Monthly Archives: November 2012

Are These The Last Days

Current Events Create Question

The political struggles of the Middle East are nothing new.  Not one of us living today has seen anything that remotely resembles “peace” in the region, nor is there any “peace” on the horizon.  The television debates being seen from Libya, to Israel, to Gaza, to Iran, to Iraq, to Lebanon, to Syria, to Egypt, to Susan Rice, to our President’s own behavior, to the vote of the United Nations table granting a Palestinian state “non-member observer” status has caused a renewed interest in Biblical prophecy.  Daniel Chapter 11 is being read and commentary is being offered by many regarding its relevance in the “real” world of today.

Make no mistake, I am an unabashed Christian.  I believe the Bible’s veracity from its cover all the way to “Maps” so my views are no doubt as unbiased and objective as any reporter from ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, or the New York Times.  What differentiates me is that I disclose my bias instead of hiding behind a report of “the news.”  When I learned journalism, that disclosure was required.  Now, it seems that the line between journalism and marketing has become very muddled at best.

Because so many of you are wondering, “Are these the last days?”  “Is Jesus Coming Soon?”  “Should We Be Afraid?”  Let’s see if we can answer some of your questions and allay some of your fears.  Let’s talk about The Second Coming of Christ.

There are 1845 references to the Second Coming of Christ contained in the Old and New Testaments.  It is a subject of prominence.  There are 318 references to the Second Coming contained in the 260 chapters of the New Testament, roughly 1 in every 30 verses.  In fact, for every reference to the initial birth of Christ, there are 8 references to His return.  It is a subject of significance.  23 of the 27 Books in the New Testament allude to the event, and of the four that do not, 3 are single chapter letters written to individuals for a specific purpose.  It is a subject of preeminence.

The Second Coming of Christ is still one of the most debated theological subjects.  Biblical scholars are divided as to the method of His coming, the manner of His coming, and the moment of His coming.  Fundamentally, one must ask, “Is the Christ Really Coming?”

While I am certain that we will not resolve every argument in this space, I want to give you the “Miller Theology” on the subject.  I will not take the space to quote every complete Scripture that I reference, but will give you the “address” so you can look into it for yourself.  I believe you receive the instruction given to the Bereans and look into matters on your own.

Asserted, Attested, and Anticipated

Jesus, Himself, asserted that He would return.  In the Gospel of John, chapter 14:1-2, Jesus is preparing his disciples for his crucifixion and death.  Some have suggested that this passage refers to His crucifixion and resurrection, but that interpretation is impossible on its face.  His words of comfort spoke of a time when He would take us to the place He prepared for us so that we would be with Him forever.  No one ascended with Him.  His words were of a future event.  This message is consistent with the message of redemption delivered from Genesis forward.  So, we begin with a direct promise that He would return.

Then, there is the testimony of the angels at the ascension in Acts 1:1-11.  Their words, “this same Jesus” are literal.  The words are significant.  There are some who believe in a “spiritual” return of Christ, meaning that His work continues or whenever someone adopts His lifestyle, He has “come again, “ but “this same Jesus” denies the viability of such a theology.  He is expected in a literal, physical, return.

His coming has been anticipated since the Ascension.  Paul wrote to the Thessalonians (I Thess 4:13-18) to encourage their faith and perseverance.  He reminded them that we do not grieve at the death of those we love like “those who have no hope.”  Believers have a hope that extends beyond this life.  It is anticipated that we will live beyond this life and it will be eternally “with” Christ.

Secular humanists are existential because they hold no hope of life beyond their last breath on this earth.  We, on the other hand, are clear that this life will be full of challenges, but life exists beyond this plane.

Is This “THE” Time?

Many theologians and scholars accede to the Second Coming of Christ, but spend their time and energy trying to answer the question, “When?????”  The renewed interest in Daniel chapter 11 comes about whenever timing becomes a popular issue.

I do believe that there will be war in the Middle East that will be beyond anything we have ever witnessed.  I believe the war will be for dominance in the Muslim world and will occur between “The King of the North” and “The King of the South” with Israel being both the scapegoat and the prize in the battle.  Daniel, chapter 11, gives context not only to the historical division of the Kingdoms referenced when the prophecy was given, but also to the cataclysmic events at the return of Christ.  You may reference “The NuZ” article, Will The Gaza Peace Hold? to read more on the subject.

But, are these the last days?

The simple and direct answer is, “We don’t know.”  Jesus was asked the essentially same question by His disciples in Matthew 24.  His answer was unequivocal.  “No one knows about that day or hour….”  Any time (including now) that you hear or read about someone fixing a date for His return, RUN!!!  The person is a false prophet, I care not his credentials.  The Bible is clear that we are NOT to do such.  But, in that same discourse, Jesus did give us a couple of descriptions of the times that we could recognize.

When He said it would be “as it was in the days of Noah” (v. 37-42), His message was that the people who were lost in the flood didn’t think that would happen.  Noah was considered an alarmist nut.  Society at large had no time for Noah’s message of impending judgment….and then it happened.   Christ’s return will occur to a society that will not listen, much less heed the message.

Jesus gives a bit more detail earlier in the conversation (v9-14).  He told His disciples, and us, that apostasy will be rampant.  He describes ridicule, rejection, and martyrdom.  He describes a time when the Gospel would be preached throughout the world, but that the opposition would be so strong that even those who have professed “love” would grow “cold” in their faith.

Any cogent analysis of the world situation would indicate that the indicators of His Coming are obvious, but that does not mean we should expect Him by December 21.  We are looking for His return, but not vacating our responsibilities to share the Gospel.

Israel is God’s chosen people.  The Palestinian issue has been ongoing since Ishmael and Isaac.  It will not conclude with Israel being annihilated.  Neither will there ever be a politically negotiated permanent solution in the Middle East.  The prophecies of Daniel will come to pass.  Only when Christ returns will peace be achieved.

The fact that Israel is becoming more and more isolated, even by the United States, is, in and of itself, an indicator of “the last days,” but we don’t know if these “last days” are THE last days.  There have been many times in history when the “last days” were proclaimed, all were obviously erroneous.

What We Do Know

Here’s what we can say, “If these are not the last days, when the last days come, they will look just like this!”

Will there be a ground war in the Gaza Strip?  Will there be an invasion of Israel?  The answer to both questions is ultimately, “Yes.”  Turkey needs Gaza for easy entrance into Egypt and Egypt needs to defend Gaza for that reason and others.  Both will use the Gaza conflict with Israel for their own political ends.  Will America abandon Israel?  Unfortunately, yes.  Will Israel cease to exist as a political entity?  Perhaps it will, for a time, but God is in Israel’s corner and they cannot “lose.”

Whatever the situation, we do not live in fear.  Our faith and hope is in the Prince of Peace, and that gives us peace.  Whether He comes before we exhale our current breath or does not come for another 1000 years does not affect the truth of the Gospel and the hope that we have in Him.

Jesus proclaimed that His Kingdom was not of this world.  Our citizenship is ultimately in His Kingdom so it is not profitable nor necessary to be worried about the political situation of this world.  Make sure that your citizenship in the Kingdom to come is assured.

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A Time To Give Thanks

 

 

A Christian Tradition

 Name the first three things that come to mind when I say Thanksgiving.

 That’s what I thought you’d say, “Turkey, football, and a nap!”

For many people those three things are really all the holiday is about.  Gorging, gang-tackling, and grabbing the couch.  But I have three other things worthy of your consideration at Thanksgiving.  How about, Praise, Prayer, and Purity?

Praise

 Now, praise is a divinely empowered weapon for human hands.  A life that is full of praise can overcome anything.  The Word tells us to put on the “mantle” (cloak or garment) of praise (Isaiah 61).  The instruction is to use it to replace the spirit of heaviness, fainting, or despair.  When you begin to praise the Lord, you are loosing a power that elevates you above storms and trials.  You are elevated to see from God’s perspective.  In most circumstances praise will remove the clouds from your vision to allow you to see God’s solution to the problem.  There are many Biblical examples of the results of God’s people overcoming with praise.  But the key is the “doing” and not the “preparing.”  The challenge for us is to use praise as a deadly weapon on a consistent basis to destroy the work of the enemy.  Praise is a better weapon than any defense that will ever take the field!!!

Prayer

And then there is prayer to consider.  Prayer is the discipline of seeking God’s heart for the many affairs of our life.  It is giving our heavenly Father the opportunity to influence our daily decisions.  Jesus said in Luke 19:46, “My house is a house of prayer…”  We are also told that the Church would become temples not made by human hands (that’s us folks).  There is a familiar chorus that states, “Know ye not, know ye not you are the temples of the Holy Ghost.”  The point is that our lives should be saturated with prayer.  We should be full and running over with the life of God from the time we spend in His presence; houses that are full of prayer.  We have talked and preached about it, but this is the season to do it.  Paul wrote to the Colossians and said, “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” (4:2).  “Devote” means to “give your entire person over to; set yourself apart unto a purpose; become addicted to; apply yourself wholeheartedly to.”  ‘Nuff said!  Instead of napping, start praying.

Purity

Finally, there is the word, “purity.”  The “Puritans” who founded the holiday here derived their name from the root word.  Purity means living according to the character and statutes of the Living God.  America has prospered because it has always had the Judeo-Christian ethic at its heart.  Our people have been blessed because our lifestyle has honored the Word of God and our society has been structured to acknowledge and honor and emulate the purity of Almighty God.  I genuinely fear that such is no longer true.

 In the Scripture, Israel prospered until sin overcame a majority of the people.  Israel was left to its own consequences when it ignored or denied the holiness of God.  America has known and taught the purity of the Scripture, but America is desperately in need of learning once again, “to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”   When you really think about it, our primary function as believers is to behold His beauty until it permeates every area of our life.  Another expression that is often used to express this concept is to be “filled” with Him.  The apostasy of our nation is blatant and overwhelming.  We need a true awakening of purity and holiness.

 There is no doubt that the Thanksgiving turkey looks so good when it comes to the table, it tastes so good when passing over our tongue, it fills our tummy ‘til we think we won’t ever be able to eat another bite.  But it doesn’t satisfy for very long.  Before the day is over, we’re back in the kitchen looking for a snack.  Not so, the purity, the holiness of God.  Beholding His beauty, permeated with His power, sated with His splendor, and meditating on His might brings satisfaction that is incomparable.  Sin loses its attraction when compared to the beauty and grace of our Lord.

 This Thanksgiving, as you pass the cranberry sauce, think Praise, Prayer, and Purity…enjoy, share, and be blessed.

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NOW THAT THE ELECTION IS OVER

 

Political and Spiritual Realities

 Mourning the political loss of last Tuesday has been the dominant theme among those of us who “live” on the internet, discussing and reading Christian and political commentary.  There is no doubt that the re-election of President Obama came as a genuine shock and disappointment to the many Christians who espouse the traditional Biblical values upon which this country was founded, me included.  However, winners and losers in God’s eyes are neither Democrat nor Republican.  His Kingdom is not of this world.  In fact, “He that overcomes the world is he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (I John 5:5)

Many Christians have never seen themselves as a “remnant” even though the Bible calls us that again and again.  Constantine may have legitimized Christianity, but Scripture makes it very clear that light will always struggle against darkness and the majority will always choose darkness.  Many are genuinely grieving over what they see as the death of America.  But, I would submit, that even with all the political and economic uncertainty, there are a couple of things that are absolute and certain.

 How about God’s Word on real  winners?  “To him that overcomes, God will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” (Rev 2:7)  And, “He will also be clothed with white raiment, and instead of his name being blotted out of the book of life, Jesus will confess his name before the Father and His angels.” (Rev. 3:5)

 I am absolutely convinced that attitude is reflected in performance.  Unfortunately, our attitude is directly linked to our emotions, and our emotions are affected by the information we gather from various sources.  What that means, as any computer geek knows, is GIGO. “Garbage In, Garbage Out.”

 Read newspapers, watch TV, listen to radio, access the Internet and fill your mind with information, most of which disregards or denigrates our faith in God (Garbage In) and I guarantee you will display an attitude of defeat and dismay (Garbage Out).  Your work is affected, your relationships are affected, even the simple enjoyment of life is affected.  But, God doesn’t change.  His Word is just as true as it was before the election.

The election proved what we already knew but did not want to acknowledge; we are a deeply divided nation.  Our Christian influence has dwindled over the past few decades.  Clearly, no overwhelming mandate was give to the Democrats.  No candidate crushed another.  At the end of the day, the status quo was pretty much maintained.  There is one constant in politics and that is “struggle.”  No victory is ever permanent, nor is any defeat, unless the battle is abandoned.

Veterans Assured Your Freedom to Participate

Sunday was Veteran’s Day.  It is an annual celebration of the men and women who have defended, some with their lives, the rights and privileges we exercised last week.  Whether you agree with the election or not, it was the free exercise of the vote that our Veterans sacrificed to preserve.  Veterans know about struggle.  Veterans know about sustaining battles.  Veterans know about losing battles, but winning wars.  Veterans know about sacrifice.

 The more troubling part of the election was not the outcome, but the lack of participants.  Roughly 125 million people voted.  That number is appalling.  Fewer people voted in this election than in 2008.  The population of the country increased, but the vote decreased.  What is wrong with this picture?  Vets died so that you, YOU, could have a say in the leadership of the nation, and you didn’t bother?

 What is troubling is the number of Christians who did not vote and are proud of it.  Forgive me, you remind me of the Pharisees who wrapped their robes and crossed the street so they wouldn’t have to deal with a beaten and dying Samaritan.

 I have no doubt that, given the chance, Christians in Sudan would have voted.  Christians in Syria would have voted.  Christians in China would have voted.  Christians in North Korea would have voted.  Christians in any of the “stans” would have voted.  I hope you get the point. Your silence was deafening.  You need to engage! 

 My father-in-law is a Christian, a retired missionary, and a proud Veteran.  He has sacrificed his life to bring men and women to Jesus Christ.  He has “served” through all manner of political administrations.  As a missionary, he even “served” under dictatorships.  The constant in his life is his witness; it was never compromised, never changed, though often challenged.  His commitment to the Truth has rendered him immovable and unflappable.  To this day, he is engaged in the struggle for men’s souls.  I aspire to be like him.

 So…Christian…square your shoulders today, the battle is not over.  Remember what the Scripture commands, “Rejoice!”  “Give thanks unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ (II Cor 2:14) knowing that no weapon formed against you will prosper, and every tongue that rises up against you in judgment you shall condemn for this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord. (Isa 54:17).”  Our battle does not end with a four year term in the White House, it is for an eternity in God’s House called, “Heaven.”

Don’t be discouraged.  Don’t ever forget, Satan thought he had won on Friday…but Sunday was coming!

 

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Decision Time

Make A Decision!

Decisions, decisions, decisions!  We all have to make them and we all procrastinate as long as we can with difficult decisions.  We say, “We’re trying to get all the facts before we decide,” but we are really trying to decide what happens if we do this and what happens if we do that…if we’re not sure, we prefer to put off the decision hoping that someone or something will make it for us.  (You’re probably not like that, but the rest of us are)

Well, tomorrow is Decision Day.  It is more than Election Day.  It is a day in which we will decide on a direction that our nation will take for the next several decades.  Your children and grandchildren will be effected by the decision you make tomorrow.  If that seems melodramatic, I assure you it is not.

Consider These Decisions…

It was an ELECTED judge whose decision began the rulings that led Roe v. Wade to the Supreme Court where justices appointed by ELECTED Presidents and confirmed by ELECTED Senators made a decision (against over 100 years of precedent law) that abortion was legal.  That initial ruling is now being interpreted as a “right.”

It was a Supreme Court APPOINTED by ELECTED Presidents and confirmed by ELECTED Senators that made the decision that God was to be removed from our society.  The Court’s decision was that the Constitution provided for a “separation clause” that has been used to work toward a secular society.  The Court’s decision was not based on a strict interpretation of the document, and its interpretation still plagues this nation.

It was an ELECTED Senate that, for political reasons alone, made the decision to allow a man, disbarred for lying, to remain President.  And the currently ELECTED President makes Mr. Clinton look like a saint.

Here’s Why YOU Need To Make A Decision

Mr. Obama has called the United States a “post-Christian” nation.  It was Mr. Obama’s decision that has plunged the United States into more debt in four years than his predecessors combined.  It has been Mr. Obama’s decision to lie about his faith.  The decision or decisions made regarding the events in Benghazi ultimately lie with Mr. Obama.  It was Mr. Obama’s decision to send out surrogates to blame an obscure video for an Al-Qaida attack.

It was Mr. Obama’s decision to appoint and approve an Attorney General who has thumbed his nose at Congress and everyone else.  The decision to pass what has become known as “Obamacare” was made in the middle of the night by ELECTED officials who cared nothing for the unintended consequences of their actions.

It is the decision of the Department of Health and Human Services and its APPOINTED Secretary, to require employers to “cover” abortive and contraceptive drugs to their employees even though their personal religious convictions are violated.

Saul Alinsky was never elected to any office, but his beliefs and writings have been studied and believed by liberal democrats for decades.  Contrary to the Judeo-Christian eithic upon which this nation was founded, Alinsky’s philosophy has been blatantly adopted as public policy by the current administration.  Every decision that this administration has made is tainted with Alinsky’s sewage.

My Decision Is A Matter of Faith

Please don’t think that I am so naïve as to believe that the Republican ticket is perfect, but the alternative makes my decision relatively easy.  Governor Romney was not my first choice for a candidate, but the socialist, godless, anti-family, morally bankrupt agenda put forth by the Democrats and Barack Obama is beyond my contempt.  As a Christian, not a Republican, I cannot allow Barak Obama and the democrats the opportunity to APPOINT anyone who will continue to marginalize the Church, violate the sanctity of life, and to thumb their noses at those of us who believe that values matter.

As I said earlier, my decision in my personal vote does not reveal naivete.  Romney may be a better decision but I do not (and probably will not) agree with all of his policies.  However, I do believe he will restore a measure of dignity to the Office of President.  And, I do believe that he hold a faith in Almighty God that the current administration disdains.

It is time for you to make your decision.  I call, today, for you to vote tomorrow.  If you don’t agree with me, go vote just to cancel me out!  Get involved in the process, make a decision.  Your vote, your decision, might make the difference between a baby living and dying, your kids learning the value and importance of prayer, and continuing to worship the God whom we serve freely.

Moses challenged Israel to make a decision to serve the Lord and Joshua did likewise.  Joshua’s words seem to summarize my feelings on this day before Decision Day.  “. . .if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.  But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD!”

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