What Now? Sept. 23 Has Come and Gone…

the end is near

I woke up on Sunday, September 24 and the first thought in my mind was, “Well, I guess the rapture didn’t happen.”

The next thing I did was search the internet to see if either North Korea fired another ballistic missile, if a massive earthquake hit somewhere in North America, or if some other major catastrophe took place. Well, none of those things happened either, apart from the ensuing devastation caused by previous hurricanes and earthquakes.

But then I began to wonder about all those who were expecting the rapture to take place. I was wondering how they might be thinking and feeling after waking up the next day, and the next… I can only imagine how much mental, emotional and spiritual energy was exerted into preparing for this event.

Cuz there were many in the Christian world, at least in North America, who were certain that September 23, 2017, during the feast of Trumpets, with the Revelation 12 sign in the sky, following all the natural disasters, following all the wars and rumors of wars, was the date and time of the fulfillment of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. Again, I can only imagine the disappointment and confusion. Perhaps there was even a sigh of relief and comfort.

But the question that still needs to be addressed is, what now?

Here are 5 things we should consider doing in light of September 23rd not being the date of the rapture or the end of the world.

1. Preach the Gospel

preachFocus once again on preaching the Gospel. It is the Gospel that saves sinners from that day which will come. Let your words and your life be a living testimony to the power of the Gospel. Let your life make Jesus irresistible… Irresistible for His Love and Compassion… For His pursuit of those who don’t know Him yet… For His sacrifice for us. We have a hope that this world needs… the hope of salvation, redemption, and healing. Make this a high priority in your life.

2. Invest in Relationships

priscilla-du-preez-234138Invest in the relationships you have now. Whether that be with your closest friends, your neighbors, your family, your husband, your wife, your children… make sure you take time and effort to build one another up. That may mean to make amends with those you lost touch with, those who have become distant, those who have fallen away. The building and re-building of relationships have the potential to reap eternal benefits.

3. Be Mindful of what you feed your soul.

lysander-yuen-288916We live in an age of information overload. There is a lot of material out there, and not all of it is true. Not all of it is fruitful for you. If what you are taking in causes fear and anxiety, it’s probably not a good idea to indulge in those things. The Bible encourages us to keep that which is good and noble in our minds because of how it affects our everyday life. So when you hear about another possible date for the end of the world, keep your thoughts in line with Matthew 24:36. No one will know the time of the end except one person, that is God the Father. If you are filling your soul with His words and His thoughts, you’re good… And the occasional Netflix ain’t too bad either.

4. However, Be watchful…

Signs-of-the-Times
It is still valid to be aware of the signs of the times. The sons of Issachar in the bible were credited as those who were aware of the times to give warnings up ahead. So with that said, I am not negating the passages in the bible that talk about the signs of the last days. We are living in that time. However, let the signs of the times compel you to follow steps 1 and 2.

5. Enjoy Every Moment

luke-ellis-craven-231977Each day that you and I have is a gift from God.

This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:34 ESV

Whether the end of all things is tomorrow or 100 years from now, we still have today. See it for what it is. A blessing from God. To bask in the glory and beauty of His creation, to receive His unfailing love and extend it to others, to be blessed in order to be a blessing.

The end may be near, but it’s not yet. Make every day count.

 

 

It’s the End of the World as we Know it… Really?

Man oh man… There is a lot of talk on the internet about September 23, 2017, being the end of the world, the date of the rapture, the start of the great tribulation, and so on… And I’ll be honest with you… I kinda got sucked into all the theories…briefly…

Some of them sound super convincing. Well…the weather phenomena being the fulfillment of Luke 21 and Matthew 24 was a bit of a stretch.  Though this year has been devastating, and continues to be, 2004 was really bad too… And there have been severe natural disasters happening for as long as I could remember.

But the Revelation 12 sign… That grabbed my attention.

Revelation 12:1-2 says this…

 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head, a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. (ESV)

It turns out that on September 23rd, the constellations Virgo and Leo will be a part of a celestial spectacle that day. Virgo, which is a constellation depicted as a woman, will have the sun on her shoulder and the moon at her feet. At her head will be the constellation Leo which is made up of 9 stars.  The remaining 3 stars will be three planets that just so happen to align in a row that day right beside Leo, making it a total of 12 stars. The interesting thing about this is that the planet Jupiter has been inside the constellation Virgo, right around where the womb would be, and it’s been there for 9 months.  On September 23, Jupiter will exit the womb.

So WOW! That sounds crazy!!! I was hooked man… It grabbed my attention. After all, God did say that the sun, moon, and stars were created to be for “signs and for seasons, and for days and years” (Gen 1:14)

But then I remembered the blood moon tetrad that took place a couple of years ago. I was intrigued then too. The rapture didn’t happen then.  The world didn’t end then.

Then I remembered the Mayan calendar fiasco for December 21, 2012. The rapture didn’t happen then.  The world didn’t end then.

There have been many failed predictions over the years, and actually… if we look into church history, these types of predictions have been miscalculated for centuries.

After remembering those miscalculated dates, I was brought back to the most important passage regarding this sort of date setting.

Matthew 24:36 says,

 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”

Date setting is clearly not on the agenda for us. No one, not even Jesus, knows when that day will be.

I read a great article this morning written by Dr. Brian Irwin who is an Associate Professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures at Knox College in Toronto. I would encourage you to read it.

https://www.wycliffecollege.ca/blog/end-world-hand-or-it

A bit of a spoiler alert… He had a great line in that article for the church. Dr. Irwin wrote,

“As the church, we’re not so much to be watching and waiting as watching and doing.”

I love that. We’re not called to sit on the sidelines and provide commentaries on the troubles of this world while we wait for the “rapture” bus. Sure the signs seem somewhat conspicuous, but that doesn’t change what we are called to do.

We are called to be salt.

We are called to be light.

We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Let’s not forget Matthew 25:31-46.

(Mic Drop) (Shameless walk off stage)

 

 

 

Prophetic Perspectives: Hurricanes, Earthquakes and the Judgment of God

nasa-63030

‘Tis the season for hurricanes and tropical storms. Coming from a resident of Southern Ontario in Canada, I have very little understanding of what that means.  Although not long ago, I guess, we’ve experienced heavy winds and a few tornado touchdowns… but nothing quite like a category 4 or 5 hurricane ripping through a coastal city. At least not in my lifetime.

But my heart breaks for those affected by Harvey, Irma, and Katia. Jose is out there somewhere too. And Mexico’s strongest earthquake in a century hit last week, leaving almost a hundred dead and thousands displaced from their homes. Add to that, the largest wildfire in the history of British Columbia is spreading into Alberta, causing devastation in its path. These are but a few of the many disastrous natural phenomena happening globally.

Certainly, the quantity and intensity of these natural disasters are alarming. And when anything tragic like this happens, we humans have a tendency to seek for answers. What is causing these storms to occur in such succession?  Are all these disasters due to global warming? Is it simply because we are in the season for hurricanes?  On and on it goes…

Some have answers. Scientists and meteorologists have answers.  But they aren’t the only ones to give them. Those in the religious world offer answers too. And some of them jump to announce that this calamity is a judgment from God.

I remember the earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010.  Maybe you do as well.  Well, I also remember hearing a televangelist announcing to the world that this was a judgment from God upon the nation of Haiti due to their spiritual practices. When I heard that, I’ve got to be honest… I was angry. I was angry because we were hearing about thousands of people dying. We were hearing about families being torn apart. We were hearing about cities left in utter ruins. And that was a first response from the Christian perspective?

Notice I didn’t say “the” first response.  I am proud to say that judgment isn’t the only first response from my fellow followers of Jesus… There are others from the Christian world whose initial response is compassion and they jump in to help in whatever way they can.

A woman from my church was in Haiti in 2010 to serve on a mobile clinic team visiting poor rural areas.  Not long after the team arrived, the earthquake struck and one of the team members died. Yvonne Martin was a retired nurse and she gave her life to serve those she loved. She had the heartbeat of God inside of her.

Now for people like my fellow Christian televangelist, though I respect his ministry and agree with many other things he preaches, this perspective of judgment from God, I must disagree with.

But I get it… this world can be a dark place. The existence of the sex trade, the growing violence, the rampant racism, and the widening chasm between the elite wealthy and the poor… It’s a call for justice in a world of great injustice.

Is there an answer?

Straight up… I do not believe that the God I read about in the New Testament coincides with the God that some of my brothers and sisters proclaim when storms come.

In Jesus, I see compassion for the poor (Matt 14).  In Jesus, I see the breakdown of racial boundaries (John 4). In Jesus, I see a God who is in the storm with His people (Mark 4).

Jesus paints a very different portrait of God than some of us do.  A God who cares.  A God who loves.  A God who walks with us through the storms.

In John 8:12, Jesus says this…

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Yes, this world is dark. I think it’s been that way for a long long time.

There has not been a single century in human history that didn’t have a major military conflict.

Earthquakes happen.

Storms happen.

Suffering happens.

But in Jesus, we see a God who says, “I am the light… follow me and you will have that light too.  Shine it for all to see.”

Matthew 5:14 is one of my favorite verses.  It serves as a reminder that I am called to be a light bearing follower of Jesus.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.”

This is a calling for followers of Jesus to be light in this hard time.  Our primary calling isn’t to bring an answer, it’s to simply show the love of God in the midst of all the chaos that goes on in this world.

Then when we do speak, our primary response should be to speak life and not death. To speak hope and not condemnation.

 

 

 

North Korea and the Prayers of the Saints

NK

A lot of fiery rhetoric is being thrown around the Korean Peninsula. North Korea has been developing and testing nuclear weapons for quite some time now, to the disdain of the United States and her allies.  Just a few days ago, NK tested their 6th nuclear bomb, this time believed to have been a powerful hydrogen bomb.  To add to this dangerous move, there are further threats of possibly another intercontinental ballistic missile test in the near future.  With all this show of muscle by Kim Jong Un and his military, the United States finds themselves in quite a dilemma.  Do they go ahead with a preemptive strike to take out the nuclear sites and run the risk of all out war?  Do they accept North Korea as a nuclear power and learn to live with this reality the way they have with countries such as Pakistan and India?  Both of those options have risky consequences attached to them.

Either way, a path towards peace seems nonexistent at the moment.  Is there a better way?  Is there a better mindset to have through all this?

Being a Canadian born Korean, the situation that is developing in my country of descent is troubling, especially since I have family within striking distance of the 10 000 artillery pieces from the other side of the DMZ.  Not to mention the nukes and the 6 million strong army reserve.  So to have a healthy perspective about North Korea is a struggle.  It is definitely something I am not able to ignore.

There are several questions that keep circling in my mind.  Can North Korea ever change?  Will they always be governed by a cultish dictatorship where the people are forced to worship their leader?  Will the forced labour camps and prison camps ever shut down?  Will the mass starvation ever come to end?  Will they follow through on their plans to bomb the South, Japan, and the United States?

Lately, I have found that my thoughts have been less optimistic.

However, recently I found a passage in the scriptures that caught my attention.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 says this.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

I realized afterward that there is a power greater than any nuclear bomb.  There is a power greater than sanctions and embargos.  There is a power greater than any Trump Tweet or Kim Jong Un provocation.   (Which sounds crazy I know, but I truly believe it…)

It is the power of God moving in answer to the prayers of His people.

Now I can imagine what some might be thinking.  That sounds good and all, but you still need to address the threat of North Korean nuclear capabilities.  It must be stopped now.

But there are no other answers.

Sanctions don’t work, as it has been proven over the years. War is not the answer either. South Korea and the nations surrounding the Korean Peninsula would be in danger of mass devastation.  Some have suggested that North Korea needs a regime change and that somehow it has to come from within.  But in a country that worships their leader the way one would worship a deity, that seems impossible.

But, nothing is impossible with God.  Do we believe this?

Where there is a group of Christians praying, there is power to change.

E.M Bounds wrote this on prayer.

God shapes the world by prayer.  The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil…

I want to encourage my fellow followers of Jesus all over the world.  We need to seek God in this hour and pray for change in North Korea. The situation is volatile and can trigger another dark era in human history. But I believe good can somehow come out of this bad situation.

May I encourage us to pray for safety on the Korean Peninsula?  Let us pray for Kim Jong Un, Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, and Vladimir Putin; the world leaders whose got the attention of the world right now.  Pray for each of their salvation.  Pray that God would move in such a way that the world would say, “God must have intervened.”