Fatal Sequence

The “fatal sequence” of an empire is most commonly attributed to Alexander Fraser Tytler. It states that a nation progresses as follows:

From Bondage to Spiritual Faith
From Spiritual Faith to Great Courage
From Courage to Liberty
From Liberty to Abundance
From Abundance to Selfishness
From Selfishness to Complacency
From Complacency to Apathy
From Apathy to Dependency
From Dependency back into Bondage

There may be debate as to whether they all have followed this course, but when looking at it, there are some undeniable accuracies. For some time now the English speaking countries have been the dominant empires. So this begs the question, where might we be in Tytler’s cycle?

If we are honest, we would have to say that we are near the end… in more ways than one. We are near the end of the list as well as being near “The End.” The Bible long ago predicted that the end-times would come and that there would be indicators that we are living in those times. Those events are presently happening all around us, and harbingers of future events are becoming clearer every day.

There is no question that these prophecies are going to take place and this present day empire will come to an end. This WILL happen! What is not clear is whether we as individuals will get caught up in the surge and suffer the same fate.

What are our tendencies? Is it to head towards bondage and away from godliness? Or is it to head towards spirituality and away from carnality? As we live in this world and walk through it, is the world wearing off on us or are we wearing off on it?

In the parable of the sower, Christians are warned about “the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches” (Matthew 13:22)–that they will choke off the Word of God and cause us to become unfruitful. If we succumb to these temptations, then we are in danger of receiving a great trial and tribulation (Matthew 24:21) to help get us back on the track.

We have been given a tremendous blessing in the calling and knowledge that has been bestowed upon us. Matthew 13:16-17 says: “But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

God brought us out of bondage and led us to the spiritual faith of Christ where He has given us courage, liberty and abundance in His way of life. Now we must be ever vigilant not to be caught in the vicious circle that leads back to the ignominy of bondage. Where are we in this “fatal sequence”?

True Freedom

We have no doubt heard it loftily said that “…you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” We are accustomed to believing that we are free – and we are in many ways unconstrained to do what we want, but does this make us really free?

We are free to make choices, but not all choices make us free. There is one Way that does, and many others that do not. Of course it is God’s Way that truly frees us, and Satan’s that truly enslaves us.

When we follow the path that the devil has enticingly put before us, it seems pleasant for a time – this is how he sells the lies that he is pawning. In the end, whether we know it or not, there are dire consequences for choosing these falsehoods. They lead to sorrow, pain, damage, destruction and ultimately in all cases to death. His ultimate goal is to thwart the plan of God any way that he can, and he will stop at nothing to frame his lies as truth.

It is God’s truth and only His Way that can free us from the penalties of sin that we can become bound by in both the short and long term. This is how we are truly made free! We have the opportunity to reap the benefits of this now, as well as qualify to be a part of the Kingdom and the Family of God later.

If we weigh our actions against the commands of the Bible and choose wisely, not only will we be free from sin, but we will be free to enjoy the fruits and blessings that come with doing what is right. Then we can truly stand in the liberty by which Christ can and does make us free (Galatians 5:1).

Probation

Dr. Jack Kevorkian was recently released from prison, where he served eight years for giving a fatal injection to a 52 year old man who had Lou Gehrig’s disease. What he did was wrong in the eyes of God, and the judicial system in the USA agrees, hence the jail time.

The interesting aspect of this whole ordeal is that Kevorkian went into the penal system a rebellious and defiant man of 71 years of age and came out as a 79 year old who was still just as brash, gruff and combative as ever.

While his time in the penitentiary did manage to keep him off the streets, it did little to make the man, known as Dr. Death, penitent. Of course, this is nothing new. Most do not come out of correctional facilities “corrected.” If anything, some going in come out “better” criminals.

What does it take then to rehabilitate a person from his errant ways?

It takes a conviction that what we are doing is wrong, and then a conversion to become a “new” person. The only way that this can truly be accomplished is by the power of God working in our lives and giving us the recognition of who and what we are, and then, who and what we can become. The heart is naturally contrary to the way of God (Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 15:18-20), but with the power of the Holy Spirit, it can be transformed (Psalms 51:10; Ezekiel 11:19).

Some today have been given this insight to see themselves as God sees them. The question now is, what does He see? Is it the same attitudes and actions that were present at the beginning of their rehabilitation or is it a “new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24)?

Citius, Altius, Fortius!

These three Latin words mean “Swifter, Higher, Stronger” and are a continuing motto for the Olympics. Once every four years it is truly amazing to witness some of the feats that are accomplished. These athletes continue to out-do previous records, some of which were thought to be unassailable. In many cases it is a testimony to what can be accomplished if someone puts their mind to it.

As we compete in the Christian Olympics, we also must continue to grow and do better on a continual basis (compare 2 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 2:1-2; Psalm 92:12).

Swifter
We are running in a race towards a prize. We are not to run lackadaisically or half-heartedly, but to run with certainty (compare Colossians 3:23). Without a doubt, the quickest distance between where we are and where we are going is a straight and narrow line (compare Matthew 7:13-14); it does not wander aimlessly but stays on the track with the goal always in mind: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it” (1 Corinthians 9:24).

Higher
We are to take the “high” way. If we are of Christ, we are to seek and strive for those things above (compare Colossians 3:1-2)! God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours (compare Isaiah 55:9). In and of ourselves we cannot reach these heights (compare Psalm 139:6). But with the help of God we can soar to new altitudes that were once unobtainable (Psalm 18:33). This is what we should always be shooting for.

Stronger
God is our strength (Psalm 118:14), but this does not negate our part in our fight: “All that your hand finds to do, do it with your strength. For there is no work, or planning, or knowledge, or wisdom, in Sheol, there where you go (Ecclesiastes 9:10, LITV).” Now is the time to do all things through Christ who strengthens us (compare Philippians 4:13). Then we will increase all the more in strength as Paul did (compare Acts 9:22).

The finish line is in sight. Our goal is the Kingdom of God, and the gold medal is eternal life in His Family. In many respects it has been a marathon (compare Hebrews 12:1), and now more than ever as we come to the end. Brethren, let us finish Citius, Altius, Fortius!

The Black Swan

In the first century A.D., the saying, “A rare bird in the lands, like a black swan,” was meant to convey something that was not believed to exist. At that time, the European world had only seen white swans. So you can imagine their surprise more than 1,600 years later when the first one was seen and later caught and brought back to Europe. This changed the way many thought, even to the extent that the saying, “A rare bird in the lands…” was used ironically.

Recently, an author has taken this story and come up with the Black Swan idea. His criteria for such an effect is:

The event is a surprise (to the observer).
The event has a major impact.
After the fact, the event is rationalized by hindsight, as if it had been expected.
Furthermore, he also states that these events can be either positive, negative or both.

An example of a Black Swan event would be the first coming of Christ. It was unexpected by most; affected many in a profound way; and now nearly 2,000 years later, many have said that Jesus was merely a man who caught the imagination of the people of His time, as so many before and after Him have done.

There is another Black Swan event on the horizon that will catch most everyone off guard; completely change the whole world; and after it has come to pass, most will be able to see that it was the consequence of predictable occurrences. Of course, I am speaking of the return of Christ and all that immediately precedes and follows His second coming.

The world will not expect His coming at the time He arrives, nor in the manner in which He does. In one respect, it is amazing that we can live in a time where the Bible is the #1 best selling book worldwide, year after year, and yet most are unaware of its contents, thus making Christ’s future return a Black Swan event.

In addition to being a surprising event for most, Christ’s return will of course have a major impact. He will save mankind from utter destruction, and this present evil world will be totally changed for the better. And the third criterion of this concept is that Christ’s second coming will be viewed after the fact, as having been foreseeable. This will be the outcome, after the Kingdom of God rules this earth and God has made His Spirit available to all and their minds become open to the truth. They will read the prophecies of the Bible, and the words will jump off the page at them, as they wonder how they did not see this before.

It should not and can not be this way for us today! The events of the very near future are not concealed to our eyes and therefore, should not be a bombshell to us, as it will be to the rest of humanity. Those, guided by the Holy Spirit, who correctly study the Word of God and watch and pray always, will see all of this fermenting.

We should not be oblivious to what is coming down the pike; rather, we should be knowledgeable and prepared for Christ’s second coming. The result of this Black Swan event will be a dire outcome for many, but it should not and can not be that way for those who have been given an ear to hear and eyes to see.

Now What?

Hopefully everyone has had a meaningful Passover season and has come out of it with a “high hand” as it were.

But what now? We have started the count down to Pentecost. Is there anything that we can be doing or should be doing?

Now is the time to go from strength to strength by letting the impetus of these past feast days vault us towards the next one.

We have a great opportunity to be really right before God after taking the Passover. We have walked in this world and tried not to be a part of it, but we dirtied our feet. Now they are clean. During the Days of Unleavened Bread we exemplified coming out of sin by putting leaven as well as transgressions out of our lives.

There is no better time than the present to walk in the newness of life as epitomized and embodied by the last day of Unleavened Bread. The best admonition that we can follow comes from Christ and His conversation with the woman caught in adultery and the man at the pool of Bethesda…”sin no more.”

As we struggle against Satan, the world and ourselves in these days preceding the feast of Pentecost, let’s endeavor to walk the walk and to do our utmost to overcome. However, at the same time we should be realizing just how much we need God’s help and the Holy Spirit He has given us… the same Spirit that He gave on Pentecost nearly 2000 years ago.

The Best of Times

As we watch events around the world, we can’t help but think that we are entering into the last days. War is imminent with Iraq, ostensibly over weapons of mass destruction. North Korea is now flexing its muscle with the announcement that it is removing itself from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. The pope grows old, as radical candidates wait anxiously in the wings. Generations are being wiped out in Africa by AIDS. Approximately 800 million people around the world are persistently hungry. False prophets, wars, pestilence and famine are already here.

Yet, this is the best time! As the world spins more and more quickly out of control, I can’t think of a better time to be doing what’s right. That is to say, that which is right in God’s eyes. By the same token, there really has never been an easier time, specifically in our Western civilization, to be about the task of being a Christian.

In our present day climate there can be a propensity to become complacent due to the freedoms and luxuries we experience in the free world. Yet, given the illustrations above, our disposition should be diametrically opposed. We should be asking ourselves a few probing questions: Are we letting down? Are we becoming weary of doing well? Are we saying to ourselves that God is delaying His coming for one reason or another? Are we taking on any of the attributes of a Laodicean?

We have the tools readily available to combat any such tendency or merely to stay on top of those inclinations. We all know what they are…prayer, Bible study, meditation and fasting to mention a few.

Let’s encourage one another to use them as time grows short.
Let’s be a light to the world as we practice being a Christian for NOW and for harder times ahead.

How Did We React?

The big news of the past week has been the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. Many different stories of what exactly happened have surfaced.

Now, I am not here to debate whether he is dead or not; or how he may or may not have died; nor even the ramifications of his death which may be considerable. Rather, I want to address the reactions of many of those in the US and around the world to his demise.

I was struck, and even a little taken back by the unadulterated joy and happiness of many that bin Laden was murdered. Of course, I understand the evil that the organization he formed, al-Qaeda, wrought on the world, not only with 9/11 but many other heinous terrorist acts that have caused untold suffering and anguish.

For those affected by Osama bin Laden, here is the hard thing God asks of us in Proverbs 24:17-18, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; Lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him….”

Vengeance belongs to God (Romans 12:19) in His time, in His way and for His purpose. It is not up to us to take matters into our own hands, but rather we are to work and pray that we live according to His Will.

What God wants and accordingly what we should also want is for “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). God would rather that everyone would repent and turn away from their evil ways and turn towards Him. Is this what we want for EVERYONE as well?

It’s Not a Small Thing

Sometimes we wonder what we can do to help the church… to do our part as we are often admonished. But too many times we might come to the conclusion that we are too [fill in the blank] to help out. However, there is a way that does not require the resources that we feel that we might not have.



It is the very powerful act of intercessory prayer — praying for others on their behalf. We have the ability by the Holy Spirit; through Christ; to ask God the Father for anything for someone else (Romans 8:26-27, 34). We can actually tap into the power that created the universe to ask Him to do something for SOMEONE ELSE.



Christ has set this example of intercession for us in John 17, even as the time of His death neared. As His physical life hung in the balance, His thoughts were on us. We are to follow His precedent and do the same — pray for the brethren.



Through this act of selflessness the heavens are the limits to what can be accomplished. So when we stop and take a step back and look at our life and see it going well, it might not be because of what we have done, but because of what God did… because someone asked Him to do it FOR us.

Standing Watch

What a tragedy of epic proportions the fires in Southern California have been. The damage it has done is in many ways immeasurable and the effects will be felt for a life time for many.

As we view television, we see many on their roof tops or other vantage points desperately watching for fires or signs of impending danger. They are ready to act at a moment’s notice and respond with all due diligence. Rightly so, they have a responsibility to guard what they have.

Perhaps, those of us not in the vicinity of the wild fires are feeling a certain amount of relief that we do not have to keep so vigilant a watch. Or maybe we feel that there is no reason for concern as nothing of this magnitude could happen to us. But this is not the case.

As Christians we are to be as sentries on our roof tops standing watch – and warning of the impending danger that this world now faces!

God has shown us in His Word what the signs of the end-time would be. Have we seen these? Do we have a good enough vantage point? He has told us of the events that would precede His coming…are we watching diligently for them? Do we know which have already come to pass? Do we know the ones yet to come?

If we are to make our calling meaningful and worthwhile and if we expect or hope to escape the soon coming perilous times, then we must WATCH and PRAY ALWAYS as God, in His Word, has admonished us to do (Luke 21:36).

“WATCH therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord does come. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be you also ready: for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man comes” (Mat 24:42-44).