Future Things

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For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2)

As you look at the world around you, what do you see? Everywhere, people are going about their activities, rushing to and fro, seemingly with ant-like singleness of purpose. From a higher vantage point, perhaps that’s even what we look like, ants darting around. And while we hear stories on the news and have at least a casual awareness of international events, we seldom give them much thought, at least not enough to truly affect our plans. Wars, terrorist attacks, earthquakes, tsunamis, economic collapses, people dying of starvation or suffering persecution at the hands of oppressive regimes, and so many more things are happening all around the world but life goes on and those things fade into background noise as we focus on executing our own plans. We go forward with every expectation of living our lives to their fullest extent.

But it’s all coming to a climax. We don’t like to think about it, we don’t know much about it, and we mostly try to deny or dismiss it, but despite our ant-like bustling around, way deep down inside each of us knows that there has to be a day of reckoning; that this growing global chaos cannot continue forever; something has to give. Perhaps as evidence of a burgeoning concern for our collective future, attendance at the fall prophecy conference put on by Jan Markell and her Olive Tree Ministries last October was double expected levels. More than 6000 people attended, some waiting in traffic for more than an hour to get inside for this event. Indeed, it seems people are becoming at least more curious about what is to come.

But we don’t have to wonder too hard. God has made it clear in the Bible that the end will come and Jesus will return as he promised. The question really is: when? And Jesus answered that question in Matthew 24:36-44: “No one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes. Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left. So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”

Of course, probably every generation since Jesus ascended to heaven has thought the end was near. So are there any signs right now that signal us we might be truly getting close to the end? Well, certainly the reestablishment of Israel as a nation in 1948 is a unique event of epic proportions and a signal we should not ignore. But a little closer look at the world today reveals certain situations that fit with Biblical prophecy as signs of the times. Space here doesn’t allow an exhaustive list, but let’s take a cursory look at some of them.

We’ll start with unrest and lawlessness in Europe. Greece’s fall into near financial ruin and the well-publicized Brexit vote both signal dissension and economic instability in the European union. Meanwhile in Switzerland, the opening ceremony for the Gotthard Base Tunnel showcased a bizarre and tasteless opening ceremony that featured a dancing goatman, which is often symbolic for Satan, with other dancers bowing down in what appears to be an act of mock satanic worship. And more open borders and mass refugee immigration from troubled areas of the world have led to increased terrorist activity leaving citizens and governments alike on edge. Many prophecy experts believe the Antichrist will arise from Europe and the current unrest there certainly seems to be the perfect breeding ground for such a thing to happen.

And we have wars and rumors of wars seemingly in every direction we turn. One country threatens another, terrorists seem to operate everywhere, and North Korea is stirring the pot in the biggest of ways. Rogue nations dabble in nuclear programs while the people of the world watch powerlessly. On December 23, 2016 the UN voted against Israel while Israel’s greatest ally, the United States, abstained from the vote. This seems to align with prophecy in Zechariah 12:3, which speaks of countries aligning against Israel. And, rather obviously, this only adds to the tension in the middle east.

And people are falling away from sound Christian teaching in large numbers. Just as the Apostle Paul prophesied in his second letter to Timothy: “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4) This is evident in so many ways all across the globe. Even some churches have become nothing more than social and political outreaches, promoting lifestyles and politics completely inconsistent with sound Biblical doctrine.

So we see that there are, indeed, many signs that the end could truly be much closer than any of us care to think. We are called to be watchmen on the wall, praying day and night and sounding the warning, and there seems to be plenty to warn the people about, for indeed, if that day draws near, and it sure looks like it does, then the time to get right with God is now. Right now.

To learn more about prophecy and eschatology, we are proud to recommend these resources to you:

Olive Tree Ministries

Behold Israel

Pastor Mark Hitchcock

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Your Stalker

stalker threatening-1541063_960_720   Your stalker is out there. You may not ever see him, or even know that he’s lurking about, but he’s watching you. He watches you when you wake up in the morning, he watches while you shower and while you dress. He follows you on your morning commute and he watches with steadfastness while you go about your daily work activity. He’s got eyes on you when you stop at the gym after work, when you’re having a drink with friends, and on your way home. And as you settle into bed after a long day, he’s there waiting. Your stalker never rests, always watches, always waits. In broad daylight and creeping around in the dark of night, he’s there. He’s always there, a shadow lying in wait.

Your stalker’s name is Death and Death is a hunter. A patient hunter, stalking his prey with precision and endurance. He never worries about missing his quarry, for he knows they all succumb eventually. It doesn’t matter how adept his subject is at survival, Death will introduce every victim to his partner, the grave. And all your efforts to avoid Death are in vain. It doesn’t matter if you eat right or work out regularly. Neither the fitness guru nor the glutton can avoid their common fate. Some things we do may help delay the inevitable, but even then Death often strikes without warning. Auto accidents, cancer, storms, and fire are just tools in the hands of Death.

Each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)

It may seem this subject is a bit grim but let’s face it, the one statistic we can be sure of is that 10 out of every 10 people will die. That’s you, me, them. Everyone. Most people don’t like to think about it, but almost all of us have already faced death with the loss of a friend, family member, or coworker, so we know how real death is. But it is so much easier to focus on our careers, our hobbies, our friends, our social lives, our favorite TV shows, our vacation plans, or just about anything else. Death is not a subject we like to think about.

But the fact remains, death is stalking us, and as much as we may not wish to think about it, it may come much sooner than we care to imagine. We all know someone who died much too young and tomorrow anyone of us could be that person, so time is short. And we all instinctively know that death is not the end, so making sure we are ready for it should be our highest priority. So how can we be ready?

First, we must admit that we are a sinner. That should be really easy, for who among us would ever consider themselves perfect? Indeed, we all know deep inside we have made mistakes, we have done things that have hurt those around us, so let’s not waste any time with denial. Next, we must repent. This is also really simple; we just acknowledge that we are sinners and we turn from doing things our way and we start doing things God’s way. Lastly, we put our faith in Jesus Christ. For “if you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)

Please, please take these steps today, for everyone likes to think they have another day, or year, but the reality is we may not even have another minute. May God bless you richly as you consider your eternal future and the reality that God loves you enough to send his only Son that you might be forgiven.

Learn more at: KnowGod.org

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Before Anyone Else

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BAE. Before anyone else. A term to describe the most important person in your life. Most use the term to describe their significant other; so, for example, I would say that my wife is BAE. And she definitely is…in human terms. But there is one who comes before her, and should be BAE for all of us, and that one is God. This is not just my opinion, it is one of God’s commandments, one that God gave us for a very specific reason. Let’s look at God’s Word:

“I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. You must not have any other god but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.” (Exodus 20:2-6)

Now, some people can find the meaning of these verses from the ten commandments a bit troubling, but in reality they are not so difficult at all. God is communicating to us his intended design that places Him first in the order of all things, and especially as it relates to our relationship with Him. Any difficulty in understanding often comes when we bring our own, modern day understanding to the text (a poor practice called “eisegesis”, which space doesn’t allow us to discuss in detail here). When we use the technique of understanding the text in terms of the original writer’s perspective (a more acceptable practice called “exegesis”) then we begin to understand what God is saying to us.

When God is described here as a “jealous” god, the word in the original language is “qannā,” a word that refers directly to the attributes of God’s justice and holiness. He is to be the sole object of human worship and he does not tolerate man’s sin. Understood this way, we see that the term “jealous” in Exodus 20:5 is not the same kind of jealousy we might feel in our lives, rather, it reflects God’s ordained order of things, and His rightful place in that order is before anyone else, or BAE. Anything less will not be tolerated.

This is a good point for us to be reminded that when God says “don’t,” He means “don’t hurt yourself.” There is a clearly designed order in God’s creation, of which we are a central part, and when we stray outside that order we begin to experience consequences that may take many forms. To stray from God’s intended order in any way is to sin, and sin always comes with repercussion. And this is where we see God warning us in Exodus 20:6 – “I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected…” So maybe the cliché “don’t means don’t hurt yourself” might better be stated: “don’t means don’t hurt yourself and others”.

As human beings, we often have a strong tendency to think only in terms of ourselves, but our lives are not our own, and our choices and the actions we take affect those around us as much as they affect us, and this is especially so within our families. Most of us have known family dysfunction at some level, and we see here that the ultimate root cause of that dysfunction stems from not recognizing God is BAE. So when we lose sight of God in His rightful place as Lord, and we pursue all those things that we desire, we really make ourselves BAE (even if we don’t realize it) and all those things, those pleasures, they become idols to us.

So what are we to do? How do we escape this tendency to put ourselves in the center of our lives? Simple, really: we accept God’s forgiveness and we start doing our very best to keep God at the center of our thinking and our lives by reading the Bible, praying, and trying to follow His commands. Psalm 119:1-9 offers us this encouragement:

Joyful are people of integrity,

who follow the instructions of the Lord.

Joyful are those who obey his laws

and search for him with all their hearts.

They do not compromise with evil,

and they walk only in his paths.

You have charged us

to keep your commandments carefully.

Oh, that my actions would consistently

reflect your decrees!

Then I will not be ashamed

when I compare my life with your commands.

As I learn your righteous regulations,

I will thank you by living as I should!

I will obey your decrees.

Please don’t give up on me!

How can a young person stay pure?

By obeying your word.

We can see that when we keep God as BAE, and follow His commandments, then we experience joyful living. That doesn’t mean we will be without trials or difficulty. Quite the contrary, it means we will be joyful despite our trials and difficulties, and that joyfulness will bear witness of God’s power to all those around us, and to our own families, and family dysfunction will start to fade away. And that seems an admirable goal, doesn’t it? So…is God BAE in your life?

Learn more at: KnowGod.org

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

St. Patrick’s Day

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As an Irish-American, St. Patrick’s Day has always held a special place in my heart. But just why do we celebrate? Who was St. Patrick and why was he so important? Let’s take a closer look at this intriguing story!

Patrick was a sheep herder who became a Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. The exact dates of his life are not precisely known, but in general it is believed that his ministry was primarily during the second half of the 5th century and that the day we celebrate, March 17th, is believed to be the day of his death and subsequent entrance into heaven.

Surprising to many is the fact that St. Patrick was not Irish. He was British; Patrick’s parents were Roman citizens living in England. By the time of Patrick’s birth, most Romans were Christians and Christianity was spreading rapidly across Europe. At age 16, Patrick was captured by Irish raiders and taken back to Ireland as a slave where he spent several years herding sheep and learning about the Irish people. Around age 22 he managed to escape and fled back to England.

Patrick wrote in “The Confession of Patrick” that the time he spent as a slave was crucial to his spiritual development and that The Lord had “mercy on his youth and ignorance”. As he spent his days herding sheep he spent much time in prayer leading to his eventual personal repentance and faith in Jesus. Once back in England, Patrick joined a monastery and spent 12 years learning more about God and, thus, grew closer to his Creator.

Patrick recounted in “Confession” that he later had a vision of a man named Victoricus that came from Ireland carrying “many letters”. To Patrick he gave one with the heading “The Voice of the Irish” and from this vision Patrick was inspired to return to Ireland as a missionary. Patrick’s position as a foreigner in Ireland was not always an easy one; his refusal to accept gifts from kings placed him outside the normal ties of kinship and affinity. Legally he was without protection, and he claimed that he was once beaten, robbed of all he had, and put in chains. As with many missionaries, the Gospel message is not always warmly received.

Several legends have become common to St. Patrick including the legend that Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland. There is, of course, no real evidence to support this, and it is more probable that it is allegorical for driving out the pagan beliefs. Of course, especially here in America, the color associated with Ireland and St. Patrick is green, but Patrick’s color was originally blue. In several ancient artworks depicting the saint, he is shown wearing blue vestments and King Henry VIII used the Irish harp in gold on a blue flag to represent the country. Green was associated with the country at a later time, possibly because of the greenness of the countryside, made so by the plentiful rainfall. Today, Ireland is often referred to as the “Emerald Isle”.

And then there is the prototypical symbol of St. Patrick’s Day, the shamrock. While many would claim the shamrock stands for faith, hope, and love; legend has it that Patrick used the shamrock to help people understand the triune nature of God. This makes sense as the leaf’s typical three lobes can easily demonstrate how three things, such as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, can be separate entities yet be one and the same. It does seem quite apparent that, however Patrick shared the Gospel message, he met opposition and he faced plenty of challenges. That he overcame the trials and difficulties to convert the Irish people is a testament to his conviction that the Gospel was worth any price he might have paid.

The Gospel message has driven many a person to endure whatever hardships, trials, and persecution came along. Compelled by the certainty that the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection is absolutely true and, therefore, the single most important fact of all humanity, Christians throughout history have endured all things to advance the salvation message. Saint Patrick was one of these great missionaries, and he spent much of his adult life bringing the message of God’s mercy and grace to the people of Ireland and that is what we celebrate on March 17th.

St. Patrick’s Day is also the perfect time of the year for all of us to contemplate the certainty that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin into human form, lived among us for approximately 33 years, was crucified for our sins, and rose again to defeat death once and for all. That “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). This truly is the greatest fact of all humanity. Have you made the decision to repent and place your faith in Christ? Why not do so today?

Many blessings to you all as we celebrate the blessed life of St. Patrick. Éirinn go Brách!

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Conspiracy Theory 2

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True or false: science has proven conclusively that the earth is billions of years old.

False.

Almost all of us have grown up being taught that the earth is billions of years old, that we evolved from some lower form such as apes, and that these things are indisputable facts. They are not. In fact, up until the roughly the middle of the 18th century, most people believed the earth to be roughly 6000 years old, just like the Bible states. One such person was Niels Steensen (1638–1686), a famous Danish geologist who established the principle of superposition, which is the theory that rock layers are deposited successively in horizontal fashion. In his book, Forerunner (1669), Steenson expressed belief in a roughly 6,000-year-old earth and that fossil-containing rock layers were deposited during Noah’s flood. Over the next century, several authors, including the English geologist John Woodward (1665–1722) and the German geologist Johann Lehmann (1719–1767), wrote books essentially reinforcing that view. So the old earth view has not always been the principle theory.

Perhaps that’s not so shocking. After all, we have better and more complete scientific methods these days. And yes, that is true enough, but the theories surrounding an old earth predated those methods and the newer technology by hundreds of years. Renowned scientist Comte de Buffon (1707–1788) imagined in his book, Epochs of Nature (1779), that the earth was once like a hot ball of molten material that eventually cooled over a period of about 75,000 years to reach its present state. And Abraham Werner (1749–1817), a popular mineralogy professor in Germany, believed that most of the crust of the earth had been precipitated chemically or mechanically by a slowly receding global ocean over the course of about a million years. Many of the greatest geologists of the 19th century were Werner’s students, who were impacted by his idea of a very long history for the earth. But none of them had access to today’s technology.

So the theory of an old earth is just that, a theory. And while today’s advanced technology is used by some scientists to attempt to prove that theory is true, the fact remains that, since none of us were there to observe conditions when the earth was formed, this technology relies on presupposed ideas in order for the data to be interpreted; and thus we can see that what is often portrayed as indisputable fact is really just an educated guess at what certain data sets might mean. And while old earth theories are still taught as fact, the reality is that those theories have many detractors. Detractors who are every bit as scientifically educated as those who propose the theories, and who are interpreting the very same data.

Obviously this blog doesn’t allow the space to thoroughly examine all the potential assumptions that might influence how scientific data might be interpreted, so for the purpose of highlighting how certain suppositions can affect analysis, we’ll look at three common assumptions associated with one of the more popular methods that supposedly “proves” an old earth: radiometric dating. Radioactive rocks offer a “clock” of sorts in that radioactive atoms (parent isotopes) decay into stable atoms (daughter isotopes) at a measurable rate. The issue with this method comes about due to the fact that, as we noted above, no one was around when the rocks were formed so we have to make assumptions about how they were formed and the conditions that existed at that time. Let’s look a bit closer at these three assumptions:

Assumption 1: Conditions at Time Zero

Because no one was there when rocks formed, it is unknown how many, if any, daughter isotopes existed in the rocks when they were formed. If one assumes no daughter isotopes were present at that point in time, the rocks will appear much older than they really are. Such is often the case when volcanic lava flows from the unobserved past are analyzed. Scientists often just assume none of the daughter atoms (argon-40) were present at formation. But analysis in 1996 of lava rocks from the 1986 Mount St. Helens eruption were found to contain so much argon-40 that modern radiometric dating methods would have estimated their age at 350,000 years.

Similarly, basalt deposited by volcanic eruptions near the north rim of the Grand Canyon were obviously deposited after the canyon was formed, so they are relatively young compared to the canyon itself, but if one uses mistaken assumptions about the amount of daughter isotopes at formation, this basalt yields an age of up to 1,000,000 years. So we can plainly see how assumptions about conditions at time zero can influence interpretation of the data and cause us to have very mistaken results.

Assumption 2: No Contamination

The problem with this assumption is easy to grasp. Rocks are exposed to many sources of contamination such as may occur with water flow during heavy rainfalls, floods, etc. And lava that flows up through conduits from deep within the earth during volcanic activity is likely to pick up pieces of the surrounding rock as it moves through the conduit. All this activity can lead to gains or losses of parent or daughter isotopes, contaminating the analysis completely. Because of such contamination, lava flows from Mt. Ngauruhoe in New Zealand that are known to be less than 50 years old, yield a rubidium-strontium age of 133 million years, a samarium-neodymium age of 197 million years, and a uranium-lead age of 3.9 billion years. As you can see, the magnitude of the potential error is staggering!

Assumption 3: A Constant Decay Rate

Scientists have measured the decay rates of certain parent isotopes in the laboratory for nearly 100 years and have observed constant decay rates. Further, they have not been able to change these decay rates with heat, pressure, or magnetic fields. Based on these results they assume decay rates have remained constant for billions of years. Those familiar with mathematics will recognize the problems with making such an assumption based on data from such a relatively short time span as that of the laboratory testing.

But even more problematic for this assumption is that new evidence more recently discovered can only be explained by decay rates that have changed over time. One such example, the radioactive decay of uranium in tiny crystals in a New Mexico granite, yields a uranium-lead age of 1.5 billion years. Yet the same uranium decay also produced abundant helium, but only 6,000 years’ worth of that helium was found to have leaked out of the tiny crystals. This indicates the uranium must have decayed rapidly over the same 6,000 years that the helium was leaking, more than 250,000 times faster than today’s observed rate.

So we can see with these three assumptions that our interpretation of the observed measurements can be greatly influenced by the lens with which we choose to look. This is hardly pure science, and an old earth is hardly a proven fact. In our system of law, an accused person is presumed innocent unless proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We see above more than enough evidence to have reasonable doubt about the reliability of radiometric dating methodology. Thus we must not dismiss the possibility the earth is closer to only 6000 years old just as the Bible says.

So why have old earth theories propagated so widely as to be presumed true even when the data is hardly conclusive? One word: rebellion. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools…..They traded the truth about God for a lie. (Romans 1:20-23,25a)

So lay aside rebellion and seek the truth. Jesus said in John 14:6 that he is the truth. If you seek him in earnest right now, I guarantee you will find that his words will ring true and that he will gladly extend his free gift of grace to you. “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

To learn more about the age of the earth: check out the Institute for Creation Research and Answers in Genesis.

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

The Heat Is On

heat-is-on-1   Being from Minnesota it may be a strange time of year to talk about summer heat, but to make my point in this blog it is necessary that I recall the excessive heat and humidity that can envelope we Midwesterners like the ostensible darkness of a new moon. While many first think of the Midwest as an indomitable bastion of cold and snow; Minnesota is equally well known for our stifling summertime heat and humidity, usually occurring in mid to late July, that is usually immediately followed by periods of inordinate dryness, during which our land feels as arid as the Mojave and our grass turns the color of desert sands.

And it is in such summertime torridity that even minimal exertion one can labor to the point of heat exhaustion; incurring such physiological symptoms as excessive thirst, weakness, headache, and nausea. And who among us has never experienced such physical depletion wherein we find ourselves feeling as though we are weighed down to the point of lethargy? In such a state, the heaviness of our condition makes every effort seem labored and every breath seem desperate. With sweat dripping from our brow and pouring from every pore of our being, the feeling we can’t go on can easily overtake our desire to do so.

And it is this state of heat induced exhaustion that I will point to as a simile for a life lived with the burden of unconfessed sin. Let us remember that we all have sin in our lives – we have previously explored the reality that all have sinned and fall far short of the glory of God. And likewise I have highlighted in prior blogs that we are being disingenuous if we say we are sinless, for we each know deep in our hearts the mistakes we have made and the regrets we secretly harbor deep in our being. So let us dispense with any propensity for denial and deal with what we all instinctively know to be the truth: we have all done things for which we feel deep remorse.

And it is from this point I present to you Psalm 32. One of the seven penitential psalms (others are Psalms 6, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143), Psalm 32 stands out for its strong confessional overtones that seem to reflect a wisdom gained by King David’s own lifetime of mistakes.  Psalm 32 reads as a liturgical dialogue between David and God occurring in the presence of a sanctuary of worshippers, however, one does not need to delve into complex theological analysis to absorb the gist of David’s message. In verses 1 & 2, the joy and blessings of the forgiven are expressed; in verse 3 & 4, we see that holding our guilt inside leads to pain and strife. Indeed, those of us who have been concealing our indiscretions often feel weighed down as though we are held captive in a sauna-like crypt where breathing becomes as labored as if an elephant was standing on our chest.

But in verse 5, David brings us to the act of confession and it is here that our burden is lifted and in the joy of God’s complete forgiveness we can begin to breathe anew. We receive the promise in verses 6 & 7 of God’s protection and deliverance and then in verses 8-10 we are exhorted to live in Godly wisdom so that we do not repeat our missteps and that we might continue in God’s blessing and ultimately we might sing a song of praise (verse 11) to our redeemer.

Here, then, in its entirety, Psalm 32:

Oh, what joy for those
  whose disobedience is forgiven,
  whose sin is put out of sight!
Yes, what joy for those
  whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt,
  whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
When I refused to confess my sin,
  my body wasted away,
  and I groaned all day long.
Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
  My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Interlude
  Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
  and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
  And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. 
Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time,
  that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.
For you are my hiding place;
  you protect me from trouble.
You surround me with songs of victory. 
  The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
  I will advise you and watch over you.
Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
  that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”
Many sorrows come to the wicked,
  but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.
So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!
  Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

God has made a way for each of us to relieve ourselves of the burden of our past. And that way is Jesus Christ. We only need to reach out to Him in heartfelt honesty; there’s no magic formula. If we are sincere in our approach, we will experience a new freedom and a new joy like that which David expresses so eloquently in Psalm 32. If you haven’t already, won’t you reach out to Him right now?

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Am I A Fool?

fool-1972263_960_720“As dead flies cause even a bottle of perfume to stink, so a little foolishness spoils great wisdom and honor.”  (Ecclesiastes 10:1)

No one wants to be accused of foolishness. We all desire to have others think well of us and often feel great embarrassment when we do something that could be perceived as foolish. These days the Internet and social media have made it easy for certain types of our follies to be displayed the world over, ensuring that our errant behaviors, whether accidental or intentional, are available for ready recall at any moment. I grew up before You Tube and I am certainly grateful for that!

But You Tube moments aside, some of our foolish behaviors are not so easily seen by others. Decisions made in the quietness of our own hearts can be some of the most consequential of all our actions. Hidden only in the recesses of our minds, some of our more foolish choices are guarded by their less than obvious nature. Whereas our You Tube moments are readily recognized by ourselves and others, how do we recognize when the deeper decisions we make are also foolish?

No one can answer that question for you in every circumstance, but below are some questions that might help you decide for yourself whether or not you have been, or are being, foolish. Please read on:

“Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” (Psalm 14:1)

Question: Do you believe there is a God?

“But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

Question: Do you understand the truths of God?

“These wise teachers will fall into the trap of their own foolishness, for they have rejected the word of the Lord.” (Jeremiah 8:9)

Question: Have you rejected the word of the Lord?

“The wise don’t make a show of their knowledge, but fools broadcast their foolishness.” (Proverbs 12:23)

“Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom.” (Psalms 111:10)

Question: Are you humble, exuding a quiet wisdom that stems from knowledge of God?

“Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.” (Proverbs 18:2)

Question: Do you tend to voice your opinions strongly or do you seek input from others?

“O Lord, what great works you do! And how deep are your thoughts. Only a simpleton would not know, and only a fool would not understand this: Though the wicked sprout like weed and evildoers flourish, they will be destroyed forever.” (Psalm 92:5-7)

Question: Do you recognize that those who live only for themselves will perish?

“If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.” (John 1:8)

Question: Do you claim to be sinless?

“The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

Question: Do you believe the message of the cross?

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him.” (John 3:16-18a) We all instinctively recognize in ourselves things for which we are not proud. We have all taken actions that we later regretted; perhaps we know we’ve hurt another person unjustly, or we’ve taken something that didn’t belong to us, or we’ve disobeyed our parents, harbored hatred toward another, had lustful thoughts, or otherwise behaved in a way that we regret.

Sure, if we compare ourselves to others we may justify ourselves and find ways to rationalize our actions, convincing ourselves we aren’t so bad; but over time all these regrets have a cumulative effect and we often find ourselves weighed down by the burdens of our past mistakes. And this is not surprising for when God says “don’t” he means “don’t hurt yourself”.  But this same God who provides guidance we often ignore, also provides a way for us to be redeemed: “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

And wouldn’t it be the supreme act of foolishness not to avail yourself of God’s free gift of grace today? For “if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (1 John 1:9) May you find forgiveness in Jesus today!

To learn more, please click here: knowgod.org

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.