Archive for May, 2009

24.8 Identifying the anti-christ.

I intended to write about the anti-christ as it is spoken about in Matthew 24 but found this article on the subject and it was quite good and helpful I thought it better to reproduce it and the link here.  Take time to read it, it is clear, focused and fits nicely with this current series.

You can go directly to the link HERE.  Or scroll down to read it.  If you don’t read it all at least read the parts I have highlighted.

Identifying the Antichrist

By Joseph Mattera www.josephmattera.org

Much has been made since the end of the nineteenth century regarding the “last days” and identifying the antichrist. During World War II a number of preachers even had scriptures to prove that Adolf Hitler was the antichrist and that they were the last generation. Numerous best-selling books have been written regarding the mark of the beast, the false prophet, and the identity of the antichrist and when he would appear. Every time there is an oil crisis or another war in the Middle East, you can count on preachers like John Hagee to come out with best-selling books regarding this as a sign that we are in the “last days.”

The following points will clearly establish the biblical definition of the antichrist:

I. In 1 John 2:18 the Apostle John said that he was living in the last days when the antichrist would appear.

1. Obviously, “last days” couldn’t refer to the end of the world over 2,000 years ago. Some try to get around this by saying that we are now living in the “last of the last days,” which amounts more to eisogesis than biblical exegesis.

2. Examining other passages dealing with the last days clearly shows that Peter, Paul, John, and others thought they were all living in the last days (Acts 2:16-17; 1 John 2:18; 1 Peter 4:7; 2 Timothy 3:1; Jude 17-19; Revelation 1:1).

A.One can only conclude from this that “last days” was not referring to something thousands of years later but rather it was the “last days” for the Jewish Levitical system of animal sacrifices, and the “last days” for the Jewish nation that was to be destroyed in one generation from the crucifixion. This would then officially inaugurate the new “kingdom age.” (Read Matthew 24:34; Luke 9:27; Hebrews 12:27-28.) Remember: The apostles and the early church were all Jewish believers who were speaking of the judgment of God on the nation of Israel for rejecting Jesus as Messiah.

B. The last days of Israel came in A.D. 70 within one generation of the death of Christ, when the Roman army surrounded Jerusalem and desecrated the holy temple. The abomination of desolation is referred to in Luke 21:20.

II. The Apostle John identifies the antichrist as people who didn’t continue in the church, thus identifying it as the “last hour.” Read 1 John 2:18-19.

III. The Apostle John also identifies the spirit of antichrist loosed in the world as those who don’t confess that Jesus “has come in the flesh.” (Read 1 John 4:2-3.)

1. He was obviously referring to those attempting to bring platonic Gnosticism in the church. Gnosticism, which was a heretical cult that did much damage to the church in the first few centuries, believed that the flesh was evil and that only the spiritual world was good. They even taught that the god of the Old Testament was evil (the god of the flesh who created the natural world and needed animal sacrifices to be appeased), and that the god of the New Testament was good; that true Christianity was really about attempting to get free from the flesh and to live in the spirit.

IV. The antichrist is a false spirit that brings false doctrine into the church; it is not a single person.

1. Never once is the term “antichrist” used in the Book of Revelation or any of the other epistles besides 1 John and 2 John.Yet most writers never refer to the antichrist as a spirit of false doctrine that takes the power and relevancy of Jesus away from the flesh or natural realm.

V. A new kind of Gnosticism has crept into the church during the past 120 years.

1. The church has fled the cities to find a sort of paradise in the suburbs or countryside.

2. The church has just concentrated on spiritual things and abandoned cultural and societal reform, unlike their predecessors in America who started most of the Ivy League colleges and universities with the intent to develop Christians to lead the nation in every realm of life.

3. The Evangelical church has now espoused an escapist theology and is now focused on going to heaven and the rapture than the focus of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6, in which Jesus told us to concentrate on His will “on earth as it is in heaven.”

VI. The ironic thing is, those preachers and authors focusing on the “last days,” identifying one man as the antichrist, the rapture, and the mark of the beast, have actually fallen prey to the spirit of antichrist because they take the practical application of the cross of Christ away from the realm of the flesh. That is to say, their escapist teaching is semi-Gnostic because the kingdom cannot be totally applied in the flesh or natural realm.It is almost like saying Jesus Christ has not come in the flesh like 1 John 4:2-4. That is to say, their teaching implies that the cross wasn’t for the reconciliation of the natural created order but just for our eternal spiritual life in heaven. Colossians 1:20 says that Jesus came to reconcile both things in heaven and on earth. Thus, redemption is for the natural realm of the flesh in the created order, not just the spiritual realm in heavenly places.

VII. Best-selling books like the Left Behind series by Tim Lahaye are taking kingdom focus off the earth and into the next world, something totally foreign to the teachings of the apostles and Jesus, who actually prayed in John 17:15: “I pray not that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one.” Thus, praying against the rapture mentality!

Unless we rid the church of this new Gnosticism, Christians will continue to live a dualistic life in which they just care about their inward piety and holiness, and leave the stewardship of the planet to the heathen. Dualism is causing the church to separate from the institutions of politics, law, education, economics, science, history, and philosophy, and is the major reason why the cultures in Western Europe and North America are continuing to erode. May the church fulfill its mission and become the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

I trust this has been helpful in this lengthy discussion.  I do not know the author and perhaps would not agree with everything he teaches but this article is very clear and I believe correct in its orientation.  More on 24 after Camp of Champions is over.

May 28, 2009 at 9:14 am 2 comments

24.7 Question one-conclusion.

I stated early on in this teaching on Matthew 24 that the futurists take the 3 questions the disciples asked Jesus and combine them into one question. Then they assume this “one” question is about the Second Coming and the end of the world.  But we have shown in previous posts that there really are 3 distinct questions and they are not about some time yet in the future but are about the events the disciples, who heard Jesus prophetic words, were going to face in the days ahead.

It is interesting to note that Matthew’s fellow gospel writers record only the first of the three questions in their accounts of this conversation.  The first question and the answers are simply about when the temple would be destroyed (Mark 13; Luke 21)  The futurists want us to believe the 3 questions are really only one question and refer to a time yet to come.  But Mark and Luke include only one question and the answers they record to that question are clearly about the destruction of the temple, an event history has already shown us, has taken place.   Is it not fair to assume that all three disciples are writting about the same events?

That Mark and Luke do not include the other questions, but do include Jesus’ answer to the first question in the same way Matthew does, is confirmation that Jesus is answering only the first of the three questions and that all the other things He says would happen took place within the same 40 year period.

One can not understate how important an event it was when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed.  Jerusalem was the holy city and Mt. Moriah where the temple was situated was the place where Abraham was willing to offer up his son Isaac (Genesis 22:2)  It was also the place where God met with David (2Chronicles 3:1) and the place where Solomon built the first temple.  It was the place where sacrifice was made for sin and the center of Jewish life and culture.  There was no place more important to the men who were listening to Jesus than the temple.  Their heritage and every thing sacred to them as Jews was wrapped up in that temple.

But not only did the destruction of the temple destroy their heritage and culture, it also brought to an end the Jewish religious system, the old covenant, replacing it with a new covenant made possible through the death of Jesus, an event that took place shortly after Jesus’ prophesies recorded in 24.

The writer of Hebrews makes it abundantly clear:  When God speaks of a new covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete.  It is now out of date and ready to be put aside. (8:13)

It was the destruction of the temple that made the old covenant obsolete and ushered in the New Covenant, a covenant made with better and more lasting promises.  Jesus’ death on the cross provided us with a High Priest who made the ultimate, complete and final sacrifice.

The destruction of the temple is the pivotal point of Christian history and the Bible.  It is where the Father’s plan makes a big turn and moves from law to grace as the means of salvation.  It destroyed a religion of rules and replaced it with a relationship of grace and love.

To suggest that this question, when will these things happen,  is pointing to some time yet in the future is to ride right over the most important point in the salvation story and miss the point of these crucial and critical events.

No wonder the enemy wants you to think we are still waiting for these prophesies to be fulfilled!

May 27, 2009 at 2:21 pm Leave a comment

100K

The View From the Juniper Tree went on line in January of 2007.  Having never “blogged” I had no idea what I would write about or if anyone would read it.  Now 52 months later the Juniper Tree has passed the 100,000 mark in views.  That feels pretty good to me. 

On October 30th of 2007 I posted a conversation with Lee and Mary Akin along with some pictures of them and their daughter Jada.  That post, along with some follow up posts on the Akins, is by far the most viewed of the 377 times I have posted on the Juniper Tree (nearly 8K views).  Second most popular post was written by Linda about what it was like to move from a big house into a 5th wheel RV.  It is read many times every day!  The most read of my writings is this one on the institutional church.  The “about” page has been viewed nearly 1000 times, which I think means there have been a few folks drawn here that wanted to know something about the author. 

The blog started as a way to keep our family and friends updated on our travels between Washington, Oklahoma and Arizona, along with many points in between.  Monday morning meanderings has been a staple on the blog to accomplish that purpose.  The first one was put up on my brothers birthday, June 25, 2007 , posted from Shelton Washington, and the last went up a few days ago, from Sayre, Oklahoma.  There have been a total of 79 meanderings, written from nearly 30 different locations.

I have done a couple of series along the way that have drawn some interest.  This one on the Kingdom began back in March of 2008 and so far there  has been 16 in the series but 131 of the 377 posts have had a Kingdom focus.  Nothing more important for the Juniper Tree than the Kingdom.

The most difficult series to write has been the current one 24.  I am learning as I go and finally outing myself as to my theological views.  The current one precedes this post. 

Posts with pictures get way more views than long posts about spiritual stuff.  Hard to figure that out! 

All 5 of the grandchildren are a special part of the Juniper Tree.  This post announced the arrival of the Eyob Mark Armstrong, who joined the family from Ethiopia.  Eyob is now nearly 2.5 and though he has struggled to adapt and be adapted to, he is deeply grafted into our family.  Sloan, Sean, Canyon Paul and Sage round out the grandchildren with more to come we trust?

CIMG3914

There are hits from all over the world.  Included in the last 30 hits to the site, are Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, New Mexico, Missouri, Mississippi, Massachusetts, along with the usual staple of visits from Washington, Oklahoma, Texas and Arizona.  In the last 30 hits to the site, there have been visits from the United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Kuwait and Canada.  At last count people from more than 70 countries and all 50 states have stopped by the Juniper Tree.  By far the largest concentration of hits comes from Washington and Oklahoma.  Nearly 100 visits come from Shelton, Union and Olympia every week. 

Since I started linking the blog to my Facebook page the visits have increased by 10%.  Guess I should get a MySpace deal too.

It has been fun, frustrating, fulfilling and freeing to keep up this regular regiment.  It has become a regular part of my life and I am thankful so many of you find it a regular part of your life, as well.  Thanks for reading. 

100,111 and counting!

May 20, 2009 at 11:05 am 6 comments

24.6 The great tribulation and the false Christs.

As we move through Matthew 24 we are looking at the prophesies that Jesus makes to see if they were fulfilled during the 40 years or so that immediately following the time He spoke these words.  There are several different prophesies in 24 and I wrote about a number of them in the last post.  Even though I will not take the time to do it, it can be shown that all the prophesis of 24 were fulfilled during the time period Jesus said they would and there is no need to be looking at the “signs” of these current times to determine when Jesus will return.

Here are two of the remaining ones that get peoples attention.

A great tribulation: For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occured since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.  Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. (24:21-22)

Futurist teachers say this time of great tribulation (greater horror than anything the world has ever seen-NLT) will come at a time, yet in the future, just before the end of the world.  Christians, especially western Christians, have talked so much about this horrible time it has taken on a life of its own own- known as- The Great Tribulation. 

If you know anything at all about the time when Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed, you know it was the most horrific of times, perhaps not in magnitude (6 million Jews slaughtered by Hitler, the killing of millions in Africa in the 20th and 21st centuries are both larger in number) but certainly no period of time rivals the anguish and suffering of the days that occurred during the Roman siege of Jerusalem and the total destruction of the Temple.

Josephus, (the dude has his own website [HERE] and he is nearly 2000 years old!) perhaps the best historian of that period, tells how the Jews committed unthinkable atrocities to each other, including cannibalism, during the famine I wrote about in the last 24 post.  He tells a story of a woman murdering her little boy, cooking and eating him and then arguing with thieves who broke into her house looking for food, as to who would eat the other half. 

During the famine Jews swallowed diamonds and other precious stones in hopes of escaping and carrying them to a safe location.  The Romans knew about this ploy and captured these men and women and cut open their stomachs and intestines searching for whatever they could find.  They ripped open dozens of empty stomachs to find one with a diamond.

Titus put a stop to that kind of torture but the Romans found other ways to massacre Jews.  Jewish men, desperate to find food for themselves and their families, would try to escape the city only to be caught by the Romans who would cut off their hands and send them back into the city.  Josephus writes that 500 men were whipped, tortured and crucified, everyday.  There were so many crosses at the gate of the city they ran out of room.  This slaughter continued until there were less than 100,000 Jewish people left in the city and these were led off to captivity in Egypt or given by the Romans as gifts to the leaders of nearby provinces to be used for sport in their coliseums.

When Jerusalem was destroyed it set off the killing of Jews in other regions and countries surrounding Jerusalem.  Even places where the hatred of Rome was nearly as great as it was in Israel joined in the frenzied genocide of the Jewish people.  You can easily find periods in history where more people have been killed, but the violence during the AD 70 tribulation of the Jewish nation was extreme in its horror.

One of the problems I have long had with The Great Tribulation is attempting to vision how things could be worse then they were during this historical period.  We have seen and will continue to see horrible treatment of human beings by other human beings, even treatment as terrible as it was during these days but we will never see a time where the torture will be worse.  To suggest there is a tribulation of greater horror than these days, prophesied by Jesus yet to come, is to miss the point.

I was going to write about the anti-Christs too but will add that in later.  Can’t stomach any more today.

My point with all of this will be made clear in the days ahead but I need to say this: A Kingdom view of the end of days focuses not on how bad it is or how bad it might get but instead focuses on making ready a victorious Bride for the coming of the Bridegroom and the establishing of an unshakable Kingdom, one rescued life at a time.

The American church especially, has spent so much of it’s time and resources warning people about the perceived horror of The Great Tribulation and visualizing some AntiChrist in every leader they don’t agree with, including the current president of the USA, while ignoring the strategic mission of  the Church.

Our mandate is to change the culture by being salt and light, bringing real hope, real healing (especially physical and emotional), real deliverance (there is a war out there) and real freedom by loving people, especially those who “persecute us and say all kinds of ugly stuff about us, which is untrue” (Matthew 5:11)

It doesn’t matter, in fact won’t matter, what any world leader or culture does if the Body of Christ will actually be the Body of Christ.  We must stop looking for the return of Jesus and start being Jesus.  I am pretty sure the point of His leaving, was so there would be billions of Jesus’ to do the job rather than One.

His Kingdom will come and His will will be done on earth in the same way as it is in heaven, not when Jesus returns or we are jerked out of here but when each one of us, operating by the Spirit in the “spiritual places” wages war and takes back the territory lost in the garden proclaiming Jesus is Lord to the glory of God, one day at a time, one person at a time, one situation at a time, one location at a time. 

Trying to re-fulfill prophesy is a monumental distraction we do not need to waste our time on.

May 19, 2009 at 2:28 pm 5 comments

Monday morning meanderings. Vol. 79

Sayre, Oklahoma

Western Oklahoma really does have great weather, except for the wind, hail, tornadoes and did I say wind?  But not today.  Not much wind, beautiful blue skis, green grass as far as I can see (which is a long way out here) and a high of 80.  If the wind can stay below 15, it is almost perfect here.

Item one.The fb is on fb. (read a few posts back)  Not sure I fully get Facebook.  Not sure of the ins and outs that make it a more enjoyable experience.  Brad helped me some and playing around with it, you learn a little.   It has been fun to reconnect with some people I haven’t seen or heard from in a whole lot of years.  No one from my high school has showed up yet.  Perhaps after 41 years it is asking to much (ouch).  Weirdness happens pretty often, when up in the right corner a picture appears of a person not all that easy to see that asks me to “add as friend”.  Some pretty witty thoughts go through my mind…  Probably happening to them too.  I think you have to be a friend to view my facebook page.

Item two.  I had an opportunity to speak at Trinity yesterday.  So I got all dressed up in my clean shirt and blue jeans, yes jeans and did my thing.  How cool is it that you can preach in jeans and not a tie in the place.  That feels real good.  The notes from that message are in the previous post and if you are so inclined you can access the message in the archives of Trinity’s.  HERE. 

I really enjoy speaking, miss it a lot.  I teach in small venues a fair amount and while I work just as hard if there is half a dozen in the group, there is nothing quite like being in front of a few hundred people sharing what the Spirit has downloaded into your heart.  It was special for me and the Spirit used it.  Nothing better than being used by the Father.

Item three.  Just so I don’t forget how to post pics, here is a picture of 4 boys I like a bunch (well at least 3 of them):

CIMG3774 Sean, Eyob, Sloan and Jake the Dog.

And one of another couple of  kids that make me smile!  CP and Sage O.

CIMG4087

Time to go back to Washington to get some more pictures.  They change so fast.  Pictures please, parents!

 Hope you have a great Monday and a great week.  Glad my NW family and friends had a great weekend of weather.  When it is nice in the NW there is no better place on earth.

blogging

When Linda doesn’t get it..

May 18, 2009 at 10:09 am 3 comments

Tomorrows message-today.

Place and time: Trinity Fellowship-9 and 10:45  (listen live at 9:30 Central time HERE)

Best thing about speaking at Trinity?  Blue jeans!

Thesis: Looking at life through the “eyes of the heart” we see things that “are not as though they were”. 

Text:  Watch over your heart with all diligence for from it flows springs of living water. Proverbs 4:23

Key points:

  • used to say “get it right in the mind, get it right in life”.  If that were true the people who know the most would live life the best.  we know that isn’t true. 
  • Looking at life with our minds we can only bring what we know in the mind to bear on situations that seem impossible and offer the problem natural solutions.  The eyes of the heart allow us to see what God sees, know what God knows and bring supernatural solutions.
  • The mind looks at impossible situations, takes in all the data and renders a logical, fact based conclusion and says to the heart “can’t be done, won’t work, you are going to die, it’s over…”
  • The heart looks at the same impossible situation and says “I see things you can’t see, I see a different reality…”
  • It isn’t denying reality, it is accepting a different reality.
  • Agreements are life changing.
  • We zero out the supernatural when we make agreements with what we can only see with the eyes of our mind.  The enemy says “look, that situation is impossible”  and when we only look with the eyes of our mind, we say “you are right, I agree, it isn’t possible.”
  • When we bring the super natural to bear on the situation and see with the eyes of the heart, we hear our Father say, “I know what I am doing, there is another side to this situation…” and we enter into an agreement with the Father and the supernatural is unleashed.
  • Kingdom power is only released to the degree I am in agreement with it.
  • The Father always has an agenda for us in every situation but so does the enemy.  In every situation we face we either partner with the Father or with the enemy.
  • The enemy says “your problems are greater than the solutions you carry.”  The Father says “the solutions you carry are greater than your problems.”
  • One produces fear the other faith.
  • If you choose your enemy’s analysis you make an agreement with the one who hates you, wants to kill you, wants to steal everything from you.  If you choose the Father’s veiw of the situation you make an agreement with the One who loves you, wants to give you life beyond your comprehension, and has nothing but good for you.
  • One is a temptation that leads to death the other a test to pass that leads to deeper faith, greater anointing and more opportunity to unleash the supernatural.

The greatest revelation ever is this:  your Father is good.  Drive a stake in the ground today, build a alter in your heart right now, to the reality that your Father is good.  Always, all the time. 

  • when you get blindsided by a bad diagnosis-your Father is good.
  • when you lose your job, nothing changes…your Father is good.
  • when your child acts out-your Father is good.
  • when your marriage is a wreck and hopeless-your Father is good.

To see with “the eyes of your heart” and not the “eyes of your mind” you must guard it with a burning, unrelenting, absolute conviction that your Father is good.

There you have it.  You can sleep in tomorrow!

May 16, 2009 at 10:35 am 1 comment

The fb on fb and change.

The fb on fb HERE. (guess you have to be a facebook person to access my page, shows how muchI know.  So join facebook, where have you been!) If you get that you are really in the inner circle.  A couple of years ago during a very hard time for some of our friends, I started calling myself the Fat B_ _ _ _ _ _.  I guess you had to be there to appreciate the levity those two words brought into some tough days.  So now I just refer to myself as fb with these particular people.  Now I have a Facebook account and so I am the fb on fb. 

Early yesterday until late last night was spent in a meeting with one of the ministry groups we are attempting to help become more strategic and Kingdom focused.  I was one of the hardest days I have spent in a really long time.  It reminded me of some of the marathon board meetings I used to be part of back in the day.  I had forgotten how hard it is to move organizations into freedom and viability when they are stuck in what used to be. 

Once you have done something for so long, in the same way and get comfortable and settled it is just really hard to get out.  I wonder how many ministries, para and church, begun 40 years ago or more are going through painful changes with the hope of somehow reclaiming past glory.  So many ministries I see just keep rolling the good ol days out there, week after week and wonder why nobody is listening anymore.  Many don’t even wonder… Many don’t even notice… Someone described this loss of focus and just going through the motions day after day as, “rearranging chairs on the deck of the Titanic.”

It is a unique leader who can be part of a real move of God in one generation and season and learn to adapt and change to fit what the Father is doing in a new season and generation.  There aren’t many who can do it.  When we get to about age 55 or so there is real danger that the work will begin to become about the salary and the organizations survival and not about advancing the Kingdom, without regard for our own security and the institutions.  I am pretty sure at one level my failure to lead appropriately in the past was motivated in some way by having settled.  Institutions can look healthy on the outside for a long time after the inside has stopped being healthy.

Change is really hard.  Most people in the professional ministry believe themselves to be terribly overworked and busy but the truth is probably that they have found things to do that justify to themselves, showing up and can’t break out of it long enough to evaluate if what they are doing is really accomplishing anything. Ministry is weird that way.  You don’t really “produce” anything that can be quantified by anything other than by how many people came and if the budget is being met.

Not sure how much help we were yesterday.  It is one thing to know something is broken, it is quite another to know how to fix it.  Sometimes the truth is it can’t be.

I hope to write the next installment of 24 today.  Look for it!

May 13, 2009 at 9:38 pm Leave a comment

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