Posts Tagged ‘God’

02 (2)

I went to the Lego Movie the other night with my wife.  It was a pretty cool movie and we enjoyed it.  However, in one of the previews of an upcoming IMAX movie on some animals really struck me.  The narrator called the animals mankind’s (or as people would say now humankind) relatives.  He stated it, not as a question but as fact.  It bothered me because of what the statement implied, which is man is only an animal.  There is no glory in him, there is nothing inspiring about him.  He was not created but merely evolved and is lucky.

It is this view that man is really an animal that has enabled him to pursue his own way of life apart form any moral accountability to God (or any god).  He is freed to do whatever he desires.  Some might argue that even those who profess a belief in God live the same way, which is sadly true.  However, a belief in God means that man can be something more and was created to be that way by a God that cares about him.

The prevailing belief today is that man is an animal and thus is his own god.  If everyone is their own god then there is no real truth and life IS meaningless.  Sure we can and do sugar coat it by doing good but there is no substance behind the good deeds.  As much as atheists will claim they have morals (which I do not doubt at all) there is nothing behind the morals but morals for morals sake.  What is then true for one person then is not for another.  There is no set moral code.  I am not suggesting this is anything recent as in the last 50 years.  Man has always attempted to make a life apart from God and even be a god himself.  However, the end of this way of thinking has never been a good one.

Genesis 1:26 tells us that man is created in God’s image.  When the bible says “Let us make man in our image, the Hebrew grammar suggests it means “Let us make man as our image.”  In ancient times an emperor might place statues of himself throughout the remote part of his land.  These symbols would declare that those areas were under his power and reign.  Therefore, God placed man in the world as a living symbol of Himself on earth to represent his reign.  This is why God gives the command for man to have dominion over the earth.  This is the reason God values people so much: We are made to reflect His majesty on earth.  There is a significance to mankind.  There is no chance or survival of the fittest.  One only has to look to the world created around him to understand if this is all random chance then they should go to Vegas and gamble it all.

God has created a world and given man the opportunity to know Him.

 

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My Dad

Posted: June 12, 2013 in christianity, religion
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Father’s Day is this Sunday and it coincides with my birthday.  I thought I would devout this post to him and give some insight into his spiritual life.  The man that he was and what I learned through his life.  My dad passed away October 2006.  He was 66.  He was mowing the lawn that day, when all of a sudden he felt very sick as if he was going to throw up.  He left the mower and ran inside to the bathroom.  Once he arrived in the bathroom, he suffered a heart attack.  He was dead before he hit the ground.  We found out later that my dad had an enlarged heart and hardening of his arteries due to his many years of smoking.

I had an interesting if not non-existant relationship with my dad.  He was a good man, however, I believe he struggled in the area of fatherhood.  I always knew his heart was in the right place.  However, it was odd at his funeral being told by strangers how much he loved and was proud of me.  I believe I could count on one hand how many times I heard those words from him.  I remember graduating high school and he finally said he loved me, which was the first time I heard it from him.  We had a complicated relationship.

In the years since his death I believe I have come to understand him more and more.  I am not bitter or harbor in any anger towards him.  If any thing I feel sad for him.  Children are a product of their parents.  This can be both a good and a bad thing.  Children learn from their parents.  However, they are not doomed to repeat the same mistakes as their parents.  They have the choice to chose their own paths and to live differently and be different.  For me I made a conscious decision many years ago to express to people what they meant to me.  There is no such thing as the perfect parent.  If we think that we can accomplish that then we are only fooling ourselves.  Albeit, there is such a thing as a parent who makes mistakes and tries to correct them during parenting.  I can remember my dad owning up to some of his mistakes when I was in college and it meant a lot to hear him say things.  He was a humble man and I believe he knew he could have done more, but was unable to.

There is no manual for raising kids or how to parent.  There are a lot of books, which attempt to accomplish it, but the reality is different children need different styles of parenting.  There is no one sure fire way to do it.  I believe being real, honest, loving, and making an effort are important characteristics in parenting.  If a parent can do those things then they will succeed.

Religion was a complicated subject for my dad.  He got saved after a car accident nearly took his life.  My dad suffered a hip injury. It result in him living the next approx. 17 years with one leg shorter than the other.  It was not until he had hip replacement surgery that the doctors were able to correct it.  He lived with a lot of physical pain for much of my childhood and teen years.  When I was about 15 my dad stopped going to church.  Only years later did begin to understand what was going on in his life.

My dad was a gifted trumpet player and he loved Jazz music.  In fact, he had considered playing in a Jazz band as a career, however, family responsibilities changed his plans.  After his accident my parents began attending two different churches.  Both churches had the same message.  Or I should write the same legalistic message, which was Jazz music was sinful.  My dad played the piano in the church on Sunday mornings and stopped because some individuals in the congregation felt that it was too jazzy.  Therefore, my dad stopped playing any musical instrument. For almost 10 years my dad did not do the thing he loved the most because he had been taught (incorrectly I might add) that it was wrong.  He wanted to please God so my dad obeyed what he thought God wanted.  It was not until the time he stopped going to church that he started playing his trumpet again.

He was playing in a Jazz band in the early 1990’s when he met a pastor.  My dad was shocked that this guy was playing in a different Jazz band.  It was through this relationship that my dad started to understand grace and God in a different way.  The yoke of legalism had stripped away years from my dad.  Let me define legalism as “adding any rule or regulation to the bible, which is not found in the bible and then putting it on the same level as the bible.  In order to please God one must live by these standards or rules.”  Or another way to put it would be living as Jesus did not die for the law (Romans 6:14).  A person is in a constant state of working to please.

We went through his things after he passed away.  We found a letter that he had written years earlier.  In it he chronicled his struggles with God.  I believe one day I will see my dad in heaven.  However, the God I know was not the God he knew. My dad knew God through the lens of legalism.  I know God through the lens of grace.  I am often saddened when I think of him, because I wish that I could know him now.  However, one day I will see him again and we will have an eternity to talk about all the craziness of life.  Therefore, I look forward to my Lord’s return.  I love Dad.

We live in a crazy world.  A world where people feel in some twisted way that they need to place bombs at a marathon.  A world where very few if any politicians actually stick up for what is right.  The word “right” does not even have the same meaning any more.  Anything is “right” if the majority of the people believe it to be true.

When I read Revelation 4, I am in awe of the glory of the Lord. John describes the majestic scene, “And He who sat there was like a jasper and sardius stone in appearance…Before the throne there was a sea of glass like crystal…”  There are four creatures continuously say, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come.”

I was reminded of how wonderful, and marvelous our Savior is when I read those verses this morning.  No matter what I see on the news or read on the Internet, God is still God.  He is holy.  I love the phrase, “Who was and is and is to come.”  It reminds me that God never changes.  He was the same when He created and even before.  He was the same God who called Abraham.  He was the same God who stood in the midst of the burning fire with Daniel’s friends.  He closed the mouths of the lions.  He died for my sins.  He rose again.  He will come back for us.  God sits on the throne today and has and will.  He is worthy to be praised.

 

Over a year ago I was listening to a blog talk prophecy radio show by John Claeys and a caller asked a question about the upcoming election.  I will never forget John’s statement to the caller, which was “There has never been a President who was elected to a second term without supporting Israel.”  President Obama is now the first.  He has been cold in his support of Israel.  Therefore, the fact that he got reelected tells me something about bible prophecy.  This is not about political parties or ideology as it is about what God is doing.

In Daniel 7, he describes four beasts.  Each beast is a representative a kingdom that is and ones that will be.  The first is Babylon, then the Medes-Persians, followed by Greece, and lastly the fourth Kingdom which is not necessarily Rome but a new world empire.  I write that it is not Rome because Daniel who correctly identifies Greece before they were really any sort of a power could have done the same with Rome.  This fourth empire is like Rome, but different.  It is more vicious and dominant than Rome ever was.  Daniel 7:23 says, “The fourth beast shall be A fourth kingdom on earth.  Which shall be different from all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth…”  Daniel goes on and says in verse 24, “The ten horns (of the fourth beast) are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom…”  The day of America being a world power is swiftly coming to an end.

I am not one of those doomsday people who believe because Obama got elected that we should all run for the hills and hide in caves.  In my previous blog I wrote about how God is ultimately in control and leading us.  This is all happening to our country because God has a plan and His plan usurps anything that we would want.  Therefore, we should look to God and not our president for our help.

It seems that Obama does not have a good relationship with Israel, also America has seemed to lose it’s influence in the Middle-East.  What does that mean? It means the way is being cleared for a new leader in the Middle-East to rise up.  Who will that be?  He will be the Antichrist or as John calls him in Revelation The Beast.  America will probably be one of the ten kingdoms that Daniel 7 writes about.  The world now is becoming a much smaller place and it will be interesting to watch what will happen here in the next four years with President Obama.  All I know is that God is control.  His plan was for Obama to get elected to set up other things He is doing for His return.  May the Lord come quickly.

Today is the first game of the year for my freshman football team.  They are all excited and pumped I’m sure.  This will be my fifth year coaching football, and I have enjoyed it thoroughly.  However, I have seen a pattern in players over my five years that I believe is very important as it relates to the Judgment Seat of Christ.  What is that pattern?  Well first let’s look at what the Judgment Seat of Christ is.

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 and 2 Corinthians 5:10 give us good information on what it is.  The main point in both passages is that believers will have to give an account for the way they have lived their lives.  Essentially our works will be judged not our salvation.  This is important to remember especially when it comes to salvation.  It can be easy to front-load a Gospel presentation to a person, but that it is not our works or our willingness to give up that saves us.  It is believing in the Jesus, who died for our sins and rose again that saves us.  If I personally relied on my good works then I would be not be going to heaven.   I could never really be good enough.

The Judgment Seat of Christ is a judgment for believers that is separate from The Great White Throne Judgment.  While the scripture is silent on exactly when the Judgement Seat will take place, it is assumed that it could take place sometime before the Millennial Kingdom that Christ will set up.  I write that because believers have the opportunity to rule and reign with Christ during this 1,000 year reign on earth.  That opportunity is based on the way we lived for Him (Matthew 25:14-30; Revelation 2:26,27; 3:21).

Judgment Seat of Christ or The Bema Seat as it is often referred to, is actually not a time to be afraid, but a time to rejoice.  All the times people stood up for the Lord or made a sacrifice for Him, He will reward that (Hebrews 11:6).  However, those who didn’t use their time, talents, or money for the Lord will have much regret.  The Judgment Seat is about God holding us accountable for the way we lived our lives.

Football is just a game.  However, you receive what you put into it.  If you try and make the effort then you will receive playing time.  If you do not care and miss practices then the coach keeps you on the sidelines.  Every year I have students who give little to no effort and they stay on the sidelines.  Through hard work and determination others see the field and rewarded for it at the end of the year with an award.  The same can be said of the Christian life.  The question now is what will you do with the time, talent, and money that God has given you?  Hopefully you will use it to glorify the Lord.  In turn you will be rewarded for it.  It is not about today but the eternal.

“For this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie…” (1 Thessalonians 2:11).

A question I always had was can people who have heard the Gospel before the Tribulation be able to get saved in the Tribulation.  In a sense will there be a second chance?

Many bible teachers feel that you will not be able to receive the gift of Salvation in the Tribulation.  While this view makes sense because if people reject the free gift then why should they have another chance to receive Christ?

God in His infinite Grace and Mercy will give the whole world one more chance during the Tribulation.  Once believers are Raptured up there will be no one left here on earth to tell them about the Lord, however, God will provide two witnesses to introduce the Gospel one more time (Revelation 11).  The identity of these two witnesses is unknown.  Through their ministry in Jerusalem, there will be 144,000 Jewish males, who hear the Gospel message from the Two Witnesses.  They will go and tell the whole world.  At this point in the Tribulation, Antichrist is still a little horn as Daniel calls him.  He has not yet reached world-leader status yet.  Half way through the Tribulation he will require people to worship him by accepting the mark on their forehead or wrist.  People will not be able to buy or sell unless they have the mark.  It is important to remember that the mark has nothing to do with a cashless society or credit cards.  The mark is the name of the beast or Antichrist.

I believe the “strong delusion” of 1 Thessalonians 2:11 will not happen until after the abomination of desolation, which is halfway through the Tribulation.  Therefore, people will still have the opportunity to accept Christ.  I make this assumption because there is nothing in the bible that says that they can’t.

What does this mean for us living today?  Tell others about the Lord.  Allow the Holy Spirit to work through you in your life to share the Gospel. The Gospel is free to us, but it cost Jesus His life.  It is our responsibility to go and tell.  It is up to us.  If someone in your family, or relative, or friend rejects Christ then there will still be one more opportunity for them to believe.

A moment is all it takes. The bible tells that in a moment those who believe in Christ will be changed (1 Corinthians 15:52).  In my opinion I believe this is a reference to the Rapture of believers.  However, in that same moment what are those who are left behind do?  Pure chaos would ensue.  A world in many ways would be turned upside down.  People losing relatives, friends, or coworkers in a moment.  It seems fair to write that people would be confused and lost as to what to do.  Once that moment passes, people will be looking for truth, looking for answers.  How people find these answers  the scriptures are silent, but based upon how people have responded in the past after tragedy it is fair to assume that people will be looking for some type of spiritual answer.

The first half of the Tribulation, the Antichrist will not be ruling the world.  The first half he is building his name and career in order to rule the last 3 1/2 years.   Who is it that rules the first 3 1/2 years?  It is Ecclesiastical Babylon.  In Revelation 17:1, we are introduced to the religious system of that day.  The woman it says sits on many waters.  The “many waters,” is interpreted as people, nations,  multitudes, and tongues in verse 15.  The woman sits on the many waters, which it seems to imply that she is ruling.  This woman has the support of civil governments at this time.  This is made clear by the preposition “with.”  The kings of the earth it says committed fornication with her as well as the inhabitants of the earth.  The word “fornication” that is used here is used in a spiritual sense.  The world committed spiritual adultery with Babylon.  Much like in the Old Testament when Israel would turn after other gods, God viewed it as spiritual adultery and He would respond.  In verse 3, we are told that the same woman now is sitting on a scarlet beast.  The beast is the Antichrist.  We know this because the beast is identified as having seven heads and ten horns.  This description is similar to Daniel 7:24, and in Revelation 13:1.  This would then imply that the Antichrist, at least for the first part of the tribulation, will also be under the Babylon’s religious authority.

What is identity then of the woman?  She represents the one world religious system of that day.  This religious system rises to rule because after the Rapture many will be looking for answers.  This religious system provide people with the spiritual help they are looking for.  From this need it seems that this religious system will rule with the state.  I make that assumption from Revelation 17:1,2.  I believe the woman in 17 is the same woman in Revelation 2:20 who is identified as Jezebel.  I make that assumption based upon the actions of the Jezebel in the church of Thyatira.  There in that church this woman caused people to commit sexual immorality and adultery.  Also the Lord tells John in verse 22 of chapter 2 that “cast her into a sickbed and those who commit adultery with her into the great tribulation unless they repent…”  I believe the reference here is to the actual Great Tribulation, which is the last half of the Tribulation.  The headquarters of this new religious system will be a rebuilt Babylon.

What will the religion be?  The religion will be a combination of all false religions.  The figure Jezebel is used in Revelation as a type from the Old Testament.  There in 1 Kings shes brings in a foreign god for Israel to worship.  Here in Revelation 17 this woman operates very similarly.  Some bible teachers claim this woman represents the Catholic church.  There could some truth to that.  However, this woman I believe represents all false churches.  They come together to create a mega one world religious system, much like they did in Genesis 11 at the Tower of Babel.

666 not just a number.

The number 666 has been popularized by our culture today.  It has been featured in many movies from horror  to Christian films.  A great many books have been written about it as well.  Many pastors warn of a coming cashless society or credit system by which this number will be used.  While the number is sensational, we do get a different idea of what it means when we read about in Revelation 13:17 it says “no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast or the number of his name.”  This verse tells us that the number doesn’t mean a credit or cashless system, but rather the name of the AntiChrist himself.  Based on this verse many would then start looking to names of presidents and rulers to see if the letters in their name equaled 666.  However, unlike the English language Hebrew, can used to express numbers (also Greek can as well).  There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet and in the order of numerical value they are 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,20,30,40,50,60,70,80,90,100,200,300,and 400.  The numerical value of Jesus’ name is 749.   This is something that cannot be duplicated with English.  A great website to check this out would be hebrew4christians.com.  Believers living during the Tribulation should be able to identify the AntiChrist if they are watching.

The purpose of the mark is not just for buying and selling but rather worship of The Beast.  By placing the mark on either the right hand or forehead people are submitting to his authority.  People will want to do this because the will perceive him to be a god.  He will be mortally wounded and thought to be dead but will rise again (13:3).  Satan who gives The Beast his power, is worshiped when people worship AntiChrist.  Also important to note that worship is coming from the whole earth not just the European union.  Some have indentified the European Union as the 10 kings in Revelation.  However, upon further review, Daniel 7:23 tells us that this fourth empire will be over all the earth.  Therefore, the whole earth will make up the ten kingdoms.  The European Union gives us a preview of what that would look like on a much smaller scale, but it is not the actual 10 kingdoms from Revelation.

All this means is that one day the Lord will return and we need to be ready.

Why God’s Grace Matters.

How do you know that you will be Raptured up?  It has nothing to do with how faithful, or how many times you go to church.  In fact, you may never go to church and still get raptured up.  Jesus said in John 6:47, “He who believes in has everlasting life.”  Jesus did not give any qualifiers, just faith in Him.  Everlasting life or eternal life starts the moment you believe in Christ.

Ephesians 4:30 tells that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption.  That day is when we are raptured up to be with the Lord.  Our salvation is not based upon how good we can be.  If it were then why did Christ have to die.  We are not saved because we are eternally faithful to the Savior, we are saved because He is eternally faithful.   In Acts 16:30,31 a jailer asks the Apostle Paul what he must do to be saved, and all Paul tells him is to believe on Jesus.

I have read and heard from some bible teachers and pastors use Matthew 7:21 which says, “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord shall enter the kingdom of heaven.”  I believe there is even an extremely popular Christian writer, pastor who proclaims this in his best selling book.   Please remember any body can make the bible say what they want it to say.  The truth of what a verse is saying is in the context of the passage not a single verse.  If you look back at Matthew 7:15 you see that Jesus is speaking about false teachers.  This passage is from the famous Sermon on the Mount.  When you go even further back you get the audience of who He is talking to in Matthew 5:1, the disciples.  Multitudes of people were there yet Jesus takes the disciples out of the crowd and to a hillside to privately talk to them.  Therefore, Matthew 7:21 is not talking about the regular Christian person who stumbles but the false teacher who leads people astray.

Salvation is free.  You don’t need to say a prayer or join a church.  It is not conditioned upon your faithful or faithlessness.  It is a gift that Jesus offers.  Only He can offer it because only He rose again.