Signs of the Times

Few Christians Have Biblical Worldview

Pollster George Barna just released another startling survey: among America’s professing “born-again” Christians, only 19% possess a Biblical worldview. Some 80% of professing Christians do not possess a Biblical worldview. Barna’s criteria for determining a person’s Biblical worldview were the following: believing that absolute moral truth exists; believing that the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; believing that Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; believing that a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; believing that God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today.

  • Is it any wonder, then, that the overall Church is in such a dysfunctional mess and cannot properly present the Gospel to a lost and dying world?

Economy

The number of workers filing new claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly rose to its highest level in over 26 years last week and so-called continued claims jumped to a record high in March, according to data that underscored the labor market deterioration. The number of people staying on the benefits roll after collecting an initial week of aid surged 161,000 to 5.73 million in the week ended March 21.

Automakers sold new vehicles at an annual rate of 9.86 million in March, Autodata reported Wednesday, much worse than a year ago, but up from February’s 9.12 million annual pace. The sales collapse began last year. It’s been so deep and fast that GM and Chrysler had to get $17.4 billion in government loans to keep operating. Even so, the companies still might be forced into bankruptcy court, they say.

As the economy continues to struggle, federal stimulus money has started arriving in the nation’s cities and towns. Most early money is being spent on construction, especially for roads, bridges and airports. Hiring has begun and will accelerate during the summer construction season. Education, health care and tax cuts will get the most stimulus money over the next two years. Little of that money, however, has landed in the six weeks since President Obama signed the stimulus package. By contrast, construction money is flowing quickly to cities and states, jump-starting projects that were sitting on the shelf waiting for cash. The $787 billion stimulus law includes $144 billion for construction projects.

Pending home sales rose in February from a record low a month earlier as buyers took advantage of deeply discounted prices and low interest rates, but construction spending fell for a fifth straight month in February as another big drop in home building offset a slight rebound in non-residential construction. Total construction has been falling since October. The level of activity is at the slowest pace in nearly five years.

The battered stock market in March posted its best monthly gain since October 2002, but it wasn’t enough to help stocks avoid a sixth-consecutive quarter of losses, matching a record set more than 30 years ago. Still, the ability of stocks to rally sharply off the March 9 bear market low raised hopes that investors are correctly forecasting that economic conditions have hit bottom and will stabilize in coming months.

Napolitano Outlines Plan for Border Infrastructure

The Obama administration plans to spend more than $400 million to upgrade ports of entry and surveillance technologies to help thwart drugs and arms smuggling along the U.S-Mexico border. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Wednesday that the projects will help keep violence from spilling across the border. The spending outlined by Napolitano is part of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package approved by Congress. Included in the border spending is $269 million to upgrade ports of entry, including San Diego’s Otay Mesa — a busy crossing for trucks — Antelope Wells, N.M., and Nogales, Ariz. The plan calls for $42 million for high-tech inspection equipment and $50 million for a high-tech surveillance systems along Arizona’s border with Mexico.

The U.S. will expand its use of security cameras on the Canadian border to see whether it can set up an extensive monitoring system similar to what protects the Mexican boundary, the Homeland Security Department announced Tuesday. The department this summer will position 44 cameras in Detroit along Lake St. Clair, which separates the city from Canada, and 20 cameras in Buffalo along the Niagara River. There are now about 20 cameras along the entire 4,000-mile border between Canada and the continental U.S. The $20 million program marks the department’s first major effort to see whether the northern border, which has large swaths of woods, hills and lakes, can benefit from the same type of systems employed along the Mexican border.

Drowsy Drivers are Serious Threat

Drowsy driving is one of the most vexing problems involving traffic safety. It is a factor in more than 100,000 crashes, resulting in 1,550 deaths and 40,000 injuries annually, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “That’s probably a conservative estimate,” says Jeff Michael, the NHTSA’s associate administrator for research and program development. Darrel Drobnich, chief program officer of the National Sleep Foundation, puts the numbers much higher: 71,000 injuries and more than 5,500 deaths a year. An obstacle for police is that there is no test for drowsy driving like the Breathalyzer an officer can give a motorist suspected of drunken driving.

  • Besides bona-fide sleep disorders, this problem is mostly due to an overly frenetic society that marches to the beat of the devil’s distractions rather than God’s peace

President Obama makes Overtures to Russia, China

President Obama pushed the “reset” button on U.S. diplomatic relations with some of the nation’s most powerful partners Wednesday. He agreed to visit Russia and China this year and heralded “a kinship of ideals” with Great Britain before Thursday’s make-or-break economic summit. He turned what could have been casual meet-and-greets into substantive talks on key national priorities. Topping that list was an agreement with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to work toward a new strategic arms treaty that would replace one that expires at the end of the year.

Thousands of G-20 Protestors Storm London

G-20 protesters in downtown London have smashed windows and entered the Royal Bank of Scotland building. They have also tried to storm the Bank of England. At least 4,000 protesters have jammed into London’s financial district for demonstrations Wednesday. Protesters broke windows and scrawled the word “thieves” on the side of the Royal Bank of Scotland building. Protesters were also pelting riot police with eggs and fruit and confronting them at barricades. Forty people have been arrested in the G-20 demonstrations so far. One man in the crowd of demonstrators collapsed and later died at a hospital.

Netanyahu Takes Top Office in Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu officially assumed the reins of power in Israel on Wednesday, vowing to tackle the country’s most pressing security issues but giving few details on how he plans to do so. Netanyahu, joined by his 30-member Cabinet, told a ceremony that there was no time to waste at a time when the economy is in crisis and Israel faces threats like never before. Addressing parliament on Tuesday, Netanyahu promised to see “full peace” with the Arab and Muslim world, but he failed to explicitly endorse the idea of an independent Palestinian state — a key goal of the U.S. Instead, he promised the Palestinians would have “authority to rule themselves,” appearing to go back to a decades-old notion that peace could be achieved through limited Palestinian authority.

Israel’s new foreign minister says Israel is not bound by a commitment it made at a U.S.-sponsored conference to pursue the creation of a Palestinian state, Reuters reports from Jerusalem. Ultranationalist Avigdor Lieberman offered these views in his first speech as foreign minister in the government of new Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A delegation from the State Department promised the Palestinians the Obama administration will strongly oppose any new Jewish construction in the strategic, biblical West Bank, a top Palestinian Authority official told WorldNetDaily. The U.S. delegation last week told the PA in a meeting it views Israel’s presence in the West Bank as an obstacle to peace and that Obama was ready for a possible confrontation with incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the issue of any new construction in the territory.

  • The key issue is Israel’s Biblical basis for claiming the land that God ordained for them. Of course, Satan’s New World Order wants to do everything it can to undermine the Bible and eliminate Israel entirely.

Afghan-Pakistan Situation Dire

The situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan is “increasingly dire,” top defense officials told Congress Wednesday, and they said that President Barack Obama may have to send another 10,000 troops beyond the 21,500 he’s announced since taking office. Adding to the bleak picture, Army Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of the U.S. Central Command, expressed doubts about the reliability of Pakistani security forces in supporting the U.S. effort to curb the spread of Islamic extremism in South Asia. Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee said they doubted that Pakistan can be trusted to thwart Taliban and al Qaida activity in the border region with Afghanistan. The Obama administration plans to seek as much as $3 billion over the next five years to train and equip Pakistan’s military.

U.S. Finally Names Religious Freedom Violators

Associated Press reports that the Bush administration’s final list of severe violators of religious freedom has finally been made public, but makes virtually no changes recommended by an independent panel. The list, signed by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on the Bush administration’s last working day, re-designated Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea and Sudan as “countries of particular concern.” The document, however, waived potential sanctions for Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) received the list last week, but found that their recommended additions of Iraq, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam were ignored. The document also waived sanctions on Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia. The list had not

Weather

The Southeast drought that caused lake levels to drop and forced homeowners to stop watering their lawns for two years has ended, state and federal experts said Tuesday. Three major storms in the past month dumped more than 5 inches of rain over parts of Georgia and more than 10 inches in much of Alabama. The drought persists in South Florida. Residents of the rain-soaked Southeast braced for more storms even as they tried to dry out from a weekend deluge that flooded hundreds of homes, washed out roads and forced evacuations.

Flood waters have fallen below most of the sandbag levees protecting Fargo, North Dakota, feeding optimism that the city has tamed the Red River, at least for now. By early Wednesday, the river had fallen to 37.37 feet — still far above flood stage but below the top of the city’s permanent floodwalls, which are topped with another 5 feet of sandbags. City officials said businesses would be allowed to reopen Wednesday morning. Officials insist the city isn’t safe just yet. Forecasters say the river could begin rising again in coming days, when more snow begins to melt. But even future crests aren’t expected to approach the levels feared over the weekend.

A series of winter storms in Arizona built up snowdrifts – and hopes – in December and January, but an abrupt onset of drier conditions diminished chances of ending the drought, which has persisted for more than a dozen years. March ended as one of the driest on record across the river basins that supply water for Valley cities.

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