Originally posted in October 2005
I recognize we're an apathetic generation that loves to be entertained rather than think real serious thoughts. At least some feel that way. But there is one form of apathy I don't get and that is the fact that people are yawning over the return of the King of kings and not yearning for it.
This is the greatest news on earth. Titus calls it our "blessed hope." The Lord will put an end to all sorrow, sighing, tears, disasters, broken relationships, and more.
The apathy factor has grown since 9/11. America was torn for a few months and then many forgot because it wasn't in their neighborhood. People went back to sleep while the evil doers in this country continue their plotting.
Originally posted in July 2005
To be perfectly honest, I am growing weary of the many voices I hear saying that the world makes no sense today. It makes perfect sense if one understands the proper eschatology or doctrine of the "last days." The problem is that there is either little or no interest in the topic or it is being taught improperly. Why is it that even the History Channel, A & E, Discovery Network, etc. are paying more attention to it than the churches? In most churches it was shelved 20 years ago as "controversial," "divisive", and "gloom and doom." What is gloom and doom about the fact that the King is coming? Hanging on to this "blessed hope" (Titus 2:13) should be able to get the believer through most any trial.
Originally posted in May 2005
Recently Ken Salazar (D-CO) called James Dobson the Antichrist. Having caused a bit of a fire storm, he later apologized and just said all like Dobson are fanatics and dangerous but that's nothing new.
Many are throwing around the term "theocracy" in a negative way. That means in their eyes some are trying to establish a world governed by God, or at the very least, the Bible. Recently in Washington, secular humanists and liberals of all persuasion convened in Washington to strategize how to counter what they believe is a growing threat from conservatives and the "religious right."
This battle isn't new but now it seems the heavy armor is coming out, partly because today black is white, right is wrong, wrong is right, up is down, and good is evil (Is. 5:20). What should we expect?
Originally posted in April 2005
Good people are playing with matches today, and some are conservative and Evangelical Christians. An endless array of deceptive and "spiritual-sounding" religious experiences are flourishing.
Some call it the new "pop spirituality" and because so many people don't fully understand it or its origins, and because shepherds are not sounding enough alarms, "people are perishing for a lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). Some of this is "feelings-based" and fits in well with "comfortable Christianity" and the "feel good" longings 21st Century people have.
What's going on seems to be a "death of discernment" across the board--all faiths, and including people of no faith. Some churches continue to use as a discussion forum Dan Brown's huge best-seller, "The DaVinci Code." Doubleday publishers state, "None of us dreamed it would be such a historic publication. If 'Harry Potter' stands as the essential popular read for young people, 'The DaVinci Code' has captured the crown for adults."
Originally posted in December 2004
The "religious left" has always troubled me. They seem to be focused on things that are unscriptural and unspiritual. Their world view is hardly that of the conservative, Bible-believing Christian. In the early days of my ministry I would now and then minister in these churches, at least those bold enough to invite a pro-Bible prophecy, pro-Israel speaker.
I give that remnant credit! However, there were never more than two or three in attendance at my classes even though the church membership was in the thousands. Conclusion: I was not tracking with these people who wanted to hear about poverty, the environment, a Palestinian state, and human rights! And it finally dawned on me that I was but spinning my wheels. They didn't have the eyes to see or ears to hear the truth.
Originally posted in December 2003
There was a king long ago named Nebuchadnezzar who reigned in Babylon. He took the Jewish people into captivity including Daniel and enslaved them. Babylon was a city of evil and would always be a symbol of wickedness and sorcery. He was extremely impressed with his might and power, but God stripped him of his reign and even took away his sanity. King Nebuchadnezzar was relegated to roaming among the animals and vermin and eating grass. His hair grew like eagle's feathers and his nails grew like bird's claws. You can read the story in Daniel 4.
A king in the 20th Century, Saddam Hussein, fashioned himself as the reincarnated Nebuchadnezzar. He occupied the land that was once Babylon but now is known as Iraq. Saddam had coins made with his face on one side and Nebuchadnezzar's on the other. Saddam also longed to take the Jews into captivity but in a different manner--by exterminating them with missiles and weapons of mass destruction. He made an unsuccessful attempt at it during the Gulf War when he dumped 39 scuds on the city of Tel Aviv. Saddam was so obsessed with being like all that Babylon represented that he was steeped in the occult and had a personal wizard. He even rebuilt the ancient city of Babylon to be a 21st Century Disneyland, honoring Nebuchadnezzar and the wickedness of Babylon.
Saddam is a lot like Nebuchadnezzar, and though his mental status may not be known for some time, he surely acts like a man who had lost his mind. There are other parallels as well, for Saddam would eventually have to flee and live in a hole like a beast with the vermin around him. His hair grew like eagle's feathers and his nails grew like bird's claws. He went from royalty to rags; from the palaces to the pits.
But King Nebuchadnezzar realized his wicked ways after a period of living like a beast and dwelling among them. He raised his eyes to heaven and reason returned to him. He blessed God and praised and honored Him who lives forever. His majesty and splendor were restored. He states in Daniel 4:7, "I praise, exalt, and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride."
Here is where the two kings part company! At least as of this writing Saddam Hussein has not acknowledged the King of heaven. But is anything too difficult for God? The Bible says, "God takes no pleasure in any man's death." (Ezekiel 33:11) His love and forgiveness are so great that he would save anyone who would repent and turn from their wicked ways.
Can we pray this for Saddam Hussein? Why not? It seems like an impossibility, I know, but God is the God of the impossible. How much better to turn our attention to this rather than focus on the darkness and evil he perpetrated and represents. We might pray that Saddam would see that the Jews whom he so hated gave the world a Savior who could even forgive him of his obsessive hatred and wickedness if he would but call on His Name and repent.
That's how great God's love is! He forgives even when we can't and even when we want only the worst for all evil men.
Originally posted in June 2003
Can you imagine dreading the words, "You look so good"? I did for 21 years. That's because I suffered from a mysterious chronic illness that made me feel wretched on the inside, but I had no external manifestations. I didn't have a cast, wasn't in a wheelchair, nor did I have a bandage for my wounds.
Yet the chronically ill are very sick, out of work, out of money, many out of hope, in great despair, and some have even lost spouses who can't endure it all. I am single and didn't lose a spouse, but lost many friends who just grew weary of my weariness.
My problem was the "chronic fatigue syndrome" that over two decades caused me to spend about $100,000 on traditional and alternative medicine to make me well. Most places I visited told me it was all "in my head", or I was under too much stress, or clinically depressed, or I was just seeking sympathy or attention. I assure you none of these were true! I contracted the disease in 1979, and in 1987 parts of the medical community began to acknowledge that this was a new mystery illness with organic roots. It was then that I got the diagnosis. That was good news! The bad news: The disease likely had no treatment, no cure, and its manifestations would never show up on a medical test. And not all of the medical world would ever acknowledge it was real.
Illness isn't bashful. It shows itself in spite of our best efforts to get well, seek prayer, and have faith for a healing. It saps our energy, money, makes us irritable, rearranges our lives, limits our social life, strains our relationships, spoils our future, and occupies our thoughts day and night. Chronic illness ~ illness that never goes away ~ is a merry-go-round of discomfort, misunderstanding, humiliation, frustration, doctor's appointments, drugs, tests, fears, and tears. It can be painfully lonely. Only fellow travelers really understand. The world of the well never will.
It is a full time job with no pay or benefits. It shatters dreams. It makes us feel imprisoned for a crime we didn't really commit, at least not knowingly. After a few years, we forget who we were when we were well. Chronic illness affects emotions, facial expression and tone of voice. Our personality changes. We lose the buffer zone that causes us the ability to cope with life's annoyances and disappointments.
Thus I wrote the book "Waiting for a Miracle" in 1992, published by Baker Book House in 1993 (now out of print and available only from the author. See "Products" on the web site.) I had searched bookstores and catalogues and found not a single book that would encourage people like me from a Christian perspective. Why would God take people out, or limit them, when serving Him in full-time ministry? Why would He allow them to be set aside and even taken out of ministry with mysterious plagues that didn't even exist 30 years ago? We have been conquering illnesses for years and wiping out many. Now strange new ones were appearing in the 1970's to the present.
I have learned that health is the greatest gift next to salvation. Without it, one cannot fight crises large or small. When health is compromised, the devil comes in like a flood with fears and questions: Will I ever be the same? Can I even survive this unwelcome visitor? How will I pay my bills? The doubts and questions are just as ominous as the affliction.
During this ordeal, friends would sometimes put me down as though I was obsessed with something. Well, yes, it would be nice to feel well. One said to me, "You just have to be visiting a doctor a day, don't you"? I was crushed, and more than once. She suggested I had some kind of neurotic compulsion. The compulsion was to rid myself of debilitating symptoms from the "chronic fatigue syndrome" that made me want to sleep around the clock. I would go to bed exhausted and wake up exhausted. The world of the well wakes up refreshed. Not in my case. I could have collapsed in a heap any hour of the day from 1979 to 2000.
I had no means of support other than work, so I pressed on as best as I could in ministry, even traveling great distances to minister in this country and Israel. I was often in front of large crowds and had to express myself articulately without losing my train of thought. This disease also messes up the mind, so that was difficult. I looked good. People couldn't figure me out and I was reluctant to talk about it and draw further attention to the problem. But God is no respecter of persons, and even His faithful servants in full-time ministry get struck down. He has His purposes in all of this, which are all outlined in the book, "Waiting for a Miracle".
People across the country and in Israel who did know of the situation prayed for me earnestly. I did attend many healing services, but this disease is stubborn and the circumstances never changed for even a day of relief. So I began to feel abandoned by God, particularly when the circumstances would get even worse.
Most of my doctors, except for a "chronic fatigue syndrome" specialist, kept insisting my problem was severe depression. I told them I wouldn't be the least bit depressed if I could just stop feeling so tired and function normally again. I finally took their misguided advice and submitted to prescription after prescription of anti-depressants, and finally to one whole year of needless electric shock treatments, as well as other hospitalizations and a host of misdiagnoses. Since there was no treatment for this disease, I thought maybe these other treatments would have a positive effect. It was a time of great humiliation.
I spent years pondering what went wrong. I had to cut way down on my ministry for a time and felt ashamed and confused. I blamed myself. But what had I done wrong? Some told me I must have some secret sin. Talk about an abundance of "Job's comforters"! O.K., God didn't send this nightmare, but He allowed it. He could take it away.
Maybe God wanted me quiet so He could have my full attention. He got it for several years. The only thing I ever heard was, "If things never change and you never get well, will you still love me and trust me?" I told Him I would to the best of my ability.
Finally a number of doctors confirmed that this was, in fact, the "chronic fatigue syndrome" and that I should stop running around searching for additional answers. In a sense I felt vindicated when the majority vote came in like this: I was neither lazy nor crazy. I should just adjust my life to it and accept it and reduce my ministry load, which by then had been cut by one third. I was comforted to read that many of God's servants had experienced a "dark night of the soul."
One day in the summer of 2000 I awakened refreshed! I had done nothing differently. I had energy all day, and then all week. Six months later, I had no fatigue. Around that time I had not sought special healing or tried any new treatment. Now over four years later, I have not had one day of fatigue. I had done nothing different to bring about the change. It was a sovereign gift from the Lord.
God seldom gives us the long-range view of a troubled journey. It is a day-by-day trust experience. He has a wise plan for our life and it may involve a few time outs. It usually makes no sense at the time and perhaps never will. And it Eternity, we won't even remember these detours.
My burden was chronic illness, but whatever it is--and it may seem as gigantic as a mountain--God has already figured out a way for us to climb it, but it may begin with small steps. Answers may take years. Can you wait that long, trusting in His perfect will for your life? God's mountain climbers walk in precarious places. Yet, "He will make my feet like hinds' feet, and He will make me to walk upon the high places." (Hab. 3:19)
God speaks to us through our pain. He can use it to make us very aware of Him. The symphony He is working out includes minor chords, dissonance, and tiring fugal passages. But those of us who follow His conducting through these early movements will, with renewed strength, someday burst into song. Even if the trial does not end in this lifetime, in the next, remember, there will be no sorrow, or sighing, or pain.
Yes, I got my miracle. You can, too. Just hang on!
Originally posted in June of 2003
That's what many say, including some Bible believing Christians. I disagree. I call it "politically correct paganism", for some of the following reasons.
Here are some fast facts. Only the Bible outsells the Potter series. Kids in 140 nations are reading it and accepting Harry as their role model because they are spiritually illiterate, as are many of their parents. As a result, many kids think that what is cool in Harry's world would be cool to try in the real world. Thus, they can be easily lured into the occult, thanks to hero Harry, who utilizes good witchcraft to win over bad witchcraft. In my estimation, Harry is not teaching "Witchcraft & Wizardry 101" but "Advanced Witchcraft & Wizardry 401."
Deception abounds here, a characteristic Jesus warned would be a primary sign of the last days. Author Connie Neal, well-meaning as she is, misguides many in her book "What's A Christian To Do With Harry Potter?" She suggests that Jesus would have read the books to the kids of His day and turned them into parables. Her upbeat view of Potter does not stand alone, however. Dozens of Christian organizations, including the magazine "Christianity Today", praises Potter as benign fantasy reading, "A Christmas gift for all to enjoy," says the magazine.
Joanne Rowling stated in an interview in USA Today, July, 2000, that "I made a very conscious decision that I was writing about someone evil". She is not really directing that description towards Harry Potter, but other characters, including the very evil Lord Voldemort. She kept her promise. She has woven 65 genuine occult themes into her first four books and promises that each book is going to get darker and darker. So I ask the obvious: "What fellowship has light with darkness"? (II Corinthians 6:14-17) Additionally, all practices that are detestable to God listed in Deuteronomy 18:9-14 are prominent in Harry Potter.
There is a pervasive fascination with blood in the Potter books that is downplayed in the movies so that it doesn't gross out unsuspecting parents. In the books, limbs are severed in rituals, there is the drinking of blood from a dead animal, and Harry's "shed blood" allows evil Lord Voldemort to rise from the dead.
If Harry Potter is so innocent as some suggest, then why would the "London Sunday Times", July 12, 2000 edition, liken Potter to Aleister Crowley's Satanism? Crowley is considered one of the most evil men ever to have lived. Why would horror novelist Stephen King write in the "New York Times", July 23, 2000, that Potter would provide children with a good introduction to his own gruesome and demonic horror novels? A high priest of the First Church of Satan in Salem, Massachusetts in a July 2000 edition of "Time" magazine, that they have had more applicants than they can handle, thanks to Harry Potter!
All of this just confirms that Harry Potter is a book series and film that is morally flawed, filled with egocentric characters who lie, cheat, steal, use profanity, spill blood, refuse to repent, and practice occult techniques. Harry is portrayed as the character who uses "good evil" to overcome "bad evil". In the end, it's all about evil!
It's just fantasy you say? When did God say that real life must be holy, but the fantasy we read or watch can be occultic? We're to "abstain from every form of evil." (I Thessalonians 5:22). It is clear from James 4:7-8 and II Timothy 2:22 that we are to flee evil and cling to good.
It's my opinion that Harry Potter is one of the most blatant examples of "evil called good" (Isaiah 5:20) in the 21st century