Three Fatal Dangers of Living for The Moment

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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.

Esau, focused solely on the need of the moment, willingly gave up his most prized possession for a cup of the soup.

Hebrews 12:16 says this about Esau, “See that no one . . . is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son” (NIV). The word “godless” denotes someone who lives for temporal and material matters with no regard for God or anything of spiritual value.

What are the dangers of living solely for the moment?

1. The Danger of Seeking Immediate Satisfaction

I wonder what made Esau’s hunger so intense on the day he sold his birthright. It’s difficult to imagine he was actually as close to death as he claimed. Why couldn’t he have waited for someone else to cook for him? Was Jacob really that great of a cook?

I don’t doubt Esau’s weariness or intense need to eat something. While perhaps not the most satisfying choice to him at the time, he could have refused Jacob’s birthright deal and sought other alternatives for supper. Why the urgency to immediately satisfy his hunger?

Desire by itself is not bad or sinful. Imagine never experiencing hunger or desiring good food. While that might be great for weight control, it would have fatal consequences.

It’s when we value the immediate satisfaction of a desire above all else, including the Lord, that we make foolish choices. Esau’s decision to sell his birthright was reckless; he put his immediate need above all other considerations.

Like Esau, it’s tempting to believe our desires must be fulfilled right away. Such a frame of mind frequently leads to sin as well as to unwelcome consequences.

2. The Danger of Ignoring Eternity

Second Corinthians 4:17-18 says, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” Does this verse not describe Esau’s fatal way of thinking who only thought of what he could see?

Esau valued the fleeting realities of this life over eternal values that he could not recognize. As a result, despite his later acquisition of much wealth and great power, we regard him as a failure today, one deemed “godless” by the writer of Hebrews.

Esau epitomizes those who live without an eternal perspective. He made decisions based on what he could see. The great promises God made to Esau’s grandfather Abraham represented something in the distant future with no bearing on his current life. As a result, he lived with little thought of the future or of what truly mattered.

We do not know what Abraham might have taught his descendants regarding eternity or the future resurrection. Hebrews 11:13-19 tells us that the old patriarch believed in both God’s ability to raise the dead and in “city” beyond this life. Abraham possessed an eternal perspective; he saw far beyond the need of the moment.

We can assume he passed on a vision of eternity to Isaac and perhaps also to Jacob and Esau, who would have been teenagers when Abraham died. He certainly handed down a perspective much different than the shortsightedness of Esau who thought only of this life thereby earning the scriptural designation as “godless.”

3. The Danger of Elevating Wealth above Eternity

When Jacob and Esau later reconciled, I believe Esau’s gracious attitude toward his brother resulted from the riches and fame he had gained in the intervening years. During the twenty years the brothers remained apart, Esau obtained all the material blessings, power, and worldwide recognition he desired. He approached Jacob with four hundred men, a sign of both considerable wealth and influence (Gen. 32:6).

Esau’s vast possessions and power caused him to forget about what truly mattered, the Lord and life after death.

Esau reminds me of the Lord’s parable about the rich fool in Luke 12:16-21. At the end of a bountiful harvest, the rich man vainly reflects on his wealth. Thinking his wealth came as the result of his own efforts, he boasts of the vastness of his fortune and security for the future. He focused solely on his efforts securing his future in this life with no thought of God or where he will spend eternity.

For the man in Jesus’ story, death came that very night. For Esau, the end did not come as quickly, yet the end result was the same. He eventually died, and his great wealth and power vanished. The question Jesus asked in Mark 8:36 seems pertinent in Esau’s case, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” I wonder if Jesus was thinking of Esau when he asked this question.

From a worldly perspective, some might argue Esau was anything but a failure. In addition to his success in acquiring livestock, riches, and power, the ancient nation of Edom descended from him. What did he lose by missing out on his father’s blessing? Jacob became the father of the nation of Israel, and Esau the forefather of the nation of Edom. Humanly speaking, their outcomes seem similar.

Scripture, however, views their lives quite differently. The writer of Hebrews praises the faith of Jacob (Heb. 11:21) but says Esau was “godless” (Heb. 12:16, NIV). Jacob’s name appears in the hall of fame for faith while God’s Word designates Esau as both “godless” and “immoral.”

Which evaluation would you prefer?

Note: If you are interested in reading more about Esau and other bad guys like him, my book, Shipwrecked! Learning From The Bible Bad Guys is available on Amazon.com. Like Esau, the other characters teach us much about the necessity of living with a Gospel-centered worldview and hope for what lies ahead in eternity (Rom. 15:4).

 

Why Do We Keep Watching?

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For a moment, I actually thought the rapture was occurring. I heard a trumpet blaring and for a brief moment I felt as though something was pulling me upward.

This happened when I was in college, over 40 year ago, during a time when I had been reading extensively about the rapture. Late one warm afternoon, I fell asleep at my desk in my dorm room. Suddenly, the sound of a loud trumpet fanfare awoke me from a deep sleep and I thought “this is it; the Lord is returning!” After a few seconds, I realized it was the sound of a trumpet warming up for a nearby band rehearsal.

I tell this humorous experience to stress that I have been watching for the Lord’s return for a long time, although not always that intently. After so many decades I do sometimes wonder, “Why do I keep watching? Why do any of us keep looking for Jesus to come and take us home?

It’s the Signs

Unlike when I was in college, today we see signs of biblical prophecies escalating all around us. The countries of Iran, Russian, and Turkey all have troops in Syria just as Ezekiel 38-39 predicts about an alliance of these same nations in the last days. Just in the past few weeks the world learned the following:

  • Iran is building a military base just eight miles north of Damascus that will soon have missiles capable of striking anywhere in Israel
  • North Korea has shipped components for chemical weapons to Syria along with building materials for a facility to build these weapons
  • Russia said it would regard any nuclear attack on one of its allies as an attack on Russia (Could they be thinking that Israel might consider using such weapons against the Iranian base?)
  • Putin, the president of Russia, recently boasted of new nuclear capabilities on rockets that will travel several times the speed of sound rendering our defenses useless.
  • Russian has stationed super stealth jets in Syria, perhaps as an added deterrent to Israel attacking the Iranian base
  • A top military leader in Israel stated that a major war between Israel and Iran is likely in 2018.

What do all these things mean? When (not if) Israel attacks this Iranian base, the likelihood of it leading to major conflict appears almost certain.

Could this be the Gog-Magog War of Ezekiel 38-39? We cannot know for certain. Even if it is a lessor conflict than the one the prophet predicted long ago, will it not almost certainly lead to the bigger war of Ezekiel 38-39 as Iran regathers its strength to invade Israel?

Add this to the mix the recent Iranian Parliament request for a timetable of one or two years for pulling its troops out of Syria. Is it possible that Iran, along with Russia and Turkey will strike before then? I believe if Iran’s Parliament enacts such a deadline, it’s likely this coalition will attack before that time.

And now Turkey is talking about a huge Arab coalition attacking Israel with a massive army. The drumbeats of the Gog-Magog war are getting louder.

What Do These Signs Have to Do with the Rapture?

At this point, you may be wondering what these signs have to do with the rapture. Why does the nearness of the Gog-Magog War point to the Lord’s return for His church?

Such a war would signify that the tribulation period is extremely close. Some commentators believe this war happens just before the Great Tribulation while some hold that it might happen right at its beginning. Either way, the nearness of this war points to the closeness of the seven-year time of God’s wrath upon the earth.

If the tribulation is rapidly approaching, and many signs point to it, then the rapture must be even closer since it is prophesied to happen just before the start of the Great Tribulation.

The growing turmoil in Syria and Iran’s constant threats against Israel are just two of numerous signs that we are living in the days of human history as we know it. If there was ever a time in history when the rapture could happen at any moment, this is it!!

The Early Church Watched As Well

Long, long before my experience in college at John Brown University, the earliest followers of Jesus also watched intently for His appearing to take them home. We see it all through the New Testament as turning to Christ meant waiting eagerly for Him to come (1 Thess. 1:9-10; Phil. 3:20-21; Titus 2:11-13).

The Didache, which means “teaching” in the Greek, is a brief document from the early years of the church that provides valuable insight into the anticipation of early believers for the return of Jesus. This document summed up the teaching of the apostles at a time when copies of the New Testament were not available or scarce at best. It provides a summary of what the apostles taught.

Chapter 16 of The Didache says this, “Watch for your life’s sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ready, for you know not the hour in which our Lord will come.”  These words indicate an immanency regarding the Lord’s appearing, such as would be the case for someone expecting Jesus’ return to occur at any moment. The early saints regarded Jesus’ command in Matthew 24:44 to mean they must watch for His appearing. They had the same expectancy as the New Testament saints.

I admit that after all these years it’s at times difficult to keep up a sense of watchfulness.

However, I then consider the signs and I also wonder about Israel’s upcoming seventieth anniversary, the moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem on May 14, 2018, and the new peace plan that is coming out soon from the United States.

As I hear about all these things added on to the events in Syria, my sense of eager watchfulness returns. It’s possible Jesus will return for us quite soon!

 

Why the Bible Bad Guys?

Saul and Samuel
King Saul explains his disobedience to the prophet Samuel.

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.

1. King Saul – I learned the most from King Saul. His reasoning (AKA excuses) in 1 Samuel 13 for disobeying God gives us several clues as to where his thinking went awry. After looking at several of his excuses we see that in the end he trusted the sacrifice rather than God Himself.

How do we avoid the trap of elevating our religious behavior above our trust in God? It’s not easy especially when God makes us wait and wait and wait. Yes, I have certainly been there! King Saul helps us formulate a strategy for waiting, especially when we find ourselves in tough spots.

2. Esau – Esau sold his most prized possession for a bowl of soup. What was he thinking? Trading in a birthright for stew likely seems quite foreign to most of us, however, it’s easy to copy Esau’s approach to life in other ways. How do we avoid Esau’s egregious shortsightedness? Is there a way to avoid the urgency of the moment?

What about eternity?

3. Absalom – This guy must have been extraordinarily handsome for the Bible to make such a big deal of his appearance. Unfortunately, his anger left him hanging in the end, so to speak.

What caused the intense resentment that led to Absalom’s downfall? How does the Gospel help us deal with such growing bitterness, the type that eventually destroyed Absalom?

4. Joab – Joab is the most celebrated military general in the Old Testament. Yet, he possessed a character flaw: he was a cold-blooded killer. Okay, you are right, it was much more serious than a flaw in his personality.

I doubt anyone reading my book is likely to stick a sword into someone’s belly, but at times we all feel the frustration of dealing with someone who gets in the way of something we very much desire. A careful look at Joab helps us apply the message of James 4:1-4 to our lives. We do not have to kill someone to follow the errant path of Joab. We can cause serious harm to those around us in other ways.

That is why the lessons we learn from Joab are so important!

5. John Mark – This guy shows us failure does not have to be the last chapter in our lives (although it is the last chapter in my book). How does the story of John Mark encourage us to persevere even when we think we have blown it, failed, run our life into the ditch? Okay, I think you get the point. John Mark shows the mercy of God in giving us multiple second chances.

If you are willing to travel down some of the back roads of Scripture and dive into the lives of some of its more shady characters, my book Shipwrecked! Learning From The Bible Bad Guys is available on Amazon.com.

 

 

Shipwrecked!

Shipwrecked front cover final

The Bible bad guys in Shipwrecked! teach us about our walk with the Lord. We learn where their thinking went awry, which led to disastrous decisions. They looked to the things of this life to bring them satisfaction.

In keeping with an emphasis on knowing God, I conclude each chapter in the book with a “Walking with God” section. The purpose of these concluding paragraphs is to focus on what each character teaches us about walking with the Lord through all the ups and downs of life.

When life does not go as planned, relying on a memorized list of what to do (or not do) rarely helps us. Instead, it’s our walk with God that gets us through those times. Although what he sends our way remains unpredictable, his character never changes. Even in the darkest times, we can know he dearly loves us and will provide the strength we need for whatever we face.

Shipwrecked! stresses bringing the Gospel into everyday frustrations and setbacks!

This book is now available on Amazon.com

O Lord, How Long?

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It’s almost too much to bear. I want to do more; I want to do so much more but I do not even know where to start.

I hear about the evils of the horrific sex trafficking and wonder now how people can be so wicked. And yet, this practice (undoubtedly inspired by demons) rakes in untold billions of dollars every year as pedophilia becomes more and more accepted in our society, much in the same way homosexuality became increasingly accepted decades earlier.

A year or two ago I watched videos of Planned Parenthood executives boasting about the dismembering and selling of baby parts and thought, “Surely Congress will take action against this atrocity.” Instead, I watched as leaders of the Republican Party supported the continued funding of this vile organization with our tax money. A couple weeks ago, I saw Democratic Senators celebrate the defeat of a bill that would have at least stopped the wicked practice of abortion after twenty weeks. How can these things be?

I delayed posting this article because of the Florida school shooting.  My heart grieves for the families who lost loved ones and for the students who are scarred with memories of that day. Senseless and brutal killing fill our world in the horrors of abortion clinics, in the churches of Nigeria, Egypt, and Sutherland Texas, and with the nonstop killing propagated by terrorists throughout our world. And now, even in our schools.

So I write for the few that will read my ramblings, I pray for the Lord to intervene, I look to what Scripture says about the last days, and I wonder, “How long?” Is this not what the Lord said would happen before His return?

Perilous Times

I like the New King James Version reading of 2 Timothy 3:1, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come.” Then the Apostle Paul goes on to describe the people of the last days as “heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:3-4, ESV).

For all the evils I listed above to become so prevalent in our world, these things must characterize many people, do they not? For those involved in the sex trade, do they not need to be “brutal” and “treacherous” to say nothing of the strong demonic influence over them? Absolutely! Do these traits not also describe the doctors at Planned Parenthood who spend their days torturing and murdering precious little bundles of life?

The problem of violence in our world is a heart and spiritual one. The rejection of Jesus and His words has opened the door for increased violence and demonic activity. It will only get worse as our society turns more and more away from the promises of our Savior and continues to see life as a product of godless evolution rather than as a gift from God to be valued and cherished.

What Is the End of All This?

When I look at the evils and violence in our world I feel much like Habakkuk when he voiced this complaint to the Lord regarding ancient Judah, “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you ‘Violence’ and you will not save?”

The Lord’s response to the prophet was basically this; He saw what was happening in Judah during the time of the prophet and would respond appropriately to the all the wickedness and violence.

God later gave Habakkuk a vision that I believe also applies to the Lord’s still future outpouring of His wrath upon sinful humanity. The Lord said this about what He would show to the prophet, “For still the vision awaits it appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay” (Hab. 2:3). In other words, God would have the last word on things then, He will have the last word on all the evils that is happening in our world today.

To me, at times the Lord seems rather slow to respond to the wickedness and violence in our world, but I know His day is surely coming.  In the meantime, the Lord is graciously giving time for believers to wake up and watch for His coming and for those outside the faith to repent and become heirs of eternal life.

Back in the 1970’s as I read God’s judgments in the book of Revelation, I wondered what would cause the Lord to be so angry with humanity as to pour out His wrath in such a great and terrible way. As I look at the world around me today, that question no longer enters my mind.

Instead, I ask the same question that the Psalmist asked, “O Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exalt?” (Psalm 94:3).

It’s not that I desire for God’s judgments to fall or for people to suffer; I do not wish these things on anyone. What I desire is justice for those who cruelly and viciously murder the unborn and for those who engage in all aspects of the vile behavior associated with sex trafficking.

The Lord will have the last word on all these things; count on it!

Scripture tells me two things in this regard. First, God will respond to the wickedness and violence in this world. Someday, perhaps soon, the Lord will have the last word on all these things. Count on it! And when He does they will wish they had never been born.

Second, many prophetic signs indicate that the day when the Lord pours out His wrath on sinful humanity is rapidly approaching. However, this day is being held back only by the Lord’s patience to give as many people as possible more time to repent. Jesus said earth at the time of His return would be like the days of Noah (Matt. 24:37-39). That was another time when God saw that “the earth was filled with violence” (Gen. 6:11). Does this not also sound like today?

Just as He intervened in the days of Noah, He will do so again. Please do not be like the scoffers of 2 Peter 3:3-9. Recognize the reason for His delay and watch!

I am thankful for the Lord’s patience with me and with humanity, but still I ask, “O Lord, how long?’

 

Shipwrecked!

Shipwrecked Cover

The above picture is what my first book will look like when Bold Vision Books publishes it sometime this spring, possibly as early as March.

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

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.

So that the readers of Shipwrecked! can easily find me, I am going to start using my name rather than “Eternity Versus the Moment” for my blog. The e-mails you receive from this blog will appear to come from me once this change is in place.

But don’t worry, while you may see a few posts about these Bible bad guys in the coming weeks, the emphasis of my blog will remain focused on eternity and our amazing and joyous hope of spending eternity with our Savior! We will be forever young!

I am excited about Shipwrecked! It’s my prayer that many will grow in their walk with the Lord as a result of reading this book and that several others will come to saving faith in Jesus.

Thank you all for your support and for following my blog!

Maranatha!!!

 

Forever Young, Forever Whole

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“Who is this guy with the wrinkles and droopy skin?” I asked myself as I stretched in front of a mirror at the gym (in a room with lights that revealed everything!). I looked every bit my age and for a moment I felt depressed.

Then I remembered Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:19, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” I think this is becoming one of my favorite verses! Even as believers, we have so much more to hope for than what this world can offer us even in the best of circumstances.

A little later in the chapter the apostle expanded upon our spectacular hope in verses 51-53, “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. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.”

Forever Young

In 1 Corinthians 15:42-55, the apostle describes our new future bodies that we will receive when Jesus comes for us, His true church. Whether we have died in Christ or remain alive in Him at the time, our hope is the same. Jesus will change our bodies into wondrously imperishable and immortal ones. They will last forever no longer subject to the rigors of the clock.

Gone will be all the signs of aging I saw staring back at me in the mirror that day. I believe Christ will restore our bodies to what we looked like in early adulthood. He will not only erase all the signs of aging, but also all the scars and physical infirmities we have incurred during the course of our lives. We will have bodies like Jesus’ glorious resurrected body.

This means no more flu! This has been a particularly awful season for flu and a host of other sicknesses. Most people have either gotten sick with the flu or know someone they love who has succumbed to it. The good news about our new bodies is they will never again suffer with any sickness or infirmity.

Forever Whole

In a post last week, I quoted John Eldredge as saying this, “We are all traumatized and fragmented; no one passes through this vale of tears without it. And our Healer will make us whole again. . . . Think of it—to be whole hearted. To be filled with goodness from head to toe. To have an inner glory that matches the glory of your new body . . . .”[i]

Along with our glorious bodies, Jesus will also give us an inner wholeness or soundness such as we have never experienced.  Think of it, absolute and total emotional, spiritual, and mental wholeness! Total wellness from head to toe, inside and outside!

In Revelation 21:4-5 we read, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’” Death, tears, and sorrow will all be things of the past.

In eternity we will be free from the presence of sin and all its ravages that have wreaked havoc in our lives on earth in one way or another. We will be complete experiencing sinless perfection throughout our being.

As a young pastor many years ago, I suffered greatly as the result of the actions of others along with my own foolish mistakes. It took a long time for the Lord to perform His healing work on the all the wounds stemming from those years of brokenness.

Although the Lord has restored my life and healed past wounds in truly miraculous ways, I still identify with Eldredge’s words regarding the trauma and fragmentation we all feel to some extent even as beloved children of God. I long for the complete wholeness that Jesus will give me someday in the resurrection!

Like a clock with no hands, time will no longer matter to us. We will be free from all its limitations!

Forever young, forever whole! Can you understand why Paul said that if our hope resides solely in this life “we are of all people most to be pitied?” If this life is all we have, we would have no hope at all.

However, when we look at what the Lord promises us, is not our expectation of eternal joy more than we can fully grasp in this life?

Like a clock with no hands, time will no longer matter to us. We will be free from all its limitations!

Spend some time today trying to imagine what your future life will be like without any of the ravages of sickness, aging, and emotional brokenness. What will your life be like with an imperishable body free from all the constraints of time?

 

[i] John Eldredge, All Things New (Nashville: Nelson books, 2017), p. 86.

 

We Are Summoning Up Demons

Sophia

(Below is an article written by Jan Markell about artificial intelligence [AI]. As Jan explains, AI is not something that is coming in the future; it is here now and developing far more quickly than even its founders imagined. Many of them are sounding the alarm about it. Is this setting the stage for the tribulation? How far will God let this go?

The Billy Crone videos mentioned later in the article are long, but quite fascinating, informative, and well worth the time.)

I started watching videos online of robots who look human and who “think.” They answer questions and seem to process real thoughts. Developers of these robots say someday they will solve society’s problems. Such men also believe that it is possible for artificial intelligence to be a billion times smarter than humans. Try to process that!

Various leaders in the field of “AI” have made some of the following statements:

  • “The human era could be ending and machines will take over.”
  • “He who develops AI rules the world. We aren’t going to be able to control it.”
  • “We are summoning up demons.”
  • “We are playing with fire.”
  • “This is one of the dumbest things we can do.”
  • “Soon robots will walk among us. They will play with us, teach us, and they will truly be our friends.”
  • “AI will be smarter than humans and will become a god.”
  • “AI could become the worst event in the history of civilization.”
  • “In the end, the machines will win.”

Maybe this new religion isn’t the promise of paradise after all. Some promoting AI are evangelists and some of them offer a new Promised Land. But some of the very movers and shakers of the artificial intelligence industry are sounding serious warnings.

This is really not the wave of the future as it is all being employed now! Outfits like Google have every bit of information on us they need: Address, e-mail, occupation, history, photos, our family, our interests, our searches. Simply stated, they have all our vitals.

So how will this play into Antichrist’s agenda? Will this manage all buying and selling? We want tech companies to work for us but we end up fitting into their plans and purposes! Dare I say, we are almost their useful idiots.

We’re all aware of the biblical prophecy found in Daniel 12:4 that knowledge will increase in the last days. But machines smarter than people? Surely God would never allow that to happen. He created mankind in His image and He didn’t create them to be superseded by computer chips. That is not stopping man from trying!

In 1948 there was a milestone event as it concerns “signs of the times.” That was the re-birth of Israel 70 years ago. Are we in the generation of a more current sign that could involve end-time technology, the “image of the beast,” “mark of the beast”, etc? Could this wave of technology be as relevant as the stirring of the dry bones? We look at that 1948 happening in a rear-view mirror. Technology is a 21st century fulfillment.

Viewing one now-famous robot, Sophia, is a bit unnerving. YouTube loves to feature her and has introduced her to millions. She is attractive, clothed, looks you in the eye, and answers your questions. She can be your friend, companion, problem solver, and perhaps someday, your spouse. At the very least, she will run your errands and put away your groceries. In the wrong hands, she will be dangerous.

Young people are particularly drawn to artificial intelligence. Some will tell you that they can get an answer more quickly from Google or Alexa than they can from God. Who needs God in an age of artificial intelligence? Who needs an invisible God? And Google or Alexa may tell you what you want to hear in Technicolor, 3-D, and instantaneously! Don’t brush this off as silliness. It’s our world today. Welcome to the brave new world.

Google admits that they want to be like the mind of God and suggests we will be “godlike.” They are grabbing bundles of data from us. There is a “home invasion” going on by the world of technology. If you think you have privacy, think again! We are being monitored and this is not crazy talk. It is not sensationalism. It is not kooky conspiracy language.

The world of “Big Brother” exists and will be in full bloom during the Tribulation from which the Church is absent. And as I quoted above, an inventor admits, “This is one of the dumbest things we can do.” It has a very dark side.

In late January I featured artificial intelligence expert Pastor Billy Crone on air for a two-week series on AI. You can access the programs from January 20-21 and January 27-28 here or here.

You may not be skilled in technology and you may think this doesn’t affect your life but it does. And it’s a guarantee that younger people in your world are captivated by all of this.

Things are falling into place.

AI cannot speak anything into existence or give anyone eternal life. It cannot give anyone comfort, guidance, or offer anyone peace or hope. It cannot still the wind or calm the sea. It is more like Frankenstein than like God. It is trying to be like God but will fall far short! We are fearfully and wonderfully made. AI is fearfully fraudulent.

Stay ahead of the game and become informed. Events of the Tribulation are casting a shadow today. The shout and the trumpet are close. He is coming soon! God sits in the Heavens and laughs at these people (Psalm 2).He will allow them a short season of notoriety and then will crush the evil doers at His Second Coming.

The Renewal of All Things

Animals

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.

Yet, his wondrously comforting and hopeful message continually warms and excites my heart. At a time when many popular Christian authors deny the reality of Jesus’ kingdom and pastors preach about the Gospel without even mentioning eternity, John Eldredge’s book seems like a breath of fresh air to me. He unashamedly tells of the grandeurs and wonders that await us when Jesus’ kingdom arrives.

The author takes us beyond the woes and disappointments of this world by first concentrating on the renewal of all creation.

Renewal of Creation

John Eldredge writes about the renewal of creation as only a avid lover of nature could do. Throughout this section of the book, Eldredge lets his imagination run wild as he contemplates the wonders of the new earth. Here is a sample:

        What will waterfalls be like in the new earth? What of the giant sequoias or tender wildflowers? What will rain be like? And think of your special places; imagine what it will be like to see them in their glory. How sweet it will be to revisit treasured nooks and vistas, gardens and swimming holes again, see them as they truly “are” unveiled, everything God meant them to be. Part of what makes the wonder so precious is that while it is a “new” world, it is our world, the world dearest to our hearts, romance at its best.[i]

Imagine our increased enjoyment of the Rocky Mountains, for example, in bodies that will never wear out or grow weary!

Let your imaginations run free as well about the wonders ahead for us! Maybe we will walk among giraffes and other large animals. I would love that!

Forever Young and Whole

When Eldredge writes of our restoration, he goes beyond the immortal and imperishable bodies we will receive when Jesus comes for us (see 1 Cor. 15:50-55). He puts it this way in describing how we will be forever young, “Death is utterly swept away at the Great Restoration. And not only death, but every other form of sorrow, assault, illness, and harm we’ve ever known. You will be completely renewed—body, soul, and spirit.”[ii]

Did you catch that? It will not just be our bodies that will be completely restored and better than ever, but absolutely everything about us!

Eldredge goes far beyond our future immortal bodies to show how the renewal will encompass all the broken places and lingering wounds in our hearts.  There is so much more to our restoration than just the physical aspect.

Eldredge writes, “We are all traumatized and fragmented; no one passes through this vale of tears without it. And our Healer will make us whole again. . . . Think of—to be whole hearted. To be filled with goodness from head to toe. To have an inner glory that matches the glory of your new body . . . .”[iii]

Can you imagine what that will be like? I am not sure I can.

In Jesus’ kingdom, we will be made completely whole. All the things we struggle with on earth, all our fears, the anger, and resentment, Jesus will wondrously and forever remove. Think of it! Again John writes, “What tender intimacy is foretold when we are promised that our loving Father will wipe every tear from our eyes personally—not only tears of sorrow, but all the tears of shame, guilt, and remorse. That moment alone will make the whole journey worth it.”[iv]

As followers of Jesus, we possess an amazing future, a wondrous and joyous eternity. The heartbreaks, disappointments, and sorrows of this present world are temporal and fleeting. In eternity, Jesus will make all things new in our world including our souls, minds, and hearts.

It’s no wonder Satan does all he can to keep our focus on this life. Our enemy knows how a proper two-world perspective motivates us to live for our Savior. If he can keep us looking for joy solely in this life, he steals the joy and overwhelming comfort that comes from focusing our hearts on what Jesus promises us after this life.

C.S. Lewis aptly summed up our disconnect between this life and our coming eternal holiday in Jesus’ kingdom this way,

“Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”[v]

I feel the same pull C.S. alludes to, that of elevating the things we see above unseen and eternal realities. However, as followers of Christ we look forward to a wondrous and joyous kingdom in which the Lord will restore creation to its original glory and make us completely whole in our body, spirit, and soul. What a day that will be!! It will be like a “holiday at the sea,” although I would prefer a lengthy stay at a remote mountain cabin alongside a cool flowing stream.

 

[i] John Eldredge, All Things New (Nashville: Nelson books, 2017), p. 69.

[ii] Ibid. p. 86

[iii]Ibid., pp. 93-94

[iv] Ibid., p. 95

[v] C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (New York: Touchstone, 1975). p. 26.

Author, Speaker, and Teacher

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I have been posting articles on this blog for over a year and a half and have not really introduced myself (unless one has in the past gone to the “Who and Why” page and scrolled way to the bottom). Of the 232 followers on this blog, probably about 30 are friends and family so most of you do not know much about me.

So, allow me to finally introduce myself. My name is Jonathan Brentner and I am a writer, Bible teacher at my church, a hopeful speaker, and a blogger (as you well know).

My interest in writing started during my six years as a senior pastor when I had the opportunity to write adult Sunday school curriculum for David C. Cook. That was the summer of 1984 and I still produce Bible lessons for them.

When painful circumstances led to a change of careers after six years as a pastor, I returned to school to pursue an MBA degree with an emphasis in accounting and Finance. I graduated with the degree in 1990 and worked my way up to a position as a Senior Financial Analyst at the company where I worked.

After over twenty years in that career, I retired in June of 2016 to pursue my passion for writing on a full-time basis.

My first book, Shipwrecked! Learning from the Bible Bad Guys, is due for publication by Bold Vision Books sometime in the early spring of 2018.

Like the characters in Shipwrecked!, life often does not turn out as we hope or plan. The guys in this book all knew about God, but chose to give in to their feelings of anger, bitterness, and resentment rather than look to the Lord in their distress. As a result, life did not end well for most of them.

I learned many of these lessons the hard way. When painful circumstances overwhelmed me as a pastor, I became angry with God and desired to run far away from Him and other believers.

During this time, however, God intervened and I began to see that the Lord was not a vending machine who gives us expected results in return for our good behavior. He is rather a personable God who desires we walk with Him in faith even when our lives, at least for the moment, seem to be a disaster. I found along with John Mark, the final character in Shipwrecked!, that failure does not need to be the final chapter in our lives.

 

In addition to my writing and teaching, I lead a small group from our church made up of wonderful people that meet each Thursday night in our home.

I live in North Liberty, Iowa with my charming wife Ruth. Together we have five children and ten grandchildren scattered about Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, and Texas.