Category Archives: Worship

The First Sight

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (Revelation 4:11)

 

The book of Revelation puzzles many who read it. It seems strange and sometimes bizarre. Many avoid the book because the contents elicit fear about the predictions of things to come. However, the book of Revelation is the only book of the Bible that promises a blessing to those who read, hear, and apply its contents. “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” (Revelation 1:3).

Revelation opens with the last remaining apostle of Jesus, the Apostle John, “in the Spirit the Lord’s Day.”[1] The Roman government arrested and exiled John to the prison island of Patmos for preaching the disruptive Gospel of Jesus Christ.[2]

The initial recipients of the book were seven churches in Asia Minor: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.[3] To these, the risen Christ addresses individual letters.[4] These churches existed in John’s day, but because of the commendations and reproofs Jesus gives to these churches, some have seen in them patterns of each throughout church history.

John then describes his first glimpse of Jesus as though in a vision. This is not the Jesus John remembers during His earthly ministry. This Jesus is awesome to behold. John says, “And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength” (Revelation 1:12-16). The dazzling sight caused John to fall at His feet in awestruck fear, but that tender, familiar voice reassured him of the One he loved. “… Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Revelation 1:17-18).

John saw Jesus in the midst of seven lampstands holding seven stars in His right hand. Jesus explained to him that the seven lampstands represented the seven churches and the seven stars represented the seven angels, i.e., messengers or pastors, of the seven churches.[5] The image reminds us that Jesus dwells among His churches and that He keeps and protects the pastors of His churches in His right hand (a position of power). This should also serve as a warning to pastors. Just as Jesus’ right hand protects His messengers, He also has the power to crush the pastor that fails in his responsibility to Jesus’ Bride, the Church.

As noted earlier, Jesus dictates direct messages to each of the seven churches. Immediately following the last word to the church of Laodicea, John looks up and sees an open door in heaven and hears a sound (Greek: phōnē) like that of a trumpet that said, “Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne” (Revelation 4:1-2, emphasis mine).

Many see the Rapture of the Church in these verses. John is commanded to “come up here” and “immediately” he sees the throne of God for the first time. From this point forward, the Church no longer appears on earth until Christ returns with His saints in Chapter 19.

There are many who teach that the Rapture is not taught in the Bible. They correctly argue that the word “rapture” appears nowhere in the Bible. However, neither do the words bible or trinity, yet no one will argue that these concepts are not taught in the Bible. “Rapture” translates the Greek word harpazō into the Latin raptus meaning “to seize; to catch away or up; to pluck, pull, or take by force”. This is what happened to John. He was on the earth and “immediately” he was caught away into the throne room of God.

Jesus gave us the first promise of the Rapture before going to the cross. He said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3, emphasis mine). Paul teaches of the time when the trumpet shall sound and our corrupt bodies will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. The dead in Christ will rise from their graves, and we who are alive will join them to meet Jesus in the air.[6]

John enters the presence of God and his first sight is the throne of God. The person seated on the throne appears not as a human or any other creature, but rather as a glorious splendor. Of Him, John says, “And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald” (Revelation 4:3). The Bible teaches that God has no human form, except in the form of Jesus. Jesus said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24, emphasis mine). John was given a privilege that even Moses (or anyone else for that matter) was denied. Moses, who spoke with God face-to-face as with a friend,[7] wanted to see God in His glory, but God denied his request, “And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live” (Exodus 33:20, emphasis mine). Yet, somehow John saw God in all of His glory and did not die. In our corrupt human bodies, we cannot withstand the glory of God’s presence. However, at the Rapture, our bodies will be transformed in such a way that we can be in the presence of God in His full glory and not be harmed, just like John.

The scene overwhelmed John. There were lightnings, thunders, and voices. Around the throne of God, John saw 24 thrones upon which seven elders sat wearing white robes and crowns of gold.[8] Some suppose these represent the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles. Others suggest that they merely represent believers of all the ages. In either case, the white robes represent the righteousness of Christ conferred on them. The golden crowns are stephanos, which are “victors crowns” awarded to them for conquering sin, not through their own righteousness, but through the blood of Christ.

John then sees seven lampstands around the throne defined as the “seven spirits of God” Some suggest that these seven lampstands represent seven attributes of the Holy Spirit as described by the prophet Isaiah. “And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him [i.e., Jesus], the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD” (Isaiah 11:2, emphasis mine). We know that the Holy Spirit indwells believers and thereby indwells the Church. In the first chapter, John sees Jesus in the midst of seven lampstands, which represent the churches. Now, these same lampstands (i.e., churches) are seen around the throne of God. I see the lampstands representing both the Holy Spirit and the churches wherein the Holy Spirit resides. The attributes described by Isaiah certainly apply as well.

Around the throne is a crystal sea. It is difficult to know what John saw in this. It is all strange and wonderful and beyond words to describe. John could only relate what he saw by his limited earthly vocabulary. But then he sees four strange creatures full of eyes and with six wings each. One “beast” had the head of a lion, the second the head of a calf, the third the head of a man, and the fourth the head of an eagle.[9] The eyes represent the omniscience of God and the four different heads represent all of God’s creatures: wild animals, domestic animals, human beings, and avian life. All of God’s creation never ceasing to praise Him day or night “saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8).

John then observed that when these praised God, the 24 elders prostrate themselves and cast their victor’s crowns before the throne saying, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11).

With the focus on the throne, John spots something new. “And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals” (Revelation 5:1, emphasis mine). By its description, we know that this “book” is actually a scroll – perhaps parchment – with writing on both sides, rolled up and secured with seven seals. Many suggest that this scroll represents the title dead to the earth and the kingdoms thereof. When God created the earth, He gave dominion over the earth to man whom He created in His image on the sixth day of creation.[10] However, man lost that dominion when he sinned in the Garden of Eden.[11] The dominion of earth transferred to Satan. Paul calls him the “god of this world.”[12] When Satan tempted Jesus, he offered Jesus the kingdoms of this world if He would only bow down and worship him. “And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it” (Luke 4:6, emphasis mine). However, his ownership is only temporary.

Then John saw and heard a strong angel proclaim, “Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?” (Revelation 5:2). And no one in heaven, on earth, or under the earth was found worthy to take the scroll and break the seals. The situation was dire indeed. All of God’s creation hung in the balance and there was no one to come to the rescue. John says, “And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon” (Revelation 5:4).

John’s tears were soon assuaged. “And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof,” John says, “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth” (Revelation 5:5-6). John the Baptist saw this Lamb come to him to be baptized in the Jordan and proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He was slain on the cross, was buried in a borrowed tomb, and rose again on the third day.[13] Horns represent kingdoms and the Lamb has seven representing completion. All the kingdoms belong to Him. He is “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:16). Seven eyes suggest omniscience with all the attributes of the seven Spirits of God.

Only the Lamb, by virtue of His sacrifice, is worthy to take and open the scroll. “And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne” (Revelation 5:7). When the Lamb took the scroll, a great celebration broke out in heaven. The four living creatures and the 24 elders prostrate themselves before the Lamb. “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10).

Then the rest of heaven breaks out in praise, “Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (Revelation 5:12-13).

Worthy indeed! I cannot imagine how John must have felt at the first sight of heaven and the throne of God. I cannot wait to see it for myself!

The 14 chapters that follow bring us back to earth and the events that will transpire during the seven-year Tribulation. The scenes are horrific. However, the Church, the Bride of Christ, will not experience the horrors of the Tribulation. The Church, as we saw will be around the throne of God and not on earth. Will you be there or will you experience the horrors that are coming upon the earth? Your ticket out of here was purchased by Jesus more than 2000 years ago. All you have to do is accept it. Check out my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Revelation 1:10

[2]  Revelation 1:9

[3]  Revelation 1:11

[4]  Revelation 2-3

[5]  Revelation 1:20

[6]  1 Corinthians 15:50-53; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

[7]  Exodus 33:11

[8]  Revelation 4:4

[9]  Revelation 4:6-8

[10]  Genesis 1:26-28

[11]  Genesis 3

[12]  2 Corinthians 4:4

[13]  1 Corinthians 15:3-4

1 Comment

Filed under Apologetics, Bible, Christianity, End Times, Eschatology, Gospel, Heaven, Holy Spirit, Origins, Rapture, Resurrection, Satan, Second Coming of Christ, Theology, Worship

Transformed Not Conformed

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)

As our world grows continually darker, it becomes more and more difficult to distinguish between Christians and non-believers. Surely one can find “Christians” in church, but how about outside the walls of the church? Can you spot them? Very often, no clear distinction exists. Christians, by and large, behave much like unbelievers and often one will find non-believers doing “Christian” good deeds.

Vladimir Putin mounted his righteous steed and recently criticized the “west” – mainly the United States – for the immorality it was exporting to the rest of the world: homosexuality, pedophilia, pornography, gender dysphoria, abortion, etc. These sins provoke his hatred for the west, and he wants to protect Russia from such evil. His strong talk makes one think Putin is a righteous man and perhaps a strong Christian. His speech really puts us to shame. However, do not let his righteous blather fool you. Putin is a cold-blooded killer who has no regard for human life and has no problem killing innocent people.

One cannot judge the condition of a man’s heart by the words that exit his lips. On the other hand, one cannot necessarily judge a man’s heart by his “good” deeds “for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Galatians 2:16).

Yet, for the Christian, God has a standard of conduct that He expects from His children. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9, emphasis mine). Royalty carries with it certain expectations. “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [i.e., “life conduct”]; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16, emphasis mine). To be “holy” simply means to be set apart from the world; to be “consecrated,” i.e., set aside for the service of God.

So, there should be a clear distinction between a Christian and a non-believer. We may dress like the world – hopefully in modesty and not in a way to call attention to ourselves. However, the likeness should stop there. A Christian should not exhibit fear because of world conditions knowing that our Lord and our Redemption is very near; that should be a cause for joy, not dread. Our faces should express deep joy and peace. Our speech should be pure and free of profanity. “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful [i.e., “full of pit/compassion”], be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:8-9). More could be added to the list, but this should make the point.

How does one accomplish such a feat? Certainly not in our own strength or by our own efforts. Paul gives us the simple formula in our starting verses (Romans 12:1-2). Paul says to “present” your bodies. The word in the Greek means “to place a person or thing at one’s disposal.” Your body is that thing that transports your soul from place to place and is often the thing that carries you into sin by “the lust of the flesh” (1 John 2:16). We need to place our bodies at God’s disposal.

Your body needs to be a “living sacrifice.” Normally, a sacrifice must die. Paul says, “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:19-20, emphasis mine). We are dead to sin and the law, but we are alive through faith in Christ who died for us. Hence, our sacrifice is a “living” one, and a “holy” one that is set apart for God.

Understanding what Jesus did on our behalf, it is logical (“reasonable”) that we should render our service or “worship” to God, and this is a pleasing and “acceptable” sacrifice or offering to Him.

In order to offer God an “acceptable” sacrifice, we must not “conform” or take the shape of this world. “World” translates the Greek word aiōn, meaning “an age.” “The word used here properly denotes an age, or generation of people.”[1] Do not allow this age, this world in which we live, to mold you into its form. Rather, be “transformed,” (i.e., metamorphosed) by the renewing of your mind. There is a new adage for the computer age that says “garbage in, garbage out.” What you put into your mind affects much of what you think and do. So, the opposite is also true: good things in/ good things out. That comes through the constant feeding on God’s Word and prayer. When you do this, you will “prove” (i.e., “test”) “what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”

What is the “will of God”? “For whom [God] did foreknow [i.e., “His children], he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29, emphasis mine). Do you want to know what God’s will is for your life? There it is! His will is that you be “conformed,” not to this world, but to the “image of His Son.”

What shape have you taken on, that of the world or that of Christ? Please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life” and make sure you are in the right shape.

Notes:

[1]  “Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible”

Comments Off on Transformed Not Conformed

Filed under Apologetics, Bible, Christianity, Gospel, Salvation, Theology, Worship

Four Hundred Years

And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will. (Leviticus 22:29)

November 11, 2020 commemorated the landing of the merchant ship Mayflower at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts. She left port at Southampton on September 16, 1620 with 102 Pilgrims and about 30 crew members onboard and arrived in the “Promised Land” about three months later.

Before setting foot on the new land, and because Plymouth was not their intended destination, the Pilgrims convened to establish an agreement for self-governance of the colony. That document, known as the Mayflower Compact, served as a model for the founding documents of our nation. The first sentence of that document, following all the legal formal language, stated the purpose of the colony, i.e., “Having undertaken for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith…”

The small band arrived in the harshest of New England winters. They were unable to build suitable shelters, so they spent the winter onboard the Mayflower. By the time they finally disembarked at the end of March 1621, almost half of their company had died of a contagious disease described as a mixture of scurvy, pneumonia, and tuberculosis.

Once on land and with the help of some Indians, they planted crops and built houses for themselves. At harvest time (the date is not recorded), they joined together with the Indian tribes that helped them to offer thanksgiving to God for providing for them even through extremely difficult times.

The Pilgrims did not celebrate a particular day of thanksgiving; rather, they made a practice of thanking God daily for His care and provision – a practice we all should follow. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15)

We should offer God our sacrifice of thanksgiving daily, not just on the fourth Thursday of November.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Comments Off on Four Hundred Years

Filed under Christianity, Holidays, Random Musings, Thanksgiving, Worship

Fear

For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. (Isaiah 41:13)

Dictionary.Com defines “fear”[1] as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.” Note, first of all, that fear is an “emotion;” thus it is subject to irrationality. Note also that fear can be stirred up by a sense of “impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.” Fear is rational when the danger is real as in the case of a physical attack. Fear is irrational when the danger is imagined as in the case of less than a 1% chance of catching COVID-19. In either case, the emotion of fear can cause us to react in an irrational manner.

We can prepare ourselves to confront fear rationally by training for a variety of scenarios. We can prepare for a physical attack by taking self-defense classes and practicing, at least mentally, for different situations in which we may come under attack. Our military and police do this on a regular basis so that when they come under threat, they can respond rationally to a fearful situation.

In the case of COVID-19, or any disease that may afflict us, we can prepare ourselves mentally with information, so that we can take proper and sensible precautions. The danger of COVID-19 is real, but it is not a threat to everyone. Ninety-nine percent of the population will not contract the virus. Yet the media bombard us daily with increased percentages of “cases” of COVID – not deaths, only “cases.” When they report a 50% increase in cases, that sounds like a lot, but they never report on what the percentages are based. Does 50% mean half of the entire population or only half of what was previously reported? Such careless reporting serves only to feed the fear in the audience who by and large do not exercise critical thinking when listening to news reports.

And how accurate are the tests anyway? Recently, Elon Musk tested positive and negative for COVID-19.[2] He tested four times. Two tests returned positive results and two tests returned negative results. With inconclusive results, he still has no idea if he really has had the virus.

By the way, has anyone, besides me, noticed that no flu deaths have been reported by the media this year? Yet, “During the 2019-2020 influenza season, CDC estimates that influenza was associated with 38 million illnesses, 18 million medical visits, 405,000 hospitalizations, and 22,000 deaths”[3] compared to 34,200 deaths in 2018-2019.[4]  Why do we not hear about flu deaths? Could it be that the flu is less sensational?

As for deaths from COVID-19, only 6% of the deaths associated with the novel coronavirus died solely from the virus, the rest were brought about by other underlying conditions. In an article by “LiveScience” attempting to debunk the social media claim “that ‘only 6%’ of the reported COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are solely attributable to the new coronavirus,” the writer seems to validate the claim. He says,

This claim stems from an Aug. 26 update the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) posted on its website, which provides a detailed breakdown of the accompanying health conditions (known as comorbidities) and contributing causes of death reported in people who have died of the new coronavirus in the United States. The CDC noted that “For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned.”

In other words, 6% of people who died when they had COVID-19 didn’t have underlying conditions, such as diabetes, asthma or heart disease, and didn’t experience any medical complications, such as kidney failure or sepsis. But the other 94% of deaths were still caused by COVID-19, infectious disease experts said. That’s because many chronic, underlying conditions can make diseases that a person might otherwise recover from, such as COVID-19, suddenly deadly.[5] (Emphasis mine)

The fact remains that of those that have died with COVID-19, only 6% died solely of COVID-19. The claim (in bold above) that the other deaths were “caused by COVID-19” is misleading. The deaths were caused by multiple complications including COVID-19.

A Google search on “Current COVID Deaths” reported 245,000 deaths with COVID-19 to death – at 6%, only 1470 from COVID only compared to 22,000 deaths from the flu. The current population of the United States is 328,200,000. Using simple math to calculate the percentage of the population that has died with COVID-19, results in an unimpressive 0.0074649% of the population.

Each one of us has a 0.007% chance of dying with COVID-19, and only 6% of those have a chance of dying from COVID-19 alone.

Why are we living in fear over COVID-19? Why have our churches been restricted from exercising our First Amendment right to assemble and worship as we please? Why have our churches capitulated to unconstitutional mandates rather than adhere to God’s command that we not forsake our assembling together (Hebrews 10:25)? Why do we continue to succumb to the irrational edicts of those who only desire to exercise control over our lives?

I, for one, am tired of wearing masks. I am tired of social distancing. I am tired of going to church in limited numbers. I am tired of singing praises with my face covered and muted. I am tired of restricting the fellowship with my brothers and sisters to the church parking lot – at a social distance, of course. I am tired of all the senseless restrictions imposed by self-appointed demagogues pretending to have our best interest at heart. Stop with the fear-mongering!

I have heard it said that the Bible has 365 admonitions to “fear not”[6] – one for every day of the year. I have not counted them for myself, but they do seem to come up frequently in my reading. The first “fear not” appears in the Book of Genesis. There God tells Abram, “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” (Genesis 15:1). A shield protects us from incoming blows, and a reward is something we get for doing something right. What did Abram do that was right? “And he believed in the LORD; and [the LORD] counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). In the last book of the Bible, Jesus says to John, “Fear not; I am the first and the last” (Revelation 1:17). The Apostle Paul reminds Timothy, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). So, my brothers and sisters in Christ, why do we allow ourselves to get sucked into the fear over that which we cannot control?

C. S. Lewis once said, “If we are going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb [or the coronavirus], let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint [he wasn’t Baptist!] and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs [or COVID-19]. They may break our bodies (any microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”[7] That sounds like excellent advice to me!

Notes:


[1]  Fear – https://www.dictionary.com/browse/fear?s=t

[2]  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/13/world/does-elon-musk-have-the-coronavirus-after-four-tests-he-still-doesnt-know.html

[3]  https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/2019-2020.html#:~:text=During%20the%202019%2D2020%20influenza,405%2C000%20hospitalizations%2C%20and%2022%2C000%20deaths.

[4]  https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/2018-2019.html#:~:text=CDC%20estimates%20that%20the%20burden,from%20influenza%20(Table%201).

[5]  https://www.livescience.com/covid-19-comorbidities.html

[6]  “Fear Not” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/08/16/fear-not/

[7]  Martindale, Wayne & Jerry Root, The Quotable Lewis, (Tydale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Illinois, 1990), p. 606, quoting Present Concerns: Essays by C. S. Lewis, “On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948), para. 3, pp. 73-74.

1 Comment

Filed under Apologetics, Bible, Christianity, Current Events, Random Musings, Science, Theology, Worship

Reflections on the Washington 2020 Prayer March

Franklin Graham greets a crowd of over 50,000 prayer warriors to initiate the 2020 Prayer March in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

Franklin Graham held a Prayer March for our nation in Washington, DC on September 26, 2020. It seems that a lot has gone wrong with our nation. The steady erosion of our moral fiber started its decline decades ago, but in the last 20 years, and more so in this past year, the decline has taken an almost 90-degree plunge. At this point, no hope exists for a reversal of the trend — but God!

My brother, Eli, and I drove from Texas to participate in the prayer march. Early on Wednesday morning, September 23, 2020, I drove from Garland to Tyler to pick up Eli, and from there, we headed eastbound on I-20 to rendezvous with thousands of like-minded prayer warriors. We were on a mission from God to plead for our nation.

I take terrible selfies. If Eli (standing behind me) looks a little more handsome, it’s only because he is five years younger.

The extended weather forecast for Washington, DC on the 26th called for 60% chance of rain. We packed our ponchos determined to pray come rain or shine. With all the civil unrest and rioting across the nation, including DC, I maintained some concern about possible protests, perhaps even violent protests, against our efforts. However, as with 90% of our worries that never take place, not a drop of rain fell, although the sky remained overcast, nor did we see a single protestor. It was as if God put a protective shield around His people.

Waiting for our marching orders

I do not know why I should be surprised; I have experienced this hundreds of times throughout my life. Among the thousands of people there, I did not meet a single stranger. The bond of Christian fellowship was palpable, and the warmth of the Holy Spirit dispersed the slight chill in the air. It seemed to me as if God cupped His hands over the group to keep us safe from any harm. As we congregated at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, someone on a keyboard started playing and singing an old hymn. The congregation immediately joined in on all four stanzas. (I wish I could remember the titles.) Then the song leader started another old hymn and again the entire congregation joined in on all stanzas. After that, the song leader led in a couple of modern worship songs. The volume of singing went down considerably – not everyone knows the new songs — but with the oft-repeated phrases, the volume rose toward the end. The “song service” ended with four stanzas of “Amazing Grace.” The singing stirred my heart! I do not believe the angels in heaven could sound as good.

The Prayer March starting at the Lincoln Memorial and ending at the United States Capitol Building

After the singing, Franklin Graham came to the stand and announced that we had a surprise visitor. Vice President, Mike Pence and his wife Karen came and led the congregation in the opening prayer. Former Congresswoman, Michelle Bachman and Bishop Harry Jackson led in prayer, and when they were done, Rev. Graham asked us all to individually pray out loud. The sound of thousands of voices calling out to God was too incredible to express in human speech. It is awesome to know that God heard each and every prayer. Then our march started.

Praying every step of the way

We prayed every step of the way. From the Lincoln Memorial, we marched and prayed to the World War II Memorial, then to the Washington Monument, the White House, the National Museum of African American History & Culture, the National Archives, and finally to the U.S. Capitol. As we marched and prayed the words of a familiar chorus played over and over again in my head:

LORD, listen to Your children praying.
LORD, send Your Spirit in this place.
LORD, listen to Your children praying.
Send us love, send us power, send us grace.

Praying for our Legislators

We finally arrived at the Capitol Building where we prayed for our lawmakers. I know God wants us to pray. The Bible instructs us to pray for our leaders and those in authority over us. Many that came to pray, including me, asked God to forgive our nation for her sins and to turn our nation back to God. As I prayed, I rehearsed our national sins. In the 60’s we took prayer out of school and banned the Bible from our public education systems. We expelled God from the public square so that now the Democrat Party has stricken God out of their party platform. We have legalized the murder of unborn children and our national heart has hardened so much that even infanticide is acceptable in the process of partial-birth abortions. We have called good evil and evil good so that what used to be considered pedophilia is now acceptable, and we even teach it to our very young children. 

Our nation is sick, and I seriously wonder if God will answer our prayers in the way many of these brave prayer warriors expect. I recall the Prophet Jeremiah praying for his people as they tried God through their idolatry. Jeremiah prayed that God would spare Judah from the certain punishment they deserved. God spoke to Jeremiah and said, “Thus saith the LORD unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the LORD doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins. Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good” (Jeremiah 14:10-11).

Our nation has loved to wander away from God, and “have not refrained their feet.” Could it be that God will refuse to answer our prayers on behalf of our nation? Perhaps, but our mandate is still to pray and so we have and continue to pray. God has His plan and His plan will not fail. Consider that the United States of America is not found in prophecy although some would like it to be. For us, the over 50,000 prayer warriors that showed up to the Prayer March, our true citizenship is in heaven wherein we have our hope. Our hope is in Christ and in His return. His kingdom is a kingdom of eternal peace. Therein lies our hope.

Eli and I were blessed beyond measure to participate with thousands of our brothers and sisters in Christ in a loud call to God on behalf of our nation. We enjoyed warm fellowship with God’s family. I leave you with one final picture of my brother, the Marine.

Along the way we found a young man with his bulldog. The bulldog being the Marine mascot, Eli asked if he could get a picture with the “Devil Dog.” The young man was kind enough to grant his request!

If you would like to watch the entire Prayer March, click on this link: https://prayermarch2020.com/live/

2 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Holy Spirit, Prayer, Random Musings, Religion, Second Coming of Christ, Worship