If you ask people, “Are you pro or anti?” you want to know if they are for or against. If someone is anti-Christ, he is against Christ.

Jesus did not come to earth to have a good trip. He came “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).  He tried to tell his disciples, and they didn’t understand–and didn’t want to. They preferred life over death, good times over bad. Can’t blame them. I probably would have voted the same way.

Jesus worked mighty miracles. After feeding five thousand, he could see something was wrong. “Perceiving that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself” (John 6:15). Someone looking for popularity would have given in. He was seeking the favor of One.

Not only did he die unpopular, but he died a criminal. He was a misfit, “despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces…” (Isaiah 53:3). And “he was numbered with the transgressors” (12), guilt by association. He didn’t hang around popular people. The leaders said, “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2). He had a short season of popularity, but it didn’t last.

Take your pick–a lamb or a beast. Just before the return of Christ, a man will arise, inspired not by God but by Satan (antigod). He will be endowed with supernatural powers from the underworld to deceive those not belonging to Christ. He will become a world leader when a fatal wound is miraculously cured: “The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. Men worshiped the dragon [Satan] because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast [antichrist] and asked, ‘Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?’” (Revelation 13:4). He will bring substantial and temporary peace in the world, fueled by Satan and demons. It will mean hard times for Christians, but the worst will only last three and a half years.

Paul warns, “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come [the day of the Lord] until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple proclaiming himself to be God…The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing”(2 Thess. 2:3,4,9,10). Want to know more about this man? Daniel 7 and Revelation 13.

The world, blinded by sin, will think that this demon-possessed man is the answer to the world’s racial and social problems. When he proclaims himself god, humanity will believe his miracles and worship him with songs of praise. I won’t if I am around, and I hope you don’t. We live in an age of tolerance–except for those who disagree!. Be prepared to face ridicule, and maybe more.  Christians will give their lives as the world applauds. Then the triumphant King returns and that’s it for a race in rebellion. Enter eternity of bliss for followers of the Lamb! Make sure whose side you’re on!


It’s not the first book I recommend to a new Christian. Maybe it would be the best. It’s the favorite of my special-ed daughter, Naomi. It’s a picture book. It starts with Jesus addressing seven real churches in what is now Turkey. He commends, corrects, and comforts according to the vitality of each church. Some are doing well; others are barely surviving.

We remember many of those messages. He told Smyrna, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (2:10). He affirmed the church of brotherly love, Philadelphia, and promised to keep them “from the hour of trial that comes upon the whole world” (3:10). He warned lukewarm Laodicea that they were about to be spit out of his mouth (3:16).

Then comes a long section–visions of judgment upon a world in rebellion (chapter 4-18), most of the book. The suffering church is called to endure, a key word. The victorious ones are those who “loved not their lives even unto death” (12:11).

Chapter 19 gives us a glorious picture of the triumphant king whose “judgments are true and just” (2). This king rides a white horse and triumphs over the powers of darkness, holds the Great White Throne judgment, and gives the verdict that sends some into everlasting bliss and others (most) into the lake of fire. Among the first to go are the devil and death. He then ushers in the new heaven and new earth for the redeemed to enjoy for eternity, closing with a message given three times, “Behold, I am coming soon!”

John the author, writing in exile, doesn’t paint a picture of the church taking over the world. He says, “I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patience endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” (1:9). He tells his readers, including us, about “the things that must soon take place” (1:1). He promises that Jesus “is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him” (1:7). His return is our consuming hope (I Peter 1:13).

The following truths come through:

  1. The end-time church is not winning a popularity contest. Most of the world has chosen its hero, the antichrist. The church is promised a place with the glorious king if it holds out faithful to the end.
  2. Some make it, most don’t. The lie of universalism (that all eventually will) is exposed in this awe-inspiring book. The church does not present to the Bridegroom a largely converted world. As Jesus said, “The gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matt. 7:14).
  3. The answer to the woes in the world is not a victorious church but a triumphant King with fire in his eyes. When the suffering increases, we are told to lift up our heads, because our redemption is drawing near (Luke 21:28)! He is the ultimate answer. He deals with the race in rebellion, not the church.

Some teach a more “positive” end-time picture. Is this one pessimistic? No, because it is truth. Read the Book! It focuses on the exalted Christ who overcomes, who says what He will do–and does it. Our trust is centered in the Lamb–alone! Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!


God guided Israel with a cloud and pillar of fire in the wilderness. God uses the internal GPS of the Spirit under the new covenant, far more personal, more accurate. Jesus said that the Spirit speaks (John 16). You can hear!

Sometimes the “voice”is a picture, an impression, a conviction. That, too, can be the God within directing us. The Holy Spirit speaks spiritual truth, but He also speak practical truth, as with my two car examples in the last blog.

FOUR TRUTHS to develop a listening ear:


Guidance is more about God’s ability to lead than your ability to follow. Worry that you haven’t heard accurately puts the ball in your court. Never belongs there.

Bob told me on Friday he was going to pull his three boys out of our Christian school. I said, “I’d encourage you to put the ball in God’s court. Tell him what you are going to do and if He had anything to say about it, He could tell you.” On Monday the boys were at school. Bob said, “God gave me a dream telling me they belonged in the school.” Way to listen, Bob! Joseph was about to divorce the woman carrying Jesus. Disastrous! God took it upon Himself to let Joseph know, because hearing God’s voice is mainly about God’s ability to speak.

Yogi Berra said, “When you come to the fork in the road–take it.” A girl at Bible school came up after a class on “Hearing the Voice of God.” She said, “I need to choose from three churches where I will do my internship.” She choked up as she said she didn’t want to decide wrong. Worry is a terrible menace in hearing. I asked, “Do you have a preference?” She answered, “All sound good, but maybe St. John’s.” “Okay, tell God you are choosing St. John’s on Friday, and if He had anything to say, He could contact you.” We prayed, and I urged her to cast her burden on the Lord. She did–and peace came.


At point A ask B questions. An E question for a girl anticipating her first date is, “Should I marry him? A good B question: “Should I spend time with him?” A sophomore in college could ask, “Is this a good major for me?” rather than, “What should I do with my life?” Asking ultimate rather than immediate questions brings confusion.  God’s plans usually unfold–one step at a time.

I have come to realize that we can ask God questions, especially yes or no questions. God promises to guide us: “The steps of a man are from the Lord” (Psalm 37:23). He more often answers immediate rather than ultimate questions.


Include listening in prayer times. You can learn. Samuel’s life was characterized by hearing from God. Yours can be too!


Those who heed will hear. Tell God, “I love hearing from you.” I write down what I hear God saying to me. Would the Holy Spirit be interested in making you an expert at hearing His voice? This is not for the pros; It is for you. “His sheep hear his voice.” Baaahh!



“Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. Open the eyes of my heart. I want to see you. I want to see you.” We have physical eyes to see physical reality and spiritual eyes to see spiritual reality, just as real.

The king of Syria called his men together: Someone was revealing my secrets.”  A servant said, “Not us; it is Elijah. He tells the king what you share in the bedroom” (2 Kings 6:12).  So the king surrounded Dothan at night. In the morning the servant of Elisha saw the army and panicked. Elisha told him that they had many more warriors on their side. Then he prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord,” and the servant saw the mountain full of horses and chariots, just as real–far more powerful.

Paul prayed for the Ephesians “that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened“ (1:16-18). He wanted them to SEE their riches and the power of God within them. Do you see it?

We have inner ears.  One commonly repeated Scripture (eight times in Revelation) is: “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” [And not one of them is a wife telling her husband to open his ears]. My question: Do you have ears to hear? Then hear.

I had heard that prayer was two-way communication with God, but I never met anyone that took it seriously. Until I started praying with Larry Christenson. I discovered little by little that the Spirit has a voice and that I could hear it.

I planned to drive into LA. I asked God, “Shall I take this car?” “No,” was the response. It had been overheating. As I prepared to go an hour later, I again asked–same answer. Thinking I was making it up, I took the car. I didn’t drive it home.  God wanted to save me trouble, and I had not learned to listen.

Fast-forward to a few years ago. I was driving to buy tires on Craig’s List. I asked God on the way, “Is this going to work?” The voice inside spoke, “No.” I kept driving, thinking it was my own voice. It wasn’t. I delivered four tires to Tires Plus to put on my car. They called: “Wrong size.”

I have learned through failure that I can hear the Spirit’s voice. Not an audible voice, though as clear. The Spirit lives within. Jesus said of the Spirit, “He will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you” (John 16:13,14). Then Jesus repeated what he had just said, “Therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you” (15). Vital words for Christians to hear!

Two times Jesus used the word “speak” and three times “declare.” Those are words of communication.  The disciples understood it and learned to hear the God within. Those words are more than a nudge or a sense, although the Spirit can use these devices as well. He is speaking truth, not just giving feelings. You can learn to hear! (More coming!)


Marriage problems are not usually marriage problems–they are character issues. If you take up offenses, you will probably do it at work, in your marriage, at your church. Do you see a marriage counselor for it? You could, but you’d do better to deal with your offendable heart. Most issues that come up in a marriage can be dealt with by surrendering more fully to the Lordship of Christ and asking the Holy Spirit to work His character in you.

Marriage is not for eternity. It is what God has provide for our time on this earth–for relationship, intimacy, and the procreation of the race. No more procreation in the new earth, the Bridegroom of us all is Jesus, and the honeymoon lasts for ever.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t work on our marriage, but the way we do it is important. It is seldom a specifically marriage problem. Almost always it relates to an issue God is putting focus on so we can grow up in God. This helps us not to say, “If he would only pick up his clothes,” or “If she would only quit nagging…” Instead, we can say, “What can I be working on because of this conflict? Where do I need to change?” You probably don’t need a marriage counselor. You more likely need a change in your attitude or behavior.

Does this belittle the importance of marriage? No. It was the first institution created. It answered to Adam’s loneliness. It brought two very different people together–a man and a woman. “And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion…” (Genesis 1:28). Marriage is God’s provision for our days upon this earth.

Understanding this temporal relationship could head off some divorces: “I can’t live with this woman. She is driving me crazy.” Okay, change how respond to her. Learn to forgive. Reconstruct a thankful heart. Like the plaque says, “People aren’t thankful because they are happy. They are happy because they are thankful.”Your issue is probably not related to your marriage; it is related to you. The one constant in all your problems, whether at work or in your marriage–is you. There you are again.

We need to normalize conflict. We are not surprised when the world or a spouse does not treat us like we’re a superstar. A guy comes home and complains about an overbearing boss. Surprise! Is that a work-related problem? No, it is a life-related problem. This guy needs to learn how to live with people he doesn’t like. Peter would tell him that it is an issue of submission, not something he takes to human resources. An attitude needs to change in him, not his boss. Problems are gifts from God to help us develop character, whether on the job or in a marriage. We are training for the new earth.

And just so you know–how we live here impacts how we will live in eternity. There is something called rewards. It gives us incentives to change, to learn how to live above offense, to develop a good forgiver, to practice the art of thanking rather than nagging. Character is worth going after!


me. Slow to learn, but getting it–sort of. I want to learn to…


Gratitude overcomes an attitude. I’ve watched it happen with young adults who badmouthed parents. When they did the assignment of writing a letter of appreciation to Dad and Mom, it changed their outlook. Also changed some parents. Gratitude opens the door to richer communication. Complaining shut the door. The more often I thank God for the special gift of Karen, the more I am able to enjoy who she is.


My friend Kevin said that he prays for the North Korean leader. It never occurred to me. I blogged about how crazy he was, not about how broken.  What if all his citizens prayed for him? The Bible tells us to pray for those who abuse us. Use prayer for people close to you. Let your spouse, your children, your friends know you are praying for them. Use it for people far from you–like presidents and kings.


Don’t wait until you make a lot of money. It is not how much you give but how much you have left. The widow who got the attention of Jesus gave a small offering, but it was all she had. Impressive to the Son of God. Generosity is fun. Loren Cunningham said, “We shovel it out the front door, and God shovels it in the back door. And His shovel is bigger than our shovel.”


It says to people that you value them more than your own time. Servants come early. Sometimes important people come late. Be a servant. Don’t make people wait for you, but be more than willing to wait for them without grumbling. If you complain, you are showing that you are important rather than a servant. God, forgive me!


My father and mother were. They never used the leverage of loud to make their point. Yelling uses an illegitimate force–volume. I like the word “gentleman.” We’re told who we are right in the title. Paul tells us to be gentle even with those who oppose us, a great test of our gentleness.


It had never occurred to me as a young man. Sorry about that, Karen. I took up offenses when I thought I deserved to. Living above offense is a lot more healthy. To be unoffendable means having a good forgiver. I have learned to forgive before the offending one comes to me and asks–well sometimes. It is remarkable that Joseph forgave his brothers after what they did. Way to go, Joseph!


It’s not how high you can get but how low you can go. No one has ever gone lower that Jesus. “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve…” I told my kids when they were invited over to a friend’s house, “Do the dishes. Don’t expect to be waited upon. Wait upon others.”

ASSIGNMENT:  Rate yourself on each quality with a 10 to 0, ten being like Jesus and zero being like the devil. Then rate yourself in three months and see if you are growing.


Here’s the best piece of advice I received about a school we were starting. A friend said, “Under-promise and over-perform.” I gave people a sales pitch, and it was ending up better than reality. That is dishonesty, though it doesn’t feel that way. I was just being positive about a good thing.

Jesus is not like me. Surprise!.  He talks about hardships we will need to endure. He warns as much as He encourages. He wants us to know what we are signing up for. He told would-be followers, “Foxes have holes, birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Luke 9:58).  In other words, get ready for tough times, not a comfortable ride.

We somehow expect that because God is good, so is the future. The Christian life will be like a wonderful vacation. That is not what we are told or sold. Peter said, “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you,” but we are. And maybe we expect that the better the Christian, the better the deal. The opposite is more often true. Look at Paul and Peter, super-apostles who suffered much and died as martyrs.

We are told to put all our marbles in the age to come. Peter, writing to exiles of the Dispersion about suffering, said, “Set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:13). He said that our “living hope” is waiting for us in eternity, and it is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for” us (1:4). Justice comes at the end of the end.

Paul didn’t remind Timothy of all the people who were saved, healed and filled with the Holy Spirit like we pastors often do. He said, “You have observed my teaching, my conduct…my persecutions, my sufferings” (2 Timothy 3:10,11). He promised that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (12). Then he added, “Evil men and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived” (13). Every New Testament writer said that it was going to get worse before it gets better–Jesus, Matthew, Luke, John, Peter.

Do they struggle with pessimism? No, but we do. So we give people the good news and not the “bad” news, which amounts to false hope. We give hype but not reality. And people are surprised that marriage, family, and the Christian life are harder than anticipated. Discouragement sets in because they think something must be wrong with them. Life is harder than it was supposed to be. Like the grandfather said to his grandkids, “Life wouldn’t be so hard if you didn’t expect it to be so easy.”

Dear Christian: life is supposed to be hard. Paul “encouraged” his struggling understudy with these words, “Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord…but share in suffering for the gospel in the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8). Eternity is the payback. We live for what is not yet. So we are not pulled down by hardship. It actually gives us blazing hope! Like a pastor friend preached, “Life is hard, but God is good!”



So, we are told to pray for and submit to our government. That helps it do what it is called to do, keep the peace and punish offenders, so Christians can do what they are called to do–represent the invisible God on earth. And what if government does not do its job?

Government is ordained by God to be a terror to bad conduct. When it is slack in its execution of lawbreakers, lawlessness increases. “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil” (Ecclesiastes 8:11). When protesters are not punished for damaging people and property, other protesters get courageous and do their violent thing. Before too long you have anarchy, literally no government, mob rule. Think Venezuela! Very sad!

Where was the government earlier this month when violent protesters were not apprehended? Call in the national guard. Do not let people break the law without paying. Otherwise, they will break the law in other ways and other places. “If you do wrong, be afraid, for he [government] does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:4).

Good government enables us to “lead a peaceful and quiet life” (I Timothy 2:2). Bad government invites crime. If people can do wrong without fear, wrong just got popular. I watched riots in LA streets on TV as a young person. People were breaking windows and running off with stereos and televisions. Where were the marines or the army? When breaking the law becomes entertainment, the government is not doing its job.

Nazi Germany killed the innocent and protected the guilty. Dietrich Bonhoeffer attempted an overthrow of the government. Was he right? Absolutely. Lutherans and Catholics were keeping their mouths shut. By their silence they supported an illegitimate government. They should have risen up, spoken up, and formed an anti-government coalition. Thank God for those who defied the government and provided asylum for Jews, doing what the government was assigned to do but violated, like Corrie ten boom and her Dutch family who provided a hiding place. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that coaches can’t pray or make religious gestures on the field after a game. They went too far. Coaches across the nation should defy the law and exercise their constitutional freedom–to keep our freedoms.

The North Korean government supports one person–the insane president. He has an illegitimate autocracy, “the rule of one.”   When government either does wrong according to the law of God or protects those who do wrong, it must be resisted. At that point “we must obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29).  The three men who chose not to bow down to the image of the king said, “Be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:18). Pretty bold. God stood behind their disobedience. The king reversed his decision and gave the un-torched men a promotion.       

Daniel interpreted the vision of the oriental despot, then boldly urged the king: “Break off your sins by practicing righteousness and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed” (Daniel 4:27). Not your normal communication to a dictator. He gave an even stronger word to Balshazzar, reading the script on the wall and telling him that days are numbered and his kingdom was about ended (Daniel 5). We thank God for stable government in America and pray it stays this way.


“Our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil 3:20). God deserves our absolute obedience–now and forever. But we have a double loyalty according to Jesus. We “render to Caesar [government] the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21). Jesus legitimized the authority of government.

Nations are part of the plan of God for people to live together peacefully. Boundaries have been established by God (Acts 17:26). He loves national identities. The new earth will feature cultural diversity in all its radiance (Revelation 21:24).

Globalism is not in the plan of God, but it seemed to me to be in the plan of the former president. It is the plan of Satan. (So is hyper-nationalism. Think Nazi). Globalism will reach fruition under the antichrist, and by God’s allowance he will succeed–for three and a half years. The King will destroy his plans by His return to earth.

Paul addressed the Christian’s relationship to government in two letters. He wrote, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (I Timothy 2:1-3). As people who carry two passports, we show our allegiance to our earthly state first of all through prayer.  Before Paul instructed Timothy on matters of worship, leadership, eldership, widows, and finances, he exhorted him concerning the priority of prayer for government leaders. Must be important. God help us.

We pray for civil leaders so the gospel can go forth unhindered. Paul saw a great advantage with peace–free movement in the Roman Empire. He used his citizenship when he needed protection from religious leaders (Acts 22:28).

In Paul’s longest doctrinal letter, he again addressed the issue of the state. His opening line: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established” (Romans 13:1). How do we function as citizens? By submitting, a word Paul used often when talking about relationships–elders to congregation, husband to wife, parents to children, employer to employee. God exercises His authority in the earth through human authority, and that includes government. Paul saw himself in a place of submission to the government that was serving the purpose of God. Protesters don’t get it.

To be subject includes paying “taxes to whom taxes are due…honor to whom honor is due” (Romans 13:7). Is honor due to anyone who happens to be leading? No. The government of North Korea is not a servant of God. The pagan government of Rome was.

God is concerned for the proper ordering of society, not just the church. The function of the government and the church are radically different. The government is commissioned by God to provide safety for its citizens. They bear the sword and execute God’s wrath on wrongdoers (Romans 13:4). Don’t expect the government to support the church, but neither should they attack the church. They should do what they are called to do (keep the peace and punish the rowdies) so that the church can do what it is called to do. Let’s pray for good government!


You were good-looking when we married August 22, 1975. You still are. Your beauty runs deep. Your life is beautiful to watch. I appreciate the way you love your parents, your siblings, children, grandchildren, me. The legacy is moving forward. You have helped to shape children whose lives also speak of beauty. They still enjoy spending time with you, because you are a giver, not a taker. You add to their life. Your girls especially look to you, learn from you, laugh with you, trade stories.

You have added beauty to my life. You have slowed me down. I see more when going twenty miles an hour rather than sixty–and get fewer tickets. I am much better off for having married you. I thought I was a musician, but you have enriched our lives by singing your prayers, singing prophetic words, singing in the car, singing table grace, singing in the Spirit. I get choked up when I hear the solos of a young Karen. It is so beautiful that I cry. God made you a singer–I am the benefactor!

You have added an international component to our family life. You are more Japanese than American. Americans are “those people.” I still enjoy telling people that I married a Japanese. “Funny, she doesn’t look Japanese.”

You have loved your parents well. Go ahead and claim the promise of a long and good life (Ephesians 6:3). You honor them, enjoy them, show gratitude for their sacrificial life, care for them, call them, and pray often for them. They love being around you, because you serve them well, laugh at your dad’s jokes, and appreciate your mom’s grace and kindness.

You give people the gift of time. When I am done in an hour, you are ready to go for two. You don’t watch the clock. You don’t even know what time it is. You use the calendar more than the clock. That makes me proud of you–and nervous when it’s time to board. We haven’t missed a single flight, but we’ve come close! I’m glad you’re not like me–most of the time.

I am amazed that you didn’t complain when I left for church at 7 AM on Sunday mornings–leaving a houseful of kids. I was an idiot. You were a mother. Thank you for the many times you had to put up with my inconsistencies. I thought I was doing right. Wrong! Being religious and being right are often quite different.

Things improved in our life together when I quit trying to change you and began to better love you and appreciate who you were. I am thankful that I have finally learned how to live above offense. (Well, most of the time).

You both root for me and stand up to me. If you are at a different place, I hear about it. Better than stuffing it and taking it out in a different way. Thank you for being truthful, loyal, absolutely trustworthy–and fun.

We have had a really rich life–to this point. At 73 and 68, this is the oldest we’ve been so far. I have this crazy feeling that it’s going to get even better. Fasten your seat belt. I think we’re in for an exciting ride. Happy 42nd anniversary, dearest Karen! Thankful that you said yes–through the tears.                    

Much love to you,  Paul