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Putin moves to boost ties with Tehran, sell missiles to Iran. Does this — and the deeply flawed proposed Iran nuclear deal — mean war is actually “more likely”? Here’s the latest.

In Uncategorized on April 14, 2015 at 3:01 pm
File photo of Putin and Khamenei meeting several years ago.

File photo of Putin and Khamenei meeting several years ago.

(Central Israel) — With U.S.-Israeli relations at arguably their lowest point in history, Russia’s ties with Iran are suddenly growing much closer.

Vladimir Putin on Monday “cleared the way for the delivery of sophisticated air defense systems to Iran,” and Iranian officials say the S-300 missile system could be “delivered his year.” 

This raises the disturbing question of whether the near-term deployment of an advanced Russian air defense system around Iran’s most sensitive nuclear sites — combined with growing concerns by numerous experts that the nuclear deal set on the table by President Obama and the P5+1 will put Iran on the legal path to building nuclear weapons in the not-too-distant-future — could actually make war in the near term more likely, rather than less.

Is this the case? Let’s hope not.

None of us wants to see a war between Iran and Israel (or the U.S. and Iran) unless absolutely necessary and only as a last possible resort. I certainly don’t. Indeed, I wrote a trilogy of novels about an American President pressuring an Israeli Prime Minister not to launch a preemptive strike on Iran, only to have Israel do it any way, with grave and unexpected consequences (see The Twelfth Imam, The Tehran Initiative and Damascus Countdown).

Still, a number of experts in the region are suggesting war in the epicenter is suddenly becoming more likely. Consider the following articles:

That said, I’m not worried. There’s reason for concern, but not fear. The negotiating process is still underway. Nothing final has been decided. And the God of the Bible remains sovereign and in control.

Still, we are commanded to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and now is a very good time to be faithful to that command. We are also commanded to love Israel as well as her neighbors and her enemies. We are commanded to strengthen our persecuted Christian brothers and sisters in the region, and strengthen and encourage the Church, and work together in love and unity to communicate the Good News of God’s love and mercy to all the people of the region. What’s more, we are to obey these commands with the hope we have in the Lord Jesus Christ who died, rose again and is coming back to reign from Jerusalem. Now is a very good time to be faithful to all these commands and the whole counsel of God in the Bible, as well.

I write these updates not to alarm you but to educate you and ultimately to encourage you. We are seeing Bible prophecies come to pass. We’re also seeing the possibility of other prophecies to be fulfilled in the near future (i.e., the “War of Gog and Magog” described in Ezekiel 38-39; the destruction of Damascus as foretold in Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49; the judgment and revival of Iran foretold in Jeremiah 49; etc). Let us, therefore, live faithfully for the Lord in light of such Scriptures and geopolitical developments.

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The following are excerpts from the Los Angeles Times article on the Russian-Iranian deal:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday cleared the way for delivery of sophisticated air defense systems to Iran with a decree that U.S. officials warned could disrupt the emerging deal to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.
  • Kremlin officials cited the April 2 framework agreement between Iran and six world powers that is expected to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons as grounds for proceeding with delivery of the S-300 missile systems, which could give Russia a jump on others in resuming trade with the long-isolated Islamic Republic….
  • It was unclear whether Moscow was prepared to ship the missile systems any time soon, or what specific antiaircraft batteries might be involved. The S-300 has been out of production for five years, and the Russian output until 2010 involved an array of ranges and capabilities, analysts said, leaving it unclear whether Tehran could deter the kind of airstrikes that Israel has threatened if the nuclear deal falters and weapons production is suspected.
  • Still, a senior Israeli official condemned the Russian announcement.
  • This is a direct result of the legitimacy that Iran is obtaining from the deal being woven with it, and it is proof that the economic momentum in Iran that will come after the lifting of the sanctions will be exploited for arming and not for the welfare of the Iranian people,” Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a statement.
  • Tehran’s order for the S-300s was held up by then-President Dmitry Medvedev in 2010, in line with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929, which banned supply to Iran of conventional weapons including missiles, tanks, attack helicopters, warplanes and ships.
  • Putin’s decree, which took immediate effect with his signature, ended Moscow’s self-imposed restrictions on transport of the S-300 systems worth a total of $800 million, the Kremlin website said.
  • By offering to resume arms sales to Iran, Putin has potentially positioned Russia for a head start over other nations in restoring trade links with Tehran. A deputy foreign minister recently told Russian lawmakers that an oil-for-goods barter deal with Iran also was in the works as a result of the perceived easing of the nuclear standoff between Tehran and the West.

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Killing Christians: persecution of Christians is worse than ever, so why is the Church growing?

In Uncategorized on April 14, 2015 at 8:25 am

KillingChristians

>> Join me for a discussion of Christian persecution in the Mideast during a special simulcast on April 19th.

We are living in a time of unprecedented persecution of Christians in the Middle East and around the world. The Lord Jesus warned His disciples that they would be persecuted, and that persecution would intensify as the time of His return drew near. Today, we are seeing His prophecies come to pass as never before.

Recently, my friend, Tom Doyle, published an important book titled, Killing Christians: Living The Faith Where It’s Not Safe To Believe. Tom not only describes the general wave of brutality against Christ-followers worldwide; he also tells specific, personal stories of believers boldly standing for their Savior — and courageously proclaiming the Gospel of forgiveness and eternal life — amidst such persecution.

This is one of the most intriguing conundrums of our time: the Church is actually growing amidst martyrdom. More and more people around the world are being drawn into a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus the Messiah not despite of such persecution but because of it. It’s happening in Communist-controlled China where the Church has grown from maybe 250,000 in the 1970s to upwards of 100 million believers today. It’s happening in the Middle East, where millions of Muslims have turned to Christ amidst brutal persecution in Iran and Saudi Arabia and ISIS controlled territories.

How? Why?

I would encourage you to read Tom’s book, and to share it and discuss it with family and friends. As you do, please pray for persecuted Christians here in the epicenter and around the world, that the Lord would continue to bless and strengthen and embolden men and women and boys and girls who are facing grave danger for preaching and teaching and living the Word of God and serving as lights in the spreading darkness.

For now, here is an article Tom wrote specifically for my blog, drawing on material he wrote for the book. I hope you find it helpful. I certainly have.

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Living the Faith Where It’s Not Safe to Believe

By Tom Doyle, author of Killing Christians

  • Forty Egyptian churches burned to the ground
  • House church leaders sentenced to Iran’s infamous Evin prison
  • Eighty Christians murdered in North Korea for merely owning a Bible
  • Believers nailed to crosses in Syria

And that’s the news from just one month in 2014.

After that, it got really bad. In summer 2014, a shocked world witnessed the phenomenal rise of ISIS, now known as the Islamic State. Within weeks, a path of destruction swept through Syria and Iraq, leaving unimaginable carnage in its wake. The brutality of ISIS and its global jihadist agenda is reminiscent of the Assyrian Empire in the Old Testament. The Assyrians leveled villages and cities with such ferocity that, in the eighth century BC, the mere mention that Assyrians were on their way prompted some villages to commit mass suicide rather than be skinned alive, impaled, taken as slaves, or allow women to be abused and kidnapped. In a fascinating twist of history, ISIS was birthed in the same region as the Assyrians, and one of the organization’s major objectives is now clear: to eradicate any presence of Christianity.

But ISIS is not alone in its quest against biblical faith. Christianity is under fire across the globe. Jesus lovers are hated in dozens of countries and often pay a gruesome price for following Him. Killing fields have become common, but Killing Christians isn’t written to sound the alarm for the persecuted church. Others have already sent out the alert, and thankfully, many are listening. What the alarms can’t tell you, though, is the inside human cost of following Jesus in the twenty-first century.

That’s why these stories were written. It would be easy to conclude from the acceleration of Christian persecution that followers of Christ are on the run and are systematically being crushed by the forces of Islamic terrorism, fanatical dictators, and hostile nations. Yet the opposite is actually true.

Jesus said His followers would experience persecution for merely being associated with Him. He also predicted an escalation of intensity over time. On the night before He went to the cross, Jesus spelled out the details: “They will put you out of the synagogue: in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God” (John 16:2).

From Chapter 1 — The Pirates of Somalia:

Two men strolled arrogantly down the center of the village road. Preoccupied over boasting about exploits with their latest girlfriends, they didn’t notice a third man step silently from between two houses and into the road a dozen yards ahead of them. Their banter stopped abruptly as Mahdi and Yasin recognized the form in their path. They were not at all happy to see Azzam Mubarak again.

“I know what you did to my mother.”

“Azzam, we had to. We didn’t want to do it, but your father ordered us and threatened to . . .” As he spoke, Mahdi’s right hand moved slowly around his back.

“I know all about my father.” Azzam stared at the two murderers. “I haven’t come to harm you.” He paused for effect. “I’ve come to forgive you.”

Mahdi and Yasin glanced sideways at each other and then back at the man facing them, wondering whether or not to believe the words they had just heard.

Azzam continued, “You need to know that I love you and have prayed for both of you ever since I saw your picture with my mother. Jesus filled my heart with compassion for you. You need Him—just like I did. He can forgive murderers. His love is greater than anything you’ve done.”

It was the first meeting between the three men. They met again—at night—several more times. Impelled by Azzam’s testimony, Mahdi and Yasin offered their lives of piracy to a forgiving Savior. For the moment, the two new believers and Azzam told no one else what had happened…

Whether it’s in Somalia, Syria, Iraq, or Saudi Arabia, a new Jesus movement is erupting around the world, and persecuted believers are leading the way. They have been given a gift from God that most of us would not want: the ability to endure enormous suffering and emerge even stronger. Church leaders in obscure places—outposts for the faith—are fully aware that passionately following Jesus has them on a collision course with hardship. They will be beaten, imprisoned, tortured, and maimed. Some will be killed. But unfazed, they move forward, in love with Jesus Christ.

Malik, a Christ follower from the Middle East, once told me: “Every Christian should go to jail at least once in life because of their faith in Christ. It’s good for you!”

Can you relate to that? This former Muslim adds: “You’ll never be the same after experiencing the loneliness of a jail cell. But then there is great elation that comes when you realize Jesus is capable of filling 100 percent of that loneliness—and more. My deepest spiritual lessons were learned on the cold floor with no one there… but Jesus and me.”

Will persecution come to America? Maybe. If it does, remembering stories of those who have already endured and emerged faithful just may be a lifeline for you. And if persecution does not come upon the church in America, you may need these stories even more. They will inspire you to live with renewed passion for Jesus. For sure, you won’t be able to read them and remain unmoved by these incredible true accounts.

So, is Christianity winning or losing? Killing Christians is written to tell stories of victory from the front lines of a war raging around Jesus’ church. The battle is fierce and not letting up.

Yet this is one of our finest hours.

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Killing Christians: Living the Faith Where It’s Not Safe to Believe is available now at bookstores everywhere.

I’m hard at work on the sequel to “The Third Target.” Here’s an update. (Also, our special simulcast on trends in the Mideast and Christian persecution is Sun, April 19th. There’s still time to register.)

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2015 at 9:48 am

Writing-newbookA-simulcast-ThirdTarget(Central Israel) — Good morning and shalom from Israel. I hope you had a very special Passover and Easter season with family and friends. We certainly did here. It was our first time celebrating these two wonderful and important Jewish holidays as immigrants here in the Land and it was a great blessing.

Now I’m back hard at work again on my next novel. For the moment, it’s simply, “The Sequel.” We’ll announce the real title later this year. It’s the follow-up novel to The Third Target and should release in January 2016.

I’m working on the book every day in my home office here in Israel, which is also our family bomb shelter. Seems appropriate to write a terrorism thriller set in the Middle East in a bomb shelter in the Middle East, doesn’t it?

My deadline to turn the manuscript into my publisher is the beginning of May. So I’m hidden away, crashing to get it done on time. It’s going well. I’m really excited about the plot, which picks up after the cliff-hanger ending in the first book. As we get closer to the release, I’ll share more details about the storyline. For now, I’d just ask for your prayers that I hit my deadline!

Meanwhile, just a quick reminder that THE THIRD TARGET SIMULCAST is coming up on Sunday evening, April 19th. During the event, which was recorded before a live audience at a wonderful church in Tyler, Texas, in January, I discuss why I wrote the novel, the research I did for the book, the real-life threat posed by ISIS to the U.S., Israel, our Arab allies, and to the Church. I was asked a number of questions about the role The Joshua Fund is playing in helping people fleeing from ISIS, and coming along side the persecuted Christians in Iraq and Syria, as well as the powerful move of the Holy Spirit in drawing many Muslims in the region out of Islam and into a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.

There’s still time for you to register to watch the simulcast — as an individual, with your home group Bible study, or as a church congregation. Please click here for more information and/or to register. Hope you can join us for a very special night.

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