Faith

Morning Coffee with Habakkuk

Morning Coffee with Habakkuk

Pull up a chair, pour some coffee (or your morning beverage of choice), and let’s spend some time with Habakkuk. I believe he can ease our burden in the light of several current events.

“Haven’t we already done that?” you might ask. Yes, but if you are anything like me you need a fresh reminder of not only the prophet’s complaint, but the Lord’s response as well. I am again wondering why He does not respond to all the violence and perversion of justice I see everywhere I look.

What Were The Disciples Thinking?

What Were The Disciples Thinking?

In November of 1943, the USS Iowa carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt to a meeting with Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill to discuss future plans regarding WW II. Somehow the crew of a nearby ship, the USS William D. Porter, mistook the USS Iowa for a German ship and fired a torpedo at it. Fortunately, the missile missed its target and the President continued safely to his summit. Although we do not know all the details that led to this error, we are still left wondering, “What were they thinking?”

At first glance, we might also ask this question in regard to a question the disciples posed to Jesus just moments before He ascended into heaven, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6).

Why Must There be a Third Temple?

Why Must There be a Third Temple?

President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has sparked much talk of the third temple. The people of Israel have already shown great support for a new temple; now the excitement for this is even stronger than before in light of President Trump’s announcements.

Is this renewed anticipation in itself prophetic? Yes it is. Scripture tells us there will be such a temple at least by the midpoint of the coming tribulation. As such, the indicators pointing to its construction tell us that this time is getting closer.

We will start with the prophecy and then explain what it means.

Is This The End Times . . . or Just The Way It Has Always Been?

Is This The End Times . . . or Just The Way It Has Always Been?

Do you remember the song “Signs” by the Five Man Electrical Band? This popular tune made it all the way to number 3 on the Billboard charts during the summer and fall of 1971. The refrain concludes with the words, “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign, sign, sign, sign.”

Now that I have that song firmly ensconced in your mind, I will move on to a different type of sign that I see everywhere I look. These multiple signs point to the coming tribulation and the end of the age.

I believe there is something radically different about what we are now witnessing today in our world.

3 Compelling Reasons to Love God’s Word, Part 3

3 Compelling Reasons to Love God’s Word, Part 3

Hope. If there is anything people need today it is hope.

We see this today in the record number of suicides among both the young and old. Despair rather than hope fills the minds of so many today. The outcome of confining all our dreams to this world is often bitterness, anger, fear, and depression. I have tasted of this despair, too, in my past.

The Bible is necessary because:

3. Scripture alone gives us hope

3 Compelling Reasons to Love God’s Word, Part 2

3 Compelling Reasons to Love God’s Word, Part 2

For as long as I can remember, I have always thought that if God exists and is powerful enough to create all that we see, then He’s certainly capable of communicating His Word to us in an accurate and trustworthy way. It’s not that I based my belief on reason, but my thinking opened the door to accept the claims of Scripture to be God’s Word to us.

The Bible is necessary because:

2. Scripture is God’s revelation to humanity

3 Compelling Reasons to Love God’s Word, Part 1

3 Compelling Reasons to Love God’s Word, Part 1

I grew up loving Scripture. It started in Awana as I memorized God’s Word and continued in Sunday school as I marveled at the accounts of creation, Moses, and the Israelites.

Perhaps this is why I feel such grief at the current attacks on the Bible. GQ Magazine referred to the Bible as “one of the most overrated books of all time” and placed it on its list of 21 books “you don’t have to read.” This is so incredibly sad.

The Bible is necessary because:

1. Scripture Defines Right Versus Wrong

What Brings Us Joy?

What Brings Us Joy?

Do you ever have times when a line from Scripture jumps out at you and cannot get past it in your thoughts? One morning this past week was such a time. As I was reading in Proverbs 10, the first line of verse 26 struck me in such a way. It says, “The hope of the righteous brings joy.”

Our hope brings us joy; the anticipation of Jesus' appearing and all that He has promised us for all eternity.

What’s Your Destination?

What’s Your Destination?

It seemed so simple. We would send our letter and earnest check for our new home in Illinois via certified mail. Our purchase contract for our new house allowed several days for the check to arrive.

After double-checking the address my realtor had provided, I took the letter to the post office in North Liberty, Iowa on March 30. The kind young man at the counter gave me the tracking information and said our check would be at its destination in Rockford, Illinois on Monday, April 2. I felt confident the check would arrive on time.

On April 2, I entered the tracking information only to discover that our certified mail was in the small town of Wellman, Iowa

3 Compelling Reasons for Hope

3 Compelling Reasons for Hope

Jesus’ tomb is empty; it’s an established historical fact. All the attacks on Jesus’ resurrection come in the form of trying to explain the vacant grave. They do this because they cannot deny the reality that His body was missing from His tomb.

However, no one has ever been able to come up with a credible explanation for Christ's empty grave. Jesus is indeed alive!

The resurrection matters so much to our faith because if Jesus did not walk bodily out of His grave, if His body was buried somewhere else in ancient Israel, then humanity has absolutely no hope.

4 Strategies for Waiting

4 Strategies for Waiting

The idea for my book, Shipwrecked! Learning From The Bible Bad Guys, started with my study of the life of King Saul. I could see several of my faults in his life, particularly as I read about his unwillingness to wait for Samuel at a critical time during his reign.

From this wayward king, I discovered a strategy for waiting amidst the faulty reasons he gave to Samuel for his disobedience. If we can avoid the places where his thinking went awry, it helps us wait for whatever we hope will happen soon, but doesn't. We have all been there.

I believe if there is one shared experience among followers of Christ, it is that of waiting. He often makes us wait for:

Three Fatal Dangers of Living for The Moment

What comes to your mind when you think of Esau? You likely picture a rugged red-haired hunter selling his birthright to his brother Jacob for some stew.

The story began rather innocently. Esau, tired from a long day of hunting, came home experiencing what he later described as life-threatening hunger (Gen. 25:32). Once he smelled Jacob’s lentil stew, Esau demanded that his brother give him some.

Jacob, sensing his brother’s desperation, took advantage of him by requesting that Esau sell his birthright to him in return for the stew. Esau, focused solely on the need of the moment, willingly gave up his most prized possession for a cup of the soup.

5 Biblical Characters and What They Teach us about Walking with God

5 Biblical Characters and What They Teach us about Walking with God

Several years ago, I discovered I could learn a lot from some of the shadier characters of the Bible. It was not that their examples were so stellar, most failed miserably. However, I have gleaned much from their bad examples over the years.

You may be wondering what in the world we can learn from such misfits and failures. How can they possibly help us in our walk with the Lord?

I'm glad you asked. To help you answer this question, I have picked a few of the characters as examples of what we might possibly learn.

Shipwrecked!

Shipwrecked!

Shipwrecked! is about learning from the mistakes of several bad guys of the Bible.

Life rarely goes as we expect. That's why it's so important that we learn to walk with the Lord and trust our loving heavenly Father before things go awry. Life caught several of our Bible bad guys "off guard" and instead of looking to God in faith, they turned away from Him and made terrible decisions. As we examine their lives, we learn how we can avoid their errant choices.

The last character in the book is John Mark. From him we learn that failure does not have to be the last chapter in our lives. John Mark overcame an early failure in ministry to be greatly used of God.

The Renewal of All Things

The Renewal of All Things

What will our lives look like when Jesus establishes His kingdom over all the earth? What will the coming renewed creation look like? Can we even imagine what it will be like for the Lord to make us completely whole in our bodies, spirits, and souls?

John Eldredge, in his latest book All Things New, seeks to answer questions such as these. He focuses on passages such as Matthew 19:28-29 and Revelation 21:1-5 that point to the wondrous and joyous renewal Jesus promises for all who know Him.

You might think it strange I would recommend a book that ignores the rapture and the tribulation (as he does) and settles for a singular purpose of encouraging believers regarding their eternal hope in Christ's coming kingdom. I admit, at first I was a bit leery about the book since I am passionate about all of these things.

Jesus, Hatred, and the Last Days

Jesus, Hatred, and the Last Days

Did you know that hatred is a sign of the last days?

In Matthew 24:9-10 Jesus said this, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.” Amidst all the other signs of which we are so familiar, Jesus lists hatred, particularly against His followers, as an indication of the end times.

Today, see hatred everywhere in our world. Opponents of Christianity killed an estimated 90,000 believers in 2016 and opposition to our faith has not diminished since then. Anti-Semitism is epidemic across Europe that has led to many Jews fearing for their lives, especially in France.

The apostle Paul, in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, describes the godlessness of the last days. Although he does not use the word hatred, he aptly describes the divisive, angry, and intolerable culture of our day.

Why Must There be a Third Temple?

Why Must There be a Third Temple?

President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has sparked much talk of the third temple. The people of Israel have already shown great support for a new temple; now the excitement for this is even stronger than before in light of President Trump’s announcements.

Is this renewed anticipation in itself prophetic? Yes it is. Scripture tells us there will be such a temple at least by the midpoint of the coming tribulation. As such, the indicators pointing to its construction tell us that this time is getting closer.

We will start with the prophecy and then explain what it means.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem

On December 6, 2017 President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on behalf of the United States. In addition, he announced his intention to move our nation’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This all has huge prophetic significance.

We ARE living in the days leading up to the tribulation and thus to Jesus’ return for His church before the start of that time. So many things point to this. If there ever was a time to watch for our redemption (see Luke 21:28), it is now.

Since Jerusalem is so much in the news now, let me begin to explain why this is so based on a prophecy regarding this city.

End Times . . . or Just The Way It Has Always Been?

End Times . . . or Just The Way It Has Always Been?

Do you remember the song “Signs” by the Five Man Electrical Band? This popular tune made it all the way to number 3 on the Billboard charts during the summer and fall of 1971. The refrain concludes with the words, “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign, sign, sign, sign.”

Now that I have that song firmly ensconced in your mind, I will move on to a different type of sign that I see everywhere I look. These multiple signs point to the coming tribulation and the end of the age.

I believe there is something radically different about what we are now witnessing today in our world.

An Unshakable Kingdom

parliment-government Is there anything around us today that we could describe as “unshakable?” Politicians, movies stars, and leaders continually prove that they are frail human beings just like everyone else.

Instability defines our world. Wars and continual threats of war add to the instability of our world. I cannot remember a time when there has been so much talk about the devastation that natural disasters could cause. For years, economists have warned that our national debt in America could lead to dire consequences.

However, because of the promises of Scripture we can rejoice and give thanks even though everything around us is falling apart. Here is what the author of Hebrews said, “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus offer up to God acceptable worship with reverence and awe” (Heb. 12:28). Our hope is not in our broken down culture, but in an unshakeable kingdom that is not of this world but is coming to this world with the Second Coming of Christ.

So what is this kingdom and why does it make us so secure?

It’s the Kingdom of Jesus

Colossians 1:13-14 tells us that as saints, God “has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” This is the first aspect of the good news: as believers we already belong to Jesus’ kingdom with all our sins, past, present, and future, completely forgiven.

This gives us security regardless of what we encounter in this violent world. The worst persecution cannot change our standing in Jesus domain.  And, as Paul proclaims in Romans 8:31-39, absolutely nothing can separate us from Christ’s love. We are forever secure in Him.  Even death cannot alter our standing in Jesus’ marvelous kingdom where we share in all His blessings (Eph. 1:3) and inheritance (Rom. 8:17).

It’s Physical, Too

If we look at the context in Hebrews 12 of our “kingdom that cannot be shaken,” we see that the author is describing a future shaking that will result in just God’s kingdom remaining intact (vv. 26-27). The Old Testament reference to this coming tribulation upon the world is Haggai 2:6-9 where the prophet tells of a future time of great shaking upon the earth after which the treasures of the earth will flow into Israel resulting in a temple even more glorious than the one Solomon built. Haggai further prophesies that this will also be a time when the Lord brings peace to Israel.

So not only are we as believers forever secure in Jesus’ domain, but we rejoice in the hope that someday His kingdom will be real and tangible. And not only that, Jesus’ kingdom will be secure with no sign of scandal or intrigue. The coming King will establish it in righteousness. Isaiah 32:1 says, “Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in peace.” Does this not sound so much different than what we see in our world today? Jesus will rule over the earth and as God, it will be impossible for Him to lie!

Revelation 19:11-20:6 describes Jesus’ glorious return in great power to set up a kingdom on the earth that will last for one thousand years. This is more than an abstract doctrine or a hope that only applies to the people of Israel. This represents our future as well as coheirs with Jesus (Rom. 8:17).

There with our immortal and imperishable bodies, we will reign with Jesus enjoying more blessings than we can even imagine.

It’s in this secure kingdom that we will see the purposes for all we endured in this life, both good and bad. We will understand why we suffered and why the Lord led us down paths that brought joy and affliction. There with our immortal and imperishable bodies, we will reign with Jesus enjoying more blessings than we can even imagine.

This Thanksgiving season, we can give thanks that in a world becoming more unstable by the day our hope rests in an unshakable kingdom. We are secure now, regardless of anything that can happen to us before Jesus comes for us. Later, we will be secure forever in a kingdom where we will someday live free from all death, sorrow, suffering, pain, and tears.

Such a two-world perspective does not mean that we live solely for the world to come, but that we recognize that our ultimate hope does not rest in the things of this world or even our dreams of a better life.

It’s when our hope becomes earthbound that troubles magnify our fears and suffering becomes all-consuming. When we live with an eternal focus, however, we live in the reality that a glorious day is coming when Jesus will take us home to be with Him and later establish his righteous and holy rule upon the earth.