Saturday, May 31, 2014

Major eruption in southern hemisphere at Sangeang Api

Some Geo-news:

Explosive Eruption at Sangeang Api in Indonesia, "New reports from Indonesia tell of an sizable explosive eruption that occurred today yesterday at Sangeang Api."

Ash cloud chaos may go on for days with volcano still erupting
FLIGHTS across Australia may be affected by a vast ash cloud from an Indonesian volcano, which has shut down Darwin airport and affected services to Bali. Three separate plumes are billowing from Sangeang Api, which is now erupting continuously after an initial blast yesterday afternoon. The cloud is now sweeping southeast over the west side of the Northern Territory as far south as Alice Springs, according to Tim Birch, a meteorologist with the Bureau of Meteorology’s Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in Darwin.

Here is some information about the volcano:
Sangeang Api is an active complex volcano on the island of Sangeang in Indonesia. It consists of two volcanic cones, Doro Api at 6,394 ft, and Doro Mantoi 5,889 ft. Sangeang Api is one of the most active volcanoes in the Lesser Sunda Islands. It erupted in 1988 and the island's inhabitants were evacuated. Between its first recorded eruption in 1512 and 1989 it erupted 17 times. It erupted again during December 2012 and May 2014.

The Australian's headline is of interest to me. When they write 'ash cloud chaos' it bespeaks of man's illusion that he controls nature. As in, 'Aw, rats. Just when we had everything organized, this ash cloud is going to interrupt our orderly jet flights, picnics, ball games, and tanning.' If they think one volcano erupting is 'chaos' then I wonder what they will think when all the world's volcanoes are erupting during the Tribulation?

Here is a headline from the ever excitable UK Daily Mail, but their photos cannot be beat:

Pictured from a passenger plane: Menacing 12-mile-high ash cloud looms over Indonesia's 'Mountain of Spirits' after volcano erupts

That does look quite ominous, doesn't it? Here is another view, retweeted by Volcano expert Professor Erik Klemetti:

MT @teideano The view of the #Sangeang eruption from the sea. Impressive #eruption column. #volcano #indonesia

Bow thy heavens, O LORD, and come down:
touch the mountains, and they shall smoke. (Psalms 144:5)

Whenever God's power is expressed so visibly, I ponder His attribute as Creator, King over His creation. I also think about what it will be like during the Tribulation, when God UNcreates the earth.

He created the perfect world, (Genesis 1-2); sin came and He cursed the ground, (Genesis 3:17); He judged the world through the flood and mountains came up, (Genesis 6-9); and He will judge the world again and through that judgment, will reverse the curse. Mountains will fall, (Isaiah 34:9-10, Micah 1:4 ); the earth will crack, (Isaiah 24:1, 19, Nahum 1:5); rivers will dry (Revelation 7:2, Revelation 16:12), and more. The LORD controls the earth. If chaos ensues when one volcano erupts the chaos will be incomprehensible when all of them go off. Read about the power of God in His divine Judgment of the Flood, and think about the coming judgment that awaits the unbelieving world left behind after the Bride is taken up to heaven:

The Power of Divine Judgment in the Global Flood
All we know is God split open the earth and blew what amounts to volcanic eruptions all over the planet that created the mountains, created the valleys,... 

...[Y]ou can do some reading on the Mount St. Helens explosion back in 1980. The steam explosion released energy equivalent to 20 millions tons of TNT when that mountain blew its lid. It toppled 150 square miles of forest in six minutes. Really, talk about reshaping the surface of the earth. 

Well, just imagine that going on all over the planet. Spirit Lake nearby, north of the volcano...created an enormous wave just because of the tremendous explosion. It created what amounted to a tidal wave, and it stripped slopes of trees 850 feet above the lake's level. Total energy output, according to what I read, was equivalent, listen to this, to 40 million tons of TNT from that one mountain. Or 20,000 Hiroshima A-bombs. And that's just one volcano. And when God broke up the planet and reshaped it, it would be that multiplied almost an infinite number of times. The face of the land was changed by steam blasts, landslides, water waves, hot pumice ash, mud floes. Six hundred feet of strata was formed in a handful of minutes.

God's power is incredible. His attribute of Creator is so often overlooked in pondering His equally wonderful attributes of love, healing, restoration, reconciliation, grace, mercy ... but we met God in chapter 1, page 1 of His revelation the bible, as Creator. His power is incredible, speaking the worlds into existence with just a word. Speaking all life into existence in just 6 days, all its myriad manifestations as a ready adult, with complicated reproductive systems, eco systems and habitats. He is amazing!

He will crumble it all away, this time through another global judgment, (The Tribulation) and then after the 1000 years Millennial reign is over, by a fervent heat (2 Peter 3:10). In thinking about God's power in creation and UNcreation, please also think about the people who will endure His wrath.

Though the heavenly abode will be literally flooded with redeemed saints (Revelation 7:9-17), hell will also have to enlarge its mouth to receive the myriads of hell-bound sinners who will die during the UNcration that happens in the Tribulation. Please be sensitive to that fact, and witness with your mouth and your life. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but by HIM. Proclaim Jesus, be sure to be clear WHICH Jesus you are proclaiming, and stand in awe of His power when you see such events as a volcanic eruption, and earthquake, or any other powerful earth or solar storm.

I'm so glad I know that God is on the throne. When volcanoes explode or earthquakes happen, I don't have to believe in any such thing as 'chaos.' God's world is orderly, His plan is unfolding in perfect timing. We may not always know why these things happen, but we do know that chaos is not in control. God is in control.

Friday, May 30, 2014

He is coming on the clouds

EPrata photo

Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8)

Pulpit Commentary says, "That have loved his appearing. It will be a characteristic of those who will be crowned at that day that all the time they were lighting the good fight they were looking forward with hope and desire for their Lord's appearing and kingdom. "Thy kingdom come" was their desire and their petition. They will be able to say at that day, "So, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation" (Isaiah 25:9)

John MacArthur says of the 2 Timothy verse,

"Now somebody might say, "This seems a little egotistical. I've finished my course. I've kept the faith. I've done it all, now, Lord, I want my reward." Is this selfish? Is this somewhat crass or self-indulgent? Is this a bit self-centered? Let me tell you why it's not. God has made the promise. God promised the reward, it isn't wrong to want what God promised. Furthermore, listen carefully, our eternal reward takes into consideration not only what we did but why we did it. Did you get that? And why we did it can either affirm the doing or cancel the doing. For Paul writing in 1 Corinthians chapter 4 and looking ahead to the time of reward says, "Do not go on passing judgment before the time but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts and then each man's praise will come to him from God." Motive is bound up in the deed. And admittedly sometimes...sometimes it seems as though you never do anything from a totally pure motive. But God knows the motive and what of that motive is pure is that which will be rewarded. So we don't need to fear that we might be rewarded for selfish self-centered egotistical self-indulgent crass service. The wrong motive cancels the doing of the deed. But whatever has been done for Christ and in His name with a proper heart motive for His glory, that will be rewarded."

I tell people that Jesus will come tomorrow. And the next day I say He will come tomorrow. And the next...and so on. One of these days, soon I think, I'll be right. He IS returning, He promised to. He will gather His babes to Himself and take us to His home, and forever we will be with the Lord.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

An oddly wonderful prayer

When I read the bible, I read through a whole book. Not all at once, usually chapter by chapter. And sometimes if the chapter is long, or convicting, or complicated, only part of the chapter. Then I pray. Then I listen to an expositor. If I can't find a good sermon I read a commentary on the passage. Then I read the passage again. Usually a phrase or a verse will leap out at me, and I'll mull that, I'll look at parallel verses, or the historical background, and pray. And pray some more. Then I go on with the next chapter. In this way the Spirit delivers understanding and sews the quilt of the bible together pieces by piece so that little by little I gain understanding.

Finding credible Old Testament expositors is difficult but we as a body of believers are blessed to have John MacArthur's Isaiah sermons, Martyn Lloyd Jones, and S. Lewis Johnson to name a few. I'm reading Hosea right now and Pastor Lewis has a sermon series on the entire book.

I appreciate the care and accuracy he applies to his preaching. But also I've come to appreciate his prayers. He prays after reading the text and he prays at the end. His prayers are moving. They are just as wonderful as the text he is preaching on. He prays with sensitivity, within biblical standards, concerns from the heart...and this. I thought this was an odd and wonderful prayer. Odd because no one prays this any more.

"We pray for the whole church, for all of those who name in sincerity the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and we pray, O God, that those who counterfeit Christianity may experience failure. We know that Thou hast said, the church will be founded upon the confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against the true church, and we pray O God for all of the manifestations of the truth. We pray for the other churches where the gospel is proclaimed, and today Lord may they be fruitful in their ministry." ~S Lewis Johnson

Praying for the failure of the counterfeits, while at the same time praying for all manifestations of the truth. How wonderful.

Hosea 7, "The Blessedness of Grey Hair"
Sermon audio


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Repentance is more than just "turning".

As one reads through Hosea, particularly chapter 7, it is amazing the number of metaphors God uses to show Israel's perfidy. They were separated from their God and Protector through their own actions. God hadn't gone anywhere, Israel had. They needed to repent and turn to Him.

However there is turning and there is turning. God was angry that Israel turned to idols. They turned to Egypt. They turned to Assyria. They turned to themselves, in their own beds crying and wailing. ("They do not cry to me from the heart, but they wail upon their beds"; Hosea 7:14) They turned a lot. They didn't turn the right way.

They turn, but not upward,  (Hosea 7:16a)

Turn upward!

Judas turned. In the KJV of Matthew 27:3 it says, "Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,"

Did Judas repent? No. He turned, he felt grief, he refused to look at his sin... but he didn't turn upward.

Easton's Bible Dictionary says there are several words for repent used in the bible. In the case of Judas the verb is "metamelomai is used of a change of mind, such as to produce regret or even remorse on account of sin, but not necessarily a change of heart. This word is used with reference to the repentance of Judas (Matt. 27:3).

The other word for repentance according to Easton's is "Metanoeo, meaning to change one's mind and purpose, as the result of after knowledge. This verb, with (3) the cognate noun metanoia, is used of true repentance, a change of mind and purpose and life, to which remission of sin is promised."

In Judas' case, his turning was not upward.

In your grief over sin, in your restlessness in finding peace, in your agitation, turn, not from one worldly thing to another, but upward!

The lessons of Hosea 7 are many. One is, that God is looking down upon His elect. He is looking. Look upward! See Him! Our holy Savior as High Priest is looking at us, loving us, calling to us to repent. Repentance is a matter of turning, but turning in the right direction, and it is having a right heart condition. Judas' heart wasn't right. Ephraim's heart wasn't right. They cried but it wasn't from the heart. Judas cried, but it wasn't from the heart. If you cry over your sins, is it from the heart? If you turn from your sin, is it in the right direction? We have learned that a horizontal turning is not the right direction because the only thing in our horizontal field of vision is the world. The world doesn't forgive. God in heaven forgives. Upward is the right direction and having the right heart attitude is important too.

"because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved." (Romans 10:9).

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The short, beautiful life of a magnolia blossom

Say "magnolia" and people automatically think of the South. I grew up in New England I know I certainly did. Never once did I think I'd live in the south, and with a magnolia tree across from my front door no less!

It is a stately tree, solid and aristocratic. Kenneth W. Outcalt wrote about the magnolia grandiflora tree, "Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), also called evergreen magnolia, bull-bay, big-laurel, or large-flower magnolia, has large fragrant white flowers and evergreen leaves that make it one of the most splendid of forest trees and a very popular ornamental that has been planted around the world."

The magnolia flower of the grandiflora is just as grand as its host. The petals are enormous but velvety and have a rich ivory color. I don't have a sense of smell so I can't tell you directly. Locals say it smells great. Apparently the scent varies, it can smell like lemons, or violets, or vanilla.

Like the magnolia blossom, we emit a scent also.

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 5:2).

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ's triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing." (2 Corinthians 2:14-15)

Magnolia blossoms are blooming now. The trees are so tall, and most of the blossoms are far above my head, making a close inspection difficult. However this year, there was one bloom that was at eye level. With the flowers being so large and beautiful and emblematic of an entire region of the south, and a blossom blooming literally before my eyes, I decided to photograph one blossom each day for its entire life cycle and put it on my other blog as a photo essay.

I began the experiment on May 23. The blossom here is tightly wound, straight as an arrow, and contains no hints of the surprise inside.

EPrata photo

May 24: It looks a little plumper today.

EPrata photo
May 25: It popped open! Revealing more layers! How pretty!

EPrata photo

May 26: Each petal is larger than my entire hand. The color ranges from white to ivory and the entire blossom looks so stately.

EPrata photo
May 27: The petals are turning brown, barely hanging on to the stem, speckled on the edge with more brown. The leaves immediately under the blossom are dead. Bugs were crawling over the petals, looking for a good place to stake a claim to start munching.

EPrata photo

Four days, that is all it took for the bloom to appear in its final form, open, live, and die. I was so surprised. There are many blooms on the tree, and I just assumed that they lasted a while. I'd never tracked just one. Its life is so short, a mere breath.

I was pondering that for a while today. What seemed so strong and beautiful was only a few days later fodder for death, decay, and insects. In addition, what was presented so starkly to me in the story of the magnolia is something that is repeated in our human body and our short lives. Most of us live more than 4 days, but to God, our life is a mere vapor, a mist.

"yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." (James 4:14)

"You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure." (Psalm 39:5)

So what are we going to do with the time afforded us on our short time on earth?

"Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15-16)

The magnolia fruit will continue to dry out, and eventually open, revealing tiny red seeds. These drop to the ground

EPrata photo
Mature Magnolia fruit just starting to open, with a few seeds visible.
Wikimedia Commons
One botanist wrote that it hardly seems credible that such a large tree could come from such a small seed.

Paul wrote about how our body is a seed, a mere kernel.

The Resurrection Body

"35But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory."

"42So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven." (1 Corinthians 15:35-49)

When the magnolia seed drops to the ground it is a bare kernel, it looks nothing like what it will become. It is red, the flower is white. It is small, the flower is large. It has no smell, the magnolia scent is lovely. The mature blossom lives a short time, bearing witness to the Creator, who is pleased with its beauty and scent, and then it dies. It endures decay and becomes bug-eaten and eventually, dust. (Ecclesiastes 3:20).

The parallel to people is the same. Our lives are short and ends in decay. While we are living we have a job to do, glorify the Creator and testify to His works. Will we redeem the time? Is our Lord pleased with our aroma? When we awaken to receive our final bodies, will it be to shame and contempt or to everlasting life? (Daniel 12:2).

"Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice." (John 5:28)

I pray you are awakened to eternal life, saved by thegrace of our Lord, working to redeem the time on His behalf. Because, it bears repeating,

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 5:2)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Having "ears to hear"

One of the spiritual gifts is "discerning of spirits" (1 Corinthians 12:10 KJV). Other translations say "distinguishing between spirits" (ESV, HSB) while the NAS says "distinguishing of spirits." They generally mean the same thing. The word distinguishing in the Greek carries with it a meaning that someone judges, a passing of a sentence, a thorough conclusion, to detect look-alikes of things that appear to be the same. This is what Charles Spurgeon meant when he said "Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right."

Illustration for NC Wyeth Poem,
The Picket-Guard
To a degree, all Christians have been given an ability to discern. That comes with the Spirit who resides in us. We're all supposed to ask for discernment, and wisdom, too. We are supposed to practice it and develop it. (Hebrews 5:14). The Spirit delivers this discernment, we don't obtain it at seminary or by study with an elder or any man-made means. It is the Spirit ultimately Who gives us the ability to detect error and truth.

While all Christians have at least the ability to discern, some have been given a Spiritual Gift of Discernment. It means some have been given an extra dose. Picture an army. All the encamped men listen for the enemy. However, some have been stationed at the edge of the camp and are on patrol. If the enemy makes a move, it is the men on patrol who hear it first. They sound the alarm. Soon the enemy is close enough f the main army to hear it themselves. However it is the guard on patrol who hear the enemy first and earliest.

 Civil War Dictionary of terms explains the Picket Duty: "An advance outpost or guard for a large force was called a picket. Ordered to form a scattered line far in advance of the main army's encampment, but within supporting distance, a picket guard was made up of a lieutenant, 2 sergeants, 4 corporals, and 40 privates from each regiment. Picket duty constituted the most hazardous work of infantrymen in the field. Being the first to feel any major enemy movement, they were also the first liable to be killed, wounded, or captured. And he most likely targets of snipers. Picket duty, by regulation, was rotated regularly in a regiment."

It is like that with believers who have been given discernment as a gift. We are usually the watchmen, on guard, patrolling the section of ground we have encamped by. The Lord our General has stationed us in a place, given us the ability to hear the different moves of the enemy, and we raise the cry when we hear him slithering, crouching at the door, or otherwise making a move. We also detect spies (Galatians 2:4, Jude 1:4).

I don't often talk about my own experience, because my own experience doesn't matter. Also, the process of discernment is a mystery even to me, who experiences it every day. However I'd like to press your patience this one time and share something personal, with a tie-in to the Mark 4:9 verse,

"And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

Ears of a Watchman with discernment
I've mentioned briefly in passing that our former pastor was let go for serial plagiarism. He had been memorizing other men's sermons and delivering them as his own, even relating the other pastor's personal anecdotes as if he had lived them himself. Apparently this had been going on for four years or more. I arrived at my church in January of 2012. After a few months, little things were said or done by the pastor didn't set right with me, spiritually. I watched, prayed, and watched some more. I had an open mind. I call this phase, the "Hunh" phase, as in "Huhn, what's up with that?" Or, "Huhn, what does that mean?" Or, "Huhn, did I see/hear what I thought I saw/heard?"

Along same summer and then fall of 2013, and my "Huhn" phase morphed into a low alarm phase. I'd leave the sermon feeling unsettled. What was happening as I listened to the sermons during this time is the crux of this essay. I'd never heard anyone speak to this process or never have seen it written about, until one comment recently by Pastor Justin Peters caught my attention. During this phase of listening to my former pastor preach, I'd have the strong sense that behind what I was hearing was...nothing. There was nothing behind the words.

WWI: "The most interesting of the special instruments
employed for the defense of Paris from aerial attack
are the "listening posts", as shown in the illustration.
This consists of four huge horns, which gather up
the slightest sound and magnify it by means of a
microphone, so it is impossible for an
airplane to approach unheard." Wikimedia Commons
See, when the Living God sends His Spirit to fill the words spoken from His word via a preacher or a teacher, they are heavy in my ears. It is like the words themselves are edged with neon, weightier, there is something behind them. Alternately, when there is no Spirit carrying the words, it is like they are pale, dead, like brown leaves drifting to the ground rather than arrows piercing the heart. I can't explain it better than that. Here is a visual.

Hearing regular words:

Hearing Spirit-filled words:

Hearing dead & empty words that are supposed to be alive:

Dead words are empty, they whisper weakly and then fall to the ground. They litter the floor of the sanctuary and flutter only when kicked while walking out the doors when the sermon is done. Jesus was explaining this to Nicodemus in John 3:8, when He likened the Spirit to wind, and said,

"The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

In the 1 Corinthians 12:10 verse about distinguishing of spirits, the word is pneúma . Depending on context, it means wind. Without the word "Holy" in front of it, the word means just spirits, not The Holy Spirit. (source)

As each week progressed through the summer, fall and then winter of 2013, I'd leave church increasingly unsettled. My mind would react to the sermon by saying, "It feels empty." "It feels canned". "There's nothing there."

As Gertrude Stein famously said about Oakland CA, "There's no there there."

When I couldn't shake the feeling and the unsettlement grew to prickling proportions, I decided to investigate, and by March of 2013 I'd made the discovery that each and every sermon was plagiarized. That was why the words I'd heard had no power. They were not carried by the pneuma, the Holy Spirit. They were a lie.

"The tragedy of this last hour is that we have too many dead men in the pulpits giving out too many dead sermons to too many dead people. There is a strange thing that I have seen even in the fundamentalist circles: it is preaching without unction. What is unction? I hardly know what it is, but I know what it is not, or at least I know when it is not upon my own soul. Preaching without unction kills instead of giving life. The unctionless preacher is a savor of death unto death. The Word does not live unless the unction is upon the preacher. Preacher, with all thy getting, get unction." ~Leonard Ravenhill

When the movie Heaven is Real was released, discernment minister Justin Peters was reviewing it on his radio program. (Link below). He was referring to a video interview of the father and son, Todd and Colton Burpo. Peters was describing how Colton looked and sounded when Colton was telling the interviewer of his alleged trip to heaven.

Peters was attempting to describe the lack of verve in Colton's voice and the lack of animation on his face. Peters was saying that IF Colton had actually gone to heaven, there would be a liveliness on his face and a power behind his words. Peters was struggling to articulate the feeling of having ears that hear the pneuma power. He said, frustrated, "Where is the unction? There is nothing behind the words!"

I understand! Gratefully, I finally heard someone else say what I was also struggling to put into words.

Easton's Bible Dictionary explains unction: "Unction- (1 John 2:20 1 John 2:27; RSV, "anointing"). Kings, prophets, and priests were anointed, in token of receiving divine grace. All believers are, in a secondary sense, what Christ was in a primary sense, "the Lord's anointed."

All believers have an unction, or an anointing, to hear the Spirit and be moved by His power. Those of us who have received the gift of discerning of spirits perhaps have a radar that is tuned to a longer frequency, or who have a greater range and hear earlier than others.

I personally believe this is partly what Jesus meant when He said of understanding the parable in Mark 4:9, "And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

Jesus said it again in Mark 4:23, Matthew 11:15, Revelation 2:7, Revelation 2:11, Revelation 3:22. It is said in Deuteronomy 29:4 and Ezekiel 12:2. In the Deuteronomy verse, Moses said to Israel,

 "Yet the Lord has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day."

Having ears to hear is obviously important.

Pulpit Commentary on Mark 4:9 says: "He has "ears to hear" who diligently attends to the words of Christ, that he may ponder and obey them. Many heard him out of curiosity, that they might bear something new, or learned, or brilliant; not that they might lay to heart the things which they heard, and endeavor to practice them in their lives. And so it is with those who go to hear sermons on account of the fame of the preacher, and not that they may learn to amend their lives; and thus the words of Jehovah to Ezekiel (Ezekiel 33:32) are fulfilled, "And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not."

Acoustic listening devices developed for the Dutch army as part of
air defense systems research between WWI & WWII. Source

We all have ears to hear, if we are a believer. However those ears need to be kept clear (Acts 28:27, Matthew 13:15). If you do not have discernment as a gift, you still have a responsibility to practice the skill. Matthew 13:15 explains the first steps in keeping our ears open and receptive:

"for this people's heart has grown callous, their ears are dull of hearing, they have closed their eyes; or else perhaps they might perceive with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and should turn again; and I would heal them."

When the heart grows callous, the eyes and the ears also dim. Keep the heart soft by continual study of the word, prayer, and repentance of personal sins.

Also, are the fruits of the spirit—love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance—apparent in the words you’re hearing? If those are present they are from God. If they are not, the words are not from God.

Third, if there is no Spirit power behind their words, there will be a difference between what people say and what they do. If you hear one thing said but observe that the above fruits are not in the person's actions, then their words are not anointed. In other words, anyone can parrot love, peace, joy, gentleness in their speech but do they demonstrate it, too? One who speaks with unction will speak and act in alignment with God's word. One who speaks without anointing will always show themselves Spirit-less by their actions at some point. (Proverbs 5:22; Isaiah 59:12).

While it is dangerous to base our spiritual life on feelings, the fact is, we do experience things by the Spirit. If you feel something is "off" in a sermon or a teaching, if you feel that it is pale, or lacking something, it could be that it lacks the pneuma or the unction and the Spirit is alerting you to that fact. It takes much prayer and discernment to detect the difference between a personal feeling and the Spirit's warning bell.

Even then, the alert isn't the end, it is the beginning. My role was not just to rely on a feeling, but to prayerfully investigate. When the cold hard facts come in is when we move ahead. The guard on patrol doesn't come running to the encamped army saying, "I think something may be out there!" Something is always out there. The guard comes to the army and says "I saw a flashlight and heard the cocking of a gun." Facts.

While the devices posted above where man experimented with various means of amplification and acoustic listening, our spiritual listening devices are the Word and prayer. That's all we need. Hone your listening skills and ask for increased discernment, whether or not you have the specific gift.

And don't listen for only the words. Listen to what is behind the words.

Whoever has ears, let them hear. (Revelation 13:9)


Further Reading

Challies reviews Expository Listening

1st Mark of a Healthy Church MEMBER: Expositional LISTENING

What is the Spiritual Gift of Discerning Spirits?

Justin Peters reviews Heaven is for Real movie (skip to 22:26-24:20 to the 'lifeless/no unction' incident)

Following the Lord's path

EPrata photo. Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Heidi Mund: "The Brave German Woman"

Last November (2013) a concert called "The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace" written by Welsh composer Karl Jenkins, was scheduled to be performed in a church in Speyer, Germany. The church was built to honor the great reformer Martin Luther.

Luther was a German monk, theologian and priest in the Catholic church. He is considered the catalyst for the Reformation because he challenged the teachings of the church by asking 95 questions. He hadn't intended to take on the Catholic Church but the Church's response to his thoughtful and scholarly (not challenging) questions confirmed to Luther that he was right.
Speyer means “spires”.
Luther did not believe the current teachings of the Church; that sins could be forgiven if indulgences were bought with money, that heaven could be attained by doing good works, that salvation was not a free gift of God. Luther was especially concerned over the Catholic practice of indulgences and said so to the indulgence salesman who was making the rounds on behalf of the Pope so as to gather money to repair St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Thesis 86, asks: "Why does the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of Saint Peter with the money of poor believers rather than with his own money?" (source: Hillerbrand, Hans J., "Martin Luther: Indulgences and salvation," in Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2007)

As Wikipedia puts it, "Luther's theology challenged the authority of the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church by teaching that the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge from God. Martin Luther died in 1546, still convinced of his Reformation theology, and with his decree of excommunication by Pope Leo X still effective. ... On his deathbed, Luther was asked, 'Are you ready to die trusting in your Lord Jesus Christ and to confess the doctrine which you have taught in his name?'. He answered, 'Yes' before taking his final breath.

"The Memorial Church of the Protestation is a Protestant Lutheran church in Speyer, Rhineland-Palatinate. Built between 1893 and 1904, the church was constructed in memory of the protest that took place at the Diet of Speyer by the Protestant states of the Holy Roman Empire in 1529. This Protestation at Speyer sealed the schism of the Christian church and is considered the birth of Protestantism. From this time on the adherents of the reformation movement were called Protestants." (source)

So it would seem that Speyer is an important historical place in our faith, at least the builders of the Memorial Church at Speyer thought so, commemorating the man Luther and the men who stood for Christ against the false Church at Rome.

Back to November 2013 and the Brave German Woman as she is known. Her name was soon discovered, Heidi Mund. Though she does not live in Speyer, Ms Mund had heard that a Muslim call to prayer was going to take place at Speyer in the Memorial Church. She prayed, and eventually asked her brother to accompany her to the place. The believers were allowed to make a protest, but only a silent protest and only at quite a designated distance from the church. Ms Mund decided to buy a ticket, and along with her brother, entered the venue. The only seats available at that late date were the balcony seats. She continued to pray.

There is a 6-minute opening song called The Armed Man, and then a Muslim is supposed to call to prayer for two minutes. When the muezzin stood up and began to ululate his call, a righteous anger rose in Mund, she said later, she unfurled her German flag-banner emblazoned with "Jesus Christ" and shouted "Jesus Christ alone is Lord over Germany! I break this curse [of Muslim prayer]. I am standing here, I cannot do otherwise! [As Luther had said]. This is the church of Martin Luther! I stand here, I cannot do otherwise!" It was about that time she was approached by security and escorted out. Her brother kept filming.

A bystander shouted, "This is a concert for peace!!" Believers were angry because we disturbed their concert.
~Heidi Mund

Mund shouted back in reply, "No it is not! Not when Muslims are shouting Allahu Akbar while murdering people! Do not be fooled! It is a lie!"

Allahu Akbar opens the prayer, it is an Islamic phrase, called Takbir in Arabic, meaning "God is greater" or "god is [the] greatest" [over all other gods]
The Armed Man: The Call to Prayers (Adhaan, the Muslim call to prayer)

Allahu Akbar
Ashadu An La Illa-L-Lah
Ashadu Anna Muhammadan Rasulu-l-lah
Hayya Ala-s-salah
Hayya Ala-l-Falah
Allahu Akbar
La Illaha il la-lah
Allah is the greatest.
I bear witness that there is no God but Allah.

I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.
Come fast to the success.
Allah is the greatest.
There is no god but Allah

As one Muslim explained, "the main purpose behind the multiple loud pronouncements of adhan in every mosque is to make available to everyone an easily intelligible summary of Islamic belief. It is intended to bring to the mind of every believer and non-believer the substance of Islamic beliefs, or its spiritual ideology."

This call was proclaimed in the Memorial Church as Speyer, a Christian church, during the concert.

By March 2014, CBN had picked up on the incident, which had made the rounds in Germany. Mund was interviewed on its program. After that, the incident became more well-known in the US.

Though the news media portrayed Ms Mund's protest as a protest of a muezzin calling to prayer in a Christian church, and it was, what was little reported was that it was part of a concert with ecumenism as its thesis. The call to prayer by a muezzin was not the sole feature. Here is information about the Karl Jenkins concert, "The Armed Man."

The Armed Man is a Catholic Mass. It is an anti-war piece based on the Catholic Mass and the 15th century "L'homme armé” a folk piece widely used by Renaissance composers as a cantus firmus for the Latin Mass. The concert includes other religious traditions, including Hindu, pagan folklore from the King Arthur Legend, pieces from the Holy Bible's Psalms and Revelation, and of course the already-noted Muslim call to prayer. Also included are the Catholic Agnus Dei and the Benedictus. Let's let that sink in for a moment, while we return to Ms Mund.

Politically Incorrect News has a translation of Ms Mund's own words about incident. Here are some excerpts-

I don’t want to join the silent vigil that had permission to quietly protest far away from the church. Regarding the issue, I cannot simply remain silent. We have tickets for the balcony. My brother – we are all like one family – cannot keep his mouth shut. He is from Northern Africa, and he’s already been through a lot. When reading the inscription at the tall statue of Martin Luther, we are deeply concerned. ...

Confidently the Imam is reaching the pedestal and starts with this awful call. Quickly I’m taking my German flag which reads: Jesus Christ is the Lord. I’m unrolling the flag and speak the famous quote by Martin Luther: “I am standing here. I cannot do otherwise.” I know, time is short. I’m lifting the curse the Imam has just placed on the church and on us.

From each corner, people start pulling my flag. I don’t want it to rip. Then they are pushing me and F. They shall leave me, don’t touch me. I keep telling that I will leave voluntarily. They try grabbing F.’s cell phone he used for filming. Over and over they try holding me ruggedly. They already had been waiting for us to come up with something. Through the rear exit we are being pushed downstairs. I remember what Jesus Christ himself once said to those who are not worthy of God’s peace: "And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town." (Matthew 10:14 English Standard Version (ESV) So we both consciously do. I keep thinking: this is betrayal, betrayal of the martyrs, betrayal of us believers, of our country, of God himself.

I know, this is not just about a show concealed as a “concert”. This is about the foundation of our existence. This is about our lives.

The Memorial Church in Speyer had been built at the beginning of the last century by the German state and the congregation in commemoration of Martin Luther and the German rulers who protected him. Now “the great prostitute” (Revelation 17:1 (ESV) had occupied it.

The great Apostle Paul says in Galatians 1:8 (ESV):
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.”

Reading about the content of this terrible performance, it seems to me like a curse on our country. It feels as if we were singing to this “concert” for our own judgement. It’s pure idolism being carried out in God’s church. The living God, this house has been dedicated to, will react to this. The pastors and the leader of the Protestant/Evangelical Church in Germany betray their founder Martin Luther and the reformers, they betray our country which built its law and moral standards upon God’s word, the Bible. They betray all of us.

People only dare to change God's word when they don't know God, I would be very afraid to change anything as long I have known God, I would be too afraid."
~Heidi Mund

I'm thankful that Ms Mund and her brother relied on the strength and courage of the Holy Spirit to make a stand in the place where other believers had stood centuries before making a stand for Jesus. She's right, the Memorial Church at Speyer's elders betrayed us and most importantly, betrayed Jesus, by allowing such blasphemies to be proclaimed in His house.

She's also right about the insidiousness of a "concert's" hidden agenda. Many believers were encouraged all over the world and in Germany by this one woman's brave stand. I'm so thankful.

It is sickening to me that a muezzin would be allowed to stand in a Christian church and be allowed to shout that Allah is greater than God. Sickening. Ms Mund was brave, no doubt about that. I'm heartily encouraged by her prayerful action.

But I ask this rhetorical question. If we remove the Call to Prayer by the muezzin from the concert program, and leave only the Catholic portions of the mass, would she have been as exercised? Would she have driven 40 miles, and spent double digits to enter the concert, risk jail or physical punishment? She has said many times that it was the Muslim call to prayer that was such a catalyst to her action.

Luther wasn't protesting Islam, as heinous as that religion is. He was protesting the almost-trueaspect of Catholicism, and how it melds truth and lies to deceive millions. How it uses power to strip peasants of their money while giving them false hope. Islam is obviously a false religion. Catholicism isn't as obviously false, but it is just as deadly.

Would I have made such a stand if a concert containing Catholic elements were in it? Would you?

The Benedictus, or Sanctus, is part of The Armed Man concert. In the Roman Catholic Church, a partial indulgence was once specifically granted for recitation of the Sanctus prayed once daily together with the Trisagion. Indulgences was the very activity that sparked Luther and his reformation, and it had come full circle and entered in the church at Speyer where the schism from Catholicism was cemented. Now THAT is something to protest! I'm upset about the muezzin, but more upset about the Catholicsm allowed back into the place where it was once ejected, costing bloody lives of many believers. That is the betrayal. But would we protest? Do we?

These questions are pertinent. The day is coming and is already here, where all manner of religions will force their way into the church. The most obvious false religions are dangerous. However, the least obvious are the most dangerous. Jesus Calling, Seeker Sensitive, Vision Casting, Catholic concerts for peace...all are wolves disguised as sheep, crouching at the door. And in Speyer, it is boldly entering in, and bringing with it Muslims who dare to proclaim Allah is greater.

God will richly repay.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19).

The LORD is a God who avenges. O God who avenges, shine forth. (Psalm 94:1)

Meanwhile, I think Ms Mund did the right thing. She stood her ground, proclaimed Holy Jesus in His house, left peacefully when pressured by the law, and prayed to the Spirit to take her words for whatever glory He will make of it in order to exalt Jesus. This is what we in America will have to do, and soon, by the looks of it.

We enter into the Memorial Day holiday tomorrow, remembering the soldiers who gave their lives to protect us and our freedom. Included in that freedom is the freedom to practice our religion. Would you make a stand as a soldier of Christ if the opportunity presented itself? Would you be a Brave American Woman in the army of God?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

New header

This photo for the new header was taken at Jasper Beach, Machiasport, Maine. This part of Maine is considered Downeast, and is remote, rural, and quiet. It's near Canada.

It is also known for fog. The fog bank rolling by came furtively and quickly obscured the pine trees in the distance, all the while amplifying the putt-putt of the lobster boat in the harbor.

Earthquakes this week: VIrginia, Oklahoma, Algeria, India, Huge earthquake rocks Turkey & Greece

Several earthquakes of note occurred this week. They range in size of magnitude and geographical location. Between the epic hail across the nation, lightning, tornadoes, and let's not forget extreme drought, these earthquakes added to the mix are just astounding. I am amazed at our Holy God. He demonstrates patience and living-kindness to His rebellious people on earth. Though we are deserving of wrath, He continues to signal His power as warning rather than the wrath we justly deserve.

His patience will come to an end. When? We don't know for sure, but perhaps our generation. When it comes, His wrath will then come as holy fury, and I shudder to think of that moment, some time after the rapture of the saints to heaven. Now to the news:

Huge earthquake rocks Turkey and Greece-UPDATED
"An earthquake of 6.4 [USGS rates is at 6.9] magnitude struck off the coast of northern Greece on Saturday and was felt as far away as neighbouring Turkey and Bulgaria but there were no reports of serious casualties or destruction, police and fire brigade officials said. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake occurred some 48 miles south-southwest of Alexandroupolis, between the islands of Lemnos and Samothrace, at a depth of 6 miles. Greek police said the quake had caused minor damage to shops and houses on the two islands. Meanwhile, 267 injuries, one of them critical, have been reported by Turkey's official emergency agency. The USGS downwardly revised its first reading of 7.2. Greece, at the southeastern end of Europe, is often buffeted by earthquakes. Most cause no serious damage but a 5.9 magnitude quake in 1999 killed 143 people. "It lasted very long and it was very intense. We haven't got the full picture of the damage caused yet," the mayor of Lemnos, Antonis Chatzidiamantis, told Mega TV."
A 'significant' earthquake happened in Virginia earlier in the week:
A magnitude 3.2 earthquake that was centered west of Richmond shook the ground Wednesday night as far north and east as the Washington metropolitan area. The quake, which was centered in the area of Powhatan and Amelia counties, was far smaller than the one that caused damage to buildings in the Washington area about 21 / 2 years ago. Officials had received no reports of significant damage or injury. But more than 1,300 people in a broad swath of Virginia, as well as in parts of Maryland, reported feeling some of the effects of the quake. It shook a basement in Spotsylvania County and reminded people of a big truck driving past or of a powerful thunderstorm.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) keeps track of earthquakes that happen in the world. They monitor the location, depth, duration, and a host of other variables.

'Major quakes' are quakes with magnitude between 7.0-7.9, and 'great earthquakes' are classified as having a magnitude of 8.0 or higher. USGS also classifies earthquakes as 'significant,' such as the one in Virginia last night. These are noted on the USGS recent earthquakes page with a hot pink background, or they are listed in the significant earthquakes page and archived that way.
However I have been unable to find a definition of what makes an earthquake "significant". In the past, USGS has defined "significant earthquakes" as "Earthquakes of magnitude 6.5 or greater or ones that caused fatalities, injuries or substantial damage" but that definition has changed and I can't find the new one.

Looking at the list of significant quakes, they range in magnitudes from small to larger, so it seems that either the depth or the location would be variables that land these quakes into the significant category, among other variables I don't know about. If someone can find a USGS definition for this classification I'd appreciate it.

There was a 5.9 quake off the coast of Konarka, India that the USGS also rated as "significant".

Moderately dangerous earthquake near Mostaganem, Northern Algeria
UPDATE : Moderate (4.9) but very shallow and thus moderately dangerous earthquake
Earthquakes are still rattling Oklahoma. The following is a news release from USGS.
The rate of earthquakes in Oklahoma has increased remarkably since October 2013 – by about 50 percent – significantly increasing the chance for a damaging magnitude 5.5 or greater quake in central Oklahoma.

This is from The Atlantic: "Middle America Is Experiencing a Massive Increase in 3.0+ Earthquakes"
A new United States Geological Survey study has found that middle America between Alabama and Montana is experiencing an "unprecedented" and "almost certainly man made" increase in earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater. In 2011, there were 134 events of that size. That's six times more than were normally seen during the 20th century. While the changes in the area's seismicity began in 2001, the trend has really accelerated since 2009, the geologists note.

God has used earthquakes many times to warn, judge, and demonstrate His power. An earthquake occurred when Jesus died on the cross-

"And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split." (Matthew 27:50-51)

Rocks split. That is a serious earthquake. Three days later, there was another great earthquake when Jesus rose.

"And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it." (Matthew 28:2)

Earthquakes were something that Jesus warned about in answering about the last days signs in the Olivet Discourse of Mt 24. Not all earthquakes can be said to be a sign of God's punishment, but there will be a great, GREAT quake that shock the people into repentance (perhaps- or at least into recognizing God is behind it).

"When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”" (Revelation 6:12-17)

But by the end of the Tribulation when the last quake happens, the greatest of all ever in history, the people only utter blasphemies.

And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely severe. (Revelation 16:18-19).

Give praise and honor to our Sovereign God, who is Ruler over the earth and skies and universe and heaven. And our hearts.

Friday, May 23, 2014

(Possible) "torrential meteor storm" tonight

This one snuck up on me. The Chicago Tribune reports,

Late Friday night into Saturday morning, North America will probably see a brand-new meteor shower, and there's a good chance that these gentle shooting stars will become a torrential meteor storm and provide quite a light show. The new meteors — the Camelopardalids — are dusty remnants of a comet discovered in 2004. With clear skies, sky gazers may see meteor activity beginning at 10:30 p.m. Friday, according to Bill Cooke of the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Astronomers predict that the peak will occur between 2 and 4 a.m. Eastern time Saturday, but Cooke believes that gazers may be able to catch sight of shooting stars through the dawn before sunrise washes them out. Cooke said that thanks to Jupiter's gravitational pull, the comet's debris trail is intersecting the Earth's orbit for the first time.

New meteor showers are found fairly often, Cooke said, but with falling star rates so low "even an experienced observer would not notice them." He added, "New showers with rates of tens or hundreds per hour are very rare.

It is a new meteor shower, that's why it snuck up on me. The scientists know the date and the duration but don't know the intensity. Some say the shower could fizzle out. Others say there could be up to 200 per hour. Hence the use of 'possible' in the blog essay title.

Here is another article about it: Tonight's meteor shower cold be a really great one

What a spectacular show the Lord is putting on. The hail and lightning the last couple of days, and now this "new" and "torrential" star shower.

Though everything that happens ultimately is related to the last days, because God is working all things out to fulfill His plan, and all things will ultimately dwindle down to the one moment the church is raptured and His judgments begin, the meteor shower isn't an event we can definitively point to and say "aha, a sign." For example, there is this verse,

"There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven." (Luke 21:11)

It is a Tribulation verse. Are there great earthquakes happening at this same time? Widespread pestilences? No. The meteor shower will be fun to watch and ascribe God's power and glory to, and while it is tangentially a sign because everything is under His sun and working to the last moments of history, it isn't a definitive end times sign.

Start watching at around 10pm, astronomers say. The shower is supposed to peak between 2-4 am. Some reports say there could be up to 200 an hour- that's an amazing 3 per minute. Another scientist said that you should go to where there isn't a lot of ambient ground light, where there is an unobstructed swathe of sky to view, and bring a chair to be comfortable. I am lucky, in my rural area there are no lights (except for one across the street at the school), and though my yard is rimmed by trees, it's large so I can see a big section of the sky. Be sure to enjoy God's show tonight, and as always, keep looking up.

“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
and the heavens are the work of your hands;
they will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment,
like a robe you will roll them up,
like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same,
and your years will have no end.”
(Hebrews 1:10-12)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Crazy hailstorm in Denver and Pennsylvania, photos (updated)

I was torn about tonight's blog essay. I had prepared about 80% of an essay about the unusual earthquakes happening this week. Then I became entranced with the phrase "ears to hear" and discernment, and spent time in prayer and listening to a sermon about it. But yesterday and tonight I'm watching in amazement the severe weather beating up the eastern half of the United States- the thunder and lightning and wind, and especially the hail!

There was epic hail in Denver and environs last night and tonight it is happening in Pennsylvania now. I mean epic. People were flabbergasted and weather forecasters were astounded. Let me show you.


UPDATE Friday, May, 23. Shawn Reynols at Weather Center Live just tweeted, "Almost 500 reports of #hail since Tuesday. Insane."

First Choice Weather ‏@1stChoiceWeathr Incredible hail along 222 in Lancaster. Thanks to @s_sstormchasing

RT @Stormrushdotnet: Hail storm in Reading, PA shattered my mom's apartment windows. Wow. #pawx

4 inch hail in Binghamton NY photo by National Weather Service NY

Tennis ball sized hail in Danville PA photo by Kevin Pursel

Tornado warned area in Franklin VA photo by @MartinMMC

 Windows shattered from golf ball sized hail. Wyomissing, PA via @t_franco12

Today it has been stormy from Va to PA to NY. Last night it was the middle of the country. Here is a shot of a thunder and lightning storm rolling in to Cleveland OH-

Epic #OHwx --> RT @BuzzFeedStorm: Thunderstorm approaches downtown Cleveland, Ohio, earlier tonight - @JeffreyRStroup

Crazy pic of hail from Colorado Springs, Colo. via @KKTV11News:

Incredible #COwx --> RT @COWeatherguy: @WCL_Shawn @coloradowx hail for you!!

I saw a video of inside malls, where the hail had easily broken the skylights and hail and rain was pouring in, one in CO and one in PA. Here is a CNN report of the CO hail storm, and there were tornadoes too.

Tornadoes, large hail smack Colorado
"A fierce weather system -- featuring baseball-sized hail and multiple tornadoes -- ripped through Colorado on Wednesday afternoon, spurring warnings to people in and around Denver to take cover. The frenzy was tied to a dangerous super cell thunderstorm that, in addition to heaps of hail, produced a number of twisters, according to storm chasers on the scene. The National Weather Service said there were reported tornado touchdowns in Watkins, East Denver, Aurora, Byers and Leader. One witness, Jeff Piotrowski, said shortly after 3 p.m. (5 p.m. ET) that he had personally seen five tornadoes on the ground not far from Denver International Airport. ... The weather service's Boulder branch retweeted a photo of about 6 inches of accumulated hail in Denver's Green Valley Ranch, plus another showing Highway 470 restricted to one lane because of the hard, white stuff."

Here is a news article about the hail from Weather Channel
Hail the size of ping pong balls sent pedestrians running for cover in Colorado Springs, and cars slid on the hail along Interstate 70 in Aurora. The hail piled up several inches deep, dented cars and broke windows out of some homes. Officials used snow plows to clear the hail from the main airport access road. Frontier Airlines says 13 of its flights were canceled due to its aircraft being damaged by hail. ... Wednesday marked the second day in a row a hail storm hit the Denver metro area.
Thunderstorms packing hail and dangerous lightning also made their way across Illinois and Indiana on Wednesday.

Two days of epic hail is interesting. The bible says of hail, one of many verses,

He gave them hail for rain,
and fiery lightning bolts through their land.
He struck down their vines and fig trees,
and shattered the trees of their country. 
(Psalm 105:32-33)

Easton's Bible Dictionary says of hail: "one of the plagues of Egypt ( Exodus 9:23 ). It is mentioned by Haggai as a divine judgment (Haggai 2:17 ). A hail-storm destroyed the army of the Amorites when they fought against Joshua ( Joshua 10:11 ). Ezekiel represents the wall daubed with untempered mortar as destroyed by great hail-stones (Ezek. 13:11 ). (See also 38:22 ; Revelation 8:7 ; 11:19 ; 16:21 .)"

Even secular man jokes about the plague of hail. Shawn Reynolds of Weather Center Live at the Weather Channel tweeted, "Incredible pics of hail in PA, tractor trailers on fire in AL. Anyone know if the locusts are due to arrive around 5p?"

No, not locusts (yet) but Jesus is due to arrive at some point in the future, the near future by the look of it. I hope that sinful man is prepared by repenting of his sins and submitting to Lord Jesus. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the ONLY way. (John 14:6).

And aren't we grateful God made a way for us to return to Him in heaven! Separated no more! Though He reveals His power in the weather, He revealed His love through His Son, Jesus.

"And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:17)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ukraine Jews, Anti-semitism rising, Russia-China gas megadeal, kids' reaction to gay couple, prophecy

We are moving rapidly to the end of the school year here in northeast Georgia. As a teacher's aide in kindergarten we have been busy with end of year programs, field day, field trips, ice cream day, ceremonies with certificates, and the like. Friday noon, the kids leave for the year. The next Friday after that, I'm done completely.

It's been busy, but good. I always love the beginning of the year, so fresh with promise of making a difference in a child's life. The end of the year is weary but happy, knowing we are sending the children to the next grade armed with knowledge and love, ready to grow some more on their life's path.

Despite coming home so tired lately, I praise the Lord for His enduring strength which He gives me generously. No matter how tired I am when I get home, after a time of cool beverage refreshment (lately ice water with lemon, but I'm anxious to try fruit-infused water this summer) and a period of quietude, I feel ready to read His word, write about Him on the blog, and pray some more.

Here are some news headlines I thought were particularly evocative of the end of the end times. We see ahead in God's word what will come to pass. And on the ground all around us we see motions drawing toward those events which will come to pass. Some, most, of the machinations are invisible to us, either because they take place in back rooms out of public view, or because they take place in the heavenlies and we are not privy. But with the times being what they are, more and more often we see the drawstring tightening, the hole closing, and the times darkening The few items below are examples of such machinations, attitudes, and events I believe play directly into the Tribulation prophecies to a larger than normal scale.

Israel National news reports,
EU Officials Appalled at Rise of Anti-Semitism in Europe
"At high level meeting with Jewish leaders, 18 EU member-state representatives are urged to wake up and lead the fight against Jew-hatred. ...European Jewish Association (EJA) General Director Rabbi Menachem Margolin led a briefing for EU ambassadors and officials at week's end, following the release of the most comprehensive survey to date on global anti-Semitism by the ADL, which revealed startling levels across the continent."
"Then you shall be left few in number, whereas you were as numerous as the stars of heaven, because you did not obey the LORD your God. "It shall come about that as the LORD delighted over you to prosper you, and multiply you, so the LORD will delight over you to make you perish and destroy you; and you will be torn from the land where you are entering to possess it. "Moreover, the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known. (Deuteronomy 28:62-68)

'Startling levels.' That's an interesting phrase, especially for a newspaper not usually given to hyperbole.

Then there's this. On May 4, the Times of Israel reported that "Ukrainian Jews immigrate to Israel amid growing unrest; immigration from troubled country up 142%
"Almost 800 people arrived in the country over January-April, and over 200 have signed up for May. The agency noted these figures do not include those who have arrived as tourists and later completed the immigration process while already in the country."

Yet this week Israel National News (INN) says that "Reports of mass exodus of Ukrainian Jews are 'nonsense,' says Joint head"
In first interview since taking over as head of JDC, Alan Gill says Jews are not fleeing the violence en masse, and are not likely to in the future.

Yet the news article cities the same statistics as the Times of Israel. It is fair to say that in the Haaretz report, there are over 350,000 Jews in the Ukraine, many of the elderly and not planning to move anywhere. A thousand Jews moving back to Israel is very small sampling, however the fact that so many more Ukrainian Jews are moving back compared to the year before as INN reported, is also fair to look at.

What does the bible say?

In the Tribulation, Jews will be hunted and killed. Persecution levels will reach genocidal, bloodbath proportions. (Revelation 12:13; Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 12:1).

The WWII Holocaust, the terrible time when millions of Jews were hunted and killed, was a preview for what is coming on the Day the LORD has set.

In other news, it is reported today that Russia and China have signed a gas exporting contract and in so doing seem to be moving toward a new Eurasian nation. Business Insider has the report:

Russia And China Sign Gas Pipeline Megadeal
Russia's Gazprom and China's China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) have signed a historic 30-year contract to supply natural gas to China, according to Russia Today and confirmed by Bloomberg. The total value of the contract is $400 billion, Gazprom CEO Aleksey Miller told RT, although the price in the document remains a "commercial secret." Negotiations have been ongoing for more than a decade. ... The gas will be sent through a new eastern pipeline linking the countries. Reuters reports that Russia will invest $55 billion in gas exploration and pipeline construction and Beijing will give roughly $20 billion to Moscow as part of the agreement. ... Europe is Russia’s largest energy importer as it bought more than 160 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2013, but tensions and sanctions over Putin's meddling in Ukraine have Russia looking elsewhere.

The Business Insider article has the facts, but what are we to make of it? Is there an analysis of what this means? Yes. Yves at Naked Capitalism reposted the take on this megadeal by a reporter for the Asian Times. He introduced the Asian Times reporter's analysis this way:

"Astute readers will no doubt point out that some of the elements of the Russia-Chinese emergent plan, such as reliance on gold-backed currencies, are sorely misguided. But the bigger point is that the two nations are looking hard for ways to undermine the US economic hegemony."

This week should provide the first real fireworks in the celebration of a new Eurasian century-in-the-making when Russian President Vladimir Putin drops in on Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.  You remember “Pipelineistan,” all those crucial oil and gas pipelines crisscrossing Eurasia that make up the true circulatory system for the life of the region.  Now, it looks like the ultimate Pipelineistan deal, worth $1 trillion and 10 years in the making, will be inked as well.  In it, the giant, state-controlled Russian energy giant Gazprom will agree to supply the giant state-controlled China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) with 3.75 billion cubic feet of liquefied natural gas a day for no less than 30 years, starting in 2018. That’s the equivalent of a quarter of Russia’s massive gas exports to all of Europe 
Look at that. Russia's monstrously big.
Combined with Asia as ally or as one of the ten kingdoms, it dominates

Exit the Petrodollar, Enter the Gas-o-Yuan
And then, talking about anxiety in Washington, there’s the fate of the petrodollar to consider, or rather the “thermonuclear” possibility that Moscow and Beijing will agree on payment for the Gazprom-CNPC deal not in petrodollars but in Chinese yuan. One can hardly imagine a more tectonic shift, with Pipelineistan intersecting with a growing Sino-Russian political-economic-energy partnership. Along with it goes the future possibility of a push, led again by China and Russia, toward a new international reserve currency — actually a basket of currencies — that would supersede the dollar (at least in the optimistic dreams of BRICS members).

There's more good stuff at the link to Naked Capitalism, but there is much to consider here, prophetically.

What does the bible say?

The United States figures nowhere important in prophecy. By the time the Tribulation arrives, the US will likely be marginalized, insignificant, or maybe even reduced to rubble. We're nobody special, at least in the prophetic theater, which is 99% contained in the Bible Lands.

Russia, however, does figure prominently. God plans to use Russia to demonstrate His power and His protection of Israel. Ezekiel 38-39 has the story. (Begin with Ezekiel 38:1-4). Asia also figures in prophecy too. The Kings of the East come from Asia (Revelation 16:12).

There are prophesied to be ten kings reigning with the beast over ten kingdoms for a brief time at the end of history. Perhaps this megadeal is the demonstrable movement toward that. (Revelation 17:12). Europe is already united by open borders, economic alliances, and a common currency.

We've looked at God's people the Jews. We've looked at geo-political changes in the prophetic lands. Last, let's look at culture. The liberal media Huffington Post posted this video which apparently (according to them) has gone viral. It is listed as 'Most Popular' on their Gay pages. It is a snippet of a little boy reacting to learning that the two men talking with him are married. The boy looks to be about 5 or 6 years old. It is actually a three-year old video.

WATCH: This Kid's Reaction To Meeting A Gay Couple For The First Time Is Priceless

Transcript. Calen is the kid.
Calen: A husband is a boy.
Calen: A husband's a boy and a wife is a girl. But you two are husbands! A husband is a boy.
Yeah, we're both husbands
Calen: You're both husbands?! You married each other???!!! That's funny [smacking forehead, and not funny as in ha-ha but that's funny as in that's weird]
That's funny, right?
Calen: Yeah. It's usually husbands and wives. But this is the very first time I saw husbands and husbands!
Homosexual man leans into camera range, laughs- ha ha ha ha ha
Calen: So funny. [thinks, looks away] So that means you love each other.
Calen: Yeah. You're much alike. I'm going to play ping pong, You can play if you want to.

The liberal media is picking up on this (3 years late, I don't know why) and calling it "ridiculously adorable" "innocent" etc. One writer at Slate said

"kids who haven’t been indoctrinated with their parents’ animus tend to react to gay couples with open-hearted curiosity that quickly fades into apathy."

One commenter said, "what i want to know is what were 2 gays with a video camera and a child doing in the bathroom?" Good point.

What media is focusing on is the child's statement that they "must love each other." They trumpet his reaction as one totally without prejudice. But it is not so. The title could well be changed from "Kid reacts to gay couple" to "Kid confused by gay couple". What none of the articles picking up on this speak to his first reaction, with head smack no less; 'that's funny' [weird].

Matthew 18:5-6 says

And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Homosexual union IS weird. It is unnatural. (Romans 1:26). There are two prophetic things here. First, any culture that engages in the perverted behavior of homosexuality is ripe for judgment, (Romans 1:18) and any nation that heartily approves of it is being judged already. (Romans 1:32).

Romans 1 is the picture of a process into degradation and God's judgment for that degradation.

Cultures that have become totally depraved such as the world in Noah's day, or the homosexuality that was rampant in Lot's day, are noted by Jesus to indicate that the time of judgment is near. (Luke 17:6, Genesis 6:5, Luke 17:28).

We will see in the near future if things come together quickly or not. I think they will. It seems that the prophetic activity is quickening each day. The Lord is always working so each day actually brings us closer to the Lord's re-appearance. Blessed is He. May His name always be exalted in the highest.

Charles Spurgeon said,

It is idle to talk about looking for His coming if we never set our house in order, and never put ourselves in readiness for His reception.

Are you ready?

Prata's Place / Graceful Garlands: Gradual Growth

My title comes from Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland ...