hurry to help

accuracy afternoon alarm clock analogue

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Psalm 38:21-22

Psalm 38:21 Yahveh, do not abandon me; my God, do not be far from me.

Psalm 38:22 Hurry to help me, my Lord, my salvation.1

It is a terrible thing to get the point in life where you think even God could abandon you. The psalmist was a spiritual man – a theologian. He knew that God could not. But he felt that God could.

hurry to help

This is the end of the psalm. No happy ending. We are left to assume that this frantic prayer of a desperate person was answered. Logic tells us that it was, or else the song would not have been written. But the aim of this psalm is not to simply tell a story. If that were the aim, we would expect a conclusion. No, the aim of this psalm seems to be didactic. It teaches us how to pray when we desperately need God to come to our rescue.

Do you feel the distance today? Does it seem that God is far from you, and you desperately need him nearer. Pray. He is there, and he is listening.

Lord, do not abandon us; our God, do not be far from us.

Hurry to help us, our Lord, our salvation

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1subscription: For the choir director, for Jeduthun.

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Public Acknowledgement

An Eagle Eye and Mountain Experience Were The Keys

Piers Fuller
Stuff

[Jason Diedrichs knows the Tararua Ranges like the back of his hand.  Many owe him their lives.  Unfortunately, this past week this was not to be the case.  But a family was released from the curse of never knowing what happened to a loved on in one of New Zealand’s most hauntingly beautiful, yet dangerous national parks.  JD and his colleagues are especially public spirited souls and exceptionally knowledgeable and skilled at what they do.]

Jason Diedrichs of Amalgamated Helicopters was the one who first spotted Myers' body.

Jason Diedrichs (“JD”) of Amalgamated Helicopters was the one who first spotted Myers’ body.
Piers Fuller, Stuff

A fleeting glimpse of colour that caught a helicopter pilot’s eye meant a long, agonising wait for family was almost over.

In many ways the conditions could not have been worse during the 11 days the search was on to find missing tramper Darren Myers in Tararua Range.  His body was found at the bottom of a 6 metre waterfall in Arete Stream on Wednesday in an isolated area almost impenetrable by foot .

Darren Myers' wife Kim Shaw, centre, supported by her sister and brother-in-law Debbie and Duncan Styles,were at search headquarters almost every day since the search began on Sunday,  June 2.

Darren Myers’ wife Kim Shaw, centre, supported by her sister and brother-in-law Debbie and Duncan Styles,were at search headquarters almost every day since the search began on Sunday, June 2.
Thousands of man hours went into the search but in the end it was the experience and nous of seasoned helicopter pilots which brought the break everyone was hoping for.

Jason Diedrichs of Amalgamated Helicopters and his co-pilot Jamie Hansen had been tasked by planners to do another sweep of the area because of clues that had been discovered in the area last weekend.    The body of Wellington man Darren Myers was found by search teams on Wednesday.
“It was colour that stuck out.  It just looked a little out of place,” Diedrichs said when he saw something tucked away at the bottom of one of the many waterfalls

He said it was a sense of excitement and relief when they realised they had likely found what they had been looking for.  “In this particular search it was just relief because it had gone on for so long. I knew the huge commitment that everyone had put in to try and find Darren.”  It was only a break in the weather on Wednesday morning that made it possible.  We follow the tasking and use a little bit of initiative along the way and the skills that we may have from working in the mountains all the time.”

Searchers believe the body may well have been covered by snow when the first attempt to view the area from air was made on day two of the search.  “Given the conditions we were dealing with early on in the search it would have been easy not have to have seen him,” Diedrichs said.

He made it clear that they were just part of a very large team whose detailed and tenacious work brought about a result.  “There’s a huge commitment by such a lot of people, in particular Land SAR teams and we’re just one phase of a big machine that’s out there looking for anyone in their time of need.”

Diedrichs said having family members at base helped inspire the teams.  “The whole SAR community were probably more affected than sometimes otherwise, purely because he had such a supportive family at the base. It just makes you want to get out there and find him even more.”

Myers’ brother-in-law Duncan Styles said by being there with Myers’ wife Kim Shaw and other family members they felt they could make a contribution.  “There’s no point in having a search if the people who are connected to the guy they are searching for aren’t there.  I quickly realised there was no chance of us putting on a pair of boots and going up and having a look.”

But they realised an encouraging role was what they could do.  He said the family were feeling much better on Thursday knowing what had happened. They rallied together at the family home in Wellington and were able to reflect on good memories even though events of the last fortnight were still raw.

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do not go quietly

photo of standing woman making shhh gesture

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Psalm 38:13-20

Psalm 38:13 I am like a deaf person; I do not hear. I am like a speechless person who does not open his mouth.

Psalm 38:14 I am like a man who does not hear and has no arguments in his mouth

Psalm 38:15 because I put my hope in you, Yahveh; you will answer me, my Lord, my God.

Psalm 38:16 You see, I said, “Don’t let them be happy over me – those who are arrogant toward me when I stumble”

Psalm 38:17 because I am about to fall, and my time of anguish is constantly with me.

Psalm 38:18 So I confess my violation; I am anxious because of my sin.

Psalm 38:19 But my enemies are vigorous and powerful; many hate me for no reason.

Psalm 38:20 Those who repay evil for good attack me for chasing after good.

do not go quietly

The psalmist has sinned and does not feel worthy of deliverance. In fact, he is ready to remain mute before God and take his punishment, even if his fall is to the death. But something changes his mind. He thinks about those enemies of his who are also enemies of his God. The thought is that his downfall and ultimate disgrace will give those enemies more ammunition in their war against God.

So, he who was content to fade away without words decides to open his mouth and confess his violation. God gets more glory when the sinner repents and the door is opened for restoration.

If you think you have offended God and you are on your way out, don’t go quietly. Come back to him with a confession. God does not want to destroy you. He wants to restore you.

Lord, we choose to come back, not to go quietly.

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full disclosure

praying man looking up

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Psalm 38:9-12

Psalm 38:9 Master, my every desire is in front of you; my sighing is not hidden from you.

Psalm 38:10 My heart races, my strength leaves me, and even the light of my eyes has faded.

Psalm 38:11 My loved ones and friends stand back due to my affliction, and my relatives stand at a distance.

Psalm 38:12 Those who intend to kill my soul set traps, and those who want to harm me spoke out to destroy me; they plot treachery all day long.

full disclosure

The misery the psalmist had expressed in yesterday’s section (3-8) is now repeated as another prayer to God. Why do this? It is not that God does not know what is going on. Verse nine makes that clear. But notice that God is being addressed as master. The servant turns to the master for help, because only the master is empowered to help.

In the same way, we have to get over our awareness of God’s omniscience, and learn to regularly come to him in prayer. Recounting what is going on in our lives is more than just therapy. It is an expression of faith. God can read the hidden sighs, but he wants us to come with him with full disclosure anyway. When we confess not only our failures but also our needs, we are inviting him to be our rescuer.

Master, Our sighing is not hidden from you. Come and rescue us!

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The Power of Laughter and Ridicule

Un-Woke John Cleese Lights Up Twitter

David Marcus
The Federalist

John Cleese, of “Monty Python” and “Fawlty Towers” fame, has been stirring up a bit of controversy. Last month, he went on record saying that he no longer views London as an English city as a result of immigration and cultural change in the English capital. Cleese, who left England last year to take up permanent residence in the Caribbean, is not backing down from the comment. In fact, he’s lighting up Twitter, to the dismay of the woke.

In a series of tweets over the last few days and in his typical dry and wry fashion, Cleese has taken aim at the idea that race, and other things such as sex, are simply social constructs. The undercurrent is the idea that we simply can’t say things that are demonstrably true anymore lest someone, somewhere, take offense.

John Cleese

@JohnCleese

True. Many folk believe there’s only one sex too

I’ve also hear there’s a lot to be said for the idea that the North pole and the South pole are virtually indistinguishable

Everything’s on a spectrum now. And quite right, too

So that should settle our differences

Eric Bjerke, Sr.@ebjerke
Replying to @JohnCleese
Actually, just this year, Croatians supplanted the Dutch as the tallest. Also, lots of people here talking about “race” (what’s new), but don’t we agree these days that there is only one race? (not talking about a popular feel-good quote, but actually that there is one only.)

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John Cleese

@JohnCleese

We are the same height

The difference between us is merely a social construct

ladyd@cuddlycrow
Replying to @JohnCleese
Well, this is all so confusing. Wonder now since Michael Palin is British and so are you, then why is he so much shorter than you? or is it that you are taller then he is?

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John Cleese

@JohnCleese

I have been assured by some geneticists that the idea of ‘race’ is purely a ‘social construct’ that has no basis in reality

Good news !

But I think they should inform the Institute of Race Relations, as this may
make it harder for them to pursue cases of racial discrimination

9,763

In looking back over his storied career, it is easy to see why Cleese would be nervous about the politically correct bent of our current media and society. Much of his own comedic work from the late 1960s and early 1970s would appear terribly offensive if viewed through the lens of today’s identity politics.

In “Fawlty Towers,” the lovable bellhop Manuel was played by German-born British actor Andrew Sachs with a stereotypical Spanish accent and a distinct lack of intellect. Such a broad-brush ethnic character played by a white actor would certainly be out of bounds in today’s media environment.

Likewise, in in the Monty Python movie “The Life of Brian,” while playing a revolutionary Cleese mocks Eric Idle’s character, Stan, for wanting to become a woman called Loretta. Stan, or is it Loretta, says he (or she), wants to have babies, prompting Cleese to inform him (or her) that he or she doesn’t have a womb, then asking if the fetus will gestate in a box. This again clearly runs afoul of today’s progressive positions on gender and would likely never make it on stage in a movie today.

Cleese is not the only British comedian clashing with the censorious nature of today’s progressives. Stephen Fry of “Fry and Laurie,” and the best Jeeves to ever appear on screen, teamed up recently with Jordan Peterson to debate political correctness against Michael Eric Dyson and Michelle Goldberg.

Fry quite correctly knew he would catch a lot of grief for appearing with Peterson, whom some on the left believe to be a dangerous bigot, but just before the debate Fry said, “I wanted to appear with someone from a different side of the political spectrum, if you can put it that way, in order to express, as much as anything, just a sense of worry.”

Fry is right to be worried, and so is Cleese. Fry is not without his own fraught comic history, as one episode of his “Jeeves and Wooster” series contains multiple scenes featuring blackface. What both comedians have realized and are worried about is that we cannot have a productive society in which anything that offends people cannot be spoken.

It will be interesting to see if Cleese continues to pursue this line of inquiry on Twitter. The platform itself lies at the center of much of the debate about free expression, and Cleese and Fry both use it with much aplomb. Free speech can’t have too many champions, and in Cleese and Fry it has two who are as beloved as they are hilarious.

David Marcus is the Federalist’s New York Correspondent and the Artistic Director of Blue Box World, a Brooklyn based theater project. Follow him on Twitter, @BlueBoxDave.

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when justice is too much

orange leaf on chainlink fence

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Psalm 38:3-8

Psalm 38:3 There is no soundness in my body because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin.

Psalm 38:4 For my violations have flooded over my head; they are a burden too heavy for me to bear.

Psalm 38:5 My wounds are foul and festering because of my foolishness.

Psalm 38:6 I am bent over and brought very low; all day long I go around in mourning

Psalm 38:7 because my insides are full of burning pain, and there is no soundness in my body.

Psalm 38:8 I am faint and severely crushed; I groan because of the anguish of my heart.

when justice is too much

The psalmist describes how he feels physically and emotionally because of his own failures. He draws a direct link from his present condition to his past sins. He does not blame anyone else – not even God, although he recognizes that his punishment comes from God. The punishment is all the more terrible because it is just. He finds himself in the uncomfortable position of one who must appeal to his own jailer for freedom.

What does one do in such a situation? Hopefully, one learns that God is just but that he is also merciful. The best course of action when confronted with an unbearable punishment one deserves is to appeal for mercy, because our just God is ready and willing to shorten the sentence.

Lord, shower us with your mercy. If we received what we deserve, we would not be able to bear it.

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30 Years Later

Lest We Forget: Tiananmen Square Massacre

William F. Jasper
New American

“Tank man.” One lone individual stubbornly facing down the unstoppable, pitiless machinery of the totalitarian Communist state. On a fateful day, for a few awe-inspiring moments, one anonymous man armed only with a couple of grocery bags halted a column of tanks, briefly stopping an army on a mission of murderous rampage.

As many as ten thousand victims (or more) were slaughtered: machine-gunned, bayoneted, beaten, or ground into pulp under the treads of the army tanks. Tank Man’s unbelievably heroic and unforgettable actions have been immortalized in video and photo images that have been seen by billions of people worldwide over the past three decades.

Tragically, very few of China’s nearly 1.4 billion people have seen these images, however. The Communist Party censors have made sure of that. Like everything else concerning the Tiananmen Square Massacre of June 4, 1989, “Tank Man” has gone down the Orwellian memory hole. His name, his identity, his whereabouts are unknown.
Was he killed, run over by the Peoples’ Liberation Army tanks, as some allege? Was he executed by authorities after disappearing into prison? Was he released from prison after being sufficiently “re-educated” (i.e., tortured and brainwashed)? Only Mao’s heirs in Beijing’s oligarchy can answer those questions.

On June 3, U. S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo called on the Beijing regime to come clean. “We urge the Chinese government to make a full, public accounting of those killed or missing to give comfort to the many victims of this dark chapter of history,” he said in a press statement. “Such a step would begin to demonstrate the Communist Party’s willingness to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms. We call on China to release all those held for seeking to exercise these rights and freedoms, halt the use of arbitrary detention, and reverse counterproductive policies that conflate terrorism with religious and political expression. China’s own constitution stipulates that all power belongs to the people. History has shown that nations are stronger when governments are responsive to their citizens, respect the rule of law, and uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Pompeo’s statement also said: “On June 4, we honor the heroic protest movement of the Chinese people that ended on June 4, 1989, when the Chinese Communist Party leadership sent tanks into Tiananmen Square to violently repress peaceful demonstrations calling for democracy, human rights, and an end to rampant corruption. The hundreds of thousands of protesters who gathered in Beijing and in other cities around China suffered grievously in pursuit of a better future for their country. The number of dead is still unknown. We express our deep sorrow to the families still grieving their lost loved ones, including the courageous Tiananmen Mothers, who have never stopped seeking accountability, despite great personal risk. The events of thirty years ago still stir our conscience, and the conscience of freedom-loving people around the world.”

In China, Great Wall of Silence

“China marked 30 years since the deadly Tiananmen crackdown on Tuesday with a wall of silence and extra security after arresting activists and tightening internet censorship ahead of the politically sensitive anniversary,” the French news agency AFP reported from Beijing. “On a grey, overcast day, police checked the identification cards of every tourist and commuter leaving the subway near Tiananmen Square, the site of the pro-democracy protests that were brutally extinguished by tanks and soldiers on June 4, 1989. Foreign journalists were not allowed onto the square at all or [were] warned by police not to take pictures.”

Wang Dan, who was a 20-year-old student protest leader in 1989, told AFP that he and the other protesters “never expected” the government to react so ferociously. “To open fire on people, that was beyond our expectations,” he said. Wang spent years in prison for his role in the protests and now lives in exile in the United States. Wang Dan continues speak out for freedom and to condemn the Communist Party’s iron-fisted rule in China. However, his alma mater, Harvard University, like so much of the rest of academe, has jumped into bed with the Butchers of Beijing.

Ditto for the moguls of Wall Street and Big Tech. As we reported in December 2017, while Wang Dan was bewailing the increasing Marxist repression on American college campuses, Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates and other U.S. plutocrats were being feted by Beijing’s communist overlords, as they were inducted into the Chinese Academy of Engineering. We reported:

Dr. Wang Dan, a leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests (that turned into a massacre), penned a recent op-ed that appeared in the New York Times (of all places!) lamenting the fact that the communist thought police at many American colleges and universities are almost as prevalent and oppressive as in China. Dr. Wang, who spent nearly seven years in prison for his Tiananmen participation (he was one of the “lucky” ones who weren’t ground into hamburger under the People’s Liberation Army tank treads), writes in his op-ed entitled “Beijing Hinders Free Speech In America” that members of the China Students and Scholars Association, which has chapters at many of our universities, operate as a spying and enforcement arm of the Chinese government. The same can be said for the Confucius Institutes, another gestapo arm of China’s Ministry of Education that enforces CPC orthodoxy on American campuses. In a 2013 article entitled “China U,” in the left-wing magazine The Nation, University of Chicago anthropology professor emeritus Marchall Sahlins stated: “Confucius Institutes censor political discussions and restrain the free exchange of ideas.” And, he asked, “Why, then, do American universities sponsor them?”

Indeed, why? By what twisted moral calculus can such collaboration with ruthless megalomaniacs be justified? Professor Sahlins noted that the Confucius Institutes are “governed by a council of high state and party officials from various political departments and chaired by a member of the Politburo, Vice Premier Liu Yandong.” He charged that American university officials look the other way and pretend not to notice what the Confucius Institute and the China Students and Scholars Association are doing. By hosting a Confucius Institute, Professor Sahlins says, our colleges and universities have “become engaged in the political and propaganda efforts of a foreign government in a way that contradicts the values of free inquiry and human welfare to which they are otherwise committed.”

American academic officials, educators, and business leaders who cozy up to the mass-murdering communist regime in Beijing deserve even harsher condemnation than Professor Sahlins delivered. They have thrown in their lot with the enemies of truth, freedom, and decency. They are engaged (whether fully conscious of it or not) in treason against God and humanity. They are co-conspirators with the Butchers of Tiananmen Square and their successors, who continue to carry out Orwell’s description of merciless, totalitarian rule: “a boot stamping on a human face — forever.”

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remembering the price of sin

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Psalm 38:1-2

Psalm 38:11 Yahveh, do not punish me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath

Psalm 38:2 because your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has pressed down on me.

remembering the price of sin

The psalmist focuses on life at its lowest here. Everything is going wrong. He is a believer in God, but he has sinned, and feels God’s hand of punishment. His body is sick and sore and almost sightless. His enemies are seeking to take advantage of his condition to eliminate him altogether. He feels so ashamed, it is hard to speak. But he must speak, at least to God. He confesses (18).

This psalm contains the note “for remembrance.” One would think that the ordeal it describes is something one would want to forget, not remember. But may that never happen! May we never forget the terrible price of sin. Sin destroys. In the future, sin will destroy the reprobate in hell, and it destroys lives of those who cling to it presently. We need to remember that.

Lord, remind us of the terrible price we pay when we choose to disobey you.

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1superscription: A psalm of David for remembrance.

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Jesus Shall Return!

In their concerted drive into the Pacific, the Japanese army landed on the northern coast of Luzon Island, in the Philippines, on December 10, 1941. The American and Filipino troops were slowly pushed southward until they were concentrated on Bataan Peninsula and on Corregidor Island, near the mouth of Manila Bay. General Douglas MacArthur was on Corregidor Island at the time and he listened to the daily news bulletin every evening via shortwave radio.

MacArthur was one of history’s greatest military orators. When ordered by President Franklin Roosevelt to evacuate to Australia, he made one of his shortest, yet most memorable speeches, a simple statement to reporters: “The President of the United States ordered me to break through the Japanese lines and proceed from Corregidor to Australia for the purpose, as I understand it, of organizing the American offensive against Japan, a primary objective of which is the relief of the Philippines. I came through and I shall return.”

These three small words became the “rallying-cry” of the United States Army for the next few years. They gave courage and hope to millions of soldiers as they fought toward the goal of re-conquering lost territory. They represent the “hope” of MacArthur’s Army. Eventually, on October 22, 1944, the promise was fulfilled. Standing on a small beach in the Philippines, the great speech-maker began a longer oration with the words, “I have returned.”

But it was not Douglas MacArthur who first inspired discouraged followers with a departing promise of his final victory! Over 1,900 years earlier, under orders from his father to ascend to Heaven, Jesus Christ told his handful of disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you … I will come again … “ (John 14:2-3). These words, too, have given rise to a “rallying-cry:” “MARANATHA!” (which means, “Our Lord, come!”). The return of Christ is the hope of the church. One of these days his promise, too, will be fulfilled. Standing on a small hill outside Jerusalem, Jesus will be able to say, like MacArthur, “I have returned.”

The apostle Paul wrote, “But we don’t want you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning those who have fallen asleep, so that you don’t grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we tell you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left to the coming of the Lord, will in no way precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with God’s trumpet. The dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. So we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, WEB).

Paul had founded the Christian Church in Thessalonica, a major city in northern Greece (known today as Saloniki), during a three-week visit there, in AD 50, early in his second missionary journey (see Acts 17:1-9). Considering how short a time he had spent with these new believers, he had succeeded in teaching them quite a lot about their new-found faith, as is evidenced by the number of times he uses expressions like “you know” in his first epistle to them, which we know as 1 Thessalonians. Yet, obviously, there were gaps in their understanding. Bible scholars believe that when Paul’s assistant, Timothy (whom he had left behind in Macedonia), came to visit him in Athens, he brought with him a list of questions to which the Thessalonian Christians needed authoritative answers. The result of their query is the book we call “1 Thessalonians” – probably the first piece of the New Testament to be written by Paul.

One of the questions the Thessalonians asked seems to have been concerned with the condition of Christians who die. Probably no Christians had died during the three weeks Paul had spent in their city, so the question hadn’t arisen then, and Paul hadn’t dealt with it. Now, after the passage of several months, which included affliction and persecution (1 Thessalonians 3:3-4), they had probably had that experience, and were wondering what would become of their deceased loved ones in the future. Would they ever see them again? The Scripture text we are looking at is Paul’s response to that question.

Paul’s answer begins with a strong affirmation of both the importance of their question and the truthfulness of his answer. “We don’t want you to be ignorant … this we tell you by the word of the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:13,15). This is not an irrelevant “side issue” and it is not a matter of personal opinion or speculation! It is a doctrine of vital importance to the “brothers” to whom Paul is writing (1 Thessalonians 4:13) and it is given in the form of a clear revelation from God (1 Thessalonians 4:15).

What is the present condition of Christians who have died? Three times in as many verses (vv. 13-15), Paul uses the expression “those who have fallen asleep” to describe those he later calls “the dead” (v.16). It is clear that Paul, along with all the other writers of Scripture, portrays Christians who have died as being “asleep” – unconscious and inactive – unaware of anything that is going on in the world and unable to participate in it in any way. Since the moment of their decease, they haven’t gone anywhere or done anything, and that condition would remain unchanged forever were it not for God’s revealed plan to intervene and change it!

But there is such a plan! Beginning in verse 16, Paul describes, in sequential order, the events of a day the Church can still look forward to, eagerly and expectantly:

  1. “The Lord himself” (Jesus Christ) “will descend from heaven” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Notice that nothing is said, in this passage or any other, anywhere in the Bible, about deceased Christians (or anyone else) “going to heaven;” rather, the promise is about a living Jesus “coming from heaven” back to this earth.
  2. “ … with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with God’s trumpet” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Where did anyone ever get the idea that this event would be a “secret”? This is a description of one of the “noisiest” events in our planet’s history! Not only is it “loud” but Revelation 1:7 adds that everyone in the world will see it happen as well as hear it.
  3. “The dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). The importance of resurrection (rather than “surviving” the experience of dying) cannot possibly be overemphasized. Paul would later write, in 1 Corinthians 15:13-14, “if there is no resurrection of the dead, … then … your faith also is in vain.” Of course, you have to be dead (not “more alive than you’ve ever been before”) in order to experience resurrection.
  4. “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up …” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). This is the aspect of the event we are studying that gives it the name “Rapture” (the word “rapture” means “being caught up”). Notice that the “Rapture” is not a separate event from the second coming of Christ. It is a part of that same event.
  5. “ … to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). The word “meet” calls to mind a specific tradition in the ancient world: that when a conquering king makes a royal visit to a city he has added to his empire, those citizens of that community who have hoped he would someday rule them would come running out of the city to “meet” him on the road and to accompany him into the city as he makes his triumphant entrance. It would be a misuse of the word “meet” to apply it to a vision of the Church being “raptured” several years before the actual return of Christ.
  6. “So we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). In order to be “with” the Lord, of course, we will have to be wherever he is at the time. Where will that be? The logic of the word “return” implies that he will be on Earth, since one cannot “return” to a place other than where one has been before (remember MacArthur? He didn’t “return” by relocating from Australia to the United States; he “returned” by going back to the place he had earlier left, namely, the Philippines). So if Jesus is planning to return to Earth, then it is on Earth that we will “be with” him “forever.”
  7. “ … comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18). This statement isn’t part of the description of the second coming, of course, but it is extremely important for an understanding of the entire passage. When loved ones die, we are instructed by this statement to use this very Scripture in giving comfort to one another. We are to remind one another of Jesus’ promise to return. We are to look forward to seeing our (formerly deceased, but now resurrected) friends again when he comes (and not before then). We will live eternally with him and them on his beautiful, newly re-created Earth – not in Heaven, where he himself specifically said (John 13:33) it is impossible for us to go.

Think about it!

  1. Why is it important to know what condition the dead are in now?
  2. How is the issue of the condition of the dead connected with the prophecy of Christ’s return to earth?
  3. How can discussion of a future event (the second coming of Christ) bring “comfort” to a bereaved Christian?

In the next chapter, Paul goes on to say, “But concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need that anything be written to you. For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord comes like a thief in the night. For when they are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ then sudden destruction will come on them, like birth pains on a pregnant woman; and they will in no way escape. But you, brothers, aren’t in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief. You are all children of light, and children of the day. We don’t belong to the night, nor to darkness, so then let’s not sleep, as the rest do, but let’s watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep in the night, and those who are drunk are drunk in the night. But let us, since we belong to the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and, for a helmet, the hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-8).

Another question the Thessalonians may have asked Timothy to convey to Paul is, “When will the second coming take place?” This is a question that naturally occurs to anyone who is thinking about an event that is said to be in the future. We want to put things “on our calendar” so we can plan for them and anticipate.

However, Paul introduces his answer to this question with the little word “But” (1 Thessalonians 5:1), indicating a contrast between the vagueness of the answer he is about to give to the “when?” question and the detailed specificity of the answer he had just given to the “what?” question. “Of the times and seasons” he says (to the very same “brothers”), it is totally unnecessary that he should write. Why? Because “you already know perfectly well” (we would say) “that the day of the Lord comes like a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2).

Has your home, or place of business, ever been invaded by a burglar? (Having been through that experience myself, I can assure you that I wish your answer would be “no!”). But if it has, let me ask you another question: did the burglar first warn you that he was coming? Could you have marked your calendar and known when to expect him? Were there even any “signs” to give you a hint that his approach was imminent? I rather doubt it!

In the same way, Paul is telling us that Jesus will return without warning and at a time when his return is not expected. That is quite the reverse of the impression you would get from the flood of books on “prophecy” currently on the market. We are led to believe that the Bible is full of predictions about when Jesus will come and how we will know that the time of his advent is near. If those books are telling the truth, then how is the day of the Lord going to come “like a thief”?

The correct answer is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:3-8, where Paul explains a certain difference in the nature of Christ’s return between how it is to be viewed by believers and how it is viewed by unbelievers. To the unsaved, his coming will be like that of a thief; when they are not expecting him (v. 3), he will suddenly come, and the effect of his coming will be their “destruction.” But to the saved, there will be no “surprise” on the day he returns, since we live in the “light” of the knowledge that he has promised to return. We don’t know when he will come, but we do know how (thanks to 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17), so the day will not “overtake” us like the arrival of a burglar at midnight would.

Think about it!

  1. Does prophecy contain any “clues” as to when Jesus will return?
  2. In what way will Jesus’ coming be “like” the coming of a thief?
  3. Should the actual return of Christ come as a “surprise” to his followers?

The apostle Paul explains to curious Christians the truth about their loved ones who have died: those people are now asleep, awaiting a future resurrection to life in God’s eternal kingdom. They will remain in that condition until Jesus returns. His return will take place suddenly and dramatically, accompanied by audible sounds and visible activity. Deceased Christians will be the first to experience the change, but they will be joined immediately by the Christians who are still alive at the time. Together the entire Church will meet Jesus in the air and accompany him to his throne in the New Jerusalem. “What a day – glorious day – that will be!”

This message should be used to comfort the bereaved in their moment of grief – this message, not the spiritual-sounding platitudes of man-made tradition. Use the Scripture for its intended purpose: not to answer our curiosity about the future, but to encourage us with a hope we can live with in the present!

Remember: “… the Lord himself will descend from heaven …” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

By Dr. John H. Roller

(John Roller currently serves as pastor of First Advent Christian Church in Hickory, N.C., having served in Advent Christian churches in Illinois, Florida, West Virginia and North Carolina. He has also served as Director of Urban/Ethnic Ministries, Resource Center Coordinator and Publications Coordinator for the Advent Christian General Conference)

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A Bonfire Of Vanities To Come

Meet John Durham . . . 

The U.S. Prosecutor Investigating FBI’s 2016 Campaign Spying

Joshua Caplan
Breitbart News

John Durham, the U.S. attorney selected by Attorney General William Barr to examine the origins of the FBI’s investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia, has hit the ground running for answers, according to a report.

Durham, a seasoned federal prosecutor from Connecticut, is “very dialed in” to the sweeping review, reports Fox News, citing multiple sources. Durham has also met with Barr “on multiple occasions in recent weeks” in Washington, D.C. and is posing “all the right questions,” according to the news outlet. Further, the hard-nosed U.S. attorney is said to have already received briefings concerning the “four corners” with respect to the bureau’s use of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants as part of its controversial counterintelligence operation.

“Durham is specifically reviewing the FISA warrant obtained by the FBI to surveil former Trump aide Carter Page, as well as general issues relating to surveillance during the 2016 campaign and matters flowing from the FISA process.
Fox News is told Durham would handle the prosecution of any criminal action he might uncover,” Fox News reports.  Although Barr tapped Durham to lead the inquiry last month, he remains directly involved in the probe.

The investigation is examining intelligence and surveillance used during the Russia investigation that spanned President Donald Trump’s presidency for nearly two years. Barr is working with CIA Director Gina Haspel, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and FBI Director Christopher Wray as part of the investigation.

Durham’s appointment came roughly a month after Barr told members of Congress he believed “spying did occur” on the President Trump campaign in 2016. “I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal,” the nation’s chief legal officer testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee, before adding, “I am not suggesting that those rules were violated, but I think it’s important to look at them.”

Last month, President Donald Trump declared his campaign was illegally surveilled, accusing officials responsible of treason. “My Campaign for President was conclusively spied on,” the president wrote on Twitter.  “Nothing like this has ever happened in American Politics. A really bad situation. TREASON means long jail sentences, and this was TREASON!”

Durham’s inquiry, which will focus on whether the government’s methods to collect intelligence relating to the Trump campaign were lawful and appropriate, is separate from an investigation by Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz. The agency’s watchdog is also examining the Russia probe’s origin, and Barr has said he expects the watchdog report to be done in May or June.

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions had appointed another U.S. attorney, John Huber, in March 2018 to review aspects of the Russia investigation. The review by Huber, Utah’s top federal prosecutor and an Obama administration holdover, is a “full, complete and objective evaluation” of Republican concerns, Sessions said at the time.

Both the inspector general’s investigation and the probe being conducted by Huber are winding down, the person familiar with the inquiries said.

Durham is a career prosecutor who was nominated for his post as U.S. attorney in Connecticut by President Trump. He has previously investigated law enforcement corruption, the destruction of CIA videotape, and the Boston FBI office’s relationship with mobsters. Durham was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in 2018. At the time, Connecticut’s two Democrat senators, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, called Durham a “fierce, fair prosecutor” who knows how to try tough cases.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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