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).

Reflections

As a child of God, how well do we represent our Father? How do those around us view our actions?

When we are going about our daily activities, do we let our light shine in such a way that we mirror what God has revealed to us? When others see the way that we act in various situations, is it the way a true Christian would act?

God has taught and aided us through many devices. He has revealed His Way, The Truth, and given us all that we need to be a “good child” and not a child of the world. He has and will continue to do His part perfectly.

Our job can be seen in 1 John 3:10, which states: “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.” It is incumbent upon us to practice righteousness and to love our brethren, so that when society observes us, they catch a glimpse of our Father in the reflection.

Pascal’s Wager

Blaise Pascal is purported to be one of the great thinkers of the 17th Century. In an effort to convince non-believers that they should become followers of the Bible, he came up with the following logic. His argument was that we should accept the truth of Christianity, because if we are wrong, we have lost nothing, but if we are right, we have gained everything.

Have we accepted this gambit as our approach to Christianity? Are we “hedging our bet” that we are doing the right thing or that we are in the right place? We do not need to “go with the best odds” to know whether God exists or the fact that His Way is true.

Once called by God, we have all the facts and assurances that we need in the Bible if we are willing to put forth the work and time. The Word of God is not laid out like a good technical manual, but rather meanings have been purposefully obscured to most (Matthew 13:10-13), and pieces to each puzzle have been scattered “a little here and a little there” (Isaiah 28:10,13). But nonetheless, the Book of Books does indeed have all the information that we need to prove that God exists and that this is the path in which we should walk.

If we are willing to put forth the effort, as we are admonished (Ecclesiastes 9:10), we can know with 100% certainty what is and will continue to be a mystery to many.

Left Behind

Life happens. The sun goes up and it goes down; weeks turn into months; months years; years decades; decades turn into a life time and then what is left behind?

Some leave inheritances fit for kings; some have a large family that remains and another an architectural marvel. Many try to leave their mark on history; some to greater extents and some to lesser degrees than others.

Is there anything that we can build that will last?

There is coming a time when the Earth and Heaven, as we know them, will cease to exist (Revelation 21:1). There will be no more of today’s wonders, man-made or natural. What hope is there then that we can produce anything lasting?

Believe it or not, there is one thing that we can build that will last beyond the passing away of this first heaven and

earth…CHARACTER! That is, Godly character.

The word character comes from the Greek word for engraving. It means to exactly represent another image. In Hebrews 1:3, Christ is said to have the express image (Greek: charakter) of God. In the same way, we are to become like God by living by His every word (Matthew 4:4) and following the example of Christ (1 Peter 2:21). We are to strive for the perfection that God is (Matthew 5:48; Hebrews 6:1) and if we do so we will indeed be building the Character of God.

If we work hard at building Godly character and use the tools available to do so, we won’t need to leave anything else behind, because God will see to it that we will live for eternity. In the very end, the only thing that will be around, that we can affect, is this Character and subsequently our place in the God family.

Truth With Consequence

Fort Collins, Colorado, has recently been in the forefront of the news with its debate on how to handle decorating the city and government buildings for the upcoming Xmas season. The initial feeling was that the city should only put up white lights so that they would not offend those that kept Hanukkah (Jews) or Kwanzaa (African-American).

Well… one man, the local Sheriff, had had enough and decided that he was going to put his foot down and put up a Xmas tree and decorate it. He was going to defend what he thought was right no matter what… and he did! And many showed up to help him decorate the tree in spite of the contrary opinion.

Of course, the problem is that while he thought he was standing up for what was right, he was not. Putting up a tree for Xmas is not something God wants us to do. Note what Jeremiah 10:2-4 says, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Do not learn the way of the Gentiles….For one cuts a tree from the forest….They decorate it with silver and gold; They fasten it with nails and hammers So that it will not topple.'” It really does not get any more simple or straightforward than this. God does not want us to take some day of our choice and its customs that are founded in paganism, and “make” it a day of honor towards Him.

God wants us to worship Him in truth (compare John 4:23-24), following His directives. He does not want us to worship Him pursuant to the creations of man (compare Matthew 15:9).
Hopefully, one day the Sheriff will be able to take his zeal and combine it with truth as God desires. What a powerful combination this will be in the future! But for those that have an ear to hear now, there is the opportunity, and even more importantly, the obligation to live His way of life with a fervor and enthusiasm that is becoming of the Word of God. We are admonished not to lose our first love (compare Revelation 2:4), lest we are found unprepared when Christ returns (compare Matthew 25:5).

Let us be ready to give an answer or a defense for what we believe (compare 1 Peter 3:15). Now is the time to not take “standing up” sitting down!