Monthly Archives: December 2008
December 31, 2008
Man, what a year we are closing out in just a few hours! It’s almost mind-boggling when one quickly reflects on these past twelve months. To visit just a few:
◆ World stock markets dropping some 50% in value.
◆ America’s rapidly declining status as a super power.
◆ Russia’s continuing rebirth as a world power and its ever increasing alliance with the Ezekiel 38 countries, such as Iran (Persia) and Libya.
◆ Iran’s advancement in becoming a nuclear power (Remember, this is the country that’s promised to wipe Israel off the map.)
◆ World oil prices fluctuating some $100 per barrel.
◆ More failed attempts in the peace process in the middle east.
◆ America’s continued moral decline.
You get the picture….
And what’s in store for the coming year? In my humble opinion, 2009 does not appear to be any kind of improvement. The potential flash points are all in place. In fact, I’ve never seen a time marked by so much activity related to Bible prophecy.
To name just a few:
◆ The threat of a major terrorist attack (nuclear or biological)
◆ The social impact of the worldwide economic meltdown
◆ The drive towards the establishment of the global government
◆ Russia’s (King of the North) continued strengthening of the Ezekiel 38 alliance
◆ America’s continued economic and moral decline and its dramatic political shift to the left
◆ Israel being threatened by several of her neighbors
◆ Predictions of more severe and increasing natural disasters
Once again, you get the picture…
While all of these issues are scary and foreboding, the two that are in the forefront of my mind right this moment are the economic meltdown and Israel.
First, the meltdown: some of you, I’m sure, have heard of Glen Beck. He’s a talk show host on CNN and is soon moving over to Fox News. Mr. Beck’s belief system is Mormonism, so we don’t share any of the pre-mellenial, pre-trib, end -time views. However, Mr. Beck’s thoughts on current conditions are profound.
He believes, as do many of us, that the changes proposed by the incoming Obama administration, combined with the national and international economic meltdown, sets up something of an apocalyptic future for the planet should things continue in the same direction.
Beck was one of the few public voices that predicted (in 1999) that if Osama Bin Laden wasn’t captured or killed, New York City skyscrapers would soon have dead bodies in them. We know, of course, what happened on 09/11/01.
Mr. Beck (and I’m paraphrasing) is talking about what he sees for this nation in the near future. He says that America is on a track that is taking it at a phenomenal speed toward the darkest hours of its history. He said further that he believes that by this time next year, America will be unrecognizable as she has been known.
He also said that it would not come incrementally. That is, things would not simply get worse morally and economically until the point is reached that the world is irretrievably lost. He said that he believed that the country and the world would experience a great cataclysmic event that would be greater than the attacks of 9-11. (I’m inferring that he was talking along the lines of the geo-political, not the supernatural.)
He then said he believed that the event would happen suddenly, and forever change the world for the worse. And I quote him, “In the blink of an eye.” Wow!! This is the same phrase the Apostle Paul used some 2000 years ago when the Lord comes for His church (I Corinthians 15:52).
In another “upbeat” report — last month, trends forecaster Gerard Celente, the man who predicted the 1987 stock market crash and the fall of the Soviet Union, told Fox News that America will morph into the first “undeveloped” nation of the world by 2012. He said there will be a tax revolution marked by food riots, squatter rebellion, tax revolts and job marches. Mr. Celente, the CEO of Trends Research Institute, is renowned for his accuracy in predicting future world and economic events. He says that we are entering a period which will be much worse than the Great Depression.
Are you excited yet?
Now, on to Israel. As 2008 comes to a close, she is involved in the bloodiest warfare with the Palestinians in more than twenty years. But the fighting in Gaza is a minor taste of what we could be seeing in the coming new year of 2009, Israel faces far greater danger from three other fronts. In addition to the operations in Gaza, she must also deal with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, Syria bordering the Golan, and regional neighbor, Iran.
Of all these, Iran is the Jewish state’s top concern. As we know, Tehran is working feverishly to complete its nuclear program. Given that its leadership has sworn to destroy Israel, there is painfully little time to stop Iran from firing an atomic bomb.
Added to this, Barak Obama is famously on record for wanting to negotiate with Iran’s leadership as a way to defuse the threat. Obama’s desire for talks has many prophecy watchers wondering if Israel will act before Obama takes office.
Something will soon have to be done to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear capability. Simply put, Israel cannot and will not allow this to happen. In their minds, negotiation only buys the radical regime more time.
With so much going on, you would think that prophecy minded believers would be very busy getting ready for the Lord’s return. But it seems the opposite is happening. Most seem to be doing nothing! It seems ironic that apathy abounds. But Jesus said that it would be a major sign of the times. Matthew 24:44 says, “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (NKJV)
Right now it seems like everyone is just hanging around waiting for something big to happen. We might soon see a major calamity. Because the rapture could be the next event of God’s timetable. I would hate to have it occur while I was doing nothing.
Remember, there is no guarantee that Christians will be able to stand by as passive spectators. If our Lord tarries, hardship could be ahead as the current economic recession turns into a depression. As the world becomes more wicked, we may also find our religious freedoms soon coming under much more pressure.
So rather than just hanging out and waiting to see what happens, we Christians have the opportunity to take an active role in hastening our Lord’s return. Jesus Christ specifically told us to pray for this, “In this manner, therefore, pray: ‘Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come.Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.’ ” Matthew 6:9-10 (NKJV)
2000 years has passed and all the signs point to the nearness of the last days. God is still in control of the prophetic time clock and He will listen to the voices of His children if we join together and call on Him.
We all need to cry out in prayer to “Hasten the coming of the Day of God.” 2 Peter 3:12 (NKJV)
I ask every brother and sister that’s reading this to spend some time praying for our Lord’s soon return. At this late hour, the breaking point for the blessed hope may require just a few more Christians to say, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus”. (Revelation 22:20)
Until next time,
December 23, 2008
The other morning my wife and I were glancing through the mail when she asked me what Bible “The Voice” was. I said I didn’t know, so we read the fine print. It was listed in a Christian Supply store flyer. It turns out to be a New Testament translation utilizing some of the leading voices of the emergent church, and its target audience is “twenty somethings” and others.
Immediately the alarm bells go off! Who are the emergent church voices and what theology do they subscribe to?
According to Wikipedia, the emerging church (sometimes referred to as the emergent movement) is a Christian movement of the late 20th and early 21st century that crosses a number of theological boundaries. What those involved mostly agree upon is that they are disillusioned with the organized and institutional church and support the deconstruction of modern Christian worship, modern evangelism and the nature of modern Christian community.
They are looking for new and innovative ways to worship, and among other things, occasionally incorporate mysticism. Also, while many evangelicals emphasize eternal salvation, most in the emerging church emphasis the here and now, and the need to create a kingdom of Heaven on Earth.
Additionally, here are some specific doctrinal issues they take exception to:
· Emphasizing the letter of Paul while ignoring the Gospels of Jesus.
· Condemning homosexuality and abortion.
· The Bible as absolute.
· Traditional translations of the Bible vs. more modern versions dealing with the issues of our day.
Let’s stop here and address some of this stuff. First of all, the emergent church’s emphasis on the here and now to create Heaven on Earth is nothing new. It’s just another form of the amillenial/post-millenial doctrine of the social gospel. The driving force behind the introduction of the social gospel was the eschatological, or end times, views of those involved. Nearly all were amillenial or post-millenial. The former believe that they are living in a symbolic 1000 year time period in which Christ was ruling from Heaven, satan was bound, and they are God’s workers appointed to bring about a kingdom on earth worthy of Christ. Post-millenialists also believed they were in the millenium, and their goal was to restore the earth to its Eden-like state in order for Christ to return from Heaven to rule over His earthly kingdom. Amazing!! What translation are they reading?!!
This shameful social gospel not only promotes “another gospel”, it helps prepare a kingdom contrary to the teachings of scripture. Philippians 3:20 says, “For our citizenship is in Heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…..” He will return from Heaven (John 14:3) to “rapture”, or catch, those who believe in Him (His bride) up into the clouds and take them to Heaven (I Thesselonians 4:17). The kingdom that remains on the earth will be the kingdom of the anti-Christ until the Lord’s triumphant return and subsequent 1000 year reign (Revelation 20).
Also consistent with its amellenial/post-millenial beginnings, the efforts of the emerging or social gospel are earthbound in their attempted restoration of the Kingdom of God.
Eugene Peterson has infiltrated that heresy into his “Message Bible”, “God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.” (A perversion of John 3:17).
Bob Bell, in his book, Velvet Elvis, reflects the “fix the earth” eschatology of nearly all emergent church leaders. “Salvation is the entire universe being brought back into harmony with its maker. This has huge implications for how people present the message of Jesus. Yes, Jesus can come into our hearts. But we can join a movement that is wide and as big as the universe itself. Rocks and trees and birds and swamps and ecosystems. God’s desire is to restore all of it….the goal isn’t escaping this world, but making this world the kind of place God can come to. And God is re-making us into the kind of people who can do this kind of work.”
Where do they get this stuff?! It certainly is NOT consistent with the teachings of Jesus.
Now, let’s touch on a few of the other issues they take exception to:
Concerning the letters of Paul – Most social/emergent folks don’t like them because of their clarity toward issues that are being debated today. (Marriage, sexuality, etc.) I remember a time back in the 70’s when I had a discussion with a Lutheran pastor about how literal we should look at scripture. His comment, which I’ve never forgotten, was that “Many of Paul’s teachings are outdated today. We need to move into more modern teaching.” Blasphemy!! (And this was thirty years ago!!) My response simply was, “Where do you draw the line? What guidelines do we use when picking and choosing?” No answer is necessary.
In dealing with homosexuality and abortion – I know these two issues are front-and-center constantly, but they have become the leading topics of division in the church today. As for the emergents, they support gay marriage and the homosexual lifestyle. In an article just released in the December 15th Newsweek Magazine, the author(s) do their best to justify gay marriage through the use of scripture.
Let me quote you one small excerpt.
“The Bible does condemn gay male sex in a handful of passages. Twice Leviticus refers to sex between men as an “abomination” (KJV), but these are throw-away lines in a a peculiar text given over to codes for living in the ancient Jewish world.” It goes on to say, “Our modern understanding of the world has surpassed its prescriptions.”
Can you imagine? I can only refer to 2 Timothy 4:3-4, “For a time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (NIV)
In wrapping up in this article, except for the “obscure” passages in Leviticus, no other specific scripture is mentioned. Somehow they missed Romans 1:26-27 and Jude 7, just to name a few, that specifically point to the sin of homosexuality. I mourn for these folks and need to pray for them.
I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Simply put, the emerging church movement of today is distorting and/or altering the very words that we Christians hold as divinely inspired. Let’s look at 1 John 2:24. It says, “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.”(NIV)
In closing, I just want to say that some parts of scripture are difficult for me because they go against my sinful nature. But that doesn’t give me the right to change or alter it to fit my lifestyle. Can you imagine? “The Bible According to Red”? Heaven forbid!!!
I know that many out there think of folks like me as an “old wineskin”, and at my age I even qualify as a “dear one”. No matter! I will not, nor will I stand by quietly and watch our Lord’s purposes being distorted by anyone. I pray that each of you also will hold on to the truths of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Until next time,
December 8, 2008
So what lies ahead for the church of Jesus Christ? This is a question of great concern to believers all over the world. As world conditions worsen everywhere, many are wondering, “Is the Holy Spirit going to revive the church before Jesus’ return? Will the Lord’s Body leave this world with a whimper, or a shout?”
The New Testament is jam-packed with predictions of many falling away in the last days. Matthew 7:15 says that many false prophets will come like wolves in sheep’s clothing, bringing powerful false teaching that deceive, if possible, even the elect of God. (Matthew 24:24). Wickedness will abound, causing once-hot believers to lose their first love. Matthew 24:12 says, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.”
Jesus prophesied these very things. As overwhelming sin and iniquity floods the earth, He asks, “When the son of man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)
If we stop and think about it for a moment, we realize that Jesus knew everything we would be witnessing today — from horrifying terrorist attacks, to the rise of militant homosexuality, to millions of lives being taken by abortionists, and on and on. And in the midst of all this He asks if we will continue to believe. Though things grow worse? Will we lose our confidence when things don’t go as we thought they would? Or — will we continue to trust in Him?
Remember that Jesus knows all about terrorist threats, and wars and rumors of wars. His word warns that the heathen will rage (Acts 4:25 KJV). He knows that secular powers will grow stronger and try to outlaw His church.
The Bible says this about it all; “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His annointed, saying, ‘Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us.'” (Psalm 2:2-3 NKJV). In short, they want to cast away all moral standards and very foundations of which the Church was built upon.
What does God say about these earthly powers and demon influenced people? “He who sits in the Heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. (Psalm 2:4 NKJV) No matter how bad it looks, everything remains under God’s control.
Let’s thank God for His word from the Psalms. More and more we hear reports about secularism wiping out the church in Europe, of Islam being the fastest growing religions in the world, of homosexuals overtaking or splitting entire denominations, of Christ’s church growing so weak it no longer has any impact on society. Yet, in Matthew 16:18 God’s word says, “On Christ the Rock God will build His church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” Remember this! Nothing from the depths of Hell can hope to destroy Christ’s church. His eye is always on His flock and through everything He warns Satan not to touch His bride. Isaiah 54:15 says, “Indeed they shall surely assemble, but not because of me. Whoever assembles against you shall fall for your sake.”
See what God says here? He says that the enemy will come against us, but He will NOT succeed!
For a time, God will allow the devil to play his vile games, but it won’t have any impact on God’s last-day plan for His people. Glory to the Lord, His church cannot and will not be destroyed!
We do see in these trying times the church suffering from the onslaught of the enemy. So much so in some cases that it has created a separation from God.
Where do we see this separation today? I see it most obviously in compromised mainline churches. All the unauthorized changes over these past 2,000 years have all but destroyed the original foundations of which Christ’s church was built upon. But also I see it in the soft pedaled gospel of Post Modern churches (seeker friendly, etc.).
It is evident that there has been a separation from God’s manifest presence. It has happened just as Jesus and Paul prophesied: many have become lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God…having a form of religion with no power….despising the gospel of their fathers….tearing down old moral landmarks….changing God’s infallible Word to suit the times… (Reference 2 Timothy 3:1-5 and 4:3-4.)
I challenge any and all of you to go to any city, from church to church of every evangelical persuasion — try to find one where you recognize the awesome presence of Jesus, where you encounter His heart-melting connection. When the Lord is truly present, you recognize it, whether in the singing, the preaching, or the fellowship. Something stirs your soul, and it produces an awe and reverence. In my experience, this is rarely found.
So what can we do about it? To start with, we need to stop being part of the problem and start rejoicing in the knowledge of our Lord’s constant and unwavering love. We need to stop “going through the motions”. We need to stop being lukewarm and become, as Pastor Dave Benson says, “hot coals’. If enough of us do this, it will make a difference in our Lord’s church. It’s the least we can do. After all, Christ died for it.
Quoting David Wilkerson, “The nails that pierced Jesus’ hands and feet were fashioned on the devil’s anvil. The sword that pierced His side was forged in that smith shop of Hell. But the blood that poured forth from His body has never lost its power.”
In closing, we know that tough times are upon us and will continue to increase for a time as like birth pains (Matthew 24). But let’s remember what Jesus said in Luke 21:28, “When these things come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads: for your redemption draweth nigh.”
Brothers and sisters, the day is coming when the whole world will see Jesus! The apostle John envisioned “A great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindred, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying ‘Salvation to our God which sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.’ (Revelation 7:9-10)
Until next time,