Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Worship and the Word

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The book of Nehemiah not only recounts one man’s mission to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem, but it’s also about the revival of the workers who aided in this monumental task. In chapter 9:2-3 we read that, “2 And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. 3 And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a quarter of the day; for another quarter of it they made confession and worshiped the Lord their God.”

Notice that the great catalyst for their revival was when Nehemiah’s people got serious about God’s Word. This may seem obvious, but worship of God goes hand-in-hand with the Word of God, because it’s impossible to worship a God you don’t know anything about. I mention this is because we are living in the most biblically illiterate time period this nation has ever seen.   

In 2016 Albert Mohler of Southern Seminary, published an article called, “The Scandal of Biblical Illiteracy,” in which he presented the findings of Barna and Gallup nationwide surveys on Biblical literacy among Christians, listen to some of these results—they are astounding:

Fewer than half of all church-attending adults could name the four gospels. Many Church-goers could not identify more than two or three of the disciples. 60% surveyed could not name even five of the 10 Commandments. 82% affirmed that, “God helps those who help themselves,” is a Bible verse. 50% thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife. A considerable number of respondents to one poll indicated that the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham. They also found that a majority of church-goers don’t even bother bringing their Bible because their pastor only mentions it a few times during the sermon.[i]

Pastors today are often judged more on their ability to make a congregation laugh than on the biblical content of their preaching. There is nothing wrong with joy in the house of God, but I wasn’t called to be a stand-up comedian, but to be a ploughman of God’s Word. The more that we substitute the Word of God with other things in the worship the weaker we become.

In July 2010 an astronomer at the University of Sheffield discovered the brightest star known to mankind. The star, currently named R136a1, is 22,000 light years away, has a mass roughly 265 greater than our sun and the brightness of this star is some 10 million times brighter than the light of our sun! Not even a welder’s helmet would help you face the light from this giant! What made the discovery possible was an incredibly powerful telescope that could bring the distant star into focus. The star had always been there, we just recently had the technology to peer across the universe that vast distance and see her.[ii]

Just like those massively powerful telescopes, the Word of God brings into focus the God of the Word. The Bible is the lens through which we see God’s infinite greatness, glory and goodness. God has always been there—but the Bible magnifies our understanding of God to see what we’ve never seen before and to make Him up close and personal. You can tell revival has come when the people of God have a hunger for the word of God. -DM

[i] Albert Mohler, “The Scandal of Biblical Illiteracy: It’s Our Problem,” 20 January 2016
[ii] Johnathan Amos, “Astronomers Detect Monster Star,” BBC News, 21 July 2010

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Biometrics and the End Times

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A recent news item caught my attention. The headline read, “Wisconsin Company to Install Rice-sized Microchips in Employees.” The article reported that a Wisconsin-based tech company, Three Square, started offering its employees microchip implants that can be used to scan into the building and purchase food at work. CEO Todd Westby said in a company statement rather prophetically, “Eventually, this technology will become standardized allowing you to use this as your passport, public transit, all purchasing opportunities, etc.”[1]

This kind of biometric technology has been in existence for a while. One of the emergent technologies that came out of the 9/11 attacks was a company called VeriChip. As first responders sifted through the rubble for the bodies of victims and survivors, many firefighters and policeman wrote their badge numbers on their bodies, should they become victims. One tech company saw a way to help solve this problem in the future. What if a small RFID (radio-frequency-identification) chip could be placed under the skin, which contained personal information—name, blood type, SSN, etc. By 2004 the FDA approved the VeriChip, a rice-grain sized microchip that can be implanted under the skins of humans and preloaded with all kinds of personal data.

As technology progresses at lightning-fast pace we see biometrics becoming more mainstream.  In the UK, students pay for their lunches by giving a thumbprint scan. They simply place their thumb on the scanner and funds are withdrawn from their prepaid lunch account set up by parents.[2]

Just a few days ago Apple announced the release of its newest smartphone, the iPhone X. The new top-of-the-line model, coming in November, uses your facial features to unlock the phone as well as to authenticate purchases through Apple Pay. Apple calls its flavor of facial recognition Face ID. One article said, “If the idea of unlocking a phone with your face seems creepy, you better get used to it. Facial recognition is here, and it will only be more prevalent in the years to come.”[3]

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The student of Bible prophecy should track these technological developments with Rev. 13 in mind. In that chapter, we get a glimpse of the Antichrist’s evil empire; where in order to participate in the end-time economy one must first receive “the Mark of the Beast.” Rev. 13:16-17 reads, “Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.”

If the tribulation citizens will not worship the Antichrist willingly, then he will force them to bow the knee by hitting them where it hurts the most—their bank account. The people alive during the Tribulation will be forced to make the following choice—either receive the mark of the Beast and worship the Antichrist, or starve to death with no ability to buy or sell.

What is significant is that for the first time in history man has the technological prowess to achieve the marriage of biometrics to an economic market. 50 years ago, it was nearly impossible for anyone to imagine how one man could take the reins of power by controlling people’s purchasing power. But now, with all the technology we have in our digital devices we can see that much of the necessary infrastructure is already integrated into our daily lives. People accept the technology as part-and-parcel of what it means to live in the 21st century, which will make it easier for the Antichrist and False Prophet to go ahead and implement their system in a seamless transition. 

Bible scholar Ron Rhodes says in his book End-Times Super Trends, “Biometrics technology goes hand in hand with our emerging cashless economy…I believe this will be one of the technologies used in the end times as the Antichrist seeks to control who can buy and sell during the tribulation period.”[4]

We are on the cutting edge of having all the technology that the Antichrist and False Prophet need to wire this world together for their evil purposes. The world stage is being set for their appearance and the final act of God’s divine drama is about to begin. That means that the rapture of the church and the coming of the Lord Jesus is getting even closer! Are you ready?


[1] Mary Bowerman, “Wisconsin company to install rice-sized microchips in employees,” USA Today, 24 July 2017
[2] Ron Rhodes, End-Times Super Trends (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2017), 204.
[3] Jefferson Graham and Edward C. Baig, “Facial recognition: iPhone today, tomorrow the airport?” USA TODAY, Sept. 14, 2017 < https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/talkingtech/2017/09/14/facial-recognition-iphone-today-tomorrow-airport/664000001/>
[4] Rhodes, 204.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


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The day after Great Britain declared war on Germany in 1939, the British government established the Ministry of Information. Its mission was to generate materials to sustain the nation’s morale during World War II. One of the Ministry’s first projects was a series of three posters. Each design was similar in style and appearance, all featuring the king’s crown at the top followed by a forthright slogan in simple font.

The first sign bore this motto: YOUR COURAGE YOUR CHEERFULNESS YOUR RESOLUTION WILL BRING US VICTORY. Nearly 1 million of these signs—white letters on a blue background—were printed across the land. The second sign featured a green background with white letters proclaiming: FREEDOM IS IN PERIL DEFEND IT WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT. About half a million of these were printed and tacked up in bus stops, train stations, shop windows and billboards.

The MOI then designed a third poster and printed millions of them, but these were warehoused and intended for distribution only if the war fell into dire circumstances. In other words, this poster was only to be used in the case of a German invasion of British soil. The sign featured a stark white font against a red background and carried the message: KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON.

Britain was spared invasion and the order was given to destroy these signs. It is believed that most of the KEEP CALM posters were reduced to a pulp at the end of the war in 1945. But, a few years ago, Stuart and Mary Manley—bookstore owners in England—bought a box of old materials at an auction. As the Manley’s sorted through the purchase, they pulled out a striking red cardboard poster with the KEEP CALM slogan printed on it.

The Manley’s didn’t recognize its significance, but they liked it so much they had it framed and hung behind the cash register of their store. Customers were strangely moved by the simple words and began asking for copies, so the Manley’s had replicas made. The slogan began appearing on mugs, T-shirts, towels and many other accessories.

As the motto spread across the country, the story behind the poster came out and the KEEP CALM message became a sensation. A simple sentence, crafted but unused by one generation during a time of peril, seems almost prophetically intended for another generation facing terrorism, economic crisis and natural calamities. The BBC has speculated that the iconic KEEP CALM sign might be the greatest motivational poster in history, for its stoic message is timeless.[1]     

The KEEP CALM posters remind me of God’s dramatic deliverance of the Israelite’s at the Red Sea. With the Red Sea before them and Pharaoh’s army bearing down on them from behind, Moses and company were trapped. They were in an impossible situation. That’s when Moses said to the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm” (EX. 14:13-14, NLT).

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Do those words reverberate with you right now? Our Enemy may invade our turf, we may have battles on every side, we may live in turbulent times, but we can fix our faith on God. We cannot solve every problem, cure every hurt, avoid every fear, but we can leave room for God.

I don’t have the answers to every dilemma, but I know the One who can make a way! If you’re in a difficult place, perhaps you need to entrust the problem to the Lord and leave it in His hands. He alone can storm the impregnable, devise the improbable and perform the impossible. He alone can bring you to it, and bring you through it! -DM  

[1] David Jeremiah, “Keep Calm and Carry On,” Turning Points, May 2013, p. 6-9. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Wrong Turns

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On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife, Sophie, visited Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia. Awaiting the visiting royal couple were six Bosnian-born Serb terrorists, strung out along their route. They were seeking to avenge Austria’s recent annexation of Bosnia, which once had been part of the long-vanished Serbian Empire.

A terrorist threw a hand grenade at the open car carrying the archduke and his wife, but the grenade only wounded members of the archduke’s entourage. Later that day, the archduke, and his wife decided to visit the wounded in the hospital. En route, the driver took a wrong turn and, in the course of backing out of the street, came to a stop in front of a sidewalk cafe where one of the frustrated assassins, 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip, was getting drunk.

Astonished at his opportunity, Princip stepped out of the crowd and fired two shots. The first severed the archduke’s carotid artery, and the second hit his wife’s abdomen. Both died within minutes. This event precipitated WWI as allied nations declared war on each other. Four years later, more than sixteen million people were dead from the World War ignited by that assassin.[1]

But it can all be traced back to a wrong turn. Big events of history swing on small hinges. Wrong turns can lead to tragic consequences—even death. That’s why the Bible warns in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

The tantalizing prospect of misadventure which takes us out of God’s will comes in all shapes and sizes—that mid-life crisis which brings on years of regret; the ill-advised investment which ends in financial ruin; the moment of unguarded pleasure which leads to an adulterous affair; the move and job switch that throws a monkey wrench into the next five years.

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One thing is for sure, the most expensive trip you’ll ever take is a detour from the will of God.  
Just ask Abram. When Abram was on his way to the land of prosperity that God had promised him, he decided to take costly bypass south into the land of Egypt (Gen 12:10-13:4). Abram should have checked with God before he took the turn leading south. The Lord could have warned him of the impending disaster ahead. What followed from the patriarch’s blunder was collateral damage which ultimately changed the course of history and caused problems for Abram that plagued him the rest of his life.

Instead, Abram returned from Egypt with baggage that he would regret for the rest of his life. Everything that Abram received in Egypt later caused him trouble. Because of the great wealth he acquired from Pharaoh, Abram and Lot could not live together and had to separate (13:5-6). Hagar, the Egyptian maidservant that Pharaoh gave to Abram brought division and sorrow into the home (16:1-16). Abram attempts to build a family through Hagar. This was not God’s plan. Hagar becomes the mother of the Arab nations. Sarai becomes the mother of the Jewish nation. Today, we live with the international tensions between these two countries, and the origin of the struggle goes back to Egypt.   

When a saint sins, they can be forgiven and given a fresh start, but the Lord does not magically remove the consequences of our detours. Abram would rue the day he thought it a good idea to turn his caravan south. That is why we must count the cost before we decide to take detour.


[1] Gregory J. Wallace, “The Wrong Turn That Changed a Century -- and Still Haunts Us Today,” Forbes, 27 June 2014 <https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesleadershipforum/2014/06/27/the-wrong-turn-that-changed-a-century-and-still-haunts-us-today/#617a6f165e16> 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Calling Fear's Bluff

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In one of his books, Max Lucado, writes about an infamous bandit who preyed upon travelers in the days of the Old West. Black Bart struck fear in the hearts of many along the Wells Fargo stage line. From San Francisco to New York, his name became synonymous with the danger of the frontier. Between 1875 and 1883 he robbed 29 different stagecoach crews. Amazingly, Bart did it all without firing a shot. Because a hood hid his face, no victim ever saw his face. He never took a hostage and was never trailed by a sheriff. Instead, Black Bart used fear to paralyze his victims. His sinister presence was enough to overwhelm the toughest stagecoach guard.[1]

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Black Bart is reminiscent of another thief, who still lurks in the shadows. Even though you’ve never seen his face, you could describe his voice. When he’s near, you know it in a heartbeat. Jesus gave us a mugshot in John 10:10, “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.” Satan uses the psychology of fear to paralyze God’s people and rob us of our peace, joy and strength.

However, I have noticed a pattern in the Devil’s strategy—behind every fear is a falsehood. Our Enemy deploys lies in order to create dread, anxiety and worry; each of which undermine our faith in God. In fact, someone has said that F-E-A-R is nothing more than False Evidence Appearing Real. Satan is a lion with no teeth (1 Peter 5:8), a serpent with no fangs (Rom. 16:20).  

Think about it: when you’ve sinned and blown it Satan uses this lie, “It’s over. God can never use you again. There’s no recovering from this one.” When you’re sick and laying on your back in the hospital Satan whispers, “Do you really think God loves you? If He did then why are you suffering?” When you are in a financial pinch and you don’t know how you are going to make it, Lucifer the liar intimidates, “I guess your God is up there asleep. Your stuck in a deep pit, don’t even try praying. He won’t hear you.” Fear is a liar and we must call it's bluff. 

Our Enemy looks for the cracks in our foundation and wherever he can drive in a wedge of fear he can divide our mind and control us. I have discovered that fear is really all about control. Satan uses fear as a means of control—he makes us afraid so we won’t trust and obey God.  

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Thankfully, the Lord has an answer for fear—love. His love is greater than anything you could possibly fear or that could possibly happen to you. 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. . .” Believing God’s love gives us courage. It doesn’t just give us courage when we stand before Him after we die, but every day of our lives as we face uncertainties and questions, changes and challenges on the road of life and making decisions about the future. God’s love gives us courage because we know He has our back. There is nowhere we can go, there is no decision we can make, there is no failure we can experience, or any problem we will encounter that God won’t be there to help. -DM

[1] Max Lucado, The Applause of Heaven (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1990), 77-78.