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!

Where Is The Promise Of His Coming? Part 4: God Will Not Send Anyone To Hell.

“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

2021-10-16 I AM GOD“God won’t send anyone to hell, He’s too loving and nice to do that.”  This is an opinion uttered by many who believe God is all-loving and compassionate.  And with good reason: He IS.  However, those who express this view do not seem to understand the depth of His mercy: He will not violate anyone’s free will.  THAT is how loving and compassionate He is.

Many people will articulate this viewpoint in one breath and then in the next condemn someone who has done something they consider wrong, especially if it was done to them.  They do not like the idea of living next door to a witch, a rapist or child-molester, a murderer, or a greedy thief or liar.  How would they enjoy sharing Heaven with one such as these?

There are evil people in the world, those who get pleasure out of watching others suffer.  There are those whose only joy is to feel powerful over another or to use people as their toys.  Many a shoplifter or liar has stolen or told a fib without any need, but just for the delight of it.  These are the ones Revelation 22:15 calls dogs, sorcerers, sexually immoral, murderers, idolaters and practitioners of falsehood.

“But,” they will say, “when they have learned their lesson by suffering for a while in hell, God will let them out.”  True enough.  In fact, God’s mercy is SO immense that if Lucifer, the devil himself, ever apologized and admitted that he was wrong to try to take God’s place, God would even forgive him!  How soon will that happen?  Try never.  The devil is so self-deceived that he continually thinks that somehow, someday, in some way, he will be able to overthrow The Uncreated One.  Even into the eons of eternity he will continue to plot, plan and program what he believes will be his ultimate win: I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:14)

2021-10-16 The LiarIn the same way, those who have believed his lie, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,” (Genesis 3:5) will follow him to their doom.  It is true that if they would learn their lesson, if they would turn from their selfishness, enjoyment of others’ pain, their immorality or greed, Father would forgive them and allow them into Heaven.  But habits are hard to break, and the older habits get, the more set in the avenues of our minds they become until they are unbreakable, even for God.  Thus Revelation 22:11 says, “Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

We see this in the judgements of Revelation 16:9, 11, and 17.  Even when they are facing unquestionable judgements of God, instead of repenting and asking for mercy, people curse God and blame Him as though all the problems being visited on them are HIS fault.  Even then, if they would just ask, God would be merciful, but they simply refuse to see what should be plain in front of their eyes. “They did not repent and give him glory.

2021-10-16 Heaven Or HellThe bottom line is that God will not send anyone to hell.  In fact, He did not even make hell for humans“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no hell.” (C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce)  But God is so merciful, He will not allow anything evil to enter into Heaven.  In His Final Mercy, He will isolate the recalcitrant sinner so they cannot go on sinning, injuring others and themselves.  And that final separation from all others who live in God will be hell.

In this series on The Promise of His Coming, I have presented The Lie, The Truth, The End and Your Choice, details of what The End might look like, and how the enemy of our souls has deceived the whole world with pseudo-science to deter people from believing that Jesus will come again.  It is my sincere hope that someone reading this will begin to investigate: Did Jesus arise from the dead?  What are the implications if He did?  Will He come again?  What will the End Times look like, if not like our present troubles?

There is always hope for anyone, no matter what you have done, how you have lived your life, how ignorant of The God Who Is you have been, how far from God and any goodness you have moved.  All you need is Jesus.  He will forgive; He will restore what was broken; He will give you eternal life . . . if you will receive Him. (John 1:12)

Maranatha, even so, come Lord Jesus.

 

Where Is The Promise Of His Coming – Part 3

“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

As I noted in Part 1 of this series (initially titled, “The Lie, The Truth, The End and Your Choice”) we humans are a short-sighted race.  Peter realized this when he penned the words in his letter about the question that would arise in a few years.  Even in that first century that was as yet to be marked by the life and death of Jesus dividing between B.C. and A.D., philosophies of life already abounded that said nothing ever changes.

2021-10-09 The Real ArkFrom the various human origin stories of ancient times, the central idea of all false religions is that we somehow have to please a god in order to arrive at a state of perfection.  Most people live their lives with no hope of eternal life, but simply anticipate that when you die, you no longer exist or get recycled for another try.  The Great Deluge (whether in the Hebrew tradition or religious myths about a local flood) is now considered an old wives’ tale, so most think the world will simply continue as it has since they were born. 

In the case of the Hebrew story of Noah (see Genesis 711), only eight people survived to repopulate the earth.  By the time Abram arrived on the scene, many had already forgotten the Creation and the Flood story.  Myths about the beginning of human history began to evolve and people began to worship “gods” that had nothing to do with the creation of the world.  Noah and Shem had recently died and language had been confused at Babel, so their story was not getting much traction in the widening world.  Only in Abram’s ancestry was the story of Creation and the Great Flood still told accurately.  Noah’s grandson and Shem’s son, Arphaxad, born two years after the Flood, was the most reliable source for history, although all the generations between Noah and Abram had known Noah before he died, including Terah, Abram’s dad.

Now, removed from the Flood by more than 3000 years, we have come up with new stories to explain human origins apart from any divine power or design.  Who would have thought that a first century prophet like Peter could have foretold of Darwinian evolution and its deceit of the entire world?  Even among many Christ-followers, excuses are made for accepting a directed, but billions-of-years process of selection of microcosmic changes, that have resulted in humans, butterflies, whales and cattle.

Scientific establishments are often the last to continue fighting scientific discoveries.  Copernicus and Galileo were denounced by both the Church and scientists of their day for proposing that the sun was the center of the universe and not the earth.  Louis Pasteur was ridiculed by “modern medicine” for claiming that disease could be spread by bacteria too small for the eye to see.  And in our generation Stephen Hawking and populists like Richard Dawkins refute the evidence for Intelligent Design (ID) that would destroy their ideas that the universe is a self-directed (i.e. NON-directed) cosmos with no Designer.  (Not to mention, more general acceptance of ID would put a damper on their book sales.) 

This is in spite of Darwin thinking that cells were self-contained and very simple machines that could replicate themselves.  Now we understand that the complexity of the machinery, even in parts of a cell, are so extreme as to be unimaginable that all the pieces needed could somehow come together at once, by chance, to make a living thing.  Leave any one item out (of the thousands to millions in each part of the cell), and all you get is a non-living blob that cannot reproduce.  But, of course, the scientific community continues to deny the obvious that the earth revolves around the sun . . . I mean, that life is too complex to have evolved, even over the billions of years that they fabricate to claim that this is exactly what happened.

Most important is the focus of Peter’s argument.  The idea that everything continues as it has invokes the concept that it will keep on continuing, at least for the next few billion years.  Therefore, they reason, there is no need to fear an end of all things the way burlap robed hippies and crackpots warn, carrying signs, “The End Is Near.”

2021-10-09 The End Is Near AdvertiserSo at the risk of sounding like a burlap robed hippie, I will assert again that the end IS near.  Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep.  For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.” Romans 13:11  If this was true in 55 A.D., how much nearer is it today?!

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 3:10

2021-10-09 Poor Easter DramasJesus is coming soon, and in order to be saved all one needs to do is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, repent of sin and be baptized for the removal of your sins.  Then you can begin living a life filled with God’s provision for every need, protection from every danger, and recovery from every disease, even death!  You can live forever, and that will be with Jesus, who loves you so much He would have gone through all those miseries of His crucifixion and lousy Easter dramatizations (😉), even if you were the only one who needed Him.

It is my sincere hope that someone will read this and follow the links and consider that the truth of the Bible will lead to the only life worth living, actually the only life that will live, and that will be forever. 

If one refuses, against all evidence, to believe in the Name of the Son of God, they will not stop existing.  For that person, God who IS love, has reserved a Final Mercy, the topic of next week’s blog and the last in this series, .

Maranatha.  Even so, come Lord Jesus, come.

 

Where Is The Promise Of His Coming? – Part 2

“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

2021-10-02 I Am Not A VirusThe world is becoming more global, communication more instant, money more digitized and immigration/emigration movements more regulated than ever before in history.  Also, alliances are forming that want to eliminate Israel from the map.  New regulations regarding showing vaccination proof are spreading faster than wildfires as nations and communities want to protect themselves against the CCP virus (Chinese Communist Party).  Presently a patchwork of means of identifying who has been vaccinated, the technology is easily in place to document online when and where one gets the shot.  Soon it could be as simple as taking a pill, but the documentation will still be required.
No pill, No vaccine, No entry, No access.

Soon one will need documentation to buy and sell almost anything.  Eventually any transaction will require a government issued “mark” of some kind, either on the hand or forehead.  However, it will not be administered secretly (like hidden in a vaccine 🙄).  It will be clear when you receive this mark that you need it to buy and sell.
No mark, No groceries, No business, No access.

Remember, it is not the Revelation of St. John; it is “the Revelation of Jesus Christ” given to John.  The entire book is from God’s perspective in Heaven, looking at the events on earth.  As such, the timeline is somewhat confusing with flashbacks and foretelling, but to one open the Holy Spirit, it can be clear.

2021-09-25 Just be ReadyEMPHASIS: This is not to predict the next war, earthquake, tsunami or economic meltdown; it is not to read next week’s headlines before they are printed.  Jesus laid down the “Operational Principle of Prophecy” in John 14:29: “And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.” The purpose of studying prophecy is not to amass money or stockpile a bunker for self-protection.  It is to build our faith so as we see Bible prophecy unfold, we will be ready for whatever Father brings into our lives, even if He is bringing our lives to an end.

For the Christ-follower who has “read the back of the Book,” yes, “we win.”  But before we do, there will be trouble in the world, building to a scale as yet unseen in human history.  Never before have we had so many people on earth.  Never before have we had the means of monitoring everyone.  Never before have we had such instant communication around the world in seconds.  Never before has global commerce needed a digital monetary system transferable across national and political lines.  Never before have we seen a coming together of the major factions of religious leaders.

The Gold MineDr. James Christie presents in chapter 7 that there will be a tri-part rapture, or “catching away” of the redeemed.  Explored in his classic text, The Gold Mine, he bases his ideas on an original reading of the last book of the Bible.  By “orginal reading,” I mean he approaches the book as one with minimized preconceived notions of end-time events.  His is an attempt for a “new reading of the book focused on what the text itself says.”   (Page 12)

The first chapter of Revelation emphasized the book’s primary message: the time is near; be prepared.  Compared to Aesop’s fable of the boy who cried, “Wolf, wolf” too often, many have become jaded to the idea of Christ’s second coming.  When the wolf really came, no one believed the boy in the fable and we are being dulled to the idea that there is any truth to the book.  It appears to be just the stuff of Hollywood movies and fantasy.  Ooooh, the anti-Christ, ooooh, 666, ooooh, angels and demons!

Dr. Christie tells us that the Church, those who believe in their hearts that Jesus is the Son of God, will be taken from the earth in a cataclysmic event prior to many events in Revelation.  This is called Pre-tribulationalism, in that the Christ-followers are spared from the troubles to come during the last seven years of this age.

2021-10-02 Horsemen of the ApocalypseHowever, God is not unmerciful and always is open to anyone who wishes to be changed and saved.  Therefore, continued instruction is provided so that those who do not know Jesus at his second coming in the clouds (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11) can still prepare and refuse cooperation with the Beast who will be taking the world stage after the ‘first’ rapture, and fully revealed at the half-way mark of the seven-year “Tribulation.”

Next, Dr. Christie looks at those in Revelation 7 who clearly are saved out of the Tribulation period (Revelation 7:13-14).  This is Mid-tribulationalism.  There is no indication that these have been martyred (killed because of religious beliefs).  The martyred are referenced in 6:9-11, and they are awaiting for their number to be filled, but there is nothing about this group being among those.  Those who are to join these “souls under the altar” are found in Revelation 14:13: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on,” an event immediately preceding the final harvest from the earth.

These worshipers of Revelation 7 may have suffered terribly in plagues called down by the Two Witnesses of chapter 11, who spoke for God for three and one-half years, but they have survived the first half of the Tribulation.  They are very possibly “the cloud” that surrounds the Two Witnesses.  The call from Heaven and events at the ‘rapture’ of the Witnesses parallels well the rapture of the Church in chapter 4.

Finally, after three and one-half years (a time, times and 1/2 a time) of intensive judgements on the earth (Post-tribulationalism), there is one more group who joins the throngs in Heaven: the Jews who have refused the Mark of the Beast.  They have not been able to buy or sell, and the False Prophet has been hunting them down and killing any he could find who refused the Mark, but he may missed some of them.  Again, God is not willing that any should perish, but that all might come to repentance, so there may be Gentiles in this group as well, those who have refused the Mark.

2021-10-02 AntichristThe Beast’s entry into the Holy of Holies in the newly constructed Third Temple in Jerusalem likely opened their eyes to the Truth that Jesus was their Messiah.  In any case, even if the entry to Heaven of this Jewish cohort is mostly through death, they are assured in Revelation 14;13, that they will be blessed, even if it costs them their lives.

Where does that leave us?  As last week, Jennifier Bagnaschi noted, we can prepare for the End Times in a couple of ways;

  1. Prepare to take the Mark of the Beast* with zero chance of making it to Heaven.
  2. Plan on getting decapitated for refusing the Mark.
  3. Somehow, figure out how to make it through seven years of the most dangerous times in history.
  4. Be ready for Jesus Christ’s return.

*It will NOT be called the Mark of the Beast, just as he will not be called The Beast! 😏

Read the Book.  Begin with the Good News (Gospel) of John.  Read Romans, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Revelation. Each one should only take less than an hour in your native language which is probably available at Biblegateway.com.  In English I recommend the ESV (English Standard Version), but any of the Scriptures here will do.

Receive Jesus as your savior by praying and asking Him to come take rulership of your life, starting with water baptism and finding a group of like-minded disciples.  If you need help finding these, just email me from anywhere in the world at capost3k@gmail.com and I will help you.

Jesus IS coming soon. Maranatha, even so, come, Lord Jesus!

See Part 3 on .

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

God Help Us All – Wordless Wednesday

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

Lock down all towns
Everybody slow down
Give ’em everything you have
Mask up, vax up
Get your body trashed up
Better do what they ask

It’s alright, okay
Sorry, but ya can’t pray
Gotta keep the church doors closed
No superstitions
A saint politician
Will tell ya what you need to know

Citizen fools
And brand new rules
Make everyone a hero now
So keep your distance
No resistance
Only do what you’re allowed

Cash that check
Go dance in the wreck
But just don’t speak your mind
Get your facts from the paid contracts
‘Cause never would they tell a lie

They don’t know me
And they don’t own me

Oh God help us all
Look what we’ve become
Oh God help us all
And fix what we have done

See no evil
Bow to the needle
Didn’t we turn out great?
Sick is the new health
Poor is the new wealth
Truth is whatever they say

Expert lectures
Media protectors
Tell me who to love and hate
Jail in the network
Hail to the Zuck-burg
Head down, just behave

Liberty, freedom, angels, demons
Someone’s in control
(Well) no way, no how
I wouldn’t say it too loud
Don’t you know they’re on patrol?

Need more likes
Post up, let’s fight
There’s no way that you’re wrong
Gott listen to the science
‘Cause it’s all about compliance
You agree or you’re gone

They don’t know me
And they don’t own me

Oh God help us all
Look what we’ve become
Oh God help us all
And fix what we have done

Sell my info
Hacked in, don’t know
Show me what I need to buy
Sex consumption, no corruption
Just as advertised

You’ve been labeled
And I’ve enabled
Better apologize
Propaganda
Racist slander
Time to organize

Shot, bang, who’s next?
Brain dead, useless
Show it on the TV screen
Tell me who to vote for
Gotta to start a new war
Wouldn’t want to live in peace

Divide and Conquer
Weak, not stronger
Everybody know your place
Do it now, won’t hurt
Dig into your own dirt
Virtue found it’s grave

They don’t know me
And they don’t own me

Oh God help us all
Look what we’ve become
Oh God help us all
And fix what we have done

Incite violence
Enforce silence
Mainstream message
Won’t you guide us?
You know what is best
For our own good

Anti-this and anti-that
Cancel this and cancel that
Take it to the streets
And the neighborhoods

Worship actors
Food and drugs
Brand yourself
Give them your blood
Don’t believe your eyes
Don’t look around

Fake news, rumors,
Ok boomer
Ignorance will stain our future
Will ya make it through
Or burn it down?

Oh God! Oh God! Help us all! Oh God! Help us all!

~ Five Times August ~

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.
_______________________________________

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/

The Answer Man? – Not Me!

2021-06-12 Struck Down But Not Destroyed
Rick Warren once said, “When someone thinks he knows all the answers, one has to wonder if he knows all the questions.”

When one goes on a date, he or she showers, puts on nice clothes, preens in front of a mirror for a while, checks to make sure teeth don’t have spinach between them, and preps their brightest smiles and best chuckles.  The same goes for blogging.  When we get on our computers, we take time to evaluate our words; we check for grammatical errors, examine links and think seriously about the topic: i.e., we put our best foot forward in both cases (at least most of us do!😏).

We tend to be experts when we get online, because no one can see all the background work we do to make a nice blog.  We check our resources and polish the blog and show off how smart, informed, and perceptive we are.  Most of us try to avoid harsh words or crass language (at least the blogs I follow; too much cursing or four-letter words and I will not follow).

Well, I am not that smart or “together” all the time.  I sincerely try to be nice in my comments or just don’t comment (my mother’s words are still there in my head, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”)

But sometimes I do not “have it all together.”  Depression sometimes surprises me with lonesomeness that makes me feel even the sun is dark, as if I am under a rock wi2021-06-12 Pinnedth no light.  I make solitary time either after my bride leaves our bed, or in places where I can get away from everyone, and I cry. . . And I cry. . . And I cry some more.  So many folks in my family are wonderful and I know that I am loved, but loneliness still stands over me like an angry wrestler ready to push me down and hold me to the mat even after I say, “I give up.”  He won’t let me up anyway.

I am not suicidal (See  ).  As my brother is fond of saying, “That ship has sailed.”  But many times I feel like the days are just passing me by, and I am just waiting either for Jesus to return or for Father to call me Home from this world.  Depression makes you question whether anything you do matters; whether your life matters.

But the bottom line is it is not about me . . . or you.  Life is about Him!

Like the man in John 9 born blind, just as we are all born spiritually blind, “Once I was blind but now I see.”  As C.S.Lewis put it, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”  The world, the universe, the animals, the oceans, the mountains, the people; it all makes sense when I begin with the Cross of Jesus and the Bible.  Rick Warren put it this way: “You were made by God and for God and until you understand that, life will never make sense.”

In no other system, no other world leader, no other religious figure claimed to BE GOD.  And if Jesus is not God, then nothing makes sense in the world, the universe or people.  But sinse He IS God, it all does make sense.  I was born spiritually blind and sinful.  Jesus came to bear the penalty for my sin.  He lived a sinless life and died an ignominious death on a mechanism for capital criminals at the hands of the Gentiles and Jews.  But He rose from the dead after three days and three nights in the tomb.  And now He lives to make intercession for any who will put their faith in Him.  It’s ALL about Him!

I do not intend this blog to be a ‘downer,’ but just to encourage you if you are feeling low, if you feel pressed into the ground by a boulder, or if you fight with the angry wrestler who tries to push you down; perhaps you wonder about your value, your worth, whether your life matters.  It DOES!  You matter so much to God that He sent Jesus to the Cross!  And I know that my Redeemer lives, and THAT is all that really matters.

“I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last He will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold Him, and not another’s.”
  Job 19:25-27

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in YHWH.
  Habakkuk 3:17