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Archive for September, 2010|Monthly archive page

PROPHECY UPDATE: TURKEY’S ALLIANCE WITH IRAN GROWS STRONGER

In Uncategorized on September 16, 2010 at 4:35 pm

The biblical prophecies found in Ezekiel 38-39 tell us that in the last days, Turkey — known in ancient times as the nation of “Gomer” — will form an alliance with Iran (formerly known as “Persia”). Together, these two countries will form an alliance with Russia, Libya and several other Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries against the State of Israel. This will lead to the event Bible scholars describe as the “War of Gog and Magog.”

Given that Turkey in modern times is a NATO ally and has up until recently been a strong friend of both Israel and the U.S., this prophecy seemed unlikely to come true in the 21st century. But in the last 18 months we have seen Turkey becoming increasingly hostile to Israel, as I have written about in previous weblog postings (see this post, this one, and this one.)

Now consider some rather striking developments just this week:

REPORT FROM ISRAEL — PART TWO: Seeing The Joshua Fund touching lives of those in need

In Uncategorized on September 15, 2010 at 2:05 pm

John Moser and I attending the dedication of two ambulances The Joshua Fund purchased for Magen David Adom in Israel. (August 2010)

My wife, Lynn, with our son Jacob, helping The Joshua Fund's warehouse manager in August.

>> Reminder: To register to attend the “Inside The Middle East Crisis Conference” I’ll be speaking at in Chicago Oct 1-2, please click here

>> Also: I’ll be speaking at the Value Voters Summit in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. Details here.

Events are moving quickly in the epicenter right now, with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad heading for the U.S. next week and direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks underway in Jerusalem today. But I had promised to give  you another report from our recent trip to Israel and I wanted to keep my word.

  • First and foremost, I want to thank each and every one of you who prayed for and invested in the work of The Joshua Fund (TJF). You are really making a difference in providing food, cooking supplies, medical supplies, and other aid to the poorest and neediest Jews and Arabs in the Land, including Holocaust survivors, the elderly, single mothers, homeless people, and Ethiopian and Sudanese immigrants, among others.
  • As I mentioned in my last report, my wife, Lynn, and our four sons — Caleb, Jacob, Jonah, and Noah — spent two weeks traveling throughout Israel meeting with our staff (including Lance Emma, our new Chief Operating Officer; John Moser, our Director of Humanitarian Relief; Dave Olsson, our Director of Communications, and our amazing warehouse team), and with many of our key Jewish and Christian allies. We were so encouraged by how grateful and enthusiastic they were about how TJF is helping them feed thousands of Israelis every month through the warehouse you are helping us rent and the seven food distribution centers our team has helped set up around the country. We are so incredibly grateful for the Jewish and Christian leaders and volunteers in the Land who are truly unsung heroes, faithfully and tirelessly caring for those in need day after day. They’re amazing! (please come with us to Israel next May and meet some of them!)
  • Among the best parts of our trip was  working as a family in The Joshua Fund’s warehouse. We had the chance to pack about two and a half tons of olives, beans, honey, flour, and other products to be distributed to those in need. It was hot and sweaty but the kids loved every minute of it, as did we.
  • Even better was the opportunity to actually deliver boxes of food to Jewish families who are living on welfare in very rundown apartments in a low income neighborhood in Jerusalem. We’ve taught our kids the statistics, that one in four Israelis live under the poverty line. But it was especially sobering for our sons to see what poverty really looks like, to see just how badly off so many Israelis are. And it was encouraging for them to be able to see how grateful people are when they receive a little assistance and a little love from people who truly care for them and are praying for them every day. 
  • We want our kids to truly understand the heart of Jesus when He fed the poor with unconditional love. We want them to understand what Jesus meant in Matthew 25 when He said, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me….I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
  • Another highlight of the trip was the opportunity to attend a dedication ceremony for two ambulances that The Joshua Fund purchased for “Magen David Adom,” Israel’s emergency/paramedic response organization that is the Jewish Israeli version of the American Red Cross. On the front doors of both ambulances reads the following inscription: “Presented to the people of Israel by The Joshua Fund and evangelical Christians in the U.S. and around the world, 2010.” Both ambulances went into service earlier this year but this was our first opportunity to get there to do a dedication service. In the next Joshua Fund newsletter we’ll have an article about precisely how they are being used. Suffice it to say for now that they have already been used on hundreds of emergency calls. Lives are being saved every week. The MDA leaders were very grateful for your help, and so am I. Please pray for these medical professionals as they respond to heart attacks, car accidents, suicide attempts and other traumas on an on-going basis.
  • There’s much more to report, but I’ll leave it there for now.
  • Thank you again for your prayers and support. Financial giving slowed a bit over the summer, but we are grateful for how the Lord is providing. If you would like to make a secure, tax deductible donation to help The Joshua Fund continue to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus, please go to our website, www.joshuafund.net. God bless you!

AHMADINEJAD COMING TO U.S. NEXT WEEK: Netanyahu may be in U.S., too

In Uncategorized on September 15, 2010 at 1:55 am
 

Round Two of the peace talks: Israeli PM Netanyahu, Secretary of State Clinton, and Palestinian President Abbas met in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt today. (photo: AFP)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad plans to come to New York City next week for his annual pilgrimmage to the opening of the U.N. General Assembly’s fall session. He is expected to once again pray for Allah to “hasten” the coming of the “Twelfth Imam” or the “Promised One.” He may also call for a “new world order,” after making such a call during a summit this week with African leaders.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister may also be in the U.S. next, according to an Israeli media account, though it is not likely the two will cross paths. “Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will fly to Washington DC Sunday, in a surprising development reported by Channel 1 national television Tuesday evening. The station’s political reporter Ayala Hasson said the trip is ‘90% certain’ to take place and that it seems to reflect some kind of political development, but that the nature of the development is not known.”

Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas met met in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt Tuesday for round two of their direct peace talks. They are expected to meet again in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

The two leaders “discussed ‘core issues’ of a possible solution to the decades-long conflict over the Land of Israel,” reported Israel National News. “The term ‘core issues’ usually refers to Israeli concessions, including  the status of Jerusalem and the holy sites within it, as well as final borders and the Arab demand that descendants of Arab residents who fled decades ago be allowed into Israel. Before the meeting, Netanyahu had insisted that recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and addressing security issues were the primary issues for Israel.”

I’ll post some analysis tomorrow.

RATHER THAN BURN QUR’ANS….NEXT 9/11: “WAKE UP CALL,” A WORLDWIDE BROADCAST TO THE CHURCH WITH ANNE GRAHAM LOTZ AND JOEL ROSENBERG

In Uncategorized on September 10, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham, and I want to call followers of Jesus to a different approach towards Muslims in America next 9/11.

Rather than burn Qur’ans, Anne Graham Lotz (daughter of Billy Graham) and I believe we should be mobilizing the Church to wake up, draw closer to the Lord, pray for all our neighbors — including Muslims — and share the gospel with courage and great joy to our family, friends and neighbors.

So Lord willing, next year on 9/11 — the 10th anniversary of that terrible day — we will hold a worldwide simulcast event called, “Wake Up Call.” It will be broadcast into church sanctuaries and homes with strong Bible teaching and a call to action. We’ve been praying about this and planning it for several months. 

Click here for more information.

Please be praying about it and please come join us in this effort to call the Church to prayer and action as we draw closer to the return of Jesus Christ!

THE TWELFTH IMAM TO RELEASE OCTOBER 19

In Uncategorized on September 9, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Previous post: We must say “no” to burning the Qur’an or any religious books

Previous post: Report From Israel, Part 1 — Will peace talks distract Netanyahu from Iran?

Just heard the news that my new novel, The Twelfth Imam, will release October 19th with 175,000 copies in print. That’s the largest release of any of the novels I’ve written and is based in large part on how many of you are pre-ordering. Thanks so much. Next week, I actually begin writing the sequel. At the moment, I’m planning three novels in this series.

Lord willing, we will release the book tour schedule next week.

You can pre-order your copy at one of the following on-line stores, or at your favorite Christian or general market bookstore.

REPORT FROM ISRAEL, PART 1: WILL PEACE TALKS DISTRACT NETANYAHU FROM THE IRAN THREAT?

In Uncategorized on September 8, 2010 at 4:26 pm
 

L’shana tova — happy New Year to all of our Israeli friends. May the year ahead be sweet and safe and blessed, and may the Lord draw you ever closer to His heart. You are always in our prayers. Our family is looking forward to celebrating with apples and honey tonight as we thank the God of Israel for His great love and pray for the peace of Jerusalem. “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, in the city of our God, His holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion in the far north, the city of the Great King.” (Psalm 48:1-2)

As I mentioned a few days ago, Lynn and our sons and I just returned from a very full and wonderful two weeks in Israel. In addition to baptizing our youngest son, Noah (6 years old), in the Mediterranean, packing two and a half tons of food in The Joshua Fund warehouse, and distributing boxes of food to needy Jewish families in Jerusalem, we had the opportunity to meet with a wide range of Jewish leaders, Christian leaders, and Israeli government officials. We were there in the run-up to the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in Washington, and as the peace talks began. We were on Highway 60 the day after five Israeli citizens (including an unborn baby) were murdered by Hamas terrorists on that very same road, and on the same day that another Israeli married couple was shot at and severely wounded on Highway 60, as well. It was both a fascinating and sobering time to be in the Land and we thank the Lord for every moment of our time there. Thanks to all of you who prayed for us.

In this first of several reports, I wanted to share with you a few thoughts on Netanyahu, the Palestinians, and Iran:

  1. The apocalpytic End Times theology of Iran’s leaders and their feverish pursuit of nuclear weapons — not the Palestinian people — pose an existential threat to the State of Israel. Time is running out. The latest IAEA report indicates Iran has enough enriched uranium to build at least three nuclear bombs.
  2. Yet, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu seems more publicly focused on the Palestinians in recent months, not Iran. He is saying publicly that he believes Israel can reach an historic peace agreement with the Palestinians within one year. Does he really believe this? Is he being distracted from the Iran threat?
  3. I see three possible scenarios: 1) Netanyahu is suffering from what I call “Zechariah 12 Syndrome”; 2) Netanyahu is playing the “peace process game” to satisfy the White House and build U.S. and Western support for a coming strike on Iran; or 3) Netanyahu genuinely sees something almost no one else sees.
  4. Let’s take each scenario one by one.
  5. Scenario #1:  Netanyahu is suffering from what I call the “Zechariah 12 Syndrome.”  “Behold,” says the Lord, “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup of intoxication.” (Zechariah 12:2). The Zechariah 12 Syndrome occurs when a strong, principled Israeli leader is elected Prime Minister vowing to protect the interests of the state, but quickly becomes drunk with power and the false hope that the peace process will lead to success and he will be awarded great international fame and historic significance. The room starts to spin, the leader loses his bearings, and starts making foolish decisions that ends up having disastrous results for the very people whose lives and interests he is supposed to be protecting.
  6. Example: In 1999, Ehud Barak — the most decorated Israeli general since King David — became Prime Minister promising peace with security. However, he quickly succumbed to “Zechariah 12 Syndrome.” He went to Camp David in 2000 and offered Yasser Arafat — a bloodthirsty terrorist — half of the city of Jerusalem, all of Gaza, and 97% of the West Bank. Arafat said no, but Barak pleased with Arafat to make an historic peace deal. Arafat perceived Barak’s begging as weakness, rejected the entire offer, went back to Ramallah and launched the Second Intifada, a wave of suicide bombings and other brutal attacks against Israeli civilians that lasted for years.
  7. Example: Also in 2000, Barak made another supremely foolish decision. He unilaterally withdrew all Israeli military forces from southern Lebanon without asking for or receiving a peace treaty. The result? Hezbollah told everyone in Lebanon that terrorism — not democracy and negotiations — leads to Israeli territorial concessions. So Hezbollah launched the 2006 Second Lebanon War and hit Israel with 4,000 rockets and missiles.
  8. Example: In 2005, Ariel Sharon — another highly decorated general Israel’s “hawk-in-chief” at the time (a man who used to say to the Palestinians, “Want a state? Move to Jordan” — was elected Prime Minister by promising peace with security.  But he, too, succumbed to the Zechariah 12 Syndrome. He lost his bearings, unilaterally withdrew all Israeli forces and settlers from Gaza, and gave Gaza to the Palestinians for nothing. He didn’t ask for or receive a peace treaty. The result? Hamas told everyone in Gaza that terrorism — not peaceful negotiations — leads to Israeli territorial concessions, and people agreed with them. Hamas then took over Gaza, created a terrorist base camp (“Hamastan”) and proceeded to launch more than 12,000 rocket attacks against innocent Israeli civilians.
  9. Is Netanyahu heading down the same path?
  10. Netanyahu was so warm towards Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (aka, Abu Mazen) and the others in the Palestinian delegation in Washington that “those close to the Palestinian president claimed the atmosphere in the Palestinian delegation to the peace talks in Washington had ‘changed by 180 degrees’ from the hesitance which prevailed prior to their arrival at Washington,” according to Arab and Israeli media reports.
  11. But why would Netanyahu be so warm when Abbas is saying flatly that he will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state?
  12. Why so warm when the latest polls show only 1-in-3 Palestinians even support peace talks with Israel?
  13. Why so warm when Hamas — not Abbas — controls Gaza and flatly rejects all peace talks with Israel?
  14. Why so warm when Abbas is so weak few analysts (if any) think he could truly deliver peace, even if he chose to sign a peace treaty?
  15. Scenario #2: Netanyahu is playing the “peace process game” to build U.S. and Western support for a coming strike on Iran. Rather than being semi-delusional, Netanyahu could be crazy like a fox. He could very well be telling his cabinet the following: Look, guys, we all know Abbas is too weak to make a peace deal. But the U.S. and the Western powers are pressing hard for a peace deal. So why should we be the ones that look intransigent? Let’s be pro-active. Let’s tell the world that we want a peace deal, that we want direct talks, that we want a Palestinian state, so long as it’s demilitarized and the Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish State.” We all know Abbas can’t deliver. But by being forward-leaning on this, we can try to convince President Obama and the U.N./E.U. crowd that we’re doing our best. Meanwhile, we’ll be finalizing our war plans to attack Iran. If by December or January the sanctions on Iran aren’t working, and we’ve strengthened our strategic relationship with the U.S. vis-a-vis being cooperative in the peace process, hopefully the White House will give us the green light (or at least won’t oppose, or oppose harshly) our decision to launch a preemptive strike against Iran in the spring or summer of next year (or whenever we’re ready). I believe such a case would be persuasive to Netanyahu’s cabinet.
  16. That said, if Netanyahu is simply “playing the game,” he is taking a huge risks.
  17. Risk #1: The peace talks could consume an enormous amount of his and his government’s time and energy, drawing away critical time that should be focused on Iran war planning.
  18. Risk #2: President Obama could become deeply invested in the peace talks, and put increasing pressure on Netanyahu to make unwise and dangerous concessions, against Netanyahu’s will. How would Netanyahu exit from such a process without alienating the U.S. government?
  19. Risk #3: Abbas could call Netanyahu’s bluff and give Netanyahu everything he’s asking for in return for an historic peace treaty, only to renege on key elements of the deal after a Palestinian state has been created (i.e., build alliances with Iran, Syria and Hezbollah; import rockets and other arms, despite written guarantees of being demilitarized; buying aircraft that could endanger Israeli cities; etc.)
  20. Netanyahu is a smart guy and a shrewd player, but we must keep in mind that in his first term in office (1996-1999), he vowed never to make a deal with Arafat, yet ended up shaking the terrorist’s hand and giving him the Biblically important city of Hebron, when no one believed he would ever capitulate like that.
  21. Scenario #3: Netanyahu genuinely sees something almost no one else sees. Maybe a season of true peace, security and prosperity is coming, if only briefly. Ezekiel 38-39 certainly indicates such a time is coming prior to the War of Gog and Magog. I wouldn’t rule it out. But I don’t see it being sincere or lasting long, if it should happen at all.

More to come….

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WE MUST SAY “NO” TO BURNING RELIGIOUS BOOKS: Jesus taught us another way.

In Uncategorized on September 8, 2010 at 2:59 pm

(photo credit: Associated Press)

I wholeheartedly reject the notion of anyone — especially a pastor, or anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ — burning a book considered holy by another people of another religion.

As an evangelical Christian, I certainly don’t believe the Qur’an (sometimes spelled “Koran”) was inspired. I don’t believe it is holy. I don’t believe it is the Word of God. Rather, I believe those who follow Islam are mistaken and misguided and need to leave Islam and receive Jesus Christ by faith as their personal Savior and Lord. The Bible says the name of Jesus is only name under heaven or on earth by which we can be forgiven of our sins and thus saved from an eternity separated from God. [Have you ever heard of the "Four Spiritual Laws," a clear and concise explanation of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Click here to learn more.]

As such, I respectfully call on this Florida pastor to:

  1. Stop this provocative and unkind publicity stunt of planning to burn a copy of the Qur’an on September 11th
  2. Stop calling for others to follow your lead
  3. Disband your “International Burn The Koran Day”
  4. Please turn back to the Bible and follow the words of Jesus who told us to love our neighbors and love our enemies and pray for — not purposefully provoke — those who oppose, mistreat and/or persecute us
  5. Apologize to all of those whom you have offended
  6. Call for a day of prayer and fasting for Muslims here in the U.S. and around the world, that they might find the love of Christ and salvation through His name
  7. Encourage your congregation to build bridges of friendship with Muslims in your community in hopes of being able to share the gospel with them and invite them to join a Bible study group

As I wrote in Inside The Revolution, the Lord has called us to show love and compassion and mercy to Muslims. For those looking for practical suggestions on how to do that, I hope the book (and the accompanying small group study guide) will help.

MIDEAST PEACE TALKS BEGIN IN WASHINGTON AS HAMAS LAUNCHES TERROR ATTACKS

In Uncategorized on September 4, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Washington this week. (photo: Reuters/Jason Reed)

Please accept my apologies for not posting for the last two weeks. My wife and kids and I have been in Israel meeting with various Jewish and Christian leaders, doing some strategic planning with some of the allies of The Joshua Fund, studying the Word of God together, praying for Israeli and Palestinians, doing some humanitarian relief work, catching up with dear friends, and criss-crossing that beautiful country.

It was a fascinating time and I have much to share with you. Unfortunately, the wireless service at the apartment we were using wasn’t working so I wasn’t able to post along the way. But I will begin posting reports over the next few days.

For now, here are a few of the news stories that I have been tracking while we were in the epicenter:

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