Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hallelujah, You are Worthy to be Praised!

For a perfect way to remember and exalt the Lord for His blessings this past year and for what He will do in the coming year, click here.

Turn it up...You might even find yourself raising your hands...He is so worthy of our praise!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


My twin sister's oldest daughter and her husband are visiting from Southern California.  Yesterday my daughter and her husband took them to Seattle on the ferry.  My husband tagged along.  I needed to stay at home and finish a photo project.  The pictures are his.  He's a pretty good photographer, wouldn't you say?!

I heard Daniel had a taste of his first french fry in Seattle.  Check it out by clicking here.  (Yay, Annie is blogging again!)

Come for a visit and we'll take you too!

To view the entire album, click here.

Be sure to click on slideshow and then F11 for the best viewing experience.

Monday, December 28, 2009


John has a lot to say about life.  He used the word over 40 times in his gospel alone.  In 1 John 5:11–12 he wrote, “...God has given us eternal life, and the life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life."

John 1:3,4 tells us, "All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men."

Jesus said John 14:6 - "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me."

Here are a couple of truths that can be drawn out of these verses.  First, life existed before matter.  (Evolutionists try to convince us of the opposite, that matter came before life...)  Jesus is the life and in Him was life.  Jesus is the Creator.  He is the Creator of matter.  He instilled life into matter.  Life existed before matter.  This supports Jesus claim to be God, the second person in the eternal Godhead, because only God could exist before matter existed.

Physical life is only possible because of Jesus.  Spiritual life is only possible with Jesus.  If you have Jesus, you have life, eternal life, you know the one and only true God.  If you reject Jesus, you reject eternal life.  You don't have eternal life.  You will exist forever, but without knowing the one and only true God.  You will exist in darkness, forever. 

If you say you believe in Him, but try to add anything along with Him, good works or another man-made god, you do not have eternal life.  He who has the Son has life.  The only way to the Father, the only way to gain eternal life, is through Christ, and Christ alone.  He is the light that points man to the one and only true God.  He and He alone must be listened to and obeyed, to gain eternal life.

John 3:16 says that God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.   Is He tugging at your heartstrings?  To believe in Him, alone?  Don't reject Him.  Don't try to add anything along with Him.  Jesus came so that His sheep might have life and have it abundantly - John 10:10.  To have life abundantly is to have life far beyond what is necessary.  To all who believe in Him, they have the matchless gift of eternal life which exceeds all expectations!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Precious Little Gifts...

Daisy and Daniel

"...the Word was God." John 1:1

"The Word was God."  These four words at the end of the first verse in the gospel of John are the clearest and most direct declaration of the deity of the Christ to be found anywhere in Scripture.  This is one of the first things that John wanted us to know of the claims Jesus made concerning Himself.  Jesus Christ is God.  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  As God, Jesus enjoyed full, face to face communion with God the Father from eternity past.

One of the most pointed statements Christ makes is found in John 8:24, "...unless you believe that I am [He], you will die in your sins."  The pronoun "He" does not appear in the Greek text.  When Jesus said that you must believe that "I am", Jesus applied to Himself the name of God that was so sacred that the Jews refused to pronounce it.

Your eternity began the moment you were born.  My friend, the person who rejects that Jesus Christ is God cannot be saved and will spend eternity separated from Him, in eternal punishment.  (Mt. 25:46) 

This is the full, biblical revelation of Christ.

He is...
  • the eternal second person of the Trinity
  • He entered time and space as God in the flesh, sent by God the Father
  • He was born of a virgin
  • He lived a sinless life
  • His death on the cross is the only sufficient sacrifice for the sins of those who believe in Him
  • He rose from the dead and ascended to the Father in heaven
  • He now intercedes for His redeemed people
  • He will return again in glory for His redeemed people who will then enjoy full, face to face communion with Him for the rest of eternity.
To reject these truths about the Lord Jesus Christ is to be led astray.

John 5:24 - "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life."

John 12:48 - "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke will judge him on the last day."

My prayer for you this Christmas is that if you haven't already, you will come to know Jesus, who came to earth as God in the flesh just over two thousand years ago, as your Savior and Lord.

Romans 10:9-11 - "That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.  For the Scripture says, "WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED."

Monday, December 21, 2009

"Come, and you will see."

What are some of the most notable or memorable words anyone has ever spoken to you?  They are probably words that changed the course of your life.  Words such as, "Will you marry me?"  "It's cancer."  "We're pregnant!"  "I'm sorry but he didn't make it."

Andrew and John were with John the Baptist when he cried out, "Behold, the Lamb of God."  They immediately followed Jesus.  We are told that Jesus turned and saw them following and asked them what they were seeking.  Andrew and John responded with the question, "Where are You staying?"  Jesus then replied with, "Come, and you will see."  I don't think the Lord was simply inviting them to discover where He was staying.  He was inviting them to come and gain from Him.  Just what was it that they would gain?  Insight into the very mind of God! 

This invitation changed the course of these two men's lives.  We are not given the record of what they discussed that evening but no doubt the Lord opened their minds to the things concerning Himself in the Scriptures.

In a previous post I told you John 17 was one of my favorite chapters in the Bible.  Here we find the Lord talking to His Father just prior to going to the cross.  I love John 17:3 - "And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent."  Eternal life is not simply endless existence.  Everyone will exist somewhere, forever.  The question is, in what condition or in what relationship will they spend eternity?  In what condition is your life at right now?  What is your relationship to God?  Your eternity began the moment you were born.  In what condition or in what relationship will you spend eternity? 

John said the purpose of his writing was so that the reader might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior, the Son of God; and that believing the reader might have life in His name.  (John 20:31)  John is talking about eternal life, not physical life, though Jesus is the Creator of that too.  The insight we gain from what John learned by being with Jesus for three years is that eternal life is knowing a Person.  It is gained by what you believe about that Person.  I'm inviting you to spend some time with me in the book of John.  Here we find God, the one, the only true God.  Here we find Jesus Christ, the Savior whom the only true God sent, whose birth we celebrate at this time of year.  Here we find real, wonderful, amazing, abundant, thirst-quenching, soul-satisfying, eternal life which begins right here, on this earth!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Living Nativity Video

Scott Turner from the Kitsap Sun took video and wrote up a short article on our Living Nativity.  To view the video and read the article click here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Today is my husband's birthday....

Doesn't he have a great smile?

Let me tell you about him...

He likes dark chocolate,
steam trains,
the end cut on a prime rib roast,
World Magazine,
taking walks on rainy days,
walnuts on his brownies, 
calling me on his cell phone because he can and not because he forgot the list,
a lively political discussion,
when I laugh at his jokes,
singing in the choir,
growing a garden,
surprising me with flowers,
 decaf French roast coffee (with "no room" - if he gets it at Starbucks),
eating out at the Ram,
giving Daniel the tickle-spider,
when the Seahawks win,
 lunch with a view of Mount Rainier,
lap dogs that don't bark too much,
teasing Daisy,
meeting new people,
Starbucks old-fashioned donuts to go with his decaf French roast - "no room",
phone calls from Ben,
cooking shows,
when Annie kisses him good-bye on the cheek,
borrowing Ruh's van to make a dump run and then filling it with gas,
keeping me safe,
reaching for my hand when I walk by his recliner.

And that smile...still makes my heart swirl!

Monday, December 14, 2009


What a weekend it has been!  Three nights of our Living Nativity with record breaking numbers...Sunday morning was a baby dedication, a very special one since Annie and Ruh were part of it, making a commitment to raise Daniel in the fear and admonition of the Lord.  Even before he was born, I began praying that the Lord would draw Daniel to Himself at an early age and that continues to be my heart.  Then, this evening our choir sang on the Gig Harbor Waterfront.  Every single moment of the past four days has been wonderful and a blessing, but - I am ready for a nap!  Actually, I am about to call it a night.  No alarms in the morning...I think I am going to just let the Lord wake me up...

Good night, or good morning!  Take your pick, depending on when you read this post...

Living Nativity - From Pastor Mark

Christmas came to life again last week during our eleventh and largest Living Nativity since 1998.  We praise the Lord for the good weather and record crowds this year of 3,829.  Months of preparation culminated as our cast of over two hundred characters plus many animals came together to depict the birth of Christ in Bethlehem .  This was all with a view to Christ's sacrifice on the cross, resurrection and second coming.  The Gospel was given out in many ways during the event.  Most guests were "blown away" by what they saw.   Some even came to tears.  Here are some observations from Mike Powers who was our Roman Centurion at the exit just after the manger scene...

"It has been such a blessing to be a part of this ministry to our community.  I have been the last person they see coming through by car. I am a Roman centurion.  I stopped almost every car.  I could see their faces light up as I walked toward their car.  I could tell they were happy that their experience wasn't over.  I would slowly scan the back seats and then lean towards the driver's window and ask in my best Buzz Light-Year voice, "Are there any Hittite hostages in this strange, mechanized chariot?"  I got all kinds of reactions, but mostly people really laughed.  Some husbands told me their wives were Hittite hostages or their kids, but no matter who they told me were hostages, I told them to take them with them!...which usually brought on more laughs.  As they drove off, everyone said at least, "Thank you."  Other comments were: "This was great!";  "This was amazing!"; "Outstanding!"; "This is so special!"; "Praise the Lord!"; "How many people are involved in this?"; "How long does it take to set all of this up?  Amazing!"; "We love this.  We come every year!"; "Merry Christmas!"; "Awesome, simply awesome!"  I praise God for the opportunity we have all had to minister to our community and I wanted to pass along these words of encouragement from the community back to all of you.  My favorite comment was from a guest who said "We have been to the real Bethlehem but this is way better."

Both modern day Bethlehem and Christmas have become commercialized.  However, our goal was to depict the event as it really happened in a small, out of the way village during the time of Roman census.  It was all free.  Thanks again to all our workers and our guest helpers.  All were willing to brave the December cold, even our 5 Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus couples, to make Christmas come to life. Thanks to all who donated over 150 dozen cookies, dozens of gallons of cider, and many other refreshments.   Our previous record attendance was 2,536 - last year.  But this year 3,829 either drove or walked through, or both, making it our largest year ever!

Living Nativity - Last Evening


Tonight was the last night and 1,300 people came through!  What a blessing this weekend was!  This was our eleventh year.  In past years we've dealt with many inches of snow, wind, pouring rain.  The weather couldn't have been more perfect this year.  The most we've ever had come through was around 2,500.  This year we had over 3,800 people...incredible!  The last vehicle to go through was our Pierce County Sheriff congregant.  He had his lights'll see in the album.  All cast members fall in behind and walk up to the manger scene where we gather and sing Christmas carols, share the comments we've heard, and then our pastor closes the weekend with prayer.  One of the comments overheard was that this was better than the one put on in the real Bethlehem!  Apparently it has become very commercialized.  One of our Joseph's was blessed by hearing the parents tell the gospel story to their children as they walked through.  I love the comment that Beth left in the post for the second evening.  Be sure and read it.   We had visitors from England and even Brazil!  As your "chariot" left, the last Roman soldier could be heard querying, "So, do you have any stow-away Hittites?"  One dad said, "Just my children!"

Bethlehem was bustling with people 2,000 years ago because of the census ordered by Caesar Augustus.  Most missed what took place in that town so many years ago.  The Word became flesh so that He could save His people from their sins.  Jesus came.  One star announced His first coming.  The whole heavenly host of stars will announce His second coming.  Are you longing for it as much as I am?  Troublesome times are ahead before He returns but He has promised He'd be with us until the end of the age, when He comes and the elect are gathered.  

Christmas joy and blessings to you!       

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Living Nativity - Evening Two

No snow tonight, just cold.  We had a record breaking 1,404 people come through and ran out of the 137 dozen cookies we made last week!  Another fun view the entire album click here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Living Nativity - Evening One

It's that time of year again when my church puts on a Living Nativity.  We had over 1,100 people come through on our first night tonight.  We will put it on again for two more evenings.  You can drive through or walk through.  As you enter, you are greeted by a Roman soldier who wants to know how many people are in your caravan.  Bethlehem was a busy town as many had come for the census by order of Caesar Augustus.  We have prophets that guide you along the way, telling you the account of the birth of Christ.  Over 200 characters are involved along with live animals.  Many will come inside after they have gone through and enjoy the warm beverages and snacks that are served.  It's a great outreach to our community.  My grandson Daniel is one of the Baby Jesus's this year and my daughter Annie was of course Mary.  Daniel did wonderfully inspite of the 23 degree temperature.  Snow is in the forecast for Saturday and Sunday.  The next two albums could have some fun images!  To view the entire album click here. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


By Kristen Wisen

Wrath is a hot topic in prophecy circles these days. As the international economic crisis continues to grow, the world seems to be searching for a leader to arise and offer a solution to the suffering and uncertainty. This global calling has caused red flags to be raised among prophecy watchmen, as they wonder if the events they are seeing are ushering in the final days of life here on earth. Who will fill the role of the Antichrist? What nations are gathering and uniting with power? What is the spiritual condition of the church? How long until God pours His wrath out on the earth?

These are but a few questions that are circulating in Christian circles. And though no tangible conclusions can yet be made, most agree that no matter where we are in the prophetic timeline of the last days, believers don’t have too much to worry about, since we know for certain that we are not destined for wrath. How do we know this? Who made this claim in scripture? For this answer, we need to look at the author and his intended audience, Paul and the young church at Thessalonica.

Paul owned his calling.

Not only did he pour his life into physically visiting his Gentile church plants but in his absence spent countless hours in prayer and instructing them through the written word. They were constantly on his mind and brought him great joy, as well as great concern. Their struggles he bore personally, their successes turned his heart to the Lord in thanksgiving. His paternal love for these young believers spread out across Asia Minor evidenced how seriously he took his calling. He not only heeded the call of God, he owned it.

It’s no wonder then, when the suffering church of Thessalonica needed reassurance, Paul was quick to respond. This church was in the throes of persecution that began the moment it was established during
Paul’s second missionary journey. His radical claims about Jesus as the Christ stirred the anger of the local synagogue leaders and even after Paul’s quick departure, the anger refused to dissipate. Instead of Paul
being the focus of their fury, it was now this small church of young believers who bore the weight of persecution.

Having sent Timothy to check on these young believers and received a positive report back on the spiritual health of the church, Paul wrote his first letter to them with the purpose of encouraging them and reminding them of the truth of his message. He expressed concern for their suffering and praised their continued growth in the face of persecution.

Near the end of his letter, Paul addressed a specific concern of the church and in this portion of his letter penned the theme phrase of End Times theologians, “God has not destined us for wrath.” (I Thess. 5:9)
The church lived in anticipation of the return of Jesus and wondered what would happen to their loved ones who had died before His return. Would they miss out on the glorious reunion? Would they forever be in
the grave? When exactly was this going to happen anyway?

Paul, with the patience of a father, gently comforted these young believers by explaining to them that at the coming of the Lord, the dead in Christ will rise first and then the rest of the church “…will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air…” (I Thess. 4:17).

Then he turned to the timing issue. He reminded them that although the return of Christ would bring destruction upon an unsuspecting world, believers are not surprised. Believers live in the light and are called to be alert and sober. Here he connected the simultaneous events of the Day of the Lord and the gathering of
believers, using the “thief in the night” illustration. For the world, the Day of the Lord would bring surprising destruction, but because “…God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our
Lord Jesus Christ…” (I Thess. 5:9) believers would be spared God’s wrath, so that whether they were alive or had already died they would all live together with Him, having been gathered into the clouds to meet
the Lord in the air.

“Not destined for wrath.” A great promise and yet these four simple words have become a point of great argument and debate as to the timing of Jesus’ return. Those who hold to a pretribulational rapture believe the final seven years of prophetic fulfillment here on earth encompass the full wrath of God. From the first seal to the final trumpet, the book of Revelation is all about wrath. Therefore at the gathering of the church, the wrath begins, which places the rapture as the starting point for the final seven years.

For those who hold to a prewrath rapture the wrath of God does not begin until well into the final seven years, after the Antichrist desecrates the temple and pours out great tribulation upon believers and Jews alike. To end this slaughter, God cuts the time of persecution short by gathering of His children and bringing His wrath to earth, an event referred to by the Old Testament prophets as the great and terrible Day of the Lord. Though believers are sent into the great tribulation and many lose their life during that time, they are “not
destined for wrath” and those who survive are taken before the judgment of God rains down from heaven.

Two similar claims, using the same phrase, with polar opposite applications. We have but one Word of God, and yet consensus is overwhelmingly impossible to achieve. How can this debate be resolved? When boiled down to it’s simplest form, the answer must be found in the four simple words: “not destined for wrath.” This tiny promise, tucked within a letter to a suffering church as a means of encouragement, holds the key to unlocking this theological debate.

First, let’s ask a question – what exactly is God’s wrath? We know that suffering in hell is definitely the final and eternal punishment for unbelievers as they bear the wrath of God for their own sin (Revelation 20:10‐15, 21:8). But scripture also describes earthly events as God’s wrath. In Numbers 16, after the rebellion of Korah against Moses was stopped by God Himself, a plague was sent into the congregation and over 14,000 people died as a consequence for murmuring and complaining. Moses, speaking of the plague, said “…for wrath has goneforth from the Lord…” (Numbers 16:46).

From Isaiah to Jeremiah to the Lamentations of King Solomon, the word wrath is used to describe the burning anger of the Lord that results in suffering, death and destruction. The prophets Ezekiel and
Zephaniah connect the term wrath with the phrase Day of the Lord and describe this time as when the burning anger of the Lord is to come upon the earth. Joel dedicates his whole book to this theme, placing the
context as God’s holy judgment on the nations and associates this pending doom with heavenly signs – the extinguishing of the natural heavenly lights.

Wrath is associated with great and supernatural destruction. It is described as terrible and awesome and is coupled with terms such as fierce, fury and fire. When the word first shows up in the prophetic book of Revelation, it is after the sixth seal is opened and the lights in the heavens become blackened. At the sight of this great event along with a great, world wide earthquake, the men of the earth – the kings, great men, commanders, rich, strong, slaves and freemen alike – will hide themselves among the mountains and caves and say, “…Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:16,17) Then, as the trumpets blow and the bowls are poured out on the earth, the wrath of God is displayed in all its furious glory.

A quick run through Revelation chapters 8, 9 and 16 describe in full the supernatural events associated with God’s wrath in the last days. Hail and fire, mixed with blood is thrown down to the earth and a third
of the earth is burned up. Something like a great mountain on fire is thrown into the sea and a third of the sea becomes blood, killing a third of sea life and destroying a third of the ships. Later the sun is empowered to scorch men with fire followed by darkness covering the earth, producing tongue‐gnawing pain. Malignant sores will break out on the people of the earth, and this is but a few of the torments that are encompassed within the wrath of God.

Now, let’s ask another question – why aren’t believers destined for wrath? Though the answer seems rather obvious, it is important to state. We are not destined for wrath because the wrath of God was already poured out on Jesus as the price of our sin. The theological term for this is propitiation, meaning God takes our place. We deserve God’s judgment and wrath for our sin, but Jesus Christ took our place, bore our sin, endured the wrath of His Father on our behalf and our account was marked “Paid in Full.” It would render the sacrifice of Jesus useless if believers were destined for God’s wrath. The whole reason He died was to change our destiny from wrath to glory. (Hebrews 2:9‐18; I John 4:7‐11; John 3:14‐21) Therefore, whether it be the weight of eternal separation or specific supernatural judgment that we see in the last days, believers will not be the recipients of God’s wrath.

The urge to pause is great. Thanks be to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for bearing this wrath on our behalf! We will never experience this wrath for it is not our destiny, but it is still a reality described in scripture that should produce awe and gratitude within the very core of our souls.

We all agree that God’s wrath toward our sin was poured out on Jesus, therefore we aren’t destined for wrath. So, on to the final question, then, regarding the timing of God’s wrath – since the word “wrath” is not used in Revelation until the supernatural sign of the heavenly lights darkening, (just prior to the trumpets and the seals in Revelation) is it possible that the events leading up to this verse are not yet the wrath of God? To determine whether or not the seals are the wrath of God, let’s take a quick look at them. In Revelation 6 you will find wars, death, famine, pestilence and martyrdom. As the sixth seal introduces the heavenly sign that produces fear in the hearts of the world, we can turn to Jesus’ teaching in the Olivet Discourse in Matthew
24 and add to our list the events that will take place before that heavenly disturbance, which Jesus describes as the event that will announce His return. Jesus adds to the previous list false Christs, earthquakes, falling away, lawlessness, the desecration of the Temple and the Great Tribulation. Are these things the wrath of God being poured out on the earth? Are these things the wrath which believers are not destined to endure?

Dear friend, we have the benefit of history to answer this question. If famine, wars, earthquakes, pestilence and martyrdom are a part of God’s wrath, then believers have been enduring the wrath of God for thousands of years. These are all events common to history and common to believers. False Christs, falling away from the faith and even frustrating lawlessness are all results of sinful men. Yes, we will reap what we sow, but these things are not the wrath of God. We already know how the wrath of God is described, and there is an obvious reason that the seals are opened and yet there is no emotional response of the world to the seals. Wars, natural disasters and death have always been a part of life, so why would an increase in these events catch the eye of an unbeliever?

Yet when God supernaturally darkens the sun, moon and stars – now that gets the worlds attention! As the prophets foretold, this heavenly calling card indicates the start of the great and terrible Day of the Lord, and as Paul reminded that young church in Thessalonica, as the wrath of God comes to earth, the church is taken away to be with the Lord forever. Jesus taught this clearly in Luke 21 when He said, “There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth great dismay among the nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these things begin to take place, straighten your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:25‐28) Sign in the heavens, fear among the people of the world, and hope for the believer as Jesus returns for them and brings His wrath. We will face the events prior to the lights going out, but not the wrath of God. For as you remember, we are not destined for wrath.

Four simple words with great promise. Is it ever possible to resolve the timing conflict between those in the pretribulational rapture camp and those in the prewrath camp? All agree we are not destined for wrath. The disagreement comes on defining what God’s wrath looks like. If God’s wrath is experienced through natural disasters and manmade suffering as a result of sin, then we must be destined for wrath and Paul’s encouraging words were empty and baseless. But if God’s wrath is supernatural – can you even imagine what hail and fire mixed with blood looks like? – if His wrath includes supernatural events which the world has never seen before, then we can confidently say that the wrath of God begins after the sign of the sun, moon and stars being darkened, and the church being gathered by the angels, at the start of the great and terrible Day of the Lord. A comparison of Jesus’ teaching (Matthew 24, Luke 21), Paul’s comforting words (I Thessalonians 4,5) and the order of the seals, trumpets and bowl judgments (Revelation 8, 9 and 16) gives a concise picture of the truth of those four simple words.

Rest assured, dear friends, God’s word is true and we are not destined for wrath. We may be destined for difficulty, persecution and suffering, but in comparison to the wrath of God, these things will seem like momentary, light afflictions.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

"We are so not!"

Chapters 38 and 39 of Job are a couple of my favorite chapters in Scripture. (John 17, Romans 8, and Ephesians 1 are a few of the others.  Perhaps I will blog about them sometime too.)  Job 38 and 39 show us just how big, mighty, awesome, and wise God is and (I like your thoughts that come next from your recent post Kristen) how we are not.  These are two fantastic chapters to immerse yourself in, to keep the proper perspective on just how great and powerful God is and how we are so...not.   The Lord asks Job a series of questions which begin with the wording,  "Can you..?"  "Have you...?"  "Where were you...?"  If you want to enlarge your view of God, Job 38 and 39 is a great place to start! 

I always get excited when I see a reference to the day of the Lord.  I see one in Job 38.  In verses twenty-two and twenty-three, God asks this question to Job, "Have you entered the storehouses of snow, or have you seen the storehouses of hail, which I have reserved for the time of distress, for the day of war and battle?"

In Revelation 8:7, when the first trumpet sounds, hail and fire mixed with blood is thrown down to the earth and a third of the earth is burned up, and a third of the trees and all the green grass is burned up.

In Revelation 16:17.21, when the last or seventh bowl is poured out, one hundred pound hailstones come down from heaven.  One hundred pounds!  According to National Geographic News, the largest hailstone ever recorded in U.S. history fell from the sky in June of 2003 and landed in south-central Nebraska.  It was seven inches in diameter (roughly the size of a soccer ball!) and had a circumference of 18.75 inches.  The third largest hailstone ever recorded was believed to be one that fell in Potter, Nebraska, in 1928.  It had a diameter of seven inches and get this, weighed only 1.5 pounds.  How massively huge is a one hundred pound hailstone going to be?!   

During the day of the Lord, God is going to display to mankind just how great and mighty and powerful He is, and how mankind is not.  It is going to be a terrifying time, a time of distress.  Isaiah says "enter the rock and hide in the dust from the terror of the Lord and from the splendor of His majesty."  Isaiah also says that during that time that the proud look of man will be abased and the loftiness of man will be humbled and the Lord alone will be exalted.  (Isaiah 2:10,11)  He is going to pour out His wrath on the earth because of the sinfulness of man and one of those supernatural judgments is going to be one hundred pound hailstones.

How thankful I am that John recorded seeing the church before the throne of God, delivered out of the great tribulation but prior to these terrifying events that will take place on the earth.  We are told we are not destined for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.  (1 Th. 5:9)  The church, God's elect from every nation, clothed in white robes and with palm branches in their hands, will be crying out with a loud voice before the throne and before the Lamb,  "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb"...before the sounding of that first trumpet.  (Revelation 7:9,10; 8:7)

He is so mighty and powerful and we are so not!

Psalm 2:1-5 - "Why are the nations in an uproar, and the peoples devising a vain thing?  The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed:  "Let us tear their fetters apart, and cast away their cords from us!"  He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them.  Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury..."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Final Thoughts on Psalm 19

If you are like me you don't like to leave things unfinished so here are my final thoughts on Psalm 19...
  • God's word is our greatest possession - "more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold."
  • God's word is our greatest pleasure - "sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honey comb."
  • God's word is our greatest protection - "by them Thy servant is warned."
  • God's word is our greatest provider - "in keeping them there is great reward."
God's creation and His word is the twofold testimony of His glory.  When our eyes are opened by creation and His word, when we are truly confronted with a glorious and holy God, like David, we are moved to acknowledge that we are sinners.  In verse twelve David asks the question, "Who can discern his errors?"  On our own we will never see our sinfulness.  David is moved to prayer by the combination of the revelation of God in creation and His word.  He then asks the Lord to pardon him for the sins that sneak up on him, his hidden faults.  We are all guilty of hidden faults, those things we say or do and then afterward realize it wasn't pleasing to the Lord.  We didn't plan on doing it and we hated it as soon as we recognized it.  David is asking to be pardoned for those kinds of sins.  And then he requests power over presumptuous sins, those sins where we just don't care, we know we are committing them and we just presume upon God's grace, sins in which we partake of with our eyes wide open without caring what God thinks.  Horrible isn't it?  Yet, we are all guilty.  We need to constantly rely on God's power to conquer this tendency of the flesh.  Hidden sins will always sneak up on us but we can gain victory over presumptuous sins, with vigilance over our thought life.  We are given the power over presumptuous sins through the Holy Spirit.

David ends the Psalm by asking that his words and thoughts be acceptable to God.  If we immerse ourselves in our greatest possession, God's word, then it will be God's word that will be on our lips and in our minds and what we say and what we think will be pleasing to the Lord.

How beneficial and important it is to be in the precious treasure of God's word!  

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

For You Gals - 7

I know, I know.  I said no more until January.  But here is a post that you must read.  It'll make you smile!

Happiness and Joy

I've been thinking about happiness and joy.  Josh Tovey, youth pastor at Harvest Bible Chapel, said in his message last Sunday that happiness is based on happenings or circumstances.  On the same morning he said that, our pastor told us just before we began our worship in music that four Lakewood police officers had been killed.  My husband and I live within 25 miles from where this occurred.  One of our congregants is a Pierce County Sheriff and works closely with the Lakewood Police Department.  My heart dropped at the announcement.  He probably knew all of the officers.  I began to think of the families and how they'd feel once they received the news.  If they were happy when the chaplain reached their doorstop, their happiness would immediately turn to mourning, based on their happenings or their circumstances.

Joy, on the other hand, is based on a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Joy is based on knowing the Lord Jesus Christ.  We can't have true joy unless we know Him.  I don't know if any of the family members of the slain officers are believers.  If they are, they have the ability to have joy, even in the midst of their circumstances, by keeping their minds on the Savior.

Three summers ago my mom, dad, and sister drove up from California for a quick visit and then my mom and dad were going to go on an Alaska cruise.  Just a few days into the cruise we received a phone call that Dad had had a heart attack on the ship.  They were close to Juneau and once they docked they would medivac Dad and my mom to Seattle.  He was in a coma and on life support.  There were tears here in Washington and in California where the rest of the family anxiously waited for more news.  My husband drove me and my sister up to Seattle.  My mom collapsed into my arms.  More tears.  The doctor told us Dad's kidneys had stopped functioning.  We were told he would never regain consciousness.  We needed to decide whether or not to keep him on life support.  My pastor came up and spent some time with us and prayed with us.  We made the decision to remove Dad from life support.  All the while my thoughts were on this...soon, Dad would be in the presence of the Lord.  How wonderful.  I had joy in my heart knowing this.  Within 24 hours after taking Dad off life support, he experienced the greatest day of his life.  He met the Lord Jesus face to face.  The family grieved with our loss here on this earth but mingled with our tears was joy knowing Dad was with the Savior.

While we were in California for Dad's memorial service, we received a call that our pastor's son-in-law had been shot and killed in Iraq.  I was really jarred this time, thinking of Hannah and the grief she was experiencing at the news of her husband.  She had had an army chaplain at her doorstep at 6 that morning.  I also thought of all of my pastor's family, and Gabe's family.  My daughter is one of Hannah's closest friends.  Tears yet again as we put Annie on a plane so she could be with Hannah.  Yet through the tears I had the same, joyful thought, Gabe has seen the Lord Jesus face to face.     

As the time draws closer to the return of Christ, we are going to hear more news like we received Sunday morning.  We live in a fallen world.  The Lord told us that before His return it will be like the days of Noah.  (Matthew 24:37)  In Genesis 6:5 the LORD saw at that time that the wickedness of man was great on the earth and every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  God's elect are going to be hearing and most likely seeing time and time again of the death of a beloved saint.  Jesus said the persecution against His elect is going to be the greatest the earth has ever seen.  Each and every death will be precious to the Lord.     

Happiness is based on our circumstances.  Happiness waxes and wanes.  Joy can remain if we set our eyes, thoughts, and hearts continually on the Lord in the midst of our circumstances, no matter how bad they may get.  He came two thousand years ago and became sin for us.  He's the Wonderful Counselor.  He understands our struggles.  He's the Mighty God.  He intercedes for us.  He's the Everlasting Father.  He's coming again.  He's the Prince of Peace and when He returns He will set things right in this sin-encrusted world.  His reign during His millennial kingdom will be majestic and glorious.  He is sovereign and rules over all now.  In that we can take great comfort, in Him we can take great joy, always.