Looking for Heaven, Running into Hell

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

Microchip ImplantsIf there is one hidden storyline that has dominated our lives the last 20 years or so it would be the absolute love affair the world is having with technology. Everywhere we look today people are falling in love with phones, computers, the Internet and a variety of high tech "toys" that seem to keep people almost under a "spell." And while many of us in the USA seem to be under the "spell" of this exploding technology, there is one nation that is on the "cutting edge" of it all. That nation is Sweden. And so, in a dramatic news item that appeared this week was the report that thousands of Swedes are microchipping themselves voluntarily to make their lives easier and more "techier" for a variety of reasons. The reason why this story is worth considering is because socialistic Sweden, and other parts of Europe, tends to offer a prophetic glimpse into our future here in the USA.

As a pastor, I have had a big connection with Sweden over the years. My grandfather was born and raised in Sweden and I have had the privilege to pastor a church there on two occasions, so I know a little more about the Swedes than many. The Swedes are wonderful people, but their society has been at the far edge of socialism and technology for a long time. The Swedes pay a huge amount of their income in taxes to support the "socialist dream" of a just and fair society. In addition, because of their cooperative socialistic spirit they have experimented with technology on a much deeper level than we have seen here in the USA. Over the past few years that technology has moved them toward a cashless society, which is almost a reality now. So as these many changes have emerged it is not surprising that the Swedes are moving into personal microchip technology on a level few Americans could really dream about...yet. And while it is just starting to catch on in Sweden, there is little doubt that it will begin to grow dramatically in the near future.

The Prophetic Life of Billy Graham

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

Billy GrahmThe private funeral for evangelist Billy Graham was held yesterday at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, NC before 2400 guests. Millions of others, from all over the world, watched the service online or on television. Billy Graham was 99 years old and will be buried next to his wife Ruth at the same library dedicated to his life and ministry. Billy Graham truly lived an extraordinary life. As a result, he was honored at his death by being only the fourth private citizen in United States history to lie in state at the United States Capitol rotunda in Washington, D.C on February 28-March 1. Graham is the first religious leader to be honored. At the ceremony, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan called Graham "America's pastor." President Donald Trump said Graham was "an ambassador for Christ." Many other tributes and accolades came in from all over the world to honor Graham and his ministry.

If you didn't know anything about Billy Graham, you would have to acknowledge that Billy's life had some sort of deeper meaning from Heaven's perspective. After all, Billy Graham spoke to over 200 million people in person during his ministry, the most of any person in human history about any subject. That number is only a fraction of those who heard him by radio or television over the years. Clearly, the fact that Billy Graham had such influence in the world for the Gospel and with Presidents and world leaders shows him to have had an extraordinary calling from the Lord. Billy's calling was most likely not even fully understood by himself.

God's Fullness of Time

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

ClockAs Christmas and New Year's comes around every year, most of us have the sense that time is passing, and we are watching it happen. But few know where it is going or what it is about. The most important thing for us to know regarding the passing of time is that all of it is about two key events in history and life, namely, the first and second Coming (or Advent) of the Lord Jesus Christ. As a result, no matter when a person has lived throughout history, they either have been or are waiting for one of the Lord's comings. Once we begin to understand that fact, the passing of time and life itself will begin to make sense. Joyfully, there is a plan in place that we can understand. Without such a plan and purpose for time, life can end up just becoming a series of meaningless events that come and go. Sadly, that is the way most people see life and even the holidays.

When life doesn't make much sense, and the passing of time becomes weary and dreary, people get depressed and despondent. This Christmas, many are being gripped with a crisis of meaning and purpose that are reflected in some shocking statistics. As an example, a current Wall Street Journal article reports, "Drug and Alcohol Deaths at U.S. Workplaces Soar", was written that reflects our society's growing pain. The article goes on to state that drug and alcohol deaths in the U.S. have jumped more than 30% in 2016 alone as the struggle with a deadly opioid epidemic migrates to the workplace. Without a meaning and purpose to life and the passing of time, people don't know where to turn. This, of course, is not a new problem in America. It is part of the human condition and our broken lives. In the Bible, King Solomon spoke about this emptiness of life in Ecclesiastes 1:2-4 without God's purposes when he wrote,

Happy Eclipse, New Year, Resurrection and Life

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

Solar EclipseAs many of you may know, the USA experienced a total eclipse of the sun on August 21. It was a BIG event. Hundreds of thousands of people drove to places like Carbondale, Illinois to view the eclipse in what is referred to as "totality." Totality is a place where the sun is fully covered by the moon because the alignment of the bodies is perfect. When "totality" happens, seeing the eclipse is an awesome sight to behold that goes far beyond a picture in a book or on this website. For some it is a deep and meaningful spiritual experience that changes people's lives. Observers realize there is something literally "out of this world" going on in the heavens....and they are right. Some people travel around the world to view these total eclipses and a few even get married during them. Total eclipses are a miracle of the Lord. They shouldn't happen, but they do. But the most amazing part of any total eclipse is the fact that it is a picture of the Lord's love for this world.

Now what is absolutely incredible with this last total eclipse in the USA is the fact that it ONLY happened in the USA. No other location on earth saw it in totality. According to Parade Magazine this rare eclipse in America was something that will never be seen again until January 25, 2316. Regarding the uniqueness of the eclipse the magazine wrote,
To find a total solar eclipse that compares with our Great American Eclipse, you have to go all the way back to July 29, 436—1,581 years ago—when the Moon's shadow swept across what would eventually become the U.S. mainland.

The World Needs an Israeli Superhero

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

Wonder WomanIf you want to be a part of the "cutting edge" of the Bible prophecy, just go out and see the new movie "Wonder Woman." The movie is fun to watch and you will be glad you went. It is a typical superhero movie featuring a Wonder Woman, a female version of Superman, who is out to destroy evil and save the world. What is interesting about this summer blockbuster is some of the controversy it has generated around the world. You see, "Wonder Woman" features an Israeli actress, Gal Gadot in the lead role. That fact has led to the movie being boycotted in several Islamic nations such as Tunisia, Jordan and Lebanon. It seems the hatred of Israel knows no limits and has even extended now to an entertaining movie actress. The boycott of "Wonder Woman," for having an Israeli in the cast, is part of a larger narrative related to the "BDS Movement" that is designed to boycott, divest and sanction anything Israeli. Sadly, this movement has even found fertile ground in the USA, liberal "churches" and on the campuses of several colleges and universities.

What few have seemed to notice is that an Israeli in the lead role of a superhero is not a new theme. And while most may miss the irony of this recent movie, the Lord Jesus Christ is also an Israeli and the ONLY Superhero that ever existed. All superheroes are just "Jesus Hero Wannabees" because there isn't a hero anywhere that has done anything for anyone that is not a reflection of our Lord and His great love for this world.

The Prophetic Purpose of President Trump

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

Trump joint CongressOne of the most incredible things to watch today is the changing role of Donald Trump as President. When Donald Trump first announced his desire to be President, it was considered a "bad joke" by many people. More recently the laughter has died down. Not only did Donald Trump become President against impossible odds, but his first address to a joint session of Congress this past Tuesday surprised many. Some people simply could not believe that President Trump's speech sounded "Presidential." In slightly over an hour, President Trump delivered one of the more powerful, substantive and effective speeches to the Nation in recent memory. People from all political persuasions were shocked at how well the speech came across. Simply put, something is underway now that is surprising almost everyone, except the Lord of glory that planned it all for His purposes and our good.

Anytime you see the emergence of a new and transformational leader on the world stage, you can be sure the Lord is at work for His purposes and that BIG things are underway in His Kingdom. The Prophet Daniel said in Daniel 2:21,
Praise be to the name of the Lord for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.
There is no question that President Trump is such a world leader and that his influence and role in history is going to be greater than anyone realizes at the present time. That has already happened in just a few weeks. None of us can even begin to imagine what his influence will be over the next 4-8 years, should he remain in office.

Have You Heard About the Coming New Administration?

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

InaugurationWith so much attention focused on the next President and the coming new administration in January 2017, it might be a good time to look at what is going to happen in the future. A thousand years from tonight there won't be any more partisan politics. The media and self-seeking politicians won't have any power or influence. Christians tend to get lost in politics and fail to see the key lessons that politics teach us about the Lord Jesus Christ and His Coming Kingdom. Perhaps this Biblical perspective can help us weather the coming election results and new administration and give us real hope for the future. If the Christian Church talked more about the coming new Administration, we might have fewer problems with the current ones.

Every four years we Americans choose a new President. When the election is over and the dust settles, each President-elect begins to put together their transition team to help facilitate their new administration. Most Americans don't realize what a BIG transition it involves. That is true because the new President will need to fill and appoint hundreds of people to key positions in their administration. These positions cover everything from their cabinet to scores of other positions related to running the Executive Branch from the White House staff to nominating Supreme Court judges and ambassadorships for the whole world. It is truly amazing the amount of work required, along with the need for great wisdom and judgment to pick the right people for the right job. It is the ultimate personnel assignment ever given to any person on earth.

The BIG Surprise!

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

Shofar AwakeDo you like surprises? Most people might say "Yes," but then again, it might depend on what kind of "surprise" you are talking about. Now when it comes to our Lord, all of us should be asking ourselves if we think the Lord has any "surprises" left for us. The answer to that question is the foundation of the Bible, our Faith and the future of the world.

Most Christians need to be reminded now and then that our Faith started out as a BIG "surprise." The disciples surely never planned on the Lord Jesus resurrecting from the dead. And even though our Lord told them over and over that He would rise from the dead, they just didn't fully understand or believe it ( Matthew 16:21). Even on Resurrection Morning, disciples like the Apostle Peter found the Lord gone from the Tomb and walked away wondering "What happened?" (Luke 24:12).
 
If you walk up to someone in any church these days and ask, "Hey, do you think the Lord has any BIG 'surprise' planned for His people?" you might get blank stares, questions or discomfort. Most Christians don't even know how to answer a question like that. They may even think you are weird for asking it. And yet, IF the Lord of glory does not have anything amazing and exciting ahead for us, we have lost the heart of our Faith. A Faith without surprises ends up being very predictable....at times routine and maybe for a few boring. After all, if church life is too much about potlucks or special speakers things can honestly become a little stale. Of course this is exactly what is happening to the American Church. Christiainity is on the decline in our nation. Some seem to be leaving the true Faith for other things that seem more real or a better use of their time. When you leave out the excitement and wonder of the future that the Lord gives us in Christ you can't really blame them.

Satan in the Sanctuary?

Written by JEFF CARLSON on .

HH-Desecrated1If there is ONE issue that seems to be troubling our nation in this hour, it is the loss of the truth from public discourse. There is not a single day that goes by that we are not deluged with bold lies from political candidates, the media, our universities, foreign governments and a host of other sources. Once these lies get into the thinking of the public it is almost impossible to find the real truth. This clearly applies to this coming national election in November, but it extends to every aspect of life and every decision we will ever make. No one can make a good decision when the information used for that decision is based on lies. As an example, if you think Washington D.C. is north of New York City, you will never find it. If you go north looking for it you will end up at the North Pole and die of hypothermia. One lie wrongly believed and acted upon can have a disasterous effect on our lives.

The most important thing for any Christian to know in this hour is that all lies started with Satan. The Lord Jesus addressed this issue in John 8:44 and shared these words with those in leadership that were trying to kill Him.

You belong to your father the devil and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no Truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
 
In the above passage, Jesus tells us that Satan is source and father of lies. Our Lord is telling us that whenever you find a pattern of consistent lying, devoid of any attempt to find and hold on to the truth, you are dealing with a satanic spirit. This fact is truly one of the great tests for anyone trying to discern and evaluate our world today. And when these lies are especially used for the purpose of deceiving others to gain political or personal power and control over them, it is always a reflection of Satan himself and his desire to deceive, gain power and be like God.

Somebody Has to Pay! Delusions of a Socialistic World

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

feelthebernLately, it's been a little hard watching what is going on. It's been hard to watch our Nation being seduced by socialism in one form or another from politicians of both parties. It has been hard watching our young people being deceived with silly campaign speeches that imply stealing from a few billionaires will "save the world" and makes their lives better. It has been hard watching a majority of our tenured professors in academia relentlessly attacking this Country's foundations and our economic system that created their colleges and universities. It has been hard to watch people thinking they can create Heaven on Earth without God. So living in America these days has increasingly been hard with so many delusions and illusions that seem to define "reality" for increasing numbers of people.

Now if the Bible didn't tell us what is happening and where all of this is going, it might be a time to be discouraged. And yet, the Bible would say that when it looks like things are falling apart, it is actually a prophetic sign that everything is actually falling into place to fulfill the Lord's wonderful plan. You see these delusions and illusions about reality are exactly what the Bible said would happen just before the Antichrist arrives on the scene (II Thessalonians 2:9-12). The world is quickly moving toward establishing his kingdom, not the Kingdom the Lord Jesus Christ came to establish with His Atoning Death on the Cross for sin and Empty Tomb of new life. As the world gets closer and closer to this "socialistic paradise," it should cause all of us to stop and reflect on WHY all of this thinking is so misguided and ultimately delusional. Those discussion seems rare today. Instead, all we seem to be left with is sounds bites from the media and a bunch of "touchy feely" discussions that have little interest in the Lord and His truth about our lives.

Noah's Ark Returns...Really!

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

Noahs Ark Animals-AIGOften time's truth seems stranger than fiction. That is surely what must be said regarding the opening of Noah's Ark in Williamstown, Kentucky starting July 7. The full scale, 510 foot model of the Ark will open this summer after a couple of years of legal battles about religious freedom, employment hiring practices and tax exemption issues. The Noah's Ark Theme Park will eventually employ about 400 workers, to manage everything from the Ark itself, to supporting gifts, exhibits and concessions. When finally opened in July, this park will be a major tourist attraction for Christians and curiosity seekers from all over the world. If you are interested in what is happening in Kentucky, you might like to check it out at www.arkencounter.com and maybe even plan a trip for the summer.

While many Christians might find the coming Ark Park an exciting and interesting place to visit, much of the Nation probably thinks spending millions of dollars on such a thing is a little "crazy" to say the least. After all, the story of Noah and the Ark is a fairy tale for children, right? No educated person is supposed to take such stories literally or seriously anymore....even in the Church. About the only place Noah's Ark seems to show up these days is at the local children's playground or zoo. Most people don't seem to be too bothered with Noah's Ark, as long as it only involves a few animals for the children to see and play with on a family outing.

The Disappearance of America

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

Statue of LibertyOne of the great questions that has been raised by many Christians and Bible students over the years is simply this, "Does America appear anywhere in the Bible?" Surely that has to be an important question if the Lord has a plan for the world and America is at the center of the world right now as THE major Super Power. Several books, sermons and articles have attempted to tackle this subject, but there seems to be little agreement about a possible answer.

And yet, the answer to this important question is coming into clear view. The problem, however, is that few would believe it because the answer is so shocking. You see America, as we have come to know it, is slowly disappearing before our eyes. America is no longer America in the way it used to be for much of our history. The Nation has slowly been losing its Constitution, borders, Judeo-Christian faith, military power, financial strength, amazing economy, moral standards and overall way of life.

Do We Need a Billionaire Bunker?

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

Atomic BombIn the last few years, there has been a growing fear of the future by many. People are worried about nuclear wars, terrorists, extremist governments, natural disasters, worldwide debt, and a hundred other things. As conditions seem to get worse, a few people are in a state of preparation to weather the possible coming storms. Some are buying guns, gold, silver and storing away food and survival supplies. As a matter of fact, there is even a show on the National Geographic Channel now called “Doomsday Preppers” that addresses these very issues.

This week a news story came out that brought all these fears and preparations to a focus. There is a billionaire in the Czech Republic that is currently building an incredible, luxury bunker to weather these possible storms. The bunker is called “The Oppidum.” Residents can enter the shelter by descending through a secret corridor to the bunker, sealing it with a blast door in less than a minute. The bunker is equipped with every possible convenience and is the ultimate way to be ready for anything…. including the end of the world. Unfortunately for most of us, only a billionaire has the money to build something like it, leaving the rest of us a little vulnerable.

What about Russia?

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

saint basils cathedral moscow 5163351One of the hardest things to watch these days are the silly attempts by our political leaders in Washington to totally ignore reality in their mishandling of foreign policy. There seems to be no end to it. While volumes could be written about the current chaos with the Iran “deal,” there seems to be a close runner up. The runner up candidate goes to our dealings with Russia and their leader, Vladimir Putin.

A few years ago on March 6, 2009, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, held a media event in which she presented the Russian diplomatic leader, Sergei Lavrov, a symbolic red button they were both to publicly push at a joint meeting. Pushing the red button was supposed to signify a new beginning of relations between the USA and Russia. It was as if all you had to do was push a button in front of cameras and world history and the Bible would be changed in a moment. It’s hard to believe people believe such things….but they do. Looking back now, most of the world realizes all of this was a silly publicity stunt which has now been shown to be very dangerous to the peace and security of the entire world.

Confusion & Delusion

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

Bury your head in the sand 1Are you excited and hopeful about the future? I am.

However, if a person was to look at the news and listen to what some of our "experts" and "leaders" are saying about the future it would be easy to be pessimistic. Just this week, as a case in point, an eminent Australian scienties, Professor Frank Fenner, who helped to wipe out smallpox, predicted humans will probably be extinct within 100 years because of overpopulation, environmental destruction and climate change. According to Professor Fenner, human beings will come to an end as a species sometime in the foreseeable future.

Professor Fenner is hardly alone in his pessimism.  This global gloom about the problems of the world and its hopeless future has been going on a long time. We see it in doomsday movies from Hollywood about the end of the world that shock and scare a generation of our youth. We hear it in the classrooms of our universities telling students that climate change will dramatically affect their lives.  We hear it from our politicians that something must be legislated now, while we still have time.  Did you notice that all of these alarmists seem to be saying the same thing?  Human beings are ruining this planet and only the governments of the world can save us if we support their leadership. Also, people who deny such “experts” and “leaders” and their solutions aresaid to be the real problem.

One of the most powerful statements that any Christian can make in this hour is the FACT that the world is not going to end... ever!  Jesus did talk about an “end of the age” in Matthew 24:14, but the Bible never speaks about an end of the world.  The “end of the age” our Lord talks about is when humanity’s leadership without God comes to an end.   That is problem now.  Human beings are trying to run the world without God.  If you doubt that, ask Al Gore at his next lecture on global warming about his prayer meetings.  Of course, there aren’t any because he doesn’t believe God is in charge down here.  The Lord of glory is the “junior partner” on this planet.  People seem to have forgotten or don’t want to be reminded that the Lord created the world to be a beautiful thing that will continue forever. The Heavens and Earth will never come to an end according to Revelation 21.

When God Rocks Our World

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

RichterScaleHow does the Lord get your attention? How does the Lord get our attention as a Nation? Well, the Lord got my attention last Saturday in a way I never imagined. I was watering some plants in our house at 12:23 pm when the whole house started to shake. Thinking it was the wind, I looked outside and noticed the trees were still. I then looked at a bottle of water on the table and noticed the water was moving in the bottle. I was experiencing an earthquake... in Michigan. Now I had lived in Los Angeles during seminary and experienced a few there, but earthquakes in Michigan are so rare nobody even thinks about them. They don’t happen here.