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Revelation Blog No. 8

THE FIRST OF THE SEVEN SEALS

In our last blog of Revelation, blog 7, we marveled at the revelation of Christ as the Lamb of God, but also the supreme center of power of the entire universe. The symbolism is fantastic—our savior is a gentle lamb and a fierce lion.

What comes next, I admit, I do not fully understand. But these days when news headlines can jolt us to the core, it’s important to understand biblical prophecy. Roughly twenty-seven percent of the Bible is prophetic. Some of these prophecies have been fulfilled with the first coming of Christ. But many are yet to be fulfilled and are found in the book of Revelation. As we’ve discussed before, what the Lord has documented in His Word, we are to examine.

The Seals

In his book, the 50 Final Events of History, Robert J Morgan believes that chapter six begins the first half of the great tribulation. I tend to agree.

This chapter opens with Christ, the only worthy being in heaven and on earth, slipping His finger beneath the first of seven seals. One of the four living creatures (covered in Revelation blog #6) cries out in voice of thunder, “Come!”

Before we peer at what the living creature beckoned into earthly reality, I’d like to point out the significance of the number seven. The number seven is mentioned more than any other number in the Bible and represents God’s divine sovereignty, perfection, and rest (grace). The biblical accounts that contain this mysterious number-puzzle are almost endless. The heavens and earth were created in six days with God resting on the seventh; There are the seven I am’s of Christ listed in the book of John, with the writer of Hebrews using seven different titles for Christ in his writing. And of course, as we’ve already seen, the book Revelation is full of prophetic signs that include the number seven. The seven seals are significant of God’s sovereignty over what is about to take place on earth.

As each of the seals are broken, John’s vision moves from heaven to the events taking place on earth. When Christ breaks the first seal, John sees “a white horse and the one who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him; and he went out conquering and to conquer.”

Most scholars believe that though the rider of this white horse is given a crown, this is not Christ. Since our point of view has shifted from heaven now to coming events on earth, this crown was likely given to the rider by men. Also, the word crown in this passage is translated from the Greek word stéfanos—a perishable crown much like the olive leafed-garland placed upon the heads of the Olympian winners of the day. Christ’s crown is an everlasting crown of royalty translated from the Greek word diadema found in Revelation 19.

There is much internet speculation on who the rider of the white horse might be and speculation ranges from Christ himself to the horse and rider symbolizing the power of the Gospel moving forth across the world.

We’re only given this one sentence about the crowned horseman with a bow. But because we are looking at this prophecy from earth’s perspective, this symbolic rider could well represent the antichrist. The antichrist will look to us, at first, like a hero—a man who will take center stage during a time of worldwide conflict and crisis on earth. While this man will appear to have global, peaceful answers, in reality, he is a great deceiver.

I’m copying what the late Jack Kelly (Bible teacher), wrote in an article to further explain why I and others believe this rider represents the political arrival of the antichrist:

“The Lord’s weapon of choice is a sword. The reason he has no arrows is that he won’t use force to make his initial impact on Earth. He [the rider] comes as a peacemaker (Daniel 8:25). Since the Book of Revelation is filled with symbolism explained elsewhere in the Bible, I looked for a reference to a man with a bow, hoping to get an additional clue to this rider’s identity. I found it in Genesis 21:20, referring to Ishmael as an archer. It’s the Bible’s first mention of a man with a bow. Earlier God said Ishmael would be a wild donkey of a man with his hand against everyone (Genesis 16:12).”

It should be noted that Jack wrote this article in 2012 prior to his death in 2015 and eleven years after the tragedy of 9-11. In 2010 we witnessed the Arab Spring which was a pro-democratic movement among Arab communities that sought to end oppressive regimes. Today, the history of the Arab Spring is hallmarked by instability and oppression in many of the counties across North Africa and the Middle East. But those with radical Islamic views took center stage during the early 2,000s, seeking widespread control and also the removal of western customs from their own culture. It would make sense that during the writing of Jack’s article, Islam posed a threat to western ways of life and certainly to Christians around the world. And I can understand that through his biblical research, he concluded the rider upon the white horse could be from the world of Islam or a descendant of Ishmael.

Today’s threats on our Christian culture have multiplied, lining up with many of the prophetic signs found in Matthew 24. And with the prophesies of one great leader of nations found in Revelation 13 and Daniel 7, the timing is ripe for a supposed hero to come to the rescue of the worldwide crises knocking at our earthly doors. What the ethnicity or religious background of this leader is, I cannot say for certain. But Jack’s speculation of an antichrist coming out of the Islamic world is more than interesting.

Whomever occupies the saddle of the white horse, this person is given authority and power over mankind for a time.

Following the white horse, three more riders come forth as the next three seals are broken and things get very … well … apocalyptic.

Stay tuned for more and keep watch as events in our world unfold according to Holy writ.

It’s an exciting time to be alive.

And don’t forget for one second that Jesus is coming back.

If I perish, I perish,

LGW


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Thank Him for What?

In all things give thanks.

You know you need to, but there’s just no way you can give thanks to God for that person. Anybody but that person. Sure, you’re thankful for your bestie, your kids, your grands. You’re even thankful for the neighbor who picks up your mail while you’re out of town. No doubt God’s brought awesome people into your life including the driver who let you merge into that left lane. And for each, you are grateful. But …

Then there’s the situation. The situation. The maddening circumstance that developed  just weeks ago. And now you’re stuck. You’ve given thanks for a lot of problems, but not this one because there’s no green light at the end of this emerging dark tunnel.

And the unanswered prayer. How could you thank God for not lifting His hand on the big one when you’ve asked a hundred times—maybe a thousand?

But you know this is the point. You truly trust God with all things. Your thanks give God glory. But it’s easier to ask Him to change people or circumstances than change yourself. It’s easier to grumble about the rain than to praise God when the thunder is so loud.

the benefits

But thank God, opportunities for attitude adjustments exist for our benefit. Take a look at the returns of having a grateful outlook:

  • Gratitude helps relieve stress. Research shows that when we give thanks, we can keep our minds from slipping towards anxiety.*
  • Gratitude places a positive spin on your day. According to studies, a position of thankfulness releases dopamine and serotonin—two feel-good neurotransmitters.*
  • Gratitude improves your social life. Thankfulness increases empathy and reduces aggression.*
  • Gratitude reduces harmful psychological and emotional downturns. Expressing thankfulness can lesson symptoms of depression and anxiety.*

God created us in His all-knowing, all-understanding image. As His image bearers, we’re to reflect the truth that all things work to the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Knowing all things lead to God’s will of goodness, we can praise Him in our trials.

prompt some gratitude

Try using these gratitude prompts to steer your mind into a space of thankfulness.

  • When a situation turns difficult, stop and thank God first before moving into your own action plan.
  • Start your day thankful. Not just for the good, but for the hard you will encounter throughout the day. Recognize God is in control, even of the difficult.
  • Thank God your trials are not dead-end roads. He uses trials and difficult people to lead us to new heights of faith.
  • Write down the things you grumble about. Take a hardship inventory and as you consider each difficulty, thank God.
  • Make gratitude a spiritual discipline. Forming thankful habits will take time, so determine to go through your thankful exercises daily. Soon, your heart will catch up to your list and you’ll be truly grateful the Lord molds and shapes you into a vessel of honor.

The art of gratitude belongs to the warrior. It is the heroes who worship God in the fights of life—in the sweat, in the pain, in the loss. We can praise because we posses understanding—we’ve read the book and know victory comes.

You’re not a grumbling couch potato. You’re a warrior. Give thanks!

...in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. - 1 Thessalonians 5:18

*https://firstthings.org/benefits-of-thankfulness/

If I perish, I perish,

Laurie

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Fear’s Place

Hyperinflation, food shortages, botched elections. Increased immorality, ramped addictions, a culture out of control.  Loneliness, isolation … rejection … judgement from others.

Do any of the above circumstances start a tremor in your heart?

These fear-inducing commodities are sold to us hourly by the media, sometimes well-meaning friends, and even a few of our supposed spiritual leaders. Fear is one of our enemies’ top sellers and we, not fully comprehending our royalty, lift the apple from the hand of evil, ingesting the poison.

Fear rules our society and it’s taken the throne far too easily.

We’ve Been Warned

God knew we would be tempted to take fear and run with it, giving it an unnatural power over our lives. Because He knew this and because He knows us inside out, He’s addressed the topic more than one hundred and twelve times in His Word.

Scattered throughout Scripture are various forms of the phrase fear not and the message is so prevalent, I fear (pun intended) we gloss over the passages without considering the weight of this command. In Joshua 1:9, God says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid.” These words are imperative—God does not make a suggestion to fear not here. This is an order from our Maker.

Astonishing

Fear-laden Christians befuddle me, and the reason may well be because I have my own fear issues. Here’s the deal: I love to make people happy. Seeing smiles on faces is my heart’s desire but as a parent, a grandparent, a corporate manager, and Bible teacher, I’m called to be honest and that sometimes requires saying things people don’t want to hear. At the core of my people-pleasing tendencies is a fear of rejection. Thankfully, the ever-patient Lord has taught me to deal with my fear through His Word. I’ve learned I have an audience of one to please. Not a horde—just one. One. If I deal with people in a way that pleases the One, no amount of rejection can affect me (or my lack of sleep which is my personal fear marker).

Faith is an Action Word

In our Laodicean-esque culture the word faith has come to identify our spiritual philosophy rather than our spiritual being or essence. We tend to view faith as religion we’ve signed off on. The Hebrew word for faith is emunah and this is an action word defined as help, support, or defense. Faith is the substance of who God is. Our faith is not about what we believe (God exists) but the person/deity we believe in. He is all in all. He sustains, He protects, He lives, He saves.

And because He is all the above, we have no reason to fear. We are to fear not!

I think of those team-building exercises at wilderness camps. In one activity, some brave soul volunteers to fall backwards off a platform into the waiting arms of wide-eyed participants below, building trust in the team. I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen too many Youtube videos of experiments like this going wrong. But with Jesus, we don’t fall into human arms. We fall into the source of all power. When I’m on the proverbial platform and called to jump, my heart pounds at the thought. But I take that anxious step and fall (faith) knowing Christ will not only catch me but is with me as I descend. This is faith.

Faith is not a belief. Faith is an action.

Not all Fear is Bad

Because it is a natural human response, fear does serve a purpose. Fear can trigger adrenaline—a God made and needed hormone secreted by the adrenal glands in conditions of stress. Adrenaline increases blood circulation, breathing, and metabolism in preparing muscles for action. This hormone puts your body into fight and/or flight mode to physically protect you.

As well, healthy fear can keep us from doing stupid things like grabbing the hot pot bare-handed; jumping off cliffs, or running head-first into tornados.

The Healthiest Fear

There is one fear we are commanded to embrace, and this is the fear of the Lord. In the book of Deuteronomy, the Lord says: You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shall worship Him … Deuteronomy 6:24

Wow.

Fear only the Lord your God.

Fearing God alone means respecting Him and His seat of honor–His throne of sovereignty. Think of it as a robust respect for that hot pot, the height of that cliff, and that powerful storm. All of these can cause you harm, yet all are good in their respective ways. He is to be feared. But He is good.

The Scriptures below explain the fear of the Lord better than I ever could:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge … Proverbs 1:7

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom … Psalm 111:10

The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life … Proverbs 14:27

The fear of the Lord leads to life … Proverbs 19:23

Wrap Up

When the circumstances around us spin out of control, we are to “fear not” and trust the sovereignty of God. He doesn’t just win in the end; He wins every single day and He does so in and through you.

Fear God. Not man. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? – Psalm 56:4

If I perish, I perish,

Laurie

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Revelation Blog No. 10 – The 5th Seal and Martyrs

Revelation 6: 9-11: When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.

Post Apocalyptic Horsemen

After the four horsemen of the Apocalypse fulfill their demonic roles on earth (the one-world dictator takes the stage, the short time of peace is decimated, hyperinflation is followed by famine, and a quarter of the earth’s population dies), John’s vision is taken from the earth back to the realm of heaven where Jesus is sliding His finger beneath the fifth seal.

What appears next reveals to us the power of the gospel—the good news of Christ’s atoning work on the cross and the hope of eternal salvation.

I believe this is the big take away from this 5th seal revelation—the awesome reminder of God’s eternal purposes. God is building a kingdom for Himself. His love, sacrifice, and salvation are continued even during His wrath.

Beneath the Altar

Back to John’s vision, he’s shown beneath the altar are thousands of souls who have been slain because of their faith and testimony. These souls appear to crave justice, knowing God’s wrath is incomplete and a day of judgement is not too far in the future. “How long,” they cry, “until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”

These faithful servants are martyrs, those–who’ve been murdered during the tribulations of the four horsemen.

I can imagine after the rapture of the church; a one-world leader taking stage; and the rage of the four horsemen, many who’d been on the fence about Christ pre-rapture are now quick to become faithful, brave believers. Having lived prophecy, our tribulation brother and sisters will passionately work to spread the gospel at this last hour. With the supply of information the raptured church left behind, new believers will have pathways (albeit secret) for heralding truth and converting unbelievers.

Looks Familiar

Considering the spiritual anti-Christ climate of our world today, I can understand better how these Great Tribulation Christians will face acute persecution as the antichrist and his demonic forces thirst for power, control, and the blood of Christ’s family. There is an anti-Christian movement rising up beyond the enemy’s historical strongholds. In America, deadly persecution seemed impossible just ten short years ago. Today, I can feel it coming.

Obviously, many believers are killed during the last half of the Great Tribulation, but at this moment in John’s vision, the blood bath of martyrs is not complete. The souls beneath the altar crying out for justice are given white robes and told, “that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.”

There is a specific number of tribulation believers who will be slaughtered for the sake of Christ.

Why Numbers

The idea of a specific number of martyrs reminds me of Paul’s writings in Romans eleven when he addresses God’s mercy for the gentiles and the partial hardening of Israeli hearts. He writes: “For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in …”

As I’ve mentioned in earlier blogs, one of my favorite commentators is Jack Kelley who passed to heaven in 2015. Concerning the “full number” of the gentiles, Jack writes: “According to my research the phrase “full number” is a nautical term that describes the number of soldiers and sailors necessary to operate a ship under sail. The ship couldn’t sail until they had the full number of crewmen. Once the full number was reached, off they went. Sometimes that meant they didn’t depart on the day people thought they would. It would have been on a date no one knew in advance.”

In Scriptures Revelation 6:11 and Romans 11:25, we’re given insight into one of God’s greatest mysteries—the intersection of His foreknowledge and His perfect will. He knows the number and His will will see that the number of new-kingdom people will be reached.

Kingdom Building

Even in the Great Tribulation, men, women, and children become believers. God’s redeemed and beloved people will fill His new heaven and new earth in a future time.

Hallelujah!

I’ll wrap up this fifth-seal blog with this: even though our world is headed for disaster (and news headlines and prophecy signs prove it), God still works in His people. And will work in His people during the coming wrath. The Trinity will continue to kingdom build. This holy work has been the mandate from the time Adam and Eve walked in the garden.

To discover more about God’s initial and eternal will for man, grab a copy of my Bible Brief, God’s Will: Unraveling the Mystery, on Amazon. The study is affordably priced so everyone can ponder our earthly purposes.

That’s all for now. More Revelation blogs coming in 2023. In the meantime, I’m working on the next Bible Brief to be published in 2023. God’s Will for Leaders. Get a taste of godly leadership in this Peculiar Leadership blog.

Keep watch. Stay brave.

If I perish, I perish,

L.G.

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Need inspiration for your warrior life? Take a break and read my fiction–you’ll probably love Isa, the ordinary accountant who fumbles her way into a brave and courageous heart. Here’s the latest review from Amazon:

I do NOT read fiction often but “Calculated Encounters” by L. G. Westlake was one of the best books I have ever read! I could not put it down. I especially enjoyed the large number of short chapters that kept the action and interaction between the plots moving at breakneck speed. There are no chapters that are on “cruise control”.
Now I am forced to go back and read the first book in her series, “Calculated Risk”!

Revelation Blog 9: the horsemen

Revelation blog 9 – Riders of the Red, Pale, and Black Horses

In blog number 8, John’s vision moved from heaven to earth as the first rider on a white horse entered his vision scope. I believe with the arrival of the four horsemen, what John witnesses includes scenes on earth. The horseman with the earthly crown (again blog 8) was given power to conquer men on our planet, not in heaven. As I stated earlier, most consider the arrival of the white horse and his rider to be the entrance of the antichrist. In Daniel 9:27, the first three and a half years of what the Bible calls The Great Tribulation, are years of prosperity as a world leader is given power to seduce the nations into believing he has the authority to rule and reign nations. The crowned rider on the white horse could be that guy–the antichrist.

The first three and a half years of The Great Tribulation are a time of false hope in the world. I find it interesting that as our world edges toward hopelessness (famines, pestilence, wars and rumors of wars), as prophecies from Ezekiel 38 and 39 line up globally. Could we see a powerful and hope-inducing leader take the stage soon?

Rapture Recap

If you’ve read all of these Revelation blogs, you know that I lean toward the idea that the church is raptured before the The Great Tribulation. In 1 Corinthians 13:12, Paul tells us that we see as in a mirror dimly (without a clear view) and so the timing of some prophecies are unclear and will remain so. But because we are called to be ever watchful (Mark 13:33), should the rapture not take place until sometime during these first peaceful, three and a half years, we should take great heed. Time and again, Christ warned that believers can fall prey to deceptive teachers and false Messiahs.

After the Peace

Getting back to what John witnesses in heaven, another seal is broken and another horse appears. This horse is red and it’s rider is granted to take this false peace (under the false Messiah) from the earth. The short time of peace earth’s inhabitants enjoyed will come to an end.

After Christ breaks the third seal, a black horse takes to the earth and his rider holds a pair of scales. As this rider moves into the human atmosphere, a voice comes from among the living creatures and this voice announces economic woes in the form of hyperinflation.

As the fourth seal is broken by the Lamb, a fourth and pale horse take to man’s habitations. This rider of the ashen horse is named Death and Hades follows him. And this rider, like the others, is given authority over a fourth of the earth to kill with the sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beast.

Whoa.

Finding Hope

There’s much to chew on here. The riders and their purposes are mind blowing, but when we look with the eyes of faith instead of fear, there are biblical truths to hang onto.

I believe it is important to note that as Christ the slain Lamb (the only one worthy) breaks each of the first four seals, each of the four living creatures (from Revelation blog number 6) calls one of the riders to “come.” The riders, whose purposes are likely fashioned in the pits of hell, cannot affect the things of earth without God’s holy permission. We know from Scripture our Creator uses all things (even the horrific) to the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Without doubt, hesitation, or fear, we can find peace in the hell that is about to be unleashed upon mankind because, ultimately, those who love Christ will be redeemed for His glory.

This is what hope is all about.

Most of the imagery here is disturbing and it is easy to focus on the wrath of the horsemen. But there’s insight to be gained—insight purposefully provided by our loving Maker. He’s pulled back the veil, as it were, or lightened the glass darkly so we can see into the mysteries of His work. Considering that the horsemen and their steeds are allowed into humanity one at a time, we’re given an important timing reveal. Whether we’re raptured and watching events from heaven, or still on the ground when the first rider takes center stage, we’ll know that soon after this leader has captivated the world, more war will come, the economy will crash, and death and destruction will soon follow. There will be no guessing. No speculation. From the false peace of the faux world leader, life on earth will fall apart, one catastrophe after another.

And the order of events is written in the Lamb’s book.

I take great comfort in the truth that God reveals His secrets and His future to His children. Even though we will likely suffer hardships prior to this possible antichrist coming to power, we know God has planned the end from the beginning.

When feeling anxious about where our world is headed and what could be around a quick corner, I skip ahead to Revelation 20 where we’re told Satan is bound for a thousand years and believers reign with Christ in a time of perfect peace and beauty. This is what we are headed for—the original picture of man subduing earth from the Garden of Eden. Our god-man Christ will be the One to usher in a perfect government in an unspoiled world.

But to get there … there are spiritual principalities and evil dominions to overcome.

We’ll look into Revelation blog 10 in a few weeks. Until then, I pray you find peace in knowing God’s plans will always be accomplished, and we who overcome shall be forever with Him.

He will not leave or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6).

If I perish, I perish,

Laurie

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Dive deeper into God’s plan for mankind in this short, user-friendly Bible Briefs

Peculiar Leadership

Occupying a leadership role is a responsibility we all fill at some point in our lives. For some, this appointed position will last the span of their careers. For others, the leadership role will be seasonal. But whether short or long term, for the Christian, leadership is a call to illuminate the ways of Christ in a dark world. God’s children are called to transformational leadership.

I believe most Christians understand they are to walk as Christ, shedding the light of grace to those around them. But I don’t believe that every Christian understands when given the opportunity, they are to lead as Christ led, which ultimately means picking up a heavy cross and toting that cross into extreme vulnerability.

According to our Christ, His leaders are to be sacrificial slaves. Look with me at Mark 10:42-45:

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

John 13:13-17 records Christ’s example of servant leadership:

“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

Leadership must lead as Christ led to be considered Christian. Christ demonstrated servant leadership.

To be as Christ, we are to be vulnerable–the opposite picture of the strong-armed and flawless leader most of us wish to portray.

Strong or Weak, It Gets Confusing

After nearly thirty years in fulltime Christian ministry with several organizations, I can testify to some leadership confusion.

While there are plenty of books and blogs explaining servant leadership, still Christian leaders often reflect the world’s leadership values other than Christ’s values. As the Apostle Peter wrote, Christian leaders are to appear as aliens, contrasting the things of the world—suffering shepherds glorifying Christ. The leadership model of our world today is anything but a suffering shepherd. CEOs, CFOs, executives, and managers often seek their own glory rather than pointing to Christ. Leadership has become a badge of honor rather than a call to service. According to Peter, as Christians—whether leading a secular team or in a Christian ministry—we are to look so radically different from the world’s model of leadership, we will be called peculiar.

Counter Culture

As Christ was a threat to the traditional Jewish (and Roman) culture of his time, so we Christian leaders should threaten the status quo of worldly leadership which turns out to be dead-end games of manipulation, jockeying for power, idolizing our own ideas, and considering ourselves as more important than those we lead.

I’m perplexed as speakers in Christian leadership conference after leadership conference neglect the Bible and dazzle audiences with best sellers and successful businesses, calling these the outcomes of solid leadership. We’ve come to judge good leadership by standards of economic success or the size of our church congregations to our shame. Time and again, the Bible directs us to take the rugged paths of hardship, not the glittery roads to stardom.

Confession

Most of my leadership roles (beyond being a mother) have been couched inside Christian nonprofit ministry. Although I have been an entrepreneur and worked in a secular family business, I’ve been in the Christian nonprofit sector for most of my working life. It is here, within the various Christian ministries I’ve served, I realized how we Christian leaders mirrored the world’s models of management. For me, this needs to change.

I am guilty of embracing the world’s ideals for leadership. I’ve failed employees, volunteers, and my own family when it comes to servant leadership. This is why I write this blog—to challenge myself to lead differently—seeing others as more important than myself and building up those I serve to do greater things than I will ever accomplish. This is why I’ve formed the Take the Hill online group and sponsor live events for women.

Unfortunate Resemblance

One of the biggest areas of misunderstandings for Christian leaders, I believe, is in the relationship with employees or volunteers. Often, workers are treated as a workforce instead of the loving objectives of Christ’s affections. I find this odd as Christian ministries are one-hundred percent about people. Either serving the poor and needy, prisoners and widows, or sharing the Gospel with those who have yet to hear the good news. Christian ministries exist to serve people.

And yet, it’s the people within our immediate influence that are often overlooked in the process of ministry.

Employees are treated as objects or tools to achieve a greater call, stretched beyond capacity, guilted into service, and judged based other leaders’ theology. But when we look beyond the world’s organizational charts and into Christ’s leadership model, we see that Christ ministered to the twelve within His immediate influence, pouring His wisdom, knowledge, and love into those He called to come and serve beside Him. Jesus fed His disciples, slept in the dust with these men and women, washed their dirty feet, and equipped each to build a kingdom that would look radically different from this temporary world. He ministered to those directly under His care.

Eternal vs Temporary

We have been called to model the eternal kingdom, not the current one.

In Christ’s human economy, the first shall be last and the last shall be first (Matthew 20:16). He died because He so loved the world … all of the world’s people … not just the people yet to hear the gospel. “All people” means those under our influence.

Jesus Christ absolutely adores the people we lead. His will is for these humans to grow spiritually under our care. I’m not sure when this is going to sink into our worldly-conditioned minds. It’s not the mission we are to grow, its the people. The people, like Christ’s disciples, are those that will replicate and multiply the processes that lead to the Lord’s objectives. His objectives, not ours!

Under the banner of a mission, we’ve neglected a vital part of the mission—our own potential disciples.

Looking Peculiar

Exemplifying Christ in our leadership will be hard, excruciating, flesh-cutting work. We’ll have to give up:

  • Passive/Aggressive behaviors
  • Gossip
  • Our personal ideals
  • Our desire for control
  • The ungodly responsibilities we’ve placed upon our own shoulders (He is king)
  • Our personal preferences
  • Our need to dominate
  • Cravings for attention
  • Our addictions to praise
  • The idea that others should think as we do
  • Our passion for intoxicating power
  • Our love of accomplishment rather than people
  • The lie that the Holy Spirit speaks to us only and is incapable of speaking through those we lord over

In the coming months, I’ll write more on each of the above leadership pitfalls and share servant leadership points for those interested in doing leadership the peculiar way. In my role as founder and leader of Take The Hill Women’s Ministries, (FB group and live events) I’m looking to be a peculiar leader. What about you?

I hope you watch for more transformational leadership insight!

If I perish, I perish,

L.G. Westlake


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THE REVELATION BLOGS

VOLUME 1 – AS IT IS IN HEAVEN (Scroll down to link)

Blog 1 https://lauriegreenwestlake.com/2022/07/23/revelation-first-things-first/
Blog 2 https://lauriegreenwestlake.com/2022/07/29/revelation-2-second-things/
Blog 3 https://lauriegreenwestlake.com/2022/08/06/revelation-3-christ-and-the-body/
Blog 4 https://lauriegreenwestlake.com/2022/08/13/revelation-4th-blog-all-caught-up/
Blog 5 https://lauriegreenwestlake.com/2022/08/20/revelation-5th-blog-the-throne-room/
Blog 6 https://lauriegreenwestlake.com/2022/08/27/revelation-6th-blog-a-look-at-angels/
Blog 7 https://lauriegreenwestlake.com/2022/09/03/revelation-blog-7-the-true-christ-is-revealed/
Blog 8 https://lauriegreenwestlake.com/2022/10/01/revelation-blog-no-8/

For further insight into God’s will and how you fit into the plans of mankind, check out our Bible Briefs, God’s Will, Unraveling the Mystery.


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Need to get away? Read L. G.’s latest fiction:

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  • Revelation Blog No. 10 – The 5th Seal and Martyrs

    Even though our world is headed for disaster (and news headlines and prophecy sings prove it), God still works in His people.

  • Revelation Blog 9: the horsemen

    Revelation blog 9 – Riders of the Red, Pale, and Black Horses In blog number 8, John’s vision moved from heaven to earth as the first rider on a white horse entered his vision scope. I believe with the arrival of the four horsemen, what John witnesses includes scenes on earth. The horseman with theContinue reading “Revelation Blog 9: the horsemen”

  • Peculiar Leadership

    After nearly thirty years in fulltime Christian ministry, I can testify to some leadership confusion.

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You are Precious Fruit and More

James 5:7-8 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and latter rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

I love the way James compares our Maker to a farmer and you and me to God’s precious fruit. As the Farmer God waters and prunes His garden, the objects of his affections develop.

The Farmer keeps His eye on the coming, delightful fruit of His labors, anticipating the day He plucks you from the vine, holds you up in His palm, and examines His prize.

Fruit Bearing Takes Patience

While James’ point is patience, I couldn’t help but be caught up in the word precious. You and I are precious to Him. That is the mystery, the unbelievable and miraculous mystery of life. We are precious to the God of all.

But to James’s point, let us also be patient, waiting for the cultivation of God’s people. He’s still in the garden, pulling weeds and pruning wild vines. Though we long to see His coming—the great rescue before the days of wrath–there is work to be done. He is not slow in coming, (2 Peter 3:9), preparing to yield a great harvest. And that day is just ahead.

The Fruit Becomes the Worker

Here is another, miraculous mystery revealed in these last days: we, being the fruit are also co-laborers in fields about to be harvested.

1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

While we are the product of our Maker’s hands, we are also fashioned to work beside Him. As His prized production, we become His co-laborers in the garden. Our jobs are to search out the unruly vines and bring them to the gardener. We also fruit pluck. This is the mystery of God’s unchanging will–you and I are to be building a kingdom for Him to return to. To unravel this mystery, check out my Bible Brief Bible Study for only 10.99 on Amazon.

I have first-hand knowledge that the sharing of God’s Word around the world is speeding up. People groups who have not had access to the Word of Truth are given access through digital means and faster Bible translation efforts. There is work yet to be done, so let us pray, as we patiently wait upon the Lord, that as Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24:14, that His Word go to the ends of the earth, and then . . . the end (or the beginning, I like to say) would come.

The truth: He is coming. And we, anticipating this great and awesome day, should be up to our elbows in garden soil, preparing for a harvest.

Who is with me?

If I perish, I perish,

Laurie

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Revelation Blog 7, The True Christ is Revealed

In the last blog (Revelation Blog 6), we reviewed the four living creatures John saw in the throne room of Heaven. In these next verses, we’re still in the throne room, but the scene is about to change. Before moving forward, I’d like to remind myself, and you—my favorite people—of the objective of this book. In verse 1 of chapter 1, the purpose of John’s vision is explained: The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His bond servants [you and me] the things which must shortly take place. Our purpose in reading/hearing this wild and wooly book of the Bible is clear: we will encounter Christ’s fill revelation and will be told (because our Lord desire’s it) what is coming in the future.

And just in case you find yourself a little overwhelmed with all the imagery and are tempted to move to simpler Scripture, let me remind you that in verse 3 we’re promised to be blessed for reading and/or hearing the words of this prophecy and for heeding the things which are written, for the time is near.

How cool is this? The time is near. God wants you to know stuff. And He blesses you when you want to know stuff.

Through the lens of the objectives (Revelation of Christ, a blessing, and the nearness of time), understanding takes shape. And interestingly, as we shape understanding, we’ll also come to terms with not fully comprehending every detail, but fully trusting the Lord’s plans.

I look at the coming prophecies in Revelation as God’s outline and timeline for humanity. Some of the events will be hard to imagine, but with trust and the desire to know what the Lord wants us to know, we’ll find a space of peace.

So let’s get started.

In this blog, we’re still in the throne room when John sees something in the “right hand of Him who sat on the throne.” It’s a book, we’re told, with important information written inside and on the back of this book are seven seals.

I find it mysterious and compelling that there are reports … news … intelligence written in heaven and kept under wraps until a specific time arrives.

Some scholars believe this is the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 13:8; 21:27) and others believe this is the scroll from Daniel 12:4. “But as for you, Daniel, keep these words secret and seal up the book until the end of time; many will roam about, and knowledge will increase.”  We’re not told the title, but as John watches, we realize there is an issue with the scroll/book and seals. Yikes! Evidently, these writings are sacred and only a worthy being can break the seals and reveal what’s inside. An angel cries out, “Who is worthy to open the book and break the seals?”

It appears there’s a search underway.

To John’s dismay, there are no worthy beings found in heaven, on earth, or under the earth who qualify.

Hierarchy

Please hang with me on a short rabbit trail while we pull a couple of puzzle pieces together. According to Psalm 8:4-5, God’s created beings have categories and we humans fall below angelic creatures on the ladder rungs of hierarchy. Here’s a psalm that explains it:

What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.”

But in this room of glorious angelic beings who rank higher than humans, none are found worthy to open the scroll. No humans back down on earth measure up either. But the puzzle piece I’m slipping into place here is the fact that, as superior beings, angels, though ranked higher than man, are not worthy of this honor. Nor do angels receive salvation. The Son of Man never was or will be the Son of an angel. And, we’re told, angels are curious about God’s unique relationship to man. So curious they long to know more (1 Peter 1:8-12). Christ became a man, a being ranked lower than angels. And the man He became is … worthy and about to take center stage.

The Revelation

Before Christ enters the scene, John experiences a heart-sinking moment. He understands what is in that book must be revealed. But for a pause pregnant with grief, he realizes no one has earned the right to open the seals. Of all in God’s creation, there is none righteous or holy enough.

John doesn’t just tear up at this point—he weeps greatly. I imagine he sobs. Our John is broken with despair and disappointment seeing, for the first time, reality—none are worthy. None. No one anywhere is worthy to fulfill God’s sealed-up plans.

Truth Arrives

Then, right on cue … at the moment of hopelessness, one of the twenty-four elders around the throne reaches out with encouragement. “Stop weeping,” he soothingly tells John. “Behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and it’s seven seals.”

Drum Roll

As I started this blog with a reminder that Revelation was written to reveal Christ, we are about to witness the final revelation of all our Savior is. I say final because this is the last book of the Bible and this is where we see Christ, fully God, fully man revealed as the One who is worthy of bringing about the culmination of history.

The last eyewitnesses of Christ on earth were the disciples, watching him ascend into heaven after he commanded them to go into every nation discipling and teaching. There, we know from documented accounts, he looked different than when he walked with them earlier. But they do recognize him, walking and eating with Him after the resurrection. We conclude that though glorified, He had an earthly appearance, still resembling a lowly made man.

But here in heaven, John sees Christ in another form.

John tells us that between the throne and the twenty-four elders, appears a Lamb—as if slain. From Old Testament shadowing and our understanding of the sacrifice of the Son of God, we know immediately who John sees. But there’s deeper revelation here. John describes the Lamb as having “seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.”

I believe what we see here is the full embodiment of the trinity—Christ as the Lamb, the Holy Spirit as the seven Spirits, and God as the seven eyes. Because the number seven biblically represents complete perfection, we’re seeing the completed and perfect, all-powerful Christ. I believe the seven eyes represent God the Father (Proverbs 15:3), the seven spirits represent the Holy Spirit (Revelation 4:5) and the lamb, of course, is the sacrificial Son of God.

The seven horns on the lamb represent power as many times in Scripture, the horn is used as a symbol of power and authority or kingship (Exodus 27:2; Daniel 7:26). With seven horns, Christ is the perfect and completed king.

Wowza. I hope as you read this, revelation pours. Christ became a lowly man and sacrificed himself for lowly mankind. Now as man in part, He is the one and only all-powerful being in the universe—the trinity of holiness—worthy to break the seals of this important and future determining book.

What is man that you are mindful of him, asks the Psalmist (Psalm 8:4). After being a human for several decades now, I can’t find much worthy in me or in anyone I know. We fall; we fail.

But God.

But the Lamb.

God’s plans for mankind are incomprehensible, glorious, and so undeserved. That we, not angels, are the recipients of His grace and mercy is what fantasy story books are written about. If you were a visitor from another other-worldly universe, would you, after studying reckless mankind, believe this salvation story? Believe God put His glorious image on man?

Hard as it is to believe, this is the truth our enemies want us to never discover.

The book of Revelation teems with … well … revelation. The truth of Christ.

If you’ve liked this journey through Revelation so far, check out my newest Bible Brief, God’s Will, Unraveling the Mystery on Amazon. It’s only $10.99 and well worth the investment, I pray.

I’ll be traveling in September and October, but plan to pick up the Revelation blog in November. Until then, there will be other writings, thoughts, and notions.

Be blessed. You’re my favorite beings—people seeking to understand.

If I perish, I perish,

Laurie

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Revelation 6th Blog- A Look at Angels

When I read through the book of Revelation, I usually begin to feel lost at the exact point where we are now—the witnessing of the four living creatures in the throne room (Revelation 4:6).

Up until this point, most of the things John describes—a throne with lightening and thunder, a sea of glass, twenty-four elders in white garments—are objects I’ve encountered in some form before. I can visualize what John describes.

But then … John sees something out of this world beyond our limited visual history. In Revelation 4:6(b), he writes “and around the throne, [there were] four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind.”

It’s the full of eyes parts that creeps me out just a bit.

He goes on to say: “The first was like a lion, and the second creature like calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man and the fourth creatures was like a living eagle.” These I can picture.

John continues, “and the four living creatures, each one having six wings, are full eyes around and within…” Could John see something on these creatures he’s never seen before and use the word “eye” to describe this ability to see all around? We don’t know. But what the Lord is allowing John to describe to us are surely creatures who have the ability to see beyond the scope of our human view be it natural or supernatural.

Every jot and tittle of the written Word is purposeful and we are given such detail for a reason. God wants us to know there are other created beings we’ve yet to encounter and John tells us what these fascinating creatures do. “and day and night they do not cease to say,Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God, The Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.’”

We’re told these four multi-winged beings praise God continuously and as they praise, John sees the twenty-four elders fall down before that throne of extreme energy and sparkling light.

And then John explains to us that these elders will cast their crowns before God and say, “Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; For Thou didst create all things and because of Thy will, they existed and were created.”

I’d like to take a step back here, beyond the imagery, and point out what we’re learning from this scene. This is a true worship service, my peeps. God is on the throne, His energy and power lighting up the skies around Him. He’s sparkling like a multi-faceted jewel and there is perhaps the largest transparent stone in the universe beneath his feet. The twenty-four elders, holding some form of authority, fall at God’s feet and claim He is the creator of all things and all things exist by His will alone. The four angelic beings who look some akin to we earthly beings sing out the truth: Holy is the Lord.

Truth surrounds this throne.

As lies not only penetrate our society, but lead to false doctrines, we’re shown an important state of existence here. God is and exists in truth.

Back to the Beings

This is not the first time these four beings show up in Scripture. The prophet Ezekiel documents these same angelic forces in Ezekiel 1:5-14. Not every detail is the same, but we must remember these were men seeing supernatural beings for the first time. We’re witnessing supernatural angelic lifeforms through the eyes of two limited, earthly men.

In Isaiah 6, Isaiah also describes similar angelic creatures when he is also shown God’s throne in heaven. He refers to these angels as Seraphim.

Angels

Throughout Scripture, we are given glimpses of additional angelic beings, too. These other-worldly sightings are not mysteries to be solved, but rather intended information to give us further knowledge about the invisible realm which is the realm from which our earthly existence was fashioned from (Hebrews 11:3).

Through angelic interactions and visions, we’ve come to understand there is an angelic order and that angels have differing responsibilities. We’re told angels have names and/or classes such as Seraphim, Cherubim, Archangels, dominions, principalities, ministering spirits, and hosts. They serve as messengers, fighters, guards, and helpers (Genesis 3:22-24; Daniel 10:13; Ephesians 3:10; Colossians 1:16; Matthew 18:10; Hebrews 1:14; Isaiah 6:1-3; Ezekiel 1:5-14; Revelation 4:6-9). The purpose of the four living beings around the throne, clearly, is to minister to God. In the two (possibly three) biblical accounts, they are with God and praising Him.

More on the Four

While we are not told why the four living beings John sees have different faces, an internet search will yield multiple articles and opinions. I was fascinated that many believe the beings represent the four gospels. Here’s a breakdown:

Matthew: The first beast is like a lion. In his gospel, Matthew presents Jesus as the king of the Jews—the lion of Judah.

Mark: The second beast is like a calf—the typical servant of the animal kingdom. Mark shows Christ as a servant of man.

Luke: The third beast is like a man. Luke’s gospel presents Christ as the Son of Man.

John: The fourth beast is an eagle. A high-flying and majestic bird, John presents Christ as exalted above all.

The Bible does not say directly that this representation is true, but considering that in an earlier blog, we determined that the things of earth were made as shadows of the things of heaven, then the earthly lion, calf (or ox in Ezekiel), man, and eagle are symbols to you and me of the things of heaven, not the other way around.

Through my own studies of the word and through teachers from various eras, I’ve come to understand that everything on earth points to Christ. He is all in all and our earthly purposes are enveloped in Him. And as we’ll see in the book of Revelation, Christ remains our theme.

Wrapping up this blog of what John sees first when he arrives in heaven, let’s finish up with what is revealed about Christ. The angels sing, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.”

The latter part of this statement is where our book of Revelation started, with Christ dictating the seven letters to John. He said, “from Him who is and who was and who is to come …” – Revelation 1:4.

Our revelation is this: He was. He is. And He is to come.

Eternal holiness.

Christ is God and is forever.

Thank you for taking this Revelation journey with me as together, Christ becomes further revealed in our hearts and minds. If you liked this blog, you might like my newest Bible Brief, available on amazon.

More to come!

Laurie

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