Friday, January 31, 2014

If we had X-ray vision what would sin look like?

When satan was created, He was the most beautiful angel. Ezekiel 28:12 says

Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord GOD: “You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty."

Inside or out, satan was not only beautiful, but he was the very seal of perfection. But it didn't last. Though he was created perfect, one day, unrighteousness was found in him.

You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you." (Ezekiel 28:15)

Sin is initially beautiful but the more a person becomes trapped in it, the less beautiful it is and the more they are eternally destroyed.

The woman may be beautiful, and the sin so enticing, Proverbs 5:3 says
For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey and her speech is smoother than oil.

But the end of it all is is hell.

in the end she’s as bitter as wormwood and as sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps head straight for Sheol. (Proverbs 5:4-5)

But sin at first looks great, else no one would engage in it. Remember Superman's X-Ray vision? Wikipedia defines X-ray vision as

"Although called X-ray vision, this power has little to do with the actual effect of X-rays. Instead, it is usually presented as the ability to selectively see through certain objects as though they are invisible, translucent or not present, in order to see objects or surfaces beyond or deep to the affected object or material."

THIS is what sin looks like. Here is the Old Man. Once so beautiful and shining, it is what satan's soul looks like. Eve thought the fruit looked good and a delight to the eyes, (Genesis 3:6) but shortly after all it had brought was pain and bondage (Genesis 3:16). If we had X-ray vision and could see beyond the enticing surface, this is what we would see:

"Sin", collage on handmade paste paper, by EPrata
O, would that sin looked like this to our eyes, then we would not be so attracted to it! And sadly, horrifically, it is what us inside us. This ugliness is what Jesus sees when He looks at a non-believer. Lovingly, He still died for us.

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

However, being that sin is so gross and deadly, it makes the triumph of Jesus all the more glorious.  Where satan is all-darkness that fools us into thinking it is light, Jesus never had one blot, one lie, one corrupt thought, one serpent slither. Not once, not ever. He IS the Light!

God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

If we had X-ray vision looking at Jesus, our eyes would see only glory upon glory, shining like the sun. He is a prism of Light, reflecting throughout all the universe and into the eternity we will share with Him! When He looks upon a believer He sees that same righteousness-

For He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Don't be fooled by the initially enticing beauty of sin. It is gross, destructive, horrible. Put on your X-ray vision to see beyond its surface lie. Run from it toward Jesus who set us free from its bondage, and gave us the Spirit's vision to see through its enticing spoils. Satan's offerings are nothing. Jesus is our all in all.

The Old Man Crucified

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him.” 
Romans 6:6.

EPrata photo
Take heart. Even as your old man is dying the New Man is blooming in his place.

EVERY New Man is two men; every Believer in Christ is what he was, and not what he was: the old nature, and the New Nature exist at the same time in each regenerate individual. ... The old nature, then, is what the Apostle means. The lusts of the flesh, the carnal desires, the affections of our estranged hearts, these he calls the old man . I am much mistaken if every Christian does not find this old man still troubling him. He has a New Nature which was implanted in him, as through the Spirit’s sacred working he was led to hate sin, and believe in Jesus to his soul’s Salvation; it is the heavenly offspring of the New Birth, the pure and holy result of Regeneration. Th at New Nature cannot sin—it is as pure as the God from whom it cam e, and like the spark which seeks the sun, it aspires always after the Holy God from whom it came. Its longings and its tendencies are always towards Holiness, and God, and it utterly hates and loathes that which is evil, so that finding itself brought into cont act with the old nature, it sighs and cries as the Apostle tells us, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

Do you see yonder blood-washed host? Without spot or wrinkle they stand before the Throne of God! Ask them whether they had to fight with sin, and they will tell you that they were men of like passions with us; ask them how they overcame sin—you glori ous ones, out of what armory did you take your weapons, and who girded you for the sacred conflict?— You must get to Christ, nearer to Christ, and you will overcome sin."

~Charles Spurgeon
excerpt from "The Old Man Crucified"
No. 882 April 11, 1869, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him.” Romans 6:6.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Phil Johnson: "Sometimes the Lord's supply seems meager, but it is always sufficient"

I've been thinking about money. This is not so surprising for me at this time of year. I work in a school system that I value highly and enjoy. My colleagues from one end of the district to another are wonderful. Some of those are the people in Payroll. Our tradition is that we conclude the first half of the year before Christmas and we enjoy a long break from school, coming back the first week of January. In order to ease the Christmas giving frenzy, the payroll people work in a frenzy themselves to get our paychecks to us before Christmas instead of the last day of the month like usual. We're paid monthly.

This year we were paid December 18 and we will be paid again on January 31. So we will go six weeks between paychecks, and that is a stretch for anyone.

I am paid almost exactly enough to get by, with little to no surplus month to month. The job itself is a complete blessing. I work with kindergarten children as a teacher aide (now called para-professional.) It fulfills me professionally, because it gives me joy to be with children. It is clean, inside work. Ha, I've worked outside before and in very dirty jobs, and this is better, even when a five-year-old throws up on me. It is way better than picking the worms out of freshly caught cod in a freezing fish factory in Maine, which is what I did to pay the rent during college. Among other jobs. My school job also comes with health care benefits, which is a relief, not having had coverage for many years and whistling past the graveyard by on a promise and a prayer.

So the job has many benefits if not being cushy in the paycheck department. I was musing about this over the past week. I'm ending the month in very good shape. Projecting 6 weeks out is a hard things to do but I'm coming in for a precise landing and tomorrow when my paycheck arrives I'll not have wanted for anything. It takes discipline, self-denial, and constant prayer to make it through to the end of the month.

In the end I'm glad that my financial life is this way, I decided. My discipline flows from a relaxed reliance on the promise of God to provide for us. If I had more money I know I'd become spendthrift. I tend toward greed and selfishness. So with more, I'd turn to God less and I know I'd start to be greedy and selfish. I'd also begin to believe satan's propaganda that my comforts were self-acquired. I fear Him enough to know that when I get a glimpse of self-awareness, it's not a pretty picture, and to look back at Him.

I like turning to the scriptures to feed myself even if the fridge isn't stocked with everything I ever wanted. I know that it is HIM sustaining me. What a comfort.

Am I going to sing "In Christ Alone but send a few dollars extra just in case"? Am I going to pray, "I Need Thee Every Hour, except a bit of a cushion would be nice"? Or, proclaim, " 'Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus and my wallet"? What does it mean to sing, pray, speak, and think these things? It means what it means, trust Jesus to provide. Why do we sing "Trust and Obey" on Sunday and then go home and stress about finances on Monday?

So I was pondering these things. It'd good for me to live this way. Maybe other people can handle more money or more of a cushion, but the Lord knows, I can't. I'm blessed.

I decided to do some cooking and listen to Phil Johnson's latest sermon while chopping. His sermon is called "Not So Radical" and it is a message he is preaching through the Psalms of Ascents. He is up to Psalm 128.

Pastor Johnson explained that the psalms of ascents were songs the Israelites would sing on the way to Jerusalem. No matter what direction you approached Jerusalem from, and mostly the only way to go was the Jericho road, was uphill. You hiked. You climbed. You sweated. It was 3400 arduous feet uphill all the way. You did this three times a year. Grandma had to be carried in a cart drawn by an ox. The rest just hiked. These songs were songs they would sing in praise and anticipation of the worship festival to come, and would remind them of Who they were going to worship in the coming days.

Psalm 128:5 states the following:

"The LORD bless you from Zion! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life!"

Pr. Johnson looped back to verse 1 which opens with a message about how fearing the LORD brings blessing. He said,

"We don't hear enough about holy fear these days. Modern preachers like to encourage familiarity rather than fear, and that's why so much of today's worship is casual, flippant, man-centered. But Scripture is full of admonitions to fear the Lord. For many today, that is an unfamiliar concept."

Then he moved into explaining prosperity and blessing.

"The word prosperity here in our text speaks of the biblical concept of divine blessing, spiritual affluence, and material sufficiency. This kind of prosperity has nothing whatsoever to do with the worldly idea of mammon. The world's idea of prosperity is overabundance, opulence, luxury, self-indulgence--all dependent on material wealth. The Lord's definition of prosperity (by contrast) is full forgiveness, the imputation of perfect righteousness, and "grace to help in time of need"--all blessings of eternal value.

"Sometimes the Lord's supply seems meager, but it is always sufficient. He measures his blessings carefully, so that a glut of earthly prosperity doesn't extinguish our hope of heaven. And even that is a great blessing."

Sometimes the Lord blesses by sustaining with a large cushion, as He did with Job and Abraham. Sometimes the Lord blesses by sustaining exactly, as He does with me and perhaps with you. The Lord takes care of us financially and He takes care of us spiritually. What may seem meager is in truth perfection. I wouldn't make the trade for anything.

"Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all." (Matthew 6:31-32)

"So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.” (Genesis 22:14)


For further reading:

Phil Johnson: Not So Radical
(if the link still isn't working yet listen here at sermon audio)

9 Marks: Trusting God Through Unemployment

Our Daily Bread: God provides...but how?

Pastor Rick Henderson: The False Promise of the Prosperity Gospel: Why I Called Out Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snow rollers, paralyzed Atlanta, Deep South shocked by ice: these "rare meteorological events" no longer so rare

We here in Georgia are suffering under a snow and ice storm that on the surface doesn't seem bad, but it is having repercussions and effects that far outstrip the three inches of snow on the ground.

Shawn Reynolds of The Weather Channel took several of TWC producer Stephen Neslage's photos and put them into one montage. Here clockwise, we see ATL gridlock, (some stopped for over 10 hours), abandoned cars littering the Atlanta highways, and people sleeping in various grocery store aisles. Shawn is at @WCL_Shawn and Stephen is at @StephenNeslage. The AJC reports that the governor has sent National Guard humvees to try and rescue the students still on buses trapped in the traffic, and others to bring food and water to students over-nighting in schools.

The UK Telegraph reports,

"Thousands of commuters were trapped in cars overnight on highways in the greater Atlanta area, hundreds of students remained inside dozens of schools Wednesday morning and at least 50 children spent the night on school buses because of an ice storm that is still gripping the deepest parts of the South. Residents ran out of medicine, a baby was born to a stranded mother and pleas for help flooded Twitter and Facebook as a region that rarely deals with ice and snow came to a screeching halt during a rare meteorological event that was still icing points this morning as far south as Brownsville, Tex."

It was the icing, the speed with which the storm came, and the volume of traffic that made things worse than simply the flakes that fell. There are some students still on buses that left school yesterday as the snow began that became swamped in traffic and snarled to a halt overnight on the highway. The National Guard was sent to try and move the buses and rescue the students still trapped aboard, and also to bring food and water to schools with hordes of students that sheltered-in-place. Nearly 4,000 students remain sheltered at their schools in Alabama, according to Gov. Robert Bentley.

Rare, snow, ice shock Deep South
[Governor] "Deal declared a state of emergency for the entire state late Tuesday afternoon and pleaded for residents, many unaccustomed to coping with snowy driving conditions, to stay off the roads. "I know many people are trying desperately to pick up their children or simply to get home, and I hope they can get to safe, warm stopping point soon," Deal said. "Once at your destination, if at all possible, please stay off the roads until conditions improve."

Below is a graphic showing how fast Atlanta traffic went from cruising comfortably to total paralyzed gridlock

How rare is rare? We read that Alaska was warmer than Georgia for part of this week. We read of snowmageddon/snowpocalypse in 2011, another rare weather year. But 2012 produced weird and unusual weather, as did 2013, and now again in 2014. So, is rare the new normal?

Dec. 2013: Rare December Snow Blankets Jerusalem (PHOTOS) -
Jan. 2014: What are snow rollers? Weird weather phenomenon sweeps Midwest
Oct. 2013: Weird weather: Fogged-in Boulder sees 1.4 inches fall after rare 'thundersnow'

Here is a more detailed report of the snow bales/snow rollers

Ohio Problems @OhioProbz
Only in Ohio do we experience this rare phenomenon called Snow Rollers
Snow rollers: Rare, strange phenomena eerily made by winter freeze
They are called snow rollers and they look like something out of a Stephen King travel guide to the Arctic Circle -- weird, cylindrical snow formations created in the middle of nowhere without the benefit of human touch. And the sight of them provides more evidence of the strange winter weather that’s sweeping the country, threatening snow in the Sun Belt, thrusting Minnesota temperatures even further below zero than usual and menacing the Super Bowl during its own rare appearance in foul-weather country. Even the National Weather Service waxes just a little poetic when describing the eerie shapes, which have cropped up in recent days in pristine fields in Ohio and Pennsylvania. (And let’s not even talk about the breathless descriptions of television newscasters.)

Last January the NY Times reported on how weather around the world is growing stranger and weirder.

Heat, Flood or Icy Cold, Extreme Weather Rages Worldwide
"Each year we have extreme weather, but it’s unusual to have so many extreme events around the world at once,” said Omar Baddour, chief of the data management applications division at the World Meteorological Organization, in Geneva. “The heat wave in Australia; the flooding in the U.K., and most recently the flooding and extensive snowstorm in the Middle East — it’s already a big year in terms of extreme weather calamity.”Such events are increasing in intensity as well as frequency, Mr. Baddour said, a sign that climate change is not just about rising temperatures, but also about intense, unpleasant, anomalous weather of all kinds."

Intense unpleasant could say that. It is predicted to only get worse. No, Weather Underground's Dr. Jeff Masters didn't predict this. Nor The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore. nor your local weather man. God did.

During the Tribulation, no wind will blow. Drought will occur. Water will be made into poison, and/or blood. One hundred pound hail will fall, dwarfing the largest hail that has fallen so far, large as it was. (18 inches, Nebraska). The heat waves will be so intense men will burn just by stepping outside.

Revelation 16:9 says

The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. 9They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.

If you are a fan of global warming, just know that when the sun is heated seven times hotter (Isaiah 30:26) and men are scorched by it, (Rev 16:9) the ice caps will melt. The little polar bear Al Gore set upon the ice floe all forlorn, will drown. For real this time. The released water from the ice caps will swamp low lying cities and they too will drown. All this weather craziness will only continue to get worse. It will not re-set. It will not return to weather of old. It has all been inexorably running down to the moment when nothing about the weather will work at the end of time, since the moment Adam and Eve sinned in the garden and God cursed the air and the ground (Genesis 3:17-19, Romans 8:20-22).

Rare IS the new normal, but if you want to escape all these things, be a part of the Church when Christ comes. His global bride will be whisked to heaven to enjoy a rewards ceremony called the Bema Seat, and those left behind will see these rare and horrible weather things happen for which they will have no words to describe.

How does one become part of the Bride of Christ? Recognize you are a sinner; doing, saying, and thinking things that are at enmity against Christ. Be repentant of them, and ask His forgiveness. Because He took God's wrath on the cross for your sins, once you're forgiven, God's wrath will be set aside, having been atoned for and endured by Jesus. God exhausted His wrath upon His Son, so you can be saved from it! You will be part of the group of believers taken up to heaven before all these horrific things come to pass in an event known as the rapture.

The alternative is to cling to your sins, and remain on an increasingly destroyed earth, as God UNdoes His handiwork in a horrific UNcreation. By the end, there won't even be a sky to look at. (Revelation 6:14).

God is the powerful Creator. He made the world and He will unmake the world. (2 Peter 3:10). Please don't be on it when He does. These weather events are His warnings to us on an increasingly rebellious world. Heed the warnings and repent.

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

Athaliah: the only Queen of Judah

I'm reading through Kings. I finished 1 Kings and I'm up to chapter 12 of 2 Kings. It is taking me a long time. I am not super-spiritual and I'm not super-smart and the going is slow.

There were quite a few kings of Israel. The history behind them all is daunting, never mind simply keeping the names and family lines straight. Without context it's hard to keep it all from running together. Oh well, I've got to read through the first time, don't I, and then I'll have context for the second time, and so on.

In chapter 11 we meet Athaliah. She was Queen Regent for 6 years over Judah. She was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel and she was just as zealous that Baal worship be re-instated as the official worship as her mother had been. BibleGateway has a summary of her life, titled "The Woman Who Was a Notorious Murderess"

Athaliah, as depicted in
Antoine Dufour’s Vie des femmes célèbres, c. 1505;
in the Dobrée Museum, Nantes, France.
Giraudon/Art Resource, New York
Why was she a murderess? She killed all who could lay claim to the throne, even grandchildren. Well, almost all.

"And Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal seed." (2 Kings 11:1)

The Bible Gateway summary is interesting and good, and it's not long. Here are a few excerpts from Bible Gateway's life of Athaliah.

--She was the granddaughter of Omri, 6th king of Israel, “who waded through slaughter to a throne he never inherited.”
--After reigning for eight years Jehoram died, unmourned, of a predicted incurable disease. While he reigned, he was dominated by Athaliah who had the stronger character of the two, and who, having inherited from her evil mother strength of will and fanatical devotion to the worship of Baal, made Judah idolatrous.
--After putting to death her young grandsons, Athaliah reigned for six years, and was the only woman to reign as queen of Judah.
--The daughter of a king, wife of a king, mother of a king, she is now queen.
--During her reign part of the Temple of Jehovah was pulled down and the material used in the building of a temple of Baal.
--Unknown to Athaliah as she set out to massacre all her grandsons, the youngest was hid from the orgy of destruction.
--Athaliah was left in a horse-path, to be trampled upon. Like her mother she died a queen, but without a hand to help her or an eye to pity her.

"So all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was quiet after Athaliah had been put to death with the sword at the king's house." (2 Kings 11:20)

I took two things away from my reading this morning. One is, like Jezebel, Athaliah was a near-perfect fulfillment of the curse of Eve and the promise that God made in the Garden:

"Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." (Genesis 3:16b). Both Jezebel and Athaliah sought power from and not submission to their husbands and thereby did not submit to God. They both ruled over their husbands and their husbands let them. Abandoning one part of God's best (Ephesians 5:22) will inevitably lead to abandoning more parts of God's word and then all parts. Both women, left to their sinful desires, fully served Baal and not God.

Secondly, Athaliah sought to wipe out the line of David. You want to know what satan is like? Like this: he kills babies without a second thought. Just as satan tried to wipe out Noah's line, which remained perfect in his generations, (Genesis 6:9), and as Herod tried to wipe out the babe Christ in the massacre of the Innocents (Matthew 2:16–18), Athaliah tried to wipe out the Davidic line. However, the Word of God will never be undone by man nor women!

"The previous deaths of Jehoram's brothers and Ahaziah's brothers and relatives (2 Kings 10:12-14, 2 Chron 21:17, 21:14), left only her grandchildren for Athaliah to put to death to destroy the Davidic line. Though the LORD had promised that the House of David would rule over Israel and Judah forever, Athaliah's purge brought it to the brink of extinction." (source MacArthur Study Bible).

Only one little grandbaby was left of the Davidic line, it all came down to one child. And Jehosheba, Ahaziah's sister, hid Joash and did so successfully for 6 years until Athaliah was ignominiously killed. The LORD is mighty to protect and is perfect to fulfill His word.

In the midst of all that murder and plotting and Baal-worship, the ultimate glory of the passage for me today is that the Lord is will fulfill what He says He will fulfill, no matter what machinations satan and man throw in His way.

"The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. You, O Lord, will keep them; you will guard us from this generation forever." (Psalm 12:6-7a)


For Further Reading-

Bible Study Tools: Athaliah

Bible Hub Topical Study: Athaliah

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The first of 11 reasons pastors aren't trusted today

Paul is giving Titus some advice as to how older men and older women should live.

"to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled." (Titus 2:5).

Then Paul gives advice for how younger men should live and also pastors:

"and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us." (Titus 2:8)
Living Water by AmBr0

Paul speaks about how even slaves are supposed to live. Even though they are not free in life, they are free to make Godly choices.

"not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior." (Titus 2:10).

Do you notice how in verse 5 and 8 and 10 Paul attaches to the verse the reason why we should live holy lives?

Paul says the same thing to Timothy in these verses:

"So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander." (1 Timothy 5:14)

"All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God's name and our teaching may not be slandered." (1 Timothy 6:1)

So that the teaching of Jesus may not be slandered! Satan is always looking for an opportunity to accuse us
of being hypocrites. So are the lost. it is so important that since we have been given the Light, not to share the dark. Yet more and more often, Christians hide their light under a bushel basket and allow the way of Christ to be slandered. This is from Thom Ranier:

Eleven Reasons Pastors Are Trusted Less Today
The moral failures of a minority of pastors receive widespread coverage. The media loves the sensational stories behind clergy failure. For sure, some stories such as sex abuse should be brought to the public eye. But many people now believe the bad behavior of a few is normative for all pastors.

Wikipedia creative commons photo, Dunn County Farm
Kerby Anderson wrote in his essay "The Decline of a Nation"

The refrains that are often heard are: "It can't happen here," or "Our country is different." But the reality is that nations are born and die just like individuals. Their longevity may exceed the average person's lifespan. But the reality is that nations also die.

History has shown that the average age of the great civilizations is around two hundred years. Countries like Great Britain exceed the average while other countries like the United States are just now reaching the average age.

Each of the great civilizations in the world passed through a series of stages from their birth to their decline to their death. Historians have listed these in ten stages.

The first stage moves from bondage to spiritual faith. The second from spiritual faith to great courage. The third stage moves from great courage to liberty. The fourth stage moves from liberty to abundance. The fifth stage moves from abundance to selfishness. The sixth stage moves from selfishness to complacency. The seventh stage moves from complacency to apathy. The eighth stage moves from apathy to moral decay. The ninth stage moves from moral decay to dependence. And the tenth and last stage moves from dependence to bondage.

These are the ten stages through which the great civilizations have gone. Notice the progression from
The Civilization Express Station by theflickerees, cc photo
bondage to liberty back to bondage. The first generation throws off the shackles of bondage only to have a later generation through apathy and indifference allow itself to once again be enslaved.

I believe the US, and perhaps even the entire world, are at the end of stage nine and readying for the final stage before the antichrist comes to power, by taking advantage of humankind's dependance and moving them into the prophesied bondage.

But back to Paul's admonitions. Paul ended his letter to Titus 2:15 this way-

"Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you."

Paul is serious about holy living. On the Day when we all stand before Jesus, think of whether you want Him to congratulate you when your works are not burned up, that you lived for Him with good motivations. Or will you (or I) be embarrassed that our sins were exposed to the world and the word of God was reviled? Why give satan ammunition? He'll only use it against us. (Zechariah 3:1, Revelation 12:10).

Spurgeon said of holy living:

"There are legitimate reasons why the world, the church, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself, may expect more from Christians than from the rest of mankind. And, the first is, because they profess more. Professions should always be supported by facts, or else they are deceits, impostures, and hypocrisies. A Christian professes himself to be a renewed man; he has learned the evil of sin, repented of it, and fled from it to Christ Jesus; he professes to have been pardoned, and to have received a new heart and a right spirit; he professes, also, to be a child of God, and an heir of heaven. Other men do not profess this. ... Now, Christian, if you profess this, your life must prove it, or else, if your life gives the lie to your religious pretensions, you stand convicted of a flagrant falsehood, a fraud on men and a felony against God."

"But, secondly, we may well expect more from Christians than others, because it is a fact in the case of those who are truly Christians that they are more than others. It is not mere talk, it is a fact that the believer in Christ is born again. He is not only as other men are, made by God, but he has been twice made, new born, new created in Christ Jesus. It is no fiction but a matter of truthful experience; we have passed from death unto life. We have received the Spirit of God into our souls, which has implanted in us a new nature higher than the nature of other men."

"Again, it is certain that true Christians can do more than others. "Can," saith one, "why, they can do nothing." True, but through Christ that strengtheneth them they can do all things; and Christ does strengthen his people."

Be strengthened, live holy, that the way of Christ not be reviled!

Monday, January 27, 2014

The joy of possessing His word!

In 1968 missionary Phil Masters and missionary Stan Dale hiked into the Seng Vally in an attempt to get the Gospel to the Yali people who lived in the valley (cannibals) and to the Kimyals who lived on the other side. The Yali shot the pair with over 200 arrows before they got to the other side. They decapitated the men, and chopped up their bodies, bringing some parts home to steam in banana leaves and eat. They never made it to the Kimyal tribe.

By 2010 the Lord had graciously planted His word in the Kimyal and Yali people's hearts. The printed word of God in the Kimyal language was completed in translation in 2010, and a ceremony was held to receive these New Testament bibles. Phyliss Masters, Phil's widow who remained on mission for 40 years after Phil's death, would attend. Though she lost her husband on this earth, his name is written in the Lamb's book, alongside many of the Kimyal and Yali people who Phil had come to share the Good News with. The sweetness of Jesus's  harvest is sweet indeed.

Do you feel this much joy when you open your bible?

Do you read your bible this eagerly? This reverently?

Praise God for missionaries! For the Gideons! And, read your bible!

"If Jesus returns, kill him again" says Canadian man, echoing prophecy in Revelation 19:19

I want to dwell for a moment on the hatred satan has for Jesus and the people of Jesus. It is not a pleasant subject, but a necessary one to examine. We are warned repeatedly in the bible that satan prowls around like a lion-

"The LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the LORD, "From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it." (Job 1:7)

"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8)

He has schemes; and those schemes are not for our good-

"in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes." (2 Corinthians 2:11)

Satan has pride and plans and a purpose. It is to be higher than God. It is to usurp God.

"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit". (Isaiah 14:13-15)

It is good news that in the end God will calmly and easily flick satan into the Lake of Fire, but until then, we are on his world and we are prey to his prowling which seeks to devour and destroy us.

Do you know how much satan hates us and hates Jesus? Do you have an inkling? Just as God's love is incomprehensible, satan's hatred of the Holy One is inchoerent, yet, it is relentless and it is horrific. This hatred extends to you and to me, as His children. His hatred is unreasonable, impenetrable, unfathomable. I want us to try and fathom it, for a moment.

Here is one example of satan's hatred. We can't plumb the depths of it, because there is no end to this hatred, but here is one earthly expression of the hate that satan has for Jesus and His children:

Darwin Bedford is a Canadian man on a mission. He calls himself an atheist messiah. His message is simple and it is straightforward. It is this:

Bedford says "If Earth is to remain an everlasting paradise, then socially we need to denormalize religion because it is so harmful."

It goes without saying that Bedford is on a mission to stamp out religion. You notice that he focuses on Christianity as the sole cause of the world's ills. Muhammad is [supposedly] coming back, but Bedford doesn't mention that. His rabid focus on Jesus and the death of Jesus is due to the work Jesus did on the cross, atoning for the world's sins. He mocks it with a typically darkened understanding of the plan of God to forgive sins, saying that we need to kill Jesus over and over in order to atone for the living people who have not yet had this 'benefit'. he says,

"Will you please help me kill Jesus should He return? I'm thinking of forming an official society under the Societies Act for the purpose of killing Him should he return. And should God send us His only daughter in flesh instead (for the purpose of dying for forgiveness of sins) then we should kill Her too."

In days of yore and not so long ago, a position like Bedford's would have been unthinkable to speak out loud. Simple peer pressure from the majority who believed in Jesus would have kept those with extremist and utterly blasphemous views like his from even being spoken aloud. Now, not only does he appear at political events with his sign, but Bedford has alliances with other organizations who believe the same.

Such hatred of Jesus is shown to us in the bible. At the end of time, satan successfully incites all of the world's armies to assemble at the plains of Armageddon. Most people think this is so that they can fight each other. The world will have been in a perpetual state of war by the time the 7th year of the designated tribulation period arrives, so the assumption is logical. It is not entirely correct, though. (Revelation 6:4). While peace is taken from the earth, the moment at the time when all the world's armies are ready to fight is not so that they fight each other. It is so they can fight and kill Jesus. Here is the scene.

Jesus is introduced in Revelation 19:11 as the returning rider on the white horse. Jesus in His glory is described, and so are His armies. Then a few things happen. Finally in Revelation 19:19 we read the following:

"And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh." [emphasis mine]

The armies are ready to fight Jesus, who is returning on His horse. The eons-long hatred of satan against the Holy One will culminate ins a fruitless assembly of the world's military to fight Him who is called Faithful and True.

Of course it is over in a moment. Jesus utters a word and they all fall. Satan is captured and locked up and the antichrist & false prophet, who are leading the armies, are captured and thrown into the Lake of Fire. This scene is previewed for us in John 18:6. When the soldiers who had come to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane asked if He is the man they are seeking, Jesus replied 'I AM He'. And the soldiers all fell to the ground under the power of His name. They will do the same at Armageddon. And the vultures will feast on their dead carcasses.

In 2 Peter 3, Peter is writing reassurances to the Christians at that time (and us at this time). He reminds His flock that the prophets of old have much to say to us about this time (2 Peter 3:2). He moves on to say that mockers and scoffers will try to intimidate us by their ridicule, but don't worry (verse 4). He specifically reminds us that thought it may seem slow in coming, His Day will arrive on perfect schedule. (vv9-10).

Then Peter says, since we know all this, what kind of people shall we be as we are "waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God" ?

"be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. ... You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." (2 Peter 2:14b, 17-18)

"Knowing this beforehand"...we know how much satan hates us, so let's be holy and diligent. Why diligence? Because of the satanic hatred leveled at us every second of every day. (Ephesians 6:10-20). What is diligence? Pray ceaselessly. Read the bible daily. Encourage one another constantly. Tithe or donate sacrificially to meet needs. As Peter urged, remain stable - and that stability is only on the Rock. Cling to the love of Jesus, but don't relax in knowing satan's hate will try to knock you off your game. Don't underestimate his prowling and his constant and sole goal of destruction

No matter how or where or why satan has his schemes, no matter how deep his hatred is for Jesus and by extension, of us, it will all come to naught. Our momentary afflictions are but a wisp of time and almost weightless compared to the glory and joy awaiting us in heaven.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Creation Grace: Fog and Mist

Fog rolling onto the beach at Lubec, Maine. EPrata photo
Isn't it comforting to know that God ordains every single thing that happens, even every droplet in the fog bank rolling over the beach roses at the easternmost point of a nation.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Do you know how fast false doctrine spreads?

"and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus," (2 Timothy 2:17)

In the book of Second Timothy, Paul realizes that his time on earth is short. He is pouring as much Spirit-inspired knowledge into his protegee, Timothy, as he can. The concern and love Paul has for his men and his churches is evident. Paul warned Timothy about two things mainly, remain in passionate love for Christ, and stay in true doctrine. These two things are linked.

Artist's depiction of Paul Writing His Epistles,
16th century (Blaffer Foundation Collection, Houston).
After Paul warned Timothy to stay in true doctrine (and there are 25 imperatives in this letter) Paul said next in verses 15-18 for Timothy to avoid error. This brings us to the verse quoted above. False teachers' talk spreads and it spreads fast. It is like a wildfire. Strong's Concordance defines gangrene as it is used in the verse:

"a gangrene, a disease by which any part of the body suffering from inflammation becomes so corrupted that, unless a remedy be seasonably applied, the evil continually spreads, attacks other parts, and at last eats away the bones"

Barnes Notes explains,

"This word - gangraina - occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It is derived from graiō, grainō, to devour, corrode," and means "gangrene" or "mortification" - the death of a part, spreading, unless arrested, by degrees over the whole body. The words rendered "will eat," mean "will have nutriment;" that is, will spread over and consume the healthful parts. It will not merely destroy the parts immediately affected, but will extend into the surrounding healthy parts and destroy them also. So it is with erroneous doctrines. 

They will not merely eat out the truth in the particular matter to which they refer, but they will also spread over and corrupt other truths. The doctrines of religion are closely connected, and are dependent on each other - like the different parts of the human body. One cannot be corrupted without affecting those adjacent to it, and unless checked, the corruption will soon spread over the whole."

We all know what gangrene does, even if we are not medically trained. Anyone who saw the Lonesome Dove television miniseries knows. It is a disease that spread fast and destroys. As you read this definition of how gangrene kills medically, apply these words spiritually to your mind. Physiologically, gangrene kills the living organism by cutting off the blood supply. To reverse the effects of the poison, a debridement must occur. According to Merriam-Webster, Debridement is "the usually surgical removal of lacerated, devitalized, or contaminated tissue. Let's stop and consider the importance of a healthy blood flow to the members of the faith:

"For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life." (Leviticus 17:11)

The Crucifixion, seen from the Cross, by James Tissot, 19th century
If allowed to progress, the tissue dies and then the entire appendage becomes contaminated. Remedies now must include an amputation. At this point, it's interesting to consider these words from Matthew 5:30,

"And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell."

If no remedy is applied by this time, the organism dies. The gates of Hell shall never prevail against His world-wide church, but parts of the body can die. Individual congregations die. Revelation 3:1 records one such dead church: Sardis.

Abandoned church in NM, by Emma, Wikimedia Commons

"And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.'"

There is so much here to ponder. First, this cements beyond all discussion that parts of the body can and do die. Where is the church at Ephesus? The church at Thyatira? Sardis? They died.

Second, Jesus knows the outside and the inside. He knows what is in a man. (John 2:24). Do you read the word reputation? That's what we humans see. Have you ever seen a bustling church, read the long list of ministries on their web page, attended 'Trunk or Treat' and watched hundreds of little kids running around and smilingly indulgent parents standing by? It is a sure bet that somewhere a church like that is dead. Their reputation is one of acclaim, successful ministries, being busy, and even salvations, but Jesus knows the fact of the matter.

Third: churches that look alive can be in fact, dead.

Chickens run around for a while after their heads are cut off. So do churches. The end result is the same for churches that have been strangled by gangrenous doctrines that cut off the blood. Jesus hates false doctrines! (Revelation 2:6). Jesus's Gospel IS doctrine, and without it, any individual or congregation will die. Therefore if Jesus as Truth is not the Head of the church, the church will die. First for a little while after they have left their first love, (Revelation 2:4) they'll go on. Then they will exclude Jesus completely and put Him outside, (Revelation 3:20). Even if the the heartbeat of the church continues for a while the only end result will be death because they have slowly and painfully and maybe even unknowingly swapped true doctrine for false.

That is what false doctrine does. It kills.

The Good News is that Jesus said His church will never fail. (Matthew 16:18). Jesus made a charge to the Church at Ephesus when He said they had left their first love. However, before it is too late, there is always a remedy!

"Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first." (Revelation 2:5a).

Excise that false doctrine immediately, get it out of the Bride, before it can kill even one living cell in the body. Repent and He will forgive. 

If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent." (Revelation 2:5b)
Micah Exhorts the Israelites to Repent, Gustave Dore, 1866, Wiki CC
Paul told Timothy later in the letter,

"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine." (2 Tim 4:1-2)

Remember the lesson of gangrene: is is poison,  it spreads fast, and it ultimately kills. Doctrine matters!

For further reading:

9 Marks: How does inattention to sound doctrine kill churches?

Thom Ranier: Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 11 Things I Learned

GotQuestions: Why do some churches thrive while others die?

Grace to You Article, Does doctrine really matter?

Ligonier Ministries: Drawing the Line: Why doctrine matters

Friday, January 24, 2014

What's going to happen in the end time?

The world is going crazy. Things are deteriorating at a pace that older people have never seen happen so fast in previous generations. People who don't believe in Jesus even are noticing this. Many people are asking, "What's going on?"

This is where prophecy comes in. Prophecy is the future told in advance. In order for the future to be told with such detail accuracy in its fulfillment, only God, who is outside of time and the author of history, can do so.

"There is no way to explain the Bible's ability to predict the future unless we see God as its Author. For example, the Old Testament contains more than three hundred references to the Messiah of Israel that were precisely fulfilled by JesusChrist (Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messiah). Peter Stoner, a scientist in the area of mathematical probabilities, said in his book Science Speaks that if we take just eight of the Old Testament prophecies Christ fulfilled, we find that the probability of their coming to pass is one in 1017." (source)

God said that this world will end. This affects every human being living at the time of when it happens. During the Tribulation, it will be a time of UNcreation, when the orderly creation account we read in Genesis is reversed but in a chaotic and horrific way. For example, every island will flee away and every mountain will be thrown down. (Revelation 16:20). This prophesied event will affect every person living on the planet. For those who are not alive during this period when God's wrath descends to earth, affecting everyone on it, He said that some will be awakened to everlasting life and others to everlasting wrath. (Daniel 12:2). Either way, prophecy has meaning for every person who ever lived or is living at the time of fulfillment, believer in Jesus or not a believer. Therefore, prophecy is of utmost importance.

The purpose of prophecy

Considering such weighty emphasis upon prophecy in the Scriptures, we may properly ask regarding its purpose in God’s unfolding plan. Why did our heavenly Father cause so much of his word and revelation to consist of prophetic utterances that spoke of future times, circumstances, and events? All Scripture, we understand, "is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16). But what is the special role that prophecy holds in influencing the life of the believer?" (source)

All scripture is profitable. (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Since two-thirds of the bible is prophecy, it is obvious that God put the words of prophecy in the bible to profit us for His purposes.

Prophecy exists to reveal the glory of God:
"I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done" (Isa. 46:9, 10).

Prophecy exists to establish the bible's credibility and to authenticate the biblical speakers of prophecy, including the Triune God and the men that God designated to speak His words. (2 Peter 1:21).

Prophecy exists to enlighten the believer and to stimulate to activity. (Mark 13:23). (source)

I hope you understand by now how important prophecy is to the believer and non-believer alike. So the next question is,

What does God say is going to happen?

God has been working since before the foundation of the world. He is still working. (John 5:17). After He created humans there was an entire span of time He was doing works that will result in His glory. But then Jesus came. In the days of His flesh (Hebrews 5:7) Jesus taught and performed signs and miracles to prove who He was. Then He was killed and nailed to a cross and absorbed all God's wrath for sinners. (2 Corinthians 5:21, Isaiah 53:5-6).

Pleased with His son's obedience, God raised Jesus on the third day and soon after, Jesus ascended to heaven to be at the right hand of the Father. (Hebrews 12:2). When Jesus ascended, the Spirit came and thus began this present age, the age where Jesus is building His church. (Matthew 16:18).

When the church is complete, Jesus will call His church to heaven in an event known as the rapture. (Romans 11:25, 2 Thess 2:1-12, 1 Thess 4:16, 1 Corinthians 15:52). All those who have come to saving faith in Him since He began building His church will arise from their graves or from their live bodies, be glorified instantly and meet Jesus in the air. He will lead us to heaven, where we will enjoy the Bema Rewards ceremony where our works we performed while int he flesh will be tested. Then we'll having received our crowns for works done in His name on earth that stood the test.

During that time in heaven there will be ceremonies and activities and hallelujahs and praise. But back on earth, there will be Tribulation. (Matthew 24:21). This tribulation will involve Israel, and the whole world. Since all believers will have been taken to heaven at the rapture, and along with them, the indwelling Holy Spirit, His restraining ministry will cease.

Did you know that the Spirit restrains man from the worst they can do? Did you ever wonder why there isn't a Hitler or a Jeffrey Dahmer every day? Man are totally depraved and sinful, but they don't do their worst because the Spirit restrains us. (Genesis 6:3). When Jesus calls us to Him in heaven the Spirit will still draw men to belief but He won't restrain sin. Sin will be loosed to run fully rampant. (Daniel 9:27).

It will be a time of unparalleled evil in the world. Murders and heinous acts and death and disease and horror and hell on earth. It will be a time of the uncreation of the world. Volcanoes, earthquakes, heat, hail, drought, bloody waters, and more. Demons marauding and putrid corpses. Hell.

This tribulation will begin immediately after the rapture. It will last 7 years. Most of the world will die.

Then at the end of the Tribulation, Jesus will return. He will rescue His remnant left on earth, kill the armies assembled against Him at Armageddon, and install His throne on earth. peace will reign for 1000 years. This is called the Millennial Kingdom, because it will last 1000 years. Ezekiel 41 onward has the scene.

At the end of that time, satan who had been bound for the 1000 years, will be loosed so as to deceive the nations one last time, and many will follow him. Jesus will squash the rebellion, he will be thrown into the Lake of Fire, and all who ever lived will be resurrected to face their judgment. This is known as the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15) and it will occur at the end of time. Glorified bodies will be given to those who are raised from death, so that those who are destined for hell can withstand their eternal punishment, and those who are destined for eternity with Jesus can withstand looking Him full in the face with all His glory. The eternal state will begin as the earth melts away. (2 Peter 3:10). The bible doesn't say what comes next.

So if you have followed along, the rapture is the next event in God's long, long plan for humankind. Please be on board with all that is required to join Jesus in the air. You don't need your money. You don't need your works. You don't need baggage or clothes, those will be provided. All you need is faith in the work and person of Jesus Christ, to lay your sin down at His feet, sorrowful for your blasphemies against Him. This is called repentance. He will forgive you of those crimes and invite you to His abode in heaven, He will give you His spirit as a seal of the guarantee of your place.

"Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober" (1 Thess 5:6).

"But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer" (1 Peter 4:7).

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The hairs on your head

When we read a scripture like this,

"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows." (Luke 12:7)

or this,

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father." (Matthew 10:29)

We understand the verse is telling us that God is sovereign. His sovereignty extends to even the smallest, most seemingly inconsequential matters. To Him, these matters that men take as nothing are consequential to Him. A sparrow falls to the ground, A hair falls from your head... He not only notices, He causes or allows each and every thing under the sun to occur. Even more, He is doing it for His glory, or for the good of those who love Him, or to harden men in their sin. That is the destiny of the entire world; His glory, expressed through His condemning wrath or His loving salvation.

But in every day life, how is this level of detail in His sovereignty expressed? How does it play out before our eyes? We no longer buy sparrows for a penny to sacrifice. So what does His knowing the details of our lives and His care for them look like?

I submit the following for your consideration.

Yesterday I had an incredibly busy day. It was a whirlwind and emotionally and it was physically draining too. As I clocked out at the front office, the secretary asked me if I was going to do the usual, which was to go straight home and brew a cup of herb tea. I said no.

"I need chocolate! I am going to find somewhere along the way home, stop, and buy some CHOCOLATE! I need some chocolate!" You ever have one of those days? I did.

Anyway, she was so sweet, she slid open her desk drawer and opened a fancy package and gave me three chocolate turtles on the spot! She put them in a baggie and I took them home and ate them. As the evening drew on, I said to myself, "That wasn't enough. I need more chocolate.''... Then at church a brother in the faith walked up to me and handed over a package and said, "This is from MJ (who was worshiping at the other building)." What was in the package? CHOCOLATE! Not a coincidence.

LOL, not that we can put in an order with God, He's not a waiter. But if we think through just how sovereign He is, this makes sense.

People say that He is too busy to be concerned with the minutest details of our lives, but it is not so. It is an expression of His omniscience, His power, and His love to know all things and to be managing them moment by moment for each and every person on this 8 billion populated earth. Doesn't it make you feel more loved and more secure to know that he is that big? That He knows our needs every moment, and anticipating them, provides?

Here is Justin Taylor at The Gospel Coalition with some Charles Spurgeon quotes on The Extent of God's Sovereignty:

I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes—
that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit, as well as the sun in the heavens—
that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses.
The creeping of an aphid over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence—
the fall of sere leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche.

Take heart that our Jesus is fully aware of each and every tear you shed, each frown that crosses your brow, each plea in your prayer closet or even each cry remaining solidly locked in your heart. He is sovereign, and He is able and willing to hear us and know us and take care of us.

The chocolate is a small thing, perhaps a silly thing. But at that moment, I was tired, fainting, and weary. He knew. This small incident is an example of today's sparrow. Are we not much more valuable than they?  Does not our Father hear us and comfort us when we plea for comfort? Through this silly exercise we see God hears, He works, He is knitting together all things for good to those who love Him. He let me know He is there with me. I took solace and comfort in pondering, once again, His magnificent sovereignty, wide as a universe and detailed as His loving care of myself moment by moment.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

How Obama is conditioning the world for the upcoming antichrist

Two days ago I wrote about how the ever-working Jesus has brought the economy, religion, and the moral heart of society so close to the point of being ready for the final fulfillments of the prophesied Tribulation period conditions. Like an iceberg, we don't see is the bulk of the structure, but we see only the tip. However, the tip has grown to and through the surface that even secular people are noticing that things are not only not quite right, but very, very wrong. Polls show that more people believe we are headed in the wrong direction. That our world governments are not up to the task of solving today's problems. The wealth gap is obscenely wide. And more.

All these things are evident to the discerning Christian's eye. Something else that was immediately evident is that there is something of the prophetic in Obama.

When he burst upon the scene in 2007, it was immediately apparent that Obama was unlike any other politician the modern world has seen, except maybe Hitler. He was so strange and his aura of charm and likability so strong that people openly asked if he was the antichrist. Many Christians' spiritually negative views of Obama were realized when he began operating in the White House. His policies, his statements, and attitude toward law, order, and right living confirmed that their initial spiritual uneasiness about him indeed had a basis. They are examples of what is yet to come. But they are also preparing the way for what is to come by conditioning people to give up their rights for the so-called greater good.

Though Obama probably is not the antichrist, I and many others believe that he is a kind of forerunner. A Pastor friend of mine stated it succinctly last night:

"Did you see Bill O'Reilly's brief interview with Robert Jeffress earlier this week? Pastor Jeffress concisely stated his belief regarding President Obama's influence on the future. While Jeffress' book was written to those who are curious about what is going to happen in the future, his comments [two paragraphs] about President Obama's unwitting role of preparing the mindset of Americans for a future world dictator has drawn a lot of attention."

The only remark I would make about my wise pastor friend's comment is that it's my opinion that Obama's role in the satanic set-up for coming Tribulation conditions is not unwitting.

He was referring to an interview on Fox, where Jeffress said,

"There’s going to be a future world dictator, before Christ returns, who’s going to usurp people’s personal …rights. …He’s going to wage war against God’s people, he’s gonna change God’s laws and he’s going to do it without any opposition. And my question was, how’s he going to be able to pull that off? And my thesis is, people will have been conditioned long before the Antichrist comes to accept governmental overreach. And that’s what you’re seeing with President Obama right now.

Here is a lengthier interview than the brief one on Fox News, excerpted from the Christian Post (CP):

"Robert Jeffress on Revelation, President Obama's Role in End Times Prophecy and Motivating Christians to Share the Gospel (Part I)"

"Pastor Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of the 11,000-member First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, has released a new book, Perfect Ending: Why Your Eternal Future Matters Today, that cuts through the misconceptions about end times prophecy and God's judgment, and answers questions about heaven. It also answers why Christians should be actively sharing the Gospel with nonbelievers.

CP: In your book, you mention that President Barack Obama's policies and political agenda is paving the way for a future world dictator. Can you provide a couple examples of those policies?

Jeffress: Those are probably the two paragraphs in the book that have garnered the most national attention. I want to be very clear, I am not claiming that President Obama is the Antichrist. In fact, I'm absolutely certain he is not the Antichrist. The reason I can say that is the Bible indicates the Antichrist will have higher poll numbers. But I do believe that the president is paving the way for a future world dictator.

The Bible says the seven years of history before the coming of Christ will be characterized by this world dictator that we commonly call the Antichrist. He will usurp people's basic freedoms, such as speech, worship and commerce. He will launch an attack against God's people. And he will seek to change God's moral law, according to Daniel 7:25. And he will be able to accomplish all of these things with little to no opposition – at least at the beginning.

Jeffress then gave examples of several foundational policies Obama has instituted that directly pave the way for the future world dictator, and Jeffress concluded with this:

"This is what I'm saying: The president is both illustrative of, but he's also preparing the way for the coming world dictator. Now, let me be very clear and say that I do not believe that President Obama kneels before an altar of Satan in the Oval Office every day – I'm not saying that at all. But I am saying that what he is doing now is preparing the way for this future dictator."

Obama's success is not contained in this policy or that law. It is not the minutiae of Obamacare or even his lies misstatements. It is that he got a majority of the United States citizenry to capitulate their hearts and minds to an obviously evil government entity, and in so doing, set the example to the world on how to do it. He claimed the minds of people, and manipulated them far down the path that satan wants them to go.

Please read the interview linked above. Pastor Jeffress was equally adamant that we as Christians have the unique perspective of being able to see the future, and so should share the Gospel with verve and haste. Time is running out.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What is Jesus doing now?

Yesterday I wrote about the technology that is coming together that will support the rapid co-opting by the antichrist. The surveillance society in which we are currently living (no matter where you are) is one that extends its tentacles into most aspects of private citizens' lives. When the tentacles close up, the world will be strangled by the antichrist, who will gleefully oppress its remaining citizenry into a hellish submission. Most will be subdued by their own sinful wills, tragically.

The piece was an honest look at the bloody apocalyptic world that is rapidly approaching.

Tomorrow I am planning a piece that shows how quickly society is crumbling.

Though I included in yesterday's blog essay and will include in tomorrow's blog essay the Gospel and the  beauty of Jesus amid all that darkness, it's still sobering to think of what is going to happen to the billions of people left behind in the Tribulation.

To lighten things up, today I was thinking about the promises of Jesus. We love to think about Him for Who he is and His attributes. But it is also comforting to think of the things He has said in scripture that He is doing on behalf of His bride: us. What is He doing now?

When He said on the cross, "It is finished!" (John 19:30) it meant that, well, it is finished. When Jesus ascended to heaven, His work completed, He sat on His throne. Jesus is performing priestly duties, and as King, He is reigning.

"Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a High Priest, one Who is seated at the right hand
"The Lamb is on His throne", Flickr CC, by LawrenceOP
of the Throne of the Majesty in heaven, a Minister in the Sanctuary and the true tent which is set up not by man but by the Lord." (Hebrews 8:1-2) .

We know from John 14:2 that "In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?"

How wonderful! Just to think Jesus is personally preparing a place for us! And even better to know that "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also." (John 14:3). So, Jesus is preparing.

In heaven He is making intercession for us. Romans 8:34 says,

"Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us."

Therefore, Jesus is praying.

Jesus is welcoming the souls who have left their earthly tent and are arriving in heaven. Upon death, Christians are immediately translated to heaven!

"We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." (2 Corinthians 5:8). Jesus is welcoming.

Leon Cathedral, Flickr CC, by Steven 2358
Jesus said to Peter that He shall build His church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Jesus is building. (Matthew 16:18).

Jesus is sovereign and orchestrating each and every minute detail of His universe. He knits together in the womb, He calls to salvation, He receives prayers and praise. There is so much He is doing and is powerfully able to do. So it is all the sweeter and humbling to think of the things He is doing for His bride. We surely have a holy and just and powerful and wise Groom. But we also have a caring and loving and an eager Groom, too!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Antichrist will easily co-opt today's technology for the prophesied purposes

It is very easy for me to see how the antichrist will control the world. He is prophesied to be a man who will come in peace uttering flatteries, (Daniel 8:25, Daniel 11:32) but instead will reveal his evil at the Abomination of Desolation. He is called the man of sin (2 Thessalonians 2:3) because he will be the embodiment of all that is most thoroughly evil.

EPrata photo
We are born depraved. Every person is born with evil in them as our sin nature controls us. But not all of us do the worst evil that can be done. There are some nice people who try to do good in philanthropy or by religious works. Rocker Bono is known as the former and 'Mother' Theresa was known as the latter. This is not to say that they don't or didn't have a heart of evil, only that unconverted people with a sin nature CAN do good, it's just not the kind of good that Jesus accepts as good. (Romans 3:10-12; Psalm 14:1-3; Psalm 53:1-3). Hitler was an example of how far along the 'evil spectrum' a man can go, but even Hitler didn't come near to plumbing to the bottom of the evil that a man can do. The antichrist will be that man. This surprises many to think there can be a worse man than Hitler, but it is no surprise to Jesus, for He knows what is in a man. (John 2:25)

The coming antichrist will rule every aspect of the left behind people's lives. In the geo-political realm, he will
rule the whole world, all peoples, nations, tongues, tribes.(Daniel 2:40, Revelation 13:7-8). The only nation that is prophesied to escape the antichrist's hand will be Jordan. (Daniel 11:41). It is no coincidence that this is where Jesus urged the people to run when the Abomination of Desolation occurs and where the remnant will be personally protected during the Tribulation. It will be the location of the conversion of Israel. (Matthew 24:16, Isaiah 63:1, Revelation 12:6, Zechariah 12:10).

The antichrist will perform evil upon evil. His second in command in this unholy trinity will be the false prophet, who will cause all to have a mark on their hand or forehead which will be a mark of worship to the antichrist, identifying the person as allied with him (allied with evil). Without this mark no one may buy or sell. In other words, worship the antichrist or you may not participate in any way in the economy. It will be worship or die.

In the economic realm, by his henchman the False Prophet, antichrist will rule all people's buying and selling, as mentioned previously. (Revelation 13:16-17). They will control the economy.

Glen Benton, metal musician
In the religious realm, he will rule also. He wants to be worshiped and his goal is to exalt himself. After the six-day creation was completed, Satan influenced the holy angels to come to his side. A third of them did. (Hebrews 12:22). Then after God made man, satan came right down and turned their eyes away from God and Adam and Eve disobeyed. They were cursed and ejected from the garden. This has been satan's desire for a long time- to oppose God and to corrupt man. (Isaiah 14:13-14).

For millennia, people have wondered HOW the antichrist could possibly control the entire world. It seemed well-nigh impossible for one man to be able to keep track of the entire population's economic purchases, religious worship, and political movements. It was the cause for marveling and many discussions, I am sure.

Even in my lifetime it seemed impossible to us with finite minds and no understanding of God's plan. I was born in 1960 and by 1983 I was married. That was back before video machines replayed movies in your home. Before widespread Cable TV. Even at that, cable tv wasn't 24 hours. Before GPS. It was prior to cell phones, webcams, the internet. Even the simple bar code was fairly new. I wasn't saved then but if I had been I'd be one of those wondering heartily just how all that is prophesied will come together.

God is always working. Even long ago, He was causing inventions to be made that would inexorably bring the unbelieving human race under subjection of one man at the end of time, and who would employ the technology of the era to continue that subjection until his appointed days came about.

In 1991 my husband and I bought a sailboat and we moved onto it and determined to sail the east coast of the US, and cross the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. There, we planned to laze about, see the sights, and live intimately connected with the earth. My anticipation was the latter but my husband's overarching goal was to escape government intrusion.
Intracoastal , Hollywood, FL, by kimb0lene flickr CC

Even in the early '90s, the rules and regulations for daily living via zoning, vehicular laws, taxes etc tortured his libertarian heart. So we decided to get away from it all and cut loose from regular living and craft a lifestyle that would be apart from government rules and prying as much as possible.

Ha ha.

Little did we know in our innocent and naive hearts that government tentacles had been busy extending invisibly into areas we knew not. For example, we didn't know that the Atlantic coastal waters and the inside Intracoastal Waterway were heavily trafficked and monitored. We expected the Coast Guard. We did not expect that the Coast Guard could approach and board without probable cause and with impunity. Unlike motorists where law enforcement needs a valid reason and/or permission to search your vehicle, it is not the case with Coast Guard. (At least, at that time.) They come aboard, inspect for safety gear, and can and did search for drugs (Ah, that old War on Drugs was going full force in the post Miami Vice '90s).

Also, we did not expect that every bridge tender to record the name and home port of each vessel traveling under its spans.

For example, here is the Bridge of Lions at the port of St. Augustine. When a sailboat wants to go under the bridge and if the span is lower than the boat's mast, you call the bridge tender and request he lifts the span to allow passage. This, of course, halts car traffic on the bridge. When you pass under the tender's booth, much like a highway tollbooth, he writes down the name of your boat and the port identified on the stern.

Kristee Booth, Wiki CC photo
If we had thought about it at all, we would have understood from the get-go that the coastal waters and Intracoastal Waterway has to have separation of traffic much like roadways. There are cargo ships, Navy ships, pleasure craft, fishing fleets, Coast Guard, marina harbormasters, yacht races, locks, bridges, canals, rules of the road, and much more. Because it is so busy, of course it would all be managed.

Another trip we took was in a VW camper van across the country. This was in 1994. We were interested in exploring the desert. Neither of us had been west of the Mississippi and we were specifically looking forward to exploring the desert. We had a vague notion of finding a warm place to buy a small plot of land and build a desert shack. The expanses of West Texas entranced us. It was so empty! Maybe this would be the place we could set up a home apart from so much spying, from government and neighbors, my husband said. He was truly born in the wrong time. I believe in former days he would have made a great schooner captain or an inventive Mountain Man.

Anyway, we kept seeing this weird dirigible hovering over the desert byways. We learned that its name was Fat Albert and it was a government spy craft.
EPrata photo
This is the official write up on it:
"The Tethered Aerostat Radar System is a balloon-borne radar. The primary aerostat mission is to provide radar data in support of other federal agencies involved in the nation's drug interdiction program. One aerostat, located at Cudjoe Key, Fla., transmits TV Marti, which sends American television signals into Cuba for the U.S. Information Agency. The air drug interdiction program consists of land-based aerostat radar detection balloons along the U.S. southern border and in the Carribbean..."

What happened was the balloons went up in FL first to monitor drug traffic by air and sea, but the smugglers simply shifted their air routes west and flew over Mexico and then landed in the United States Southwest. So the program shifted west to follow them. The write-up states plainly that the Marti transmissions were a failure and the balloons were a semi-failure, due to expense, necessity to remain tethered, and bad weather. But the government kept trying and spying, bless their hearts.

Of course we are into the second decade of the new millennium now and we know that the government spying that used to look outward for enemies and drug traffickers now looks inward to track friendly, unsuspecting citizens and their activities, not just enemies.

The National Security Agency collects over 2 million private citizens' messages a day in 'untargeted sweeps'. Highway webcameras are ubiquitous. There is a street cam on every ATM and bank, and on traffic lights and most businesses. The government can track a person with a cell phone and the phone need not be on an active call, or even turned on for that matter. As this story below illustrates, continuing societal immorality extends to citizens using technology to spy on citizens more frequently than not.

Marcus Thomas, former assistant director of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division in Quantico, said in a recent story in The Washington Post that the FBI has been able to covertly activate a computer’s camera — without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording — for several years. (source). Thsi same story reported how a teen aged classmate had been spying on Miss Teen USA by using her webcam. The activation of the unsuspecting girl's webcam hadn't triggered the light that alerted her that the camera was in use.

We can see how Jesus's prophecy in Matthew 10:21 will easily come true, if laptop spying can occur between citizen-to-citizen. Even family members will spy and tell. "Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death."

All this to say that in my lifetime, visible technology has leaped forward to such a degree that envisioning the antichrist's stranglehold on all peoples at end of the end is now easy to do. That the people using technology have been revealed to have regularly used it for nefarious purposes shows us how easily a depraved man's heart can and does turn what was meant for citizen good will be used instead to oppress them.

As for the antichrist's and false prophet's stranglehold on religion, in looking at this one picture it is easy to see how the world's religions will cave easily and be absorbed into one. Most is it is false now anyway.

As Pastor JD Hall said of this photo as he tweeted it, "Photo of a female Methodist pastor anointing a Catholic Cardinal. So much #fail in one photo."
The Huffington Post reports, "Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley surprised many people when he asked Rev. Robertson, a pastor in the United Methodist Church, to anoint his forehead with consecrated water in an ecumenical baptism reaffirmation ritual at Sudbury United Methodist Church, reports The Patriot Ledger. "

To see where we are headed, read the bible. It contains already-ordained future history. To see how close we are to that future, look back. In my case, I didn't have to look back too distantly to see how far we have come in being subject to technological and governmental strangleholds and how the tares have flooded the faith. Only 30 years. What does the next 30 years portend? The next 5years? The next one year? I shudder to think.

However, the grace and promise of Jesus is that His Bride is not appointed to wrath. We who are already in the Bride will not be here to be forcibly subjugated to the antichrist, nor forced to starve when we are forbidden to participate in the economy. We will be in heaven dining with our Groom at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb! That is a sure thing.

If you do not know Jesus and are worried about the way the world is going, you are right to be afraid. It will end in a horror that Jesus Himself shuddered to relate to the disciples. (Matthew 24:21-22). It will be Hitler's Holocaust on steroids, a never-ending shop of horrors and literally hell on earth. (Revelation 9:2-3). Billions will die. And then after the Great White Throne Judgment they will die again, forever, in hell, where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. (Mark 9:38).

Flickr CC by stonehouse_  "jayme and i wrote this in the wet pavement.
apparently it had been cleaned when jayme when back later though.
the heathens will never be..."
You can avoid all that by repenting of your sins and appealing to Jesus for forgiveness. Because He absorbed God's wrath on the cross for our sins, died, and rose again, He is able to forgive, and your wrath will be transferred from your account to His. He paid your sin-debt! He is magnificent and holy, loving and gracious. He is waiting for you to recognize you are a sinner and fall to His feet. He will forgive you, lift you, conform you to His likeness (holy and good) and welcome you to blessed heaven when it is your turn to be called home. All this awaits the repentant sinner!

"...Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 14b-15).

Word of the Week: Propitiation

We're losing the meaning of our uniquely Christian words. Biblical illiteracy is high. People don't understand the meaning of founda...