Saturday, March 24, 2007

The End-Time Temperament Emerges

When I was a new Christian in 1998, the Lord blessed me with the motivation and opportunity to study the Bible beginning first with the New Testament and then unto the Old Testament. As a still new Christian, I was up to the Book of Revelation when I came across a verse of scripture that really stunned me. Here speaking about the two supernaturally sent Witnesses that is to come to earth during the final seven years of the current world history the Bible states:

Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days men from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth. (Revelation 11:7-10 NIV)

As I read this for the first time, I was stunned that people could be so perverse as to rejoice over the death of these two men; that they would send gifts (presumably with the gaiety and glee of our current Christmas time tradition) to celebrate the death of these individuals. My immediate thought was what kind of generation would we have to be to be able to respond in this way? Though it wasn’t that long ago, in 1998, the thought of that kind of mindset among our culture seemed like a far away reality.

So as one fast forwards into the present 21st Century, I believe I am beginning to see in the people of today, the temperament and hostility to all things Godly that must be a worldwide mindset for the above scripture to come true.

The United States
Though the United States routinely ascribes itself to be “a Christian nation”, fully one half of our electorate is at best suspicious and at worst openly hostile to any references to God in the public square. We actually live now (and have been so for over 40 years) where our kids cannot pray collectively in our public schools. Most Americans spend their evening hours absorbed in the anti-God fantasies that are manufactured in Hollywood, and if not, we are absorbed in the sordid lifestyles of the celebrities of the world. Generally speaking, as a group, what does the current generation below the age of 30 have to offer to their children in the way of morals or a love for God? Theirs is a perversely narcissistic culture of tattoos, body revealing clothing and instant gratification living. Theirs will definitely be a lifestyle that will come under heavy judgment by any true Witnesses of God.

Europe
In Europe, the picture is far worse. Read the following excerpt from cnsnews.com

Meanwhile, research studies show that church attendance in Britain is dropping precipitously, as well as across the whole of Western Europe. According to Christian Research, a British think tank, only 6.3 percent of the British population in 2005 attended Christian services on a weekly basis. The group also projects that around 4,000 churches will close over the next 15 years, being sold off or rehabilitated for other uses. Reflecting a trend around Europe, British churches in the past decade have been transformed into restaurants, cafes, art galleries, mosques, and in one notable instance, a training school for circus acrobats in Bristol. Cnsnews.com
Europe is fast becoming an aethiest or agnostic continent, and this is possibly only transitory as it ultimately is on the way to becoming a majority Muslim continent. It is common knowledge that Europe’s replacement birthrate is at it’s lowest point in human history, as the natural by-product of an anti-God culture replete with high abortion rates and an increase in the acceptance of homosexuality naturally results in less people being born. This phenomena almost becomes irreversible in the absence of some large-scale social change in the thought patterns of the citizenry. Meanwhile as Muslims emigrate in large numbers to European countries, their birth rate far outpaces the “old” culture, simply because their religion by definition suppresses such “progressive” modern notions such as abortion and homosexuality. So, the existing European culture is probably already prepared with the mindset that would rejoice in the death of any of God’s true Prophets who will no doubt condemn their liberal and anything goes lifestyle.

The Middle East
This region is already predisposed to be haters of anything that promote the worship of Jesus Christ. The Jews of Israel by and large do not accept that Jesus is the Messiah (yet), and the Muslims and Arabs both are wedded to their replacement Jesus in the so-called prophet Mohammed. The Muslims obviously would not be very welcoming of prophets from God who will be preaching the Deity of Jesus Christ.

Asia
This region has replacement gods by the dozens: from India to China.

South America
Though largely Catholic, one wonders how embracing this region would be of prophets who would certainly be condemning of the sensuality and religious ritualism that appears to be very present throughout the countries of this region.

Consider the current world culture’s response to the following reality:

And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth." These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. These men have power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want. (Revelation 11:3-6 NIV)

The fact is that this reality is coming. God will be sending these two Witnesses to tell the earth plainly about it’s corruption. The liberal TV networks and the anti-God talking heads will not be able to ignore them or marginalize them. They will have to listen to them and hear their words of judgment toward a sick and perverse generation. While these Prophets are here, there will be no Hollywood blockbusters for people to indulge their escapism. There will be no National Football League diversion to consume our Sundays. The Arab/Israeli conflict will be a sideshow. The Muslim suicide bombers will have a minor diversion. The building of the next Sony Play Station from Japan will be an afterthought. The god-like worship of a human being in the Pope will probably be a fleeting memory. God will use these men to take center stage! And the Bible says that the peoples of this world “will celebrate by sending each other gifts…” when they are finally killed!

But this will not be the end of the story:

But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on. At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon. (Revelation 11:11-14 NIV)

Friday, March 23, 2007

What have we shown the atheists?

Today I read a report on one of my favorite Christian websites www.barna.org on the topic of the percentage of “unchurched” people in America, based on a study done by the Barna Group. The web article documents parallel findings from a newly released book entitled “Jim and Casper Go to Church” by a Pastor (Jim Henderson) and an Atheist (Matt Casper). I have not read the book, but the Barna article indicates insights in the book were drawn from the co-author’s visits to several churches across the country including several of the well known ones that appear frequently on Christian TV networks. What caught my eye in this article however was the following excerpt:
Many of the insights drawn from the experiences of "Jim and Casper" parallel the findings of Barna Group studies among the unchurched. Some of the critical discoveries were the relative indifference of most churched Christians to unchurched people; the overt emphasis upon a personal rather than communal faith journey; the tendency of congregations to perform rituals and exercise talents rather than invite and experience the presence of God; the absence of a compelling call to action given to those who attend; and the failure to listen to dissident voices and spiritual guidance to dig deeper in one’s faith. www.barna.org
This conclusion is a very revealing (and also alarming) insight into the Christian environment in the US. For those who decry the relative weakness of the American church, it adds fuel to their indictment that Christians are asleep while this country sinks deeper into the moral wasteland predicted in 2 Timothy 3:1-4 - But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— (NIV). What this article and evidently this book uncovers however is that Christians are by and large complicit in aiding the moral decline of this country if by no other reason than our indifference and lack of either direct witnessing of Christ when engaging our neighbors and friends, or by not living lives before our neighbors and friends that clearly demonstrate that we are set apart for Christ: But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (1 Peter 3:15-16 NIV). Oh, we are probably very good at doing the Christ thing in church on Sunday mornings, with the raised hands, the hand-clapping to the “sound good” church songs and in some circles the “Christian lingo” (“I’m blessed and highly favored of the Lord…”). But, what happens when we sit with friends or co-workers at the restaurant. Is God worthy of our verbal thank yous across the table from your boss, or from your friend who hasn’t step foot in a church in 15 years?

When a friend or co-worker shares a sad story with us in their lives, do we offer to pray for them (or heaven forbid) pray with them right there on the spot? Yes I think the article gets it very right, we are indeed very indifferent to those who are “unchurched”. I know that in this article the unchurched is referring to those who have not attended church services. But in my context I am actually referring to those who are not a part of the church of Jesus Christ. Is one of our first thoughts when we hear of someone dying whether or not they were saved? If that is not one of our initial thoughts, perhaps being saved is not one of the more important things to us.

Believe me, I am writing this post as much to myself as to anyone else. The other day I was driving down the street, and two cars were obviously racing each other around me weaving in and out of traffic…generally creating a danger not only to themselves, but to everyone else around them. As they whizzed past my car and around an upcoming bend, my initial thought was I hope they both run into a wall in their hurry. Paul’s words about “being without love, unforgiving etc. etc.” certainly applied to me at that moment. In some ways I represent part of this apathetic Christian nation of Americans. God forgive me.

The article talks about “…the tendency of church congregations to perform rituals and exercise talents rather than invite and experience the presence of God.” Do you see your church in this statement? Thankfully I have not attended many different churches in my 7 years of being saved, and the ones that I have largely attended have for the most part avoided this trap, but I have seen it and it is very prevalent in many churches. It seems many times the presence of God is not allowed to get in the way of the church program. You know the drill: the worship songs then a few speeches, then the offering, another song or two, the “open your Bibles to the message this morning” a prayer then… “have a blessed week”. Don’t get me wrong…in the church with the right heart, the movement of God does and will take place in the midst of our programs. But the article is asking why does it not happen in most churches? How many people have been turned off by the rituals of both Protestant and Catholic churches alike? In both kind of churches the cadenced utterances of the Pastors or the Priests are virtually unintelligible. It sounds more like a performance than a call in the easy to understand language that the unchurched can understand so that he/she may be moved to surrender his life to the Lord. We are indeed a church nation of doers and not worshippers. We have been reared in our culture on the merit system, earning our way to success. With God, we can’t earn our way into His Kingdom. We can worship our way in response to His love however.

As a Christian do we ponder (in all honesty) the measure of our faith? Do we think about it as the daily routines of life continue to provide us with opportunities to display that faith? The article questions whether we listen to those voices that challenge us to dig deeper into our faith. Are we willing to face the Christian in the mirror reflecting what we are as opposed to what God has called us to be? Has complacency or apathy crowded in such that our faith is on auto-pilot?
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. (Romans 12:11 NIV)

Lots of questions? Do we want to face the answers? As a Christian nation, two scriptures should haunt us as we ponder ourselves in this reality:
"Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' (Matthew 7:21-23); These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:14-16)

Friday, March 02, 2007

More Discovery Channel Wisdom

I will only give the Discovery Channel's latest devil inspired nonesense about the archeological discovery of a tomb of Jesus and his "family" this much attention: For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (1 Corinthians 1:18-20 NIV)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Navy's "God Bless America" Moment

A little over one year ago I wrote about the challenges faced by Navy Chaplain Lt. Gordon James Klingenschmitt in his attempt to pray "in Jesus Name" while in his military uniform.

The post which appears below chronicled the pressure that the US Military felt was necessary to keep Jesus from being associated with its institution, while at the same time every President and most politicians end their speeches with "God Bless America". It would be a joke if it wasn't so sad. Well, today the Navy finally got to dismiss Mr. Klingenschmitt from it's service. In heaven, God is smiling (not at the Navy but at the Chaplain): Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved--and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him... ( Phillipians 1:27-29 NIV)

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***Update***

The Navy finally relented on Saturday 1/7/06 and now allows Lt. Klingenschmitt to officially pray "in Jesus name". Amen!

A God who sends people to Hell?