Sunday, January 24, 2016

Hypochondriacs Are Demoralizing Society

Have you ever seen an illustrated medical book that shows the hundreds of diseases and maladies that afflict the human race? It's unsettling, and can be frightening if you have the least sense of being unwell. You may begin to feel symptoms of cancer, heart disease, or plague. Our minds are designed to respond strongly to images and words, and are vulnerable to hysteria; which is contagious. When large numbers of people begin thinking a funny smell may be toxic, and respond to each other's fears, panic often takes hold, and fleeing people can be injured or killed. Hence we have a legal definition for criminal incitement: "Never yell 'fire!' in a crowded theater."  Mass hysteria can kill. (Link)

Similarly, the more people begin to believe in the hopelessness of our present global situation, the rampant murder and mayhem we see in failed states of the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere, the more we may suffer a form of hypochondria (the belief that all humanity is doomed to misery and death); even if we're personally healthy. Hypochondriacs become alarmed at the most minor symptoms and suffer panic attacks, thinking they have, or are about to be diagnosed with, a serious illness. (Link)

Our present global dilemma is indeed very serious, but the peoples and cultures causing terror, chaos, and war are a minority. If the sane and intelligent majority of global citizens put aside their selfish, petty rivalries and worked in unison, the situation would improve. "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke

The ability to be faithful to your principles of moral right and wrong, regardless of the danger to your life, limb, or fortune, has always been the mark of the heroic individual. From the beginning of civilization, such heroes have been celebrated and honored. Even today, films like Star Wars, The Avengers, and The Hunger Games, are the highest-grossing global hits. Regardless of culture, humankind has recognized courage and honor. Until now. There are powerful, global cultural currents today that want you to believe someone else, the government usually, will take care of you. They're telling you to disarm and surrender. (Link)

Societies globally are becoming more hysterical and fearful every day, thanks to radical politics, the internet, and social networks. Many politicians are masters of crowd manipulation, and know how to provoke and exploit a crisis and the hysteria that follows. They will invent a crisis if one isn't available, and the media will parrot it. Additionally, there are countless thousands of delusional web sites and videos on the internet which appear genuine to the young and gullible. Did you know the Nazis set up bases on the moon in 1942? (Link) Or that the CIA created Al Qaeda and ISIS to divide and conquer the oil-rich nations?  (Link)  Many people believe these nightmare fantasies because the internet says they're real. "You can't believe everything you read on the internet." - Abraham Lincoln, 1868. (Link)

Exposure to mentally unhinged people and bizarre conspiracies can shape our minds at the unconscious level, and influence our dream world in negative ways. All of us have nightmares on occasion, which often feel very real, and they're made worse by societal decay. They may then become reality. Whole nations can suffer nightmares, and many are suffering now.

Renowned classical historian Alexander Pope said in 1711, "A little learning is a dangerous thing." Education is a lifelong pursuit, not a quick-fix. Unless we master critical thinking and the skill to ask intelligent questions that challenge false and idiotic ideas, we will succumb to dangerous and deadly beliefs. The witch hunts of past centuries, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Terror of Revolutionary France in the 1790's are indelible examples. In our so-called 'modern world', Communism, Nazism,  and other forms of religious fanaticism have killed hundreds of millions. (Link) Mass delusion stems from ignorance, pride, and frailty.

Human nature changes only glacially, as shown by the Bible, Homer, Livy, and Shakespeare. The Pharaoh Ramses, King Minos, and Richard III are separated by millennia, but think and act similarly. Knowing this eases our minds, and the myth of 'progressivism' in human nature is put in its place. Our attempts to reform government - no matter how well-intended or executed - will never replace God in our lives. Reading the great works of past ages is healing, and it puts our lives in perspective like nothing else will:

 "What has been will be again,
  what has been done will be done again,
  there is nothing new under the sun"  (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

Our unraveling world with all its chaos and violence is just a large-scale rerun of human history. People aren't behaving any differently than they always have. A wise individual once said, "Never blame malice for what can be easily explained by conceit." (Link) People are self-absorbed to a large extent, and don't consider the consequences of what they do. Empathy is not a common virtue, and those who have it use it sparingly. It takes real effort, and often expense, to extend our compassion in that way.

Even Jesus was irritable and short-tempered some of the time. In the New Testament, John 2, there's a scene known as the Wedding at Cana. Midway into the celebration, Jesus's mother tells him that the party's wine supply has run out, a Jewish cultural faux pas that will haunt the betrothed couple for the rest of their lives. Jesus snaps at his mother, "Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour is not yet come" (referring to his crucifixion, and calling her "woman"). Soon, though, Jesus recovers his empathy and instructs the servants to fill the many wine jars with water. He transforms the water into wine that's as fine as anyone has ever tasted. (Link)

All the extreme behavior we see in the world today, good or evil; no matter how inspiring, shocking or disgusting, has (on a small scale) happened before. Our present crises were foretold long ago. The enduring, root cause of most suffering is selfishness, pride, and a lack of faith in God. But this world will be transformed. Our present nightmare, like all nightmares, we will awaken from.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Beware of False Accusers, and Face Them

Never apologize for behavior that isn't clearly wrong, either. It's fashionable these days for crooked people to shame innocent people into apologizing for trivial speech or behavior. An apology will only encourage these crooks to push for more. 
Have you ever been accused of wrongdoing that you knew goes against your character, and about which you have no memory? Such false accusations can be alarming and worrisome, so it's very important to reply immediately and declare them false. The accuser may only be exaggerating. Ask questions and demand proof. We have a right to confront our accusers. Don't accept an accusation second-hand. Find out the whole truth and own up to any part which may be true, for doubt can eat away at you and those who may come to your defense. Don't take any blame that isn't documented in a valid way. We're entitled to the presumption of innocence until misdeeds are proven. Serious accusations require serious evidence. Lies of all kinds threaten civilization, and will destroy it if not defeated:

Occasionally we're the subject of slander or malevolent gossip and there is no clear accusation or evidence. The rise of social networks has fueled a great many examples of character assassination. There isn't much we can do about an organized attack of this kind, so it may be best to laugh it off and ignore it. The more there is, over time, the less credibility people will give it.

We're living in a depraved age of declining standards of honesty and character. Godless and malevolent people need and create scapegoats. Blaming others makes them feel superior and powerful. Very often it's projection (Link), and you may find yourself being accused of the very thing those people or societies are guilty of themselves. In many cases false accusations and slander are used as a tool to steal property from victims. It's an effective form of blackmail. When the Jews were singled out by the Nazis, massive amounts of money and property were stolen from victims. Police states and wars are extremely expensive and inefficient, so the search for plunder is an ongoing and perpetual theme in tyrannical societies.

Children and the aged are the least able to defend themselves, the most vulnerable to false accusations; and the damage caused may be very severe. So it's essential that we help them if we can. Recognize and face these attacks with firmness and courage, especially if the accuser is a relative or old friend. This is no time to be passive or soft. Silence is often seen as acknowledgement of guilt.

We are engaged now in a global civil war to determine who is worthy to stand before the Creator of the universe. God approaches: "But who can endure the day of his coming? Who will stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire, or a launderer's soap..." (Malachi 3:2). The earthly battle before us is critically important, the culmination of a conflict that has taken many thousands of years and millions of lives. It's all part of prophecy, a master plan for the world, and we may live to see its final resolution.

Fierce persecution by the enemies of God is one of the risks we face by taking God's side. Jesus warned all who came to Him that this price must be paid: "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase in wickedness, the love of most will grow cold. But the one who stands firm until the end will be saved." (Matthew 24:9-13). The last decade has produced more persecution of Christians than at any other equivalent time in modern history: (Link)

"If the world hates you keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world then it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you... A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also... Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father." (John 15:18-19, 23-24).

                                 A Christian church burns in Egypt, 2015. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Our Glory Days Will Return and Be Many

Do you remember your 'glory days'? A time when you were on top of the world, everything was working right in your life, and you were happy? Maybe your glory days are right now? Or perhaps they happened long ago and you're wondering if they'll ever come again? Some people may never have had any, but that's probably very rare. A deep sense of peace, abundance, and contentment often come upon us suddenly, and unexpected, even when there seems to be no reason.

One definition of this kind of complete happiness is, "The full use of your God-given talents and abilities along the lines of excellence." So the ancient Greeks and Romans said. Successful athletes in the arena, with millions watching, have a taste of glory we can easily imagine; which is why we watch, and why some pay thousands for tickets to see them in the flesh. When your beloved team is losing terribly but struggles through the pain and won't give up; then reverses their fortunes by agonizing, extreme, even super-human effort, and achieves victory... it's like a journey from death to life.

God wants us to have more of those days, an eternity of them with much greater love, honor, joy, richness, and fulfillment than we've ever known. And in the company of millions who have passed from this earthly life and achieved the ultimate that anyone can possibly achieve. It's called heaven. Forget all the descriptions of angels sitting on clouds playing harps and singing songs. It's infinitely greater than that. Dante, who gave us unforgettable images and descriptions of hell in his book Inferno, also wrote about heaven in Paradiso, comparing it to a vast, celestial coliseum where thrilling events open to a divine sky where greater realms of bliss can be achieved.

All of us at some time in our lives have dreamed of great wealth, the power to right wrongs and dispense justice, along with the love of our nation and the world, have we not? This is what awaits us in heaven. Scripture describes heaven as a place of no darkness or pain, no strife or fear; a place of eternal life, pleasure and joy beyond all human understanding, with "...power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory..."  (Revelation 5:12).

It's pretty clear that this world as we know it can never deliver anything close to real glory days. Earth is short of basic necessities, which are just a start. We don't live on bread alone, but also must have many other intangibles such as love, friendship, respect, and spiritual fulfillment; the Holy Spirit. An abundance of spirit can make us very grateful for all the good things in life, and create a longing for worlds beyond. There are many worlds much better than earth.

We aren't aware of it, but death is ever-present in this life. It comes in many forms, killing hope, love, innocence, and our dreams. We call it 'change' because we must, in order to live our lives with some modicum of pleasure. Death permeates our relationships on every level. We will be liberated from death in a time to come, and this alone is a joy beyond all other joys.

The world is filled with injustice, and it's in our DNA to thirst for justice. Even horses and other animals understand justice and fairness, and will rebel at injustice, as any competent animal trainer will tell you. On earth it's all too easy to be cheated, defrauded, and abused physically and emotionally by others who have little or no conscience. Sometimes we're victimized by people we thought were our friends. Often there's not enough proof to use the law for justice, or the law is too expensive or weak. We then just have to sit there and take it. It hurts.

Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be filled." (Matthew 5:6). Have faith. Jesus and His heavenly host will save all people of goodwill. We will be redeemed and made more than whole. Either in the next world, or a future earth.

                                                                  The Pearly Gates

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Crushing Israel; The Sport of the Antichrist

The Antichrist, Satan incarnate, is here now and thriving on the world stage, as predicted long ago. The prophet Daniel, Matthew, John, Paul; and the Book of Revelation are very clear, and what we see every day now in the media - the mayhem, perversion, and bloodthirstiness of formerly decent nations - was nearly unimaginable just a few decades ago.

The Antichrist is everything Jesus is not; a "man of sin", a liar, a hater of all God's creations, and a mass killer disguised as a peacemaker. He's slick, handsome, and powerful; traits people admire but which hide evil. He's here now to take away everyone who does not hold onto God, and his presence means that the violent rebirth of the world will happen very soon: Link

This is something to celebrate, because God's victory over Satan is assured from the foundation of the world. The events we're seeing today are the culmination of 6,000 years of human history, and we who are on God's side will receive an immeasurable reward: eternal life, joy, wealth, glory, and honor.

But we won't have them unless we participate by helping with God's work of healing, caring for, and loving our neighbors as ourselves. We may be called upon to be warriors with God, as soldiers, police officers, or servants of many other kinds. "The last shall be first, and the first, last" (Matthew 20:16). Everything we give will be returned to us a thousand-fold. The most menial job, done with love, means everything to the Creator.

The nation of Israel is in dire peril today, and she has very few friends. Israel is much more than a piece of real estate. It's an idea, a foundation of all genuine spiritual development; the original arena and people God chose to channel His love. The Hebrew word israel means "he struggles with God." Christianity, through Jesus, originated there. Which is why the Antichrist is focusing on its annihilation. We in the United States - and the rest of the free world - are next. As the jihadist Muslims say, "Israel is the little Satan, and America the great Satan." They always get things exactly backward. Radical Islamists are shrouded in darkness, confusion, violence, and death. They say, "Allah is all-forgiving, and most merciful", but their rhetoric is never forgiving and merciful. It's full of vengeance, threats, and terror. Link

When the United Nations voted to form Israel in 1947, as a haven for the exiled Jews of Europe and Arabs who chose to live there, all the Arab nations protested and declared war. When the British pulled out of Israel in May, 1948, they attacked, and lost. Again in 1967, Egypt's leader, Gamal Nasser, announced his intention to destroy Israelis with a huge mechanized army and air force. Again, Israel won. In 1973 they were attacked once more, and won again. But now almost the whole world is arrayed against them. And us too, as their main supporters.

Israel is the only real democracy in the Middle East. Women and minorities who are preyed upon and hated in the Arab world have full rights and freedoms in the Jewish state. Many Arabs sit in the Knesset (Israel's Parliament) and in government positions. They have the right to vote.

If tomorrow Israel laid down its weapons and declared that it would not fight, what would happen? There would be mass murder and mayhem, just as the Muslim world has always promised.
If tomorrow the Arab world laid down its weapons and declared that it would not fight, what would happen? There would be peace: Link and Link

The western world and civilization hinge on the existence of Israel and the United States. If they go down, the whole world goes down. It may not make a difference in the world whether I, or you, or a thousand other people choose God and His righteousness, but it's critically important to you, and I, and those other thousand, that we act as though it does make a difference. Have faith. God is watching, and your quality of life in eternity matters a great deal.