Boring Christianity? – Wordless Wednesday

2021-09-15 WW - Is It Boring Being a Christian

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

Intermezzo Guest Blog: Keep Praying for Afghanistan

President Biden has abjectly abandoned our Afghan ally, leaving the tragic nation to the whims of demonic Islamist radicals.  In spite of Zabihullah Mujahid’s, (the Taliban spokesman) assertion that no one is to be harmed and private property is to be respected, the history of the Taliban’s brutal force of a perverted form of Sharia law suggests a bloodbath is coming, especially to groups like the Hazara who have longed for freedom and cooperated with the West.  The Taliban has a record of public torture and hangings, and other forms of execution, and subjugation of women to assure no popular uprising against them.

I will not be covering this unfolding tragedy on my blog, but encourage you to subscribe to All Arab News and All Israel News, outlets of Joel Rosenberg, to keep informed of what will happen.  If these events begin to clearly intersect with Biblical prophecy, we may return to this theme in this blog.  Even so, Lord Jesus, come.

All Arab News
August 16, 2021 02:52 AM

 


SURRENDER

Biden abandons Afghanistan, Taliban seizes control of country, Afghan President flees, all as 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches.
by Joel C. Rosenberg | August 15, 2021

2021-08-16 Taliban Takeover

Less than one month before the 20th anniversary of the al Qaeda attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 — which led the U.S. and NATO forces to invade Afghanistan, topple the Taliban, and decimate Osama bin Laden’s terrorist empire — a nightmare is unfolding in that mountainous, tragedy-stricken country.

President Joe Biden has surrendered Afghanistan.
The Taliban has seized control of most of the country.
On Sunday, Taliban forces entered the capital of Kabul.
The Taliban is set to declare the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” in the coming hours.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has fled the country.

2021-08-16 NYT Headline

Most of the Afghan army is surrendering.
The U.S. embassy in Kabul has been evacuated.
American military equipment is falling into the hands of the Taliban.

Many Congressional leaders are furious by Biden’s decision to pull out all U.S. military forces from Afghanistan and to abandon the theater to the very radical Islamist terrorist regime the U.S. and her allies have been fighting for two full decades.

That’s the story at this hour.
We will have more coverage tomorrow and throughout the week as this major story unfolds.

2021-08-16 The Last Days of the TalibanTime Magazine cover from December 2001

 

“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:3

2021-08-14 When Will These Things Be

Jesus was intentionally vague about when He would appear for the purpose of taking His bride, the Church, away from the world, and when He would return to establish His kingdom on earth.  What He was very clear about was that we should not set dates or think He was appearing in some secret place or time.  Both His appearing and return will be global phenomena that no one will be able to avoid.

Some definitions are in order:

  1. The Church is not an organization. It is composed of everyone who has put their faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross, repented of their sins, and participate in His rulership in their lives (Colossians 1:18).
  2. The “last days” or “end times” are synonyms and refer to the Church age following the first coming of Jesus, His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension into Heaven. In our day, we use these terms to refer to the end of the Church age.
  3. The Church age began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), after Jesus ascension and 50 days after the Passover which coincided with His resurrection.
  4. The “rapture” is when Jesus will take the Church out of he world, described in Matthew 24:32-50, 1 Corinthians 15:35-58 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. He will appear in the sky in the same way as the disciples saw Him leave in Mark 18:19, Luke 24:51 and Acts 1:6-11. The term “rapture” comes from from rapio (“Latin: “to snatch away”), which is found in the Latin Vulgate Bible in 1 Thessalonian 4:17 (translated “caught up” in English translations).
  5. The Second Coming is when Jesus will return to set up an earthly kingdom described in Matthew 24:15-31, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 and Revelation 20:1-6. Sometimes this term is used to refer to all the events from the rapture to the end of the Tribulation.
  6. The Great Tribulation is the last half of seven years of tribulation while the Anti-Christ is ruling the earth. It will be a time of judgments poured out that will be worse than anything mankind has ever experienced (Matthew 24:21-22; Revelation 15-16)

In Acts 2:17, Peter told the assembled crowd,And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,” quoting Joel 2:28.  And Peter said, “This is it!”  I.e., these are the last days, beginning in Acts 2, about 2000 years ago!  This is what Joel prophesied 800 years earlier, and NOW, Peter said we were entering the last days of which Joel spoke.  But some of what Joel prophesied did not begin to happen that day.

Peter continued quoting Joel:
And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below,
    blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (2:19-20; see Joel 2:28-32)

These are things that have not yet happened but are waiting for “the Day of the Lord.”  That specific day, referred to also in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 will be when Jesus returns to set up His kingdom on earth, seven years after He has taken the Church out of the world.  This is not the same as His “appearing” referenced in 1 Timothy 6:14, 2 Timothy 4:1 and Titus 2:13. 

In these references, Jesus appears in the sky to catch away His Church, those who have put their faith in Him, repented of their sins and are living for Him.  The rapture (or “being caught up”) is described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and will occur “in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:52). Note also, the “last trumpet” mentioned in Corinthians is not one of the trumpets of judgment listed in Revelation 8, but a reference to the last trumpet the Church will hear on earth.

We should not confuse The Day of the Lord in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 and 2 Thessalonians 2:3 with the rapture.  The rapture is described by Jesus in Matthew 24:32-50, after He had answered the disciples’ questions about  “the coming of the Son of Man,” the time at which Jesus will come to earth to set up His rulership.

“Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessnes is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-5)  

This “coming” is distinguished from “our being gathered,” but is referenced here together because of false teaching that claimed Jesus had already come to establish His kingdom “in men’s hearts.  (On a side note, this heresy was also promulgated in the 20th century and continues in some fringe religions.)  As I have described, the “gathering” is a reference to the rapture.

A final note: Whatever we believe about the timing of the rapture, there are two realities all Christ-followers must keep in mind.

  1. First, no difference of opinion among Christians justifies unkindness toward those who hold different views.  Jesus commands us to love one another, just as He loved us.  He also said that our love for one another would be the evidence to all people that we are His disciples (John 13:34-35).  Wrangling over issues such as the timing of the rapture does not exhibit Christ’s love (Titus 3:10).
  2. Second, the most important aspect of the end times is not the timing of the rapture but the absolute certainty of the return of Jesus Christ to the world in these last days (Acts 1:11; Revelation 19:11-16).  The timing does not alter the fact that those who belong to Him will enjoy eternal life and those who do not will be separated from Him for eternity (John 3:18).  Only faith in Jesus as the our savior will distinguish the saved from the unsaved, regardless of our views on the rapture.  So pray earnestly for those who do not know Him yet!  They need Jesus.

We shall behold HIM!!  Maranatha, even so, Lord Jesus, come.

God Help Us All – Wordless Wednesday

Five Times August is the name of a solo music project by Dallas, Texas independent singer/songwriter/guitarist Brad Skistimas.  Another one on this same theme entitled Jesus, What Happened To US?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPzc8ROZEjU.

Guest Blog – Alabastersky and Shades of Grey

A blogger presented this on July 15, 2021, and wrote in much clearer fashion than I probably write.  I have not been down all the rabbit-holes she went into, but investigated many of them including extensive reading of Vedic Literature, the Book of Mormon, prophecies of Zoroaster, the Quran, writings of Mary Baker Eddy, and others.

Altogether, the Bible is the only book (or library of books) that really tells the Truth about The God Who Is, how He has revealed Himself throughout history, and finally in Jesus, called The Christ.  Read on for valuable insights.
Thanx, Alabastersky.
_______________________________________

In the 1990’s, in spite of the good little church goer that I was, there was about a 4 or 5 year period where I used to be attracted to anything new-age, from music to books and everything in between. Back then, to me, everything was a shade of grey. There was no black and white, and although you would hear me say that God and scripture were true and that I believed in absolutes, I had no clear understanding of what that really meant.

I was fascinated by Nostradamus and end-of-the-world prophecies, but if you told me I should study the book of Revelation, I likely would have rolled my eyes in the belief that (at least at that time) I was not a theologian nor even a book worm, so none of that would likely make sense to me anyway. The sad truth was that angels clothed in light, things written through trans-channeling (or auto-writing), and anything that focused on a better me and learning to love myself through my own independence and “woman had more of an attraction to me than anything “holy”.

One of the books I actually do remember reading at the time was titled Conversations with God. I found it interesting that the author claimed there was no right or wrong, there was only functional and dysfunctional. Sounds somewhat logical, right? Especially when wrong and right appear so black and white, so unloving and hateful! But let me tell you why all of that is deception dressed in light – taking what is truth, twisting it, and then repackaged it in a way that is always palatable and yet never powerful.

First of all I want to say that God is so much more than just sentience (or feeling) as new-age spiritualism would have us believe. That He is “more of a feeling” and is “everywhere and in everyone and everything” is a twist on the truth that He is omniscient and omnipresent. He is, in fact, an actual living, breathing, person, and His Word is not only truth but really IS ABSOLUTE truth, and very powerful!

Featured Image -- 20182After both of my parents passed away, I learned that grief is love that has no where to go, and because love never dies, grief may subside but it always remains under the surface. So imagine when it dawned on me that I had been grieving the Holy Spirit, because at that time I was so absorbed into all of this, His love for me also had no place to go. I didn’t realize I was actively resisting Him. If you were to ask me back then, I was in such a confused state that I would have even debated that God approved of that form of spiritualism, because I didn’t understand the difference between an “angel clothed in light” and an “angel of the Light“.

Only in Jesus Christ can I find freedom to live the life I was created to live – my purpose in this life. That was a game changer for me, because all of the sudden I saw sin (which is ANYTHING that separates me from Him) as slavery (black), and righteousness in Him as freedom (white).

“Oh but Lisa”, you might say, “there IS grey! Take for example the grey lines between male and female”! Yes, the male/female thing can be a big debate and a lot to unpack for some, but I have to tell you that the black and white in me no longer sees it as a debate. Once I aligned myself with scripture, passages like Psalms 139 (He formed me in my mother’s womb, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, all the days ordained for me were written in His book…) and Jeremiah 1 (before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…) came alive with meaning! I began to realize that if I choose to become anything outside of what He has created me to be (and this goes beyond just LBGTQ, it applies to anything and everyone) – if WE, any of us, choose any other path outside of the one He has created and ordained for us, then we set ourselves up for a life focused on temporary pleasures, and in the end are left not only unsatisfied and unfulfilled, but also in a deadly deception.

True science, in the end, always aligns with scripture (whether intended or not). Why? Because Jesus Christ, God Almighty, the Creator of this universe and everything in it, is immutable. We align with Him, He doesn’t align with us. He doesn’t sanction the sin, He sanctions the sinner. Once I recognize His authority in my life, I am the one who changes as I come under it. Anything less is expecting Him to change and bend to my will instead of me bending to His – and that in itself is saying that I do not believe He is God, because I do not value Him enough to bend my will to His. Truth: the fact that He sanctions the sinner and not the sin has nothing to do with Him not loving me, quite the opposite. It has everything to do with Him loving me so much that He takes delight in me as I discover what I was created for.

I’m just glad He caught my attention enough at the time for me to allow Him to stop the soul-sucking practices, habits, and bad theology I was mixed up in and allow Him to begin healing me instead. His Spirit was continuously wooing me back to Him. As I began to respond and desire conversations with the Living God Himself rather than with just His creation, I knew more and more that He really is immutable (the same yesterday, today, forever), and that scripture really is His holy word.

So that’s where I am with holiness on my end.  It is what I call the journey of shades of grey into a solid state of black and white, because that’s what holiness does. Only those who allow His holiness to be imparted to them realize what a beautiful thing it really is to be set apart in this way. It is incredibly comforting in the chaos of this world, and touches the human spirit in a way that is far more than anything sensual this world has to offer!

Link to original blog: https://alabastersky.wordpress.com/2021/07/15/shades-of-grey/

Intermezzo Guest Blog: Will Vaccine Passports Control Your Daily Life?

Former Clinton Adviser: Mandatory Vaccine Passport Could Lead to ‘End of Human Liberty in the West’ – by Jack Phillips  March 29, 2021

Former Clinton adviser Naomi Wolf said that mandatory COVID-19 vaccine passports that have been proposed in recent days would be the “end of human liberty in the West if this plan unfolds as planned.”

“‘Vaccine passport’ sounds like a fine thing if you don’t understand what those platforms can do. I’m [the] CEO of a tech company, I understand what this platform does,” Wolf, who’s also an author, told Fox News on March 28. “It is not about the vaccine, it’s not about the virus, it’s about your data. Once this rolls out, you don’t have a choice about being part of the system. What people have to understand is that any other functionality can be loaded onto that platform with no problem at all.”

Wolf said such data can be “merged with your Paypal account, with your digital currency,” adding that “Microsoft is already talking about merging it with payment plans.”

Wolf noted that it happened in Israel, “and six months later, we’re hearing from activists that it’s a two-tiered society and that basically, activists are ostracized and surveilled continually. It is the end of civil society, and they are trying to roll it out around the world.”

“It is absolutely so much more than a vaccine pass, it is — I can not stress enough that it has the power to turn off your life, or to turn on your life, to let you engage in society or be marginalized.”

Going a step further, Wolf likened such plans to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) surveillance of its population and promotion of a “social credit score.”

2021-04-02 Vaccine PassportsA handout image shows the Excelsior Pass, a platform that lets New Yorkers present proof of COVID-19 vaccination at events. (Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo)

“How does [the CCP] keep a billion people under the thumb of a totalitarian regime?” she asked. “The CCP can find any dissident within five minutes, and that can happen here literally within months.”

Wolf referred to reports about Biden administration officials proposing the idea. The Washington Post and CNN — citing anonymous, unconfirmed sources — have suggested that the administration is working toward developing a national vaccine passport standard. New York state has proposed its own “Excelsior Pass” that would be used in large-scale venues such as Madison Square Garden. The plan has been lambasted by civil liberties groups and proponents.

On March 29, White House press secretary Jen Psaki addressed the claims, saying the administration doesn’t see a federal mandate for vaccine passports. “We believe it will be driven by the private sector,” she told reporters.

In other countries, such passports have already been created. Israel set one up in February to grant people access to gyms and hotels, Iceland now uses a passport to allow foreign travel, and Saudi Arabia has an app-based passport for people who are inoculated.

“The thing underpinning all of this is, what are you going to use it for?” said Melinda Mills, director of the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science at the University of Oxford, according to the Wall Street Journal. “Is it for international travel? Is it for getting a job? Is it for buying milk?”

Intermezzo: Too little, too late, but better late than never . . . same for each of us!

President Trump delivers a positive and unifying message, a little late, but better now than never.
https://www.theepochtimes.com/trump-calls-on-americans-to-promote-peace-amid-reports-of-planned-demonstrations_3655924.html?utm_source=news&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=breaking-2021-01-13-4

The president is not wise and often has done things that weaponized his opponents easily enough. This time, his January 6 speech gave them the ammunition to again engage in political theater of impeachment with no hope of conviction, and that, with only a few days away from his departure from office. Nancy Pelosi’s full-on hatred for the man who defied her “take it to the bank” predictions in 2016 only inflames her adversaries, which may be part of her “playbook.” (“Stir them up and maybe the deplorables will get rabid enough to attack again.”) There is nothing to be accomplished in pursuing this course of action while more important legislation gets cold on her desk . . . like removing biologically correct, but politically inconvenient language of “dad, mom, son, daughter, etc” from congressional matters. Okay, that one did not get cold; she made sure this “important piece” got voted on.

We have come to a sorry state in the USA in which our nation will soon not be a world leader. America must fade to the background as nations around “The Epicenter” take center stage and actors far removed from American ideals must play parts in an unfolding drama of literally Biblical proportions.

God does not force any person or nation to take a particular course of action, but from His eternal and all-wise vantage point, He knows exactly how this theater will all go. He did not write the script, any more than He chose what you would eat for breakfast this morning. But knowing what will happen, how you and I will choose within the framework of free will with which He endowed us, He has laid out little tidbits of information, “trailers” (if you will allow a movie metaphor to intrude on the theater one) which give us enough information to understand that He does know.

See Matthew 24, Daniel 11 and 12, and Revelation, beginning with chapter 4. However, do not become obsessed with “interpreting” these things with one eye on a newspaper and one of a blog about prophecy. Remember Jesus instruction that applies not only to its momentary application, but to all prophecy: “Now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.” (John 14:29)

His emphasis in all His parables about the end of time was simply “Be ready.” Are you?

Guest Blog: The Night Before and After Christmas

The Night after Christmas, It Was Still Dark
How the story of the shepherds changes our view of suffering.
by Jeff Peabody – November 27, 2020 – Good reading in Christianity Today.

The little Palestinian town of Beit Sahour is believed to sit atop the site where “there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night” (Luke 2:8).  Two churches claim to mark the spot of the angelic visitation.  But that is just geography.  This year I find myself less interested in the where of the fields because I am more concerned with the when — the “at night” Luke briefly mentions.  The shepherds’ experience of darkness, both before and after their trip to the manger, holds special relevance for a Christmas arriving in the waning hours of 2020.

It has been a pretty dark year.  In the midst of already dire global conditions, the pandemic has plunged the world into what has seemed like an endless metaphorical nighttime.  It calls to mind when God brought the plague of darkness on Egypt, describing it to Moses as “darkness that can be felt” (Exodus 10:21).  Once again, something palpable seems to have blanketed the world with all the unknowns, fears, and uncertainties nightfall brings.  And as with most nights, we are weary.

Merry Christmas, right?

Maybe the sentiment is not as incongruous as it feels. Maybe the season of joy is right at home in these conditions. “Advent always begins in the dark,” writes Fleming Rutledge.

For most of my years as a pastor, it has felt as though I have been shepherding at night, in the dark.  No grand visions.  No mapped-out growth strategy.  I have prayed regularly for the light-up-the-sky kind of illumination realized by the Bethlehem shepherds.  Just show me what to do, God, and I will do it.  But my eyes have never been able to focus very far ahead.

That blindness became amplified by all that happened this year, like moving from twilight to midnight.  Suddenly, I could not see two steps in front of me.  Staring into a camera week after week to deliver sermons, I could not even see the flock, let alone the fields.  Each new crisis in the world begged for a response I did not have.  Big decisions and future planning became increasingly difficult, even as the need for them intensified.

The Old Testament book of Joel recounts a disastrous pestilence that wreaked havoc on God’s people.  It brought widespread, horrific destruction. In reflecting on those events, Eugene Peterson observed, “There is a sense in which catastrophe doesn’t introduce anything new into our lives. It simply exposes the moral or spiritual reality that already exists but was hidden beneath an overlay of routine, self-preoccupation, and business as usual.”

The virus we are facing may be novel, but the distress we are experiencing is not.  The preexisting darkness has simply grown thicker, making it more difficult to move.  But immobility is not always bad.  When we cannot go anywhere, we are left with sitting and waiting. And if we are still for any length of time, we are more likely to notice what we would have missed otherwise.

Such as those two little words: “at night.”

That first Christmas night created a watershed between epochs of darkness. There is pre-manger darkness and post-manger darkness.  “The shepherds returned,” Luke says, “glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told” (Luke 2:20).  After everything they saw, they returned to the place they had started.  In other words, they went back to that dark night.

All the brilliant, phosphorescent glory that lit up the entire sky did not end their experience of darkness.  It was still there, waiting for them on the far side of the manger.  And that was to be expected.  The angels had not visited the shepherds to bring a miraculous halt to the rotation of the earth.  They were not there to banish the night.  Glory displayed for one purpose only: to provide the irresistible prompt to seek out Jesus.  A flash of light showed the way to a greater light.

This, I have realized, is where I have often gotten hung up.  I have been praying for a light that will eradicate the dark altogether and get me out of it. I am looking — aching, at times — for clear, confident revelation that will end my confusion for good.  I have been waiting for God to solve life for me.  But honestly, that is more escapism than seeking God’s leading.  And that is not why he gives us light.  He shines his beams of revelation to show us the path to Jesus, the light of the world.

We can learn to reframe our questions from “Lord, when will this darkness be over?” to “What is pointing me toward Christ?” As we do, we may find there is significantly more light in the room than we realized.

The angel’s message began with the reassurance that there was no need to be afraid because God’s rescue plan was in motion.  It encompassed everything (offering joy for all people) and missed nothing (down to the details of how Jesus was bundled).  God’s grasp of history and his utter command of the situation were fully evident.  The birth of Christ happened before the angels arrived, during the unlit hours of the night.  The angelic announcement may have shattered the gloom with its brightness, but the miraculous arrival of Jesus occurred much like his resurrection: “while it was still dark” (John 20:1).

God is at work before we see him, absolutely unhindered.  Our blindness is not His.  “Even the darkness will not be dark to you,” the psalmist says (Psalm 139:12).  He is not intimidated by all the unknowns of night that stop us in our tracks.

That first Christmas night created a watershed between epochs of darkness.  There is pre-manger darkness and post-manger darkness.

Up until then, no one had ever lived in a world where the Son of God had dwelt among us as a fellow human being.  Prior to the Incarnation, God had not fully revealed himself.  As the shepherds sat out in those fields, they were living in a world that could see no more than the outlines of God’s redemption plan.  The veil had not been torn yet.

But then, as Isaiah predicted, a light dawned on the people sitting in that pre-manger darkness.  The birth of Christ changed everything.  Suddenly, there was physical evidence of spiritual action.  The hopes of endless ages were no longer abstract wishes.  They were about to be fulfilled within the lifespan of a real live person.

It was the reality of Jesus — not the light of the angels — that stuck with the shepherds.  As glorious as the heavenly choir had looked and sounded out in the field, it paled in comparison to the staggering truth the Christ child embodied.  Even as they were filled with wonder, the shepherds were given only the smallest glimpse of what was coming.  Their understanding was limited to whatever promise they could imagine from a newborn baby.  They did not know he would literally calm storms.  They did not see him heal the sick or raise the dead or feed the crowds.  They knew nothing of the Cross, let alone the Resurrection.  God did not show them the Holy Spirit’s work at Pentecost, the inclusion of the nations, or how the gospel would advance tirelessly around the globe for the next 2,000 years.  Yet the shepherds had enough light from that encounter to march back into their dark night rejoicing and praising God.

Sometimes we act as though what we are going through is pre-manger darkness.  When God seems silent, when we are bewildered by our inability to figure out a way forward, we make up a greater void than is truly there.  Because in truth, a staggering amount of light has been shed on Jesus since the shepherds.  History continues to provide both evidence and explanation.

I do not mean to minimize or trivialize anyone’s “dark night of the soul.”  When you are in one, it is painful and disorienting, often to the point of despair.  But as believers, our darkness is always post-manger.  Our darkness is forever against the backdrop of the light of Christ.  What has been shown of him cannot be unrevealed.  And Jesus never leaves our side through each season of darkness.  It is those who love us best who stay with us through our worst.  You know love is real when it shows up in the middle of the night.

Someday, morning will come.  Night never lasts forever.  In the meantime, we have Immanuel, God right here with us.  And that means we can return to the dark again and again, rejoicing and praising God for the light we have and the One who loves us enough to remain.  We can heed the angel’s call to not be afraid of this present darkness or any other.  The one born to us that night is still good news of great joy.

Jeff Peabody is a writer and lead pastor of New Day Church in Northeast Tacoma, Washington.

Angels We Have Hear On High – Pentatonix

Alien Visitations: From Two Worlds

“My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest. But now my kingdom is from another place.”  Jesus, John 18:36

This world seems so solid at times we seem to forget we will not be here long.  Seventy years used to be about the limit, but now many octogenarians and nonagenarians occupy independent living houses as well as assisted living quarters.  Psychologists tell us it takes about five years to internalize a major life change so that it feels normal, a small percentage against 80 or 90 years of life.  The result is that most of us feel very comfortable in our life situations, unless we are under significant duress or in dire conflicts.

C.S.Lewis 2There is a danger in getting too comfortable in this world though.  “Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is ‘finding his place in it’, while really it is finding its place in him. His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of being really at home in earth… You will notice that the young are generally less unwilling to die than the middle-aged and the old.” (C.S.Lewis)

We must keep in mind we have been visited by Someone who was not from this world.  He is its Creator, but we did not trust Him in the Garden of Eden and because of our founders’ lack of trust, we still find it difficult to trust Him.   However, for those who make a decision to trust Him, there is a transfer of citizenship that takes place.  We receive passports that identify us as belonging to another world as well, even though we have not visited our new “home country.”  (See John 1:1-14; Hebrews 11:10.)

Yet we remain in this world for a time until our Supreme Commander decides it is time for us to leave for home.  For many of us this usually stretches out to that 70 or 80 years to which we referred in the opening lines of this blog.  During this time, He calls on us to represent Him as His ambassadors (1 Corinthians 5:20), aliens in the world as He was an alien (John 20:21).  And as aliens we may expect some of the prejudices and antagonism that comes with not being in our natural environment.  (1 John 3:13)

In particular we must be aware, without becoming engrossed, by the presence of “other aliens” who are not from this world, and who hold major influence in the affairs of mankind!  Much of our antagonism comes not from the people who will oppose us when we act as Christ’s representative, but rather from subtle influences of which most people will be unaware (2 Corinthians 4:4).  There is a Spirit in the world that leads us into relationship with The God Who Is There, and there are spirits in the world that oppose Him without reason or sanity.

We understand there are two dangers associated to recognizing the activity of demon powers:
1.  Ignoring them and pretending they do not exist.
2.  Obsessing over them and seeing them under every rock and in every shadow.

A friend of mine who worked in a bank told me about one of her training exercises.  She was told she needed to learn to recognize counterfeit bills in order to effectively do her job.  The training consisted primarily of sitting in a room and counting money for the tellers for several hours per day.  She wondered how long this would go on as she began to suspect maybe this was all they wanted her to do; count the money and never get trained for anything more.

Money 2Then one day, she “felt” one of the bills coming across her desk.  Something seemed “different” about it.  The thickness of the paper was not quite right; the ink seemed slightly different.  Looking very closely she noticed lines in Jackson’s coat that seemed out of place and border lines that were inconsistent.  She had found a counterfeit $20 bill, the most commonly counterfeited currency in that day.  Reporting it to her supervisor, he then had her check several other stacks of bills.  One by one, she found several counterfeits in different denominations in the various piles.

It was then she was told of the counterfeits she had missed in her first couple days of training.  And in fact, the bank was getting concerned that she would not work out.  But as she continued handling the real bills, eventually she began to recognize the fakes!  She told me about this episode when I told her that I had accepted a counterfeit $20 at the store at which I worked and had been called to the bank to Moneyverify my deposit.  Even after telling me it was phony currency, I could not identify it as counterfeit.  But her training in handling so many real bills had prepared her to “feel” the false one as soon as it was in her hands.

This is how we should “handle” dealing with demons.  If we love the truth, if we immerse ourselves in the Word of God and study the Scripture, if we practice the Presence (see August 20, 2016) of the “real” Spirit of God, that alien Visitor with whom we are allied, then when the “phony” spirit of this age comes along, we will recognize it because we will simply know from our experience what the real “feels” like.  (1John 1:1, 2:27)

If instead, we become too comfortable in this world, if we only handle the Bible when someone else reads or teaches it, if we ignore our Commander’s Presence throughout the day, we will be ill prepared to identify the counterfeit.

With which visitor to this world do you want to identify?

 

Wondering While Wandering Through Time and Space

Off the usual moral themes of this blog, this is simply a logical discussion.  Time is an attribute of God.  You will not find this in any theological text and as far as I know I am the only one to espouse this idea, but it feels right, it appears logical, and common sense verifies it as true.

Swallows of San Juan Capistrano

The “brains” of this world, the intellectuals, are fond of making things very complicated.  “Instinct” is an invented word that means “we do not really have any idea.”  The dictionary defines “instinct” as “an inborn pattern of activity or tendency to action common to a given biological species.”  Why do birds fly south in the winter before it turns cold?  Why do the swallows fly from Argentina over the same pattern to San Juan Capistrano every year?  Why does a dog chase its tail?  Actually, we have no idea, so we ascribe these behaviors to “instinct.”

Hawking A Brief History of Time

In the same way, the late Stephen Hawkings, the brilliant and modest physics genius had problems explaining how life could evolve in the universe without God, so he came up with the idea of a “multiverse,” an infinite number of possible universes in which one, ours, could possibly have evolved life without Outside interference.  A pretty idea, but sounding an awful lot like Star Trek, it is basically absurd intellectualism to disguise his lack of evidence shrouded in complex mathematical formulae that he claimed “proved” there was no need for God.  The amazing thing about truth, or Truth if you prefer, is that it is usually self-evident.  “The king is not wearing any clothes” is a statement only a child would make in a kingdom that could not bear royal embarrassment.  No need for complicated conspiracy theories or complex equations.

So let’s get back to Time, a feature of our universe that I believe to be an attribute of God, like Space (yeah, that one, too, but maybe for another blog).  Time stretches back into eternity past and forward to an eternal future.  It, like God, is immutable; that is, it never changes in spite of Einstein’s ideas.  It is beyond the pale of man’s imagination to figure out a “time” when Time did not exist.  There is no reference of the Bible that says Time had a beginning.  The created universe had one, but “when” did that happen?

There are other things about God that our little minds cannot fully understand.  Remember, HE is God, we are not!  Thus, we have to rely on what He has revealed about Himself.  Somehow, He is Three-In-One, a single being with three persons.  We followers of Jesus are not tri-theists.  There is One God, and He is ONE.  Yet Father blesses the Son at His baptism and the Holy Spirit descends like a dove over Him (Luke 3:21-22); all “parts” of God, yet each is fully God and sort of like . . . well, there is no adequate illustration of God, because He IS God and there is only ONE of Him, and no one and nothing else in the universe is like Him.

So let’s get back to Time, again.  The Bible never says, “Time will be no more.”  That’s a line from a nice song about spending eternity with Him, but not a theological reality.  When will we be with Him?  When we leave this world by death or the Lord’s return.  How long will we be with Him?  For all the Time of eternity.  Clearly the Bible does not teach that we will somehow lose personality or identity; mystically absorbed into the infinite (Buddhism).  Hinduism and Jainism teach there is a personal soul but its blissfulness is very close to Buddhism’s loss of personality by the time you reach that state.

Einstein

The Bible shows individuals around the Throne of God worshiping Him, not in some ethereal sphere of timelessness, but in Eternal Time (Revelation 4 and 22).  It is the measuring of Time that changes, not time itself.  Einstein pictured a train passing at some distance from an observer, and it seemed to go slower than it appeared to someone on the train.  We see this when we watch a jet slowly traversing the sky; we can trace its travel with our finger, but if we were in a balloon up next to it, it would be whizzing by!  But the time and speed it is traveling does not change; only our perception of it.  So Time does not bend, but our measurement of it does.  We have all experienced this in the way we perceive time, sometimes happening very quickly, sometimes very slowly.  But Time is constant and does not change.

There was a time when God was alone . . . as the Three-In-One who had communion within Himself.  Then at some time in the Eternity past, He decided to share His existence with others, so He created amazing beings (to humans) of light and majesty, that if we were to encounter one of them, we would be inclined to worship him (Revelation 19:9-10).  Like God, He gave them free will, intelligence and emotions.

Then at another point in Time, Lucifer (Light-Bearer), one of the chief three angels came up with an absurd and twisted idea that he wanted to be God (Isaiah 14:14).  However, the insanity of his thought was that he was a created being, not eternally existent in the past; not omniscient, not omnipresent, not omnipotent, not containing Time and Space in himself.  So God kicked him out of Heaven, i.e. left him out of relationship, and separated him and the third of angels who followed him from the Life, Light, and Love that is God.

At another time, God decided to create another being, after creating the Earth, the planets, the stars and the galaxies of our universe.  He made this one with free will, intelligence and emotion as well.  Only this time He limited how much of Himself He would show to these created beings.  So Adam and Eve walked and talked with God, who apparently took on a form that they could comprehend.  Now we live in the in-between Time, between Eternity Past and Eternity Future, but actually part of the Eternal Time: “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

Emperors New Clothes.jpg

So in my childlike view of The Emperor’s New Clothes, my little brain just figures Time is an attribute of God.  What difference does this make?  Very little for our spiritual lives.  Like arguments between the Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday crucifixion of our Lord, the important issue is that He was crucified and raised from the dead.  The important thing about Time is that it is in His hands and He has numbered the days for each of us before we appear before Him (Psalm 139:16).

As for Space, besides the Acts 17 reference, you can look at Colossians 1:16-17:For IN him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and IN him all things hold together.”  He inhabits the “Colossian Space.”  (see https://www.physicsoftheuniverse.com/topics_relativity_spacetime.html)
Just wondering while wandering through Time and Space.