THE GREAT TRIBULATION

Matt.24:4-8 – And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.”

Back in the 1970’s during the Jesus movement and the charismatic renewal topics relating to the last days seemed to just hang in the air. Everyone was talking about the rapture, the great tribulation, the antichrist, the mark of the beast, and the restoration of the temple in Jerusalem. Today, that topic has fallen off of everyone’s radar. Today, you are more likely to hear a message on how to be a better you or some sort of motivational message. It’s funny how much modern culture seems to control the message from the pulpits in our nation.

The Great Tribulation is something clearly taught in the ministry of Jesus and the Apostle Paul. Jesus described these last days in great detail in one of His last messages the week He was crucified. He predicted the destruction of Jerusalem as well as the season of the church He called the age of the gentiles. He also spoke of a temple being present in the last generation and it being desecrated by the antichrist. His words lead us to the conclusion that Israel would clearly be involved in the events of the last days. Here are some thoughts from the Fire Bible on the Great Tribulation.

“Jesus speaks about unique signs that will occur during the end-time period. This is the time often called the “tribulation” —the phrase in Greek is the same. The signs that occur will be warnings that the end of this present age is very near. These signs will lead up to and signal Christ’s physical return to earth after the tribulation. At Christ’s return, he will destroy the forces of the antichrist and evil, and he will establish an earthly reign of peace for the last thousand years of time as we know it.”

So why does it matter what we believe about the last days? The Bible teaches us to live ready for Christ’s return. If all we think about is our life here on earth we may have to check our priorities. Focusing on the last days seems to help me sort out what really matters in life.

RAPTURE TALK

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS-

“Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. All these are the beginning of sorrows”

Matt. 24:3

Frank and I grew up as young Christians thinking about the rapture. In the Jesus Movement, songs were sung and Christians witnessed with such expectancy that Christ would return at any moment. At our Bible school in California, the students would gather to debate if they believed in a post or pre-tribulation rapture. When we came to New Orleans to start our church, we showed the movies, “THE THIEF IN THE NIGHT” and “THE DISTANT THUNDER” which terrified us all and many received the Lord through this. Even at my wedding, I walked down the aisle to all of us singing “I Wish We’d All Been Ready”. The song went like this:

“A man and wife asleep in bed

She hears a noise and turns her head he’s gone

I wish we’d all been ready

Two men walking up a hill

One disappears and one’s left standing still

I wish we’d all been ready”

Larry Norman

Last Thursday Frank and I had yet another rapture conversation. What if Christ came, what if the tribulation clock has been started with the eclipse, the three hurricanes back to back, the earthquakes and the world gone upside down with hate, nuclear bombs threats and rioting. We know his day draws near and where will you be when you see him face to face? Did I do all that I could within my power? Has my light grown dim? Have I backed off the gospel to become more pleasing to the world? We feel deeply that there will be a ingathering of more souls. Robert Murray McCheyne said, “Close upon the back of a judgment period, the Holy Spirit descends upon a whole community as “a rushing mighty wind” (Act 2:2), like “floods upon the dry ground” (Isa 44:3), or “like rain upon the mown grass” (Psa 72:6). The great heart of society begins to heave and palpitate as the heart of one man—and myriads of careless sinners are arrested, alarmed, filled with anxiety about salvation, and turned simultaneously to look on Him Whom they have pierced, and mourn those sins that pierced Him and brought Him to “those sins that pierced Him and brought Him to the dust of death.”

“The father spoke, the demons dined

How could you have been so blind?

There’s no time to change your mind

The son has come and you’ve been left behind”

Norman

DAYS OF NOAH

Matt. 24:37-39 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

It paints quite a picture when Jesus speaks about the days of Noah. I think He was talking about more than just a flood. Parris and I actually live on the Boque Falaya River north of New Orleans. Last weekend there was another one of those thousand year floods, you know the ones that come about every ten years. Unfortunately this one flooded our house. At the end of the day water in your house is not a big deal. What is a big deal is being unprepared for the soon return of the Son of Man. That was what Jesus was talking about, people living an ungodly life, blind to the approaching judgement that is coming on the world. The signs of His return are all around us. Noah’s generation didn’t listen to Noah’s warnings. The consequences were enormous. The Fire Bible talks about the signs of the times we live in by looking at the immoral condition of society. Check it out.
“An unbelievable increase in immoral behavior, shamelessness and rebellion against God will characterize the last days. Many people will turn against all moral guidelines, resulting in even more ungodly sexual practices, immorality, adultery, pornography, drugs, ungodly music and lustful entertainment. It will be “as it was in the days of Noah” , when the thoughts and desires of human hearts were evil continually. It will be as “in the days of Lot” , when homosexuality, lesbianism and all kinds of unholy sexual relations filled all levels of society. Jesus goes on to explain that true love will be rare.”
It seems as if the moral condition of our world has deteriorated at an increasing velocity over the last few years. Things which were unspeakable and unthinkable are actually part of our world today. The scary part is that our leading officials have embraced these immoral lifestyles and made them actually a part of our society. Our schools have lost their moorings, teaching as normal the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Lord will return and His rewards and His justice will follow. Why does He delay His coming? He is waiting for you and many others to make themselves ready for that day.

IS JESUS COMING SOON?

Matt. 24:44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Jesus is coming soon! That was one of the often repeated phrases in the Jesus movement in the 1970’s. I remembering being bummed out because I really believed Christ would return before I finished Bible College and I wouldn’t get “my chance”. In the fall of 1973 Israel retook Jerusalem and the nations of the world were engaged in “saber rattling”. One of my Bible professors had me convinced the Russian army would surround Jerusalem before morning. If you are familiar with Bible prophecy, visions of Ezekiel’s Valley of Dry Bones and Armageddon come to mind. Many years have passed since 1973 and Christ hasn’t returned. The thing that troubles me most is that a large part of the church has lost the sense of the immanency of His return. To talk about the rapture, the antichrist, and the great tribulation is not on the top ten list on today’s famous Christian sermons. We have become more used to to sermons that say “You are One Step from Your Destiny” or “Get ready for Your Miracle Breakthrough”. Few sermons about intimacy with God and being prepared for His coming.

All the while signs of His coming are everywhere. Creation itself is pregnant with evidence of His soon return. Just this week my wife and I have been watching what is known as the Bethlehem Star. Actually, it is the alignment of Jupiter and Venus in the western sky, something that happens every few years but hasn’t had such a near encounter since about 3 BC. Thus the name Bethlehem Star, possibly the star the wise men were following. Could this extreme version of this phenomenon be announcing His soon return or is it just another reminder that we need to be ready?

Culture itself is also in transition. The changes in our society are applauded by some but to those who know their Bibles, they recognize the ominous signs spoken of by Christ.

“Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all—so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”

The recent decision to reinvent the definition of marriage by the Supreme Court caused me to shutter in fear as I remember the warning of the Lord. Jesus also said when you see these things coming to pass, “Look up, your redemption is drawing near”.

NEW WAVE OF PERSECUTION AGAINST CHRISTIANS

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NEW WAVE OF PERSECUTION AGAINST CHRISTIANS

Matt. 24:9-10 ¶ “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.

Make no mistake about it, there is a new wave of persecution of Christians in our world today. In Syria, there are reports of burning historic churches and beheading average Christians. In Pakistan, there was the bombing of an ancient church this weekend with a death toll in the seventies. In Egypt, over eighty churches have been burned in the last several months. In Iran, pastors have been sought out , arrested and imprisoned for many years. In Nigeria, many reports of kidnapping of Christian girls to be raised in the homes of Muslim leaders and being forced to renounce their faith. In Kenya, Christians were targeted in the mall uprising, that death toll is still being tallied up. If we think these things are unrelated we are just fooling ourselves. Christianity is under attack because the end is drawing near. Here is an excerpt from a recent news article by Raymond Ibrahim.

“Teachers who teach western education? We will kill them! We will kill them in front of their students, and tell the students to henceforth study the Quran.” — Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram, which has slaughtered Christian teachers and students, but has not been designated a terrorist group.

On July 4th, the day after the Egyptian military liberated its nation from Muslim Brotherhood rule, Christian Copts were immediately scapegoated and targeted. All Islamist leaders—from Brotherhood supreme leader Muhammad Badi, to Egyptian-born al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri, to top Sunni cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi—made a point to single out Egypt’s Copts as especially instrumental in the ousting of former Islamist president Morsi, a claim that ushered in a month of slaughter against the nation’s Christian minority.”

Among other events in July, unprecedented numbers of Christian churches were attacked, plundered, desecrated, and torched. According to one Egyptian human rights lawyer, “82 churches, many of which were from the 5th century, were attacked by pro-Morsi supporters in just two days.” Al-Qaeda’s flag was raised above some churches; anti-Christian graffiti littered the sides of other churches and Coptic homes. Due to extreme anti-Christian sentiment, many churches ceased holding worship services until recently. Dozens of Coptic homes and businesses were also attacked, looted and torched.”

The point of this blog is to awaken Christians to the world we live in. We cannot pretend like everything is fine, its not. Of course I understand that The Lord has everything covered, but who will He use to fulfill His purposes in these days? Can He use you? Are you available to pray? Are you available to share His love with the lost? As our world gets darker, the truth of the gospel shines even brighter. What a contrast between the hostility in the world to the love displayed to the world through Christ. Let His love deepen in you, let His light shine through you.

WHAT A CRAZY WORLD

WHAT A CRAZY WORLD

Matt. 24:8-9 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. ¶ “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.

Jesus told us these kinds of things would happen, still, when they do, it still catches us all by surprise. In today’s verse alone, The Lord spoke about being delivered up to tribulation, this is a description of circumstances perpetrated by humans that put us under extreme pressure. Today, we would call this terrorism. He went on to speak about persecution and even martyrdom. Later in the same passage He spoke about the destruction of the jewish temple, the very center piece of the jewish world. We live in a world where these words are being fulfilled on a daily basis.
Just this week we have seen terrorism in the nations begin to aim its fury at the international Christian community. I have heard of three of these kinds of events in the last week. First, in Syria, some of the rebel forces are manned by Muslim extremists. They have been reported as burning ancient churches in the villages in rural Syria as well as beheading some of the Christians. These Christian communities have been in place since the days of the Apostle Paul, the fury of the antichrist spirit is fueling this jihadist hatred. The second occurrence happened in Pakistan just this weekend. A church was bombed by Muslim extremists killing approximately 70 worshippers. Their hatred for Christ is reminiscent of the persecutions in the first century. Finally, there was the attack by Muslim extremists in Kenya. In this case they took over a mall and begin to question people about the Muslim faith. If they proved to be Muslim they were released, if not, they were shot. This event is still unfolding at this writing, at least 62 have been killed. The population of Kenya is about 80% Christian. You do the math, this was a blatant attack on Christians and ultimately upon Christ Himself. It is shocking to see this vicious hatred being aimed directly at Christianity, I guess we should not be surprised.
I also read an article in the New York Times this weekend. It seems that there has been an upsurge of interest among the Israelis to visit the site of the ancient Temple Mount. The only problem with this is that a mosque is there, the Dome of the Rock. This has caused an out break of violence at the Temple Mount, the muslims are offended at the jews coming to this mosque, the jews are offended that a mosque is on this sacred ground.
With all of that being said, how does this effect me? The most important thing is this, do not be lulled to sleep. We are living in a rapidly shrinking world and these problems that seem so far off and irrelevant can come suddenly pounding on our doors. Now is the time to shake ourselves from our sleep, stir our faith by praying in the Holy Spirit. Jesus is coming, I want to live like I believe it.

HURRICATION

HURRICATION

Matt. 24:37-39 “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.”

Never heard of hurrication. It’s my own word. Kind of a combination of evacuation, hurricane, and vacation. For some people, Isaac is all about the hurrication. From the first spaghetti models they had that gleam in their eye, “What are you gonna do for the storm?” At 4 am this morning I got up to watch the latest updates for Isaac. The news people were out and about, this particular report came from Bucktown. They were interviewing people about their impressions of the storm (anyone outside in Bucktown at 4 am is up to no good). Three young people were interviewed who had obviously been drinking all night. It was live television. Let’s just say their language was hot and spicy. For them, it was all about the hurrication.
Then there was the traffic jam on Monday afternoon. Again, more interviews from the media from people stopped along the way. This looked more like a tailgate party at Tiger Stadium on a Saturday night, hurrication in full display.
Today’s scripture verse is describing the feeling in the culture at the time of the return of Christ. Jesus compared it to those who perished in Noah’s storm, they partied until the flood waters took them away. Jesus said that would be the climate at the end of the age when He returns. Just like the days of Noah, the vast majority of people are not aware of the coming judgement and the implications of being away from the Lord. The results were catastrophic at the flood and will be catastrophic when the Lord returns.
Maybe these hurricanes are just reminders of what really matters in life. Houses can be rebuilt, bridges can be restored, lost personal items can be replaced. The one thing we cannot afford to lose is our soul. What advantage is it for someone to have all the possessions in the world and lose his soul. If you haven’t figured it out yet, our life is not about week ends, football, or vacations. Our life is about knowing Him. Maybe Isaac; like Katrina, Rita, and Gustav before; is about gaining our attention. Could it be that the Lord is saying, “Hey, remember Me! Remember My Son and His love for you? Remember what is important in this life. Return to your first love”.
So today, when you’ve got some extra time on your hands, look to the Lord. Open up your Bible and listen for His voice. Maybe this was not about a couple of days off to just sit in front of the television, maybe the Lord has something else in mind. I’ve heard He likes to walk on water in the midst of a storm.

GOD’S UNUSUAL MEASURES IN THE LAST DAYS

GOD’S UNUSUAL MEASURES IN THE LAST DAYS

Matt.24:22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.

We live in most unusual times. There is almost a constant display of prophetic signs of the end of time all around us. It seems as if we go from a season of international catastrophe, to climatic chaos, and then domestic political upheaval to alarming displays of terrorism. As the “great and terrible day of the Lord” draws near, things will continue to intensify. If we look at history, we can gain some encouraging signals for God’s people. There is always a display of His power and glory toward His own in these kinds of times. I think of the love He showed toward Daniel in Babylon, for Joseph in Egypt, and for the nation of Israel numerous times throughout history. He is a sovereign God and will orchestrate all things for the sake of His elect. Here is what Jonathan Edwards had to say about this.

“Hence we may learn how happy a society the church of Christ is. For all this great work is for them. Christ undertook it for their sakes, and for their sakes he carries it on; it is because he has loved them with an everlasting love. For their sakes he overturns states and kingdoms. For their sakes he shakes heaven and earth. He gives men for them, and people for their life. Since they have been precious in God’s sight, they have been honorable; and therefore he first gives the blood of his own Son, and then gives the blood of all their enemies, many thousands and millions, all nations that stand in their way, as a sacrifice to their good.”

What can separate us from the power of His love. As Paul said, Rom. 8:35-39 “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,
‘FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG;
WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.’ But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
We are safe in the hand of the Lord. As the world gets crazier, it will become as if we are spectators watching the events unfold all around us. Famines, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, political mayhem, riots, robbers, terrorists, all of them fall miserably short against our awesome God. Just as young David faced the giant, we may face all sorts of giants, far beyond our able to deal with. The good news is, like David said, the battle is not ours, the battle is the Lord’s. I have a feeling He will sort everything out and it will ultimately be for our good.

IS THE RAPTURE MAY 21?

IS THE RAPTURE MAY 21?

And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Matt.24:11-14

People have been making predictions about the return of Christ since the time of Christ. Paul wrote his letters to the church in Thessalonica to correct one of these predictions. Some of the believers in Thesalonica had believed Christ had already returned and others had left their daily lives to go out of town to wait on a mountain for the Lord’s return. Paul wrote his letter to correct them about their thoughts about the coming of Christ. He said that we could be ready for that day and it should not catch true Christians “like a thief in the night”.
Charles Taze Russell, the founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, believed Christ returned spiritually in the 1800’s, and the end of the age would be 1914. He proved to be a false prophet. In the 1970’s, David Moses, the founder of the “Children of God” set a date predicting the destruction of America, most of his followers left the country until the date passed (we were actually glad to get rid of them). May 21 will undoubtably prove to be another false prediction, but that should not cause us to fall into a spiritual sleep. These false predictions themselves are an actual sign of the end of times.
The signs of the nearness of the end of the age and the coming of Christ are all around us, but know one can know the day of His return. The surprise element not only keeps us guessing, but is intended to keep us ready. If the end of the world, as we know it, is upon us, how should it effect our behavior? It is kind of like getting ready for your wedding, but not knowing exactly when the date will be. There is a joyful anticipation as the longed for date draws near, the excitement deepens as you make final preparations. What kind of preparations need to be made? Most importantly, we must prepare our hearts. Our God is a jealous God and He will not share our affection with anyone else. He wants to be our first love, friendship with the world is considered adultery and disqualifies us from our relationship with Christ. Make improving your relationship with Christ a priority in your life, that is the only way we can be prepared for that great and terrible day.

ANOTHER LOOK AT THE END OF TIME

ANOTHER LOOK AT THE LAST DAYS

“For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.”
Matt.24:5-8

These are some of the words of the incredible prophesy Jesus made about the end of time just before his death. Prophesy is quite penetrating and can easily be misunderstood. No one listening to this prophetic word at the temple mount that day would think that so many years would go by before His words would be fulfilled. Recently, David Wilkerson went to be with the Lord. He had given a prophesy in his book “The Vision” in 1973. It incorporated many topics but this one takes on new meaning in light of the recent events in Japan and the prophetic climate that seems to fill the air.

“The United States is going to experience in the not-too-distant future the most tragic earthquakes in its history. One day soon this nation will be reeling under the impact of the biggest news story of modern times. It will be coverage of the biggest most disastrous earthquake in history. It will cause widespread panic and fear, Without a doubt, it will become one of the most completely reported earthquakes ever. Television networks will suspend all programming and carry all day coverage. Another earthquake,
possibly in Japan may precede the one that I see coming here. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind about this forthcoming massive earthquake in our continent.”

When we hear words like this how should we deal with them? Prophesy is given as a sign to us about the importance and nearness of the kingdom of God. If these words are true, how should they impact our lives? It should cause us to draw near to God, turn away from sin or compromise in our lives, and cause us to reach out to those in our world who are not walking with the Lord. I have never been one to be focused on prophesy or last day timelines. I do not know if Christ’s return is at hand or many years away, but in light of the changes in our world, I think it is wise to prepare ourselves to meet the Lord.