Wednesday, October 10, 2018

No You Resurrect It!

I have seen a lot of posts from people lately talking about people who don't add to their life. Get rid of them, walk away from them, flush them. As if the only thing that matters is that people should add to you, enhance you, increase your growth, make your life better. I suppose there is a time and place for that type of thinking, but maybe, just maybe you are supposed to pull them up instead of just walking away from them.

I used to enjoy listening to a preacher named R. W. Shambach, and one of the things he is known for is that at his meetings he would asked the crowd, "If something is dead, what do you do with it?" The crowd would invariably respond, "you bury it,". He would then say, "No! You resurrect it!"

I realize there are people that won't change, but we are too much of a throw away society. I think I read somewhere about doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. I for one can say, God didn't flush me, at my worst He loved me best. Keep your fire burning!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The King Has Another Move

Pictured above is a painting by Moritz Retzsch in 1831, it was based on a famous German play popularly know as "Faust." Faust tells the alleged story of Johann Georg Faust where his meets a demon named Mephistopheles and agrees to sell his soul in exchange worldly and scientific success in exchange for his soul. The deal is signed and sealed with a drop of blood.

The painting is a depiction of Faust near the end of his life, and is depicted as a chess game. The devil is the man in green who is viciously looking at Faust, and is seemingly saying, "checkmate in two moves." Faust is anxiously looking over the chess board desperately seeking a way out of his predicament, but is appears to be resigning himself that all is lost. An angel watches over the situation and appears sad and unable/unwilling to provide any help. Soon the game of life will be over and all will be lost.

30 years later a colored engraving of the painting winds up in the home of Rev. R. R. Harrison, who has invited guests over for tea and to spend the evening together.  Rev. Harrison had previously practiced law for many years and had gained many noteworthy friends. At dinner that night was (among others) Capt. Franklin Buchanan who would later become an Admiral in the Confederate Navy and captain the famous ship the Merrimac. Also in attendance was a lawyer named Paul Morphy who was well known as one of the best chess players of the day. There were several other exceptional chess players in attendance. After dinner the Rev. took his guests to view the engraving, where upon Mr. Morphy having carefully studied the picture, exclaimed: "I could take the young man's position and win the game." All those who were in attendance expressed disbelief that it could be done. They set up a chess board with the layout of the painting, and one by one Mr. Morphy took Faust's position and defeated all the guests who were well versed in chess and were confident in their ability to win with the devils' position on the board.

For 30 years that painting depicted satan wining the soul of a man who had sinned much, and all it took was a grand master better than the devil, to defeat and snatch from his grip a soul he was sure he had.

The bible is full of many such stories, where it looked like the devil was saying, "mate in 2 moves," but in each one of them God the greatest Grand Master of all stepped into the situation and won the game that seemed hopelessly lost.

3 Hebrew boys were headed to a fiery furnace, and the devil said, "mate in 2, but God turned it around. Daniel was thrown in the lions den, "mate in 2, but King had another move. The Jews were backed up against the Red Sea, "mate in 2," but the King had another move and split the Red Sea in two. A thief was hanging on the cross, the sentence of death was on him, and his life was just about to expire, "mate in 2," but the King had another move - "This day you will be with me in paradise."

How about you? Are you facing a "mate in 2," situation. No matter how desperate, no matter how far gone, no matter how many pieces you have lost on the chess board, there is a King who has another move and can turn it all around for you.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Artificial Intelligence and the antichrist

Artificial Intelligence and the Antichrist

Rev 13:11 And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon.
Rev. 13:12  And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.
Rev. 13:13  And he performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men.
Re 13:14  And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who *had the wound of the sword and has come to life.
Rev. 13:15  And there was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast might even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.

I read an article on CNN the other day about Jack Ma the billionaire owner of Alibaba (Chinese version of Amazon). (Link at the end of post.) In that article is this quote: "Like many billionaire tech founders, Jack Ma is a futurist. He predicts robots will eventually replace some the world's leading CEOs and believes artificial intelligence will fundamentally change the world." (End quote)

While some of the West's leading tech entrepreneurs are vociferously warning of the danger of AI, China's Ma seems to be embracing it. Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking is quoted as saying, artificial intelligence ""could spell the end of the human race." Tesla's Elon Musk has said that AI is our biggest existential threat.

All this talk of AI got me thinking about the possible connection between it and Revelation 13. In the text cited above the evil ruler called the Antichrist has a henchman, whom most give the name of the false prophet. This henchman seems to have the job description of publicist for the antichrist, with a particularly evil twist, if you don't worship (bow down?) to the antichrist or his image he will have you killed. Of particular note for today is the fact he makes an image (representation? Robot?) of the antichrist and somehow causes it to come to life. The Greek text says he gives breath to the image.

We have to factor in the Apostle John's complete lack of a point of reference for understanding the technologies that would one day exist, and that he was trying to describe. I'm guessing, but could he be describing a robot that seemingly comes to life? It is interesting that he (false prophet) doesn't make the image himself, but he demands the people who dwell on the earth to make the image. Strange wording, huh? It almost sounds like the text is distinguishing between those who dwell on the earth and the false prophet and the antichrist, as if they are other worldly. (Aliens? I can't believe I just suggested that!) It could of course be simply a biblical euphemism for people who are of the world as opposed to those who are not of this world, ...the Christians.

The Japanese a have a robot maker who is perhaps the world leader in life like robots. Hiroshi Ishiguro is one of the most acclaimed builders of life like robots in the world. (See link below for an amazing short video on a robot he made to look just like himself) Granted these technologies are still in their infancy, but the advances of self-driving cars should show just how fast these technologies can advance quickly.

I could be like a thousand other would be interpreters of the book of Revelation, - completely wrong. I've just had a few things come across my research in the last few days that have made me think, "hmm". When looking at the book of Revelation I try to keep my wits about me and remind myself of the words of Christian rock group Petra. Poking fun at Christians getting freaked out about backward masking (secret messages that could only be heard when you played a song backwards) they did some backwards masking themselves in their song, "Judas' kiss, the message - "What are you looking for the devil for when you should be looking for the Lord." (Link below).  I think the bible is clear that believers when they see these things come to past should be looking up, not looking for the antichrist. That bit of proper focus noted, there are still some things that make me say, "hmmm."

Keep your fire burning.

...Update while getting ready to post this blog I decided to do a google search on AI and the antichrist and came across the following: that is a link to a guy who has researched and found out a group of atheists have founded a religion here is a short quote from his blog: "As Wired reported recently, Anthony Levandowski, a top Silicon Valley engineer formerly working for Google's self-driving car company Waymo and now at the center of the trade secrets lawsuit between Uber and Waymo, founded a religious organization called Way of the Future. Its goal? To "develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence."

Interesting. Makes me do a double "hmmm."

Jack Ma: "could spell the end of the human race."
Hiroshi Ishiguro:
Petra, Judas' kiss:

Jack Ma: "could spell the end of the human race."
Hiroshi Ishiguro:
Petra, Judas' kiss:
come to past should be looking up, not looking for the antichrist. That bit of proper focus noted, there are still some things that make me say, "hmmm."
Keep your fire burning.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Everything That Kills Me Makes Me Feel Alive

One Republic's song, "counting stars,"contains this clever and poignant lyric: "everything that kills me makes me feel alive." Their video of the song has been viewed more than  1.5 billion (yes billion) times on Youtube, meaning that it has resonated with a large swath of humanity. The lyrics are slightly cryptic and open to a thousand interpretations which many have put forth. Here is my spin on one part of that song.

First as a pastor and communicator I am fascinated and my interest is piqued by what it could be in this song that has connected with so many people. As a song it lends it self to inviting the listener to sing along, catchy, and enjoyable. Yet, I think it is the lyrics that have pushed it over the top. My observation is that the song  addresses several common things many young people relate to. Detesting the need for and pursuit of money/things. Living outside of societies square box, and then what for me is the most interesting line of the song: "Everything that kills me, makes me feel alive".

In my late teens I had gotten heavily involved in drug use, I really enjoyed the way drugs made me feel. But, I slowly began to realize there was a bill to pay for all that "fun," and my life began to go steadily downhill. I was stealing to be able to buy drugs, I had gotten arrested, and I came to understand that I had a love/hate relationship with drugs. The fun came at an ever increasing cost, with an ever decreasing enjoyment. I struggled with suicide, hated myself, and battled depression. (At 18 I had very few life skills to deal with depression, it was a very dark time in my life.) The following picture is one of many like it that have been posted to the internet by suicide survivors, and it echoes the sentiments of many.

One night on LSD I tried to jump from the 6th floor of the apartment building I was living in. Friends stopped me, I was too high to understand what I was doing. They made me go to drug counseling, I went once, hated it. I was smart enough to realize that I needed more than words to change me. A short time later getting high on the roof of the same building, I looked to heaven and said to God, "I need some power to come inside me and help me." Desperate for change, I managed to join the US Navy, and was transferred to Japan. I soon realized that even though I changed locations, and my life situations, I still took, "me," with me. I continued taking drugs, and even got busted for that while in the service. I attempted suicide a few more times, and fell into greater depression because not only was I a failure, but I was a failure at committing suicide. (For which I an now very grateful to God about!)

Then on September 3rd, 1974 I had a dramatic encounter with the living God, and felt Him and His power come inside me. In the book of Revelation it says, "I stand at the door and knock, if anyone opens the door I will come in to him." My rooftop prayer was answered, I was radically changed, and the power of drugs over me was broken. I have since realized that everything that God calls sin, there is bill of suffering that comes along with those who dabble therein. One Republic, far from a Christian band, had enough life insight to say, "Everything that KILLS me, makes me feel alive." The bible puts it this way, "the wages of sin is death." Whether or not you believe in God, that fact remains. Whether or not you believe what the bible calls sin, is sin, that fact remains. Though you may party and laugh on the outside, on the inside the bill for sin will always cost you more than the pleasure sin brings you.

Perhaps, like One Republic, you recognize that everything that makes you feel alive, KILLS you. Perhaps you should consider answering that knock on the door of your heart. Jesus has the power to change you from the inside out. Personally I really enjoy scifi movies, and like many am a fan to the Star Wars series. In one of the first movies a whole planet (Alderann) is destroyed by something called the "Death Star," a Jedi Knight by the name of Obi Wan Kenobi, speaking of that event says: "I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened." In my heart, I have that kind of a sense for people who are overdosing, and those caught in all kinds of lifestyles that are killing them. Drugs, pornography, gambling, alternate sexual identities, they all come with a big price tag. God heard that cry before the world began and He sent His son Jesus to do something about it. Sin will always send you a bill, and then send the worst collection agents there are after you. Look up, reach up, and call out to God, He has the power to overcome the forces of the Empire.

Monday, September 19, 2016

666 A Novel Approach

Revelation 13:18 This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666.

This one cryptic verse of scripture has been the basis for more wild theories than almost any other sentence ever written. Some say its a bar code, others give letters a numeric value and find a way to add up almost anyone's name to 666. For some it's Monster energy drink, for others it is the pope, or the imam mahdi, or the president, or Prince Charles yada yada yada, you get the idea.

For some reason while driving the other day I thought about that number, and I thought about the only verse in the bible that is a 6:66 - John's gospel chapter 6, verse 66. I pondered and wondered if the two could be related, probably not, but then again...

John 6:66 From that [time] many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

John 6:66 is a verse that talks about people turning their back on God. So my thought very simply is this - the antichrist will be a fallen Christian leader, perhaps a very famous one.

I was recently in Ireland, and one evening my family and I had dinner at a restaurant in Dublin, where you not only get food, you get entertained with a couple of hours of Irish history and folk tales. One historical insight shared that evening has stuck with me. Many years ago most of the Irish lived in mud homes, and Ireland, as you may know, is famous for the amount of rainfall it gets. It is that rain that causes the grass to be so lush, splashing the landscape with beautiful shades of green. The problem with mud homes and rain, is water. Water could wash your home away, but as long as you kept a fire going on the inside, it would keep the rain from destroying your home. It would keep the rain from washing away your walls.

Historically walls keep enemies out. Biblically one of the ways of looking at walls is to understand them as standards, the code by which you live. A line in your heart and mind, that you will not cross. Behavior that you will not walk in. The rain of this world is always trying to wash your standards away, it is always trying to eat at your walls. The solution is the one found in Ireland keep the fire burning and your walls will stay true. Christians who lose the fire of passion and love for God invariable also let their standards slip. Keep the fire burning, and your standards won't slip, if you don't the wind and rain will knock your house down. Perhaps that is what will happen to the man whose number is 666.

Keep your fire burning.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


We live in a day and an age where the church is being shouted into silence. To express a view that runs contrary to where our culture is, is to open yourself up to ostracism, castigation, and verbal and legal assault. Make no mistake about it, this is not the land of free speech. Expressing a Christian viewpoint will bring out societies killer bees, and they do have a very sharp sting in their tail!
Because of that many have adopted a keep quiet approach. I am not saying that is without merit, I tend to think in terms of, choose your battles wisely. Will speaking up improve the situation, or only exacerbate it? Questions we should ask ourselves before we open our mouths. Yet, what we have to say is of extreme importance. In the picture at the top of this post, Nathan the prophet is confronting David about his sinning with Bathsheba. We see the prophets bony finger pointing at him and down through the corridors of time we here those penetrating words, "behold, thou art the man!" David had heard a story from the prophet about a rich guy who had stolen a lamb from a poor guy, and as king he was incensed and ready to issue judgment. That is when the prophet revealed to him the story was about David himself, who had stolen the wife and life of an honest and good man. 

With that rebuke, David found his way back home to God. I don't think God wants us to point our bony finger in the face of everyone we think is living wrong, and yet there are those to whom we will be sinning if we don't help them turn their ship around. Consider what Ezekiel the prophet was told by God:

Ezekiel 3:17 "Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me.
Ezekiel 3:18 "When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die’; and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.
Ezekiel 3:19 "Yet if you have warned the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself.

I think the danger of this age is twofold, getting all up in someone's business when it is not the right time in their life to effect change. The other is being so afraid of the culture that we become scared into silence. May God give us wisdom! Of the two dangers I think the latter is the one the church is most succumbing to. For that reason I leave you with the words of Jeremiah the prophet:

Jeremiah 20:8 Every time I open my mouth I’m shouting, "Murder!" or "Rape!" And all I get for my GOD-warnings are insults and contempt.
Jeremiah 20:9 But if I say, "Forget it! No more GOD-Messages from me!" The words are fire in my belly, a burning in my bones. I’m worn out trying to hold it in. I can’t do it any longer! (MSG)

 And always remember, keep your fire burning!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Tokens of Where You have been

The other day my wife and I walked into and through a short section of woods on the edge of our yard. We have about 100 feet of yard and then a short 20 foot section of woods. We were there looking at some new construction that is taking place on the property behind ours. As we did so we were reluctantly facing the reality that we will soon have new neighbors 150 feet or so behind our house. Thankfully there is, as I said, a small section of woods between our yard and the property being developed. It only took us a few seconds to pass through those woods, we looked around on the construction site for a few moments and then returned to our home.

On the way back I felt something itchy on my right side. Reaching down I found a bur, and I meticulously removed it. Sometimes you have to pull them out piece by piece. Then I found another, and another, and then a group of five or six of them. My first thought was how the fact they attach themselves so easily to us led to the development of velcro. The burs have small hooks on the end of them that can attach to almost anything. The plants with burs use animals to transport their seed pods to new locations to spread the species. There are things in this world that are trying to attach themselves to you, and they are very good at what they do!

Now for the spiritual lesson, I was amazed how so little contact could leave such a large and almost unnoticed deposit on me. This can happen both positively and negatively. In a few moments walk I picked up burs, dirt on my shoes, pollen on my clothes, and God only knows what else. I have a man in my church who almost died from a mosquito bite, how long do you think that interaction took? We can have things attach themselves to us in the briefest of moments, that can have long lasting effects. You think you can watch hours of TV and not be influenced?

On a positive note, we can also have things attach themselves to us when we are in places that are healthy for our spirit. One of my all time favorite quotes is the following: "It is only by waiting before the throne of grace that we become endued with the Holy Fire. He who waits there long and believingly will imbibe that Fire and come forth from his communion with God bearing tokens of where he has been." It always reminds me to be wary of bad burs and to earnestly seek Godly tokens of where I have been. What has attached itself to you? Keep your fire burning!