Looking for some music that inspires (draws one closer to God) and at the same time relaxes? Perhaps one of my favorites will work for you. Namely, Gregorian chants.....3 hours worth, no less! Go ahead, sit back and give it a whirl.....
And if you just happen to like J-pop (I came by my affection for it naturally, having lived and worked on the enchanted isle for many years), try this golden oldie from "Morning Musume" (English subtitles) on for size:
Or if you are in "Jolly Roger" mood, how about?
Intimacy has many forms and expressions, as you know -- familial, romantic, sexual, and many others. You've got intimacy down pat, right? Now go do a Google search using the word intimacy and read a few of the articles concerning human relational intimacy (But skip the porno sites that may have gotten into your search results). After doing this I suspect you have found yourself questioning whether your mastery of intimacy is as thorough and complete as you thought it to be.
Now take this little self-reflection exercise a step further (provided you are a believer): do a Google search using the phrase (in parentheses) "Intimacy with God". I did it just now and turned up 524,000 websites, blog entries and what-have-you. Now read through a few of the top ranked articles on this subject.
You probably read a lot about "surrender", "transparency", "obedience" and such (All consistent with what the Bible articulates about the God-human relationship).
What intrigues me is that many writers on the subject have a lot of "how to" steps based, in whole or part, on biblical examples and notions of what tends to draw us closer to the Almighty as well as those things that can throw a monkey wrench in the achievement of intimacy with God or complicate its development over time. Some of these writer-pontificators draw on personal experience. All this is fine and good and is generally valid at various levels and in various ways, I'm sure. And, I suspect, few (if any) believers are so instinctively and spiritually adept (gifted) at establishing and maintaining intimacy with God as to obviate the need for biblical and extrabiblical guidance or other input, such as “how to” guides and personal accounts (I invoked "I suspect" because it is hard to know for sure without surveying all believers).
In addition, I also suspect that many believers either think intimacy (at least the deepest, most profound expression of it) with God is something that he unilaterally ordains, decrees and facilitates, or is a matter of individual volition in the sense of approaching God and having faith he will respond to this and then help or enable us to wade into the waters of intimacy with him (starting with "toes first" and then progressing slowly over time as millimeter by millimeter of our being is submerged), or is a mix of both.
Some may argue that truly genuine intimacy with God is something attained and sustained only by extraordinarily pure (holy), obedient and selfless souls, which naturally tends to bring to mind certain believer saints, prophets, seers, mystics and such.
Maybe intimacy with God has a bell curve aspect to it: you know, some folks fall at extreme ends of the curve with most believers falling in the middle.
If this is how things pan out over all, I do not for one minute believe that someone on the zero intimacy end of the curve cannot progress to the middle, or that someone in the middle cannot advance several standard deviations forward.
Is there some shortcut or way to quantum leap from “lowliness to holiness” (To borrow a phrase from one of my favorite movies, “Leap of Faith”)? I (ahem) suspect not. I do not think God makes available “instant sanctification (holiness)” (Would that he did! This naturally holds special appeal to we Boomers as well as later generations, all of whom who grew up with instant everything and books galore – now digital -- to inspire and pop psych us from “zero to hero”).
It has to take hard work, otherwise why did Messiah Yeshua command us to “Take up your cross and follow me”? There isn’t anything about dragging a heavy wooden cross through life that suggests instant sanctification, is there?
However, what I have seen and experienced are those moments of intimacy with God that are so rapturous that one is sorely tempted to believe “I’ve got it, by George”. Of course, disappointment follows – mainly that it wasn’t sustained without let up, day in and day out – but also because there is the awesome realization that intimacy with God is very likely infinite in the sense it unfolds and deepens without there being any oceanic end point or completion (There is no destination, just the eternal process).
Go and Sin No More: A Call to Holiness by Dr. Michael L. Brown
Purity of Heart by Rev. Bert M. Farias
My review of Rev. Farias's book on Amazon.com:
Rev. Farias has done it again, by George!, August 2, 2017
Dr. Anthony G. Payne
This review is from: The Real Jesus (Paperback)
Rev. Farias has definitely done it again. By this, I mean the Reverend's book "The Real Jesus" like his many others distills down essential truths and insights using straightforward logic and prose. One of my favorite Fariasisms can be found on page 51: "Truth sounds like hate to those who hate the truth". Amen and amen. This book is a keeper and one I will be buying copies of for friends, associates, family and others.
© 2017 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.
Ekklesia: Rediscovering God’s Instrument for Global Transformation by Dr. Ed Silvoso
Following Messiah and living the faith authentically is countercultural & radical. One way to do so is in community as a lay monk or nun (Married or single is OK)
We live in a time when a great many churches and evangelical organizations have taken the teachings, instructions and life example of the Yeshua HaMashiach ("Jesus the Messiah") and transformed it into an "Americanized" version that essentially enthrones self, minimizes or eliminates repentance, conversion, discipleship and sacrifice, requires little in the way of genuine spiritual empowerment and growth (while heavily promoting anything that inflates the ego and one's bank account), and which in-a-word calls good evil, and evil good.
Actually this "Americanization" of core Christian beliefs and practices has been going on for centuries (And was preceded by an egregious twisting of scriptures and beliefs by ecclesiastical movers and shakers dating back to the "Church Fathers"). However, based on what I saw and experienced growing up as a boy in the 1960s and 1970s (in Texas and Louisiana), this trend of pushing aside scriptural boundaries and by so doing compromising Christian beliefs and practices jumped from "sublight" to "warp" speed during those tumultuous decades. Of course, the resulting syncretic religiosocial mess, which was supposed to enlighten and liberate, instead enslaved and has relentlessly worked its dark magic ever since.
Thankfully, there's always been "awakenings" and "revivals" -- that is, calls for repentance and a return to genuinely Bible consistent living & conduct -- such as that of the Jesus (people) movement which surfaced in the 1970s and the New Monasticism movement which was essentially born in the 1980s. Naturally, these movements and the communities they spawned have focused on living, loving, sharing & sacrificing as Messiah did, which puts them at odds with the dominant American culture including most mainstream Christian denominations. In short, they are both countercultural and radically Christian.
Now this brings me to you. If you are a grafted-in (Romans 11:9) believer (evangelical, Charismatic/neopentecostal, Catholic, Protestant, nondenominational) who is drawn to living the faith as a monastic, then I would encourage you to consider becoming a lay monk or nun. You do not have to leave your job or residence to do this, though for those who are called to the monastic life in residence with likeminded others there will be such an option in the future. Email me for particulars (much is in-progress!) at FounderAbbot@gmail.com. I will get back to you as quickly as possible.
12 marks of the new monasticism
Did the Almighty send an emissary to the ancient Cahokian (American Indian) people?
"Prophecy: Native Americans Hold the Key to Spiritual Awakening" (Charisma News 5-9-2017)
Rev. Bert M Farias has written many books, which without exception "cores the apple" (i.e., boils down topical issues & concerns to core truths and insights). Most run under 100 pages. The Reverend's latest work is "The Real Jesus" (96 pages) which you can read about & order (for $10) here https://goo.gl/dMwUHY (Amazon).
Rev. Farias shares quotes from his literary handiwork on his ministry website at https://goo.gl/4G0yHK
Look for my own (admittedly minor) contribution to Rev. Farias's tome on page 8! (Text cut & pasted below)
“Sadly, I think many in the community of believers cling to an Americanized gospel which equates what is biblically true and reliable with being part and parcel of various right-wing political agendas. Actually, Christianity itself in the US and many other nations has been interpreted (and by virtue of this) rewritten to gel with sentiments and ideas that actually run contrary to what the Messiah taught and advocated (Torah-based Judaism), e.g., unbridled capitalism and the greed it is predicated on and the corruption it engenders and promotes. I dare say if Yeshua HaMashiach physically visited most American churches, He would not recognize what was being taught and advocated as being remotely like what He articulated and lived.” ~Dr. Anthony G. Payne~
On January 20th of this year (2017), messianic rabbi Jonathan Cahn spoke before a gathering of members of the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast Committee, the US government, various ambassadors, ministers and others in Washington, D.C. What Cahn went on to share has been characterized as a "prophetic word", which I tend to agree is the case in the sense he delivered a powerful, spirit-inspired summary of this nation's moral failures and missteps along with a heartfelt admonition to repent, which is to say turn our backs on these sins and failings and bring our future words & deeds into accord with God's law (A better translation of "law" in Hebrew is "instructions" according to some scholars).
Here is a link to Rabbi Cahn's full speech along with a salient except from same:
Jonathan Cahn's Last Words to Obama and Charge to President Trump
"But something happened to the city on the hill. As the people of ancient Israel, in the midst of their blessings, committed a fatal error, so too have we. We have turned away from God. We've ruled Him out of our culture, out of our government, out of our lives, and banned Him from our public squares.
"In His place we have brought in idols of carnality and gain, and gods of materialism and licentiousness. We have replaced the eternal standards of righteousness for a new morality of immorality. The nation that was brought forth to fill the world with the light of God, now fills the earth with pornography. And what we once knew to be sin, we now call good, and what we once knew to be right, we now call intolerant and dangerous. And those who held true to God and His Word, were now marginalized, mocked, and vilified. We have become a civilization inverted, at war against the foundation upon which it had been established, and against the God of its foundation.
"We have descended to the darkest of sins. Israel killed thousands of its children on the altars of Baal. But we have killed millions. We've offered up our unborn children on the altars of self-obsession. It was here in this city that their murder was legalized forty four years ago. And their blood cries out to Heaven against us."
Also check out Biblical prophecy is primarily about Israel & the Jewish people, not America! which includes a brief look at Rabbi Cahn's bestselling book "The Harbinger".
One of my favorite country singers, Reba McIntire, recently released an album of spiritual, inspirational songs titled "Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope". One of the songs ("Back to God") was posted on YouTube and has already racked up over 2 million views.
Miss Reba and I share a few "life overlaps": We are both 61 years of age, country bred and have ties to Oklahoma (She was born & reared there. My late maternal Choctaw grandfather and his family came to North Texas from southern Oklahoma by covered wagon in 1909). The comparisons end there though, as McIntire has the looks and golden voice of an angel, while I am often mistaken for Mr. McGoo's older brother.
One other thing: Sometimes a powerful sermon is woven into a song. Miss Reba's "Back to God" is certainly this and more. Whenever I listen to it -- which is fairly often I must confess -- I can almost see the psalmist King David and legions of angels singing along with her.
Depending on which way your political sympathies fell (and presumably your vote) in the recent Presidential election (2016), you are probably either screaming "bloody murder" or else ecstatically happy or somewhere in-between.
What intrigues me are the many clerics and Charismatic/neopentecostal prophets who are proclaiming that Donald Trump is a modern day Cyrus the Great, meaning he is God's anointed leader who will save American from its downward _____ (fill in the blank = moral, financial, economic, military, etc.) spiral.
Well, if President-Elect Trump is our modern day Cyrus, God is going to have to get busy and do a work on his heart and ways, as he did in Cyrus's. According to the Hebrew Scriptures the good Lord made Cyrus ethical and guided his ways so as to be "direct", i.e., consistent with God's own will including his ordained moral and ethical precepts and commands (Isaiah 45:1-13). I have yet to detect such in Trump. To the contrary, he still talks and walks like a psychopathic CEO whose behavior provides textbook examples of megalomania, malignant narcissism and paranoia.
However, as I am not a psychologist or mental health exert, I will leave the diagnostic work to those reading this who are.
Personally, I would love to believe that Trump will do more good than harm. But there is so much about his actions and words that remind me of historical accounts of how authoritarian and fascist politicians (in the 1920s and beyond) courted various factions in their countries including leading Christian religious leaders and denominations, then used them to nefarious ends all the while plotting their "transformation" or elimination.
Right now Dr. Pat Robertson and his cohosts on CBN's 700 Club send a portion of each show fawning over Trump's election victory while cherry picking through the news in ways that emphasize Mr. Trump's so-called virtues -- while conveniently glossing over or ignoring the many things he says and does that are alarming and depict a man who seems to epitomize the very lawlessness the Bible decries and denounces.
Now, while I in no way equate Mr. Trump's personality or actions with those of with another (oft invoked) political "messiah", Adolf Hitler, I find it an insightful study in contrasts to juxtapose Dr. Robertson & company's unbridled faith in Trump and what he is doing and will do for America, with CBN's own segment on how the patron saint of evil (Hitler) spoke in similar terms of what he would do for Germany (in the 1930s) and how adroitly he manipulated the news media of his day and Germany's Catholic and Protestant leaders to buy into this (with tragic results): http://www.cbn.com/tv/2305162768001?mobile=false (And this in ways that Trump eerily mirrors today)
If God does intervene and makes Trump's path ethical and "direct", then he could very well wind up doing more good than harm during his four year term as America's 45th President. But if Trump's path remains unchanged, I suspect Dr. Robertson and many others who share his political worldview will find themselves lamenting Trump's reign and depicting him not as a blessing to America, but as judgment...or worse...a curse on the land.
Food for thought from Summer Cloud
On August 19 2016 Rev. Bert M. Farias published a blog entry titled "Heaven is out home" which contained this concerning the awareness of denizens of God's realm of all that transpires on this one:
"Since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us" (Heb. 12:1).
This huge crowd of men of faith or cloud of witnesses does not observe us from a mere natural standpoint. They are not concerned about our earthly status in the sense of our wealth, prestige, or reputation. They are not concerned about how many houses, lands, cars, or material possessions we own. They are mainly concerned about one thing: The condition of our spiritual lives, and the salvation of sinners and maturity of the saints.
For example, the late Kenneth E. Hagin had an Enoch-like experience he describes in his book, "Following God's Plan For Your Life", where he was taken up to heaven. There he saw his sister Oleta, who had died of cancer at just 45 years of age. Hagin was allowed to talk to her. She told him since her arrival in heaven that she had already seen several family members, while expressing concern for others on the earth who were presently away from God. She told Brother Hagin that he should talk to her eldest son about the Lord and that he would listen to him. These things are real friends. Heaven knows what goes on spiritually down here on the earth. What an incentive to run our race and fulfill God's plan for our lives! What an incentive to finish strong! What an incentive to be about our Father's business!"
What Rev. Farias was sharing falls in line in some ways with the Roman Catholic teachings concerning the "Communion of Saints" (which should not be confused with the forbidden conjuring up of spirits). As readers of this blog may know, I converted to Roman Catholicism in my early 20s (but was spirit baptized and entered the Charismatic movement well before this) and later gravitated into the messianic movement in a quest for the original body of beliefs and practices held by followers of Yeshua HaMashiach ("Jesus the Messiah").
I am intrigued by Rev. Farias's thoughts on the "Communion of Saints" but especially that of the late Rev. Kenneth Hagin. The reason Hagin's account is especially interesting to me lies in the fact I encountered the reality of the "cloud of witnesses" some thirty five years ago. Got your attention? Here is my personal account:
In the fall of 1980 I contracted a devastating pulmonary infection that eventually subsided but left me with lung scarring and reduced lung capacity. During this time I read how Saint Bernadette Soubirous (Lourdes) had died of pulmonary disease at a young age (I actually corresponded with Sister Noel who was serving in the convent at St. Gildard in Nevers, France, about Bernadette. Sister Noel's order - the Sisters of Charity of Nevers -- is part of Lourdes and as I learned she was a missionary in Japan when WWII broke out who wound up a prisoner of the Imperial Army. She was in Hiroshima when the bomb fell and survived this, contracted leukemia, and survived this too). Long story short: I knew better than to get into necromantic activities, so what I did was ask God to have St Bernadette (along with other saints in his presence) intercede for me. Almost immediately I had an interior vision of the diminutive French saint kneeling and praying -- facing an indescribably bright blue-white light which I knew was the Almighty (The first of a series of such visions that stretched across a handful of months*). I could hear Bernadette praying in a French sounding dialect which was instantaneously translated as she spoke. I then heard the Spirit tell me this saint would be one of those who intercede for me in perpetuity (that is, for the remainder of my earthly sojourn). Cutting to the chase: my pulmonary challenges reversed leaving few vestiges. In addition, I have had an awareness ever since of the intercessory activity of St. Bernadette (But have never, ever attempted to "conjure her up" in order to engage in dialog as this would constitute a form of necromancy. In my case, I make my petitions known to God who then involves the "communion of saints" including Bernadette).
Protestant and Catholic clerics, theologians and parishioners have rightly condemned necromancy among believers and others though some missed the fact that there is no sin in asking God to assign intercessors who "have his ear".
No matter what your personal position is on the "Communion of Saints", the overriding question is your relationship with God (Not mental assent but your becoming "one new man"). Not sure what is means or perhaps you think you have it worked out but are not sure? If so, grab a copy of "The Real Salvation" and once you have read and acted on this, buy/borrow and carefully, slowly read Dr. Robert D. Heidler's "The Messianic Church Arising".
* The visions varied as to when they occurred and how Bernadette was attired and what she said or carried in her hands. I manipulated every variable I could to see if I could alter or banish the visions, but could not. I kept a written record of these visions which is under lock and key in Dallas (A storage unit I maintain there).
How do you feel about "celebrity preachers"? Especially those clerics who bend over backwards to make truth "listener friendly, palatable and unlikely to offend"? Was this the MO of the Messiah? During his earthly ministry he went about upsetting these sorts of people whenever he crossed paths with them. He was never reticent about pointing out sin and hypocrisy, though whenever someone he was addressing was hit with conviction he invariably offered a way to be forgiven and then live in obedience to the Almighty's instructions (Torah). He definitely didn't feed them an excuse for their sins followed by a positive affirmation or mantra to repeat throughout the course of each new day.
Thankfully, many clerics, monks, nuns, religion writers and commentators, Bible scholars and teachers, and involved laypeople are now railing against "the cult of celebrity pastors" I would like to bring 2 especially dynamic and outspoken ones to your attention:
Pastor Duke Tabor who just posted "Warning: Don't Read This If You Admire Celebrity Pastors" which you can access at http://www.viralbeliever.com/grow/teachings/warning-dont-read-this-if-you-admire-celebrity-pastors/?utm_content=buffer4fb6e&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer
And Rev. Bert M. Farias who has written passionately about sin, repentance (teshuva), obedience, etc. and how many "superstar ministers" downplay, skirt or just flat out ignore these core Gospel teachings. One of the good Reverend's articles on the latter topic is titled "Beware of Superstar, Self-Appointed Church Personalities" which you can access at http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/the-flaming-herald/45699-beware-of-superstar-self-appointed-church-personalities .
Here is a analytic thought exploriment for you: Sit down and juxtapose current events (especially the darker side of the news) with the prophecies in both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. I suspect that if you weren't concerned about where civilization is headed before this exercise, you likely will be afterwards.
If you happen to be a Baby Boomer you probably have watched a succession of popular books and films on eschatology themes ("End of Era" events and corresponding prophecies) such as those of Hal Lindsey (Author of the bestselling 1970 book, "The Late Great Planet Earth") come and go. A look back through these makes it very clear that nailing down the "End Times" is an iffy enterprise. However, today events are unfolding that line up with ancient prophecies in ways that are both starling and difficult to dismiss or gloss over.
And it isn't believers in the mainstream religions that are blogging and tweeting on "End Times" prophecy. The Web abounds with fearful speculation on the part of people who are more secular in their thinking than religious or spiritual.
Many people are turning to prophecy teachers for help in piecing together and understanding what is unfolding. They are not so much asking "Is this stuff true?" but, rather, are saying things like "The books of Daniel and Revelation (among others) are being fulfilled right before our eyes. But are we yet in the End Times?"
There is no lack of books and videos by prophecy experts who have tackled this question. One of most cogent recent books (which I recommend) is Sid Roth's book* "Sooner Than You Think: A Prophetic Guide to the End Times".
I have read Roth's book and probably one hundred other recent tomes on the subject, distilled down what I deem on target, and come up with the following tentative conclusions:
First off, I do, yes, believe we are on the cusp of what is so oft called "The End Times". However, with this said I do not believe we are not as close as some writers and believers think, although things could come together quickly to herald in the "final chapter".
We are, I believe, at a crossroads in history in which the timing of prophetic events rests with what people (especially believers) do or don't do. If for instance, believers intercede and begin behaving themselves and eschewing sin, then I believe the Almighty will give humankind more time before the seven year "Great Tribulation" kicks off. But if believers do not make teshuvah (i.e., repent& then do what is pure, right & holy) and get their ducks in a row in every respect, the Great Tribulation could commence in no time at all.
Here is what I am certain must happen that will signal we are entering the seven year Great Tribulation:
Before I get into the meat of the matter, let me share some thoughts on the very popular line of speculation that states a future Mahdi will be the Anti-Messiah, i.e., a phony messiah who gives lip service to keeping the rules governing Jewish conduct laid out in Torah but whose actions will encourage lawlessness. This is illogical as the prophesied Anti-Messiah is a false messiah, and the only way this man could qualify as messiah Jews will accept is to be Jewish. However, with this said it is possible the anticipated Mahdi could fulfill the prophesized role of "False Prophet".
Now for a rundown of "what's coming down the pike" including those specific events that precede and declare that "The Great Tribulation Lies Immediately Ahead":
(1) There will be a war in the Middle East in which Iran, Syria and other Arab countries will try to attack & conquer Israel. This is prophesied in Psalms 83. This invasion will fail. However, I believe that during the attack an Arab or other missile will veer off its prescribed path and strike and destroy the Dome of the Rock (The one major physical impediment to the rebuilding of the Temple). Damascus will also be utterly destroyed. As a result of Israel's victory, she will also acquire vast new territory and think herself safe. Walls will come down and a false sense of invulnerability will take hold.
(2) With the Dome of the Rock gone and the Islamic world paralyzed by widespread destruction, Israel will be commence building the Third Temple unopposed and, following its completion, resume animal sacrifices for sin (Check out The Temple Institute's website at https://www.templeinstitute.org/ and http://www.jewishroots.net/library/end-times/rebuilding_the_temple.html).
(3) During this period of time the world will be in economic and social chaos, most likely due to the Psalms 83 Arab-Israeli war and the destruction of many oil refineries and other industrial complexes across the region (Not to mention nuclear contamination unleashed by the military destruction of Iranian nuclear facilities and any others in existence in the area at the time). Things will get so bad that it will seem as though the 1930s in Germany have come roaring back (As in it will take a wheelbarrow of money to buy a loaf of bread). Stocks and such will likely become worthless or nearly so. And, as you might expect, It is during this dire time -- when the world is desperate for leadership that will set things right -- that the Anti-Messiah will rise to power rapidly and forge a peace treaty that will formally end Arab-Israeli hostilities (A prophesied 7 year peace covenant)..
(4) At the mid-point of his reign, the Anti-Messiah will enter the Temple in Jerusalem and declare that he is not only the Jewish messiah, but divine or semi-divine to boot (A malignant narcissist whose self-serving evil will dwarf that of his "spiritual predecessor and twin", Adolf Hitler). This will result in the Jewish people (among others including genuine Christian believers) turning against the evil one's regime.
(5) Following the Anti-Messiah's sacrilegious announcement, the "Wrath of Satan" laid out in the book of Revelation will then begin. This includes almost 3.5 full years of persecution (Jews and believers) and the inauguration of a cashless economic system in which only those who embrace the Anti-Messiah as their source and take his "mark" (radio frequency identification biochip most likely) will have access to goods & services. The church will see the "Great Apostasy" unfold quickly, as many believers will be expecting to be spared the Great Tribulation and will be unable to deal with living in the midst of it (A great many will willingly receive the implant and even turn against believers who do not). Apparently, though, there will be "cities of refuge" in which genuine believers who have God's favor will be able to escape the reach of the Anti-Messiah.
(6) Towards the end of the 3.5 year Great Tribulation period, perhaps about 45 days before the final curtain goes down, God's Wrath will be loosed on the inhabitants of this planet. As believers will not be subject to this, they will be transported to Heaven (Parousia or Rapture). They and all the saints in Glory will return with Messiah at the end of this period of God's Wrath to restore & inaugurate the Almighty's reign over men.
So, bottom-line -- once people see the Psalm 83 war, the construction of the Third Temple, the stage, and the enactment of a 7 year peace treaty between Israel and her Arab neighbors (and possibly others), the Great Tribulation will be at-hand. I am hoping and praying this will not happen for many decades yet. However, if believers (and it is they and not unbelievers who stay God's anger with sin) continue to "play church", chase women, drink heavily, and pretty much do whatever the world offers in the way of pleasure & narcissistic self-indulgence, the Great Tribulation could be realized within a few year's time.
The good news is that many, many ministers, priests and others - men and women who have been given the gift of prophecy by the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), - are saying a Great Awakening (like those in past history such as the one spearheaded by John Wesley) is coming to America and to other lands as well. Many of these spiritual turnaround periods lasted for decades. If this one does, then the Great Tribulation will (I posit) come to pass in the 2060s.
* Readers interested in hearing what Sid Roth has to share from his book and other sources, should click this link (Video)
Robert Van Kampen’s “The Sign” (1992) and his “The Rapture Question Answered: Plain and Simple” (1997)
2015-2070: Red moons, ancient prophecies, and more
Church Is Facing a Dietrich Bonheoffer Moment
Biblical prophecy is primarily about Israel & the Jewish people, not America!
A world gone mad and what lies ahead
YOUR “GET SPIRITUALLY EMPOWERED CRASH COURSE”:
But let me add this caveat: A lot of Christian theology and beliefs (including portions of the books above) draw on the very flawed letters (epistles) of Paul (Saul of Tarsus). It is therefore important that you also acquire the knowledge and insight to identify what is edifying and true from what is not. These two free, online resources will help you mightily in this regard:
Jesus’ Words Only (Second Edition 2007) (Free online in its entirety) by Douglas J. Del Tondo, Esq.
ARE YOU IN AN ADULTEROUS MARRIAGE?
If you are in a 2nd (or..etc.) marriage you need to dig into these websites:
© 2015 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.
As a boy I grew up in the shadow of books filled with "End Times" scenarios in which America figures prominently. This puzzled me then -- as it does now -- as the focus of Biblical prophecy is Israel and the Jewish people and not the US (Which seems either altogether absent or else alluded to as one of the "End Times" players who prove a thorn in the side of the false messiah's plans to invade Israel with his armies and force on the Jewish state that which it categorically rejects, i.e., acknowledgement of his being the Almighty or his equivalent or some such abomination.
Lately many prominent Christian writers and preachers are waving works on "The Blood Moons" as well as Jonathan Cahn's "The Harbinger" about as powerful indications that the "End Times" are upon us Maybe they are, but not because of what is laid out in the various books and DVDs on "the Blood Moons" or Cahn's "The Harbinger" (or any spin-offs of these). These critical looks at both ably dismember and lay bare the falsity of their premises:
A critical biblical analysis of "The Harbinger": http://www.biblicalintegrity.org/2012/04/26/harbinger-fact-fiction/
12+ minute video exposing the deep flaws in prophetic interpretations that pivot on "The Blood Moons" (Tetrad of 2014-2015): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--kA2-5z2zI
Is America and the world in general in the grips of natural and human-made events that could signal the "march to Armageddon"? Some are now arguing prophecies in the books of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelations will be fulfilled twixt between now and 2024, while others argue for fulfillment further down the road.
It is, of course, tempting to think current horrific events and the spread of evil regimes in many parts of the world forebodes only the worst lies ahead. This seems logical but does not necessarily mean the proverbial end is at-hand. Sadly, many people here in the US seem blissfully unaware of or else have forgotten how much worse things were in just about every respect in the US and Europe and elsewhere during the Great Depression and what followed. During this period drought effected 46 of the 48 states, the "Dust Bowl" raged across the Great Plains burying farms and hope under tons of dirt, a quarter to one third of workers were unemployed, banks and Wall Street were for a time poorly or inadequately regulated with predictable consequences, there was no system to insure a retirement income or pension for aging people (Social Security became law thanks to the passing of progressive legislation spearheaded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his administration), and so forth.
This and the spread of fascism across Europe and Asia (followed by the diplomatic and then swift military victories of Nazi Germany & Imperial Japan) led many American preachers to conclude that they had to be living in the "End Times". Here in America, Louisiana's Huey "Kingfish" Long stated that that fascism would come to America as antifascism (Some contend he said, "It will come as Americanism"); aviation hero Col. Charles Lindbergh visited Nazi Germany and then made speeches back home in which he characterized Hitler's vast military machine as pretty much "invincible"; Roman Catholic priest Father Charles Coughlin promoted fascist thinking and antisemitism on the radio and had a substantial following and many sympathizers; and many American college and university academics were pro-Nazi.
My mother, who grew up on her parent's (my grandparent's) farm outside Lubbock, Texas in the 1930s, drove home just how long a shadow Nazi Germany cast in America in the 1930s: As a little girl she saw American and Nazi flags hung outside more than a few homes (German descended Americans mostly, as she recalled). Also, the board of directors of one of the biggest banks in this West Texas town were so impressed with the "good" Hitler had done in Germany that they commissioned the creation of a huge marble eagle & swastika sculpture, which was then hauled up the side of the bank building and affixed to it. As this building was the tallest one in Lubbock at the time, just about everyone who came within miles of it saw this celebration of Nazism on display (The sculpture & flags all disappeared by the outbreak of WWII on September 1, 1939).
She recalled, too, that as Hitler's armies rolled across Europe many local ministers began preaching that they were surely in the "End Times". Many felt there little doubt but that Hitler was the prophesied Antichrist (Anti-messiah) and Nazi propagandist and idolater, Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels, the "False Prophet".
Of course, the "End Times" in this instance came to the various fascist regimes and the economic & natural calamities that preceded and enabled their rise to power.
This is not to say that we are not in or headed towards the prophesied climax of history and all that follows (As depicted in ancient prophecies in the Tanakh and in the book of Revelations). But, what I hope to impart is a cautionary note concerning forgetting that Israel and the Jewish people are the focus of these prophecies and not America. Also, those tempted to believe things are vastly worse for Americans now than anytime in the recent past need to go back and spend some time getting intimately acquainted with the history of the 20th century, especially the late 1920s through the mid-1940s. One good place to start IMO is Ken Burn's new series "The Roosevelts" (PBS). I especially recommend watching episode #5: http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/the-roosevelts/watch-videos/
Towards the end of the July 27, 2014 edition of "Face the Nation", host Bob Schieffer had this to say:
SCHIEFFER: Trying to understand the news of this terrible summer, it's hard to come away with any feeling, but that we are in the midst of a world gone mad (Emphasis mine).
On one side of the world, an ego-driven Russian leader seems to yearn for the time of the czars, when rulers started wars on a whim or a perceived insult, and, if people died, so be it.
In the Middle East, the Palestinian people find themselves in the grip of a terrorist group that has embarked on a strategy to get its own children killed in order to build sympathy for its cause, a strategy that might actually be working, at least in some quarters.
Last week, I found a quote of many years ago by Golda Meir, one of Israel's early leaders, which might have been said yesterday. "We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children," she said, "but we can never forgive them for forcing us to kill their children."
In a world gone mad, what is to be learned? (Emphasis mine) Perhaps we should start by remembering what historian Will Durant once said. "Barbarism, like the jungle, does not die out, but only retreats behind the barriers that civilization has thrown up against it, and waits there always to reclaim that to which civilization has temporarily laid claim."
Back in a minute.
Click this link to access this particular segment of FTN as well as a transcript of it.
"In a world gone mad...."
When you consider the "bitter fruit" of global warming such as droughts in diverse places (poised to become a "super drought" in California according to some scientists), along with earthquakes all along the Pacific Rim, the outbreak and spread of Ebola in Africa, the march back to the Dark Ages in the Middle East (The "Islamic State" or "Caliphate") complete with horrific public executions including beheadings, crucifixions, burial of people alive, stonings, and such, and all the unrest, turmoil, intolerance and injustice manifest across the globe, it is tempting to call Bob Schieffer's comment a gross understatement.
Naturally, speculation abounds as to what all this represents in terms of what lies ahead. Pastors, prophecy teachers and such on TBN and CBN are pretty much convinced we are in the "End Times" and things will get far worse, culminating in a litany of horrors reflected in the pages of the biblical books of Daniel and Revelations (among others) before God steps in and presses the reset button.
We humans have brains wired to detect patterns and the confluence of events unfolding right now make it difficult to deny that one way or the other life is truly imitating art (Which is to say events are lining up with ancient prophecies). Many will pooh pooh this, although to my way of thinking this is akin to a farmer sitting on his porch denying that the supercell sweeping his fields portents destruction.
Is it possible to determine exactly what's next on the "prophetic hit parade"? Not exactly beyond saying current downward and troubling trends will continue to worsen and pick up speed. But as I like to analyze and speculate -- and freely admit I get things wrong and have to revise and in some instances toss pet hypotheses on the "discard heap" - I will at least share some things I feel will take place albeit I have no idea of exactly when:
The Islamic State will ultimately be contained albeit with great loss of life.
A major regional war will be fought in the Middle East possibly as part of containing ISIS and other terrorist forces (Best guess - sometime during 2015-2016)
Enemies of Israel, both terrorist groups and nations, will attempt to conquer her. These forces will ultimately be defeated at a tremendous loss of life especially among their ranks. As part of the fighting the Dome of the Rock will be destroyed, possibly by an accidental missile strike on the site by anti-Israeli forces. Israel's geographical boundaries will expand greatly.
The "great war" depicted above will trigger global economic upheaval which will require radical measures to remediate.
Israel will construct the Third Temple.
Economic, natural and other disasters will intensify unrest and chaos throughout most if not all of the world. Many will begin to long for a "strong arm" government that will cut corners and restore order and contain crime, terrorism and military adventurism.
Like Germany in the 1920s-1930s, a charismatic leader and his idolatrous propagandist, a false prophet (Messiah? Some contend the leader will be the false messiah and not the false prophet), will rise to prominence and attain great influence within and outside Israel (Historic parallel: Hitler and his Minister of Propaganda & Public Enlightenment, Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels). Although ostensibly a peacemaker, the latter day Fuhrer will not show his true colors until he enters the Third Temple in Jerusalem and commits sacrilege. Ancient prophecies indicate that this evil man will be literally inhabited by HaSatan at this point and, with his false prophet (false messiah?), will use faith (false religion), technology and economics to control the peoples and nations that fall under his shadow (No access to ATMs, bank accounts, the Internet, etc. without being part of his essentially dictatorial system). Naturally, both men's lawlessness (subversion of & opposition to Torah) will come to light quickly resulting in their being widely opposed by the Jewish people, genuine Godfearers and others.
Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute discusses the coming of this false prophet in a 12m:25s video teaching segment at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6MXcdBI5cU&feature=youtu.be. Here is what is posted immediately below this video clip:
Published on Aug 20, 2014
Who is that false prophet that Torah warns us against? How can he perform wonders if he is false, and if he is false why does he appear? Why does G-d empower him to perform wonders, if not to ensnare Israel? There are many false prophets today in the business of making false promises promising peace and prosperity if only Israel will turn her back on G-d's Torah. We have been warned!
One variant on what I've outlined above -- which focuses on Islam and its role in "end times" events is Joel Richardson's e-book Will Islam Be Our Future? A Study of Biblical and Islamic Eschatology at http://www.answering-islam.org/Authors/JR/Future/index.htm ( Richardson's e-book is free & online in its entirety).
Others hold to a different spin on Islam's role in future events and foresee the anti-Messiah coming out of the West: http://www.prophecyinthenews.com/an-islamic-antichrist/
The "final Fuehrer" and his propagandist will institute draconian measures to contain and eradicate dissent and eliminate those who refuse to be a part of their fiendish political-economic-false religious system.
At any rate, the true messiah will be revealed to Israel and the world and be instrumental in ending the reign of terror unleashed by the charismatic leader and his idolatrous propagandist. Judgment and the messianic age will begin.
Will the "end time" prophecies all be fulfilled in a short period of time - say between 2015 and 2024 (as some prophecy teachers have proclaimed) -- or will they unfold over a greater span of time? This is difficult if not impossible to say for sure. A lot depends on what people do -- or don't do. But whether all will unfold "right around the corner" or over a period of forty or fifty or more years, it would be wise for all of us to move away from compromised values and other forms of disobedience (sin) and conform to what the Almighty has laid out in scriptures.
Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
Having trouble making sense of the Book of Revelations? Then head on over to
For Christians who subscribe to a pretribulation rapture: Shove aside those "Left Behind" movies & books and grab a copy of Robert Van Kampen's The RAPTURE QUESTION Answered: Plain & Simple
Evil on the march.
Believe as we do or be marked and ostracized,
or even killed.
Men who confuse rape & murder & mayhem...
with divine approval.
Devoid of truth they are,
veins filled with venomous blood,
knowing history but having learned nothing from it.
Men who make victims and blame them,
and dare to call this wise, holy or true.
Men who callously abuse others and call this righteous,
but know nothing of righteousness.
Men who cast stones at so-called sinners,
while ignoring far greater sins in their own lives.
Men who look to inherit Heaven.
and make hell their abode.
Evil on the march....
Doomed to be consumed by the very the darkness they've unleashed.
© July 2014 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.
Isaiah 56:3-8 from "The Jewish Study Bible" (JPS Tanakh Translation)
3 Let not the foreigner say, who has attached himself to the Lord, "The Lord will keep me apart from His people"; And let not the eunuch say, "I am a withered tress"
4 For thus said the Lord, "As for the eunuchs who kept my sabbaths, who have chosen what I desire, and hold fast to My covenant --
5 I will give them, in My House,
And within My walls,
A monument and a name
Better than sons or daughters.
I will give them an everlasting name which shall not perish.
6. As for the foreigners,
Who attach themselves to the Lord,
To minister to Him,
And to love the name of the Lord,
To be His servants --
All who keep the Sabbath and do not profrain it,
And who hold fast to My covenant --
7 I will bring them to My sacred mount
And let them rejoice in My house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings & sacrifices
Shall be welcome in My altar;
For My House shall be called
A house of prayer for all peoples".
8 Thus declared the Lord God, who gathers the dispersed of Israel:
"I will gather still more to those already gathered"
If you grew up embracing the Americanized Jesus I'd like you to take a moment and read Jesus and Yeshua: An Examination of Cultural Icons. This insightful article was written by a perceptive young man named Jeriah Bowser who is the Ecology & Sustainability Department chair at the Hampton Institute.
Naturally, we all tend to endorse views that parallel or even mirror our own, and I am no exception. However, while we all cherry-pick reality to varying degrees, the thrust of critical biblical scholarship does IMO tend to favor Bowser's perspective (Which is one I pretty much arrived at many moons ago).
If you elect to shoot over to the Hamilton Institute website to read Jeriah's spin on the rabbi from Nazareth, check out his many other well thought out articles. If you happen to favor the ideals and activism of Capt. Paul Watson and his Sea Shepherd Conservation Society you will likely enjoy To Wrench or Not to Wrench: A Brief History of Direct Action in the Environmental Movement and its Potential Consequences, Ethical Implications, and Effectiveness. As one who embraced Watson's cause and many others that broadly fall within the "deep ecology" rubric (starting back in the early 1980s), I am pleased to see a young writer (Bowser) waving deep ecology principles about in his writings. Referring to the aforementioned article, let me quote from Bowser's concluding remarks:
"One can only wonder what history will tell of those eco-warriors, those brave abolitionists of speciesism and ecocide, and those who dared to throw a monkey-wrench into the gears of capitalism in the name of the earth and all of her inhabitants. We must not wonder for too long, however, and neglect our duty to resist,to fight, to act."
Yeshua/Yehoshoa/Jesus was executed by the imperialists of his day for sedition; that is, bucking the entrenched powers and all they did to retain control over their victims....eh....subjects. While most of his focus was on the injustices, sins & other wrongs being perpetuated by the status quo religious and secular power holders & brokers of his day, I believe that were he were alive today he would be saying and doing things utterly at odds with American Christianity and very much in line with the deep ecology movement and the insights and activism of the Capt. Watson's of our age. And I'd wager a lot of what he would be advocating and railing against about would resonate with Bowser's writings and sentiments (and maybe even some of my own).
2015-2070: Red moons, ancient prophecies, and more ( Is the long awaited and dreaded "End Times" upon us? )
As a boy (1960s-70s) growing up in South in a world of fundamentalist & evangelical Christians I not infrequently heard pulpit & TV sermons about "The End Times" (Eschatology). Later Hal Lindsey's books (such as "The Late, Great Planet Earth") appeared and with this Christian "future think" consumed millions who might not have otherwise ever even heard of such speculation. Lindsey's peculation proved to be largely wrong but it was still good fun to mull over & debate. Of course, predictions were revised as they failed to materialize as one would expect.
There are, as you might expect, so many issues and problems connected with non-Jewish commentators & analysts trying to apply material written for Jewish audiences from a Jewish perspective (And even the earliest so-called Christian epistles and such on the subject were born in the early Jesus Movement which was Jewish in nature & outlook and led by Jesus's brother, Yaakov aka "James" which later non-Jewish scholars & such made a mess of interpreting & applying). You'll find many books that make "course corrections" at http://biotheorist.wordpress.com/?s=books (Just drop down to the RELIGION/SPIRTUALITY section)
With all this said, there are interesting bits of thinking, speculation & "future think" that point to the fulfillment of specific prophecies in the books of Daniel, Ezekiel and others (including portions of the early Jesus Movement spawned "book of Revelations") during the next 56 years. I've pieced these together and laid the more salient ones out below in the form of a simple chart of sorts.
And yes, anything done in the realm of eschatology is sure to be controversial and contested on everything from secular to religious-historical grounds to a blend of both. If what I've outlined below turns out to be very wrong so be it. To be honest, considering the horrific nature of various prophecies in the Tanakh and in early Christian writings I would much prefer being wrong than right.
Yom Kippur War 1967----->Yom Kippur 2015 (War ) -------> Fall 2063----> 2070
48 years 48 years 7 years
Ezekiel 35 war ---> Fall 2015 = http://www.prophecydepotministries.net/2012/ezekiel-35-the-arab-israeli-war-before-ezekiel-38/
Gog-Magog war (Ezekiel 38-39) --> Fall 2063
Founding of Israel 1948 ----------------------------------------------------------> 2070
116 years - 58 two year terms of office for Israel PMs [1 Enoch 90:5 -as interpreted by some biblical commentators & analysts as referring to prime ministers (shepherds) whose specific rule over Israel begins after its restoration which happened in 1948]
Click to access the Book of Enoch
From the destruction of the 2nd Temple - 70 CE ---> 2070 = Davidic Messiah reigns/messianic age
Do I know how to have fun or what?
© 2014 by Summer Cloud (Dr. Anthony G. Payne). All rights reserved.
Do you believe the Almighty ever spoke directly to an American Indian tribe? I do not mean face-to-face but through an emissary. I do and will now share with you the particulars behind my conviction that God/HaShem/The Great Spirit did reach out to the Cahokian peoples (American Indians, yes, but their exact ethnicity much less language is unknown):
Long before Columbus and other 15th century European explorers & adventurers landed in North America, there was the Cahokia, a Mississippian American Indian “mound building” people who thrived from about 750 CE to 1300 CE with their biggest city being about 6 miles from present day St. Louis. My own tribe, the Choctaw Nation, has its roots in the Mississippian culture which naturally makes Cahokia of great interest to me.
Sometime around 1000 AD a powerful leader appeared among the Cahokian peoples who had came down from the sun (Do not confuse this with sun worship. Most ancient American Indian tribes worshiped the “Great Spirit” behind the sun and not the gaseous ball of fire itself). Why was he sent? Basically he had come “from on high” because the Cahokian people were not running things really well (no core leadership) and most of them apparently thought they were a rule unto themselves and acted accordingly. He would now mediate between the Great Creator or Great Spirit and the Cahokian people.
This leader, who assumed the combined roles of a king and religious leader (Pope), lived atop a manmade mountain that was ten stories high and 16 acres at its base. He introduced seven (7) rules for living rightly:
1. Never kill anyone save in self-defense
2. Those mated/married should not have extramarital affairs (No adultery)
3. Never steal
4. Never lie
5. Never get drunk
6. Never be avaricious (Greedy)
7. Give freely with joy & share your subsistence with those in need
On reflecting on the 7 rules above, one can’t but think of the seven laws of Noah or the Noahide laws which are:
1. Do not murder
2. Do not commit sexual immorality
3. Do not steal
4. Do not commit idolatry
5. Do not commit blasphemy
6. Do not eat the flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive
7. Make courts to provide legal recourse & justice
While only 3 of 7 (~42%) are shared between the two sets of rules or laws, if one allows that the Almighty would communicate or inspire development of such codes that were fitted to the people he was dealing with and their relationships with each other as well as outsiders, such variance is understandable. Of course, a skeptic would argue these codes are a natural outgrowth of human logic, experience and foresight, which certainly makes sense. As such, one can adopt the secular spin and dismiss anything supernatural or other worldly, or one can embrace a more faith-based perspective (But in doing so it would be wrong to argue that what one believes is scientifically or historically validated).
I side with faith and believe that the great leader was an emissary of God/HaShem/The Great Spirit.
There is one thing that will likely offset many orthodox religionists and that is the fact that the Cahokians occasionally offered human sacrifices to the Almighty. It is important to keep in mind that such practices may have played some role in the Ancient Israelite culture which is alluded to in the Hebrew Scriptures in such passages as Judges 11:29-40 (in which Jephthah sacrifices his daughter Mizpah).
Whether you agree with me about the Cahokians and the “Sun Leader” or not, I would encourage you to learn more. If you prefer documentaries over books, procure a copy of “500 Nations” with Kevin Kostner (4 DVD disc set). Cahokia is discussed on disc 1. You can also catch this segment for free – if it is still up when you check – on-line at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Dr_Qqja4RY (If you only want to watch the part on the Cahokia go to 31m03s and enjoy).
If you want to delve into the archeological finds that have brought much of the ancient Cahokians to light, you should borrow or purchase a copy of anthropologist Dr. Timothy R. Pauketat’s “Ancient Cahokia and the Mississippians” (Cambridge University Press, © 2004 by Timothy R. Pauketat).
One thing I enjoy doing is listening to people speak their minds in settings where they feel they can be honest, even blunt. While growing up in North Texas (Lubbock, Plainview) I found farmers, ranchers and others most apt to honestly voice their opinions on things like the Civil Rights movement, feminism, hippies, Vietnam, Watergate, illicit drug use, the sexual revolution and a whole lot more in local coffee shops, diners, barber shops, bowling alleys, and snooker (billiards) parlors. Needless to say, what I heard often reflected ultra-conservative political thinking informed by fundamentalist Protestant religious beliefs and sometimes vestiges of antebellum thinking. I found much of this objectionable on many levels, sometimes vociferously objected to it, but still reveled in learning something about the fears, hopes and beliefs that animated their reasoning -- or flight from same.
Times change as do the things people fear, hope for, and believe in. After 9-11 and all that followed, Americans have naturally focused their attention on happening in the Middle East as well as domestic terrorist acts and failed or foiled terrorist plots. There are scientific surveys and analytic articles aplenty that focus on American concerns and beliefs and, yes, biases with regard to Muslims, Islam and such. For instance, there is this 2010 article that points out that only 6% of Muslims are involved in what can be characterized as terrorist activities: All Terrorists are Muslims…Except the 94% that Aren’t
Since scientific polls abound and there is no pressing need to reinvent that wheel, I decided to be unscientific and just listen in on what housewives, farmers, merchants, professionals and others in the Panhandle of Texas and northeastern Louisiana had to say concerning the “War on Terrorism”, Muslims and Islam. As you might expect, many expressed opinions that reflected a superficial and often incomplete or skewed knowledge of Islam and Muslim peoples (not only contemporary happenings & stances but those beliefs and actions on the part of followers of Islam down through history), often peppered with fearful “End Times” scenarios based on the writings or TV teachings of various fundamentalist & evangelical preachers. But, most were quick to add something to the effect that “there are rotten apples in every barrel including the Christian world and likely most Muslims are good people”. I came away with the impression that most of these folks felt it was the rotten apples that were making a mess of things and setting the stage for some kind of regional or global apocalypse.
Apocalyptic scenarios aside, we have a supreme historic example of what happens when a cultured, sophisticated people wind up handing a mandate to a whole barrel of rotten apples: Nazi Germany. The sad part is that once evil does gain the upper hand average people can get caught-up in perpetuating it either through direct participation, or simply by looking the other way as scapegoats or enemies are marginalized and hauled away and worse. Click to read my blog article How do you kill 12 million people? Evil then and now: Recognizing & containing it
Unlike the days preceding the rise of Nazi Germany and following on the heels of its 12 year reign of terror, it would seem people in traditionally Muslim nations in the Middle East do not favor dictators or regional wars that could escalate into a genuine world war (A world war being something many of the people I listened to in Texas and Louisiana feared might come to pass). Witness the “Arab Spring” and the many dictators since who have been toppled from power or who are facing this.
Of course, I am sure there are Muslims and others in their orbit who subscribe to narrow nationalist and religious extremist positions on various issues including Jews, Judaism and Israel. Some actually believe the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” (1903) and other such anti-Jewish hoax documents are genuine; that is, was really written by rabbis or others in the world Jewish community intent on “global domination” or other nefarious activities as opposed to it being the forged handiwork of anti-Jewish bigots (Click to read a Wikipedia breakdown of the support this fradulent anti-Jewish book has enjoyed in various parts of the Middle East). And by virtue of this it some of these misinformed people fear Jews in-general and Israel in particular. And yes, some probably do embrace terrorism in various guises or else support it in other ways, or if not this think of anti-Jewish attitudes and policies as somehow “enlightened”. We in the US are hardly immune to racist or anti-this-or-that-ethnic or religious group attitudes or biases, and have plenty of homegrown (though thankfully small & not terribly influential) extremist bigot groups and political parties.
Is there an antidote to biased thinking about Muslims and Islam? I can think of several. One, befriend Muslim folks and learn firsthand from them about what they believe. Attend their services and invite them to yours. Of course, if you live in a community that has no followers of Islam you will not be able to learn one-on-one unless you navigate the Internet and connect via discussion boards or Skype or such. But whether you can do this or not, at least get acquainted with the history of Islam and its principles teachings and what its leading scholars believe about it. Let me get you started by sharing something Rabbi Shmuley Boteach wrote in a June 14, 2013 article titled "Peter Beinart’s Bias Against Me, Cory Booker, and Israel" concerning the Muslim peoples of the world:
"I’m a Jew and I’m a member of a nation that has long proclaimed to the world that every human being is created equally in the image of God. Every one of my Muslim and Arab brothers and sisters are my equals before God and the lives of my Palestinian brothers are of infinite value. I've dedicated my life to the dissemination of this core message of the Judaic tradition, openly and unequivocally."
He adds something from history I suspect many people especially orthodox Christians are largely unaware of but need to know:
"I have long preached how we Jews owe an eternal debt of gratitude to Islam for welcoming us into their lands after repeated expulsions, especially from Spain in 1492 and Portugal in 1498. Islam, as a great world religion that has often protected Jews, is stained by those who murder in its name or who preach anti-Semitism."
"I am on record of repeatedly referring to Islam as a great world religion that took the Jews in to the Ottoman Empire after Christian persecutions. Indeed, Peter quotes me as saying that I believe Islam is a great world religion, but raises suspicions about my sincerity. I have long preached how we Jews owe an eternal debt of gratitude to Islam for welcoming us into their lands after repeated expulsions, especially from Spain in 1492 and Portugal in 1498. Islam, as a great world religion that has often protected Jews, is stained by those who murder in its name or who preach anti-Semitism."
Of course, as you wade into the literature and history of Islam you can expect to come across contrary, often dead wrong opinions and misinformation. Among those that popped up “front and center” when I did a Google search on Islam and Muslims were some anti-Muslim comments by televangelist Pat Robertson. In case you are tempted to latch onto Rev. Pat's views as (ahem) gospel, let me steer you to a contrary and IMO more reasonable spin at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/23/pat-robertson-islam-nazism-evil-video_n_3134711.html.
So, as you do your own research be cautious about sources especially those that confuse their own fears and narrow religious beliefs with objective historic truth.
I empathize with non-fundamentalists/non-evangelical Christians and other non-Biblical literalist people of faith who tackle challenging the core beliefs of self-described "staunch Christians" (fundamentalists especially). Boy, oh boy, do I know what they are up against! I grew up in the heart of the Bible belt (North Texas, central Louisiana) and wrestled pretty much continuously with what was in many instances what can at best charitably called “Flat Earth” thinking. I also learned from the get-go that anything one introduces that truly rattles a true believer's cage will not earn you one iota of respect but, rather, in most instances merely invites charges of being deluded or blinded by Satan, a demon or demons, or some such other worldly Grendel ...or of being in league with he, it or them -- or the Antichrist -- or all of the above. With this said, most of the diehard fundamentalists & evangelicals I knew were actually nice, even charming folks who were very giving and truly concerned with the well being of those in their orbit and beyond. However, it has to be said that both they and pretty much most mainstream Christians adhere to a species of faith that is alien to anything the Jesus they lay claim to would recognize much less endorse. The rabbis of his day were forever questioning articles of faith, playing devil's advocate, and using provocative, sometimes seemingly contradictory remarks to get their compatriots to think a point out. Humor suffused their comments too -- something lost on most Christians in the pews as they often take seriously comments in the Bible that were intended to be sarcastic or humorous or both. One thing that virtually no legitimate rabbi ever articulated was the kind of "blind faith", "true believer", "God said it and that settles it" literalism that passes as creed and dogma among so many Christian souls today. Sadly, some of the champions of this sort of black-white thinking among the leading lights of televangelism violated what they professed, some many times over – and (as the old adage goes) “before God and the whole world”. How ironic, yes?!? (Or were they falling victim to something well known in the realm of psychology: Try hard not to think about or do something – and the temptation to think about or do it will increase many-fold).
There is something ironic, too, about the fact that most self-described devout Christians I have kibitzed with down through the years have been quick to give lip service to either wanting to zero in on and follow the original faith of the apostles and disciples (70 elders), or else believed they’d found and were living it, yet did not realize that their beliefs and practices were in many instances diametrically opposite of those embraced, espoused and lived out by those who knew Jesus best and thus what he taught and practiced -- his own brothers including James the Just.
With this said, it must be conceded that a great deal of the historical, archeological and interpretive work that has fleshed out James’s role as first Mebakker/archbishop/overseer of the early “Jesus Movement” has come out in the past decade or two. But even so, one would expect – hope – to see some widespread, major shifts in the articulated beliefs and practices of many mainstream Christians. This does not seem to be the case though there does seem to be a greater move to “recover” the Jewish Jesus – that is, the very Orthodox Jewish nature of Jesus’ teachings, beliefs and practices.
Thankfully, clerics such as Lutheran minister Jeffrey J. Bϋtz and scholars such as Dr. James D. Tabor have made consensus findings about James and the early “Jesus Movement” known through their superb books such as Bϋtz’s The Brother of Jesus and the Lost Teachings of Christianity and Dr. Tabor’s The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity. Perhaps these books and those that will surely follow will see increasing numbers of Christians move beyond defective beliefs and creeds into the realm of a Torah-centric faith (Messianic God-fearers or its equivalent).
A longtime friend of mine and Messianic God-fearer recently (June 2013) emailed me that he was meeting with a local fundamentalist Christian minister and planned on introducing him to many of the books, concepts and lines of reasoning posted to this website. My reply follows below and is shared in the hopes that seekers after the faith and practices of the original followers of Rabbi Yehoshua/Yeshua/Jesus will find something that informs and enriches their own quest:
Good luck with getting a fundamentalist minister to budge from his mountain of dogmas and doctrines. What most of these guys call open-minded conversation about the scriptures, the nature and office of messiah, and such actually amounts to a forum for them to practice their apologetics. I've yet to hear of a genuine "true believer" walking away from his or her brand of faith and embracing anything remotely close to the original beliefs and practices of James the Just and the original apostles (minus Saul of Tarsus aka "St. Paul"). To their way of thinking this would be an abandonment of the "true faith" they embraced originally and thus a form of treason against Jesus and God.
On my end: I spent this past weekend studying the life of the only non-Jew to be declared a messiah in the Hebrew Scriptures, namely Cyrus the Great of Persia. About 100 years after this fascinating leader cashed in his chips a historian named Xenophon wrote a book about his deeds, his virtues and the ethical precepts that made him a phenomenal leader and moral example. This book was edited by Larry Hendrick and is sold on Amazon bearing the title "Cyrus the Great -- The Arts of Leadership & War". What is intriguing to me is that in the scriptures HaShem anointed Cyrus -- who would later liberate the Jews from their Babylonian captivity -- and "made all his ways straight". In-a-word God wrote the Torah into the life and work & deeds of Cyrus and it shows big time IMO. So much so it makes a lie of Lord Acton's truism about "absolute power corrupting absolutely". In Cyrus's case it emphatically did not. Secularists will say there had to be an exception -- upbringing & natural odds which surely figured in this -- but I lean to the Biblical spin that states the Almighty intervened and got & kept Cyrus on the right course.
For God fearers, I think having Cyrus as an example to emulate is (ahem) gggggreat -- a Gentile messiah is surely an encouragement and an admonition to all non-Jews especially Noahide God fearers.
More about Summer Cloud
Summer Cloud is an American Indian (Tribal member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma) who, though reared in the Southern Baptist faith, realized early on that many of the so-called sacred dogmas, creeds and beliefs he had been taught were at serious variance with the findings of historical researchers, Biblical scholars, Biblical archeologists, physical anthropologists, geologists and more. As you might expect, a boy who openly argued for modifying or throwing out beliefs and claims that had been invalidated was not especially popular among his conservative Protestant peers much less the leaders of the Baptist church he attended. In time his critical thinking mindset propelled him on a quest for an expression of faith that both incorporated and reflected the findings of science and scholarship. In 1980 he became a Roman Catholic but by 2000 had come to the conclusion that some elements in Catholicism are hopelessly at odds with the original teachings and practices of Rabbi Yehoshua/Yeshua/Jesus as well as those of his earliest followers and disciples. Today Summer Cloud characterizes himself as a spiritual eclectic -- which is to say he clings to what is biblically sound in Roman Catholicism (Charismatic) and among Catholic & non-Catholic messianic God-fearers (The focus of this website). In 2015 he became a monk in the Knights of Prayer Monastic Order (Full monk in 2017) as well as a monk in several other religious communities & monastic organizations which are part of the New Monasticism movement.. In 2017 he took the name "Brother Anthony of the Resurrection".