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The Doomsdayer, The Ostrich, and the Faithful One

In the spring of 2020, right about the time it became obvious that what was going on was about more than a virus and would most certainly last more than a couple of weeks to “flatten the curve”, someone sent me an article. The article predicted such impending doom for that following fall that I lost a whole night’s sleep over it. It is generally best for me not to read those at night. Actually, it’s best not to read them at all.

The following morning, I was able to refocus myself on the Lord and to remember His promises, but I will never forget that long night of panic. Since that time, predictions of doom and gloom have only multiplied exponentially. It is easy to understand why, considering the strange and unprecedented times we are living in. But predictions are just that…predictions. The only predictions that come true 100% of the time are in the Bible. While we can reflect on others and consider them (if that is something you are wont to do), we dare not take them too seriously.

These times are challenging, no question about that. And I’ve noticed that most Christians respond one of three ways. Some people (like myself) have responded all three ways on different occasions. Let’s take a look briefly at two types of responders–

The Doomsdayer-– These are the ones that are all about what is going on in the world. Their conversations and communications are generally along the line of what is happening. Nothing else really exists for them and they are obsessed by the events, the news, and the future of this world. Some of these doomsdayers are working hard to “save” the world. Others are intently focused on how these events all fit into the Bible and what we know is coming.

The Ostrish– These are the ones who don’t want to hear anything. They surround themselves with only the positive and close their ears to anything that threatens their way of life. It’s actually been rather difficult to be an ostrich in this past couple of years with all that’s going on, but we all try to dig our heads in the sand at one time or other through various means of escape and endeavors of industry.

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Both of the above are incorrect ways to approach anything in this life. Although it may be tempting to handle anything difficult or vexing in one of these ways, as believers we are called to something higher.

This has been such a learning process for me and I’ve not arrived (to say the least) but the Lord has been very patiently teaching me over these past two years that all I need to be as we face these weird times is a faithful one. He may be teaching you the same thing.

In the Bible, we find many examples to follow during any trial–even a situation as strange and unusual and, yes, sometimes frightening as this one. Let’s consider just a few of them–

Noah was given the worst prediction in the world: The whole world would be destroyed and he and his family alone would be saved (Genesis 6:13-14). We don’t read much of Noah but what we do know is that he was faithful and obedient in the midst of the greatest world tragedy in existence up to this point (Hebrews 11:7).  So, too, we must be faithful and obedient in the midst of what appears to be the preparation for the “as in the days of Noah” time (Matthew 24:37).

We are called to obey.

 

Abraham faithfully followed after God, having no idea where he was headed (Hebrews 11:8-9). So, too, must we follow hard after God, even when we can’t see where we are going. Amidst the questions, the what-ifs, and the confusion, we remain faithful.

We are called to be faithful.

 

Joseph faced the unimaginable but God worked all things out in and through these unimaginable circumstances (Genesis 37-50). From being sold into slavery by his own brothers to being falsely accused, Joseph was probably very discouraged many times. And, yet, God was intricately involved in the timelines and minute details of Joseph’s life and used all of it to eventually save the nation of Israel during a dreadful famine. This account reminds us that God has every little detail of our lives under His sovereign control and we can trust His plan.

We are called to trust God.

 

Esther put her life on the line to do the right thing (Esther 4:16). It was a very different time and place and her audacity in approaching the king could mean her death. Can you imagine how she felt as she waited to see if the king would hold out his sceptre and welcome her? But, even knowing it could mean her life, she did what was right. How often we are unwilling to do or say what is right because of a little ridicule that might come our way. Oh, that we may be more like Esther and be willing to sacrifice whatever necessary in order to do the right thing.

We are called to sacrifice.

 

Job lost everything and still bowed to God and surrendered to God’s will (Job 1:21). As we read Job, we see this man struggle through great trial and finally come to understand that God is immeasurably great and man is called to surrender in the face of God’s greatness. So, too, must we understand that God’s plans and purposes are far higher than ours and only through surrendering our own will to God’s will can we find any peace at all in the midst of trials and tribulation.

We are called to surrender.

 

Stephen faced his death with valor, while calling upon the Lord to forgive those who stoned him (Acts 7:60) He remembered–even as he was dying–what was really important. So, too, must we face the truth of our circumstances with eternal souls in mind. May we never lose sight of what really matters amidst the craziness and chaos of all that’s going on.

We are called to remember what really matters.

 

Paul bravely faced much persecution for speaking the truth (Read the book of Acts to find out more). So, too, must we be willing to speak up with courage and boldness, pointing people to God and His Word. Amidst great unpopularity and ridicule and, yes, even coming persecution, we must speak the truth.

We are called to speak the truth.

 

Can you think of other examples in scripture that we can pull wisdom from for this current world we live in? There are so many others, including Jesus Himself. God has not left us to our own devices in this world but has filled His Word with examples of men and women for us to emulate. He has filled His Word to us with promises, encouragement, commands, and guidance. He has told us how to face anything that we may have to face.

I have been both doomsdayer and ostrich over the past couple of years. But what I want to be is a faithful one, being and doing all that God has shown me to be and to do– no matter what the circumstances.

None of us can know what lies ahead. None of us can know what God’s specific and detailed plan is or the timing of that plan. But we do know what we are called to do. And so we live one hour at a time in obedience to His call.

Rather than to be known as the prophet of bad news or the scaredy-cat unwilling to face bad news, may we be known as the faithful Christian who is willing to face the truth with courage and to live in such a way that always points people to Christ.

 

 

What Will Heaven Be Like?

How do you picture heaven? Do you imagine a place full of white, fluffy clouds, harps, and snow-white robes? Do you wonder if you will get bored floating around in this ethereal place for the rest of eternity? I know these were some of my thoughts before God, through His Word, started to slowly open my eyes to the reality of what’s ahead for all those who trust in Christ as their Savior.

It was “nutshelled” for me yesterday when I went to hear my brother, Pastor Dean Good, as a guest speaker at a Bible Study in my parents’ community. His topic was heaven and it was very insightful. He gave me permission to share here today. (The points will all be his but what is written will be my own expansion of those points, much of it drawn from what he shared but put into my own words.)

We have to come to grips with the fact that life is short. Dean shared his own story about losing his wife after twenty short years. Many of you will remember that happening, as I shared about it here on the blog. But he also reminded us that death will happen to everyone. We always act so surprised and, yet, everybody dies. And the minute you die nothing we fretted or stewed over or strove for on this old earth matters a bit. Only one thing matters: Do you know Jesus Christ?

If we can say yes, we definitely do know Christ, then death should not be something we fear because we know with certainty where we are going.

But many of us still feel uncertain and nervous because we can’t really know what it’s like. Well, that’s true. The Bible doesn’t tell us too much about heaven. My husband has often said over the past two years that we probably have no idea how awesome heaven is. In fact, if we realized what is ahead, we probably wouldn’t want to stay on earth. I love this verse that expands on this thought–

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

And so we know that heaven will be incredibly awesome! From this passage and others. Today, we will specifically look at Revelation 21:1-8 in our efforts to understand a bit more what heaven will be like and who will be there.

First, let’s see how heaven is described.

All things will be new. The old will have passed away and all things will be new (Revelation 21:1; Isaiah 65:17f; 2 Peter 3:13)

It will be a physical place. We will walk around and eat. There will be economies, vineyards, governments. We won’t be hanging around bored somewhere in the clouds (see the end of Isaiah 65 for just one evidence of this).

The New Jerusalem will be a holy city. It is hard to think of a city that is perfectly holy. Since the beginning of time, cities have seemed to be where sin and wickedness congregate. Corruption, tyranny, prostitution, gambling, human trafficking, the selling of illegal substances, and crime often begin and flourish in cities.

But this will be a city without evil. It will be perfect with no sin or corruption of any kind. Isn’t that so hard to imagine? It will not only be beautiful but it will be perfectly safe.

The New Heaven will also be perfect. No presence of sin, no more curse, no death, no sorrow or tears or pain. We will have no fear because there won’t be anything to fear. Can you even imagine??

Here on earth we sometimes expect perfection but why? Why do we expect things to go according to our plans when we live on a fallen, sinful earth? But in heaven, we will be able to expect (and we will receive!) perfection. That’s actually hard to comprehend, isn’t it?

Second, let’s look at the certainty of Heaven.

Revelation 21:5-7 says this–

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said [b]to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

And He said to me, “It[c] is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes [d]shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

Notice the words “for these words are true and faithful.”

Last night, my husband and I watched another couple of episodes of the series Against All Odds (link below). It is the story of the birth and life of modern day Israel. Watching that makes it clear that Israel is only there for one reason: God has ordained it. In fact, God had promised it in His Word long ago. This reminded me how true and everlasting God’s promises are. Which reminded me of how true God’s Word is.

God will fulfill His promises and His words are true and faithful.

Which leads to the final and third point: Who will be in heaven?

If God’s Word is true regarding Israel; If His prophecies have come true at the rate of 100% throughout history; If He is truly faithful–well, then we know that what He says about who will be in heaven is absolutely true, as well.

Verse 7 says that those who thirst for living water will be given the fountain of life. Those who have repented and trusted Christ as their Savior are the only ones who may enter. The evidence of their salvation are their good works but that is not the means for their ticket to enter. Only those who realize that they are utterly destitute but for the atoning work of Christ will enter heaven.

Verse 8 of Revelation 21 tells us who won’t be there. But that is only if they continue in these sins. Christ’s sacrifice has wholly covered these sins by His blood if we but repent and turn to Him! It is not too late to submit our rebellious heart to the One, True God who longs that no man perish but that all come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

I know that this is a tough truth for so many of you who have loved ones who just don’t seem to get salvation. It is so tempting to “save” those who are living in sin who may have made a “decision for Christ” as a kid. But, as Dean has said–there will be many who made a “decision for Christ” who won’t be in heaven. The Bible is so very clear that true salvation yields fruit. This is throughout scripture: Those who are saved desire to serve and obey Christ. It is a hard truth to face and it costs much. But that doesn’t change that it is true.

This truth should compel us to share the Gospel and challenge our status-quo self-absorbed loved ones who think they are going to heaven. While we can’t know if any soul is truly saved (only God knows this), we can and should earnestly pray and have the hard discussions.

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As we move into these last days, it is hard to imagine that anyone can’t see that what is happening is of biblical significance. But, as I told my husband last night, if someone can ignore the true miracle of Israel’s rebirth, then I guess they can ignore anything. When Israel became a nation, the final hour of this age began. While we should never set specific dates, it seems foolish to live as if everything will return to normal. We are so obviously in the last days. Heaven is closer than ever for those who love God!

And with this recognition should come a deep burden to share the Gospel. Heaven is a wonderful place. And those who are saved will go there. But Revelation 21 says that those who aren’t saved–those who insist on rebelling against God and living in sin–will go to hell–

 But the cowardly, [e]unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8

I don’t especially like this doctrine and I can see why people try to reason it away. But it’s there. Not only in Revelation 21 but all throughout scripture. May we remember this as we seek to reach the lost and, particularly, those who think they are saved but may not be.

Heaven will be a wonderful place for believers. Of that we can be sure. While we may not know a lot, we know enough. May we passionately share the Gospel so that more people can experience this amazing wonderful place. But, more importantly, that they may avoid an eternity in hell.

 

 

*Against All Odds is currently free (with ads) on Tubi. Find it here. I highly recommend!

 

 

Preparing for What Lies Ahead

The other night I awoke in the early morning hours and just couldn’t fall back to sleep. A million thoughts swirled through my mind. Sad thoughts. Scared thoughts. “What-if” thoughts.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything…

In the midst of the turmoil in my head, God reminded me of this verse I had memorized. Philippians 4:6-7 has been a balm to my soul during many a sleepless night over the past two years.

Last week, I struggled through something that happened with a dear sibling in Christ. Romans 12:18 has been the verse running through my mind throughout the struggle– If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. I can’t control the other person but as much as it depends on me I need to live peaceably with that person. Do I need to ask for forgiveness? Do I need to overlook an offense or offer grace? This memorized verse led me to ask these important questions and then take the necessary steps to right the situation. 

Last night I was preparing a short devotional and I Thessalonians 5:9 jumped out at me–  For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

I am familiar with this verse and have read it many times. I have also known that this is often used as an argument for the pre-trib rapture. But last night, in those few minutes of preparation, I understood that verse in a way I’ve never understood it before. And, while I wasn’t necessarily waffling on my pre-trib rapture stance, I did need to see that verse and be reminded that God has not appointed us to wrath. And the Tribulation is clearly God’s wrath poured out on man. Genuine Christians will not be here for that. It was a comforting reminder that I needed at just that time.

And, finally–as one last personal story– Throughout the past few years I have watched popular Christian after popular Christian join with false teachers teaching a false gospel. Romans 16:17 is why I recognize this as a huge RED FLAG. God’s Word tells us to avoid false teachers. It teaches us what to look for as we choose whom to listen to and read. And it gives us the red flags we should look for through verses like this. It’s an invaluable resource for discernment in an age of great deception.

So are you wondering yet why I am telling you these random personal stories? Have you noticed what they all have in common?

I am convinced that the greatest thing we believers can do to prepare for whatever lies ahead is to be in the Word. And, even better yet, to be memorizing it.

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

The only way we can truly be prepared to build up, lead, support, and encourage our families, our church families, and other fellow Christians is to know and study God’s Word. The only way to shine an unquenchable light in the darkness is to be immersing ourselves in the Bible. The only way to share the Truth of God’s Word with the lost around us–some of whom, given the circumstances, will be searching in a way they have never searched before–is to know God’s Word.

The Bible is our anchor. Our guide. Our lamp on a dark path. Our comfort.

This isn’t some cliche. This is real life. We American Christians have been playing at Christianity for a long time. It’s not that we have desired to be shallow but our circumstances gave us few opportunities to live a life of faith. We are headed into a time where we will often be left with little option but to trust God. Trust God for a job, for the health of ourselves or our loved ones, for the future of our children, perhaps even for our very necessities.

The future looks grim and we cannot walk into it unarmed and without knowledge of God through His Word. For here we find out that God cannot go back on His promises. Here we find that what we are experiencing is what we can expect to experience at the end of the age. It all makes so much sense when we take God at His Word.

Our study of the Bible should take precedence over everything else. Our desire to know it and study it should be a priority for us all. We all have different schedules and demands on our time. I don’t know what that looks like for you. But I encourage you to make a study of the Word a priority. I encourage you to make it more important than keeping up with what is happening in this crazy world; to prioritize it over that TV show that isn’t honoring to God, anyway; to make Bible Study an essential part of your day before turning to the hobby, the golf game, the book, or some other distraction.

Satan knows the power for the Christian life is in the Word. He knows that Christians are pretty much rendered helpless and ineffective without it. And so he has created a million different distractions.

He has even caused many of us to believe we are wasting time if we are sitting. Do you equate sitting with laziness? If you do, know that this is a LIE from the devil. To feel guilty when we sit down means that we feel guilty when we read God’s Word. Think about that for a moment. Oh, Satan is so very crafty. Don’t be deceived. There is NOTHING more important than getting in God’s Word.

If you have been around for awhile, this is not a new message for you. I have been talking about the importance of God’s Word in the life of the believer for many years now. Little did I know, however, how critical this would become for our survival and spiritual health.

We give little thought to the air we breathe when we are walking in the fresh air outdoors. But when we start drowning, air becomes more precious than anything else. It’s literally the only thing that matters. The Bible is the air to Christians in this drowning world. May we never neglect the air tank that God has so graciously provided for all those who love Him.

 

 

The Veneer is Dissipating

Awhile ago, I was doing laundry and found a penny. I am not sure what adventures that penny had been on but what I learned that day was that pennies aren’t copper all the way through. The copper is only a thin veneer that covers what I imagine must be some cheaper, undesirable metal.

A few days ago, my daughter told me she was in an elevator with her two year old. The masked man in the elevator said to my granddaughter, “you can push the button.” My daughter thought he was being nice. And then he said the words that showed his true heart and removed the thin veneer of courtesy: Let her get the germs.

That awful man cared more about his own health and safety than about the health and safety of a two year old little girl.

But this is not a lone story. Everywhere you turn you are learning things about people you just never wanted to know. We are learning the priorities, the fears, the selfishness, the ugly hearts. We are learning this about strangers; and about neighbors, church family, and co-workers; about extended family, and, sadly, even about our own dear family members.

Status Quo has a way of covering up the truth. When status quo is shaken, the truth –which was always there– starts showing itself.

So that’s kind of depressing, really. I mean it’s been so heartbreaking to see the division, the anger, the unforgiveness, the selfishness, the fear-driven decisions. It’s absolutely disheartening, isn’t it?

But within those depressing, heartbreaking, disheartening circumstances lies an unprecedented opportunity for believers.

Let’s go back to that penny for a moment. We believers still have that undesirable flesh that resides within us causing all kinds of trouble. The only difference is our coating. Instead of a thin veneer of courtesy and morality, we are now covered by Christ’s blood. Our veneer has been replaced by the indestructible gold of Christ’s sacrifice. And that covering will start changing our ugly old flesh into something precious. It takes a while and we all have our own journeys, but we should be battling the flesh less and less as we grow in the faith.

So now comes that opportunity to which I was referring.

In this world gone mad we have the opportunity to look different than the lost around us because we are different. Our responses, our choices, our actions, our lifestyles, our decisions–they should be born out of faith instead of fear. They should be born out of a love for righteousness instead of a love for evil. They should be born out of a heart surrendered rather than out of a spoiled, selfish “I want my own way” heart. Some questions to ask as we reflect on this: Are my responses and choices determined by my thoughtful study of God’s Word? Do I care more about the welfare of others than I do about my own? Do I trust the Lord for the days ahead? These are the changes that are made in the heart of God’s child.

Oh, not instantly. Rarely instantly. But we have the Word as our guide and help. And we pray. We ask the Lord to show us our weak spots. Our ugly sins and flaws. We ask Him to make us more like Christ. And then when we stumble, we readily and humbly admit we have sinned and try again.

And so…it isn’t that we are perfect. It isn’t that we are some icon of calm in the midst of the chaos. It doesn’t mean that we are without an occasional short temper or curt word.

No, the difference is that we humbly admit when we are wrong. The difference is that we desire to be a light in this dark night and we act on that desire. We aim to grow in our faith. We are never satisfied to look like the dying world around us. Instead of hypocrisy, we are characterized by frank honesty. Instead of hiding our heads in the sand, we are are characterized by a willingness to face the hardest truth with courage. None of this is done perfectly. We just bring a willing and wanting heart to do what is right.

The other day someone treated me very rudely at the store. I hadn’t done or said anything to them but simply wasn’t doing what they thought I should do. I reflected on how rude some people are becoming in the midst of all of this uncertainty. And I pondered for a moment how bad it would get if there literally was only some food on the shelves and not enough to feed everyone. What would people be like then? Visions of the toilet paper shortage from early 2020 come flooding back and we know how people would act. It’s kind of scary, isn’t it? But a more important question is what would I be like? If I couldn’t get my basic necessities how would I respond?

Will this happen? I have no idea. But a great time to practice for that is right now. We can and we must be intentional in our responses right now. When we can’t get that item we need because it’s out on a cargo ship somewhere; when the waitress is overworked and struggling in the short-staffed restaurant; when the store clerk is just so incompetent; when the customer service rep on the phone couldn’t care less about you or your problem; when the neighbor ridicules you for your worldview; when a family member makes a choice you 100% disagree with; when that employee calls off yet again; when a fellow believer hurts you deeply; when life just doesn’t go our way.

THESE are opportunities to respond with love and grace and truth and kindness. These are the opportunities–and they are becoming more and more plentiful, aren’t they?–which God can use to grow and prepare us for whatever lies ahead.

We may still be ugly metal on the inside, but we are promised transformation. And little by little that ugly metal is changing into something much more precious. Oh, we will always have some of that flesh within us here on earth but, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can diminish it’s presence and power in our lives.

I wish I could say I have this down perfectly. But, like always, I am simply writing about what God is teaching me. The other day I had such a frustrating conversation on the phone with a customer service rep and I found myself growing angrier by the minute. While I do think I handled it better than I would have ten years ago, I still have such a long way to go. But I am getting lots of opportunities to practice these days and I am guessing so are you. So, together, and with God’s help, let’s intentionally be different from the rest of the world. And, through that difference, may God use our light to draw the lost to Him and to encourage fellow believers along the way.

 

 

Must We Defend the Bible?

A few weeks ago, my youngest daughter, Marissa, casually mentioned that she had had to write a blog post for a school assignment. While this young woman is artistic, she tends to use a paintbrush rather than a pen to express herself (She recently opened an Etsy store, which you can find here). But I have to confess that, after reading what she wrote, I can’t help but wonder if she may end up as a writer, as well.

I believe what she wrote for her school assignment is an important message that believers need to hear. We can get so mixed up by the noise and cacophony that comes at us from all directions and sometimes we lose our perspective. This short post reminds us of some very important truths. I hope it serves as a wonderful reminder and an encouragement, too.

Here is what she wrote–

Do science and the Bible go hand in hand? Must we have science to believe in Scripture? Must we use science to give proof for the Scriptures? These are all questions that have come into discussion in recent times. There has been a scientific push in this day and age. Everything must be be “fact based.”

I contend that the answer to the questions above is an absolute no. This is an unpopular stance to take. However, let me give my reasoning before you discount my claim.

#1) God never needs man to achieve His purposes. While God can use His people and circumstances to reach a soul, He is never dependent on them. The Holy Spirit can change a heart and give faith as He wills and pleases. To say that an individual needs to know the proof of the Scriptures before they can place their faith in the Bible, is giving absolute discredit to God’s power.

#2) Humans are fallen. This intrinsically means that science is fallen. There have been numerous scientific claims that were proven false years down the road. Pharmaceutical companies give false information for the sake of money. Governments make false claims for the sake of their own agendas. News companies spin stories to receive the reaction they want. As long as sin remains on this earth, science will inherently fail. Why should we rely on misinformation from secular sources to prove the Bible given from a holy and perfect God?

#3) The element of faith. Salvation has never been about knowledge. A person coming to faith doesn’t need to know how the creation is backed up by science before they make their decision. They choose to follow Christ based on faith. They choose to follow Christ because they understand the Gospel and its message. To say that science is needed cheapens the Gospel.

#4) The danger of pride. When we say that science is needed to prove Scripture, there is a larger emphasis on man’s knowledge than on God’s Word. Suddenly, humans have the responsibility to prove the Bible based on human knowledge and findings. It’s important to recognize who God is versus who we are. We are His creation. It’s as if the potter’s clay works to prove that their creator exists. How incredibly foolish. We know the Creator exists because we see His workmanship so clearly and evidently. We believe that He exists because He has given us all that is necessary to do so.

Now listen, I’m not saying there isn’t any purpose for understanding how science and the Bible work together. There are times when scientific proof serves as a great confirmation for a doubting believer or the cynical atheist. God can use science for His purposes. However, even if science and the Bible contradict, I will choose to believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God and remember that earthly knowledge is fallen and a result of a depraved society. His ways are always higher than ours.

 

What to Expect When You are Expecting

There’s a popular book for pregnant women called What to Expect When You’re Expecting. It was actually very helpful to me thirty years ago and it must be fairly timeless as I see the 4th revised version is still available today. But this post isn’t about expecting a baby. It’s about our expectations of this life and what we should expect when we are expecting.

But, first, a story.

Last fall, our youngest daughter, Marissa, decided to take a semester off of college so that she wouldn’t lose her senior year playing soccer. With that in mind, she restarted in Spring and this fall is her final semester before she graduates in December. She was really looking forward to a her final soccer season and things were going well. She was expecting a great season.

But that all came to a flying halt a couple of Saturdays ago when her foot made contact with someone else’s shoe and shattered two of the toes on her right foot. With a trip to the doctor and a boot on her foot, the expectation for a great soccer season faded away to nothing and left only bitter disappointment in its place.

It’s been a hard couple of weeks for her because this girl loves soccer. I know God is growing her and teaching her because she loves Him and He has promised us in Romans 8:28-29 to use all things in the lives of those who love Him to conform them to Christ’s image but–as we all know–some of those “all things” can be very painful.

As I was reflecting on the past few weeks yesterday, I was thinking how my daughter’s disappointed and unfulfilled expectation mirrors what we are all experiencing to some extent. Prior to March 2020 we all had expectations for our lives. They were reasonable expectations (for most of us). Things such as: Have a happy family whose needs are met; Enjoy spending time with those we love; Travel and vacations; Good health (and wonderful healthcare should we need it); buying anything we need (or want) and getting it in a timely fashion; financial security; etc, etc, etc.

While we knew (and had probably already experienced) the hard facts of life (such as disease, death, betrayal, broken relationships, financial difficulties, etc) the world around us always remained stable in the midst of those terrible trials.

But within one week in the year 2020, all of those expectations came crashing down. Suddenly, our world wasn’t so stable after all. We recognized in such a short time that we aren’t really free, after all. We recognized the stranglehold on the information flow. And we recognized the outright deception being played out on so many levels. It was disconcerting and frustrating. And as time marched on after that pivotal week, our expectations became less and less likely to be fulfilled.

And we were reminded in a more vivid way than ever before of what can we expect when we are expecting in this life on earth: We can expect disappointment and disillusionment.

But, just like my daughter will need to work through her unfulfilled expectation for her life, so, too, will we need to do the same. We need to release those expectations we had and rest in the Lord’s will for our lives. His will is not our will and we need to trust Him as we move forward.

The wonderful thing is that we can trust Him. Not only has He proven Himself over and over again in our own lives and the lives of those who have gone before us, but we are seriously watching what was prophesied two thousand years ago getting set up to come to pass right before our eyes. If that doesn’t confirm scripture for you, then I don’t know what will.

And we finally realize: There is one expectation that will never go unfulfilled. One hope that will never dim or fade away.

And that is our hope in Christ.

He made a way for us to be reconciled to God through His sacrifice on the cross so that we could live in His presence forever (learn more about this here.) Our expectations for a future with God in heaven will come to pass.

Unlike this old earth that is fading away, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever and we can count on Him to fulfill His promises.

So instead of tentative, precarious expectations based in this unsettled, strange world, perhaps it’s time we base our expectations in the rock of Ages. Perhaps this is part of what God is doing–moving His children’s hearts from this world to the one to come (Colossians 3:1-4); deepening our understanding of our role as pilgrims and sojourners in this world (I Peter 2:11); and helping us understand that our hope for this life and for our future should lie in Christ alone (Ephesians1:18-21).

Oh, my friends, let’s move our expectations from this world to the God of the universe. Let’s move them from the tentative and unsure to the certain and the definite.

And, in so doing, everything will change. Instead of being driven by discouragement and disappointment, we will rest secure in our eternal hope. Instead of being self-absorbed we will turn outwards, bringing hope to the lost souls around us and emanating the peace and joy that only God can give.

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If I look at myself, I am depressed. If I look at those around me, I am often disappointed. If I look at my circumstances, I am discouraged. But if I look at Jesus, I am constantly, consistently, and eternally fulfilled! ~Author Unknown

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(Yeah, that sounds so wonderful, doesn’t it? And I do know that what I wrote above is true. But that doesn’t mean I always live it. Like you, I am trying to grow and learn in this strange new world we are living in. It’s a real challenge some days. The most important thing that has helped me is studying and memorizing the Word. If you are saved and just don’t know where to begin in moving your hope from this world to an eternal hope, start there. Open Ephesians 1 and read what God has said about His own. Read Philippians. Read John 10, John 15, Colossians 3, Psalm 37. And on and on. God has given us so much in His Word from which we can draw strength in these difficult days.)

 

 

Our Only Hope

The other day I sat out on my porch in the early morning light. I was out much earlier than usual and the sun was just starting to awake. I glanced down at the pond below me and thought I saw a ginormous frog. I focused my eyes for a second and then realized that it was a rock. I laughed at myself but then realized, with somber awareness, that this is what so many are doing right now.

They are glancing or hearing something and they are taking it at face value. I would submit to you that the days for taking anything at “face value” are over. We can’t afford to just glance and assume we actually are seeing what we are seeing. It takes some serious digging to find out the truth. Digging that is critical to both our physical and our spiritual lives.

For example, the other day there was a doctor who put on social media what he is seeing in the hospitals. It was awful and, it it’s true, it was certainly something to encourage people to make a certain decision. However, upon further evaluation, we realized that he had said something that makes no sense at all and was completely inconsistent with common medical practice. Therefore it had absolutely no merit. He clearly had lied. Later, I found out that people are being paid money to lie on their social media accounts. With the dearth of integrity and the ease with which people lie, you can see how this would be a very effective way to push a narrative.

My point is this: Evaluate and examine everything. No matter which side or point of view it comes from. Don’t “pick a side” and then grow lazy. Deception is literally everywhere.

Whether it is regarding false teaching or any other happening in our world today, we must think beyond the obvious. Satan is counting on Christians not doing that. He’s counting on Christians not knowing the Word–either in regards to doctrine or prophecy. And he has a pretty good thing going at this point as most Christians are completely illiterate in both.

The Word is our only hope.

Literally–

Our. Only. Hope.

It’s what will keep us from being deluded. It’s what will show us deception. It will give us context for what is happening right now. It will encourage our hearts with God’s promises.

Remember–it will be so treacherous and perilous in the earth’s final days that–if it were possible–even the very elect would be deceived.

We must stay awake and alert with lamps full of oil as we await our Bridegroom (Matthew 25:1-13). We must not sleep like others do but watch and be sober (I Thessalonians 5:1-11).

We can’t glance at something and assume it’s true. Yes, it takes work to think beyond the narrative. It takes work to compare all we hear from preachers and authors and teachers–and even on social media–against the Word of God. But this is our task as believers.

It is our only protection.

It is our only hope in this mixed up, insane world.

(Yes. I do know that I am being redundant. I recognize that I am saying this same thing over and over again. I do so because A) perhaps there is a new reader out there, B) It really can’t be repeated enough, and C) It truly is the only hope for believers in these last days.)

 

Three Reasons to Avoid the Enneagram

The Enneagram has become a popular trend recently among many Christians–particularly Christian women. But as with anything that comes along, we Christians need to examine and test it (1 Thessalonians 5:21). If we say that we love the Lord and His Word, it is our responsibility to evaluate any new trend against that Word, no matter how wildly popular it is. Perhaps especially if it is wildly popular.

My daughter, Jess, took the time to do some evaluating of this popular trend recently over at her An Anchor for the Soul Facebook page and gave me permission to share what she wrote here on the blog. I hope this will be helpful to you as you seek to please the Lord with your life.

Here’s what Jess found out–

First, what is the Enneagram? It’s simple definition is “a system of personality typing that describes patterns in how people interpret the world and manage their emotions. The Enneagram describes nine personality types and maps each of these types on a nine-pointed diagram which helps to illustrate how the types relate to one another.” Sounds innocent, enough, right? Wrong.

Let me explain the three reasons why I believe the Enneagram is something we should avoid entirely–

1) ITS ORIGIN: The Enneagram was first created by George Gurdjieff as a symbol of the cosmos. He was an occultist who believed man isn’t aware of his true self or reality until he awakens his conscience. Gurdjieff’s pupil, Oscar Ichazo, used psychedelic drugs and shamanism and claimed he received instruction regarding the Enneagram from a higher entity called “Metatron.” He saw the Enneagram as a tool to explore how someone’s essence (which is originally “perfect and in unity with the cosmos”) becomes distorted by karma, subjectivity, and ego.

Claudio Naranjo, another occultist, then connected the symbol with nine personality types. He originally claimed that the nine types were rooted in ancient history but later admitted that they were created through the practice of automatic writing. Naranjo’s students spread the Enneagram throughout various Catholic communities in the 1970s and Don Riso and Bob Nochs furthered its audience and popularity. Richard Rohr brought it into Evangelical circles with his book “The Enneagram: a Christian Perspective” in 1989.

So the creation of the Enneagram includes mysticism, the occult, shamanism, spirit guides, drugs, occult symbols, catholicism, heretics and automatic writing. Does this sound like something a Christian should embrace?

2) ITS PURPOSE: According the Enneagram Institute, the purpose of the modern day Enneagram is very similar to that of Ichazo’s Enneagram. The goal is to help people unravel the mystery of their true identity and develop more desirable spiritual and psychological qualities. They believe people are spiritual beings who have lost contact with their true nature. Once people discover their true nature through the Enneagram, they can experience a spiritual awakening that brings freedom and joy.

This purpose flies in the face of the Gospel. No, we aren’t spiritual beings who have lost contact with our true nature. We are children of the world and slaves to sin apart from the redeeming work of Christ. No, we don’t need to unravel the mystery of our identity, unless we’re unraveling the fact that we’re hopeless sinners. No, we don’t need to discover our true nature to find a spiritual awakening. We need only to repent and believe in the truth of the Gospel to find freedom and joy. The Enneagram will not help us develop desirable qualities. Only the Bible and the Holy Spirit at work in us can do that.

3) ITS USE IN CHRISTIANITY: Many people say that the Enneagram has merit beyond it’s occult philosophy and purpose. Christians have praised the Enneagram as a tool to help us better understand ourselves and to better understand and offer compassion to others. But can we really use the Enneagram without dabbling in its new age creation and purpose? And if we could, does its purpose in Christian circles have any merit? The answer is a resounding no.

First, identifying your Enneagram number and exploring the meaning behind it is like identifying yourself by your Zodiac sign. It is no different. Everything about it is rooted in the occult. We will never grow in true knowledge of God or ourselves with a tool that God would call an abomination (Deuteronomy 7 and 18, Galatians 5, Jeremiah 17).

And secondly, even if we could separate it from its occult origin, it offers nothing helpful in our walk with Christ. I found it interesting that many so-called christian proponents of the Enneagram use a quote from Calvin as support for their argument. But the quote they use (“Without knowledge of self, there is no knowledge of God”) is simply a heading taken from one of his books. His conclusion under that heading says “Thus, our feeling of ignorance, vanity, want, weakness, in short, depravity and corruption, reminds us that in the Lord, and none but He, dwell the true light of wisdom, solid virtue, exuberant goodness. We are accordingly urged by our own evil things to consider the good things of God; and, indeed, we cannot aspire to Him in earnest until we have begun to be displeased with ourselves.” I have a feeling they left that part out on purpose.

The Enneagram is focused completely on self. It’s a tool of self-discovery in its most basic form. But we don’t need a tool for self-discovery that inflates our ego and makes us feel better about ourselves. We only need the Bible that instead leads us on the only true path of self-discovery, a path that shows us our sinfulness and our need for a Savior. We are already naturally obsessed with ourselves. The last thing we need is another teaching or tool that focuses on US. The Bible never says to learn about ourselves. It simply says to deny ourselves and grow in our knowledge of HIM.

You don’t the Enneagram, my friends.
You just need your Bible.

 

 

Preparing the Lemmings

Since the beginning of time, man has assumed that the world came into being through a Creator. This is across all cultures and lands, where you will find variations on biblical accounts (such as creation, the fall of man, and Noah and the flood).

While man has always had a rebellious heart and worked hard to remove the accountability of man to that Creator (through religions such as Deism), it wasn’t until the late 1700s that someone came up with the idea to just remove a Creator altogether. From that point on, various men put forth this idea, but it wasn’t until the late 1800s that the theory of evolution caught on through a man named Charles Darwin.

Now we find ourselves in a place where if we don’t believe in this ridiculous theory, we are viewed as unintellectual and even stupid.

Never mind that it goes against all natural laws and is absolutely impossible. Never mind that it takes more faith to believe that than to believe in a Creator. Never mind all those things. Just believe what we tell you. Or we will shame you and and ruin your reputation.

Sound familiar?

Fast forward over a hundred and fifty years. This has happened over and over again with so many different things, hasn’t it? Both within the church and without. They have convinced us that therapy and medication is our only hope for inner peace. That the new age practices of yoga and mindfulness will help us. We are told that it is normal for women to work outside the home and to lead in our churches. “They” have been prying our fingers from the Word of God and its literal interpretation for many years now.

Scientists, psychologists, specialists, professors, doctors, authors, preachers, and celebrities all wield a particular kind of power that is actually kind of strange and more than a little scary. We have been fully prepared to listen to any specialist or scientist rather than God. To believe what they tell us over what God’s Word tells us. And when they are all saying the same thing, it can become overwhelming in its wrongness.

And now many of these “professionals” are telling us that certain things work and certain things don’t. To follow certain paths and avoid others. Even though it is clear from the statistics and data that they are LYING.

And so here’s a reminder:

Truth is not determined by how many people believe it.

Read that again.

A million “professionals” can declare, publish, and affirm a lie while a handful hold to the verified truth. Who is right and who is wrong in this scenario?

More than a few years ago now, I read the story of John G Paton and his missionary adventures in the New Hebrides Islands (what is now known as Vanuatu). In it, he told the story of how he sat in his house with his family one night with native warriors all around. For some reason, they never attacked them. He was puzzled until, some years later, one of those warriors explained. When they came to kill the family, they had seen large men in white standing guard. Angels had protected that family.

Fast forward to a few months ago. I had remembered this story (it’s a memorable and comforting story!) but just couldn’t remember where I had read it. So I decided to do an internet search to see if I could find it. One of the articles that came up was a Snopes article “fact-checking” this event from the 1800s and declaring it false.

Dear readers, fact-checkers are not always right. And, I dare say, are often wrong. These are being used as a tool to sway and move the lemmings in a certain direction. There is a method to the madness of all that is going on right now.

And, once again, may I remind you that this is from both sides. Beware of both sides. Don’t align with either. Both are evil. The great reset side and the great awakening side are full of deception and lies.

The world is calling its lemmings to pick a side. Do you know what a lemming is? It’s a small rodent that has a long-standing myth that surrounds it: They will jump off a cliff en masse and commit suicide. How about that??

But we aren’t lemmings. We are people. And we have a Good Shepherd (John 10). Instead of looking to the “professionals” for our beliefs, we look to what the Word says. Instead of basing our lives (and the many decisions we are called to make) on internet posts and books and podcasts, we base them on the Bible. Instead of picking a side, we firmly plant our feet on God’s side.

We are the people of God and we are but pilgrims passing through. The waves of darkness and apostasy that are overtaking the world should not ruffle us as much as they do. (But, if we are honest, many of us are quite ruffled. We are nervous and upset and worried when we stop long enough to think about the future. Particularly, if we aren’t getting strength every day from the Word.)

So there are a few things we can do to keep ourselves from joining the lemmings. To set ourselves apart from the crowd. But we need to ask ourselves: Am I willing to do this? It’s not an easy route to take, to be sure. It’s a difficult and rocky path. But it is worth it and it is what we are called to do.

1. Read and study your Bible. I know I say this so often, but the reading and study of the Word by a humble and obedient soul cannot be over-emphasized. You see, as you read, many of the lies we have been fed about this world fall away as we recognize the Truth and the consistency of that Truth throughout the entire Book. It’s an amazing and incredible Book.

I heard a statistic the other day: 97% of people who call themselves a Christian have never read the entire Bible through. Are you one of those people? If you are, may I encourage you to make a change today? (Personally, I waited far, far too long to make this change and it is one of my biggest regrets in life.) We are powerless and vulnerable without God’s Word. It is what He has given us to live a victorious Christian life.

2. Value and search for the truth, no matter the cost. Ask God to show you the truth about what is going on in this world, no matter the consequences. One of the reasons so many people shy away from the truth is because it costs too much. It hurts too much. It’s often so much more pleasant to believe a lie. But we can’t expect to know the truth if we aren’t willing to pay the cost.

Humanity has always loved lies. From the Garden of Eden to this present day, we are so much more prone to listen to a pleasant lie than an unpleasant truth. And God even tells us in His Word about this, where He explains that the ungodly exchange the Truth of God for the lie (Romans 1:25).

But, as believers, this should not be so! We should be earnestly searching for the truth in all situations. We should be facing the world with open eyes and ears, willing to hear even the hardest of truths. Christians can face these hard truths because they have a secure future in Christ. No matter what happens in this world, we are safe from eternal harm.

3. Stop caring about popularity. Oh, how powerful peer pressure is. You can see the lemmings lining up to do as they are told because they want people to like them. They don’t want to stand out as different. They don’t want to make a scene. They don’t want others to think they are uncaring or mean-spirited. They want to be accepted and loved. As we are told that there are certain actions we must take in order to receive acceptance, love, and to look like we are a “nice person”, many cave to the pressure. But it’s important that we fully evaluate any decision before we bow to that pressure. Is this what is best or is this simply what is going to keep us from standing out as odd?

4. Expect to be ridiculed. As you make choices that go in direct contrast with the world, expect to be hated. The world has never liked the guy swimming upstream in a downstream world. They have never liked the guy who chooses the narrow, difficult path, instead of joining the throng on the easy, wide road. As you make choices that go against the crowd, these things will come.

Sometimes they come from a very sad and disheartening direction and family relationships are strained and friends are lost. Sometimes even Christian ones. These may be the price to pay if we search out the truth and follow it whole-heartedly.

 

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As we strive to live in this crazy insane world, may we choose to remember our identity: We are the people of God. We are not the lemmings of the world that can be swayed and moved any which way. As we see the lemmings prepared for the antichrist system, may we believers keep ourselves separate and apart, just as we are told to do in God’s Word (Romans 12:2).

 

 

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.

 

 

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