Four Horsemen

Do you ever try to figure out how the stuff in Revelation is going to go down and the World will just blow it off like, “Yeah, it sucks… but whatevs”.   I’ve had a theory for a while that things are just going to continue to get worse and worse until life as we know it will be so bad that the judgements of God will just be … worse.  Well, of course that’s very much like labor pangs.  They start out light and build up.

Anyway, I decided tonight was a good night to spit this out on paper.  This week has been rough as I watch the world get worse and worse and more and more hateful.   Please feel free to discuss in comments!!

2 Thessalonians 2: 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.

  • In other words, they’ll believe it’s just a dark chapter in history.  Most deluding influences in the Bible involve initial self-deception that God causes to stick so that the folks self-deluding can’t go back on their choice at the last minute.
  • Scholars are divided about whether or not folks can be saved in the Trib, and then again divided about who can be saved if folks can be saved.  Ice-water fills my veins when I think that there are solid men of God who don’t believe (based on this verse) that those who had the gospel given to them prior to the start of the Trib will be able to be saved.  I pray that God instead chooses to smack the World upside the head for His usual purposes, to get their attention in a last-minute bid for faith.   I have too many unsaved friends to do other than hold that hope… and I don’t believe that God would torment the earth for that long without a *reason*.   That’s not in character.  If He’s just going to squish something, He doesn’t mess around.

2 Thessalonians 2:And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.

  • Those of us who believe in the Rapture consider this a reference to the Holy Spirit.  Because each believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, when we leave, the earth will have less of a presence of the Spirit, thus less restraint.  And frankly, believers stop a lot of evil just by being faithful to God.

Revelation 6:2  I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.

  • This is generally understood as AntiChrist.   Someone’s going to show up, and much of the World is going to greet him as a savior. The more division we sow, the worse the economy, the bigger the mess, the better a charismatic ruler who can “fix everything” is going to sound.   You can see this hunger developing now.  We’ve had plenty of demagogues in our time, I don’t know that this is particularly difficult to envision.

Revelation 6: And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.

  • This doesn’t mean war, per say – this means a warlike spirit.  I think that the riots we’re seeing are only the beginning.  Violence between individuals, races, nations.  Humans are nasty critters, and the evil in men’s hearts will finally be manifest.

Revelation 6:5 When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”

  • Note that basic foods are expensive and luxury foods are not damaged.

Revelation 6:8 I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.

  • The additional causes of death here are pestilence and wild beasts.  All four horsemen together kill 1/4 of the world’s population.   Can we look at pestilence?  How many diseases have threatened us with major plagues in the last five years, only to be tamped down?  How would it be if antibiotic resistant strains of Ebola and Spanish Flu showed up, while Zika caused babies to die en masse?  (I always watch disease that disproportionately affects children and babies, as I think as many as possible will be spared the experience of the Tribulation.  No, I don’t believe in infant damnation).
  • Wild beasts are odd.  There just aren’t that many hungry polar bears sitting outside weather stations… I believe the Word, I just don’t see this.   Yet. Of course “wild beasts” can be quite small.  Insects are beasts.

Revelation 6:11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.

  • Martyrs.   Well, we’ve all noticed that serious Christians are about as popular as Chicken Pox these days.  *That’s* only going to get worse.

………….

Stuff I look at – carcinogens in the water supply.  Killing off the bees.  Pandemics.  Changing attitudes.  Food instability.  It’s creepy out there, folks.  As Pastor Mike says, “The trumpet case is open”.  :P

My heart cries because of the ugliness we humans have embraced, and I scream maranatha with my whole heart.  And then I think about my beloved unsaved and I can’t scream it so loud.

It’s hard to understand that we’re on mission until we’re called off the field.  This is a war zone, and our various ways to forget that it has always been one are disappearing.   It was CS Lewis who said that the very presence of our craving for the undiscovered country was proof that it exists…

One day we’ll get our rewards, and live in peace and plenty and perfection – but that day is not today.

Everyone wants help

In theory, we know that we’re all part of the Body of Christ, and therefore we all have different jobs and different giftings to do those jobs.  In practice, I’ve not met anyone who was passionate about their job who didn’t want everyone to come help!

There are worse things.

So, *I* think that every child of God should be out there loving on folks and making time in their lives to listen.  What do you mean you “don’t have counsel?”… doesn’t everyone have counsel?   Same goes for those who have evangelism.  Yes, I spread the gospel.   Can you find anyone who knows me who doesn’t know that I’m a Christian?  But I’ve never closed the deal.  Talked, discussed, debated, enthused, gushed, witnessed… but not helped someone down the Romans Road.

I’ve prayed healing.  Don’t have it on tap.  I’m encouraging enough that there’s a good chance I’m going to sprout pom-poms from my wrists some night.   I can explain, though my teaching is meh.  Obviously I’m not a pastor or apostle.  I don’t have (or especially want) tongues.

We really *can’t* all do the same stuff.  I’d like to heal and do miracles and evangelize – but I don’t have the gifts.  I ask.   I figure I’m supposed to ask, I don’t get too bent out of shape by the “no”.

I think it’s a lot like volunteering opportunities.  As a SAHM rolling her kids off into independence, it’s like I poured a vat of honey on my head, I’ve got enough folks hovering around, hoping I’ll come volunteer with them.    Not a bad thing, and most of the causes are worthy.   I do what I can do… I use the gifts I have… but not everyone can do everything.

That’s the point of being a Body – my thumb can’t hear, my ear can’t open a jar.  I want open jars and hearing, so I need both.

And I’ll probably still feel guilty about not getting everything done for everyone…😀

Being softened

I love the way God works.  Not saying it’s always my favorite, but at the same time I love it, love the knowledge that I’m not to be allowed to be too stupid.

Had gotten myself properly keyed up about my business, and freaked out because try as I could, I couldn’t make clients appear out of thin air.  My method of dealing with obstacles is to back off and attack from another angle.  Perfect recipe for success – according to the World.  And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.  It’s good.

But.  But what I do is get keyed up and focus on myself and depend on myself and… it goes downhill from there pretty fast.  I stop relying on grace, and start relying on works.  I forget that it is God who will provide, not me.  I just work harder.  (Again, not a bad thing in general – it’s what it does to me in specific that’s a problem).

And finally, when I have myself wound up to the point that a sudden loud noise can send me weeping off to my bedroom… I get with God and am told, “In My time, not in yours.  In My season, not according to your plan.  Take your hands off the wheel, you gave it to Me, and I’m not giving it back.”  And then I take a deep breath and stop trying to grab control out of His hands… and find that my creativity comes back, that ideas for my business start flowing, that opportunity opens up… and that, honestly, I’m working just as hard, but I’m not *depending* on myself, I’m just doing what’s in front of me to do.

This, this requirement that I stay softened, is consistent throughout my life.  Whenever I’ve felt like it’s time to gird up and fight hard … I’ve had my armor pulled off and my sword confiscated.   Sometimes that’s really hurt.  Sometimes, like this time, it was just a reminder to not be a dork.

I can’t do my job if I harden myself.  My real job isn’t image consultant, it’s …whatever you’d call the last post.  I don’t think English is a good language to use the words, “freelance Lover of people”, I really don’t.  -rolls on the floor laughing-  But I can’t DO that if I don’t fill myself up with love and joy and have my eyes open for need.

Pastor Mike had a sermon last week … last verse of 1 John.  No idols.  It triggered the realization that I’d started depending on me.   This week has been a week of letting go, releasing the push, and finally, yesterday, sleeping virtually the whole day through.   Has this been totally fixed? Nope.  I’m going to have to remind myself to depend on God and not on me every day…. and that’s a lesson, and a form of softening, in and of itself.

And that’s fine.   Ultimately while I have plenty of wishes… my most profound desire is to be the woman that God wants me to be.  He knows best.  And me?  I’ll just laugh at Him reining me in once again.

Leaving Doors Open

doitanyway

 

I’ve been having a conversation with a friend of mine who doesn’t understand why I leave friendship’s door open to people whom I do not trust.   It’s simple.  My function in this world is to offer counsel and solace – I can’t *do* that if people can’t find me.  Why do I leave the door open?  Because they might need me.

Someday that crazy person might get their head out of their rear end and look up and be ready to hash out their hurts and sorrows, be ready to come to Jesus, or be ready to get their lives back on track.  Someday, they’ll need a friend.   And they will look around at a lot of bridges burnt, but my door will be open.   It’s happened, and it’s happened more than once.

Sometimes they think that I’m stupid.  I can usually tell when someone thinks they’re deceiving the innocent.  Being kind is generally equated with low intelligence.  (This makes me roll my eyes, but whatever).

I’m just “here” for a lot of sane folks too.  Someone has to do it, and I enjoy it.  Shovels want to shovel, I want to make it better, it’s what I was made to do.

I live in trepidation of the parable of the talents – I know very well that I have been greatly gifted with love and support, and I have been carefully protected through many of life’s storms.   My “service”, if you will, is PLEASANT, usually easy, and causes me no distress.  What does cause me distress is the thought that God would send someone to my door and I would fail them.

This is my brand of noblesse oblige.  To whom much has been given, much will be expected… I have been given Love, and I honestly don’t think I’m *capable* of giving it back in the quantities which I’ve been blessed.  But I’m going to try.

And if somewhere along the line, I Love someone who doesn’t deserve it?  I don’t care.  It’s not about me.

This is what I’m for.  Loving.   I … don’t have the right words exactly, but if you know, you know.  You know?  :D

Anyway.  I’ve been trying to figure out how to explain “why” to my friend, and I saw that quote and then it all merged.  So.  There ya go.

This Means You

Some of you aren’t going to church.

But you can get fed anyway.  Come to church with me.  Personally I find the music translates very poorly over the computer speakers, so I’d skip the singing, which means all the services start about half an hour after the official start time.  If you like, you can also watch older sermons.

Links.

 

http://calvaryoceanside.faithnetwork.com/  (live stream – services @ 5:55pm Sat; 9 & 11 on Sunday – which means watch @ 630/930/1130 for just sermon stuff – Pacific time)

if you miss it, wait a couple of days, and find the archived sermons here.  All the archived sermons, if you are just curious about the crazed Calvary Chapel people.

http://subsplash.com/ccoceanside/s/f7b75bc/

How we weaken ourselves… Division

This is my personal axe to grind, with the folks that come and read my blog, all ten of you.

This era in which we find ourselves living in is not a good time for us to fight amongst ourselves.  Those of us who are serious about living a life to the glory of God, who believe the Word of God, who have a meaningful relationship with Christ Jesus – we’re family.  God said so.

Now, I don’t have any sibs IRL, but I’ve observed sibling relationships, and you know… lots of siblings drive each other nutterbutters.   That seems to be pretty normal.  But they’re family, and when chips are down, they have each others’ backs.

I don’t always agree with all of y’all.  That would be impossible, y’all don’t agree with each other.  But I respect you.  I respect your walk of faith.  I respect your allegiance to Christ.   I see how you’re living your lives (insofar as we can, through computer screens) and I see that you’re walking the talk, that you’re consistent.

I don’t care how we do this, but I am beseeching you – we need to mend our fences and get to a place where we can have a few Christmas parties where everyone laughs and someone eats too many cookies.   We need to have prayer meetings.  We need to support one another.

We don’t have to agree.  But now is not the time to fight out the minutiae – now is the time to come together and act like family.  Yeah, sometimes that means pigtail pulling… but we need to leave knowing that we love one another.

When we separate out and stop caring for one another, we play into the enemy’s hands.  Let’s, instead, come together. Please?

1 John 2:Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10 The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (NASB)

Subtle Ways the Culture Wars on Faith

Last post I talked about how The World, The Flesh, and The Devil have always been the pulls against true Christianity, and how just because the World used to mask itself more flatteringly, doesn’t mean it was an ally in truth.

But there are ways in which the culture of the post-Christian West is making it increasingly difficult to grow a mature Christian faith.

  1. Permanent Adolescence/The Worship of Youth (Selfishness)
  2. Creeping Spirituality/Non-Christian beliefs

The Worship of Youth comes in as many forms as a centipede has legs, but at its core there is a concentration on the good things that come with the stage of life when most of us are running about finding mates and figuring out what we’re going to do with our lives.  That potential is something that the modern doesn’t want to let go of, even well after that stage of life has ended.  The value in maturing, having confidence in one’s skills, being slower to speak …. they’re completely devalued, at least until retirement age.  This weakens the Christian, because it concentrates us 1) on the World and the Flesh *very* effectively and 2) reduces the number of mature people (much less mature, committed Christians) to have as pillars of our communities and examples of life well lived.   On the contrary, our examples are those who have held onto youth with teeth and toenails.   This worship has seriously weakened our families and marriages.

Creeping Spirituality is another way in which our culture has made it more difficult to grow mature Christians.  The doctrine of Hell has disappeared, having been replaced by a vague “catch you next life” belief in reincarnation.  Absolutes  have been erased, and “all roads lead to Heaven” is the core belief of most folks – if they think about it at all, which is something that is no longer socially acceptable (see worship-of-youth).  If the vaguely new-age spiritualities aren’t embraced, some sense that all of the monothestic gods are the same god has been, and “whatever works for you” is the mantra of the hour.  All of this makes it very difficult to structure your life with the understanding both that you only get one life, and that your existence doesn’t end with your last breath, that there are consequences for your actions.  Consequences and judgement, the very concept of eternal justice, they’ve all fallen victim to Creeping Spirituality.

An enemy that faces you square on is an enemy that makes you stronger.  It might be an enemy that makes the less-committed of your force run and hide or change sides, but those who stay will gird themselves, make themselves stronger, and become better warriors.

An enemy that pretends to be a friend, an enemy that pretends to be harmless, that’s the enemy that will stick a knife in your back or poison in your soup when your defenses are down.   There’s a reason that history has chosen to treat traitors and moles with heavier sentences (and greater contempt) than captured enemies.

The enemy that pretends to be harmless until the moment the knife is bared is far more dangerous in the long run, and this is the enemy we have been fighting for the last fifty years.   As we now see the blade, we’re running in circles and screeching because so many of our fellow warriors have been weakened by the poison that they’ve been filling the wells with.  But now, now we can see the blade, and now we can gird ourselves more effectively.  There are benefits, if we’ll look to them – consider also that some of “our team” will defect, but remember… if they’re ready to defect, they weren’t of God *anyway*.

The times are changing, and those who called themselves our friends are showing their true faces.  We mourn, and rightly so – but I say that we should also rejoice, because our choices are clearer now than they have been for many a year.