History

The Wisdom and Controversy of Agassiz

In the mid-1800s a man came from Europe to America by the name of Louis Agassiz. He was asked to be a professor at Harvard but, being a rather eccentric free spirit, he bucked the system. And Harvard, recognizing his genius, allowed him to do so. He smoked cigars on campus. He wore no black robes as the other professors. He allowed students in his classes without passing entrance examinations. And he prepared no syllabus.

I had never heard of this man before this past weekend, when I started reading David McCullough’s Brave Companions. McCullough writes in the introduction of this book that he is much more drawn to the people of history than to the events. I find that I, too, am the same. I was disinterested in history when it was all dates and happenings. But attach people and their stories to those dates and happenings and history absolutely comes alive!

Okay, I guess that is enough of the “History is Awesome” commercial… :)

Anyway…

This professor had a unique way of welcoming new students. He would grab a jar from his shelves of specimens. Inside the jar would be a dead fish. He would ask the student to observe anything and everything about this fish and then leave the room. A young man named Scudder describes his experience after giving his observations to the professor and then being told to look some more–

I was piqued; I was mortified. Still more of that wretched fish! But now I set myself to my task with a will, and discovered one new thing after another…The afternoon passed quickly; and when, toward its close, the professor inquired: “Do you see it yet?”

“No,” I replied, “I am certain I do not, but I see how little I saw before.”

Scudder goes on to write how the lesson lasted three whole days and of how much he learned about that fish. He says it was a lesson of inestimable value.

You see, Agassiz believed the backbone of education was to know something well. He believed that a “smattering of everything was worth little”. He believed that it was a “great and common fallacy to suppose that an encyclopedic mind is desirable. The mind was made strong not through much learning but by the “thorough possession of something.” In other words, “look at your fish.” *

As I read this story from the past I couldn’t help but think of Christians with their Bibles. How many of us have just a smattering of knowledge here and there? How many of us are reading or hearing about the Bible (devotionals, books, sermons) instead of making our own observations of the Bible? How many of us give our time and dedication to learning it well?

As believers, shouldn’t this be our main priority? Do we even recognize how important this is to our lives and how we live them?

The young man, Scudder, thought he had learned all there was to know about that dead fish. And, yet, when the professor encouraged him that there was more to learn, he turned back and found out what it was. He had a teachable spirit and he realized how very much he had missed in those first few hours.

If this is true of a dead fish, just think of how much we are missing when it comes to the Bible! We so often approach the Bible with the same spirit as Scudder in those first few hours, our eyes blind to the fact that there is literally endless treasure there within its pages. The more we study, the more we mine its spiritual depths.

If you have spent any time in the Word, you are already well aware of this. The more you study, the more you realize how much there is to know. And how much you don’t know. The more you study, the more you know your God. The more you study, the more insight you get, the deeper the comprehension and understanding of God’s plans throughout history and for the future. The more you study, the greater your discernment as deception grows in leaps and bounds all around us.

If we know anything WELL, may it be our Bibles!

And now, briefly, I want to touch on the controversy that surrounds Louis Agassiz. This morning as I typed his name in the search box to see if his museum of zoology is still in existence, the articles that popped up show that Harvard is ashamed of this professor. I have not done a thorough investigation, but apparently he was pro-slavery and also anti-Darwinism. These are two huge “no-nos” in the intellectual world today and they don’t seem to be quite sure what to do with him.

I bring this to your attention because it reminds me so much of the book “1984” which I read (for some unknown reason) in 2019. I wish I wouldn’t have read it, to be quite honest. But one of the things that sticks out in my mind from that book is the re-writing of history. It seems that this is what is going on in the academic levels. If they don’t like someone’s view on something they cancel them. As if that certain view makes everything from their lives–even their amazing contributions to mankind–null and void.

Do we realize the tragedy of this??!? And do we realize the absurdity of this? I think it is time we stop looking to the experts and the professionals and academic intelligentsia for answers. It seems they have obviously lost their collective minds.

It reminds me so much of that verse from Colossians 2:6-10–

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding [d]in it with thanksgiving.

Beware lest anyone [e]cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead [f]bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all [g]principality and power.

We Christians have been snookered into thinking that man has our answers to life. We turn to professionals, experts, and academia for everything. We look for answers to our problems and big questions in the wrong place.

If we will but study our Bibles humbly and thoroughly, we will realize that the answers we seek for life are there. We are COMPLETE IN HIM. And that is straight from the Bible.

I do want to make one thing abundantly clear, however: I am not saying that there aren’t times we need help from others. There is nothing wrong in asking for help. But this help should come from someone who is dedicated to God’s Word and the principles for life we find there. These helpers are hard to find. Recently, someone shared with me their conversation with a current student of a biblical counseling program. As he shared what he was learning with this person and how he would handle different situations, it became quickly apparent that there was no “Bible” in it at all. It was all humanistic ideas and concepts.

If you find yourself in need of help, give much prayer and some research, too, before placing your trust in them. So many experts are leading Christians into unbiblical thinking.

As we continue on in this world, the Bible is literally our lifeline. It is where we find our hope, our sustenance, our joy. It is where we are told of our wonderful Savior and where we find principles for living a life that is pleasing to God.

Dedicating ourselves to really knowing it– knowing it deeply and fully–is the first step to living a holy, discerning, peaceful, and joyful life!

 

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for [c]instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

 

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

 

 

*From Brave Companions by David McCullough, p. 25-26

 

 

What the Bible Says About Fixing the World

Is it the job of the Christian to make the world a better place? Is it our job to fix it? You may be surprised to know that this is a mainstream philosophy of many churches and Christians today. They believe we are here to improve the world. Many believe that Jesus won’t return until we do this. That somehow we have to prepare the world for His return.

Now you may be able to get that from a few verses that are twisted and pulled way out of context, but this is not the actual message of scripture.

If you look at both the Gospels and the Epistles, we see an acceptance of the world the way it is and instructions for living in it (I Corinthians 12:13 and Ephesians 5&6). More importantly, we see that the Christian is not to focus on this world but on eternal things (Colossians 3). And, most importantly, we read throughout the entire New Testament that the only way for true and lasting change in both the individual and in the culture is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We are also told in scripture that the world will get worse and worse (2 Timothy 3:1-9; Jude). We should not expect to live in a fixed earth for there will be no such thing until Jesus returns.

This past week in Sunday School, our teacher pointed out a verse in Daniel 9 that I never noticed before–

O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies.

As I read and then re-read that verse, it hit me! The main problem with the social justice/fix the world movement is PRIDE. Man actually thinks he has the power to fix the world. Think about that for a moment.

Now–keep in mind that I am not saying we aren’t to do good things. Scripture makes it abundantly clear that we are. And I am not implying that cultures won’t be better sometimes because of Christians. I think those of us in America did have that experience (particularly if we are older).

But we have to recognize that without Christ, we can do nothing (John 15:5). That any good that we accomplish is through God alone. And God does graciously choose to use us in this world to accomplish His purposes. He has clearly set out good works for us to do (Ephesians 2:8-10) and we are to faithfully going about His business.

But to think we can fix the world is rather presumptuous, don’t you think?

Read that verse again. Do you see what Daniel said? He is asking for God to hear Him –not because of their righteous deeds but because of His great mercies.

Not because of their righteous deeds. It seems like this group of “Christians” are very much counting on their righteous deeds to ready the world for Christ. Ironically, this movement has little to do with the genuine Gospel in their efforts to attain utopia here on earth.

And don’t miss two facts about that this movement to bring in a better world–

First, this is the same old, same old that Satan has been trying to accomplish since the beginning of time. Man can be like God and bring in a utopian society. Sure, there are a few more Christian terms covering up the true agenda, but if you dig a little, you will see little reliance on God in this movement and much reliance on self.

Second, please note how this movement will play right into the system of the antichrist. These people who are crying out for a perfect world will be ripe to fall into the worship of the antichrist, as he promises to join them in fixing the world. This is not just a “movement” but a very intentional direction that Satan is taking the church.

Now, I want to be clear about one thing before I close today: I am sure there are many Christians who have been deceived in this area of making the world a better place. Just as we are all deceived about one thing or another.

We must pray diligently that the Lord will keep us from deception, for it is everywhere now. EVERYWHERE. We must persevere in finding out the truth in all areas of life or we will leave ourselves open to great deception. Trust NO MAN OR WOMAN more than you trust the Word of God.

If God said it and the true Church has believed it for over 2000 years then it is true–no matter what new-fangled way someone has of interpreting a verse or passage.

This is why church history is so important. It gives context and a firm foundation of the true Christian Faith (this is the true Christian faith–and does not include the Catholic church, which is not a true Christian church and never has been.) Sorry, I got a little off of topic there, but I do believe that church history is critically important. Actually, history is critically important. We see many things happening today because people do not know history. Or they believe a faulty history. And so it repeats itself. Over and over again. But I digress.

Dear readers, we are not here to fix the world. Anyone who reads and studies their Bible must come to that conclusion, for there is no other conclusion to be drawn. We are here to share the Gospel and to make the Lord known in a rebellious and dark world. Most will turn away from the Gospel. but God, in His Providence, will lead us to some who are seeking after Him and longing to be part of His family. And so we continue to share the Gospel and to contend for the faith in the midst of the great apostasy that is taking place today.

 

 

(A Lot of) Lessons I Learned This Past Month (Part 2)

Earlier this week, I wrote PART 1 of this series. The purpose of this is to share how my month-long focus on missionary stories over on the Growing4Life Facebook page changed me. There were lots of lessons to be learned from these courageous men and women and I wanted to not only share what I’ve learned but to encourage you to do your own study of these men and women, as well.

I plan to put a PDF together with a list of the missionaries and the corresponding links and other resources I used during Missionary Month. If you’d like a copy just reply to this email (or if you are seeing this on social media, simply message me your email address.)

The first part of this series focused on some pretty foundational Christian principles. Things most of us already know but perhaps needed to be reminded of. This second part is going to be a little different as these things are applicable for all of us right now–calling for change in specific areas of our lives. At least this is the case for me. You can be your own judge… haha

So here we go. Prepare to have your toes stepped on (maybe)–

7. They had an eternal perspective. These missionaries were, without exception, focused on eternity. They cared little for their own lives as they boldly traversed jungles to reach hostile, savage tribes or subjected themselves and their families to filthy conditions and diseases that had been eradicated years before in their home countries. I thought I was doing a “pretty good job” overall at keeping an eternal perspective, but these missionaries challenged me. Their eternal perspective wasn’t only about keeping fear at bay or feeling peace and joy in their hearts. It was not self-centered. Their eternal perspective was God-centered (This is probably worth a whole post.) They wanted to bring Him glory and tell others about His plan of salvation, no matter the cost. They denied self, they sacrificed, they endured unthinkable conditions. All because they remembered what really matters. Oh, how important that our eternal perspective is God-centered and not self-centered.

8. Prayer matters– a lot! So many of these missionaries spoke about prayer in a living way that is unfamiliar to most of us. This was a vital part of their ministry and they challenged me to think more deeply about this issue of prayer. You see, I think we all say that we know prayer is important but few of us actually live like we believe this. But these missionaries knew prayer was important. And that they needed the prayer support of those across the seas as they endeavored to take the Gospel to foreign people groups who were soundly in the hands of Satan through demon worship and other pagan practices. Oh, to take prayer more seriously!

9. Music matters. Several of these missionaries mentioned the importance of Bible memory and hymns as they faced solitary confinement or other situations where they had no access to scripture. I don’t know what kind of music most of you listen to, but may I encourage you to pay attention to the lyrics? Would those lyrics strengthen and encourage you during a time of need and desperation? The music we listen to matters. A lot. It will either encourage us in our walk with God or it will move us away from Him and from sound doctrine. (Keep in mind that just because a song mentions God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit does NOT mean it is of sound doctrine. In fact, much of Christian contemporary and worship music is NOT doctrinally sound. Pay attention and be aware.) Protect and prepare yourself by listening to music that is God-honoring and faith-strengtheningOh, to listen to great songs of the faith that will be a balm to our souls during troubled times. 

10. Redeem the time. Oh, how much time we waste. I really had to reflect on this. Particularly when I considered the many Bible verses that came to the minds of these great Christians just when they needed them. How well do I know my Bible? How much have I memorized? God can’t use His Word in our lives if we don’t know it. And we can’t know it, unless we intentionally give our efforts to know it. Oh, how important to make Bible Study a priority!

I was also reminded that it is incredibly important to consider what kind of things we are putting into our minds. Not only music as mentioned earlier, but all entertainment. What do we want to remember if we are ever without TV, books, and music? What do we want filling our minds and hearts when we face difficult situations and unthinkable circumstances? Whatever our answer, THIS is what we should be listening to, memorizing, watching. THIS is what we should we spend the majority of our time on. Oh, to be more intentional with how I spend my time.

11. Stop Complaining. Oh, how condemned I felt after reading and listening to these testimonies. They are without necessities, facing the deaths of spouses and children, dealing with the indifference and hatred of those they want to help and they are doing it willingly for the cause of Christ. And then there’s me. Getting a little worked up because the customer service representative of the credit card company I called was so inept. Oh, how much I complain. Over stupid stuff. It’s honestly ridiculous. Oh, to stop being such a complainer!

 

SO WHO IS REALLY A HERO?

I get so very weary with those who are deemed “heroes” in America (not sure how it is in your country). Movie stars and sports figures, few who have done anything of value, are raised on a pedestal while those who are true heroes go completely unsung. A movie star acts and a sports figure plays. Neither of these things are worthy of honor. A true hero sacrifices. They sacrifice their own well-being, their own comfort and convenience, their own lives for a greater cause. And they inspire others to do the same!

Christian heroes do this for the cause of Christ. In my opinion, there are no greater heroes than these men and women who gave their lives for Christ. I can’t even imagine the crowns they will receive in heaven!

Oh, that we, too, may be Christian heroes wherever God has placed us!

 

 

 

(A Lot of) Lessons I Learned This Past Month (Part 1)

A few weeks ago, I made a rather spontaneous decision. My mom and I were talking about how June has been hi-jacked and she casually mentioned that we should make it Missionary Month. Without any background research or preparation in advance, I decided to do just that.  And so, on the Growing4Life Facebook page and also on my personal Facebook page, I’ve been featuring a different missionary each day. The well-known and the not so well-known. Martyrs and those who lived into their nineties. At home and on the foreign field. So many different missionaries but all with the same purpose: Proclaim the Gospel!

I have to admit when I made the last-minute decision to do this, I had no expectation of it changing me. I just wanted to bring some attention to these amazing men and women who sacrificed all for Christ. And that was that. Or so I thought.

And so I spent about hours this past month pouring over articles and watching videos to learn more about this special group of people. I had already read some of the biographies. Others I knew only by name. It was a profoundly rewarding exercise. (I am considering creating a PDF that includes each featured missionary along with the links I used. If this is something that would interest you, just let me know by replying to this email.)

As I researched and studied from my very comfortable home with my coffee cup in hand, I started to recognize how weak and spoiled I am. Honestly, I did already knew this but this study really drove home the point. Oh, to be more like these people who truly followed Jesus by denying themselves and taking up their cross (Matthew 16:24). They had it easy and chose hard. And I complain when the smallest thing doesn’t go my way. It’s a contrast that is striking and disgusting and I truly came up wanting. This month really challenged me personally both in living my daily Christian life, as well as in what should be done to prepare for whatever lies ahead.

Here are a few of the lessons that had the most impact in my life–

1. God is faithful. (Lamentations 3:22-23) Over and over again, through all circumstances, God proved Himself faithful. Many–I would even say most–of these missionaries lost multiple children and their spouse throughout the course of their ministry. Some endured terrible hardships under the Japanese and communist regimes. Many were hungry, out of money, mocked, scorned, persecuted, in need of clothing and other necessities, in the filthiest of conditions, surrounded by disease and yet God remained faithful. This doesn’t mean that only good things happened to them. It means that God was faithful through the good and the bad. I always cringe when I hear people imply that God intends for us to only experience good things. So many in the western, materialistic word believe that God is the great genie in the sky just desiring to make our own personal, selfish dreams come true. Nothing could be further from the truth.

2. The missionaries had one purpose and one purpose only. (I Peter 2:9-10) They did not set out to change the world and make it a better place in a temporal sense. They did not go to a third world country to provide the impoverished people there with clean water, food, and other necessities. While this may have been part of their plan, their main goal was always to proclaim the Gospel. Nothing could deter them from pointing people to Jesus and saving them from hell. Oh, what a contrast this is to modern day missions where the focus has moved to fixing temporal, earthly problems. Caring for their bodies while ignoring their souls. I am thankful there are still some very godly missionaries out there but that group is shrinking fast.

3. The Word was foundational. (2 Timothy 3:16) In the lives of these missionaries, the Bible was key. They recognized that the power for the Christian life was there and it was the center of their ministry, as well as their source for strength. It’s no wonder so many Christians are leading powerless lives encumbered by sin, depression, addictions, worldliness, and idols. The Bible has taken a backseat in homes and churches across the world and this is where that leads. God has given us His Word as the tool by which we are transformed day by day. And yet so often it just sits on a shelf.

4. Christians who give up everything are happier. (Philippians 4:11) Yesterday, a friend of mine put a photo on Facebook with the covers of two books. One book had missionary stories and the other contained short biographies of movie stars from bygone days. She mentioned that the contrast between the two groups of people was striking. I have noticed the same thing. The biographies of most famous people are incredibly disappointing. They are generally full of broken marriages and families, addictions, materialism, bitterness, resentment, and deep and abiding sadness. They have wasted their whole lives chasing after something that they just can’t find.

Contrast that to the missionaries and other sold-out Christians. God has filled them with a purpose that is far outside themselves. I know it doesn’t make any sense to our finite minds, but somehow God has designed us that when we live for Him, we are happier. When we turn away from our selfish desires and submit to and obey God, it brings a peace and joy that can’t be explained. We can grasp after that next house or car, we can try to fill our hearts with earthly relationships, we can attain the greatest success in our jobs or we can gain fame and fortune–but none of that leads to the peace that passes understanding. This only comes through God. And when you have that, then nothing else matters. It truly is the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45-46). These missionary stories gave real life evidence to this over and over and over again.

5. Missionaries aren’t perfect. (I John 1:8) Many of these missionaries made errors in judgment or chose to do something that ended up costing them dearly. They had tempers, they lacked management skills, they had to work through bitterness–just as we do. Some came to wrong conclusions about some secondary biblical issues. Some sacrificed their children for their missionary call. In summary, they were sinners. They were regular people just like you and like me. And yet God used them mightily. For it isn’t from our own stores and talents that we do great things for God, but it is His working through us.

6. They wouldn’t change a thing. (Romans 8:28) I remember listening to the testimony of one missionary as she described her experience as a POW of Japan during the second world war. It was absolutely horrifying and far beyond anything you and I could comprehend. And yet, she said she wouldn’t change a thing. She not only submitted to God’s sovereignty in her life but she recognized that He had used these unspeakable trials to bear fruit that could not have otherwise grown.

 

Well, this may be a good place to stop for today, as this is getting far longer than I expected. I think I will divide this into two posts and try to get Part 2 out later this week. Thanks for reading!

 

 

Time to Wake Up

Last night at 12:22am, our phone rang. It jarred me out of a very deep sleep and my heart started pounding. It’s not usually a good thing when the phone rings at night and my thoughts went immediately to our parents. It ended up being an automated call about our company’s security system (at 12:22am!) and I started to breathe easily again. But it took a long time for my heart to stop pounding and my brain to slow down.

A few hours later, we woke up to a short beep. We looked around, couldn’t figure it out, and closed our eyes. We were just about back to sleep when we heard it again. It seemed to be coming from my nightstand. I decided it must be some kind of low battery signal from my alarm clock. I unplugged the clock and we settled down for a couple of more hours of sleep. But, no. There it was again! At this third beep, I flew out of bed, turned on the light, and examined my table. Finally, my husband said he thinks it’s the phone. The cordless phone (which I had answered at 12:22am) had lost its charge and was begging to be put back in its cradle. How it lost its charge in just a few short hours is a mystery. That particular phone rarely leaves its cradle and was sitting on it when I answered during the night.

Those rude awakenings made for a rough night of sleep. No wonder I feel so tired this morning.

Those sleep interruptions remind me of the life we are living now. We so badly want to go back to our normal ordinary living but we keep getting jarred awake by discouraging and often nonsensical happenings. We will live for a few days–perhaps even a week or two–and we can forget how much the world has changed. But then something vividly reminds us.

I wrote parts of what you will read below on Facebook the other day, but decided to expand here as many of you are not on Facebook and, also, because I did not include or expand on certain things due to space. I want to warn you that this first part is going to be somewhat discouraging but just keep reading. It gets better.

As we catch bits and pieces of news these past days, we see many disturbing things. In America, It seems like almost every day we hear of laws that will strip us of our rights. We hear of terrible things happening at the borders. We hear of people dying from Covid and from the vaccine. And we hear about supply shortages and higher expenses. Meanwhile the government is throwing money it doesn’t have at its citizens to pacify them. This can’t end well.

There are perhaps even more disturbing happenings from across the world, where we hear of extreme lockdown measures that continue to keep people from traveling even within their own countries. There are massive protests across Europe about these lockdowns, which we never hear about in the mainstream news. A pastor in Canada was recently released from a five week stay in jail for his church’s in-person meetings against his province’s health guidelines. And then there are the reports coming from Israel that there is “medical apartheid” going on. If you aren’t vaccinated, you are viewed as Enemy #1 and with their newly instated “green pass”, only the vaccinated are allowed to eat at restaurants indoors, go to events, and even shop in some stores. Many of their citizens have been forced to be vaccinated or lose their jobs. Now keep in mind–this is over a virus that has a death rate that is actually less than 4% (and that death rate has been falsified in so many ways and with the falsifications being proven by so many different studies and reports that it is hard for any thinking person to deny it.) There’s much more going on in this world. But that’s enough.

Not only is the world in chaos but the church at large is also in major chaos. Here in America, we read of a famous “Christian” singer who was recorded shouting obscenities at his son. We see an ugly debate over a recent Christian book and the promotion of Bethel by a much trusted Christian. The promotion of wokism and social justice in Baptist and other once-solid churches is now the norm. The church has been on a bad trajectory for quite awhile but it has taken on warp speed. Why does it matter what is happening to the American church? I believe it is because she has been a beacon of the Christian faith in this world for many years. It has been she who has sent thousands of missionaries across the world and it is she who has been one of Israel’s greatest supporters. As this American church weakens and is overtaken by apostasy, so the darkness won’t only increase in America, but across the world. (Did you know that many mission organizations aren’t even sharing the Gospel anymore? Or if they do it is as an “add-on” to the person’s current religion? There is much going on in the world of missions. Be careful whom you support.)

What is especially interesting to see is the efforts to draw all people into a one world religion (which we have been told is coming in Revelation 13), with many once-trusted figures joining with false teachers or promoting false doctrine. I recently saw a “Christian” company who is re-making their company with an emphasis on Buddhism, while still claiming to be Christian. I’ve heard of “Christian” pastors and teachers joining with Islam. In fact, it is so common that it’s been given a name: “Chrislam”. There is just so much wrong with the modern day mainstream church across the world. What I have written is just a glimpse into all that’s going on.

But let me encourage you! As the American church has weakened, the true church in other countries is growing. Oftentimes, this is happening in countries where there is much persecution and cost for being a believer. The true church is still so wonderfully alive and well and will always remain so until the Lord returns for her. Yes, she will be small but perhaps we are simply gaining a new understanding of Matthew 7:13-14? Our Lord told us the gate is narrow and few there will be that find it.

Then there are weather events. Did you know that last year in America there were 16 ‘one-billion dollar’ weather events? This means that insurance companies had to pay out at least one billion dollars in coverage. There are usually under ten per year. And this year the Texas freeze has already been a three billion dollar event. So not only is the world going crazy, so is the weather. And that’s just in America. This pattern continues across the world, with an increase in hurricanes, volcanic activity, and earthquakes. The official data shows this increase in activity. I think we can all agree that the weather has seemed to sense the mood of the earth. We hear that it’s global warming causing all this havoc. I tend to believe it is the beginning of the birth pangs as predicted in Matthew 24. Of course, I could be wrong. It’s just an observation.

Meanwhile, technology is exponentially increasing, making possible the mark of the beast as predicted in Revelation 13. One can easily see how the green pass in Israel and the mandatory chipping of employees in Sweden are stepping stones to the mark of the Beast. (Let me be clear: The vaccine is NOT the mark of the beast.) Yes, how they will make the mark of the beast possible is becoming just a little clearer with each passing day. Technology is also now available to see the two witnesses in live time from anywhere in the world through satellites. Anything that we thought was impossible forty or fifty years ago when we read Revelation is now possible. It’s mind-blowing when you really stop to think about it.

And then, finally, the last thing I want to touch on is globalism. I have thought for many years now that it would be quite impossible to have a one world government with a strong America. I believe that we are watching the intentional take-down of this country. I do not say this lightly. The evidence is clearly there. This, along with the failing economies of other countries around the world, will pave the way for a global government. They are already discussing it. Just look up the World Economic Forum and read some of their chilling plans.

I haven’t even mentioned the activity in the middle east that is lining up with scripture in a way that could only be supernatural.

It’s funny because I never really thought before 2020 of the many details and changes that would need to be put in place for the Revelation 13 scenario to come to the world. But now as we are living them, it makes so much sense. It’s not like you can just suddenly have a one world government, a one world religion, and a mark of the beast that is needed to buy and sell. These things can’t just happen instantly. There must be much happening in the years before that.

Now you may be saying to yourself right now “I don’t agree with you“. And I want you to know, first of all, that I am not trying to change your mind. I don’t think it will really matter what we believe about world happenings when the Lord returns. Second of all, I am so gladly willing to hear evidence to the contrary. I would gladly admit it if I am wrong. I simply ask you to do some research on your own before commenting with negative words to this post. Spend some time finding out about the vaccine from doctors who are losing their licenses and reputations to sound the alarm. Read a few news sources that are not carefully controlled. Dig into history to find out the background of current events.

To me–and I know to many of you, as well–it is so clear that the end is near. Everything the Bible predicted is either happening or being set up to happen.

How does one live in a world that is getting ready to end?

It can be tempting to fear and to be anxious. It is tempting to just withdraw and ignore.

And, honestly, I don’t pay much attention to the news anymore. I am not going to change what is happening by knowing about every detail. And we aren’t really getting real news anyway. At least not in America. We are getting a very scripted narrative.

Does anyone else find themselves hunkering down in the midst of all of this and just living a more simple life? One where family, work, and church are the main priorities?

That’s what I find myself doing. And, honestly, if it wasn’t for the wonderings and uncertainty of the future, I’d be happier for it. There is much to be said for the simpler life.

Actually, “hunkering down” is probably not the best term to use. I don’t mean that we shelter in our houses and don’t go out. I am referring more to a life where we invest in our families, treasure fellowship with like-minded believers, and have conversations that actually matter with both the unsaved and the saved. A life where we focus on what’s important.

Our families need us. They need us to be engaged and communicating and laughing with them. They need us to turn away from our phones and our TVs and our activities to love them and teach them about God and His Word.

Our church families need us. I have heard from several different people now how difficult it is to find people to serve in various ministries at local churches. This is so discouraging. We need to be actively serving as we wait for the Lord to come. This is not the time to back out of all of our church ministries.

Our communities need us. I spoke with a woman yesterday whose family is deeply hurting from this past year. Their extended families have been deeply affected economically by Covid and they are trying to help them. But they, themselves, had to take a 10% pay cut. It’s been a rough road to travel for them. I am sure her story could be told a million times over across the world. In fact, many are facing much worse things. Some are struggling to even eat. We need to support those who are hurting however we can. We need to boldly share the Gospel when we are given opportunity. We need to show God’s love in this harsh, harsh world.

It’s time for the alarms around us to wake us up to what’s important. It’s time to wake up to the fact that we are probably never going back to our old “normal”.

This reminds me of the verses from I Thessalonians 5:5-11—

You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be [a]sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.

11 Therefore [b]comfort each other and [c]edify one another, just as you also are doing.

We mustn’t sleep as others do but watch and be sober. We are children of the day. Children of the light. And we must keep our eyes open and our armor on.

And don’t forget that one of these days we will be raptured! The Lord has promised that we will escape the wrath to come. We are not going to be here while the earth experiences the worst seven years in its history. Oh, praise the Lord for keeping His own from this terrible time.

Meanwhile, as we traverse the land of “limbo”, waiting for whatever is next, we need to make the best of it and appreciate what we have now. We need to be actively serving our Lord and sharing the Gospel. And we need to be sure we are growing deep roots of faith so that we can stand firm and face whatever may be ahead.

This is not the time to be resting and waiting. We need to be in the Word, learning who God is, learning to trust Him. Another thing that has been tremendously helpful to me is reading stories of missionaries and other Christians who have gone on before us. These are incredibly faith-building and are a wonderful reminder of God’s care and provision in the worst of times.

So hang on tight. It looks like we may be in for quite a ride. But let’s be sure to hang on to the right thing. Stuff will decay. People will let you down. Glory will fade. Only God and His Word are a sure anchor in the turmoil around us.

And so let us cling to Him alone. He will never fail us for He cannot fail.

 

Revival: What It Is and What It Isn’t

The word “revival” has always been tossed about freely by Christians. It is our hope for this temporal world, it would solve what ails the culture, it would fix so many problems.

I hear this word more than ever now, as the culture grows darker and darker. “There could still be revival,” is heard often by those whose fervent hope is to get back to some type of normalcy. Whose hope is to start the culture in a more positive direction.

But what exactly is revival? And is it something we can and should expect? These are the questions I’d like to take a look at today as our world grows increasingly darker and our hope for this world teeters on the brink of extinction.

Merriam-Webster gives this definition of Revival as it relates to religion–

(1) : a period of renewed religious interest

 
Dictionary.com gives this definition–

an awakening, in a church or community, of interest in and care for matters relating to personal religion.
 
So we can see that Revival, as it relates to religion, means an awakening in matters of personal religion. In fact, one of the most famous revivals of all was called “The Great Awakening”. It happened in the mid-1700s and the two most famous men connected to it are Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield, although there were many lesser-known men (and women) used by God during that great time.

What brought about such revival? Many years ago I read Iain Murray’s Jonathan Edwards (which I highly recommend, by the way). As I recall, there were three very important keys to that famous Revival: 1) Prayer and 2) Repentance of sin and 3) Separation from the world.

Fervent, frequent prayer was the fuel of the revival and the people’s repentance of sin and separation from the world was the result of that prayer.

The church in that day was much like the church of this day, in that many people went to church to ease their consciences but there was little true religion.

I remember thinking as I was reading: This sounds so much like today.

We always think we are so much worse, but there really is nothing new under the sun.

So, given the definition of revival and the three important components of revival, should we expect revival?

I think it is important to say, first, that none of us knows what is ahead. We never have known but, now more than ever, the future is unsettled and uncertain. As you read anything I say below, please keep this in mind. We can only guess where we are at on God’s timeline by reading the signs. None of us can know definitively or specifically.

What I do know from reading scripture is that in the last days (which I strongly believe we are in because of the signs given to us in the Bible), times will wax worse and worse (Read 2 Timothy 3 and Jude). People will not truly turn to the Lord but they will pretend to be godly while loving their sin and this world.

From these passages, I don’t believe we should expect revival on any large scale, although there may be scattered pockets throughout the world.

But, of course, I don’t know.

Here’s what I do know:

Much of the talk of Revival these days is not true revival.

How do I know this?

It is because, while there may be talk of a vague repentance, there is rarely talk of repenting of specific, personal sins and never talk of turning from the world.

Most Christians who declare revival as this world’s solution rarely, if ever, encourage people to turn from not only their sin, but also from their fascination with and love for this world.

And, yet, can there be true revival without it? I think not.

James makes this extremely clear in chapter 4, verse 7–

Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

We cannot be in right relationship with God if we are in love with the world. And when we hear calls for revival, we never hear anything about this.

Christians are quite comfortable in this world. They live their married lives like the world (Dad is not the head of the home, moms leave their children to go to work); They parent like the world (they don’t discipline, they ignore what the Bible teaches); They watch, listen to, and read the same things as the world. They wear the same things as the world, letting even their precious teen girls dress in such a way to draw sexual attention to themselves so that they are accepted by their friends (I am shocked and dismayed at the many Christian parents who allow this. I cannot even believe it. And I see no conviction about this. From any direction. I’ll climb down off my soap box now. This has been puzzling me for years now.)

Christians look like the world. It is hard to see any difference, really.

And I am convinced more than ever that Revival cannot come while we Christians are steeped in this world.

If we want to bring true revival, we must wean ourselves from this world.

So how much do we actually want revival? How concerned are we for souls? Or are we more concerned about getting back to our comfortable, convenient lives and the world we believed we lived in? These are questions worth our consideration.

If true revival means fervent prayer (by true believers) and turning from sin and from this world, what is all this talk about revival among false teachers (and those who we thought were true teachers that are joining with false teachers)?

I think that is a great question.

You see, there is such a thing as fake revival. And it will be characterized by many people coming together with worldly music and raised hands, powerfully moved by emotion. The truth of God’s Word in these meetings means nothing. Personal repentance of sin and commitment to separate from the world are never a part of these kinds of meetings. It is an ecumenical unity based on feelings.

I believe there will be many fake revivals. In fact, there will be a last, great fake revival when people take the mark of the beast as an act of worship. People will bow at the feet of the Antichrist, believing he IS the Christ (Revelation 13).

It is so important that we carefully examine any rumors of revival by these standards. What is driving it? Is it fueled by prayer? Is there a focus on repentance? On turning from this world?

As we ponder these things, I think we must also realize that true revival starts with individuals. You and me. While we may not expect a wave of revival to overtake this nation or the world, we can perhaps start mini-revivals in our own homes and churches and communities. This can happen through much prayer and our own personal turning away from sin and this world. It is a painful process and we can expect much marginalization and ridicule, but it will yield fruit. Perhaps not as much as we’d hope for, but God will always use a life dedicated to Him for His purposes and His glory.

So pray for Revival. But make sure you are praying for the right kind of Revival and for the right reasons.

I want to leave you with these words by David Cloud on this topic of Revival–

The heart of the tree is being eaten away even as the watchers are pleased at keeping a few leaves alive. Some type of revival could happen if individual Christians and individual churches would repent of an adulterous love for this God-hating world, repent of setting the affections more on things below than things above, and earnestly beseech God’s help. Who knows how far the forces of evil could be driven back? God has never needed a majority. Gideon’s vigilant few are enough. But so many churches are like Sardis; they have a name that they live, but they are dead. They are comfortable in the world, not pilgrims but dwellers, mighty for pot luck but weak for spiritual warfare, zealous for video games and sports and consuming fleeting hours on social media vanity, but not zealous students of God’s Word, passionate for parties but not for prayer. (From Friday News, Nov 13, 2020)

 

Encouragement for the Fainthearted

A few weeks ago, we realized that we were going to have to say good-bye to our dog. She was growing thinner by the day and it was obvious something was really wrong with her. When I called the vet they asked me if we would stay with her during her final hour or just give her to them.

Oh, how my whole being wanted to just leave her, so I wouldn’t have to face the “hard”. So much easier to drop her off and walk away.

But it wasn’t that simple…

I have had two dogs in my life that have meant more to me than any others, and she was one of them. I just couldn’t leave her to die all alone.

The next few days dragged by as we spent our final moments with the treasured pet that had been with our family for fifteen years.

And then came the day when my 21 year old daughter and I got into the car with Belle for one last time. We drove to the vet, hearts heavy, and were taken to a little room. There, we said our final goodbye and Belle breathed her last. I still tear up, even as I am writing this.

Several times over the course of the week before, I wondered if I was doing the right thing. Surely, it would be okay to just leave her? After all, she was just a dog. But as I left that room, even as I was dealing with the grief of losing this beloved pet, I was very much at peace that I had chosen the harder path.

She is just a dog. A dog without soul and without eternal significance. This is minor in light of many choices we face.

And yet, this incident reminded me of how, so often, the harder choice is the better choice.

We love easy roads. We all do. How much easier to traverse a smooth, wide road than a rocky, narrow path. And so often I make the choice that is easier. At least at the time.

I feel like I’ve come awake these past few months to how often I’ve chosen the easy path. I’ve been spoiled. I always knew this, but it has taken on even more significance recently. Most of us have been tremendously blessed materially and have rarely had to make choices that would bring negative consequences on ourselves or our families.

And I wonder: Do I even have what it takes to face the hard? Do I have the courage and strength and boldness I am going to need for whatever lies ahead?

This can make me feel downright fainthearted.

That’s when I am reminded of three very, very important principles from God’s Word (Don’t skip over the verses! They are amazingly relevant and oh, so comforting!)–

1. My strength comes from the Lord.

Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.

Philippians 4:13  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

2. God will supply all of my needs.

2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

Philippians 4:19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

3. God’s grace will be sufficient.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

 

When we have doubts we must remember these three things! Whatever lies ahead, we have the Lord on our side. These words from scripture are not empty promises. They have been proven over and over again by those who have gone on before us. They are being proven every day by those who are already walking the difficult path of persecution in other lands.

We will not be left alone, as those without a Shepherd. We will not be left hopeless, as those without a Savior. We will not be left weak and powerless, as those without Almighty God on their side.

No matter what lies ahead, we must choose the righteous and holy path. No matter how arduous the trail ahead, we must take that first step. And when we do this, we can be assured that God will provide all we need to travel this hard road. He is walking with us. We are not alone!

 

 

Six Things to Consider Regarding the Upcoming Election

It has been a strange whirlwind of a year and it is culminating with perhaps the single most important election in American history. It seems as if the whole world is watching and waiting to see the outcome and what will happen afterwards. We who live in America know that change is brewing and we feel unsettled. We realize that we are probably never going back to the way things were, no matter who wins this election.

Most posts you read regarding the upcoming election express concern about the issues facing the culture and then encourage you to be sure and vote. I am actually not going to focus on that, as I am sure you have read plenty regarding these things. I do encourage you to search the scriptures before you cast your vote. Do not do so lightly or without prayer.

But let’s talk about the election beyond the obvious. Beyond the aspect of voting. Let’s consider some things that are even more important–

1. God’s plan may be (and, in fact, probably is) different than our plan.

Have you said the following words yet this year: “I just want my old life back” or “When will things just go back to normal?”

Oh, how many of us yearn to go back to the old America. She’s been going a very wrong direction for a long, long time now but, still, she was comfortable. She felt safe. She felt secure.

That has been swept away and we’d like nothing more than to just get all of that back again. But God may have a totally different plan for this country. Remember, His plan always supersedes our own plans. While there is nothing wrong with participation in human government whether it’s through voting or actually serving in government, we must remember that God’s plan is what is most important.

As Christians, our priority is not saving America. It is glorifying God and submitting to His will.

Not only is God’s plan different, but it’s also actually greater than our plan.

I am sure many Christians throughout history have wondered what in the world God was doing? Many were sent to gulags and concentration camps; they were imprisoned; they were displaced; they were separated from their families; they became sick and died; And many were even martyred for their faith. These things are not just from history. They are actually still happening all over the world today. Christians go through terrible trials.

This would not be our plan.

And yet, we are told in scripture that God’s ways are perfect (Psalm 18:30). This means that His plans are better and higher than our plans.

 

2. We aren’t here to fix the culture.

One of the things that has disturbed me about much of the talk that is going on in Christian circles today is this push to fix the culture. We are told by certain (trusted) men that our job as Christians is to make the world a better place. Many are saying that we are here to bring the Kingdom of God to earth. This idea seems to take on more and more steam almost every day.

But I challenge you to find that idea in scripture.

Oh, you may find a verse or two that could be stretched to fit if they are ripped out of context. But if you study God’s Kingdom from Genesis to Revelation using a consistent hermeneutic, you will find that there is no possible way this could be true. I hope to write more about this some day. It’s a pretty big deal.

For now, let’s just be clear: The Bible teaches that upon our salvation, our focus is taken off this world and turned to things above (Colossians 3:2). Rather than working to bring perfection here to earth, we are much more concerned with sharing the Gospel so that others can join us in heaven someday (Matthew 28:19-20). Nowhere does it say or even imply that Christians are here on this earth to fix the culture.

 

3. There is nothing new under the sun.

No matter what happens, we know that people have experienced something similar before us. Countries have been taken over by the likes of Hitler and Stalin and Pol Pot. Communism has destroyed freedom all over the world. Real people like you and like me have lived under these regimes. They have struggled and they have suffered.

And, yet, somehow, Christians from the past and, even in these countries today, experience peace and joy. They were (and are) given the grace they need when they need it. And, so, we, too, will be given the grace to go through whatever is ahead (2 Corinthians 12:9). Another thing to remember is that, as the world grows darker, the light of Jesus Christ shines brighter. What abundant opportunities may lie ahead for us to share the Good News!

 

4. Don’t believe everything you hear.

I think it is clear that– whether we are discussing a virus, the riots, or the election– that there is a narrative that the world-at-large is determined we will believe. Those bringing us the news, the tech companies controlling social media, and the government would like nothing better than that you just eat what they feed you.

It is important that we have a healthy dose of skepticism regarding any story we hear. We must carefully think through and do some investigation before just swallowing–or, even worse yet, passing along–a story we’ve heard (no matter what side of the political fence it happens to be on).

We need to run all through the grid of scripture and test to see if these things are true, rather than simply believe what we are told. Why do I include this here? Because it is so important that we don’t let the power of the narrative to cause us to stop thinking. We have been given a brain to think and to reason. Don’t stop using it simply because the crowd has stopped using theirs.

Just because the majority believes something doesn’t make it true.

 

5.   Remember that we know how this ends.

We do not have a specific timeline of end time events. But we can see the signs.

And what we do know, according to Revelation 13, is that someday there will be a one-world government, one-world economy, and a one-world religion. Now think with me for a moment regarding what will have to take place before this scenario can happen?

We can make some fairly certain assumptions–

America will submit to a global government.

The world will be cashless.

The false Christianity of this age will join with the rest of the world in its worship of the antichrist.

As we watch and wait, we can see how these things are forming. Again, as I’ve said so often before, we can’t know a timeline. But we do know what’s coming and what is happening is certainly setting the stage for these things. We are living in very exciting times!

 

6. We can only control our actions and reactions.

We can’t control who our friend or family member votes for. We can’t control the outcome of the election. We can’t control what happens after the election. We can’t even control if our vote counts.

But we can control how we treat others who do not agree with us. We can control our words. Our behavior. Our attitudes.

And so that is what we must do.

This means showing the lost and dying world that we are transformed because of Christ. This means not complaining if things don’t go as we desire. It means not heatedly arguing with people who don’t agree with us. It means trusting God and showing the world the peace and joy that He gives, despite our fears for the future. It means loving our enemies.

And, in responding in these humanly unnatural ways, we will point people to Christ and give Him the honor and glory. For it is He who has changed us and made these responses possible.

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So pray and then vote. But let us not feel defeated if the outcome doesn’t go our way–nor feel too victorious if it does. The bottom line is that the nations are in the hands of the Lord (Psalm 47:8) and He’s controlling the world’s stage.

God is our refuge and strength. He’s a stronghold in time of trouble. And he’s not going to let us go now. We are His. So hang on to the anchor of His Word and be strong and courageous.

 

 

Some Options for Those with Extra Time

Okay, so by now we are a week or two into our isolation/social distancing. Some of you are still working crazy hours and serving the public (we thank you!!) but there are others who have a little extra time. Our churches do not have services, Bible Studies and meetings and get-togethers have been canceled. Restaurants, stores, gardens, zoos, and most other public places are closed. Many of us have little to do and fewer places to go. And so we are doing all of the things we never get around to doing such as cleaning and organizing and cooking.

But, let’s face it–you can only do so much cleaning.

So I got to thinking…

What are some other ways we can spend this gift of time that many of us have been given?

Lots of things come to mind. Now may be the perfect time to learn to knit or to find a YouTube tutorial on painting with watercolors. It’s a great time to start gardening or baking again. Perhaps it’s time to lift the covers off of old instruments packed away or rediscover our love of photography.

It’s also the perfect time to think outside the box regarding how we can serve others. What are some ways we can encourage others during this strange time in our world? Writing cards, making phone calls, sending texts and emails, and running errands for those who are high risk are just a few ways we can do this during this time.

But one of the best ways we can make use of this time would be to dig into the Word in a more meaningful way. So often we skim or quickly read. Perhaps now is the time to grab a notebook and a commentary or two and really dig in a bit.

In the upcoming month of April we will be reading John 15-21 in the Growing4Life Bible Challenge. When I planned the schedule I had no idea we would be reading the story of Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection in the same month we celebrate it! (Only God, right?? I love how He does things like this!) If you do not have another study going at this time, I want to invite you to join me in reading the last third of John and focus on Christ and what He has done for you during this coming month. You can find more details here.

Here are some other way to grow your knowledge of the Bible and its influence on the world around you–

This is the perfect time to dedicate yourself to Scripture Memorization. I use the Bible Memory App to help me with this and it’s been so incredibly helpful. But you can also memorize many other ways. Find the best way for you and dedicate yourself to hiding God’s Word in your heart and mind.

I have been amazed at how, during this time of uncertainty and change, my memorized verses have come to my mind and comforted me. A few weeks ago, I woke up early one morning–long before it was time to get up–and, in thinking of the current events, felt myself grow panicky. And then Isaiah 26:3 came to my mind: You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. It was just the balm I needed. God’s Word is truly a treasure.

We can learn doctrine through A Crash Course in Systematic Theology. You will find it here. Taught by Pastor Dean Good to his Men’s Bible Study at Grace Church of North Olmsted, it is a review of the main doctrines in the Bible. It is easy to understand and wonderfully comprehensive.

The Institute for Church Leadership is offering a course on Hermeneutics for free during this unprecedented time. It will be offered through April of 2020. You can check it out here.

I have signed up to take this course which is taught by Dr. Abner Chou. I have appreciated his teaching and am looking very forward to this opportunity to learn more about correctly interpreting God’s Word from him.

Way of Life Literature publishes some very interesting courses. The three listed here each come with powerpoints that are full of visual proofs and photos that make the course come alive. They are currently not shipping hard copies, but you can still purchase the ebooks. If you enjoy history, you will enjoy these (descriptions are from their website) —

Bible Time Ancient KingdomsBible Times and Ancient Kingdoms is a training course on Bible geography, Bible culture, Bible history, and Bible archaeology, which has a two-fold objective: to present apologetic evidence for the Bible and to give background material to help the student better understand the setting of Bible history.

Jews in Fighter JetsJews in Fighter Jews covers the past 2,500 years of the history of the most important and amazing nation on earth, the only nation directly created by God and called by God “my people,” the nation to whom “were committed the oracles of God” and “of whom, as concerning the flesh Christ came” (Romans 3:2; 9:5).

History of the Churches — This enlightening course on church history begins with the apostolic churches and ends with the early 1800s. We show that sound churches have existed side-by-side with apostate ones through the centuries.

I am currently on chapter three of Bible Time Ancient Kingdoms and I am finding it fascinating. It is well written and so informative. You will find lots of other ebooks and Bible studies there. There is even a nice selection of free ebooks for download. While I don’t agree 100% with the author on every topic, I do find that the majority of his work to be sound and edifying. (And, after all, who do we agree with 100% of the time…? That will be one of the most wonderful things about heaven! We will all know the truth about every single doctrine big or small and, therefore, we will all agree!)

The Fuel Project over at YouTube has a FANTASTIC series called Know Your Enemy. It is a thorough overview of Satan’s influence on history. You will never view the world the same again after watching it. It is well-documented and very eye-opening. It gives you the knowledge to understand who our enemy really is and clearly shows how he often presents himself as light and good, all while being the mastermind of deception. I really can’t recommend this highly enough.

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However we choose to use any bit of extra time we’ve been gifted, may we use it wisely. May we not waste hours and hours glued to the news or scrolling through social media. These things aren’t bad, in and of themselves, but let’s keep them from stealing an over abundance of the precious hours we’ve been gifted with.

 

 

At All Costs

We have a chocolate Lab named Macy. If you’ve been a reader for awhile, you will probably remember other posts about her. She is passionately–even desperately–attached to me. She goes into a bit of a panic if I am not around. If I run over to the office or take some trash out, I can be sure she will be right behind me because she has even learned how to let herself out of the house. If I am working outside, I can be sure she will be laying somewhere nearby. If I hop on the Gator she runs along side it, trying to keep up. I usually slow down a bit so that she can.

The other morning I awoke really early. I couldn’t get back to sleep so, finally, around 5am, I stole quietly from the room leaving my husband and Macy sleeping peacefully. I glanced to make sure she wasn’t ready to get up yet and then closed the bedroom door and headed downstairs to sit outside and watch the sun rise. The sky was already brightening as I took my cup of coffee outside.

I sat there for an hour or so, when suddenly I heard a scratch at the door. My husband was not far behind and opened the door, letting me know that she had discovered I wasn’t in the room and had been crying. I felt kind of bad. He doesn’t get to sleep in very often. I had been so sure she was sound asleep. How did she even figure out I wasn’t in my bed…?

But that’s how she is. If I’m around she’s at peace. If I’m not around she’s not. Macy doesn’t like to disappoint me and so she is a very obedient dog. If I tell her to come, she comes. If I tell her to lay down, she listens to me. Well, unless there is food involved. She struggles to be obedient when there is food involved.

But, overall, she does everything in her power to please me and to be close to me. She follows me everywhere. It can actually be annoying sometimes–like when she follows me into the bathroom or she stops right in front of me and almost trips me in her efforts to make sure I am following closely behind her and am not taking some surprise detour. But it is also a bit endearing. How can you not love a dog that loves you soooo much?

As I reflected on Macy’s passion and zeal for me the other day, it gave me pause for thought.

I mean, I know she’s a dog and all, but bear with me.

As I pondered her passion and zeal for me, I had to ask myself: Where is my passion and zeal directed? Am I even passionate and zealous about anything?

Do I feel like all is wrong in my world if I am doing my own thing apart from God? Do I hate to disappoint my Master? Do I do everything in my power to remain close to my Master’s side?

I finished a book yesterday called Hunted and Harried. It is about the persecution of the Scottish Covenanters during the 1600’s. (I recommend it. It was very thought-provoking and easy to read.) As I read of these men and women who chose to be martyred rather than to turn from true faith, I wondered if I would do the same thing? Could do the same thing?

Is my passion and my zeal for the Lord more important than my reputation? Than my family? Than my possessions? Than my very life?

If it’s not, then something is dreadfully wrong. Jesus challenges us with this very thought in Matthew 10:37-39–

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

And Paul reiterates this in Colossians 3:3–

For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

And Galatians 2:20–

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

True Christianity means dying to self.

Dying to self in order to follow Christ may lead us into great suffering and persecution. It will probably lead to unpopularity in the Church and to antagonism from the world. Obeying and pleasing Him will most certainly make us appear odd to a world bent on pleasing self.

But none of that should matter to us. Like Macy, we should have one goal in mind and that is to stay close to our Master. And what is the best way to do this?

We read, study, and memorize the Word. We submit and obey what we find there. We yield our wills, desires, and dreams to the will and purposes of the Father.

It’s so incredibly opposite of what we hear these days coming from the pulpits across America, isn’t it?

And, yet, we can’t study scripture and understand it any other way.

The wonderful thing is that while we are dying to self and serving God with passion and zeal, He is faithfully caring and protecting and loving and growing us. He is a the perfect Master and yielding our lives to Him brings true peace and joy that the world can never experience.

I am human and sometimes I can get frustrated with Macy. But God never does this. He wants us close by His side. He never grows weary of us or rejects us for even a second. His love is completely and utterly unconditional. He is wholly deserving of our most fervent devotion and dedication.

We can get caught up in this world and become oh, so distracted. We can forget, as we go about our everyday lives full of busyness, that we are not are own.

So perhaps we should regularly ask ourselves this question: Just how much passion and zeal do I have for God?

Am I willing to follow Him anywhere? Am I willing to lose popularity, reputation, family, or even my life for Him?

Come what may, I hope the answer to these questions for all of us is YES. May we be willing to follow Christ at all costs.

 

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