eNews For The Week Of January 03, 2012
In This Week’s Issue
- The Newest Beasts Of The Earth - (Read)
- The 'Piece' Process Resumes In Revised Mideast - (Read)
- A Challenge for the New Year - (Read)
Memory Verse of the Week
Important News Headlines
Credit card details belonging to thousands of Israelis were posted online Monday by a Saudi hacker. The hacker, known as 0xOmar, hacked into ONE, a popular Israeli sports website, where he posted the details of thousands of Israelis on the homepage. In addition to the Israelis' credit card numbers, addresses, names, telephone numbers and identity card numbers were also revealed. This is a reminder to the Knesset that in a technological era when every protective system also constitutes a potential for penetration, a biometric database is also an invitation to hackers to break in.
The Obama administration on Tuesday brushed aside Iran's warning to keep U.S. aircraft carriers out of the Gulf, dismissing its threats as a consequence of hard-hitting American sanctions on the Iranian economy. Provoking a hostile start to what could prove a pivotal year for Iran, the country's army chief said American vessels were unwelcome in the Gulf, the strategic waterway that carries to market much of the oil pumped in the Middle East. The Islamic republic also has warned of blocking one of the world's key tanker lanes, the Strait of Hormuz, in response to new, stronger U.S. economic penalties on Iran over its disputed nuclear enrichment program.
Doctor-prescribed death is illegal under Hawaii law despite what a pro-death group has argued, according to a newly authored legal opinion issued by Hawaii Attorney General David Louie to Sen. Josh Green, M.D.
Green requested the opinion after learning from media reports and an Alliance Defense Fund allied attorney that the group Compassion and Choices was publicly arguing that state law allows for physician-assisted suicide. According to Green, the attorney general's legal opinion states that state law "does not authorize physicians to assist terminally ill patients with dying" and "a physician who provided assistance with death could be charged under Hawaii's manslaughter statute."
In 1987, the concept of sustainable development hit the international stage through the publication of the Brundtland Report. The report linked environmentalism with leftist economics and social justice. By 1992, the Brundtland version of sustainable development was incorporated into United Nations' bylaws and formalized into an initiative known as Agenda 21.
Beginning with President Clinton, both Republican and Democratic administrations have continued to force smart growth and Agenda 21 programs on the American people on every level of government. Agenda 21 policies and sustainable development cannot work in a free market system, so central control is a must.
The Holland Sentinel
This Week’s 66/40 Radio Broadcast
The Acts of the Apostles
"Luke Volume II," often called "The Acts of the Apostles," completes the "Pentateuch of the New Testament." The traditional title of this book is, in some respects, a misnomer: it primarily deals with the "acts" of Peter and Paul. It really should be called "The Acts of the Holy Spirit." This review will explore the continuing mysteries of Hag Shavuot in Acts 2; the surprises in the history lesson Stephen gives the Sanhedrin in Acts 7; the controversies dealt with in the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15; the seamanship details which permitted the discovery of the anchors cut loose in Acts 27, as well as the adventures of Paul and his companions during his missionary journeys.
One of the last instructions given by Jesus to the Church was, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” (Mark 16:15)
The fact is most Christians don’t know how to share their faith effectively. Sadly, many of the people they know in the world today are wandering around, lost and without hope, having never heard the wonderful Message of Reconciliation.
How would you answer the question, “What must I do to be saved?”
What are the essential facts, demands and promises of the Gospel?
Why are we told to evangelize?
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Articles And Commentary
THE NEWEST BEASTS OF THE EARTH
At the end of Planet of The Apes (1968), Charlton Heston and Linda Harrison trot down the beach, where they famously see the charred remains of the Statue of Liberty and realize that the planet the apes are ruling is actually Earth. In the 2011 reboot, biotech researchers have produced a genetically engineered virus that increases the intelligence of both humans and apes. A stronger version of the virus is lethal to humans, however, and has the potential to wipe out the world's human population – answering the question of how future astronaut Charlton Heston eventually finds a post-apocalyptic Earth run by apes.
Is there a virus capable of truly deleting the majority of humanity on the planet? Does a microscopic bug exist with the perfect combination of immune-system defiance, easy transmission, and a just-long enough incubation period for those infected to unwittingly pass it on before it kills them dead? Guaranteed, there are folks hunting for such a monster, and if they can't find it in nature, they hope to build it.
The bird flu strain that killed a 39-year-old Chinese bus driver on New Year's Eve was not spread from human to human, according to a statement from China's Shenzhen Disease Control Center. The recent infection, like ones that caused other human deaths by bird flu, came from contact with diseased poultry. "Though it is highly pathogenic to human beings, the virus can not spread among people," said the statement. "There is no need for Shenzhen citizens to panic."
Researchers in Wisconsin and The Netherlands, however, have tweaked the genetic code of the H5N1 virus to make it airborne. Infected ferrets have spread the modified virus to each other, raising the uncomfortable possibility that it could be quickly transmitted between humans as well. The U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) stated on December 20 that the H5N1 researchers were free to publish the results of their study, but were not permitted to release a description of the process by which they produced the virulent new strain, except to a very trusted list of researchers.
Should bioterrorists learn how to manufacture this deadly bug and release it into a targeted human audience, it is expected it would be wildly difficult to stop the ensuing pandemic. The H5N1 has a death rate of about 50 percent, which is extremely high, almost 20 percent higher than that of smallpox fifty years ago.
What would possess researchers to purposely develop an airborne version of a deadly disease?
Flu viruses are notorious for their quick-mutating ways, which is why our immune systems have to adapt to the newest versions every year. The scientists at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have been seeking to get a step up on this potentially lethal virus so that they can find ways to conquer it before it does show up naturally in the general population. Virologist Ron Fouchier at the Rotterdam lab was amazed to see how few genetic changes it took to develop the airborne version of H5N1. From Fouchier's point of view, his work has helped the world appreciate how dangerous this virus truly is, encouraging countries with high rates of infection to take urgent steps to eradicate it.
In fact, there are a number of scientists who resent the government's effort to restrict access to the research. Knowing the steps the flu virus can take to reach airborne transmissibility could give those monitoring the bird flu the ability to recognize when it gets close to a pandemic form. It would give other labs the opportunity to further experiment and find ways to treat and prevent the spread of this potentially lethal virus.
On the other hand, the more bird flu floating around, the greater the possibility it could get out, whether by accident or design.
Bioterrorists do not need an airborne version of the bird flu to kill large numbers of people. There are plenty of easier, less expensive ways to do it. The ricin toxin or anthrax can be made in one's shed and don't require a sophisticated lab. Top of the line facilities are needed for purity and to avoid contamination. Bioterrorists, though, do not necessarily care whether their particular biological agent is contaminated. They're not trying to get FDA approval, after all.
The mechanisms of genetic engineering are no longer a big mystery, and even sophomores in high school biology can run experiments in which they add genes to bacteria. It takes time and/or automation to try out a large number of genetic possibilities, but a dangerous bug is not necessarily hard to create. What's more, after the Soviet Union fell, those who were experts in biotechnology needed jobs, available to be hired by those who had the money and interest.
If a bioterrorist's goal is to cause panic and gain attention, then the terrorist just needs to mail envelopes with white powder that could be anthrax… or… chalk dust. If the purpose is to harm a political enemy, then an airborne virus is a poor weapon, since it can spread across borders to other countries not intended for abuse, including the terrorist's home country.
If, however, the bioterrorists' goal is to cull the human population as a whole, then it would be ideal to use an easily transmitted and deadly virus like that offered in an airborne version of H5N1. If humanity itself is the terrorist's enemy, then it doesn't matter which international borders a pathogen crosses or which tribes and nations are affected.
Would-be bioterrorists do face a major hurdle if they want to infect the human population with a destructive super bug; they need a working space where they themselves can be safe from whatever it is they are cooking up. An airborne virus is a dangerous pathogen to those who work in the lab where it is being developed, and enjoying biosafety of that caliber can get expensive and requires equipment that raises the sorts of red flags that the FBI and Homeland Security and Interpol tend to notice.
In Revelation, we find the pale [chloros, green] horse as one of the four horsemen:
And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. -Revelation 6:8
We usually infer that the "beasts of the earth" are of the four-footed kind; we rarely include in our perspective the possibility that they might be microbial. There are many passages that may take on a different complexion when viewed from the vantage point of the current technological revolution in genetics, and the potential Bibilical implications are provocative.
In these uncertain times, more than ever we need to put all our trust and comfort and faith in the person of Jesus Christ and the love of a God who has all of our hairs numbered. Our job is not to fear, but to trust wholly in Him. Whether dealing with deadly diseases or simply crossing the street, He is our true source of safety.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. (Psalm 91:5-10)
THE 'PIECE' PROCESS RESUMES IN REVISED MIDEAST
Israeli and Palestinian Authority representatives met in Amman on Tuesday evening to resume the beginning of face-to-face negotiations after a 16-month hiatus. Jordan’s King Abdullah hosted Tuesday's meeting, having zealously worked to kick start the peace process, which the "Quartet," - the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations - has been actively promoting for months. Israeli negotiator Yitzhak Molcho and his Palestinian counterpart Saeb Erakat were at least able to agree to continue informal talks, which is better than screaming and cursing.
"We do not want to raise our expectations at this stage, but we also do not want to underestimate the importance of the meeting, which gathered the Palestinians and the Israelis face to face," Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said at a news conference after the Tuesday meeting.
There is a great deal of international pressure for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to sit and try to work things out. There were no expectations that major issues would be hammered out at the Amman meeting; it was meant to simply work out how the process could move forward. The Quartet has set a deadline of January 26 for the two sets of leadership to offer proposals on future borders and security, and the negotiations can proceed from there.
Neither side went to Amman with a desire to make concessions, though, and it's clear. Israel wants the Palestinians to enter the talks without preconditions, but the PA still wants the 1967 borders to be the basis of a two-state solution. In the meanwhile, Israel - desperate for places for people to live - has continued construction in the settlements around Jerusalem, despite international calls for a building freeze.
There are other serious issues. Israel's Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom (Likud) noted that PA President Mahmoud Abbas met with terrorists in Turkey not long before the meeting with Israel in Amman. The PA is also still holding talks with Hamas, which rejects Israel’s right to exist. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to negotiate with a Palestinian leadership that includes Hamas, and Hamas is not interested in peace with Israel. In fact, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called the talks a "farce, comedy and a waste of time."
When Hosni Mubarak fell in Egypt, Abbas and Israel both lost their Egyptian support. Now, both countries are turning to Jordan's King Abdullah II, who also has the friendship of the United States.
There was one thing that Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Jordan could all share concern about: the rise of political Islam as a result of the Arab Spring. "All three parties are very much concerned with the rise of Islamism, and that is part of what this meeting was about," said Zakaria al-Qaq, a political scientist at Al Quds University in East Jerusalem.
It is an uncertain time. The Islamic wave that has risen up across northern Africa appears to be more pragmatic than emotional, but only time will tell how it will behave as it matures.
While the renewal of talks offers hope for the peace process, it has long been clear that neither side is willing to give many inches.
Israel simply cannot afford to concede land. Any time Israel has pulled out of an area, its security has been threatened. When Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005 or left Lebanon in 2000, the land was taken over by Israel's enemies and used as a new staging ground for attack. Even the Sinai is now overrun by Islamic forces that want to destroy Israel. Asking Israel to give up more land absolutely ignores the very real increased security risk that Israel would face, especially considering the current instability in Egypt and Syria.
On Monday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak's office quoted him, saying, "The Sinai could turn into a greenhouse for the flourishing of terror groups. In the north, there could be potential ramifications from Syria in the Golan Heights and indeed in wider territories as a result of Assad losing control."
On the other hand, Jordan does not want to become the site of the Palestinian state, even though it has a significant "Palestinian" population. The Arab inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza were not pleased that the meeting in Amman was held at all, since Israel has not frozen its construction of settlements. The Arabs want negotiations to resume on the basis of the 1967 borders, and nothing else will do.
Even if the meetings are a "farce" as Hamas suggests, they do at least offer a way to release a bit of the steam from the pressure cooker that is the Middle East. Both sides get to offer their proposals by January 26. We'll see what happens next.
A CHALLENGE FOR THE NEW YEAR
The New Year is always a perfect time to review our priorities - personal, professional, family, and community - and make a renewed commitment to those things which we determine, with careful deliberation, to be the most fruitful paths toward growth and fulfillment.
Sometimes the most profound opportunities are right in front of us and yet go unnoticed because of their proximity and accessibility! One of these is the most powerful, life-changing opportunity I personally have ever encountered. I have had four decades of adventures of all kinds, but the one I want to suggest to you is unquestionably the most exciting and fruitful of all.
It is the home Bible study fellowship. A small group, meeting informally, but regularly, to explore the Word of God in the home. It is astonishing what God will do with a small, intimate, sincere group of believers, unencumbered with traditions and committed to embrace and become immersed in His Inerrant Word.
So shall my Word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it (Isaiah 55:11).
The church in the house of Philemon grew into the church of Colossae (Philemon 2). The church in the house of Nymphas became the church of Laodicea (Colossians 4:15). The churches in the house of Aquila and Priscilla, who seem to have made it their primary commitment, became the churches of both Ephesus and Rome (1 Corinthians 16:19; Romans 16:5).
The intimacy, the family atmosphere, and the personal accountability all combine to create an environment of spiritual growth unequaled in more formal settings. We, first of all, want to encourage you to explore your own community and find one that you would feel comfortable participating in. If you can't seem to find a convenient one in your neighborhood, pray about starting one yourself! It is easier than you might think, and we would like to help you. Do pray about it.
Now is the time. With the world in upheaval, people are open, inquiring, and anxious to learn what the Bible has to say. And there are some easy ways to get started, using prepackaged sets of materials to share among a small group. Some groups simply gather and listen to an audio tape or video, and then discuss it among themselves. Some leaders use the materials beforehand to prepare their own notes, etc.
Our series, Learn the Bible in 24 Hours and Prophecy 101, are being used by many groups to gain a strategic perspective on the "whole counsel of God." After one of these basic studies, we suggest that you pick a book of the Bible - any book - and take it verse by verse, at a pace of about a chapter a week. Use some time on the weekend to "bone up" with a commentary or two, explore any specifics with a Bible encyclopedia or dictionary, and you'll discover that it is easy to stay ahead of the group, a chapter at a time. Then watch what the Holy Spirit will do in your group! Comprehensive workbooks are now available for the Genesis and Daniel verse-by-verse commentaries, making them ideal for a small group Bible study.
We have noticed that across the country, more and more believers are gathering in homes every week for this very purpose. Some are doing it to supplement their church's teaching programs; others have chosen to make this their primary form of fellowship. And we are anxious to be as supportive as possible to any and all such groups. Our mission as a ministry is to create, develop, and distribute materials to stimulate, encourage, and facilitate serious study of the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. As we begin a new year we would like to challenge you to dig deeper into God's Word and apply the lessons you learn to your daily life.
Memory Verse Of The Week
But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law: For they are unprofitable and vain.
Titus 3:9 KJV
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“Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32
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