A Parable of Future Kings

Ruling over a kingdom of happy, prosperous people was not something Arndt the Bold ever thought he would do, but there he was, on his bench of judgment, with his royal counselors and dedicated servants, each eager to carry out his will. He knew how to choose excellent ministers. He selected those who reminded him of who he once was. There were often moments Arndt missed those exciting days when everything was new, but he never wanted to repeat them.

Bursting into the throne room was a young child. Running past the guards and royal stewards and onto the king’s lap was his son. “Whoa! To what do we owe this pleasure?” Arndt asked as the boy’s arms squeezed his neck. After a few bounces on the royal lap, the king feigned a serious expression. “My prince, what is it you want? Request anything, Harmon, up to half the kingdom.” (His son’s name honored his beloved elder and mentor, his host in the city and the hero who led their escape.)

“I want to be a king,” Harmon answered.

“My, my, you very well should be one day, but for now…”

“But Daddy,” the boy interrupted, “you weren’t always a king, were you? How’d you get to be the boss?”

“If you must know right now, I can end our business for today and tell the story.” The council was dismissed but none of the king’s officials felt compelled to leave. They all wanted to listen and hear the amazing tale again.

Arndt began, “It was a dark night, black as pitch, but Harmon, your namesake, led me and thousands by torchlight through a secret passage out of the city. We followed a winding path up a mountain and toward a cave. There to greet us were the city’s poor, those who had welcomed and took us in the fellowship into their humble homes. Among them were the elderly, women with babies and too many small children to count. No sooner did we reach the cave’s entrance then the sky lit up. A gigantic ball of fire was falling from heaven. We could make out Leonidas, Jacob and another man, climbing toward us. How glad we were. The brilliance was blinding, but we managed to witness the fireball make a direct hit on the city’s high tower. When it collapsed inwardly, fire went in all directions. The hill was engulfed in flames. We found out later the only section spared was where the town’s poorest people lived; though just those on the mountain survived. The temple, the dark priests’ tower, Regents Hall, the guard’s barracks and the fancy homes of the courtiers and those belonging to the Dark Lord, were all burned to ashes. All who served the evil lords perished.

“In the morning, smoke was still rising from the city’s glowing embers when Leonidas and a man called ‘The Stranger of the Wood,’ summoned everyone. They led in worship as we fell to our knees in thanksgiving and raised our hands in praise. Later we took in every word they said knowing it was from God.

“Leonidas would enter the city of his birth as king. Lady Sharik would be his queen and Jacob would serve at his right hand. A group of survivors would remain to help rebuild the kingdom. One day their hard work would pay off. The city would flourish.

“Then came the anointing. Tongues of fire fell upon the men and women who had been together since before the first steps of the journey. We began glorifying God in a strange language. I found myself talking in the language we are speaking now.

“Our instructions were to find the two members of the fellowship with whom we could communicate and form a triune bond; one a king, one the queen and one the counselor. Of course, the queen was your mother. As soon as I saw her and I knew, even before she uttered a word. Our counselor was your Uncle Leister, our highly esteemed and wise prime minister.

“Leonidas said the counselor would know which of the four winds to follow. ‘From those on the mountain, take the men and women who wish to follow’ (That’s when, with his wife, my old friend Harmon stepped up and took my arm telling me he was with me to the end. And he was.) ‘As you go teach them everything you learned from me. You will be led by the Wind to the people and kingdom speaking your new language. Your speech will come naturally because your origins were among those same people, just as mine beginning was in the city seen now smoldering before you.'”

“Leonidas finished by saying, ‘You did not choose me. You were chosen by the Heavenly Father to bear royal blood. Though a crown and kingdom is your destiny, it will require much for you to gain it. As it was with Jacob and me, it will be with you. The way to your throne is through much suffering. At the depths of your sacrifice, the Stranger of the Wood will appear, then you and those you came to serve will be saved. Those who did evil by holding their countrymen in bondage will be judged accordingly. Be faithful, and you will receive your kingdom.'”

Eyes went to the open door as the queen entered with Princess Maura showing everyone her newly acquired ability to walk. Not ready to join her and in the arms of the queen’s maid was her twin, Prince Leister.

The king returned to his story. “We all knew we would meet again,” Arndt said. “We were part of Leonidas’ kingdom, for as you heard me say many times, he is the king of all kings. What more can I tell? It happened exactly as was foretold. While Uncle Leister and I were being flogged, the man beating us stuffed a letter into my pants pocket. Days later, when I opened the bloody thing, I read his apology. The master of the flogging, revealed he was sorry. but orders were orders. However, he also gave us a record of our royal ancestors and what happened to them. Sadly, he had also drawn a map to show where your mother’s parents, Uncle Leister’s and my father and mother were laid to rest.

“So there you are, my beloved prince. Knowing all this, do you still want to be a king?”

“If I can be king like you, Daddy” Harmon answered, “then, yes, it’s worth it.”

As his family lovingly gathered round him, Arndt sat back and smiled. To himself he said, “Leonidas, and beloved friend Harmon, you taught me well.”

*The End*

What’s on Your Mind?

Who is wise? He will realize these things.

Who is discerning? He will understand them.

The ways of the LORD are right, the righteous will walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.  (Hosea 14:9 NIV)

Even when we think nothing is on our mind, our mind is still there, working overtime. If anyone accuses you of “losing your mind,” you really haven’t. You probably expressed an idea they found unacceptable. It’s time we understood that there is a battle for control of our mind.

What is on your mind? Nothing more than what has been accumulating over your lifetime. Our minds are selective. Tons of information is being created every day, we cannot begin to process it all.  So, as Christians, we must make choices about the info that occupies our thoughts. That is where discernment becomes necessary. What we entertain (discernment) and how we respond to it practically (wisdom) is something over which we have control. Discernment to distinguish the truth from a lie, and wisdom to decide what, if anything, to do with the thought, separates the righteous from the rebellious. The righteous will take charge of what is on their mind and make it obedient to Christ.

Finally, my brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things… And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8, 9b).

Unhealthy and unholy thoughts find their way inside everyone’s head, but like the saying goes, “A bird may land in your hair, but you don’t have to let it build a nest.”

Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life. Set a guard. Protect your mind. Desire truth in the inner being. Direct your mind to things above, not on things below. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are His ways our ways. Yet we should aspire to know the Lord’s thoughts and, like Moses, strive to learn His ways. We have not arrived until we are able to confirm Paul’s declaration: “We have the mind of Christ.”

Circumstances Beyond Our Control

Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor? (Isaiah 40:13 NIV)

Last week, those on Florida’s east coast evacuated to the west coast. Too late on the western side to evacuate, Hurricane Irma surprisingly changed tracks and threatened the state’s Gulf Coast. While southwest and southcentral Florida prepared for the worst, Irma altered her path again and shifted to the east. The idea that man can somehow control natural forces, like hurricanes, or predict what they will do, should be permanently put to rest.

His thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are his ways our ways (cf. Isaiah 55:9).

Our God is the Sovereign Lord. His thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are his ways our ways (cf. Isaiah 55:9). If people affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma did not gain some humility or fear of God, will they ever?

Life is full of ironies. When we feel confident everything is under control, something usually happens to prove otherwise.  Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote, “The best laid plans of mice and men, gang aft aglee [translation often go astray].” Go ahead mice, make plans, but be aware of conditions beyond your control.

Several posts ago, we announced the book The Priests of God would be available by late July or even earlier. We are now a few days from the first day of Fall, and still the book awaits publication. I will not bother with the details except to say our best laid plans gang aglee. Our Sovereign God takes note of the sin of presumption. Assuming we have it all under control is rooted in pride. It is then our God manifests his sovereignty by foiling our plans and thwarting our purposes (cf. Psalm 33:10).

“You ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that” (James 5:15).

When our Lord is satisfied that we do indeed understand who is the mouse and who is the Almighty One, then The Priests of God will go to print. In God’s time, it will find those for whom it is intended.

God willing, I’ve learned my lesson. When circumstances are out of my control, I know who controls my circumstances. Now, who moved my cheese?

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Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor? (Isaiah 40:13 NIV)

Out of My Mind- Part 2

Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. (Psalm 119:165 NIV)

#  Many, like myself, can look in the mirror and find a few things ugly that can be changed. The solution is not to throw away all the mirrors, but to do something about it. If nothing can be done, I must learn to accept it.

The Bible is our mirror for our soul. Will we open God’s word and face the ugliness that lurks within? Then will we bravely do what is needful to beautify our inner being?

Sadly, most avoid God’s “mirror”. They never open the Word or never have a friend who’ll tell them the truth.

Avoiding self-examination is like going to the fun-house and picking the distorted mirror of our choice.  Reading only favorite Scriptures or devotionals that pump us up and build our self-esteem, will never expose the ugly that needs changed. We may end up thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to think, but rather think of yourselves with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given. (Romans 12:3b). Too high of an opinion is no better than too low.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. (James 1:23-24)

#  Step 5 “…requires not only that we admit to ourselves the exact nature of our wrongs, but that we embark on an honest self-evaluation of our faults.” AA’s 12 Steps.

#  Freedom to be you, is the best gift I can give. Helping you to be the best you can be is your best gift to me.

# Am I a Christ-follower? Better to ask someone who knows me well. “You will know them by their fruit?”  (cf. Galatians 5:22-23)

#  Love is never wasted. It may not be returned, but heaven’s reward comes not so much in the receiving of love as in its giving.

#  Am I teachable? Is the person I want to reach teachable? If the answer to both is “no”, then God and I are wasting our time.

Do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces. (Matthew 7:6)  

#  The ultimate test for foolishness: “Do I fear God?” (Psalm 14:1, Proverbs 14:27)

Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself. (Proverbs 26:4)

#  I want to follow you, Lord.

  • Are you willing to carry your cross?
  • Are you willing to drink from my cup?
  • Are you willing to suffer injustice?
  • Are you willing to be despised?
  • Are you willing to forsake all?
  • Are you willing to be considered a sheep to be slaughtered?

Yes, Lord, I am willing.

Out of My Mind- Part 1

A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11)

#  Hurt people, hurt people.

#  Subversion = Attacking the head; Undermining God’s established order; Discrediting or De-legitimizing the one in charge by spreading slander, innuendo and/or discontent.

#  Who is the enemy? The person we have in the cross-hairs, ready to shoot.

#  The problem goes way back. All the way back to the Garden and the Fall.

#  Love covers a multitude of sins. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Love always protects, always trusts, and always hopes. Love always perseveres. Love never fails. If I speak with the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, then I’m only clanging brass (i.e. noise).

#  Commandment #4- “Observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy.”

Commandment #5- “Honor your father and your mother so it may go well…”       (Dishonor= Causing grief, shame, tears and anguish)

#  Forgiveness?-  Yes, always. Unconditional. It’s there before the asking.

Reconciliation?-  Conditional. I’m all for it if there is an acknowledgement of past wrongs.

Restoration?-  It’s possible, but not the usual outcome. If there is restoration it has to be over time. Repentance, as in godly sorrow, has to be tested. Even with that, restoration will never match what could have been. Scars are a blemish on perfection. They evidence that there, indeed, was a wound at one time.

Forgive my I.O.U. I cannot repay.- Yes, absolutely, just as Christ forgave mine. It’s gone.

Reconcile?-  Maybe we can be friendly, but only if you sincerely admit your fault.

Restoration?- In time, we may possibly re-establish a small amount of credit, but only if there has been an effort to earn my trust. Our relationship may never be what it could have been. If you demand I believe in you to the fullest and ignore our past, then I see a red flag.

#  World views. We all have one. What’s my world view based upon? Is it truth and love?

Looking through my everyday prism, what do I see? Love or hate? Trust or distrust? Peace or fear? The content of a person’s character or the color of their skin? Do I see your heart?

#  Obedience is God’s love language. Love the Lord your God = Obey Him and keep his laws.

#  Gatherer or Scatterer? Uniter or Divider? Unity, peace and freedom must be fought for.

#  No individual is greater than the team. Fellowship with His family lives in God’s heart.

#  Accusations = The accuser of the brethren.  Condemnation = Who is he who condemns?

#  The devil is a deceiver (liar, father of all falsehoods) and a murderer (destroyer, father of all hate). It is a package deal. If we open our heart to one of his traits, we must accept both.

#  Love and hate are our inheritance as part of God’s image. Question is this: Does our love reflect His love and do we hate what our Lord hates? The devil perverts love and hate so we have it all wrong: He would have us love what God detests and hate what He deems good.

#  No wounds? No scars? Then I must not have upset the enemy. The devil leaves alone those who pose no threat. Are only good things said about me? Then I should be aware. I must not be any different than the false prophets who spoke only good things. The truth ruffles feathers. With conviction comes an angry look. Plans to meet are cancelled.

#  Battle-ready = Wearing the whole armor of God. (Don’t go anywhere without it.)

#  How many of God’s most trusted and tested servants have been attacked from within their own family? All of them? If so, it must go with the territory.

# # #  Next time, Part 2.

Thank You Jesus

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, KJV).

Thanksgiving is a time to appreciate our LORD’s blessings. Personally, November 29th – December 1 was a difficult few days last year. Today, I would like to share what Yahweh brought me through that weekend.

In an accident at work, November 11, 2013, I received a pilon fracture in my left ankle, shattering my tibia and fibula. The day after Thanksgiving (Nov. 29th), I was admitted to the hospital for a second, more complicated, surgical repair. Due to the swelling, the surgeon had to decide whether I could have the operation on Saturday or wait until Monday. Our Lord works according to His timeline. To our surprise, the door was opened for surgery before noon Saturday.

As I was wheeled into the operating room I silently prayed: ” Lord, I give you my body and place my life in your hands.” When I awoke, it was after 7pm. The doctor was able to do all the needed repairs and I was back in my room by 9pm.

With the operation behind me, I was back home on Sunday, December 1st. I realized God chose the day and the hospital room just for me. Hanukkah, the feast marking the dedication of the Temple of God, began last year on Thanksgiving. My surgery was on the third day of Hanukkah. Three signifies completion and unity. How great is that!

My room number was 719. This was amazing! Studying Israel’s holy days in relation to salvation history is my passion. (The Hebrew calendar is a key in understanding the last days.) The calendar operates in nineteen-year cycles having seven leap years (an additional month) within that time frame, thus 719. God used the circumstances of my accident to confirm that He is with me (Psalms 121:1-3).

No matter how difficult life gets, when we trust in Jesus, we will find plenty for which to thank him. EJ

Interpreting Bible Prophecy, Encouraging God’s People

Right after I officiated at my sister-in-law, Patty, and husband, Ray’s wedding, one of her bridesmaids approached me in a huff. It was many years ago yet I still remember that young lady’s verbal shot at me. It was my confidence that seemed to upset her. During the ceremony I declared that Christ was the only way to salvation. So this young woman proceeded to upbraid me for my intolerance. She was certain there were other roads to heaven for non-Christians. But since when is having assurance that salvation is through Christ alone “wrong”?

Sometimes contemporary Christianity reminds me of the upset bridesmaid: Tolerance is only extended so far. Everything is fine as long as we agree, but do not step out of line.  In regard to our understanding of what the Bible says about the second coming, Christians have our own version of the Taliban.  Dissent is quashed. But how can we arrive at an accurate interpretation of Bible prophecy, if we refuse to gather all the pertinent verses or listen to pieces of conflicting evidence? All admissible facts need to be heard, not just those that support the opinion of the majority.

Do we see why Christians have muddled heads on the subject of the Bible and the future. When it comes to understanding the future, we hear but one side. We tend to submit to the false premises that all true Bible-believing Christians are in agreement or there is only one side that should be heard. In some places, Bible students cannot even broach the subject of the Pre-Wrath rapture of the church or that believers will be called on to endure great tribulation globally in the last days, without being accused of heresy.

That is the way with puzzles. You know it is solved when all the pieces perfectly fit the creator’s theme.

Here’s the best way I know to explain how I know what I know. Each weekend the New York Times Magazine publishes and distributes a challenging crossword puzzle. Across the land thousands of minds go to work to solve this puzzle in as short a time as possible. Some can zip through it in an hour or so. Others, like myself, take quite a bit longer.

Let’s say we challenged an experienced NYT cruciverbalist (crossword solver) about his or her answers. We may get a “What are you asking me that for” type of look. At some point, they would probably tell you that their answers fit. Yes, they are confident because they have discovered what’s in the mind of the puzzle’s creator. That is the way with puzzles. You know it is solved when all the pieces perfectly fit the creator’s theme. Is it to say one is superior because they solved a NYT puzzle? Of course not, but the solvers are confident and exhilarated. It was Archimedes who grasped the physics of water displacement. At his epiphany, he  made the bold but perhaps rash declaration, “Eureka! I found it!” It was as if he was saying, “Problem solved!”

Why am I confident the Pre-Wrath Rapture position is correct? Because I am a puzzle solver and I tell you it fits. (Those who are not puzzle solvers have trouble with this concept.) Other answers do not quite fit regardless how hard one tries or how sophisticated one sounds or how much one beats the table while raising their voice. Simply, it will not come together as designed.

There is great satisfaction in puzzle solving. In my book, “The People of God,” I present twenty-six different clues to prophecy solvers. My goal is not to tell other explorers of the mysteries surrounding the end of this age what to think (i.e. the answers) but how to get in the mind of prophecy’s Creator so they can figure it out. As with math or science, there is only one correct solution.

If this is what you call arrogant, then so be it. I call the one that makes that judgment bigoted and narrow. (Two can play that game!) What would one call dismissing conclusions that were based on hundreds of Bible verses without ever giving them fair treatment? Intolerant is perhaps one descriptive word that comes to mind.