Two Destinations – An Almost Wordless Wednesday

“For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. But the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”  Jesus

Europe Is Burning – Only A Portent of What Is To Come – (almost) Wordless Wednesday

Pray for Europe!  Wildfires in Europe’s forests and grasslands as of July 19, 2022!

2022-07-20 Europe is Burning

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” (2 Peter 3:9-10)

How to Pray When Someone is EVIL!

I have often wondered how our worship songs always reflect on the mercy, the glory or the forgiveness of Father for our sins, and neglect the “imprecatory psalms” that call for justice or destruction of those who refuse His grace. (To imprecate is to invoke or call down curses, as upon a person”.)  A recent article in Christianity Today sheds some light on this idea, and I seriously doubt we will see many songs like “I Will Sing Unto the Lord” coming along again, “the horse and rider thrown into the sea,” sometimes cheerfully sung by children.

No one seems to be writing Psalm 109 hymns for the worship team:
8May his days be few; may another take his office!
May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow!
10 May his children wander about and beg, seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!
11 May the creditor seize all that he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!
12 Let there be none to extend kindness to him, nor any to pity his fatherless children!

And perhaps this is okay, in that there are times we tend to excuse our own inclinations to vengeance, when it is God who is the Judge, not us.  In these times of polarization where even families cannot gather because of differing views on everything from masks, vaccines, border control and anything political, it may be more vital than ever that we focus our worship times on God’s mercy for the undeserving… like me.  Remember “Standing in the Need of Prayer?” 😉

2022-07-16 The Woman Caught in AdulteryIn line with this, often our reluctance to condemn the guilty is lodged in our own guilt because we do know we are not without sin.  Like the accusers in John 8 who wanted to condemn a woman “caught in the act of adultery” (so where was the man who was also committing sin???), none of us wants to cast the first stone, knowing that we have been just as bad.  But it leaves a sour taste in our mouths when someone does something so heinous that we would never do (or at least we think we would never do).

Then we feel justified in condemning the sinner, and therein lies the deceit of our enemy.  OUR tendency is to condemn the person, more than the action.  And that is the reason Father tells us to leave vengeance up to Him!  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  (Romans 12:19-21)

But what we do in reaction to a person’s sin can be quite apart from how we pray for a person caught in sin!  Leaving the actual judgement up to Father does not mean to ignore the sin, and we may even be called to justify or condemn an action based on the Law, not on our personal guilt or absolution.  Jury duty, anyone?  If we absolve a criminal driving offense because we have been guilty of the same, we abuse the law intended to protect us and others from criminal effects.

However, this is very different from personally attacking the person who has violated the law.  Rather, it is allowing the law to proceed as it was intended.  And it should serve as a warning to us to not abuse that law… again.

And this is very different from participating in national or tribal action against one acting criminally as in warfare, but that is a subject for another blog someday.

Anyway, I thought you might do some introspection on the theme of this article from CT, Go Ahead. Pray for Putin’s Demise.”  It is less “imprecatory” than the title suggests. Good reading in the magazine when you subscribe.
https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2022/march-web-only/prayer-ukraine-russia-putin-imprecatory-psalms.html
And check out these acapella Amish boys reminding us how holy Father is!

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

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?

Are You Ready for What Is About to Happen?

2022-04-09 If the world hated me it will hate you“If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours.” John 15:18-20

In the western world, dominated for over a century by the USA, religious liberty has been one of our rock-solid principles, delineated in the Constitution of the United States, in the First Amendment.  It was not, as many have portrayed it, a “separation of Church and State,” but rather a constraint on government to not regulate religion.  However secularists and those with aberrant religious views (e.g. Church of Satan, etc.) have modified the principle of the first amendment to mean that no religious views… except that of the secularists… are to be tolerated.

Aberrant religious views from Jim Jones style cults to some mainline churches have contributed to this confusion by making absurd claims and trying to defend themselves with the First Amendment.  Claims by religious “organizations” that investigations by government agencies constituted intrusion into “Ecclesiastical Abstention” muddied the waters so that sexual abuse or drug use that was condoned or tolerated within an organization could be hidden from public scrutiny and legal consequences.  Now, the “public good” is at stake when someone claims “religious exemption” from vaccination, and those who truly believe they should not be vaccinated are left struggling for an argument that will hold up in court.

All of this is to say that views that were once mainstream in America are soon to be considered deviant and dangerous.  Marriage, universally and trans-culturally, has always been between a man and a woman, as is Biblically mandated.  A child was a human from conception historically in almost every part of the world.  Gender followed the science: if you have a penis, you are male; if you have a vagina, you are female.  Espousing these views now is labeled as homophobic, patriarchal, anachronistic and damaging to others who disagree.

2022-04-09 Päivi RäsänenThe recent court case in Finland where Päivi Räsänen was charged with “hate speech” for sharing her faith-based views on marriage and sexual ethics, in a 2019 tweet, a 2019 radio debate, and a 2004 pamphlet ended well… so far.  The prosecutors may appeal.  But the fact that she and a bishop of her church were faced with having to defend what they believed to be Biblical teaching under threat of fines and imprisonment is telling; this in a country known best for its limited government and respect for basic human freedoms.

Here in the USA, we still have a large voting block that is “Christian” in name, but lacking in the zeal of previous generations of believers.  And the tide continues to turn, especially as globalism goes “global.”

The privilege and freedoms associated to being a Christian in a “Christian nation” are going to evaporate faster than snow in the Arizona desert.  In their place will be lawsuits (think Jack Phillips), job losses (the Navy finally had to allow religious exemptions over the government’s protests), and ostracization by those who claim moral superiority based on cooperation with a secular view of history, biology, and culture.  And this is the world that either hated or did not care about Jesus.

When Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” he was admitting to his lack of perception that there was a right and wrong.  To him, there was only political expedience and this life, one of getting whatever one can and enjoying the ease that comes with advancement in the world’s systems.

If you are a Christ-follower, you need to be thinking about what it may cost you in the near future to identify as a disciple of Jesus.  When laws are passed allowing “abortion” to be committed up to 28 days AFTER birth, when a man can go into a public restroom that your wife wants to use because today he claims he is a woman, when you are challenged to state what you believe in the middle of a PTA meeting about evolution, what will you do?

Make no mistake.  We are not called to take up weapons of the world, but we must be prepared to identify ourselves as followers of Christ.  Many pastors and churches are still teaching so much about the love of God that they are about to miss the opportunity to call their congregations to follow Jesus in His suffering.

Paul invited the Philippians to this fellowship that most Americans would find strange: “Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith — that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
(Philippians 3:7-11)

We want the love and protection of God; we want to be able to walk through fiery furnaces unharmed; we want the prosperity and blessings, but we hate the idea of suffering for the sake of Christ.  But that is what some of us will be appointed to; to bear the Name before a hostile world that will persecute us.

This is already true in most of the world.  More people have been murdered because of their stated belief in Jesus in the last 100 years than in all the 1,900 before combined!  Prepare your children, your grandchildren, your nephews and nieces and any that are coming behind you!!  We must be ready for what is certain to come.

Be warned, as the apostle Peter said, Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”
(1 Peter 4:12-17)

One Minute Past Midnight

2021-12-31 One Minute Until MidnightThere is something sobering about getting a couple phone call messages, texts and emails from your favorite doctor concerned with your latest lab results, especially on December 30, so close to the year’s end.  Sobering, but not frightening, as it may be for those who do not have hope in Jesus.  I know where I am going and I know the One who knows the way. (John 14:1-4)

All six of my strokes since 1999 have been ischemic (clot) strokes, meaning my body likes to throw coagulated blood at my brain.  But getting a lab result that suddenly and without warning shows one’s ‘blood-thinning’ medication makes you at significant risk of a hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke is cause for concern.  No changes in diet, no alterations in activities, no travels to strange lands (like Norway 😉), no deviations in sleep nor major stresses; so why the drastic change in medical results that two weeks ago were fine?

Suddenly my mortality faces me like an impressive off-season Halloween costume, trying to scare me by telling me I could have died this week if a significant blow had struck me, or I had fallen with just a simple trip on the sidewalk.  But the Spectre does not alarm me; death has lost its victory; the grave has lost its sting because my life is hidden in Jesus, the Christ, and nothing will happen to me that my loving Lord does not allow for my good, even it the event is to take me Home. (1 Corinthians 15:50-57)

So as 2021 comes to its finale, I consider the New Year’s Resolution I made in 1969 at 18 years old and have faithfully kept every New Year: “Resolved, I will never make another New Year’s Resolution!”

This is not to suggest that we should not look back at the fading year and evaluate what we could or should have done differently.  Nor does it mean that we should not plan some improvements and developments in the approaching New Year.  However, as noted on , most resolutions do not make it to January 31!  And none of us has any guarantee of tomorrow, much less the whole year ahead.  Whether one runs like James Fixx or manages one’s food with self-control like Ang, there are no warranties we can claim any more than righteous Job.

Thus, I encourage you at this changing of the days to consider your life: its value, its impact on others, its final destination.  And walk in fear of The God Who Is, one who loves you more than we can grasp in this life, and who has revealed Himself most clearly in the God-Man, Jesus. (Hebrews 1:1-3)

Then you will not fear when the clock turns to midnight, just because one minute after midnight you could find yourself in His arms and in His kingdom in Heaven.

2021-12-31 One Minute Past Midnight

Happy New Year to all who are reading this, and with all my heart I hope to meet you someday around the Throne of God to praise Him together.

yours and His,
c.a.

___________________________________________________

A Prayer of Moses, the man of God; Psalm 90

1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3 You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of Adam!”
For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past,
    or as a watch in the night.
5 You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
    like grass that is renewed in the morning:
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.
7 For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed.
You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.
9 For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
10 The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.
11 Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you?
12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
13 Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
    that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
    and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us;
    yes, establish the work of our hands!

How Will You Spend Your Dash?

A blogger friend relayed a poem that was read last week at the funeral of the late Senator Dole who left this world after he had completed 98 years on earth.  It is enough for this blog, near the end of the year, to weigh in on considerations of “How Will You Spend Your Dash?”

2021-12-11 Senator Dole

The Dash Poem by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
From the beginning…to the end

He noted that first came the date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years

For that dash represents all the time
That they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
Know what that little line is worth

For it matters not, how much we own,
The cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So, think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile,
Remembering this special dash
Might only last a little while

So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash…
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent YOUR dash?

2021-12-11 The Dash Matters