Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Obama's Mess in the Middle East

Michael Doran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense, and a former senior director of the National Security Council has written a very lucid, very important article for Mosaic. "Tectonic Shift in Obama's Iran Policy" details how Barack Obama's shameful nuclear deal with Iran is just the beginning of a whole lot of trouble. The president’s goal, at the expense of America’s allies, is full-fledged détente with Iran.

I print a few paragraphs below but, believe me, you'll find the full article very helpful in understanding the mess our president is creating.

Exaggerating the successes of Lausanne may have been a savvy maneuver against the president’s domestic critics, but it weakened his hand against the Iranians by telegraphing his deep personal investment in the negotiations. Failure to get a deal would now be a major embarrassment. Knowledge of this fact gave Khamenei an opening, which he exploited with his defiant speech. Not so fast, the speech signaled to Obama. In order to get the agreement that you’re already celebrating, you must pay—in the form of more concessions to me. 

If past behavior is anything to go by, Obama will give Khamenei what he wants. Indeed, American concessions have propelled the negotiations forward at every stage…

One of Obama’s greatest diplomatic successes is to have persuaded much of the world, including many of his critics, that the primary goal of his Iran diplomacy is to negotiate a nuclear arms-control agreement. In fact, the primary goal is détente with Iran.

In the president’s thinking, détente will restrain Iranian behavior more effectively than any formal agreement. In addition, it will also open the way to greater cooperation with Iran on regional security. Détente will permit the United States to pull back from the Middle East and focus more on its domestic priorities. Finally, it will vindicate Obama’s ethos of “engagement,” which he sees as a superior alternative to the military-driven concepts of American leadership championed by his Republican opponents. In short, détente will secure Obama’s legacy.

By contrast, Khamenei is pursuing highly specific goals. Three stand out above all others. He is seeking, first, to preserve Iran’s entire nuclear infrastructure; second, to repeal the sanctions on the Iranian economy; and third, to abolish the international legal regime that brands Iran a rogue state. In all three areas, Obama has already satisfied his core demands…

The disarray and atomization among the anti-Iranian states in the Middle East means that they (like the American Congress) will likely prove incapable of mounting a decisive opposition to Obama’s détente. But their inability to stop it does not mean they will ever accept it. They will remain dedicated to contesting Obama’s policy, and they will continue to fight back against Iran and its proxies in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq—not to mention new venues that will appear over time.

Détente, therefore, will deliver disequilibrium, the exact opposite of the effect intended. By negotiating an arms-control agreement, the president has shifted the tectonic plates of the Middle East order. And for tectonic plates, it takes a move of just inches to level whole cities.

Friday, April 17, 2015

A Traitor Comes Home

“And He entered and was passing through Jericho.” (Luke 19:1) This is the short and unpretentious beginning to one of the most well-known narratives of the New Testament, the story of Jesus’ encounter with the short-statured taxman, Zaccheus. But though this is a familiar account, there’s still much to apply from its teaching and, quite possibly, a few new things to learn too. Let’s take a look.

Tread the rest of the April LifeSharer from Vital Signs Ministries right here.

A Few "Wow" Articles Not To Be Missed

* "Police: Muslims threw Christians overboard during Med voyage" (Associated Press)

* “Faith Takes a Furlough” (Tony Perkins, FRC)

* “Former TSA Agent: Groping Scandal Is Business as Usual” (Jason Edward Harrington, TIME)

* “Girl Scouts Troop Hopes to Attract Transgender Recruits” (Austin Ruse, Breitbart)

* “Chelsea Clinton — $10M Apartment, $3M Wedding, $600K Job: I Just Don't Care About Money” (Leslie Larson, New York Daily News)

* “ESPN suspends reporter after ugly towing-lot rant” (Mark W. Sanchez and Justin Terranova, New York Post) (Warning: the video clip accompanying this story contains the reporter's profane and vile language. And was the lady fired by ESPN as she certainly should have been? No. She was "suspended" for one week!)

* "Obama Says Cuba Doesn’t Sponsor Terrorism. So What Are All These Hijackers and Bomb-Makers Doing There?" (James Kirchik, Daily Beast)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

"Uneducated and Untrained" Witnesses

“Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13: NASB)

The local society around Peter and John could not figure out the source of their confidence.  The Greek words give special meaning to what the locals really thought of these two bold men.  First, they were said to be uneducated.  The Greek word is “agrammatos,” which is literally “without grammar.” Peter and John were uneducated fishermen who would, using our terminology, “slaughter the King’s English.”  Second, these men were untrained. This is a word that looks better in English than Greek, for the Greek word is“idiotes.” I think you can figure out what English word grew out of the original Greek!  In essence, the community considered Peter and John to be illiterate idiots! 

But there was one other thing the community saw in Peter and John—they had been with Jesus!  This was a testimony to the belief in the risen Lord.  Everyone knew they had been with Jesus before the crucifixion, but the change in demeanor was proof to the community that they had been with Jesus after the crucifixion, giving tangible proof of His resurrection. Better to have the presence of the risen Lord in your life than the best education this world can offer! 

From “No Replacement” by Dr. Randy White, one of the daily devotional columns you can find at “Word for the World with Dr. Randy White” on Crosswalk.com.

By the way, the above illustration is from the painting “Peter and John Running to the Tomb” by Eugène Burnand (1850 – 1921).

Christian “Witnessing”

Dr. Michael Youssef has these comments about witnessing:

…Many Christians talk about witnessing but most don’t have a truly accurate view of what being a witness means. To better understand the term, just look at what a witness in a court trial does. His duty is simple: to tell the truth about what he experienced. He is not responsible for fully understanding the law or the process; he is only obligated to tell what he saw and heard. Telling others what we experienced when we met Jesus is our duty as witnesses for Christ, and it should be our joy to do so.  How can we keep the gift of salvation quiet and not share it with others?

The Samaritan woman was not a Bible scholar and did not fully understand all that had just happened to her, yet she could not contain her excitement. Her simple testimony was to tell everyone she met, “Come and see.” That sums up our role as witnesses: we are to invite others to come and see what Jesus has to offer them. We are messengers, bearers of the most valuable invitation people will ever receive.

Christians are often relieved to learn they are not responsible for saving souls; that role is divine and not ours. Just as a witness is not responsible for the verdict, we are not held accountable for whether the people we invite to know Jesus ever accept that invitation. A witness only tells his experience and then leaves the outcome up to the judge or jury.  In the same way, we share the Good News and then the Holy Spirit takes over…

“Leading The Way with Dr. Michael Youssef” is a daily devotional available on Crosswalk.com right here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Repeal the Death Tax...Please!


After a Facebook post earlier today in which I linked to a recent article in the Rapid City Journal in which Senator John Thune advocates a repeal of the death tax, I wrote, "Bob Thune's little brother advocates an idea that's long, long overdue. Why not add a call, e-mail, or handwritten note to YOUR political representatives urging them to co-sponsor and work hard for the passage of the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015. (Thank you Senator Thune. Thank you Senator Fischer. And I'd like to thank you too Senator Sasse but you haven't co-sponsored this important bill yet! Come on, brudda.)

I then e-mailed Senator Sasse using his Senate website. I included the link to Senator Thune's article, the gist of my remarks, and a second appeal.

So, what about it, Senator Sasse? Will you please co-sponsor this legislation? I'd love to add a postscript to Vital Signs Blog and my Facebook page applauding you for doing so.

Thanks for your consideration.

Denny Hartford
Director, Vital Signs Ministries
Omaha

Ecuador President Trashes America. Our President Applauds the History Lesson.

From Fausta’s Blog comes an illuminating (and sad) report on the Summit of the Americas:

President Rafael Correa of Ecuador managed to tear himself away from Twitter to give a speech condemning the U.S., and portraying Latin America (and especially Ecuador) as a paragon of freedom and human rights. 

Barack Obama was next, and he agreed with Correa!

Obama stated, “I wanna make one last comment, er, addressing er, some of the points that er, president Correa raised that I’m sure will be raised by a few others during this discussion. Er, I always enjoy the history lessons that I receive, er, when I’m here.

Having prefaced that, Obama continued, “I am a student of history so I tend to actually be familiar with many of these episodes that have been mentioned. I am the first one to acknowledge that America’s application to concern around human rights has not always been consistent. And, I’m certainly mindful that there are dark chapters in our own history in which we have not always observed the principles and ideals upon which the country was founded. Just a few weeks ago I was in Selma, Alabama celebrating the 50th anniversary of a march across a bridge that resulted in horrific violence and the reason I was there and the reason it was a celebration is because it was a triumph of human spirit in which ordinary people without resort to violence were able to overcome systematic segregation. There voices were heard and our country changed. America never makes a claim about being perfect, we do make a claim about being open to change.”

Fausta’s Blog then provides links to a few indicators of Ecuador’s “high standing.”
They include:
* Heritage Foundation & Wall Street Journal's Index of Economic Freedom — Ecuador #147
* Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index — Ecuador #119
* Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index — Ecuador #146
* Institute for Economics and Peace/Economist Intelligence Unit: Global Peace Index — Ecuador #109

How’s that for history lessons?