Monday, January 28, 2008

The Book of Daniel

Our Sunday Bible class is engaged in an expository study of the Book of Daniel. A young man when he was taken to Babylon, Daniel lived for 80 years to serve his God in the midst of paganism and everything against his faith. God elevated him to the highest government positions and used him to speak God's truth to those who lead the nation. God spoke to him in dreams and visions and gave him an outline of Gentile world dominion and history.

This last Sunday, we studied chapter seven describing his vision of four major kingdoms that would rise to power. The fourth and final beast had ten horns, and out of those horns arose a little horn. Many commentators feels that the present age is the 10-horned era of the fourth beast. Sometimes after the rise of the 10 horns, this little horn arose. In his rise to power he subdues three of the ten nations in his initial rise to power. This world leader will speak against the Most High (God). He will oppress His saints. He will introduce an entirely new era in which he will abandon all previous laws and institute his own system. In Daniel 9:27, we are told he will first appear as Israel's friend but will become Israel's persecutor. He will occupy Jerusalem for three and one half years. At the end of that time (spoken of in the Book of Revelation) as the Great Tribulation, God will judge this leader (beast-Antichrist) and will destroy him with the brightness of His coming. The conclusion of this battle will usher in a Kingdom of God Almighty which Scripture teaches is a 1,000 year reign of peace on the earth.

That brings me to a meditation for us today. Does anyone doubt that we are living in the closing moments of the "times of the Gentiles"? At the conclusion of this age, God will once again turn to restore His earthly people, Israel. All the events, wars, and rumors of wars circulating about the Middle East tell us with clarity that Jesus will return as He promised and the signs of the times speak to us that it could be soon.

Are your prepared to meet Him as your Saviour or as your Judge?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Time's Up!

When I last posted on November 14, I never dreamed it would take this long to get going again. What's the old proverb?--"The best laid plans of mice and men..."

I truly am thankful for the time off around Thanksgiving to spend with our family. Milbre and I flew to Houston on November 15th, picked up our rental car and drove to our son's home in Alexandria, LA. We enjoyed several days with Kevin and Pam and Nov 22nd, we drove to Fort Worth, meeting up with our other son MSGT Russell Howard and wife, Josie, along with Christina, Donnie, and Aleesha our three wonderful grandkids. Kevin and Pam joined us and we had three great days over Thanksgiving, reminiscing, eating out, shopping (they shopped), etc. There are many great memories from the DFW area from our days in the Pastorate at Calvary Pentecostal Church in Fort Worth in the late 60's to the mid-70's.

On Saturday, the 24th, we visited my sister, Sue Norris, in a nursing home in Granbury, Texas. She was in the last stages of cancer and little did we know, this would be our last visit before she passed on to heaven. Amazingly, she awoke from a semi-coma when we walked into the room. She recognized us and smiled.It was a moment I will cherish when the nine of us gathered around her bed and sang hymns, she quoted the 23rd Psalm with us, and we all prayed. I hugged her and told her I would see her on "the other side". It was as if she had waited for us to get there before she was released for her "promotion". She passed away a few days later.

We returned to our ministry in Auburn on December 1, back into the rush of the Christmas season.

We are blessed to serve Northwest Family Church in Auburn, WA., as Pastoral Care and ministry to the Seniors of our church.

The New Year brought new hopes and new challenges. Early morning Sunday, January 13, Milbre was suffering severe abdominal pain. I called 911 and she was transported to Auburn Regional Medical Center and diagnosed with "partial small bowel obstruction". After three days in the hospital with many tests, and much prayer, she returned home. One more day and she would have had major abdominal surgery, but God answered prayer and the blockage began to dissolve. Aside from a special diet for the last week, first liquids, then full liquids and then soft foods, she is doing well.

January 11th, I celebrated my 69th birthday, with fresh reminders of the Grace of God and what a privilege it is to be His child. It also brought awareness of the aging process--I had my hearing tested for the first time, and yes, my wife was right, I did have a problem. So down the road, it looks like I will need a hearing aid. Oh the vanity of man, how we hate to admit what is obvious to others!

It's good to be back!