Signs of the Times (1/13/14)

Megachurch Gives $1 Million for Bible Translation Projects

An Indiana mega-church is giving away its biggest Christmas Offering ever – more than $1 million – to help fund Bible translation projects in Asia. Each year, College Park Church in Indianapolis holds a special collection the Sunday before Christmas to support a specific missions project in one of the neediest parts of the world. The most recent Christmas Offering, collected Dec. 22, is being donated to the world’s largest scripture translation organization, Wycliffe Bible Translators USA. The funds will be used to support Wycliffe’s work in Asia, where there is a “tremendous need” for Bible translation, according to a press release. The money will fund a New Testament translation from start to finish, the training of native-language translators, the printing of scriptures and a wide variety of other projects.

  • And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:14)

Supreme Court Declines to Hear Important AZ Abortion Decision

President Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy writes, “I am greatly troubled that the United States Supreme Court has declined to hear arguments in the case of Isaacson v. Horne, and in doing so has let a dangerous decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals stand.” Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit decision against an Arizona law restricting non-emergency abortions after 20 weeks. The law was designed to protect children in the womb who experience pain during a late-term abortion and to protect mothers from the dangers and psychological consequences of late-term abortions. Herrod adds, “The facts are clear: Abortion after 20 weeks of a pregnancy puts women’s lives at risk, and preborn children at this age can feel pain. This is why the Arizona Legislature and Governor Brewer enacted the Mother’s Health and Safety Act. It is also why ten states have laws in effect today that prohibit most abortions after 20 weeks. These laws have not been challenged by the abortion industry, yet the nation’s highest court has allowed an activist court decision to remain the law in our state.”

  • What the Supreme Court declines to hear is often as or even more important than the cases they decide to take on. Lately they’ve been avoiding getting involved in the contentious abortion debate.

Congress Strengthens Religious Freedom for Military

The Senate passed a defense bill with strong bipartisan support last week that includes important language to strengthen and protect the religious freedom of military members and chaplains. “I commend the overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress for protecting the right of service members to freely practice and express their faith,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a statement. “Congress acted appropriately after investigating numerous incidents involving service members who have had their careers threatened and harassed simply for practicing their faith in a real and tangible way.”

FEMA Buying Up Survival Food

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently ordered 420 million survival meals. Why? FEMA is scared that people will hoard survival food because it is the #1 most critical item in a crisis. FEMA knows that if you control the food supply, then you control the people. And it explains why emergency food is flying off the shelves and is sold out at many suppliers. One supplier reported that FEMA attempted to buy up their entire inventory (they refused to sell to FEMA). Why would the government do this? What do they know that we don’t? InfoWars.com notes that “the federal government is accelerating its preparations for social disorder or an environmental calamity.”

  • The globalist New World Order folks will manufacture calamities disrupting the economic system in order to gain more control under the guise of martial law (the imposition of military power over designated regions on an emergency basis).

Gun Reform Wars to Heat Up in 2014

Both sides of the gun law debate have geared up to wage war across the country in 2014 using millions of dollars, midterm elections, opposing messaging strategies and dueling grass-roots campaigns. This year, groups will focus on pouring money into candidates that support their ideals and changing or upholding laws in hot spots such as Colorado, Washington and Illinois. On one side, gun rights activists plan to challenge laws in states like New Jersey and California that they believe overly restrict law-abiding firearms owners. Advocates of tougher laws say they plan to build stronger state infrastructures and work on issues such as prohibiting domestic violence offenders from having weapons.

The NRA will focus much of its $200 million to $250 million annual budget on educating its members about candidates and on making sure that laws don’t infringe on Constitutional rights. Billionaire and former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, lads a group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, that is prepared to spend much of his personal wealth on strengthening gun laws. In December, Bloomberg’s group, which claims 1.5 million supporters and about 1,000 mayors, announced plans to merge with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a year-old grass-roots campaign launched the day after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

  • In a world of good and evil, there is no perfect solution to the issue of guns – that is, until Jesus returns to rule and reign and rid the world of all evil eliminating the need for guns entirely.

U.S. Names Militants Involved in Benghazi Attack

The Obama administration for the first time on Friday identified two militant groups in Libya, including one led by a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, as being allegedly involved in the attack in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The department designated the two branches of the Ansar al-Sharia in Libya, those in the cities of Derna and Benghazi, and a third branch in Tunisia as foreign terrorist organizations. It also named Sufian bin Qumu, the leader of the Derna branch, and Ahmed Abu Khattala, a senior leader of the Benghazi branch, as specially designated global terrorists. U.S. officials have said that Khattala and an unspecified number of others have been named in a sealed complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Washington. The Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi is still a political issue in Washington. Republicans in Congress criticized the Obama administration’s handling of the attack and the level of security at the diplomatic outpost. Some have accused the Obama administration of an illegal cover-up.

Shelves Empty, Businesses Shutdown after West Virginia Chemical Spill

As hundreds of thousands of people in West Virginia enter a third full day without clean tap water following a chemical spill, frustrations are beginning to mount. Most visitors have cleared out of Charleston while locals are either staying home or driving out of the area to find somewhere they can get a hot meal or a shower. Meanwhile, business owners with empty dining rooms and quiet aisles of merchandise around West Virginia’s capital were left to wonder how much of an economic hit they’ll take from the chemical spill. The chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol leaked out of a 40,000-gallon tank at a Freedom Industries facility along the Elk River Thursday. It could take days for clean tap water to flow again.

More Troubles with Obamacare

CNN reports that many people who signed up for coverage through the state and federal exchanges are running into roadblocks now that they are trying to use their new benefits. And though exchange officials and insurers have urged consumers to call their insurers if they encounter problems, many say they either wait endlessly on hold or get the runaround. Coverage for the first wave of Obamacare applicants took effect Jan. 1. Some people just gave up trying to get through. Kyle Watts of Louisville, Ohio, has been trying to reach Anthem Blue Cross for a month. He and his wife were excited to sign up on healthcare.gov in early December because they were eligible for subsidies that would save them $6,000 in premiums annually. Aware the policy wouldn’t be active until they paid their first premium, they called Anthem to find out where to send the check. But they grew concerned after the check was not cashed, so they went onto the Anthem website and paid with a credit card last month. Though they got a payment confirmation email and were told they’d get an enrollment confirmation letter, they never received anything further from the company and remain without an ID number.

Flu Season Ramping Up

Flu season is ramping up in the United States, with the illness now widespread in at least 35 states, up from 25 in the previous week, according to a report released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The season hasn’t peaked yet, so it’s too soon to know if it will be worse than normal. The numbers aren’t as high so far as last year, when flu season started early. The number of people seeking medical care for the flu climbed to more than 4 percent of all doctor visits last week, a near doubling from two weeks earlier.

More Retailers Hit by Cyber Attacks

At least three other well-known retailers in addition to Target and Neiman Marcus were apparently hit by cyber-attacks over the holiday shopping season that have not been publicly disclosed. Reuters reported late Saturday that breaches may have also occurred at some retailers earlier in 2013. The method of the attacks was similar to the one against Target, in which the personal information of at least 70 million customers were stolen. Reuters reported that authorities suspect the ringleaders behind the hacks are based in Eastern Europe. The hackers used a variety of tools and techniques to capture the encrypted data, including a malware device called a RAM scraper, which captures encrypted data as it passes through a computer’s live memory.

New Mortgage Rules in Effect Friday

New mortgage lending rules are going into effect Friday that aim to put an end to the worst mortgage lending abuses of the past. The new rules are designed to take a “back to basics” approach to mortgage lending and lower the risk of defaults and foreclosures among borrowers. Mortgage lenders are being asked to comply with two new requirements: The Ability to Repay rule and Qualified Mortgages. Lenders must determine that a borrower has the income and assets to afford to make payments throughout the life of the loan. In an effort to put an end to no- or low-doc loans, where lenders issue risky mortgages without the necessary financial information, lenders will be required to document and verify an applicant’s income, assets, credit history and debt.

Economic News

Low wages has become the raging issue of the day, sparking protests and discussions nationwide. But dig a little deeper, and workers say another problem is gnawing at their paychecks: not getting enough hours at work. Many fast food and retail employees say it is hard to make anything above poverty-level wages because they don’t get scheduled to work enough. Advocates say many employers don’t give workers sufficient hours as a way to avoid paying benefits.

China became the world’s largest trading nation in 2013, overtaking the US in what Beijing described as “a landmark milestone” for the country. The shift in the trading pecking order reflected China’s rising global dominance, despite a slowdown in economic growth last year. China had already become the world’s largest exporter of goods in 2009.

Persecution Watch

Open Doors, a nondenominational group tracking persecuted Christians worldwide, reported that 2,123 Christians were killed last year due to their faith, compared to 1,201 in 2012. More than half of those reported killings (1,213) occurred in Syria, followed by Nigeria (612) and Pakistan (88). But North Korea — a country of more than 24 million, with an estimated 300,000 Christians — remained the most dangerous country worldwide for Christians for the 12th consecutive year. An estimated 50,000 to 70,000 Christians live in North Korean concentration camps, prisons and prison-like circumstances under the regime of leader Kim Jong-Un.

Iran

Iran and six world powers have agreed on how to implement a nuclear deal struck in November, with its terms starting from Jan. 20, officials announced Sunday. The announcement, made first by Iranian officials and later confirmed elsewhere, starts a six-month clock for a final deal to be struck over the Islamic Republic’s contested nuclear program. It also signals an easing of the financial sanctions crippling Iran’s economy. About $4.2 billion in seized oil revenue would be released under the deal. European Union negotiator Catherine Ashton praised the deal in a statement, saying “the foundations for a coherent, robust and smooth implementation … have been laid.” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called the deal “a decisive step forward which we can build on.”

  • Any deal is just an illusion perpetrated by Iran to gain financial relief from sanctions and more time to complete their nuclear arsenal

Iraq

Two separate car bomb explosions targeted Sunday morning commuters in Baghdad, killing at least 13 civilians, officials said, amid an ongoing standoff between Iraqi forces and al-Qaeda-linked militants west of the Iraqi capital. The deadliest blast occurred at a bustling bus station in central Baghdad when an explosives-laden car exploded outside the station in the Allawi area, killing at least nine people and wounding 16. Another parked car bomb targeted a gathering of buses and taxis in Baghdad’s northern Hurriyah neighborhood, killing four civilians and wounding 12 others. The attacks come as Iraqi security forces and allied Sunni tribal militias have been battling al-Qaeda-linked militants in Anbar to recapture strategic territory overrun by militants from the local al-Qaeda franchise, known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Fighting between security forces and al-Qaeda-linked militants in Iraq’s Sunni-dominated Anbar province has killed at least 60 people over the past two weeks

When the last U.S. combat troops departed Iraq in December 2011, they left behind a defeated al-Qaeda and an Iraq where traditional rivals Sunni and Shiite Muslims were sharing power in the world’s only Arab democracy. Two years later, al-Qaeda has seized major cities where hundreds of U.S. troops died while fighting alongside their Iraqi brethren. The population once freed by the U.S.-Iraqi alliance has now watched those same jihadist insurgents return to command the streets and impose their will. Iraqis are threatened again by civil war. Many significant gains of the 8-year-long Iraq war in which more than 4,400 Americans died have been lost or are now threatened. The reversal of fortune in Iraq could have a devastating effect on the battle to end militancy and conflict in the Middle East, say analysts and military experts, entangling the West in a new and dangerous front against emboldened jihadists who the U.S. has recently declared were on the run.

  • The lives and money spent liberating Iraqis and gaining a foothold in the Middle East have now been lost by Muslim sympathizer Obama

Syria

Clashes among different rebel factions in northern Syria have killed nearly 500 people and may determine the future of al-Qaeda-linked regiments fighting in the country. The al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and a-Sham (ISIS) has battled an informal alliance of Islamist groups for a week in north Syria. The Islamic Front and Free Syrian Army-aligned brigades accuse ISIS of trying to hijack their rebellion against President Bashar Assad, whose military has battled all the opposition factions for nearly three years. Some analysts say the West may finally decide to send arms to the civil war if al-Qaeda loses the fight in the north.

Pakistan

A Pakistani police officer says a bomb targeting an aide of the country’s prime minister has killed five people in a northern area, but Amir Muqam was unharmed. The bomb exploded Sunday in the Shangla area. Muqam escaped unhurt, but the blast killed two police and his three private guards. Shangla is part of the scenic Swat valley that local Taliban militants captured before an army offensive drove them out in 2009. Swat Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah escaped to neighboring Afghanistan. He was selected to lead the Pakistani Taliban after a suspected U.S. missile strike killed his predecessor in late 2013.

Libya

A Libyan minister was shot dead in the first assassination of a transitional government official since dictator Moammar Gadhafi was ousted from power nearly three years ago. Gunmen driving a car opened fire on Deputy Industry Minister Hassan al-Darouei, killing him instantly while he was visiting his hometown of Sirte. Nearly three years after the start of the popular uprising that ended Gadhafi’s 42-year rule, Libya is still plagued by violence and targeted killings as a myriad of armed groups often do as they please. With plentiful weapons left over from the 2011 war, militias, former rebel fighters and militants often resort to force to impose their demands on the weak central government.

Philippines

A grenade attack wounded at least 24 people on a school campus in the southern Philippines, including government personnel, who were battling a fire, police said Monday. Firefighters, disaster-response personnel and police were trying to control the fire in a bunkhouse of security guards at the state-run Cotabato Foundation College of Science and Technology late Sunday in Arakan town when somebody lobbed a grenade near a firetruck. The attacker escaped, police said. Policeman, government firefighters, students and school guards were among those wounded with shrapnel and flying debris.

Egypt

Protesters in parts of Egypt rallied Friday against the government and a vote on a constitution that would ban religious parties, leading to clashes with security forces or demonstrators’ opponents in at least three cities, Egyptian media reported. The demonstrations are the latest by members or supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group that has regularly protested Egypt’s interim government since Brotherhood- backed President Mohamed Morsy was ousted in a coup in July.

Russia

Russian authorities are investigating six suspicious deaths and at least one car explosion this week about 240 kilometers (150 miles) from the site of next month’s Winter Olympics The bodies of three men and explosive material were found Thursday in a vehicle in Maryinskaya in Stavropol province. A day earlier, a vehicle containing a body exploded in Tambukan, in the same province, as police approached it, and two other bodies were found in other vehicles in Zolskaya Wednesday. The deaths in southern Russia’s Stavropol territory, which borders the province where the Olympics will be held in Sochi, have prompted security forces to conduct an anti-terrorism sweep there, state-run RIA Novosti news agency said. Five terror suspects were detained Saturday in one of Russia’s North Caucasus provinces as the country’s security agencies were scrambling to uproot any potential threat to the Sochi Games.

Earthquakes

A strong earthquake out to sea shook Puerto Rico early Monday, causing minor damage in some places. Some people reported items falling in their home and dozens said they felt buildings sway in the capital of San Juan, about 61 miles from the quake’s epicenter. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.4 and struck just after midnight about 35 miles north of Hatillo. It said the quake occurred 17 miles deep. Earthquakes of similar magnitude have struck near Puerto Rico in recent years, including a 5.4-magnitude one that shook the U.S. territory in March 2011 and another one of the same magnitude that struck on Christmas Eve in 2010.

Weather

Gusty winds knocked down trees throughout northern Georgia and the Carolinas on Saturday as severe storms brought heavy rains, tornado watches and flood warnings. At Raleigh-Durham international Airport in North Carolina, wind gusts reached 85 mph, which was higher than the wind speed recorded at the airport during hurricanes Ivan and Fran, according to the National Weather Service. High winds blew down part of a condo that was under construction, leaving behind a heap of plywood. In Georgia, firefighters successfully rescued a teenager from a mobile home after it was hit by a tree Saturday morning.

The South Pacific nation of Tonga was lashed by a powerful cyclone on Saturday, destroying homes and ripping roofs from churches and other public buildings in the populous northern islands. There were no immediate reports of injuries. A state of emergency was declared for two of Tonga’s three island groups, Vava’u and Ha’apai, on Saturday morning as category-five storm Cyclone Ian brought heavy rain and strong winds. Tonga is an archipelago of 176 islands, 36 of which are inhabited by more than 100,000 people. After passing east of Tongatapu, the most populated island in Tonga, Ian will no longer pose a threat to any other land areas as it gradually weakens.

Scientists who study climate change and human-caused global warming have been forced to admit that global temperatures haven’t risen nearly as much this century as model projections say they should have. But instead, they are saying it’s mostly a ‘pause’ and that global warming is manifesting in ‘different ways.’

  • Regardless of what scientists believe, end-time weather will get more extreme eventually culminating in the 100-pound hailstones of Revelation 16:21 (also see Psalm 149:8)

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