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Dustin, Rhoda, and Peter’s Prayer Meeting Buddies

I just called Misty to be sure what I  heard was accurate…and it is. Dustin is to be released from the hospital this week–probably by Friday! It seems unbelievable to me, given the severe and extensive injuries he sustained a mere eight days ago. Just last Sunday when we visited him, he didn’t even open his eyes, although I know he had done so at other times. Now, he is fully aware, and scheduled to be released by the weekend.

Why should I be shocked? Have we not been praying? Have not people told us they were fasting for these families? Have not thousands of people joined in extreme and faithful prayer? Yes! Why then am I shocked? Why are you shocked?

I remind myself of that long-ago day recorded in the 12th chapter of Acts after Herod had killed James and had thrown Peter into jail. A bunch of Christians gathered over at Mary’s house for a prayer meeting; after all Peter was their leader, and here he was, a prisoner. Time for a prayer meeting. Time to pray Peter out of jail.

Meanwhile, there were rumblings over at the city jail. An angel flitted into Peter’s cell, poked him in the side, and said, Get up. Uh, get up? Yes, get up, Peter. Put on your shoes and socks, throw something about you, and follow me.

Peter did as he was told, not understanding, thinking perhaps he was dreaming, but the chains had fallen off his hands as he first arose; would that be in a dream? Quietly they crept–the angel and the man–past the first ward, past the second ward, then to the iron city gate which opened of its own accord, and finally through one city street.

The angel left Peter then. Poof. Disappeared. Peter was now standing in the dark of night–an escaped prisoner, startled and bewildered at what had just happened. Finally his senses kicked in, and he said, “…The Lord hath delivered me…” Think I’ll go over to Mary’s house.

Peter’s banging on the door interrupted the prayer meeting, and somebody sent Rhoda to see what was going on. She must have asked, “Who’s there?” for verse 14 says, “And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.”

You’re mad, Rhoda. Can’t be Peter. He’s in jail, remember.

“It’s Peter, I tell you,” Rhoda insisted.

Rhoda, there’s something wrong with you.”

No, there’s not. Peter is standing at the gate, I tell you.”

Finally  they all went to the door–all the unbelieving prayer meeting buddies–and sure enough, there stood Peter. They must have yelled out in astonishment when they saw him, for Peter “beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison…”

I feel like one of Peter’s unbelieving prayer meeting buddies today. But the news is real, it’s true. In an astonishing way, Dustin has been touched by God, and is scheduled to be released from the hospital by Friday.

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Arizona Christianity/Religion Church Friends God Honor Lake Havasu Music My Family Pentecostal Photography

And So Went the 2nd Anniversary Services

It is Sunday evening, the dedication festivities are over, all the company is gone, and Jerry and I are alone here in the motor home. If all was not perfect, it was so close as to never be remembered otherwise.

…except that for the opening service on Friday evening we had carpet in only half the building…then at 5:00 on Saturday morning, Ken, the carpet layer, let himself in the building, and by 5 minutes before 10:00, had the job finished. It is beautiful.

More beautiful was the quality of every service, the visitation of God, our wonderful visitors–family, friends and new people from Lake Havasu. Guest singers blessed us, Brother Keyes’ preaching was outstanding as usual, Brother Branks’ testimony was striking, Rebecca baked and brought over from her home in California 300 cookies, and she and Rosalinda served them after church. It was a marvelous time.

The best part? Five people received the Holy Ghost!

Our son Andrew opened the service with a time of worship.

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Denae Abbott joined her parents in uplifting music. At 15, Denae just dsc_00162released her first CD. She wrote 6 of the songs on the project.

Charley Branks spent most of his adult life in prison, and finally had been sentenced to over 200 years in the penitentiary. During his time of incarceration, he began seeking God; God revealed His word to Brother Branks and filled him with the Holy Ghost. He was dsc_00331baptized in Jesus name, then miraculously received a full parole. He is now a successful businessman, who has been serving God for more than 30 years–a unique, dynamic testimony.

Randy Keyes ministered dsc_00391in a powerful, anointed way.

Dale received dsc_0057the Holy Ghost!

Andrea received dsc_0051the Holy Ghost!

Dustin received the dsc_00301Holy Ghost!

George received dsc_0017the Holy Ghost!

Numerous ministers honored us by attending all or part of our three-day dedication/anniversary services. Among those were Gary Hogan, superintendent of the Arizona district, Robert Allen, secretary of the Arizona District, and Rick Faulkner, regional director of Spirit of Freedom. With his wife and three small sons, our grandson Joel drove all the way from Carson City, Nevada, a 10-hour drive, to be with us on Friday night. Early Saturday morning, they drove back for their own services on Sunday.

To everyone who contributed in any way, we say thank you. It was a tremendous time of worship, ministry and of fellowship.

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To Experience the Presence of God

To some who read this, it will be foreign, a language unknown, whose intonation and cadence fall on heavy ears, and who, despite rigorous effort, are unable to distinguish its kernel and essence. The subject is of such consequence and point, and of such depth, as to closely approach the state of being unutterable. Certainly, it’s core and spirit defy human understanding. I write today of being in the Presence of God.

But are not we always in the presence of God? will logically respond the thoughtful and honest person. Is He not everywhere? Does not He fill the universe? And I, thoughtful and honest person that I am, will respond; Yes, God is everywhere, and thus in the strictest sense we are always in His presence. David confirms this when he said…”Though I make my bed in hell, lo, You are there….”

Yet I persist in my weak way to tell of a particular time of being in the presence of God; the telling is important to me, for that is my way. Such experience seems too profound to keep, while at the same bit, I am aware that the rarity and nature of such experience lends impossibility to a conclusive description, except that those who have spiritual understanding, or the one in whom such inner and holy leanings are surging, will know. Even their knowing will not wholly arise from my telling, but will come as a fix between my account and their own similar experience, or will derive from rare spiritual inclination and deep desire.

During the Southern California Women’s Conference, Thursday evening to the early afternoon of Saturday, I truly sat in “heavenly places,” although the literal location was the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, and, actually,  I didn’t see fluttering angels about, nor had I glimpse of other celestial beings. Yet, there it was; a sublime, startling encounter with God and with the heavenlies; undeniably was it so. Such a gather, such a summons make clear the need for us to have transformed and fully changed bodies when we go to heaven, for in this physical state, when such Presence comes, a feeling of weakness and breathlessness often occurs, and with Paul we say, “It is joy unspeakable…”

Extraordinary is such Divine Visitation even among those who have been blessed with a knowledge of God and His Word, and who have opened themselves to receive the Holy Ghost. I never cease to be amazed when God so touches me: Think about it! The God who created the earth and all therein, the One who flung stars and a moon into the heavens; He who scooped out and watered-up a hundred seas and who carved valleys and pushed up mountains and fashioned camels and parrots and language and thinking…That One visited me…showed me His glory. Amazing.

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Excepting a few, I took no pictures. I snapped this shot as I was going from the ballroom on Saturday, for I had to leave early since we had such a distance to drive to our home in Lake Havasu. Take a good look at those festivities, where hundreds of women were “having a blast” at our celebration brunch. This leads to my final thought concerning the Presence of God: Such an experience not only enriches in the spiritual sense, but enables one to more fully enjoy life in all its aspects.

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Arizona Christianity/Religion Christmas Church God Holidays Lake Havasu Life Photography

Of Manger and Drywall, and of Cement

To our eyes it was a temple, and when any little improvement was accomplished we stood about admiringly. We voiced plans for the remaining cement block walls to be covered with drywall and paint, and of a finer rear entry with classy double doors, so that when our growth had caused us to utilize the other parking lot, a tiny foyer will be part of that entrance.

We dreamed, smiled often, made phone calls to brag on our new place, as at the same time we thanked God and gave Him credit for the progress. Tell the truth, we’ve lived the past few weeks in a jeweled, rosy haze.

Then one late afternoon, I stood alone in the budding sanctuary, and for a minute–just a minute, mind you–saw our new church project as it actually is–humble, and quite unremarkable, paltry and negligible. How could we have thought it worthy of a King?

For stripped of dream and imagination, the sight was dismal, the gleaming illusion barely visible. The construction grade plywood platform, the two small steps, whose height had been carefully calculated, the lean line of keyboard stand, and the spare pulpit, dsc_0136cast its own vision–one definitely lacking in grandeur. The sight spoke instead of reality; of struggle, and of less than infinite resources.

I was struck by the vision–a vision so at odds with those of recent hours and days–that I went for my camera so that I could fairly capture the moment.

During the intervening days, I have thought often of that fading afternoon, and have stared at the picture. Although I knew the lesson at first sight, during the passing time since the event, I have examined thoroughly its elements, and have come to understand.

It is the Christmas Story again. It is a manger filled with hay. It is a stable.

Incredibly, she is led to the outbuilding, a young girl racked with pains that cannot be ignored: “Yes!” a stable will do. So, soft-eyed cattle stand and continue their chew, and sheep nuzzle and gaze unknowingly at the most momentous birth in history–that of Jesus Christ, our Saviour.

“Where will we place Him, Joseph?” the young mother asked.

“Here, Mary. Here in the cattle manger. I’ve fashioned Him a snug place.”

They wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in the manger.

The stable was now a temple; directly overhead a pointing star suspended itself in the black night spangling the barn roof with light. In the nearby hills, angels shouted from the sky. Shepherds cowered, and listened, and sped to where lay the Christ-Child.

We don’t know how long the young family remained in the stable, but when they bundled up baby Jesus and left, I’m quite sure the hay was still hay, the

manger was still recognizable as a feeding trough, and the floor was still dirt. Hinges creaked, and wind and sun beat down on the structure…as before.

For of little consequence is the building. It was not the stable that struck still the overhead star, nor was it the manger that drew the shepherds; neither did the humble town of Bethlehem cause angels to swarm its night skies. No, it was That Baby. Baby Jesus. The Messiah. God, made flesh.

So, seen in context, our new building and our pitiful improvements reek as inconsequential: perhaps they may be seen as stable and as manger. But though it is little, is that not enough? For we have fashioned Him a house, and though His favored abode is the heart of man, it is here–in our humble place in Lake Havasu–that we hope to attract those who don’t know about that yet. We who do know will congregate, think on Him, dream our dreams, and fashion our visions. During these last days before Christmas we will again marvel at that night, when, incomprehensibly, God became a man.

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Faces Around Camp Part 2

In another post, I mentioned the WAY choir, which is composed of young, unmarried people from around the state of California and Nevada, a small group of singers. Their ministry on Thursday night was astounding, and I wanted to share it with you, but knowing there had not been made a professional video, I went to YouTube hoping to find something of theirs I could bring over. I was surprised to find that someone had posted a video of the very song I wanted. It is not professionally filmed, but I want you to see and hear this.

Although there are other groups who do so, of course, Pentecostals may lead the way in demonstrative, exuberant worship. Such worship is biblical; it is healing and refreshing and soul-satisfying. In heaven, there are created beings whose only job is to worship God. On earth, during Jesus’ ministry here, there were those who objected to loud, exuberant worship of God. “If they don’t praise me, the rocks will cry out,” Jesus warned. In our small way, we too worship.

What you will see here is only the ending of a spectacular musical presentation. I don’t even know the name of the song that comprised the first part, but it started with rather modern sounding, little bits of music and morphed magnificently into this.

The entire congregation was profoundly moved by this beautiful hymn of the church. Our ministerial leaders intensely worshipped.

As did the keyboardist and director, Ken Fitzpatrick,  whose spirit was “overcome” by the presence of God. By these few dedicated young people, we were truly ushered into heaven’s throne room.

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Bible Christianity/Religion Church God Life

Why I’m Glad I Believe in God

Given its title, I suspect the thrust of this post could be misconstrued, and readers might conclude this to be an apologetic for belief in a Supreme Being. That would be a timely and worthy subject, but is not the one for this piece today. Lengthy shelves that stretch into expansive rooms have long been filled with volumes so written, coupled with writings of repudiation in equal number.

My piece today—my 1000th post here—may be rightly considered a corollary to that subject, but is conclusive and not open to valid rejection for it is an essay that goes to the feelings of my heart and of my soul. Though I am not a student of psychology, it seems logical to conclude that there could be no debate of the accuracy of this piece, for my discussion is not centered on the logic of my feelings, but merely is a reporting of them. Of course, one may conclude my feelings to be misplaced, and argue that my mind (or my heart) has led me to illogical conclusions, but none should be able to make the case that my feelings are not mine.

With joyous beat, I have passed the scalding intersection of the great question– Is there a God?  I’m not here to proof text but to tell you why I’m glad I believe in God and in His word. Multiplied reasons occupy my brain, my heart, and my soul: I’ve selected a few for this discussion.

·        It is logical to believe in God.

I prefer to hold opinions that stand up to reason. While I respect the intellect of many atheists, none can explain beginning, so no matter which brand of the evolutionary theory we’re hearing, the hard bump of beginning is always there. I don’t understand beginning either, and my finite mind cannot wrap around eternity which has no beginning and no ending. I can’t grasp that. That’s why logic screams: It’s God, the supernatural Creator, the One who extends beyond explanation or understanding, and who takes my hand when I’m walking these labyrinths, and who says, “Believe, believe in Me, for I am supernatural; I have no beginning and no ending.” My belief is logical.

·        Believing gives me hope of Heaven.

It matters not whether I am right, for I am discussing the benefits and joy of the belief. God’s word promises me a better life than this; one where there is no pain, no sorrow, confusion, sickness, or casting about in despair. No death. This belief in a future Heaven gives me comfort in this, my present.

·        Belief in God connects me with people who live exceptional moral lives.

My life is centered on God and His people. Because of the nature of my life’s work, my years have set me in close relationships with people of superior moral values.

I’m not at all an elitist, though, and through Jerry’s ministry and my own contributions to the church, we have cheerfully worked with many classes of people—from those who are homeless, to the very wealthy—from those who admit to being deep in sin, to others who, like me, are striving to be righteous. But my overarching, deep relationships are those with persons of high moral values.

·        The Bible is the best-selling book in the world.

It’s gratifying that millions of other people agree with me about the value in God’s immutable word.

·        It is intriguing to see Biblical prophesies fulfilled in the daily newspaper.

 

·        Believing the Bible causes me to adhere to the plan of salvation for this dispensation.

I’m glad I know to repent, to be baptized in Jesus’ name and to be filled with the Holy Ghost. If I did not believe in God and His holy word, I would not possess this amazing gift.

·        I can howl into the night with pain and believe I am being heard.

It would be ghastly to think my screams go unnoted, and that they merely  ricochet through eons of hopeless emptiness.

·        Although God is righteous, I’m glad I understand Him to be patient.

To Judas, “Here, dip with me.”

·        Believing in God reveals that I am more than a body.

My housing is dissolving, growing old, breaking apart. I’m glad I understand that I am an ever-living, never dying soul.

·        It brings me untold joy to believe the stories in the Bible are true.

I’m glad Daniel really slept with lions, Noah actually built that monstrous boat, and that all those animals marched in. I’m glad I believe Jesus made a mud-ball and stuck it in the socket of a blind man, who could then see!…and that He raised up dead people, and took a picnic lunch from that little boy and then fed thousands of people.

It makes me happy to believe Peter got out of his boat and walked on water and Jonah got swallowed up by a fish, and then, incredibly, grew angry at the people to whom he took the message of repentance.

I’m glad I believe those stories to be true and that I’ve whispered them in the ears of my babies, and have told my sons, “Be brave as those Hebrews who were pitched into flames,” and to my daughter, “Be as Esther, Rebecca. Say with her as you do the will of God, ‘If I perish, I perish.’”

I’m finding this much too long for one post. Will write part 2 for tomorrow

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My devotional blog is here.

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I Love America

I’m ahead of Independence Day a few hours, but because I am so in love with my country, and because I appreciate living here so much, and because I so enjoy this video, I am posting now. Tears streaked my face as I listened to this magnificent music and gazed at the images of our countryside, the flag, the cities, the courage, the honesty of our sterling people.

Live well! Eat hot dogs! Love America! Love your family! Shoot Roman candles and light sparklers and bang firecrackers! Sing, shout, rejoice! It’s Independence Day…here…here in America, the greatest country on God’s earth!

Listen to speeches! Honor the military! Wave flags! Eat from red plates with blue spoons and white forks! Slurp red watermelon and white ice cream and blueberry pie! Barbecue in the back yard, drink lemonade and diet Coke and strong coffee in the evening! Watch a marching band at the village parade and cheer for the babies on tricycles and the old men in vintage cars! Clap when the firemen come by on the red truck and when the policeman struts along and when the mayor waves!

When THE FLAG passes by, stand up, remove hats, slap hands over hearts, and if you have the chance, sing loudly God Bless America or the Star Spangled Banner, or

My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From every mountainside,
Let freedom ring!

My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free,
Thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills;
My heart with rapture thrills,
Like that above.

Let music swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees,
Sweet freedom’s song;
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
The sound prolong.

Our fathers’ God, to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing;
Long may our land be bright
With freedom’s holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King.

It’s Independence Day in the United States of America! Glad to be here! Glad you’ve joined me. Hope your holiday is tops–blessed and safe!

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Check in Here for Perfection

From time to time we humans spend hours that in the earthly scheme of things can only be rated perfect. Such were our days–Jerry’s and mine–this past Friday and Saturday on the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

The signal for the trip was rare, and its lofty nature of such significance that within our minds spun an expectation of pleasure and harmony beginning with the earliest moment of  planning. On Friday Jerry and I stepped over another milestone in our lives as we embarked on our 53rd year of marriage.

The Grand Canyon is surely one of the most spectacular places on earth. In 1893 it was established as a forest reserve by President Benjamin Harrison, and in 1919, by President Theodore Roosevelt, was designated a national monument. The park is 277 river-miles long, an average of ten miles wide, and to reach the canyon floor requires a plunge one mile deep. Snaking a thin line at the base of the cliffs is the thundering Colorado River, without which there would be no Grand Canyon. It’s cool waters lunge and roar exploding in spume and foam…and then, again, lie placid and in a soft meander.

We always have this conversation, Jerry and I: What do you suspose was the reaction of the first person or group who viewed such a stunning place?  How in the world did they feel as they stood before this gaping chasm?  We never have an answer, of course, and as overwhelming as it is to view after hearing of it and even at prior times seeing it, we shake our heads as we think of the staggering awe that must have settled on those early explorers as they stood before that bucolic shrine. 

We had visited both the south and north rim of the Grand Canyon many years ago when our children were young, and we viewed it as not only beautiful and awe inspiring, but as educational both for them and for us. As was true then, so now remains my frustration when I reach to describe that world-wondering scene. I grapple with words–is it that I need new langugage?–to write the land lay, the pitch of bird caw and the beating of wings. The rustle in the wind-brushed pinions meld with squirrel scramper and the faint sizzle of green lizard on white boulder.

Ultimately, such grandeur could only be carved by Almighty. Doubtless, He used geological forces and wind-swept eons, but the sight and sound of such magnificence demands a Creator, One whose thought and ways are impossible to comprehend. Words to tell are shy and impaired.

Laid atop such undergirding were two days of sublime rest and celebration. We checked in and found perfection.

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My devotional blog is here.

 

 
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America Education God Life Religion Uncategorized

Lunatic, Liar or Lord?

In his famous book Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis makes this statement, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg – or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense.” about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.”

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life on Monday released the results of their latest poll which indicated that Christians, even those labeled evangelical, are not convinced their beliefs are the only way to Heaven. About 7 out of 10 of those surveyed said they believe that many religions can lead to eternal life and that there is more than one true interpretation of the teachings of their own religion

I was not totally surprised to hear these results, for though my own experiences are anecdotal, of course, over the past few years I have become more and more startled to see that people who call themselves Christians give little heed to what the Bible exactly says. Furthermore it’s astonishing to hear “Christians” speak glowingly of Heaven for their deceased friends and relatives who rarely attended church, and who made no claim at all to Christianity.

Was Jesus mistaken then when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life?”

Of course He was not mistaken. Neither was He in error when He added, “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Our problem is that either we don’t read the Bible, we selectively read it, or we don’t believe it. For clearly the Bible teaches there to be only one way to Heaven and that way is through Jesus Christ. Not all roads lead to Rome, and certainly not all roads lead to Heaven.

This startling result from the Pew researchers is a reflection of the pressure within our society to be tolerant, accommodating and inclusive. Truth must be designed, we are told, so that none are made uncomfortable as they handle their own version of law and principle. There are no absolutes, truth must adjust to the mores of the day and to the whims and conventions of the community.

But such thoughts are contrary to scripture. If there are other ways to Heaven, then Jesus was crucified for nothing. Calvary should merely be the name of a piece of land and Golgotha only a strange word. Beatings and a bloody crown should be called a bit of fiction and the telling of an unbalanced man.

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A Time to Howl

“Howl, ye shepherds, and cry; and wallow yourselves in the ashes, ye principal of the flock: for the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions are accomplished; and ye shall fall like a pleasant vessel.”

“The Lord has just ground of controversy with every nation and every person; and he will execute judgment on all the wicked. Who can avoid trembling when God speaks in displeasure? The days are fully come; the time fixed in the Divine counsels, which will make the nations wholly desolate. The tender and delicate shall share the common calamity. Even those who used to live in peace, and did nothing to provoke, shall not escape. Blessed be God, there is a peaceable habitation above, for all the sons of peace. The Lord will preserve his church and all believers in all changes; for nothing can separate them from his love.” From a Matthew Henry commentary on Jeremiah 25:30-38

Rarely, if ever, have I printed an article in its entirety, but the following resonates with me to such degree that I’m printing every word of this lengthy AP article. With a dateline of Saturday, June 21, this riveting abstract is written by Alan Fram and Eileen Putman

WASHINGTON – Is everything spinning out of control?

Midwestern levees are bursting. Polar bears are adrift. Gas prices are skyrocketing. Home values are abysmal. Air fares, college tuition and health care border on unaffordable. Wars without end rage in Iraq, Afghanistan and against terrorism.

Horatio Alger, twist in your grave.

The can-do, bootstrap approach embedded in the American psyche is under assault. Eroding it is a dour powerlessness that is chipping away at the country’s sturdy conviction that destiny can be commanded with sheer courage and perseverance.

The sense of helplessness is even reflected in this year’s presidential election. Each contender offers a sense of order — and hope. Republican John McCain promises an experienced hand in a frightening time. Democrat Barack Obama promises bright and shiny change, and his large crowds believe his exhortation, “Yes, we can.”

Even so, a battered public seems discouraged by the onslaught of dispiriting things. An Associated Press-Ipsos poll says a barrel-scraping 17 percent of people surveyed believe the country is moving in the right direction. That is the lowest reading since the survey began in 2003.

An ABC News-Washington Post survey put that figure at 14 percent, tying the low in more than three decades of taking soundings on the national mood.

“It is pretty scary,” said Charles Truxal, 64, a retired corporate manager in Rochester, Minn. “People are thinking things are going to get better, and they haven’t been. And then you go hide in your basement because tornadoes are coming through. If you think about things, you have very little power to make it change.”

Recent natural disasters around the world dwarf anything afflicting the U.S. Consider that more than 69,000 people died in the China earthquake, and that 78,000 were killed and 56,000 missing from the Myanmar cyclone.

Americans need do no more than check the weather, look in their wallets or turn on the news for their daily reality check on a world gone haywire.

Floods engulf Midwestern river towns. Is it global warming, the gradual degradation of a planet’s weather that man seems powerless to stop or just a freakish late-spring deluge?

It hardly matters to those in the path. Just ask the people of New Orleans who survived Hurricane Katrina. They are living in a city where, 1,000 days after the storm, entire neighborhoods remain abandoned, a national embarrassment that evokes disbelief from visitors.

Food is becoming scarcer and more expensive on a worldwide scale, due to increased consumption in growing countries such as China and India and rising fuel costs. That can-do solution to energy needs — turning corn into fuel — is sapping fields of plenty once devoted to crops that people need to eat. Shortages have sparked riots. In the U.S., rice prices tripled and some stores rationed the staple.

Residents of the nation’s capital and its suburbs repeatedly lose power for extended periods as mere thunderstorms rumble through. In California, leaders warn people to use less water in the unrelenting drought.

Want to get away from it all? The weak U.S. dollar makes travel abroad forbiddingly expensive. To add insult to injury, some airlines now charge to check luggage.

Want to escape on the couch? A writers’ strike halted favorite TV shows for half a season. The newspaper on the table may soon be a relic of the Internet age. Just as video stores are falling by the wayside as people get their movies online or in the mail.

But there’s always sports, right?

The moorings seem to be coming loose here, too.

Baseball stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens stand accused of enhancing their heroics with drugs. Basketball referees are suspected of cheating.

Stay tuned for less than pristine tales from the drug-addled Tour de France and who knows what from the Summer Olympics.

It’s not the first time Americans have felt a loss of control.

Alger, the dime-novel author whose heroes overcame adversity to gain riches and fame, played to similar anxieties when the U.S. was becoming an industrial society in the late 1800s.

American University historian Allan J. Lichtman notes that the U.S. has endured comparable periods and worse, including the economic stagflation (stagnant growth combined with inflation) and Iran hostage crisis of 1980; the dawn of the Cold War, the Korean War and the hysterical hunts for domestic Communists in the late 1940s and early 1950s; and the Depression of the 1930s.

“All those periods were followed by much more optimistic periods in which the American people had their confidence restored,” he said. “Of course, that doesn’t mean it will happen again.”

Each period also was followed by a change in the party controlling the White House.

This period has seen intense interest in the presidential primaries, especially the Democrats’ five-month duel between Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Records were shattered by voters showing up at polling places, yearning for a voice in who will next guide the country as it confronts the uncontrollable.

Never mind that their views of their current leaders are near rock bottom, reflecting a frustration with Washington’s inability to solve anything. President Bush barely gets the approval of three in 10 people, and it’s even worse for the Democratic-led Congress.

Why the vulnerability? After all, this is the 21st century, not a more primitive past when little in life was assured. Surely people know how to fix problems now.

Maybe. And maybe this is what the 21st century will be about — a great unraveling of some things long taken for granted.

Having brought about this gripping secular viewpoint of our times, I wish now to apprise you of a prophetic biblical perspective. In the July issue of the Pentecostal Herald, Rev. Irvin Baxter, Jr writes a compelling article in which he cites four major biblical prophecies pointing to the end of this age that are being fulfilled now.

He lays as foundation that there has been one other time like this in history…just before the first coming of Jesus to earth. That generation had at least 100 specific prophecies concerning the first coming. The Old Testament foretold Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, would come from the tribe of Judah, from the lineage of King David. The method of His death was foretold, the exact amount for which the Messiah would be betrayed, and that the betrayal money would be used to purchase a potter’s field.

Rev. Baxter challenges us:

“…most people on earth at the time missed the coming of their long-awaited Messiah…It is our generation’s turn now. We stand just before the promised second coming of Jesus to the earth. This time, we do not have only 100 prophecies of His coming. We have closer to 1,000.

Could we possibly live right through the prophetic fulfillments God has given us for this time and not recognize the signs of His coming and the end of the age?”

He goes on to list four prophecies that he feels are being fulfilled at this moment.

1. Rebirth of the Holy Roman Empire

“Ratification of the Lisbon Treaty will solidify the rebirth of the Holy Roman Empire. It provides for Europe to have its own president and its own foreign minister. For all practical purposes, it creates a United States of Europe. Circumstances look favorable for the Lisbon Treaty’s ratification.

Will the rebirth of the Holy Roman Empire be finalized in 2008? It certainly looks like it! If so, a European president could be elected in 2009.”

2. President Bush predicts Middle East peace in 2008

“The prophecy states that a Middle East peace agreement, which establishes internationally recognized borders between Israel and the Palestinians will mark the beginning of the final seven years to Armageddon.

…Palestinian President Abbas speaks of signing a peace agreement. Are negotiators actually nearing a peace agreement?

3. Implementation of a national ID in 2008?

“Is the Real ID the mark of the beast? No, not now, but I believe it is the mechanism that will ultimately be used to implement the mark of the beast once the Antichrist takes power.”

4. World War III in 2008?

“The most ominous prophecy in the entire Bible has been tucked away in Revelation 9:13-16. It says, “the four angels were loosed…to slay the third part of men.”

Two billion human beings will be wiped off the face of the earth in one single war. The war will start from the Euphrates River and will feature an army of 200 million soldiers.

When America launched its invasion of Iraq in 2003, almost no one noticed (that) from the north in Iraq to the south flowed the prophesied Euphrates Rivers. When pictures of U.S. troops fighting up and down the Euphrates began to surface in the news, a sense of unease came over us who are familiar with the prophecies. Could this be the “Two-billion-to-die Euphrates River War?”

Rev. Baxter concludes his article:

“…2008 could be the most important year of prophetic fulfillment since the year of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Should we totally mobilize to reach the world now? Or should we just wait awhile?”

I’m far from being a scholar of either biblical prophecy or of sociology. I am a Christian and for as long as I can remember the preaching of the second coming of Jesus Christ has pealed in my ears. I’m also an observer and a listener, and I try to be a logical thinker. When I see the utter chaos in our world, and feel the stirring in my spirit, and when I read within a 24 hour period voices from opposite ends of the spectrum that cite impending earth-moving developments, I take notice.

Perhaps you should also.

(I hope I have preserved the integrity of Rev. Baxter’s article, despite heavy cutting. You might want to visit his site for more information. Rev. Baxter also has been a guest on George Norry’s Coast to Coast, where his interviews may be heard.)

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My devotional blog is here.