Catch 22? Meet God’s Catch 33!

A mission for the mindless

“We’ve all heard of a “Catch 22”. It’s a situation where no matter which option you choose, you’re always wrong, always in trouble, you’re still stuck. It was made famous by a novel with the same name. As the saying goes, “you’re d—-d if you do and you’re d—-d if you don’t”!

But have you ever considered the implications of the following: “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” Romans 14:8

The Apostle Paul, here, introduces us to what I like to call a “Catch 33“! Similarly to catch 22, in a catch 33, the system is also rigged. However, it favors Christians. It favors those who have put their Faith, Hope, and Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, life for the Christian is a win-win proposition. In living, we honor God, and in death we honor God. Now, we are in no means a death cult; Christians want to live abundant lives (John 10:10) but we do not fear death.

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? Share on X

Catch 22: The fear of the hopeless

The number one fear that all unbelievers have, and have in common, is the fear of death, as you can see from the rampant panic on tv. Newscasters continuously introduce all of us to all sorts of new boogiemen: a new disease that is going to decimate the world’s population or the next threat from Iran, North Korea, Russia, China, a food shortage, climate change, hurricanes, earthquakes, asteroids, the “wrong” politician for the job; in a sense, they’re disseminating fear over the one thing no-one has any control: the future.

Catch 33: The hope of the fearless

Christians, on the other hand, have “cheated” the catch 22 system: Jesus defeated sin on the Cross and Death by his resurrection and we are heirs of those victories. Life doesn’t startle us nor does the fear of death paralyze us. There’s a very beautiful secular Italian song where the lyrics speak directly to this phobia; the lyrics, translates literally, read: whoever is not afraid of death only dies once!

Chi non ha paura di morire, muore una volta sola. Share on X

What a beautiful doctrinal Christian Truth! Jesus himself taught us not to fear the first death. The second death is the truly dreadful one: the death that leads to eternal separation from God! If you fear the first death, chances are you are not a Believer. Otherwise, there is something “off” about your walk with God.

Catch 22? Meet God’s Catch 33! Share on X

What’s the catch?

Fear and anxiety will come calling your name. When they do, strengthen yourself in the Lord. In chapter 1 of his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes: “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

As Spirit-filled, Bible-believing,¬† born-again Christians, it is our responsibility to live in the light of this truth: whenever those around us, whether at work, at home, at school, or (more often than not) at church, lose heart over the challenges of everyday life, we¬†must¬†be the people in their lives that they can look to and see someone who hasn’t, who isn’t and who¬†doesn’t lose not only their composure but more importantly their compass, their anchor, their focus, their Hope: Jesus Christ!

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Share on X

Debilitating Doubt

Where Doubt Hides

There’s a scene in the¬†Left Behind movie series where the pastor is standing on the pulpit looking out into an empty congregation; the Rapture occurred and, believe it or not,¬†he was…left behind! He goes through a monologue where He’s talking to God about “how could it be” that he would stand up there week after week and, of the whole congregation, the shepherd was the one who’s faith wasn’t genuine. As he’s reasoning with God, he comes to the understanding that, after all, “knowing and believing are two different things!”

Faith & Doubt

How many times have you found yourself in that very same situation: you read all the books, you can quote all the right verses and can argue with the greatest of Pharisees as well as the biblically uneducated; you’ve brought dozens to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, you’re the head of a ministry, give regularly and with conviction and, when it’s all said and done, it all amounts to nothing more than¬†mere religion. Somehow, everything you know to be true about God feels like “head knowledge” and that’s all! Of all the people around you, you’re¬†the one with doubts and skepticism! How could it be? How did you get here?

[Tweet “you’ve led dozens to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, you’re the head of a ministry, give regularly and with conviction and, when it’s all said and done, it all amounts to nothing more than mere religion.”]

Where Doubt Lives

Well, the simple answer is that we all get there from different directions: Peter and Thomas were there¬†with Jesus during His earthly ministry, and even they¬†doubted; what chances do we have of going through life free from the debilitating effects of doubt! It has been said that “If you’ve never doubted, then you never really believed in the first place”. If that isn’t just merely editorial, we must be in good company. Many of the great fathers of Apologetics began life as atheists, agnostics, deists, or came to Jesus from other belief systems. Men like C.S. Lewis, Ravi Zacharias, Lee Strobel, and Thomas Aquinas, to mention a few.

If you've never doubted, then you never really believed in the first place Share on X

Forgiveness & Doubt

Unfortunately, being in good company doesn’t always make for a good party; surely Hell will be full of A-Listers but I doubt that any of them would choose to stay if given the choice to leave, no matter how many blue bloods are roasting with them. Knowing that Peter denied Jesus three times or that Thomas needed to put his finger in Jesus’ side before proclaiming “my Lord and my God”, does very little to shore up my standing during these moments of crisis.

Two thousand years later I have just as many questions as hairs on my head. If I can just go back in time a week or so before this thought pattern began; before I entertained any of these questions for longer than the 2 milliseconds that they are usually allowed to stick around for, I wouldn’t be in this predicament. Luckily¬† Thankfully,¬† 2,000 years ago, Jesus was thinking of messy, fickle humans like you and I and through us a lifeline. His reply to Thomas tells us what Jesus thinks of our faith; my faith and yours!

If I can just go back in time a week or so before this thought pattern began before I entertained any of these questions for longer than the 2 milliseconds that they are usually allowed to stick around for, I wouldn't be in this… Share on X

Doubt’s Hindsight

How many of us say to ourselves: “if I had been in Peter’s or Thomas’ shoes, I wouldn’t have doubted as they did.” We think of ourselves as having more faith; or at least the sort of faith that would have believed under those¬†circumstances! We’ll never know if that is true or; if permitted, we’ll have that¬†answer as well on the other side of Eternity. Perhaps, it’s for the best that we were born when we were. After all, Jesus’ response to Thomas gives us lots of credit for fighting the good fight in our modern concrete jungles. in the very next verse, Jesus said,

Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed. - John 20:29 Share on X

In God’s eyes, our faith is stronger! We were given a different set of facts, a different set of signs and wonders than what the apostles were given. Granted, some of us may have very well seen the dead rise, or cancers cured or limbs grow back but, for the most part, our faith is based on personal experiences with the Word and its Truth working in our lives. The Apostles and the Pharisees of Jesus’ time were there: the Apostles marveled in awe; the Pharisees pouted because He was healing on the Sabbath so it¬†must have been from Beelzebub.

In the end, no amount of evidence convinced the large majority of Jesus’ countrymen that He was the Christ. Jesus himself said in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.‚ÄĚ Stuart Chase, I believe, said it best when he commented that for those who believe, no proof is necessary, for those who¬†don’t¬†believe, no proof is possible”.

If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead. Share on X

Today’s Doubters

As Christians, as humans, as thinkers, a bit of doubt and skepticism is par for the course. God invites us constantly and consistently to “reason together“; He is not afraid of your difficult questions and He’s certainly won’t be insulted that you have doubts. There’s no reason to keep your doubts to yourself and let them fester. Consider this: you’re keeping your doubts to yourself (not addressing them with God) because you don’t want to offend the same God that you doubt exists, or loves, or cares, or sees? If He’s real: He cares, He sees, He loves and is longing to address your needs; if He’s not real: the answers to your questions (along with the questions themselves) don’t matter.

[Tweet “Consider this: you’re keeping your doubts to yourself (not addressing them with God) because you don’t want to offend the same God that you doubt exists, or loves, or cares, or sees?”]

The future of Doubt: Faith

Dear friend, doubt is debilitating only if you let it. You’re not an atheist, believe me. You’re a thinker; you are who He created you to be.¬†The God we serve is not a figment of our imagination: He doesn’t stop existing when we stop thinking about Him or have doubts; we serve Him still, in the doubt, through the doubt, in spite of the doubt and, just as important, because of our doubts. The biggest victories in my Christian walk always came after such moments; when God stepped into history, again, for me, and showed me just how real He really is. The only figments of imagination are, truly, us! We exist only because of Him. He constantly thinking of us, sustaining us, supplying life, and holding Nature together so that we may exist in it.

The biggest victories in my Christian walk always came after such moments; when God stepped into history, again, for me, and showed me just how real He really is. Share on X

Third Temple Believer

How shall we then live? A question for the ages, as the Jews watched the temple being destroyed. The answer can be found in Jesus alone.

In the beginning

Before there was the Temple, there was the Tent of Meeting. Before the Tabernacle in the wilderness, there was Beth-El. There, God’s servant spoke to Him in Spirit. In turn, He answered in Spirit and in Truth. Solomon’s Temple replaced the Tabernacle. Destroyed because of the people’s disobedience. The people rebuilt the Temple. However, because of disobedience, it was once again destroyed. Now both Believers and Jews alike await the final third Temple.¬†

third temple
Jesus in Disguise

Shadows and dust

Just like anything made by men, the second temple also did not last. After the prophecy of the coming Messiah had been fulfilled, the Lord kept His word and the Temple was destroyed once again.

However, something was different this time. The people scattered to the winds and to the four corners of the earth. Many of them were taken to Rome. They were to become slaves. Others, put to death. Although any hopes of rebuilding the Temple had all but vanished, by some type of miracle, “Jewishness” survived.

To the utter dismay of the Jewish people, millennium-old Temple Judaism came to a sudden and abrupt end. The sect of Judaism that depended on the Temple itself, the Sadducees, disappeared; the Essenes, that preached against the corruption of the Temple, lost their raison de vivre. This left only the Pharisees. These would become what we know now as the rabbinical schools. Also, a new Jewishness also appeared. Christianity.

Honest misunderstanding?

Although no rabbinical scholar would admit, Christianity is Judaism. The reason for not agreeing on this point is purely of a personal nature. Personal in this context refers to Jesus. There is only one difference that separates Temple Judaism from Church Age Christianity. While Jews are still waiting for the Messiah to their own detriment, Christians believe the Messiah has come. 

All else being equal, Christianity is the logical next step of historic Judaism. This is in a very crucial way very unfortunate. I say this because they are scheduled to accept the imitation over the real thing. When the antichrist comes, their eschatology will resemble very closely our own. Obviously with their tragic misunderstandings built in. 

Accepting the imitation

When the antichrist arrives on the scene they will accept as completed all of the Scriptures that Christians already know as fulfilled. This counterfeit Messiah, I believe, will¬†not be Jewish. Neither will he adhere to the ways of his forefathers. Scripture even references him not being…very manly.¬†¬†

Essentially, there are two types of third Temple believers in this world. On the one hand there are those waiting for the Temple to be built again. On the other hand, although they might not actually be aware, Christians believe it will descend from Heaven in the the form of the Heavenly Jerusalem. So the question is, “who’s right”? Both are.

Built to last

Scripture tells us clearly in Daniel 11 that the antichrist will sit in a physical temple and declare himself to be God. This will come with the initial adoration of the Jews. But in the fullness of time, as Zechariah 14 shows us, Jesus will return and rule the Earth from the Mount of Olives. Having destroyed the antichrist He will bring down the new, permanent, Jerusalem. Enthroned in His rightful place, He will wipe “every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 21).¬†

One third Temple only

Here’s the clincher. There are only two possibilities for who is reading this post. The first option is that you’re waiting for the third Temple. Both Christians and unbelievers alike are on this Earth together at this point. The other possibility is that you’re living in a time of it being physically present. If the second possibility is true, then you have missed the Rapture of the Church. It also proves that no one bothered to take down this post, at which point I’m insulted. However, I’m glad you’re here. The people that went missing around you haven’t vanished. They’ll be back soon. Then, you’ll see what the real Temple of God looks like! But this is your opportunity to repent. Say these simple words, from the heart:

Dear Jesus, 

I repent of my sins. I agree with you that I sinned against You and Your perfect Law. I receive you as Lord and Savior of my life. I accept the free gift of Salvation. I know that it is not by anything that I have done that I have deserved this. I welcome you into my heart, my mind and my life. I thank you for Eternal Life that you have provided for me. 

In Jesus’ name. Amen.¬†

Like sheep among wolves

Friend, if you have said that simple prayer, from your heart, you are born again. Whether you are in the Tribulation right now or still awaiting the Rapture of the Church, we want to encourage you. Find a Bible-believing, Spirit-filled church and look for ways to serve God by bringing this Gospel to others in your life.  God bless you

 

A call to Ministry – July 12th, 2020 – Lighthouse Assembly of God

Receiving the call to Ministry

From the moment God saves you, you receive a call to ministry: a ministry of service to Him. “Rocking chair” Christians is not our calling in life. We are swim upstream like salmon. Against the current! We are not here to run out the clock. We are to be a visible sign of the invisible God and of the life-changing Power that He has displayed in our lives!

The goal of the life of every Christian? to be like Jesus! Share on X

Answering the Call to Ministry

Today’s message is drawn from the Epistles to the Colossians, where the Apostle Paul explains what is it, exactly, that we can expect from living, or attempting to live, a life that is pleasing to God. Look at shiny tv preachers. Observing them you would think that a call to ministry is a way to be “served” rather than to serve. They mistake the prosperity of the Gospel with a Gospel of Prosperity. I like the way William Carey, the Father of modern-day missions, put it.

Expect great things from God; attempt...great things for God Share on X

Never the same again

As Spirit-filled, Bible-believing Christians we must, as the Pastor Geer proclaimed, “shine”. Let people see the Light in you. Once they do, they’ll want to talk to us about Jesus. Our prayer is that you are blessed as you take time out of your day to be in God‚Äôs presence and grow spiritually from the sharing of His Word.

Shameless Plug

We want to remind everyone that Life More Abundant is an outreach ministry of the Men’s Ministry of Lighthouse Assembly of God in Glendale, Queens, New York. Prayerfully consider coming alongside Lighthouse Assembly of God with a gift of any amount. We encourage you to do so through our Venmo Page. Every penny you donate goes fully and directly to the Church. Please share this link with someone, anyone, and everyone you know. May God continue to richly bless you and His Church. Also, please prayerfully consider becoming a patron of Life More Abundant.