Posted in theology

Prayers for El Paso, anguish at the world’s brutality, hope in Christ

By Elizabeth Prata

I have read that an active shooting situation is occurring at an El Paso, TX mall and Wal-Mart. A shooter has shot and killed multiple victims, (early reports say up to 21 killed, including 4 children) with more shoppers injured and transported to local hospitals. So far a suspect is in custody.

More information will be forthcoming as police conduct their investigations. On the news brief, the Policeman said that the crime scene area is quite large, and they were still going through to sort victims from potential suspects, and retrieving people who sheltered in place.

The news reported an eyewitness saying the man went from aisle to aisle shooting, with rage.

Last week there was a shooter at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California. A video of the event showed people running in a herd toward the camera man. “Why are people running?”, we hear on the video. Bystanders didn’t understand what was happening at first, and a women who was told, said “Who shoots up a Garlic Festival?”

Sin doesn’t make sense. We just have to live with it, and with the people with blackened hearts and depraved and futile minds who perform these deeds.

The constant barrage of sin coming against us tests our faith. I read tweets from folks saying they are devastated, when will it stop, they are sick to their stomach. I feel the same. Of course I prayed.

I also remember having those feelings I’d had before I was saved when this kind of thing would happen (admittedly less frequently back 40 years ago). In addition to all the questions noted above, I  felt confusion, fear, and alarm.

Having the Spirit in me to open my eyes to why these things happen doesn’t reduce my sadness for the people experiencing the fear and panic of this kind of tragic event, but it does help in other ways. I understand why it happens. It does bring home the shortness of life especially compared to the longness of eternity. It does instill an ever growing gratitude to the Savior that I have peace and assurance, and that without Him, who knows what sins I might have been doing that hurt people.

Why does this happen? We are told why, humanity in its sin rebels against a holy God. I can’t imagine the spiritual anguish the alleged 21-year old shooter felt to shoot the man in the doorway at point blank range, then go up and down shooting others, including children. The brutality and unholiness noted in the list in the verse below will grow and grow and spread to more and more people as sin overtakes more and more people.

Difficult Times Will Come
3 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6 For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. 9 But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.

That is quite a list of sins we have to live with. Did you know we are in the end times now? The “last days” are between Jesus’ first and His second comings.

In the article linked above, it ends with noting that as the evacuees from the Mall lined up on the sidewalk, a man with a Bible went up and down the line asking people to pray with him. As the darkness grows, our Light which is Christ in us should glow more brightly. We have the answers.

Sin forgiven, souls redeemed, familial adoption, a heavenly inheritance, an eternity of joy. All for the price of repenting. Call out to Jesus who saves, give up your sin, and be remade as a new creation, born again. (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Christians still feel anguish, but it takes on a new flavor. It’s not spiritual anguish, that’s calmed when the Spirit comes in and we are at peace with God. (Romans 5:1).  No longer His enemy, we now look outward upon the anguish of the world that is without God.

No one on this side of the veil knows the date of their death. It could come in 80 years or it could come today. For the poor folks inside the store when the shooting began, some will never be the same, others who were killed met eternity. I pray that at least some of those were true believers, now rejoicing with Jesus for their life in Him. Others who are not in Christ, learned of their mistake, but will pay for it through all of the rest of time, forever. Ultimately, that is the anguish Christians feel when we read of news like this.

Repent and be reconciled, for we do not know what tomorrow brings.

And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, (Colossians 1:20-22).

cross

Posted in theology

What does a seared conscience look like? America

By Elizabeth Prata

Eight years ago, Naomi Wolf wrote an article for CNN asking the question, CNN-is porn driving men crazy?

It is hard to ignore how many highly visible men in recent years (indeed, months) have behaved in sexually self-destructive ways. Some powerful men have long been sexually voracious; unlike today, though, they were far more discreet and generally used much better judgment in order to cover their tracks.Of course, the heightened technological ability nowadays to expose private behavior is part of the reason for this change. But that is precisely the point: so many of the men caught up in sex-tinged scandals of late have exposed themselves – sometimes literally – through their own willing embrace of text messages, Twitter, and other indiscreet media.What is driving this weirdly disinhibited decision-making? Could the widespread availability and consumption of pornography in recent years actually be rewiring the male brain, affecting men’s judgment about sex and causing them to have more difficulty controlling their impulses? … The hypothesis among the experts was that pornography was progressively desensitizing these men sexually.

She asks a good question, especially in light of the fact that the past 8 years has seen a precipitous plunge into depravity at a speed one would not have guessed. Same-sex-marriage, trans-gender, the advent of ‘non-binary’, even many Christian pastors unveiled as plumbing the depths of all kinds of sexual sin.

Wolf offers a different possible answer to it than I would. I say it is the fallen-ness of our sinful world and the fact that satan inhabits it, provoking our own sin-nature He is actually the god of this world and operates within it through the boundaries that God sets. On the other hand, Wolf could be unknowingly exactly right when she speaks of ‘desensitizing’, because Paul spoke of some people who, “Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;”

The full verse from 1 Timothy 4:1 is: “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron“. The Matthew Henry commentary on this verse explains,

 It is done by their hypocrisy, professing honor to Christ, and yet at the same time fighting against all his anointed offices, and corrupting or profaning all his ordinances. This respects also the hypocrisy of those who have their consciences seared with a red-hot iron, who are perfectly lost to the very first principles of virtue and moral honesty.

We get desensitized to sin. The ‘desensitization’ Wolf noticed is the seared conscience of a sin-scarred soul. Once engaging in it, unless we repent and confess immediately, presenting ourselves for a spiritual bath by the Holy Spirit, we remain unclean in that little spot, and we get used to the unclean feeling. We decide that it wasn’t really so bad, and we do it again. And again. Until we’re so strewn with scar tissue from the searing of our consciences, we become inured to the effects of sin and never even feel its pricks any more. And before long we have men exposing themselves publicly in ridiculous ways that they have convinced themselves are fun because they have lost any ability to feel shame.

God told Jeremiah to tell the Israelites:

Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when they are punished,says the LORD. (Jeremiah 8:12).

God spoke that to Jeremiah for His people at the end of a long list of sins they were committing, which also included deceit, straying from the ways of God, listening to false prophets who say all is well, being greedy, and rejecting God. He punished them. Will He do less with us here in America? Surely not!

Edward Gibbon wrote the book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He spent twenty years researching it. Through his research Gibbon realized that all great nations, Rome included, have fallen for the same reasons. Those reasons can be boiled down to just five, usually occurring in sequence-

1. The undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home, which is the basis of human society.
2. Higher and higher taxes; the spending of public money for free bread and circuses for the populace.
3. The mad craze for pleasure; sports becoming every year more exciting, more brutal, more immoral.
4. The building of great armaments when the great enemy was within; the decay of individual responsibility.
5. The decay of religion, fading into a mere form, losing touch with life, losing power to guide the people.

So is there any good news?

Though there is much to be mournful about, there is also much to be joyful about! Each day we are not raptured is a day closer to when it happens. Each day we are on earth is a day we can obey the Lord, celebrate the Lord, proclaim the Lord, and do the work of the Lord. Each day that passes is another day in which the Holy Spirit regenerates us more into His likeness. Each day that passes is a day we can thank Him for the many, many blessings we receive from Him, beginning with salvation. And each day that passes and our country and the world dies a bit more, we know that it is one day closer to when our new home will be ready to receive us. We celebrate worship, His glowing church, and His sovereignty.

Take heart, as Jesus promised Simon,

Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:17).

What rock is Jesus talking of? Peter’s confession! He knew, as we do, that Jesus is the Christ, (the Rock), the Son of the living God. And nothing thwarts the Living God’s plans and decrees.

We can work hard in obedience and repentance and prayer, not to spark a seared conscience in ourselves. We can be strong and bright lights for His name. We can anticipate the day of our homecoming, whether by death or rapture.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 13:4).

Keep praying, keep confessing, keep loving, even though it gets hard sometimes. Keep thinking of the lovely things. “”Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)”

And one day when we least expect, we will suddenly be clothed in new flesh, glorified and able to see Him as He is!

unspeakable glory

Posted in encouragement, theology

An encouragement: Keep a tender conscience

By Elizabeth Prata

I hope this fine late summer week has offered you beautiful glimpses of God’s creative intellect and His wonderful power. I posted the other day about a rainbow extending from left to right directly in front of me, and how for the first time I even saw the end of the rainbow pooling in colors right there on the ground. (No pot of gold, sorry 😉

I’m looking forward to the weather easing into fall. Though this summer was quite mild, not brutal like those hot box summers in Georgia of the recent past, I’m still looking forward to pumpkins, fall leaves, and cooler temperatures.

We always enjoy the march of the seasons. “He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.” (Psalm 104:19, KJV).

Wherever we are in the world, reading this blog, we see and understand the times and seasons. In spring, we look for the robin, the crocus, the ladyslipper. In summer we look for puffy clouds, rain showers, cicadas. The orderliness and consistency of the seasons since His ordination of them is a comfort. Yet even in Jeremiah 8:7 it is said of the seasons, meaning HIS season,

Yes, the stork in the heaven knows her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD.”

In the natural history of Israel, Barnes notes explains, “Jeremiah appeals to the obedience which migratory birds render to the law of their natures. The “stork” arrives about March 21, and after a six weeks’ halt departs for the north of Europe. It takes its flight by day, at a vast height in the air (“in the heaven”). The appearance of the “turtle-dove” is one of the pleasant signs of the approach of spring.”

As for the part of the Jeremiah verse which speaks to His judgments, Matthew Henry holds sway here:

“Sin is backsliding; it is going back from the way that leads to life, to that which leads to destruction. They would not attend to the warning of conscience. They did not take the first step towards repentance: true repentance begins in serious inquiry as to what we have done, from conviction that we have done amiss. They would not attend to the ways of providence, nor understand the voice of God in them, ver. 7.

They know not how to improve the seasons of grace, which God affords. They would not attend to the written word. Many enjoy abundance of the means of grace, have Bibles and ministers, but they have them in vain. They will soon be ashamed of their devices. The pretenders to wisdom were the priests and the false prophets. They flattered people in sin, and so flattered them into destruction, silencing their fears and complaints with, All is well. Selfish teachers may promise peace when there is no peace; and thus men encourage each other in committing evil; but in the day of visitation they will have no refuge to flee unto.”

How perfect and prescient His Word is! Let us enjoy the seasons of grace that Jesus offers His children.

In Numbers, where God is dispensing instruction to the Priesthood, God said, “I am giving you the service of the priesthood as a gift.” (Numbers 18:7b). It is a gift to serve Him. It is a gift to dedicate one’s life to him. It is a gift to be close to Him. It was a gift to the people who needed priests. He also gave the Prophets as a gift and in the New Testament, the gift of prophecy is also a gift. (1 Corinthians 12:10; Romans 12:6).

I feel deeply for Jeremiah the Prophet, who was known as The Weeping Prophet. Jeremiah lived in a time when the People’s pride was dragging them backward into sin and away from the LORD. (Jeremiah 13:15-27- “Pride precedes captivity”.) He lived when the people’s sins had piled up. Jeremiah was the last prophet sent to preach to the Southern Kingdom. The searing effects of their sins had hardened them so much that no one ever listened to Jeremiah. He never had one convert. “Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.” (Jeremiah 7:24). Seasons of sin means seasons of bondage.

We speak of His love these days and His joy, peace in knowing Him. All these things are good to have and feel and be. But where is the grief? Where are our weeping prophets (Christians) today? Do we repent in grief for our sins?

Jeremiah begged them not to succumb to the false gods who lulled them into security and which did not make them feel guilty or convict them of sin. They did not listen, and they were destroyed. It shall be so again.

Meanwhile, keep up the good fight, persevere. Repent of the big things and the little things. Keep a tender conscience. Enjoy the gift of His Spirit and His people, and His church, and His word. Soon enough, our faith will be made sight, and we shall see Him as He is. What a day that will be!

hope 7

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

An encouragement

We see the collapse of denominations and the fluidity of gender, the perverted homosexual agenda and the perverted Christian agenda, the child nappings and the teen drownings, volcanoes exploding and lava flowing, deaths and suicides…and more. The news of the world and the news inside the Christian bubble are both troubling and saddening.

Yet we have hope.

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)

It is good news that He loves us and is waiting to call us, His bride, home to Him soon. He is preparing the place in which we will dwell for all eternity, untainted by sin at last. We will gaze at one another through the spotless lens of the Holy One who redeemed us to Himself, and we will love Him and each other perfectly. His light will shine upon us untainted by clouds, pure as the blazing Light that shines supreme, transcendent, unmatched, our eyes shining as the reflection of His matchless glory. Angels will sing praises to Him and we will join in, love glowing out among all creation in glory, as only He can be! Why He chooses to share Himself with us, I will never know, but that knowledge and fact only makes me love Him all the more. He saved a wretch like me, and changed me from creature to daughter of God!

I sincerely hope you all are well. If you are not, then I hope that good news of what awaits us revives you, that we have the perfect assurance of the incomparable riches of His grace.

Beloved, these things are true, these things are noble, these things are just, these things are pure, these things are lovely, these things are of good report, there is virtue and they is praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Phil 4:8-9 paraphrased)

God will judge the unrighteous. But we love Jesus and love casts out all fear. Whoever is in Jesus has no fear, because He is GOOD! His promises are true. His mercy endures forever.

  • The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;” Lamentations 3:25
  • Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14
  • In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.” Isaiah 25:9

Are you glad in His salvation? We wait, and we love, and we endure, but are we glad? He saved us! The most important person in the universe who was and is and is to come came down from his Holy Mountain to serve us, teach us and save us. He left glory to give us His righteousness. Be glad in it. Even as we wait, we have more days to rejoice in the hope in us, and to be the light to others in that hope.

It’s summer. Hold your loved ones close. Have picnics, catch fireflies, dip toes in the sand, go on a road trip, read a summer book. Unplug, unwind, let go a bit if you can.

Here is something lighthearted to end what I hope is encouraging to you.

busy bee and ant

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

A simple reminder about hope

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (1 Peter 1:3)

Well that says a lot! Each phrase is an encouragement. I’m focusing on living hope this morning. Our living hope is not a dead hope. It is not surmise, speculation, or empty ‘what if’. It is a living hope because we are IN Christ and He is living and *He* is our Hope.

Gill’s Commentary says

Saints are both begotten again to the grace of hope, and to the glory which that grace is waiting for”. Our hope is because of Christ, it is in Christ and it is Christ. It is a living hope

hope

Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

The Language of Death: Obituaries

Death, the final frontier. These are the lives of the starbaby Humans. Their 7000-year mission: to explore strange new hearts, to seek out new life and new religion, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

OK, a thousand pardons for re-writing that famous opening line from the original Star Trek television series.

Death IS the final frontier. All humans are eternal, death is just a passing over of the line between this life and the next. However, the life in the next is permanently and eternally fixed. One will either pass over the boundary into the final frontier into hell, or into heaven.

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, (Hebrews 9:27) Continue reading “The Language of Death: Obituaries”