Religion and Politics

Genuine Gratitude

As we prepare to observe another Thanksgiving Day on Thursday, 22 November 2012, I find myself questioning the sincerity of people’s gratitude, including my own. I don’t mean that any of us is deliberately hypocritical in our thanksgiving but rather that we are so accustomed to expressing our gratitude for the sake of “religious correctness” that we often fall into the trap of automatic reflexive gratitude. We all claim to be thankful and may even frequently mention how thankful we are, but are we really? How can we ascertain how genuine we are in our giving of thanks? I’d like to offer a very simple exercise for us to use in testing the true depth and sincerity of our thanksgiving. I can almost guarantee that, no matter how thankful you thought you were, you almost certainly will be more thankful after seriously undertaking the following exercise.

First, make a list of all the people and things you value most. The obvious items are family, homes, personal possessions, occupations, and whatever else you may deem significant in your life.

Next, try to think the unthinkable. As difficult as it may be, try to imagine a terrible calamity striking every one of these items on your list and completely eliminating them from your life. One by one, as you try to imagine your life without each of these people and things, ask yourself how you would continue your life without them.

Finally, consider that it really is entirely possible that you could lose one or more of these people or things from your life through accident, disease, or natural disaster. Once it becomes a very real possibility to you that you could lose one or more of these precious people or things, your attitude of gratitude will become much more serious and sincere. You will begin to treat every one and every thing in your life with much more appreciation than previously. Practicing this exercise on a regular basis, not just on Thanksgiving Day each year, will help us reprioritize our priorities in life.

For some of you, this is not just an exercise; it is something you’ve already experienced. For you, therefore, you don’t have to imagine such a loss. Thus, you can use your past experience to help you be more grateful for those precious people and things you still have in your life. Nevertheless, I still encourage you to practice this exercise regularly.

Perhaps Alfred Lord Tennyson said it best, “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” I wish to be one of those who is genuine in my love and my gratitude. I’m fairly certain you feel the same. Let me challenge you during this Thanksgiving Season to take stock of what you have to be thankful for and look at those blessings through fresh eyes. Happy Thanksgiving!

Biblical Prophecies Religion and Politics

Is the End Near?

Maybe you’ve seen the cartoon of two men standing by the roadside holding a sign that states, “The end is near.” A smug driver keeps on driving and calls them religious nuts. The caption beneath the cartoon simply states, “Maybe we should just change our sign to say, ‘Bridge out ahead.'”

It certainly helps to have a message that clearly conveys the truth of what one is trying to proclaim. So, when we as Bible-believing Christians say “the end is near,” what do we mean by that? I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ll tell you what I mean by it.

When I say “the end is near,” I mean that the end of wickedness and demonic control and influence in this world is near. I mean that the end of human government as we know it is near, because Jesus Christ, our Savior, Lord, and King is close to returning and taking over the rule of this world once and forever. So, what makes me think the end is near? Well, the fulfillment of numerous prophetic Scriptures that are related to “the last days” is the primary reason I’m convinced that the time is at hand for Jesus to return.

Perhaps the most significant prophetic fulfillment that indicates the end of this age is near is the restoration of the nation of Israel as a people and a sovereign government in the ancient land of Israel. While this is prophesied in numerous places in the Old Testament prophets, let me just list three references and you can check them out for yourself in your Bible. They are Isaiah 43:5-7, Jeremiah 32:36-44, and Ezekiel 37:15-28. In each of these passages, God promises to bring the people of Israel back into their original land after they have been dispersed for many years all around the world. Although every last descendant of Israel has not yet returned to the Promised Land, they have nonetheless been a sovereign nation in their own land for more than 64 years now since they were “born at once” (Isaiah 66:8 NKJV) at midnight on May 15, 1948. Since Jesus foretold that the generation who gets to witness the fulfillment of last days prophecies will not end until Jesus returns in His glory (Matthew 24:34; Mark 13:30; and Luke 21:32), we know that we are that generation!

Based on my understanding of the last days prophecies, I am personally convinced that we now stand at the threshold of the period of time called The Tribulation which will be the final seven years before Jesus returns to earth to set up His everlasting Kingdom. I further believe that the next war between Israel and one or more of their enemies (Iran, Syria, Egypt, etc.) will result in Israel further expanding their national borders and will culminate with a seven-year peace agreement specified by the prophet Daniel (Daniel 9:20-27, specifically verse 27).

Now, I’m not a prophet or the son of a prophet, nor do I play one on TV, but just by studying the prophetic fulfillments and what’s left to be fulfilled, I’ve come to this conclusion. I won’t know if I’m right until Israel’s next war, of course. Either it will turn out as I’ve projected or it won’t. If it doesn’t turn out as I’ve predicted, then no harm, no foul, and I just back away from it as an incorrect guess. What is NOT an incorrect guess, however, is that eventually, Israel WILL make a seven-year peace agreement with the man we all know as the Antichrist. Just when it will happen is in God’s hands.

While considering the horrific conditions and events that will occur on the earth during the Tribulation as they are described for us in both Jesus’ warnings in the Gospels and in the book of Revelation, what is perhaps the most exciting part about the impending return of Christ is the preceding event known as the Rapture. Though the word “rapture” is not used in the Bible, the synonymous phrase “caught up” IS used (1 Thessalonians 4:17 NKJV). Thus, those who try to dismiss the actuality of the rapture based on the fact that the word is not used in the text are handily refuted because the concept of the rapture is clearly defined in the very phrase “caught up.” Although there is much debate as to the timing of this event – pre-Tribulation, mid-Tribulation, or post-Tribulation – there can be no denying that the event is clearly described by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Those of us who believe in a pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church find the prospect of the beginning of the Tribulation period all the more exciting, because we are expecting to be snatched from the earth at any time now. Since we don’t know when it is going to happen until it actually happens, we will simply have to wait and see if our understanding is correct. However, I believe that the recent political elections in the United States which re-elected the most anti-Israel American President in history will greatly contribute to this dramatic conclusion of the current age. Furthermore, I strongly believe that his anti-business policies will finish off the struggling U. S. economy, which will create a domino effect around the world that will culminate in the perfect environment for establishing the much-dreaded One World Government led by the greatly feared antichrist.

Yes, indeed, I believe the end is VERY near! In any case, I echo what the Apostle John wrote at the end of his book of the Revelation, “… Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20 NKJV).