Signs of the End Times? – Earthquakes and Tsunamis

September 18, 2020 by  
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By Dianne E. Butts –

Last month we watched the happening at the Western Wall in Jerusalem live. It may have been that very wall, or another wall of the Temple Mount that existed before it was destroyed in 70 AD, that Jesus and the disciples were walking past when the following conversation took place.

Jesus said that a, “time would come when not one stone would be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down” (Luke 21:6).

His disciples asked when these things would happen and, “what will be the sign that they are about to take place” (v. 7)?

Jesus then gave a lengthy description of what we understand to be the end times of the earth as we know it now. One thing He said was this: “There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven” (Luke 21:11).

In 2011, we saw several major earthquakes and tsunamis:

Sunday, January 2, 2011: Araucania, Chile, is hit by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake.

Friday, February 11, 2011: off shore 30 miles north of Concepcion, Chile, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake rocks from almost exactly where an 8.8 quake was centered on February 27, 2010, that killed 521 people.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 (local time): 6.3 quake rattled Christchurch, New Zealand’s second-most populous city, killing 181 people. The same area was hit with a 7.1 magnitude quake on September 4, 2010. There were no casualties in the September quake, but it may have weakened buildings leading to more deaths in the 2011 quake. An article on Wikipedia says, “The earthquake has been the most damaging in a year-long earthquake swarm affecting the Christchurch area.” An aftershock on June 13, 2011, caused considerable additional damage. A series of large aftershocks hit Christchurch again on December 23, 2011 (local time).

Sunday, February 27, 2011: A 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck just south of Concepcion, Chile, one year to the day after the 8.8 magnitude quake devastated the area. Strong aftershocks followed.

Friday, March 11, 2011: An 8.9 magnitude earthquake hits northeastern Japan triggering a massive tsunami. When the tsunami hit Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, seawater flooded power lines causing a meltdown in three of the six reactors. Months later, the death toll from the earthquake and tsunami was 14,919 dead and 9,893 unaccounted for.

One blogger writes, “In short, in less than 11 weeks, the major earthquakes at the edge of the Rim of Fire in the Pacific have covered 3 continents—and have yet to move on to North America.”

The Pacific Ring of Fire, according to Wikipedia, is a 25,000 miles horseshoe-shape ring around the Pacific Ocean where 90% of the world’s earthquakes (89% of the world’s largest earthquakes) occur. The Ring of Fire is so named because it is home to over 75% of the world’s volcanoes.

Chile. New Zealand. Japan. Three of the four “corners” of the Ring of Fire were hit with large earthquakes in 2011. Is it time for the fourth “corner” to feel the earth shake? That would be the Pacific Northwest corner of the United States or southwestern Canada.

Jesus said there would be “great earthquakes.” This has led many Christians to believe there will be an increase in earthquake frequency and intensity as we near the End Times. Today, many people believe we are see that happen right before our very eyes. However, the USGS government earthquake web site says, “The number of large earthquakes (magnitude 6.0 and greater) has stayed relatively constant.”

What do you think?

Preparing a Place

September 6, 2020 by  
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By Janet Morris Grimes –

I love parties, but I knew this party was a bad idea from the start. Still, that fact did not keep the idea from snowballing into an even bigger bad idea.

Most people cautioned that there were too many variables to hold an outdoor party at the end of December. No matter what, the weather would be a factor even if it chose to cooperate. The amount of work this event would require was daunting. Many friends offered their homes.

But I had a vision of how I wanted this 18th Surprise Birthday Party for my daughter to be. The vision included a covered picnic pavilion, the wind somehow blocked off with plastic walls, a fire roaring in the fireplace, friends and family sipping on hot chocolate while huddled around a heater if necessary and white Christmas lights stretched across the ceiling, creating an unforgettable Winter Wonderland. A unique night that would be a complete surprise.

Some of my friends warned, “This has never been done before.” But that only fed my desire to see my plan to fruition.

It truly took a village to pull the party off, with setup beginning several days in advance. Our entire family, and some very special friends, worked in shifts wrapping the pavilion from pole to pole in thick plastic sheets. By the time the party started, there was a black light room curtained off with balloons, glow in the dark notes, and decorations. We found creative ways to keep the food warm, including the stubborn liquid chocolate of the chocolate fountain that preferred to clump together at the first sight of nightfall. With a photo booth in place for funny photos, the party blowers and confetti ready to celebrate, and fun music forming the soundtrack, we awaited my daughter’s arrival.

I snapped a few pictures between the “set-up” and “party” and could not help but think that preparing a special place for someone required a great deal of love. If we put so much effort into creating a place to be used for a few hours, what must Heaven be like after God has been working on the preparations for so long?

Eternity will be perfect for me—I have no doubt. The work required comes from a direct outpouring of God’s love for me and I can almost see the twinkle in His eye as He anxiously prepares for my arrival. I think our mansions will be unique to each one of us, because He created us so uniquely.

And the best part is that in Heaven, the party continues on forever!

Defining Love In 600 Words or Less

August 28, 2020 by  
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By Alan Mowbray –

1 Corinthians 13:13 (The Message)
“But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.”

When you stop to think about love, what comes to mind?

Affection—admiration—desire—need—attraction—overlooking the faults of others—forgiving—giving to the poor—helping others who are suffering—being a friend—going to battle for someone, etc.

Sophocles said, “Love frees us of all the weight and pain of life.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. called love, “…the master key that opens the gates of happiness.”

Playwright Karen Sunde pondered: “To love is to receive a glimpse of heaven.”

Since the instant love touched the hearts of Adam and Eve, mankind has been trying to define exactly what love is. Everyone has their own definition of it. When you search the word love on the web, you get conflicting results:

“An emotion of strong affection and personal attachment.” Yet, is it not true that neither affection nor attachment is required to love people? There are many individuals I have shown love to over the years and I guarantee you that for some, I had no affection nor was I particularly attached to them.

“To have a strong liking for.” Hmmm, I would have to say again, that a requirement like that would preclude me from loving a lot of people I know.

“Passion or desire.” Okaaaaay. Now the field just got narrowed down to one. Uno—as in less than two. Yeah, you guessed it, my wife. I would say that using that criterion would exclude everyone else on the planet.

So, love remains an elusive definition, yet, everyone knows about it.

There are at least eighteen characteristics of love given in the New Testament. Together they help answer the question, “What is love?”

Love suffers.
Love is patient.
Love is kind.
Love is not jealous.
Love does not brag.
Love is not arrogant.
Love does not act unbecomingly.
Love does not seek its own.
Love is not provoked.
Love keeps no record of suffered wrongs.
Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness.
Love rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things.
Love believes all things.
Love hopes all things.
Love endures all things.
Love never fails.
Love does no harm.
Love covers a multitude of sins.

We know one thing for sure—the Word of God focuses on love, teaching us that our goal must be to put love first, and that any spiritual gifts He gives us must operate out of love. Love is a powerful, but not an impersonal force. It is not a vague mist or a dreamy concept. It is not an idea, but an actual entity.

But what is love, really?

1 John 4:16 (NKJV) tells us: “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.”

God is love.

There you go. It doesn’t say God has love, but that He is love. Don’t mix up the order. Love is not God. God is Love.

Let me show you the difference—it’s huge.

My dog is a girl.

My girl is a dog.

Do you see the difference? Don’t get ‘em mixed up.

There’ll be a war.

God is love.

These three words say so much yet only scratch the surface. Sigh, if only I had another 9000 words—

The God Hole

August 21, 2020 by  
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By Lori Freeland –

Barring basic physical needs, what one thing can people not live without? The answer is love.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope, love. And the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13:13 NIV). We come into the world craving love, spend our lives chasing after love, and die wanting more love.

Love pushes me through prickly patches in my marriage. Love prompts me to put my arms around my kids when my frustration peaks and all I want to do is walk away. Love paves the way to forgiveness when my anger rides high.

I find love at the center of every close relationship I have. Why?

My humanity. God’s humanity. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27 NIV). God fashioned us in His image to love and to be loved. He gave Eve to Adam for this very reason. Out of His deep love for us, He sent His only Son to pay the price for our insufficiency.

God fashioned us with a giant-sized “God Hole” in our hearts—an abyss He put there for Himself. Everyone has a God Hole. Not everyone knows how to define that space—especially if they lack an intimate relationship with Him. This empty cavern goes by many different names. I call that place restlessness, emptiness, longing, rawness, sadness, frustration, depression, neediness. What do you call it?

When that space remains vacant, it hurts. So why am I surprised then when I ignore the cavern, the emptiness screams to be filled? The vacuum turns into a great restless pit of need. Why haven’t I learned that I can’t just shove any old thing in that hole to ease the ache?

God owns that space and He’s not renting it out to anyone else. It’s set apart. For Him and Him alone. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23 NIV).

When will I learn that once He fills my heart, my restlessness will melt away and the ache will fade?

Do you have a hollow space? Like me are you trying to fill it with family, friends, food, jobs, multiple non-stop activities? Do you think if you do more, be more, want more, the restless ache will disappear? I’ve learned the hard way over the years that it won’t. God made that hole for Himself. And He’s a jealous God. “Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:14 NIV).

See if I’m right. Let Him fill the space. What have you got to lose?

Not by the Sweat of our Brow

August 9, 2020 by  
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By Jennifer Slattery –

We’re a “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” type of people. We take great pride in a job well done, an obstacle conquered, and a goal reached. Self-help books frequent the best-seller’s lists with titles like, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Act like a Woman, Think Like a Man, and The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work, and yet, society as whole, has not changed.

Not to say that there hasn’t been progress. Better health practices, iPhones, and wireless Internet has made life easier. But morally, for the most part, we’re the same. At least from where I’m sitting. Some say we’re worse. I’m not sure if that’s the case, but I don’t see the euphoria that all those self-help books and documentaries should have created if they worked.

As a writer, I spend a great deal of time studying others, and once I make it past the outward smile or the teeth-gritting stick-to-it-ness, I begin to see some very dark and lonely hearts. And although I am limited to the study of those with whom I am in contact with, from where I sit, it seems like those who frequent the self-help section the most are often some of the most miserable.

They’ll make progress for a while. They’ll read books, post notes to their mirrors, doorframes and cupboards, but over time, their best efforts fizzle, sometimes even leaving them worse than they were before. Where is the progress the five steps promise? Ah, but we’ve found the solution. We’ll just try another book, and then another, and then another. And if we try harder, and commit, next time will be different. We’ll find the perfect relationship, lose those pesky twenty pounds, eradicate our insecurities, and suddenly gain the confidence to feel comfortable in our skin. And so the never-ending cycle continues. Our drive for perfection, fueled by our momentary successes, until our lives are enslaved by goal sheets, to do lists, and frequently chanted affirmations.

Others seem to float through life on a perpetual cloud of peace. While some marriages fail, theirs deepens. While bitterness consumes others, they are filled with joy, peace, and increasing love. Not a love of convenient reciprocation, but a genuine love that bubbles from within, coloring all they see and do. And so, we raise them up onto our “self-help” pedestal and make an analysis of what they do, focusing on their outward behaviors instead of what drives them. We run for another rag and spruce up the outside of our cup, leaving the inside, our inner selves, untouched. Because stick-to-it-ness can only take us so far, and its effects will last but a moment. Life changes, real life changes, the kind only the Father can provide, last forever.

In Matthew 11:28 Jesus calls us to surrender our burdens so we can relax in His arms. “Come to Me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yours souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Jesus calls us to stop striving, grasping, reaching, and performing. He bids us to come to Him so that we may rest. And as we grow in Him, He takes care of all the rest.

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