Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
The 'Church of Christ' in the Last Days - Pete Garcia - http://www.omegaletter.com/articles/articles.asp?ArticleID=8515
Chances are, if you belong to a Church of Christ (non-instrumental), you probably wouldn't be reading the Omega Letter in the first place. But, I have met enough people along the way who were or know people who are that I thought this warranted writing.
I was born and raised Southern Baptist, but married into a five generation-strong Church of Christ family. Having attended almost a dozen different Churches of Christ in three different states, I have come to notice similarities and differences amongst all these different churches. But there is one common thread in all of the ones we have attended.
Churches of Christ pride themselves in following the early church model as found in the book of Acts, and not falling underneath any type of hierarchical structure of a higher organization, such as the Southern Baptist do with their SBC Convention or how the Vatican does with the Roman Catholic churches. Each Church of Christ is an independent island of believers rooted together in common faith. But this is also why there have been so many different types of Churches of Christ who have branched out or split apart since the Stone-Campbell movement in the 1800's.
Recently, I attended a Wednesday night bible study at the local Church of Christ and was entreated to a class that could for all intents and purposes be called "the Dangers of Dispensationalism" or "why futurism is a faulty view," as I think that ultimately this was at the heart of his teaching. The preacher teaching the class began to hit some rapid fire points right off the bat to include a clip from the Left Behind movie that came out in 2000.
Dispensationalism began in the 1800's with John Nelson Darby---thus can't be trusted.
Israel uprooted the local population in 1948 and thus has become much of the problem in the Middle East
American politics and churches are overwhelmingly Dispensational which is why we are so 'pro-Israel' which of course is dangerous
You cannot take the book of Revelation literally or chronologically as it is "Apocalyptic literature", thus in its "own" special kind of category.
Not knowing what was being taught that night and being a Pre-Millennial Dispensationalist, I of course took exception to much of the discussion. I spoke up politely because much of what was being taught simply wasn't true. This of course didn't sit well with the preacher who probably didn't anticipate being challenged on any of his prescribed views and led to my early self-dismissal from the class. But this experience got me thinking.
Question: If Churches of Christ are supposed to be stand-alone churches (not bound by creeds or indoctrinated by some higher organization), why do they all tend to hold to the same Eschatological view? [See Revelation 19:10]
The How and Why
After this class, I began to research this more in depth and came across an article released through Pepperdine University (in the January 2000 edition of Leaven magazine) by a Dr. Lynn Mitchell entitled Eschatology: Essential, Yet Essentially Ignored. The author belongs to the Church of Christ, and was writing essentially to ask the same question I am asking here now 14 years later. He makes some interesting points that seem common across the Churches of Christ. He notes two interesting points in the history of the Church of Christ's eschatological understanding. The first he chronicles how it happened:
"Eschatology died as a living concern among our churches because of at least four related developments:
(1) The acceptance of the church-kingdom identity fostered by Tolbert Fanning and like-minded sectarians;
(2) The powerful and brutal assault on millennial modes of thought and millennial thinkers, particularly premillennial, by the Foy E. Wallace Jr. cadre of de-eschatologizers;
(3) The subsequent ruthlessly enforced triumph of Amillennialism and the dogma of church-kingdom identity; and
(4) The filling of the vacuum in eschatological thinking with inane, hybridized life-after-death language uninformed by biblical or systematic theology."
Dr. Mitchell succinctly sums up the end result of such theological witch-hunts within the Churches of Christ in his essay:
"All we have left is ah-millennialism."
"We are neither passionately radical nor invigoratingly hopeful."
As to Foy E. Wallace Jr, history records he made it his personal mission to stomp out Pre-Millennialism single handedly if need be:
In October 1935 Wallace founded the Gospel Guardian as a monthly magazine primarily to combat the views of the premillennialists. The Gospel Guardian ended in June 1936 and merged with the Firm Foundation. In 1937 Wallace was the front-page writer for the Firm Foundation. In 1938 Wallace founded the Bible Banner, initially also dedicated to the defeat of premillennial doctrine.
By the early 1940s, every significant paper and college associated with Churches of Christ took the amillennial position, often, like Wallace, never using the terms amillennial or Amillennialism. By 1949, when Wallace ceased publishing the Bible Banner, this campaign had been so effective that fewer than a hundred congregations adhered to the premillennial view, and those generally isolated from the mainline, as they remained for decades.
Dr. Mitchell does a decent job of showing why the modern Church of Christ churches and universities promote the Amillennial eschatological view over all the others. I pointed out on that fateful Wednesday night that it was to the credit of Augustine of Hippo (circa-5th century A.D.) that Amillennialism even existed. Augustine wrote and developed much of what the Roman Catholic Church adheres to as doctrine and dogma. This revelation went over like a wet blanket on a cold night.
In all the discussions I've had with Church of Christ elders, deacons, preachers, and church members over the years, there is a general consensus that Eschatology is best left to the experts, and the "experts" all hold to either an Amillennial, Pan-millennial (it will all pan out in the end), or Preterist view of Bible prophecy.
If the conversation continued long enough, the unanimous conclusion drawn from my counterpart is almost always "why does Eschatology even matter for the here and now?"
So why does it matter? I've stated in previous articles that how one views the end, will largely shape how one views the here and now. Would it matter if you don't believe in God or an afterlife? Would it matter if you believed that you were THE kingdom come here on earth now? Would it matter if you believed that life will just go on and on until the end of time when God one day just pulls up the curtains and says 'That's All, Folks!' Would it matter if you believed that Christ could return at any moment?
"Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." Luke 12:40
Aside from the historical origins of Amillennialism, accepting this view comes with some significant theological challenges. First of which, is the amount of prophetic scriptures one has to either dismiss as "apocalyptic literature" or has to allegorize to such an extent that it could mean anything. That would mean about 30 % of your Bible (both Old and New) were now up for grabs.
German Higher Criticism came about around the 18th century promoting and attempting to answer the inerrancy claims of the Scriptures from a philosophical and rationalist perspective. It was birthed in Europe, but soon moved to the American seminaries as many of these clergy departed Europe for the New World. One of the products of their teachings was developing a Lower Criticism and a Higher Criticism. The lower dealt with the actual physical translations and texts (or how they came together over the centuries) and the Higher dealt with the actual content of the messages.
The Maccabean Jews had first coined the term "apocalyptic literature". But since they (nor Judaism) accepted the New Testament, this term would later be co-opted by the critics who used it in describing the Revelation and other text that fell into this category. It seemingly gave license to teachers and preachers to either dismiss or allegorize the prophetic text. At the very least, "apocalyptic literature" would not receive the same theological weight as say the Gospels or the Epistles.
Question: What happened to the Holy Spirit being the true Author of Scriptures? [See 2 Tim 3:16-17, Hebrews 4:12-13]
The term "apocalyptic literature" soon became a catchall phrase for all the passages of scripture that seemingly argued against Amillennialism. The main problem with this is that one cannot hold to a consistent view of Scriptures and simultaneously promote Higher Criticism at the same time because they work against each other.
For example, higher critics would argue that half of Daniel (chapters 7-12) was written in the 2nd century B.C., because it too accurately predicted the rise and fall of nations that came to pass from Daniel's time (5th-6th century BC) to the time of Christ. They neglect the truth that the true author of Scripture was not Daniel, but God.
There is a danger to this type of 'higher criticism' thinking. Almost every Church of Christ elder or preacher that I have spoken too on this topic have no issue with all the prophecies that foretold the first coming of Christ...of which around 108 prophecies were literally fulfilled. Yet, they tend to dismiss the next 300 or so prophecies concerning Christ's Second Coming as 'apocalyptic literature.' The Pharisees of Jesus's day applied this same type of dismissive reasoning to His first coming. Think about that for a second.
When the wise men (Magi from the East) came to worship Christ, notice how King Herod's chief priests and scribes all knew about the prophecies concerning the coming Messiah, but none of them really believed it or they would have already been searching Him out. At the very least, they would have travelled the five miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem with the Wise men to see for themselves. But they didn't. [See Matthew 2]
One last point that I heard reiterated from time to time in C of C churches is that prophecy is based on the Hebraic Mindset, and that prophecy is pattern, and not to be taken chronologically as laid out in the book of Revelation. That is true to an extent, but that is not the whole truth. Jesus responds to His disciple's questions about the last days sequentially in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24, Mark 13, Luke 21)...of which Revelation 6-19 is merely an expansion on.
Question: Was Jesus using Hebraic reasoning that spoke in patterns as 'apocalyptic literature' in the Olivet Discourse, or was He, as God, answering sequentially the question that His disciples asked Him about the last days?
The hour is too late and the day too far gone to spend your time either not knowing or deliberately ignoring what God has to say about our immediate future. There is nothing wrong with taking a literal understanding of the Bible. Yes there are different types of speech contained in Scripture: Parables, euphemisms, figures of speech, symbolism, metaphors, etc. But just using a common sense approach to Scriptures solves a lot of these differences. Having a literal understanding, doesn't have to be "wooden" or rigid as some would say, it's totally based on the understanding that God instructed men what to write, and God is not bound to time like we are. 'He declares the end from the beginning' (Isaiah 46:9-10) and what He says will come to pass.
You don't have to believe what I write, but be a Berean and search these things out for yourself. Don't just take what a guy in the pulpit tells you because he went to seminary and you didn't. As believers, we all belong to the body of Christ and we all received the same Holy Spirit who will reveal to you these things you seek out. I'll close with a warning by Jesus to a church that no longer concerned themselves about watching for His return. We too should take heed, since Jesus ends this (as He does with all the others) by saying 'He who has an ear, let him hear'...
"Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you." Revelation 3:3
Hezbollah Chief Warns 'Non-Zionist' Jews To Flee Israel Before It's Destroyed - by Deborah Danan -
Hezbollah Chief Hassan Nasrallah on Sunday warned Jewish immigrants to Israel to leave the country before it goes to war with the Lebanon-based terror group.
Addressing "non-Zionist Jews," Nasrallah said at a speech marking the Shiite holy day of Ashura, "I call on anyone who came to occupied Palestine to leave it and return to the lands you came from, so you will not be the fuel for any war waged by your foolish government."
He added that Hezbollah's war is not against the Jewish people but against the Zionist government of Israel, and it was because of this that he was offering those Jews who do not support the "Zionist regime" or the idea that Israel is the Jewish homeland the chance to get out.
"Netanyahu's government is leading your people to devastation and destruction," Nasrallah said, adding that the Israeli prime minister was "trying to lead the region into war in Syria and Lebanon."
"Netanyahu and his government do not know how the war will end if they start one, and they do not have an accurate picture of what to expect should they embark on the folly of war," he said.
Last month, a Hezbollah commander said the group has amassed more than 10,000 fighters in southern Syria ready for battle with Israel.
Israel has warned Hezbollah that if it provokes the Jewish state, Israel will destroy the terror group and cause devastation to Lebanon.
Last month, the IDF conducted a massive 10-day drill simulating a war with the terror group.
Sanhedrin Performs Temple Blowing of Shofars and Silver Trumpets for Jubilee -
By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz - https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/95845/watch-sanhedrin-performs-temple-blowing-shofars-silver-trumpets-jubilee/#kvlarVE2yGS9Vx5c.99
"Speak to B'nei Yisrael thus: In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe complete rest, a sacred occasion commemorated with loud blasts." Leviticus 23:24 (The Israel Bible™)
Accompanied by an anointed priest and blowing two types of shofars (rams' horns) along with silver trumpets in the Biblically prescribed manner, representatives of the nascent Sanhedrin gathered on the Mount of Olives on Thursday to count the third year of the Jubilee cycle in the most Biblically-accurate way possible.
Sanhedrin members gathered at the spot closest to where the Kohanim (Jewish men of the priestly caste) used to perform the Biblically-mandated mitzvah (Torah commandment) of blowing shofar for the New Year. Also present was Shai Golan, a Kohen who had been properly anointed, dressed in priestly garments.
Two types of shofars were used in the ceremony: two shorter, curved rams' horn and one longer, straight horn from an ibex. Each had a symbolic meaning.
Members of the Sanhedrin and an anointed priest blew shofars and silver trumpets to announce the third year of the Jubilee in Jerusalem on September 28, 2017. (Elan Shecter)
"Normally, Jews blow the shorter bent shofar on Rosh Hashana (the New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Repentance), since the Talmud explains that repentance is achieved by a man being modest and bending his will to God's will," Rabbi Hillel Weiss, spokesman for the Sanhedrin, explained to Breaking Israel News.
"On the Jubilee, the shofar of an ibex is blown to announce freedom to the land. An ibex represents freedom, because of the character of the ibex itself, running free in the mountains. The Jerusalem Talmud says that you blow a shofar from a rare animal to announce freedom, which is itself a rare and wonderful thing."
The Sanhedrin recreated the ceremony as it was performed in the Temple. Short blasts were blown on the silver trumpets, prepared by the Temple Institute for use in the Third Temple, while longer blasts were blown on the shofars, so the sound of the animal horns was heard at the end.
In some points, the ceremony fell short of actually recreating the holiday events as it took place in the Temple
"The priests blew the shofar in the eastern gate of the Temple," Rabbi Weiss explained. "Due to police restrictions, the Mount of Olives is as close as we can come to that place today."
Though the Sanhedrin was only reenacting the mitzvah of announcing the New Year, at the same time they were actually fulfilling the commandment of announcing the new year in the Jubilee cycle. Two years ago, the Sanhedrin ruled that conditions for the prophesied Third Inheritance of the land of Israel had been fulfilled.
At that time, the Sanhedrin began counting the 50 years of the Jubilee cycle. This mitzvah is performed after the New Year by saying a blessing, but unlike most Torah commandments observed today which are incumbent on an individual, the Jubilee is a national, collective mitzvah.
According to the Bible and in Temple times, this blessing was accompanied by blasts on ibex shofarot and silver horns, precisely as the Sanhedrin did last Thursday on the eve of Yom Kippur.
Last year, the Sanhedrin counted the new year of the Jubilee cycle without musical accompaniment.
"Thank God, every year we come closer," Rabbi Weiss said, noting that next week, a full-dress reenactment of the Temple water libation ceremony will be held at the Shiloah Spring.
Nearing Midnight: Rapture and Watching - Terry James -
Recently I listened to a well-known preacher on his TV program saying something to the effect that only those "watching" for Jesus will go to be with Christ in the Rapture. He defined "watching" as those Christians who are truly wanting for Jesus to return and that believe with great faith that He will call them to Himself in that great Rapture event.
This didn't totally surprise me, because this particular preacher has, in my opinion, never been clear in his thoughts on the security of the believer-that is, the once saved, always saved doctrine, as the sometimes hotly debated term goes.
While his remark in making such a statement-to be watching is commanded by the Lord-is scripturally correct, I totally reject the premise that it is possible for even one truly born-again person to be left behind when Christ says: "Come up hither" (Rev. 4: 1).
I believe that the apostle Paul made very clear who will be taken in the Rapture when Jesus calls the Church. Paul, in revealing the mystery of the Rapture, said the following:
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)
Paul, given the key to this mystery by the Lord Jesus Himself, tells us clearly that all will be changed. It will take place in less than a microsecond. That's the Rapture!
The word "we" is the pronoun that is all-inclusive as given in this context. The "we" here means all who are born again-the Church.
There is no room for any believer to be left behind in Paul's declaration. Those who are truly saved-that is, who are in Christ Jesus, who shed His blood and resurrected to redeem all who will but received this free, grace gift, will go in that twinkling-of-an-eye moment.
Paul, under divine inspiration, further enlightens concerning the security of the believer:
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
Again, Paul uses a pronoun that is all-inclusive of believers in God's way to salvation-Jesus Christ-the only righteousness God the Father recognizes. Paul, under that divine inspiration, says that nothing and no one will ever be able to separate "us" from the love of God.
Paul is undeniably talking about the born-again, because he goes on to say that this "love" of which he speaks is "in Christ Jesus our Lord."
The pronoun this time is "our," meaning those he is talking about-including Paul himself-who are born again-that is, who are believers in Christ for salvation.
The TV preacher then said that watching for Christ means one is "worthy" to stand before the Lord on that Rapture day. Again, implying strongly that unless one is watching, he or she is not going to go in the Rapture.
He used the following Scripture in that declaration:
Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. (Luke 21:36)
Some years ago, I addressed the matter of being "worthy" in God's holy eyes.
What does it mean to be "worthy," as given in this Rapture example? Again, the answer is wrapped up in the same name as before: Jesus. Jesus is the only person "worthy," in God's holy eyes, to be in the heavenly realm.
Remember what Jesus said to a man who addressed Him as "Good Master"?
And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. (Luke 18:18)
Jesus, the second person of the Godhead, was not seeking to chastise the man for addressing Him in this way. The Lord was confirming through this question that He is indeed God, the only good, the only righteousness. Righteousness is the only ticket to Heaven-either through the portal of death, or through the Rapture. Only through Jesus-being born again into God's family through belief in Him-can a person enter the heavenly realm.
Jesus spoke to this all-important matter by addressing Nicodemus:
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3)
God's Word says about fallen mankind:
As it is written, There is none righteous no not one. (Romans 8:10)
For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 8:23)
So, Jesus is the only person "worthy" to enter Heaven. It is through Him that any of us are worthy to stand before Him in that heavenly realm. That is the truth found in the Scripture in question.
On a less magnificent scale, the word "worthy" in this passage means that we should be in a constant mindset of prayerful repentance. We should always want to be found "worthy"-cleansed of all unrighteousness, as stated in 1 John 1:9, so that we will hear our Lord say to us on that day:
Well done, good and faithful servant. (Matthew 25:23)
Many of God's children will doubtlessly lose rewards at the Bema (judgment seat of Christ,) for not being watchful and not listening for their Lord's call in the Rapture. But, they will make that fantastic trip into Heaven, every single one, because of the Lamb of God who redeemed them.
If You Fell Asleep In 1961 And Woke Up Today - By Michael Brown - http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/article.cfm?recent_news_id=1650
It's been a beautiful spring day in the suburbs of Pennsylvania on this Thursday, June 7th, 1961. You just got home from work and your wife is almost finished preparing one of her typically delicious dinners. Your kids, a boy and two girls, aged 15, 13, and 9, have been out all day riding their bikes around the neighborhood and playing with friends. Now everybody's hungry and ready to sit down for the family meal.
Last night was game night, and you barely emerged with a victory in Monopoly. Your kids are getting good, and your wife, normally the more savvy player, had some bad luck. Tonight is TV night, and everyone is ready to enjoy Ozzie and Harriet and Leave It to Beaver.
Of course a live, in-person show is incredible--who could forget your family outing two weeks ago when you all drove into Manhattan and saw My Fair Lady on Broadway? But TV has its own unique appeal, especially with shows like Lassie and Andy Griffith and Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color and Father Knows Best and The Flintstones. And they're all on at night so the whole family can enjoy them together.
Well, on this lovely spring night, you're a bit more tired than you realized, fighting to stay awake through the current Beaver episode, even though it's a bit more suspenseful than normal. In this show Beaver loses his haircut money and is afraid to explain the loss to his parents, Ward and June Cleaver.
So he gives himself a ragged haircut with his brother Wally's help--and the two wear stocking caps to dinner, saying the caps are part of a secret club initiation. Later, Ward and June lift Beaver's cap while he sleeps and discover the truth, and the show ends with June explaining to the boys that they have no one but themselves to blame for the deception. As always, there's a good moral conclusion to the show.
But this night, you doze off just before the end of the program, and when you wake up a few minutes later, everything has changed. The TV is still there, except it's gigantic now, flat and hanging on a wall, exploding with colors. And instead of the smiling Cleaver family, it's--no, this can't be real--a nude couple going on their first date together. What is happening?
In a panic, you look for another channel while quickly figuring out how to use the newfangled remote control you now hold in your hands. But your eyes can't believe what you're seeing: two men making out passionately while taking off each other's clothes.
This must be a dream--a really bad dream. You hit the button again, and to your relief it's a nice, old-fashioned show with a man and his family--a really big family, with lots of children--and five wives! What?
But wait. You discover that Walt Disney is still here. In fact, there's a whole Disney channel, and it's time for Good Luck Charlie--except that the show is celebrating a two-mommy family. Is this meant to be a joke?
You click once more, and this time it's two young moms with their daughters talking about the struggles of life. But the more you listen, the more you realize how young these single moms are--they're both 16 and unmarried--and their babies were born out of wedlock.
This is now on TV? (And though you don't know it, one of these young moms would later release her own sex tape--a term you can't even imagine--in order to stay popular.)
You're now in a cold sweat, frantically switching channels as if somehow you could find a way out of the nightmare. Finally, you come across a show that looks a little like Bonanza--at least the people are carrying shotguns like they did in the old Westerns. But who are they shooting? Walking dead! Zombies, with their brains exploding on TV! (Don't switch to the next channel. There you'll see vampires having sex.)
"Did I wake up in hell?"
But something else is different when you look around the room. You're the only one there.
Your 15-year-old son is out with his best friend Robbie--who used to be called Robin back when he was a girl--along with Robbie's 17-year-old brother. All three went to see a new movie in the Hostel series, where people are tortured to death and mutilated for fun, but hey, at least he's out of the house. It's better than playing Grand Theft Auto for six straight hours where your boy simulates raping women and killing cops on his video screen.
As for your wife, she's at the psychologist's office with your 13-year-old daughter discussing whether they need to up her antidepressant medication. She's still cutting herself--she's been doing that for the last year, ever since her best friend at school killed herself after the "sexting" scandal when the girl's ex-boyfriend sent out her naked picture to all the kids in middle school. And what's more, your daughter's weight gain is out of control. (She's almost a hundred pounds overweight, and she's barely a teenager.)
Unfortunately, her new best friend at school is also fighting depression. It seems that things fell apart after her stepfather abused her (it was her mom's third marriage), but thankfully, she survived the drug overdose.
That was a real scare. And it's a good thing her mom never found out about the abortion. Her mother would not have been happy to find out that her 13-year-old daughter and her boyfriend weren't using protection.
As for your youngest girl, still so innocent at 9 years old, she's shut up in her room with her headphones on, dancing to BeyoncÃ©'s latest hit. She sure is a smooth dancer for such a little kid, although it's probably good that she's too young to know what the bumping and grinding is all about or what those suggestive lyrics actually mean.
But all is well, since she's just down the hallway, safe in her room. The neighborhood just hasn't been the same since two kids were abducted within twelve months, only for their abused bodies to turn up in the woods weeks later. The police still haven't found the sexual predator responsible for these inhuman acts.
Then, suddenly, you wake up with a start. This was all a dream, a very terrible dream, an absolute nightmare. With relief, you look around at your wonderful family, smiling at their dad who fell asleep in the middle of TV night.
And you think to yourself, "Thank God this was only a bad dream. There's no way America--or my family--could ever look like that."
Tragedy after tragedy: Only God can heal America -
Michael Brown asserts, 'We need to get on our faces before the Lord'
America is reeling again. Families have been ripped apart and individual lives have been torn apart. One day we're reeling from devastating hurricanes, the next day we're torn apart by racial divisions, the next day we're ripped apart by the worst mass shooting in our history. The pain is palpable, the shock tangible. Can America still be healed?
At the time of this writing, no one knows what motivated Stephen Paddock to launch his murderous attack during an outdoor, country music concert in Las Vegas. What we do know is that he was "one of us" - not a terrorist from a foreign country and, to our knowledge, not shouting "Allahu Akbar" (although ISIS stated that he was a recent convert to Islam and claims him as one of its soldiers).
As his brother Eric said, "He was just a guy. Something happened, he snapped or something, he was just a guy. He has no political affiliation, no religious affiliation, as far as we know. This wasn't a terror attack."
He added, "Mars just fell into the Earth. We're completely dumbfounded."
And who can imagine the loss and shock of the surviving victims and the families of those killed? Who can make sense of this? And can anyone with a conscience claim that the people mowed down at this country music concert were worse sinners than the rest of us? That they specially deserved to be slaughtered in cold blood? God forbid.
I'm sure that gun control will be a hot topic in the days ahead.
Does the Second Amendment guarantee our right to own assault rifles or machine guns, weapons that can murder 50-plus people and injure hundreds of others in a matter of minutes?
But to focus on this now is to miss the point, just as it was a mistake to focus on questions of global warming during the hurricanes (although these are certainly debates we will have).
No, we must ask bigger questions at a time of such agony: Why are these tragedies occurring? Where is God in the midst of this? How can America be healed?
During the devastating hurricanes, some claimed these natural disasters were judgments from God while others claimed that they were the result of man-made global warming. Some even suggested that they we were being judged because we elected Donald Trump as our president (really!).
What I sensed in my own heart as I prayed was the voice of appeal, the voice of mercy, the voice of the Healer ready to mend and restore. It was God saying to us through the storms, "America, you need Me!"
Today, as I look at the bodies of the bloodied victims lying lifeless on the concert grounds, as I see others running in terror and still others falling wounded, I hear that same voice, except this time calling out more loudly, "America, you need Me!"
It's the same voice I hear as our nation is torn apart by racial strife and division, the same voice I hear as our inner cities are ravaged by gangs, the same voice I hear as baby parts are thrown into dumpsters behind abortion mills.
God is calling out to us, "America, you need Me!"
There is no political solution.
There is no social band aid that can be applied.
There is no law that can be passed that will heal our sickly land.
Instead, we need to get on our faces before the Lord acknowledging our own sins and shortcomings, not pointing the finger at others but rather at ourselves. And whatever our views on climate control and gun control and immigration reform and President Trump and social justice may be, we need to implore the only one who can heal our land. What else is needed to get our attention?
Like it or not, our nation was founded on biblical principles, with God at the center of our nation, and America can only be great if America is good. Without Him, our condition is terminal. With Him, there is hope - but we must act now.
Let us do, then, what millions of Jews did this past weekend in the celebration of Yom Kippur, fasting and confessing sins and asking for mercy. And let us make whatever changes we must make in our own lives and families to stand in right relationship with God and our neighbor.
But let us also look to the cross where the Savior paid for our sins and struck at the root cause of our rebellion and pain.
It's not too late for America to be healed, but our condition is certainly critical.
Daily Jot: The "why" and "how" of Las Vegas - Bill Wilson -
I read a heart-wrenching story about a Martinsburg, WV woman who was killed during the Las Vegas massacre. She and her husband where shown kissing at the concert beforehand. They had saved up to attend. She died in his arms. There are families and friends of 59 others who were murdered and over 500 wounded or injured who will spend a lifetime trying to figure out the "why" such a thing happened. It is a horror, a senseless horror. Part of the "why" has to be that we live in an evil world and people who give in to evil are controlled by it. This guy, Stephen Paddock, obviously was influenced by satan to do such a brutal and horrendous act.
Paddock's brother was quoted as saying that Stephen was not affiliated with any politics or religion. The brother could not even venture a guess why Stephen would plan and execute such an act. There are a lot of theories, even conspiracy theories, populating the internet about Stephen Paddock's affiliations and a great deal of speculation as to why he would seek to kill so many innocent people. But there is one picture that is posted on pamelageller.com that speaks volumes to me if it is not photo-shopped. Pamela Geller traditionally has been a whistle-blower on Islam and is considered by many an excellent source of both facts and commentary, so I don't have reason to believe that the picture is a fake.
The picture shows Stephen Paddock and his girlfriend Marilou Danley protesting at an anti-Trump rally in Reno. He is in a pink NASA shirt wearing the pink vagina hat that became the trademark of radical anti-Trump protesters during the inauguration. Geller was able to get a screenshot of Paddock from a video that was posted on youtube. Youtube, however, has removed the video, saying it violated their policy on spam, deceptive practices and scams. I was able to find the footage on several other websites, including a youtube posting that wasn't removed. Notwithstanding, the photos and video appear legitimate after scouring several independent sources. Here is the point I am trying to make:
CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jeff Zeleny pointed out after President Trump made his remarks of condolence that most of the victims were country music fans and were likely Trump supporters. CBS Executive VP and Counsel Hayley Geftman-Gold said, "I'm not even sympathetic bc country music fans are often Republican gun toters." She was fired for her remarks. The hate rhetoric among the anti-Trump left has been so visceral and nonstop for so long that it is impacting the psyche of weak-minded people who live and die by it, and they are willing to act upon it. It is bad for the country and bad for individuals living here.
Remember in June the assassination attempt of Congressional Republicans by Illinois leftist James Hodgkinson, who wounded four and left Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) in critical condition? Hate-filled inflammatory rhetoric by Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, the ex-"president," Keith Ellison, Ashley Judd, Madonna, and so on, has people so stirred up that it was only a matter of time when a nut-case like Hodgkinson took matters into his own hands. I wrote at the time that Hodgkinson was not alone. Now Paddock. Who next? Proverbs 18:21 says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof." The "why" is satan. The "how" are those who act out his ways.
Daily Devotion: The Mandalay Massacre - By Greg Laurie -
"Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you." -1 Peter 4:12
A 64-year-old man armed with more than 10 rifles shot and killed 58 people in what is being called, "the largest mass shooting in U.S. history." Hundreds more were wounded.
The question that comes to mind at a time like this is. . . Why? Why did God allow such a horrible thing to happen?
A Barna Poll asked, "If you could ask God one question and you knew He would give you an answer, what would you ask?" The most common response was, "Why is there pain and suffering in the world?" If you are sharing the gospel, it won't be long before someone asks, "How could a God of love allow tragedy, pain, and suffering?" C.S. Lewis said that the "problem of pain is atheism's most potent weapon against the Christian faith." More people point to the problem of evil and suffering as their reason for not believing in God than any other. It is not merely a problem; it is the problem.
So, why does God allow tragedy? If God can prevent such terrible tragedies, why does He allow them to take place? Here's the classic statement of the problem: Either God is all powerful but not all good, and therefore He doesn't stop evil-or He's all good but not all powerful, and therefore He can't stop evil.
The general tendency, of course, is to blame God for evil and suffering, transferring all responsibility to Him. So let's look closer at the core question: If God is so good and loving, why does He allow evil?
The first part of this question is based on a false premise. People who express those words are essentially suggesting (or saying outright) that God must meet their own criteria of goodness. But who are they to set standards for God? When did they become the moral center of the universe? God isn't good just because that's my opinion of Him, or because I personally agree with His words or actions. God is good because He says He is! Jesus said, "No one is good-except God alone" (Luke 18:19 NIV).
God is good, whether I believe it or not. He and He alone is the final court of arbitration. As Paul said, "Let God be true, but every man a liar" (Romans 3:4 KJV). And what is "good"? Good is whatever God approves. And it's good because He approves it! "That's circular reasoning!" Well, maybe, but everything begins and ends with God. I think of it more as biblical reasoning. In Isaiah 1:18, God invites, "Come now, and let us reason together" (NKJV) or "Come. Sit down. Let's argue this out" (MSG). You see, God's thoughts are above our thoughts. There's no higher standard of goodness than God's own character-and His approval of whatever's consistent with that character. So God is good. Period.
Now let's come back to the second part of the question. Why does He allow evil?
Remember that mankind was not created evil. In their original state, Adam and Eve were innocent, ageless, and immortal. But from the very beginning-from the time that God gave life to Adam and Eve, man has had the ability to choose right or wrong. He made his choice (and then his choice made him!).
Had man never sinned, there would have been no resulting curse. But now it's too late. Romans 5:12 says, "When Adam sinned, sin entered the [entire human race]. Adam's sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned" (NLT).
What this man in Las Vegas did is pure evil. The point to keep in mind here is that humanity-not God-is responsible for sin.
So why didn't God create human beings to be incapable of sin? If God hadn't given us a free will, we would merely be puppets on a string, remote-controlled robots that bow before Him at the touch of a button. God wants to be loved and obeyed by creatures who voluntarily choose to do so. Love cannot be genuine if there's no other option. You and I can choose to love God. And if we're realistic, we have every reason in the world to make that choice.
Most of us can accept the idea of suffering in general, especially when it happens as a consequence of bad behavior. When bad things happen to bad people it seems appropriate, fitting, understandable. So, its' not suffering that troubles us; it's undeserved suffering.
Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? Even more, why do bad things happen to godly people? There are times I just don't know why God does or does not do certain things. I, like you, am mystified by a lot of it. So here is my answer: I just don't know!
Listen: being a Christian does not mean you will not suffer. We may ask the question, "Why me?" but we could more easily ask, "Why not me?" As 1 Peter 4:12 tells us "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you" (ESV). Our trials and sufferings should not be seen as strange but expected. Jesus Himself assured us that there will be suffering in our lives: "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33 NKJV).
Here is what we need to know: we need to prepare for suffering. Suffering will come; it's not a matter of if, but when and how much.
As you read this, and you do not have any suffering or tragedy, I would say, "Rejoice, and enjoy it!" But know that hardship will come. Here is the bottom line: you are either coming out of a storm or headed into another. "People are born for trouble as readily as sparks fly up from a fire" (Job 5:7 NLT). It's just a matter of time. In this life, the only way to avoid suffering is to die. So like the diligent squirrel gathering nuts for winter, store these truths in your heart.
As Randy Alcorn says in his book If God Is Good, Why? "Most of us don't give focused thought to evil and suffering until we experience them. This forces us to formulate perspective on the fly, at a time when our thinking is muddled and we're exhausted and consumed by pressing issues. People who have "been there" will attest that it's far better to think through suffering in advance." In other words, be prepared ahead of time!
Our hearts go out to the families of those that were killed. We need to pray for them.
We thank God for the courageous first responders who are still on the scene. And we pray for the hundreds of wounded people. May God extend His comfort to them.
Events like this remind us that life is short and eternity is real and very close. This is why all of us should always be ready to stand before God. And the only way to be ready is by having put your faith in Jesus Christ.
FROM THE HEART
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