Category Archives: Biblical relationships

2020: Why Be Thankful?

Photo by Hal Nixon on Pexels.com

By Heather Walton

This has been the worst year ever! COVID. Civil Unrest. Economic Collapse. Isolation. Shortages. Uncertainty. How can I be thankful?

Let’s remember that that the Apostle Paul admonished us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Paul had been through many tough things, including persecution, imprisonment, beatings, loss of friendship, anguish over the trials of the church, shipwreck, hunger, nakedness, and more.

It’s interesting that this admonition came in the midst of Paul’s teaching about the Day of the Lord. Prior to this verse about thanksgiving, Paul shared with the Thessalonian church that they were not to worry about those who had died missing the Lord’s return, and not to worry that those on the earth would miss it either. He also told them not to worry about when this would happen; instead, he focused them on how to live in the meantime.

He urged them to have self-control, to show brotherly love, to mind their own business, to encourage one another, to work, and to abstain from evil. He encouraged them to be at peace, to pray, to rejoice and give thanks. He told them not to quench the Spirit or to despise prophecies. His message was one of hope, peace, and unity.

And all of it came from the heart of a man who, by our standards of peace and safety, had a rough life. Not just a rough year. Decades of difficulty.

This man admonished us to live out our faith by being thankful in all circumstances. No exceptions.

This year has been challenging for everyone. Nobody has been exempt from the effects of the worldwide crises taking place in 2020, and it’s highly probable that 2021 will bring surprises and hardships of its own. Yet I am thankful.

I’m thankful for all the “good” things, of course — things like God, family, friends, shelter, food, and meaningful work. But it goes deeper than that this year.

I’m thankful for a lot of things I previously took for granted — things like toilet paper and gatherings with friends. But it goes deeper than that this year.

I’m thankful for the ability to creatively do things I used to do differently — things like teaching and tutoring online, grocery delivery, and curbside pickup. But it goes deeper than that this year.

I’m thankful for the hard things, the bad things, the irritating things:

  1. I’m thankful for the lockdown that brought my family home full-time and gave us time together that we never would have had otherwise, that taught us that we really don’t need nearly as much outside our four walls as we had thought.
  2. I’m thankful for our tyrannical governor, who has shown me how precious our freedoms are and given us a chance to realize that liberty is worth fighting for, that it is precious and should not be taken lightly.
  3. I’m thankful that Joe Biden appears to have won the election, because perhaps now evangelicals will take their eyes off a perceived political “savior” and turn their eyes on the one-and-only true Messiah.
  4. I’m thankful for the refining of the church, in which the true believers will come through stronger, and those who were just playing church are faced with making their faith real or simply walking away. This crisis has clarified allegiances and values.
  5. I’m thankful for the remnant community I’ve been united with in brotherly love, and I’m looking forward to what the Lord is going to do through this group of believers.
  6. I’m thankful that I’ve been drawn to search the Scriptures much more fervently, looking to see when the Lord may return, and how to live in the meantime.
  7. I’m thankful for a greater awareness of the socialistic, humanistic assault on God-given liberty and the understanding of the demonic forces behind it.
  8. I’m thankful that the uncertainty and unrest has made me much less attached to this world and increasingly aware of my heavenly citizenship.

Today we remember a group of Pilgrims and a group of Native Americans who came together, though they had many differences, and gave thanks to God for the simple provision of food, which allowed them to live just a little longer. May we be thankful for the simple things as well. May we be thankful for the good things, the things previously taken for granted, the ability to creatively do things differently, and yes, even the hard, bad, and irritating things.

Happy Thanksgiving 2020 to all!

Who Among Us Will Stand?

https://hebringsbeautyfromashes.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Who-Among-Us-Will-Stand.mp3
Audio version of this post

By Heather Walton

NEVER FORGET WHAT YOU SAW HERE

The Holocaust Museum stands as a testament that never again should we allow tyranny to intimidate us into submission to a government that seeks to destroy our fellow man, that seeks to take away our fundamental rights, that sinks headlong into atrocities and unfathomable crimes against humanity.

Imagine if you will that you had seen it coming. What would you have done? History stands as a witness that the German people — the German Christians — should have done more. Yet most did nothing as they witnessed an entire class of people become depersonified, demonized, dominated, and doomed to death.

This didn’t happen overnight, and it shouldn’t have happened at all.

And it mustn’t happen here.

Not on our watch.

Oh, but it’s not, you might say. We aren’t like the Germans before WWII. We would never allow what they did. Not us! We are enlightened. We believe in liberty, justice, and equality!

Do we? How easily will we give it all up for a little peace and safety? For a little prosperity? For a little health?

It would be intellectually dishonest to refuse to consider the implications of our collective consent to the tyrannical measures imposed to mitigate this virus. Indeed, it would be utter denial.

If you read the mainstream media, especially exclusively, you are being deceived. It is nothing but a steady stream of editorials designed to sway you to believe their thesis — that man is both the problem and the solution to the world’s problems, that we can fix what ails us, that there is no God but Caesar, and that we need the government to save us.

My fellow Americans, we have subsisted on a steady diet of propaganda for decades, and we have lost the ability to reason. If we don’t watch out, we will submit to, consent to, and perhaps even commit, terrible atrocities. (In fact, we do already.)

So what should we do? I’m glad you asked!

  1. Read. Research. Reflect.
  2. Consider that the media has a bias and an objective, and ask yourself if it aligns with yours.
  3. Seek out scholarly, peer-reviewed research about things like masks, vaccines, isolation, pandemics, and more.
  4. Consider why the government cares so much about this virus as opposed to others, especially things that cause more harm.
  5. Consider why certain people and activities are targeted and others aren’t. Are there commonalities?
  6. Start conversations. See if others are thinking as you are.
  7. Do the math on the virus. Compare the math to other illnesses and activities.
  8. Read about those who have stood against injustice.
  9. Read the Bible.

Then, if you think something just doesn’t add up, consider engaging in activities that could turn the tide against tyranny.

It doesn’t take much time and effort to call or email your representatives and governing officials. If you want to go deeper, consider how you can educate others and how you might stand up against injustice.

Even though my governor has taken many liberties with our freedom, that doesn’t mean I should submit. Indeed, I have chosen the path of resistance in multiple small ways over the past few months.

What about Romans 13, you ask? I believe many Christians are being shamed into submission by the use of a few carefully chosen verses of Scripture. Yes, we do need to submit to the governing authorities; however, people preach this, assuming that civil government is the highest law. If that is the case, to which civil government, and to which part of civil government do we give the highest degree of submission? The mayor? The governor? The court? The legislators? The president? The U.N.?

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Preamble to the Declaration of Independence (Emphasis Added)

According to our founding fathers, a higher Governor gives us our rights.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego agreed:

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Daniel 3:16-18 ESV (Empahsis Added)

Not only did these courageous men refuse to comply with Nebuchadnezzar’s edict, but they chose to do so regardless of the consequences. Likewise, Peter and John, when admonished not to preach about Christ, appealed to the ultimate Lawgiver:

And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.

Acts 5:27-29 (ESV)

Brothers and sisters, do we have such courage? Do we not see that our liberties are sacred, and no matter the rightness or wrongness of the suggested measures to combat this virus, the mandated countermeasures by principle are immoral. For the civil government to interfere with our personal freedoms, and especially our religious freedoms, is unconscionable and the potential consequences are horrifying.

I’m not debating the morality of mask-wearing, though I have made, and continue to make, a case against their efficacy and necessity. However, I am openly challenging the idea that the government is requiring us to cover our faces with cloth. More than that, I’m proclaiming that the government should not interfere with the church, with free speech, and with individual families’ decisions of whom or how many people to have in their homes. The government also should not dictate when people get tested for infectious diseases or demand to know with whom they’ve associated (unless a crime has been committed). And the civil authorities definitely should not be able to forcibly or coercively vaccinate anyone, child or adult, period.

For the civil government to interfere with our personal freedoms, and especially our religious freedoms, is unconscionable and the potential consequences are horrifying.

So I’ll ask again: Do we have the courage of our forefathers and the great men and women of faith throughout the ages? Will we stand against oppression and tyranny? Will we do this for our fellow man? Will we do it for our posterity?

Consider these words from the Declaration of Independence:

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness … But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Declaration of Independence (Emphasis added)

Our founders duty-bound us not to accept what is going on in our government today. They call out to us across history, and tell us that, when government challenges our fundamental rights, we should not allow it. They take it a step further, and say that such government must be overthrown! Are we there yet?

We have given in to the lie that Jesus was weak, that the Gospel is emasculated, impotent niceness that doesn’t mess with our daily lives. We forget the Jesus who challenged the money changers and the Pharisees, the Jesus who told Pilate he would have no power unless God allowed it, the Jesus who told us to give what is Caesar’s to Caesar and to God what is God’s.

We have given in to the lie that Jesus was weak, that the Gospel is emasculated, impotent niceness that doesn’t mess with our daily lives.

Our highest allegiance is to God, not to Caesar, and when the two conflict, we can cower and acquiesce to governors and kings, or we can stand with that great cloud of witnesses and defend our rights as God’s image-bearers, not because we are entitled, but because we are morally obligated to stand up against evil for the sake of our fellow citizens and the coming generations.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said this:

Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness and pride of power and with its plea for the weak. Christians are doing too little to make these points clear rather than too much. Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power. Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more, than they are doing now. Christians should take a stronger stand in favor of the weak rather than considering first the possible right of the strong.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Sermon on II Corinthians 12:9

Consider also that great cloud of witnesses listed in Hebrews 11, men and women who “were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16 ESV).

May we be worthy of that city by being the best caretakers of our God-given liberty as long as He gives us the strength to do so!

The Rise of Socialism and the Case for Civil Disobedience

from https://factfile.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Dietrich-Bonhoeffer-Quotes.jpg

By Heather Walton

I have heard Christians say that we should stay completely out of “politics.” As I’ve prayerfully considered this stance, I’ve found it lacking. Instead, my dual citizenship compels me that, in order to truly be heavenly minded, I must also be of earthly good. Just because Jesus is coming, and hopefully coming soon, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be about His business until the very day the trumpet sounds or He takes me home.

My dual citizenship compels me that, in order to truly be heavenly minded, I must also be of earthly good.

Some have said that America is done, past the point of no return, and that we just need to let events play out. While I would agree that it appears that the sun is setting on our beloved republic, and that it is only a matter of time before we willingly submit to socialism, and subsequently join hands with the coming “new world order,” that doesn’t mean it’s time to give up.

Consider the parable of the talents: The master left three servants in charge of various amounts of his wealth. Two servants invested his money wisely and brought a return, and were therefore rewarded. The third, who feared his master, buried the talent apportioned to him, rather than making it work for his master until his return. As a result, he was disinherited and his talent given to another. Only recently did I realize that Jesus shared this parable in the context of end times prophecy. Church, we are not to bury our talents as we await our master’s return! We are to be about our Master’s business until the very last second.

If, instead, we as the church, forfeit the culture war, the war for the very soul of our nation, and the very soul of the church itself, with the excuse that “our citizenship is in heaven,” we should be charged with spiritual treason. He has called us to “rescue those being led to the slaughter,” to hold back evil, to warn the sinner, to admonish the saint, to subdue the earth, to, like our Creator, in whose image we were formed, use our gifts and talents, not to bury them as we await His return. This does not mean our hope is in this world; rather, unless our faith is evidenced by these actions, how are we to draw all men to Him, and ultimately to that eternal reward He desires for them. If the ministers, missionaries, and apostles of old, would have had the attitude that the culture is lost and we simply need to submit to ungodly authority as we await our heavenly Savior’s return, where would the Kingdom of God be today? Would this country even exist?

If, instead, we as the church, forfeit the culture war, the war for the very soul of our nation, and the very soul of the church of itself, with the excuse that “our citizenship is in heaven,” we should be charged with spiritual treason.

Think of men like William Wilberforce, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Patrick Henry, and George Washington. Think of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men were heroes because they refused to submit to tyranny, and because they instead stood against tyrants on behalf of those who could not stand up or who would not stand up for themselves. They were not necessarily considered heroes by their peers during that time, yet they risked their reputations, their livelihoods, and their very lives for the righteous causes to which they had been called.

“Well, these men were exemplary in their time,” you might say. “They were specially gifted and called by God for those tasks.” Yes and no. We are all plainly called to “love mercy, practice justice, and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8), “to rescue the orphan and widow in their distress and to live lives unstained by the world” (James 1:27), and to “rescue those being led away to the slaughter” (Proverbs 24:11). These admonitions are for all believers, not a select few. We consider these men to be extraordinary, but only because we have settled for mediocrity in the Kingdom of God. We now view ordinary Christianity as extraordinary, or perhaps even as sin.

“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”

Isaiah 1:17 ESV

The American church has so watered down the Gospel that countless souls are deluded into the illusion of justification before a holy God; unless we sound the alarm boldly and unwaveringly, their blood will be on our hands.

Perhaps it is because of this watering down that we have bought into such heresies as the social justice gospel, which tells us that man can cure the world’s ills without requiring repentance, easy believism, which gives us Jesus as Savior while neglecting His Lordship, and “open and affirming” faith communities, which deny essential scriptural truths.

We now view ordinary Christianity as extraordinary, or perhaps even as sin.

Perhaps it is because of this watering down that we have believed the lie that we need to keep our faith private and not speak into the culture. That there are two realms — the sacred and the secular. Not at all! Either Jesus is our life and governs every aspect, or we are not alive in Christ at all!

If the Gospel hasn’t changed our lives, we haven’t accepted it, and are not beneficiaries of His grace. This is sobering, as it should be. We are called to examine ourselves in light of the Gospel, and judge ourselves, not by our peers’ actions and reactions, but by the Word of God. If we are not in line with it, if we are offended by it, if we are unwilling to live by it, we would be presumptuous to trust our eternal security.

Do we live our lives worthy of this very Gospel? Does our faith cost us anything? Should it perhaps cost us everything? In attempting to keep our lives, we lose them, but in losing our lives for Jesus’ sake and for His Gospel, we gain an eternal glory to which nothing in this world compares.

We have allowed a stunning degree of apostasy into the church. We have played the harlot with the gods of this world. We have trampled the grace of God with the foulest of sins, and we have failed to reprove — and worse, even given hearty approval to — those who prostitute themselves to an Americanized “grace.” In doing so, we have baptized converts into the very gates of hell. For this, we must give an account. From this, we must repent.

Christians, our country is falling fast into an evil that steals, kills, and destroys. That evil is socialism, an ideology devoid of God, an ideology that dictators have used to rise to power at the expense of the vulnerable. Do the names Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler bring up any hint of virtue? No, these men are considered an anathema in the rolls of history. These men were all socialists, communists, Marxists.

Socialism, a pretty name for Marxism, is purely evil. Today it may look like the government is doing some good things that fall in the realm of socialism, but don’t be deceived. Consider public education: isn’t it a good thing? How would our children learn to read and write and do math otherwise? How would they become responsible citizens otherwise? What about the poor who can’t afford private schools?

Don’t fall for it!

Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.

Vladmir Lenin

“He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.”

Adolf Hitler

John Dewey, father of modern public schools, believed that the best way to change the society for the better was through education. As a religious humanist, Dewey believed it was the duty of the schools and other social institutions to transform society, from what he saw as the antiquated traditional model embraced by theists, to a modern secular society ruled by pragmatism and a devotion to community ideals.

Public schools are a socialist construct. Before the state ran public schools, the church offered free education to those who were able to partake. Others were home educated in academics, practical skills, vocations, or a combination. The humanistic, socialistic takeover of schools was by design, and as a result, we have ridden the slippery slope into a pit of immorality and decadence, and our children can not understand the Bible or the Constitution, and they scoff at both. Government has no place in educating our children; it is our responsibility as the church and as the family.

The result of the slide into socialism is that we now are canceled as old-fashioned, homophobes, closed-minded, delusional bigots who are out of touch with reality. In many cases, our neighbors, family members, friends, and even our own children have developed animosity and bitterness toward us, but more importantly toward the God that created them. Yet, some still spout scripture to justify their attitudes and action, and they even use it against us.

For example, in my home state, our governor regularly cites his faith as reason to implement tyrannical measures to “fight the coronavirus,” yet this same man defies the God he cites allegiance to by celebrating homosexuality and abortion. This man who alleges to personally feel the pain of every loss to this virus has no problem severing the livelihoods of healthy people and shaming those who don’t agree. He tramples liberty and belittles those who disagree.

Submitting to unjust laws is not Biblical. Should the German Christians have submitted to Hitler? Of course not! But it was a gradual descent, one that they probably didn’t see because it started out subtle and continued subtly until they got to a point of no return. It likely would have been hard to recognize as it was happening, unless they were really paying attention. In saying that, I’m not likening any of our government officials to Hitler, but I’m simply saying that, if the German Christians would have seen the whole picture from the beginning, perhaps they would not have submitted to the gradual steps that got them to the horrific place they ended up.

I don’t believe this nation has much longer. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to hold back the darkness as long as we can. I don’t necessarily mean to take up arms. But I do mean that I will not submit to unjust mandates if it is in my power to resist, and I’m not doing it to “demand my rights,” but instead to demand your God-given, Constitutionally-affirmed, rights as His image-bearers. If that makes me unpopular, or if it brings me difficult consequences, so be it. Regardless of how one feels about liberty, it is an absolute, and I won’t give up our collective liberties without resistance.

Perspectives on the current crisis and coming cure

By Heather Walton

“I can’t believe this is America!” I’m not sure how many times I’ve said that in the past few weeks. This country is becoming decreasingly recognizable as the America I grew up in, as the America I committed to defend, as the America I once took great pride in.

Lockdowns, mandates, rioting, talk of a coming mandatory vaccine. Chaos around every corner.

Nothing is more shocking than the covert rise of socialism that has suddenly emerged into plain sight and that looms close on the horizon. How did this happen? Why do young people (and old) think this is okay?

We could analyze this from a historical perspective and trace the roots back to Darwin, Nietzsche, Marx, Dewey, and countless American Socialists/Humanists throughout the generations. The tentacles of this beast are pervasive and destructive.

We could analyze this from a political perspective and defend the free market economy from philosophical, economic, and biblical viewpoints, and we would see that socialism doesn’t work.

Instead, I would like to analyze this from a worldview perspective. How is it that our society has bought into the lie that we can create a Utopia where there is no poverty, no inequality, no difficulty? Where the government owes us peace, prosperity, and health? Where we allow a few to dictate to the majority of us that we are politically incorrect, homophobic, bigoted, privileged, and flat-out wrong if we have biblical values? Where trees and insects are more valuable than people? Where feelings dictate our perceived reality, and facts no longer matter? Where we fear the whims of children and ignore the wisdom of the elderly?

This is by design. The enemy masquerades as an angel of light and has deceived the whole world into thinking that humans can solve their own problems, that God is dead, that we evolved from primordial goo, that this life is all there is, and that we must therefore do everything we can to make it everything we can while we’re here. “You only live once! Follow your heart! Live your dreams! Live and let live! Love who you want!”

This year has been shocking to many, but it didn’t come out of nowhere. The world has been working toward this chaos for many years, and this chaos is part of the process of our evolution toward the grand finale, in which a cosmic battle will conclude.

There is a Satanic plot to steal, kill, and destroy, and that plot has been unfolding since the Garden of Eden. Today we see it manifested in so many ways, including blatant deception through the media and education, election fraud, division on every imaginable and created issue, and worldwide civil unrest. The devil and those he has deceived into working for his agenda are creating mass chaos so that they can be false saviors who bring order from chaos.

The Bible tells us that one day Jesus will return for his bride, the church. When He returns, we need to be ready. Church, be ready! He is coming soon. How soon? That’s a mystery. The Bible tells us we won’t know the day or the hour, that He will come like a thief in the night, that it will be sudden. However, we should recognize the season, but we have to be paying attention, and we have to guard our relationship with God as the day grows closer.

We are told to endure to the end, and we are warned a great falling away of believers in the last days. No matter what lies ahead — persecution, tribulation, martyrdom — we must be steadfast. There is nothing more precious or prized than our eternity, and nothing is worth missing the riches of an eternal home with our Savior.

There is one cure for what ails our nation — Jesus. That is all. Sound simplistic? Perhaps. It is a simple answer, yet not an easy one.

Many people believe that turning to Jesus is as simple as inviting Him into your life as your Savior. While this is part of it, this would be what Dietrich Bonhoeffer referred to as “cheap grace.”

According to Bonhoeffer, who was martyred for his stand against Hitler, grace is costly. It was costly to Christ, of course, but it also is costly to those of us who partake.

“The grace he (Martin Luther) had received was a costly grace. It was grace, for it was like water on parched ground, comfort in tribulation, freedom from bondage of a self-chosen way, and forgiveness of all his sins. And it was costly, for, so far from dispensing him from good works, it meant that he must take the call to discipleship more seriously than ever before. It was grace because it cost so much, and it cost so much because it was grace.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (italics mine)

The American church has cheapened the concept of grace by, whether purposefully or inadvertently, deluding people into believing that they can simply say a quick prayer, asking Jesus to be their Savior, and then continue business as usual. Brothers and sisters, may we never be guilty of this heresy!

We are told in Romans 10:9-10 (ESV), “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (emphasis mine). Lord means master, one who is in charge. Servants submit to their lord’s will and order their lives according to his wishes; they do not tell him what they will do or not do; they do not tell him what his orders mean or what he demands; they do not shape him according to their image and likeness. Their works don’t make them his servants; on the contrary, they do his work because he is their lord.

We are called to be disciples, which means students. We are to study our master and to emulate Him, and we are to teach the next generation to do the same. The Bible is clear about many matters of morality. If we choose to dismiss this divine instruction, we should not delude ourselves into thinking that Jesus is our Lord. And if He is not our Lord, then we serve the god of this age, the devil.

Make no mistake: Things in this world will get worse, and it will be increasingly difficult to live out the Christian life. The church must be steadfast. It may require everything we have, including our lives. Whether or not we are martyred in Christ’s name, we are to willingly die to ourselves daily, every day we have breath in our lungs.

The future of this nation and this world are bleak, yet we await a kingdom not of this world. In the meantime, we are called to shine forth as gold, to share the true Gospel, and to serve our fellow man. We are to worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth. And we are to “love mercy, practice justice, and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8).

The current and coming crisis are the result of man’s sinfulness, for which there is one and only cure: the costly grace of the risen Christ! If you don’t know Him, I urge you to repent and surrender to Him today. If you do know Him, yet aren’t following Him as fully as you ought, I urge you to repent and surrender to Him today. This is the cure to all crises, both temporal and eternal.

Are We in the End Times? (Part 2)

By Heather Walton

This is the second article in a series about the End Times. I highly recommend reading this article first.

I enjoy studying prophesy because I love to see God’s plan unfold, and it’s exciting to think that Jesus Christ could come for the church in my lifetime, that I may not actually have to die in order to go to heaven. To think the God may have chosen me to live in this particular time in history is thrilling. In Acts 17:26, we learn that God determines when and where each of us fits into His eternal tapestry. I trust that He has placed me exactly in this time and place for a purpose, and I’ll consider it a bonus if I get to be one of the ones who gets to be taken to heaven while still alive.

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 ESV

I have long wondered if I might be part of the generation that gets to be on the earth when the Rapture takes place, but recent world events have brought me to a greater degree of anticipation. Signs of the times have been appearing a long time, and we have been in the “last days,” since Jesus ascended into heaven. But I’m specifically referring to the very last days, the end times.

In Matthew 24, we are told that many people will be taken by surprise, simply living life, marrying, eating, drinking, working, going on with business as usual. And suddenly two people will be working together or lying down together and one will suddenly be gone. Jesus says that the hour he comes will be unexpected, but, like in the Jewish wedding custom, we should be able to tell when the time is getting close for the groom, Jesus, to come get His bride, the church.

Many people are looking hard for certain signs that will only be fully revealed after the rapture takes place, such as the identity of the antichrist or the mark of the beast. While there are some people and things that strongly appear to have the potential to fulfill these prophesies, I don’t believe we will be able to know for sure before the one who holds the man of lawlessness back, the Holy Spirit, is taken out of the world via the church’s disappearance from the earth in the rapture (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7).

The spirit of the antichrist has been at work since the Garden of Eden, when Satan said to Eve, “Did God really say that you can’t eat from any tree in the garden” (Genesis 3:1)? There are some noteworthy elements of this question. First, he got her to question God. Second, he subtly twisted God’s words, so that there was an element of truth, yet it was mixed with a lie. A truth mixed with a lie is a lie, because partial truth is no truth at all. Third, he took his question to Eve, rather than Adam, probably in part because she hadn’t heard directly from God; this was a way to get her to question God, as well as her husband. Fourth, this question was designed to get Eve to doubt God’s goodness, and to make her feel oppressed.

Satan followed up with, “He knows if you eat of it, you won’t surely die, but you will become like Him, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4). In other words, Eve, honey, He’s holding out on you. He’s oppressing you. In fact, he’s lying to you. He wants to keep all the power for Himself. But you deserve better, don’t you? You know, I have a solution: if you eat this fruit, you won’t die; on the contrary, you’ll be like God, and you can get out from under His oppressive yoke and get what’s due you. Doesn’t that sound good? Come on, darling, just one bite and you can be your own god.

He appealed to her emotions, he lied to her, and he created discontent in her, in order to compel her to action. He created a false gospel that we see alive and well today; he tempted her to believe that she could solve her own problems, in her own power, that she didn’t need God, and that she would not only escape the consequences God had laid out, but would instead be rewarded for going against God’s design. Not all who buy into these humanistic lies are atheists, but they operate in various degrees of functional atheism, depending on human solutions and achievements to solve the world’s problems. This, I believe, is the spirit of the antichrist that is in the world.

The mark of the beast is symbolized by the number 666 (Revelation 13:18). Since perfection in Scripture is symbolized by the number seven, six falls just short of that. Notice that Satan’s lies in the garden were close to the truth, but had a subtle difference, one you would have to be very attentive to notice. The devil is clever, “masquerading as an angel of light” (2 Thessalonians 11:14), and his tactics have an appearance of godliness, yet deny its power (2 Timothy 3:5). The doctrine of humanism fits this description well.

While humanism fits the principles of the spirit of the antichrist and the mark of the beast, I also believe there will be a literal man who culminates history by embodying the spirit of the antichrist, being possessed by Satan himself (Daniel 7:25; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; 1 John 2:18). I also believe that there will be a literal mark of the beast, which people will be required to have in order to buy and sell (Revelation 13:16-18; Revelation 19:20). I believe the antichrist is alive today and ready to step onto the world stage, and the technology to implement the mark of the beast is in development. I don’t know exactly who the antichrist is, or what the mark will be, but I can see several players emerging and multiple technological possibilities.

The books of Daniel and Revelation (Daniel 7:24; Revelation 13:1-18) tell us of 10 kingdoms, with 3 dominant kingdoms, and 1 leader emerging. People have long thought these 10 kingdoms are 10 countries, but I would like to propose a different possibility. I believe these 10 kingdoms may be 10 global organizations, committed to bringing about a unified governing body that will solve the world’s problems. There are multiple global organizations working toward a common goal of ushering in world peace, ending hunger and poverty, bringing about health reforms, lowering the population, creating imposed equality, reversing climate change, and creating a united human community. While these may sound like excellent goals, they propose humanistic means to meet humanistic ends.

The United Nations’ 2030 sustainable development goals, the pope’s Human Fraternity initiative, the World Economic Forum’s “Great Reset,” the World Health Organization’s Constitution, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s core beliefs, Babylon Health’s “accessible and affordable health care,” the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, the World Bank, the Open Society Foundation and the World Trade Organization are among the global players with a humanistic agenda. Many, if not all, see needs for global unity and collaboration in order to usher in an era of peace, equity, and health for all people.

The current worldwide health crisis provides an opportunity to advance the agenda of these and other likeminded organizations. The World Economic Forum published an article this week that detailed how the COVID-19 crisis can facilitate a “global reset.”

“We set up a new world order after World War II. We’re now in a different world than we were then. We need to ask, what can we be doing differently? The World Economic Forum has a big responsibility in that as well – to be pushing the reset button and looking at how to create well-being for people and for the Earth.”

Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director of Greenpeace International https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/06/covid19-great-reset-gita-gopinath-jennifer-morgan-sharan-burrow-climate/

The global health situation has not actually changed the world, but has revealed what was already going on behind the scenes. Many refuse to see what’s taking place, or they see these initiatives as good. Again, there is an appearance of godliness. The problem is that humanistic solutions provide a false gospel, one that says we can save ourselves. They don’t require that we denounce faith in the god of our choice, even the true God, as long as that faith leaves room for us to also bow down to the gods of human achievement, personal entitlement, and political correctness, to name a few. The problem is that God refuses to share His glory with another. He is a jealous God, requiring our complete allegiance. Just as a loving parent doesn’t consider partial obedience to be true obedience, neither does our Creator consider partial allegiance to be acceptable worship.

Jesus said we are either for Him or against Him (Matthew 12:30). Those who are with Him, who truly follow Him, will spend eternity with Him, but those who deny Him or are lukewarm in their devotion will spend eternity separated from Him (Matthew 7:21; Matthew 10:33; John 3:16-18; Revelation 3:14-22). In light of this, we should examine ourselves. The time is short. Even if the rapture doesn’t take place anytime soon, though I believe it will, any of us could die at any time. That’s why those of us who know the Lord need to be intentional and passionate about sharing the Gospel and discipling others (Matthew 28:16-20; Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5) and who those who don’t yet know Him need to confess their sin, turn from their wicked ways (even though they may seem like “good” people), confess Jesus as Lord, and allow Him to guide their thoughts and decisions from now on (Acts 2:38; Acts 4:12; John 14:6; Acts 16:31; Titus 3:5; Romans 3:23; Romans 10:9-10).

Whether you’re reading this before or after the rapture of the church, it’s important to recognize that humanism doesn’t solve our problems because we don’t have the control we think we do. If there’s anything these times should teach us, it’s that we are not as powerful as we think we are. The only wise way to deal with this truth is to humbly accept it, and then to accept the grace God freely gives, to worship Him, and to serve others for their good and His glory.

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Revelation 22:17 ESV

Are We in the End Times? (Part 1)

By Heather Walton

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you.  For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 ESV)

For many years, even centuries, people have been hypothesizing about the Lord’s return and other end times events. Some people living in the decades following Christ’s ascension had to be admonished to work and live their lives, rather than sitting on their roof tops, searching the skies for Jesus. But with recent world events, it’s natural to wonder if we truly are living in the last days.

No matter whether Christ returns in five minutes or 5 millennia, we should live as if his return is imminent, trying to win the lost and engaging in conduct worthy of the Gospel (Matthew 28:16-20; Philippians 1:27). In some ways, though, we should live as if he will not return in our lifetime: We need to contribute meaningfully to our families, communities, and society in whatever way he has gifted us (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; Hebrews 6:11-12; 1 Peter 4:10-11). We need to expend all our energies for God’s glory and purpose with all the zeal and talent we possess, being alert for every opportunity to better the world, to win the lost, and disciple those in our sphere of influence, while also being cognizant that this world is not our home, and eager for our Lord to return and take us to our eternal residence (Colossians 4:2-6; Ephesians 5:15-17).

In 1 Thessalonians 5, we are told both that the Lord will return like a thief in the night, and that believers are not in darkness, and therefore that day should not overtake us like a thief. While we won’t know the day and the hour of Christ’s return, we should recognize the season (Matthew 24; 1 Thessalonians 5:4). Therefore, it is important to know what the Bible says about the end times. Scholars have debated various eschatological positions for centuries, and most of them were much smarter than me; however, I believe God has made Scripture understandable to the simple. Each Christian has the Holy Spirit living within, and therefore is fully equipped to understand God’s Word (John 14:26; John 16:7-11; 1 Corinthians 2:7-13).

I interpret Scripture literally, unless it is obviously figurative. For example, when Jesus said, “This is my body (Matthew 26:26; Luke 22:19),” or “I am the door (John 10:9),” I believe that to be figurative. When he said, “Nobody comes to the Father, except through me (John 14:6),” I believe that’s literal. So, while some Christians disagree, I believe in a premillennial interpretation of end-times events. My approach to answering the question, “Are we in the End Times?” is to examine current events in light of Biblical prophecy. I realize that we have the propensity to fit things in to fit our own preconceptions, so it is important both to recognize that and to seek out primary sources as often as possible.

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV)

Without hesitation or qualification, I can say all of these things are true of our present culture. It is important to understand this idea of having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. I believe this is evidenced myriad ways in the world today, but likely the prominent manifestation is secular humanism, which has evolved from centuries past.

Humanism — an outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanist beliefs stress the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek solely rational ways of solving human problems.

Oxford Dictionaries

Humanism, which the signers of the Humanist Manifesto I referred to as “religious humanism,” has some fine-sounding ideals and lofty goals, but denies the existence of God, and therefore has the appearance of godliness, while denying its power. Humanism puts us in God’s position, giving us the responsibility for our destiny and the glory for our accomplishments. Humanism has infiltrated every corner of our culture, including the church. We are so indoctrinated in it that we would be hard-pressed to recognize its pervasive influence on our minds.

There are various manifestations of humanism throughout the globe, including the agendas of a number of worldwide organizations, such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Economic Forum, ID2020, the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, Gavi (The Vaccine Alliance), UNICEF, the World Bank, and more. Each of these organizations has visions and missions that sound reasonable and desirable, yet they create and try to accomplish those goals without considering God. They have a form of godliness but deny its power.

There are more religious forms of humanism in the world today, such as Pope Francis’ interpretation of Catholic theology, which some Catholics fear is leading away from traditional Catholicism and toward one world religion. The pope seems to support much of the U.N.’s ideology, while being silent on theological issues long settled in the Catholic Church, such as abortion and contraception. The pope is a proponent of the Human Fraternity, a document “for world peace and living together,” which he co-signed with Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb. Part of this collaboration includes the Abrahamic Family House, “a beacon of mutual understanding, harmonious coexistence and peace among people of faith and goodwill,” consisting of a mosque, synagogue, church, and an educational building.

Pope Francis signs Human Fraternity Document

Organizations such as the Human Fraternity, the U.N., and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have an objective of world peace. While that is a noble-sounding goal, it’s important to define what they mean. The various organizations mentioned in this article have themes, including population control, climate control, vaccination, digital identification, elimination of poverty, equity, and unity. Again, these have the appearance of morality, and some of them are valid goals. However, the general perspective of the leaders of these organizations is humanistic, meaning they do not acknowledge God, but see humans as bearing total responsibility and possessing full power to carry out their self-made agendas.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:3, the Apostle Paul told us that when people say, “There is peace and security, then sudden destruction will come upon them … ” It is interesting to look at the objectives of these organizations in their own words. For example, the Document on Human Fraternity For World Peace and Living Together, penned by Pope Francis in February 2019, states the following:

We, who believe in God and in the final meeting with Him and His judgment, on the basis of our religious and moral responsibility, and through this Document, call upon ourselves, upon the leaders of the world as well as the architects of international policy and world economy, to work strenuously to spread the culture of tolerance and of living together in peace; to intervene at the earliest opportunity to stop the shedding of innocent blood and bring an end to wars, conflicts, environmental decay and the moral and cultural decline that the world is presently experiencing.

Pope Francis (Italics mine)

The United Nations has a similar mission:

The United Nations came into being in 1945, following the devastation of the Second World War, with one central mission: the maintenance of international peace and security

United Nations — What WE Do (Italics Mine)

In 2015, the U.N. launched an initiative called Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development . This reads like a blueprint for the New World Order, a utopian society where there is no more poverty or inequality, where everyone’s needs are met, where there are no more wars, where the planet’s resources are perfectly used and cared for, and where the nations are interconnected. Of course this sounds wonderful, and who could argue against these goals? However, the Lord told us:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

    so are my ways higher than your ways

    and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV)

The problem with the U.N.’s plans and the Pope’s plans is that they intend to reach these goals by humanistic means, rather than through an acknowledgement of God’s will and His power. They are trying to bring about things that God told us would not exist this side of heaven. Jesus told us that we would always have the poor with us (Matthew 26:11); therefore, though we should definitely work to alleviate poverty wherever we can, we know we cannot eradicate it. God told us that we would have wars and rumors of wars up until the end times, and that when we hear “peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come. Jesus told us that He is the only way to heaven (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5-6) and that we are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14-16), so joining together with them in an attempt to bring about world peace will not work.

People have been speculating for two millennia that Christ would be back soon, but now everything is in place for that to be fulfilled, and I believe we are in the very last days. I don’t presume to know the day or the hour, but we are told, as believers, we should recognize the season, that we should not be caught unaware. the Bible tells us of a day when two people will be together and one will suddenly be gone. This is often referred to as the Rapture of the Church, which many people believe precedes the Great Tribulation (Daniel 9; Daniel 12; Matthew 24; Revelation 13). Some interpret the Rapture as happening in the middle of the Great Tribulation. Either way, there appears to be no prophesy that remains to be fulfilled before the Rapture and the Tribulation take place, and the global powers seem to be working toward a manmade world peace as we speak. They have either manufactured or taken advantage of world events to bring about the perception of a need for us to unite against a common enemy. If that doesn’t work, they may have a backup plan of causing such strife that they need to institute martial law, and there may be other factors at play in the very near future.

There is much evil going on behind the scenes. We are told to expose the deeds of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). I have done a good deal of research about the world situation, and I intend to continue writing about it on this blog.

If you’re a believer, I encourage you not to be afraid. The Lord has wonderful things in store for His children.

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—

1 Corinthians 2:9 ESV

God challenges us to share the Gospel, in season and out, as we see the day approaching, and we are to sober minded, fulfilling the ministry God has given us (2 Timothy 4:2-5). We are to serve God with everything in us, presenting our lives as an offering, and we will be rewarded when we enter His presence (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

If you’re not yet a believer, I urge you to repent, to put your trust in Christ alone, that you may have assurance of salvation through a relationship with the Living God. If you have never accepted Jesus as Lord, you can do that right now. This takes an honest and genuine acknowledgement that you are a sinner, that you can’t do enough good deeds to be right with God because He is holy and we are unholy, that you need Him to save you, and that you are willing to follow Him and allow Him to govern your life. Baptism is the outward expression of this inward decision and should be done publicly and by immersion, in an act of obedience, submission, and testimonial to others. You also should read the Bible, pray, gather with other believers, and obey God’s commands, not to be saved, but out of gratitude for salvation, a desire to grow in your relationship with God, and in hopes of winning others to the Lord.

Awakened from Slumber: Thoughts from a Privileged American

By Heather Walton

I grew up in a home that was as colorblind as realistically can be. I didn’t have much interaction with people of different backgrounds; however, I knew that racism and prejudice were unacceptable. I realize that we naturally have biases, and we need to acknowledge that, and at times even to fight against those preconceptions. I owe my mother a debt for her teaching and example. My children do as well, because I’ve been able to model this for them and I am thankful that her views have blessed two generations so far.

While this is a tremendous foundation, I have long tried to understand what I should be doing, beyond seeing everyone in the human race as equal and deserving of respect, as well as teaching my children to do the same. I try to write things that bring injustice to people’s attention. I pray about it (albeit not enough). I try to learn from those who experience injustice and marginalization, but they don’t always want to talk. Maybe they feel it’s futile because there’s no way they can make me understand their experience.

Even so, I know I haven’t done enough. What little I have done hasn’t been sufficient. Most of this is due to ignorance, but I can’t let myself off the hook, because it’s on me to learn. I’ve also been silent at times when I needed to speak up. Frankly, it’s easy to put something out of mind that is out of sight. For these things, I apologize.

Frankly, it’s easy to put something out of mind that is out of sight.

It’s hard to know what to do, because I know that whatever I do to try to do may offend someone. I might do it wrong. I might inadvertently be insensitive. I might have the opposite effect than I intend. I realize that’s a possibility even in writing this article, but I am risking it, in the hopes that it will make a difference for good. That’s why, if you’re a person of color, I need you to educate me.

Last night, I accompanied my daughter to the protest in our city. That may seem crazy, given that the night before there were shots fired. But in hopes that the protests would be peaceful, and because, even though she’s an adult, I’m still a momma bear, and because I really do want to show solidarity, I rode along. However, we didn’t make it to the protest because as we were walking toward it, teargas was deployed. Don’t get me wrong: teargas doesn’t scare me; I was in the army and have been gassed. I’m not eager to experience that again, but I would do it to defend injustice. I knew it was in response to violence, though, and I do not want to be a part of that if at all possible.

My daughter tried to explain to me why violence may be necessary, and I’m trying to understand. I think I get it to some extent: People say they’ve tried to get our attention — those of us who are privileged — by peaceful means, but we didn’t listen. Sometimes when people aren’t heard when they ask quietly or respectfully, they feel the need to talk more boldly or loudly. I can understand that, but at the same time I can’t.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that, and “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.”

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate… Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

“Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?”. Book by Martin Luther King Jr., 1967.

Jesus said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand” (Mark 3:25). Many who have been discriminated against or otherwise been the recipients of injustice may not feel like we live in the same house. But I have to ask, what happens if we destroy ourselves from within? And what can we do to prevent this? These are genuine questions. What ways can a privileged American make this situation better? For those of us who want to know, we value the input of those who have experienced racial injustice. And the only way for us to truly know is for you to tell us.

I welcome your comments.

A Conflict of Liberty?

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

There is a divide in the church today. Unfortunately, this statement could likely be made at any time in history past, present, or future, until the Lord returns.

I just read an article about a local megachurch, in which they had taken a survey of their members. According to the pastor, there was about an equal split between members who believe they should meet in person immediately, those who think they should wait the situation out a little longer, and those who believe they should wait till there’s a cure or vaccine for COVID-19. Right after reading that, I read a post from a Christian leader who believes it’s cowardly for pastors not to immediately open, especially given that the President said he supports churches opening right away, even though some governors have kept them closed or placed lots of restrictions on them; she was discouraged that many pastors elected to remain closed.

Our small church did open today, allowing for following CDC recommendations, while not demanding churchgoers follow these protocols. We had some folks in attendance, as well as some watching online.

Christian seems to rise against Christian, some claiming we need to stand up for our rights, while others say that doing so violates Biblical principles. While I agree that the Bible trumps the Constitution, I also would posit that the Constitutional framers did so with Biblical principles in mind. Initially I asserted the view that we should lay down our First Amendment rights for the greater good of protecting our brother from harm; however, I’ve appreciated some contrary perspectives, and, while I don’t claim to have a perfect answer, I want to propose consideration of these thoughts:

  1. If someone slaps me on the right cheek, I can offer him the left; however, if someone slaps all of us on the right cheek, or if slapping me on the right cheek could lead to abuse of others, I should strongly consider standing up for our collective rights.
  2. I should examine my motives; if I’m driven by fear, greed, unrighteous anger, or any other sinful attitude, I should reconsider my position. Once my motives are pure, then I need to establish the best plan of action and follow it.
  3. What precedents are we setting by allowing our Constitutional rights to be infringed upon? How will our response impact future generations? We need to be wary of giving up rights that our God-fearing forefathers and generations of military members secured for us, many of them giving their lives, and all of them being willing to do so. More importantly, we need to prayerfully consider what is worth giving up the freedoms for which Christ set us free. We have been commanded not to be subject again to a yoke of slavery. The enemy of our souls can make a very convincing argument, and we need to be vigilant and discerning, lest we be led astray.
  4. What effect do our actions and inactions have on those who witness them? What will most glorify God to the watching world? There is a prevailing thought that Christians need to be compliant, docile, and unassuming at all times. Jesus called us to be peacemakers, not peacekeepers. Some people believe that, since Jesus was described as meek, we are not to assert ourselves. However, meekness isn’t weakness. Meekness is power under control, not a lack of power. Jesus stood up against oppression and injustice. He spoke out against the Pharisees, who placed unbearable yokes on others, and against the moneychangers, who took advantage of others. He did not gloss over sin, but lovingly confronted transgressors. Should we not follow in His steps?
  5. How has our culture shaped our view of what it means to be loving? Is being nice the same thing as being kind? In this era of political correctness, we have been brainwashed into trying to please everyone and to avoiding actions that may offend others. To love another means to want his or her best. I would never condone shaming someone who doesn’t feel comfortable returning to church, to work, or to society because they are in a high-risk group; we are called to prudence. However, if we give the impression that the only way to be loving is to watch church at home, to keep our businesses closed, to wear a mask everywhere, and to support the governing authorities’ every decision, we may not be giving the full picture. Isn’t it also loving to visit the sick (provided we are healthy and not caregivers for others in a high-risk group), to contribute to our neighbors’ livelihoods by utilizing their businesses, to contribute to society with meaningful work, to uphold truth, to confront error, and to preserve our countrymen’s God-given rights?
  6. Do our actions show favoritism to any person or group? It seems that we are listening to the counsel of some medical professionals but not others. There are plenty of solid medical personnel, some of whom use conventional medicine and others who use alternative methods, who say that the recommended measures are inaccurate and even counterproductive. Even though many are using recent data or reliable research to verify their stance, not only are they being discounted, many are effectively being silenced, because their recommendations don’t fit the prevailing narrative put forth by many in government and the mainstream media. We also seem to be showing favoritism to those vulnerable from a health standpoint, to the exclusion of those vulnerable from an economic or spiritual standpoint.
  7. What is the highest authority in our country or state? It is not the president or governor, and it definitely isn’t any worldwide organization or philanthropist. The Constitution guides our government, and the government is “by the people, of the people, and for the people.” Who are the people? The citizens of this country. When governors, presidents, legislators, or judges violate the Constitution, we need to question whether obedience is necessary. If we follow the Constitution, we are not breaking the law, even if we are told that we are.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, a masterpiece of logic, morality, and theological exposition, as applied to the issue of segregation is the source of the famous words, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Do you know the audience of this letter? Dr. King addressed this apologetic for “civil disobedience” to white pastors who thought he had gone too far by encouraging his followers to break the law. He echoed Augustine, saying that an “unjust law is no law at all.” He said that a just law is in harmony with moral law, that any law that degrades human personality is unjust. We must ask ourselves if quarantining the healthy is in harmony with moral law. We must consider whether destroying people’s livelihoods, keeping them from attending church, and imposing social isolation, especially in the midst of compelling evidence that this virus isn’t a serious threat to otherwise healthy people, is the correct coarse of action.

Pastors and other Christian leaders are called to be countercultural. We are to obey the authority placed over us, but in this country our highest authority is the Constitution, which was primarily written from a Biblical worldview. The Apostle Paul appealed to Caesar in the face of injustice; in America, the equivalent would be to appeal to the Constitution. Our Constitution says that nobody should prohibit the free exercise of religion, of speech, the press, or the right to peaceably assemble (Amendment I). Furthermore, “no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (Amendment XIV).

Some of you live in open states, and may wonder what all the fuss is about. Churches in Washington State and Minnesota have unjustly been kept from operating, and many still fear government reprisal. This morning, the Chicago mayor was reported to have sent police to shut down a church gathering in her city. Churches, daycares, and small businesses in Kentucky have far too many restrictions to practically operate. Everywhere the mainstream media mafia perpetuates fear and censors informed citizens in an attempt to control the narrative.

Christians, we must not be silent. Pastors, part of your calling is to admonish the flock according to Scripture and to equip us for participation in all spheres of life, including the media and the government. Please challenge us to speak into the culture, rather than to assimilate. Please give us permission not to be nice, but rather to be holy and effective at fulfilling the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. Please activate us in the spiritual war that has the whole world in its grip. Please don’t sit down and shut your doors. Please don’t bow to those who rule unjustly, no matter how “well-intentioned” they may seem. Please bow only to God, and refuse to allow His commands to be twisted into irrelevance.

In the words of Dr. King, “it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends … it is just as wrong, or even more, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.” Let us be neither complacent, nor arrogant. Let us not use our liberty as an excuse for sin, but also let us not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. We were bought with a price. It was for freedom that Christ set us free. Let us walk in that freedom, for the good of our country and our fellow countryman.

It’s all about control

By Heather Walton

We need to protect the most vulnerable.

We must protect our Constitutional rights.

Where is my unemployment?

I will not wear a mask!

It’s my body, and my choice.

Everyone needs to take the vaccine before we can get back to normal.

I will not take a vaccine.

Answer the phone when the health department calls, and cooperate with the contact tracers.

I will not answer the phone. In fact, I’m not doing any updates on my phone and I’ll leave it at home when I go out. 

You don’t value my life!

You don’t value my livelihood!

Since the beginning of the human race, it’s been about control. Did God really say you should not eat of any tree in the garden? … He knows that when you eat of it, you’ll be like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3). In other words, He is in control, but if you eat this fruit, you can be in control.

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but the enemy of old, Satan, sure wants us to think it is (Ephesians 6:12). We get angry because we want to be in control. We fear because we want to be in control.

Guess what: we are NOT in control! We never have been. It’s an illusion. God is in control, but He has temporarily allowed Satan to be in control of certain aspects of the world (Matthew 4:8-9; Luke 4:5-6; John 14:30; John 12:31-33; Ephesians 2:1-3). I believe that the “spirit of the antichrist” which has been in the world since the beginning, is largely a spirit of control (1 John 2:18; 1 John 4:3). Satan himself, as Lucifer, fell from heaven because he wanted to be in control, rather than trusting God to be in control (Isaiah 14:12-15; Luke 10:18).

When we allow God to be in control of our lives (Romans 10:9-11) by accepting Jesus as Lord (master, one in charge), we gain a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). The very things we desire to have control for — peace, provision, victory over death — we gain by giving up control. It seems like a paradox, doesn’t it? However, it is true.

The spirit of the antichrist may soon be revealed as world leaders navigate this global crisis (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; 1 John 2:18). They have a global answer: They believe we need to seek world peace through a concept called globalism. They believe all people need to unite to end world hunger, poverty, inequality, illiteracy, “overpopulation,” and so on; however, God called us to scatter, to fill the earth and subdue it. Granted, our greed has tempted us to become bad stewards of the earth and to oppress people. That doesn’t change the fact that God wills us to populate, to work, and to be diverse. At the tower of Babel, the people wanted to stick together. They defied God by building a tower, not so they could reach heaven, but so they could keep from wandering too far. God had told them to scatter, but they reasoned that if they could build a tall enough tower, they could make sure that they could all see it, and that way they wouldn’t go too far. They would stay one global community, in defiance of God’s clear command to spread out. He confounded their language so that they would not remain together (Genesis 11).

Today, some of the world’s most powerful people want to control the world once again by uniting us all in a global community. This global crisis calls for a global solution, they say. They want control, pure and simple. Their motives may look noble and pure, but in reality, they don’t trust God. Did God really say? Is there really even a God? Don’t you know that we can do anything we set our minds to? 

Many people believe would agree with Bill Gates:

“I’ve been very lucky, and therefore I owe it to try and reduce the inequity in the world. And that’s kind of a religious belief. I mean, it’s at least a moral belief,” said Gates. “I agree with people like Richard Dawkins that mankind felt the need for creation myths. Before we really began to understand disease and the weather and things like that, we sought false explanations for them. Now science has filled in some of the realm – not all – that religion used to fill.” (Rolling Stone, March 13, 2014)

You see, if science is the answer, we can control that. We can’t control God, but we can, at least in some ways, control science. We can control what we understand, but we cannot understand God because His ways are so far above our ways that they are beyond comprehension (Isaiah 55:8-9). We don’t like that. We want to understand. We want to know. We want to control.

We cannot control, but we can put our lives in the hands of the One who is in control, the One who can give us the abundant life now and eternal life when we die (Deuteronomy 30:19; Joshua 24:15; John 3:16-17; John 10:9-10).

It seems to me that so many of us are addressing the things we can’t control and are angry at those who seem to hinder our control. In the end, though, we are all going to die and our fortunes will be given to another (Psalm 39:6; Psalm 49:10; Proverbs 27:1; Luke 12). We aren’t guaranteed our next breath or our next paycheck, no matter how hard we try. We should take good care of our bodies, we should work hard to earn a living, and we should try to keep our country free from tyranny. However, we also must recognize that our days are numbered and the world can change in a moment’s notice. We could literally be ushered into the presence of our Creator at any moment. We need to be ready.

The one thing we can do to control our future is to put our lives and our eternity into the hands of the One who possesses ultimate control.

If you have never accepted Jesus as Lord, you can do that right now. This takes an honest and genuine acknowledgement that you are a sinner, that you can’t do enough good deeds to be right with God because He is holy and we are unholy, that you need Him to save you, and that you are willing to follow Him and allow Him to govern your life. Baptism is the outward expression of this inward decision and should be done publicly and by immersion, in an act of obedience, submission, and testimonial to others. You also should read the Bible, pray, gather with other believers, and obey God’s commands, not to be saved, but out of gratitude for salvation, a desire to grow in your relationship with God, and in hopes of winning others to the Lord. If you have any questions about that, reach out to a believer you know, begin fellowship with a local church, and/or reach out by filling out the contact form below.  

Conspiracy … or Prophecy?

By Heather Walton

I’m not afraid to admit that I sound like a conspiracy theorist. Isn’t a conspiracy simply a secret plan by a group of people to do something harmful or to cover something up, or both? There seems to be a decent basis for this kind of thing going on right now.

Today there are many people inside and outside the church arguing about things like government overreach, vaccines, civil disobedience, masks, social distancing, governors, and the list goes on. But soon arguments will likely cease. The government is making arrangements to ensure that a vaccine is fast tracked and that everybody gets it. I’m not just talking about the U.S. government. There are many global players with common connections who are working on this effort. The United Nations is working on an initiative to bring about world peace by the year 2030. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has a small army of organizations working on vaccines that will ironically help the world to be less populated. (Does it seem counterintuitive that those who want to bring the population down are both asking us to stay at home to protect each other AND working on a vaccine to keep us from getting something that actually could take the world population down?) We are told that such a vaccine may be available by the end of 2020 and that the military is going to help get it out. Not only that, but in the meantime, we have contact tracers to help identify those with the virus and everybody they’ve been in contact with, so that all of those people who’ve potentially been infected can be tracked down, quarantined, and tested. And those who resist may be required by additional means. Those who can’t stay at home may even be separated from their families, even though they’ve already been around their families, who also will have to quarantine until they can be proven to not be infectious. There’s a lot about this pandemic that doesn’t make sense.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t be considerate of others, not by any means. I’m not saying that, if you feel you need to stay home, wear a mask, or take other precautions, that you’re living in fear and that you’re doing something wrong. If you’re in a risk group or otherwise feel you need to do this, then that is your right, and I don’t fault you for it. But I believe, if you’re in a high-risk group, you probably already were used to taking some of these kinds of precautions. And if you’re in a high-risk group and you don’t want to take those precautions, for whatever reason, I also respect your rights. I don’t say any of this to downplay how difficult this is on high-risk groups.

But given the fact that the mortality numbers do not appear to be substantially higher than other, similar infections, and that the overall death rate does not seem to have skyrocketed, and that the vast majority of COVID-19 deaths have been in people with comorbidities that would likely have been fatal when combined with other common infections, and that the majority of the population does not have significant risk of mortality or severe infection, the government’s response does not add up.

Unless, of course, it does.

If you’re trying to get a group of people to combine efforts, one of the best tactics is to identify a common enemy. If you’re trying to get all people everywhere to combine efforts, the enemy can’t be human. What better way to unite people than with a global health emergency?

How many of us have heard something along the lines of, “We’re all in this together,” or “We’re going to get through this together?” Everyday our governor says, and asks everyone (at home) to say this with him: “We’re going to get through this, and we’re going to get through this together.” I thought it was his thing, until I realized that it’s all over the place. U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, “We are in this together – and we will get through this, together.” Not a bad sentiment,  but we really aren’t all in this together; instead we are social distancing, sequesters in our homes and getting most of our information from media, many of whom are literally reading from the same script.

But, I’m starting to believe the powers of this world mean it when they say “we’re all in this together,” as in “let’s all collaborate internationally on a solution to this pandemic, and while we’re at it, let’s just make some kind of massive worldwide collaborative organization to ensure we are prepared for whatever situation comes up next … Oh yeah, and we might as well make sure Bill Gates has a lot to say about whatever we come up with. After all, he’s obviously a medical expert.”

Why is this a problem? In Revelation, we are told that the end times will include one world government. God repeatedly told people to scatter and fill the earth. When they tried to remain united at Babel, He confused their language so that they would have to disburse. Now, because of their pride and atheism, they conspire to unite in defiance of God and what He stands for. Instead of seeking God in prayer and asking Him to deliver us from this worldwide emergency, they believe they have it under control and that they know better than God, that indeed they are god.

So now we Americans have had a compelling reason to give up the majority of our rights, our previously booming economy has been functionally destroyed, churches have been moved online, and we are preparing to start giving names of those we’ve been around in the past two weeks if we’ve tested positive. There are even apps for identifying contacts now.

On March 14, 2020, did any of us question the fact that the world seemed to change overnight? Yes, some did, but I think most of us didn’t. We believed the measures taken were necessary and would be short-term. Who among us really thought we would be looking forward to a promised “new normal” months or years from now? Who among us thought we would be wearing masks, social distancing, turning in names of our neighbors for “infractions,” doing school at home, and looking at the possibility of people being removed from their homes until there’s a vaccine and everybody gets it? Who among us expected the military to be involved in distributing this vaccine? Who among us expected churches to be blamed for spreading the virus?

Who among us thought we would ever hear a judge say, “During public health crises, new considerations come to bear, and government officials must ask whether even fundamental rights must give way to the deeper need to control the spread of infectious disease and protect the lives of society’s most vulnerable” (Judge John Mendez of California). My understanding is that fundamental rights are fundamental, and therefore non-negotiable. But it doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

The world is just unpredictable enough these days that if a bunch of people were suddenly to disappear, and the government told you it was an alien abduction, you might just be tempted to believe it. Maybe it’s not aliens, but there would be some kind of semi-plausible explanation that most people wouldn’t have believed a couple months ago. If in the next few months or years a lot of people are suddenly gone, and you notice that all those people had the common denominator of an unusual degree of allegiance to Jesus Christ, please consider that perhaps the answer is in prophecy, rather than conspiracy.

The Bible tells of an event most Christians refer to as “the rapture.” Luke 17 tells of a day when two people will be together and suddenly one will be gone. We are told that the man of lawlessness will be revealed after the one who holds him back is taken out of the way (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12). The one who holds him back is presumed to be the Holy Spirit, which inhabits every true follower of Christ. In order for the Holy Spirit to be withdrawn, it stands to reason that believers will be gone. The Bible tells of a time when people will have to get a certain mark in order to buy or sell. Clearly, our world is set up for such a possibility in the near future. Believers are not to take this mark, and people who take it are showing their allegiance to the antichrist, and will not be able to change their minds.

Believers are commanded to stand firm, to be steadfast, during this time, to spread the Gospel, and to disciple others (2 Thessalonians 2:13-17; Matthew 28:16-20: Romans 10:9-13). Unbelievers need to repent, choose to trust Jesus as Lord, and spread the Gospel.

It’s not too late. Someday it will be, and that day will come upon us quickly, whether by natural death, rapture, or Jesus’ second coming. We don’t know the day or the hour for end times prophecy to be fulfilled, but we are told we should know the season (Matthew 24). It’s the season — be ready.

If you have never accepted Jesus as Lord, you can do that right now. This takes an honest and genuine acknowledgement that you are a sinner, that you can’t do enough good deeds to be right with God because He is holy and we are unholy, that you need Him to save you, and that you are willing to follow Him and allow Him to govern your life. Baptism is the outward expression of this inward decision and should be done publicly and by immersion, in an act of obedience, submission, and testimonial to others. You also should read the Bible, pray, gather with other believers, and obey God’s commands, not to be saved, but out of gratitude for salvation, a desire to grow in your relationship with God, and in hopes of winning others to the Lord. If you have any questions about that, reach out to a believer you know, begin fellowship with a local church, and/or reach out by filling out the contact form below.