September 25, 2006
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank

Dear Marketplace Friend,
      In The Master's Program, one of our early-stage initiatives is to elevate the importance in the life of a Kingdom leader to pursue and realize "balance." Meaning? All of the roles of life, assigned by God - spouse, parent, professional, steward - are being managed at a 90th percentile level, qualifying the leader as biblically- authentic in their claim to leadership ("follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ").
      In that pursuit, we coach leaders to plan "Best Days" with their kids (ages 4 - 40). Those are days to join in the kid's dream activity, not the other-way-around. Can't preach unless I practice: two weeks ago, I pulled Houston (grandson #2) out of Kindergarten for the day and led the pilgrimage to the Magic Kingdom. A day at Disneyland; just Houston and Bob-o. His six-month-younger cousin is countin' the days 'til his turn.
      Talk about turnin' off reality for eight hours! When you're five (and have some sense), the steep-drop, off-the-rails thrillers aren't compelling. His interests went the direction of teacups and Star Tours; his senses were on overload for the whole day.
      One of the "highlights" was a ride that was birthed from the Gospel of Walt, while he was still alive and creating. "Small World" is a hit with the small world; we slid into the boat for our cruise around the planet's cultures. I don't care how sophisticated you are: after four minutes of replay replay replay replay, there is no way to command the lyrics out of your consciousness: "It's a world of laughter, a world of tears. It's a world of hopes, and a world of fears. There's so much that we share, that it's time we're aware: It's a small world after all. It's a small world after all; it's a small world after all; it's a small, small world." The little carved children - animated and happy - are almost convincing....
      Then, jump to the United Nations last week. Let those cherubic children grow up into Manhattan-deployed diplomats. Put the "champions of the future" (folks like Ahmadinejad and Chavez) in front of the microphone, and they aren't singin' "It's a Small World," after all.  What is their "song of the day?"
      For Ahmadinejad, he's playing John the Baptist to his coming "messiah" (my term, not his). He is under the influence of a sect within Islam that believes things are leading to cataclysmic conflagration within the next couple of years. That's not some lame Evangelical spin. According to the Washington Times: "President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Shi'ite creed has convinced him lesser mortals can not only influence but hasten the awaited return of the 12th Imam, known as the Mahdi. Iran's dominant 'Twelver' sect holds this will be Muhammad ibn Hasan, the righteous descendant of the Prophet Muhammad. He is said to have gone into 'occlusion' in the 9th century, at age 5. His return will be preceded by cosmic chaos, war, bloodshed and pestilence. After this cataclysmic confrontation between the forces of good and evil, the Mahdi will lead the world to an era of universal peace. 'The ultimate promise of all Divine religions,' says Ahmadinejad, 'will be fulfilled with the emergence of a perfect human being [the 12th Imam], who is heir to all prophets. He will lead the world to justice and absolute peace. Oh mighty Lord, I pray to you to hasten the emergence of your last repository, the promised one.' He reckons the return of the Imam, AWOL for 11 centuries, is only two years away. Mr. Ahmadinejad is close to the messianic Hojjatieh Society, which is governed by the conviction the 12th Imam's return will be hastened by "the creation of chaos on Earth." He has fired Iran's most experienced diplomats and scores of other officials, presumably those who don't share his belief in apocalyptic conflagration."
      At the same time that America is becoming increasingly ignorant regarding the historic truths of the Bible, our political enemies are increasingly defined by their own, biblically-deviant beliefs that direct and empower their actions. Are they becoming missionaries to the West, bringing a superior gospel our way?
      Our Messiah said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10)."
      Ahmadinejad believes in a Second Coming; so do I. We could both be wrong... but, we can't both be right. Only one is "coming again." If it's Jesus, it demands an answer: are you ready to greet Him?

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