Europe’s Most Hopeless People

Europe is a hopeless place, filled with hopeless people.  That’s something that most tourists have no clue about.  They come from places where there are jobs and plenty of money.  They see the majestic Eiffel Tower, the famous tower of Big Ben, the historical Colosseum in Rome, and the romantic canals of Venice.  They take pictures and go home thinking that they have seen Europe.

Trivia: Few have actually seen Big Ben because it’s the name of the clock’s bell

Trivia: Christians were fed to the lions in the Circus Maximus, not the Colosseum because it was a bigger venue and open to all, so it served as a warning not to join the Christians.  The Colosseum was only open to the nobility and was where the Gladiators fought to the death.

The tourists might have had their pockets picked or seen (or most likely tried not to see) beggars in these beautiful places.  If they were brave enough to ride the buses, trains, trams, or subway, they may have smelled someone near them who doesn’t use deodorant.  These tourists go home thinking that they have seen Europe, too.

But the reality of Europe (or any place for that matter) can only be truly known by living here.  Life in Europe is hard, and it’s hardest on immigrants.  Americans must learn how to navigate ancient bureaucracies that are full of rules that make no sense—that’s just the way it’s done.

The Europeans have a love/hate relationship with America.  They love our movies and TV shows, and the fact that we come in and spend money here, which boosts the economy.  But they hate our loud and often obnoxious presence.  America is the land of comfort and convenience, the land of efficiency and practicality.  Most of Europe is none of those things.  So when Americans come and complain loudly about the realities of Europe, it angers Europeans, who may wish that you would just quietly spend your money and go back to America.

The biggest difference between America and Europe is that Americans are an optimistic bunch.  Even the most pessimistic and negative American is more optimistic than the average European.  In a word, Americans have hope.  Europeans have mostly given up hope.  This hopelessness is what makes Europe “by far the most secular, least Christian” continent on earth, (Operation World, page 79).  Europeans love our optimism, love the fact that we smile a lot, but they consider Americans naïve.

Here are some of the most hopeless groups of people in Europe (and probably in the world):

The Roma

There are Roma (gypsies) throughout Europe, and they are the most universally hated group of people by far.  The Roma are not all lazy beggars and thieves, as most people think.  In fact, they are quite industrious.  However, because the majority of them have no legal documents, they cannot materially participate in European society.  They can’t get jobs, so they create their own work.  Some Roma are business owners, employing their family members.  Others pick and sell flowers, wash windshields at traffic lights, or play music on the subway—all of which are forms of begging.  Some of the gypsy girls visit the alley door of restaurants and shops, begging for food or money in exchange for sex.  Some sit outside of churches, grocery stores, and cafes, begging.  Some have broken and set their legs in crazy ways or amputated their legs, giving themselves a “beggar’s pay raise.”  And, yes, some of them break into houses and steal whatever they can carry away.

Most of the Roma could not integrate into the rest of European society even if they wanted to.  Their lack of legal documents also means that even if they have the money, they can’t buy or rent property.  So they live in camps at the edge of town.  Some camps are worse than others, but none of the camps are a place you would want to go, much less to live.  Roma hygiene is practically nonexistent, even if the facilities are available to them—and often they are not available.  Every Roma camp is the third world.  Just outside the beautiful European cities that attract so many tourists are Roma camps: Paris, London, Rome, and Venice all have their Roma camps.

But the biggest barrier to integration is the Roma family, itself.  At the head of every Roma family are the patriarchs, the grandparents.  All family issues are decided by the patriarchs, and all money is brought to the patriarchs to administer.  Roma family values are so foreign to the rest of us that it makes them a frightening mystery to most people.  Understanding Roma family values will help you understand the Roma.  In a nutshell, the family is everything to the Roma, and you serve the family, the patriarchs, by bringing them money.  You might think, well my family is important to me, too.  But here’s some examples of Roma family values at work:

  • Sending your daughter (or son or wife) out to sell herself as a prostitute brings money to the family, so that’s a good thing.
  • Paying to ride the bus, train, or subway takes money away from the family, so that’s a bad thing.
  • Passing your children around among the adults of the family to be used like sex toys trains them for prostitution, which will bring in money, so that’s a good thing.
  • Passing up an opportunity to steal something when no one is looking won’t bring money to help the family, so that’s a bad thing.
  • Selling your child either to traffickers or to black market human organ dealers brings money to the family, so that’s a good thing.

On that last point, the Roma are always happy with pregnancies because one way or another, they will find a way to bring money in to the family through that child.  Do they love their children?  Love doesn’t really enter into Roma family values.  Money is really everything for them.

The Homeless of Budapest

When I was in Budapest, I wrote about the homeless in my book Look, Listen, Love.  Budapest has an estimated 30,000 homeless people (Operation World, page 403).  The homeless people that I saw didn’t beg for money.  All over Europe, and indeed the world, homeless people beg for money.  But not the homeless of Budapest.  They have lost hope.  They sleep in doorways and in the entrances to the subway.  There are so many of them that the city seems to have given up hope of helping them.  So the police don’t chase them away when they camp in a doorway, in the park, or in the subway entrance.  I guess that’s help of some sort, but not much.

The Orphans

But the Roma and the homeless of Budapest, although hopeless, are not the most hopeless group of people in Europe.  The most hopeless people are the orphans of formerly Communist Central and Eastern Europe.  I met 1 just this week.

Mary came with a missionary family from Romania that stayed with me.  She is the nanny to their 4 children.  They are discipling her even though she hasn’t yet made a decision for Christ.  They had to be very careful talking about her because although Mary doesn’t understand English, the children are bilingual.  Little pitchers have big ears, and they also have big mouths!

What I understood between the lines is that Mary grew up in an orphanage.  Most orphanages in the formerly Communist countries keep the children under very tight control.  So they grow up sheltered, but not loved.  Mary had never seen an elevator before.  She had no idea how the thing worked, and preferred to take the stairs instead.  When I was introduced to Mary, I did as with any introduction:  I smiled and offered my hand to shake.  Mary turned her gaze from my smiling face and reluctantly took the hand.

Mary clearly loves the children, especially the oldest, Sally, who is 7.  She told the mother that Sally loved and accepted her when nobody else would.  I suspect that Mary feels safer with someone who is younger and still quite small.  Because she had never experienced love, she found it very hard to believe that anybody, the family, me, or even God could love her, only Sally.  It is very much an issue of trust.

What I know about orphanages in the formerly Communist countries is what I learned from Stella’s Voice, a missions organization that goes to Moldova and rescues orphans, and Nefarious, a documentary about human trafficking, and from talking with missionaries who work with prostitutes.  Orphans, particularly girls, need rescuing because when they reach their 18th birthday, the orphanage gives them a bus ticket and a little money, and they are left on a bench at the bus stop.  The traffickers know this and come by to take the girls and set them up into a life of prostitution, usually in Western Europe.  Since they have no skills and no life experience, the girls go along without a thought.  Sometimes the orphanage directors will encourage the girls to “be friendly” with the traffickers even before they must leave the orphanage.  In this way they learn that their only value is sexual.

With the ever-present children, I never was able to learn very much specifically about Mary’s life.  All I know is that she is 29 years old, though emotionally I would put her more at 12.  She has been with the family for 4 years.  She has heard the Gospel and attends church with the family, but has never made a declaration of faith.  The mother, who is also Romanian, told me that Mary’s inability to trust has at times made her so difficult to live with that she almost gave up on her.  But the Lord told her that he put Mary into her home for a reason.

When you think of Europe, please remember that the beautiful places you’ve seen in pictures are only a small part of the reality.  Europe is desperately in need of missionaries.  There are some countries with almost no Christian presence—and that presence is hardly Christian, being either steeped in worship of the Madonna or loaded up with traditions that include curses for sale from the priest.  Please pray for missionaries to answer the call to serve in Europe.  Pray for the missionaries and pastors of Europe who have been laboring for years to bring in the final harvest.  And if the Lord is calling you to come serve Him in Europe, please be obedient and answer that call!  God is good, but there is no time to waste.  The Day of the Lord is upon us.

Hopelessly Devoted to Him

I know it seems like I go on and on about the Rapture, but the thing is that I know it’s coming soon, and like a young bride, I can hardly wait for that day.

I don’t listen to anything but Christian music, and without a TV, I spend my downtime watching sermons of my favorite preachers on YouTube.  I hardly go to movies at all these days because I’ve found that I am very easily upset by violence or offended by bad language or people acting like sin is an acceptable way to live.  Understand that I’m not judging anyone (they will have to stand before the Judge of us all someday), but since I don’t hang around those kind of people in real life, I find it impossible to be entertained by them without my heart being offended.

So it’s funny, but today I was thinking about the Rapture again.  And a song came to me, but not a Christian song.  It’s not even a song that I particularly like: Hopelessly Devoted to You from the musical, Grease.  I like the musical, but that song!  Let’s face it: that song is sappy—it defines sappy.  Olivia Newton John as Sandy goes into the backyard in her nightgown and sings about how lovesick she is despite the bad treatment she’s gotten from Danny (John Travolta’s character).  Really, it’s enough to make Pollyanna throw up.

But despite all that, it really describes my state of mind.  Just like Sandy I’m “out of my head, hopelessly devoted” to Jesus.  I constantly think about the day that He will come and take me away.  And that’s not because my life is so bad, it’s not.  In fact, I couldn’t be happier or in a better place.  Well, not on earth, that is.  I guess Heaven is the only thing missing.  So I go on, doing my work for Him, dreaming of the day that we’ll be together forever.

Today’s Word from the Lord is John 14:12-14: “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it.”  That’s an awesome promise!  And it happens to be in the same chapter as a Rapture passage.  In verses 2-3, Jesus says: “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.”

I’ve moved a lot in my life (every 5 years on average), and most of them have been long distance moves.  Most of the time I was happy where I was living, but looking forward to the next place.  Now I have broken the lifelong pattern with my move back to Milan in 2010.  This is the first place where I have ever moved back to, and it’s the first time that I’ve lived for more than 7 years in one place.  I love Milan.  I love my friends here.  I love my apartment.  I love my neighborhood.  I love my ministry.  I love my life.  I’m very happy here.  But I’m looking forward to the next place.

So with moony sighs and lovesick tears, I resemble a teenager in love as I wait for my wedding day when I’ll fly away.  God is good!

The Edict of Milan

I recently attended a conference, calling itself an “alternative conference to those applauding Emperor Constantine and the signing of the Edict of Milan.”  This year marks 17 centuries since Emperor Constantine signed the Edict, legalizing Christianity in the Roman world.  It’s called the Edict of Milan because he signed it here in Milan.

On the surface, it seems like the Edict was a good thing for Christianity.  After about 300 years of persecuting and exterminating (feeding Christians to the lions, soaking them with oil and lighting them as torches, and crucifixion), instead of ending Christianity, it had continued to grow.

Constantine was no fool.  He decided that if you can’t beat them, join them.  So that’s what he did.  Was he sincerely converted to Christianity?  Only God knows, but probably not.  The Edict was a political move to bring Christianity under government control—the opposite of the Biblical model, in which the government is under the control of God.  The result was the ritualization of what had until then been Spirit-inspired rites (the Lord’s Supper, for example).  And little by little through these rituals, the human doctrines replaced Biblical soundness (infant baptism and praying to saints, for example).

On December 8, 1854 the Immaculate Conception became a doctrine of the Catholic Church—a fact that many Catholics are unaware of.  Many Protestants don’t realize that the Immaculate Conception is not about the sinless purity of Jesus, it’s about His mother, Mary, being born sinless.  Of course, if Mary was a sinless, divine person, then Jesus could never have died for our sins.  The only way that He could die in our place is if He was 100% human in body.  If you’re interested in reading more on the subject, here’s a link:  Immaculate Conception.

Ironically, the Edict, which was called the “Edict of Tolerance,” gave birth to a new anti-Semitic form of Christianity: Replacement Theology (link for those interested in knowing more about that).  Before the 4th century, Christians were very much aware of their Jewish roots.  But with the government-controlled version of Christianity, came a way to control the Jews.  Despite having been scattered all over the known world, the Jews continued to grow in population and most refused to convert, but remained Jewish.  Replacement Theology basically says that God gave up on the Jews and turned His attention and affection onto the Christians, instead.  Of course, this doctrine shows a basic lack of understanding about God: He is not a man and He does not change His mind (Numbers 23:19).  God is more than able to love Christians while still loving the Jews.  It’s like being a parent.  My sons are as different from each other as brothers can be, but I can and do love each of them equally.  If I, as a flawed human mother, can love my children equally in their differentness, can’t God also love both the Christians and the Jews?  Of course He can!

There were professors and clerics (Catholic, Evangelical, and Jewish), docents and intellectuals that spoke at the conference.  They spoke on their particular areas of expertise, and in the end we were given the opportunity to sign a petition declaring repentance and true tolerance for the Jewish people and for the State of Israel.

Recently, I have lost some friends.  These are Christian people who disagree with me on the true nature of grace.  They have decided to stop being friends because I believe that grace does more than save your soul.  (You can read more in my blog posts: Stop Complicating the Simple Things, Gracious Grace, Dis-Graceful Conduct, Generous Grace, and Blessed Reassurance, Part One.)  I wanted to agree to disagree—extending grace to them—but they were unwilling.  One of these former friends showed up at the conference, and was so surprised to see me there that when I greeted her warmly, she smiled and kissed me back.  Then she scurried away from me, ostensibly to find a seat, and never said another word to me.  This is at a conference about a new declaration of tolerance?  I tried not to let it hurt my feelings, but I am human, and I did have genuine affection for this person.  She used to be my cell group leader, for crying out loud!

This morning, the Word that the Lord gave me is Isaiah 65:17: “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth.  The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.”  In meditating about this verse, I realized that God isn’t saying that we won’t have the ability to remember, but rather that we won’t have the motivation to remember.  It’s like when you’re on vacation in a beautiful, tranquil place.  It’s not that you don’t remember the stress of your daily life, it’s just that there’s no motivation in that setting to do so.

Promised Land

In considering these things even further, I remembered a sermon I heard by Chuck Missler in which he described this world as a digital simulation of the real world: An Extraterrestrial Message.  I recommend watching that sermon (follow the link) because it is one of the most amazing explanations of the proof that the Bible is a supernatural book.  His point is that Heaven is a more real reality than this world.  I really like Chuck Missler because he’s unashamedly and unapologetically both Christian and intellectual.  The 2 are not mutually exclusive!

I understand very well why the Bible says that all creation groans to be set free from the bondage of decay (Romans 8:21-22).  I am groaning for it, too!  I look forward to the day when all these injustices (as with the Edict) and misunderstandings (as with grace) are a thing of the dim past that is not worth remembering.  God is good!

Pray to Him While He May be Found

Venice

 

That’s me in the pink hat, singing and praising God

“Therefore let all the faithful pray to You while You may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them.  You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance,” (Psalm 32:6-7).

Friends, if it seems like I am writing a lot about the Rapture lately, it’s only because God keeps bringing the Rapture to my mind.  Honestly, I can only think of one reason why He would do that: because the time is short.  I was surprised by this verse because I’ve read through the Psalms many, many times, but I don’t remember ever reading anything in there about the Rapture.

Pray to God while He may be found!  In the midst of the post-Rapture chaos it is going to be difficult to calm your heart and pray, and even more difficult to hear His voice.  The antichrist will arrive on the world scene with powerful demonic deception.  He is already in the world today, and already very well-known among the world’s decision-makers.  He’s ready to step in and “solve” the world’s problems and restore order.  [I’m not going to name any names here, but with a little research, you can discover the one man in the whole world who fits all the prophecies.]  The Catholic Church is probably going to tell people that there has been a mass abduction by aliens.  And the antichrist is probably going to claim to be Jesus, the mahdi (Muslim messiah), and an alien.

I know!  It sounds like science fiction!  It is surreal just to be writing this.  But when you see all this happen, remember where you read it and when.

Pray to God while He may be found.  But what should we be praying?  Jesus told us what to pray:

Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees.  When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near.  So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.  Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.  But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.  For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.  Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man,” (Luke 21:29-36 NKJV, emphasis mine).

We should be praying that we may be counted worthy to escape the Tribulation.  It’s going to get really ugly.  Christians will be beheaded for their faith.  And many will take the Mark of the Beast out of cowardice (see The Damned Cowards!).  Are you ready to have your head cut off for your faith?

Besides praying, we should be diligently doing the work that God has given us to do.  God has given each of us a task to do for the Kingdom.  If you’re too busy to do the work that God has given you, then you’re too busy.  I’ll bet you’re never too busy to watch TV, check Facebook, or play computer games.  Keeping you busy is one way that the enemy keeps you ineffective as a Christian.  He will sometimes have you do a whole lot of “Christian” work in order to keep you from doing that one thing that God has called you to do.  Often we agree to do things to which we are not called just because we don’t know how to say no.  Go over your calendar with God, and ask Him what things you need to quit doing.  Then have the courage to quit those things.  People will complain.  They will say that you’re letting them down.  They will try to put a big guilt trip on you.  I know because I did this.  It’s really hard.  You might lose some friends.  But keep in mind that it’s more important to be faithful to God.

Keep your eyes on the prize!  Remember that it’s not your works that save you, but laziness could cost you your head.  Stay focused!  Pray to God while He can still be found.  And never forget: God is good!

The Damned Cowards!

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur.  This is the second death, (Revelation 21:8, emphasis mine).

The first few times that I read Revelation 21:8, it just didn’t sink in.  Take a good look at who leads the list of people that are destined for hell: cowards!  When it finally dawned on me that cowards are going to hell (along with murderers, idolaters, liars, and the rest of the nasty crew), I wondered why.  After all, aren’t they already scared?

Then the Lord reminded me that courage is not about not having fear.  Courage is facing down the fear and triumphing over it.  Courage is not allowing fear to stop you when you know what you should do.

Courage is something I see every day in the missionaries and pastors of Europe.  While the rest of the world treats them as irrelevant, these brave men and women—and whole families, even!—take their faith to the nations.  Many of them have sold all their possessions to enter into the mission field.  Some have suffered hardships that have cost them dearly: health, marriages, and family death.

The cowardly are the ones who go to church, but don’t obey when God calls them to ministry.  In their amazing book, Experiencing God, Henry T. Blackaby and Claude V. King wrote that God invites you to join Him in work that He’s already doing, and that God’s invitation leads to a crisis of belief.  Joining God in His work requires major adjustments in your life.  But the thing that was hardest for me when I was working my way through Experiencing God was the chapter titled “Joining God Requires Obedience,” and especially the section titled “The Cost of Obedience.”

I was fine with obedience costing me, personally, but when I got to the subsection titled “Cost to my Family for me to do God’s Will,” it stopped me cold.  This was 1997, and I was a housewife and stay-at-home mom.  My family was more important to me than anything else on earth.  How could I ask my family to suffer and sacrifice for my answer to God’s call on my life?  Of course, at the time, I didn’t know what God’s call on my life was.  And if I hadn’t counted the cost—including the cost to my family—I might never have known.  God might have deemed me unsuitable for service if I had chosen my family over serving Him.

Baby Steps

God took me along in baby steps.  I didn’t jump into missionary service right then.  Later in the book, it asks the question: What work is God inviting you to join Him in?  When I prayed about that question, I remembered that I had been asked by another mother to help put together a children’s church program.  The church had been through a very bitter split just before I moved there, and the children’s program was a casualty.  So Sunday mornings consisted of great music, great teaching and preaching, but absolutely nothing for the children.  While the adults enjoyed the sermon, the children all around me colored pictures, ate candy, and went out to the bathroom with a frequency that far exceeded the needs of even the tiniest bladder.  So I called this woman and we met to pray and plan for putting together a children’s church program.  We had so much fun, both with each other and with our own children, that really the hardest part of all had been making that initial phone call.  That phone call had taken courage.

One day as I was showering I had an idea for a children’s program.  I was living in New England at the time, and there the kids had a week off from school, usually in February, and it was called Winter Break.  Many times, winter break put a strain on working parents, who then had to scramble to find someone to watch the kids while they work.  If they didn’t find someone, they simply had to take time off work for that week.  My idea was a one day Winter Carnival at which the kids could play games, win prizes, and learn about Jesus in a fun atmosphere.  My immediate reaction was “What a fantastic idea!” and on the heels of that thought was resistance because it was going to be a huge task to put it together in just a month’s time.

Having recently been through Experiencing God, I knew that an idea that great for sharing the Gospel together with my feeling of resistance meant that this was really God’s idea.  So I called the pastor and told him the idea.  He loved it, and told the elders about the idea.  They also loved it.  Before I knew it, people were calling and volunteering time, volunteering resources, and volunteering to help.  In the end, I had only a small part to do in planning, most of the set up, implementation, and clean up was done by others.  I had so many volunteers and so many resources that in the end, I couldn’t take any credit for any of it.  The biggest thing I did was call the pastor with the idea that God had given me.  And all that the phone call took was courage.

I knew at the time that children’s church was a temporary call, but I had no idea that God had a much bigger call on my life.  Two years after Experiencing God, and having Him change my life through service in children’s church, I got the big call.  But even the big call happened in small steps for me.  That story is too long to place here, but it is recounted in detail in my book, Laughing in My Dreams.

The point is that as I showed myself to be faithful in smaller things, God gave me bigger things.  The biggest obstacle to overcome was my own resistance.  That’s not to say that there wasn’t resistance and obstacles from other quarters.  There was.  But once I made my mind up, it was easy to overcome those things.

When I moved back to Italy as a missionary, I had a strong call of God upon my life, and my own determination to follow that call.  People on both continents told me that I am a very brave woman to have moved to Italy alone.  At first I thought that they just didn’t know how scared I am at times.  But then I realized that courage is not the absence of fear.  Courage is going ahead despite the fear.  And you know what I learned?  Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”  What I learned in facing down fear is that fear flees when faced with determined action.

As many of my readers know, the End Times is on my mind a lot lately.  In reading Revelation 21:8 again, I realized that there will be a lot of people who take the Mark of the Beast, knowing that the Bible says not to.  In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Antichrist made that mark the number 666, just to snub his nose at God.  I have heard that several non-believers are reluctant to take a microchip into their hand because they recognize that it sounds like what Christians say will happen.  Those people who take the Mark knowing that they shouldn’t, will do so because they don’t want to be beheaded.  They are cowards.  They will end up in the Lake of Fire because they chose temporal comfort over eternal security.  And really, the only reason why they would do that is because they just don’t love God.

Don’t be cowardly!  Stand up for your beliefs.  We will overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and by the Word of our Testimony.  And never forget: God is good!  He will give you the strength and the joy to go through whatever you must go through.  Yes, joy!  The joy of the Lord is your strength.

Blessed Reassurance

Part Two

Pre-Tribulation Rapture

If viewed from an historical Jewish point of view, the evidence for the Rapture to occur before the Tribulation is overwhelming.  Also overwhelming is the venomous response that some people have to the idea of a pre-tribulation Rapture.  Between those 2 things, I almost feel intimidated about trying to present it all here in a way that will make sense.

Nevertheless, I will attempt to do so because I believe that it is very important for believers to be ready.  Those who have been following my blog know that recently I fasted for 21 days, putting the question to God: “Given that these are the End Times, what should we be doing to be prepared for what comes next?”  It was during that fast that I became aware that the Rapture is likely to be “what comes next.”

To begin with, there is a lot of misinformation on the internet about the End Times.  Every wacko theory is broadcast on the internet from Obama being the antichrist to the “mark of the beast” being to worship God on the wrong day of the week.  Because the things written about the End Times in Daniel and Revelation are so fantastic, many people take them as allegorical.  Some of those same people take Noah’s Ark, the Burning Bush, and Jonah in the Fish (see my recent post A Pipsqueak and a Fish Story) as being literal, yet they say that the future things are allegorical.  That kind of inconsistency doesn’t even make sense!  If any of the Bible is untrue, then all of it comes into doubt—especially given the usual things that have been recorded in the Bible (like fire from Heaven that burns up a soaking-wet offering).

So, future events recorded in the Bible are to be taken every bit as literally as past events.  In other words, when the Bible says that we will be “caught up” to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17), that’s exactly what it means.

Some people don’t believe in the Rapture at all, simply because the word rapture isn’t in the Bible.  It’s true.  The word rapture is not in the English language Bible, but that word came from the Latin Vulgate.  In the original Greek Bible, the word is harpadzo (pronounced har-POD-zoh, and written ἁρπάζω), and means to seize, carry off by force; to seize on, claim for one’s self eagerly; to snatch out or away.  The Latin version translated harpadzo as rapiemur, from the root rapio, meaning to seize, snatch, carry away.  So although the word rapture doesn’t appear in the English translation of the Bible, the concept is clearly there, and it seems like it would be perfectly acceptable to translate Paul’s word harpadzo as rapture.

The next problem that people have with the Rapture is that they confuse it with the Second Coming of Jesus.  The Rapture and Second Coming are different events.  I can understand the confusion, but let’s look carefully at the differences between the Rapture and the Second Coming:

“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am,” (John 14:2-3).

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.  For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.  According to the Lord’s Word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord Himself will come down from Heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever, (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).

Those 3 passages describe the Rapture.  The Rapture is all about the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.  The words from John: “I go and prepare a place for you, and I will come back and take you to be with me,” are what the bridegroom tells his bride in the Jewish wedding ceremony.  Here is a link to an excellent video that shows the Jewish wedding ceremony and explains the connection with the Rapture: The Rapture Revelation.  There is a connection, and it’s important because you must remember that Jesus was a Jewish man speaking to Jewish people.  So when He these Jewish men: “I go to prepare a place for you,” they understood that He was speaking to them as their Bridegroom speaking to His Bride.

Rapture deniers and others who don’t believe in a Pre-tribulation Rapture say that there won’t be a secret Rapture.  It won’t be a secret when it happens.  I heard a prophecy that when we are caught up through the devil’s territory (remember, he’s the prince of the power of the air), there will be an EMP effect.  Follow the link for that prophecy: EMP Effect at the Rapture.

The following are passages that describe the Second Coming of Jesus:

On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.  You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel.  You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah.  Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with Him.  On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness.  It will be a unique day—a day known only to the Lord—with no distinction between day and night.  When evening comes, there will be light.  On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter.  The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and His name the only name, (Zechariah 14:4-9).

Immediately after the distress of those days, “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.”  Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in Heaven.  And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.  And He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other, (Matthew 24:29-31).

Where the confusion comes is with this trumpet in Matthew and the trumpet mention in both 1 Corinthians and 1 Thessalonians, above.  Here’s a link for a video that explains the difference between these 2 trumpets: The “Last Trump” Explained & Revealed.

There is also confusion with the last part of that passage in Matthew, which sounds like the Rapture.  However, it can be explained by understanding the Jewish harvest cycles.  The harvest isn’t one single event in Israel, but a series of events.  First they take a part of the field that has ripened the fastest—usually from the center of the field.  That goes to the Temple, and it is called First Fruits.  Then is the general harvest, but they leave the corners because of what is written in Leviticus 23:22: “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, neither shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger. I am the Lord your God,” (AMP, emphasis mine).  The very same is repeated in Leviticus 19:9.  So they leave the corners until after the poor have had a chance to gather what they need.  Then they harvest the 4 corners, and that is the harvest alluded to in Matthew 24:31, the very last part of the harvest: “He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”  To see a great illustration of how the Jewish harvest cycle ties in with the Rapture and the final harvest, see Are There Really Over 7 Rapture Scenarios?

Something interesting that most people overlook is the fact that the book of Revelation is chronological.  We can know that by the frequent use of the word then in the book of Revelation—54 times in the NIV.

To sum things up, there are some vast differences between the Rapture and the Second Coming, which I’ve put below:

Rapture—Comes suddenly and without warning (Matthew 25:13)

Second Coming—Preceded by many signs, including the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem (Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 11:1-2)

Rapture—Believers will meet Jesus in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17)

Second Coming—Jesus returns to the Mount of Olives to meet believers on earth (Zechariah 14:4)

Rapture—Mount of Olives remains whole (no change is noted at the Rapture because Jesus will not come all the way down to touch the earth)

Second Coming—Mount of Olives splits when Jesus touches down on it, forming a valley east of Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:4)

Rapture—Believers get glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:53-54)

Second Coming—Bodies of remaining believers are unchanged (no such change is noted at the Second Coming)

Rapture—Faithful go to Heaven (Revelation 19:6-9)

Second Coming—Believers return from Heaven in glorified bodies, earthly believers (living Tribulation Saints) remain on earth (Revelation 19:14)

Rapture—The world is not yet judged (2 Thessalonians 2:6-12)

Second Coming—The world is judged and righteousness is established (Revelation 19:17-20: 15)

Rapture—The Church is saved from God’s wrath (Isaiah 26:20)

Second Coming—Remaining believers have endured the wrath (Matthew 24:22)

Rapture—Only the saved are involved (Matthew 25)

Second Coming—Everyone is involved (Matthew 24:30)

Rapture—Satan remains free (Revelation 18)

Second Coming—Satan is bound for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3)

Since the Rapture and Second Coming clearly are different events that do not occur at the same time, this would rule out a Post-Tribulation Rapture scenario.

Lately I’ve been waking up with the Rapture on my mind.  I believe that it will be soon.  And this morning I asked the Lord if He had a Word for me today.  I turned to Zephaniah, and here it is, with the section title:

The Day of the Lord Is Near

“Be silent before the Lord God!  For the day of the Lord is near; the Lord has prepared a sacrifice and consecrated His guests,” (Zephaniah 1:7, ESV).

Be silent before the Lord!  The Lord has consecrated His guests!  Sounds like a wedding to me!  God is good!

Putting Unemployed Angels to Work

One really nice thing about not having a television is that I have gotten out of the habit of zoning-out in front of the idiot box at the end of the day.  And let’s be honest, there are a lot of things on television that are not faith-building.  In fact, there are far more unchristian and even antichristian programs than there are Christian programs.  Ask yourself this: if I wouldn’t let my children or grandchildren watch this, then why am I watching it?

Instead of television, what I do is spend time with friends, read a book, or watch sermons on You Tube.  Instead of only hearing 1 Bible-based message a week, I hear as many as 10.  The Bible says: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God,” (Romans 10:17, NKJV).  So if I have a lot of faith, that is why—I’m hearing the Word of God daily.  And do you know what?  That gives me more of an appetite for the Word of God, which gives me more faith.  It’s a righteous cycle.  Hallelujah!

This morning I was praying for Europe, my mission field.  My fellow missionaries understand the burden I feel for Europe because each of us feels that for our respective mission fields.  It’s not a burden in the way that most people think of burdens.  Rather, it’s a deep longing and desire to pray and to keep bringing Europe’s people before the throne of God.

So as I was praying this morning, the Holy Spirit reminded me of something I heard in a sermon recently.  The sermon was about calling on angelic help.  “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14, emphasis mine).  There are billions of angels.  A third of the angels rebelled, including a cherub named Lucifer, and became fallen angels, also called demons.  Matthew 18:10 makes it clear that each child has a guardian angel.  So if there are over 7 billion people currently alive on planet earth (check out: World Population Clock), then that means that there are billions of angels.  In addition to the guardian angel that each of us has, there are messenger angels (like Gabriel), warrior angels (like Michael), and worship angels (like the ones around God’s throne).  And the angels have ranks: angels, archangels, princes, thrones, etc.

So, given that there are literally billions of angels, outnumbering the demons by 2 to 1, then there are a whole lot of angels ready to help us.  But they’re mostly idle because we haven’t asked God to send angels to help us.

Note: Never go directly to the angels, themselves.  They take their orders from God.  If you ask an angel to help you, you will unknowingly be inviting a demon to interfere in your life.  Whereas God must be invited to act on your behalf, demons will push their way into the slightest opening that they are given.  If you’re curious about the purpose and position of angels, read the first chapter of Hebrews.

Often I am saddened by the spiritual state of Europe.  Operation World says that Europe is “by far the most secular and least religious continent,” (pg. 79).  On top of that, there are not anywhere near enough missionaries to bring the Gospel to every part of Europe.  My organization, European Faith Missions, in partnership with GoMissions, is working to remedy that situation by offering an online bulletin board for matching missionaries with serving opportunities in Europe.  But Europe has failed to capture the imagination of most Christians.

Americans think of Europe as a wealthy place because that’s where rich people go on vacation.  The reality is that there is a much bigger gap between rich and poor here, and there is practically no middle class in most European countries.  Moreover, the third world can be found in every gypsy camp throughout Europe.

I am very aware that the clock is ticking down to the end, and it’s very near.  So, inspired by the Holy Spirit, I prayed for angels to help in the task of spreading the Gospel throughout Europe.  On Judgment Day we won’t be judged for our sins because if we’re Christian, then Jesus has already paid the full price for our sins at the cross.  But we will be judged for our works.  Don’t misunderstand that as meaning anything like salvation by works.  Each of us has been given spiritual gifts and work to do for the Lord.  On Judgment Day we will receive the reward for our work.

No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.  It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.  If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.  If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.  1 Corinthians 3:11-15, emphasis mine

Salvation determines where we will spend Eternity, our work on earth determines our reward for Eternity (read the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30).  Do you know what our reward is?  God told Abraham: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your Shield, your very Great Reward,” (Genesis 15:1, emphasis mine).  Our reward will be how much facetime we have with God.  Each time I experience the presence of God, it leaves me wanting more.  His presence is our reward, and how much we get to experience of His presence in Eternity will be determined by how faithfully we carried out our work here on earth.  Remember how the people begged Moses to put a veil over his face because he shined too much with the glory after talking with God (Exodus 34:29-35)?  Well, I believe that the same glory that caused the people to avoid Moses will attract the people to us in Eternity.

But it’s not the people that interest me so much, but being in the presence of God.  That’s where I want to spend my time in Eternity.  I want a Great Reward!

If Christians fail to answer the call of God to come to this mission field, I will call the angels to do their work.  And those of us who answered the call will have our Reward.  God is good!  And His presence is the best Reward I could ever get!  He is my very Great Reward!  Hallelujah!

Rapture!

The Rapture has been on my mind a lot lately.  I believe that it is going to be soon, probably within the next 2 years.  Here’s how the Rapture is going to work:

The Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever, (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

What an exciting time to be alive!  But also, how dreadful it will be for those left behind.  I don’t believe that there will be a single church (of more than 20 members) that will be completely taken away.  The ones left behind will be comprised of those who danced around the edges of Christianity, liking the music, liking the people, perhaps even liking the message, but who had never made a personal commitment.  Also among the ones left behind will be those so-called carnal Christians.  Those are the ones who prayed the prayer of salvation, they attend church regularly, and honestly believe themselves to be Christians, but their lives do not bear fruit.  These people probably have a fish on their car and pray before meals, but there is no real evidence of a change in their heart.

There will also be those who became Christians, but then changed their minds.  They may have been enticed away by the so-called pleasures of the world or they may have just bailed when trouble came.

In the parable of the 10 virgins, Jesus clearly stated that not all of us will be carried away in the Rapture:

At that time the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the Bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The Bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: “Here’s the Bridegroom! Come out to meet Him!” Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.” “No,” they replied, “there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.”

But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the Bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with Him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. “Lord, Lord,” they said, “open the door for us!” But He replied, “Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.” Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour, (Matthew 25:1-13, emphasis mine).

Oil is symbolic of the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  Notice how the foolish virgins think that they can borrow the anointing from the wise ones?  There are those who hang around with people who are more spiritual than they are, thinking that their anointing will rub-off onto them.  It won’t.  The anointing can only come from a personal experience with the Lord, and that will only come with commitment and surrender.

Those left behind are not necessarily going to hell, but they will have to go through the Tribulation, which will be the most terrible period in the all of earth’s history.  They will remember what they have learned about the Rapture, and they’ll know what happened to the rest of us.  At that time, many of them will finally make a real decision for Christ.

The enemy (the antichrist) is going to deceive the whole earth.  His powers of deception will be so strong that even committed Christians will have a hard time not falling for his lies (Matthew 24:4-5).  In fact, such deceptions are already being set up, with people investigating how the ancients built the pyramids and Stonehenge.  Some of these people have said that the ancients had the help of alien technology.  They have concluded that these aliens inhabited the doomed island of Atlantis.  These conclusions are supported by the writings of Edgar Cayce.  Some people claim that Jesus was an alien.  The antichrist will explain the Rapture away by saying that we were abducted by aliens.  I assure you, there is no such thing as extraterrestrial aliens.  Do not be deceived!  If the devil can appear as an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), then he can easily disguise himself as an alien.

The Antichrist will have supernatural powers, make no mistake about that.  But the source of those supernatural powers will be the devil, himself.

The secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the One who now holds it back will continue to do so till He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of His mouth and destroy by the splendor of His coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved, (2 Thessalonians 2:7-10, emphasis mine).

Because he will have supernatural powers, people will believe what he says, no matter how ridiculous.  He will likely claim to be the reincarnation of Jesus or Jesus returned to earth.  Jesus will not return to earth until the end of the Tribulation, which will take place over a 7 year period of time.

At some point, the antichrist will require all the inhabitants of the earth to receive a tattoo, or more likely an implanted microchip into their right hand or forehead that will allow them to buy and sell.  That is the mark of the beast:

It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666, (Revelation 13:16-18, emphasis mine).

Those who are left behind who don’t take the mark of the beast will be beheaded—if they are caught:

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the Word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years, (Revelation 20:4, emphasis mine).

Notice I say if they are caught.  My advice to those left behind: make a commitment to live for Jesus, and find a remote place—hide!  But if you must choose, have the faith and courage to lose your head for Jesus (literally!).

Best of all, make a commitment now!  I have written about missing flights and trains because of divine appointments (see I Missed the Train and Chapter 11 of my book Laughing in my Dreams).  But believe me, this is one flight you do not want to miss!  God is good!

Looking for An Answer

Day Twenty-One

I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what He will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright— but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness—indeed, wine betrays him; he is arrogant and never at rest. Because he is as greedy as the grave and like death is never satisfied, he gathers to himself all the nations and takes captive all the peoples, (Habakkuk 2:1-5, emphasis mine).

One of my prayer partners said that while praying for me, the Lord had indicated Habakkuk, which is only 3 chapters long.  So I read it, then read it again.  Then I listened to it on my audio Bible, and listened to it again.  This is what the Lord wants me to do with the answer: write it down.  Make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it—the modern version of which is of course, the internet.

Habakkuk, like me, wanted an answer.  He asked his question in chapter 1, and then in chapter 2 (see above), he stationed himself on the ramparts.  A rampart is a defensive structure.  It is the outer wall of a castle or city.  From the rampart you can see any enemy that is coming long before they actually arrive, so you have time to get your defenses ready.

And here also I find my answer.  My question is: these being the End Times, what comes next, and how should we be preparing for it.

The Answer: the enemy is coming with great deception.  Station yourself on the ramparts.  Watch and listen.  Be alert.

Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies! You will be filled with shame instead of glory. Now it is your turn! Drink and let your nakedness be exposed! The cup from the Lord’s right hand is coming around to you, and disgrace will cover your glory, (Habakkuk 2:15-16, emphasis mine).

Jesus warned us about deception in the End Times in Matthew 24:24: “False messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect,” (emphasis mine).  Deceiving the people who are already deceived is one thing, but to deceive even the elect—the people Jesus chose for Himself, that’s powerful deception.  Yes, Jesus chose you:

You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in My name the Father will give you, (John 15:16, emphasis mine).

We have been lulled to sleep by the media invading our very houses.  Think about what you are watching!  Shows like Big Brother encourage people to form alliances against each other, and even to have sex outside of marriage.  There are shows depicting all sorts of living arrangements that defy the Biblical definition of marriage.  And even Christians watch these things and have begun to accept them as “normal.”  How many depictions of murder have you witnessed in the name of entertainment in the past month?

This is how hearts become hardened, not all at once, but gradually, like a stalactite, one drop at a time.  When is the last time you walked out of a movie that offended you?  When is the last time you turned off the TV because the message was contrary to the Word of God?  Even the news is spun with an anti-Christian message.

You’ve got to do something now because when the antichrist comes with all the devil’s power of deception, you’ll be already primed to believe him.  Your ramparts have been broken down.

But the situation is not hopeless.  Begin today, now, to seek God.  Be alert.  Shut off the noise of the world and listen for His voice.

Sometimes people—believers!—say things to me that indicate that they think I’m some sort of super saint.  I’m not!  I’m an ordinary person.  The only difference between me and any other Christian is probably just a matter of surrender.  When I had nothing left to lose, I surrendered the little that I had left.  It wasn’t easy, but I’ve never regretted it.  In fact, my only regret is that I hadn’t surrendered sooner.  It would have saved me a whole lot of trouble.  So don’t dismiss what I’m saying by thinking that you have to be a special person.  You are a special person, chosen by Jesus, Himself.  To believe otherwise is to buy into the enemy’s deception.

The Rapture is imminent, right around the corner.  Don’t be left behind!  Things are going to get really bad after that.  Christians will be beheaded for their faith (Revelation 20:4).  Be alert!

Look, Listen, Love was God’s message to me for the Faith Trip I needed to take in order to follow Him more closely.  Look at what is going on around you.  Listen for His voice.  Let Love be the motivation behind everything you do.  Station yourself on the ramparts and watch.  Stay focused.  God is good!  He has given us a way out!

Putting Your House in Order

Day Nineteen

I am very excited because I am close to the end of my 21 day fast, and I know that my answer is coming soon!  My question, as regular followers of my blog know, is this being the End Times (everyone agrees): what comes next, and how do we prepare for it?  And I’ve been asking not only for an answer for myself, but for a spirit of revelation so that the whole Body of Christ can know.  What good would it do, if only I know and it’s not confirmed by others?

So, with my answer pending in just 2 more days, one thing has been on my mind lately: the Rapture of the Church.  Oh, the unspeakable joy of being carried away (that’s what “rapture” means) to the wedding chamber with Jesus!

But something has been dampening my joyful anticipation: my sons are not walking with the Lord.  Both of them made decisions for Jesus, but have been seduced away by the world’s pleasures.  I know from my own experience that Jesus really does leave the 99 and go looking for the lost sheep because I was that lost sheep.  He came looking for me when I was not looking for Him.  He knew that I was ready to come back before I ever imagined that I was.  (If you didn’t read that story, here’s the links: Gotcha! And Gotcha! Part 2.)  So I have real reason to hope that they will have a similar experience.

But will they have it in time for the Rapture?  I certainly hope so.  If not, then they will have to go through some really terrible stuff, with no guarantee that they will survive.  So I have done what I can to help them through those days, if they remain here.  I have written them a letter, which I will print out and put with my important papers.  They will know where to look for it.  In the letter, I have explained what has happened with all the disappearances.  But I feel certain that they will already know what’s up.  I made them beneficiaries on my bank and investment accounts.  That will save them from having to go through the long waiting process of Probate Court.  I wrote a list of those accounts so that they will know where to go.  I also included instructions for getting through the next seven years, which are going to be really tough.

Some people think that we have already entered the Tribulation, but we have not.  The Tribulation starts with a peace agreement with Israel in which they will be allowed to rebuild the Temple.  As of this writing, that hasn’t happened yet.  That peace agreement will be put forth by the Antichrist, a world political leader.  There is no single world political leader yet.

Some people think that the Rapture won’t happen until the last trumpet of Revelation.  But that’s just not right.  I’ve been studying this, well, OK, studied on You Tube, but with some discernment, it’s easy to tell what’s right and what’s unsupported conjecture and pure nonsense.  Here is a link to the best Rapture explanation I’ve heard: Rapture Video.  And here is a link to another really great Rapture explanation: Rapture and the Church.

The world after the Rapture is not going to be nice at all because up to now, the Holy Spirit has been restraining the evil.  Look at the news!  If this is what restrained evil looks like, just imagine when we are taken out of the world.  With us goes the Holy Spirit, too.  But not forever.  I believe that Joel’s prophecy is for the Tribulation saints:

I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on My servants, both men and women, I will pour out My Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls, (Joel 2:28-32).

Peter used this verse on the day of Pentecost to describe what was happening, but the “wonders in the heavens” didn’t happen at that time.  This has got to be a dispensation for the Tribulation saints, as well as a last chance for the rest of humanity.

If they have to go through the Tribulation, then I know that God will help them.  One way or the other, I’ll see them when it’s all over.  But as for me, my bags are packed, I’ve got extra oil for my lamp, and when that trumpet sounds, I’m gone!  God is good!