Thursday, December 31, 2009

Alien Invasion of the Righteous Kind

Our good friend Thomas sent us an recent email exchange with a Christian lady regarding the second coming of Christ that he wanted to share with our readers. The timing of this is very appropriate. As we close out another year, we are reminded that we’re also further down the line on our road to eternity.

Thomas originally sent the following email to several folks.

But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. (2Pe 3:8-9 NLT)

God may have seemed slow to these believers as they faced persecution every day and longed to be delivered. But God is not slow; he just is not on our timetable. Jesus is waiting so that more sinners will repent and turn to him.

We must not sit and wait for Christ to return, but we should live with the realization that time is short and that we have important work to do. Be ready to meet Christ any time, even today; yet plan your course of service as though he may not return for many years.

The nice lady replied that this thought had been on her mind lately. She had watched a couple of movies that were fictitious, but contained a real “underlying meaning” to them that made her take a step back and evaluate her life, as well as those around her. She wondered who would be chosen, and who would be left behind because they couldn’t make a decision or stand up and fight for what they believed. We must clarify here that the lady is making a general contemplation, and is not doctrinally implying that we will be saved by making a one-time intellectual decision, or left behind due to a lack of works. We are saved by faith alone, but this saving faith will produce a changed life, and a lack of works will result in lost blessings (Eph 2:8-10, 1Cor 3:10-15).

Thomas replied, speaking of Christ’s return and Satan’s deception:

Thank you. Sometimes, I get very anxious about the Lord’s return to planet earth (Wow!) and I pray that He returns soon, but when I read 2 Peter 3:8-9, it reminds me of how much Jesus loves us! We are created in their image and likeness! In this sense, they (the Trinity) are our ancestors; we are family (all true believers are adopted in Christ)! The Holy Trinity wants all to repent and be saved. We must have patience and wait for the promise of His return, even if we die before His arrival (the dead in Christ will rise first).

Revelation 19:11-21 describes what I call an alien invasion of a righteous kind! Some of the elements within the account of Christ’s return remind me of some of the alien movies that I have seen over the years. Perhaps, the best known is War of the Worlds, based on a science-fiction novel by HG Wells about a Martian invasion of the earth. In 1938, Orson Welles broadcast an adaptation of the book on radio, but he aired the play as a series of dance numbers being periodically interrupted by “news bulletins” of the invasion. This was done to heighten the dramatic effect, and it would be a gross understatement to say that this technique worked. People panicked and went into frenzy! Many were treated for shock and hysteria. In New Jersey, even some members of our armed reserves reported for duty in anticipation of this invasion, only to discover that it was a hoax!

This event graphically illustrates how easily we can be deceived, and Satan is the master deceiver (Jn 8:44). Indeed, with believers, this is his primary weapon (1Jn 4:1-6), and one of his primary avenues from before 1938 to the present is through the accommodating media. We continue to see his plans unfolding through television (the V series), the movies (Independence Day, War of the worlds, etc), and targeting our kids through games, cartoons, books, etc. Satan is the god of this world and the prince of the power of the air, who works in the sons of disobedience. Getting back to Revelation 19, Satan knows that Jesus will return and the master deceiver is preparing those who do not believe and will not repent, to join him as he dares to assemble the nations of the earth together to fight against the rider (Jesus) on the white horse and the armies that follow Him. To make a long story short, Jesus wins, and we see the fate of Satan’s counterfeit trinity, along with Satan himself in Rev 19:17-20:15.

I know this sounds fantastic! Almost unbelievable! But, it is no less amazing than our belief in the first coming of Jesus Christ. God came to earth in human flesh, born of a virgin, to save man from sin. He died on the cross, arose from the dead on the third day, was seen by eye witnesses, and ascended into heaven. Just as the first coming of Christ was literally fulfilled in history, so the future second coming of Christ will be fulfilled in the same literal manner. Unlike the War of the Worlds however, it will not be a hoax! In fact, the second coming of Christ is one of the most oft-mentioned events in both the OT (Ps 2, 96:10-13, 110, Ezk 37:15-28, Dn 7:13-14, Zech 12, 14:1-9) and the NT (Mt 24:27-31, 25:31-46, Mk 13:24-27, Lk 12:35-40, 17:24-37, 18:8, 21:25-28, Ac 1:10-11, Rm 11:25-27, 2Th 2:1-12, 2Pe 3:3-4, Jd 14-15, Rev 1:7-8 etc).

So, what should we do in the meantime? First, be ready (Mt 24:44) by making sure you have a guaranteed reservation waiting in heaven through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Next, become a true disciple (student and/or learner) by consistently reading the word. Let the comforter and teacher, the Holy Spirit, help mold you into the mind of Christ, so that we will not believe the great lie! In His Love, Thomas

For those who are not sure that they are guaranteed the reservation (eternal life) that Thomas mentioned, please see How to Be Sure You’re are Going to Heaven.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Horatio Spafford

We hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas. Our youngest son is currently home, visiting from the Marines for the next few days. While cleaning out the office closet over the weekend, I found an old article from my hometown paper that I’d like to share, after doing some additional research on some of the details.

The article was about Horatio Spafford (1828-1888), an affluent medical attorney and Presbyterian elder, who was a good friend of Dwight L Moody and correspondent of Thomas Jefferson. Living with his wife Anna and three daughters in 1871 Chicago, the great fire ravaged over a third of the city and left almost 100,000 people homeless. Though sustaining major financial loss (he was heavily invested in real estate), the Spaffords worked tirelessly for the next two years, helping victims to restore some normalcy in their lives.

In 1873, the Spaffords, along with their now four daughters, decided to go to Europe to join Mr Moody and hymnist Ira Sankey on their evangelistic crusade, then vacation while on the continent. Prior to boarding the ship in New York, Horatio was detained on a last-minute business obligation, so he sent his wife and daughters on ahead on the ocean liner SS Ville de Havre with plans to join them shortly.

On November 21, 1873 however, the ship collided with a British vessel and sank in less than 15 minutes. Over two hundred people drowned, including the four Spafford daughters, but Anna was miraculously rescued. She arrived in Wales over a week later and cabled Horatio “Saved Alone”. Mr Spafford then sailed to meet his wife on the next available ship. As he was crossing the Atlantic, the ship’s captain pointed out the place where he thought the Ville du Havre had gone down. That night, while sitting in his cabin, he wrote the following hymn.

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea-billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to know:
"It is well, it is well with my soul."

Chorus:
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Tho' Satan should buffet, tho' trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed his own blood for my soul.

(Chorus)

My sin - oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin - not in part but the whole -
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more;
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh, my soul.

(Chorus)

And, Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend;
"Even so - it is well with my soul."

(Chorus)

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live,
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou shalt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

(Chorus)

It is Well with My Soul, 1873, Horatio Gates Spafford (Companion to the Baptist Hymnal)

My Grace is sufficient for you (2Cor 12:9).

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Stand for Christmas

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, or at least a modern facsimile. In many stores, the traditional "Merry Christmas" has been replaced with "Happy Holidays", "Seasons Greetings", the Gap's "Happy Whatever-you-Wannakah", and other politically correct slogans. I was at the local Walmart (one of the more Christmas-friendly retailers) at Spring Creek and Hwy 75 here in Plano on Saturday. The greeter was hollering out "Happy Holidays" to everyone, but was wearing a small “Merry Christmas” pendant, so I guess she was attempting to cover all bases. Next to her lay stacks of the liberal Dallas Morning News, which contained a front page story about "Holiday" shopping and festivities.

Christians exchange gifts each Christmas in celebration of the birthday of our Lord Jesus the Christ, and to honor our great God, who gave us the greatest gift of all on the first Christmas, the gift of His Son. Retailers want us to spend our money buying gifts, but deny the reason behind our buying. If we remove Christ from Christmas, we remove the reason for exchanging gifts.

Unfortunately, to most modern minds, the most important right guaranteed by the Constitution is the right to not be offended. This, of course, is not in the constitution (or the popular Separation of Church and State for that matter), but we wouldn’t know this from the decisions being made today. We see officials ordering the removal of any Christmas decorations whenever a single Scrooge complains that they are offended. The officials, however, rarely hesitate to offend the overwhelming majority who would like to see the decorations remain. Polls consistently show that even most unbelievers have no problem with the Christmas celebration.

I’m personally not offended by pagan holidays, or by those who choose to worship their false gods. I’m saddened of course, that so many people are missing out on the free gift of salvation, and we must continue to witness to the lost, but in a true pluralistic society, everyone is free to worship as they wish. That said, most liberals in government claim to believe in pluralism, but what they really promote is syncretism. Rather than each person being free to worship as they see fit, each person must accept all religions (except Christianity) as equal to their own, even combining bits and pieces of each religion to correspond to the god in their own mind.

Now, for the great news that our God is still in control. The retailer’s denial of "Christmas" in favor of the "Holidays" peaked a few years ago. Thanks to the diligent work of a few organizations along with their grassroots support, we saw an increasing acceptance of Christmas in a few stores last year, and this year promises to be even better. While we still see the typical denial from stores such as Best Buy, Old Navy, The Gap, Radio Shack, Banana Republic, Staples and others, we're seeing many more include "Christmas" in their catalogs, advertising and displays. I’m even hearing some religious Christmas music mixed with the usual Santa and Rudolph songs being played in some stores.

Gift buyers may check on which retailers tend to be friendly, negligent or even hostile to Christmas at the following sites. Consumers who visit Stand For Christmas can rate the retail chains as being "friendly," "negligent" or "offensive" toward observers of Christmas, and also leave comments on specific stores.

Stand for Christmas – from Focus on the Family (site removed)
”Naughty or Nice – from the American Family Association

For those who would like to know more about the legalities of observing Christmas in schools, government buildings or elsewhere, you may visit the Liberty Council, who is currently representing Christian organizations and individuals against attacks on our religious liberty. Finally, we encourage Christians to continue to support those retailers who acknowledge Christmas in their stores and ads, and who are not afraid to wish their customers a "Merry Christmas".