-Daniel Chapter 9-a “The 69 Weeks”

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Some Say the Antichrist Has Already Come

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Famous Failures of Prophetic Interpretation

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Alexander the Great comes to Jerusalem

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Daniel Chapter 8 preview

Hawks and doves (Part 1)

hawk&dove-flattenedAn hour ago I was on a walk, something I often do after getting back from church. Suddenly I started flaying my arms wildly as it sounded like a flock of birds was flying right at me. Then I saw that a dove or quail had been in some cactus right next to the sidewalk I was on and had taken off as I passed by. It flew into some bushes a few yards away and was followed closely by a small hawk.

The hawk perched on the eve of a house, directly above the bush where the dove was. This was surprising and looked interesting. I walked up the sidewalk and stood there to see what would happen. Basically nothing happened for several minutes. Standing there, I was thinking about the whole thing. Hawks stay alive by killing things. That’s just the nature of hawks. And of course the dove had been hiding from the hawk probably down in the cactus I’d just walked by and was simply trying to stay alive. I found myself sympathizing with the dove, although I understood the hawk’s viewpoint. I thought about shooing the hawk off but I would have had to walk into someone’s yard to do that. Also it wasn’t really essential that I get involved with this, even though my thoughts were with the dove.

I walked on down to the park, took my prayer time and walked back home. As I walked back by where the hawk and dove had been, I noticed that the hawk was gone. No feathers were on the yard or around. So my guess is that the hawk got tired of waiting for the dove to fly out of the bush and it went off, seeking better game.

I walked back home, thinking about my experiences at church today and in the last months. And I was thinking some about the hawk and the dove. There was the hawk, trying to prey upon the dove. And I was thinking if any of this was significant and maybe why the Lord let that happen right in front of me.

And the thought came to me that this was all a bit of an allegory of how some things are in some churches and in Christianity right now. Jesus said to His followers, “Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) When the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus, it was said to be like a dove. (Luke 3:22) Often God’s people are pictured as sheep but sometimes they are pictured as doves. Jesus called them “harmless”. So I suppose a real church or gathering of the people of God should be somewhat like a flock of doves, harmless, together and free. But from this experience today that the Lord was letting me have, I do have to admit that some churches I’ve been to are like that dove in the bush with the hawk just above it.

In 2010 in Houston, Texas, after returning from a lifetime of missionary service abroad, I was somewhat desperate to find a home church. I ended up going to a large evangelical church in north Houston, hoping to find Christian friends to connect with. The first Sunday the sermon was pretty good. I went on to the adult Sunday school, somewhat wandering in as someone new, a guest. Before the meeting was started, a woman began talking to me about President Obama. She went on and on about how he was just the same as the former dictator of Romania, Nicolae Ceausescu. Others from the class were standing around as she talked to me, a visitor.

As a missionary, I was in Bucharest, Romania for four months in early 1992, at a time when the social upheavals in Romania were still very much in flux. For much of my life, Eastern Europe had been the field I was called to. So to compare our President to a Communist dictator was not something I felt comfortable with, either factually, or emotionally.

Also it was heartbreaking that this was a well known evangelical church, with the latest in facilities, its own school and thousands of attendees. I was someone who was really seeking for a Christian family and then I was set upon as soon as I entered a Sunday school by a radical political agenda. I tried another Sunday school group in the same church next week. Again the Sunday school theme of the hour was also dominated by a strong political agenda, with much in the way of disparaging comments about those of the opposite view.

“The hawks” were preying on “the doves”. I ended up ceasing my search for a church home in Houston. Probably if I’d looked and looked, I could have found something. But I had a demanding job and also I felt still called to work on the series of videos that have finally been hosted now on a web site.

But even here in Austin I find  “hawks”, people in the congregation I go to who feel that the body of Christ is the place to recruit and propagate their strongly political, worldly message on Sunday mornings. I don’t begrudge people having their political views. I was brought up in a very politically minded family and there’s a time and a place for that. But I am a dove and that’s what Jesus called His followers.  I don’t want to be attacked by hawks in church on Sunday morning.

(How about you? Have any thoughts about “hawks and doves”? I love to hear from you about it. You can use the reply box below. God bless you!)

Suicide Bomber sees The Light

bomber dressingI received this letter from a friend in Europe recently. It was just astonishing. I’ll add it here as I received it; the English isn’t perfect but you’ll understand. Some names and places have been changed a little. Here’s what my friend wrote:

I know a man who lives in [West Europe] who used to be a “hodja”.  That is a Muslim priest (you know, those who serve in a mosque and sing in Arabic). He has a wonderful testimony of how he became a Christian.

saying goodbyeHe was very ill of a kidney disease and had pain all over his body and a terrible infection. He couldn’t get any help from doctors and finally decided to commit a suicide by blowing himself up at a public place and kill many others with him, especially people from other religions .

So, he prepared everything for this “kamikaze” they call it and went to kiss his little daughter for the last time. But when he left her room and was in the living room, he heard a voice, “Is there only one religion in the world that can help you?”at the door

He said to himself, “Of course not.” Since he was a religious figure, he knew there were more than 3,500 religions in the world. He had been praying to Allah to heal him but nothing happened. So, before going on, he decided to pray to another god from a different religion. “Who knows”, he said, “maybe I can get some help.”

He decided to pray to the Christian God because this is the second largest religion from their point of view, after Islam. So he prayed to Jesus and asked him to help him and heal him.

Immediately all the walls and the floor and the ceiling disappeared and he found himself in the middle of the universe and a great Light was standing in front of him. He knew that the Light knew everything about him but loved him so much. He felt like an empty bucket in front of the Light; he couldn’t give anything in return to this great love.

seeing the lightThe Light said, “I am Jesus who you called for help and I’m healing you.”

Then great light came out of the Light and came over him, flowed though him and he felt warmth and peace. Immediately all pain and weakness disappeared and he found himself well and happy in the living room again.

He changed his mind about killing himself and decided that there was point in living now since he was well and somebody heard his prayer. From that day on, he started proclaiming that Jesus Christ healed him.

At first his family and friends thought that because of his illness he had gone insane. But he was getting better and better. He was gaining weight again and strength and went on talking about Jesus. So they decided to kill him because he betrayed his religion and turned to the enemies of God.

Then he took his wife and daughter and escaped to [West Europe] where he found plenty of other people like himself from his country – converted Christians-  and joined a Christian church there. This happened about 10 years ago.

Now he is well and healthy, full of zeal for the Lord and weeps for his lost relatives to whom he went back again last year and gave them Bibles and urged them to read and get saved. When we prayed for his relatives in his country to be saved, he started crying dearly. He said, “You folks are happy. You have freedom and you do not appreciate what you have. Talk to the people, talk so that they get saved.”

It’s hard to know what I could add to that. This story affects me in so many ways. I’m thrilled and glad to hear of such a miracle like that. But I am aware that this kind of experience is something that is happening throughout the Islamic world. Not “en masse” but if you keep up with these things, there are many testimonies of Islamic men and women having incredible experiences in finding Jesus this way in recent times. Instead of fearing and hating Muslims, it seems far closer to the ways of God to realize that very many of them are turning out to be the “sheep” of God, rather than the monsters we are so often told that they are.

Many of us have known the verse, Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” But the next verse says, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” And in these times, the preacher most likely to reach out to the millions of Muslims in western lands around the world is you and me.

“The Whites of Their Eyes”

whites of thier eyes-flattenedThere used to be an old saying, “Don’t shoot till you see the whites of their eyes!” Maybe that was what was said by military commanders 200 years ago or so. But the idea I guess was that you don’t shoot your gun till the target is close enough that you can actually see what you’re shooting at.

And that principle could certainly apply to modern pronouncements on Bible prophecy. I’m appalled at times by how many people are convinced without a doubt that… (take your pick) …Obama is the Antichrist? The Pope… no, wait; Islam is the seedbed and fountain head of all evil, the primordial force of Satan in the last days? And on it goes.

“They” are out to get us. Five years ago in Houston I was in a gathering of sober and sincere Christians and we were told that the roads out of Houston would be blockaded within 6 months… 6 months I tell you!… and everyone would be corralled in FEMA camps. A very serious Christian brother was telling this to us. That was in 2009. And on it goes.

New Wolf Wolf-flatttenedAs a person who utterly believes in the coming of the Lord and that we’re very likely living in the endtime, it interests me and also saddens me that there are so very many “Wolf, Wolf” calls coming from so many Christians at this time.

The Apostle Paul said, “Judge nothing before its time…” (I Corinthians 4:5) But this admonition is rejected or forgotten by so many Christians today as they jump on their soap box or band wagon to shout the latest “warning” which ends up being another false pronouncement and false dawn of troubles to come.

Invariable there is no accountability for the false proclaimer of immediate doom. But without hesitation or twinge of conscience they’ll re-proclaim their next declaration of imminent doom for a date another 6 months away. And virtually no one calls them on it or takes note of these ones who constantly proclaim imminent woe and it doesn’t come to pass as they’ve told us it would.

And yet I don’t disagree with much of what they are saying; just the continual over-specific-ness of their declaration, plus the fact that so often they just end up plain wrong. That’s the problem.

famous failures pictureVery many see and realize that we live in dire times. But the common thing to do for many Christian commentators is to personally declare that some very short and specific length of time will expire before “the very end” is upon us. Actually I did a 7 minute video on this subject, called “Famous Failures of Prophetic Interpretation”, the link to that is here.

Like the guy said, “Don’t shoot till you see the whites of their eyes”. Jesus actually gave us some very specific things to look forward to, in the gospels, concerning the times leading up to His return. In my video series on the book of Daniel I have gone over some of those specific points, such as the appearance of “the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place”. (Matthew 24:15)  This was the sign Jesus said to watch for which would mark the beginning of the “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21) which is said to be in a surprising number of places a length of time of 3½ years. Jesus said, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days” (Matthew 24:29) is when He would return to gather His elect, His people.

I utterly believe this and numerous other things that are solid, bedrock doctrines that completely hold up to scrutiny. But present Christian dialog among believers on the coming of the Lord is cluttered, strewn and clogged with false declarations and false declarers. It seems the gullibility of His sheep is successfully taken advantage of over and over again.

Does it matter? Can’t we just go on enjoying the latest shout of woe, regardless of whether it is founded in God’s truth and actual reality? Jesus said “It would be better that a millstone be hung about your neck and that you be drowned in the sea than that you offend one of these little ones” (Matthew 18:6), one of His searching sheep, longing for the truth and looking to what they can find in Christianity to see if the truth is there. How many are stumbled and turned away by the sensationalists with their latest announcement when they see that their prophecy of imminence fell through and they were just another empty vessel?

God help us to have a higher standard. Jesus said He was the truth. (John 14:6) The Holy Spirit is “the spirit of truth” (John 16:13). So many who are involved with teaching prophecy would do well to heed the warning of centuries ago when it comes to foretelling the future.

Don’t shoot till you see the whites of their eyes”. Don’t keep proclaiming things that must imminently occur when you really don’t know that for certain in Him. If you have a record of yelling “Wolf, Wolf” to the extent that you stumble the weak and are a pitiful testimony of the Lord’s Word and truth, please stop for your own sake, for the sake of His sheep and for the witness of Christ that is besmirched.

Visiting Europe

This won’t be a normal blog post, just a short update. I’ve been on the other side of the Atlantic from where I am normally.The Twizy-1 Right now I’m in Gothenburg, Sweden, visiting two of my sons and their families. I landed in Oslo, Norway around 10 days ago and visited with my daughter and son and his family who all live there. And I’m planning to visit friends in Hungary before flying back to Texas.

I’d better explain about that picture there. It is actually a car, made by the French car maker Renault, called a “Twizy”. My youngest son drives it to work; it’s electric and really a novelty. I rode in the “backseat” all the way into town from the suburbs with him and it was fun. Actually, it’s closer to being like an advanced electric go-cart than a car but it’s in the classification of a motorcycle and parks in motorcycle places. People stare at you and come to talk when you get out of the car.

I’m having fun. The visit with my kids has gone really well and we’ve had a continual good level of interaction. I guess we just grow up and want to have a better time when we are together than at times in the past. Also the opportunity to get to know my little grandsons has been really nice; they are at a very sweet age in their lives and it’s been fun to be able to have time with them.

Panoramic in church-1One interesting thing that happened today was that I went with my youngest son and his wife and little boy to the kindergarten that my grandson goes to. They have recently been taking him to one run by a local church affiliated with the state church of Sweden. I was actually rather surprised as I have perhaps been a little negative or hopeless about what I have known of Christianity in this part of the world.

If you read what I wrote in “A flock of whooping cranes” last year, I mentioned in there how that for what I knew, Christianity was on its knees or beyond that in this part of the world. Well, this morning I saw that it’s not quiet that bad.young priest I ended up having a short chat with a local Swedish priest in his 30’s who is a very dedicated and committed guy who said he was called by the Lord to his place of service, almost reluctantly.

The kindergarten was full of young couples with very small children as there was a short service of children’s songs in the small church connected to the kindergarten. It was encouraging and surprising to see faith in God to be more prevalent in Scandinavia than I had thought it was.

If all goes well, I’ll be back in Austin soon and then will have more time to give to blog posts and communications. I hope you are all dong well, thanks so much for your prayers. Your friend, Mark