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June 23

Thursday, June 23rd, 2022

This a statement I really don’t have to back up with facts or Google. Ever since I did my recent posts on Revelation, and since I am currently reading one with a focus toward January of 2023, I am acutely aware of the cults that have started because of an inordinate belief in the coming of Christ. Not that I don’t believe in His imminent return. I do. But I’m speaking of those “leaders” who pull people around them, somehow convince them of the hype, and then get them to sell everything and “run to the hills” waiting for Jesus’ return (which is usually on a certain date). Hucksters all of them; blind sheep the rest of them. They wait and wait and wait, walk away dejected, in disbelief, and a whole lot poorer than before (except the leader). They were conned by a con.

No matter how sincere, you can be sincerely wrong.

Jesus is returning, of that I am sure. My view of how, why, when, etc may differ from others, but He is returning.   I know three things about Jesus’ return which we must all remember:

1. Jesus made it clear there will be an end. All things will end. Jesus once said, “Heaven and earth will pass away but My Word will never pass away.”

2. Jesus made it clear the “when” is a mystery. It never ceases to amaze me how religious leaders say, “This is the date” (can anyone say Jehovah’s Witness?) and people will blindly follow, but Jesus Himself did not even know!

3. The Book of Revelation continually reminds us that when (not if) it happens, we must be ready. Mt. 24:42-25:13 backs that up. Life will be going on as normal when it happens. The Parable of the Ten Virgins show this in graphic detail how some will be ready and others won’t.

The ultimate question is not when or if He will come. The main question is Will you be ready when He does?

“Father, help me not to a ‘sign-seeker’ but to be one who keeps his eyes to the sky waiting and expecting Jesus to come.”

June 13

Monday, June 13th, 2022

As I write this today, I am keenly aware of what tomorrow will bring. Well, at least on the surface. As I understand it, tomorrow’s surgery will require drilling through 3 vertebrae to free up space for the nerves. (Simplified version). Like any surgery, things can go awry.

But I’m at peace.

I trust my doctor, who I found out during my consult is a Christ-follower. More: I trust the One who will guide His hands.

As I saw down to read for my Encounter Time this morning, God lead me to Psalm 31 due to reading something which piqued my interest. I decided to read the whole psalm. I’ve read it before-countless times-even underlined verses, but I paid closer attention this time. This chapter is filled with good stuff. Before I highlight a few things, please take a moment to read the chapter.

Okay…here are a couple of nuggets:

  • David is in distress. I think verse 1 shows that.
  • In his distress, David knows where to go, Whom to trust. (Verses 1c-5). I particularly like verse 5. Sounds strangely like words Someone else used (on a cross).
  • David trusted in God’s faithfulness. He knew he was weak. He even says he was in misery and had troubles (verse 7), but God set Him in a large place (v.8b). That sounds like a somewhat strange idea, but I take that to mean God took him out of the vice or squeeze he was in.
  • David trusted and knew who controlled His life (verses 14-15). His times were in God’s hands.
  • His last words in verse 24 are words worth remembering: “Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord.”

Good words for me, for you. We all go through times of doubt, fear, hesitancy, uncertainty, and (fill-in-the-blank). But God can be trusted through the those times. I choose that truth to rely on.

“Father, You are all you said You are. I know my times are in Your hands. I trust You to be in the operating room, to be with the doctor and nurses, and with me.”

I’m not really sure what the surgery will bring so I can’t say I will be back here tomorrow…or even when. I don’t anticipate any setbacks but I’m not in control of that. I do know I would appreciate your prayers and will try to keep you posted.

June 6

Monday, June 6th, 2022

Have you ever been to the grocery store to buy one thing and then been overwhelmed by the options before you? Take, for example, cereal (which one can barely afford these days). I have certain ones I like and they all begin with chocolate. 🙂 Chocolate LIFE is one of them. But there are also multiple varieties of LIFE.  Or how about ketchup or mustard? Generic. Store brand. Organic. Jalapeno. Hot. Spicy brown mustard. Yellow. There is even Catsup! You get the picture. And don’t get me started on the different types of bread or cheese. Sheesh!

Many people think or take that same approach toward God. We live in a pluralistic society where there is a god for everyone. Every religion has its god. “Take your pick!” “Pick one which best suits your fancy!” Hindu. Buddhist. Islam. Animist. And so on. Even God.

Many Christ-followers fail to see God is not one of many gods. He is the ONLY God. The rest are just cheap knock-offs. They couldn’t h0ld a candle to Him even if they could (which they can’t since they are just stone or metal). The prophets of Baal once tried that. They even cut themselves begging Baal to set fire to the altar. No go. But Elijah’s God-the one and only true God-displayed His power by consuming the altar and water surrounding it and the sacrifice. What a display of power!

Jesus once said He was the only way. Not “a” way. Not “one of” the ways. But the way. The supremacy of Christ is one of the core teachings in the Bible. Colossians 1 is devoted to that, as are several chapters in Hebrews.

Jesus above all. That’s a vital truth we must grasp and hold on to.

“Father, may Jesus reign supreme over all things, especially in me and my world.”

I have a couple of prayer requests to add to your prayers:

First: my friend, Ryan, and his wife, Amanda, left for Mayo Clinic Sunday (yesterday) and will arrive today for a series of appointments. I believe it is 3 in three days. Pray for their safety and also for answers to Amanda’s pain (besides Ryan). 🙂  Love you Ryan!  Jo & I have known them almost 15 years and they have become dear friends of ours. Their move to another town about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes away allows us to get together upon occasion. 

Second: Jo, Tami, and I will be leaving today for a short jaunt to Ohio. Braden plays a game tomorrow (unless it gets rained out). We will be returning home Wednesday, Lord willing.  That also means I will not be posting here unless I sense God saying something and I can put up with my phone. 🙂

Third: I have back surgery scheduled for June 14. Please pray that all goes well with the prep I have to do and that I stay healthy for the surgery. Part of my daily regimen is vitamins. I have to stop taking them tomorrow (Tuesday)…one week before surgery. I’ll let you know next Monday what the surgery is all about.

June 1

Wednesday, June 1st, 2022

Revelation 21. So much good stuff here I could only touch the hem of the garment as I write. but I’d like to bring out several items that struck me as I read.

First, please stop right now and read verses 3-4. Every time I read or hear this I see the scene from Titanic where the priest is quoting this while hanging on and others are desperately seeking last minute help.  But it is far more than a movie clip; it is a promise. There will come a day when there will be no more tears, no more death, mourning, crying, or pain.  There will be no more of any of the earthly pain we experience as we go “further up and further in” to quote a saying from The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis in the Chronicles of Narnia.

Second, there will be some who will not be welcome, the door will be shut forever (verse 8).  That list is devastating in its content. Throw in verse 27 and it gets even tighter. Heaven will not be fore those who reject God’s truth, grace and forgiveness.

Third, all things will be made new. In that newness, God will be enough. Verse 23 says He is all we need.

The culmination will be chapter 22. That’s tomorrow. But for today, I echo the Unicorn from The Last Battle: “This is the land! This is what I have been looking for all my life!”

“Father, there is both good and bad in this chapter. For those whose robes have been washed white, there is heaven. For all those who refuse, rejection forever. I have mixed emotions. Joy and sadness. Joy for me; sadness for all those who have and continue to say, ‘Get away’ to You. Thank You for saving me.”

May 17

Tuesday, May 17th, 2022

Revelation 13 today…spells trouble. For me at least. 🙂 I’m sure there are prophecy buffs who will make much of this chapter. And I suspect they would have an adequate explanation. But since my idea is to “de-prophecy” this, I’m going to focus on two other things.

The first is the beast which comes out of the sea. In verse 2 it says, “and on his head were written blasphemous names.” What could those names be? My take is that blasphemy is anything that denigrates the holy God or depicts Him as who He isn’t. In verse 5 it says he was given authority to speak arrogant words and blasphemies against God-to blaspheme His name and those who dwell in heaven. He waged war and the only ones he couldn’t defeat were those whose name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life from the foundation of the world.  (v.8)

The other beast reminds me of what we have today-false teachers who perform parlor tricks to deceive. Todd White. Paula White. Shawn Boles. Bill Johnson. Kenneth Copeland. Joyce Meyer. Benny Hinn. You get the picture. False teachers who deceive with false promises and false “healings.” (i.e. parlor tricks). This beast had a number: 666. The most imperfect number of all.

My take on all of this: Be aware. False teachers abound. They say things that tickle our ears. People misrepresenting God and His Word (blasphemy). Its all there and it is calling each of us to follow. Don’t! Stand on the truth.

“Father, the siren song of false teachers beckons. Help me to resist through the power of Your Word and the presence of Your Spirit within.  Help me to proclaim Your truth.”

May 11

Wednesday, May 11th, 2022

I’m dealing with Revelation 10 today. Again, I admit my inability to grasp the meaning of the vision John shares with us.

Several things stand out to me in today’s reading:

  1. I mentioned this in yesterday’s devotion. Maybe we aren’t supposed to understand. According to John in 10:4 some things were sealed and he was not to write them. I wonder if there are some things which are to remain a mystery…like totally understanding Revelation. 🙂
  2. The status of Jesus is seen in verse 6. That’s a pretty powerful description. Sort of like a description in a nutshell. Those words remind me of Paul’s words in Colossians 1: 15-17
  3. And this is admittedly, a puzzling one. What is he saying when he tells John to eat the scroll and it will taste sweet in his mouth but bitter in his stomach?

Does it refer to the future events which are to come? Does he refer to how some things look enticing but when experienced leave a bad taste in one’s mouth? That latter thought makes sense to me so let’s probe it for a few moments. Looks good -> tastes bad. I confess to thinking as I eyed something, “WOW! That looks inviting” only to realize it would leave a trail of bitterness in its wake if indulged. The aftertaste is nasty. I have a blogging friend, Sherry, who is a recovering alcoholic but hasn’t had a drink in…I’m thinking…seven years (I’m not at the office as I write this to double check). She blogs about her journey here. I’m guaranteeing she, nor any other addict, ever saw the bitterness of her “sweet” choice until it bit her. Do you think the adulterer did? Do you think the liar or spreader of juicy gossip did?

You get the point. Actions have an aftertaste. Sometimes those actions have terrible consequences. They look sweet but often leave a trail of bitterness.

Choose wisely. Meanwhile, for some help check out Psalm 119: 1-2, 9, 11, and 16. You’ll thank me. 🙂

“Father, may I realize every choice has a result and often those which look sweet end up being bitter. Help me to choose wisely.”

May 10

Tuesday, May 10th, 2022

Okay…so this is strange. Maybe I should say, “This is getting stranger.” So I read Revelation 9 & 10 this morning. Chapter 8 (yesterday’s post) included the first 4 trumpets. Chapter 9 included trumpets #5 and 6. I read chapter 10 thinking Trumpet #7 would be there. Nope.

Chapter 8 seems to continue the ecological disaster from the previous chapter and the first 4 trumpets.  The big difference was who was doing the destroying. It starts in an abyss and out of the abyss comes a swarm of locusts. Not just locusts-which are bad enough-but a swarm of the ugliest, meanest, weirdest-looking locusts anyone could have ever seen. Their description is in verses 7-10.  But the big reveal is their leader: Abaddon (Hebrew) or Apollyon (Greek) . Translated: Satan. I guess the clue should have been where they came from: the abyss.  (Sounds like a scene from Lord of the Rings)

With the 6th trumpet comes more devastation. An angel (trumpet) releases an army that rains down devastation on the earth. But a change occurs in the narrative. Devastation and destruction rain down on the earth but this time people are included, not just the environment. Sinful people. Those who refused to repent (verses 20-21).

I’ll save chapter 10 for tomorrow.

What does all this mean? Got me. Hmmm. Perhaps the answer is two-fold. One, devastation is coming for sure. Two, maybe a clue is found in 10:4- “Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken, and do not write them.” Perhaps we are not to know?

“Father, Your Word is sometimes too complex for me. But I trust it because I trust You and You are its author. I do not and can not know it all. Give me faith to trust You and Your Word.”

May 9

Monday, May 9th, 2022

Mother’s Day is over. Well, at least the “official” MD. Can I write about that? ‘Cuz that’s much easier to write about than Revelation 8!! 🙂 No? Ok…well here goes.

I didn’t understand Revelation 8 and its significance with the trumpets. So I “checked” and glanced at a couple of commentaries. Guess what? I still don’t understand, but here is what I gleaned from reading Rev. 8.

But first my soapbox. We hear a lot these days about the New Green Deal. In my mind it is simply repackaged Environmentalism. Extreme environmentalism. We used to call them “tree huggers.” I remember the old MacGyver (probably my all time favorite show) would delve a little bit into that subject. But not hyper. Maybe it was heading that way. I don’t know.

I’m all for taking care of the environment and I try to do my part. But no way is it the “end all.” No way is a tree or a plant or a species of animal more important than a person. It seems the height of inconsistency to see the emphasis placed on protecting an eagle’s egg or a plant or whatever, but not see the value of protecting a baby in the womb.

Rant over…now to this chapter.

The whole chapter seems to deal with the destruction of the planet. A third of the earth burned up, a third of the trees, and all the green grass in the first trumpet (v.7). A great mountain was hurled into the sea and the water turned to blood with the second trumpet (v. 8)

There is more than what I wrote. Each trumpet sounded by each angel carried with it the destruction of part of the planet. You can read the rest of them on your own.  (We still have 3 more trumpets to go after this chapter).

I guess my question is why do we worship the planet, and in some cases give it god-like status, when it will ultimately be burned up and dissolved? I simply cannot do that.

There is ONE who is to be worshiped, only ONE worthy of it. I will stake my claim with Him and not creation.

“Father, help me to care about the environment but not to worship it. It will all be destroyed in the end.”

April 19

Tuesday, April 19th, 2022

Have you ever received an anonymous letter? I’m not talking about the one which included a note of appreciation and maybe even a monetary gift. I like those kind! 🙂  I’m talking about one that was vindictive, accusatory, and just downright mean. I have, but I was too naive, to feisty, and to quick to react to respond correctly. What I should have done was throw it in the trash…immediately…and forgotten about it. But instead, I chose to keep it and try to figure out who sent it. An anonymous letter is a coward’s way of spewing hate.

By contrast, there was no doubt who wrote the letters to the 7 churches…and it wasn’t John.  The author signed them. He also didn’t mince any words. Take Revelation 2: 1-7 for example, the letter to the church at Ephesus.

Commendable:

  • their deeds, labor and perseverance
  • their lack of tolerance for evil
  • their discernment of false teachers
  • their dislike (hatred) for the Nicolaitans

One bad thing:

  • they had left their first love

What does that mean? I’ve actually heard several different possibilities:

  1. Their love for Jesus had cooled.
  2. Their love for truth had waned.
  3. Their desire for truth and love had been skewed. There was an inbalance.

Does it really matter in the long run? Probably not. The words are harsh, condemning, and not easily forgotten. How do I know that? Because of verse 5: Remember from where you have fallen and Repent.

I have this sneaking suspicion that the Ephesian church got one part of the equation right but not the other. They got the love right but forgot the truth. Or perhaps they allowed false teachers to come in unhindered and spread lies and pull their affection from Jesus.

I’m wondering if this is a fulfillment of Paul’s words to the elders in Acts 20: 28-31a. (Click the link for the Scripture )

What are your thoughts?

“Father, may You always be first in my heart and thoughts. Protect me from false teachers who come in like wolves dressed as sheep.”

March 24

Thursday, March 24th, 2022

One of the big things in the “Christian landscape” the past couple of years has been what is called “deconstruction.” It has been seen in many ways and involving many different kinds of people. It has involved “celebrities” as well as what I will call the “normals.” It might involve a complete dismantling of one’s faith to the point where they might say, “I am no longer a Christian” (Josh Harris as an example). Or it might be someone saying, “I believe in the Universal Christ” i.e. Kevin Max mimicking Richard Rohr’s heresy.  It might involve someone choosing a bedroom lifestyle, or a move to agnosticism or atheism or universalism, or a denunciation of all things God, or maybe even a total abandonment of family, friends, career, etc.

Questions are not wrong. I’m convinced every person must eventually come to their own faith. Hear me well as I say that: growing up we will tend to adopt the faith of our parents, pastor, or someone we love. But somewhere along the line we must forge our own faith. So we question. We investigate. We observe. We discern.

The problem many of us get into is that we are often taught what to think, but not how to think. Everything is laid out for us in 4 Spiritual Laws or “10 Easy Steps to…” Meanwhile, thinking seriously and questioning honestly is not encouraged. So we have young people and adults who become parrots instead of harbingers. We can spout off the “party line” but only because we have been told “You must believe this or that.”

I never went through a crisis of faith where I questioned by biblical moorings. I never doubted the existence of God. (I’m not smart enough to understand it all anyway). I never doubted the veracity of the Virgin Birth and that God became flesh in Jesus, the God-Man. But I did question my “essential doctrinal beliefs” like baptism, who was saved and who wasn’t, etc.  I HAD to. The other way was killing my spirit.  If not  for the questioning, I would still be stuck in the legalism I was mired in.

Because of the mentality of what to think and not how to think, questions are not encouraged. But even sadder is we have no idea where to stand and what we stand on, especially when times get tough or our faith is challenged by life situations. So we start jumping ship. Little by little we start jettisoning the things which matter, the non-negotiables, for temporary safety. We deconstruct because we no longer believe. It’s no wonder since our foundation was not on solid footing.

I do think it is good to question and investigate. But I also think it is absolutely essential to weigh all things against the Scriptures and that which has eternal value.

Jesus once said, “Search the Scriptures for in them you have eternal life.” (John 5:39) Don’t just take something at face value. Seek. Find. God has promised to meet you there.

“Father, may my searching be always grounded and come back to You and Your Word. May my faith grow as I question and grow.”