"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"

Father God, thank you for the love of the truth you have given me. Please bless me with the wisdom, knowledge and discernment needed to always present the truth in an attitude of grace and love. Use this blog and Northwoods Ministries for your glory. Help us all to read and to study Your Word without preconceived notions, but rather, let scripture interpret scripture in the presence of the Holy Spirit. All praise to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Going Deep (The Receiver)

Be sure to read the other two postings on Going Deep before reading this one.

The wide receiver is always the recipient of the long-bomb. He must get behind his opponent to get free enough to be in position to catch the pass when the Quarterback throws it. Then he must catch the pass. If he does, it’s a great move forward for the team.

Our Quarterback frequently throws us passes that are missed, dropped or intercepted, simply because we were not listening in the huddle, or not paying attention on the field.

Listening in the huddle is absolutely vital, not just for the wide receiver, but for the whole team. If one member misses his assignment or misses the count, the whole team suffers. When we don’t take the time to pray each morning and each time we enter a situation where the Holy Spirit is needed, then the whole Kingdom of God suffers for our missed assignment.

Praying must not only include petitioning prayer but listening prayer. If in my whole life I can only motivate you to do one thing, I pray that one thing would be to listen to God in prayer – even when He is not speaking. Things happen in prayer that are far beyond our ability to understand. “Be still and know that I am God.”

After the huddle we can walk out confidently. If we haven’t heard specific instructions then we can know that we are in God’s will and can continue on the way we are going. That is not always downfield. Sometimes when a quarterback is in trouble, the wide receivers will break-off pattern and double back toward the line of scrimmage to make an easier target for a pass. While they would appear to going in the wrong direction, they may yet save the day – no long-bomb, but perhaps a first down.

Sometimes, I think it is necessary for us to go into what we might perceive as negative territory in order to undo some problem from our past. That God allowed me to suffer a deep depression, then, as I was beginning to come out of it, I relapsed into a far worse case of depression, anxiety and social phobia. I had still not dealt with my pride, not had I repented of my lack of faith, though God was giving me every opportunity.

My lack of faith boiled down to idol worship. My faith was in money and when we had money problems, my anxiety increased exponentially. I had more faith in mammon than in God. When you have lived at various times in great poverty, it is hard to put your faith in God rather than money, even though I tested Him and He was always faithful when I did. But God will not be faithful when you are worshipping a false idol. Repentance is the only solution here, and you can be sure your repentant heart will be tested.

Pride is more insidious. It is not just the self-image of the exceptional public servant that plagued me, but there was also an image of the exceptional Christian. I wanted to be seen and known as a man of God. I still do. That’s not so bad on the one hand because we should all want to be a man or woman of God. My problem was that I wanted to be seen as such. That’s pride. From a loveless childhood of abandonment and abuse, I developed a need to be wanted and to be admired.

It has been a struggle for me to accept that God wanted me so much that He sent His Son to suffer and die for me. Understanding love when you grew up without it does not come easily. But it boils down to trusting God. Lord, help me my unbelief. Help me to receive the love that You threw to me in the end zone when Jesus died and rose again. It was no Hail Mary pass, but a pin-point accurate bomb right into my numbers.

Lord, I have trusted you many times before and You have often amazed me with your responses. Help me to trust You totally and completely with everything in my life, with all that I have, all that I will be, and with whatever may come both in this life and in Eternity.

Going Deep (The Pass)

Please read, Going Deep (The Audible) before reading this. This is part 2 of what will be a 3 part search deep into my heart. I pray that it will help you to examine yourself and eventually draw you much closer to Christ.

You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin.” OK, so now I have to admit that I had some sins that needed to be dealt with, but what were they? Certainly my priorities were off centre – working far too much when my family was collapsing around me. The following spring we had to give up custody of our foster child who we cared for for 11 years since her birth. Looking after all of her special needs, as well as looking after my suicidal wife and sons should have been an easy decision to take some time off work, or to, at least reduce my hours. But reducing my hours was not on the table.

Having been in the Public Service for many years, I was determined not to become one of those stereotypical civil servants who just do their job and don’t give any extra. I always gave service that was exceptional, or, at least, always tried to. It was so ingrained into my self-image that when it became impossible in my position as Superintendent of Climate Services for the Pacific and Yukon Region of Environment Canada, I began to work longer and longer hours to try to get the work done. It didn’t work.

At one point my boss told me that I just had to get used to the idea that I can’t give the quality of service that I want to. He was right, of course, but that struck right at the heart of my image of myself. That is precisely when I cracked.

Self-image is a powerful force in our lives, and unfortunately, it is often supported and encouraged by those around us. Self-image, however, is not us; it is called by Oswald Chambers – our individuality. He defines individuality as the counterfeit of personality. Personality is who we are; individuality is who we want others to think we are. It is the image we present to the public, but where it wanders from personality, or from reality, it becomes false, negative and even dangerous. Attempting to maintain an image that is either impossible or untrue can have disastrous results – my life stands as an example.

Where was the disparity between my individuality and my personality? None, I truly had a desire to please my customers. The disparity was between my individuality and reality. The reality was I didn’t have sufficient resources to give exceptional service and needed to settle for mediocre service at best. My individuality, championed by my pride, refused to accept such a fate. There was my problem in a nutshell – pride. Pride was all tangled up in my self-image, my individuality, and it was pride that did me in. It took a long time for me to see that.

I also came to see that in my dependence on overtime to keep us financially afloat that I had stopped relying on God for my provision. We had relied on Him many times and He had always provided. His provision was never excessive but always enough and always when it was needed – like a short pass for a first down when you are 3rd and 15. Now, when I probably needed Him most, I counted on my own ability to provide for our needs. Having no faith in my receivers, I replaced the Quarterback with myself, tried the quarterback sneak and came up a long ways short.

Part 3 of this series will be posted shortly.

Going Deep (The Audible)

Going deep in a football game is the most exciting play there is. Going deep for a Christian is about as far as you can get from joy and excitement, but is as necessary as the occasional long-bomb is to a football game.

What is ‘going deep’ for a Christian? It is looking beyond the surface into your heart, your motivations, you very will. More than 12 years ago I shook my fist at God and asked Him why. My wife had been bed-ridden for a few months and was suicidal; we had an adopted daughter with many special needs and very little help; we had two sons in high school; and I was working and commuting 60-70 hours a week.

Naturally, I blamed God for my circumstances. But God’s response was both immediate and unsympathetic. “You have not yet suffered unto blood!” This struck me like a cold, wet towel across the face. I thought of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane when He suffered emotionally, perhaps worse than the physical suffering He endured on the cross. His agony caused Him to sweat great drops of blood. I was immediately convicted of my insignificant sufferings and my audacity to complain about them.

Then I remembered the rest of the verse. In the NAS version, Hebrews 12:4 reads, You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin.” Oh dear, this didn’t sound good at all. There seemed to be an insinuation that I would be required to strive against sin to the point of shedding blood, or, at least, to the point of no longer sinning. But I was a good person; there were no overt sins in my life. I went to church every week, I tithed, I prayed, I read my Bible, I didn’t do pornography or any other obvious sin that I could think of.

It did occur to me that my priorities were a little off with working too much, but I was stuck between financial needs and not nearly enough time at the office to do all the work I had to do. So instead of taking some time and praying about what God had been trying to tell me, I just continued on until I was exhausted. A couple months later, my mind simply shut-down. I was no longer able to concentrate or to multi-task; my short-term memory was gone. That was 12 years ago, and I still suffer from those symptoms today.

A few weeks later I went on sick leave, went home, and fell into a severe depression. A year later, I was referred to Ricardo, a man with a prayer ministry and an extraordinary gift of discernment. He led me to the Lord! That I had been a practicing Christian, with many amazing answers to prayer for 20 years, didn’t deter him one bit. Funny thing though, at that moment I suddenly became intensely interested in the Bible and have been ever since.

Had God left me? That’s blasphemy to some people who believe such a thing is impossible. “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” (See my blog with that very scripture for the title). The scripture was a promise that was, in fact, dependent upon the early Hebrews obedience. When they disobeyed, as in the rebellion at Kadesh Barnea, and as Achan did at Jericho, God withdrew his hand from them, and they were severely defeated in battle.

Had God left me? Or did He do as He did with Job and allowed Satan certain freedoms to test me? If He didn’t leave me, why did Ricardo’s leading me back to Christ have such an effect? Unfortunately, I cannot answer those questions yet, perhaps someday. Please read my next blog, Going Deep (The Pass).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pre-trib Rapture Assaulted Again

In John 17:15 Jesus was praying for His disciples. He prayed, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”

My view on the rapture is not pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib. If there is a rapture, it will occur either when Jesus returns or there may be a very limited pre-wrath rapture. Pre-tribbers believe that the entire Great Tribulation is the day of God’s wrath and so pre-wrath must be pre-trib. 

One in the field will be taken and one left
But there is very good reason to believe that the testing that the letter to the church at Philadelphia refers to is, in fact, at the end of the Tribulation not the entirety of it. How so?

In Rev 6: 16,17 after the 6th seal has been opened, the great kings and leaders of the earth are found hiding in caves and calling on the mountains to fall on them tohide us from the Presence of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand.

So those who had been through the majority of the Tribulation did not see it as God’s wrath until nearly the end of the period. That calls into question the interpretation of the timing of Revelation and there are several differing viewpoints. 

It makes no sense, however, to read it as a linear time-series, that is, chronological. But rather, it makes the most sense to read it as a series of view-points. 

Pastor Daymor Moses equates it with watching replays of a football game. You have a camera on the quarterback, another on the running back, one on each of the wide receivers, one on the lines, etc., and each shows a different perspective of the same brief time-span. 

This is more or less how I have come to understand the timing as well, although it is not necessarily understandable at all.

With that in mind, the 6th seal and the great day of the wrath of God and the Lamb comes very late in the Tribulation period. Let’s look at another perspective:
1 Cor 10:11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. These things refers to the Exodus story of the Israelites. “Upon whom the ends of the ages have come,” is us. 

Therefore, those of us in the last days are to study the Exodus story for wisdom and revelation. And what do we find there?

We find the wrath of God coming upon Egypt (a type of the world), as Moses seeks permission to lead his people out of bondage. We see ten plagues that God inflicts upon the land of Egypt, many of which are quite devastating. 

What happens to the Israelites (a type of us) during this time? They are protected through most of the plagues.

When Aaron turned the Nile into blood, Moses had advance notice and may have warned the Israelites to store up drinking water. They may have suffered through the frogs and the gnat infestation, but then God separated them from the Egyptians for the rest of the plagues - I will put a division between My people and your people. Ex 8:23. 

They did not suffer the swarms of insects, their livestock were not afflicted, they did not get the boils the Egyptians suffered, nor the hail storms.

It is not obvious that the Israelites escaped from the plague of locusts, but I think it likely. However, I think it unlikely that they missed the plague of darkness that covered the land for 3 days. 

And, of course, they were saved from the final plague, the death of the first-born, by the covering of the blood on their houses. This is a foreshadowing of the covering of the blood of Christ on Christians. And yet, they were still in the land!
It was only after this most terrible judgment that Moses (the type of Christ) led the Israelites out of Egypt. And then what happened? God’s final judgment on Egypt occurred at the Red Sea. 

The Israelites miraculously crossed the Red Sea just before the Egyptian army is destroyed in it. If that isn’t a clear picture of the Great Tribulation, I don’t know what is?

People, we need to prepare ourselves to go through the Great Tribulation. Putting our hope on the fairytale of a pre-trib rapture will not get you ready. 

I believe most Christians will escape a lot of the judgments that will come upon the earth during those horrific 7 years, but I also believe that most Christians alive during the Great Tribulation will be martyred. 

Are you ready to be martyred? Or are you hoping for a fairytale ending?
(see also: The Rapture – Hope or Hype)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Inevitable Middle-East War

In 2008, I first wrote about the likelihood of Israel striking Iran’s nuclear program and the possibility of it precipitating an Islamic/Russian war against Israel. Such a war is described in great detail in Ezekiel 38 & 39, and a study of those two chapters of the Bible make very compelling reading in light of today’s geopolitical landscape.

 I suggested that unexpected consequences could result in a dramatic condemnation of Israel, even by the US. I also suggested that in order for such a war to occur that the US would have to abstain from supporting their Israeli allies. I said this would be possible because of a change in the US leadership’s attitude toward Israel, or due to a complete financial failure of the US.

Yesterday, Russia refused to allow UN sanctions against Iran because of its nuclear program despite the UNs IAEA declaring that Iran was most likely preparing to make nuclear weapons. Since Iran has promised to wipe Israel off the map, then we can only conclude that Russia is in favour of such a catastrophe. Russia has recently made a military alliance with Iran and should Israel attack Iran, Russia would almost automatically be at war with Israel.

Will the US abandon its long-time ally in its greatest hour of need? This is what the US Secretary of Defence had to say today about attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities:
"You've got to be careful of unintended consequences here," Mr Panetta told reporters in Washington, when asked about his concerns about a military strike.

He acknowledged military action might fail to deter Iran "from what they want to do".
"But more importantly, it could have a serious impact in the region, and it could have a serious impact on US forces in the region," he said.

He further suggested that it would only delay Iran’s nuclear ambitions by 3 years at the most. His plan is to use the toughest possible sanctions against Iran. Since Russia has veto power in the UN, it will mean the US will not have a lot of support in applying sanctions. And since the leadership of Iran believes they have been called to create complete chaos in the world to pave the way for the Mahdi, there is little doubt that they will use nuclear weapons on Israel, if, and when, they can.
The Mahdi, the prophesied redeemer of Islam, will, according to prophecy, accompany the antichrist of the New Testament. (That would make him the Beast or the False Prophet.) The Mahdi will be a descendant of the daughter of Mohammed. This is where it gets really interesting. The daughter’s name was Fatimah after whom the little city of Fatima, Portugal was named. You’ve heard of Fatima, that is where the Virgin Mary was supposed to have appeared to three children in 1917. Curious, huh?

According to Christian prophecy, the US will abandon Israel; Russia and Islam will attack Israel with conventional weapons, and God will intervene and destroy the Russian and Islamic forces. Israel will survive; Islam and Russia will be severely crippled, which, eventually, will open the doors for the Chinese to invade, 200 million strong, in what will be the real Armageddon.