Monday, September 1, 2014

3 out of 4 Voters Thought Radical Islamic Terrorism was a Threat to the US Before the Rise of ISIS

Radical Islamic Terrorists

75% of American voters believed that radical Islamic terrorists posed a threat to the United States… back in January. This was at the start of the rising Islamic State, when President Obama still considered them to be “junior varsity”.

The statistic was not surprising to hear at first. With threats being seen through social media, prominent government officials acting sincerely concerned, and the free-for-all southern border allowing people to cross at will, it’s no surprise that people are concerned today. The surprising part came when I realized that the survey was from January, 2014. While the fear itself is discouraging by its very existence, it’s encouraging to see that the mainstream media and Washington DC have not been able to pull the wool over the majority of Americans’ eyes.

If it was 75% back then, it should be well over 80% today. That doesn’t mean that anything appropriate will be done about it. The reality is that there might not be much we can do about it. Thanks to over a decade of war on terror, a fearful America is still not willing to stomach more troops in the Middle East. Even that might not be enough against a force like the Islamic State. They are extremely well funded with untold assets that could allow them to cross en masse, fully armed and ready to wait for the word to strike.

If penniless children can easily make it across the border, what could possibly stop terrorists with plenty of money and incentive?

Then, there’s the fact that they’re a self-sustaining military now. Every victory makes them stronger. They have American weapons. They are growing in strength with Middle East recruits every day.

The worst fear, of course, is that if they are as sophisticated as they appear, then recruiting within our own borders will not be challenging. It doesn’t take as much coaxing as one might believe to turn intelligent Americans against their own country through the promises of a Muslim afterlife. Our people are no more equipped to deal with the subtle brainwashing than their own people. In fact, there are circles within the country that would make it easier to recruit here rather than having more people cross the border.

They can and likely will be able to put a plan in motion that is much more dangerous than the 9/11 attacks. This is a different terrorist organization than any we’ve faced. The forces that we fought during the Gulf Wars were not as well equipped or organized as the Islamic State. Even al-Qaeda, Hamas, or the Muslim Brotherhood fall short of what ISIS could become.

There’s something different and terrifying about ISIS, ISIL, the Islamic State, or whatever they should be called today. These aren’t Hussein’s troops that would surrender to journalists. They’re not bin Laden’s network that pulled off two major attacks before going into a decade of hiding and failed attacks. They’re not Hamas praying for more and better supplies to hide in schools and hospitals. The Islamic State is the most ominous threat to the United States since the USSR during the height of Cold War tension.

If 75% of Americans were concerned 9 months ago, then 99% should be concerned today.

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Understanding Our Roles as Believers


It’s more than going to church, saying prayer before supper, and tithing. Our roles as believers require dedication and perseverance in the face of challenges from every side.

As believers, we are charged with two concurrent roles: students and teacher’s assistants. The student part is the easy one to understand. Pray, read the Bible, ask questions, and pray some more. Grace is given to those willing to accept it, but we must still remain diligent with our studies and prayers in order to strengthen our faith and allow us to properly spread the Word to others.

It’s like the warning we receive on airplanes in case the oxygen masks deploy. We’re told to secure our mask firmly before assisting others. This is true when spreading the Gospel. Our own souls are our responsibility. To properly help others, we must be constantly improving our own understanding.

Looking back, I know of several opportunities to share the Word of God that I either did not take or handled improperly. I’ve given advice that I wish I could take back. In the future, God Willing, I will look back at today and see other opportunities missed. That’s part of our journey. We must continue to learn more every day through prayer and reading the Word. The Bible is not something that should be read once, though that’s a great start. It must be read our whole lives. I cannot count the times that I’ve read a book, a chapter, or even a verse from the Bible many times before finding something extremely important that I missed every time before. In fact, it’s very rare that I read a book of the Bible without coming away with a better understanding than I had the last time I read it.

It’s harder to be a teacher’s assistant. For many, it’s a challenge to take on the role of helping to teach. The world is against us right now. Perhaps it always has been. It takes a bold heart to open up and talk to friends, family, and even strangers about the Gospel. There are multiple fears against us – fear of losing acceptance, fear that we’re not communicating the Word properly, and in some cases there are tangible fears. In many places, teaching the Gospel is punishable by death.

The opposite side of the spectrum also holds challenges. We must be assistants only. That’s hard, especially for people who have strong personalities. The greater the leader, the harder it is to play this role properly. We’ve seen too many people gain powerful followings who have the ability to reach the masses, only to fall to false doctrines and succumb to their desires in this world.

The concept that anyone can “win souls” is profoundly egotistical. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit can win souls. As humans, we can only point people in the right direction. They must, under their own free will, walk down the path. We can walk them to the door, but from there they must continue the journey by taking the hand of the divine. We can only assist.

This is important because all-too-often we start to interject our own understanding rather than relying on the Word and sound Biblical doctrine. Like a teacher’s assistant in a classroom, we can pass out the textbooks, answer some of their questions, and offer encouragement, but they must listen to the teacher in order to pass the course.

Everything we do offers an opportunity to learn, assist, or both. Through diligence of learning and fearlessness in sharing the Gospel, we not only accept the strength of the Armor of God around us but we also have an opportunity to show others where they can find their own Armor.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Shell is trying once again to begin drilling in the Arctic

Shell is trying once again to begin drilling in the Arctic

Royal Dutch Shell has asked the United States federal government for permission to begin drilling in the Arctic, not too far off of the coast of Alaska. The company’s previous attempts to begin drilling in the Arctic came to a halt back in 2012 due to numerous pratfalls and violations of federal regulations. It has since revised its plan and resubmitted it for approval.

The revised exploration plan, which the company submitted to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in Anchorage, calls for two drilling vessels to operate in the Chukchi Sea at the same time, rather than the previous plan which called for one in the Chukchi and one in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska’s north Coast.

Shall has been trying to drill in the Arctic for over a decade, but its attempts have been plagued by numerous challenges and mishaps. The company had to abandon its hopes of drilling in the Arctic this year after it was ruled that the United States government hadn’t properly assessed the potential environmental damage that large-scale oil production could do.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is currently working on an environmental study that Shell hopes will be able to satisfy the court and enable the company to begin drilling in the Arctic.

Read more about the story at The New York Times.

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Climate change is eventually going to hit Hawaii hard

Climate change is eventually going to hit Hawaii hard

A new report from the University of Hawaii is warning the state’s tourism industry to begin preparing to feel the effects of climate change. The report warns that Hawaii will most likely begin seeing a lot more competition from easier-to-access tropical resorts along the coastal regions from Texas to Arizona.

Thanks to climate change, Hawaii is expected to become hotter and drier. That means less cooling trade winds, roaring waterfalls, and gorgeous forest streams, and more droughts. There will also be fewer beaches as the sea levels rise and the coast begins to erode away.

The report was paid for by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, which is looking for strategies to adapt to the inevitable changes. One of the biggest challenges that the state’s tourism industry will face is the rising sea levels. The vast majority of Hawaii’s hotels and resorts are located near the shore, and will soon have to deal with increased flooding and storm surges.

Dolan Eversole, a coastal hazards extension agent for the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program and one of the authors of the report, has said that the earth’s climate is already being changed by rising greenhouse gases from across the globe, however, we won’t experience the major effects for another few decades or so.

Some of Hawaii’s beaches will erode by fifty feet or more by 2050, and some beaches will disappear entirely. More and more, Hawaii is being faced with the choice of a costly retreat from the coast to maintain its healthy sand beaches, or armoring its shorelines in order to protect its hotels while running the risk of losing even more of its shorelines.

Read more about the story at The Huffington Post.

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Louisiana is being swallowed into the Gulf of Mexico

Louisiana is being swallowed into the Gulf of Mexico

Scientists are saying that one of the greatest environmental and economic disasters in the history of the United States, the rapid loss of land that is occurring in the southeast portion of Louisiana, is on the fast track towards a catastrophic conclusion over the next few decades.

The Louisiana coastline has been shrinking over the last few decades, and the rate at which it gets swallowed into the Gulf of Mexico is increasing every year. It has been estimated that the state loses a chunk of land equal in size to a football field every hour or so.

According to ProPublica: “In 50 years, most of southeastern Louisiana not protected by levees will be part of the Gulf of Mexico. The state is losing a football field of land every 48 minutes, 16 square miles a year, due to climate change, drilling and dredging for oil and gas, and levees on the Mississippi River.”

“This land being swallowed by the Gulf is home to half of the country’s oil refineries, a matrix of pipelines that serve 90 percent of the nation’s offshore energy production and 30 percent of its total oil and gas supply, a port vital to 31 states, and 2 million people who would need to find other places to live,” according to ProPublica.

Read more about the story at Popular Science.

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Existing power plants will spew forth over 300 billion tons of CO2

Existing power plants will spew forth over 300 billion tons of CO2

Power plants across the globe are going to spew forth more than three-hundred billion tons of carbon dioxide over their expected lifetimes, adding massive amounts of the climate-warming gas to the atmosphere. That number is just from the power plants that are currently in existence, it doesn’t include power plants that have yet to be built.

This is according to findings by scientists from the University of California in Irvine (UCI) and Princeton University. These findings, which appeared in Environmental Research Letters earlier this week, are the first to quantify just how quickly these “committed” emissions are growing, which is around four percent annually, as more fossil fuel-burning power plants are being built.

“Bringing down carbon emissions means retiring more fossil fuel-burning facilities than we build,” said Steven Davis, assistant professor of Earth system science at UCI and the study’s lead author. “But worldwide, we’ve built more coal-burning power plants in the past decade than in any previous decade, and closures of old plants aren’t keeping pace with this expansion. Far from solving the climate change problem, we’re investing heavily in technologies that make the problem worse.”

“We’ve been hiding what’s going on from ourselves: A high-carbon future is being locked in by the world’s capital investments,” said Socolow, professor emeritus of mechanical & aerospace engineering. “Current conventions for reporting data and presenting scenarios for future action need to give greater prominence to these investments. Such a rebalancing of attention will reveal the relentlessness of coal-based industrialization, long underway and showing no sign of abating.”

Read more about the story at Scientific American.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Soul inside

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They See a Pre-Trib Rapture Because They Want to See It


There is something inherently wonderful about the concept of the rapture. It means salvation, joy, and harmony to the majority of Christians. Unfortunately, it’s not going to happen the way that most believe.

This is not an article to give evidence about the idea that we will go through tribulation before the return of our Messiah. It’s also not an article that will go into the reasons that the false idea of a pre-tribulation rapture became so popular and why it’s taught in most Christian churches today. That particular conspiracy theory would take much longer than one article to explain. Today, let’s simply discuss the dangers of having a closed mind and the reason that so many do.

The title of this post is unfortunate because there really is not a “they” or an “us” in this debate. The reality is that those who live long enough to see the end days just prior to the return of Jesus Christ will all be faced with tremendous challenges and the type of world that most do not want to consider. The reason that I use the word “they” is in hopes that you, the reader, will soon be willing to open your mind to reality.

When Hope is Blinding

Hope is the cornerstone of a set of emotions bestowed on us by the Creator that drive many of us to do more than we normally could. It is a top-tier emotion that can supersede the base emotions of fear or joy that guide many of us from moment to moment.

With all of the wonderful things that hope brings to humans, it can have a negative effect. In the case of believing in a pre-tribulation rapture, it’s our hopes that play against us to strengthen the delusion. The end days will be marked with the greatest evils the world has ever seen. Millions, even billions of people will die quickly in an unprecedented wave of destruction and chaos. People will be forced to make tough choices unlike anything that we’ve ever had to face.

It won’t be choices about how to pay a mortgage or what to do about the bully at school. These choices will be more important than even the life or death decisions that some are forced to make today. These will be choices about our soul, choices about eternity.

There will be suffering greater than the vast majority of people have ever imagined, let alone experienced.

Many churches have latched onto the concept of the pre-tribulation rapture for two reason:

  • It has been accepted by their peers, publishers, conference organizers, and other religious support bodies. If you preach anything other than a pre-tribulation rapture, you’re not going to get in with the “cool kids” of the modern church movement.

  • People don’t want to hear it. There’s a reason that people like Joel Osteen and Rick Warren are so popular. They tell people that everything is going to be okay, that they can do great things in this life, and that the Bible is not about doom and gloom. As a result, the churches that are preaching the truth about the coming of Yeshua have a challenge with filling their pews.

Hope is empowering in many cases, but in the case of the rapture, it’s debilitating. It is arguably the greatest threat to Christians.

An Open Mind (in this case) is Imperative

Today, many churches and Christians suffer from the negative effects of having an open mind. The Bible is very clear about what we should believe and how we are supposed to live our lives, but many modern churches have abandoned sound Biblical doctrine in order to be more inclusive. This is not the time to go into those things, but rather to focus on the instance when an open mind is most important.

Regardless of what you’re taught at church or on the internet, you must have an open mind about the end days. To believe that we will not have to go through tribulation is a nice thought, but if you are willing to open up to the possibility (truth) that we are going to face the toughest challenges that man has ever faced in the coming days, then you’ll be more prepared to face it when it comes. This is the time to open your mind. If you don’t, you will not be prepared and you are more likely to make very poor decisions that can haunt you for eternity.

It’s human nature to want to believe that good things are ahead in this life. We desperately want to feel like we are going to be spared the hardships that will face the world, that the bad things that are coming will not happen to us. The message of a pre-tribulation rapture is something to be desired. Unfortunately, it’s not the truth.

If through prayer, study, and an open mind you’re able to see the truth, then you will be better prepared when it happens. If you have a closed mind to it, the bad things to come will shock and confuse you. It will be in this time of confusion that many people of faith today will lose their faith. They will feel betrayed. They will fall away. It will cost them their souls.

The Real Hope

This is not bad. No matter how much this world and our current lives pull us in, we have a far greater future. During the times of tribulation is when our faith is most tested. Tribulation is not a time to fear. It is a time to shine. It is an opportunity for us to face the worst that the adversary can throw at us and come through the other end with the greatest hope of eternity still intact.

No man can do it alone. We need to pray constantly for our Father to guide us, for the Holy Spirit to fill us, and for the glory of our Messiah to take us up to Him at the appointed time. There will be many tests and challenges that we will face before that time. When you realize that the hope of men and churches are almost always false, the real hope of a permanent place in Heaven can give you more to live (and die) for than any reward from this world.

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