Revelation 5th Blog-The Energy-Enveloped Throne

I’ve been accused of being zealous for the end times. When I talk about heaven and how incredible it’s going to be to finally exist there, some folks have said I’m too heavenly minded to be any earthly good.

Hmph.

When speaking of the glories of heaven one day, a young man I work with told me that he didn’t pay much attention to prophecy because his parents’ generation and the generation before had expected the return of Christ and it didn’t happen. “It’ll happen when it happens,” he said. “It’s not for me to worry about.”

Can you hear my sigh through this page?

Scholars tell us that 27 percent of the Bible is prophetic in teaching. That’s a lot of Bible to not concern ourselves with! The Lord has much to say about the future because … (drawing a deep breath here) … it is the Hope of His glory.  

Let me say this in my own simple, simple way. Jesus died to save us from our sins because our sins have brought upon the judgement of God. The judgement verdict is a horrible wrath and the wrath of God will come upon the earth one and coming day. There’s an earthly time line, and this time line is set by the wisdom of our heavenly Father. It is prudent we know what He does and why. We are His children. I liken the look-the-other-way attitude to a family preparing to move to a mountain-top dream home in a community where everyone loves one another, has some interesting super powers (I know my description falls short here), and will serve a king who has ushered in a perfect government. But before they can move, there’s packing, purging, and training for mountain climbing. When the father of the family warns that a great storm approaches, do the children say, Forget the whole thing, or I’m happy in the preparation stage and so let’s just stay here?

No.

The children ask of the storm. The potential fall out. The time line until they can get to the dream location they’ve been promised.

Saved

The word saved in the Christian world has become watered down, meaning more of a prosperous and joyful life—saved from our own potential self-inflicted destruction. However, the word saved in the context of biblical writ means the most extreme and most passionate rescue of all time for all time. What we are saved from is the wrath of God or that storm coming upon the earth. And once we fully grasp this, I believe we’ll be more than appreciative of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. We’ll be on our faces in wholehearted, grateful worship.

But in being saved or rescued from God’s wrath, we are also granted a new position in eternal life—one that we shadow as believers here in our earthly realm.

Shadows are thin, flat representations of the substance they shadow. Our lives as children of God here on earth are mere shadows of what is to come when we dwell with Him in heaven–the mountain top community with a perfect government.

Why Prophecy Matters

This is why prophecy is so very important.

 1. Prophecy warns of God’s wrath, giving us a truthful perspective with the consequences of sin.

 2. Prophecy prepares us for what is to come. For the saved by grace soul, we’re given these prophecies to be prepared. God in his loving relationship never wants you to have to say, I didn’t see that coming.

3. Prophecy gives us a hopeful look into God’s eternal plans—the hope we are all to be hoping for. The hope that in right standing with God, we are not only rescued from horrors, but we have an incredible new life ahead of us.

There is so much more to come. When we only focus on the here and now, we can get caught up in our selfish desires and plans. I’ve been experiencing disappointment at what isn’t happening with my writing endeavors. Book sales, website traffic, and even feedback are sometimes slow to come (I am so grateful to those who interact and support my ramblings). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t write for the sales, but I do hope that the time and passion spent on writing yields fruit for the Lord. If I focused on the now, I could feel like I’m wasting my weekends which are about 90 percent devoted to study, research, and writing (I occasionally dust the house). But because of prophecy and Jesus’s parables, I know that what I do in the here and now has impact on eternity. How cool is that? When I don’t view my here-and-now life as all there is, I’m able to keep going without getting weary.

Have you been weary? Disappointed? Disheartened. Look up. We have a hopeful future and in that future, we are promised every tear will be wiped away and every wrong made right.

Why Revelation

And so we have the book of Revelation—a glorious comparison of earth and heaven. In chapters four through twenty-two, the scenes of earthly hell and heavenly glory switch back and forth, giving us a real look at God’s coming wrath while encouraging us with scenes of what takes place in magnificent heaven.

In Revelation Blog 1, we started with the purpose of John’s vision and his description of Christ. Now we’ve worked our way to chapter four and the scene of the throne room, before the first Seal Judgements are pronounced.

It is important to understand that this Book is divided into the three parts: the what has been, what is now, and what is to come. Here are the chapter breakdowns:

1. What has been (chapter 1)

2. What is now (chapters 2 and 3)

3. What is to come (chapters 4-22)

We’ll camp out in the beginning of chapter four of Revelation in the what-is-to-come parts for the rest of this blog. Once we get into the various judgements, things will clip along faster. But it is important to grasp the holiness of Christ as He is revealed in heaven.

In the last Revelation, blog number four, we discussed the possibility of John’s call up to heaven being a shadow of the rapture. (Psalm 27:5). This is a debatable theory, and you may want to do more research for your own conclusions.

But now that John’s been spiritually transported into heaven, we’re given further revelation of Christ—the first stated purpose of this last book of the Bible.

The Throne Room in Heaven

“Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven and One sitting on the throne.” – Revelation 4:2

John goes on to describe what he’s seeing. I love the way Robert J. Morgan interprets this scene in his book The 50 Final Events in World History :

“Everything in this passage centers on the throne of Almighty God. The word throne occurs thirty-eight times in Revelation and sixteen times in these two chapters! The subject of God’s heavenly throne is one of the most fascinating and thrilling subjects in Scriptures. God’s seat of power is described several times in the Bible, in places like Isaiah 6 and Ezekiel 1. The descriptions are consistent and enable us to visualize it to the extent we possibly can. …”

I can’t imagine being John and having to describe the glory surrounding our Maker. But John starts his description of God with: “And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance, and there was a rainbow around the throne like an emerald in appearance.” (Revelation 4:3)

In his book, Robert Morgan shares this insight:

 “The word jasper in this text doesn’t refer to the opaque stone known by that name today, but to a crystal that reflects light and sparkles with beauty. It’s most likely a reference a stone like a diamond with shards of ruby-red refractions, and around it a brilliant rainbow, which is the biblical symbol for mercy. The one seated on the throne is God the Father, the first person of the Trinity.”

The Apostle John mentions another stone when describing what he sees at the throne. That stone is sardius which is also known as sardine. It is fascinating to note that these stones are two of the twelve stones placed in the breastplate of the high priest who ministered in the temple. Only the high priest wore the breastplate embedded with twelve stones which represent the twelve tribes of Israel. The number twelve represents governance. The high priest, a foreshadow of our Christ in heaven ((Hebrews 2:17, 4:14 to 7:28, 9, 10), wore the breastplate of governance (twelve stones) and he alone performed the priestly duties required on Yom Kippur, the Day the Atonement.

Oh my goodness, there is so much decipher here. The small stones placed into the breastplate of the priest foreshadow the brilliance of Christ. But the stones in the breastplate are tiny, tiny in ratio to the expanse of sparkling stone around the throne. What else can this tell us of the heaven we are destined for? The beauty here is the tiniest reflection of the beauty there.

Can’t wait!

As well, the high priest was a foreshadow of Christ entering the temple on Yom Kippur and enacting the required duties. The high priest represented the only One who could atone for the sins of Israel. Today, our true High Priest Jesus Christ is the only atonement the Lord accepts on our behalf. Puts a new spin on Christ bearing our sins, doesn’t it? 

But let’s move on.

After John describes Almighty God with earthly words I feel must fall very short, John tells us that there were twenty-four additional thrones surrounding God. 

Most Bible experts believe the twenty-four elders seated upon these lesser thrones are the twelve patriarchs of Israel and the twelve apostles of Jesus. John does not identify them for us, but because of their proximity to the throne, we can surmise these elders hold positions of authority.

Next John describes the powerful energy surrounding the throne: “And from the throne proceed flashes of lighting and sounds and peals of thunder.”

Whoa.

Lightening and thunder represent power. When we are in the throne room of our Maker, we are in the presence of super-natural energy–a power we’ve barely glimpsed here on earth.

The Holy Spirit

And then we’re introduced to the Holy Spirit.

“And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”

Twice in Revelation, the Holy Spirit is shown to us as a configuration of lamps. As well, in Zechariah 4:2, Zechariah sees a single lamp with seven flames and this, most scholars believe, is the biblical symbol of the Holy Spirit, harmonizing with what John describes.

A Glass Sea and Foreign Creatures

In verse six, John goes on to tell us, ”there was, as it were a sea of glass, like crystal, and in the center, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. And the first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle.”

What is our apostle seeing here? Interestingly these symbols show up over and again in Scripture. In Revelation 15:2, John will describe the sea of glass again, but this time he tells us the sea is mixed with fire and upon it stands those who have been victorious against the coming beast (more on that in another blog). Whatever John is seeing here, his description brings to my mind brilliance and illumination. Because Jesus told us He came as the light (John 8), which is a symbol of truth, then I believe what John sees is truth animated or enlivened. John witnessed holiness and is trying his best to describe it.

Take Action

Why not read these verses in your favorite Bible version and mentally camp out in the throne room all week? In Revelation Blog 6, we’ll dive deeper into these fascinating creatures fluttering before the throne—who they are and their purpose.

Until then, you might consider my Bible Brief: God’s Will, Unraveling the Mystery. This brief takes a panoramic view of God’s earthly plans for mankind. The Bible briefs are short, but deep, giving us direction and purpose in these interesting times. Or, if you’re in the mood for a good, clean suspense fiction, try my Calculated Series available on Amazon.

Be brave,

Laurie (L.G.) Westlake

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A Holy Gathering

Acts 2:46-47

Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

I confess, I’ve had a bad attitude towards gatherings of various kinds for more reasons than Covid.

Considering my confession, would you believe that I owned a B&B, hosted more than 22 weddings in our event barn, and fed more than 3,000 people through catering and Taco Thursdays in one year? I did.

And I burned out, the last of any Christian tolerance fizzling like tiny sparks into the dark night. Matrimonial ceremonies with their masses of partying young adults wore me out physically and spiritually. After a couple of exceptionally hard nights—a  drunk bridesmaid locked in a bathroom stall for hours, a tight-dressed gal pole dancing on one of our barn’s cedar beams, a groomsman vomiting in my flower bed, and a bride passed out, head down in the middle of her glorious and holy wedding table—I became disgusted with humanity. 

My brother had lovingly hung a nine-foot rugged cross on the south wall of that wedding barn. I remember one night in pure frustration with the drunken mob, tears pooling, I stood beneath that cross apologizing to the Lord that we humans had obliterated the holiness of matrimony—the picture of Christ and His bride. My heart plummeted and I had a hard time pulling it back into place.

These incidents are not necessarily why I left the hospitality business—the Lord opened a door for me to return to ministry. But these discouraging episodes certainly made it easier to walk away from the business I’d worked so very hard to build.

But God, But Now

In the last four years I have served as manager of a communications team with a worldwide ministry. In this service, our team of communicators and marketers have overseen events and these gatherings have been the opposite of the weddings I left behind. Coming together for inspiration, at the ministry events, we hear from speakers who work in the fields of harvest. Brave men and women who have taken the narrow path report to us that the Lord is at work in the world, even when spiritual conditions around us look bleak. We worship together, pray together, and break bread together, testifying of God’s goodness and plans. At a recent event, we watched a documentary featuring a people group out of Zambia who have experienced miraculous transformation after receiving God’s Word in the language and audible format that speaks to their culture. We cried jubilant tears, rejoiced with laughter, and celebrated what our Father is doing through us—His children—here on earth.

From a perch of observation at a back table, I heard how the Potter’s hands mold individual for vessels of glory. I watched the people love each other. I ate with friends. I took in nourishment for my soul.

And I remembered Acts 2:46-47.

This is church, I whispered.

The Gathering

Church is not about the steepled building on the corner or the meeting space in a hip downtown theater. Church is not about the excellent speaker or teacher or skinny-jeaned pastor. Church is not a nine-to-five business, conveniently opened on Sundays.

Church is so much more than any of these things.

Church, I’ve come to believe, is about gathering as family—anytime, anyplace. Yes, family gatherings can be dysfunctional and messy. Who hasn’t had a wild holiday experience when uncle Bob showed up drunk or cousin Eddie arrived in his broken-down RV? But because the blood we share belongs to Christ, we gather. We commune as one body despite the messiness of it all.

Perhaps the messy part has been the spiritual enemy’s attempt to keep us apart.

Or in straight-back pews facing forward instead of facing each other.

In the Scripture at the top of the page, we’re told that when we’re together with one mind, praising and breaking bread together (gathered around a table), Christ adds to our numbers.

Which is the point.

From the garden of Eden to the command to go into every nation and disciple, our purpose has been to add to our family numbers and glorify the Lord. When we bring Him glory, He grants us the fruit of our labors—new believers.

So I’m getting back to the basics of church—gathering with others and praising God.

Will you join me? On October 9th, 2022, at Milagro Farms in Forreston, Texas at the very place where I stood beneath that cross and cried, an army of women will gather and glorify the Lord. How ironic! How so like our Savior!

We will hear testimony, teachings, break bread together and pray. We will demonstrate to the powers of darkness that we, no matter the costs, will always come together in holy celebration.

Are you in?

Here’s the link to register.

Let’s not allow the enemy keep apart what God has joined together. Come and share fellowship with your sisters in Christ.

Book 2 of the Calculated Series

Revelation 4th Blog, all caught up.

In my last writing, Revelation Blog 3, Christ and the Body, we covered the seven revealing letters to the seven churches. I find it fascinating that while John served as a scribe for Christ’s letters, those words were penned with our current-day challenges in mind. It’s true that throughout church history Christians of the past have faced common challenges, but if the theologians who believe each of the churches named in Revelation also represents a different time in history, then at least two of letters (written to literal churches then) are prophecies of our churches today and in the future.

Mind blowing stuff here.

But as we move into the dramatic scenes of heaven and future events, I encourage all of us to keep in mind the purpose of these visions and events in this dynamic book: the revelation of Christ. 

The opening sentence in the book of Revelation is what we are to push every wild detail of this book through. Revelation 1:1 holds the key to interpretation and purpose. “The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place …”

There you have it. This is why this awe-inspiring book exists–so we bond servants can see Christ revealed and know the future.

Please take note of the word must. The use of the word must means the events we learn about in Revelation are not optional. They have purpose in driving God’s world plans forward with Christ on the throne. The events seen by John must take place. For me, this wraps up literal translation. If one of the two purposes of writing revelation is to show us what must take place. Then the events spoken of must be real.

Please, also, take note of the word shortly. The text does not say “far into the future,” or “at a time that doesn’t involve you.” Shortly is placed into this text for a purpose and I believe that purpose is so we will not be surprised when social and physical upheaval arise. Like we’re seeing in plain sight now.

There are scholars who say that every prophecy concerning the end times is in play in some form now. This could mean events are lining up for the Ezekiel 38 and 39 prophesied war and The Great Tribulation.

We shall see.

 But let’s get back to John on the island of Patmos and His heavenly encounters.

Come Up Here

After John wraps up the letters to the churches (I can see him packing those parchments into an old leather satchel at his side), I assume he glances over and up to see if Christ, who had been speaking to him, is ascending back to heaven as John had seen him do some 40 or 45 years earlier.

But John doesn’t see Christ ascending. He sees a door standing open in heaven.

Imagine John’s moment here! He glances up to the heavens and there is an open portal (looking like an open door) into the longed-for realm Christ spoke of in the earlier days– the kingdom of heaven is like … a man who casts a seed, a treasure hidden in a field, a mustard seed, a dragnet cast into the sea. The dimension where the real heaven exists just opened up for him.

I bet John’s jaw took a dive.

And then … that trumpet voice we talked about in a previous Revelation Blog, calls out to John. “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.”

Not only has John seen a supernatural portal, but our brother John, approximately 80 years old and imprisoned, has just been invited to go through that portal.

Amazing.

I’d like to take a stop here and talk about the possibility of this supernatural act not only literally happening to John, but about the idea this could be an indicator of prophesied events. When the voice said, “…and I will show you what must take place after these things,” the after these things were world and heavenly events after the letters to the churches and if one application of the letters is an outline of church history, then Christ clearly is about to show John what must take place after the church age.

Which would mean there is no earthly church in the future of which John is about to see.

Where am I going with this?

Rapture.

In1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul writes of Christ’s calling the church (his earthly body accomplishing Great Commission work on earth) into heaven. He describes this supernatural event as starting with a shout and blast of a trumpet. What John experiences here in Revelation could well be what Paul described in his earlier letters. While I try to keep an open mind about the timing of the rapture, I do lean toward the pretribulation interpretation for more reasons than this scene. But it’s fascinating to me that the church is no longer mentioned after the seven letters. In the remaining passages of Revelation, the focus shifts from the church to the nation of Israel. Could it be because the church is no longer on earth, but in the wedding chamber with her Groom, Jesus Christ?

It’s certainly a possibility.

More Support for PreTrib Rapture

There are a couple of other passages that have had an influence on my leanings. Zephaniah 2:3 says, “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth who have practiced His ordinances; seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will remain hidden on the day of the Lord’s anger.”

According to Zephaniah, there is a chance the righteous can be hidden during the day of the Lord’s anger.

Throughout Scripture, the terms the day of the Lord, Jacob’s trouble, the day of wrath, the day of trouble are all used to label a specific day or period of time of God’s wrath poured out on humanity in the culmination of His worldwide plans. The above Scripture hints that the there could be a hiding place for the righteous during this time.

In Psalm 27:5, the faithful of the day were given this promise that I believe applies to you and me as well. “For on the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; He will hide me in the secret place of His tent; He will lift me up on a rock.”

Again, here, the psalmist alludes to being hidden during a specific time of trouble coming upon the world.

And of course, found in the letter to the church of Philadelphia that Christ dictated to John, there is a promise that this church would be kept from the hour of testings. Here’s what Christ dictated to John, “Because you have kept the Word of my perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world to test those who dwell upon the earth.” – Revelation 3:10

Why is this the only church given this specific promise? If you go back and read the Revelation 3rd blog, you’ll see many scholars believe that while these letters were written to literal churches, these churches also represent different church eras throughout history. If this is true, then we are living in the era that the church of Philadelphia represents. This church is kept from the hour of trial coming to the whole earth.

Finally, many believe that the story of Noah is a precursor to pretribulation rapture. Noah as a righteous man, was removed and hidden away in the arc during the massive worldwide flood–the judgement upon the evils of earth at the time.

More Ponderings

Regardless of the timing, we have the privilege of seeing Christ revealed through John’s writings. What we learn is that Christ is all in all—while the church is on earth, He stands in our midst. He’s dictated letters to us, then goes on to open a portal into the heavens so we have the full story—the full revelation of the coming days.

Why?

I’ll leave you with this scriptural insight:

Isaiah 46:9-10 – Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My plan will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.’

John 13:19 – From now on I am telling you before it happens, so that when it does happen, you may believe that I am He.

There’s more to come as we enter into the throne room of heaven with the apostle John.

Until next time you might try our latest Bible Study, God’s Will, Unraveling the Mystery.

Laurie (L G Westlake)

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Revelation 3rd Blog: Christ and the Body

In our last blog, Revelation Blog 2, Second Things, we discussed my favored method to interpret Revelation—through a lens of literal meaning. Even though some of the imagery in Revelation has been historically outside our limited imagination, as time speeds toward the culmination of God’s worldwide plans, we are able to understand Scriptures which ten years ago, blew our ability to visualize right out our prophetic windows.

But with the onset of a worldwide pandemic along with calls for one-world government, talk of no-cash-electronic financial systems, and upticks in religious persecution, some of the biblical statements that seemed far fetched a few years ago are suddenly imaginable.

As well, the last blog discussed how more than 300 prophetic verses about the return of Christ in the Old Testament have been literally fulfilled. This sets an important literal precedent in interpretation and expectation of prophetic completion.

Now we will move to the opening scene of John’s vision on Patmos, Christ the King standing among His churches. Because this is a blog and not a book, we’ll hit the main points of the seven letters written to the seven churches. But I encourage you to look deeply into these letters and discover revelation for yourself because, as we said in Revelation Blog 1, First Things First, you are already equipped with everything you need to understand the important message the Lord sends through this last and illuminating book of the Bible.

One of my favorite Bible teachers is Jack Kelley, a man who wrote biblical commentaries from His website, Grace Thru Faith. Jack went to dwell with the Lord in heaven in 2015. But in his study of Revelation, he explained that there are four levels of application within the church letters. While I’m not one-hundred percent supportive of all four interpretations, his view is certainly interesting to ponder. Here are the four applications he suggests we apply to these seven letters.

  1. Historical—these seven churches existed in modern day Turkey and were experiencing challenges.
  2. Corporately Admonitory—because all seven letters were to read all seven churches, the letters were warnings to all.
  3. Personal Call to Action—each letter holds a call to action and a promise to the individuals within the church who heed the warnings.
  4. Church History—read in the order in which they appear, the churches could outline earth’s church history.

Here is the outline of fourth interpretation, church history:

  • Ephesus: Apostolic or New Testament first churches
  • Smyrna: Second and third century church (suffered extreme persecution)
  • Pergamum: The State church beginning with Constantine
  • Thyatira: The rise of the Roman Catholic Church
  • Sardis: Mainline Protestants beginning in the 16th century
  • Philadelphia: Mission church beginning with William Carey (late 1700s; early 1800s)
  • Laodicea-One world church during pretribulation and into The Great Tribulation

While there is debate about the church history interpretation, I do agree with Jack Kelley and others who believe the admonishments were meant to bring our own shortcomings to light. The criticisms found in each letter were to be taken personally, not just corporately.

What I find fascinating about these letters is that in each, Christ refers to himself in a different title, and in each, there is a different promise for the one who overcomes or perseveres. But I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s a couple of important notes in the dictated prologue of the letters. If Revelation was written to reveal, then we need to stop along the way and question the meaning.

The greetings from John to the church on the behalf of Christ are beautiful. I like to read through this portion imagining that I’ve received this letter and am reading it for the first time. We’re told that the letter is from John and Jesus and Jesus is referred to as “the faithful witness, the first born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of earth.

Like the vision of Christ in the royal white robe, eyes ablaze, we’re given another revelation of our Savior here. We are told He is the faithful witness. This, as you probably understand, is a description of a person defending some one or thing. A faithful witness is someone who can be trusted to give an honest testimony. Wow. We’re being told that when the accuser stands before the Lord and vomits out all the sinful acts your and I have committed, it is Christ who will walk up to the court and pronounce us sinless.

Whoa.

When Christ is referred to as the “first born of the dead,” I’m reminded that it was his resurrection that made the way for my resurrection. He is first and because He paved the way, I am among those who will rise after.

And then, the third title of our Christ in this letter written to the churches, Christ is called the ruler of the kings of the earth. This for me, is the ultimate revelation because we’re shown through world history that God has, all along, planned to rule His creation. What we didn’t realize in the Garden of Eden, is that God would become man, sacrifice himself, and rule after He conquered His own curse: death. But looking through the rearview mirror, we see where the shadows of what was to come cast glimpses of the plan. Our Bible Study God’s Will: Unraveling the Mystery will take you on a journey of God’s will from Eden to today and how you fit into the master plan. I encourage you to check it out!

Multiple Titles

But back to our letters. At the beginning of each letter, Christ refers to himself as yet another holy title, further amplifying the revelation of all He is. At the close of each letter is a different promise for those who heed the words. These promises are a continuation of who our King Jesus is: the Giver of every good and perfect gift.

Here are the Titles along with the promises:

  • Ephesus – Christ’s title: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lamp stands. Christ’s gift: To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.
  • Smyrna – Christ’s title: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life. Christ’s gift: He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.
  • Pergamum – Christ’s title: The One who has the sharp two-edged sword. Christ’s gift: To him that overcomes, to him I will give some hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.
  • Thyatira – Christ’s title: The Son of God who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are burnished bronze. Christ’s gift: And He who overcomes and keeps My deeds until the end, to Him will give authority over the nations.
  • Sardis – Christ’s title: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars. Christ’s gift: He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the Lamb’s Book of Life, and I will confess His name before My Father and before His angels.
  • Philadelphia – Christ’s title: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut and who shuts and no one will open. Christ’s gift: He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it any more and I will write upon him the name of My God.
  • Laodicea – Christ’s title: The Amen, the faithful, and true Witness and the Beginning of the creation of God. Christ’s gift: He who overcomes, I will grant him to sit down with Me on My throne as I also overcome and sat down with My Father.

Ears to Hear

Another interesting point the letters have in common is Christ’s closing salutation. He uses the phrase, “He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches,” in all seven letters. I am assuming that you, like me, have an ear. Probably a couple of them. Therefore, we are called to hear/read what the Spirit says to the churches. Each admonition is something we need to heed in our own corporate, but also private spiritual lives.

I’ll leave it to you to read through the seven admonitions in the context of each church. But here’s a bulleted list for us to refer to:

  • You’ve left your first love
  • You believe you are poor but you are rich
  • You’ve allowed false teachings to slip inside
  • You’ve allowed a false prophet into leadership
  • You are dead and the entire church is at risk of death
  • No one can shut the open door I’ve put before you
  • You are a lukewarm church

How do each of these warnings/admonitions apply to each of as individuals? I see these as harmonious to the warnings that Christ gave his disciples years earlier: In Matthew 24, when the disciples asked Christ for signs of His coming, the first thing he said was “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying , ‘I am the Christ, and mislead many.'”

From the admonitions in the list above, I can say Christ warned of what has happened and is happening. False teaching and false prophets abound.

Keeping the Purpose–the Revelation of Christ

I have a challenge: Since Revelation was written as “The Revelation of Jesus Christ,” I encourage you to take each of the titles Christ calls himself and write out what that tells you, personally, about your kind in heaven. He’s revealing Himself. Go ahead, get to know Him.

That’s all for today, but watch for the next Revelation blog: Revelation 4, What Must Take Place:

If I perish, I perish,

Laurie

L. G.’s Fiction series
A gathering of spiritual women, Forreston, Texas (south of Dallas). Register here.

What is a Woman? my answer, less than serious.

I try not to take myself too seriously. But when the question, What is a woman? kept bouncing up in my newsfeeds, I began to wonder if this is a universal mystery I should take a deeper look into. After all, Supreme Court Justice Ketanji B. Jackson couldn’t answer the question because, as she stated in her senate confirmation hearings, “I’m not a biologist.”

I’m not a biologist either. Does it indeed take an advanced degree in this field of science to be able to know what a woman is? I scratched my head, wondering if all my life, I’d been wrong about … well … what I am.

And when right-wing commentator Matt Walsh produced a provocative and worldwide-distributed documentary asking the same question, I pondered that of all the things I do not know, surely this is something I should know. I mean, for 30 something years, I’ve been called a woman.

Maybe I’m not.

I decided to reach back into the cobb-webbed recesses of my memories and search for that elusive moment when I understood I was a woman. When had I, without a science degree or advanced studies into societal behaviors determined I was a woman?

It took some time, and some scrolling back through my high school yearbooks, but I came to the conclusion that it was not my parents that set the course of my being called woman. No, they called me Laurie, or Hey There, but never woman. My brothers called me Fat Laurie, but never once did they yell out woman when I tattled on them. My womanhood wasn’t established in science class, either. True we studied the human’s skeleton and major organs, but I don’t think we ever had a compelling discussion on what defines a woman. In junior high back then, such topics were inappropriate.

And so, after days of toil, I’ve determined my initial identity of being a woman came from the songstress Helen Reddy. In 1971 at the tender age of 12, I heard the powerful, revealing words Reddy sang when she released her mega hit single, I am Woman. And I, premenstrual and raging with hormones, identified.

Here’s what Reddy sang:

I am woman, hear me roar in numbers too big to ignore and I know too much to go back and pretend. ‘Cause I’ve heard it all before, and I’ve been down there on the floor, no one’s every gonna keep me down again. Oh yes, I am wise, but it’s wisdom born of pain, and yes I’ve paid the price, but look how much I’ve gained. If I have to, I can do anything. I am strong. I am invincible. I am woman.

And there you have it.

So what is all the fuss about?

Reddy clears it up nice, I think.

But surely I hadn’t pinned my identity on just one song of the seventies.

I remembered others. I’m Every Woman by Chaka Khan, released in ’78. I was 19 and all about control. Here’s what Chaka had to say: I’m every woman, it’s all in me. Anything you want done, baby, I’ll do it naturally … I can read your thoughts right now, every one from A to Z … but anytime you feel danger or fear, instantly I will appear ….

Oh, those bold women singing through the infancy of women’s liberations. According to these libbers, when a woman gets knocked down, she gets back up. A woman gains wisdom from the hard knocks of life. A woman can discern thoughts. A woman is always there with a helping hand.

Oh yeah. Here … here is where woman is defined. And I grabbed the title!

Having two brothers growing up, it was likely long before Helen Reddy that I realized I had tools no male possessed. And to be fair, visa-versa. But while my brothers wrestled and played ball through the preteen years, I sat up commerce on my bedroom floor. True, I was playing homemaker with Barbies and paper dolls, but in the households I built, who do you think was running the family business and buying sports cars?  

Me.

I am woman!

The Truth

I know there are some gray areas I’m not covering or, honestly, understand. In all my simplicity, I simply wish to establish whether or not I am, actually, a woman.

So I go to my absolute source of all truth: God’s Word.

In the creation account found in Genesis, we read that God made man but quickly determined it was not good for man to be alone. This is when He put Adam into a deep sleep, removed a rib, and fashioned woman. He called the woman He made man’s ezer. Ezer is Hebrew word English speakers have translated to helper.

But in the original Hebrew, the word has distinct meaning beyond the general term helper. The Hebrew noun ezer is used multiple times in the Hebrew Old Testament giving us an idea of what God meant when he deemed Eve an ezer. Two times this word is used in reference to the woman made in the garden of Eden. The other times refer to someone helping in life-threatening situations. But the majority of times ezer is used, it is in reference to God being Israel’s strong helper. These biblical texts speak of a vital and powerful help—a gate keeper. When God made woman, he made a helpmate to stand guard for man. Obviously, this guarding isn’t intended to mean physical protection as men are made to be physically stronger. But the meaning points to a spiritual protection, a wisdom.

This is what I am. I’m an ezer–a protector, a discerner, a symbol of the Bride of Christ. I am woman.

Suddenly Helen Reddy’s song rings true, right?

I love being a woman. I am a woman. And I don’t need a degree in biology to determine this. Just ask my husband. 😊 Just ask Helen.

Sing it with me: I am woooomann!

Standing for Truth,

Laurie

Revelation 2cd Blog, Christ Revealed

In my previous blog, Revelation, First Things First, we explored the truth that both you and I are fully equipped to draw meaning and revelation from the book of Revelation. Considering we have the Holy Spirit, we can expect that when we encounter hard-to-understand passages, the Holy Spirit, through time and study, will open our eyes to fresh insight. We also determined that the Lord purposefully communicates, and that His communications are infallible. In other words, as it is written, so it should be understood. When approaching the Word of God, we should trust that the words written are for us to understand and continue to seek clarity and meaning.

I know, I know—it’s easier said than done.

But, as I mentioned in the previous Revelation blog, the book The 50 Final Events in World History by Robert J. Morgan, has given me great encouragement in studying Revelation. Here’s why Morgan spurs us to dive into Revelation:

My goal is to demystify the book of Revelation for you. I’ve examined this remarkable book for fifty years and taught through it many times. I’ve concluded that the simplest way to understand Revelation is to take it as literally as possible and as sequentially as possible. Using this approach, I think I can help anyone understand its content.

The last book of the Bible is not named Obscurity or Puzzlement or Ambiguity. It’s called the Revelation, for God wants to reveal His future to His children. This is the ultimate consummation for which all the Bible was given and toward which all history is moving. It is the glorious hope for which every child of God is waiting.”

Here’s another urgent-spurring statement from Morgan:

            “This is why I love the book of Revelation. It’s about Jesus and it’s about tomorrow, which is right on schedule. It cannot be rushed or delayed, and it will arrive on time whether we’re ready or not.”

I agree with Morgan that the best way to interpret the book of Revelation is through a literal lens. While there is definite imagery for our earthly eyes that represents a specific truth in heaven, we can trust many of the apocalyptic scenes are literal events in heaven and literal, coming days on earth. Because the Bible interprets the Bible, we already have a historic pattern of interpretation to draw upon. In the Old Testament, before Jesus’s first coming, more than 300 prophecies were literally fulfilled. We can and should expect the same from the prophecies about His second coming.

History Speaks

From the Word of God, we also learn that much of what we see in the physical realm is a mere shadow of the real substance existing in heaven. From the beginning of our physical existence described in Genesis, we’re told that we are made in the likeness of God. Our physical, emotional, and spiritual beings are replicas of our Maker.

And the representation is just getting started from there.

The “On Earth as it is in Heaven” Symbolism

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul explains the symbolic relationship between earth and heaven. Second Corinthians 4:18 says: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Like a thin shadow, our world is temporary and a replica of the real deal which exists in heaven.

Christ further points out the reality that the things of earth are shadowy illustrations of the truths of heaven. Time and again He stated, “The kingdom of heaven is like … a field, a farmer, a treasure, a mustard seed….”

Each of the seven attributes found in the book of John are shadows of who our Christ is: The Light, The Good Shepherd, The Door, The Life, The Bread, The Resurrection, The Vine. Every one of these objects or actions was created to show us something about our Savior. While there are mysteries surrounding God’s plans and ways, we are given clear indicators of His nature and His existence through our physical world. He exists in the place called heaven. And through parables and metaphors, we are told what heaven is like.

(To unravel the mystery of God’s will for your life and mine, try our Bible Brief: God’s Will, Unraveling the Mystery.)

Earth is shadow of heaven. Except for the sin part that has radically stunted our growth.

It’s always baffled me how/why people have thought of heaven as a place of wispy clouds, white-robbed choirs, and angelic harp music, although those things must exist there. But when John wrote Revelation, he was caught up to heaven and there saw a magnificent throne, a slain lamb, a fruitful tree, a flowing river, and beings that look similar to you and me – with arms and legs and outfits made of earthly-type materials, including linen and bronze.

So … if things in heaven have the same shape of things here, and things there existed before the things here, we can come to understand that we live on a planet that was made to resemble heaven. Not the other way around.

So as we take on the book of Revelation, we should keep this truth close.

In Revelation, the images described should also be somewhat recognizable to us because we’ve been living the mirror image of it.                                                                                                                 .

The Beginning of Revelation

While praying on the prison island of Patmos, John’s prayer is interrupted with a loud voice that he likens to a trumpet. It’s true, you and I do not have voices like trumpets, although I had a cousin who snorted like one. But we’ve all heard a trumpet and therefore can relate to the distinct sound. When blown, a trumpet emits warm brass tones that can vibrate in your chest. Though deep and earthy, certain trumpet tones can sweep you along like a majestic breeze lifting you high and onto another plain.

Trumpets are also found in Scripture in both heavenly and earthly scenes. In biblical times on earth, trumpets (and/or rams’ horns/shofars) were often used to summon the people to gather or to herald an event or feast.

But these deep-toned horns were also used in battle. With the conquering of Jericho, the Israelites obeyed God’s command to blow the trumpets and shout. You know what happened. The walls fell and Israel took victory over Jericho.

Through the use of trumpets and our familiarity with them, we can conclude that the trumpet was made (instructed by God in Leviticus) to give God’s earthly children an idea of Christ’s heavenly voice—the voice that created the heavens and the earth, the voice that conquers cities, the voice that calls us to a feast of celebration–the voice John heard on Patmos.

One of the more interesting trumpet blasts written about in the Word is one that has yet to happen. See what Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica:

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who remain, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore, comfort one another with these words. – First Thessalonians 4:16-17.

Keeping our Scriptures in context, this passage from 1 Thessalonians is taken from a section of Paul’s letter that speaks of the rapture of the church. He seems to be straightening out some confusion about this event within the body of believers there. I love that Paul exhorts us to comfort each other with the words. For far too long, the rapture has been branded a strange and unusual metaphysical event that was hard to explain and so often glossed over, adding to the confusion. But if we know the Word, and allow the Word to interpret the Word, we find other instances of rapture in the Bible. Both Enoch and Elijah experienced a form of rapture, being taken to heaven without going through the death/decay process of the body. Because we can’t explain it, or have come to believe that we can’t explain it, we create a mystery around the rapture, passing incomplete theology down to our next generation. Many humans have come to believe that God and science are separate. But, God is science. He created energy and all forms of matter, and like all aspects of the earth, these molecules and particles obey when God speaks. He spoke the world’s molecules into existence. He can certainly rearrange them as well. The idea that humans can instantly transform from a decaying body into a glorious body made for heaven is no stranger that Christ rising from the dead.

More on Science

This thing called science–the systematic study of the structure and behavior of our physical and natural world–is actually the study of God. The fact that the some of the supposed great scientist of the world have deemed there to be no God, for me, is like not seeing the grand acres of forest because I can’t take my eyes off the tree bark at eye level. Scientist who don’t believe in a Creator are staring at the bark.

I don’t get it. The rapture is to be such a wonderful and anticipated event, we’re to comfort each other with words about it.

But we need to move on to the picture of the glorified Christ, the reason the book of Revelation was written.

The Revealed Christ

When John turns to see from whom the trumpet voice comes, he sees the new and final revelation of Christ, the Son of God. Boom! Right there. Right up front, John is given the glorious opportunity to see Christ in full glory and he’s been instructed to write all that he sees. I think of Daniel and how the angel who showed him the same future events John sees, told Daniel to seal up the vision until the right time.

John on Patmos was the right time.

You and me reading Revelation is the right time.

But this Christ John sees is unlike the unassuming human that came to earth and was crucified. Here, in His new transformed state, Christ is clothed in an elaborate robe with a golden girdle. His hair is white, and his eyes burn like a flame. In his right hand, he holds seven stars; and out of his mouth comes a two-edged sword.

As awesome and out of our league as this sounds, our heavenly king is presented with and within familiar contexts. The robe, girdle, and sword are all objects we’ve seen—objects created to give us a sense of understanding about our Christ. Throughout the Bible, a robe represents a priest or position of honor (Esther 6:7-9; Leviticus 8:7). The girdle is a symbol of strength and power (Job 12:18; Isaiah 22:21). And the sword represents truth (Hebrews 4:12; Isaiah 31:8).

Our Risen Christ is an extraordinary deity/human creature we worship but also relate to.

In the Lord’s infallible communication through John’s vision, Christ goes on to graciously explain the objects in the vision that may cause question. We’ve likely never seen a man hold stars in his hands before. So we get an interpretation straight from our Creator’s mouth. Jesus explains the mystery:

“Write therefore the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall take place after these things. As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands; the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.” – Revelation 1:19-20

Here we go. First scene of John’s vision is Christ and the veil of mystique is lifted. We’re shown and told plainly who our Christ is, where He is, and what He’s got in His all-powerful hands. The angels may be actual spiritual being who oversee these churches, or as some commentators explain, the angels could be symbolic for the church leaders. Since I lean literal, I believe these are angelic being that are appointed to guard the churches.

What We Know So Far

We’re just getting into Revelation and already we’ve been given a look at Christ as King of heaven. While we’ve never seen anyone who perfectly reflects this magnificent image, we are so very familiar with the items in the description, we can immediately understand what’s being revealed:

  • Christ is our honorable high priest
  • He is all power and strength
  • He is the truth
  • He stands among the earthly churches—He is in their midst
  • He holds the angels of the churches in his right hand—He is in control

If there has been any question to Christ’s authority, it’s all taken care of in the opening revelation of the book written to reveal … well … Him.

Next Up

From this point in John’s vision, Christ dictates letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor. I’ve read several opinions of the why behind these seven letters but if read in the light of literal interpretation, I’ve come to a fairly simple conclusion of application.

But that’s another blog you can read in the next Revelation Blog — Number 3.

I would like to end today’s blog with another quote from Robert J. Morgan’s book, The 50
Final Events in World History.

“In these last days, when breaking news hits us at the speed of light, it’s vital to understand scriptural prophecy and to have a firm grasp on the Bible’s last words about earth’s final days. As no prior generation, we need to understand the contents of the book of Revelation, which opens with these words: The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place (1:1).” 

Good stuff to come and if I perish, I perish,

Laurie (L. G. Westlake)

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READ THE NEXT REVELATION BLOG

Revelation: First Things First

When was the last time you perused the biblical book of Revelation? Have you taken a recent stroll back through your favorite and highlighted verses? Revisited the riveting imagery? The details? The inspiration?

It’s probably one of your favorite and oft-quoted books of the Bible, right?

Not.

At least not for me.

Seriously. I can’t read this apocalyptic book and keep a firm grasp on reality at the same time. It’s like getting lost in a foreign sci-fi movie without subtitles. I can’t figure out what’s going on here!

But because Revelation is the only book in the Bible that promises a blessing for those who regard it, I keep going back into the pages of heavenly and horrifying images. Though I don’t comprehend it all, I know the words were written on purpose, with purpose, and with a message our Maker desired we understand.

The Good News

I have encouraging news. I’ve found a source that has given me the needed fresh eyes with which to look at the important and culminating prophetic message of Revelation. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent years trying to decipher the prophecies or maybe it’s because the Holy Spirit is opening our eyes and minds to the depths of God in these troubling days. But either way, Robert J. Morgan’s The 50 Final Events in World History has unlocked for me some of the puzzling passages and timelines of this last book John the Apostle penned. I recommend The 50 Final Events in World History to all who are even mildly curious about the book of Revelation.

I want to give Mr. Morgan full credit for his excellent work, but I also want to share with you my thoughts as I’m learning. If you aren’t able to purchase the book or can’t wait to dive into some fresh revelation, I’ll be writing a few blogs about my own epiphanies.

My First Highlight was a Doozie

The first statement I highlighted in my e-version of Mr. Morgan’s book is this: “The Intelligent Creator is an Infallible Communicator, and He has packed His Word with remarkable predictions like a woman packing remnants into her quilting chest.”

Granted the metaphor of quilts in a chest doesn’t resonate with me, but the truth of the statement is something I needed to wrap my head around. Historically, I would study or read through Revelation expecting to be perplexed, and often exhausted by chapter eight and the seventh seal. I knew so darn little about these passages and it seemed the typical women’s Bible studies and Sunday preachers found it hard to tackle. There’s also a lot of historical debate on how to decipher the book—scholars argue between literal or figurative interpretations. My point is that I expected to not understand much so I’d go through the book satisfied with the few morsels I gleaned here and there (Jesus now has a full white beard, The Great Tribulation is going to be horrifying, Antichrist loses in the end … ). I never expected God to reveal boat loads of understanding into my heart and mind.

You get out of Scripture what you go in looking for. Enter into a passage expecting trouble and you’ll probably find it. Go into the Word expecting to be blessed and you’ll likely find the blessing you seek.

But Robert Morgan’s statement about the Infallible Communicator caught my attention.

Infallible Communicator.

This means everything that is written in the entire Bible, including the last book, is perfect and without blemish. Every word, every scene is communicating something of great importance to the reader and hearer. And because we are like sheep who know our Shepherd’s voice, we should be able to take in the Revelation with peace, trust, and even joy when we encounter the grace parts.

God’s angel did not instruct the Apostle John to write the book of Revelation to draw us into dark corners. The sent angel instructed John to write the book for the purpose of shedding new light onto Christ. At the time John was banished to Patmos, the complete revelation of Christ’s personage, deity, and future reign had yet to be revealed. All that changed on that fateful day on the prison isle.

What amazing moments or even hours this must have been for our brother John. In his early years, he’d not only seen Christ in flesh form, but he’d walked with him, eaten with him, shared hardships and joys with our Savior.

Now on the island, the other disciples martyred for their faith, John is given a look into holy heaven, the coming days of God’s wrath, and Christ’s victory over not just death, but all evil. God sent an angel to give the rest of the story to John so that we, the body of Christ, could know our king and coming groom fully.

That makes the digesting of the book of Revelation a must for every Believer.

The Reason is Stated

There’s no doubt about the reason for this final book of the Word. John’s opening statement is clear: This book is written for further revelation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Here is Revelation 1:1-2

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave Him to show His bondservants [you and me], the things which must shortly take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond servant, John who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.”

Got it? This book was not written to confound you or scare you. It was written to reveal more about our Christ.

And if you’re looking to learn more about what the Lord is currently doing in the world and why, try my new Bible Brief: God’s Will, Unraveling the Mystery.

Back to Infallible Communicator

Getting back to my first highlight in The 50 Final Events in World History, I realized that my ability to understand the book of Revelation was not dependent upon my own capabilities, but upon God’s ability to communicate. As Morgan referred to God as the Infallible Communicator, I realized I had every tool I needed to understand and accept the last words of the Bible. After all, there were many verses I’d used in teaching over the years that underscored this truth. These verses include one of my favorites: 1 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man or woman of God may be fully capable, equipped for every good work.”

The words “all Scripture” include the words of Revelation.

As well, I was quickened to remember that according to our scribe John, it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to teach and guide us. In John 14:26 we read, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I said to you.” We can trust that God’s communications are perfect and that the Holy Spirit will guide the reader/hearer into understanding these perfect communications despite our human limitations. Our ability to experience revelation from God doesn’t therefore depend upon our education, our theological backgrounds, our ability to exposit, or our linguistic skills in Hebrew and Greek. Our hearing from God depends on His ability to speak and the Holy Spirit’s ability to reveal. The three-in-one trinity is able.

Now, instead of approaching the book with a heavy sigh, I approach Revelation with great expectation.

Who knew I’d get so much out of just one sentence in someone else’s book? Obvious, the Lord has chosen this time and this teacher, Robert J Morgan, to open my eyes to the fulfillment of Christ’s plans for mankind which includes you and me. I’m well into the book and well into my new study of Revelation and I am itching to share more. And I will. But after I have more time to digest, and support my conclusions with other Scripture.

But you go ahead—read through Revelation again expecting the Holy Spirit to illuminate truth and expecting to understand the message the Father has given you.

Until the next blog here … expect to experience God’s fresh revelation.

If I perish, I perish,

Laurie (L.G. Westlake)

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Are We Safe?

I recently wrote Amazon about a problem with a customer review. The pleasant response email from the customer-service rep ended with the closing salutation, “Stay Safe.”

I read the line a couple of times, brows burrowing into my forehead. Stay safe? Considering traditional salutations focus on sentiments of well wishing (Blessings, Best Regards) or pronouncements of sincerity (Truly Yours, Respectfully—and for the Christian: In Christ, For Christ, etc.), I found this closing acknowledgement to be more of a warning than a declaration of how the writer wished me to understand the authenticity of his/her email.

Perhaps my pause came about because I’d had another interesting encounter with the warning about safety. In a discussion about career goals with a young adult, this up-and-comer’s top concern about his career workspace was safety. He kept our hour-long conversation focused on the importance of employers keeping their employees safe. And this guy worked a cushy office gig.

Multiple times in the last few years, I’ve found myself in conversations with young adults expressing safety concerns and their fears that some in my generation do not take safety–at all levels and in all situations– seriously.

The Why

A quick search on google and you’ll find plenty of articles about millennials and their safety concerns. I found this quote from a blog on Columbia Southern University’s website to be enlightening: In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, millennials reported that personal safety is a leading cause of stress in the workplace, and they are more concerned about personal safety than any other generation in the workplace.  

Why?

Because, the blog goes on to explain, “While it might be a point of pride for a Gen Xer to remember the days of riding bicycles without helmets or spending entire days out of their parents’ sight, millennials had significantly less freedom during their formative years. To them, taking safety precautions is simply a fact of life, something they have done since they first learned to ride a bike while wearing a helmet.

You can read the entire article from the university here.

While I’m only quoting this single source in this blog, please trust that my research revealed that we Boomers and Gen Xers have culturally conditioned the younger generation to regard safety as a virtue.

Drop a worldwide pandemic into the mix, and we’ve created a generation of fear.

Add racial tensions, high crime rates, and wars and rumors of wars and we have potential for mass hysteria knocking at our proverbial doors.

Whoa.

Some Fear is Founded

Before I get into all the problems of allowing safety to become a cultural value and personal right, let me make a confession. I possess fear. I have a mild case of Acrophobia which is fear of heights. And after recent episodes with a homeless person setting several fires in my neighborhood (including a tree in our backyard), I’ve found myself less comfortable alone in my home. I take plenty of daily safety precautions, too. I wear a seatbelt when in the car, lock my home doors at night, and never cross the street without looking both ways.

I understand the strong instinct to survive. And I support a common-sense approach to physical and mental safety. But when fear mongering begins to shape society … Houston, we have a problem.

Fear vs Faith

Fear, my friends, is the opposite of faith. In the Word, we’re told it is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6).

The biblical account of human history is the story of faith—faith in Yahweh God: His sovereignty, His love, and His truth. Because faith is the substance of our love-story with the Lord, the opposing emotion to faith–which is fear–is also addressed in the Bible. Some 365 times a version of “do not fear” is referenced in both the Old and New Testaments.

The Word of God clearly warns against excessive fear. The fourth chapter of 1 John discusses the connection between love and faith and explains that fear has no place within the perfect love of God.

1 John 4:18 -There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

Here are other biblical warnings against fear:

Proverbs 29:25 – The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.

Matthew 10:28 – And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

The Mentally Healthy Fear

There is one thing, however, that we are encouraged to fear: The Lord.

Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Psalm 33:8 – Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!

Ecclesiastes 12:13 – The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

All else, pandemics, worldwide violence, opposing political parties, and the fear-mongering of food shortages and recession are tactics by the enemy to spread the opposite of what holds our world together: faith. In all times, but especially in dark times, we are called to be fearless:

Luke 12:7  – But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Job 11:13-15, 18 –  If you would direct your heart rightly and spread out your hands to Him, if wrongdoing is in your hand, put it far away, and do not let malice dwell in your tents; Then, indeed, you could lift up your face without moral blemish, and you would be firmly established and not fear … Then you would trust, because there is hope; and you would look around and rest securely.

Proverbs 1:33 – But he who listens to me shall live securely and will be at ease from the dread of evil.

Safety Concerns

My husband, children, and I lived a short time in an underdeveloped country in Africa. We’ve also served in various countries through short-term missions. But when preparing for our family service, a consistent response from other family members and friends was, Is it safe? I have always found that an odd question for the Christian because when Christ sent out His disciples, He never asked them to double check an embassy’s travel warnings. He never encouraged them to stay away from the low-rent districts of the towns and villages He’d be sending them to. When Christ commanded His closest friends to go out, He said the opposite. He promised his eager followers that there’d be trouble.

John 15:20 – Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you as well …

Matthew 10: 16-18 Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be as wary as serpents, and as innocent as doves. But be on guard against people, for they will hand you over to the courts and flog you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings on My account, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.

We’ve Been Given a Picture

We are defenseless lambs living among vast packs of wolves—a very scary reality. But here’s where the faith comes in. Fear is the point of faith. Fear is the point of a trusting relationship with Christ. Our weaknesses demonstrate His strength. This brings Him glory.

This is why we are called to fear not.

I’d like to share my current, favorite faith-inducing Scriptures. These are the ones I hang onto when fear is tiptoeing into my mental files:

Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Isaiah 41:13 – For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.

The verses in Ephesians 6:10 – 17 are the Apostle Paul’s instructions to put on the armor of God as this is what will protect us from the evil-invoking fears of our times. The metaphoric descriptions of this armor begin with the words, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.”

We’re not told to be safe. We’re told to be strong in the Lord.

If we are instructed to put on armor, then we know we will face battles. No soldier enters a battle field without understanding the risks. We are lambs, given the armor of faith, and sent out among the snarling, hungry wolves for this purpose: to glorify the Lord.

Fear has no place when on a battlefield. Fear leads us in the opposite direction of glorifying the Lord. Fear, it would seem, brings shame upon our watching king.

Please Don’t Get Me Wrong

Again, we are built with survival instincts. Because we are created by God, we know these instincts can serve a purpose. There is a spiritual responsibility in obeying the natural laws of our God-created universe. We don’t jump off cliffs expecting to fly, and we don’t drive our cars into oncoming traffic, and we do wear health masks when needed. Would we allow a surgeon to operate on us without one?

But we are not to fear the ever-encroaching evil.

And it is looking like we’ve raised up a generation that doesn’t understand this.

It’s time to teach and encourage acts of bravery! We must call each other to take risks for the Gospel. We must trust that our Lord is not only with us, but working through the battle. We are to be examples.

Christ never approached his ministry with safeguards intact.  

Neither should we.

We must understand the mystery of God’s will and move forward fearless, knowing He can be trusted.

Let me end this with my own favorite closing salutation, quoting one of the bravest women in the Bible.

If I perish, I perish,”

Laurie (L.G. Westlake)

What you were made for will change the people around you. What you were made for will change the world.

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Cold Hearts – Roe v Wade Evidence

I’m scratching my head while watching our world fall apart.

I’m confounded, confused, and constantly bewildered at the hateful rhetoric pouring through my news feeds. I’m aghast at the violence throughout the world. I am disheartened as some from our own Christian family allow their political passions to override Christ’s mandate to love our enemies.

We’ve come to hate those who think differently than ourselves and the best solutions for societal challenges, it seems, is to silence the opposition by persecution, discrimination, or by the alarming increase of calls … for death.

Civility is gone.

A Recent Example

The Supreme Court’s overruling of Roe vs Wade, June 24, 2022 is a recent example of how our nation and world have unbalanced reactions to legislation one may not agree with. Violent protests, threats of more destruction, and calls for harm against the people who support prolife legislation is dominating my FaceBook pages and favorite podcasts. Even European leaders condemn the US for removing this awful decision from the federal level.

What?

Abortion wasn’t demolished at the overturn of Roe v Wade but sent back to be determined by the people at state level. This is where we exercise our right to vote. This is where the people make the decision.

I know it is confusing these days, but we in the US do not live under a federal dictatorship.

We were founded as the United STATES of America, a government created by the people for the people. And the people speak through their freedom to vote.

I am prolife and relieved at this overturn by the court. But this does not mean abortion options are closed for all US citizens. Here in New Mexico, we are an abortion destination and will likely remain so for some time. As I stated, I am prolife and also support other conservative causes, but in the last few years, our state has leaned politically liberal. I don’t like it. But I realize the people of New Mexico have spoken through their votes.

As a US citizen, I have the option to move to another state.

But That’s Not the Point

But this blog isn’t a lesson on legislation or our voting rights. This blog is about the hearts of many growing colder by the day and how that fact ties into biblical prophecy. So let me get back on track:

If you read many of my blogs, you know that I quote Matthew 24 often. I love these verses because there, Christ’s disciples asked for insight into His world plans. Jesus, open-handed, shared the signs of his second coming and what world conditions would look like at that time.

I find the official sign stated in verse twelve very enlightening and very relevant today.

And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. – Matthew 24:12

Sounding eerily familiar? Not eerily because our king returns soon, but eerily because we are eyewitnesses to this hate-filled phenomenon. I shouldn’t be scratching my head confounded, but rather calmly nodding, knowing our Lord is separating the wheat from the chaff (Matthew 3:12).

Consider these Scriptures:

2 Thess. 2:8-13 tells us: Then that lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will eliminate with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not accept the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.

And in Isaiah 66:4, God says: “So I will choose their punishments and bring on them what they dread. Because I called, but no one answered; I spoke, but they did not listen. Instead, they did evil in My sight and chose that in which I did not delight.”

Truth Revealed

This is clear. We see that the sign Christ gave his disciples in Matthew 24:12 was not simply a marker for end times but a truth to be revealed. As men choose to move away from truth, God will allow them to have what they ask for: untruth. Untruth comes from a deluding influence—the activity of Satan.

The evil plans of the enemies of God are at work and the actions of men prove this. Those who do not heed messengers of peace listen for cries of war.

We are on one side or the other. The gray areas are gone. The fence riding is over. You are either passionate for Christ, or vehemently against Him.

His Spirit in Us

But those for Christ can take no credit in discernment. Our spiritual fortitude comes from God above, not our own wisdom.

Consider Ezekiel 36:26 and how the Lord explains He is the one to give us a heart of peace and love: Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

The Holy Spirit’s work is to guide us in all truth (John 16:13). If we hold truth in our minds and hearts, it is because the Spirit of Christ has placed them there. Because we have believed upon Christ, we are made new. We are creatures of light and not of darkness.

Therefore, we have no need to fear the hate or fear the future.

God gives the knowledge of his will. We are the agents of a loving Christ among hearts that are stone cold. We must continue to be messengers which point to the Prince of Peace.

Paul’s Prayer for You and Me

In Philippians 1:9-11 Paul prayed that his readers, and you and me also, would grow in love as the days grow spiritually difficult. I pray this for each of you:

And this I pray, that your love may overflow still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may discover the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and blameless for the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, for the glory and praise of God.

Rest in Truth. We’ve been told and warned of these events and times. Our purpose is to shine in these dark hours. We are to continue in our truth discoveries and not be dismayed by the actions of those following untruth.

And finally, if we’ve been tempted to ride a fence for the sake of tolerance, let us climb down and stand for Christ.

If I perish, I perish,

L.G. Westlake

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Our Unique Moment

I love the picture above. But I would lift up a different sign at this “let’s make a difference” rally. My sign would say, Pray today for a better tomorrow–the new Kingdom.

We live in a unique period of time.

Acts 17:26 tells us that God has appointed the people of every nation’s time and geographical boundary. This means each of us has been born to be citizens of our collective nations in precise cultural eras. In other words, you were chosen to live where you live at this unprecedented hour when there are famines, multiple pestilences, deadly diseases, wars, rumors of more wars, and when the hearts of many grow colder by the minute. God has placed you and me smack-dab in the middle of chaos of all kinds (Matthew 24:5-28). Is there a reason?

From what I understand through Scripture, His motives have a grand and unique purpose.

What the Word Has To Say

In the book of Matthew we find a very compelling conversation between Christ and His disciples. In chapter 24, we’re told the disciples asked Christ two specific questions about the future: 1. When will these things [the destruction of the temple] come to be and 2. What will be the sign of Christ’s coming and the signs of end of the age? (My translation: When is it going to happen and what will be happening when it does?)

His answers outline imminent world conditions and give a clue about the timing of it all. Also, in Romans, Paul reveals a clue as to the timing of future events when he addresses the salvation of the Jews in chapter eleven.

Of great interest to me is that the two timing verses mentioned above (Matthew 24: 14 and Romans 11:25) are not just about the when and what of events, but are indicators to the ongoing purpose of the Christians living in the generations between the birth of the church and today. In the Matthew verse, Christ proclaims that before the end of the age comes, His Word will go into the whole world and be a witness of truth.

That, by the way, has not happened yet. Not every nation has access to God’s holy Word at this moment. There are still several thousands of language groups without Holy Scripture.

The Grafting of You and Me

In the Romans chapter, Paul explains that gentiles are being grafted to a tree whose roots and branches are Israel. At verse 25, he tells his audience that he doesn’t want them to be uninformed about a mystery—that the current and partial hardening of Israel’s hearts to the Gospel will continue until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. There seems to be a measurement associated with the “fullness of the Gentiles” taking place as we Gentiles are being brought into the family of God.

In essence, we’re told that in the space of time between Christ’s ascension and today, two distinct acts will take place: the Word will make its way into the entire world and the body of Christ will grow. That, I believe, is our purpose; our call. Kingdom Building has been and will be God’s purpose for the world He made. We’re His agents, called to prepare a thousand-year kingdom where Christ reigns.

He Warns Us

In the midst of these objectives, Christ reveals world conditions will deteriorate as we grow closer to the culmination of reaching into every nation. The world-condition list in Matthew 24 (and mentioned in the first paragraph here) is extensive and hard to wrap my head around. But it is also, currently, recognizable. Much of what Christ revealed then, is happening today. If I line up the indicators with other biblical prophecy not yet fulfilled, I get a sense that we are in the very moments Christ spoke of in Matthew 24. He tells us that the prophesied destruction, wars, and hatred must take place before the end. It seems God has ordained that we live through these trials while we persevere in sharing the good news of Christ with the world. In doing so, we have opportunity to point to Him and demonstrate our faith and trust.

No one knows the exact hour or specific day of Christ’s return, but He has given us great insight into the season we’ll find ourselves in when this long-awaited event happens. More than once, Christ and the New Testament writers warn us to be watchful and alert, not letting the foretold times catch us unaware of what takes place (1 Corinthians 16:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-8; Luke 12:35-47).

I believe the Lord intends us to be fully engaged in accomplishing our Gospel-sharing purpose and not overwhelmed with the traumas happening around us.

My objective here is to raise this question: As a specifically selected generation, are we doing what we’ve been chosen to do? 

Great News

There are worldwide Christian alliances now working to give every nation God’s Word in their various heart languages and in multiple access formats to ensure cultural understanding. This is historic partnership in the works and the plans are to finish the Gospel-sharing task by the year 2033. You are living in the generation that will see the completion of the Great Commission in eleven short years when every tribe, nation, and tongue will have access to the Word of God. Christ’s prophecy in Matthew 24:14 will be fulfilled. And you and I may see it happen.

Chew on this revelation. We are witnesses to the climax of generations of God-fearing people seeking Him. For God so loved the world. We, the church, are sharing Him with the world He so loves.

As His own, selected to live during these uncertain days, we can be certain that God is using all of this, you and I included, to His glory. This does not mean we shouldn’t be riveted by the riots, the political battles, the famines, the deaths, the fires, the earthquakes in various places, and the hate raging in our streets today. Like the Apostle Paul, I am hard pressed on every side, but I am not crushed; I am perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but I am not destroyed.

Knowing we live in prophetic times, I press on.

From Scripture, I’ve come to understand that in this life, I will have many troubles. But I am to take heart, for He has overcome each and every one of them. The true King is coming back to hold the government on his own shoulders, ushering in a thousand years of blessed, earthly existence that will look quite different from what we know today.

I long for this radical change.

Until then, I work at sharing God’s Word with the world.

Let us look up for our redemption draws near!

Laurie

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For brave inspiration, read L. G.’s latest clean and suspense Novel.