Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

What are we all good at?

By Elizabeth Prata

(Podcast link below)

Sinning. Every human on the planet, no matter his or her age, is good at sinning. Hands down. Me included.

EPrata photo

Look at this example from scripture.

Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it. (Matthew 23:16-21).

What this section of scripture is about is Jesus pronouncing woes upon the Pharisees. The Pharisees were one of the two ruling classes in Israel, the Sadducees being the other. The Pharisees had twisted the faith into something unrecognizable, laying incredible burdens down on the people, (like over 600 laws!) failing to minister to sinners, making sons of hell twice as worse as they were, and being total hypocrites. When Jesus pronounced His many woes upon them, this particular set of woes involved swearing by the LORD and lying.

The Pharisees had cunningly devised a way to appear to swear by the Lord but be able to get out of it later. As Romans 1:18 says, we all know the truth but we suppress it in unrighteousness. They knew what they were doing but they were devising evil in rationalizing what they THOUGHT were clever ways to wriggle out of it.

They THOUGHT that if they swore an oath by the temple and not by the gold of the temple, they could break their oath later with no repercussions. Or swear by the altar and not the gift on the altar, or by heaven and not by the throne in heaven. As President Bill Clinton famously said when he was trying to avoid an answer, “It depends on what the meaning of is is.”

Photo Pixabay.com. cc.

Look how finely they were splitting hairs! They were dead wrong, as we read Jesus’ excoriation of their sly practices. All the hairs matter.

But you see how we as humans excel at sinning and rationalizing our sin. We’re really, really good at it. “It wasn’t that bad.” “It wasn’t a real promise.” “No one keeps promises anymore.” “I’m not gossiping, I’m sharing a prayer request.” “It wasn’t as bad as that other guy’s sin over there.” “No one saw.”

All rationalizations are simply self-justifications. And there is only One who justifies, Jesus. Our pitiful attempts to justify ourselves when we sin are just evil blasphemies and vain delusions. When we transgress God’s laws, we injure ourselves and dig ourselves deeper into the pit we will eventually fall into. (Matthew 15:14)

As I go through the day I ask Jesus to show me where I am sinning but I’m rationalizing it away. Where I am too ignorant or blind to see my own sin. I ask Him to help me sin less against Him tomorrow than I did today, by the Spirit’s conviction and strength. I am not only the Chief of Sinners, I am Queen of Rationalizations! Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I pray mine and your walk grows purer with each day and each step. Paul was so wise to pray this for his people:

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, (Ephesians 1:18).

Lord open the eyes of my heart so I may see and repent of the sins that lurk there.
All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit. (Proverbs 16:2).

Your eyes are too pure to look upon sin but my eyes are too depraved to see holiness. I need Your eyes, Lord.

Dis/Contentment in your life and how to overcome it The End Time Blog Podcast

“The Cellar of Affliction” was episode 7 in Season 1 of The MacArthur Center for Expository Preaching The Women’s Hope podcast with Dr. Shelbi Cullen and Kimberly Cummings discuss “Contentment in the Midst of Chaos“ This episode is also available as a blog post: https://the-end-time.org/2021/10/16/dis-contentment-in-your-life-and-how-to-overcome-it/
  1. Dis/Contentment in your life and how to overcome it
  2. This woman spoke volumes by not speaking
  3. ‘It’s a darkness that claws at your sanity…’
  4. Drifting…Alas, and did my Savior bleed
  5. Jesus, the High Name Over All
Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Thinking of attending an If:Gathering? Please read this, it’s eye-opening

By Elizabeth Prata

PODCAST LINK HERE

Seven years ago I wrote a series on the IF Gathering. (2014). Four years ago I did an update. (2017)

The organization reports that in 2021, there were 6,648 IF:Local events in 66 countries. Because this para-church organization is still growing so much, it’s time for another reminder in discerning love and care for women everywhere, to avoid IF:Gathering.

The IF:Gathering and its women have only embedded themselves deeper into the faith and are tainting even more women with their brand of liberal theology, shaky hermeneutics, usurping lifestyles, and their idol of social justice. After 8 years of watching this organization (since its inception in 2013) we can see by now that it is essentially a female takeover of the church as a feminist, para-church/social justice/liberal organization, where women are drawn out from under their pastoral authority of the local church, fed false notions about Jesus and about our own identity, and reinserted as thorns and weeds to infect the local church with these modernly false ideas, only to turn around and recruit more women to do the same. It’s a multiplying movement that fulfills several scriptures about how false doctrine gets into the church.

jennie1
Source and video below.

PROBLEM #1: Their premise is based on doubt.

The title “IF:Gathering” comes from their motto, “If God is real, then what?” The purpose statement on their IRS forms is to equip women by having them share their feelings about Bible passages posted online, and the by-product is to instill or institutionalize doubt. Their IRS tax form statement of purpose states:

If:Lead: equipping women to share and learn through Christ-centered discussions

IF:Austin: a two-day gathering that brought thousands of women together in Austin and at local gatherings across the globe. The gathering is a fresh, deep, honest space for a new generation of women to wrestle with the essential question: if God is real… then what?

If:Equip: a holistic, strategic, deep way to connect online with a like-hearted community and relevant resources. We hope to prepare women around the world to know God more deeply and to live out their purposes by sharing comments and feelings about daily passages posted online.

PROBLEM #2: It’s based on feelings we have, not on biblical truths revealing who Jesus is

Did you notice the ‘like-hearted‘ community? The Christian faith is not about feelings, but about what we know about Jesus. It’s supposed to be like-minded. This is an organization that calls their homes ‘spaces’, their local communities ‘contexts’, and their goal is to ‘change the world’. Its mission is to wrestle with the notion IF God is real. Using this amorphous, non-specific language helps cultivate the doubt, which is the opposite of the certainty we are supposed to preserve and promote as believers. We’re believers, not doubters. It’s Good News, not Maybe News.

The ‘gathering’ part is actually brilliant. They aim to disciple women in gatherings at homes, dorms, and other locales, sometimes churches. It’s not public, nor it is under the authority of local churches or of men. Participants know where to gather through social media, which is employed in a major way. It’s why this is a stealth approach to infect the church. Galatians 2:4 and 2 Peter 2:1 said this would happen. Yet discipleship is supposed to take place within and around the local church.

PROBLEM #3: Secretiveness

There aren’t any posters, advertisements, billboards, pamphlets that one can see. They don’t normally make known who will be speaking at the annual large Gathering ahead of time. That’s allegedly so that people don’t come for the personalities but for the fellowship and learning. But would you want to spend time and money to go to a conference without being able to vet the speakers? Or your own pastor helping you vet the speakers?

Instead, there’s texts, social media whispers, person-to-person promotion, all of it done in a way that is more subterranean than any other generation’s Christian activity (apart from the actual persecuted church.)

IF:Gatherings are ongoing in living rooms and lawns by the thousands. There are A LOT OF GATHERINGS. Look. This map is four years old and their gatherings are only increasing in number:

The idea to disciple women is a good one. However, that is an activity that the church is responsible for. These gatherings take place outside of the auspices of the local church and its pastoral authority and is based on curricula that has shaky scripture interpretations at best.

PROBLEM #4: Founded on direct revelation

The gatherings were born from the mind of a young woman named Jennie Allen. At the first Gathering, she revealed that she had heard God whisper to her, and after a few years decided to step out from her church to enact this so-called God-whispered “vision to gather, equip, and unleash women to live out God’s calling on their lives.”

“together with a team of friends, formally established IF:Gathering. … Some of the first friends to believe in her vision put aside their own individual ministries to leverage their collective influence for the glory of God and the good of His Church.” (Source, source).

So they abandoned their local ministries to go online for the good of the global church? Exactly wrong. Here is Jennie Allen claiming direct revelation from God as the catalyst for IF.

Video is here, 2 min. Scroll halfway down.

PROBLEM #5: Draws women away from local churches, the place where we’re supposed to disciple

They abandoned their ongoing locally accountable ministries, to follow a young woman who’d heard a whisper, in order to establish Bible studies about a God they doubted existed, in order to equip women to discuss feelings about the Bible, enact social justice, reconcile the world, heal the nations, and disciple a generation. Hmmm. I’m not being satirical. All that verbiage is from their own statements.

PROBLEM #6: Feminist oriented

The constant refrain in the IF material is that these women will “change the world” (source, 2022 promotion). This is why I call it a stealth feminist takeover. I’m not being hyperbolic, it’s actual, from their own vision statement

women out from local authority, changing the world based on misinterpreted Bible verses and their feelings. Not promoting Jesus of the Bible to call people to repentance and salvation.

I wonder how it works to be submitted to a local church, yet to draw away women from other churches to come to your house to discus your feelings about direct revelation, extra biblical Jesus while then returning to church to ‘take initiative.’

IF’s founders are paying lip service to the concept of local church, while the entire movement’s thrust is about taking initiative to change the world, start global movements, heal the world, etc. (SOURCE) Not to return to one’s church, submit to local leadership, and operate in our spheres, nor to find contentment in our roles as wives and moms. There is nothing local about IF:Gathering.

Conclusion- Concerns with IF:Gathering are:

Founded on Direct Revelation: Founder Jennie Allen said she heard a whisper from God telling her to start a discipleship group. (source, also see above). Direct revelation is hazardous to one’s soul. If you test a direct, audible command from God against the Bible and it’s there, you do not need the audible command. If it is not there, it’s a lie and you don’t need it anyway. That’s a paraphrase from John Owen.

Doubting God: The premise itself is based on study of a God that those who gather doubt exist. IF God is real? Doubt is not noble. The Bible says doubt is a destroyer of life. (James 1:5-8).

Lack of male oversight and involvement and severe emphasis on women-led initiatives: Jennie’s husband Zac says he provides theological oversight, but he is listed as working only 10 hours per week at the 501(c) 3 non-profit, and the only other male on the Governing Board is David Willis for 2 hours per week. The 40-hour/weeks are put in by Jennie and Lisa Huntsberry. It’s Jennie’s baby, she is listed as Principal Officer on the tax forms. It’s led by Lisa Huntsberry who’s listed as CEO. The fact is, it operates as a woman-led, para-church organization with little male accountability or pastoral oversight.

The IF:Gathering’s premise is flawed and so are its goals. Again, from their IRS form, it states that their goals are to foment a ‘global movement’ that ‘promotes healing around the world’. Is that what the Bible says women are to do? Unleash movements? These women are mothers. With children at home. The Bible tells us what we are to do: raise the kids, support the husband. Did even Jesus come to promote healing around the world? And just what IS “healing”, anyway?

Goals are postmodern and extra-biblical: As Tim Challies said, the words reconciliation and healing have a different meaning to the postmodernist liberal than they do to the Christian fundamentalist:

“…perverts the Biblical meaning of “reconciliation.” The Bible does not use this word arbitrarily, but speaks of the reconciliation of man to God and how this can be accomplished. It speaks of redemption! Salvation! Our ministry of reconciliation is not relational healing of myself to my neighbor (right and good as that may be), but the far more important relational healing of a sinful man to a holy God.

The ‘reconciliation’ the IF-ladies intend is the latter, promoting relational healing. Hence their emphasis on feelings and their activity of social justice.

Very good critique from Lighthouse Trails on IF:Gathering. Please read. Emergent IF: Gathering Conference Coming to a Town Near You (Coming For Your Daughters and Granddaughters)!

Liberal-to-false teachers as partners and speakers. For example- Ann Voskamp. Does she even know how to use the English language anymore? Below is her tweet. I thought teachers were supposed to be ‘able to teach’. (2 Timothy 2:24). Being able to teach presumes a facility with the language so as to communicate truths in a way that will edify the hearer. Voskamp’s gone beyond #babble all the way to to #Babel.

Ann Voskamp (concern, concern, concern)

The list of IF speakers for the recent gathering that concluded in March 2021 is posted but their talks are behind a paywall. Nevertheless, this list is only a quarter of the amount of listed speakers, and demonstrates immediately that the speakers are part of the problem with IF:Gathering leaders’ discernment. Francis Chan, Christine Caine are false teachers, Lauren Chandler and Lysa TerKeurst are heavily suspect, as well as severe concerns with Jackie Hill Perry and Jefferson Bethke (of the ‘Why I hate religion‘ author)

Lysa Terkeurst (concern, concern, concern, concern)

Jennie Allen (concern, concern, concern, concern)

Jo Saxton (Female Pastor. A director of yet another ‘movement’ whose goal is “to CHANGE the world by putting DISCIPLESHIP and MISSION back into the hands of everyday people.” Emphasis theirs.

Rebekah Lyons (concern)

I hope any of this information helps you. IF gatherings are occurring every day in living rooms, dorms, (they are coming for your daughters-)

source from 2022 host guide pdf.

No town is too small, too rural, too citified or too sophisticated to host an IF:Table. The brand of Christianity the women promote is far from the Bible’s call to obedience for women, due to their emphasis on social causes, feminist living and usurping thrust of the IF:Movement, doubting God, and discussing their feelings. I pray you protect your daughters and granddaughters from any and all IF activities.

IF:Gathering says, IF God is real, then what?
Satan says, If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
Satan says, If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here…” (Luke 4:3, Luke 4:9)

FURTHER RESOURCES

Sincere Doubt vs. Dishonest Skepticism

She Reads Truth, IF:Gathering, and women Bible teachers. Part 1 (What They Say)

She Reads Truth, IF:Gathering, and women Bible teachers. Part 2 (What They Do)

She Reads Truth, IF:Gathering, and women Bible teachers. Part 3, the IF:Gathering

She Reads Truth, IF:Gathering, and women Bible teachers. Part 4 (Women Teachers)

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

I live a small life in obscurity. Can I really make a difference for God?

By Elizabeth  Prata

We see so many stories of people launching ministries, or selling everything to move into an inner-city, or striking off to a mission-receiving nation. They are doing Big Things for Jesus.

Sometimes I receive a comment where a Christian woman feels ineffective and insignificant for Jesus. She is either a stay-at-home mom, or works in a job in which she is not a decision-maker, a person droning away in a cubicle somewhere. She feels like she would like to make a bigger impact for His kingdom but is not in any kind of powerful position to do so. How can we make a Gospel-impact for Jesus where we are?

I’d first like to celebrate the fact that there are women who yearn and strive to obey her King and to make a difference in souls. Like David, there are many women who adhere to this verse from Psalm 119:59

I hastened and did not delay To keep Your commandments.

And yet, many wonder since their sphere is so small, how they can minister effectively? Are they making any difference at all? Could we do more?

By Genesis 39, Joseph has been sold into slavery by his duplicitous brothers. He is working in the house of Potiphar the Captain of the Guard, as a slave. He is a slave, remember. Bought with money as property to do a master’s bidding. Joseph had no say, no power, no sphere in which he wielded decision making capabilities. He was just chattel, slaving obscurely away in a palace of a captain of Egypt.

Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. (Genesis 39:1)

The Hebrew word sar is sometimes rendered chief (Genesis 40:2)

The “captain of the guard” or “captain of the body-guard,” both titles meaning the same thing, was responsible for the security of the king’s prisoners and for executing their sentences upon them. He was also the official guardian of the person, or body, of the king—the chief of the king’s bodyguard. Source: Freeman, J. M., & Chadwick, H. J. (1998). Manners & customs of the Bible.

From that Commentary we know that Potiphar was no low person on the totem pole. When Joseph arrived at “Potiphar’s house”, it wasn’t a bungalow. Perhaps Potiphar did not even see Joseph much at the beginning, or if he did, it was in passing.

The Bible is silent on Joseph’s exact circumstances, but much has been written about slavery in many different eras, especially Roman times. In the Roman era, as many as 10,000 slaves per day were auctioned off. The Master or the Master’s representative would buy them off the block, usually in bunches. Initially, the Master would not know what each slave was capable of. Their skills were a mystery. They were just faceless laborers, an unknown quantity. At first, they would usually be put to menial work and as the Master or his representative got to know the slaves better he would re-distribute them around the property or give them tasks according to their strengths. This is what happened with Joseph.

The LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. 3His master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. 4So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. (Genesis 39:2-4)

Joseph slaved away, and yet the LORD was with him. He was apart from his family, alone…but the LORD was with him.

Matthew Henry says of this situation in his complete Commentary,
His master preferred him, by degrees made him steward of his household, v. 4. Note, (1.) Industry and honesty are the surest and safest way both of rising and thriving: Seest thou a man prudent, and faithful, and diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings at length, and not always before mean men. (2.) It is the wisdom of those that are in any sort of authority to countenance and employ those with whom it appears that the presence of God is, Ps. 101:6.  Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible

And we know how the event ended. God used Joseph in a mighty way for His purposes. (Genesis 50:20).

If Joseph, a slave, persevered in Godly character enough to influence an entire household and then an entire nation, what can God do with us? Anything, no matter where we are or no matter how small our own sphere seems. Use your vocation for Godly influence, doing all as to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Even then, we don’t have to save an entire nation. The biggest things on the planet are influencing people with the Gospel, the true words of Christ. Even one soul impacted for the Kingdom is the highest work one can accomplish. In Zechariah 4:10 we read,

For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. “These seven are the eyes of the LORD, which range through the whole earth.”

What does that verse mean? John MacArthur comments,

In that case, the re-building of a temple smaller than the one smaller than Solomon’s may have been discouraging to some, (cf Ezra 3:12, Haggai 2:3), The Lord announced that His pleasure was upon this work, and that His omniscient care was watching over and taking pleasure in its completion. He said in effect, don’t despise what God is pleased with.”

If you’re a person with no influence, a small sphere, or seeming insignificance for the Kingdom, you’re not. Don’t despise the small things. It is the Lord’s work and He is pleased with it. To Him, it is big things, especially when He fills them to perfection on His Day of glorification when ALL things come to completion. Use your vocation for Him in any way, large or small, that you can. His eyes range through the whole earth, and He sees you, and loves you and is with you.

This light isn’t a mighty lighthouse guiding thousands to port safe from the storm, but its light sure means a lot to the one family trying to get home.

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

If:Gathering: more information

By Elizabeth Prata

Three years ago I had an inquiry from a sister in the faith about the woman of She Reads Truth and the IF:Gathering. In looking at these two organizations, which feature overlap of the woman who founded and participate in them, I discovered they adhere to and teach an aberrant theology that is unhealthy for woman. A series resulted.

Three years later, the IF:Gathering and its woman have only embedded themselves deeper into the faith and are tainting even more women with their brand of liberal theology, shaky hermeneutics, usurping lifestyles, and their idol of social justice. Continue reading “If:Gathering: more information”

Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

He is The Amen

calendar

“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation’. (Revelation 3:14).

Please read Revelation. It’s a majestic book, filled with wonders and prophecies and promises and our future. It is the only book that reveals Jesus as He is. And, it is promised to the reader that he will receive a blessing for reading it. So…

To each of the churches in these opening chapters, Jesus greets them as a different aspect of Himself. He is the Alpha & Omega, He who walks among the lampstands, the first and the last, he who has the sharp two-edged sword, him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars, and here in the last letter to the churches, the Amen. These are just a few of the titles Jesus expresses Himself as in the opening chapters of the book, which goes back to my statement, Revelation shows Jesus in all His glory and majesty.

From John MacArthur’s study Bible introduction to the book:

Revelation’s primary theological contribution is to eschatology, i.e. the doctrine of last things. In it we learn about: the final political setup of the world, the last battle of human history, the career and ultimate defeat of Antichrist, Christ’s 100-year earthly kingdom, the glories of heaven and the final state of the wicked and the righteous. Finally, only Daniel rivals this book in declaring that God providentially rules over kingdoms of men and will accomplish His sovereign purposes regardless of human or demonic opposition.

Those are some fantastic reasons to read the book!

In chapter 3, Jesus announces Himself as The Amen. What does that mean?

According to the MacArthur study Bible again, the Amen is a common biblical expression signifying certainty and veracity (cf Isaiah 65:16, “the God of truth”). As 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, all the promises of God are fulfilled in Christ, that is, all God’s promises and unconditional covenants are guaranteed and affirmed by the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Gill’s Exposition says,

Christ may be so called, because he is the God of truth, and truth itself; and it may be expressive of his faithfulness, both to God his Father, and to his people, in whom all the promises he either made, or received, are yea and amen; and also of the firmness, constancy, and immutability of Christ, in his nature, person, and offices, in his love, fulness of grace, power, blood, and righteousness; and is very appropriately assumed by him now, when he was about to give the finishing stroke to all covenant engagements, and to all promises and prophesies;

When we pray and say Amen, it is a verbal stamp on what has been said. Deepening the meaning of the Amen in this context, is that Jesus is the Word and is the living embodiment of all of God’s promises and works. We say Amen at the end of a prayer, Jesus IS the Amen.

We begin the New Year this morning with a hopeful look over the year’s calendar. All those days and weeks and months to fill up. It’s like empty scaffolding. We don’t know what’s ahead. We don’t know how these days ahead will be filled- with pain and tragedy, or joy and fulfillment, or a mixture of both, or… Whatever we do and whatever happens and however these days will be filled up and marked off, we do know one thing and it is certain.

Jesus is the Amen.

Isn’t it comforting to know that no matter what the New Year brings, what He has said is certain and utterly true. No matter what the world does to us, His faithfulness to His word and its exacting and sterling truth is the scaffold and framework for our days and weeks and months ahead. Grab onto it. Let it be your guide, your strength, your uphold, your protection, and your stronghold.

He is the Amen. He has said it. His titles of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation titles confirm the Lord’s faithfulness, sovereignty, and power to bring all things to their proper completion. Amen.

pisa2
Photo EPrata

Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

Last day of 2017: Thoughts on time’s passage

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The year 2107 flew by. I turned 57. Since my birthday is at the very end of the year in mid-December, I usually count myself as that age all year. So all of 2017 I thought of myself as 57. When my birthday approached, I mistakenly thought I was turning 58. When I realized my true age, I was relieved and happy I’d ‘gained’ a year. It was like Daylight Savings Birthday, as a witty friend said.

During the mistaken period when I thought I was a year older than what I was, I was kind of sad. 58 is pushing 60 and that is a major milestone. It’s the old age retirement age decade. The seriously shortening lifespan decade. The years pile up. Our church is filled with young folks, even our pastor just turned from 29 to 30. A lot of the members are in college or graduate school. It is startling when you look at them all assembled and realize you could be their mother. It’s even more startling when you realize you could be their grandmother. Wut? Not me! Yes me.

On Twitter the other day, one of the guys asked ‘what is your first life memory of a major news story?’ Most of them said the Challenger explosion. That was 1986. I was already teaching, married, and owned a house. My first memory of a news story was the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, February 1964, I’d just turned 3. The first major news story that impressed itself on my heart and psyche was the 1968 Democratic National Convention riots. I was 7 1/2.

When there are that many decade layers you swim down through in your brain to get to the memory, it sets a person back. Whoa, you think. I was a kid just yesterday. Memories I recall as recent are actually 20 and 30 years old. I graduated high school forty years ago. People you know start dying. If they die outside of Christ, it’s very sad. My ex-husband has died. A friend I’d worked with on town political issues has died. My father has died. Reading the obituaries becomes a regular habit.

I like demarcations. I enjoyed standing on the equator. I like the 45th parallel, the point halfway between the equator and the north pole. I liked being at the easternmost point in the US and the southernmost point in the US. Crossing the Rio Grande from the US to Mexico. Borders are good, they contain things, attempt to make the chaos orderly. Or at least manageable. Year end borders are good. So it’s New Year’s Eve now, and we’re looking at another year ahead.
clock2

New Year’s Eve is an artificial demarcation of years in a progression of invisible days, which are artificial demarcations themselves. The Egyptians divided the day into two 12-hour periods, and used large obelisks to track the movement of the sun, says Wikipedia. Graduated candles, hourglasses, sundials, water clocks…all used to mark off time for different reasons in different ways. The first mechanical clocks were invented in Europe at around the start of the 14th century, and became the standard timekeeping device until the pendulum clock was invented in 1656, says Wikipedia again. Now we have an atomic clock that keeps time to the billionth second. And we have our calendars that tell us when one year ends and another begins.

To what end? Man in his whirring activity here on this blue ball, must seem very much like children to our Great God. And so believers are children, that is how God sees us. (Romans 8:17, John 1:12-13). To what end are we so active and energetic on this blue ball?  Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

It is the last day of 2017. Perhaps the Lord will come for us in 2018. I hope so, fervently.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

I don’t have any profound words of wisdom as the calendar page turns over from this year to the next.  No hopeful statements to uplift. Just this: there will be a last day. One. Last. Day. (John 6:39, John 6:40, John 6:54 )

The New Testament makes it clear that the coming of Jesus Christ was the critical event. His atoning death was God’s final answer to the problem of human sin and once that had been accomplished nothing could be the same again. For our present purpose the important thing is that Jesus ushered in a new state of affairs. He wrought the atonement that made it possible for sinners to be forgiven and to enter God’s kingdom and to be fitted to take their part in God’s final kingdom. That gives a different quality to all time after the coming of Jesus, and the scriptural writers bring this out by referring to all that is subsequent to the coming of Jesus as “the last times” or the like.

Very important is the fact that the final, great day will see the triumph of God. This is foreshadowed in the Old Testament, for example, in the great passage in which Job says, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God” (Job 19:25-26). But the important thing from the Christian point of view is that the saving work of Christ has altered everything. Sin has been decisively defeated and believers have already entered into salvation. However long or short a time it will be before the end of this world as we measure time, we are living in the last times as the New Testament writers understand it. Bakers Evangelical Dictionary

And on that last day when time shall be no more,

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And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. (Revelation 20:12).

For the Christian, this is good news. We are judged by what Jesus has done, and we know that God is pleased with His Son. (Matthew 3:17). For the non-believing dead-resurrected, being judged according to what they have done is very bad news, for their lives of evil and rebellion will be reflected in the books, and in the end, their punishment.

Scoffers look at the calendar’s pages turning over the years and the decades and-

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 3:4).

He is coming. This blog is called The End Time because we must constantly be looking forward, up, to the future. We are in the last days and we look forward to His appearing. There will be a last day. Man marks time and confidently says, ‘Today is the last day- of 2017’. However, God has his own timing schedule,

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. (2 Peter 3:8-10).

Where will you be on the last day? Where will your friend, your ex-husband, your father be? Will you and they be in the line to the right, with the sheep? Or to the left, with the goats? Today is the last day of 2017. Let this melancholy and sober recounting of time’s passage be a reminder of the true and glorious last day of all: the day of His appearing when He comes to judge the living and the dead. May it be in 2018.

SDG

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Knowing we are a target…

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; (1 Peter 4:12)

John MacArthur preached, The Fiery Trial, Part 1, 1 Peter 4:12-14 on Jan 7, 1990

There is definitely a price to pay because if you name the name of Christ, you will become a conscience to an evil world which does not welcome such a conscience.

As the world darkens before His return (whenever that will be, I pray it is soon), our work as the Holy conscience of the Lord’s people proclaiming repentance for sin, will become brighter against the cultural darkness.

We are in a war. Being a Christian and proclaiming Christ to a lost and dying world is an act of war. The General of the world, satan, takes issue with each and every volley, foray, and battle. He will marshal his minions to come after you (and me). Why? Bright people in a war are targets. It is counter intuitive when you’re battling, to stand up and get out of the trench. It seems wrong to light a fire in the dark so snipers will see you. It seems odd to be called to put lights in the window and put away the blackout curtains. We do not put up blackout curtains and hide in the darkness. We tear down the curtains, expose the light and megaphone the truth to the quiet and quivering streets.

In 1990 being a Christian in Russia meant the communist government took issue with you. Persecution and restrictions against all religion did not ease until 1991. MacArthur again from the same sermon

I had a Russian pastor say that to me right there one Sunday night not too long ago.  I said, “It must be difficult in Russia to pastor the church.” He said, “Not so, it must be difficult in America.  In Russia we know who the true Christians are.”

Do not be surprised when persecution comes to you. It is to be expected, and the result will be that you are strengthened, you will be shown to be a true believer, and God will be glorified.

Here is a list of the kinds of suffering that Christians endure, compiled in the MacArthur sermon above and taken right out of the New Testament. When you read the list, remember to think of the global church, not just the Christians in America.

Matthew 5:10, we will endure persecution for righteousness.
Matthew 5:11 & 12, endure revilings and slanders.
1 Peter 4:4, we will be evil spoken of.
Matthew 10, we will endure false accusations.
Matthew 10:17, scourgings for Christ.
Matthew 10:14, rejection by men.
John 15:18 to 21, hatred by the world.
Matthew 10:21 to 36, hatred by our own relatives.
Acts 7:58, some of us will endure martyrdom.
James 1, we will endure temptation.
Acts 5:41, we will endure shame cast upon us for Christ’s sake.
Acts 14:22, we will endure tribulations and troubles of all kinds.
Acts 4, Acts 5, Acts 12 reminds us that many Christians will endure imprisonment.
Some, according to Acts 14:19, might endure stonings.
2 Corinthians 11:24 & 25 reminds us that some Christians have endured beatings.
1 Corinthians 4:9, we will be made a spectacle to men.
1 Corinthians 4, we will be misunderstood, we will be defamed, and we will be despised.
2 Corinthians 6:8 to 10, we will endure troubles, afflictions, distress, tumults, labors, watchings, fastings, and evil reports.

If you are not enduring any of these now, you will. If you are just coming out of some of these, you will again. I personally have endured 5 of them. I mention that because I live comfortable in America, dwell in a religious area, have a small life, and don’t get out much. Yet there it is. Even unknown and small Christians like me who speak of sin and repentance, proclaim Jesus as holy and righteous, will be hated, slandered, rejected. I think of those brave Christians in the Muslim nations and missionaries in hostile territory. The towering men of the faith like John MacArthur, Steve Lawson, Sinclair Ferguson,… we will never know what they go through. Every pastor of every true church in the world fights battles ongoing and pitched, as pointed targets of satan. What they endure…

Yet we still do not hide our light under a basket. Soldiers of the faith, it’s counter-intuitive to make ourselves targets. But it is what we’re required to do.

So, the fiery trial here is not just any trouble. It’s talking about persecution for your faith, persecution for righteousness sake, persecution because of the identification with Jesus Christ. But God allows it to come.  Verse 12, “Which comes upon you for your,” what? “Your testing.” God allows it to come because it proves the genuineness of your Christianity.

God has not put me through the physical agonies that others have endured. It doesn’t look as though I will be martyred (though you never know). I live well, quietly, and comfortably. Yet the bit I’ve gone through for His name is still difficult. Whatever you have gone through or will go through, means that will have more to rejoice in when He comes. I’ll forget in a moment all that happened when I see His face. I’ll feel such joy when I know eternity stretches before me as a peaceful, holy, beautiful life in Him.

Whatever we go through, big or small, Jesus is worth it. Oh, how He is worth it.

So stand tall, let the light of His glory shine.

Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. (Matthew 5:15)

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