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Archive for September, 2015

The super blood moon has come and gone, and with it more self-declared prophets and so-called prophecy experts were exposed as frauds. Of course they are not the first and won’t be last who have claimed inside information and special revelation into the timing of the end of the world. I suppose the present culprits are busy adjusting their faulty predictions, fine-tuning their calculations, although it will be futile because only the Creator himself, Almighty God, the Father of all things knows the times and epochs, the beginning and the end.

Jesus said, But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” Mark 13:32 (NASB, also see Matt. 24:36),  “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority Acts 1:7 (NASB), and the revelation the Apostle Paul received was, “The day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night 1 Thessalonians 5:2 (NASB). These Scriptures should make it plain that anyone who claims to have special and specific insight into God’s timing when it comes to the end of the world, the return of Christ, and the final judgment is guaranteed to be wrong and is not worth listening to for a minute.

They do great harm, these so-called prophecy experts. They take advantage and exploit the simple-minded, they teach folks lousy hermeneutics (Bible interpretation), they cause the unbelieving to dismiss what the Scriptures really say about the last things (eschatology), the things God did say about the end, the warnings everyone should heed.

Nowhere in Scripture are we commanded to put our hopes in and orient ourselves on a calendar date. But we are to put our hopes in and are to orient ourselves on the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and live in the present so it doesn’t matter when he returns, when the world ends, and when are we are summoned to God’s judgment.

The Bible, the word of God, is unequivocal that there will be end to all as we know it, that Jesus Christ will return, that no one escapes the judgment of God. When Jesus and the Apostles speak of these things they always caution us to preparedness, to live today in such a godly, Christlike, loving way that we are always ready for Christ to come, for tings to end, but be completely unafraid and at peace.

The way to be prepared for the ultimate end is to consider our personal end. We do not know our personal end either; it too will come like a thief, not according to our timing and it will rob us of everything if we are unprepared. We do well to listen to the apostle Peter, But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction” 2 Peter 3:8-17 (NIV).

Maranatha! Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When Governor Felix heard the preacher he kept under arrest talk about resurrection he was interested to hear more, as was his wife. It doesn’t matter who you are, how low or high your position is in life, most people want to have some hope for what comes after death.

Felix had another motive as well. He thought since Paul was an influential leader of a religious group that they would want to bail him out, or more precisely bribe him out. As interested as he was in the afterlife he was even more interested in this life.

“A few days later (after hearing Paul for the first time) Felix and his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish, sent for Paul and listened to him talk about a life of believing in Jesus Christ. As Paul continued to insist on right relations with God and his people (righteousness), about a life of moral discipline (self-control) and the coming Judgment, Felix felt things getting a little too close for comfort (became afraid) and dismissed him. ‘That’s enough for today. I’ll call you back when it’s convenient.’ At the same time he was secretly hoping that Paul would offer him a substantial bribe. These conversations were repeated frequently (often)” Acts 24:24-26 (MSG, parentheses mine).

What Felix wanted to hear and what Paul told him were two different things. Felix liked the thought of going to heaven but he didn’t care for having to think about right and wrong, morality, and especially judgment. He was part of the Roman elite, the powerful who had tremendous leeway when it came to their actions, their morality, and accountability, as long as they did not conflict with the interests of the emperor. This preacher was making him feel guilty, didn’t not grant him the luxury of appeasing his conscience as to his deeds, his standing before God. This preacher left him no wiggle room as to what would be overlooked and what wouldn’t be. This preacher highlighted his responsibility to exercise morality beyond what was acceptable in Rome, but would stand up in the judgment of God. On top of all that this preacher was making sense, this wasn’t irrational religious nonsense.

Felix was smart enough to realize the implications of the truths this preacher was laying out before him. If was going to have real hope beyond death and the judgment of God he would have to face his accountability to God for his actions, for his past, now and in the future. He would have to seek forgiveness. He would have to humble himself. He would have to believe in and follow Jesus Christ, who alone can atone for, propitiate for a person’s sins, bring him/her safely through the judgment of God, raise the dead, and grant eternal life.

Felix did what many do at that point of understanding, the point where God, where Christ gets too close for comfort, where you have to repent and believe. He sent the preacher away, “I’ll call you back when it is convenient,” He kept it on his terms, not God’s.

Felix did have the preacher back, “often” we are told. He knew what he was hearing was the truth, but as far as we can tell he kept checking out when it got “to close for comfort.” Two years later he was transferred, we do not know what became of him. What we do know is real hope, resurrection hope is only found in Jesus Christ.

Maybe this pastor’s note is a little too close for comfort? Will you check out or will you believe?

To God be all glory, Pastor Hans

 

 

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On the way to my oldest daughter’s wedding I thought about commitments we make in life, after all marriage is supposed to be a commitment “till death do us part.” If you think about it, there are not too many commitments that are meant to be life-long.

 

Our commitment to God through Christ is meant to be for life, until we take our last breath (2 Timothy 1:12-14).

 

Our commitment to our spouse, if we see it as God means for us to see it, is to the end of our days, a God-ordained union we are not to sever (Mark 10:9).

 

Our commitment to our children, if we have been blessed to be parents, is supposed to be for life (Psalm 127:3; Proverbs 13:22). We cannot un-mom or un-dad ourselves; the question is merely what kind of parents we will be.

 

Our commitment to the body of Christ, the church, sometimes also referred to as the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-32). Every believer becomes part of Christ’s body through the work of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13). Being committed to Christ means being committed to his body, contributing to the functioning of his body (Romans 12:3-6).

 

Have you ever thought about how much hurt, pain, frustration, and heartache come into the world when we enter into life-long commitments and then break them? The devil and his minions work overtime to sidetrack us from them, to think of them as being less serious as they are, to fool is into underestimating the consequences of not honoring them. On the flipside there is enormous blessing that flows into and through us when we stay fully committed to Christ, to our spouse, to children, and to Christ’s body.

 

In order to keep these life-long commitments love and perseverance are indispensible. Real love just won’t quit, it “always perseveres,” “endures through every circumstance,” “keeps going to end” (1 Corinthians 13:7 NIV, NLT, Msg).

 

There is good news about these life-long commitments, they are God’s idea and God supports his ideas. We do not ever have to wonder whether or not God will help us with our commitment to Christ, with staying faithful to our spouses, with being a parent, and with belonging to and being active in Christ’s body. God is committed to walking with us, blessing us, keeping us, strengthening us, and making us blossom into something beautiful when we honor these commitments for life.

 

I am in. I hope you are too.

 

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

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Ideally, before you read this pastor’s note you should a Bible and an empty bottle. Fill the empty bottle with water and then read John 2:1-11. Did you do it? Great, now read on.

“They have no wine.” John 2:3 (NASB)

This wedding started great but it was about to fizzle, what everyone had been talking about was not going to be the same as what everyone was going to talk about, what was planned to be a success was going to end in embarrassment and disgrace, all that had been invested was going to be overshadowed by what ended up lacking. How many marriages, how many lives does that describe?

“Why did it have to be such a hot day?” “Can you believe how much these people are drinking?” “We are going to run out!” When did the headwaiter, the person in charge of this wedding let the happy couple know that they were going to run out? But obviously the word was already spreading. How long before the first one would work up the gumption to leave and start the exodus?

Every marriage, every life, will inevitably encounter the unexpected, the point where dreams, plans, the unpredictable, the unreal becoming real, and nightmares collide. Life and marriage offers plenty opportunity at finger-pointing. Maybe it was a lack of planning, inviting more people than what was wise and affordable, a case of naively just wishing for the best.

It is far easier to get more water then to get more wine, especially when it is late, too late to get 700 more bottles of wine. What you do and who you turn to when you run out makes a big difference in life in general, but very much so at weddings and in the marriages that follow them.

When they put Jesus and his Mama on the guest-list? Why did they invite him and her? Not because they were famous, that came later. Who did they consider the most important guests? Sometimes we don’t realize how important God is until we run out, until the stores are closed, until the even the experts, the headwaiter, are at their wits end, are left scratching his head and worrying. Too often we make the VIP mistake, especially when we are in love.

It makes no sense to try to fix a running out of wine problem with filling the empty bottles with water. Funny, marriage, especially in our culture, is a step of faith, “I’ll love you forever, for better and worse, to the end of my days,” that’s stepping out in faith, all the variables, statistics, and complete uncertainties be damned. But why not trust the Son of God with not just our weddings, but our marriages, all of our endeavors, our lives? When all we can do is fetch more water wouldn’t it be the very epitome of wisdom to turn to the one who knows how to turn water into wine?

The headwaiter was confused, you’re supposed to start with the good stuff and serve the cheap stuff when everyone is well schnuckered and can no longer tell the difference. I am sure that’s what happened at this wedding until Jesus did what he can do and turned what is normal upside down, confused the headwaiter, helped the party to continue, kept a wedding of an unknown couple from becoming a disaster, and made things turn out better than planned.

We can just keep sipping whatever we are sipping and when it runs out cry, complain, blame, bemoan, or make excuses as we sit among empty bottles, or we could can take our cue from Jesus Mama, she said, “Whatever He says to you, do it” John 2:5 (NASB), and find ourselves experience God’s incredible and miraculous best.

To God be all glory, Pastor Hans

 

 

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To whom shall I speak and give warning that they may hear? Behold, their ears are closed and they cannot listen. Behold, the word of the LORD has become a reproach to them; they have no delight in it. Jeremiah 6:10 (NASB)

How’s your hearing? Especially when it comes to hearing God? I know, I know, it is easy to claim to have heard from God, it is quite another thing to actually have ears that are capable of listening to God. For the former all you have to do is say some words, for the latter you have to actually address your ability to hear.

Our physical ability to hear is impacted by host of things, trauma, genetics, illnesses, and age (No one told me that by middle age I would all but lose my ability to grow hair, except of course in my ears which all of the sudden are able to grow hair as quickly and as dense as a patch of bamboo. And how far does sound carry in a thick forest?).

What affects our spiritual ears, our ability to hear God?

  • Apathy. Not wanting to, not caring to hear from God. We don’t pay much attention to what we do not care about. We listen so much better to what is important to us.
  • Age. When we are young we are unfamiliar with the ways God speaks. As we get older it is not just unfamiliarity but also more and more things/“hairs” that impede and muffle God’s voice.
  • Filters. We develop filters through which we hear: cultural and sub-cultural filters, political filters, personal filters, religious/philosophical filters, interest filters, love and hate filters, and such. This filtering process limits God to speaking on only certain frequencies, on the channels we like, on the content we approve. It is tough to really hear God when we are busy censoring him.
  • Bones. Our ears don’t work well when we are mad, angry, bitter. When we are at odds with God it is difficult to hear him, when he allows the fire to burn us, evil to touch us, pain to torture us, injustice to cheat us, grief to strike us, or the inexplicable to happen to us or those who deeply care about without any good and satisfying explanation. It is so tough to hear while picking a bone.
  • Answers. There are few, if any, questions when we have all the answers and the more answers we have the more we usually talk and the less we listen. The more answers we have the more we claim to have it all figured out, the more we have all figure out the more we think others should listen, preferably to us, including God.
  • Noise. Try having a conversation at a rock concert, when the TV is blaring, with someone who has head phones on, in a crowded room. Try talking with someone who’s filled with worry, always in a hurry, constantly interrupted, or stuck in the trivial. Not to speak of some of things you read above under “bones.”
  • Inflexibility. Listening to God, being in a relationship with him requires faith and faith requires flexibility. In speaking to us God invites us to adjust ourselves, our lives to him. We like to have it the other way around, that’s why the more opinionated we are the less flexible we become. (I can already hear some objections, calls for theological clarification, but remember the topic of this p-note is listening to God.)

Oh how much I want you and me to be good at listening to God, to what he said through his Son Jesus Christ, when he speaks today by the Holy Spirit. Our lives are so much richer when we hear, when we know how to listen, especially to God.

“He who has ears, let him hear.” Matthew 13:9 (NASB)

 

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

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