Saturday, April 29, 2017

I Had a Revelation

    I started this blog about a year ago because I had a couple of things on my mind, and I wanted to get them off my chest. This is why I’m not a professional writer. You would think that if they were on my mind I would want to get them off my mind. I don’t understand why it doesn’t work that way. They are still on my mind, but I managed to get them off my chest. Somehow, that’s supposed to make it alright.
    In any case, I still have plenty on my mind and on my chest. Given last year’s election and and the very unusual reactions to it, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that most of what is driving me crazy lately is political. I’ve even drifted that way in a couple of my essays. But considering the name I decided to give this whole blog, that didn’t seem to be all that appropriate. So if I’m to continue to contribute to this endeavour, I need to come up with an actual direction to take this thing. An idea came to me this morning.
    Given the current political climate, not just in America but around the world, it’s hard not to get all eschatological. That word’s a lot more fun to say than it is to try to spell, but it means I’m convinced the world is coming to an end.
    It’s sad in a way. All my life I’ve kinda figured the world would end in my lifetime, and all I ever had to say about it was that when it happens, I wanted a good seat. I can’t for the life of me understand why I didn’t realise the end of the world would be unbearably ugly. But looking around at what’s been going on in the world, and the attitude that is quickly pervading all of society, I’ve come to realise that if this is really the beginning of the end of the world, it’s not going to be any fun at all.
    Over the years I’ve heard all kinds of theories, explanations, timelines and sermons about the end of the age and how it’s all going to come down. Chronologically, what is going to happen when. Politically, who the anti-Christ is, and historically, how what you read in the papers matches up with what was written in the Book of Revelation. I’ve read some books trying to make sense out of the whole thing, and those books seem to disagree with the sermons, and each other.
    Finally, having plenty of time on my hands, I decided to study the book of Revelation. I’ve read through it a couple of times, and by the time I get to the end, I’m never quite sure what happened. This time, I’m going verse by verse, Taking notes and referencing however many commentaries I need to to make the particular verse I’m working on make sense.
    This has now been going on for months. I try to spend a couple of hours a day on it, first thing in the morning. I don’t have an alarm to tell me when I’m done for the day. Something else always lets me know when it’s time to move on to the next part of my day. Usually, it’s the next part of my day that comes crashing in, demanding my attention. I try to get up early enough to have a couple of hours before that happens.
    Sometimes, I realise that it’s time to quit when I get to a part that I just can’t make sense out of; I can’t find a suitable reference to put in my notes and I am just getting nowhere. At that point I’ll wrap it up and decide to start the next day looking for a commentary, or Bible footnote, or whatever I can find to get me past that verse and onto the next one. There have been times that it’s taken me three days to get past a verse.
    I blame Chuck Missler for all this. If you’ve never heard of him, you might want to look him up on YouTube. He’s what you call an expositional commentator. He goes through the Bible, chapter by chapter and really works to flesh it out. He believes that every single word, every number and every place name have a meaning that ties into the total message that God is trying to get across to us.
    This all sounds great, but after listening to him for a while, you get to where you read passages you’ve read twenty times before and suddenly you find yourself asking, “what did he mean by that?” Why did God give us a genealogy of Cain’s descendants when they were all wiped out in the flood anyway? I still don’t have an answer for that, by the way and that is what brings me to the point of this particular post:
    The more I learn, the less I seem to know. I’m going to start sharing what I’ve learned about the Book of Revelation. More importantly, I’m going to discuss what I still haven’t figured out.
    As much as I’ve learned from Mr. Missler, John MacArthur, Chuck Smith, Stanley D. Tousaint and others, there are details in the Book of Revelation that drive me crazy that nobody else even seems to notice. I pour through commentary after commentary and they will all skip over these little details like they didn’t even notice them. Well I noticed them, and I want answers.
    Let me give you an example. This is what caught my attention this morning that made me think that studying Revelation was the best course I could take with this blog right now:
    Turn to chapter 11. John shifting from the Temple to the two witnesses without a clutch is troubling enough, but am I the only one to notice that these witnesses are discussed in the future tense until verse eleven. As soon as verse 11 hits, it shifts to the past tense. Maybe I’m missing some sort of innocuous literary device and this doesn’t mean anything. But it is the point that stopped my studying this morning.
    Now I’ve been writing this blog for a year and I know a few people have read parts of it, but I have gotten virtually no feedback from anyone but Pastor Jeff Arp so far. (Thank you Pastor, by the way). I’m hoping that changes and people begin to engage with me as I go through the questions and confusions bubbling up from the pages of this incredible book. I’m hoping somebody helps me out with trying to understand some of this.
    I may be lost. But at least I may have found a direction for this blog.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

I'm An Idiot

    Not very long ago, I saw a picture of a man wearing a T-shirt that said, “I’m an Atheist.  Debate me.”  I’ve been debating with this guy ever since - in my own head. Of course I win these arguments - in my own head. How can lose? I have an answer for every argument that that comes into my head from an atheist’s point of view.  I have entertained myself with this little exercise on many a night as I try to fall asleep, and of course I feel pretty smug about my intellectual superiority. I’ve spent a lot of time wishing  that I could catch up with that guy in the T-shirt and put him in his place.

    The problem occurs when I actually have an argument with anybody. Jesus said in one of His sermons not to think beforehand about what you are going to say as you anticipate a theological discussion. Now I know why.

    People can always come up with something that you are not ready for. Or I should say I’m not ready for. I’m one of these people whose mind works reasonable well. Just not very fast. I get stumped all the time just arguing with my wife. Then two days later I have an answer to her argument, but by then it’s too late. Whatever decision we were arguing over has already been made, and there’s no going back. Don’t expect any examples here: my wife proof reads these things, and I’ve already lost the argument once.

    Then, there’s the idea of arguing over religion and the culture. That’s the argument right there: religion vs. culture. Or, more specifically: The Bible vs. the predominant culture. There’s a lot of religions out there, but I haven’t heard anybody anxious to argue against Taoism.
   
     Even in church, the predominant culture has been infiltrating since the day after Pentecost as we, the Body of Christ drift farther and farther away from what the Bible actually teaches.

  ( I was going to go on a rant right here about Easter, but I did that last year and nobody cares.)

    But let’s take a look at the culture. We live in a Progressive society. What does that mean? It means as a society we’ve progressed beyond the Bible. We no longer need to lean on the belief in an Almighty Being telling us what is what and how we should behave.

    We have a new morality now, and it is in direct conflict with the morality of the Bible. Never mind the myths and fairy tales, today’s society has no problem with myths and fairy tales. Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Lord of The Rings, X Men, Evolution, Global Warming, Islam….

    Uh oh! Now I’ve done it. I’ve just stepped on the two sacred beliefs of Progressives that they will defend with violence, if necessary.

    Let’s start with Global warming. My position is simple. What I get told is that the earth is warming up. That extra heat is melting the ice caps. That, in turn is raising the sea level, and will soon wipe out Florida.

    Fine. Call me when Key West is under water.

    As far as Islam goes, the Koran is just another book claiming to be the word of God, and it’s four times as regressive as the Bible is. So why does it get so much respect? Progressive governments all over the world are passing laws making it a crime to criticize Islam. There’s something weird going on here.  

    That brings me back to the new morality. It’s all about rights. The rights you have, and the rights you don’t have. You have the right to an abortion. You have the right to marry your toaster. You have the right to decide each morning what gender you want to be that day, and you can even invent a new gender to suit yourself, and you have the right to demand that everybody address you with the pronoun of your choosing.

    What you don’t have the right to do is make a decision based on Christian beliefs, because those beliefs run counter to the dominant culture. Yes, I’m talking about Christian Bakeries, flower shops and pizzerias I notice nobody ever asks a Muslim bakery to bake a cake for a gay wedding..

    You also don’t have the right to decide what happens on your property. The government now owns the very rain that falls from the sky. A man in Utah was arrested for collecting rainwater into barrels. According to new regulations passed last year, if the rain causes a puddle to form on your property - wherever it is, the EPA now has jurisdiction over your property as a “wetland”. It doesn’t matter if the puddle dries. Just because a wetland has dried out, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t still a wetland.

    At some point this becomes contradictory. If a woman can have an abortion because “it’s my body and nobody can tell me what to do with it”, how does that wash with the government coming closer and closer to bringing us mandatory vaccinations? What happened to sovereignty over my own body?

   I’m ridiculed because I believe in a book that is supposedly full of fairy tales.  It’s not that I believe in fairy tales. I don’t believe in the right fairy tales. Paganism is alive and growing in America, and those folks love fairies. I can’t for the life of me figure out if these folks actually believe in that stuff, or if it’s just a fun little hobby with cuter art work than what comes from the Bible.

    The same goes for Devil worship and the different occults that pervade modern society. Do they really believe that Satan is more powerful than God, or is it just more fun than adhering to a religion that actually demands certain attitudes and behavior that goes against what a person naturally wants to do?

    Muslims? OK, they’re serious.

    Try to debate any of this and people will come up with stuff you never heard of. I saw a headline the other day that claimed that American Indians recognized 5 different genders. I started to read the article, but I got interrupted and never got back to it. It’s just as well. Thinking about it, I can’t see how that really relates to the argument. There are a lot of things that American Indians believed that I don’t. But I still wonder about the accuracy of the claim. There doesn’t seem to be any end to the things that progressives suddenly come up with to make their argument with. I do find it kind of interesting that they would refer to a culture from hundreds of years ago to make their modern, progressive argument.

    But that’s what progressivism is all about. Coming up with new ideas, new beliefs, new ways of looking at the world - beyond what people have clung to for centuries. It’s modern geniuses thinking outside the box, and selling the new ideas to the masses. After all, they’re intellectually superior to the rest of us. How dare we disagree?

    I don’t have that superior intellect. All I have is my Bible, and even that says that those who believe in it are foolish by the world’s standards. How can I sell it? I can’t. I’m not even expected to. All I’m expected to do is declare it. God will put faith into the heart of those that He will. The rest will just continue to consider me an idiot.