End Times, or Chicken Little

Remember the story of Chicken Little? He ran around yelling “The sky is falling, the sky is falling!” He did it so often that when the sky actually fell, no one believed him since he had yelled in error so many times before. That seems to be happening today in our world ….

I won’t be one of those people who stand on the street corner, brandishing a sign, proclaiming “the End is Near!” Well, I say that, and then I remind myself that I don’t know what God has planned for me. Let me rephrase. I don’t expect to be a street corner prophet…. but perhaps I am, in an electronic sense. Still, I find the following scriptures to be fascinating, especially in lieu of the nature events going on around the world.

” ‘In the last days,’ GOD says, ‘I will pour out My Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out My Spirit even on My servants—men and women alike— and they will prophesy. And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below— blood and fire and clouds of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and glorious day of the LORD arrives. But everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.’ ” – Acts of the Apostles 2:17‭-‬21 (http://bible.com/116/act.2.17-21.NLT) Also read Joel chapters 2-3

Fascinating, and quite scarey. Watching videos of the record breaking fires in the northwest, in California, and in Canada, the sun is darkened and the moon looks red from all of the smoke in the air. People who were interviewed stated things like “It seems like twilight at noon” and comments on how red the moon appears. Is it time for the second coming of Jesus? I defer to these verses:

“However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” – Matthew 24:36 (http://bible.com/116/mat.24.36.NLT) Also, Mark 13:32, and Acts 1:7

Despite all the people screaming about the end of the earth as we know it because of wars and pollution and global warming, the truth is that this is all a part of God’s plan. Yes, the damage we humans have done to the earth is irreparable; at least, it is for us. Nothing is beyond God. NOTHING. When Jesus returns, whether it is today or in another 2000 years, and after He defeats the enemy (and He will defeat Satan, no doubts on that score!), we will see a new heaven and a new earth. All of the damage with be gone.

“But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth He has promised, a world filled with GOD’S Righteousness.” – 2 Peter 3:13 (http://bible.com/116/2pe.3.13.NLT)

What a promise! I highly recommend reading 2 Peter chapter 3 in it’s entirety as well as the rest of the above noted scriptures. In fact, sit down and start reading the whole New Testament. I know it can be difficult to get through all the genealogy of Jesus, but cross reference some of the names with their stories in the Old Testament. Jesus wasn’t born with a silver spoon, and His human ancestors were a motley crew. Just goes to show you that God can use anyone, no matter how broken, to fulfill His plans.

You have to decide for yourself whether you think we are in the end times, or if we’re all Chicken Littles. Whatever you decide, remember this. No man, I reiterate, NO MAN, can say when Christ will return. Only God knows, and He isn’t sharing the information. This is why Jesus tells us to be ready at any moment. Personally, I believe we are well into the end, and I know without any doubt that He will return. Someday, time and date unknown and unspeculated by me. Chicken Little? No, just a believer.

Side note: I haven’t seen this movie and I am not advocating for anyone else to see it; the image is strictly for illustrative purposes.

Words of Life

What a wonderful, life and love filled world it would be if we could just follow a few simple words!

“Children, obey your parents because you belong to the LORD, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.” Parents, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them …. ” Ephesians 6:1-4 NLT

Simple words, easy to understand; not always easy to follow when the parents don’t honor the LORD with their lives. I know so many struggling people, in church, in the recovery programs, and in life, whose parents were far beyond anything worth honoring. Parents who sold their children for sex, parents who abused and brutalized them, even parents who used their own children in satanic rituals. It’s incredible that a parent could treat their child in these ways. Difficult to believe? Absolutely. Even witnessing the physical scars and permanent injuries, and seeing how hard it is for these children, who are now adults, share their stories…. first one-on-one, and then in small, safe groups of people with similar backgrounds, I find it almost impossible to comprehend that a parent could even imagine abusing their child in such a way. Yes, it’s incomprehensible, but it is real.

How do you tell a woman who has been abused her entire life by her earthly father, and often her mother as well, that there is a heavenly Father Who loves her beyond measures? A Father Who will protect her soul for eternity? I have a couple of friends who struggle greatly with this. For one whose parents sold her as a sex slave, and another who was forced to participate in horrific satanic rituals and sacrifices, it’s almost impossible to comprehend a loving Father. So many women (and men) use sex to cover the pain. It becomes a power thing, where she (or he) controls the act, and can even offer a fleeting few moments of physical pleasure. It is a brutal addiction that Satan capitalizes on. He thrives on the pain and addiction, and pushes for more. He is the father of lies and deceit, and he promises the pain will go away if the addict does as he whispers to them. He feeds the lies that she/he is worthless for anything other than the continued abuse. To stop the voices, many sex addicts use alcohol and drugs alongside the sex. Suicide beckons as a permanent escape.

I know that the only escape from the vicious cycle is to surrender everything to Jesus. Stop fighting Him and let Him have the burden. One particular friend wrote that she was tired of fighting, and tired of the constant struggle. I can only encourage her to stop fighting. Stop the struggle. I know it is almost impossible for her to see past the hurt of the past, but I also know that until we let go of the past, we can never move forward. It’s okay to mourn babies we never got to hold or only held for a very short time (and I believe we have to mourn in order to let go) and it’s okay to mourn loved ones who have passed on. There is a season to mourn, and then we must begin to live. She has been holding on to the tragedies and losses of her past so tightly, and for some long, she doesn’t know how to let go.

Come to Jesus, girlfriend. Let Him have your burdens. Open your hands and your heart and allow Him in to clear out the cobwebs. It’s okay to grieve, but move on to the good memories and live life in the now instead of in the past. Revenge is not the answer. Prayer and praise for our deliverance, and thankfulness for our salvation… these are the answer. Come to Jesus.

“Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.” – Romans 15:4 NLT

CREDITS:

John Lawton, for his glorious, happy paintings; and

http://bible.com for the Scriptures.

Stuff and Nonsense

Here’s some gotcha scriptures:

“It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble. You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat [or drink] something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.” – Romans 14:21‭-‬23 (http://bible.com/116/rom.14.21-23.NLT)

I eat meat, and I have an occasional glass or two of wine or beer. Remember, in the scriptures, Jesus drank wine. I don’t drink to get drunk, and whatever I drink, it’s because I enjoy the flavor. I enjoy the flavors of meat, and enjoyed a plate of lamb fries the other night. Many people choose not to drink because the taste is not enjoyable to them. Others choose not to drink because the consequences of even a single drink would be to throw them back into an addiction. Eating meat, or rather, not eating meat, is a choice some make for health reasons, and others just choose not to eat it. I have to respect the choices of each person, whether I agree with them or not. Remember free will? It applies to everyone, not just me. Sometimes, respecting another person’s choice is for me to refrain from drinking in front of them, or not having a steak (or lamb fries 😊 ) when sharing a meal. By choosing to support their choice, rather than challenge it, I may be helping them to keep to their conviction. If I choose to drink in front of an alcoholic, or eat something another person believes is wrong, I am sinning by throwing up stumbling blocks in front of that person. Make sense?

I’m not advocating for vegans or vegetarians, and I don’t think prohibition solves anything. I know that when I choose to have meat or a glass of wine or a beer, I’m not doing anything wrong as far as it pertains to me. Growing up as a PK (Preacher’s kid), my Dad was strict about how things we did could be perceived by others. We weren’t allowed to go to movies, because someone might see us and assume that all movies were okay to go to, including what would now be classified as R-rated or X-rated. Perception, not reality. We didn’t go to parties or dances outside of church-sponsored, because of the possibility (or probability!) of drinking and other things teenagers so often get caught up in. Again, it was all about the perception that someone would see us there, and make assumptions about our behaviour… not the reality of it. I didn’t really understand, and I chafed under his restrictions, even though I obeyed them, mostly. Once I left home, let’s just say that I considered myself above such rules, for years.

Now, I understand why my Dad had those rules. He was a firm believer and advocate for verse 21-22a (and of all scripture):

“It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble. You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. ” – Romans 14:21‭-‬22a (http://bible.com/116/rom.14.21-22.NLT)

I may know that there is nothing wrong with my having a glass of wine, but I also know that drinking one in front of someone who is struggling with addiction would be wrong; therefore, it would be a sin for me to do so. Paul goes on to say this to us:

“We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the LORD. For even Christ didn’t live to please Himself. As the Scriptures say, “The insults of those who insult You, O GOD, have fallen on me.” Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.” – Romans 15:1‭-‬4 (http://bible.com/116/rom.15.1-4.NLT)

I will continue to have my wine or beer, and I doubt that I will ever stop eating meat. I take seriously Paul’s admonition in verses 1-2 in chapter 15 that I need to be considerate of others feelings and struggles. As Christians, we especially need to be looking at verse 3. “For even Christ did not live to please Himself.” Our lives here on earth shouldn’t be about us. They should be about Jesus Christ and the eternity He offers us, and about sharing that Good News with others…. something I admit to failing miserably.

Thank You, Jesus, for Your Salvation!

The Most High

Be honest. Do you believe in a being who could create everything out of nothing, or do you believe in the Big Bang? There’s a joke I recently heard about God and some evolutionary scientists. As they were discussing which was correct, evolution or creation, they decided to have a contest to see who could create a man. The scientists took a handful of mud in order to begin, and God said “Hold on. Use your own mud!” I love this, because it showcases the difference between creation and evolution.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1 (http://bible.com/116/gen.1.1.NLT)

Simply, eloquently, stated.

“But why is there such destruction and pain and suffering on the earth? How could God allow children to be abused and neglected?” When God created man, He gave them free will. He didn’t want puppets or ‘yes men,’ He wanted us to choose to love Him and to have fellowship with Him. Just look around you. If you are hosting a party or other gathering, and there is a person who is clearly unhappy about being there, how does that make you feel? Our goal as host is to ensure that everyone is enjoying the fellowship and interaction with us. That’s why God gave us free will. He doesn’t force anyone to interact with him. Adam and Eve decided they were better suited to determining what was best for themselves; much more than God, and so they chose to be disobedient and eat the one forbidden fruit… thanks, guys! They had an entire garden (we’re talking acres and acres here!) of the most incredible, delicious fruits to eat, and they decide they just have to have the one, single fruit God said to leave alone. That says a lot about our human ability to make good choices!!

Thankfully, the Lord Creator God gave us a means of rescue from our ancestors poor choice.

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my Refuge, my Place of Safety; He is my God, and I trust Him.” – Psalms 91:1‭-‬2 (http://bible.com/116/psa.91.1-2.NLT)

The MOST High; Creator, Savior, Almighty God; LORD of All…

Greater Things

What a contrast. As I was watching a newscast of the destruction in Puerto Rico from the latest hurricane, Chris Tomlin came on the radio with this song. Take a moment, and in light of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and the floods in the floods in India and Pakistan; the massive earthquakes in Mexico, and the threat of war from North Korea, really focus on his words.

God of This City

Chris Tomlin

You’re the God of this city
You’re the King of these people
You’re the Lord of this nation
You are

You’re the Light in this darkness
You’re the Hope to the hopeless
You’re the Peace to the restless
You are

There is no one like our God
There is no one like our God

For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this city
Greater thing have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this city

You’re the God of this City
You’re the King of these people
You’re the Lord of this nation
You are

You’re the Light in this darkness
You’re the Hope to the hopeless
You’re the Peace to the restless
You are

There is no one like our God
There is no one like our God

For greater things have yet to come
And greater…”

As the darkness descends in our world, we are seeing record storms and record famines and record floods. We have dictators who seem bent on world destruction. In the United States, we have violence and looting of our neighbors, conflict between the police and the people, and we are being overwhelmed by illegal immigrants who have no desire to come into the country legally. We have politicians who are more concerned with their personal gain than the care of the people who elected them. Politicians and pro athletes and Hollywood actors who blatantly disrespect our flag and our country.

Do you believe that the Bible is the Word of God, given to us for our instruction? I do. After you read these verses, tell me, does it sound like what’s happening on the earth now?

“When the Lamb broke the second seal, I heard the second living being say, “Come!” Then another horse appeared, a red one. Its rider was given a mighty sword and the authority to take peace from the earth. And there was war and slaughter everywhere.

When the Lamb broke the third seal, I heard the third living being say, “Come!” I looked up and saw a black horse, and its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice from among the four living beings say, “A loaf of wheat bread or three loaves of barley will cost a day’s pay. And don’t waste the olive oil and wine.”

When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the fourth living being say, “Come!” I looked up and saw a horse whose color was pale green. Its rider was named Death, and his companion was the Grave. These two were given authority over one-fourth of the earth, to kill with the sword and famine and disease and wild animals.” – Revelation 6:3‭-‬8 (http://bible.com/116/rev.6.3-8.NLT)

As frightening as these predictions are, there is hope for followers of Jesus Christ. Check out these verses!

“After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!” – Revelation 7:9‭-‬10 (http://bible.com/116/rev.7.9-10.NLT)

Salvation only comes from the Lamb, the Son of Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. Hallelujah!

Food, Glorious Food!

“The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” – Matthew 4:4 (http://bible.com/116/mat.4.4.NLT)

Can you imagine not eating for 40 days? No food, no snacks. I don’t know about you, but most days I have trouble going 6 hours without at least a snack, let alone 24 hours, or a week. 40 days. That’s what Jesus did, and He did it with intention. The scriptures tell us that He did this before He began His ministry, but also this: “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.” – Matthew 4:1 (http://bible.com/116/mat.4.1.NLT)

He went out specifically to be tempted, and Satan did his best to cause Jesus to give in. He tempted Jesus with hot bread after all those days without food. For me, the smell of bread, fresh out of the oven, is incredibly tempting. Even if I have just eaten, a hot roll or slice of hot bread is hard to resist. Just smelling it makes my stomach rumble in anticipation! When the hot bread didn’t work, Satan went on to another temptation, the ability to fly, really, because he knew – and Jesus knew – that His angels would prevent Him from hitting the ground. I’ve dreamed of flying across the country, and it would be another great temptation for me to submit to. Finally, Satan shows Jesus the world.

“Next the devil took Him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to You,” he said, “if You will kneel down and worship me.” – Matthew 4:8‭-‬9 (http://bible.com/116/mat.4.8-9.NLT)

Imagine! You are offered the chance to rule the entire earth; could you resist? Really? We know that God created the earth, and that ultimately He will rebuild and reshape it into the perfection it was in the beginning. For now, though, and since Adam and Eve, God the Almighty has allowed Satan to rule because of their choices. So Jesus was offered the world…. He knew that Satan was and is the ultimate liar. Even so, it had to be tempting to take back the world in that instant. Jesus, through all of His temptations, gives us the words to get past the temptations we face daily.

“Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the LORD your GOD and serve only Him.’ ” – Matthew 4:10 (http://bible.com/116/mat.4.10.NLT)

Are you faced with a specific temptation today? I encourage you to pray about it, and to let the enemy know you recognize his tricks. Saying the words out loud can be a powerful tool. Satan and his minions can’t see into our heads or know our thoughts, but they have had years, centuries, to learn faces and behavior patterns. Be vocal against the enemy! Call him out, and let Jesus in so that He can stand with you against Satan.

Infinitely, Awesome, Epic …. etcetera

I get so tired of hearing these words. They have lost their true meanings by being trivialized in our every day conversation.

“Don’t say infinitely when you mean very; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.” – #CSLewis

“Oh, that’s infinitely better. What an awesome job. Wow, that’s epic, dude.”

How about this: “The heavens are infinitely bigger than we can imagine. We serve an awesome God, Who in His infinite wisdom has chosen humanity to serve and to be served by Him. The new Heaven and the new Earth will be epic for followers of Jesus. God created the Grand Canyon and the Himalayas with such epic proportions that they leave us breathless and on awe.”

Starting to understand? These 3 words convey so much when used properly. Sometimes, a simple gasp at the sight of the incredible and unmatchable scenery God created for us to view and experience is somehow more appropriate than words. This song tells it so well:

How Great Thou Are

Oh LORD my God
When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds
Thy hands have made
I see the stars
I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout
The universe displayed
Then sings my soul
My Savior, God, to Thee
How great thou art
How great thou art
Then sings my soul
My Savior, God, to Thee
How great Thou art
How great Thou art

Our LORD is Infinite, He is Epic, and He is Awesome. I am so glad to be His child! Can I get an Amen today?