The Battle Within Continues…

Over the past few months, there have been situations in my life that have allowed me to see myself from the outside.  No, I am not having an out of body experience, but I do believe that God is allowing me to see myself as if I am an observer and I don’t like what I see.

From attitudes to actions, I have been able to see the “filth” that is contained within this life.  I won’t get into details but I will say that whatever has been going on I can’t say, “The devil made me do it”.  All that I have been experiencing has been completely my fault.

My personal belief is that this Christian life is not totally personal.  When Jesus preached, he did it publically.  The times when others tried to disprove what Christ taught was public.  Jesus died a public death.  In the 1st century church, the people laughed, cried and confessed to each other.  Even when James wrote his letter, he said to “confess your sin to one another”.  Why would James write that?  Why would James have people tell each other the problems and sins they face from day to day?

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” – James 5:16 (ESV)

To keep everything in context, here is James 5:15-17…

“And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.  Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.” – ESV

This passage is dealing with the effectiveness of prayer and the Christian walk.  If we live separate lives, doing what we want to do, praying for our own needs, then we have a prayer life that is ineffective.  However, if we live lives together, caring for each other, being accountable with one another and praying for each other, our prayers become so effective that extraordinary things will occur.  However, did you see the next thing that James writes?

“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours…”  He was a man like you and I.  He doubted, got sick and even sinned, yet he was given the opportunity to do things for God that were even against the laws of nature.  However, what is implied here is that Elijah was effective because he led a life that was completely surrendered to God.

Yesterday, I heard the story of a woman who lived the Christian life that was partially surrendered to God.  She read her Bible, prayed and even did children’s ministry, but she soon discovered that she needed to live a totally surrendered life to Christ.  She had been diagnosed with cancer and was scheduled for a pre-operation procedure.  God had shown her life was not fully surrendered to Him.  She confessed her sin and asked God to take over her completely!  At her next appointment, the doctors told her she was cancer free.

After reading and hearing her story, I went on with my day thinking about my own life.  Between last night and this morning, I realized that my life is not completely surrendered either.  There are times where I say one thing and do another.  There are times when I teach one thing but don’t live it.  I even noticed that when the times of temptation, instead of relying on God’s strength, I rely on my own strength.  There are times of success but more often times of failure.  Many times, I feel like Paul when he wrote:

“I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.   For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” – Romans 7:18-20 (NIV 1984)

It sounds confusing at first, but when I want to do the right thing, I don’t do it and when I don’t want to the wrong thing, that I do.  However, the responsibility is all mine.  I cannot blame others for the sin in my life and I can’t blame ignorance either.  Many times, I know full well what I am doing, yet decide to do the wrong thing anyway.  This is why I hate when people say that their addictions are “illnesses” and they “can’t help it”.  I believe that our society has given us a way out of responsibility in order to build our “self esteem”.  However, let’s call it like it is..sin!

Luckily, I have people that I can talk to in order to confess and pray for me, without judging me or demeaning me.  We all have sin in our lives.  We all need others to pray for us.  However, we also do not need to get down on ourselves for these things either.  Remember what 1 Peter 2:9-10 says:

 “But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.  ‘Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people.  Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.’” (NLT)

We are God’s people.  We have been chosen by Him.  We have been set apart by Him and for Him.  We once had no identity but now we are identified as Christ’s own.  I need to live like this but before I can, my life has to be completely given over to God, this way my prayers and actions will be identified as not my own but God’s.  By doing this, others will see the love of Christ in me and maybe even be drawn to the cross.

Continue to pray for me as I am on this journey.  I will pray for you as well.  Let me know if you have any specific prayer requests.  My email address is

God bless and encourage someone today.


The Wheels in Life Go ‘Round and ‘Round…

Do you remember the wheels on the bus song?  I must’ve sang this song to my boys so many times that I became annoyed at myself.  This children’s song talks about how the wheels on the bus go around and around, the bus driver drives around town, how the baby on the bus cries and how the mother tries to calm the baby down.  Many times, life can be the same way.  Sometimes in life, we can feel like our lives are just going around town, doing the same old thing.  Fortunately, life doesn’t have to be this way.

This past week has been an extremely busy one.  I go to work, come home and do three to four hours of construction at home.  I then go to sleep, wake up with aches and pains and do this all over again.  It seemed like it would never end.  Life would just continue in this busy, physically and mentally exhausting arena just to do it day after day, week after week and year after year.  However, this all changed last night.

As I was in my basement doing construction, I received two phone calls that allowed me to see not only how life can appear circular but also how life really isn’t that way.  The first phone call was from a bereavement service asking me how my family was doing after the ‘home-going’ of our close friend, Peter.  I explained that although at first this loss was hard, we came to the realization that Peter was now with our Lord and Savior so he is without pain and suffering.  I said, “Peter’s doing great and we will continue.”  The woman on the phone sounded surprised but continued to state, “So your faith has helped?”  I responded positively and we both hung up the phone.

During the first conversation, another phone call came through and the person left a message.  My wife asked who it was, but I responded, “I haven’t listened yet but will after I cut this piece of wood.”  As I listened to my voicemail, the voice said, “What is this?  You asked me to leave a time and date, your phone does that…didn’t you know?  By the way it’s Jay, call me.”  Excitement overwhelmed my spirit.  Joy filled the air as I yelled to my wife, “Jay called!”

You see, Jay is a friend and “brother” of mine that I met almost 15 years ago.  He had come to the church my wife and I were attending at the time, and we became instant friends.  Both Jay and I were part of a business that seemed exciting.  Time went on, when Jay said to me, “J.D., this business is teaching un-biblical concepts.  I can’t stay anymore.”  I decided to stay with this business and asked God to open my eyes to what Jay was seeing.

Shortly after praying that prayer, I saw people talking about how God wants you rich and healthy.  They said, “If you are not healthy then your faith must not be where God wants it.”  Something bothered my understanding of Scripture.  Did God really say, “My desire for you is to be rich and healthy?”  I started to investigate.

Jesus had taught his disciples, “Your need faith as small as a mustard seed” not a “watermelon seed”.  He had taught, “You will suffer because of me” not “Don’t worry be happy”.  Our Savior had been teaching the exact opposite of what these people were teaching, so I also decided to leave the business.  It was around that time, that I didn’t see Jay again.

Now almost 15 years later, Jay called leaving me a message to call back.  This is so significant because my mentor had met Jay at an evangelical training conference at Jay’s church.  They spoke and my name came up.  My mentor sent me a text with his number and told me to call.  However, I didn’t.  Life got in the way.

Soon after my friend, Peter went home, I received another phone call from a counselor who helped my friend Peter.  We spoke for about a half an hour and during that conversation, she mentioned she goes to a certain church.  It turned out this church is the same one my friend Jay attends and she was friends with him.  She encouraged me to call Jay but once again, life went ’round and ’round.  It wasn’t until Jay called that we were able to re-invigorate our friendship once again.

As life goes around and around, busy day after busy day, we need to stop for a moment and think, “Is life really the same all the time?  Am I running on the treadmill of life or a marathon?”  Life doesn’t have to be a treadmill, running and running, watching the speed and time just to make sure that you are in control.  Life should be more like a marathon.  You run with a pace that encourages you to go further.  People on the sidelines give you water to help you along.  Then once finished, there is a support system that helps you heal.

In our lives, we need to have people who support us, give us water and cheers us on to the finish line.  For me, Jay was a fresh cup of water.  It was as if God placed him in a place that was necessary for me to see that He is still in control.  It wasn’t until I lost a friend that I re-gained another.  I am looking forward to what God has in store for me.  He allows and wants life to be exciting and joyous, not healthy and rich.  God desires obedience rather than sacrifice.  The question is are you running a marathon or on a treadmill singing, “The wheels in life go ’round and ’round, all through the town.”?

God bless and encourage someone today.

The “Critical Thinking” of NY State

Before reading on, here is some “food for thought” regarding a story that NY State used on the English ELA exam for 8th grade students:

The Hare and the Pineapple

by Daniel Pinkwater

In olden times, the animals of the forest could speak English just like you and me. One day, a pineapple challenged a hare to a race.

(I forgot to mention, fruits and vegetables were able to speak too.)

A hare is like a rabbit, only skinnier and faster. This particular hare was known to be the fastest animal in the forest.

“You, a pineapple have the nerve to challenge me, a hare, to a race,” the hare asked the pineapple. “This must be some sort of joke.”

“No,” said the pineapple. “I want to race you. Twenty-six miles, and may the best animal win.”

“You aren’t even an animal!” the hare said. “You’re a tropical fruit!”

“Well, you know what I mean,” the pineapple said.

The animals of the forest thought it was very strange that tropical fruit should want to race a very fast animal.

“The pineapple has some trick up its sleeve,” a moose said.

Pineapples don’t have sleeves, an owl said

“Well, you know what I mean,” the moose said. “If a pineapple challenges a hare to a race, it must be that the pineapple knows some secret trick that will allow it to win.”

“The pineapple probably expects us to root for the hare and then look like fools when it loses,” said a crow. “Then the pineapple will win the race because the hare is overconfident and takes a nap, or gets lost, or something.”

The animals agreed that this made sense. There was no reason a pineapple should challenge a hare unless it had a clever plan of some sort. So the animals, wanting to back a winner, all cheered for the pineapple.

When the race began, the hare sprinted forward and was out of sight in less than a minute. The pineapple just sat there, never moving an inch.

The animals crowded around watching to see how the pineapple was going to cleverly beat the hare. Two hours later when the hare cross the finish line, the pineapple was still sitting still and hadn’t moved an inch.

The animals ate the pineapple.

MORAL: Pineapples don’t have sleeves

Now here are the questions that NY State decided to have the students answer:

  1.  Which of the animals was the wisest?
  2. Why did the animals eat the pineapple?

My son had told my wife about this story and actually found it interesting as it involved his imagination.  He also expressed that he didn’t understand why they asked these questions.  This was when I decided to dig a little deeper.

Apparently, this story had made several newspapers and has invoked critics from every literary and educational spectrum.  I read one article defending NY State’s decision to include not only this story but the questions as it invoked the “critical thinking” concepts that teachers are required to teach.  Conversely, there were many articles criticizing NY State on including this story as it does not accurately promote educational ideals.

Although the writer intended to write a spoof on the “Tortoise and the Hare”, the fact that NY State used this to test on “critical thinking”, is proof positive that the educators of NY State have no clue as to what critical thinking really is about.

When we look at the critical thinking concept, we understand that it involves a thought process that makes the reader analyze “outside the box”.  The reader is supposed to ask the question, “What concepts can I see and understand that are not explicitly written in the story?”

Here’s the problem…Each of these questions have answers, which have a numeric value to the answer.  Our children are taught that when we use critical thinking any and all opinions have merit.  However, this concept is not only incorrect but dangerous and here’s why…

If you are standing on a street corner and see someone ready to jump off of a skyscraper, you decide to intervene.  You go up to where the jumper is and say, “Please come off of edge.  If you jump, you will die.”  The jumper responds, “I won’t die.  I believe that I can fly and even if I can’t I’ll just land on my feet.  I have been taught that as long as I land on my feet, everything will be okay.”

Based on this very short story, here is where critical thinking becomes a reality.  Critical thinking states that based on the information in the story there is a person with the right view of life and death and one that is wrong.  How do you justify the thought process?  You go to what you know is fact!

According to the Laws of Physics, gravity is a known fact that draws all objects to itself.  This means that unless I am beyond the gravitational pull of earth, I will be pulled down to the ground.  We also know that according to Physics and Biology that any object dropped from extreme heights cannot survive.  We know this not just from science but from others painful and deathly experiences.

So which person is correct in their thinking?  It is obvious that the person jumping is not in his/her right mind.  The way we just came to this conclusion is called “critical thinking”.  We have taken known facts and are able to invoke them to come up with a correct answer.  If critical thinking only involves opinions and all opinions matter, then both people in the story are correct.

Our children are being taught “all opinions matter”.  But do they?  The word “opinion” is defined as “a view, judgment or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter”.  Solely based on this definition, we tend to think that all opinions count and are correct.  However, as we see from our story, opinions do matter and some opinions are incorrect (no matter how positive we think we are).  When our children are taught about giving their opinion in life, they will be required to give it based on evidence, not feelings.  Unfortunately, we are being taught in school, on the web, in TV shows and movies that all opinions are valid.

Remember the original story given by NY State?  I have to ask this question…Do you think 8th grade students are going to take your test seriously when you come up with a story and related questions like this one?

On a side note…..

“Poor Spongebob, his house was eaten by Sandy the Squirrel and her friends.  Now he is homeless, wandering the ocean floor trying to understand why Sandy would attack his home in this manner.  Now the insurance company won’t pay for the rebuilding of the pineapple home as it was not an act of God.  However, there is hope.  Sandy and her friends have been arrested on hate crimes against sponges and are expected to serve 5 years in Bikini Bottom prison.  Pray that Spongebob finds a new pineapple that doesn’t have sleeves and won’t be eaten by Sandy are her friends.”

Share your thoughts.

God Bless and encourage someone today.

I Can’t Wait for My Own Room!!!

This was the phrase my older son said as we were about to close on the house we currently live in.  He had shared his room with his brother for 7 years, was getting older, not wanting to go to bed but also not wanting to watch History Channel or Discovery Channel with me.

At the time we were in a two bedroom apartment on the 2nd floor of a house.  My wife and I had been searching for some time, but either didn’t have the money to afford the house or the house needed too much work.  Either way, the apartment was becoming too small for us and our boys.

The day we closed on the house, we brought the boys inside and told them which room was theirs.  My older son asked for the larger room, but we asked him, “What are you going to do in that larger room?  You don’t have friends over and play in your room anymore.”  He responded, “Because I’m older.”  Even though that may be a good reason for some, we wanted him to express his feelings toward the larger room.

The end result was that he got the smaller of the bedrooms with the understanding that we would re-finish the basement so that he could have a place to bring his friends and play video games, talk or just simply hang out.  He agreed.  Which brings me to this moment in time.

Over the past few months, I have been working on re-finishing the basement.  I ripped out all the old paneling, secured some unsafe walls, built 3 more walls, put up insulation and will complete the sub-flooring tomorrow night.  As I have been doing all this, one passage in the Bible that keeps coming to mind to motivate me to work even harder…

In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.” – John 14:2-4 (NIV 1984)

As I had done some previous studies on this, the translation can vary.  Here is another translation….

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.  And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.” – John 14:2-4 (KJV)

So which is it?  Is it a room or a mansion?  Well, if you look up the Greek and look deeper, the real meaning is “dwelling place”.  It may be a room or a mansion, but no matter what we think, it is a dwelling place that you and I can’t and won’t understand until we see God face to face.  However, that is not the focus.

The focus here is on what Jesus said next, “If it were not so, I would have told you.”  Isn’t it great to know that no matter what we think, Jesus’ words will always come true?  Don’t you get a sense of security and contentment knowing that Jesus said, “Not only am I going to prepare a place for you, but I will also come back to bring you there and spend eternity with Me”?

No matter you views on theological discussions we may have or read, this one truth is very clear, Jesus is preparing a place for us.  It may be our own room.  It may be our own mansion.  It may be a community center (just kidding).  But in all seriousness, it is good to know that the Creator of the Universe is preparing a place for us.  This leads me to my next quick thought?

I wonder if that is why He chose to become a carpenter?  Hmmmm.  As I am doing more and more carpentry, I realize the importance of measuring twice and cutting once.  I also am getting a better appreciation of how hard the work really is.  Jesus is laboring for us to make us a place we can spend eternity with Him.  He is working hard to get this place just right so that we can enjoy it with him, just like I am doing for my sons.

During the week, think about how much God loves you.  If you are not sure, then ask yourself, “Why would He go and prepare a place for me if He didn’t love me?”  Then read John 14 and find out how much Jesus love you.  He truly is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

God Bless and encourage someone today.

A 1,000 Years (Response)

First, I would like to thank those who commented on my last blog.  Your comments allowed me to study this subject a bit more.  After a few days of not writing, I felt that it was now time to respond to the comments using this blog format.

When I last wrote, I asked this simple question “What if I told you I did not believe in the Rapture?”  Simply put, I do not believe like other people may.  I do see where the word for “taken up” is from the Greek that we translate as rapture.  However, I do not believe this is the same event as the traditional teachings have taught.  I do believe this is the “first resurrection” based on Revelation 20.

Most times, we also hear thoughts such as the church will not go through the Great Tribulation as it is the “wrath of God”.  Therefore, the church will be taken away as the wrath of God is not on His people.  Although the sentiment is true, you automatically have to assume that the Great Tribulation is the wrath of God.  From Scripture, this is simply not true.

The final trumpet blown in Revelation 11 is the same as what Paul describes in his letters to the Thessalonians.  It is a time where God sends his angel to gather his elect from the four corners of the earth.  This also matches Jesus’ account in Matthew 24.  Then once the elect are gathered, the bowls of wrath are then poured out.  According to Daniel, during the Great Tribulation, the people of God will be hunted down but also protected by God.  If the people of God are already gone, then who is God protecting?

In Matthew 24, Jesus says, “For then there will be great distress (Great Tribulation), unequaled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equaled again.” (vs 21 NIV).  Here Jesus says that whatever events happen during this time will be the worst the world has ever seen up to that time and will never be equaled again.  Logically, we can assume that this time has not yet come.

In approximately, 70 A.D. the temple of Israel was destroyed as Jesus had predicted in Matthew 24:2, “Do you see all these things?  I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”  This was the very act of the Roman soldiers under the ruling of Nero.  It was one of the most horrific times of the day.  There were innocent dead bodies everywhere.  Roman soldiers had killed every one in and outside the Temple.  The Jews were once again exiled.  But is this the same as the Great Tribulation?

According to Daniel and Revelation, the Anti-Christ has specific characteristics.  First, he will be one who has abandoned the gods of his fathers (Daniel 11:37).  He will have a priest like companion telling others that he is God.  (Rev. 16).  This same person will make a peace treaty with Israel and half way through the 7 year period of time will break that treaty (Dan 7 and Rev 12).  He will then hunt down those who belong to God and Christ but they will be protected (Dan 7 and Rev 12).

So has this time happened yet?  According to historians, the book of Revelation was written between 69 A.D to 96 A.D.  Unfortunately, no one knows for sure.  However, based on the Scriptural evidences, it appears that this time has not yet come.  If the Great Tribulation had already happened in 70 A.D. then the book of Revelation that John wrote would only have 1 year (maximum) to come true.  If it was written after 70 A.D. then obviously this time has not yet come.

If the Great Tribulation is considered unequal from any other time in history or future, then the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. could not be it.  In the 1940’s Adolf Hitler hunted down millions of Jews.  This massacre was the worst the Jews had ever seen.  During that time Christians were also killed because of helping the Jews.  This appears to be a period of greater destruction than that of 70 A.D.

So why have I spent all this time on that and not the 1,000 year reign of Christ?  According to Revelation 20, an angel is holding the keys to the Abyss.  At that time, he throws Satan into it and binds him for 1,000 years.  The purpose of this is “to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended.  After that, he must be set free for a short time.”  Why would this happen.  The following is simply my opinion.  I believe that God wants to prove to the world they can no longer make the excuse “the devil made me do it.”  It is a time where our own rebellion will show even though there is not supernatural temptations.

After Satan is bound, John sees the souls of those who had been killed during a time of great tribulation.  Sound familiar?  At this point in Revelation 20, they are raised from the dead and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.  Revelation 20: 5b-6 says, “This is the first resurrection.  Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection.”

Later on in the same chapter, Satan is loosed and will deceive the nations once more.  He will gather all the nations and their armies and go out to defy Christ one last time.  At this time, fire from heaven will devour them.  Then Satan, the Anti-Christ and false prophet will be thrown into the lake of burning sulfur.

Finally, the rest of the dead are raised and the Great White Throne judgement is done.  If anyone’s name was not found written in the Book of Life, they too will be thrown into the lake of burning sulfur.

I had thought all about this over the past few days.  I asked myself, “Is this figurative or literal?”  Is this really going to happen or is it just an example of what happens to those in Christ and those who do not know Christ?  This was the conclusion that I came to.

The 1,000 year reign of Christ is literal.  The account of Revelation matches Matthew 24, Daniel and 2 Thessalonians.  The time of the Great Tribulation is also matched by Matthew 24, Revelation and Daniel.  The final wrath of God is also matched by these same accounts.  This conclusion is not based on traditions or what others have stated.  I have come to this based solely on Scripture.  Nothing less, nothing more.

When this challenge was provided to me, I remembered what my father taught me as a child.  He always said, “Never believe someone because they say it’s from the Bible.  Read it for yourself and see if what they say equals what the Bible says.”  This was the attitude I took for this study.  This same principle I am teaching my boys as well.  I do not want them to believe simply because I say so, but because God says so.

As I have stated in prior blogs, I am always open to other studies and what you have learned from them.  My only request is that what is stated is solely based on Scriptural evidences.  I have and always will challenge the traditions of the church.  If the tradition is based on Scripture and can be proven with Scripture, then that is awesome.  However, if it is not based solely on Scripture, then it is simply tradition.

Thank you again to those who responded the last time.  I hope and pray that you will find this edifying and encouraging.  Just because we may not agree on certain points, the simple fact that you believe in Jesus as the only Way, Truth and Life is enough to allow me the privilege to call you my brother and sister.  Keep studying!

God Bless and encourage someone today.

What if I Told You I Didn’t Believe in the Rapture?

This question has been one of the most controversial conversation pieces I have ever asked.  If there was a topic that was passionate to Christians, it is about the rapture of the church and the second coming of Jesus Christ.  In light of the times we live in, here is my current stance on the rapture and second coming of Jesus Christ.

There are many views of the rapture and second coming of Jesus Christ.  Many have stemmed from years of reading and studying by theologians.  Some say that the rapture will occur before the Anti-Christ comes.  Some say that the rapture would happen sometime after the Anti-Christ comes.  Some say that Jesus won’t come back and it’s just a myth.  However, what if I told you I don’t believe in any of these.

One fact is for sure, Jesus will return physically.  Jesus himself speaks of this time as a time of great troubles and not to look forward to it.  When Jesus departed after his Resurrection, an angel said, “Why do you look up?  The same way Jesus left is the same way He will return.”  Revelation and Matthew speak of a time when Jesus will come back seated on a horse bearing judgment to the world.  Paul writes that when Jesus returns “the dead in Christ shall rise first and then those who are still alive in Christ will also be taken in the twinkling of an eye.”  Will Jesus come back?  Yes.  So where does this “rapture” concept come from?

During the first century, the church believed that Jesus’ return was imminent.  They believed that Jesus would return with sword in hand to free Israel from the tyranny of Rome.  However, the apostles taught that no matter when Jesus was going to return, He would, taking us with Him.  Unfortunately, over the years, many educated theologians have discussed, debated and argued that it is not logical for Jesus to come back physically, take us in the air and then reign for a thousand years, as taught in Revelation.  But what if I told you that this interpretation may be incorrect?

When we read the book of Revelation, we see many figurative language.  However, we also see some literal language as well.  We see seals, trumpets and bowls.  We see 7 seals opening, 7 trumpets blown and 7 bowls of wrath poured.  When we compare this to other places in Scripture like Matthew, Daniel and some of Paul’s letters, we are told that the last trumpet will sound and then Jesus will return.  In Revelation, this is confirmed because the last trumpet is sounded and Jesus gives the command to one of his angels to collect the “elect” from the earth before He pours out His wrath against sinful mankind.

Then Jesus pours out the bowls of wrath and for each bowl the book states, that man still would not repent of their sins.  Even when they knew that Jesus was pouring out judgment, they continued to be sinful and rebellious.  After this we see Jesus reigning on earth for 1,000 years.

Now, I haven’t completed this study fully, but I have come to some conclusions.  However, no matter what I say from this point forward, I must encourage you to study this for yourselves.  What I say is not authority, just the opinion of one who has done some considerable studying in this subject area.

I personally believe that Jesus will start allowing certain natural disasters and wars to break out.  I also believe that he will allow economic failure and famine to reach most parts of the earth.  This is confirmed by Matthew 24 and Revelation.  These are the seals.

In continuing this, Jesus allows these disasters to be intensified.  In fact, I believe that when the trumpets are blown, we will start to understand the time in very, very near.  When the final trumpet is blown, I believe that Jesus will be seen by all of mankind (how I do not know), take His people to be with Him in the air (confirmed by Revelation and Paul’s writings) and then He will pour out the bowls of wrath for all to see.  It is during this time that those who are still living on earth will know beyond any shadow of doubt that Jesus is in control, yet they will not repent.

Finally, after all of this is done, I believe that Jesus will set up a 1,000 year kingdom where He will reign, lock up Satan to prove one thing….’the devil didn’t make me do it”.  After this, Jesus will leave, allow Satan one last revenge and then finally judge both the living and the dead.

The rapture, I believe, is an event thought of due to misinterpretations of Scripture.  Many centuries after the first original Jewish-Christian churches, I think many became afraid of the times and decided to see Scripture from their point of view rather than for what it says. Many times, when people tell me that I am wrong about this, I ask why.  They respond “because Jesus wants to give us hope”.  My argument is simple.  Jesus gave me hope the day He saved me from myself.  Therefore, Jesus doesn’t need to give me any other type of hope because no matter what happens in this life, I will be with Him in eternity.

Again, just because I don’t believe in a mysterious disappearing time called the rapture doesn’t mean it can’t happen.  However, based on Scripture, I believe that Jesus will return and then we will be taken.  That is what the first century church taught, so why don’t we believe it today?  What are your thoughts?  All thoughts are welcome.

God Bless and encourage someone today.

What in the World is Going On????

There is a question that I hear more and more people ask….”What in the world is going on?”  When they ask this question, I usually ask, “What do you mean?”  It is then that the dissertation of today’s calamities are brought to the forefront of the discussion.

They speak of the crazy weather all over the world.  They talk about the high amount of earthquakes and the destruction it leaves.  Hunger, famine, floods and other horrific events flood the minds of those who talk about these things.  So what in the world is really going on?  Before I can answer the question, history must speak first.

When we read the stories of the Bible, we see many different patterns for the problems in the world.  The Scriptures are filled with story after story where famine, war and other judgments are brought onto the world, but have you ever asked yourself why?

Currently, I am reading through Jeremiah, the prophet.  He was given the task to speak with Israel and Judah concerning the upcoming tragedies.  They were to experience war, slavery, famine and a feeling of abandonment.  Why?  Because they were not following the ways God had set before them.  God had instructed the king of Babylon to infiltrate Jerusalem and Judah to bring forth the judgment God had desired because of His people’s sin.  In fact, Jeremiah quotes the king of Babylon, “Your God has told me to do these things…”  God also calls the king of Babylon, “His servant”.  Wait a minute.  Is it possible that God uses the wicked to do His will?  (Here is where a resounding “yes” is inserted.)

You may be asking, “So what does that have to do with today?”  Let me begin by saying that I am not one to cry out, “Destruction is coming.  The end of the world is here!”  However, there is something to say about comparing today’s events to those of our ancestors.

When we look around and actually observe our surroundings, here is what we see.  We see weather that is unprecedented.  I did a quick study on the weather patterns, the intensity and destruction these things bring.  According to the NOAA (which tracks weather and informs of possible weather related events), there has been an increase year after year regarding tornadoes, floods and earthquakes.  The numbers don’t lie.  In fact, you see small increases for quite some time, but after 1947 and the 1960’s, the number of these natural disasters had increased almost exponentially.  When we study the intensities of these storms, we also see a huge increase as well.  Each year these storms become more and more intense, leaving utter destruction and sorrow.  These natural disasters are on the rise and don’t seem to be stopping.

More recently, many people are talking about the crazy weather patterns that are not considered natural disasters.  In New York, we have had snow in October, above normal temperatures and less rain than we have had in years.  It has been so dry that brush fires have been popping up all over the place.  This type of weather has been reported all over the United States.

What about war?  Since the 1940’s there have been more wars than ever before.  Terrorism in on the rise.  Hatred toward various countries have increased.  Nations are seeking their own desires for their own purposes, threatening war on those who disagree. We have seen groups of people rise up against their leaders, starting civil wars and hunting down those who they think are the enemy.

So what do we get from all of this?  Throughout Scripture, God makes it clear.  If His people do not obey His ways, then judgment will come.  No matter what our opinion may be, there are stories after stories where God brings judgment on the world because of the disobedience of His people.  So who are His people?

In the past, Israel and Judah were considered God’s people.  However, Christ taught that those who follow and obey the Father are His people.  Jesus taught that there will come a day when the Father will gather “He will call a people who haven’t been called His people and call them His people.”  This is what theologians have called “those in the time of grace”.  This time is today.

Let me “cut to the chase”.  When we observe the problems and natural disasters of today’s world and we see the increase of sin, we must ask ourselves, “Lord, what is going on?”  We probably won’t like the answer but it must be said.  I believe all of these things are happening for a few reasons.  First, we live in a dying and sinful world.  Death and destruction are a part of this world because we are sinful.  It all started with Adam and Eve and will continue.  Second, I believe that Jesus is returning soon.  In Daniel, Ezekiel, Revelation and other parts of Scripture, we are warned not to be alarmed at the problems of the world, the natural disasters, war and other such problems because they have to occur before Jesus Christ returns.  Third, I believe that judgment is being poured out on God’s people.

Now before getting all crazy on me, when I say judgment, I really mean discipline.  God allows judgment (discipline) to be poured out on the world because of the disobedience of His people.  So how are we disobeying?

When we don’t stand up for what is right, we disobey God’s desire for our lives.  When we vote for those who stand with abortion and homosexual rights, we disobey God’s will for our lives.  When we watch movies and TV shows that are blatantly against God, we disobey God’s will for our lives.  When we fail to spend time with God, give our money to God or don’t use our time for God, we disobey God’s will for our lives.  There are so many more examples, but time does not permit me to go further.

This does not mean we have to appear angry or hateful, but we are called to stand up for what is right and true.  Jesus taught the Samaritan woman, “There will come a time when the people of God will worship in spirit and in truth.”  We must not only know the truth but we must also act on it as well.  Our attitude should be positive, loving and desiring to do God’s will.  We can stand without making ourselves look like idiots and fools.

This message is not for everyone, but it is for the church.  We all must change our ways, thoughts and objectives to be in line with what God desires.  How do we know what God desires?  Scripture says that if we desire to know the will of God, we must first live and seek the will of God.  Simply desiring is not enough.  We must act on it as well.

This has been a convicting blog, but also an encouraging one.  Jesus said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  With every judgment God poured out on His people, He also gave them encouragement.  The world doesn’t have to be like this.  If we, as a people of God, obey His commands, we might just see a change in the world.  Then people might ask, “Hey, what in the world is going on?  Why did it just get better?”

God Bless and encourage someone today.