Signs of the Times (3/5/18)

The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deuteronomy 31:8-9)

Majority of Americans Say U.S. is on the ‘Wrong Track’

It’s actually not a surprise that most adults currently believe the United States is not moving in the right direction. Since the 1980s, surveys evaluating such perceptions have typically found that most Americans believed the nation was “moving in the wrong direction” or was “on the wrong track.” Whether the president or the party in power has been Republican or Democrat, a majority of the public has not been satisfied with the way things were going. The latest survey by the American Culture & Faith Institute (ACFI) found that 59% of American adults describe themselves as “angry with the state of America” today. That’s better than people’s state of mind during 2017, when the average monthly reaction to the national condition was two-thirds (67%) admitting to being angry. Not surprisingly, peoples’ ideological leanings affected their assessment of these four elements of U.S. society. For the first time in many years, most conservatives (57%) are confident the nation is on the right track politically. However, less than three out of ten moderates (29%) and liberals (22%) agree.

Interest in Bible New Translations Has ‘Gone Viral’

The year 2018 is set to be an historic year for Bible translation, according to Wycliffe Associates. Bruce Smith, the leader of the Bible translating organization, said that interest in Bible translation has “gone viral” and that the organization is translating the Bible into more languages than ever before. Wycliffe has been able to make even greater progress in Bible translation due to modern Bible translation technology and methods. “This is at a pace – and at a scope around the world – that is really unprecedented in the history of the world,” Smith stated, according to “And so, as that happens, inevitably, the Christians in the surrounding communities – and even countries – get curious about how it happens so quickly, and why it’s happening. And when they find out that the tools and resources for them to steward God’s Word for their own people are now in place, that’s what creates that readiness … and that desire to have Scripture sooner – instead of later.” Wycliffe has already translated the New Testament into 193 languages in the past three years, and this year they have received requests for 600 new translations which they plan to launch soon.

  • And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)

Alabama Government May Stop Issuing Marriage Licenses

When the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, Christians in the business of officiating marriages faced a new challenge. To avoid going against biblical teachings on marriage, some judges in Alabama skirted the conflict by simply closing down their marriage license divisions. To these judges, no marriages at all meant no same-sex marriages. This, in turn, meant preserving the belief in marriage as the sacred union of one man and one woman. After closing down these marriage license divisions, some judges like Allen expected to face lawsuits. But no one sued them. This, as Debbie Elliot explains at NPR, is likely because “Alabama’s marriage law says probate judges may issue marriage licenses, not shall.”

  • Government has no business defining what marriage is or is not – it’s a private, personal, spiritual issue. Let’s leave it up to each person’s free will and let God sort it all out later.

Atheists Raise Unholy Hell About Government Honoring Billy Graham

The Freedom From Religion Foundation and other anti-religious groups are infuriated that Billy Graham lies in honor in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, saying he was unworthy of such recognition. The Wisconsin-based atheist group wrote to Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to “emphatically object to the U.S. Congress arranging to have a man known purely for his ministry (in his case, an evangelical Christian ministry)” lie in honor at the U.S. Capital. “Our membership is also highly concerned at the possibility of taxpayer outlay for the costs of transporting and displaying Graham’s casket in the rotunda,” the notorious atheists wrote. The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a group of atheists, agnostics and free-thinkers who are on a crusade to eradicate Christianity from the public marketplace. They typically bully small towns and school districts with threatening letters and lawsuits.

Trump Administration Announced New Priorities for Sex Education

The Trump administration rolled out its new sex education priorities last week with an emphasis on abstinence and other sexual risk avoidance strategies. The announcement stressed the inclusion of natural family planning methods — also known as fertility awareness — among the broad range of services offered by grantees. Applicants also have to ensure their activities promote “positive family relationships for the purpose of increasing family participation in family planning and health decision-making” and emphasize the social science research on “healthy relationships, to committed, safe, stable, healthy marriages and the benefits of avoiding sexual risk or returning to a sexually risk-free status, especially (but not only) when communicating with adolescents.” For the first time, grantees will also have to ensure staff is annually trained to respond to threats such as child abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence and human trafficking. Similar monitoring and reporting programs will be required. Politico reports the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will offer $260 million in Title X grants to qualified health care providers.          These priorities would appear to leave Planned Parenthood without Title X funding.

More Movies Have Positive Christian Content Now

Movieguide® has become a trusted source for movie reviews and entertainment news that emphasize positive Christian content. At Movieguide’s 26th Annual Faith & Values Awards, they announced that, “we have seen some amazing changes in the movie industry: When we started, only 1% of movies contained positive Christian content. Last year, over 60% of movies contained positive Christian content!”

Targeted Judge Rejects Challenge to Trump’s Border Wall

President Trump on Wednesday hailed a “big victory” in the courts for his proposed border wall, after a federal judge ruled against an environmental challenge to Trump’s central campaign promise. U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel found in favor of the administration Tuesday in a case that asked whether the government could ignore environmental laws to construct the southern border wall. The project had been challenged by environmental groups and the state of California. Curiel’s ruling means the administration can now issue waivers on environmental laws and build sections of the wall. Curiel was the judge whom Trump accused of being biased due to his Mexican-American heritage as he ruled over a case involving Trump University.

Zogby Poll Says Trump’s Approval Ratings Improving

A new nationwide Zogby poll of likely voters showed President Donald Trump’s job approval standing at 48 percent, with his popularity growing among millennials, where he registered an approval of 50 percent, as opposed to voters age 65 and up, where he came in at 44 percent.    Men were more likely to approve of his job at 56 percent than women, where he scored 41 percent, although Trump’s numbers among women were up from the month before. Trump registered highest among white voters at 56 percent, while Hispanic voters gave him 39 percent and African American voters gave him 16 percent. Republicans were more likely to approve of Trump’s job at 87 percent, while his numbers climbed with Independents at 41 percent and Democrats, 20 percent. Trump’s approval rating matches that of former President Barack Obama at the same point in his presidency, Zogby noted.

EU Warns Internet Giants to Remove Extremist Content

Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other internet companies must show the European Union within three months that they are removing extremist content more rapidly or face legislation forcing them to do so. Several governments have increased pressure on social media companies to do more to remove illegal content — from material related to groups such as Islamic state and incitement to commit atrocities — and the sector has increased efforts to demonstrate its progress. But in its strongest call yet to the technology sector the European Commission on Thursday recommended measures that internet platforms should take to stop the proliferation of extremist content, including the removal of such material within an hour of being notified of its existence. European governments have said that extremist content on the web has influenced lone-wolf attackers who have killed people in several European cities after being radicalized. “While several platforms have been removing more illegal content than ever before … we still need to react faster against terrorist propaganda and other illegal content which is a serious threat to our citizens’ security, safety and fundamental rights,” Digital Commissioner Andrus Ansip said in Thursday’s statement.”

California Has Worst Quality of Life in U.S.

Awards season is in full swing in California, and the Golden State just took home a booby prize of its own. Reports the USA Today. California ranks dead last among U.S. states in quality of life, according to a study by U.S. News, ranking behind New Jersey (49th) and Indiana (48th). The ignominious honor reflects California’s low marks in the sub-categories of environmental quality and social engagement. The latter category measures voting participation and community bonds. One way to measure quality life is whether residents can even afford to have a roof over their heads, and by that standard, California is failing. A 2017 Harvard University report said that one-third of renters in the Los Angeles area are “severely rent burdened,” meaning they spend at least half their income on housing. The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles County has increased 67%, according to Zillow’s Rent Index. Homelessness has surged a stunning 75 percent in the last six years, the Los Angeles Times reports, and there are now at least 55,000 homeless people in the county.

Persecution Watch

Anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. surged nearly 60% in 2017, driven by an increase in such cases in schools and college campuses, a new report says. It’s the largest single-year increase on record — and every state reported at least one incident for the first time since at least 2010. In its annual audit, the Anti-Defamation League found 1,986 cases of harassment, vandalism or physical assaults against Jews and Jewish institutions last year. That’s up from the 1,267 incidents reported in 2016.

Economic News

President Donald Trump’s vow Thursday to slap tariffs on imported steel and aluminum spooked investors, raised fears that other nations would punch back with their own sanctions and threatened to raise prices for U.S. consumers and companies that use steel and aluminum. The president said that sometime next week, he will formally announce tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum. Overproduction by China has flooded world markets with steel and aluminum, driving prices down and intensifying pressure on American producers. American steel and aluminum producers would benefit from a tax on imports and the higher prices that are likely to result. “Tariffs on steel and aluminum are a tax hike the American people don’t need and can’t afford,” said Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

The announcement spooked the stock market, with the Dow down 420 points Thursday and another 71 points Friday. Investors fear a trade war with China. Canadians reacted with a mixture of anger, confusion and astonishment, upending decades of economic cooperation and integration. Canada is the largest exporter of steel and aluminum to the United States, supplying $7.2 billion of aluminum and $4.3 billion of steel to the United States last year.

Another bad week for retailers. JCPenney announced Friday that it will cut 360 jobs at its stores and corporate headquarters. That’s on top of the more than 5,000 layoffs in 2017 after JCPenney decided to close nearly 140 stores. Barnes & Noble posted a quarterly loss and a drop in sales Thursday morning, sending the bookstore’s shares to an all-time low. Nordstrom, which is trying to go private, failed to impress investors with its latest results after the closing bell Thursday. Foot Locker’s sales missed forecasts and its outlook was weak as well. Foot Locker’s stock dove 7% Friday morning.

Millennials falling for scams more than their grandparents. About 40% of Americans in their twenties reported fraud in 2017 and said they lost money to the schemes, the Federal Trade Commission said last week in its annual databook of consumer complaints. That easily surpassed the 18% of U.S. consumers 70 or older who reported they lost money to fraudsters last year, the FTC said. However, the median loss reported by adults in their seventies was $621, and for those aged 80 or over it was $1,092. Both age groups reported a higher median loss than the $400 for those aged 20-29.

The U.S. government is currently borrowing (i.e. debt) at the rate of $2 million every minute of every day, according to World Net Daily. Total debt is already $21 trillion, which equates to over $400,000 per taxpayer, or $165,000 per family.


Iran has built another permanent military base outside Syria’s capital city complete with hangers used to store missiles capable of hitting all of Israel, according to Western intelligence sources. Exclusive satellite images from ImageSat International obtained by Fox News show what is believed to be the new Iranian base, eight miles northwest of Damascus, operated by the Quds Force — the special operations arm of Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). On Capitol Hill Tuesday, the top U.S. military commander for American forces in the Middle East said Iran was “increasing” the number and “quality” of its ballistic missiles it was deploying to the region.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave another one of his trademark fiery speeches on Thursday, praising the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and declaring that Teheran’s support for the regime won’t waver in the face of broad international condemnation for the brutal bombardment of civilian neighborhoods in eastern Ghouta. “Syria is on the front lines today; it is our duty to defend the Syrian resistance,” Khamenei declared. Israel is demanding that new sanctions and limitations be placed on all Iranian missiles with a range of more than 180 miles (or 300 kilometers) – including the precision missiles Iran is providing to Hezbollah – which can easily reach Israel.

North Korea

North Korea sent 50 tons of materials to Syria that can be used in the manufacture of chemical weapons, according to media reports citing a leaked United Nations document. The report, which has not been published, said the shipments were evidence that Syrian President Bashar Assad was paying North Korea to help his regime manufacture chemical weapons, the Wall Street Journal reported. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons started an investigation on Sunday into reports that chlorine bombs were used a number of times this month in the rebel-held eastern Ghouta suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus, Reuters reported. At least one child was killed. More than 500 people died last week in the nearly seven-year civil war. The independent Syrian Center for Policy Research said 470,000 people have been killed in the conflict.


Russian President Vladimir Putin used an annual speech to his nation on Thursday to claim Russia was developing new nuclear weapons that he said could overcome any U.S. missile defenses. For the first time, Putin claimed that Russia had successfully tested nuclear-propulsion engines that would allow nuclear-tipped cruise missiles and underwater drones to travel for virtually unlimited distances and evade traditional defenses. He also warned that Moscow would consider a nuclear attack, of any size, on one of its allies to be an attack on Russia itself, and that it would lead to an immediate response. Putin did not specify which countries he considers allies. Putin made clear that his declaration of Russian prowess was aimed squarely at the United States, which he accused of fomenting a new arms race by resisting arms-control negotiations, developing new missile-defense systems, and adopting a more aggressive posture in its nuclear strategy.

  • Russia has aligned itself with Iran, just as Ezekiel 38 prophesied for the end-times


A 4.2-magnitude earthquake shook parts of Oklahoma on Sunday evening. The quake struck around 5:15 p.m. local time. Preliminary results from the U.S. Geological Service indicate it was centered roughly 11 miles northeast of Enid, Oklahoma, and at a depth of 3.5 miles. No injuries or damage have been reported. Thousands of earthquakes have been recorded in Oklahoma in recent years with many linked to fracking, the underground injection of wastewater from oil and gas production. Oklahoma regulators have directed several oil and gas producers in the state to close injection wells and reduce volumes in others.


A major nor’easter slammed the East Coast on Friday from Georgia to Maine, bringing heavy rain, severe flooding, snow and the threat of hurricane-force winds in some coastal areas due to an explosive development known as bombogenesis, defined by a rapid drop in atmospheric pressure of at least 24 millibars in a period of 24 hours or less. At least seven people were killed by the strong winds, which brought down trees and power lines from North Carolina to Maine and knocked out power to more than 2.1 million homes and businesses. The governors of Maryland and Virginia declared states of emergency due to the conditions. National Guard members were activated in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania to assist in the aftermath. Since Friday morning, nearly 4,000 domestic flights have been canceled, mostly in the Northeast. In Quincy, Massachusetts, floodwaters were so severe that officials had to use front-loaders to rescue residents. Flooding extended north to the coasts of New Hampshire and Maine on Friday afternoon, flooding streets and some structures. Residents along the Eastern Seaboard began their cleanup from a long, deadly weekend, but on Monday morning, some areas still were not freed from the coastal flooding that will largely be the legacy of Winter Storm Riley.

A round of storms swept into Southern California Thursday night and Friday morning, triggering at least one burn-scar mudslide after thousands were evacuated from vulnerable areas. The California Highway Patrol announced Friday morning that State Route 33 was closed above Ojai because of a debris flow. The evacuation order impacted as many as 30,000 people. With snow totals expected to be measured in feet at the higher elevations, officials warned drivers about the dangers of getting caught in the worst of Winter Storm Quinn as it began to dump heavy snow in northern California. Interstate 80 was closed in both directions through California’s Sierra Nevada because of whiteout conditions on Thursday. Parts of Idaho, California and Nevada have all received more than three feet of snow so far, with more on the way in California and Nevada.

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