Tuesday, April 2, 2013

You Want To Be Rich?

-Guest Post by Dave Webb-

So, you want to be rich? This is what I believe concerning riches . . .

The people that have become rich know a little secret that the rest of us have missed. It sound crazy.

It is the truth.

I have no desire to be rich. I would rather have a life. So I am careful what I ask for. I learned this the hard way.

John D. Rockefeller was rich beyond his wildest dreams. He and his wife led a rather disciplined existence concerning money.

When they had children, they tried to teach them the secret as well.

The secret to riches is the double tithe. God will do the rest.

One of my best friends has money. His father earned this money for him. He was a history teacher most of his life. He remained single all of his life and still is. He is retired now.

But his “Daddy” died in his late 80s worth about 4 million dollars. He had obtained something like 32 patents on industrial safety equipment that prevented people from loosing limbs to heavy industrial equipment. His secret was he donated 20% of his money his entire life to God. You simply cannot out give God. God kept giving it back 20 fold times 10.

My friend continues the tithe. He preaches. He has a calling from God. He helps people. More important to my friend I think is he has a decent life. He is a totally born-again Christian with fundamentalist beliefs.

John D. Rockefeller had a biography on PBS recently. I was interested because he followed the principle of the double tithe. He taught this secret to all his children. He was a believer in God.

The responsibility of wealth was overwhelming. He turned this responsibility in his old age over to his son. With riches comes responsibility to use that wealth correctly. It is not an easy responsibility and I have no desire to spend my life on that responsibility. John D Rockefeller looked relieved when he turned the responsibility over to his son.

John D. Rockefeller and family made big mistakes in handling people. The son tried to correct those mistakes. The family has given us some fine government leaders.

To be rich is to be desired. People naturally are drawn to people with money.

Some have had it end tragically. Like the kidnapping of a child in the 30s. I don't think the Lindbergh family ever recovered.

So with riches comes another responsibility. The protection of the family from crooks all too willing to try to obtain the riches you have made. This naturally restricts your life. To be rich is to be royalty and to be royalty is to lose control over your life. There can be a price to pay for being rich.

My friend tries to keep his wealth a secret. I don't blame him.

In the 90s I was given responsibility to be a Union Steward. We called it “chapel chairman” because originally the Union was a craft union with strong religious beliefs. The Chapel Chairman's job was to originally lead prayer to God. It evolved into representing the entire group. Even the Foreman over the group was a member of the Chapel. One of my responsibilities was to distribute overtime.

I put together rules different than any other Chapel Chairman in history of that group. I distributed overtime with credits for overtime asked for. A number went beside everyone's name. That number was the overtime you were given the opportunity to work. You could turn it down. But it determined who was asked next for overtime. A second number was your priority. The oldest priority member being the one that had worked the longest in the group. If two people had been asked the exact same amount of overtime then the one with priority was asked first. I also had skill levels added to this list.
So you were not asked if it was a job you could not do. I had help from a lot of people putting these rules of fairness together. I didn't do it alone.

The people with known Christian background, for some reason unknown to me, always ended up with more asked for overtime than anyone else. You could say it was chance. I was very strict in keeping the list honest and fair. But I suspect God had something to do with the list because the people I know were probably tithing had more overtime asked on the list than anyone else. No list can be completely fair. We made mistakes. But the nature of the list actually kept it fair as possible.

I once needed money to survive in the mid 80s. I was at my church of choice. The preacher was preaching on the tithe. If you give it will be given back to you. Okay! Sounds good to me! I am broke. I had a $20 in my wallet. So I gave the entire $20 in the offering that Wednesday night. I gave everything that I had that night left after paying my bills and feeding my family to God. It was crazy.
It would never work, right? I had nothing to lose really. So I tried it.

Monday, the company I worked for announced they were going into an entirely new way of marking up ads in my job. I was the second person trained in the new way of computer markup. The company determined who got trained next. I wasn't anywhere near the top of priority list. But I did have the skills they needed.

For the next six months I had more overtime than I could handle. I was divorced at the time and raising 2 of the 3 boys I had. I was on a very strict budget to keep my head above water financially and it wasn't working out. So that overtime was a pretty big thing in my life. It happened because of that donation tithe at the church I was going to.

I started looking at other people that tithed. They all had similar stories. And that is where I get the idea that if you want to really be rich, tithe to God as much as you can possibly afford. The more you give to God, the more will be given back to you. Ask anyone that has done it. They will tell you the same thing I am saying.

I don't know how it works. I just know it works. Whenever, I need to reverse my fortunes, that is what I do. I double tithe. God asks in the Bible for 10%. My friend's father had it right. He doubled the tithe and got a lot of money back. You cannot out give God.

Please do not get me wrong. God had me work for every penny I ever earned. So if you want to be rich, remember, he will make you work for it. But it will be given to you in accordance with how much you give in your tithing to God.

Wonder if that might work for the Government . . .

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Submission through Power, or, in the awe of the I AM

 The following is a guest post by Archer Garrett...

I’d like to visit one of my favorite scenes of the Bible, as told through the eyes of John in chapter 18.  The scene is a famous one:  Jesus prays in the garden, is then betrayed and subsequently arrested.   
Simple enough, right? 


First, let’s see how Jesus struggles with the reality of the cross:

Mark 14:36
36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

John 18 - Jesus Arrested
1 When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.
2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.
8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”
10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
12 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.

Now, let’s dissect the scriptures a little:

Mark 14:36
36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Some scholars argue that abba is the Aramaic equivalent of “daddy”, while others argue that abba, "asserts not childlike relation to God, but the privileged status of the adult son (not daughter) and heir."  Either way, abba is a term that was specifically preserved in aramaic for a reason of importance, and is reinforced by the fact that it is then followed by father; when the Bible repeats itself, pay attention. 

What is this cup? 

It’s the cup of God’s wrath.  It’s a cup full of all the sins of the entire world that God cannot even look upon, without being filled with anger.  Jesus was not afraid of dying; he knew that God would turn His back on His Son, when Jesus drank that cup on the cross.  Jesus had walked in constant communion with the Father for His entire life.  The thought of being without God was, by definition, a living Hell.

And yet, he knew that God required Jesus to drink from this cup, so He submitted to the will of the Father.

Total submission to God.

So, now we’ve got the total submission part, but what about the power.  Jesus was betrayed and arrested, but where’s the power in that?

Let’s look at John 18:3-9 again:

3 So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.
8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”

Let that scene soak in, alright?

Jesus, having just fully submitted himself to the will of the Father, after pouring out His heart, is settled in His resolve.  He’s accepted what must be done.  Imagine His face.

But the disciples don’t get it, they are just like us – they never get it – until after the fact.

So in comes Judas with a detachment of soldiers in tow.  Imagine how the disciples felt: betrayed, angry, terrified?  Oh yeah.

But what does Jesus do?  Total control of the situation.  He steps up and confronts them.

4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

They drew back and FELL to the GROUND.

What the heck just happened?

I’ll tell you what happened, Jesus just flexed.

In John 18, “I am he,” was translated from the Greek, “ego eimi.”

Ego Eimi.

The Gospel of John is interesting in that ego eimi is used multiple times.  Through the various councils, for whatever reason, the divinity that John attributes to Jesus has been reined in somewhat.   
Why it was done does not matter to me, all I am concerned with is original intent.

Ego Eimi.

Where else is ego eimi used in the Bible? One striking example is in Exodus 3.

11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you[b] will worship God on this mountain.”
13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
14 God said to Moses, “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh (Aramaic translation).  This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘ego eimi (Greek translation) has sent me to you.’”
15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’

Except, that’s not how you see it in the Bible; you see it like this:

14 God said to Moses, “I AM who I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”


I AM the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

I AM the Resurrection and the Life.

I AM that I AM.


Whoa.  I don’t know about you, but that gives John 18 a whole new meaning.  Let’s revisit it:

4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
I AM,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, “I AM,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

Perhaps I’m the theatrical type, but I can just imagine the raw energy that filled the air as He uttered those words.  I can envision the shockwave that pulsated outwards as he said, “ego eimi,” and it 
Literally.  Knocked.  Them.  To.  The.  Ground.


But Jesus doesn’t stop there, he proceeds to tower over them in the very finite amount of His glory that he allowed to be revealed to them, and continued:

7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.

They said.  PFFT.  They muttered.  They squeaked.  They shielded their eyes and meekly whimpered in terror. 

8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I AM. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”

I TOLD YOU THAT I AM.  Wow.  Can you feel the power in His words?

Complete and total control of the situation.

But what happens next?

The man that is getting arrested is making demands of this late night, no-knock warrant, jackboot, Ancient Roman goon squad.  And they abide him. 

Ego eimi. 

10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

In all his glory and power before these mere mortals, he is still in total submission to the Father.

12 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.

If you Caiaphas knew, how true those words actually were.  But not by his power, would one man die for the people.  But by HIS power.

Ego eimi.


  1. NIV Bible
  2. James Barr, "Abba isn't 'daddy'", Journal of Theological Studies, 39:28-47.
  3. http://aramaicdesigns.blogspot.com/2009/06/abba-isnt-daddy-traditional-aramaic.html
  4. Mary Rose D'Angelo, "Abba and 'Father': Imperial Theology and the Jesus Traditions", Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 111, No. 4 (Winter, 1992), pp. 615-616
  5. Tarazi, Fr. Paul. THE NAME OF GOD: ABBA. Word Magazine - Publication of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America (May 1980) pp. 5-6. http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/bible/tarazi_name_of_god.htm
  6. Rick Renner, Sparkling Gems From The Greek 365 Greek Word Studies For Every Day Of The Year To Sharpen Your Understanding Of God's Word 2003 page 219
  7. Mary Healy, Gospel of Mark, The Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture 2008, page 131: "...the episode is in the middle statement: "It is I" (ego eimi), which can also be translated "I AM," the divine name ..."
  8. The I AM sayings: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rsposse/iamintro.htm

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fasting and Regaining Sight of Imperatives

(guest article authored by Jimmie Parr)

Have you ever misplaced something, sought all around for it, and perhaps have even asked someone else to help you to find the misplaced item?  And then you find the item in your hand.  In the case of a pair of glasses, you find them on your forehead.  When you asked another person to help you to find the wayward item, you may have opened yourself up to embarrassment, because that person may have pointed out to you the “lost” spectacles above your brow, or the ink pen in your hand.  Or, as happened to me recently, I “lost” the keys to my vehicle.  I went to a neighbor’s to borrow a wire coat hanger, so that I could break into my own vehicle.  The neighbor came with me to watch the show.  When we got back to my vehicle, he saw my keys on the hood of the vehicle.  I’d put them there, because I’d “lost” something else, and was emptying my pockets, to try to find whatever else it was that had “sprouted legs.”
How many solutions to problems are at our fingertips?
More and more Americans are seeing that the U.S. is in deep trouble.  Are there solutions to our problems?  Do we need to audit the Federal Reserve Bank?  Do we need to cause Walmart to cease to exist, as it currently is?  Do all Americans need to be armed?  Do all Americans need to be disarmed?
Long ago, regarding the destruction of Jerusalem by Roman armies in A.D. 69, historian Flavius Josephus wrote, “Now if any one consider these things (events surrounding the fall of Jerusalem), he will find that God takes care of mankind, and by all ways possible foreshows to our race what is for their preservation; but that men perish by those miseries which they madly and voluntarily bring upon themselves” (Wars of the Jews, Book VI, Chapter 5, section 4).  What Josephus wrote is parallel to what Amos wrote:  “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).
Long ago, the Creator sent one of his servants—Jonah—to the city of Nineveh.  The Creator planned to bring Nineveh to nothing, but He, through Jonah, warned the Ninevites, as Amos declares that the Creator does, before He acts.  The Creator warns of impending disaster, and tells how to head off that disaster, as Josephus expressed that he believed that the Creator does (gives warnings before allowing disaster).  Concerning the story of Nineveh, I have more to convey, because I believe that, in the book of Jonah, there is a lesson for us, today.  That lesson would lead us toward knowing whether to ban Walmart, whether to abolish the Federal Reserve System, and into countless other remedies of problems.
Can You Let Go of Everything Blocking View of Reality?
I can’t help thinking of a joke.  A guy who is standing at the edge of a cliff slips off the edge.  He grabs a branch of a bush at the edge of the cliff.  Hanging from the branch, he looks up and yells, “Is anyone up there?!?  Please help me!!”
Looking up, the guy sees a dark cloud, and hears a thunderclap.  He hears a voice:  “I can help you.”
“W-who are y-you?” asks the man in peril.
“I am God,” replies the voice.
“How can you help me?”
“Let go of the branch,” the voice answers.
“What???  Let go of the branch?”
Pondering his situation, the man yells, “Is anyone else up there?”
Do you ever, in retrospect, wonder whether you ever stumbled over the truth, but, because it was seemed so foreign or unpopular, you picked yourself up, brushed yourself off, and hurried along on your way?  Could you ever re-trace your steps, and find that truth (or that chunk of truth) over which you had stumbled remains where it was, when it tripped you?  Could you even have truth in your hand, or perched on your forehead, and not even realize that it's there?  You're frantically seeking truth, and you're holding the key, and you ask someone else to help you to find the key.
Recently, I wrote about my opinion that the desire to conform can prevent us from seeing or recognizing truth.  A desire to keep up with the rushing sheep surrounding us; to keep one's nose as close as possible to the rumps of the sheep charging ahead, can block one’s view of the truth that there is a cliff over which, one-by-one, each member of the entire herd is hurtling.  As I wrote in the above-linked article, in a car dealership, a service writer’s opinion that I could not use knowledge of chemistry to solve a problem with an automobile helped to block his ability to see that, without wrenches or sale of new auto parts, I had, with knowledge of chemistry, already solved that problem with a customer’s vehicle.  The fact that the customer was satisfied didn't matter.  He viewed truth as being in his way of conformity, so, before he stumbled over truth, he turned and ran in the other direction.  In that way, he kept himself in conformity with the remainder of the herd of “conventional,” “in-the-box” mechanics.
Miracle (n.)—the Process of Reversing Entropy
What is the truth about so-called “miracles?  Many of us have heard a Bible story of a person, having been dead four days, brought back to life.  Have there ever been such miracles?  If so, will such miracles ever occur again?  Can life be wrenched from the jaws of certain, imminent death, or actual death?
I include many occurrences in the category of miracles.  In my opinion, the “mass transit,” by blood hemoglobin, of oxygen molecules to cells which need oxygen, and the return, by those same blood cells, of carbon dioxide from individual cells back to the atmosphere, is a miracle, or a series of miracles.  Respiration flies in the face of what I understand about the law of entropy, which states that everything tends to become increasingly random and disorderly.  (Forgive my possible omission, due to an attempt to be brief, of key aspects of the second law of thermodynamics.)  A mountain which has been thrust up from the Earth's crust is slowly hammered by the sun's heat, by rain dissolving soluble portions, by water in cracks freezing and breaking one piece in two.  Eventually, particles which once constituted a mountain are spread all along a river bottom and out to sea; not to mention wind-borne particles from that mountain, which are spread “everywhere.”  Eroded particles do not coalesce to form mountains.  An explosion at an automobile assembly plant does not result in pieces falling together as assembled automobiles.  Mountains break and wear into pieces.  Exploded buildings result in disorder—entropy.  In my view, the fact that life even exists screams that Someone is making it happen.  The existence of life is a miracle.  Each living organism is a miracle.  Life and entropy seem to be on opposite sides of the battlefield, in some ways, although living things depend on entropy, in order to garner nutrients.  Plant roots cannot take up boulders through their root hairs.  Supposedly, plant roots secrete substances which dissolve mineralsPlant roots also depend on help from fungi which live symbiotically on roots.  Humans chew food.  Chewing food changes the orderly structure of a chicken wing into the disorder of a chewed-up slurry mixed with saliva—in order to help our stomachs with the task of chemical breakdown (more entropy) of that mass, in order that the nutrients in it can be made available for our individual cells in our bodies.  So the end result of the entropy involving masticating and digesting food is the transfer of selected minerals from one form of life to another—a building process, though much of the bulk of food which we eat goes (or should go, if we didn't flush it down toilets), in a state of relative entropy, back to the ground.
In short, I do not limit my definition of the word, miracle, to include only incidents such as walking on water, or the sudden healing of an incurable disease.  Yes, I believe that miracles (supernatural interventions—interventions by the Creator) occur, because I believe that a long series of miracles occur with each living organism, to bring that organism from “lifeless” rock and soil to its existence as a causative agent, whether with its roots, or with its earth-moving equipment, of a new type of change of our environment.
If I take soil with a high percentage of clay, mix that soil with water, and add a source of sodium ions, I make the water murky, and it remains murky, because sodium disperses the clay particles, many of which are tiny enough to remain suspended in the water.  If I add Epsom salts to that cloudy, muddy water, the water clarifies.  An observing child may believe that, with Epsom salts, I performed a miracle.  Similarly, if I were to see a leper suddenly healed, I would consider it a miracle.  But the One who is ultimately responsible for that healing may view the healing of a leper as I would view the use of magnesium sulphate to cause the clay suspended in water to flocculate and settle out of suspension.  The Creator may view the sudden healing of a leper as most people tend to view respiration, if those people don't think about what a miracle, as at least a temporary defeat of entropy, respiration in a life form truly is.
[In the physical universe, to build a perpetual motion machine is impossible.  Is the granting of eternal life an individual's ultimate victory against the effects of the law of entropy—the second law of thermodynamics—(I Corinthians 15:54-56)?]
When you think of a miracle which the Creator would perform, do you think of an accompanying light show, and/or an earthquake, or (thanks to Hollywood) stirring orchestral music?  Do you think of a scene from Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments?  Think about this.  When the Israelites saw the Red Sea part, were they more concerned with the “FX” (“special effects”—the light show, the background orchestra, the shaking ground), or were they more concerned with “gittin’ outta Dodge”—escaping the clutches of Pharaoh and his pursuing charioteers?  Don’t be so certain about their response, or your response, in a similar situation.  Think about what happened with Naaman, who, centuries ago, was the leader of the army of Syria.
Though Naaman had many accomplishments under his belt, he was a leper.  The first few verses of II Kings 5 tell the story of how Naaman found out about Elisha, who was a prophet of YHVH, or YHWH—the Creator.  Naaman went to Elisha, so that Elisha could perform a miracle, and rid the former of his leprosy.  After Naaman arrived, Elisha did not even go out to meet Naaman, though Naaman was a “great” and noted man.  Elisha sent a messenger out to Naaman.  The messenger told Naaman to wash himself seven times in the Jordan River, in order to be rid of his leprosy.  Naaman was furious.  He wanted a performance.  He wanted a show.  He wanted to see “the man” (Elisha); not a messenger of Elisha’s, and he wanted special effects.  Naaman said that he knew of Syrian rivers which were better than the Jordan River, and, in great fury, he left.  But one of Naaman’s servants wisely said, “Hey, pal…if Elisha had told you to do some huge feat to get rid of the leprosy, wouldn’t you have done it?  Did you want to get rid of the leprosy, or did you just want a light show to post on YouTube?  Why don’t you just try to do the simple thing that he said to do?”  (Excuse my paraphrase.)  Naaman decided to listen to his adviser, and washed himself in the Jordan River.  After Naaman did what he was told to do, his leprosy vanished, and his skin became like that of a young boy.  There was no lightning.  There was no earthquake.  There was not even a hint of violin music.  Neither was there any more leprosy.  It was a “no-frills” miracle.
Elijah the prophet got a visit from the Creator.  Preceding His visit, there was a whirlwind.  And then there was an earthquake.  After that, there was a fire.  But the Creator was in neither the earthquake, nor the whirlwind, nor the fire, though He could have chosen to be in the whirlwind, as He was, when he spoke to Job (Job 38:1), who probably needed such, to get his attention.  The Creator didn't put on a huge show for Elijah, and Elijah wisely knew that his Creator was neither in the earthquake nor in the whirlwind (though lawyers now like to call earthquakes and tornadoes “acts of God”).  To Elijah, the Creator spoke in a still, soft voice (I Kings 19:12).
If a miracle were to be performed for your benefit, would you “look a gift horse in the mouth,” as did Naaman?  Would you seek after the FX?  Would you put form over substance, as Naaman almost did, until he was shaken back into reasoned thinking?
Naaman had stumbled upon the truth—the truth that he could be rid of leprosy.  However, because he had a wrong impression of truth (because his impression of the occurrence of a miracle conformed to what he’d always heard about miracles), he almost brushed himself off, and hurried back on his way, after his having stumbled upon truth.  In his opinion, truth was sparkling, and glowing, and its arrival is heralded with inspiring orchestral strains.  Fortunately, after beginning to hurry back on his way away from truth over which he'd stumbled, he was able to re-trace his steps, and find the substance which he had sought.
Concerning our food supply, we have confounded form with substance, as Naaman temporarily did.  We deem the “show” (long ears of corn; full bushel baskets) more important than is the nutrient content of each grain of corn.  As a result, our food does not contain the nutrient content which it once contained.  We fill our bellies, but our individual cells make cries for nutrition, before they begin to fall before the horde of diseases, which flee in the presence of proper nutrient content.  The truth is perched on our brows; not on our noses, where the truth needs to be, so that we can see.  The truth is right there, but we can't find it.
“But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it” (Deuteronomy 30:14; Romans 10:8).
Jonah, Fasting, and Repentance
Many of us have heard of Jonah, the prophet sent to Nineveh to warn the people of Nineveh that they, as a society, were about to be destroyed (Jonah 1:1, 2; 3:1-4).  Unfortunately, the incident which most people remember is Jonah having been swallowed by a “whale” (great fish).  They know little or nothing about why the Creator sent a great fish to get Jonah turned around from his own will.
During Jonah’s day, Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian EmpireJonah was an Israelite.  Assyria and Israel (“the northern kingdom,” as opposed to the Kingdom of Judah) were frequently at odds with each other.  According to Isaiah, the Creator used Assyria as a “rod,” with which to “spank” Israel.
I have some questions concerning whether ancient civilizations can be traced to modern nations.  Does the Creator, to this day, have “Assyria” ready to “spank” Israel, again?  If so, where is Assyria, today?  Where is Israel?  Will the Creator use Assyria as a rod, once again, to “spank” Israel?  If Israel and the Jewish people are one and the same, why does the Bible make reference to Israel, in alliance with Syria, being at war with Jerusalem and the Jews (II Kings 16:6, 7), if the only Israelites who have ever existed are Jews?  Why does the Bible make reference to a coming time when Judah (the Jews) and Ephraim will be made one, if they have always been one and the same?  Few wish to argue whether Jews are Israelites.  (I am aware of the arguments that Ashkenazim are not truly Jews; are not descendants of Abraham.)  But are there other Israelites?  Are (true) Jews merely from one tribe (Judah) of Israel?  Who were (are?) the “Lost Ten Tribes?”
Back to Jonah, and his being sent to Nineveh to warn the Ninevites that their wickedness was so great that they were about to be destroyed, again, think about the backdrop.  Assyria had been used, again and again, to “paddle” Israel.  Why would Jonah have any interest in going to Nineveh, and warning them that they were about to be destroyed?  Try to put yourself back 50 years, during the “Cold War.”  Imagine being sent to warn Moscow that they were so wicked that they were about to be destroyed.  Or, if you happen to be from another country, imagine being sent to a country which is your enemy, and warning them that they are about to be destroyed.  Realize, as Jonah did, that the Creator’s mercy “endureth for ever” (136th Psalm).  Jonah understood that the Creator warns in order to save lives (Ezekiel 18:23; John 14:17; Luke 9:54-56; II Peter 3:9).  Jonah knew the reason that he was sent to Nineveh.  That reason was not to “rub it in their faces;” simply to tell the Ninevites that they were “finished,” and that they had no chance.  Knowing the merciful nature of the Creator, Jonah knew that there was a chance that Nineveh would turn from their ways, and that, if they turned from their ways, the Creator would turn from His plan to destroy Nineveh.  Jonah loved his country.  Carnally, he wanted to see that Assyria was no longer around to be the “rod” in the hand of the Creator.  When the Creator told Jonah to go to Nineveh to warn them, Jonah went in the opposite direction.
“Many are called; few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).  If I understand this correctly, Jonah was not merely called to preach to Nineveh.  He was chosen to preach to Nineveh.  Perhaps people who are “called” can run away.  People who are chosen are “drafted.”  Jonah started to bolt; he wasn’t allowed to continue to run.
Did the Ninevites laugh at a “foreigner,” from a rival nation, as that foreigner told them that their fall was imminent (40 days from the time that he began preaching)?  Did they drop a net on Jonah, and accuse him of being seditionist?  They began fasting.
Can you, as an American, having a Russian come here, and preach to us that our fall is imminent, and having Americans begin to fast, because they believed the “Ruskie?”  Didn’t we have a Russian come here and tell us about some of our problemsDid we listen to Aleksandr SolzhenitsynHere’s some more warning, from another Russian—Stanislav Mishin.  How will you react?
Charlie Daniels cut a record in the early 1980s.  His tune (“In America”) declared that America “may have stumbled, but she ain’t never fell.  And if the Russians don’t believe that, they can all go straight to hell.”  At that time, I was a student in a university.  In Iran, 52 Americans were being held hostage by Iranian revolutionaries.  As it turned out, those hostages were held a total of 444 days, until the day of the inauguration of Ronald Reagan as president.  I wrote a letter to the editor of the school newspaper, and said that Charlie Daniels’ song stirred too much pride, and not enough sorrow.  I stated that pride precedes destruction.  I cited reasons to suspect that the U.S. was beginning to fall.  That letter generated some hate mail.  In condemnation of my letter, one person wrote, “Even if the U.S. is in decline, we should do all that we can to enjoy ourselves, while there is still time to do so.  Charlie Daniels did us a favor.  He gave us a boost.”
Upon hearing, from Jonah, that their city’s collapse was imminent, the Ninevites did not reply with, “We should have fun during the next 40 days, while we can.”  They did not seek a phony “boost” from musicians.  They didn’t immerse themselves in the NFL and tailgate parties.  As stated, the Ninevites fasted.  The animals fasted.  Even the king of Nineveh fasted.  And, perhaps for the only time in history, a large group of people listened to a prophet sent from the Creator, and the merciful Creator turned away from His plan to see that Nineveh was overthrown (Jonah 3:5-10).  Assyria remained as a power, and, soon after Jonah preached to Nineveh, Assyria conquered Israel, and its capital, Samaria (I Kings 17:6).
Again, think about the Bible calling the city of Samaria the capital of Israel.  Wasn’t Jerusalem the capital of ancient Israel?  Jerusalem was the capital of Israel during the reigns of David and Solomon, but not after Jeroboam stirred ten of the twelve tribes to break the alliance with the tribe of Judah.  At the beginning of Rehoboam’s reign, Israel pulled away from Rehoboam’s rule, and Rehoboam became the king of Judah.  Jeroboam was chosen to be the king of Israel (“the northern kingdom”).
One reason that I keep hammering the fact that the Bible refers to a Kingdom of Judah and a Kingdom of Israel is that I believe that some of us may not grasp our ancestry.  If that is so, we may fail to understand our past, and we also may be oblivious to our immediate future.  And perhaps some of that understanding could come by fasting, as understanding came to the Ninevites as a result of a collective fast.
Earlier, I mused about whether getting rid of “The Fed,” or getting rid of Walmart, might help the U.S.  But I believe that, before doing anything else, the neophyte who is just beginning to discover that the U.S. may be “too far gone” needs to fast, just as the Ninevites fasted.
I should not give up on the U.S. (which, I believe, contains part of Israel, as you may, by now, have guessed), just as Paul wrote that he longed for the salvation of Israel (Romans 9:1-5).  And, as Paul believed that “all of Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26), I believe that the U.S. (and France, and Ireland, and other nations of Israel) will come out of what I believe is about to occur—Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7; Matthew 24:22).  But my suspicion is that, until it is “too late” to save the U.S. as it now is, people in the U.S. will not react to sanity as did the Ninevites to Jonah’s message.  The reasons that I suspect that are 1) my observation that, in history, societies, with what seems the lone exception of the example of Nineveh’s reaction to Jonah, do not heed warnings of disaster due to moral decay, and 2) my observation of our reaction to what Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn told to our people.
When I hear people discussing how to save the U.S., I often hear that we should “End the Fed.”  And I agree that we should end the Federal Reserve System, as Andrew Jackson mustered all in his power to defeat the renewal of the charter of the 2nd Bank of the United States—the “Fed” of his day.  But, with a moral climate in shambles, ending the Fed will create a vacuum which some system as bad or worse will fill.
Very soon after the war, General Douglas MacArthur delivered a speech in which he said the following.
“Men since the beginning of time have sought peace.... Military alliances, balances of power, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. We have had our last chance. If we do not now devise some greater and more equitable system, Armageddon will be at our door. The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature and all material and cultural development of the past two thousand years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.”
It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.  Abolishing the “Fed” will not be enough.  Stopping Walmart will not suffice.  Stopping Walmart without a nationwide spiritual renewal will result in a vacuum which something as bad or worse will occupy.
As I said, I suspect that the U.S. will not, collectively, fast, as did the inhabitants of Nineveh.  The “land of the free” will lose what little free press is left, along with the remainder of the Bill of Rights, including arms, along with the right to bear them.  And, if you are in another country, don’t kid yourself.  Know that the fall of the U.S. will affect you adversely.  But you, individually, can wake up whatever portions of your mind are asleep.
It is true that, when we pray, “(May) Thy Kingdom come,” we are praying for the end of the government of the United States, as we know that government; as it has ever existed, historically.  Further, we are praying for the end of all human governments, as they exist, or have ever existed.  Though the courageous Founding Fathers of the united States moved us toward liberty, they did not bring us liberty.  And anyone understanding the world as it is has at least begun to come to realize that.  I am not criticizing the Founding Fathers.  They created a government which brought us closer to how things will be when the Kingdom comes than any other government since the government which the Creator brought to Israel, which government was never fully implemented (Judges 1:21-35).  The reason that the Son of the Creator is returning is because no one else could bring the “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21).
Jeremiah suffered greatly, because he told the truth about his nation, Judah.  His own people forced him to spent time in a filthy dungeon which some scholars say was also a cesspool.  But, after the fall of Judah, he was free to go where he wished.  Sadly, Isaiah did not fare so well.  According to Jewish tradition, King Manasseh saw to it that Isaiah was cut in half with a sawBoth Jeremiah and Isaiah saw death.  But they will have their places in a “better resurrection” (Hebrews 11:35).  That is the ultimate value of fasting often (II Corinthians 11:27).  Fasting helps us to challenge the true worth of the flesh, and adulation of it.  Fasting helps to teach us, “The flesh profiteth nothing” (John 6:63).
If you don’t have the courage to fast, as did the Ninevites, Jacob’s Trouble will push you toward “lying wonders.”  Will you, with your physical life in the balance, then be able to refrain from believing them?
The word is nigh unto thee” (Deut. 30:14).  The key which you seek is in your hand.  Your glasses which you thought that you lost are on your forehead.  Though not easy to perform, the solutions to our problems can be found.  “This kind (of unclean spirit) goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21).

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Problem With Enforcement Of Beliefs‏

A good portion of the world is mired in ignorance. This ignorance is often defended with violence of the worst kind. You see a lot of the world believes that the world is Flat. We are the center of the universe. The Sun revolves around the Earth as do all the other planets and stars. The Earth is half way between Heaven and Hell. Go up or go down. That is the choice. The problem is it is just not so.

This group wants to burn at the stake anyone that believes different than themselves. In the 16th century, that was the dilemma of the Catholic Church. All of the accepted beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church of that century were coming apart.

Columbus was guilty as charged. He was responsible for the whole thing. Columbus believed the planet was round. (he was wrong, of course, the world is somewhat pear shaped, but that wasn't discovered until this last century, it is not perfectly round though it is close.) Then there was this fellow named Galileo. How dare he upset the parish with his false doctriine. The Earth orbits the Sun, ridiculous. Burn him at the stake.

The Spaniards explored South and part of North America. So did the Portuguese, the French, the English, the Germans, etc. The Catholic Church was frantic. They brought documents back from the New Continent that disturbed every belief the church held dear. Burn the documents before anyone knows! And that is exactly what they did. Then they proceeded to destroy the natives of that continent that might hold different beliefs than themselves! Destroy all historical evidence!

Montizuma's revenge struck. It was of course syphllis. It had never been known in Europe before they started raping the women of the Americas. The rape victims had a partial immunity built up to the disease. Enough that they looked normal. It just wasn't so. They had Syphillis and shared.

The Catholics of the time had a really neat system of sin. The system was you do anything that pleases your devilish flesh and heart. Come to confession, do a few Hail Mary's and all is forgiven.

You can do this any number of times. Don't forget the tithe on the way out the door to sin some more.

The policy was sin no more. But no one was doing that. The confessional was full every week.

So the Spaniards and other Europeans went forth and raped and pillaged a continent. The Catholic response was confess and do your penalties then go do it again. Many a priest in the old world used this excuse of confession. I have no idea what sins they were guilty of. I do know many illegitimate families existed. Many a priest had a family on the side. This is history. It is spelled out in any number of books. At the time, history says most of Europe was Catholic with the religion being ruled from Rome.

Syphillis changed all that. Your soul might still be forgiven, but your body sure wasn't. Many a person died horribly of Syphillis. It was spread by sailors all over Europe. It didn't kill right away. So it was possible to go from person to person.

Then there is the pig. If pig flesh is not cooked properly, then a parasite survives. It is a tiny worm and it settles in the muscle tissue. But we all know according to the church and St. Peter that it is all right to eat Pig meat, right? Wrong. 65% of the autoposies done in this country find evidence of this worm in the flesh! I could go on. Shrimp and Oysters are nature's pond cleaners. They absorb all the filth of the oceans! If you have a load of contaminated shrimp or oysters, haul them out to sea to fresh water. Within 24 hours, the shrimp will be clean and clear to sell!

My point is that disobeying the rules of the old testament, specifically Moses diet laws, have penalties that have nothing to do with religious belief. The Catholics had a famine. It was bad. They released people to eat pig meat in order to survive. That doesn't change natural law. You eat the worms, you might get worms.

My point is that we are in the midst of one of the most incredible revolutions ever to hit this planet. The revolution is in the constantly changing knowledge of what is and what isn't. Every religion on the planet that believes the physical universe is the same as it was in the 6th century is doomed. That is because no matter what you believe, if it is any where near wrong, then you personally might end up paying the penalty. Our perception of things is changing.

Even the scientists are having a really hard time with the knowledge that is being discovered. First, you had Isaac Newton. Newton physics described a whole bunch of laws that no one before had discovered in recent times. And Isaac considered himself a Christian. With Newton physics an entire new set of engineering rules came into play. Those rules were the foundation for a lot of devices we depend on to this day. Things like refrigerators, air conditioning, the diesel and gasoline engines, and much more. Then there was a man named Maxwell, his electronic and magnetic discoveries pathed the way to modern electronic devices. This occurred in the 1870s.

Tesla and Edison put together an entire technology based on these laws! A lot of what Tesla was working on in 1943 is still classified by governments.

As far as I know, no one person has influence over the natural laws of the Universe. If you step off a roof, you are going to fall. If you walk on water, it better be ice. Otherwise most of us will drown.

So it was a real shock to the scientists when everything wasn't what it should be in the world of very small. We are still trying to decifer that. Language is inadequate to describe what is going on all around us. It can only be described with advanced math. Things developed by Newton-like calculus.

I don't speak calculus. Though I often see physics people with blackboards full of caculations. They use chalk because it is easy to erase and start over. It is that revolutionary and that volitile. Often the rules they set down have miscalculated something, and they have to go back and start over.

Into this technical and often confusing knowledge comes your nuclear physics people. In 1905,

Albert Einstein blew the entire science community away with his advanced theory on General Relativity. From that came pioneers that actually started atomic bombs. These bombs were so powerful that they scared everyone and rightfully so.

Compare that with people all over the world with belief systems. The reason they are violent is the belief systems do not parallel the physical universe as we are now beginning to understand it. I hate to tell these people, the world is not flat, we are not the center of creation everywhere. Even that is a big if. We simply do not know all the facts to determine what is or is not so.

As of the 19th century, a lot of people still believed very sincerely based on translations of the Bible that the entire Universe is only 6,000 years old. They may be right! Or wrong! But no one here is suggesting that how one believes should be violently enforced. The rules they are changing, our knowledge of the universe is constantly being updated, and even the scientists are confused a lot of the time. It is that complex.

And that was the problem of the Catholic Church. The Church was going through future shock. The rules are not set in stone. And that is a problem, religions all over the world are facing. The things we thought we understood, may or may not be so. So it really comes down to faith in your beliefs.

Charles Darwin between centuries thought up a theory. (To laymen, that meant an educated guess.)
Evolution is how we all started, right? Maybe . . . Then how do you explain evidence of a major genetic manipulation in our own cells? Every evolutionist on the planet seems to think we came from a branch of mammals called apes. (He isn't my Uncle(grin)) Apes have 48 chromosomes. We have 46. Only two of those chromosomes on the end of the line are double the size of every other one in humans. That is how you manipulate genes! So now every evolutionist on the planet is carefully ignoring the evidence! Seems familiar to me. Just like the Earth is Flat people. It has become a religion instead of a science!

No one is immune to being blind to change.

Right now everything I ever learned is being called into question. And it should be. For instance, two atoms light years apart. You change one atom and the other atom changes with it. No apparent connection between the two atoms. They are doing that right now in Quantum Physics. The only explanation that makes sense is extra dimensions we cannot see. We do not have the ability to observe both atoms. We have found atoms half way around the world that exhibit this change. It appears to disobey all the laws of physics that we know. It does not obey the law of physics that nothing can travel faster than light.

I guess it depends on how much you personally have invested in a belief system. Scientists are no exception.

Just when you thought it was safe to believe something, evidence contradicts those beliefs. The scientists have a problem. If the universe has 11 dimensions, if time goes in more than one direction, then all the laws of Newton physics are only half right! The laws only apply to things of our size!

Heaven and Hell may be sets of dimensions in other Universes! The Bible that science attempted to disprove might be right! How embarrasing for them! Well, we can always ignore the evidence and let someone down the road handle it . . . and people in charge of all these religions have a similar dilemma.

I call it the ostrich effect. If the facts do not agree with how one believes . . . Then by all means put your head in the sand and ignore the facts. If someone disturbs you kill them.

One of the most revolutionary technologies coming out of this quantum physics is the possibility of a television camera that captures the sound and images of the past. That means we could take a camera to a place and actually film digitally what actually happened. Maybe back to Christ. Maybe back to Mohammed. Maybe back to Moses. I think there is no place on the planet where that camera would be safe from false religions attacking and killing everyone involved. It would be interesting to see who was in that riot mob. I suspect it would contain high people in all the religions on the planet.

They are all suffering from the advancement of knowledge and future shock.

I believe in Jesus Christ as my personal savior. I believe he can change the rules of the natural universe. I believe I cannot. Only with his permission can the rules be changed. We can pray.

Sometimes miracles do actually occur. They are not explanable by science or man. Where 3 Christians get together . . . I believe.

A lot of what the Bible says is true. I think all of us should have been following the Moses diet for long health. Just like most of us should take resting on the seventh day seriously for good health. I don't feel it is a hard and fast rule penalized by death. The test is: anything involving the supernatural influence changing the rules is most likely an exception made for us by God through Jesus.

Everything else follows the rules of the Universe. If you attempt to walk on water, you will most likely fall into the water. If you violate the rules of life you may suffer from veneral diseases. If you eat the wrong foods you might have health related problems such as parasites.

What we have to do is have everyone in all the religions come to an agreement on the rules of behavior we are willing to accept from them. Last time I looked the ten commandments were supposedly followed by a lot of religions. That means no killing. No violence. It means the religion has to stand on its own merits and nothing else. That includes atheist beliefs as practiced by different government groups world wide. How come they are not being attacked? Seems a little rotten to me. I mention my own belief system only as an example so no one believes I may be atheist. I am not. Too many things in my own life lead me to my own belief system. The point is I have a right to believe what I want and not what some group wants me to believe or else.

My belief is that any religion that enforces its rules with violence is from the Devil. He is a very convincing liar and many have been herded in with these tactics. Believe what I believe or die!

I guess the Earth must be flat after all. I want to live.

(authored by Dave Webb)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Iran And Egypt: The Rooks Are In Play

Today we have an excellent guest post from Alisha Venetis.  Alisha Venetis is co-founder of www.thePrepRoom.net; an online store specializing in emergency preparedness supplies.  She writes for Smart Girl Nation, as well as other conservative blogs, where she reports on world politics, domestic and global economics and the potentially negative ramifications they may have on America.


The recent headlines coming out of the Middle East sound like something torn from the pages of a Brad Thor novel. For those of us watching the drama unfold, it has us sitting at the edge of our seats.

In Egypt, the recent election win by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), who now, haplessly, call themselves the Freedom and Justice Party, is what many in the US and Israel have feared would happen and what many in the “know” thought would never happen.

The Freedom and Justice Party recently announced a temporary agreement that would install a MB leader as speaker of the country’s newly elected parliament, with the Islamist party expected to control as many as half the seats.

The MB was founded in 1928, in Egypt, with the goal of spreading Islamic Sharia law worldwide and uniting all Muslim nations into one Islamic super state. It was eventually banned in Egypt because it was believed to be too radical, even for Egypt’s standards. But for the past several decades the MB has worked behind the scenes in the Middle East. The Brotherhood is believed to have ties to almost every major terrorist organization, with chapters in more than 100 countries including Iran, Libya and the United States.

It is hard to imagine that Egypt and Israel’s relationship will be strenghtend with this newly elected regime. The 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt is now being put under pressure, as there are calls to re-vote on the treaty. If peace is not maintained between Egypt and Israel this will inflame the rest of the Middle East and embolden Israel’s enemies, which are many in the region, including the most dangerous; Iran.

Iran has been all over the news lately as they are flexing their muscle in the Middle East.
Unfortunately, for the West, it is their nuclear capabilities they are flexing.

Recent reports have come out that Iran is about a year away from a nuclear bomb, however, many people, including former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, believe that those reports might even be too optimistic. “I worry the publicly available information is giving only a very small picture, and that Iran is actually even much further along,” Bolton said.

This scenario of Iran having a nuclear bomb has led to an increase in assassinations of many of Iran's top nuclear scientists and missile developers (four in the past two years), in an apparent effort to halt Iran’s nuclear enrichment program.

The most recent car bomb assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist garnished public news. Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that those behind the killing would be punished.
Khamenei, of course, blamed its arch-enemies, Israel and the United States and insisted the incident would not change the country's nuclear course. There has also been a barrage of computer viruses to Iran’s nuclear program and a host of unexplained explosions.

Iran was one of the first places in history where the game of chess was played, and now Iran is playing their own real life version, in which their strategic moves can have severe consequences on their opponents.

Iran has threatened to close the Straight of Hormuz, a key oil route that would cripple the world economies (as well as cripple Iran- but a move they are willing to make). The threat of this caused crude oil to go up. Europe and the US then sanctioned Iran and their central bank.

The European Union and the Obama administration then sanctioned Iran by severing all contacts between American financial institutions and Iran’s Central Bank. The sanctions were designed to force the Iranian regime to halt its nuclear weapons development program. Economic analysts say the sanctions are biting, with the Iranian currency growing ever weaker against the American dollar.

Keep in mind that the real winner in these sanctions is China and Russia; Iran’s allies, as this will only increase the amount of oil dedicated to these countries at lower prices.

The pawns are being set for a game with real life consequences for the entire world. Who will make the next move and who will say “checkmate” are questions of historical importance.


Alisha Venetis is co-founder of www.thePrepRoom.net; an online store specializing in emergency preparedness supplies.  She writes for Smart Girl Nation, as well as other conservative blogs, where she reports on world politics, domestic and global economics and the potentially negative ramifications they may have on America.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Will There Be A Rapture Before The Tribulation?

***The following is a brief excerpt from a new novel about the Tribulation period entitled "The First Miracle" by Michael Burns.  If you enjoy this excerpt, we would encourage you to check out the entire book on Amazon.com.***

The home where the Bible study was to take place was in the foothills to the west of Denver on a street named Eagle Ridge Drive. It wasn’t hard to find, given that about three dozen cars were parked up and down the street in front of the house. The road up into the foothills had been narrow and winding, and as soon as I saw all the cars, and realizing I probably wouldn’t find a parking spot up ahead, I pulled over and parked behind the last car in line. We would have to walk the rest of the way. We got out of my car, and hustled past all the parked cars. 
It was the first day of December and the night was chilly, and the hint of the winter to come was in the air. Katy took my arm and as we walked, her hip brushed against mine. 
“Are you cold?” I asked. 
“Just a little,” she said. “It feels good, though. This cool weather is a welcome change. I love the seasons. I love the holidays.” 
The house was located in a spectacular setting. The rugged Rocky Mountains were to the west and the city of Denver lay below to the east. The view of the city lights glistening and shimmering in the distance was spectacular. 
Katy looked up at the house as we walked through the driveway’s open front gate. “Nice place,” she said. “It looks like it must have cost a fortune.” 
“Sure does,” I agreed. “I wonder why these people go all the way to Aurora just to go to church. It’s a long way.” 
“They’re old friends of the Townsends,” Katy explained. 
“How do you know?” I asked innocently. 
“Oh, I’ve been talking to Corinne. She’s told me about some things that are going on at the church. Of course,” she laughed, “she doesn’t know who her new minister really is!” 
I didn’t respond, but I wasn’t sure how to respond. I didn’t feel like telling her I still had serious doubts about Nathaniel. I had to admit that he was a charismatic individual, though in my mind I stubbornly refused to believe that anyone could live for two thousand years. Katy’s touch, her body brushing against mine, and knowing I was in love with her made everything somehow okay. Being with her seemed so logical, and was evidently meant to be. So, in spite of my doubts, I was looking forward to this Bible study, but more than anything else, I simply wanted to spend time with Katy. 
We walked up the long circular drive and up the steps to the front door. I rang the doorbell and a moment later we were let inside by a young altar boy we recognized from the church. His face was shining and he seemed innocent. For some reason, seeing his face brightened my mood considerably. My doubts suddenly vanished. 
“Through there and to the right,” he said, smiling at us. 
We followed his directions, finding our way to the living room. As large as the house was, the living room was crowded. People sat on the furniture and all along the floor, but we spotted an open area near the fireplace. We tiptoed through ankles and feet and made our way to the front of the fireplace. A fire burned quietly, but efficiently, throwing lots of heat into the living room. We sat down on the plush carpeted floor as far from the hearth as we could sit. 
Nathaniel was sitting in the center of a large sofa, and he was surrounded by several women from the church. Across from them, the couple who apparently owned the home sat on another large sofa with several people I didn’t recognize. Between the two groups there was a large ornate coffee table. Near these two sofas, I saw Elena Valencia with a group of her friends sitting on the floor. Everyone held open Bibles on their laps. Katy pulled her Bible out of her large duffel purse. 
Several lamps were on throughout the room, including ceiling lights and built-in lights below art hanging on the walls, but still the light was relatively dim and reading the fine print of a Bible seemed as if it would be difficult. I noticed one young man holding his Bible right up to his face, studying intently. We were late, but almost everyone there had ignored us as we stepped over them and found a place to sit. 
Nathaniel was speaking, and the entire group was listening intently.  He mentioned a passage from the Book of Revelations and then he quoted from the Book of Mark. 
“And so my friends, please look at Mark 13:19: ‘For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will be.’ 
“The great tribulation! It will be a time of terrible distress, a time like no other the earth has ever seen. Mankind has witnessed tribulation many times, but this will be the great tribulation. It will be a terrible time on earth. It will be so terrible that most of us will die, I believe. Jesus himself told us this. 
“It will also be a time of great fear. Luke 21:25: ‘And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and waves, men fainting with fear and foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.’ ” 
Nathaniel looked over at Katy and me, arching his eyebrows, as if we should make special notice of his words. It was then that I realized Nathaniel had spoken those same words before, during dinner at his duplex. For a moment the room was quiet, but Mrs. Ashby spoke up, her voice loud and defiant. 
“But we won’t have to go through it,” she said. “Jesus promised that his church would be raptured.” She smiled at Nathaniel. “Only the wicked will be forced to go through the tribulation at the end of the age.” 
I noticed most of the people in the living room nodding their agreement. Nathaniel, however, began to frown, ever so slightly. “Please turn to the book of Matthew, 24:9,” he said, pausing while everyone opened their Bible to the designated spot. 
After a moment, Nathaniel said, “This is what Jesus himself said, speaking to his apostles: ‘Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away (or stumble) and betray one another, and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.’ And now, if you’ll turn just a bit farther, to Matthew 24:21: ‘For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. Then if any one says to you, ‘Lo, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.’ 
“Matthew 24:21 through 24 is a continuation of the thought given in verse 24:9. The apostle Matthew has quoted Jesus as saying even the elect could be led astray during the great tribulation! Why would anyone consider the elect to be non-believers? Jesus is quite clear about this. He is telling us that his elect, the best Christians of all, will be here on earth during the great tribulation. And because of them, and only them, will the days of the tribulation be shortened. 
“My good friends,” and as he said these words Nathaniel smiled sincerely, “this is from the Gospel of Matthew. These verses, I believe, must be given priority over any other scripture when considering whether Christians will suffer through the great tribulation. 
“Please go back to Luke 21:25. Just after that frightful verse, in Luke 21:27 it says, ‘And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’ 
“Jesus, in these verses, said that there would be great distress upon the earth, men fainting with fear and with foreboding, and that he will be returning, that as all this begins to take place we should hold up our heads, for our redemption is at hand! 
“He told us that we should hold up our heads during this time of great fear, for we will be redeemed. Our redemption! What else can redemption mean to you? Only those who follow the gospel of Christ will be redeemed, so it is clear to me that he’s talking about his flock on earth, his church; his elect; believers who will be on earth during this time of great trouble. 
“No, my dear,” looking directly at the woman sitting across from him, “I’m afraid there will be no rapture of Christians prior to the great tribulation. Our redemption will come only afterward, after this terrible period of distress and great fear.” 
“But...,” the woman started to say, but Nathaniel held up a hand, stopping her. 
“Now then,” he went on, “let me tell you the circumstances under which Jesus made these prophecies. For days, he had been teaching in the temple, and then came a series of confrontations with the Sadducees and the Pharisees. They tried to draw Jesus out and make him appear to be a fool, but instead he turned the tables on them, and they looked foolish when he was done with them. And when he left the temple, having castigated the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus was angry. He called them hypocrites, indeed, even called them serpents! Why, he even called them a ‘brood of vipers!’ 
“I can tell you this; Jesus was so angry that as he left the temple he told all the apostles who were with him that someday the temple would be totally destroyed, not one stone left standing. 
“In his righteous anger he made a simple prophecy, but it so aroused the curiosity of his apostles that they insisted on knowing more, and so he took all of them up to the Mount of Olives. Biblical scholars refer to this moment as the Olivet Discourse, where Jesus gave his prophecy about the end times. Now remember, he was speaking only to his apostles for no one else was there. 
“He told them about the end of the world as we know it, the time on earth just before he would return. Jesus spoke prophetically, because he was also speaking to future generations of Christians. This was his message to his people. It wasn’t a message meant to fall on deaf ears, in other words upon the sinners and the unbelievers who would never repent of their evil ways. This was his message to his church. Obviously it was also a warning.” 
Nathaniel’s voice grew ominous. He turned to the women on either side of him. “It was his warning to you,” he said. “...they will deliver you up to tribulation!” As Nathaniel said the word ‘you’, emphasizing it, one of the women sitting next to him jumped nervously, startled by his words. 
But, Mrs. Ashby immediately protested. “But I’ve read so much about this,” she said, her lips pouting. “Christians will not go through the tribulation. We will be raptured. Everyone knows that!” 
Nathaniel smiled briefly at her, then frowned. “I understand it is a common belief these days,” he said, his voice gentle. “But, it is wrong. First, let me tell you something you may find interesting; the word ‘rapture’ appears nowhere in the New Testament. It’s a modern invention. 
“If such a rapture prior to the great tribulation is to be believed, then Jesus would have to appear a second time to rapture his church, but then also a third time, his final appearance, to bring judgment upon the world.” Nathaniel held up his Bible for all to see. “Nowhere in this good book does it make mention of three comings. I can show you this easily enough. Please turn to Hebrews chapter eight,” and after a moment’s pause, Nathaniel read aloud the entire chapter. 
His inflection was perfect and he brought alive what the writer of Hebrews was trying to communicate. I thought that even I understood it. Nathaniel, I realized, was making this Bible study interesting. 
“And so,” he said, “we see the writer of Hebrews talking about the first and second covenants God made, but that the second is so much more important. After all, it is the covenant with Jesus himself. And then, if you’ll go on to Hebrews 9,” and once again, Nathaniel read much of chapter nine, stopping finally after verse 12. “And then if we go on just a bit farther to verse 24:  ‘For Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the Holy Place yearly with blood not his own; for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.’ ” 
Nathaniel looked up, smiling at the woman who sat across from him. “Hebrews makes no reference to a third appearance by Jesus, but does make a specific reference at the end of verse 28, that Jesus is to ‘save those who are eagerly waiting for him.’ So the question is, who will be eagerly waiting? I will tell you my good friend, only Christians will be eagerly waiting. And it will be only those Christians whose faith sustained them right up to the end, through the entire tribulation. The wicked on the earth at that time, those who hate Jesus and everything he stands for will not be eagerly awaiting him. I can assure you of that.” 
I looked around at the faces in the room. Katy stirred beside me. There seemed to suddenly be a high discomfort level among everyone. I didn’t quite understand it all, and I wondered what Nathaniel was saying that could be so disturbing. I elbowed Katy gently. 
“What is he saying?” I whispered. “Everyone looks like they’ve just developed a bad case of constipation.” 
“Sssshhhhhh!” Katy shushed me up. “I’ll tell you later,” she whispered. 
I nodded, chagrined, suddenly wishing I knew more about this subject. 
“There’s more about this,” Nathaniel continued. “I would like you to turn to the first letter of Peter. Peter in chapter 4, verse 12 gives us a hint of what we can expect. This is what he said: ‘Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.’ Peter specifically mentions the word ‘fiery’ and so we can expect the tribulation to be a time of fire, or perhaps the use of the term ‘fiery’ might be symbolic, as some think in terms of refining gold and silver, to purify it, though I sometimes wonder if the tribulation might be the era of global warming that so many scientists today speak of. Or, could it be the fire of nuclear weapons? Perhaps, in our lifetime we’ll know the answer to that. 
“Now mind you, in this letter Peter was writing to Christians, exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappodicia, Asia, and Bithynia. Those were trying times for everyone. Peter was in Rome, unable to escape, persecuted by Nero. The Christians he wrote to were in what is now Turkey, many being persecuted by the local population, and so their faith was foundering. Peter’s faith remained firm, even though he expected to soon die at the hands of Nero. 
“Peter wrote just two letters, but they are magnificent documents. In his letters, Peter, like Jesus in the Olivet Discourse, was speaking to the Christians of the time, dispersed as they were in exile, but he was also speaking to future generations of Christians. His letters were also warnings. Peter was warning what the end time would be like and what we should expect. 
“Please turn to 2 Peter, 3:1: ‘This is now the second letter that I have written to you, beloved, and in both of them I have aroused your sincere mind by way of reminder; that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles. First of all you must understand this, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own passions and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming?’ 
“Now, listen carefully! Pay attention to what I’m about to tell you. Peter’s letters were written to good Christians of strong faith. He’s telling them that in the end, scoffers will come, scoffing to the people of those end days. And so you must then ask yourself, if the church has already been raptured, as some would argue, why then would there be scoffers? To whom will they be scoffing? To unbelievers and to other sinners? I think not. They will be scoffing because times will be hard. Very hard. And so their scoffing will be directed at the good Christians who are trying to maintain their faith, and I will tell you, in the days of the great tribulation, maintaining strong faith will not come easy. 
“As I have said, nowhere in scripture does it say that the church, the final group of Christians alive on earth, will be raptured prior to the great tribulation. In fact, this is what I believe: to say that the church will be raptured in such manner is a false teaching.” 
“Why?” someone asked, somewhat indignantly. 
“Paul warned us,” Nathaniel said. “In 2 Timothy 4:3: ‘For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. As for you, always be steady, endure suffering...’ 
“Anyone who believes that they won’t suffer through the great tribulation is guilty of having those itching ears Paul spoke about. Yes, I understand that no one wants to suffer. No one wants to endure suffering. No one will want to go through tribulation. And I know it’s so easy to dream about rapture, to be taken away before all that. But it won’t happen! Christians have always suffered, and as long as they’re on this earth they always will!” 
Nathaniel’s last words were forceful, jolting the room into total silence. No one dared contradict him. 
“Paul,” he went on, “also warned us to prepare for tribulation. Romans 8:35: ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?’ 
“My good friends, does that sound like rapture to you? Paul goes on to say in verse 36: ‘As it is written, “For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” ’ Does that sound like rapture? It certainly doesn’t to me. No, Paul is preparing us. He is warning us. And further in Romans 12:12 he writes: ‘Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.’ 
“And in the Gospel of John, during the last supper Jesus warned again of tribulation. Please look at John 16:33: ‘I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’ 
“How important is this verse? I’ll tell you this; those were the very last words of advice Jesus gave to the apostles at the last supper. He then said a prayer to his Father in heaven, and after that prayer departed for Gethsemane, where he was betrayed by Judas. 
“So sitting there at the last supper, Jesus told his apostles about tribulation, as he had done over and over before that. If the apostles were to suffer tribulation, how could ordinary Christians who have never seen Jesus, never ate with him, and never walked and talked with him, somehow think they will escape tribulation? 
“Ladies and gentlemen, Paul, Peter and John are telling us what will happen to us. How can anyone have any doubts about their words? The great tribulation is coming! We must be prepared for it!” 
Mrs. Ashby flipped through her Bible, not willing to give up so easily. “But what about this verse?” she asked. “Revelation 3:10? ‘Because you have kept my word of patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial which is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell upon the earth.’ Doesn’t that mean that the church will not have to go through the tribulation? That they will be kept out of it?” The woman looked triumphant, as if she had just completely destroyed Nathaniel’s argument. 
“No my dear,” he said patiently. “That’s a common misinterpretation, and it’s not what Jesus meant. In the beginning of the Revelation to John, Jesus has a message for each of seven churches. In 3:10, the verse you’re referring to, he is speaking to the church in Philadelphia. Now, I can tell you, literally, the city of Philadelphia is not to be saved. It’s impossible for that to happen because it’s in Western Turkey. I’ve been there on numerous occasions. Today, its name is Alasehir and there are few if any Christians living there.” 
“But why would it be impossible?” the woman protested, her lips still pouting. 
“Because now the population of Turkey is almost entirely Muslim. Since, today, most Muslims will not tolerate Christians, and unless there is a miraculous conversion of Muslims in Turkey to Christianity, which I for one do not foresee, then we must assume that God will not keep these people from the hour of trial. Actually, quite the opposite. I’m sure the Turks, and all Muslims, will suffer the wrath of God. 
“Indeed, all of the seven churches mentioned in the book of Revelation are found in modern day Turkey. So the verse you quoted must not be taken literally. There’s something else at work in these verses at the beginning of the Book of Revelation. 
“Jesus is speaking about the end of time, so he must be using these churches symbolically, in essence really talking to the future church, the church that will exist just prior to his second coming. Would you agree with that?” 
“Yes,” Mrs. Ashby said. 
“Well, then, since Jesus has something different to say to each church, I think we can safely say that he is speaking to the seven faces of Christianity that will exist on earth before he returns. In fact, Jesus says it best himself. Revelation 2:23: ‘I will give to each of you as your works deserve.’ 
“Indeed, my dear I’m very glad you brought up the book of the Revelation to John. Please allow me to quote at will from the first three chapters. I memorized them long ago, because I think you should know that just possibly, it might be the most important sermon Jesus ever gave.” Nathaniel put his Bible in his lap and closed it. He began to quote from memory: 
“Revelation 2:7: ‘To him who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’ 
“Revelation 2:10: ‘Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.’ 
“Revelation 2:26: ‘He who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, I will give him power over the nations, and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received power from my Father.’ 
“Revelation 3:3: ‘Remember then what you received and heard: keep that, and repent. If you will not awake, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you.’ 
Revelation 3:11: ‘I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. He who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God; never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and name of the city of my God, the New Jerusalem which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.’ 
“Revelation 3:15: ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.’ 
“Revelation 3:20: ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.’ ” 
Nathaniel looked at everyone sitting around him. “In the first three chapters of the Revelation to John, the word tribulation is used four times. The phrase ‘great tribulation’ is used once, to the church at Thyatira. The word ‘conquers’ is used seven times, once each for each of the seven churches. 
“So what is Jesus really saying to the church of Philadelphia? Yes, he tells them he will keep them from the hour of trial, but in the same breath he warns them that they must hold fast, for he is coming soon, and that they must conquer. He does not tell them they will be taken out of the tribulation, only that they will be kept from it. 
“I can only conclude that this particular group of Christians will go through the great tribulation unscathed. Yes, Jesus will protect them, but they will not be raptured.” 
“Who are they? Where do they live?” someone asked. 
“I don’t know,” Nathaniel replied. “I have an opinion, but it would only be speculation.” 
“So speculate!” the person said, and everyone laughed, including Nathaniel who probably laughed the loudest and the longest. He was in good form this evening, apparently having won many of them over. But his next words stunned them. 
“I think it might be a group of Christians here in America,” he said. “Philadelphia is now Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that it’s in Pennsylvania that the Amish live, good Christians who grow their own food and could probably withstand the great tribulation independently. Of all the groups of Christians throughout the world, none except the Amish can claim such a simple lifestyle. And further, unlike so many others, they are not a cult. They have held to the old ways, and the true beliefs. They are not tempted by the lure of modern society.” 
“But couldn’t it be the rest of America, too?” the same person asked. 
“I think not!” Nathaniel said. “How could it? You must take a good look at yourselves. In America, sin is pervasive, even among Christians.” Nathaniel suddenly stopped talking, looking somewhat dismayed. “Perhaps, that could be the subject of another Bible study. ‘Sin in America.’ However, I didn’t want to digress. The topic of tonight’s Bible study is the end times.” 
“My Bible doesn’t use the word tribulation as yours does,” a young woman said. 
“Can you give me an example?” Nathaniel asked. 
“I just don’t see it,” the woman said, “anywhere in the first three chapters of Revelation. My Bible doesn’t specifically mention tribulation.” 
“I see,” Nathaniel said seriously. “Well then, look at Revelation  2:22. There Jesus speaks of great tribulation. ‘Behold, I will throw her on a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her doings; and I will strike her children dead.’ Have you found it in your Bible?” 
“Yes,” she said, “but it doesn’t say that.” 
“What does it say?” 
“It reads: ‘ So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead.’ It’s almost the same...” 
“No it isn’t!” Nathaniel said vehemently. “It isn’t the same at all! I’m reading from the Revised Standard Version. When it was written, the Greek to English translation of the New Testament was nearly flawless. I know, because I speak Greek. It’s this Bible that most accurately depicts the words of Jesus and all the others.” Nathaniel looked over at Katy and me, and I thought I saw him wink at us. “I’ve spoken and studied Greek for a long, long time. The Bible you’re reading from is undoubtedly the New International Version. Its methodology is seriously flawed. The translations are not accurate. 
“Look, every one of you. The word of God must be expressed truthfully, even if it means bad news. Definitions and meaning are critical to proper understanding. When Jesus speaks of tribulation, he means just that—tribulation! Not some other word! To put different words in the mouth of Jesus is tantamount to a lie! The word of God cannot be altered by mere men! 
“You won’t have a proper understanding of the last days unless you’re reading a Bible that speaks truthfully of the last days! Young lady, please get rid of your Bible. I will gladly get you a new one, one that tells the true story. Words and their meaning are so very important, and I must warn you that some of these new Bibles simply gloss over the truth. 
“Now understand this! Jesus used the word ‘tribulation’ on numerous occasions while speaking to his apostles, telling them that they would have tribulation. Again, I must ask you, if the original apostles won’t be spared tribulation, then how can present day Christians possibly think that they will be spared tribulation? Who are they kidding? 
“Go to Acts 14:22: ‘... through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.’ Here again, the word tribulation is used. Brother Luke, who wrote the Book of Acts, is telling us that only through tribulation can we enter the kingdom of God. If Luke says that, then how can present day Christians somehow think that they will avoid tribulation?” 
“Excuse me, but why isn’t all of America the church at Philadelphia?” someone asked. “I mean, symbolically speaking?” 
“Mark 4:16,” Nathaniel said, sighing audibly. “Let’s turn to that,” and he waited as everyone turned the pages of their Bibles. “Please don’t take this personally, and I sincerely hope that none of you are like this, but let me read to you what I suspect American Christians, or at least many American Christians are like. 
“I believe their faith is shallow and not deep. When the great tribulation comes, many of them will stumble, just as Jesus predicted. In Mark 4:16 he said, ‘And these in like manner are the ones sown upon rocky ground, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.’ 
“In America, I feel your lifestyle is much too extravagant. When the great tribulation begins, as prophesied, I’m convinced many Christians will bail out, choosing themselves and their lifestyle over Jesus. To me this is the greatest of ironies, because in the end if they would simply hold on until he returns, they would have the best lifestyle anyone could possible ever want—a life in paradise.” 
There was a silence in the room that was eerie. No one moved and for a moment no one spoke. 
“We care about Jesus and what he said,” someone finally protested. “Lots of Americans have accepted Jesus into their hearts. God knows we help people more than anyone else. Americans are a very generous people.” 
“Yes, but your faith must be never ending. And when the tribulation comes, it will separate the faithful from the faithless. The tribulation will be the great test. Of this, I have no doubt.” 
“Excuse me, but we’re the richest nation on earth. God gave us this land. Certainly we’ll get through the tribulation. America won’t suffer God’s wrath.” 
Nathaniel shrugged. “No?” he wondered. “You must remember the words of Paul. I think he said it best in the first letter of Timothy: ‘There is great gain in godliness with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world; but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs.’ 
“And here in America, the heart of capitalism, money is the foundation of your capitalistic system. Everyone wants it, and if they have it they want more of it. Americans love money. Most Americans have already chosen money over God. Look around you at this money-hungry society. Look at the men who run Wall Street. Look at your own politicians. Do they love God, or do they love money? Do they love their fellow man, or do they love money? Why has America fallen into the state it is in? 
“How can you possibly think that when the worst time ever on earth arrives, Americans will choose a Spartan lifestyle over their current luxurious one? How many will be satisfied with simple food and clothing? 
“It depends on what is in a person’s heart, but I’m sure most Americans wouldn’t choose such a simple lifestyle. Americans can’t seem to live without their oversized cars, their oversized houses, their widescreen-TVs, their sumptuous meals, their investment portfolios, and everything else that makes up their modern lifestyle. Americans’ desires are hurtful desires. This is not how God intended for people to live. And yes, America will suffer God’s wrath.” 
“Is that in scripture somewhere?” a girl sitting near to us asked. 
Nathaniel quickly spoke from memory. “Colossians 3:5: ‘Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.’ Now,” Nathaniel said, “you must ask yourselves; is America immoral? Is it impure? Do Americans covet and therefore commit idolatry? If these things are true, and I believe they are, then yes, America will suffer the wrath of God.” 
“Is there somewhere else in scripture where it says that?” the same girl asked. “America is a Christian nation. How can you say we will suffer the wrath of God?” 
“Please don’t misunderstand me,” Nathaniel said. “Of course many Americans are very generous and very giving, but when it rains, it rains on both the wicked and the innocent. But yes, there are many places on earth where the wrath of God will fall much harder upon the people who live there, much worse than here. Still, I fear that in America there is much covetousness and so much sin. How can God ignore that? 
“To answer your other question, please refer to Ephesians 5:5 where our good friend Paul gave us a very stern warning. He wrote, ‘Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure man, or one who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for it is because of these things that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.’ 
‘‘These are some of the most serious words I think Paul ever wrote. I think it would behoove Americans to learn this verse by heart. Paul said ‘no immoral or impure man’ will inherit the kingdom of God, and from what I’ve seen of your country immorality and impurity run rampant throughout this country. 
“I know America and what she has to offer. I know that most Americans don’t follow the will of God, and so they will not escape judgment day. There is too much sin here for God to ignore. I have seen it. And more than any other group of people I’ve ever come across, Americans covet what others have. America is the most materialistic, covetous society ever before seen on earth. To God, covetousness is idolatry, one of the worst sins a person could fall under. Only those in America who follow Jesus will be saved, that is if they hold their faith through the tribulation.” 
“You make it sound as if there is no hope,” Mrs. Ashby said, saying it with a slightly scolding tone, all the while smiling. 
Nathaniel looked at her with a gentle expression. “There is much hope, but only for those who are strong in Christ. What I am trying to tell all of you is that a time of great peril and trouble lies ahead of us. We must be prepared for it. Don’t fall into sin and temptation, snares of Satan! Be ready for Jesus, for he will come suddenly, at a time when we don’t expect him, like the proverbial thief in the night.” 
His last words apparently had great impact on everyone, for the room grew very quiet, as if everyone were thinking about the sudden return of Jesus. Nathaniel’s tone indicated he believed that there was no doubt Jesus would return soon. 
He closed his Bible, and then with dramatic swiftness rose to his feet. “Well, I think I’ve talked enough about the tribulation for one evening. I would ask all of you over the coming days to read scripture for yourself concerning this issue. Formulate your own opinion based on scripture, not what you read in some book or heard from someone. The Bible is a book of great teaching. Let it teach you, with guidance from the Holy Spirit, but I caution you to make sure you’re reading this Holy Book in its proper translation.”