Israel To The Rescue: Innovation Addresses The Desert

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Israel’s Arava Desert is a dry and salt-encrusted wasteland getting about one inch of water each year. At least, it would be a wasteland anywhere but Israel. As things stand, the region’s dairies host happy cows producing eight million gallons of milk yearly. Bell pepper crops flourish, and Kibbutzim are lush, with vineyards yielding shiraz and sauvignon blanc. Israel is home to one of the finest can-do spirits in the world and ready to benefit the world. Even her enemies are welcome in peaceful partnership.

Much of Israel’s agricultural land features the same conditions. Wasteful farming practices – such as flooding a field to irrigate it – depleted what water there was by the 1960s. The Israelis pioneered drip irrigation. At one stroke, they delivered water to roots more efficiently and cut water losses to evaporation; crop yields grew exponentially. They committed to treating 80% of household sewage as a precious (fertilizing) resource. Their neighbors still tend to dump sewage, threatening public health through contamination of wells and aquifers.

Innovative agriculture is not new to Israelis. When Galilee was a malarial swamp in the 1880s, they planted eucalyptus trees to drain the land and transformed the Galil into some of the most fertile farmland in the world. Helping their neighbors is likewise something not new.

Before the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Israel came to Iran’s rescue, partnering with the Iranians in the developing of the water resources of both nations. The cooperation began in 1962, following a severe earthquake in Qazvin, Iran, resulting in twelve thousand dead and the destruction of a chain of water wells. Hundreds of thousands more Iranians were left without drinking water. Israel flew in drilling teams; newer and safer artesian wells were so successful Iran hired Israel to develop her water resources across the board. Beginning in 1968, Israel brought her expertise – still under development – to bear in the building of desalination plants for Iran.

With the revolution, the Israeli crews had to flee for their lives. Today, the plants they built and the wells they dug are aging while Israel receives half her drinking water from the seawater treated in her ever-improving desalination plants at home. It is purer, cleaner, and less salty than freshwater sources. It is available to any nation willing to work with Israel. Some – even in the region – are willing; others are not.

Egypt has ten times Israel’s population and fifty times her water. Her water usage methods are antiquated; but with the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood from power, there is potential for Israel to bless her neighbor. In Gaza, controlled by Hamas, there is massive pollution of the available water. No solution is likely without Israeli help, but Hamas refuses it. Yemen is another regional neighbor; Yemenis may literally run out of water in fifteen years–yet radicalism likely precludes their accepting help from Israel. California – mired in drought– could benefit from Israeli know-how, but there has been no interest from Sacramento. Political correctness hobbles California, and the hatred of Mideastern Islamists brooks no positive contact with Jews.

News from the US is not all negative. The University of Chicago recently concluded an agreement with Ben Gurion University for cooperative development of water technology and resources that will benefit our two nations and many more. Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel, not known for Zionist sympathies despite his Jewish background, flew to Israel to endorse the agreement. There is hope for mutual cooperation and understanding grounded in mutual need, although it is highly unlikely the forces of hate will cooperate when only the needs of their people are at stake. I intend no sarcasm; the hatred really burns that deeply.

On the other hand, what we see here is one more promise of God dynamically coming to pass. The prophet Zechariah writes in 8:12-13:

The seed will grow well, the vine will yield its fruit, the ground will produce its crops, and the heavens will drop their dew. I will give you these things as an inheritance to the remnant of this people. As you have been an object of cursing among the nations, O Judah and Israel, so will I save you and you will be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong.

It was never God’s plan to bless Israel and curse everyone else – or anyone else. It was always His plan to bless all others through His blessings on Israel. All that is required of the rest of us is to recognize His hand at work in Israel and joy in it. But there is no viable alternative to that recognition and joy.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

What Are The Ferguson Shootings Really About?

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A few weeks ago, I watched a video of last year’s unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. I watched rioters break through a store wall before looting it. Most of the looters grabbing whatever they wanted were white.

This is not about race. People on one side of the Ferguson divide say black people just want entitlements and will stop at nothing to get them – imagining that is not racist. People on the other side say black people suffered for centuries under white domination, and what goes around comes around – and imagining it not racist to label blacks incapable of rising above their circumstances when so many do. This is not about race – and never was. It is about law-abiding decent people versus law-defying indecent people of all tribes. It is about being part of the solution or part of the problem – seeking authentic reconciliation, or being so smug in our prejudices we despise conversation.

As a cadet teacher forty years ago, I taught in an inner-city school. A black student came on with attitude from our first encounter, and it seemed to me every exchange was a bomb waiting to explode. After about two weeks of (in my mind) great effort to approach him with courtesy and respect while maintaining my authority, I asked him to remain after class. “You tellin’ me I can’t go home?” he growled. “No. I am telling you I want to talk to you.” We sat down, and I asked him to tell me what it was about me that so ticked him off. He admitted that his fifth grade teacher was openly racist and constantly demeaned him. He said he decided then to shoot first and ask questions later with any white teachers he had. He added that he was not sorry for this.

I asked him to look at me carefully, which he did. I asked him if I in any way resembled the teacher who had earned his hatred. He said I did not. “Then suppose you and I start all over again – today – and look at each other as who we are. If you see me putting you down when you’ve done no wrong, push back; if not, give me a break and I’ll do the same for you. You remember I am the teacher, and I’ll remember you deserve my respect.” We got along famously after that. But we had to have a frank conversation.

Let’s be clear about two things. One is we have come a long way this past half century. A black man in the White House most potently symbolizes that progress. That civil rights legislation so passionately fought for in the 20th Century is rarely invoked today is another; we Americans have learned to honor one another – like the black man who taught twenty-year-old me to survive in the streets. The richest expression of general harmony is the plethora of ministries of reconciliation such as PrayNorthState; I travel the world honoring and being honored by people of all ethnicities. They have my back, and I have theirs. This camaraderie is common over millions of back fences.

This reconciling camaraderie surfaced in Ferguson as black activists embraced white cops in the wake of the shootings of two officers.

Another is that racism remains in America. It is as ugly as it ever was, and most of it comes from the rich and powerful inside and outside government. The Crow People and their Montana reservation sit atop untold reserves of oil, gas, and mineral wealth; the federal government blocks their efforts to tap it – they are, after all, Indians, while the environmentalists who have the ear of government are white. Alaska natives passionately desire the prosperity that would follow opening the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge for drilling. The same white progressive environmentalists in bed with government are putting a quarter billion acres of Native land off limits to protect the ring seal. Hollywood – white progressive Hollywood – snubs an achievement like the film, Selma, for academy award consideration. There is racism in America, but it is not coming from middle-class traditional values types.

The bottom line is that whenever we take the time and display the courage to have a frank discussion with each other, it usually works just fine. Authentic reconciliation is about speaking the truth – with passion – as we understand it. It is about listening to the truth as others understand it with respect. It is finally about God re-framing the conversation. Our function is humbly granting Him permission; that permission carries life-giving promise. And it is not about race; it is about right and wrong.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

2015’s National Prayer Breakfast: The Good And The Bad

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President Obama actually said some good things at the National Prayer Breakfast.

He spoke of the many times he – as President – paused to reflect on Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous and oft repeated prayer, “Keep us at tasks too hard for us that we may be driven to Thee for strength.” He said as well – and wonderfully – that, “Our job is not to ask God to respond to our notion of truth – our job is to be true to Him, His word, and His commandments. And we should assume humbly that we’re confused and don’t always know what we’re doing and we’re staggering and stumbling towards Him and have some humility in that process.” The President adds that we should – on that account – speak up against those who misuse God’s Name to justify oppression. In this, he is right on the money; one can only wish he had left it there.

Reality is what Barack Obama said applies uniquely to followers of Yahweh and His Son Yeshua – Jesus. His word is revealed in the Bible, not in our agenda – however praiseworthy that agenda may be – and not all agendas pursued by Christians are of equal value. (The Rev. Fred Phelps and any number of televangelists come to mind.) Repentant believers know we are staggering and stumbling towards Him; our very staggering excites His sympathy like no other gift. His strength is indeed perfected (2 Corinthians 12:9) in our weakness. There is only one God; He is worshipped under multiple names, but He is knowable and separable from the list of pretenders in terms of His attributes, His behavior, and His directives.

This Yahweh – ‘Io, as He is known to ancient Hawaiians; Sila, as He is known to the Inuit of Alaska and Siberia; and Yah, as he is to many Native Americans of the Lower Forty-eight – creates for no other reason than love. He sacrifices His Son for the redemption of all mankind – all mankind – and calls on His followers to live lives of sacrifice for each other as the best path to abundant life. He freely forgives sin and calls on us to do likewise. He never demands obedience – although He has surely earned it – preferring to stand at the door and knock. He says His revelation is not about things to know but about a Person to know, and He declares we can have as many do-overs in this world as we need–but in the next, the jury is in by the time we arrive. He stands in polar opposition to alternative revelations that deny freedom of choice in favor of karma, or say we are the result of a cosmic accident – as it is in most eastern religions. He does not call His people to force conquests, conversions, or vengeance on those who do not respect Him or His dictates – as it is in Islam. Yahweh is as recognizable as He is unique.

Yet the President – in a display of monumental ignorance at best – went on to call out American Christians. “And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was (sic) justified in the name of Christ.” Reality is that Christians have exhibited aberrant behavior in the cases cited by the President. We do remain sinners, and we continue in the need of repentance. But aberrant is not normative.

The far greater reality is that nowhere can there be found – in the sacred texts or the tradition of the Church – even the remotest justification for these practices. The Inquisition flew in the face of Christianity – even as it was known in the Middle Ages – and the Crusades were in response to Muslim aggression that took the Holy Land by bloody conquest and later invaded Europe. In their conquests and subjugation of infidels, the Muslims were simply following the dictates of their religion to set up their worldwide Caliphate by force.

Another greater reality is that when Christians across America saw the horrors of slavery and Jim Crow, they rose as one to condemn these perversions. When Abraham Lincoln called on his countrymen in 1863 to observe a day of prayer, fasting, and humiliation over our many sins – and especially for condoning slavery – the tide of war turned toward victory in less than two months. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 came on the heels of the Christians – black and white – who marched in prayer from Selma to Montgomery under the truncheons of the segregationists. Their suffering was broadcast by television into the living rooms of ordinary Americans, and the resulting groundswell of support was immediate and tremendous.

Praise God for the untold millions of Muslims who seek only to live in peace with their neighbors and are even beginning – in places such as Norway – to speak out against the brutality of Islamo-fascists. Sadly enough, history shows these pacific attitudes evaporate – or are purged – wherever Islam attains majority strength.

Truth is we Christians – and for that matter we Jews – serve a Lord whose clarion call has not changed since He wrote Micah 6:8, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” There is no legitimate space – the operant term being legitimate – in such doctrine for honor killings, beheadings, or forcing our faith on others, much less burning people alive. No other religion can make such a claim – at least not without blushing, and certainly not in truth.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Another Veteran Victimized By The VA

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The trauma experienced by so many veterans at the Veterans Administration becomes at once more poignant and more outrageous when it blindsides someone you know. Raphael fought in Afghanistan and was twice injured. He made me promise to disguise his identity before giving permission to tell his story; his benefits could be eliminated by a vengeful bureaucrat. He knows others who complained and paid.

Raphael’s story contains classified information. Among other things, he needs psychotherapy for his PTSD – post traumatic stress disorder. Each time he requests therapy, he is assigned a doctor who is not cleared to hear classified material. The VA explains that it cannot afford enough docs with the requisite clearance to hear his story; if he talks to someone without clearance, he risks life in prison.

Raphael is 90% medically retired from the Service because of the injuries he sustained. He worries that he is losing whatever muscle tone he still has; but if he works out – and is caught by VA authorities – he can lose all medical and financial benefits. It is okay for him to be employed – as long as he does not work out or do anything else to put himself into physical condition for work and play. His VA doc prescribes weekly chiropractic care because of the injuries to his back. VA policy is one trip to the chiropractor every three months. It is called Catch 22.

He lives about two hours from the nearest VA clinic; yet he can only get his medication at such a facility. That means by the time he drives two hours, waits in line for two hours – picking up meds is not considered urgent – and drives home another two hours, his day – whether working or off – is shot. And sometimes, the ordered meds have not yet arrived; and he must return another day. This is the price he pays for risking his life for his country on a foreign battlefield. His country talks of honoring his sacrifice; plenty of Americans want to shake his hand and thank him for his service. But this is the reality with which he and hundreds of thousands of vets live every day.

Promises were made when the scandal broke months ago; vets would be given vouchers for care VA clinics could not provide. Despite launching of the “new” VA on Veterans’ Day, not one vet has received a card. Nothing in the re-organization mentions changing the policies that penalize Raphael.

I could blame the Administration. There is no question things have gotten worse on Obama’s watch; his disdain for the military of which he is commander in chief is legendary. But this dysfunction for which Raphael and his brothers and sisters pay every day goes back a long way. I know a clinic director who was hounded from his job during the Bush Administration in retaliation for his constant complaints to higher ups in Washington. And the nature of his belly aching? He wanted adequate medical supplies – in stock – to serve those who depended on him and on his staff, and a mobile clinic for vets living in the rural areas of his region. George Bush loved the members of our armed forces, and they loved him. But he did not love them enough to crack down on the incompetent and the bean counters – and not enough to carry the horrific truth to the American public.

It is not too late. What if we demanded of leaders a workable plan to overhaul the VA – beginning with the termination of every employee who has been part of the problem from the top down? What if we demanded that plan include sufficient funding to pay the debt we owe our vets – from all wars? What if we said “Nuts!” to promises made by the leaders who break promises already made to vets? And what if we voted only for leaders who are honest enough to admit there is not enough money for all things (and that the illegals who want drivers’ licenses and a college degree can go to the back of the line)? What if we hound those we place in office until they deliver – even if they did not promise? The vets were here first, and they deserve whatever they need.

Jesus said there are none more blessed than those who lay down their lives for their friends. He refers literally to those who die in sacrifice; but every vet has sacrificed health and wealth, and many have damaged hearts and minds. Americans have an opportunity to right a great injustice and bless as Jesus blesses. Let’s stand tall and do it now.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Is The 4th Great Awakening In American History Underway?

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The 4th Great Awakening in American history is underway. There have been a number of words from recognized prophetic voices published in the past few weeks, and there is a compelling coincidence to their witness. We got the word ourselves when our prayer team made its monthly visit to the California State Capitol July 3. One of our members reported a vision in which the Lord showed him two piles of dry bones on the floor – reminiscent of the famous passage in Ezekiel 37 – and while he watched, the bones rose to form two skeletal bodies, one of them a man and the other a lion. Putting aside the natural skepticism of many of our readers about revelations from God in capitol hearing rooms – or anywhere else – let’s track with the internal logic of the vision. That too is supplied by God, but it is subject to rational critique.

The interpretation came to me instantaneously as the vision was described. The man represented Jesus Himself and the Lion of Judah. Their rise to incarnation was clearly about the promised Awakening, but the caveat is at least as important. Attention was drawn to the skeletal nature of these bodies–that is, to their lack of flesh, skin, hair, and organs. Clearly, the Awakening is in its most fragile infancy. The present outpouring of signs and wonders has been with us for some time; it does not constitute an Awakening by itself. And there is much more at stake here than whether a bunch of charismatic Christians get to raise hands and shout glory to the Lord. The call to the people of God to practice ongoing repentance – re-focus of our attention on God – is even more urgent than it has been the past several years.

There is a dark side to this season that also grows exponentially. Jesus said the last days – whatever their duration – would feature worldwide wars and rumors of wars, and we have armed conflict on the five heavily populated continents. We would see men calling evil good and good evil; look no further than the outpouring of sympathy for Hamas as it shoves women and children in front of its own missile batteries as human shielding. And we would see Christians hated by all for no other reason that that we bear the name of Christ; the legal assaults on American and European Christians in the name of political correctness pale next to the slaughter of the faithful in the Middle East, but the source is the same and the escalation as certain.

Yet most of these so-called revelatory words are steeped in triumphalism. There is no acknowledgement of ongoing need for repentance. There is a childish obsession with the healings and the other goodies that are indeed part and parcel of any move of God in our midst, but which are anything but the whole package. Jesus was quite clear that as history winds down, there is going to be hell to pay as much as heaven to gain; nobody gets a free pass. Any alleged prophet who claims it is all coming up like roses for people of prayer is just as much a false prophet as the people who keep running up and down California claiming the drought is over (despite the reality that reservoirs are less than half full and snowpack almost non-existent.) So what is the reasonable (and at the same time faithful) approach? Just what it has always been.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom