Listening for the Spirit of God

“Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.  Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”” (Matthew 19:13-14)  “Everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.” (1Corinthians 14:40)

“If it’s too loud, you’re too old.” Gene Simmons, KISS

There is no argument here about my age.  Yes, I am older than most of my readers.  However, even in the hay-day of the Beatles when the craze of screaming throughout a song became popular, even as a pre-teen and teenager, I never participated in the “hero-worship” of rock groups or their music.  I enjoyed much of the music of my era, listening to WHB in Kansas City and WADK in Newport, R.I.  I have attended rock concerts (with earplugs in) and play my truck’s radio loud enough to hear as I drive to work with the windows open.

But my hearing loss is mostly related to tool usage and only mild compared to what is experienced by many people today.  In fact, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) estimates more than 10% of American 12-19 year-olds have permanent hearing loss from excessive noise exposure, mostly from audio devices and concerts.  Any noise above 90 dB (decibels – a measure of volume) can cause hearing loss and most rock concerts start off over 125dB and go up from there for sustained periods of time.

So what does this have to do with “listening” for the Spirit of God, who “speaks” to us in our hearts and not often audibly?  Can we not “hear” the Spirit of God no matter what the environment around us is?   Of course, we can “hear” Him in any place and at any time we “tune in” to Him.  However, a worship service is not something we should have to fight with in order to hear from God.  In far too many churches,  “worship” has become an imitation of the culture’s fascination with rock music and its idols.  Even adults in churches and worship leaders have adopted a concert model for “worship” that is more “performance-oriented” than God-centered. Jesus-focused or inviting of participation.  It is too much “watch us worship and if you can, get into it.”

Perhaps this should be the standard by which we judge whether a church is meeting needs as opposed to stroking our adult cultural sensibilities:  Can a child participate and enjoy? 

Certainly there are things a church deals with that are reserved for adults and youth, especially physically demanding exercises such as prayer meetings or training hikes.  Counseling should be done out of the ears of little ones, quietly with respect to the ones involved to not embarrass them or make them leave the church, but to restore and strengthen them.

But when we enter into public meetings, should not the children be welcome?  If there are some “adult” experiences in our spiritual walk, like when we pray for the sick or anoint a leader with oil, these can serve as openings of mystery to the child.  Certainly the exercise of spiritual gifts and displays of supernatural power should fascinate and not frighten a child.  This can instill in a child a curiosity about what is going on that may open up teaching opportunities for a parent and discussions about the unseen world, which for Christ’s followers, should be always just out of the corner of the eye.

Too Loud 2But what is happening when a visiting child covers his or her ears with a grimace to block out loud “worship” that mimics a rock concert?  I witnessed this in a lobby of a large church as I went into the auditorium, only to be bombarded with such loud noise that my wife and I shortly left, uncomfortable with the damage being done to our ears, even with earplugs in place!  This is not just an American phenomenon.  It is happening in Mongolia, South Korea, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and England, just to name the few countries that I have visited.

At a Winter Jam concert several years ago, my wife and a friend who attended as our guest sat high in a balcony of Rupp Arena, a huge auditorium in our city where more than 20,000 people gather for basketball games.  Though the end of the arena was cut off by the stage, the stands were filled with upwards of 15,000 “worshipers” who had gathered.  We promptly put in our ear plugs and could hear all the music quite well, though I wondered how the hearing of those closer to the speakers was being damaged by the volume of the music.

Most disturbing was the action of some young people sitting near us.  They chatted and goofed around until the announcer introduced a new group to the stage.  One girl shrieked, “Oh my God, it’s MY band!” which prompted all her friends in several rows to stand and scream for the entire next song, and each one after, that “her band” played.  Who were they worshiping?  How were they drawing closer to our God?  Would anyone really think they were “listening” for His voice in their hearts?

It pleases me that worship music in the fellowship where I attend has become moderated to where I rarely need earplugs anymore, not because of my hearing loss, but the volume has actually been turned down.  But what does it say about our “worship” when children cover their ears in discomfort?  What does it say about our concern for our worshipers when we are more interested in booming the base so it “feels” like a spiritual experience, than in the health of our “listeners” ears?

Of interest is the story in 1 Kings 19 when Elijah wanted to “hear” from God.  Listen for His “gentle whisper,” that “still small voice,” and see if you can hear Him above the noise around you.

The Truth About the Resurrection of Jesus (Part 2)

I ended last week’s Sunday blog with a couple of questions that I want to address today: Now why should we believe these fantastic reports of His resurrection and why does He not appear to all of us if He is still alive?  Why not set up an embassy in Jerusalem or Washington?  Why not go on a globe-trotting mission and prove Himself to us?  After all, who would doubt His authority over death if He was walking around shaking hands with world leaders and speaking to huge rallies?  Who would dispute His resurrection if this man, who we claim is still alive, appeared on international TV or hosted a live webinar?  Why not just go around to a couple hospitals (or a couple hundred) and empty the beds by healing everyone?  Could not this One who fed 5000 with five loaves of bread and two fish (Matthew 14:15-21) solve the world’s problems with food distribution and stop malnutrition?

Ah, but we are like children wanting our freedom to eat anything we want without understanding the principles of good health.  Or perhaps you could compare us to a young man wanting the right to drive anywhere he pleased without learning the rules of the road nor practicing driving.

Actually, Jesus will do exactly what we are wishing in these first couple questions, but on His schedule, not ours.  He will set up His throne in a city of His choosing.  He will make His home with the people on our planet and you will be able to see His face in person.  He will be available 24/7/365 for anyone to come and “meet-and-greet.”  There will not be any sick or dying, no starving babies nor crippled feet, no need for even corrective lenses or knee braces.  And any time you are thirsty you can find satisfaction from a crystal clear river, the “water of life,”  that will flow from the center of His city to the entire world.  All the issues and problems that came into the world with the curse in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:14-19) will be reversed and Eden will be restored (Revelation 22:1-5).

So why wait?  Why not do this now?  Because of His great mercy and patience.  You see, God created Adam and Eve “a little lower than the angels” (Psalm 8:5) by not revealing everything about Himself of which they were capable of receiving.  When He created angels, apparently He made them with a full view of His majesty and glory.  All that they could understand of Him was immediately available to their minds.  This is why there is no forgiveness available to Lucifer and his demons.  There is nothing more of God’s glory or character that He can reveal to the evil one, in order to appeal to Him to repent.  In other words, God would be willing to forgive even Satan, but the devil has put himself beyond the reach of that mercy.

However, with the limited view mankind has of what God is like, there is an added dimension to our personalities that the angels lack:  faith, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)  You see, this dimension of faith requires us to trust Him, to choose to develop a relationship with Him, to seek Him even when sometimes He seems hard to find or understand.  So we are back to the child wanting to eat whatever appeals to his taste buds without regard for whether it is good for him.  But Father wants us to grow up into men and women who understand what it means to trust and obey; to develop our personalities to where temptation will not have power over us, because we will have acted in faith to receive His grace, and the cares of this world will not hold any illusive appeal any more.

Recall when Jesus turned the five loaves and two fish into a feast for 5000 men plus the women and children, the people wanted to take Him by force and make Him their king, not one they would serve, but one who would feed their bellies and do what they wanted to be done. (John 6:15; 25-66)  Then Jesus specifically chose language He knew would offend the superficial “superspiritual” among them to describe Heavenly things, and challenge them to trust Him.

And now He waits for the time Father has set, a day and an hour that not even the angels of Heaven know, so that we will prepare and be prepared by Him for that day when Jesus will reappear. (Matthew 24:36)  And His waiting is to allow as much time as possible for as many people as possible to enter into eternal life.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

And this is not a vain hope, or wishful thinking.  Angels promised it to the disciples on the Mount of Ascension (Acts 1:10-11) and it was attested to by the apostles (2 Peter 1:16).  And this was not a fable, as Robert Colson pointed out, “I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned or put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world – and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.”

He will not come as someone else’s lieutenant, or in a mystical way that will not be evident, but as a real person, the man Who was crucified and rose from the dead, the very Son of God and Savior of all who trust in Him and walk in love, even for their enemies.  “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the called out ones. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.  The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’  Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”  I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this book.  He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”  Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:16-20)

The Truth About the Resurrection of Jesus (Part 1)

Let’s try an experiment in role-playing.  For just a moment, pretend you and your grandmother are very close and have been for a long time.  Now in this role, you have deep and dear memories of your relationship, of sitting on “Nana’s” lap as a child, of birthdays and holidays at Gramps’ and Grandma’s house, of watching her tears as they laid her dear husband of so many years into his grave.

NowIMG_4526 comes the hard part.  Nana’s eyesight is failing; her hearing is almost gone; some days she does not recognize you.  Sitting by her side, while reading one of her favorite books to her, she puts a feeble hand to her chest and clutches her left breast.  Her breathing is suddenly labored and she lolls her head back into the chair, but she is not relaxed.  Realizing something is happening with her health, you dial 911 and call for an ambulance, but seconds later Nana gives a short gasp, her hand droops to the chair, her eyes “fall” open, and her gaze shows an emptiness that tells you Nana is no longer in the room with you.

Weeping, you hold a hand that has been so dear to you as you realize your grandmother is no longer in the shell of a body in front of you, and you wait patiently for the EMTs, kissing her dead hand and remembering all the times you had together.  You let go of her hand only to call her son, your father, and give him the sad news that his mother has left this world.  The family gathers for the funeral and you help with the body’s hairdo for the casket.  You embrace each other as Nana’s casket is lowered into the ground, and you wonder what your new “normal” will be now that she is no longer part of your world.

Three days pass, and a close friend comes to your door, frantically ringing the doorbell, banging on the door with a flat hand.  “Come, open the door!  Quickly!” this friend is calling as you reach the door.   She enters and tells you with a kind of fanatical glaze in her eyes, “You’ll need to sit down for this news!  I was just at the grocery store and I met Nana, your grandmother!”  HUH??  There has been a mistake; someone who looks like her, obviously.

“At first I thought is was just someone who looked amazingly like her, but then she smiled at me and greeted me by name.  She told me she is your grandmother and asked me to come here to tell you she is alive from the dead.  She would come, but she was afraid the shock of seeing her would be too hard for you, so she asked me to tell you first.”

Your mind begins to reel as you consider your friend has lost her mind!  You were there when Nana died!  You helped prepare the body for burial doing Nana’s hair the way she liked it.  You saw the casket go into the ground.  Nana is dead! your mind insists.

“You have to believe me,” your friend continues.  “Nana said she is coming over this evening and wants you to get her family together so you can have a reunion!  Think of it!  Your Nana is alive again!  But she wants to keep it quiet because she does not want news hounds following her around.  She does not want a big show or celebrity.  She just wants to spend some time with those who know her.”  And our role-playing ends here.  This seems like quite a stretch of the imagination that a grandmother, dead and buried, could show up at a grocery store and want to meet you again.

Yet this is exactly what the disciples of Jesus faced when He arose from the dead.  John and some of the women who attended Him were directly under the cross, so close He could talk with them just before His death.  Many of the others had watched from the distance as His body crumpled on the cross as He announced, “It is finished.”  The rest had heard the reports from friends and colleagues that He was dead.  Several had joined in taking the body off the cross and helped place it in Joseph’s tomb.

There was no question that He was dead.  He had not “swooned” under some drug.  No one switched the body with someone who was still alive.  They knew exactly where the grave was; in fact the Pharisees specifically “marked” the grave by having Pilate place a Roman seal on it and a posting a group of guards.  Now came reports from women who had seen him alive.  Peter and John visited the grave belonging to Joseph of Arimathea and found it empty just as the women had said.  Two disciples from Emmaus, a village most likely about six miles from Jerusalem, had met Him as they walked home.

Resurrcetion 1Then, THERE HE WAS, right there in the room with them!  He spoke to them:  “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?  Look at My hands and My feet. It is I, Myself!  Touch Me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”  When He had said this, He showed them His hands and feet.  And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, He asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”  They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and He took it and ate it in their presence.  He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”  Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in My name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.”  (Luke 24:38-48)

And witnesses they were.  Like witnesses in a court, they testified to what they had seen and heard, how Jesus had risen from the dead.  At one point He was seen by more than 500 of His disciples.  And the historical evidence of these things is so solid that some have said there is more proof of Jesus’ resurrection than of George Washington being the first president of the United States.

Now why should we believe these fantastic reports of His resurrection and why does He not appear to all of us if He is still alive?  Why not set up an embassy in Jerusalem or Washington?  Why not go on a globe-trotting mission and prove Himself to us?  We will discuss these questions next week, August 23, 2015.  In the meantime, recognize He is risen.  He is risen, indeed!

The Judgement of The God Who Is There (Part 2): Corporate Judgment; Will God judge America and, if so, how soon?

“Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.”  Amos 3:7

First we need some clarity about what prophecy is.  In its strictest form it is a “divinely inspired utterance or revelation; a message of divine truth revealing God’s will.” (dictionary.com)  This may involve predictions of future events if God is revealing these things to His prophets, but it can be simply an announcement of God’s will or instructions to the believer or the Church.  That said, prophecy is usually used now in reference to future event predictions, where instead it should include what most pastors announce in their sermons.

In regard to future predictions, there is a simple rule for determining if a prophet is actually speaking God’s word:You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?”  If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken.  That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed.” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22)  And, in fact, the penalty for speaking in God’s name falsely was to be punished by death. (v 20)

In the 1970s I recall reading a quote from Ruth Graham saying, “if God does not judge America, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”  This has shown up in a variety of sermons and quotes since.  From a letter posted on the Billy Graham Association website, my memory proved correct:

“Some years ago, my wife, Ruth, was reading the draft of a book I was writing. When she finished a section describing the terrible downward spiral of our nation’s moral standards and the idolatry of worshiping false gods such as technology and sex, she startled me by exclaiming, “If God doesn’t punish America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”

“She was probably thinking of a passage in Ezekiel where God tells why He brought those cities to ruin. “Now this was the sin of … Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen” (Ezekiel 16:49–50, NIV).

“I wonder what Ruth would think of America if she were alive today. In the years since she made that remark, millions of babies have been aborted and our nation seems largely unconcerned. Self-centered indulgence, pride, and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle.”

Billy and Ruth Graham’s opinions are in line with most evangelical thinkers of our generation, but I am doubtful she was speaking as a prophetess, but more lamenting the deteriorating moral values she saw in our nation.

There are more “prophets” speaking of judgment on America in more venues than ever before, but I wonder if these prophets are accurately presenting messages from The God Who Is There, or more their own views of what they believe God ought to do, combined with popular news reports and the entertainment industry.  We will be able to tell after the events predicted, but what about preparation for events if a prophet has spoken?

An example is Dr. Patricia Green of Joy Ministries, who predicts a major tsunami over the east coast which will inundate New York, New York, Washington, D.C. and cover much of Florida.  She wisely does not put a date on this, but this is something earth scientists, who are not Christ-followers, are predicting:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/post/could-a-tsunami-strike-the-us-east-coast/2011/03/14/ABIb9AV_blog.html

Dr, Green appears to use the scripture more wisely than some, encouraging introspection and prayer to ask God for guidance, and to rest in the assurance of a solid Biblical salvation.  Others, such as Geoffrey Grider and a host of others, who claim Obama will be the last president of the U.S. are further out on the fringe of conspiracy theorists, along the lines of Harold Camping who predicted Christ’s return several times, changing the date each time it did not happen.

So this brings us to our question: Will God judge America and, if so, how soon?  Jesus words should provide us with some perspective on studying prophecy as it applies to the end of this age: I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.” (John 14:29)  The point of Biblical prophecy is not to stockpile food, or to move to a safe location or to store up weapons to protect your family.  The point of Biblical prophecy is to encourage you to prepare your heart to be ready to meet God before the moment you actually meet Him, and to invite others along.

God is intentionally vague about future events because He knows the callousness of our hearts.  If He had said, “The world will end on June 11, 2012,” and given clear evidence that this was the day He would show up, how many people would have lived without Him in view until June 10?!  Then in a rush of “repentance” people would come to Him, but how many could be sincere?  How many would have learned to walk with Him and Heaven in view?

Will God judge America?  Yes, as He will judge all the nations of the earth on a Great Judgment Day (Revelation 11:18), which date is unknown to any man, nor can it be known (Matthew 24:36).  America has been depraved in other times (the 1850s, 1920s, 1960s) and God did not destroy us for our wickedness.  Sodom and Gomorrah would have been spared for ten righteous people (Genesis 18:32); would He not spare America for the many hundreds of thousands of righteous among us?  This is not to be arrogant or presumptuous of His grace, but realistic about God’s love for us, even when we were still enemies of His.  This does not preclude problems associated to declining moral values, devaluation of the needy, dismissal of the poor, or dehumanization of “inferior” classes of people.

However, God’s specific judgment of nations ended with the judgment of Israel, taking the people into Babylonian captivity.  He continues to act within the geopolitical sphere to prepare the world for the Day when Jesus will return (Acts 1:11), but His interest and focus is not on the nations, but on the individual who must make the decision whether or not to believe in His saving grace revealed in Jesus’ death on the cross.

As to why the Americas are not mentioned in scripture, it could be that we will be ineffectual and unimportant for the end time events that will center on Israel.  We could be under martial law if major natural disasters strike the coasts of the U.S., and of no interest to the rest of the world.  We could have been reduced to a third-world economy by events that have yet to unfold.  But such scenarios are for scientists and economists to worry about and for politicians to argue.  For the Christ-follower, we have a clear message to keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”  (Matthew 25:13)

So what do we say to those who are busy scouring the Bible to find out if America is to be judged, or to those who search the Quran to find out when the 12th Imam will be revealed?  They would do better to look into the Bible and find out what God expects from us here and now:  “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And remember I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:7-8)

 

Construction continues . . . slow but sure.

Well, I’ve been delinquent keeping up with the construction blog, even though we’ve been very persistent working, but only a little more than half-days.  The half-day work has to do with availability of the workers  . . . I tell myself . . . but it is as much that I wear out, especially when it is hot and humid.  We’ve been blessed with some cloudy days that tend to make it cooler, but even then, when you are moving around braces and heavy wood and working, it is easy to get dehydrated, so we are careful not to overdo it.

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So on the 16th of July we continued setting up forms of the ICF for the first floor of the house.  Ben started like the Energizer Bunny and did an entire row of forms while David and I worked on assembling all the door and window “bucks,” the rough-in frames that we will use for framing the wood around the doors and windows.  V-Buck is a PVC material sized to fit around the ICF forms cut to fit the rough-in size of the windows, but we allowed a little extra room so we could add finish wood after the doors and windows get set in place.

After we finished setting up the forms, which was done by the 17th, we started setting up braces, but our brace supplier did not have everything we needed!  Only the vertical members for the braces were fully available, so we left some temporary wood poles in place to shore up the wall against the wind.

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Unfortunately we did not count on the strength of wind we got on July 19, so the side garage wall partially collapsed and Monday morning, the 20th, we reassembled this small section of the wall and braced it from the outside until the remainder of our braces would come in.

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On the 21st, the remainder of our braces came in, but they were LOooooong ones, not the shorties we were used to using, so we wound up for the next couple days jumping over all of them as we set up walk boards and added “scabs” to all the places of potential “blow-outs.”

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Helix 5-25 handfulHelix 5-25So now we were ready for the concrete pour that would go into the chamber between the layers of the styrofoam.  We did not need rebar in this pour as we decided to use Helix 5-25, a rebar replacement of one inch (2.5cm) long spiral “needles” that engineers say work better than rebar!  Hard for a builder to believe without the engineering report, but that’s what they say these little needles do!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=keMDmF_1L7I

One other thing we did while scheduling the pour; if you do not remember the garage floor pour over the “media room,” go back and look at the blogs of 2015/07/02 and 2015/07/08 where I described the shoring and pouring of concrete onto styrofoam forms over this space, which we did on June 22.  The manufacturer’s instruction on the LiteDeck is to let the temporary shoring in place for 21 days, but we played it safe and left it in for almost an entire month, removing it on July 23, while waiting for our our crew to pour the walls, which would not happen until July 28.

IMG_3886I was very cautious pulling down the temporary shoring . . .  letting Ben go in and knock out the wood while I took pictures from the door 😀 !!  But once it appeared it was not going to collapse, I helped remove the remainder of the shoring so that under the garage is now a “media room” that will stand up to an F5 tornado!  By next week, I’ll show pics of the first-floor wall pour and where we are now, waiting for the trusses to come in for the roof.

IMG_3889  IMG_3908  IMG_3911

The “deal” with Iran; an analysis by a scholar.

The deal the US and the UN completed with Iran is a farce.  Read Joel Rosenberg’s analysis that follows of the joke the Iranian mullahs are playing on the U.S.  It would be laughable if it were not so serious in its repercussions.

My friends, we are very near the end of time.  That said, these events unfolding could take decades, although I do not expect that.  From Matthew 24:

Jesus said, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. 9 Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

So do not despair.  The God Who Is There has known about these events from the beginning of time.  None of it is a surprise to Him who numbers the hairs of our heads, and loves us more than all the animals of the earth (Matthew 10:26-32).  Be faithful to Him who has called you and bought you with His blood that He gave on the cross for you.

Joel’s blog follows (reformatted for ease of viewing):

WHY IS THE IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL SO DANGEROUS? FACT SHEET
Compiled by Joel C. Rosenberg, August 5, 2015

What we were promised:

  • “The deal we’ll accept is they [Iran] end their nuclear program. It’s very straightforward.”
    – President Barack Obama, October 22, 2012
  • “I want to be very clear there’s nothing in this agreement or document that grants Iran a right to enrich.  We’ve been very clear that given its past behavior, and given existing U.N. resolutions and previous violations by Iran of its international obligations, that we don’t recognize such a right.”
    – President Obama, December 7, 2013
  • “We expect to have anywhere, anytime access” to Iran’s nuclear facilities for inspection.
    – Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, April 20, 2015
  • “No deal is better than a bad deal.”
    – President Obama, December 7, 2013
  • “President Obama has been crystal clear.  Don’t rush.  We’re not in a rush.  We need to get the right deal.  No deal is better than a bad deal.”
    – Secretary of State John Kerry, November 10, 2013
  • “To get there we will have to be tough, clear-eyed and ready to walk away and increase the pressure if need be.  No deal is better than a bad deal.”
    – Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, May 14, 2014

What we got:  As documented below, the final deal does not end Iran’s nuclear program.  Rather, the deal – known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and the attendant U.N Security Council Resolution 2231 – preserves and makes legal Iran’s illegal nuclear program and allows for its dramatic expansion.

  • The deal does not reject Iran the “right” to enrich uranium.  Rather, the deal grants Iran the right to enrich uranium.  Indeed, it allows Iran to continue research and development and faster and more sophisticated centrifuges.
  • The deal does not provide for “anywhere, anytime” inspections.  Rather, the deal gives Iran at least 24 days before inspectors can enter a nuclear facility suspected of violations.  What’s more, the deal does not allow inspectors to enter Iranian military bases and facilities.
  • The deal eventually removes all sanctions, inspections, monitors and restrictions from Iran’s nuclear program.  The deal will also permit Iran to buy, sell and transfer conventional weapons, ballistic missile technology, and sensitive, dual-use technology that could be used to build nuclear weapons.

Constitutional Considerations:  Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution states: “The President… shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur.”

This final Iran deal is clearly an international treaty and should be handled as such.  The President and his advisers seriously erred by refusing to submit the deal to Congress as a treaty, in violation of the Constitution.

The President also could have submitted the deal to Congress as a “binding executive agreement” requiring a simple-majority vote of both the House and the Senate to approve it.  Instead, the President is handling the final Iran deal as a “non-binding executive agreement” which does not requires Congressional approval.  “We’ve been clear from the beginning: We’re not negotiating a, quote, legally binding plan,” Secretary Kerry has said.

What’s more, the President did an end-run around the American people and their representatives in Congress by submitting the deal to the U.N. Security Council and securing a unanimous vote.

The Congress also seriously erred by passing the Corker-Cardin bill, which created a mechanism for Congress to approve or disapprove the Iran deal other than by the Constitutionally-prescribed path.  The Corker-Cardin bill passed 98 to 1.  Only Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark) voted against the bill, and he did so on solid Constitutional grounds.  “A nuclear-arms agreement with any adversary – especially the terror-sponsoring, Islamist Iranian regime – should be submitted as a treaty and obtain a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate as required by the Constitution,” Sen. Cotton said.  Sen. Cotton is right.

The Senate should correct this mistake.  It should deem the Iran deal as a treaty and hold a vote in accordance with the Constitution.  If 67 Members of the U.S. Senate do not ratify the Iran deal, then the deal should not have the force of U.S. law.

NOTE: The Obama administration explained why it is not handling the Iran deal as a treaty – it does not believe the deal could pass with a bipartisan, two-thirds majority.

REP. REID RIBBLE (R-WI): “For 228 years, the Constitution allowed treaties to pass with the advice and consent of 67 U.S. Senators. Why is this not considered a treaty?”

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY:  “Well Congressman, I spent quite a few years trying to get a lot of treaties through the United States Senate, and it has become physically impossible.  That’s why. Because you can’t pass a treaty anymore.  It has become impossible to schedule, to pass, and I sat there leading the charge on the Disabilities Treaty which fell to basically ideology and politics.  So I think that is the reason why.”

Here are the facts about the final Iran deal: 

President Obama promised that Iran would never be granted the right to enrich uranium on Iranian soil. 

  • On December 7, 2013, discussing an initial agreement with Iran over nuclear negotiations, President Obama stated: “With respect to the end state [of negotiations], I want to be very clear there’s nothing in this agreement or document that grants Iran a right to enrich.  We’ve been very clear that given its past behavior, and given existing U.N. resolutions and previous violations by Iran of its international obligations, that we don’t recognize such a right.”  The final deal, however, grants Iran the right to enrich uranium on its soil, a “right” Iran insisted by affirmed by the international community from the beginning of the negotiations.
  •  “If the right to enrich isn’t acknowledged, there won’t be a deal,” an Iranian diplomat told the Wall Street Journal.
  •  Iran agreed to the first interim deal – the Geneva Accord – in 2013 because the West conceded to Iran the right to enrich uranium on its soil.  The final deal grants Iran the freedom to enrich uranium, does not require Iran to destroy or dismantle its enrichment facilities, and even permits Iran the ability to develop even faster and more advanced enrichment technology.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has publicly boasted how Iran got everything it wanted from the deal and much, much more.  Here are excerpts of a televised speech he delivered to the nation on July 14:

  • “Our objective was to have the nuclear program and have sanctions lifted.
  • “At first they wanted us to have 100 centrifuges; now we will have 6,000.
  • “They wanted restrictions of 25 years; now it’s eight.
  • “First they said we could only have IR1 centrifuges, now we can have IR6, 7 and 8, advanced centrifuges.
  • “[At first they said our] heavy water plant at Arak had to be dismantled; but now it will remain with heavy water under conditions.
  • “[At first they said the nuclear facility at] Fordow had to be closed; now we will have 1,000 centrifuges there.
  • “In future days when United Nations Security Council comes with a new resolution, all 6 of their previous resolutions will be lifted.
  • “Honorable Iranian nationals, all sanctions, including on missiles, will be lifted on days of implementation. Not suspended, lifted!
  • “Today is the end of oppressive sanctions. The chain of sanctions is broken.
  • “Today people in Lebanon and Palestine are happy because Zionists have tried to block this deal but failed.
  • “Oh great nation of Iran this is the beginning of a new movement, I tell you!”

“Obama’s Iran deal falls far short of his own goals,” notes the editorial board of the Washington Post.

  • “None of Iran’s nuclear facilities — including the Fordow center buried under a mountain — will be closed.
  • “Not one of the country’s 19,000 centrifuges will be dismantled. Tehran’s existing stockpile of enriched uranium will be “reduced” but not necessarily shipped out of the country.
  • “In effect, Iran’s nuclear infrastructure will remain intact, though some of it will be mothballed for 10 years.
  • “When the accord lapses, the Islamic republic will instantly become a threshold nuclear state.
  • “The proposed accord will provide Iran a huge economic boost that will allow it to wage more aggressively the wars it is already fighting or sponsoring across the region.
  • “The agreement is based on a theoretical benchmark: that Iran would need at least a year to produce fissile material sufficient for a weapon, compared with two months or less now.”

President Obama says he does not trust Iran, but the final deal assures that the world can verify that Iran is keeping all aspects of the deal.

  • “I think it’s important for us to stay focused on the problem at hand.  And the specific problem that is being debated right now is not whether we trust the Iranian regime or not — we don’t trust them.” – President Obama, March 3, 2015
  • “This deal is not built on trust; it is built on verification.  Inspectors will have 24/7 access to Iran’s key nuclear facilities.” – President Obama, July 14, 2015
  • “The best way for us to assure it is for us to test this diplomatic path, understanding it is not based on trust.  It’s based on what we can verify.” – President Obama, December 7, 2013

As part of that verification process to prevent Iran the ability to cheat on the deal and break out to The Bomb, President Obama and his advisers told us that IAEA inspectors would be allowed to have “anywhere, anytime” inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities.

  • President Obama stated on April 2, 2015: “International inspectors will have unprecedented access not only to Iranian nuclear facilities, but to the entire supply chain that supports Iran’s nuclear program — from uranium mills that provide the raw materials, to the centrifuge production and storage facilities that support the program. If Iran cheats, the world will know it.  If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it.  Iran’s past efforts to weaponize its program will be addressed.  With this deal, Iran will face more inspections than any other country in the world.”
  • Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz stated on April 20, 2015: “We expect to have anywhere, anytime access” to Iran’s nuclear facilities.
  • Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes stated plainly that the deal provides “anywhere, anytime” inspections.

CNN anchor Jack Tapper asked the White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes on April 6, 2015, “So the Israelis have put out this list of things that they think should be in the final deal with Iran, including allowing inspectors to go anywhere, anytime.  That seems perfectly reasonable, no?”

The final deal, however, does not allow for “anywhere, anytime” inspections – rather the deal allows Iran to stall for at least 24 days before allowing IAEA inspectors into facilities suspected of violations.  A lot of illegal and dangerous activity can be hidden or obscured by people who have at least 24 days to cover their tracks.

Secretary Kerry now says he has never heard of the concept of “anywhere, anytime” inspections.

  • “In an interview with CBS’ ‘Face the Nation’ that aired Sunday, Kerry argued that having ‘anytime, anywhere’ access to all of Iran’s nuclear sites was ‘not on the table’ and a term ‘I never heard in the four years that we were negotiating’ — even though, as host John Dickerson pointed out, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said in April that the international community would have ‘anywhere, anytime, 24/7 access.’”
  • “This is a term that, honestly, I never heard in the four years that we were negotiating. It was not on the table. There’s no such thing in arms control as “anytime, anywhere.”  There isn’t any nation in the world, none that has an anytime, anywhere,” Kerry said.

The Obama administration told us that inspectors would be allowed to enter Iranian military facilities suspected of violations.

  • “What about the military facilities?” asked CNN’s Jake Tapper on April 6, 2015.25
  • “What we will have under this deal, Jake, is the strongest inspections regime that any country faces in the world,” said Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes.  “And what that means is if we see a site that we need to inspect on a military facility, we can get access to that site and inspect it.  So if it’s a suspicious site that we believe is related to its nuclear efforts, we can get access and inspect that site through the IAEA.”

The final deal, however, does not allow international inspectors to enter Iranian military facilities at all – this means that Iran could be careful not to conduct any weaponization efforts at its official nuclear sites, but could actually build nuclear warheads on military bases and in other military facilities away from the eyes of international inspectors.

  • “‘The access of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency or from any other body to Iran’s military centers is forbidden,’ Ali Akbar Velayati, Khamenei’s adviser for international affairs, said in an interview with Al-Jazeera satellite TV.  Velayati further stressed that the directive will be enforced regardless of interpretations by the P5+1 world powers to the contrary.”
  • Iran’s Foreign Minister reaffirmed this point in an address to Iran’s parliament.

Iran has negotiated a series of secret side deals with the IAEA that are not part of the final, formal, public nuclear agreement, and neither President Obama nor Secretary Kerry has been allowed to read these deals.

  • The President knew of their existence, but did not inform Congress of the deals, and Members of Congress were not allowed to see these secret side deals, according to a column in the Washington Post.
  • “The agreements were uncovered, completely by chance, by two members of Congress — Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) — who were in Vienna meeting with the U.N.-related agency.
  • “Pompeo [said] that he and Cotton were meeting with the deputy director of the IAEA and the agency’s two top Iran negotiators just days after the nuclear accord was announced, when they asked how the agency will carry out verification at the Iranian military complex at Parchin.  IAEA officials told them, quite casually, that the details were all covered in agreements negotiated between the IAEA and the Iranian government.  It was the first they had heard of the side deals.
  • “Pompeo says they asked whether they could see those agreements.  He says IAEA officials replied, “‘Oh no, of course not, no, you’re not going to get to see those.’  And so everybody on our side of the table asked, ‘Has Secretary Kerry seen these?’  ‘No, Secretary Kerry hasn’t seen them. No American is ever going to get to see them.’ ”

One secret side deal apparently allows Iranian officials – not international inspectors — to collect their own soil samples at key nuclear facilities suspected of violations.  When Secretary Kerry was confronted about this during a Senate hearing, he did not deny this.  Rather, he said these and other side deals (not included in the final official text) are “classified” agreements and will not be disclosed to the American people.

The final deal will provide Iran more cash than all of the U.S. aid provided to Israel since 1948 — “The Iran deal will provide Iran with a cash windfall as sanctions are eased and assets are unfrozen.  The total amount is estimated to be as high as $150 billion.  If so, the Iran deal would give more cash to Iran than the $124.3 billion the U.S. has given in total aid to Israel since 1948.”

The final deal will, in time, remove all restrictions from Iran’s ability to enrich uranium, and will permit Iran to legally buy conventional weapons, ballistic missile technology and sensitive, dual-use technology that could be used to build nuclear weapons.

According to an analysis of the final deal conducted by Dennis Ross, a former senior advisor to President Obama on Iran issues, and co-chairman of a team of leading Middle East and nuclear experts:

  • “Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi has stated on Iranian state TV that ‘we will provide weapons to whomever and whenever we consider appropriate.  And we will buy weapons from wherever we can.’
  • “Iran rejects this restriction.
  •  “UNSCR 2231 bans arms transfers by Iran without the permission of the UN Security Council until the ban is lifted in five years.
  • “Iran could begin ramping up latent enrichment capacity after 8.5 years.
  • “Iran is permitted to build additional yellowcake production and uranium conversion facilities.
  • “Iran can conduct enrichment R&D with uranium in advanced centrifuges at Natanz.
  • “After 10 years, Iran will be able to begin installing and operating up to approximately 50,000 centrifuges at Natanz – more than five times the current amount – including advanced machines made far more efficient by the enrichment R&D and centrifuge manufacturing plans permitted under the JCPA.
  •  “After 15 years, Iran is permitted to build as large an industrial nuclear program as it chooses.
  •  “Iran is also permitted R&D at Fordow, using elements other than uranium.
  •  “After 15 years, Iran would have no limits on enrichment at Fordow.
  •  “After 15 years, Iran would have no limits on stockpile size or enrichment level.
  •  “Termination of existing UNSCRs would lift the embargo on transfers of arms and sensitive technology to and from Iran.
  •  “The arms embargo on conventional weaponry expires after 5 years.
  •  “Restrictions on the transfer of ballistic missile technology expire after 8 years.”

    According to an analysis of the final deal by Michael Eisenstadt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy:

  • “Likewise, on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, Supreme Leader Khamenei vowed regarding the JCPOA that Iran ‘will never give in to the enemy’s greed in the area of protecting its defense capabilities and security — particularly in this environment filled with the enemies’ threats,’ nor would it ‘abandon our regional friends: the oppressed people of Palestine, the oppressed people of Yemen, the people and government of Syria, the people and government of Iraq, the oppressed people of Bahrain and the sincere mujahids of the Resistance in Lebanon and Palestine.  These people will always enjoy our support.’  He continued, saying that ‘our policy towards the arrogant government of America will not change in any way despite these negotiations and the document that has been prepared.’
  • “Iran has successfully transferred arms to its regional proxies and allies for years, even though it was prohibited from doing so by UNSCR 1701 (2006), which banned arms transfers to Hezbollah, and UNSCRs 1747 (2007) and 1929 (2010), which banned all Iranian arms exports.  Iran will almost certainly continue to export arms to its proxies and allies by all ways and means available to it….
  • “UNSCR 2231 bans the sale of major weapons systems to Iran without the approval of the UN Security Council until the ban is lifted five years hence.  Iran claims that this ban — located in an annex to the UNSCR — lacks legal standing, and that it will fight it.  To this end, it will likely try to acquire major weapons systems from foreign sellers — such as the S-300 surface-to-air missile that it contracted for from Russia in 2007 — in order to test the provisions of the UNSCR and impose its interpretation of the resolution on the international community.
  • “UNSCR 2231 calls upon Iran to avoid the testing and development of ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons for eight years after ‘Adoption Day,’ although there is no prescribed penalty for it continuing with such activities (Annex B, Article 3).  Iran claims that since it does not seek nuclear weapons, none of its missiles are designed for this purpose, and consequently, this article is null and void.  Moreover, although Iran recently unveiled a land attack cruise missile, UNSCR 2231 is silent on the testing and development of cruise missiles.”

Despite all of these enormous concessions, even President Obama concedes that the final deal still leaves Iran just one year away from building a nuclear weapon over the next ten years.  After that, Iran would be legally free to build a much more robust nuclear program, free from economic sanctions, with the 190,000 centrifuges it wants.

  • President Obama on April 2, 2015: “Today, estimates indicate that Iran is only two or three months away from potentially acquiring the raw materials that could be used for a single nuclear bomb.  Under this deal, Iran has agreed that it will not stockpile the materials needed to build a weapon.  Even if it violated the deal, for the next decade at least, Iran would be a minimum of a year away from acquiring enough material for a bomb.”32
  • Ayatollah Khamenei on July 8, 2014: “Our officials say we need 190,000 [centrifuges]. Perhaps not today, but in two to five years that is the country’s absolute need,” Khamenei, who has the final word on all matters of state, was quoted as saying.”33

Conclusion:
The final Iran deal is a bad deal, one that is dangerous for the American people, for the world, and particularly for our Arab and Israeli allies in the Middle East.  It should be rejected by Congress on a broad bipartisan basis and vigorously countered by the next President of the United States for three main reasons:

First, the final Iran deal crosses President Obama’s own red lines.

  • It does not end Iran’s nuclear program, as the Obama administrated promised.
  • It does not provide for “anywhere, anytime” inspections, as the Obama administration promised.
  • It grants Iran a “right” to enrich uranium despite years of Iran’s duplicitous nuclear activity, despite President Obama’s promise not to grant such right.

Second, the final Iran deal does not block Iran’s path to build and deploy nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them – to the contrary, it puts Iran on the legal path to building and deploying The Bomb in eight to ten years, or much sooner if the Iranian regime decides to cheat.

  • According to an analysis of the final deal conducted by Dennis Ross, a former senior advisor to President Obama on Iran issues, and co-chairman of a team of other leading Middle East and nuclear experts: “The deal would essentially legitimize Iran as a threshold nuclear state after the sunset.  There are no clear mechanisms that would remain after the sunset to ensure Iran adheres to its NPT obligations and is unable to develop nuclear weapons capability.”
  • According to an analysis by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy: “The nuclear accord does not block Iran’s path to the bomb; at best, it may defer the problem for an indeterminate amount of time.”

Third, the final Iran deal rewards the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism — a regime that has repeatedly attacked its neighbors, a regime that has repeatedly called for the annihilation of the United States and Israel, and a regime that has repeatedly deceived the international community and repeatedly violated international law with regards to its nuclear program — with more than $150 billion in cash and business contracts that will embolden them and provide more resources for international terrorism and spreading their Islamic Revolution.

— END —

The Judgment of The God Who Is There (Part 1)

LightningThe common view of God is a big grandfather in the sky, looking for someone having fun, so that He can shoot lightning bolts at them and yell, “Hey, stop that!”  However, this is not the Biblical picture of The God Who Is There.  When you consider how He created Adam and Eve, put them in a garden of delights with no rules except ONE, how did we wind up with such a perverse view of His attitude toward us?  Well, it says more about our lack of understanding than His, and our lack of communication with Him has resulted in lots of distortions and misinformation about God.  However, it remains that the Bible does teach a great deal about God’s judgment.

There are two ways to approach the judgment of The God Who Is There.  The first is to recognize there is a difference between personal judgment and corporate judgment.  Personal judgment is concerned with what is done about an individual who refuses to submit to His authority, while corporate judgment addresses what He will do to nations or people groups who forget Him.

A second way to approach His judgment is to distinguish between that which is simply the removal of His hands from natural events, that is, to let the effects of sin take their natural course, as opposed to His active arrangement of events or supernatural intervention to destroy works and workers who choose to do that which displeases Him.

Let’s first address judgment on a personal level, how God deals with individuals who oppose His purposes.  First, we must remember everything He made in the original creation was “good.”  There was no intention on His part of disease, destruction, death, loneliness or emptiness.  God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31)

Adam and Eve2Then God would walk with Adam and Eve in the “cool of the day” and they could talk with Him and draw on His wisdom and understanding, to what limited degree they could grasp what the Creator wanted to share with them.  There was only ONE rule; only ONE THING forbidden: the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  But an enemy was allowed into the Garden of Eden who convinced Eve to try that one thing, even though she knew they could eat the fruit from [any of] the trees of the garden, except [that one].” (Genesis 3:8)  And do not think we are blaming Eve, because she gave to Adam, “who was there with her.” (Genesis 3:6)  Much has been written about this temptation and Adam’s silence, and these are subjects that warrant special treatment at another time.

In any case, Adam and Eve disobeyed that one simple command, and with all the trees of the garden at their disposal, to enjoy as much as they wanted of all that was good, they chose instead to try to figure out on their own the difference between good and evil.  And discover it, they did!  In that instant they came under the judgment of God who had told them, “In the day you eat of it, you will die,” (Genesis 2:17)  which is exactly what happened.

You see, death is not the end of existence, but a separation from relationship.  I have heard some who are weak in their Bible scholarship abuse this saying, “Well even though they did not die immediately, the began to die.”  But that is not what the text says:  “In the day you eat of it, you will die.”  The problem is not with the text, but with understanding the nature of life and the nature of death.  On the day they ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they suddenly felt ashamed because they had distrusted God.  So they tried to hide, first from each other and then from the Creator.  Separated because of their disobedience to God’s one simple rule; separated from each other and separated from Him, they were isolated from the only source of Life in the universe!  They had died; they were under God’s judgment.

Now did God do anything actively to pursue this judgment?  No, rather it was the natural course of disobedience that took them from their act to the realization that they did not trust Him; they had no faith in Him; they did not believe His words, but chose to believe someone else, the tempter or Serpent.  This resulted in hiding because, in Adam’s words, “I heard your voice .. . and was afraid.” (Genesis 3:10)  He had died; the relationship of trust and love was broken.

In the same way, much of God’s “judgment” on individuals is less often His active punishment, but rather the removal of His protection.  Everyone sins, we all do things we know to be wrong, all of us also make mistakes due to lack of understanding or ignorance.  When we make mistakes, and even sometimes when we actively do what we know to be wrong, God continues to protect us and shield us from the natural effects of our sin.  However, at some point He will remove His protection and let us experience that to which our sins lead us.

This could be in the way we are treated if we act in pride; people around us become offended and disown or demote us.  Or it could be in disease if we disobey His rules of morality or gluttony.  It might come as legal action if we sin in areas of greed, envy, sloth or anger.  It could be in the crash that results when we ignore speed limits or stop signs.  God does not have to actively “punish” us, because our sins carry within them their own weight of guilt and effects that act as His judgment.  He is good and has made every provision for good to come to those who choose what is right in His eyes.  But if we choose our own way instead of His, be assured we will suffer consequences, just as surely as Adam and Eve died in the day they ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Take for example, the man at the pool of Bethesda, who Jesus healed in John 5:1-15.  After being healed, Jesus told him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” (verse 14)  It is unlikely that Jesus was warning him that God would supernaturally take action against him, but rather whatever disease he had been cured of was the result of a sinful life, and if he returned to that sin, the disease would recur.

This does not mean God never brings individual judgment by supernatural means, only that it is usually unnecessary in the case of individual sinners.  Mostly He simply allows us to suffer the consequences of choices that oppose His way of life.  But in Genesis, He brought specific diseases against the Egyptians for their resistance to His will, and warned His chosen people that if they obeyed His commands, He would not bring any of these diseases on them, suggesting that disobedience would bring those same diseases. (Exodus 15:26)  However, this warning was not enough for Miriam, who spoke against Moses in jealousy (envy), and suffered a skin disease as a supernatural intervention to teach her humility. (Numbers 12:1-15)  Ahab died by a “random arrow,” directed by God as the prophet, Micaiah, had foretold. (1 Kings 22: 23:38)  Later Jehoram was warned by the prophet, Elijah, that he would die in judgment from God. (2 Chronicles 21:12-19)   Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, suffered direct judgment because of his sin. (2 Kings 5:20-27)   In the New Testament, God punished Herod with physical death for his blasphemy (Acts 12:21-23) and in 1 Corinthians, Paul teaches that sometimes disease and even death is the result of sinful behavior (11:28-32).

Of course not all disease is the act of God’s judgment (2 Kings 13:14; 1 Timothy 5:23), so we must be careful not to assign guilt simply because we see misfortune or illness, as Job’s “comforters” did.  Rather, consider that God may allow illness or misfortune to give us the opportunity to show His great love.  This is true, even if illness or misfortune is the result of sin or judgment.  God’s judgments are rarely final on individuals (obviously, they are if it results in death), but rather to lead those under His judgment to turn to Him and live. Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their wicked ways and live? (Ezekiel 18:23)

Next week, August 9, 2015 , I will address God’s corporate judgment on nations and what this could mean for America.