Posted in grace, hope, prophecy, revelation, sin, wrath

"Be saved today"…what are we actually saved from?

I love it when preachers, teachers, theologians talk about the Wrath of God. I do love the wrath of God because it is part of Him and His holy and perfect attributes. I do not love that people will undergo the suffering of His wrath due to the penalty of their sins. The wrath is a serious, serious thing.

I love it when preachers, teachers and theologians speak of the wrath because many others of them who are supposed to teach the full counsel of God do not. I know of churches where a pastor might go into a long, involved altar call, pleading with folks to come forward as music softly plays, and yet never mention wrath, sin, death, or hell. This is not the full counsel of God. Here, Bob DeWaay explains what the full counsel of God actually is.

As I have had people explain it to me: “people don’t go to church to feel worse about themselves.” So, it is deemed irrelevant to discuss the sin nature, and relevant to help people feel better about themselves. What about the glory of God? Are we to hear a powerful, Biblical presentation of God’s glory, His holy nature, our fallen condition, and the necessity of a blood atonement to appease the wrath of God (Romans 3:25)? Again, these matters are not likely to be deemed relevant to many.

Before my own conversion, I heard people say things like ‘the lost need to be saved’. I did not understand what “lost” meant. I joked that those dumb Christians were always going on about being lost but I knew exactly where I was. Har har har. And as for “saved? I had no clue what the threat was that we needed saving from. Yet this is exactly the reason why we should not dilute or on any way water down the message Jesus gave to us, His ambassadors. Ambassadors in real political jobs must convey the message from their superiors exactly as stated. It is not up to the Ambassador to change the message. (2 Corinthians 5:20). We are only witnesses and messengers, and the message has been set. It includes the “unpalatable” doctrines of sin, death, hell, and wrath. There is nothing that keeps wicked men, at any one moment, out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God. ~Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”.

The fact is, God’s wrath is the threat. And it is very real. Here are some theological thoughts from J.A. Milliken, and E.E. Carpenter, on what God’s wrath is and why we need saving from it.


Used to express several emotions, including anger, indignation, vexation, grief, bitterness, and fury. It is the emotional response to perceived wrong and injustice. Both humans and God express wrath. When used of God, wrath refers to His absolute opposition to sin and evil. When used of humans, however, wrath is one of those evils that is to be avoided.

The OT speaks very frequently of both God’s wrath and human wrath, but the wrath or anger of God is mentioned three times more often than human wrath. There are some 20 different Hebrew words, used approximately 580 times, that refer to God’s wrath in the OT.

the wrath or anger of God is mentioned three times more often than human wrath.

… These anthropopathic terms must not be construed in such a way as to attribute to God the irrational passion we find so frequently in man and which is ascribed to pagan deities. They do, on the other hand, point to the reality and severity of God’s wrath in the OT (Isa. 63:1–6). God’s wrath is not capricious but is always a moral and ethical reaction to sin. Sometimes that sin may be spoken of in general terms (Job 21:20; Jer. 21:12; Ezek. 24:13) and at other times specified as the shedding of blood (Ezek. 8:18; 24:8), adultery (Ezek. 23:25), violence (Ezek. 8:18), covetousness (Jer. 6:11), revenge (Ezek. 25:17), affliction of widows and orphans (Exod. 22:22), taking brethren captive (2 Chron. 28:11–27), and especially idolatry (Ps. 78:56–66). The means by which God expressed His wrath was always some created agency: His angels, His people the Israelites, Gentile nations, and the forces of nature.

God’s wrath is not capricious but is always a moral and ethical reaction to sin. 

In the prophetic books the wrath of God is commonly presented as a future judgment. It is usually associated with the concept of “the day of the LORD” (Zeph. 1:14–15), or simply “that day.” That day will be a great and terrible day, a day of darkness and gloominess, day of the vengeance of God (Joel 2:2, 11; Isa. 63:4). While some of these prophetic utterances may have referred to the judgment of God in history, their ultimate fulfillment will come in a final act by which the world and its inhabitants will give account to God (cp. the NT use of the “day of the Lord,” 1 Thess. 5:1–9; 2 Pet. 3:10).

The wrath of God is not mentioned as frequently in the New Testament nor is there the richness of vocabulary that is found in the OT. There are only two primary NT terms for wrath: thumos and orge. Both are used to express a human passion and a divine attribute or action. When used of human passion, wrath is repeatedly named in lists of sins that are to be avoided, and if not, may incite God’s wrath (Eph. 4:31; 5:6; Col. 3:8; Titus 1:7).

Some have seen a distinction in meaning in these synonyms, the difference being that thumos expresses a sudden outburst of anger whereas orge emphasizes more deliberateness. There may be an intentional difference in occasional uses of the terms, but this does not prevent both terms from being condemned as vices when applied to human passion. In addition, both terms are used to describe the character of God, particularly in the book of Revelation.

There is great emphasis in the NT placed on the wrath of God as a future judgment. John the Baptist began his ministry by announcing the wrath of God that is to come, from which men should flee (Matt. 3:8). Jesus, likewise, pronounced a wrath that is to come upon Israel and produce great distress (Luke 21:23). Paul speaks of a day of wrath to come that awaits some, but from which believers are to be delivered (Rom. 2:5; Eph. 2:3; 1 Thess. 2:10). The idea of a future wrath of God is unfolded on a large scale in Revelation. It is described in very graphic terms, as cataclysmic upheavals in the universe (Rev. 6:12–17), “the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty” (Rev. 19:15 HCSB), and “the cup of His anger” (Rev. 14:10).

John the Baptist began his ministry by announcing the wrath of God that is to come, from which men should flee

In the NT the wrath of God is not only a future judgment, it is a present reality. It does not merely await people at the future judgment. Jesus stated that the wrath of God abides on unbelievers, and consequently they stand presently condemned (John 3:18, 36). For Paul, God’s wrath is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men (Rom. 1:18), all people in their natural state are “children under wrath” (Eph. 2:3 HCSB).

Theological Considerations: The doctrine of the wrath of God is unpopular in much modern theological discourse. Some deny that there is ever anger with God. Others think of God’s wrath as an impersonal moral cause-and-effect process that results in unpleasant consequences for evil acts. Still others view God’s wrath as His anger against sin but not the sinner.

God’s wrath is real, severe, and personal. The idea that God is not angry with sinners belongs neither to the OT nor to the NT. God is a personal moral being who is unalterably opposed to evil and takes personal actions against it. Wrath is the punitive righteousness of God by which He maintains His moral order, which demands justice and retribution for injustice.

God’s wrath is real, severe, and personal.

Moreover, God’s wrath is inextricably related to the doctrine of salvation. If there is no wrath, there is no salvation. If God does not take action against sinners, there is no danger from which sinners are to be saved. The good news of the gospel is that sinners who justly deserve the wrath of God may be delivered from it. Through the atoning death of Christ, God is propitiated and His anger is turned away from all those who receive Christ (Rom. 3:24–25). Therefore, those who have faith in Christ’s blood are no longer appointed to wrath but are delivered from it and appointed “to obtain salvation” (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9).

SOURCE: Millikin, J. A. (2003). Wrath, Wrath of God. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (pp. 1688–1689). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

What do the wrath and salvation have to do with each other?

“Wrath” is a strong term, reserved in the English language almost exclusively for describing “God’s anger” with human beings and their sinful actions. The Greek word orgē expresses the idea of “justifiable anger for unjust actions.” It is used throughout the New Testament to describe God’s anger toward the sins and unbelief of humanity.

The Old Testament and the New Testament both teach that God is storing up His anger for the great and final day of judgment. This day is frequently called the Day of the Lord. The concept of the Day of the Lord was developed by the prophets to warn Israel and the nations that no one can escape the righteous outpouring of God’s wrath (Amos 5:18–20). This day was still spoken about by the New Testament prophets, John the Baptist and John the visionary (Matt. 3:7; Rev. 6:16–17).

Those who do not profess faith in the risen Christ remain in their sins and will be subject to God’s wrath, whereas those who believe in Him are delivered (Eph. 2:3; 1 Thess. 1:10). The good news of the New Testament is that Jesus has come to deliver us from the wrath of God (Rom. 5:9). Those who have been delivered are reconciled with God because they are no longer under condemnation (Rom. 5:10; 8:1).

Those who do not profess faith in the risen Christ remain in their sins and will be subject to God’s wrath, whereas those who believe in Him are delivered

God’s wrath will be poured out on the devil, his angels, and all who rebel against Him. This is graphically portrayed in the book of Revelation, as we see scene after scene of God executing judgment on the ungodly. God’s stored-up wrath will be unleashed in awful ways, as He brings destruction on: the earth, those dwelling on the earth, the merchants of the earth, false religions, the antichrist, and all the enemies of the gospel. Ultimately, God’s wrath will be satisfied when He has put the devil, his angels, and all unbelievers in the lake of fire, to be tormented for eternity in eternal separation from God (Rev. 14:10; 20:10–15).

SOURCE: Carpenter, E. E., & Comfort, P. W. (2000). In Holman treasury of key Bible words: 200 Greek and 200 Hebrew words defined and explained (p. 427). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Do we have hope to escape the wrath, then?

Here is how Jonathan Edwards concluded his masterpiece sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has flung the door of mercy wide open, and stands in the door calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking to him, and pressing into the kingdom of God; many are daily coming from the east, west, north and south; many that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in, are in now an happy state, with their hearts filled with love to him that has loved them and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God.


Posted in annise parker, hope, houston, mayor, persecution, sermons

Lesbian mayor of Houston demands Houston pastors’ sermons

In this piece of news,

61st Mayor of Houston,
Assumed office 1/2/2010. Wikipedia.

City of Houston demands pastors turn over sermons

The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court.

The subpoenas are just the latest twist in an ongoing saga over the Houston’s new non-discrimination ordinance. The law, among other things, would allow men to use the ladies room and vice versa. The city council approved the law in June.

The Houston Chronicle reported opponents of the ordinance launched a petition drive that generated more than 50,000 signatures – far more than the 17,269 needed to put a referendum on the ballot.

However, the city threw out the petition in August over alleged irregularities. After opponents of the bathroom bill filed a lawsuit the city’s attorneys responded by issuing the subpoenas against the pastors. Mayor Parker will not explain why she wants to inspect the sermons. I contacted City Hall for a comment and received a terse reply from the mayor’s director of communications. “We don’t comment on litigation,” said Janice Evans.

Among those slapped with a subpoena is Steve Riggle, the senior pastor of Grace Community Church. He was ordered to produce all speeches and sermons related to Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality and gender identity. The mega-church pastor was also ordered to hand over “all communications with members of your congregation” regarding the non-discrimination law.

[Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said] This is the moment I wrote about in my book, “God Less America.” I predicted that the government would one day try to silence American pastors. I warned that under the guise of “tolerance and diversity” elected officials would attempt to deconstruct religious liberty. Sadly, that day arrived sooner than even I expected

We know that the way that society is going here in America that this day would arrive. I believe we have all seen a dramatic acceleration in soft hostility against Western Christianity in just the last few years. That the State would begin to bully Christians in a harder persecution would not be long in coming. I personally believe this act from the Houston Mayor is a kind of bridge step in going from soft pressure to hard persecution.

Russell Moore, speaking on behalf of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote yesterday,

Houston, We Have a Constitution

Reports coming out of Houston today indicate that city attorneys have issued subpoenas to pastors who have been vocal in opposition to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), a measure which deals with gender identity and sexuality in public accommodations. The subpoenas, issued to several pastors, seek “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”

I am simply stunned by the sheer audacity of this.

The preaching of sermons in the pulpits of churches is of no concern to any government bureaucrat at all. This country settled, a long time ago, with a First Amendment that the government would not supervise, license, or bully religious institutions. That right wasn’t handed out by the government, as a kind of temporary restraining order. It was recognition of a self-evident truth.

The churches, and pastors, of Houston ought to respond to this sort of government order with the same kind of defiance the Apostle Paul showed the magistrates in Philippi…

MORE AT LINK, please read. It is good and it’s not long.

Dr Steve Riggle

Dr. Steve Riggle of Grace Community Church of Houston was mentioned by name in the article. Here is Dr Riggle speaking two years ago of the need for pastors to be the moral, prophetic voice in their communities and about the reason pastors need to continue speaking of these cultural issues. The excerpt below is from the 6-minute clip below:

If I don’t speak up for the people at Grace, then who are they listening to? Because what other voice is out there? And the voices that they’re being inundated by all around them are not the voices of righteousness nor are of a stance that adheres to biblical fidelity. It’s imperative for me because I’m trying to to shape their worldview in a biblical sense. If I don’t speak out on issues like homosexuality – what the bible really says – in a way where why God said ‘no’ is seasoned with mercy and grace for the person, but not countenancing the sin, then how do they know that? Because who else is going to say it? … We raise up authentic followers of Christ who walk in righteousness and see themselves as salt in the culture. And to do that, they have to have a solid biblical foundation.

He speaks on the need for pastors to stand with each other. In seminary, regardless of the degree level a seminarian is at, the legal complexities are not taught, Riggle said. It can be overwhelming for a shepherd to be confronted with legal complexities and legal pressure from the worldly culture.

He also speaks of the difference between pastors who respond to their work as a calling and pastors who see their job as a vocation. Pastors who are in a calling will do anything to further the cause. The difference is that one is a leader and another is not. One will speak up and the other will not.

In an interesting turnabout, two years ago during an earlier contretemps with Dr Riggle, Mayor Parker said,

“…it’s her duty “to uphold the state Constitution and the U.S. Constitution. I swore an oath to that. I take that oath very seriously, but I have my First Amendment rights to free speech. We all have the right to do that and I’m sorry that they [Riggle and his supporters] don’t understand the Constitution. I’m going to continue to follow my oath of office, lead the city well but speak out on issues that I care about.”

It might be wise for Ms Parker to remember that freedom of speech to promote ‘issues that she cares about’ goes both ways in this Constitution she cited two years ago when it suited her.

Pastors need prayer. Even if the Houston Mayor backs down, this shot across the bow has opened the Pandora’s Box for all manner of evil to come flying out. Once the demand has been made, it cannot be unmade. Other towns and cities will follow suit in Houston’s precedent, and quickly too. One of those times, the demand will stick. Pastors, are you prepared to go to jail? THE QUESTION IS NOT RHETORICAL in the US any longer!

However, in the mythological Pandora’s Box, when all the other evil had flooded the world after being released, what remained behind? Hope. In real life, not myths, Jesus tells us that we always have His hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

He IS hope. He gives us His hope AND His power so that we may overflow in it. In John 16:32 Jesus said the hour was coming when all will scatter and He will be left alone. He concluded by saying,

Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.

The Father is with us all. Unite in prayer and like-mindedness so that the Houston pastors are emboldened, energized by the Spirit as they abound in hope. The Houston Mayor is not the enemy. We all have a common enemy and he is satan. But this enemy has already been defeated. Let’s pray for the Mayor, her cohorts, as we should be praying for our leaders. And always remember that against the Father, who can stand?


Further reading

Joel Osteen gives blessing prayer at Annise Parker’s Inauguration

Posted in encouragement, hope, spurgeon

True hope: leave all thy concerns in the hand of a gracious God

The Graphics Fairy Free Vintage Art

I don’t know why this happens, but sometimes at night there is a refrain of a song rolling around in my head. Each time I awaken momentarily, it plays. Over and over. It isn’t necessarily a song I’ve heard recently either, and it’s not always a Christian song.

Last night it was Paul Simon’s “Mother and Child Reunion”. The refrain was

“But I would not give you false hope, on this strange and mournful day…”

I got to thinking about how fortunate I am to know REAL hope. There is no false hope, when one knows THE Hope, Jesus Christ. I will never again be plagued by false hope.

Before I was saved, I always had false hope. That was because I was either hoping for the wrong things, or I was looking for a ‘savior’ to hope in.

Now knowing Christ, I have true hope. It will never fail. It is sure. Jesus said He would never give us false hope, there was no lie in His mouth! We already benefit from the firstfruits of this Hope, for Jesus rose from the dead. Now, Jesus makes us alive when we were dead in our sins. I am alive, a part of the Living Hope, because of Jesus. We have hope of His power over sin.

Since God raised Jesus from the dead, our resurrection after bodily death is also sure. We have hope in His power over death. Charles Spurgeon’s Morning Devotional speaks to everlasting hope: (true hope!)

Pixabay: Public Domain
Charles Spurgeon
Hope on, hope ever:

“Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.”—1 Peter 5:7.

It is a happy way of soothing sorrow when we can feel—”HE careth for me.” Christian! do not dishonour religion by always wearing a brow of care; come, cast your burden upon your Lord. You are staggering beneath a weight which your Father would not feel. What seems to you a crushing burden, would be to Him but as the small dust of the balance. Nothing is so sweet as to

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.” (Ps 62:5, ESV)

O child of suffering, be thou patient; God has not passed thee over in His providence. He who is the feeder of sparrows, will also furnish you with what you need. Sit not down in despair; hope on, hope ever. Take up the arms of faith against a sea of trouble, and your opposition shall yet end your distresses.

There is One who careth for you. His eye is fixed on you, His heart beats with pity for your woe, and his hand omnipotent shall yet bring you the needed help. The darkest cloud shall scatter itself in showers of mercy. The blackest gloom shall give place to the morning. He, if thou art one of His family, will bind up thy wounds, and heal thy broken heart.

Doubt not His grace because of thy tribulation, but believe that He loveth thee as much in seasons of trouble as in times of happiness. What a serene and quiet life might you lead if you would leave providing to the God of providence! With a little oil in the cruse, and a handful of meal in the barrel, Elijah outlived the famine, and you will do the same.

If God cares for you, why need you care too? Can you trust Him for your soul, and not for your body? He has never refused to bear your burdens, He has never fainted under their weight. Come, then, soul! have done with fretful care, and leave all thy concerns in the hand of a gracious God.

Posted in a city upon a hill, boston, hope, missionaries, new england

Mission New England, the city on a hill where the light has (almost) gone out

A church in Gray Maine. EPrata photo

New England is comprised of 6 states: Maine, New Hampshire Vermont (northern New England) and Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut (southern New England). Five, and sometimes all six of these states are listed in surveys in the top ten most Godless states in the US.

Providence RI is listed as one of the ‘least bible-minded‘ cities in the US. This is ironic, given its name.

Portland Maine is known as one of the most homosexual friendly and tolerant cities in the US.

Spiritually, New England is dark. I know. I lived there for 42 years. For those who were saved by grace at an early age, or were raised in a Christian home or even live in the south or Midwest … perhaps this next statement will seem strange to you. But growing up in New England means that one can never go to church, never see anyone else go to church, never hear talk of church, never hear the name Jesus, never see a bible store or a Christian store. Never see a cross. As embedded as the visible Christian life is in the south, it is just as invisible in the north.

One of the oldest church buildings and the biggest, located in the most prominent place, the center of my old town, has no displayed cross outside. The Methodist Church and the Congregational Church staff female lead pastors. There is no bible store in town (no book store at all, as least as far as I know). Jesus doesn’t live in most of the people there and thus He isn’t seen in the culture.

New England needs missionaries. To that end, NETS is a church planting mission aimed at New England. Does it seem strange to you that New England is as dark as Norway? Or India? They write,

The New England landscape is dotted with white steeples and picturesque churches. But

North Yarmouth church. EPrata photo

look closer, and you’ll find pulpits that once held gospel preachers like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield now proclaiming Universalism, Liberalism and postmodernism. Halls that once echoed classic hymns stand eerily silent behind “For Sale” signs. Many church buildings have already been converted into shops and condos. And influential colleges like Harvard, Yale and Brown, founded to train gospel preachers, now lead the way into spiritual darkness. With the exception of Mormon Utah, New England is the most gospel-parched region of the nation.

Portland is one of the toughest regions to be on mission with the gospel: Some 59% of residents are considered “post-Christian.” … As shown by this homosexual publication reports that Portland, Maine is one of the top five surprisingly gay towns.

Portland Maine is on our gaydar Home to one of the biggest per capita LGBT populations on the east coast and now host of the entirely enticing Frostbite ME weekend (early March, dates TBA), a LGBT winter celebration with an alluring array of homo hijinks, activities, and events that launched in 2008, Portland is Maine’s captivating largest city (population 65,000). Portland has a venerable gay bar, Blackstones, and Styxx Video Club (3 Spring Street), where the dance floor and pool tables are popular with women on Thursdays and Saturdays.

The Portland Press Herald reported, “Maine a mecca for gay couples; Experts attribute the numbers to the state’s gay-friendly laws and its history of tolerance.”

A long-dead New England church that is now an antique store

This is the very spot in the world where European men and women of faith left all they knew to travel to a new and dangerous world, in pursuit of freedom to worship Jesus. They stepped off the Mayflower in 1620 Plymouth Massachusetts, survived, thrived, founded cities, and seminaries. Harvard College was originally a seminary institution of higher learning for men to be trained in the Gospel. So was Yale and Princeton and most other New England higher learning institutes that were founded over 300 years ago.

Harvard’s crest stated Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae (Truth for Christ and the Church) and their charter proposal read thus:

After God had carried us safe to New England and we had builded our houses, provided necessaries for our livelihood, reared convenient places for God’s worship, and settled the civil government: One of the next things we longed for and looked after was to advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches, when our present ministers shall lie in the dust.

And so a mere 6 years after landing in Plymouth, the Puritans founded Harvard College in 1636.

And so satan went to work.

In 1803 Harvard voted out the Calvinist President and voted in an anti-Trinitarian president. In 1869 Harvard dropped the “Christ and Church” from their motto and crest, leaving only “Veritas”, (Truth). Cementing the long, liberal decline, Harvard expanded their mission statement in 2008,

To help in building a world in which people can live and work together across religious and cultural divides, we strive to be a primary resource in religious and theological studies for the academy, for religious communities, and in the public sphere…. 


A well-educated student of religion must have a deep and broad understanding of more than a single religious tradition; [emphasis mine]

Bangor (Maine) Theological Seminary is 200 years old and liberal as liberal can be. It was not always so. Like Harvard, it was founded by a conservative Calvinist minister in the Puritan tradition. Rev. Jonathan Fisher of Blue Hill Maine was concerned that there was no institute of Christian higher learning in northern New England. Then, ‘Harvard defected, and so had many other clergymen and churches.’ (source). BTS was founded. Though it started out well, it ended up committed to scholarship, just not biblical scholarship. They adhered to ecumenical learning and the ever-deadly free thought. Another New England seminary had fallen. This month, conservative New England Bible College in Maine closed its doors, for lack of enrollments. The people of New England, its churches and its seminaries reject Jesus.

John Winthrop was the long term original governor of Boston, the first city of Massachusetts Bay Colony after Plymouth. He preached to the Puritans as they emigrated that theirs was a holy endeavor and they would found a holy “city upon a hill”. This was his famous “Modell of Christian Charity” sermon. Winthrop wrote it aboard the ship Arbella, (I edited the language from 1630 to today’s)

Winthrop: 2nd, 6th, 9th, & 12th Governor
of the Massachusetts Bay Colony

We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when he shall make us a praise and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, “the Lord make it likely that of New England.” For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill.”

The city upon a hill was from Matthew 5:14. Winthrop was so right in his next paragraph-

The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world.

Because Jesus IS hope … rather than lament the loss of our original Christian identity, one pastor in New England (a friend of mine) wrote this week an encouraging message. The decline we are seeing, the degradation of the name of Jesus in the wider community, is nothing new. It is nothing unexpected. Knowing this, we can persevere in joy and hope! He wisely wrote:


As many families and church families struggle to meet their financial obligations amid an uncertain economy and an increasing global conflict, major changes are affecting everyone. Some folks may even sense a spirit of discouragement or worse, despair. Some folks simply dismiss what is happening in our world, as they are tired of all the bad news. Hmmm, it reminds me of the times Habakkuk lived.

God told the prophet, Habakkuk, that Israel’s worst and most fearsome enemy was coming to destroy the nation and carry off many people into captivity because of Israel’s idolatry and sinfulness. While Habakkuk wrestled with God on this issue, the prophet came to understanding that “the just shall live by faith” (2:4). As a result, Habakkuk accepted the inevitable judgment of God upon Israel by offering up praise to God.

As I close this email with the prophet’s words (3:17-19), remember, that no matter how difficult the times may get for our lives, our families, our church families, and our nation, God will be your strength as you walk with Him.

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet, I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s
he makes me tread on my high places.


Oh Puritan New England, what happened? Satan happened!

The great preacher George Whitefield preached about satan’s schemes.

But Satan is most known for his remarkable ability to use his cleverness against mankind. Since he is not given power from God to take us by force, he is therefore required to wait for opportunities to betray us, and to catch us by the use of deception. He, therefore, made use of the serpent, which was the most crafty of all the beasts of the field, in order to tempt our first parents; and accordingly he and his accomplices are described in the New Testament as being cunning and crafty in their deceitful scheming. In the words of our text, this morning, the Apostle says, “We are not unaware of his schemes:” thereby implying, that we are more in danger of being seduced by his system of deception, than overpowered by his strength.

The people of New England throughout the recent centuries were overpowered by stealth. Little by deadly little, they succumbed. Satan entered into their minds, and led them away from the pure doctrines of the bible. They were not vigilant! Satan seduced them into installing women pastors. He slithered in to its seminaries and lured them into ecumenicalism. He is the angel of craft and subtlety. No guns were needed. No swords were drawn. The battle has been long, and it has been silent, but it has been a success. They forgot Jesus. Veritas. But no Christo.

But Jesus does not forget them! He raises up faithful pastors to staff solidly biblical churches there! He sends missionaries to plant churches in its frigid mountains where hearts need the light of God! He sustains the beleaguered congregations persevering in a place that is as corrupt as Corinth! God is good. Our High Priest, Jesus, ministers to the hearts of those who love Him, few as they may be in that northern place.

Pray for our stalwart missionaries, pastors, and brethren who dwell in a place where once the lamp was shining on a hill, but now shines only dimly in laboring flickers here and there.

No matter where we are in the world, spiritual decline is inevitable. Fear not! The world hates Jesus. (John 15:18). No matter what the type of beginning a nation had, high or low, sacred or profane, all will fall. All parts of all nations will fall. Satan is working mightily to try and overthrow heaven’s gates. The areas we hold dear, where we grew up, or where we live now, will some day be renewed! Every Christian who dwells in the places that are so dark now, will cry with joy when the Light comes. Jesus will revive every ember, bursting into glory light of pure and holy truth.

Until then, pray for New England.


Further Reading:

US History: Massachusetts Bay Colony, the City upon a Hill

John Winthrop: A Model of Christian Charity

The First Baptist Church in America: in Providence RI (1638)

Posted in hope, jesus, prophecy, revelation

Has your church shut the door to Jesus?

To the Church at Laodicea:

Rather than allowing for the common interpretation of Christ knocking at a person’s heart, the context demands that Christ was seeking to enter this church that bore His name but lacked a single true believer. This poignant letter was His knocking. If one member would recognize his spiritual bankruptcy and respond in saving faith, He would enter the church.” ~John MacArthur commentary

This was Jesus’ letter to the Lukewarm church. Looking around at churches today, is it SO hard to believe that an entire ‘church’ could lack one believer? Not really. True believers are so much rarer than we think.

Though millions call themselves Christian, the actual number is quite small. We’d have to erase most Catholics from the group, and most Eastern Orthodox, and many Charismatics, and all cults that call themselves Christian, including Mormons.

Here Jesus uses the word many to remind us of the fate of the unsaved:

Jesus said, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’’” (Matthew 7:22-23).

Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.” (Matthew 7:13)

In both those verses, the word for many in Greek is polloi. It means a “multitude, numerous, great in amount.” So, no, it isn’t hard to believe that churches could be full and there be not a believer among them. After all, on the day of judgment for the Cities of the Plain, among the bustling cities of Admah, Zeboiim, Sodom, and Gomorrah, there were found only three true believers.

We read the following from 2 Timothy 4:4, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,”

We usually envision that verse as one which the teacher has accumulated the people, as an Osteen or a Joyce Meyer has accumulated. But the verse depicts the reverse: the people will heap up false teachers to themselves. What people? People calling themselves Christian but lacking discernment, or even true faith, they will follow the false ones who bring a pleasing but Gospel-less message. The Greek word for ‘heap up” [teachers] means “to obtain a multitude of.”

When Jesus said He will destroy the cities Abraham asked Jesus if, for the sake of 50 righteous, would the Lord destroy the city? For the sake of Lot and any believers, Abraham contended for them with Jesus. Abraham dwindled the number down and down until he got to ten:

Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.” (Genesis 18:32-33)

The Lord is gracious and merciful! And again, we see in the Revelation verse, if there be one inside the church, the Lord will come in and sup with him and he with Him.

Many inside the church are lost!

AW Tozer said in his devotional,

So skilled is error at imitating truth, that the two are constantly being mistaken for each another. It takes a sharp eye these days to know which brother is Cain and which is Abel.

So what is to be done? Here is what we can do in these waning days:

1. Do not automatically assume that every church member or teacher who calls themselves Christian actually are. (1 Peter 4:17).

 2. Give the benefit of the doubt, certainly, but also test what they say, watch for fruit, and exhort for holy living. (1 Peter 1:16). This is important for two reasons. First of course is the Lord’s glory. Second, when one exhorts for holy living, the holy will appreciate it. The lost will be flushed out, because they will react badly.

3. Pray, pray, pray ceaselessly. Pray for your brethren inside your own local church. Pray for your local church; for protection, clarity and wisdom for the leaders, for discernment for the members. The Spirit gives discernment. (1 Corinthians 2:14). Therefore pray to Him for the wisdom we need in these terrible days. (Psalm 119:125).

4. Pray for the global body. Appeal to Jesus on behalf of the brethren who are in places where apostasy is likely or present. (1 Corinthians 12:12–14; more here)

5. Pray for yourself, for all of the above; wisdom, clarity, discernment, protection. (James 1:5; Proverbs 2:6, Psalm 5:11)

6. Repent often so that your purity is of the highest levels. (Matthew 3:8).

How utterly tragic that in some congregations all or most believers are so devoid of Spirit that Jesus is outside the church! It makes it all the more joyous to anticipate glorious, perfect worship in true, righteous unity in heaven!

1 Thessalonians 4:14–18

“For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

John 14:2–3

In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.


Further reading

What does the bible say about heaven?

Spurgeon, Faith’s Checkbook, “It Will Not Be Long”

“Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” (James 5:8)

Spurgeon: “The last word in the Canticle of love is, “Make haste, my beloved,” and among the last words of the Apocalypse we read, “The Spirit and the Bride say, Come”; to which the heavenly Bridegroom answers, “Surely I come quickly.” Love longs for the glorious appearing of the Lord and enjoys this sweet promise – “The coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” This stays our minds as to the future. We look out with hope through this window.”

“This sacred “window of agate” lets in a flood of light upon the present and puts us into fine condition for immediate work or suffering. Are we tired? Then the nearness of our joy whispers patience. Are we growing weary because we do not see the harvest of our seed-sowing? Again this glorious truth cries to us, “Be patient.” Do our multiplied temptations cause us in the least to waver? Then the assurance that before long the Lord will be here preaches to us from this text, “Stablish your hearts.” Be firm, be stable, be constant, “stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” Soon will you hear the silver trumpet which announces the coming of your King. Be not in the least afraid. Hold the fort, for He is coming; yea, He may appear this very day.”

Posted in days of Noah, evil, hope, jesus, prophecy

Days of Noah = Which headlines are real and which were April Fool prank?

Matthew 24:37 says,

For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”

The days of Noah were when men were continually wicked and the thoughts of their hearts were only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5). It was an almost 100% saturated depraved era. Worse, though the people had a century of direct warnings of coming judgment from Noah, they were preoccupied only with the mundane things of life, such as marrying and given in marriage, eating and drinking. Jesus is saying in the days of His second global judgment, it will be of the same conditions as when Noah, a man of righteousness, preached. (2 Peter 2:5).

With that in mind, let’s look at the following headlines and sub-heds. Which is the true headline and which was the April’s Fool prank?

#1. Teenager Will Lose His Virginity in a Live Performance at Art Gallery. Clayton David Pettet, a 19-year-old from Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, has announced he will lose his virginity in a live performance at an art gallery on April 2, 2014 at The Orange Dot in London. Pettet reportedly plans to have sex with an anonymous male partner.

#2. Hulu’s new original series, “In the Kitchen with Hannibal” Feast your eyes on dishes that are to die for in this new cooking show from Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

#3. “The View’ hosts go nude. Jenny McCarthy and Sherri Shepherd shed their tops on The View to a live audience . Concluding the innocent frolic, McCarthy thanked everyone and said, “Have a great day everyone and take a little time to enjoy ‘our View,’” pointing to her breasts. Then she seemingly reached over and grabbed Shepherd’s breast.

#4. ‘Pastor G,’ Indicted on Child Sex Charges, to Speak at Richmond Church on Good Friday. Geronimo “Pastor G” Aguilar, the former head pastor of the Richmond Outreach Center who has been indicted on multiple counts, including aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14, is one of seven religious leaders scheduled to speak at Cedar Street Baptist Church of God on Good Friday.

Answer below



It’s kind of hard to tell, isn’t it? The days are so evil, that any of them could be true, or all. Only #2 is false. The rest are true! Hulu’s prank of a new original series featuring cooking by a well-known albeit fictional cannibal. But it sounds like it could be true, doesn’t it? And Number 1, 3 and 4 are true. These things happened.

I didn’t have to search far nor wide to find these headlines either. In my opinion, they represent a culture’s remaining worst of sins that are actually called sins. These represent the last taboos a culture holds on to before caving in entirely to ‘anything goes’. Homosexuality, cannibalism, child molestation, sexual depravity and immodesty/whoredom in women.

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

Paul knew what tribulation was, and as he advised the Romans, let us also take heed of his advice–

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)

And what is our Hope? JESUS. He overcame the world. He nailed every sin to the cross, including homosexuality, voyeurism, child molestation, perversion, cannibalism, whoredom. As long as it is the Age of Grace, each one of the people performing the sins and watching the sins and applauding heartily (Romans 1:18-32) can be saved through faith in Jesus and repentance! He exhibits that much grace and has that much patience. As for us, we wait to be released from the presence of sin

As AW Pink wrote in “A Fourfold Salvation

Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Rom. 13:11)—not our salvation from the pleasure, the penalty, or the power of sin, but from its very presence. “For our citizenship is in heaven: from whence we also look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20). Yes, it is the “Saviour” we await, for it is at His return that the whole election of grace shall enter into their full salvation; as it is written, “Unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Heb. 9:28).”

So… we wait. “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” (Psalm 39:7)

Posted in God, hope

The God of Hope

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
(Romans 15:13)

You know, the times are so bad so many places, we all just need to remember the HOPE. Not just any hope, “THE Hope.” All of God’s promises and works poured into and poured through the Amen, Jesus Christ. Look at the Romans verse, Paul used hope twice. Once to describe God as the God of Hope and once to pray we abound in hope.

Octavius Winslow wrote in 1870, “The present title of God, the “God of hope,” is peculiarly expressive and endearing to the believing mind. His title as the God of love, has especially to do with our present. His title, as the “God of hope,” has to do with our future life. … Extinguish hope in the human heart, and you have enthroned grim despair, like a demon of darkness, upon the soul. Life has lost its sweetness, the creature its attraction, the world its charm, and all the future of the soul is shrouded in midnight gloom. My reader, are your circumstances trying? are your resources lessening? are clouds gathering? and do you find yourself tempted to succumb to despondency and despair? There is hope for you in God! All other sources and gleams of hope may have expired, but God is the “God of hope,” and in His power and love, in His word and faithfulness, you may hope, even against hope. Take heart, then, and look up.

This verse earlier in the book of Romans, chapter 8:24-25, made me smile: Paul was saying we eagerly await our adoption as sons of God, the redemption of our bodies, and-

For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

With incredible logic the Spirit formed the thought into Paul’s mind and with impeccable recall Paul wrote the wonderful truism, ‘who hopes for what he sees?’ Matthew Henry lived in the 1600s, he wrote of this verse,

The sufferings of the saints strike no deeper than the things of time, last no longer than the present time, are light afflictions, and but for a moment. How vastly different are the sentence of the word and the sentiment of the world, concerning the sufferings of this present time!”

“Yet this deplorable state of the creation is in hope. God will deliver it from thus being held in

bondage to man’s depravity. The miseries of the human race, through their own and each other’s wickedness, declare that the world is not always to continue as it is. Our having received the first-fruits of the Spirit, quickens our desires, encourages our hopes, and raises our expectations.”

“Believers have been brought into a state of safety; but their comfort consists rather in hope than in enjoyment. From this hope they cannot be turned by the vain expectation of finding satisfaction in the things of time and sense. We need patience, our way is rough and long; but He that shall come, will come, though he seems to tarry.

We have hope because He is the God of Hope!

Posted in hope, jeremiah, weeping prophet

Read Jeremiah for a good dose of reality, and then rejoice!

I’m reading Jeremiah 4 and 5 now. The verses in those chapters were spoken by God to Jeremiah to preach to the people of Israel. It was an actual prophesying and an actual call to repentance and the things predicted actually happened. So it is not good to allegorize them nor to spiritualize them. At the same time, there are lessons in the book to take away because human nature doesn’t change, not unless they have the Spirit to transform them. Like this:

“They have spoken falsely of the LORD and have said, ‘He will do nothing; no disaster will come upon us, nor shall we see sword or famine. The prophets will become wind; the word is not in them. Thus shall it be done to them!” (Jeremiah 5:12-13)

Matthew Henry’s Commentary says of the verses from 10-18, including the ones I excerpted above:

Multitudes are ruined by believing that God will not be so strict as his word says he will; by this artifice Satan undid mankind. Sinners are not willing to own any thing to be God’s word, that tends to part them from, or to disquiet them in, their sins. Mocking and misusing the Lord’s messengers, filled the measure of their iniquity. God can bring trouble upon us from places and causes very remote. He has mercy in store for his people, therefore will set bounds to this desolating judgment. Let us not overlook the nevertheless, ver. 18. This is the Lord’s covenant with Israel. He thereby proclaims his holiness, and his utter displeasure against sin while sparing the sinner, Ps 89:30-35.

Don’t we hear that same sentiment today that the Lord will do nothing. “God is love. He would never send anyone to hell!” Our preachers have become wind, the word is not in them. Think of the prediction of Peter. Peter warned us and told us to remember the prophets of old and to heed the warnings of the apostles:

“that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:2-4)

Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 4:18,

“Your ways and your deeds have brought this upon you. This is your doom, and it is bitter; it has reached your very heart.”

God is love, but He is holy. Evil is not HIS way. It is our way and our deed that have brought this upon ourselves. It is bitter and it is hard. Still, the LORD reaches out to His people.

“I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not pay attention.’” (Jeremiah 6:17)

And like Jeremiah, we see all that is done under the sun in the name of the Lord, and we ask,

“Righteous are you, O Lord, when I complain to you; yet I would plead my case before you. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive? You plant them, and they take root; they grow and produce fruit; you are near in their mouth and far from their heart.” (Jeremiah 12:1-2).

Isn’t that the way today? I know many of you grieve because of the falsity you see and have to endure near and far. You see as well as I do so many Christians today who are near to Jesus with their mouth but are far from Him in their heart. It grieves us all, though I dare to say no one more than Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. But his tears are our tears, too. We love the Lord and long for the day when holy righteousness is on the land for His sake. When His name will not longer be besmirched by them or by us!

The LORD longs for that day too. And He rejoices.

Even during His incarnation when Jesus endured agonies of sin and saw so many sheep lost on the hill, bleating for a Shepherd (Matthew 9:36), even as he approached the most painful, difficult moment the universe had ever seen or will ever see, Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit for the Father’s plan!

Jesus sent out the 72 and when the 72 came back,

“In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.” (Luke 10:21)

If Jesus rejoiced in the Father’s plan, even though the time was dark and sin abounded, so shall we! What is there to rejoice about, you ask? As they rejoice in heaven over one sinner who repents, so shall we!

“Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10)

We rejoice in His creation, in His city, and in His people!

“But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness.” (Isaiah 65:18)

And as Jesus told the 72 who returned from their tasks amazed at the power of the name of the Lord, Jesus said, do not marvel that the demons were subject to them, but

“but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20).

There is much to rejoice about, even as we weep.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)

As Matthew Henry says of the Romans verse, “He is honoured by our hope and trust in him, especially when we rejoice in that hope.”

Hope and trust in Him, even as the world is ripening for judgment. Rejoice that this is His plan, His way, and His will. As for our weeping prophet, Jeremiah’s tears have been wiped away by the God whom he served, (Revelation 21:4) and yours will too some day! Jeremiah is now forever rejoicing in heaven. We will meet him at the gathering of the saints. Until then, let us heed the legacy he left behind; Godly tears, seeking the holy I AM, and clinging to the hope Messiah has delivered.

Posted in Carnival cruise ship, hope, tribulation, triumph ship

Cruise Ship Carnival Triumph disaster: think of it as a metaphor for the Tribulation

There was a Carnival Cruise ship that was disabled by a fire and floated powerless and helpless for five days, stranding over 4,200 passengers and crew before it was finally towed into port.

I was always leery of embarking on a cruise. If anything happened, and increasingly things do, you have nowhere to go and are at the mercy of the limits and boundaries of the ship. There is no escape.

I feel for the passengers, who really did undergo a terrible situation for days on end. Illness, unsanitary conditions, lack of water, stench, and hunger were the order of the day. Here are some of the snippets from one news story about the passengers’ eventual safe disembarkation–

Passengers cheer escape from horrible cruise
“The vacation ship carrying some 4,200 people docked late Thursday in Mobile after a painfully slow approach that took most of the day. Passengers raucously cheered after days of what they described as overflowing toilets, food shortages and foul odors. Many were tired and didn’t want to talk. There were long lines to check into rooms. Some got emotional as they described the deplorable conditions of the ship. “It was horrible, just horrible” said Maria Hernandez, 28, of Angleton, Texas, tears welling in her eyes as she talked about waking up to smoke in her lower-level room Sunday and the days of heat and stench to follow. She was on a “girls trip” with friends. She said the group hauled mattresses to upper-level decks to escape the heat. As she pulled her luggage into the hotel, a flashlight around her neck, she managed a smile and even a giggle when asked to show her red “poo-poo bag” – distributed by the cruise line for collecting human waste.”

“The lower floors had it the worst, the floors ‘squish’ when you walk and lots of the lower rooms have flooding from above floors,” Hill wrote. “Half the bachelorette party was on two; the smell down there literally chokes you and hurts your eyes.” She said “there’s poop and urine all along the floor. The floor is flooded with sewer water … and we had to poop in bags.” The company disputed the accounts of passengers who described the ship as filthy…

I well know the desperation of saving for years to go on a big vacation, the desperate hope that the weather will cooperate, the jealous countdown of the few days on the vacation compared to the towering number of days at work. (350 vs 15). I cannot imagine the heartbreak of honeymooners, anniversary couples, and families that were impacted by conditions that were described. But I want to take a moment’s pause to explore two thoughts.

These are First World problems. So a few bachelorettes had to poop in a bag for a few days. Some of women on a “girls’ trip” went without access to clean water for a few days. (A girls’ trip is an extra in life, ladies.) They were a little bit hungry for a few days, and a little bit cold. They lived with a few days’ uncertainty as to when their horrific situation will ever end.

There are billions of people all over the world who live that way for a lifetime.

Ghetto in Porto Alegro, Brazil

Foraging in a Tijuana dump for recyclables to sell, and for lunch

Children playing in their neighborhood, Cairo

Greeks fighting for free tomatoes and leeks thrown from a truck

Darlene Rosas, 66, lives alone in a condemned FEMA trailer 40 miles outside of Eagle Butte, S.D. (Source)

No, those are First World problems, the frustration of a person’s thousands of dollars lost on a one-week vacation turned icky. Let’s put this into perspective.

Secondly, think of the cruise ship as a microcosm of the earth. Look at the time of their misery as the time of the Tribulation. What happens when the infrastructure we depend on and take for granted suddenly breaks down? How do we react? Toilets, sewer treatment plants, trash pickup, roads for smooth transportation, government subsidized public transport, regular deliveries of groceries to stores … all infrastructure and all privileges we take as our due. Somehow we think that access to food, water, sanitary conditions, and proper functioning of everything will always be so. If anything, the successive weather events of late have shown us how easily all that can and is disrupted. Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the Joplin tornadoes in 2011, the Super-blizzard of 2013 show that large swathes of the nation can suddenly be floating powerless and helpless, with millions of people bemoaning their (hopefully) temporary situation.

What would a regular person in the US do when sanitary conditions, food, and freedom of movement are suddenly gone? There were two responses on the Carnival Triumph ship. One was that many turned to sin. It didn’t take long, just a few days, before they resorted to savagery and fighting to get food.

“Conditions on board a cruise ship stranded in the Gulf of Mexico have deteriorated dramatically, reportedly leaving passengers fighting over food and the vessel caked in urine and raw sewage. Passengers on board the US cruise ship Carnival Triumph, which has been stranded since Sunday after an engine fire, are using mobile phones to convey tales of carpets soaked in urine and passengers sleeping in tents on deck. Food supplies are said to be running low, with passengers forced to queue for hours for cold onion and cucumber sandwiches, and there are also reports of fights breaking out as groups of “savages” fight over the dwindling supplies.”

Other reports indicated that the people complained, slept for escape, fought, and were “crying and freaking out.”

Others did the opposite. They formed a Bible study group.

Joseph and Cecilia Alvarez of San Antonio said some passengers passed the time by forming a Bible study group. “It was awesome,” he said. “It lifted up our souls and gave us hope that we would get back.” (source)

Still envisioning the cruise ship as earth, and the total breakdown of everything on that ship as the coming Tribulation, some cruise ship passengers decided to think of others and of Jesus rather than their temporary earthly conditions. This is the second response. While some were moaning and crying and sleeping and fighting, others during the Tribulation delved into their faith in Jesus and patiently endured the trials that were set before them. Their faith lifted up their souls and give then hope that they will get back home. (Revelation 14:12).

Below is a Lyle Ratliff/Reuters photo, and the caption says “Passengers cheer after disembarking from the Carnival Triumph cruise ship after reaching the port of Mobile, Alabama, February 14, 2013.” Taking a moment to stretch the metaphor of the stranded cruise ship being a crippled earth during the Tribulation, these two ladies, covered in robes of righteousness, praise the Lord for their release from sinful and deteriorating conditions. OK, not really. But it’s nice to imagine.

If you are alive and unsaved during the time of the rapture, you will enter a time where conditions such as described on the cruise ship will erupt, and in fact be a million times worse. You will have two responses: retreat further into your sin, or turn to Jesus for release from bondage to that sin. You will not escape the conditions, unless you die, which is a severe likelihood. But you will have hope and your soul will be uplifted. You will see that grace abounds, that He is eternal and your conditions are temporary.

However, you can escape all these things in the first place by turning to Jesus now. Once you repent of your sins and He becomes the Lord of your life, He sends the Holy Spirit to indwell you. You gain a perspective that whatever conditions you are enduring now are merely inconveniences that will end at the rapture. At that time you will receive your glorified body and live in eternal grace and perfection with Jesus.

The earth is like the Carnival Triumph, a floating petri dish of putrefaction and decay, people stuck there with no hope of getting away from the worsening conditions. Except in real life, there is hope: Jesus. That’s why we need to tell the passengers on this ship of earth that the savior is coming and the ship will be saved. There is a way off, away from polluted hallways and hopeless people. He is coming to deal with sin and sinners, and to renew the earth. (2 Peter 3:10), Revelation 21:1). The way is to repent of sins and look to Jesus for all things. He is coming soon. Though the passengers on the Triumph ship took four hours to get off, the rapture will be a moment, a blink and we are gone, changed forever.

“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53)

Christians, in troublous times, turn to the bible. Turn to where there is hope and comfort. Start a bible study. Discuss the hope and joy of Jesus with like-minded people. You will feel better. Non-Christians, and I mean all other people including atheists, Catholics, pagans, Buddhists, Mormons…, turn to Jesus as your hope. The fear and darkness you feel inside is the lack of HIM in you. Salvation does not guarantee a resolution to your uncomfortable or unwanted conditions. If you are paralyzed, you will still be paralyzed. If you have MS, you will still have MS. If you are poor in Cairo, you will likely still be poor in Cairo. What salvation affords you, in addition to grace and rescue from the coming wrath, (Romans 5:9), is an eternal perspective that helps you cope with current conditions. You receive comfort from God as to His love and watchful notice of you, His little sparrow. You gain an understanding that a few years or decades of discomfort in this life does to equate to the billions and billions and billions of ages in eternity with the Perfect. (1 Corinthians 13:10).

Today is the day of your salvation. Now is the eternal hope come to dwell in you! To the unsaved the Spirit says:

For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2)

But I pray to you, O LORD, in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation. (Psalm 69:13)

To the saved the Spirit says:

Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. (Revelation 3:10)

Posted in hope, jesus, Mayans

2012 is almost here- you can mourn the Mayan prophecy or have Hope in Him

Doesn’t that seem strange to you? With all the hype for so long about the Mayan prophecy of the world ending on December 21, 2012, now this portentous year is actually here. In 2009 I wrote about the Maya mania. I’d said it was pretty ridiculous. In fact, the world according to the Mayans does not end. In part, I’d said,

“Their daily calendar was of 260 days but their “long count” or b’ak’tun calendar toted up long periods of time, from a mythological starting point equivalent to August 11, 3114 BC. “Misinterpretation of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar is the basis for a New Age belief that a cataclysm will take place on December 21, 2012. December 20, 2012 is simply the last day of the 13th b’ak’tun. But that is not the end of the Long Count because the 14th through 20th b’ak’tuns are still to come.” Their long count calendar went through cycles, and cycles end. 12 previous cycles have ended without incident. One such cycle is slated to end on December 21, 2012, but the news is that a new cycle begins immediately. According to the Mayans, the world does not end.”

The more ridiculous thing is putting stock in any prophecy besides the ones Jesus gives us. THOSE are 100% accurate, guaranteed, all the time.

It’s weird, I remember watching a documentary about the Mayan prophecy of the world ending when I was in my late teens or early 20s. So this would be somewhere between 1978 and 1985. It wasn’t Leonard Nimoy’s documentary, I found that online and watched it. No, I distinctly remember the last scene of this program. The program had been expounding on the Baktun long count and the end of the world. At that time, the ‘prophecy’ was decades away, but the documentary made it sound ominous. The final scene was of a Mayan elder, dressed in headdress and loin cloth. He was standing with his back to a dense jungle foliage, looking at the camera, which was across a narrow but deep ravine. A hemp rope bridge separated the Elder from the camera, and the viewer. He said a few short words in his language, and then looked mournfully at the camera. He slowly turned, and parted the jungle leaves, and entered in. The camera remained focused on the spot he had been standing until the leaves ceased shaking. The narrator said something like, “The world will end. Will we listen…?”

I wasn’t saved then so I didn’t know about Jesus. But it was the first time I gave deep thought to the fact that this planet might indeed not go on as it has always been. I did not begin “saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:4). I am a science fiction fan, having watched my share of movies and read many books by Gene Roddenberry, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and the like…and I’d seen or read my share of planets blowing up. But this was the first time I thought about my planet blowing up. Hmmm.

The Lord draws us to Him. (John 6:44). I believe He does this all our lives, until we make a decision one way or the other, or until our fleshly desires become so pervasive that He gives us over to them and hardens our heart. (Psalm 81:12,  Acts 7:39-42, Romans 1:24). All along now I see, there were little forks in the road, at which I mulled, and each time I responded to His drawing. When I was ten, my Aunt told me about the rapture and the people coming out of the graves and lifted up with those who were living to meet Jesus in the air. That picture stayed with me, the people popping out of the graves. I responded as a kid, drawn to the more gory part, but also responded through my soul, and began wondering about life after death. In my twenties, this Mayan documentary made me wonder about the world ending. In my thirties I traveled the world and saw the complexity and fragility of the creation and began wondering about a Creator.

Mark 4:1-9 is the Parable of the Sower who sowed seed in different kinds of ground and the seed’s response to it. I think as long as we keep the door of our hearts open, He continues sowing. He sees who responds because He is the only one who can see the heart.

Will the world end as the Mayans say on December 21 2012? Only Jesus knows. He did say that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10). But the world will be remade and become a new heaven and a new earth (Rev 21:1, Isaiah 65:17).

My prayer for you is that your heart is the good ground  that the Sower sows the Gospel seeds upon. That you heed the warnings of the Christ and not the Maya, that the world WILL end one day, at His timing, but those of us in Christ will be forever with Him. It is not a fearful, mournful thing, but a hopeful one. The Greatest Hope of all! 2012 begins, and I wait. “And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.” (Psalms 39:7)