A Third Way? From the Garden of Eden onwards, humanity has been on a desperate search for a third option, a third way to be saved. We realize there is a wrong way, and we don’t want to be on it – I mean who wants to be with Hitler, and BinLaden, and Kim Jong-il? But we don’t like the only other way – bit too narrow, bit too demanding, bit too unpopular. So let’s make up a third way. In this post entitled, “The Charity of Clarity,” David Murray writes about the need to present the gospel with clarity, with no third option, even as Jesus did. Read his post here.
Are You Prepared? I identified with this moment in Lisa Burgess’ life when she stopped at a traffic light and encountered a person in need standing on the street corner. I believe we all face the questions she asked herself. Will we react as she did? Read her thoughts here.
Three Questions: What are the basic questions you should ask when reading a passage of Scripture? According to Gerald Bray, there are three vital questions to ask: 1. What does it teach us about God? 2. What does it teach us human beings? 3. What does it teach us God has done about it? Read his full explanation here along with his illustration of using this method with hard-to-understand passages like the genealogies. This interview begins with describing Dr. Bray’s credentials.
These are time lapsed photographs taken from the International Space Station from August to October 2011. You can find a full list of the locations being shown here.
It’s no secret, to those who know me well, that I watch a steady stream of news. Not only do I watch the news, I read two daily newspapers and subscribe to other news sources online. But I wasn’t always a news aficionado. I developed an interest in the news not long after James and I were married in 1966 because I learned to love prophecy. This happened through a series of events: In the late 1960’s, events were unfolding in Israel that riveted the world’s attention (1967 Six-Day War), and Hal Lindsey’s book, “The Late Great Planet Earth,” became a best seller. In addition, James and I attended a church where Biblical prophecies were regularly taught and discussed.
As I studied the prophetic scriptures, I began to watch the news to see how events happening around the world related to the Bible’s description of the “last days.” The Bible describes how the nations will be aligned with each other to fight against Israel, so I became interested in the geopolitical structure of Russia, China, Europe and the Middle East. I also began to note societal and cultural changes in the world which closely paralleled Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:1-5: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”
As my study of prophesy has continued and increased, I have sought to avoid these mistakes:
(1) becoming so obsessed with prophetic study that all other areas of Scripture are neglected,
(2) feeling that I have been given greater knowledge than anyone else and “know” when Christ will return, and (3) failing to consider all the divergent interpretations of Scriptures on the Rapture and His Second Coming by trusted evangelical Bible scholars.
The internet has now become a great resource for understanding how today’s news relates to Bible prophecy. There are also many websites and blogs devoted to Bible prophecy. Of course, it’s necessary to exercise both caution and discretion when reading interpretations of events, searching the Scriptures and the beliefs of the website’s author and praying for understanding and wisdom as these sites are explored.
There are several websites and blogs I read regularly, and I’ve listed those in the right-hand column of this blog and entitled them “Prophecy Websites and Blogs.” Several of these are a compilation of news stories and interpretations of news events in the light of Biblical prophecy. “Prophecy Update” is the most comprehensive site. I also plan to do some periodic writing on prophetic events in the coming days under the heading of Prophecy Postings. I welcome your comments and suggestions.
As a resident of Oklahoma in the year 2011, I’m never too surprised when our state makes the national news. We’ve had record-breaking snowstorms, the nation’s hottest weather, extreme drought conditions and swarms of destructive tornadoes, but this week Oklahoma made the national news because we’ve experienced several earthquakes. The largest one measured 5.6 on the Richter scale, followed two days later by an aftershock of 4.7 which happened while some areas were under a tornado warning.
As we heard the rumbling sounds of these unexpected earthquakes and saw the walls shake and the floor beneath us move, we seemed more alarmed about this geological phenomenon than any of our state’s harshest weather events. There was no loss of life, and very few experienced any property damage, yet there was a sense of unease and insecurity among many of us. Why was this happening? Was God trying to get our attention? Are these earthquakes a sign for us?
A study of earthquakes in the Bible (there are 17 references) shows that God “shakes the earth” for either judgment, deliverance or as a means of revealing Himself. The most well-known quakes are those surrounding the revelation of Himself. The first instance of this is found in Exodus 19:18 where the people of Israel are camped around Mt. Sinai, and God speaks directly to them so they will know Him for themselves and also to authenticate Moses as His spokesman. The Scripture says, “the mountain trembled greatly” when this revelation happened. Psalm 68:8, in describing the same event, says, “the earth quaked” at the presence of the Lord.
The second example happened immediately after Jesus took his last breath on the cross and Matthew 27:51 records, “the earth shook and the rocks were split.” In the third example, Matthew tells us in 28:2 when Mary and the other women arrived at the tomb on the third day, “there was a great earthquake.” God seems to emphasize some really momentous events with earthquakes.
There are at least two future “great earthquakes” coming which John writes about in Revelation 6:12 and 16:16-20. Enormous geological changes will occur as a result of these upheavals, and I doubt there will be a seismograph in existence which will be able to measure their intensity.
The fact that God seems to mark important events with earthquakes is probably one of the reasons we sensed our recent rumblings could “mean something.” But another more obvious reason is that Jesus, when asked about the sign of His coming and the end of the age in Matthew 24, declared that a number of ongoing circumstances, including wars, famines and earthquakes, would be present and could be thought of as “labor pains” to His return. Since a woman’s labor pains begin slowly and continue to increase in frequency and intensity until the birth, most Biblical scholars believe Jesus meant that wars, famines and earthquakes would be happening with more frequency and intensity when His return was about to happen.
Jesus also specifically stated that the earthquakes would be in “various” places. Some translations have “different” places for the Greek word He used here. It would seem natural to assume He meant that the earthquakes of the latter days would not just be occurring in Israel, but would, in fact, be happening all over the world, perhaps even in different places not known for earthquakes.
While I cannot begin to know or understand the mind of God in moving the Teutonic plates in the earth’s crust in Oklahoma this week, I do know this trembling intrusion into my life caused my heart to turn toward Him, to pray for those who seemed so unsettled by them, and to realize if these movements were indeed harbingers of His coming soon, I had nothing to fear. The Psalmist said it for me in 46:2, “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”
James received a phone call about three weeks ago and the voice on the other end of the line said, “This is a voice from your past.” But unlike some old classmates or relatives that might make a guessing game out of “who do you think this is?” this man quickly explained that he, Tom, and his wife, Debra, had lived down the street from us when we lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico. But because they had moved to Colorado before we left Santa Fe and moved to Norman, it had been at least twenty years since we had last spoken to them. Tom had actually located us through the internet.
Tom was calling to make an unusual request of James, but before he did so, he explained the journey he had been on which had brought him to this phone call. When we moved to Santa Fe twenty-three years ago, Tom’s wife Debra was a member of First Baptist Church of Santa Fe, where James had just become the senior pastor. She had welcomed us to the neighborhood one day by bringing us some cookies, and not long after that initial encounter, James and I walked down to her house to meet her husband Tom and their two beautiful young daughters.
Tom was standing on the front porch, and we introduced ourselves. As I went on into the house, James remained outside to visit with Tom. Tom said, as he told the story to James over the phone, “You turned to me and asked me if I was a believer in Christ. I remember replying, ‘Of course I am.’”
While Tom was not a member of our church, he did attend the worship services with his family, and he explained how the nagging question, “Are you a believer in Christ?” along with being under the preaching of God’s Word every Sunday, caused him to “devour everything I could find on the Bible and its teachings.” After studying for several years, Tom confessed, “I realized that believing in Christ was not enough. I needed a personal relationship.”
Since Tom and his family moved from Santa Fe, we never knew of his conversion to Christ. He said he went on to become a member of a church and began to teach a Bible study class. He had such a heart for God’s Word that he eventually earned a Master of Arts in Religion and later one in Religious Education from Liberty University.
However, (and this is where he made his request of James) he had never been baptized in believer’s baptism. He was calling to ask if he and Debra came to Norman, would James be able to baptize him? He felt the question James asked him on his front porch that day was his first step on this long journey of faith, and this portion of the journey would be complete if James was the one who baptized him. Of course, James assured him he would be happy to make the arrangements, and we would look forward to renewing our acquaintance.
While so many lessons could be drawn from this encounter, I have felt a renewed burden to ask the question to friend and stranger alike, “Are you a believer in Christ?” Ask the question, the Lord will do the rest.