Prophecies: The End Times (Part 2)

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“Then Jesus told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you will know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have happened.”

-Luke 21:29-33

 

The pieces are falling into place, preparations are being made to build the temple mount, a mingle of both anxiety and excitement are growing. The Jewish people, once spread out across the earth are continuing to return to Israel as prophesied in Isaiah 11:11-12, Ezekiel 37:21-22/38:8, and Luke 21:29-31, not to mention Israel is coming alive agriculturally as foretold as well:

“The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by.” (Ezekiel 36:34)

There are so many prophecies about Israel that have come to pass! To list them all would take up much space, here is a link if you want to read more. http://www.eternal-productions.org/101prophecy.html

Are we the generation that will not pass away? Will we be the ones to see the coming of Christ? Time will tell us if we follow the signs and remember the prophecies.

Already, the far corners of the world are being reached for Christ, but there is more work to be done in order for Matthew 24:14, Mark 13:10, and Revelation 14:6 to come to pass. All countries have heard of Jesus, however, there are many tribes and groups that have yet to hear the message. Estimates show roughly 7000 people groups still unreached!

Lastly, we have talked about the signs on the earth. Though many prophecies surround Israel, there are prophecies about the world at large that are also listed under the link above. But what about the signs in the heavens?

“There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.” (Luke 21:25)

Other verses like Joel 2:30-31 describe such signs that very much sound like natural yet rare phenomenon such as eclipses or blood moons. Though this is just speculatory, I at least agree that these signs are worth looking into and must have a purpose. God created much of what we see in the sky to help us determine time, it is no wonder then that these rare signs may also be related to time.

Something else has caught my attention, it all started a few short years ago when people kept posting videos of sounds that couldn’t be explained. The sounds were like trumpets or drums and they couldn’t tell whether the sound came from above or below their feet. One video shows the sound actually causing car alarms to go off down the street. A pastor named Paul Begley had the idea of gathering all these sounds and playing them together and the sound is quite terrifying, like an angelic army marching to battle. Scientists believe they have found the cause, or at least have come up with some possible causes such as our core shifting or weather-related harmonics. Regardless of the actual scientific cause, these sounds are something new and can very possibly be a sign to observe. Here’s a video below of those sounds.

“The tumult will resound to the ends of the earth,
    for the Lord will bring charges against the nations;
he will bring judgment on all mankind
    and put the wicked to the sword,’”
declares the Lord.”

-Jeremiah 25:31

I share all this to give us hope and to stir us into action. There is nothing for Christians to fear, but there is much to be excited about. For every prophecy that comes to pass brings us closer to Jesus’s coming. Now more than ever, the churches must unite and fulfill the great commission of reaching lost souls. We must preach the love of God, not the fear of the end times. Fear may motivate people but it is not the tool Christians are to use, love is the most powerful motivator and it is the very heart of God. Therefore, put on love, cast out fear, and trust in God. Jesus is coming soon!

 

 

The Kindess of God

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“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.”

-Psalm 36:7

How do you view God?

Lately, I’ve have been thinking about His kindness, something that often gets overlooked. We know God is good, that He is righteous and just, but do we truly know Him as kind? The Old Testament displayed only a jealous God it seems. A God that had a temper and who cared very much for obedience. However, that God is no different than our God today, He didn’t change, the circumstances did.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the law, the answer God had been paving the way for in the Old Testament, Jesus reflects the very heart of God. All along it was in God’s heart for mankind to be united with Him, to experience His love. After the fall, we were separated, and God couldn’t go against who He is. In order for Him to be with us, there had to be strict rules and sacrifices because man’s heart had fallen from righteousness and to simply be in God’s presence in those days could very likely end in death. His righteousness is so pure that it completely destroys darkness, even if that darkness is in man.

The Old Testament represents an old covenant, a life without Jesus. After His sacrifice, mankind was reunited with God. He can now dwell in us and be with us without the barrier of our fallenness. That is why today, we see a God who is called our Father, who is full of love, and who is kind. He can be who He truly is to us because He has redeemed us into who we truly are. We have all been adopted into His family, have been crowned as sons and daughters in His kingdom. When He see’s us He see’s our completed self, and He see’s His Son.

I have seen His kindness in big ways, and in small ways. The big ways bring me to my knees, the small ways lift me up and fill me with immeasurable joy. Like a father walking with his daughter and noticing she likes something that to the rest of the world may seem insignificant. It is the little things that God does that show me just how kind and present He always is.

Some examples of these little love letters:

-God noticed that I love wildlife, and now every day I see something new or exciting, sometimes right at my window! Never have I had so many birds, and so many types around my yard! Each time I think of God. Even our country house is a testament to God noticing this.

-God noticed that I needed beauty. Working in a hot stuffy factory all day can be draining in more ways than one. I miss the beauty of being outside, the color of life, the intricate creations of God vs. manmade items and machines that surround me. As I work, and start feeling this way, I will often have a dandelion seed float past me, pausing just in sight and dance away. Remember, I’m inside a factory, the only vents we have are a distance away from me and they have fans in them.

-God noticed that I love Star Trek, it was immediate, the moment my interest was sparked I was practically given a whole bag of Star Trek books for free. This continues. Let’s just say I have quite the collection now.

These love letters continue every day. Every inner desire, even the small things, God shows me that He hears and sees me and that He loves how I am wired. He loves how you’re wired too, He made you unique and so His love for each of us is unique and complete. That’s why I love the picture above…it truly capture’s the father/daughter/son relationship we have with Him.

The truth is God isn’t angry, He isn’t shaking His fists at the world, He isn’t numb either. God isn’t sleeping, He isn’t ashamed or full of regret at our existence. Our Lord isn’t unjust, His will isn’t evil…..

God is Love, and what is love? Let’s look at the definition in the Bible, and place God in the blank instead of love. Now it reads;

   God is patient, God is kind. He does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud. God does not dishonor others, He is not self-seeking, He is not easily angered, He keeps no record of wrongs. 6  God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7  He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God never fails.

-1 Corinthians 13:4-8

This is who God is. If you still aren’t sure, If you still don’t know, look to Jesus. He walked this earth reflecting the heart of God. Every time he lifted someone up, every time he healed someone (he never turned a single person away in need of healing). He washed the feet of the disciples, He multiplied the fish and bread to feed a crowd, He pulled Peter up out of the water, He quieted the storm, He provided the best wine for a wedding, He cried over Lazarus, He raised Him from the dead! And He died on a cross…stormed the gates of hell and brought back what was taken from us.

That is our God. He is good, He is kind…and He is so much more.

 

 

Prophecies: The End Times (Part 1)

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“Besides this, you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.”

-Romans 13:11

Though it is impossible for us to know the day or hour of our Lord’s coming (Matthew 24:36/Mark 13:32), God didn’t cover the heavenly timetable completely. Throughout the Bible, there have been prophecies spoken that were recorded for a purpose. I believe that purpose was so we would better understand the signs today.

We are not called to understand it all, but we are called to see that time is running short, just as Romans stated above. Every day that passes brings us closer to His coming, regardless of whether that coming is in our lifetime or not. For the very sake of our children and children’s children, it is our driven destiny to do what we can with the time we have been given. Every lost soul that is saved, will bring us a step closer to His coming.

 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.[a] That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. (2 Peter 3:11-12)

So many believe that the Lord acts alone in this when truly He is co-laboring with us to bring about the End. We can hasten His coming! that should excite us, that should be reason enough alone to spread the gospel, to reunite our divided family, to reach out into the far corners of the world and dispel the darkness.

What time are we in? Where do we sit on this timetable now that we know we can speed up its progress? Let’s take a look at what we know has come to pass, and what is in the making. Starting with this prophecy told by Jesus, who is himself, a culmination of many prophecies fulfilled.

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. (Matthew 24:3-8)

He goes on to talk about us Christians being persecuted and many falling away from faith. But this will bring about a wave of new hope, as those Christians who persevere will be saved and a worldwide revival will break out…and then Jesus says, “the end will come.” And the sign we are to look for is the abomination of desolation which was originally prophesied about in Daniel, as an erected idol in Jerusalem by their enemies, or quite possibly the destruction of the Temple Mount. Which we are waiting to see built today. After this Jesus said that people in Judea would flee to the mountains and the greatest Tribulation would then occur.

The focal point of this prophecy is to take place in Jerusalem, and that is significant. As Israel in itself only became a state in 1948, and Jerusalem has finally been recognized as the capital of Israel only a few days ago when America moved the embassy there. These occurrences pave the way for future events.

Now, what can we gather from the rest of Jesus’s prophecy? Today we can claim that there have been rumors of wars, nations rising against nations, famines, and earthquakes.  So, therefore, we are at the beginning at least, of what Jesus calls “the birth pains.” Also, though the media generally ignores it, persecution against Christians has risen throughout the world. Due to the rise of Islam and more recently ISIS, Christians have been targeted and brutally killed in the past few years in great numbers. The Center for Studies on New Religions discovered that 90,000 Christians were killed in 2016 alone. Open Doors USA estimated that today, 322 Christians are killed every month. (Those are just some of many statistics that can be found)

Lastly, let’s talk about the advancements in technology, which have made sense of many prophecies that speak of “worldwide” recognition of events. Not to mention, have made it possible for us to annihilate ourselves which can be tied to what Jesus says in Matthew 24:21-22, after talking about the abomination of desolation:

“For at that time there will be great tribulation, unmatched from the beginning of the world until now, and never to be seen again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect, those days will be shortened.”

Technology plays a major rule, especially in regards to the two witnesses of God, mentioned in Revelations. It is said that they will prophesy for 1,260 days and then they will be killed. After that, verse 11:7-10 states:

“Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth”

 

Though there is much more to say, and many more verses to discuss, for now, I will end in saying that the times are changing, the puzzle pieces are falling into place, and we are a part of this great march, this walk down the aisle. The Bride must be ready, for Christ is coming soon.

God bless

 

 

Man Vs. World

 

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Dr. Henry Stevins had left his office Friday evening dreading the weekend. However, come to think of it, he always seemed to be dreading something. His co-workers only ever found enough courage to utter a, “hello,” when he entered a room, and hardly had any left to say, “goodbye”, when he departed. Dr. Stevins, of course, added this to his many reasons for being miserable. He believed that his co-workers were secretly out to get him when truly they were out to avoid him.

His patients found it even harder to relate to him. They quickly laid out their problems and waited for his response in uncomfortable silence. Dr. Stevins would sigh as he looked over their medical notes, adding some scribbles of his own, and then he would peer at the patient over the top of his half-rimmed glasses, and finally speak his prognosis in the most unfeeling way he could muster.

The patients would leave the room either unsure how to feel or ready to buy a grave plot. Dr. Stevins felt, of course, that he was underappreciated, and that he was saving lives and hardly getting the thanks he deserved.

He drove home in the rain, stomped off his shoes in a (to no one’s surprise) empty home, and trudged to his bedroom to change. Having had a draining week, and being lulled by the sound of rain on the roof, Dr. Stevins climbed into bed and soon fell asleep. (And I want to take this time to thank you all for reading this far, you see Dr. Stevins is about to have a dream that will forever change his miserable soul, and we must keep awake ourselves if we are to see how it unfolds.)

The Dream:

Dr. Stevins believed he had woke up, the rain was pounding on the windows sill and yet the weather channel stated clearly amidst the torrential noise that it was clear skies and high 80 degrees. The Doctor shook his head in disbelief, “are they truly trying to fool me?” He sputtered angerly, as he went about getting ready. He had his weekend errands to run, and he wished very deeply that the rain would sweep him away so that his chores wouldn’t need doing.

His first stop was the bank, it was crowded with wet people and Dr. Stevins’s discontent grew as the clock ticked by and the rain fell harder still. A lady in front of him had two children; an infant crying, and a toddler pulling at a toy in the babies hand. The mother struggled to hold the baby and control the toddler. Dr. Stevins ground his teeth. He thought only of himself and his misery, hearing the cries of the baby and the pounding of rain, he missed what the lady was saying to the bank teller.

“Please…Alice stop!…ma’am I need this loan, I have no place to go.” the mother begged, the bank teller smiled sadly, “Dear, I can’t give you this loan, you have to meet the criteria.” The mother started sobbing, this surprised the baby so much that his cries stopped and the toddler stopped tugging on the toy. “The restaurant w..where I work just let me go an..and I can’t pay rent, they want me out in a week!” The banker tried consoling her, but the crowd of people waiting had grown, along with Dr. Stevins anger. He said aloud, “finally lady!” when the crying mom stormed away in anguish. He thought her tears were nothing but rain droplets on her cheeks.

Next stop was the grocery store, Dr. Stevins was running low on TV dinners and evening booze. There was a time he tried to eat right, forcing down vegetables and sticking to water. But as any miserable person would agree, those weren’t “comfort” foods/drinks. And it only brought him less pleasure. (However, had he continued his healthier diet, he would have eventually felt better, at least a little)

He pushed his shopping cart along, it’s tires squeaking noisily on the floor, the aisles were hectic, with shoppers rushing about and kids calling, “Mom can we get this?” and store clerks assisting customers. Dr. Stevins went to turn down a different aisle when someone crashed into him, it was a young father, holding his little girl in his arms, “sorry sir,” the man said, repositioning his laughing daughter.

Dr. Stevins had finally hit a breaking point. In his eyes, he had trudged through rain, had to wait at the bank amidst a crowd, not to mention listen to a screaming baby, after that he had to wait in traffic because there had been a car accident blocking the road, once past that he almost nearly ran over a begger, in which Dr. Stevins thought a fool for standing in the rain. “The idiot is liable to catch a cold.” He mumbled, honking his horn. And now he had arrived at the store to find this place just as much in a state of chaos and had a cart driven into his knee. He sucked in breath and nearly shouted at the father (who was now positively alarmed), the little girl burst into tears and then….(this is when the nightmare truly begins for old Doc)

The Nightmare:

Right when the little girl burst into tears Dr. Stevins locked eyes with her for the first time and nearly broke apart, it was his daughter Penelope…switching his gaze back to the father, he now saw himself when he was in his early twenties. The whole store became quiet and he stood there unsure how to feel, his face was still red from yelling and his heart was racing, and yet tears were now pouring down his face. “Penny?” He sobbed, falling to his knees.

Penny had died when she was 8 years old from cancer, Dr. Stevins remembered it all in fine detail, remembered feeling useless. He would argue with his wife well into the night as their daughter slept fitfully. “I’m a doctor! And I can’t even save my own child!” He would cry out and then the argument would end, his wife, Sarah would kneel beside him and apologize, she would comfort him and lift his face to hers. The strength that he had relied on when their daughter was sick, became a thing to resent when after the funeral life had to go on. Dr. Stevins wallowed in anger and depression, while Sarah fought desperately to live again. They divorced within a couple years.

The Penny he saw now before him was the same age but radiant and healthy. The younger him placed her down, she wiped her eyes and said, “Daddy what has happened to you?” Dr. Stevins smiled at her between sobs and replied, “What do you mean sweetie?” Penny made a face, not unlike the one she had made when he couldn’t go to the zoo like he had promised once. “Your face looks like this daddy, why are you so angry?” Her face turned soft and searching, Dr. Stevins saw immediately how vile he had been for years. To his surprise, the store suddenly filled with people, but this time they were all silent and circled around him. He dared look them in the eyes and recognized them immediately. He saw his patients, his co-workers, his young wife, and more recently, the woman from the bank with her now quiet children. To his left, he spotted the begger, and a man he didn’t know who looked as if he had been in a car wreck.

The doctor within made him lurch toward him, “sir are you alright?” the man stood and smiled sadly, this made Dr. Stevins pause, “who are you?” he stepped forward and said, “I’m the man whose car was hit by a drunk driver today, the crash backed up traffic, you were the one who laid on the horn and grew impatient at waiting for me to be hauled away.” Dr. Stevins blinked in shock, “I…I’m sorry…” He turned his gaze away in shame and saw the lady from the bank. She stepped forward and said, “I am a single mother, trying to survive. I have no idea what to do…but I am the only one who can do it.” Dr. Stevins finally heard her voice amidst the rain and crying at the bank. “I’m sorry I didn’t hear you or notice you were even crying.” He said softly. And so it went around the circle, each person telling their story and their hurt, and Dr. Stevins realizing that he had been a part of it or had failed to notice them.

He both heard and felt their pain as if it was his own, as his patients told their stories he broke down again in tears. He had made them feel uncared for, had put them through undue pain and suffering as they feared their prognoses. Dr. Stevins covered his face with his hands, “I have failed as a doctor and as a father.” He felt like the lowest scum of the earth and before he could sink any lower he felt his daughter pull his hands away from his eyes and say, “daddy I still love you, please don’t cry.” He looked at her and hugged her close, “I’m so sorry Penny, have you watched it all? Have you seen me become this monster?” She nodded her head and kissed his cheek, “daddy, I never leave your side.” He looked at her in wonder, and in an instant, it all vanished.

Reality:

The sound of the alarm clock wrenched him back to reality. He awoke with a start and realized that he had cried all over his pillow. The window curtains were closed but a ray of light burst through, he opened them to reveal a beautiful day. The weather channel said blue skies and 80 degrees, the rain had parted…in the world and in his heart.

Today, Dr. Stevins is a new man. His co-workers love him, his patients have grown to respect him and always leave his office feeling reassured and full of hope. In public, you would be hard-pressed to see Dr. Stevins alone, as he is always ready to help and serve others. The begger on the corner even calls him a friend.

Sometimes people ask him why he lives alone, as they see him as quite a man…to this he always replies the same, “I’m never alone.”

A smile lights his face as he imagines his daughter trotting beside him, “I could find many reasons to give up, but they do not compare to the overflowing number of reasons to keep going…to live.” Dr. Stevins looked over at Sarah, “It was me against the world then, I’m sorry I pushed you away…I’m not asking for you to forgive me, but will you consider getting a cup of coffee?” She turned her head away and looked out at the rain hitting the pavement, and smiled.

 

 

Star Trek: Quotes

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“A man either lives life as it happens to him, meets it head-on and licks it, or he turns his back on it and starts to wither away.” 

-Dr. Boyce, “The Menagerie,” (“The Cage”)

I heard about a man retiring from a factory, he had worked for 70+ years. Everyone was excited for him, but when asked, “are you ready to retire?” he replied, “no, I’m afraid that if I retire I will start to die.” You see, he had worked for so long, a life of ease sounded like a death sentence, and quite honestly, without hobbies and other things to do, the body would undergo quite a shock.

The health of a person involves so much more than we realize. Too much of anything can be deadly, too little of something can be just as hazardous. We must always be well balanced in diet and exercise. And then there is our mental health. Though eating right and keeping fit helps our minds, we need to face challenges…to face life. It is as Dr. Boyce said, we must live life as it happens to us, or wither away.

Many mental illnesses develop from a denial or refusal to accept/face circumstances. (I’m not saying this is the reason behind all cases) But it isn’t hard to see that any problem left unattended will grow into a larger problem. Denial, fear, anger….if not dealt with at hand can progress and very possibly consume us. The mind has both the ability to face a problem and to avoid it-though at considerable cost. The choices of the mind very much affect the health of the body. That is why it is common to find mental illnesses accompanied by body ailments such as chronic pain, immune deficiencies, asthma, and even cancer.

So, I believe this quote is true, though we may think at the time we are protecting ourselves when we avoid or “turn our backs” on life, we are really making life more difficult long term. It can be compared to this image; going with the flow of a stream, or fighting against the current. Eventually, you exhaust yourself fighting and end up swept away. More tired and worn then if you would have followed the stream, to begin with.

What are your thoughts on this quote?

 

Dead Men Walking

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“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

-Matthew 10:28

This is part 2 of my previous blog post titled Death’s Defeat in which I discussed the physical death and its promised destruction. Jesus was resurrected and it is in Him that we now have hope, that though our earthly flesh will perish, our soul will continue and those who are in Christ will never taste death again.

However, there is a second death that we can’t ignore, just as Matthew describes above. The death of the soul. How the world is full of dead men walking, people who are lost and heading towards not just a physical death but an eternal death. That is the death that we should fear, not the physical death that all of us must someday pass through. It is the death of the soul we can all avoid as long as we have not yet experienced the “first” death. Where there is life there is hope, and it is on our shoulders to reach as many dying souls as possible before the clock runs out.

For those who find this topic uncomfortable, remember this. That we cannot experience resurrection unless we first experience death. That is why baptism is described as a resurrection. The old man/woman that was bound by sin and flesh dies and the new man/woman of God is risen up from the water. It is a casting off of one life and the taking up of another. For those who don’t see this deep meaning, baptism looks like a pool party. But to the one going under, it is a reawakening, a rebirth and it forever changes something in them.

We live in a world that is often devoid of depth. The ultimate fear is of a physical death that can’t be avoided. We fight it, every step of the way, trying to convince ourselves that we have time in abundance and that we can somehow reclaim our youth. I’ve discovered that it is often what we fear most that eventually finds us. What we fear is what we receive. Why is this? because when we fear something we give that something power, a power it was never meant to wield. Our duty isn’t to give away our inheritance but to uncover it and walk in it ourselves. We are beings of authority, and that authority can be misused and misgiven.

A martyr understands this more than anyone. They understand there are worst things than dying physically. Again, to those who don’t understand this, it appears that a martyr has lost, when truly, he has won the ultimate battle and will receive a crown of victory. We must all start thinking like the martyr, regardless of whether we will ever face death in such a way. They are the examples of Philippians 1:21 which says, “to live is Christ to die is gain.” It is an honor to live for Christ, and yet if we die we are united fully with Him. What more can we hope for? What more could we live for? And, what could be more worthy of dying for?

It is not those who love that perish, but those who fear. They lose both soul and body in the end. It is time we rise, it is time we stand and fearlessly fight for the lost, not fearing the death of our mortal bodies, but understanding the unbending truth of what awaits those who do not know Christ. It is all or nothing. We have all said we would give our lives to God, what if our lives are exactly what will be asked of us? Would you still say amen? Would you still pick up your cross and follow Him? Now that you know what picking up your cross truly means?

We must decide, are we in this thing all or nothing? If we don’t decide, the world may just decide for us. Persecution is growing, but through it, the church is growing. And not a church that is full of lukewarm people, but a church that is fully living in Christ, and fully willing to die for Him at any time. I want to end on this story, it’s a dream that an atheist had. A dream that changed everything for him, told by Todd White. A man who I respect and look up too. God bless.

 

 

 

A Heart for God

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“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

-Luke 10:27

I was once asked this question, “If God never answered another prayer, would you still love Him?” Although I would be upset and feel alone if He ceased in hearing my prayers, I know in my heart that I would still love Him. Afterall, what He has done is more than I could ever repay. In fact, it’s impossible to repay Him for what He has done for me. How many of you, parents out there, would give up your child to die a horrible death for sinful people? He did, and on top of that great sacrifice, God has answered prayers in my life, has blessed me regardless of whether I deserved it or not. He has been my constant friend, a presence that I can’t live without.

So many times, we raise our fists to the sky in anger, asking “why?” and maybe, God replies with the same question, “why?” Why should we walk in greater giftings, perform miracles, and preach without first falling madly in love with Him? We get angry when things don’t work when people aren’t healed and church pews remain empty. We blame God for our shortcomings. The answer is simple, and maybe that’s why we don’t grasp it, it’s too simple. But it requires something that isn’t so simple to give. Our heart. Not just a piece of it, or a part, but the whole entire thing. And even still, our heart is the least we can give to Him, it can never repay Him for what He gave.

God gave us His heart. I can’t fathom that. His heart is perfect, wide, it’s love is never ending and never ceasing. His heart is pure love, unselfish and without stain or blemish. He gave us His heart long ago, and He will never take it back. Though we curse Him, though we crucify Him, though we pretend He doesn’t exist….though we blame Him when we fail to love Him back. His heart will always be there for us.

Relationship is everything. Do you want to see more miracles? Do you want to walk in power and authority? Do you want to be more like Jesus? Do you want to love others well? Then Love God, the giver of everything you love in this life. The one who taught you love, and brought you into existence in order to know His love.

We can read a hundred books about God, even memorize the Bible, and it would all be a waste if there wasn’t love in your heart. Let’s face it, without love, without Jesus, the Bible is a dark and hopeless book.

And so, I know that is the answer. When I fall short, when I lose hope or passion…the answer is always this, that I must love God more. The more I love God, the more I reach for His heart, the more my life will reflect it.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I am only a ringing gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have absolute faith so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and exult in the surrender of my body, but have not love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

This Side of Paradise

beautiful woods

It was a planet like no other, beautiful beyond compare, with constant blue skies, cool springs, blooming flowers, and the laughter of many adults. They all lived in bliss and harmony and welcomed other races from other worlds without cause for fear of the unknown because they had never known suffering or war.

But something was amiss in this paradise, with the visitation of other worlds, they discovered the joy of children, something that they had never had the need for. In their perfect world, death was unheard of, and illnesses a thing of imagination. And so, in time, what they sought became a reality, and a woman gave birth to a son. The first child in many years. He was named, Akin, a name that they had heard from another world. It rolled off the tongue, and unbeknownst to them, it meant “hero.” A label that they wouldn’t understand, even if it was described to them.

He was a fair-minded boy, with dark brown hair that shined in the sunlight, and deep blue eyes that made one think of the sea. His laughter and play turned the heads of all those passing by, it was a sound never before heard, and cherished above all else. His mother often hid him among the trees near their home, or in the fragrant gardens because of the attention his presence would draw.

Despite the immense joy Akin brought, he also brought challenges to this once parentless world. He often was disobedient and would venture out away from his home without permission. When finally found, he would ask questions that his mother couldn’t answer, for she had never once thought to ask such questions. He asked why things were what they were and repeated his question in various ways. Walking in the garden he asked why the flower bloomed, why the sky was blue, and how the ground was wet. His mother grew confused and somewhat worried about his continuous curiosity.

As he grew his questions grew harder, deeper, and broader. He asked why he existed, He asked about how their world came to be, and he began to feel alone and misunderstood in this paradise land. One question troubled him most, as near his home he often watched the alien spaceships dock. The most interesting of races would appear and explore their gardens and forests and wellsprings. As this happened Akin observed as the alien’s spaceships were moved, dismantled, or sold. The alien visitors would return to the dock and from there Akin wouldn’t see them take off again to the stars. 

What happened to them? Akin would wonder, feeling the pangs of apprehension rise yet not knowing what this feeling was. He finally asked his mother one day as they played out in the meadow, jumping about he asked what happened to the visitors and their ships, he explained how they came and never took off again. His mother merely laughed and replied, “son, you know I live to be your mother, those questions of yours are behind me, I am content and complete, why would I wonder about such things?” Akin was dismayed but he decided in his heart that this question would be answered, even if it meant he would have to seek it out himself.

Silhouette of Mother and Young Child Holding Hands at Sunset

And so nightfall came, and he did as he had done before. He crept from his bed, and climbed from his window, plopping softly on the grass just below. Living up to his name, Akin bravely jogged amidst the trees and stirring of critters both large and small. He smiled as he ran through a field of fireflies, like those of earth but far greater, with flashing lights of blues, greens, and reds. Their wings tickled his ears and he swatted them away gently and ran on.

The lights of the spacedock came into view, he saw a fence and used a nearby tree to cross over it. He felt for the first time a twinge of fear, as he ducked behind ships and around various containers. One ship caught his eye, it was beautiful, like that of chiseled marble. It reflected the overhead lights and cast them in all directions. Akin longed to touch it and so he army crawled towards it. People walked around patrolling nearby, but they had no reason to be watchful, no one had ever crossed their fence before. Akin’s eyes grew big as he placed his hand on the cool material, and they grew bigger still when a panel opened with a soft hiss allowing him entrance into the ship. He glanced left and right and dove in, the panel closing behind him.

He was greeted with the beeping and swirlings of lights, dials, buttons, and screens. This entertained him awhile until he felt his belly jolt. The ship was being lowered into the ground. He pushed his face into the viewport, trying to see what was happening. It was dark for a moment and then a subtle light brought everything to view.

It was a world within a world, at least that is how it appeared to Akin. He felt his heart race as the feeling of apprehension returned full force. He watched as all the alien visitors he had ever seen passed by with heads sunk and faces dirty. They wore nothing but rags and they all seemed to either be heading somewhere they didn’t want to go or doing something they didn’t want to do. He saw machines made of various alien materials with pipes and wires stretching overhead like spiderwebs. Aliens were working the machines. Akin could barely read, but he made out the words “weather control” and “fresh springs” on a couple of machines nearby.

A great pounding began on the outside of his ship, he covered his ears in terror and watched hopelessly as small pinpricks of light appeared all over the ship walls, the light grew and the sound of pounding increased as the beautiful ship was dismantled before his very eyes. The aliens froze one by one as they took sight of his cowering form.

This was very wrong, Akin knew in his heart. And something must be done. He took off running and was relieved to not hear the footfalls of pursuit behind him. He grabbed one of the dismantle hammers on the ground and took towards the “Weather Control” machine. He wacked it hard on its buttons and dials and heard shouts in his wake as he dashed to another labeled, “vegetation”, he made it to two other machines till rough hands pried him away in shock. They didn’t say a word but looked with open mouths as the machines coughed and sputtered before them.

Above the ground, things took a different, more severe turn. Plants began to shrivel, the sky grew dark and gaseous, water springs began to bubble and churn. The land of paradise was in turmoil. The land of laughter filled with screams.

The aliens below heard the rumbling and screams above and decided it was their time to fight back. They raised their hammers and tools and brought them down on the guardsmen. Akin watched it all unfold, he brought it all about…and yet the apprehension was fading…a new feeling was taking hold. A crippling sadness.

Paradise never existed. And though machines could be fixed and new aliens captured, the lie of paradise would forever be exposed. This side of paradise can’t exist without this side of hell to make it so.

 

Death’s Defeat

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“Oh the games people play now
Every night and every day now
Never meaning what they say now
Never saying what they mean
And they wile away the hours
In their ivory towers
Till they’re covered up with flowers
In the back of a black limousine…”
-Song by Joe South, “Games People Play”
We all quietly shuffled into the funeral home that was crowded with people who had lost loved ones over the past year. It was a “Remembrance” night, where we were all invited to share, eat, and be comforted. I had lost two uncles last year, one tragically and the other after years of suffering. My aunts were there, as well as my closest family members. Someone stood up to speak, and what I had thought would be an uplifting hope-filled message left me even colder inside. “Death is a part of life.” He said as if we didn’t know now more than ever. But with the sting of his words, he also stirred up anger in me. Death was never meant to have the final say, nor will it continue forever! I’ve encountered death, and each time it has never felt “natural.” It felt wrong, sickening, gut-wrenching, and unjust!
I know he was trying in his own way to comfort others, but what any mourning person needs to hear is reassurance that death is not the end! They don’t want to dwell on death, but on what’s next for their loved ones. And yet, he isn’t alone in what he told us. We try to make death natural, we accept death as a part of life that is unavoidable and when someone old dies we say, “at least they lived a long full life.” But what about the young children? I’ve been to one of those funerals too, and I will tell you it is NOT ok, or right! Death is not our friend…He is our final enemy.
This life, in this reality, is temporary. Like a blink of the eye compared to the awaited eternity. Everything here that we see, is running on a clock, a timer, that will someday stop. As Christian hymn writer Isaac Watts wrote in one of his hymns, “Death, like a narrow sea, divides that heavenly land from ours.” Though we can experience the eternal unseen realm, we are divided from it physically, until we leave these bodies behind our soul is tethered to this world.

But what do I mean by death being the last enemy?

Easter is the day we remember Jesus’ sacrifice. So many of us stay there, mourning at the foot of the cross when Easter is truly a day of celebration. Jesus rose from the grave! He didn’t stay in the tomb, but came back, forever removing the sting of death. That though we may age and die, we could live fully alive and at peace because death is not the end, but the beginning of eternity. That death would not be a thing to dread, but an assurance that someday we will be with Jesus restored and whole.

I say this to stir up hope, we have all lost someone…but I know that their stories are not over, only beginning. There is always hope for salvation and redemption, who are we to know a person’s heart? Or to understand fully the heart of God? His love is eternal, it is agape love, and His will is perfect.

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

John 11:25-26