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Apocalypse Soon? Part Three

November 11, 2019

Matthew 25

If you haven’t read Apocalypse Soon Blog Post 1 and 2 yet, please do so, because the teachings are constructed one upon the other.

Part Three: The Ten Virgins

Significantly, the parable of the Ten Virgins immediately follows Matthew 24 in which Jesus spoke about the signs of the end-times. The entire story is told in the first thirteen verses of Matthew 25, as follows:

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

“Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” (Matthew 25:1:13)

The oil represents the Holy Spirit, but one person can’t give the Holy Spirit to another, you can only get it from God through Jesus:

(John 20:22) He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

(1Corinthians 3:16) Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

(John 3:5) Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

We are all born once of the flesh, but in order to become a Child of God, we must afterward be born again of the Spirit, which happens when we repent and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

There are many pseudo Christians who think they are saved, but have not truly been Born Again because they think that works (like going to church) or just mental acknowledgement of Jesus is enough.

It’s not. Only if we have truly given our mind, heart and soul to Him and received the Holy Spirit are we true, born-again Christians.

Jesus is called the bridegroom in Matthew 25, as well as in several other Scriptures, with all of us being the bride. And when He comes, there will be a celebration called the wedding feast:

(Revelation 18:7-9) Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’”

The foolish virgins bring their lamps, but they don’t bring any oil because they don’t have any.

They too are pseudo Christians in name only who haven’t received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and thus are not ready when Jesus comes.

They beg the wise virgins for some oil, but it doesn’t work that way – only the real oil will burn inside the lamps (us).

This is comparable to Jesus’ parable about the sower of seed (the seed is the Gospel). The seed may produce some results initially, but the thorns (the devil and his demons) as well as the worries of the world take it away.

(Matthew 13:18-22) When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.

If you don’t have oil, (the indwelling Holy Spirit), you need to get it now before it’s too late.

And, if you have received the oil, do not neglect it and allow it to die – nourish it so that you have enough oil to last through the difficult days ahead until the day Jesus returns.

The waiting for Jesus’ return can cause us to become complacent or preoccupied– after all, for two-thousand years, believers have died waiting for Jesus to come again

And that’s not a bad thing, they are with Jesus in Heaven and have received their reward:

(2Corinthians 5:8) We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

But this, I believe, is the generation that will hear the midnight cry:

(Matthew 25:6) And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!

Midnight is the end of our natural day, and in this context, means the end of time itself.

Other Scriptures describe what transpires at this midnight hour:

(1Thessalonians 4:16-17) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus, we shall always be with the Lord.

(1Corinthians 15:50-54) Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

This is when we receive our heavenly, glorified body, eternal and incorruptible (i.e. without the sin nature we were all born with into the natural world)

But for those who have not received the oil of God’s indwelling presence, this will be the deepest, darkest hour of history. Those left behind will exist in deep darkness:

(Isaiah 60:2) For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people.

(Joel 2:31, KJV) The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord

But God doesn’t wish that any should miss out on His free gift of salvation:

(2Peter 3:9-10) The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.  

So, it’s time for those who are asleep (unbelievers and unprepared believers) to wake up before it’s too late:

(Ephesians 5:14) Awake, you who sleep, rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.

(Isaiah 60:1) Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.

(Romans 13:11-12) And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore, let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.

This applies to believers as well who are so busy doing ministry, that they neglect their relationship with the Lord Jesus and forget to keep supplied with the oil of the Holy Spirit.

Many nominal or pseudo-Christians are actually spiritually dead as Revelation 3:1 explains:

I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.

Wake up now, before it’s too late, and be born again in the Spirit!

Jesus says we must buy gold, pure gold refined in the fire. This comes from Jesus’ rebuke of the lukewarm Laodicean church (the seventh and last of the churches in Revelation) which many believe (as do I) represents the last age of the church in the end-time:s

(Revelation 3:14-17) These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.

Because the Laodecians were materially rich, they became lukewarm toward God. But Jesus says you are either “with me or against me” (Matthew 12:30).

If we’re not with Him, our ultimate, eternal fate is one of being spiritually poor, blind and naked.

The lukewarm and neglectful are no longer with Him, so He says He will vomit them out of His mouth – a truly frightening prospect.

So, what are the lukewarm to do? Jesus also provides the solution in Revelation 3:18-19:

I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and Therefore, be zealous and repent.

Being rich materially doesn’t matter when Judgment Day arrives. Instead, Jesus wants us to be spiritually rich. Gold, refined in the fire, represents the riches of Heaven which we can receive as joint heirs with Christ:

(Romans 8:16-17) The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

(1Peter 4:12-13) Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.

But, we see here a condition attached to being heirs. We are also called upon to suffer with Him before we can be glorified together with Him. Jesus tells us that in this world, we will have trials and tribulations

(John 16:33) In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

If we are Christ’s followers, particularly in the end-times, then we are bound to suffer and be persecuted:

(John 15:20) Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.

It is in the midst of trials and persecution that we become refined in the fire into gold and sliver:

(Malachi 3:2-3) But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord, an offering in righteousness.

Jesus also counsels us to buy white garments from Him – robes of righteousness to cover our spiritual nakedness (i.e. our sinfulness).

(Isaiah 61:10) I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Then we will be properly dressed for the wedding feast with Jesus, so that we won’t be told to leave for being improperly dressed (Matthew 22:1-7).

Instead, we will rejoice at the marriage supper of the Lamb:

(Revelation 19:6-9) Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

Lastly, Jesus counsels us to buy eye salve so that we might see. The Laodiceans were renowned for the eye salve they produced, but Jesus says they were nonetheless spiritually blind.

Therefore, He says to buy eye salve from Him that would restore our spiritual sight:

(Psalm 19:8) The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

Here’s the best part – the price for these precious spiritual commodities is simply to believe and to have faith in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of the world.

(Hebrews 11:6) But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

And so, as we await His return, we must learn to live from the inside out.

The world says we are comprised of body, mind and soul, putting the body first.

But the Bible says we are spirit, soul and body:

(1Thessalonians 5:23) Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The world teaches us to see and act physically first and foremost.

But the Bible says to see and act out of the Spirit above all else, because the world is temporary while the Spirit is eternal:

(2Corinthians 4:17-18) For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Signs of the Times

November 8, 2019

­­Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

Recent Convert, Rapper Kanye West, Proclaims Christ, Saves 1000

A Louisiana pastor praised Kanye West’s last-minute “Sunday Service,” where “over 1,000” people raised their hands to commit their lives to Christ on Friday. West opened up his ‘Sunday Service,’ to the public a few months ago, traveling across the country to hold gospel services and perform songs from his new album, “Jesus is King.” Curvine Brewington, a pastor at Crossroads Church in Lafayette said, “Tonight, worship was lifted, the name of Christ was exalted, the Word of God was preached, a multitude prayed together, the Gospel was clearly proclaimed, and an opportunity to respond was given. “In a crowd of 6,000, people from all walks of life, all ages, and all races, I witnessed over 1,000 people respond to The Gospel by raising their hands to accept Jesus as their Lord & Savior!”

  • Kanye West’s new album Jesus Is King not only ranked number one on the Billboard 200 chart, but it also came in at number one on the Top Christian Albums chart.

Paula White to Head Trump’s Faith Office

Paula White, a Pentecostal preacher and longtime adviser to President Donald Trump, has been tapped to head the White House’s Faith and Opportunity Initiative, a successor to previous administrations’ faith-based office that coordinates outreach to religious communities. The appointment of the popular author and former pastor of a Florida megachurch, sometimes called “the Trump whisperer” for her closeness to the president, has been long anticipated. Americans United for Separation of Church and State was quick to denounce White’s appointment. “Televangelist Paula White is unfit to serve in the position of advisor to the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative,” read a statement from Americans United President Rachel Laser. “She has no experience in government or public service and no history of undertaking the kind of interfaith outreach necessary for this role. Instead, she has operated in the shadows to influence public policies that discriminate against women, LGBTQ people and religious minorities, and the nomination of partisan judges who will support those harmful policies.”

Kentucky Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Christian Print Shop Owner

The Kentucky Supreme Court handed a victory Thursday to Lexington promotional print shop owner Blaine Adamson. The court found that the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) did not have a legal right to sue Adamson or his business for declining to print a message that violates his religious beliefs. For more than seven years, Adamson has been battling in court for the right to run his business consistently with his faith. He faced many setbacks: boycotts against his promotional printing company, Hands On Originals; hateful emails, phone calls, and Facebook comments; and some customers even pulled their business. Adamson was represented by attorneys for the Alliance Defending Freedom. “Today’s decision makes clear that this case never should have happened. For more than seven years, government officials used this case to turn Blaine’s life upside down, even though we told them from the beginning that the lawsuit didn’t comply with the city’s own legal requirements,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jim Campbell.

Radical Feminists, Conservative Women Unite to Fight Transgender Agenda

Kara Dansky is a self-avowed radical feminist, but she’s much more likely to appear on a Heritage Foundation panel or as a guest Fox News than any left-tilting forum. That’s because Ms. Dansky and her organization, the Women’s Liberation Front, or WoLF, have struck up an unlikely alliance with conservatives over the increasingly influential transgender-rights movement, specifically its implications for the lives of women and girls. “The Women’s Liberation Front has always stood for the right to privacy and safety of women and girls, and we see the trans movement as a threat to those,” Ms. Dansky said. “We absolutely think that women and girls have the right to intimate spaces without the presence of men.” By “men,” she also means biological males who identify as women, a stance that puts her at odds with progressive powerhouses like the Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, as well as feminist groups such as the National Organization for Women and UltraViolet.

Austin Votes to Teach Middle Schoolers about Sodomy & Transgenderism

Despite heavy turnout from parents opposed to the plan, the Austin Independent School District voted Tuesday to approve a sex education curriculum that calls for teaching children as early as middle school how to engage in sodomy and put on condoms, and that gender is “non-binary.” As detailed by Texas Values, the curriculum discourages gender-specific language like “mother” and “father” because it “can limit [children’s] understanding of gender into binaries,” encourages children to attend LGBT “pride” rallies and explore other ways to become LGBT “allies,” and proposes various role-play scenarios for children to act out in class, including lesbians deciding when to engage in oral sex.

UK Parents Protest Mandated LGBT Teaching in School

Parents in the United Kingdom who were infuriated by mandatory LGBT lessons in public schools have launched an organization and a petition demanding the right to exempt their children from the indoctrination. The organization is called OCOFOR, Our Children Our Faith Our Rights. Members recently staged a demonstration at Parliament Square insisting the government allow them to opt children out of the LGBT lessons. The online petition warns that society is snatching away “the rights of Christians who chose to live according to biblical views and other religious groups regarding homosexuality.” The petition explains the organization “is fighting to protect the rights of people of faith to peacefully live out their beliefs. “Religious freedom is fast becoming marginalized with those of the Christian faith being especially set apart for public mockery and shaming,” they warn.

Judge Affirms Law that Bans Business Owners from Expressing Faith Publicly

A federal judge has affirmed a Colorado law that effectively bans business owners from freely expressing in public their religious beliefs about marriage and homosexuality. Colorado was the loser in a similar dispute, the Masterpiece Cakeshop case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the state show “hostility” to the Christian beliefs of Jack Phillips in its handling of his refusal to make a cake for a same-sex wedding. Since then, openly homosexual Democratic Gov. Jared Polis has pursued a gay-rights agenda that includes allowing people to indicate their sex on driver’s licenses according to their “gender identity” and banning counselors from helping young people who want to rid themselves of same-sex attractions.

President Trump Has Appointed 150 Federal Judges

President Trump just celebrated the appointment of his 150th federal judge on Wednesday—a huge milestone that will have a lasting impact long after the president leaves office. These lifetime appointments will impact the federal judiciary for decades to come on big issues like abortion to religious rights. “A truly momentous achievement,” Trump said. “They will uphold our Constitution as written. These distinguished men and women are some of the most gifted scholars, respected jurists, and finest legal minds ever placed on the federal bench.”

­­­Thousands of Illegal Aliens from Terrorist Nations Live in U.S.

Months after Judicial Watch reported that migrants from terrorist nations are trying to enter the U.S. via Mexico at record rates, government figures show that more than 10,000 illegal aliens from countries that sponsor terrorism currently live here. It’s not clear how they entered the country but federal authorities know about them because they have either been deported or have final removal orders pending. The statistics from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and show that there are 10,340 non-detained illegal immigrants from Iran, Syria, Sudan and North Korea on ICE’s national docket as of June 2018. Iran tops the list with 6,331, followed by Syria (2,128), Sudan (1,860) and North Korea (21). All four countries have been designated as sponsors of terrorism by the State Department.

Judge Blocks Trump’s Health Insurance Rule for Immigrants

A federal judge in Portland, Oregon, on Saturday put on hold a Trump administration rule requiring immigrants prove they will have health insurance or can pay for medical care before they can get visas. U.S. District Judge Michael Simon granted a temporary restraining order that prevents the rule from going into effect Sunday. It’s not clear when he will rule on the merits of the case. Seven U.S. citizens and a nonprofit organization filed the federal lawsuit Wednesday contending the rule would block nearly two-thirds of all prospective legal immigrants. “We’re very grateful that the court recognized the need to block the health care ban immediately,” says Justice Action Center senior litigator Esther Sung. “The ban would separate families and cut two-thirds of green-card-based immigration starting tonight, were the ban not stopped.”

Illegals in Mississippi ICE Raids Stole Americans’ Identities

Most of the 680 illegal immigrants nabbed in August’s immigration raids at poultry plants in Mississippi worked under stolen American identities, the Department of Homeland Security’s top investigator told Congress Thursday, rebuffing Democrats who insisted the “undocumented” workers were doing no harm. “They stole the IDs of 400 U.S. citizens,” said Jere Miles, who leads Homeland Security Investigations’ New Orleans office. Mr. Miles defended the Aug. 7 raids against seven processing plants as both a success and a deterrent to future illegal immigrants. The raids have become a major flashpoint in the immigration debate, with activists complaining that they were conducted cruelly, on the first day of school for the workers’ children, and without warning to local authorities or social welfare agencies.

Tucson Voters Reject Sanctuary City Proposal

Tucson voters on Tuesday resoundingly opposed an initiative, known as Proposition 205, that would have given sweeping protections to illegal aliens, and prohibit local law enforcement from working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. At the close of the polls, over 71% of voters rejected the measure. Notably, the measure was opposed by every member of the Tucson City Council — all of whom are Democrats. The council members were concerned that its passage would lead to the loss of millions of dollars in federal and state funding. Leaders were very aware of the Trump administration’s fight against other local jurisdictions that have passed sanctuary policies, threatening to withhold federal grants as punishment.

Nine American Mormons Killed in Mexico

Relatives say at least ten U.S. citizens— three women, four small children and two infants, all Mormons—have been killed in a highway massacre believed to be tied to a drug cartel in northern Mexico. Three mothers and 14 children—members of a breakaway Mormon community known as La Mora, some 70 miles south of Douglas, Ariz.—were reportedly ambushed Monday while driving in Bavispe, Sonora state. Relatives say the remains of Rhonita Miller and four of her children, including twin infants, were found in a burned-out SUV on the side of the road,. Others in the three-vehicle convoy were “shot at as they tried to flee.” Six children were wounded in the attack, with five transferred to hospitals in Phoenix, Ariz. One child is still missing. Relatives say this is not the first time members of the breakaway Mormon community have been targeted.

  • President Trump on Tuesday offered U.S. assistance as he called on Mexico to “wage war” against the country’s murderous drug cartel “monsters.” President Andrés Manuel López Obrador refused the offer, however, saying at a Tuesday news conference, “The worst thing you can have is war.”

Hundreds of Oklahoma Inmates Released in Record Commutation

Hundreds of Oklahoma inmates left prison Monday before their original sentences were over. In the largest mass commutation in US history, at least 462 non-violent inmates were released, officials said. A total of 527 inmates had their sentences commuted Friday, but 65 of them have detainers and will be released later. The move is one of many prison reform efforts in Oklahoma aimed at reducing overcrowded prisons while helping low-level offenders build a life of self-sufficiency rather than reincarceration. In 2016, Oklahoma passed reforms that would turn some low-level felonies into misdemeanors. For example, possession of a small amount of drugs became a misdemeanor, and the threshold for a property crime becoming a felony increased from $500 in property value to $1,000 in value.

U.S. Formally Opts Out of U.N. Climate Accord

The United States has told the United Nations it has begun the process of pulling out of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that he submitted a formal notice to the United Nations. That starts a withdrawal process that does not become official for a year. His statement touted America’s carbon pollution cuts and called the Paris deal an “unfair economic burden” to the U.S. economy. The U.S. is the first nation to pull out of the deal. Agreement rules prevented any country from pulling out in the first three years after the Nov. 4, 2016, ratification. President Donald Trump has been promising withdrawal for two years, but Monday was the first time he could actually do it.

U.N. Voted to Condemn U.S. for Economic Blockade Against Cuba

The 193-member United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to condemn the U.S. economic and commercial blockade against Cuba on Thursday, and in doing so shunned U.S. calls to condemn Cuba for its ongoing human-rights violations. Brazil and Israel were the only two countries to vote with the United States against the resolution. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Kelly Craft listed a litany of human-rights abuses by Cuba that she said went against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – a document to which the communist country is a signatory. Craft referenced a report that estimated 50,000 journalists, activists, and others had been arrested arbitrarily since 2010. Craft told member states, “Like all nations, we get to choose which countries we trade with. This is our sovereign right. So, it is worrying that the international community, in the name of protecting sovereignty, continues to challenge this right.”

Global Fertility Rate Falling Dramatically

Contrary to U.N. and globalist propaganda, global population is headed for a crash, not an explosion. The birthrate in many countries is so low that they will cease to exist as discrete nations if it doesn’t turn around. For many, the trend is already irreversible, says Technocracy News. At least two children per woman is needed to ensure a stable population from generation to generation.  In the 1960s, the fertility rate was five live births per woman. By 2017 it had fallen to 2.43, a decline of over 50%. While the global average fertility rate was still above the rate of replacement—technically 2.1 children per woman—about 50% of all countries have already fallen below the replacement rate. Fifty years ago, there were only 5% of countries below replacement level. Falling fertility rates and aging populations will mean serious challenges that will be felt more acutely in some places than others.

U.S. Lab Loses Enough Fentanyl to Kill 1,750 People

A government-owned nuclear laboratory long plagued by scandals and security breaches is in trouble again for recklessly managing controlled substances, including enough opioids to kill more than 1,700 people. Other illicit narcotics mishandled by the taxpayer-funded compound’s staff include morphine, methamphetamine, codeine and cocaine. The drugs are routinely used for research at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, the same facility where Judicial Watch exposed a Chinese Communist scientist that stole nuclear secrets. Los Alamos is among the world’s largest science institutions and the nation’s key nuclear weapons research facility. It also conducts work involving controlled substances to assist law enforcement agencies with drug traffickers. The lab recently could not account for 3.5 grams of fentanyl, according to a federal audit that outlines. The U.S. government’s National Institute on Drug Abuse has determined that “fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent.”

Teen Vaping Continues to Increase Despite Dangers

A U.S. government report based on a recent survey indicates that the U.S. teen vaping epidemic shows no signs of slowing down. An estimated 28% of high school students and 11% of middle schoolers surveyed earlier this year had vaped within the past month. That amounts to over 5 million young users, versus about 3.6 million last year. The results follow the Trump administration’s call in September to ban virtually all vaping flavors, following reports of deaths and lung disease from vaping. Federal health officials have identified vitamin E acetate in the lung fluids of 29 people sickened in the outbreak of dangerous vaping-related lung injuries. The discovery, which they call a “breakthrough,” points to the oil as the likely culprit.

U.S. Doctors Reap Big Bucks from Big Pharma

In a very thorough and revealing analysis of statistical industry payment data, ProPublica disclosed that more than 2,500 physicians have received at least half a million dollars apiece from drug makers and medical device companies in the past five years alone. More than 700 of those doctors received at least $1 million, and that doesn’t include money for research or royalties from inventions. In their article, the authors note that their previous analysis in 2013 found that 1 doctor had made $1 million and 21 doctors had made over $500,000 for the same reasons. It was expected to be a wake-up call for more effective scrutiny, oversight, and challenges to these payments. Instead, these types of payments have become much more commonplace.

Economic News

China and the United States have agreed to cancel in phases the tariffs imposed during their months-long trade war, the Chinese commerce ministry said on Thursday, without specifying a timetable. Tariff cancellation was an important condition for any agreement, ministry spokesman Gao Feng said, adding that both must simultaneously cancel some tariffs on each other’s goods to reach a “phase one” trade deal. The proportion of tariffs canceled for both sides to reach a “phase one” deal must be the same, but the number to be canceled can be negotiated, he added

The global debt load has surged to a new all-time record equivalent to more than double the world’s economic output, International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva warned Thursday. “Global debt — both public and private — has reached an all-time high of $188 trillion. This amounts to about 230 percent of world output,” Georgieva said in a speech to open a two-day conference on debt. Global debt has risen by 24 trillion dollars since 2016 which puts governments and individuals at risk if the economy slows, she said.

As more baby boomers put off retirement, millennials and Gen Xers are finding it harder to move up into middle- and higher-level jobs, according to a USA TODAY/LinkedIn survey and interviews with recruiters. Forty-one percent of millennials — and 30% of all adults  — said they’ve found it difficult to move up in their fields because boomers are waiting longer to retire. “This is the first time ever that five different generations are in America’s workforce at the same time, from Gen Z-ers up to baby boomers,” says LinkedIn career expert Blair Decembrele.

U.S. hiring was surprisingly solid last month as employers added 128,000 jobs despite a General Motors strike that held down overall payrolls and the loss of 20,000 temporary census workers. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected 85,000 job gains. Job gains for August and September were revised up by 95,000. The unemployment rate, which is calculated from a different survey, rose from a 50-year low of 3.5% to 3.6%, the Labor Department said Friday. That’s because a strong increase in employment was offset by an even bigger rise in the labor force, which includes Americans working and looking for jobs.

  • The positive report sent the S&P 500 and Nasdaq stock indices to record highs last Friday. The stock indices hit historic highs again on Monday. But this time the Dow joined the record-setting club as well.

Persecution Watch

Pro-Turkish forces are reportedly carrying out a “soft ethnic cleansing” of Christians in north-east Syria by terrorizing them into fleeing, despite assurances from Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that his forces would not persecute religious minorities. Bassam Ishak, the head of the Syriac National Council, said Syrian armed groups allied with Turkey are preventing Christians from accessing their land during the current cotton harvest. The troops have orders not to physically touch the Christians, but instead to tell them that “they have no land here anymore,” said Ishak, who is also a member of the Syrian Democratic Council. “The Christians in Ras al-Ain own at least one-third of the agricultural land there. These forces are basically carrying out a ‘soft’ ethnic cleansing. The Christians are being frightened by these people, and then they lose their source of income.”

Two evangelical pastors were beheaded and many church buildings burnt in an outbreak of anti-Christian violence last month in Sebeta town, near the capital Addis Ababa. But this was only the latest incident of violence which has plagued the country for over a year. The violence began in September – November 2018, in the area of Enseno town, leaving 45 people dead – including many Christians – and many homes burnt. Thousands were displaced and have been living in temporary shelters, even through the rainy season of 2019. It is a region dominated by Islam and by conflict between two tribes. The government has been unable to cope with the huge need of the displaced people, and church leaders became “confused and discouraged” as they wrestled with the problem of how to save the displaced Christians from starvation, malnutrition and the diseases that go with it.

Islamic State Names New Leader

Days after its “caliph,” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and his heir apparent were killed in Syria, the Islamic State on Thursday confirmed their deaths, announced a new leader and warned the U.S.: “Do not be happy.” In an audio recording, the group said it was now led by Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurayshi. That’s not a name experts knew before — but ISIS leaders often take new names when they’re appointed or promoted.

ISIS Terror Attack Kills Over 50 Soldiers in Mali

At least 53 soldiers and one civilian have been killed in a terrorist attack on the Malian Armed Forces, according to Mali’s government. Rescue teams found the bodies, along with 10 survivors and “significant material damage,” at the military post in Indelimane, in the country’s north-east, on Friday. The government called the assault a terrorist attack and urged the nation “to succeed in the war for freedom, peace and social cohesion in our country.” This attack follows previous attacks on army posts in central Mali in September that killed 38 soldiers. Separatists and al Qaeda-linked insurgents often target military outposts in the West African nation.

Iran Brags of Violating Nuclear Accord, Protesters Shout “Death to America”

Iran on Monday displayed its defiance of the United States when the Islamic Republic brazenly announced new violations of the 2015 nuclear accord while Islamist demonstrators shouted, “Death to America” and likened the U.S. to a “poisonous scorpion” during an event commemorating the 40th anniversary of revolutionaries seizing the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Iran says it now operates 60 advanced centrifuges, twice as many as allowed by the 2015 accord, and is experimenting with a prototype designed to be 50 times faster than what’s allowed by the nuclear agreement. Iran injected uranium gas into centrifuges at its underground Fordo nuclear complex early Thursday, taking its most-significant step away from its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Tehran meanwhile also acknowledged blocking an official from the International Atomic Energy Agency from visiting its nuclear site at Natanz last week, the first known case of a United Nations inspector being blocked amid heightened tensions over its atomic program. Experts have previously estimated Iran could produce enough material to build a nuclear weapon in about a one-year period; however, the advanced centrifuges could speed up that assessment.

  • A new package of economic and political sanctions were imposed by the U.S. Treasury Monday on nine individuals closely tied to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Dresden, Germany Declares Nazi Emergency

A city in eastern Germany has declared a “Nazi emergency” after allegedly experiencing a rise in anti-democratic and far-right extremist views and even violence. Council members of the city of Dresden, the capital of Saxony, declared in a resolution that acknowledges that “right-wing extremist attitudes and actions … are occurring with increasing frequency.” It also called on the city to help victims of far-right violence, protect minorities and strengthen democracy. The resolution was approved 38 to 29, with Germany’s governing Christian Democrats (CDU) – which has Chancellor Angela Merkel at the helm – among those who rejected it. The party reportedly described the resolution as “pure political symbolism.”

Russia Expanding Military Operations from Syria to Libya

After four years of behind-the-scenes financial and tactical support for a would-be Libyan strongman, Russia is now pushing far more directly to shape the outcome of Libya’s messy civil war. It has introduced advanced Sukhoi jets, coordinated missile strikes, and precision-guided artillery, as well as snipers — the same playbook that made Moscow a kingmaker in the Syrian civil war. The Russians have intervened on behalf of the militia leader Khalifa Hifter, who is based in eastern Libya and is also backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and, at times, France. His backers have embraced him as their best hope to check the influence of political Islam, crack down on militants and restore an authoritarian order. Hifter has been at war for more than five years with a coalition of militias from western Libya. Libya’s government was set up by the United Nations in 2015 and is officially supported by the United States and other Western powers. But in practical terms, Turkey is its only patron.

Gunmen In Burkina Faso Attack Mining Company Convoy, Killing 37

Gunmen in Burkina Faso killed at least 37 people on Wednesday in an attack on a convoy carrying employees, suppliers and contractors of a Canadian mining company, one of the deadliest episodes in a recent tide of violence that has gripped the West African nation. The mining company, Semafo, which is based in Montreal, said that five buses escorted by Burkina Faso’s military were attacked while traveling to the Boungou mine, an open-pit gold mine in the eastern part of the country. They were on their way from the city of Fada-Ngourma, about 25 miles away. Lt. Col. Saïdou T.P. Sanou, the governor of the country’s eastern region, confirmed the death toll in a statement and said that another 60 people had been wounded

New Delhi Toxic Smog Grounds Planes, Sickens Citizens

Toxic smog choking India’s capital has shut down schools and prevented planes from landing at an international airport — but doctors say what’s most concerning is how the foul air has sickened many of New Delhi’s citizens. New Delhi officials declared a health emergency Friday, asking the city’s more than 20 million residents to stay indoors. Schools were closed for five days and authorities handed out millions of free masks to children as the deteriorating air quality reached a three-year high. An Air Quality Index of 0-50 is considered “good.” New Delhi’s AQI reached 900. Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal saying that the city had been turned into a “gas chamber.” The pollution is so bad that it can be seen from space.

Bolivian Post-Election Violence Surging

The mayor of a small town in Bolivia has become the latest victim of violence in the country that has seen violent street clashes intensifying over the country’s disputed election nearly three weeks ago. Vinto Mayor Patricia Arce Guzman was confronted at the town hall by protesters, who then dragged her out barefoot through the streets of the town as windows at the city building were broken and her office was set on fire. Guzman was then forced to kneel down as demonstrators cut her hair, doused her in red paint, and forced her to sign a resignation letter all while yelling “murderess, murderess,” according to the BBC. Officials said Wednesday that three persona have been killed in street clashes between supporters and foes of President Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, who has accused the opposition of trying to stage a coup.

Environment

Deforestation’s contribution to climate change is vastly overestimated, a new study concludes. The study led by researchers at Ohio State University and Yale University states that deforestation for timber and farmland is responsible for about 92 billion tons of carbon emissions into the environment since 1900.  “Our estimate is about a fifth of what was found in previous work showing that deforestation has contributed 484 billion tons of carbon – a third of all manmade emissions – since 1900,” said Professor Brent Sohngen. The professor said that widely accepted estimate didn’t take into account the planting of new trees and other forest management techniques that lower the environmental burden. The model used in the new study did take those factors into account. “There was a significant shift toward treating forests as a renewable, rather than nonrenewable, resource in the last century, and we estimate that those reforestation and forest management efforts have led to a far smaller carbon burden on the environment,” Sohngen said.

Part of the Keystone 1 Pipeline in North Dakota was shut down after a leak of about 9,120 barrels of oil — 383,040 gallons — was discovered. The oil leak occurred just north of Edinburg, in the northeast part of the state, and affected about 2,500 square yards of land, TC Energy company said. A drop in pressure was detected on Tuesday, and the pipeline was immediately shut down. The company is not sure how the leak started, but says an independent party is examining the pipeline.

Shrinking ice, rising sea levels and fierce storms are transforming Canada’s Magdalen Islands, where temperatures have warmed twice the global average since the late 19th century. Residents are fighting an escalating battle against erosion and flooding — trying to fend off the sea in some places and retreat from it in others.

San Jose, CA Mayor Sam Liccardo and other city council members approved a proposal to prohibit natural gas infrastructure from being installed in many new residential buildings. The measure covers single family homes, accessory dwelling units and low-rise multi-family buildings. San Jose’s ban comes just after Berkeley, CA passed a natural gas ban that will also take effect on January 1. San Jose is the largest city to advance this type of ordinance. It aims to reduce emissions from buildings, which are considered the largest emissions producers along with transportation. The ultra-left environmental group, Sierra Club, claims that 50 other California cities are also considering a ban on natural gas.

  • The only by-products of burning natural gas are water and CO2, which is used by plants to generate oxygen. There are enough proven reserves currently in production that could power the entire U.S. for at least 80 years, and more reserves are being discovered every year.  Technocracy News notes that natural gas is the cleanest, cheapest and most resilient source of energy on planet earth.

Earthquakes

A magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck northwestern Iran early Friday, killing at least five people and injuring over 300 others, officials said. The temblor struck Tark county in Iran’s Eastern Azerbaijan province at 2:17 a.m., about 250 miles northwest of Iran’s capital, Tehran. Over 40 aftershocks rattled the rural region nestled in the Alborz Mountains. Rescuers have been dispatched to the region. State TV reported the earthquake destroyed 30 homes at its epicenter.

A part of Texas that is being heavily developed for oil and gas production has seen a dramatic increase in earthquakes over the past decade, a new study shows. Researchers examined more than 7,000 seismic events in West Texas between 2000 and 2017, according to the study published this week in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Solid Earth. The analysis showed that a disproportionate number have happened in the last 10 years in an area near Pecos known as the Delaware Basin. The uptick began after 2007, when just one earthquake was recorded in the area. Nineteen earthquakes happened in 2009 and more than 2,000 were recorded in 2017.

  • In less than a decade, a boom in the country’s shale patches added a record 8 million barrels day and made the United States the No. 1 oil producer in the world at 12 million barrels/day. A large proportion of this comes from the oil producers in the Permian Basin, a vast expanse of 86,000 square miles that borders west Texas and southeastern New Mexico. That region is responsible for about a third of America’s crude output.
    • In a fallen world of good and evil, there are plusses and minuses to almost every situation

Weather

More than 11,000 scientists from 153 countries have signed a declaration that states, “clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.” The scientists warn that an “immense increase of scale in endeavors to conserve our biosphere is needed to avoid untold suffering due to the climate crisis.” The scientists set out “critical and interrelated” steps that should be taken in six areas: Energy, short-lived pollutants, nature, the economy, food, and, most controversially, population. They call for the stabilization of the world population through measures including making family-planning services available to all and working toward full gender equity in education.

 

Apocalypse Soon? Part Two

November 5, 2019

If you haven’t read Apocalypse Soon? – Part One yet, please do so, because the teachings are constructed one upon the other.

Part Two: The Signs of Noah and Jonah

The time is growing shorter and shorter until the end-days commence and some of us are feeling a swelling up within of an imminent explosion about to hit the world.

  • These days are akin to when Noah was asked to build the ark in preparation for the flood that would destroy all life in the land – except for the people and animals on the ark

(Matthew 24:37-39) But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.  For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

  • In today’s world, most people (and many Christians) are going about their lives (eating, drinking, marrying) as though nothing else mattered, as though the world would simply continue going on as is for at least the rest of their lives – but, Jesus says otherwise.
  • Most people will not realize what is going on until it’s too late – unless, we tell them and explain that the terrible things happening to and on the earth are signs that Jesus is about to shake and break this world and then replace it with the New Heaven, New Earth and New Jerusalem prophesied in Revelation 21.

People likely mocked Noah and called him a fool, especially since there had never been rain on the earth up until that point in time

  • Prior to that, there had only been a mist that arose from the ground
    • (Genesis 2:6) For the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.

The Bible also prophesies that scoffers and mockers will come in the last days, and we already see that today, with people increasingly putting down all things Christian, even labeling Christians as haters:

  • (2Peter 3:3-4) Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”

So, when will the last days begin? When the disciples asked Jesus when the time of the end would be, He said:

  • But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven but My Father only. (Matthew 24:36)

Only God the Father knows when the right time will be.

  • However, notice that Jesus says no one will know the day or the hour

Jesus tells us directly to watch for the signs of His coming:

  • (Matthew 24:42) Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
    • He wouldn’t tell us to watch if there wasn’t something to watch for.
    • As discussed in Part One, many signs are close to fulfillment, so Jesus could come back in the next 10 to 20 years or so.

Jesus told us to watch for these things much as we would watch the seasons – we looked at this in Part One, People Get Ready, but now we’re going to examine another important lesson from this parable:

  • (Matthew 24:32-34) Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer isSo you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.
    • The Greek word translated as ‘generation’ can also be translated as ‘age’ and this is the meaning of this sign, for that generation who lived at that time passed away a long time ago. Jesus is referring to the entire generation of believers through the age between His first and second coming.
    • Unfortunately, some have used this expression to claim that the end-times have already occurred and that Jesus was referring to the destruction of the temple in 70 AD when Titus, the son of Roman Emperor Vespasian overran Jerusalem with his army
      • But that hat was only a foreshadowing of the true end of the age

Jesus also says to also keep watch as we do with the weather:

  • (Matthew 16:1-4) Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”
    • Here, Jesus was speaking directly to the Pharisees who had come to challenge Him. Jesus had already performed many miracles, including the feeding of the 4,000, which should have been enough to prove to them that He was who He said He was.
      • He was not saying that it was wrong to seek after a sign, because elsewhere (as above), He told us to look for signs.

Jesus not only tells us to discern the times as we would the weather, but He introduces another sign – the sign of Jonah. He explains this Himself in Matthew 12:40-41:

  • For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is

Jesus was dead and buried in the earth for three days before rising up like Jonah did from the belly of the beast and the people of Nineveh took it as a sign from God that Jonah was miraculously saved after being in the great fish for three days, and they repented and turned to God.

  • Like them, we should accept Jesus’ resurrection as not only a fulfillment of these verses but also as sign that everything He says about His Second Coming is true

There will also be unmistakable signs in the Heavens, but this occurs well along into the Great Tribulation:

  • (Luke 21:25-27) And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
    • The sea and the waves have certainly been roaring as we’ve seen with the increasing strength of the hurricanes striking the U.S. And, more and more distress is coming upon the earth.

The heavenly signs alluded to above (“the powers of the heavens will be shaken”) regarding the sun and moon happen quite late in the Great Tribulation, perhaps the last sign and the last hope any have of salvation

  • (Acts 2:20) The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
  • (Revelation 6:12) I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.

We may not know the day or the hour of His Coming, but like the sons of Issachar, we are supposed to be aware of approximately when that time is ready to come upon us

  • (1Chronicles 12:32) “The sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.

In the days of Noah, it was too late for them to do anything to avoid the coming destruction as soon as the rain started to fall, because Noah was already safely tucked away inside the ark

  • If they had hearkened to the signs, they could also have built arks or boats of some kind to survive – or, better yet, repented of their evil and wicked ways

But now, following Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have been given signs and instructions directly from God in His Word, the Bible, which tells us what to do

  • For believers, this means being prepared and living as though Jesus could come at any moment, because when He comes it will be quickly, instantaneously as He said in Revelation 22:12. He further explains what this will be like in Matthew 24:40-43
    • Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.

Being “taken” refers to the rapture in which believers will rise to meet Jesus in the air (i.e. the heavenly places) and be saved from the further destruction of the earth

  • The rapture is described in 1Thessalonians 4:17: Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus, we shall always be with the Lord.
    • Some say the word ‘rapture’ isn’t in the Bible and so they don’t believe in it. But the word ‘bible’ isn’t in the Bible either, so that’s a spurious objection
      • Our English word rapture comes from the Latin word ‘raptura’ which means ‘carrying off’ and is the word translated as ‘caught up” in our English translations

The Apostle Paul further instructed us on how to get ready for the end of the age:

  • (1Thessalonians 5:1-11) But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another.
    • Being sober and not drunk are metaphors for being alert and watchful, and not taken in by the dark ways of the world, instead remaining vigilant and spiritually prepared for Christ to come at any moment.
    • Paul also calls upon us to put on the “breastplate of love” so that we can love and comfort one another through these difficult and perilous times –not just other Christians, but unbelievers as well, so that our love, comfort and witness can save many souls.
    • For Christians, this is not the time to just dig in and try to just survive, but rather it is an opportunity to reach out to unbelievers with their last chance for eternal salvation
    • People are more open to hearing the Gospel message when things are not going well, especially during the fearful times to come

The Apostle Peter also recommends being sober, but also hopeful and holy:

  • (1Peter 1:13-16) Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
    • Even as we hope for Jesus’ coming to be soon, we must gird up our loins and be prepared to endure for however long it takes, remaining obedient and holy, not conforming to the lusts of the world

Then we will be prepared for when the end-times start to unfold, as Luke advises:

(Luke 21:28) Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

However, for unbelievers, the time is being lengthened so that everyone has every opportunity to receive God’s free gift of salvation

  • (2Peter 3:9) The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
    • Repentance precedes salvation, which is why John the Baptist and Jesus both said to, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2, 4:17)

The word repent means more than just being sorry – there must be deep, Godly sorrow and a commitment to turn away from sinfulness and resist temptation so that it does not reoccur.

  • For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. (2Corinthians 7:10)
    • The sorrow of the world is merely mouthing the word ‘sorry’ with no true sorrow nor any commitment to do better

But with Godly sorrow and true repentance, unbelievers can turn to God and receive the free gift of salvation and eternal life in Heaven by declaring (from their mind, heart and spirit) that Jesus Christ is their Savior and Lord of their life

  • (Acts 3:19) Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.
  • (Isaiah 45:22)Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.

So the Signs of Noah and Jonah tell us not just to be watchful, but also to be prepared to love, comfort and lead unbelievers to repent and be saved.

Signs of the Times

October 31, 2019

­­But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

876 Abortion Clinics Have Lost Taxpayer Funding

A new report indicates President Trump has been responsible for de-funding almost 900 facilities that either perform or promote killing babies in abortions. Last May, the Trump administration published a new proposal for Title X that would prohibit Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses from receiving any of those tax dollars unless they completely separate their abortion businesses from their taxpayer-funded services. That mean housing their family planning services in separate buildings with separate staff from their abortion businesses and a denial of funds if they fail to do so. Federal courts eventually let the defunding rules move forward and Planned Parenthood and other abortion activists left the Title X program and gave up $60 million of taxpayer dollars. Power to Decide, a pro-choice organization that works to prevent unplanned pregnancies, says in a new report that 876 clinics across the country have lost funding.

Federal Court Blocks Alabama Law Criminalizing Most Abortions

A federal judge issued a ruling Tuesday blocking an Alabama law that would make abortion a felony in nearly all situations, regardless of the stage of the pregnancy. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson granted a motion for a preliminary injunction, temporarily preventing the law from being enforced as a lawsuit over the law brought by abortion providers moves forward. “The court is persuaded that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed in showing that the Act violates an individual’s constitutional right to obtain a pre-viability abortion, and thus that it violates her constitutional rights,” the ruling said, noting that “banning abortion before viability violates Supreme Court precedent.” The law, known as the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, would make it a felony for anyone to perform an abortion, except in situations where a doctor determines that there is a “medical emergency” related to the mother’s physical condition or if the fetus has a “lethal anomaly” that would cause it to be stillborn or die soon after death.

Biden Denied Communion Over Abortion Support

A Catholic priest says he denied Holy Communion to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden at his parish in South Carolina on Sunday because of the Democratic presidential contender’s support for abortion. The Rev. Robert E. Morey told the Florence Morning News on Monday that, ““Sadly, this past Sunday, I had to refuse Holy Communion to former Vice President Joe Biden. Holy Communion signifies we are one with God, each other and the Church. Our actions should reflect that. Any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of Church teaching.” Biden says he is “personally opposed” to abortion, but insists that this should not affect political stances.

Biological Male Runner Named Female ‘Athlete of the Week’

A biological male runner who identifies as a female was named the Big Sky Conference women’s cross country athlete of the week last week, sparking – yet again – a debate over fairness in women’s sports and the collegiate rules that govern transgender athletes. The University of Montana’s June Eastwood won the honor, but last year Eastwood was known as Jonathan Eastwood and competed on the Montana men’s cross country and track teams. Eastwood finished seventh in May 2018 in the men’s 1,500-meter run at the conference’s outdoor championship. Eastwood’s picture and bio as a male athlete is still listed on the athletic department’s website as a former member of the men’s team. Now, though, Eastwood identifies as a female athlete and is listed on the website as June Eastwood and a member of the women’s team.

House Approves Impeachment Inquiry Rules

A sharply divided House voted Thursday to approve a resolution setting “ground rules” for the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, putting lawmakers on record over the contentious process while setting the stage for proceedings to move into the public eye after weeks of closed-door depositions. The measure passed largely along party lines, 232-196. Two Democrats defected on the vote. Republicans accused Democrats of launching a de facto “coup” against the president in a “pre-ordained” bid to overturn the results of the 2016 election. Democrats, though, maintained that the president’s own actions – pressing Ukraine to launch politically related investigations, and allegedly using military aid as leverage – brought the country to this point. The resolution authorizes the Intelligence Committee to conduct open, televised hearings in which minority Republicans have equal time to question witnesses.

DHS’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ Policy Causes Thousands to Abandon Asylum

The Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy has done exactly what officials had hoped — convince illegal immigrants with bogus asylum claims to give up and return home, officials said this week, declaring the controversial policy a success. Of the 55,000 migrants who were subject to the Migrant Protection Protocols, as the program is officially known, a “small subset” have won their cases and been readmitted to the U.S. to proceed with asylum claims. Another 20,000 are still waiting in northern Mexico, Homeland Security officials say,  leaving tens of thousands who have given up their claims. Just as important are the would-be migrants that have not made the trip in the first place, Homeland Security said, cutting the number of illegal immigrant families nabbed at the U.S.-Mexico border by 80% from its record high in May. Still, agents arrested more than 850,000 illegal immigrants trying to sneak across the border in fiscal 2019, and officers processed about 126,000 more who showed up at ports of entry without papers but demanded entry. More than 150,000 are known to have evaded border authorities and made it in — and that’s likely a “conservative” estimate.

Child Immigrant Detentions at Record Level

The United States has detained more children trying to cross the nation’s southwest border on their own over the last year than during any other period on record, according to new figures released Tuesday. American immigration authorities apprehended 76,020 minors, most of them from Central America, traveling without their parents in the fiscal year that ended in September — 52 percent more than during the last fiscal year, according to United States Customs and Border Protection. Mexico is experiencing the same surge. Under pressure from the Trump administration, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador stepped up immigration enforcement and detained about 40,500 underage migrants traveling north without their parents in the same period — pushing the total number of these children taken into custody in the region to more than 115,000. “These are numbers that no immigration system in the world can handle, not even in this country,” Mark Morgan, the acting commissioner of United States Customs and Border Protection, told reporters.

Scammers Dupe Thousands, Reap Millions

In the last year, a whopping 26,379 people reported being a victim of some sort of phishing scam. Together they reported nearly $50 million in losses, according to the FBI’s 2018 Internet Crime Report. While the number of reported scams increased slightly from the 25,344 phishing scams reported to the FBI in 2017, the losses skyrocketed by nearly $20 million. Scammers are getting more clever and devious in their phishing attempts. Hackers may use what’s known as social engineering to try and obtain or compromise information about you, which could then be used to gain access to something such as your bank account. Phishing scams are common, but particularly clever phishing attempts can deceive even those who are aware of them. The FBI warned of scammers spoofing legitimate FBI phone numbers in August, so it’s clear that you truly can’t trust any inbound call no matter what the caller ID says.

Twitter Announces Ban on All Political Advertising

Twitter will no longer allow candidates or issue-based organizations to run paid “political” advertisements, company CEO Jack Dorsey announced Wednesday afternoon. “We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally,” Dorsey announced. The new policy will apply not only to ads by candidates for office, but to anyone who wants to “buy ads for issues they want to push.” Twitter will release details on how exactly the new rules will work by November 15, with enforcement beginning on November 22, almost one year before the United States’ next presidential and congressional elections.

Swine Fever Expected to Wipe Out a Quarter of All Pigs

The World Organization for Animal Health says around a quarter of the global pig population is expected to die from African swine fever. The spread of the disease in the past year to countries including China, which has half the world’s pig population, has inflamed a worldwide crisis. Last month, the disease spread from North Korea to South Korea even after Seoul deployed snipers and hunters to keep wild pigs out. Veterinary scientists worldwide are trying to find a vaccine for the disease, but that it’s a “complex challenge” because of the nature of the virus. While the disease does not spread to humans, it is virtually 100% fatal once embedded in pig populations.

Californians Permanently Fleeing Blackouts and Wildfires

As Californians on Tuesday were forced to once again confront the dual threats of wildfires and forced blackouts, the apparent new normal is proving to be too much for some residents. The nation’s largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Corp., will turn off the power for a third time this year to prevent powerful winds from damaging its equipment, which can lead to a blaze igniting. Up to 605,000 customers — about 1.5 million people — in 29 Northern California counties will be affected by this latest round of power cuts starting Tuesday. That means people who had the power go out Saturday and were still just getting the lights back on Monday are now faced with the prospect of being in the dark again for several days. The prospect of dangerous fire conditions combined with ongoing blackouts had many Northern California residents questioning if it was worth it to stay through to the next fire season. “I don’t want to go through this every year,” Judy Borberly told KTVU.

Signs of Coming Recession?

The following are signs that the U.S. economy is steadily weakening: U.S. business hiring has fallen to a 7 year low; Consumer confidence in the United States has now declined for 3 months in a row. Defaults on “subprime” auto loans are happening at the fastest pace since 2008; The percentage of “subprime” auto loans that are at least 60 days delinquent is now higher than it was at any point during the last recession; Vacancies at U.S. shopping malls have hit the highest level since the last recession; U.S. rail carload volumes have plunged to the lowest level in 3 years; Last month, existing home sales in the United States declined by another 2.2 percent; New home prices have fallen to the lowest level in almost 3 years.

Economic News

The Federal Reserve lowered its benchmark interest rate Wednesday by a quarter percentage point for the third time in the past three months. The move is likely to further trim borrowing costs on credit cards, home equity lines, adjustable-rate mortgages and auto loans. The latest reduction, to a range of 1.5% to 1.75%, undoes just a third of the Fed’s nine rate hikes from late 2015 through last year. Credit card rates are generally tied to the prime rate, which in turn is affected by the Fed’s benchmark rate. While the rate eventually should drop by about a quarter percentage point, it likely will take two to three months. The Fed’s prior two rate cuts since July have pushed down average credit card rates to 17.57% from 17.85%.

The nation’s gross domestic product – the value of all goods and services produced in the U.S. – increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.9% in the July-September period, following 2% growth in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said Friday. Consumer spending grew a solid 2.9% in the third quarter, below the blistering 4.6% pace in the second quarter. Consumers generally have shrugged off the trade standoff, which has started to increase retail prices. The risk of a recession has eased somewhat in recent weeks after the U.S. and China agreed to a tentative truce in their trade war that likely suspends future tariffs on Chinese imports but leaves existing duties in place.

Manufacturing made up 11% of gross domestic product in the second quarter, the smallest share of GDP in data going back to 1947 and down from 11.1% in the prior period, a Commerce Department report showed Tuesday. The latest number compares with 13.4% for real estate, 12.8% for professional and business services and 12.3% for governments, according to the figures on GDP by industry.

While a $15/hour minimum wage may sound good and look good on paper, its negative effect on businesses and employees alike is often omitted from the debate. But CNN says layoffs are piling up for retailers as they maneuver to implement the problematic wage hike. Even though Target claims its $13-and-climbing minimum wage is “building a stronger business,” current and former employees with reduced hours and decreased benefits don’t feel stronger or better off – but rather weaker and financially worse off. Workers with the retailer – on condition of anonymity – shared with CNN Business their predicament because of the $15 minimum wage hike. “We’re begging for hours,” said Desire, who works at a Target in Virginia.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting was scheduled for mid-November in Santiago, but President Sebastián Piñera announced the cancellation Wednesday. His administration has struggled to suppress growing demonstrations in the capital city over issues of inequality. President Trump was scheduled to attend the forum Nov. 15-17, during which White House officials said he was planning to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a bid to lock down a “phase one” trade deal with China.

Persecution Watch

Churches in China’s central province of Henan have been forced by the authorities to take down the Ten Commandments and replace them with quotes of President Xi Jinping. Every state-registered “three-self” church and meeting venue in a city in the county of Luoyang received an order to remove the Ten Biblical Commandments from display as part of the authorities’ on-going campaign to “sinicize” (make Chinese) Christianity. In a classic case of Orwell’s Doublethink, China’s concentration camps have been re-labeled as counter-terrorism and de-radicalization centers that make people happy and secure.

Nine Christians were abducted in two separate armed attacks on Christian boarding schools in Kaduna State, Nigeria in early October. On October 3, just after midnight, gunmen entered a school in a remote area and seized its vice-principal, the matron and six female pupils. In a second midnight attack on October 10, 20 gunmen stormed a Government Technical School in the predominantly Christian district of Kajura and abducted the school’s principal, himself a Christian.

The first Chick-fil-A in Great Britain will shut down six months after it opened after a massive protest by a militant group of sex and gender revolutionaries. The Atlanta-based restaurant, one of the most popular in the nation, had opened a franchise in a mall about 90 minutes from London. Reading Pride, an LGBTQ advocacy group, said it was staunchly opposed to Chick-fil-A setting up shop in the UK and certainly in Reading. “The chain’s ethos and moral stance goes completely against our values, and that of the UK as we are a progressive country that has legalized same-sex marriage for some years, and continues to strive towards equality,” read a statement from the group.

UK Gets Brexit Delay, Votes to Hold Early Elections

The European Union granted the UK a new Brexit delay to Jan. 31 next year, a move that temporarily staves off a chaotic U.K. departure from the bloc. The development comes just three days before Britain was due to become the first country ever to leave the 28-nation bloc on Oct 31. The British Parliament on Tuesday voted to hold early elections on Dec. 12. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was selected in a party leadership vote in July, wants a mandate to “get Brexit done.” Opposition parties want to keep close ties to the European Union or stay in the bloc.

Israel Prepares for Iranian Attack

The IDF air defense units and Israeli embassies around the world were on alert Tuesday amidst warnings that Iran may be preparing to launch attacks similar to the strikes on Saudi Arabian oil facilities earlier this month and/or terrorist attacks against Israel and Israeli or Jewish targets. “Iran wants to develop precision-guided missiles that can hit any target in Israel within 5-10 meters. It’s doing it,” Netanyahu said Monday evening during an event at the Jewish Agency.  “Iran wants to use Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen as bases to attack Israel with statistical missiles and precision-guided missiles. That is a great, great danger.”

U.S., Gulf Nations Sanction Iranian Financial Network

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and four other Gulf nations joined the U.S. in imposing sanctions on a financing network controlled by Iran’s military and several men linked to the Tehran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah. Top U.S. Treasury Department officials said the action is the largest ever by the Riyadh-based Terrorist Financing Targeting Center, whose membership also includes the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait. The action is viewed by U.S. officials as a strategically important regional collaboration in the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign effort against Iran…

Islamic State Leader Baghdadi Killed by U.S. Special Forces

Sunday morning President Trump announced that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a special operations raid in northwestern Syria over the weekend. “Last night was a great night for the United States and for the world. A brutal killer, one who has caused so much hardship and death has violently been eliminated,” Trump said from the White House. Al-Baghdadi, the highest-ranking terrorist to be killed or captured since Osama bin Laden’s death in 2011, headed the terrorist organization ISIS for the last five years. Until his death, al-Baghdadi remained one of the few ISIS leaders still at-large as his “caliphate” shrank and supporters were imprisoned. Officials said Baghdadi blew himself up as troops closed in on him. Unofficial sources say a mole inside ISIS helped the U.S. locate Baghdadi.

  • The military operation was dedicated to Kayla Mueller, a young Christian woman who was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered by the Islamic State. Mueller’s mother said Kayla would still be alive if “Obama had been as decisive as Trump.”

ISIS Still Strong Despite Baghdadi’s Death

Killing the Islamic State group’s founder and leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi will have little effect on preventing the terrorist network from conducting future attacks, the top U.S. official for counterterror operations said Wednesday, Russell Travers, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told a congressional panel Despite a consistent U.S.-led campaign to defeat the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria that effectively dismantled its so-called caliphate, the number of fighters in those countries aligned with the group has grown in the last five years from a low point of roughly 1,000 fighters, Travers told the House Homeland Security Committee. As many as 14,000 extremists remain there now, with roughly 2,000 in Syria from foreign countries. The Islamic State group maintains a network of roughly 20 affiliates around the globe, ranging in strength with some as few as hundreds of fighters. The affiliate in Afghanistan and Pakistan, known as ISIS-Khorasan, has thousands, Travers said. “The insurgency has a lot of options,” he added.”

U.S. House Hits Turkey with Strong Sanctions

In a remarkable rebuke of a NATO ally, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a strong sanctions bill that could cripple Turkey’s economy and would punish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan personally by requiring an assessment of his net worth amid questions about his finances in Turkey. The sanctions are retaliation for Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria where they are trying to eradicate ‘terrorist’ Kurds who have been U.S. allies in the fight against President Assad of Syria. Turkey condemned the House vote, saying the sanctions bill is “incompatible with the spirit of our allied relations under NATO.”

Iran, Russia and Turkey Condemn US Troops in Syria

The governments of Iran and Russia issued a joint statement on Tuesday condemning the US military deployment meant to guard oil production facilities in northeastern Syria, ignoring US statements that the deployment was meant to prevent the facilities from being captured by the Islamic State (IS) terror militia and instead framing it as a simple theft of Syria’s natural resources by the US. “Any illegal exploitation of natural resources of a sovereign state without its consent is illegal and that is the view that we share,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. U.S. forces began moving into Syria’s Deir al-Zour province from Iraq after days of President Trump saying he wanted to protect oil fields there.

Governments in Lebanon and Iraq Toppling Amidst Protests

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced the resignation of his government in a televised statement Tuesday afternoon, acceding to the demands of protesters who have brought the countries economy to a near standstill in the last two weeks. The resignation also came despite violent attacks on protesters by supporters of the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi’ite terror militia Hezbollah. Meanwhile, two of the main supporters of Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi announced on Tuesday that they supported his removal from office, possibly laying the groundwork for a new governing regime in Baghdad.

Argentina Peronists Regain Power

Argentina’s Peronists celebrated their return to power after incumbent President Mauricio Macri conceded defeat in a dramatic election that likely swung the country back to the center-left, saw the return of a divisive former president, and threatened to rattle financial markets. Thousands of jubilant supporters of Alberto Fernández and his vice presidential running mate, ex-president Cristina Fernández, waved sky-blue and white Argentine flags and chanted “We’re coming back! We’re coming back!” The election was dominated by concerns over the country’s economic woes and rising poverty, with voters rejecting austerity measures that Macri insisted were needed to revive the struggling economy. Fernandez said he would need the support of Macri’s administration to reconstruct what he called the inherited “ashes” of Argentina.

North Korea Launches More Missiles

South Korea’s military said North Korea on Thursday fired two projectiles toward its eastern sea, extending a streak of weapons tests apparently aimed at ramping up pressure on Washington over a stalemate in nuclear negotiations. Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the weapons were fired from a region near the North Korean capital of Pyongyang. The North’s latest launch follows statements of displeasure over the slow pace of nuclear negotiations with the United States and demands that the Trump administration ease sanctions and pressure on Pyongyang. Earlier this month, the North test-fired an underwater-launched ballistic missile for the first time in three years.

Earthquakes

Tens of thousands of residents who evacuated a sprawling Northern California wildfire fueled by high winds and drought conditions were rocked by another slap from Mother Nature on Monday when a magnitude 3.3 earthquake rattled the area. No damage or injuries were immediately reported from the temblor, centered a few miles from the roaring Kincade Fire, that struck at 1:10 a.m.

The second strong earthquake to strike the southern Philippines this week killed five people on Thursday. The quake struck about 25 miles southwest of the city of Davao on the island of Mindanao. It had a magnitude of 6.5. At least eight people were killed Tuesday when a 6.6 magnitude earthquake struck about 60 miles southwest of Davao. Some of the buildings destroyed Thursday had been damaged in Tuesday’s quake. More than 12,700 people from nearly 60 villages were in evacuation centers when Thursday’s quake happened. At least 395 people were injured in Tuesday’s 6.6 magnitude quake, and more than 2,700 houses and buildings, including schools and hospitals, were damaged.

Wildfires

Residents of north San Bernardino were forced to flee overnight when a fast-moving wildfire engulfed several homes as it raced through neighborhoods early Thursday. Meanwhile, a second fire forced more evacuations in the Jurupa Valley near Riverside, California. Also on Wednesday, a fast-moving wildfire in Ventura County, California came dangerously close to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Nearby residents fled with whatever belongings they could carry and scrambled to get horses and other livestock out of harm’s way. . The fire burned more than 2 square miles within just a few hours. It was 5% contained Thursday morning The Easy Fire was threatening 7,000 homes affecting 26,000 residents, officials said.

The Getty Fire began on the west side of the 405 freeway near the Getty Center about 1:30 a.m. Monday when a tree branch was blown onto a power line by strong winds. By Wednesday, it had spread to just over 1 square mile and threatened more than 7,000 structures. In Northern California, firefighters appeared to be making headway on the Kincade Fire, which had burned nearly 120 square miles and was 45% contained as of Wednesday night. The fire, which started on Oct. 23 near Geyserville, has destroyed at least 266 structures, including 133 homes. About 126,000 people were under evacuation orders, although many were allowed to return home Wednesday. More than a million people remained without electricity Wednesday morning due to precautionary shutoffs aimed to prevent wildfires. All told, estimates say the outages affect more than 1.5 million people when taking into account household size and other factors.

A raging fire has destroyed much of Shuri Castle, a 500-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Japanese island of Okinawa. Seven buildings in the castle complex, including the main hall, burned to the ground. Windy weather helped fuel the flames, the AP report said.

Weather

More than 20 million US residents were living in areas under a tornado watch Thursday, forecasters with the National Weather Service said. Watches were in effect for parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington D.C., and West Virginia. The watch is in effect until midnight EDT.

Buildings were damaged and trees and power lines knocked down as the remnants of Tropical Storm Olga continued to march across the Southeast Saturday afternoon after spawning at least two tornadoes in Alabama. A museum housing a collection of classic cars valued at $6 million, including a Lincoln once owned by Elvis Presley, was also heavily damaged by the winds in Tupelo. Power was out to more than 130,000 homes and businesses in Louisiana Saturday morning. Flooding was also reported in parts of the state. A gust of 73 mph was recorded in Mandeville, across Lake Pontchartrain from the Louis Armstrong International Airport outside New Orleans.

A deluge of snow. Booming thunder and high winds. These extreme weather events are rarely seen at the same time — and they’re even rarer in Texas during the fall. But residents of Amarillo, Texas, experienced a thunder snowstorm on Thursday, bringing early snow and a weather phenomenon to the Texas Panhandle. Thundersnow is rare — studies show that only .07% of the snow in the United States is associated with thunder or lightning. The thunder snowstorm dropped 5.5 inches of snow in Amarillo.

  • From heat to tornadoes to hail, 2019 has been an eventful year for inclement natural events in Texas. In May, a massive storm produced more than 5 inches of hail in the state. Later that month, two separate tornadoes struck the same Texas town in the same day. And a South Texas heat wave set a record with a heat index of 128 degrees in June.

A key Australia river is disappearing amid an awful drought, leaving high and dry those who depend on it for drinking water and other uses. The Darling River, about 500 miles west of Sydney, has turned to parched earth pocked by stagnant pools of water. Drought conditions have plagued the river over the last two years. Locals also blame the government for poor handling of the river, specifically drawing water from it for irrigation and other uses downstream. Warmer temperatures aren’t helping. More than a dozen large towns in the same region face a “high risk” of running out of water. Last summer was the hottest on record, according to Reuters, and another scorching one is expected this year in Menindee, where temperatures regularly top 100 degrees.

 

 

Signs of the Times

October 24, 2019

­­So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27)

Judge Rules Dad Has Say in Gender ‘Transition’ of 7-Year-Old

The judge presiding over the case of James Younger, the seven-year old boy whom the mother wants to put through chemical castration via a gender “transition, ruled that the father will have joint conservatorship over James, which includes making joint medical decisions for the child. Mr. Younger and his ex-wife, Dr. Anne Georgulas, were in court last week fighting over custody and decision-making abilities for James and his twin, Jude. Dr. Georgulas wants to continue to “transition” James “into” a girl called “Luna.” Mr. Younger wanted to take a “wait and see” approach rather than start the child on puberty blockers. Eleven out of 12 jurors decided Monday that Mr. Younger should not be granted Sole Managing Conservatorship over his twin boys. Dr. Georgulas admitted in court she is not actually the twins’ biological mother and used in-vitro fertilization via an egg donor to gestate them. Judge Kim Cooks also put a gag order on the father so that he cannot speak to the press about the case and decided that the father is not required to pay attorney fees. The judge’s decision means that the Save James website will have to be shut down.

Businesses Cut Ties with Church over Sermon on Transgenderism

A Missouri pastor’s Bible-based sermon on transgenderism has sparked vocal opposition from the local LGBT community and several local businesses to cut ties with the church. The Oct. 13 sermon by Keith Simon of The Crossing Church in Columbia, Mo., was based on Genesis 1:27 which “teaches that God created two genders,” Simon said. “Gender is not a social construct. Men and women are foundational to God’s plan. God is not pleased when we blur genders.” But Pastor Simon also said Christians must approach the issue with compassion for others because everyone – believers and transgender people alike – is broken.  However, Simon’s sermon prompted a Change.org petition urging the True/False Film Festival and Ragtag Cinema – both of which are sponsored by the church – to cut their ties with the congregation. The church began the sponsorships a decade ago as a way to partner with the community. “It’s hate speech, and it’s harmful,” the petition said of the sermon. The petition pledged a boycott of the festival and cinema until they severed their partnerships with the church

Transgender Cyclist Dominates Women Competitors

Transgender cyclist Rachel McKinnon keeps dominating women’s cycling. And she keeps creating controversy all the way. Last weekend at the Masters Track Cycling World Championships in Manchester, England, the 37-year-old Canadian first set a world record in qualifying for the 35-39 age category 200-meter sprint, then went on to defend her title in the finals. Her success, however, has been overshadowed by frustrated competitors. In an interview with Sky News, former cycling champion Victoria Hood said, “It is not complicated. The science is there and it says that it is unfair. The male body, which has been through male puberty, still retains its advantage; that doesn’t go away. I have sympathy with them. They have the right to do sport but not a right to go into any category they want.”

Professor Fired for Saying Polar Bears are Thriving

Nobody has done more to sink the claim that climate change is endangering polar bears than zoologist Susan Crockford — and she paid for it with her job. After 15 years as an adjunct assistant professor, Ms. Crockford said the University of Victoria rejected without explanation in May her renewal application, despite her high profile as a speaker and author stemming from her widely cited research on polar bears. Ms. Crockford accused officials at the Canadian university of bowing to “outside pressure,” the result of her research showing that polar bear populations are stable and even thriving, not plummeting as a result of shrinking Arctic sea ice, defying claims of the climate change movement. Her dismissal, which she announced Wednesday in a post on her Polar Bear Science blog, has spurred alarm over the implications for academic freedom and the rise of the “cancel culture” for professors and scientists who challenge climate catastrophe predictions.

Witches Gather Friday Night to Cast Spells Against Trump

As if battling House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry against him wasn’t enough, President Donald Trump will next have to face a “binding spell” cast by “thousands” of witches late Friday night. As Halloween approaches at the end of the month, several media outlets are reporting witches who oppose President Trump are planning to cast a “binding spell” on his administration. Such reports of witchcraft being used against the President are nothing new. Witches have been trying to cast spells against Trump since his inauguration in 2017. Scheduled for Oct. 25 at 11:59 pm, these self-proclaimed “witches” are planning to conduct a ritual which is meant to “bind,” but not harm the President unlike a “curse” or a “hex.” Last year, their 13,000-member Facebook group was casting spells against President Trump on a regular basis.

Opioid Makers/Distributors Settle Landmark Lawsuit

A key drug maker and multiple distributors facing a historic opioid lawsuit reached a landmark settlement Monday with two Ohio counties suing makers and distributors of the highly addictive painkillers. Terms of the settlement involving McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc., AmerisourceBergen Corp. and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. amounts to about $260 million. A possible trial involving Walgreens was put on hold. U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster has encouraged a settlement, which would provide affected communities the funds to combat opioid addiction much sooner than the lengthy process of going through a trial and the likely appeals afterward.

Persecution Watch

A school-board member in the United Kingdom was suspended for questioning a staff decision to introduce, without consultation, LGBT Pride Month and LGBT books to the school library. Maureen Griffith, 74, has served since the early 1990s as a governor at the Alperton Community School in Brent, North London, reported Christian Concern, a division of the Christian Legal Center, which is representing her. “What has taken place at this school is a microcosm of what is happening across our society and sends a clear message to teachers, governors and students: if you oppose the LGBT agenda you will be silenced and punished,” said Andrea Williams chief executive of the center.

A public university that warned faculty to persuade professors not to grade based on merit. The College Fix reports such workshops are popping up at universities from Washington, D.C. to Idaho. Boise State University is hosting an event next week called “Inclusive Teaching Means Inclusive Grading, Too.” A workshop of the exact same name at University of Tennessee-Knoxville aimed “to engage instructors in conversations and activities designed to foreground diversity and inclusion in considerations of assessment and grading practices.” The University of Michigan held a faculty workshop with a similar name.

A 50-year-old Palestinian man, who converted to Judaism this year just before Rosh Hashana, has been held in captivity and tortured by Palestinian Authority (PA) forces over the past two weeks. The victim is a resident of Hebron and works at a supermarket in the Jerusalem area. He claims that his family had set him up for arrest in order to prove their allegiance to the Palestinian regime. His own siblings have mercilessly beaten him, while the PA has burned his arms and legs, Ynet reported.

Communist authorities destroyed a 3,000-seat megachurch over the weekend, using a large excavator to tear apart the building as members and citizens watched helplessly, according to China Aid. The large four-story building was located in the province of Anhui which has about 60 million residents. The congregation was part of China’s officially recognized network of churches. Communist officials lacked the proper legal paperwork to order the destruction, China Aid reported. “This is yet another clear example showing the escalation of religious persecution today by the Chinese Communist regime,” said Bob Fu, president of China Aid.

On Russian TV, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov urged nations in the Arab world to band together to wipe Israel off the map. In an interview aired Tuesday, the head of the Chechen Republic told  Russian television network RT that Arab nations in the Middle East should join forces to attack Israel. In a meeting in Jordan in August, Kadyrov called Jews “the main enemy of Islam.” Around 95% of the citizens of the Chechen Republic are Muslim

Economic News

A fresh round of U.S. tariffs on $7.5 billion in European goods took effect Friday in retaliation for what the World Trade Organization deemed were illegal subsidies for airplane maker Airbus. The case, which wove its way through the system for nearly 15 years, culminated in a ruling against the European Union. The new tariffs apply to a wide range of imports from the EU but are concentrated mostly on the four countries deemed responsible for the subsidies: France, Germany, Spain and the U.K. Large civil aircraft will be hit with 10% tariffs, while everything else included in this round will be hit with 25% tariffs. However, wine, cheese, fruit, seafood and clothing will also be hit with tariffs.

In a surprise move, opposition and rebel British lawmakers voted Saturday to postpone an important Brexit vote, legally forcing Prime Minister Boris Johnson to request a delay to Britain’s departure from the European Union. A reluctant Johnson sent a letter requesting the delay late Saturday night, but he also made clear that he personally opposed delaying the U.K.’s exit, scheduled for Oct. 31. Johnson has repeatedly vowed not to delay Britain’s EU exit, saying that any delay increases the likelihood of a “no-deal” Brexit, which experts warn could harm Britain’s economy and lead to border chaos. But, on Friday Johnson said that if lawmakers want more time to scrutinize his Brexit deal, “they can have it, but they have to agree to a general election on Dec. 12.” He would need two-thirds support in Parliament for an election to be set. His last push for an election was rejected.

Israel

After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to form a coalition government, Israel’s political process continued on Wednesday evening as Blue and White leader Benny Gantz formally accepted the mandate to form a government during a brief ceremony at the President’s Residence. A few hours later at midnight, the clock started ticking on a 28-day period during which Gantz will attempt to form a governing coalition and avoid a third Knesset election that no one wants but which many analysts have said appears to be highly likely. While Netanyahu remains at the helm of his Likud party, his announcement marked the second time this year that he has been unable to form a government.

Syria

Defense Secretary Mark Esper says that under current plans all U.S. troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq and the military will continue to conduct operations against the Islamic State group to prevent its resurgence. The developments made clear that one of President Donald Trump’s rationales for withdrawing troops from Syria was not going to come to pass any time soon. “It’s time to bring our soldiers back home,” he said Wednesday. But they are not coming home. Reports of sporadic clashes continued between Turkish-backed fighters and the U.S.-allied Syria Kurdish forces despite a five-day cease-fire agreement hammered out last Friday between U.S. and Turkish leaders. Hundreds of trucks carrying American troops have crossed into Iraq in a long military convoy Monday, marking the largest withdrawal of US forces from Syria. The vehicles were pelted with rotten potatoes and tomatoes by Syrian-Kurdish people who feel betrayed by the withdrawal.

  • President Donald Trump is considering a proposal to leave about 200 American troops in eastern Syria to combat ISIS and prevent Syrian government forces and their Russian allies from seizing control of oil production facilities in the region, Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed Monday.
  • President Trump announced Wednesday that conditions have been met between Turkey and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) for what he called a “permanent ceasefire” between the two sides and that the United States is lifting sanctions on Ankara that were implemented following the invasion of northern Syria.

Afghanistan

The United States is already reducing the size of its troop force in Afghanistan despite the lack of a peace deal with the Taliban, at a time when President Trump has expressed reluctance to remain engaged in costly wars abroad. In a news conference on Monday, the top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Austin S. Miller, confirmed that the size of the American force in the country had already quietly dropped by 2,000 over the last year, down to roughly 12,000. The eventual force size could drop to as low as 8,600. Rather than a formal withdrawal order, they are reducing the force through a gradual process of not replacing troops as they cycle out.

The Taliban stormed a checkpoint in northern Afghanistan, killing at least 15 policemen in the latest attack by insurgents, an Afghan provincial official said Tuesday. The multi-pronged attack on the checkpoint in the Ali Abad district of northern Kunduz province began late on Monday night and set off an hours-long gun battle, according to Ghulam Rabani Rabani, a provincial council member. Along with the 15 policemen killed, two other officers were wounded in the assault, he said. The attack came as Afghan troops have been battling the Taliban for the past few weeks in Kunduz’s Dashti Archi area.

United Kingdom

Authorities found 39 people dead in a truck in an industrial park in England on Wednesday and arrested the driver on suspicion of murder in one of Britain’s worst human-smuggling tragedies. The truck and the trailer with the people inside apparently took separate circuitous journeys. British police said they believe the container went from the port of Zeebrugge in Belgium to Purfleet, England, where it arrived early Wednesday. Police believe the truck traveled from Northern Ireland to Dublin, where it took a ferry to Holyhead in Wales before picking up the trailer at the dockside in England. Authorities say they have no idea how long the container was in Belgium. The truck was registered in Bulgaria to a company owned by an Irish citizen, but its point of origin was unclear. The 39 victims were Chinese nationals, police said Thursday.

Spain

The conflict with the restive northeastern region of Catalonia has entered a “new phase” with the sentencing of its former separatist leaders to prison this week, said Spain’s caretaker prime minister, Pedro Sánchez. On Friday, the Catalan independence movement delivered a new show of force in Barcelona. Five columns of separatist protesters marched from different parts of the region into the city amid a general strike. Friday afternoon’s demonstration drew about 525,000 people, according to local police. The large rally followed days of unrest in Barcelona and other Catalan cities to protest the jailing of nine separatist leaders over a failed bid to break away from Spain in 2017. The Socialist government of Mr. Sánchez has vowed to end the turmoil after protesters clashed with the police and set fires in the streets of Barcelona and other cities for four nights.

Bangladesh

Four people were killed Sunday when Bangladesh police fired on a crowd after clashes erupted over a Facebook post that angered Muslims. Thousands of people took to the streets in the town of Borhanuddin, in Bangladesh’s southern Bhola district, to protest the post that allegedly criticized the Prophet Muhammad. The offending post was published Friday from the account of a 25-year-old Hindu man in the area. The man told police his Facebook account was hacked. An angry crowd gathered in a field near the police station on Sunday demanding justice. Police said they had no plans to apply deadly force as the protest was calm at first, but some in the crowd became violent and started to throw stones and bricks at officers. Ehsanullah said police initially fired pellet guns in a bid to disperse the crowd after up to 100 people tried to break into the room where the officers were taking refuge. When that didn’t work, they used live bullets to protect themselves from the mob. Dozens of people, including police, were injured.

Puerto Rico

Officials with the Department of Housing and Urban Development purposely missed a September deadline to release billions of dollars in hurricane recovery funds to Puerto Rico, saying they don’t trust the U.S. territory’s housing agency to handle the money properly. Some members of Congress said the move violated federal law that was set in the appropriations bill that included the funds. The move was the latest in the continuing dispute between the Trump administration and Puerto Rico over federal support following Hurricane Maria, which devastated parts of the island just over two years ago.

Venezuela

Bartering at the pump has taken off as hyperinflation makes Venezuela’s paper currency, the bolivar, hard to find and renders some denominations all but worthless, so that nobody will accept them. Without cash in their wallets, drivers often hand gas station attendants a bag of rice, cooking oil or whatever they have. This barter system, while perhaps the envy of cash-strapped drivers outside the country, is just another symptom of bedlam in Venezuela – socialism gone wild.

Chile

Protests and violence in Chile spilled over into a new day and raged into Sunday night despite the president cancelling a subway fare hike that has prompted violent demonstrations. Officials in the Santiago region said three people died in fires at two looted supermarkets early Sunday – among 60 Walmart-owned outlets that have been vandalized, and the company said many stores did not open during the day. Five more people later were found dead in the basement of a burned warehouse and were not employees, authorities said. Authorities said 10,500 soldiers and police officers were patrolling the streets in Santiago as state of emergency and curfew remained in effect for six Chilean cities. Security forces used tear gas and jets of water to try to disperse crowds.

Environment

Thanks to unusually warm temperatures high above Antarctica this month, the ozone hole shrank to its smallest size on record, scientists reported Monday. An annual phenomenon in the stratosphere above Antarctica, the ozone hole is a dramatic thinning of the ozone layer that’s typically boosted in size by colder temperatures. This is the third time in 40 years that weather systems have caused warm temperatures that limit ozone depletion. The ozone layer is important because it acts like a sunscreen, blocking potentially harmful ultraviolet energy from reaching our planet’s surface. Without it, humans and animals can experience increased rates of skin cancer and other ailments such as cataracts.

A Chesapeake Bay landmark has been swallowed up by rising waters. Tens of thousands of teachers and schoolchildren have visited the Fox Island Education Center over the past 40 years, learning important lessons about Chesapeake Bay’s waters, vegetation, wildlife and ecology. Those lessons will be no more. The education center is closing at the end of its current season. Rising sea levels have claimed so much of the surrounding marshes and wetlands that it has become too hazardous for visitors, a problem that is exacerbated when severe weather hits the area. The island’s marshes and shallow grass beds that are now inundated by water protected the land from erosion. Now that they are gone, the island is washing away.

Wildfires

Rapidly spreading wildfires have forced evacuations in Northern California and Southern California. The town of Geyserville in Sonoma County was ordered to evacuate about 6:30 a.m. Thursday after the Kincade Fire grew rapidly overnight to over 15.6 square miles amid strong winds. Meanwhile, another fire broke out in north San Bernardino, about 55 miles east of Los Angeles. The Old Water Fire forced evacuations of about 80 homes. The fire was burning about 4 miles east of California State University, San Bernardino.

Power has been cut to more than 190,000 homes and businesses in Central and Northern California due to a high wildfire threat. PG&E has shut off power to about 179,000 customers in parts of 17 counties. About half of the SoCal shutoffs are in San Bernadino County, where a wildfire the Old Water Fire is burning. PG&E is warning that even more widespread outages are possible this weekend if the fire threat continues. Meanwhile, Southern California Edison has cut power to 15,000 in five counties, and is considering blacking out a total of nearly 300,000 customers in seven counties, according to the company’s website.

Weather

At least three tornadoes spawned by Tropical Storm Nestor overturned at least one semi-trailer on Interstate 4 and caused damage to homes and other buildings in central and southwest Florida. Nearly 18,000 people were without power in Florida at 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning. The remnants of what was once Tropical Storm Nestor damaged several homes early Sunday in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Nestor brought more than just tornadoes and rain to Florida over the weekend. The storm also pushed red tide closer to shore in some parts of Southwest Florida, bringing with it dead fish and sea turtles and causing respiratory issues for some people.

Severe storms ripped through the South Sunday night into early Monday, spawning a damaging tornado in Dallas and contributing to the death of one person in Arkansas. In Dallas, thousands of public school students in Dallas will be attending classes in different locations for at least the rest of the school year after the strong tornado left a 15-mile-long trail of destruction in the northern part of the city. Three people have been hospitalized for non-life-threatening injuries. Several homes and businesses were damaged, power lines downed and tree limbs were scattered across roadways. The city said there were reports of gas leaks north of Walnut Hill in north Dallas. Seven people escaped a structure that collapsed in northwest Dallas. As of 8 a.m. Monday, more than 242,000 customers were without power in Texas, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri and Louisiana.

  • Weather will continue to grow more extreme as the end-times continue to ramp up(Daniel 9:26b, Ezekiel 38:22, Luke 21:25, Revelation 8:7, 11:19, 16:8,11)

 

Apocalypse Soon? (Part One)

October 21, 2019

People Get Ready

The world is careening out of control, just as the Bible prophesied thousands of years ago. However, there are still many Biblical prophesies that remain to be fulfilled before Jesus returns.

  • Worldwide events, though, are accelerating so rapidly toward fulfilling these prophesies that Jesus’ return could well happen in the next ten to twenty years.

Unlike our Signs of the Times newsletter, which is published on a weekly basis about current events, the Apocalypse Soon posts provide a deeper understanding of the end-times, focusing on the prophecies of what’s coming and what Christians should do during these perilous times.

  • Signs of the Times has a micro focus while Apocalypse Soon has a broader, macro perspective.

This first Apocalypse Soon post is an overall summary of where we stand now and what to expect.

  • We’re not talking about becoming doomsday preppers concerned only about survival, but rather becoming spiritually ready to ‘arise and shine’ within the coming deep darkness :
    • Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. (Isaiah 60:1-2)

The Apocalypse

First, let’s understand what the term Apocalypse really means. The world uses the term to describe the catastrophic destruction of the world, often resulting in a dystopian society in the aftermath, as imagined in many books and movies.

  • Webster defines this worldly usage of the word Apocalypse as “foreboding imminent disaster or final doom.”

However, the term originated in the Bible and doesn’t mean that at all. It’s a Greek term, apokalupsis.

  • Strong’s Dictionary (G602) defines it to mean, “disclosure: – appearing, coming, lighten, manifestation, be revealed, revelation.”

It is the word used to entitle the last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation:

  • “The revelation (apokalupsis) of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place.” (Revelation 1:1 ESV)

This revelation was given to Jesus who passed it down to the Apostle John to record for posterity.

  • Because this revelation, and John’s Book of Revelation, ultimately prophesies the destruction of the earth, the world has appropriated the word to mean “imminent disaster” without the context of the rest of Jesus’ revelation – which includes the bringing forth of a new earth, new heavens and a new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-2)

There are many other end-time prophecies contained in other books of the Bible.

  • In this series of blog posts, we will bring all of this together into one coherent study of the end-times, with the return of Jesus as our primary focus.

Jesus is Coming Again Very Soon

Jesus said He was coming again and we need to be ready – but ready for what?

  • We long for Jesus’ return because then we will be with Him forever.
    • But before that happens, though, difficult, perilous times are coming which will test the faith of many Christians because Jesus is going to shake and break this world like never before.

 I believe that Jesus’ return could well occur in the next 10-20 years, but no one can know for sure, because even Jesus doesn’t know:

  • “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.(Mark 13:32)

Notice, though, that the Scripture says we won’t know the day or the hour – that’s why Jesus tells us to keep watch for the signs of the coming end-times just as we mark the seasons:

  • At the end of His Olivet Discourse about what the signs of the end-times would be, Jesus said, “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!” (Matthew 24:32-33)

Some Christians believe that Christ could come at any moment now, but that’s not possible because there are still many Biblical prophecies that remain to be fulfilled – and Jesus’ testimony is the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10)

  • However, many of the signs that Jesus and the Old Testament prophets gave to us are rapidly falling into place – wars and rumors of wars, famines, pestilence, earthquakes, extreme weather and the gospel being preached to all nations – so it is coming relatively soon.

We are currently in the period Jesus calls the beginning of sorrows:

  • And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 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 24:6-8)

Signs of the End-Times

The re-establishment of Israel in 1948 fulfilled several Old Testament prophesies and was a clear indication that the countdown to Jesus’ Second Coming had begun:

  • Numerous passages in Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah prophesied that Jews would be brought back from all parts of the world to repopulate the land that God promised to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
    • This was first thought to apply only to the return of the tribes of Israel from the Assyrian and Babylonian exiles. But they never fully regained full official control of this vast territory until 1948.
  • Isaiah foresaw this remarkable event in which Israel was re-created when the peace documents settling World War II were signed, in effect establishing Israel in a single-day as Isaiah prophesied:
    • Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment? (Isaiah 66:8)

Since that time, we have seen substantial progress toward many of the end-time signs given to us throughout the Bible. However, unlike Israel being reconstituted in a single-day, most signs build up over time and do not occur all at once (although there are some that the Bible says specifically occur in one day).

  • The visions that the prophets see are the end-result of forces that build over time (e.g. the increase in knowledge, the number of earthquakes, the moral degradation of society, etc.)
    • For example, the Babylonian conquest of Israel played out over many years and there were three stages of exiles, even though the prophets only saw the end result.
  • So too do we see the end-time prophecies evolving instead of happening in one fell swoop. After all, “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2Peter 3:8)

Signs Yet to Be Completely Fulfilled

There are many end-time signs that have yet to be fully realized, but many of them have gotten very close, while others have begun ramping up.

Increase in Transportation and Knowledge – In a vision, God revealed to Daniel that: “But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” (Daniel 12:4)

  • In Daniel’s time, the fastest mode of transportation was via horseback. With the advent of the automobile and aircraft in the 1900s, the world has indeed vastly increased the ability of society to ‘run to and fro’ faster and farther. We’ve even sent men to the moon and are gearing up now for missions to Mars.
  • With the advent of computers and the internet, knowledge (or the access to knowledge) has increased in leaps and bounds to the point that we’re overloaded with information. Science has also been vastly increasing our understanding of the world and our genetic makeup, to the such that we are now genetically altering foods and performing genetic engineering on humans to cure disease. But many worry that we are ill-equipped to play God and will only cause unintended catastrophic consequences.
    • How much more progress in travel and knowledge are required for this prophesy to be fulfilled? Time will tell, but I believe that we can already check this one off as having been met.

Increase in Earthquakes – In Matthew 24 (the Olivet Discourse), the disciples ask what signs to look for: “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3)

  • In Jesus’ answer shown above (Matthew 24:6-8), earthquakes and famines were two key events Jesus said to look out for: “and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” (Matthew 24:7)
    • According to Wikipedia’s list of earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater, the 15th century had 2, the 17th century 7, the 18th century 13, the 19th century 29 and the 20th century 123.
    • Clearly, the number of large earthquakes has been increasing dramatically. Already, the 21st century has seen 12 (according to the British Geological Survey).
      • How will we know how much is too many, signifying that the last days are upon us? Can’t say, exactly, but when Jesus opens the sixth seal, “there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood.” (Revelation 6:12) By this time, the world will know it is well along through the Great Tribulation.
      • Two even greater earthquakes will occur, the first ending the second “woe” – “And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city [Jerusalem] fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.” (Revelation 11:13 KJV)
      • The last one prophesied occurs when the angel pours out the seventh vial – “And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.” (Revelation 16:18)
    • Before those catastrophic events, the increase in earthquakes shows us that we are in the time period Jesus called “the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8, KJV), translated “birth pains” in the ESV, which is the literal translation, sorrows being implied).

Increase in Famines

  • Similarly, there has also been an increase in the number and severity of famines around the world:
    • Again, according to Wikipedia, the past 500 years have seen a large increase in the number of famines, from 6 in the 15th century, to 24 in the 17th century, to 30 in the 19th century, to 44 in the 20th The first decade of the 21st century recorded 12 famines, putting us on pace of 120 famines this century (although I believe Christ will return well before then).
    • The severity of famines has also increased, causing more and more death as total population increased. In the first half of the 20th century, seven famines killed an estimated 18 to 26 million people. From 1959 to 1961, the Great Chinese Famine is estimated to have killed more than 36 million people. Today, famines in Africa, North Korea, India and other areas of the world continue to add to the increasing numbers.
      • Again, there is no clear delineator to say that a certain number of famines means we have crossed the threshold from the “beginning of birth pains” to the birth of the Great Tribulation. But, the indicators suggest we are getting closer and closer.
      • The only mention of famine in Revelation is when Babylon is brought down in “one day” – “Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.” (Revelation 18:8)
        • We have to be very careful interpreting what “one day” means, since “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2Peter 3:8)

Increase in Pestilence – We have been seeing dramatic increases in the number of scary diseases (i.e. pestilence) in the form of microbes, bacteria and viruses that threaten to become epidemics or pandemics because many have become resistant to drugs and antibiotics.

  • The number and severity of outbreaks of Ebola, SARS, Cholera, Lassa fever, Marburg virus, MERS, MRSA, C-diff, Zika and the like have been steadily increasing, especially in the poorer sections of the world.
  • In addition, many viruses and bacteria have evolved to become resistant to the drugs that used to kill them, portending even greater increases in the number and severity of illnesses

Increase in Extreme Weather – Extreme weather is also an end-time sign and we see the frequency and severity of serious weather events rapidly increasing. Some call it global warming or climate change, but whether or not it is human-caused is immaterial, because the Bible prophesies in many places that our weather will grow increasingly severe.

  • End-time verses such as Daniel 9:26b speaks of a great flood; Ezekiel 38:22 foretells flooding rain and great hailstones; Luke 21:25 forecasts the sea and the waves roaring; Revelation 11:19 foresees lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail; while Revelation 16:8 prophesies that “the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him [i.e. the angel] to scorch men with fire” (i.e. global warming to the extreme).

Increase in Murders – We also are seeing the ramping up of one of the four ‘Horsemen of the Apocalypse”

  • The Second Horseman brings a murderous spirit into the world: “Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.” (Rev. 6:4)
    • This is not warfare but rather individuals stirred up to commit murder, and we see that happening across the world, and right here in the U.S. where there were 255 mass shootings in the first eight months of 2019, way above previous annual totals, with ‘only’ 90 mass shootings in total from the years 1966-2012.

Economic Depression – Another sign that has not yet appeared in full is a severe economic depression. We had the so-called Great Recession which hit the world from 2007 to 2009, but that was only a harbinger of the economic doom the end-times will bring forth.

  • A severe economic downturn will be one of the forces (war being the other) that will bring the anti-Christ to take over global authority
    • This will ultimately culminate in the Third Horseman coming to fruition: “behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius and three quarts of barley for a denarius.” (Revelation 6:5-6)
      • These prices are about 10 times the normal prices in those days of old, and indicate severe shortages and horrendous inflation much like that seen in Venezuela over the past 3 years.

Gospel Preached to All the World – Although the Gospel has not yet been preached to every person, the Scripture actually specifies nations, not people

  • Through the miracle of computers and the internet, the goal of reaching every nation with the gospel has virtually been attained, but there are still a few people groups to go.

Increase in Persecution – In addition, persecution of Christians and Jews will also increase as we move deeper and deeper into the end-times, just as Matthew 24:9 prophesies:  “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.”

  • The full realization of this prophecy is seen in Revelation 13:7 which says, “It was granted to him [ i.e. the anti-Christ] to make war with the saints and to overcome them.”
  • Reverend Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son, reported that over a recent 10-year period, six-hundred-thousand Christians were killed because of their faith. The Center for the Study of Global Christianity says 900,000 Christians have been martyred in the last decade, 90,000 a year.
    • While there is some dispute over the actual number, there are at least thousands, if not tens of thousands of Christians martyred each year which go largely unreported in the mainstream media while they focus on Islamaphobia.

Increase in Self-Centeredness – The Apostle Paul described the end-times as being a time of self-gratification:

  • “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2Timothy 3:1-5)
    • This certainly captures what is going on in our world right now, with secular humanism exalting self above all else, and the fulfillment of fleshly desires over the things of the Spirit

Increase in Wars – In Jesus’ Olivet Discourse, He said the end-times would be marked by “wars and rumors of wars.” (Matthew 24:6)

  • According to Wikipedia’s list of wars, the past 500 years have seen a tremendous increase in the frequency of wars from 29 in the 15th century, to 75 in the 17th century, to 278 in the 20th
  • The first decade of the 21st century saw 55 wars, putting humanity on pace for 550 wars over the course of the full 100 years (but Jesus is likely to return well before then).
  • Not only have the number of wars increased, but the intensity has as well. We’ve progressed rapidly from hand-to-hand combat to chariots to guns to bombs to missiles and atomic weapons, which were used to end World War II. Weapons of mass destruction are now in the hands of many nations.
    • How much more increase is required to fulfill the visions in Revelation? Not much.

Jerusalem as the Epicenter – The war that will usher in the anti-Christ and the seven-year Tribulation will revolve around Israel, with Jerusalem as the epicenter. Scripture is clear that God will judge the nations based on their treatment of Israel:

  • “Behold, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of staggering to all the surrounding peoples. The siege of Jerusalem will also be against Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it.” (Zechariah 12:2-3)
  • Israel has indeed become the center of worldwide concern as many Middle Eastern nations seek her annihilation. And, as Ezekiel prophesied in Chapters 38-39, the final war (Armageddon, centered around the hill of Megiddo in Israel) will also involve Russia (Rosh, Ezekiel 3:2) and Persia (Ezekiel 38:5, modern day Iran).
    • And, wonder of wonders, Russia and Iran have just recently become allies, with Russian troops now assisting Iran in their support of Syria’s King Assad and his war against internal rebels, bringing Russian and Iranian troops within Syria close to Israel’s borders. What’s more, Russia is helping Iran with its nuclear program, eventually yielding Iranian nuclear weapons, despite all the sanctions and treaties now in place with Iran.
    • However, this final war, which is won by Jesus Christ, is not the next one that will usher in the anti-Christ and trigger the seven-year Tribulation.
  • The next Middle East war, not the last one, will usher in the anti-Christ, the beast in Revelation 13 who will end the war by signing a peace pact with all the involved nations as described in Daniel 9:27:
    • Then he [i.e. the anti-Christ] shall confirm a covenant with many for one week
      • In this section of Daniel, one week (or seven days) is equivalent to seven years and this war ushers in the seven-year Tribulation as well as the anti-Christ who will seem like the world’s savior by bringing forth peace, but will actually be the instrument of Satan in his final attempt to expunge God and Christians out of existence.

The Seven-Year Tribulation

The 7-year tribulation, while will actually be quite peaceful for 3.5 years for everyone except Christians and Jews.

  • This will be the time-period when the anti-Christ initiates the so-called “mark of the beast” which will be required for everyone to buy and sell goods
    • (Revelation 13:16-17) “He [i.e. the anti-Christ] causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”
    • The Bible clearly warns everyone to not receive the mark – those who do will experience the full wrath of God when He brings this world to an end:
      • (Revelation 14:9-10) “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.”
    • It is in the second half of the Tribulation, that the really severe things begin to happen to the earth, resulting in its eventual complete destruction and ushering in the New Earth, the New Jerusalem and the New Heavens (Revelation 21:1-2). It is triggered when the anti-Christ sits on the throne of God in the rebuilt Jewish temple in Jerusalem and declares that he is God
      • (Daniel 12:11)“And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days.” (i.e. 3.5 years)
      • Jesus says in Matthew 24:15-16, “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”
      • The Apostle Paul wrote in 2Thessalonians 2:3-4, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
    • We see another sign here, what some call the Great Falling Away in which many Christians abandon their faith. Many surveys now show the percent of Americans calling themselves Christian has been declining for many years now
      • Of course, most of these are pseudo-Christians, that is, Christians in name only, those who think just going to church or having Christian parents automatically makes them Christian.
      • But this is not so. As Jesus told us in John 3:3, we must be “born again” and receive the indwelling of His Holy Spirit
    • In this “falling away” we also see Christian Churches succumbing to the ways of the world, especially in materialism, greed, sexuality and self-gratification, as well as New Age concepts such as worshiping the creation instead of its Creator.

We are not going to get into the whole debate about when the Rapture will occur, but suffice it to say that Christians who feel they won’t experience any of these difficult, perilous events are in for a major disappointment

  • Yes Scripture says that for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.” (Matthew 24:22)
    • But before that Jesus says, Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake..” (Matthew 24:9)
      • Tribulation means trials, which we all will experience (i.e. the pestilence, famines and earthquakes mentioned in the preceding verses of Matthew 24, but not the especially severe tribulation of the woes and trumpet plagues when Jesus opens the seventh seal.

All these horrifying events will happen. That’s why prophet Joel says the day of the Lord’s coming is “great and very terrible; Who can endure it?” (Joel 2:11)

  • For true disciples of Jesus, His coming is a great, joyous occasion because we know we’re going to be with Him for all of eternity:
    • Jesus promised that, “if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:3)
      • So, it is a great day!
    • But for those who reject Jesus as the Son of God, it will indeed be a terrible day:
      • Near is the great day of the LORD, Near and coming very quickly; Listen, the day of the LORD! In it the warrior cries out bitterly. A day of wrath is that day, A day of trouble and distress, A day of destruction and desolation, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness, (Zephaniah 1:14-16)

Jesus is going to shake things up but good:

  • When God (Jesus) came down upon Mount Sinai to give Moses the Ten Commandments, the mountain was shaken:
  • Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. (Exodus 19:16-18)

When Jesus comes again, everything on earth and in the heavens will be shaken:

  • At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:26-29)
  • I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. (Revelation 6:12-14)

Focus on Jesus

However, instead of focusing on all the devastation to come, Christians need to keep their focus on the things above, the eternal things, the things of God as manifested in Jesus:

  • (Colossians 3:2) “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”

(Philippians 4:8) “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

And finally, Hebrews 12:2 says we should keep on “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

  • And we Christians will join Him there!

Regardless of when Jesus returns, we should always live our lives as though His coming was imminent, because He will come as a thief in the night (i.e. when we least expect it or before we get right with God)

  • (2Peter 3:9-12) “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God.”
  • (Revelation 22:12) “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work.”
  • (1Thessalonians 4:16-17) “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus, we shall always be with the Lord.”

For those of us here and now, we must keep our focus on Jesus who is indeed alive, not dead and gone.

  • Unlike other ‘gods’ Jesus is nonetheless alive, even after His physical death on the cross. He was resurrected by God into Heaven after paying the price (His blood) to redeem us from our sins, Satan and this evil world. After Christ’s crucifixion, He appeared to over 500 people.
  •  (Revelation 1:18) I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”
  • (Acts 1:2-3) He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

Jesus is the Slain Lamb of God

  • The Old Testament ritual given by God through Moses for the cleansing of sins was to slay a lamb every morning and evening for the sins of the people (Exodus 28:38-42)
  • Jesus came to be the One Lamb who would sacrifice Himself once for any and all who accept His gift of atonement for our sins.
  • (John 1:29) “The next day John [the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

As the Lamb of God, Jesus is also our Ransomer (i.e. one who pays a ransom to rescue someone)

  • Jesus is our only link to God in this evil world and serves as our mediator and an intercessor pleading our case to God the Father.
    • For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all. (1Timothy 2:5-6)
    • Therefore, He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)

Despite being charged unfairly and punished unreasonably, Jesus was Silent like a Lamb

  • The prophet Isaiah foretold that the Messiah (Jesus) would be afflicted and killed but not open his mouth to protest His unjust persecution and death:
    • He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken. (Isaiah 53:7-8)

Jesus died as a Lamb but is coming back as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah

  • Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals. (Revelation 5:5)
    • The scroll has God the Father’s instructions for bringing judgment upon the earth, as well as eternal life to those who accept Jesus. As each of the seven seals is loosened, judgments are released in the earth

Jesus is also the one we pierced:

  • Although none of us are actually the ones who killed (pierced) Jesus, He died for all our sins, so we are all responsible for His death:
    • (Revelation 1:7) “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

But now, it is important to recognize that Jesus is doing a new thing!

  • Jesus is coming again to create a new earth which will be like it was in the Garden of Eden – perfect, with no sin, no suffering, no death:
  • “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now, it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)
  • “Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare; Before they spring forth I tell you of them.” (Isaiah 42:9)
  • Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. (Revelation 21:1)
  • Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new. (Revelation 21:5)

Therefore, we need to be singing a New Song in celebration and recognition of the old things passing away and the new things coming to pass:

  • (Psalm 98:1) “Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! For He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory.
  • (Revelation 5:9) “And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your  blood, out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”

For more information and Bible Studies go to the Gospel of Grace website at http://www.gofg.org

Signs of the Times

October 18, 2019

­­For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2Timothy 1:7)

Biblical Understanding Lacking in Believers & Unbelievers

According to a recent survey, the proportion of American adults who have a biblical worldview dropped to 7% in 2018, the lowest on record. The data confirmed what has long been known — a large majority of Americans are biblically illiterate and don’t understand Christian convictions. This is especially true regarding morally weighty topics such as abortion, religious liberty, and sexuality. Significantly, even professing Christians often struggle to defend a biblical ethic when it comes to these politically contentious issues, notes David Closson of the Family Research Council. “This widespread biblical illiteracy explains why Christian beliefs are increasingly dismissed as outdated or seen as hateful,” writes Closson.

  • The Bible teaches that we are all sinners saved by grace alone and that Jesus commands us to love everyone (Matthew 22:37-40)

40 Days for Life Campaign Saves 100 Babies in Just 2 Weeks

The latest 40 Days for Life campaign is well underway, and the pro-life organization is reporting remarkable progress so far. 40 Days for Life organizes round-the-clock prayer vigils outside of abortion facilities around the world, persistent displays to raise awareness that abortion is not only happening in a community, but that there are community members willing to oppose it. The organization says that since 2007, it has led to the prevention of over 16,000 abortions, the closing of over 100 abortion centers, and the quitting of almost 200 abortion workers. On Monday, 40 Days for Life tweeted word that the latest campaign, which had only been going on for two weeks, just saved its hundredth baby from abortion.

Baby Body Parts Testimony Brings Jury to Tears

There’s been a “game-changer” at the California civil trial in which Planned Parenthood is suing the investigators whose undercover videos exposed the abortion industry’s scheme to profit from the sale of baby body parts. For the first time, jurors were allowed to see portions of the videos that were released in 2015. “The jury was stunned. It was the first time during the three-week trial that they had seen any of the debated video. It was a game changer and a huge victory for the pro-life defendants,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. In addition, Planned Parenthood’s star witness, turned into a star witness for the defense when her testimony conflicted with prior statements and dispositions.

California Mandates Free Abortions at All Colleges and Universities

California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed into law a radical bill that would force colleges to provide free abortions on campus. The pro-abortion bill, which passed the state legislature in September, mandates that all public colleges and universities provide abortion drugs for free to students up to 10 weeks of pregnancy starting Jan. 1, 2023. The bill promotes abortion instead of providing young women with pregnancy support and options. Now that the bill has become law, 34 public college campuses in the state will be forced to begin providing abortion drugs.

Christian Doctors Can’t Be Forced to Perform Transgender Surgeries

A federal judge handed Christian doctors and supporters of religious liberty a major victory Tuesday, ruling they cannot be forced to assist with gender-reassignment procedures, such as sex-change surgeries. The case stretches back to the Obama administration, when the Department of Health and Human Services issued a rule requiring virtually every doctor to assist with gender-transition procedures as part of ObamaCare, Becket Law reports. District Judge Reed O’Connor issued an injunction against the rule in 2016, and the Trump administration followed by issuing a proposed new rule protecting the conscience rights of Christian doctors and other medical professionals. On Tuesday, O’Connor finalized his 2016 decision, ruling the Obama-era rule “substantially burdens” religious exercise rights in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a federal law. O’Connor was nominated by President George W. Bush.

Attorney General Barr Blasts ‘Militant Secularists’

Attorney General William Barr blasted “militant secularists” and their attacks on Judeo-Christian values in a blistering speech at Notre Dame Friday, saying “religion has been under increasing attack” over the past five decades. Barr, a devout Catholic, told students and faculty at the university’s law school that “the problem is not that religion is being forced on others, the problem is that irreligion is being forced — secular values are being forced on people of faith.” Barr contends that many of society’s ills are caused because of the breakdown of religion in society. “This is not decay,” he said. “This is organized destruction. Secular forces and their allies have marshaled all the forces of mass communication, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia, in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.”

American Troops Pulled Out of Turkey/Syrian Chaos

President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria, where they had long kept an uneasy peace among competing forces, left the region in upheaval Sunday. Administration officials denied that the United States had “abandoned” its Syrian Kurdish allies to Turkish forces that invaded northern Syria Monday President Trump signaled Monday that “big sanctions” will hit Turkey in response to the NATO ally’s decision to bombard U.S.-allied Kurds in northern Syria. Tensions soared Wednesday with the House voting overwhelmingly with Republican support to rebuke President Trump. A subsequent confrontation at the White House led to Democratic leaders walking out on the president who they said had a “meltdown.” Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, agreed Thursday to halt the invasion for five days while Kurdish fighters leave a safe zone in northern Syria while the United States facilitates the withdrawal of YPG (a mostly Kurdish militia) from the affected areas in the safe zone,” said Vice President Mike Pence. Fighting continued Friday morning in a northeast Syrian border town at the center of the fight between Turkey and Kurdish forces, despite the U.S.-brokered ceasefire that went into effect overnight. U.S. Troops are “largely” out of the region, said Trump on Thursday.

  • The Islamic State is still active in the area, and there are reports that Russian and Syrian forces are moving in as well. Hundreds of Islamic State supporters escaped from a displaced-persons camp in northern Syria on Sunday amid heavy clashes between invading Turkish-led forces and Kurdish fighters.
  • Hours after reaching an agreement with Kurdish forces, the Syrian Army entered a key town near the Turkish border — a significant shift in the power dynamic. The return of government forces to northeastern Syria deals a blow to Kurdish-led forces who had been supported by the United States.
  • Russian mercenary forces have begun sweeping in to fill a security void left by withdrawing U.S. troops in northern Syria, with a video online showing the Moscow-backed mercenaries taking control Tuesday of what was previously an American military outpost.
  • Officials are reviewing plans to evacuate up to 50 U.S. nuclear bombs that have long been stored at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. The weapons are now essentially “hostage” to Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a senior official told The New York Times on Monday. The Cold War-era B61 nuclear bombs are said to be 100-250 miles from the Syrian border.
  • Thousands of Christians, Kurds and Yazidis are fleeing parts of Syria. The group In Defense of Christians, said they are “deeply concerned for the Christian and Yazidi communities of Northeast Syria should the Republic of Turkey move into the region. “There are over 40,000 Christians in the Northeast,” the group said. Two Christians were reported killed and others wounded within hours of Turkey’s invasion.

Judge Blocks Plans to Build Border Wall

President Trump’s proclamation declaring a border wall emergency is illegal, a federal judge in Texas ruled Friday, throwing a new hurdle in front of the government’s plans to build hundreds of miles of new barriers. Judge David Briones, a Clinton appointee to the court, said Congress took clear steps to try to limit how much border wall Mr. Trump could build using money appropriated in fiscal year 2019, and the president’s attempt to funnel Pentagon funds toward wall construction is illegal. The administration argued a federal judge had no power to personally constrain the president, the head of a separate branch of government.

Immigration Numbers Way Down

Illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border tumbled in September, officials said Tuesday, saying the administration has solved the migration crisis by stopping Central Americans before they ever reach the border. The 144,000 people nabbed at the border in May fell to 52,546 migrants in September. At one point CBP was detaining 5,000 people a day. That’s now 1,700. The U.S. still posted the worst overall year in more than a decade, with the Border Patrol apprehending about 850,000 illegal immigrants in fiscal 2019, which ended Sept. 30. Officers at the ports of entry encountered about 125,000 more unauthorized migrants, for a combined illegal immigrant population of nearly 1 million.

Immigration Prosecutions at Record Level

The Justice Department set a record over the last fiscal year, prosecuting more criminal cases against illegal immigrants and migrant smugglers than any other year on record, officials announced Friday. However, the numbers are still a tiny fraction of the overall illegal activity at the border. With nearly 1 million unauthorized crosses in fiscal year 2019, the government still only charged about 106,000 people with either illegal entry or illegal re-entry after a previous deportation. Another 4,297 people were charged with migrant smuggling, harboring or otherwise assisting in the illegal traffic.

Trial Underway of Illegal Immigrant Terrorist

Abdulahi Hasan Sharif of Somalia had himself smuggled from Somalia through Brazil and Central America. Then he entered the United States over the Mexico-California border and claimed asylum in 2011, reports Judicial Watch. Sharif went on to Canada, where he conducted a double vehicle-ramming and stabbing rampage in 2017 in Edmonton, Alberta, that severely injured a police officer and four other people. He was carrying an Islamic State flag in one of the ramming vehicles. The 32-year-old Sharif is now on public trial in Canada, facing 11 counts of attempted murder, aggravated assault, and dangerous driving.

Mexicans Protest Detention Center in Mexicali

Nearly 200 residents gathered in Mexicali Monday night to protest the Mexican federal government’s plan to convert a shuttered grocery store into a shelter for asylum seekers who have been sent by United States officials to Mexico to await the resolution of their immigration cases. Mexicali residents said they aren’t racist, xenophobic or anti-immigrant. Rather, they said, they oppose the shelter because it could draw crime to the neighborhood, threaten the safety of area school children and draw down home prices. In response to the opposition, Abraham Salcido, a spokesman for the Mexican federal government in Baja California, said the northern state has always been “a land of migrants.” He said opponents’ concerns that the asylum seekers are bringing disease and insecurity to the border city are “not true.”

1,000 ‘False Families’ Detected at Border in DNA Tests

Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Thursday that over 1,000 “false families” that were apprehended crossing the southern border have been detected thanks to DNA testing. ICE acting director Matthew Albence criticize a federal judge for limiting the agency’s ability to ask local law enforcement to hold illegal immigrants until ICE can apprehend them. “This decision will threaten public safety as it will lead to the release of criminal aliens back onto the street,” Albence said, according to the Washington Times. The judge issued a permanent injunction that prevents ICE from using electronic databases when issuing detainers after determining that the agency’s databases weren’t reliable enough.

Police Suicides Rising

The suicide of a police officer in Montgomery County, Maryland, this week is part of a surge in law enforcement officers across the country taking their lives, prompting police departments to address concerns about the mental health of their members. Psychologists and police officials say a number of factors — such as increased scrutiny, mandatory overtime, perceived hostility and physical danger — contribute to the daily stress on officers. Officers can become disillusioned by the job and how their department treats them, which can begin a downward turn toward hopelessness.

Columbus Day Being Replaced by Native Americans Day

For many Americans, the second Monday in October is a celebration of Italian heritage and Christopher Columbus’s 1492 voyage to the Americas. But a growing number of cities, states and universities are abandoning ship and replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day, also known as Native Americans Day. At least eight states, 10 universities and more than 130 cities across 34 states now observe Indigenous Peoples Day as an alternative to the federally recognized Columbus Day, which many say glorifies the mistreatment and colonization of Native Americans. Although Italian explorer Christopher Columbus is often credited as being the “discoverer” of the New World, millions of people already inhabited the Americas, and the Vikings had reached North America nearly five centuries earlier.

Closing of Arizona Coal Plant Hurts Navajos

The pending closure of a massive coal plant on the Navajo Nation isn’t measured only by better air quality or the cost savings for the power companies that own it, reports the Arizona Republic. The aftereffects include hundreds of jobs lost in an area where high-paying work is hard to find. The lives disrupted and families scattered. The looming shutdown of the Navajo Generating Station forced hundreds of utility employees to relocate to new jobs and put most of the region’s miners out of work when the Kayenta Mine that fueled it closed in August. Most are Native American. The Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribes are now trying to fill gaping holes in their budgets while already high poverty rates and substance addiction are expected to rise.

Economic News

The stock market rallied again on Friday after President Trump said the United States and China reached a preliminary trade agreement. Trump, who met with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He Friday afternoon, called the initial deal “substantial.” Details of the agreement are still emerging, but it includes a halt on U.S. tariff increases. Trump told reporters that intellectual property theft, currency matters and agricultural purchases are also included in the deal.

China’s growth dropped to its lowest level in nearly three decades as the world’s second largest economy continues to feel the pain from its trade conflict with the United States. The country’s gross domestic product grew at 6% between July and September. That’s the weakest quarterly growth rate since 1992, and down from 6.2% the previous quarter.

President Trump’s mission to revive America’s coal industry is failing. U.S. power plants are expected to consume less coal next year than at any point since President Jimmy Carter was in office, according to government forecasts. Although Trump has tried to boost coal by slashing environmental regulations and installing a former coal lobbyist to lead the EPA, coal keeps losing ground to cleaner and cheaper alternatives. Power companies are rapidly retiring coal-fired power plants and replacing them with much cheaper natural gas and increasingly affordable renewable energy.

The sharp rise in home prices since the housing market bottomed in 2012 has made homes less affordable for most Americans, but the run-up has especially affected African Americans whose typical incomes have climbed more modestly. The median-income black household could afford just 25% of U.S. homes on the market last year, down from 39% in 2012, according to data provided exclusively to the USA Today by real estate brokerage Redfin. By contrast, median-income white households could afford 57% of homes for sale last year, down from 69% 7 years ago. Data from the 46 largest markets show that prices have increased by 70% since 2012.

More than three years after Britain narrowly voted to leave the European Union, Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed a breakthrough deal Thursday with EU negotiators that will enable Britain’s orderly withdrawal from the bloc. Johnson said a “great new deal” had been reached. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said an outline deal was in place. The agreement still needs to be ratified by EU leaders and Britain’s Parliament.

The United States and China have a “fundamental agreement” in the first phase of addressing key elements of the ongoing trade war between the two countries, as “substantial progress” was made last week, says Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who also warned of new tariffs on Dec. 15 if the deal fails. He went on to say that he would describe phase one of the deals as “quite substantial. As the president has said, as soon as we get phase one complete we’ll move to phase two.” President Donald Trump has postponed tariffs, which were to begin on Tuesday, on a remaining $300 billion in Chinese goods, but Mnuchin said the tariffs will still go into play if China does not agree to the current deal.

Persecution Watch

Christians are in grave peril in Nigeria. The jihadist militia Boko Haram – which has pledged allegiance to genocidal ISIS – just killed two more Christian aid workers in Nigeria, reports ACLJ. Worse, they have reportedly vowed to kill every believer they capture in the future. The Fulani Herdsmen – another jihadist group that has been targeting Christians for slaughter – reportedly just kidnapped 6 teenage girls from a Christian school. They also brutally murdered a Christian pastor’s wife.

Middle East

The U.S. announced on Friday that it is delivering more missile-defense systems and troops to Saudi Arabia. This decision intensifies a face-off with Iran-which has warned that an attack on the country would trigger an “all-out war.” The Islamic Republic would be a vastly different opponent than it was when the U.S. last targeted the country directly in 1988, officials note. Iran now has thousands of missiles, many of them able to reach Israel, into the Mediterranean and evade Saudi defenses. Iran, through Yemen, successfully attacked a Saudi Arabian military base a few weeks ago.

Iran

Iran will further reduce its commitment to the nuclear deal signed with world powers by limiting international inspectors’ access to its nuclear sites, senior Iranian MPs have said. The move, which is expected to take place at the beginning of November, will be the fourth Iranian step away from the deal, and puts pressure on France, Germany and the UK to make some form of counter-move. The joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA) was signed in 2015 but Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018, placing pressure on Europe to save the deal. The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday sharply escalated economic pressure on Turkey by filing fraud and money-laundering charges against the country’s second-largest state-owned bank, accusing it of helping Iran evade sanctions.

Saudi Arabia

The Pentagon announced that it plans to deploy nearly 2,000 troops to Saudi Arabia to boost defenses against Iran. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said the move would place new fighter jets and air defense systems in Saudi Arabia to help a key ally confront what the Trump administration has described as a heightened threat from Iran. The deployment, which officials said would place roughly 1,800 additional troops in the Middle East, is the second troop increase related to recent attacks on Saudi oil facilities.

Afghanistan

A special U.N. report has described the severe impact of election-related violence on Afghanistan’s civilians, mainly from the Taliban’s campaign targeting its presidential election last month. The report released Tuesday says attacks aiming to disrupt the electoral process killed 85 people and wounded 373 others across the country. The number includes 277 civilian casualties, 28 killed of whom were killed Sep. 28 on the polling day. More than one-third of civilian casualties were children.

At least 62 people were killed in an explosion during Friday prayers in a mosque in Nangarhar, Afghanistan, according to a regional spokesman. 36 other people were wounded in the explosion in the Haska Mina district, near the border with Pakistan. No-one initially claimed responsibility for the explosion. A Taliban spokesperson said the group was not responsible.

Hong Kong

As street battles between protesters and police continue to escalate in Hong Kong, China’s authoritarian President Xi Jinping warned Sunday any further attempt to divide the country will literally be crushed. “Anyone attempting to split China in any part of the country will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones,” he said. China has seen growing international pressure due to the escalating Hong Kong pro-democracy protests during the last four months. The demonstrations began in June over a contested extradition bill and have snowballed into a wide-ranging anti-government, anti-police and anti-China movement. On Monday, police in Hong Kong said a homemade, remote-controlled bomb intended to “kill or to harm” riot control officers was detonated as the police deployed against renewed street violence.

Japan

The same day that a 5.3 earthquake struck Japan off the coast of Tokyo, a tornado ripped through Ciba, a town north of Tokyo and typhoon Hagibus made landfall on Japan’s main island of Honshu Saturday, flooding streets and causing at least one death in its wake. Some 600,000 people were ordered to evacuate ahead of the typhoon and 8 million were warned that they may need to leave their homes. As of Monday, At least 55 people were killed, 16 were missing and about 100 were injured after Hagibus had blown through. Many places in southern and central Japan remained flooded or were covered with mud and debris left by torrential rains and overflowing rivers. The town of Hakone in Kanagawa Prefecture southwest of Tokyo, received 36.32 inches of rain. More than 3,400 homes across the country were flooded, and 38,000 people remained in shelters in 17 prefectures.

Venezuela

The failing socialist dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro has been elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council. At a U.N. General Assembly meeting in Geneva on Friday, the Latin American country was elected to one of 14 new seats on the 47-member body. Maduro’s government, BBC News reported, hailed it as an “important achievement.” But his administration is accused of jailing, torturing and arbitrarily arresting opposition figures. And more than 50 countries, including the United States, no longer recognize Maduro as the country’s legitimate leader.

Mexico

State police expected the worst when they ventured into the wild township of Aguililla to serve a single warrant. Commanders sent 42 officers in five trucks. It wasn’t enough. More than 30 suspected drug cartel gunmen were waiting for them Monday, some in vehicles that were apparently armored, prosecutors in Mexico’s western state of Michoacan said. Officials said the gunmen opened up on the police convoy with .50 caliber sniper rifles and AR-15 and AK-47 assault rifles. Thirteen officers were killed, some of their bodies still inside the patrol trucks when the vehicles were set afire. Nine other officers were wounded. The attack – the worst on Mexican law enforcement in years – came in a state where violence blamed on drug gangs has jumped in recent months.

Environment

Carbon dioxide emissions from cars have risen in nearly every major United States city over the past three decades, despite increased sales of alternative fuel vehicles and a concerted effort by many communities to promote cleaner transportation. Orlando’s carbon dioxide emissions nearly doubled in that time. Atlanta’s went up by 87 percent. And Dallas-Fort Worth saw a 133 percent increase. The number of vehicle miles driven in passenger cars and light-duty trucks went up nearly 46 percent between 1990 and 2017, according to the EPA.

From the littered beaches of India to the vast waste dumps of the USA to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the world is drowning in trash. The rate at which waste is  generated is increasing, according to the World Bank. Because of population growth and the expansion of urban areas, the amount of municipal solid waste that people generate will continue to rise.

Earthquakes

A strong, shallow earthquake shook parts of the southern Philippines Wednesday, killing at least one person and injuring dozens. The U.S. Geological Survey rated the temblor at 6.4 magnitude. It was centered about 5 miles from Columbio town in Sultan Kudarat province, southwest of Davao City. A girl died after she was hit by a collapsed wall in a house in Maguindanao province. More than 20 people were injured by falling debris. Several relatively strong aftershocks were felt after the quake. Schools were to be closed on Thursday so officials could inspect buildings for damage.

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake was widely felt across the San Francisco Bay Area on Monday night. The Los Angeles Times reports moderate shaking was felt at 10:33pm with the epicenter in the Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek areas. The US Geological Survey says weak shaking was felt in San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose. Scientists say they don’t expect any major structural damages. The earthquake had a preliminary depth of about 9 miles underneath the surface, fairly deep for this area.

A major southern California fault capable of producing a magnitude 8 temblor started to move for the first time in 500 years following a series of earthquakes in the Mojave Desert over the summer, according to a new study published Thursday in the journal Science. The study found that the Garlock Fault – which runs east to west for 185 miles from the San Andreas Fault to Death Valley – has slipped .8 inches since July. This is the first movement documented on the fault in modern history. Satellite images show the fault creep began after Southern California experienced its largest earthquake sequence in two decades beginning on July 4. A magnitude 6.4 foreshock rocked the Mojave Desert about 120 miles north of Los Angeles before a magnitude 7.1 mainshock hit the next day in addition to more than 100,000 aftershocks.

Wildfires

The number of fires in the Amazon rainforest decreased by 35% in September. Even so, there were 19,925 fire outbreaks in September on the Brazilian part of the rainforest, which accounts for nearly 65% of the Amazon basin. Moreover, through the first nine months of the year, the number of fires soared by 41% compared to the same period in 2018. The primary cause is deforestation through the systematic chopping down of trees, which are either logged or burned, mostly to convert the land for raising cattle and growing crops. About 20% of the Brazilian portion of the rainforest has been cleared since 1970.

Of the estimated 738,000 homes and businesses that had electricity cut off by Pacific Gas & Electric last week, only a few dozen were without power by this week. Flames from the Saddleridge Fire, which started about 9 p.m. local time last Thursday in Sylmar, crossed over the 210 Freeway and later the 5 Freeway. The fire spread to about 8,391 acres this Thursday in the northern foothills of the San Fernando Valley and was 62% contained. Dozens of homes were destroyed and 100,000 people were forced to evacuate. At least two deaths were being blamed on the fire.

The Decker fire continues to burn in the Rio Grand National Forest in Colorado, consuming 8,570 acres as of Thursday. It is 30% contained. Active fire behavior continues with wind-driven runs, torching and spotting. Numerous structures are threatened, two have been destroyed. Evacuations and road closures remain in effect.

Weather

More than 500,000 people were without power Thursday morning as a bomb cyclone brought rain and heavy winds to the Northeast U.S. “Bomb cyclone,” is a term some meteorologists use to classify surface lows whose pressure drops by at least 24 millibars in 24 hours or less. Schools were closed or delayed in dozens of locations in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. There were also widespread closures and delays in Connecticut. Trees and powerlines were downed in at least seven eastern states, especially in southeast New England, where wind gusts up to 90 mph were clocked overnight.

A crippling snowstorm brought high winds and drifting snow to parts of the Northern Plains. Portions of at least two interstate highways in North Dakota were shut down last Friday as officials warned people to stay home and avoid all non-emergency travel. I-94 was closed westbound from Bismarck to Fargo, and eastbound from Bismarck to Valley City. I-29 was closed in both directions between Grand Forks and the Canadian border. A portion of U.S. Highway 2 was also closed. Between 50 and 100 cars were stuck for hours due to three trucks that had jackknifed. “I’m expecting massive crop losses – as devastating as we’ve even seen,” Jon Nelson, a state lawmaker. “The extraordinary intensity of this early winter storm threatens to test the limits of local response capabilities across a large portion of our state,” Gov. Doug Burgum said.

  • In Denver, Colorado, the temperature dropped 64 degrees from 3pm last Wednesday to 9am the next morning, one of the biggest temperature drops in history.

Signs of the Times

October 9, 2019

­­For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-21)

Judge Overturns Ban on Same-Sex Counseling

A federal judge has torpedoed the city of Tampa’s attempt to block licensed counselors from helping patients overcome unwanted same-sex attractions. Similar laws have been defeated in other jurisdictions. In Tampa, U.S. District Judge William Jung granted summary judgment to Liberty Counsel in its lawsuit against Tampa’s ordinance prohibiting “licensed counselors from providing voluntary talk therapy to minors seeking help to reduce or eliminate their unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, or identity.” The ordinance, the judge said, “is preempted by the comprehensive Florida regulatory scheme for healthcare regulation and discipline.” The judge’s ruling eliminates the potential for counselors to be fined for providing the therapy their clients seek. Liberty Counsel’s Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “This is a great victory for counselors and clients.”

Hundreds of Transgenders Wish They Hadn’t Changed

Transgenders – by the “hundreds” – are fed up with their lifestyle choice and are wanting to return to living as their birth gender, prompting the creation of an advocacy network to help them, according to a new report from the Christian Institute. According to the institute, former trans Charlie Evans said: “I’m in communication with 19- and 20-year-olds who have had full gender reassignment surgery who wish they hadn’t, and their dysphoria hasn’t been relieved, they don’t feel better for it. Evans, who was born female but lived as a man for nearly a decade, just last year accepted her true sex and went public about it. “Many people similarly discouraged have contacted her, by the “hundreds,” she said. So, she launched the Detransition Advocacy Network, which is providing help to those who want to live as their birth sex.

200,000 Students Expected to ‘Stand for Christ’ on Football Fields

Hundreds of thousands of students are joining together Wednesday on football fields across the nation to encourage their peers to pray, worship, read their Bibles, and commit their lives to Christ. Fields of Faith, a student-led ministry outreach part of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) that started in 2004, has seen thousands of kids and young adults tackle tough topics and turn their lives around at the event. Students at over 500 fields nationwide will be helping their peers face challenges such as hopelessness, loneliness, depression, suicide, drugs, alcohol, and more with the hope of Christ. “In a world where bad news seems to be the norm, we’re happy to share the great news that lives are being changed through Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ Fields of Faith,” Jeff Martin, FCA executive director said.

Supreme Court to Review Louisiana Abortion Regulations

The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will take up the case of Louisiana’s admitting privileges law, which could have the potential of upending the high court’s most recent pro-abortion precedents. The case concerns Louisiana’s Act 620, which requires abortion centers to make arrangements for admitting women to hospitals within 30 miles in cases of life-threatening complications. A ruling is likely to be handed down during the already-contentious 2020 election year, in which abortion and judicial nominations will be major issues for both President Donald Trump and his Democrat opponent. It’s an open question whether a majority would take the opportunity to make a broader determination as to the underlying legitimacy of Roe v. Wade.

Aggressive Climate Change Protests Hit Europe, Australia

A group of extreme climate change activists around the globe has brought parts of London, France, Germany, and Australia to a standstill as they aggressively push politicians to cut carbon emissions. In London alone, the actions of the Extinction Rebellion group led to 319 arrests. Climate protesters in Australia and New Zealand also blocked roads, entered banks and energy companies on Monday. In Sydney, police were seen dragging elderly people and men in suits through the crowds as massive groups blocked roads in and out of the city. In all, police in Australia arrested about 30 people. In Britain, the aim of the group is to force the country to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2025. Currently, Britain’s target is 2050.

Immigration Update

Immigrants who can’t prove they have health coverage will be denied visas, White House says. Starting Nov. 3, visas will be denied for immigrants who “will financially burden” the U.S. health-care system, according to a proclamation issued by President Trump. Foreign nationals must prove that they have insurance or can cover their own health costs before entering the United States, the White House said. The new rule comes as President Trump is intensifying his efforts to fulfill his campaign promises to curb immigration.

U.N. Sounds Alarm Over Cash Crisis

The United Nations is facing its worst cash crisis in nearly a decade and is warning that it may be unable to pay its bills by the end of the month, while urging member states to pay their contributions to the world body immediately. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote to member states this week, saying that as of the end of September, they have only paid 70 percent of budget contributions. While the U.S. is one of the countries that have not paid its contribution in full, an official from the U.S. Mission to the U.N. told Fox News that is in part because of differences in U.S. and U.N. fiscal years. “To date this year, we have contributed over $600 million to UN peacekeeping operations, and will be providing the vast majority of the $674 million we owe to the 2019 regular budget this fall, as we have in past years,” the official said. “Overall the United States, as the largest contributor to the UN, contributes roughly $10 billion annually in assessed and voluntary contributions across the United Nations system.”

Dick’s Sporting Goods Destroyed $5M Worth of Firearms

Dick’s Sporting Goods has destroyed $5 million of the chain’s gun inventory, its CEO said. After finding out that Dick’s had sold the Parkland shooter a shotgun, CEO Edward Stack decided last year the company would no longer sell firearm to anyone under 21. Dick’s announced it would destroy its inventory of weapons, rather than allow them to be sold by another retailer. Since then, about $5 million of the chain’s gun inventory has been turned into scrap metal, Stack said. Stack is a hunter and gun owner who believes strongly in the Second Amendment. The company, which his father started as a fish-and-tackle shop in 1948. Stack said the controversial decision cost his company about a quarter of a billion dollars in revenue.

Economic News

The federal budget deficit for 2019 is estimated at $984 billion, a hefty 4.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and the highest since 2012, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said on Monday. The deficit was $205 billion more than the previous fiscal year, an increase of 26 percent in just one year.

A survey released by the National Association for Business Economics lowered growth expectations for next year to below 2%, citing protectionism, trade uncertainty and slowing global growth. The New York Fed has lowered its fourth-quarter GDP forecast to just 1.3% growth.

In September, manufacturing lost 2,000 jobs. Over the past year, Pennsylvania has lost more than 7,700 jobs in manufacturing and Wisconsin has shed more than 5,200.

Gasoline prices have spiked in California, soaring well above what most Americans are paying at the pump. In some locations, Californians are paying $5 for a gallon of gas. A number of refinery outages tightened gas supply in the market. The average price of regular gas in California rose to $4.18 a gallon, the highest level since May 13, 2014. The national average is currently $2.65 a gallon.

Persecution Watch

Six Christians on their way to church in Batticaloa district, Sri Lanka were attacked and beaten with sticks by around ten villagers on 21 September, in one of a series of incidents of intimidation and harassment targeted at believers in less than two weeks. Five of the Christians were so badly injured that they were admitted to hospital. Local sources said the pastor and congregation have faced continuous harassment this year from the same group of villagers in Kalkudah. Two of the mob of attackers were arrested. Christians faced violent intimidation on 14 September when 15 police officers together with six Buddhist monks and around 100 villagers descended on Zion Revival Church, Gampaha district and demanded that Christians stop conducting worship services. On 11 September, a pastor in Passara, Badulla district, was told that three villagers had petitioned against the construction of the Assemblies of God church and his request for financial help from the Passara local authorities was blocked. This was despite the church having already received all necessary approvals for construction.

Syria

The White House announced Sunday evening that United States forces in northern Syria would move aside in advance of a planned Turkish military offensive. The move marks a major shift in US foreign policy and effectively gives Turkey the green light to attack US-backed Kurdish forces. The group, long considered as among Washington’s most reliable partners in Syria, has played a key strategic role in the campaign against ISIS in the region. Following a phone call between US President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the White House said that Turkey would soon begin a military offensive and US forces would not be involved in the operation. “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria,” a statement said. “The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.” American-backed Kurdish-led fighters in northeast Syria accused President Trump of a “stab in the back.”

  • Lindsey Graham, one of President Donald Trump’s strongest Republican defenders in Congress, blasted Trump Monday over the decision saying it was “shortsighted and irresponsible.” Graham said, “This impulsive decision by the President has undone all the gains we’ve made, thrown the region into further chaos. Iran is licking their chops. And if I’m an ISIS fighter I’ve got a second lease on life. So to those who think ISIS has been defeated you will soon see,” Graham said during an interview on Fox News.” Pat Roberson also denounced this Trump decision saying Trump could well lose his “mandate from heaven.”

Turkey

A planned Turkish military operation in northern Syria has now begun, the country’s president announced Wednesday, as Kurdish fighters say warplanes are already bombing civilian areas in the region. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted that the maneuvers being carried out against Syrian Kurdish forces – which Ankara considers terrorists allied with a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey – are part of Operation Peace Spring.”Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area,” he said in a tweet. The move comes in defiance of international criticism and just days after President Donald Trump announced U.S. troops supporting Kurdish forces in the area would be pulled back from the border zone. Fahrettin Altun, the Turkish government’s chief spokesman, said Turkey seeks to “neutralize” Syrian Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria and to “liberate the local population from the yoke of the armed thugs.”

  • The Kurds were U.S. allies in the successful campaign to dismantle ISIS

Germany

Two people have been killed following a shooting rampage near a synagogue in the eastern German town of Halle, according to local police. One woman was killed close to the town’s synagogue around midday local time on Wednesday, before a gunman opened fire at a kebab shop roughly 600 meters away, fatally wounding a man. A police search for the perpetrators is now underway. At least one person is on the run and local residents were urged to seek safety, as the attack may have involved as many as three suspects. Several people were also injured in what local authorities described as a “rampage.” The incident near the synagogue comes on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.

France

France has been rocked by a security breach that allowed an Islamist extremist to work in the heart of its counterterrorism apparatus for years, before he killed four of his colleagues last week. Mickaël Harpon, a 45-year-old convert to Islam, was allowed to continue working in the intelligence division of the Paris police, despite arguing with colleagues in 2015 that the terror attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was justified. Harpon’s colleagues mentioned the conversation to their superiors, but he wasn’t flagged in France’s security database that tracks extremists across the nation.

Russia

Western security officials say they have uncovered the existence of an elite Russian military intelligence unit dedicated to destabilizing Europe, the New York Times reports. The officials say Unit 29155 was behind a coup attempt in Montenegro, an effort to cause a political crisis in Moldova, and attempts to assassinate a Bulgarian arms dealer, as well as last year’s poisoning of a former Russian double agent in Britain. Officials say the top-secret unit, part of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency, has been operating for at least a decade, but European security agencies only recently realized that incidents thought to have been unrelated operations had been carried out by the unit as part of a wide-ranging mission to undermine the West.

Iran

China National Petroleum Corp. has pulled out of a $5 billion natural-gas project in Iran as escalating tensions threaten to sever Beijing’s trade with Tehran, a key lifeline for the Islamic Republic. The exit by Beijing, which had vowed to resist U.S. restrictions on Iran, is a blow to Tehran’s attempts to fight growing economic isolation and comes after Washington brought new sanctions on Chinese companies still trading with Iran.

China

China demanded Washington lift sanctions on Chinese tech companies and warned Wednesday that it will “resolutely safeguard” the country’s interests. The Ministry of Commerce criticized curbs imposed on sales of U.S. technology to a group of Chinese companies as interference in the country’s affairs. American officials say those companies provide technology used to repress Muslim minorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. “We strongly urge the United States to immediately stop making irresponsible remarks on the issue of Xinjiang, stop interfering with China’s internal affairs and remove relevant Chinese entities from the Entity List as soon as possible,” a ministry statement said. “China will take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard Chinese interests.” Despite the spike in tension, the ministry said Tuesday that a trade delegation was going ahead with a trip to Washington for talks aimed at ending the tariff war.

Hong Kong

The semi-autonomous Chinese city is in its 18th consecutive week of anti-government protests. The unrest has grown increasingly violent on both sides, with protesters using petrol bombs and setting fires, and police firing tear gas and water cannons. During citywide protests on October 1, police used lethal force for the first time, after protesters attacked several officers. According to a survey by the University of Hong Kong in June, nearly half of the city’s population is considering leaving. The city’s young professionals don’t just want to move, they want to move soon. YouGov’s survey found that a quarter of those who want to migrate are likely to do so within the next three years. Government data provided to CNN shows that the number of applications for a certificate that is necessary for Hong Kongers applying for visas overseas surged over 50% from May to August.

Japan

Japan’s fertility crisis is worsening, with data from the first seven months of this year showing the sharpest drop in births in 30 years, according to preliminary government data. Births fell 5.9% from January to July year over year, as the pool of women of childbearing age shrinks and more women delay having children or decide not to have them at all, figures from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare show. Japan’s birth rate has been falling since the late 1970s. In 2005, it reached a record low of 1.26 per woman, but then seemed to be on a path of recovery until it started to fall again in 2016, according to government figures. By 2018, it was at 1.42. Another cause for Japan’s declining birth rate is the fall in marriage rates, with having children outside of wedlock still frowned upon.

  • To maintain a stable population, countries need a fertility rate of 2.1. Last year, it was 1.72 in the United States but only 0.98 — or less than one baby per woman — in South Korea, where fertility rates have fallen to their lowest level since records began.

Ecuador

Ecuador’s president is accusing his political rivals of trying to orchestrate a coup this week after violent protests tied to rising fuel prices forced his government to relocate away from the country’s capital. Officials say about 350 people have been detained so far for blocking traffic, interrupting public services or attacking police following President Lenín Moreno’s decision to end government subsidies that have been keeping fuel prices down. Moreno says the subsidies have cost the government heavily in recent years and dropped them in a bid to stimulate Ecuador’s economy. “[This] is not a protest of social dissatisfaction faced with a government decision but the looting, vandalism and violence show there is an organized political motive to destabilize the government,” the embattled leader said

Mexico

Eleven people were arrested in southern Mexico on Tuesday after the mayor of their village was dragged out of his office, beaten, and then tied to a pickup truck and dragged through the streets of the town, according to officials. The State’s Attorney General’s Office in Tuxtla Gutiérre said in a news release that the incident happened early Tuesday in the town of Las Margaritas, when a group of people stormed Mayor Jorge Luis Escandón Hernández’s office. The angry group of farmers was demanding the mayor build a road he promised to construct during his campaign. State police were eventually able to rescue the mayor and said Hernandez was “safe and sound.” The incident caused a brawl between the locals and the police, leaving at least 20 injured and 11 arrested. This was the second attack this year by locals demanding the mayor fulfill his campaign promise to build the road.

Pestilence

An outbreak of a deadly and rare brain disease has killed at least 11 people in the United States so far this year. Scientists say the mosquito-borne illness, Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), may be worse because of unseasonably warm temperatures. It’s one of just several diseases scientists worry are being affected by climate change. The nation’s changing climate patterns are bringing heatwaves, flooding, warming waters and droughts. These in turn alter the environment and the microbes, viruses and insects that inhabit it in ways that can cause them to increase or appear in new areas and at different times than before. The mosquitoes which transmit the EEE virus thrive in warmer temperatures and die off at the first hard frost. Earlier springs, later falls and hotter months in between contribute to higher mosquito populations and the greater chance of infection.

Wildfires

Power is being shut off to nearly 800,000 Pacific Gas and Electric customers in California due to the threat of wildfires. Schools and universities were closed in some areas and residents stocked up on groceries, batteries and gas ahead of the blackouts, which PG&E said could last as long as five days. The preemptive outage stands to be one of the largest in the state’s history as windy, dry conditions raise the risk for wildfires in the coming days. Many of those affected are in the San Francisco Bay area and the northern part of the state, including San Jose, Oakland, Fremont, Santa Rosa, Hayward, Berkeley and San Mateo. In all, parts of some 34 counties in northern, central and coastal California face blackouts. The utility said the shutoffs were based on a fire weather watch from the National Weather Service. Winds up to 65 mph were expected in some areas, prompting the NWS to issue alerts for elevated, critical and extreme wildfire chances across large swaths of the state.

Gusty winds and dry conditions could send smoke plumes from the Decker fire in Colorado skyward, unfurling embers across the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, authorities say. The 6,326-acre wildfire, which started from a lightning strike Sept. 8, remained only 5% contained. It’s now burning 2 miles south of Salida, a city of about 5,200 people in Chaffee County. On Saturday, 300 people and 130 houses were evacuated from several subdivisions. However, some of those mandatory evacuations have now been lifted.

Weather

Portions of the central USA will feel downright winterlike over the next few days as a potent snowstorm and bitter cold take aim on the region. The powerful system is expected to produce heavy snow, as much as 12 inches, from the north-central Rockies into the northern Plains. Winter storm warnings and watches are already widespread across the region, all the way from Idaho to Minnesota. Significant travel impacts, tree damage and sporadic power outages will be possible where the heaviest snow occurs. Temperatures will also plunge by as much as 60 degrees in the span of 12 to 24 hours as the cold air swiftly replaces preceding mild conditions.

The Earth just had its warmest September on record. The past five years have been the warmest since modern records began in the 1880s, according to NASA. Globally, September 2019 was roughly 1.02 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the average from 1981-2010. Regions with the most markedly above average temperatures included the central and eastern USA, the Mongolian plateau and parts of the Arctic. Much below average temperatures were only recorded in a few regions, including southwestern Russia and parts of Antarctica.

  • End-time weather will continue to grow more extreme (Daniel 9:26b, Ezekiel 38:22, Luke 21:25, Revelation 8:7, 11:19, 16:8,11)

Signs of the Times

October 4, 2019

­­Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12)

500,000 Students Participated in Bring Your Bible to School Day

More than half a million students from across the United States will join the Bring Your Bible to School movement on Thursday, Oct. 3, reports Breaking Christian News. The annual student-led event, now in its sixth year, provides a unique opportunity for young people to share about their faith by highlighting its source—the Bible. This year, NFL Saints quarterback Drew Brees partnered with Focus on the Family to promote Bring Your Bible to School Day. “I took my Bible and sat it in my desk all day. I had a few kids… ask me about my faith and it was a great conversation. But I think the best experience I had was when my favorite teacher and I had a very awesome in-depth conversation about faith that didn’t turn into an argument but it ended up something we both agreed on. I plan on carrying my Bible with me every day at school now,” said 17-year-old Savvy.

Judge Hands Intervarsity Christian Fellowship Major Victory

In a stunning decision, a federal judge has ruled that officials at the University of Iowa violated the law when they kicked InterVarsity Christian Fellowship off their campus and that they are personally responsible for costs incurred by InterVarsity in defending its rights. InterVarsity had been on the University of Iowa campus for over 25 years. But in 2018, the University expelled the group from the campus for insisting that anyone in leadership must affirm its Christian beliefs. The University claimed that requirement was discriminatory. In the ruling last Friday, the court held that the University’s religious discrimination was so egregious that the officers involved—and possibly even the University’s president—would be personally accountable for any money InterVarsity lost fighting to stay on campus. “No group—religious or secular—could survive with leaders who reject its values,” noted the Becket Fund, the religious liberty law group who defended InterVarsity.

$33.6 Million of Planned Parenthood’s Funding Allocated to ‘Legitimate Health Care Groups’

The Trump administration has officially sent some of Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding this past week to legitimate health care groups that provide tangible health care instead of abortions. Planned Parenthood refuses to follow a new Trump administration rule that requires it to segment out its abortion business from legitimate health care if it wants federal funding under the Title X program. Because the abortion giant is withdrawing from Title X, the $60 million in taxpayer dollars it received annually can be redistributed to groups that engage in legitimate women’s health care. “Today, the Office of Population Affairs (OPA) announced $33.6 million in fiscal year 2019 funding awards to 50 current Title X grantees in order to supplement their family planning services… Today’s awards prioritize unserved and underserved jurisdictions and low-income individuals.

Legislators/Parents Fight Back Against Graphic Sex Ed for Kindergartners

“I dare you… Hold up the textbook in front of the camera and show them a picture of what 10-year-olds are going to be asked to see.” That was Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers’s (R) challenge to reporters, when they asked him about his fierce response to the radical Left’s sex ed. He pointed to a book, called It’s Perfectly Normal, that isn’t normal at all – “unless you’re one of those rare individuals who think teaching anal sex to five-year-olds is a good idea,” notes Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. “I couldn’t even read the manual to you over the radio,” State Senator Sylvia Allen (R-Ariz.) told Perkins on “Washington Watch” Monday. “When [they] talk about comprehensive sex education,” she warned, “that’s exactly what they mean. It’s very comprehensive, very detailed—they leave nothing out… the only reason for that is because you are… giving them information to help sexualize them.” Outside groups like Planned Parenthood and GLSEN are trying to strip the state’s ban on “abnormal, deviate, or unusual sexual acts and practices” — and parents on both sides are furious. “These programs are going against the vast majority of parents—and what parents want taught to their children about this subject,” Senator Allen says. “In Arizona, we have local control over curriculum. So that means parents have got to be active in their school district to see what their school district might want to propose on this subject.” These outside groups “are counting on parents’ ignorance to push this agenda through,” notes Perkins. In Minnesota, hundreds of parents rallied against a new sex education proposal that is being considered in their state, which Planned Parenthood was promoting.

  • Planned Parenthood has been boasting lately about being the largest sex education provider in America.

Images of Child Sex Abuse Double on the Internet

Last year, tech companies reported over 45 million online photos and videos of children being sexually abused — more than double what they found the previous year. Each image documents a crime. More than a decade ago, when the reported number was less than a million, the proliferation of the explicit imagery had already reached a crisis point. Tech companies, law enforcement agencies and legislators in Washington responded, committing to new measures meant to rein in the scourge. Landmark legislation passed in 2008. Yet the explosion in detected content kept growing — exponentially. As with hate speech and terrorist propaganda, many tech companies failed to adequately police sexual abuse imagery on their platforms, or failed to cooperate sufficiently with the authorities when they found it, reports the New York Times. FBI Director Christopher Wray said Friday that Facebook’s proposal to encrypt its popular messaging program would turn the platform into a “dream come true for predators and child pornographers.”

Teacher Fired over Transgender Pronouns Sues School

West Point High School French teacher Peter Vlaming is a soft-spoken man who was well loved by his students. He wasn’t looking for a fight. He was just looking to do his job. But when the school demanded that he use male pronouns for a biological girl student who had decided to identify as a transgender boy, Mr. Vlaming was faced with the choice: follow his beliefs and potentially lose his job — or violate his beliefs and keep it. Mr. Vlaming explained to the school that, as a Christian, he believes that God made humans male and female, and that a girl cannot become a boy. He tried to work with the school. He even agreed to call the student by her new masculine name. The school board fired him by unanimous vote. For insubordination. Now, he’s suing the school for wrongful termination.

U.K. Doctor Fired Over Transgender Pronouns

A seasoned British doctor lost his government job as a medical assessor after more than three decades because he refused to renounce his Christian belief that gender is determined at birth. Dr. David Mackereth, 56, a National Health Service employee, was fired from his post at the Department for Work and Pensions in July because he would not use a transgender pronoun, saying he believes “gender is defined by biology and genetics” and the “Bible teaches us that God made humans male or female.” This week he lost his case before an Employment Tribunal in England, where the judge ruled his beliefs were “incompatible with human dignity.”

Gender Dysphoria Proving Deadly To Thousands

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has documented thousands of deaths linked to the puberty-blocking drugs now increasingly given to children who claim to suffer from gender dysphoria (i.e. the condition of feeling one’s emotional and psychological identity to be at variance with one’s biological sex). Between 2013 and June 2019, FDA recorded 41,213 adverse events, including 6,379 deaths and 25,645 “serious” reactions in patients who took the hormone blocker known as Lupron. Lupron, is clinically approved for treatment of prostate cancer in men, endometriosis in women. Lupron is also being used — without formal FDA approval — as a puberty blocker on the increasing number of children and adolescents who are being diagnosed in the U.S. and the U.K. with gender dysphoria. This is being done — with the support of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Endocrine Society — despite the fact there is no evidence that such hormonal treatments actually benefit children and adolescents. Complications related to the drug’s use include malignant tumors, cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and blood clots, suicidal behavior and other psychological disorders, brittle bones and painful joints, and sterility. In 2017, AbbVie, which produces Lupron, sales of the drug were $669 million in the United States alone.

  • Once again, drug companies win at the expense of human lives – but this time, they are also messing with God’s biological order of creation.

Johnson & Johnson Settles Opioid Lawsuits

Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday announced it had reached an agreement worth more than $20 million with two Ohio counties, becoming the latest company to settle a lawsuit to get out of the first federal trial over the nation’s opioids crisis. The deal with Cuyahoga and Summit counties comes a little more than a month after an Oklahoma judge ordered the health care conglomerate to pay $572 million over its marketing of opioids in that state, It was announced less than three weeks before the scheduled start of the first federal trial over the opioid crisis. Four other opioid makers also have reached settlements in recent months and won’t be defendants in the trial, scheduled for federal court in Cleveland. Like most of the others, Johnson & Johnson still faces some 2,000 other lawsuits related to the nation’s opioids epidemic.

Vaping is Destroying Lungs

Doctors still aren’t sure exactly what has caused a spate of vaping-related deaths and illnesses around the country—but they know it is doing horrific damage to people’s lungs. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic say tests of lung tissue from 17 patients show a pattern of injury that looks like “toxic chemical exposure” of the kind seen in victims of chemical weapon attacks or industrial accidents, resembling mustard gas attacks exposure. The Mayo Clinic study found that “toxic chemical fumes,” not oils, may be to blame for the illnesses. “Their lungs and airways have been torched.” surgical pathologist Brandon T. Larsen told some patients, and they “will not recover and will end up dying,” Others are likely to suffer chronic respiratory problems.

Trump’s Immigration Agenda Suffers String of Losses

In just a span of several hours, a judge in California ruled against the administration’s plan to detain migrant families indefinitely, another California judge blocked ICE from relying solely on  databases when issuing detainer requests, and shortly before midnight, a Washington judge barred fast-track removals of illegal aliens. All three federal judges were appointed by former President Obama, revealing the heavy weight judicial appointments play in the fight over immigration policy. The Trump administration hit back hard against the string of rulings. “For two and a half years, the Trump Administration has been trying to restore enforcement of the immigration laws passed by Congress. And for two and a half years, misguided lower court decisions have been preventing those laws from ever being enforced—at immense cost to the whole country,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement over the weekend.

Percent of Foreign-Born in U.S. at Record High

Confirming the largest ethnic shift in more than a century, the U.S. Census Bureau released a survey finding a record 13.7% of the U.S. population, about 44.7 million people, were born in another country. It found that about 22 million of the foreign-born residents were not U.S. citizens. The majority of the non-U.S. born residents came from Latin America. The foreign-born resident rate has surged in California, Texas, Florida and New York, about 15% higher than elsewhere in the country. In 2018, the Trump administration proposed restoring the citizenship question, arguing it was “necessary for the Department of Justice to protect voters.” The Supreme Court dealt the administration a setback, ruling the Department of Commerce had failed to provide an adequate reason for restoring the question.

Immigration Court Backlog Exceeds 1 Million Cases

The immigration court backlog now exceeds 1 million cases, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, which tracks immigration court data. Immigration courts, which fall under the Justice Department and decide whether to deport immigrants, have been bogged down over the years as more cases are added to the docket that can be addressed at any given time. President Trump has repeatedly criticized the nation’s immigration system, specifically taking issue with the practice of releasing immigrants while they await their court dates. To remedy that, his administration has sought to hire more immigration judges in the hopes of unclogging the court. Even so, the number of cases has continued to tick upward. The American Bar Association has previously proposed a major overhaul of the US immigration system, calling the courts “irredeemably dysfunctional.”

No Climate Emergency, Hundreds of Scientists Tell U.N.

Lost amid the coverage of Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg at last week’s U.N. Global Climate Summit were the 500 international scientists, engineers and other stakeholders sounding a very different message: “There is no climate emergency.” The European Climate Declaration, spearheaded by the Amsterdam-based Climate Intelligence Foundation [CLINTEL], described the leading climate models as “unfit” and urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to pursue a climate policy based on “sound science.” “Current climate policies pointlessly and grievously undermine the economic system, putting lives at risk in countries denied access to affordable, reliable electrical energy,” said the Sept. 23 letter signed by professionals from 23 countries. “We urge you to follow a climate policy based on sound science, realistic economics and genuine concern for those harmed by costly but unnecessary attempts at mitigation,” the letter said.

European Court Forces Facebook to Remove Content

The top European court has ruled Facebook and other internet companies can be forced to remove certain content worldwide. The case revolves around an Austrian politician, Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek, who sought to have Facebook remove disparaging comments about her that had been posted on an Irish person’s page. The European Court of Justice ruled that Facebook must remove that information as well as block access to that it worldwide. . Europe has fewer guarantees of free speech and much more restrictive laws related to privacy. This is not purely a European issue for internet companies such as Facebook and Google, since the ruling demands worldwide compliance. Social media platforms are under increasing attention and criticism for the role they play in spreading false information, especially as it relates to elections and political discourse. There have been hearings in Washington DC and even calls to break-up major tech companies

Half of Californians Want to Leave

Just over half of California’s registered voters have considered leaving the state, with soaring housing costs cited as the most common reason for wanting to move, according to a new poll. Young voters were especially likely to cite unaffordable housing as a reason for leaving, according to the latest UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll conducted for the Los Angeles Times. But a different group, conservatives, also frequently suggested they wanted to leave — and for a very different reason: They feel alienated from the state’s political culture.

World Trade Organization Authorizes $7.5B in Tariffs Against EU

The World Trade Organization has authorized President Trump to impose tariffs on roughly $7.5 billion worth of European goods, capping a 15-year transatlantic dispute over illegal subsidies to aircraft maker Airbus. The ruling opens the door to a major escalation in a broader trade war between the White House and the European Union  The record award from the WTO green-lights the Trump administration to slap countermeasures on the 28-member EU bloc. However, WTO arbitrators are expected to rule next year on how much the EU can impose in tariffs following a separate decision that went against Boeing. The U.S. has already announced plans to impose tariffs on EU cheeses, olives, whiskey, as well as aircraft and aircraft parts.

Trump’s Tariffs on China Bring in $35 Billion

President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on Chinese products over the Asian superpower’s “unfair” trade practices has brought in tens of billions of dollars, prompting Republican lawmakers to propose ways to pass along the windfall to American taxpayers. Special levies on China, known as Section 301 duties, have brought in about $35 billion since they were imposed in July 2018 to combat Beijing’s “harmful industrial policies.” “We used to get most of our revenue from tariffs. But it’s very unusual because for the last 80 years tariffs have been a declining source of revenue, so this is the first time [in recent history] it’s been a rising source of revenue,” said Marc Goldwein, senior vice president at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Economic News

The unemployment rate fell from 3.7% to 3.5%, the lowest since December 1969, the Labor Department said Friday. However, hiring slowed in September as employers added 136,000 jobs, doing little to ease recession concerns and at least opening the door to another Federal Reserve rate cut as early as this month. Partly offsetting the weak showing: Job gains for July and August were revised up by a total 45,000. July’s additions were upgraded from 159,000 to 166,000 and August’s from 130,000 168,000. Average hourly earnings edged down 1 cent to $28.09, pushing down the annual gain from 3.2% to 2.9%.

U.S. manufacturing activity contracted for the second month in a row in September, falling to a level not seen in 10 years. The Institute of Supply Management’s closely-watched manufacturing index dropped to 47.8 in September, its lowest level since June 2009. The index measures month-to-month changes in the industry. A reading above 50 denotes growth in the sector. “Global trade remains the most significant issue, as demonstrated by the contraction in new export orders that began in July 2019,” said Timothy Fiore, chair of the ISM’s manufacturing business survey committee.

The retail apocalypse over the past several years has devastated America’s department stores, chains and mom-and-pops. Stores are closing at record levels. U.S. retailers this year have already announced more than 8,200 store closings — well above the previous record of 6,700 in 2017, according to Coresights Research. By year’s end, the annual tally could reach 12,000. And all of that has happened at a time when the economy was strong. But if the United States slips into a recession, as many economists fear it will sometime next year, the problems plaguing retail could get far worse. Store closings could accelerate and layoffs in the sector — a major provider of American jobs — could spread.

  • Many non-retail companies have also been announcing layoffs, including HP (Hewlett Packard), Ford Motor Company, Uber, John Deere, Bayou Steel, Daimler Trucks of North America, Genesis Healthcare and many others.

The federal government has once again dramatically expanded its exposure to risky mortgages, echoing concerns from before the Great Recession. Federal agencies have taken steps over the past four years that have cleared the way for companies to issue home loans that many borrowers might not be able to repay in a downturn, reports the Washington Post. This risk is the direct result of pressure from the lending industry, consumer groups and political appointees, who clamored for the government to intervene when homeownership rates fell several years ago.

The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline slipped by 1.9 cents per gallon last week to reach $2.64, according to industry analysts at GasBuddy. That price remains well above the $2.56 average just before the drone attack on two major Saudi Arabian processing plants but down from the peak of $2.68 reached following the attack.

Knifing Attacks in France & Finland

A French law enforcement official went on a knife rampage at police headquarters in Paris on Thursday, killing four officers and injuring others before being fatally shot. The 20-year police employee worked as an administrator in the intelligence unit and had not posed known problems until Thursday’s rampage. The attack came one day after thousands of French police officers joined a “march of anger” in Paris to protest what they claim are poor working conditions and to draw attention to an increase in suicides. The attacker was a recent convert to Islam.

A knife-wielding man, also armed with a gun, killed at least one person and injured 9 more Tuesday afternoon during a “violent attack” at a mall in central Finland, Authorities in Kuopio detained one person, described as a Finnish national. The knifing attack that took place at the Savon Vocational School, which is located inside the Hermann shopping center. Local media reported that the man was believed to be a student at the school.

Middle East

The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said Monday that destroying arch-rival Israel has become an “achievable goal” thanks to his country’s technological advances. “This sinister regime must be wiped off the map and this is no longer… a dream (but) it is an achievable goal,” Major General Hossein Salami said, quoted by the Guards’ Sepah news site. Four decades on from Iran’s Islamic revolution, “we have managed to obtain the capacity to destroy the imposter Zionist regime”, he said.

The conflict between Iran and the U.S. has created tensions throughout much of the Middle East. Now, the effect are also being felt in Lebanon, where Washington has slapped sanctions on the Iran-backed Hezbollah and warned they could soon expand to its allies, further deepening Lebanon’s country’s economic crisis. The Trump administration has intensified sanctions on the Lebanese militant group and institutions linked to it to unprecedented levels, targeting lawmakers for the first time as well as a local bank that Washington claims has ties to the group.

Iran

Iran will continue reducing its commitments under its 2015 nuclear deal until it reaches the “desired result,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday, according to his official website. “We will continue the reduction of commitments,” Khamenei said in a meeting with commanders of the elite Revolutionary Guards. “The responsibility is with the Atomic Energy Organization and they must be carry out the reduction …in a precise, complete and comprehensive way and continue until the time we reach a desired result.”

Syria

American counterterrorism officials are voicing increased alarm about a Qaeda affiliate in Syria that they say is plotting attacks against the West by exploiting the chaotic security situation in the country’s northwest and the protection inadvertently afforded by Russian air defenses shielding Syrian government forces allied with Moscow. The rise of this latest Qaeda branch in Syria, as well as the operations of other Qaeda affiliates in West Africa, Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan, underscore the terrorist group’s enduring threat despite the death of Osama bin Laden and being largely eclipsed in recent years by the Islamic State as the terrorist group of choice of global jihadis. The new Qaeda branch, called Hurras al-Din, emerged in early 2018 after several factions broke away from a larger affiliate in Syria.

Afghanistan

The Taliban launched a multi-pronged attack on a district headquarters in a remote district in northern Afghanistan early on Tuesday, killing at least 11 policemen. Taliban attacks have continued unabated even as Afghanistan held presidential elections on Saturday and the U.S.-Taliban talks over a peace deal collapsed last month. There were at least 68 attacks by the Taliban across the country during election day, most of them rockets fired from distant outposts.

North Korea

North Korea fired a ballistic missile toward the sea Wednesday, South Korea’s military said, in a display of its expanding military capabilities hours after saying it would resume nuclear diplomacy with the US this weekend. South Korean officials said the missile was fired from North Korea’s eastern waters, suggesting it may have been submarine-launched. North Korea has confirmed that its latest missile launch involved a new kind of ballistic missile that was launched from a submarine. North Korea having the ability to launch missiles from submarines is alarming because such weapons are harder to detect in advance. Japan said one of the missiles landed inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone. The North had not fired a weapon that reached inside Japan’s EEZ since Nov. 2017 at the height of an unusually provocative run in nuclear and missile tests. The launches, which were the North’s ninth round of weapons tests since late July, came hours after a senior North Korean diplomat said North Korea and the United States have agreed to resume working-level nuclear negotiations this weekend.

China

Trucks carrying weapons including a nuclear-capable missile designed to evade US defenses rumbled through Beijing on Tuesday as the Communist Party celebrated its 70th anniversary in power with a military parade that showcased its emergence as an increasingly ambitious global power. The military showed off China’s most advanced weapons, some being shown for the first time, as rows of soldiers marched in lockstep past President Xi Jinping and other leaders on Tiananmen Square, the country’s symbolic political heart. Thousands of spectators waved Chinese flags and fighter jets flew low overhead. The event marks the anniversary of the Oct. 1, 1949, announcement of the founding of the People’s Republic of China by Mao Zedong following a civil war.

Hong Kong

As Beijing marked 70 years of Communist Party rule with a massive military parade, black-clad protesters in Hong Kong declared National Day to be a “Day of Grief.” A crowd estimated by organizers at 100,000 defied a protest ban Tuesday and marched through the city center, RTHK reports. Protesters tore down Chinese flags and banners marking the anniversary. They defaced photos of China’s President Xi Jinping. Tear gas was fired in at least four districts and much of the city’s subway system was closed down. Protesters in some areas barricaded roads, set fires, and threw Molotov cocktails at police. Police fired shots in locations, hitting one protester in the chest, who is now in the hospital in critical condition. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Friday that her government would use emergency powers to ban face masks in public in a bid to end the city’s protests. Hong Kong also shut down all train service on Friday as part of an emergency declaration aimed at stopping the massive protests that have flooded the streets for four straight months.

Taiwan

A towering 460-foot-long arch bridge over a bay in eastern Taiwan collapsed Tuesday, sending a burning oil tanker truck falling onto boats in the water below. An air force helicopter, fishing vessels and more than 60 military personnel, including divers, were searching for possible victims. Six people are believed trapped on one of the fishing boats, the National Fire Agency said. Interior Minister Hsu Kuo-yung told reporters about five people were feared to have been on the bridge when it collapsed. Ten people were sent to hospitals, six of them with serious injuries.

Wildfires

The Decker Fire burning outside Salida continued to grow rapidly Thursday. In an update published about 8 p.m., officials estimated the fire at 5,348 acres, up from 3,746 acres on Wednesday. At 7 a.m. Thursday, a Type 1 Incident Management Team took over command of the fire which is burning “dangerously close” to several housing subdivisions. Evacuations have been ordered and several roads are closed. The fire was started by lightning on Sept. 8th.

Environment

In fast-thawing Siberia, extreme warming is warping the ground, upending agriculture and spurring an exodus of climate refugees. The permafrost that once sustained farming is in the midst of a great thaw, blanketing the region with swamps, lakes and bizarre bubbles of earth that render the land virtually useless. A Washington Post analysis found one eastern region has warmed by more than 3 degrees Celsius since preindustrial times — roughly triple the global average. For the 5.4 million people who live in Russia’s permafrost zone, the new climate has disrupted their homes and their livelihoods. Thousands are leaving the countryside for the regional capital.

Slow-moving convoys of tractors clogged up nearly 700 miles of major highways in the Netherlands on Tuesday, as farmers inched toward The Hague to protest what they claim is an attempt to blame them over nitrogen pollution. About 10,000 farmers participated in the protest to argue they are unfairly being blamed after a court ruling found that the Netherlands is violating European emission rules. The morning protest caused the worst morning commute in Dutch history, ANWB, a road and drivers’ organization, said. The idea that farmers are behind the bump in nitrogen pollution has prompted at least one political party official to suggest the country reduce the number of live animals it produces to cut down on the emission. In addition, a proposed package of measures to tackle the increase in pollution includes a plan to grant financial aid to farmers who want to stop operations or adopt more eco-friendly agricultural practices.

A gigantic iceberg broke off from the Amery Ice Shelf in East Antarctica on Tuesday. The iceberg, named D-28, is over 600 square miles in size, which is bigger than the city of Los Angeles. It’s equal to about 27 Manhattan Islands. The last major calving event on the Amery Shelf was in 1963-64. “We don’t think this event is linked to climate change. It’s part of the ice shelf’s normal cycle, where we see major calving events every 60-70 years,” said Scripps’ Institute of Oceanography professor Helen Amanda Fricker.

Weather

Extreme weather caused by a wavy jet stream has kicked off the first 10 days of fall across the United States, leading to a series of record-breaking and unusual weather events to start the new season. Daily record highs were set on several days during fall’s first week in the South. More than a dozen cities in the East, from upstate New York to the Florida Panhandle, set all-time October record highs on Tuesday. Meridian, Mississippi broke the Mississippi state record high for October when it hit 101 degrees on Tuesday. On the opposite end of the spectrum, record cold temperatures have gripped parts of the Northwest to begin fall. Tuesday’s low in Great Falls, Montana, was just 9 degrees. A historic snowstorm in September’s final days blasted parts of the northern Rockies with heavy, wet snow and high winds, leading to power outages and tree damage. The top snow total from the storm was 52 inches about 10 miles south of the Canadian border in Babb, Montana.

  • End-time weather will continue to grow more extreme (Daniel 9:26b, Ezekiel 38:22, Luke 21:25, Revelation 8:7, 11:19, 16:8,11)

 

Signs of the Times

September 27, 2019

­­God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2Thessalonians 2:11-12)

Abortions Drop 7% to Historic New Low

The number of abortions dropped to a new all-time low across the United States in 2017. The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion research group considered to have the most comprehensive abortion data, reported a 7-percent drop in abortions between 2017 and 2014, NPR reports. There were 862,320 abortions reported in 2017, down from 926,200 in 2014, according to the report. The abortion rate also fell to 13.5 per 1,000 women of childbearing age, down from 14.6 in 2014 and 16.9 in 2011. Not since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed abortion on demand in 1973 through Roe v. Wade have abortion numbers been so low.

Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Being Established

The city council of another Texas city voted this week to become a sanctuary city for the unborn, making it the sixth in the state and the ninth nationwide this year to pass such a declaration. Council members in Gilmer, Texas, voted 4-1 Tuesday to declare the town a “sanctuary city for the unborn,” one day after another Texas town, Tenaha, passed a similar ordinance. “[Gilmer is] a safe haven where the unborn has a right to come here and not worry about being aborted.” None of the cities have abortion clinics. One goal is to discourage the clinics from moving within their city limits.

Bodies of 2,246 Unborn Babies Discovered at Abortionists Home

The bodies of 2,246 aborted babies were found in the home of a recently deceased abortionist. Abortionist Dr. Ulrich Klopfer performed abortions at The Women’s Pavilion in South Bend, Indiana and at other Indiana facilities until his medical license was suspended in 2016. As the watchdog group Operation Rescue has extensively documented, Klopfer had a history of abuses, including failing to report statutory rape of a 13-year-old and a 10-year-old. The remains were found when family members were going through the deceased Klopfer’s belongings and reported them to the county Sheriff.

Planned Parenthood’s Sex Curriculum in Public Schools

Many school districts are covertly teaching an extreme curriculum written by none other than abortion giant Planned Parenthood, the Family Research Council reports. Planned Parenthood’s Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) program, which has been infiltrating our nation’s classrooms with near impunity for years, has reached a nearly indescribable level of obscenity. The pornographic, anti-biblical, and anti-science curriculum has recently erased “biological sex” from their lessons and replaced it with the phrase, “sex assigned at birth.” And if that wasn’t enough, Planned Parenthood has even created an app called “Roo,” a chatbot that gives kids advice without parental consent. The app is designed to replace communication between a parent and a child on topics regarding sex, values, and important life decisions.

  • Our public schools have become indoctrination centers for the religion of secular humanism which exalts humans above God.

Arizona Court Upholds First Amendment Religious Liberty Rights

Two Arizona calligraphers at the heart of yet another religious liberty battle won a major victory Monday with the Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling that business owners have the right to choose not to provide certain products to same-sex weddings. Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski own Brush & Nib Studio, a small business founded on Christian values. They say they serve any customer regardless of sexuality but draw the line at being forced to produce custom messages endorsing events that violate their beliefs. Since 2016, they’ve fought the city of Phoenix over an LGBT “anti-discrimination” ordinance they argued violated their freedom of speech and religion, because it threatened them with fines and prison time. The state’s highest court sided with them Monday in a 4-3 ruling that the ordinance “runs afoul of the First Amendment.

House Initiates Impeachment Process Against President Trump

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the start of a formal impeachment inquiry Tuesday against President Donald Trump, she said his contacts with Ukraine’s president “changed everything” for Democrats. Trump’s acknowledgement that he urged Ukraine to investigate his presidential rival, Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden, spurred Democrats led by Pelosi to expedite their investigations. “We have to strike while the iron is hot,” Pelosi told her caucus, according to a senior Democratic aide who was in the private meeting.  “This is a national security issue – a national security issue – and we cannot let him think that this is a casual thing.” She announced that the House “is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry” and that she was “directing our six committees to proceed with their investigations under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry.” House Democrats have been investigating Trump on a variety of fronts since regaining control of the chamber in January, probing whether he has obstructed justice, profited unconstitutionally from his namesake business or fallen under the influence of foreign countries. Trump has dismissed the investigations as partisan harassment after special counsel Robert Mueller found no conspiracy between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.

  • Once an officeholder is impeached by the House of Representatives, a trial is held by the Senate to determine whether the accused is guilty of the charges. If a guilty verdict is returned, only then can the accused be removed from office. The Republican-controlled Senate is unlikely to convict President Trump.

Trump Opposes Globalism at U.N. General Assembly, Slams Iran

President Trump on Tuesday used his speech to the U.N. General Assembly to decry Iran’s “bloodlust,” while touting the importance of national sovereignty, warning: “The future does not belong to globalists.” “If you want freedom, take pride in your country,” he said. “If you want democracy, hold on to your sovereignty and if you want peace, love your nation. Wise leaders always put the good of their own people and their country first. The future does not belong to globalists, the future belongs to patriots. The future belongs to sovereign and independent nations who protect their citizens, respect their neighbors and honor the differences that make each country special and unique.” Trump then pivoted to Iran, urging the Islamic regime to put its people first and to abandon its quest for nuclear weapons and support of terror in the region. He told delegates that the U.S. does not seek conflict with other nations but that “I will never fail to defend America’s interests.” Trump also condemned the clerical regime which rules Iran, for blaming “everyone else for the problems they alone have created,” even as “fanatics have long used hatred of Israel to distract from their own failures.”

Trump Touts Religious Freedom for All at Summit

President Donald Trump made a surprise appearance at a climate-change summit at the United Nations General Assembly on Monday. Trump spent about 15 minutes at the summit and didn’t speak. He listened to remarks by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, then departed for a scheduled speech at a religious freedom summit where he delivered a speech on religious freedom and global persecution against believers. President Trump said people of all faiths are being jailed, sanctioned, tortured and killed — often at the hands of their government — simply because they expressed their beliefs. With more than 80 percent of the world’s population living under religious restrictions, according to Pew Research Center, President Trump’s keynote address at an event called the Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom is a major step for religious freedom. “This is the first time any leader of a nation has addressed the U.N. on religious persecution,” Pastor Robert Jeffress said. President Trump on Monday announced $25 million in funding to protect religious freedom and religious sites around the world, and asked the world’s governments to join together to end religious persecution.

U.S. at Odds with U.N. Decisions/Direction

A new State Department report shows that the United Nations is out of sync with U.S. interests in more than two-thirds of votes — likely raising further concerns within the Trump administration about the organization and America’s financial commitment to it. “The United States continues to be diplomatically isolated on development and Israel-related resolutions,” the report on voting practices at the U.N. in 2018 said. The U.S. and the U.N. General Assembly as a  whole were in alignment just 31 percent of the time in 2018, the same as 2017. This is down from the final year of the Obama administration, when they were in agreement 41 percent of the time. The U.S. voted against 70 percent of assembly resolutions requiring a vote, more than any other U.N. member state.

New U.N. Ambassador Kelly Craft took her seat Thursday at the U.N. Security Council, finally bringing a permanent replacement for Nikki Haley seven months after she resigned. The former ambassador to Canada said, “I come to the U.N. not only as the president’s emissary but as a voice of America’s unwavering commitment to democracy, freedom, human rights and, whenever possible, the peaceful resolution of conflicts.” “In a world marked by humanitarian crises and geopolitical challenges, strong American leadership is absolutely critical and I intend to provide it,” she said.

Climate Change Activists Protest Prior to U.N. Summit

Activists calling for action on climate change disrupted morning commutes across Washington, D.C., Monday morning, just days after hundreds of thousands demonstrated alongside school children for Global Climate Strike rallies around the world. A boisterous crowd of at least 200,000 people turned out to chant and march in Manhattan last Friday, joining hundreds of thousands – possibly millions – of protesters from Australia to Thailand to London. While supporters of all ages turned out, the day was billed as a walkout by high school students to call on world leaders to step up their efforts against climate change, carbon emissions and other environmental issues. New York City schools excused the city’s 1.1 million students from class in order for them to participate.

  • Extreme weather will continue to worsen as a key sign of the end-times (Daniel 9:26b, Ezekiel 38:22, Luke 21:25, Revelation 8:7, 11:19, 16:8,11)

U.S. Immigration Laws Weak Compared to Other Nations

Jumping the border in Singapore is punishable by six months in prison — and not less than three strokes with a cane. In Russia, it can earn you up to two years in a prison labor camp. Pakistan goes as high as 10 years in prison, while India allows for up to eight years behind bars for those who sneak across its boundaries. It’s a far cry from the U.S., where illegal entry is a misdemeanor, with a maximum of six months in jail. In reality, most of those who are prosecuted — and only about 1 in 5 border jumpers are — are sentenced to time served and are out within days. The U.S. has one of the world’s weaker laws for illegal entry, according to the data in a study by the Library of Congress, which surveyed statutes in more than 160 nations and released its findings amid a heated debate over whether America’s penalties are too stiff.

Deal Signed With El Salvador to Stem Immigration

The Trump administration signed a deal Wednesday with El Salvador that would effectively seal off the region, preventing asylum-seekers traveling through Central America in order to enter the United States. This agreement, signed on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, paves the way to send asylum-seekers to Honduras, one of the world’s most violent countries, like its neighbors. A similar arrangement was signed with Honduras last week; a more comprehensive agreement was previously sealed with Guatemala. President Trump said at a news conference at the United Nations that the agreements, coupled with a crackdown by Mexico following tariff threats by his administration, “will make a tremendous difference in our southern border.” Most families arrested or stopped at the US-Mexico border are from the area known as the Northern Triangle: Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador. While they would not be returned to their home countries, they would be sent to other countries they passed through. For example, Hondurans must travel through Guatemala to reach the US by land. The deal completes a central component of Trump’s strategy to deter asylum-seekers from entering the US through Mexico.

  • The agreement was swiftly condemned by immigrant advocates. “We will say it again and again: people cannot be forced to seek safety in countries where they will not be safe,” said Charanya Krishnaswami, the advocacy director for the Americas at Amnesty International USA.

Limits Lowered on Admitting Refugees to Record Low

The number of refugees admitted for resettlement in the United States in the next 12 months have been lowered once again to a record low, according to new regulations announced by the State Department. The administration says it will admit 18,000 refugees in the next fiscal year, the lowest number since the program began in 1980, the Guardian reports. The cap was 30,000 last year and 110,000 in the final year of the Obama administration. President Trump also issued an executive order Thursday stating that the federal government will seek the approval of state and local governments before resettling refugees, both to “identify the best environments for refugees” and “to be respectful of those communities that may not be able to accommodate refugee resettlement.”

Immigration Update

A USA TODAY review of dozens of communities along the border – and some far from it – shows that local governments have spent at least $7 million over the past year to care for thousands of undocumented migrants released after being detained by the federal government. Leaders in those communities say it’s their moral responsibility to care for migrants who are often sick, exhausted from their journey and usually out of money. City leaders from both political parties say they are frustrated with the Trump administration for what they describe as an unfunded mandate, forcing local communities to pick up the pieces of a broken federal immigration system.

Homeland Security will finally end “catch-and-release” of Central American immigrant families caught crossing the border illegally, acting Secretary Kevin K. McAleenan announced Monday, saying the department has finally gotten a handle on the migrant surge that had sowed chaos at the border over the last year. McAleenan said families that attempt to claim asylum will usually be sent to wait in Mexico while their cases proceed in U.S. immigration courts. Those who don’t attempt to claim asylum will be quickly returned to their home countries. The announcement is a sign of how much progress McAleenan has made in changing the dynamics at the border, cutting record levels of families migrating illegally and striking a series of deals with Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to gain their cooperation in repatriating their citizens.

Historically, 90% of the migrants who illegally crossed the southwest border of the United States came from Mexico. They were single adult men, typically seeking work in the U.S. They paid smugglers – known in Mexico as coyotes or polleros – to help them evade the U.S. Border Patrol. When caught, they were usually quickly deported. That border is nearly unrecognizable today, reports the USA Today. The percentage of adult males from Mexico crossing the border has plummeted. Meanwhile, the percentage of asylum-seeking adults with children in tow or children arriving without parents has soared, especially from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, three countries in Central America with high rates of poverty and violence. Smugglers once guided groups of adult males through remote and often dangerous areas of the desert to evade the Border Patrol. Now, they are known to take migrant families and children to areas in plain sight of the Border Patrol, where the migrants simply surrender. Other migrants travel together in large caravans, perceived as a cheaper and safer alternative to traveling through Mexico to the U.S. border.

Billions of Birds Gone in U.S.

North America has lost nearly 3 billion birds since 1970, a recent study said, which also found significant population declines among hundreds of bird species, including those once considered plentiful. Overall, the drop was from about 10 billion birds in 1970 to about 7 billion now. “Multiple, independent lines of evidence show a massive reduction in the abundance of birds,” said study lead author Ken Rosenberg, a senior scientist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and American Bird Conservancy, in a statement. “We expected to see continuing declines of threatened species. But for the first time, the results also showed pervasive losses among common birds across all habitats, including backyard birds.” The cause is primarily habitat loss, as birds are losing the places they need to live, find food, rest and raise their young.

Colt Suspending Production of Military-Style Weapons for Civilians

The American firearms company Colt is suspending production of military-style weapons for civilian use, including the popular AR-15. Colt’s president and CEO Dennis Veilleux attributed the West Hartford, Connecticut-based company’s shift to changes in consumer demand and a market already saturated with similar weapons. The company will concentrate on fulfilling military and law enforcement contracts with its rifle manufacturing, Veilleux said, adding the company also is expanding its lines of pistols and revolvers. Veilleux acknowledged there has been some criticism from gun rights advocates for moving away from the civilian market for assault weapons.

Bans on Vaping Products Increasing

Walmart said it will stop selling e-cigarettes at its stores, becoming the latest company to crack down following an outbreak of illnesses and deaths associated with vaping. The nation’s largest retailer said it will complete its exit from e-cigarette sales after selling what’s currently available on store shelves. Walmart joins several other corporations limiting the reach of e-cigarettes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was investigating more than 450 cases of a lung disease linked to vaping. Media giants Viacom, CBS and WarnerMedia all revealed this week that they would stop running advertisements for e-cigarettes.

Federal Agencies Binge-Buy in Last Month of Fiscal Year

Federal agencies have shelled out tens of millions of dollars on cars, movie cameras and other items in a contract spending spree that happens across government at the end of every fiscal year. All told, roughly 20% of the $500 billion in government spending each year on disclosed contracts is in the fiscal year’s last month, according to watchdog groups. The State Department dropped more than $33 million on passenger cars in the first two weeks of this month and the Justice Department spent more than $3 million on movie cameras, records show. Not to be outdone, the U.S. Mint has spent more than $60 million on raw gold and silver. An estimated $66 million has gone to debt collectors trying to claw back money spent on student loans, records show. During the final fiscal month last year, taxpayers picked up the tab for lobster tails, video games, golf carts and more, a report at OpenTheBooks.com found. Extrapolating from the past few years to 2019, it appears at least $100 billion will be spent in September.

Persecution Backfires Against Chick-fil-A

Eight years ago, boycotts were launched against Chick-fil-A restaurants after gay-rights activists protested the company’s support of a pro-family group and the son of the founder made a statement in support of traditional marriage. The result? The chain’s sales have more than doubled to $10.5 billion in 2018, up nearly 17% percent from the year before, making it the third largest fast-food restaurant, behind only Starbucks and McDonald’s, reports World Net Daily. The chain has opened nearly 700 more locations in recent years.

Economic News

Currently, annual U.S. interest payments represent just 9.8% of tax revenues, lower than any time in the 1980s and 1990s, when they peaked at 18.4%, according to the USA Today.

The average rent in the U.S. rose 3.3% in August from a year earlier, reaching $1,472, according to RENTCafe.

Sales of passenger vehicles plunged 31% in July, according to figures released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) on Tuesday. It’s the ninth straight month of declines and the sharpest one-month drop in more than 18 years. The slump has prompted companies to slash over 330,000 jobs through the closing of car dealerships and cutbacks at component manufacturers

The average age of cars and light trucks on U.S. roads reached an all-time high of 11.8 years in 2018, according to research firm IHS Markit.

More than a decade into the longest economic expansion on record, almost two-fifths of Americans said in a new Bankrate poll that their main financial priority was just keeping their heads above water on living expenses rather than saving money. Another 19 percent of said dealing with credit card debt is their top priority.

In a new survey by New York Life, the No. 1 financial regret cited among U.S. adults is not saving for retirement.

According to a recent study by The Ascent, as many as 35% of millennials indicate that they own a credit card in order to make purchases they cannot afford, which will only sink them deeper and deeper in debt.

Persecution Watch

A group of Rohingya Christians amongst the 750,000 mainly-Muslim Rohingya people, who fled genocide at the hands of the Myanmar Army as refugees, are now doubly persecuted as they face renewed violence from Muslims within refugee camps in Bangladesh. A church leader has contacted Barnabas Aid to tell of an upsurge in violence this month and to plead for prayers for the isolated group of several hundreds of Rohingya Christian converts from Islam. Already belonging to what some have called the “most persecuted people on earth”, the small community of Rohingya believers are now being subjected to anti-Christian violence from extremist Muslim Rohingya around them in the camps in Cox’s Bazaar district.

Eritrea is the center point of some of the most intense persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in modern times. As of September 17, 2019, three of the Witnesses have been unjustly incarcerated for 25 years. In addition, 39 men and 10 women who are Witnesses are also imprisoned. All Witnesses currently in prison have never been charged, appeared in court, or sentenced. Therefore, they do not know when they will be released. Four Witness men have died while in prison, and three died after they were released because of the harsh conditions they suffered.

Flee, convert or die – this is the stark choice repeatedly laid before the Christians of Burkina Faso by Islamist terrorists. “Stop doing the church services and turn to Islam, you and your congregation, or we will visit you and kill you,” they warned. The pastor and his extended family fled just in time, but four other local Christians were killed a few hours later when the terrorists arrived. Terrorist violence began in Burkina Faso in 2015, but in 2019 Christians became the primary target of the terrorists. Clinging faithfully to Christ, at least 59 of His followers have been killed by terrorists this year, singled out because of their active commitment to the Lord. Thousands of others have fled. There have been no reports of any renouncing their faith.

China has been harvesting organs from religious minorities and “prisoners of conscience,” a China Tribunal claimed Tuesday to United Nations. Forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience, including the religious minorities of Falun Gong and Uyghurs, but also Tibetans and House Christians, has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale,” China Tribunal lawyer Hamid Sabi said. There have been “hundreds of thousands of victims” in “one of the worst mass atrocities of this century,” according to Sabi.

Israel

Israel’s recent parliamentary elections ended with a virtual tie between the two leading contenders, incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue & White leader Benny Gantz. By week’s end, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin had surprisingly handed Netanyahu an initial mandate to try to form a ruling coalition, urging him to pursue a national unity government above all. All the main players are saying good things about the unity idea, but it may just be posturing in order to paint everyone else as uncompromising and angling for a dreaded third election, notes ICEJ News. But it may also be a realization that there are greater concerns for the nation looming on the near horizon and they need to somehow close ranks and prepare for some expected regional turbulence ahead.

Iran

Britain has concluded that Iran was responsible for attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Sunday. He said the UK would consider taking part in a US-led military effort to bolster the Gulf kingdom’s defenses. Britain had previously held back from attributing blame for the drone and missile attack, after Saudi Arabia and the United States said Iran was responsible. Johnson said he would meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at this week’s UN General Assembly.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said on 9/20 that the U.S. will send troops to the Middle East in response to an attack last weekend on Saudi Arabian oil facilities, but officials offered few specifics about the scope of that response. Blaming Iran for a “significant escalation of violence,” Esper said nations in the region requested U.S. assistance, specifically Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Esper described the mission as “defensive” and officials said it would be a “moderate” deployment and “not thousands” of troops.

On Monday, Iran said the British oil tanker Stena Impero was free to leave after two months of detention. Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Rabiyee was quoted in FARS, Iran’s semi-official news agency, as saying the Iranian government had decided to condone the vessel’s previous violation of maritime regulations. The IRGC had seized the ship on July 19 and accused it of violating maritime rules and regulations in the Strait of Hormuz, FARS reported at the time. The ship’s seizure had been seen as a sign of retaliation against the previous British detention of an Iranian tanker at Gibraltar. The British released the tanker in mid-August.

Islamic State

The Islamic State claimed responsibility on Saturday for the bombing of a minibus that killed 12 people near the entrance to a major Iraqi pilgrimage center. The attack was one of the most lethal since the fall of the Islamic State’s de facto capital at the end of 2017. It was also one of the few Islamic State attacks south of Baghdad since the group’s self-declared caliphate collapsed. The bomb, left on the minibus by a passenger, exploded at a checkpoint at one entrance to Karbala. Iraqi security forces said they had arrested a cell of three young men who were responsible.

Afghanistan

At least 48 people have been killed in two separate suicide attacks in Afghanistan on Tuesday. In Parwan province, to the north of Kabul, a Taliban suicide bomber targeted an election campaign rally where Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani was set to speak, killing 26 people and wounding 42. Ghani was not hurt in the attack which happened at a checkpoint near the rally venue, according to Wahida Shahkar, a spokesperson for the governor of Parwan. Nasrat Rahimi, spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Interior, said that of the 26 people killed 22 were civilians and four were security staff. Women and children were among the victims, Rahimi confirmed.

Hong Kong

Protesters in Hong Kong trampled a Chinese flag, vandalized two subway stations and set at least two street fires on Sunday, as pro-democracy demonstrations took a violent turn once again. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests, now in their fourth month, have often descended into violence late in the day and at night. A hardcore group of protesters says the extreme actions are needed to get the government’s attention. On Saturday, police used tear gas and rubber rounds against protesters who threw gasoline bombs toward them and set fires in streets. Hong Kong’s leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, has agreed to withdraw an extradition bill that sparked the protests in early June. But the anti-government protesters are pressing other demands, including fully democratic elections in the semiautonomous Chinese territory and an independent investigation of complaints about police violence during earlier demonstrations.

Bahamas

Officials are grappling with how to deal with 1.5 billion pounds of debris left behind in Marsh Harbour after Hurricane Dorian decimated the community in Abaco, Bahamas. That number is from just one section of the areas that took the brunt of Dorian’s wrath. The landscape was littered after Dorian with splintered homes and buildings, boats, cars and every sort of debris associated with daily life. The death toll from the storm officially remains at 53, but 692 people are listed as missing. More than two weeks after Hurricane Dorian wiped out entire neighborhoods, East Grand Bahama still looks like a war zone, and the stench of death is everywhere say rescue workers. An estimated 4,000 Dorian survivors have sought refuge in Florida.

Brazil

Brazil’s president slammed socialism as a death-dealing ideology and defended his country’s sovereignty over the Amazon rainforest in a hard-hitting address at the United Nations on Monday. Jair Messias Bolsonaro, elected in October 2018 and inaugurated January 1, 2019, also exhorted the UN not to overstep its mandate and pointed to the Gospel as a guiding light. “We are not here to erase nationalities and overrule sovereignty in the name of an abstract ‘global interest,'” Bolsonaro said during general debate at the 74th U.N. general assembly. “When it comes to matters related to climate, democracy, human rights, to the equality of rights and duties between men and women and many others, all we need to do is contemplate the truth, following John 8:32,” Bolsonaro said. “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Environment

The Special Report on Oceans and the Cryosphere released Wednesday offers a bleak picture. It warns that the world’s oceans have reached or are nearing critical tipping points: Oceans have gotten warmer, more acidic and are losing oxygen, resulting in a cascade of negative effects that are wreaking havoc on coral and other marine ecosystems, threatening the collapse of the world’s fisheries and turbocharging deadly hurricanes and tropical storms. As glaciers and ice sheets have melted faster, and rising temperatures have warmed the surface of the sea, the planet’s marine zones have absorbed the heat. But now, the systems are now at or near overload and threaten to collapse.

Planpincieux glacier on Italy’s Mont Blanc mountain rage is threatening to collapse at any moment, sparking evacuations and road closures in the area. About 250,000 cubic meters of ice is at risk of collapse from the glacier. The glacier has recently been moving about 20 inches per day, due to a fissure caused by higher-than usual summer temperatures in Europe. Experts are unable to predict exactly when the ice will break away. Most of the homes in the area are summer homes, and no residents in the town have been evacuated, though tourists have been banned from the dangerous area.

Earthquakes

At least 20 people have been killed in a magnitude 6.5 earthquake on one of Indonesia’s least populated islands. At least 20 were killed and about 100 were injured. More than 2,000 people took refuge in various shelters. The quake hit at 6:46 a.m. local time Thursday about 20.5 miles northeast of Ambon in Indonesia’s Maluku province. Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency said dozens of homes, a number of buildings and other public facilities were damaged, including a major bridge in Ambon.

A 6.0-magnitude earthquake rattled Puerto Rico just hours before Tropical Storm Karen was forecast to pound an island still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Maria two years ago. No serious damage or injuries were immediately reported from the quake, centered about 50 miles northwest of the island when it struck just before midnight Monday. Several strong aftershocks further rocked many residents. Meanwhile, a light rain was falling on San Juan on Tuesday morning as Tropical Storm Karen made its way toward the island. The National Weather Service issued a tropical storm warning, forecasting heavy winds and rain beginning later in the day.

A 5.8 magnitude earthquake shook Istanbul on Thursday, sending school children and residents into the streets and collapsing the minaret of a mosque in Turkey’s commercial and cultural center. Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority said the earthquake struck in the Sea of Marmara at 1:59 p.m. at 4.4 miles deep and was felt throughout the western Marmara region, which includes Istanbul. Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu said that there were no reports of deaths from the quake.

An earthquake hit western Albania last Saturday afternoon. Initial reports said the quake was measured at magnitude 5.8 and injured over 100 people. According to the Albania Defense Ministry, the Institute of GeoSciences, Energy, Water and Environment reported the quake struck 8 miles north of the port city of Durres at 12:04 p.m. local time. The Defense Ministry said the first quake was felt all along Albania’s west coast and far to the east. Witnesses in Durres and the capital of Tirana reported damaged homes and apartments. An aftershock with a preliminary magnitude of 5.3 sent residents running out of homes and apartments. A total of 350 aftershocks have continued to rattle the Albanians.

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake damaged homes and buildings and cracked roads Tuesday in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Although local news reported deaths, those reports were unconfirmed. Injuries were confirmed in Mirpur. Giant cracks opened in roads near the epicenter, and media reports said cars fell into some of them. The quake struck at 4:01 p.m. local time about 2 miles southeast of the Mirpur district of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and was felt across much of northern Pakistan. The temblor shook walls in Pakistan’s capital city of Islamabad, about 55 miles northwest of Mirpur.

Weather

Tropical Storm Karen brought heavy rain to the U.S. Virgin Islands on Tuesday, triggering landslides and knocking out power. With the storm inching toward Puerto Rico, Gov. Wanda Vázquez declared a state of emergency Monday and ordered public schools closed on Tuesday in advance of Karen. Schools were also closed in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands.

The slow-churning remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda dangerously flooded parts of Texas and Louisiana on last week, scrambling rescue crews and volunteers with boats to reach scores of stranded drivers and families trapped in their homes during a relentless downpour that drew comparisons to Hurricane Harvey two years ago. The National Weather Service estimated that Jefferson County was deluged with more than 40 inches of rain in a span of just 72 hours. Officials in Harris County, which includes Houston, said there had been a combination of at least 1,000 high-water rescues and evacuations to get people to shelter. More than 900 flights were canceled or delayed in Houston, and further along the Texas Gulf Coast, authorities warned that a levee could break near Beaumont in Jefferson County.

Residents of Arizona on Tuesday continued to clean up damage left behind by remnants of Hurricane Lorena. A possible tornado damaged mobile homes, knocked down trees and snapped power lines in Wilcox, Arizona, about 67 miles east of Tucson. More than 1,800 customers lost electricity. Earlier Monday afternoon, a tornado touched down in the Cave Creek and New River areas near Phoenix. There were no reports of damage in that sparsely populated area. It was the first time in five years the National Weather Service’s Phoenix office issued a tornado warning. The Phoenix area also saw street flooding that stranded vehicles across the metro area on Monday, including a school bus with about 120 children onboard.