Myths of Rich and Poor


Thomas Sowell is one of my heroes. In an article I am about to post from Human Events Online Sowell displaces the myths of a deteriorating American economy.
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by Thomas Sowell
Posted Feb 08, 2006

HumanEventsOnline

 

There is a fundamental difference between seeking the truth and scoring points. In politics, the truth is strictly optional and that also seems to be true in parts of the media.

Much of what is said about the incomes of Americans is said to score points. For example, it has been repeated endlessly that the average American family’s income has not increased significantly for decades and that real wages are actually going down, not up.

That is great stuff for scoring points. You can just imagine the words and the music: The economy is stagnating, the American Dream has become a nightmare, our best days are behind us, etc.

The fact that the conclusions are totally false has not cramped anyone’s style. Best-selling authors reap the profits of doom by writing such stuff. Politicians show how compassionate they are by promising to rescue us from economic disaster. Those who want to show how hip they are by disdaining American society get their jollies by scoring such points.

A book titled "Myths of Rich and Poor" by W. Michael Cox and Richard Alm exposes such nonsense for the fraud that it is.

Despite the statistics that show real wages going downhill over time, somehow Americans are consuming more than ever and have a larger net worth than ever.

As of 1970, for example, only about a third of American homes had both central heating and air conditioning, while more than four-fifths had both in the 1990s. Moreover, the homes themselves were more than one-third larger.

Just over one-fourth of American households had a dishwasher in 1970 but more than half did by the 1990s. Only 34 percent of households had color television in 1970 but 98 percent did in the 1990s.

How could this be, with lower real wages? Were we just going deeper and deeper into debt? Actually the net worth of Americans more than doubled during those same years.

Was there some kind of economic Houdini who could perform such magic?

No. Actually a lot of the point-scoring rhetoric involves misleading statistics. Wages are only part of total compensation — and increasing proportions of that total compensation is taken in the form of fringe benefits. Total compensation has been going up while average real wages have been going down.

Even the decline of real wages has to be taken with a grain of salt. Real wages are calculated by taking the money wages and adjusting for changes in the consumer price index.

Only an economist can get excited by the consumer price index. Other people’s eyes are more likely to glaze over when the term is mentioned. However, an inaccurate consumer price index is part of the reason for the appearance of declining real wages.

When the consumer price index says that inflation is 3 percent a year, it may really be more like 2 percent or 1.5 percent. As anyone who has had to pay off a mortgage knows, a difference of a percentage point can add up to real money over a period of decades.

Economists’ estimates of how much the consumer price index exaggerates inflation range from an estimate of one percentage point by former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan to an estimate of 1.5 percent by Michael Boskin, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to the President.

Even if we take the lower estimate of one percentage point, over a period of 25 years, that under-estimates the real income of the average American by nearly $9,000. In other words, a working couple will have their real income under-estimated by nearly 18 grand, using the consumer price index to correct for inflation.

No wonder the income statistics look so bad, even while the standard of living is rising and Americans have a higher net worth than before. Nothing is easier than to turn reality upside down, especially if you are just trying to score points, instead of getting at the truth.

My comment on this book has been reprinted on its cover: "Cox and Alm deserve a medal for bringing some sanity to a subject where insanity is the norm."

If making a whole society’s rising prosperity look like a disastrous decline is not insane, what is?

Dr. Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

 

 

Exodus Is on Hold for Would-Be Israelis


Here is an idea for Israel. When Hamas launches its inevitable invasion of Israel after Palestinian statehood, then Israel will kick Palestinian butt in self-defense. Israel then can legitimately annex the West Bank. After annexation, Israel should populate the West Bank (actually it is Biblical Israel) with these Ethiopians who are converted or aspiring Jews. In return Israel would have an extremely loyal new citizen base to confront hostile Islamofascist Arabs.
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  • In Ethiopia’s capital, thousands live in limbo as they await approval to immigrate. But officials must first sort out who is a Jew and who isn’t.
  • By Edmund Sanders, Times Staff Writer

     

    L.A. Times World News

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — In shantytowns scattered around the imposing Israeli Embassy here, thousands of self-described Ethiopian Jews wait idly, hoping one day to make it to the Promised Land.

    They started flooding to Addis Ababa nearly a decade ago, expecting to join a massive migration to Israel. Now many are caught in limbo. They abandoned their jobs, homes and in some cases even religious beliefs, but are uncertain whether they will ever join a resettlement program bogged down by budget constraints, political whims and an international debate over who is a Jew.

    Like many, Haymanot Hailu, 34, moved eight years ago to a one-room metal shack in the shadow of the heavily guarded hillside embassy. She and her husband gave up a comfortable life as sorghum farmers in the green hills of the north to bring their six children to Ethiopia’s congested capital. Neither has been able to find steady work, and they barely earn enough as day laborers to feed the family.

    They are sustained by one dream: to go to Israel, where, Hailu says, her sister is waiting.

    "I miss our old life very much, but now I try to forget it," she said. "I’m only looking forward. There’s no going back. I don’t know what we will do if we don’t go. We are Jews and we want to go to the Promised Land."

    It’s unclear whether Hailu, and thousands like her, will be judged by Israeli authorities as eligible for relocation. Many are suspected of feigning Jewish roots to trade an often impoverished existence for a more comfortable, government-subsidized life in Israel. Others simply won’t qualify under eligibility rules, which require them to have relatives living in Israel.

    "We can’t estimate how many are waiting for nothing," said Ori Konforti, head of the Jewish Agency for Israel in Addis Ababa, which has been appointed by the Israeli government to sort out who is a Jew and which Jews qualify for immigration. A final list of those eligible for resettlement is expected in June.

    "It’s a tragedy," he said. "We’re going to give many people — maybe hundreds, maybe thousands — a negative answer."

    Israel’s ambitious resettlement efforts have relocated more than 50,000 Ethiopian Jews over the last 20 years. These potters and weavers, known as Beta Israel, or Falasha, are believed by some to be lost descendants of the ancient tribe of Dan, perhaps emigrating from what is now Israel to Egypt nearly 2,000 years ago.

    Many Ethiopians believe the first Jews arrived here 1,000 years before that with Menelik I, allegedly the son of King Solomon and the queen of Sheba. According to Ethiopian legend, Menelik and a group of Hebrew scholars left Jerusalem with the Ark of the Covenant, containing the original Ten Commandments, which some believe still rest in a church in the northern city of Aksum.

    Other scholars speculate that Ethiopian Jews are former Christians who broke with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church several hundred years ago and began practicing Judaism.

    Whatever the origin, the first wave of Ethiopian immigrants in Israel had undeniably Jewish roots. Though they had lived in isolated areas of Ethiopia, in the northwestern region of Gondar, they retained Jewish traditions such as observing the Sabbath. Stars of David survived in the communities, and some of their language was similar to Hebrew.

    Most of these Ethiopians left their homeland in dramatic airlifts, one during a famine in 1984 and a second in 1991 when the country’s then-communist government collapsed. Today only a handful of the original Beta Israel remain.

    The current controversy surrounds a second group, the so-called Falash Mura, who say their ancestors were forcibly converted to Christianity during the 19th and 20th centuries or opted to forsake their religion to escape social ostracism and economic discrimination.

    After watching the first wave of Ethiopian Jews depart, thousands of Falash Mura rushed to embrace their Jewish roots and claim rights under Israel’s Law of Return. Estimates of this group range from 15,000 to 25,000, including 2,500 to 5,000 in Addis Ababa.

    Skeptics have questioned some of the claims.

    "It’s a very convenient story if you want to go to Israel," said historian Richard Pankhurst, founder of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies at Addis Ababa University. "But there is no evidence of forced conversion in Ethiopian history."

    Jewish scholars also have debated whether the Falash Mura should be considered Jews. For most of the last 15 years, Israel has resisted calls to resume massive airlifts for them.

    Would-be immigrants are increasingly frustrated.

    "The Israeli government hasn’t kept its promises," said Getnet Mengesha, 36, a Falash Mura community leader in Addis Ababa who moved from Gondar in 1998.

     

    Last fall, he and several hundred other Falash Mura in the capital went on a hunger strike for three days, demanding the right to emigrate and defending their Jewish roots.

    As a boy, Mengesha says, his Ethiopian Orthodox Christian father divorced his mother after learning her family was Beta Israel. Though there is a debate about the level of persecution faced by Ethiopian Jews, there’s little doubt that Beta Israel were never fully accepted into society.

    "We had to hide ourselves," Mengesha said. Though he was raised Christian, he said, his mother’s father secretly taught him about his Jewish heritage. "Now we are proud to be Jewish."

    He and others waiting in Addis Ababa have rushed to embrace Jewish lifestyles and practices.

    Each morning, scores gather in a makeshift open-air synagogue with a dirt floor and a corrugated-aluminum roof held up by steel beams painted blue and white. The walls are decorated with colorful paintings depicting Moses and the enslavement in Egypt. Worshipers cover their heads with homemade yarmulkes, baseball caps and prayer shawls, reciting prayers in Hebrew.

    For a while, young Falash Mura learned about Judaism at a school operated by the U.S.-based North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry, which offered Hebrew lessons, free meals, computer training and other assistance. The group also ran the synagogue.

    But some immigration experts in Ethiopia and Israel say the humanitarian effort complicated matters by creating dependency among once self-sufficient farmers and attracting desperate families to Addis Ababa in search of free services even though they were not eligible for relocation.

    Under pressure from the Ethiopian and Israeli governments, the group closed most of its operations in the capital a year ago. Community members have kept the synagogue running, but the school remains shuttered, and dozens of dusty computers sit unused in a locked room.

    Israeli officials say they are working to resolve the resettlement issue. Last year, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered that 15,000 Falash Mura be resettled by 2007, characterizing it as the final wave of the Ethiopian immigration program.

    "We are trying to put this topic to an end," said Konforti of the Jewish Agency for Israel.

    But the new program is off to a slow start. To meet the 2007 deadline, 600 immigrants should depart each month. Currently only about half that number leave, hindered in part by lack of funds, Konforti said.

    This week, a delegation of U.S. Jewish leaders that recently pledged $100 million toward the immigration effort is planning to visit the region to oversee progress. About $23 million is expected to be spent on food, housing and education for Falash Mura in Ethiopia.

    Konforti said he hoped that the relocation program would be running at full speed by March.

    Around Addis Ababa, would-be immigrants say all they can do is wait and pray.

    Germa Tesfahun, 41, recently got the call he had been waiting for since 1998. He was told by the Israeli Embassy to bring his wife and three children for medical checkups and orientation before flying to Israel.

    Interviewed on the eve of their departure, he said he would miss his friends and family in Ethiopia.

    "But I’m one of the lucky ones," he said. "This is about giving my children a better life. They are the ones I’m thinking about."

    IRAN HOLDS PLANET HOSTAGE


    Iran is becoming the Nazis of the 21st Century. The Imams in that state have enslaved their people to a form of Islamofascist Shi’iteism. Iran’s President Ahmadinejad is actually using his political forum to soap box the set up of world anarchy to hasten the coming of the Mahdi – a Mohammedan messiah representing the hidden Imam of the past.
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    IRAN HOLDS PLANET HOSTAGE

     

    (02/07/06)

    The American Daily

     

    Iran will build a bomb. It will hold the planet hostage.

    Iran will ascribe its present 50-year-old President as World Emperor.

    If the world does not bow down to him, he will blow up the planet. If the world does bow down to him, he will take the world population as slaves to Allah or kill those who rebel.

    This is the first time that a nuclear power holds to a cultic belief in a returning Messiah. In other words, this is a first for coupling religious fanaticism with nuclear destruction.

    Under Communism, the religion was atheism. There was no god. Therefore, there was nothing but this life, then death. Consequently, there was no messianic fanaticism driving the Communist leaders. They simply killed to kill and conquer.

    But under Iranian nuclear power, Iran will create the globe’s empire for Allah. All Africa will be a part of the Iranian despotism. Europe, presently dealing with angst because of cartoon protests, will get its fill of it when Iranian zealot President takes Euro-Asia unto his bosom.

    North America will be threatened to drop the first bomb or retaliate against Iran’s first drop with US drops following. In any case, it won’t be pretty.

    You see, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad believes that Mahdi, Muhammad ibn Hasan, will come back to this globe. He is the spiritual descendant of Prophet Mohammed, having disappeared as the 12th Imam. That was in the 9th century when the Messiah was only 5 years old.

    The Islamic Messiah is waiting in the wings for chaos to envelop the globe. Then he will pierce the skies to reign upon Earth.

    The Iranian President is not the only one who holds to this cultic creed. This is the belief of the chief sect, "the Twelvers," within Iran’s Muslim population.

    Nothing propels mortals more than religious zeal. Cultic zeal even more so. Therefore, it is a given that Iran will bargain for top rung on the world’s power ladder for Allah’s sake. Nothing that the UN or Western voices say will deter Iran from its prime goal: Muslim World Empire over which the coming Islamic Messiah will rule in universal peace.

    Christians who study biblical prophecy believe that Christ will return again. Between Christ’s first and Second Coming is the Church Age. Christ’s return will also be preceded with His prophesies fulfilled as recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 as well as the symbolic Book of Revelation and certain Old Testament sections such as Ezekiel 36 – 39.

    Christians hold that prior to Christ’s return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords there will be planetary disarray with wars and rumors of wars, pestilence, increase of sin, discord within families, false messiahs, famine, fear, martyrdom, and the preaching of the gospel worldwide. All these prophesies are taking place daily.

    Further, there will appear an Antichrist and False Prophet. They will be demon possessed, holding the planet in their hellish charisma.

    All sorts of calamities will strike the planet: a third of the Earth burnt up, waters turned to blood (polluted), diseases spreading, boils appearing on the skin of the spiritually rebellious, and the growth of the apostate church. That apostate church will be made up of what is presently forming, that is, the spiritually rebellious appearing as spiritually legitimate. The Episcopal Church, Unitarian Society and United Church of Christ (Congregational), for instance, are examples of same by their recognizing practicing homosexuality as divinely blessed.

    The apostate church is symbolized in the Book of Revelation as the harlot—Babylon. That is, it is the prostituting of the true divine revelation appearing in the Holy Bible.

    The "harlot faith" will be the global false religion ruled by the False Prophet. The devil, "that old dragon," will hold sway while the genuine believers will be persecuted, many martyred. It is interesting to note that in the Book of Revelation, "beheaded" is the term used regarding the martyred Christians. Beheading is the prime means of Muslims killing infidels.

    How compelling then to witness now the demonic rise of a messianic hope within a Muslim sect while biblical Christians hold to a Christ return. These two parallels are striking—the one from hell and the other from heaven.

    It is the gospel that Christians use to bring persons to the living hope in Savior Christ. It is the bomb that Muslims use to hold the planet hostage in despair and fear.

    Unless the free nations explode the Iranian agenda now, it will proceed to Muslim World Empire with the present Iranian President serving as emperor. That is his dream.

    Presently his power hold is the nuclear bomb.

    Yet, as Christians believe: "The battle is the Lord’s."

    Click:

    TRUTH RE MOHAMMED: RAPE, MURDER, MOLESTATION, BEHEADING

    FaithFreedom.org Gallery

    Copyright © 2006 by J. Grant Swank, Jr.

    Mohammedan Cartoon Caricatures


    Here’s a hat tip article from Know Thyself Blog. Things are getting crazy in Iran and Afganistan and the Western media is in debate.

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    229 magnify

    This issue of free speech versus religious respect is still heating up. I have been tracking this at another website: Slantright.com .

    I tend to have little respect for Mohammedanism because in my view it is a violent and intolerant group of peoples. In Mohammedan lands violence is an expression of their disharmony with the rest of the World. (See The Religion of Peace )

    I am extremely disappointed that the Bush Administration  via the State Department has officially comdemned the right of free speech in Europe. (See U.S. Comdemnation )

    Many American MSM sources are reporting about the contraversy yet avoiding publication of the cartoons themselves. (Latest AP Story About Media Debate ) I find irony in this because of the anti-Christian agenda of liberals and the MSM in America. Multiple places to check: American Thinker , Lies of the ACLU , and David Limbaugh Challenges Anti-Christian Liberalism .

    The primary question of our age will be, "When will the West WAKE UP to Mohammedan intolerance?"

    Mohammedan Cartoon Hysteria


    I have been engrossed in this Mohammedan hysteria over cartoons that portray their prophet in a negative way. The consensus I have been reading is that the more conservative bloggers kind of think poor babies in the Middle East. The consensus among liberal bloggers is actually more compassionate. The liberals seem to be ranging between free speech but wrong to be offensive to why in heaven’s name should anyone offend someone’s religion to the point of anger.

    Of course I lean toward more the conservative view that Mohammedans are simply violent whiners and they should keep their culture in the Middle East and the Western Democracies not be hampered in Free Speech simply because a religion foreign to the West is offended.

    There are a few a good places to go that have been tracking this situation.

    The most intellectual blog I have found that has attempted to view this philosophically is Protein Wisdom Blog.  There are some very good thoughts there.

    Another place dear to my heart is SlantRight.com.  SlantRight.com is my baby and the favorite of my blogs. The I just provided goes to a string of articles that begins with Michelle Malkin, then roams with quite a few links and thoughts from other blogs on this hysteria depicting Mohammad in cartoons.

    [* I actually posted this originally at my Know Thyself blog. My other blogs tend to be more politically oriented, however this is quite the blogosphere phenomena.]

    Additional Constitutional Authorities Relevant to NSA Electronic Surveillance


    H. Bryan Cunningham, who has served as a National Security lawyer and a CIA officer, has sent a letter to Senators Spectre and Leahy of the Senate Judiciary Committee questioning the constitutionality of the FISA Court system.
     
     

    "Taken to its logical extreme, the Critics’ position would fundamentally alter the system of separation of powers and checks and balances created by our Constitution, transforming our govenmental system into one in which Congress alone reigns supreme in virtually all spheres of governmental action".

    The above quote is from a pdf file that represents a 24 page letter sent to the Senators. Mr. Cunningham served in government during both Democratic and Republican Administrations.

     

    I imagine this documentation could be used as future findings if there is a referral to the Supreme Court or potential impeachment hearings. Time will tell. 

    “Truth and Tactics Concerning Temptation”


    Temptation is the spiritual plague of Christianity. The only way to overcome temptation is the application of the Word of God via the vehicle of the Holy Spirit. Thank God for Jesus.
     
    I actually received this word from the Elijah List Email in which I participate. I have heard James Goll minister, he is used mightily by the power of God to transform lives.
     
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    "Truth and Tactics Concerning Temptation" 
    –James Goll
    February 4, 2006
    Encounters Network
    www.jamesgoll.com
     
    Five Foundational Truths

    Concerning Temptation

    At times, it is important that we have a firm foundation in our life, family, and ministry. In times of transition, it is also imperative that we re-look and even re-establish a solid foundation in our lives. I want to redefine some moral boundaries so that we do not become deceived by the enemy. Sound good? Then proceed ahead with me to look at Five Foundational Truths Concerning Temptation.

    1. God Tests, but Never Tempts

    Whereas, God may test our faith, but He never tempts us.

    James 1:13 states:

    "…Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone." James 1:13

    The purpose of divine testing is to sanctify and strengthen. James 1:2-4 tells us:

    "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." –James 1:2-4

    The purpose of satanic tempting is to deceive and destroy (John 10:10).

    2. Temptation Begins in the Flesh

    Temptation almost always begins in the flesh.

    James 1:14 explains, "But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust." Our flesh sets fire to sin. Satan then simply fans the flame higher.

    3. To Be Tempted is Not a Sin!

    Temptation, in and of itself, is not sin! Jesus was repeatedly tempted (Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:15), but He was sinless.

    Martin Luther once stated, "You can’t prevent the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair."

    "A temptation only becomes sin when we accept it, when we fondle it, when we enjoy it." –a quote from Martin Lloyd-Jones.

    4. The Essence and Strength of Temptation

    The essence and strength of temptation is two-fold:

    a. The enticement to satisfy legitimate needs through illegitimate means.

    b. The enticement to push virtues to the extreme of religious legalism with unquestioned acceptance. 
     

    5. The Problem of Giving into Temptation

    The more often we say "yes" to a temptation, the more difficult it becomes to say "no." Sin is addictive and habit forming. It builds to ever increasing dimensions. It has a hardening effect on the soul of the individual (Hebrews 3:12-13). It is a lie at the core. It offers one thing and produces another.

    Satan Especially Likes to Tempt Us…

    1. When our faith is young–when the Christian is newly or recently converted (I Timothy 3:6).

    2. When our faith feels strongest–when we think we are invulnerable to sin (I Corinthians 10:12).

    3. When we are in an alien environment and culturally unaware of the enemy’s schemes in a given region.

    4. When our faith is being tested in the fires of affliction:

    a. Physical affliction (Matthew 4)

    b. Spiritual affliction (Job 2:1-10)

    5. Immediately following great spiritual highs and lows. Heed the lessons of Elijah in I Kings 18 and 19.

    6. Perhaps Satan’s most effective tactic in tempting us is to put his thoughts into our minds and then blame us for having them.

    a. See I Chronicles 21:1, Matthew 16:13-23, John 13:2, and Acts 5:1-3 on Satan’s ability to put his thoughts into your mind.

    b. "When thoughts or inclinations contrary to the will and ways of God creep in, many dear Christians mistake these miserable orphans for their own children and take upon themselves the full responsibility for these carnal passions. So deftly does the devil slip his own thoughts into the saints’ bosom that by the time they begin to whimper, he is already out of sight. And the Christian, seeing no one but himself at home, supposes these misbegotten notions are his own. So he bears the shame himself, and Satan has accomplished his purposes." –William Gurnall author of The Christian in Complete Armour

    c. The devil’s scheme is to speak in the "first person" and trick us into thinking that the statements are about us.

    7. A related tactic of temptation is for him to launch his accusations as if they were from the Holy Spirit. How do we distinguish between satanic accusation and Divine conviction? Remember: God’s conviction eventually releases "hope," while the enemy’s fruit of accusation ultimately is condemnation.

    When Too Much of a Good Thing Becomes a License for Licentiousness/Lawlessness

    Most of us won’t often be tempted to commit blatant sins such as robbery, murder, or rape. Satan is too clever and subtle for that. He knows that we will recognize the flagrant wrong in such temptations and refuse to act on them. Instead, his tactic is to entice us to push something good beyond the boundary of the will of God until it becomes sin.

    He treats us like the proverbial frog in the pool of water–gradually turning up the heat of temptation, hoping we don’t notice that we are approaching the boundary of God’s will and jump out before something good becomes sin. When those boundaries are erased, then the devil typically moves on to other expressions and temptations that previously we would not have even considered.

    The following statements reveal the sinful results in a number of areas where we are tempted to take the good things that God created beyond the boundary of God’s will:

    1. Physical rest becomes laziness

    2. Quietness becomes non-communication

    3. Ability to profit becomes avarice and greed

    4. Enjoyment of life becomes intemperance

    5. Physical pleasure becomes sensuality

    6. Interest in the possessions of others become covetousness

    7. Enjoyment of food becomes gluttony

    8. Self-care becomes selfishness

    9. Self-respect becomes conceit

    10. Communication becomes gossip

    11. Cautiousness becomes unbelief

    12. Positiveness becomes insensitivity

    13. Anger becomes rage and bad temper

    14. Loving-kindness becomes overprotection

    15. Judgment becomes criticism

    16. Same-sex friendship becomes homosexuality

    17. Sexual freedom becomes sexual immorality

    18. Conscientiousness becomes perfectionism

    19. Generosity becomes wastefulness

    20. Self-protection becomes dishonesty

    21. Carefulness becomes fear

    22. Spiritual compatibility becomes illegal soul ties

    23. Freedom becomes an occasion for the flesh

    24. Improper intimacy in relationships breeds false spiritual union

    25. Encouragement turns to flattery

    26. Pursuing goals becomes a "driving spirit"

    27. You are more impressed with the words coming out of you than you are the Word coming into you. (Prophetic words become a replacement for the written word.)

    28. Success-motivation becomes boastful pride of life

    29. Emotional Healing ministry becomes a "rescuer mentality"

    30. The Healing Touch becomes a "familiar touch or spirit" in a wrong place and with a wrong motivation


    By James Goll
    Encounters Network
    www.jamesgoll.com

    Interesting Times


    Hat tip to Know Thyself Blog .
     
    I just read a very erudite opinion on the Mohammedan cartoon issue over at The Belmont Club blog entitled "Interesting Times."

    The essence of the post is that there is a lack of mutual understanding between Mohammedans and Western culture. An underlying point is that we do not consider ourselves at war with Mohammedanism because of our striving for multicultural tolerance; however the Mohammedans view themselves at war with the West as "their religion" versus our way of life. As long as we do not grasp an understanding in what we as Westerners represent, the Mohammedan will continually view the West as something that is able to be overcome. Hence, the Mohammedan will possess a rabid obsession to battle until they have done that which they view as inevitable – crush the corrupt.

    When the West grasps the Mohammedan understanding of this conflict they will arise to actively confront the aggressors; i.e. if it is not too late to wake up from a Western deep sleep.

    Go to the link in this comment and read The Belmont Club post. It is lengthy including the huge amount of comments in response to the post, but it well worth the read.

    EVANGELICAL INFLUENCE ON THE RISE IN THE MIDDLE EAST


    Here is a hat tip to the Joel C. Rosenberg Blog. He is reporting that Mohammedans are converting to Christianity. In the Sudan in particular a million former Mohammedans have converted to Christianity because of the violence and atrocity of Islamofascist Arabs. Posted from SlantRight Blog .
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    **Below is the relevant information. To read the entire post of Joel C. Rosenberb the link is HERE.


    Did you know there are at least ten different evangelical Christian satellite TV networks now beaming their programming into the Middle East? Or that evangelical Christian websites in Arabic and Farsi are springing up by the hundreds and being visited by thousands every day, including Saudi sheikhs and Iranian mullahs? Did you know that more than one million Sudanese have become followers of Christ just since 2001. Not despite of the genocide, but because of it.

    "People see what real Islam is like and they want Jesus instead," one Sudanese leader told me. Indeed, the church there is growing so fast new pastors are having to be trained in make-shift seminaries held in caves!

    I just got back from three months in the Middle East, working on a non-fiction book about the future of the region, including a chapter on the future of Christianity in the lands of its birth. Many in the U.S. and European media erronously report that Christianity is dying in the lands of its birth. But I found just the opposite to be true.

    I had the privilege of meeting with some three dozen Arab and Iranian evangelical leaders from all over North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. Their message was unanimous: more Muslims are turning to Christ today that at any other point in human history.

    It is a story the Western media isn’t reporting but the Muslim media is beginning to. Stories are popping up throughout the region quoting Islamic leaders alarmed by the growing number of Muslim converts to Christianity, and the growing influence of evangelicals.

    A leading Saudi cleric, appearing on Aljazeera, tried to sound the alarm back in December of 2000. "In every hour, 667 Muslims convert to Christianity. Every day, 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity," warned Sheikh Ahmad Al Qataani to a stunned audience. "Every year, six million Muslims convert to Christianity."

    Those numbers are wildly exaggerated, but he’s got the trend right. And all of the evangelical leaders I met with say the numbers of Muslim converts to Christianity has only accelerated since 9/11.

    In Cairo, I visited the largest "church" in the Middle East. It is held in an enormous cave, just below an Egyptian military facility. Some 10,000 new and growing followers of Christ worship there every weekend. More than 20,000 assembled there in May for an entire day of prayer — all asking God to turn Muslims to Jesus. What’s more, the sermons and worship services were broadcast by SAT-7, the leading evangelical satellite TV network, allowing millions more from Casablanca to Kabul to hear the gospel, some for the first time in their lives.

    Perhaps, then, it should not be so surprising that for the first time in the 54 year history of the National Prayer Breakfast, a Muslim King was the keynote speaker. Jordan’s King Abdullah II not only gave brief remarks at yesterday’s breakfast, he later delivered the main address at the luncheon for some 3,000 clergy members and political leaders. It was an intriguing sign, I believe, of the influence evangelicals are having in the Middle East these days.

    "We behold with horror and disgust the recent targeting of Christian churches in Iraq, breaking with a 1,400 year tradition of Christian-Muslim friendship and mutual acceptance amongst the Arabs of the Levant," said King Abdullah. He quoted from Psalm 34:14, saying we must all "Seek peace and pursue it," and the words of Jesus urging all men to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength; and to love their neighbors as themselves.

    "September Eleventh; the train bombings in Spain; the underground and bus bombings in London — these outrages have led some to believe in a ‘Clash of Civilizations,’" said the King. "Nothing could please extremists more; that is their view of reality. Its falsity is made clear to all by the extremist bombings in the Islamic world — in Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and more. Almost every day Muslims are killed by extremists in Iraq. Their targets are not Christians, not Jews, not Americans or Europeans, but indigenous innocent Muslims."

    "Extremists, of any religion, who teach intolerance and violence, mutilate Scripture to advance their cause," he went on to say. "Together, we have a duty to this generation and many to come, to witness to the positive role of faith in public life. Humbled through that faith, strengthened by that faith; we can, with God’s help, create a more just and peaceful future. It begins by standing together — and upholding the principles transgressed by those who oppose us. As the Bible says: Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)"

    When was the last time you heard a Muslim King quote the Apostle Paul?

    Aslan really is on the move.

    A New Creation: Approximations of the Consummate Decree


    David Bryant writes of the "Consummate Decree." My take on that decree is this: I am a new creation in Christ Jesus (you are too), behold all things have become new and old things have passed away. The "Consummate Decree" is that you are (or can be) Saved! Christ, the innocent God-man, was crucified to death that we can exchange our dead nature (a nature separated from God) for a living nature. When Christ arose bodily from the grave, if we have faith in that occurence, our dead natures become exchanged. In Christ’s new life, we have new life. Share that good news with all you know!
     

    A New Creation: Approximations of the Consummate Decree (Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7)

    By David Bryant
    DavidBryantDirect.com
    Bryantdirect@aol.com

     

    It’s a curious thing. Throughout the book of Revelation each one of God’s decisive judgments explodes on the world scene amid hymns, doxologies and acts of worship. Singing and supremacy surface together. But believers are invited into similar celebrations every day. That’s because in union with His Son we have already passed through the Final Judgment. Already we stand victorious on the other side of His Reign of Fire. How did this happen?

    THINK WITH ME …
    How Has God Applied the Future to Our Relationship with Christ Today?

    QUOTABLE QUOTE

    He picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah. Now God has to where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus …. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! (Ephesians 2 — The Message)

    Despite the dramatic increase in life expectancy over the past one hundred years, no one has yet made claims to immortality — except One. Nonetheless, people in every culture continue to seek it. Some have their bodies frozen at death, ready to be reactivated when a cure for mortality is found. Others grasp for a place in eternity through mystical convergences with a Higher Power.

    But to Christians, Romans 5 declares that “just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness, to bring eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord” (vs. 20-21), meaning that even in this world believers are declared “immortal” already and called to live like it! Throughout the New Testament Christians are identified as those currently dead, alive and ascended with Christ (Rom. 6; Eph. 2; Col. 3). It is as if we were already transported to the time of the Consummation, strolling through the New Jerusalem.

    Obviously, something unusual has happened. It has to do with the positioning of believers even before the Consummation. Surrendered to our Sovereign, entering into an intimate union with Him, we have a solidarity with Him that replaces forever our identity with fallen Adam and his race. The Old Creation has been disqualified. God decrees that we now have an exclusive identity with the Son, allowing the Father to label us as His New Creation (Rom. 5 and 2 Cor. 5).

    Christians aren’t simply on a road to “the sweet by-and-by”. Instead, the Bible invites Christians to reckon themselves ascended into Heaven, serving Christ in the power of His Spirit as re-created beings. In other words, God invites us to act as if we currently stand on the other side of Judgment Day. Jesus assured all believers, we will never come into judgment because we have already passed from death to life (Jn. 5 with 1 Jn. 3).

    The moment I was born again (as a freshman in college), God decreed me to be eternally alive. Christ’s future has become my future. The Father was free, in His justice, to treat me as if I were already raised and reigning in the Consummation. This was His consummate decree. As far as He was concerned, from that moment (and even long before that moment) I was not only foreknown, called and justified, but also glorified (Rom. 8). All of it was as good as done.

    If I may borrow Luther’s words: God created a “happy exchange”. This placed me, in His eyes, within the Consummation drama as if it were unfolding here and now. This exchange transpired when Christ took upon Himself who I was in my sin and bestowed on me who Christ is in His righteousness. In response to the Gospel, I was united to Christ by faith, as both Savior and final Judge-of-all. Heaven’s Supreme Court decreed that everything Christ is and has — as well as everything He experienced by His own death, burial, resurrection and ascension — was now transferred to me. From that hour, the Father has treated me as if Christ is me and I am Christ.

    Separated from Him eternally, dead to God in my sin, at one time I faced no other prospect but His dreadful wrath. It rendered me hopeless. Only if someone else could bring me alive from the dead, therefore, setting me free from the charges against me, could I ever hope to see my precarious condition reversed. No religion, no philosophy, no moral resolutions of my own could ever avail.

    Then one day, the Gospel came. I believed. Immediately, from God’s perspective, I was raised with His Son from the dead. My destination became identical with His. God reckoned me to be crucified two thousand years ago with Jesus, at the very time He bore the judgment for my sin (and for all sin) on Calvary. That way, the judgment my Lord experienced became my primary judgment, too.

    Since I am permanently abiding in Him (Jn. 15), I could be disqualified only if Christ Himself could ever be disqualified from full participation in the Age-to-Come (which will never happen). There is no future judgment that will ever expel me from the glories of the New Jerusalem. In the most profound sense, my “day in court” has passed. The Cross was it. The Cross was final. The Cross put behind me the life-threatening consequences of my incalculable rebellions against the Almighty One.

    Long before a New Heaven and Earth ever takes center stage, God has already decreed that I may walk before Him as if I were Christ Himself, and thus as if I were a fully resurrected inhabitant of eternity. Therefore, at no time should I ever be surprised that my life in Christ incorporates many other kinds of “approximations” of the impending Regeneration of the universe. Such foretastes may be preliminary, but they are substantial. They create genuine experiences of what it will be like when His supremacy has final sway.

    Space will not allow us to explore key doctrines emphasized in Scripture (and by Christian theologians of all persuasions) that describe various dimensions of our current participation in this consummate decree of God. Maybe you’ve heard some of the concepts, such as:

    · Justification

    · Acquittal

    · Reconciliation

    · Redemption

    · Propitiation

    · Remission

    · Forgiveness

    · Adoption

    Lumped together, these terms constitute two great realities about our hope in Christ. They speak about our destiny in Christ. They speak about our identity in Christ. Consider:

    Destiny refers to our future. One day soon we will stand vindicated, with absolute confidence, before a just and holy God. When the Consummation breaks upon us, we will face it unafraid, alive with every promise in Jesus, because our final judgment climaxed at the Cross long ago (Jude 1). That’s our destination under His consummate decree. This is one _expression of Christ’s supremacy in our lives.

    Identity, on the other hand, has to do with our current status before God’s Throne. As we’ve just seen, today all believers can live as if the Day of Judgment had come and gone. Our sins have not simply been disregarded for the moment. They have been permanently eliminated by the blood of Christ. God’s wrath for us fell on Him instead. Because we abide in Him, from the moment of salvation forward God decrees us newly created. We provide a preview of how He will renovate the heavens and earth at the Second Coming (Rev. 21). Now, all we need to do is take the initiative to reckon (decree) for ourselves what God proclaims (decrees) about us (Rom. 6). This, too, expresses how Christ’s supremacy touches us everyday.

    THINK WITH ME …
    What Does the Word “Justification” Tell Us about the Fullness of Christ’s Supremacy?

    Using one of the more technical words listed above, justification, let’s take one example. Theologians call justification a “forensic” work of God. This means that by divine decree (as described in His Word) God has thrust His decisions about our final fate into the present. He declares Himself fully satisfied with who we are in Jesus. He accepts us point blank as His own children.

    QUOTABLE QUOTE

    In the same way that the Father raises the dead and creates life, so does the Son. The Son gives life to anyone he chooses. Neither he nor the Father shuts anyone out. The Father hands all authority to judge over to the Son so that the Son will be honored equally with the Father. Anyone here who believes what I’m saying right now and aligns himself with the Father, and has in fact put me in charge, has at this very moment the real, lasting light and is no longer condemned to be an outsider. This person has taken a giant step from the world of the dead to the world of the living. It’s urgent that you get this right: The time has arrived — I mean right now! — when dead men and women will hear the voice of the Son of God and hearing, will come to life. (John 5 — The Message)

    Biblically speaking, the idea of being justified has always included the sense that God treats me “just as if I’d” [justified] already entered into the Consummation. To my utter amazement, Scripture teaches that the Father declares I have an intimate relationship with Him, right now, that mirrors what His eternal Son has enjoyed with Him from ages past and will enjoy for ages to come. He assures me unlimited, unhindered access into everything Christ has for me at this moment. On more than one level, I can start enjoying immediately many blessings of the Kingdom-That-Waits-to-Appear.

    As Paul shows us in 1 Corinthians 1, we are not simply made wise or righteous or holy through Christ. Rather, Christ has been made for us all the wisdom, and righteousness, and holiness we will ever need. That means we do not just take His help for where we have failed. Rather, we take Him. We also take all that He brings with Him. He encompasses the everlasting favor of God toward us. In Him, the Father forgives our sins, sets aside His wrath and treats us brand new.

    So it follows: Justified, I can rightfully claim to be liberated from all fear toward the Righteous Sovereign, released to start life all over again before His face. Justified, I can act as if there never was a reason for His holy fury, at least where I’m concerned. Justified, I am as fully vindicated as Christ was the day God raised Him from the dead. Justified, I remain accepted before the Judge of the universe, forever, because of my unassailable union with the Judge’s Son — with Who He is and with all He inherits. Justified, I’ve become partaker of His holy nature (2 Pet. 1). This includes being incorporated into a people born again by His Spirit (Jn. 3). All of this is an approximation of the Consummation.

    When the Last Day finally arrives with unquenchable fury for unrepentant sinners, all will find that long ago Christians passed through the same examination. It happened when, by faith, we were decreed to have been crucified and buried with Christ, and then raised and ascended with Him. Long before Christ returns in eternal glory, every believer draws from His well of eternal life. Our life in coming ages will essentially be the same life God invites believers to share in right now. At both points in time, the sum total of our existence takes its cue from the person of our Savior, supremely sufficient for all the saints, “world without end”. With Him as my hope, the Father treats me “just as if I’d” exited the tomb and was currently walking the streets of gold! Talk about experiencing the fullness of His supremacy!

    Oxford University theologian and author Alister McGrath puts it concisely for us when he concludes: “Justification language appears in Paul with reference to both the inauguration of the life of faith and also its final consummation. It anticipates the verdict of the final judgment, declaring in advance the verdict of ultimate acquittal. The believer’s present justified experience is thus an anticipation, an advance participation of deliverance from the wrath to come, and an assurance in the present of the final eschatological verdict of acquittal” [emphases mine] (Rom. 5:9-10).

    That’s a mouthful! But it deserves careful reflection. Are you a follower of Jesus? Is your hope in Him based on His supremacy over all things? Then McGrath is talking about you. He’s describing one facet of the fullness of life that Christ’s reign guarantees to you today.


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