QUESTION: Re: Matthew 6:33But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. When we decide to serve Him first, this decision must be followed by action or it will be as useless as if we did not decide to do so in the first place. To honor God with your lips and not your heart is not acceptable. This worries me. If I am doing anything like what I should be doing it will be a big surprise to me. And I suspect I am not alone. I just read that most of us are in the same boat. What do you think? Your opinion will be greatly appreciated. And anxiously awaited.
ANSWER: Remember that the Lord looks at the motives of our heart. If our motives are pure then our actions are acceptable, even if they mostly involve earning a living and raising a family. The Lord knows that for some folks these things can take all the resources they have.
But if we’re living beyond our means with a couple of mortgages, car loans, and a bunch of credit card debt, it’s pretty clear that our heart is set on the things of this world, no matter what we say about the Kingdom. And unfortunately, you’re correct. This is the way the vast majority of Christians are living today. (Of course, I’m not talking about any of us, but other Christians.)
One of my early mentors said, “Show me what a person pays attention to, and I’ll show you what that person’s intentions are.” Do we pay more attention to storing up earthly treasures for ourselves, or to storing up treasures in heaven by helping others? Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be”(Matt. 6:21).
QUESTION: I haven’t written with a question in a long time…but I’m still praising God everyday when I read your articles and timely responses to readers questions. You can’t imagine the number of times I have silently “high fived” you with a “good answer, Jack”. You continue to bless me with your anointed insight to explaining scripture in the most elemental ways. I recently lost my wonderful husband of 38 years.
We made promises to meet again just “inside the eastern gate.” My thoughts frequently go to the fact that he (soul and spirit) is already with our Saviour, even though his earthly body is still here on earth. (Absent from the body / present with the Lord.) My wonderings are along this line…is he already in his mansion (room) ? What is he doing while he waits for the rapture (or death) to bring me up ? Are there any clues in scripture as to what everone already there is doing while they wait ?
ANSWER: Sorry to say the Bible offers no specific information on either the whereabouts or activities of those in Heaven awaiting the rapture. Paul did say it would be “better by far” to be there than here. (Phil. 1:23). It’s probably a good thing we don’t know more about it. If we knew what it’s like there, we’d just be more miserable here. But since they can’t achieve their full inheritance without resurrection bodies, my guess is that the dead in Christ are even more excited for the rapture than we are.
Israel has appealed to the United Nations to intervene in southern Lebanon, saying that the Palestinian terror group Hamas is working with Hezbollah to establish missile factories and camps to train thousands of fighters there.
The issue was first reported Saturday by a Lebanese daily, quoting UN sources. It was later confirmed by the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, which said the issue has been regularly raised at the UN.
According to the Al Joumhouria report, Israel sent a letter in recent weeks to the UN Security Council and General Assembly containing intelligence on the terror groups’ efforts to set up missile factories in Lebanon for Hamas, as well as training facilities overseen by senior Hezbollah members for “thousands of Palestinian fighters.”
In the letter, Israel charged that the cooperation between the Iran-backed organizations was a “blatant violation” of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War between the Israeli military and Hezbollah and mandated the disarmament of armed groups in Lebanon, such as Hezbollah.
Israel requested the UN intervene to stop the cooperation between Hamas and Hezbollah, according to the report.
“The issue is on Israel’s agenda at the UN and is regularly raised in meetings, official letters and speeches, both to the UN Secretary-General and UN Security Council,” the Foreign Ministry said in response to the report.
“The cooperation between Hamas and Hezbollah crosses borders. We are witnessing the results of the Hamas terror government in Gaza, and now Hamas is tightening its ties with Hezbollah with the blessing and support of Iran, which is working to entrench its own forces also on Lebanese soil,” Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said in a statement following the report.
“I have recently appealed to the Security Council and warned of this cooperation between the terror organizations. I emphasized that Israel will not stand by idly in the face of new and old threats that face it,” Danon said. “Israel will do everything to safeguard its citizens.”
Israel’s complaints to the UN on the cooperation in Lebanon between Hamas and Hezbollah — both of which are supported by Iran — came as Israel also has raised concern over Iranian military entrenchment elsewhere on its northern border in Syria.
Israel has repeatedly vowed it will not tolerate Iran’s military presence in Syria and has carried out airstrikes on Iranian targets in the country, including last month in response to Iran’s firing of rockets from Syria at the Golan Heights.
Israel fears that as the Syrian civil war winds down, Iran, whose forces and Shiite proxies have backed President Bashar Assad, will entrench militarily in the neighboring country and turn its focus on Israel.
On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that in a ploy to try to reduce pressure from Israel, Iranian-backed forces, including Hezbollah, have withdrawn their forces from areas in southern Syria, only to later return posing as Syrian military units.
[The EU needs a strong, dominant, charismatic ‘character’ to lead them out of this abyss]
The EU as a political construction is in a state of terminal decay. We know this for one reason and one reason alone: its core principle is the state is superior to its people. A system of government can only work over the longer term if it recognises that it is the servant of the people, not its master. It matters not what electoral system is in place, so long as this principal is adhered to.
The EU executive in Brussels does not accept electoral primacy. It shares with Marxist communism a belief in statist primacy instead. The only difference between the two creeds is Marx planned to rule the world, while Brussels is on the way to ruling Europe.
The methods of satisfying their objectives differ. Marx advocated civil war on a global scale to destroy capitalism and the bourgeoisie, while Brussels has progressively taken on powers that marginalise national parliaments. Both creeds share a belief in an all-powerful executive. The comparison with Marxism does not flatter the EU, and suggests it has a limited life and that we may be on the verge of seeing the EU beginning to disintegrate. Despite economic evolution in the rest of the world, like Marxian communists Brussels is stuck with a failing economic and political creed.
It has no mechanism for compromise or adaptation.
A rebellion from Greece was put down, the British voted for Brexit, which is proving impossible to negotiate, and now Italy thinks it can partially escape from this statist version of Hotel California. The Italians are making huge mistakes. The rebel parties forming a coalition government want to stay in the EU but are looking to exit from the euro.
As stated above, the EU is quasi-Marxist, placing the state above the people.
The Italian government has collaborated with Brussels to enslave its own people as vassals of the EU super-state. If there is a revolt in Italy, this is what the electorate is rebelling against. Faceless eurocrats tell the Italian people what to do and what to think. The people are discontent with both the super-state and their own weak governments.
It’s hardly surprising that the Italian people are fed up with their establishment and feel they can only collectively undermine it by voting against it at election time.
But it is too late, because the state, and therefore the banks, are already irretrievably bust, a fact barely concealed by the ECB’s funding of the Italian government at near-zero interest rates through the purchase of government bonds. Not only is the ECB in denial over Italy’s financial situation, but also Italy is firmly imprisoned.
EU banks are insolvent as well
The disruption of an Italian withdrawal from the euro would be fatal for the EU’s banking system on at least four levels.
The support from the ECB for the Italian banks would be withdrawn, which would have the potential to allow a cascade of bank failures in Italy to develop, either as a result of bad debts crystallising within the system, or due to balance sheet deterioration from falling Italian government bond prices.
Problems for banks will arise when past loans remain denominated in euros, while their balance sheets are transitioned into a new, weakening currency. The Italian banks lack the margins to weather lop-sided balance sheets, whose assets are denominated in a declining currency relative to the currency of their liabilities.
There will be a rush for residents in other Eurozone countries to reduce and eliminate their Italian commitments, amounting to a banking run against the whole country. The only political solution would be to impose draconian capital controls between Italy and the rest of the world, including other EU member states.
Lastly, there is the threat to the ECB and the euro-system itself.
If I am only half right over the timing of the next credit crisis, it will be at the same approximate time as Britain is due to exit the EU in March 2019.
Logically, Brexit should not be deflected by the credit crisis and the Eurozone catastrophe, but the statist instincts of the British government could be to put the whole Brexit process on hold in the interests of global government unity, at least while the management of the larger credit crisis is addressed. The coordination of policy at the G20 level seems bound to take precedence over potentially disruptive political issues such as Brexit.
So, despite the referendum commitment, even Britain may continue to be trapped in the rotting EU super-state for a while longer, defying the wishes of the electorate.
As foreshadowed in Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, the EU and the British government will take the opportunity from crisis to increase their control over their individual peoples, eroding further the limited freedoms left to them.
Meanwhile, the British find themselves in a similar position to the Italians. The EU simply refuses to accept the British electoral mandate, because so far as it is concerned, it is not a matter for British voters. Brussels is reassured that there are powerful forces in the British establishment that will undermine Britain’s negotiating position. They are confident that Britain will never leave the EU, because it won’t be allowed. Consequently the British Brexit team finds it is trying to negotiate with that uncompromising brick wall.
The Marxist-like certainty in the EU’s position compares with the British lack of commitment to any sound position. The Conservative government only pays lip service to free markets, unwilling to argue the case for them. Nor can it stand up for the principal of democratic supremacy of the British electorate, which, despite the mantra of acting on the instructions from the referendum, it appears willing to compromise. It turns out that despite the efforts of Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson, the British government, like the Italians government, turns out to be a supine protoplasmic invertebrate jelly, which places its short-term survival instincts above its electoral responsibilities.
At this point, we can only surmise that, like the old Soviet Union, the EU’s political grip remains as firm as ever. The problem is that the denial of free markets and the supremacy of the super-state are gently rotting the EU from within. The Euro-sceptic instinct to abandon it for a more progressive world outside the EU is surely right. But the EU’s precariousness will only be fully exposed by the next credit crisis and the ECB’s monetary response to it, which will end up collapsing the euro.
At issue is the presence of Hizballah and other pro-Iranian units in growing numbers – disguised as Syrian troops – opposite Israel’s borders, DEBKAfile’s exclusive sources report. Under the command of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, these units are being “absorbed” into the Syrian army as a ploy for supporting claims by Damascus and Tehran that no Iranian troops are present in Syria at all – only “Iranian military advisers.” Russian officers posted in Syria were apparently told not to interfere in this process.
Our military sources find Hizballah units deployed at the Mt. Hermon border town of Al Khadar opposite Israeli outposts, and the pro-Iranian Afghan Shiite militia (Liwa Ahu Fadi al-Abbas) positioned around Qunetra opposite Israel’s Golan border, under the command of Iranian Revolutionary Guards IRGC) officers.
These Hizballah troops are clad in the uniforms of the Syrian army’s 4th and 5th Syrian divisions, while the Afghan militiamen are wearing the uniforms, boasting the insignia, and driving the vehicles, some armored, of the Syrian presidential Republican Guard.
We broke the story on May 31, a few hours before Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman was due to meet his Russian counterpart Gen. Sergei Shoigu in Moscow. We revealed then for the first time that Iranian IRGC and Hizballah units in the regions of Quneitra, the Daraa border with Jordan, and Mt. Hermon were all clad in Syrian army uniforms. This subterfuge was intended to dodge around Israel’s flat objections to their presence in its back yard. Moscow hoped that Washington would buy it. On Saturday, June 9, the Wall Street Journal repeated DEBKAfile’s discovery of Hizballah fighters disguised as Syrian troops nearing Israel’s border.
The report came after the meeting on Friday, June 8, between Gen. Joseph Danford, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Russian General Staff chief Gen. Valery Gerasimov in Helsinki. The two generals discussed their respective military arrays in Syria, the situation in the de-escalation zones along its borders with Jordan and Israel and the military situation in Ukraine. No communique was issued after the meeting. DEBKAfile discloses, however, that Gen. Danford showed Gen. Shoigu the intelligence he had received about the Syrian uniform con practiced by Syria and Iran to pretend that the pro-Iranian troops taking up positions along Syrian’s southwestern borders were part of the Syrian army. According to our information, the two generals parted without reaching a consensus on the military situation in Syria, especially for those border regions.
Anti-discrimination laws continue to be used to attack churches and other religious organizations for not supporting sinful behavior, this time in Portland, Oregon.
The Ambridge Event Center of Portland Oregon, a company contracted to manage an event center owned by Holy Rosary Church, is now suing the church for lost income, improvements made to the facility and attorney’s fees (a total of $2.3 million). The lawsuit filed in May of 2018 stems from a 2015 dispute in which Ambridge found itself compelled to turn away an LGBT group that wanted to host an event.
Since the target of the lawsuit is a church, this case is unique among other cases, such as cake shops and wedding or photography businesses, that have been forced to pay damages after they refused to do business with homosexual couples. Not only is the target of the lawsuit a church but the plaintiff is not the LGBT group but instead a private, for profit business that claims to be harmed by the church’s policies.
Since religious organizations are largely exempt from Oregon state discrimination law, it is highly unlikely that Ambridge will prevail, but the church will be forced to pay out significant attorney’s fees simply to defend itself from such legal attacks.
In 2015, Ambridge was approached by the PFLAG Black Chapter, an African-American LGBT group that wished to hold a conference at the event center owned by Holy Rosary Church. Ambridge, a private for-profit company was contractually obligated to decline clients that conflicted with the moral stance of the church, turned down PFLAG’s request.
As a result, Ambridge became the target of a widespread media campaign accusing it of discrimination and it lost many of its long-time clients as well as new business. Ambridge claims in its lawsuit that after it hired an openly gay events coordinator—in an attempt to demonstrate that it was friendly to the LGBT community—Holy Rosary Church terminated the contract and ended their business relationship in retaliation.
In this case PFLAG chose not to file a lawsuit against the church for discrimination because they believed that the church was protected under state law and could not be compelled to rent their space to those who were not in keeping with their moral code.
Logically, the suit brought by Ambridge may fail on the same grounds, unless the court finds that the church breached its contractual obligation with Ambridge to amicably settle disputes and attempt to mediate contract termination.
Rod Dreher with the publication The American Conservative, foresees that this will not be the only such assault on churches and their religious freedom, “If an LGBT activist group targets a private business for working with a church it considers to be anti-LGBT, and its campaign results in that business going under, will the business owners take the church to court seeking damages?” Clearly that is what has happened in this case since the church is protected from legal assault by LGBT groups, nothing protects Ambridge from their media attack campaigns and a loss of business.
The Sweet Cakes bakery owned by Aaron and Melissa Klein, now out of business due to damages it was forced to pay to a homosexual couple, recently lost the appeal of their case and in that appeal, the appellate court commented in its decision, “The Kleins seek an exemption based on their sincere religious opposition to same-sex marriage; but those with sincere religious objections to marriage between people of different races, ethnicities, or faiths could just as readily demand the same exemption.”
In this case, behavior that is sinful and contrary to religious belief is being equated to inherent characteristics such as race. Barring whether Holy Rosary Church may prevail in its legal defense for its status as a religious organization, but with continued assaults on both personal religious freedom and religious organizations, this may not be true forever.
In the recent decision of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, another bakery that refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, the Supreme Court ruled that freedom of expression trumped the plaintiffs’ rights against discrimination. But for all those who herald this case as a win for First Amendment rights, it warrants a closer reading of the decision that narrowly focused on the message written on the cake.
The Supreme Court declared that if the couple had refused to bake any cake due to their beliefs, they would be held liable for discrimination, but they could not be forced to produce a specific work of art (the cake) that expressed a message contrary to their religious beliefs.
Based on this judicial opinion, in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case written by Justice Kennedy, the way is clear for churches to be swept up in this tide of “anti-discrimination” fervor as well. How long until churches in the US are forced both to host and to conduct homosexual marriages (which already occurred in Denmark) or be forced to submit to monitoring and licensing to operate, which already occurs throughout the Muslim world and in China?
The LGBT activist groups and their media power in Portland have done more damage than the courts by driving Ambridge Event Center out of business, but pressure continues to mount on both churches and all those affiliated with them to accept the gender-radicals’ agenda.
CHANCELLOR SEBASTIAN KURZ IN AUSTRIA MAKES BOLD MOVE TO SHUT 7 MOSQUES, EXPELS 60 IMAMS TO PREVENT BECOMING ANOTHER LONDONISTAN
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the government is shutting a hardline Turkish nationalist mosque in Vienna and dissolving a group called the Arab Religious Community that runs six mosques. His coalition government, an alliance of conservatives and the far right, came to power soon after Europe’s migration crisis on promises to prevent another influx and clamp down on benefits for new immigrants and refugees.
Austria said today it could expel up to 60 Turkish-funded imams and their families and would shut down seven mosques as part of a crackdown on ‘political Islam’ that was described as ‘just the beginning’, triggering fury in Ankara.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Austria looked over at England where Muslim immigration is going to triple over the next few years to 13 million people, looked at the sky-high violent crime rate in London who has a Muslim mayor who is very soft on Islamic crime, and they decided they didn’t want that to be their future. Muslims are one of the only people groups who refuse to assimilate into the society of their host country, demand sharia courts as they have successfully done all over the UK, and one day you wake up to find you are a minority member in your own birth country. How do you stop it? You identify and shut the mosques where political radicalization is going on, and you begin deporting the radicals. Well done, Austria, hopefully other nations across Europe will follow your lead.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the government is shutting a hardline Turkish nationalist mosque in Vienna and dissolving a group called the Arab Religious Community that runs six mosques.
His coalition government, an alliance of conservatives and the far right, came to power soon after Europe’s migration crisis on promises to prevent another influx and clamp down on benefits for new immigrants and refugees.
In a previous job as minister in charge of integration, Chancellor Kurz oversaw the passing of a tough ‘law on Islam’ in 2015, which banned foreign funding of religious groups and created a duty for Muslim societies to have ‘a positive fundamental view towards (Austria’s) state and society’.
‘Parallel societies, political Islam and radicalisation have no place in our country,’ Kurz told a news conference outlining the government’s decisions, which were based on that law. ‘This is just the beginning,’ far-right Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache added.
Ankara quickly denounced the move, and Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Twitter: ‘Austria’s decision to close down seven mosques and deport imams with a lame excuse is a reflection of the anti-Islam, racist and discriminatory populist wave in this country.’
Interior Minister Herbert Kickl of the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), the junior partner in Austria’s coalition government, said: ‘The circle of people possibly affected by these measures – the pool that we’re talking about – comprises around 60 imams.’
Kickl was referring to imams with alleged links to the Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations (ATIB) organisation, a branch of Turkey’s religious affairs agency Diyanet. The interior minister added that the government suspects them of contravening a ban on foreign funding of religious office holders.
The ministry said 40 of them had an active application for extending their residency and that a number of these had already been referred to immigration authorities, where a process for expelling them was underway. Once family members were taken into account, a total 150 people risked losing their right to residence, Kickl told a Vienna press conference.
Seven mosques will also be shut after an investigation by Austria’s religious affairs authority sparked by images which emerged in April of children in a Turkish-backed mosque playing dead and re-enacting the World War I battle of Gallipoli.
‘Parallel societies, political Islam and radicalisation have no place in our country,’ said Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of the ruling centre-right People’s Party.
The photos of children, published by the Falter weekly, showed the young boys in camouflage uniforms marching, saluting, waving Turkish flags and then playing dead. Their ‘corpses’ were then lined up and draped in the flags. The mosque in question was run by ATIB. source
QUESTION: My question deals with the prevalence of “The Prosperity Gospel.” Some of the well meaning proponents of this suggest that if one is sick, or poor, or even dies untimely, it is evidence of a lack of faith. I find it offensive, and am troubled because some people I love have stated this. I am hoping you will address this for the Church. Thank you.
ANSWER: It’s true, the Bible does support much of the Prosperity Gospel teaching. The Lord has promised to meet all our needs (Matthew 6:33) to heal us (James 5:14-15) and even to make us wealthy (2 Corinthians 9:11). But there are conditions to each of these promises, and in failing to teach these conditions, Prosperity Gospel teachers are misrepresenting the Word of God.
It’s clear that we come into the blessings of Scripture as we yield our lives to the Lord. For example, Matthew 6:33 says that the Lord will provide for those who make seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness their first priority. To me that means placing our entire life in His hands and doing the things He directs us to do. How many of us live this way?
People I know who are being blessed in this way live relatively simple lives and happily give away as much as half of their income. They understand that the Lord blesses us so we can give to the needs of others, not so we can enjoy a luxurious lifestyle while people around us suffer. They also know they’re storing up treasure in Heaven, where it will last forever (Matthew 6:20) instead of wasting their treasure on the things of this world. How many of us give this way?
And just about every time the Lord healed anyone, He said that it was their faith that made it possible. How many of us really believe that the Lord will supernaturally heal us? How many of us have ever even seen anyone healed this way?
In Romans 8:28 Paul said that God works everything together for the good of those who love Him. The word translated love there means to be totally given over to Him. How many of us love him this way?
In summary, it takes a commitment to developing and maintaining a very close subordinate relationship with the Lord to fully activate these promises, yielding every aspect of our lives to Him to do with as He pleases, just like Jesus did with His Father. This kind of love was much more prevalent in the years after the resurrection. It’s extremely rare today, but clearly necessary, and for that reason many prosperity gospel teachers who don’t explain these conditions will have to answer for their misleading instructions (James 3:1).
QUESTION: Do you believe that the Bible preaches prosperity, what you say is what you get, claiming your inheritance, etc? I have a friend who goes to a church that teaches if we need anything, we just have to ask God. But he says we have to speak it out loud in order to get it. He claims that by speaking it out loud we can bring it into existence just like God spoke the creation into existence. Do you believe this?
ANSWER: I believe that the Bible teaches us to have faith that God is able to meet all of our needs. Matt. 6:25-34 tells us if we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness He will provide everything we need. Paul confirmed this in Phil. 4:19 saying, “my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
And King David said if we delight ourselves in the Lord He will give us the desire of our hearts (Psalm 37:4).
I don’t think that this necessarily means that He’ll immediately grant all our wildest wishes, as if He’s some genie from a bottle. After all He’s the one who brings to light what is hidden in darkness and exposes the motives of our hearts (1 Cor. 4:5). He knows whether we have a legitimate need or are just being selfish or immature.
Different groups promote different formulas that according to them will get God to perform for them, but my relationship with Him is such that I don’t feel the need to use any of them. I know that He looks for opportunities to give good gifts to His children (Matt. 7:11) and I’m comfortable simply placing my needs before Him to do with as He pleases.
Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Once I agreed to let Him show me what He means by living abundantly, I began to experience a life that was much more fulfilling than the one I had built on my own.
QUESTION: I have a question about a popular TV preacher who’s always preaching, “God wants you to have lots of money, get the job, get the girl, etc”.
How many people have been extremely discouraged and feel like failures when this doesn’t happen for them? Maybe they even think God is punishing them by preventing them from attaining all that the prosperity teachers say they should have. What do you think of the prosperity gospel?
ANSWER: The Lord said that we should be living full, abundant lives (John 10:10), but there’s a basic flaw in the prosperity gospel and it has to do with motive. Many of the Bible verses upon which this gospel is built are being referenced incompletely or out of context, and because of that they appeal to our materialistic human nature instead of to our spiritual one.
Try to imagine the good that could result if prosperity gospel preachers would add the rest of the story. What if they taught about God using the same measure in blessing us as we use in giving to others (Luke 6:38), or about storing up treasure in Heaven instead of on Earth (Matt. 6:19-21) by using our resources to advance the work of the Kingdom, or about being made rich in every way so we can be generous on every occasion (2 Cor. 9:11).
But since they don’t, they are by and large the only ones who benefit from their message. And that makes them more manipulative than motivational, selling a distorted form of the gospel that appeals to mankind’s greed instead of his gratitude. I think those who teach the prosperity gospel this way have a lot to answer for.