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My 2012 Year-End Update

I have recently moved my blog from WordPress’ site to my own personal site and given it the name of Parson Place News and Views. I have just posted my latest entry, “My 2012 Year-End Update”. You may read it at http://www.parsonplace.com/blog now. Please bookmark it and follow it for future blog posts. I hope you will have a very blessed and HAPPY NEW YEAR in 2013!

What? You haven’t heard of “TEOTWAWKI” yet? Actually, TEOTWAWKI is an acronymn for “The End Of The World As We Know It”. According to all the “doomsdayers”, TEOTWAWKI is supposed to happen sometime tomorrow, 21 December 2012, based on the fact that the Mayan Long Calendar ends on that date with no new calendar to succeed it. Is the world really going to end tomorrow?

Well, I have some Good News for everyone and some Bad news for a vast number of people. Do you want the Good News first? Okay, the Good News is that I can guarantee you with 100% certainty that the world will NOT end tomorrow, whether it is “the world as we know it” or the world in general. How can I be so sure? Well, I am so sure because I trust a source that has never been proven wrong on even one single point. What source is that? It’s the Holy Bible, and the Bible says that “the earth abides forever” (Ecclesiastes 1:4 NKJV).

You may say, “But wait a minute! Doesn’t the Bible say the world will end with the great Battle of Armageddon?” Actually, no. The Battle of Armageddon doesn’t end the world, it simply ends an age or era, the Era of Human Government. In that sense, it really will be the end of the world as we know it, but not the end of the world’s existence. Furthermore, if the world was supposed to end with the Battle of Armageddon, since that hasn’t happened yet, we can rest assured the world won’t end tomorrow, nor could it happen tomorrow, because there are still a lot of Bible prophecies that haven’t yet been fulfilled, and based upon the nature of their fulfillment, they simply couldn’t all be fulfilled in one day! Therefore, you can all take a collective breath and exhale now; the world is set to continue as it is for at least another 1,007 years from today. Why 1,007 years? Well, earth and humankind still have to endure the Seven Year Tribulation Period, which ends with the great Battle of Armageddon when Jesus Christ returns to the earth, plus another 1,000 years of Jesus’ initial reign as King. What happens after that? Well, that’s where the Bad News comes in for a vast number of people.

Are you ready for the Bad News now? Well, the Bad News is that if you have not accepted Jesus’ offer of salvation ON HIS TERMS (as stated throughout the Bible), then you will not be allowed to enter His eternal Kingdom and live with Him in joy and peace forever. At the end of the initial 1,000 year reign of Christ, the Bible tells us that God will judge all unsaved humanity (those without a saving relationship with Jesus) from creation till the time that the initial 1,000 year reign of Christ concludes (Revelation 20:11-15). This judgment is called The Great White Throne Judgment, because God sits upon a great white throne to enter into judgment with the unbelieving and/or unrepentant world. Those who are judged at this judgment throne will be cast into the Lake of Fire (Hell) and suffer eternal torment and separation from God without the hope of ever being pardoned or released. You see, the time for being pardoned will have passed, because one must accept this offer of salvation which Jesus extends to us while one lives in his or her life, that is, before dying physically. Once one has died physically, whatever he or she has decided about Jesus’ offer of salvation is settled forever at that point.

So, how can you accept Jesus’ offer of salvation and avoid this Great White Throne Judgment? It’s really very simple. First, believe that what the Bible tells you about Jesus and the way to be saved is true, that is, that God entered into our world through the birth of Jesus (which we celebrate, supposedly, every Christmas), that He lived a life completely without sin so that He could die for ALL sin on the cross as an atoning sacrifice. In other words, Jesus kept all of God’s commandments without ever failing once so that He could swap His righteousness for our sinfulness in a simple act of faith on our part. Second, if we believe that Jesus did all that the Bible says He did for us, that He rose from the dead (that is, that He came back to life after being crucified), and that He is Lord of all forever, then God has promised to save us from eternal damnation. If we truly believe these facts (and they are indeed facts, whether we believe them or not), then we will change our thinking and behavior (what the Bible calls repentance) and strive to live as righteously as we can, understanding all the while that we are not saved by our own keeping of God’s commandments but by our faith in Jesus’ keeping of God’s commandments. It really is just that simple!

Now, if you have never fully believed these truths so that you changed your thinking and behavior regarding obedience to the commandments of God, then I invite you right here and now, right where you are, to humble yourself before God, confess your sins, ask for God’s forgiveness, and begin striving to live the rest of your life for Christ, however long that may be.

While the Good News is that the world will never end (though it will be renovated — see Revelation 20:11 and Revelation 21:1), the Better News is that we who have put our faith in Jesus Christ to save us from eternal damnation in Hell will receive resurrected bodies like His that will never again grow old or get sick or die, and we will live and reign with Christ forever (Revelation 22:5). If you want to be a part of that everlasting Kingdom of Christ, now is the time to act. As the Bible says, “… Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2 NKJV). Don’t put it off even for a moment, for none of us has any guarantee that we will draw our next breath.

If you make this commitment, understand that this is not something you can try out for a while and quit if you don’t like it or if it gets too difficult to do. Jesus used an analogy to make this point when He said, “… ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God'” (Luke 9:62 NKJV). This is a forever commitment, and to demonstrate your commitment to Him and your love for Him, you should strive to obey His commandments to the best of your ability. When you fail to obey Him, as every believer does on occasion, know that He is waiting patiently for you to return to Him in humility to ask Him to forgive you and restore your temporarily broken relationship with Him.

Next, find a good local church who practices the love of Christ toward everyone and who preaches and teaches the unaltered Word of God as given in the Bible and worship with them every week. Give of your resources (your wealth, your time, and yourself) to bless others, both in that local church and wherever you may learn of a need you are able to meet. This is what it means to be a true believer in and a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.

Feel free to contact me with any additional questions you may have about living and practicing the Christian faith. I look forward to seeing you in the Kingdom!

Genuine Gratitude

As we prepare to observe another Thanksgiving Day on Thursday, 22 November 2012, I find myself questioning the sincerity of people’s gratitude, including my own. I don’t mean that any of us is deliberately hypocritical in our thanksgiving but rather that we are so accustomed to expressing our gratitude for the sake of “religious correctness” that we often fall into the trap of automatic reflexive gratitude. We all claim to be thankful and may even frequently mention how thankful we are, but are we really? How can we ascertain how genuine we are in our giving of thanks? I’d like to offer a very simple exercise for us to use in testing the true depth and sincerity of our thanksgiving. I can almost guarantee that, no matter how thankful you thought you were, you almost certainly will be more thankful after seriously undertaking the following exercise.

First, make a list of all the people and things you value most. The obvious items are family, homes, personal possessions, occupations, and whatever else you may deem significant in your life.

Next, try to think the unthinkable. As difficult as it may be, try to imagine a terrible calamity striking every one of these items on your list and completely eliminating them from your life. One by one, as you try to imagine your life without each of these people and things, ask yourself how you would continue your life without them.

Finally, consider that it really is entirely possible that you could lose one or more of these people or things from your life through accident, disease, or natural disaster. Once it becomes a very real possibility to you that you could lose one or more of these precious people or things, your attitude of gratitude will become much more serious and sincere. You will begin to treat every one and every thing in your life with much more appreciation than previously. Practicing this exercise on a regular basis, not just on Thanksgiving Day each year, will help us reprioritize our priorities in life.

For some of you, this is not just an exercise; it is something you’ve already experienced. For you, therefore, you don’t have to imagine such a loss. Thus, you can use your past experience to help you be more grateful for those precious people and things you still have in your life. Nevertheless, I still encourage you to practice this exercise regularly.

Perhaps Alfred Lord Tennyson said it best, “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” I wish to be one of those who is genuine in my love and my gratitude. I’m fairly certain you feel the same. Let me challenge you during this Thanksgiving Season to take stock of what you have to be thankful for and look at those blessings through fresh eyes. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Is the End Near?

Maybe you’ve seen the cartoon of two men standing by the roadside holding a sign that states, “The end is near.” A smug driver keeps on driving and calls them religious nuts. The caption beneath the cartoon simply states, “Maybe we should just change our sign to say, ‘Bridge out ahead.'”

It certainly helps to have a message that clearly conveys the truth of what one is trying to proclaim. So, when we as Bible-believing Christians say “the end is near,” what do we mean by that? I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ll tell you what I mean by it.

When I say “the end is near,” I mean that the end of wickedness and demonic control and influence in this world is near. I mean that the end of human government as we know it is near, because Jesus Christ, our Savior, Lord, and King is close to returning and taking over the rule of this world once and forever. So, what makes me think the end is near? Well, the fulfillment of numerous prophetic Scriptures that are related to “the last days” is the primary reason I’m convinced that the time is at hand for Jesus to return.

Perhaps the most significant prophetic fulfillment that indicates the end of this age is near is the restoration of the nation of Israel as a people and a sovereign government in the ancient land of Israel. While this is prophesied in numerous places in the Old Testament prophets, let me just list three references and you can check them out for yourself in your Bible. They are Isaiah 43:5-7, Jeremiah 32:36-44, and Ezekiel 37:15-28. In each of these passages, God promises to bring the people of Israel back into their original land after they have been dispersed for many years all around the world. Although every last descendant of Israel has not yet returned to the Promised Land, they have nonetheless been a sovereign nation in their own land for more than 64 years now since they were “born at once” (Isaiah 66:8 NKJV) at midnight on May 15, 1948. Since Jesus foretold that the generation who gets to witness the fulfillment of last days prophecies will not end until Jesus returns in His glory (Matthew 24:34; Mark 13:30; and Luke 21:32), we know that we are that generation!

Based on my understanding of the last days prophecies, I am personally convinced that we now stand at the threshold of the period of time called The Tribulation which will be the final seven years before Jesus returns to earth to set up His everlasting Kingdom. I further believe that the next war between Israel and one or more of their enemies (Iran, Syria, Egypt, etc.) will result in Israel further expanding their national borders and will culminate with a seven-year peace agreement specified by the prophet Daniel (Daniel 9:20-27, specifically verse 27).

Now, I’m not a prophet or the son of a prophet, nor do I play one on TV, but just by studying the prophetic fulfillments and what’s left to be fulfilled, I’ve come to this conclusion. I won’t know if I’m right until Israel’s next war, of course. Either it will turn out as I’ve projected or it won’t. If it doesn’t turn out as I’ve predicted, then no harm, no foul, and I just back away from it as an incorrect guess. What is NOT an incorrect guess, however, is that eventually, Israel WILL make a seven-year peace agreement with the man we all know as the Antichrist. Just when it will happen is in God’s hands.

While considering the horrific conditions and events that will occur on the earth during the Tribulation as they are described for us in both Jesus’ warnings in the Gospels and in the book of Revelation, what is perhaps the most exciting part about the impending return of Christ is the preceding event known as the Rapture. Though the word “rapture” is not used in the Bible, the synonymous phrase “caught up” IS used (1 Thessalonians 4:17 NKJV). Thus, those who try to dismiss the actuality of the rapture based on the fact that the word is not used in the text are handily refuted because the concept of the rapture is clearly defined in the very phrase “caught up.” Although there is much debate as to the timing of this event – pre-Tribulation, mid-Tribulation, or post-Tribulation – there can be no denying that the event is clearly described by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Those of us who believe in a pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church find the prospect of the beginning of the Tribulation period all the more exciting, because we are expecting to be snatched from the earth at any time now. Since we don’t know when it is going to happen until it actually happens, we will simply have to wait and see if our understanding is correct. However, I believe that the recent political elections in the United States which re-elected the most anti-Israel American President in history will greatly contribute to this dramatic conclusion of the current age. Furthermore, I strongly believe that his anti-business policies will finish off the struggling U. S. economy, which will create a domino effect around the world that will culminate in the perfect environment for establishing the much-dreaded One World Government led by the greatly feared antichrist.

Yes, indeed, I believe the end is VERY near! In any case, I echo what the Apostle John wrote at the end of his book of the Revelation, “… Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20 NKJV).

The Age of Deception

I was responding to a blog post by Rev. K. H. Marple on her Keep Life Legal blog a little earlier about the propensity for lying that we see in contemporary politics and society in general, and I felt my comment was worth turning into a quick blog post of my own. You can read her blog at the following link: http://keeplifelegal.com/2012/10/30/furthering-the-moral-bankruptcy-of-the-united-states/ The next paragraph is what I posted on her recent blog post, though I did edit the final sentence of that post a little bit, but the succeeding paragraphs are a few extra thoughts I’ve decided to add.

The first point Jesus made in His Olivet Discourse with His disciples about the Last Days is: “Take heed that no one deceives you.” (Matthew 24:1 NKJV). We live in the Age of Deception. Soon, during the Tribulation Period, all who have rejected God’s truth will be completely given over to deception so that they will “believe the lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 NKVJ). THE lie implies the lie of all lies, and what might that lie be? I believe it is the lie that there is any other god besides the One True God.

The apparent increase in wickedness we’ve seen in recent years, such as murders, thefts, and sexual promiscuity of all sorts and including the proclivity for lying about anything and everything, is just one more sign that we are drawing very near to the final days of this age. Some have called the age from the time of Jesus’ ascension until the Tribulation “The Age of Grace”, but I would argue that implies that God did not show grace prior to Jesus’ first coming or that He won’t continue to show some measure of grace during the Tribulation Period even. Moreover, God will continue to save whoever calls upon Him by His wonderful matchless grace even during the Tribulation Period after the so-called Age of Grace has supposedly ended (see Revelation 6:9-11 for proof that there will be some saved during the Tribulation). I accept the description of this era being called “The Church Age”, however, because it is certainly the era in which the Church has been commissioned by Jesus to reach the world, but God has ALWAYS been a God of grace, and there are numerous examples in the OT of God showing grace, just as there are numerous examples of God showing judgment during the NT era.

So, what is the greatest deception that we face in this Age of Deception? Anything which contradicts the revealed and written Word of God (The Holy Bible) is a lie and an attempt at deception. The problem is that most people, including the vast majority of professing Christians (and many times that includes a disturbing number of clergy), have no idea what the Word of God says because they never read or consult it for guidance or direction. I will submit to you that the only way you will survive this Age of Deception without being deceived, EVEN if you are a professing Christian, is if you know and understand what God’s Word has commanded and is demanding of us all. If you don’t make time to read and peruse God’s Word (the Bible) for instruction, guidance, and revelation, you will be lost in more ways than one. Therefore, I heartily urge you to make reading and meditation upon God’s Word a part of your daily routine. Turn off your TV, radio, computer, and cell phone and get away from other people long enough to read and ponder the meaning of at least one chapter from the Bible per day. Spend some time in prayer and meditation on God’s Word as well. I discuss these matters in great detail (reading, meditation upon God’s Word and prayer, but not lying) in my recent book Seven Keys to Effective Prayer, which you can get in both print and eBook format from any of the major book retailers.

Don’t be deceived in this Age of Deception! Listen to God and follow His Word, and you won’t be deceived.