The Days of Noah

The other evening my husband and I were clicking through the channels on the television looking for something to watch. We happened to scroll by the local news and it had a special report on. Locally the hospitals are full, and they were asking people to wear masks and be careful to social distance. We kept it on for a few minutes and listened as one of the hospital administrators was describing what it was like in the hospital. He talked about expanding the morgue because they needed the space for more bodies. It was a pretty bleak picture.

The next day we went to the store. We expected that there would be lots of people wearing masks and following the directions given on the news. Surprise, surprise, it was not so. Hardly anyone was wearing a mask and at one store, even the checkers were not wearing masks.

So we get in the car and I say to my husband, “What gives? Am I living in an alternate reality? Is what the man said on television true or not?” He didn’t have an answer but as we drove home and I looked around, I thought, “These are like the days of Noah.”

You see, when Noah was building his ark, he was preaching to the people about the coming flood. He was warning them but they were not listening. It was as if he wasn’t speaking at all. Jesus described it this way, “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24: 37-39

Most people have heard about the Lord’s return. They have been warned that they should get ready, but they are not paying attention; they are not listening. They have heard about it so much that they have grown dull of hearing. They are going about their business as usual, either unaware or unconcerned that in fact there will come a day of reckoning with the Lord.

Are you like that? Am I? Do we think that just because it happened yet, that it will not happen at all? Have we even become so hardened to the message that we have become scoffers? The apostle Peter talked about a time when men would be come like that: “knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3: 3-4

It’s easy to hear a warning and ignore it. It’s easy to ignore something we have heard over and over again and think, “Not going to happen to me. Probably not going to happen at all.” Let’s not be like those during the days of Noah. Let’s be ready for the Lord’s return.

Image by Hany Alashkur. Courtesy of Pixabay

Groaning

Have you ever been in the delivery room and heard someone groaning in the next room? You know when that happens, the person is in pain. They are suffering and laboring to deliver a baby.

Likewise, we look around the Earth and we see earthquakes, volcanoes, fires, floods, hurricanes, typhoons. So many of these occurrences are setting records for frequency and intensity. Let’s face it, the Earth is groaning.

When God created the Earth, it was perfect. The Scripture says, “Then God saw everything He had made, and indeed it was very good.” Genesis 1: 31 The Lord placed man in a garden and it was a beautiful wonderful place to live. The Earth was in balance and man was in balance with nature. There was no sin, death or decay in the world.

Eventually, man sinned and everything changed. Sin brought death into the world. The beautiful creation suddenly lost its perfection. God said to Adam, “Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field.” Genesis 3: 17-18

Man became more wicked and sinful and eventually the Lord decided to destroy the Earth with a flood. He sent rain upon the Earth for forty days and all life was destroyed on the Earth. One family (eight persons) was saved in an ark. When the water receded and they came out of the ark, God again spoke to a man, Noah, about the earth. “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and all the fish in the sea. They are given into your hand.” Genesis 9:2

Fast forward several thousand years. Again, like I said, the Earth is groaning. We see signs of it everywhere. Is this caused by Climate Change or Global Warming? Is this just a matter of too many greenhouse gases in the atmosphere? Hardly. The Scripture explains to us what is happening. “for the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. FOR WE KNOW THAT THE WHOLE CREATION GROANS AND LABORS WITH BIRTH PAINGS TOGETHER UNTIL NOW.” Romans 8: 19-22

That’s right. The Earth is groaning, awaiting the time that it will be renewed and restored as it was in the beginning when God created it. It will be beautiful, balanced and all creation will be in line with the perfect will of God. The Lord will return to the Earth and set things right. Let’s look at what it will be like at that time:

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like an ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.Isaiah 11: 6-9

So the next time you take a good look at the Earth and start reading the stats about the frequency and intensity of earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, floods, and fires; don’t start wringing your hands and wondering what we can do. The Earth is speaking to us. It is in labor and we are past the first stage. We may be in transition or moving towards the final stage of labor, delivery. It’s groaning alright. Can you hear it?

Image by Wikilmages. Courtesy of Pixabay

The Last Call

Have you ever taken a train trip before? When you are in the station, you wait for your train to be called so that you can board. After it has been announced a few times, then you hear, “Last call for Train #35 going to Torino.” That last call means that if you are in the station, you have a very short time to get on board before the train leaves. There will be no other notice that the train is leaving. You will hear the air brakes release and then the wheels begin to roll. If you are not on board, it leaves without you.

I look around at our world today and I believe we are hearing “The Last Call.” Everywhere I look there is violence, war, pestilence, plagues (including Covid), and disintegration of societies. I do not see our world moving in a positive direction. I cannot imagine that man, after all he has done to mess up this world, is going to make it a better place. Those that believe that man is capable of creating “an ideal society” are sorely disillusioned. Believe me, if man could have done it, it would have happened a long time ago.

Jesus talked about a time like this on the earth. He said, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.” Luke 21: 10-11.

Surely, anyone who is listening and looking around can hear the announcement: “We are nearing the end of the age as we know it. It is time to answer the call. Jesus is coming soon for his people. Turn to Him before it is too late.”

Have you heard the call? Are you just waiting for another and then another announcement, unaware that soon there will be no more and it will be too late to get on board? I hope not because surely what comes next is not going to be pleasant and no one wants to be around for the final act.

“For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say ‘peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman and they shall not escape.” 1 Thessalonians 5: 2-3

Please, I beg you, answer the call before it is too late!

Are You Instrument Rated?

A few weeks ago, we were sitting at lunch with a newly licensed pilot. He was sharing an experience that happened to him several days before. The valley we live in has been socked in with smoke from forest fires for about a month. Sometimes the smoke is heavy and the visibility is almost nil. He decided to take his plane up because the control tower told him he had six miles of visibility. It seemed like that would work for him since he wasn’t Instrument Rated. He and his wife flew around for a while and then decided to return to the airport. As they were coming into the valley, they couldn’t see the airport. It was socked-in with smoke from the forest fires. Because he wasn’t Instrument Rated, he could not get his bearings. He sent a distress call to the tower and waited for instructions. After what seemed like an eternity (which was probably only several seconds), he received the heading that brought him in line with the airport. Within a short time, he could see the airport and was able to land safely. After he landed, he decided to not go up again in those conditions until he was Instrument Rated.

On the way home from lunch, I thought to myself, “What a fitting metaphor for life.” Many times we get in situations where we cannot see our way ahead clearly. At that point, we must rely on information we have gathered to keep us moving forward in the right direction. What happens to us though, if we don’t have sufficient information to keep us on course (like the pilot who was not instrument rated)? We can crash and burn if we aren’t able to get our bearings.

So how do we get Instrument Rated for life? First, we must find a source of information that is timeless, eternal and true. For me, that source is the Bible. I know that no matter what happens to me, I can rely on God and His word to get me through it. The Bible describes what God is like in hundreds of verses and gives us His promises to help keep us grounded and get us to our destination safely.

For instance, His word tells us that God is love (1 John 4:16)) We can be assured that a loving God will be there to help us no matter what comes our way. It also tells us that He is a merciful God and that His mercies are new every morning. (Lam. 3:22-23) We can rest assured that He will give us mercy in the midst of our difficulties. It tells us that all things will work out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) We can trust Him no matter what happens, knowing that He is working our situation out for our benefit. And then there are the coordinates for zero visibility: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6. They will take you home every time.

Think about the last time you were in a difficult situation when you couldn’t see your way clearly through it…how did you react? What did you rely on to help you navigate in the midst of the problem? Were you Instrument Rated or did you crash and burn? There is a way to get Instrument Rated for Life. We can check out the Bible and see what bearings we can get from the Ultimate Control Tower. Better to do it sooner than later when we find ourselves flying blind in the midst of another difficult situation!

Image by LimatMD Anf. Courtesy of Pixabay

Say the Word

Every few weeks, my older brother calls. We talk about several subjects and then the conversation moves to the topic he spends the most time on, the breakdown of civil society. He is a businessman and constantly dealing with people. He cannot believe the way people behave. He decries the corporate greed, the stealing that goes on and the inhumane way people treat each other.

Mind you, I am not talking to any right-wing conservative. He is a far-left leaning liberal who cannot comprehend the moral breakdown in today’s society. It is a rare day if he mentions the word “God” and I have no idea what his religious beliefs are.

I, in turn, answer him pretty much the same way, phone call after phone call. “We, as a society, have lost our moral compass.” In previous centuries, most of western society have based their laws and public morals on the Judeo-Christian ethic, i.e. a belief that some behaviors are wrong. Lying, stealing, adultery, usury and sexual perversion are examples to name a few.

Since our society decided to cast off a belief in God, then of course, His word and the values that are attached to it have lost their significance. Behaviors that were once considered morally wrong have now been accepted. Not only are they accepted, they are now flaunted. Relativism has taken hold, and all behaviors are judged relative to the situation they happen in. Situational ethics is the term used now to describe this phenomenon.

Take stealing for example, it was once considered wrong. Now, corporations can charge astronomical prices for goods and it is an accepted practice. Credit card companies can charge exorbitant interest fees and it is legal. Individuals feel free to walk into stores and steal as much as they can get away with and feel no sense of guilt or shame.

You know we have reached a tipping point when universities have to teach classes in ethics in various disciplines because students have no idea what right or wrong is anymore.

There is a word that is no longer used in today’s society. It is a moral term: sin. Sin is defined as: “an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law. Oxford Languages.

And really, why would we use the term anymore? If as a society we no longer believe that there is a divine law, then there can be no moral transgression against it. However, just because that moral law is no longer accepted as a societal norm, does not mean that it does not exist.

There is a God, a divine moral law, and consequences for breaking that law. Look around you. We are watching those consequences manifest themselves in practically every arena in society. If we want to describe this breakdown in a moral context, we must say the word sin, for it most certainly is the best way to describe what is happening. Sin against self, sin against others and most of all sin against God.

Where the Bodies Are Buried

Have you ever started a new job and the person taking you around said, “Let me show you where all the bodies are buried.”? You know that what they mean is, “Here’s where the dead files are” or “Here is where the office secrets are kept.” In the case of the lab where I worked in my early twenties, there really was a place where the bodies were (down the hall and to the right).

When you travel to various cities, they also have places where the bodies are buried. Some have beautiful cemeteries and others have famous catacombs such as Rome and Paris. Those places can be quite eerie to walk through but that is literally where the bodies are buried.

When it comes to matters of religion, many religions can point to where the body of their leader is buried. Other sects that began in the distant past can only imagine where the body of their founder may be.

But for Christians, we cannot show you a place where the body of Jesus is buried. You see, He is not laying in any grave on this earth. He died and three days later he arose from the dead. This is a documented historical fact. When the women came to take care of his body after he had died, an angel said, “He is not here, He is risen.”

We can, however, show you where the bodies of certain saints are buried and where we believe others have been interred, but The Body…No. So the next time someone says to you, “Let me show you where the bodies are buried,” remember Jesus, the One Person who cannot be found in a grave and take hope.

Image by Pete Linforth. Courtesy of Pixabay.

No Substitutes

Have you ever made a recipe and it said, “No substitutes?” Then you know that you have to have the real “thing” or ingredient to make the dish come out right. It’s that way with life, there really are “no substitutes” for having Jesus in your life.

Recently, I have been going through a difficult experience. If it wasn’t for the Lord, I don’t think I would have made it through. What about you? Are you going through a difficult experience? What are you relying on to make it through…drugs, alcohol, or something else to help you cope? If so, why not give Jesus a try? Just call out to Him and He will be there to help you!

He is The Good Shepherd – “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.John 10:11

What more can you ask for? God Incarnate became a man who came to earth to lay down his life for all of us. He will always be there to provide for you, to lead and guide you, to heal and help you and to see you safely home.

In whatever situation you are going through, there is Someone who is waiting to walk through it with you; to help you in a way that no other person can. He will be with you every second of every minute of every hour of every day.

HE is there beside you, waiting to be asked into your difficult situation so that HE can be your provision. Why not give HIM a try? There really are no other substitutes for HIM and the help HE can give you!

Image by Jeff Jacobs. Courtesy of Pixabay.

Success vs. Impact

As writers, we tend to judge our writing by the markers of success. We check the likes and comments on our blog posts. As authors, we check our reviews and the numbers of copies we sell. It is normal to look for success in our endeavors, but is that the only measure of their success or worth? What about their impact?

I have read hundreds of books in my lifetime, but the ones that made an impact on me are in a separate category. I love to be entertained by a good historical fiction book and an informative non-fiction book is always welcome but how many have made a significant impact on my life?

“IMPACT – TO HAVE A STRONG EFFECT ON SOMEONE OR SOMETHING.” Oxford Languages

When I think about the books (other than the Bible) that have impacted me in my life, I think about those I read as a teenager. First and foremost was “On the Beach” by Nevil Shute. It gave me an abhorrence for the thought of all-out nuclear war. “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran was a lovely book of poetry and prose that spoke to my soul. And of course, “1984” and “Animal Farm” showed me about the abuses of totalitarianism. Then there were those that spoke to me as an adult. “Hinds feet on High Places” by Hannah Hurnard taught me about the difficulty of the Christian journey and the faithfulness of Christ. The Zion Covenant series by Brock and Bodie Thoene taught me about the personal costs of World War II. “The Crucifixion of Ministry” by Andrew Purves is teaching me again (as I read it the third time) about laying down “my agenda” and letting Christ work in and through me.

Impact in writing is not always about a book though. Articles in magazines have impacted me at just the right time when I needed help or information on a subject. And blogs, how many times have blog posts spoken to me and encouraged me? One blogger that always informs and educates me is Jack Parquette who writes the “Quo Vadis” blog. I have laughed at his wry sense of humor and been enlightened by his historical view on many of the issues we are dealing with today.

Remember, there is more to writing than the fleeting markers of success, there is the possibility of making a real impact on someone’s life.

Think about those writers, books or bloggers that have made a significant impact on your life. In the comment section below, please share some of them with us.

Image by Rony Michaud. Courtesy of Pixabay.

Emperor Worship

As we know, many of the Roman Emperors wanted to be considered gods during the time they lived. Julius Caesar was declared a god upon his death, while Augustus allowed people in Asia to build temples to him while he was still living. Emperor worship began with the first two emperors of the Roman Empire. Many times, in order to show your loyalty to the state, a person was required to take a pinch of incense and offer it to a statue of whichever emperor was in power.

I doubt if many of the populace believed their monarchs were gods, and surely those closest to them realized their frailty but emperor worship continued on until the reign of Constantine in the fourth century. We look back and know for certain that those men were not gods and we think of it as part of an earlier time in history but emperor worship still continues today.

As we look around the world, we see that there are leaders who wish to be deified and demand worship from the people in their society. We just shake our heads as we watch the populace treat their leader like a god, and yet…

Look at the way some treat our recent presidents. Donald Trump certainly has a cult following. Those in his cult believe him to be a savior of this country and are willing to believe an outlandish narrative that has him returning to office this August. As with previous leaders, those closest to him know his frailties and have no illusions about him being a god or a savior of the union.

Lest we look down our noses at Trump’s cult following, we know that Obama had those that believed he was some sort of a god or savior not only of the nation but also of the world. Before he was elected president, he could garner crowds in the thousands in other countries and I believe his cult following continues to this day, hoping that someday he will return to power.

We might think that the people who regard our leaders in such a high capacity have not a belief in any form of religion and so accept these men as their gods or saviors, but that is not true. Many are believers in God but somehow He seems to have been replaced in their thinking by these mortal men.

Why is this important? Because if we believe that any man can save this country or the world instead of the one true God, we have opened ourselves up to a huge deception and we will more easily fall for The Great Deception that is coming on the world. The Bible speaks of a man that will come on the scene who will want to be worshiped as God. In fact, he will demand it and those who will not worship him will be killed. (Revelation 13:11-17)

What is the first step in this false worship? It is looking to another human being as a savior of our country or our world. We need to ask ourselves if we have put any politician on a pedestal in our minds. Do we think that a person can save us from ruin? If so, we better put him back on terra firma where he belongs. If we don’t, we will be part of a modern day version of emperor worship, whether we know it or not.

Photo by Michael Cullers, taken in Ravenna, Italy.

THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING

AGIA PARASKEVI

Written by Vladimir Moss

John Huston’s film “The Man Who Would Be King” (1975), based on the novella by Rudyard Kipling, has much to teach us about our holy faith…

Two rebel soldiers from the British army, Daniel Dravot (played by Sean Connery) and Peachy Camehan (Michael Caine) seek adventure in an expedition to Kifiristan, somewhere beyond the Khyber Pass. By making themselves indispensable to the villagers, and accomplishing some pseudo-miracles, one of them, Dravot, is acclaimed as king. Moreover, when he is brought to the high priest of the region, who sees a Masonic amulet around his neck, he is acclaimed as a god and the long-expected successor of Alexander the Great (who considered himself the son of Zeus). At first, this new “god” does good to his worshippers, settling their disputes and leading them to undertake useful projects, while becoming very rich himself. When the snows melt, Camehan…

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