Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Language of God: drought

God communicates with His people. Isn't that magnificent? He wants to have a relationship with us. God has always used different ways to communicate with man. He wants us to know Him, His expectations of us, His love and His reproof.

In the Garden, He would walk in the cool of the day. (Gen 3:8). With Moses He spoke face to face. (Exodus 33:11). Or through a bush! (Exodus 3:1).

He spoke to the the prophets (Jeremiah 36:2). In this way He sent the Law and then later He sent the Spirit to inspire the words of the bible, written down by the chosen apostles and disciples. (1 Corinthians 2:12-13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). He sent angels with messages (Acts 8:26; Luke 2:9). He speaks to us through discipline (Hebrews 12:5-11) and trials (1 Peter 1:6-7). Sometimes He even uses a donkey (Numbers 2:28).

He uses symbols. "And God said to Noah: I will make a covenant with you. Never again will all men die because of a flood. This is my token to remind you of my promise. I will set a rainbow in the sky." (Genesis 9:11-17). Bread is a symbol of Jesus' life sustaining eternal truth. "And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life..." (John 6:35)

If you think about the myriad ways God speaks to us, it is amazing. There is another way He speaks, and like all the other ways, He uses vocabulary. For example, if you hadn't read the bible you would not know that God is speaking to us when He sends a rainbow. This next language He uses to speak to us is through 'natural' events. Earthquake, fire, hail, thunder, drought...are all ways God sends His people His word and expresses His will.

God is the creator of the earth and all the universe. (Psalm 24:1). He can and does use anything in it to get His point across. In Revelation we see 100 pound hailstones, a sun that turns up the heat, earthquakes, and at one point, no rain for three and a half years. (Revelation 11:6).

Remember that everything that happens on the earth, God either indirectly allows to happen, or directly causes to happen. Allows, or causes. That's it. When people mock the notion that a particular natural disaster event was due to God, they are wrong. We don't always know the reason behind the event's occurrence but because God is sovereign, He either caused it or allowed it. Here is God causing an event:

"Then the LORD's anger will burn against you, and he will shut the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the LORD is giving you." (Deuteronomy 11:1)

Here is God allowing an event. Satan had come to God and asked to harass Job. God said OK, but do not kill him. The great wind that came and killed Job's sons and daughters is one of the events that God allowed to happen:

"While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house, and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” (Job 1:18-19).

Let's focus on drought as one of God's vocabulary words. Drought is not a sudden cataclysmic event like an earthquake. It takes a long time to happen and its build-up is more creeping than instant. That is what makes it even more amazing. Only God who knows the end from the beginning, knows how to start a drought years prior and allow its progression to increase to the point of pain just at the moment the people need to be pricked. That is the heavenly dynamic. This article from NASA explains the earthly dynamic,

"While much of the weather that we experience is brief and short-lived, drought is a more gradual phenomenon, slowly taking hold of an area and tightening its grip with time. In severe cases, drought can last for many years, and can have devastating effects on agriculture and water supplies. ... In general, drought is defined as an extended period–a season, a year, or several years–of deficient rainfall relative to the statistical multi-year average for a region."

Australia is susceptible to droughts-- "Why are droughts dangerous? When there is a drought, there is less water available for growing crops, farming animals, industry and our cities. Droughts also impact the environment by causing erosion, harm animals by destroying their homes and cause people to pay more for food and affect our water supplies. Droughts are hard to predict and also hard to live with." (Source)

Places in Africa are in a terrible drought. "Two of Africa's impoverished drylands - the Horn of Africa in the East and the Sahel in the West - have experienced devastating droughts and famines in the past two years: the rains never came, causing many thousands to perish, while millions face life-threatening hunger."

The United States of America is in a terrible drought right now.

Corn prices hit record as crops shrivel
"Corn prices surged to a new record high Tuesday, as the worst drought in more than 50 years continues to plague more than half the country. Almost 90% of the United States' corn crops are in drought ravaged areas, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and nearly 40% are situated in the hardest hit spots. Corn prices have soared more than 50% during the past six weeks as the crops continue to shrivel in relentless dry heat throughout the Midwest."

 Worst U.S. Drought in 50 Years to Raise Food Prices in 2013
"We’re expecting another year of tough food prices, bad news for consumers,” said USDA food economist Richard Volpe. “The difference between normal and higher than normal in this case is one hundred percent attributable to the drought,” Volpe said. The food price index data is released by USDA each month; it is a set of numbers that indicates how much an average shopper is likely to pay at the supermarket. ... More than 60 percent of America’s farms are located in areas experiencing drought. Two thirds of all crops and two thirds of livestock are produced in areas experiencing at least moderate drought."
The dry section of the Morse Reservoir, one of three reservoirs which supply water to nearby Indianapolis, in Cicero, Indiana,on July 12, 2012. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

This next verse is a direct example of how He uses the language of drought to squeeze His people and warn them they need to repent-

"When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place." (2 Chronicles 7:13)

God is telling us a few things here. First, He controls the heavens and allows or disallows rain. Second, when God shuts up heaven and prevents rain it is because they have turned their faces away from Him. Third, He makes a promise, if they repent and turn their faces toward Him, He will re-open heaven. What a blessing! God is holy- He hates sin. God is kind, He warns His people.

In this next biblical example, God is telling us that His decision to send drought or rain is extremely precise. He is very much in control.

“I also withheld the rain from you when there were yet three months to the harvest; I would send rain on one city, and send no rain on another city; one field would have rain, and the field on which it did not rain would wither;" (Amos 4:7).

Annie Vallotton Amos 4:7 illustration Good News Bible
"Still you did not come back to Me"

Most of America, and part of Africa and Australia are without water. At the same this time China and Japan and North Korea have endured torrential rains in just these last weeks.

Yesterday- Torrential rains hit China's arid northwest
"The heaviest downpours in six decades have hit Yinchuan, capital of northwest China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region, since Sunday, authorities said.Precipitation from 8 a.m. Sunday to 8 a.m. Monday in the city proper exceeded 100 mm, or half of the average annual precipitation in the city, according to the city's flood control and drought relief headquarters."

Credit AP, from Salon.com
 God either directly causes or indirectly allows each thing to happen on this earth and in heaven. Every drop of rain is noted by Him. Each arid seed blowing down a Kansas drought-stricken path is seen by Him. God speaks to us in many ways, praise His name! One way is through what the secular world calls 'natural disasters'...but I call it the loving Hand of an angry God who seeks to turn His rebellious children from their ways. It's all in the vocabulary. And the dictionary to understand this language is the bible.

600M without power in India, shark attack, Colosseum is tilting

Some news I thought was interesting

Colosseum in Rome is leaning, officials say
"Experts say ancient building has started to tilt, with south side 40cm [15inches] lower than north, and may need urgent repairs. The ancient Colosseum in Rome is slanting about 40cm lower on the south side than on the north, and authorities are investigating whether it needs urgent repairs. Experts first noticed the incline about a year ago and have been monitoring it for the past few months, Rossella Rea, director at the 2,000-year-old monument, said in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera."

Before I was saved, I went to Italy. One of those times I visited the Colosseum. I wrote about that visit here. For a short while immediately after I was saved, in reading the passages in Revelation and Peter and Isaiah where the earth will be completely deconstructed and remade, I was sad that all the pretty things would be swept away too. All the "great art", all the "monuments to man" like the Colosseum or Pyramids. But of course all those were made by sinful man's hands and many of them, particularly in art, are odes to false gods. (Botticelli's Primavera for example). As I matured I began to see man's works for what they were, symbols of debauchery against a holy God amid our history across human epochs. The Colosseum will fall. Now or later, it is guaranteed to be swept away in the calamity of judgment imminently bearing down on us. Let's start seeing these cracked and tottering monuments of rebellion for what they are- and get used to thinking about the glories ahead made by Jesus's hands. (John 14:3).

600 million without power as massive blackout plagues India
"India’s northern and eastern power grids have failed, plunging half the country into darkness. It is the second consecutive day in which blackouts struck India. ... Hundreds of miners are reported to have been trapped in Burdwan, North of Kolkata following the outages. "We are trying to rescue the coal miners. All efforts are on to resume power supplies. You need power supplies to run the lifts in the underground mines," Mamata Banerjee told reporters in the state capital Kolkata. ... Power is also being channeled into the subway to help get stranded passengers to the nearest station. The subway has been partially restored after coming to a grinding halt when the power cut struck. ... A grid failure in Delhi and much of northern India left more than 300 million without electricity on Monday. This was one of the worst power outages to hit the country in more than a decade."

600 million is twice the population of the entire US. Those in the dark today represent about 60% of the entire nation of India, which has 1.2 billion people. Wow.

The spiritual metaphor that sprang to my mind was the light versus the dark. India is the birthplace of four of the world's major religious traditions; namely Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. According to 2001 census as Wikipedia reports, 80% of those 1.2 billion people in India are Hindu. Again according to Wiki, only 2% of those in India are Christian. Now they are in the dark physically. The nation is in the dark, spiritually. Even if the Electrical Power Minister organizes the crews to get the lights back on, those people will still be in the dark.
Man Hospitalized After Shark Attack Near Cape Cod
"The man bitten by a shark as he body-surfed with his teenage son off the coast of Ballston Beach near Cape Cod, [Truro] Mass., is expected to live, officials said. The attack happened around 3:30 p.m. Monday when Chris Myers, a father of two, was pulled under the water by a shark. Police say the shark bit Myers in both legs below the knees in possibly one single, crushing blow. “They dragged him out and they had to carry him up here and they had to wrap it around his legs and he was bleeding through the gauzes,” a witness said. “It was bad. Both his legs were pretty bad.”"

Shark attacks this time of year in Massachusetts are not unusual. Seals come to feed, and they come pretty close to shore. Sharks prey on seals so it's natural they would be close to shore as well.

I visited Martha's Vineyard in 1975, crossing from RI to the Island on a friend's trawler. That is where Jaws was filmed. Some of the filming apparatus was still around. The movie was just out but the kids I was traveling with nor the parents seemed concerned about swimming in the harbor. I remember the older teenage boys jumping from the flybridge into the sea, plunging down deep under the slate gray surface. Shudder. Not me. Too spooky

I have mentioned before that I also lived on a sailboat for a while. On our first day in the blue Bahamian waters, just after crossing from Florida, we swam and swam, delighting in the fact that we could see the bottom. The water was that clear. In the Atlantic you never see the bottom unless you snorkel close to shore. "What's under there?" was a question that had held endless fascination for us and now we could actually see! We swam further and further, trailing along the anchor line that extended far in front of the yacht. Finally as the sun set we called it quits and climbed back aboard. Our VHF radio crackled on and the buddy boat we had crossed the Gulf Stream with told us some important information. "Never swim at dusk. The sharks come out to feed. In the ocean, you are at the bottom of the food chain."

The ocean can be, and often is, a hostile environment even for man who has been given to reign supreme over the animals. On dry land, we are on hostile territory too- spiritually. Satan is the god of this world, according to 2 Corinthians 4:4. When Satan tempted Jesus, he offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would just worship Satan. (Matthew 4:8-9). Jesus did not refute that satan had the ability to make the offer. Though under God's sovereign control, satan has been given latitude on this earth to roam freely and to devour whom he will. (John 10:10; 1 Peter 5:8).

If you are not saved, you are at the bottom of the food chain. Satan comes at you sneakily. Satan will chomp your legs just as fast as that shark did to that man in Cape Cod. If you are saved, Jesus has lifted you from the bottom of the food chain to the top! However, satan will still try to come at you, like Chihuahua nipping at your heels. If you do not resist him, he brings other Chihuahua dogs to harass you, or God may even cause him to dog you (2 Corinthians 12:7) for your own good. Always remember we're on hostile territory- enemy territory. It is what is going to make reaching heaven through death or rapture such a relief. We'll finally be in friendly lands, not a stranger any more but home with the Father and our spiritual family.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Pray ceaselessly

We always pray for the weak and the hurting. That is good. But please also pray for the strong, whom the weak lean on and don't usually ask to be prayed for. As more people hurt, more people go to the strong. In other words, let's all pray for each other.

"Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints," (Ephesians 6:18)

Repent, the end is near. Here is the Gospel, may it save your souls

My dear friends, internet acquaintances, and family,

One of these days soon I am going to be whisked to heaven alive, transformed from corruptible flesh into glorified, eternally pure flesh, to live with Jesus forever in heaven. My pleasure and treasure will be that I dwell with Him who sacrificed Himself for me in the universe's ultimate and most majestic act of love ever. His name is Jesus. Everyone who ever lived for Jesus through repentance and claiming His Lordly blood as the covering for their sins will be there too.

I'm looking forward to talking with Deborah, Rahab, Jael, Huldah, David, Abraham, the Ethiopian Eunuch who won't be a eunuch any more so we can't call him that (Sir, what is your name? Nice to meet you!). Philip, Stephen, Paul, Jeremiah...all the ones known and unknown to me will be there. (1 Corinthians 13:12).

I shall see His truths plainly and with no distortion of flesh or depraved mind. I will get to meet you my readers and friends, who I only know through a keyboard. I'll speak to pastors who have gone on already Charles Spurgeon, John Owen, John Huss, Martin Luther, Tyndale, Whitefield... I can say thank you to the pastors I listen to today, Pastor John MacArthur, Steve Hadley, Paul Washer, Steve Lawson, Phil Johnson, JD Farag, Don Green.

I will be able to rest.

I will have eternal relief from sinning against Jesus.

This event which all born again believers are looking forward to is the rapture. It could happen at any moment. It has always been imminent, so how much more imminent is it today than 2000 years ago? I truly believe with all my heart that we are on the cusp of it happening any day. Any day. I really believe that.

So dear friend, one day, this blog will become stale. You will hear no more from me. My facebook page will have that last update..and that will be it. I could be taken from the shower, with the water permanently running. It could happen when I am cooking, and the burned food starts a fire in my apartment. It could be at midnight, and the bed clothes will be in the last position I had slept in. It could happen at school, with the unsaved and deluded who thought they were saved running up and down the hallways looking for all the children and many of the staff.

When it happens, and you come to this blog that I have faithfully updated each day for 1,340 days in a row for a total of 1,665 times, and it has not been updated, you will know I was part of that group of people across the world who disappeared.

Do not be fooled by the government's excuses for where we all went. We were not the troublemakers taken away so the rest of humanity could improve. We were not removed by aliens into their spaceships. A radon electro wave did not overpower us. Do not believe the lie! It will be God who will take us thereby proving once again that everything in the bible is true. Any explanation besides that will be a lie.

You will know that I am in heaven with a multitude of other believers rejoicing along with the holy angels of Jesus and praising His perfect love for humanity. We will be singing accolades of worship for our Holy God who created us. We will be praising the Holy Spirit who enabled the power of salvation. Do not worry for me nor wonder. I will be more than all right for all eternity.

But you won't be. And that is my worry and fear. I claimed the blood of Jesus through repentance to obtain the prize. You will be shedding your own blood when a horrific series of judgments rains down upon your sinful self.

You can be in heaven with Jesus! I hope you are! You must recognize that your sins are a rejection of a Holy God who created you. Your sins prevent you from being with Him and has earned you His eternal wrath. Hell is not just a place separate from God, it is the place where He rains down His eternal anger on you because of your sins. But if you are sorry, and ask Jesus to forgive you, recognizing He laid down His life to take God's eternal wrath and that His resurrection satisfied God as the sacrifice for your sins, you can be in the group that is bodily lifted into heaven.

Paul wrote in the bible: "Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel that I preached to you, that you received and on which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received—that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve..." (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

I have just shared the Gospel with you. It is of first importance. It is Good News! You do not have to stay on earth during the wrathful judgments to come and you do not have to spend eternity in hell in agony of the fiery flames! Isn't that good news?! You can be with Jesus and with us, His Bride.

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)

Learn how to be saved:

Jesus Saves

What is the plan of salvation?

How to become a Christian

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2)

Another Haboob/Arizona dust storm: 6th this year

A few days ago there was a monster dust storm in Arizona. Every time this happens, people post photos and remark on the apocalyptic-looking nature of the storm. The are impressive to be sure.

So I got curious as to how normal or abnormal these storms are. I wrote about it here, and offered the reader quantifiable data with links. The result of my inquiry was that these dust storms are normal. The geographic layout of the area relative to the jet stream and temps on the ground produce them as a normal course of summer storm- to a limit.

What else I discovered was that the haboobs as they are known in Arabic are that they usually produce little damage, last a short time, don't reach incredible heights of altitude, and are numbered in the average range of two to three per season. I repeat, the usual number of them in a summer season (June-Sept) is 2 to 3.

2012 has already produced six. May 9, June 26, June 27, and July 21, July 23, and July 30

In addition, the first storm fell outside the average season (May), several of them have produced lots of damage, and one reached altitudes that are not usual for these storms. That, my friends, is NOT normal.

So when you read about yet another dust storm in Arizona and you hear the meteorologists saying "Aw, nothing to see here, they're normal,' now you have the rest of the secular story.

What is the spiritual story? God uses drought when a people have turned their backs on Him. Plain and simple. Let's look at the bible.

"When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:13-14).

God is telling us a few things here. First, He controls the heavens and allows or disallows rain. Second, When God shuts up heaven and prevents rain it is because they have turned their faces away from Him. Third, He makes a promise, if they repent and turn their faces toward Him, He will re-open heaven. What a blessing! God is holy- He hates sin. God is kind, He is warning us (the US, and other places with drought, like Australia).

People will say that we cannot make a correlation between a dust storm in Arizona and the fact that God is unhappy with an entire nation of people. If it was one storm, once, you would be right. However the body of evidence tells us something different when comparing with the bible. By this stage of the Church Age, looking at the numbers of storms, the other locations experiencing the droughts and storms, the Chick-fil-A flap, the demonic symbolism at the opening of the Olympics, the refusal to state that Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel, the rising anti-semitism, violence, and homosexuality, plus the totality of blasphemy against God in this world, we can most definitely say, it is GOD. How can a person say it is not God?

Will we heed the warnings? REPENT!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Philip whisked away from the Eunuch

I'm reading through the book of Acts. What an incredible first few years our forefathers in the faith had! What an amazing ministry of the Holy Spirit! I'm so humbled by the mighty acts, the Holy Spirit's wisdom and purity, and the consistency with which they always proclaimed Christ crucified as the Good News to all the world. What a foundation we have in Him!

Of course, I have rapture on my mind every second, lol. I'm reading about Philip, the first missionary and evangelist. He was raptured. Not snatched up to heaven, but snatched away to another city by supernatural means. In the verse below, we see him in the city of Samaria.

"Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city." (Acts 8:4-8)

A few verses later, we read,

"Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place." (Acts 8:26).

Gaza was far. I haven't been able to get miles or kilometer directions specifically. In using the scale, it seems to be about 60 miles as an estimate. A long walk. While at Gaza, Philip met the Ethiopian eunuch. Philip began to preach the Good News to him--

"And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea." (Acts 8: 36-40). Above, Alexandre-Denis Abel de Pujol: "Philip baptising the Eunuch of the Queen of Ethiopia on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza," 1848

I love how the Spirit phrased that, "Philip found himself..."

Can you imagine Philip's surprise? Here he is talking with the Eunuch, dipped him in the water, and as they arise before the drops were off them both, Philip vanished! And I am sure it was the blink of an eye and he found himself in a totally different city! Azotus, I believe, is today's Ashdod, about 20 miles north of Gaza.

Were his clothes still wet? Did he say, "Hey! What happened? Where am I?" Was he deposited along the side of the road and had to ask a passerby, maybe a guy with his goats or his burro, "Excuse me sir, can you tell me where I am?" LOL, how disorienting.

Remember all these bible guys were real men and women. The 'greats' like Abraham and Moses, to the barely mentioned like the Eunuch, had supernatural things happen. How difficult it must have been to process it all.

People tend to think that in the New Testament times that supernatural things happened constantly. They didn't. Not even in the Old Testament times did supernatural things happen constantly. Until Jesus came, no miracle, sign, or supernatural event had occurred for at least 400 years. Many, many generations. Even John the Baptist, as fierce as he was, never did a miracle. When Jesus began his miracles people were astonished partly because His miracles were such standout events. No one had seen the likes of it ever before. The learned few had only read about them in the ancient scrolls.

So Philip is suddenly whisked away to a new city. Was he thinking, "Gee, if the Spirit could whisk me 20 miles from Gaza to Ashdod, why did I have to walk the 120 from Samaria to Gaza in the first place?' I don't mean to be flip about it, but I am always remembering these were regular guys, so they thought regular thoughts. Left, Philip taken away, Johann Christoph Weigel, 1695

Did the person Philip asked where he was think Philip was a nut? Did Philip even ask? Maybe he recognized the place. What did he do then? The bible says he went on his way to Caesarea, preaching all the way. MacArthur's commentary says Caesarea is probably where Philip lived. It is 60 miles from Ashdod.

In just a very few verses the Spirit reveals:

--supernatural powers to work God's plan at will
--rejoicing in receiving the Good News
--obedience from both the Eunuch and Philip to the Spirit's prompting
--the joy of reading the word and the necessity for teachers to explain it
--an angel
--another soul whom we will meet in heaven: the Eunuch. We will finally learn his name.
--God's mercy in convicting those who love Him to receive His Spirit unto salvation
--the importance of prompt obedience in evangelism and missions

I'm sure you can find much more than I can  in those verses too. His treasures are inexhaustible.

When we are raptured I know we will not have any questions. He will call for us with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and suddenly our minds will be glorified and we will know exactly where we are going and where we are, and why. We will be part of that group whisked away to heaven because of our repentance we stand on the holy and blood soaked ground of Jesus that He shed to be the atoning propitiation for our sins. He is the only reason we will be part of that group.

Jesus saves! Read the bible, it is worth looking at every jot and tittle. Have a blessed day in the Lord, and if you're not in the Lord, why not? It's great!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Linkapalooza: black widow spiders invade NY, woman dies at McD's counter but they keep serving burgers, snake massages

Satan, that old serpent... (Genesis 3:1). He finds ways to make himself not only acceptable, but an integral part of our lives, even when naked!!!
Russia spas offer "snake massage" A Moscow spa uses snakes as part of its exotic massage service.
Love waxes cold: (Matthew 24:12)
Horror as woman drops dead at counter of McDonald's... and staff 'keep on serving burgers'
This next  verse is not in force yet, it is still future. It shows how God is constricting the world economy to prepare for the prophesied scarcity during the Tribulation and will eventually bring the antichrist's solutions to out, which the world will accept.

"And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore," (Revelation 18:11).
Orders For Chinese Ships Have Collapsed
Chinese shipbuilders secured 182 orders in the first six months of the year, down from 561 orders a year ago, according to Want China Times.
Spain unemployment hits new high
At about 25 per cent, it is highest jobless rate in industrialised world, with young people particularly affected, at about 50%".
Isaiah 17:1, "Damascus will be destroyed"...The situation in Syria is only worsening.
Poland closes its embassy in Syria
"Poland has closed its embassy in Syria and evacuated its diplomats because of the deteriorating security situation in Damascus. The embassy had also representing U.S. interests in the country in recent months."
'Deep alarm' over Aleppo fighting
"The battle is one of the most important of the 17-month-old uprising. With a population of about three million, Aleppo is Syria's largest city and commercial hub, a key pillar of support for president Bashar Assad's regime. "
"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality," (1 Corinthians 6:9)

As a side note, the LGBT people who plan this hunger strike are certainly committed. Are Christians as committed to God's agenda as satan is to his own agenda? This is an example of how relentless satan is. 
LGBT 'community' planning 100 day hunger strike
"Prominent members of Michigan's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are joining forces for a 100-day hunger strike to promote equal rights. David Garcia, executive director of Affirmations in Ferndale, said the hunger strike is aimed at educating their "straight allies about the extreme anti-equality environment" in Michigan. The campaign will target specific legislators and legislation. Garcia will begin the hunger strike Monday by going without food for 24 hours. Leaders from seven other Michigan centers -- representing LGBT communities in Kalamazoo, Benton Harbor, Detroit, Midland, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor -- will take 24-hour food-free shifts at Affirmations. During the hunger strike, leaders will be visible from a large window facing 9 Mile in downtown Ferndale."
The 'natural world' is increasingly askew. We've seen this in weather, and also in the weird animal attacks. Here is a weird one for you. Poor New York City. First it was bedbugs. Now it's Black Widow spiders.

"So are the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite's hope shall perish: Whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust shall be a spider's web." (Job 8:13-14)
BAD TOURISTS! Black widow spiders INVADING New York
"Black widow spiders have crawled to New York in droves this summer. Though usually rare in the Tri-State area, some exterminators say they’ve arrived in the big apple, like so many tourists, looking to go on a spree. In their case, that means the venomous arachnids will be splurging - preying - on the city’s increased insect population."
God created insects. Look how beautiful!!!
"Genesis 1:24-25 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good."

Under the weather: Stunning pictures reveal how the insect world copes during a downpour

More photos at link.

So that is the weekend Linkapalooza for ya! Remember, Jesus's Bride is glowing, unbesmirched, sanctified, and ready for His call.

God's Four Sore Judgments #4: Beasts

God’s Four Sore Judgments #1: Sword
God’s Four Sore Judgments #2: Famine
God's Four Sore Judgments #3: Pestilence

The other day I introduced a series examining the LORD'S "Four Sore Judgments." (Links just above). In other translations they are called the "LORD'S Four Severe Judgments." They're mentioned in Ezekiel 14:21: "For thus says the Lord God: How much more when I send upon Jerusalem my four disastrous acts of judgment, sword, famine, wild beasts, and pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast!"

The four are Sword, Famine, Pestilence, and Beasts. Wesley's notes says, "How much more - If they could not be able to keep off one of the four, how much less would they be able to keep off all four, when I commission them all to go at once."

It is a very dread situation when all four are unleashed. If you read Revelation 6, you will see that the four are unleashed all at once, or in very rapid succession. Jesus called it the worst time on earth there ever has been or ever will be. (Matthew 24:21; also Rev 6).

We looked at the correlation between Sword (war), famine, and disease. Now we will take a look at the biblical judgment of Beasts.

Vision of Death, Gustave Dore, 1865
"When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth." (Revelation 6:7-8)

The Greek word for "beasts" is just that, the generic term always used for 'wild animal.' I've written about Death by Beasts before, here.

While we have always had war, famines and epidemic diseases, death by beasts is more unusual. Let's look at man's relationship to beasts since the beginning, through the flood to afterwards up through the Tribulation and ending at the Millennium.

When Adam was created, one of the jobs God gave him to do is name all the beasts of the earth. (Genesis 2:19-20). At that time before the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden, the beasts were friendly and herbivorous. (Genesis 1:29-30). Man was still sovereign over them, but it was not a bloody relationship.

After the fall, they became meat for humans. The Flood came. After the flood waters receded, the relationship between man and beasts changed once again. God put the fear and dread of man into them. (Genesis 9:2).

In the Millennium kingdom, He will reverse that curse and all will be reverted back to the original state of peaceful co-existence. Children can put their hand into a snake's hole and not be bitten. The wolf will lay down with lamb, and the lion shall be tame. (Isaiah 11:6-9).

 Elisha and the boys in Bethel,
Matthaeus Merian the Elder, 1625
But before that, between the receded Flood waters and the peace of the Millennium, it seems that there will come another change of the relationship between man and beast, though this once is more implicit rather than stated. It will occur in the Tribulation. It seems that in the Tribulation, the Lord will (perhaps) have removed the fear and dread of man from the wild animals. I can't point to a specific scripture that tells this explicitly, but implicitly I gather than the progression of man's relationship with beasts changes from a contentious one as it is now, but with their fear removed. If a quarter of the world dies by the aforementioned plagues and one of them is beasts, it seems that there will be a lot of hunting going on- and not just man upon beast, but beast upon man.

Today, if a beast does become a "man-killer" it has to be killed. God said in Genesis 9:5 that even from the beasts he will require capital punishment. In Exodus 21:28 we read that if an ox gores a man the animal is to be killed and its flesh not eaten. But if the animal is previously in the habit of goring and the owner is warned, and the animals kills a man or woman, then the animal AND the owner are to be killed. (Exodus 21:29)

Did you ever wonder why the animals that could do us the most harm don't simply hunt us down and eat us, like, all the time? But they don't. When I was in Big Bend National Park in SW Texas, hiking in the Chisos Mountains, Rangers told us if we come upon a mountain lion to stand tall, and throw stones at it. The lion would leave us alone. LOL, I'm glad we never had to test that, but the methodology is that the lion would see you as a bigger threat and leave.

Even today if a wild animal kills a man, the Rangers, or zookeepers, or whoever, usually kills that animal. In most cases the Ranger is not responding explicitly to God's instructions laid down in Exodus 21, but they instinctively are. If an animals kills a person, it means they have lost the fear and dread and is all the more dangerous to humans.

In the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend a couple of months ago, the Austin newspaper reported, there had been a mountain lion attack. The people chased it off by throwing a backpack at it. However, the report made this particular family who camped there the day after the attack hyper-aware. They decided to stay in the lodge instead of the tent, and when they went to the restaurant for dinner from the lodge room, they held their child's hand, one parent on either side. They walked on the lit walkway between the two populated buildings. However, the lion attacked the boy anyway, dragging him away from his parents to a nearby bush. The parents then attacked the lion! The boy is chewed up a little, but he is OK. Rangers said it was highly unusual for a mountain lion to attack on the pavement between populated buildings. If the animal was caught, they said, it would be killed. Above, me in the Chisos Mountains 17 years ago.

War brings famine to animals, too. Their natural habitats are disrupted, and food gets hard to find. The stress often leaves them no choice but to start looking at humans as food, and attacks increase. That would seem to be a normal outcome of the other sore judgment: famine.

John MacArthur preached on the Revelation 6:7-8 verse here. He preached in part-

"...The most deadly creature on the face of the earth? Not a snake, not a lion, not an alligator. A rat. Historically the deadliest creature on the face of the earth. Why? Rats are annually responsible for the loss of billions of dollars of food in America alone and death all over the world. Rats infested with Bubonic Plague killed one third of the population of Europe in the fourteenth century, that's Encyclopedia Americana's own figure. Rats can carry as many as thirty-five diseases at once and amazingly if ninety-five percent of the rat population is exterminated in the given area, it will replace itself in less than a year. It has killed more people than all the wars of history and it always makes its home where men dwell."

Death by rats is certainly a likely possibility. More than likely, given the history cited above which bears this out.

Remember "Snowpocalypse" of winter 2011? Cities all along the US Eastern seaboard were inundated with snow. Mountains of it fell, stilling whole cities like NY for days. As a result of the paralysis, garbage piled up. People still generated trash, but the streets were too clogged for garbage trucks to make their way on their routes. And the landfills and parking lots of the garbage scows were too full of snow to unload the garbage anyway, even if it was picked up.

The following article reports on that situation in February 2011: "A suicidal man plummeted nine stories and survived in midtown Sunday when he landed on a mountain of trash that had piled up since last week's blizzard, officials said."

Look how much garbage there is left over from a week later...

Trash did pile up to shoulder heights. On January 6, 2011, Letterman on The Late Show was more graphic about the rat situation:

"New York's just beginning to dig out of the garbage backlog from the Dec. 27 snowstorm. Two kids, all bundled up, are building a garbage man outside. I hope they've had all their vaccinations! And with so much garbage, the rats are crazy. And I don't want to alarm you, but honest to God, we're knee deep in rats now with the garbage. Fortunately the city has hired an additional cat."

You can imagine the rats bringing a killing disease after the catastrophic events of Revelation 6 that are prophesied to occur before the Fourth Seal is opened. So, death by beasts could be the plagues that rats bring.

But I think it is more that that.

I've been noticing over the last two years particularly that wild animals have been acting strangely.

Shark attacks are up. This summer Myrtle Beach SC has struggled with an unusual number of shark bites upon people who were not far offshore at all. There was a spate of weird fox attacks in Britain a while back. Foxes entered homes to attack babies. In April 2012, a ferret jumped into a baby's stroller and attacked her, the Daily Mail reports. It it took two firefighters 25 minutes to fight it off! Reports of a monkey stealing a baby from the living room. There is no fear of humans inside an animal when it boldly enters a dwelling where humans are present!

Moreover, these are not isolated incidents. Incidents like these are occurring every day in a number of animals, in highly populated areas. Remember the fisher sightings spike in Boston? The bear that entered a well-populated, campfire-lit campground and dragged a girl by her head? The mountain lion stalking and prowling at the Denver bus terminal? The 40-ton whale that leaped onto a passing yacht, snapping its mast? All within the last couple of years and all stated to be unusual for that local area. Just today, NY Daily News reports that black widow spiders are invading NY. The exterminators say Black Widows in NY are rare.

As with any sign or symptom of the culture, ONE event does not mean Tribulation is imminent. But I detect a pattern. Animal attacks are up. Second, the attacks were unusual (no rabies, populated areas, never before happened in that location, the time of day, etc). I mean, we can rule out the rabies-incited attacks, and all attacks that were warranted (like the guy who climbed into spider monkey enclosure to play with them and got mauled). Last, the attacks perplex the scientists. Usually the scientists will say that habitat stresses cause the animal to behave in unusual ways, which is certainly true.

So when you have a pattern of non-rabies attacks occurring inside homes where humans dwell, brazen attacks that happen out of the blue with no provocation, happening increasingly over several years, not anomalies, then I think it is safe to say that perhaps God is lifting His hand and the fear and dread of man in the animals is decreasing.

Back to the four sore judgments. Yes, each one is bad enough, but how bad will it be when all four are unleashed at once? Terrible! Fortunately in His mercy, He made a way for His beloved sheep to escape all these things. SALVATION in the Church Age, AKA Age of Grace. Judgments in the Tribulation will be delivered "to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity..." as Daniel hears in his vision in chapter 9, verse 24. He learns why the LORD will send the Tribulation judgments: to finish allowing sin to complete itself.

We are sinners, whose rightful place is hell after death, to be punished for our sin-crimes against God. If we ask the Lord to forgive those sins before our death, understanding Him as Lord and Savior, who came to earth to live the sinless life so He could be the perfect atonement, slain for our iniquities, and was accepted by God of that sacrifice and brought out of death to eternal life, then we will not be in the Tribulation when the whole earth will be judged for their sins. Our sins will have been pardoned, so He will sweep us up to heaven in our glorified bodies and allow us to be in His presence forever!!!

Do not put off your repentance. Intending to repent still means you are still as much an enemy of God as the fist-shaking atheist. Alternately, believe this:

How much better will it be when He calls His sheep home to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in perfect New Jerusalem by the living waters and the street of gold?!! Don't you want to be there, your sins pardoned and forgotten? Putting off repenting means you choose the Four Sore Judgments. How? If you are not for Him, you are against Him. (Matthew 12:30). Personally, I have found a multitude of peace and blessings in living FOR Him. I hope you will think about it. But not for too long... OK?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Derechos in NY and satan in Times Square

When you live a holy life and allow the Spirit to lead you, He grows you incrementally in Christlikeness. That means you're more pure today than yesterday. You seek holiness more today than you sought sin last week. It means your eyes will desire to see the noble things and not the base things.

I strive to maintain a strict filter of what goes into my mind. I don't watch movies often, I don't like secular books, I put in a strict limit on my web searches, and I watch only a few television shows. Satan has done a great job of saturating the media with profanity, blasphemy, nudity, homosexuality, and every other thing you can imagine that God hates.

Never was that more apparent to me than today. I am not saying I am SO holy. I have a long way to go. But I am only remarking on the benchmark that was put under my nose today and I was struck by the force of it. In looking at The Weather Channel's pictures of the looming storms that are due to arrive in NY any moment, I was wowed by satan's presence there:

If you enlarge the picture it gets even more dramatically obvious. Sex, money, nudity, sex with ghosts and more sex.

I'm not naive. I know that there are a plethora of posters and advertisements out there that are doing a good job promoting satan's works of darkness. What I am remarking on is that this is the first time in years that I saw any photo of Times Square with its blatant demonic trade, and it sucker-punched me in the stomach. The instant I saw it, it was like a physical blow. THAT is sanctification, and THAT is the boast: I'm boasting on the Holy Spirit's work which today showed me a benchmark of the progress He has wrought in me, Jesus's new creature.

I had looked up the photo from a link on The Weather Channel, but now I see it in quite a different dimension. Rather than seeing it simply as a snapshot of an oncoming weather system, it seems to me for all the world to be God's looming judgment over sin.

Update on Syria: more on bio-weaponry, and why Aleppo is important

Watchmen have been keeping their eyes peeled in watching the events unfold in Syria this last year. The uprising by insurgents/rebels has been going on since at least April 2011 and is getting more violent every day. They are trying to topple "President" Bashar al Assad, who has been in rule there since his father died in 2000. [I put "president" in scare quotes because Assad ran unopposed both times]. His father Hafez al-Assad ruled Syria for 29 years until his death in 2000. (Left, President Assad, Wiki commons photo)

In the last few weeks the rebels have pitched their battles more pointedly and more violently. Largely over the last year, Damascenes have felt safe from the fighting that until then had been contained in the outlying governates. But last week the rebels brought the battle straight to the residential areas of the city, to the courthouses and interior halls of power. The rebels call this latest push against the regime, "Operation Damascus Volcano."

The reality of violence in Syria - car bombing in Damascus. Photo by AP
photo published in Israeli Daily, Haaretz

Now the battle is in Damascus too. Just last week in Damascus, three members of Assad's inner circle were killed, tanks rolled, rockets flared, refugees fled, and the rebels gained unprecedented ground. Turkey closed its border to Syria (to commerce, not refugees). Jordan tightened its border with Syria. Israel expects trouble with Syria. Trouble of the chemical kind, that is.

Israelis lining up to get gas masks, source
One of the main concerns as the battle rages in Damascus, not only that it is in unprecedented geographical territory and is taking place in the capital city itself, is that some of Syria's chemical and bio-weapon labs are located there. Knowing this, Israel's distribution of gas masks is going through the roof.

I've mentioned a remarkable article/interview in the New English Review with Dr. Jill Dekker, conducted in December 2007. I discovered it in 2009. The interview was conducted to gather "answers and professional views on how extensive the Syrian bio-warfare threat is, we turned to Dr. Jill Dekker, a consultant to the NATO Defense Establishment in bio-warfare and counter terrorism. Dr. Dekker is also a member of the board of advisors of the Intelligence Summit."

I had noted several times over the years from having learned in the New English Review article, that the chemical and bio-weaponry labs in Damascus are sophisticated and that Syrian top level officials have already determined that they will use them as conventional weapons. That is one of the main points Dr Dekker wanted to make. The Syrians know they do not have the money or capability to maintain parity with the West on conventional weapon production, so in 2007 they decided to load bio and chemicals onto the weapons they do have and use them instead, and concentrate on producing viruses and anthrax instead of thousands of missiles. She noted this was an important psychological turning point in the arms race between the West and the terrorist regimes behind Syria (such as Iran and Hezbollah). She said then that the West should be very, very concerned.

Why? "The Syrians work on most Category A pathogens: anthrax, plague, tularemia, botulinium, smallpox, aflotoxin, cholera, ricin, camelpox... Syria has extensive expertise in the industrial cultivation of germs and viruses for the civilian production of anthrax. Their pharmaceutical infrastructure is fully integrated with their defense structure. (Dekker, source). Frighteningly,
 "1 gram of crystalline Botulinium is estimated to kill about a million people if it were evenly dispersed." Dekker
Since then, with North Korea, Russia and Iran's help, Syria has diligently worked in their labs in Damascus to produce bio-weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, last week, they stated their willingness to use them if their nation is invaded in any kind of humanitarian attempt to stop the interior carnage.

Here is something interesting: in that New English Review interview, Dr Dekker said, "There have been a number of accidents with their biological weapons programs that have killed civilians in the past in cities like Homs and Aleppo. Some of those programs were ended and it appears that casualties from former bio-programs were related to ventilation problems. This latest accident appears to have occurred while they were mounting a warhead. Syria is known to have a stockpile of chemical weapons and accidents happen. It is interesting to note that Iranian scientists were involved in that activity."

In July 2010 I wrote "Plague hitting Syrian Army?" where the rumor emerging out of the Middle East was that the Syrian army had been hit by a plague. At that time, "The International Society for Infectious Diseases posted a report on Monday alleging that the Syrian military has been hit by a plague. According to the report, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ordered the military to stop all its exercises until the source of the epidemic could be pinpointed."

The page I linked to which reported the possible plague has been taken down now. But you can read a bit more here, and here.

For all prophecy watchers, Damascus squarely in prophetic cross-hairs now. Isaiah 17:1 states that Damascus will be a heap of ruins. We know the other prophecies about wars in the Middle East in and around Jerusalem is that there will be many battles and wars (i.e. Psalm 83, Ezekiel 38-39, etc).

As for today's news, I want to bring attention to something that also relates to the prophtic implications for Isaiah 17:1 in Syria. Dr Dekker said in the New English Review article of the chemical and bio-weaponry labs, "They also have a number of programs running in Aleppo."

CNN reports this morning
Syrian rebels amass as battles for Aleppo, Damascus intensify

click to enlarge
Why is Aleppo so important to the Syrian rebels? Damascus is the capital, therefore claiming the capital incites an important psychological victory. However, Aleppo is the largest and most populated city in Syria. It is also the commercial center, as stated in this video from CNN explaining the city's strategic importance. Aleppo was at the end of the Silk Road, is just across the border from Turkey, and note this- 20% of Aleppo's population is Christian.

With battles raging in Damascus and Aleppo, we know both cities are of strategic military importance to the rebels. The two cities are ALSO home to the two bio and chemical weaponry labs. Now you can understand how the ancient prophetic is playing out before our eyes.

Please pray for the Christians in Aleppo. Pray for the lost. Pray for the times. On that last one, I am conflicted.

I know my brother in Christ Joel C. Rosenberg, a wise and mature man of our faith, has been saying with all biblical fervency to anyone who will listen that we need to pray for a 'Third Great Awakening' or else there is nothing that will stop the implosion of America. I agree that we do need one, and I agree that it is important to pray. Nineveh was saved due their their national repentance. However, America is not the only nation that needs an awakening and sometimes I think we Christians tend to get a little biblically insular about the US. Every nation has Christians living in them and they all need prayer. Every nation has the lost living in them, therefore every nation needs fervent prayer to prevent the hand of God moving to crush them in judgment when that lost nation rebels, as all 195 nations are currently doing.

However, I am conflicted because in my heart of hearts, I truly believe we are enduring the Wrath of God's abandonment and He has given us over. I truly believe we are on the final path away from God and that we have crossed the point of no return.

John MacArthur explains the five kinds of God's wrath: Eschatological wrath, eternal wrath, cataclysmic wrath, sowing and reaping wrath, and there's the wrath of abandonment. And this last one is another category of God's wrath. Separate from the others. The wrath of abandonment follows the progression in Romans 1. That is when an individual is so hardened to the truth, He gives them over to their sin, with no turning back. The same goes for nations. When nations at the ordinance, legal, governmental levels  hardens itself so deeply by becoming the predominant voice of sin in the land, He gives the nation over to their sin.

When does He judge? First He warns, then He disciplines. If repentance is absent or if the nation worsens their actions in spite of His obvious discipline, then at a certain point after long-suffering compassion, He deems their sins "incurable" and He judges. "There is no relief for your breakdown, Your wound is incurable." (Nahum 3:19)

That's why I always cringe when I hear people say, "well, after a lifetime of rebellion/atheism/sin, I think he converted on his deathbed. There is a good chance that my grandpa/dad/brother is in heaven." I'm not so sure. If a person has rejected God's common grace for a lifetime, and had rejected His reproving, warnings, Gospel, and witnessing for all of a lifetime, there is a greater chance that the person had been given over to their reprobate mind and ended up in hell, than they suddenly saw the light and ended up in heaven. However, various cases exist, so once again, Only God knows. That's why it is important not to take a chance and keep on rejecting Him, though, whether at the individual or national level.

On March 23, 2010 I asked the question, Has America's point of no return been reached? I felt back then that perhaps it had. I felt then and I still do that God's final decision had been reached and the line had been crossed into permanent judgment territory with no going back. I am not saying that there is no more time for individuals to come to the Lord! No! People are being saved every day! But America as a nation? Or Australia? Britain? Iran? China? Mongolia? I think it is too late for most of them. Certainly, I feel that for us here in America.

Of course, I have no inside track, no supernatural view, no prophetic word that makes me feel this. It is my opinion only. I believe it only through what I read in the bible and see happening today. There is every chance I could be wrong. So despite not agreeing with those who say there is still time for the nation to repent and the judgment to be stayed, I agree that prayer is always the answer. Please continue to pray for individuals that you know who are not saved. The Lord is putting them on your heart for a reason. Pray for America, but pray for other nations too. Christians live everywhere. America is nothing special in the eyes of the Lord, any more or less than Tonga or Switzerland. He loves all His people, whatever nation they are in.

So keep praying, keep watching Syria, add Aleppo to the list, and keep looking up!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Personal testimony: reclaiming joy after a heartbreak

I am in the midst of finalizing the last essay regarding the LORD'S Four Sore Judgments: beasts. But I felt compelled to leave off that till tomorrow, and write something of a more personal nature today.

I have written once or twice about personal things, but mostly I keep it technical so the focus can on Jesus and the Word. I also personally hate to write about emotional things. But here goes.

It has to do with how I handle devastating personal attacks or heartbreaking betrayals. If you are a bible-believing, fundamentalist Christian in today's world, I don't care where you are in the world, America or Iran or anywhere in between, the world hates you. At some point you will have to endure a devastating heartbreak for Jesus' name.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you..." (John 15:18-20a).

"Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you." (1 John 3:13)

"Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:11-12).

It is especially difficult when those revilings against you come not from the world, but from within the confines of the safest place where you thought you could be safe: your own church and from people who profess Christ. I wrote about the State of the Church a while ago, and how more and more churches are turning into sheep-shearing or sheep-slaughtering factories by false teachers or pastors who run them. The case of church carnality and abuse is dealt with in Part 5a, Part 5b, and Conclusion. Unfortunately personal attacks and/or betrayals inside churches are becoming more frequent, and many of you have written to me about your own stories.

Now, I am not talking about the minor day-to-day slings and arrows of life. Sins abound and people are going to get on your nerves, say the wrong thing, take credit for your work, lie, cheat and steal, in the workplace and some of them happen even in church. That's life and we forgive and move on. I'm talking about the devastating things that happen that make you want to quit church forever. The kind that set you back years in your walk. The things that happen where you just want to throw in the towel. The big things.

Fortunately I have had only two of those. I am a baby Christian, lol. I know there will be more. Here is what I do:

First, I get very angry. That's the flesh. This kind of anger is different from righteous anger. When I am reviled against I get mad because my feelings are hurt. So I rant and rave in my head or at home alone out loud. I say stupid things, like "I pray that he dies of a thousand plagues!" Or, "I hope his tongue shrivels up!" That doesn't last long, because that kind of lashing-out anger is bad. If I said anything or even thought anything negative about the person, I repent sincerely to the Father. I know the flesh wants to rear up and be mad, and to some small degree I let it because I'm human, after all. But I really try to let the Spirit restrain my sin, because that would be all the more for me to repent about! I do not let myself stay angry for longer than a day. I take my action from this verse:

"Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil." (Ephesians 4:25-27)

When that anger simmers down I cry or get depressed. I lay around moaning "I can't take any more." Or "Why me?" Or something equally piteous. I'm useless to anyone, I can't think or function well. That goes on for a day. Then I stop it.

Like Bob Newhart said in his famous comedy skit, "Stop it!" How does one stop one's self from feeling anger or sadness or grief over a hurtful situation we are currently enduring? Emotions and thoughts are a choice. We don't feel love, we choose love. How else to explain marriages that successfully endure for fifty or more years? If one of the spouses bailed every time they felt mad, every marriage would fail. They persevere in love even when they don't feel love. I want the joy of Jesus. I am in the depressing part of the cycle. There is a gap, and I will not reach that joy unless I move my body and change my thoughts.You choose it. Anger is a choice. Hurt is a choice. In that way I simply choose to stop feeling mad. I do this 3 ways.

1. Move the body. To move my body, I rouse myself, I get off the couch, and I resume normal life. Chores, shopping, cleaning, no matter how minor, I do it. I make my body get up and do something normal. Do the dishes. Cook some soup. Vacuum the rug. Whatever. And I keep doing that normal thing even though I don't feel like it, until it feels normal again.

2. Capture the mind. As for the emotional thought process, I stop thinking about the wound. The first thing I want to do is constantly rehash it all over in my mind. When the thoughts come into my head to relive the event or the hurt, whatever it was, over and over, I stop it. I certainly don't talk about it. I deliberately capture every thought. (2 Corinthians 10:5). If what I am thinking is weakening me through negative emotions and hindering my joy, then I stop thinking about it. Satan is too sneaky and Jesus is to important for me to be sidelined by grief or upset. So what? I'll be happy in heaven. For now, I have work to do.

People put too high a regard on their feelings. Feelings are temporal, fleeting and deceiving. I allow the hurt and grief to have expression through tears or anger for a short time, and then it is time to get back to work. When I sink into my problems they tend to become large and Jesus becomes small. When I concentrate on Jesus, my problems become small and He becomes big. Therefore,

3. Concentrate on Jesus. Spiritually, I reclaim my joy through Jesus. Jesus IS my joy and He is the path to my reclaimed joy in the dark times. To that end, I spend a lot of time reading His word. It washes me. I spend a lot of time listening to hymns (not contemporary praise music, which is as empty as a tin can rolling down a tumbleweed highway). Old Hymns have doctrine in them and therefore are edifying. I sing and I talk aloud, either bible verses or the music. And last, I listen to sermons. I am not feeling the joy yet. BUT I KNOW I WILL.

Singing, praising, listening will allow the Spirit to apply truth to your mind and comfort to your heart. Let Him do it. Instead of running to my dark place, I run to the Light.

My own process involves gravitating to sermons about Genesis 1 at the dark times. Listening to sermons on Genesis 1:1 helps me to put my problems in perspective! The majesty of God the creator is revealed in Genesis and His eternity and holiness and power compared to my puny problems puts myself into perspective in two shakes of a lamb's tail. He is great and good. I am not. And yet, He loves me. I begin to feel the joy again.

I apply Philippians 4:8-9 here:

"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you."

And guess what? Putting off the negative, holding on to what is good, praising His name, washed in the word, pondering the noble and performing praiseworthy things does the trick. Pretty soon I feel the Holy Spirit's strength flowing back into me! I start feeling the heartbeat of joy again! He wants to lift us up! If I just continue walking He meets me more than halfway and showers grace and strength to me! He wants to do that abundantly for everyone, you included!

Persevering in the faith is not glamorous. It is hard, hard work. It doesn't happen by magic. There is no genie who will wave his wand over you and all your feelings of heartbreak or betrayal will go away. Persevering in the faith, to me, means putting one foot in front of the other. Each day. Some days if the dark time has come and I'm enduring a trial, means I do so mechanically, tearfully, slowly, but even though I'm moving slowly, my eyes are fixed on Jesus!!!!! Keep your eyes on him and the joy will return. He wants to comfort you! He shed His blood for you, didn't he? He wants to restore you.

Don't let grief or satan or anything steal your joy. It sounds like an oxymoron, but some days we just have to work at being joyful. One day my faith will be sight, and He will wipe away my tears. My heart will be full of love, never to experience another heartbreak or betrayal. What a day that will be! Meanwhile I'll close not from the bible, but John Prine lyric, "A heart stained in anger grows weak and grows bitter." Don't you want a strong, courageous heart? Wash those stains with Jesus's blood. It will come out clean and strong, I promise. Better yet, HE PROMISES.

"let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water." (Hebrews 10:22)

"And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us." (Romans 5:3-5).

YouTube recommendations

Hello Brothers and Sisters,

Here are a few YouTube recommendations for you:

The Fuel Project has two series of clips worth watching.

One is called Know Your Enemy Part 1
This is a series exploring the coming New World Order from a Biblical perspective. In the part I linked to, part 1, an introduction to some of the concepts that are covered. It is an almost eleven-hour journey through history, the Bible, theology and occult thought. It is now available as a four DVD set here. The manuscript is available as an e-book through Amazon here

The second series from The Fuel Project is just out. They have put up 6 short parts so far. It is called "Stay Free." It focuses on exploring why society collapses without God and what the future will look like unless we return to Him. You can watch it here.

I've watched every episode of both the Fuel Project's series and I recommend them. They are absorbing and edifying. Not to mention the narrator's cute Scottish accent :)

HT and Thanks to A. for the prompt to revisit these videos and recommend them.

Finally, Todd Friel works with Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron in the Way of the Master. Friel has a show called Wretched Radio and he puts up video clips from Wretched on YouTube. I enjoy them particularly at night when I'm tired and cannot absorb a great chunk of information. They are like a shot of espresso rather than a lingering cup of cappuccino. Ranging in time from 1 minute to 8 minutes, I always find them interesting. I like this latest one, "Preaching to Goats." I always enjoy when people can get a point across in a short, concise manner, lol, something I am still trying to learn.

I woke up this morning with the song Leaning on the Everlasting Arms in my mind. I listened to it a bunch of times on different YouTube versions. Here is one version lasting 34 seconds:

I mulled this fact:

Leaning: I lean on Him. He is my strength. You see He isn't dragging the Christian. He is not carrying the Christian. He is offering strength. I am weak but if I lean on Him He will help me on my walk. But I have to walk.

Leaning on Him gives me guidance. I do not know the way but He is the Way.

His arms are everlasting. From the Alpha to the Omega, beginning to end, ever present and everlasting, He will help. His strength will not fail and He will never retract His offer to lean on Him. This is a forever promise. His yoke is easy and His burden is light! (Matthew 11:30). Lean on Him!

Bible Word of the Day: Immanence

Last week the word was Transcendence . God is apart from His creation, different from it. This week the word is Immanent or Immanence,...