Jim’s Blog

 

Is the End Near?

“Hypocrites! 
You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky.
How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?”

~LUKE  12:56 (NIV)
 

IN LIGHT OF THE POLITICAL AND CULTURAL CHAOS of our day, I have heard many people ask the question:  “What do you think—is this the end of time?  Is Jesus about to return?”

 

Good question!  It is certainly one that is worth serious consideration.

 

On one occasion Jesus gave a scathing rebuke to the crowd that was following Him (Luke 12:54-56) as He taught them about the Kingdom, coming epochs and the end of time.  They knew what a foreboding cloud in the west meant; they knew what a south wind meant, but they didn’t have a clue what the political—social—religious upheaval of the day meant.

 

You and I know what a red sky at night means.  We know what a red sky in the morning means.  Much like the crowd Jesus rebuked, we struggle to know what the signs of this present time mean.   Some think they mean absolutely nothing.  They reason that Jesus’ words were intentionally obtuse pointing to human events and behavior that have always plagued the history of civilization.  There have always been wars and natural disasters.  Christians in every age since the time of Christ have thought they were witnessing the fulfillment of the ages and the rise of the Anti-Christ.  Some of the past and present world leaders who have been given this most despicable of monikers include Roman Emperor Nero, Stalin, Hitler, Pope Benedict XVI, Reagan, Obama and the current Pope Francis.  Of course, there have been others.  Every false prognostication tends to fuel the belief that Jesus was speaking in intentionally vague terms to drive the point that it is not for us to know.  We are simply to be ready.

 

There are others who think they see clearly in our day—here and now—the dawn of the end.  Things once thought entirely fanciful, without any possibility of a literal fulfillment, are now not only possible but are on the horizon as a near-future reality.  Though some may seem farfetched, here are a few of the things that are clearly staring us in the face as we prepare to enter year two of what has begun as a most  tumultuous decade (by the way, this is from a non-Christian source, Dr. Joseph Mercola: (https://articles.mercola.com) citing the World Economic Forum public relations’ 8 Predictions for the World in 2030—so there is no bent toward a particular eschatology):

 

  1. You will own nothing—you will rent everything
  2. The U.S. won’t be the world’s leading power
  3. You won’t die waiting for an organ donor—organs will be 3-D printed
  4. Meat will disappear (for the most part) from your diet
  5. A billion people will be displaced by climate change—brace for a flood of refugees in your neighborhood
  6. Polluters will pay to emit carbon dioxide
  7. Travel to and possible colonization of Mars may be a reality
  8. Western values will be at a breaking point

 

However bizarre this may seem to you, far more ominous and threatening, Mercola warns, are:

 

  1. The implementation of pandemics as a tool of social control
  2. Health passports to control travel and place violators in isolation or under house arrest
  3. A digital currency system, linked to digital IDs, replacing the currencies of the world. It is already  in the works

 

Along with these measures, I suggest we can expect more aggressive moves against the Church, including the removal of tax exemption privilege and the imposition of rigid restrictions or cancelation of worship gatherings.

 

Though I am not one to say definitively that this or that is a prophetic fulfillment of A, B or C, to say they mean nothing seems blind and foolhardy.  Never before have these kinds of storms be so global in nature.  Intensity and frequency appear to be intensifying.  Of course, some storm clouds dissipate before unleashing their potential fury.  I pray that, by God’s grace, this is true of what some say they see now.

 

But this I can say with confidence.  Jesus is coming back!  We are closer now than we have ever been before.  Jesus warned us that we should be ready at all times.  How is it we know how to read the sky for predicting weather patterns, but we cannot read the signs of our time?

 

Let’s get our house in order and let the Church be the faithful Church come what may.



Who’s Holding Your Hands Up?

When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him
and
he sat on it.  Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side,
one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
~EXODUS  17:12 (NIV)

 

A FRIEND OF MINE RECENTLY REMINDED ME of the importance of having the right people by your side in times of difficulty and challenge.  She referenced the account of the Israelites’ defeat of Amalek, one of the many tribal nations Israel would encounter leading up to and throughout the conquest of Canaan.

 

My friend (Linda Hoffman) gave the following brief review of the state of things for Israel leading up to this encounter: 

 

This was the Israelites’ first battle since breaking free from the Egyptians. About 1.5 months into the journey . . . they were attacked at Rephidim.

Previously God [led] them out of Egypt in a specific direction to avoid their enemies & war. (13:17-22) even tho the road was shorter. He did not want them to encounter war, BUT they did exit Egypt ready for battle (13:18).

You may be familiar with the story (you can read about it in Exodus 17):  God was bringing judgment on the tribal nation of Amalek through the battle they incited against the fledgling nation of Israel.   It was an interesting encounter.  Moses, Israel’s leader, was over 80 years of age.  In other words, he was not a young man.

 

Moses gave battle instructions to Joshua, the military general of  Israel’s inexperienced army, informing him that he would take his position at the top of a hill, making himself clearly visible to Joshua and the army.  He would take with him the staff of God, which was a clear representation of the power of God in the miracles He worked against the Egyptians and of His provisional power in their wilderness journey. 

 

After taking his position on top of the hill, Moses stood and held up his hands holding the rod of God.  The Scriptures tell us that as long as Moses held his hands up Israel would prevail.  But as the aging Moses wearied, the strength of his arms would give out and he would lower them.  Whenever he did, the tide of battle would turn.

 

Seeing what was happening, Moses’ brother Aaron and Hur came to the rescue.  They moved a large stone to where Moses was standing—one that would allow him to sit yet remain visible.  Then, with one on either side of him, they would raise his hands in the air and hold them steady until the battle was won.

 

The Scriptures also make it clear that there is an ongoing battle of good and evil being waged in the heavenly realm over the souls of men.  You and I are also a part of that war, doing battle equipped with the armor of God and in the power of His Spirit.  But it is an exhausting battle.  Our arms get weary.  We grow tired.  We need rest.  We want a break.  Often that break does not come.  We must fight on, but how are we to do that?  We need brothers and sisters in arms to come alongside us and hold our hands up. 

 

Needless to say, 2020 has been a year of intense conflict and hardship.  On the surface, some of the battles we have encountered may seem physical, not spiritual (i.e. COVID-19 and other illnesses), but make no mistake, the enemy is using things that are not overtly spiritual and manipulating them to take their toll in the spiritual realm, even to the point of dividing and polarizing the Body of Christ.  Other battles that we are facing are clearly spiritual.

 

If you are anything like me, you have found yourself weary of it all, just needing a little room to breathe—prayer warriors and hand-holders to come alongside.  I am grateful to God that He has given me just such a band of brothers (and sisters) who do that faithfully for me.  My wife (Jean) is my most constant warrior companion and helper.  She never leaves my side.  God has given me you (His Church) as encouragers and prayer warriors—staff, elders, ministry teams, card writers, gift-givers, prayer-lifters—all battling on in difficult times.

 

But in thinking of this Moses Scenario,  my mind and heart were drawn in thanksgiving to God for Adam and Micah.  They have been to me Aaron and Hur.  They have held my hands up when I have grown weary.  They have stepped in, again and again, to shoulder burdens and assume responsibilities that help me fight on and not lose heart.  They have lightened my load and refreshed my spirit.

 

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
      If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help him up.
     ~Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV)

 

And though a man might prevail against one who is alone,
      two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
     ~Ecclesiastes 4:12 (ESV)

 

Who is your Aaron and Hur?  Who is holding your hands up enabling you to fight on?
 
_______________
Thanks, Linda Hoffman for the reminder of why God has placed us in the Body of Christ


People are Watching

My lord the king, the eyes of all Israel are on you, to tell them who will sit
on the throne of my lord the king after him.

If you do not act, my son Solomon and I will be treated as criminals
as soon as my lord the king has died.”
~1  KINGS 1:20 (HSCB), 21 (NLT)
 

Does it bother you, that in this information age, everyone seems to be gathering mountains of data on everything you do?  If you’re shopping for shoes online, next thing you know your computer says, “If you like that, then you may be interested in this.” Google, Amazon, Facebook¸and other online sources are busy tracking everything you say, like and do online. I found this just now online: Information about you, what you buy, where you go, even where you look is the oil that fuels the digital economy.”  It seems the eyes of the whole world are on you.


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The Pharaoh in Each of Us

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.”
~1 SAMUEL 15:22-23
 
 

In my personal reading I am currently in the book of Exodus.  The drama of the Exodus narrative has always captivated me.  In the Exodus account there are two well know lists of “Ten”, the most famous being the Ten Commandments.   Just prior to that “Ten” there is another “Ten”— the ten plagues that God unleashed against Pharaoh and the nation of Egypt because of his cruelty, unbelief and hardness of heart.

 

In re-reading the famous showdown between Pharaoh and God through His servants Moses and Aaron, there were several things that struck me about Pharaoh.  As I pondered those characteristics and/or attitudes I was troubled by how many of them I see in myself.  I guess there is a “Little Pharaoh” in me.  I would also venture to guess there is a “Little Pharaoh” in you.  Let me tell you what I mean.


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The Air I Breathe

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Your presence; take not Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit.
PSALM 51:10-12
 
HAVE YOU EVER FELT LIKE YOU WERE JUST TRUDGING through life? that the things and activities that once brought you joy and energized you now felt like drudgery or a heavy drag? that the delight you once experienced in your Christian walk and relationships has grown cold?   Maybe God is trying to get your attention.
 

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The June Drop

“. . . let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that
so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out  for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. . . .”

-HEBREWS 12:1-2 (NIV – 1984)

I GREW UP IN RURAL COMMUNITIES AS A CHILD and have lived nearly all of my adult life in the country—many of those years were also spent farming.  In all that time I had never heard of “the June Drop.”  This past week I learned of this phenomenon from Cheryl Greene, via the Internet.  Cheryl, in her Facebook post at the Greene Beanery Coffee Roastery, shared some thoughts certainly worth passing along as filtered through my own heart and mind.

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Don’t Forget

Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.

-PROVERBS 4:5-6 (NIV)
 

I TEND TO BE A LITTLE FORGETFUL AT TIMES. Whether that is because I truly forget a thing, or that I have not paid careful attention is open for debate.  There are those who are certain it is the latter.  No doubt that is true far more often than I would care to admit. 

Most of us forget things:

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Dancing in the Rain

“[God] causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good,
and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

-MATTHEW 5:45 (NIV)

 

WE’VE ALL HEARD THE SAYING, “When it rains it pours.”  It is the slogan for Morton salt, and the slogan seems to be proving itself accurate in our neck of the woods.  David Wright wrote the following in our local Press Gazette newspaper just this past Sunday of our little city, Hillsboro.

“Rainfall in the Hillsboro area so far this year is just a few slots shy of breaking a 120-year record, a meteorologist said, and further showers in coming days will likely complicate planting for local farmers already late putting their crops in the ground.”

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Kids Are Special

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. -MATTHEW  19:14 (ESV)
 
KIDS ARE SPECIAL.  I AM REMINDED OF THAT EVERY MORNING this week as we are off and running into a marvelous week of VBS (Vacation Bible School). The enthusiasm and excitement of both kids and workers is contagious.
 

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Times & Seasons

For everything there is a season,
and time for every matter under heaven.
-ECCLESIASTES 3:15 (ESV)
 
THE SEASON OF CHANGE IS UPON US.  The trees and plants have awakened from their winter’s sleep.  Seniors have made their final walk down the halls of their respective schools, receiving their hard-earned diplomas. Spring is about to slip into summer.  Day after day,  week after week, year after year the earth turns and brings with each turn inevitable changes—some of them welcome, others not; some of them needed, others not; some of them to be embraced, others rejected.

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