Sunday, January 06, 2019

How Apathy Can Destroy Your Relationship With God

I am a prime example of how apathy can destroy the relationship between a born again believer in Christ, and God. I've spent the good part of 5 years becoming more and more apathetic toward my relationship with God and it shows in how my life has changed in just a matter of a few short years. 

As a Christian, apathy is very dangerous because it could potentially destroy your relationship with God. I can tell you first hand that it leads to the shutting down of your emotions. You can be enthusiastic about many areas of your life, but you can also feel apathetic towards those things in your life that you no longer feel you have the strength to deal with. It could be a marriage that's failing or a job you no longer enjoy. It could be a social justice you just can't fight for any more or a video game you've played to death. Apathy doesn't allow you to care enough to even make an effort to salvage that thing which was once so vitally important to you, but now just seems like more of a bother than anything else. Apathy takes the fight out of you. It destroys desire. There's no passion or excitement or concern about what you may have once found to be indispensable. Anything can trigger this apathetic feeling. We've all had times when we've thrown our hands in the air and walked away from something, exasperated. But apathy takes it one step further. Sometimes, as in my case, you just switch off your emotions so you don't have to deal with the pain and grief. The best way I can describe it is to ask you to imagine what depression is, and then take one step backwards. That's apathy. You.just.don't.care.

I was always the believer who pressed onward, always trying to live my life to please God and always striving to reach perfection, always running the good race. I read and studied the word, and I wrote plenty of articles for this web site. The Lord worked through me to create a ministry (Tribulation Harvest) and create evangelistic tools to spread His word. I wore Christian apparel and didn't shy away from confessing that I was a Christian if someone asked me. I went to Bible study and attended weekly services. Even when I lost my job and ended up homeless and on the streets, my faith was strong, in fact it grew stronger through that trial! So what happened?

My growth and maturity in the Lord had exceeded my expectations and there was nowhere to go but up, or so I thought. What I perceived to be a lack of desire on the part of other believers to grow in spiritual maturity and commitment to serving the Lord began to grate on me. I judged their actions to be a reflection of their relationship with God, and although I'm not saying that judgment was in error, what I should have done was love them enough to remain part of the body and set an example in areas where I was strong. I am ashamed to say that I did the exact opposite. I allowed their behavior to affect me to the point where I felt it was best for me if I left the church. I felt it was the only way to protect myself from being overwhelmed with the grief I experienced when I realized how worldly the majority of the church was behaving. I felt that they were were more interested in their own small lives than they were in being active members in the body. They were more interested in what they were going to do after church than they were about actually praising and worshiping God while they were here at church. My assessment was that they desired to live their own lives in their own way instead of drawing closer to Jesus every day in order to become less like themselves and more like Him.

By attempting to solve my predicament by consciously extricating myself from the body of Christ, I erred, so everything else that followed just exacerbated my circumstances, making it more and more difficult to maintain my relationship with God. I had judged my brothers and sisters as being more concerned with their lives than what God wanted for them, but what I didn't realize at the time was that I was doing the same thing by choosing to leave the church rather than to stay and allow God to work through me to make some changes. I was being hypocritical by focusing on my own small life.

After I left that church, I opted to attend a home church that was being organized by some friends of mine who were all family members. I was usually their only attendee. They were friends of mine, and although things went well at first, things began to deteriorate. Soon, family issues cropped up that affected our gatherings on Sundays, and eventually I left the group.

Now I was alone. I began neglecting my reading and prayer time. Eventually, the neglect became a habit. That habit quickly turned into total apathy toward my relationship with God. I still had my faith, but apathy had sunk in to the point where I felt no ambition or motivation to work on my relationship with God or even think of dealing with other so-called Christians. I thanked God for every meal I had in front of me, I prayed for the occasional need, but that's not even close to the relationship that I once had with Him. I came to realize later that when I cut myself off from the body of believers, I cut myself off from God as well. I know now that I can't terminate my relationship with the body and not expect it to adversely affect my relationship with the One who dwells inside each of them. Apathy, and my anemic relationship with God, opened me up to the enemy's attacks which preyed upon the desires of my flesh. It was then that I fell into great sin. 

Although my wife and I have been separated for over 23 years and she lives half way across the country, we never officially divorced each other, so I consider myself still married to some extent. That came into play when I began participating in adultery. Me... an adulterer... who would have even thought it could happen? It would have shocked many of my friends who never would have suspected that I would have done such a thing. Of course, what I did was far worse than just adultery. These occasional trysts were with someone of the same sex. The fact that a certain yearning that I had been able to keep under control for most of my life had suddenly had the opportunity of being fulfilled became more important to me than the desire to serve God.

Fast forward about three years, which included the occasional trysts with a few more individuals, and I found myself asking God what was wrong with me. Why wasn't I freaking out over the fact that I had trashed my relationship with Him? Why, instead of freaking out one day when I felt what I assumed was His presence physically leave, did I immediately turn my focus on planning my next sexual conquest instead of dealing with the huge warning that I had just received? That's true apathy.

I wish I could say that this was all in the past and that everything turned out well. I wish I could say that, but I'm just now getting back on the wagon. I'm just now making the effort to get out of bed and get ready for the day and put God first in my life. I'm still fighting apathy. I'm still fighting those old feelings of not wanting to pray or read. I'm still fighting the desire to just sit back and play video games or watch YouTube videos to fill my time. 

Part of me doesn't want to have to put the effort into living my life for the Lord any more. It's like I want to be able to coast the rest of the way...take my foot off the pedal and just coast over the finish line and still receive the prize. I've been coasting for the past few years, and my flesh is used to it. I've grown lazy and don't want to make the effort. My flesh wants to sit out for the rest of the race and just wait for it to end, but I know that if I don't put the effort in now, everything that the Lord has done through me and for me, and all the effort I've put into my Christian walk in the past, will all be for nothing, as far as my eternity with Him is concerned. 

LordsBook.org
So, I'm now at the point where I have started rejoining the church body. I've joined a few Christian social media sites, like Lord'sBook, and I'm now conversing and sharing the word of God with other born again believers. I'm even providing the occasional counseling to a brother online. I sense those once familiar feelings of self-worth, and accomplishment, that can only come from serving the Lord, but I have a long way to go. It would be too easy to fall back into my old apathetic behavior, which is why I have to make a conscious effort to remind myself that I need to work at being an active member of the body of Christ every day and to ask God for His assistance to continually put more and more distance between me and the the behaviors that define what apathy is in my Christian's walk.

I could have written a polished and self-aggrandizing blog where I portrayed myself as the perfect born again believer, but that would have been a fabrication. Honestly, I'm just a guy who hit a major stumbling block in my life and fell hard. I'm so thankful that the Lord didn't decide to take me out before I was able to reach the other end of the tunnel. I don't want my name blotted out of the Book of Life. I want to spend eternity serving the One True Living God. I've never even thought twice of completely abandoning Him like some others who have backslid in a major way (they sorely need our prayers). I thank God that He has seen something in me that I cannot see in myself... that there is some worth in holding on to me and seeing me through this difficult time. I know that when Jesus says, "Well done, My good and faithful servant," I'll be bowing before Him in total humility because I've done nothing to warrant my entrance into His Kingdom. It's only by His grace, His love, His forgiveness, and His sacrifice that I am able to stand before Him now and in the future. 

Even at this moment, I'm humbled by His love, mercy, and forgiveness. I am thankful beyond words for His intercession for me as my High Priest. I have done so much these past few years that warrant His rejection of me, and although He's let me go my way, He still set boundaries of which He worked diligently to keep me inside. There were many times... many times... when he put up roadblocks in order to steer me clear of the multitude of adulterous affairs that I could have experienced if He wasn't there to prevent them from happening. I know that's what occurred because I could see it in real time as it was happening, or I could reflect upon situations later and see God's hand all over those situations. 

Apathy in the church is dangerous. It quenches the desire to serve God. It quenches the love we have for God. It allows the enemy to walk in unimpeded, to set up shop, and get the ball rolling on his plan to destroy our lives, both physically and spiritually. Apathy is a weapon the enemy uses to disarm us and to relegate us to the compromised Christian section of the church. 

Don't let the enemy kill your relationship with God by destroying your enthusiasm for serving Him. Don't let him drive a wedge between you and your brothers and sisters in the Lord. If you're not reading every day and praying every day, the enemy has already found a way to push you a little further away from the Lord, and he'll keep doing it unless you make the effort to re-establish that day to day, moment to moment relationship with your Creator. 

I hope that this encourages someone out there who may be in the same situation as I have been. It takes a lot of effort to get back out there on the battlefield, but the end results are worth it. I have faith to know that this is true. I'm still slapping myself in the face, metaphorically speaking, to wake up and be a productive member of the body of Christ once again. I don't have anyone to encourage me through this difficult time, but I want to be there for you. If you're reading this and need someone to talk to, just hit me up. I'll be more than happy to talk with you about what you're experiencing and hopefully the Lord will give me the words to encourage you.

Matthew 24:12-13 "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved."

Don't let the enemy cause your love for God to turn cold. Get up! Fight! Endure to the end!

If you like this article, or any of the other information on this web site, please consider following me. You'll be one of the first to be notified when I create new content! You'll find the section at the top of the right hand column on this page. It says, "Follow Tribulation Harvest by Email." After entering your email address, you may be prompted to sign in to your Google account. Thank you!!!


Repent and be forgiven! Believe and be saved!
TribulationHarvest.net

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Unbelievers Waiting for the Rapture!

Believe it or not, it's true. Many unbelievers and haters of the Judaeo/Christian God of the bible concede that if the Rapture ended up being a real event, they'd be more than happy to see every single born again believer taken from the face of the earth. Many believe that born again believers are intolerant, sexist, immoral, homophobic, hateful, and judgmental. They equate Christianity with Hitler/Nazis, the KKK/white supremacy, and any other group out there past and present that they deem as hateful. It used to be, in the modern era, that born again believers were only persecuted in countries like China, North Korea, the Middle East and in other areas of the world where anti-Christian sentiment had a strong hold. Now Christians in free western countries like England and the United States are being persecuted. Sure, it hasn't reached the point where it has in other anti-Christian nations, but it's not a huge leap from suing the owner of a bakery or print shop because they won't produce a product that glorifies lifestyles that are contrary to Christian beliefs, or putting a street preacher in jail, to actually physically hunting down Christians. 

Sooner or later, persecution like we see it in other parts of the world will rear it's ugly head in the western world, bringing with it physical torture and death. Just look at how some of these individuals/groups treat supporters of President Donald Trump, many of who are born again believers. These individuals have had objects thrown at them, been spat upon, had their belongings ripped off of their body, been physically assaulted, been harassed to the point where they are forced to leave an establishment they're doing business with, had their house surrounded, received threatening phone calls and messages on their social media accounts, been face to face with someone spewing hatred toward them, and had their livelihood ruined by frivolous lawsuits. Look at what continually happens to those who are peacefully trying to educate the population that abortion is the torture and death of a child. They are assaulted verbally and physically, they have their educational materials (posters, signs and pamphlets) defaced, destroyed and taken from them, and they are often the ones removed from the space in order to quell any hostilities.

It's not just the average citizen exhibiting these types of vengeful, fascist, and anti-Christ behavior. Unbelievably, many of our political leaders and educators are actually endorsing these types of behaviors by standing in front of these crowds and encouraging them to act this way, conditioning them to believe that by violent and confrontational behavior, they're acting both for the good of the country and for the good of the world as a whole. These crowds are encouraged to use violence and intimidation to force those who don't agree with their belief system to fall in line or to retreat and be silent. How easy is it going to be for the Antichrist to whip up this type of resentment towards born again believers when the world is in the midst of a strong delusion? People are already displaying this type of behavior, so it wouldn't take much to kick it up a notch and solely focus this abusive and criminal behavior toward the Christian community. What the Christian community is dealing with as a whole in this country and other free countries in the world, is like a walk on the beach compared to what's coming in the near future.

All of the prophecies in the word of God have come to pass, except those that are linked to the build up to the Rapture and everything that follows. Want proof that prophecy is still relevant? Look to Syria. There is a prophecy that states that Damascus is going to be so utterly devastated, that it will become a barren city. This prophecy has yet to be fulfilled.

Isaiah 17:1 "The burden against Damascus. "Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap."

You may scoff at what is written here, but I guarantee you that when this prophecy becomes reality, right in front of your eyes, you'll be scrambling to find this blog site again and read more about what's to come. Either that, or you'll explain it away as something other than prophecy. It doesn't matter, because biblical prophecy will have come to pass. You can either accept it as the fulfillment of biblical prophecy or you can try to convince yourself that there is a more logical, more humanistic excuse for why this prophesied event came to pass.

In the mean time, this article is about many unbelievers halfheartedly hoping that the Rapture is a real event so that they can be rid of Christians once and for all. They believe that life on this earth will be a paradise without Christians getting in their way. They believe they'll finally be living in utopia once all born again believers are gone and they can run the world as they believe it should be run. What they don't realize, is that there will be global devastation when the Rapture takes place, and the world will never be the same after that event. Not only will they need to deal with the aftermath of the Rapture, which you can read about here, but there will be unexpected consequences that occur after that event. What will they be?

One of them will be the unexpected resurgence of Christianity all over the world. Yes, what many unbelievers don't realize is that this event will trigger spiritual conversion in the hearts and minds of men and women worldwide. Those who drifted away from the faith, those who had been witnessed to and evangelized by other born again believers in the past, and those who will have their heart pricked when they hear the word of God preached by the 144,000 Messianic Jews who God will be sending out to evangelize the world... they will repent and be forgiven! They will believe believe and be saved! The world, thinking they've finally rid themselves of born again believers, will find themselves in the midst of millions upon millions of new born again believers. 

The other unexpected consequences will consist of the events awaiting everyone during the seven year Tribulation. Worldwide earthquakes, pestilence, famine, the sun turning black, the poisoning of all of the worlds fresh water supply. There is so much that the world will have to endure and you can read more about it here.

Unbelievers don't realize that they will be living through biblical history. They'll be living and breathing biblical prophecy. They either won't be aware of it because of the strong delusion that will encompass most of those living on the earth at that time, or they'll reject the notion outright and refuse to see the truth because it will be in conflict with everything they've ever believed. They will be convinced to accept the lies and reject the truth, just as many people today are convinced by celebrities, politicians, mainstream media, and the like, to accept what is spoon fed to them instead of seeking out the truth or finding out if there's more to the story. They will experience the sights and sounds of all that was prophesied, and a majority will die shaking their fist at God because they couldn't bring themselves to believe that they were wrong. They will refuse to submit to God, who they will see as evil, unloving, and unjust. 

Unbelievers should be hoping that the Rapture is a long way off or that it's a fairy tale because the reality of it isn't what they're hoping for. They're going to expect man-made heaven on earth, but what they're going to experience a little taste of hell on earth. 

If you're an unbeliever who is scoffing at this, remember that there's no guarantee for tomorrow, but if tomorrow does come, and another month and another year, and you are allowed to live long enough to witness the destruction of Damascus or live through the Rapture, then don't harden your heart. Stop and understand that there's little time left. The Tribulation lasts seven years, but there's no guarantee that you'll live through the entire Tribulation. In fact, three quarters of the earth's population will perish before the seven years is up. 

I encourage you to read the Salvation Message on this web site. Think about what's to come and understand that biblical prophecy is real, that God is real, that Jesus lived and died to pay for your sins and remove the stain of that sin from you in order to save YOU from eternity apart from Him. 

Those who wish Christians would disappear are living on borrowed time. Yes, God blesses them with every breath they take and causes their heart to beat again and again. He causes the sun to rise on their day just as the sun rises on ours. He loves us all and wishes that none of us would spend an eternity apart from Him. There will come a time, though, when that last breath is taken, when the heart beats for the last time, and when the sun no longer rises on another day. Then, and only then, when they take that first step into eternity, will they realize that there is another life after this one. By then, it will be too late to change anything. Which future have you chosen?

If you like this article, or any of the other information on this web site, please consider following me. You'll be one of the first to be notified when I create new content! You'll find the section at the top of the right hand column on this page. It says, "Follow Tribulation Harvest by Email." After entering your email address, you may be prompted to sign in to your Google account. Thank you!!!

Repent and be forgiven! Believe and be saved!
TribulationHarvest.net

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Re-Evaluating Our Christian Walk

There are times when we need to re-evaluate our lives as born again believers and make the changes necessary to strengthen our relationship with God.

I think this is a subject we can all relate to. There are times in our Christian lives when we need to stop, think about what we've done, where we are, and what we hope to accomplish in the future.

Knowing where we've been and reflecting on the road that has lead us to where we are now is a morale booster, but we can't live on past glories. The point to looking back is to check our progress and give us the opportunity to make any course corrections that are needed in order to continue moving forward. Of course, this needs to be done through prayer, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, and through the wisdom that the Lord has blessed us all with.

The older I get, the more I realize just how important it is to use my time wisely in order to accomplish what the Lord has sent me here to do. God sent me here, to this particular point in time, to complete specific tasks. As I get older and time grows short, I understand more that my time here on earth is valuable and I need to ask myself whether there needs to be a course correction. Am I accomplishing all that I can for the Lord?

I woke up from a dream a little while ago. In this dream I was helping a brother who had turned away from the church body. I felt the power of God flowing through me as I counseled him. I brought his plea before the pastor in order to create reconciliation between him and the person I was counseling. Long story short, I found myself begging with the the pastor to listen to reason. When I woke up from the dream, I understood even more how some of the decisions I have made in the past few years separated me from the church body and from the work that the Lord had planned for me to complete.

I began thinking of how many opportunities had been wasted apart from the body, and how much time had been used for other things, sin being chief among them. Although I've repented, I still find myself separated from the body of believers that I was born to be a part of. Phone apps, world news, social media sites, online videos... all of these things had taken the place of my relationships within the body of Christ.

I have come to terms with the fact that even though the structure of the modern day church doesn't reflect how the early church operated, I need to be okay with that because even in such a setting, God works through His body of believers. I don't agree with some of the traditions, but it's the best system we have in this modern age, and to abandon it wouldn't be wise. Yes, God has brought me full circle on this issue. 

Because of this, I believe it's my responsibility to work within this framework to complete the work that the Lord has for me. I'm currently seeking out a church body where I can be an active participant. I left a particular church body, and it wasn't a clean break, so going back to that particular church body will be difficult. Although, sometimes the most difficult choice is the one that brings the best results. Fortunately for me, I'll be approaching church participation from a different perspective this time around. 

Right now I have a fire in my heart that says I needs to move forward. I need to link arms with those brothers and sisters that are truly serious about their relationship with the Lord and who are in it for the long haul. We need to stand side by side at the front line, put our shields up and advance together, step by step, into the enemy's territory. We can't be looking back and patting ourselves on the back for the amount of territory we've taken. We just need to focus on what lies ahead and constantly move forward. There will be plenty of time to look back at the efforts we put in to the battle once the battle is over and we're home with the Lord.

The church has always been filled with social butterflies, chatterboxes, gossipers, the uncommitted, the "religious," etc... We won't ever find a church body where we won't find at least one or more of these types of individuals, but we can't let that divide us or stop us from encouraging one another. We can't let that stop us from fellowshiping with one another. We can't let that stop us from praising and worshiping God as a body. Whether we gather together in a church building, at someone's house, walking on the beach, driving in a car...wherever, we need to operate as one body in support of each other and encourage one another to continue the race, growing in wisdom, knowledge and understanding of God and His word. 

If going to "church" is too much for you right now, Christian social media is a start. You may want to think about joining a Christian social media site. For full disclosure, I'm a member of Lord'sBook and Jesus.Social. They're facebook-type web sites that have a lot of bells and whistles. You might want to check them out. If you do, please friend request me. Search for Ken Souza or souzak99. I have found them to be a pretty good place to start in entering back into fellowship.

I'm in the middle of re-evaluating my choices and the direction of my walk with the Lord right now. Join me and really commit to making some of the tough choices. Consider:

-Uninstalling unnecessary apps like games and other things that are time eaters.
-Limiting the amount of television or YouTube videos that you may be watching.
-Limiting your time on worldly social media, like facebook, Twitter, Snapchat,  Instagram, etc. (I deleted my accounts with facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and G+)
-Chatting or texting with your Christian friends about positive and spiritual things instead of spending time with worldly friends talking about worldly things.

These are just a few basic suggestions to get you to think about the things in your life that may be separating you from God instead of building up that relationship and drawing closer to Him. 

Consider whether the skills you have can be used to glorify God. If you're going to be using your skills to create a product, then why not use it to create something for God? The skills that the Lord has blessed me with have allowed me to create this blog site, tract cards, after rapture packets, booklets, a DVD, etc... I don't make any money off of any of it because I refuse to charge a fee for sharing the word of God. In fact, I've spent a lot of money on the after rapture packets and on keeping this blog site operational. That doesn't mean that every skill or craft has to be given away for free. As an example, I've been thinking of purchasing the equipment to create christian themed patches for clothing. I would sell those because I wouldn't be selling the word of God, which God has freely given to us and which we are to freely give to others.

Before I get too far off the subject, let me bring the discussion back around and say that just as we evaluate other things in our lives, our spiritual walk with the Lord deserves just as much attention. You may come to realize that the Lord has taken you in a totally unexpected direction, and that some of your choices now need to be re-evaluated. 

I pray that your walk with the Lord grows daily and that you will make an effort to draw closer to God so that He can fulfill His part of the promise and draw closer to you. May we all be more like Jesus every day, and may we all rejoice in His presence together on that great and glorious day when He returns to take us all home.

If you like this article, or any of the other information on this web site, please consider following me. You'll be one of the first to be notified when I create new content! You'll find the section at the top of the right hand column on this page. It says, "Follow Tribulation Harvest by Email." After entering your email address, you may be prompted to sign in to your Google account. Thank you!!!

Repent and be forgiven! Believe and be saved!
TribulationHarvest.net

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Christmas - Compromised Christianity?

Christmas is not a biblically sanctioned day of observance. Nowhere in the New Testament are there examples of born again believers celebrating the actual date of Jesus' birth, nor are there any commands from God about observing such a day. That is my shorthanded opinion on the subject. If you want to hear more, please continue reading.

In the Bible, there are God appointed feasts (appointed times) for His chosen people... Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Weeks, Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles. These all reflect the work of redemption through Jesus Christ. These seven feasts were appointed by God, giving specific instructions on how they should be observed, including the dates and times. These feasts, and only these feasts, were appointed by God as a way to foreshadow Yeshua. Nowhere in the New Testament did God appoint a day or time to celebrate the birth (or the death/resurrection for that matter) of our Savior.

Tradition and nostalgia can be powerful weapons in the hands of the enemy. They can cause us to ignore scriptural truths in our blind attempts at keeping tradition alive and to keep those powerful feelings of nostalgia stirring within us. I know how powerful nostalgia can be. It doesn't just involve reliving past memories, it involves the things that trigger those memories as well. A sound, a photo, a song, a decoration, food, or even a "remember when" moment, but especially an anniversary or holiday.

Unbeknownst to me, the Lord had been bringing me to a point where I would be receptive enough to have my perception of Christmas challengedIt occurred one winter, when I sat staring at my beautifully decorated tree. It was nighttime. The lights in the house were off and I was alone. The only source of light was the Christmas tree. The colors were beautiful and the single set of bubble lights that I had somehow managed to spread out evenly on the tree were bubbling away among the multitude of multicolored mini lights strung evenly top to bottom. I sat looking at the hand painted angels hanging here and there on the branches. The blue glass ornamental balls painted with scenes of the manger and the three wise men (I have an issue with the story of the three wise men as well as their supposed visit to the manger, but that's explained in another blog) reflected the lights as they hung on the tree as well. Since she passed away, the angel my mother used to have on the top of her Christmas tree has adorned mine. I was so glad that I had a "Christian" tree that didn't reflect "worldly" themes. It was then, in the quietness of the evening, in the midst of my silent thoughts, that everything changed.

Clarity of mind suddenly came to me. It was as if I had an epiphany. At that moment, I asked myself, "What am I doing?" I had known for a while that the act of putting up a tree was a pagan ritual that I probably wasn't supposed to be participating in, but it was a subconscious thought that I always brushed off every holiday season, and by avoiding that thought, I was able to put the tree up every year without any guilt. At this moment, though, I was beginning to understand that what I had standing before me was a compromise tree. What do I mean by that? Well, as you know, compromise is something we all do sometimes in an effort to convince ourselves that we're not doing anything wrong (consciously or subconsciously). We deceive ourselves and disguise something that we know to be wrong as something that is acceptable. It's how I used to treat Halloween so many years ago. I knew I shouldn't be participating in Halloween, but I compromised because I didn't want my children to feel excluded. I used to tell them that they could go trick-or-treating as long as they wore a costume that wasn't considered "evil." They dressed as Moses, an angel, funny freaky Frankenstein, the spirit of Christmas, etc... They were compromise costumes. I eventually ended that practice, but now here I was, going in the same direction with the Christmas holiday. I was compromising. I was putting Christian decorations on a pagan symbol as well as using other pagan symbols around my home to celebrate Christmas. I was trying to disguise a pagan holiday with Christian themes and attempting, in my own mind, to pass it off as a celebration of Christianity. 

I had never heard of Christians totally abandoning the practice of celebrating Christmas, but that didn't stop me from turning away from what I saw as a celebration of paganism. It was the last time I participated in Christmas. 

It was a while after that when I met a married couple online who felt the same way that I did. They revealed to me that there were many other born again believers who were being led to reject the Christmas holiday. There are plenty of videos and articles out there that explain the paganism surrounding Christmas and the symbols associated with this day, so I won't get in to all of that here, although I will ask you a question. Have you ever questioned where holly, wreaths, mistletoe, trees, lights, candles in windows and yule logs originated? You should educate yourself in the origins of some of these traditions and symbols.

My favorite saying when talking about holidays such as these, is that you can't take a pagan tradition, wrap it in a Jesus ribbon, and think that this makes it okay to participate in it. It just doesn't work that way.

Christians have been trying to convert Halloween into a more biblical friendly event. Why hasn't it been a success? Simple. Christianity and Halloween are incompatible. The symbols and traditions of Halloween are evil and the only way to combine them with Christianity is through compromise. You need to change the symbolism and traditions of Halloween and create a new narrative where they meet Christian expectations. This is exactly what happened with Christmas. To put it in more modern terms, paganism was rebooted and re-branded as Christmas. Pagan symbols were whitewashed and given new meaning in order to make the pagan symbolism more acceptable, while still keeping their original meaning to those pagans who continued to worship outside of Christianity. Christianity took pagan wreaths, mistletoe, yule logs, etc... and decided to brand them as "Christian" for the faithful, even though they knew that these things were pagan in origin. One thing is for sure...God doesn't recycle paganism. Paganism is anti-God. 

The way I see it, I can't participate in pagan traditions that have been dressed up to look like a Christian holiday, even if I claim that my celebration of these symbols is my expression of faith in God. We can put a Christian spin on pagan objects and traditions to try to make it our own, but why? Why are we spending so much time, energy and money on a holiday that God never required or encouraged us to celebrate, that the early church never participated in, and that has pagan roots? There were times in "church" history when they tried to expand through compromise, and it only weakened the church as a whole because these compromises have become nostalgic traditions that have been blindly accepted by the majority of believers. 

There is no day more important on the calendar than any other day when it comes to how we are to live our lives as born again believers. We don't need a day to remember Jesus' birth or resurrection, because we should be living our lives celebrating those moments daily, which is how I believe God meant it to be. How can we witness to others effectively if we don't have that sustaining joy and thankfulness of Jesus' birth and resurrection? 

Most born again believers are not ready to accept the fact that Christmas is a man-made holiday based on pagan symbols, traditions and celebrations. That's understandable. The important thing is to keep an open mind and to leave yourself open to the leading of the Holy Spirit on this matter. 

I'd be interested in knowing what your thoughts are on this subject. Please keep your comments civil and profanity free. All comments are reviewed by me before being posted. Any comments that do not meet these requirements will be deleted before even making it on to the blog. 

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REPENT AND BE FORGIVEN!
BELIEVE AND BE SAVED!

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Sunday, April 02, 2017

It's Okay To Preach To A Quiet Room

This is my advice to pastors... It's okay to preach to a quiet room. Many pastors think that they need to elicit a certain amount of energy and response from the congregation in order to deem their sermon a success. I'm here to tell you that this is not the case.

If you are a pastor who instructs his congregation to yell "Amen" when you make a point or expects the congregation to shout out encouraging words to you while you preach, you may want to rethink that.

Time and time again I've seen pastors trying to elicit a response from the congregation, as if their lack of response is a direct negative response to his sermon (which, in many instances, is not the case). That is a dangerous thing, because such a pastor is more likely to alter his preaching style and the content of his sermons to elicit what he deems as a more positive response. In doing so, the pastor may begin compromising the word of God.

I remember when a former pastor of mine was preaching the word, and the Holy Spirit grabbed on to something the pastor said and planted it in my heart. As I sat there, trying to grasp what the Holy Spirit was doing, what He was sharing, the change He was making in me, the growth that was happening in me in that very moment... the pastor was up on stage trying to elicit an "Amen" from everyone. In that moment of silence, when the Holy Spirit may have been reaching into the heart of many others in the congregation, the pastor missed what the Spirit was doing because he was more concerned about receiving a positive response to his sermon. I gave him the "Amen" he was looking for, but that interfered with what the Holy Spirit was doing in me at the moment. I broke that silence and interrupted what the Holy Spirit was doing in me. I'm here to say I won't ever make that same mistake again, because I KNOW I robbed myself of a greater blessing.

Another reason the congregation may become unresponsive is when taking notes. I don't know about anyone else, but when I'm taking notes, I'm more concerned with getting the scripture reference right and taking down a few key words than I am about shouting anything out to the pastor. 

Yet another reason is that some are having their own personal bible study with the Lord, searching for a scripture that ties in with the scripture given by the pastor. Yes, some of us do have our mini bible studies during the sermon...ha ha ha. When the Spirit is showing you something, you have to go with it or you can lose it.

This is why I say that it's okay to preach to a quiet room. Pastors, realize that when it gets quiet, it's probably the Holy Spirit at work. In trying to validate your own worth by the response you receive during your sermon, remember that it's God, not you, that everyone should be there to receive instruction from. Pray for the discernment needed to know when hearts are being changed and when it's best to just continue instead of stopping the flow to beg for a verbal pat on the back. Be confident enough to know that if you are speaking the words God gives to you, then you can be sure that the Holy Spirit will drive the message home.

Please leave any comments you may have in the comments section below.

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Why I Believe In A Pre-Tribulation Rapture Pt. 4 - The Apostasy or Falling Away


How many of us have read 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5 and were confused when studying the subject of the Rapture? Some who read this portion of scripture are convinced that it shows that the Rapture cannot occur pre-Tribulation because the "day of Christ" comes AFTER a falling away and the Antichrist is revealed. Somehow, this didn't sit well with me because I believe in a pre-Tribulation Rapture. Could I be wrong? If not, how do I reconcile this scripture with my understanding of the Rapture?

I'm one for allowing my long held beliefs to be challenged. In fact, I find that many of those beliefs weren't even rooted in scripture, but were church traditions. Of course, some were based on incorrect understanding of the scripture itself.

This is a case of the latter. There are two things we need to focus on here. We need to discuss what the "day of Christ" is and we need to look at the original Greek word that has been translated "a falling away." Only then can we read this portion of scripture in context and see it's true meaning.

Here is the scripture being discussed:

2 Thessalonians 2:1-5 "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that day of Christ is at hand.  3Let 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;  4Who opposeth and exaulteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.  5Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?" KJV

There are only five verses here, but these five verses say so much. Let's take this in piecemeal. We have to begin in the middle, in verse 3, in order to understand the other verses wrapped around this one.

The Falling Away

"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;"

The Greek word being used here is, "apostasia." It is being translated in English as, "a falling away." What if that isn't the correct translation? I have listened and read teachings on this particular subject and have come to the realization that my long held interpretation of this phrase is incorrect. In earlier versions of the bible, this word was translated not as "a falling away," but as "the departure." Whoa! Yeah... it blew my mind when I sat there and re-read the verse using those words instead. This is what I mean: "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come the departure first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;"


The first seven English translations of "apostasia" all rendered the noun as either "departure" or "departing." Wycliffe Bible (1384); Tyndale Bible (1526); Coverdale Bible (1535); Cranmer Bible (1539); Breeches Bible (1576); Beza Bible (1583); Geneva Bible (1608). Jerome's Latin translation known as the Vulgate from around 400 AD renders apostasia with the word "discessio," meaning "departure."

So if the true translation is "the departure" and not "a falling away," then that makes a huge difference in how this scripture, taken in context, is understood.

That Day Of Christ

Many look to the words "that day of Christ" as reference to the Rapture. Could this be true? Let's take a closer look.

What is the mental state of the believers in ThessalonĂ­ki at this point? Here's what Paul writes:

"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand." 

They were shaken down to their core. What would cause such a severe negative reaction in them? If they believed that the "day of Christ" was the Rapture and that they were about to experience, then why would the body of believers be "shaken in mind" or "troubled?" That just doesn't make sense. Could it be that the "day of Christ" mentioned here is not referring to the Rapture but, instead, is referring to the time of Jacob's trouble... Daniel's 70th week... the Tribulation? Could it be that they believed that they had missed the great catching away and that they were living through the coming judgment, the day of Christ, that they had been warned was coming?

The believers in Thessaloniki at that time were worried that the "day of Christ" had come (the Tribulation) and Paul had to correct them. If I could be so bold as to paraphrase Paul, he basically told them, "Hey, we already spoke to you about the Lord's promise to gather together both those who have gone before us and for us as well, so don't fret about what you're hearing from people giving you false information or saying that we wrote letters to the fact that the Tribulation ("day of Christ") has begun. The Tribulation isn't going to begin until after "the departure" and after the Antichrist is revealed." He then briefly describes the Antichrist and then reminds them in verse 5 that while he was with them, he explained it to them.

If you go back to Paul's first letter to the church in Thessaloniki, you'll see that he never spoke to them about "a falling away," but he did speak to them about Jesus returning to gather together the saints: "For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18Wherefore comfort one another with these words." (1Thess. 4:16-18)

So we can see that the saints in Thessaloniki were petrified that they had missed the Rapture and were now at the beginning of the Tribulation. Paul was calming them down by telling them that the promised Rapture had not yet happened, and that the Tribulation can't begin until it does happen, at which time the Antichrist will be revealed. Then, and only then, can the Tribulation begin. 

Important to note, is that in 1 Thessalonians 4:18, Paul told them that they were to comfort one another with the promise of a gathering together (Rapture). Why? Because they wouldn't need to worry about entering into the Tribulation. Jesus would come first to gather believers together to be with Him forever. It's no comfort to be promised a gathering together of believers AFTER suffering through the Tribulation, but it is a comfort to be promised a gathering together BEFORE such times begin.

So Paul's saying, "I already told you, we're going to be gathered together before the Tribulation, so don't listen to false doctrine and the twisted words of men, hold on to what you've already been taught. Remember what I told you before."

There is also the fact that the scripture doesn't contradict itself. Let's look at what Peter said in Acts 2:16-18 "But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:" 

This does not sound like "a falling away," now does it?  People, even now, are saying that we are in the midst of the great falling away, but that conflicts with what is going on in the world today. Actually, it's the exact opposite. Thousands upon thousands of people are coming to Christ every day. Just look at what is going on in Asia and the Middle East and third world countries!

It seems that by interpreting the word "apostasia" as "a falling away" actually contradicts what God said He would do in the last days, and the proof is what is going on in the world today. Where Satan has made inroads into our nation's church system and those in Europe, God is more than making up for that with the influx of new born again believers worldwide. 

1 Tim 4:1 speaks of a departure from the faith, but it does not describe a great falling away: "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter time, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;" There is a difference between what people expect as a great "falling away" and what Timothy described as "some." Some shall depart from the faith, and that is exactly what has happened, but there are more saints worldwide entering into a relationship with Jesus than there are departing the faith, so I can't support the notiont that "a falling away" is the correct interpretation of the Greek word, "apostasia."

Here's another little nugget of information for you. 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 says: "And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way." 

Meaning? The Holy Spirit is holding back the reign of the Antichrist until He is "taken out of the way." Since God has already promised never to leave nor forsake us, and that we are born of the Spirit (and since scripture cannot contradict itself), the Holy Spirit will not depart unless we go with Him. Sounds an awful lot like the Rapture, doesn't it? 

I'm interested in your opinion. Please take the time to leave a comment below.

You can read the other parts of this series by clicking on the links below:

Why I Believe In A Pre-Tribulation Pt. 1 - The 24 Elders

Why I Believe In A Pre-Tribulation Pt. 2 - Noah, Lot, and Rabbit Holes

Why I Believe In A Pre-Tribulation Pt. 3 - The Slow Motion Replay

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Date Setting And Paranoia - What's A Christian To Do?

BIBLICAL PROPHECY! BLOOD MOONS! THE FALL FEASTS! THE RAPTURE! THE TRIBULATION! DESTRUCTION! DEVASTATION! THE END OF THE WORLD! ECONOMIC COLLAPSE!

Seeing the unsaved being influenced by their own fearful thoughts and gripped with fear about the possibility that mayhem and destruction is right around the corner is one thing, but when those who call themselves Christians let fear and uncertainty grip their heart and control their thoughts and actions, that's quite another. Yes, there are principalities and powers at work in this world, but Christians have One greater who lives within them... the Holy Spirit. We must not allow ourselves to get caught up in all of the hype of this season of change. For years, believers have predicted the date of the Rapture and unbelievers have predicted the destruction of the world, oft times to the determent of those who believed such stories. Neither the rapture nor the earth's destruction have occurred.

We can excuse the unbeliever for predicting the ultimate demise of the planet and everything on it, but can we excuse the believer of believing that the date of Jesus return can be predicted? Jesus said, "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." Matthew 24:36  He didn't say, "...knoweth no man, except those who were clever enough to figure it out." No, he said, "...knowth no man... but my Father only." The blood moons and everything else being thrown out there by those believers who have studied God's word, Jewish tradition and world history, doesn't really give us a clue as to when the Rapture will take place. These individuals have absolutely no idea when the Rapture will take place. It's all guesswork. There's not going to be that one believer in Heaven who will be able to say, "Yep, no one else figured it out except me."

Just recently, September 13, 2015 was thrown out there by some Christians who believed that this was the date of the Rapture. That date has since come and gone. Now I understand that some are claiming that the Rapture will occur on September 28th at the next blood moon. does anyone believe that the Lord will return on that date? Let's see a show of hands. Anyone? Let me state this as clearly as I know how. If you are absolutely positive, and believe in your heart, and you know that you know that you know that the Lord will return on a specific date, then you can be positive that you are wrong because Jesus said that no man would know the day nor the hour of His return.

Be honest... how many of us, in the past, have bought in to the idea that the year had finally come for the Lord's return? (I'm raising my hand) That year passed without the Rapture, then the next and the next until we now find ourselves here in the latter part of 2015. Some are positive that this is the year. Really? What happens if and when 2016 rolls around. Will you then be positive that the Rapture will take place in 2016? What if we reach 2017? How positive will you be then that 2017 will be the year of the Rapture?

Even though we don't know the day or the hour, we've been told that we will know the season. Many of us believe that we are in that season even now, but we have no idea how long this season will last. We know that Jesus' arrival is imminent and it could occur at any time, but that's not to say that this season won't last another year or two. I hope that's not the case. I hope that the Lord does return this year, but I'm not going to listen to those believers who lead people on and chose their words to carefully craft a prediction while still weakly claiming that it's just an educated guess. 

While we're here, we have a war to fight. We're here to take back ground from the enemy and to advance the kingdom of God here on earth. We're here to rescue as many saints as possible, while the enemy continues to make his preparations for the coming of his Antichrist. God has Satan hemmed in so that he can only accomplish so much, but when the point is reached where the world is ripe for the great deception that will fall upon them, and when that last brother or sister that God is waiting for has repented of their sin and believes in the One who gave His life for them, then we'll be ripped from this world in a blink of an eye while the full force of evil in this world is released!

There are people out there in the Christian community who will talk about the blood moons, the Jewish Feasts and the "last trump" and who will try to convince us that the blood moons signal catastrophe and that through their study they've concluded that the Jewish feasts and the scripture relating to the "last trump" show that the Rapture will occur on the last day of Rosh Hashanah. These individuals have received monetary gain from the books, videos, charts, posters, etc... that they've sold which make these claims, all the while telling us that they're not date setting. If it's not Rosh Hashanah 2015, then all through next year the date setters will be talking about Rosh Hashanah 2016.  

What they don't tell you is that the Jewish calendar has gone through some changes since Jesus prophetically fulfilled the first four major feast days. Without getting into specifics, the Jewish calendar that was around when Jesus walked this earth isn't the same calendar that they use now. The Jewish calendar used to be based on the lunar cycle, and eye witness accounts of when the new moon appeared, but as I understand it, that was changed in the fourth century when it was changed to a fixed calendar. As you can imagine, those in Jesus' time would be celebrating a holy day on a particular day while those in the fourth century and beyond would be celebrating it on another, since they would be operating under two different systems of marking days and months. The modern calendar allows for the adding and taking away of days so that certain holy days don't fall back to back or on the "wrong day."

The point I'm trying to make concerning these two methods of marking time, is that it makes no sense to try to connect the "last trump" Jesus spoke of with the last trumpet blast of the modern celebration of Rosh Hashanah because it's more than likely that this holy day won't line up with the old lunar calendar. That's why if Jesus was referring to Rosh Hashanah when He made mention of the "last trump," it would most likely be blown on the date that Rosh Hashanah would have ended on in regard to the old Jewish calendar and not the last day of Rosh Hashanah that is marked on the modern Jewish calendar that they use today.

Many of us feel that we are in the season where we are to look up and expect the arrival of the Bridegroom, but it's not a time to panic and believe that every news story is going to lead to the immediate destruction of this nation. Yes, the United States is most likely going to fall, because the greatest and most powerful nation that there has ever been on this planet is found nowhere in biblical prophecy.

Instead of fearing what is to come, we need to prayerfully prepare for what we may need to go through before the Bridegroom arrives. We don't know how bad things are going to get in this world or how bad it's going to be for born again believers before the Tribulation begins. We are already seeing the leading edge of Christian persecution in this country and it's only going to get worse as we get closer to Yeshua's return. 

What's a Christian to do? We need to live each day in it's own time. We need to continue to believe, pray, share, witness, evangelize, teach, etc... We need to continue to depend on God to increase our faith, give us strength, and lead us by His Holy Spirit. Jesus said that His return would be as the great flood occurred in Noah's time. Everyone would be eating and drinking, getting married, and going on with their daily lives. His return will happen suddenly, as a thief in the night. In the blink of an eye we'll be ushered into His presence and our thoughts will no longer be focused on what is happening in the world, but will instead be focused on the One who saved us through His blood on the cross.

You know who I want to meet in heaven? I want to meet that man, woman or child who shares Jesus with that last person who receives salvation before Jesus returns. I want to go up to that saint and say, "Well done," before giving him or her a big hug in appreciation for being so faithful and obedient to God.

Last words: Don't fall into the date setting trap. Live your days one at a time while looking up in anticipation of the arrival of the Bridegroom. One day, when you least expect it, you'll hear that shout and that trumpet blast, and in that moment we'll be home!

If you like this article, or any of the other information on this web site, please consider following me. You'll be one of the first to be notified when I create new content! You'll find the section at the top of the right hand column on this page. It says, "Follow Tribulation Harvest by Email." After entering your email address, you may be prompted to sign in to your Google account. Thank you!!!

Repent and be forgiven! Believe and be saved!

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