Satan

If you are not a Christian, it is likely you do not believe in Satani. And there are many of you out there. Because I believe we are nearing Christ’s return, I am going to be as direct as possible.

You were created by a God that loves you very much. So much so, as to want a personal relationship with you. Through no fault of our own, we were born on a broken planet with what is called, original sin. (Sin means not knowing and/or not caring about what is right, …and doing what is wrong). we also have freewill—think of it as double-edged sword. Because we have freewill God will never force us into any decision, …period.

Jesus said however,“…I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.ii” It doesn’t get any clearer than that. We are free to live our life any way we want. But, to become a Christian you must come to the decision that you can’t live a sin free life by yourself. If/When you decide you need help and want to learn more about becoming a Christian, I would recommend finding a non-denominational Christian church that believes Christianity is about you establishing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is not about man-made rules and rituals. It is about establishing a relationship with Jesus Christ, and following the new life Jesus has for you. He will provide you a life tailored to the you, you will become. You will never be sorry.

Now, if you are a Christian you definitely believe in Satan, …or, you should. This is not my “opinion”. The Bible makes it very clear that Satan not only exists; but, is dedicated to destroying us.iii His first appearance in the Bible occurs in Genesis 3:1.iv The evidence of his hatred for God and Mankind, can be found in every book of the Bible, save one, …Song of Songs, in the Old Testament.

Satan has many names,v but the one which I think describes him best was used by Jesus when he said, …He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.vi (Emphasis, mine). Yes! “…A liar and the father of lies.” It fits him perfectly.

Now, I need to talk briefly about the word, “bait”; a perfectly good word. Think about fishing. Worms are not dangerous on their own. But, when used as bait, …well, things change. The fish recognizes a worm as desirable and good to eat. It has just found dinner. But, the truth is, the fish was lied to; and it has now become dinner! In this context bait is a lie. Bait is used to attract, capture and/or kill something. It does this by appearing to be non-threatening, desirable, benevolent, or good—when in reality it is quite the opposite. When used in human society, it can lead to such things as buyer’s remorse, depression, loss of integrity, divorce, suicide, even murder. It depends on who is using the bait and what their intentions are. And thus, bait becomes an extremely important tool for Satan’s use.

The very first time we see Satan in the Bible, he shows us His true colors. It was a set-up of Eve. We don’t know if this was the first time Satan had talked to Eve; but, I think not. Satan knew of God’s solitary rule given to Adam, and then passed on to Eve. And, it is amply evident that Satan had this conversation with Eve carefully planned. The story starts at Genesis 3:1.vii

It seems that Adam and Eve were both in the Garden of Eden. Apparently they were separated; but not by too much. Satan, seeing an opening, and knowing exactly what God had told Adam, approached Eve, …and intentionally misquoted God’s rule. God had said, “You may eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”

But, Satan asked Eve this question, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” A misquote designed to give Eve some over-confidence, perhaps? Because…

Eve promptly responded, (perhaps a bit smugly), “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden. It’s only the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’ ” That was a pretty good paraphrase of what God said; but, with a bit of embellishment on Eve’s part.

Then, …Satan came back with the bait! “You won’t die! God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” Wow! What an enticement. No consequences, i.e., It’s not going to kill you; and, you’ll become like God…! Now that’s some bait. And, …Eve was convinced.

She went all in. The tree was beautiful, the fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. She took some of the fruit and ate it. By now Adam has appeared on scene. Eve gave him some of the fruit and he ate it, too! Folks, it was all downhill for Adam, Eve, mankind, the earth, and every living thing on it, from that very moment.

The bible says, at that very moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. Feeling guilty, (certainly a new experience for them,) they hid from God when they heard him coming. How sad is that!

If you read on you will find the full consequences of their actions. Paradise was lost! Oh, they didn’t die on the spot, but they did lose the opportunity to eat the fruit that would have bestowed eternal life on them—and mankind! Make no mistake about it, they learned about evil and the consequences of sin. Can you imagine how terrible that must have been—after what they had known before they defied God. Adam and Eve had to deal with their first son, Cain, murdering his brother, Able.  Tragic!  And, yes, Adam and Eve did live very long lives, but they eventually died just as God had said.  And yes, we will also die, unless we are alive when Christ returns.

So, now you have seen how Satan works. Satan will use every tactic he knows to lead mankind into sinning. And unfortunately, Christians—because we still live on this broken planet—do not have immunity to sin. What we do have, is forgiveness of our sins; and help, when we battle Satan and his demons.

We do not have a get out of jail free card. Don’t forget that as Christians, God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, dwells in us. He knows our mind-set, our thoughts, and our intentions. We cannot hide from him. Just remember that He is a just God; and will never forsake us.viii He will help us. He will teach us. He will bless us. He will protect us from supernatural powers. But he won’t save us from the consequences we earn by using our free-will to deviate from his plan for us. Remember his plans are perfect. Our plans? …Not so much!

Satan may attack us at any time. Be ready. Fight Satan through prayer. Engage the Holy Spirit. Over time, as we learn more about God, our relationship with him will grow and we will find ourselves growing and strengthening in our belief. We will be able to recognize “bait” and turn away from it. We will also learn how to recognize God’s truth. We are being “perfected”. It is a process that will last until Christ either returns or calls us home. We will be perfected the instant we leave this planet, …with Jesus at our side.ix

My prayer:

Abba,

Thank you for helping me with this post. Only you and I know what a struggle we have had. I covet the safety you promise me.

Lord, while on the one hand I pray for the return of Christ, you know I also want to see as many people as possible saved before His return. Either way, you are the driving force; and, I will keep writing as long as it is your will for me.

It distresses me when I hear Christians say something like, “Well yeah, I think Satan is real, but I don’t believe he has any direct interest in me; or any other Christian for that matter. I mean I know what I’m doing; and, even if it isn’t exactly perfect I’m sure God understands. And, I think it’s pretty much that way for everyone”.

Father, forgive their arrogance.

Help me, Father, to show people how Satan uses us as his “pawns”, and sometimes as his “bullets” to attack You. I don’t want to scare anyone. Rather, I want them to recognize an attack on themselves, or others—no matter how benign it may seem. I want them to have confidence in you and to engage you immediately through prayer. I want them to be confident in your guidance which will lead them to victory. I pray they will stay the course, and come out the other end wiser, with greater faith, feeling blessed and praising you.

Thank you, Abba. Through Christ I pray, amen.

Larry

i There are many other religions that believe in Satan. In fact: many people worship Satan. And, like Christianity with it’s many denominations (I’m sorry to say) their are many different ways of Satanic worship. Then too, there are many other belief systems that do not recognize Satan or our God (YHWH). Most of these are Eastern religions.

ii John 14:6. NLT

iii As a Christian you do not have the right to pick and choose what you will believe from the Bible.

iv This begins the story of, “The Fall.” It is the story of how sin and death was introduced into God’s creation.

v Satan has many names. I found 40 in the Old and New Testaments. Some of the most common are: accuser, adversary, Antichrist, Beelzebub, devil, destroyer, dragon, enemy, evil spirit, Lucifer, murderer, murder from the beginning, son of Perdition, son of wickedness and wicked one.

vi John 8:44. NLT

vii All scripture quoted in the telling of this story is taken from the NLT translation of the Holy Bible. Quoted scripture is rendered in italics.

viii Hebrews 13:5 NLT

ix All scripture in this post is taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Playing God

My mother was a perfectionist. I remember taking my coloring book to her to show her my latest work. She said, “Oh, honey, that’s very good! I like the colors you used. And, if you had stayed inside line right there,” (pointing) “it would have been just perfect.”.

The funny part was, I was never disappointed. After all, she really liked what I had done. So I’d go color another picture – being very careful to make it, …“perfect”.

I became a Scout. Three years a Cub Scout. Three more as a Boy Scout. And, three more as an Explorer Scout. By the way, the Boy Scout motto is, “Be Prepared”. That was 9-years of “preparation”!

Later in life, I became an Air Force pilot. An occupation that left little room for mistakes and/or failures to plan. (A significant number of military aircraft are very unforgiving of mistakes!)

I became an Emergency War Order Planning Officer. We wrote the plans to implement the missions our Wing was assigned to fly if we went to (nuclear) war. We also wrote plans for deployments and emergency movements. After writing the plans, we would pour over our work doing “what-ifs”. Every sortie had a mission – and, a priority. “What if, sortie 3 doesn’t get started? Which sortie do we divert to take it’s place? What’s the ripple effect from that decision?” On, and on, and, …on.

I tell you this so you can see how I became something of a perfectionist, and a person who is always looking for the “potential point of failure, etc)”. I also want to share with you that this will affect your personal life; and more importantly, your walk with Christ

I can drive my wife to distraction with questions and what-ifs. She sometimes accuses me of negativity. I take umbrage, and tell her I just, “…want to be ready in case things go cross-wise”. She informs me our marriage is going to go cross-wise if I don’t let up. (But, she smiles when she says it.)

So here I am, constantly looking for potential problems or flaws in my plans: and the plans of others – when they involve my family or me . When I find flaws (or even just potential flaws) I start working to assure that I have the answers, solutions, explanations or whatever else may be required, instantly ready to be applied, when/if needed.

And that kind of thinking, folks, is bogus and sinful on many levels. It is also dangerous thinking. It gives Satan a foothold in my life – which I want to avoid like the plague. It’s a source of stress – which I don’t need. Sometimes it builds ego – which I don’t need. It causes friction within my marriage, and in relationships with family and friends – which, I certainly don’t need, or intend. But, most importantly, it is damaging to my relationship with Christ.

Have you ever thought about this? From the beginning of our life here on earth, (this applies to everyone), God knows our entire story. Everything! Nothing is hidden! Why is this important? Because regardless of everything else, God already has, or is going to offer you both adoption and eternal life. “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” [Eph 1:5, NLT]

I must tell you that it is not an open ended offer. It is good only until Christ returns to earth – or, we reach our departure date and time. Whichever happens, we will be “sifted”. Christians will join the family in Heaven. Non Christians won’t.*

So God, who is omniscient – meaning: having infinite awareness, understanding and insight; and, omnipotent – meaning: having unlimited power, force and authority, …actually made a considered choice to include me if I would subjugate my freewill, and trust in Jesus. I did!

In all honesty I’m telling you, I have a problem – of sorts. I find myself trying to play god! Not only that, I’m trying to play god while God knows, and, I should know, all that talk about trying to be perfect and having all the correct answers is so much, …fertilizer. Yet I turn my back on him to pursue my own plans. Now, …How. Dumb. Is. That?!

Then why did I say, “a problem – of sorts”? Because, I really do know exactly how to fix this Problem.

My planning for solutions to the unexpected – in an unknown future, is a oxymoron. It is also worry, arrogance, and foolishness! It is also Satan using me to take a jab at God. And, it’s time to repent; and, ask Jesus for forgiveness. It’s not that I’ve lost my salvation. I haven’t. But, I am sinning, and I need to stop. And to stop I need help. Supernatural help. And I need to apologize to my best friend.

Might there be consequences from the plans I’ve already set in motion? Absolutely! I’ll get what I’ve earned. And, both the good (if any) and bad consequences (much more likely) will be “good”. Good, like when even a blind pig occasionally finds an acorn. And, the “unfavorable consequences” will be the lessons I need to internalize so that I don’t keep repeating my stupidity. I know God will help me. He chose me; and adopted me. He not only has a plan for my life; but, tells me time and again that He will never forget nor forsake me; that He has my back; and, wants only the best outcomes for me. He is slowly but surely perfecting me. But, because I live on planet earth, total perfection won’t occur during my lifetime. There is nothing perfect on earth, …yet.

Prayer:

Father, (Abba),

I can’t even begin to fathom your love for me. But, I do understand it well enough to know that when I come to you, broken and contrite, you never fail to set with me, brush away my tears, listen to my pleadings, and hug me close. Oh, how I thank you for those times.

Lord, you have blessed me greatly — far beyond my dreams. Yet I some- times get impatient or discouraged when dreams, plans, or prayers, seem to have gone astray. At these times, will you please remind me of all the times you have answered, …and all the times I have not even noticed or acknowledged your provision, …and it’s perfection.

Lord, please continue teaching me to rely on your love and grace. Forgive my egotism and conceit. Please help me to restore the relationships my pride and conceit have damaged. Show me the truth of your words; and make my testimony effective when talking with others in their times of need.

Lord I know you are still on the job and in control. Your provision has never failed me. I will praise your name forever. Amen.

Larry

* The straight truth is: 1. God loves his creation of man (and woman) more than any other. 2. When Adam and Eve sinned (by doing the only thing God told them not to do), they (not only) brought sin, separation from God and eventual death, into their own selves (body and soul), they also introduced it to the entire planet and all future generations. 3. God is Holy and cannot abide sin—in any form or amount. 4. But God is also love, …and grace. And so, from his great love and grace, God came up with a plan that could save mankind from eternal death. 5. For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. [Jn. 3:16, NLT]

All we need do is: accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God. The only one who can forgive and cleanse our sins when we repent of them and ask for forgiveness. When we do that, we become Christians. The Holy Spirit moves into us; and will reside in us while we live our lives on earth. And then, let’s not forget that we will have a perfected body and soul while living an eternal life in the presence of God.

If you don’t take that simple step; or, you intend to – but just don’t get it done; or, you go through the motions thinking you can “fake it” and continue living your previous “good times” life; …PEASE believe me! You are doomed to eternity in Hell. Period!** A place were there is NO good thing. Not one!

Christ is offering you a new life. A “do over” of immense proportion. Jesus will be your guide. You won’t become magically perfect. But you will change. And God promises you will change far beyond your expectations; if, you give him the reins.

** God is Just. Children, too young to understand God’s plan, will not go to Hell. There will be children in heaven.

The bible tells us that we are born with the ability to know and search for God. As we find new cultures on earth, we have never found even one that did not have a god or gods; and, codes of “right” and “wrong”. The Bible also tells us in the Old Testament – before God sent Jesus to earth (as the only possible sacrifice for our sins) many people “found favor” with God.

So, I believe those who have never had the “Good News” of the New Testament explained to them will still be judged by God. And, those in whom He “finds favor” will go to heaven. But only God knows those “requirements”. I believe the great “I AM” will make “perfectly correct decisions”.

 

Observations on 9/11/16

First:

The radio woke me up this morning with commentators talking about this being the 15th-anniversary of the terrorist attacks against the United States. They reviewed both the attack(s) in New York and Washington, DC. Talking about the terrorists hijacking three airplanes and flying two of them into the twin towers and one into the Pentagon. And I’m thinking, wait a minute! Their were four aircraft hijacked that morning. What about United Flight 93?

I listened for 30-minutes; then got up and went online. I thought I’d surely find current stories that mentioned the 4th airplane. Nope. Nada. Found lot’s of coverage about the museum and memorial in New York City. But in those stories nothing was mentioned about Flight 93. What a travesty of justice.

Flight 93 was on it’s way from Newark to San Francisco. It had 44 people aboard. Seven crew, 33-passengers, four-terrorists. The plane was hijacked and turned back on a course for Washington DC. It is believed the target was either the Capital Building or the White House. Passengers and crew used phones to communicate with family members. They learned the Twin Towers and Pentagon had already been attacked. They spread the word through-out the cabin, took a vote, and decided to re-take control of the airplane—or die trying.

At 10:03, on 9/11/2001, United Flight 93—in a high speed dive—struck the ground in Somerset County, Eastern Pennsylvania. There were no survivors. There was, however, ample evidence that the passengers and crew had regained control of the cabin and were about to (or had just) breached the cockpit, thus forcing the hijackers to abort their mission. How many lives they saved is not known. How much terrorist propaganda was averted can only be imagined.

To all the family and friends of the brave crew members and passengers of United Flight 93, my heart goes out to you. And, I will never forget that this country owes them a great debt, indeed. They will be remembered, as true patriots, and heroes—who gave their all, that others might live.

Second:

The events of 9/11/2001 are difficult to think about. The total number of fatalities is given as 2,996. The number injured? I doubt anyone really knows that number. And, as a Christian I know that day has had tremendous impact on people’s belief. It shows us the depth of evil that can overtake and fill the hearts of men. It demonstrates just how quickly and without warning innocent lives can be snuffed-out. It begs the questions, were was God, and what was God trying to tell us.

I wish I knew for certain; but… I don’t. I am certain God was present. He was on all four of the aircraft. He was in the Twin-Towers and the World Trade Center. He was in the Pentagon. I know that every single Christian who died in that attack is now with Jesus.

I also know that God is God. He makes the “rules.” And, it all comes down to this.

God is holy and perfect. He cannot abide sin. Everyone on planet earth is a sinner—you, me… everyone. We will die. If you die in sin, you will go directly to Hell, where you will spend eternity in agony. If you die in a relationshp with Jesus Christ and your sins forgiven, you will immediately go to Heaven, where you will spend eternity in paradise as a son or daughter of God. (I’ll come back to this in a bit.) In the meantime consider the following.

I’m sure millions of people, all over this great nation came together to pray for the injured, dying, and their families. I’m certain that many people who had never before given it a whole lot of thought, were assessing and considering how shallow, empty and fragile their lives were. And, I would suspect a great number of them, recognizing their sin burden, turned to God. If not immediately, then certainly over time.

Also, by 2001, this nation was already telling God to get his nose out of our business. Drug use was going up. A woman’s right to have her unborn child killed (excuse me) her fetus aborted was in hot debate, and booting God out of our schools was getting more and more traction. That said, remember God is the perfect gentlemen. He will not force himself on anyone—or any nation. Have you considered that God may have been giving us a foretaste of how events might roll-out, …if He pulls-out?

Back to God being God…. No one on earth is perfect (without sin). Sin started when Adam allowed Eve to disobey God, and then, did the same thing himself. (Sin is knowing what is wrong; but, doing it anyway). So Adam committed the original sin which brought sin upon all of mankind for all time. This grieved God, for man was God’s favorite creation. So, over a long period time, God demonstrated (to man) that man cannot live a perfect life by his own merit and effort.

Then God did the best thing, ever! He gave mankind a Savior. He sent His only Son to earth to live a perfect life and become the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Jesus became our Savior when He died on the cross taking the sins of all believers, for all time, with Him to Hell. He was placed in a tomb with a stone closure. Three days later He walked out of his tomb as He had said He would. (Thus we can be assured that He was the son of God). He spent the next 40 days teaching and showing the scars from the nails that had been driven through his hands and feet. He then, in the presence of two of His disciples ascended into Heaven! (Thus we know He lives today and assures believers of our eternal life in Heaven).

God and Jesus are very specific about the following: There is only one way into Heaven and it is through Jesus Christ. And, while there is only one way, that way is open to anyone and everyone who truly chooses to believe in Jesus as God’s only son, and asks Jesus to forgive his sins forever and restore his relationship with God.

So, no matter who you are, no matter how big a burden of sin you have brought upon yourself, if God is speaking to you, and you know you must do it, you can start your relationship with God/Jesus right now. Here is a simple prayer. I recommend you read it first, just to see what you will be saying to Jesus. Then, if you want to start a new life in Jesus—read it as a prayer to your new best friend.

Jesus, you know that I have sinned. I know I can’t help sinning even when I am trying my hardest to live a good life. Jesus, you also know my heart, and that I believe you died for my sins on that cross so long ago. Please, Jesus, take my sins and restore my relationship in your family. Jesus, I want to make you Lord of my life by living the life you have planned for me. I’ll need your help. Thank you for hearing my prayer. Amen

What now? If you just made that prayer, you probably have a lot of questions. And, I have written a lot of Blogs that could help you. The one I think you should start with is: You Aren’t Perfect, posted: 03/18/16. Just keep scrolling down and you’ll find it. Another you may find interesting is: Where We Stand, posted: 04/01/16.

Avery Goodday

Where Is Your Focus?

This post was originally posted in November, 2012 Yet, I keep coming back to it. The first revision was in November, 2015. That one was a major edit. This time I have returned to the original; cutting some information, and adding new information. I do not like bringing politics into a post. But, it is a big part of our culture—and, God has quite a bit to say about culture, so here we go….

Political Conventions and a Presidential Election lay ahead of us, and already there is so much dirt and misleading information in the media, I hate to turn on the TV, listen to the radio, or read any print articles. Am I disappointed? Yes. Am I surprised? No. I did hope that we could talk about issues and solutions without resorting to personal slander, half-truths (the same as whole lies), and other dirty political practices. I was wrong; and again, it looks like we are a nation deeply divided.

It would be interesting to see what would happen if we had a truly viable third party. A party of men and women who care more about their country than they do a political party and their next election. I have observed time and again, that there are not enough of these patriots in either party to be able to govern. Would there be enough patriots in the voters pool to elect these rare politicos? I’m not sure. I hate to say it but, there are far too many voters that vote only, “Who is going to give the best handouts”. It’s a sad reality. Yet, there are politicians waiting in line, who are willing to promise these parasites “what ever it will take” to get their votes. And then, they will borrow the money (perhaps, from our good friends the Chinese) in order to keep their voters—whom they cry for—enslaved.

Anyway, suppose we were to find these patriots who are not reflections of our culture; and we get them elected? How much can they compromise in order to govern? Think about it. What principles, or values, would you not compromise on? Where would you absolutely draw the line? Know what? I’ll guarantee you, a lot of the people you know will differ with you. Some may be far to the right, or to the left! Others, up or down. In fact, more and more people will tell you that there is never a hard and fast line (or rule) about, …anything”!

It’s called Relativism. Relativism posits that there is no absolute truth; no black or white. What there is, are shades of gray. NO absolute law is even possible. It depends on multiple factors. A quick example: As you read this, how fast are you moving. If you say you are not moving, you are sitting still; I could say, “…you lied”. You are on the surface of the earth and it is rotating at a speed of approx. 1,037.56 mph—at the equator. But, if you are not at the equator, your speed around the earth’s axis would be faster. Then we must consider that the earth revolves around the sun. which is moving through space within the Milky Way Galaxy. So, you may be sitting at your PC; but, you are also, most certainly moving. It’s all relative. Now, try to apply this to our legal system. You will quickly see why the courts are so screwed-up. There is no hard definition of right or wrong. It’s all relative.

The reality of the situation in the United States, and a significant part of the rest of the world, is that this is where we are headed; and, we are picking up speed. I am living my 73rd year. (I’ll start my 74th before the next president is inaugurated). Oh, Yes! I’ve seen change. Some of it good. Much of it, in my opinion, …bad. Am I surprised? Not at all. The Bible is very clear that this will happen. Evil is being taught as good. Good is being taught as evil.

And that is why in our society, kids, beginning in Grade School and continuing through High School have to make decisions about drugs and sex. It is also why so many of these kids make the wrong decision! It is why the divorce rate is so high. Why so many husbands are cheating on wives; and, vice-versa. Rising rates of spouse abuse; legal abortion, including in the third trimester; and “partial birth” abortions. Even the selling of body parts from aborted babies!!! (Over 56-million babies have been killed since 1973, when the Supreme Court decision on Roe vs Wade, made abortion legal in the US). Why do we have so many home invasions? So much fraudulent this, and fraudulent that? Embezzlement? Child abuse? I could go on, …and, on.

Now, consider this? Our form of government is a Representational Democracy. Our government is (and should be) a reflection of our society. It should, therefore come as no surprise that in a society that is selfish, prideful, greedy, dishonest, and with no moral “North Star”, …we see the same characteristics in our politicians! OK, there are exceptions—and that’s the problem—they are the exceptions!

Is there a solution? That we have control over? I doubt it. The United States has turned away from the only source of absolute truthGod. The only one qualified to tell us what is right and wrong is the Creator of the Universe. He set it in motion, He knows exactly how it works. He created life, He knows how it should operate. It should come as no surprise therefore, He would also give us a guide book for living on earth. Our society, in turn, chooses to mock and make fun of Him; and, His guide book, …The Holy Bible. If that doesn’t change very quickly I think the United States will continue it’s decline until….

Nowhere in apocalyptic scripture can I find any reference or prophecy that I can interpret as applying to the United States of America. This tells me that our country will become a non-player on the World Stage, before the End Times. Don’t look now; but we already have a strong start down that path. What will happen to the USA? I can’t say. I don’t know. But I can think of a few scenarios.

1. The moral and spiritual condition of America continues to decline—until it implodes. This could lead to a complete breakdown of society, including riots, collapse of economic systems, energy systems, etc. The USA would not be the first Super Power to experience such a collapse. The Babylonian Empire, The Persian Empire, Greece and then Rome—all, the super-powers of their time. “Ancient history”, you say? And, I respond, “So what”!

2. Terrorists make a dirty bomb and set if off in a major city such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston or Atlanta. Remember, it doesn’t have to obliterate the city. It only needs to kill a significant percent of the population from radiation poisoning, and make the city, and a large area down-wind unlivable as well. This could easily lead to panic and the collapse of our debt-weakened economy.

3. An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack. A flash of light 300 miles above Wichita, KS—near the geographic center of the USA—electronic systems all over the USA, and parts of Canada and Mexico, stop working. Computers, are dead. (And what government, major corporation, financial institution, hospital, small business, etc. doesn’t rely on computers). Anything, having an electronic control system (the entire electrical grid, for instance) will be down. Goodbye tele-communications and cellular systems. Vehicles; ships, trains, planes, buses, trucks, and automobiles-all inoperable. The distribution of food, and other materials stopped! (Look around, what items can you identify that did not spend time in a box-car or truck). Emergency systems, police, fire and medical–heavily dependent on electronic equipment, or electronically controlled equipment, are severely handicapped. Even home furnaces and all forms of refrigeration systems and generators will be inoperable. In seconds the US is thrown back in time by 250 to 300 years. There would be “relatively few” immediate deaths. But, multiple-millions will die over time. Mostly from starvation, disease, and exposure. (Oh, the missile was launched from a cargo ship 30 miles off shore. It’s flight time too short for effective defense.)

God is a just God. He will not put up with our sinful behavior forever. We want to drive Him out of our society… He will withdraw. Personally, I believe that process is also well underway. Does this scare me? Yes, and no. I do not fear for myself and my loved ones who are followers of Christ. Obviously, I think about this from time to time. But, I also know Jesus is, and always will be, with us. He will never abandon us. I trust Him to bring us through whatever happens. For others? YES! For them I am greatly afraid. And they should be, too.

What can Christians do?

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountain-side by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone 24 but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” [Matthew 14:22-33. NIV]1

First, we need to heed Jesus’ words and stop focusing on the “wind and waves.” We need to focus instead, on the only One who can really save us. Then, we need to get about doing His business here on earth. We need to model Christian behavior, and lead as many non-believers as possible, to their own personal, saving relationship with Christ Jesus.

The best outcome I can see is either He calls us home; or, the Rapture occurs before God decides He has had enough of this nation’s rebellious behavior. Regardless, only He will be able to bring us through what lies ahead. And, for those He loves, He will.

Abba Father,

In these times Father, it seems like it becomes easier and easier to loose sight of You among the distractions of everyday life. Current events seem to ensnare me. Media blasts me from every side. There seems to be more and more demand on my time. In reality, I know it is Satan—up to his usual tricks. I forget that I can turn off the TV. I can put the computer to sleep. I can even ignore the cell phone calls, or texts, for however long I desire. I can shift my attention from the enticements of this temporary world, to the truly valuable work of God’s eternal Kingdom.

Thank You for reminding me that You Are In Control. That we will get the government that fits Your plan for this nation. If we get what we deserve, …well, I’d rather not go there, again. Perhaps, You will find it in your great Love and Compassion, to give us better than we deserve.

I really don’t know how to pray for this nation as a whole. I know I would like to see a great revival. I place my trust in You, Father. And ask only, that You use me as you desire.

Thank You, Father. Amen.

Avery Goodday

__________

1 Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervon publishing House. All rights reserved.

Who is God?

Just who is this God we believe in? And how do we go about finding out?

I believe the best source of information on the topic simply has to be the book He has given us. So, we will be digging into the Holy Bible, …but, not too deeply. And, I have a couple of reasons for that. First, you can hardly read a single page without learning something about God; and there are a lot of pages! Second, I think we can learn the basic and most critical information pretty quickly by looking at just a few of God’s names.i The names God reveals in the Bible are meant to show us His true nature.

Elohim is the first name we come across. “In the beginning Elohim created the heaven and earth”. [Genesis 1:1]. The Hebrew root of this word means “strength” or “power”; and, it is in the plural form. I’m sure that “plural form” business was an interesting mystery and topic of conversation for thousands of years. It was not totally explained until the New Testament times when we learned about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Elohim is used more than 2,300 times in the old Testament; and is sometimes merged with other names. For example: Elohim Chaiyim—Living God.

YHWH is the name used by God when He first presented himself to Moses in the burning bush. At some point in time the ancient Jews stopped pronouncing the name out-loud. So we know neither the exact spelling or the exact pronunciation. The best guesstimate (and generally accepted spelling is YAHWEH). It means “I AM”, or “I AM WHO I AM”. It is usually translated as LORD. God also told Moses, “’…This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.’” [Exodus 3:15. NIV]ii YAHWEH name is also, sometimes, combined with other names. An example being: Adonai YAHWEH—Sovereign LORD (over all the hosts (powers)).

El is another name for God in the Bible and is used to define other characteristics of God. Here are some examples: El Shaddai—Almighty or all sufficient. El Olam—the Everlasting God. El HaNe’eman—God is Faithful. Elohay Selichot—God of Forgiveness. Elohay Yishi—God of my Salvation.

That is just nine names from the Old Testament. And, here are four more from the New Testament: Yeshua—Jesus. YHWH told Mary what to name her son. Jesus then claimed himself to be YHWH in John 8:56-59. And, Jesus also referred to himself as “The Son of Man” and, “The Son of God”. Then in the Book of James, written by a brother of Jesus, James refers to God as the “Father of the heavenly lights”. The entire scripture reads: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows”. [James 1:17. NIV]iii

So, what can we learn from these names? Speaking for myself, I have learned this:

There are times when I think that the only constant on this planet is “change”. But then I have to remind myself, …that is false thinking. God’s truth, God’s love, God’s faithfulness, do not change.

In fact, NO characteristic of God will ever change! Think about it. Just from this page of names we know that God is a spirit, not from this universe. Instead, He is the all powerful Creator of this Universe. We know that God is a triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We know that God is God, and there is no other like Him. We also know He is all sufficient, meaning that we need no other God. In fact our God is sovereign over ALL other powers. He is alive and will be for eternity. Best of all, He is the God of Forgiveness and Salvation; and every good and perfect gift is from Him. And, He is forever faithful.

These are some of the names of the God I not only believe in; but also trust for my salvation, and provision. By His very nature God cannot suddenly “pack-up and pull-out” leaving me alone. He literally cannot. So why on earth would I ever look for any other!

Heavenly Father,

Again I approach you in fear and awe—You are so much beyond my understanding.

I know, ultimately, I had only two choices. To accept that which I will never fully understand; or, to reject it and continue as I was—which you know was an “ugly mess”, getting worse all the time, and one that would have ended in eternal death.

While I don’t fully understand your thoughts and ways Lord, I will be eternally grateful for the new life of freedom from sin you have given me. And, Lord, when in Heaven I’m perfected, maybe then I will understand. Although, just being in your presence for eternity will be quite enough, I’m sure.

Thank you, Lord. I will forever praise your name(s). Amen

Avery Goodday

_____

i    The Bible (in its original languages) provides many names for God. That’s because God called himself different names at different times. Most English translations translate YHWH, as “LORD” (Large and small capitals). Adonai is translated “Lord” (Capital and lower case). When the two names occur together, they are translated “Sovereign LORD”. Other names, which have little meaning today are typically rendered to convey the sense of the Hebrew. This is often further explained in footnotes; and is done to decrease misunderstanding, and increase clarity and readability.

ii   NIV. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervon publishing House. All rights reserved.

iii  Ibid.

Ascension!

After he (Jesus Christ) said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” [Acts 1:9-11. NIV]i

Let’s go back a little over a month before this event. Before Jesus could ascend into heaven, He had to first walk out of the tomb; and, before that He had to die on the cross and be placed in the tomb.

If Jesus had not carried our sins to the cross as a sacrifice for all mankind, for all time… and, had He not walked out of his tomb three days later, …there would be no “Good News” message. There would be no forgiveness of our sins. There would be no reconciliation with God. And, there would certainly be no alternative to death, …for anyone. Digest that!

But, …He did! Which brings us (40 days after He arose) to his ascension—which we just read about. How important is that? Extremely! For two reasons. First, had Jesus Christ not gone back to heaven (and His Father) we would not have gotten the Holy Spirit. I think you would agree that our lives would be very different had not the Holy Spirit convicted us of our sins; and then sealed our relationship with God as He (the Spirit) took up residence within us when we first became Christians. If I try to imagine life without the Holy Spirit, …I can’t. It is simply too ugly and far too depressing.

The second reason the ascension is so important is the notice, and vision, we have been given of Christ’s return. Or, what is usually called, “the Second Coming”. It will happen very near the end of the Tribulation. Which means that (hopefully) we will not see it.ii (Although some people think we may actually be part of it.) The point is that Christ’s return will mark the end of the earth as we know it. We will stand the only judgment we will ever stand in heaven; and it will be in front of Jesus. It will not be to decide if we will go to Heaven or Hell. That decision was made when we accepted Christ as our savior. At this judgment, we will be given our eternal rewards—built up over our lives as Christians.

Jesus,

Thank-you for this never ending story. I live in awe of it’s simplicity, and yet, …complexity. And, how it all comes together for me and everyone (anyone) else who simply believes and asks for your love and mercy. You are the one, true, great, mysterious, loving, triune-God. Your eye is on everyone.

Thank-you for choosing me. On my merit, I certainly did not deserve it. In fact, I deserved death. I can earn nothing of eternal value. My faith and my hope is in You. And, while I’m sure I have failed You more times than I ever care to think about; Your love and provision have never failed me. Words fail….

Thank-you, Lord…

i    Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervon publishing House. All rights reserved.

ii   I think that the Rapture—which is not to be confused with the Second Coming—will happen shortly before the beginning of the seven years of Tribulation. Some think the Rapture will occur at the mid-point of the Tribulation; and still others say, “very near its end”. I certainly hope it will be “before,” since the Tribulation is going to be a horrific time for most people on earth; and, especially for those who are (or become) Christians during the Tribulation. And yes, I do believe non-Christians will be able to become a Christian during the Tribulation.

Who’s Watching Us?

Well, in this day and age, we can pretty much bet someone is! Oh, I’m not a conspiracy nut. Nor am I paranoid. But, in my opinion George Orwell, in his book “1984”, did a pretty good job of predicting the future in many ways. Yes, we are a bit beyond 1984—but “Big-Brother” seems to be becoming a fact!

Now, let’s see who may be watching us. We can start with spouses, parents, children, other relatives and in-laws, friends and future friends. There are also acquaintances, co-workers, teachers and our bosses. Maybe even potential Christians, or possible enemies. Then we get to unknown watchers using security cameras, traffic cams, drones, cameras, cameras with incredibly powerful telephoto lenses or night vision, cameras in PC’s, cell phones, pens, and even eye-glasses. Laser sensors that can read conversations from the vibration of window glass, more traditional audio “bugs”, computer hacks, etc. Oh, and how about the information you put out there on Facebook, twitter, and other social media. Did you know that if you have a “toll-tag,” it is also being “pinged” by many other sensors wherever you drive. Your movements may not be tracked, …but they could be. How about GPS devices, including smart phones, that record your movements. And let us not forget all the various cards we swipe, insert, or simply place close to the (RFID) reader, while completing purchases, returns, getting cash from ATMs, etc.. I could go on; but you get the idea. Hmmm, maybe I am just a tiny bit paranoid.

However, that is not the real purpose of this post. First, I want to speak to Christians. (I also have something for non-Christians—just a bit later).

I charge you, in the sight of God and Christi Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructionsii without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism. [1Timothy 5:21, NIV]iii

OK, Christians. I ask you again, who is watching us? In the second paragraph let’s forget everything after the first four sentences; but then I’d add: God, Christ Jesus, and the elect angels. It seems to me that we don’t hear much about angels anymore. Not even in our churches. (OK. I’m sure there are exceptions to that). But overall, angels are “kinda” ignored. I don’t want to get into a big discussion about angels; but, we do need to realize that God has always relied on angles—quite heavily. And, they will have many assignments during the Tribulation. I also believe we can do nothing on earth that is not noted within the heavenly realm.

Please do not let that scare you! It is a Very Good Thing! It means that our God, who loves us enough to sacrifice His Son for the forgiveness of our sins; and, to restore us as righteous members of His family—for eternity; is always with us—to give us blessings and guidance. I do not see angels as “tattle-tales,” but rather as champions and cheer leaders. Life on earth isn’t easy; and God knows that better than we do. He has promised to provide for all our needs—and He will. Try saying “Hello” to your angel, whenever you think one is near.  Yes, I do believe angels are all around us.

Now, for any readers who are not (or, not yet) Christians. You can trust me when I say, God also knows you. He desires nothing more than for you believe in Him, and His Son, Jesus Christ. God is the creator of the universe and therefore, the only one who can proclaim what is true and what is right (or wrong). “Sin” is not doing what you know to be right, and/or doing what you know to be wrong. Thus, when Adam and Eve in effect told God to take a hike by doing the one thing He had told them not to do, they introduced sin into the world—for everyone who would ever live on planet earth. And the biggest consequence of this sin was that Adam and Eve, instead of living forever in the presence of God, brought death not only to themselves, but to the entire world.

This grieved God so much he came up with a plan for the reconciliation of Mankind—His favorite creation. Here is Holy Scripture written specifically for you, the non-believer, or seeker:

“…God loved the world so much that 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. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. [John 3:16-18. NLT]iv

No man can live a perfect life. Something you have no doubt figured out by now. We have all sinned. Big sin, little sin, …no difference. Sin is sin. God cannot, will not, allow sin into heaven. So, every man or woman must make a decision. There is only one way into Paradise. It is narrow. It is also available to every person living on this planet! Regardless of your past mistakes; regardless of your nationality or race; regardless of being rich or poor; regardless of any other exclusion you can think of.

If you truly want to be saved, to become a Christian, and follow the one true God while living a new life, here is what you must do. You must set your free-will aside and say a very simple prayer to Jesus.

Jesus, I believe you are the Son of the one true God and the Creator of the Universe. I know I am a sinner, and I cannot fix myself. I believe you died on the cross as the only perfect sacrifice for my sins; and, to give me new life. I also believe you arose from the grave three days after your death, proving you are alive and giving me proof of spending eternity in heaven with you. Lord I give my life to you, starting right now. In your name I pray, amen.

Congratulations! You may be assured you are a Christian if you made that prayer in earnest. You are now in a personal relationship with God. I would suggest you find a Christian friend and tell him/her what you have done. Look for a church that follows the Holy Bible. If they teach anything but God’s Word, i.e. rules, qualifications, rituals, etc; you’re in the wrong church. Find another.

Remember, you are still human; and, you still live on a broken planet.  Despite your best efforts you will still sin.  That doesn’t mean you are no longer saved.  God forgives your sins as long as you are on earth.  So talk to Him often.  Thank Him for your salvation, and, don’t allow Satan to call your salvation into question.

Get a Bible, I recommend either the NLT or the NIV translations.i Start by reading Mark, in the New Testament. Follow that up with Chapters 6, 7 and 8, in Romans. And, then you might want to check out where it all started, in the Old Testament, the book of Genesis. Lots and lots of history, presented in stories you’ll find very interesting. The good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s all laid out in Genesis.

God Bless You,

Avery Goodday

A final word. If you consider yourself a non-believer, and that you will never change, I have to tell you that the consequences of your choice are going to be brutal. And, you may never have a chance to change your mind—especially true if your mind is closed. There is a phenomenon called hardening of the heart. If God gives up on you, and there are people He does give up on, He will likely harden your heart.

I beg you to not let that happen. Please. Please, keep an open mind. Ask all the questions you can come up with. No true Christian should give you a hard time, as long as you are genuinely seeking the truth. Keep that door open, even the tiniest crack. I tell you the truth. God can work wonders! It has happened many times before. And, oh, how I pray you will heed this advice. It could give you a new life. One that will last for eternity.

A.G.

_____

iJesus is His name. Christ—meaning, Messiah; or, God’s chosen redeemer for His people—is His title.

iiThe “instructions’ Paul is telling Timothy about are listed previously in the chapter. In fact they make a rather interesting reading list. There is another, similar list in Titus.

iii Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervon publishing House. All rights reserved.

iv Scripture quotations marked [NLT] are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

v   Both of these Bible translations are available as”Life Application Study Bibles.” They are a little more expensive; but, the notes and commentary make them worth every cent.