Coming to God

But without faith it is impossible to please him, for he that cometh to God must first believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him, Hebrews 11:6.

What does it mean to “come to God”? This is the central theme of all time if it were to be distilled to its core element. Nothing else we do in life will eternally affect us as will our choices relative to the things of God and our never-dying souls.

More has been written on this than could be contained in a vast library of printed books, with ideas and doctrines so diverse that it is not possible for them all to be true. And yet they continue to multiply. No wonder so many people shut off their inner voices that had been urging them to continue seeking until they find the truth. It is not easy to find. But is it impossible?

The Scripture verse above says that it is not impossible. It does not say that it is easy. “Diligently seek” is not a phrase that carries a connotation of occasional thought, blind acceptance, or comfortable acquiescence. Let us break down what God says is required for coming to Him, by focusing on the elements of this verse.

He that cometh to God… Who is “he”?

  • Someone who has faith (Hebrews 11:6, But without faith it is impossible to please God…)
  • Someone who is being drawn to come to God (John 6:44, No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him…)
  • Someone who is beginning to respond to that drawing (James 4:8, Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.)

How does he “come to God”? The image above of a child’s first steps has implications…

  • The child is being called to come. (John 15:16, Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you…)
  • The child has to take a physical step. (Luke 9:23, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.)
  • The child will be rewarded when he takes even a halting step. (John 6:37, …and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.)

How does he “believe” and “have faith”?

  • He hears the Word of God (Romans 10:17, …faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.)
  • He believes what he hears, understanding that believing requires some kind of response (Acts 2:37, Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?)
  • He acts on what he has heard; he obeys the Word (Romans 6:17, But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.)
  • This response of obedience allows him to receive more of the Word (John 7:17, If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine…)

How does he “diligently seek”?

  • He continues to make steps (2 John 1:6, And this is love, that we walk after his commandments.)
  • He fights to know the truth (Jeremiah 29:13, And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.)
  • He forsakes all to follow (Matthew 13:46, Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.)

Our illustration of child’s first steps is instructive in more ways than one. In that child’s mind, he knows there is a response required of him to do what his parent is asking: “Come to me.” That infant brain is struggling to make the connection between what he understands and what his little body knows how to do. His muscles are not yet trained to respond.

It is not the first time he has been asked to come, yet this time he wills himself more strongly than ever to get his chubby body balanced, to raise his little foot, to lean forward slightly at the same time, to plant his foot and stay upright while he repeats the process with the other foot. Even if he falls, he is rewarded for trying. But he must keep trying.

Years later, if he is asked to come to his father, failing to do so will be an act of disobedience, of choosing not to continue, but today it is a factor of him attempting to discern what it means to “Come to Daddy,” and of not giving up until he makes it happen.

God draws us to Him. That drawing requires a response. That response is not a one-time acquiescence, but a full-time walk of submission and obedience that brings more knowledge to be obeyed, more light in which to walk. (John 8:12,…I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.)

But what if we start to follow, obey a little, face something we are not quite ready to embrace, and decide to stop? Jesus told His disciples, Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth, John 16:23. A guide can only lead you where you will follow him.

The Spirit of God will lead you, but if you stop going forward, He does not. You are perfectly welcome to stay somewhere along the way that fails to get you into “all truth.” God is a gentleman, and though He will prompt and stir, draw and convict, He will not, cannot, force you to continue to follow. What then?

You may be uncomfortable with what I am about to say, but Scripture is replete with examples of religious, even spiritual, people who are not part of the true Kingdom of God. Consider these:

  • Matthew 7:21-23, Not everyone that sayeth unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
  • Luke 13:24, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
  • Jude 12, These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds
  • 2 Timothy 3:2-7, For men shall be lovers of their own selves… lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof…ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth…
  • Romans 1:18, For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.

Someone did not continue to seek; they found a bit of truth, maybe repented at one time, but never followed on to fully obey. They stopped and camped right there, building a whole doctrine around a piece of the puzzle that was never meant to stand alone.

What did those who continued to follow on find and obey? Remember the question from Acts 2:37, Men and brethren what shall we do? Here is what they were told:

Acts 2:38, Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Three actions:

  • Repent (Luke 13:5, I tell you,… except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.)
  • Be baptized (Mark 16:16, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.)
  • Receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (John 14:26, But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.)

There are many who now direct those who would come to God to “just believe,” without ever fully defining for them what that means. Notice how many action words Jesus used:

  • do (Matthew 7:21, Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.)
  • keep (John 14:15, If ye love me, keep my commandments.)
  • walk (John 12:35, Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you…)
  • follow (John 10:27, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.)
  • come (Matthew 11:28, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.)

Having heard these things, how will you seek? Diligently, with a heart to obey what is revealed to you? Or casually, only willing to justify your actions and lifestyle?

Only knowing the truth as Jesus defined it, by obeying His Word continually, will ever make you free:

John 8:31-32, …If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

And it goes on and on, until we meet Him face to face:

Philippians 3:14, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 12: 14, Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Death of Truth?

Can the truth die? Just go away forever?

We know, of course, that the truth cannot die. Truth will live on for eternity, because truth is of God, Who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” John 14:6. One of His disciples said, “ye know…that no lie is of the truth,” 1 John 2:21.

So, why use this title at all if I have debunked the idea before I even make my case?

Because while it is a fact that truth cannot die, it can become dead to us.

How truth is transmitted

My generation has witnessed communication morph from handwritten letters and conversations on landline telephones (with cords) to instant, wireless connections with people all over the world. Those changes have brought great benefits, but some results could not have been anticipated.


Sociologists detail changes in society, including those that have occurred because of technology. For example, the good old automobile, a wonderful advancement in transportation, affected the social fabric by doing more than just taking us places faster than the old horse and buggy could do. It also served to take dating from the front room of the parents’ home to the backroads of who knows where. The inventors, we know, were not trying to create a more private location for courting. They were just giving us a faster way to get around; yet, their advancement became used for all kinds of things they could never have envisioned.


We love communicating with each other, and as technology advanced, we welcomed offers for free email accounts and platforms that allowed us to grow more connected. Social media provided a way to share our pictures and family events with people we cared about in real time. No more waiting for film to be developed and packaging those prints in a letter to Grandma. We had access to all of it, right now.

In time, social media also became a forum for expressing our opinions, sharing our creativity (one of my favorite uses), and exposing our drama. Rousing debates erupted, often turning bitter. Twenty years ago these group conversations could only have occurred in person (sometimes broadcast via radio or television), or through printed media (competing newspaper editorials, for example). They occurred infrequently in any sort of public arena. Now, anyone and everyone can put their thoughts out there. Like seeds in the wind, they can go viral in minutes.

What we communicate

Debate itself is not unhealthy, of course. A famous business man once said, “When two men always agree, one of them is unnecessary.”* But in the old days, there was an understood ethic that the publisher or broadcaster, took responsibility for whether the statements had basis in fact, or some merit in logic and rationality.

Now we are inundated with images of giant catfish and mammoth-sized pythons. Who generates this stuff? We could track that down, but we seldom take time. “People” spring up online who never existed, because a profile can be constructed (possibly out of those family pictures we posted years ago that are vulnerable to being recycled by a child predator).

I submit to you that on the internet, truth has died. Whole sites have sprung up dedicated to fact-checking, but we don’t always even trust them. What if they have an agenda all their own? We wouldn’t know unless we had first-hand access to the facts in a case. We cannot be sure of what is true and what is not, but that doesn’t stop some of us from sharing it as though we are absolutely certain.

I suppose the most discouraging thing about the “death” of truth in our common area of communication is that we are running low on the will to care. I stopped caring enough to fact-check very many things a while back. Instead, unless I know the people and the situation, I just don’t bother to pass on the information. I have no time to care that deeply.

Unfortunately, there is more at stake than the simple humorous, “gotcha” kinds of fake postings. We now know that the portal to our minds and hearts that is social media has been used by those intentionally spreading false information. At our heart and gut level, we are not fully sure who is saying what about whom that is true or false. We just hope we are getting it right in how we make our choices on, but our uneasiness is growing.

A danger

Once upon a time, misbehavior was punished after thorough inquiry, even court proceedings if warranted, sentencing, and appeals. We now witness the following: a thing occurs, people are accused, lives are ruined. It is that simple. Due process doesn’t occur in social media (if you don’t know what doxing is, be sure to study up on it and pray you’re never on the receiving end).**

The verifiable facts of a case may eventually be published once diligent inquiry is made, but by then the public has moved on. The facts never make the same splash as the accusations. The damage is done. People clutch their opinions tightly and suspect the motives of those providing contrary information. We know that people can say anything in social media (or broadcast or print media), whether it is true or not.

We have truly experienced the death of trust of our sources of information, which effectively leads to the “death” of truth. It is camouflaged so effectively that we must fight to find it.

What does God say?

I wouldn’t be a good Christian blogger if I didn’t bring the Bible, the Word of God into the equation. It is truth (John 17:17).

Distortion of truth did not begin with the advent of social media. It began in the Garden of Eden: “Yea, hath God said…?” the serpent said to Eve in Genesis 3:1. The enemy’s misinformation eroded Eve’s confidence in the truth, and she made a grave error based on faulty logic that justified fleshly lust.

Throughout history we see patterns of truth being proclaimed, obeyed and forsaken, over and over again. History seems to follow this example: redemption from the world by God’s intervention, the establishment of boundaries to protect that new-found redemption, a period of walking within those boundaries until the original mouthpiece of them had been taken away (Moses and Joshua, various judges and righteous kings, Jesus Christ and the apostles), followed by distortion of the boundaries by those who arose after them, yielding to the flesh and gladly chosing an easier way. But those who are stirred to seek the truth with all their hearts are guaranteed to find it.

Some of God’s statements on truth are:
“Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” John 8:32.
“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship Him in spirit and in truth,” John 4:24.
“Let God be true, and every man be a liar,” Romans 3:4
“And for this cause, God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness,” 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12.
“Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold,” Matthew 24:12.
Truth matters to God. It is Who He is. Unless it matters to us, we can never serve Him.

What should we do?

We cannot effect the change in society that would cause people to suddenly settle for nothing less than the truth. We can only cause that stand to be taken in our own hearts.

How do we do this? Cry out to God to cleanse and heal our own receptors for truth. Confirm to Him our desire to know Him through the truth, the only way He will be known. Seek Him for the strength to let truth move in our hearts and change us. Ask Him for the faith to believe that we can know the truth for ourselves.

Picture the image of a scale where each side must balance (the type depicted in seals or logos for courts and judges). “Knowing truth” is on one side, but “obeying truth” is on the other. We will know God’s truth only to the degree that we humble ourselves and become willing to obey the truth or the commandments of God.

No one receives the revelation of Who God is–the mighty God in Christ, the man Christ Jesus–without fully committing to walk according to His Word. If we consistently demonstrate that we prefer ease and convenience and soothed consciences over stark and painful truth, He will choose our delusions (Isaiah 66:4). We will happily go our own way until we meet Him in the judgement and meet an end we did not expect.

No, I know that truth is not dead. In fact, we can know the truth. The question is, do we really want to? For, to know truth is to allow truth and its direction to reign in our lives, to submit to it. Who wants to do that?
Those who want to live forever, like the truth will do.

*1The origin of this quote is itself the subject of some debate. The earliest attribution is to William Wrigley, Jr. (the chewing gum magnate), from an interview published in The American Magazine in 1931.

**Doxing, derived from the word “document,” refers to the practice of researching and revealing the personal information such as telephone number, physical address, place of employment, etc. of a targeted individual without permission. The intent is to give an angry public direct access to them, often resulting in threats and/or actual violence, and at the very least embarrassment and ridicule. Individuals are targeted for various reasons, including being suspected of a crime, simply disagreeing with an opposing group’s point of view, or being a member of a targeted group. Publishing the information compromises the safety of the individual and destroys the normalcy of their lives.

Me and Christmas 

I know, it probably should be “Christmas and me”. Or is it “Christmas and I”?

You decide, as I talk about this unique phenomenon we call “Christmas” as seen through the lens of my heart.

There are questions within the community of sincere believers as to whether this event warrants nearly the focus it gets, especially when compared to the world-changing end result: our Savior’s blood being shed for our cleansing and to make a way for us to be saved, His rising from the dead and opening a door for us to have new life.  The joy that accompanies the recognition of Him pouring out His Spirit upon all flesh is the celebration of the Promise of the Father which was shed forth as prophesied, first in Acts chapter 2, then throughout the time of the Apostles, down through human history, and then in my heart.

It is, I understand, impossible to make a case for the way Christmas is observed being in the Word. But is there a place for it, or could it be seen as serving some purpose?  I know we are not commanded to observe it, nor do I personally find a place where it is clearly forbidden (I know that line of thought opens a whole other set of questions). I realize there are people who feel very strongly about this issue and would be well prepared to enlighten all on the dangers of the celebration as it now stands.  I believe sincerely-held convictions should be kept, and anyone has the right to explain and defend them as they see fit.

It is just not my intention here to enter that debate, and I respectfully ask that it not be carried out in response to this little presentation of my perspective.

Christmas?

It surprises some who are out of the mainstream of Christian thought that there would be any question about whether Christians would celebrate Christmas. Please note, again, that I am not using this platform to offend anyone who has sincere convictions against any aspect of this celebration. I get that there are people who go into debt to impress people who care nothing about them, just because the season “calls” for gifts to be given. I get that people get deeper into their shame and ungodliness because tradition “calls” for a bigger party this time of year. I get that retailers make huge profits off the mania that entices parents to buy the latest and greatest and biggest and best for kids and grand-kids.

I even get that “Christmas” is not in the Bible, as “Easter” is.  There is no recorded instance of its being observed, as the Apostle Paul spoke of traveling to Jerusalem in time for Easter. And I get that the “-mas” part of the word was referring to the Catholic mass, which is far away from my idea of “church”.  At the time it became a celebration, though, “mass” was the only recorded type of service being held, as the officially recognized church body (and the one that created the narrative of history in that time period) was the Roman Catholic church.

When the prophesied Gift was first given, it was, in fact, only recognized by a host of angels in the heavens who chose to reveal it to a few shepherds, and later by wise men from the East who followed a star. So why would someone whose faith draws the lines between herself and the world a lot further back than most people even consider dipping a toe in the pool of Christmas celebrations as they are today?

Why indeed?

Because HE CAME.

The God of Heaven, Who created all things by His Word, chose to robe Himself in flesh and come to the world: the frail, foil-able humans He made, who couldn’t seem to get it right no matter how hard they tried.  That was the moment that all of the world — all of history  — changed.  Forever.

The fact that He chose to keep the advent of His power-robed-in-flesh almost a secret in the beginning makes it all the more powerful. It would be easy here to review so many prophecies that were fulfilled by the way He came: the place, the time, the kings (wise men) coming to the “brightness of His rising”– the magi who followed the star — the wrath of Herod seeking to destroy Him and bereaving Rachel of her children in the process…

The balance of this post could cover those.  As I’m referring to my perspective, let me just say that studying how those things fell perfectly into place, whether or not it was understood that way at the moment by those involved, brings welling-up joy to my spirit.

Listing my favorite scriptures along this line would be a worth-while use of my time and yours. I’ll suffice it, though, with my very favorite, Isaiah 9:6:  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Did you hear that? The Mighty God. The Everlasting Father.

I have elaborated elsewhere on where this scripture fits in our understanding of Who it was that came.

But my goal in the time I have your attention as a reader (if that hasn’t already run out) is to shed light on another aspect: what happens to the world at this time of year.  Yes, I said, the world.

It’s different at Christmas

We have the sense that special things happen this time of year.  To what degree that perspective is influenced by sweet stories thought up by writers like me is difficult to determine> But still, I believe special things do happen around Christmas.  If people are going to think of their families, make an effort to be with them by any means possible, and in some cases reconcile long-held differences, this is more likely to happen during this season.  In all fairness, if families are going to split over whose house the grand-kids go to first, or how much to put on the credit card, this is also more likely to happen.

Still, there is a moment in the year when some stop to think, even on a shallow level, of something, and Someone, they would not otherwise think of. I believe the divide between man and Heaven grows thinner for a few days at this season, and that hearts can be enticed to consider something they otherwise are not wont to think of.  I submit that even the inappropriate addressing of this season by some still serves to point to the fact that it exists, for better or for worse.

I submit that the most amazing thing about Christmas is that it happens, year after year.  Somewhere around Thanksgiving we begin to turn our hearts from the mundane of what our schedule requires to consider a wonder beginning to take place.  In the book that launches the Pevensie children into Narnia — The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe — a sad state of affairs where evil’s grip has imposed a cold so pervasive that it is “always winter but never Christmas” begins to subtly change as Aslan, the figure whose presence represents a redeemer, begins to make his influence known in that land.  Ice begins to thaw, snow turns to slush, and soon sunshine, green grass, and flowers appear.  That phenomenon parallels what I begin to feel as the season draws near, and I ponder the wonder of what happened when He came, and what occurs every year at the remembrance of it.

Is this okay?

So what about the weird, wild, or crazy things that people are doing in the name of Christmas? Is that okay? I somewhat believe people keep – or don’t keep – Christmas according to what’s already in their hearts.  Those who have chosen debauchery as a lifestyle, choose that at Christmas-time as well.  Those who are choosing to seek the Holy One the rest of the year are seeking how to honor Him best during this time.  And those who aren’t sure how to please Him, but sincerely want to know, are those who most are needing His touch. I submit that touch is best made transferred through the hands and hearts of those of us who know Him.  Whatever our choices are at this season, let them be made with a love and adoration that is a real and true reflection of the truth of God that will work in any month of the year.

I was blessed to get a degree in psychology and sociology for my undergraduate studies.  That didn’t qualify me to do a whole lot, but to observe how we tend to think and behave, both individually and in groups.  One of the most convincing aspects of there being a reality to Christmas is how we change at this “most wonderful time of the year”. You can’t deny people start to look at things differently; there’s some joy here and there, some kindness, and some caring.  Please know that I’m not such a Pollyanna that I only see the good.  I realize that losses and sadness and loneliness are much more keenly felt as well, but only (I believe) because there is so much joy that surrounds this season until the lack of expected joy seems so cruel to those who don’t have it.

Even efforts to stamp out the phrase “Merry Christmas” from the lips of employees calls attention to the fact that there is a “Christmas” to be celebrated at all.  It really doesn’t matter to me if they say Merry Christmas or “Happy Holidays”, as this most special one falls within a trio that runs from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.  Collectively it’s easier to wish someone joy for all than for each one separately.  Let each person say what fits their conscience.  They’re not going to damage Christmas, in my opinion.

The joy

There is much more that could be said, but it’s Christmas, and we don’t all have our presents wrapped yet.  Just think on this: in the midst of the self-imposed craziness — because we try in good faith to do more than we possibly have time to do — turn your heart upward for a moment, and say, “Thank you, God, that You came. Teach me to joy in your presence and to honor You with my observance of that awesome moment in history.”   I believe the God Who instituted seven separate times of feasting for His chosen people in the Old Testament will not necessarily take offense that we have a celebration over His coming to earth to redeem us from our sins.

I truly wish you and yours a most blessed and joyous holiday season, and especially a glorious remembrance that He came.

 

BUT IF NOT: Coming to a city near you

“Read it again, Mommy.”

I really don’t remember the number of times, but I know they were many. I picture where they all took place.  As we snuggled in for bedtime reading after family prayer, my young daughter would ask for the story about the three Hebrew children of Daniel chapter 3.  For several weeks it was the only story she wanted to hear.

We began to feel we were marching in with Nebuchadnezzar’s guests: the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces. The melodic names of instruments danced off our tongues: the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music.  You remember the story, right? The beautiful tones signaled the throng to bow themselves and worship the Babylonian king’s enormous golden image.

The most memorable part, of course, was the choice of the three young men, dubbed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo — captives, exiles, cut off from their opportunity to worship God as they knew to do, but elevated to the king’s ministry by their distinction above his other ministers. These worshipers of the One True Living God stood up to Nebuchadnezzar and declared that they would not bow, that their God was able to deliver them, and this: “But if not, be it known unto you, O king, that we will not bow.” They would be delivered, or else they would die, but they would not surrender.

In May, 1940, 350,000 British and Allied troops faced certain destruction when they became trapped at the port city of Dunkirk, France. The Nazi Blitzkrieg had just raced across that country and outmaneuvered what were thought to be impenetrable defenses. It appeared the entire British Expeditionary Force — practically all of Britain’s army — was about to be annihilated, along with thousands of others standing in defense of Europe against Hitler’s maniacal aggression.

The story is told of a British commander who telegraphed this simple message to his homeland: “But if not.”  The intent was instantly recognized.  The troops desired, of course, to be rescued; they wanted to avoid the destruction heading their way. But whether it came or it didn’t come, they would not bow, they would never surrender.

In this case, as in the original story, help did come.  Their choice of response to certain death galvanized a rescue effort that came to be known as “The Miracle of Dunkirk.” The inadequate number of military vessels in the harbor were joined by private fishing boats, yachts, lifeboats, rowboats, and any other craft that could be floated, ferrying 338,000 men to safety. An equally brave force stayed behind to engage the enemy and delay its advance.

As of this writing, we in the U.S. who worship the One True Living God remain comfortably isolated from the choice faced by those three Hebrew boys.  “Turn from your faith or die” doesn’t often come up on this shore. Believers in other parts of the world face it daily.  Do you realize that there will come a day when no one is spared? Whether that comes in our lifetime or not, we must not see this persecution as to whether it effects “us” or “them.”  True followers of our Master know that the Body of Christ has no geographic boundaries, and that when one member suffers, all suffer. At the minimum, we must pray for those in persecution’s grip today, advocate for them where we can, and assist in any way that is opened to us.  But we must wake ourselves from slumber and recognize that for Biblical prophecy to come to pass, as it seems to be rapidly doing, the current state of things cannot continue always.

We must be ready to die.

How does that make you feel? Have you thought lately that the way the world is shaping up–where hackers can access your bank account at any time they set their sights on it, where the most closely-guarded servers have to repel attacks continuously, where illegal drugs, guns, and terrorists’ weapons of choice are traded daily beneath the radar of law enforcement–there is coming a day when “the solution” will be introduced?  I posted on Facebook after the bombings in Paris that terrorized people become willing to accept greater controls over their liberty than those who feel they securely occupy their land.

This is not a exegesis on the book of Revelation, but the most elementary student of the Bible knows that a time is coming when no one can buy nor sell without something that is imposed upon them, stamped into their flesh, which allows them to continue to participate in commerce as they did before.  I could go on for awhile about how much more immediately relevant those prophecies seem today than when I first believed thirty years ago. For example, the scriptures saying that those who refuse the mark will be beheaded made me wonder if that was just symbolic term for execution in general back then, as I was not aware of much beheading being done in the decades since the French Revolution of the 18th century. It is a gruesome daily event in many areas now.

Being inflammatory is a great way to get people to read and respond to what you are saying.  I try to avoid that cheap trick at all costs.  You either read someone’s writing because it speaks to you, or else you move on to something that does. But if God has given me a platform to have others consider anything He wants them to be thinking on, then there are times when the only option is to stand and say, “This is what the Word says, and we must hear and consider its implications for our own lives.”

I say again, “We must be ready to die.” That is the only way to face the “mark of the beast”. Many are prepping for a breakdown of the things we know.  But stores of things will not only run out, they will also make the owners targets.  After they run out, then what? Have we gained that much by extending our security just a little? Many who experienced the devastating floods in Louisiana weren’t “preppers” as the term has become popular, but had enough to spare and to share. In 24 hours time, they had nothing but the help of others to rely on.  I say that not in any way to be critical, for we should do the best we can with what we’re given, but it amazed me how quickly even the fruits of wise living evaporated before our eyes; as even as lives were forever changed.

In the days to come, we would be the most thankful that we were spending these days not prepping by storing up things, but by getting our hearts ready. Ready to live without our mobile devices and technology, because the God who sent Philip to find the Ethiopian eunuch in his chariot without a GPS can bring to us the information we need when we walk in His Spirit.  Ready to not know where the next meal is coming from, because the God Who sent the ravens to feed his prophet knows where we live. Ready to face uncertainty about our family members, because we were already told that when we truly follow our Master, we are taking up a Cross — something He gave up His life on — and putting Him ahead of father, mother, sister, brother, and child.  Again, this isn’t a “somewhere in the bye and bye” for many who profess Christianity today.  Crucifixions are regularly carried out by ISIS, as but one of their gruesome execution methods.

If we are ready to leave this world if deliverance doesn’t come, and if we are full of His Spirit when the final choices come, then when we refuse the mark of the Beast, we must understand that we will live as long as He wants us to–sustained by a raven if that is what He chooses, or martyred for His glory. You see, the story of the Gospel is that sometimes the “bad guys win,” but only for a night.  Joy–eternal joy–comes in the morning, but only if the corn of wheat falls to the earth and dies. 

I know I could have written about many more enjoyable things today, and God willing, I will do so again.  But it is most needful that we look at the reality of the scriptures, and the world around us.  Pastor Bowen has talked of being stirred much in the past few months to pray that God will help us be ready for what is coming on the church.  God doesn’t waste that kind of stirring. 

Be uncomfortable.  Stir yourself to seek God.  Make up your mind that now will be the time you will begin to dig more deeply and if necessary, to forsake all and follow Him.  You will never, now or in eternity, be sorry you did so.