The Reality In the Fantasy

     Have you ever wondered about our culture’s fixation with fantasy?

I mean why are movies like Star Wars, Lord Of the Rings or Harry Potter such blockbusters? Why do we love the Weasleys and the Wookies so much?

I was asking the Lord this question in regards to the Harry Potter story specifically. Why does this one story grab hold of so much of our population?

     I’ll tell you what I think is the Lord’s answer. Harry Potter is a metaphor for the times we live in. The story taps into some kind of collective consciousness, a common understanding of what life is like and will be like in the future.

      Harry lives in a world where most of the population is completely in the dark about how the planet actually runs( the Muggles). Yet there is another group, perhaps almost as large as the first, which understands the way of the world and yet chooses to walk in complete denial of the facts that the world it knows is threatened. Choosing to hold onto a foolish hope that evil can never rise to a place of preeminence this group refuses to heed the warnings to prepare. Finally there is a third group, smaller than the other two, which understands the signs of the times and chooses to sound the alert whatever the cost and to prepare whatever the penalty.  

     Now that is not a much different paradigm than the one in which I live. Much of my world does not even know the first thing about the Word of God. I once watched an episode of Jeopardy in which the contestants on the panel could not answer simple questions like “Who received the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai?” or “Who died on the cross?” 

     Without knowledge of the Bible men (like the Muggles of Harry Potter) cannot have a clear view of how the world actually works. So many are operating under a false set of “truths” which are leading them down a primrose path to Hell.

     But in my world there is a second group of people, almost as large as the first. This group of people dub themselves practicing Christians. Yet they have no personal experience with God. Their religion is nothing more than ritual and form without substance. No miracles exist in their world. Prophecy is not something to be bothered with and the point of conversion is really only to get the biggest church attendance in town. When certain “overly zealous”  brothers and sisters in the faith start talking about the end of days or spout off about how the church should operate in the supernatural, this group moves to “calm them down”.

    The third group of people in my world are the Harry Potters, the Luke Skywalkers, The Frodo Bagginses. These are the people who know that there is something in the world beyond the natural. This group knows the dramatic claims of the Bible. This group believes those claims and actually seeks to live them out. This group also knows that part of the promise is that the very nature of who we are and what we are here to do is threatened and attacked by a magic far deeper and older than our histories can record; For this magic comes from a place and time before us. This group knows that the world is beset by a supernatural power that seeks to destroy us all. This group also knows that there is  yet a God, named Jesus, who loves us and who has done an incredible  work on our behalf to save the world. This group lives by faith and prayer. This group lays hands on the sick and watches them recover. This group believes in a God who is coming to take them out of this world. This group believes that the world is coming to an end of days. This group lives as though that day was around the corner.

      Why do we love Harry Potter so much? We love it because somewhere deep inside of us it strikes a chord no matter which group we fall into by our choices. the story resonates with something in us, something that tells us that though it is fantasy the reality is not so far removed.

Daniel: The God Of Fortresses

       The final act has well begun. The characters strut about the stage playing out the parts God wrote for them in the beginning. Meanwhile waiting in the wings is the shadowy figure of the arch-villain waiting to be revealed.

     Who is Antichrist? Until the final events are set in motion, I am convinced we shall not know. Daniel does reveal that he is heavily involved in Middle Eastern and Eastern European politics (Daniel 11). The prophet also reveals that this “king” will worship a god of fortresses and will even believe himself to be god. He will trust in superior military might and will honor no god above himself.

      “He shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall exalt himself above them all. But in their place he shall honor a god of fortresses; and a god which his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and pleasant things. Thus he shall act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god, which he shall acknowledge, and advance its glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and divide the land for gain.” Daniel 11:37-39

    In ancient times the idea that someone would not believe in God or gods was patently ridiculous. The idea of a spirit realm was universally accepted and everyone was tied to some spirit being. So the thought that a king would appear on the world stage and say that he worshipped only himself and that all other gods were not worth honoring was pretty radical.

     Today though we live in a culture that is ripe for a king who will not serve any god. Religious pluralism and even the rise of humanism and atheism have made the world stage a veritable hot-house for the Antichrist mentality. The religious scene is well set for Antichrist to walk on stage. No one doubts that. The political blocking is almost complete. His entrance is prepared.

     But I have something to say to Christians  who realize that hour is late and the entr’acte is about to begin. If Antichrist serves a god of fortresses, so do we. In fact “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run into it and they are safe.” Proverbs 18:10 NIV

        Our fortress is secure and the name of the Lord is  our defense in every situation. Even as the world stage gets set for the coming of the man of lawlessness the power of prayer in the name of Jesus will never fail. When Jesus comes he will find a church that is operating still in the power of the Holy Spirit and seeing prayers answered supernaturally where no natural means of answer exist!

     “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” John 14: 12,13 KJV

     You see Antichrist may serve a god of fortresses. But we serve our God who is himself a Fortress!

Daniel: The Conspiracy King

     Have you seen the ads on television sponsored by the Masons? Ben Franklin is depicted encouraging young people to consider joining the order as many famous folk throughout history have. Apparently the Masonic Order is doing a membership drive. I’m assuming this means that membership is down. How would we know really? I mean, do secret societies publish their rosters?

     My son had an interesting experience with this a few weeks ago which rattled him enough to make him call for my advice.

     He works at Radio Shack in a town near his college. He wears a name tag and being fairly gregarious he is known by most of the merchants in the strip mall where he is located; So when the first Mason came in and said “Joe you would make a great addition to our chapter.” He didn’t think much about it.

     When the second Mason approached him at work the next day using the same words and buying the same item as the first guy  Joe thought it a little strange.

      However, when the third guy visited the next day buying a third like item and suggesting the same thing, my son was beginning to get freaked out.

     On the fourth day another Mason came in buying again the same item as his predecessors. This time though he said , “it seems some of your family members were good Masons. You should consider joining.”

     Joe was on the phone with me as soon as the guy left.

     Both my father and grandfather were members of the society. I think my grandmother was Order of the Eastern Star. My father was a member of the Masonic order in West Berlin and my grandfather haled from the chapter in Winchendon MA, How the Masonic Chapter of Philadelphia became privy to that information, how they tracked down the great-grandson of one of their former members four states away or even why they would is beyond me.

     Frankly secret societies like the Mason’s have always hovered in my imagination somewhere between the mysterious and the darkly creepy. The situation my son was involved in bordered more on the latter than the former.

     The Book of Daniel talks about a power more dark, sinister and hidden than any other  secret society on the face of the planet ever dreamed of being.

      “”After this period of sixty-two sets of seven,  the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple. The end will come with a flood, and war and its miseries are decreed from that time to the very end. He will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of seven,  but after half this time, he will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. Then as a climax to all his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration,  until the end that has been decreed is poured out on this defiler.” Dan: 9:26,27 NLT

      This king is anti-Christ who is coming. Many believe that he is coming to power in the aftermath of the Battle of Gog and Magog. Some think it will be that battle that will launch him into the position of world leader he so craves. But here is the secret and hidden part. He is already in the world, has been for millenia. He has been jumping leader to leader for countless centuries.

    John wrote this about him, “Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have appeared. From this we know that the end of the world has come.” I John 2:18 NLT

     Daniel indicated that this demonic power would be manifest first in an individual who would lay low the city of Jerusalem shortly after the death of Messiah. This happened in 70 A.D. under the leadership of the Emperor Nero. A likelier character for antichrist was never found during the time. However Nero did not accomplish the other items on the Daniel 9 list.

        AntiChrist moved on after Nero and he has been working behind the scenes of world politics moving his agenda forward ever since. Who knows where he has rested his head in the last two Millenia? Dracula? The Borgia Popes? Hitler? Stalin?

     Wherever he has been, wherever he is, we know what he is looking for. He is awaiting the event which will launch him to the position of Commander-in-Chief of the world, a position he has never come close to before now. A world war fought over Israel from which he will broker a peace treaty will bring him that prize he has so longed for.

     What do you think the governments of Earth would give to the man who could bring peace to the Middle East? I bet his secret society wouldn’t need to run television ads to get members.


      So much has been written about what the next step is for Earth. Israel is now a sovereign nation, meaning the world has now crossed the line definitively into the “last days”. But what comes next?

source kingdom

     A war approaches on the horizon like the first fingers of the sun gripping the edge of the Eastern seas. Perhaps in Ezekiel’s time the battle partners seemed unlikely; But today we would not only say such a war was possible, most would say such a war is probable. The battle lines are to be drawn between a unified                        

                                                               nation of Israel against Turkey and certain portions of Mother Russia along with Iran, Libya and Sudan. Now I don’t know about you, but such a battle to me seems imminent. We have but to stray a little with the flame of diplomacy and such a powder keg will be lit as will set these nations to unstoppable war. In this regard it can be seen Scriptural prophecy seems far from fantastic but wholly credible.

     Ezekiel 38:13 indicates that certain nations will oppose this war. Possible dissenters are: Saudi Arabia, Spain, Crete, Greece, England, America, Canada, Australia, even Japan, China and India. Any of these seem likely and plausible according to our current world picture.

      Ezekiel indicates that the enemies of Israel will experience a resounding defeat at the hands of God (not Israel). The devastation will be so severe that it will take the Jews seven months to bury all the dead. The work of burying will be so great, in fact, that a whole town will spring up around the industry of grave-digging (see Ezek 39:15-16). Further, enough enemy weapons will be collected that Israel will be able to heat their homes for seven years by the burning of them (Ezek. 39:9,10).

     Now what catches me about this prophecy is its imminence. I am not so interested in knowing exactly who all the players are but in the fact that this prophecy could actually explode onto the world stage with tomorrow morning’s headlines.

      I have said before the church of today needs to be like the “men of Issachar who understood their times and knew what to do.” In light of the unfolding of final prophecy in which we live what are we to do?

      We need to be like the wise virgins of Matthew 25 who when the bridegroom (Jesus) was delayed in his coming, “were wise enough to take along extra oil” for their lamps. Matthew 25:4

How do we take along “extra oil”?

1. By being prepared for the battle ahead: “Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil.” Eph: 6:11 NLT

We must be mentally emotionally and physically prepared for the days that lie ahead for “These are the times that try men’s souls.” (Thomas Paine, “The Crisis”). We do this by taking all our focus off the world and placing it in Christ.

2. By Praying without Ceasing: This is more than just being aware of God’s presence 24/7. It means no matter what comes against you, keep your habit of prayer and pray about everything from the loss of a nail to the threat against the nation.

3.  By Staying in the word: The Bible is our source of truth and in the days ahead we are going to need to know it. Read and study it until you know it back and forth. John Milton, the blind bard who wrote “Paradise Lost”, could quote the whole Bible. When you get to that point you can probably consider a short rest from your studies.

4. By not getting involved in foolish arguments: There are plenty of things to fight about. Almost none of them are eternally important. Let it go and get back to worshipping.

4. By praising God in everything: Praise drowns out the voice of Satan and hopelessness. Thanksgiving brings peace. Every morning you should find ten things to praise Jesus for and spend some time thanking Him.

5. By getting Back to Church: I’m not just talking about going to Sunday morning service although that’s a start. You need to be active in your church body. You are a muscle of the church and every muscle that doesn’t work-out atrophies. Some Christians are as shriveled up as a paraplegic’s thigh because they refuse to be active in their church. In the days ahead such useless muscles will be amputated by God so they don’t hinder the whole body from getting into the Presence!

6. By keeping your eyes on the prize: This world isn’t our home! We have a better heavenly reward. No matter what don’t give that up!

Ezekiel: 37

     So whose going to be President when the world blows up anyway? Will America still be in the driver’s seat of world politics? Will the United Nations still be in New York or will we take Robin Williams’ suggestion and move it to some remote island and make it a homeless shelter?

     The time has come for us to discuss that part of prophecy which deals with the world order and political structures of the last days. While certain things are up for debate, the Word of God does give us a fairly clear picture of what will be going on in the world at the time when Messiah, Jesus, asserts His reign on the planet.

     We should start with Ezekiel I suppose and Chapter 37 is as good a place as any to begin.

     “The LORD took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the LORD to a valley filled with bones. He led me around among the old, dry bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground….Then he said to me, “Speak to these bones and say, `Dry bones, listen to the word of the LORD!This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Look! I am going to breathe into you and make you live again! …So I spoke these words, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as they had been before. Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Speak to the winds and say: `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so that they may live again.’ ” Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, `We have become old, dry bones–all hope is gone.’Now give them this message from the Sovereign LORD: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel…. I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I am the LORD. You will see that I have done everything just as I promised. I, the LORD, have spoken!” Ezek. 37:1-14 NLT

     Many people ask me how I can be so sure that we are living in the last days.

     My answer is simply, “Because Israel is a nation.”

     You see in order for God to accomplish all He said He would in the last days Israel has to be a sovereign nation shining in the world spotlight.

                                                                                         ( source:

Without Israel much of what the prophets spoke could be nothing more than science/fantasy.

      From 70 A.D. until 1948 A.D. Israel did not exist as a sovereign nation. The Jews survived but dispersed among the nations for over 1800 hundred years! That they survived with a national identity at all is itself a miracle. No other nation having lost its homeland has lasted more than two generations before being absorbed into the populations in which they seek refuge. Israel did survive. Then came Hitler.

     In the aftermath of the Holocaust (which many today are foolishly denying ever took place) national Israel was reborn. This national rebirth and the Zionism which resulted is a direct fulfillment of Ezekiel 37. Israel’s rise as a national entity is perhaps the single most significant indication of the times we live in, because its rebirth according to Ezekiel is the precursor to the second coming of Messiah!

     “give them this message from the Sovereign LORD: I will gather the people of Israel from among the nations. I will bring them home to their own land from the places where they have been scattered. I will unify them into one nation in the land. One king will rule them all; no longer will they be divided into two nations….”My servant David will be their king, and they will have only one shepherd. They will obey my regulations and keep my laws….And I will make a covenant of peace with them, an everlasting covenant. I will give them their land and multiply them, and I will put my Temple among them forever. I will make my home among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Ezek 37:21-27 NLT

     Since 1948 the creation has been holding its breath waiting for the return of Messiah and for the most part mankind has been blissfully ignorant that it could happen at any moment. Let us be ignorant no longer. Let us be like the men of Issachar who understood the times they lived in and knew what to do.

The Compass Ion

     This just in!  Scientists have discovered a new particle in the atmosphere which when combined with human DNA creates a series of synaptic responses in the brain resulting in a proclivity towards kindness, generosity, and patience. People who have come under the influence of this ionic particle have been shown to give large sums of money to charity, stop for people in trouble, and even help others at high cost to themselves.

     The ion has been shown to cause people to turn their lives around from selfishness and greed to become individuals who spend their whole substance on helping the poor. It seems to create within people an identity of morality, certitude, and purpose. In experiments done with people dubbed “directionless”, the ion has been shown to create a sense of well-being and drive towards bettering the world around them. For this reason scientists have come to call this particle the “compass ion” or  more specifically the “moral compass ion”.

     The ion has been deemed the cause of extravagant goodness in many of the world’s more altruistic heroes and heroines. Among those thought to have been exposed to the ion in high doses: Mother Theresa, James Elliot, Martin Luther, Francis of Assisi and Jesus of Nazareth.

      While scientists have only recently discovered the existence of this ion it was apparently recognized as a quantifiable entity by the ancients. Even the writers of Christian Scripture acknowledged its existence when they wrote of Jesus, “Jesus had compass ion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.” Ma. 20:34  NIV 🙂

     Y’know I just had these little thoughts bopping around in my head today and I couldn’t resist being a bit tongue-in-cheek as I continued our discussion from yesterday on being compassionate.

     Don’t you wish sometimes that there was an injection you could take or a gas you could inhale which would take away all your selfishness? Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a stem cell which would make the human race become entirely good? How wondrous would it be if we could release a biological agent into the water supply which would make people kind and selflessly perfect?

      Let’s face it we all want the easy route. We want God to force changes on us without us having to make any decisions, without having to feel any hardship. But it doesn’t work that way. Jesus will change us. He does want to make us more compassionate. He is constantly at work making us more compassionate. But the change is far from painless. It’s also not without conscious effort on our part. It’s not like tonight your going to go to bed Cruella Deville and wake up tomorrow Lillian Trasher (world-famous missionary to the children of Egypt). Compassion takes prayer, submission, and practice.

       Compassion, though, is a requirement for God’s people. Throughout the Scripture God admonishes us to love:

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” I John 4:7,8 NIV

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”  Gal. 6:10 NIV

“”But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,” Luke 6:27 NIV

     From our study of the prophets we know that one of the things God will judge the nations for is a lack of compassion.  And that lack is the normal human condition. Sin freeze dries compassion like so many processed hamburg patties left over after a labor day cook out.

     Jesus said “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold” Ma. 24:12 NIV

     In these days, if we are going to have compassion in our lives, we are going to have to be like Paul who said, “I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” I Cor. 9:26, 27

      I’m with the apostle. If Jesus says I need to be compassionate, then I am going to do what needs to be done to see myself into compassion!  When Jesus comes may He find a church full of the compass ion! 🙂

Obadiah: Watch That First Step!

       At some juncture the point must be made that God is the judge of the nations and not just Israel. Some theologians call Israel God’s timepiece because by keeping an eye on where Israel is in prophetic history we can see where the rest of us are in prophetic history. But some of the prophets were not sent to Israel or Judah at all. From these men we get the picture that God feels free to step in on any nation, on anyone, at any time to deal according to His desires.

    As Judah’s run as a nation was coming to an end God raised up a prophet named Obadiah. Obadiah was sent  to Israel’s neighbor Edom. 

    Historically the Edomites were distant cousins of the Israelites. But ancient history had created bad blood between the two nations.  The Bible  teaches that Jacob/ Israel had a brother Edom/ Esau. Jacob’s actions robbed Edom of his birthright and  put Jacob in the place of eldest son. That was something Edom’s descendants had never forgiven.

     As Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian armies marched across Judah toward Jerusalem they burned and pillaged every village and small city along the way. Obadiah relates that far from helping, the Edomites actually aided Babylon in its destruction of Judah. The Edomites further felt themselves immune to the armies of Babylon because their cities were fortified high in the mountains. God told them otherwise.

     Obadiah writes, “You are proud because you live in a rock fortress and make your home high in the mountains. `Who can ever reach us way up here?’ you ask boastfully. Don’t fool yourselves! Though you soar as high as eagles and build your nest among the stars, I will bring you crashing down. I, the LORD, have spoken!” Oba 1:3,4 NLT

    The judgment from God came because of Edom’s lack of compassion for the suffering of the Israelites. “you deserted your relatives in Israel during their time of greatest need. You stood aloof, refusing to lift a finger to help when foreign invaders carried off their wealth and cast lots to divide up Jerusalem. You acted as though you were one of Israel’s enemies. “You shouldn’t have done this! You shouldn’t have gloated when they exiled your relatives to distant lands. You shouldn’t have rejoiced because they were suffering such misfortune. You shouldn’t have crowed over them as they suffered these disasters. “Oba. 1:11,12 NLT

     In Obadiah God answers Cain’s question from 4,000 years before, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

     In Obadiah God answers “Yes you are!”

     Now I know what it is to be jealous of my relatives to the point of wishing them ill. When we were little my sister got all the “good” toys. So one day I decided to take matters into my own hands. While she was out with my mother (at soccer practice I think) I went around the neighborhood and sold all her “good” toys. From this episode I learned Edom’s lesson as my mother’s judgment came down on my head in place of God’s.

    The point is that compassion is an easy target when selfishness and bitterness are in the room. Both were present in spades in Edom. They killed compassion. Both are present in spades in America. I think that truth is seen as compassion in our nation withers away.

      We must restore compassion if nowhere else at least in the church. When Christ comes he will come for a church that is filled with love and compassion regardless of its size, regardless of its wealth or worldly strength.

     I wonder what would have happened if Edom had taken the step of compassion God desired of them. Perhaps their own nation would not have been wiped from the face of the Earth. Perhaps God would have abundantly blessed them for caring for His chosen people.

    I wonder what will happen when the church walks in compassion as the world grows dark with hatred. Whatever they may be the results promise to be Earth-shaking. Let’s climb into compassion now! But watch that first step its a doozy.

Jeremiah: New Every Morning

     “Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath [them] still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.[ It is of] the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. [They are] new every morning: great [is] thy faithfulness. The LORD [is] my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD [is] good unto them that wait for him, to the soul [that] seeketh him. [It is] good that [a man] should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.” Lam. 3:19-26 KJV

      Our congregation is going to be singing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” this weekend for our communion hymn.  I wonder how many in the church have done a meditation on what those words must have meant for Jeremiah.

     By the time Jeremiah wrote Lamentations his beloved Jerusalem was a smouldering pile of ash. Probably the words were penned even as the prophet was embroiled again in a case of rebellious Hebrew intrigue. His protector Gedaliah was assassinated and Jeremiah was forcibly marched into Egypt by the rebels trying desperately to escape their Babylonian pursuers. It is believed that Jeremiah was martyred on this journey.

    It would make sense then that he would say “I remember all my afflictions and I have in my soul all these bitter disappointments.”

    What does not track is the statement he follows this up with: “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.[ It is of] the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. [They are] new every morning: great [is] thy faithfulness. The LORD [is] my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.” Lam 3: 21-24

    What is Jeremiah talking about “We are not consumed”? If ever there was a people who were consumed it was the people of Judah. Babylon utterly obliterated the city and carried off all its inhabitants into exile except for a few of the poorest.

     But Jeremiah goes on to say, “Great is Thy faithfulness.”

     You see, Jeremiah realized that while the children of Israel were being carried off into Babylon they were still alive. The fact that God had spared their lives was just more proof to Jeremiah that God was being true to His word. God was doing exactly what He had promised King Solomon He would do if the people were rebellious. The hope that was stirring in Jeremiah’s heart was that if God was faithful to the first part of his promise to Solomon he would be faithful to all of it. God would bring a repentant people back to Israel again!

    THere is a lesson to be learned for us here. God is faithful to carry out everything He has promised to us as His people. He has promised to forgive when we confess and repent. He has promised to grant eternal life to those who would confess and believe. He has promised to come and take us out this world one day. He has promised that every trial would only make us stronger if we walked in the power of His Spirit. He has promised to answer our prayers as we lined ourselves up with His will here on Earth.

     No matter what is going on now or what will go on in the future, God is our portion and therefore we can have great hope in Him! Always remember we win in the end!

Jeremiah: Life Is Death. Death Is Life

     I heard the voice of my Shepherd this morning as I prayed.

     “I am a God of resurrection. I am a God of life.”

      I wondered at the distinction He made between resurrection and life. He made it in the Bible, too, now that I think of it.

     “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.'” John 11:25 NIV

     “What’s the difference Lord?” I asked.

     In answer to my question I heard the Spirit within me say, “Resurrection is not just about the bringing of life. It is also about the removal of death.”

     I have to admit I had never thought of it in quite that way before and the ramifications of it stunned me, particularly in light of our current discussions on judgment. You might not see it yet. Allow me to explain myself and my line of thinking a little further.

     God is a God of life and of resurrection. He does not just bring life or perform resurrection. He is life. He is resurrection. When He walks into a room life follows Him. Resurrection emanates from Him. Death is removed just by His being in a place.

     Now I am going to say something which will make some of you recoil in disagreement. Ready? Everyone wants life. Most don’t want resurrection.

      Before you unsubscribe to the blog hear me out! We want to live. We just don’t think much about God’s attempts to eliminate death from our lives, our families or our culture. If removing death were just a matter of obliterating cancer or heart attacks we’d be more than happy to let God perform it. But the tendrils of death are twined much deeper into the fabric of the world than most of us acknowledge. You see sin and death are con-joined twins and death is not the dominant sibling; It’s just the least likeable.  It is sin that brings death and in order for resurrection to take place death must go. It follows, then, sin has to go with it. And that is the part of resurrection which no one wants. That is why neither Judah nor Israel would hear the prophets, and depart from sin, even when the writing was on the wall about God’s coming judgment!

   Here is what God told Jeremiah as he was preparing the man of God for ministry, “When you tell them all this, they will not listen to you; when you call to them, they will not answer. Therefore say to them, ‘This is the nation that has not obeyed the Lord its God or responded to correction. Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips. Cut off your hair and throw it away; take up a lament on the barren heights, for the Lord has rejected and abandoned this generation that is under his wrath.” Jeremiah 7:27-29 NIV

     You see God’s judgment and wrath are a part of his resurrection nature. Judgment comes to a people who will not allow God to remove death because they will not allow God to remove sin. Most frightening is the culture that loses the ability to recognize the difference between life and death, the culture that begins to say “Life is death. Death is life.”

    I was watching a television interview today with Ricky Martin. For those of you who missed it, he just “came out”. In the interview he said he had been on a spiritual journey and on that spiritual journey he came to the conclusion that God didn’t mistakes; So he had decided that his own homosexuality was to be accepted and embraced. I nearly wept. I do agree with Ricky. God doesn’t make mistakes. But God didn’t make him homosexual. Sin took Ricky’s good creation and warped it making Ricky into a sinner like the rest of us.     Sadly he no longer sees it that way. Like so many others in our culture he is beginning to call what is death life and what is life death. He proclaimed that being a gay man was “wonderful”.

     Homosexuality is just one of the issues we Americans really don’t want God to deal with in our nation. We protect it like a mother wolf defending her cubs from a bear. Really it’s no different from the immorality of idolatry which Israel and Judah committed. They defended their right to worship as they wanted in the same way.

     But God is a God of resurrection. Resurrection for Him is not a choice it’s a result of His existence and so He will have it. He will remove death eventually and with it sin. Those who stand to defend sin will be moved out of the way and sin will be done away with.

      Now some will say ” Well if resurrection is not a choice for God, sin is not a choice for me. It is just the way I am.” God made a way, He sent His son Jesus to not only forgive our sin but to give us strength to change from our sin and become children of God. This is what John meant when he wrote, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” John 1:12 NIV

     For this to be true, though, we have to get out of the way of God’s resurrection power and let him remove sin and death. We have seen the ramifications of not allowing the Resurrection to do His work peaceably before. May our God have mercy.

Jeremiah: He Knows

     “The LORD gave me a message. He said, ‘I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my spokesman to the world.’

      ” ‘O Sovereign LORD,’ I said, ‘I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!’ ”

      ” ‘Don’t say that,’ the LORD replied, ‘for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you.’ ”

     ” ‘And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and take care of you. I, the LORD, have spoken!’ ”

     “Then the LORD touched my mouth and said, ‘See, I have put my words in your mouth! Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. You are to uproot some and tear them down, to destroy and overthrow them. You are to build others up and plant them.’ ” Jeremiah 1:4-10 NLT

     Jeremiah like his fellow prophets was born destined for greatness and hardship. From  the beginning this man, this priest, was chosen to have the Holy Spirit rest upon his soul in a supernatural way that would cause him to carry God-vision to the people he served.

     Jeremiah had the dubious privilege of being the final warning bell before judgment. He then was permitted to see the fulfillment of all which the prophets, himself included, had promised was coming. By the time the circle of destruction was complete this  man of God, called the weeping prophet,  had lived through a two-year siege of Jerusalem. He had watched as her citizens were reduced to drinking their own urine and eating their children as the little ones succumbed to starvation. Jeremiah himself  lived under almost constant threat of prison and death. His detractors accused him of treason  and tried to drown him in a well of mud.
    His solace came in the promise of God chronicled at the beginning of the book which bears his name. God knew who Jeremiah was, had chosen him, and was going to be with him through the whole ordeal. That didn’t mean Jeremiah would live a pain-free life. It meant that though  he “walked through the valley of the shadow of death”he could fear no evil for God was with him.

      Some of us today know what it is like to be Jeremiah. I think of a friend from Bible college whose wife divorced him and whose family disowned him when he was called into the full-time ministry. I think of a missionary couple I know who work in Indonesia. They contend with volcanoes and earthquakes on the right and the threat of being strung up by the locals on the left.

     Many more of us will know what Jeremiah felt like in the days ahead. You see like Jeremiah we have been destined for greatness and hardship from the beginning of our lives. In Jeremiah’s day only a select few were privileged to have the Holy Spirit rest upon their souls. But today that gift is open to all believers. Now the Holy Spirit dwells within all believers.  As with Jeremiah that will cause us to be sent out into the wide world with a God-vision for the people we are called to serve (at least if we are obedient).

     Jesus said it this way, “On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Mat 10:18-20 NIV

     Our solace is the same as Jeremiah’s. He knows us! He knows our situation. He is with us in it and through it. This is no small thing. You see it was God’s presence that gave Peter the ability to bring healing to a crippled beggar in Acts 3. That same presence caused the apostles to “rejoice” after they were beaten for preaching two chapters later. It was God’s presence that caused a ninety year old apostle John to endure exile on Patmos with faith powerful enough to pen the Book of Revelation. It was God’s presence that gave Chrysostom the power to stand in faith in the face of martyrdom. It was that presence that kept Luther through the reformation. It was the presence of God that walked the martyr’s trail with Bonhoeffer and turned Corrie Tenboom into an evangelist after her family was murdered in the Nazi death camps. It was the presence of God that sustained Lillian Trasher as she worked tirelessly for the children of Egypt. It was the presence of God that held Jim Elliot as he faced the arrows of the tribe he was sent to. And it was the presence of God that went with his wife Elizabeth into that same jungle after he was martyred to preach to the very people who had murdered her husband.

     You see these people could all stand because God was with them. He knew them. He knew what to give them to make them able to stand. He also knows you. He will be with you if you are open to that. He will give you what you need to stand through all that is to come for you. Stand for Him! Stand with Him!