Sunday, December 2, 2018

Are You Being Watched? Global Earth Observation System of Systems

“What is at stake is more than one small country, it is a big idea – a New World Order, where diverse nations are drawn together in a common cause, to achieve the universal aspirations of mankind; peace and security, freedom, and the rule of law… A world in which there is the very real prospect of a new world order.” –President George H. W. Bush, January 29, 1991

Students of eschatology have long been aware of the prophetic warnings about a global system of governance, under the control of the Anti-Christ, that will seek to control every aspect of human life. While various theories have been proposed throughout Christian history as to the identity of the Anti-Christ and just what that global government will be, the one consistent thread is that of the Book of Revelation's warning. While I view many of the theories with an eye of skepticism, it is always a wise thing to be aware of what is happening in our world and how it could, in fact, be a part of a grander web that the Anti-Christ will use to his advantage when he emerges. One of the projects that I believe could very well be the forerunner of just such a scenario is the project titled "Global Earth Observation System of Systems" (GEOSS). This is basically a system tying in all of the satellite systems of the various governments of Europe, Asia and the United States. This system, developed from 2005 to 2015, monitors every ship on the oceans and rivers, every plane on the ground and in the sky, every phone call made, every radio and television broadcast, every internet search and email, and even every single person's movements throughout the day. The GEOSS platform manual says the following:

"The GEO Strategic Plan states that “GEO is a coalition of governments and participating Organizations having as its mission the implementation of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) to meet the need for timely, quality long-term global information as a basis for sound decision-making”. Earth observations from diverse sources, including satellite, airborne, in-situ platforms, and citizen observatories, when integrated together, provide powerful tools for understanding the past and present conditions of Earth systems, as well as the interplay between them”. The GEOSS Platform formerly called the GEOSS Common Infrastructure (GCI) has been created to provide the technological tool to implement the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). The birth of the former GCI has been in 2008, as Clearinghouse catalogue, in 2012 the GCI evolved into a Brokering infrastructure with the inclusion of the GEO Discovery and Access Broker (GEO DAB). The first user interface, the GEOSS Portal was initially created in 2010 and in 2016 has seen great enhancements in terms of user experience and enhanced discovery, access and visualization functionalities. In 2017 the formerly called GCI has evolved into a GEOSS Platform." 

The rather noble sounding reasoning for GEOSS is that it helps manage world resources in times of disaster, shortening response time and recovery time. This system also has the capability of allowing centralized control over the means of production, of movement/travel and of food and energy. China has made much use of this system in monitoring it's citizens as part of the "social credit" system, which some Leftist politicians here in the U.S. have praised. Many of those now interred in the various concentration camps in China made their way to those so-called "re-education camps" through the use of this technology. It isn't a stretch of the imagination to suggest that other governments are using this system to spy on citizens, and could use it to intern perceived political dissidents in such camps, as that tends to be what governments with this sort of power do. Such a system is ripe for abuse, and the Anti-Christ will make the Chinese Communists look like amateurs. So, the question was "Are you being watched?" The answer is, yes. Christians and Jews in particular need to be aware of such technology, as it rests in the hands of those who have made very public pronouncements of their disdain for both groups. The Anti-Christ and his government will have great power and authority. (Revelation 13:2; 13:7) As scripture also makes clear, he will persecute the faithful tremendously. Awareness, then, is of utmost importance.

The following video is a promotional/informational one praising the positives of the system, while completely ignoring the potential dangers. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Is Speaking in Tongues Necessary for Salvation?

I recall many years ago, while attending a charismatic oriented church, the pastor had whipped up the congregation into a frenzy of "speaking in tongues" as they gathered in front of the podium. I was the only person not engaged in the loud and demonstrative behavior, but was quietly praying at my seat in the front row. The pastor pointed to me and said, "You need the anointing if you're really saved, my friend! It is the sign of your salvation!" He then ordered a deacon to work with me to "receive the gift of tongues". I was an impressionable teenager, didn't really know any better, and try as I might to ask for this proof of my commitment to Christ, I never spoke in tongues even once. Sure, I could have faked it (as I'm sure most there were), but I wanted my faith to be real. Having failed at this, I concluded that I must not really be saved, and I left the faith completely, only returning after a good number of years wandering through the world's religions and philosophies.

Many Pentecostals, especially those of the Oneness variety, believe that speaking in tongues is necessary for salvation. According to their theology, it can occur immediately at the point of professing Christ as your savior, or it can happen sometime after baptism. No matter when it occurs, one is considered "unsaved" until he/she speaks in tongues. While there is no evidence that speaking in tongues is evidence of salvation, they nonetheless point to the various scriptures wherein believers do so to support their position. Are they correct in any way?

While the Holy Spirit does indeed indwell believers, and is thus present in our lives, the Scriptures actually refute the claims of these charismatics. Paul writes that all believers are baptized by the Holy Spirit, but not all believers speak in tongues. (1 Corinthians 14:22) Paul goes on to write that the gift of speaking in tongues (a literal language, by the way, which the person with the gift had never studied) is not a sign to believers, but to unbelievers. (1 Corinthians 14:22) Why? Precisely because it is a language we have no knowledge of whatsoever, but that God enables us to speak for the purpose of evangelism. Beyond this, Acts records circumstances in which people received Christ as their savior, but never once spoke in tongues. (Acts 2:37-41; 6:3-6) While the gift of tongues may, and I stress may, accompany salvation, it in no sense signifies salvation. Any suggestion to the contrary is false teaching and needs to be addressed as such. What we often see in such charismatic churches is, I fear, more demonic than divine. Many of the manifestations are the same seen in people suffering demonic possession. The Church Father Origen, in addressing the issue of pagan prophetesses experiencing the same sorts of manifestations of many charismatics, wrote:

"It is not the part of a divine spirit to drive the prophetess into such a state of ecstasy and madness that she loses control of herself. For he who is under the influence of the Divine Spirit would be the first to receive the beneficial effects...Moreover, when a person is in close contact with the Deity, it should be a time of clearest perception."

The Apostolic Constitutions echo Sacred Scripture:

"It is not necessary that everyone of the faithful should cast out demons, raise the dead, or speak with tongues."

In fact, the early Christians viewed the following as far more important gifts.

"Divine the first of the so called charismata of God. The second after what is called knowledge. And the third is faith..."- Origen

Indeed, the wisdom of God, found in the knowledge of His word, sought out in faith is the only charismata a true Christian needs or desires.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Bob Larson: Exorcist or Opportunist?

Some of my readers know that I am familiar with Bob Larson to a degree that perhaps most of his critics are not. I became acquainted with Larson in the late 1980s via his then radio program Talk Back with Bob Larson, broadcast nationwide and internationally. I not only guest hosted his program, but appeared in a video project he produced, spoke at his Save Our Kids From Satanism seminar, and worked periodically behind the scenes in the ministry offices. I got to know a few of the people there pretty well, foremost among them being Margo Hamilton, then Director of Listener Services, who was indeed a sincere and caring Christian. The program was well known for dealing with subjects most Christian broadcasts avoided, including cults, the occult, Black Metal music, Satanism, and Skinheads. Larson was branded by some the shock jock of Christian talk, and not undeservedly. He never avoided the most bizarre of callers, engaging them in lengthy discussions on everything from sacrificing animals to how much they hated him and wanted him dead (always through a curse or some occult method). Just as infamous as his content, Larson's fund raising never failed to raise eyebrows, except among the most trusting of Christian men and women who sincerely felt their financial support was saving the lives of those who came to Christ and needed to escape whatever horrible situation they found themselves in as a result of their occult activity or the like. Critics charged him with preying on people's sense of moral responsibility, while actually doing little substantive to help. Others flat out charged him with being a fraud, literally lying about his faith and any claims to helping those who came to him. Eventually the word got out that Larson was raking in the cash to support an extravagant personal lifestyle, and while divorcing his wife of many years in favor of his then secretary, his ministry imploded and the radio program vanished from the air. There is much more to the tale, but interested readers can look that up on their own. Suffice it to say there is much in Larson's career to make one wary.

Fast forward to our current year: Recently Larson appeared on an episode of Expedition Unknown, hosted by Josh Gates, because Larson has been engaged in a somewhat new "ministry"- that of exorcism. Renting hotel space to hold what can only be called a traveling demon show, dressing up in prietsly clericals (No, he's not a priest and was ordained via mail order), hawking his wares in the form of books, videos, and his online courses through the self-styled "School of Exorcism", where you- yes you- can become a certified exorcist...for a pretty hefty fee. These hotel room circuses have nothing in common with legitimate exorcism ministry. Here's just a sample:

How can I be so certain this isn't real exorcism? Briefly, shortly after my ordination I was appointed the exorcist for our eparchy, and was mentored by a Roman Catholic Franciscan priest/exorcist. During that mentorship I was introduced to the theology and methodology of Christian exorcism. Years later I wrote a book on the topic for the general public in an effort to educate others so they wouldn't fall prey to hucksters and con-men. That said, a few of the most simple "rules" of exorcism ministry are:

1. You don't publicize people's names who need exorcism.
2. You never use them in television programs or video projects for personal promotion.
3. You absolutely NEVER charge for exorcism intervention.

As you might have guessed, Larson does all of the above. His YouTube channel says the following under the video titled "Schedule a private encounter with Bob Larson, the Real Exorcist":

"In just one hour you can the life you’ve always wanted. Bob Larson will help you overcome the obstacles holding back your spiritual destiny. Stop the cycles of failure, poverty and sickness. Break family curses at the root! Discover the cause of destructive habits and addictions. Get rid of demons. Uncover hindering issues. Be healed of infirmities. No pastor, priest, or counselor has dealt with more spiritually bound people and seen them set free. This isn’t counseling. This isn’t therapy. This is intervention to get answers NOW! Your lifetime of suffering will end. Your torment will stop. The job you need, the relationships you desire will finally be within your reach. The choice is simple–stay stuck or move on to spiritual fulfillment and success in every area of life. Get free, stay free, and live free! Need help right where you are? Is your house haunted? Are you unable to travel? Bob makes house calls. If you can’t get to Bob, he will get to you."

Quite a lot to promise considering not even Jesus promised those things after his exorcisms. I guess Bob perfected something Jesus was an amateur at. (Yes, that's sarcasm.) 

Does Larson do this free of charge? As you might have guessed, the answer is no. His website reveals that, for a personal encounter at his Center for Spiritual Freedom, the cost is $495 per hour, any other location will cost you $595, plus gas, hotel, air flight, car rental, etc. 

Don't want to travel to Arizona for your encounter with Larson? No problem! He can do his exorcisms via Skype- for $395 for 50 minutes. 

Still too much to pay? Perhaps you could settle for Larson's phone exorcism, for a meager $250 for 50 minutes.

Getting the picture yet?

Larson isn't a "real exorcist", and his tactics have led to some doubting he's even a real Christian. My opinion? I've thought hard about this over the years, and part of me, despite knowing all of Larson's indiscretions and bad theology and methodology, wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt with regard to faith.After all, judging a man's heart is not something I can do. Then again, knowing Larson as I do, I know him to be intelligent, calculating, and shrewd. He's not naive in any sense. I have to judge Larson on what we know and what we see. This leads me to suspect that he's not a sincere believer at all, but simply found an easy way to support himself in the lifestyle he has been accustomed to. I invite you to watch the following video and decide for yourself. Is Larson an exorcist, or an opportunist?

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Biofeedback: A Brief Examination

Biofeedback is an alternative therapy whereby electronic monitoring of a normally automatic bodily function is used to train someone to acquire voluntary control of that function. Functions like heart rate, skin temperature, breathing, etc. are controlled by your nervous system. Changes in these functions occur when your environment changes; when you're stressed, excited, happy, sad, depressed, etc. Biofeedback is designed to help manage those emotional responses, as well as the normally automatic responses of our biology. People using it have claimed healing from migraines, high blood pressure, chronic pain, anxiety attacks, and other ailments. According to Web MD, researchers aren't really sure of the exact reasons biofeedback seems to work for some users, and avoid making claims of healing on its behalf, but do say that it promotes relaxation, which does relieve symptoms of stress. The questions arises whether Christians can use biofeedback.

There are, not surprisingly, varying opinions on the issue. Focus on the Family, in their brief response to the query, write, "We see no reason to regard biofeedback as "evil" or "dangerous" in and of itself." They note that, while many Christians do tend to regard anything "holistic" as New Age, and therefore suspect, that in this case such a response has little to support it.They quote author Doug Groothius:

"Not all practices somehow associated with holistic health should be shunned. Biofeedback, for example, may simply be used to gain voluntary control of some bodily function. But when it is used as a tool to raise one's consciousness to the divine level, it should be rejected."1

My personal position is in agreement with that of Focus on the Family with a bit of a caveat. I would echo Groothius' caution. Some holistic health practitioners use biofeedback as a doorway to introduce their clients to other troublesome practices that carry with them occult/pagan practices and beliefs. Such alternative therapies as Reiki lead to some very biblically antithetical beliefs. Alternative health practitioners who speak of "energy" define it in terms of Chi, Prana, Chakras, etc. All of these are key concepts of non-Christian and, frankly, occult practices. If a Christian is to be involved in any sort of energetic healing or therapy, it must be a natural explainable energy that medicine and science recognize. All too often they speak of "psychic energy", "universal life force", and other terms, which are not in any sense measurable scientific energies, but purely occult concepts. I'm not objecting to invisible energies, since electricity is technically invisible as are radio waves. The difference is, these energies are indeed tangible as they exist as part of the time-space-matter continuum, operate according to known natural laws, and can be measured and demonstrated. Not so with the occult energies of some holistic health practitioners, though they argue that all energy is divine and from the same source. As Elliot Miller writes:

"If devilish (not to mention divine) supernatural energy is operative in the world (and Scriptures like 2 Thess. 2:7-9 compel us to affirm that it is), then it is not true that all energetic phenomena have a scientific explanation and are among those parts of God’s creation that we are to “take dominion” over. We therefore cannot afford to assume that all phenomena are spiritually safe for us to explore — even if certain good effects are associated with them (2 Cor. 11:14)." 2

2. Article: The Christian Energetic Medicine/New Age Paranoia

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Earth Charter and Pope Francis

The Earth Charter, a very radical New Age/Globalist declaration, given much impetus by the equally Globalist and New Age organization Club of Rome, has found some common ground with the heretical and Cultural Marxist Pope Francis due to his papal encyclical "Laudato Si". That should come as no surprise to those paying attention to the rhetoric and activities of Pope Francis, who fits in quite well with the Club of Rome and it's cadre of supporters in the United Nations.

The Earth Charter lays out it's basic premise thus:

"We stand at a critical moment in earth's history, a time when humanity must choose it's future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace."

Notice the all to familiar themes of both the New Age Movement and Cultural Marxism. While noting the diversity of cultures, the Earth Charter advocates for a mono-culture in a global government, and with a socialist worldview (economic justice). Added to this is the near pantheistic view of nature as taking center stage in such a global government. In Laudato Si, Pope Francis refers to the Earth Charter, writing:

"The Earth Charter asked us to leave behind a period of self destruction and make a new start, but we have not as yet developed a universal awareness needed to achieve this. I would echo that challenge: "As never before in human history, common destiny beckons us to seek a new beginning.."

This "new beginning" of a global socialist state should sound familiar to students of Sacred Scripture, in particular of prophecy. The Book of Revelation reveals that the Anti-Christ will control an end time government of global proportions, reigning over "all kindreds, and tongues, and nations." (Rev. 13:7) Pope Francis is not an innocent stooge falling into line with the Globalist agenda,, he has given every indication that he is fully sold on it and determined to be an active participant in ushering in the reign of the Anti-Christ.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Self Realization IV: Purpose and Meaning

Humanity has been searching for purpose and meaning at least since recorded history, and likely before. This is no less true today than it was for those living in centuries past. Unfortunately, culture has moved so far away from the principles of spiritual life that few are finding fulfillment in the many things we use to replace those principles. In 2016, statistics show that 45,000 Americans aged 10 and older died by suicide. 

Ann Schuchat, MD, CDC Deputy Director, said, "Suicide is a leading cause of death for Americans- and it's a tragedy for families and communities across the country."1 We can also point to the rising tide of opioid abuse sweeping the nation as an indicator that something is very wrong in our culture. People are desperately looking for meaning and purpose, and increasingly realizing that they cannot find it in the materialism of Western culture. Money, fame, career- none of these is providing a foundation, a sense of meaning and purpose. And that is no surprise, as we are created to seek the eternal, not the temporal. Sacred Scripture tells us:

"Whoever loves money, never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless."                                                                                                          - Ecclesiastes 5:10

The desire for wealth seems to overwhelm many, and so they invest in the stock market, in things like Bit Coin and Gold. They work endless hours trying to keep up with the Joneses, as it were, or surpass them if at all possible. And yet money and fame bring no meaning or fulfillment. The fairly recent suicide of Anthony Bourdain is instructive of the ultimate emptiness of fame and fortune. Seemingly, Bourdain had it all- money, fame, a successful career, a beautiful girlfriend- and yet he took his own life in a moment of what could only have been utter despair. If only someone could have shared the Gospel with him, maybe- just maybe- this could have been averted. As it is, he had not found his true purpose in life, and many more are in the same situation.

Indeed, Sacred Scripture rings true:

"For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."- 1 Timothy 6:10

This mistaken attachment or search for meaning in materialism has certainly been the cause of much grief.

We all experience that constant inner yearning for an elusive something, that no matter how much money we make, no matter how famous we are, no matter how wonderful our career, just never seems to be satisfied. This is because we are created to be eternal beings, and as such we can never be satisfied with temporal things. The eternal soul is only satisfied with the eternal. The ultimate Source of purpose and meaning can only be found in the same Source that created us and fashioned us with the intention of eternity. 

"For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him."                                                                                           - Colossians 1:10

Purpose and meaning can only be found in God, not in the fleeting things of this world.

"Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."- Proverbs 19:21

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."                                                                                                          - Romans 8:28

"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."- Ephesians 2:10

Our purpose and meaning will be realized when we surrender to God in loving devotion, and serve His Kingdom by doing the things He prepared in advance for us to do; things that will bring us joy, fulfillment and peace.

Monday, October 15, 2018

A Real Life Hunger Games?

Entertainment, like art and music, reflect the culture from which they spring. There is no getting around the fact that television has become a cesspool of Leftist propaganda, immorality, and downright depravity. Of course, this hasn’t just hit our screens. These culturally destructive attitudes, ideas and behaviors have been increasingly introduced over the years, such that now it is no longer shocking to see sex scenes between couples (including homosexual and lesbian couples), extremely graphic violence, and the glorification of non-Christian values. Well, we’re in a whole new realm of depravity now. Last April I became aware of a Russian television show set to begin that had critics referring to it as a real life Hunger Games.
Game 2: Winter, is set on a remote Russian island where temperatures will drop as low as -58 F during filming which lasts nine months. Fifteen men and women will compete in a struggle for survival with only a knife, one pair of warm clothes, and whatever survival gear they choose. The most frightening thing about this “game”? There are no rules against violence, rape, murder or anything else they may choose to do. While the producers warn that the police may choose to prosecute, the fact that they’ve left the door open for such criminal and immoral activity is a sad indictment indeed. 
With 1.7 million dollars up for grabs, as well as personal survival in the most harsh conditions, disaster may be inevitable. How did we get to this point, that such potential brutality has become a source of entertainment?
Television reality shows are literally filled with examples of people mistreating each other for our entertainment. For example, Real Housewives of L.A. features several women, each as hateful as can be to each other, their interaction sometimes erupting into violence. We could also take the case of Janelle Evans, a star of the reality show Teen Mom 2, who was arrested for beating her friend Brittany Truett on video over a boyfriend. Truett, attributing Evans’ behavior to her appearance on the reality show said, “Since she got on that show, she has a big head. She’s been angry at the world.” Other notable violent acts in reality TV programs are: Jersey Shore– The petite female cast member Snooki was punched in the face by a man, and on The Real World Seattle– Stephen slapped female cast member Irene in the face without provocation. And, as most know, many of these programs contain gratuitous sexual acts, almost as if they were written in to the show to keep viewers watching, and they may have been.
It isn’t just reality television that bombards us with such images. Other television programs do so as well. Some of the most violent have been:
• Stalker– A woman is burned alive in the first five minutes of the pilot, and it gets more violent from there.
• Hannibal-Replete with disgusting images of gore and cannibalism.
• American Horror Story– Featuring Twisty the Clown, a gory character who treats us to murder scenes and even a beheading.
• Game of Thrones– Every sort of depravity imagined, from rape to incest to violence.
• The Following– Serial killers, kidnapping and torture, drinking victims’ blood. One critic called it, “one of the most violent…series ever made by a commercial broadcast network.”

I could also step on some toes and point out that such sporting events as Bellator and the U.F.C. are little more than modern versions of the gladiatorial games of the Roman empire. You might recall we Christians were often forced into those arenas for the entertainment of the prevailing pagan culture. I can already hear some of my readers attempting to reason that these sporting events are different. "I mean, they’re just sports, right?" I’m sure the Romans who enjoyed the games had similar justifications for their love of such entertainment. I mean, Christians were criminals after all, right?
“The gladiator games are prepared so that blood may gladden the lust of cruel eyes…”- Cyprian
“Yet they call these “sports”, in which human blood is shed!”- Lactantius
Indeed, these Church Fathers provide commentary from their time that could easily apply to many of today’s reality television shows glorifying violence, as well as the many other sinful actions. In our depravity we watch these programs and sporting events to fulfill the lust of cruel eyes, and perverted hearts and minds. We think ourselves civilized, we pay to see these acts of violence and/or tune in every week to see who is cheating on who, and then we go to church like nothing happened. Are we really living the Gospel if we indulge in such "entertainments"? I rather think that in this age of Cultural Marxist dominance we are far more barbaric than we might wish to think- even we Christians. “Over-civilization and Barbarism are within an inch of each other. "- G.K. Chesterton
In the wake of such “entertainment”, can we really be surprised at the dramatic rise in violence, sexual promiscuity, unwanted pregnancy, abortion rights activism, politically charged violence, and disrespect for basic human dignity we see today? People are fed a steady diet of entertainments that not only destroy any sense of right and wrong and truth and falsehood, but also of proper conduct and respect for others and themselves. My suggestion is to block such programs and other forms of entertainment from your home entirely. Teach your children what it is to live by Christ’s rules of human conduct.
A teacher of the Law asked Jesus:
“Teacher, what is the greatest commandment of the Law?” And He said to Him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
-Matthew 22:35-40

What does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself? Does that mean I can beat my neighbor for stealing my significant other away, or say cruel and hurtful things to someone I feel has wronged me; or get into a caged octagon and choke him out for cash?
No, loving our neighbor as ourselves means we seek their highest good, just as Christ sought our highest good. Nobody’s highest good is found in cruelty, physical violence, or placing them on a deserted island with no rules, no morality other than a cold survival at all stakes.
This Russian reality program has helped reveal the depravity of humanity. When money means more than even safety, mutual human dignity, respect, and decency the problem runs deeper than the television show. It is a heart problem, and only Christ can adequately address it.