Do Not Pray for This People

From our pulpits we hear constantly how God is merciful and forgives sin.  Often a mark of “success” of a sermon seems to be how good people feel about themselves as they leave a meeting or church service.  Pastors do not want to hear complaints or negative comments; they only want to be told how many attended and how large the offering was.  Would it meet the budget and have money for the programs?  The polish and prominence of the parish is the paramount proportion to show we are doing “the Lord’s work.”  This is not to say all pastors or church leaders are out of the loop of what Father may be planning, but there seems to have been so much emphasis in the last few decades on love that we have not heard any warnings about ignoring God’s goodness.

How rarely does one hear of God’s anger, even though there are over 150 references to God’s judgment in the Bible and only about half that in reference to God having mercy?  Of course, a word search does not fully reveal the themes of Scripture and certainly, God IS merciful.  The concept of His desire for none to be lost, and for all to come to repentance is rife throughout the Word.  The Bible is God’s love letter to us, that we can be saved from judgment!  Yet, one of the chief motivations to appeal for His mercy, is that unless we entreat Him for it, He WILL pronounce judgment on the recalcitrant.  His mercy is for anyone who requests it, but what of those who refuse to ask or do not even know that they should!?

God is certainly more patient than we are.  Within the book of Judges, there is a pattern of disobedience followed by punishment, followed by repentance, followed by deliverance, followed by repeated disobedience . . . over and over and over and over!!  This pattern continued throughout the Kings of Israel and Judah, until finally God’s patience wore out.  All along the way, He raised up many prophets to warn the people that judgment would come, until finally, He told Jeremiah to stop praying for the people!

How far down the path of calling good evil and evil good can we go before we have exhausted His patience again?  How many innocents who have not yet been born can we kill, sacrificing them to the gods of convenience, fame and money?  What does one make of an elected governor who says abortion is the way to love your neighbor!? (Ezekiel 16:35-3823:37-43).  How long can we keep putting darkness for light and light for darkness; how long can we exchange bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter; how long can we be wise in our own eyes, promote heroes for how much wine they can drink, and take bribes to acquit the guilty and deprive the innocent of their rights?  (Isaiah 5:20-25).

Is the USA past a point of no return?  Is God telling His people to stop praying for our nation?  When you pray for our leaders and the condition of our country, do you get a sense that Heaven is brass, and God will not listen anymore?  Who will warn the society that famine may be a season away, that a sword is being sharpened to cut off the life of the republic?  Should we not be concerned when the choices for our leaders have devolved so low, when Supreme Court Justices must fear for their lives because of ruling in favor of protecting the unborn?  Are the following warnings given to Jeremiah about Israel equivalent to God’s words to the United States?  Who will warn our people?

“Do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you.  Do you not see what they are doing in the cities and in the streets?  The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the Queen of Heaven.  And they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger.  Is it I whom they provoke?  Is it not themselves, to their own shame?”  Therefore, thus says Yahweh-Elohim, “Behold, my anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, upon man and beast, upon the trees of the field and the fruit of the ground; it will burn and not be quenched.” (Jeremiah 7:16-20)

“They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear my words.  They have gone after other gods to serve them. …” Therefore, says Yahweh, “Behold, I am bringing disaster upon them that they cannot escape.  Though they cry to me, I will not listen to them.  Then they will go and cry to the gods to whom they make offerings, but they cannot save them in the time of their trouble.  For your gods have become as many as your cities, and as many as your streets are the altars you have set up to shame, altars to make offerings to Baal.  Therefore, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble.  What right has my beloved in my house, when she has done many vile deeds?  Can even sacrificial flesh avert your doom?” … Yahweh once called you ‘a green olive tree, beautiful with good fruit.’  But with the roar of a great tempest, He will set fire to it, and its branches will be consumed.  “I, Yahweh-tzavot [The LORD of hosts], who planted you, has decreed disaster against you, because of the evil you have done, provoking me to anger by making offerings to Baal.”  (Jeremiah 11:10-17)

“Yahweh said to me: “Do not pray for the welfare of this people.  Though they fast, I will not hear their cry, and though they offer … offerings, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.”  Then I said: “Ah, Yahweh-Elohim, behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’”  And Yahweh said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them.  They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.  Therefore, thus I, Yahweh say concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name although I did not send them, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not come upon this land’: By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed.  And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets, victims of famine and sword, with none to bury them, their wives, their sons, and their daughters.  For I will pour out their evil upon them.” (Jeremiah 14:11-16)

May Yahweh, The God Who Is, have mercy on us.  Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly.

Thanxgiving Approaches

Thanxgiving later next week remains the last of America’s truly “family holidays.”  There was a time when almost all holidays were family times, oriented around a dad, mom and progeny that were born to them; perhaps some extensions with uncles, aunts, cousins and grandparents if one was fortunate enough to meet the octogenarians of previous generations.  As a child, if a family did not have their groceries and details in order for any holiday, from New Years Day to Independence Day to Christmas, you could anticipate sitting at home for the day with nothing to do or eat!

Like the last gasps of a dying patient before he leaves the world of the living, Turkey Day is getting a small reprieve from the incessant march of materialism and identity politics that are trampling the “old world” underfoot.  Many stores are closing this Thanxgiving, more than in previous years.

Walmarts, even though started by a man who claimed to be a Christian, have been open on TG Day since the 1980s, but like many retailers, closed for the holiday during covid’s run in 2020 and ’21.  Now, they and others like Target have decided to keep the fourth Thursday of November as a true holiday with closed stores.

Yahoo News reports that stores closed for Thanksgiving 2022 will include Aldi’s, Barnes & Noble, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, HomeGoods, Penney’s, Kohl’s, Marshalls, Sam’s Club, Staples, Target and Walmart.  Even the entire Fayette Mall will be closed!   And Lowe’s and Home Depot have always been closed on TG Day since their founding, so no surprises there… yet.  Only a handful of national chains like 7-11 or drug stores plan to open this Thanksgiving.

But do not let this small respite this year deceive you.  The retailers are boasting all kinds of “Black Friday” deals and special times of openings on the day after.  And I suspect it will only be a matter of a few years before they start competing again for Thanxgiving Day dollars, opening earlier and earlier until it will seem as ludicrous to be closed on Thanxgiving as Kohl’s found it when they started opening in Lexington at midnight as Thursday turned into Friday.  Now the stores all offer “Black Friday Deals” starting the week before Thanxgiving!

Add to that the constant slowing of the beep-beep of the nation’s heart-monitor as the family becomes more distant and dissected by unmarried young people who, though living together, are divorced from real family relationships that call for commitment and tenacity to maintain the vitality of a tribal identity.  And many people are actually getting tired of the battles for in-person best deals on Black Friday as online shopping has taken off so well over the past two years.

It may seem bleak to those of us who remember gathering with family for all of the holidays past: Christmas at Grandpa’s farm in Paradise, Kansas; New Year’s Eve at a “watchnight” service in a local church that would find people at the altar praying instead of counting down the ball-drop with Dick Clark on TV; President’s Day that combined Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays into one day in February; St. Patrick’s Day parades downtown; Easter with pageantry of the Crucifixion and Resurrection played out by Sunday School teachers dressed in bath robes; Memorial Day when we would decorate the graves of deceased family members; Independence Day with parades and fireworks; the long eventless summer with only family and sometimes a week at camp.  Then the fall would kick off a new season with Veteran’s Day parades and honors for our war dead as we went back to school; Halloween would push us into “THE holidays” with Christmas decorations still in storage until after Thanxgiving Day.

And every one of these “holy-days” were spent with family, whether at a graveside or cheering a high school band in a parade; whether at a church meeting or dressed in Dad’s overalls and washable dots for whiskers for a costume.
We were always together as a family.

But those days are gone, and likely not coming back.  These are not just the musings of a man reaching old age.  It is an observation of the desert of relationships to which society is inexorably moving, and of the times in which we live.

History is reaching a tipping point from which there is no return.   We will not be like gods, the way many are expecting.  From TED talks to Disney productions, mankind has drunk from the devil’s kool-aid, and Father in Heaven is getting ready to say, “That is quite enough of that.”   The devil’s lie is still what it was in the Garden of Eden: “YOU can be like GOD!” (Genesis 3:5)

Whether it is age-defying creams for sale at Walgreen’s, diets to prolong life in Men’s Health or movies that portray survivors of cataclysms (Greenland), humans still want to believe they are limitless.

History is not repeating itself (though it does rhyme); i.e., no century on earth has ever seen the technological and global developments we are witnessing.  At no time in our past have we every reached the 8,000,000,000th person, which ethnographers believe we attained on November 15.  Before our time, no one even expected this until Robert Frolich wrote The P-Bomb in 1968, which proved to be a farsical over-simplification of human resourcefulness.

All indications point to a mark in history soon to occur: the return of Jesus, called the Christ, at which time the Last Age of the Earth will begin.  This is not the fantasy of Hollywood movies, but the trajectory of God’s timeline revealed in the Bible, where not a single prophecy has ever been demonstrated to not occur.  The only ones left to be fulfilled are those that refer to this final chapter of this world’s story.  So gather with your family this Thanxgiving and thank The God Who Is for revealing His love, holiness, grace and truth in Jesus, and for promising to come back and take those who have put their faith in Him to be with Him forever.

If you do not know Jesus, please, please, please, consider praying to Him to invite Him into your life today.  Contact me if you want to know more or to find out how this will radically affect your life, relationships and future . . . while there is still time.

Maranatha, even so, come Lord Jesus.

I’ve been here before: fasting.

Fasting is an intriguing spiritual discipline that I readily admit I do not fully understand.  Thus, though I started to regularly fast several years ago, somewhere along the line I got sidetracked.  We know that God does not “bargain,” as though we could approach Him and say, “Okay, I fasted ‘X’ number of times this month; therefore, You have to do ‘Y’ that I have asked for in prayer.”  We remember that HE is God, we are not, and that He is never under obligation to His creatures.

Fasting does not particularly make us aware of spiritual realities more than if we simply pray with focused attention on Heavenly priorities.  For me, prayer while fasting has never been an occasion of visions or angelic appearances, at least in my very limited experience.  It just makes my stomach growl a little louder than usual, especially after drinking a little water.

Now, I must admit that fasting is not difficult for me.  My body is unusual in this regard, and I hope on an autopsy someday, some researcher will look at my gut receptors and try to find some that would signal appetite, because I have never felt hungry.  Even after going three days without eating (for whatever reason), if someone offered food, it was more a matter of “Oh, yeah, I guess I should probably eat something” than “OHHhh, I crave food sooo much.”  If fasting is supposed to alert us to denying ravenous desires to promote spiritual ones, maybe that is why I have been lax with developing this as a regular discipline.

However, Jesus specifically expected His disciples to fast after He left the earth.  “The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.” (Mark 2:20)  I have addressed fasting before, so will not repeat all of that blog, but to say it is appropriate for a Christ-follower to fast at times.  Specifically, Jesus mentioned fasting in Matthew 6 with a couple of prescriptions: go about normal business, don’t show off, focus on Heavenly things (Matthew 6:16-21).  Like giving and praying, fasting was to be a normal part of a Christ-follower’s life.

Fasting should not be merely a time of dieting or controlling one’s intake for weight control (although that is one obvious side-benefit for us gluttonous Americans).  It should also involve devoted time to prayer, utilizing time usually spent in meal prep or eating to a new routine of praying.  And prayers should be more than merely, “Oh, Lord, teach me to pray.”  We should know how to pray longer prayers than just “Our Father…” or announcing our “grocery lists.”  (See A Catalog of Prayer here.)  Be careful not to get caught in vain repetition.”

Fasting also can involve immersing yourself in the Bible.  In our busy lives, most of us spend every moment in moving from one task to another with very little time in Scripture meditation.  Unlike Eastern meditative techniques that call us to “empty our minds,” Christian meditation is intended to fill our minds with what the Bible teaches, often focusing on Scriptures that we have not yet applied to our lives.  This can overlap with prayer that is simply waiting on the Lord.  “Remember that for the Christian, waiting is not about what you get at the end of the wait, but more importantly about what you become as you wait.” (Paul Tripp, The Gains of Giving Up)

The result of fasting should be to draw us closer to The God Who Is and to His word, and by that to reveal to us what kind of people we should be, where we are not measuring up yet, revealing hidden sin and opening our minds to new commitments that we should make.

There is a danger in any of the spiritual disciplines.  Whenever we focus on what we do rather than on what Father is doing, there is always a risk of marking off a checklist, “There I fasted this week, so I am spiritual.”  This was the major problem with most of the Jerusalem Pharisees in Jesus’ day: they thought that detailed observance of regulations was the way to serve God.  With fasting, there is an additional danger if one is not prepared physically for it.  It is not glorifying to Father when we put our health at risk or damage our “temples.”  Look up Daniel fasts if your body or doctor tells you that you should not do an absolute food fast.  I do not recommend absolute fasting that includes water avoidance.

So I have blogged on this before, but I have never developed the habit to do a “regular” fast, which is what this blog is inviting me to begin.  You probably will not read here about any benefits I experience per Matthew 6:18, but enjoy exploring fasting on your own.  Be thankful to a God who supplies our daily bread and then some!  And let a growling tummy remind you of His blessings and how His steadfast love is new every morning.

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If Jesus Arose from the Dead, Why Didn’t He Stick Around?

Why would Jesus have to go away and send the Comforter, also called the Holy Ghost?
Why could He not stay on earth and daily “prove” that He was the resurrected Christ or Messiah (Anointed One) sent from God to redeem the world from sin?
Could He not hold news conferences to show that He was alive from the dead?
Could He not show His wounds in His hands, feet and side in a continual world tour?  Although He would have a lot of ground to cover!

Consider in history when God DID show up in unmistakable experiences.  He revealed Himself through Moses and Aaron in spectacular fashion to both Pharoah and the Egyptians as well as the Israelite community living in the land of Goshen in northern Egypt.  He led them for 40 years in the wilderness of Sinai (they were not wandering; they followed a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night).  (See Exodus 13:17-22; and chapters 1416.)

And look how often they grumbled against Moses and God who had delivered them!  So much so that an entire generation was forced to die in the desert before their children could inherit the Land of Promise.  Apparently even God’s obvious Presence was not enough to discourage sin in the camp!

In Craig Keener’s book, Miracles Today, he perceptively asks “How much evidence does it take to convince someone [a miracle occurred]?… If I am adamant that miracles are impossible, in principle I might reject any amount of evidence. If I already trust God, I will thank God for even the smallest details of life… God doesn’t do miracles for our entertainment.”

Likely a true anecdote, in the story of Poor Lazarus and The Rich Man (Luke 16:19-31), the rich man is in anguish having gone to hell while Lazarus is comforted at Abraham’s side (a ‘pre-Heaven,’ so to speak).  The rich man begged Abraham to allow Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water to cool his tongue.  When Abraham said this was impossible, the rich man asked if Lazarus could go back from the righteous dead and warn his five brothers, so they could avoid winding up where the rich man was.

“But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” (verses 29-31)

On another occasion (Matthew 12:38-40), Jesus was asked for a “sign” to prove His divine credentials.  “But He answered them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.  For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”  I.e., He was announcing that He would rise from the dead!  This was a frequent claim of Jesus, so clear that His opponents even asked for the sealing of His tomb to prevent a fraudulent claim that He had done so.  (Matthew 27:62-66)

These were people who knew Jesus could heal the blind, restore shriveled arms, open deaf ears and even raise the dead (John 11:38-53)!  Yet, their hearts would not believe, no matter what evidence they saw.  Think logically, and how do you kill someone who can raise the dead!?  Yet that is what they proposed to do.  In John 12:8-11, they even plotted to murder Lazarus because he had been raised from the dead!!  Couldn’t any of them spell “irony” in Hebrew?  How do you kill someone if Someone else can just raise him from the dead!?

“Faith” in the Bible is more than just mental assent.  In the Complete Jewish Bible, the words both from the Hebrew and Greek are most often translated as “trust.”

A little boy was asked to define “faith,” and he said “It’s believing something you know just ain’t true.” 😁  But obviously, that is not the case in the Bible.  Faith is trust; it is accepting the evidence with an open mind and relying on God to do what only He can do – save lost people from hell and give us eternal life.

Let’s suppose for a minute that Jesus DID stay here on earth in His resurrected body.

  1. First, how would He prove that He was really 2000+ years old?  Maybe the history books, all obviously written with His approval, are like claims of Roman Emporers being gods.
  2. Second, how would He prove to ME that He had really died.  If I only live 70-90 years, how do I know that He is not just longer-lived and will not die after me?
  3. Third, how do I know the wounds in His hands, feet and side were not inflicted just before I was born?

In order for ME to believe that He could come back from the dead, I WOULD HAVE TO SEE HIM DIE ALL OVER AGAIN! … unless I trust Him and His followers.  And if I do not trust them, why would I trust Him even if He arose from the dead in MY presence again?

Abraham’s words ring true: “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”  We know this is true because He arose from the dead, and the Pharisees of His time still tried to quash the rumor that He was alive.  Yet they could not produce a body nor show where He was laid, because He IS RISEN!

Jesus knows what is in our hearts, and how we resist the truth as the unbelievers of the first century did.  So He sent the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to woo us, to persuade us, to open our blind eyes and allow us to see the Evidence That Demands a Verdict.  Jesus promised Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  (John 20:29)

Who will you believe today?  Jesus?  His disciples who died rather than admit to a lie?  Or the Pharisees who said, “They stole the body,” but could produce no proof?  (Matthew 28:11-15)

One added feature to understanding how Jesus would have been limited if He had stayed on earth in His unglorified body comes from Jennifer Arimborgo in Peru; a blogger worth following!
https://feedingonjesus.com/2022/09/26/never-lost-in-the-crowd/

The Only “Proof” of the Resurrection

For those who do not remember “Watergate,” this is the name of an office building complex, The Watergate Office Buildings and Hotel in Washington, D.C., where the Democratic National Convention housed its headquarters in 1972.  A break-in, most likely authorized by then President Nixon, set the stage for most of the distrust of government currently rampant, resulted in the only resignation of a sitting president of the US and brings me to “The Only ‘Proof’ of the Resurrection” of Jesus.  The metonym Watergate came to encompass any associated activities surrounding the scandal.  The use of the suffix “-gate” after an identifying term has since become synonymous with political or public scandal, including irangate, travelgate, Reagangate and slapgate just to name a few.

One of Nixon’s “henchmen,” Charles Colson, sometimes called “Nixon’s hatchet man,” was one of the “Watergate Seven,” chief architects of the crimes associated to Watergate and its subsequent cover-up.  He was also one of 48 convictions that served prison time as a consequence and accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior while in prison, penning Born Again from this experience.

Mr. Colson, as he began to minister to others in the US prison system, said regarding his conversion, “I know the Resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me.  How?  Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead; then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it.  Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned or put in prison.  They would not have endured that if it weren’t true.  Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world – and we couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks.  You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years?  Absolutely impossible.”  Born Again by Charles Colson.

Following is a brief overview of how each of the twelve original apostles died as well as other martyrs of the first century.  May this remind us that our sufferings in the US (so far) are minor to compare to the intense persecution and cold cruelty faced by the apostles and disciples during their time for the sake Jesus.  Our troubles are also significantly less than many Christ-followers in other nations where simply owning or reading a Bible can result in arrest and death.  Many Chinese Christ-followers do not expect to live 70-80 years, anticipating that perhaps they will be able to lead some of their prison guards to the Lord after they are arrested and before they die for their faith!

“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” (John 12:25-26)
“If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15:20)

Why do we feel sleepy in prayer, but stay awake through a three-hour movie?  Why are we so bored when we read the Bible, but find it easy to read novels?  Why is it so easy to ignore a Tweet about God, yet forward the latest Kardashian news?  Why is it so easy to praise a celebrity, but so difficult to engage with our Creator?

Next week, I will discuss why Jesus left earth and did not stay to show off His crucifixion wounds to curiosity-seekers to prove His Resurrection.

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Besides the original twelve, this list includes Matthias (elected to replace Judas, the Betrayer), Stephen, the first to die for his faith in Jesus, the apostle Paul (“as one born out of due time”-1 Corinthians 15:8), Mark, the author of The Gospel of Mark, Luke, the author of The Gospel of Luke and The Acts of the Apostles, and James, the brother of Jesus.  These are recorded in Foxes’ Book of Martyrs (except for Judas Iscariot, recorded in Matthew 25 and Acts 1).

  1. Judas Iscariot (who betrayed Jesus):  He hanged himself in suicide over the guilt of having betrayed “innocent blood.”
  2. Peter: Under Nero’s persecution, he was crucified upside-down (~A.D. 64-68).  He requested the inverted crucifixion because he felt unworthy to die in the same way that Jesus Christ had died.
  3. Andrew the brother of Peter: He was crucified on an X-shaped cross in Patras, Greece, hence the name “St. Andrew’s Cross.”  After being whipped severely by seven soldiers they tied his body to the cross with cords rather than nails, to prolong his agony.  His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words, “I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it.”  He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days until he expired.
  4. James the son of Zebedee: As a strong leader of the church, James was beheaded at Jerusalem in A.D. 44 by Herod Agrippa (see Acts 12:2).  The Roman officer who guarded James was amazed at James’ calm as he defended his faith at his trial.  Later, as the officer walked beside James to the place of execution, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James and was also beheaded as a Christian.
  5. John the son of Zebedee: Facing martyrdom, he was boiled in huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome.  However, he was miraculously delivered from death.  John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison Isle of Patmos.  The apostle John was later freed and returned to serve as the pastor of Edessa in modern Turkey.  He died as an old man (~A.D. 100-105), the only apostle to die peacefully.
  6. Phillip: In Hieropolis, Turkey, he was scourged, imprisoned and eventually crucified in A.D. 54.
  7. Bartholomew: Also known as Nathaniel, he was a missionary to Asia (modern Turkey). Bartholomew was martyred for his preaching in Armenia where he was flayed to death with knives.
  8. Matthew: He suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia for preaching about Jesus; killed by a sword in A.D. 60.
  9. Thomas: He was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish another church in the subcontinent (~A.D. 70).
  10. James the son of Alphaeus: He was crucified in Lower Egypt and then sawed in pieces in A.D. 62.
  11. Simon the Zealot: He was crucified in Britain in A.D. 74 for preaching “foreign gods.”
  12. Judas, also called Thaddeus: He was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.
  13. Matthias: The apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot, he was stoned and then beheaded.
  14. Stephen, a deacon of Acts 6: The first martyr was stoned to death, recorded in Acts 7:54-60.
  15. Paul: He was tortured and then beheaded by Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67.  Paul endured a lengthy imprisonment, which allowed him to write many of his letters to the churches he had formed throughout the Roman Empire.  These epistles, which taught many of the foundational doctrines of Christianity, form a large portion of the New Testament.
  16. Mark the author of The Gospel of Mark: He was dragged by horses through the streets of Alexandria, Egypt until he was dead.
  17. Luke: He was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous preaching to the lost.
  18. James the brother of Jesus: As the respected leader of the church in Jerusalem, he was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.  When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies stoned and beat James to death with a fuller’s club, crushing his skull until his brains spilled out.

“There have been times of late when I have had to hold on to one text with all my might: ‘It is required in stewards that a man may be found faithful.’ Praise God, it does not say ‘successful’.”  Amy Wilson-Carmichael, Things as they Are (1 Corinthians 4:2)

I Doubt; Therefore I May Be?

Apologies to René Descartes (ri-nay’ day’-kahrt), the famous French philosopher who wisely realized, “I think; therefore I am.”

2022-07-23 The CosmosVery little in this life is certain.  How long has the earth (or universe) been in existence?  Did life originate from accidental cosmic forces zapping a primordial goo or did an Intelligence far beyond human understanding create life?  When is a conceived baby alive?  How much longer before the coastlines are all underwater or the earth fries?  If CO2 is what feeds plants, why is it bad for the environment?  Does Joe Biden really believe that the best word to describe America is ‘Asufutimaehaehfutbw’? 😁

As young people go to college this fall, more than half of those who attended churches as teens will leave church out of their schedules when they sign up for classes.  According to a Lifeway study, 66% stopped going to church during their college years.

While this may not reflect specifically the number who lose faith in God, it is concerning, because most of those never return to church.  How does a young person maintain faith without a supportive community?  For that matter, how does anyone of any age do that!?

How do they address the doubts raised by sharp and intelligent professors who unabashedly disavow faith and suspect anyone who believes in God to be an idiot?  When confronted with “science” that refutes the Bible or raises questions about some of its record, how can they respond?  What can strengthen them to continue to trust in Jesus when most of their peers are more interested in “hook-up culture” or “hookah” parties?

There are many stories in the Bible that are quite unbelievable . . . from a humanist perspective.  Moses’ command to the Israelites to move forward when the Red Sea was blocking their way presents just one of many stories modernists dismiss as “myths” to tell moral lessons.  Floating axe-heads . . . really?   Three men go into a furnace and come out unscathed without even the smell of smoke on their clothes!?

The New Testament is no different at presenting miracles that defy human understanding.  From turning water into wine to making the lame walk to raising dead people, Jesus and His disciples did the impossible . . . if you believe the records.

But other spiritual leaders also had claims of miraculous events from Guatama Buddha’s instant walking after birth and leaving lotus flowers where ever he stepped to Joseph Smith’s revelation from the angel, Moroni, in a cave to give us the Book of Mormon.  And along the way, Zoroaster planted the massive Cypress of Kashmir he had brought from Paradise to honor a king who believed in his words.  And then Mohammad split the moon in two and could speak with animals before his alleged ascension after an overnight hike of 914 miles (1471 km) from Mecca to Jerusalem.

So what is a “believer” to believe?

Let me encourage the young person heading to college (or anyone, for that matter) to examine the historicity of any of the claims of miraculous phenomena and how the world was affected by them.  A clear and thorough investigation will raise significant questions on the “miracles” of other religions.  Either the historical record is very spotty and very ancient, or the miracles were attested long after their claimants assert they occurred.  And be sure to consider the effect on the world’s societies as you examine these claims.

2022-07-23 The Ring of TruthWhen you begin to research the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, like tuning a crystal glass, there is a distinctive “ring of truth” to the narratives that myths lack.  Add that Jesus’ immediate followers would not deny His resurrection to the point of death, even though most of them died at the hands of persecutors determined to snuff out this nascent faith.  More so, calculate that the effect of Christianity on the world has produced the most and best advances in every area of society from science to philosophy to social structures to democracy.

Doubts are a natural part of faith.  Even some of Jesus’ own followers, at His ascension recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, had doubts.  Realize doubts are not the same as disbelief!  Doubts come in any intelligent mind searching for truth before all the facts are disclosed.  Disbelief is the choice to refuse the evidence.

When you have doubts about your faith in Jesus or the Bible, come back to the Cross and the Empty Tomb!  There is no fact of history more validated and demonstrated than the truth that Jesus arose from the dead.  And if this is true (and it IS!) we can rest assured that what He taught about His Second Coming is true as well.

So when you are off to college (or at any age or stage of your life), when you doubt, return to the Cross and the Resurrection.  There you will find assurance that you have not followed “cleverly devised myths” when you put your faith in Jesus, “and we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

What is the sign of the end of the age? Do NOT be DECEIVED!

“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)

2022-05-21 Do not be deceived

Many people read the words of Jesus following this question, and without looking at what He really said  think false prophets, wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, persecution of Christ-followers, betrayals and lawlessness are the signs of the end of the age. 

But we must pay attention to what Jesus actually said: All these are but the beginning of the birth pains,” NOT the signs of the end.  He provided ONE and only one sign of the end of the age:
“This gospel [good news] of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Mathew 24:14)

Now we do not know exactly what Father evaluates as a “nation” or ethnicity (a more accurate translation of this word, ἔθνεσιν).  Could it include the Sentinel Indians that John Chau was trying to reach?  Nor do we know what the “testimony” involves: someone announcing it on a soapbox or a Bible translation in the native language?

Deception Island's Whaling RemainsIn any case, we should not think that because Russia is invading another country, THIS is it.  The tragic 2015 earthquake in Nepal was not an indication that Jesus was coming soon.  The 21 Coptic Christ-followers that were beheaded by merciless ISIS Muslims was not the end.  The summer riots of 2021 in Seattle, Portland and other cities of the U.S. were not indications of Jesus’ return any more than the Watts riots of 1965 or the Dead Rabbits riots of Irish immigrants of 1857. 

2022-05-21 DeceivedJim Jones was one of many false prophets to flit across our television screens depicting crazy guys who led many people to their deaths when they “drank the cool-aid” quite literally.  He simply followed the path of previous devious leaders like Joseph Smith of Mormon fame and Pope Julius who sold indulgences to enrich the coffers of his organization.  Such wars, rumors of wars, natural disasters and false teachers will continue until Jesus returns.

Jesus main emphasis in describing all this was to say, “See that no one leads you astray!”  He mostly wanted His followers to be careful not to be deceived by miracles and false prophecies.  He laid down a basic principle for future prophecy in John 14:29: “Now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.”  Though this was in regard to specific things coming the next day at His crucifixion, the postulate is applicable across the board for all Bible predictions of coming events.

We need to study the future prophecies of the Bible to have some ideas of what to expect, but we likely will not be able to predict stock market crashes, where the next riot will occur, when the tsunami will break over the Northwest coast or who the Anti-Christ is . . . until he is revealed.  (BIG hint: he’s probably not Donald Trump nor Joe Biden.🙄) The important thing is to keep in tune with the Spirit of God and be able to understand what is happening in the world as it unfolds.  And BE READY!   Scripture (Matthew 24:17-20) suggests events will occur so rapidly that one will not even have time to grab an extra coat!  It will happen as fast as lighting‼️

So what is The Sign?  Tell everyone that Jesus is returning.  Tell everyone that sin is forgivable.  Tell everyone that there is hope, even when the world seems to be reeling out of control.  Tell everyone that Jesus is God, that The God Who Is has revealed Himself in Jesus who died to take away our sins, MY sins, YOUR sins.  Preach this Good News to all the world all the time until everyone has had an opportunity to accept or reject the claims Jesus made.  Then the end will come and the redeemed will be saved, the blind will receive sight, the oppressed will be set free and God’s will will be done in earth as it is in Heaven.

Whatever we believe about the End Times, they will happen according to God’s timeline, not ours.  They will happen according to His plan, not any man’s.  But the End Times will happen. 
Know and love the truth.
Do not be deceived.

Unless You Repent…

2022-05-13 You Will Likewise Perish

Not my words, but the words of Jesus: “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3,5)

Everything in the western church and in churches around the world who have copied Willow Creek, Saddleback or Hillsong radiates love and blessing.  “Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” is the message of hope, relief from pain, provision for expenses, all the health and wealth that comes from living a godly life consistent with Biblical principles.  And up to a point, this happens.

But sometimes I wonder if we are actually applying Biblical principles that we have “cherry-picked” and avoided those that do not make good upbeat Hillsong tunes.

Jesus talked to the crowd around Him who were calling His attention to some Galileans who Pilate had insulted by mixing their blood with their sacrifices.  Some zealots had recently rebelled against Rome and tried to reestablish Jewish rulership in Jerusalem.  When the rebellion failed, Pilate showed Rome was still in charge by desecrating their sacrifices that had been made to Yahweh by adding the zealots’ blood.

But then Jesus expanded the despair of His listeners by suggesting not just human evil but even circumstantial evil: Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?” (Luke 13:4)

His point was that bad things are going to happen, and unless your heart is in tune with the Creator of the universe, you will not understand the events that are coming.

Isaiah was a godly prophet and served Yahweh faithfully.  Yet, when he “saw the LORD high and lifted up” he cried out, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” (Isaiah 6:5)  Then the angel “helped” him by giving him third degree burns on his mouth.

It is not enough to sit back and condemn the unrighteous of our generation: those perverts, those abortionists, those transgenders, those hateful people, those ballot liars, those gamblers, those drunkards, those people who don’t use their blinkers to change lanes.

We must look beyond our own viewpoints and silos of righteousness and realize we are as much a part of the problems of our society as those with whom we disagree, because our hearts… my heart… has not been in tune with Father’s heart.  I am a man of unclean lips.”  Not the other guy, not the protestor, not the deceived.  ME!

Until we see the LORD, high and lifted up, we will not be able to speak to our generation of His ways and compassion.  Unless we repent, we will all likewise perish.

May The God Who Is have mercy on us all.
yours and His,
c.a.

2022-05-14 Repent or Perish

Digital Money – The Point of No Return Approaches!

Two weeks ago, I utilized PKAdams blog for her research on digital money.  This has been an occasional subject for some of my blogs as well:
https://capost2k.wordpress.com/2019/12/14/in-our-lifetime-digital-money-wars/
https://capost2k.wordpress.com/2021/05/22/coming-soon-to-a-planet-near-you-part-3-the-mark/

2022-05-07 The ScreamThis blog is just a warning and a reminder that digital currency will come very soon, not just to China, where they are already rolling out digital yuan in many cities.  Other nations are looking at initiating digital currencies in the near future.

Let’s understand what “money” is.  There is nothing inherently valuable in the green pieces of paper we use in the US for our currency.  The paper, ink and special printing involved to make any bill, whether $1.00 or $1000 (yes, there ARE $1000 bills) are worth only a few cents if you measured it just in terms of the physical properties.

But the special paper, mostly a cotton and linen mix, and the special plates and protected manufacturing process make our bills in the US very secure; that is, they are extremely difficult to counterfeit.  But what makes it worth ANYTHNG⁉️

It is simply the agreed value you and I put on it.  Since the Sumerians in 3000 BCE first started using metal coins instead of bartering with goods and services, every currency developed as an accepted standard of exchange that translates our work, ideas and products into a transferable medium to which we agree.

That’s what makes Munch’s ‘The Scream’ allegedly “worth” $120,000,0002022-05-07 I did that❗  Some idiot with too much money and nothing else to do decided the painting is worth this much and bid at an auction for it.  You and I do somewhat the same thing when we line up at a gas station to pay for gas.  We have decided to accept the value Shell or Sam’s Club has put on their fuel and we pony up, even beside the posters that say, “I did that.” 😁  We agree to a value equivalent to our time, labor or produce and fill up the tank whether or not the President had anything to do with it.

The problems with paper or metal cash are numerous: counterfeiting, loss or misplacement, theft, destruction, to name a few.  Digital money would solve all these difficulties because one cannot counterfeit an account (unless you’re a really good hacker… like the 14 year-old neighbor down the street! 😱)  You cannot misplace it, though you might forget a password.  It cannot be stolen (again, except by the kid on my block).  And there is nothing to destroy… except a few lines of computer code… and we all know how reliable that is! 🙄

Of course, governments can “assist” by guaranteeing theft or loss can be recovered; help desks can aid with password recovery, etc..  Furthermore, you can access your account anywhere in the world with a computer!  So basically, no downsides!  Except SOMEONE will be able to track every transaction from your MacDonald’s lunch to the purchase of a yacht to a donation to a cause, NGO or politician.  NO MORE SECRETS!  For some, this is a step toward utopia or nirvana, depending on your religious leanings: Complete Transparency in All Financial Dealings.

The final glitch in this system is the PASSWORD or CARD used to access your accounts.  Passwords can be difficult to reproduce if forgotten (How did I spell my first grade teacher’s name?) and cards can be lost or destroyed.  Thus, the final step will be either an implant in one’s right hand or forehead or some kind of biometric measurable from one of these two sites in the body.

2022-05-07 Point of No Return

This is THE POINT OF NO RETURN‼️  There is hope for anyone who refuses to get a “mark” to access their account, even if it means not being able to purchase groceries or trade stocks.  There may be an “underground” system of barter available if you know the “right people,” and are confident they will not report you, but it will be sparse and difficult to live without access to your “money.”  Many will be executed for refusing to participate in the new global system once it becomes world-wide because they will be perceived as being anti-social, dangerous and disobedient to government.

How soon?  We do not know, but every indication is that Digital Currency and its point of no return is coming faster than many realize.  When these things begin to occur, they will happen at lightning speed, shining from east to west in a flash!  If you have not prepared your heart and mind for these things, you will be left reeling and afraid.

For those who know Jesus, there is nothing to fear. (Matthew 10:28)  This will just be the beginning of the End Times for which creation is waiting (Romans 8:22).   Pick up a copy of Approaching Hoofbeats by Billy Graham for more on this theme.

 

Before the Resurrection

“As many were astonished at you, his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind.”  Isaiah 52:14

2022-04-16 Jesus On The Cross

Resurrection Sunday came, but not before THIS happened.  Is it any wonder that as a man, Jesus was so strained in the Garden of Gethsemene, that being in agony He prayed more earnestly; His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:43-44)  Hematidrosis is a rare medical condition in which one oozes or “sweats” blood from the skin even thought there is no cut or injury.  Though usually not fatal of itself, it has most often occurred in people as they died or in prisoners facing execution.  He knew what was about to happen.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=125baeLbGvU

Not just the physical torture He was about to endure, but He knew the spiritual battle that we will never see – the acceptance of sin for which He was not guilty, sin that was none of His doing; all the pride, greed, lust, wrath, gluttony, envy, and sloth that you and I have committed; all the hatred, lies, murder, abuse and wickedness that men and women have perpetrated since the beginning of the earth until its end!  He was looking forward to bearing ALL that in a matter of hours.

2022-04-16 Jesus In The TombAnd should we expect God will deliver us from all troubles?  Yet, “God did not keep bad things from happening to God Himself and there is no darkness into which He has not descended.  He knows the texture and taste of everything [we] most fear.”  (Tish Harrison Warren, Prayer in the Night)

Western Christians have become so soft and comfortable that the idea of suffering for Christ seems completely foreign.  Anticipating Sunday’s Resurrection, we glide through the pleasant days before with nothing to mark us but a little ash on our foreheads. 

So many “prosperity gospel” preachers have pounded out verses like Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope,” that we have come to believe any time we have a problem, we can just go to Jesus and He will fix it in a matter of minutes.  They ignore the context of Jeremiah’s encouragement that was in a letter to EXILES“To the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.”  Note, to the surviving elders!  Many had died; many more were taken into captivity in chains or herded like cattle between soldiers on horses.

Yes, it is a nice plan, but the prophet warned it would be 70 years❗, an average person’s lifetime, before God would start working out His plans for their welfare.  And so Jeremiah warned, Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in My name; I did not send them, declares the LORD.”

Friend, if you want an easy life; if you want to avoid controversy; if you want to skate along with the culture, do not become a follower of Jesus!  If you are looking for prosperity and the “wonderful plan for your life” that some gospel peddlers offer, just take up their pitch and rest easy.  Go with the flow when government orders you to do something; obey every rule and do not make trouble.   Remember that the Nazis loved to quote the Bible in Romans 13:1, Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.”   But they avoided Peter’s assertion in Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather than men.”  And after beating the apostles, they let them go.

Stay with me here: the apostles did not go back to their little prayer group or life-affirming friends and say, “Oh, it was so terrible!  Those guys were so mean to us.  Please pray that Jesus will protect us from them and we will never encounter that again!”  On the contrary, they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the Name.”  Then they kept on boldly teaching in the religious government’s headquarters (their Temple) and from house to house.

Are you willing to suffer loss for the sake of following our Lord?  Are you willing to be ostracized as a narrow-minded, anti-science freak?  Are you willing to “Count it all joy,… when you meet trials of various kinds?” (James 1:2) Have you read the Bible, the words of Jesus in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”  This “cross” is not some illness or natural difficulty you may encounter.  “There is something frustrating that occurs on earth, namely, that there are righteous people to whom things happen as if they were doing wicked deeds; and, again, there are wicked people to whom things happen as if they were doing righteous deeds.” (Ecclesiastes 8:14 CJB)

The cross to which Jesus calls us is a choice to obey Him against what your family will call “common sense.”  Your friends will wag their heads and say, “Well, they went off the deep end!”  Even some religious advisers will warn you not to get too radical.  But for many of us, to follow Jesus will mean just that – a radical commitment to a God who was willing to suffer to redeem us.

Oh, and there is a reward, but we may not see it in this life!  Do not be so hasty for Sunday morning that you miss what happens before the Resurrection.  Are you willing to believe in a God who is willing to die for you?  Are you willing to die for a God who will save you?