Saint Francis and the wolf

francis-and-wolfI enjoy reading about the history of faith, especially the spread of Christian faith over the last 2000 years. A spiritual awakening, starting in an obscure area of the Roman Empire, led by a young Jewish provincial preacher and healer, has turned into one of the largest religions in the world and lasted till now. Who were the ones who took up the torch (often becoming torches themselves ultimately) to carry the faith further and further “into all the world” (Mark 16:15), as Jesus commanded His disciples to go?

A name that still resonates in some places till this day is that of Francis of Assisi (1181-1226). Some say he had a similar degree of impact on his nation and his times as did Martin Luther three hundred years later, the famous German reformer who’s considered the father of the Protestant Reformation.

Who were these guys? What did they do? What kind of people were they? Schemers? Political masterminds out to lead radical social change? Charlatans, fakes, phonies, deceivers?

I just read a story from a book called “The Little Flowers of Saint Francis”, a collection of short stories of events in the life of St. Francis. This one struck me as the amazing kind of thing you can read about in the lives of great “saints”, godly men and women of any age who totally gave themselves over to the love and will of God.

For many, this will just be unbelievable. Surely this couldn’t have happened. “Surely, Mark, you don’t mean to tell us you believe this?” The problem with doubting this is that I’ve found, in the study of people of faith, miracles like this seem to have been recorded over and over again through the centuries. Jesus told His disciples, “He that believes on me, the works that I do, shall he do also. And greater works than these shall he do, because I go to My Father.” (John 14:12) Greater works than Jesus did when He was on earth would be done by His followers in the centuries to come. Here’s one of them. I hope you can believe it.

(As taken from “The Little Flowers of Saint Francis”)

In the days when St. Francis lived in the city of Gubbio, a huge wolf, terrible  and fierce, appeared in the neighborhood, and not only devoured animals but men also in such a way that all the citizens went in great fear of their lives because often the wolf came close to the city. When the people went out of the city, all the men armed themselves as if they were going to battle and even so, none who encountered the wolf when they were alone could defend themselves. Finally it got to where no man went outside the walls of the city for fear of the wolf.

St. Francis had great compassion on the people of that city and he made plans to go out to the wolf. But all the citizens unitedly advised him not to do this. But St. Francis, making the sign of the cross and putting all his trust in God, went out from the city with his companions.

Then, because St. Francis’s companions feared to go further, St. Francis went on alone towards the place where the wolf was. And, in the sight of many people who had followed behind to see what would happen, the wolf appeared and came menacingly towards Francis with his jaws open.

StFrancis faces the wolfSt. Francis, moving towards the wolf, made before him the sign of the cross and said to the wolf, “Come here, brother wolf. I command you in the name of Christ that you do not hurt me or any man.”

Marvelously, no sooner had Francis made the sign of the cross than the wolf closed his jaws and stopped in his tracks. Immediately as Francis had given the order to the wolf, he became gentle as a lamb and laid himself at the feet of Francis.

Francis then said to him, “Brother wolf, you’ve worked much evil in these parts, destroying God’s creatures. You’ve not only destroyed the beasts of the field but you’ve dared to kill men, made in the image of God. All people cry out against you and all this city is at enmity with you. But brother wolf, I would make peace between you and them so that you injure them no more and that the people of the city will pursue you no more.”

When Francis had spoken, the wolf moved his body, his tail and ears, bowing his head and made signs that he accepted what had been said and would agree. Then Francis said to the wolf, “Since it is acceptable to observe this peace, I promise to obtain for you as long as you live a continual sustenance from the men of the city so that you will not hunger. But after I obtain this commitment from the people of the city, I want you to promise me you will hurt neither man or beast. Do you promise me this?” The wolf bowed his head and gave a clear sign that he promised.francis-and-wolf

Francis said to the wolf, “I want you to make a pledge of faith that you will keep this promise.”  And when Francis held forth his hand, the wolf lifted up his paw and gentle laid it in the hand of Francis, giving him as good a sign and pledge as he could.

Francis then said to the wolf, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come with me, don’t fear,” and they went off towards Gubbio to confirm the new peace between the wolf and the people. The wolf went by the side of Francis towards the city, like a pet lamb.Francis_leads_wolf

When the people of the city saw what had happened and Francis and the wolf coming towards the city, they marveled greatly and very quickly the word spread as to what was happening. Soon almost the whole city had flocked to the marketplace to see the wolf with St. Francis.

Francis then preached to the people of the city, as he often did from place to place. Afterwards he said to the people, “You see here brother wolf, who has promised and pledged to me to not harm or destroy you anymore if you will promise to provide him daily sustenance. I stand as a witness between you and him that he will observe this agreement.” And the people all agreed to the agreement and that they would provide food for the wolf.

Then Francis, in front of all the people of the city, said to the wolf, “Do you, brother wolf, promise to observe these conditions before all these people and hurt neither man nor beast?” And the wolf knelt down and bowed his head and with gentle movements of tail and body and ears, showed by all possible signs that he would observe the agreement of peace. Francis said to the wolf, “I want, brother wolf, that in the same way you did show your pledge of faith outside the city walls, that before all the people you will renew that pledge and never make me, your bondsman, to be found false.”

Then the wolf, lifting up his paw, did place it in the hand of St. Francis. And with that act there was such a marvel and rejoicing among all the people – not only because of the strangeness of the miracle but because of the peace made with the wolf – that they began to cry aloud to God and to praise and bless Him who had sent St. Francis to them.

wolf in cityAnd the wolf lived two years in Gubbio and would enter like a tame creature into the houses, doing hurt to no one and no one doing hurt to him. He was kindly fed by the people and went about the city without even a dog barking at him. After two years the wolf died of old age and the people mourned because, when they had seen the wolf going about the city they remembered the miracles and words of St. Francis.

 

“Myth! Fable! Legend! Allegory!” or so many would say. But for those with faith in God and especially those who’ve seen His hand work in their lives, this is yet another, admittedly strange and wonderful  testimony of God’s ability to do greater things than even were done in the days of the Apostles. “For with God, nothing shall be impossible.”   (Luke 1:37)

“Jesus coming back? No way!”

No Way-2-flattenedWhen I was 20, I’d sometimes met Christians who’d talk to me about Jesus of Nazareth. I usually really enjoyed it. I felt I could always out talk them and usually make them feel stupid or embarrassed about their faith. Back then, I liked to do that. So I know how nutty it can seem to some people when they hear about the idea of a person who died 2000 years ago “coming back” to our modern world.

I won’t tell you how I came to believe in God, you can read some about that here and here. But if you’re wondering how anyone could have such an eccentric idea, let me give you some information which you may not know. Maybe you’re a very rational person and like facts. Let’s look at some.

First, let me introduce you to something which you are perhaps not familiar: prophecy. Now, don’t run off. I said I wanted to share some facts with you. But the word “prophecy” may conjure up for you some crazed fellow in robes, running around shouting about the end of the world. Or maybe some strange mumbo-jumbo of predictions someone said was going to happened, when there was nothing really prophetic about it.

But what if there was a phenomenon of prophecy that consistently came true? What if there were people who really had a proven track record of foretelling future events and those events happened? Well, there is. And this is going to bring us back to our original subject, Jesus of Nazareth.

[By the way, one of the videos that I’ve produced is explaining the phenomenon of prophecy, against the backdrop of the history of ancient Israel. It’s called “An Introduction to Prophecy in History“. You can view it here.]

In the centuries before Jesus, the ancient nation of Israel from time to time would have Hebrew prophets. Maybe you have heard of David or Isaiah or Elijah or Daniel?  One of the things these prophets told the people of Israel was that God was going to send them a very special king. This king would liberate them and he would be incomparable to anyone before.

And these prophecies would get pretty specific. Let’s look at one of them. In 700 BC the prophet Micah wrote, “But you, Bethlehem, though you be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth He which is to rule my people Israel, whose going forth is from old, from everlasting.”(from the Old Testament)  Micah chapter 5, verse 2

Bethleham file for blog

Bethlehem, south of Jerusalem, during the time of the prophet Micah, 700 B.C,

That’s one of those prophecies about the king (here it says “ruler”) that God said He would send to the world. It says that king would come from a small town south of Jerusalem, called Bethlehem.  Now you may be like me, I wasn’t brought up a Christian or hardly a believer in God. But even though I wasn’t a Christian, I still knew that Jesus of Nazareth was born in Bethlehem.

If you look closely, you’ll also see in that prophecy that it says the king to come was from old, “from everlasting”. That’s one of those places where the prophecies indicated that the king to come would not be like anyone before him.

Here’s one more. The prophet Isaiah wrote that the king to come would be born of a virgin.  Isaiah said,  “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bare a son, and you shall call his name Emmanuel, meaning God with us.” (from the Old Testament) Isaiah chapter 7, verse 14; (and in the New Testament) Matthew chapter 1, verse 23

Most likely you have heard (even if you find it hard to believe) that Jesus was born of Mary who was a virgin when she bore Jesus. And there are a lot more like this, very specific, all of which were fulfilled in the life of Jesus.

So that, briefly, is why it’s possible that some people think Jesus will come back. But for this to have any credence, you’d have to understand that Jesus was just not exactly the same as you and me. In one way he was. He got tired, took naps, it’s recorded that he wept in public a few times, he got hungry. In those physical things that we all experience, he was just like us. But he was different in that he was more than just a man. He was what the Bible calls, “the Son of God”.

Maybe you know all this already. Or maybe you never really had this kind of thing explained to you before. I know I didn’t. I got really angry when I was 21 and had come to find that there really is a God and a spiritual world. I’d spent the last 17 years in pretty good schools and no one every told me about this. Why wasn’t this being taught in all the schools I went to? Because, if there is a God who has a plan for man and if there is a spiritual world that’s more real and important than the physical world, then what they teach you in school is not really as important as these other things. So I didn’t learn about prophecy in the schools I went to.

Perhaps this hasn’t answered you’re question about how anyone could think that someone who died can come back to this world. But maybe it’s given you some facts you didn’t know before. You didn’t know that there were a bunch of specific prophecies given hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, telling about so much of what he would later accomplish in his life. Maybe this will give you a slightly different perspective on who he was.

Next I’ll tell you about another really crazy thing that some folks talk about: rising from the dead. How can Jesus “come back” if his corpse has been rotting in a grave for the last 2000 years? The next article is going to be called “When you die, you die like a dog, right?

(By the way, what do you think? Send me a comment in the reply box at the bottom of the article. I’d love to hear from you, whether you agree with what’s said here or not.)

Talk to you soon,  Mark

 

“Sound Doctrine”? or Speculation

sound doctrine-flattenedFor all my life, truth has been important to me. Then, when I went from being an atheist to a Christian, discovering the Bible was like a real love relationship. Before I became a Christian, for several months I believed in God but didn’t know who Jesus was. During that time I read the Bible, cover to cover, but I really didn’t understand it or get much out of it. Then when I received the Lord, I read the Bible again and it was like floods of truth were pouring into me, something I desperately needed.

The apostle Paul admonished Titus to speak the things that become sound doctrine”. (Titus 2.1) But there’s really a lot today that is preached here in America or taught on some websites that is really not sound doctrine. It’s often nebulous speculation on Bible themes, frequently mixed with a worldly  agenda to compel Christians to vote for one political party against the other.

Ten years ago here in Austin, Texas I went to a large, well known evangelical church on a Wednesday night. It was packed with nearly 3000 people. The guest speaker was going to teach on a subject dear to my heart: the prophecies of Daniel. But after his first 10 minutes or so of hurriedly speaking on the things I’d come to hear, he then launched into what evidently was the main burden of his heart: a long discourse on a controversial opinion of Bible prophecy that dovetailed perfectly with his political views. I became incensed. At length it became the closest I’ve ever gotten to disrupting a church service in order to be some kind of voice of truth.

This was a church I attended regularly, where the pastor had really been teaching the pure Word of God and many people were coming to hear the sound doctrine regularly coming from the pulpit. But on Wednesday night, the pulpit was being used for propagating speculation and controversy, mixed with a strong political agenda. But the thousands of people there figured  it was just as much the truth as what the preacher was telling them on Sundays. But it wasn’t. It was speculation and worldly politics.

This was an older, mainline church with many wealthy members. I was a nobody; just a returning missionary, trying to find a home church. But I felt compelled to try to contact the pastor and I went to his office to express my views. He wasn’t there but his secretary took a note of my concerns. To my complete surprise, one evening I got a call from the pastor, the head of this church of around 7,000 people here. We talked for around 45 minutes. I told him about my background of becoming a Christian through the Jesus Movement of the early 70’s. And then I poured out my heart to him about how I respected his teaching very much but felt that he’d allowed his pulpit to be used for speculation and politics when the members of the church would think that anything said there had the same degree of truth that he taught.

He took it really well, basically agreed with me and also agreed that what had been taught on Wednesday night was not really sound doctrine. It was just one of many disputed views on the subject of Bible prophecy and how it will unfold in times to come. Honestly I was stunned that he would even take time to phone me about it. It gave me a respect for that man that he wouldcondescend to men of low estate (Romans 12:16), like myself.

And now, being back in the States again after more years on the mission field, I again find the same thing. I find in some places really strong and feeding sermons being preached, which I get a lot out of. But in other places there are the same spurious, specious speculations being taught, especially about Bible prophecy. And often it’s just an opening to supposedly lay a Biblical foundation for extreme political views.

It’s not only heartbreaking, it’s motivating. It motivates me to try to make the material on this web site to be “sound doctrine”. A Bible teacher should consider it essential to differentiate between their own speculations and what can be accepted as sound doctrine. Otherwise you are creating confusion in those you teach. Quite possibly you’re engendering unbelief when your speculation on current events as being a direct fulfillment of Bible prophecy turns out differently from what you taught your flock.  There’s even a verse about handling the Word of God deceitfully. (II Corinthians 4:2) Like by using it to promote your political agenda?

My goal on this site is to lay out from Scripture what can be taken as much as possible to be sound doctrine, not politically-mixed prophetic speculation.

 

Angel stories: Lights on the Road

It was like being able to go back and see where I died. I recently went back to a country road in the Hill Country northwest of Austin where, for all intents and purposes, I really should have died in October of 1969. It’s a sad, sobering story of what was truly God’s infinite mercy and my depraved wrongdoing.

Traveling at high speed at night, I suddenly saw 2 lights like this on the side of the road.

Traveling at high speed at night, I suddenly saw 2 lights like this on the side of the road. I said to myself, “There are angels here!”

This is another angel story, similar to the ones I wrote earlier, “Lucifer and the White Moths“, “The Radio Miracle” and “Don’t Ever Ask Again“. Those events happened a few short months earlier in July/August of 1969.

You’d think, after all I’d experienced, that I’d be a good boy for the next 80 years. But, no. Like I wrote about in “God Is Chance”, at this time I had a fancy European sports car which was in every way a real idol for me. After my near death experiences involving drugs in the summer, I stopped using strong stuff. But I soon got back to smoking marijuana again. And as classes started in the fall at the university, I was able to get my car out of the shop and decided to go out for a drive with my girlfriend.

At the end of a long downhill drive, the road turned right and there was a dip in the road.

At the end of a long downhill drive, the road turned right and there was a dip in the road (point “A”).

We were smoking marijuana at night, driving along some of the winding roads out northwest of Austin, listening to Jimi Hendrix on the cassette player. Everything was back to “normal”. In the last month I’d been reading my Bible, a new thing for me, and praying. But I didn’t know who Jesus was; I wasn’t saved and I still was hanging out with my old friends.

The car could go exceptionally fast and I liked that. And we were driving in an area where there’s a rock wall on one side of the road and a drop off to the lake below on the other, much of the time.

What happened next was this. We were driving down a long straightaway that I knew took a slight turn to the right. Suddenly, off on the side of the road in the darkness I saw two lights. I recognized that they were supernatural as this was in the middle of nowhere. I said sort of loudly in my mind, “There are angels here!”

Probably when I saw the angels I was doing between 80 to 90 mph, close to 150 kph. Almost immediately I went into the turn. What I didn’t calculate in my driving was that the road not only turned to the right but it had a dip in the road right there.

Seen now from around the turn, I was driving my car down the hill and spun around 180 degrees at the dip in the road (point “A”).

Seen now from around the turn, I was driving my car down the hill and we spun around 180 degrees at the dip in the road (point “A”).

fouth picture-flattened

We came to a stop (“B”), still backwards, on the side of the road about 100 yards away from the turn where we spun around (“A”).

My car was going so fast that, because of the dip, the back end of the car spun out and around, 180 degrees. The next thing I knew was that we were going totally backwards at the same speed I went into the turn. I furiously clutched the car, looking behind me into the darkness, applying the brakes, trying to steer the convertible, going backwards at high speed on drugs.

Utterly miraculously we came to a stop on a small shoulder to the road around 100 yards passed the turn. I turned off the engine and we sat there. I turned off the music and by then all the effects of the marijuana were totally gone.

That moment was one of the greatest zeniths (or nadirs) of my life. If I ever, ever felt that I didn’t deserve to be alive right then, that was the place. After all God had done to save me from death and the devil just a few short months before, there I was back at it again.

Sin is not a popular or politically correct word nowadays. But I knew without a doubt that I had sinned and gone back to the ways that had nearly killed me before. I didn’t deserve to survive that experience. I deserved punishment, big time. But God had evidently shown me two angels just a few seconds before that incident who were there to somehow guide that spinning car, hurdling backwards through the darkness along that mountainous road so that the car came to a standstill instead of flipping over or going off a cliff.

The total, undeserved, mercy of God. My willful, sinful self. The revelation of angels to show it was an act of His unearned clemency. We were totally unhurt. The car didn’t even have a scratch on it. We drove back to Austin as I was silently in awe, deeply stunned, sobered and humbled by what had happened.

Why had this happened? First, I was not yet a Christian and didn’t have the power of salvation to give me the strength to flee temptation and follow Him in a new life. But God evidently had a plan for my life. It wasn’t His time or place for me to have a big car wreck as there were a number of things that kept happening during the fall of 1969, leading up to my meeting some young radical Christians during the winter who led me to receive Jesus.

But if I ever have any doubts about where Jeremiah said “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9), I can think back to my depraved foolishness as I tempted fate and God after He’d delivered me from death just a few months earlier. “His mercy is from everlasting to everlasting“. (Psalms 103:17)  “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them.” (Psalms 34:7)

What’s next for me?

What's next-flattenedFor so many people who believe in God, they sort of instinctively “hedge their bets” when thinking about the future. James, in his book in the New Testament, said this to folks who were boasting about how “…today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town, stay there a year, conduct business, and make money.” James went on to say to them, “You don’t know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? Instead you should say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live—and do this or that.’” (James 4: 13-15)

Maybe that’s where we get the often-used phrase, “Lord willing”, when we talk about our future plans. It’s a thought that transcends many faiths. The Muslims say, “Insha’Allah”, which basically means the same as we say in English, “Lord willing.”

But this doesn’t mean we’re to sit around, waiting for supernatural directions from heaven for every little thing we need to do. Most of the time God uses our common sense and gifts of the Spirit like wisdom, knowledge and understanding to get us through our days, rather than some dramatic, direct revelation from heaven.

Several people have asked me what I plan to do next, now that the Daniel 8 video is up on my other site. So I thought to let you know what my tentative plans and hopes are concerning the videos and other things over the next months.

As for the videos, I’ve already written and done a preliminary filming on 4 smaller videos which are basically supplementary material to the Daniel 8 class. It’s looking like they’ll be around 5 minutes each and will zero in on various spin offs or tangents from the study of Daniel 8. Here are some thumbnail sketches of these 4 videos:

“Alexander the Great comes to Jerusalem, reads Daniel 8”

The first will be an amazing story from secular history of when Alexander the Great and his generals came to Jerusalem during his conquest of Asia around 333 BC. The high priests escorted Alexander into Jerusalem and showed him the prophecy about him in Daniel 8. Alexander in response basically said to them, “What can I do for you?” This is all recorded in ancient secular history. I think a lot of people will be shocked.

“Famous Prophetic Flops” 

Another video, also around 5 minutes, is going to look briefly at famous prophetic flops. Not that prophecy flopped but where individuals and religious leaders taught, “This is it!” and literally had their followers up on their roofs in white sheets, waiting for the return of Jesus that night. It’s good to realize how it’s possible to really misinterpret some of these things and how much of a bad testimony it is for the Lord and His Word when we do this. I sure believe in Bible prophecy. But I’m not blind to the many times in history when it has been misinterpreted.

“The Antichrist Has Already come?!”

Then there’s another short video, based around Daniel 8 and how this chapter in particular has been misunderstood and also challenged by skeptics. The truths in these chapters as we go forward get so deep and strong that the Darkness seems to really fight against the Light that is found in these. It’s good to be aware of this.

“God used the truths of Daniel 8 to help me in a difficult time”

And a forth short video will be about a time where the Lord used the truths in Daniel 8 to be a personal comfort and specific Word from the Lord that rescued me from a very difficult situation years ago.

Hopefully these 4 videos won’t take a long time and I am expecting them to be of special interest to a lot of people.

“Daniel 9 and Matthew 24”

After these are done, the next thing will be to continue on the main full length videos. I’m aiming to do the next chapter, Daniel 9, in two segments. The first will be about the part that’s already been fulfilled, “the 69 Weeks”, covering verses 1 to 26. Then the second video will be about the last verse in chapter 9 and how Jesus Himself talked about this verse and some others in Daniel, when He was answering questions from His disciples about His coming in Matthew 24.

This looks to be the agenda for me in the next months. I’ll be continuing my live classes and witnessing here in Austin. Also I’ll continue to post blog posts and will try to put the texts to the Daniel videos done so far into posts so that folks can read and study the material there. Thank you to everyone who has prayed for this project and for your thoughts and comments, God bless you!

Morning Miracle

Morning Miracle-flattenedMiracles sometimes happen when you really weren’t expecting them. This morning I woke up one and a half hours earlier than usual, wide awake and ready to start my day.

I had a light breakfast, took 20 minutes to read some devotional material and review some verses, my regular start to most days. It was still early and my folks were not up. (I’ve been living with my parents, both 91 for the last year as they asked me if I could move in and be a help to them.)

I was on my way out the door to go to the park for a walk and prayer time when I saw that the door to my dad’s room was just barely opened. I peeked in and saw my dad out of bed and standing up, but severely crouched over, as he always is nowadays. He seemed to be having difficultly so I knocked on the door. He quickly asked me to come in and help him. Just as I got to him, he could stand up no longer and fell backwards. I grabbed his arm to slow his fall so it was more or less a controlled let down to the floor. Then I noticed that directly behind him was a wooden piece of furniture that he almost certainly would have crashed his head on if he’d fallen alone, backwards to the floor.

I went to wake up my mom, she came down and together we decided how to help my dad to his feet and back to his bed. But as I was considering all that had just happened, I realized that I’d just been a part of another one of those “little miracles” that the Lord engineers and that so often we don’t even perceive or take note of.

Why did I wake up so early today? Why did I go past my dad’s room just at that time? Why was his door slightly open so I could see him there? What would have happened if he had fallen backwards and hit his head on that wooden furniture? Had God engineered the whole thing, causing all the pieces to be in those places at that time so that a serious injury didn’t happened to my dad when he was alone in his room in the early morning?

“Oh Mark, you’re always spiritualizing things! You were just lucky! Why make such a big deal about it? Why do you have to include ‘God’?! Why can’t you just leave God out of it and just realize that it was just a coincidence!”

I have a lot of friends who live in places where probably 99 people out of 100 would say just that. They live in atheist, “post Christian” societies and any mention of their being a God who can and does engineer little miracles like this is scoffed at and considered a “medieval” way of looking at things. It’s nice in some ways to live where I do now. Maybe 50% of the people in this city would possibly give God the credit and glory for making it so that my dad didn’t fall alone in his room this morning and have a serious injury.

God’s behind the scenes workings in our lives go virtually unnoticed most of the time. His behind the scenes workshops where He does most of His work are unknown, unseen and unrealized by the vast majority of people.  So probably that’s why Jeremiah 10:23 says, “Oh Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”  Or like Solomon said in Proverbs 20:24, “Man’s goings are of the Lord, how then can a man understand his own way?

If you are trying to live the light you have, trying to follow the Lord and are “acknowledging Him”, then according to Proverbs 3:6, “He will direct your paths.” It’s not really anything you do or anything special about you. Like someone said, “Right time, right place, God’s will.” We have very little to do with it besides just being “sheep” who follow “the Shepherd”. But it really does pay off. And sometime you get to see those little glimpses into the heavenly workings of His Spirit when He manifests Himself in His recognizable way to protect us and help us avoid serious accidents. “Eye has not seen, neither has ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for them that love Him. But God has revealed them unto us by His Spirit.” I Corinthians 2:9 & 10.

The Daniel Chapter 8 video

I’ve been able to complete a 29 minute video on Daniel chapter 8. You can click here to see the full version.

There is also a two minute clip of the video for those who’d like to have a preview.

This is the fourth in the series of videos I’ve been working on concerning Bible prophecy and the prophetic chapters in the book of Daniel. Like the other videos before this one, much of the video is filled with illustrations of Daniel, the angel Gabriel, “the ram and the goat”, Alexander the Great, and the Antichrist of the endtime. Much of this was partially fulfilled in ancient history. But it’s explained in the video how there are important parts that are yet to be fulfilled in the times leading up to the return of Jesus.

This chapter builds solidly on the previous revelations of Daniel chapter 7 where we saw the 4 beasts. But, in putting the video together, I was struck by how much this chapter lays the groundwork for what is revealed in perhaps the most important chapter, Daniel 9.

For example, perhaps the most difficult part of Daniel 8 is where, almost out of the blue, two angels are discussing “the sanctuary”, “the daily sacrifice” and “the transgression that makes desolate”. D8 picture 22These are all totally new subjects to these visions and prophecies but they introduce key factors in the revelation of Daniel 9.

Understanding  this information and seeing how it all fits is a challenge for those who are new to all this. In fact, we find that during this revelatory experience, Daniel himself evidently fainted twice. He said the vision disturbed him for days and that he didn’t himself understand it. So we can expect that it will not be all that easy to understand for those who are going over these things for the first time.

D8 picture 11There’s much in this chapter about Greece and Alexander the Great. There is also key information about the Antichrist of the endtime. And we note that Gabriel specifically tells Daniel three times that the vision relates to “the end”. This is particularly important because some Bible teachers have tried to say that the most important parts of this chapter were already fulfilled in the century or two before the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.

As I’ve done in the other videos, this class has been produced with the target audience being folks who are mostly new to the subject of Bible prophecy. There are English subtitles which will help those whose first language is not English.

I hope this video will be a blessing to you and yours. I’d be glad to hear any questions or comments on how these videos can be more of a help to you. You can reach me at mark@markmcmillion.com. God bless you, love you lots! Mark

Peripherals

Peripherals-flattenedIf you’re like me, you probably have a “to do” list. There are so many good things to do and most of us have more to do than we know what to do with. So, what do you do?

This is one place where being a Christian, having faith in God and a personal relationship with Him and His Son really helps. We can know from the Word what the truth is and that clarifies so much. We can know what His will is, what our priorities should be and even just that should simplify our decision making.

But still, there’s just so much to do. If you are a mommy, there’s all that has to do with taking care of the kids and all they need in their lives. If you are a daddy, probably you have to bring home the pay check and not only be diligent with your job but have time for your family and home. If you’re a missionary or a witnessing Christian, you want to do what you can to lead people to the Lord and/or to “feed His sheep” (John 21:16) through classes or personal counseling.

Most of us know we should “major on the majors”. But even to figure that out takes some wisdom at times. Of course if you know the rent has to be paid in two days or you’re going to get kicked out of your apartment, it’s easy to know what your major is for the day.

Just so many of these things all meld together to where, if you really want to have peace in your heart and to know at the end of the day that you’ve done your best, then you usually need to take some time of prayer or deep consideration to try to prioritize what’s most important to get done.

There’s a phrase in English, “running around like a chicken with your head cut off”. That’s kind of graphic. But the idea is that at times, if you don’t watch out, you’ll just be super busy but with no plan, no goal, no direction. This is where for those of us who know the Lord, it helps so very much to have His directions. We are supposed to be “led of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:18). That’s not just some esoteric, spiritual mumbo-jumbo. We can and should really get our orders from the Lord. It’s not only possibly, it’s virtually essential if you want to have any order or meaningful accomplishment in your life.

So let’s say you have got to that place. You know what your priorities are. You know what your goal is and you believe it’s in line with God’s will for your life. Still, there’s a lot to do, right? How much time and resources should I give to this item? Should I take time to do that? How can I use my time the most effectively? Should I take any time to just kick back and relax?

For me, I find I need to really watch out about what could be called peripherals. Those are the little things on your to-do list that you know you need to do but they don’t seem really essential. They aren’t really the major, big things that will really get me moving forward towards what I know are the major goals the Lord has set for me. So it’s easy to keep overlooking the peripherals.

Faithful in few-flattenedBut Jesus said, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much. And he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” (Luke 16:10) In another place He was talking to some people who had been very diligent in some things but utterly unfaithful in other areas. He told them, “These ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”  (Matthew 23:23)

It seems impossible. “How could God expect this of us? It’s just too much! I can’t do it! It’s not fair! I’m gonna quit!” But that doesn’t really work either. It’s just the nature of the world as it is that we have to take care of the big things and the little things. Have you heard the story of the king in old times who lost his kingdom because of a nail? The saying goes, “For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of the shoe the horse was lost. For want of the horse the king was lost. For want of the king the kingdom was lost.” All because of one little seemingly insignificant horseshoe nail, it set in motion a series of events that lost the kingdom.

How in the world can we be that diligent, that faithful, that wise to know how to take care of everything, even the little things we need to do?  Maybe it’s like Jesus said in one place, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For with God, all things are possible.”  (Mark 10:27) If we’re “looking unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2) if we’re “seeking first His kingdom” (Matthew 6:33), if “our eyes are upon Him“, (II Chronicles 20:12) then we can really expect Him to do the miraculous and even the supernatural, which can sometimes be nothing more than to help us get through our to-do list and to be like the woman Jesus talked about when He said, “She has done what she could.” (Mark 14:8)