Saturday, December 29, 2012

It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

Now that we've survived another end of the world prediction, you have to wonder what that's all about. Why do people care? Does anyone take it seriously? Is this just another ploy by Hollywood to sell tickets to disaster movies?

12-21-12 came and went without any report of the world actually ending. The zombies have not emerged from their graves, UFO's have not attacked, and we are still alive and well... at least as well as we were on the 20th.

So how is the world really going to end? The Mayan's don't know. Nostrodomas doesn't know. But I know. The Bible does talk about the end of the world, but not as a doom and gloom, but as a matter of fact. This world must pass away so that the new one will come, and it will be glorious. Are you going?

The new world isn't build for Christians, it's built for everyone. Jesus wants everyone to be saved. Whether or not you call yourself a Christian is of little consequence. That name didn't develop until a decade or more after Jesus died and resurrected and ascended anyway. Here's the short version of what's coming up.

The first event is Rapture. (This is debated in Christian circles and not everyone is convinced it comes first, but the good news is that we don't have to agree to participate.) Every real Christian is going to be taken up at the sound of the trumpet and meet Jesus Christ in the clouds. (1 Thessalonians 4) This is not the second coming of Christ. That comes later.

The second event is the Tribulation. This is a time of 3.5 years in which there is false peace on earth. The main guy in the news will be nice in front of the cameras, but a murderer in secret. He will negotiate peace with Israel and her neighbors, but underhandedly be killing those who oppose him. God's wrath is beginning to be poured out on the world and the first part of that is Him allowing man to just be as evil as man wants to be. Meanwhile, the temple is being built (if not built before then) in Jerusalem. There will be two witnesses in Jerusalem during this time proclaiming the Word of the Lord and no one will be able to stop them. Also, 144,000 Jews are preaching the name of Jesus around the world. At one point (I haven't figured out when exactly) an angel will span the globe telling people not to follow the world leader.

The third event is the Abomination that Causes Desolation. The world leader will go into the rebuilt temple and proclaim himself to be God. The Jews will flee to the mountains to the east. And the two witnesses will be killed and their bodies left in the streets for three days, only to resurrect in sight of everybody and ascend before their eyes.

The forth event is the Great Tribulation. It's 3.5 more years and God's wrath is being poured out against all creation. The stars will fall, the sun will be blackened, the moon will not be seen. The earth will quake, the seas be turned to blood. Animals and people will die. It'll be a bad time to be around.

The fifth event is Christ's Second Coming. The people of earth will gather a huge army and Jesus will return on the Mount of Olives. Jesus will ride out to meet the army on horseback. (The army of Jesus (us Christians) will be with Him, dressed in white.) Jesus will defeat them with the Word that proceeds from His mouth.

The sixth event is the Millennial Kingdom. Jesus will set up a kingdom on earth that will last 1,000 years. Satan will be bound and sin will not be allowed. There will be peace and rebuilding. At the end of the 1,000 years, Satan will be released and he will gather together an army to fight, but they will be defeated from the sky.

The seventh event is Judgement. God will judge the devil, humans, and the world itself. All that didn't trust in Him and follow His Son will be cast into the lake of fire. (Not a fun place, not even to visit.) It is then that God will bring a new heaven and a new earth.

The good thing about the end of the world is that a new one is coming right after. All we lose is evil. Now evil doesn't look that evil, but by the time the end comes, it will be apparent and we won't be asking God why. The trick to not being afraid of the end is to know that you're going to live past it. The difference between those who go into the new heaven and the new earth and those that don't is whether or not they trust in Jesus. It was built for everybody, but only those who accept entrance will be admitted. Give your life to Jesus and don't be afraid. The world may not be over, but for you, the world called "ignorance" is over for you now that you have been told. If you don't believe, it's your own fault. You have the information now. Make a choice.

When is this going to happen? I don't know. The Bible says that no one knows, so if anyone says that they know when, they are a liar. Want to know more? Ask, and I'll tell you what the Bible says.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Letter to My Brothers And Sisters in the Faith

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Faith,

It is an amazing trait that we human beings possess. We can bottle grief to experience at a later time. When I heard about what happened at Newtown, at this point, I can't bring myself to report it, I noted that it was a horrible tragedy and went on with my day. I comforted my wife that evening and life went on as usual... busy. But tonight, as she is asleep and I am not, I am free to learn the details and grieve.

I know what my Bible says. I know that God cares for each and everyone of these children. Jesus says it is better for a man to die if he just causes a child to sin (paraphrase of Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42, and Luke 7:2) so I expect this man to bear the brunt of the wrath of God. In Romans 12:19, God claims vengeance as His own, which should bring justice to our sense of comfort since his suicide robbed society of that claim.

I don't know if it's wrong, but I wish my name to be among the dead. And if it were, I wish that list to be a bit shorter. If it were, I could sit in the lap of my Father in Heaven, where those children are now, and ask why. And He would lovingly wipe away every tear. But from this side of death, I'm not faced with the question of why, but the question of how.

There are many factors that must have lead to this tragedy. As an American, I claim ownership for them all. As Americans, we voted God out of our schools and our government and our society. As Americans, by the choices of entertainment that we've made, we have promoted violence and hatred in everything from what we watch on tv to what we read in the paper. As Americans, we devalued life by promoting choice, we've taught our students that we evolved and have no purpose for living unless we are the strongest. As Americans, we value people because they are famous instead of having virtue. As Americans, we are guilty of sin. We have denounced the work of the Holy Spirit on our nation. We have kicked Him out as much as we can and denied His very existence. Maybe the words "under God" and "in God we Trust" should be taken out of the Pledge of Allegiance and off our money because as a nation, we're only under Him as a matter of position, not submission. And as a nation, we don't trust Him. We don't pray as a nation. We don't read the Bible as a nation. We don't even call ourselves Christian anymore. AD has been replaced, even in some Christian books, with CE. Counseling has mostly turned to medication. And the biggest problem facing America today is the Economy.

We need to repent! We need to pray! We need to get back into God's Word and start living God's life!

The next part that I have to say is something I believe. I can't back it up in Scripture, so I ask that you consider for yourselves if this is true, but I believe I have an understanding of the heart of God.

I believe His heart is broken. I believe He weeps. I believe that He weeps for the children, not because they are dead, but because the futures that He planned for them were stolen. I believe He weeps for all the mothers who even question if they can still be called a mother. He weeps for the ones that lived and witnessed the tragedy. He weeps for those who are distraught over losing a loved one. He weeps for you and me whose heart breaks for these people. He weeps for those who's hearts are hardened against Him because they blame a God they don't believe in for not stopping what happened. He weeps for the young man who has rejected Him in a most harmful way. That man, who did so much evil, is a man that Jesus still bled and died for on the Cross. I believe that Jesus weeps for the teachers who have to go back to work, for the men and women who have a part in investigating this tragedy, for the kids who are afraid to go to school. He weeps and His heart is broken.

I also believe that this man was demon-possessed. I can't prove it and I won't try, but it seems to me to be a work of the enemy. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy and even though this seems to have taken the lives of 28, it has destroyed the lives of many more. A bitter man is more effective in the hands of the enemy than a dead one. Not only are some dead, but other hearts are hardened against God, and this becomes fuel for the fire in a rage against the idea that there is some good super-natural being ruling the universe. The idea of free will doesn't become a source of good news, but twisted to bad. Instead of realizing that we are free to choose Christ, they say that some are given freedom to destroy. "If God is so good, then how could..." And we Christians come back with, "but God isn't allowed in schools," as if that is going to turn someone's heart to the Lord.

I think we need to realize that this is Spiritual Warfare and the enemy wants us to fight like Him. Make our opponent look foolish so we can feel that we've won. He doesn't care if an atheist can't win an argument, he's just happy that we're arguing with him. We aren't going to win this war by fighting.

What does the Bible say?

John 13:34-35
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

Ephesians 6:10-18

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.

We are commanded to stand, and to love each other. So when the vote comes to us, make the right one. When we have a chance to influence others, influence them for God. When the choice comes up for entertainment, choose something edifying. And when we are around each other, love.

It's okay to weep for those people. It's our natural response to go to God and ask questions. But we also have a job to do, and God has given us the ability to push our grief down for a later time so that we can be strong enough to stand as the enemy attacks.

Stand and Love in His strength,
Your brother in Him,
Jonathan Dow