The Lie, The Truth, The End and Your Choice

“They will say, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.’” 2 Peter 3:4

We are such a short-sighted race, we humans.  There is no distinction here for black, yellow, white or polka-dotted.  After all, God “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth.” (Acts 17:26)  We are all directly related, and should treat each other as brothers and sisters, because that is what we are. 

The Lie
2021-09-18 Serpent in GenesisBut we are also all sinners, because Adam and Eve preferred to believe they had a better idea of how to live than their Creator did.  They believed The Lie with which the father of lies continues to bewilder mankind: God is holding out on you, and YOU can be like Gods.

Some atheists have said, “Well, if there IS a God like Christianity teaches, I don’t want anything to do with Him.”  They drank from satan’s cool-aid and believe lies about God’s nature, His intentions, His abilities, His power, or now even His existence.  Whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)  Or they have listened to false teachers with an agenda of self-gratification, selfish ambition or worse.  Such false teachers are going to their well-earned destruction; do not go with them!

Would you reject a teacher who wants to do good for you, just because one of his students said bad things to or about you?  Do not reject a God who loves you just because someone ‘claiming’ to know Him does something bad!

My heart aches for so many who are separated from The God Who Is, who has revealed Himself most clearly in Jesus, the Christ (or Anointed One).  He does not want anyone to miss the eternal life with joy unspeakable and full of glory, a life without pain or disease or death or separations.  However, He will not force anyone to trust Him – it must come from our choice of who to believe: the devil whose only goal is to steal and kill, or Him whose only desire is to bring more abundant life.  He leaves that decision up to each of us, and no one can force or convince another if they are unwilling to believe.

The Truth
Jesus IS coming soon, and we do not know the hour or the day, suggesting that His “rapture” (or catching away) of the Church could occur at any time.

2021-09-18 The TruthSome refer to the Pre-Tribulation rapture of the Church as a “secret rapture.”  However, according to reliable resources there are more than 2,300,000,000 (2.3 billion) “Christians” in the world, making it the world’s leading religion.  Add that it is the fastest growing religion, most of the new converts coming out of Islam according to Al-Jezeerah in 2020.  Africa and the Middle-East are the fastest growing areas of Christianity, even though the risks of claiming to be a Christian are greatest there.

Grant that some so-called ‘Christians’ are weeds among the wheat, even if only half are true believers in Jesus, the instantaneous and simultaneous disappearance of 1,150,000,000 (1.15 billion) people collected from every nation on earth would constitute a global catastrophe unlike anything the world has ever seen!  And this number could be a significant underestimate because of many “underground” Christians who cannot yet publicly claim the Name because of persecution.  Imagine up to 2,000,000,000 (2 billion) people or more disappearing in the twinkling of an eye!  This would hardly be a “secret rapture.”

The End
2021-09-18 The EndThis would instead be the most ripe situation imaginable for a “Man” to come onto the global stage, and with “ten horns,” or ten major world powers backing him, initiate a global authority to regulate emigration/immigration, establish peace in the world’s worst trouble-spot, Israel, and begin to institute a global digital currency.  This global currency will not become mandated until three and a half years later when this “Man’s” false prophet comes onto the scene to enforce it.

By then it will be too late for tears, wishing you had put your trust in Jesus before this global currency is the only way to buy or sell.  But it will still not be too late to put your faith in Him; it will just be much more costly, because you will not even be allowed to get groceries without a ‘Mark’ that will allow you to do so.  And to get this ‘Mark’ you must swear allegiance and loyalty to the Man ordering it.  Even if the false prophet, charged with excuting anyone refusing this “Mark,’ fails to find you, no one is going to help you out.  But the promise Jesus gives is that some will refuse the ‘Mark” and be saved, though through death.

Your Choice
The Creator of life and all that you see in the universe would do anything to bring you into the Truth if you will trust Him.  But He will not force anyone; He will not ‘prove’ Himself beyond what He has already done by raising Jesus from the dead. 

2021-09-18 The Truth Will Set You FreeThe slogan of several universities around the world is The Truth Will Set You Free.  However, this slogan is not really referring to scientific or mathematical, or even philosophical truth.  It comes from the words of Jesus in John 8:32, where the whole quote is, “If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

My friends, the time is short until Jesus will return.  I appeal to you, that if I am wrong and Jesus is not God, if He did not arise from the dead, if He is not coming back to take us to Heaven, then none of this matters.  BUT, if what I have presented is true, the most important thing in your world is to know Him and be found in Him at His return.

“This I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.  And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him.  Yet He is actually not far from each one of us . . .
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by [Jesus,] a man whom He has appointed; and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead.”
Paul, on Mars Hill, Acts 17:24-30

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)

Guest Blog from Thompson Engles

Thompson is a Christ-follower that impresses me like the sons of Issachar who understood the times and what Israel should do (1 Chronicles 12:32).  This does not mean I agree with everything he writes, but I trust him as a brother that cares for the Church of the living God, and for the lost who need Jesus.  The following is a repost of his most recent blog with some minor edits of British spelling and grammar (I am the Grammar Police and I have a badge to prove it. 😂)  But seriously, his not-so-random thoughts here are worth reading, if for no other line than this: “The protected need to be protected from the unprotected by forcing the unprotected to use the protection that didn’t protect the protected.
___________________________________________________
Random Thoughts on Issues of the Day (Part 4)
by thompsonlengels5484

“The world is engaged in the largest clinical trial, the largest global vaccination trial ever, and we will have enormous amounts of data.”– Department of Health.

2021-09-14 Vaccination

The writer is not a stoic or in any way seeking to undermine the pain of those who have lost their loved ones through Covid. I’m truly saddened by all these. May the God of all comfort, comfort us who are under this crucible of suffering, I, among them.

Welcome to a time before a nightmare. A Gestapo regime is here — “Where are your papers?” Because many will think this is about vaccines, let me set the record straight. If you want to get the jab, by all means, take it! It’s your choice and I’m not going to view you different because you’ve taken the vaccine. No.

My chief contention is on compulsory government vaccine mandates – and the obvious hate passed to the unvaccinated. I’ve been called many awful names when I share my unpopular view(s) during these hard times. I’m not bitter and afraid of any man.

But I’ll not keep silent when something needs to be said. I’ll not, truthfully, follow something that does not make logical sense.

You know, ”fear is an extremely powerful psychological tool, that has been used by politicians always,” notes a holocaust survivor; “the Nazis were particularly adept at it.”

The times we are living in is in many ways carbon copy of what took place before the holocaust. The government, again, as I’ll keep on emphasizing, is not for the people but against its people.

The government is the real virus.

We now have a class of “subhuman” fellows, that is, the unvaccinated. The vaccinated are scared of the unvaccinated. It is the unvaccinated fella, who, they say, is the reason why Covid is still here. “It is not the responsibility of the unvaccinated to protect the vaccinated.” That’s the vaccines job!

Plainly put, The protected need to be protected from the unprotected by forcing the unprotected to use the protection that didn’t protect the protected.

2021-09-14 I Can See You

Again, the issue here is not about vaccines; it is about totalitarian regimes taking place right under our noses. And if we speak against such signs, we’re labelled immediately to be conspiracy theorists. Let me show you how a totalitarian regime will look like, or looks like:

You’ll need to produce papers 24/7. We’ll need papers to enter restaurants, bars, concerts, casinos, conventions and hotels and to board a train, plane or bus. We’ll need papers to enter a supermarket, or we’ll starve to death. We’ll need papers to visit our families. All for the crime of being unvaccinated!

And God forbid, you’ll need papers to go and worship God with other brethren in your local church.

The scary thing about all this is people are led by emotions rather than pausing to reflect on what’s really happening. Others, of course, know what is happening but are scared to speak up. Others fear losing people’s good opinion of them. They do not want to offend anyone, just impress.

Not that we offend because we desire to do so, but because for some things to be heard; we need to say what others aren’t saying. Call the elephant in the room.

I’d not want my children or anyone to grow under the Gestapo’s. Children are now being trained to be suspicious. “They might be infected, they might infect me.” Of course, that’s the Media’s job — to pass out fear! Why? Because fear sells!

2021-09-14 Vaccinaton Lines

On issue of vaccine passports. Again, an absolute desire for a totalitarian survelliance state. It’d be good if folks would care enough and study history. Also, I’d challenge men and women instead of being rushed to forcing men to follow everything the state says, to also take time and carefully be informed.

Do not let the state make you a villain to your own family. That’s what Satan wants — the destruction of families!

Some of you reading this may have a medical knowledge or perhaps, practicing medicine! I’d remind us of the oath you took — to protect lives. Not by use of propaganda and fear.

To the elders of a church and to the brothers of Christ. It is not Scriptural of you to refuse entry into your services a subgroup of society (unvaccinated) based on their medical choice. Only Jesus Christ has the authority to regulate the terms of corporate worship, not the government!

These, in a sense, tell you are to make no distinction between those who call out in faith, either on race or medical choice.

The gospel should be proclaimed to all men — vaccinated and the unvaccinated. Therefore, to refuse members access to corporate worship would be to betray our Savior and openly disobey His great commission.

To members (and also leaders) of a local congregation: Do not coerce the conscience of others. The conscience is one of the innermost expressions that animates an individual, and that allows them to worship God as well as obey a legitimate governing authority.

The conscience is the immediate contact of God’s presence in a person’s soul, and so an individual forced to act in a way that is objectionable to their conscience will never be at peace, either before God or before the state.

A government that endeavors to force or coerce an individual who is striving to honor God will find that they only encounter resistance.

A government should never coerce conscience, but rather respect the important function that it carries in aiding a person to worship God freely and live obediently before the state.

2021-09-14 Heres Looking At You

So then, on issues of vaccines, as stated above, if some  people have made the decision and have already taken the jab, that is their right, and it cannot be abrogated. But those who are not ready, or hesitant, also have their valid reasons why they are not in a rush.

Their conscience binds them to wait, and their Savior advised them not to make decisions before they have counted the cost.

This is a principle of wisdom, that everyone applies to many aspects of their lives.’ The government, or any other corporate body or individual, be it in public or private, should not coerce the conscience of its people.

Neither, I say, should the state or any other person, label those who question these things as unloving. To conclude that is a fallacy devoid of sound reasoning.

You’re wise and know how to apply.

Guest Blog: Dry Bones on Wordless Wednesday

2021-09-01 Wordless Wednesday

Just as in the story of Ezekiel 37 and the dry bones, you may sometimes feel disconnected, lifeless and despairing. But Jesus can bring your life back together. He can make even dry bones dance again.

So, don’t quit. Don’t give up. The One who reassembled the dry bones and got them moving again can do the same for you.

All of us need to be reminded, especially when life seems hopeless, of God’s plan to restore us and give us a second chance — a divine reset.2021-06-19 Tony Evans Signature

Jesus IS Coming Soon. Who Will You Tell Today?

Returning to a theme of Prophecy, it is important for Christ-followers to not take a laissez-faire view of the rapture.  “I’m saved and ready, so I can relax.”  Father will hold us accountable for what we know and do not share with those who need to know.  “Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (James 4:17) 

2021-08-28 Four Lepers

Consider the four lepers of 2 Kings 7.  The Syrian army was besieging northern Israel such that there was a famine, possibly because the enormous Syrian army was taking all the grain and animals that would normally be food for the Jews of Samaria, possibly inflicted by God for the sinfulness of the northern tribes of Israel, led by Ahab’s second son, Jehoram (aka Joram).  Miraculously, God had chased the Syrian army away in a night of confusion and they had left everything in their camp, fleeing on foot.

Since “lepers” were considered unclean and could not go into the city, the four decided to go into the Syrian camp and settle their fate by letting the Syrians kill them rather than die of hunger outside a city that was also famished.  When they found the camp deserted they started taking spoils of war from various tents and hiding their new-found wealth somewhere nearby.  

Realizing that they were blessed and the city was still assuming it was under siege, they went to the gate of the city and reported that the Syrians were gone and everyone could come out and plunder the camp.  Suspiciously at first, the Israelites came into the camp, but when it was confirmed that the Syrians were not laying a trap, the whole city rushed out to grab food, drink and all the goods left behind.

But our focus is on the four lepers.  They realized that they had stumbled onto something wonderful and fearing Yahweh, the God of Israel, they recognized that to enjoy God’s blessing and not share it would result in punishment.  “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the king’s household.” (2 Kings 7:9)

2021-08-28 Saved By GraceFellow Christ-follower, learn a lesson from the lepers!  If we are saved by the grace of God and our faith in Him, we do not have to fear judgement.  However, when Jesus returns to take us who believe in Him to be with Him forever, we need to be busy about our Father’s business.  We have this good news: freedom from punishment for our sins, deliverance from demons of oppression and fear, knowing that we will live forever whatever suffering we may endure here on earth; and to NOT share it would be like those four lepers if they had continued living in the luxury of the abandoned Syrian camp while people in the city continued to starve!

Jesus IS coming back, probably sooner than later.  Certainly, the Second Coming of Jesus to take His Church to be with Him is closer than when Paul, Peter and John wrote about it in the first century after Jesus’ resurrection.  Bible translation into almost every language on earth, global activities of politics and armaments, social structures of developing nations catching up to developed ones, conflicts for which there appear no solutions – all are setting the stage for the “man of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:3) who will attempt to establish a world-wide government, and only allow people with a “Mark” to buy and sell.

All he needs is a global event that will cause so much confusion, chaos and fear that the leaders of the nations of this world will be happy for anyone who seems to know what to do.  This event could easily be the “rapture of the Church,” resulting in billions of people leaving the world in “a twinkling of an eye.” (1 Corinthians 15:52)

“For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-6)

You have the best news the world has ever heard.  You have an anointing of God’s Holy Spirit.  You have the guardianship of angels.  Do you dare to NOT share such good news with a friend who does not know there are provisions that can feed the hungry soul, quench the desperate thirst for Truth, and satisfy the heart with knowledge of the Holy?  “This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us.” 

Who will you tell today that Jesus is coming back and they can come along?  Be ready.

HaHa! Death, So What!?

Again, a diversion from my blogs on prophecy and end times (i.e. eschatology; ); next week.  This came up from a recent discussion with a couple dear friends about death.

2021-08-21 The Resurrection and the Life

Are You Afraid of Death?
Why are we Americans, in particular, so terribly concerned with NOT dying?  Granted I do not look forward to the process of death; disease, disability, reduced physical and mental capacities.  However, death itself will be a welcome relief from the cares of this world. 

Please, do not take this too far.  Christians are opposed to euthanasia and suicide.  These are not in our playbook!  We are the people who follow the Lord of LIFE!  He is the One who has created us, and He made us for His own pleasure. 

However, if following Jesus calls for suffering in this world, James has laid down for Christ-followers this mandate: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1:2-3)  Or if you prefer the KJV, My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”

Do not complain when things are difficult or do not go according to our plans.  Look instead for Father’s hand in how our suffering will lead us to understand the suffering of Jesus more clearly.  Look for the opportunity to represent Jesus to a watching world, differently than the reactions of people who do not know Him.  Look for “peace that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7) to guard your mind against fleshly or demonic influences that will rage against our inconveniences.

And if death is on the horizon for a Christ-follower, we who know the Lord of Life, should be the last to moan and groan, “Why me!?”

2021-08-21 Grim ReaperHow much better to recognize the Spectre with his scythe to collect souls, and laugh at him!?  “O death, where is your victory? O grave, where is your sting?”  This is the victory of LIFE OVER DEATH!  Do we believe Jesus or not when He says, Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.”? (Luke 17:33)  Or in John 12:25,  Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”?

Dying in the Lord
Christ-followers, we have become far too attached to this world when we resist the idea of dying in the Lord.  The apostle Paul noted to a young church,It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.  Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.  I am hard pressed between the two.  My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better! (Philippians 1:20-23)  Of course, Paul left the timing of his departure up to the Lord, but his point here was that death held no fear.  He was laughing at the Spectre’s face!

The fictional demon, Screwtape, when instructing his young protégé, Wormwood, taught,  “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 on earth… You will notice that the young are generally [more willing] to die than the middle-aged and the old.”  (Lewis, The Screwtape Letters)

Have we been fooled into thinking THIS is the life that matters?  Do we really feel “at home on earth”!?  Who would want to spend eternity watching “I Love Lucy” or “Friends” reruns on television, or seeing what Hollywood will come up with next to entertain us?  Do we really want to continue playing video games or working for companies that minimize our contributions in order to maximize profits?  What is THIS life for?  Francis Chan asked, “Do you know that nothing you do in this life will ever matter, unless it is about loving God and loving the people He has made?”

So friend, if you love life, you will love what Jesus offers: eternal life, perfect health, a Home in Heaven more astounding than any beauty this world can show, friends who will never desert you, no more cruelty or death.  Most of all HE will be there, seated on His throne, ever available to hold us in His arms and reveal all that He has planned for us for eternity!  It almost makes one want to die to begin that wonderful LIFE and “be with Christ which is far better.”

But Father has set the times for each of us, and we need not rush it.  But neither should we fear it.  He will call our names and we will rise when He is ready for us.  Laugh at Death and tell him, “Come and get me if my Lord allows!”  Because when we “die in the Lord,” we will live forever with Jesus (Revelation 14:13).

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

 

Intermezzo Guest Blog – Pray for Lebanon

One year after the Beirut blast, a Lebanese Evangelical Christian reflects on the devastating explosion that left 300,000 homeless. by All Arab News Staff, August 4, 2021
How did Christian ministries respond to the crisis then? How should we be praying for the people of Lebanon today?  

2021-08-04 Beirut One Year LaterThe following article was written by a Lebanese Evangelical Christian who lives and works in Beirut but is currently studying in the U.S. Because of the sensitive nature of the political and religious situation in Lebanon, the author’s name and organization are redacted.

BEIRUT, LEBANON – For every resident in Lebanon, and every Lebanese around the world, 6:07 p.m. on Tuesday, August. 4, 2020 marked the darkest day they can recount. Every person on Lebanese soil collectively experienced the largest non-nuclear explosion in history.

The blast nearly destroyed their capital. It killed 218 innocent civilians. It drove more than 300,000 individuals into homelessness. And left an entire nation traumatized.

Whatever you read about this day after the passing of 365 days, and whatever we all try to communicate about the tragedies of what happened a year ago, it is so difficult to explain the heartache of our people. We will never be able to relay the permanency and gravity of the loss, hurt and grief that millions of Lebanese continue to live in while also still living under the same ruling class responsible for the tragedy.

Not much has been done to bring justice to a nation that has been left to bleed economically, humanitarianly, socially, emotionally and politically since then. Facts about the cause of the blast are scarce. The site of the explosion remains an abandoned crime scene that leaves many questions unanswered for the families of the victims and for the Lebanese people as a whole. Most Lebanese who work in Beirut have to drive by that crime scene on a daily basis, reminded that somehow their lives must continue despite the heartache.

Many surveys are circulating across social media platforms about the effects of PTSD on those who survived, about survivors’ guilt, about mental health awareness and psychological support. These questionnaires only try to quantify the grief and categorize it into digestible pieces. But the Lebanese people still wake up the next morning to an ever-deteriorating Lebanese lira, scarcity of fuel, power outages, medicine shortages, and the complete dismantling of their quality of life.

The organization I work with here in Lebanon had offices less than three miles away from the epicenter of the blast. Most of my colleagues live within that same radius of the blast and can share individual experiences of loss on that day.

One team member shares about the miraculous way she was spared by running late to a wedding that she was going to attend less than a mile from the explosion that evening. A number of team members suffered damages to their apartments, and many more lived through the horrifying experience of long hours of survival check-ins from friends and family hearing news after news of whether the people they knew were dead or alive. As one team member explained it so well: “The explosion did not happen at the Beirut port. It happened inside every single apartment in Beirut.” What happened on August 4, 2020 literally extended to each of our team’s homes.

For me personally, it had been exactly a week since I left Beirut to return to the U.S. to pursue further education. I had argued with my dad for days to move my travel date forward from August 4 to July 29. He finally agreed. But if I had not won that argument, I would have been driving along that same route on that same day headed towards the airport.

I still remember so vividly on August 5 that our managing director gave a tearful message while addressing the entire staff as Arab Christians from all over Lebanon came to support the response on the ground in Beirut. It was so encouraging to see this response – it was organic, it was raw and it was difficult because it was the first time that every person working was both a victim and a first responder.

Our organization’s teams spread out across the city to spend the first several days cleaning up debris wherever there was a need. It soon became more evident, however, that our ministry was best positioned to respond to churches that were damaged or destroyed, Christian schools that were affected and any Christian families that were connected to either one of those two categories.

A week after the blast, we organized a team to venture into a new project, assessing material damage that was caused to the apartments of families that were referred to us by church members or affiliated Christian schools. The team quickly noticed that the immediate need was to secure apartments and to try and restore a sense of safety for families to be able to retreat to their own home with a peace of mind that, at the very least, they had a secure front door and that their windows were sealed. Therefore, the first response was to hire contractors who would ensure that all doors and windows of damaged apartments be restored for safety and security reasons. The work had to be done fast as families were pressing through their trauma and leaning heavily on us for emotional and physical support.

One of my colleagues told me a story from those intense days: “During our visit, the wife was in her living room watching TV as she prepared a traditional Lebanese meal for her family. When her husband started telling us about what happened on the day of the explosion, the wife started to get emotional. She got so emotional and repeatedly kept saying how she still could not believe that her husband is alive. She said, ‘He was so close to the explosion, it all happened in a matter of seconds. I called him several times, but he didn’t answer, so I assumed the worst had happened. Two hours later, I was breaking down. Nothing was clear. The whole country was in shock, and watching the news wasn’t giving me any answers. Then my husband called suddenly. I thanked God a million times for protecting him. If you knew how close he was [to the blast] you’d definitely understand what I went through.”

We knew exactly how close her husband’s work was to the explosion since we knew her husband very well. He was only a few feet away from where nearly 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate had exploded, and in the most crowded street that contains many restaurants, shops and old historic neighborhoods.

Every family that our team visited to pray with and encourage had a miraculous testimony of God protecting them. The losses “should have been far greater,” said one team member to me. “When you walk along every street, and you hear the clinking of glass, and see the mass destruction that ripped through an entire city, and that was heard across the country, and realize how the Lord protected so many, you cannot but declare it a miracle.”

A week after the blast – and after seven straight days of picking up glass and salvaging people’s belongings from whatever was left, for 10 hours every day – our team gathered and sang songs of praise in the damaged living room of one family. A team member shared with me that it was at that moment that the tears came rushing through. The shock had subsided, and the tears did not stop. Everyone, however, seemed to come out of the shock and began to grieve at different speeds.

At one point early during the crisis, the founder of our organization prayed with leaders from across the nation to seek God’s wisdom and guidance in how best to make a difference, saying, “We should all allow ourselves to cry, but the hardest thing for me has been my inability to do so. I have been asking God repeatedly, ‘When God? When will those tears come rushing down? When will I truly be able to feel again after this paralyzing shock?’”

Sometimes, not becoming too emotional too quickly was a good thing. After all, with every apartment that our team entered, the more tragic stories we saw and heard.

One team member shared with me his concerns before going in to meet the first devastated family. He said he did not feel prepared to handle what he knew would be the needs because this was a community that was deeply scarred by the Lebanese 1975 war and now has compounded trauma. He was expecting to see resistance, bitterness, rage and a rebellion against God. However, he said that in every encounter it was as if the Lord had gone before them and people’s hearts were somehow ready to give praise to the God of miracles for whatever they had left.

After doors and windows were sealed, Christians rallied to rebuild churches. Schools were repaired and began to function again. But our team of Lebanese Christians from all over the country knew that they were not ready to leave yet. The financial and economic situation in Beirut remains unbearable. Families have not been able to recover since the blast as the economy continues to get worse. We have provided food and hygiene supplies to many families, but there is still so much more to do.

Today, my Lebanese Christian colleagues and I do not celebrate the efforts or accomplishments or initiatives that God has allowed us to be a part of to help those in need after the Beirut port explosion. We cannot because we see so many man-made atrocities and negligence. We are glad to assist local churches, but so many challenges remain here in Beirut.

Still, we do praise God for every survivor, for every story that points to the faithfulness of God who is merciful and who heals. We praise God, not for restoration of windows and doors, but rather of people and souls. Yet, my colleagues and I are still grieving.

We know of three young children who lost their mother in front of their eyes. We know a young man whose only mistake was that he was lying in his bed and died due to the injuries he sustained. It is hard to find goodness in the midst of evil and to see hope in the midst of despair.

Yet, we are grateful that the Lord is working in small ways. We are grateful for the hundreds of families we were able to assist with more than 8,000 packages of food and other essential supplies. We are grateful for the hope that Christian and Muslim families found as we cared for them and showed the love of Jesus Christ in tangible and meaningful acts of service. We are grateful, too, for the residents of the 95 apartments, 19 churches and six schools that our organization was able to come alongside to love, encourage and assist.

Above all, we are grateful for the ways that many other Christians demonstrated Christ’s abundant love, mercy and grace to the people of Lebanon who live to tell the heart-wrenching stories of Aug. 4, 2020, and for the many miraculous stories of that fateful day.

Will you join us in continuing to pray faithfully for the people of Lebanon, a country we love so much?

Life In Abundance, Even In Death

2021-07-24 Fall in Kentucky

“A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” (John 10:10 (CSB))

It always intrigues me when discussing death with some ‘Christians’ that they demur and say, “Let’s talk about something nicer.”  And I wonder, what is ‘nicer’ than death?  True, I do not look forward to debilitating disease or pains and problems of aging, but the end of this life on earth is not something awful for us to fear.  Even in death, there is abundance of LIFE!

The Christ-follower daily faces paradoxes.  Jesus announced very clearly, For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:35)  The “sermon on the mount,” Matthew 5-7, has many of these oxymorons, starting with the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:2-12).  The most pointed of these are the last two: “Blessed are those who are persecuted (?)” “Blessed are you when others revile you (?) and persecute you (?) and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely (?)  What kind of invitation is this to follow this guy!?

Far too many Christ-followers have been sold only half of the bill of goods.  Prosperity preachers abound with promises that if you just buy their books and listen to their sermons, you will have unending health, wealth and comfort.  If things do not work out to make your life its very best, it must be your lack of faith, or something wrong with you, because God only wants to do good for you.

But just thinking of how the love of parents requires them to sometimes do something painful to their children should eliminate any confusion here.  No child ever said, “Oh, goody, I get to have a vaccine shot today!”  But a loving parent will vaccinate their children against DPT (Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus) to protect them from these much more harmful diseases, no matter how much the child may scream.  Love constrains parents to make their children eat their vegetables even though the dessert cake is sweeter.

So, yes, our Father only wants what is good for us.  C.S. Lewis began to understand this as he matured in his trust in God, writing “We are not doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”  And “there’s the rub,” as Shakespeare’s Hamlet said.  The maturity to which Jesus calls His followers is not the nursery school comfort of warm milk and cookies.  It is the challenge to come to Him and DIE so that you can truly live.

The Christ-follower, like Jesus, lives in a culture of life-affirmation.  Thus abortion, the unwilling taking of an unborn child’s life is anathema to His people.  Euthanasia, the execution of those who no longer are “contributing” to society (whatever that means), is also viewed as something more demonic than beneficial.  Suicide, in societies that have honored God’s word, has always been viewed as counter-productive.  Even suffering, when viewed as a means to draw us closer to the One who suffered more agonizingly than we can imagine, becomes life-affirming and a channel for God to bring glory to Himself.  Our rewards will wait, but they will come.

Thus, we are instructed that when we are persecuted, we can move to another place (Matthew 10:23), but not to retaliate against our persecutors, but to pray FOR them (Note: NOT against them).  We are not to fear death or its agencies that try to murder us (Matthew 10:28).  Francis Chan, just as he headed to Hong Kong to set up ministries in Southeast Asia, noted, “It is crazy to me that it is perfectly normal to be a Christian in America and to be obsessed with staying alive.” (February 7. 2020)  Jim Elliot penned in a letter to his bride, He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Someone observed once, that unless one is willing to die for something they can not really live for it.  We who follow Jesus view death not so much as an enemy of life, but as a ferryman who will one day transport us out of his reach.  Following Jesus may involve pain, suffering, or apparent loss in the world’s eyes.  We may lack in comfort or have greater difficulties than those who just go with whatever cultural stream is flowing.  But there will come a day when it will all be worthwhile.

We must not serve God just for His rewards (another blog coming soon), but He does promise great rewards for those who give up their lives to or for Him.  Our confidence in Him assures us that there is nothing for the Christ-follower to fear.  He came to give us LIFE, and that promise is as certain as His resurrection!  There is no historical event more certain than that Jesus arose from the dead.

“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?”  (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)

 

 

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.
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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/