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My Hope Is Found in Nothing Less

Think back ten years or so. What was your life like? For most of us, it was pretty pleasant overall. We all had our challenges and trials and some walked through very deep waters, but, overall, no matter what trial we went through our outer world remained stable. Our way of life was not threatened.

Most of us didn’t realize what a treasure that was.

We went about our days with nary an interest in what was going on in the world or on the screens in our homes or in our kids’ schools or at work. We didn’t get too upset about much of anything and, in fact, joined much of what was going on if it wasn’t “too bad.” We didn’t get up in arms about sin or sinful living (and even brought it into our homes via the TV), as long as it didn’t affect us personally.

But, eventually, it would affect us. The world around us with its fascination with sin and sorcery would eventually affect all of us.

And so here we are. The time has finally come. We are watching the fabric of our country being eroded away. And many are angry.

But why weren’t we angry before?

I heard someone say something that gave me some insight into this. I found it rather profound and insightful as to what is going on in our Christian culture right now. And perhaps even in our own hearts.

Here is a paraphrase: If you are only angry at Disney now, then what is the reason for your anger? Because Disney has always been evil. Always full of magic and sorcery and evil. Why are you angry now?

Do you know why we are all so angry?

It is because their evil is not cute anymore. It’s not expressed by cute little fairies and pretend villains. Instead, it is overt and threatens the very core of our country. And this means a change in our own lives. It means we are or will be affected personally.

So are we upset because it is an offense against God? Or are we upset because we are losing something we love? They are two very different things. One is righteous anger. The other, self-centered.

Emotion steals our judgement. When we grow angry or frustrated we don’t make wise decisions. This emotion of sinful anger is what propels crowds in riots or moves someone to do something they regret for the rest of their life. It is a powerful tool in the hands of Satan.

As believers, we need to really think about this. Everywhere we turn we are told by many on the “white” side (conservative, mainstream evangelical side) to be angry. Get angry and fight for your country! Fight the tyranny! The cries for this are everywhere.

Now, I am strongly against tyranny. And I am deeply grieved over what I see happening to our country. But why? Why am I angry or grieved?

If I am honest, it is because it is affecting me.

If more of us would have been angry or grieved at the sin in this culture twenty, thirty, fifty years ago, it probably wouldn’t be in the state it is in. Surely, we realize that the sin that was pervading the American culture would eventually lead to this day? Did we honestly expect to ignore what was going on around us and never experience the devastating ramifications?

So is anger the correct response to what is happening in the world around us? Perhaps at some level, righteous anger is to be expected. But this is not what will change the world. And, in fact, we are not going to change the world. Scripture makes this abundantly clear. Our hope is not in this world. We are to think on things above and not on things on this earth (Colossians 3:2).

But there is another piece of this that we need to explore. What you will hear from this “white” side is that we must fight together to make the world a better place.

And, in fact, if you claim to believe in God’s timetable for the future of the coming rapture and Tribulation, the Christian “intellectuals” and mainstream evangelicals of our current Christian culture ridicule you and accuse you of being a person without hope who simply wants to escape.

So about that. Do I want to escape? You bet I do. I am so very thankful that God set it up to take His bride out of this world before the Tribulation unfolds. That is not an untrue statement but I fail to see why it is viewed as such a negative thing.

As for being hopeless…we, of all people, have hope! In fact, Titus 2:13 tells us to be looking for this hope!–

looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

You see, our hope is in Jesus! Not in this world. Never in this world.

This world is fading away (Isaiah 24:4) but God and His Word never fade away (Isaiah 40:8)!

I Peter 1:3-5 tells us where our hope should lie as believers–

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance [b]incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Without hope? That is just an empty accusation. Nothing could be further from the truth for the true Christian.

My hope is found in nothing less than Jesus’s blood and righteousness! (I will put the rest of the lyrics of this great hymn of the faith at the end of this post. It really does concisely express what we Christians should be thinking and feeling right now in this place in this time.)

It is so important that, in our desperation and anger with the world around us, we don’t lose sight of what the Bible teaches regarding the world and its inevitable future.

The Bible is our anchor. It is our only hope in discerning what is true and not true. It shows us what God hates so that we also know what to hate–whether it is affecting us personally or not. It is our only hope in piecing a puzzle together that sometimes doesn’t make any sense at all.

And it reminds us of what is to come and that we Christians will escape it. Praise God for this promise! There is no shame in being glad that God has promised to deliver us from the the specific time He has set in place to pour His wrath down upon this earth.

It is a strange time to live. But, in reflecting upon Revelation and the things we know are to come, we are now realizing that these things could never have happened in a vacuum. And so what we are seeing is the great setup for what is to come. These things are no surprise to God and they should come as no surprise to us.

So bear up under the ridicule and antagonism that will surely grow against believers who cling to the literal interpretation of scripture. And be encouraged! It is all making more sense than we could have ever dreamed. We are watching piece after piece of the end times puzzle come together in a way that would have seemed impossible even three years ago.

So let’s continue to study the Word and be watchful. And may our hope be found in nothing less than Jesus!

Someday soon now, those of us that have placed our faith in Christ alone, will meet Him in the air, leaving this wicked world behind us forever! Oh, what a day that will be!

 

On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

Refrain:
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

 

 

The Power of Social Media

I was following a woman on Instagram who filled her stories with interesting information. Most of it I already knew. Some of it was new. And I was skeptical of quite a bit of it, as well. But she talked about Jesus and the Bible and the return of Christ and, so it seemed, even if a bit misguided, that she was fairly solid.

Until the day she had her followers ask her questions.

Oh, my, what a mess! She was encouraging mysticism while warning against mysticism. It would have been comical if it wasn’t so sad. She was speaking of Christ and His coming, while turning the attention of her followers to the books that “didn’t make it into the Bible” along with scripture. Oh, the danger of this! She is clearly so confused and I can’t help but think of the many women she is leading into confusion right along with her by answering those questions with authority and as if she knows.

For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

(I Corinthians 14:33)

And then, recently, we have been watching many in the reformed crowd, who have been historical amillennialists (believe we are in the millennium right now) turn post-millennial (believe we need to prepare the earth for Christ’s return before the millennium can start). What does this mean? Well, simply put, it means that these powerful presences on social media are encouraging their followers to change the culture and fix the world in preparation for Christ’s return.

For example, Dale Partridge, well-known and trusted by many believers, recently said this (emphasis mine):

“Sadly, the “Left Behind” series has shaped America’s eschatology more than scripture has. As a result, the church has become chronically pessimistic, disengaged, and now embraces a culture where we wait for decay rather than work toward dominion. Do not retreat, revive!”

Wait…what?? There are Christians who actually believe this? Yes, many. Maybe most of them now.

He is accusing the eschatology (the doctrine of last, or final, matters) of Left Behind as being unbiblical. While I don’t necessarily condone the movies; the ideas of the rapture, tribulation, and thousand-year reign are clearly in scripture.

If Partridge doesn’t believe this, then what does he believe IS scriptural? From that quote, we must assume it is the false doctrine of Dominionism. This is the false teaching that we must prepare the earth and build God’s Kingdom before Christ can return. (I probably should write about this false teaching of Post-Millennialism/Dominionism so you can see that this is clearly not in scripture, no matter how many people say it is.)

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:

(2 Timothy 3:1)

 

But here’s my point of this post: Christians are being swayed and confused by those they follow on social media. I gave two examples but there are thousands more like them. Christians have followed these people and have found them to be biblical. They have grown to trust them for truth. They view their opinions as authoritative without ever going to the Bible to check if what they say is true. And I understand. It is a lot easier to scroll through social media than it is to get out your Bible and study it. It just is.

But if we have little knowledge of the Bible, then we will be unable to judge if what we are hearing is actually true. Most of us have also never been taught church history so it is easy to imbibe the lies that we read on social media or hear from our favorite authors and speakers.

One such example is the lie that the pre-trib rapture/pre-millennial eschatology is a “new” theory. It’s actually not. There are examples of many from the early church who believed in both the rapture and a literal millennium (It was called Chiliasm back then). It wasn’t until Augustine spiritualized the Old Testament that the eschatology of the church went impossibly askew. But most people don’t know this. I didn’t know this myself until only recently when I finally took the time to delve into the subject because the confusion around it is growing exponentially.

So, my caution for today is that we take great care in who we follow. If someone is talking about fixing the culture or building God’s Kingdom, be wary. If someone is talking about kooky, extra-biblical stuff and taking the focus off of scripture, be wary. If someone says something “new” from scripture that you’ve never heard before, don’t only be wary but research it.

This phenomenon of social media is scary. People can become “famous” overnight. They can go viral just because they put up a cute or compelling video. Just because someone can make a reel or gives interesting information does not mean that they can be trusted. Just because someone has an immense following on social media does not mean they can be trusted.

We’ve been conditioned to believe that where there is popularity there is truth. But I have personally found the opposite to be true: Run the opposite direction of the crowd if you want to find the truth.

So be careful. Be oh, so careful, who you follow. And do your own Bible Study. Do your own study of Christian history. I know, for many of you, your immediate response is probably “but that’s not my ‘thing’ “. I know it is not everyone’s “thing”. But, quite honestly, I am not sure, in this current age, that we can afford to say that anymore. The deception is growing exponentially and the bottom line is this: LIES can only be overcome with TRUTH.

Many of us have viewed eschatology as a “secondary issue” and thought it didn’t matter all that much. But we are finding out that it matters a great deal. For Satan is using wrong eschatology to prepare the world for the antichrist system.

May we be diligent and persevere in our study of God’s Word. May we be dedicated to interpreting it literally, grammatically, historically. May we be willing to do the work to test EVERYTHING by the Bible. May we be willing to research historical statements when necessary. May we be willing to stand strong, no matter the ridicule we get.

And may we gladly join the unpopular remnant in believing what the Bible clearly teaches: The rapture is close and the Tribulation is just around the corner.

It may be a negative message for the world, but for those who are redeemed, it’s the most positive message we could ask for at this juncture!

 

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,  looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

(Titus 2:11-14)

 

Some Thoughts About the Roe vs. Wade Reversal

The Christian world is full of joy and gladness at the reversal of Roe vs. Wade. And, understandably so. This will hopefully mean lives will be saved. But…

And, yes, I will use the word “but” because there is a huge “but” to consider.

Before I get into that, I want to give a bit of the big picture to what’s going on in America currently. There are two sides– the black and the white; the left and the right; the liberal and the conservative. There is a fight– what most would believe is a fight between the “good” and the “evil”.

But I would submit to you that those two sides are actually two wings of the same bird. They are not separate and opposite but actually working together to aid in bringing in the reign of the Antichrist. (Keep reading to understand what I mean…)

So what does the Bible say about the “culture war”?

It makes it pretty clear that believers are not here to change the culture. We are here to share the Gospel. Our purpose is not to make the world moral (for how would that even be possible without Christ??) but to win the lost. We are not here to change the politics of our nation but to make an impact for Christ. We are not here to build God’s physical Kingdom (do we really think He needs our help for this??) but we are given the privilege to help build God’s spiritual Kingdom (because we know He doesn’t really need us for this either but clearly desires to use us in this way).

Since Matthew 7:13-14 make it abundantly clear that the way is narrow and few are they that find it, we know that the typical response to our sharing of the Gospel will be rejection. We know that relatively few will repent of their sins and turn to Christ. While there have been occasional pockets of revival, it is clear from scripture that we should not expect this.

Now, with this in mind, let’s consider what is currently happening in our culture. You may have heard of the terms “Post-millenialism”, “Kingdom Now”, “Dominionism”, “Optimistic Amillenialism” and “Seven Mountains Mandate”. Basically (in a simplified nutshell), all of these teach that Christians are mandated to build God’s physical Kingdom on this earth right now. That we are to work together to make the world a better place, in order to prepare it for Christ’s return. Some of these say the Gospel will be what changes and prepares this world for Christ (which flies in the face of Matthew 7) and others don’t care a bit about the Gospel. But they all have the same focus: Preparing the World for Christ’s Second Coming.

This goes against all that is in scripture regarding the end of the age and the last days (Matthew 24; 2 Timothy 3). But, beyond that, we can see how it will play into the hands of the coming Antichrist. Why? you may ask. Simply because he will give the impression–at least at the beginning–that he is the Messiah, come to bring in His Kingdom in response to their efforts.

There will be a short-lived hope in the “peace” that he will bring at first (See Revelation 6). But that will last for only a short time before the real truth of the situation sets in for those who are entering the Tribulation.

With this in mind, I want to share something a friend of mine wrote about the Roe vs. Wade decision and its part in this battle between “good and evil” that is really just a theatrical play designed to prepare the world for the Antichrist.

Here is what she wrote–

It is leading more people to follow the post-millenial narrative which is completely unbiblical and dangerous. Even the so called pre-tribbers are joining the “cause.” Instead of looking to God’s Word, everyone is now fighting the “culture,” fighting the government. As if we are going to turn the tide of apostasy back towards God.

This decision has not changed hearts. Yes, praise God for saving babies!

But I even saw a post that said God is gaining ground in America!!? God has always been able to do as He pleases. And, yes, God hates abortion, but people are completely missing the point: A “moral” society does not equal a saved society. We are not to be transforming the culture, but instead sharing the Gospel!

Certainly getting rid of abortion is wonderful, but it is not our focus. In the end the majority of people are still headed to hell.

And the worst part is that the so-called church is in a frenzy to rebel and to fight the culture, but they are not concerned with hearts. Post-millenialists think they need to fix the world so Jesus can return. They actually believe that they literally need to transform society so Jesus can come back! And this will all lead to the Antichrist because as they see society getting better….

Obviously the true Church will be taken in the rapture (on God’s timeline, of course). But as society improves and the Antichrist rises up touting peace and likely morals, he will show them great signs and wonders. They will believe he is Jesus, and they will worship the beast.

This is just another step towards the end, and it has actually led more people into deception. It is all part of the false light agenda. Satan is very clever, and he has shown people the evil in the world on purpose. The tyrannical government has pushed people to rebel. People are completely focused on the world, and they are fighting to fix it. And now the abortion law is overturned, and they think they are making progress. They have completely forgotten the great commission.

This is all part of the set up to pull more people into deception. God has brought judgment on our nation for our wickedness certainly. God sets up rulers to judge wicked nations, but the true wickedness is in the Church which is quickly moving into apostasy. And God has promised to send a strong delusion, and we can already see such blindness in the Church.

Let us stay humble and look to Him and stay in the Word. Let us share the gospel! God will keep His remnant!

I think she has summed up what is happening perfectly. We need to pray that God would show us the truth. That He would keep us from deception and give us wisdom and keep our eyes focused on Him rather than on the culture. To trust only Him rather than those humans who would mislead us into error.

I have been stunned and disappointed at the amount of “prophecy watchers” who are preaching rebellion and “culture-changing”. Something is not right. I have been stunned and disappointed at the amount of “Discernment bloggers” who will call out the obvious but still hob-knob with and promote those in their circles who have clearly fallen away.

Don’t. Trust. Anyone. Don’t trust you favorite author, preacher, speaker. Don’t trust your favorite discernment blogger or prophecy updater. Don’t even trust me.

Trust no one but God and His Word.

Yes, I know this sounds like a very negative way to live. I know many of you will be put off by such a message. But I believe with my whole heart that we are in an age of unprecedented deception that is leading to the Tribulation that we read about in Revelation. We don’t have the luxury to let down our guards. And so we must all put on our armor (Ephesians 6:10f) and view all with a healthy skepticism, just as the Bereans did in Acts 17:11. It is truly our only hope to understand what’s really going on and keep us from getting swept away into apostasy.

 

 

Sometimes a Look Back Is Invaluable

The past is a tricky thing. Look back too often and you may end up in the quick sands of pride or bitterness. Never look back and you might repeat your mistakes. But there is always much to be gained by looking back at the lives of those who have gone before us. Unfortunately, this is generally neglected and viewed as “boring”.

I am deeply saddened by this because it is from these godly men and women of the past that we find examples of God-fearing, stand-firm-no-matter-what, holy Christian lives. God has always had His remnant–the true Church– woven throughout history. It has never been a group of great size or much popularity and it was often persecuted mercilessly. But it was always there.

If you have never heard of the Covenanters, the Huguenots, the Anabaptists, the Reformers, or the Dissenters then you may be unfamiliar with the persecution of the past. These are some of the more well-known persecuted groups. There are countless others.

Parenthetically, the true Church has been most persecuted by the followers of the false religion that goes by the name of Catholicism. It never fails to astound me to see the efforts to join with this church when I know the history of it. Only recently, I saw a video of Matt Redman and Chris Tomlin worshiping at the feet of the pope. These two popular artists are known by all. If not by name then by their songs, which are sung in churches around the world. Their apostasy in this way should alarm us beyond measure!

Protestants (named thus because they protested the false doctrines and abuses of the Catholic church) fought long and hard to divide from Catholicism. Many, many lost their lives pulling away from this false church to join Christ’s true Church. They lost their lives in horrible, unconscionable ways. Should we now join it in the name of unity and ecumenism? May it never be!

Some of the stories of these martyrs are recorded in a book called Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Which I read just a little at a time. It’s taking me years. Literally.

It’s actually a little overwhelming. So why would I even want to read a book like this?

There are a few reasons. I want to tell you what they are and then share a profound excerpt from the book itself.

First, one of the main reasons I like to read this book is to remind myself that God’s promises are true. He really will never forsake us. Even when we are overwhelmed by evil and wickedness in this life. Even when we are attacked, ridiculed, or betrayed. Prison, death sentences, or banishment can’t remove God’s grace and blessing from His children.

The accounts of these martyrs, recorded in this book written in the mid-1500s, are filled with amazing stories of God’s all-sufficient grace. Firmly standing on God’s Word, these men and women refused to recant in front of councils and in trials. There are many records of a martyr singing as he or she burns on the pyre. This can only be strength that comes from God.

So let me tell you… this is a LOT easier to write than to actually contemplate. We can tremble with apprehension when we consider what might lie ahead. But the testimonies of these faithful ones are a much needed reminder that God’s grace will be sufficient for whatever lies ahead.

Second, this book is a reminder of the price that has been paid by the true Church throughout the ages. Satan hates the Bride the Christ. He will do anything he can to shut it down. He has tried to snuff it out (persecution) and he has tried to join it (false religions that use the Bible). But God’s true Church lives on. Yes, it is small and unimpressive, by the world’s standards. But the Holy Spirit has moved and worked throughout the ages and continues to do so. The true Church will live on until she is raptured and taken home where Christ has prepared a place for her (John 14:1-4).

Third, a book like this (along with so many others that tell of the sufferings of believers in other times and lands) reminds us that suffering for speaking the truth should be expected. The Truth of the Word is never welcome to the world. Yes, the Holy Spirit continues His work of convicting and drawing individuals but it will never be the majority. The Word of God will never be appealing to the world at large, which loves its sin and wants no accountability. Wherever someone stands for Christ and His Word, there will be hatred and hostility. Some will give up their years in a prison or give their lives. Others will pay with their reputations or by losing precious relationships. Ridicule, attacks, and suffering should be expected. There is always a cost involved in following Christ whole-heartedly. Always.

And, finally, fourth, it is a great reminder that we need to fear only God. Matthew 10:28 says this–

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 

It is easy to get caught up in protecting our physical selves, isn’t it? I think many of us were surprised at how precious our lives were to us a couple of years ago in the midst of the 2020 craziness. We Christians thought we had our eyes on eternity but, all of a sudden, we had to actually ask ourselves that question. Do I have an eternal perspective? Or am I loving this world? That time made me really consider the hope that I had within me. Was it based on things above or was it based in this world?

These are questions we believers need to answer now. We need to build our healthy fear of God, which will naturally diminish our sinful fears. We need to strengthen our hearts and minds through our memorization and study of the Bible. We need to redeem the time in these evil days and stop squandering it on frivolous, worthless things. We need to pray that God would strengthen and prepare us for whatever lies ahead. And reading a few biographies of Christians who refused to waver wouldn’t hurt, either.

Since I know not all of you will pick up a book and start reading, I wanted to share this small excerpt from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. It profoundly impacted me. I thought it may also do the same for you–

*A merchant of Prague, going to Breslaw, in Silesia, happened to lodge in the same inn with several priests. Entering into conversation upon the subject of religious controversy, he passed many encomiums upon the martyred John Huss, and his doctrines. The priests taking umbrage at this, laid an information against him the next morning, and he was committed to prison as a heretic. Many endeavours were used to persuade him to embrace the Roman catholic faith, but he remained steadfast to the pure doctrines of the reformed church. Soon after his imprisonment, a student of the university was committed to the same jail; when, being permitted to converse with the merchant, they mutually comforted each other. On the day appointed for execution, when the jailer began to fasten ropes to their feet, by which they were to be dragged through the streets, the student appeared quite terrified, and offered to abjure his faith, and turn Roman catholic if he might be saved. The offer was accepted, his abjuration was taken by a priest, and he was set at liberty. A priest applying to the merchant to follow the example of the student, he nobly said, “Lose no time in hopes of my recantation, your expectations will be vain; I sincerely pity that poor wretch, who has miserably sacrificed his soul for a few more uncertain years of a troublesome life; and, so far from having the least idea of following his example, I glory in the very thoughts of dying for the sake of Christ.” On hearing these words, the priest ordered the executioner to proceed, and the merchant being drawn through the city was brought to the place of execution, and there burnt.

Read what the merchant “nobly said” once more.

This is the bottom line, is it not? May we never “sacrifice our soul for a few more uncertain years”. May we never sacrifice our soul for a bit of popularity or in our desire to be admired by the world. May we never sacrifice our soul to keep the peace. May we never sacrifice our soul to be spared a moment of ridicule or embarrassment.

By God’s grace, may we never sacrifice our souls.

Oh, these are evil days as the world grows more and more hostile to biblical truth. But God still reigns and nothing can touch us until He says so. May we soldier on in full armor as His ambassadors in this world until He calls us home.

 

 

 

 

*Foxe, John. Fox’s Book of Martyrs (Or A History of the Lives, Sufferings, and TriumphantDeaths of the Primitive Protestant Martyrs). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.

What Does the Bible Say About… (Patriotism)?

Today I want to ask the question: What Does the Bible Say About Patriotism? And then turn to the scriptures to see if we can find the answer. In the recent years, Patriotism has seemed to be rising in a great wave across some lands. So what does the Bible have to say about this? Or does it say anything at all?

We certainly tend to feel patriotic when our country is at war or our nation is threatened. It is understandable to feel a bond with our fellow countrymen during difficult or troubling times. It is even understandable to want to unify with our fellow man to make our country a better place to live.

I have been watching many Christians join with people of all faiths to “make America great again”. I, like you, are watching the waves of “Great Awakening” Tours crisscross this land. We are being told that we will make the world wonderful if we just come together to make certain changes and perform specified social actions. And if we do not want to help, then we are guilty of not loving our country or our fellow man.

For some of you, I’d imagine there is some pressure to join this trend, for many churches have joined this growing movement.

So how should we feel about patriotism? Shouldn’t we love our country? What place should patriotism actually have in a Christian’s life?

While I haven’t (thus far) found anything in scripture declaring it is inherently wrong with loving one’s country or even fighting for it, I do believe it is so important to keep it all in perspective by seeing what scripture has to say about who we are in Christ. (This is not an exhaustive look at this subject. If you have something to add that I have missed, please comment below). But, from my own personal study of this subject, I have come to this conclusion–

 

We are pilgrims and sojourners. This world is not my home.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. (Hebrews 11:13)

 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, (I Peter 2:11)

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, (Philippians 3:20)

 

From these verses, we learn that, as believers, we are to consider ourselves sojourners on this earth. We are just passing through on our journey to get home–our real home which is heaven. Jesus is preparing a place for us that will be glorious beyond anything we can think or imagine–

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” (John 14:1-4)

But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (I Corinthians 2:9)

 

Now, you may be thinking– are these two things mutually exclusive? Can’t I be passionately patriotic while still understanding that this world is not my home? Perhaps.

But what I have noticed is that, oftentimes, patriotism edges out passion for Christ. When we get caught up in the temporal happenings of this world we get distracted from our true purpose and calling as followers of Christ.

Patriotism, at least in this current age, is also being used to unify people in order to make this world a better place. On the surface, this sounds amazing. Who wouldn’t agree with this?

But, again, as we search the scriptures and evaluate the world around us, we know that man will never have their utopia here on earth. Since the beginning of time, this has been the goal. And ungodly men who have no thought for God believe they can attain it. In fact, they think they are so close now that they can almost taste it.

But will the world get better and better?

Scripture tells us, oh so plainly, that it will not.

But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matthew 24:37)

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, [b]unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

I have only given two of many scripture passages that refer to the “end of the age”, “the last days”, or the second coming of Christ. It is abundantly clear that the world will worsen and worsen until God’s wrath pours down upon it in those horrible tribulation years.

Except for one brief moment. For one fraction of a moment, it will seem that all is peaceful and perfectly unified. (see Revelation 6:1-2)

So is it wrong for me to be patriotic?

No, there is nothing in scripture that would lead us to believe it is wrong to love our country. In fact, we are told to obey our leaders and submit to them (Romans 13:1). But, just as a visitor to another country loves that country and respects its leaders, so we, too, as pilgrims, love and respect the countries that aren’t our true homes.

I think the passage that has had the most influence over me over the past few years is Colossians 3:1-4. I had memorized it for no reason (at least not any reason I knew) except that it seemed like a good core chapter to know. And, while I have a good bit of the whole chapter memorized, it’s those first four verses that have weaved their way through my brain and heart, constantly reminding me that this world is not my home. As I have meditated on these verses I have come to realize that my passion and efforts should be spent mostly on the things that are above and not on things of the earth–such as fixing this temporal world, being popular, making our country “great again”.

Of course, we must give great attention to this life. We must work in order to have money to live, we need to care for our families, and, yes, we are called to be good citizens. But all of this should be done always with an eternal perspective in mind and a heart that is willing to submit to God’s sovereignty and to obey His Word.

As believers, we must first and foremost submit our dreams and desires to God’s will. His will may not be to take any of our nations (I know many of you do not live in America) back to the “good old days” or on to a “brighter and better future”. But, rather, I suspect, it is the coming end of the age, where the nations are now being prepared for that final evil kingdom before Christ returns to reign which is foretold in Revelation.

And, so while we can and should love our countries and do what we can to make them a better place to live, the fervor given to this should pale in comparison to our passion for Christ. Our hearts and minds should be focused on Christ and living for Him rather than on fixing what is wrong in this temporal and dying world. Our efforts, time, energy, and gifts should be used for increasing God’s Kingdom rather than any earthly kingdom. For we are His alone! We belong to God’s Kingdom now and we are just “a-passing through” this old world.

 

This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through,
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue;
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door,
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

This World is Not My Home, first verse (anonymous)

 

 

 

 

The Apostate Church

Sometimes it is only when we take some time to reflect on the past that we can see the vastness of the change that has occurred. Take our own kids, for example. We live with them day by day, hour by hour, but we never specifically notice their legs growing longer or their brain maturing. It’s not until they’ve grown up that we think through all the various changes and stages and recognize the enormity of the change. Or take a struggling marriage. Little by little, couples grow apart and possibly turn to others for comfort rather than to each other. It is not until it becomes painfully obvious that the couple stops and wonders how they got to where they are.

All change is like that and enormous change is no exception.

A few years ago, I was talking with my oldest daughter about the many changes that are taking place in the church. She told me that Uncle Dean’s (Pastor Dean Good) series on Jude was so helpful in regards to this subject. Preached in 2009, it gives a great picture of what the church of the last days will look like and gave her much insight.

So I listened. And then I listened another time. And this past week, I’ve listened one more time.

(If you’d like to listen, you will find the series here. Scroll down to the bottom for the first sermon of the series, titled Living in the Midst of the Worldly Church, and then work your way up.)

You see, God doesn’t just leave us wondering what the last days will look like. He actually gives us a picture. And He tells us that as we approach the end of this age, the church will become, by and large, apostate.

So you may be wondering: What does apostate mean, anyway?

Apostate, in this context, means to abandon true, biblical faith.

So, think with me if you will of how this has happened (this is not from the sermon series but from my own reflection of history.). This change has occurred –not over the last five years, not over the last twenty years, but over the last century or more. The change has been so gradual that most of us never took much notice. At first, it was just certain denominations that abandoned biblical faith. Others would soon follow suit. But there was still a core hanging on. For most of the 1900s, there was this core of evangelical, fundamental churches that hung on to sound biblical doctrine.

I was born in the 1960s. By the time I reached high school that core was starting to be carefully and intentionally corroded. But I, along with millions of other believers, had no idea. Now, I can look back and see. The worship battles that took place in churches all over the country were part of that change. As was the “purpose-driven” (or can you say BUSINESS) model for operating a church. The push to move the church’s focus from the Bible to personal experience was not an accident. Neither was the insistence that we must be “relevant” if we were going to reach the lost (a lie from the pit of hell.)

We can probably all look back and see signs of change. Now. We couldn’t see it then. Because we didn’t know.

I remember my youth pastor showing us worldly movies as a “youth activity” in the 80s. And I remember a pastor bringing in the Purpose-Driven church book to the board my husband was serving on. I can see now that many of the “Christian” books I read and the “Christian” music I listened to were filled with mysticism and all other kinds of false (but oh, so subtle) doctrine.

But, as with any change, I couldn’t see it then. It is only in looking back that I can see these signs (and so many others) of a church that was falling into apostasy.

And this is where Pastor Dean’s sermon series was so helpful. Because God gives us a description of this church of the last days. And it matches perfectly to what we have been seeing take place, not only in America but across the world. This simply serves as one more reminder that the time is short. Eschatologically, the mainstream “church” is just where we are told she will be at the end of the age. Remember, this is not the true Church, which is the bride of Christ that contains the remnant of those following the true, biblical faith. This is, rather, an apostate version that uses all the right terms and phrases but is godless.

Titus describes these types of people in chapter 1, verse 16–

They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being [d]abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

Lots of “professions” of salvation but no turning from sin or from the world. This is an indication that a true life transformation has not occurred. When these “professors” gather together in groups and call themselves a church, they make each other comfortable in their worldliness and acceptance of sin. They gladly grab on to the pleasant promises of God’s Word (if they pay attention to the Word at all) but ignore or rationalize away any of the unpleasant parts.

The church of today (almost without exception) is a church focused on self instead of God. It is a church focused on experiences instead of the Bible. It is a church that views discernment and negative words as evil and instead warmly accepts any and all new fodder that has a the label of “Christian”. And it is a church focused on embracing the world instead of separating from the world.

There are few churches left –even the ones we have counted on to be solid– that have stood firm against the tsunami of change that has washed over evangelicalism.

I was struck when I was studying Titus last week. Chapter 1 gives this qualification for church elders:  holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

If church elders would have obeyed this scripture, many churches would have been saved. Instead, they were caught up in other trivial matters as the serpent stole his way into the hearts of the churches.

Because of the lateness of the hour, there is no saving the church as a whole. But, with God’s help, you pastors and elders can save your own churches and you moms and dads can save your own families.

So what to do? Jude helps us! Let’s take a look at verses 20-23–

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

22 And on some have compassion, [j]making a distinction; 23 but others save [k]with fear, pulling them out of the [l]fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.

First, we must build ourselves up in the faith through prayer. We cannot withstand this Tsunami of apostasy without Bible study and prayer. It is truly our only anchor in this unprecedented and giant wave of change. And we must persevere, keeping ourselves in the love of God through our submission and obedience, as we look for Christ’s return that will take us to our eternal home.

And then we act. We take whatever opportunities God gives us to help. Sometimes that will mean showing compassion on doubters as we take them to the Word and other times it will mean snatching individuals from the serious danger of apostasy. The wisdom of what is needed for each opportunity will only come through walking closely with God through prayer and Bible Study.

So this is what God has told us to do as we navigate these last days. But Jude doesn’t end there. He goes on to give these marvelous words to conclude (verses 24-25)–

24 Now to Him who is able to keep [m]you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
25 To [n]God our Savior,
[o]Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and [p]power,
Both now and forever.
Amen.

What an amazing reminder that it is God who works in and through us for His glory. And we cannot stumble if He is our guide. And, while our path may be difficult during earth’s final days, the day will come when we will be presented faultless before the throne–only because of Christ’s sacrifice. And then there is this wonderful reminder that the God we serve has all wisdom, glory, majesty, dominion, and power. We are loved and protected by the one and only God of the Universe. It’s an awesome thought.

And so we are not left without counsel and wisdom for where we find ourselves in these days–even if we feel lost and lonely in our own church. As Pastor Dean has said–expect to be persecuted by those who call themselves Christians. True, biblical faith is not and will never be popular (John 15:18-19). True biblical faith stands clearly separated from the world (James 4:4). True, biblical faith grows in holiness (I Peter 1:15-16). And true biblical faith avoids false doctrine (Romans 16:17).

As we compare these things above to the church of today, we can see the tragic departure from true biblical faith. May we unapologetically and courageously follow God’s Word as we strive to walk with God in this unique time of history. Only by God’s grace and mercy will we survive what is ahead. But God is able to keep us from stumbling! He will not forsake us.

 

 

On Racism

Do any of you remember when the Poconos in Pennsylvania used to be a hotspot for honeymooners? Back in the old days, international travel was only for the very wealthy or businessmen. Many of us only dreamed of leaving America and traveling the world. So when our fifth wedding anniversary arrived, we naturally thought about the Poconos. Only a few hours from here, it seemed a good place to spend the weekend and celebrate our five years. We left the kids with Grandpa and Grandma and headed out. When we arrived, we could see that even then already, their better days were behind them. It was already starting to look a bit run down. But we knew we’d have fun, anyway.

At dinnertime, we entered a room with tables for four. Much to our dismay, we were placed with another couple whom we didn’t know at all. This was not part of our plan and it was frustrating to sit with strangers on our anniversary trip. But, unbeknownst to us, God had a very special treat in store for us that would live on in our memories for the rest of our lives.

The couple that sat down to eat with us was a Nigerian couple from New York City. He was a police officer there and kept us entertained with many stories of both New York and Nigeria (it was there that we learned how different and luxurious American prisons are compared to the rest of the world.) But the most special thing of all was that this couple were vibrant believers. The bond we shared around that table was the bond of family. We were related in Christ and it was such an amazing time. It didn’t matter that they were black and we were white. It didn’t matter that they were from the city and we were from the country. We were family through Jesus Christ.

I have often thought of this dinner since this whole conversation about racism has cropped up in the “church” recently. (I use quotes because I don’t believe many God-fearing, Bible-believing churches have fallen for the lies that are being propagated by this movement.)

You see, when racism is truly non-existent in the Body of Christ, all people are treated with respect and love. No matter the color or race, all are welcomed in the bond of unity that we have in Christ. There is no special treatment or “reparations” for past hurts. We accept one another and think of others more than we think of ourselves.

This is not what you are seeing in this modern day movement. Not at all.

And this leads me to the conclusion that this movement is not of God, for they have not reached biblical conclusions.

I love Colossians 3:11–

where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

In a truly non-racist, unified church there is no thought to race or color. It isn’t an issue. Because we are all one in Christ.

Compare that to the shouts for fairness and the cries for reparations. Compare that to the discrimination that is now taking place against white males. Is this of God? Most certainly not. In fact, this is racism at its finest– sanctioned under the guise of evangelical religion.

Oh, how did we get here? How has this happened?

I want to close with this quote from James T. Draper, Jr., which is based on Titus 1:4. In this verse, Paul asserts that Titus and he have a common faith. I love what he has to say and I think that, although this is an old book, what Draper has to say is quite relevant for us all today–

“Titus was a Greek, Paul a Jew. But Paul was saying, ‘We have a common faith. (Titus 1:4) God loves us both. God has a purpose for both of us, God has a common desire for our lives and hearts.” God’s community is for everyone. His is a universal message, one that all can understand, one that all desperately need. It is good for rich and poor, young and old, black and white, educated and unlearned, men of all races, creeds, and nationalities.

That is the message of the Word of God. None of us are left outside by it. None of us are too insignificant to be touched by it. None of us are too untalented to be used in the community of the faith. That is the good news of the Gospel.”

So may I encourage you to look to the Bible for the answers to your questions about racism and not to the world? And particularly not to the mainstream church, who truly have it ALL wrong.

 

 

Saved From What?

This is a guest post by Jess*. She posted this yesterday on her social media sites but I wanted to post here, both for easy reference and for ease of sharing. I believe this is worth consideration for all of us but particularly for us Americans as we watch two opposite sides wage war with each other here in our country.

As a bit of background: The other day, Jess and I were sitting by a playground watching her three busy boys and grabbing a few moments of conversation when we could. During this time, she mentioned how both sides are really after the same goal: To fix this world. A light bulb went off in my head. Yes, of course. How did I not see this before?

“Are you going to write about that? Because if you don’t, I probably will,” I said. She said she thought she’d find some time to write. I am glad she did. I think you will be, too.

It is my hope and prayer that this will help you clarify what’s happening around us in the culture today and to refocus your eyes on Christ, who is not only our only hope for salvation from sin, but is truly our only anchor and hope for the future in these days of confusion and chaos.

Here’s what Jess wrote—

I’m reading an Easter devotional with my boys and every day tells a part of the story, starting with the triumphal entry and leading up to Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. The story explained how the crowd who was shouting “Hosanna!” or “Save us!” were hoping that Jesus was going to save them from their oppressors. They thought He had come to set up His kingdom right then and there. They wanted temporal, worldly saving rather than the eternal, spiritual saving He really came to accomplish. (Luke 19:11) I was struck by a thought as I read that. Aren’t Christians doing the same thing today as the Jews who were waving palm branches and shouting “save us!” hundreds of years ago?

Dominion theology is becoming more and more popular in the Christian world. It’s the idea that the church is bringing the kingdom of God to Earth. They think that the church will take control over the seven major spheres of influence in society, claiming it’s their duty to create a worldwide kingdom for the glory of Christ. This theology works hand in hand with Christian nationalism. They claim “America will come back!” as they fight against cultural evils and attempt to return to morality and conservative values.

On the other side of the fence, liberal Christianity claims social justice as an essential mandate of our faith. They encourage joining up with groups like BLM to bring equality and justice for everyone. We must pursue social justice for the oppressed, poor, and marginalized by tearing down the current systems and building new ones.

Both groups are doing the exact the same thing but on opposite sides. Both are seeking to make this world a better place and to create God’s kingdom here on earth. The conservative, dominionist side does it by fighting against evil and promoting morality. The liberal, social-justice-loving side does it by fighting against all forms of injustice and enforcing equity for all people. The goal for both for them? A better world here and now.

Both groups miss the point. Both miss the Gospel. Both are shouting “save us!” without realizing that Jesus came to save His people from sin and death and not from the evil and oppression of this world. They’re just like the ignorant crowd of Jews cheering as Jesus paraded through on a donkey.

The kingdom of God is spiritual. It’s not of this world. Jesus came to die in our place and for our sins so that we might enter His heavenly kingdom. He came to save us, not from the temporary suffering of this world, but from the eternal suffering of hell. He will bring His kingdom to Earth when He returns and reigns. (Revelation 11:15) It is our job to share the Gospel and build God’s spiritual kingdom, not an earthly one.

The Gospel is the only thing that changes hearts and transforms lives. Fighting against evil, seeking social justice, advancing so-called morality. It’s all worthless apart from the Gospel. What does it matter if we made the world a little better for people who are still headed straight for hell? Jesus did nothing to change the very corrupt world He was living in. He came to save those who are His and bring them into His kingdom through the power of His death and resurrection. We are called to be lights in this world so that others can see the transforming power of the Gospel and seek Salvation for themselves.

We should never expect to “transform the world” because we know that true Christianity is a narrow way that will always remain unpopular. We’re promised that sin will always reign on this earth. It will only get worse and worse as the last days approach. (2 Timothy 3:1, 13, 2 Peter 3:3)

It’s tempting, even as followers of Christ, to want God to fix things for us here and now. To heal us, mend our relationships, restore our country, remove our hardships and trials. But He never promised He’d save us from those things here on earth. Our hope is not in this world. It’s not in America and a comeback of conservative values, in obtaining social justice, or in having all our problems fixed. Our hope is the heavenly kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. A kingdom we could only enter because of His death on the cross for our sins. Let us not forget on this Good Friday why He came and what He died to save us from. And let us proclaim it from the rooftops!

John 18:36 – Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

John 3:3 – Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Colossians 1:13-15 – He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

 

*Jess is my oldest daughter and wife to Seth and busy mom to three adorable sons–who are also my three favorite grandsons! (Seth and Jess have provided us with our only grandsons!). You can find Jess at Anchor for the Soul on Facebook and on Instagram.

 

 

The Guiding Picture for the Puzzle of Today

Well, the wedding of our last child to be married was this past weekend. They had been calling for a showery, clouded day, but, unexpectedly, the day dawned bright and beautiful. It was a lovely day and we thank the Lord for answering our prayers, along with the prayers of our friends, family, and even some of you, my readers (thank you for praying!)

Today, I am physically and emotionally drained and I considered not writing, but I heard something yesterday and wanted to take just a few moments to write about it.

Yesterday, when I got back from the airport I watched TV. After a week of non-stop activity, I was so very tired. I have two favorite “zone-out” shows that are old and totally  NOT critically acclaimed and which most people think are totally lame. I still turn to these two shows whenever I need something wholesome to watch that doesn’t take a lot of thought: Sue Thomas, FBEye and Doc (yes, the one with Billy Ray Cyrus, who, twenty years after the show’s production, is now totally messed up).

Anyway… I chose a random episode of Sue Thomas yesterday and as I was watching, a scene came on where a suspected terrorist had shredded documents and they were trying to put these shreds of paper together to make sense of them. One of the characters made the statement, “I hate putting puzzles together without the picture on the box.”

It dawned on me that this is what most people have been doing these last couple of years. They are trying to put the puzzle pieces of what’s happening without any guiding photo.

But we Christians have the photo! A clear photo that helps us put together this end times puzzle that we are living. The way things are lining up is truly incredible.

The things prophesied in Daniel and Revelation seemed way out there when I was a kid. Like–how could they even happen? But we believers took them as true purely by faith.

But this isn’t the case, anymore. If we are paying attention, we are literally seeing things get set up so incredibly perfectly for the literal fulfillment of Daniel and Revelation. In fact, the current events match the picture of what the Bible says is coming in the last days so perfectly, that it is hard to believe everyone can’t see it!

I believe, with all of my heart, by looking at the puzzle pieces and fitting them into the picture we are given in scripture, that the Lord is going to rapture us at any moment. Almost everything is set up for what is to come. To go much further past this current time would be to exceed the technology that we currently have lined up so perfectly with what we find in Revelation 13. And years out we would find the conversation about government structure totally changed (we would be far past the globalism conversation in fifty years). We also know that God won’t allow the proponents of trans humanism (who are trying to turn people in to cyborgs that do their will–look it up, it’s real and very much under way) to achieve their goal.

Not to mention that all of the signs we find predicted in the Bible for the end times are now on the world stage. They are not simply likely to happen but they have become probable: One world government, cashless society, tracking every human on the face of the earth, chipping humans in the wrist or the forehead, Israel and the dynamics surrounding her, the chaos necessary to bring in the antichrist, etc. etc. etc.

I know I’ve written about this before, so why do I keep writing about it?

It is for a couple of reasons but the main one is this:

The time is SO VERY SHORT and there are so many who are lost.

As we sat around talking about a friend of ours the other night who says they are saved but doesn’t really show the fruit of salvation, it dawned on me: What are we doing??

Is there even one of us who is brave enough to have a conversation about this with him? Do we love him enough to talk with him?

If the Bible is so precisely right about what is to come, then we know, without a doubt, that it is also right about heaven and hell. That eternity in hell is a certainty for so many in this world.

There are those who are clearly unsaved. Are we talking about God and the salvation He offers to sinners? Or do we just continue on talking about nothing that matters for eternity? Do we care enough to talk about the truth of God’s Word? What are we so worried about? That they will hate us? Do we love them enough to take that risk??

And then there are those who think they are saved and aren’t. What are we doing about this?

While we can never (and should never) judge someone’s salvation, we can pray for God to open their eyes. We can have the conversation with them about the things that matter.

Are we praying?

Are we pointing them to the Word?

I fear that most of us are not. But with time so clearly short, there should be an urgency within us to reach all we can with the Gospel. Both the clearly unsaved and those who think they are saved but have zero fruit. We don’t have to go to a foreign country to be a missionary. We are all missionaries. Are we acting like it?

So many are trying to fit the pieces of current events into some picture that makes sense but have no answers. They are missing the picture found in scripture. We can help!

So let’s pray and ask God for opportunities today to reach whoever He wants us to reach with the Good News of the Gospel. Let’s ask Him for wisdom and guidance as we seek to be the light in an ever-darkening world.

And let’s keep looking up! Our redemption most surely draweth nigh!!

 

 

What Really Matters When Life Falls Apart?

This world is full of so much suffering. The latest we’ve been hearing about (or experiencing, depending where we find ourselves in the world at this time) is the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. There are many different stories, accounts, and reports making their rounds and, as has become the norm for us, we wonder who we should believe. There are so many lies. So much false information.

This is why hearing from reliable, first-hand sources becomes important in these situations. What is really going on? While there is much we can’t know, there is also so much we do know.

We know, with certainty, that the lives of millions of people have been thrown into utter turmoil in just a few hours. Sleep, food, water, gas have all become so much more precious as the Ukrainians strive to survive in the midst of an invasion by a neighboring country. They are sleeping in bomb shelters or corridors in order to protect their lives. Can’t imagine any of them are getting much sleep in that situation, can you? The shelves at the stores are becoming empty and they are starting to wonder how they will get food. If they want to escape the city, they find they can hardly move as they fight their way through all of the chaos and confusion. If you can even get gas, which has become scarce. Overnight, apartment buildings of peaceful citizens have been bombed in several cities, leaving innocent victims without homes in the middle of the winter. If they even survived the bombing…

Some of these struggling people are our Christian brothers and sisters. There is a thriving church in that country. Years ago, I was in Ukraine for a couple of weeks and one of my fondest memories is worshiping with the Christians there. I can remember singing in English while they were singing Ukrainian and feeling our bond in Christ. If we are believers, then we have family in Ukraine. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ. And they are really struggling right now.

Last week, my daughter, Jess, sent a couple text messages that are the heart of today’s post. She said something that really made me reflect on what really matters when your life falls apart. Such as what is happening to our Ukrainian siblings right now. At this moment.

Basically, her thought was if your Christianity can’t sustain you through these times, then it probably isn’t genuine. If it doesn’t work for Ukrainians in bomb shelters, Chinese imprisoned for their faith, or Nigerians and Indians under death threats from extremists, is it even real? Or is it, rather, some made-up ridiculousness that has absolutely no value when life grows ugly?

Do you think our Ukrainian Christian brothers and sisters are talking about their dreams or self-fulfillment? Are they sitting around and discussing the feminist agenda or social justice? Do you think getting wealthy is even on their list of priorities?

When life falls apart, none of these things matter. Not even a bit.

What matters are God’s promises to sustain us. To be our shield. To protect and shelter us. To give us peace and joy and comfort. The kind of peace and joy that goes far beyond “happily ever after” because, let’s face it: We all know life doesn’t work like that. It is not happily ever after (at least not in this world) and Christians do die in explosions. They get cancer and heart attacks at the most inopportune times. They lose their businesses and their savings. They get viciously killed by those who oppose them.

Christians are not guaranteed a happy life without problems. There is nothing in the Bible to suggest we are. Christians are not to fight for social justice (a Marxist term, never a Christian one) or to fix the world. We aren’t to be focused on our own selfish agendas or to use God like a genie in the sky to get what we want.

If anything can show us that these types of “Christianity” are false, it is what is happening right now.

What exactly does the Bible teach us about the Christian life? What does it say we can expect?

Yes, we can expect trials and troubles. Rather than avoiding them, the Bible says God will use them to grow us (Romans 8:28-29; James 1:2-4).

Yes, we can expect to be hated by the world, because our own Lord was hated. But we know that this is proof that we are Christ’s own and that the Holy Spirit will help us endure…even unto death (John 15).

So, contrary to much that is taught from “Christian” pulpits today, we cannot avoid these things. There is no magic prayer or sum of money we can give to a {fake} apostle that is going to miraculously make our life wonderful.

But, while we know these things will come (and may already be upon us), we also have the rich and abundant promises of our Heavenly Father to carry us through–

He will never, ever forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

The peace He gives is not like the world; it surpasses understanding (John 14:27; Philippians 4:6-7).

He will walk with us through the “valley of the shadow of death” so that we need not fear evil (Psalm 23).

When we fall, we shall not be utterly cast down for the Father upholds us with His hand (Psalm 37:23-24)

Of course, as we read of God’s promises, we also find in scripture that there is an attitude we must have in order to experience these promises of God to the fullest–

We must keep our mind stayed on God (Isaiah 26:3)

We must trust in the Lord (Psalm 112:7)

We must choose not to worry or to be anxious (Matthew 6:34; Philippians 4:6-7)

We must cast our burden on the Lord (Psalm 55:22)

We must draw near to Him in truth (Psalm 145:18)

We must forsake the world and purify our lives (James 4:1-10)

And, then, after all of this, there is one important thing to remember that helps us to keep all of this in biblical perspective: The true believer knows that their best life isn’t now. It is the one to come!

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:1-4)

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)

 

The verses I’ve shared above are just a small sampling of the promises, the hope, and even the instruction that we find in God’s Word for those who have repented and trusted in Christ alone for their salvation. We can experience peace in the midst of the greatest storm. It has been a great joy reading of Ukrainian Christians testifying to this very thing!

I don’t think there are any Ukrainians turning to God’s Word to find out how they can be rich this morning. They are trusting in God to see them through the next day, the next hour…perhaps just the next few minutes.

What kind of Christianity are you hearing about on Sunday mornings? What is your preacher preaching? Is he pointing you to God’s Word as the final authority for the Christian life? Is he interpreting the Bible historically, grammatically, and literally, rather than allegorizing great chunks of it and casting doubts on its authenticity?

These are important questions we need to ask ourselves as the world grows darker. If we aren’t being fed true, biblical Christianity we are at much risk for having shallow roots that will not hold in life’s storms, much less in the chaos and confusion that threatens to consume us in the days ahead. We must be in the Word, both personally and in our churches. If our church is not preaching biblical Christianity, then we should not stay.

I don’t know how I ended up on challenging you all on your churches, but I believe that it is probably a challenge that we all need to hear. So many sit under and are influenced by ungodly preaching these days. May we not be numbered among them.

 

 

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