Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 2 December 2015

When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains. Mark 13, verses 7-8.

Watch out and be ready.   Read the signs.

Every day we are looking for signs for the second coming of Christ.   As you can read, it’s something that Jesus Himself told us we need to do.   Watch out and be ready.   Look for the signs and heed them.   Heed them to be ready.

Now, I am not going to speculate on whether or not we are in the end times.   Dozens of generations before ours thought they were because they saw wars and rumors of wars, nation rising against nation, earthquakes, famines and violence.   Remember the fall of Jerusalem less than a generation after Mark’s Gospel was written?   Or the fall of Rome a few centuries later.   The Crusades a thousand years ago, the Muslim invasion of Europe in the 1400s.   The Hundred Years’ War; The Thirty Years’ War; World War I and especially World War II. The generations that lived through those things must surely have thought they were witnessing the end.   So it is with ours.

Maybe it’s never happened in my lifetime or maybe I’m just paying attention to it now but the signs are appearing again.

And the moral of the story is still “watch out and be ready.”   Right now; today.   That’s what Jesus told us.

I can honestly say that I hope it happens.   I honestly hope for the time when this life can end and the life without time can begin.   Perhaps it will indeed happen in my lifetime.   Just today, with ISIS on the move again and with Russia threatening nuclear war with Turkey, wars and rumors of wars are abounding.   I heard a radio ad (not a preacher, an advertisement) speculating on whether or not we are witnessing the start of the war prophesied by the prophet Ezekiel over 2500 years ago. High profile radio hosts are openly talking about how we are in the beginning of World War III but we haven’t faced up to it yet.   Some are saying “end times.”

Watch out and be ready.

Watch out and be ready so that no one deceives you.   Watch out and be ready so that no one deceives you into thinking they are the returning Jesus. He is coming and soon but none of us know the date or time.   All we can understand through our view of the trees is that only Jesus can truly see the whole forest and He will return to govern it when God the Father deems it to be the time. Until then, we have only one job.

Watch out and be ready.   Watch out and be ready by helping others to do the same.   Help others to do the same by using the talents Jesus gives each of us to His glory, for His purpose, in His ways.   Share our stories, use our abilities, do what we can to be Jesus for other people so that they, too, may ready themselves for Jesus’ imminent return. Heed the signs by reading and interpreting the signs.   Be ready to stand, then to leave, when Jesus comes back for you. Watch and be ready.

Lord, I anxiously await Your return.   Until that happens, help me to understand the signs and be ready for You.

Read Mark 13, verses 1-31.

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Practical Proverbial, the Ten Commandments, 27 May 2014.

You shall not murder. Exodus chapter 20, verse 13.

Today is primary election day here in Texas.   I AM SO GLAD THE PRIMARIES ARE ALMOST OVER. This year, the mudslinging has been especially vicious.   If other voters feel as I do, then I think most must be sickened by politicians saying and doing whatever they think is necessary, including destroying their opponents, just to get a taste of republican (little R) power.

I’ve come to think that every political ad tearing down an opponent is a violation of the sixth commandment.   “You shall not murder” is the same as “X candidate hates puppies, apple pie, and Captain America movies?”   Are you really equating negative words with deliberate murder?

Jesus even said so.   He equated anger with murder.   Anger equals slander equals gossip equals disparaging remarks equals deliberate killing equals pre-meditated murder. When we are guilty of harboring malicious thoughts against others we are just as guilty as if we had actually murdered them. Thus, every time I see the political ads where one opponent tears down another, I’m disgusted at them.   I look at them as if they had just murdered their opponent.

Mean Girls; same thing.   That chick who gossips in church about the other women who don’t look so fit in their Sunday best: murderer. The men who slander each other to try to get advantage:   killers.   The media that thrives on all of it: no better than the mafia. Me talking bad about someone else:   murderer.

The generals who plan great battles?   Not so much.   God forbids murder, but not killing another person.   That doesn’t mean God approves of war, nor should we.   Yet the Bible is replete with examples of God leading his people into war against God’s enemies. I have a hard time equating making war against those who reject justice, especially God’s justice, and the crime of premeditated, malicious killing.   I am also conflicted by remembering that, one hundred years ago, incompetent generals, out of touch with the weapons of their day, unleashed wholesale war carnage on Europe over something that was little more than an extended family feud. It became systematic murder.

Murder, like adultery or stealing or lying, is something that is forbidden in every culture, whether every culture believes in God or not. As an offense against God, it is an offense against society. Don’t believe that?   Look at Sicily, or Somalia, or northern Mexico, or even Chicago.   Wherever murder goes unpunished, vengeance and anarchy rule. Is it any stretch, then, to think that, wherever feelings of malice, hatred, anger, jealousy, or rage rule, so there also is a place of murder as well?

You decide for yourself.   Just like on Election Day. Yes, I’m glad this primary season is over.   Just go vote already and stop the character assassination. There is a better way.

Lord, forgive me of the murder in my heart.

 

Read Exodus chapter 10, locusts and darkness…