Friday, December 31, 2010

Idol of Consumerism: The More I Have The Happier I AM

As I was traveling through our city recently I observed the large number of storage businesses. When did the market for so much storage come about? I don’t remember seeing them in my youth. I live in a transient, military community and I know there may be a greater demand for storage here than in other places. In 1960, there was no notable storage facility businesses in the U.S. Today there are well over 30,000 storage facilities and the industry takes in over $12 billion every year! These vast numbers serve as a reminder that Americans are very much into accumulating stuff, lots of stuff, more stuff than we know what to do with.

Not only are we building more and more facilities to store stuff, we are also building bigger homes to store stuff. In 1960, the average size of a home in the U.S. was 1100 square feet. Today the average size of a home is 2300 square feet. In 1800 the average American family had seven children. Today the average family has two children. We’ve double the size of our homes but reduced the size of our families. So, what are we doing with the extra space? We are storing our stuff.

The greatest teacher who ever lived (Jesus) spoke more about money than he did about heaven and hell combined. Sixteen of his thirty-five parables are about money. There is more teaching in the New Testament about money than prayer. Five hundred verses in the New Testament refer to prayer and faith while 2,000 verses refer to money and possessions.

So, why was this topic so important to Jesus and what did he have to say about it? It was important to him because he realized how subtle is the temptation to be enamored by the external stuff rather than the indwelling Spirit. He told his followers, “Where you money is, there your heart is also.”

Jesus taught that men tend to overestimate the importance of wealth. There is no question that American culture is diametrically opposed to this teaching of Christ. We measure our success as individuals, as a people, by how much wealth we accumulate. We have embraced with gusto the lie that money will make us happy. America now has over 600 billionaires. But, when you observe the lifestyles of the rich and famous there is one blatant truth that cannot be ignored: there is no correlation between peace in the heart and wealth.

One man wrote this proverb thousands of years ago: “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.” (Proverbs 23:4) A very wise, ancient billionaire named Solomon once said, “A good name is more desirable than riches.” A foolish, modern billionaire recently said: “Whoever said money doesn’t buy happiness just doesn’t know where to shop.”

Christ never condemned wealth or possessions. He condemned the worship of wealth. He was deeply disturbed to see people in his culture who were possessed by their stuff. He expressed this concern and pushed for a choice from his listeners when he said, “"No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." (Luke 16:13)

Roko Belic is a Los Angeles filmmaker who has made a documentary about happiness appropriately named “Happy” commented on what makes us happy, “The things we are trained to think make us happy, like having a new car every couple of years and buying the latest fashions, don’t make us happy. The one single trait that’s common among every single person who is happy is strong relationships.”

Jesus taught that very concept two thousand years ago when he said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength and love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31)

We would be wiser to invest in events and experiences that create memories and build relationships rather than invest in stuff. Our attempt to establish our status in society or keep up with the Joneses leads to stress and frustration rather than true happiness. True happiness is born in relationships, not in stuff.

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

What Would You Do For Ten Million Dollars?

“What Would You Do For Ten Million Dollars?”

People fantasize a lot about money. Have you ever fantasized about winning a million dollars in the lottery? Have you ever dreamed of finding a suitcase full of hundred dollar bills lying alongside the highway? How about a wealthy relative you never knew who just randomly stuck your name on his will and left you millions? A survey was taken in which this question was asked? (1) “What would you do for ten million dollars?” The results were disturbing:

3% said they would put their kids up for adoption. ( I know, if you’ve had a bad day with junior your thinking you would do that for far less than $10 million.)

4% said they would have a sex change.

6% said they would change their race

7% said they would murder a stranger

10% said they would withhold testimony and let a murderer go free

16% said they would leave their spouse.

16% said they would give up their citizenship

23% said they would become a prostitute for a week or more

25% said they would abandon their families

25% said they would abandon their church

A multitude of lottery winners will sadly attest to the fact that money is a perishable commodity, ‘here today and gone tomorrow’. Money has a way of blinding our hearts. It muddies our sense of right and wrong. The craving that men feel for money can cause them to commit horrendous crimes. Some women are so starved for another dollar they willingly sacrifice their self-worth on a sex altar by selling their bodies. There is nothing a man won’t do when he is infected with overwhelming lust for money!

The love of money is certainly the root of all evil. In the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien creates a character named Gollum. He is a pitifully ugly creature, a slimy, malnourished deceitful critter. But Gollum used to be just like the other hobbits, like Frodo, Sam and Pippin. But one day Gollum found a magical, powerful ring. The ring becomes Gollum’s possession but in the end Gollum is possessed by the ring. He calls it his “precious”. The ring owns Gollum and every aspect of Gollum’s life was centered around his “precious”.

Money can become our “precious” in life. It can become our idol, the god we worship in place of the true God. It might be wise to ask ourselves: ‘What in my life controls me? What is more “precious” to me than a relationship with God and a hope of spending eternal life with Him?’

We are often deceived into believing that we would stop worrying about money if we just had more of it. More money doesn’t mean less worry. Getting more usually increases our anxiety rather than lessens it. Those who don’t have money worry about how they are going to get it. Those who have money worry about how they are going to keep it. Jesus said, “You shouldn’t worry about such things. When you are a child of the King, you have no reason to worry about those things.” If you are a child of the King, you are aware that “My Father is rich in houses and lands, He holdeth the wealth of the world in his hands.” (2)

In 1989, Bobby McFerrin’s song, Don’t worry, be happy, won a Grammy Award for Song of the Year. “In your life, expect some trouble. When you worry you make it double.” The song was written in an attitude of lightheartedness.

Jesus was dead serious when he said these words in his Sermon on the Mount: “…do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (3)

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own,” Jesus said. (4)

To find true and lasting peace in our lives we must redirect our love from money to God.

1.) The Day America Told the Truth, James Patterson and Peter Kim.

2.) A Child of the King, Harriet Buell, 1877

3.) Matthew 6:25-27

4.) Matthew 6:34

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"The Power of Half"

This is the title of a book written by the Salwen family of Atlanta. Theirs is a powerful story of how to conquer greed and demonstrate the power of giving. How many of us feel the need to be more generous but we talk ourselves out of it by saying, “I’m just not in a position to do that right now”?
Jesus’ words were recorded by Dr. Luke in his 6th chapter, “Give, and it will be given to you, a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.” There is a mysterious spiritual principle at work, the more generous you are the more blessed you are.
Kevin and Joan Salwen have two teen-age children, Hannah and Joseph. They were traveling the streets of Atlanta one day when Hannah observed a homeless, hungry man on one side of the street and a black Mercedes on the other. She made a comment that if the man in the black Mercedes would sell his car he could feed the hungry man. The family mulled over her comment at the supper table that night and concluded that they would put her suggestion into action.
Kevin Salwen is an entrepreneur and writer and he has done very well to provide for his family. They lived in a 6,500 square foot luxurious home. They decided, as a family, that they would sell their home and downsize their next home and send half of the profit to a host of villages in Ghana. Their “power of half” was approximately $800,000. They discovered they were just as happy in a home half as valuable as their first home.
You might think this story is absurd because it is so contrary to all that we witness in a culture of greed but what the Salwen family decided to do was what Jesus encouraged his disciples to do. “If you want to be perfect, sell you possessions and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven.” (Matthew 19:21). John Bunyan wrote:
“There was a man
Some called him mad.
The more he gave,
The more he had.”
It is not so common for the wealthy to be so generous. Jesus also said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Mark 10:25) The wealthy tend to be tight fisted when it comes to money. I learned this early in life with my best friend, Jerry Smith. We lived in a poor neighborhood and Halloween night meant a pillow case of free candy if we were willing to work hard to get it. Even though October evenings are cold in Meadville, Pennsylvania, Jerry and I were soaked with perspiration as we ran from house to house to get free treats.
After completing the rounds in our neighborhood we were excited by the idea of going down Neason Hill a way to where the wealthier people lived, the people in the ‘brick houses’. By 9:00 or 9:30 that evening Jerry and I were totally exhausted but we learned an interesting lesson. The poorer people gave out candy by the handful, the wealthier people gave out candy in single pieces.
Generosity is not always dependent on how much you have or don’t have. Generosity is something that springs from the heart.
My wife will tell you that generosity is not one of my virtues. I will often tell her to withhold the tip at the restaurant if the meal wasn’t served in a timely manner or if the service was poor. “They don’t deserve a tip.”
But isn’t that the point? Didn’t Jesus come to give his life for those of us who didn’t deserve his gift? Isn’t our generosity even more meaningful when it is directed at those who are undeserving.
Paul wrote of the Corinthians (2 Cor. 8:2) “Out of…their extreme poverty welled up …rich generosity.” Generosity isn’t measured by how much we give. It is measured by the willingness within the heart to give

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Deception of Money

Idol of money

Deception of Money

Money will tell you lies. It will woo you and lure you into deception. It will promise you a wonderful relationship, like a female black widow serial killer, luring you into a pit of despair before it finally destroys you.
She will whisper in your ear:
“Look at those who have more than you do.”
Proverbs 14:20 “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”
Harold Coffin – “Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.”

Ben Franklin said, “Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has the more one wants.”
An MIT professor did an interesting study on Olympic medalists. Who is the happiest? The Gold medalist? The Silver medalist? Or the Bronze medalist? The happiest was the Gold medalist. Of course, he won. But then it gets interesting. The second happiest was the Bronze winner and the least happy was the Silver winner. The Silver winner was comparing himself to the Gold winner and envying the gold. The Bronze medalist was comparing himself to number four who won nothing. The Bronze medalist was just glad he received a medal.

We are unhappiest when we are constantly looking at those who have more.

My two older sons went to Nairobi on a mission trip this last summer. They came back with a new contentment, a greater appreciation for what they have because they were comparing themselves to those who have nearly nothing.

Money will tell you:

“You can’t possibly have a ‘greed’ problem.”  Greedy people have lots of money and they’re never satisfied. They are always wanting more.
Jesus said, “Watch out, be on your guard against all kinds of greed…a man’s life does not consist of the abundance of his possessions.”
Did you get lots of Christmas gifts under the tree? Did those gifts lie to you? Did you think you would get more satisfaction than you did? Kameron, my five year old son opened a boat load of gifts and then asked, “Is that all?” He will play with some of his Christmas toys for a day or two and then lose them in the toy box.
Aren’t we the same way? When you get a new car you wash it every other day. And we have to ask, “Do I possess this car or does this car possess me?”

My older son had a friend who struggled with idolizing his possessions. He bought a new car and the first thing he did was reach for his keys and run a deep scratch into the paint. My son was appalled. “What are you doing?” “I’ll spend all my time worrying about getting a scratch on my new car. So, I just go ahead and put that scratch on there so I won’t have to worry about it anymore.” He was resisting the feeling of allowing a possession to possess him.

Why did Jesus say, “Watch out for greed?” Why didn’t he say, “Watch out for murder?” or “Watch out for adultery?” Greed can sneak up on you. It can grip your heart before you know it. No one gets half way into a killing and says, “Hmm, I better stop this.” No man gets halfway into adultery and says, “Hey, this isn’t my wife.” But money will lure us into thinking, “As long as there is a Bernie Madoff or a Donald Trump in the world, I’m not really greedy.”

What do we worry most about? We worry about money.

But Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?”
Mother Theresa refused to believe the lies money tells: “Let us more and more insist on raising funds of love, of kindness, of understanding, of peace. Money will come if we seek first the Kingdom of God - the rest will be given.”

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Idol of Money

Idol of Money

Money Tells lies:

Let me first clarify that I do not believe that money in and of itself is evil. To accumulate wealth is not an evil thing. There is no great virtue in pursuing poverty for poverty’s sake. There were many wealthy men in the Bible…Abraham was very rich. Solomon by modern day standards was probably a billionaire. It is our attitude toward money that gets us into trouble. Money is not the root of all evil, it is the LOVE of money that is the root of all evil.

Having just been through the Christmas season it might interest you to know that the average family usually spends about $750.00 on Christmas gifts.

The average American family makes payments on 13 credit cards and has $5800 in month to month debt. Approximately 40% of American families spend more than they earn.

The average American individual owes over $15,000 in credit card debt.

The debt of the American government is about $14 trillion. In order to pay off this debt every individual in America would have to shell out $44,000. It looks like we have money problems at every level.

Ayn Rand, “Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue.” Can our money problems not be traced to the heart? We are a society that is governed by greed. Jesus warned us about that: “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed…” - Luke 12:15

James, author of the epistle of the same name, summed up quite well what is wrong with modern society. “You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God” – James 4:2. The mess we find ourselves in can pretty much be traced to greed and covetousness.

My wife and I were discussing recently what would be our most prized possession if our house was caught fire and we could save only one thing. We mentioned family pictures, pets, big screen T.V.’s and computers. Its hard to realize how attached one becomes to the stuff in life until we are put in a position where we must do without.

We hosted a part at our house recently and when I walked into our living room I counted six people using their cell phones. When I asked what they would save from a burning house I was not surprised when they all held up their phones.

This was illustrated humorously in Steve Martin’s performance in The Jerk. This clip helps us understand how we cling to our stuff! Navin Johnson goes from rags to riches back to rags again. He wants to believe he can walk away from it all, but he just can’t:

We are deceived when we think we need the insignificant things in life.

Col. 3:2 “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”

There is an old saying: Money Talks.

“Money talks, I’ll not deny, I heard it once, it said, ‘good-bye’.”

Suppose we consider some money as redeemed and some as unredeemed. To be redeemed means to be free from the consequences of sin.

Money makes the false claim: “I can make you happy.”

We all claim that money can’t bring us happiness but if we look at our check stubs, do we really live like that? The wisest man who ever lived (Solomon) once said “Those who love money will never have enough. How absurd to think that wealth brings true happiness! The more you have, the more people will come to help you spend it. So what is the advantage of wealth—except perhaps to watch it run through your fingers!” (Ecclesiastes 5:10-11)

There is no correlation between money and happiness. In fact, more money may bring unhappiness. The more money you have the more time you’ve invested. Money comes and goes. Time is something lost forever. You may think, if only I made $100,000/year. But then you would want to make $150,000. If you made $1 million you would want to make $2 million. Dissatisfaction is a plague that comes with money. We believe the lie of unredeemed money when it tells us that we will be happy if only we keep up with the Joneses.

The Puritan Preacher, Jeremiah Burroughs once said, “What a foolish thing is this, that because I have not got what I want, I will not enjoy the comfort of what I have!”

Happiness based on external things is no happiness at all. Happiness comes from within. For those who are Christians, God’s presence living within causes them to be content in whatever circumstance they find ourselves:

Paul said, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Contentment does not come to us naturally. It is something we must learn.

I taught school for nearly 15 years on the other side of the tracks. I saw my students dragging their book bags out of Baker Village, one of the poorest housing projects here in Columbus, Georgia. I thought, “Those kids must be the saddest kids on earth, they have so little.” But, I’ve never been around kids who enjoyed life and loved to laugh as much as they. I’ve also taught at Duluth High School in Atlanta where some of the city’s wealthiest kids attended and I’ve concluded that the amount of money you have has nothing to do with your ability to be happy.

Money simply can’t make you happy!

In 1923 a group of the world’s most successful financiers met at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago. Eighty years later let’s look back and see what happened to nine of them:

1. Charles Schwab, president of largest steel company, died bankrupt.

2. Samuel Insull, president of the largest utility company, died penniless in a foreign land, a fugitive from justice.

3. Howard Hopson, president of the largest gas company, went insane.

4. Arthur Cotton, greatest wheat speculator, died overseas unable to pay his debts.

5. Richard Whitney, president of the NYSE, went to Sing Sing Prison

6. Albert Fall, member of the President’s Harding’s cabinet, was pardoned in prison so he could die at home.

7. Jesse Livermore, the greatest ‘bear’ on Wall Street, died a suicide.

8. Ivan Krueger, head of the greatest monopoly, died a suicide.

9. Leon Fraser, president of the Bank of International Settlements, died a suicide.

These men knew very well how to make money but they had no idea how to find the contentment in life that the Apostle Paul talks about.

People who look for the abundant life in their money and possessions never find true satisfaction. When we worship money with our time and energy it becomes an idol in our lives. True happiness and the truly abundant life are found only in a right relationship with our great Creator God and Savior.

Why do we set our affections on the creation rather than the Creator? God alone owns the world. The cattle on a thousand hills are His (Psalm 50:10). He alone can supply our every need (Philippians 4:19). There is no security in any plan which denies God as Lord of our lives and of all that we possess.

Money will make you happy? Don’t believe it. It provides a temporary pleasure like all the other ‘stuff’ in life. True happiness can only be found in a higher, transcendent One.

Todd E. Linaman, Ph.D. , Family Life Radio.

Insights from Bill Bright: Nine Wealthy Financiers

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Look in the Manger

Look in the Manger

By Kevin Probst

Moses had a personal and beautiful relationship with God. Read about it in Exodus 33. Moses conversed with God and said, “If you are pleased with me and if I have found favor in your eyes, teach me your ways that I may know you better. Show me your glory.”

Moses didn’t realize the greatness or the danger of God’s glory. God agreed to his request. It is amazing to consider that the great, sovereign God of creation would be willing to show himself to someone as lowly as Moses. So, God hid Moses away in the cleft of a rock, covered him with his hand and swept by him. Moses saw the back of God and was overwhelmed by his beauty. Had he seen his face the glory of God would have destroyed him.

Isaiah had a similar experience with God revealed in Isaiah chapter 6. Isaiah saw God, high and exalted, sitting on his throne. Seraphs covered their faces with their wings to protect themselves from the brightness of his glory. They called to each other, ““Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

After Isaiah had seen the King of Glory, he cried out in despair, “Woe to me. I am ruined. I am but a sinful man living among a sinful people and I have looked on the holiness of God.”

The glory of God that fazed Moses and Isaiah thousands of years ago has not diminished with the passing of time. God revealed himself to them because he wanted to. He has provided men with the means to know him personally. Through scripture and through his Spirit we may have a personal, intimate relationship with God. He wants us to know him because he loves us.

So, how might we see God without being struck down by his glory? Herein is the dilemma. God cannot lessen his glory so that we might look upon him. The great holy city of the future will “not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp” (Rev. 21:23) Unlike the suns and the stars of the universe, God’s light never diminishes, it never fades. It is from everlasting to everlasting.

How might we see the glory of God? We may safely look upon his glory by peering into the manger of Bethlehem. Two thousand years ago God came in the form of a human so that all of mankind might look upon the Son of God. The adult Jesus would declare that those who had seen him had also seen his Father. (John 14:7)

When we look down into the manger what are we seeing? Something to miraculous for words to describe. We are looking at God clothed in the humility of human flesh. He did not come as they expected, a king dressed in royal purple riding on a white stallion. No, he came in a very ordinary way, as a baby in a poor family, rejected and unwanted and unnoticed. Imagine the Son of God was born in Bethlehem that night and hardly anyone in the city seemed to notice.

There are many miraculous things to consider regarding the circumstances surrounding the events in Bethlehem that day. But the actual birth of Christ was very normal. The miracle was in the conception not the birth. He was born in the way all men are born.

Many today will miss the truth of his incarnation just as they did in Bethlehem years ago. Others perceive it but are indifferent. The God-child in the manger was the culmination of the wondrous plan by which God could provide salvation to mankind without compromising his justice. He had to sacrifice his Son. Justice is preserved and wondrous love is demonstrated.

Look into the manger and see not only humility but also helplessness. “You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12) Many babies in that era died before their first birthday. Jesus was wrapped in strips of cloth to protect him. They wrapped the arms and legs separately and then wrapped the torso, much like a mummy. The helplessness of the babe in a manger foreshadowed the helplessness of the Savior at the cross. As he stood before his accusers he could have called ten thousand angels but instead he suffered injustice quietly, bound and helpless and at the mercy of the Roman soldiers and Roman officials.

The manger scenes we see set up around our neighborhoods during the Christmas season are so lovely and pristine. Joseph took Mary to a stable. Imagine the disappointment Mary must have felt. It was drafty. There was no opportunity for privacy. The floor was made of dirt. Flea infested sheep, goats and cows lumbered about. The strong odor of manure wafted through the air. This is where God chose to reveal himself to mankind through his Son, Jesus Christ.

The humility and the helplessness of Christ failed to stir much interest in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. The indifference and the hostility toward the Christ-child doesn’t change the fact that “…in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

No one said fatherhood was going to be easy!!

"Confessions of Fatherhood."
Crossroads Tabernacle - The Bronx

Incarceration Rates. "Young men who grow up in homes without fathers are twice as likely to end up in jail as those who come from traditional two-parent families
Suicide. 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes
Behavioral Disorders. 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes
High School Dropouts. 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Lupe Fiasco - He Say, She Say

"You see what his problem is, he don't know where his poppa is"

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Its Time For Christian Men to 'Man Up'.

Its Time for Christian Men to ‘Man up’

By Kevin Probst

Remember your science teacher putting the frog in water and then bringing the water to a boil. The frog is so adept at adapting he fails to realize how badly his situation has become. Finally, the frog acclimates and dies in the boiling water.

A large number of men in our culture are acclimating and dying spiritually. Many have become so emasculated they are embarrassed to show their masculine nature. Hollywood and our politically correct culture have feminized us so that we tend to look to others for approval before we make important decisions. Oh for the days in the last great generation when men stepped up and fearlessly made decisions based on their own good judgment, not on whether the family and friends would approve.

This indecisiveness in male leadership is causing havoc in all areas of our society. Indecisive men in our Congress make decisions based on what will provide them with the best opportunity for re-election. This kind of selfish leadership offers no solutions as to how to win a war in Afghanistan or how to climb out of our economic morass. This narcissistic leadership offers no new innovative ideas, it just passes the buck on to the next generation in hopes they will come up with a workable solution.

George Washington was more than happy to walk away from the presidency and retire to his farm. Our modern politicians will fight tooth and nail against term limits. They are like a bunch of intoxicated sailors staggering through the great halls of congress demonstrating a deficit in their own ability to make sound judgments for the good of the country. They are so drunk on power they are willing to do anything to retain it even if it means lying or selling the country down the hatch.

Our founding fathers wanted America to be like a “city upon a hill”, showing ‘the way’ to other countries. Their vision was of a country that feared God and desired to reflect his righteousness. I am so tempted to name some of the disgusting, wimpy congressman who sniffle like spoiled children when they don’t get their favorite pork barrel project funded by a compliant congress so as to appease their constituents to enhance their chance of reelection.

There is an old adage that says, “If not now, then when? If not me, then who?” It’s time for honorable men of integrity to step up. Edmund Burke once said, “All that's needed for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” We can look across the pond and watch how the Europeans have lost their way. In the land of Luther very few would admit a belief in God. Their great cathedrals and sanctuaries are empty. They have turned their back on God and now Allah is being introduced in their lands and they haven’t the intestinal fortitude to resist infiltration of his worshippers.

Here is a law without any exceptions; when you take God out of something, that something will decay and die. As Americans, we are not far behind the Europeans. We have taken God out of our families, we have eliminated him from our public schools, we have taken him out of many of our churches. Hollywood makes millions ridiculing Christians and degrading those who would dare express an open belief in God. We seem to be determined to follow Europe off the cliff into a gorge of spiritual death and destruction.

Christian men must pray as we have never prayed before. America needs men who are not afraid to proclaim God’s name in the face of those who have sullied his truth with their politically correct, humanistic doctrines.

A man approached a horrible accident on the road. A car had flipped over and pinned a little girl underneath. The man rushed toward the car with no thought of endangering himself. His rush of adrenaline provided a supernatural strength to lift the car from the little girl while others dragged her to safety.

We need a rush of adrenaline to perform a supernatural act. We must find supernatural strength, energy and courage if we are to save our society. In Christian circles we know this kind of empowerment comes through the empowering of the Holy Spirit. We need prayerful men empowered by the Spirit of God to ‘man up’. We need to build Spirit-filled churches that will be ‘shining lights upon a hill.” We need to build churches that will be healing center for the multitudes who are hurting. We need to transform our tabernacles from places of entertainment to places of true worship and repentance.

We need honorable men of integrity filled with supernatural discernment and strength to build such places. That means men will have to receive a vision and acquire a dream, a dream of bringing deliverance to a lost culture. It means some men will give up spending all their time on things that bring only satisfaction and pleasure to themselves. It means some men will dedicate themselves to a cause greater than themselves.

1 Corinthianians 16:13 “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mark Madoff: Unnecessary Tragedy

Idol of Materialism: Bernie and Mark Madoff

By Kevin Probst

"Bernie" Madoff, a grandson of Jewish immigrants, pled guilty to eleven federal crimes in March of 2009. Madoff ran a massive Ponzi scheme that swindled nearly $20 billion from trusting investors. He was sentenced to 150 years in prison. The investigation into his crimes continues as other family members and employees face charges. Thousands of people were affected by his deception and greed. The latest victim to fall in the avalanche of pain and shame was his son, Mark Madoff, who committed suicide in his New York apartment where his body was found on December 11, 2010.

Mark was 46 years old and leaves behind a wife and two children. Exactly two years before Mark's suicide, his father asked to meet with both Mark and his brother, Andrew. He confessed that he had built his entire financial empire on deception and fraud. Mark called the FBI and turned his father in. He had not spoken to his father, or his mother, Ruth, during the two years that led up to his suicide.

According to Eleanor Squillari, (1) secretary to Bernie for 25 years, Mark was more interested in fly fishing than in Wall Street. His job was not associated with the Ponzi scheme and he knew nothing of it until his father's confession. However, Mark and his family were being sued by victims trying to recover their losses. Diana Henriques, (2) a financial journalist for the NY Times said "The drumbeat of litigation had become an enormous burden. Things were building." So, after two years of living under the darkest of clouds and finally realizing that the tunnel in which he existed had no light at its end, Mark Madoff chose the only path he could find to escape, he chose suicide.

What does Bernie Madoff have in common with most other Americans? He believed the same lie. Most of us believe that money and accumulated wealth can bring happiness. We overestimate the importance of wealth.

A couple thousand years ago a young man went to his father and asked for his inheritance. What he was really saying was, "I can't wait for you to die so I want my share now." Instant gratification is a problem for the ages. His father granted his request and the prodigal took his newly found fortune to a distant country and spent it on riotous living (3). Finally, it was gone. "A fool and his money are soon departed."

A recent poll revealed that 77% of Americans believe money can buy happiness as opposed to 23% who see no correlation between money and happiness. America now has over 600 billionaires. In spite of being a most difficult year economically, billionaires increased by nearly 12% last year. Many of these billionaires are NOT happy. An ancient billionaire named Solomon once stated that "A good name is more desirable than riches."

Julia Hartley-Brewer, a British reporter, says that the country's lottery is “Britain’s biggest marriage wrecker” A full 1/3 of lottery winners declared that their new found fortunes had brought shipwreck to their lives and families. Unfortunately, Callie Rogers is not atypical. She won a vast amount of money in Britain's lottery as a teen-ager. Now, all the money is gone. She holds down three jobs and has attempted suicide at least once. “Until you win such a large amount of money at such a young age, you don’t realize the pressures that come with it,” she said. (4)

Alex Tocqueville observed America before McDonald's had sold billions of hamburgers and before Coca-cola had saturated the world with its product. Yet, he commented on the idolatrous attitude Americans had toward consumerism, “At first sight, there is something astonishing in this spectacle of so many lucky men restless in the midst of abundance. But it is a spectacle as old as the world; all that is new is to see a whole people performing it.” (5)

Americans have always been tempted by the idols of consumerism and materialism. This sort of misconstrued worship characterized by greed is described in Romans 1:25 "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator" We are obsessed with the accumulation and storage of our stuff. Jesus had something to say about that, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Had Bernie Madoff lived by that principle, he wouldn't be sitting in a North Carolina prison and his son would still be fly fishing off shore in Baja.

1. ABC NEWS, Wife Called Police To Report Mark Madoff Missing Last Year, by Brian Ross and Megan Chughmach, Dec. 14, 2010
2. Ibid

3. Matthew 15:11-12

4. The Christian Institute, Lottery winners could face lifetime of misery, November 21, 2009

5. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, ed. J.P. Mayer and Max Lerner, trans.
George Lawrence (New York: Harper & Row, 1966), 508.

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Obama: Out of Both Sides of his Mouth

Obama: Out of Both Sides of his Mouth.

By Kevin Probst

President Obama wants it both ways.

President Obama and his staff adopted a strategy to hush and smear Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. Unlike his predecessor, Obama identified his enemies and tempted them into a public mud wrestling contest. To no one's surprise, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News were quick to accommodate.

Obama's House communications Director Anita Dunn told CNN in October of 2009 that Fox News "operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party." And what of CNN? I'm sure she thought the creation of Ted Turner was a bastion of fair and open-mindedness.

Nearly a year later the feud continued as Obama took a clear shot at Fox News in an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine: "You had folks like Hearst who used their newspapers very intentionally to promote their viewpoints. I think Fox is part of that tradition. It is part of the tradition that has a very clear, undeniable point of view." And what does he think of CNN, MSNBC , and ABC News? Do they not promote a "very clear, undeniable point of view"?

Obama went on to declare Fox News the enemy of the mass of American people, "It's a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world." His assumption is that the majority of American's will dutifully accept his statement as messianic truth. He then crams this criticism down the throats of Americans to elbow depth by offering a reasonable but not an exclusive rationale for the existence of Fox News; "…as an economic enterprise, it's been wildly successful. And I suspect that if you ask Mr. Murdoch what his number one concern is, it's that Fox is very successful." Duh! Are viewers of Fox News supposed to dump them because they desire success and economic profit??

In January of 2010 Obama could no longer hide his irritation. Republican legislators refused to feed at the bunk of his $825 billion stimulus plan. The wall retaining the President's frustration sprung a leak through which his suppressed arrogance seeped out, "I won. I'm the president." Surprisingly his staff and supporters didn't spontaneously break out singing, "Nah nah nah nah hey hey hey goodbye?!?"

In a blatant display of Pecksniffian pretense, Obama reached for his other face and declared to the graduates of the University of Michigan in May of 2010, "…the practice of listening to opposing views is essential for effective citizenship. It's essential for our democracy." If he is so committed to fairness in the media why has he conducted a war on conservative media?

The White House strategy to attack Rush Limbaugh continued at U of M. "If you're a fan of Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh, try reading a few columns on the Huffington Post website." Obama had scolded Republicans earlier in the year, "You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done." Obama's strategists would have done well to listen to the advise of fellow liberal Susan Estrich who was not so blinded by hatred she couldn't reason, "Trying to beat him at his own game when your own game is played by a different set of rules is a losing proposition." (1) Barry, Bill, Hillary and Al are all constrained by the fact their livelihood depends on their skills as seasoned politicians. Rush is under no such constraints and he capitalizes on that.

Obama would do well to study his Democratic predecessor, John F. Kennedy. In a speech to the American Newspapers Association on April 27th, 1961, he declared, "Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed -- and no republican survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment -- the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution -- not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and sentimental, not to simply 'give the public what it wants' -- but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion."

Is it not a display of shocking juvenility when the President of the United States perceives Fox News and Limbaugh as his enemies and dedicates his time attempting to preserve his own political career rather than fighting the true enemies of America and preserving his country!?!

1. Rush Limbaugh: An Army of One by Zev Chafets (page 149)

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Wikileaks, Stuxnet, Cyberwar, and Obama by J.R. Dunn

WikiLeaks, Stuxnet, Cyberwar, and Obama

By J.R. Dunn

War is transforming itself before our eyes, turning into something unfamiliar and strange. Information has taken a place as a major class of weaponry, with sabotage and subterfuge as preferred tactics. On the new battlefield, these weapons are available not only to nation-states, but to organizations and even individuals.
The Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) is something that ought to be more widely known than it is. Starting in the 1980s, advances in cybernetics and communications began having a dramatic impact had on military operations. Such innovations as Precision-Guided Munitions (PGMs) and high channel capacity communications systems not only increased the effectiveness of individual weapons systems, but, acting as force multipliers, they also boosted the capabilities of entire units to a point where they could take on and defeat enemy forces that in the past would have been considered far superior.
The impact of the RMA became apparent in the First Gulf War of 1990-1991. Most of the two-thirds of a million Coalition troops deployed in Saudi Arabia never engaged with enemy forces. The Iraqis were defeated by a handful of spearhead units so technologically superior to the Warsaw Pact-type Iraqi units that there was no contest. In 2003, a much smaller Coalition force routed the Iraqis, utilizing all the technological advantages that had appeared in the ensuing twelve years. (Unfortunately, Donald Rumsfeld attempting to carry out the occupation of Iraq with the same size force, demonstrating that the RMA does not extend to civil affairs.)
But despite all the speculation surrounding the RMA, few foresaw the arrival of a second phase in which the breadth, execution, and very definition of warfare would be transformed. The new technology empowered not only military forces, but also intelligence agencies and even non-state actors. Utilizing communications and cybernetics innovations, the new combatants can, under the right circumstances, have an impact rivaling that of entire nation-states, causing serious turmoil and damage with a minimal outlay of effort. In 2010, we have been introduced to this mutated form of warfare by two distinct events: Stuxnet and WikiLeaks.
Stuxnet is the trojan "malware" (somehow the term doesn't seem quite fitting in this case) infiltrated into Iranian nuclear weapons program infotech systems. Its creators are unknown (for the record, I would surmise that these were the U.S. and Israel, the U.S. possessing the knowhow and the Israelis the espionage network). Its effects have been substantial but as yet unquantified, and they may remain so. One curiosity concerning the incident lies in the fact that damage estimates have continued to grow in the months since the worm was first discovered. Even Iranian strongman Ahmadinejad has, very much against his will, been forced to acknowledge the damage the program wrought. The Iranian nuclear effort has not yet returned to normal operations. Some question exists as to whether it can.
Since Stuxnet was discovered in July of this year, considerable effort has gone into analyzing it by computer security outfits such as Symantec and Kaspersky Labs, as well as agencies generally known by their initials. Expert conclusions can be best termed "disturbing." The Stuxnet worm is serious sci-fi malware, not something made up by a comp sci major in his dorm room. Embodying several innovations not previously encountered, it comprises a multi-targeted, multitasking IT warhead of unparalleled capabilities.
While much of the story remains conjectural, what we know is this: the worm was seeded in home PCs in the area surrounding Iranian nuclear facilities, presumably in computers belonging to Iranian techs and scientists. The program infected one or more flash drives, which carried it into the nuclear sites. There it targeted the centrifuge cascades used to enrich uranium. Stuxnet was programmed to manipulate these centrifuges, which number in the thousands, in a particular way -- by causing them to suddenly speed up well faster than their design limits without destroying them. This accomplished two things: it damaged the machines, and also cut the purity of the uranium, rendering it useless. This is an interesting point -- previous speculation on destroying the cascades has revolved around driving the centrifuges out of control. Since these machines revolve at a speed of several thousand RPM, increasing the speed uncontrollably would cause them to simply disintegrate.
But Stuxnet was specifically designed to avoid this. Why? To continue the process as long as possible without calling attention to itself. There's only one rational reason for such a tactic: while disabling the cascades, Stuxnet was also doing something else.
What follows is speculation -- what I would want a cyberwarfare worm to do if I were to order one. We can assume that Stuxnet was sending copies of itself out of the facilities, possibly by way of the same people who brought it in, and then contacting its creators through external computers. As the months passed, it forwarded more and more detail about the Iranian program. By now, the white hats know as much about Iranian nuclear initiatives as the Iranians themselves, if not more. And this involves not only facilities and technology, but also personnel -- it's well within the realm of possibility that the two nuclear scientists attacked on November 29 (one was killed, the other badly wounded) were identified as crucial to the Iranian effort by Stuxnet.
As knowledge of the Iranian program grew, it's likely that Stuxnet was adapted to target different facilities. Distinct "mods" could be programmed to perform varying tasks. The Iranians have put off the ignition of the Bushehr reactor several times with no explanation, suggesting serious problems. Lingering effects of Stuxnet are not out of the question. Beyond that, the possibilities are endless. Consider an app that could change or lose internal e-mails while they were being sent, or place suspicious or misleading files in an engineer's computer, and so on. Between Stuxnet and covert action, the mullahs' nuclear program is being dismantled piece by piece. Lastly, it's possible that we haven't heard the end of the Stuxnet story. Copies could be still hiding in odd nooks and crannies of the Iranian system, with the computers reprogrammed to overlook the fact that they exist. The very possibility must weigh heavily on the mullahs and their servants.
Serves 'em right for using Windows.
A cyber warhead of this sophistication represents an evolution even more profound than the introduction of ironclads in the Civil War or aircraft in WWI. What this means in immediate terms is a constant, continual cyberwar on the Cold War espionage model. Adversaries will endlessly probe potential enemies (not to mention friends) to discover weaknesses and pry out secrets. (The behavior of China over the past few years suggests that this state of affairs is already the case.)
The first strike in any war from here on in will be cybernetic, in hopes of paralyzing an enemy's armed forces and shattering his society. Under these circumstances, the most important military figure in sense of pure national defense will be the cybertechnician, much as the missile launch officer was the most crucial during the Cold War. The American military need a bottom-up evaluation of its entire military IT system, including training, doctrine, and practice, to assure that we are capable of addressing this challenge. Such an action can't be expected from the current administration, preoccupied as it is with such critical matters as eliminating DADT and assuring that military vehicles use their fair share of ethanol. But it should be the first thing on the agenda when an adult administration again takes office. The survival of the United States as a superpower depends on it.
Further evidence of that fact is easily obtained from the WikiLeaks saga. It is no exaggeration to state that Julian Assange is engaged in warfare. He is at war -- not simply with the U.S., although the U.S. is his current bĂȘte noire, but with the human race as a whole. He is a would-be Alexander, intent on bending the world to his will, with little concern who gets hurt while he's doing it. He sees himself as a mythic figure, above and beyond the run of normal humanity, a man with a historical mission. (This is no rarity, unfortunately -- see Obama, Barack.) His followers see him as an Apollo bringing forth a new age.
Yet the world isn't bending, and the new age remains unborn. Despite all the excitement, Assange's impact has been minimal. Until incarcerated, he simply dropped one info-bomb after another, then ran off and hid, perhaps loitering to paw a woman or two in the process. It's an unedifying spectacle, nothing Alexandrine or Napoleonic about it.
It has been an axiom of the left since the days of the New Masses and the Daily Worker that if "the people" knew what was "really going on," what decisions were being made and crimes committed "in their name," they'd simply rise up in their wrath to smash the pillars of the temple and smite the evildoers. This is the impulse behind the Pentagon Papers, all those flicks that end with the main character pausing meaningfully before entering the Times building, and, for that matter, the entire Plame saga, now appearing in a multiplex near you. That is the role that Assange is playing in real time and on the world stage. And yet... far from ushering a new non-Matrix reality, he's cowering in a British hoosegow waiting for the Swedish cops to get the spelling right on his rape warrant, his site is being locked out from every host and service on the net, from Amazon to PayPal to XXX Real Live Bondage XXX for all I know, while the world awaits his next info-bomb not with dread or exultation, but with much the same sense of titillation as greets the antics of Britney or Jon Gosselin. What went wrong?
The information is trivial. There are no blockbusters or nation-breakers in the material yet released. No secret fleets of black helicopters. Karl Rove is not scheming to sell humanity to the aliens. The CIA is not transplanting children's brains into chimpanzees in the Langley basement. What we have learned instead is that the Saudis are terrified at the prospect of a nuclear Iran, that the U.S. is cutting quiet anti-terror deals with countries such as Yemen, and that Hamid Karzai is as corrupt as he is charismatic. In other words, nothing at all new to anyone paying attention to media reports. The big disclosure is how little of this stuff needed to be secret in the first place.
There have been loud gasps in some circles at the "news" that Hillary instructed her diplomats to seek out intelligence. This is asinine. Diplomats have been low-key intelligence agents as long as they've existed. For centuries they were often the only intelligence force many states possessed. The practice was not invented by Hillary, or Condi, or even Talleyrand, for that matter. It's part of the job description. All this "revelation" does is provide Dick Morris with ammunition to continue his never-ending feud with Hillary.
The only item that surprised me was news of China's impatience with North Korea, which I never thought they'd admit to anybody, but there it is. Since one of the drivers of the recent crisis has been the conviction that China would back up North Korea to the last ditch, it appears that our would-be Australian Samson has succeeded only in defusing a current tension point. Good going -- how does a Nobel sound?
The damage is minimal. There has been a lot of concern expressed over damage to the U.S. as a whole, to American diplomacy, and to the international community. I don't see it. The Saudis are not going to sever relations or cease sharing intelligence, not with a pack of crazy Shi'ites intent on building A-bombs right across the Gulf. The Yemenis are not going to toss the infidels out and allow al-Qaeda to march into Sana'a next week. What damage does exist can be easily repaired since it's in the interests of all concerned to do so.
Examine the chain of events. The gruff, hard-bitten Bradley Manning stole a lot of secret e-mails and sent them to WikiLeaks. The e-mails originated in large part from the Defense Department, run by Robert Gates, and the State Department, run by Hillary Clinton. The Justice Department, run by Eric Holder, couldn't figure out what to do about it. All these people work for Barack Obama. That's a pretty impressive lineup. All that we're missing is Van Jones, and he'll probably pop up.
If anybody sees a sign of the reliable, dutiful United States in that picture, the U.S. that serves as global sheriff and last resort of desperate nations and peoples worldwide, kindly point it out to me. All I see is the weird, twisted caricature that Obama and company have been trying to foist on us lo these past two years. It is that fantasy leftist U.S. that will take the major hit -- as long as the center-right doesn't line up to support O and his menagerie in a fit of false patriotism. This is not an American screw-up -- it is the ultimate Democratic foreign policy fiasco. It has all the symptoms: an unbalanced clown in a position of trust, loosened security standards, aloofness and ignorance at the highest levels, and pure ineptitude elsewhere. We have seen it a thousand times under LBJ, Carter, and Clinton, and here it is again. I'm certain that most foreign leaders would agree, whatever they may say for public consumption. What is going through their minds now is this: this is what happens when they put a Democrat in charge over there.
Yes, there has been ancillary damage to the United States. But the catastrophic damage is limited to the Democratic brand -- the ultimate proof, written in letters a mile high, that if Luxembourg were to attack the U.S. with a Democrat in office, we'd all be subjects of the Grand Duke two weeks later, without, furthermore, anybody being able to figure out how it happened.
For this point of view, it's clear that Julian has been calling in artillery rounds on his own position.
Assange's followers are flakes. These are not Red Guards or Khmer Rouge; these are the potential victims of Red Guards and Khmer Rouge -- foolish, childish, spoiled, miseducated (and possibly ineducable), the dregs of millennial society. They exist in a dream reality, feeding on myths that any normal individual would reject half-heard: that the world is run by means of conspiracy. That capitalism is evil. That Marxism is about sharing. That 9/11 was an inside job. That Michael Moore and Joseph C. Wilson IV are heroic figures. And most of all, that a brave new world lies just around the corner if we only do the right thing.
These people -- the lumpen-intellectuals -- have been bereft in recent months. Their last messiah let them down badly. It has been two years since 2008, and we're still in the bad old world, with Gitmo open, George W. Bush unarrested, and the oceans purportedly still rising. But now they have a new messiah, one whose prophecies remain tantalizingly vague and thus all the more enticing.
What we have here is a religious war, with the left's true believers against everybody else. Fortunately, their method of fighting amounts to sending out e-mails deriding Bristol Palin. In this view, Assange is the latest of those peculiar historical figures who appear when a system is collapsing, vocally assuring its triumph while practically guaranteeing its extinction -- Savonarola in 15th-century Florence, Tenskwatawa and Sitting Bull among the 19th-century Indian tribes, Gorbachev in the last days of the USSR. This new crusade will end just as badly as they all do.
(Anyone seeking evidence of terminal flakiness will find it in this Q&A. One of the questioners unburdens himself of the major puzzle that's been gnawing at him: what about UFOs? Julian A. assures him that the data's on the way. The truth is out there!)
Assange is not too bright. Assange has an obsessive's grasp of IT, and that's about it. The balance of his ideas are on a level with those of his followers -- the same as those of a somewhat thick college sophomore who gets most of his information from the tube.
Consider his strategy. Rather than analyze the e-mails on hand, collate them, sort them, select the one ones with the greatest potential for controversy, and release them where they would have the most impact, he simply throws everything out at once. Why? Because he doesn't know any better. Think of what could have been done with the same information by someone with a more sophisticated grasp of politics -- someone who would have contacted interested parties, who obtained financing or protection by guaranteeing certain messages would -- or would not -- be released. Who would use what he had to pry or bluff further information. Consider what chaos could have been created if this material had been data-mined on behalf of the al-Qaeda or another enemy force. Consider what a Metternich, a Lenin, or a Goebbels would have accomplished with such material.
In light of the possibilities, the actual results are unimpressive. Whatever damage Assange has achieved can in no way match the apocalyptic ruin he was seeking to trigger. He must be far more bewildered and frustrated that he's letting on: it's not like the movies. What happened?
The question remains as to why Assange has been allowed to continue. Part of the answer undoubtedly lies in incompetence -- it's a real puzzle as to exactly what would have to happen to make Eric Holder do the smart thing. But a deeper explanation may lie at the exact opposite pole -- in the omnicompetence of the Intelligence Community that remains untouched by Obama's influence.
It has been known that Assange possessed this material for nearly a year. It was understood that there was no means of getting it back or preventing its release. So what was the alternative? If you've got a lemon, you make lemonade.
Any number of methods exist for manipulating Assange and his organization -- send WikiLeaks fake files, locate their archives and insert new files, manipulate e-mails and other messages, and others that even my nasty imagination would miss without specialized training. As for the purpose -- that's not difficult to envision. A message implying that certain jihadi leaders are on the payroll. That a critical North Korean officer is a Western agent. That certain things that Osama, the mullahs, or Dear Leader wanted done were not done, or were botched in the doing. (In the late 1930s, German intelligence eliminated Soviet Marshal Tukachevsky, the actual formulator of the blitzkrieg strategy, and his entire general staff by exactly this means. Even if the victim suspects the info is false, he still has to take some action. Needless to say, the ultra-paranoid Stalin didn't require much prompting.)
It is likely that Assange is being used, possibly by several parties. They know his every move, what he's doing, whom he's in contact with. (While he was fleeing Sweden at the end of last summer, two laptops in his luggage vanished, along with all data media. See "not too bright" above.) His organization has been penetrated, with all new leaked material traced and accounted for. It's fairly certain that everyone involved has been tracked down by this time, with none of them capable making a move unobserved. Assange is now a puppet, acting out against his will the role of Goethe's Mephistopheles, "Who wills forever evil, and does forever good." (Keep in mind that this holds true even is he is forced to address the charges in Sweden. The rape charges are ancillary matters, unrelated to WikiLeaks -- in fact, little more than a distraction.)
But eventually, Assange's usefulness will end. Then he will vanish -- not by means of a hit squad, but far more subtly and elegantly. A batch of documents from Russia, the mob, or Hamas will appear on the WikiLeaks site, and in short order, Julian and everyone who ever worked for him will be seen in their regular haunts no longer. A wise intelligence service will have film footage of Julian being jammed into a car by figures easily identifiable as to country of origin.
My sympathy will be well-controlled. People have died -- and more will die -- because of this man's actions. It is apparent in the manner in which he abuses women that Assange is a psychopath. Such figures grow worse as they grow more deluded. Under the circumstances, the sooner the better.
The first aircraft raids were carried out by pilots tossing grenades from open-cockpit biplanes. We are the same position as the soldiers gazing up out of the trenches and wondering what the hell that was all about as the offending kite puttered off into the clouds. People in 1914 were not yet introduced to the concept of technological extrapolation; they did not even consider the possibility of the vast air fleets, ruined cities, and atomic bomb strikes that were to grow from such trivial origins. After a century of whirlwind technology, we know better.
How do we defend ourselves on the transformed global battlefield? National militaries are studying both Stuxnet and WikiLeaks closely, not to mention thousands of hackers sitting in their basements considering how much better they'd have handled it than Julian A. We can take it for granted that the same level of discussion and analysis is occurring in American military and intelligence circles. As already noted, nothing can be expected from the current administration. But when a new one takes office, we can be sure that much of the necessary groundwork for Cyberdefense V.2 will have been accomplished.
But we can't leave it at that. The threat is too great, too vast, and too varied. Nor is it limited to IT. The nightmare possibilities inherent in nanotech and biotech chill the blood. There are already large numbers of serious amateurs carrying out biotech experiments in their homes and offices. Little oversight exists to assure that none of them is attempting to supercharge the plague bacillus. Simply add the dementia of a Charles Manson or the megalomania of a Jim Jones, and the picture comes right into focus.
One figure we can look to is the shadowy one of the Jester, evidently the sole force in the Western world capable of making WikiLeaks dance to its own tune. In the Jester's actions we can see clear similarities to the War on Terror, in which civilians have prevented almost all jihadi attacks while official forces have made ever greater asses out of themselves. We are just as much in the front lines as regards cyberwar as we are in fighting terror. We must consider how to extend and deepen the combatant role that the Jester has pioneered. Grabbing people's crotches, no matter how appealing to the Pistoles and Napolitanos of the world, will accomplish nothing. (One possibility would be an informal network among amateur biotech researchers to provide basic self-policing.)
But in the end, we will require something far more profound than tactics, strategy, or organization. We will require a new civility, a mass return to the ideals of responsibility and service that animated civilization up until the modern era. We must revive the concept of the heroic. We need a status quo in which efforts such as WikiLeaks would be considered a scandal and a disgrace by all. After two centuries, the compulsive rebel -- descended from the club-footed Byron and the frail Shelley -- has about run his string. It is a long way down from the maimed grandeur of a Byron to the whining, petulant Assange. Whatever benefit such types may have provided is a matter of dead history. They have shed their attractiveness and outworn their welcome. They are a nuisance at best and a danger at worst. Our civilization has reached a stage where we would be better off without them.
It is possible to transform an entire society in such a fashion. This is exactly what occurred in Great Britain between 1790 and 1840. A rough, violent, and licentious society became one in which gentility, taste, and industry prevailed. This was accomplished through religious fervor, education, and example. The tools exist to duplicate this transformation today. As for the details...they require more in the way of consideration than we have space for at the moment.
J.R. Dunn is consulting editor of American Thinker and will edit the forthcoming Military Thinker. His upcoming book Death by Liberalism can be found at

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Julian Assange: Hero or Huckster?

Julian Assange: Hero or Huckster?

By Kevin Probst

Julian Assange has been incrementally releasing a quarter million documents downloaded from the military internet, NIPRNET. Bradley Manning is the United States Army Officer and Intelligence Analyst who allegedly downloaded the material and made it available for Assange to disseminate on his website, Manning claimed responsibility for leaking the "Collateral Murder" video that nearly 10 million people have seen on Youtube.

If Assange releases information that compromises the security of the United States or the lives of U.S. servicemen then he should certainly be prosecuted if that is possible. But, to date, he hasn't released any "top" secret information or any information that hundreds of other Information Specialists haven't had access to.

Assange doesn't seem to have an agenda pertaining to the United States. He seems to resist all governments. He appears to be a genuine anarchist. Of all the information released thus far there hasn't been a single refutation regarding the truthfulness of the information. Hillary Clinton is gallivanting around the world toting her first aid kit in an attempt to stop the bleeding but she isn't declaring that any of the information is false.

The world's most famous anarchist is hated so deeply because he has released true information. His information proves that many of the world's governing elite are people who are dishonest, incompetent, hypocrites and narcissistic egomaniacs. It's not something that most of the population hasn't already suspected but now they have data available to prove their suspicions.

It should not be so surprising that the world's governments are filled with so much corruption. Lord Acton once said, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." Another famous English politician, William Pitt, said something similar, "Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it"

Americans are not sitting around biting their finger nails because of new revelations. They know that incompetence and corruption is what has brought us to the brink of financial collapse. Politicians have kept interests rates low so as to have a better shot at being reelected. Poor financial planning and faulty financial policy has made the USA the world's greatest debtor nation. Our credit is ruined and we have successfully saddled future generations with enormous debt. Power hungry politicians have burdened the American people with over-regulation and over-taxation. We are on life support and China is trying to decide whether to pull the plug!

Prominent politicians and influential Americans have called for the assassination of Julian Assange. Yet, most would agree that it would be very difficult to prosecute him because it is unclear what laws have been broken. An immediate court martial is in order for Bradley Manning who plugged his thumb drive into a computer containing classified and protected information for the purpose of dissemination. Why so much hatred for Assange? They hate him because he is revealing truth and the truth hurts.

Is Assange a danger to U.S. citizens? The question might be rather is the policies of an incompetent government dangerous to U.S. citizens? It's shocking to watch government sanctioned sexual molestations in airport security booths. It's shocking to watch the government reach into our pockets and claim our money to be theirs. It's shocking to watch jobs vaporize and disappear over seas because of poor and careless government policy. Who poses the greater danger to American citizens, Assange or his accusers?

Assange isn't going to muster much support among the American citizenry but many Americans are seriously questioning how a lowly army private could download 250,000 classified documents and distribute them to Wikileaks. Bradley Manning should be prosecuted to the fullest extend of the law but our government should admit prodigious incompetence when it comes to protecting sensitive information.

Is Assange acting unethically by releasing protected information? That will be debated for some time. Do Americans want to know the truth about Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Vladimir Putin and Hugo Chavez? Yes they do. In regard to the truth, Michael Levy said, “You can bend it and twist it... You can misuse and abuse it... But even God cannot change the Truth.”

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Christmas Food Court - Hallelujah Chorus

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Should Cam Newton Win the Heisman Trophy?

Should Cam Newton Win the Heisman Trophy?

How to make the Heisman Trophy irrelevant.

By Kevin Probst

Once upon a time there was a great football player who played running back for Oregon. But LaMichael James wasn’t so great off the field. He was accused and convicted of strangling his girl friend, (funny how people express love these days) and he was charged with two counts of fourth-degree assault and two counts of physical harassment. Oregon slapped a severe punishment on him by forcing him to sit out its 72-0 massacre of New Mexico. What will this man eventually receive from the NCAA …? Possibly a Heisman Trophy.

Cam Newton is the player who finally left the University of Florida after having been accused of academic fraud. He was arrested at U of F after chunking a stolen computer he had in his possession out the window. Dishonesty runs in this family like a stuffy nose in January. Cam’s father, Cecil, tried to auction his son’s playing ability off to the highest bidder. We don’t know if Auburn won yet, we just know Mississippi State lost. During his brief but illustrious college football career Cam Newton has been accused of cheating and thievery. What will this man eventually receive from the NCAA….? Possibly a Heisman Trophy.

Reggie Bush, former USC player and star player for the New Orleans Saints, was accused of receiving illegal monies while playing for the Trojans. Bush has never denied the allegations. What did this man eventually receive from the NCAA…? The 2005 Heisman Trophy. Bush relinquished the trophy last September. I wonder how the star quarterback who played for Texas, Vince Young, must feel after winning second place that year in the voting?

So, we get the message loud and clear. The Heisman Trophy is all about football talent and nothing at all about character. The message to all our 12 year old little league football players? You can lie and cheat your way through school, play great football and one day you may even walk away with the Heisman Trophy. It’s disgusting to see that honesty and integrity and character development have taken second place to big multi-million dollar bowl contracts. The corruption runs just as deeper among those running the show as it does among the players. The pot is just calling the kettle black. The Heisman Trophy is becoming as irrelevant as the Nobel Peace Prize.

And to think, Tim Tebow, who won the trophy in 2007 was pretty much castigated by the press because he openly professed Christ as Savior and championed the fight for newborn life.

To those who vote for the Heisman winner: Please protect the integrity of the award and those who earned it in the past by being honest and working hard. Give it to a player who not only possesses unbelievable football talent but also demonstrates leadership off the field by living up to a certain standard of moral integrity.

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Control Freak (3)

Control Freak (3)

By Kevin Probst

Our desire to control the circumstances and people in our lives often leads to strained relationships. When we compete with God for control of our lives only negative consequences can follow.

We struggle much to control our own FUTURE. It seems the more future you have the more you want to control it. My father had a passel of godly aunts that provided a spiritual foundation for our family. Whenever I’d come around as a small child they all seemed to have the same message for me, “God has a plan for your life.” I never disagreed with them, I just had no idea how to discover what that plan might be.

It’s still not easy to discern the will of God. I sometimes feel like a quarterback of a football team. The game has reached a very crucial point and I’m looking to the sidelines for a play from my coach. But no play is coming. The play clock is running and time will soon run out but no play has been sent in. Do you ever feel like that?

What does God want me to do with my life? There is an answer to that question. I can tell you that whoever you are, wherever you are, there are certain things God has outlined in the Bible that apply to all who would become Christ-followers. It is God’s will for us to:

• Pray without ceasing

• Give thanks in everything

• Avoid sexual immorality

• Submit to those in authority

• Be saved

• Be filled with the Holy Spirit.

When we read through this list we feel like God’s will is very general for all of his followers and perhaps he isn’t concerned about the specifics in our lives. Nothing could be further from the truth. The immensity of his love for us is revealed in his concern about every detail in our lives.

Sometimes we miss understanding God’s specific will because we fail to grasp the fundamentals. When I was a basketball coach, on the first day of practice, I would gather my team and hold up the round sphere and declare, “This is a basketball. The goal is to put this ball through that ring at the other end of the court.” I would then explain how to hold the ball, then how to dribble it, pass it, catch it and shoot it. My players understood the message: as a coach, I couldn’t devise a complicated play to beat the defense and put the ball through the ring until we had mastered some fundamental things.

When it comes to knowing the will of God we must first master some fundamental things. I might suggest that when we ask the question, “What is it that God wants me to do with my life?” we may be asking the wrong question.

Colossians 3:2-3 “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Getting our minds in the right place is a huge step toward finding the will of God. “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” The dying part is difficult and we need the help of the Spirit of God to do this. We must die to the sinful pleasures of the world. We must die to our own idols, our own selves.

Now, the most powerful words are found in the 4th verse of Colossians. “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Christ is your life! When we ask, “God, what do you want me to do with my life?” he answers that question by replying, “I am your life!” We tend to focus on our goals, our careers, our marriages, our studies…Paul tells us to focus on Christ and he actually demonstrated that for us when he said, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” - Philippians 4:11

When I was a kid my mother would buy my favorite cereal at the grocery store. I loved Lucky Charms, not just for the marsh mellows, but especially for the prize that was in the box. I learned quickly that if you turn the box upside down and open the bottom end the prize would usually be lying there at the top.

There is something very special lying within every true believer. The prize within us is what gives us meaning, it gives us value and a purpose for living. That prize within is the indwelling of the Spirit of God. We carry this prize wherever we go. Whether we are at school, or at work or shopping or just hanging out, someone is going to recognize a difference in us and they will want to know the answer for the reason of the hope that we have.

So, the question fundamentally changes. It’s not so much, “What does God want me to do with my life?” The more accurate question should be, “What shall I do with Christ’s life in me?” If you take care of the life living in you I can surely tell you where you will be five or ten years from now…you will be in the center of the will of God.

Have you ever peaked into the cabin of a Boeing 767? You can’t help but be overwhelmed with admiration for those who have mastered the skill of flying and landing such a complex machine. I would be petrified to have the responsibility of knowing which switches to flip at just the right time. It’s no less terrifying to attempt to sit at the controls of our own lives. It’s way too complex for us. That’s why we need an experienced and competent pilot to take over the controls for us. We need to put God in control of our lives.

It all comes down to our willingness to surrender. Surrendering control of our lives to God is always a safe thing to do but our faith is often weak. Surrendering our lives to Christ means more than just accepting him as our Savior. It means we accept him as our Lord. We must vacate the throne of our own hearts and allow him to take his rightful place as King of our lives.


1. The Game Plan – Jeff Henderson

2. The God of Control – Rick Gabelman

3. Control Freaked – Dr. David Jeremiah

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Who is Julian Assange? Wikileaks?

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Should Christians do Santa?

Should Christians do Santa?

By Kevin Probst

I read a message published by a preacher recently who used Jeremiah 3:13 as a text to preach against Christians celebrating Christmas. “Only acknowledge your guilt – you have rebelled against the Lord your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading (Christmas) tree, and have not obeyed me.” He declared Christmas a pagan holiday and condemned any true Christian who would celebrate Christmas?

He is correct in declaring December 25th a pagan holiday. The ancient Romans celebrated a week long feast in honor of their god, Saturn, that preceded the 25th of December. In ancient Babylon a feast to the god Isis was celebrated on the 25th in which there was much gluttony and riotous partying. Many would question whether December 25th could possibly be the actual birth date of Christ. The argument is based on the idea that the shepherds were in the fields tending their flocks and that just wouldn’t happen during the winter months. But, archaeologists have discovered that the shepherds in that part of the world tended their sheep year round except in the hot and dry summer months when the grasses would have died off.

The exact date of Christ’s birth must not be important because the Bible doesn’t reveal it. But the most informed Bible scholars think it is likely that Christ was born between December 25th and January 4th.

The Bible teaches us repetitively that Satan likes to take the things that are good and bring to them corruption. God creates music, Satan corrupts it. God creates sex, Satan corrupts it. God gives us the ability to create art and the sinful hearts of men misuse their innate abilities to create pieces that dishonor and even blaspheme God. So, if Satan can corrupt a good thing to bring dishonor to God why can’t God not take a bad thing, turn it around and bring honor to himself? Doesn’t God teach us this in 1 Corinthians 1:27-28? “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are.”

I have a five year old son, Kameron, who is very much in the Christmas spirit these days. We have a magical elf in our home that we’ve named Evan. The elf moves about the house (wink) when Kameron is sleeping and every morning he awakes to find the elf in a different place. The elf keeps a close eye on Kameron and will be reporting his behavior to Santa Clause.

Kameron loves it but he is just old enough to have some serious questions about the authenticity of Evan. He recently asked me, “If Evan is real, why does he have that tag on his back?” One day Kameron will realize that Evan and Santa Clause were just imaginative figures in a childhood fantasy. He will also think the same about Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and Lightening McQueen.

That realization will come to him in the very near future but what Kameron already knows is that Christmas is the celebration of the birthday of the Christ child. He knows that Jesus is the Son of God. He knows that Jesus lived on this earth as a human and he died on the cross and though he can’t really comprehend it, (none of us can), he knows that Christ’s death on the cross and his resurrection from the grave makes salvation possible to all of us.

Should we celebrate Christmas on an ancient pagan holiday? Sure, why not. We would be hard pressed to choose a day that wasn’t used to worship some pagan deity. Should we use fantasy to teach our children the realities of God’s love, of the Gift that keeps on giving? Sure, why not? C.S. Lewis was a master at using fantasy to teach the truth about God.

I grew up in a home where the truth was spoken in a forthright and sometimes very blunt way. My father believed if you were old enough to ask you were old enough to know. So, one day as I was walking past the bathroom I saw my Dad shaving. I don’t know why I chose that particular time to ask but I did, “Dad, is Santa Clause real?” The answer was short and seemed to lack sensitivity, “Nope”. And that was that. I wasn’t devastated. The truth set me free. I already had strong suspicions that the whole thing was an adult conspiracy to encourage good behavior among very active children like myself.

Over the years the fantasies faded into fond and warm memories of an earlier age of innocence but the realities of Christmas continued to grow in my heart and mind, sharper, clearer and as true as ever.

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.