Apostates and Heretics

TruthHateSpeech

By: Bruce R Porter, D.Div.

In our times, any discussion related to apostasy and heresy is often met with dismissive eye-rolling derision. “How arcane and mean-spirited!” some will say. “Why can’t we all just be nice and get along with everybody? Besides, it’s just not loving to make people upset or uncomfortable just because they don’t see things the same way as you do.”

I could wholeheartedly agree if we lived in a universe where truth and falsehood are simply inconsequential curiosities. This is not the case, however. There is overwhelming evidence that truth and lies, good and evil, right and wrong are actual realities, and carry serious consequences.

Sometimes the consequences are minor, such as someone lying to us about driving directions, or their real age, or how much they paid for something. In other situations, like people who lie to us about financial investments, or a doctor with fake credentials performing surgery on us or our child, etc., consequences can be very serious.

Perhaps the greatest damage people endure is the harm done by those who give us misleading or false information relating to our immortal souls. Those who subscribe to the false idea that it doesn’t matter what you believe about God or His word as long as you are “sincere” about what you believe would find the company of men like the apostle Paul, or Jude, or Peter, (or name your favorite Early Church Father) very awkward and uncomfortable. These guys took accuracy and veritas very seriously indeed!

From the earliest years of its existence, the church has struggled with heresies promoted by false brethren (apostates) as described by Jude, verse 4. Even in our day, some of these “wolves in sheep’s clothing” can be found preaching every Sunday from our nation’s pulpits!

For certain men have crept in unnoticed,
who long ago were marked out
for this condemnation, ungodly men,
who turn the grace of our God into lewdness
and deny the only Lord God
and our Lord Jesus Christ.

I’m convinced that we live in an era of increasing apostasy and heresy. TheWOLFEN2 two terms are somewhat synonymous, but it will be helpful to distinguish them somewhat. Apostasy basically means a falling away from truth. Specifically, a Christian apostate may be understood as anyone who once professed a belief in the Truth of God and later rejected it. These can often be won back through a patient sharing of the Truth and prayer. Apostasy at its core is rebellion against God because it is a rebellion against Truth—particularly orthodox biblical Truth. (I am purposely capitalizing “Truth” to emphasize absolute reality as revealed by God through His holy bible.)

While most people tend to over-simplify an apostate as someone who once believed in God and then became an atheist, this is not a complete picture of what happened in church history or is now happening in our times. Apostates today are departing from long-standing orthodoxy and introducing heresies (false teachings) into the church that are damaging or destroying the faith and testimony of many of Christ’s flock. The earliest church records reveal that nearly all the early church leadership were involved in theological battles with those who were seeking to harm the faith and witness of people.

For there must also be factions among you,
in order that those who are approved
may have become evident among you.

1 Cor. 11:19

There have been a multitude of heresies rolled out over the centuries. Identifying heresy is painfully difficult because it often depends upon who is pointing the finger. Also, heresy often disguises itself as orthodoxy. Heretics often operate like a chameleon, blending into the background—a shape-shifter—that appears on the surface as a cutting-edge teacher of “fresh revelation” or “deeper insight” into the Christian faith. However, in nearly every case, they are only rolling out a repackaged version 2.0.1 of the same old heresies and curve-ball deceptions as dealt with by the earliest church leaders.

Champaigne,_Philippe_de_-_Saint_Augustin_-_1645-1650From the earliest days of the church, heresies, like fireballs from siege machines, have been hurled at the defensive walls of Christianity. The war rages to this day. The problem with most heretical teachings is they often seem true, until carefully scrutinized under the searchlight of holy scripture and learned scholarship. The only way we can hope to discern truth from falsehood is by prayer and diligent study of the scriptures, along with a grasp of church history, a working knowledge of systematic theology, and the writings of reliable church fathers all the way back to the New Testament itself. If we lack–for whatever reason–these exegetical tools in our personal discernment toolboxes, we would be wise if we seek out and give heed to those who do possess these skills.

Sadly in our times, spiritual discernment is often considered mean-spirited and ungracious, and those who exercise it are marginalized and considered “killjoys” or “that guy” behind their backs. Certainly, there are those who are so obsessed about error that they cannot appreciate what is good. This is the ditch off the side of the road we might call “hyper-critical.” However, I suspect it is less harmful than the ditch on the other side of the road I would term as “hyper-naiveté.”

Paul and the other apostles, as well as the early church Fathers, had their hands full as they dealt with the emerging heresies of their own times, and we can easily read of their struggles. I list here just a few of the false teachings they wrestled against, with a short comment revealing the major errors they promote. See if you can recognize any that are being served up under new labels in our times.

Arianism – Taught that Jesus was a created being, like an angel, and therefore was not co-equal and eternally existent with the Father. Some Arians also taught that the Holy Spirit was created by Jesus.

Docetism – Is the belief that Jesus’ physical body was only an illusion, and only seemed to be a physical body. As an incorporeal spirit, Jesus could not physically die, so his crucifixion and resurrection were only an illusion.

Gnosticism – Teaches the dualism of equally powerful good and evil and the need for “secret knowledge” to understand it. According to the Gnostics, matter is evil, deliverance from material form was attainable only through “special” knowledge revealed by special Gnostic teachers. Christ was the divine redeemer who descended from the spiritual realm to reveal the knowledge necessary for this redemption.

Marcionism – An O.T. “evil God” and a N.T.“good God.” Only 11 books in the Canon

Pelagianism – Man is personally unaffected by Adam’s fall and able by his “free will” to keep God’s laws. Therefore, man is entirely responsible to believe and save himself.

Semi-Pelagianism – Man’s free will and God’s grace cooperate to save men. No matter how much God gives grace, man has the veto and if saved, has the responsibility to “stay saved.”

More recently, we are witnessing the emergence of ver. 2.1.0 upgraded heresies such as “Open Theism.” According to Theopedia; “Open theism, also called “free will theism” and “openness theology,” is the belief that God does not exercise meticulous control of the universe but leaves it “open” for humans to make significant choices (free will) that impact their relationships with God and others. A corollary of this is that God has not predetermined the future. Open Theists further believe that this would imply that God does not know the future exhaustively. Proponents affirm that God is omniscient, but deny that this means that God knows everything that will happen.”

This belief system denies one of the orthodox and long-accepted cardinal attributes of God, such as His omniscience, or God’s complete knowledge of all things past, present, and future. It teaches that God is somehow “learning” new things as men exercise their “free will.” This has been repeatedly condemned by church councils over the centuries as a heretical teaching.

head-in-the-sandMany theologically uneducated Christians in our times—including many preachers unfortunately—cavalierly dismiss the importance of understanding and being aware of heresies, and we often hear Christians say things like, “What difference does it make? Why be so negative? As long as you’re sincere and love Jesus, that’s all that matters!” To be sure, our brethren in previous centuries took these theological errors very seriously, and labored long hours in prayer, study, and in learned councils to discern between truth and error. They knew the critical importance of holding to Truth in a world bent on deception.

Another prominent heresy arising in our times is the “Emergent Church” movement. This cult advocates a radical departure from orthodox belief and fidelity to scripture in favor of a spirituality based in “practices” and “spiritual formation.” They advocate a superior mystical “knowledge” over scripture, as touted by one of their leaders, Brian McLaren, in his book, A Generous Orthodoxy. They downplay objective biblical Truth in favor of “experiences” with God in contemplative prayer. They minimize the place of Jesus Christ as the “only way, truth, and life.” In the name of grace and open-mindedness, many of the Emergents embrace homosexuality, giving young people the false idea that they can somehow indulge in sexual lust and still regard themselves as Christians. Material or physical behaviors are downplayed while “spiritual formation” is celebrated. Can anyone say; Gnosticism?

The next time someone appeals for “unity over Truth,” or “kindness over godly reproof,” or “tolerance over biblical accuracy,” perk up your ears and raise your discernment antennae. You’re about to enter a town called “Deception” where shadows and “grey areas” obscure the bright light of Truth; where people eschew disagreements and controversies in favor of undisturbed harmony and peace. It’s a rapidly growing town populated by those who have chosen the broad and easy road, far off the narrow beaten path. It’s a place just beyond the small town of “Discernment” found only in a special place called;

Twilight Zone

The Columbine Dream

By; Bruce R. Porter, D.Div.
I awoke suddenly from a fitful sleep thrashing in my bed and gasping for air, with deep guttural cries escaping my lips. Bolting upright, heart pounding, I noticed that my body was drenched in a cold sweat. My dream was so real and terrifying that I shook uncontrollably. My wife, startled by my cries, called out in the darkened bedroom, “Honey what’s wrong!?”

Unable to speak at first, I glanced at the clock radio on my bed-stand. It was nearly 2 AM on January 20, 1999, and I knew I was experiencing something that went way beyond a mere nightmare. Such experiences in my life don’t happen too often, but the special sense of reality that accompanies such dreams have taught me to pay careful attention to them. As I tried to calm myself, the images of the dream seemed to superimpose themselves upon the darkness of my bedroom like ghostly apparitions.

Finding my voice at last, I said to my wife, “They were killing, no, slaughtering young people!” I blurted out. “Even a few of the kids were killing themselves!” In my mind’s eye, I could still see the terrified faces of teenagers, bloody and crying. I could also hear the staccato sounds of what seemed to be gunfire and muffled explosions. In the background, there was a piercing noise, like a smoke-detector screeching.

“It was horrible! So real!” I sobbed. She coached me to remember as much as I could. In the dream, I was in some sort of a library. All around me were teenagers, and some of them were sitting together talking, others reading, and although I didn’t realize it until later, we were obviously in a school building.

Suddenly, several of the students began bleeding, and they began to cry, scream, and run in all directions. I saw what looked like a red, smoky light or fire following behind them as they ran, and some of them fell down. There were explosions and noises that sounded like firecrackers. The terror on the faces of the students was palpable.

The scene shifted, and I was then standing outside a building. A door burst open, and I saw a long line of young people running in a very peculiar way. They ran one behind the other, holding their heads with their hands, screaming and crying. Their faces seemed twisted and distorted, with panic in their eyes. Some had blood on their bodies, and I remember thinking, why would anyone run in such a strange way? Men in black shouted and screamed at the young people who were running, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying.

The spectacle was chaotic, and off to the side I saw red flashing lights as the percussion of firecrackers continued. Then, I heard a loud voice say several times, “rescue 911!” Those words echoed in my mind over and over as I awoke from the dream. Thankfully, my wife wrote it in her journal the next morning and dated it.

I became obsessed over the dream. I had a gnawing sense of dread that something terrible was about to happen, but I simply didn’t know where or when. I spent hours on my computer with a graphics program trying to put images onscreen that might help me discover what the dream meant. I shared it with a few trusted friends, but no one could make out exactly what it meant.
I was pastoring a growing church in Littleton, Colorado at the time, and my days were full. Over the next three months, the dream began to fade into the background of my mind, but I often thought about it. Little things would trigger a memory, like seeing a group of youths dressed in black trench-coats and Goth makeup. “What’s up with those kids?” I asked myself. I felt my attention strangely drawn to them but didn’t know why.

Then, on a quiet morning in April, my home office phone rang. It was a member of my church, and she was frantic. “They’re killing the kids!” she yelled. “Turn on the TV! Someone is shooting up Columbine High School!” I dropped the phone and ran to the TV, as fast as I could. The first live images were streaming in, and bodies could be seen on the ground outside the school. The announcer was describing a school shooting by unknown assailants. As I watched in amazement, another call came. One of our church families couldn’t make contact with or find their daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, and wanted us to come. As I hung up, I looked up at the TV and saw a door open outside the school library. A line of students suddenly ran out the door holding their hands on their heads as police SWAT teams directed them to safety. “That looks strangely familiar,” I remember thinking.

Jumping into the car, we drove to a school near Columbine H.S. where parents and family were gathering. Busloads of terrified students were coming in from Columbine to reunite with their anxious parents. Spotting Rachel’s family, we rushed over to them, hugging and tearfully praying with them. As buses came and went, the crowd thinned until at last, there stood only a dozen or so terrified families in near panic. Rachel didn’t get off the last bus. A Sheriff’s department counselor called me aside and softly whispered. “Pastor, a student said she saw Rachel. We think she’s deceased.” I was asked not to tell the family until a positive identification could be made, I felt a crushing weight on my heart.

Later at Rachel’s family home, Rachel’s brother Craig told me of his own near-death experience in the school library as two of his friends were killed next to him. The details were gruesome. In the end, twelve students and a teacher were murdered, with twenty-three others wounded. The next morning we learned that 17-year-old Rachel was in heaven.
That morning, my wife brought her journal and showed her notes about my dream. Dated precisely three months to the day before the Columbine massacre, I sat in stunned silence as the dream came crashing back into my mind. Everything fell into place and I realized that the deja-vu I experienced all the day before was no coincidence. Virtually every detail in the dream matched what occurred at Columbine. The dream foretold it all.

I spoke of Rachel’s Christian testimony in my eulogy, and how she’d carried a bright torch of her love for Jesus. I asked the huge audience; “Who will pick up the bloodstained torch Rachel carried? It fell from her hand, but who will take it up again?” To my amazement, nearly everyone present rose and held up their arm as if holding that torch. Her funeral was broadcast internationally by CNN, and we heard reports of people around the world who stood up and did the same.

I’ve often wondered… Did God give that dream as a way of preparing us? Was there a larger message and purpose to this tragedy that transcends natural understanding? We can only speculate, but Rachel’s story has impacted millions of people around the world, and I’m still carrying her torch.

mt_handstorch

The Hand-Print on the Wall

By: Bruce R Porter, D.Div.

Scanning the empty classroom, my gaze fell upon a small hand-print on the wall just below the sill of a shattered window. It was small, belonging to a child of perhaps only 7 or 8 years old. Broken glass crunched as I stepped nearer to examine it more closely. It reminded me of the artwork little children often create with finger-paint and proudly sign with a crayon.

This was not an art project to display on a refrigerator however. It also didn’t bear a crayon signature, or even a “smiley face” sticker. It was printed in the life-blood of a wounded child while desperately trying to escape the monsters who invaded the child’s school.

Beslan School is located in southern Russia. On the first day of each school year, it is a custom for students, their parents, grandparents, and siblings, to gather for a special day of celebration. Dressed in their best clothes, students bring flowers and gifts for their teachers. On that fateful day of September 1st, 2004, Beslan’s festive occasion was cut short. At 8:45 am, fifty Islamic terrorists stormed into the school’s courtyard in full battle dress, armed to the teeth with military-grade weapons, and captured over 1,100 people within 15 minutes. The hostages were herded into the school’s gymnasium, and held for three days without food or water. Many of the hostages desperately resorted to drinking their own urine. The jihadists tortured and humiliated the captives, even raping many of the young girls right in front of their horrified classmates and parents.

Around 1 pm on the third day, some of the bombs planted throughout the school began detonating. Panicked hostages began jumping out of windows and rushed the exit doors to escape. The jihadists opened fire on the hostages with automatic weapons, and tossed grenades among them. Russian special forces rushed the building to save as many hostages as possible. After a room to room battle, hundreds of people lay dead or horribly wounded. In the end, nearly 600 perished.

When the news broke in America, I knew I had to respond. Over the years, I’d served in my local fire department as a firefighter and Critical Incident Stress Debriefer. I also served at the Columbine High School attack and Ground Zero in New York after 9/11. I believed I could help, and made plans to fly to Russia. This wasn’t easy, for Beslan was nearly closed to foreigners. I kept pushing for visas for my small response team. Miraculously, visas were granted, flights booked, and funds poured in to cover our expenses.

Six days later, we landed late at night at Beslan’s only airport. The next morning, we visited the school ruins. Amazingly, the authorities opened the buildings to anyone to see what the terrorists had done. Family and friends wandered the scorched corridors and classrooms of the buildings wailing and moaning. It was a house of horrors beyond our worst nightmares. In the gymnasium, thousands of open water bottles and flowers were displayed. The water commemorated the fact that the victims were deprived of water during their ordeal. The walls and ceilings of every hallway and classroom were splattered with blood, clinging bits of human flesh, shrapnel, and bullet-holes. Weeping, I stepped past pools of blood and debris, praying God would give me wisdom to help this broken community.

Our team visited hospitals to give small gifts, stuffed animals, and offer what encouragement we could to survivors. It was heartbreaking to see little kids suffering from bullet-wounds, and shrapnel. The vacant stares of little girls and young women who endured the most cruel and brutal abuse haunted me for months. Most physical wounds would eventually heal, but emotional scars can last a lifetime. A nurse remarked that we were the first American visitors, and it was the first time most of the children had smiled or laughed.

I met with Dr. Federov, Director of the children’s hospital in nearby Vladikavkaz. His eyes filled with tears as he described the first desperate hours when hundreds of injured children began arriving in private cars and trucks because there were only a few ambulances. They hurriedly set up a tent to triage the flood of wounded. He choked-up as he described having to use garden hoses to wash blood off the children so their wounds could be assessed. Later, a nurse wept and told me how they had to stack bodies up in the hallways because the morgue was overflowing. With each encounter, we sought to encourage, pray with, and share funds with families from donors in America.

We visited one of the families who survived the attack. They lost their 5-year-old son, Mark. We rode in a car with several bullet-holes. The terrorists shot at the father trying to escape the school with three other children huddled in the back seat. The mother, however, and two of their sons were captured.

While they were held in the gym, she saw little Mark put his hands together, bow his head, and pray. When asked what he was doing, he replied that he was praying for the terrorists so they would come to know Jesus like their family did. She was shocked at his simple, childlike faith. When pandemonium broke out at the end, little Mark was struck in the head by shrapnel from a nearby bomb and died in his mother’s arms. She didn’t want to leave him, but her older son shouted over the mayhem and explosions, “Mom! Mark’s with Jesus now, but we have to get out of here!” She gently kissed her little boy’s face one last time, leaped up, and they ran to safety.

I wept as I beheld in her face a heavenly serenity and peace. She said, “I have forgiven these terrible men, as I know my Markie did in his heart. He prayed for them, and I pray for their souls now.” Such a display of God’s peace in the soul of this mother was inspirational beyond words.

At the new cemetery on the edge of town, we laid a wreath and tried to comfort mourners. Walking among the fresh graves, I saw that whole families were often buried together. Flowers and cards covered the fresh mounds of dirt. I was moved to see thousands of packages with flowers and a letter from the State of Israel laid upon each grave. No other nation did the same. Who could empathize more with the pain of these brokenhearted people than the Jews, who have suffered such undeserved, evil hatred for centuries?

Looking back, I struggle sometimes wondering if our small team made any difference in the face of such a disaster. Hopefully, the hundreds of hand-written cards we gave out from Christian school students, and the stuffed animals and small packages of Columbine flowers assuaged, in some small measure, their grief. Only eternity will tell. I remain inspired by the example little Markie left us to pray for those ensnared in the matrix of evil and hate. I’m also haunted by a disturbing question. Will there be more bloody hand-prints on school walls, perhaps right here in America? I suspect we have a lot of praying to do.

Jihadists: Are America’s Schools on their Kill List?

israeli condolencesSeptember, 2014
By Bruce R. Porter, D.Div.
On September 1, 2004, Islamic terrorists infiltrated from Chechnya and attacked a school in Beslan, Russia. Over several days of hell-on-earth, they mercilessly slaughtered hundreds of students, teachers, and parents. Although there have been other attacks on schools in various places around the world—most notoriously the attack at Columbine High School in 1999—this attack stands out, not only for the vicious brutality meted out by the Islamic Jihadists, but by the sheer number of children who were murdered there. Estimates of the dead ranged between 300 to over 600. It was, without any doubt, the deadliest attack on a school in modern history.

No decent person could ever comprehend how these Allah-praising Jihadists could justify their wholesale slaughter of children. We are constantly being lectured by our government officials and leftist pundits in the news media that Islam is a “religion of peace,” yet all around the world we see ample evidence that the exact opposite is true. While it is true that not all Muslims are terrorists, it is just as true that nearly every act of terrorism in recent decades has been carried out by Muslims.

Beslan Middle School #1 had students from the first to the eleventh grades. On the morning of September 1st, the first day of school in Russia, over a thousand students, teachers, parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles were gathered in the large courtyard of the school complex. It is a custom in Russia to celebrate the first day of school with students dressing in their best clothes, accompanied by their parents and siblings, and bringing small gifts and flowers to their teachers.

At 8:45 A.M. several vehicles transporting nearly three-dozen Islamists burst into the school parking lot. The terrorists jumped out, armed to the teeth with automatic weapons, grenades, night-vision goggles, gas masks, high-explosives, and silenced weapons. They joined other terrorists who were already mingling with the crowd, and began shooting and herding terrified hostages into the school gymnasium. A few security officers, armed only with sidearms, were quickly gunned-down, and anyone who showed the slightest willingness to fight back was mowed down in the first seconds. Mayhem erupted, as several hundred people ran away under gunfire while more than 60% of the others were captured and driven into the school’s gymnasium to endure several days of thirst, hunger, and unspeakable abuse by the Allah-praising terrorists.

Once the hostages were secured in the gym, the Jihadists rigged explosive charges throughout the school. The captive men and older boys, who could potentially fight back, were lined up in front of their terrified wives and children and summarily executed with bullets to the head. Their bodies were shoved out of shattered windows and lay in a heap in full sight of their horrified families. Many of the women and young girls were humiliated and raped in front of the hostages. There are no words in the human language to describe what these evil beasts did to these young women. The hostages languished in the school’s gymnasium in the sweltering heat of late summer, with no water, food, or sanitation facilities for three days. Some of the hostages were so desperately thirsty, they drank their own urine. When the rescue assault by Russian forces finally began, the terrorists began detonating the explosives placed near the hostages and shooting as many of the children as they could. The carnage was indescribable.

My son and I traveled to Beslan with another international relief worker to help minister to the survivors, arriving one week after Russian special forces stormed the school. We walked into the burned and blasted shell of the school buildings a few days after the siege was over. What I witnessed in those ruins was off-scale grisly. The walls were pock-marked with bullet and shrapnel impacts. Walls were blackened by fire and smoke. The worst thing of all, however, were the splattered clumps of human remains from bomb blasts pasted on the walls and ceiling. Large pools of putrefying human blood was everywhere, and splattered upon the walls. I spotted what looked like a small wig, and when I moved it, I shrank back in horror and revulsion. It was a child’s skull-cap with bits of brain stuck to it. I feel sick just recalling the sights and smells of that terrible place.

When I hear someone speak of Islam as a “religion of peace” I feel like gagging. I have seen with my own eyes what this evil and pathetic excuse for a religion does to innocent people. I have no illusions. For nearly two weeks my son and I visited the local hospitals where hundreds of victims, mostly children, were recovering from burns, gunshots, and shrapnel wounds. Most of them would eventually heal of their physical wounds. However, they all seemed to have a hollow, distant stare that betrayed that their young eyes had seen things no person should ever see. I especially noticed several young girls in the hospital who were, I was told later, sexually abused by the terrorists. Their minds and souls were deeply wounded, and I wonder if they would ever find healing.

Why am I telling all this? Why would I invite you, the reader, into some of the dark horror-chambers of my mind and memories, subjecting you even to a small portion of the horrors these people endured? It is simply this…

I believe it is going to happen again… right here in America, and I want with all my heart to awaken as many as possible to the clear and present danger we are facing. Perhaps, if enough of us wake up in time, we can mitigate the damage and save lives.

As I was thinking about this tenth anniversary of the Beslan massacre a few days ago, I suddenly felt a strong impression come over me. I am a man of God, and there have been several times in my life when such impressions came upon me and I later witnessed the events unfold just as I had seen. For example, exactly three months before the Columbine High School massacre in my own community, I had a horrifying dream/vision of a school attack with many vivid details. I awoke in the middle of the night screaming and drenched with sweat. The images were so real, and yet I had no way of putting together what I’d seen with present reality. Three months later, to the very day, I watched the Columbine attack unfold just as I’d seen it in my dream. I wrote in detail of this in my book, The Martyrs’ Torch, The Message of the Columbine Massacre.

This is what I believe was shown to me. Islamic Jihadists, quite likely elements of ISIS, (who have already infiltrated our southern border by several hundreds) are about to launch a coordinated attack on several schools in America. I realize I’m taking a tremendous risk in sharing this, for many men’s reputations and credibility have died upon hills of prophetic predictions that never occurred. I fervently hope I’m wrong. However, I cannot remain silent. Lives are at stake. I also don’t think it requires a prophetic vision to see the writing on the wall. The danger is, for anyone paying attention, all too obvious.

Why would they attack our school children? Think about it. Can anyone imagine a more emotionally devastating “soft target” than our children? If you were an Islamic jihadist seeking to maximize the psychological damage to your enemy, where would you strike? The answer is clear.

Little Syrian Girl Beheaded by Islamists

As horrible as the pictures are of little Iraqi children being beheaded, with their heads displayed upon poles, just imagine for a moment how the people of the United States would react if such atrocities happened during a hostage situation in our nation’s schools on an internet upload? GOD FORBID IT! However, we are supremely naïve if we think that our enemies haven’t already thought of this.

What can be done? I wish I could be optimistic, but I cannot. As things presently stand, our children are sitting ducks in their schools. The federal government has seemingly abandoned their constitutionally-mandated responsibility to protect the American people and secure our borders. Thousands of unknown persons are flooding daily across our southern border, and latest reports are that a significant percentage of them are Islamic Jihadists. They’re not coming to visit Disneyland or work as farmhands. They’re coming to hurt us in significant ways and manipulate our national will toward their goals of global domination and the establishment of sharia (Islamic) law.

In most of our nation’s schools, the insanity of “political correctness” drives policies related to school security. Tangible and effective measures, such as training and arming teachers to defend their students, are dismissed out of hand by those who foolishly and naively imagine that putting up “gun free zone” signs on the schoolhouse door will somehow deter a terrorist seeking to kill students. These silly liberals actually seem to think a terrorist would read such an idiotic sign and obediently leave their firearms outside, perhaps employing other means of murder like grenades, pipe bombs, or nerve gas. I cannot think of words to sufficiently mock such nonsensical thinking.

“Lock-down” procedures only insure the formation of target-rich environments with children cloistered and concentrated in places easily breached by well-armed and trained assailants. In other words, we MUST rethink the entire concept of school safety and be done with nonsensical “zero-tolerance” policies that penalize students for bringing a pair of fingernail clippers or a plastic knife in their lunch-pails. The real threat is not a psychotic over-medicated student, but well-trained Jihadists armed with military-grade weaponry and motivated by hate and a desire to die for their god Allah.

As I’ve said before, the Beslan attack revealed a complete lack of compassion toward children by Islamic Jihadists. I personally visited scores of kids in the children’s hospital in Vladikavkaz near Beslan who were deliberately shot by terrorists in their school. Some were as young as six years old. Can anyone imagine that such inhuman monsters would regard American kids with greater compassion? I seriously doubt it, in fact, I think they are going to deliberately attack our schools to maximize their terror impact.

We must face the reality that Islamic Jihadists have no qualms about killing children. This is amply demonstrated by the fact that they will place weapons and missile launchers in the midst of schools and hospitals (as in the case recently in Gaza) knowing full-well that any military retaliation by the Israelis to destroy these weapons will likely result in civilian casualties, including children. In the aftermath, the Jihadists parade through the streets in front of cameras with dead or wounded children in order to maximize the psychological impact in the West. If they really cared about these children, they wouldn’t deliberately place their missile launchers in schoolyards in the first place. More than this, in the case of Israel, they target Israeli schools and kindergartens with their missiles instead of military targets.

In May of 1974, three Islamic terrorists attacked a school in Ma’alot, Israel. They took 115 people hostage, including 105 students, and held them for two days. When Israeli Golani Brigade soldiers stormed the building, the terrorists tossed grenades and shot the hostages, killing 25 (22 children) and wounding 68. In the aftermath, Israel formed a special Counter Terrorism Unit called Yamam. In addition, a national policy of arming teachers and posting armed guards at all Israeli schools was implemented. In the 40 years since this policy was in place, nearly all terrorist attacks on schoolchildren have ceased.

What can be done? How can we reduce the risk to our schools? I would make the following suggestions:

1. Parents and grandparents of school children must organize and come up with specific security policies to present to school administrators on the State, District, and Local levels;

2. Such parent groups must DEMAND that armed guards be placed in and around the schools, comprised of well-vetted (background checked) military veterans, retired police, FBI and other officers, who would receive extensive training specific to school environments, taking into consideration “shoot/no-shoot” scenarios, and threat assessment;

3. Schools should immediately implement EVACUATION procedures instead of “hide in place” policies that place students and teachers into indefensible target-rich “lock-downs.”

4. Teachers who are vetted and are willing to receive training should be allowed to carry concealed weapons. Their identities (as to who is armed) must be closely guarded for obvious reasons and known only by Principals and Law Enforcement;

5. “Student Watch” patrols should be instituted with vetted upper-grade students trained to spot persons or activities that seem out of place or pose a potential risk. These could be valuable “eyes and ears” to guards and administrators as a first-alert system.;

6. Until these policies are implemented, schools districts should DEMAND more police protection with active-duty officers on-site. Sound expensive? Sure, but what price can be put on the life on one student or teacher? We expect armed guards in our banks to protect our money. Why not at least as much protection for something infinitely more valuable than our money—the lives of our children?

Can we reliably prevent all attacks from ever occurring? I think this is an impossibility, given the nature of violent Jihadists and present at-risk environment. However, the primary benefit of these measures would be manifold:

First, such policies would serve as a real deterrent to most school attacks. Second, parents and students would have a greater sense of security, knowing that REAL and PRACTICAL measures have been taken to ensure their security, and not just silly “violence-free”, or “gun-free zone” signs. For those who are philosophically or politically opposed to the presence of weapons on school grounds, I would only point out that when violent incidents or active-shooter scenarios have occurred in the past, the very FIRST persons they call to help are GOOD PEOPLE WITH GUNS. No “gun free” advocate would ever rush over to an active-shooter scene with more “gun free zone” signs. Let’s be done with silly, ineffective, and politically correct banalities.

WE MUST ACT NOW. I pray I’m wrong, and I fear that it will take more tragedies to awaken our people to this real and present danger. I must speak out and remain hopeful. The lives of our schoolchildren are at stake.

The Culture War for Young Minds and Hearts

Play

April 15, 2013

Recently I spoke at Veritas Christian School at their annual fundraising event. My message, while pointed and factual, sought to shine a light on the serious importance of a Christian education in the midst of a culture that seems entirely committed to eradicating all expressions of Christian faith and the establishing of a socialist/Humanist secular state in America.

My Roman Wakeup Call–Pt 4
The Stones Indeed Cry Out
A few days later, I visited Vatican City and St. Peter’s Basilica and beheld for the first time the incredibly beautiful sculptures and paintings resident there. Especially striking was Michelangelo’s Pieta, depicting Mary, the mother of Jesus, tenderly holding His lifeless body after His crucifixion. 
 
There, in the quiet expanse of St. Peter’s Basilica, I stood transfixed in the presence of pure artistic genius. The Pieta, sculpted by Michelangelo when he was only in his early twenties, was commissioned in 1498 and unveiled in St. Peter’s Basilica in 1500.  
 
With his hammer and chisel Michelangelo had patiently liberated from the cold marble the sorrowful beauty and tender expression of love on Mary’s face as she gazes lovingly upon her slain son. The beauty of this sculpture is breathtaking, in that it captures the timeless, universal mourning of all mothers who yearn over their children. Michelangelo once said that his sculpting merely liberated the image already present within the stone. I marvel at Michelangelo’s ability to envision such amazing beauty within a mere slab of marble. My hard, prideful heart began to break as I gazed long upon this splendid work of art. 

 

Of all the art that touched my soul, however, the crowning moment came when I strode into the Sistine Chapel and beheld the exquisite paintings Michelangelo had rendered upon its ceiling. His labors recounted virtually the entire biblical story of mankind from the creation to Christ. As I examined the various panels, one in particular stood out to me. It was the famous depiction of God reaching out his hand to Adam and tenderly touching him with the gift of life. 
 
This masterfully rendered painting struck a deep chord in my soul, and I felt as if a large piece of the puzzle was coming together. Adam is lying naked on an immovable rock, seemingly helpless, with a tentatively raised arm reaching toward God. Adam’s hand is virtually limp, as if without strength, and there seems to be no real effort expended on his part to go to God. It seemed to me that God is making the greater effort. Carried by angels, God is moving toward Adam, straining and stretching out to reach him. 
 
Then it struck me. Was God also reaching out to me? Was He also coming near to my helpless, prideful, arrogant soul? Was He moving upon my heart and drawing my rebellious and unwilling hand toward Him in hope, freely bestowing His gift of life into my tormented heart? This was a difficult concept to grasp, for I felt so unworthy. For the previous years of my life, I had indulged myself in the grossest expressions of sin, giving free expression to my flesh in wanton selfishness. “How could God have any interest in me?” I thought. “And why would He extend mercy to one who has rejected and ignored Him for so long?”  
 
The Master Sculptor Begins To Liberate ME 
 
Over the next period of weeks, my heart began to soften. Rome’s rich Christian history was making a huge impact upon my hardened heart. God’s voice was beginning to penetrate my mind, and capture my attention. When I think back on this, it was as if the angels of God were whispering over my shoulder, directing my attention to higher things. The depiction of Isaiah in the Sistine Chapel almost reminds me of it. 
 
My personal conversion was not an instant transformation but rather a gradual one. Old habits, attitudes, and thought patterns clung to me. Fleshly gravity-like a black hole in space that sucks everything around it into eternal darkness-constantly pulled at my soul. All self efforts to improve and reform myself-like old New Year’s resolutions-ended in failure. Like the childhood storybook character, Brer Rabbit, who vainly fought to free himself from the tar-baby, the more I struggled to be free from my sin, the more entangled I became. My pride wouldn’t allow me to cry out for someone to rescue me, yet an undeniable hunger for more understanding of this amazing God who was clearly reaching out to me began to haunt my every waking hour.  
 
The classic poem by Francis Thompson, The Hound of Heaven, was as applicable to me as it apparently was to the poet himself. 
 
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;  
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;  
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways  
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears  
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.  
Up vistaed hopes I sped;  
And shot, precipitated,  
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,  
From those strong feet that followed, followed after . . .  
 
Was I an archetype of helpless Adam in Michelangelo’s painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? Had God so loved and chosen me, one so unworthy among the many billions of His creations, that He moved Heaven and earth to find me? Was He also intent upon meeting me in my naked shame with feebly upraised arm? My heart told me it was so, but my mind rebelled and refused to believe it. Like one of Michelangelo’s unfinished sculpted images, trapped within the stone, I was trapped within my own sin, selfishness, and pride. Yet it seemed, God was patiently, gently, and skillfully chipping away the dross to reveal the man He created me to be. 
 
Should you ever stand close enough to me during a quiet moment, and listen with a spiritual ear, you may yet hear the soft sound of hammer and chisel as the Heavenly Master Sculptor continues His patient work of liberating me from the stone. He isn’t finished yet, as anyone who knows me well will tell you, but He has promised to never cease His patient labor until He finishes the work He began. 
 
And so it is with us all. If you also heard His voice calling your heart, you can be confident that He is patiently chipping away your dross and conforming you to the image of Christ. He sees a masterpiece within the stone of your life, and will never cease His work until you are fully liberated into the glorious freedom of the Sons of God. 
 
And we know that in all things  
God works for the good of those who love Him, 
who have been called according to His purpose.  
For those God foreknew He also predestined  
to be conformed to the likeness of His Son,  
that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.  
And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, 
He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.  
What, then, shall we say in response to this?  
If God is for us, who can be against us?  
(Romans 8:28-31 NIV)  

(To Be Continued…) 

My Wakeup Call–Pt 3
Whispering Ghosts of the Past

I was mystified a few days before to hear a tour guide describe the suffering and persecution of multiplied thousands of Christians who had been cruelly hunted down and slaughtered in this city merely for the pleasure of bloodthirsty mobs. I found myself deeply moved when I heard these stories. Now, alone in the darkness late at night there in the Coliseum ruins, I could almost imagine I could hear the long-dead ghosts of the distant past, and the deafening impassioned roar of the blood-thirsty spectators as entire Christian families below were eviscerated, burned alive, or torn to pieces by hunger-crazed wild beasts. What was this growing sense of empathy that I felt for these Christians who had lived and bravely died so long ago? 
 
I pondered why these people would seemingly welcome a cruel and vicious death rather than deny their faith in Jesus. What empowerment could possibly enable fathers and mothers to witness their little children burned, drowned, or devoured by vicious animals right in front of their eyes before they themselves died, all the while worshipping God and singing His praises?
 
I have since learned that the Roman authorities would have allowed any of these Christians to go free had they only made a simple acknowledgement of allegiance to Caesar as supreme authority over all other gods. The Christian had only to place a tiny pinch of incense before an image of Caesar to affirm his preeminence. Most Christians refused to make this blasphemous declaration, instead boldly proclaiming that Jesus was King of all kings and Lord of all lords. Caesar, who fancied himself a god, took a very dim view of anyone daring to declare that he was somehow under the authority of what he thought was an insignificant dead Jew from Palestine. 
 
I was forced to conclude that those early Christians had SEEN something so wonderful, so magnificent and amazing, that all else in this world, even their very lives, lost significance by comparison. What was this mystical revelation that motivated them to sing praises unto their Christ, even as they suffered and died? What gave them the fearless ability to lay down their lives rather than deny their faith in Christ? My emotions were stirred. I suspected that God was touching my life and calling me to a journey I could scarcely imagine. Little did I realize that my quest had already begun . . . . 
 
These questions hung over me like a rain cloud as I finally stumbled out of the Coliseum into the cool morning air. The eastern sky was beginning to lighten with the promise of a new dawn, and the birds began to chirp. Slowly making my way back through the quiet, early-morning streets of Rome to the cheap hotel where I was staying, the encounter in the Coliseum haunted me. But first, I had to sleep off another hangover. 
 
Persecution Above, Prayer Below 
Driven by a power I couldn’t understand, I spent the next several days touring other ancient sites around Rome, but felt especially drawn to the catacombs that surround the city. I recently found this quote from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs:  
 
It has been said that the lives of the early Christians consisted of: “Persecution above ground and prayer below ground.” Their lives are expressed by the Coliseum and the catacombs. Beneath Rome are the excavations, which we call the catacombs, which were at once temples and tombs. The early Church of Rome might well be called the Church of the Catacombs.  
 
I learned that archeologists had discovered some sixty catacombs surrounding Rome. The tunnels stretch out over six hundred miles, and measure in most places nearly eight feet high and three to five feet wide. Along the sides of these tunnels, several rows of horizontal recesses were dug out, stacked above each other like bunk beds. These comprised the crypts into which corpses were laid, with inscribed marble slabs or tiles sealing in the deceased. 
 
Mile after mile I wandered through this macabre graveyard, illuminated only by the guide’s flashlight or oil lamps. It was an eerie place, musty and cold. Looking into the crypts-where the marble slabs had been destroyed by grave robbers-I could see the bones of some of the dead. For many hundreds of years both Pagans and Christians were laid to rest in this place.  
When Christian graves were opened-evidenced to be Christian by inscriptions of

Icon of Christ raising Lazarus
(From 3rd Century Roman Catacomb)

crosses and the “fish” symbol-ample forensic evidence of torture and murder was often found. Heads were discovered severed from the bodies, and many bones were broken about the ribs, backs, and extremities. Calcined bones also showed evidence of fire.  

 
In spite of the evidence of horrendous suffering and persecution inflicted upon these poor Christian souls-of whom I now know the world was not worthy-the epitaphs inscribed upon the graves spoke of a sublime, heavenly peace. Here are a few that were discovered and quoted in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs: 
 
“Here lies Marcia, put to rest in a dream of peace.”  
“Lawrence to his sweetest son, borne away of angels.” 
“Victorious in peace and in Christ.”  
“Being called away, he went in peace.”  
 
Bear in mind that these tender expressions, inscribed lovingly by the hands of those who knew and loved them, reveal little of the intense suffering these precious saints endured at the hands of their tormentors, nor any indictment against their murderers.  
 
These inscriptions hold special significance to me in that I have seen these things with my own eyes. My hands have tenderly caressed the bones of some of these inspiring people. The musty smells of those holy underground hiding and burying places remain in the nostrils of my memory. For days, I wandered among the dead in those seemingly endless tunnels, listening to the whispering ghosts of those who had long ago lived and died there. With each step I took down the descending stairways-moving ever deeper into the labyrinth-my respect deepened in equal measure for the amazing commitment these people demonstrated for a Christ they would rather die for than deny. 
 
Often, as I reflect on the experience, I seemed to feel that unseen presence that I encountered in the Coliseum, walking with me through the labyrinths of the catacombs. In a way, it was similar to the ghost of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Story, where Scrooge was shown things from the past, present, and future–things that would eventually form the new man he was becoming. “Who were these Christians?” I kept asking myself. “Why were they so hated and viciously tormented by people in their day?” I soon learned that questions such as these can be dangerous to one’s selfish autonomy. 
 

 

(To Be Continued…) 

 

My Wakeup Call, Part II
  
After a year of military service in Vietnam, I was a man on the run. The vision I’d witnessed pushed me over the edge, and I became determined to desert, leave behind my country, my family, and everything in my past, to enter upon a quest to learn what my life was really about. Feigning that I intended to go on leave, I emptied all my accounts and began my trek by flying out of Vietnam to Bangkok. From there, I hopped flights to India, Pakistan, Lebanon, Turkey, and finally Europe. My goal was to find a liberal counterculture enclave I’d heard about called The University of the New World, located up in the mountains of Switzerland near Sion, in the Canton of Valais. The name “New World” seemed to offer hope that perhaps I could learn what the vision meant and find my place in this crazy world.
 
My heart and soul were shredded; I felt old beyond my years. My spirit yearned for answers to questions that seemed to have no answers. The terrible things I had witnessed in Vietnam superimposed their tormenting images as some kind of semitransparent film over everything I gazed upon. I felt as if my youthful innocence had been ripped away from me, like someone had violently torn off my clothes in the middle of an arctic winter, leaving me cold and shivering in the stark reality of a world seemingly gone mad. I had fallen into emotional shock. In this state, I could not contemplate the depths of my own brokenness and felt strangely disassociated from, and unattached to, all that went on around me.
 
After finally arriving in Switzerland, and a brief stay at the “University of the New World,” I quickly realized that the “University” was a sham–a party school-where rich, mostly American kids from liberal-Leftist families came to indulge their flesh in sex and drug parties every night. During the day in the “classes” I audited, they reveled in neo-Marxist fantasies about how the elite class must one day rule the world without morals, religion, or restraints upon our “natural” urges. In other words, a fantasy “utopian” paradise. My flesh was titillated, and I enjoyed a certain celebrity among them because of my pacifism, desertion, and stand against the Vietnam War. To be honest, I was rather proud of myself and liked living the persona of the brave counter-cultural revolutionary who stuck it to the “establishment.” After a few weeks, however, I became restless and frustrated at the aimless existence of everyone living there. It didn’t take a rocket-scientist to realize that these people were being funded by some of the very people they were revolting against. It just didn’t make sense. Besides, my personal demons were emerging, making me less and less popular among them. I was asking too many uncomfortable questions..
 
One night, I was talking with a girl at a party and trying to impress her by bragging about what a brave, courageous guy I was-standing up to war, injustice, the military-industrial complex-and blah, blah, blah. She grew visibly annoyed with my pride and arrogance, and interrupted my little “brag fest.” Looking me right in the eye, she said something that totally blew my mind. “Jesus never ran away,” she said. I sat there with my mouth hanging open, completely disarmed by her words. It was like being struck by lightning. She was anything but a Christian, and for a fleeting moment, seemed shocked by what had just come out of her own mouth. Getting up suddenly, she walked away leaving me staring at the floor in shame.
 
Looking back, I think I felt a bit like Balaam the prophet must have felt when his donkey suddenly spoke to him by the power of God, rebuking him. In that moment, I had another revelation and didn’t like it very much. I was flooded with the shameful realization that virtually everything I was doing in my life at that time–even the good things I thought were right–was coming from a totally prideful, selfish, conceited motive. “Jesus never ran away” stung my itching ears. I realized that I was a fearful coward, running away from what I considered wrong, and selfishly seeking my own aggrandizement in the eyes of others. Fear was dogging my tracks, and my entire motive was selfish. I felt dirty and ashamed. I had to escape, and the next morning I left and caught the first train out of Sion. For reasons I cannot explain, I was headed for Rome, hoping to find some answers there.
 
Can These Stones Yet Speak?
A chilly breeze wafted through the colonnades in the Coliseum, interrupting my reverie and pulling my mind back into the moment. I shuddered involuntarily as the cold slab of rock I’d been sitting on drained body heat. Rising unsteadily to my feet, I began to climb to the upper levels of the darkened ruins, my bottle of wine hanging loosely from my hand. I had vainly sought to drown my inner pain and raging thoughts within that bottle, but the tormenting visions of lost innocence would inevitably claw their way back into my consciousness. “What was it she said?” I mumbled to myself: “Jesus never ran away!” I couldn’t escape the unwittingly prophetic words of the girl in Switzerland. The comparison she made between Jesus and my selfishness was unbearable. My shame and cowardice became a heavy weight upon my soul. After wandering around Rome for several days, I was becoming restless and had a growing sense that someone was trying to communicate something important to my tormented soul through these ancient ruins, churches, and weathered monuments.
 
Gazing down from the stone stands that had long ago held multiplied thousands of cheering, blood-thirsty spectators; I began to ponder what spectacles had once filled this place. I tried to imagine fifty thousand crazed Roman citizens intoxicated by the violent entertainment of battles reenacted before them on the main floor of this stadium. The spectacle of gore and blood, provided by warring gladiators who reenacted historical battles and struggled unto death, drove the raving mobs into near-orgasmic apoplexy as their appetite for ever-greater displays of carnage grew with each new death. At one point in Roman history, the slaughter of Christians as public spectacles only added to their national insanity.
 
Suddenly, in the dark shadows of the Coliseum, I began to sense a powerful presence surrounding me. At first, I felt nothing but terror. However, after a few moments, the fear melted away and was replaced by a warm sense of security and peace. I trembled as I contemplated the possibility that God might be drawing near to me, even in my wretched and unworthy state. The vision back in Vietnam came thundering back into my mind. I was beginning to think that God had spoken to me that night in Vietnam and that He was somehow calling me into His army of light. Looking back, I now understand that He was beginning to cut the “control strings” of the enemy’s bondage in my life and draw me out of the kingdom of darkness, transferring me into the kingdom of His Son Jesus. The puzzle was beginning to come together…

(To Be Continued…) 

 

My Journey into Grace

 
June 22, 2012  
By: Dr. Bruce R. Porter

Dear Friends and Supporters, 

The following series of posts under the category of “My Journey into Grace” are excerpts from a book I am presently writing. I’m sharing the portions that deal directly with my personal journey into grace as a chosen follower of Jesus the Messiah. The impetus behind sharing these stories are two-fold. First, we were preparing for an important outreach to Italy in late July, 2012, and was part of an effort to raise financial support. Secondly, I thought that others might be encouraged and edified by my experiences in Rome as God mercifully drew me into His eternal family by His mercy and grace. Me, a wretched depraved sinner, and the most unlikely candidate for such love and grace. Perhaps others will find some commonality in my journey, and find the mercy I found.

 As I contemplate the history of Italy, it is amazing to consider that this once-powerful area of influence for the gospel of God’s grace has been reduced to such physical and spiritual ruins. It was 41 years ago this summer that I first visited Rome. The impact that had on my life was monumental. It was in Rome that God moved powerfully upon my heart and drew me into His marvelous grace. To be sure, I struggled and resisted, for my flesh and depraved heart blinded me, and I was walking in great deception. I want to share a powerful encounter I had with the Spirit of Grace in Rome. This is rather long, so I’m going to break it up into several installments. I hope it edifies you.

 

My Wakeup Call – Pt 1

 I want to share the story of my spiritual awakening. I call it an “awakening” because my former life now seems like a nightmare. More accurately, it was actually a personal resurrection from the dead, for I was dead in my trespasses and sin, alienated from God, and His enemy. Darkness and deception had taken hold on my soul, causing untold sorrow not only to myself but to all who interacted with me. By God’s mercy in Christ, I was called to life and approval before Him. I only hope that some of what I describe here will inspire and encourage you.
 
Coliseum Ruins: Rome, Italy, 1971
The gravel crunched noisily beneath my feet as I stumbled through the portals leading into the ancient Roman Coliseum. At nearly 2:00 A.M., the dark shadows formed by the massive structures of this marvel of human engineering were stark beneath the meager floodlights. Taking another long swig from the jug of cheap wine I had been nursing for several hours, I felt a momentary sense of all-too-familiar danger as my eyes scanned the shadows for the presence of a thief or mugger. I dismissed the thought immediately, however, drawing upon a sense of false bravado afforded partly by the wine. More than this however, I had recently come from a year of military service in Vietnam and was hardened by it, having faced death and danger for so long that it felt familiar.Plopping down on some flat stones in the darkness, I began to relax. Questions swarmed through my wine-numbed brain like buzzing bees. What was I doing in this ancient place? Why was I wandering around this city in the middle of the night, stalking the streets like a restless spirit seeking peace? How did I end up here?An Awesome Revelation
Several months earlier, while serving in Vietnam, a vision came to me that would change the entire course of my life. That vision, so overwhelming and compelling, caused me to temporarily abandon my military post and set me on a trek that would take me through Thailand, India, Pakistan, Lebanon, Turkey, Germany, Switzerland, and now finally Rome, Italy. I was searching for truth, stretching my mind and heart to the breaking point in a quest to make sense of what I had seen. One evening at Bien Hoa Air Base in South Vietnam, I had sat up on a tall water tower that afforded acommanding view of the countryside outside our base perimeter. On this night, while I was with some security buddies out on the perimeter, a supernatural revelation came to me that would steer my destiny for the remainder of my days. Our voices were hushed as we watched the incredibly beautiful sunset over the rice paddies and tropical landscape all around us. All eyes scanned the deepening gloom for the telltale flashes of 55mm rockets launched toward our base by the Viet Cong. When these nasty weapons fired off, we had mere seconds to sound the alarm so our guys could dive into bunkers for protection from the vicious shrapnel these things spit out in all directions, ripping flesh and bone. The most frustrating thing about these missiles was that by the time they launched, there was usually no one out there to shoot back at. The enemy used delayed fuses and were usually miles away when the attack occurred.
 

As the landscape grew darker, my mind began drifting. A question resurfaced that had continually nagged my thoughts for the previous months. “Who are these guys out there trying to kill us?” I knew them only as “gooks,” “the Cong,” and “commies.” On this night I could not help thinking about them as persons and wondered who they really were. This can be a dangerous way of thinking on a battlefield. To empathize with an enemy force trying to kill you can cost your life, and also the lives of others depending on you, if you hesitate to act in a critical moment. In spite of this, I couldn’t help asking the question inwardly. “Why are we all fighting?” Oh, I knew the importance of obeying orders, doing one’s duty, and even some of the political arguments, yet the question seemed somehow especially important to me at that moment. As I pondered this, a flash in the sky drew my attention upward. One of our troops had fired off a phosphorous night flare. The intensely bright light of the hissing flare, suspended by a parachute, illuminated the entire countryside with an eerie glow of phosphorescence, casting weird moving shadows on the ground as it descended. At that very moment, as I stared out across this ethereal landscape, a flash of understanding came over me. It is difficult to tell of it even now, for it shook me to the core.

Glancing back up into the sky, I had a vision of what I can only describe as ethereal, twisted, demonic beings. It was the stuff nightmares are made of, but I wasn’t sleeping. These creatures were flying through the air back and forth with what sounded like snarling laughter screaming from them. They seemed to be pulling strings of some sort, attached to points on the ground. Some of the strings were on our side, and some extended to the fields and valleys beyond our perimeter.

I was completely absorbed with this unearthly vision when a revelation crashed into my consciousness: These demonic beings were controlling people on earth! The strings I saw were like puppet strings, moving those attached to them on earth in ways that suited the hideous beings moving back and forth in the air above me. What amazed me was that there were strings extending down on our side of the perimeter as well as over on the “enemy” side. This was the first time in my life that I even considered the idea of “spiritual warfare.” Prior to that moment, I would have laughed at anyone who even suggested such a seemingly outrageous idea. However, the vision was so compelling, so overwhelming, that I nearly became unaware of my surroundings. I knew somehow in that moment that I was indeed called to be a warrior, but the battleground I was to stand upon was not exclusively the one on which men fought natural battles. 

 

(To Be Continued…)

 

Israel: The National Jewish Homeland

ISRAEL: The National Jewish Homeland

And the LORD said to Abram… 

“Lift your eyes now

and look from the place where you are;

northward, southward, eastward, and westward;

for all the land which you see I give to you

and your descendants forever.

And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth;

so that if a man could number the dust of the earth,

then your descendants also could be numbered.

Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width,

for I give it to you.”

(Gen 13:14-17 NKJV)

  

Islamic apologists (and a growing number of far-left pundits) are working overtime to slander Israel by accusing the Jews of “occupying” so-called “Palestinian” land. They make outrageous claims that Israelis are illegitimately building “settlements” on the “Palestinian national homeland.” There isn’t time here to go into the other contemptible accusations brought against the Jewish State by Islamic “authorities” who claim that Jews are killing and starving their children, raping their women, and “humiliating” them and their religion. All of this is bald-faced claptrap, but such radicals never seem deterred by the facts.

A strident chorus of anti-Israel voices has risen up in recent years that seek to delegitimize and slander the modern State of Israel. In academia, media, and now surprisingly, even in the highest levels of our present government, we are being barraged with disinformation and a modern form of a “Blood Libel” against the Jewish people and the re-established State of Israel.

The success among these hateful voices is impressive. We are witnessing the increasing isolation and demonization of the Jewish people unequaled since the haydays of the Nazi propaganda machine in the 1930s. Jews, and increasingly those who stand with them, are being subjected to threats and vicious slander in the public arena. In Europe, Jewish cemeteries and synagogues are being vandalized, and Jewish people are subjected to random acts of violence. This is even occurring sporadically here in the United States. Apparently, the evil genie of anti-Semitism, once thought vanquished in WW-II, has once again reared its ugly head and found willing ears and hearts to poison.

From my personal perspective as a bible-believer, I regard this ancient hatred as supernatural at its root. No other people in all the history of the world has incurred such vicious hatred and suffered unrelenting violence and genocidal assaults as the Jewish people. To be sure, there have been many persecuted people in the world, but none have endured such never-ending vitriolic hatred as the descendants of Abraham.

Why is this? Simply stated, it stems from a fundamental hatred and rejection of the God of Israel by fallen mankind. (There is no other, by the way.) Ultimately, this hatred is based upon a demonic envy and desire to hurt the heart of God Himself by attacking the people He chose in His sovereignty to carry His word and light to the world.

Those who are influenced and blinded by the darkly whispered voices of satanic psychosis often lash out against the Jews without any regard or notice of the facts or realities of history. If they did, they would realize how truly insane their rants are.

To give those of you who desire to know some of those facts and realities, I offer the following information gleaned from various sources. They will assist you in not only arguing in the defense of the Jewish people, but to insulate and inoculate yourself against the flood of disinformation and lies barraging us all. This level of hatred against Israel and the Jewish people will exponentially increase in the coming years. Brace for impact.
 
Some Inconvenient Facts about Israel.

1. Israel became a State in 1312 BCE, (NOT 1948) nearly two millennia before Islam was a twinkle in Mohammed’s eye;

2. Arab refugees from Israel began calling themselves “Palestinians” in 1967, two decades after the declaration in May of 1948 of the re-established Israeli State. No such nation or recognized people-group ever existed in all of history.

3. After conquering the land in 1272 BCE, the Jewish people ruled it exclusively for a thousand years. Even after multiple exiles and conquering, they maintained a continuous presence there for 3,300 years;

4. For over 3,300 years, Jerusalem maintained its status as the Jewish capital. It was never the capital of any Arab or Muslim entity. Even under Jordanian rule, (east) Jerusalem was not made the capital;

5. Jerusalem is mentioned 811 times in 764 verses in the King James Bible, but not once is it mentioned in the Qur’an;

6. King David founded Jerusalem; Muhammad never set foot in it;

7. Jews pray facing Jerusalem; Muslims face Mecca. If they are between the two cities, Muslims pray facing Mecca, with their backs to Jerusalem;

8. In 1948 when 7 Arab armies attacked Israel, Arab leaders urged their people to leave, promising to cleanse the land of the “Zionist presence.” The great majority of them fled without ever setting eyes on an Israeli soldier;

9. By contrast, virtually the entire Jewish population residing in neighboring Muslim countries had to flee for their lives as the result of violence and pogroms. Some 630,000 Arabs voluntarily left Israel in 1948, in spite of the Israeli government’s plea that they remain where they were, while nearly a million Jews were forced to leave the Muslim countries;

10. In spite of the vast territories at their disposal, Arab Refugees were deliberately prevented from assimilating into their host countries. Of 100 million refugees following World War 2, they are the only group to have never integrated with their co-religionists. Most of the Jewish refugees from Europe and Arab lands were settled in Israel, a country no larger than New Jersey;

11. There are 22 Muslim countries, not counting Palestine. There is only one Jewish state. Arabs started all five wars against Israel, and lost every one of them;

12. Hamas and Hezbollah official documents still call for the destruction of Israel. In spite of this, Israel has continually sought peace and ceded most of the west bank, the Sinai, and all of Gaza to Egypt and the Palestinian authority, even providing arms to the Arabs to maintain order. Many of these arms have been used in the murder of Israeli Jews;

13. During the Jordanian occupation from 1948 until 1967, Jewish holy sites in and around Jerusalem were vandalized and off limits to Jews. The U.N. remained deafeningly silent while the Arabs, under Jordanian rule, destroyed 58 synagogues in the old city of Jerusalem and systematically desecrated the ancient Jewish Cemetery on the Mount of Olives. Under Israeli administration after 1967, all Muslim and Christian holy sites are defended and accessible to all faiths;

14. Out of 175 United Nations Security Council resolutions up to 1990, 97 were against Israel; out of 690 general assembly resolutions, 429 were against Israel;

For a comprehensive accounting of Jewish contributions to civilization, please visit the following website. I can confidently say that the extensive list will blow your mind.
http://www.jinfo.org/

Please understand, I am not making a case that the Jewish people are perfect or “better” than anyone else. As a people, they have one prescient redeeming grace. They were favored and chosen by the God of Israel by His sovereign pre-determined choice. This was not done because of any merit in and of themselves anymore than we from among the nations can make any claim to God’s favor on our own merits. It is purely of grace.

However, the vicious hatred of the world toward the Jewish people is not because of human failures on their part, which are as numerous as our own if we are truly honest with ourselves. This hatred comes straight from the pits of evil itself. Lucifer’s unceasing vendetta toward God finds its most vexing expression in his lashing out against the apple of His eye.
The Jewish people will never be uprooted from their land again. The last great battle is coming, and many will die, both of the Jews, and their enemies. However, the God of Israel will defend them in the end, and honor those who stood bravely in the dark hour. We who have the choice now must take a stand for what is right. The right side is to stand with the people of God. Any pretense that the Islamists (or the blinded minions of the Left) have to usurp the Jewish State and possess the land given to Abraham’s descendants by God Himself will end in failure and ruin.

The Jewish Messiah will return and rule the earth from Jerusalem. The scriptures are clear. We who love Him, and have received His grace, will stand before Him with all those from every nation, kindred, tongue, tribe who love His appearing. There will be no more Jew or Gentile, but one new man.

 Israeli Air Force F-15s