Coming Soon To A Planet Near You – Part 1

Earth AsiaThis is familiar ground, if you have been following this blog.  However, “to write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.” (Philippians 3:1)  Some may think my urgency in addressing these issues is because I am facing my mortality in perhaps 10-15 years (more or less?).  Yet, there is no denying the world is shaping up differently in our age in order of magnitudes greater than every other world-shaping event.

Allow me to give you a brief synopsis of the End-Time-Events.  When these events will occur, no one knows, and the exact order of some are uncertain; they could begin to fall into place today, tomorrow, next year, 10 years from now or in the next century, and due to the format of the Prophets and Revelation, these details are unclear for good reasons. (*See below.)

So why worry about them now?  First of all, do not worry!  The testimony of Jesus, which is the Spirit of Prophecy (Revelation 19:10), has told us these things so we do not need to be frightened.  In the 21st century, what will make Christians distinct from the rest of the culture is not what they do or don’t do or shouldn’t do. What will make them stand out is that they won’t be afraid.” (Marilyn Elliott)  But to enter the seasons of our world that will wrap out the end of this age, we need to BE READY

In other blogs, I have noted how quickly things changed on the world scene in history.  The Return of Jesus, to begin the last age of the Earth will happen extremely suddenly, like a lightning bolt, like a “thief in the night” (Matthew 24:27; 1 Thessalonians 5:2).  Jesus instucted us not to “get ready,” but to BE READY. (Luke 12:40)

So here is a synopsis of End Time Events, more reliable than any Hollywood hokum.

  1. At a time which NO ONE, not even Jesus knows (Mark 13:32), He will return to Earth and appear to those who believe in Him and “catch” them away (1Thessalonians 4:16-17). This will be an abrupt global event where every Christ-follower will be “evacuated” instantly and without warning (why we need to “BE READY”).
  2. I suspect, but do not know, that this event will trigger world-wide chaos as huge segments of the nations’ populations will suddenly disappear.  Also, all babies and the world’s youngest children will be gone! (See August 7, 2016 for my confidence of this.)
  3. We know that this will open the door for a world leader (aka Beast) to arise from the people of Earth who will have a logical and rational explanation of this event and recommendations on how to proceed forward. Governments will be in an uproar and global war will begin, but unlike WW1 or WW2, the madness will be nations fighting locally, but everywhere.
  4. We know the economic chaos will be immediate and prices for basic foods will skyrocket. This will bring on a global payment system, developed over 42 months, where money is digitized and one will have to have an account, registered by a “Mark” on the right palm or forehead in order to buy or sell anything.  At the end of the 42 months, this will be mandated.
  5. We know that death will be everywhere as one quarter of the remaining population on Earth will die.
  6. We know that at the arrival of the Beast, two “witnesses” will take a stand against him and they will declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ, miraculously preserved from attacks for 42 months.  Most likely, they will operate from Jerusalem.  At the end of 42 months, the Beast will overpower and kill them.  Their bodies will be on display in Jerusalem for three and one-half days, after which they will be miraculously revived and removed from Earth to Heaven.
  7. We know that the Beast will lead nations in war against Israel, (suspected, but not known to be most likely a Russian-Iranian-Chinese alliance) and subdue Israel.  However, in order to bring international peace, he will establish a Third Temple in Jerusalem, either in place of or along side of Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  He will convince the Arab world, descendants of Ishmael, to make peace with Israel, descendants of his half-brother, Jacob.
  8. I suspect, but do not know, that in this conflict the Beast will be injured with a fatal wound, i.e., killed, but will still survive, which will amaze the world’s inhabitants.
  9. We know that after 42 months, he will go into the new Temple and claim to be the Messiah, the Madhi, the Savior of the World and enter the Holiest Place, essentially declaring himself to be god.
  10. We know that there will be a secondary leader, a “false prophet,” who will arrive at the end of the 42 months and he will perform miraculous signs, even calling down fire from the sky.  He will instruct everyone to worship the Beast.  He will cause “an image of the Beast” to be set up, and will make it appear to come alive.  He will order anyone unwilling to worship the Beast or his image to be executed.
  11. I suspect, but do not know, that this will be the moment when the Hebrews will recognize that Jesus was their Messiah and The God Who Is will remove them from the Earth in another “catching away” that will take them to Heaven.
  12. We know that after the 42 months almost everyone on Earth will give allegiance to the Beast, and buying and selling will be restricted to those with an “account,” indicated by having the “Mark of the Beast” (although it will not be called that, just as “the Beast” and the “false prophet” will not be called by those titles. 🙄)
  13. I suspect, but do not know, that the Prostitute of Revelation 17 and 18, who is hated by the Beast, is organized religion of any brand.  The Beast’s claim to be god and entering the Holiest Place in the Temple is consistent with this.  He will ban all religions in favor of worship of himself.
  14. We know after the first 42 months, God’s wrath will be poured out on the rest of the Earth (except on those refusing the Mark of the Beast; these will be hunted down and executed by the false prophet’s minions).  Over the next 42 months, life on Earth will be horrible, but people will not recognize that the judgments of God are intended to lead them to repentance.  Instead, they will become angrier at God and curse Him, blaming Him for all their self-inflicted troubles.
  15. We know that at the end of this second 42 months the Beast will marshal almost every army and weapon on Earth to fight against Jesus, who will appear in the sky.  With simply a Word from His mouth, Jesus will destroy the armies and their weapons.  The Beast and his false prophet will be thrown into an Abyss for 1000 years, the last age of this Earth.
  16. We know that Jesus will be here on Earth for this 1000 years, ruling “with an iron scepter” along with those who take part in the first resurrection. At the end of the 1000 years, Satan, the Beast, is released for a short time to deceive the world again.  He will muster everyone on Earth who has resented Jesus’ rule and will be determined to make war against those who took part in the first resurrection.  This will be the Final Battle, when Jesus will call down fire from the sky on the Beast one last time. 
  17. We know that The Final Judgement occurs at this time, when everyone who ever lived on Earth is resurrected and we will each give account of our lives and be judged for the sins we have committed. BUT, if your name is in The Lamb’s Book of Life. you are released from the judgment for the things you have done.

There is much more I will say about these events, but one word of caution.  Do NOT be afraid!  To have your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, all you need to do is receive Jesus.  Pray to Him and invite Him to be your Lord, to claim ownership of your life and your decisions.  Admit your need since you know you have sinned, and accept His forgiveness.  He wants to forgive you, but cannot unless you let Him.  If you want to contact me for help, please email me at capost3k@gmail.com.

The following is a list of previous blogs along these lines of the Last Days.
Lastly, check out this free PDF by Dr. James Christie, The Gold Mine.
And I hope to see you in Heaven someday!  Jesus loves you and we do not want anyone to miss Heaven.

 for-what-will-you-be-ready-in-the-end
, be-ready-for
https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2020/september/is-amazon’s-new-hand-scanner-the-mark-of-the-beast
too-little-too-late-but-better-late-than-never
, in-our-lifetime-digital-money-wars
, nearing-the-end
, will-that-be-check-cash-or-retinal-scan
, what-in-heavens-name-can-you-imagine
, the-end-of-the-world-as-we-have-known-it
, the-end-is-nearer
, what-kind-of-people-ought-you-to-be-2-peter-3
, the-last-days-do-not-be-deceived
, corporate-judgment-will-god-judge-america-and-if-so-how-soon

*If The God Who Is had told us Jesus would return on July 22, 2053, how many people would live selfishly until July 21, and then try to “get right with God” on the last day?  And how sincere could their hearts be, leaving them outside of God’s grace?  And what if deaths occurred before then?  By keeping it a mystery, He calls on us to Be Ready at all times, thus developing our hearts and dedication to Him.  In this way we can grow and learn what He is like, what He requires of us, how to really enjoy Him, and to become fully His children.

April SNOW!! The Real Thing! Wordless Wednesday.

Last week, , my Wordless Wednesday was “April Snow? Well, Kinda.”
This week Lexington, Kentucky actually got REAL SNOW last night!  With temps in the mid 40s (5-7⁰C) it will not last long, but it is a beautiful “swan song” to the fierce winter past.  (Proof of global warming, too, don’tcha know? 🙄)
For more thoughts on snow, see , , , and .

My apologies to Aarushi Sehgal, it’s melting too quickly to collect to send any to you!

An Aboriginal Mental Challenge: Can You Read Without Preconceptions?

2021-02-27 G.K.ChestertonG.K Chesterton is the source for today’s blog: a challenge to do some mental gymnastics to discover something we may have been missing.  In his 1925 philosophical tome, The Everlasting Man, the “prince of paradox” presents an interesting challenge: to read a Bible story from an aboriginal mindset.  You see, we have Christmas and Easter, jewelry and architecture, names of streets, cities and buildings and so many myriad additional references in our world to that unique man, Jesus, that it is difficult to imagine anyone anywhere in our global community that does not know something about Jesus.  And depending on the source of that something, our views of Jesus have been significantly shaped by the introductions we have been given, whether from a church, synagogue, mosque, temple, friend, enemy, or Christian/anti-Christian teaching.  And Chesterton contends that much of our view, even in the “Christian west” is significantly distorted.

So I wish to challenge you, as Chesterton has challenged me, to do some mental exercising.  Set your mind as though you have never heard of Jesus, a Christian church, or anything “christian.”  Pretend for this exercise that your only exposure to the divine has been the thunderous clouds that bring rain and frightening lightning; a starry sky at night and the warm and sometimes burning heat of the sun at day; the long graceful hop of a wallaby or neck of a giraffe; the worrisome growl of a bear or roar of a lion; a baby’s sweet coo and cry and the caress of your beloved.

Begin by beguiling your brain into thinking you have never received a Christmas gift or hunted an Easter egg or walked on Christchurch Avenue or stood in front of the spires of Notre Dame Cathedral.  You have never heard of Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, David, Paul or John.  Equally, you have never heard of Aristotle, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammad, Rama or Krishna or Zoroaster.   Add to that, you have never been concerned with politics, social structure or economics; no Communists, Conservatives, Democrats, Greens, Liberals, Republicans, Socialists, Tories or any other ideology for guidance of a nation.

This is a difficult mental exercise, but I encourage you, that it is not impossible.  Settle in your mind that you have never been taught anything about any god or history of creation, whether theism or atheistic evolution.  You have never worried about issues of government or society.  Your mind has been focused all these years on eating and drinking to stay alive and whatever day-to-day activities were required to survive, be at peace, avoid enemies and enjoy your time on earth.

Now, with this mindset, approach a new short book someone has brought you.  Its title is very short, just four letters, L-u-k-e.  If you can find it in its original formatting, without chapter and verse numbers, all the better.  (Chapters and verses were added centuries later to make research and memorization easier.)

However, it is available at a website where you can look up your language in which to read it.  If English is your native language, I encourage you to use the ESV noted in the website connection.  If another language is your “heart language,” feel free to try to find it under the ALL tab when you pull down the languages from the little arrow by the default version that opened.
So sorry, Mongolian is not on the list . . . yet.  But Arabic, Hindi, Punjabi, Tagalog and LOTS of others are there.
Any Gujariti readers here? 😉

2021-02-27 Biblegateway

Now that you have emptied your mind of any preconceptions about this little story, begin with Luke’s introduction to his narrative for his friend, Theophilus.  Read the short biography at a single sitting if you can; in your heart language it should not take much more than 90 to 120 minutes .  Remember, you have never heard of these people, Luke, Herod, Elizabeth, Martha or Jesus before.  Your entire impression of these people will come from your reading this for the first time!

You may want to have a pencil and paper handy, and note what you discover about some of the characters introduced to you for the first time.  Questions are sure to come up, as we begin with no information on the culture or history of these people and events; Why did He say THAT!?  Why did she do that!?  Why was He so rude?  Why did that confuse them?  Isn’t Jesus supposed to be meek and mild? Aha, you’ve slipped from the aboriginal mindset and are remembering something you’ve heard.  Try again! 😁

If you want to dialog about your questions, email me (capost3k@gmail.com) or comment here.  No guarantees I have any answers for you.  Either Tim Keller or Rick Warren wrote (but I cannot find the referemce), “When someone thinks he knows all the answers, you have to wonder if he knows all the questions.”   (Similar to a Confucius quote.)

Here’s to hoping you have a good week and discover who Jesus really is.
Enjoy Peter Hollen’s and Home Free’s a-capella performance of Amazing Grace.

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”  C.S.Lewis

Intermezzo Pics: Snow, Another Night of Miracles

2021-01-28 Snow in Fayette
Another day and night of miracles.  It began snowing late in the afternoon of January 27, and came down in big flakes that made the neighborhood seem almost foggy with the diamond dust.  We went to bed with a lovely light coating on the ground and bushes of about one to two inches, but more came so we woke up to about four inches overall.  The above is from a newspaper report of downtown Lexington in the afternoon.

Below are shots from my back window, with one reflecting our Christmas tree lights that are up until February 1. 😉

As night fell, the snowfall gave a nice one to two inch cover of the ground.  No idea where a neighbor was off too at 8:00pm, but he is experienced driving in snow and ice.  Love what the snow did to his headlamps as they shone on the light white jacket on the road.

While I was asleep we received between another inch to two inches, so in the morning, the miraculous mural of immaculate milk covering the meadows around us was spectacular in the early sunshine.  The view from our bedroom window showed the sun just rising.

On the back porch after breakfast, the sun was already starting to evaporate the snow, but slowly as the temperature was 22⁰F (-6⁰C)!

Out the front of our home, the scene was much the same: alluring alabaster ice everywhere.  The falcon seemed unfazed.

IMG_1981 IMG_1988 IMG_1986 IMG_1990

Out back, the sun was still coming over the horizon, as Anita and I prepared for our morning walk of about 1-1/2 miles (2.4km).

One of our neighbors, like us, still has some Christmas decorations up, which is perfect in this weather!  The walk was cold, but without wind, we actually got warm in our down coats, gloves and hats!

Walking along the blocks around our house, snow sometimes seemed to falling again from the blue sky, but it was just flakes falling from the forest’s fins. 😉  My bride is sooo patient with me when we are walking.

IMG_2017 IMG_2018 IMG_2019

Almost back home again, another neighbor has an interesting “visitor” that looks better in the snow.  Usually Sasquatch is a rusty brown, to blend in with the trees. 🙂  In the meantime, about the time we arrived back home, wonderful gray clouds began to hide the direct sun.  Yeah, I know the blue is gorgeously grand, but no direct sun is good sun.  Sometime I will blog on my reasons for thinking this.  So after lunch, I think we will head out for another walk, about 2-1/2 miles (4 km) this time.

Today we will stay below freezing, but tomorrow warms up to 35⁰F (1.5⁰C) so all my wonderful snow will soon be gone. 😦  Maybe Heaven has a special place for those of us who love snow . . . Saturn’s ice rings? 😉

Intermezzo: It’s A Miracle

2020-11-30 The Miracle of Snow


First Snow Of The Season and it takes my mind to wandering about its miraculous materializing in my morning meditations.

We have a general misunderstanding of what makes a miracle versus what is scientific.  We assume that because we understand a couple of details of a mechanism Father uses to do something, and that He usually does it the same way, well, that is ‘scientific’ and not miraculous.  We have lost the sense of wonder at how God heals disease, restores relationships, transforms personalities, or regulates the universe.

Snow is one of the most miraculous phenomena in the world.  There are so many factors that must be in exact detailed agreement for the cascade of tiny crystals to come crashing to the ground.  Because physicists, meteorologists, chemists and students of many other disciplines have studied, examined, measured and reproduced snow crystals, we think we understand where they come from and how snow happens.

Wikipedia can give you all the details of how frozen crystalline water forms, what suitable conditions are required, how the multitudinous shapes are formed, how they reach a mass big enough to drop out of the clouds, and how the light is refracted through the clear water to become visible, so that the blanket of transparent gems hides the earth in brilliant white.

But it still remains a wondrous miracle that in “nature” all these factors come together at a given moment to deposit the delightful dust over the district.

Sadly, the deeper we go into quantum physics, the further we look through the telescopes into the sky, the deeper we delve into our oceans and below, the more enamored we become of our own brilliance, as if we understand the universe, from where it came, how it is sustained, and what will happen in the future.

But there is a Hand that holds the keys to the storehouses of snow which we cannot see with natural eyes.  He brings the snow out of its storehouses and miraculously gives us a gift of supernatural wonder, if we only have eyes of faith to see more than just crystals of water.

Pumpkin Pie From Scratch (Well, except the crust)

Well, the election confusion cycles on as Biden selects cabinet posts that may never be filled, as Trump pursues a Sisyphean task of trying to convince legislatures and courts that the election was incurably flawed.  We will wait to see how this all pans out by January 20 . . . if neither of the very old white guys dies from old age before then!  (“In a democracy, someone who fails to get elected to office can always console himself with the thought that there was something not quite fair about it.”  Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War)

The coronavirus continues to attack people who attend church services, but seems to give protesters and leftist celebrators a pass.  My wife and I both tested negative for the virus, but also negative for the antibody, meaning we could still get infected if we are not vigilant.  Approaching the “high-risk” age group, we are inclined to take the virus more seriously than some younger friends who have been infected and quickly recovered; even gained their sense of smell back in a couple days.

So I decided to take a day off for Thanxgiving, celebrating with my bride of 31 years.  She cooked up my favorite lamb, God’s own best choice for delicious meat since Noah came off the ark!  This time, it was shank with rice and spinach, with pumpkin pie for dessert.  But the Pumpkin Pie was my creation!   Ingredients to preassemble:

  • 15-16 ounces pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup of dark brown sugar (a 1/2 cup tastes good, too)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (I prefer to go light here, also – 1tsp)
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup (8 fluid ounces) Evaporated Milk
  • 3 medium to extra-large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

IMG_1Ignoring the online advice to use only “pie pumpkins” or “sugar pumpkins” I used the big Jack-o-Lantern pumpkin we had drawn on for Halloween.  “Unspoiler” alert: it works fine and is not significantly stringy if you clean out the fibrous seed network adequately.  This was unquestionably the most labor intensive and hardest part of doing a pumpkin pie!  I separated the seeds from the mush and saved them to roast later.

IMG_4  IMG_7  IMG_10

IMG_17A BIG mistake was cutting the pumpkin into small (1″ to 2″) squares for cooking.  If I ever do this again, I would cut the huge Jack-o-Lantern into eighths or 16ths at the smallest for stove top boiling, because the separating of the meat from the rind took a lot of time and tedium with soooo many small pieces.

IMG_24Covering the pieces with water, I could only fit in 1/2 of the pumpkin in our largest pot.  A better way may be to quarter the pumpkin and bake it in the oven.  In either case, you just have to get the meat soft so it will separate from the rind; about 5 minutes of boiling.  Let it cool and then spoon off the meat from the rind.  LOTs of little pieces to work with, LOTs of pumpkin squares to chill; my mother always called this one photo “cook’s privilege:’ to sample the goods in process.  Cooked pumpkin, just as it is, is delicious!

When you are ready to cook the pies, simply puree the pumpkin.  I separated the puree into 15oz ‘lots’ for pies, and for freezing.  (The puree is good in the fridge for seven days, and in the freezer for four months.)  This is where I recognized there was very little stringiness to the Jack-o-Lantern pumpkin.  The cooked meat blended up very easily with an old hand mixer.  Then I assembled every thing I needed for the first pie.

Add the pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt and cloves to a one-quart saucepan, whisk to combine and stirring CONSTANTLY, cook over high heat for four minutes, or until the mixture kind of boils for about one minute.  STIR CONSTANTLY!!

Finally add the evaporated milk, eggs and vanilla extract and whisk together.

Pour your mixture into the pie crust (Okay, I cheated and bought preformed crusts, because I have never baked a crust before!)  Fill the pie as full as you wish, as it will not shrink significantly baking, nor does it boil over like berries.  Since I had some extra filling left over, I put some into silicone muffin cups and baked along with the pie.  Set your thermostat for 350F and bake for about 35 minutes, in case your oven is inaccurate so you can check it before it overbakes.  If it is precise, you can set your timer for 45 minutes (40-50 minutes is recommended by most recipes; the center should barely jiggle when touched).

The first came out SOOOO good, I got adventuresome and did two at once to save baking time, and to give to friends.  Once I got done making the puree, the rest was a piece of cake . . . or pie in this circumstance.  YUMMmmmm.

Next time, I’m going to try a praline pecan topping or alternate flavoring to the vanilla extract: peppermint pumpkin, anyone?  Or maybe almond or macadamia nut?  Hmm, I wonder what lychee pumpkin would taste like? 😉

It took a miracle.

2018-11-25 Milky Wav Over Devils Tower

Last week () I concluded, “So go ahead and ask me to pray, but don’t expect any miracle.”  But there are some problems we face that will not be fixed without a miracle!  Where can we go with things that seem insurmountable: loved ones who refuse to trust Jesus, church leaders who do not care if they deafen their attendees, friends with progressive illnesses for which there is no human cure; international issues over which we have no say?

Based on John 6:35-69, Jesus may have not been such a wonderful teacher as some surmise.  Actually, He was the best teacher ever, but His discourse at this juncture did not win any trophies or marks for “Best Teacher of the Year” award.  Instead of motivating His disciples to deepen their understanding of what it meant to follow Him, many of them grumbled and argued and turned away.  It did not improve His case when He asked the Jewish followers, for whom cannibalism was anathema, to eat His flesh and drink His blood!

Then He asked the Twelve, His Apostles, “Do you want to go away as well?”  Peter, always quick to spout off, answered for the group: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”   So to whom else can we go?

But when we pray, do we expect a miracle?  When Ken prayed for Yolanda’s baby, wracked with meningitis, maybe some of us did, maybe some of us didn’t (see November 18, 2018).  But the baby was well by the next day.  When we prayed for my 45 year old sister-in-law to be healed from cancer, many shared a sense of faith that a miraculous healing was just waiting for us to see her.  Then she died two days after we arrived.

When Hannah prayed for a child, she prayed for years, enduring the scorn of her neighbors and her husband’s second wife (See 1 Samuel 1).  The high priest, Eli, not the most sensitive guy in the Old Testament, thought she was drunk as she was praying silently with tears.  (Be glad he is not your worship pastor!)  But Father spoke through this haphazard priest and he prophesied that her prayer would be answered with a resounding Yes from God.

How do we pray and not doubt as we are instructed in Matthew 21:21?  We must pray with the same faith Hannah had, trusting that God will answer in His time with either a Yes, a No, or a Wait, even if our hearts are breaking as we wait.

The faith we have to exercise is the same as Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, better known by their Babylonian monikers, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego.  Faced with certain doom from the king’s fiery furnace if they did not worship his statue, they answered his charges, If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)  Trust God without compromise.

So go ahead and ask me to pray.  I am not holy or specially good that He has to listen to me.  There is no magic connection or unusual power in my prayers.  But if you want me to share your burdens, ask me to pray.  I will just talk with The God Who Is Here, a constant Presence (See ) who keeps reminding me how inadequate and incompetent I am without Him.

And you can talk with Him, too.  Anyone can (Acts 17:27).  And you might experience a miracle.

John Peterson’s song has been on my mind a few days, but rather than offer one link to Youtube, here you will find four renditions, from acapella to reggae.  Enjoy whichever one touches your heart.

It Took A Miracle By John W. Peterson

My Father is omnipotent,
On that you can rely;
A God of might and miracles,
‘Tis written in the sky;

Chorus
It took a miracle to put the stars in place,
It took a miracle to hang the world in space,
But when He saved my soul,
Cleansed and made me whole,
It took a miracle of love and grace!

Tho’ here His glory has been shown,
We will not fully see;
The wonders of His might and throne,
Until eternity!

The Bible tells us of His pow’r,
And wisdom all way through;
And ev’ry little bird and flow’r
Are testimonies, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am the man.

Not a brag or claim to specialty.  Partly confession, partly simple statement of fact.  I am the man. (See July 30, 2017 for You Are the Man; the same opening caveat applies.)

As you begin reading this, let me ask you to take three minutes on a timer and do some imagining.  Use your smart phone, watch, or an egg timer from the kitchen; seriously, go get it and set the timer for three minutes.  Seriously, I’ll wait.

Egg Timer.jpgDuring these three minutes pretend you were born blind.  Imagine your daily routine and how you arrived at it.  Your alarm goes off and you reach for its place; you rise and find your way to the bathroom where in complete darkness you locate your razor to shave; the toothbrush to brush your teeth; the toilet to use and clean yourself afterwards; the closet to find prearranged clothes so you don’t mix some plaid golf pants with a bright orange shirt; to breakfast where you have to fix an egg or toast . . . all in the dark.  And the day goes on, completely as shadowed as it begins.  Now take three minutes on the timer and imagine life without seeing.

This was the life of the Man Born Blind in John 9.  Before the age of convenience where we have everything from psychology support systems to social agencies and medical care workers to tend to the young blind, this man was put as a boy at a roadside near the Temple every day to beg.  “Just hold onto your cup and shake it when you hear someone walking by and keep one hand slightly covering it so no one can steal the money you get without you knowing it.”  At the time of this story he had spent more than 40 years, day after day, in a prison of blackness whose source could not be determined: “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2)

You can read the story there.  Even if you were born blind, now we have Braille Bibles.  No such luck in Jesus’ day.  His only interaction with people was the occasional clink of a denarius or maybe copper coins into his cup and conversations with family and donors and the few friends he had, most of whom were handicapped and set by his road to beg, also.

Then along comes Jesus leaving the Temple, and makes some mud with his spit to apply to his eyes, and instructs the Man Born Blind to find his way to the Pool of SiloamPool of Siloam and wash his face.  Most likely a friend or family member led him by the hand (or did they use the crook of their arms the way we lead the blind today?)  In any case, he washed and for the first time in 40 years he shielded his eyes from the high sun!  With dirty rivulets on his cheeks, he looked at and saw his friend who had led him to the pool!  He viewed for the first time the pavement he had walked on blindly for 40 years!  HE COULD SEE!!  Now where was the man who had made the mud?

This caused no small commotion around the beggars.  Even people who recognized the Man Born Blind argued over whether it was really the same guy.  “The guy we know is blind; this cannot be him.”  How easily we let our preconceived notions of what people are like contaminate the reality of what Jesus can do to them.  But to their questioning the Man Born Blind asserted, “I am the man.” (John 9:9)

Then the religious do-gooders and seriously righteous got involved.  Criticizing his Healer did not settle well with the Man Born Blind.  “Whether [Jesus] is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” (John 9:25)   Confused with how God’s judgment, certainly on a man for his apparently in-utero sin, was changed, they concluded God used a sinner to heal.  They even were giving in to the idea that God had healed on the Sabbath.  When confronted with their inconsistency, they simply got down and dirty to name-calling and pulling rank, throwing him out of the Temple, probably with warnings never to set foot in it again!  No grace, no thanxgiving for a blind man’s deliverance, no mercy for a man who had experienced God’s mercy.  Just “Get out of my Temple and stay out!”

Childs RockerI, too, was born blind, thinking I could see.  At three years old I sat by the child’s oak rocker my mom and dad had purchased for my brother and me.  Playing with my toys as they watched some television, I began to imagine things that somehow felt wrong, but fun.  In a moment, I was pulled from my reverie to realize Daddy and Mommy were sitting over me . . . and as I looked at them watching tv, I was struck by the epiphany that all they could see were my toys; not my thoughts of what I was imagining.  I could indulge in anything in my mind and no one could know unless I told them.

Of course, I was blind to the truth that Jesus had taught: “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed or hidden that will not be known. Therefore, whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light.” (Luke 12:2)  So for much of my life I expected my thought life was mine alone.  Never intending to harm anyone, I still did lots of things that were harmful to many.  I will not disparage the truth of Scripture, so I will concede to Paul the title “Chief of Sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15) but have to figure I run a close second.  Maybe it is his active participation in murder that prevents me from first place in the Hall of Shame; mine was only facilitative participation in an abortion, which some do not even consider murder.

But then Jesus came by as I sat in my sin and degraded state.  Begging for mercy from anyone who might show me a little, I encountered a Mercy like no other.  First from Anita, then Pastor Keith Carlson, then others, but most of all from HIM.  People saw my blindness and covered my eyes with grace and told me I did not have to die for my sin; Jesus already did that, and I believed and was healed.

I am the man.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.  (John Newton, former slave trader)

Next week, , let’s talk about specks and logs.

Where Was God When I Fell?

Where was God when I fell two weeks ago ()?  Just having written blogs about being aware of His presence in everything we do (August 20, 2016August 28, 2016) I actually had pictured Him beside me as my sister-in-law and I made our way to the Golden Bear Bridge bears for one of my favorite pictures: me atop a statue.  So I was “practicing the Presence.”  But where was He when I dismounted and put my foot out into thin air so that I flew to port and crashed into a guardrail post, breaking my back in several places and ruining three more days of hiking in the forests, not only for me, but for my wife and sister-in-law?

Each of us at one time or another has probably asked this question, some with more and others with less profundity:
∗ Where was God when my puppy died?
∗ Where was God when my cancer was diagnosed?
∗ Where was God when I was abused?
∗ Where was God when my infant son died?
∗ Where was God when the bombs fell?

My nickname for Him has been “The God Who Is There” because that is what He is; but perhaps I should call Him “The God Who Is Here,”  because He is not just housed in a far-away-Heaven.  He is ever present with us, in all places and all the time.  He was by my side as I climbed the golden bear, He was at my elbow when I stepped out into thin air, He was whispering into my ear when I thudded against the guardrail support.

You see, the real question is not “Where was God?” but “Why did He not do something?”  Could He not have ordered angels to prop my foot at the right place?  Could He not have “floated” me down to the ground?  Of course, He IS God, and could do any number of things to prevent me from falling or suffering injury, so why did He not do something?

The Bible is filled with stories of God’s interaction with us and if you’ve followed Jesus for long, your life probably has its own stories of His supernatural intervention, a miracle or two.  Mine does.  But what makes a miracle special is just that: it is special for a special purpose.

Consider when Elijah came on the scene in 1 Kings 17 to prophesy a coming drought to wicked King Ahab.  He was then told to go to Zarephath in Lebanon, about 200 miles north of Shechem, the Israelites’ capital.  There at a widow’s house, God would miraculously provide him food through the drought.  Acting as the agency for this miracle meant the widow and her son would also survive the three year drought that left many dead.

Later, Jesus recalled this story to His critics when He pointed out that there were many starving widows in Israel, yet God had sent Elijah to a Lebanese widow; He also noted the many lepers in Israel at the time Elisha, Elijah’s successor, was working miracles, “and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman, the Syrian.”  (Luke 4:25-27)  Sometimes God does not behave in ways we think He should, and that takes some getting used to.  We must remember HE is God, and WE are not.

God created a universe with sensible order, not one that was subject to magic spells or deific whims.  There are times when He decides the “laws” of physics need to be ignored for His purposes, like the instant healing of a lame beggar (Acts 3:1-10) or the opening of prison doors (Acts 5:17-26).  However, most of the time He allows us to live in an orderly universe that is logical and consistent.  And if I choose to step off a statue into thin air, though mistakenly thinking I would step properly, God will not usually change the location of the statue base, the direction of my foot, nor the consequences, beyond what could be understood without faith.

His purposes are not thwarted by my injury, and in some ways may find fulfillment by my ineptitude.  Consider the interactions we had with the doctors and staff at Sutter Coast Hospital.  On one occasion the physician’s assistant came to my room while my sister was on speaker phone, praying for me.  Now my sister knows how to pray, as do many members of my family.  But Jacque is one of the best prayerers.  She takes you right into His throne room and you know where you are.

I glanced nervously at the PA, in that I did not want to annoy him, but I certainly was not going to interrupt my sister’s audience with The King.  When she had finished and we turned our attention to him, instead of expressing exasperation, he commented on how the prayer had moved him!  Later this opened a dialog about faith in God and what it means to follow Christ.

The graciousness of my sister-in-law was in full view throughout this episode as well.  Afraid she would be upset by the curtailing of her hiking in the forest, I apologized, to which she replied, “It’s not your fault, c.a..  Accidents happen, that’s why we call them accidents.”  Later she thrilled me with a comment about how fortunate we were to have God by our side!  Hmm, maybe I should ask her if she saw Someone I did not when I fell.

So where was God when I fell?  He was there!  Right by my side, running to my aid with my sister-in-law, comforting my wife as she drove us to the hospital, opening doors for the growth and sharing of our trust in Him.  Yeah, He was there. 😉

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”  ― C.S.Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Next week () I’ll suggest some answer to Lex Luthor’s accusation against God:  “If He is good, He cannot be all-powerfuI; if He is all powerful, He cannot be good.”

Do Babies Go To Heaven?

Baby Sick Pi cI stood by the bedside of the two month old infant girl in 1975.  She was unconscious from the sedatives the doctors had prescribed to calm the seizures that were occurring from her encephalitis.  Her mother was a lovely young Navy mother, but the strain of the last two days was evident in her unkempt hair and bags under her eyes from a sleepless night and hours of crying.  The doctors were “realists” who did not mince words about the little girl’s risks.  She could develop epilepsy or dysphagia if she survived the fevers that were wracking her tiny body with 105-107 temps (40-42C).  If they could not get the fevers down, she might die.

The three of us standing around her were gowned and wore masks and gloves as the cause and contagiousness had not yet been assessed.  The minister with us placed his hands on the febrile child and commented on how hot her body felt.  He asked God very directly for a miracle in Jesus’ name; to heal this infant and remove the encephalitis; to allow this little girl to grow up with no side effects of having the disease; to comfort the mother that it was in no way her fault her daughter had become ill.

The minister and I left eventually as the mother sat by her daughter’s bedside for the evening, planning on sleeping by the child.  The next morning the pastor called me to ask if I would go back to the hospital with him.  He had received an excited call from the mother after the doctors’ rounds.  The infant girl was well, feeding and showed no evidence of fever or the disease that had molested her the last two days!  Baby Well PicWhat a joyous celebration was going on when we arrived.  One of the doctors seemed a little cross, looking for someone to blame for a misdiagnosis, but the techs and nurses, as well as other doctors were very clear.  They had not erred. This was the same girl.  Yes, the tests were on this patient.  Somewhere in the night a Greater Physician, unseen, had visited the little girl and cured her.  Someone once said, “Second-hand miracles make doubters of us all,” but for those of us who had prayed by her bedside the day before, this was no second-hand miracle.  We had been given a front-row seat to our miracle-working Savior.

Fast forward three decades and a five month old boy was lying in a hospital NICU.  Most of his family were believers; many friends were praying in homes and churches whenever they met; several pastors had visited the hospital and laid hands on the child and prayed for healing.  But on May 5, 2005, this first-born little boy left his mother Baby tombstone.pngand father to weep and try to understand where God had gone; to wonder why Jesus had not healed their precious baby boy; to bury a child, which is perhaps a parent’s greatest grief.  I wondered why would God heal the little girl so beautifully and allow this amazing little one to die?

We do not have all the answers to the problem of pain and the reason The God Who Is There sometimes responds with miraculous healing and sometimes not.  But we have assurance of the Bible that babies who die will be reunited with believing parents when they meet again in Heaven.

Some argue about baptism of infants or salvation of pre-lingual children as though God would send an “innocent” to hell.  First of all, the children are not innocent.  Just babysit a one to two year old group of children and watch “original sin” in action!  Infants and toddlers are self-centered, thoroughly selfish, completely oblivious to fairness or justice, greedy and merciless, have no regard for others and no respect for life.  To say, “of course God will save children” will not suffice.  Given the inherited sin nature there is no “of course” about it.

Others will note that the Scripture makes no reference to an “age of accountability” that evangelicals like to invoke when discussing the death of a child.  It certainly does not teach the moral innocence of children, but demands training to lead a child into wise paths and righteousness.   Charles Spurgeon said, “We believe that the infant fell in the first Adam, ‘for in Adam all died.’  If infants [are] saved it is not because of any natural innocence.  They enter heaven by the very same way that we [adults] do: they are received in the name of Christ.”  There is simply no other way to Heaven, but by the blood of Jesus, called the Christ (Acts 4:11-12; 1 Timothy 2:5).

So you may ask, from where does my confidence come that babies who die will be reunited with Christ-following parents?  Spurgeon quoted the first half of 1 Corinthians 15:22.  The whole sentence says, For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”  It is an unqualified claim that has no allowance for exception. It is categorical and absolute!  Yet we understand clearly from the same Bible that not all are saved at the judgment (see Romans 2 and Revelation 20).

Therefore we must use the rational thought processes which God has given to understand this.  Simply ask yourself, “How did I die in Adam?”  We are found guilty before a perfect God for being born of someone who had sinned.  The sin nature activated at our conception makes us guilty.  It is a corporate guilt based on our genetic association and predisposition.  And it is in this same way that we can be made alive!  It is a corporate forgiveness based on Jesus’ position as the Second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45-49).  So Paul could tell the Romans, Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.” (Romans 5:18)

Resurrcetion 1This is why Paul became so excited as he went on to say, “but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (Romans 5:20-21)  Where the corporate guilt of my involuntary participation in Adam’s sin is covered by the corporate forgiveness of my involuntary participation in Jesus’ resurrection, His grace and mercy extends past the corporate sin and guilt to my personal choices of sin that result in an even guiltier verdict.

Though there is no “age of accountability” mentioned it the Bible, the concept is clear in the Scripture to which we have been referred.  All of us died because of Adam.  All of us are saved from eternal death because of Jesus.  But at the point I take initiative to disbelieve in Jesus, to choose my own way over what I have learned to be right and true, I am no longer saved under corporate salvation, but need my own salvation.  I have to turn my life over to Jesus and make a conscious decision to trust Him for my salvation, and watch His grace abound even more!  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 6:23)