First the Blade

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Introduction

I have always been intrigued by the ministry of Smith Wigglesworth, a Pentecostal pioneer. He has touched millions of believers with his exploits and teaching.

Wigglesworth (1859 – 1947) was born into a poor family in Yorkshire, England. As a child, he worked in the fields pulling turnips and working in the mills rather than attending schools. As a teenager, a man taught Wigglesworth the plumbing trade, which he worked at until he became a full-time evangelist.

After his marriage in 1882, his wife Polly eventually taught him how to read when he was twenty-seven years old. He made up his mind from that point forward to read little else but the Bible.

Many of his Christians peers referred to Wigglesworth as the Apostle of Faith. Their reasoning was based on his successful world-wide ministry that saw tens of thousands of people saved, thousands healed and hundreds of thousands taught to walk closer to the Lord. Numerous accounts even testify that Wigglesworth raised at least fourteen people from the dead.

Wigglesworth’s quotes still inspire Christians today:

“Great faith is the product of great fights. Great testimonies are the outcome of great tests. Great triumphs can only come out of great trials.”

“It is better to live ready than to get ready!”

“There is nothing our God cannot do. He will do everything if you dare to believe.”

“Some read their Bibles in Hebrew, some in Greek; I like to read mine in the Holy Ghost.”

“A man is in a great place when he has no one to turn to but God.”

“God wants us so badly that He has made the condition as simple as He possibly could: only believe.”

“There is something about believing God that will cause Him to pass over a million people to get to you.”

“If you seek nothing but the will of God, He will always put you in the right place at the right time.”

Once, Smith Wigglesworth was talking with some Bible school students when one asked, “How can I be like you?”

“First the blade, then the ear and after that the full corn in the ear,”Wigglesworth replied.

Wigglesworth used Mark 4:28 to underline an important point to the young man. He wanted the student to understand it takes time and proper preparation for a new believer to grow in his spiritual walk with the Lord. It’s not an overnight happening!

My hope in writing this book is to encourage Christians – young and old – to take the time to build a proper foundation for their spiritual journeys with the Lord.

Chapter 1

Can We Trust the Bible?

On May 20, 1985, I gave my life to the Lord. Yes, I was a changed man, but I had no clue about what to do next. And to be honest, I didn’t even know how to label myself.

I phoned Bill Sheridan at 8 a.m. the following morning and told him about my conversion on the bathroom floor. Then, I asked, “What am I? Am I a follower of some weird cult like Hare Krishna? Or what?”

Bill laughed. “No, you’re not a follower of Hare Krishna or any weird cult. You’re a born-again believer. A Christian.”

“A Christian? I’m just a Christian! I’ve never met a Christian like me in my whole life.”

We talked a little longer and he advised me to read the Bible, beginning in the Book of Matthew. A couple of hours later, I bought a New King James Bible for $7.95 at Nelson’s Bookstore in downtown Fort Dodge, Iowa. I took it home and then was faced with a new dilemma.

You see, two days earlier I was an agnostic who believed the Bible was a man-made book of religious gobbledygook. Now, I held one in my hands and the friend who was instrumental in bringing about my salvation advised me to read it. What should I do? I thought.

“Lord, You showed me how real and alive You are yesterday when you saved me from committing suicide. So, I’m going to read this Bible and trust that it is Your truth. I may not understand everything, but if You help me, I will do my best,” I said aloud.

The Lord honored my prayer, but I wish the following information about the Bible would have been available to me back then. It would have erased every doubt in my mind:

The Bible was written over a period of 1,600 years by over forty different authors from all walks of life. There were fishermen, politicians, generals, kings, shepherds and historians. These men were born on three different continents and wrote in three different languages. They wrote on hundreds of controversial subjects, yet they wrote in perfect agreement and harmony. They wrote in dungeons, in temples, on beaches, and on hillsides, during peacetime and during war. Yet their words sound like they came from the same source. So, even though ten people today could not write on one controversial subject and agree, God picked forty very different people to write the Bible—and it has stood the test of time.

But is it accurate?

Barton Payne’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy lists 1,239 prophecies in the Old Testament and 578 prophecies in the New Testament, for a total of 1,817. These encompass 8,352 verses.

In the Old Testament there are prophesies against Tyre, Sidon, Ammon, Moab, Philistia, Egypt, Edom, Syria, Elam, Damascus, Gaza, Judah, Israel, and Babylon, to name a few.  Not one prophecy failed to be fulfilled with complete accuracy.

Let’s take a look at how many prophecies there are in the Old Testament that were fulfilled by Jesus. Alfred Edersheim concluded that there are at least 456 passages in the Old Testament that Jewish Rabbis historically have interpreted as being about the Messiah.

What would be the odds of just eight of these prophecies coming true, especially since they are from five different authors writing hundreds of years apart?

(1) Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2)

(2) Messiah would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver. (Zechariah 11:12-13)

(3) Messiah’s clothes would be gambled away. (Psalms 22:18)

(4) Messiah’s hands and feet would be pierced. (Psalms 22:16)

(5) Messiah’s bones would not be broken. (Psalms 34:20)

(6) Messiah would be born of the tribe of Judah.  (Isaiah 37:31)

(7) Messiah would be called out from Egypt. (Hosea 11:1)

(8) Messiah would be buried in a rich man’s grave. (Isaiah 53:9)

The odds of all eight coming true are virtually incomprehensible! The number is written mathematically as 1014 or 100,000,000,000,000 to one.

But according to Edersheim, there are 456 scriptures that speak of the Messiah! I am not sure there is a number high enough to express the odds of fulfilling all 456 of those—not to mention all 1,817 prophecies found in the Bible. This is proof that the Author of these prophecies knew the future. The God who created the universe out of nothing knows the past, present, and future.

(All of these Bible facts are provided by Mario Murrillo and Dr. J. Smith at mariomurilloministries.wordpress.com, September 15, 2019, in the article, “Believers are leaving the Bible but the Bible will survive.”)

I am a believer who believes we can trust the Bible. How about you?

Chapter 2

Is it Important to Grow our Faith?

But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6 AMP)

For our salvations, God gives everyone a portion of faith which is more than enough for us to say, “Yes,” to His being Lord of our lives. Yet, this saving faith is only a miniscule amount compared to what is needed to truly “fight the good fight of faith” throughout our journeys with the Lord.

Some may be satisfied with the amount of faith they received at salvation and aren’t willing to put any effort into growing their faith. That is their choice.  At least, they are saved! Yet, they need to understand that this is not pleasing to God and will cause them problems throughout their lives. Maybe in finances, sickness, relationships or whatever.

Now, for everyone else, let’s learn how to trust God more and more by growing in our faith on a daily basis.

Twenty-five years ago, I had a vision of thousands of Christians walking along a high mountaintop. Life was good. Everyone enjoyed the blessings being given to them by God. Then I saw a tsunami of calamities strike the Christians. So overwhelming were the calamities that almost all of the Christians lost hope and were swept off the mountain and over a cliff into a chasm of deep despair and defeat. A few believers still hung onto the edge of the cliff by their fingernails after the wave of calamities passed.

But as I looked on, I knew these few survivors could not last through another wave of calamities without giving up and also falling into the chasm of despair and defeat along with the others.

As I looked at this horrible scene in the vision, the Holy Spirit spoke to me. “These Christians did not like the Word of Faith messengers I sent to the Body of Christ. They did not like their hairstyles or their clothing or the way they talked or acted. But most of all, they did not receive the revelation of faith, which I wanted the Body to have so they could withstand the trials, which are heading toward America. I want you to go and tell them they need the Word of Faith revelation.”

I am certainly not what you would call a Word of Faith teacher, but I do have a deep revelation of faith, which I received from Word of Faith teachings. My faith revelation has allowed me to walk through a divorce, snowstorms with wind chills of -50 degrees, sleeping in cars, digging in garbage dumpsters, and business reversal after reversal, all without ever falling into despair and defeat.

When I had this vision twenty-five years ago, I did not have a revelation about the End-Times because that wasn’t on my radar screen until the last four years or so. Now, I’m convinced the tsunami of calamities I saw in the vision are a part of the tribulation and persecutions awaiting believers in the soon arriving Great Tribulation.

It’s my belief that if we American Christians do not prepare ourselves for the End-Times that maybe 50 to 75% or more of us will be a part of the Great Falling Away the Apostle Paul mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. Those percentages could add up to forty to seventy million believers. Unbelievable, right?

So, I don’t want to be disobedient to the heavenly vision, which was given to me over twenty-five years ago. Thus, I will be writing about faith in the next few chapters.

 

Chapter 3

Building a Foundation of Faith (a)

The four Gospels provide us with an interesting study on faith in the life of Peter:

According to Josephus, Peter was in his early to mid-twenties when he began following Jesus. He was married, had a house, owned a boat with his brother, Andrew, and partnered in a fishing business with James and John, who also owned a boat.

During his three years of following Jesus, Peter watched Jesus turn water into wine, heal his mother-in-law, raise three people from the dead (Talitha, man from Nain, and Lazarus), cast out two thousand demons from one man, feed the five thousand, feed the four thousand, and do countless miracles, which John stated “if they were written in detail…the world could not contain the books that would be written.”

Besides all the signs, wonders, and miracles, it was Peter who called out to Jesus, “…command me to come to You on the water.”  Why did Peter make his request to walk on water in such an odd manner?

When Peter saw the wind and waves, he began to sink. Jesus reached out His hand and saved him, but why did Jesus say to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

After all, there were eleven disciples still sitting safely inside the boat who had zero faith to step out of the boat and walk on water. Why would Jesus be so tough on Peter who at least had enough faith to get out of the boat?

There was also the time the temple authorities asked Peter whether Jesus would pay the two-drachma temple tax. Peter said, “Yes.” But when Peter arrived at the home of Jesus, the Lord spoke first and gave him a short teaching on sons versus strangers. Jesus said to Peter:

“…go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me. (Matthew 17:27)

Why was Peter given such an unusual supernatural assignment? Why not one of the other disciples?

It all goes back to when Peter first met Jesus along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus used Peter’s boat as a teaching platform and afterward He directed Peter to sail his boat out into the Sea of Galilee to drop the nets into deep waters. Jesus’ words were totally opposite to how a Galilean fisherman caught fish, as fishing was done at night, never during the day.

Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets. (Luke 5:5)

 When Peter obeyed Jesus’ words, the results were so successful Peter had to signal for James and John to bring their boat out to help with the fishing catch. That experience caused Peter, Andrew, James, and John to leave the fishing business and follow Jesus. (29)

This revelation of listening to the words of Jesus and then obeying His directions became a foundation for Peter’s faith. If you look closely at the four Gospels, you will notice it was usually Peter who answered Jesus’ questions or had inspired revelations which he then spoke.

Before the apostle Paul arrived on the scene, Peter had this revelation:

So then, faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

It was Peter who denied Christ three times. And why did that happen?

 

Chapter 4

Jesus prayed and worshipped with eleven of His disciples on that Passover night in the Garden of Gethsemane. The scene then quickly changed when 300 Roman soldiers, and thirty or forty temple officers and slaves, showed up with swords, clubs, lanterns, and torches.

But even in that moment, Jesus was in charge. At His words, “I am He,” the cohort of soldiers and the temple group stepped back and fell to the ground. This demonstration of power and authority by Jesus most certainly inspired his eleven disciples, who were not only outnumbered thirty to one, but they were armed with only two swords.

Judas stepped forward and kissed Jesus. The temple officers seized Jesus when they saw the kiss.

“Lord, shall we strike with the sword,” said one of the disciples.

In that same instant, Peter drew his sword and sliced off the ear of the high priest’s slave, a man named Malchus.

Let’s pause and consider the scene in the garden that night, okay?

Peter stood there, holding his sword, ready to protect his King David from the Romans and the Temple group. Adrenalin pumped through his veins. Maybe he envisioned himself as one of the two men who stood with David in the middle of a barley field, slaying an entire Philistine army. But no matter what, Peter stood there, boldly willing to die for what he believed.

The wounded man, Malchus, writhed in pain. Blood gushed out of the wound and his ear lay on the ground. No one paid much attention to the wounded man because all eyes focused on Peter and his sword.

Three hundred battle-hardened Roman soldiers, who were armed with lances, shields, swords, and armor, readied themselves to attack the insurrectionists. They had no fear of a fisherman with a sword and were ready to kill Peter and the other disciples, thus ending the rebellion at its outset.

The new King David – Jesus – then revealed His kingdom to everyone in the garden. He reached out and healed Malchus. He turned to Peter and said, “Put the sword into the sheath.”

In that moment, I think Peter realized what he believed about his King David and His kingdom was incorrect. He had been deceived. His faith for the deception instantly dried up. He and the other disciples fled the garden without uttering another word.

So crushed was Peter’s faith that when he stood in the courtyard outside the Sanhedrin, where Jesus was on trial, he no longer had the heart to die for his King or the kingdom. A servant-girl and a few bystanders even heard him deny Christ three times.

When the women told about the angel and the empty tomb, Peter along with the other disciples believed it was nonsense. Jesus, upon His appearance, rebuked the eleven for their unbelief and hardness of heart in the matter.

We all know about Jesus telling Peter at the Passover supper he was about to be sifted by Satan and also, that Jesus had prayed for Peter’s faith not to fail. But have you ever noticed these two scriptures:

Saying, “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon. (Luke 24:34)

And that He appeared to Cephas [Peter], then to the twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:5)

These are the only two scriptures, which mention Jesus had a special meeting with Peter alone before meeting with the rest of the apostles. We have no scriptural record of what Jesus said to Peter.

What do you think Jesus said to Peter at that special meeting?

 

Chapter 5

Building a Foundation of Faith (c)

It was Peter who had the heaven inspired revelation of Jesus.

Jesus said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Matthew 16: 15 – 16)

 Even though Peter had a deep revelation and knew Jesus had words of eternal life, Peter had years of Jewish teachings on all of the unfulfilled prophecies for Israel. The unfulfilled prophecies must have seemed to be at odds with Jesus’ teachings. How could the promises for Israel’s restoration be fulfilled if you had to become like a child to enter into the kingdom of God?

What did Peter do?

He probably put two and two together to figure out the kingdom of God from what Jesus taught and what he already knew. Therefore, if Jesus was the Messiah and Israel had been promised that a Redeemer would restore Israel to its former prosperous place in history, then the Kingdom of God would be much like Israel was under King David, except the new King would do miracles. Peace would come. The lamb and the wolf would graze together, the lion would eat straw with the ox and dust would be the serpent’s food.

There are numerous scriptures backing up Peter’s logic, but it was neither God’s way nor His timing. So, when Jesus taught the disciples He was going to suffer, die, be buried and then be raised up again, Peter could not believe his ears and even rebuked Him. Jesus said to him:

Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s. (Matthew 16:23)

 This particular exchange took place a little more than six months before Jesus’ death on the cross. All through the weeks following this particular event, Jesus continued to teach His disciples.

“Let these words sink into your ears, for the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.” But they did not understand this statement, and it was concealed from them so that they would not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this statement. (Luke 9: 45 – 46)

Remember: the Kingdom of God − between Jesus first coming and His second coming − is a spiritual kingdom, which is not seen with the human eye. It is one which has to be received by faith and cannot be understood by logic or knowledge.

Thus, Peter’s faith in his deception came to an end in the Garden of Gethsemane.

What did Jesus say to Peter at the special meeting He had alone with Peter?

I believe Jesus said approximately the same words to Peter, which He spoke to Cleopas and the other traveler when He met them near Emmaus:

And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. (Luke 24: 25 – 27)

All of these Old Testament scriptures spoken by the Living Word would have opened Peter’s eyes so that his heart would have burned in his chest once more, filled with faith.

What can we learn about faith from Peter’s experience?

And Jesus answered, saying to them, “Have faith in God.” (Mark 11: 22)

Our faith must always, always, always be in God and not in our interpretations of Scripture. It is God who is the Author and Finisher of our faith, not our traditions.

 

Chapter 6

Building a Foundation of Faith (d)

Almost everything we do for the Lord requires faith on our parts, but some things may require even more faith on our parts.

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” (Matthew 17: 19-20)

In the late fall of 1995, I lived with a friend in an apartment in Ames, Iowa. To say I was going through bad times would be a classic understatement. My truck had been repossessed. My painting company had collapsed. There were a couple of dollars in my billfold with few hopes of earning more. I had to stand on a stepladder to touch bottom in my life.

My roommate and I felt we should pray for Northern Ireland on one particular morning. We began praying in tongues, waiting on the Holy Spirit to show us how to intercede for that war-torn area.

As we prayed, I had a vision in which I saw the bodies of young people piled up in the streets of Belfast. There were thousands of them. All had their lives snuffed out by the continued violence between the Catholics and Protestants.

The vision so disturbed me I could do nothing but weep. We eventually prayed as best we could to stop the vision from happening in Northern Ireland, but I had no inner peace. The main problem seemed to be that I knew I had an important prophetic word for Northern Ireland within my spirit, waiting to be given.

I went to my bedroom and prayed some more. I asked the Lord to give the prophecy to a well-known preacher. After all, who would listen to me? As soon as I prayed these words, I knew it was a bad idea so I quickly repented.

“Okay, Lord, show me how to speak the prophecy to Northern Ireland,” I prayed and with those words, I finally had peace.

A couple of days later, the Lord impressed me to visit a Catholic church near the Iowa State University campus. I walked in the door and asked if anybody knew someone in Northern Ireland. They laughed, but one person told me to talk with a secretary in the basement.

I went to the secretary. She did not know anyone in Ireland, but she knew the name of the Catholic Charismatic leader in Des Moines, Iowa. “Maybe that person knows someone in Ireland,” she said.

I phoned the Catholic Charismatic leader in Des Moines. “I don’t know anyone in Ireland,” she said, “but my husband knows the head of the Catholic Charismatic movement in England.”

Her husband got on the line and gave me the phone number.

I phoned the number in England early the next morning and talked with the leader’s wife because the leader was busy at some meetings in London. I told her why I was calling and what I needed.

“Funny,” she said, “but I’m looking at the exact person you need. His picture is on the cover of a book.” She then gave me the information for the man.

After hanging up, I sat down at the table and wrote the prophetic word, which I had for Northern Ireland. I mailed it to the Charismatic leader in Belfast.

Now, this whole experience was by faith, and as soon as I dropped the letter into the mailbox, all of my faith was used up. Every doubt in the world hit me. Who did I think I was? A nobody. A failure. I didn’t even belong to a church. No pastor would ever vouch for me. The Irish leader would take one look at my name, my handwritten letter and laugh.

But in the midst of those doubts, I knew enough to run to the throne of grace and ask for grace and mercy to help me.

A week or so later on a Sunday afternoon, the telephone rang.

“Hello,” I answered.

“Larry, I’m Cecil Kerr from Belfast, Ireland,” he said, “and I’m calling to thank you for the prophetic word you sent me. Our prayer group had been waiting for weeks for just such a word and we are already praying your prophetic word into fruition. So, from all of us, we thank you for your obedience to the Holy Spirit.”

We talked for a few minutes and then we said goodbye. As soon as I hung up, I fell on my knees and cried. I can still feel the emotions of that moment and how small I felt compared to a big, big God.

The next day, our phone was disconnected because we owed two months of phone bills.

If we want to change our community, our state and our nation, we can do it, but we must build our faith so mountains will move out of our way.

 

Chapter 7

Building a Foundation of Faith (e)

In Jesus’ third year of ministry, the twelve disciples asked the Lord to increase their faith. You would expect the disciples to sit on the ground, pull out their notebooks and write down His every word because this was such an important question.

Maybe Jesus could have rolled out a large blackboard in front of the twelve. He might have reached for a piece of chalk in His robe and wrote the top ten points on how to increase the disciples’ faith.

But instead of a ten-point lecture, He gave a simple, one sentence illustration:

“If you have faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.” (Luke 17: 6)

Scripture does not reveal the disciple’s reactions. Thus, we must assume the disciples were satisfied with His answer because Scripture does not suggest they ever asked the same question again.

How does this one sentence explain how we Christians can increase our faith?

First of all, who spoke the simple, one sentence illustration? Jesus – the Living Word – did.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

Faith instantly arises in our hearts when Jesus speaks to us.

This can happen while we are reading the Bible and a verse jumps off the page, touching our hearts with a deep impression. The verse may be the exact answer we need at that moment or sometime in the future. Thus, our faith comes alive because we believe the Lord has spoken to us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

It could happen while we are grilling hamburgers on the patio, our appetites hungering for a tasty meal and our minds solely on the task at hand. Out of nowhere, we know how to handle a situation, which had been bugging us for days. We then have the faith to apply the answer because we know it came via the Holy Spirit, who only speaks what the Lord tells Him.

Other possible ways the Lord may speak to us are through prophetic words, dreams, visions, songs, movies and whatever. The list is endless because our Lord is a creative speaker. But no matter how He does it, we end up knowing the Lord is speaking to us because of the lasting impression it leaves on our hearts.

Okay, we understand how faith comes alive when Jesus speaks to us, but why the mustard seed?

The mustard seed was the smallest seed in Israel. When germinated and under the proper growing conditions, the seed grew into a mature bush within three months’ time to an average height of seven feet tall. The mature plant was strong enough for birds to nest in its branches.

Therefore, when Jesus used the mustard seed as His example, He was talking about the seed’s one-sided genetic focus (or faith) to be the largest garden plant. The seed never doubted or waivered in its faith to be all it was called to be. The seed could even lie dormant for over sixty years, but when the conditions were right, it would fulfill its genetic calling by growing into a mature plant.

Although the mustard seed is tiny, mustard-seed faith is not a small amount of faith. It is 100%, put-your-hand-to-the-plow-and-not-look-back, all-in faith. It is the pinnacle of faith and where we need to set our sights.

How can we have mustard-seed faith for ourselves?

First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. (Mark 4:28)

 

Chapter 8

Building a Foundation of Faith (f)

I received a lump of faith when I gave my life to the Lord on May 20, 1985. It was my unique lump, not your lump or Smith Wigglesworth’s or Francis Chan’s lump. It was the lump the Lord knew had the potential to bring me through every trial, every battle, and every circumstance, which laid ahead of me in my life.

I emphasized the word potential because our individual lumps of faith can best be compared to the muscles of a newborn baby. The newborn’s undeveloped muscles can move the baby’s arms, hands and legs a little bit at first, but not much. It takes time and effort for the muscles to develop so a baby can crawl, walk, run, or ride a tricycle.

When the baby reaches his teenage years, maybe the youth is a good athlete and has a dream to play pro football in the NFL. To achieve this goal, he will have to lift weights and work out on a regular basis. He may not like lifting weights. It is boring and painful, but the competition is so great he has no choice.

Nike’s motto sums up what the athlete’s attitude must be: “Just do it!”

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore, I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

 Most of us believers understand why athletes have to develop their muscles to compete in sports, but yet, very few of us realize we need to develop our individual lumps of faith. After all, didn’t Jesus already win the victory for us? Can’t we just sit back and enjoy ourselves until Jesus returns? Why build faith now?

And to be honest, the word faith has a stigma attached to it. Who has not heard of the excesses of the Word of Faith movement? “The prosperity gospel.” “Seed faith.” “Name it and claim it.” All of this has contributed to the muddied waters for teaching faith.

But I consider myself fortunate to having been saved during the 1980′s when the Word of Faith teaching programs were aired on many Christian radio stations. I listened to Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Marilyn Hickey, R. W. Schambach, Joyce Meyer and others every day. I read over a hundred and fifty books by these teachers.

The Word of Faith teachings have built a strong foundation in me. So, beginning next time, we will be looking at the important revelations of the Word of Faith teachings and how we can use them to build up our individual lumps of faith.

 

Chapter 9

Building a Foundation of Faith (g)

Like I wrote earlier, I am not a Word of Faith teacher, but I am a beneficiary of its teachings. Most of the teachings have worked well in my life, but a few have not. Over the next few chapters I will outline which teachings have built me up and which have not worked well for me.

Let’s begin by taking a look at the father of the Word of Faith movement: Kenneth Hagin.

If you have read any of Hagin’s more than one hundred books, you are bound to read his testimony about being a sickly child and how he was bedfast with a deformed heart and an incurable blood disease. How he then had a powerful conversion experience, after dying three times and visiting Hell, all within a period of ten minutes.

Hagin remained in bed after his conversion, suffering from his ailments, for many more months until he received his revelation of the following scripture:

Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. (Mark 11: 24 King James)

Before August 1934, countless Christians had read Mark 11:24, but few had the exact revelation which Kenneth Hagin had on that summer day. Hagin stated he was talking to the Lord about the verse and how he especially agreed with the words: “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray.”

Hagin desired to be healed. Thus he kept praying and asking and believing the Lord heard his prayers.

As he continued talking aloud, he heard the Holy Spirit speak to him: “You do believe all right – as far as you know.”

The Holy Spirit then quoted the rest of the verse: “Believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

At that moment, the lights went on inside of Kenneth Hagin:

“I prayed for healing because that’s what I desired, but I was trying to have my healing first, and then I was going to believe I received it. But when do we believe we receive what we desire from God? When we pray! That means before we see a change in the circumstances we must believe that God has heard and answered us. We are to believe we receive whatever we desire from God the minute we pray and ask Him for our petition.”

I said to the Lord, “Now I know what I’ve got to do. I’ve got to begin to believe I receive healing for my paralyzed body right now, while I’m still lying here helpless. While I’m lying here bedfast, I’ve got to believe I receive healing for my deformed heart and incurable blood disease.” (Word of Faith, Kenneth Hagin, 1990)

Kenneth Hagin eventually jumped out of bed, totally healed. He became a young preacher, a pastor, and an evangelist in the Healing Revival of the 1940′s and 50′s. He then began his teaching career, which led to radio programs, founding the Rhema Bible Training Center, and the Rhema church system.

If you check out Kenneth Hagin on Google, you will find various sites, which accuse Hagin of being a plagiarist, a heretic, a false prophet, a serpent, and a false teacher. What’s with this, huh? How can a godly man have so many accusers?

Most of his critics’ biggest complaints are that he taught and preached like a Pentecostal, which he was. That’s like complaining Charles Stanley taught like a Baptist pastor because he is a Baptist pastor.

There are no perfect teachers, except Jesus. As Mike Bickel says, “God loves to use people who offend us so that He can show us our hearts.”

Kenneth Hagin never once took the time to answer his critics. He never once defended himself. When his critics called for a comment about a critical book or article they were writing about him, he always said, “No comment. God bless you.”

My only disagreement with Kenneth Hagin’s teachings is he looks at salvation and grace from an Arminian/Pentecostal point of view while I agree with the Baptist/Calvin one. You can be the judge on that one for yourself.

I recommend his books.

Since, he has sold over 60 million copies, you can buy them on Amazon (new and used), from numerous other sites (new and used), from Salvation Army stores, from Hagin’s ministry site, and wherever.

 

Chapter 10

Building a Foundation of Faith (h)

Kenneth Hagin authored over 120 books, which were not really written as books. They were actually teachings, which he gave on his radio programs, at conferences, or wherever. Another person then transcribed the teachings into book format. The average book size is thirty pages.

I myself have read over a hundred of Hagin’s books. Each one was a day in the classroom as I sat at a table with my Bible, a scratch pad and Hagin’s book. As I read the book, I studied the scripture references and took notes. When I finished the book, I tried to immediately put into practice what I had learned that particular day.

Looking back, I would have to say the #1 principle I learned from Kenneth Hagin’s teachings was: God answers prayers.

Many believers might look at the simplicity of this revelation and say, “Big deal. So what?”

But when I say God answers prayers, I mean He answers every prayer, every time and never ignores one of them. Period.

Does this mean you can pray for a new Rolls Royce Phantom ($437,000 sticker price), go to the dealer and drive it home? Probably not, but you will get an answer for your prayer about the Rolls Royce.

 

In 1987, I lived in a small one-room apartment in central Iowa, was separated from my wife and family, had no telephone and no car. I worked as a minimum wage laborer in a motel, which was a three-mile walk from the apartment.

I woke up one morning and discovered the temperature had dropped to 30 degrees below zero and because of the high winds, the wind chill factor was a minus 50 degrees. Plus, six inches of snow had fallen and swirled on the winds.

It was a Tuesday, which meant I was scheduled to begin work at 8 a.m. What did I do?

I bundled up as best I could and before stepping out the door, I prayed, “Lord, I’m walking to work. I ask that You either give me the grace to survive this weather or have someone stop and offer me a ride. The choice is Yours, but I know You love me and always hear my prayers.”

Did a car pull up to my apartment as I walked out my door so I would not suffer from the cold? No, absolutely not, nor did I expect one.

You see, one of the foundational precepts of receiving answers to prayers is we walk by faith and not by sight. Thus, you can almost always expect to start out walking through the storms of life – after praying – without seeing any improvement whatsoever in the circumstances.

That particular morning was no different.

After walking a mile and a half, my face was frost covered and my feet felt numb. Numerous cars passed me, hurrying off to work, but no one had even slowed down. A car finally pulled over. A young woman opened the door and said, “Would you like a ride?”

“Yes,” I answered. She dropped me off at my workplace.

The following morning, the weather conditions remained the same. I followed the same routine as the day before. This time, a man picked me up at about the same place as the young woman had the day before and took me to work.

On the third morning of the storm, a person volunteered to pick me up. A week later, the motel decided to have me picked up each morning by an employee. Soon after, the motel decided I could just drive one of their trucks back and forth to work. All of this happened without me ever asking anyone for help.

Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. (Mark 11: 23)

Okay, why do we not receive answers to our prayers?

(Continued)

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God’s Love Must Torpedo the Inner Cities’ Bitterness…Or Else!

Part 1

During the mid-1990s, while I was a member of an inner-city ministry, I had a dream that showed a black river flowing out of the inner cities to every city and town in America.  The dream zoomed in for a closeup of the river, revealing it not to be a river but an army of black preachers. These men of God had scars and tattoos covering their arms. Many were ex-cons. Their message was the same that John the Baptist preached two thousand years ago: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

I somehow knew these men were not seminary trained, but were taught by the Holy Spirit. Their faith had been forged in the brutal fires of inner-city life, but it was their eyes that captured my attention.  Their eyes burned with a love for Jesus, a love not matched by any other generation of preachers before them. I felt these black men were sent to deliver the rest of America from false religious views.

Before you reject my dream as a pizza-induced fantasy, let me share another one from the same time period.

In this particular dream, I saw a race war between black Americans and whites taking place in our nation. As most know, dreams can be weird, but it was not the case for this one. It was a straight forward, four-color documentary of possible future tragic events.

The dream opened up with a large army of inner-city black youths marching into upscale white neighborhoods. The youths carried AK-47s, AR-15s, Glock pistols and knives. They went from house to house, slaughtering white men, women, children and babies. None of the victims defended themselves nor did anyone attempt to stop the youths in their thirst for blood. When they finished, the youths torched the homes and danced in the streets, firing their guns in the air.

The next segment of the dream showed politicians attempting to handle the outbreak of racial hostilities with words, committee meetings and new laws. Although the leaders of both major parties condemned the violence, all worried about losing votes in their upcoming elections. Therefore, a political stalemate arose with nothing concrete being done.

The final portion of the dream showed white Americans hiring trained mercenaries to hunt down the black youths. The mercenaries went into America’s inner cities, killing young black males and filling the streets with their dead bodies. I knew as I looked at the bullet-riddled corpses lying on the asphalt that a whole generation of black leaders had been wiped out.

If both dreams are actually from the Lord, how can they be such polar opposites?

Okay, I wrote the above 439 words as an opening for an article to be published on WND.com. Then I wrote another four hundred words of blah, blah, blah and more blah.

Thank God, they chose not to publish the article because it stunk. Period!

Hopefully, this series will provide a roadmap for our prayers and for our ministry efforts in America’s inner cities. But to do so, we need to heed some wise advice:

Whatever we wish to achieve in the future, it must begin by knowing where we are in the present – not where we wish we were, or where we wish others to think we are, but where we are in fact. (Thomas Sowell)

 

Part 2

70% of African-Americans live in America’s inner cities or inner-ring suburbs. Most of the following facts refer to that 70% of African-Americans. These facts are not written to throw stones at our inner city black brothers and sisters, but to show where they are right now.

  1. The abortion rate for African-American women is five times higher than it is for white women, accounting for 37% of all abortions in America.
  2. 1 in 3 African-American men can expect to spend time in prison during their lifetimes.
  3. 70% of juvenile arrests in America are African-American youths.
  4. One third of all welfare recipients are African-Americans.
  5. Each year, roughly 7,000 blacks are murdered. Ninety-four percent of the time, the murderer is another black person.
  6. 72 percent of black babies are born out of wedlock. 
  7. Poverty rate among African-Americans is 36%.
  8. The homicide rate among males between the ages of 14 and 17 is nearly 10 times higher for blacks than for whites and Hispanics combined.
  9. The preponderance of school violence in America occurs in big-city schools attended by inner city black students.
  10. Black education is in a state of shambles for elementary and high schools in most inner cities of America.

Without a doubt, the above facts are discouraging, but here’s the irony of it all:

  1. Inner city African-Americans are the most devout Christian group in America and the difference is 21 percentage points higher than the next group.

With the exception of the inner cities blacks being devout Christians, these facts are disheartening.

They remind me of the time a little black six-year old black girl named Cici sat on my lap during a church service at the inner city ministry I attended during the 1990s. She looked up at me and asked, “Can I go home with you and live with you?”

I was shocked at her words. “You want to leave your mother and live with me?” I replied.

Cici nodded her head up and down.

I understood her feelings about her home life. Her mom was a drug addict. Her dad was in jail, but numerous men lived with her mom at various times. Her four brothers and sisters ranged in age from two to twelve years old. Not enough money. Not enough love. Not enough personal attention.

I actually prayed about doing what she asked, but my life was a mess, too.

Cici would be thirty-two years old today…if she’s still alive.

“Life does not ask what we want. It presents us with options.” (Thomas Sowell)

 

Part 3

“I’m here because somebody marched,” Obama said in a speech in Selma, Ala. “I’m here because you all sacrificed for me. I stand on the shoulders of giants.” (Barack Obama, Selma, Alabama, March 2007)

During his first run for president, Barack Obama seemed poised to achieve many of the goals that activists like the Greensboro Four had first set. It was a mantle that he explicitly took up, calling himself a member of the “Joshua Generation.” As in: Moses got the Hebrews out of Egypt and nearly to the Promised Land, but he couldn’t cross over the Jordan. That task was left to Joshua.

“The previous generation, the Moses generation, pointed the way. They took us 90 percent of the way there. But we still got that 10 percent in order to cross over to the other side,”Obama said in Selma, Alabama, in March 2007. “So the question, I guess, that I have today is what’s called of us in this Joshua generation?” (David A. Graham, The Atlantic, October 12, 2016)

In one of the ironies of ironies, whites brought the gospel of the kingdom of God to the blacks. Some heard about Jesus from Moravian missionaries that boarded slave ships to the West Indies. There on the islands of St. Thomas and St. Croix they preached the good news to the slaves.

But most black slaves received the gospel with the backing of their Southern white plantation owners who were mainly Baptists. These same owners allowed certain black men to receive a little schooling so they could read the Bible and become pastors to the slaves.

These black pastors who could read studied how God delivered Israel from Egypt. This became the slaves’ hope – “if God delivered Jewish slaves, He will do it for black slaves, too.

Negro spirituals, such as “We Shall Overcome,” “Go Down, Moses,” “Wade in the Water,” and others gave voice to the slaves’ faith in God and encouraged other slaves. The songs were acts of faith and prayers at the same time.

There’s not much good which can be said about the evils of slavery, except that it produced a depth of the spirit in black Americans. This spiritual depth brought forth the Civil Rights marches and men like Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Abernathy and others who were determined to see the blacks set free.

The importance black churches played in the Civil Rights Movement and the years afterward can not be overstated. They focused their communities on the long-held promises of freedom and kept them moving toward their goal.

Yet, I believe Barack Obama spoke prophetically that black Americans “still got that 10 percent in order to cross over to the other side.”

How will this be achieved?

 

Part 4

“American Christianity would collapse if the pastors were removed.” (Frank Viola)

The Greek word poimēn is translated into the English word pastor(s) only one time in the New Testament.

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11)

The other seventeen times the Greek word poimēn is used in the New Testament, it is translated into the English word shepherd(s), as in –

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. (John 10:11)

But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. (John 10:12)

There is no evidence in the New Testament of a pastor – or shepherd – being the scripturally chosen person to preach a sermon every Sunday to a church and also being the CEO in charge of the affairs of that group of believers. Not one mention!

Even Paul in his letters to the churches did not address his messages to pastors. He wrote to all of the believers. Only in one letter did Paul make a special reference to elders, and that was a fleeting one in the first verse of Philippians.

So, how does a modern pastor justify his position as the CEO of a church?

Mainly through tradition.

Where did the tradition of the pastor begin?

Martin Luther dropped the title of priest from himself during the reformation and added the title of pastor instead. From that point forward, pastors became the heads of the Protestant churches.

Now, just so you know, I do not disagree that God has used many pastors over the centuries as His anointed leaders. Yet even so, we are in the last days, and I believe God wants His Son to take His rightful place in His body —

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, ( 1 Timothy 2:5)

I think Frank Viola exaggerated a little bit about American Christianity collapsing if the pastors are removed because many hundreds of thousands of strong believers have already walked away from the traditional church. These believers would not be affected by pastors being removed from the religious scene.

But if Viola would have narrowed his focus and said, “Black Christianity would collapse if its pastors were removed,” then I believe he would have been closer to the truth.

 

Part 5

“With all that is going on around social justice, churches must calibrate what that means for them in the present,” said the Rev. Dr. Yolanda Pierce, a black professor and dean of the Howard University School of Divinity. “Churches have to ask the fundamental question: ‘Are we going to be at the forefront of struggles for justice, or are we always going to be catching up to where the arc of justice will literally take us.’”

“The one thing that would be dishonorable for us is to bring all this attention to the assassination of Dr. King (fifty years later) and not have a resurrection of the efforts and the unfinished business dealing with systemic racism, systemic poverty,” said Dr. Barber, pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, N.C.

The black church was the stabilizing institution which emerged from the horrible pit of slavery after the Civil War. Black pastors then became the preeminent leaders and spokesmen for both the Christian and non-Christian community alike. These pastors focused themselves on meeting the needs of individuals, preaching messages, building self-esteem of an oppressed people and addressing the concerns of their communities in a segregated society.

In the the 1950s and 60s, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. added a new role for black pastors: that of being a prophetic voice demanding the freedom of God’s people. They then became social justice warriors, too.

Today’s identity of the black church is that of a spiritual Israel suffering in this world with the pastor as the Moses leading the people to the Promised Land.

It’s hard not look at the roles that black pastors fill in their communities and then not shake our heads in wonder and amazement at what they have accomplished. They have been the glue that has held Christianity together in America’s inner cities.

But even so, we need to remember that Moses never led Israel into the Promised Land. It was a non-priest named Joshua who completed the task.

So, will a Joshua generation of leaders rise up to lead the inner cities into their divine destinies?

 

Part 6

The following was my post on July 18, 2019. I’ve included ti again to remind us that God’s word is meant for both white and black Americans.

We can learn much about the Kingdom of God and also the Church by looking at God’s first kingdom venture on earth (after the fall): Israel.

God’s desire for Israel was that the nation would have no king and no standing army. God would be the Israelites’ King and their defense. Israel was divided up into twelve parcels, one for each tribe. The leaders for each tribe would be elders, heads of families and families. Israel was set up to be a loosely governed confederation of tribes and families, unlike any other nation at the time.

In approximately 1043 BC, the elders came to Samuel the prophet and said, “Samuel, you are old. Now make for us a king to rule over us like all of the other nations.”

Samuel felt bad, but God told him, “Listen to the people. They have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should no longer reign over them.”

God warned Israel, telling them all that the kings would do to abuse their authority over Israel. Yet, the people of Israel still said, “We want a king so we are like the other nations.”

From 1043 BC with King Saul until the fall of Jerusalem under King Zedekiah in 586 BC, Israel and Judah had a government headed by a king. They were like the other nations with a hierarchal governmental system. It was a total failure.

Why?

God said it would fail and it did.

Okay, now let’s look at the American Church system.

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)

Thousands of American believers are praying for revival, which they hope will bring a move of the Spirit to America’s churches and change our nation. Hey, if it happens, I will join my brothers and sisters in celebration.

But…I don’t believe it will happen.

Most of America’s churches resemble Israel with a hierarchal government reigning over them. The New Testament name – pastor – sounds better than king, but make no doubt about it, the American pastor is generally an overlord in charge of the membership. He’s the CEO! This type of church system has been in place since Martin Luther reformed the church in 1517. Five hundred years!

Now, many will say that God has often revived the Church in times past. And yes, He has, but He also sent some good kings to Israel and Judah until He didn’t send them anymore. Maybe the American church system is in the same season that Israel was when its hierarchal government failed.

So don’t stay with the same-o same-o attitude about traditional churches just because God has not reformed the wineskin in times past. Seek the Lord.

I believe God will totally reform the church, preparing it for the End Times.

So what if the men I saw in my vision of a black river flowing out of the inner cities of American were black apostles sent by the Lord to reform our traditional church system? Would we submit to them and change?

 

Part 7

The Apostle Paul’s greatest adversary was not Satan or the Romans, but instead, it was the Jews, his fellow countrymen. In fact, many believe, including me, that Paul’s thorn in the flesh was not a sickness, but a Jew or a group of Jews that followed and stalked him so that he was continually persecuted wherever he went. (Paul used the words “messenger of Satan” to describe his thorn.)

Five times, Paul received savage beatings from the Jews. He was stoned by Jews at Lystra, drug out of the city and left for dead. More than forty Jews took a vow not to eat until they had killed Paul. Almost every city Paul entered to preach the gospel, the Jews caused riots against him.

If ever a person had a good reason to hate a specific group of people, it was the Apostle Paul, but read what he wrote:

For my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters, I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them. (Romans 9:3)

It’s so easy to skip over this verse and believe that Paul was using an analogy to describe his love for the Jews, but he wasn’t. The two verses before this onedescribes his feelings and heart desire about this.

That’s right! Paul was willing to give up his salvation and go to Hell for the sake of the Jews. Now, that’s agape love!

Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. (1 John 3:15)

There are more Christians percentage-wise in the inner cities of American than in any other location, but ironically, there are more homicides committed in the inner cities than any other place. In fact, if you removed the homicides committed in the inner cities by blacks (94% of which are committed against other blacks) from the statistics, the murder rates in America would drop in half.

Most social justice leaders, politicians and others give various reasons for why there are so many murders in America’s inner cities, but none of their answers seem to help. So, what’s the problem?

I believe the main problem is the deep-rooted hatred blacks have toward white Americans. No doubt, it’s easy to justify this black hatred because of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation and countless other slights by whites, but still, justifying a sin does not stop the consequences from taking place.

 

Part 8

At the beginning of evil King Jehoiakim’s reign over Judah, Jeremiah stood in the court of the Temple and prophesied a stern message to the people of Jerusalem:

“If you will not listen to me, to walk in my law that I have set before you, and to listen to the words of my servants the prophets whom I send to you urgently, though you have not listened, then I will make this house like Shiloh, and I will make this city a curse for all the nations of the earth.”(Jeremiah 26:4-6)

God caused His tabernacle to first be set up in Shiloh during Joshua’s days. It remained there until Eli’s two evil sons decided to bring the Ark of the Covenant from Shiloh into Israel’s army camp in hopes God would help the nation defeat the Philistines. The Philistines then defeated the Israelites and captured the Ark of the Covenant. God’s tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant never returned to Shiloh again.

Shiloh represented a time when God’s glory departed from Israel.

Jeremiah’s words instantly stirred up the prophets and priests of the Temple. They demanded that Jeremiah be killed for his blasphemous words.

Some wiser officials compared Jeremiah’s words to the prophet Micah who prophesied stern words against Jerusalem during King Hezekiah’s reign. Micah’s life was not threatened. Thus, Jeremiah’s life was spared for the same reasons.

Yet at the same time, another prophet named Uriah prophesied almost the exact same words about Jerusalem. He was hunted down by King Jehoiakim’s warriors, captured, brought before the king and killed by a sword. His body was dumped into a common grave, which was not the usual burial place for prophets.

Now think about this for a moment. Both prophets – Jeremiah and Uriah – stood before the Lord, heard His voice and then spoke the word of the Lord to Jerusalem. Yet Jeremiah’s life was protected and spared, but Uriah’s life was not protected. He was killed.

Why did God allow this to happen?

I can’t say for sure, but I do know that God uses martyrs as His witnesses to nations, groups of people and before His throne. The blood of the martyrs cry out to the Lord and says, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood…

Can we expect something like this to happen in America’s inner cities?

 

Part 9

I have used the story about a black preacher walking into a small town with mainly white citizens to hold a healing crusade many times in the past. (See here.) But today, I want to offer a take-off from that one and write about a white prophet going into an inner city to speak the word of the Lord to its black citizens.

Can you imagine an old white guy driving a red Ford pickup into the middle of a crowd of people at a rally? And honking his horn at the same time? I couldn’t imagine something like that ever happening until it did last Saturday afternoon.

Maybe I should start at the beginning and tell the whole story, okay?

My name is Jalen Simmons. I write a syndicated newspaper column entitled, “Unashamed Angry Black Voice.” The column appears in sixty major newspapers throughout our nation. I also appear on TV as a contributor on inner city happenings.

A week ago, a friend suggested I should attend a black activist rally taking place in West Englewood at Ogden Park. This inner-city area of Chicago is the city’s most dangerous neighborhood where poverty and crime are off the charts and lives matter little to police and politicians.

On that day, I positioned myself in the middle of the crowd, estimated at five thousand black people, to better hear and understand the crowd’s reactions to the fiery speakers. The first three speakers raised their voices against the city of Chicago, its police department and white supremacy for the wrongs done to black people. Each moved the crowd closer and closer to its emotional edge.

But just as the militant keynote speaker, Deshaun Lewis, was being introduced on the platform, new sounds could be heard. A honking horn. An engine being revved up. And people screaming, “Look out! He’ll run us over!”

I looked over my left shoulder and saw a red pickup truck heading straight toward me. I jumped out of the way along with the rest of the crowd. The truck stopped right in front of me.

The driver, a seventyish white male, jumped out of the Ford pickup and into the back of the truck almost in one motion. He held a wireless microphone in his right hand which was connected to a speaker system.

“Listen up,” he said, “I have come here today to speak to you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

A united “No” was shouted by the crowd. Black men stepped forth to remove the so-called white prophet and his truck.

“Do not touch my truck or the hand of the Lord will come upon you and strike you blind for a time,” said the white man.

The crowd laughed until twenty-three men touched the pickup truck and began screaming, “I’m blind. Help me! Help me!” Then, the laughter stopped and fear gripped the crowd.

“Men, keep quiet. Sit down and when I’m done I will lay hands on you and your sight will immediately return.”

The twenty-three men sat down.

The old white man had the attention of the whole crowd. Everyone stood in silence, even those on the speakers platform.

“The Lord has sent me to tell you,” proclaimed the white man, “your problems are not caused by the city of Chicago, its police department or white Americans. Your problems are caused by your sins and your bitterness. You need to first ask the Lord for His forgiveness and then most of you will have to ask forgiveness of white Americans for your hatred toward them, too.

“If you choose to humble yourself before God and men, God will pour out a blessing on West Englewood. Murders will stop. Crime will end. Jobs will open up. You will be able to walk on the sidewalks of your neighborhood without fear once again. West Englewood will be known as a place of light and a refuge for all.

“But if you ignore these words and continue in the direction you’re heading, your streets will be covered with the bodies of your dead sons and daughters. And this will happen soon!”

He paused and looked around at the crowd. His blue eyes looked right into my heart.

“God’s words to you are the same ones Moses said to Israel, ‘I have set before you life and good, death and evil.” Now, you must choose which way you will walk from this day forward.”

The white prophet jumped down onto the ground. He laid hands on and prayed for each blind man. They all received their sight again.

Then, he climbed into his pickup and drove off.

Was he a prophet sent by God?

Twenty-four men have no doubts and I pray all of the crowd will agree with us.

 

Part 10

Eleven years ago, I somehow found myself in a long discussion with Dr. Michael Brown, who I admire, on his website. An aide of his had written an article about prophets and prophecy. The discussion centered on these few words: “From this we can learn that a ‘go alone (New Testament) prophet’ is not good, nor biblical..”

I disagreed with the writer’s assertions that God would no longer send an individual prophet to a city or a region to prophesy to the people like He did in the Old Testament. I felt there was no scripture to back up their words. I believe God will do whatever He wants. He’s God!

Dr. Brown’s belief was that in the New Testament there are leadership teams or a leadership hierarchy over a city. This would mainly be a group of pastors. Thus, God would work through this governing hierarchy and the individual prophet would go to these chosen pastors and speak his words to them.

Looking back, I missed an important point.

Dr. Michael Brown and the others were thinking and commenting from a traditional church mindset. They saw – and probably still do – pastors as CEOs and heads of churches. I don’t believe this is scriptural!

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5)

Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are not go-betweens or middlemen between God and men. They are not under-shepards. None are needed to fill that role because Jesus already fills that calling for us. Jesus is our middleman, go-between and mediator between God and us.

Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (five-fold callings) are gifts to the Church. These five callings are supposed to equip the members of the Church for the work of ministry, build up the members and help us attain the unity of the faith and maturity. But these callings are absolutely not given authority by God to rule over believers.

So, when I wrote about a white prophet going into an inner city to bring the word of the Lord to black people, I never considered a governing body of pastors over that city. I was thinking about setting the captives free. It was the same when I wrote the fictional story about a black prophet going to a mainly white, small town.

Is this important for the inner cities? And the rest of America?

(Continued in Part 11)

 

Will We End Up Being A Part of the Great Falling Away?

Most of us read Scripture through a foggy set of lens. For instance, let’s look at Judas.

I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me. (John 13:18)

Jesus chose twelve disciples, whose ages were probably between fourteen and twenty-two years old. Young kids. But oops! One of them was a teenager named Judas Iscariot.

Now think about it: was Judas a robot on auto-pilot to fulfill Scripture from the moment Jesus chose him until he kissed Jesus in the Garden?

No, of course not!

Jesus spent three years teaching and preparing the twelve chosen disciples to preach the Kingdom of God. He explained to them that He had to become the sacrificial Lamb and would need to die for the sake of others. He even told them, “One of you will betray Me.”

All of the disciples, including Judas, replied, “Is it I?”

Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. (John 13:26)

This was the pivotal scene, which I believe was staged mainly for Judas’ sake. The disciple had to know that Jesus would have forgiven him if he had confessed his sin to Him, but Judas hardened his heart and Satan entered him at that moment.

All Jewish boys memorized the Psalms. So, there’s no doubt that Judas knew Psalm 41 by heart, but obviously he never once considered he would be the one to fulfill a prophecy in it –

Even my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted (relied on and was confident), who ate of my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. (Psalm 41:9 AMP)

Bad choices by Judas caused his name to be linked to betrayal forever because he fulfilled this Old Testament prophecy.

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:3)

Almost every Christian has memorized this verse, written by Paul to the Thessalonians who were confused about the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. We now look at the verse as a New Testament prophecy.

But like Judas, memorizing and knowing this verse doesn’t mean we’ll avoid being a part of the thousands and thousands who will fulfill Paul’s prophecy about the End-Times.

 

Part 2

In His second year of ministry, Jesus taught His most important parable – the Parable of the Sower – to the multitudes. Afterward, when they were alone, His twelve disciples asked Him the meaning of the parable.

Jesus explained to them the various soils in the parable, especially the third one:

Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. (Mark 4:18-19)

Now, by this time, Judas Iscariot was the treasurer of the group and was siphoning off funds for his own use. He was a thief!

Since all of the twelve disciples inquired about the parable, what was going through Judas’ mind when he heard Jesus explain about the deceitfulness of riches?

Or maybe Judas’ heart was so filled with trampled down, footpath soil that Satan was able to easily remove all of Jesus’ words about this parable? 

As we all know, Judas eventually went to the chief priests and negotiated a sum of thirty pieces of silver to betray Jesus.

Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:3)

Let’s be honest, okay?

None of us think we would ever be guilty of falling away from the faith. Why – we attend church, have Bible apps on our phones, listen to all of the latest worship songs – so this can’t possibly refer to any of us, right?

But remember this: Judas traveled with Jesus for three years, fellowshipped with Him, saw His miracles and heard His words, yet Judas was never delivered from the deceitfulness of riches.

Paul’s prophecy about the great falling away will be fulfilled by some of us. It’s going to happen! Even though I have walked with the Lord for 34 years, I don’t lightly skip over the prophecy. I have a reverent fear of the Lord about it.

So, what can we do to prepare ourselves ahead of time?

 

Part 3

I have used this story before, but this time, I use it from a different angle.

In the early 1990’s, Larry Burkett told a story on his radio program, “Money Matters,” that still sends shivers down my spine. Burkett told about the time he attended a local church and heard a Chinese man tell his testimony.

It seems the man was a lieutenant of Mao Zedong when Mao’s communist army defeated Chiang Kai-Shek and took control of China. Mao then set out to cleanse China of all imperialist influences, especially American connections. Missionaries were sent home or killed. Chinese pastors were imprisoned or killed. Christians were killed. Political leaders, people who had visited America or attended schools there were killed.  Historians estimate 40,000,000 Chinese were executed by Mao during his various purges.

The man, who told this testimony, was chosen by Mao as one of the leaders in the rural purges. He dispatched his tasks with cruel efficiency. But some Christians focused their prayers on him and he was miraculously saved. So convinced was the man that Christ was the answer for China he decided to return to Peking (Beijing) and tell Mao the good news of Jesus.

Mao was not impressed with his lieutenant’s message and commanded him to renounce his new found faith. The man refused and said, “I cannot deny the experience I’ve had with Jesus.”

Mao brought his wife and children before the man. Soldiers stood behind his family with guns aimed at their heads. Once again, Mao asked the man to renounce his faith. The man fell to his knees and said, “Please do not kill my family, but I cannot deny Jesus.”

His family was executed before his eyes.

Next, his parents, brothers, sisters and their families were brought before the man with soldiers standing behind them with guns at their heads. Mao insisted the man renounce Jesus. The man refused. His entire family was executed before his eyes.

All of his friends and their families were placed in front of him, but still he would not renounce Christ. They were executed.

Then, Mao decided death was too good for this reprobate of a man. He was stripped naked and placed in a cold cell. Once a day, guards were ordered to beat him.

His imprisonment and beatings continued for fifteen years. During that time, the man led 90% of the guards to Christ and the guards even risked their own freedoms by bringing Bibles to him.

When he finally emerged from prison, he walked down a road, heading toward his hometown. As he walked, people in the fields next to the road, fell to their knees and cried out to be saved by Jesus. Yet, the man said nothing because the presence of God was so heavy upon him that he just continued to walk.

Larry Burkett said that when the Chinese man finished his testimony he was asked, “What do you think of our American churches?”

The man gazed at the audience with tears in his eyes. “You American Christians do not know the Jesus I know,” he said.

But whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:33)

If we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us (2 Timothy 2:12)

This man’s testimony shines a light on a worst-case scenario for us believers. We obviously all hope to never face such terrible circumstances, but what if we do? Could we still hold onto Jesus and not deny Him?

I don’t believe any of us can pass a test like this without having the following revelations:

  1. Our Father is a good God. We can trust Him with our lives and the lives of our family and friends.
  2. Our Father is omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (all-present everywhere at once) and omniscient (all-knowing). In His omniscience, He saw the circumstances before they happened and He still allowed us to go through them. He expects us to be faithful until the end, trusting Him till our last breath.
  3. God honors His word. God exalts His word about His authority and abides by His own rules.

If any of us do not have these revelations of our heavenly Father, we need to seek and ask Him for them. He desires to reveal Himself to us.

Remember: The number one reason for being a part of the Great Falling Away – now or in the future – will be denying Jesus and His character attributes.

 

Part 4

I am seventy-three years old.

You can call it pride or whatever, but I have always wanted to see the Lord return in my lifetime. That is until recently when I felt the Lord speak to my heart, “I am not returning in your lifetime. Help prepare your children and grandchildren for the End-Times.”

Whatever disappointment I might have felt at the time was erased by the urgency of His words.

Many preachers talk about the “great falling away” as if it will be just a slight bump in the road for the American church. After all, America has the greatest concentration of Christians within its borders of any nation in the world. 80 to 90 million Evangelical or born again Christians by many estimates.

Let no one in any way deceive or entrap you, for that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first [that is, the great rebellion, the abandonment of the faith by professed Christians], and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction [the Antichrist, the one who is destined to be destroyed] (2 Thessalonians 2:3 AMP)

Do you actually believe the Apostle Paul was talking about a slight bump in the road when he wrote about the “great falling away?”

I don’t.

It’s my belief that if we don’t take drastic steps that 50 to 75% or more of America’s Christians will abandon their faith during the soon coming End-Times period. That’s forty to seventy million believers!

Why such a large number?

Corrie Ten Boom’s 1974 letter about the Rapture explains most of my reasoning:

There are some among us teaching there will be no tribulation, that the Christians will be able to escape all this. These are the false teachers that Jesus was warning us to expect in the latter days.

In China, the Christians were told, “Don’t worry, before the tribulation comes you will be translated – raptured.” Then came a terrible persecution.  Millions of Christians were tortured to death. Later I heard a Bishop from China say, sadly, “We have failed. We should have made the people strong for persecution, rather than telling them Jesus would come first. Tell the people how to be strong in times of persecution, how to stand when tribulation comes — to stand and not faint.”

Somehow, most American believers have swallowed the same poisonous Pre-Trib Rapture doctrine and believe we won’t suffer even though Jesus said –

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. See, I have told you beforehand. (Matthew 24:21-22, 25)

We believers are the elect and He is warning us to prepare ourselves ahead of time.

The second reason for being a part of the Great Falling Away – now or in the future – will be holding onto bad teaching not supported by scripture.

 

Part 5

Recently, I talked with a youth pastor of a large denomination. “What are you reading right now?” I asked.

She mentioned the name of a book.

“Oh, is that a book on inner healing?” I replied.

“Yes,” she said, ” and it’s very good.”

“I struggle with inner healing. Every book on inner healing that I’ve ever seen is a takeoff on John and Mark Sandford’s book, one that I don’t recommend to anyone.”

“Well, a pastor in our denomination recently committed suicide. So our pastor wants to be proactive and help our staff handle the everyday stress of working with our church’s members. Plus, a counselor meets with each of us every week to help us.”

“Oh dear, I struggle with counselors, too.”

Thank God, the conversation died without me putting both of my feet in my mouth.

I understand there are numerous mental problems, such as bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder and others, where we believers can’t heal the person by simply speaking in faith and saying, “Go, in Jesus’ name.” We just aren’t there yet! Maybe soon though!

But this was not a case of handling severe mental disorders, this was a pastor trying to protect his staff from stress and emotional strain. And what does he do? He reaches for what the world considers its best answer for these problems: psychology.

Although considered a science, psychology is anything but that. There are hundreds of different methods for every problem. Most of them backed by the works of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Both were ungodly men!

So, why not fast and pray and trust the Lord? Isn’t He more than able to protect a church’s staff?

I assume this same pastor preaches a sermon each Sunday telling the congregation to trust in Jesus, right? But shouldn’t the pastor be honest enough to declare his staff’s lack of faith in Jesus?

How would that play out? Probably not well.

Can you imagine telling Christians in North Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan and other nations where Christians are tortured and killed for their beliefs that they also need psychologists to help them handle their stress and anxiety? They’d laugh at our weak faith!

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [money, possessions, fame, status, or whatever is valued more than the Lord]. (Matthew 6:24 AMP)

The third reason for becoming a part of the Great Falling Away – now or in the future – will be trusting in the world system more than in Christ and His ways.

 

Part 6

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs was written by John Foxe in 1563. It details the deaths and sufferings of the early apostles and other Christians up through the inquisition and the medieval church.

It’s been nearly thirty years since I read the book as a young Christian but I still remember how it jarred my heart. In fact,  I muttered aloud a short prayer. “Lord, if You want me to be a martyr for You, that’s okay with me. I can probably handle crucifixion, firing squad, hanging or being beheaded, but please don’t let me be burned at the stake. I’m not sure I will be a good witness for You if I die that way.”

At the time, I worked at a motel-restaurant and drove a catering van, delivering meals to senior citizens.

One day, I was running behind schedule and in a hurry. Using only pot holders, I removed a large pan of roast beef from an oven. My hand slipped and the pan’s liquid drenched over my hand. 170° of scalding juice.

I quickly set the pan down and looked at my hand. It was red, there was pain on the surface of my skin, but no inner pain. It did not bother me in the least.

Two cooks rushed over and wanted to rush me off to the hospital. I shook my head and put it under a cold water faucet. No problems.

That experience and the following testimony by Corrie Ten Boom has kept my heart open to the possibility of being a witness until death (martyr) for Jesus:

When I was a little girl, I went to my father and said, “Daddy, I am afraid that I will never be strong enough to be a martyr for Jesus Christ.”

“Tell me,” said Father. “When you take a train trip to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?”

“No, Daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train.”

“That is right,” my father said, “and so it is with God’s strength. Our Father in Heaven knows when you will need the strength to be a martyr for Jesus Christ. He will supply all you need – just in time…” (Tramp for the Lord)

So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6)

The fourth reason for becoming a part of the Great Falling Away – now or in the future – will be fear that God’s grace cannot help us in our suffering.

(Continued in Part 7)

Hey Senior Citizens! The American Church Needs New Leaders, Why Not You?

Thirty years ago, I attended a small church which would from time to time host traveling ministries for two or three nights of meetings. One time, a prophet held some meetings there. The prophet preached a message and afterward he pointed at certain people in the audience, had them stand up and then he spoke prophetic words to them.

One evening, he asked me to stand up and then spoke a long prophetic message about my calling and future ministry. I was absolutely floored by his words.

Afterward, a seventy-five year old woman walked up to me. “Many years ago, I used to get prophetic words just like yours for my life,” she said.

“Really?” I replied. “What did you do with them?”

“Oh, I wrote them down in a notebook,” she said.

“What else did you do with them?” I asked.

“I’m just waiting on the Lord…just waiting on the Lord,” she replied.

Two or three years later, she died.

I don’t know what happened to her notebook after her death, but I don’t think she ever walked one day in her divine calling. How sad, right?

For many are called, but few are chosen. (Matthew 22:14)

There are many reasons why believers don’t ever fulfill the divine callings the Lord places on their lives. Sometimes, it’s bad teaching. Sometimes, it’s religious bondage. Or fear. Or doubt. Or maybe, the price was too high and the believer didn’t want to pay it. Or countless other reasons.

But whatever the reasons, if the Lord places a calling on a believer’s life, He has a plan on how the believer can fulfill his/her calling. We need to trust Him.

Are callings important to the Lord?

I had a dream many years ago in which I walked into heaven. It was glorious there, full of peace and life. But soon, I was met by a bronze-skinned little boy who looked up at me and said, “I died as a youngster and never made it into my calling because you did not fulfill your calling.”

All of sudden, there was a long, long line of bronze-skinned boys waiting to talk with me. Each one said, “I died as a youngster and never made it into my calling because you did not fulfill you’re calling.”

Finally, I cried out to the Lord. “Jesus, help me! I can’t handle this,” I said.

The dream ended.

That dream put the fear of the Lord in me about doing the best I can to fulfill the calling the Lord has placed on my life. You see, if you and I don’t make it into our callings, we may end up hurting the Lord’s plans for other people. I don’t want any blood on my hands when I stand before Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ. What about you?

So, why have I singled out senior citizens?

First of all, I am seventy-three years old. The largest part of my calling has not been fulfilled as yet. So, I’m still beating on the throne-room’s doors every morning, seeking Him. I refuse to quit and allow my calling to pass me by!

Secondly, I just attended a large church and discerned numerous callings for many of the senior Christians sitting in the pews there. And these seniors are not walking in their callings. This bugged me enough to write these articles.

For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers… (Acts 13:36)

 

Part 2

I signaled for a right turn onto CA-76, heading southwest toward Oceanside and the Pacific Ocean. Although the state worked on the highway every so often, drivers needed to stay alert to avoid potholes. A few were big enough to send vehicles to repair garages for thousand-dollar front-end suspension and alignment overhauls.

“Look at how beautiful the −”

“Shush,” said Jane, holding up her left hand in a stop sign manner. Her Pandora bracelet mirrored the sunlight. “Now it’s my turn.”

I nodded, knowing she wanted details.

“What do you plan on doing?”

“I don’t know.”

“The pastor will call and so will some of your friends, especially Phil and Vinnie.”

“I know, but I don’t have any answers. I walked out during the sermon because I looked at that young pastor and saw the beginning of another preacher’s ministry at Jedidiah Smith Community Church. Yet, I wondered to myself, what about me. What about my ministry? When will I speak the words in my heart?”

“That’s the reason you walked out?”

“Partly.”

“What else caused you to do such a silly thing?”

I sat for a few beats with my eyes glued to the road. A red Corvette convertible with its top down blew past us on our left. Within seconds, the sports car disappeared around the next curve. Our Honda’s speedometer stayed at sixty-five miles per hour, my normal speed on the highway.

Then I blew out a deep breath.

“The other day, I read a statement which summed up the philosophy of the U. S. Navy SEALS. It said, ‘I will never quit. If knocked down, I will get back up every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates. I am never out of the fight.’ Those words brought tears to my eyes.”

“Why should those words affect you so much?”

“What price have I paid over the years for the Kingdom of God? Not much. As far as I know, I’ve sat on the sidelines in a comfortable pew, far from any raging battles. Who knows if I would be willing to use every remaining ounce of strength to help my brothers and sisters in a spiritual battle? Only Jesus knows that answer, which I fear He may end up telling me at the Judgment Seat of Christ.”

Jane’s green eyes filled with tears. Drops streamed down her face while her lower lip trembled.

“How can you say that? You have faithfully attended church for over thirty years. You’ve always paid tithes to the church. You’ve prayed and studied the Word. You’ve been a godly husband, father and grandfather. Everyone loves you and thinks you’re a great believer −”

“Honey, that’s the least I should have done. The very least.”

“Is this about turning seventy last month and both of us arriving at the silver-haired years of our lives?” she said, reaching into her purse for a Kleenex.

I nodded.

“As soon as the young pastor opened his mouth for his sermon, a quick memory flooded my mind. It was when we gave our lives to the Lord forty years ago at that little Baptist Church in Murrieta. At the time, I had a deep impression that the Lord wanted me to do something for Him. Preach, teach, I didn’t know for sure what it was, but we had two young children, a new home and I had just started Foxfire Realty. So, I ignored it.”

“I vaguely remember you telling me about that,” she whispered, wiping her eyes with a tissue.

“I’ve had that same impression at various times over the last forty years, but I’ve always ignored it until today. ”

“Are you kidding? You plan on being a seventy year-old preacher, looking for a church to pastor?”

“I have no idea what the Lord wants me to do, but I felt that today was my last chance to obey Him. So, I stood up and turned my back on those things that seemed so important to me for the last forty years. From now on, I plan on getting up in the morning and proclaiming, ‘Here I am, Lord, reporting for duty. I’m still in the fight.’”

(Excerpt from an upcoming novel, Still in the Fight by Larry Nevenhoven, © 2019)

Somebody recently asked, “Why do you write novels?”

“To make a prophetic point,” I replied.

Does that mean I believe every senior citizen should walk out of their present  churches?

Read the rest of this series.

 

Part 3

When I turned fifty years of age, I wrote down as many of the dreams and prophecies for my life as I could remember. Then, I wrote down how many of them had been fulfilled to that date. This part only took seconds because none of them had been fulfilled.

At seventy-three years of age, I could do the same thing today. The only difference is that I would be able to check off one from my list: marriage to a godly woman. That’s it! All of the rest have not been fulfilled as yet.

I now work as a delivery driver for Panera Bread in Tempe, Arizona, which is about as far from my dreams and prophetic words for my life as possible. So, why would I invest my time in a job like this?

On April 6, I met a prophetic friend for breakfast in Chandler, Arizona. We enjoyed fellowshipping with each other for a couple of hours. During this time, he said to me, “I see you delivering products mainly to businesses. Seek the Lord about this.”

I sought the Lord and ended up delivering Panera menu items mainly to workers at businesses and schools.

Am I any closer to fulfilling the callings on my life?

Of course, I am.

You see, I can’t fulfill any of the promises for my life apart from the Lord’s help. It’s futile to even attempt to do so. Thus, if the Lord wants me to deliver Panera products, I’m all-in!

Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. (James 5:11)

If you’re a senior citizen and you’re seeking the Lord on unfulfilled prophetic promises for your life, don’t give up. He who called you is faithful. You can trust Him to do what He said He would do in your life. Be all-in!

 

Part 4

A few days ago, another believer asked, “Larry, why are you so passionate? Why not just slow down and enjoy the last days of your life?”

“Because I will soon appear before Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ and I fear that day,” I replied.

“What? Nobody thinks like that!”

“Well, I do and they should feel the same way,” I said.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others… (2 Corinthians 5:10-11)

Not long ago, I started a longterm vacation from Facebook and other social media outlets. Plus, I cut back following sports, watching TV, reading mystery novels and most other hobbies.

Why?

For some reason or another, I recently checked the Social Security Actuarial Life Tables and looked up what the life expectancy was for a man who is 73 years old. It turns out that on the average, I can expect to live 12.43 more years. Now, what this really means is that fifty percent of the men my age will be dead in 12.43 years.

Yes, I could live a lot longer, but the opposite is also true, I could live a lot less.

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming novel:

A terrifying vision awakened me out of my spiritual slumber.

In it, I stood before the Judgment Seat of Christ. I wasn’t alone because hundreds of other believers stood there in numerous rows, waiting for the Judge − Jesus − to appear in front of us. I watched Him off to my left walking down my row with a torch in His right hand. He stopped in front of each believer, looked down and lit piles of what looked like grass and sticks at the feet of each person with His torch. The piles burst into flames. The piles quickly burnt out to reveal gold, silver, precious stones or nothing but scorch marks on the ground. Those who had precious metals and stones bowed down and worshipped the Lord. Those who had scorch marks wailed and screamed like they were in hell, even though they were in heaven.

I looked down at my feet and saw a puny pile. I knew this small heap represented all of my works done on earth for the Lord. Not much for a whole lifetime, I thought. A holy fear enveloped me.

I turned and looked at the person next to me and realized he was a successful Christian businessman, whom I greatly admired. He was an elder at Jedidiah Smith Community Church, Sunday school teacher, weekend street evangelist and well-known benefactor. The newspapers were always reporting on his philanthropy and many works.

I watched Judge Jesus bend over and light the businessman’s pile with His torch. The pile quickly burnt out to reveal nothing but scorch marks on the ground. The businessman fell to the ground and wailed at the top of his lungs. His screams echoed through my mind.

Oh no, I thought. If this businessman’s life did not please the Lord, how will mine be any better?

The Lord stood in front of me.

I looked into His eyes and knew His love was not on trial, but mine was at that moment. He bent over, ready to touch my puny pile with His torch.

“Lord, give me a second chance,” I pleaded.

He looked at me without straightening up. His torch remained close to my pile. “And what would you do differently?”

“I will serve you night and day without complaining. If need be, I will crawl on my knees across San Francisco on streets covered with broken glass to be Your ambassador. I will gladly carry cups of cold water to people, minister to them as Your servant and if you need a martyr for Your kingdom purposes, I volunteer myself for that assignment.”

He straightened up and looked me squarely in the eyes. His love melted every hindrance in my heart. “Remember to do your works to please Me, not to please other people like this businessman did during his life. He received his reward on earth. Go and be My servant.” (From upcoming novel, “Still in the Fight”)

(Continued in Part 5)

Friday’s End-Time Bible Studies

Introduction

On his second missionary journey, the Apostle Paul received a vision from the Holy Spirit to go to Macedonia (Greece, Bulgaria, part of Yugoslavia), rather than to Asia. He and Silas boarded a ship and crossed the Aegean Sea to Philippi, a major city and Roman colony.

Paul started a church in Philippi and stayed there until he cast a spirit of divination out of a slave girl. This upset the girl’s masters who profited from her fortune-telling. A riot broke out, ending up with Paul and Silas being thrown into a Roman prison and beaten.

After their release, Paul and Silas traveled to Thessalonica. There he preached in the Jewish synagogue for three consecutive Sabbaths. Some Jews were converted, along with many God-fearing Greeks and prominent women. A church was planted in the city.

Another riot forced Paul and Silas to leave Thessalonica and travel to Berea.

The above is the background for the founding of the Thessalonian Church and Paul’s two letters to them.

But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2)

Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition…Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? (2 Thessalonians 2:3,5)

The Apostle Paul taught the the Thessalonians for just a few months. Now, during this same time period, Paul also labored night and day to provide for his own needs so he wouldn’t be a burden for the new church in Thessalonica.

Thus, it wasn’t like he taught every day or every night. Maybe just on the Sabbath and another evening or two during the week.

Yet, Paul’s message included meaty teachings on the end-times and the Day of Christ’s return because in his followup letters to the Thessalonians he wrote that “he didn’t have to write about times and seasons, Day of the Lord, falling away or the man of sin (Antichrist). Why? Because he had already taught them on this subject.

Okay?

If the Apostle Paul thought the end-times were important enough to take up his valuable time teaching new converts, shouldn’t we also place an emphasis on them?

Do you realize Jesus also placed an importance on end-times teaching?

So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand(Matthew 24:15 ESV)

See you next time when we will begin digging into the end-times.

 

Part 1

The Apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation sometime around 90 AD. He would have been in his mid-70s at the time, being the youngest of the twelve original apostles who walked with Jesus. All of the others were martyred by then.

The Temple had already been destroyed (70 AD), Jerusalem was almost totally destroyed by the Romans (70 AD) and there was no nation of Israel when John received his vision from Jesus. We can only wonder what was going through his mind at the time.

You see, for the prophetic words in the Book of Revelation to be fulfilled there has to be three entities set in place:

  1. The Temple
  2. The city of Jerusalem
  3. The nation of Israel

If any of these three entities are missing, then the prophetic words can’t be fulfilled.

For nineteen hundred years, nothing happened. Many Bible scholars even debated whether the Book of Revelation was an allegory, rather than a prophetic book based on truth. The odds looked so impossible for any of the three entities to ever be restored.

Then, two thirds of the world’s Jewish population were killed in the Holocaust. Two thirds! Skeptics wondered if the Jews could ever bounce back from such devastation.

Yet, out of the ashes, the nation of Israel was born in 1948. Only West Jerusalem was returned to Israel at the time. Another nineteen years passed before Israel annexed the rest of Jerusalem in the Six Days War of 1967.

So, since 1967, only the Temple is needed to begin the time-clock for the fulfillment of the Book of Revelation, but of course, there are a few obstacles to overcome before this happens.

The Temple Mount is revered by both Islam and Judaism. The Muslims built the Dome of the Rock there and consider it the third most holy site for their religion. And the Jews believe the Temple has to be built on the Temple Mount.

How can this be resolved? Can you have both the Temple and a Mosque on the Temple Mount at the same time? Is this possible? I have no clue, but I also have no doubts that God has plans to make the Temple happen.

When will this take place? Soon…

 

Part 2

When we study the End-Times, we have to stay focused on the main story line, which is Israel, Jerusalem, the Jews and their Jewish King. Yes, you and I have been written into the story with our salvations because we have been  grafted into the natural olive tree – Israel. But we ourselves are not the main story line, okay?

With that in mind, let’s look at the Jewish calendar and some important dates and feasts:

Nisan 1 or Rosh Chodashim (during our March or April): This is New Year’s Day for Israel because it is the day when Israel was delivered out of Egypt. Talmud tradition states that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob each died on Nisan 1.

But more importantly, I believe (along with Jonathan Cahn and others) that this is the date when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. There are lots of reasons behind my thinking, but most of it links to the Jewish calendar and God’s order of events. Interestingly enough, our modern calendars begin with the year of Christ’s birth. Thus, why shouldn’t the Jewish calendar begin with the month of Christ’s birth?

Feast of Passover or Pesach (Nisan 14-15, during our March or April): Passover is the feast of salvation which celebrates the blood of a lamb delivering Jews out of Egyptian slavery. Jesus fulfilled this feast by becoming our Lamb of God, dying on the cross and applying His blood to our sins and lives.

Feast of Unleavened Bread or Chag HaMotzi (Nisan 15-22, during our March or April): This feast celebrates the removal of sin (yeast) from people’s lives. Jesus fulfilled this at the cross by being broken for us and becoming our Bread of Life.

Feast of First Fruits or Reshit Katzir (Nisan 17, during our March or April): This feast celebrates the fertility of the land. Jesus fulfilled this feast when He rose from the grave and became our First Fruit.

Feast of Pentecost or Shavu’ot (Sivan 6, during our May or June): This feast celebrates the summer harvest. This was fulfilled when the Holy Spirit fell on believers fifty days after Jesus rose from the grave.

I wrote the above to show that all of the Jewish spring feasts have been fulfilled and fulfilled in order. That leaves us the fall feasts to be fulfilled sometime in the future.

For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2)

Over and over, we’ve heard that nobody knows the day or hour when Jesus will return, right? They even say, “He will return like a thief in the night.”

But because our Bibles are written in English, and not in Hebrew or Greek, we miss the idioms the Bible author meant when he wrote his letters. These idioms were common knowledge back in the apostles’ days, but have been lost to most of us today.

The phrase “thief in the night” refers to the fall Feast of Trumpets or Rosh Hashana. The Torah commanded that no one was to work on this day. But because the Sanhedrin had to first see the new moon before they blew a trumpet (or shofar), the day was made into a long day of 48 hours. Thus, the moon showed up like a “thief in the night” during that time period.

Also, the “thief in the night” refers to when the bridegroom returned for his bride, according to his father’s instructions. No one knew the day or hour when the bridegroom would show up.

But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. (1 Thessalonians 5:4

We seldom hear that Paul clarified his earlier words about the “thief in the night,” but he did. He knew his readers would understand that the idiom referred to Feast of Trumpets.

And guess what?

The next feast on the Jewish Calendar, which needs to be fulfilled, is Feast of Trumpets.

We will develop this more in future articles.

 

Part 3

Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory states that Christians will not go through the seven years of tribulation as described in the Book of Revelation and mentioned in Daniel 9:25. It also believes the Church can be raptured at any time. Maybe even before you’re done reading this article.

The pre-trib view is held by almost 90% of American pastors, most American ministry heads and most American Christians who attend traditional churches. I specify Americans mainly hold this view because Chinese, North Korean, Vietnamese, Middle Eastern, Sudanese and countless other Christians in various countries reject this view as an outright lie. These believers live in persecution now and have no worries about End-Times’ persecution. They trust their God, even in the midst of fiery furnaces of persecution.

Okay, my number one argument against the pre-tribulation rapture theory are the words of Jesus in Matthew 24, which is one of the keystone chapters in End-Times Bible studies.

Chapter 24 begins with Jesus prophesying about the total destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. (This prophecy was fulfilled in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed the temple and killed a million Jews.)

Now, the twelve apostles had to be shocked by Jesus’ prophetic words. They came later and asked Him questions about the timing and signs about these things and the end of the age.

Jesus spent the rest of Chapter 24 talking about the End-Times, specifically the seven years of Tribulation and His second coming at the end of the seven years of tribulation.

Stop and think for a moment: who is Jesus talking to in Chapter 24? He is talking to His disciples who are believers, like us.

So, when Jesus used the word “you” in verses 3, 6, 9, 15, 23, 25, 26, 33, 34, 42, 44 and 47, He is telling this to His disciples and to believers like us today. (Check out these verses and note how they refer to persecution and tribulation.)

Plus Jesus also used the words “His elect” in verse 31, which talks about Him rapturing His church from the four ends of the earth. But when does this take place?

Immediately after the tribulation of those days…(Matthew 24:29)

It’s hard to argue with Jesus, or that’s my viewpoint.

Now, to be honest, I believe most pastors and believers hold the Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory because it’s the easiest out for them. They can just mark an X in the box next to the theory and forget about praying, fasting and searching Scripture like the Bereans did, especially the 150 chapters that refer to the End-Times throughout the Bible.

Is this really important?

For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.25 See, I have told you beforehand. (Matthew 24:24-25)

Jesus believed it was important enough to warn us ahead of time. Shouldn’t we follow His advice?

 

Part 4

If you’re going to write about the End-Times, you eventually must mention the Antichrist. So, why wait? Let’s talk about him today.

Is Barack Obama the Antichrist? Is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also known as AOC, the Antichrist? Is George Soros the Antichrist? Is Donald Trump? Is the Pope? Who?

Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. (1 John 2:18)

The term Antichrist is only used four times in the Bible. All of them appear in John’s first and second letters to the churches in Asia Minor.

Yet, the Antichrist appears all through the Bible, but with different names. He’s known as the Assyrian, man of sin, son of perdition, the lawless one, the beast, the adversary, the little horn and the king who shall do according to his own will.

The Antichrist must for sure come out of the territory in the old Roman Empire and most likely out of territory in the old Assyrian Empire (northern Iran, northern Iraq, northern Syria and southeastern Turkey).

The Antichrist will be pompous, boastful, an aggressive warmonger, a sinister schemer, a cunning trickster, a liar, a deceitful murderer, prosperous, a blasphemer against God,  shall not regard the god of his fathers, have fierce features, have no desire for women, but have a regard for the god of fortresses. (These descriptions are from Daniel 7, 9, 11.)

As you can guess, Obama, AOC, Soros, Trump and the Pope can not be the Antichrist because they do not fit the biblical guidelines.

Thus, how can we be sure who is the Antichrist?

Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day [of the Lord] will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.(2 Thessalonians 2:3)

The Apostle Paul stated that we would know who the Antichrist is for sure when the Antichrist sits in the Temple of God in Jerusalem, exalting himself as God and showing himself to be God.

There are a couple of other ways, but we will talk about them in the future.

 

Part 5

Sometimes our prophecies and our teachings are wrong. Hey, this happens! But usually it’s not  because of any sinister reasons on our parts, it’s just because we didn’t have enough light at the time. When it happens, we need to humble ourselves and say, “Forgive me. I blew it.”

Now, let’s look at the parable of the fig tree prophecy.

Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. (Matthew 24:32-35)

The prophecy concerning the above verses in Matthew 24 as proposed by Chuck Smith, Hal Lindsey, Jack Van Impe, Tim LaHaye and many others in their popular books stated that the fig tree represented Israel. And that when Israel became a nation in 1948, the countdown began for that generation. So that some of those living in that generation would see the rapture of the Church by Jesus within forty years after 1948. (All presumed a generation was forty years.)

Thus, when 1988 arrived and left, what did most of these men do? Almost everyone said that their mistake was not in the fig tree representing Israel, or the year 1948, but rather, they misinterpreted the length of a generation. It should have been seventy to eighty years and not forty years.

Okay, 2018 has passed. The next date in which this prophecy can be confirmed as a true prophecy will be 2028.

Hello! Don’t hold your breath. This prophecy is wrong!

I don’t have any idea what revelations and insights Smith, Lindsey, Van Impe, LaHaye and the others had in mind when they pronounced their “parable of the fig tree prophecies.” These are good men, but somehow they missed it.

Maybe each overlooked Luke 21:29-33, where Luke states: “Look at the fig trees, and all trees.

Or maybe their inner alarms were ringing so loud about us living in the last days that they ignored other Bible passages. This happens, you know!

Yet, it doesn’t matter because when the rapture didn’t occur in 1988, each should have stepped forward and said, “Forgive me. I blew it!” But none did!

Of course, that’s easy for me, an obscure nobody on the backside of the desert, to say. I don’t have millions of copies of books sold and millions of believers looking up at me, thinking, “I’m a somebody.” I don’t have that type of pressure laying on my shoulders.

Hal Lindsey was once asked, “But what if you’re wrong” by a professor. His answer was perfect:

Well, there’s just a split second’s difference between a hero and a bum. I didn’t ask to be a hero, but I guess I have become one in the Christian community. So I accept it. But if I’m wrong about this, I guess I’ll be a bum. (See here)

The parable of the fig tree prophecy is wrong. So, let’s move on, okay?

 

Part 6

How do we know the tribulation will last seven years?

27 And he [Antichrist] shall enter into a strong and firm covenant with the many for one week [seven years]. And in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and offering to cease [for the remaining three and one-half years]; and upon the wing or pinnacle of abominations [shall come] one who makes desolate, until the full determined end is poured out on the desolator. (Daniel 9:27 AMP)

This is one of the few verses that most End-Times theologians and scholars agree upon. Their thinking is that the word “week” refers to a week of years, or seven years. It was an old Hebrew phrase used in that time period, obviously not a modern English one.

What’s also important is the phrase “in the midst of the week.” There are numerous verses to back this up in the Old and New Testaments —

But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.(Revelation 11:2)

And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he [Antichrist] was given authority to continue for forty-two months(Revelation 13:5)

Forty-two months is three and a half years. Matthew refers to this time period as the Great Tribulation because it will be much rougher than the first half of the tribulation.

Revelation 11:3 and 12:6 use the number “one thousand two hundred and sixty days” to describe this three and a half year period. If we divide 1260 by 30 days in a Jewish month, we will end up with forty-two months or three and a half years.

Daniel 12:7 and Revelation 12:14 use the phrase “time, times and half a time.” Once again, this is an old Hebrew phrase with a “time” equaling one year, “times” equaling two years and “half a time” equaling six months. Altogether, they add up to forty-two months or three and a half years.

So, there we have the reasoning for a seven year tribulation time period.

 

Part 7

And there will be famines, pestilences,and earthquakes in various places. (Matthew 24:7)

A Reuters News article stated that the government of North Korea has cut back the daily food allowances for 10.1 million of its citizens to eleven ounces per day, which will be mostly rice and no protein. This amounts to less than 300 calories per day. A starvation diet.

Can we attribute this famine to being a part of the “last days” Jesus spoke about in Matthew 24:7?

Maybe. But North Korea had a famine fifteen or twenty years ago which killed three million of its citizens. This nation’s main problem is its repressive ungodly Communist government. Probably not really a “last days” event as such.

Now, we Americans don’t think of a famine ever happening to our nation like the one which North Korea is undergoing right now. But that’s a terrible mistake on our part.

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius,and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.” (Revelation 6:6)

When the third seal is opened as stated in the above verse, famine will hit the whole earth. This is going to happen! Don’t close your eyes and hope it won’t! Don’t even waste your time trying to pray it away. It will happen!

And if you look ahead to Revelation 6:7-8 when the fourth seal is opened, a fourth of the earth will be killed by the sword, hunger and by beasts. Hungry people will fight for food and so will hungry beasts.

Two billion dead people (figuring 8 billion on the earth at the beginning of the Tribulation).

What can we do ahead of time?

Store up water and food? Probably a waste of time unless we can store up enough food for all of our neighbors, too. Why? Because we have to love our neighbors like ourselves.

Here’s what I suggest:

Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the Lorddelivers him; the Lord protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; You do not give him up to the will of his enemies. The Lordsustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health. (Psalm 41:1-3)

Give to the poor and needy now. Store up these good works for the days ahead. You will be blessed for doing it.

 

Part 8

There is an underlying story between the Book of Genesis and the Book of Revelation. That story revolves around God’s love for humans and how determined God is to redeem them.

In Genesis Chapter One, the first man –Adam – was created in God’s image and was given dominion over all of the earth.  Adam was created to walk and fellowship with God and then rule the earth as God’s ambassador. This was Adam’s birthright and therefore all of mankind’s birthright through Adam.

But soon, Eve was deceived by Satan and then Adam committed sin by rebelling against God’s commandment about not eating fruit from the tree of knowledge and evil. Adam’s sin cost him his birthright and therefore all of mankind’s birthright at the same time.

With his sin, Satan usurped Adam’s (and our) birthright and became the ruler of this world and the god of this age.

But here’s the good news: God created the heavens and earth. He also created the laws by which Satan and mankind must follow, concerning birthrights. These laws allow a male relative to buy back a birthright.

Now, all of mankind since Adam would have qualified as male relatives, but the male kinsman redeemer had to be without sin because of Adam’s sin of rebellion. This disqualified every man except one: Jesus, who is the last Adam.

And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. (Revelation 5:1)

The scroll is a legal document because only these were written on both sides. I believe it is Adam’s lost birthright, the title deed to the earth. Jesus, the Lamb of God, is the only Man who will be found worthy to open the seven seals so that the scroll will be totally opened.

In simplistic terms, I believe the opening of the seven seal judgments by the Lamb of God (Jesus) and then the resultant seven trumpet judgments are the acts our Kinsman Redeemer must perform to buy back the earth from Satan.

At the seventh trumpet, loud voices in heaven will proclaim:

The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever. (Revelation 11:15)

Question: Who sets the buy back terms for a birthright to be redeemed by a kinsman?

Answer: The owner of the birthright.

Thus, Satan set the terms by which the seven seal judgments and seven trumpet judgments are required to buy back what Adam lost in the Garden of Eden.

 

Part 9

The number seven is used over seven hundred times throughout the Bible, beginning with the creation week in Genesis Chapter One.

In the Book of Revelation alone, the number seven is used more than fifty times.Seven letters to seven churches. Seven Spirits before God’s throne. Seven golden lampstands. Seven stars in Christ’s right handSeven seal judgments. Seven angels with seven trumpets. And so forth.

Usually, the number seven in the Bible symbolizes perfection and completion. This is God’s number. He is the Perfect One.

Man’s number is six because he was created late on the sixth day. He is always less than seven (or God), just like “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Six is never greater than seven, nor is man greater than God.

Okay, all of the above prepares us for looking at the Millennium.

Most scientists believe the world is millions of years old, but who really cares what they say, right? The Bible reveals that the world is about six thousand years old. If the Word says so, I’m going to believe it. How about you?

But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (2 Peter 3:8)

The world is six thousand years old, but with the Lord, it is only six days old. That means the world is about to enjoy a Sabbath rest on the seventh day, or in this case the Millennium (or a thousand years).

The Millennium comes after the seven bowl judgments and after the battle of Armageddon. The armies of the Antichrist will be gone. The great kings and leaders of the earth will be gone. The Antichrist and his false prophet will be thrown into the lake of fire and Satan will be thrown into the bottomless pit.

So, what will we believers be doing during the Millennium?

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.(Revelation 20:3)

If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. (2 Timothy 2:12)

Believers will be reigning with Christ for a thousand years. What does that mean?

Let’s first do some figuring, okay?

As a guess, let’s say there will be 8 billion people living on the earth at the beginning of tribulation. The fourth seal judgment will kill a quarter of the earth’s population. That leaves the earth with about 6 billion people.

The sixth trumpet judgment will kill a third of the earth’s remaining population. That will leave the earth with about 4 billion people.

The seven bowl judgments are the worst of all the judgments because there will be no fresh water to drink. How long can people last without water? About three days and many won’t last that long because of the two bowl judgments beforehand. Plus, four more bowl judgments after the water is gone. And the battle of Armageddon will add tens of millions to the total.

So, as a guess, let’s say that there will be only 1-1.5 billion people left on the earth after all of the judgments and wars.

(Now remember: the various judgments are on the unbelievers, not believers, but we will suffer persecution.)

After the seven seal judgments, seven trumpet judgments and the seven bowl judgments, the earth will be devastated. The seventh bowl judgment will release an earthquake so mighty that all the cities of the earth will be destroyed.

There won’t be any homes. There won’t be any crops. There won’t be any transportation systems. There won’t be any economic systems. There won’t be any schools. All of this will have to be rebuilt for the 1-1.5 billion survivors.

Many Bible teachers – who I agree with – believe faithful Christians will manage the rebuilding of the earth under the guidance of King Jesus.

So, whatever we are going through right now is probably preparing us for our management positions in the Millennium. Let’s be faithful!

 

Part 10

In Chapter 24 of Matthew, Jesus warned us twice about false prophets. His first warning was given for the time period before the abomination of desolation,which would be for the first half of the seven years of Tribulation.

Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. (Matthew 24:11)

The second warning was given for the time period after the abomination of desolation or the second half of the seven years of Tribulation…also referred to as the Great Tribulation.

For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible even the elect. (Matthew 24:24)

Then Jesus seemed to reemphasize His warning about false prophets and false christs by adding–

Listen carefully, I have told you in advance. (Matthew 24:25)

Wait a second! All of Matthew Chapter 24 is a warning. So why did Jesus add these words?

I believe the forty-two months or one thousand two hundred and sixty days between the abomination of desolation and when the angel blows the seventh trumpet will have more people prophesying than any other time in the history of the world. How can I make this statement?

And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy. (Acts 2:17-18)

The testimony of Jesus, which is the spirit of prophecy, will be poured out on God’s people. All Christians will be able to prophesy.

Plus God’s two witnesses will be prophesying in Jerusalem.

And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. (Revelation 11:3)

But also Satan will counter all of this with his false prophet.

He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. 14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do…He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark… Revelation 13:11-17)

As we can readily see, there will be a war waged between true prophecy and false prophecy. Lives and souls will be at stake!

Most American believers will read all of this and say, “Oh Larry, I’m just going to trust God.”

Now, that’s good, but the over one hundred and fifty chapters in the Bible concerning End-Times prophecy are given to us so that we can prepare ourselves ahead of time. It’s up to each of us what we do with our resources.

And those of the people who understand shall instruct many… (Daniel 11:33)

I want to be one of those who instruct others. What about you?

 

Conclusion for Now

I have enjoyed writing this series and hope you have enjoyed them, too. If you’re interested in the End-Times, there’s plenty of room for new revelations from all of us. No one has it all figured out. So let’s start studying.

My advice is to read over the more than 150 chapters scattered throughout the Bible on End-Times prophecy. Mike Bickle has already provided us a list of these chapters. You can check them out here. And who knows? You might even find more chapters that aren’t mentioned by Bickle.

I have also listened to numerous End-Time teachers and read countless articles by such teachers as Mike Bickle, Mark Biltz, Chauncey Navarro and others. Bickle and Biltz are well-known, but Navarro happens to be my favorite. He’s fun to listen to and teaches the End-Times from a Jewish point of view.

So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— (Matthew 24:15)

And those of the people who understand shall instruct many… (Daniel 11:33)

Jesus admonished us to understand the End-Times. Why? So we can instruct those believers who will have no understanding when the End-Times hits this world.

None of this is above our pay grade. So, let’s go for it!

(Conclusion for now)

With 60 Million Dead Babies, Why Hasn’t God Removed America Yet?

Part 1

Throughout history, every nation that has murdered its babies has been removed by God. This includes the apple of His eye – Judah.

Judah went astray when King Manasseh and other kings set up an idol to Molech, an Ammonite god. Couples would honor Molech by burning their firstborn child as a sacrifice to Molech. The couples believed this would ensure their financial prosperity for themselves and their future children.

Say to the people of Israel, “Any one of the people of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech shall surely be put to death. The people of the land shall stone him with stones. And if the people of the land do at all close their eyes… then I will set my face against that man and against his clan and will cut them off from among their people, him and all who follow him in whoring after Molech.” (Leviticus 20:2)

Manasseh was king of Judah for fifty-five years. He sacrificed his firstborn son to Molech and by his example encouraged others to do the same. God sent prophets to Manasseh to repent, but the king would not listen to them. Thus, God sent the Assyrian army to take Manasseh into captivity to Babylon.

While in captivity, King Manasseh prayed and repented of his sins. Then God restored him to his throne in Jerusalem. Manasseh spent the rest of his life trying to remove the pagan influences in Jerusalem.

Two years after Manasseh’s death, King Josiah brought a great revival to Judah. He repaired the Temple, restored the feasts, renewed the covenant with God and reformed the nation. God said about Josiah: “There was no king like him, who turned to Him with all of his heart, with all his soul and all his might.”

Nevertheless the LORD did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath, with which His anger was aroused against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him. (2 Kings 23:26)

Jerusalem fell in 586 BC and Judah was carried off captive to Babylon. The reason the Lord removed Judah: the sins of Manasseh.

They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons; they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was polluted with blood. (Psalm 106:37-38)

 

Part 2

Many Christians who read Part 1 of this series will think that what happened to King Manasseh and Judah is irrelevant to what is happening in America right now. Why? Because Jesus and the New Covenant have changed everything for us, right?

The answer to this question is “yes” and “no.”

Let’s say that the 60 million aborted babies in America were aborted by 60 million different women and that each asked forgiveness for undergoing an abortion. Our Lord would forgive each one and thus the women would have their eternal slates wiped clean of that sin.

Let’s also say that every abortion doctor and every person involved in the abortion industry would ask forgiveness from the Lord for their sins of being involved in murdering babies. Our Lord would also forgive each one.

So, yes, Jesus and the New Covenant could make a difference in these women’s, the abortion doctors’ and other involved people’s lives.

But what about Planned Parenthood and the other abortion providers? What about the $547 million that Congress and other governmental entities gave to Planned Parenthood last year? Or the $532 million given to Planned Parenthood through private donations by corporations and individuals last year? What about the millions given to the other abortion providers? What about the $30 million given to political candidates by Planned Parenthood? What about the revenue Planned Parenthood has earned from harvesting and selling body parts? What about churches that support abortions? And so forth.

Now, this gets more involved.

Nonprofit organizations, churches, companies, corporations, and various levels of governments do not have voices before the throne of God. Yes, the individuals within these organized groups have voices and may be forgiven, but organizations as a whole do not.

Our Lord judges organizations according to the Laws of God, most of which are in the Old Covenant.

If you doubt this, read the last Book of the Bible: The Revelation of Jesus Christ. It is impossible to understand this Book and what will happen to nations and organizations unless you study the Old Covenant. The four hundred and four verses in the Book contain over eight hundred references to the Old Covenant.

 

Part 3

On the first Palm Sunday, Jesus rode a donkey, heading to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. His short journey began in the nearby town of Bethphage.

The road was crowded with disciples, Pharisees, scribes, and thousands of pilgrims from the Jewish Diaspora. Jerusalem’s normal population of 120,000 swelled to over a million people during a Passover feast because Jews from all over the Middle East returned to observe it.

As Jesus rode along, His disciples praised God, saying, Hosanna! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David. Blessed is the King. They sang these praises hoping Jesus would be their new King David who would return Israel to its former glory.

Jesus paused at a spot on the Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalem and the Temple. This was the exact spot where Jews throughout history had mourned over the Temple.

When Jesus stopped, the people probably hushed, anticipating a historic speech. All would have squeezed forward to hear Him say:

If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now, they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation. (Luke 19:42-44)

The people had to be shocked by His words.

Their beloved King David had prophesied the death of Jerusalem and the Temple. Judaism was a non-functioning religion without the two. No more altar. No more sacrifices. No more priests. No more City of God. Where would God go? After all, He lived in the Holy of Holies.

 

For thirty-four years, after Christ’s crucifixion, Christianity had an up and down relationship with Judaism. Times of heavy persecution were followed by times of coexistence. The Roman leaders paid little attention to Christians and considered them a small offshoot of Judaism during much of this period.

Jerusalem’s Christians assembled in home churches, but Jerusalem Christianity still had a distinct Jewish flavor about it. A few modern writers even refer to Jerusalem’s brand of Christianity as “Temple Christianity,” distinguishing it from Paul’s Christianity.

But all of this peaceful coexistence changed in 64 AD when Nero began persecuting Christians. Jewish zealots openly fought Roman armies in 66 AD.

In 66 AD or 67 AD, depending on which source you read, a Christian prophesied to the Jerusalem church. In it, Christians were reminded of Jesus’ prophecy and warned about the soon coming devastation of Jerusalem by Rome. All were advised to flee the city.

The Christians in Jerusalem heeded the prophecy by 69 AD. They left their homes, their livelihoods, and their Jewish friends. They relocated to Pella (a city sixty miles northeast of Jerusalem) and other Transjordan cities.

Even though the prophecy was specifically spoken to Christians, believers certainly would have explained to their neighbors why they were leaving. They would have mentioned both prophecies, attempting to convince their Jewish neighbors to flee, too. The neighbors would have repeated the conversations to others. On and on it would have continued until the whole city knew the reason for the Christian exodus: the soon coming destruction of Jerusalem.

But the Jewish zealots were winning the war with Rome at the time. The Jews still presumed God would protect Jerusalem and His chosen people. The result was that very few Jews listened to the Christians.

The siege of Jerusalem by the Roman armies in 70 A.D., under the command of General Titus, lasted five brutal months. Thousands starved to death or died of plagues. People drank urine because of the lack of water.

The siege finally ended when unarmed Jewish citizens surrendered to the onrushing Romans. As they stood there with their arms in the air, the Romans butchered them with swords. Pregnant woman had their stomachs slashed open and babies ripped out. The babies were then smashed against walls. Hundreds of people burned to death atop the Temple’s roof as they knelt in prayer, crying out to God for mercy. Men, women, and children of all ages were slaughtered.

The destruction of Jerusalem resulted in 1.1 million people being killed during the five-month long siege. Another 95,000 Jews were taken captive as slaves by the Romans. 

(An excerpt from Planning + Preparation = Survival by Larry Nevenhoven, Amazon eBook, © 2013)

If we think God won’t remove America because there are thousands of Christians living in our nation, we had better rethink our theories. You see, God removed Jerusalem after He had first sent all of the believers out of the city.

 

Part 4

How can a mother abort her baby? How can a medical doctor, who has sworn an oath to help people, justify murdering babies? How can politicians vote to destroy future Americans? How can a third of Christianity endorse abortion as being okay alongside their faith values?

Let me share a part of my testimony:

In 1995, my life was a shambles. Deep in debt. Not many job prospects or friends. Alone and lonely. Each day was a grueling nightmare just like the day before. Nothing seemed to change in my life no matter how hard I prayed, fasted or tried.

On one wintry afternoon, I was reading a biography on John G. Lake. As I read about this mighty man of faith, I became fed up with God and His ways. I put the book down and looked up to heaven. “God if You are such an almighty big God, then how come You don’t help me? Aren’t You big enough?”

I picked the book back up and continued reading.

All of a sudden, the Holy Spirit rushed into the room. He didn’t show up to snuggle with me or pat me on the head. He showed up in His fearful holiness.

As soon as I felt His holy presence, my knees hit the floor. “O God, don’t kill me! Please, don’t kill me! Please, God!” I prayed over and over again.

In the midst of my jabbering, I heard the Lord speak to my heart, “If I wanted to, I could handle your problems today.”

“O Lord, I believe You. Forgive me, but please don’t kill me,” I said aloud.

The fearful holiness of the Holy Spirit lifted off me, but in my heart, a fear of the Lord remained an integral part of my spiritual makeup.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…(Proverbs 9:10)

The fear of the LORD prolongs days… (Proverbs 10:27)

...by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil. (Proverbs 16:6)

Unger’s Bible Dictionary states:

Fear of the Lord would exist in a pious soul even if there were no punishment for sin. It dreads God’s displeasure, desires His favor, reveres His holiness, submits cheerfully to His will, is grateful for His benefits, sincerely worships Him, and conscientiously obeys His commandments. Fear and love must coexist in us so that either passion may be balanced and healthy.

You would think that the fear of the Lord would make me afraid of God or want to hide from Him, but that’s not true. I loved Him more than ever after that day.

Okay, so what?

I guarantee that if women, doctors, people involved in the abortion process, politicians, liberal Christians and others had a fear of the Lord as a part of their spiritual makeup, they would never opt for abortions in any manner at all.

They would never want to displease the Father.

My prayer:

Lord, I pray the Spirit of the fear of the Lord would fall on America so that the name of the Lord Jesus would be magnified in our nation. (Based on Isaiah 11:2 and Acts 19:17)

 

Part 5

After his rebellion, being thrown into the Sea, swallowed by a great fish and then vomited onto land, Jonah showed up in Nineveh, the capital of Assyria.

The prophet walked through the city, proclaiming, “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!”

The people and the King of Assyria heard Jonah’s message and believed it was from God. The King then proclaimed a decree which stated that no man or beast could eat or drink water – and – every man and beast had to be covered with sackcloth of mourning.

Can you imagine the hungry and thirsty cries of babies, children and animals filling the air in Nineveh? It had to be almost deafening. What an extreme reaction to a prophet’s proclamation!

And yet, the pagan King had no promise that the Lord would change His mind about destroying Nineveh if the city repented. His only hope was: “Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.”

How did God react?

When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened. (Jonah 3:10 NLT)

What if the King of Assyria had decided to check out Jonah’s credentials before deciding what to do? Or what if the King wanted to talk it over with his religious aides first? Or what if the King wanted to just wait and see before he acted?

Nineveh would have been destroyed. It took an extreme and immediate response to stave off the city’s destruction.

Will the Lord send last-call prophets, like Jonah, to America before removing the nation from before His eyes because of abortion?

 

Part 6

If you are reading this, then I’m dead and will forever remain sixty-six years old.

If you are a searcher, looking through the rubble for survivors or their remains, thanks for trying. I appreciate your efforts. If you are a looter who picked up my MacBook Air because you wanted it, consider the laptop a gift from me. I won’t need it anymore. But whatever your reasons, it makes no difference because I’m dead and just glad someone is reading my story.

Oh yeah, my name is Jackson Edwards.

Maybe I better get on with it because I’m drifting off more and more because of the pain.

 

It all began when my doorbell rang a few months ago.

Ding. Dong.

I hit pause on the TV remote and stood up. My sciatica and arthritis ached more than usual so I stretched myself, hoping to work out the kinks, before reaching for the doorknob. Halloween had passed two weeks earlier, but I still took no chances and looked through the peephole first. I saw my bearded neighbor standing in the hallway and opened the door.

“Monsieur Roberto,” I said with a lousy French accent.

“Si vou ples, Monsieur Jackson,” he said in his own second rate accent, pointing toward the living room.

“Come in, my Charismaniac friend.”

He laughed and walked into the living room and sat down on the sectional. I followed and sat on the opposite side of the coffee table in the leather recliner.

“I don’t know where to begin,” he said, rubbing his hands together.

His blue eyes checked out the oak floor that his jogging shoes rested upon. Something bothered him.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. “Don’t you usually start with John 3:16 and work your way through the rest of the Bible when you come here?”

“Hey, man, I’m sorry if I’ve ever whacked you over the head with my Bible.”

“Just yanking your chain, Dr. Bob.”

He sighed.

“Okay, but I still don’t know where to start.”

“Why not at the beginning? It’s only 7 p.m. and we have all night.”

He nodded and rubbed his forehead with a hand.

“Do you remember four years ago when I told you about a vision a Christian woman had about a gigantic ocean wave hitting Japan? Do you remember that?”

“Vaguely,” I whispered, not being totally honest because I remembered the story quite well. In fact, I even did research on Google and discovered numerous other warnings spoken ahead of time about the tsunami.

“Okay,” he said. “Well, this same woman just had a vision of a nuclear blast hitting us here in San Francisco ─”

“Really?”

“Yes, and not only that, a prophet friend from Albuquerque called and told us a disaster would soon hit the Bay Area. He recommended we should pack up and leave now.”

“Hmm,” I said, leaning forward in the recliner. “What are you going to do?”

“Mary and I sold our condo today, furniture and all. We’re moving to an area near Tahoe.”

“What about your medical practice? And your two kids?”

“My two partners bought out my share and we’ll homeschool our kids.”

Everything moved too fast to grab a hold of what he was telling me.

“Well, it’ll take sixty days or so for everything to close, right? So, we’ll have plenty of time to talk in the future.”

I stood up, hoping to end this uncomfortable conversation.

“No, sadly, we won’t. I made cash deals and sold everything for sixty cents on the dollar.”

I fell backwards into the recliner and shook my head.

“You took a four hundred-thousand dollar loss on your condo?”

“I would have given it away if I had to.”

I opened my mouth and closed it. How do you challenge a person who is willing to turn his back on a fabulous way of life in the city he loved? I know I could never have done it. It had been too hard building a forty-year career in Silicon Valley to end up tossing it away. And a million-dollar condo on Nob Hill? That would have been a laughable goal back in the days of my youth, living in the inner city of Oakland.

“Is this goodbye?” I asked.

He nodded and stood up, offering his hand to me. I stood and shook hands with him.

“Listen, Jackson, why don’t you come along with us? Mary and I really feel some bad things are going to happen in San Francisco and we don’t want anything to happen to you. We love you.”

“No way, I’ll take my chances here on Nob Hill,” I said, shaking my head. I winked my eye and added, “Just remember, my white Charismaniac friend, I’m still one of them jive-talking, hustle-or-die blacks from the inner city. We know how to survive.”

Bob turned and left. I never saw him again.

(Excerpt from Deceived Dead and Deliveredby Larry Nevenhoven, © 2013, Amazon eBook.)

Remember: God’s judgments are on the wicked, not on the righteous.

 

Continued in Part 7

We have this misguided thought that prophetic voices all work off the same page when they prophesy, but this isn’t true. The Lord reveals to each of His prophetic voices the individual insights He wants each to have so each can bring the specific word of the Lord for his generation.

For instance, Habakkuk and Zephaniah were contemporaries of Jeremiah, but only Jeremiah received the following insight:

Therefore do not pray for this people [Judah], nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you. (Jeremiah 7:16)

This should make all of us shake our heads in amazement that God would ask His mouthpiece – and also a chosen intercessor – not to pray for a nation, heading toward judgment.

And just to make sure that Jeremiah heard Him, God repeated Himself a few days later:

Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time that they cry out to Me because of their trouble. (Jeremiah 11:14)

Let’s put this in context, okay? The Lord is speaking about a specific nation – Judah – in these verses, not individuals. Nations have specific seasons when they must repent and change while individuals can repent right up to their dying breaths.

But what if Habakuk and Zephaniah truly believed Judah might repent and thus stave off God’s judgment? Wouldn’t these two prophets have spent much of their time praying and fasting for Judah? Of course, they would have.

So, on the one hand, there were probably two of God’s prophets praying and fasting for Judah to repent and change, but on the other hand, there was Jeremiah who had been told not to pray because God was going to judge and carry off Judah to Babylon.

Was God confused?

No, absolutely not.

God uses His prophetic voices to draw people to Him, to give them hope and to prepare them for the days lying ahead. Now, we have to remember that not all people walk at the same spiritual level. So, God sends prophetic voices to encourage believers to move to higher spiritual levels without overwhelming them ahead of time.

I like to think of God’s prophetic voices being like the grains in a 12 Hour Contac Cold Capsule. Each grain of cold medicine is a different size from the others. Some are really minute while others are really large. It takes different amounts of time for the stomach to break down each grain size. In this manner, the cold capsule combats cold symptoms for each of the twelve hours.

Hopefully, this helps to explain why sometimes prophetic voices seemingly contradict one another when they talk about a nation. Some may be talking about revival while others may be talking about God’s wrath.

 

Conclusion

Fact # 1 Throughout history, every nation that has murdered its babies has been removed by God. Period.

Fact #2  Remember: God’s judgments are on the wicked, not on the righteous.

So, will the Lord send last-call prophets, like Jonah, to America before removing the nation from before His eyes because of abortion?

Yes.

Let’s review the Biblical presidents for God warning the righteous before pouring out His wrath on a territory.

1. Lot, his wife and two daughters before the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah:

At dawn the next morning the angels became insistent. “Hurry,” they said to Lot. “Take your wife and your two daughters who are here. Get out right now, or you will be swept away in the destruction of the city!”

16 When Lot still hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for the Lord was merciful. 17 When they were safely out of the city, one of the angels ordered, “Run for your lives! And don’t look back or stop anywhere in the valley! Escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away!” (Genesis 19:15-17 NLT)

2Jesus’ prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem and the prophetic warning in 66 or 67 AD to the righteous to flee Jerusalem before God judged the city. (See here.)

3. The Lord’s future warning for believers to flee the city of Babylon before God destroys it.

And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, My people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.  (Revelation 18:4)

Okay, these are three Biblical witnesses that we can hang our hats on, but we also need to heed the words of Jesus:

Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:36)

What do I think will happen?

The blood of 60 million babies cry out to God everyday in much the same way the slain martyrs do in the Book of Revelation: “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you judge the people and avenge our blood for what they have done to us?”

I absolutely believe God’s pent-up anger concerning abortion will be poured out in terrible judgments on America, especially certain states and cities. Unlike His mercy for individuals, there is always an end to God’s patience and long-suffering for nations, states and cities. It could happen soon!

For me, my heart is broken and concerned for California, Oregon and Washington. If I lived in these three states, I would seek the Lord about moving to another state.

(Conclusion)

 

Do Our Personal Sins Hurt Our Neighbors?

I recently saw an interesting meme on a Facebook’s friend’s timeline, promoting pro-choice and abortion:

“This isn’t about abortion. It’s about people having options, and everyone else minding his own business. If it does not affect you directly, it’s not your business.”

The meme’s words caused me to ask myself, “Do my personal sins affect my neighbors’ lives?”

Let’s begin seeking answers to this question by looking at the various types of sin in the Bible.

Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation. (Exodus 34:7)

The Bible separates sin into three specific types: sin, transgression and iniquity.

Although the word sin can be used as a generic catchall word for all three types, its biblical definition really means “missing the mark,” as an archer’s arrow misses its target.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

Basic sin is disobedience to God’s commands and His word, but usually without willful intent. Examples of sin: losing your temper with your spouse, getting caught up in gossip with your neighbor, exaggerating your importance at work to a new employee and so forth.

All basic sins can easily be reconciled by asking forgiveness of the Lord and if needed, the person involved.

The word transgression means revolt or rebellion and is willful disobedience of God’s commands.                       

And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression (1Timothy 2:14)

Eve knew that God had commanded them not to eat the fruit of the tree of good and evil, but she rebelled and did it anyway. As with all acts of rebellion, Eve suffered consequences for her transgression.

Truthfully, we all have transgressed at different times in our Christian journeys and can probably give interesting testimonies about the consequences we suffered. But as with sin, transgression simply requires us to ask forgiveness of the Lord and anybody involved. Then, we need to change our ways and not continue in the transgression.

Yet, continuing in a transgression without repentance eventually leads to iniquity. The word iniquity means depravity (evil perverseness or moral corruption) and always carries within it the hatred of God and His ways.

Iniquity is not always a voluntary disobedience to the commands of God, like transgression is, but instead, it may be more of a second nature sin. It could be a demonic stronghold within the individual which was passed on through his ancestral lineage or through rape or it could be that the individual surrendered himself to an evil principality over a region.

The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. (Proverbs 5:22 ESV)

Ridding oneself of iniquity is not as easy as it is for sins or transgressions. Because it is intertwined with the individual’s personality and attitudes, it requires acceptance of truth, God’s mercy and the fear of the Lord to set an individual free. This usually needs a deliverance move by the Spirit of God upon the people.

…For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting [punishing] the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me. (Deuteronomy 5:9)

Iniquities are not committed in spiritual vacuums. They are committed before the throne of God and cry out to the Judge to be avenged.

 

Part 2

As I wrote in Part 1: the word sin means “missing the mark,” as an archer’s arrow misses its target. One of the most common sins is fear.

The following is a true story from my life:

“If you can’t pay the truck payments up to date by Monday afternoon, bring us the truck. No more stalling because it has to be one or the other,” said the Ford Motor Credit official.

I hung up the phone, wondering if the Lord had another financial miracle in His basket to deliver me out of this predicament.

The new Ford F-150 pickup became a part of my life just five days before that dreadful morning on July 8, 1994. A special offer to businessmen lured me into the Ford dealership in Ames and the zero down payment financing sealed the deal. The dealership even filled the dual tanks with gas before I drove off the sales lot. What a blessing, I thought at the time.

Then, my financial nightmare hit.

The $300 monthly truck payment and insurance expenses added millstone weights to my downward death spiral. On the one hand, I needed the truck to remain a painting contractor so I could earn enough money to pay off my bad checks and painting debts. Yet, on the other hand, there never seemed to be enough money left over from my painting jobs for truck payments.

I eventually trusted the Lord to work out all of my other financial problems, and even had peace about each of them, but the Ford F-150 was a different story. I could not remove the nagging fear of losing it. It haunted me day and night.

The truck payments were ninety days late four times in the year after July 8, 1994. My problem was not an imaginary fear, but rather, a real one. I awoke each morning and looked out the window, checking if the truck still remained outside in the parking lot or had been repossessed during the night.

A friend grabbed my shoulder one morning during a prayer meeting, turning me around to face her.

“The Lord spoke to me about you, and said the cares of the world are pulling Larry under,” she said, staring into my eyes.

“Yeah, that’s right. It’s the truck. I can’t quit worrying about it. Pray for me.”

She prayed, but I still had no peace about the situation.

I fasted and prayed against every possible demon. I read Psalm 37 and countless other scriptures to bolster my faith, but still, the fear of losing the truck sucked every bit of joy out of my life.

The Lord finally spoke to me in a vision while I slept one night: “The truck is Mine −not yours. It is My responsibility to watch over it. If I choose to give it back to Ford Motor Company, that’s up to Me, and not you. So, quit worrying about it.”

My fears evaporated that morning. Why worry about someone else’s problems, right?

Ford Motor Company repossessed the truck six months later. I washed, waxed, and cleaned it before returning it to the dealership. It was the Lord’s truck and I wanted Him to know how much I appreciated driving it.

(An excerpt from my memoir – The Hunt for Larry Who by Larry Nevenhoven, ©2014, Amazon eBook)

 

Part 3

God tests our hearts to reveal to us what is in them, but just so you know, it’s usually not a good report.

This was especially true about my heart during a 1995 experience. That particular day I had been sitting alone in my apartment, reading a biography about the faith and healing pioneer, John G. Lake. As I turned the pages and read how God continually provided for Lake’s needs, it dawned on me — my life really sucks right now. Where was the God who was supposed to be my provider?

At the time, I owed thousands of dollars to numerous creditors, most of my friends had dropped me like a hot potato, the woman who I thought would be my wife didn’t want to see me and my kitchen cupboard was bare. I was lonely, broke, hungry and angry.

I laid the book down and stood up. “God if You’re such a big God,” I said, “how come You can’t help me with my problems right now? Maybe Your arm is not as strong as it was a hundred years ago. Is that Your problem?”

I sat down, quite satisfied with the way I confronted God. I picked up the book to continue my reading.

Then, all of a sudden, the Holy Spirit burst into the room in His holiness and power. His Presence blanketed me. I dropped the book and fell on my knees. “O Lord, don’t kill me! Don’t kill me! Forgive me! Forgive me! Please don’t kill me!” I said over and over again.

In the midst of my  plea bargaining, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart. “If I wanted to, I could deliver you from all of your problems in a blink of My eye.”

“O Lord,” I whispered, “I believe You and will never doubt You again.”

The Holy Spirit’s heavy presence lifted off me.

How many are my iniquities and sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin. (Job 13:23)

It was the love of God that showed up in my room that day to reveal my transgression (or rebellion) to me. I still treasure that experience.

 

Part 4

How would you like to come back from a short honeymoon and discover another couple has moved into your apartment while you were gone?

Tony and Janelle already lived with us in our apartment because of health issues, but Rick and Marta then showed up, needing a place to stay for a time. We were all friends, but this was not exactly a love boat situation for us.

Carol and I were learning how to live with each other while also learning how to live with other people at the same time. And guess what? Proximity adds pressure, pressure becomes stress, and if the conditions are right, stress erupts.

A few days after our return, Carol arrived home from work to see me in a bad mood.

“Larry, what is your problem?” she said with concern on her face.

“I want to kill the other two couples.”

“That doesn’t sound very godly.”

“Well, God killed more people in the Old Testament than anyone else did. Thus, maybe, I’ll be acting as an agent of God by hanging the four of them.”

She rolled her eyes.

“Listen up, Honey, if you don’t get on your knees and repent, we will never have our own place. Think about that, okay?”

I mumbled something as she left the bedroom, but eventually I bowed down by the bed, praying until peace filled my heart about our situation.

“Lord, I give up. If You want us to live with other people, I will love them and be their servant to the best of my ability.”

My attitude changed right away. Dirty dishes left in the sink − no problem. I washed them. Food left on the counter − no problem. I put it away. Messy living room − no problem. I vacuumed and straightened everything up. Need groceries − no problem. I went out and bought them. Wrong TV channel − no problem. I changed channels.

This revelation dawned on me that day: if I am unhappy about something, I needed to shut up, and fix the problem. This was the only way to live in community with other believers without creating a bunch of laws, which all would end up hating and rebelling against.

This attitude especially helped us in our first three years of marriage because Carol and I lived with other people a little more than two thirds of the time.

(An excerpt from my memoir – The Hunt for Larry Who by Larry Nevenhoven, ©2014, Amazon eBook)

 

Part 5

I was going through the worst trial of my life where nothing was going right for me. Finances, relationships and everything else were in the toilet, waiting to be flushed. It was all I could do to rise each morning and put one foot in front of the other throughout the day. Then I had a dream.

In it, I arrived in heaven. It was so beautiful and peaceful there. No fear. No worries. No enemies. Only peace. Only joy. Only love. Even the colors were alive and seemed to sing in their beauty to the Creator.

But as dreams usually do, the scene changed and I saw myself standing in front of a long line of young, dark-skinned people. The first one walked up to me and said, “I died young and did not achieve God’s destiny for my life because you failed to fulfill the calling on your life.” When he finished, he walked off.

The second person in line then stepped forward. He repeated what the first young man had said to me. Then, a third. And a fourth. And so forth.

As I stood there and looked at the endless line of young people waiting to talk with me, I couldn’t handle it anymore. I cried out to the Lord at the top of my lungs. “Lord, give me a second chance. Send me back to earth and I promise to not allow pain, agony, rejection, sin or anything else to stop me from fulfilling the calling which You have placed on my life.”

End of dream.

Yet, I can still the long line of young people waiting to talk with me. The dream continues to work on me, even today.

For many are called (invited and summoned), but few are chosen. (Matthew 22:14 AMP)

The Lord determines the type of calling He places on our lives, but we determine whether or not we are chosen to fulfill that calling on earth by how we endure His training program.

You see, at any point in the training process, we can rebel and opt out. It’s our decision, but we need to remember that there are consequences involved with our decisions.

(Continued in Part 6)