Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
Something Wicked This Way Comes - By Pete Garcia -
When I was younger, we used to live out in the country. We owned 24 acres I could roam freely around and our property and backed into a much larger property that was several thousand acres. Needless to say, I had plenty of backwoods to explore. There were many a time I would arrive home from school before anyone else and I would go wandering thru the woods with my dogs hunting for snakes, lizards, and the like.
Often times I would be so consumed with exploring, daydreaming, or both, that I let the time slip away from me. Then that sixth sense would kick in and I would notice that the shadows from the trees had begun to grow longer. In those moments, a slight panic would come over me as I realized that I was a lot further out than I intended to be, and making it back before dark was now in question. Prophetically speaking, that is where I think we are today. It is the end of the day, and the shadows have grown quite long indeed.
For those of us who have awakened from this daydream, we call life...we have awoken only to realize that there is another, more permanent reality to our existence beyond that which our five senses can perceive. We have taken notice and sense an evil creeping over this land like the onset of twilight. The sad truth for many is that this twilight's last gleaming, which lay before all of mankind, as bad as it is, will be the best their existence will ever know. It will also be the last glimpse of daylight many will ever see.
Perhaps that evil was always there, but as of late, it seems more intense and more foreboding than it ever was before. I liken our day unto a 'thinning' between the realms, similar to where man was before the great deluge of Noah's dispensation (Conscience). A day when dimensional boundaries were being crossed, and once opened, cannot be closed. We are back in an age where man is once again trying to play God and is opening portals and unleashing things that he does not fully understand.
The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 2nd Thessalonians 2:9-10
As believer's in this final stage of the Church age, we have been blessed with a complete set of Scripture, expanded doctrines of Soteriology (of Salvation), Ecclesiology (the Church), Eschatology (the last days), and every other 'ology' that could be defined within Christian academia. Since the Reformation, there has been an ever-increasing accumulation of knowledge and clarification about our faith since men were unleashed to begin using Scripture alone as a guide to understanding our belief system. This being opposed to the thousand-years of Roman Catholic dominance where dogma, tradition, creeds, and papal bulls stifled and hindered Christendom's ability to mature spiritually.
We do not really have any excuse to discount what the Bible has to say about what is coming nor being prepared to that end. We have been blessed with great thinker's, scientist, theologians, and preachers who have propelled our understanding by leap-frogging us theologically speaking, to about the greatest understanding of any generation could have since the first century. Yet many (dare I say most?) within Christendom, slumbers in apathy and the cares of this life?
While the world is crumbling around us, a growing majority of Christendom does not know, does not care, or is too busy building their own little denominational empires to address the crux of the problem. This is the exact place the Bible said we would be, especially, in regards to the social, cultural, economic, geopolitical, and theological realities of our day.
Many church leaders are more preoccupied with turning their churches into efficient business models and leadership factories, rather than focusing on the gospel of Christ Crucified. Most churches today are functioning in a society that is preoccupied with committing cultural suicide, and yet, are not reaching out to the dying masses in any real, eternally, meaningful way. They are too busy accommodating destructive lifestyles by undervaluing the gravity and seriousness of sin. They ignore the prophetic writing on the wall by redecorating the wall around it, so that it does not offend anyone.
They are more preoccupied about the physical structure of a church building then they are about being the Church. Because they refuse to acknowledge the truth of the lateness of the hour, they become fixated on accommodating people who are fascinated with their own demise.
Rather, we need to be warning, pleading, and praying for the salvation of all those around us. We do so because there is coming a time so horrific, that if God does not intervene directly, no flesh would survive it.
Skeptics, scoffers, the theologically lazy and ignorant Christian, often view the study of Prophecy as a distraction and/or as only sensational mumbo jumbo with no theological meat behind it. Admittedly, there has been much abuse in these regards, but to be fair, every major doctrine has been abused and/or sensationalized to one degree or another. As Christian's, we have the ONLY document on the planet that has and does tell the future about what is coming upon the earth.
No other system, religion, "holy book", technology, government, or philosophy can predict what is going to happen before it does. We are the only ones who have this truth. We have been afforded this privilege to bear as a burden, a testimony to the supernatural and divine nature of our Bible. Think about that for a moment.
Being a 'watchman on the wall' has been a term used so loosely as of late, that I think the weight of that burden, gets lost in the frequency of its usage. Let me put this in a more practical scenario.
Let's say that you lived in a small island community in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This island was paradise, and it has never been hit by a storm before. In this community, you are one of a select few with a functioning radio that can receive broadcasts from the mainland. One day, you begin hearing broadcast messages, which state that due to the current wind, temperature, and ocean currents, the conditions were ripe for a hurricane-size storm to form. A short time later, the messages then began to broadcasts that the storm they feared could form, was now in the process of becoming.
The other watchmen who were supposed to be monitoring the weather radios with you, have all changed the frequency and are now listening to all the hot new music coming out from the mainland. The music is so entrancing that an island-wide party has begun to form. Everyone is dancing and drinking, and acting as if they did not have a care in the world. However, as the days go on, the weather broadcasts became more specific in regards to the size, direction, and potential intensity of the storm that was forming.
As it draws closer to forming an eye, the wind speed intensifies and the urgency of the warning over the radio becomes direr as the storm's size and strength catapult itself into a Category 5 typhoon. This typhoon has begun to follow a particular path. The radio broadcast then names the storm "the Apocalypse" because of the destructive potential it is bringing with it. The forecasted path now puts your island (and your community) in a direct-hit scenario. The good news is, is that a rescue boat is speeding out ahead of the storm, and has room to take you and all your family and friends to safety.
However, you need to be ready by the dock when it arrives, because there will not be much time after it arrives. You begin warning your friends and family. Moreover, you try to enlist your other friends with radios to warn their friends, but they refuse. You get your family and close friends to gather with you at the dock so that when the rescue arrives, you can leave immediately. You head back inland to make one last sweep through the party. The party is in full swing and no one wants to leave.
Everyone is having a good time dancing and drinking. You even attempt to change the channel, but the partygoers catch you and begin beating you. Afterward, while you are laying there bloody and beaten, they begin to laugh at you. They tell you mockingly that a storm like that has never hit their island, nor will one ever hit it. You manage to pick yourself up and begin heading back toward the docks. Still, you have managed to convince a few more to come and they follow. Meanwhile, this massive storm is barreling towards your community and those who have chosen to remain have no idea how bad it is going to get.
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened. Matt. 24:21-22
The above example is equivalent to the island 'Christian' today. He/she has a complete Bible and enhanced understanding of the prophetic events playing out in real-time in our day, and yet, most refuse to speak out about. They do not want to be seen as "controversial" or "sensational". When Christian's refuse to speak the truth about what is coming, they are doing exactly like those island watchmen are doing, those who refuse to warn their friends and family about the storm heading their way.
We exist on an island planet in an ocean of space we call earth. The Bible says that there is a storm coming to earth, filled with violence, murder, natural and supernatural disaster, and wickedness on such a grand scale, the likes of which this world has never seen...and yet, so many preachers, teachers, pastors, priests, theologians, and so-called learned spiritual leaders, refuse to acknowledge the possibility that Christ will return. In a bit of friendly encouragement, I will conclude, that if you've been regularly attending a church for more than six months in which the pastor/preacher has yet to utter the words, "Christ will come again soon", you're probably in the wrong church.
You might be wondering, who has 'awakened' and how do I do that? Well, the only ones who can be awakened physically are those who have been born-again spiritually. Man is body, soul, and spirit, (1st Thess. 5:23) and if one of those is lacking, they then cannot function in the way God intended. Like a transistor radio, we can only pick up the radio waves if there is a message to receive. Next, there must be a machine/mechanism to receive the message. Lastly, one must be on the right frequency to receive said message (John 14:6). All three must be operational. Those who still sleep spiritually, have the body (the flesh) and the soul (the mental cognizance), yet, do not have their spiritual nature reborn, (i.e....lack the correct frequency) to which the message of salvation might be received and believed.
In order to receive this new birth, one must first realize that they are incapable of saving themselves. The only means, by which salvation is possible for mankind, is by accepting the free gift of pardon. This is done by placing your hope and trust, in the finished work of Christ on the Cross. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ...that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:9-13)
That by God's grace, through our faith (to which He gives us), that we receive the Holy Spirit who indwells your, permanently sealing you unto the day of redemption; you have now have been given eyes to see, and ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches. The Spirit confirms what Christ proclaimed to those who are born-again and are cognizant of the times in which they live.
These same are grieved at the growing darkness and oppression enveloping the world. These same must endure to the end, but need not lose heart...Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. (Rev. 3:10-11)
The Holy Spirit then moves amongst the Churches according to the times in which men find themselves. Unfortunately, the Holy Spirit's message of warning has fallen on deaf ears on many within greater Christendom in these last days. They either do not think or do not want to believe Christ will ever return. Thus, they have received a warning beforehand, that should they slumber, they will be in for a rude awakening...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. (Rev. 3:3) Clearly, Scripture teaches that the only prerequisite for our 'catching up' is being born-again, but by not watching, and not understanding the times we live in, we not only fail to warn those around us so they too might find salvation, but we ourselves are caught unawares.
At that moment of the Rapture event, we shall be thrust upwards into our new and final reality, in which the first event we undergo is the Bema Judgment. Here, believers are judged, not for sin (as that was paid for at the Cross), but are judged for the things we did or did not do for Christ in the time that was allotted to us. We will be judged on the stewardship of the gifts, talents, and opportunities we did (or did not) make full use of in our lives. Many today will state emphatically that one's eschatological leanings does not affect one's salvation...to which I would agree.
However, not having the correct eschatological view, often means you are working towards' the wrong end-state. The Amillennial and Post-Millennial views, for example, being the two largest within greater Christendom, views the Kingdom as not some future reality that Christ must usher in, but as a current, spiritual kingdom that we have to build in the here and now, either in lieu of Christ, or so that He can return. However, if the Bible teaches that the next kingdom coming upon the earth is that of the Antichrist, who then are they really helping?
The born-again believer has an unbelievable future in our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul writes...eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. (1st Cor. 2:9) The Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church then will instantaneously remove us from this island before that dreaded storm (the 70th Week of Daniel) makes landfall.
Yet, our means of salvation still has many open seats available. We believers, in this age with Israel restored after 1,900 years (Ezekiel 37, Luke 21:24, Romans 11:25), bear the responsibility in our own spheres of influence, to warn those around us who have no idea what is coming upon the earth, that salvation is found only through Jesus Christ so as to escape the coming wrath.
"But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man." Luke 21:34-36
Pretribulation Rapture Signpost #1: Premillennialism - By Jonathan Brentner -
Why do we believe that the rapture will happen before the tribulation? While I enjoy writing about the signs of the last days, at the same time I recognize the necessity of equipping believers to defend what they believe, which I will endeavor to do in the coming weeks, beginning with this post.
The first signpost pointing the way toward a pretribulation rapture is premillennialism, the belief in the thousand-year reign of Jesus before the eternal state (see Rev. 20:1-10). Those who hold to this position also believe in a literal seven-year tribulation after which Jesus returns to earth to setup His kingdom and rule over the nations of the world.
Do you see why a defense of premillennialism must come first? If one denies the reality of the tribulation, the timing of the rapture in relationship to the tribulation does not matter. Many amillennialists deny the reality of the rapture altogether.
Therefore, in order to establish a solid basis for providing biblical evidence of a pretribulation rapture, we must first show how and why amillennialism contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture.
Amillennialism Makes God a Breaker of Covenants
Amillennialists believe God has rejected Israel and replaced her with the church. They say that the covenants of Scripture regarding Israel must be applied to the church, that God's promises of physical blessings for Israel contain hidden spiritual blessings that now pertain to the body of Christ.
If these things are true, does it not mean God has defaulted on His promises to Israel? Some of His covenants were conditional, but one covenant in particular was not.
In Psalm 105:8-11, the Psalmist tells us in no uncertain terms that God's promise of land to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is "an everlasting covenant." If the words of Psalm 105 are true, this covenant remains in effect today. God's promise of land to the descendants of the patriarchs has not expired; it's just as true today as when God made the covenant with Abraham.
In words that cannot be regarded as allegory or explained away in any other way, the Lord through the prophet Jeremiah states that Israel will remain a nation in God's eyes as long as the "fixed order" of day and night exists (Jer. 31:35-37). The prophet repeats this promise in Jeremiah 33:23-26 for the Israelites in his day who were saying the Lord had rejected them.
The rising of the sun each day testifies to Israel's abiding place as a nation in the eyes of the Lord.
Amillennialism Cannot Explain Jesus' Promise to His Disciples
In Matthew 19:28, Jesus made this remarkable promise to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, that you who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." These early followers of Jesus had no other way to understand Jesus' promise to them apart from reigning with Jesus over a restored nation of Israel.
How else could the disciples have understood this? Jesus is not telling them a parable; He's making a specific promise to them, assuring them of a future kingdom for Israel as well as a role in ruling over it.
Did the disciples retain a literal hope in this promise after Jesus' death and resurrection? Yes, they did.
In Acts 1:6 they asked Jesus, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" In response, Jesus did not reprimand them for such a foolish question or dispel any of their hopes. He told them that their timing was wrong and diverted their attention to the task at hand, that of taking the Gospel to the world (Acts 1:7-8).
Jesus did not dampen their hope of a future kingdom or contradict His earlier promise in any way. He only corrected their timing of the matter.
Amillennialism Began with an Effort to Combine the Bible with Platonism
As I explained in another post, amillennialism began with an effort to combine the teachings of the Bible regarding the millennium with those of the pagan philosopher Plato.
Augustine, the one who led the way in turning the church from premillennialism to amillennialism, found the idea of feasts and other physical blessings of the millennium repulsive. Motivated by his love for teachings of Plato along with his hatred of the Jewish people, he resorted to the use of allegory in order to turn the physical promises God made to Israel into spiritual blessings for the church.
Calvin followed this same pattern. Driven by his hatred for the Jewish people and his own Platonic leanings, he retained the amillennialism of Augustine.
This use of allegory, however, comes with other severe problems besides this compromise. Those who seek these hidden spiritual meanings in biblical prophecy cannot explain how the writers of the Old Testament can switch from accurately predicting events related to Jesus' first coming to writing in allegory, in almost the same breath, in regard to the restoration of Israel as a nation.
For example, how could Isaiah write about Jesus' birth as a baby with precision and then in the next sentence write allegorically about Jesus' reign on the "throne of David" (Isa. 9:6-7)? Allegories do not switch in and out of a story in such a way.
Amillennialism Leads to Further Erosion of Biblical Truth
Over the course of time, amillennialism leads to a further erosion of biblical truth. It happened after the time of Augustine and it will happen again with the resurgence pastors, teachers, and writers who today deny the reality of the tribulation, millennium, and a future for Israel.
By relegating of large portions of Scripture to allegory, amillennialism opens the door wide to further abuse of God's Word. If the apostle Paul did not really mean what he wrote about God not rejecting Israel in Romans 11:1-2, for example, then perhaps we can apply other meanings to his words elsewhere. Do you see how quickly the slide downward happens with the use of allegory to interpret the Bible?
This open door not only leads to a variety of false teachings regarding the future, but also over time diminishes the truths of the Gospel as amillennialism constantly undermines the trustworthiness of God's Word.
Amillennialism Negates God's Purpose for Revealing the Future
God possesses a passion for revealing the future. We see this clearly in Isaiah 46:9-11, ". . . I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose' . . . I have spoken and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it." God loves to reveal the future; it demonstrates His sovereignty over life and all events on this planet. Prophecy also proves the veracity of His Word given to us through the writers of Scripture.
Jesus fulfilled many Old Testament prophecies with His first coming. The Lord revealed these things to the prophets so the Jews would recognize their Messiah and so we would recognize God's purpose in sending His Son to the world. God reveals the future far in advance so we will learn to trust Him and His Word to a greater degree.
We see this in Jesus' words in John 14:29, "And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe." He told His disciples what was about to happen so they, when His words came true, would believe and not panic at what was about to happen.
God reveals the future so that, when people see His ancient words come to life before their eyes, they will believe.
Amillennialism Overlooks the Miracle of Current-Day Israel
As a result of their use of allegory to explain away future biblical prophecy, those who hold to amillennialism remain blind to the current fulfillment of prophecy unfolding before their eyes.
I remember explaining the miracle of current-day Israel to an amillennialist. It seemed as though he had a veil over his eyes as I showed him from Scripture the many prophecies relating to Israel. He could not see what was right before his eyes.
From start to the present day, the miraculous rebirth and preservation of Israel as a nation fulfills God's promise of future blessings for His people. This is not yet the millennial restoration of the kingdom to a repentant Israel, but today we see the beginnings of God's promise to His people found in Ezekiel 36:22-37:28.
In our journey along the road to believing in a pretribulation rapture, this is the first signpost we see. If we miss this one, we will never arrive at our destination.
There are two important reasons why we must start with premillennialism when examining biblical support for placing the rapture before the start of the tribulation:
It makes no sense to discuss the timing of the rapture if one does not believe in a literal tribulation or millennium. Such beliefs make the Lord's appearing for His church a non-event.
Secondly, premillennialists have a higher regard for the words of Scripture in prophetic passages. Without such respect for the literal meaning of prophecy, it's not possible to establish a basis for a pretribulation rapture.
Stay tuned for more signposts on our journey toward a biblical basis for a pretribulation rapture.
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Nearing Midnight: Tolerance Will not be Tolerated - Todd Strandberg - https://www.raptureready.com/category/nearing-midnight/
The political divide between the right and left has become incredibly wide. In fact, I did not think it would be possible to have a functioning society with this level of political discord. With each passing week, we manage to find a new low.
The latest milestone is that tolerance itself has become a dirty word. If you tolerate your enemy in any way, you are guilty of their political sins. Forget about Jesus' sermon about loving your enemies. Hate is now the new virtue.
The Friendship between Ellen DeGeneres and George W. Bush has been in many news reports. The two made headlines when DeGeneres was spotted sitting next to Bush and his wife, Laura Bush, at a Dallas Cowboys football game. Ellen defended their friendship, saying, 'We're all different and I think that we've forgotten that that's okay, that we're all different.'
CNN and moderator Anderson Cooper were criticized for ending the night with a question about the TV host's unlikely friendship with the former president. Cooper could have just as well asked if it's odd that Trump has black friends. As a member of the leftist cabal, DeGeneres clearly violated some rule with her coziness with Bush.
I knew the day would come when Shepard Smith would leave Fox News. Smith, the network's chief news anchor and managing editor of its breaking news unit, has worked at Fox News since its inception in 1996. He made headlines for his on-air criticism of President Donald Trump.
Smith was clearly working for the wrong network. He infused his show with a demonstrably hateful, contemptuous, and toxic anti-Trump tone, and his 'reporting' often sounds like Democrat talking-point propaganda. He frequently drew criticism from primetime stars like Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson.
I'm sure Shepard Smith will easily get a job at another network. His long career at Fox News may prove to be a problem. Someone will dig up old praises Smith had for a conservative, and that will be the end for him. The former Fox News head Roger Ailes having called Shepard Smith his "go-to guy" for "hard news" might as well be praise from Satan himself.
Megyn Kelly didn't last long at NBC because she had worked for Fox News. The staff hated her because she, in their mind, could never get the smell of the so-called conservative network off of her flesh. It didn't matter that Kelly had been a foe of President Trump. NBC had to pay out $25 million to rid itself of her.
Senator Cory Booker recently made an appearance at a CNN town hall, in which he advocated for religious intolerance. He basically suggests that Catholic schools across the country should shut down because they don't endorse his homosexual lifestyle:
"And so for me, I cannot allow, as a leader, that people are going to use religion as a justification for discrimination. I could respect your religious freedoms, but also protect people from discrimination, and as I said in the earlier answer, I grew up in a household where my parents talked to me about how people used to use religion to justify the discrimination against African Americans."
I don't understand where he thinks he has the right to say "I cannot allow." Catholics have a right to act in ways that don't harm anybody else, and if they choose to have an institution that elevates heterosexuality above homosexuality, that is not harming anyone else. Booker doesn't have to participate in that institution.
The sexual views of the Catholic church are based on natural law. For the same reason the Catholics are against abortion and contraception, they're also against homosexual activity. Namely, they believe that the end of the sexual act is procreation, and that because sex is directed toward procreation and toward the deepening of relationships that end with procreation, heterosexual sex ought to be favored over homosexual activity.
If we cut to the chase on tolerance, the last thing to go will be patience for anyone who claims to be a believer in Jesus Christ. By having given any forms of intolerance a green light, murder will quickly become a reasonable punishment.
"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name [than Jesus Christ] under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
"When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained" (Revelation 6:9).
When Confusion Reigns - By Hal Lindsey - https://www.hallindsey.com/ww-10-23-2019/
1 Corinthians 14:33 gives a profound and insightful statement. "God is not a God of confusion but of peace."
Yet in much of the world right now, confusion reigns. I mean deep, basic levels of confusion. Perhaps the most obvious would be the millions who are confused about their sexual identity. The science of gender no longer holds. It's not a question of XX or XY chromosomes, or any of the other obvious scientific differences between male and female. It's all about feelings, and those feelings have been purposely confused by educators, entertainers, advertisers, and others.
At school, young people are propagandized to believe Islam is a religion of love and Christianity a religion of hate. Schools now openly teach kids to judge others according to race. Virtue has become something you signal to others; not righteousness or moral excellence. Children are subjected to "drag queen story hour" in local libraries, and it's even celebrated in national television commercials.
Good is called evil and evil good. Followers of Jesus are increasingly seen as dangerous to children. A major presidential candidate recently called for churches to either come into alignment with his moral beliefs or lose their tax-exempt status. Franklin Graham said that as a result of such pressure, "There will be a lot of Christians who unfortunately will bow down and give in, and many have already."
And is all this working? It's no secret that young people who see themselves as homosexual are at greater risk of suicide. The experts used to say that it was because society made them feel guilty. But they can't say that anymore. Society affirms homosexuality at every turn. Acceptance is at an all-time high.
But with all that acceptance, suicide has only gone up.
Acceptance and affirmation have not helped at all. Why not? Because the guilt is not external. It comes with the sin itself - not just homosexual sin, but all sin. Society pushes heterosexual children to have the sexual morals of rabbits, but society's affirmation of sin does not stop the guilt. That's because the guilt didn't start with society. It started with the sin.
As people abandon the biblical definition of right and wrong, are they feeling more free? Are they doing better psychologically? No. They're doing worse. America and most other First World countries are experiencing a mental health crisis. The statistics are stunning. One in five children now suffers from a mental health disorder. And that's just the ones who have been identified.
CNN recently reported, "The rate of ER visits involving psychoses, bipolar disorder, depression or anxiety jumped more than 50 percent from 2006 to 2013, according to the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Roughly 1 in 8 emergency department visits now stem from mental illness or substance use disorders, the data show."
Across the nation, more and more hospitals are instituting Psychiatric Emergency Rooms. Why? Because we are experiencing a mental health crisis.
Romans chapter one sounds the warning to societies that intentionally turn away from God. Verse 28 sums it up. "As they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind."
Depravity of mind goes far beyond mental illness. And I'm not condemning people for being sick. The condemnation goes to the society itself. Romans 1:21-22 says, "For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools."
Daily Jot: Politics, Pastors, and Christians - Bill Wilson -
As impeachment disruption heats up, the debate over Christian participation in politics is re-circulating among various Christian camps of thought. Those justifying non-participation often cite Matthew 22:21 where Jesus says, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." Some pastors use this verse to teach their flocks that Christians have no place in the affairs of their nations. Pastors also preach Romans 13 about submitting to the ruling authorities, even though they may be evil. But Peter himself said in Acts 5:29 that, "We ought to follow God rather than men" when he was facing persecution and unjust demands from the ruling authorities.
As I see it, the context of Romans 13 was about the religious leaders that were the Roman-appointed governing body over the Jews. In any case, if those leaders are corrupt by Biblical terms it is self evident that you do not follow or support them. Governments are established for the good and protection of the people. In that, people give up some rights for those protections. Laws are established also to protect the people. As Christians, we know that we are to be a law-abiding people. But when a law goes against God's law; or a government goes against God's law, to whom do we submit as the higher authority? Peter answered that question when the ruling Sadducees threw him in prison for preaching Jesus in the Temple.
When this country was established, the Founders were well aware that they were going against the prevailing world view--that God appointed the ruler (the king) and that the people should blindly follow along even if that ruler was unjust. We can see the Founders' thinking by reading the Declaration of Independence in its entirety. Their mantra at Concord and Lexington was "No King but Jesus." So in our form of government, we the people have the say over who rules us. To passively submit to evil rulers, especially in this nation where God blessed us with the freedom to choose, is beyond the bounds of God-given common sense and self-preservation.
Many will say that Christians should not concern themselves with earthly kingdoms, but only be concerned about the kingdom of God. I don't view it as "either/or," but rather "both/and." We are charged in Romans 12:21 to be not overcome of evil, but to overcome evil with good. In this country, we are blessed to have a say in our government with our vote. And if we choose to be salt and light to the political arena, we have that opportunity as well. I take issue with pastors who promote accepting evils in government or politics by saying they are no concern to Christians. Discouraging action against the ills of society by voting, participating in government or politics, or by just speaking out on such issues, is consent. Perhaps the best way to begin overcoming evil in high places is by cleansing the pulpit of those who condone it.
Daily Devotion: What It Means to Be Poor in Spirit - by Greg Laurie - www.harvest.org
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.-Matthew 5:2
If we rewrote the Beatitudes for our culture today, they probably would look like this:
Blessed are the wealthy, for they will have it all.
Blessed are the beautiful, for they will be admired.
Blessed are the popular, for they will be loved.
Blessed are the famous, for they will have followers on social media.
However, that isn't what Jesus said. Instead, He started the Beatitudes with a bombshell: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:2 NKJV). Or, to say it another way, "Happy are the poor in spirit."
Notice that Jesus didn't say, "Blessed are the poor." Rather, He said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit" (emphasis added). In itself there is no blessedness in being rich or poor. The Bible doesn't commend poverty, nor does it condemn wealth.
But the Bible does say this: "The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil" (1 Timothy 6:10 NKJV). I've met wealthy people who were happy and poor people who were miserable. I've also met poor people who were happy and wealthy people who were miserable.
So it isn't about your bank account. It's about your spiritual state before God. The word poor in this verse comes from a verb meaning "to shrink, cower, or cringe." Beggars often did this in Jesus' day.
If you want to be happy, if you want to receive God's blessing, then you must be poor in spirit. This means recognizing your spiritual poverty apart from God. It means recognizing the simple fact that, apart from the Lord, you're lost, helpless, and hopeless.
If you want to be happy, then admit your true spiritual state. Blessed are those who see themselves as they really are, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
FROM THE HEART
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