PROPHECY UPDATE — AUGUST 2008

THE CHURCH, ELECTIONS, ISLAM, NUKES



Many of you have asked when I would be sending out another prophecy update, so here it is.  We are truly living in the last of the last days, in my opinion.  Some of the information below will surprise you, and maybe sadden you.  So much is happening right before our eyes.  Evangelicals are increasingly accepting the notion that there are other paths to God.  Pop psychology, occultism and much more have gained significant inroads into the Church.  Many consider the democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama to be a messiah or savior.  Islamic nations are trying to outlaw Christianity worldwide.  Israel is closer than ever to war in the Middle East. Wow.  Sit back and read this update!


The Church in America

A recent poll of 35,000 Americans taken by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found a majority of those who are affiliated with a religion do not believe their religion is the only way to salvation.  The findings indicated widespread agreement with universalism in the U.S., reporting "70 percent of Americans with a religious affiliation say that many religions, not just their own, can lead to eternal life."  The poll also indicated 57 percent of those attending evangelical churches agreed that many religions can lead to eternal life.  Only 36 percent chose "My religion is the one, true faith leading to eternal life."  Critics of the poll suggested that evangelicals might have misunderstood the question to include other Christian denominations, not just other religions, which would greatly impact their answers.  Another group, LifeWay Research, performed a similar poll of 2,500 church-going protestants with the question "If a person is sincerely seeking God, can he/she obtain eternal life through religions other than Christianity?"  The yes response was only 31 percent.  Either way, whether 31 percent or 57 percent, both are shocking results. 


If the Lifeway poll is more accurate than the Pew Forum poll, then nearly one-third of American Evangelical Christians have the belief that Jesus Christ
is not the only way to eternal life, so something is going terribly wrong in our churches!  That something is leadership.  Recently I attended a conference on Church leadership, and I was amazed to learn how the Church is in desperate need of effective leaders--those who disciple, nurture, love and truly seek God's calling.  It's not just the pastors, but those in leadership positions who are not leading.  This is leading to a generation of new Christians being unequipped and unprepared.


Christian pollster George Barna (The Barna Group) recently reported that there is a wide spectrum of beliefs within the communities of "born-again" believers.  Some, especially younger born-agains, tend to have a post-modern view of the world, and a majority of them believe in no absolute moral truths.  Relationships and dialog are of ultimate importance, and tolerance of diverse opinions and lifestyles is appropriate.  Christians who have bought into the post-modern world view (as opposed to a biblical world view) think that they can pick and choose what rules to be subject to.  In other words, "I am a Christian so I am accountable to my beliefs about truth-telling."  However, if another person chooses to believe that telling lies is okay, they aren't similarly accountable.  We must understand that Christians and non-Christians will eventually be held accountable to the same standard.  Additionally, Barna found that only 9 percent of those categorized as born-again Christians have a biblical world view.  All of this is rather interesting considering broadcaster NBC's poll a couple of years ago, finding that 86% of Americans believe in God.  The question is, what God?


From one extreme to the other, charismania has taken another so-called ministry to worldwide popularity.  Todd Bentley of Fresh Fire Ministries and Lakeland Revival in Lakeland, Florida, regularly claims to have bizarre angelic visitations, manifestations, and abduction-like experiences.  He has attracted a cult-like following of thousands of Christians.  His ministry should be considered a course in Paranormal 101.  Todd BentleyBentley began preaching in the late 1990s, but gained notoriety in 2001 when he claimed to have talked to a female angel named Emma-o, a so-called "money-gathering angel."  Apparently Bentley was unaware that Emma-o was also the name for a spiritual being called the "King of Hell" in Japanese mythology!  As his popularity increased, he covered himself in tattoos from head to foot, as well as adding a number of facial piercings.  He boasts about healing through violence, and has been videotaped telling stories about kicking a woman in the face, slamming a crippled woman's legs against a stage, and knocking out a man's tooth.  He shouts, "kaboom-boom" and "bam" to a crowd of willing participants who collectively fall over.  He's a violent form of Benny Hinn.  Bentley claims that squawking like a chicken and barking like a dog are attributed to the Holy Spirit. 

Recent newspaper articles have stated the Lakeland Revival has attracted more than 400,000 people from 100 countries, located at the "Ignited Church Florida Outpouring" which has been taking place every night since April 2, 2008.  Some nights there have been as many as 10,000 in attendance.  The nightly events have been televised globally via satellite, contributing to their popularity.  Many discerning Christians have correctly identified Mr. Bentley as an occultist masquerading as a modern-day revivalist.  As one commentator put it, "Professing Christians are descending to Lakeland, Florida to watch a circus."  Bentley's background is not well known in America, but it is in Canada.  His history (self-admitted) includes drugs, criminal activities and membership in a highly publicized sexual molestation ring during the 1990s. 
He has no formal training or experience in the Bible.  He personally claims that he was demon possessed after having been born-again, which poses a problem for his critics, and when considering his self-acclaimed position.  Bentley is one of the most talked about personalities in Christian internet blogs, and in magazines.  Some suggest he is causing a major division within the Church.  Prior to the Lakeland Revival, few had seen the likes of Todd Bentley, who has taken charismatic Christianity to another level--that of the bizarre.  Recently he started the LA Healing Outpouring which is also broadcast live.

The lack of discernment amongst hundreds of thousands of Christians is another indication of the Lord's soon return.  Take a look at the many believers accepting "pop psychology," which some scholars suggest has replaced the Word of God in many churches.    We should examine the biggest church in America (by attendance), averaging more than 30,000 per week, and more than 47,000 regular attenders:  Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas.  Osteen is also the nation's most-popular TV evangelist.  His sermons "tickle" the ears of his followers with messages like "God wants you to be rich" and "God wants you to feel good about yourself."  Scholars call it a gross trivialization of the basic message of the Bible, viewing Osteen as more of a motivational speaker than a pastor.  You won't hear anything said about sinning and naming acts or conditions as sin.  He and others wouldn't want to be labeled "legalistic" or "judgmental."  Pop psychology, diversity and political correctness have made a mockery of our faith. 

Should we now be surprised that our Christian brothers and sisters could believe there is another way to eternal life?  How about thousands of others easily swayed by false teachers like Todd Bentley?  Lakeland and Lakewood are not equipping believers; rather, they are the problem. 
Fewer and fewer believers view the world through the lens of Scripture.  The evidence is before us.  Recent statistics show that nearly 75% of Christian youth leave the Church after high school.  Intellectual skepticism is one of the major reasons they walk away.  However, the main reason is most Christian youth are unequipped to resist intensely anti-Christian college professors who are bent on converting their students to atheism.  The minds of our Christian youth are being filled with feel-good psychology, not the message of the Gospel, right in our own churches!  No wonder, after returning from just one or two semesters of college, our youth are saying "I'm not sure I believe in God anymore."

As prophecy scholars tell us, and Jesus clearly warns us
in Revelation 3:14-22, the last-days Church would become lukewarm, abandoning its roots, having wealth, in need of nothing, and therefore open to all sorts of doctrine.  Take the time to read those passages.  Jesus goes on to admonish the Church to overcome these deceptions.  Are you ready to meet Jesus?

Obama the Messiah?

On January 7, 2008 at Dartmouth College in Lebanon, New Hampshire, Barack Obama told students, "... a light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany...and you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote for Obama."  While some may dismiss it as political jargon, there is an unprecedented spirituality to Obama's presidential campaign.  messiah factorLiterally thousands of Obama's supporters believe he is not just a presidential candidate, but a coming messiah or spiritual leader who will change the planet as we know it.  Yes, really.  Many so-called "spiritually advanced people" identify Obama as a rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet.

Supporters claim they are "intuitively blown away" by Obama's presence; not speeches, not policies, but sheer presence!  Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. said on June 5, 2008 after Obama won the Democratic nomination, "What Barack Obama has accomplished is the single most extraordinary event that has occurred in the 232 years of the nation's political history...the event itself is so extraordinary that another chapter could be added to the Bible to chronicle its significance."  The news media is adding to the fervor.  Articles and headlines are popping up all over the country with messianic-type quotes, such as "He's no ordinary man, Obama is a man of resplendent vision with the wisdom of Solomon, the biblical king of Israel," "He appeals to all that is innate and created in us in a longing for that 'better country, that is a heavenly one' discussed in Hebrews 11," "What he is offering is a covenant for perfection," "The similarities between Obamian hope and biblical hope are extraordinary," "He's All Things to All Men," "Barack Obama is the Hope of the Entire World," "Out of One, many rise to believe again," and "His speeches give an aura of immortality that belies the fact that he's a living breathing human."  Those are just some of the comments printed in recent weeks.  Humorists poke fun at Obama thinking he walks on water (see cartoon).

His reach is also global.  The German magazine Der Spiegel has on their July 11, 2008 cover a photo of Obama under the title, "The Messiah Factor, Barack Obama and the Yearning for a New America."  The deification of Obama seems to be a goal of many of his supporters.  Der SpiegelOne reporter noted that since Obama's inauguration, he has appeared in newspaper, television and magazine profiles as a "supernatural presence in our midst."  Apparently, Obama can say nothing wrong.  Conservative critics note the tendency liberals have to see their leaders as transcendent beings, like Obama as "someone more than human, someone with a touch of the divine."  Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy were put on a God-like pedestal.  Some wonder whether the messiah phenomenon will help or hurt Obama.  Recent polls suggest it is hurting him.  We will know soon enough, as he has also launched a successful voter registration campaign aimed at young people, called "Vote for Change."  Many jurisdictions have reported significant increases in voter registration this summer alone. 

Interestingly, another recent Pew poll reported that half of voters don't know that presidential candidate John McCain is pro-life or that Barack Obama is pro-abortion.  The survey showed when pro-life voters know that information, they support McCain by a three-to-one margin.  The poll also finds voters are more interested in the 2008 election than they were the 2004 election, but they are less informed on where the candidates stand.  Pew finds that just 52 percent of voters rightly identify Obama as pro-abortion ("pro-choice" in the poll's terminology) and only 45 percent know John McCain is pro-life.  A stunning 38 percent of voters don't know where either Obama or McCain stand on the issue of abortion.  Ten percent wrongly identify Obama as pro-life and 17 percent think McCain supports abortion.  McCain has had an 89% pro-life voting record in the Senate.

This information gap is important and will likely help one of them win the election.  Among pro-life voters who know where the two candidates stand, McCain trounces Obama by a whopping 70-24 percentage point margin.  Surprisingly, Obama has a one percent lead (43-42 percent) among pro-life voters who are uninformed about their abortion positions.  Pro-abortion groups are working overtime to educate their supporters as well.  That's because Obama leads by a similar margin of 71-24 percent among pro-abortion voters.  Obama has promised abortion activists that the first thing he would do as president is overturn every pro-life law in all 50 states by signing the "Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA)."  The measure, if it becomes law, would overturn hundreds of state laws that have put limits on abortion, according to Planned Parenthood, NARAL and other pro-abortion groups.

For those of you who participated in my non-scientific presidential poll recently, a majority responded that they would be voting for McCain.  Few were undecided, or said they were voting for the Constitution party candidate.  None said they were voting for Obama (or would admit it)!  McCain's voting record on issues important to Christians has been monitored closely since he's been in the Senate.  Surprisingly, McCain has voted "biblically" on a majority of moral issues, from abortion to marriage, which many Christians are not yet aware of.  However, McCain appears to support Bush's position on land-for-peace in Israel, which includes Jerusalem, which is a very dangerous scenario.  We'll see if that changes before the election.


Islam's New Venues

Never before have Christians been more targeted for their religious beliefs on a global scale as today.  At this moment, dozens of Islamic nations are aggressively pressing the United Nations to adopt an anti-defamation plan that would criminalize Christianity under international law.  Islamic ConferenceThe U.N. resolution is called "Combating Defamation of Religions," and is a clever attempt to cover up human rights abuses committed by Islamic nations against Christians and others.  For example, in order for Islamic nations such as Saudi Arabia to get rid of the pressure created by human rights advocates, such nations could declare that Islam is being attacked and defamed under this resolution, therefore justifying their so-called rights to murder, beat and imprison innocent people.  Promoting the resolution is the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference which formerly adopted the 1990 Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, stating "that all rights are subject to sharia law, making sharia law the only source of reference for human rights."  The persecution of Christians in Islamic countries largely goes unreported.

Christians and non-Muslims in general can already be put to death or tortured without a trial or due process within the borders of many of these Islamic nations--but now they are seeking U.N. approval.  Member nations could simply claim Islam was being attacked and defamed under sharia law, and therefore killing a Christian would be justified, and not a human rights violation.  The European Center for Law and Justice issued a prompt response to the U.N.

This past year has also seen an onslaught of new anti-Christian videos produced by Muslims on YouTube.  Many of the videos are direct attacks on Jesus, His deity, and His resurrection.  These videos claim to prove Jesus was never crucified, never rose from the dead, that the Bible is full of contradictions, and the list goes on.   For those who have never read the Bible, or those church-goers who are not well grounded in scripture, the videos can be very convincing.  It is apparent Satan has gone into overdrive in these last days. 


Israel and Nuclear War

While we in America are likely dealing with the most important presidential election in our history, there is much more happening in the Middle East.  The majority of Islamic nations in the Middle East have made it clear they do not support the state of Israel.  The president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has stated over and over that he wants to obliterate Israel.  nuclear missilesHe has been at the forefront of Middle East tensions by continuing to develop nuclear weapons under the guise of nuclear energy.  In his recent interview with Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News, Ahmadinejad didn't outright deny Iran is developing nuclear weapons, but instead said nuclear weapons were for the 20th century, not today.  A good response would be, huh?  This comes on the heels of medium and long-range missile tests conducted by Iran in mid-July.  Many of the missile tests were a failure, and evidence of that came from faked photos issued by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard who didn't think anyone would notice.  As one reporter stated, "Iran's missile project may need more rocket scientists to help get its projectiles off the ground, but its marketing team desperately needs some talented photo 'retouchers' to better cover up its ballistic shortcomings."  Israeli military authorities later claimed Iran's long-range missile capabilities are non-existent, and mere "propaganda fantasy."

To keep up the rhetoric, just a week after Ahmadinejad's NBC interview, he met with Syrian leaders where he stated that Iran has the right to continue with its nuclear program, and will continue to do so.  It appears he talks out of both sides of this mouth.  Summed up, Ahmadinejad is a lot of talk, but he has made incredible advancements in his nuclear program.  Israeli military officials claim that Iran has technology for a nuclear warhead to fit a missile, and Iran has recently made breakthroughs on nuclear missile warheads.  A number of Middle East experts suggest nuclear war between Iran and Israel could be just weeks away.  Others claim the "war fever" has been engineered by Washington in the form of a stream of leaks indicating that a U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear installations was imminent.  There have been literally hundreds of reports that Israel is preparing to attack Iran or Syria this year.  To stay updated in this developing crisis, read the DEBKAfile at http://www.debka.com/

To further complicate the situation in the Middle East, Russia has been fueling the fire of Iran's nuclear program by providing scientists and infrastructure.  An attack on Iran would certainly provoke Russia into entering the conflict, experts suggest.  Russia also supplies military technology to Syria, another threat to Israel.  One doesn't have to read the prophecies of Ezekiel 38 & 39 (Gog and Magog/Russia attack on Israel), and Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49 (destruction of Damascus) to see where this leads.  As I've said before, this is Bible prophecy in action.  To review who Gog and Magog are in history, go to http://www.soundchristian.com/magog/.

To further antagonize Israel, Iran and Syria continue to send weapons and money to the militant Islamic terrorist groups of Hamas (operating in Palestinian territory) and Hezbollah (operating in Lebanon).  Iran has placed an early warning station anti-air base on the Lebanese 7,800-foot peak of Mt. Sannine, what experts say is a strategic asset capable of determining the outcome of the next Middle East war.  Many believe Iran and Syria desire conflict between Israel and these Islamic groups in hopes of weakening Israel's political infrastructure, particularly with news of Prime Minister Olmert's resignation.  Recent reports out of Israel are that Olmert may be preparing to launch an eleventh-hour strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to preserve his political party's influence.  This becomes more interesting when we see international pressure to force Israel to give up the land God has promised as their eternal inheritance.  Dividing Jerusalem is also on the table.  That can only lead to further judgment from God--for any nation involved.  We should all be praying for the peace of Jerusalem, not the division of Jerusalem!

Looking up,

Tim Osterholm

SoundChristian.com


 

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