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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Are You Who You Think You Are?

                      Are You Who You Think You Are?

Some people do it their way right to the end. Saturday I drove up to Idaville, Indiana to see my niece. As I crossed the Owen County line on Hwy 67, I passed a State Trooper going the other way with his lights flashing. Behind him was a white pickup truck with an American flag on each mirror.  I saw what looked like a wooden box in the back. When I checked my rearview mirror sure enough there was a coffin in the back of the truck.  It was followed by an extremely long procession of cars and pickups, probably a couple hundred vehicles.  As a retired trucker the whole thing got my mind to spinning.  The rest of the trip was almost uneventful. At least that was what I thought the case would be. In reality it was just the beginning of several strange events.

The reason I was traveling on Saturday was that I wanted to go to a church near my niece’s house.  Normally I would leave Saturday and return Saturday, but is it fall and I decided to turn over a new leaf. Please pardon the pun. The church sign said Church of the Brethren.  Over the course of my life I have been to almost every denomination, including Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon and Seventh Day Adventist to name a few.  This habit started with my Mom who was always looking for the perfect church. If you read my post, “Church of the Eighty Foot Parking Lot” you will get an explanation of why. The thing that generated my interest in The Church of the Brethren was turning sixty-five and needing a copy of my birth certificate.

When I got the certificate I found my middle name was misspelled.  It was Frederick with a “K.” Well it was supposed to be Frederic with no “K.” That is how my Father’s name was spelled and it is the French way of spelling the name.  I knew there was a strong French link in my historical chain. At least on my Mother’s side of the family it is.  In the course of getting the information to get the certificate corrected I found myself in the family cemetery. It was the one for my Father’s side of the family which is at the site of a former Church of the Brethren, which I have since discovered has a strong German heritage.

That was when the shock really came.  All my ancestors up until around 1900 spelled our last name on their headstones Ryon. The thing is that since 1900 it has somehow changed to Ryan.  The first names all matched the census records, but not the last name.  With names like Asa, Asahel and other Biblical names I was sure I was in the right cemetery and at the right graves because of the birth and death dates.  In the course of my research I traced back to my Great, Great, Great Grandfather and found that he received a land grant in Ohio as a member of the Church of the Brethren from Thomas Jefferson for his service in the Revolutionary War which put us in the United States back to at least the 1770’s.

The whole purpose of this genealogy side trip was to explain why I found myself in the Pike Creek Church of the Brethren and the interesting event that transpired. Many would say it was just a coincidence, but I believe in God and there is no such thing as a coincidence.  All that happens in our lives is orchestrated by God whether we understand it at the time or not. So with almost a 140 year Brethren heritage it definitely got my curiosity going.  It was one of the few churches I had not attended over the course of my almost seventy years of life. So maybe this was another circle closing in my life.

 I have had many neat encounters and experiences in the course of my life.  There is an experience I call “A Harmony of the Spirits.” Don’t take that wrong. There is only one Spirit that matters, which is Holy Spirit.  What I mean by it is that sometimes when I travel I am not sure what kind of spiritual environment I am entering into.  Many times over the course of the years I have entered a church or situation of fellowship and found that the Lord prepared my path with His Word, a sermon, tape or even a song I was listening to just before I entered the situation.  The situation I find myself in seems to pick up right where what I was listening to before entering the situation left off. It gives me peace that I am in the right place.

That happened for me at Pike Creek when the Pastor Jason Metzinger had a short story in his message that reminded me of my experience from the day before.  It was about two pastors who became friends during World War I. One was Catholic and the other Protestant and they became very good friends.  As the war progressed the Protestant pastor was shipped to the front lines and killed. Many soldiers knowing of this unique friendship asked the Catholic Priest if the Protestant could be buried in the Catholic Cemetery.  The priest had no problem with it, but the higher church boards said it could not be done.  So the Protestant was buried just outside the wall. Later soldiers came to visit the grave and had heard the grave was outside the wall. When the soldiers said they could not find the grave the Priest pointed it out to them just inside the wall. When asked how it had been moved the Priest explained, “The board may say who is buried in the cemetery, but I get to say where the walls are placed.” It got some good chuckles.

It also reinforced what I have always believed when I visited those churches I knew nothing about.  All the churches claim to believe in and follow Christ. While I may not agree with or understand their doctrines, but I do know some of the people in that church will believe in the same Christ I do.  So I will find fellowship, where two or more of us are gathered together. That is why I attend church in the first place.

On the way home I made a side trip to a place called Turkey Run near Rockville, Indiana.  The first full week in October they always celebrate the Covered Bridge Festival. There is one particular bridge I always love to go and spend time sitting by Sugar Creek on the sandbar and enjoying nature. Then I realized it was another circle closing.  When I got of the Army in 1978, I used my savings account to start a canoe rental service. I had a van and ten canoes and would take student s on the local rivers and then pick them up when they were done and take them back home. In the course of running that business while also being a student I spent a lot of time sitting on river banks contemplating life. Which leads me to another story, but it is too long to put it in this post, maybe later, Lord Willing. 

Events in my personal life make me wonder if we are approaching some major event.  Time will tell, but Biblically I think the stage is definitely being set for some events mentioned in the Bible.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Armageddon Anyone?

                          Armageddon Anyone?

My favorite person from the Bible is Jonah, probably because I spent most of my life running from God just like him, then God poured out his mercy on me and showed me the error of my ways. Most of the years I was trucking I had “Spirit of Jonah” on the side of my hood, along with Proverbs 3:5-6, which you can see if you zoom in on my blog picture.  Gourds are mentioned only a couple times in the Bible, they were thought to be poisonous, but the cook added something and made them palatable. To me it means they are much like the Bible, it is sometimes hard to swallow, but when you read the whole thing it is easier to take.  In Jonah it says after he delivered the message God gave him for the people of Nineveh, he went and sat under the shade of a gourd plant which God provided for him.  Having delivered the message from God he waited to see God pour out his wrath, but the Ninevites repented and so God withheld his wrath. This upset Jonah, he failed to see or understand that he was just as deserving of God’s wrath as the Ninevite’s

                As you can see it is possible to sit in the shade of a gourd plant,                                                          Just as the book of Jonah said.

From some of my life experiences I have learned God is still unfolding His Word. Events unfolding in the world indicate to me that we are getting awful close to the end, especially the presence of Russia in Syria.  Having spent thirteen years in the Army I understand basic tactics and what happens in some combat situations. To me the stage is definitely being set for Armageddon. ISIS, not that I have any pity on them, is between a “rock and a hard place.”  As Iraq starts to finally get organized and possibly get assistance from their neighbors may be able to push ISIS north out of Iraq.  With Russia pushing south the question becomes where will ISIS go?

This morning I took the time to look.  Using a Google map you can see exactly where Armageddon is located in Israel and the Middle East. As I zoomed out it became apparent to me that it is the most likely escape route for ISIS when they start feeling pressure from both sides.  It is kind of like being in a tube of toothpaste and putting on pressure.  The toothpaste will escape through the weakest point. As that is not going to be South or North, west becomes the only option.  East would put them in confrontation with Turkey.  Armageddon is near a point where Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria all come together. Should ISIS get squeezed hard between Iraq and Syria their only escape route is to the west.  If you draw a line down the border from Syria across the north side of Jordan it forms a line pointed almost straight at Armageddon, or Megiddo in Israel.

Many people, based on the Left Behind Series, or other misguided thinking believe we will be raptured and out of here before Armageddon.  That is not what Jesus predicted though.  Jesus said there would be no sign except the sign giving by Jonah.  So if I am going to have to try and understand things and be ready, the Bible is the best guide we can have.  If we take the time to read it the timeline is pretty clear.

In Revelation 16:13 it speaks of three spirits.  One is a false prophet which I have come in my mind to associate with the United States and western powers, which profess to believe in Christ, but do not walk in the Light of His Word.  The Beast for me has always been the Soviet Union which claims to be Godless and therefore a beast.  The third spirit eluded me for a long time. Then I realized that the Dragon represents China and Asia. Revelation 9:13-18 makes clear that there will come a power from the East that has an army of two hundred million men.  The only nation on earth that can do that is China.  My question is why would they do that? For years I thought it was for the oil in the Middle East. Then a light came on for me. Regardless of what or why the same chapter makes clear that a third part of mankind will be destroyed. That would be two billion people by today's count.

Israel is known to have nuclear bombs. Have you ever wondered how they tested those bombs to know they work?  The rest of this paragraph is strictly conjecture on my part. In the 1960’s China got the bomb. How did they get it. Did they make a pact with Israel to let them test their bombs if they shared their knowledge. The only pact that could interest Israel in that situation would be a mutual defense pact. Whether it is defense or oil, the time has come where the “Dragon” definitely has reason to have an interest in the Middle East.

The entry of Russia into the Middle East mess does create a problem though.  They say they are there to help stop ISIS. Well ISIS is supported by Iran, and Iran is supposedly and ally of Russia. So if Russia fights ISIS they are fighting their supposed friend.  So is Syria getting played?  Is Russia there under false pretenses? Only time will tell and there does not seem to be a lot of that left.  It definitely pits Russian and American interests into a shadowy situation.  ISIS is a cancerous version of Islam that threatens anything and everything that they come in contact with.  ISIS exemplifies all the worst parts of Islam and stirs trouble for those who profess a peaceful version of Islam. The only solution is the total extermination of ISIS, but it is easy to see, that may be easier said than done.

There are a couple events in the last part of Revelation 16 that still need to happen and will really shake things up, please pardon the pun, as it is not a funny matter. A couple of my older posts address some of the end time possibilities that the Bible makes clear will happen before the end.  While I have been writing this blog for almost five years now, my Bible study has been going on for the better part of sixty.   The last thirty have been the most enlightening to me.  Some of the people I talk to say, “Your obsessed.”  That does not bother me as long as I “KNOW” that it is in line with the Word of God.  My peace comes from God and His Word, not from the things of this world.  Getting back on track, the last part of Revelation 16 makes it pretty clear that there will be an earthquake like man has never experienced before.  You may not be interested in taking the time to see what the Bible says on the matter, but I have, and it is rather scary.  The point to remember, regardless of what the “Left Behind Series” says, Christ made it clear we would go through a period of Great Tribulation before the rapture.  In my opinion that time is imminent.

The recent address of the Pope to the United Nations and his meetings with World Leaders only suggests things are moving forward as the Bible said it would. There are not a lot of things I do know, but one I know for sure and believe you can take it to the bank.  If the Bible says it, it will come to pass, regardless of what mankind’s opinion is on the matter.  So I would keep one eye looking up.

If you have read the Bible at all, it is plain to see prophecy is still being fulfilled. The thing to know is that there is not a whole lot of unfilled prophecy.  The Bible makes it clear when it is fulfilled the end will come, regardless if you believe the Bible or not. My only question is will we recognize the two witnesses to the end time when they show up?  I think we will and what they have to say is not going to make unbelievers happy at all.  It is a big old world, but the focal point of the whole world is Middle East.  Why? Because God said it would be.

Guess it is time to go take a seat under my gourd arbor and wait.