Saturday, August 27, 2011

Present Living in Light of Prophecy

This article is the final entry in our prophecy trilogy. In part 1, we examined the question, Are we living in the last days?. We determined that the Bible gives many clues on how to recognize the signs and events indicating that the end is near, but that no one knows the date or time. In part 2, The Study of Bible Prophecy - in Perspective, we discussed the study of prophecy within the context of our overall Bible study practice. We now turn our attention to the subject of practical living while awaiting the return of our Lord Jesus.

For those who have yet to secure their salvation, or for others that are unsure, the most important step is to make sure of your eternal destination. Once Jesus returns, it will be too late (Mt 25:1-13). For information on how to deal with this critical matter, see How to Know for Sure that You're Going to Heaven.

For believers, we turn to the last writing by the Apostle Peter just before his martyrdom. In the first two chapters of his second epistle, he testifies to being an eyewitness to the events and teachings of Jesus, and to the reliability of Scripture. He then profiles false teachers, against whom he warns his readers to be on guard. In the final chapter, he turns his attention to the last days, explaining that the heavens and earth have been stored with fire, awaiting the final judgment. He then writes of Jesus’ return:

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. (2Pe 3:8-10)
Peter then asks a question which reveals his true purpose for writing about the last days, “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?”. He then proceeds to answer his own question, “You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God…” (2Pe 3:11-12).

Therefore, we must not become complacent, but continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as we live our lives in eager expectation of his return. As Adrian Rogers once said, “We ought to be living as though Jesus died yesterday, rose this morning, and is coming back this afternoon”.

When Jesus ascended back into heaven after His first advent, He sent the Holy Spirit to guide and empower us to live our lives worthy of our calling within this world, yet also set apart from it. We are also encouraged to live righteously because of the hope He has given us. This “hope” is not merely a “wish for”, but a confident assurance that all of God’s promises for us will be fulfilled according to His perfect plan, a plan that can’t be altered by the forces of this world. The word “hope” is mentioned over 150 times in the Bible, such as hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Rom 5:5). As Christians, we have inner peace, fellowship with other believers, unseen angelic helpers, a purpose for living, and the one true God that we can call upon at any time. We also have the assurance that God will work all things for good for those who love Him (Rom 8:28).

To summarize this trilogy of articles, we can say that no one knows the exact day or time that Jesus will return, so we are to be watchful and prepared by living holy and righteous lives. We should balance our study of Biblical prophecy within our overall study of the Scriptures. Finally, while the media and others are in full panic as current events unfold around us, we as Christians can be confident that God is in sovereign control of all that is happening, and of all that will transpire between now and the last day.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Poetry about Life

I’ve been spending the majority of my free time over the past few weeks on a couple of projects on the main website. We’ve now taken down our original blog, which was more like a semi-blog with limited interactivity with our readers. The articles are now linked from various other sections according to their subject. Most can be found in our Religion and Culture, Christian Living, or Military and Patriotism sections. We’ll probably also link a few from this blog in the near future.

Next, we’ve finally completed our William "Poet Bill" Childers Poetry section that began about three years ago. Bill had published one book of poetry, Integrity of The Spirit, Escaping The Mind-Game!, and was working on his newest, to be tentatively called Leaves from the Acorn Tree. Unfortunately, health issues delayed, then finally canceled this project, so he graciously gave us the transcripts to publish on our website instead.

I met Poet Bill via one of my best friends, a Dallas Police Officer during the time that Bill was their precinct chaplain. Bill served as a USMC tank gunner in the Korean War before becoming an ordained Minister with the Methodist Church. He then returned to active duty with the US Navy for 21 years, including a year in Vietnam as a Chaplain with the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines. After returning home to the First United Methodist Church in Dallas, Bill eventually retired but continued to teach Sunday School, where he often read his poetry and played his guitar. He even wrote a few songs.

Shortly after we met, his health failed and he was placed in assisted living. During my last visit, he told me how he couldn’t understand “the fuss some people made” over his poetry. He never thought of his poetry as anything special. As we talked about our various writings, we discovered a common experience. We both worked hard on many writings of which we were proud, yet they often were met with a ho-hum from readers. At other times, we wrote things out of a “sense of duty” that we didn’t think much of, only to receive glowing feedback from many folks. We could only explain this by God working though our imperfect efforts, proving once again that our works often return void, yet His never do.

After this last visit, I was sorry to hear that Bill was transferred to an out of the area facility, so we lost touch about two years ago. At the time, I had only published a small percentage of his poems. His computer had crashed, and I only had paper copies of the transcripts. I typically won’t publish anything by others on the website without reading it first. Since I’d never developed an appreciation for poetry, and didn’t know much about it (other than the Hebrew poetry of the Bible), I started to break my rule by scanning and running OCR software on the poems. I’m now very glad I didn’t. By re-typing them, I was able to read them in depth and discover many additional details about Bill since he wrote extensively of his life within his poetry.

Poet Bill wrote stories about his life, his friends, his family, his military service and so much more. I was very blessed to know him, even for a very short time. Yet, for those who knew him, it almost seems as if he’s still here every time we read one of his poems. We are very proud to publish Bill’s poetry and hope they bless our readers as much as they have us.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

July 2011 Review

I’m getting a little break in schedule at work, so here’s a brief review of major events from July.

Our toons this month include the economy, jobs, debt deal and more. See the archive at July 2011 Toon Review. Enjoy and continue praying for our nation.