Thank You for the NO.

“God must often seem to us to be playing fast and loose with us.  The adult must seem to mislead the child, and the Master the dog.  They misread the signs.  Their ignorance and wishes twist everything.”  (C.S. Lewis)

I am such a small creature with such limited understanding.  One of eight billion – 8,000,000,000!  And some demographers estimate we are half of the total population that has ever lived since Adam and Eve, 16,000,000,000 in all.

News reporters should not be allowed to use words to describe such large numbers.  Does it not seem easier to accept that our national debt is $31.12 trillion than to read our national debt is $31,120,000.000,000.00!?  And it is growing by over $2,000,000,000,000.00, two trillion, per year or $5,480,000,000.00 per day!  When you see $5.48 billion it just seems to not bother us so much as seeing the numbers stretching across the page.

However, I am writing about people today, not money.  Eight BILLION is still a lot of people.  Think of the crowds in which you have been numbered.  You may have been one of 50 or 100 at a church or social club.  If your church is a mega-one, maybe you were one of 5,000.  You could recognize your children across the large auditorium and even see them wave to you.

Then you went to a concert with 25,000 attendees, and suddenly you could not find anyone you knew beyond those within earshot, maybe 20 feet (3.5 metres) away.  A large crowd gathered in Washington, D.C. for a special occasion and the news outlets estimated your “group” was over 500,000 or maybe a million (1,000,000).  All you could see was a “sea of faces” bobbing up and down, looking literally more like a lake than a mass of human beings. 

So eight billion (8,000,000,000) are LOTs of faces!!  And each one has his or her story; each one is troubled by a relationship or blessed by a colleague or family member; each one has had physical and emotional pains, and each has had offers of peace if he or she would take them.  Each ONE.

Thus, when we ask God for a parking space and one suddenly opens up, do we accurately conclude the Creator of the Horsehead Nebula actually paid attention to our desire for a few minutes’ convenience?  Or could it have been coincidence?  Does the One who designed your DNA and spangled the universe with galaxies really care if your bird or lizard or dog dies?  Would He not have more important things which require His attention?

When the apostle John encountered The Son of Man in Revelation 1, he was so overwhelmed by this Person that he totally blacked out and had to be revived.  This revelation of Jesus continues through chapters 4, 5, 7, 13 and 19 to 21 and HE is amazing!  He is beyond our full comprehension!  The difference between us and an insect seems less than the difference between us and HIM!!  He is more than our small minds can digest, and then we wonder why He sometimes does not jump when we say, “Do what I tell you to do.”

Yet, Jesus, Himself said that Father numbers the hairs of our heads!  Such a mind with such vast power and yet such perception of the details!!  So when we do not get the “answer” we demand from this Creator, we should not be dismayed, and conclude, “See, God does not exist because He did not do what I want.”

He knows; He understands; He cares more than we can grasp and loves you and me, us two out of 8,000,000,000 (or 16,000,000,000 depending on who you are counting).  He knows and loves YOU more than you can imagine.  So trust Him.  Though he seems to be playing fast and loose with us, simply trust Him, believe in Him and receive His gift of eternal life.  Then, someday, we will know fully even as we have been fully known.  And thank Him for all things, even when He says, “No.”

Boiled Frogs and Insidious Cooks; CBDC’s Warming of the Water

You may have heard about the way to “cook a frog.”  I do not mean frog legs, or actually cooking for consumption, but cooking for the purpose of killing.  As the story goes, if you drop a frog into very hot water, it will immediately jump out of the pan and scramble away as fast and as far as possible.  BUT, if you gently set the frog down in cool water and very gradually increase the heat, it will sit there almost smiling until its heart stops beating and it dies.  Now, before PETA or other animal activists start protesting in my neighborhood, allow me to clarify, I, personally, have never done this nor witnessed it done.  Never in my house!  However, videos on YouTube (gotta watch it to the end!😉) suggest dropping the frog into boiling water will immediately kill it, and in the other case, unless the heat is VERY gradually increased, the amphibian will jump out as its thermoregulating nerves signal danger, even though it is cold-blooded.

Whether there is truth in the tales of cooking frogs, the illustration holds for the truth that gradual degradation of society is much more effective than revolution in changing what the general public believes.  Revolution may change a society’s politics or governance but will do little to change the standards of morals or beliefs of the culture.

A 23-year-old I knew in the early 80s thought the end of the world was approaching when he reported his employer would no longer issue his paychecks to him at the end of the week, but would directly deposit them into his bank account!  Old hat, we might say.  After all, that was over 40 years ago.  In fact, I remember as a child seeing the first Master Card commercials and my parents thinking “The Only Card You Will Ever Need” was pure evil!

A decade ago pressure was building to use paperless billing, and direct deposits and direct payments to various businesses was all the eco-rage.  Electronic transfers between accounts were assured to be more secure than writing checks or paying cash, and think of all the forests we could save!

Fast-forward to the current age, and Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) will get all the attention soon.  It will make financial record-keeping very simple; no need for cash or risk of getting mugged . . . except the thieves could steal your access card and PIN (Private Identification Number).  But the record of every transaction would be almost self-regulating.

The problems with cards are that they can be stolen, you can lose them, or they can be damaged or forgotten.  The simple solution will be a biomarker that will be unique to you, maybe a fingerprint or iris scan.  Facial ids on phones and other tech gadgets are gradually warming the water for us so that this will seem the next logical step.  Of course, then there are the stories of fingers stolen or pushing a dead man’s eye up to a scanner that make exciting theater for spy movies.

But overall, CBDCs promise is to be safe, secure and most importantly, convenient.  They will almost eliminate money-laundering once they are the most common form of currency.  They will guarantee that if your access is somehow forged (Lost another finger!? You need a new neighborhood! 😱), the government will make sure your “money” is restored.  And, easy!?  You can travel anywhere in the world, and with simplest computer access, you can reach into your account no matter where it is based.

As I type this, once the ongoing trials are over, we will see CBDC introduced in America as an option, the way the Chinese are initiating their digital yuan [¥] (or renminbi [RMB]) to several provinces.  It may take many years to make CBDC in America the “law of the land” that must be used in lieu of other media of exchange including crypto currencies and barter.  However, watching China will provide an index for how quickly the US could move as we become more dominated by an autocratic leadership, whatever party holds the White House or the Congress.

This is a major step in The Great Reset, a socialist globalist plan to transform the world economy guided by the “brains” of the World Economic Forum.

So what has this to do with our spiritual welfare and our ability to follow Jesus?  A great deal.  While concludes his article about the ABCs of CBDCs with several “I don’t knows” and that no one can predict the future, what he fails to see is the Biblical narrative that CBDCs are all precursors to a global monetary system to be invoked by a Man that the Apostle John referred to as “The Beast.”

2023: The ABC’s of CBDC, the Great Reset(s) & MORE Centralized Control

VERY importantly, we must recognize that no one can be secretly given The Mark of the Beast, even though it will not likely be called that, just as the Man will not be called The Beast.  He will deceive people into taking this Mark based on his economic policies and the world’s crises that will make his global policy look inviting.  But it will be only by one’s choice that they will subscribe to his system and receive his Mark.

The next step in the process to get us to a global monetary system is to use CBDCs in various countries, eventually to include all 193 nations of the world.  Watch for more advanced nations to assist third world countries to do this.  Thus, accepting a CBDC in any country, even using biomarkers to access your account, will NOT be taking the Mark of the Beast.  No one can inject it into you, nor can it be administered without your knowledge.  But there are “insidious cooks” who are warming the water, whether Klaus Schwab of the WEF, Xi of China, Congress or Presidents of the USA or any financial advisors assuring you that CBDCs are “safe, secure and convenient.”

Love the Truth, both the concept of it and the Person who called Himself that, and you can rest assured that you will not be deceived.  Refuse to love Truth in any form, and it will leave you warming up to becoming a boiled frog.

Guest blog by B.G. O’Neal: God Will Turn It Around!

As we wrap out another year, let me encourage you with BG O’Neal’s blog of encouragement.  I also hope with Jews around the world who proclaim each Passover: “Next Year in Jerusalem.”  Perhaps we will attend next year in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21).  So as we end this year and move into 2023, consider where you are on your faith journey.  “When we all come to die, does it make the slightest difference which political party we belong to?  Does it matter whether we are rich or poor, learned or otherwise?  There is only one fundamental distinction, and that is whether we belong to the world or to Christ.“  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones)
Even so, come, Lord Jesus, come.
I’ve added some graphics and an additional YouTube link.

by Flip Side – Word Up, BG O’Neal 

We live in a most precarious time when trust seems to be pendulous. It feels like so much is just hanging in the air. There are so many variables to consider. Oh, the look on sad ashen faces! It is like a generation lost. And we thought we had it so bad growing up in the 50s to 70s.

How does a person, young or old contend with the affairs of this day? Political unrest! Church attendance! Divorce rates! And sadly a society that loves to escape to fantasy! Be whatever you feel like! Be a furry, be a dog! That may provide a temporary mirage of an escape. Wait until you get treated like a dog!!!

A dog’s life is not always about being loved and cared for. Sometimes they get abused, starved, killed. What about just being what your loving Creator, “Yahweh,” made you to be? Man up! Woman up! No wonder the world is so forlorn, so torn, so sad! But are we praying for our world, or do we seek only our own good?

Please realize that we are not alone in facing the issues in our world. The same rain falls on us all! The same sun shines on us all! We all have to deal with life! We all face the same perplexities. They have not changed much but rather intensified: suicide rates; political unrest; a broken economy with unfathomable debt!

So many broken marriages. Unemployment on the rise! We live in a lazy co-dependent society. Lack of customer service and disrespect is one of the results of a godless society. Anger and hatred against God and Christ is rampant! Have you ever seen such rudeness and ignorance? It’s sad to say that these same attributes exude from our pulpits at times! No wonder there is so much anxiety in the world!!!

I know it seems that I have painted a very bleak picture. However, there is hope! God was in Christ reconciling the world back unto himself. This same Jesus is still the way, the truth, and the life! He is the Savior for all who accept him. As the song says, “The only real peace I have dear Lord is in you!” You also can have that peace of knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior!

Accept him today and be filled with the Holy Spirit who gives true peace. Life will still be tough! Things will at times be difficult to understand! You will make it through your trials! And oh, the joy that God gives!!! The ‘pseudo’ happiness the world offers is just that! Fake! Would you now consider praying and seeking the Lord for salvation?

Let God turn some things around for you. Experience His grace and mercy! Rest in his ever abiding peace and love! Listen to the heart cry of the Psalmist in this passage below:

“I’m worn out with my weeping and groaning. Night after night I soak my pillow with tears, and flood my bed with weeping. My eyes of faith won’t focus anymore, for sorrow fills my heart. There are so many enemies who come against me! Turn from me, all you troublemakers! For Yahweh has turned to hear the sound of my weeping. Yes! Yahweh my healer has heard all my pleading and has taken hold of my prayers and answered them all.” Psalms 6:6-9 (TPT).

 

 

Advent: What Will Happen Soon

Advent, a Latin-borrowed term for something that is coming into view, is mostly used to refer to Jesus’ first arrival on earth the first Christmas day.  However, in church history the birth of Jesus did not get a lot of press or attention.  Some Christ-followers even disdained its celebration as too aligned to pagan Saturnalia practices of ancient Roman days; a festival of debauchery associated to the winter solstice, when the days begin to get longer after the autumn’s longer shadows have stretched the night to its maximum.  The Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock fame actually made Christmas celebration illegal for their colony.

“Advent” in its current incarnation, refers to the four weeks prior to Christmas, celebrated by most Christians as December 25, though the actual date of Jesus’ birth is unknown.  Each week is commemorated with a special focus of a blessing that will come into the world with the “coming of Jesus.”  Hope, Peace, Joy and Love are the four themes, usually marked by the lighting of candles and recitation of Scripture on these ideas.  These practices of Advent probably began sometime before 400 C.E. and were established as a church practice by the second Council of Tours in 567 with monks being required to begin a regular fasting schedule from December 1 to the 25th.

Some churches will rearrange the order of the themes; some substitute Faith for one of them, and some add a fifth candle, The Christ Candle, for lighting on Christmas Day.  In any case, this is not a Scriptural design, but serves as a reminder to Christians of various themes of Jesus first time on earth.

However, when the Church began celebrating the Advent season of Christ’s birth, the focus was not so much on fuzzy good feelings of the commercial season we now see.  Rather they were laser focused on how He came to begin the process by which He wouldjudge the living and the dead,

Evangelism was not shrouded in anger and antagonism at sin and heretics, but joyful communication of the recognition that God would set all injustices right; He would heal all diseases; He would establish His throne on earth to rule in love and holiness.  What He began with His first Advent would end with His glorious return; thus, the judgement of Jesus was part of the Good News!  The judgement day was not about gleefully consigning neighbors and the mass of non-Christians to eternal hell, but about helping anyone with a heart for good to participate in Jesus’ final victory over Martin Luther’s “three cosmic enemies of Christ,” sin, death and the devil.

In antiquity Christ-followers cared little about Jesus’ birthday but focused on two other major events in space-time history: the Resurrection and Jesus’ Second Coming, i.e., His Advent back into the world for the second time.  He specifically warned His followers to beware of false “christs” (anointed ones) and to avoid setting a date for His return.  (See Matthew 24.)

When Jesus left the earth, angels reaffirmed that He was not gone permanently, but would come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”  The disciples, some 500+ of them, waited in Jerusalem for His promise to send the Holy Ghost.  This occurred 50 days after His resurrection on the Day of Pentecost, and the New Covenant He had instituted with His apostles at the last supper was initiated.  Under His direction they were to tell everyone that Jesus is the Son of God and will forgive the sins of anyone who repents and follows Jesus.  They proceeded to fill Jerusalem with this message, spread it to all Judea, reach out to Samaria and eventually to the “ends of the earth.”

We are there – the ends of the earth, about as far removed geographically as one can get from Jerusalem, the exact antipode being somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.  And this message is being translated into almost every known language on earth, so that this Gospel (good news) has reached nearly the whole world, precipitating Jesus’ second coming.  Keep in mind that of the languages in which Bible translation has not begun, many have access to Bibles in similar languages to their “heart language” and many are very small ethnic groups.   Wycliffe Global Alliance estimates 6,000,000,000 people have a full Bible available with another 22% having partial translations, meaning 97% of the world’s 8,000,000,000 have access to the truth of the Good News!

Now regarding this “Second Coming” there is a lot of confusion.  Jesus was intentionally vague about “the day and the hour” because He did not want someone to think, “My master is delayed,” (Matthew 24:45-51) and slip into selfish behaviors, ignoring that our Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6) knows our hearts at all times (Psalm 139:1-16).  There were even those in the first century C.E. that believed Jesus had already returned (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4).  And so confusion continues today, whether Jesus will return at the beginning of a seven-year period called The Tribulation, in the middle of it or at its end.  But of this we can be certain: “the day of the Lord WILL come.”

Do you believe Jesus was who He claimed He was?  There is no getting around the idea that He claimed to be THE Son of God.  He was not just some nice philosopher with some gentle teaching.  If you read the Gospels, the first four books of the New Testament, you will be struck not only by how egalitarian He was among the Jews and Samaritans (leftovers from the Babylonian captivity), but by His egomaniacal claim to be One with God.  Even His enemies recognized this claim and in fact, was the basis for their intention to crucify Him.

So this year, as you sign Christmas cards or fill out ecards online, as you put up your tree or outside lights, recognize that Jesus’ first Advent was just a precursor to another Advent that will joyously tear the fabric of space and time and usher in an age of the earth such as we have never seen since the Garden of Eden.

Marantha, even so, come again, Lord Jesus.

CBDC – Faster Than You May Expect

Recently this blog warned of persecution coming via Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).  This will make the Respect for Marriage Act look like protection of religious liberties. . . which it is NOT!  In a previous blog I noted how President Biden authorized any and all government agencies with a vested interest in a CBDC to explore the actions required to launch a United States CBDC if doing so is deemed to be in the national interest.”

When did a government ever invent a program that it then dumped?  Just search for “obsolete federal programs still on the books” in a search engine and watch the boondoggles your computer will find!

So now, just eight months after executive order 14607 was signed, the NY Federal Reserve is rolling out a test of these actions.  “The Federal Reserve Bank of New York and major banks will launch a three-month test of a digital dollar in hopes of studying its feasibility.”  (The Washington Examiner)

“Citigroup, HSBC Holdings, Mastercard, Wells Fargo, [BNY Mellon, PNC Bank, TD Bank, Truist, and U.S. Bank] are the [nine] financial companies participating in the experiment alongside the New York Fed’s Innovation Center, they said in a statement. The project, which is called the regulated liability network, will be conducted in a test environment and use simulated data, the New York Fed said.”  (Reuters)

The U.S. dollar will be represented as tokens and transactions will be settled through simulated central bank reserves on a shared multi-entity distributed ledger.  This pilot will be conducted in a test environment and the participating parties have stressed that this experiment is not intended to advance any specific policy outcome or hint that the Fed is planning to make any big decisions about a central bank digital currency in the near future.  😉 Wink, wink, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” 😨 (Ronald Reagan)

As noted, the US is behind the curve of other countries, so much so that there is discussion about whether the dollar is becoming less important in international transactions.  If we fall behind advancing nations like China, India and …Jamaica (??😳) the dollar will lose its slot as the world’s reserve currency!  The rise of the Euro and China’s Yuan increasing presence in the global economy all feed into this idea.

China has tested its digital yuan in several provinces, and the currency is even available to users on the popular app WeChat.  It recently added four provinces to its list of regions for the CBDC trial.  Nigeria also launched a digital currency, the eNaira.  The governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank said it was responsible for more than $9,000,000 (in USD millions) in transactions in the past month.  Earlier this month, France, Switzerland, and Singapore jointly conducted a trial for their digital currencies, one of the first of its kind.  These cross-border trials are also an important agenda item in CBDC development as one of CBDC’s promises is to expedite international trade between financial agencies.

A news release referred to the experiment as a “proof-of-concept project” in which the largest banks in America will work with the Fed’s New York Innovation Center to simulate digital money representing the deposits of their own customers and settle them through simulated Fed reserves on a distributed ledger.

Of course, this is all for our own good: Safety, Security, Convenience!  Those are the three catch words that will be used to draw us in.  If you know you are not a bad person, but you enjoy convenience, it will be tempting to say to yourself, “I have nothing to hide.”  Are you living a “sustainable lifestyle” and helping to fight alleged climate change?  Do you support government views on race, abortion, marriage and even democracy?  Are you a team player?  If not, your participation in society may be affected.  Although financial institutions claim a digital dollar boosts speed and convenience, the real motives are surveillance and control.

This is exactly how the recent vaccines were rolled out, through coercive policies enforced, not just by governments but by their corporate partners.  John Kerry, at the COP27 conference in Egypt said that this is the model that can be used to enforce compliance with the sustainability agenda being pushed by the United Nations and its myriad partners in the private sector, headed by the World Economic Forum.

Once digital programable money is in place, you may not get to spend your money on certain things and may be limited to certain areas of commerce.  A digital ID will be required for everything!  Eventually, you will not be able to access any government or public services without that digital ID; you will not be able travel across national borders nor access healthcare nor the internet.  You will be required to prove your identity through a digital program containing your unique biometric markers, a thumb print or a facial scan.  Cellphones are already prodding us for this information.  Many new driver’s licenses require biometric markers.  Your face will be linked to a new digital CBDC account.  Without it, you will be locked out of the system – no job, no healthcare, no social security check, no buying or selling . . . nothing.

The World Economic Forum wants to achieve this by 2030.  After digital money backed by government is in place, cash can be all together eliminated.  In June 2020, many world leaders gathered to announce the launch of a plan to “reset” the entire global economy, a proposal ominously named the “Great Reset.”  Among the elites from around the world and powerful institutions that pledged their support for the Great Reset were the International Monetary Fund, the secretary-general of the United Nations, Prince Charles and CEOs from major international corporations.  A frequent mantra of The Great Reset is “equality of outcomes,” a concept foreign to democratic “equality of opportunities.”

“Every country, from the United States to China, must participate, and every industry, from oil and gas to tech, must be transformed. …In short, we need a ‘Great Reset’ of capitalism. Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, wrote.

New York Fed Announces Phase I Results of the New York Innovation Center’s Project Cedar – FEDERAL RESERVE BANK of NEW YORK

“The U.S. Federal Reserve has tightened the window for the launch of its FEDNOW instant payments platform to between May and July of 2023.  According to a press release, FedNow will be open to financial institutions of any size, allowing them to facilitate instant payments for consumers and businesses, giving customers immediate full access to funds. The platform is currently in pilot phase with more than 120 organizations participating, including lender U.S. Bank and payment processor Alacriti Payments among them.”  (Forbes)

Some people herald crypto-currency as the money of the future.  Its blockchain accounting system made it attractive to investors who valued privacy and speed of transaction.  Libertarians liked its independence from government or banks and saw it as a parallel system that would eventually replace modern monies.  But the joke’s on those who thought the privacy and independence from government were its salient features.  It will soon be Big Brother, more pervasive and intrusive than George Orwell ever imagined.

Once CBDC becomes the medium of exchange in our nation, China and others, it will be a short hop to a global cabal who will control our finances; one more step toward a global government.  All it will take will be a cataclysmic event more astounding than the recent pandemic, and One Man will come along with the rest of the solutions.  As Jesus warned His followers, do not “get ready.”  Rather, BE READY!  Christ-followers have nothing to fear, For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” (Matthew 24:27-18)

Thanxgiving Approaches

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maranatha, even so, come Lord Jesus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Only “Proof” of the Resurrection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two Destinations – An Almost Wordless Wednesday

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

Why are you cast down, O my soul?

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, [YHWH].
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”
. . .
My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember You
from the [coasts of California to Acadia National Park, from Seattle to Palm Beach].
Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all Your breakers and Your waves have gone over me.
By day [YHWH] commands His steadfast love,
and at night His song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
. . .
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in [YHWH]; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Psalm 42 [with some personalization]