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SERMON: REDISCOVERING THE POWER AND PURPOSE OF BIBLE PROPHECY — Part 1

In Uncategorized on August 31, 2012 at 5:38 pm

(Honolulu, Hawaii) — This week I had the joy and honor of teaching at a conference on the importance of Bible prophecy here in Honolulu. I taught on Monday night and Wednesday night. Here are my notes for the first message. Hope they are helpful.

REDISCOVERING THE POWER AND PURPOSE OF BIBLE PROPHECY — PART 1

* In Luke 12:51-56, the Lord Jesus said these words: “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three.They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” And He was also saying to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming,’ and so it turns out.And when you see a south wind blowing, you say, ‘It will be a hot day,’ and it turns out that way.You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time?”

* In the first century in the Roman-occupied land of Israel, people were living in a time of great anxiety. They were worried about their own future. They feared war and drought and famine and natural disasters. They desperately wanted and needed a Savior. Yet Jesus rebuked them. Why? He scolded them for having all the prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures that told them so many details about who the coming Messiah would be, but not carefully studying those prophecies in the Word of God. They weren’t observing the prophecies and comparing them to current events. They weren’t “connecting the dots.” They weren’t realizing the power or purpose of Bible prophecy.  Thus they were missing the fact that Jesus Himself was the Messiah,  was standing in their midst, and was ready, able and willing to save them from their sins and their sadness.

* Today, we, too, are living at a time of great anxiety. People are worried about their own future, and the future of the world. There is a growing threat of a major war breaking out soon in the Middle East between Israel and Iran. Various nations in Europe are collapsing economically. The American economy is in deep trouble and we are facing the very real threat of fiscal and moral implosion. We’ve seen an explosion of violence and a murder wave even in small towns in America. We’re facing all manners of natural disasters, including terrible drought, historic fires, and now another serious hurricane aimed again at the Gulf Coast.

* What’s remarkable is that all of these trends here in the U.S. and around the world are consistent with Bible prophecies about the “last days.” We are seeing End Times Bible prophecies coming true all around us, all of which tell us that we are steadily approaching the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Yet far too few people are studying the Word of God. They aren’t connecting the dots. They don’t understand the power and purpose of Bible prophecy. Thus they are missing the fact that Jesus Christ is calling them to Himself. He wants to save them from their sins and sadness. He came to offer the free gift of eternal life, and abundant life. And He’s coming back in person soon. 

* Personally, I’m fascinated with Bible prophecy, and have been for most of my life. I write non-fiction books and speak around the world about prophecy because it intrigues me so much and I feel compelled to share these truths with anyone who will listen. At the same time, I also write novels based on the premise, “What if?” That is, what if certain prophecies were  to come true in our lifetime? What would that look like? What would that feel like? I don’t know for certain when or how these events will come to pass, but novels allow me to play a “war game,” as it were. They allow me to get people thinking about what these prophecies are and considering what they mean and how they could affect our lives.

* I believe it is vitally important that people rediscover the power and purpose of Bible prophecy — now more than ever — and this is what I’d like to speak about for the next two nights.

* Unfortunately, many pastors, priests and ministry leaders here in the U.S. and around the world are not teaching Bible prophecy — as I see it, there are four major reasons for this.

First, many pastors don’t teach prophecy because they have a lack of belief in the power of God’s Word. Sadly, many pastors today don’t really believe the Bible is the inspired, infallible, authoritative Word of God. The Lord Jesus once remonstrated the Pharisees because they were misinterpreting Scripture. He said, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29) Too many pastors and priests today are the same way. They not carefully studying the whole Bible. They’re not trying to understand the “whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20:27, KJV). They don’t really believe that prophecy comes from God, and therefore they don’t teach these prophecies or help people understand why God gave us prophecy. Yet Bible prophecies are so exciting because they are intercepts from the mind of the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful God of the Universe. Prophecies tell us what is on the heart of God. They warn us to stop certain behaviors, and encourage us to be holy and walk more closely with the Lord. They are also storm warnings of future events. They tell us dramatic events that coming, and how we should get ready and be prepared to be found faithful and worthy when those moments come. Prophecies call us to serve Christ with boldness and courage so we will not be ashamed when we stand before Him face to face in the not-too-distant future. The Bible says that God gave us prophecies to build up and encourage followers of Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote, “One who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation….One who prophesies edifies the church.” (I Corinthians 14:3, 4b) Isn’t that what every believer needs, to be built up, encouraged and consoled?

Second, many pastors don’t teach prophecy because they have a lack of knowledge of — and sound training in — Bible prophecy. There are many, of course, who do believe that the Bible is the very Word of God. However, for a variety of reasons they have never taken the time to study prophecy carefully on their own, and/or weren’t taught it in any detail or depth in seminary or Bible college or seminary. Thus, they understandably feel unprepared and inadequate to help people unpack the truths of these Scriptures. Some prophecies are, of course, complicated and confusing. Some of the names mentioned in prophecies (like “Gog” and “Magog” and “Gomer” and “Put” in Ezekiel 38-39) are strange and obscure. It takes some historical detective work to determine what these things mean, and some pastors decide they neither have the interest nor the time to do the research and teach their congregations clearly and accurately, so they avoid teaching prophecy all together. I understand this, and I’m doing my best to create resources — and point people to other excellent resources that have been helpful to me — to help pastors study and teach prophecy. Because now is the time to rediscover the power and purpose of prophecy. The Bible is clear that God will bless those who study and teach End Times prophecy, and we should be faithful in doing just that. The Apostle John wrote, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it, for the time is near.” (Revelation 1:3) Amen.

Third, many pastors don’t teach prophecy because they have a fear of being lumped in with “prophecy nuts” and those who peddle sensationalism. Admittedly, there are, in fact, many nuts who try to teach prophecy. They misinterpret the Scriptures. They draw erroneous conclusions. They sensationalize. And thus they bring dishonor and discredit to themselves. Pastors are right to avoid such false teachers, and to avoid creating an appearance of cheapening the Word of God in these ways. But just because some teach Bible prophecy wrongly, or badly, is no reason for solid teachers to avoid the topic. There are those who teach false regarding the Gospels and the epistles, too. But a good pastor wouldn’t dare skip teaching correctly these books of the Bible. On what basis, then, do we have the right to avoid teaching whole books of the Bible — Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation, among others — just because some charlatans are out their misleading people? Indeed, we should be teaching solidly on prophecy all the more because of the nuts who are out there. We shouldn’t cede the battle for hearts, minds and souls to the nuts. The Apostle Paul told Timothy, “Preach the word: be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2-3)

Fourth, many pastors don’t teach prophecy because they have a lack of understanding of the times in which we live and the increasingly close return of Christ. At the same time, there are many sincere pastors who love Jesus and love the Word of God but somehow are just not gripped by the remarkable moment of history that we’re in, and the urgent need to prepare men’s hearts for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ for the Church. More than ever, we need pastors who are like the sons of Issachar, “men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” (I Chronicles 12:32) More than ever we need pastors who will obey the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ who told us to not be obsessed with understanding the future of the weather, but rather to understand “this present time” and prepare the people under our care to walk with Christ more closely and obey Him more faithfully as the Day of His return for us draws ever nearer.

With this context, I then took about 45 minutes of questions from the congregation, mostly about prophecies concerning the future of Israel, Iran, Syria and other nations in the Middle East. I’m deeply grateful to Calvary Chapel Honolulu Pastor Bill Stonebraker and his wife and team who invited Lynn and the boys and me to participate in the conference.

Here is the link to Part 2 of this message.

>> Help The Joshua Fund care for the poor and needy in Israel, teach the Word of God in the epicenter, educate and mobilize Christians around the world to bless poor and needy Israelis, train pastors and ministry leaders in Egypt, strengthen the believers in Syria, and prepare for a possible major new war in the epicenter — please prayerfully consider a generous, tax deductible financial contribution to The Joshua Fund.

INSIDE THE DEBATE: SHOULD ISRAEL STRIKE IRAN IN THE NEXT 10 WEEKS? What Netanyahu, Barak and their critics are thinking

In Uncategorized on August 30, 2012 at 1:47 am

Ten weeks. That’s all there is until November elections. The Big Question facing the people of the Middle East is this: Will Israel use this window to launch preemptive military strikes to neutralize the Iranian nuclear threat? A raging debate is underway inside the Netanyahu government in Jerusalem over whether to strike, and when.

A new article by David Horovitz, the Israeli editor in chief of the Times of Israel, goes inside this debate. He captures the thinking of both sides, those who believe it’s time to strike now, and those who say it’s too soon. I commend it to your attention. Here are the first few paragraphs:

“Hear that frantic whispering noise beneath the hum of the air-conditioners in this sweltering Israeli summer? That’s the sound of many Israeli insiders repeating over and over and over: Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it.  ‘If I were an Iranian, I would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks,’ Efraim Halevy, the wise and wily former Mossad chief observed in an Israel Radio interview early this month. Well, what some Israelis in the know are saying amounts to, ‘Never mind the Iranians, it’s the Israelis who need to be fearful. And we are. We’re terrified. We’re terrified our leaders are drawing us into disaster.’

“But there’s another sound, too — other voices just as frantic. Do it, they urge. Do it, before it’s too late. Confound the cynics who say that you, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, can’t make a decision at the best of times and are given to panic at the worst. Remember, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, that those who snipe at you are lesser men, cynics and cowards. Trust your judgment. This is the eve of ’67 again. The imperative is to act. When Halevy spoke, there were actually about 14 weeks until the US presidential elections. Now there are about 10. Ten weeks before America votes. Ten weeks before the skies cloud over, and complex, distant air strikes become still more complex. Ten weeks. Count them down….”

To read the rest of this important article, please click here.

ISRAELI RABBI CALLS FOR GOD TO “WIPE OUT & DESTROY” IRAN: But the Rabbi is wrong.

In Uncategorized on August 29, 2012 at 8:45 pm

“Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef implored God to ‘wipe out and destroy’ Iran and Hezbollah during his weekly sermon on Saturday night,” reports the Jerusalem Post. “Speaking on Saturday night, Yosef talked about the tradition on  the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, of eating various fruits and vegetables as positive portents for the year ahead. ‘When we make the blessing on the  dates that ‘our enemies and haters should be ended’ we should have in mind the  Iranian regime, those evil people who threaten Israel,’ the Rabbi  said. ‘Do good, God, wipe them out, kill them,’ he entreated, to which  the assembled crowd answered ‘amen.'”

The Rabbi is wrong. We should pray for the salvation of the Iranian people, not their utter destruction. We certainly should pray for the current regime in Iran to be changed or removed, and for the Iranian nuclear program to be dismantled or neutralized. But we should never pray for God to wipe out and kill all of the Iranian people. Rather, we should pray for all of the Iranian people — and all the people of the epicenter, including all of Israel — would hear the Gospel and receive the free gift of forgiveness and eternal life offered through Jesus the Messiah.

The Lord Jesus said, “I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28) The Lord Jesus also said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-38)

SAYING GOODBYE TO DR. KOSHY, A GREAT DISCIPLE-MAKER AND FRIEND

In Uncategorized on August 28, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Dr. T.E. Koshy, me, and Pastor Jay Koshy, on a preaching tour through Koshy’s beloved homeland of India.

My dear friend and spiritual mentor, Dr. T.E. Koshy, went home to be with the Lord Jesus Christ this morning at 12:52 a.m. eastern time. I just got off the phone with Mrs. Koshy, his son Jay, and Jay’s wife, Susi. While Koshy had been very ill for the past ten months, he had actually improved rather dramatically in recent weeks. But he suddenly reversed course after midnight and the Lord took him home.

What a wonderful home-coming he must be having today. He is finally face to face with His Savior and Lord Jesus Christ whom he loved so dearly and preached so faithfully all over the world. He’s also getting to see so many family members and friends – including his dear friend and spiritual mentor, Brother Bakht Singh – that he hasn’t seen in so long. Lynn and I are so glad Koshy is in heaven and is no longer suffering, but we are grieving his family’s loss and ours.

Lynn and I and the three younger boys are in Honolulu at the moment where I’m preaching at a conference this week. We so wish we could be in Syracuse right now to hug the Koshys and our friends there. But we’re grateful that at nearly the exact time Koshy went home to be with the Lord, we had the joy of seeing a dozen people pray to receive Christ as Savior. We’re trying to put into practice what Koshy modeled for us. We weren’t scheduled to get back to Virginia until Saturday, but we’re in the process of trying to re-route our flights so we can get to Syracuse, Lord willing, by Friday afternoon or evening, The memorial service is expected to be on Saturday morning at North Syracuse Baptist Church.

Please join us in thanking the Lord for the remarkable life of Dr. T.E. Koshy. He was a brilliant man, with five university and Bible college degrees. He was a great evangelist, disciple-maker, church planter and was one of three senior elders overseeing some 6,000 New Testament-model church congregations in India, Pakistan, Europe and Asia. He was especially dear to us. He discipled Lynn and me when we were students at Syracuse University and was the pastor of the congregation we attended, International Assembly. He founded a ministry called International Friendship Evangelism and encouraged/trained pastors and ministry leaders all over the U.S. and the world to love, care for and minister to international students and business leaders. He performed our wedding ceremony. He was the Pastor-At-Large for The Joshua Fund and spoke at several Epicenter Conferences. I also had the great joy of preaching with him when we — and Jay, his son who is also a pastor — traveled together through India, Israel and Iraq.

Next week, Tyndale House Publishers is actually releasing a book that Dr. Koshy and I wrote together, The Invested Life: Making Disciples of All Nations One Person At A Time. It is based on the very process of personal discipleship the Koshy taught us and modeled for us. It includes a good deal of his testimony, and his wife’s, and the story of how he discipled Lynn, me, and others, and how we have sought to disciples others based on the Biblical principles he taught us. I hope the Lord will use it to extend the remarkable legacy of Dr. Koshy, a man who was more like the Apostle Paul than any person I have ever personally known. When you read the book, you’ll understand why I say this.

Please also join us in praying for the rest of the Koshy family, and for the staff and congregation of the International Assembly in Syracuse who will miss Koshy dearly. Please pray for the congregations around the world that Koshy helped oversee. Pray that the Lord raises up the right man to replace Koshy as an elder. Please pray, too, for the Lord to provide for all the many medical and funeral expenses that the Koshy family has accumulated over the past ten months of this very long and challenging ordeal. Thank you so much. We love you and we’re grateful to all of you who have been praying for Koshy over the past year.

Lynn and I will miss Koshy a great deal, and we can’t wait to see him in glory one day soon.

P.S. – All proceeds from the sale of The Invested Life will go to the Koshy family. Not a dime will go to us. So one way that you could support them and extend Koshy’s legacy is to purchase a book – or a box of books – and give them to family and friends whom you are discipling. To purchase through Barnes & Noble online, please click here. To purchase through Amazon, please click here. Or you can purchase the book through your local Christian bookstore. Thanks so much.

THREE ISRAELI YOUTHS CHARGED WITH FIREBOMBING PALESTINIAN TAXI: Christians must speak out against injustice on both sides.

In Uncategorized on August 27, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Last week, I noted a reprehensible act: seven Israeli teenagers were arrested for trying to lynch several Arab youths in Jerusalem. Now we have a Washington Post report of another reprehensible act: “Three Israeli adolescents from a West Bank settlement were arrested Sunday in connection with a recent firebombing of a Palestinian taxi, Israeli police said, adding fuel to a debate in Israel about ethnic prejudice among youths. The suspects, all age 12 or 13, were to appear before a Jerusalem court Sunday evening, police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said. The attack, which injured six Palestinians, took place hours before several Palestinian youths were beaten by a mob in central Jerusalem. Police arrested seven Israeli teenagers, the youngest 13, in connection with that attack, which witnesses described as a near-lynching. Both incidents were denounced as ‘terrorist attacks’ by Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon, who said they ‘constitute first and foremost an educational and moral failure.'”

We should all be horrified by these allegations. They must be fully investigated, and if true, the Israeli young people should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. These recent acts don’t represent all Israeli youths. But Yaalon is correct: this is evidence of a serious educational and moral failure among some Israeli youths and this must be urgently addressed. Thus, what I wrote last week I will write again: These are very important issues. Christians must take acts of cruelty and injustice against Jews and/or Arabs very seriously. Those who love Israel must insist upon true justice for all Israeli Arabs and Palestinian Arabs. When it comes to justice, we are not to show partiality to one side or the other, or to pervert justice. We are not to show favoritism to one side or the other. The Bible — Old Testament and New — teaches Israelis (and all people) to love their neighbors and to insure justice for all — Jews and non-Jews — in the Land. Consider just a few of the verses of Scripture that speak to these issues:

  • Exodus 22:21 — “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
  • Deuteronomy 24:17-18 — “You shall not pervert the justice due an alien or an orphan, nor  take a widow’s garment in pledge.But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and that the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing.”
  • Matthew 19:19 — Jesus said (quoting Leviticus 19:18), “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Sadly, many who love Israel don’t speak out when injustices are done to Israeli Arabs and Palestinian Arabs. Sometimes they act as if they don’t notice such injustices, or don’t care. This is wrong. Sadly, many who love the Arabs don’t speak out when injustices are done to Israeli Jews. Sometimes they act as if they don’t notice such injustices, or don’t care. This, too, is wrong.

At the 2012 Epicenter Conference next month in Albuquerque, we’re going to address these issues. My Joshua Fund colleagues and I are going to discuss with Israelis and Palestinians who live and work in the Holy Land the enormous challenges they see in front of them, but also the amazing ways in which the Lord is working in the Land. It’s not just the crises in Iran, Egypt and Syria that Christians need to pay attention to and pray about. I hope that you’ll join us in person at the Epicenter Conference, or watch the webcast. Please invite your friends and family members to join us as well at www.epicenterconference.com and http://www.joshuafund.net.

>> Help The Joshua Fund care for the poor and needy in Israel, teach the Word of God in the epicenter, educate and mobilize Christians around the world to bless poor and needy Israelis, train pastors and ministry leaders in Egypt, strengthen the believers in Syria, and prepare for a possible major new war in the epicenter — please prayerfully consider a generous, tax deductible financial contribution to The Joshua Fund.

 

ISRAELIS PREPARES FOR WAR WITH GAS MASKS, NEW HOME FRONT DEFENSE MINISTER AS IRAN NUCLEAR THREAT GROWS AND SYRIA IMPLODES

In Uncategorized on August 24, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Evidence continues to mount that Israeli leaders are seriously contemplating launch a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, possibly within days or weeks. Now Israelis are accelerating their preparations for war. The country has a new Minister of Home Front Security. Meanwhile, Israeli citizens are standing in long lines to get gas masks for themselves and their children, concerned as much about the implosion of Syria and the possible use of Syria’s stockpiles of chemical weapons as about Iran’s nuclear threat.

“‘The world has received yet more proof that Iran is “continuing to make accelerated progress toward achieving nuclear weapons,’ Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday in a meeting with US Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) during the latter’s tour of the Middle East,” reports the Times of Israel. “Netanyahu spoke in response to a New York Times report warning that nuclear inspectors would soon report that Iran has installed ‘hundreds of new centrifuges in recent months’ and may be ramping up nuclear fuel production. He said that Iran was making progress on its nuclear program ‘while totally ignoring international demands.'”

Latest headlines worth tracking:

>> Help The Joshua Fund care for the poor and needy in Israel, teach the Word of God in the epicenter, educate and mobilize Christians around the world to bless poor and needy Israelis, train pastors and ministry leaders in Egypt, strengthen the believers in Syria, and prepare for a possible major new war in the epicenter — please prayerfully consider a generous, tax deductible financial contribution to The Joshua Fund.

ANNOUNCING THE 2013 JOSHUA FUND PRAYER & VISION TOUR TO ISRAEL: Faith in action.

In Uncategorized on August 22, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Today, I am officially announcing The Joshua Fund’s next “Prayer & Vision Trip to Israel.” It will be held June 25 through July 7, 2013 and includes admission to the 2013 Epicenter Conference. On behalf of the entire Joshua Fund team, I cordially invite you and your family to join us.

Yes, I certainly realize that war clouds are building in the Middle East. Yes,  my team and I understand full well that the chance of a major war between Israel and Iran soon — possibly in the next few months — is steadily growing. We realize that will discourage some. But we are moving forward with plans for next year’s trip to Israel and Epicenter Conference. Why? Because we believe that more than ever it’s vitally important for sincere followers of Jesus Christ to be traveling to Israel, praying for Israelis and Palestinians, encouraging believers in the Land, studying the Word of God in the Land where much of it was written, worshipping the Lord in Jerusalem, and demonstrating our unconditional love and unwavering support for Jews and Arabs in the epicenter in real and practical ways.

Now is not the time to abandon Israel. Now is the time to lean forward. Now is the time to put our faith into action. That’s why I’m asking those of you who truly love Israel and are truly “prayer warriors” to pray about this. If the Lord gives you the “green light,” then please register and plan on coming to Israel with us next summer. This trip is not for everyone. It is for those who know the Lord is telling them to participate. I’m encouraged by the fact that over 800 of you have already emailed us in recent weeks asking for details. That tells me that there is an enormous amount of interest in this next trip, even with all the growing tensions in the region. That said, we can’t accommodate 800 people on the tour, so please register yourself and your family ASAP so you can be assured of a space in this special event. To learn more — and to register — please click here.

If you have never been to the Holy Land, it is hard to describe what a profound spiritual effect such a journey can have on you and your family. You may have heard others say God’s Word seemed to “come alive” in a new way when they walked where Jesus walked, from the shores of Galilee to the Mount of Olives and into the streets of Jerusalem. Well, it’s true, and I believe our 2013 Israel trip will allow you to experience this for yourself and intensify your desire to walk more closely with Jesus Christ, especially as you come to better understand the challenges of living and working in this unique part of the world.

If you have been to Israel before, this trip will be a great opportunity to deepen your understanding of how powerfully the Lord is moving there. And this tour is like no other. Lord willing, you will visit The Joshua Fund’s warehouse, You will meet our American and Israeli staff and several of our Board members. You will participate in a practical ministry project to bless the poor and needy. You will have the opportunity to meet with and pray for local pastors and ministry leaders on the frontlines of the faith. You will participate in a special conference to study God’s Word and pray for the peace of Jerusalem. I will also teach at key locations and answer your questions about the future of the epicenter.

It’s going to be a remarkable trip at a critical time in Israeli history. Our presence will send an important message to Israelis and Palestinians that we love them and will never forget or abandon them. Please prayerfully consider joining us. I would love to see you there!

Yours to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus,

Joel C. Rosenberg

President/CEO, The Joshua Fund, www.joshuafund.net

2012 EPICENTER CONFERENCE TO FOCUS ON DANGERS OF WAR & REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY

In Uncategorized on August 22, 2012 at 4:12 pm

>> Netanyahu ‘determined to attack Iran’ before US elections, claims Israel’s Channel 10

>> Defying calls from U.S., Israel, UN chief plans visit to Tehran

We’re just three weeks away from the 2012 Epicenter Conference, which will be held September 12-16 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. On behalf of The Joshua Fund board and staff, I would like to extend this personal invitation to you to attend in person (the event this year is free), or to participate online (the webcasts are also free).

Last year, by God’s grace, more than 50,000 people from 113 countries watched part or all of the messages from Epicenter Conference we held in Jerusalem. This year, given the high stakes of what is happening in the Middle East, I pray that even more people will be involved. You can find details at www.epicenterconference.comat www.joshuafund.net, at the Epicenter Team page on Facebook, or on The Joshua Fund page on Facebook. Please plan on joining us, and please alert and invite your family and friends all over the world.

Iran’s leaders once again are threatening to annihilate Israel. Israeli leaders are telling their people to remain on alert and prepared for war. Syria is imploding. The Muslim Brotherhood has taken over Egypt and sent tanks and troops into the Sinai Desert. Once again, the eyes of the nations are riveted on Israel, the epicenter of the momentous events that are shaking our world and shaping our future. Now is the time for followers of Jesus Christ to be doing everything we can to pray for and bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus. Yet far too many Christians around the world are confused and misled by “Replacement Theology,” the view that God has rejected the Jewish people and the nation of Israel, and that the Christian Church has replaced Israel in God’s covenant.

This year’s conference will give you a detailed update on “The State of the Epicenter,” the possibility of war, and how The Joshua Fund has prepared to respond if/when war breaks out. We will help you understand what Replacement Theology is and its impact on the Church. You’ll also hear from Jewish and Arab pastors and ministry leaders and receive an up-to-the-minute update on the exciting things the Lord is doing in the Holy Land today amongst Jews and Palestinians.

Please be praying for the Lord to govern every detail of the conference. It is being graciously hosted this year by Pastor Skip Heitzig at Calvary Chapel Albuquerque. As you’ll recall, Skip and I organized the first Epicenter Conference in Jerusalem in 2008 and co-hosted the Epicenter documentary DVD in 2007. He also spoke at last year’s conference. Most importantly, please continue praying for the peace of Jerusalem and all the people in the corridor between Tel Aviv and Tehran as we enter this very dangerous season. Thank you so much, and may God equip you to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus.

REPREHENSIBLE: SEVEN ISRAEL TEENAGERS ARRESTED FOR ATTEMPTING TO LYNCH PALESTINIAN YOUTHS

In Uncategorized on August 22, 2012 at 12:46 am

“Seven Israeli teenagers were in custody on Monday, accused of what a police official and several witnesses described as an attempted lynching of several Palestinian youths, laying bare the undercurrent of tension in this ethnically mixed but politically divided city,” reports the New York Times. “A 15-year-old suspect standing outside court said, ‘For my part he can die, he’s an Arab.’…The police said that scores of Jewish youths were involved in the attack late Thursday in West Jerusalem’s Zion Square, leaving one 17-year-old unconscious and hospitalized. Hundreds of bystanders watched the mob beating, the police said — and no one intervened. Two of the suspects were girls, the youngest 13, adding to the soul-searching and acknowledgment that the poisoned political environment around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has affected the moral compass of youths growing up within it. ‘If it was up to me, I’d have murdered him,’ the 15-year-old suspect told reporters outside court on Monday. ‘He cursed my mother.’ The young man who was beaten unconscious, Jamal Julani, remained in the hospital….In the popular Yediot Aharonot newspaper, a commentator asked of the 13-year-old suspect, ‘Where on earth does a bar-mitzvah-age child find so much evil in himself?’ The article said parents should be held responsible. But on Channel 1 news Monday night, Nimrod Aloni, the head of the Institute for Educational Thought at a Tel Aviv teachers college, said, ‘this cannot just be an expression of something he has heard at home.'” [See "Prime Minister Netanyahu condemns acts of violence and racism."]

I’m horrified by the allegations of this reprehensible attack on Arab youths in Israel. These allegations must be fully investigated. If true, the Israeli young people should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This is a very important issue and Christians must take it seriously. Those who love Israel must insist upon true justice for all Israeli Arabs and Palestinian Arabs. When it comes to justice, we are not to show partiality to one side or the other, or to pervert justice. The Bible — Old Testament and New — teach Israelis (and all people) to love their neighbors and to insure justice for all — Jews and non-Jews — in the Land. Consider just a few of the verses of Scripture that speak to these issues:

  • Exodus 22:21 — “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
  • Deuteronomy 24:17-18 — “You shall not pervert the justice due an alien or an orphan, nor  take a widow’s garment in pledge.But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and that the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing.”
  • Matthew 19:19 — Jesus said (quoting Leviticus 19:18), “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

THE IMPLOSION THREAT AMERICA FACES IS BIGGER THAN THE NEXT PRESIDENT CAN SOLVE ALONE: Report from The Family Leadership Summit in Iowa

In Uncategorized on August 16, 2012 at 8:02 pm

>> Israeli PM: Iran strike worthwhile, even to delay nuke program

It was an honor to be included in The Family Leadership Summit in Des Moines, Iowa this past weekend. Most of the speakers were governors, senators, or members of Congress and they focused primarily on public policy and politics. I was invited to provide a spiritual perspective and explain the research I did for Implosion and the conclusions I have drawn in writing the book.

While I didn’t use a prepared text, here is the essence of the two major points I tried to make:

First, the threat of implosion that America faces is bigger than the next President can solve alone. Americans are deeply worried about the future of our country. They fear the ice is cracking under our feet. They increasingly fear we might not simply be in a period of decline, but rather may be facing the collapse of our economy and society. And they are right to be concerned. The federal government is spending $41,210 every second more than it receives in revenue. We already have a $15.9 trillion debt. We’re facing about $60 trillion in unfunded liabilities coming at us that we cannot afford, all related to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Our ship of state is heading for a debt iceberg of enormous proportions that will sink us if we hit it. Yet the current administration has accelerated the pace by which we are accumulating more debt. The White House, thus far, refuses to slow down or change course. Add to that fiscal threat the moral threat. We have murdered more than 53 million babies and are rapidly approaching 60 million abortions. We are guilty of rampant pornography, horrific levels of violent crime, and our families are melting down as a result of adultery, separation, and divorce. We are rapidly approaching a point of no return. The problems we now face are so profound that the next President — no matter who he is — will be overwhelmed. The right person can stop spending $41,000 more per second than we have. He could appoint pro-life judges and make other positive moves. But we need more than an election. We need a Third Great Awakening. We need a series of game-changing, sweeping, transformative spiritual revivals in this country — revivals in which so many Christians wake up and get serious about their walks with Christ, and so many non-believers to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord — that are even more dramatic that the first Great Awakening of the early 1700s, and the Second Great Awakening of the early to mid-1800s. Bottom line: if America doesn’t experience a Third Great Awakening soon, I believe we will implode.

Second, we must all ask ourselves a critically imporant question: “Is America at a Jonah moment or a Nahum moment?” As you’ll recall, this was the question I raised at a dinner with Protestant and Catholic leaders in Washington, D.C. in July. I decided to share this message in the heartland, as well. The Hebrew prophet Jonah preached the Word of God to the people of the city of Ninevah, the sinful capital of the ancient Assyrian empire. Surprisingly, when the people heard God’s Word and realized their own wickedness, they believed the Lord, they truly and sincerely repented of their sins — even the king repented — and God saw their changed hearts and decided not to judge them after all. However, about 150 years later, the next generation of Ninevites again turned away from the Lord and became wicked again. The Lord sent the Hebrew prophet Nahum to preach a message of imminent judgment, but though the Ninevites heard the word of the Lord, they did not repent, and in 612 B.C. the city of Ninevah was destroyed. (read more here) The question now is this: Will America receive God’s Word with open hearts and repent, or will we reject God’s Word with closed hearts and be judged? What’s more, will pastors throughout America be faithful to preach the Word of God from the Bible will love, compassion, firmness and authority, or will we/they run from this mission the way Jonah initially ran?

I must say that I was deeply encouraged by the response of those who attended the Summit to my remarks to the general session, as well as the executive summary of my remarks that I made during a private session with several dozen Iowa pastors. People came up to me with excellent questions, and many seemed eager to share these points with family, friends and their congregations.

I was also surprised but encouraged by some of the local media coverage of my talk. One article described my remarks as the “most interesting speech” of the Summit — “Most Interesting Speech: I thought best-selling author Joel C. Rosenberg delivered a fascinating speech. It was funny, intriguing and thought-provoking. To hear how this man of Jewish ancestry became an evangelical Christian was extremely interesting. Rosenberg’s speech made me want to go buy some of his books, which was probably part of his goal.”

As I understand it, the videos of each message at the Summit including mine will soon be available. I’ll publish a link when that happens and let you know. In the meantime, please join me in praying 2 Chronicles 7:14 for America, and praying that pastors all over the country will begin asking their congregations, “Is America at a Jonah moment, or a Nahum moment?” Thanks.

More excerpts on the Summit from this article in StatePolitics.com:

The Family Leader organization held its inaugural “Family Leadership Summit” over the weekend and by all accounts, the event was a rousing success. Luring 2012 Iowa Caucus winner Rick Santorum, 2008 Iowa Caucus winner Mike Huckabee, and Texas Governor Rick Perry to the event was quite a coup. Their presence resulted in a sellout crowd.

Perhaps even more surprising to me was the presence of Iowa Congressman Steve King and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley. Although they appeal to a lot of the same people, King is not exactly bosom buddies with Bob Vander Plaats, the CEO of The Family Leader. Grassley, often dismissed by the BVP crowd as an “establishment” Republican, delivered one of the strongest speeches of the entire event.

The Family Leadership Summit received another boost when Fox News made a late decision to air part Mike Huckabee’s weekly Saturday night program live from the event. That was due to Saturday morning’s announcement of Paul Ryan being chosen as Mitt Romney’s running mate. The nationwide publicity was another nice benefit for Vander Plaats’ group.

Here are some of my thoughts on the event…..

>> Help The Joshua Fund teach the Word of God in the epicenter, educate and mobilize Christians around the world to bless poor and needy Israelis, train pastors and ministry leaders in Egypt, strengthen the believers in Syria, and prepare for a possible major new war in the epicenter — please prayerfully consider a generous, tax deductible financial contribution to The Joshua Fund.

>> 2012 Epicenter Conference set for Sept 12-16 in Albuquerque, New Mexico — will be webcast worldwide

>> Please join the conversation and follow on Twitter @jcrflashtraffic

>> Joel’s spiritual journey — how did my parents and I come to faith in Jesus Christ?

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