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 Matthew 24:42  “Therefore be on alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming!"

What Christian Conservatives Can Learn From the Islamic Revolution in Iran

 In 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini became the Supreme Leader of Iran, riding in on a tremendous groundswell of public support. The Shah had been forced to flee for his life, Khomeini was welcomed back from exile in France as a national hero, and the Islamic Republic of Iran was born. Today, however, a new poll finds that "only 32% of the population consider themselves Shia Muslims." The poll was conducted by the Group for Analyzing and Measuring Attitudes in Iran (GAMAAN), described as "a non-profit institute in the Netherlands, asked Iranians about their ‘attitude toward religion." The poll involved 50,000 Iranians. According to the results, "78% of Iranians believe in God, but only 26% of them believe in ‘the coming of the Messiah (Imam Mahdi)'," which is a major doctrine in Shia Islam. Remarkably, "Half of the population used to believe but does not anymore and 6% have converted to a new religion."

"Out of 61% of the people born into religious families, 60% do not say their daily prayers. 68% of the participants believe that religion must not be the basis of legislation, 71% believe that religious institutions must be self-funded, and 42% believe that promoting any kind of religion must be banned from the public sphere." In short, the people are rejecting a strict Islamic theocracy, which has driven people away from the faith rather than consolidated them in their faith. What makes this polling data so interesting is that the Iranian Revolution came from the bottom up, meaning, it was the people, led by the Muslim clergy, which toppled the iron-handed, very-secular Shah. While Khomeini was still in exile in France, his weekly teachings were recorded, duplicated on cassette tapes, and smuggled into Iran, where the clergy preached these same messages in the mosques on Fridays. And the people, revolting against the growing worldliness and anti-religious sentiments in their nation, toppled the regime, welcoming back the austere Khomeini. As for Khomeini himself, Hamid Algar wrote in 1981 that, "Given the current fame of Imam Khomeini as a revolutionary leader who has achieved a rare degree of success in the purely political sphere, it may appear surprising that he first gained fame as a writer and teacher concerned with devotional and even mystical matters." So, Khomeini began his career as a popular, spiritual teacher. But in his mind, the spiritual intersected with the secular and the political.

As Algar explained, "For Imam Khomeini, however, spirituality and mysticism have never implied social withdrawal or political quietism, but rather the building up of a fund of energy that finds its natural expression on the socio-political plane. The life of Imam Khomeini is a clear indication that the Revolution wrought by Islam necessarily begins in the moral and spiritual realm." What, then, can Christian conservatives in America learn from the state of affairs in Iran?

„ First, changing government leaders and changing laws is important, but changing hearts is much more important. Otherwise, if change is primarily enforced from the outside rather than produced on the inside, there will be a massive backlash. The end will be worse than the beginning. That's why I have emphasized repeatedly that we must put spiritual activity before political activity. As I tweeted on May 12, "If only we were as passionate about prayer as we are about politics! The nation would be rocked almost overnight and our own lives would be transformed." This is not a matter of either-or. It is a matter of emphasis, of putting first things first. By all means, we should work to change the laws where those laws are unjust or destructive. But we should work much harder to change hearts.

„ Second, every generation of believers must have a fresh encounter with God. We learn this from the history of Israel, where the book of Joshua tells us that, "Israel served the LORD during the lifetime of Joshua and the lifetime of the 2 of 42 / Eye on the World • Sept. 12, 2020 Churchofgodbigsandy.com Churchofgodbigsandy.com Eye on the World • Sept. 12, 2020 / 3 of 42 elders who lived on after Joshua, and who had experienced all the deeds that the LORD had wrought for Israel" (Joshua 24:31). The next generation, which did not experience the Lord's power and grace for itself, quickly fell away. It is the same with the Church. Grandpa's stories and Mother's testimonies will only have relevance for the younger generation when those young people experience the reality of their parents' and grandparents' God. Traditions can be passed down. Living faith must be experienced. Here too, if we do not get this right, there will be a revolt against God and the Christian faith. After all, how many people want strict morals and high standards of living without a personal encounter with the Lord?

„ Third, contrary to the theocratic worldview of Islam, in which the Muslim faith takes over and rules, enforcing and even coercing adherence, the New Testament method is very different. We are to preach the gospel, declaring God's love in the power of the Spirit, and as people are born-anew and transformed, they begin to lead different lives. Their values change. Their perspectives change. Their goals change. Their standards change. As a result, the world around them changes. Within the Church, as Christians start living like Christians, taking seriously the call of Jesus, they begin to shine their light more brightly. And that, in turn, touches the surrounding world in a positive way, drawing more nonbelievers to the faith while also confronting the social ills of the day. This is how we fight our battles. And this is what I refer to as gospel-based, moral and cultural, Jesus revolution. So, while we should stay involved politically, especially during this critical election season, we must put our priorities in the right place. Otherwise, while making temporary political gains, we will further alienate the next generation. For some years now, dating back well before the rise of Donald Trump, young people have been turning away from God. And yet these same young people are hurting deeply today. Let us bring to them the message of life, the message of hope, and the message of transformation-all of it found in Jesus. Politics cannot do this, nor can other religions, like Islam. It is the gospel truth that sets people free.

From "townhall.com"

How Voting for Socialism Caused Czechoslovakia 40 Years of Misery

 In 1946, Czechoslovakia became the only European nation to bring communism to power through a legitimate democratic process. Czechoslovakia boasted a successful interwar democracy between 1918 and 1939. But after six years of Nazi occupation, a disillusioned, war-weary, and idealistic people fell prey to the false messianic promises of the communists. When the people of Czechoslovakia voted the Communist Party into office in 1946, they too believed they were building on the ruins of a failed system. Czechoslovakia had functioned as a successful democracy from its founding in 1918 until it was occupied by Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. It emerged from the war with a thirst for freedom but a loss of faith in the old order.

Czechoslovakia's experiment in pursuing a socialist utopia entailed 41 years of one-party rule. Only after the collapse of the Soviet Union and a peaceful revolution was democracy restored. The fear, lies, envy, persecution, and oppression that characterized the regime followed the same pattern as every society that has suffered at the hands of socialists. What distinguishes Czechoslovakia's experience is that a people who had thrived under a superior form of government, and should have known better, unwittingly voted this evil into power.

 

From "TheFederalist.com"

Ruins From First Temple-period Palace Found in Southern Jerusalem

 The palace was likely built in the early seventh century B.C.E. in King Hezekiah's time, after Jerusalem had survived a siege by the Assyrians - capitals uncovered show palm tree motif typical of Kingdom of Judah. Elaborately decorated capitals bearing the symbol of the Judahite monarchy apparently from a palace erected 2,700 years ago were discovered in Jerusalem, the Israel Antiquities Authority revealed on Thursday. The finds from the First Temple Period were made in the neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv, a strategic hill located south of Jerusalem's Old City.

A team headed by IAA archaeologist Yaakov Billig discovered the buried pieces of palace, with beautifully carved capitals in the style of the Kingdom of Judah, in November, during a dig ahead of the construction of a visitors' center. The palace was possibly destroyed during the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E., said Yuval Baruch, the head archaeologist for the Jerusalem District at the IAA. The remains were found in the area of destruction.

"The quality not only of the capitals but other finds, such as the columns, is extraordinary," Baruch told Haaretz. He added that throughout the Levant, finds of this exceptional quality are associated with royal estates.

From "Haaretz.com"

It's The Worst Disaster of the Pandemic. But WHO Chief Says Our Lack of Concerns Shows ‘Moral Bankruptcy'

 They are among the greatest victims of coronavirus, yet elderly people continue to be dismissed, despite growing evidence of the devastating effects the pandemic has had on them.

Earlier this week, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he had heard people describing high Covid-19 death rates among older people as "fine." "No, when the elderly are dying it's not fine. It's a moral bankruptcy," he told a news conference. "Every life, whether it's young or old, is precious and we have to do everything to save it."

 

WHO figures from last week show that almost 88% of all deaths in Europe were among people aged 65 and over. And almost half of all deaths linked to Covid-19 globally have taken place in care homes, according to the Long-Term Care Covid (LTCcovid) network at the London School of Economics.

But despite vast numbers of elderly people dying of coronavirus -- and a significant drop in the quality of life of many of those forced to self-isolate -- the global response to the risks they face in the era of Covid-19 has often been chilling. When Sweden took the controversial decision not to lock down, the country's chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told a local newspaper that its Public Health Agency "didn't know that there would be such a big potential for the disease to spread in elderly care homes, with so many deaths."

 

Older people living at home have largely gone unnoticed during the pandemic. LTCcovid found limited evidence from anywhere in the world on how people who receive care in the community have been affected by Covid-19.

 

In the US, it reported that challenges in the system that already disproportionately affected individuals of low-socio-economic status and people from minority ethnic communities "have been greatly exacerbated by the crisis."

From "CNN"

Despite Pressure From Trump, Arab Nations Resist Normalizing Ties with Israel

When he announced a potentially historic deal last month in which Persian Gulf nation United Arab Emirates said it was preparing to recognize Israel, President Trump predicted other Arab states would quickly follow suit.

But after two trips through the region by senior Trump advisors to build on what they hoped would be momentum from the Emirates deal, no other Arab nation has said it is willing to take the long-shunned leap to accept and recognize Israel as a legitimate Mideast neighbor, at least not until Israel resolves its conflict with Palestinians.

They may be waiting to see what happens with the U.S. election in November, as well as the final details of an Israeli-Emirati deal, expected to be signed later this month or next.

But their hesitance also reflects decades of political and religious tension, in which most of the Arab world steadfastly pretends Israel does not exist.

The Emirates would become only the third Arab country in history to recognize Israel, after Egypt and Jordan. Trump's son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner traveled Monday on the first publicly acknowledged direct flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi, the Emirates' main city, aboard the Israeli airliner, El Al.

Kushner used his four-day trip to the Middle East to try to entice additional Arab countries to join the Emirates in moving to normalize relations with Israel. That follows a similar sojourn last month by Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, who traveled to five countries in the region. Both officials came up empty-handed.

One obstacle is the two-decade-old Arab-sponsored peace plan in which countries of the region vowed to not recognize Israel until it resolved its conflict with Palestinians over land claimed by both sides, including some of the world's holiest sites in Jerusalem.

From "Yahoo News"

Turkey Warns West It Will Continue To Shop Around for Missiles

 Turkey said it would continue to turn to other providers of air-defense weapons if traditional western allies fail to deliver, suggesting the rancor prompted by Ankara's decision to buy Russian missiles may be repeated. The Turkish military needs upgrades far beyond the scope of its current purchase of an advanced S-400 system from Moscow, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an interview on Thursday. "If you don't want me to buy it from elsewhere, then you need to sell it," Cavusoglu said. "If you don't, we'll continue to buy from elsewhere. Today, this can be the S-400. Tomorrow, there will be another system. It doesn't matter."

The comments are the most forthright statement so far of Ankara's intention to substantially upgrade its air-defense capabilities, even at the cost of further inflaming ties with its partners in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. While there's already an outline deal with Russia for a second S-400 battery that would be jointly produced, the minister signaled Turkey won't stop there. "We need more than two batteries. Two, three, five [batteries] until we produce this ourselves," Cavusoglu said, citing possible threats Turkey faces in a volatile part of the world, especially from the decade-long civil war in neighboring Syria.

From "Bloomberg" 

Netanyahu Vows ‘Forceful' Response If More Attacks From Lebanon

 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel views with "great gravity" the latest flare-up on the Lebanese border and pledged a tough response in the event of further incidents.

"We shall react forcefully to any attack against us," Netanyahu said in a statement. "I advise Hezbollah not to test Israel's strength. Hezbollah is once again endangering Lebanon due to its aggression." Israel and Hezbollah fought a devastating month-long war in 2006. Israel said earlier it had launched air strikes against Hezbollah observation posts in Lebanon after shots were fired from across the border towards its troops the previous evening.

The border flare-up came hours after Lebanon rejected an Israeli call to reform the UN peacekeeping force which patrols the border ahead of a UN Security Council vote to renew its mandate. The Israeli army had said earlier that a "security incident" was unfolding near Manara, a kibbutz near the UN-demarcated border between the two countries, and urged residents to take shelter.

It reported no Israeli casualties. Manara was quiet on Wednesday morning, an AFP journalist reported. The army told residents they could come into the open and resume work in the fields.

From "france24.com"

 

 

Looming Middle East Arms Race Sparks Fear of Unprecedented Regional War

 The impending expiration of an international weapons ban on Iran threatens to flood the Middle East with high-tech Russian and Chinese military equipment, a situation that senior Trump administration officials warn will spark an arms race and could ignite a massive regional war.

A United Nations ban on the sale of weapons to Iran is set to expire in mid-October despite a last-ditch effort by the Trump administration to renew it. Senior U.S. officials involved in regional discussions told the Washington Free Beacon that Israel and its traditional Arab foes are united in opposition to the arms embargo lifting.

Without the arms ban, Russia and China are poised to bolster their already close military alliances with Iran, selling the country stockpiles of advanced weapons that will be available to the Islamic Republic's terror proxy groups, including Hezbollah in Lebanon. Both countries have sold Tehran arms in the past-including aiding its nuclear endeavors-and have been clear in recent months about their desire to amplify the relationship. The Trump administration is trying to block this outcome by invoking a mechanism known as snapback that was written into the nuclear deal. Snapback would reapply a litany of international sanctions on Iran and also ensure the arms ban remains in place.

From "Washington Free Beacon" 

 

Could Injectable Microrobots One Day Run In Your Veins?

Scientists have created an army of microscopic four-legged robots too small to see with the naked eye that walk when stimulated by a laser and could be injected into the body through hypodermic needles, a study said Wednesday.   

Microscopic robotics are seen as having an array of potential uses, particularly in medicine, and US researchers said the new robots offer "the potential to explore biological environments". 

One of the main challenges in the development of these cell-sized robots has been combining control circuitry and moving parts in such a small structure.

The robots described in the journal Nature are less than 0.1 millimetre wide -- around the width of a human hair -- and have four legs that are powered by on-board solar cells.

By shooting laser light into these solar cells, researchers were able to trigger the legs to move, causing the robot to walk around.

The study's co-author Marc Miskin, of the University of Pennsylvania, told AFP that a key innovation of the research was that the legs -- its actuators -- could be controlled using silicon electronics.

"Fifty years of shrinking down electronics has led to some remarkably tiny technologies: you can build sensors, computers, memory, all in very small spaces," he said. "But, if you want a robot, you need actuators, parts that move."


- 'Figuring out what's possible' -

The researchers acknowledged that their creations are currently slower than other microbots that "swim", less easy to control than those guided by magnets, and do not sense their environment.  

The robots are prototypes that demonstrate the possibility of integrating electronics with the parts that help the device move around, Miskin said, adding they expect the technology to develop quickly. 

"The next step is to build sophisticated circuitry: can we build robots that sense their environment and respond? How about tiny programmable machines? Can we make them able to run without human intervention?"  

Miskin said he envisions biomedical uses for the robots, or applications in materials science, such as repairing materials at the microscale.

"But this is a very new idea and we're still trying to figure out what's possible," he added. 

From "Yahoo News"

WHO Leader Says He Hopes Coronavirus Pandemic Will Be Over In 2 Years

 The World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the coronavirus as a "once-in-a-century health crisis" that has been able to spread rapidly, similar to the 1918 flu pandemic, and said he hopes it'll be over in 2 years.The Department of Defense spent $540,442,000,000.

During the first ten months of this fiscal year, the Treasury also spent $309,415,000,000 in net interest on the federal debt. But he also said that because of technological advances in medicine during the last century, there is a greater possibility it can be stopped before reaching that level of devastation. "We hope to finish this pandemic (in) less than two years, especially if we can pool our efforts," Tedros said Friday during a press briefing.

The coronavirus has infected 22.7 million people globally and killed nearly 800,000 people, according to John Hopkins University data Friday. The 1918 influenza infected 500 million people and killed around 50 million worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. WHO's chief of Health Emergencies, Dr. Michael Ryan, also pointed to the differences between the coronavirus and 1918 flu.

 

Ryan noted that there were three distinct waves that occurred with the 1918 pandemic, the second wave being the most devastating to the population. "This virus is not displaying a similar wave-like pattern," Ryan said. "When the virus is not under control, it jumps straight back up." The flu also operates seasonally and that has not been the case for the coronavirus, which has stayed strong well into the summer in some parts of the globe, including the U.S.

"That means every person and family has a responsibility to know the level of transmission locally, and to understand what they can do to protect themselves and others," Tedros said Friday.

 

"Throughout history, outbreaks and pandemics have changed economies and societies. This one will be no different," he added. Tedros explained that the lack of pollution from a world put on pause due to the pandemic, has created a new "impetus" in countries worldwide to maintain the healthier environmental living standards that have arisen.

"The pandemic has given us a glimpse of our world as it could be: cleaner skies and rivers," Tedros said, before using a catchphrase that has come to have a political meaning in the U.S. "Building back better means building back greener."

 

The WHO could not be reached to confirm whether Tedros intended to use a phrase that the Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has coined his campaign slogan, "Building Back Better."

The Trump administration has been highly critical of the WHO, accusing them of China-centric policies, and pulled the U.S. out of the organization in July.

 

The director-general said that the global community needs to use the pandemic recovery as an opportunity to start making changes that will address climate change and environmental discrimination. "Forty million health professionals from 90 countries have sent a letter to G20 leaders to call for a Healthy Recovery from COVID-19," he said. "And we have seen many examples of countries acting to protect lives, livelihoods and the planet on which they depend."

Tedros explained that the U.K. had its lowest coal emissions, the most polluting form of energy, in 250 years in 2020, after the pandemic.

 

Pakistan has set up a "green stimulus" scheme, which pays people who have lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus, to plant trees.

 

Spain has become one of the fastest decarbonizing nations in the world, shutting down seven of the country's 15 coal-fired power stations.

 

And Portugal will be coal-free by next year.

 

Hardship is an opportunity to learn, grow and change,Tedros said.

"COVID-19 is a once-in-a-century health crisis," he reiterated. "But it also gives us a once-in-a-century opportunity to shape the world our children will inherit -- the world we want."

 

From "Fox News"

 

2 Storms Pose Possible Double Threat to US Gulf Coast

 Two newly formed tropical storms could become almost simultaneous threats to the U.S. Gulf Coast early next week. They could even get sucked into an odd dance around each other. Or they could fall apart as they soak the Caribbean and Mexico this weekend.

Tropical storms Laura and Marco have such bad and good environments ahead of them that their futures were not clear late Friday. Computer forecast models varied so much that some saw Laura becoming a major hurricane nearing the U.S., while others saw it dissipating.

If both storms survive the weekend, the National Hurricane Center forecast that Laura would as head a hurricane toward the central Gulf Coast around LouisianaMississippiAlabama and the western Florida Panhandle, while Marco aimed at Texas, though most likely remaining a tropical storm.

"A lot of people are going to be impacted by rainfall and storm surge in the Gulf of Mexico," said Joel Cline, the tropical program coordinator for the National Weather Service. "Since you simply don't know you really need to make precautions."

Two hurricanes have never appeared in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time, according to records going back to at least 1900, said Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach. The last time two tropical storms were in the Gulf together was in 1959, he said.

Because the hurricane center slowed Laura's entrance into the Gulf and moved its track westward, the two storms are now forecast to be together in the Gulf on Tuesday, just before the weaker western storm smacks Texas with Laura making landfall a bit less than a day later.

The hurricane center on Friday issued tropical storm warnings for the northern Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico. Laura was forecast to hit Puerto Rico on Saturday morning, go over or near the Dominican Republic and Haiti late Saturday and Cuba on Sunday.

Laura, which set a record for the earliest 12th named storm of a season when it formed Friday morning, was moving through the northern Leeward Islands late Friday, about 195 miles (315 kilometers) southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico. It had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph) and was heading west at 18 mph (30 kph).

The hurricane center also issued a tropical storm warning and hurricane watch for part of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula for Marco, which grew into a tropical storm Friday night. Late Friday, it was centered about 210 miles (340 kilometers) southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph). It was headed northwest at 13 mph (20 kph).

If the two storms make it, they could be crowded in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time Tuesday about 550 miles apart. That would leave open some weird possibilities, including the storms rotating around each other in a tropical two-step, pulling in closer to each other, nudging each other, weakening each other or - far less likely - merging.

The last time two storms made landfall in the United States within 24 hours of each other was in 1933, Klotzbach said. It seems fitting for 2020 to have this type of twin threats, said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy. "Of course, we have to have two simultaneously land-falling hurricanes," McNoldy said. "It's best not to ask what's next."

From "USNews.com"

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