What is Putin planning? Massive Russian war game set to launch Thursday on borders of three NATO countries & Ukraine. Here’s the latest.

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — Is Russia preparing to invade another European country, or simply training its forces to do so in the future?

That’s the big question as Vladimir Putin prepares to launch a massive series of war games on Thursday dangerously close to the borders of three NATO member states — the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — as well as Ukraine, which Russia has invaded and occupied portions of twice since 2014.

While it sounds eerily similar to the plot of my forthcoming political thriller, The Kremlin Conspiracy, the exercise — code-named “Zapad-2017” (Zapad in Russian means “West”) is all-too-real. It is set to begin on September 14 and conclude on September 20th, and tensions in the region are high.

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Some says the concerns are overblown and that Moscow has no intention of using military force in Europe. Such skeptics need to be reminded, however, that in just the last decade, Putin has invaded Georgia (and occupies 20% of it), Ukraine (twice, and occupies Crimea and Eastern Ukraine), and has sent forces into Syria to prop up the bloodthirsty Assad regime that has slaughtered hundreds of thousands of its own people and driven nearly half the Syrian population from their homes.

The Economist calls this “Russia’s biggest war game in Europe since the Cold War.” That said, there is a dispute over just how big.

Moscow says only 12,500 troops will take part, most of which will operate in the country of Belarus, just south of the Baltics and just north of Ukraine. But “some Western analysts, and Baltic State governments…have expressed concerns that the exercise will in reality be significantly larger, involving between 60,000 and 100,000 military personnel,” notes Janes Intelligence Review.

“According to the Baltic States, the last Zapad-series exercise in 2013 involved 75,000 military personnel, six times higher than Russia disclosed,” says Janes.

Have the U.S. and other NATO commanders positioned enough forces, tanks, fighter jets and other defenses of their own to protect against a Russian blitz? I pray yes, but I’m not so certain.

According to a recent RAND Corporation analysis: “As currently postured, NATO cannot successfully defend the territory of its most exposed members. Across multiple games using a wide range of expert participants in and out of uniform playing both sides, the longest it has taken Russian forces to reach the outskirts of the Estonian and/or Latvian capitals of Tallinn and Riga, respectively, is 60 hours. Such a rapid defeat would leave NATO with a limited number of options, all bad: a bloody counteroffensive, fraught with escalatory risk, to liberate the Baltics; to escalate itself, as it threatened to do to avert defeat during the Cold War; or to concede at least temporary defeat, with uncertain but predictably disastrous consequences for the Alliance and, not incidentally, the people of the Baltics.”

Estonia’s Defense Minister Margus Tsahkna says NATO has intelligence suggesting Moscow may leave Russian soldiers in Belarus once the exercises are over, Reuters reports. He said Russia will use 4,000 railway carriages to transport its troops and equipment to Belarus, perhaps to establish a new Russia military base.

“For Russian troops going to Belarus, it is a one-way ticket,” Tsahkna told Reuters in an interview in Malta. “This is not my personal opinion; we are analyzing very deeply how Russia is preparing for the Zapad exercises.”

Meanwhile, “Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has described Russia’s build-up for the exercise as ‘preparations for an offensive war on a continental scale,'” reports the BBC, and Ukrainian defenses are being bolstered.

According to the BBC, Poroshenko believes Russia is “using the pretext of an exercise to mobilize and position forces to conduct offensive operations” and that “he could not rule out the possibility that the drill ‘may be used as a smokescreen to create new Russian army assault groups to invade Ukrainian territory.'”

I’ll definitely keep you posted as events unfold. In the meantime, please pray for safety and security for the people of the Baltics and Ukraine. Please also pray for wisdom for their leaders and the commanders of NATO.

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>> To pre-order a copy of The Kremlin Conspiracy (which releases March 6th), please click here.

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The ghastly attacks of 9/11 were not a failure of intelligence but of imagination. (Some personal reflections on that fateful day.)

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“The most important failure was one of imagination. We do not believe leaders understood the gravity of the threat.” The 9/11 Commission Report, Executive Summary, page 9.

(Jerusalem, Israel) — Few will ever forget what they were doing on September 11th, 2001, when they first heard the news that the United States was under attack by radical Islamic jihadists using jet planes on kamikaze missions. I certainly never will.

On that beautiful, sunny, crystal clear Tuesday morning, I was putting the finishing touches on my first novel, a political thriller called The Last Jihad. It opens with radical Islamic terrorists hijacking a jet plane and flying an attack mission into an American city. What’s more, I was writing the book in a townhouse barely fifteen minutes away from Washington Dulles Airport, where at that very moment American Airlines Flight 77 was being seized and flown right over our home towards the Pentagon.

At the time, I had no idea anything unusual was underway. I had begun writing Jihad in January 2001. A literary agent in Manhattan had read the first three chapters that spring. He was convinced that he could get it published, and urged me to finish it as quickly as possible. I took the advice seriously, working feverishly to get the book done before my savings account ran dry.

As had become my morning ritual, I had breakfast with my wife, Lynn, and our kids, threw on jeans and a t-shirt, and settled down to work on one of the novel’s last chapters. I didn’t have radio or television on. I was simply typing away on my laptop when, about an hour later, Lynn burst into the house and said, “You will not believe what’s going on.” She quickly explained that after dropping off two of our kids at school she had turned on the radio and heard that the World Trade Center had been hit by two planes. We immediately turned the television on and saw the horror begin to unfold for ourselves. We saw the smoke pouring out of the North Tower. We saw the constant replays of United Airlines Flight 175 plowing into the South Tower, and erupting into massive ball of fire. And then, before we could fully process it all, we saw the World Trade Center towers begin to collapse.

Wherever I speak around the world, people ask me what my first reaction was, but I don’t recall thinking that my novel was coming true. I simply remember the feeling of shock. I remember calling friends at the White House and on Capitol Hill, and my agent, Scott Miller, in New York, hoping for word that they were safe but unable to get through, with so many phone lines jammed.

I remember Lynn and I getting our boys back from school and the friends who came over to spend the day with us. We tracked events on television, emailed other family and friends around the country and around the world with updates from Washington, and prayed for those directly affected by the crisis, and for our President to have the wisdom to know what to do next. Were more attacks coming? Would there be a 9/12, a 9/13, a 9/14? Would there be a series of terrorist attacks, one after another, as Israel had experienced for so many years?

It was not until some time in late November or early December when events began to settle down enough for my thoughts to turn back to The Last Jihad. What was I supposed to do with it? No one wanted to read a novel that opened with a kamikaze attack against an American city. It was no longer entertainment. It was too raw, too real. So I stuck it in a drawer and tried to forget about it.

But then something curious happened. Lynn and I were watching the State of the Union address in January of 2002 when President Bush delivered his now-famous “axis of evil” line, warning all Americans that the next war we might have to face could be with Saddam Hussein over terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

Lynn and I just looked at each other. It was one thing to write a novel that opened with a kamikaze attack against America by radical Islamic terrorists. It was another thing to write a novel in which such an event triggers a global War on Terror and then leads the President of the United States and his senior advisors into a showdown with Saddam Hussein over terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. But that’s exactly what happens in the novel.

Scott Miller called me the next day.

“Do you work for the CIA?” he asked.

“No, of course not,” I assured him.

“Sure, sure,” he replied. “That’s what you’d have to say if you did work for the CIA and just couldn’t tell me.”

Scott believed that the dynamic had just changed dramatically and that publishers would now be very interested in The Last Jihad. The country had largely recovered from the initial shock of the 9/11 attacks. We were now on offense against the Taliban in Afghanistan. People were reading everything they could get their hands on regarding the threat of radical Islam. And there were simply no other novels in print or on the horizon that could take readers inside the Oval Office and White House Situation Room as an American President and his war council wrestled over the morality of launching a preemptive war against the regime of Saddam Hussein. As such, he wanted to move quickly.

Jihad needed a few tweaks – acknowledging, for example, that 9/11 had happened and thus setting my fictional story a few years into the future – but other than that it was essentially ready to go. A publisher quickly agreed to take a risk on this unknown author and give the book a chance to find an audience. The Last Jihad was rushed through the publishing process and released on November 23, 2002, just as the international debate over Iraq, terrorism and WMD reached a fevered pitch.

The novel caught fire immediately. Jihad sold out in many stores in less than twenty-four hours and prompted nine re-printings before Christmas. In less than sixty days, I was interviewed on more than one hundred and sixty radio and TV talk shows. The questions were as much about the novel itself as about the story behind the novel. How could I possibly have written a book that seemed to foreshadow coming events so closely? Was it a fluke? Did I get lucky? Or was there something else going on? More importantly, what did I think was coming next?

As you will see if you read the novel, there are a number of significant differences between my fictional scenario and what really happened. But people kept asking me about the striking parallels to real life. During such interviews, I tried to focus people on the bigger picture, summing up the theme of the novel with this line: “To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it.”

The truth is, America was blindsided on 9/11 by an evil few saw coming. What’s more, those attacks were just the beginning of a long war against the forces of radical Islam, and more recently against the forces of apocalyptic Islam. The most important issue we face in the post-9/11 world is whether we have learned anything as a result of that terrible Tuesday. Do we truly understand that the forces of evil are preparing to strike us again when we least expect it? Can we truly imagine what our enemies are capable of? Are we willing to take any actions necessary to defend Western civilization from extinction? Or are we going to elevate peace over victory, retreat from the world, and simply hope for the best?

It has now been sixteen years since that horrifying Tuesday, and almost fifteen years since The Last Jihad was first published. I have written eleven more novels, most of them about worst case scenarios that could occur in the U.S. and the Middle East if Western leaders are blindsided by evil they don’t truly understand. Together, these books have sold millions of copies and have spent months on the national best-seller lists.

Such broad interest is, I believe, an indication of the anxious times in which we live. While we no longer face Saddam Hussein, now we face an apocalyptic Iranian regime, a genocidal ISIS caliphate, North Korea testing hydrogen bombs and ICBMs, and Vladimir Putin — a nuclear-armed tyrant — invading neighbors, arming our worst enemies, and jailing and “disappearing” journalists and human rights activists. All of this raises troubling new questions: What is coming next? How bad will it be? Where will I be when it happens? And am I ready to meet my Maker if, God forbid, I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time when evil strikes again?

How would you answer such questions? They are as relevant today as they ever were.

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What in the world is going on? Catastrophic hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, terrorism, nuclear threats. Is God trying to tell us something? Yes.

Hurricane-IrmaUPDATED: What in the world is going on?

Hurricane Harvey drops 33 trillion gallons of rainfall on the U.S. Experts say the floods are a once-in-a-thousand-years event. Now Hurricane Irma is bearing down on Florida. Historic, sustained winds of at least 185 miles-per-hour. Devastation in the Caribbean has been catastrophic. Experts say Florida and other American states could face the same.

Then there’s the horrific, out-of-control wildfires raging across the Pacific Northwest Countless that are “creating apocalypse-like conditions in numerous Western states, blotting out the noonday sun behind thick blankets of smoke and depositing ash like freshly fallen snow,” according to the Washington Post.

At the same time, Mexico experiences the worst earthquake in a century. Record-breaking floods are devastating Asia. Half of Bangladesh is reportedly underwater. 100,000 homes have been destroyed. Forty million people face severe and potentially life-threatening food and water shortages. Russia is preparing to mass upwards of 100,000 troops on the borders of three NATO countries for a massive series of war games that some fear is a prelude to war in Europe. The genocidal slaughter continues in Syria. Terror attacks are occurring around the globe. North Korea threatens to nuke the United States, then tests a hydrogen bomb and long-range ballistic missiles. And tensions over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem spike, then settle, then spike again.

People have all kinds of theories as to what is happening, but the answer is quite straightforward — God is trying to get our attention.

These events are not random. The God of the Bible is sovereignly allowing these events 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 He would shake the nations in the last days. “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)

The prophecies in the Scriptures are clear: the Lord will shake individuals and nations to persuade us to let go of all of the flawed political, philosophical, intellectual and religious notions that we cling to that won’t give us true and lasting peace, that don’t give us true and eternal hope, that can’t bring us any enduring security, that can’t provide real forgiveness from our sins much less eternal life for our souls.

The God of the Bible wants to shake us loose of such things in order 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 America and other nations be shaken because He hates us. He is shaking us precisely because He loves us and wants us to repent and turn to Him and call out to Him, as individuals, as families, as leaders, and as entire nations.

This is a 2 Chronicles 7:14 moment, for the Church, for America, for Israel, for all nations. “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 

Let us humble ourselves and seek the Lord while He still may be found.

HOW DEVASTATING WILL HURRICANE IRMA BE?

HOW DEVASTATING WAS HURRICANE HARVEY?

  • Harvey is a 1,000-year flood event unprecedented in scale (Washington Post) — “A new analysis from the University of Wisconsin’s Space Science and Engineering Center has determined that Harvey is a 1-in-1,000-year flood event….There is nothing in the historical record that rivals this, according to Shane Hubbard, the Wisconsin who made and mapped this calculation. ‘In looking at many of these events [in the United States], I’ve never seen anything of this magnitude or size,’ he said. ‘This is something that hasn’t happened in our modern era of observations.'”
  • Harvey unloaded 33 trillion gallons of water in the U.S. (Washington Post) — “The overwhelming majority of Harvey’s rains are over, and we have a new calculation for the total volume of water it dispensed on U.S. soil: 33 trillion gallons. This number incorporates the rainfall not only in Texas and Louisiana, but also in Tennessee and Kentucky, which also experienced torrents.”
  • Tracking Harvey’s toll: ‘This is the costliest and worst natural disaster in American history’ (Dallas Morning News) — “AccuWeather is out with the highest estimate yet of Harvey’s potential price tag. The weather foreasting service now expects damage to reach $190 billion, or a full 1 percent of U.S. economic output. ‘This is the costliest and worst natural disaster in American history,’ said Joel Myers, AccuWeather’s founder, president and chairman.”

400% SPIKE IN GLOBAL WEATHER CATASTROPHES SINCE 1970


 

 

Four Days In Jordan: We took our kids & some friends to the Hashemite Kingdom last month. What a fascinating time.

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If you ever have the opportunity to travel to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, I highly encourage you and your family to do so.

Though far too few Evangelical Christians know or think much about this remarkable country, Jordan is beautiful, friendly, and safe — and immensely rich in Biblical history.

I’ve been there nine times. In 2014, I had the opportunity to meet with Jordan’s Prime Minister and other senior officials (I wrote four columns about that trip, if you’re interested — Why I Came To Amman, Was Jesus Baptized on the East Bank?, Meeting With The Foreign Minister, and Meeting the PM). Last year, Lynn and I were invited as guests of His Majesty King Abdullah II.

That said, our sons had never been there (beyond passing through on the way somewhere else). So last month, Lynn and I decided to take three of them and meet up with dear American friends who wanted to visit both Jordan and Israel for the first time. What an amazing time!

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The eleven of us traveled through the territories of all three ancient nations that comprise the modern kingdom — Ammon, Moab and Edom. We had a wonderful Jordanian tour guide with us who helped us learn the country’s history, culture and geography.

Over the course of four very packed days, we took the kids to:

  • Bethany Beyond the Jordan (we saw the ancient ruins of the town where the Bible says John the Baptist conducted his ministry alongside the Jordan River and where many believe Jesus Himself was baptized)
  • Amman (the modern and ancient capital known in the Bible as Rabbat-Ammon and later as Philadelphia, part of the Roman Decapolis)
  • Jerash (known in the Bible as Gerasa, part of the Roman Decapolis)
  • Madaba (the site of an extraordinary ancient mosaic map of key Christian holy sites in the Holy Land)
  • Mount Nebo (where God showed his servant Moses the Promised Land of Israel, and where Moses also died and was buried)
  • Petra (the ancient Nabatean city made famous in the third sequel of Raiders of the Lost Ark — click here for the last scene)
  • Wadi Rum (the breath-taking Edomite desert made famous in the Oscar-winning — and must-see motion picture, Lawrence of Arabia); and
  • Aqaba (the southern Jordanian port city located on the shores of the Red Sea)

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Along the way, I taught the group about the many Biblical leaders who lived in and served God in Jordan during ancient times and the many important Biblical events that occurred there.

  • Job was from “the land of Uz” which was located in the southern Edomite region of Jordan. (See the Book of Job)
  • Moses lived on the East side of the Jordan River, and eventually died and was buried on Mount Nebo. (See Deuteronomy chapter one and chapter 34.)
  • The entire Israelite nation lived on the East side of the River for a time after escaping from Egypt. (See the book of Deuteronomy.)
  • Joshua lived on the East side, and from there led the Israelites across the Jordan River to the West side. (See the book of Deuteronomy and Joshua chapter one.)
  • The prophet Elijah was born and raised in the land of Gilead, which is on the East side of the River, and eventually went back to heaven there in a chariot of fire. (See I Kings 17:1, 2 Kings 10:33, and 2 Kings 2:1-14)
  • The prophet Elisha received the mantle of prophetic leadership on the East side of the River. (See 2 Kings chapter two.)
  • John the Baptist based his ministry “in Bethany beyond the Jordan,” that is, on the East side of the River. (See John 1:28.)
  • The Lord Jesus Christ may have been baptized on the East Bank, since his cousin John baptized Him and John was ministering on the East side of the River. (See John chapter one.)
  • The Lord Jesus Christ certainly traveled to the East side of the River and ministered to people on and from the East side.

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We especially focused in the New Testament on the account of the Lord Jesus healing two demon possessed men in “the country of the Gadarenes,” an ancient Roman city on the East side of the Sea of Galilee, in the northwest section of modern Jordan. (Matthew 8:28-34).

“The modern town of Umm Qais is the site of the ancient Greco-Roman town of Gadara, one of the cities of the Decapolis and, according to the Bible, the place where Jesus cast out the devil from two men into a herd of pigs (Matthew 8: 28-34),” notes the official website of Jordan’s late King Hussein.

We also looked at the accounts in Mark 5:1-20 and Luke 8:26-39. Both focus on Jesus casting a “legion” of demons out of one specific man in “the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee” and then telling that man to “go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.”

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These two accounts are more detailed versions of the Matthew 8:28-34 account. The region where the events happened is the same – northwest Jordan – as described by Matthew. But Mark and Luke use slightly different language. They refer to the “country of the Gerasenes.” This certainly included the ancient city of Gadara, but was also a broad swath of territory linked to the ancient Roman city of Gerasa, which today is known as the Jordanian city of Jerash, located about 40 miles south of Umm Qais. [See King Hussein’s website.]

The kids absolutely loved our time in Jordan, as did we adults. We loved the people, the sights, the food and the opportunity to pray for the people and the leaders of this extraordinary kingdom. I so hope you and your family will look for an opportunity to visit Jordan soon, as well.

NOTE: In addition to the pictures I’ve posted here, I’ll Tweet out more photos over the next few days.

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We are seeing the greatest advance of the Gospel in the Mideast in human history. Join us at the 2017 Epicenter Conference & discover the dramatic story the media won’t tell you.

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Is there any good news in the Middle East today? Yes, there is!

What truly excites me is that amidst the worst persecution in the modern history of the Church, we are seeing the greatest advance of the Gospel and the greatest harvest of souls in the Middle East in the history of the Church.

Today, millions in the region are searching for hope via satellite TV, radio and the Internet. Some are seeing dreams and visions of Jesus. Others are finally reading the Bible — and specifically the New Testament — (or listening to it on audio Bibles) for the first time. They’re carefully examining the claims of Jesus of Nazareth in their heart languages for the first time. They’re asking their most important questions, and getting those questions answered. And they are coming to faith in numbers we’ve never seen before.

This is a story the media won’t tell you — but it’s true, and it’s extraordinary.

That’s why I’d like to you join The Joshua Fund and me on Friday evening, October 6 and Saturday, October 7 for the 2017 Epicenter Conference, being held this year in Southern California.

Because you’ll hear from and meet Jewish, Arab and Palestinian pastors and ministry leaders — dear friends and allies of ours — as they share the story of how the Gospel is advancing and is uniquely being shared in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt amidst enormous challenges.

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I believe it’s vital that The Joshua Fund not simply care for the poor and needy — including Holocaust survivors and refugees fleeing from ISIS — though we consider it a tremendous responsibility and great joy to help local congregations in the region provide humanitarian relief.

Given this extraordinary moment in history, it’s also vital that The Joshua Fund invest in Israeli and Arab pastors and ministry leaders, to encourage and refresh them, to pray with and for them, and to help them make disciples and train and equip new believers, and develop young leaders.

And that we educate the Church in North America and around the world about God’s plan and purposes for the people and nations of the epicenter, and how powerfully the Holy Spirit in moving in this region.

In a sense, The Joshua Fund is like a venture capital fund. We’re constantly looking for small but effective ministries. We get to know them. We vet them. We pray for them. And then, if the Lord gives us the green light, we endeavor to invest in them and help them preach and teach and bear even more fruit than perhaps they could have on their own.

Please register today, join us for a fascinating and spiritually powerful event, and come discover a story you simply won’t hear on the evening news.

(Please share this with your friends on social media and encourage them to join us for 2017 Epicenter Conference.)

I’ll be speaking in Denver on Sept. 30 on the latest threats from Radical Islam, Russia & North Korea. Please register today.

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I’m looking forward to being back on the Front Range next month. On Saturday evening, September 30th, I will speak in the Denver area — the topic will be, “Brace For Impact: An Evening Discussing The Latest Threats From Radical Islam, Russia and North Korea.”

We’ll examine the latest developments and trend lines from the perspective of geopolitics, economics, and the Scriptures.

The occasion will be the annual fundraising event for Ministry Architecture, Inc. This is the ministry my parents (Len and Mary Rosenberg) started around two decades ago to provide architectural services for evangelical Christian ministries operating in developing countries who need orphanages, training centers, medical missionary hospitals, and other facilities to show the love of Jesus.

Before I speak, my folks will share about the exciting work God is doing through this ministry. Then I will discuss the latest developments in the Middle East, Russia and Asia. and answer your questions — always my favorite part of the evening. I’ll be signing copies of my books, as well.

The event will take place at Calvary Chapel South Denver in Littleton, Colorado, from 7:00pm to 9:15pm. Doors will open at 6:15pm. A contribution of $25 per person is requested to help support Ministry Architecture. Contributions are tax deductible. Registration is required, and you can register at www.ministryarchitecture.com.

Please register today by clicking here — I hope to see you there!

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Through The Joshua Fund, Evangelicals are caring for the poor & needy in Israel, the West Bank and five Arab countries with the love of Jesus. (Here’s an update on the Board’s visit to the epicenter.)

TJF-warehouseboardstaff-summer2017What a blessing to have all of The Joshua Fund Board of Directors with us here in Israel.

Over the course of five very full days, we met and prayed with our Israeli staff, visited The Joshua Fund’s warehouse in central Israel, and worked together in the warehouse, packing bags of food for needy Israelis.

Through this warehouse — and our local partners that run 17 distribution centers — TJF provides food and other supplies to some 3,000 needy families in Israel (both Jews and Arabs) every month. Why? Because the Lord Jesus commands His followers to “love your neighbor” and show compassion for people of all backgrounds, especially the poor.

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In addition, the Board traveled throughout the Land to meet with Jewish, Israeli Arab and Palestinian Arab pastors and leaders of non-profit organizations. While we wish we could have visited with all of our partners and allies, it was so special to spend so much time with this cross section.

We received detailed briefings on how the work is going. We got a clearer picture of  how they are caring for the poor, teaching the Word of God, preaching the Gospel, discipling new believers and seeking to faithfully fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew chapter 28:18-20). We had the opportunity to ask lots of questions and to hear their personal stories of why these leaders feel called by God to do this vital work.

Together, we spent time in prayer together as a Board, praying for the peace of Jerusalem and for all the people of the epicenter. We also prayed for the Lord to strengthen His Church throughout Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and in the five Arab countries surrounding Israel that we also work in — Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.

In addition, we prayed for wisdom and courage for believers throughout the region who face severe persecution. And we prayed with thanksgiving and deep gratitude for each of you who pray for TJF and our allies, and who faithfully invest financially in this ministry.

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Here are some of the Scriptures that guide our Board and staff:

  • Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:14)
  • Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done. (Proverbs 19:17)
  • The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor. (Proverbs 22:9)
  • Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses. (Proverbs 28:27)
  • If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:17)

Lynn and I are so grateful for all of TJF’s Board and staff members and for all of our dear allies. They genuinely love and want to serve both Israelis and Palestinians, and it is such a joy to work side-by-side with them.

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Announcing the 2017 Epicenter Conference: “What does the Future Hold for Israel and Her Neighbors?” (Register today)

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What does the Future Hold for Israel and Her Neighbors?

Join The Joshua Fund and me on Friday evening, October 6 and Saturday, October 7 for the 2017 Epicenter Conference, being held this year in Southern California.

Come an hear from Jewish, Arab and Palestinian pastors and ministry leaders as they share the story, in real time, of how the Gospel is advancing and is uniquely being shared in Israel and in the neighboring nations.

This is the first Epicenter Conference we’ve held in four years — register today and join us for a fascinating and spiritually powerful event.

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NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN WITH NORTH KOREA: How did we get to the point that Pyongyang may have 60 warheads? Disastrous deals cut by Presidents Clinton and Obama. Here are the facts.

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While a preemptive North Korean nuclear attack on the U.S. and/or America’s Pacific allies sounds like a plot ripped from my 2008 novel, Dead Heat, it may no longer be a fictional scenario.

U.S. intelligence agencies are now convinced that “North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles, crossing a key threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power,” reports the Washington Post, based on a confidential analysis by the Defense Intelligence Agency.

“The United States calculated last month that up to 60 nuclear weapons are now controlled by North Korean leader Kim Jong In,” notes the Post.

This week, Pyongyang threatened to attack the island of Guam with ballistic missiles that could be armed with nuclear weapons. With 160,000 residents and two U.S. military bases, the Pacific island territory now appears to be in Pyongyang’s crosshairs.

President Trump immediately warned the leaders of North Korea not to dare even consider attacks against the American people or their allies, saying they would experience American “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

“Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely,” the President added. “Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path.”

We need to pray for peace, and for our leaders to have wisdom to know how best to contain the North Korean threat and ratchet down tensions. We need to pray that countries like China will use their considerable leverage to persuade the North Koreans to back down. As a protective measure, the U.S. needs to be urgently bolstering its naval and air assets in the Pacific theater, as well as its missile defense assets, closely coordinating both defensive and offensive capabilities with allies like South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and Taiwan, among others.

At the same time, we need to reexamine the disastrous nuclear deals both President Clinton and President Obama made with North Korea. Both men promised the American people that their diplomacy would make us all safer by persuading Pyongyang not to pursue nuclear weapons or the long-range ballistic missiles to deliver them. Both could not have been more wrong. Such serious misjudments have helped get us to this exceedingly dangerous moment.

In October of 1994, President Bill Clinton cut a deal with North Korea in which Pyongyang agreed to “freeze and gradually dismantle its nuclear weapons development program,” reported the New York Times.

“This agreement will help achieve a longstanding and vital American objective — an end to the threat of nuclear proliferation on the Korean Peninsula,” Mr. Clinton told the American people.

“This agreement is good for the United States, good for our allies, and good for the safety of the entire world,” Mr. Clinton added. “It’s a crucial step toward drawing North Korea into the global community.”

In return, the Clinton administration gave North Korea $4 billion in energy aid.

In addition, the Clinton deal gave North Korea two nuclear power plants, for which American taxpayers helped foot the bill.

“This is a good deal for the United States,” Mr. Clinton said at the time. “North Korea will freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program. South Korea and our other allies will be better protected. The entire world will be safer as we slow the spread of nuclear weapons.”

But Mr. Clinton and his senior advisors couldn’t have been more wrong.

In February of 2012, President Obama was similarly duped.

Mr. Obama agreed to a deal in which Pyongyang promised (again) not to build nuclear weapons and stop testing long-range ballistic missiles.

In return, the Obama administration agreed to give North Korea 240,000 metric tons of food.

Experts warned the Obama team at the time that “it is naïve at best for the administration to herald a North Korean ‘commitment to denuclearization’ after the many years of North Korean actions definitively proving the contrary.”

Less than a month later, Pyongyang tested another long-range rocket in clear violation of the agreement, and a humiliated Mr. Obama had to suspend the food aid program.

Clearly, the policy of “strategic patience” (read: “do nothing and hope for the best”) run by Mr. Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been a colossal failure.

If all this weren’t bad enough, it’s made worse by the fact that the insane Obama nuclear deal with Iran was essentially patterned — and sold — after the Clinton deal with North Korea. As I warned in this Fox News interview and elsewhere (see here and here), the ayatollahs in Tehran are working closely with Pyongyang on nuclear and missile technology. They’re also watching how the U.S. and the world powers handle a nation aspiring to become a nuclear armed power. So far, they’re learning the West can be played for fools, and a small but aggressive nation can build a nuclear arsenal without much fear of being stopped.

Developing…..

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PROVOCATION: Putin sending 100,000 troops to borders of NATO states — expels US diplomats — as tensions with the West spike. Here’s the latest.

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Though much of the world’s attention is understandably riveted right now on North Korea and their chilling nuclear threats against the U.S., tensions with Russia are also spiking and require urgent attention.

Consider just a few key developments that have occurred in recent weeks:

  • Moscow is gearing up for massive war games later this Fall that could put upwards of 100,000 Russian troops on the borders of the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Each of these countries are NATO members. Each lived for decades under the cruelty of Soviet occuption. Each are increasingly worried Putin may be interested in seizing them and putting them once again under Russian hegemony. It’s a concern I share but am concerned not enough leaders in the West do.
  • If such provocations weren’t enough, Vladimir Putin has just expelled 755 American diplomats from Russia, effective September 1st.
  • Putin has further “ratcheted up military provocations against NATO forces across Eastern Europe” by sending Russian warplanes to make “provocative flybys of NATO ships and aircraft,” by deploying “new military hardware to its Kaliningrad exclave, a territory nestled between the Baltic countries and Poland, which are all NATO members” and by conducting “cyber warfare attacks on the electoral processes of multiple NATO countries, including, but not limited to, the U.S., Germany and France,” according to a U.S. defense analyst writing in Newsweek,
  • All this, of course, comes after decisions by Putin to invade and seize Crimea and Eastern Ukraine since 2014.
  • To reassure our NATO allies that we will stand with them and honor Article V — NATO’s mutual defense pact stating that an attack against one NATO member is considered an attack against all — President Trump gave a major (and very good) address in Warsaw, Poland, on July 6th, which I would commend to your attention. Poland is a key NATO partner and one of America’s closest allies in Eastern Europe.
  • On July 31st, Vice President Pence visited Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, where he addressed NATO forces and met with leaders from all three Baltic States. This was also an excellent speech which I would encourage you to listen to or read. (here is audio and the text of the speech)
  • Then, Vice President Pence visited Georgia, which was invaded and partially occupied by Russia in 2008, and Montenegro, NATO’s newest member, where he rightly denounced Russian “aggression” and “occupation.”
  • What’s more, Congress has overwhelmingly passed — and President Trump has just signed — new economic sanctions on Russia to respond to Moscow’s efforts to interfere with American elections in 2016. The Senate vote was 98 to 2 in favor of the sanctions. The House passed the measure 419 to 3.
  • At the same time, as I recently wrote about from Berlin, President Trump is wisely continuing to press every NATO member to keep its commitment to invest at least 2% of its annual GDP on defense. Currently, only five countries are keeping that critical pledge — the U.S., Greece, Estonia, the U.K., and Poland. That said, Romania has just announced it will be the 6th country to hit the 2% mark. What’s more, Latvia and Lithuania have just announced they are dramatically increasing their defense spending and will both hit the 2% target by 2018. Other countries are beginning to step up, as well.

We need to be praying for U.S. and NATO leaders to have the wisdom and courage to bolster their forces in the Baltics and dramatically increase their deterrence against Moscow throughout Eastern Europe. We don’t want to see a scenario in which an emboldened Czar Putin feels tempted to invade anyone else.

I’ve been keeping an especially close watch on such developments as I finish editing the manuscript of my new political thriller, The Kremlin Conspiracy, which is scheduled for release in North America on March 6th. More on this soon.

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Excerpts from the New York Times story on upcoming Russian war games:

  • “Russia is preparing to send as many as 100,000 troops to the eastern edge of NATO territory at the end of the summer, one of the biggest steps yet in the military buildup undertaken by President Vladimir V. Putin and an exercise in intimidation that recalls the most ominous days of the Cold War,” the New York Times recently reported.
  • “The troops are conducting military maneuvers known as Zapad, Russian for ‘west,’ in Belarus, the Baltic Sea, western Russia and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad,” the Times noted. “The drills will feature a reconstituted armored force named for a storied Soviet military unit, the First Guards Tank Army. Its establishment represents the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union that so much offensive power has been concentrated in a single command.”
  • The Times story added that “the move is part of a larger effort by Mr. Putin to shore up Russia’s military prowess, and comes against the backdrop of an increasingly assertive Rssia. Beyond Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election in support of the Trump campaign, which has seized attention in the United States, its military has in recent years deployed forces to Syria, seized Crimea and intervened in eastern Ukraine, rattled the Baltic States with snap exercises and buzzed NATO planes and ships.”

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