Thursday, September 13, 2012
Story taken from
The deputy chief commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards warned this past week that any aggression against Iran will expand warfare onto the turf of its enemies.
“Our nation is ready to rub the enemies’ snout into dust and send thousands of coffins to their cities,” Gen. Hossein Salami told Fars News Agency.
“Any aggression against Iran will expand the war into the borders of the enemies,” he warned. “They know our power, and we won’t allow any aggression against our land.”
The general cited two reasons for what he called the greatness of the Islamic regime: “One is that the supreme leader, who is the deputy of the Hidden Imam [the Shiites' 12th Imam], rules with power, knowledge, penetrating the hearts; the other is the martyrs who shed their blood for the greatness of the country.”
In praising those martyrs, he said, “God states in the Quran that martyrs are alive and not to consider them as dead, as they had the art to exchange death to life and reach eternal life.”
Salami likened the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to a sun shining on the Islamic world, and that despite all the international sanctions and threats, Iran is progressing on all fronts.
Fars News Agency also reported a stern warning by Gen. Hassan Firoozabadi, head of the Army’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. Although he accused the U.S. and European nations of supporting al-Qaida and “terrorists” in Syria, he warned that America and the European countries should expect major attacks by al-Qaida and other terrorist groups in their homelands.
As reported earlier this year, terror cells have been placed on high alert to attack targets in the U.S. and Europe should Iran be attacked. Hundreds of terror cells have infiltrated America and, in collaboration with Hezbollah, are awaiting orders to strike American targets.
Thousands of cells have also been placed in Latin America.
“The Quds Force has established a command and control center in both Bolivia and Venezuela,” a former Iranian official with knowledge of the regime’s terror network recently revealed. “Though it has presence in Europe and other parts of the world, it has focused on Latin America. Thousands of such cells have been placed in Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Venezuela.”
A recent report from within Nicaragua indicated that Iran has established a training base in the northern part of that country, where operatives, including Hezbollah terrorists, are being readied for an attack on U.S. and Israeli interests should a war break out with Iran.
Hassan Abassi, a former Guard commander and a current strategist, has stated that many of the cells are of Latin American origin, including from Mexico, and that several hundred targets have been identified in the U.S. for a possible attack.
“If America dares to destabilize the Islamic Republic of Iran, it should have no doubt that we will destabilize America,” Abassi said.
Another senior commander of the Islamic regime, Gen. Masoud Jazayeri, recently warned America, “In the face of any attack, we will have a crushing response. In that case, we will not only act in the boundaries of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf; no place in America will be safe from our attacks.”
Khamenei has also warned America that any conflict will expand beyond the region. That same warning was issued days ago by Hassan Nasrallah, the general secretary of the terrorist group Hezbollah.
The response by Iran in case of an attack on its nuclear facilities will be “very great,” Nazrallah said.
Thousands of Revolutionary Guards and paramilitary forces of the Basij are set to conduct exercises in the coming weeks within Iranian cities on the occasion of the week of holy defense, an annual event commemorating the Iran-Iraq war.
According to a source within the Guards intelligence division who has defected to Europe, the exercise is a practice to use force against the Iranian population and to militarize and take control of major cities because the regime expects another uprising over deteriorating economic conditions and major resentment by the majority of Iranians against the Islamic regime.
Story taken from
Hezbollah has between 60 and 70 thousand rockets aimed at Israel, Defense Ministry Diplomatic-Security chief Amos Gilad said Monday.
Speaking at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism's World Summit, Gilad said the Lebanese terrorist organization has stockpiled rockets of various types, and its arsenal is far more robust than the one it had prior to the Second Lebanon War. "The next war will be aimed against the home front," Gilad warned.
Gilad also blamed Hezbollah for a number of successful and unsuccessful terrorist attacks abroad.
Though admitting that the threat from Lebanon is growing, Gilad was largely optimistic about Israel's security situation, citing positive developments in Syria, Egypt and the Gaza Strip.
"In Syria, there is good news," Gilad said. "The Golan Heights remains the quietest region in the entire Middle East. Our deterrence capabilities are sufficiently, for the time being, keeping out warring parties in Syria." Gilad also warned that al-Qaida is starting to rear its head in Syria, with a view that the fall of Assad will allow it to open a new terror front against Israel.
Turning to Egypt, Gilad said that though there are many terrorist groups actively trying to strike Israel from the Sinai, recently-elected President Mohamad Morsy and his officials remain committed to peace.
Gilad called the situation in Gaza "relatively restrained," with Hamas generally holding other Palestinian terror groups back from striking Israel.
Gilad also stated that Israel is currently not facing a conventional military threat, a massive improvement over Israel's historical security situation.
Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor, who lectured at the same conference, said that the Arab Spring is forcing populations across the Middle East to answer difficult questions about the congruence between Western and Islamic values.
"What happens when the majority does not want democracy?" Meridor asked rhetorically. "What happens when the majority does not believe a woman is equal to a man? What happens what it wants the Muslim Brotherhood?"
Meridor said the Middle East is experiencing a "battle between Western ideals of freedom and democracy versus traditional conservative and Islamic values."
Story taken from
Not all the news about pastors is discouraging. Pastors feel privileged to be called to their places of ministry. They have a deep love for those they shepherd. Most of them could not conceive of doing anything else. But please hear me: Many pastors are hurting.
LifeWay Research conducted a national survey of Protestant pastors. Among the questions they asked were two related to the hurts I noted above.
The Discouragement Factor
One of the key symptoms of the pain experienced by pastors is discouragement. Over one-half (55%) of pastors are presently discouraged. I suspect that if we surveyed pastors over just a few months, we would find that almost all of them experience deep discouragement.
Some interesting facts we discovered in our study:
• There was no pattern of discouragement related to the geographical location of the church.
• There was no pattern of discouragement related to the size of the church.
• There was no pattern of discouragement related to the educational level of the pastor.
• There was a significant pattern of discouragement related to the age of the pastor. The younger the pastor, the more likely he was to be discouraged.
The Loneliness Factor
Most pastors experience intense loneliness at times. When we conducted our survey, over one-half again (coincidentally the same number, 55%, as noted above) said they were lonely. Again remember that this survey was for a specific point in time.
Which pastors experience the greatest amount of loneliness? Our study noted some discernible patterns:
• There was no pattern of loneliness related to the geographical location of the church.
• Younger pastors were more likely to be lonely than older pastors.
• The larger the church, the greater the likelihood that the pastor was experiencing loneliness.
• The greater the education level of the pastor, the more likely he is to be lonely.
Why the Pervasive Discouragement and Loneliness?
Why are so many pastors struggling today? In an earlier article I wrote on pastoral depression, I noted the following possible reasons:
• Spiritual warfare. The Enemy does not want God's servants to be effective in ministry. He will do whatever it takes to hurt ministers and their ministries.
• Unrealistic expectations. The expectations and demands upon a pastor are enormous. They are unrealistic. But if one person's expectations are not met, that person can quickly let the pastor know that he is a failure.
• Greater platforms for critics. In "the good old days," a critic was typically limited to telephone, mail, and in-person meetings to criticize a minister. Today the critics have the visible and pervasive platforms of email, blogs, and social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
• Failure to take time away from the church or place of ministry. Workaholism leads to burnout. Burnout leads to depression.
• Marriage and family problems. Too often the pastor neglects his family as he cares for the larger church family.
• Financial strains. Many pastors simply do not have sufficient income from the churches they serve. That financial stress can lead to depression. Some pastors do not know how to manage the money they do have, leading to further financial strain.
• The problem of comparison. Every pastor will always know of a church that is larger and more effective. Every pastor will always know of another pastor who seems more successful. The comparison game can be debilitating to some pastors.
This one thing I do know. Pastors need our prayers more than ever. They need our support and encouragement. I am committed to pray for my pastor every day, even if it's only for a minute or so. Will you do the same? Our pastors pour out their lives for us daily. What can you do to help our pastors?
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Story taken from
King Nebuchadnezzar lived and reigned over Babylon when the city was home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was Nebuchadnezzar that constructed the famed Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar was a real guy who really lived. In 597 BC he captured Jerusalem and deposed King Jehoiakim. The Jews rebelled and in 587 Nebuchadnezzar destroyed both the city and the Temple and deported Judah’s most prominent citizens to Babylon.
Uncounted thousands of Jews died in the siege, with the defenders eventually even resorting to cannibalism in their efforts to survive. The Temple of God was defiled. The Holy of Holies was desecrated and the Temple treasures looted.
Where was God when all this was happening? The Jews were His Chosen People; the Temple was His place on the Earth. Why didn't He interfere?
When the Ark was being transported aboard an oxcart, one of the oxen stumbled and an Israelite named Uzzah put out his hand to steady it. According to 2 Samuel 6:7, the moment Uzzah’s hand touched the Ark he fell over dead.
So how could a Gentile king and his hordes manage to sack the Temple without having to worry about Divine retribution?
“Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are His: And He changeth the times and the seasons: He removeth kings, and setteth up kings: He giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:” (Daniel 2:20-21)
“Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.”(Daniel 2:37-38)
Do you see it? Nebuchadnezzar was able to sack the Temple, touch the Temple treasures, defile the Holy of Holies and even steal from God, so to speak, because God appointed him.
God sets up kings. God removes kings. God made Nebuchadnezzar ruler over them, according to His purpose. The Prophet Daniel, a victim of Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest, understood this principle well.
Nebuchadnezzar was king because God wanted him to be king and he would only stay king as long as God wanted him to.
God also appointed Cyrus the Persian, Alexander the Great, Caligula, Pilate, Kaiser Wilhelm, King Leopold II, Czar Nicholas, Emperor Hirohito, Kim il Sung, Mao Tze Tung, Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Pol Pot and every other murderous dictator in history.
Bible prophecy is the telling – in advance – of how these tyrants who had absolute power on earth, were mere pawns in the overall Big Picture of history.
God sets up kings and He brings down kings according to His will.
No tyrant, no matter how terrible, achieved his rank through his own effort. And while Satan is certainly capable of corrupting them, he is powerless to appoint them.
This is one of the harder sayings of Scripture, but it is nonetheless true. Every tyrant in history was either appointed by God or the Bible is not true.
When the Apostle Paul wrote his Epistle to the Romans, Nero was emperor of Rome. Ultimately, Paul was beheaded on Nero’s orders. It is especially important to keep Nero in mind when reading Paul’s admonition to the Romans as recorded in Romans 13:1-6.
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.
Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same. For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.”
Let me repeat myself here: when Paul was speaking of the higher powers being ordained by God according to His purposes, Paul was speaking of Emperor Nero!
Nebuchadnezzar could lay siege to Jerusalem because God permitted it. Indeed, the Siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar was part of the overall plan of God for the ages.
It was from Babylon that Daniel was given the outline of future history from the order to rebuild the Temple to the reign of the antichrist in the last days.
No detail was left to chance – if we learn anything from Bible prophecy, we learn that every event is interconnected with the events that came before and those to come afterwards. Remove some of it and all of it collapses.
Now we come to the point of today’s briefing. What does Barack Obama, American politics and the Election of 2012 have to do with Bible prophecy?
Let’s look first at what we know as opposed to what we think. Barack Obama would not be president of the United States if God didn’t want him there. We know that as a certainty.
So by observing Obama’s agenda, if we are as far along the timeline as I believe we are, Obama’s agenda should provide insights into God’s agenda for the last days as articulated by Scripture.
As we’ve discussed previously, right or wrong, America is perceived by the world as the world’s most Christian nation. It is that perception that is relevant.
If I wanted to convey a message, I would use symbols that would make sense to those I was trying to reach. So if I wanted to convey a message to the Church about the collapse of Biblical Christianity at about the same time as the end of the Church Age, I would probably start this way:
“This know also, that in the last days, perilous times shall come” – and then I would describe the prevailing moral state of the world’s most Christian nation.
I wouldn’t describe the moral state of the whole world, since the moral state of the whole world, apart from Christ, has remained unchanged since Adam.
I’d describe a primarily Christian people in what is recognized as a primarily Christian nation -- one whose moral state was in obvious and discernible deterioration from a less immoral state.
The president sets the moral agenda for the nation – that’s just the way it is. America under Reagan was more moral than under Clinton. It was more moral under Bush than under Obama.
That isn’t to say the presidents were, but rather their agendas – since their agenda reflects that of the people that elected them.
America elected Barack Obama in 2008. The moral agenda of the nation has since reflected Obama’s morals. What are they?
Obama marks every Muslim holiday with a speech. When Obama mentioned Passover, he likened it to the uprisings in the Arab world.
It is hard to imagine showing more disrespect for Judaism than to link the Passover celebration with the political rise of the Muslim Brotherhood.
And Obama remained absolutely silent during the most solemn feast day on the Christian calendar, (apart from hosting an Easter Egg hunt).
Obama’s agenda has accelerated America’s decline exponentially. When Obama took office, the IMF was warning that if America didn’t get its financial house in order, it would lose its status as the world’s most powerful economy by 2030.
The IMF recently issued a revised forecast saying that at the present rate, the Age of America will come to an end in 2016 – the final year of an Obama second term.
Obama is president because God wanted Obama in the Oval Office at this exact moment in history.
Comparing Obama’s agenda with the agenda of the antichrist --a global government, centralized global economy and a global religious system and a global religious system hostile to Christians and Jews – American presidential politics takes on extreme relevance to Bible prophecy.
The antichrist is a politician who presides over a political system that has a form of godliness but denies the power thereof; gives lip service to the god of forces but who ultimately views himself as being above any god.
America is the country the rest of the world looks at as the world’s most Christian country. So when the world’s most Christian country elects a guy who claims to be Christian, gives lip service to Islam, despises the Jews and whose agenda guarantees America’s fall within two terms, whether or not he gets a second term is useful to the interpretation of unfolding Bible prophecy.
Obama is the president of the United States right now because God put him there. If he gets a second term, is that relevant to Bible prophecy?
Story taken from
Israel might attack Iran by using electromagnetic pulses (EMP) that could cripple the country by shutting down its electronics and sending the Islamic Republic “back to the Stone Age,” The London Sunday Times reported.
EMP causes non-lethal gamma energy to react with the magnetic field and produces a powerful electromagnetic shock wave that can destroy electronic devices, especially those used in Iran’s nuclear plants.
The shock wave would knock out Iran’s power grid and communications systems for transport and financial services, leading to economic collapse.
The “back to the Stone Age” tactic was first proposed in an Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) article in early August by Dr. Joe Tuzara, after another Arutz Sheva oped writer, attorney Mark Langfan described its power in an earlier article.
A former clinical research-physician-general surgeon for Saudi Arabian, Philippine and American healthcare systems, he wrote, “The wild card is in Israel’s hand - with Electronic Magnetic Pulse (EMP) inscribed on it.
If Israel chooses one of its Jericho III missiles to detonate a single EMP warhead at high altitude over north central Iran, there will be with no blast or radiation effects on the ground.”
He explained that one effect of the EMP attack would be that, “Iran’s uranium enrichment centrifuges in Fordo, Natanz and widely scattered elsewhere, would freeze for decades.”
The WorldNetDaily reported three weeks ago, “Israelis have not ruled out a Jericho III missile launch to detonate a single electromagnetic pulse warhead at high altitude over central Iran."
The Sunday Times report quoted Bill Gertz, editor of the Washington Free Beacon, said that the United States expressed concern about using a high-altitude nuclear bomb to set off the an EMP attack.
Amid constant reports of Israel’s preparing to take direct action to stop or at least halt Iran’s presumed race to manufacture a nuclear warhead aimed at Israel, Canada increased diplomatic pressure on Iran Friday by announcing it is closing its embassy in Tehran.
It called the Islamic regimen "the greatest threat to security and peace in the world."
Foreign Minister John Baird said that "the Iranian regime refuses to fall in line with UN demands regarding Iran's nuclear program, and making repeated threats to Israel's existence."
Story taken from
The FBI is readying its $1 billion Next Generation Identification program, a surveillance system that uses photographs and biometric data to help law enforcement entities nationwide identify possible "persons of interest."
But the bureau has openly mulled cataloging photographs of innocent people taken from surveillance cameras and social networking sites, as well as biometric information gathered for non-criminal reasons, sending privacy advocates into a fury.
The FBI's Next Generation Identification system would use photographs and biometric data to help law enforcement entities nationwide identify possible persons of interests.
It has some privacy advocates worrying law enforcement agents will be snooping on the entire U.S. populace, and leave the door open for a devastating data breach.Share This Story
NGI, as reported by the New Scientist, would use facial recognition software along with biometric tools such as voice recognition, iris scans and fingerprints to identify and track down suspected criminals. The database will be shared with law enforcement entities at state and federal levels across the country.
Privacy advocates fear the FBI will indiscriminately mash together biometric and photographic records into a searchable database, not taking the time to separate the wholly innocent from former convicts, the arrested-and-acquitted, and persons of interest.
The controversy lies in the grey area surrounding information outside the bounds of arrest records or mug shots such as pictures from social networks, fingerprints from background checks for job applications, or even photographs taken of folks just walking down the street.
All materials accumulated outside the bounds of regular police work could be bundled into a growing and pervasive information-collection operation on random civilians who are not suspected of committing any crimes, leaving the codified and catalogued personal information of millions open to a security breach.
The FBI has not publicly responded to the recent outcry. Its website does contain a boastful post laying out the potential benefits of NGI while also claiming to address privacy concerns.
"It doesn't threaten individual privacy. As required with any federal system, the FBI is doing Privacy Impact Assessments on what information will be collected, how it will be shared, how it will be accessed, and how the data will be securely stored ... all in an effort to protect privacy," the site states.
The FBI's Jerome Pender asserted in testimony before Congress in July 2011 that the database will include only mug shots from previous arrests provided by local, state and federal law enforcement around the country, and all matched photos will be considered only leads and not positive identifications leading to an arrest.
But NGI's privacy statement does not exclude civilian information from sources outside of law enforcement, attorney Jennifer Lynch of the Electronic Frontier Foundation told the New Scientist. The digital rights advocacy group has been among NGI's loudest and largest decriers.
The FBI has stated in the past it will keep civilian information and criminal records nominally separated. Yet the information will be searchable simultaneously, essentially merging into one large database, according to EFF.
"Once you start plugging this into the FBI database, it becomes tantamount to a national photographic database," the American Civil Liberties Union's Jay Stanley told the New Scientist.
Why would the agency go through all the trouble of gathering millions of photos, scanning them, indexing them and storing them for later use?
The ability to identify a suspect at lightning speed has been every lawman's dream, a pursuit that began when Allan Pinkerton accidentally birthed the mug shot with his 19th century Wild West "Wanted" posters.
And with facial recognition software used by NGI achieving a 92 percent accuracy level in some cases, a larger gathering of photographs creates a greater chance of a successful match.
A 2010 presentation by the FBI's Richard Vorder Bruegge showed a law enforcement agency looking to catalogue and use any photos it can get its hands on, regardless of their origin, including "public datasets."
NGI's face-scanning technology would essentially match photos of a person of interest against a database the FBI estimates will grow to at least 12 million pictures.
The facial recognition aspect works two ways: Agents can use face-matching software to pair surveillance camera stills taken from a crime scene against a growing database of mug shots. It can also scan against photos from other surveillance cameras and online in search of a suspect.
If NGI's early stages are any indication of where it's heading, privacy advocates and ordinary citizens are right to fear it.
The NGI began pilot programs in 2011 with four participating states -- Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan and Oregon -- according to documents posted by the EFF.
The FBI's Next Generation Identification system would use photographs and biometric data to help law enforcement entities nationwide identify possible persons of interests.
It has some privacy advocates worrying law enforcement agents will be snooping on the entire U.S. populace, and leave the door open for a devastating data breach.
A memo from Hawaii states the FBI wants to "conduct automated surveillance at lookout locations," suggesting the bureau would take photos in public areas, shove them into the database and include members of the crowd in searches for suspected criminals. Another agreement with Maryland has the state promising to just hand over all photos on record to the FBI in what it calls a "photo data dump."
Other documents showcase the FBI's willingness to toss biometric records together into a giant pile -- regardless of their first intended use, according to documents obtained by EFF. For example, fingerprints taken at a precinct following an arrest would be thrown into a searchable database with prints taken for reasons outside of law enforcement, such as job applications.
The FBI is required to create a Privacy Impact Assessment for surveillance programs, though the one created for NGI predates the information-sharing schemes later established with participating pilot states.
"It is impossible to tell exactly how the FBI plans to acquire and use facial recognition data now and in the future," Lynch wrote. "However, given the information in these new documents and the FBI's broad goals for face recognition data the time is right for laws that limit face recognition data collection."
The FBI and Department of Homeland Security already sit on what they claim are the "largest biometric database in the world," according to the agency's site. DHS's data spans more than 91 million fingerprint records, while the FBI's ASFIS database includes 66 million criminal records and 25 million civil records.
Some may deride the EFF and ACLU's concerns as conspiracy theorist nonsense. Don't break the law and you have nothing to worry about ... right?
While the EFF would argue that a fully monitored society is not truly free, it more practically points to a huge security flaw in the system. A uniformly codified database of biometric and photographic data makes the impact of a breach infinitely more devastating, EFF argues.
Privicy advocates predicy that security technologies will evolve past the "combination/passcode/keycard" practices of old, headed toward biometric identification as the ultimate lock combination.
Should your thumbprint or iris scan become the universal key to your life, from your front door to the pharmacy checkout line to your ATM machine, one skilled hacker with a penchant for James Bond-esque antics can ruin countless lives, EFF argues. And NGI is the third in a fresh list of Big Brotherly activity on the part of the federal government.
Last month offered Wikileaks' revelation of TrapWire, a software that indiscriminately analyzes surveillance camera footage to try to identify terrorists planning attacks.
The hacked and leaked corporate emails from intelligence company Stratfor went on to show more smoke than fire, as TrapWire constituted a failed DHS experiment run on 15 surveillance cameras in Washington, D.C., and Seattle that was ultimately scrapped.
Next came hacker collective AntiSec's dump of more than a million alleged Unique Device Identifier (UDID) numbers used in Apple devices, which the group claims it swiped from an FBI agent's laptop.
It left many wondering why the federal agency wanted the information in the first place. (The FBI ever having it or being the source of the leak.)
Clearly the federal government, FBI and DHS et. al., have been doing their best to employ consumer technology and the private security measures for their own ends. But playing "Where's Waldo?" with the entire general populace strikes some as beyond justification.