Category Archives: Life

Perks of My Job

I work at my City Library, and since we’ve been closed to everything but curbside pickup of requested materials, the squirrels have become friendly. Very friendly…especially this one female we call Black Squirrel.

She’s not actually black (although she looks black from a distance). She’s several gorgeous shades of mahogany. And yes, she is that close. She’s so friendly that she literally will run right up and demand peanuts. Twice, she has sat on my boss’ shoe! She comes right up to the door and presses her hands against the glass until we come out, and then she doesn’t want us to pass by without giving her some attention. And by attention, I mean nuts.

She recognizes which of us likes her, and will feed her. She’s gotten so comfortable with me, that she will take a peanut from my hand, then sit right down beside me to eat it. I took a video, but she was a little skittish, either because of the camera, or because of the fire sirens.

Unfortunately, she has also discovered that the cars that come for curbside pickup also contain people…and these people frequently like her too. She gets lots of treats from them, too, which means she terrifies us regularly by darting under cars and around wheels. We will be very sad if we find a squished Black Squirrel one day. If it weren’t a really, really bad idea to relocate a wild animal, I’d considered live-trapping her and bringing her home to live in my garden with my resident wild squirrel population!

But as I said, bad idea. Speaking of the live trap, though, I did catch something more interesting than a rat the other day.

He might look fierce, but possums are actually quite beneficial in a garden. So I let him go after a took a picture.

When is the Rapture?

Okay. I really didn’t want to get into all of this, but I feel God wants me to, so here it goes.

There is a coming rapture of the church off this earth, and the biggest debate among Christians is when exactly it happens. I believe the bible is clear that any time God has sent down his wrath to destroy wickedness on earth, he has ALWAYS taken his people out of harm’s way first. It happened at Noah’s flood, it happened when Sodom and Gomorrah were pulverized – and the plagues that God sent down on Egypt during the Passover were only for the Egyptians. No Jewish person suffered, as they were protected by the blood of the lamb. And just as a side note, every one of those times, the believers’ animals were also taken or protected. In the case of the Passover, the Jewish animals were also protected from the plagues by the lamb’s blood, and even though at one point Pharaoh relented and said he’d allow the Jews to leave Egypt IF they left their animals behind, God said no. Not a single hoof was to be left behind. I’ve specifically studied the issue of animals throughout the bible, and now I absolutely believe that our animals will taken with us in the Rapture. The bible says they have souls and spirits, using the same words as for humans, and says all spirits return to the God who made them.

But back to the biblical timing of the rapture. I believe we born-again believers (and ALL of the born-again believers!) have no part in the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, the Day of the Lord, or the time of God’s Wrath, as the bible alternately refers to that period of torment after the rapture of the church. That time is reserved for the unbelieving Jews, to bring them to salvation, and also to show the rest of the nations that God does exist, and to give them one final chance to choose him. He doesn’t want anyone to perish.

The place in the bible most (pre-tribulation) rapture believers agree is the rapture of the church is in Revelation 4:1

After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.

But I believe this is wrong. This is the moment John is taken up, to be given knowledge of everything that is going to happen, but this isn’t the church. More in a bit. The other place people hit on is the 24 elders, who are shown already up in heaven when John arrives, sitting on thrones and wearing gold crowns. Revelation 4:4

And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.

Christians are indeed promised thrones, and crowns, but this is not the church as a whole. For one thing, there are only 24 of them, and I think it’s wrong to assume they are representative of the entire church because the entire church is never referred to as ‘elders’. Only specific people are considered elders. I think these are actually 24 specific people. But who are they, then? For one thing, they are up in heaven BEFORE the church is raptured. Look at this. In Revelation 5, God the Father is given a book that is sealed with 7 seals, and which contains the wrath and judgement of God. An angel proclaims:

Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?

And John weeps, because: And no one in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.

That phrase ‘no one’ in the original language is very specific. It means absolutely no one, with no exceptions. Who is the only person worthy to open this book? Jesus Christ. But the bible is very clear that at this moment, not even Jesus Christ himself can open this book! No wonder John was so distraught. But why was Jesus unworthy at this moment? Because this book is the deed to the redemption of the earth, and the moment Jesus became worthy to redeem the earth was the moment after he died and rose again. So here we have John and the 24 elders, up in heaven together before Christ had risen from the dead!

And just a few lines later, one of the elders tells John to stop weeping, because the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

And after that, John beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain….And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.

There it is! The moment in heaven where Christ appears, having just prevailed over sin and death! And unsurprisingly, all those in heaven rejoices with exceeding joy:

And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.

The elders in particular here are singing this song about how they have been redeemed to God by Christ’s blood, out of every people group on earth – and that is certainly speaking of believers. But wait! How can that be? Since they were already up in heaven, sitting on thrones and wearing crowns before Christ rose from the dead? The answer to that is quite simple. They are indeed believers, but they were people who believed by looking forward to the resurrection of Christ, rather than believers who today look backward to the resurrection. Every believer throughout all of history has been saved by only one thing: grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. The bible says that Christ was slain before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8), and the very first prophecy of Christ’s sacrifice was given in Genesis, right after Adam’s fall into sin (Gen 3:15.) All the old testament believers knew and believed that Christ would come, would die to redeem them from death and sin, and would raise himself from the grave.

So who are these elders? Well, we know of two old testament men who had an early rapture. Enoch was a man who lived before Noah’s flood, and he walked closely with God, and one day God took him up to heaven without him ever tasting death (Heb. 11:5). And Elijah, one of God’s prophets, was taken up to heaven in a rapture, a rapture that around a hundred people knew was coming on a specific day, and which at least one other man witnessed (2 Kings 2:11). So here are two people who were taken up to heaven, in a rapture, without dying, just like the church today will be. And they were both taken up to heaven a long time before Christ physically came to earth. They would have been up there, saved by their belief and faith, just waiting for the day all the things they believed would be fulfilled. I believe Enoch and Elijah are two of those 24 elders. And the other 22? I suspect Moses is one of them, and as for the others – who knows who God decided to take? We’ll find out when we join them!

So if the 24 elders are not the church, where in Revelation does it mention OUR rapture? Okay, listen closely now. This is going to challenge some strongly-held beliefs. I know I struggled with this, when God first started pointing it out. I only saw it because I started studying the bible for myself, deliberately setting aside all the things I’d been taught growing up, and all my church traditions in order to see what the bible actually said.

The seals are not part of the 7 year Time of Jacob’s Trouble, or the judgment of God. Daniel says that the book must be sealed until the time of the end, and then it will be unsealed, as knowledge increases (Dan 12:9). When is the ‘time of the end’? It’s been the last two thousand years, from the time Christ rose from the dead, to the time Christ finally returns. The New Testament writers repeatedly refer to that time period as the ‘last days’ or the ‘last hour’. And Jesus himself referred to the ‘beginnings of sorrows’ which are not yet the end of the world.

In Jesus’ olivet discourse (Matt. 24) he goes through a list of things that will start happening in the world, things that we all will go through. These things align exactly with the first five seals:

matthew-24-and-revelation-6But as Jesus says, ‘the end is not yet.’ I believe as soon as Jesus returned to heaven, he opened those first five seals, and as a result, all the things included in them have been gradually increasing on the earth: war, famine, death, pestilence, martyrdom, and earthquakes – just like the labor pains of a woman gradually increase in strength. Some people say the seals can’t be open now, because the fourth seal says that a fourth of the world will die, and that would be millions or billions of people dying all at once, and that hasn’t happened. Is that what the bible says, though?

And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

This does not say a fourth of the world’s population will die. It says “Death” will be given power over a fourth part of the earth, and the people living within that geographical space will be suffering various kinds of death. I checked the statistics of how much of the world is affected by war (or its aftermath) a couple of years back, and surprise! According to secular experts, exactly 1/4 of the earth is living under those conditions.

Next, the fifth seal. It’s commonly believed that these martyrs are those who died during the ‘Great Tribulation’, killed by the antichrist. This logically can’t be for several reasons. First, the fifth seal happens so early on, chronologically speaking, that the antichrist hasn’t even gained his power yet.

Second, the 144,000 Jewish men who will become believers and preach salvation during that time have not yet been chosen or sealed with protection – this happens during the sixth seal. So if the fifth seal martyrs are those killed by the antichrist, that means the 144,000 would logically also have been killed, since they have no supernatural protection until the sixth seal.

Third, the witness of those martyrs themselves…listen to what they ask God:

And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

Once the antichrist rises to power, the bible begins a very specific countdown of days. He will have exactly 1,260 days to reign on earth. There would be no reason for these martyrs to ask God when he will send down his wrath, because the wrath would already have begun, and they would know to the day exactly how long the world has left. These martyred people are those killed for Christ throughout history, who long (as we do) for Christ to settle all wrongs and begin the process of destroying all evil forever.

So the seals are NOT part of the wrath of God, or the seven years of Jacob’s Trouble. These are the things we are experiencing now, and which will continue to grow in intensity and pain until they find their final culmination in that future seven years. What about the sixth seal? Listen to what the bible says:

And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

First, right there, it says that the great day of God’s wrath is come at the sixth seal – not before. Second, read the description of what happens to the sun and the moon, and compare that to Joel 2:30-32

I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved….

The sun will be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood BEFORE the coming of the Dary of the Lord. BEFORE. Not after. The Day of the Lord, aka the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, aka ‘the Great Tribulation’ cannot come before the events of the sixth seal. And notice also that Joel says everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

So when is the rapture? At the sixth seal, probably at the very moment that earthquake hits. There is a fantastic book, called “Earthquake Resurrection” by David Lowe. It’s free on Amazon, if you have Kindle Unlimited. It breaks down all the numerous cases where the dead have been resurrected, and how there is always an accompanying earthquake. It’s quite fascinating.

John goes on to describe what happens at the sixth seal. First he describes how  the 144,000 Jewish men are sealed with protection. And then:

After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.

This is the raptured saints appearing in heaven, being presented to God as a flawless Bride. Some claim these are the tribulation saints, those who were killed by the antichrist, but again, just like with the fifth seal martyrs, these people arrive in heaven too soon. The Day of the Lord has just begun, the antichrist is not yet in power, and the mark of the beast isn’t even in effect yet. John also wonders who they are, and asks one of the elders, who explains:

And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

I don’t have time in this particular study to explain my theories on what exactly the ‘great tribulation’ the elder speaks of is, but right now I’ll just say that ‘coming out of’ is not the same as ‘going through’. If a gunman entered the back door of MacDonald’s, and some of the people inside the restaurant saw him coming and fled out through the front door, you could describe them as ‘coming out of’ MacDonalds and escaping the massacre to come.

Another reason why these can’t be the Tribulation saints is because the Bible tells us when the Tribulation saints are raised from the dead, and that happens at the very end of Revelation, after Jesus returns physically to earth (Rev:20:4).

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(Note: in the above graph, the first seal should be antichrists, plural, not one antichrist. The New Testament writers were clear that many antichrists would be among us, but according to the bible THE antichrist, the final one, will not rise until after the rapture.)

So the rapture will happen when the sixth seal is opened, but when is that? I don’t know, but all the signs God told us to watch for are here, now, and the kingdom of the antichrist is visibly being prepared for him. We can’t have long. Most of us who are studying this believe it will be this year…or if not, possibly next year.

But soon. So very, very soon. NOW is the time to come to Christ.

This is everything.

THIS isn’t what I ordered….

So I mentioned in a previous post that my two little bantam cochins have gone broody, and are sitting together in a nest post waiting to be mamas.

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I really don’t need any more chickens this year, but I feel like all my critters deserve the chance to fulfill their natural desires, whenever possible. Plus, I do love having babies around.

So I decided to order some fertile eggs for them, with the idea I’d probably sell the offspring later on as young pullets. I chose a breed of chicken I knew was perpetually popular in my area: marans. Specifically, these gorgeous French Marans in a mix of colors: blue, black, and splash.

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Marans have very dark brown eggs, like this:

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So…when a box showed up at my door (delivered by a very excited mail delivery woman, who is interested in getting a rooster for her hens–but that’s another story) and the eggs inside the box were not very dark brown, but were beige and speckled….

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….I knew a mistake had been made, somewhere. And they were also quite larger than I expected….

Turns out I’m hatching some turkeys this year!

Red Bourbon Turkeys, to be exact.

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I contacted the seller, both to inform him of the mistake, and let him know there was likely someone else out there expecting turkeys who had gotten my box of marans eggs. He was very apologetic, and offered to send me the marans eggs too, but as I only have two small broody hens, and these are quite large eggs, I said I was happy to just keep the turkeys.

I’ve always wanted to raise some turkeys, y’all. But I expected to get one of the small breeds of turkey, like the Midget White, not a full-on HUGE turkey breed like Bourbon Red. These guys are around 33 pounds when full grown! I may not keep them to full size. I probably won’t. Once they’re old enough to leave their mamas, I’ll sell them, and probably make a bit of a profit. Who knows. Maybe I’ll keep one, and raise my own Thanksgiving dinner!

And the seller – so nice – said to keep him posted, and if my broodies don’t accept these eggs, let him know, and he’ll send those Maran eggs out after all.

Life never fails to be interesting.

best

Lockdown, Ducks, and Salt-cured Egg Yolks

Well, pretty much everything has changed since the last time I posted, hasn’t it? As I write this, I’m under lockdown in my state for two weeks. They hope this will “flatten the curve” and keep this virus from becoming as terrible here in the States as it has been in other parts of the world. I don’t know if that will work or not. Honestly, I have complete security knowing that everything will be fine for me and my family, whatever happens. We are completely safe, forever.

But right now, I’m off work (with pay, thankfully!) and I’m sitting at home being bored and miserable.

You didn’t believe that last statement, did you? If you did, you haven’t been following this blog very long, I’m guessing! Of course I’m not happy with why I’m at home, and it feels a bit weird knowing I can’t just pop into JoAnn Fabrics at a whim – but even in regular times, it’s basically my goal on most days to never leave my property. It truly is a glorious feeling to have all the time for whatever I want to do…and I gotta say I’m loving how quiet everything is. I live near a busy street, and normally the sound of traffic is constant. I woke up this morning to silence.

I’ve been sitting with the chickens, cooking new recipes, playing games, and crafting. So much peace, here on my property – with just a bit of spice, when we plan future trips to pick up groceries (mainly just milk) and animal feed, wondering if the stores will still be sold out, and if we should spray everything down with bleach before we bring it in the house.  It’s honestly…kind of fun. I’ve always loved reading about people who lived through “interesting history”, and wondering what it would be like to be one of them. If this current world-as-we-know-it holds together longer that I believe it will, one day little girls will be reading about the pandemic of 2020, like I read about the Spanish Flu. I think I’d feel quite a bit differently if I hadn’t already read the ending of The Book, and know that whatever happens, nothing can keep me from the glorious future waiting for me. Some of my friends and co-workers are so scared. I wish they understood. One day very soon, they will.

But I actually just wanted to talk about some of the interesting things I’ve doing these past couple of days. Things like letting the Muscovy ducks out to roam in the garden.

Things like trying salt-cured egg yolks.

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You completely cover raw egg yolks in a salt/sugar mixture, and let them sit in the fridge for a week to dry out. Then you remove them from the salt, further dry them for a short time in the oven on a low temp, then they are ready to eat! But WHY? Because you can grate the yolks and use them as a tasty topping for almost anything that calls for grated cheese. I haven’t tasted them yet, they are still drying in salt, but it sounds intriguing. And if there’s one thing I have plenty of right now, it’s eggs. Particularly since I’m locked down and can’t sell my extra eggs at work.

Today I also brought out the craft I bought a few months back, and didn’t have time to do.

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My first attempt turned out pretty good! This book has THE CUTEST little felt doll clothes for this doll, can’t wait to make the little fox hood/cape!

Out in the garden, Spring is springing up all over. I’ve got the lettuce starts I bought out in the garden, getting a head start while the seedlings I’m growing from seed are in the greenhouse. It never ceases to thrill me, being able to plant things like lettuce – and NOT have slugs immediately devour them! Letting the chickens out to dig through the garden in winter and early spring, controls them so amazingly well. They eat all the slug eggs (and a few of the slugs themselves) and I have a nearly slug-free garden. It works so much better than letting ducks wander through your garden, eating the adult slugs!

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The peach and plum trees are blooming.

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The chickens are laying, and hopefully considering going broody. I’d love it if one of these new bantam cochin hens decided to raise a family for me. I really, really want a Lavender Orpington this year.

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Though not you, Khaleesi! Every year this frost Cream Legbar decides she wants babies, and I remind her that she is quite possibly clinically insane, and thus not a suitable mother.

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Do you see the insanity in her eyes? It’s there, I promise you. She is the most neurotic, crazy-butt chicken I’ve ever owned. I’d think about rehoming her if she weren’t so entertaining.

The nine meat birds are growing so large already. They are so heavy and…meaty. I’ve tried several different kinds of meat chickens, and these Freedom Rangers are the best. They are so calm and easy to keep. I keep them in a separate coop, but now that they are large enough to hold their own, I let them out to share a run with the rest of the chickens.

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They are living a happy life, as they should. Even meat animals – perhaps especially meat animals – should be raised in a way that lets them live a natural, happy life. Right now, it’s hard to imagine butchering them, they are so sweet. But as they are almost all roosters, about the time they reach butchering age, they also start acting out and getting bratty. It makes it so much easier!

Before all this virus lockdown stuff happened, I managed to complete most of my must-do spring building list. One thing was raising the quail cages off the ground.

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When they were on the ground, I’d have rats burrowing underneath, trying to get at the quail’s food. This was not a situation I liked. So I raised them up, creating raised beds filled with dirt, so the quail still have a natural place to walk, scratch, and dig. Bonus: I can now enjoy the quails themselves better, since I don’t have to sit on the ground to see them easily.

Two of these raised quail coops are in the chicken run, so I purposely raised them high enough for the chickens to be able to get underneath. Hawk protection, plus shade and rain cover! Ignore the roof on this next one: I’ve got a few roofs I need to finish, but that will have to wait until after this lockdown.

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Another thing I did was install a solar lamp post in the middle of my garden, a tribute to C.S. Lewis’ Narnia. It has a flickering flame light inside, so it’s pretty dramatically realistic at night.

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So that’s what I’ve been up to. Hopefully everyone reading this is nestled at home enjoying their family, and catching up on all the things they always intended to do, but never had the time. For those of you who are “essential employees”, thank you for what you’re doing. A lot of you probably thought you had fairly non-essential jobs – no one ever really appreciates a grocery store clerk or truck drivers on a daily basis, do they? At least they didn’t until now, when you guys are truly demonstrating how essential you are. I hope you’ll stay safe.

And for all of you, whoever you are, if you’re scared right now, if you wonder whether the world will ever be normal again, the truth is, it may not be. And if it does manage to regain some semblance of normality, it won’t last. It can’t. But that doesn’t have to scare you. You can have complete peace, and complete security, no matter what happens next. I do.

“Short Answers to 8 of The Most Important Questions Regarding The Will of God, Salvation, The Gospel, Eternal Security & Repentance.” By Gregg Jackson

1. What is the will of God? To believe on The Eternally Existing Son of God, God The Son, Jesus Christ! “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth The Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:39-40)

2. What are the works of God? To believe on the one whom God the Father sent, His Son, Jesus Christ! “Then said they unto Him, ‘What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.’” (John 6:28-29)

3. What must I do to be saved? Believe on The Lord Jesus Christ, that He died for your sins, was buried, and rose again on the 3rd day according to the scriptures. “And brought them out, and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.’” (Acts 16:31)

4. What is The Gospel & does believing The Gospel save me? It’s The “Good News.” That Jesus died for all your sins (past, present & future), was buried (proving He was dead) & rose again on the 3rd day according to the (old testament) scriptures for your justification in the eyes of God. “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you The Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” (1st Corinthians 15:1-4)

5. Are works required for salvation? No. We are NOT saved by works or kept saved by works. We are saved FOR works. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” (Romans 4:5)

6. Can I lose my salvation? No. Once a person genuinely believes the Gospel they are sealed by The Holy Spirit in Christ the instant they believe forever and can never perish! “In whom ye also trusted (referring to Jesus), after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14) “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)

7. Do I need to endure till the end to be saved? In Matthew 24 :13 Jesus tells the disciples, “he who endures till the end, will be saved.” When read in proper context, it is clear Jesus is speaking about Jews during the tribulation (which occurs after The Church is raptured). Jesus is telling them that those Jewish believers during the Tribulation who “endure” till “the end” of the Tribulation will be saved. The word “saved” in proper context in this passage signifies being saved from danger during the Tribulation, not saved from hell.

8. Do I need to repent for my sins to be saved or to stay saved? No! Neither Jesus, nor any of His apostle’s or disciples ever told anybody they needed to “repent of their sins” or “stop sinning” to be saved. Sin is transgression of the law. Repenting of sin is following the law. Salvation is by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Not by faith in Jesus PLUS obeying the law. The only requirement for eternal salvation is believing The Gospel! AFTER a person is saved, they SHOULD repent from their sins (confessing your sins to God) not to stay saved (because you can never lose your salvation) but as their rightful service to God to stay in right relationship with Him. The ONLY requirement for salvation is trusting (BELIEVING) in the finsihed redemptive work of Jesus Christ on The Cross ALONE for the remission of all your sins and eternal life. “For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son that whoesoever would BELIEVE in Him would not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Perfect Freedom

I’m so excited about the end of the world (as we know it). When I hear about the ramping up of the prophetic signs: earthquakes, pestilences, war, and stock market plunges, I start getting butterflies in my stomach. Don’t misunderstand me. The last thing I want is for people to suffer. But here’s the thing: if you could choose between two of the options listed below, which would you want?

1: The world to continue as it is, gradually growing more and more violent, with more and more natural disasters happening, and more people suffering all the time. Children being abused, babies being murdered, animals being tortured, and famine and war increasing. All of this happening, without end, forever.

2: An event happens, and there is a few short years of horrible suffering on earth, but then…ALL of the evil and death and suffering absolutely cease. No more. Forever. Not a single person or animal suffers or dies ever again, but there is finally a world filled only with peace and love and joy.

Number two, you say? Yes, me too. THAT is what I want. The other day, I searched google images for “bunny with long ears”. One of the first results was a photograph accompanying an article about thugs who burnt off a rabbit’s ears. I am so violently tired of stories like these. This world is becoming worse and worse, and that’s not going to change, until something HUGE happens to change it.

That something is about to happen.  The Bible says that time will like the days of Lot and Noah: Luke 17:27-29. People were eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same in the days of Lot: People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. 

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In other words, people still be living their normal lives, not realizing that everything is about to change, and destruction is about to come onto them. We’re teetering on that time right now. People are still living their lives (though a bit worried about the lack of bleach and toilet paper in Costco). They are hardly noticing the amount of earthquakes striking the globe (although the seismologists certainly are; privately they have said they have no idea what’s happening, but they are extremely concerned). They are hardly noticing the amount of fireballs suddenly falling from heaven, or the rivers turning blood red, or the plagues of locusts and frogs, or the increasing size of the hailstones. They might read a headline about the stock market dropping more than it ever has–but did they realize the only reason it didn’t completely collapse is because the market hit the emergency button and closed before it could?

This world is teetering on the edge of normalcy. Any second, it’s going to tip over. And before that happens–or at the moment it happens–millions of people are going to be taken off this earth to escape the years of wrath to come. Not all the “Christians” by a long shot. So many religious “Christian” people are going to be left behind. Sitting in church every Sunday doesn’t save you. Being baptized in water doesn’t save you. Belonging to a certain church, or having religious parents doesn’t save you. Going up to the altar and having a religious experience doesn’t save you. Being religious in any way doesn’t save you.

True Christianity–the kind that does save–isn’t a religion at all. It’s a relationship, and that’s the other reason all these looming disasters make me feel such anticipation and joy. He’s coming. My best friend, my adoptive father, my king, and my savior, is coming back to take me home. That is what saves: a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We are not all “God’s children”. Only those who are adopted into his family become his children, and that happens solely by believing the word of God. Believing that God came down to earth because he loves you. Because he wants you with him, forever, sharing in his joy. Believing that God died for you, to pay the penalty for your sins, so you wouldn’t have to. Believing that God rose out of the grave to eternal life, so he could give that eternal life to you as well. And once you choose to believe, he gives you his Spirit, sealed inside you, to guide you, and comfort you, to teach you how to live and to give you joy even when the terrible things of this earth happen. Once he gives you this life, it is yours, forever. You have been “born again”, not of flesh, but of Spirit.

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Some people say that you can lose this gift of salvation by sinning. They say, if you do something too bad–if you commit adultery, for instance, God takes back his gift. This is a lie. A gift, once given, is not taken back by the giver. A baby who has been born, cannot be “unborn”. Once saved, always saved. By God’s grace alone, through faith alone. Everything that had to be done to save you, and to keep you saved, happened 2,000 years ago, on the cross of Calvary. Past sin, present sin, future sin, all 100% forgiven, and all debts paid. You do nothing to earn that salvation but believe, and ask for it.

King David was one of the most righteous men of the Old Testament, called ‘a man after the Lord’s own heart’. Yet this man committed repeated adultery, and afterward murder, to cover the adultery up. Yet there was never a hint that he lost his salvation. God convicted him of his sin, yes, and there were earthly consequences, but no loss of eternal salvation.

Christ said that our thoughts are the same as physical sin. A person who has a lustful thought for another person has committed adultery with that person. Someone who is angry with another person has murdered that person. People who say you can lose your salvation are seriously underestimating their own sin. They judge themselves against someone else, and think: Well, I’m not doing that, so I’m a good enough person. But the Bible says that someone who breaks even one tiny law is guilty of breaking every law. Sin is sin, in God’s eyes. There is no lesser sin, no good person, not even a ‘pretty good person’. The only way we can be saved, and stay saved, is through Christ’s death on the cross. His perfection, his blood, his righteousness. And then no matter what sins we have done, or will do, when God looks at us, all he sees is Christ’s pure sinlessness. God sees us as perfect.

 

Does this mean, as some accuse us, that we believe we have a ‘license to sin’ and we can do whatever we want? No. Absolutely not. When we look at Christ and truly understand what horrible sinful creatures we are, and how much love and grace he has for us, the last thing in the world we want to do is keep sinning. We strive to be as much like Christ as we can, knowing that we will fail completely. Knowing that we will continue sinning until the day we die or are taken in the rapture. But also knowing that Christ’s righteousness covers us, and our sins do not count against us, because in God’s eyes, all sins are done by the flesh, by the ‘old man’, and we are now made new spiritually, awaiting the day when we will be made new physically.

 

I asked God about this. I asked why he couldn’t just take away the desire to do sinful things now. I prayed this question to him before I fell asleep, and I prayed that question all night through my dreams. When I woke up, my brain was hit with an almost physical blow of bible verses, one right after the other, all the verses that applied to this question. The predominate one being Mark 2:21-22 No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, and a worse tear will result. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. Instead, new wine is poured into new wineskins.

The answer was clear: I am currently an old wineskin. This flesh could not hold any kind of spiritual perfection. And just to be sure I understood the context, he commanded (in one of only three times he has spoken to me in an audible voice) “Look up!” Which of course I recognized as coming from Luke 21:28: And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

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Once we are his children, we are forever his children. He will not cast us away or reject us. And we in turn strive to be like him, not out of fear of losing our salvation, but out of pure love and gratitude. Knowing we have eternal security doesn’t make us want to run out and start sinning–it has the exact opposite effect. The more we understand how secure we are, the more we understand how complete his grace is, the more we want to be like him.

 

So Many Good Things

So some of you know that I work as a librarian to earn money for all the things I love to do. And while I have largely always loved my job, there have been times when I haven’t, largely due to People-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named. Those people are no longer at the library, and I currently have a fantastic boss whose work goal in life is to make the library a good place for her employees.  One of the awesome things she’s done (besides finally getting me that promotion and raise I’ve been way overdue for!) is figure out what each of us likes to do, and then give us more opportunities to do that thing.

For me, that thing is doing more public programs. Despite being an introvert I truly enjoy public speaking, when it’s on a topic I’m passionate about. In the past, I’ve done a program here and there, but this past year I’ve done five, with more planned for the future. Two were on gardening and raising animals in a sustainable and natural manner.

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At the last program, I brought a couple of quail and a chicken with me. Maisie was a huge hit with the attendees! (Photo taken right before she pooped on the carpet – despite wearing a chicken diaper. Sigh. The library carpet’s seen much worst things….)

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The newest type of programing I’ve been helping with has been events where we’ve served a tasting menu of teas and scones, did a craft, and had a historical presentation put on by me. The first one was for the release of the Downton Abbey film, and I was told I should take my presentation on the road! There are just so many interesting/humorous things to say about historical fashion.

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Recently, we did a Little Women themed Christmas event, where I wore my 1850s beetlewing embroidered gown – still don’t have the pictures from that one. And next, we’re putting on one themed for Outlander. Needless to say, I’m currently working on the 18th century outfit I’ve always wanted to make.

Life is good, and I have so many things I’m looking forward to right now.

But no matter how good it is, the thing I’m looking forward to most right now, is the absolutely certain knowledge that I may not be staying here on earth long enough to do any of those things. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know I’ve been warning you that this world is on the cusp of changing forever, and I have to keep warning you. Time is running out. Biblical prophecy is being fulfilled at breakneck speed; everything the Bible said would happen right before the end is happening, right now.

One of the most significant things happening right now is the political turmoil in Israel. The Bible says that at the time of the end, Israel’s leaders will “perish out of the land” and there will be no government. For the first time in Israel’s history, they have lost their government. They are in the process of trying to hold their third election in a year, and every attempt at electing and setting up a government is failing. This attempt will fail too, I believe. The Jews know something big is coming. The rabbis are being outspoken in predicting the very soon coming of the Messiah.

They’re right. He is coming. The sad thing is, they will miss him again, because they are still waiting for the wrong person. Israel is going to be attacked for their wealth, and the people who don’t follow the biblical mandate to flee immediately when they see the city surrounded, are going to be killed and enslaved. The Holocaust was a shadow fulfillment of the prophecy that is going to be fulfilled in its entirely soon. In the 1940s, two-thirds of all European Jews were murdered. In the coming Holocaust, two-thirds of ALL Jews world-wide will be killed. We already see the open and growing anti-Semitism toward them. They are afraid to live in many European cities, like Paris, where they are attacked for walking down a street. It breaks my heart, what’s going to happen. But until they turn to the true Messiah, and understand who he is, these things have to happen. Every nation on earth will turn against them. You see it most clearly in the United Nations. It’s shameful.

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China is one of the most evil countries on earth, they murder and imprison millions of their own citizens, yet they have no UN resolutions against them. Israel, that unique country of personal freedom and life-changing innovations, who offers free medical aid and information such as how to turn salt water into fresh to their sworn enemies, is constantly having resolutions taken out against them. I love Israel. I can’t wait for the day these horrors are finished with, and God’s eternal peace begins.

Hosea 2:18
On that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the creatures that crawl on the ground. And I will abolish bow and sword and weapons of war in the land, and will make them lie down in safety.

But sadly, until they go through the horror, they will refuse to understand the truth. Just like the rest of the world does. The bible says they will be eating and drinking, buying and selling, marrying, and will have no idea what is coming up until the moment – the second – when everything changes. There’s the going to be a series of natural disasters first. Earthquakes so large they create tsunamis, and also cause volcanoes to erupt across the world. I think it’s the ash from these volcanoes that is going to darken the sun and turn the moon red.

Revelation 6:12-17

12 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. 14 The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

But before that happens – or more likely at the same instant – the people who genuinely believe in Christ, and chose to accept his offer of salvation – will be taken off the earth and saved from everything that is coming. This is such an imminent event that I look up at the sky every morning and wonder if today is the day.

Revelation 7:9-12

9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

The saddest part is that no one has to go through the hell on earth that’s coming. God wants to save you, but he will not override your own free will to chose him. More than half of the bible is prophecy, some of which was already fulfilled down to the smallest detail, but the larger percentage is still to be fulfilled. God says he gave us prophecy, so that when we see it happen, we will believe. It’s happening now. Cell phones, mingling human DNA with animals, globalism, specific alliances between nations, specific wars, signs in the constellations…all of was predicted thousands of years ago.

The only thing I’m surprised by is that we’ve made it through another year. But this year, wow. It’s been huge, prophetically speaking. So many things have happened, so many more pieces have fallen seamlessly into place. I see them happen, and as the bible commands me to do, I raise the alarm to warn everyone I can.

He’s real, and he’s coming. And because he is my savior, and my best friend, I can’t wait to see him face-to-face. Nothing on earth could be better than that.

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NaNoWriMo

If you’ve never heard of it before, NaNoWriMo, is short for National Novel Writing Month, also known at November. Also known as the month writers attempt to make themselves even more crazy than they already were, by attempting to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

I knew this thing existed. I just never wanted to do it.

Like, seriously. Never wanted to. At all.

But it turned out that one of my friends has done it for years, and she started talking about it, and I was all “I’ll encourage YOU, but I’m not doing it”, and she said, “You should at least sign up on the website so you can be my buddy,” and that is where I made the critical mistake of saying “Yes, I’ll do that, at least.” Because I really like this friend. She has critiqued my longest novel AND helped me butcher and pluck two roosters when she’s never done anything like that before in her life. If that isn’t the mark of a good friend I don’t know what is.

So because of her, I went on the website, and somehow I got caught up in it. Next thing I know I’m dropping the novel I was about 15,000 words from finishing, and over the course of one sleepless night deciding that I would instead write the sequel to a completely different novel instead…one that I hadn’t had even the lick of an idea for, or a plot, or characters.  I warned you this NaNo thing makes you crazy.

So here I am, at the end of November, and I have written 50,000 words in 30 days. Actually, in 25 days, because I got completely obsessed with doing this thing. Like I do with almost everything in my life.

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Am I glad I did it, and grateful to Reina for asking me (so innocently!) to be her buddy on NaNoWriMo?

Yes. Yes I am.

Will I ever do it again? I doubt it. I learned a long while back that ‘feeling inspired to write’ is meaningless. If you want to write, train your brain to create inspiration on demand by sitting down and writing. 9 times out of 8.9, after you sit for awhile, inspiration will come. And it will come easier and faster, the more you do it. So I already knew the primary thing NaNoWriMo teaches…but I didn’t know that I could push myself this hard and or write these many words, every day. That was valuable. That is the reason I would recommend every writer attempt this at least once.

But by the end of the month, I was a little turned off by the attitude of so many of the people who were doing NaNo. So many of them were…well, they were honestly cheaters. So many were posting on facebook, talking about how they were including all the words they wrote for their grant-writing job as part of their daily word count. Others were writing pages filled with nonsense children’s rhymes, or purposely writing each sentence in the most long-winded and convoluted way possible. Or upping their word count by never using any contractions, ever.

No. This is wrong, and quite honestly, it makes me a little angry. It’s no wonder NaNo novels are so notoriously terrible that many publishers and agents won’t look at any submissions at all right after NaNo. First drafts aren’t going to be perfect, and they can be quite bad, but I can’t even imagine trying to wrestle a novel into shape when you’re spent the whole month trying to make it as terrible as possible…just to get more words in. All I did differently for my NaNo novel was to write more words every day, and write every day. And I didn’t go back and fix plot points that changed as I wrote, or spend any time whatsoever researching online or fussing over names. If I didn’t know a thing, I just made a note and left it for later. And while I’m no where near writing the end of this particular novel (it will probably be around 75-90 thousand words, all told), this first draft no worse than a first draft I took months to write. And that should be the real lesson of NaNoWriMo: that you can write a book, and you don’t have to wait for inspiration, and you can write even when you’re tired, or not in the mood, or just really want to watch the third season of The Crown on Neflix instead. And you don’t have to cheat. Look, I get that many people’s lives are way more complicated than mine. I’m healthy, I don’t have kids, I’m not married, and I have a day job that doesn’t demand much from me.  But NaNoWriMo doesn’t have to be 50,000 words, or you fail. It can be writing for however long (or short) a time you have, every day. Just to prove to yourself that inspiration, while delightful to experience, is a hoax, and if you want to, YOU CAN WRITE. You can do this.

I taught a short class the other day about writing and brain-training, and afterwards had a lovely conversation with a middle-aged woman who had always wanted to write, but never had, because she was too intimidated. After our conversation, I told her to go home and write. Two days later, she came back to tell me that she had started writing, and it was exactly how I said it would be: her characters were coming alive for her, and she was having so much fun. She was glowing with happiness. I’m so glad I did that class, and I’m so glad she came.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite bits from my NaNo novel, a fragment of conversation that sent a shiver through me when I wrote it:

His words went through my heart like one of his knives, and the blood that came out was poisoned and dark. “I should be the Queen, shouldn’t I? Not my mother. Not Anissa. Me. In spite of my eyes.”
      “Because of your eyes,” he said. He leaned in, speaking directly into my ear, a low whisper of words. “I swear to you, by every cut I have ever made, that you are the Queen of Minos. You will sit on that throne. Whatever I have to do.”
      And I believed him.

Our Thanksgiving Turkey is a Fish

Since we don’t do Thanksgiving with the extended family anymore, I take the opportunity to make the day a fun cooking/baking experiment. This year, I REALLY broke from tradition.

Meet our “turkey”.

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He’s a rockfish, and I’ve never in my life bought a whole fish before, much less cooked one! But I’d been reading about salt crust baking, and really wanted to give it a try. The recipe said I wanted the head and tail and scales left on, but to ask the butcher to removed the fins and gills. I don’t know if I got a new guy, or what, but despite the sign next to the whole fish stating they would prepare the fish however I wanted, he didn’t seem to have a clue how to remove the fins, or even what ‘gills’ were. I had to discuss the fin situation with him, and he while he was trimming them off, he discovered the fish hadn’t even been gutted yet. So he did that. And then, when I got home, I discovered the fish still had its gills…I guess my impression was right…he hadn’t even known what those were! I ended up being kind of glad he hadn’t removed them though, because fish gills are pretty weird and interesting, and I was fascinated by the chance to see them up close and personal.

But to salt crust bake a fish, first you prepare about 3 pounds of coarse kosher salt by mixing it with egg whites and water to the consistency of wet sand. This was fun, btw.

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Then you put a layer on the bottom of the pan, and place the fish on top, with its belly stuffed with sliced lemon and herbs.

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Then you cover over the rest of the fish with salt, packing it down tightly, but leaving the head and tail exposed.

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The reason you leave the head exposed, is because you can tell when it’s done by looking at the eye. See how clear and translucent it is? When the fish is cooked, the eye will be cloudy and white. See below. (To double check, you can insert a meat thermometer, and check for a temperature of 140 degrees.)

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The salt becomes VERY hard, and you have to break it open with some fairly serious blunt force.  And the meat inside is…wonderful. Flaky and super moist, and flavored with lemon and herbs. So good! And easy to de-bone, because after you slide the top layer off the bones, you just grab the tail and lift…and voila! the skeleton comes out in one piece! I’m definitely doing this method of cooking a fish again. So easy, and it was so luscious!

I also tried a new cake recipe, and it turned out to be the best cake I’ve ever eaten. First, because I like making pretty cakes, I decorated it for the holidays:
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And inside….a cranberry cake! Now I normally am not that into cake, because cake is too often light and fluffy. Light and fluffy = bland and boring, in my book. When I like cake, I like a cake that’s dense and moist and punched with flavor. And this was that cake.

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My mother also thought it was her favorite cake. And she didn’t want me to make this one, because she didn’t think cranberries in a cake sounded good. Also, because I’m not a fan of icing (I generally scrape icing off cake before I eat it) I googled “icing for people who hate icing” and came up with a suggestion for cream cheese icing.

And it was lick-the-spoon wonderful!

“I Love You.”

What we find nearly impossible to believe is that the God who created the universe has spoken these wonderful words personally and intimately to each of us. And he has done it in a way that no one else could: by entering into humanity and dying for our sins upon the cross. He has thus so fully proved his love that there is no excuse for our ever doubting it.

It is this unparalleled manifestation of God’s love that makes Christianity what it is….the relationship that each Christian is intended to enjoy with Christ himself – an intimate personal relationship that is not only unmatched by any other faith but is absolutely essential if someone is to be a Christian.

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In contrast, for a Buddhist to have a personal relationship with Buddha is neither possible nor necessary. Nor is the practice of Islam impaired because Muhammad is in the grave. It is no hindrance at all to any of the world’s historic religions that their founders are dead and gone. Not so with Christianity. If Jesus Christ were not alive today, there would be no Christian faith because he is all that it offers. Christianity is not a mass religion but a personal relationship.

At the heart of this relationship is a fact so astonishing that most Christians, including those who have known the Lord for many years, seldom live in its full enjoyment. it isn’t that we don’t believe it intellectually but that we find it too wonderful to accept its implications into our moment-by-moment experience of daily life.

We are like a homely, small-town girl from a very poor family who is being wooed by the most handsome, wealthiest, most powerful, most intelligent, and in every way the most desirable man who ever lived. She enjoys the things he gives her, but is not able to fully give herself to him and really get to know him because she finds it too much to believe that he, with all the far more attractive women in the world, really loves her. And to leave the familiar surroundings of her childhood – the friends and family that have been all she has known and loves – to go with this one who seems to love her so much, and to become a part of another world seems so foreign and even inconceivable to her is all too overwhelming.

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Like the small-town girl, each of us finds it very difficult to believe that Jesus really loves us. Although we appreciate his blessings, we find it difficult to become intimate with our heavenly Suitor, because it seems too inappropriate that the Lord of the universe should be wooing us. That he loves everyone and that we are included in that great love is too marvelous.

Knowing that he loves us not because of anything in us but because he is love tells us something else that is very important: God loves all mankind with the same love. There is no special reason why he should love one of us more than another. He is no respecter of persons; there is no favoritism with God. And here we see another reason for rejecting the view that God does not love all mankind enough to want everyone to be in heaven. There is no basis in man (all have sinned and the hearts of all are the same) for God to love some and not others – but neither is there any basis in God for his loving one but not another. Thus we are told that he “so loved the world” that he sent his Son into into world “that the world through him might be saved.” There is no greater love anywhere!

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(Except above from “The Love of God”, written by Dave Hunt)

ABC’s of Salvation….

Admit you are a sinner in need of a savior.

Believe in the finished redemtive work of Jesus Christ on the cross alone for the remission of all your sins (past, present and future) and eternal life!

Call on the name of the Lord. (“All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13)

“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me.” (John 14:6)

“When you declare with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead you will be saved. For with the heart man believes and is justified and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” ( Romans 10:9-10)

“For it is by grace you are saved through faith. It is not your own doing. It is the FREE gift of God. Not by works lest any man boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)