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THE LORD IS SHAKING THE NATIONS PHYSICALLY, SPIRITUALLY, FINANCIALLY: Why, and how should we respond?

In Uncategorized on July 27, 2011 at 7:06 am

>> AP Exclusive: Intel report says Iranian president wants to develop nuclear arms openly

(Jerusalem, Israel) The nations are being shaken – physically, spiritually, emotionally, financially, politically and in so many other ways.

  • The people of Norway have been shaken this week by seeing sheer evil unleashed against precious, innocent children.
  • Japan has been shaken this year by the enormous earthquake, the resulting tsunami, and the horrific nuclear meltdown.
  • The people of Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen have been shaken this year by dramatic and largely unexpected the revolutions underway there and throughout the Arab world.
  • Iran has been shaken by the enormous pro-democracy movement that took to the streets but was then nearly crushed by the tyrannical government in Tehran.
  • The people of Israel are being shaken by fears that Iran is rapidly closing in on building nuclear weapons and the world is not doing nearly enough to stop them in time.
  • Greece has been shaken by its unprecedented debt crisis and resultant riots and social unrest.
  • Americans, too, are being shaken. We face arguably the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Nearly half of all Americans believe we are heading towards another Great Depression. Unemployment is over 9%. Housing foreclosures are skyhigh. People have lost enormous sums of money due to depressed housing prices and stock market volatility. The federal government is trying to spend our way to prosperity but is making things worse. Our annual federal budget deficit topped $1.3 trillion last year. This year, it looks like the feds will spend more than $1.5 trillion beyond what they are taking in in revenue. Our debt is skyrocketing. The U.S. is now on the verge of financial default, and hampered further by political ineptitude in Washington that threatens to comp0und an already precarious situation.

What if these events are not all random? What if the God of the Bible is allowing these to happen to shake us, to wake us, to get our attention, that we might turn to Him and ask Him to have mercy on us and help us?

The Lord said through the ancient Hebrew Prophet Haggai that the nations would be shaken in the future. “For thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. I will shake all the nations….I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. I will overthrow the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the power of the kingdoms of the nations.” (Haggai 2:6, 7, 21, 22)

In the New Testament, the Lord reinforced that theme. “See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven’….Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:25-29)

Bible prophecy is clear: the Lord shakes individuals and nations that we might let go of all of the flawed political, philosophical, intellectual and religions notions that we cling to that won’t give us true peace, that don’t give us real hope, that can’t bring us any security, that can’t provide forgiveness from our sins much less eternal life for our souls. The God of the Bible wants to shake us loose of such things that we might turn to Him, and to the life He offers through faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord isn’t letting us be shaken because He hates us. He’s letting us be shaken precisely because He loves us and wants us to repent and turn to Him and call out to Him, as individuals, as families, and as nations. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

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IS A PALESTINIAN STATE INEVITABLE?

In Uncategorized on July 22, 2011 at 6:05 am

(Jerusalem, Israel) — While traveling through Israel this month, I’ve been asked by many people if a Palestinian state inevitable, and will it happen this fall? It’s a controversial topic, to be sure, and an increasingly relevant one given the upcoming vote in the U.N. General Assembly this fall. Here’s what I’ve been sharing with people here:

  1. The Bible doesn’t speak specifically to the issue of whether a sovereign Palestinian state will be created or not.
  2. That said, I tend to believe the geopolitical and prophetic evidence suggests there will probably be a Palestinian state in the not-too-distant future.
  3. International pressure on Israel to cut a deal, divide the Land, and create a Palestinian state is overwhelming, relentless, and intensifying.
  4. Currently, the Palestinian leadership refuses to negotiate directly with Israel. Rather, they hope to unilaterally declare a state by getting the vast majority of countries at the U.N. to vote for the creation of state at the General Assembly session in New York in September.
  5. The Palestinians have more than enough votes to pass such a U.N. resolution in the General Assembly (though the U.S. has suggested it would veto a unilateral declaration if it came to the Security Council).
  6. The most intense international pressure for a Palestinian state is coming from Western Europe, which has grown anti-Israel and increasingly anti-Semitic.
  7. A majority of Israelis have become exhausted with the Arab-Israeli conflict and now would support a Palestinian state under certain conditions.
  8. Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — the leader of the center-right Likud Party (which has historically opposed creating a Palestinian state) — has offered to divide the Land and help create one, so long as it is demilitarized and doesn’t divide Jerusalem.
  9. However, the Bible strongly warns the nations not to divide the Land of Israel and states that all nations who do so will face God’s judgment. The Lord said to the Hebrew Prophet Joel, “And I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land.” (Joel 3:2) 
  10. Despite this warning, the nations have repeatedly divided the Land of Israel over the centuries.
  11. Bible prophecy suggests the Land will be divided again in the last days. The Hebrew prophet wrote in Daniel 9:26-27 that in the last days “the prince who is to come” (the Antichrist) “will make a firm covenant” (a peace treaty) “with the many” (neighbors of Israel) for seven years, but will then break that treaty after  three and a half years. This strongly — though not definitively — suggests a state will be created or reaffirmed through this treaty.
  12. Eventually, after breaking the peace treaty, the Antichrist will invade and conquer Israel and rule the world with great evil and tyranny from the “Beautiful Land.” The Prophet Daniel wrote, “He will also enter the Beautiful Land, and many countries will fall….and he will go forth with great wrath to destroy and annihilate many. He will pitch the tents of his royal pavilion between the seas and the beautiful Holy Mountain [Jerusalem]” before being destroyed and judged by the Lord Himself. (Daniel 11:41, 44, 45)
  13. On the basis of these and other Scriptures, I suspect a sovereign Palestinian state will be created, though it would likely be temporary in duration. The outlines of a geopolitical deal are already done. Israeli and Palestinian officials have been negotiating on and off for decades. 
  14. So we should expect European pressure to continue to build and eventually a European leader to take the lead and get a deal done — to many, it will look like a wonderful peace deal, at first, but the Bible makes clear it will turn disastrous for Israel, and the Palestinians, and the world.
  15. I do not support the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state because I believe this would violate the Biblical admonition not to divide to the Land. I do support Palestinian autonomy, the right of Palestinians to run their daily lives and their local governments. I believe Israel should always work on doing a better job of treating Arabs with love, compassion and justice. What’s more, I believe the Church should do a much better job loving and caring for Israeli Arabs and Palestinian Arabs, and sharing with them the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ that they might find forgiveness for their sins, peace in their hearts, hope for their future, and salvation for their souls (John 3:16)
  16. The Scriptures are crystal clear: the Lord loves the Palestinian people as much as He loves the Jewish people, and He told Moses to tell the children of Israel to care for non-Jews in the Land and bless them and treat them honestly and fairly and with justice and compassion. (See Deuteronomy 14:29, 23:7, 24:14-15, 24:19-22, 26:12-13)
  17. Jesus modeled love for the Jewish people (Matthew 15:32, Mark 6:34, Mark 8:1-3, Luke 10:3-9, Luke 23:34), and their neighbors (Matthew 19:19, Luke 10:27-37), and their enemies (Matthew 5:43-44) and told His followers to do the same.
  18. Let us continue to pray for the Prince of Peace — Jesus the Messiah — to draw more and more people in the epicenter to Himself. This is the only true and lasting hope for peace.

HELPING JEWS RETURN TO ISRAEL: The Joshua Fund sees the Lord fulfilling prophecy by bringing His people back to the Land

In Uncategorized on July 14, 2011 at 6:21 am

(Jerusalem, Israel) — I’ve been in Israel for the last 10 days speaking to various groups and conferences, as well as meeting with some of our staff and key allies. And I have to tell you: I’ve been struck anew by the miracle that this country really is. I’ve been here many times, and I’ve written a great deal about this place. But it just never ceases to amaze me how the Lord is fulfilling Bible prophecy here. He really is rebuilding the ancient ruins. He really is recreating the State of Israel. He really is bringing Jews from all over the world back to their ancient homeland after centuries of exile. Just like He said He would. 

“”Then the nations will know that I am the Lord,’ declares the Lord God, ‘when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight. For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land.’” (Ezekiel 36:23-24)

“Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders”. – Isaiah 49:22

In that context, I’m honored that during the past several years The Joshua Fund has been blessed to help Jewish people who have returned to the land of their forefathers from different parts of the world. They come with very few possessions. Through the support of our faithful donors, we have been able to supply household goods, food and backpacks filled with school supplies to help them as they settle into their new homes. 

I’m also excited that TJF is now be able to provide financial assistance to those who need help to fulfill their dream of making aliyah. The needs go beyond just getting the flight to Israel. Many need help in locating the proper documentation to verify their “right of return” to Israel. Many documents were destroyed or lost during World War II. Many changed their names in an effort to conceal that they were Jewish. As you can imagine this process is very arduous. Once they have the proper documentation, they need assistance in getting to the Israeli Consulate (many of them do not live near a big city where they have access). They need to be transported to the airport and often need accommodations the night before they fly to Israel. The details that have to be cared for and the funds needed in preparation for the journey to their homeland can seem overwhelming. We are so thankful that the Lord has provided the means through our generous donors for The Joshua Fund to help.

A few of their stories:

  • Tatiana and her son lived in very dire circumstances. Within a short period of time, she lost her husband and her eldest daughter. Both died of incurable diseases. Her salary was so meager that she could not afford to pay the electricity bills and had to use candles to try to stay warm. Tatiana knew that her father was Jewish but was having difficulty finding all the necessary documents proving her Jewish origin. When she was finally able to obtain the proper documents, the Israeli Consul gave her and her son the permission for aliyah. We were able to pay for their passports as well as transportation to the airport on the day of their flight. They took off for their homeland on December 16.
     
  • Those we work with had been carrying the M. family in prayer for a long time. Some of the family members moved to Israel leaving behind their elderly parents who did not feel like leaving their “secure” places and starting a new life. However, praise God, after a year they made the decision to make aliyah. They are very grateful that they were helped so much in everything, including covering their traveling expenses (train tickets), as they had to make three trips to Consular appointments. They were met at the station and assisted to the Israeli Consulate. They were transported to the airport on the day of their flight and provided accommodations at the airport. They were so thankful for the care, attention and faithful prayers. And they could see and feel God’s love through all of this.
     
  • Nina had been taking care of her grandson after his parents died in a car accident. In November, 2010, her beloved grandson made his way to Israel. Nina is a widow, so you can imagine the loneliness she felt as he left and she had to stay behind. She was so thankful for the kind support she received enabling her to join him in January.
     
  • What a joy to be able to give assistance to Raisa, a Holocaust survivor, whose son and daughter-in-law had already made aliyah earlier in the year. Praise the Lord that the family has now been reunited in the Land!

We look forward to helping many more of God’s chosen people to return to their homeland. Please consider financially investing in the work of The Joshua Fund — for more information, please go to www.joshuafund.net.

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REACHING ARABS IN THE EPICENTER WITH THE GOSPEL

In Uncategorized on July 10, 2011 at 4:07 am

Joel and Pastor Munir Kahkish in Ramallah.

“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek….for ‘whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent?….So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:12-15, 17)

(Jerusalem, Israel) — The only way to make lasting, comprehensive peace between Israelis and Arabs is for Jesus Christ – the Prince of Peace — to change men’s hearts and reign in our hearts. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” so I’m all for diplomatic efforts that don’t defy the Scriptures. But what I really love is to meet Arabs and Jews who once hated or despised each other but have come to faith in Jesus and have developed a deep and sincere love for their neighbors and their enemies. Only the Holy Spirit of God can do that.

Unfortunately, Arab believers in Jesus are far too often ignored, overlooked, or even rejected by Western Christians who love Israel. But I strongly believe we are supposed to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus. We need to encourage and pray for Arab believers, as well as Jewish believers. I haven’t always done a good job of this, but I’m personally working on building more and better relationships with my Arab Christian brothers and sisters. Jesus loves them dearly; so should I.

  • BETHLEHEM –  Yesterday, a colleague with The Joshua Fund and I visited the Bethlehem Bible College, the primary Bible training center for Palestinian Arabs. We toured their impressive facilities, met with their incoming president and dean of students, and heard their vision for training Arab believers to preach the gospel, teach the Word of God, make disciples and plant churches to reach all Arabs in this land with Christ’s love. We had honest, candid, and Christ-centered conversations about our some of our theological and geopolitical differences. We didn’t try to paper over those differences, or pretend they don’t exist. But we found we were very much united around the cross and the urgency of advancing the Kingdom of Christ among the Arab people in this critical hour. We spent some good time in prayer at the end of our meeting and then had a meal together. It was a real blessing.
  • RAMALLLAH – On Thursday, we were invited by an evangelical Christian Arab pastor — the Rev. Munir Kahkish – to visit Ramallah, the West Bank capital of the Palestinian Authority. We’d never been to Ramallah before but felt the Spirit telling us to go, so we went and it was exciting. We got to see an amazing Christian orphanage where Palestinian children are coming to Christ, being discipled and growing up to serve the Lord Jesus. We toured Ramallah with the pastor and his wife, and we attended their Thursday night praise & worship service. Pastor Munir asked me to teach and, with him translating into Arabic, I spoke for 40 minutes on the Book of Joel, chapters 1 and 2. As I did at the recent Epicenter Conference, I spoke on the urgent need for prayer, fasting and repentance as we see the Day of the Lord rapidly approaching. I never imagined teaching the Book of Joel in Ramallah, but the message was very well received, we had great conversations afterwards, and didn’t get back to Jerusalem until nearly midnight!
  • BACK TO JERUSALEM” – On Monday through Wednesday of last week, we attended the “Back To Jerusalem Conference” here in the epicenter of the epicenter with several hundred Israeli Arab pastors, elders, ministry leaders, and lay people, along with nearly 60 American, Canadian and South African believers. In a wonderful show of unity, 27 of the 30 evangelical Arab churches in Israel participated. The main teachers were a wonderful Lebanese Arab evangelical Christian ministry leader ; a dear evangelical Arab pastor from Jordan; and me, the only Jewish believer. The purpose of the conference is bring together Israeli Arab believers for prayer, Bible study, praise & worship, and to encourage Arab believers to become more faithful in evangelism, particularly among Muslims. This is a huge challenge as very few Arab churches have a vision for personal evangelism and fewer still have a compassion for reaching Muslims.
  • This is the fourth annual BTJ conference and The Joshua Fund has invested in it each year. That said, it was my first year being able to attend and I was encouraged by what I saw — it’s quite something to hear Arab pastors teaching the Word of God in Arabic (thank the Lord for the English translators and the headsets!), and praising the Lord in Arabic and praying fervently in Arabic for the Lord to give them the courage to reach their neighbors and their enemies. 
  • This year’s theme was the importance of prayer, fasting and personal repentance prior to evangelism. The messages were biblically solid and very encouraging to me personally. In my two messages, I taught from the Book of Joel, chapters 1 and 2, on the Lord’s message to “all the inhabitants of the land” that we need to “wake up” and focus on prayer and fasting because “the Day of the Lord is coming; surely it is near.” When I got to the passages in Joel 2 describing how the Holy Spirit will be poured out on “all mankind” in the last days, I shared numerous testimonies of Muslims seeing visions and dreams of Jesus and becoming followers of Christ. But I also noted that we can’t wait around for the Lord to appear to Muslims. We still need to do evangelism and spread the Word of God. After all, the Apostle Paul quotes the prophet Joel in Romans 10:13 in describing how “whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But then Paul makes clear that we have orders from the Lord to preach the word of Christ and we must be faithful to that calling. The Lord will do His work, but we must also do ours.
  • After the three days of teaching ended, the conference participants spread out to Arab communities to practice sharing the gospel and distributing copies of the New Testament and the Jesus film in Arabic. Please pray that many Arabs would come to faith in Jesus Christ as a result of this outreach, and that the churches would catch on on-going vision for evangelism and discipleship.
  • ENCOURAGEMENT FROM THE EPICENTER CONFERENCE — One more thing for now: Anne Graham Lotz forwarded me this email she received of someone from France who was encouraged by watching the conference online….thought you might like to see it…“I just converted from Islam to Christianity and I was asking God to help me to get to know Him better, and I went through the internet, I just saw Epi-Center Conference in Jerusalem with Joel introducing Anne, to speak on Joel 1 & 2 and with reference to Ezekiel 38-39. I just said Lord thank you for guiding me to Anne’s conference. From there I just became a regular member of Anne and Joel in the internet, because here in France there are no real Christians, they always say we are Chatholic but not practicants, so I don’t bother to go to the Church, but this is quite sufficient for me to listen to Anne and Joel. That’s all I got to know this website, and I am really getting better and better in His knowledge. Many thanks to this ministry. It has lead me to the way of the Lord so much, but I’ve finally left Islam with full confidence, although Christianity in France is nothing to write-home about. Christianity in France is just for those who are above 80-90 years here not for the young people. The Lord give you more of His word to bless me as I am enjoying your messages daily, many thanks.

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SUMMER READING RECOMMENDATIONS: Top pick, “A Time To Betray”

In Uncategorized on July 3, 2011 at 11:54 pm
A must-read.

Looking for some good summer reads? Here are my top five recommendations:

1. Far and away the best book I’ve read this year was A Time To Betray: The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent Inside The Revolutionary Guards of Iran by Reza Kahlili. A reporter friend of mine at CBN first told me about Reza and the book and I bought it on Kindle in April. Wow! Loved it, loved it, loved it. I started reading it and literally couldn’t put it down. It’s a spy story so riveting and a love story so moving that at times I found myself having a hard time breathing, and other times was wiping away tears. I’ve never read a book that took me inside life in revolutionary Iran in 1979, or inside life in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in the 1980s, so compellingly as this one does. It’s a must read.

At first, Reza gives us his back story and shares that he was so excited about the rise of the Ayatollah Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution. But then he begins to witness the horrific acts of evil done by the “Supreme Leader” and his followers. He witnesses arrests and tortures and rapes and hangings — even of friends…by friends. And then Reza makes the decision that will change the course of his life forever. On a trip to California to care for his dying aunt — but without telling his wife — he contacts the FBI and offers information about the objectives, methods and leaders of the IRGC in exchange for political asylum for himself and his wife. His hope is that the U.S. will use the information to bring down the tyrannical Khomeini regime and in the process save many lives. The FBI immediately puts him in contact with the CIA, and a CIA official says they would be happy to give the Kahlilis asylum in the U.S. However, the CIA contact explains that what he really wants Reza to do is to go back to Tehran and become a double agent for the Agency inside the IRGC. How Reza makes his decision, how the Agency trains him, how he penetrates Iran’s secrets and communicates them back to his handlers, and the anxiety and tension he faces every step of the way makes for a stunning read. Heart-breaking is Reza’s inability to tell his wife, or her family, or his family, or any of his friends what he is doing, much less why. They are all increasingly disgusted with Khomeini and the revolution and are, therefore, increasingly angry and distraught when Reza starts growing a beard, appearing more devoutly Muslim, and appears to throw himself so passionately into the dirty work of the revolution, getting promoted and more responsibility along the way. The tension becomes unbearable, and threatens Reza’s marriage. 

Also heart-breaking coming to the realization that for all the risks that Reza took for the U.S. government, how little Washington has actually ever done to bring down the murderous and apocalyptic regime in Tehran. Reza’s exasperation with American officials who keep trying to negotiate with or kowtow to the mullahs and ayatollahs is palpable in the book. For so long he felt like he was betraying his native country of Iran and his family on behalf of the CIA. Yet in the end one wonders if he was betrayed by that very Agency and the political leaders who oversee it in Washington. In recent months I have had the opportunity to get to know Reza over the phone, and in person, and have been deeply impressed by his courage and resolve. It was an honor to be able to interview him and show that interview at the 2011 Epicenter Conference. Though he no longer works directly for the CIA (though he does teach at the Pentagon’s Joint Counterintelligence Training Center), Reza is clearly still a man on a mission: to liberate the people of Iran from one of the most evil monstrosities of our time, especially before Iran gets nuclear warheads. I applaud him for what he’s doing, and I encourage people to support his efforts. But I’ll tell you what I’ve told him: Iran is going to be liberated, but not by the President of the United States or by Congress or by the CIA, but by the Lord Jesus Christ. The prophecies of Ezekiel 38-39 and Jeremiah 49 reveal that the God of the Bible is going to harshly judge the leaders of Iran in the “last days” and pour out His Holy Spirit and His blessings on that beautiful country and it’s people. He will do so because Iran’s leaders have cursed Christ, the Church, and Israel. The Bible shows us the road to Iran’s liberation will be a very tough one, and the Lord commands us to pray for the people of Iran and to reach every Iranian with the gospel. Reza’s book shows us why the Iranian people are so desperate for the kind of hope and change only Christ can provide.

2. Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From The American Dream by David Platt — Friends recommended I read this at a discipleship retreat we were on in the Outer Banks in May and they were right. It was powerful and deeply challenging. Platt’s point is simple but profound: what if actually studied the Bible and just did what Jesus said rather than explain it away? What if we actually sold our possessions and gave far more to the poor and needy? What if we stepped down from our wordly jobs and served the Lord full-time? What if we stopped running entertainment programs to build mega-churches and actually started making disciples and focused on helping a few believers go deep in their faith rather than babysit thousands of people who aren’t really serious about obeying Jesus? The American church is so shallow. We desperately need the Lord to shake us up and wake us up. Radical is a great place to start.

3. Moses: A Man of Selfless Dedication by Pastor Chuck Swindoll — I’ve been reading the life of Moses from the Bible to my youngest son, Noah, in recent months, and became captivated with this amazingly godly and humble leader all over again. As I became eager to know Moses better — and especially how he dealt with enormous adversity, criticism, betrayal and loneliness — I looked for a theologically sound book that was also very practical. Chuck’s book hit the spot.

4. Paul: A Man of Grit and Grace by Chuck SwindollHaving loved Chuck’s take on Moses, I’ve started reading and loving this one on the Apostle Paul right now. The extraordinary vision of Jesus the Messiah on the road to Damascus. Paul’s wilderness years. His relationship with Barnabus. His passion for making disciples and planting churches. His willingness to suffer for the sake of his Lord and Savior. His eagerness for the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ. What’s not to love? And Chuck’s wisdom and experience is priceless.

5. Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan by a Washington Post reporter named Del Quentin Wilber. Unbelievable! Read it on Kindle on a single overnight flight from D.C. to Paris this spring. Was supposed to be sleeping, but got so engrossed that I suddenly heard the captain say, “Please put your seatbelts on. We’ll be landing at Charles De Gaulle Airport in a few moments.” Yikes! A minute by minute account of one of the most horrifying days in recent American history. Interviews with dozens of people who were intimately involved. Incredibly well researched and documented. But reads like a first-rate political thriller. Couldn’t recommend it more!

TEXAS GOVERNOR CALLS FOR DAY OF PRAYER & FASTING BASED ON BIBLICAL BOOK OF JOEL: And other stories worth noting

In Uncategorized on July 2, 2011 at 1:19 pm

By God’s grace, I just spent a wonderful week with my wife, Lynn, and our four sons at the Word of Life Inn & Bible camp up in the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York. There I had the opportunity to teach the Old Testament Book of Joel over three different sessions to several hundreds pastors and ministry leaders from all over the world. Thanks for your patience as I haven’t posted for awhile.

Here’s a quick update of key stories I’ve been tracking:

  1. Texas Governor Rick Perry has called a day of prayer and fasting based on the Book of Joel. He issued a proclamation to the citizens of Texas, and sent a letter to his 49 fellow governors asking them to participate in the event, which will be held August 6th at Reliant Stadium in Houston. I couldn’t agree more with the urgency of the need for national prayer, fasting and repentance for a true spiritual revival in the United States based on the Bible, or be more encouraged than an American state leader urging people to study and follow the teachings of the Hebrew Prophet Joel. I’m planning to devote August 6th to prayer and fasting, and I encourage you to do so, as well. Excerpts from his proclamation: “Given the trials that have beset our country and world — from the global economic downturn to natural disasters, the lingering danger of terrorism and wars that endanger our troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and theaters of conflict around the globe, and the decline of our culture in the context of the demise of families — it seems imperative that the people of our nation should once again join together for a solemn day of prayer and fasting on behalf of our troubled nation,” wrote the Governor. “In times of trouble, even those who have been granted power by the people must turn to God in humility for wisdom, mercy and direction. In the spirit of the Book of Joel, Chapter 2, Verses 15-16, I urge a solemn gathering of prayer and fasting. As those verses admonish: ‘Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly…Gather the people, consecrate the assembly…’ As Jesus prayed publicly for the benefit of others in John 11:41-42, so should we express our faith in this way.”
  2. Iran developing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. “British Foreign Secretary William Hague says Iran has conducted secret tests of ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads in violation of a U.N. resolution,” reports the Voice of America. “In comments to the British parliament on Wednesday, Hague said secret Iranian tests of nuclear-capable missiles contravene U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929. He also accused Iran of engaging in covert experiments with rocket launchers….Iran on Monday began a 10-day missile training exercise that state media say is aimed at preserving the country’s ‘readiness against enemy strikes’….Iranian Brigadier General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh said the exercise includes the testing of short, medium and long-range missiles with a maximum range of 2,000 kilometers — far enough to reach Israel and U.S. bases in the region. Iran fired 14 missiles on Tuesday, the second day of the drill.” The New York Times reports the Iranians have just revealed underground missile silos designed to be less vulnerable to attack.
  3. Greek government stops second flotilla headed for Gaza– The Greeks are have horrific economic troubles, but they are still trying to bless Israel, and they should be commended. “A boat carrying a contingent of US activists seeking to join a flotilla of protesters against Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip were turned back by armed Greek commandos about 30 miles out of Athens today, in a major blow to the group and an apparent diplomatic victory for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” reports CSM. A cynical columnist for Haaretz notes: “Netanyahu’s personal investment in his relationship over the past year-and-a-half with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou in which he increased diplomatic ties with the floundering European nation seems to have put the final nail in the Gaza flotilla’s coffin.”

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