The Lie, The Truth, The End and Your Choice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 Common Signs That Are NOT Signs of the End

2021-09-07 The Parable of 5 Wise and 5 Foolish Bridesmaids“There were ten young women, the equivalent of bridesmaids in our time, who were waiting for a bridegroom to show up outside the bride’s house.  In their culture, the groom would host a big ‘bachelor party’ for his friends while the bride waited in her home.  Sometimes, in his anxiety to join his bride, that party would be minimal and over quickly. 

“However, other times the party with the guys could go on a looooong time.  No one had a wristwatch to keep track, so it was up to the groom to decide.  When he finally showed up with his entourage, the bridesmaids would join the procession of groomsmen into the wedding feast and marriage ceremony.

“Five of these young women knew the groom might be a long time and planned ahead.  They had lamps to illuminate the wedding feast, and being wise, they brought extra fuel for their lamps.  Five were not so diligent and only brought the fuel in their lamps.

“As the day wore on into evening, the less attentive girls asked the wise ones for some of their fuel.  Prudently, the wise ones simply responded they could not give their fuel away or they might not have what they needed.  This was not greedy, but simply the way it was.  So the five “foolish” ones went into town before the shops would close in order to buy fuel.  But by the time they got back, the groom had arrived, the feast had begun and the lights were blazing inside the walls of the bride’s home.

“The foolish young women begged to be let in, but the Master of the wedding told them, “Truly, I do not know you.”  And so they were left outside, out of the party and uninvolved in the wedding.”  (paraphrased; Matthew 25:1-13)

Sound harsh?  This is the story Jesus told His disciples after He had just answered their tri-part question: “When will [the destruction of the Temple] be, and what will be the sign of your coming, and [what will be the sign] of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3)  This also was not a pretty picture, so for those who think of Jesus as a gentle, mild-mannered, sweet-guy teacher, all roses and lovey-dovey, Matthew 24 and 25 can be eye-openers!

“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour,” (Matthew 25:13) and He was not going to tell them.  In fact, His loving Father, the “I Am” who revealed Himself to Moses, is the only one who knows.  Even Jesus is out of the loop for His return date (Matthew 24:34).

All New Testament references to Jesus’ return to rapture the Church out of the world emphasize that there are no markers we can lay down and say, “Okay, Jesus will come in three and a half years,” or “Jesus will return in seven years.”  These views are referred to as mid-Tribulation and post-Tribulation rapture.  If Jesus’ return to “catch away His bride” was on this schedule, we could pretty much count the days: precisely 1,260 days, or 2,550 from whatever event begins the first half of the Tribulation.  (See Revelation 11:3, 12:14, Daniel 7:25, 12:7)

Furthermore, before He returns He noted that life would be pretty “normal,” at least as normal as they can be with all kinds of alarms going off and false prophets spouting “wisdom” in WordPress blogs about how to be happy, how to have a fulfilling life, how to make lots of money, etc.; “as it was in the days of Noah.” (Matthew 24:37-42, 2 Timothy 3:1-7)

Jesus specifically said these are NOT signs of the end of this age:

  1. People claim to be a Savior or to have all the answers to the world’s problems.
  2. Wars and rumors of wars.
  3. Famines.
  4. Earthquakes.
  5. Persecution of Christ-followers to death.
  6. Many leave faith in Christ and betray and hate other Christ-followers.
  7. False “prophets” who claim to have special knowledge.
  8. Deception: calling “good” evil and calling “evil” good.
  9. Lawlessness.
  10. Lovelessness; exaltation of self-love; love of pleasure.

Then WHAT IS the sign of the end? “This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”  (Matthew 24:14)

With over 7000 languages in the world, most now have some of the Bible in their “heart language” and Bible translations societies are closing in on the most obscure of these.  However, we do not know what God considers a language or “nation” in the Great Commission.  In any case, there is no reason to suspect that this Gospel will not reach every nation of the world within the immediate future!

2021-09-07 Bible Translations

Therefure, Christ followers must not only Be Ready, but help everyone we can to Get Ready to meet Jesus!

 

 

HaHa! Death, So What!?

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

2021-08-21 The Resurrection and the Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The fictional demon, Screwtape, when instructing his young protégé, Wormwood, taught,  “Prosperity knits a man to the World.  He feels that he is ‘finding his place in it’, while really it is finding its place in him.  His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of being really at home on earth… You will notice that the young are generally [more willing] to die than the middle-aged and the old.”  (Lewis, The Screwtape Letters)

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

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

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

“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:3

2021-08-14 When Will These Things Be

Jesus was intentionally vague about when He would appear for the purpose of taking His bride, the Church, away from the world, and when He would return to establish His kingdom on earth.  What He was very clear about was that we should not set dates or think He was appearing in some secret place or time.  Both His appearing and return will be global phenomena that no one will be able to avoid.

Some definitions are in order:

  1. The Church is not an organization. It is composed of everyone who has put their faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross, repented of their sins, and participate in His rulership in their lives (Colossians 1:18).
  2. The “last days” or “end times” are synonyms and refer to the Church age following the first coming of Jesus, His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension into Heaven. In our day, we use these terms to refer to the end of the Church age.
  3. The Church age began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), after Jesus ascension and 50 days after the Passover which coincided with His resurrection.
  4. The “rapture” is when Jesus will take the Church out of he world, described in Matthew 24:32-50, 1 Corinthians 15:35-58 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. He will appear in the sky in the same way as the disciples saw Him leave in Mark 18:19, Luke 24:51 and Acts 1:6-11. The term “rapture” comes from from rapio (“Latin: “to snatch away”), which is found in the Latin Vulgate Bible in 1 Thessalonian 4:17 (translated “caught up” in English translations).
  5. The Second Coming is when Jesus will return to set up an earthly kingdom described in Matthew 24:15-31, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 and Revelation 20:1-6. Sometimes this term is used to refer to all the events from the rapture to the end of the Tribulation.
  6. The Great Tribulation is the last half of seven years of tribulation while the Anti-Christ is ruling the earth. It will be a time of judgments poured out that will be worse than anything mankind has ever experienced (Matthew 24:21-22; Revelation 15-16)

In Acts 2:17, Peter told the assembled crowd,And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,” quoting Joel 2:28.  And Peter said, “This is it!”  I.e., these are the last days, beginning in Acts 2, about 2000 years ago!  This is what Joel prophesied 800 years earlier, and NOW, Peter said we were entering the last days of which Joel spoke.  But some of what Joel prophesied did not begin to happen that day.

Peter continued quoting Joel:
And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below,
    blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (2:19-20; see Joel 2:28-32)

These are things that have not yet happened but are waiting for “the Day of the Lord.”  That specific day, referred to also in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 will be when Jesus returns to set up His kingdom on earth, seven years after He has taken the Church out of the world.  This is not the same as His “appearing” referenced in 1 Timothy 6:14, 2 Timothy 4:1 and Titus 2:13. 

In these references, Jesus appears in the sky to catch away His Church, those who have put their faith in Him, repented of their sins and are living for Him.  The rapture (or “being caught up”) is described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and will occur “in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:52). Note also, the “last trumpet” mentioned in Corinthians is not one of the trumpets of judgment listed in Revelation 8, but a reference to the last trumpet the Church will hear on earth.

We should not confuse The Day of the Lord in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 and 2 Thessalonians 2:3 with the rapture.  The rapture is described by Jesus in Matthew 24:32-50, after He had answered the disciples’ questions about  “the coming of the Son of Man,” the time at which Jesus will come to earth to set up His rulership.

“Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessnes is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-5)  

This “coming” is distinguished from “our being gathered,” but is referenced here together because of false teaching that claimed Jesus had already come to establish His kingdom “in men’s hearts.  (On a side note, this heresy was also promulgated in the 20th century and continues in some fringe religions.)  As I have described, the “gathering” is a reference to the rapture.

A final note: Whatever we believe about the timing of the rapture, there are two realities all Christ-followers must keep in mind.

  1. First, no difference of opinion among Christians justifies unkindness toward those who hold different views.  Jesus commands us to love one another, just as He loved us.  He also said that our love for one another would be the evidence to all people that we are His disciples (John 13:34-35).  Wrangling over issues such as the timing of the rapture does not exhibit Christ’s love (Titus 3:10).
  2. Second, the most important aspect of the end times is not the timing of the rapture but the absolute certainty of the return of Jesus Christ to the world in these last days (Acts 1:11; Revelation 19:11-16).  The timing does not alter the fact that those who belong to Him will enjoy eternal life and those who do not will be separated from Him for eternity (John 3:18).  Only faith in Jesus as the our savior will distinguish the saved from the unsaved, regardless of our views on the rapture.  So pray earnestly for those who do not know Him yet!  They need Jesus.

We shall behold HIM!!  Maranatha, even so, Lord Jesus, come.

Prepare or Perish; I Cannot Be Quiet.

“Come, NOW is the time to worship.”

2021-03-27 House on FireI wish this could be more gently expressed, but like a man seeing the house of a friend on fire, I must SHOUT IT.  There is too little time to say, “Oh, maybe I will disturb him or interrupt his nice supper; I’ll call him later and tell him his house is on fire.”  What kind of friend would I be!?  That said, no one can force you out of a burning house if it is your choice to stay there.  But still, I have to warn that Jesus made it clear, we must Be Ready or we will perish.

We have examined the evidence of evil.  There are people who sell other people into the sex trades or some form of indentured servitude.  Just as bad, there are people who buy and use them.  There are people who will sell drugs to anyone with money to purchase, no matter how badly addicted their victims are; others who will turn a blind eye to crises because it is politically inconvenient or will cost them their job or make them look foolish to others; even more who simply shrug and say, “Well, I am not doing that.  It is not my problem.”  The mass of German citizens seemed shocked when they were paraded into POW camps after WW2 and said, “Oh, my, we didn’t know.”  But their complicity was in not listening to the warning sirens of Jews being “labeled” and marginalized; ignoring the buildup of power into a select few, all in the name of “purifying the race;” making life better for “all of you.”

We have looked at the Scriptures for what Jesus, the apostles, and Old Testament prophets taught about hell and its misery.  Gehenna (translated ‘hell’ or ‘fiery furnace’ or similar analogies) was the garbage dump outside Jerusalem in Jesus’ day, “where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.”  This was His picture of hell; a place not intended for human habitation, but where those who cannot serve their purpose wind up; a place of disposal; strangely, a place “chosen” by those who will reside there because they refuse to trust the Creator and Jesus, in [whom] the whole fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily

Evil is evident.  Hell is authentic.  So how can one avoid it?  Jesus spent most of his parables telling about the Kingdom of God and how to get into it.  He gave several stern warnings, though, against being deceived.  In Matthew 24, four times He told His followers to beware.  He then conclude this teaching with a blessing and a severe warning (verses 45-51) .

 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time?  Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.  Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.  But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites.  In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

He then tells the story of ten women who went out to meet a bridegroom.  In that culture, the groom would come to his bride at an unannounced time after meeting with his friends.  Five were foolish and five were wise.  At the end of the story, this Jesus that everyone thinks would always be so kind and forgiving, excludes the foolish women from the groom’s banquet, and quite harshly!

He then tells a story of a landowner who commits responsibilities to his servants while he is away.  The wise servants invest his loans to them, but a foolish one hides the money so he can give back only what he received.  He gets a tongue lashing that would make Bear Bryant blush, and the land owner orders the worthless servant [to be cast] into the outer darkness . . .  where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

He concludes a trilogy of parables with a story of sheep and goats being separated.  To the “goats on the left” Jesus will tell them, Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels . . . And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”  Note, the eternal fire was never intended for humans.

The fearful thing for most people is that Heaven is not our default destination.  In our natural state, the way we are born, we are already condemned to hell!  John wrote in his Gospel, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.  Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already!John 3:16-18

That is why Jesus told the Pharisee that he needed to be “born again!”  Being born into this life was NOT enough!  As lovely or successful or rich or powerful or comfortable as one can be, we are all condemned to hell UNLESS we specifically and personally take a step of faith and “repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” to be saved.

It would be “nice” if everyone would get into Heaven, but Jesus clearly teaches that many will NOT!  How can I invite you to read the Gospels, the Good News, so that you do not have to go to hell?  What can I do to persuade you that you were created for a better life than this?  Are there any words I can write that will convince you to trust Jesus for eternal life?  What can I show you of how much God, the Father, loves you beyond the fact that Jesus died in your place, in my place?

The promise is completely inclusive: ANYONE can come to Jesus, regardless of past sin, problems, ethnicity, success or failure; NOTHING excludes you!
But the promise is completely exclusive simultaneously: ONLY those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved.

Someday, at the name of Jesus every knee [WILL] bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue [WILL] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” when He is fully revealed at the end of time.  But there is a special blessing and fellowship of the Holy Spirit and of other Christ-followers for those who bow their knees now, and confess now that Jesus Christ IS Lord.  Do not be deceived. 

Please, dear friends reading this blog, you to whom I have emailed this link, those of you just stopping by for a visit:
Pray to Jesus to be born again and to guide you by His Holy Spirit.
Begin reading the Bible, especially starting in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).
Find someone near you who knows Jesus and start meeting regularly.

If you do not know of anyone in your hometown or country, email me at capost3k@gmail.com and I will help you find someone out of our international connections.  If you want to Zoom with me, just email me, but I encourage you to find someone locally who speaks your ‘heart language.’  Please, prepare or you will perish.

 

My Most Important Blog EVER

2021-01-30 News AnchorNews hits us faster than we can absorb it.  This began with television reporting back in the 60s and 70s of the last century.  The joke about our level of engagement came with a news anchor announcing, with a bright smile, “10 killed in hit-and-run on Broadway, film at 11.”

We are saturated 24/7, 1,440 minutes per day, with available information any time we look at our watches, phones or computers, most of which is unrelated to our daily lives, very little about which we can do anything, and most without consequence for any length of time, only lasting until the next broadcast or posting on social media.

But there IS something that matters, something integrally related to your life, something over which you have complete control, something that will last for all eternity: 
What will you do about the claims of Jesus, called the Christ? 

Jesus is the focal point of history, changing for over half the world the way we count the days of our lives ever since shortly after He walked on earth.  And He made some pretty audacious claims, so auspicious that I capitalize pronouns when I refer to Him.  Nothing particularly holy about capitalization, but simply to reflect that He is higher, better, greater (every positive superlative of which you can think) than any other human, past, present or future.

To understand who Jesus claimed to be one must read His biographies, which we call the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the first four books of the New Testament. (Many online sources are available and each one can be read in your native language in less than an hour; my favorite source is at Biblegateway.com where you can see if your language is listed.)

Even those who do not trust Him as what He claimed to be admit something unusual happened after He left the world, something that transformed His followers from meek and frightened, politically disenfranchised jellyfish to robust and daring defenders of what they had experienced.  What they experienced is recorded in Matthew 28, John 16 and 20, and Acts 1 and 2.  And all but one of them died rather than recant; only John survived to old age, but that was in exile on a prison island.

These disciples who had deserted Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, are next seen hiding in quiet rooms, afraid the High Priest, Sanhedrin or Roman authorities might be coming after them next.  Their political aspirations were dead, their leader had been crucified and the Jewish leaders had ensured that none of the disciples could steal His body.  They were confused and dismayed that the One they expected to lead Israel to international prominence, even over the Roman Empire, was dead and buried in a Roman-guarded sealed tomb.  How much worse could it get!?

But rather than getting worse, some women went to the grave in which Jesus was buried and found it empty, encountering angels who declared, He is not here, for He has risen!”  Mary Magdalene, hardly an archetype of integrity, did not believe the angels and came at first to announce to the disciples, who were cowering in their chamber, that the tomb was empty.  Two of the disciples, Peter and John, ran to the tomb to see for themselves and also found it empty.   But then Jesus met Mary Magdalene in the garden where His tomb was and showed her that He was alive!  A couple of others returned from Emmaeus and said they had seen Jesus alive!

In all of these encounters, the ones who knew Jesus best resisted the stories and did not understand the Old Testament scriptures and refused to believe tales of seeing Jesus.  They still could not think of the things He had taught them about His death!  It was just too much for a rational brain to take in . . . until He appeared to them in a locked room.  (They were still afraid and could not sort through the events that were happening faster than the Fall of the Berlin Wall in modern times.)   But when Jesus appeared to them, He showed them His wounds from the crucifixion and they finally believed.

So what did He claim about Himself? 
That He is the bread of life that came down from Heaven.
That He is the light of the world.
That He is the good shepherd.
That He is the resurrection and life.
That He is teacher and Lord.
That He is the way, the truth and the life.
That He is the true vine.
That He is not from this earth.
That He is King of the Jews.
That He is The I Am!  This is arguably His most significant claim to be God, as He claimed to be one with Father, the I AM.

2021-01-30 I AM

This short blog does not allow nearly adequate space for me to show you from the Bible all that it teaches of who Jesus is, but you are all intelligent and capable learned people.  Hey, you access a computer and blog! 😉  So do not take my word alone for this.  Read the Gospels and discover for yourself if you can trust this Jesus to be what He claimed to be.  What will you do?  You MUST do something, either admit these to be true or reject them to be false.  There is no middle ground.

If you believe, the next step is to receive HimJohn 1:12 says, “To all who receive him, who believe in his name, he gives the right to become children of God.”  Picture you came to my home and I offered to feed you dinner.  You could believe I was going to provide a meal; you could thank me for it; we could sit at the table together and talk about the food in front of us . . . but if you did not reach out and take the food, you would leave my home as empty as when you came.

So, first, reach out in your heart and mind to Jesus.  He is God and knows what is in your heart and thoughts even before you say it.  So invite Him to come and live in you.  Admit you are a sinner and have not let Him rule your life yet.  Turn away (repent) from your self-guided life and tell Jesus that you will trust Him to lead the rest of your life.  Do not worry that you are not perfect, or that you do not understand all this yet.  Simply trust Him that He will come live in you and begin to work in you to perform His will.  There are no special formulas for praying.  Just talk to Him as you would your own earthly father.

Secondly, if you decide to do this, the next step is to begin reading the Bible.  It is His directive to us, an ultimate guide for life and practice.  Do not be intimidated by the size (it is actually a library collection of small books; just take one at a time.)  There are numerous Bible-reading “plans” you can access, but just read!

Thirdly, if you talked with Jesus to invite Him to live in you, you have begun to pray.  Keep it up.  Again, there are lots of books and helps for praying, but remember, it does not take any special language.  Plus, as you get to know Jesus better (not just know about Him, but know HIM), you will find prayer is not just you talking to God.  In times of His choosing, He will talk to you!  Although the value of prayer cannot be measured by its volume, it can safely be said that prayer is valueless if you do not pray.  Make time to pray.

Lastly, God does not call “Lone Ranger Christians.”  Find a community of people who are seeking and experiencing the Presence of God.  Some will be phony; some will be misguided or misinformed; some will be manipulative; some will be dishonest; but you need them as much as they need you.  And as you pray and read the Bible, you will grow in grace and in knowledge of our Lord and your Savior, Jesus Christ.

Certainly, there is no requirement or expectation for you to contact me regarding your Journey into Faith, but if you want to contact me, please feel free to email me at capost3k@gmail.com.  No question is off limits.

Finally, let me assure you from many years of Bible study and examination of world religions from Atheism to Zoroastrianism, from Buddhism to Hinduism to Islam to Jainism, there is no intellectual reason for rejecting the claims of Jesus.  There is no text more authentically relayed to our generation than the Bible.  There is no way to get to know who God is, other than through the God-Man, Jesus.

Of Specks and Logs

Here cum da judge.jpg”Judge not, and you will not be judged . . .” is arguably the best known and most quoted statement of Jesus, at least in the west.  Yet most people probably do not have a clue as to where he said this, who he was speaking with, anything about its context or where to find the reference.  So I will not judge you for not knowing some of this 😉, but let’s take it in context.

Matthew 7 and Luke 6 both report this statement by Jesus within the so-called “Sermon On The Mount,” a basic outline of Kingdom Principles that were intended to guide His followers into living in right relationship with Father, with each other, and with the world at large.  The more comprehensive summary of His teaching is in Matthew, so I will confine my remarks to the apostle’s report.

To get a feel for this “sermon” I recommend you read from 5:1 to 7:29 at a single sitting without interruption.  Or even better, have someone read it aloud to you and pretend you are one of those first listeners hearing this One teaching “with authority and not like the scribes” (7:29).  If you ever attended a synagogue you will understand that the “authority” of the rabbi rests on his knowledge of “Rabbi ben So-And-So who said that when Rabbi ben You-Know-Who explained what Rabbi ben Whats-His-Name meant when he was writing about what Rabbi ben Etc was really meaning to say that etc etc etc.”  Their authority always rested on what someone else said in their history.  Now along comes Jesus and says, “Yeah, I know what the rabbis told you, but I say to you . . .”  Now that was Authority.

If you do not take my recommendation to read the Sermon for yourself, or have it read to you,  you will just have to take my word for what The Rabbi said and meant. 😊

Ten Commandments 2The sweep of this sermon is to reorient our thinking from the narrow, limited view of what will work in this life to get what we want, to thinking from an eternal view of what will please a Daddy who is in Heaven.  A navy lawyer once told me that all the laws on all the books in all the countries of the world are simply a reflection of our human inability to obey the Big Ten.  Jesus explanation of the Ten Commandments did not make them easier, but rather He went to the heart of the matter, why we seem unable to obey them.

Beginning with an upside-down world in which things people wanted to avoid, like poverty of spirit, mourning, meekness, hunger, persecution, He asserted these were the Kingdom Principles which would most satisfy.  Then He goes on to redefine righteous living beyond the obedience to Pharisaical traditions and call us back to the Creator’s plan.

Then comes the “Judge not” phrase.  However, read in context, Jesus did not command us not to judge, but to do so carefully.  “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (7:2).  What He is telling us here is to realize that when we judge we must mix judgment with mercy the same way Father does, because the tape measure we use to size others up will be used on us.  After all, he goes on to say, “Do not give dogs what is holy and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you” (7:6).

How can you tell dogs from pigs without judging?  Back up a couple sentences and we will find His answer: “First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (7:3-5).  An interesting consideration a dear friend brought up as we discussed this idea: when a speck is in your own eye, does it not feel like a log?  Perspective covers a lot of ground here; when you hold your thumb close enough to your eye, you can block out the sun even though our star is big enough to hold 1,300,000 earths!

While Jesus words are specific for “speck” and “log” (as a wise friend says, Don’t be impressed, you can look it up), the idea is clear that to overlook one’s own flaws in order to straighten out someone else is a recipe for disaster.  But look closer and you will see His point which has nothing to do with ophthalmology.  What He is looking for is restorative help when someone’s vision is blocked.

Specks and Logs.jpg

He never intended for us not to judge.  He only wanted us to mix judgment with the mercy for which we hope, to judge with the intent for restoration.  The warning then is given that those who will not respond to loving correction will attack you if it is offered, so be careful to whom you offer corrective advice, even when it has been learned in a crucible of your own correction.  It hurts to have something in your eye; it always feels much bigger than it is; it is frightening to let someone else go poking and picking in your eye to help, but it is the best way to get rid of the specks and logs.  We rarely do it on our own.  “It is one thing to take a splinter out of my own finger, and quite another to offer it to a physician and let him decide how much it will hurt.” (C.S. Lewis)

Isaac AsimovSo if you wish to correct me, just come to me with the intent to restore me to a right relationship with Father.  That is what I want most in this life and the next.  “Any of you, by the way, are free to criticize anything I say.  If you do, I might learn something.”  (Isaac Asimov)

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.

He Is! – 5. Disciplines of a Spirit-Led Life: Bible Reading and Study

Here is a man, Rear Admiral Barry Black, who knows God’s word.  This discipline is evident in his knowledge and delivery of Biblical truth in a very challenging setting: a National Prayer Breakfast, attended by many of different nationalities, different religious systems, different political parties, different world views.  Yet, he unapologetically affirms Who is in charge of kings’ hearts.  Here is a man who knows This Man in God’s word.

If you do not have 27 minutes for the entire sermon, listen at least to the last three and one-half minutes.  Scroll to 23 and tune in!

The exploration of the Bible is a life-long endeavor.  Talk to an old saint in a church who has a living relationship with Jesus and he or she will be able to tell you of new discoveries made in recent weeks in reading and studying the Bible.

Recall, the Bible is not just one book , but a small library of 66 books, most of which are very short.  The longest ones (except for Psalms) can be read in just a few hours in your “heart language,” that is the language in which you dream.

A more challenging project, but well worth the time and effort, is to read each book at a single sitting.  This takes some planning, because longer books such as Numbers or Isaiah may take a several hours due to unfamiliar content or length, but in my NIV, Numbers is just 55 pages and Isaiah is only 108 pages.  Many of the books are just a few pages long.

The point of reading each book (except for Psalms and Proverbs) at a single sitting is to get a clear overview of what the text says.  This can help avoid taking verses out of context and misusing the Bible to “prove one’s point of view.”  It allows the Bible to establish “the view” and lines us up with it, rather than coming to the book with a point of view and trying to establish that by forcing it on the Bible’s book.  Psalms and Proverbs are special exceptions to this idea, because of their content and organization, which makes reading each at a single sitting less valuable than reading these “devotionally.”

I have addressed Bible reading and study more thoroughly in previous blogs listed below, and introduced one of them with this caveat: “A Man (or Woman) of God will live a life Marked By Bible Reading and Study.  Be sure and understand, knowledge about God is not the same as knowing God.  This is an important distinction to make because far too many people think that because they can quote volumes of Scripture or name all 66 books of the Bible or discuss theology like a . . . well, a theologian, that they know God.”

So begin now, reading each day just three chapters of the Old Testament and one of the New Testament, and you can easily read the entire library of the Bible in 2017.  Along with this, plan for 66 times sometime during this year, to read each of the books at a single sitting.  And consider setting some time aside to really study some of the Bible’s literature.  It has some of the most exciting adventure stories, better than Marvel comics or Star Wars!  It’s love stories put Danielle Steele to shame.

Okay, some of it can be boring, like reading catalogues, but study of it can make even these parts come alive, when you realize what God was doing in the course of history!  So get a good commentary (free online!), and some literature helps and dive into a book that can give you eternal life, because it will testify about Him.  You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.”  (John 5:39)

See January 25, 2015, April 6, 2015, April 12, 2015, about this same subject, as well as April 26, 2015,  and May 17, 2015 and its following blogs on the Reliability of the Bible, ending with June 28, 2015.

So if you want to know “This Man” of the Bible, read it, study it, memorize it, meditate on it, live it, and get to know Him in times of prayer.

Next week, February 12, 2017, we’ll look away from these inward disciplines, to begin to view some of the outward Disciplines of the Spirit-led Life.