More good news from Bulgaria

A month ago I wrote an article called “Good News From Bulgaria“. This was about a new friend who’s written me from Bulgaria to tell about how she’s been using the videos on the book of Daniel which I’ve been doing to share with two home church groups she ministers to on the countryside of Bulgaria.

Communion in southern Bulgaria

Communion in southern Bulgaria

We’ve continued to keep in contact as she’s gone through the book of Daniel with her flocks and now she’s started going through the book of Revelation. Although I don’t have material myself on that book, I have friends on the mission field who’ve written some good classes on Revelation and I’ve sent those on to her.

But the best would be to just share what she’s told me and to add in some photos. First, about that photo above here, I’m not certain but I believe the objects in front of those dear people are glasses and a bottle of wine, and some broken bread, to be used in communion. They are sitting on a mat or carpet on the floor; the women have their heads covered. Just to mention it, if this looks like what you think of Greece or Turkey, that’s because it’s midway between those two and just a little north of there.

This all just thrills me. When people at the grass roots, in countries that don’t have a historically strong “Protestant” tradition, spontaneously come to the Lord and are zealously “hungering and thirsting after righteousness” (Matthew 5:6) and are seriously seeking to be taught the things of the Lord, then that really draws a response in me. Bulgarian congregationIf “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10), think how much joy there is in heaven when hundreds of people take their time and change their ways to “sit at His feet and hear His words” (Luke 10:39) through this dear Bulgarian sister who is doing what she can to feed His sheep.

In fact, my friend told me that it’s a little unusual because their fellowships are a mix of ethnic Bulgarians, ethnic Gypsies and a local people who have Turkish roots and an Islamic heritage in former centuries. So I was told that it’s unusually for these ones to come together in this way but the Lord is doing it.

Their church

Their church

And here’s their church. It doesn’t look like yours, does it? No huge parking lot, no football stadium to go with their high school. The wood stacked up under the stairs is for the stoves to keep the church warm in winter. But it kind of reminds me of what the Lord said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)

Here’s a little of what my friend Vaska wrote me about the Christians she is ministering to there and their Sunday classes.

We have just finished chapter 2 of the Book of Revelation. We are so slow, because it turned out that there is so much to say about the letters to the 7 churches that it is impossible to finish one chapter each time. So we decided to do one church at a time. We discussed the letter to the Thyatira tonight. All these letters to the 7 churches are so important and full of depth and there are lots of questions to answer and people want to know more. So, we slowed down and next Sunday we will start Chapter 3.

Bulgarian ladiesNow we have three different study groups – on Wednesday we study the Book of Genesis, on Friday we study healing in the Bible and on Sunday we study Revelation. It’s all so amazing. We all learn a lot and are excited. There are more and more people coming and more and more people receiving healing from the Lord. But not only that, spring is coming and the weather is lovely – sunny and warm. We went for a walk in the mountains and went swimming in a hot spring swimming pool. [End of the part from Vaska in Bulgaria]

I consider it one of the greater blessings of my life to have been able to be in contact with such a wonderful and diverse mixture of Christian brethren in many countries. So often I think of another verse from the Beatitudes when musing on folks like these ones on the southern Bulgarian countryside, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) I’m looking to the Lord for ways my friends and I here can be a help to these ones who are coming to the Lord and growing in their Christian lives. I hope these testimonies of these sweet people are a blessing to you. “For our vines have tender grapes.” (Song of Solomon 2:15)

God Will Reveal

The first year after I became a Christian, I was often really desperate in prayer. That can be good and usually is good. So often for many people, it’s like the verse that says, “No man stirreth himself to call upon Me.” (Isaiah 64:7).

But for me, maybe it had to do with the very rough experiences I’d had prior to coming to faith where my unbelief and life of debauchery had brought me to some real depths. So even after I came to faith and later came to the Lord, I guess it was almost like what nowadays is called “post traumatic stress syndrome” that was still affected me. Or perhaps it was like what Paul said, “knowing therefore the terror of the Lord…” (II Corinthians 5:11). The Lord had had to smash my pride and contrariness in order that the seed of the new life He wanted me to have could grow. And, at times, those experiences were terrifying.

Search me oh God-flattenedSo even after I because a Christian, I often was very desperate in prayer. Many of those prayers were along the lines of what King David prayed, “Search me oh God, and know my heart: try me and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139: 23 & 24) That’s a good verse and a good prayer to pray; what could go wrong?

Well, for me, some of my friends were beginning to tell me that perhaps I was so overwrought with desperation and heart-searching that it seemed like I was almost nervous or tense much of the time, rather than really resting in the Lord. I was so desperate, yearning and serious that it was an imbalance and the Lord wanted to lead me into a further understanding of His ways.

One thing that did come of all that prayer, the Lord often really did come through and I had some marvelous answers. But still, something wasn’t quite right. A friend talked with me about this and said something to the effect that “any time something hinders more than it helps, it’s time to abolish it.”  He was saying that all my continual desperation and vehement concern to have a clean heart was making it so that I didn’t have the fruits of the Spirit that I should have, like peace and joy.

I knew the Lord was speaking through him. As so often happens, the answer came through reading the Word. Somehow I was later drawn to read Philippians chapter 3. There are those famous verses there, “I count not myself to have apprehended, but this one thing I do: forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to the things which are before, I press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13 &14) Great and famous admonitions and I felt I’d been doing the part of “pressing towards the mark”.

But it was the next verse, verse 15, that the Lord really used to punch through to me and to highlight what I needed to realize from His Word. Philippians 3:15 says, “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded. And if in anything you be otherwise minded, God will reveal that even unto you.

reveal from the Word-flattenedBoy, did that hit my heart just where it was needed. Basically the verse spoke to me this way, “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect be thus minded.” [No one is really perfect because all have sinned. But we who are saved are now perfected in the spirit through salvation] “And if in anything you be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

That was the part that really hit home and laid a new foundation stone in my Christian life. We are “perfect” already, in a sense, through salvation. But also there are times where things still need to be changed, where we are “otherwise minded”. And for those situations, there’s that huge promise there that “God will reveal it unto us“. He will reveal where we need to change and grow, where we are not all that we need to be in Him.

So it wasn’t like I needed to stop praying effectual, fervent prayers to the Lord. But this promise was something that I could claim and that would make it so that I was banking on His promises that He would reveal things that I needed to change in, rather than feeling that I needed constantly to whip myself into virtually a frenzy of prayer before God would be willing to communicate with me.

It really helped. It was a major step forward in my Christian life. My prayers were enhanced by being based on faith in His promises to reveal , rather than my anxious efforts to be desperate enough that God would be willing to answer.

They that believe have entered into rest and have ceased from their own works.” (Hebrews 4:3 & 10)  Those are pretty deep verses and probably there are more people around who actually need to “stir up the gift” (II Timothy 1:6) and keep their lights burning before their lamps go out through indifference or leaving their first love. But there may be some who could use this lesson the Lord taught me, that we do better to know and trust in His promises rather than our own self efforts. “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy oh Lord endureth forever: forsake not the works of your own hands.” (Psalm 138:8)  “He that has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)


Crimean Crisis = “This Is The End”?

map of UkraineI lived in eastern Ukraine for 18 wonderful months in 2008 and 2009, in Dnepropetrovsk. So the Ukrainian crisis has been personal for me and I’ve kept in close contact with friends there. But many who follow “the signs of the times” (Mark 16:3) are really wondering if this is the beginning of the battle of “Gog and Magog” (Ezekiel 38:2). Gog and Magog are considered by many to be the ancient land area of modern Russia, spoken of in Ezekiel 38 and 39, considered an integral part of the endtime picture leading up the final events foretold in the book of Revelation.

Europe and Ukraine mapOthers of a more secular viewpoint simply wonder if this could be the leading edge of a new “Cold War” as Russia seems to be stretching its muscles in what some would say is a time of American weariness with foreign adventures and “wars of choice”.

I’ve received no dream or revelation about this and I’m not really seeking for one. But simply from a geopolitical and strategic view, I don’t personally see this going much further than it has already. If a referendum had been held in Crimea a year ago or 5 years ago, all those folks would have voted about the same way they did recently. On March 16, over 90% of the Crimean people voted for unity with Russia. It’s always been a strongly Russian enclave, more than anywhere else in Ukraine.

But Mark, what about all those Russian speaking folks in the eastern half of Ukraine?

That’s who I lived and worked with, who I had Bible classes with and who became my good friends. I didn’t meet a single one in 18 months who said anything about wanting to break away from Ukraine and be joined with modern Russia.

I was talking to my best Ukrainian friend there, a man in his 30’s with a wife and 2 kids. I asked him one time, “So how do you see yourself?”, expecting him to say either say that he was Ukrainian or Russian. He paused thoughtfully and said, “I’m Slavic.”

There’s no way to explain what that means to English speakers that I know of. People from Montenegro on the Adriatic to Vladivostok on the Pacific coast of Russia are all ethnically Slavic. My friend meant that he didn’t have a really strongly rooted national identity, like almost everyone else in the world does, which they just take for granted. Ukraine is like that; it would be strange to say it’s a “bi-polar” nation but maybe that’s an easy way to express a difficult condition and history.

But Mark, is this it? Will Russia keep biting off huge chunks of Ukrainian territory and other places in that part of the world?

Putin has said publicly that they have no intention of doing that. On the other hand, he’s said he will defend Russian nationals in other countries. If for any reason, Russia moves against Donetsk or Kharkov, that’ll be a bad sign. Those are the two large industrial centers in the far northeast and southeast of Ukraine. I don’t expect that. But if that happens, it’ll be bad. The same can be said for any Russian move towards the ethnic Russian area of Trans-Dniestr, in eastern Moldova, on the southwest border of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen what the new government in Kiev will do. Will they initiate a battle with Russian troops? Certainty all the leaders of Nato will strongly discourage them from doing that, whether or not that will have any influence.

What’s going to happen? It’s going to blow over is my guess. There’ll be anger, there’ll be sanctions, and there’ll be recriminations. But that most likely will be it.

Will this bring on World War III and/or God and Magog?

Wolf Wolf

“Wolf, Wolf!” he cried.

I don’t think so. On the other hand, for those who study prophecy and feel that we’re living in a time prior to the final events spoken of in Revelation, most of us feel that something (we don’t know what) is going to be the little match that lights the inferno of the future. Yes, this could be it.

But, let’s face it, so many people of faith have been somewhat jerked around by “Wolf, Wolf!” cries from alarmists and Cassandras for many years now and often we naively fall into another round of fear and confusion.

That’s one of the reasons I’ve been working on this series of videos on the book of Daniel. In that book, and others in the Bible, there are some very certain signs that will precede the final events in the book of Revelation.

So would you like to really know what to watch out for? The Third Temple. Maybe you’ve heard of that but there are plans made and movements afoot to rebuild the third temple in the history of the Jewish people. Right now that’s hindered by the Mosque of Omar on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The Mosque of Omar, Jerusalem

The Mosque of Omar, Jerusalem

But if you hear about things changing so that the building of that Jewish temple is going forward, you’d do well to really pay attention to that. And if that one slips you by but you hear about animal sacrifices being started again in Israel, that’s another very powerful signpost of the Last Days.

Meanwhile, I’m certainly not speaking prophetically here but I feel that the Crimea thing will blow over. If it doesn’t and Russia keeps up its appropriation of the territory of other nations, then we’ll definitely want to see if that develops into things that Bible prophecy has foretold.

Acts Chapter 3 Live Class

lame healed Acts 3- flattenedHere’s the third posting on the live classes I’m doing here with friends on the book of Acts. I really look forward to this time each week. [The audio of the live class on Acts 3 can be heard here.] There’s just such a satisfaction in being together with like-minded brethren and really getting in the Word with them. It’s one of the high points of my week.

Acts 3 scene 1In this class, we not only read Acts 3 but went some ways into Acts 4. Actually, in the continuity of the story line, Acts 3 and Acts 4 are part of the same narrative. All the apostles are still there in Jerusalem, involved in the follow-up of the huge reaping of souls from the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. In Acts 2, three thousand souls came to the Lord and the early church at that time. Then at the beginning of Acts 3, Peter and John were going up to the Temple and a lame man asked alms of them, as beggars do everywhere.

Acts 3 scene 2Perhaps the most famous verse in the chapter is Peter’s reply to the man, “Silver and gold have I none. But such as I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” (Acts 3:6) And he did. In fact the Bible says he “went walking and leaping and praising God.” (Acts 3:8)

It didn’t end there. A huge crowd quickly gathered. So Peter again, like in Acts 2, spoke to the crowd and told them (as he had in Acts two) that this healing of the lame man was not done by their power but by the power of Jesus Christ, who had been slain there in Jerusalem just a few weeks or a few months before then.Acts 3 scene 3

Well, this is all in the class we had and again I was able to record it for those who want to hear it. The audio recording can be heard here. It’s also possible to download the file from the site and evidently some are doing that.

But just to summarize the rest of Acts 3, Peter’s preaching again really had huge results. We don’t hear about it till the beginning of Acts 4 but “many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.” (Acts 4:4) And by this time the commotion had aroused the attention of the religious authorizes. We read at the beginning of Acts 4 that the Sadducees had Peter and John arrested by the Temple guard and they were put in custody till the next day.Acts 3 scene 4

One of the things I mentioned in the live class is how amazing this whole episode must have been to those who experienced it. The lame man, who was over 40 years old, probably had heard of Jesus before since He was extremely well known to the people of Jerusalem before His Crucifixion. Could that lame man have hoped to meet Jesus all during that time but have felt that, now that He was dead (as most folks figured), then it was too late for him to receive healing? Maybe that all figured into that moment when he received healing through Peter and John? What was the atmosphere like in Jerusalem during those 24 hours or so when so many lives were changed forever? What was it like to hear Peter and John come back and explain to all the believers their experiences, after they’d been released by the religious authorities? The Bible tells us so much that is essential. But there’s so much to think about how it all must have been for those there and how the Holy Spirit was working so mightily on so many during that time.

God loved those people so much. The Bible says, “to the Jew first”.(Romans 1:16). And since God in His providence knew that in the lifetime of many of those people, Jerusalem was to be conquered and destroy again in less than 40 years from that time, His Spirit must have yearned and plead in the hearts of each one of those people who knew His Word so well that they would receive the Good News of the resurrection of Jesus and the complete change of heart and life that was available to each of them through faith in His Name.

The live class on Acts 3 and the first part of Acts 4 has been edited down to around 50 minutes. If this is something that you are interested in, I hope you’ll have time to listen to it. I know that for many nowadays, it’s difficult to find Christian fellowship that’s anything more than a light ceremonial hour on Sunday with people you don’t know and in a place where you come away still spiritually hungry and unfulfilled. So many are looking for something more, something deeper, something more total and complete. My hope is that these audio classes will provide some view into God’s Word and a feeling of a small group of believers gathered at His feet which will be a blessing and fulfillment those who are looking for more from Him at this time.

Where’s That Plane?

Malaysian AirI don’t usually write about current events. But the story of the missing Malaysian Airlines flight 370 which vanished 4 days ago has a number of things to it that I really wonder about. First, this is not going to be about alien abductions and the New World Order. Well, maybe a little about the New World Order but not the way it’s regularly presented.

Malaysian Airlines flight 370 took off from Kuala Lumpur airport on March 8,  12:40 AM local time and was due in Peking 6 hours later. With 227 on board and a crew of 12, it was just another of the 10’s of thousands of planes in the sky each day around the world. But an hour into the flight it disappeared off of commercial radar. A search was started and all available avenues of inquiry have been made since then. There really are a lot of questions, including the ones that are not being mentioned on mainstream media but which can be asked in a post like this.

Mahathir MohamedFirst, just to illuminate a few things, Malaysia is no slouch of a country. I’ve been there a few times and flown in and out of that airport. It’s a very modern state-of-the-art place. And if you’ve ever heard of Mahathir Mohamed, you may know that his almost autocratic rule in Malaysia for years brought very robust gains virtually across the board in Malaysian economic growth and material advancement. This  has been known and respected in Asia for years.

Pan Am flightAnother point to make: they are not just being nice people by trying to find that plane. Ever heard of Pan Am flight 103? That’s the one that was blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. And if you’re younger than me, you may have never even heard of Pan Am airlines. That’s because the airline was sued out of existence in the aftermath of the disaster by relatives of the ones on that flight. Airlines don’t want to have unsolved airline disasters, not because they love you but because the lawsuits can literally cause them to go bankrupt, like with Pan Am.

A similar disaster happened in 2009  when an Air France flight 447 crashed in the ocean between Rio and Paris. The authorities moved heaven and earth for many months to find the wreckage of that flight at a depth of 13,000 feet in the Atlantic in order to establish exactly what happened so the information could be used in court and that changes could be made to planes so it won’t happen again.

But what about Malaysian Airlines flight 370? Why am I writing something about a recent disaster that may all be figured out and forgotten about a week from now by most of the world? It’s a tragic loss of life and the anguish of the families and loved ones is something that all of us who travel always pray won’t happen to us.

big brother2But here’s an angle in that’s surprised me. In 1948, George Orwell wrote a book called “1984”. It was a futuristic look at a time when surveillance would be so complete that cameras would be everywhere, even in every room of your house. Society would be ruled by “Big Brother”, presented as a benevolent father figure who’s basically all-present and all-knowing through the means of technology.

We didn’t quite make the timetable of “1984”. But now, in 2014, just about anyone in the Western World or the economically advanced world, east, west, north or south just takes it for granted that “every move you make, every breath you take, I’ll be watching you”, as the song by The Police said.

cell phoneThere may be no central figure of “Big Brother” (at least not yet). But don’t all of you reading this more or less take it for granted that every email and text message you send and every call you make is most likely accessible to someone, somewhere, if they want to pick up on it? You have a cell phone, right? And you know that even if it’s turned off, you can be tracked by others through your phone. And, so I’m told, even if your phone is off, your conversations can be picked up by some if they need to.

Mark of the BeastThere are satellites in the sky that can read your license plate as you drive down the street. Your computer can be accessed with ease. And for many of us, we see this as an obvious harbinger of the time the Bible predicts when “No man might buy or sell unless he has the mark of the beast in his hand or in his forehead” (Revelation 13:17). Predicted nearly 2000 years ago, the final world economic system is now technologically ready and could go into effect in many places if the societies themselves are brought around to willing acceptance.

So, How. In. The. World. With all this incredible technology, can they lose an aircraft and still not find it after 5 days? Perhaps they’re not as clever as we think they are? Are there cracks in the smothering, all-knowing technological envelope that’s engulfed our earth? If some of us enter into the very last days predicted in Daniel and Revelation, will ineptitude and technical failures at times make it so that, even if the future world government seems so utterly on top of everything so that they can see and know all of us everywhere, perhaps they’ll be unable to find the people of faith?

If these guys can’t even find a huge airplane with every bit of technology that can be mustered worldwide, then perhaps if “The women fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there (for 3½ years) from the face of the Serpent” (Revelation 12:6 & 14) , science and technology may not be quite as able to hunt us down as we may now fear? Perhaps we won’t be found by all the ultra high tech gadgetry that we can be afraid of now as we think of how it will be for some in the last days before the coming of the Lord. I personally, honestly have been surprised. I really didn’t think that, in this day and time, the advanced governments of the world would not be able to get this all figured out and cleared up pretty quick.

The book of Revelations talks about a final “Big Brother”, called the Antichrist in the Bible. In the last 3½ years before the return of Jesus, this Antichrist “Will make war with the saints and overcome them, and power will be given him over all kindred’s, tongues and nations.” (Revelation 13:7) But both Satan himself and the final Antichrist are not, and will not be, omnipotent and omniscient. The Bible says that the Antichrist will fight a number of wars during his final reign. And perhaps, if they can’t even find a giant airliner with all their technology, some of us may also be able to hide out, stay underground and keep our candles of faith burning to the very end and the coming of the Lord.

This isn’t the view and conclusions you’ll be hearing on most mainstream sites or media outlets. And again, the tragedy and anguish of those who’ve lost loved ones is something that we all should grieve for, as well as pray it never happens to any of us. But for me, it’s been a genuine surprise to find that “almighty technology”, infinite in wisdom,  evidently has some serious flaws. For those of us who see a future as renegades against the atheist anti-Christian government prophesied to be here in the final days, it raises a glimmer of hope that they’re not as omnipotent as we have thought. “To the woman were given two great wings of an eagle, that she might fly into her place, where she is nourished for 1260 days from the face of the Serpent.” (Revelation 12:6 & 14)


Pray the Word

I don’t know about you but, for me, life is a fight every day. call unto Me-flattenedAnd we have a lot to fight, especially with (as the Bible calls them) “the sins which do so easily beset us.” (Hebrews 12:1) Almost everyone has to fight laziness, indifference, boredom and the swarm of little distractions that assail us each day. This happens to everyone, not just Christians.

That’s why for me, prayer is utterly, absolutely essential. Life can be wonderful and beautiful. But at the same time, I’ve found that to stay alive and survive, I have to never lose sight that this life also is a battleground. Some may not like that but this truth is something I’ve found by difficult personal experiences.

Life is full of amazement and joy. But there’s a darker side which fights the Light of this world and will do all it can, in whatever way it can find, to extinguish the Light and those who hold onto the Light, if it can.

And of course, I’m of the opinion that the Light came to this earth in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. He said so. He said, “I am the Light of the world, he who follows Me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) I’ve found that personally true and have lived that for over 40 years.

But in the world as it is right now, the powers of darkness are very strong and seem to be getting the upper hand more and more each day. Recently I found that a dear friend, a missionary comrade who fought together with me on the mission field 20 years ago is now virtually totally secular. They have put down their candle, taken off their armor and relinquished the banner of the Lord they once did so mightily hold high. Will others arise to take their place? Maybe. I hope so.

So what can we do? As Jesus said to His disciples after multitudes of them went back from following Him, “Will you also go away?” (John 6:67) Is there anything any of us can do to overcome the insidious tide of darkness that grows in these times?

resist the devil-flattenedI for one believe that it really comes down to each individual. The devil can’t quench your light and steal your crown if you recognize him and resist him. When the Bible says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7), it’s presenting one of the greater truths in the Bible.

Of course one of the devil’s favorite and successful ploys is to convince you that he’s not there in the first place. That’s why so much darkness today is presented as “light”, which we are encouraged to view as “modern” ways of looking at the world, culture, values or truth itself. Jesus said, “If the light that be in you be darkness, how great is that darkness.” (Matthew 6:23) So much in our times is presented as enlightenment and rational relativism but it’s just the latest darkness, packaged in today’s trendy way.

Again, what can we do? First, recognize the battle. Two, if you have faith in God, nourish it and defend it with all your might. How can you do that? You feed your body every day, no one has to be told to do that or reminded. In the same way, it’s essential that you have a spiritual feeding every day. The Jews of Moses’ time knew this. God told them, “These words which I command you this day shall be in your heart, and you shall teach them diligently to your children.” (Deuteronomy 6:6 & 7) In the Old Testament, there were daily rituals that were commanded them in order to keep the blessings of God. There’s even an obscure verse, “The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.” (Leviticus 6:13) Does that have any meaning to us in these times? Yes. The fire of faith, commitment and love for God should ever be burning upon the altar of our hearts, the depths of our soul, daily. It should never go out. It should be something that is a part of you daily.

Let’s face it, it could seem the Catholics and even the Muslims know more about prayer than most Protestants.  I know Catholics who go to Mass every single morning. And everyone knows that Muslims are called upon to pray 5 times a day and ten’s of millions of them do. So our prayer life is one place where we can personally take action to “be strong in the Lord and the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10).

Gods promises-flattenedAnd for me, I find that praying the Word is a great strength. When I go to the Lord in prayer, I bring His Word with me. I “pray the Word”. It pleases God when we honor Him by reminding Him of His Word and His promises. We have been given “exceeding great and precious promises, that by these we may be partakers of the divine nature” (II Peter 1:4). Even Jesus Himself prayed the Word. On the cross, Jesus cried out to His Father, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Mark 15:34). And at that moment He was quoting the first verse of Psalm 22, one of the strongest of the prophetic passages about the Messiah in the Old Testament.

My friends, it’s a battle. It’s a battle to keep the faith, hold on to your crowns and not to be part of the “falling away” of the last days. We each want to be one of the virgins who kept their lamps burning, not the ones who ran out of oil and so their lamps went out. Have some kind of personal devotions daily. Have some kind of personal private, even desperate prayer daily. Try to help your loved ones to do the same. “Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand in the evil day. And having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13).

“What’s the ‘Generation Gap’?”, she said

Probably if you’re from my generation and live in the States, easy rideryou may wonder why there’d even be a need to write something like this. “Everybody knows what the Generation Gap is!”, you could say. But evidently many don’t.

I was in contact with a friend in her 40’s from east Europe a few days ago and was telling her about my experiences growing up and experiencing “the generation gap”. Her response was,

“What’s the generation gap? I’ve always had really good relations with my parents and grandparents. What’s a generation gap?”

When I was 1, with my parents and grandparents. Kinder people and perhaps better times

Me, with my parents and grandparents.

That was really striking to me. It made me realize how in many ways her experiences and my experiences have not been the same. I told her that, in part, I’d been close to my relatives also growing up. I wrote a blog post “Texas People”, about my grandparents and the very good effect they had on my life as a child.

But I felt it would help her to have a better understanding of the world we live in today if I explained to her some about the way the Western World was in the times when I was growing up, a generation before her. My explanation may be too simplistic for some. But on the other hand, that’s what many people need in these times.

WW IIMy parent’s generation was the ones who fought in World War II. My dad was a soldier in North Africa during that war. It’s considered in many ways to be the last “good war”. The Germans and the Japanese back then were trying to take over the world and to subjugate so many countries. For a while they were successful. But the other countries fought back, helped in a big way by the intervention of the USA.

Coming home from the war

Coming home from the war

So after World War II, Americans were feeling really good about themselves as they’d helped to defeat evil in many ways. All the American solders came back to the USA, got married and started settling down, having kids. They just wanted to finally enjoy the good life and be successful and fulfilled. Before World War II, back in the 1930’s, the world had experienced “The Great Depression” and things were really bad economically just everywhere. The Great Depression didn’t really end till World War II came along.

So during the late 1940’s, all through the 1950’s and into the early 1960’s, almost everyone in the USA and other parts of the western World were just wanting to be successful, prosper economically and to sort of bask in the afterglow of their finally having some stable times and prosperity after the great difficulties of the 1930’s and the victory of World War II.

When I was 4, at perhaps a happier, more wholesome time in the history of America

When I was 4, a “Baby Boomer”

All this time their kids were growing up, people like me and millions of others. If you ever hear of the word “Baby Boomers”, this is the name that is given to my generation. It’s called that because when all the soldiers came back from World War II, they all got married and suddenly there was a big “boom” in the birth rate. There weren’t so many people born during the period of World War II. But for 10 of 15 years after the war, the birth rate really went up dramatically and it was called “the Baby Boom”. That’s what I’m a part of so my generation is called “Boomers”.

But here’s the problem. Those folks of my parents’ generation were basically satisfied and content to build up their material possessions and to get rich, if they could. Most didn’t realize that there were a whole lot of things that weren’t right in their society, like racism and segregation for one. Also, I’m sad to say, their Christianity was often shallow and formal. They had little interest or background in actual spiritual experiences or personal knowledge of the things of the Lord. Many were very religious, but it was often superficial.

All the while their kids, people like me, were coming to realize that things weren’t really the way they should be and not as nice as it seemed on the surface. So often their parents were not much involved in their kids’ lives but were into the country club, making more money, buying another big car or just other things than taking time with their kids.JFK

Then in the late 60’s it was like “a perfect storm”. Very many things happened at nearly the same time. The assassination of John F. Kennedy was a serious shock to people around the world. The escalation of the Vietnam war meant that tens of thousands of people Vietnammy age were being sent to far off southeast Asia to fight in a war that most people didn’t think should be happening. Huge racial riots were occuring all over America as the African Americans in the USA were demonstrating for basic human rights that they’d been denied as US citizens for centuries.

BeatlesAlso the youth culture at that time had begun to use drugs like marijuana and psychedelics in their search for deeper truths and alternative experiences. And the music of that time, with things like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan were bringing in a totally new and different kind of culture that was mostly totally opposed to the superficiality and materialism of the older generation.

hippiesSo during that time the “generation gap” became apparent. Multitudes of young people ran away from home, sometimes with nothing but the clothes they were wearing, to hitchhike and travel around with other young people. It was the time of the hippies and the whole alternative lifestyle of the late 1960’s that grew tremendously back then.

I was totally in the middle of all that. There were large riots at universities across America against the Vietnam war. There were huge rock concerts like Woodstock. So many young people were looking for something more than materialism and the shallow secular values they’d been brought up with.

witnessing Jesus Rev 1And it was during this time that what’s called “the Jesus Movement” happened. Hundreds of thousands of young people all over America and actually all over the world more or less spontaneously, individually ended up coming to the Lord in their desperate search for the truth. That’s exactly what happened to me.

witnessing Jesus Rev 2It didn’t matter if they came from a Christian family or not. Many didn’t but still ended up finding that the God of Abraham was real and that Jesus of Nazareth wasn’t some weak, namby-pamby religious figure that rich white people worshiped but that He was exactly who He said He was. He was still alive and well, able to answer prayers and lead our lives in a new direction.

So that in a nutshell is what is meant by “the generation gap”.  I was thinking of adding a song here from the Beatles, perhaps the most famous music group of that time. It’s a song where two parents are talking about how their teenage daughter has just run away from home. The lyrics are so significant, here they are:

“She’s Leaving Home”

[This is the part about the young girl running away from home]

Wednesday morning at five o’clock as the day begins
Silently closing her bedroom door
Leaving the note that she hoped would say more
She goes down the stairs to the kitchen clutching her handkerchief
Quietly turning the backdoor key
Stepping outside she is free.

[This is the words of her parents, talking about how she’s run away after, so they thought, they’d done so much for her.]

She (We gave her most of our lives)
is leaving (Sacrificed most of our lives)
home (We gave her everything money could buy)
She’s leaving home after living alone
For so many years.

Father snores as his wife gets into her dressing gown
Picks up the letter that’s lying there
Standing alone at the top of the stairs
She breaks down and cries to her husband “Daddy, our baby’s gone.”
“Why would she treat us so thoughtlessly?”
“How could she do this to me?”

She (We never thought of ourselves)
is leaving (Never a thought for ourselves)
home (We struggled hard all our lives to get by)
She’s leaving home after living alone
For so many years.

Friday morning at nine o’clock she is far away
Waiting to keep the appointment she made
Meeting a man from the motor trade.

She (“What did we do that was wrong?”)
is having (“We didn’t know it was wrong?”)
fun (Fun is the one thing that money can’t buy)
Something inside that was always denied
For so many years.
She’s leaving home. Bye, bye

And here’s where you can hear that song on YouTube:

I felt it would help my friend in east Europe to understand the world as it is now if she understood this series of events that happened in the western world in the generation before hers. This mostly didn’t happen in her part of the world. People who were living “behind the Iron Curtain” had a totally different experience and a totally different set of problems to deal with. I told her that it’s wonderful how she’s always felt close to her parents and grandparents. It just shows that material wealth and “serving Mammon” (Matthew 6:24), that’s been so prevalent here in the West, are not really the true riches that are most important.

So often in history God has had His times when a whole generation or nation almost suddenly swings toward Him in desperation and searching. Strangely, it even says in the Bible “God is in the generation of the righteous” (Psalms 14:5). And then Jesus called those of His times “you generation of vipers” (Matthew 23:33). Does that mean that some generations are good and some are bad? Everyone in one generation is good and everyone in another generation is bad? Of course not. But there do seem to be times in history when there have been great reapings, great harvests, great revivals that somehow find more fertile ground in one generation or time in history than in others.

It happened in my youth. It happened in the aftermath of the collapse of Communism in the 90’s. And it’s happening even now in some parts of the world. As Paul said on his missionary journeys, “God doesn’t  leave Himself without a witness“. (Acts 14:17) There’s always been, and always will be, a sowing and a reaping going on somewhere.