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The Prospect of 2013

December 29, 2012 1 comment

The Year 2013: Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

Following the Christmas holidays, its natural for people to get sentimental, reflect on the past year and look forward to the coming year.  The media always has their “wrap-up” citing the headlines that most impacted the nation and the world.  There are wishes for a “Happy New Year,” promises, conjectured in the form of “New Year’s resolutions” (lose weight, spend more time with family, etc.).So, as I sit here and ponder the events of 2012, I must admit, my outlook is….bittersweet.  By nature, I consider myself neither an optimist, nor a pessimist.  A realist.  I know, I know, most people like to overuse that label for themselves, but truly, when asked if I see a cup half full or half empty, I will always respond, “BOTH!”Perhaps, it’s not my outlook, so much as my bull-headed determination.

I’ll stick with the previous assertion, thanks.  (Its my blog. Well, for now.)

This year has obviously been interesting with the election.  For my part, I was absolutely unclear about who was going to win, though, I certainly thought I saw tremendous support for Mitt.  However, in light of the direction the world was turning, reading the tea leaves also gave strong indications that Obama would pull through, in spite of no record, nothing what-so-ever to recommend him, and a continuing treasonous scandal.  I advocated for Romney, as much as I could, grew tense, like the rest of the country, fervently prayed, and waited.  Like many of you, that night, though I wasn’t shocked, but I was shocked.  I had been on my face, begging for God’s mercy on this country.  However, I also prayed for His will to be done.  The Lord spoke, the fate of America was solidified.

I went, immediately, to a somber state of acceptance.

Like most of you, the prospect of 2013 is dismal, in light of the political arena.  I have lost all faith in politicians, even in those I thought were truly fighting for truth and justice.  Time and time again, we have seen them bow to the will of those who grow in worldly power.

NATIONALISM VS. PATRIOTISM

I have recognized, through this process, that there is a clear distinction in “nationalism vs. patriotism.”  Nationalism retains that sense of arrogance, even in the face of God that we are better, bigger, and stronger.  That nothing will stop or hold us down.  Contrarily, patriotism is vastly different.  The patriot humbly clings to the principles that make one’s country great.  He recognizes the blessings, even undeservedly, that have been bestowed upon his nation, contingent upon obedience to the Lord and the principles for foundation.  A patriot doesn’t put faith in any man, but looks to the Lord for his sense of national direction.  He bows his knee to the Great I AM, accepting His plans, knowing that the protection of the nation is directly hinged upon what is done with the blessings and how well we uphold Biblical precepts.

As I stated before, I am an eternal realist.  My worldly outlook for the nation ,as far as the state of this planet, is grave.  Evil has been unleashed.  All too common these days, we hear of rampages of brutal murder.  People immediately want an answer,

“WHY?” 

What could possibly be the reason for such senseless violence? Now we see a spectrum of blame, polarities that want to crackdown on this heinous barbarianism.  On one side, governmental leaders are grasping, white-knuckled, to the claim that the problem is GUNS.  “We MUST eliminate firearms!” Another argument from the other side is that “We MUST revisit mental illness!”

As you might expect, I do not subscribe to either.

The problem is that all sense of morality, more specific, humility before the Almighty, has been cast out.  Society, as a whole, has spit in God’s face and pushed out any shade of godliness.  People have been hypnotized by the Dark Angel, masquerading in light.  They don’t believe in evil, unless it suits their purposes.  They don’t believe in the antithesis of evil, that being salvation only through Christ’s blood.  Instead they exchange one lie for another, until all sense of rationality and reason is subjective and without basis.

So you see, we could talk about the continued, growing scandals that have growing tentacles over the White House.  We could talk about the wildfire of Radical Islamization.  We could talk about the fiscal cliff that looms, in mere hours.  We could talk about genocidal dictators racing toward mass-extermination.

But, the crux of the matter is not as complex as it seems.  People are hung up on the thousands of symptoms of a simple, albeit, eternal crisis.The world has cocooned itself in a cozy bed of Godlessness.  They have set up their own altars, whereby they sit on their own throne.  Rather than serving the God of the universe, humans, regardless of culture, ethnicity or nation (a true testament to color blindness), embrace and worship the god “within.”

This cannot last.

Just as God is grace, He is the perfect balance of Justice and Judge, as well.  He does not force His will on man, yet retains the control in decision-making.  He can allow us to make the ridiculous choices that will cause self-destruction, both individually, corporately, as a society, and internationally.

Though He allows us our own way, don’t think for a second that He isn’t angered by it.  We cannot be so pompously deluded to think that we were created by a limp-wristed pushover.

He is YAHWEH!

THE GLASS IS HALF-EMPTY, BUT IT IS ALSO HALF-FULL.

In God’s never-ending kindness, the removal of protection can serve as a wake-up call.  When we are stripped of comforts, whether in leadership, or in security, we have the opportunity to turn to the only lasting truth in YESHUA, Jesus Christ.

For the few of us, who are truly watching, wide-eyed at the plans unfolding around the world, faith is strengthened.  I’ve heard it said, “The national and international headlines are now catching up to the Bible.”  The cards are on the table.  We are coming to that fork in the road, whereby we can choose to move toward God, or turn our backs on God.  Sadly, the Bible tells me that many will fall away from the faith. (Matthew 7:14, 2Timothy 4) Further, Christ tells us, “15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Rev.3:15-17)

My hope is in the Lord.  I do not know the specifics of what 2013 will bring, but I trust that He is JEHOVAH.  I take great hope in His mighty power.  (Ephesians 6:10-18) My outlook for this world, in the direction it is hurtling toward, is bleak.  People have chosen the path of Baal.  The Lord is rousing from His Holy Hill and He will come with absolute Authority and Justice.

Though, I am desperate to see His glory and His might, at the same time, I tremble at the prospect of an angry, JUST God.  I fear living in a land that has chosen to shove the Lord’s hand of protection away for the false notion of self-preservation and governmental rule.

If this nation refuses to humble herself in fear of the Lord, it is doomed to destruction. 

Nationalism is idolatry.  It is an ideology that dominates both parties, both sides of the aisle. 

With all of this bleakness, comes great hope, when one seeks and clings to the ONLY hope we have!  We have access to TRUE LIBERTY!  We can be unfettered and freed from bondage in the hope that comes from faith in the Lord, through YESHUA.  When we recognize that He IS the source of life; we are liberated, REGARDLESS of worldly powers.

These days, I treasure God’s Word.  I recognize the NECESSITY OF IT.  It is easy to get enthralled and overly distracted with the events unfolding.  Though Christ commanded us to, “WATCH!” (Matt.24:4, 42 read all of chapter 24) I must keep my FOCUS upon HIM.  We must SATURATE ourselves in the WORD.  I am constantly amazed and deeply grateful for the Bible.  Without it, faith and hope would be very burdensome.  But again, God in His grace and mercy, gave us the Cliff Notes version.

In summary: I know how the story ends;

He wins.

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SCRIPTURE TO MEDITATE ON:

1 Samuel 12:24-25

24 But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. 25 Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will be swept away.”

You Don’t Wanna Miss This….

Turning a blind eye

Today I learned a valuable lesson.  (When you have twin toddlers, the lessons for parents never end.)  One of my three-year olds decided that deodorant could serve a variety of purposes.  My oldest happened to walk by the restroom to find her little sister contentedly squeezing the life out of a stick of deodorant.  After yelling for my attention, I found the happy, little vandal wringing her creamy, fragrant hands over a scattered pile of Suave flakes covering the bathroom rug.  I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, grab the camera or start to pray.  After I cleaned her hands and picked up the bigger remains of the anti-perspirent, I took the rug outside and shook it.  The bathroom now has a heavenly aroma of powder.  We can all take comfort that the rug will avoid embarrassing pit-stains for quite sometime.  Who knew that even deodorant serves a variety of purposes?

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed a frustrating trend amongst many of my brothers and sisters-in-Christ.  Unfortunately, this mindset has sadly been either openly promoted or quietly reinforced by the Church.  Like much of the Bible, many people like to take the portions that they are comfortable with and happily toss the rest out.  This “a la carte” mentality is often coupled with blatant misuses of scripture.  However, I know that many of my brothers and sisters don’t fall into that “blatant” category.  Understanding the true meaning and intent of biblical texts can, at times, require tremendous study, reflection, and consultation.  Further, because of the abuses that many of the “blatants” have placed upon scripture, people can have a tendency to shy away from certain topics or texts for fear of being misunderstood or even lumped in with the “blatants.”  There is, perhaps, no more “taboo” topic in Christian circles than prophecy or end-times theology. 

Thanks to predecessors such as Jack van Impe and Harold Camping, those of us who enjoy researching scripture and discussing “That Great Day” can often be silenced or immediately written off as, either kooks or scholars.  (I claim to be neither, though some would disagree about the first.)  I expect that the majority of the world might come to the “nutcase” conclusion and that doesn’t bother me.  It is the reaction of the Christian community that ruffles my feathers.  When I have brought up current events and scripture or even the mere word “rapture,” with fellow believers, I am often met with naysaying, which can instantly terminate the discussion.  I hear one phrase:  “Well, you know, the Bible says that we can’t know that hour or the day.”  What I hear is, “Case closed!”  I take the hint and move on.

The reference to this brow-beaten response is found in Mark 13:32, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”  It is vital to understand and grasp this statement straight from the lips of Jesus, himself.  So when you hear of supposed theologians and self-proclaimed scholars who say they have determined the day that Christ is to return DO NOT LISTEN.  This is a direct contradiction of what scripture tells us!  That is a point that should be stressed and underlined.  Yet, many Christians stop here and go no further with what Jesus continued to say.  What a tragedy!  There is much more to his exhortation even prior to this statement!  But, following the place where people close the book and continue daydreaming, Jesus has this to say in the same chapter,

33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. 35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” (emphasis added)

Jesus is making emphatic, strong statements here!  He commands that we keep watch.  At this point in scripture, the disciples, naturally wanted to know what they were to watch for.  In other words, *hushed whisper and gasp* they wanted signs. WHOA!  Imagine that!  You got it! Jesus was the first prophecy geek!  (You know the more I live, the more I realize that Jesus was a radical.  So I’ll take that label as the highest compliment!)  So, Jesus, being God (GOD!!) and having the authority to do what ever he wanted, decided that He wanted to give us specific clues (there it is again *gasp* SIGNS!) as to what the disciples (all of us, not just the dudes in dirty sandals and robes) should look for (not stumble upon, but LOOK FOR. “Watch!”).  He said this, after he gave the signs to his return, in verses 28-31,

 28 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

 And just because He knew many of us probably still wouldn’t get it, He went on to say this,

“When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. 55 And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. 56 Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time? (Luke 12:54-56, NIV)

I love storms.  I especially love just when the storm approaches and half of the sky is bright and the other half is getting increasingly dark.  The wind blows strong and the lightning begins to flash!  It’s one of the most amazing beauties of this earth.  A few days ago, I went to take a walk with my dog and noticed a fast moving wall cloud approaching.  I knew there was a chance for thunderstorms, but, really, when can the weather report be trusted, right?  I had just begun my walk, when I am saw my favorite part of the storm approaching.  I rounded around the block, knowing that this probably couldn’t be a long walk.  I wasn’t fearful, just knew my time was limited and I was going to enjoy the view!  My sister-in-law who lives on the street behind us, actually drove by and asked if I needed a ride.  But, this was the best part of the storm!  Before it actually unleashes!  So I thanked her and my pup and I continued.  As I approached my house, big droplets began to fall.  We just got inside and then hail, larger than pea-sized, pelted the house. 

Now, once I saw the wall cloud and then the darkening sky, I knew what was coming.  I didn’t take a Sunday stroll, oblivious to what was going on all around me, but neither was I afraid.  I had no idea the storm, though swift, would get that violent, and I was so thankful that my dog and I weren’t bombarded with the shards of ice falling from the sky.  I knew my destination.  Though the beginning signs of a storm are exciting, I knew that the assault would really begin, and soon.  I was focused on getting home, but anxiety didn’t color my journey.  I didn’t have to wonder what would follow after the first indications of weather change.  Wall clouds lead to wind, lightning, and rain.  I didn’t know there would be hail, but I prepared to be in the shelter.

This is how Christ expects us to act when we see the clues he gave us about his return.  We are on a journey and recognize the signs of the impending storm.  We aren’t to be anxious and fearful, but remain vigilant and focused on our destination.  Though catastrophe and destruction swirls around us, we know that these things lead to our redemption and so we take joy in His soon coming.  The damage and pain in this world is heart-wrenching, but it cannot weigh our hearts down in dissipation and overwhelming anxiety. All the while we pray for the afflicted, persecuted, and those who don’t have the Hope that we hold on to…our Shelter from the storm.

Watch, dear brothers and sisters!  Don’t get hung up on only one part of the message.  There is so much more to what Jesus was trying to tell us….

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