What About God?

                One of the more common issues facing people today is whether or not God exists. And I don’t mean some “higher power”, some “cosmic deity”, some “all-powerful force”, I mean the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Yeah, THAT God; the one that will judge you; that tells you what to do. Ladies and Gentlemen, I am a firm believer in the God of the Bible, and here’s why.

                Now yes, I know this subject has been debated back and forth with no ground gained. And I’m not going to try and prove that God exists, nor will I ask you to prove that He doesn’t. Why? Because, frankly, you can’t. I’m not saying that there is or isn’t proof, but you can’t definitively prove either way. Much like we cannot explain what emotions such as Love, Hate, or Peace are, or explain what Gravity is, we cannot prove that God exists. Not without a little faith.

                Yes, I said faith. Blind faith? No. But faith. Faith is something we all have, really. Faith in our checks to pay the bills. Faith in bridges and roads to hold when we drive over (or under) them. Faith that our jobs will continue to provide what we need to live. And while I realize “everyone” is a lousy reason, it is a fact of life.

                So, now that that’s out of the way, why do I believe in God? Well there’s several reasons, really. One of the simpler reasons is, well, why not? Without God, the universe itself lacks an explanation to exist. “But evolution—” don’t; don’t even start. There are SO many flaws with evolution it isn’t even funny. “Figment of imagination”—okay that’s just weird. And dumb. So yeah, I’ll take the option “made by God” for that.

                Furthermore, what harm is there in believing in God? A few rules? A sense of morality? “Everyone has a sense of right and wrong, that has nothing to do with God”. Really? ‘Cause frankly, I know what happens when there’s no rules in place: I grew up on a farm. Without God’s sense of morality, man suddenly begins acting like animals. Rape, murder, incest, cruelty, theft—all these stem from man’s dark nature, and without God’s direction, man will become literally an animal. And you know, to be honest, while I may be a bit of a rebel at times, everyone, including myself, has a certain sense of longing for direction. Without rules you have anarchy, which isn’t fun for anyone.

                Additionally, believing in God gives one a sense of direction and purpose. Why are we here? God put us here for His purpose. What are we doing here? God has plans for us all; we just have to figure it out (another topic for another time). Where are we going when we die?

                Ah yes, the ultimate question man has tried to answer: our own mortality. Where are we going when we die? Without God and His plan of salvation, man is merely left in the ground, to rot away into dust. Life suddenly seems meaningless when we put it like that, doesn’t it? I know some like to argue that life in itself has fulfillment, but, without the possibility of something other than “six feet under”, life becomes boring, useless, a waste of existence. But when we put God in the picture, we discover a whole new purpose to life.

                Now I could go into scientific and historic reasons for belief in God, but that has already been done. So perhaps you’ll take these few words and consider what I’ve said. And hopefully this will answer some questions any of my readers may have. And hey, if I’m wrong and there is no God, at least I don’t got nothing to lose.

                Oh, and one more thing: They tell the story of a king who asked his counselor to prove God’s existence in one word. The counselor simply replied, “Israel”.   

Knock, Knock

                “So we have this street?” I asked.

                “Uh, yes,” Steve replied.

                “Well, these two houses are for sale,” I said. “And they both look empty. And Elder Nathan said that we’re to avoid house number 114, which is that one.”

                “Well, let’s try this one,” Steve said. We walked to the door and I rang the doorbell.

                “Good evening, sir,” Steve said. “We were in your neighborhood and thought we’d stop by.”

                “Well, it’s good to see you,” the man replied. “My name’s Collin Martin and yours is?”

                “Steve Johnson,” Steve replied.

                “Richard Davidson,” I replied, shaking his hand.

                “Anyways,” Steve continued, “we came to offer you our latest Watchtower magazine. This one has an interesting article about ‘Maintaining Your Marriage.’ We’d like to leave this with you and also offer you a free home Bible study.”

                “Well I’d be happy to take this magazine in a minute,” Collin replied. “But can I ask you a few questions first?”

                “Alright,” Steve replied hesitantly, looking at me.

                “Who is your final authority?” Collin asked.

                “Well, it’d be the Bible,” I answered.

                “If I could prove, from the Bible, that Jesus is, indeed, God, and not Michael the Archangel, would you believe it?”

                “You can’t,” Steve challenged. I, for one, was eager to see if someone could, since Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is Michael the Archangel, not God.

                “Well, let’s turn to Isaiah 9:6,” Collin said, “and let’s read it:

                For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

                “Well,” Steve countered, “it says ‘Mighty God’; not ‘Almighty God.’”

                “No,” Collin replied firmly, “it says ‘The Mighty God’. Your Society agrees with the King James Version; they still use it today. The King James says ‘The Mighty God’.

                “Turn to Isaiah 7:14,” Collin continued. He turned to the passage and read:

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

                “Look at Matthew 1:23,” Collin said. “Steve, will you please read it?”

                Steve looked at his Bible and read:

“‘Look! The virgin will become pregnant and will give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel,” which means, when translated, “With Us Is God’.”

                “With us is God,” Collin repeated. “Look at that: even the New World Translation calls Jesus God.”

                “Well—” Steve began.

                “Turn to John 5:17-18,” Collin said, “and let’s read it:

But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.”

                “We have to go,” Steve interjected. “Have a good day.”

                We turned and took several steps away from his house. “Don’t be late for your next appointment!” Collin called after us. “For eternity in Hell is a long time to be wrong.”

                I paused briefly, then continued walking. What did he mean?

                “He must be one of those born-agains,” Steve told me a little while later.

                “Maybe,” I replied.

                A couple of weeks passed. I kept reading those verses over and over, pondering what Collin said. “Don’t be late…long time to be wrong.” What did he mean? I knew we would use “another appointment” when we could see that the person was not listening during a Bible study. Is that what Collin was referring to?

                “Brother Davidson, good to see you,” John Tyler greeted me after a meeting. “I suppose you heard Rachel Bevins was disfellowshipped?”

                “Rachel Bevins,” I repeated, trying to recollect who John was talking about.

                “You remember,” John said, “the girl who got pregnant—“

                “Oh her,” I said, remembering. “Disfellowshipped, huh? Poor girl, she has no money.”

                “That’s her fault,” John said. “If she’d kept in line, she’d still be here.”

                “True,” I said. “Well John, I’d better be going.”

                “Alright. See you next time,” John replied.

                As I drove home, I thought about the disfellowshipping process. The person was brought before three elders, faced the charges, and then punished accordingly. Disfellowshipped ones were not to be spoken to, helped, or contacted in any way. “And people like Rachel, I don’t think it will take long for her to get back in line,” I said to myself. Those who repented were often welcomed back into the organization sometime later. I had faced that committee of three elders once myself: until I finally dropped all contact with my born-again uncle. He had been a JW, but was converted…

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A Final Night

                “Well,” I stated as we returned from Grove Hill, Alabama, “this is the last night, I guess.”

                “Yeah, I guess so,” Felicity agreed.

                We grabbed our things and headed inside.

                “Good evening,” Pastor Mast greeted us. “It’s good to see you again.”

                “Thank you,” I replied.

                The prelude began at 6:27 that evening.

                “Well good evening,” Pastor stated when the service began. “Let’s open with a word of prayer.”

                Everyone bowed their head.

                “Lord we thank You for this day and for Your Word. Bless this service we pray and give us traveling safety when we leave tonight. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

                “Please take your hymn books and turn to hymn number 489; hymn number 489, ‘Glory to His Name’, please stand.”

                “Down at the cross…” we started.

                “You may be seated,” Pastor stated when the song was done.

                We all sat down.

                “Now, we’re going to do things a little different tonight,” Pastor Mast began. “As anybody does, we have questions. So before we close, we’re going to give everyone a chance to ask a question, and we’ll try to answer it. Afterwards we’ll sing another song, take a general offering, and then we’ll close and the refreshments and cookies will be available after the service.

                “So what we’ll do is rotate speakers for the questions,” Pastor explained. “We’ll give each speaker a chance to answer three questions at a time, and if you have a specific question for a speaker, ask it at his turn, and if any one of you speakers has a comment on a specific topic, feel free to voice your opinion. So Brother Antoine, you’re first.”

                “Turn me loose on the audience, eh?” Antoine asked.

                Several laughed.

                “Who’s first?” Antoine inquired.

                Someone raised their hand. Antoine nodded.

                “Um, when this conference started,,” the person began, “you talked about Charity Ministries; could you explain exactly who that is?”

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http://baptistreporter.com/baptist-report/a-final-night

Hope We Have

(Formerly That Blessed Hope)

“Well, well,” I stated as we walked up to the church on Sunday morning. “Seems like we did this a week ago.”

            Felicity looked at me. “That’s because we did,” she bantered.

            “I know,” I replied.

            “Good morning,” Brother Max, one of the ushers, greeted us. “It’s good to see you again.”

            “Thank you,” I replied.

            We chatted for a couple of minutes and then swam to our seats when the prelude began.

            “Good morning,” Pastor Mast announced. “Let’s open with a word of prayer.”

            Everyone stood and bowed their head.

            “Lord we thank You for this day and for the time here that we have together. Bless this service we pray, and help us through the rest of our week. Thank You, dear Lord, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

            “Please take your hymn books and turn to hymn number 489; hymn number 489, ‘Glory to His Name’,” Pastor Mast announced.

            “Down at the cross where my Saviour died…” we all began.

            “Hymn number 492; 492, ‘Jesus Loves Even Me’,” he announced next.

            “I am so glad that our Father in Heaven…” we began again.

            “You may be seated,” Pastor Mast stated.

            Everyone sat down.

            Pastor Mast ran through the announcements, then we sang two more songs (I’ve a Home Beyond the River and My Home, Sweet Home), then we had the offering. Afterwards we sang two more songs (Meet Me There and Face to Face), and then Brother Yoder stepped to the pulpit.

                “Well good morning,” Brother Yoder began. “Please take your Bibles and turn to Titus 2. Titus 2, verses 11 through 14:

                “‘For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

                “My topic this morning is ‘That Blessed Hope’. For the past several days we’ve been looking at eschatological views, and comparing them to Scripture. Today, this morning, I want to prove a view: I will prove to you the Pre-Tribulational view of Scripture.

                “Here in this passage,” Brother David went on, “Paul says that the grace of God has appeared to all men, and has taught us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should ‘live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world’. Romans 6:1-2 says, ‘What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?’ Peter said, ‘Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless’ in 2nd Peter 3:11-14. Last week I spoke on 1st John 2:27-29, ‘Having Confidence’. Verse 28 says, ‘And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.’ The Bible is real clear, we should live in a manner that will please God, so that when He comes, we will be ready.

                “So the question this morning is: When is He coming? Well, the Bible doesn’t tell us in one passage ‘Jesus is coming before Daniel’s Seventieth Week’; there isn’t a verse that says that. If there was, there would be no debate about it.

                “BUT,” David stated, “a person can find a Pre-Tribulational Rapture IF they study carefully. I keep saying we’ll see that but I keep rambling on.”

                Several laughed.

                “Let’s start here in Matthew 24,” Brother David stated. “Here in this chapter, the disciples ask Jesus about the end times. In verse 15, Jesus says, ‘When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.’ Then ‘let them which be in Judæ’ flee. We’re not in Judæ, nor are we Jews. Furthermore, as Jess pointed out last night, we do not have to be concerned about the Sabbath. Those whom Jesus is speaking to are concerned about the Sabbath, or else they wouldn’t have to pray to not have to flee on the Sabbath.

                “Now let’s back up here a bit while we’re in Matthew and go to chapter 16. Matthew 16:17, 18, and 19:

                “‘And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’

                “Here Jesus tells Peter—(the ‘first pope’, by the way)—that Jesus will build His Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. But Daniel says, in Daniel 7:21, the little horn ‘made war with the saints and prevailed against them’. Unless you believe in a Pre-Trib Rapture, which distinguishes between Church-age saints and Tribulation saints, you have a contradiction between Daniel 7:21 and Matthew 16:17-19.

                “Here’s another contradiction,” David continued. “Turn back to Matthew 24. Verses 29 and 30 say, ‘Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.’ Here Jesus says, ‘Everyone will know when I’m coming.’ Even Antichrist knows, because over in Revelation 19, he’s there to meet Jesus at the Battle of Armageddon. Mark 13:24-26 says the same thing: Everyone knows He’s coming. So it’s pretty clear, everyone knows when Jesus is coming. Revelation says, ‘Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall mourn because of him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7). Everyone will know exactly when Jesus is coming at the end of the Great Tribulation, or the ‘time of Jacob’s trouble’. After all, doesn’t it sound like there’s a sign that announces, ‘Jesus is coming!’?

                “But guess what?” David asked. “Matthew 24:36-51, Mark 13:32-37, Luke 12:35-40 and Luke 17:26-37 all indicate that no one, repeat, no one will know when Jesus is coming. We’re here in Matthew 24; let’s read it.

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 

                “Turn to Luke 12:35-40. ‘Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.’ I don’t think Scripture could be plainer—no one will know when Jesus is coming. I don’t know about you, but my King James Bible in English (with a capital e) doesn’t have any contradictions.”

                “That’s right!” someone called.

                “If you don’t believe in a Pre-Tribulational Rapture,” David continued, “I don’t know how you’re going to reconcile these things. Either we spilt the Second Coming into two parts, in such a manner that Jesus comes before the Tribulation for the Church, and after the Tribulation with the Church to rescue Israel, which will clear the Bible of any charges; or, you have some serious problems, contradictions existing in the Bible. And don’t let the atheists catch wind of this, or they will really laugh at you: “Oh, do you have contradictions in your Bible? Do you finally see what we’re talking about?’”

                Many laughed.

                “Furthermore,” David continued, “the Bible calls Daniel’s Seventieth Week ‘the time of Jacob’s trouble’! Jacob is Israel, not the Church. The Great Tribulation, the worst time of earth, is to purify Israel, not the Church, which is already purified.

                “And what kind of ‘blessed hope’ is it, if it wasn’t Pre-Trib?” David persisted. “If we had to go through any part of the Great Tribulation, it would not be ‘blessed’, but ‘cursed’.

                “Also: Where in the Bible are we told to look for the Antichrist? You could search all of today, and all of tonight, and all of tomorrow, and all of tomorrow night, and you would never find ONE passage that says we must look for the Antichrist. Instead, we are told many times to look for Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.

                “So in conclusion,” David stated, “I want us to remember two very precious verses: Luke 21:36 and Philippians 3:20-21:

“‘Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.’

                “Let’s pray,” David stated.   

                All of us bowed our heads.              

                “Father we thank You for this day, and for the time we’ve spent here. We thank You that ‘we shall not all sleep’ but ‘we shall all be changed’ at the last trump, when You call us up to Heaven before that ‘great and terrible day of the Lord come’. Help us all to be ready for Your glorious return, the Pre-Tribulational Rapture. And Lord, as we finish up this conference this week, I ask You bless those who will watch the DVDs, those who will read Amos’ reports, and those who will hear the audio recordings. And Lord, if anyone here, or watching or listening to or reading about this conference, if they don’t know You as their personal Lord and Saviour, don’t let them go another day until they settle this issue. And Lord, if someone here or watching or listening to this conference or reading Amos’ papers does not believe in this ‘blessed hope of the great God and our Saviour’, our Lord Jesus Christ, or the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, help them to study it out and see for themselves that what we have said and will say here in this conference is straight from Your Word. Bless us now as we leave, and bring us all here again tonight if it be Your will. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

                “Please take your hymn books and turn to Saved by Grace, hymn number 512, Saved by Grace; we’ll sing all the verses,” David announced.

                We sang the song, and then Pastor Mast closed:

                “Lord we thank You for this day and for this message, and we pray for Your guidance and blessing through the rest of today and all of this week. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

                “You’re dismissed,” Pastor continued, “we look forward to seeing you tonight. Go, and have a good and a godly week.”

Oh, You’ll See…

“Good evening,” Pastor greeted us as we walked up to the door.

            “Good evening,” we replied.

            “Mr. Short-hand,” David greeted us. “I see you must have gone to the beach; your hair is wet.”

            I felt my head. “Yeah, I guess it is,” I stated. “Yes, we went to Biloxi with the Martins.”

            “Something fun to do,” David agreed.

            Several families had already arrived, since we were a little late (around 6:20 instead of closer to six).

            The service soon started, and then Brother Jesse Homes had the floor.

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Not Mad

“Well,” I stated Friday morning as we finished breakfast, “how does McComb sound?”

          “Let me guess,” Steve replied, “it’s an hour and a half away.”

          “Approximately,” I replied.

*                            *                            *                            *                            *

          “Good evening, Amos,” Antoine greeted us that evening as we walked into the church.

          “Good evening,” I replied.

          “Mr. Short-hand,” Ed stated when he spotted us.

          “Well if I’m Mr. Short-hand,” I replied, “you must be Mr. Film, since you’re the ones filming.”

          “Could be,” he chuckled.

          “So how long have you known shorthand?” Antoine asked.

          “A little under a year,” I replied.

          “Like David said, that’s a handy skill,” Antoine agreed.

          I bit my lip.

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