the same time a season of reflection and solemnity. The blast of the shofar (ram's horn) calls us to humble ourselves and recognize our need for God's grace. This is apparent in some of the traditions associated with the festival. We greet one another by saying, "La shanah tova tikatevu," which means, "May your name be inscribed for a good year." The "inscribing" refers to the Book of Life, which according to Jewish tradition, closes ten days later.

We Jews for Jesus know that our names have been forever inscribed in the Lamb's Book of Life, written indelibly in his own blood. Nevertheless, we choose to look back and reflect and commemorate the closing of a year and the beginning of the next. We take part in traditions such as eating apples and honey for a "sweet new year."

But while some Jews believe in an annual day of accounting for one's actions, for us the blast of the shofar at Rosh Hashanah is not just a call to repentance, but a reminder of Jesus' return. "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Messiah will rise first" (1Thessalonians 4:16).

Jewish New Year Traditions

September 1, 1996
This is an archived article. It originally appeared on September 1, 1996. Some information may be outdated.

The Jewish calendar has different months and a different reckoning of time from the Roman (some people call it Christian) calendar. The first month of the Jewish calendar is Nisan, which usually corresponds to March/April. However, the New Year that is more widely celebrated is actually the first of the seventh month, known as Tishrei. Tishrei usually corresponds to September/October, and the first day of this month is called Rosh Hashanah (the head of the year).

It is customary for Jewish people to greet one another by saying, "La shanah tovatikatevu" (may your name be inscribed for a good year). A traditional blessing said at this time is known as the Shehechianu: "Blessed art Thou O Lord our God, King of the Universe who has kept us and sustained us and brought us to this season."

Another tradition at Rosh Hashanah is eating fruits and honey cake to symbolize the hopefulness for the year ahead. We also eat apples dipped in honey. The tradition of eating sweet foods is based on a biblical event from the time of Ezra. The people of Israel celebrated the first of the seventh month by reading the Scriptures together in Jerusalem. At the conclusion of the reading, the people were instructed, "Go your way, eat of the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10). God is pleased with new beginnings, and He wants us to celebrate and enjoy His goodness, past, present and future.

It is customary to send New Year's greeting cards at this season, wishing friends and family health and strength for the coming year. People generally send such cards from a week ahead of Rosh Hashanah until a week or so after. If it is not too late, you might want to pick up a few New Year's greeting cards to send to your Jewish friends. They will appreciate your thinking of them during this special time of year, just as you appreciate their thoughtfulness in sending you Christmas greetings.

Shofar by Jean Zeller

May 1, 1980
This is an archived article. It originally appeared on May 1, 1980. Some information may be outdated.

To those who haven't heard it, the blast of the shofar is hard to describe in terms other than "primitive," "harsh," a "bellowing or trumpeting," and it awakens in the hearer a primitive awareness of a reality beyond himself. It speaks with a commanding, demanding sound. Not a note to comfort, it creates an uneasiness, an attention in the depths of being. In a day long past, when communication was limited to what was heard face-to-face, the sound of the shofar was the call to arms, the alarm for any disaster, the signal to assemble for community business, the solemn announcement of an excommunication. It calls up the remembrance of Sinai when the sound issued from a thick cloud and the people trembled. The shofar accompanied the solemn, seven-day procession of the sacred Ark around Jericho as the terror-stricken inhabitants saw their city walls crumble to dust in the echo of its blast. And such a sound will announce the time of the Great Day of the Lord.

The use of the shofar is now reserved for sacred occasions. Only the horns of animals fit for sacrifice are used. It was and still is usually made from the horn of a wild goat or ram, cleaned by boiling, softened by heat and oil until it is possible to shape into a straight or curved form. The mouthpiece must be formed from the tip of the horn, but precious metal might ornament it: gold for Rosh Hashanah; silver for fast days. It's much polished, scraped thin to lighten it, and occasionally inscribed with geometric designs or scripture.

Characteristically, the shofar is associated with Rosh Hashanah, the first of Tishri, the beginning of the year, a time spoken of in Leviticus 23:24 as a "memorial of blowing." Its use is extended by custom through the preceding month Elul when it concludes the Morning Service. It's also heard at the conclusion of Yom Kippur and is authorized for use on other festivals and fasts.

To hear the sound at Rosh Hashanah is counted as a commandment and the second blessing is a thanksgiving for causing the hearer to reach the time when the commandment can be fulfilled. The sound is intended to awaken the hearer to teshuvah (repentance), and to lead him to make peace with his fellow man and with God. The basic mitzvah of hearing nine sounds (arrived at by interpretation from Leviticus 25:9) is expanded by custom into 100, the order of them within the service being defined by local usage.

The musical interval indicated as proper for sounding the shofar is a fifth, and the instrument is unable to produce more than three or four varied tones. The rhythm of the prescribed sound varies from the simple blast called tekiah to the staccato teruah, the galloping shevarim, to the long, wailing tekiah gadolah.

What does the shofar say to us, beyond its use to fulfill commandment, ritual and custom? Like the shofar, we are hollow, empty of meaning until filled by the breath of God. Like the shofar, we speak with no real voice until more than created, we are re-created from outside ourselves, born from above. By God's Spirit in us we become His voice. Alive with His Word, we can sound forth the call to repentance. His Spirit, resident in us, speaks faithfully both to those who will hear and those who do not want to hear, calling us to consider what and who we are before God. The sound of the shofar is not the Word of the Lord, but who can hear and not listen for the Word to speak from within?

Hearing the Sound of the Shofar by Joshua Moss

September 1, 1993
This is an archived article. It originally appeared on September 1, 1993. Some information may be outdated.

The ritual most frequently associated with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year (in most English translations of the Bible called the Feast of Trumpets*), is the sounding of theshofar (ram's horn) in the synagogue. By Jewish tradition, a person who has not listened to the shofar has not observed the day. Hearing the shofar means obedience to one of God's 248 positive commandments to Israel found in the Pentateuch, or Torah. Rabbis have said that the mitzvah (commandment) is not fulfilled by merely hearing the shofar, as if by accident, but that the hearer must listen with the specific kavanah (intention) of fulfilling the biblical commandment. To enhance this observance of Rosh Hashanah, various rabbis have suggested kavanot, or ideas implied in the sounding of the shofar, upon which to focus.
The biblical command to hear the shofar is expressed in Numbers 29:1:
"And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work, For you it is a day of blowing the trumpets [shofarim]."
The word "trumpets" does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied. Nor does the wordshofar ever appear in the Hebrew text of the Torah in connection with the holiday Jewish people call Rosh Hashanah. In the passage quoted above, the holiday is simply called Yom T'ruah, a day of blowing. However, it means more than simply "blowing" a trumpet or ram's horn.
Three basic trumpet calls are sounded in the synagogue during the Rosh Hashanah service. The first is the simple t'kiyah, one long, sustained blast. In ancient Israel, the t'kiyah was a reassuring sound. It signalled that the watchmen guarding the city were on duty and all was well. That sound periodically divided up the watches of the day and night.

The second trumpet call sounded on the shofar consists of three successive blasts calledshevarim. In ancient times shevarim signalled some significant event—the changing of the guard, the arrival of an important person such as a king, or a call to assemble and hear welcome news. The sound of shevarim was less routine than the t'kiyah, but it was welcome because it meant good tidings.

The third trumpet call, however—the one mentioned in the Bible in reference to the Feast of Trumpets—is the sound of alarm. It consists of nine rapid bursts on the shofar, referred to as t'ruah. The sound of the t'ruah alerted Israel that they were under attack and that all the fighting men were needed to draw together immediately for battle. The t'ruah might also be sounded for some other calamity that required the immediate and urgent convocation of all the people. Thus in most of the Bible texts where t'ruah appears, the word is translated "alarm." A simpler, better translation of the Hebrew phrase Yom T'ruah, usually rendered "Feast of Trumpets," would be "Day of Alarm." It has the advantage of being a very literal translation, and it also communicates more of the flavor and intent of the holiday.

To use the Bible's own terms, then, Rosh Hashanah is the Day of Alarm. The question arises: Why should Israel be alarmed? The summer harvest season had ended. The barns were full of grain and the storehouses were filled with fruit. What more could be wanted or needed?

The Torah (Pentateuch) gives the answer:
"When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you. Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest—when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them…and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage…then you say in your heart, "My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth." And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. Then it shall be, if you…forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods…I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish…because you would not be obedient to the voice of the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 8:10-1417-20)."
By instituting the fall festivals consisting of the Day of Alarm, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Booths (forsaking of secure homes to live in flimsy huts), God taught Israel an important lesson: With God on her side, she need not fear earthly calamities or earthly enemies. Likewise, she must not seek security in earthly things but in her relationship with Him.

Rosh Hashanah (Yom T'ruah) was a preparation for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It was intended to turn minds away from the secular affairs of the summer season to focus on spiritual issues: God's holiness, the people's sin and the atonement God had provided.

Ancient Israel needed to be periodically alarmed—by the awareness of sin that separated her from God, and by her need for atonement. In the synagogue today the shofar sound oft'ruah should still alarm people. It should still register as the sound of an alert that points to the danger of remaining in sin without atonement. The Hebrew Bible says, "Your iniquites have separated you from your God" and "The soul who sins shall die" (Isaiah 59:2Ezekiel 18:4).

For us Jewish believers in Y'shua the kavanah, or central theme upon hearing the shofar, is joy in the knowledge that we have already allowed the seriousness of our sins to alarm us; we have heard and received the good news—that God has atoned for sin, and that He delivers us from calamity through the sacrifice of our righteous Messiah.

*In the Bible this holiday is never called Rosh Hashanah (the New Year). It falls on the first day of the seventh month as Moses reckoned time. Biblically, the Jewish religious year began in spring, in the month of Nisan (the Passover season).

David BricknerGetting Tested for Rosh Hashanah by David Brickner

Don't worry, Rosh Hashanah is not a new disease; it's the Jewish New Year, which begins tonight at sundown. A traditional greeting at this season is "L'shanah tovah," which means, "To a good year." We eat apples and honey, honey cakes and sweets, all to wish each other a sweet New Year. Yet, Rosh Hashanah actually signals the beginning of a time of testing-spiritual testing, that is.

The blast of the shofar (ram's horn) associated with this holy day calls us to a period of eight days of introspection and self-examination known as "the Days of Awe." This time of reflection and repentance is to prepare us for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. At this season we test ourselves to see where we stand in our spiritual lives. We must examine our hearts to see if we are truly living for God as we should. If we discover sin in our lives (not too hard of a hunt for me) we need to repent of that sin and turn towards the Lord, seeking forgiveness and restoration.

But we can also find ourselves being tested by God in this season. His reasons for tests are not always clear to us right away. Testing is a fact of life. From the womb to the tomb we endure various kinds of tests. For some, life seems to be a constant test. Many wish for the time of testing and stress to be over for good. But God intends His testing to be a blessing that strengthens our faith and draws us closer to Him. God knows how to design a test that goes straight to the heart of a matter to accomplish His exact purposes.
Throughout Scriptures we see that God tested His people. Look at Abraham. It is traditional at this time of year for Jewish people to read "the Akeda" which means the binding of Isaac. Take encouragement from the fact that not only did Abraham endure the test (willingness to give up his only son), but as a result of passing that test, he received the precious promises of God, ". . . because you have done this thing,.blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore. . ." (Gen.22:16b-17)
Today we all benefit from Abraham's faithfulness, faithfulness in the midst of great testing. The binding of Isaac was a prefiguring of Y'shua's (Jesus') passion and suffering, as well as of His death and resurrection. It was predicted concerning the Messiah that God would test him in this way: "Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer." (Isaiah 53:10) We can only imagine the struggles Jesus endured, knowing what lay before Him. He told His disciples in advance of the emotional toll this test was having on Him. ". . . My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. . ." (Mark 14:34)
Our Messiah Y'shua endured a horrific test on our behalf. But because He endured and passed this terrible test, we who trust in Him stand forgiven and cleansed of all our sin. We have a hope that will never fade, a confidence of our eternal life with Him in glory. Our Day of Atonement came about when we trusted Messiah Jesus to be our Redeemer and Savior from sin. Now we can come before Him with the assurance of His grace each and every day of our lives.
Still, it doesn't hurt to pause to reflect and test our hearts. Perhaps this season is a good time to do just that. Our confidence in God's forgiveness doesn't preclude us from being tested, and it may be that some are enduring difficult trials even now. The good news is that God promises to be with us and to help us endure, even as He helped Abraham and our Messiah Jesus to endure. As with Abraham and Y'shua, we can be sure that our testing is intended to produce good things: "You know that the testing of your faith produces patience." (James 1:3) Knowing that God intends only good things for us, we are also instructed to "test ourselves to see if we are in the faith. . . " (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Lamentations tells us, "Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD." (Lamentations 3:40) Are you being tested this Rosh Hashanah? Don't fear the test or try to avoid it. Instead, look for the blessing and find out what God intends to do through the test in your life. That kind of trust will help to make for a sweet New Year. L'Shanah Tovah!

Author Portrait

Resolutions That Guard Your Heart by Susan Perlman

We don't always know how the resolutions we make may one day guard our hearts—or even our bodies—as I discovered at the "Israel in the Garden" celebration in San Francisco.
It is amazing how many ways people can make their displeasure known when you are handing out gospel tracts in public, and after some 30 years of experience I thought I had seen or heard it all. But I was wrong…

A bit of background: every year Jewish people from around the Bay Area come to a fair to celebrate Israel's independence. It is a time to visit artisans' booths, eat falafel, listen to Israeli music, hear speakers and basically revel in one's Jewishness. Approximately 12,000 people, mostly Jewish, came to the Israel fair this year. I was happy to be there along with all of the missionaries from our San Francisco branch to hand out broadsides and to witness. Now admittedly, many were less than overjoyed to see us, and some made comments that I can't repeat. But there are always some who are seeking, and we are there for them. Several gave us their names and contact information, but I want to tell you about one who didn't.

A man wearing a kippah had brought his dog—his very large dog of approximately 70-80 pounds. He (the man) gave me one of those "if looks could kill" stares and then, pointing at me, he commanded his canine companion, "Get her!" The dog looked at him, then looked at me and stood as still as a statue. I smiled and said, "Dogs like me. He is not going to attack."

You see, although I am a committed urban dweller whose only pet has ever been a goldfish, I resolved something a long time ago. While I would never own a dog, I decided that I would like dogs and always be kind to them. So while there's never been a Fido, Spot or Lassie in the Perlman family, I believe that dogs can sense my resolve. They don't bother me, chase me, snarl at me or bite me. Resolutions—at least this one—have kept me in good stead. How about you?

Okay, so my resolution may be a bit of a "shaggy dog" story. But I do have something to say about resolutions. That is, if we don't resolve to do certain things or act in certain ways on the basis of belonging to Y'shua, we will be more vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy, as well as much further away from becoming the people that God wants us to be.

Most people make resolutions to mark the solar New Year. But I propose that, as Jewish believers, we think about Rosh Hashanah resolutions that can be meaningful to us, our families, the community of Jewish believers and the larger body of Messiah. I've put together a list of such resolutions in the form of promises to Y'shua. I'm prayerfully considering one or two of these for my own life in the coming year. Maybe one or two will resonate with you for the Jewish New Year, as well, and you'll pray about making them your own.
  1. I resolve to put You first, Y'shua, to order my life in a way that says I want to please and honor You in all that I do.
  2. I need and desire to grow in my faith and my love for others; I recognize that this is best achieved by studying the Word of God, praying and witnessing. I therefore resolve to make these three things my priorities.
  3. I resolve to make my home a place where Your Word is reflected and given a place of true honor. And I will, together with my spouse, instill in my children the importance of trusting in You as well as maintaining our Jewish identity.
  4. I resolve to show my family the love and concern that You have graciously shown to me. This means I will do whatever I can to maintain relationships with unbelieving Jewish family members even if they shun my approaches. I resolve to persist in prayer and to take whatever opportunity You provide to make Your messiahship an unavoidable issue for them to consider.
  5. I resolve to be at peace, as much as is possible, with all in the Jewish believing community. I resolve not to be a party to ungodly dissension, but to respect views that differ from my own in matters such as forms of worship and what constitutes Jewish lifestyle.
  6. I resolve to speak up if I hear the Scripture compromised. I want to affirm its utter truthfulness, authority and power to accomplish Your purposes.
  7. I resolve to affirm what You have joined together as Your Body, showing respect to all who are part of our circle of faith in the family of God, be they Jews or Gentiles. I pledge to uphold brothers and sisters whose culture differs from mine, remembering that, though our traditions may not be the same, we are one in Your Spirit.
  8. I resolve that Israel is my homeland, and wherever I live in the diaspora, I will always look to Israel as a spiritual place. I resolve to uphold my brothers and sisters in Israel; praying for the peace of Jerusalem, sharing my funds and my energy that our homeland might be strengthened as a place of safety for all Jews everywhere, whether or not they share my faith in You
  9. I resolve faithfully to make You known to others—to speak out when it is easier to be silent, to stand up when I can hide in a crowd, to do my best to communicate my love for You in such a way that Jews and Gentiles alike know You. In particular, it is my desire that my Jewish relatives and friends who have not heard the gospel, hear it from my lips in this year so that their names, too, might be inscribed in the Book of Life.
Perhaps you will either adopt one or more of these Rosh Hashanah resolutions—or else use the Days of Awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to formulate and reflect on your own resolutions. We need godly resolve to face whatever joys and sorrows this next year holds.

Resolutions that honor Y'shua help to guard our hearts because they determine how we will act in unexpected circumstances. Sometimes we find ourselves in challenging situations where we might be tempted to react in a negative way. Resolutions enable us to respond in godly ways, according to decisions we've already made and asked God to support.

Of course, resolutions won't do us much good unless we take time to measure how we're doing. To that end, it's good to let someone else know about your resolutions. They can help you to rejoice where you are succeeding and to pray with you for God's help where you're struggling—and gratefully receive God's forgiveness and restoration for the rest.

Hetty Siebens

Life finding Christ-

How can I break this down....

I grew up knowing nothing. In a town-that if anyone knew anything about Jesus-they sure were quiet. Only time I ever heard a thing about this "Guy" (aside from His name in vane in my family) was that show Jesus of Nazareth. I was about seven...and clueless...but it sure drew tears.

Kept living life...I was an epileptic my whole life. As a child I was a gymnast-a competitor...and in my heart...I would talk to "someone" just didn't know who. Had dreams-talking to "someone" about them...not sure who...

My parents marriage got so rocky as they lived for money and their names to be high up in the town we lived in..President of this and that...that of coarse led to women wanting my dad for material reasons...and he folded. And with my dad cheating on my mom started a whole new relationship between her and I...I was basically her counselor. She and I were always close. But she needed someone to confide in...and she did it with me, the daughter of both the parents. Which I didn''t think hurt then...but sure affected me later.

When I was 18-we had made our 4th move in last two yrs of my high school yrs. I was in New Bern, NC. I was insane there...was not the place for me. Some southern drawl I didn't understand...then people lectured me on this weird church stuff...not where I come from!! We don't have to do this church stuff-I'd tell em.....while I was there, I met my 1st husband-lengthier marriage by God-not by choice. We just jumped into marriage knowing each other 3mos. He was a marine. We wound up moving to California (probably half the reason I married him) 
But we had fuzzy feelings. 
Then when we got there in Cali-this is all 1996-he decided to press this Jesus stuff He had never spoken to me about-ever. At first I rejected it hard!!! Almost left him even...but then something tugged me. 
Half the reason was-everyone at my work, when I'd go to them asking them to back me up for me to leave him, couldn't-they were total Jesus Freaks! :) 
So on the side, I was learning from a friend a little...and started to go to my husbands church...but it wasn't but about a month into my attempt in my walking to learn more-that he cheated on me. After what I lived thru with my parents as a child...I had no forgiveness...nor did I have Jesus in my life yet-so didn't have it thru Him either...I was out of there...began 1 of my several move outs and to another state from him. 
We filed 3 times, 4th was our final in 2006. 
But God still has reasons for everything-during our breakups he showed me that I wasn't to be with other people-literally BIG signs of rolling my car three times, only breaking my marriage finger. Flat tires the night one was going to propose. He always is there...even when we aren't looking for Him.
My husband then, and I tried one last time-after another big break up-to patch it up. He had feelings that I owed him-even though we both were so equal in hurting the other...finally got to a point his temper was just too much-and we discussed it-he said he couldn't handle being with me anymore and was seeing someone else...I was all okay...at least he told me...almost before. 
So we decided to go out-eat dinner-drink a bottle of wine (which was the first time I ever did with him) and talk about who gets what. We were laughing about it all in the end-back at our apartment...which lead to the married couple's last time....except even that night something felt and showed me-it was going to be more than that last night...

Within 5 days I found out that was the night that got me pregnant.
 He was so angry-wanted to abort it. I-not into Jesus-still felt it was a gift from God. 
We somehow stuck it out.
 But my seizures got worse...and it thru his schooling off. He didn't have time to take care of me...and when I had our baby Tory-he couldn't take care of us both...so Tory and I went back to AZ where my family was-to find a good neurologist. There I was set to go thru my first brain surgery, and my husband had joined the Army so we could have the insurance for it. I made it thru that-no seizures!!! We had to move to TX, where he was stationed. 4 days after...he beat me with our baby asleep. 
Thank God for the Army...they kicked him out...took pics and records..I thought I was loosing my mind though...I was so lonely. 
I had nobody there. 
My family would not believe me-they can't deal with stress...so I had to pretend he lived there and we were happy and I wasn't abused. When with my neurologist I had to tell him what was going on to watch my seizures...and also this new problem that came in...overdosing with Phenobarbital-antiseizure med-to numb pain. I was so alone-listened to sad sad music, bawling with whatever amount of the pills and soda. 
Tears were uncountable. 
Finally...visiting a friend in Austin..we hit the ER 2 times...then they suggested I stay with them that night...but I said I felt soo much better-when I could in reality, barely say those words. I got into my car...blared my sad Matchbox twenty song "Hand me Down" stopped at a Jack in the Box for a BIG Dr. Pepper...then aggressively took off...on repeat..on the 35...bawling-saw the rest of the bottle of my pills...while crying about how hopeless life is..picked it up and slid every last one that wasn't in me already, in me...downing with that Dr. Pepper...dropping 7...that upset me...took little time to realize...that if I didn't see an ER or H sign asap I wouldn't be around...somehow God provided that...somehow...and ripped my car over all these curbs into it. 
Going thru my first stomach pump. 
My parents were called by the family friend that I had seen and jumped on the first flight to come get Tory and I...there was God's hands at work there....
They were upset..but so loving. 
It was from that point on it was battle time.
 I didn't have them as the mom and dad I could talk about the beating with...upset them too much. Couldn't talk about my new addiction when I'd get upset and stressed over this divorce-he left Tory and I with nothing. I couldn't hold a job with my addiction issues...I found my church one day-when I was blasted...God called to me with that purple sign that said Cornerstone. 
I knew that was the only way I'd find hope. I started going...every Sunday...but I swear he always spoke directly at me...convicted me of so much! 
God answered so many little and big prayers in that tiny walk...beginning of learning...but I was still in a battle...wound up overdosing in June of 2003-more battle on line with my ex who was in Iraq-(gift from God to separate us that far-even though that was tough) 
The docs tried to change my medication-I really wanted Phenobarb out of my life-took about 12 days..at home reading to my 2 yr old on my lap on the floor...HUGE grand mal seizure...threw up everywhere...was out for 3 hrs-bonked my head on the tile. 
When I woke my baby was still standing there-2 1/2 hrs past her bed time-bawling her eyes out-pointing at me-saying mama mama ...ugh!! talk about tears...I barely could talk...
It took several more times after being put back on it...and one final time-in October of 2003-that I almost lost my life to...that Jesus saved me from death...heard tiny prayers...saw the little walk I was trying to walk...He needed to have me have more than a wake up call...

Just following is when the love of my life-Christian-was shocked and amazed...over that yr...I as this new Christian on fire for Jesus...got him who grew up with Christ...ON FIRE!! 
And we dated the way God wanted us to! 
As my divorce was still going thru...God had that take time...and I look and see why now...it took about 4 yrs for me to really forgive my ex for beating me. 
It hurt me so bad emotionally...caused so much anguish-with seizures and overdosing...but with that overdosing...I have to look back and thank Jesus for it all...for I found Him...and it led me to going thru a second brain surgery-that was amazing!!! 
Following Him...in prayer-the second one was almost painless...which was a SHOCK-cause it was so much more complicated than the first!! The day after I got out...I was at Bible study!! AMEN!!!! I didn't get out of the house the first one for about a month!
With this walk came forgiveness...and when I felt God tug on me to do that....and I did forgive my ex for all he did to me-while also apologizing for what I also put him thru...God made me feel so awesome inside...like He gives you a new heart. 
And mine on fire for Him!
 Did it have aching times, yes. seizing a month after my second brain surgery hurt...but He has reasons for everything. I have been on a health struggle since 2000...and worsened since 2005. If I went down my list-you'd wonder how I still type! hahaha!! But the cool thing is...is that-no matter how many times I go to the hospital, and for what...He is there, holding me the whole time...

I have numerous health issues if anyone ever wants to talk-I am open-
We are now looking into 3rd brain surgery...God has amazing reasons for everything...even when it is a battle with health. 
It somehow is a light-not only in my life, but in others too. I am able to share His awesome love and Word thru these struggles and how awesome He works thru them! 
Never would regret a moment of it...

Blessings to you...

Hetty Siebens

2 Corinthians 12: 8-9Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, "My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me.

1 Peter 5: 6-7So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in His good time He will honor you. Give ALL your worries and cares to God, for He cares about what happens to you!

Hamas and Hezbollah: Islamic Brainwashers Awaiting a Millstone ~ Koinonia Institute

Hamas and Hezbollah:

Islamic Brainwashers Awaiting a Millstone

by Dan Stolebarger, Executive Director of Koinonia Institute

Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should of-fend one of these little ones.” 
Luke 17:1-2
Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 18:10
Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Matthew 18:6
Years back, Bob Dylan wrote that The Times They Were A’ Changin’, and no truer words could be spoken today. The question is, at least for the Church, are we awake enough to notice or have we slept through and are no more than the proverbial “frog in the kettle” that is now boiling over?

Friends, if you haven’t noticed, we are in a war with a religion that is now the fastest-growing religion in our world today, out-pacing Christianity by a 4 to 1 margin and, in less than twenty years (if the trends continue), will be the world’s largest religion! Did you know that statistically today one in five of the people you meet are Muslim?

So, you ask, “What’s the big deal?” Did you know that if it were possible to craft a religion that was 100% opposite of Christianity there would be none more perfect than Islam? Western man is under the delusion that with time, effort, patience and reason, he can resolve differences and work together to find a middle ground that will lead to peace. That strategy has failed and will continue to fail because it isimpossible to find a middle ground with a movement that is so diametrically opposed to the tenets and values of our Judeo-Christian values and beliefs.

Before getting to my chief subject, let me divert for a second to encourage you to do your own study in regards to Islamic eschatology. Just keep in mind the “opposite” factor.

After a recent diet of Ergun Caner, Walid Shoebat and Joel Richardson, I have been slapped across the face and had freezing water thrown at me. I have opened my eyes and have just begun to see my adversary clearly. All followers of Islam today are waiting with fervent anticipation the coming of the Mahdi and, yes, following his appearance will be the return of Jesus Christ.

But when you “peel the onion,” so to speak, you realize that the Islamic Jesus is not our Jesus—in fact, the Mahdi and Islamic Jesus look exactly like the two figures whom we encounter in the book of Revelation who go by the titles “AntiChrist” and “False Prophet.”

I urge you to do your homework; this is all happening before our very eyes! We need to remove the sleep from our eyes and WAKE UP to what is going on—this is not an event that will happen in the future, it is happening now! (For a good beginning, check out Joel Richardson’s book, AntiChrist – Islam’s Awaited Messiah, Walid Shoebat’s Islam in Prophecy, and Er-gun Caner’s work, Unmasking Islam.)
One of the clearest contrasts between Islam and Judeo-Christianity is that one is a religion of life and the other death. For the Christian we have the admonition …

I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, love the LORD your God, obey Him, and remain faithful to Him. For He is your life, and He will prolong your life in the land the LORD swore to give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” 
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 
For the Muslim …
4:74 Let those of you who are willing to trade the life of this world for the life to come, fight [q-t-l] in God’s way. To anyone who fights [q-t-l] in God’s way, whether killed [q-t-l] or victorious, We shall give a great reward. (Haleem)
[A] martyr’s privileges are guaranteed by Allah. Forgiveness with the first gush of his blood, he will be shown his seat in paradise; he will be decorated with the jewels of belief; married off to the beautiful ones; protected from the test in the grave; assured security in the day of judgment; crowned with the crown of dignity, a ruby of which is better than this whole world and its entire content, wedded to seventy-two of the pure Houris (beautiful women of Paradise) and his intercession on the behalf of seventy of his relatives will be accepted.
I know it may be a trivial side issue, but have you noticed the trend of the “skull” that has invaded our culture and fashion? I noticed it a few years back, but it didn’t really hit me until I saw skulls with smiley faces on them and it really put me over the edge when I saw them prominently displayed on babyclothes. Our culture is being subtly manipulated into this atmosphere of death, which is a total Muslim preoccupation!

As sick as that is, really take the time to let it sink in. We need to be aware of the tactics of our enemy when it comes to shaping and manipulation. It has been said that if you repeat a lie long enough, it will eventually become truth to the listener. And we all know that if you want to overthrow a gov-ernment, the work begins not amongst the elderly but amongst the youth—and the younger the better!

No one practices this truth better that both the Hamas and Hezbollah. As the folio manager of the Israel sector in our new Issachar Data Base (for more information on the IDB go to www.studycenter.com), I have included video downloads show-ing an Islamic version of Mickey Mouse spreading the honor of dying in Jihad, as well as a Hamas kindergarten graduation that has five-year-old boys coming out in camouflage fatigues with toy machine-guns and the Hamas green headbands with the words “In the Name of Allah” inscribed across their fore-heads. And at the end of the graduation, they proclaim their allegiance to Allah while offering themselves as suicide jihadists to kill the Jews. Palestinian children today are fed nothing but lies and their textbooks are filled with anti-Semitic propaganda, the latest being a history book depicting a world without Israel.

Examples: Palestinian children are taught, through both formal and informal education, to see a world in which the state of “Palestine” exists and replaces all of Israel. A children’s quiz which was broadcast this week on Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority television shows how thoroughly Palestinian children have absorbed this message.

Children on the TV program routinely identified every Israeli city and landmark as part of the State of “Palestine.” Haifa, Ashdod and Eilat are described as Palestinian ports, the Sea of Galilee is said to be a Palestinian lake, and the area of the Palestinian state is said to be 27,000 square kilometers.
In fact, the total area of Gaza and the West Bank totals 6,200 square kilometers, so the only way to come up with the larger measurement is to include undisputed Israeli territory in the calculation.

The “State of Palestine” is said to border Lebanon and the Red Sea; in fact, these are Israel’s borders.
In an unsettling reminder of the 2007 Hamas children’s TV program that used a Mickey Mouse character to preach hatred and world Islamic domination, the child host of this week’s PATV (Fatah) program is sitting in front of a photo of Mickey Mouse.

“I am learning how to fight the Jews and kill Jewish children,” said 11-year-old Muhammad, one of dozens of children who have undergone terrorist training in the last few days in Gaza.

“I would rather die fighting the occupation than die at home from a missile, which is what happened to hundreds of Palestinian children,” said Muhammad.
The training of child killers is part of a larger step-up in military training that various terrorist groups in Gaza claim to be a response to the threat of a wide-scale Israeli operation in the area.
Again, I have to stress that this is happening today! The question is, “What can we do about it?” The time has come for the followers of Jesus to return to authenticity and the purity of the Word of God. We need to equip ourselves for this war and use the weapons given us to fight the enemy. In the book of Ephesians we are told to put on the whole armor of God. Have you done this?

RISE UP, O MAN OF GOD! The battle is now before us…it is now time to activate our weapons and put them to use. It is time to make ourselves available for the fight—just remember to enter this war equipped!

And although we may not be able to destroy the Hamas Summer Camps in Gaza or the preschools supported and funded by the Hezbollah, we can take comfort in knowing the power and effectiveness of our weaponry:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6
In conclusion, I’ve often wondered and grieved over the fate of children who have been brainwashed. I imagine the tears of God when these brainwashed jihadists appear before the Throne and I am reminded of the above passages. Can you imagine the size of the millstone that awaits the Islamic caliphs and ayatollahs?
Please remember to PRAY for this battle every day; for it is no longer on our horizon … we are in it


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