12 July 2009

I wish for one day I could sit on a ferris wheel and never get off.

The Show Me State

So I've moved to my dads, here in Neosho, MO. A town with one major road..."The Boulevard" in which lies a Walmart, Taco Gringos (The best midnight snack you will ever have), McDonald's, and a few mom and pop places. Not much to do, to say the least. There's also a major generational sub-culture here...holiness pentecostal. There are 5 of these churches in this small town, one baptist church and one non-denominational church (that one being my dads). The majority of the population here are holiness, they believe that girls can't cut their hair, can't wear make-up, can't wear pants or do anything to your body that you weren't born w basically. Most of them are very religious people...following generational tradition from this town rather than focusing on truth. Most people here are born and raised here, and pretty much never move away. The majority of kids get married by 18, maybe 19. Which makes me an old maid here. I can't even count the number of times I've been asked if I'm dating someone seriously. My grandma keeps telling me "she's praying me in a man." Which is rather frightening. I'll willingly admit to being obsessed with romantic love. Meeting that one person you become one with; its beautiful. But after these first few days of being here...being married is something I feel like running from. At least in this environment. The other half of the population are the epitome of American rednecks. I mean dirty southern greasy sweaty...."my truck is bigger than yours" rednecks. The highlight of this weekend was a tractor-pull contest out at the fairgrounds. Wow. How entertaining. But I'm not here to categorize the people that live here, or ponder on the fun I might be having back in Nashville, I'm here to spend time with family. I'm here to hang out with my dad and get to know my siblings. Or at least that's what I'm trying to do.

My dad has been writing a column called "Signs Of The Times" for a weekly christian newsletter, they're actually quite interesting. I enjoyed reading them, I'll tell you right now I underestimate my father everyday.

Column One
In view of the times in which we live, it is imperitive that we understand the things that will come to pass on humanity as a whole and America in particular. I do not claim to be a prophet, nor am I a date-setter as to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. What I will claim is that the Bible is infallible and contains ALL truth. It's truths are not secretive and it does not take a Greek and Hebrew scholar to find them out. The most important possession one must have when studying the scriptures of God is His help in the person of the Holy Ghost. A common mistake many make is taking their beliefs to the Bible, instead of taking their beliefs from the Bible. (You may want to read that again.) I encourage you to open yourself to the truth that God has made abundantly clear in His Word.
The first thing I want to look at is the signs of the times. Jesus said in Matthew 24:33, "So likewise ye, (us) when ye shall see all these things, know that it (Jesus' second coming and the end of the age) is near, even at the doors." Someone once said that the only thing we ever learn from history is that we never learn from history. A very apt statement which you will see shortly. We do not learn from history because our studies are brief and prejudiced. It is hard to see the "big picture" when only studying brief segments of time. When one takes a hard look at the history of humanity as a whole, one will soon realize that history absolutely repeats itself. King Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived besides Jesus said in Ecclesiastes 1:9,10, "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there anything whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us."
For approximately the past 3000 years of human history there have been about 12 major empires. When I say empire, I mean a nation that dominates the rest of humanity in productivity, culture, and military might. In other words, a "superpower". If you include America, that brings the total to 13. All "superpowers" share common characteristics. They all begin with a violent and usually unforseen outburst of energy and end with a decline in moral standards, cynicism, pessimism, and frivolity. A frightening pattern emerges in that all 12 of these "superpowers" began virtually the same way and ended after 10 generations, or approximately 250 years. The empires of Assyria, Greece, Roman Republic, Roman Empire, Spain, and Britain, to name a few, all share common characteristics. Although some of these empires still exist, they no longer wield dominating "world power". America is following the footsteps of all the "superpowers" which have come before. Of interesting note is that the heroes of declining nations are always the same: actors, athletes, and singers. I shouldn't need to mention that Ameican Idol on Fox has the highest ratings of any television show, or that actors are wielding influence upon public opinion, and sports stadiums are full of people cheering on their favorite athlete[s]. If you don't think that America is in the throes of decline, you need to pull your head out of the sand and look around at the decreasing moral fabric of our society. Over 50 million unborn babies have been slaughtered in the name of convenience. States in our country are sanctioning homosexual marriages and pedophilia is rampant. These, my friend, are signs of the times in which we live.
According to the history of all the "superpowers" that have been before us, America is living in the last stages of a failing empire. This last stage is decadence. It is a moral and spiritual disease, resulting from too long a period of wealth and power which by the way, America has enjoyed for about 233 years. This "age of decadence" produces cynicism, decline in "real" religion, pessimism, and frivolity. Citizens of a nation at this stage will no longer make an effort to save their country because they are not convinced that there is anything worth saving. Even though we are in the throes of economic chaos, no one is willing to do what is neccessary to curb the tide of overwhelming debt. People are still buying cars, homes, and a host of other things on credit. Our government is basically bankrupt. Signs of the times? What lies ahead for America and the rest of the world? We will discuss this next time.

Column Two
The first thing that Jesus tells His disciples (and us) is found in Matthew 24:4. "...Take heed that no man deceive you." There are many today teaching false doctrine and leading many astray. Jude writes in verse 4, "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." I have always encouraged my congregation to read their Bible for themselves and I will tell you the same.Too many just ingest whatever their pastor tells them without checking the Word of God for themselves. This is another way false doctrine gets propegated. Most believe what they do because their parents and grand-parents believed that way. This goes on until it becomes accepted truth without anyone questioning its validity. I will tell you openly and honestly, don't just take my words for truth. Go to the Source and see if I tell the truth or not. You can't argue with scripture lest you are found to be fighting against God Himself. There is nothing wrong with questioning the teachings of your pastor. In Acts 17:11, the Bereans "...received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, [to see] whether those things were so." The Bereans didn't just take Paul and Silas' word for what the scriptures said, they checked their preaching out for themselves. We must do the same. Do not entrust your eternal destiny to ANY man. We must all "...work out our own salvation with fear and trembling." Phillippians 2:12
Let us now take a look at the signs Jesus told us to look for that would tell us His coming was near and would culminate in the end of the world as we know it. If what I am about to tell you does not convince you that we are living in the last days, you are beyond being convinced. In Matthew 24:6, Jesus says "...you will hear of wars and rumors of wars..." The world has never been free from war and bloodshed; however with WWI, total war was waged and then again in WWII. In WWII, 93 million people served in the armed forces of both sides. At the twenty-first session of the International Red Cross in 1969, it was reported that more than 90 million people have been killed in wars since the twentieth century began. Over 3 trillion dollars has been spent on arms and over 130 conflicts on 5 continents have been waged. Governments around the globe spend billions of dollars preparing for war every year. Of particular interest is that one nuclear submarine of today carries more explosive force than ALL the bombs and ammunition detonated in WWII. Sobering facts? Think on this: It has been said that we are the only generation who has the capability to destroy the planet.
Matthew 24:7 mentions three more signs to keep watch for that will mark the last days leading up to Jesus' return and the end of the world. "...there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places." Let's look at them in order. The World Health Organization estimates that of the world population, one-third is well-fed, one-third is under-fed, and one-third is starving. Thirty people die from starvation every sixty seconds. We here in America cannot imagine anyone starving to death. The reason this is so is because all we are worried about is ourselves, besides we live in the "land 'o plenty". Most restaurants waste more food in a single day than some people in other countries will see all year. We are the land of the buffet, the all-you-can-eat-'till-you-can-barely-walk-to-your-car nation. Out of sight, out of mind.
Pestilences. Thirty-five percent of the world's food is lost to insects prior to harvest, ten percent is lost to insects while the food is stored. The US Department of Agriculture says there are approximately 364 "superbugs" worldwide which have developed a resistance to the poisons used to control them. We have all heard of killer bees and mosquitos carrying who knows what. We are currently in the midst of a "swine flu" pandemic. Concerned yet?
Earthquakes. The World Almanac tells us that there were only six major earthquakes between 1800-1896. In each decade from 1897 to 1947 there were either two or three. In the decade from 1947 to 1956 there were seven, and from 1957 to 1966 there were seventeen. Since 1975, there have been forty significant earthquakes. In the last five years of the 1970s, more people were killed by earthquakes than in the entire seventy-five years preceding.
Now Jesus tell us in Matthew 24:8 that, "All these are the beginning of sorrows." [emphasis mine] There is more to come.

03 July 2009

I've got dreams and I don't really want to put them down.

Here I go breaking my own heart again
I didn't know that things could get this out of hand
If I called home right now I know I'd get my share of advice
that I don't want but I might need

daddy says i didn't raise you to need a man
momma says it all hurts and find a good one if you can
oh they can't help their preachin
but they cant stop my reachin
for all the livin i ain't done yet
i got my own road to run

i know the truth is that they're usually right
but i got to point this steerin' wheel my own way

*Kacey Musgraves. Show was awesome. Love Her.