Grudges

Do you have a grudge? Against someone, something, even against God? Universities don’t have classes on Grudges 101. Politics won’t solve this. It’s another one of those hideous, hellish, often fatal proclivities of human beings worldwide: to be naturally inclined to harbor and hold grudges. A grudge is the opposite of forgiveness and it’s a deadly sin. It’s even more deadly than many since it’s so often accepted and seen to be “just a part of life” by the vast majority of people everywhere.

The exact definition of “grudge” is: “a persistent feeling of ill will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury.” Sound familiar? Well, it’s one of the most persistent, common maladies of our human condition and it’s damaging in the extreme. You can be a kid and have a grudge against your parents. You can have a grudge against anybody and anything: the way you are made, the family you were born into, mistreatment by your boss, your girlfriend, your teacher or God Himself.

Why is it so bad? Almost invariable it can quickly become the main thing in your heart, what so many of your thoughts revolve around and settle back to. The words of your mouth are tinged with hate and bitterness because of that grudge you’ve allowed to spring up in your heart.

“Mark, give us a break! You’re always saying stuff like this, always hard on people! You expect too much, Mark! Look, friend, the world is full of a– h—s. And I’m not going to let anybody treat me like they do. If I don’t do it to them first, they’ll do it to me! That’s just the way things are, Mark. Get a life!”

Is it safe to say that the majority of the world thinks like that? Probably. So what’s wrong with me? Why don’t I just accept that we live in a jungle where it’s “kill or be killed” and reacting to wrongs by accepting a hateful grudge to take over my soul and mind is just how things work in this world. “Get over it!”, like people say nowadays.

If there was no God, no Satan, no afterlife and no Savior, the man Christ Jesus, then that would I suppose be the only choice we have. But it isn’t. There is a God, there is an afterlife, and there is a judgment both in this world and the world to come for our words and deeds. Keep-your-heartAnd there is a Savior, the Man who went about everywhere doing good, Jesus of Nazareth. And one of the most important lessons He and the other men of God have taught us over the centuries was summed up well by King Solomon when he said, “Keep your heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) I wrote a blog article on that verse, “Keep your heart.

Think about it, how many murders are the result of what started out as a grudge? It’s likely the first murder was a result of jealousy and an accompanying grudge. Here’s what the Bible says about Cain killing Abel. “Not as Cain, who was of that evil one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil and his brother’s righteous.” (I John 3:12)

It doesn’t take much sense, if you have an inkling of the Spirit of God, to know that grudges are not the plant that the Lord wants us to let grow in our hearts. This is one of the worst of the “thorns that spring up” that Jesus talked about in Luke 8:7. It’s not just some little thing. It’s not something we can’t control. It’s not something that we need to understand and accept. Grudges bring virtually immediate darkness to your soul and heart. The fruits of the Spirit of God in our lives are “love, joy, peace, longsuffering gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” (Galatians 5:22 & 23) But a grudge slays all of those very quickly.

“But, Mark, let me interrupt you again. Isn’t this just a case of mental health? Our modern world has moved on from these ancient, primative notions of “sin” and “the heart”. Don’t people just need our sympathy as well as mental health care to solve these things?”

No, it’s not a “mental health” issue. Science, in its place, is a great blessing. But when it tries to explain away the fallen nature of man and sanitize sin into something a doctor should treat, it then fulfills the words spoken about the future endtime to come that mankind would be “ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth”. (II Timothy 3:7) Or, more bluntly, Paul said in another place, “because they received not the love of the truth, God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” (II Thessalonians 2:10 & 11) Sadly how prevalent we see this happening more and more in our times as people let science supposedly explain away sin and so many other things that are to be spiritually discenred.

A grudge and bitterness walk hand in hand. Something has happened, someone did something that you don’t understand, that went against you and hurt your life and heart. And if we then don’t desperately pray and throw our will, mind and thoughts onto the side of the Lord, then we’ll not be able to forgive those who’ve wronged us or be able to “Commit your way unto the Lord, trust also in Him.” (Psalm 37:5)

Is there any hope? Like all sin, yes, there is hope. First, you have to recognize it and often that’s not even very easy since it seems to be so justifiable. God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry?” To which Jonah snapped back to God, “I do well to be angry!” (Jonah 4: 4 & 9) So again, it comes back to being able to discern your own heart first. God’s Spirit is always faithful to convict us and bring the conviction that something is wrong inside us, even if it’s true that someone has wronged us, that our reaction is not right and the best.

But if we can recognize and accept the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we go to the next step which is, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)

That’s the process by which we’re delivered from grudges. Confess it and pray strongly to be delivered from the deadly sin of grudges which will, and perhaps already has, snuffed out your spiritual life and brought you to utter darkness, though you are still alive.

Recognize it. Hate it. Resist it. Confess it to God and others if needed. And claim deliverance from this sin which is often unto death. God help us all.

Cardinals in the Winter

I was out for prayer this clear, cold winter morning when I noticed a lone Cardinal singing merrily away in a tree in our back lot. And the thought came to me, “That’s a lot like me and my friends.” It’s a wintery day but that Cardinal is not perturbed. It knows spring is coming, no matter how bleak and forlorn things are now.

Right now this world is in a deep winter. There’s death, sadness and depravity everywhere, almost lifeless. Yes, in the world now, like in our back lot, there’s still a little sprig of green here, an evergreen over there, even some helpless tiny flower can be seen, blooming out of season. But it’s winter. Like Paul said, “The whole creation groans in travail, waiting to be delivered.” (Romans 8) What is the deliverance? Just another spring coming in a few months?

For we who know the Lord and His promises, the true spring will be His return to our world to establish His millennial Kingdom. Then the world will know how it could have been and should have been all along. There will be peace on earth and Godly prosperity unlike anything any of us have hardly ever imagined, “above all we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20), on the shores of eternity.

But for now, it’s like some of us are the cardinals in the winter. We just keep singing and providing the color in this presently lifeless world. Even with the deep red of the passion of God in our hearts, we keep singing and making melody when seemingly there’s not really anything to sing about. But we do it by faith. We know there’s a spring coming, the eternal everlasting spring of the Kingdom of God on earth that the Bible promises is God’s ultimate plan.

If you are a Catholic, “cardinals” will have an additional meaning to you. Some of the top leaders of the Catholic Church are the Cardinals. And they traditionally dress in red. The symbolism? The idea has been that they are of a consecration that they would be willing to be martyrs, and shed their red blood for the cause of Christ, like many of the Christians of the first centuries did.

Well, there are still martyrs today but in many cases for most of us, we have to say with Paul, “I die daily“. (I Corinthians 15:31) In some ways that’s the hardest kind, dying daily to your own will and the cares and pleasures of this life to be what He wants us to be, bringing color and joy to this world and heralding the coming of the King of Glory to bring back this earth to the eternal spring like it had at the beginning of creation.

Every so often the Lord just punches through with thoughts like this when I go out for my morning walks. I used to go to a park and sit on a bench near where my parents’ lived when I was taking care of them in their last years. I wrote about a few of those experiences on my morning walks in “Just  Did It“, “Everything Means Something” or even “Hawks and Doves”, things happening right in front of me that it was like the Lord was explaining to me the symbolism, as it happened.

And this was encouraging this morning, a little picture that fits for many of us. We are presently in winter. Yes, even winter has some beauties and pleasures to it. But it’s not spring. And we, God’s cardinals, are designed to keep singing, keep showing his passionate red against the drab dreariness of the world as it is now. And to keep singing the tunes and sounds of heaven because we are keeping the vision of the soon coming better world, where righteousness will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea, and as the Lord says, “Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain.” (Isaiah 11:9)

Thank God when He gives us little things like this. Paul said, “The invisible things of Him from the beginning of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.” (Romans 1:20) And David said, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows his handiwork. Day unto day it utters speech and night unto night shows knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.” (Psalm 19:1-3) We all need this; we all need to see the meaning that’s so often right there around us.Where there is no vision the people perish”. (Proverbs 29:18) Those dear but few cardinals in our back lot this morning were a picture to me of how I and many others are now singing in spite of the winter of this world, keeping the faith that the ultimate spring of eternity on earth will yet come.

Did Jesus Christ “Confirm the Covenant”?

I generally try to address a wide audience on matters easily understood. But here I’m going to write about something that only a relatively few people are aware of. It has to do with the intricacies of Daniel 9:27 and how that verse has, or has not, already been fulfilled. This is one of the most disputed subjects in the study of Bible prophecy and the future.

First, here’s what that verse says in the King James version of the Bible. “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week. And in the middle of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and offerings to cease. And for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even to the consummation. And that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

If this is new to you and you’re interested in it, I suggest that you view the video I’ve done on this verse and its relationship to what Jesus taught in Matthew 24. That video is “Daniel 9:27 & the Last 7 years”. It’s made for a wider audience, going slower than I will here, giving the background and build-up to the significance of this verse. But here I’ll aim to go rather quickly into greater detail and unraveling of it all. And if you don’t have a background in this, it may be hard to follow.

There’s no doubt that Jesus “confirmed the covenant” but the question here is if this is what Daniel 9:27 is talking about. Paul said, “The covenant which was confirmed before in Christ…” (Galatians 3:17). Jesus is, “…the mediator of the new covenant.” (Hebrews 12:24) Jesus was “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29), “slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). His “blood cleanses us from all sin” (I John 1:9). This future covenant to come was prophesied through Jeremiah (Jer. 31:31-33). There’s no question of whether Jesus fulfilled this prophecy in Jeremiah. And even Jesus’ ministry on earth evidently lasted 3½ years, seemingly corresponding to “the middle of the week”, the middle of 7 years, spoken of in Daniel 9:27.

So certainly there are details which seem to match the work of Christ on earth with what is spoken in Daniel 9:27. The question is, was Christ’s atoning work on earth and the subsequent beginning of the Early Church specifically what Daniel 9:27 refers to? Those who believe it does say that when Daniel 9:27 says “and in the middle of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease”, this refers to Jesus’ death and resurrection which then made unnecessary the ceremonial offerings made by the Jewish priests in the temple in Jerusalem.

But this is the first of several places where focused scrutiny on the verse and then the historical facts brings uncertainty that Daniel 9:27 was specifically referring to Christ on earth. Because there is no Scriptural or historical record of any kind that the temple sacrifices were stopped in Jerusalem after Christ’s Crucifixion and resurrection. There’s no reason not to believe that the Jews continued their temple sacrifices up to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

Another place where neither Scripture nor history gives any backing to Daniel 9:27 being fully fulfilled at the time of the Crucifixion and the Early Church is where the idea is put forward that 3½ years after the Crucifixion was the amount of time before the martyrdom of Stephen in Acts 7. Those who hold to the belief that Daniel 9:27 was finished with the martyrdom of Stephen teach that the period of time from the Crucifixion to Stephen’s martyrdom was the second 3½ years of “the last week”, the 70th week of Daniel 9:27. But there’s just nothing in Scripture about this at all. Or in Early Church teachings. Neither do the Apostolic fathers make this assertion. And those believing Daniel 9:27 was fulfilled in Christ have even greater difficulty trying to explain how Jesus was involved with any “abomination of desolation”, alluded to in Daniel 9:27 and referred to repeatedly elsewhere. Neither did Christ confirm any 7 year (“one week”) covenant. His was an eternal covenant, having nothing to do with any 7 year period.

If Daniel 9:27 has some definite similarities to events which have already passed, but still it has not been truly fulfilled, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time. One of the bigger controversies in Bible prophecy circles from the 1800’s to our times has had to do with Antioch IV Epiphanies, a leader of the Greeks around 165 BC. There were modern bibles for years that explained in their footnotes that the final Antichrist of the endtime, spoken of in Daniel and Revelation, was none other than the Greek tyrant, Antioch IV Epiphanies, who violently persecuted the Jews in Israel at that time.

Antiochus IV Epiphanies ruled for 3½ years, just as numerous places say the final Antichrist will. He even desecrated the Jewish temple in Jerusalem by sacrificing a pig there, seemingly fulfilling the scriptures about the Antichrist placing “the abomination of desolation” (Dan. 11:31) in the temple, after stopping the sacrifices. I made a short video about this man and this subject called “Some Say the Antichrist Has Come”. But as bad as he was, few today still teach that Antiochus IV Epiphanies was the final fulfillment of the many verses about the Antichrist.

But what about Daniel 9:27? Didn’t Jesus confirm the covenant? Well, yes He did confirm the covenant spoken of in Jeremiah, no question about that. Is there any other covenant? Actually, a study of the word “covenant” shows that it appears over 250 times in the Old Testament and many of those times it was not referring to the holy, eternal covenant of God with His people.

In some places it’s used to mean a compact, a confederacy or a league and it has no religious significance. For example, when the Gibeonites came to Joshua, it says, “And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live…” (Joshua 9:15). That word in Hebrew for “made a league” is the same as “covenant” but it is referring to an agreement between individuals, much the same as we see in the affairs of the world in our times.

And this is where it gets interesting when we look at the next major message in Daniel, actually the last revelation he received. This is Daniel 10 through 12 which read as if it was one experience, rather than something that was to be divided into 3 different events or chapters.

One of the most important verses there is Daniel 11:31. This is because it’s almost certainly the one Jesus was referring to in Matthew 24:15 when told His disciples “When you shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, whoso reads, let him understand”. And then the Lord goes on to say in verse 21, “for then shall be great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world, to that time, no, nor ever shall be.

We could go off on a track here with some who say that this event, “the abomination of desolation”, happened with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. But then those who believe this also conclude that Jesus’ Second Coming, to take over the earth, also happened in 70 AD. And few can look at the world we live in today and believe He now rules and reigns on earth.

But where in Daniel was Jesus actually referring to in Mat 24:15? The clearest mention of “the abomination of desolation” in Daniel is found in Daniel 11:31. It says this. “And arms [armaments] shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength. And they shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that makes desolate.” I don’t believe there’s any clearer place in Daniel that Jesus could have been referring to than to this verse, Daniel 11:31.

It follows that Daniel 11:31 is of extreme importance in our understanding of the Lord’s return to earth. But then we find that simply turning to Daniel 11:31 to understand it all is not exactly simple. That’s one reason I’ve done the prophecies of Daniel video series, aiming to open the prophetic Scriptures one chapter at a time as God makes known and builds upon His revealed truth, chapter after chapter. And by the time we get to Daniel 11, the revelation of truth is pretty advanced.

But for relevance to the issue of the question, “Is Daniel 9:27 already fulfilled?”, to me the most important fact to be found in Daniel 11 is that this word “covenant” is used repeatedly in the verses leading up to the verse Jesus pointed us to, Daniel 11:31. There are a recurring referrals, immediately before Daniel 11:31 to “the prince of the covenant” (Dan. 11:22), a “league made with him” (Dan. 11:23), “his heart shall be against the holy covenant” (Dan. 11:28), he shall “have indignation against the holy covenant” (Dan. 11:30), “them that forsake the holy covenant” (Dan. 11:30).

As God continues to build upon the revelation from each proceeding chapter, Daniel 11 and 12 become the climax of those revelations. As we understood better the 4 kingdoms first shown in Daniel 2 when viewing the 4 beasts in Daniel 7, so in Daniel 11 we are given much more information about “the covenant” first mentioned in Daniel 9. And in this case it does seem that the narrative points towards more of some kind of political agreement, with spiritual overtones, as being what is the given picture of the covenant to come.

We only get a glimpse of this in Daniel 9 but there’s much more information in Daniel 11. And when we look to Scripture to get our answers, we basically have to take what is given and to see the picture being shown, rather than let our imagination lead us to our own conclusions. It’s rather like a mosaic as we attempt to piece together the bits of the picture given us.

And it’s worth mentioning here that a primary rule in interpreting Bible prophecy is to, if possible, take the literal fulfillment of the words being spoken as our default choice in anything. True, sometimes there is a spiritual meaning. But going this route without taking the literal fulfillment into account has brought a lot of people into some strange doctrines. I wrote about this in “Spiritualizing Prophecy”.

Most scholars believe Daniel 11:21 begins the narrative of the endtime antichrist, spoken of as “a vile person” there in verse 21. In verse 22 there is spoken of “the prince of the covenant” who is overthrown. Who is that? We hold off on coming to any conclusion as we assemble the pieces being given us. In verse 28 it’s said of this man, “his heart shall be against the holy covenant”. Then twice in verse 30, he “has indignation against the holy covenant” and “he has intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.

What is this all referring to? What does this all mean?! Our hearts throb to understand this better. But rather than going into speculative conjecture, my feeling has been that it’s best to just remember it strongly and let the Lord clarify its full meaning in His time. But these are the verses leading up to the verse Christ specifically pointed us to over 500 years later, Daniel 11:31. I’ll add it here again. “And arms [the Hebrew word here is armaments] shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strengthen, and they shall take away the daily sacrifice and they shall place the abomination that makes desolate.

This series of verses immediately before Daniel 11:31 (which Jesus pointed us to) repeatedly refer to a covenant or league made with the man of sin, the Antichrist. This is a major clincher for me that the covenant spoken of in Daniel 9:27 is further explained and amplified by these verses in Daniel 11. And actually there are even more. In Daniel 11:32 it says, “And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries. But the people who do know their God shall be strong and do exploits.

I’ll admit I don’t know and can’t tell you exactly what this endtime covenant is. But there certainly does seem to be a large number of verses referring to it and the context strongly points towards something other than the eternal covenant that Christ confirmed with His death and resurrection. It reads very much like some kind of treaty or pact with religious overtones, rather than to what is spoken of in Jeremiah 31 or Galatians 3.

Taken out of context, Daniel 9:27 can be made to look like it is connected to the Crucifixion and resurrection of Christ in the first century. But within the context of the chapters before and after Daniel 9, the evidence undermines that view and points towards it being one of many verses picturing an endtime scenario of some kind of Middle Eastern peace/religious pact, followed by renewed sacrifices at a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem.

This article is now about three times as long as my other articles usually are. As mentioned before, most people may not be able or have the interest to follow this discussion to this length. But, equally, more and more people are coming to realize that what’s discussed here may be of primary importance to our understanding of future prophetic events.

I personally continue to hold the view that part of the endtime to come will include some kind of pact, league, covenant or treaty having to do with renewed sacrifices at a rebuilt Jewish temple in Jerusalem. My views are not based solely on Daniel 9:27 but also on the ones shared here in Daniel 11, plus others mentioned in Daniel 8 which I’ve discussed in the video I’ve done on Daniel 8, seen here.

My apologies if this is too long or intricate. But this is, as far as I know, what is necessary to look fully into the prophecies given Daniel on this subject over 2500 years ago, which Jesus Himself pointed to. My hope is that this discourse has been some help to you in knowing the foundations of why some believe than Daniel 9:27 has a future fulfillment in the last days before the coming of Jesus to bring in God’s Kingdom to earth. God bless you and God help us all.

 

Should we forget the past?

Someone just told me I should write about forgetting the past. Should we? Especially the really sad, rough, ungodly things that others did to us? Let’s face it: it’s easier said than done. Of course forgiveness is the key but it may not be the only one. I guess some folks who don’t have the Lord can “forgive and forget” but I’m sure it’s much easier if we have His grace for it all.

You’d think that with the life I’ve had as a missionary, living for decades on foreign fields, working with dedicated Christians, that it must have just been one big bed of roses and strawberry fields forever. Sometimes it was like that. But there also were some shocking, heartbreaking, soul-stumbling events that transpired between Christian brethren that were just unspeakably pitiful and should have never happened. Talk about “deceiving the elect” (Matthew 24:24), sadly the elect of God can be deceived, tripped off and just led about by their carnal reasoning, selfish lusts and desires for dominion over others, except for the intervention of God. And sometimes it seems like that didn’t even help.

Israel of old was mightily blessed by God but ultimately defeated and destroyed by their enemies but not before they had already been defeated from within by their own sins. And so it can still happen just the same to believers in our times. I’ve been a victim of some things like that in the past and, Lord help and forgive me, I may have not done enough to intervene when I saw things that were wrong where I was.

And there’s a question to be asked, “When is the past not the past?” When are the sins and cruelty of the past still affecting us today, especially in our memories that we carry or the things we’ve heard from others that happened? Are we doomed to carry with us these memories, even decades after some event happened?

Well, thank God there is hope. Thank God for Him, for His Son, Jesus and the unspeakably mighty power they have in our lives. For me, the mightiest force in the universe is the Word of God. I’ve experienced its healing and deliverance in situations where the circumstances were utterly hopeless. But the Bible says, “The Lord will deliver me from every evil work.” (II Timothy 4:18) And that’s the truth.

Maybe you were touched, affected, singed and even damaged by some evil work, some atrocity and it even was from some Christian. I’ve had that happen to me, actually a few times. It was wrong, it was mean, it was personal and it was intentional. So what do I do? What did I do?

The first thing was I had to keep my eyes on Jesus, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith“. (Hebrews 12:2) I turned my attention to situations in the Bible where people of God in the past went through similar things. Of course the greatest injustice in history was the crucifixion of Jesus. A righteous and perfect Man condemned to a cruel death.

It’s good to remember that when we are mulling over the horrible things that have happened to us. Or like Joseph in Egypt, sold as a slave by his brothers but he found the grace of God to say to them, “You meant it for evil but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:20)

It’s like King David said in Psalm 77, he went over so many bad things that were happened so that it was nearly killing him. But then he said, “But I will remember the years of the right hand of the most high, I will remember…” (Psalm 77: 10 & 11) Actually he said “I will remember” 3 times in a row in that Psalm. Maybe that’s a key and answer. We have to just not let the horror, atrocities and injustice become our fixation. Because that will insure the final victory of those sins against you, that they will permanently defeat you.

We just can’t allow that. I just couldn’t allow those things to snuff out my life, no matter how bad it was. JobI even thought of the book of Job and how evidently righteous he had been and but then some really almost crazy things happened to virtually destroy him. As it turned out, Job actually did have a few things that the Lord was dealing with. And in my experience, during the very worst times that went on actually for close to 2 years, the Lord was dealing with me about a few things, as well as just breaking me and making me into a better vessel, like it says in Jeremiah 18

But, certainly, there comes a time where we can take to heart what Paul said in Philippines 3:13 and 14, “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth to the things before, I press towards the mark for the price of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Some things that we still don’t understand just have to be wrapped up in a bundle of faith and put away somewhere till the day that it’s explained to us by the Lord.

Ultimately, if we’re to stay alive for the Lord, we have to find and claim healing and forgiveness for whatever happened, whoever sinned against you. This is what I wrote about in “Ghost”.

Rehashing the past, if you feel you just have to, should be done in private with someone strong in the Lord. Otherwise it can easily be an avenue for the enemy to spew out on others all the old horrors you experienced from long ago. Lord help us all, as wounded as many of us are, to cast our cares on Him, to forgive those who’ve sinned against us and to keep our eyes on Jesus and the future He has for us all.

German Video: “Das Buch Daniel, 2. Kapitel”

I’ve been able to complete in German the second video in the Prophecies of Daniel series, Daniel Chapter 2. This chapter is considered by scholars of almost all faiths to be the briefest and most concise overall picture of the history and future of the world in the entire Bible. Daniel chapter 2 is like a foundation on which we can understand the many fulfilled prophecies of the past, as well as see what still is to be fulfilled in times soon to come.

It has often seemed to me that this chapter was intentionally designed by God as an easy first step along the path of prophecy. It’s like a preparation for the more advanced prophecy chapters, such as Daniel chapter 7. That chapter is where we begin to really climb up into the mountains of prophecy. I hope to finish the German version of Daniel 7 sometime in 2018.

The English version of “The Book of Daniel Chapter 2”, can be seen here.

Addictions

I was a drug addict. It was a long time ago and I got delivered but still, it was a major part of my life. And in these times it seems to be more and more a scourge on society worldwide. I just got word now of a friend whose son died last night of an overdose. He’d been in rehab, been incarcerated and had been revived many times. But last night he passed on, after another overdose.

It’s a sad time for his family and loved ones. But also it can be a time of reflection and even for some of us it can underline the militancy and determination we need to have to do what we can to help our fellow human beings.

I don’t know all the details of what happened but I know this young man had a Godly father who loved him and did all he could to try to help him. But this has caused me to reflect on what happened to me because I very easily could have died on drugs and in fact very nearly did. It was near death experiences before I came to Christ which so fundamentally shook me up that ultimately lead me out of atheism and towards the God of Abraham.

What can any of us do? How can we help someone in the grip of addiction, no matter what its form? In some states in America now the morgues are so full of the overdosed dead that they evidently can’t bury them fast enough or find a place to store bodies until they can be buried.

But if there’s anything I can add that can help in any way, it’s to say again that for me personally there was an escape from addiction. Because, at its root is the explanation the Bible gives for the nature of human beings, that we are fallen creatures who are in thrall to sin, in whatever way it has manifested itself in our lives.

(Did you roll your eyes when you read what I said there?) “Sin”, you said, with perhaps a smirk? You have my sympathies because that’s exactly the way I used to feel but actually the joke is on any of us who “make a mock at sin”. (Proverbs 14:9) Here’s a blog post I wrote specifically on “Sin”.

I never got deliverance from my addiction until I finally accepted what the Spirit of truth was hammering into me, that the explanation from the Bible is the most fundamental, elemental account of human existence that there is. So I’m going to take a few thoughts from the Bible that were absolute revelations to me and share them with you. Actually these truths were what reached into the darkest dungeon of my life and brought me out, even before I knew the actually textual verbalization of these truths that existed in God’s Word.

Here’s what Paul said and perhaps you can think of addiction in relation to this. “The good that I would, I do not. But the evil that I would not, that I do.” (Romans 7:19) That’s a short explanation of how sin works in addiction, whatever the form of addiction it may be.

In another place Paul said to Christians, “Sin shall not have dominion over you…”. (Romans 6:14) But, folks, let me tell you from my excruciating experiences and the bottom of my heart: if you don’t have Jesus Christ, sin will definitely have dominion over you. And drug addiction is just one of the clearest manifestations of that. Sin has dominion over you and as James, the Lord’s brother said, “Sin, when it is finished, brings forth death”. (James 1:15)

I’m convinced I was only hours, days or weeks away from death, insanity or prison when I finally was rescued by God. But how? John the beloved disciple said, “If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart and knows all things.” (I John 3:20) I certainly deserved death, insanity or prison. The police were literally at my door to arrest me as a teenager and I would have been two years in prison. Here’s the story of how the Lord rescued me out of that. But, ultimately, God in His love gave me an opportunity to see things as they were and to choose Him and His ways. As Joshua told Israel of old, “Chose this day whom you will serve”. (Joshua 24:15)

I just didn’t personally have the power to stop using psychedelic drugs. I’d make a resolution to stop, I had all the intentions but then a few weeks or months later I’d go back to drugs. Sin had dominion over me. But here’s the Bible verse that best sums up the miraculous deliverance I experienced. Perhaps it’s my favorite verse.

From the first chapter of John, verse 12, it says, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” That’s what happened to me. I received Jesus. I asked Jesus to come into my heart and save me from my sins. And He did. And He gave me that “power” spoken of there, power over sin that had so wrecked my life.

That still is the final solution against sin and addiction, in whatever form it may take. Yes, you may not be able to quit. But God is greater than you and your heart and even your flesh and your addictions. You can’t, but He can. It’s a simple as that. That’s what happened to me as an addict.

Christmas Miracle, 1875 and now

It was Christmas Eve, 1875. Ira D. Sankey, one of the most famous Christian singers of those times, was traveling by steamboat up the Delaware River. It was a calm, starlight evening and there were many passengers gathered on deck. Mr. Sankey was asked to sing. He stood leaning against one of the great funnels of the boat and his eyes were raised to heaven in quiet prayer.

It was his intention to sing a Christmas song but he was driven almost against his will to sing “Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us”. There was a deep stillness. Words and melody, welling forth from the singer’s soul, floated out over the deck and the quiet river. Every heart was touched.

After the song ended, a man with a rough, weather beaten face came up to Mr. Sankey and said, “Did you ever serve in the Union army?” “Yes”, answered Mr. Sankey, “in the spring of 1860.” “Can you remember if you were doing guard duty on a bright, moonlight night in 1862?”   “Yes”, answered Mr. Sankey, very much surprised.

“So did I,” said the stranger, “but I was serving in the Confederate army. When I saw you standing at your post, I said to myself, ‘That fellow will never get away from here alive.’ I raised my musket and took aim. I was standing in the shadow, completely concealed while the full light of the moon was falling upon you.”

“At that instant, just as a moment ago, you raised you eyes to Heaven and began to sing. Music, especially song, has always had a wonderful power over me and I took my finger off the trigger. ‘Let him sing his song to the end,’ I said to myself. ‘I can shoot him afterwards. He’s my victim in all events and my bullet can’t miss him.’ But the song you sang then was the song you sang just now. I heard the words perfectly:

We are Thine, do Thou befriend us,

Be the guardian of our way.

When you had finished your song, it was impossible for me to take aim at you again. I thought, ‘The Lord who is able to save that man from certain death must surely be great and mighty’ and my arm of its own accord dropped limp at my side.

“Since that time I have wandered about, far and wide. But when I just now saw you standing there praying as on that other occasion, I recognized you. Then my heart was wounded by your song. Now I ask you to help me find a cure for my sick soul.” Deeply moved, Mr. Sankey threw his arms about the man who in the days of the war had been his enemy. And that night the stranger found the Good Shepherd as his savior.

Well, Merry Christmas to you. I read this story this morning from “Streams in the Desert”, one of the books I read for my daily devotions. It really got through to me as not only a beautiful story but another striking miracle from the God of miracles and His Son, Jesus.

I guess I’m a person of my times and easily jaded by hype and razzle-dazzle. And I’ve heard the Christmas story so many times and seen it presented so many ways that I’m probably cloyed by it all, as probably many are. But this that I read just now, of an outstanding miracle happening at Christmas to two men, one of whom who went on to reach many thousands with his voice and music, was the jolt I needed to remind me again of the God of miracles.

Miracles have been a mainstay of my life in many ways. I’ve written about some of them and they continue to fascinate me. In this day of cynicism, postmodernism and demonic darkness, the good God is still doing miracles as much as ever, perhaps even increasing them.

So thank God for Christmas, a day in the year when we earthlings are almost forced and dragged, kicking and screaming, to remember the birth of, not only the greatest man that ever lived, but the eternal Son of God come down to earth as a poor helpless baby. Parents have to, often reluctantly, explain to their curious children what Christmas is all about. And in some fumbling way they’re almost forced to try to give a decent reason to their own kids why the whole world stops to remember the birth of a baby in Palestine two thousand years ago.

But that wasn’t God’s last miracle. Jesus’ life was more full of miracles by far than any other man that ever lived. And God is still doing miracles, at the time of Jesus, at the time of Ira Sankey and the Civil War and in our times as well. This is what I needed to hear today, not just something that happened 2000 years ago but that the miracle-working power of those times is just as alive today as it was then. That’s been my experience over and over, thank God, of a caring, loving Savior and Father, a “very present help in the time of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

I hope you have a great Christmas and that we all keep in mind that it’s all still as real as it was in Bethlehem way back then. God’s not dead or even sick. He loves us and will protect and provide for us just as he did for dear Ira Sankey on Christmas Eve in 1875. God bless you, Merry Christmas.

I believe in Truth

A lot of people today are so skeptical that they hardly believe anything is true. To me that’s pitiful. Maybe it’s because I grew up around newspapers and worked for two years in the newsroom of a large daily newspaper here in Texas that I just feel, for the most part, all the news is not staged and false, as so many (even Christians) now believe.

I believe in truth. I’m pretty sure I always have. In my university years I didn’t believe in God or Jesus because I just didn’t believe they were the truth. I very surprisingly found out I was wrong.

Jesus said, “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (John 18:37) It is written of the final world dictator to come, the “Antichrist”, that he will “cast down the truth to the ground.” (Daniel 8:12) In a very real sense right now in the world, there’s an onslaught against every vestige of the presence and Spirit of God.

Truth is under attack so much that I think most folks have really no idea what to believe. Love, both God’s love and even natural and beautiful human love are also under attack. The Bible talks about “the author of confusion” (I Corinthians 14:33) and that’s what we seem to have more and more. The author of confusion and lies, Satan himself, is rolling out ever evil machination and foolish falsehood imaginable.

And, believe it or not, the Bible seems to indicate that in the End Time this will be happening. In Revelation 12:15, speaking of the very last days, it says “the serpent” released a stream of water out of his mouth. This “water” from the serpent is the putrid, stench-filled essences of Satanic falsehood unleashed on the world.This is the symbolic opposite of the pure living waters of truth that Jesus said would flow out of the belly of believers in Him (John 7:38).

But then what does the Bible say will happen? This is hard to believe. Revelation 12:16 goes on to say “the earth” opened her mouth and drank the waters of the dragon. And isn’t that what’s happening now already? So, so many are only too ready to gulp down the latest filthy, enticing falsehood, the latest dirt and exposé of someone, the latest unfounded conspiracy theory. It gets to where everyone just reverts to their shell and has become fatally numbed to the world around them, “deer in the headlights”, stunned into stupor and unable to any longer even discern truth from a lie.

Talk about zombies. The Bible has a phrase for it, “Because they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.” (Romans 1:28) “A reprobate mind.” A mind no longer able to discern truth from falsehood, good from bad, right from wrong. And, folks, this is not coming; this is not what may happen. We. Are. There.

“Mark, what’s the solution?! This is so discouraging, Mark!”

It’s like what Jesus said in the book of Revelation to one of the mostly fallen churches at the time of the writing of that book, around 90 AD. To some of them He said, “You have a name, you live and are dead.” (Revelation 3:1) Christians, the saved, but who were so far fallen from the living presence of the Lord that He called them both alive and dead. To these ones He said, “Strengthen the things that remain.” (Revelation 3:2)

This may be radical and extreme for some of my fellow Americans but maybe it’s worth saying here: I’m not trying to save my country. And I don’t know how apt the comparison is but I don’t think Jesus, when He was here on this earth, was trying to save His country. He knew what was to come, that in the lifetime of many of those who saw and heard Him would come another mighty judgment on Israel, greater than that brought by Babylon 600 years before.

Forty years after Jesus’ crucifixion, in 70 AD, the Romans basically destroyed Israel. And Jesus, in His divine omniscience, knew while He was on earth that this judgment was to come and spoke of it. So He spent His energy in trying to win and save individuals to Himself and to bring a new heart and new soul to His lost countrymen.

For me, that’s the only battle worth fighting. For individuals. How? By sharing, pouring out and witnessing to as many as I can and as many as I can help others to witness to. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice.” (John 10:27) And His voice is the voice of truth. He even said that he was “the truth”. (John 14:6)

So many are “multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision.(Joel 3:14) For those of us who know the Lord, God help us to be like beacons and transmitters in the gross darkness of these times, pulsing out the light, truth, love and sincerity that we have from Him, out into the teeming masses in the mists of this earth, to draw those seeking truth and the things of God, to be the Light to the World He has called each of us to be. “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me and he that comes to Me I will in no wise caste out.” (John 6:37)

Turkish Video: “Daniel Kitabı Bölüm 2”

I’ve been able to complete in Turkish the second video in the Prophecies of Daniel series, Daniel Chapter 2. This chapter is considered by scholars of almost all faiths to be the briefest and most concise overall picture of the history and future of the world in the entire Bible. Daniel chapter 2 is like a foundation on which we can understand the many fulfilled prophecies of the past, as well as see what still is to be fulfilled in times soon to come.

It has often seemed to me that this chapter was intentionally designed by God as an easy first step along the path of prophecy. It’s like a preparation for the more advanced prophecy chapters, such as Daniel chapter 7. That chapter is where we will begin to really climb up into the mountains of prophecy. I hope to finish the Turkish version of Daniel 7 sometime in 2018.

The English version of “The Book of Daniel Chapter 2”, can be seen here.

Redeeming the time because the days are evil

What does the Bible mean, “Redeeming the time because the days are evil”? (Ephesians 5:16)  Actually there are so many deep truths in the Bible, often wrapped up in just a few brief words. This here is one of the really good examples of this.

It’s not even exclusively a Christian truth or teaching. You can be an atheist and still believe in the basics of diligence and making the most of your time. But when this thought is brought into a Christian context, as an injunction for Christian living, it takes on so much more meaning. Jesus said to His disciples, “I must work the works of Him that sent me while it is day. The night comes when no many can work.” (John 9:4)

One of the Devil’s greatest wiles is “Wait a while.” If the devil can’t defeat you any other way, he tries to get you to procrastinate and get busy with a little here and there. There’s even an obscure verse in the Old Testament that says just that. Someone was commanded to watch a prisoner but he escaped and the excuse was given, “While I was busy with a little here and there the man was gone.” (I Kings 20:40)

Oh, pitifully, sadly, how many of us may have to say the same to the Lord at the Judgment seat of Christ. We were “busy with a little here and there.” We didn’t redeem the time. Perhaps the most precious thing any one of us has, besides our souls, is our time. This was such an indelibly etched lesson on my soul during the times where I had life after death experiences which sadly were basically on the dark side. I had a foretaste of hell and one of the greatest impression was the time I’d wasted and frittered away, never to be recovered. I believe that was a foretaste of eternal hell and separation from God and the agony that can be felt of a wasted life, squandered in vanity.

The Lord so clearly commands us to “lay up treasure in heaven”. (Matthew 6:19) The Bible says, “He that sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly and he that sow bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” Yes, that doesn’t mean you have to be out passing out tracts on the streets or you’re not in God’s highest and best. But I think if we’re all honest, there are a lot of things that are pretty much worldly, mundane tasks that will flow into our lives like some infectious weeds on a lake so that nothing grows or even swims there anymore because of the weeds.

Jesus spoke of the seed sown on thorny ground that was chocked by “the cares and pleasures and riches of this life and brings no fruit to perfection.” (Luke 8:14) For so many, any thought of “redeeming the time” to “seek first His kingdom” gets further and further down their list every day. This is what I wrote about in “They Began to Make Excuse.” But it’s just not how things are suppose to be.

I guess it can come down to a lack of vision. “Where there is no vision the people perish”, (Proverbs 29:18) and I think for so many, this is what happens. They don’t even begin to redeem the time because they have lost the vision of the Lord’s commandments and teaching and His call on their lives.

It just all goes together, doesn’t it? I’ve written about so many aspects of this and they all tie together. I wrote about “Keep Your Heart with all Diligence”. I wrote about “The  Heavenly Vision” and this is also part of it, “redeeming the time”. If we keep these things, they’re some of the key components in staying alive spiritually and pulsating for Him. We are to be “not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11)

But of course for Christians this isn’t just a matter of constant, feverish physical work. Redeeming the time can mean “continuing instant in prayer” (Romans 12:12).Redeeming-the-time It’s a manifestation of a God-given inner awakeness that is engendered by the Spirit of God, a godly urgency to make the most of the precious life we have and the moment in eternity we have in the world to live for him and bring others to Him.

There’s more than enough for us to do in  this world, harvests to reap, seeds to sow, sheep to feed, prayers to pray, friends who need love, to keep us alive and busy in Godly service for Him and others till He returns or we pass on to our reward. It’s imperative that we “redeem the time” and not be caught like the unwise virgins at the return of the bridegroom, our lights gone out and we be found wanting for lack of our love for Him and our vision of His calling and will.