What is  God  up  to - TODAY?

Phil Speer, M.A., S.T.B., Ph.D.

PREFACE: I believe God presented me with this concept to analyze. However, very few people will scrutinize the study because (1) few are interested in spiritual values, (2) few are willing to carve out time from other urgent or immediately-rewarding activities, and (3) few are simply reluctant to challenge the mind in deep study. The thrust of this investigation is that a camouflaged drama is in progress around us that can only be perceived through an accurate understanding of Scriptures. We have no facilities to detect this theater of war involving an invisible God and an invisible Satan, that is occuring within our own invisible mind - except through an accurate understanding of Scriptures. Once understood and visualized clearly, however, life takes on entirely different perspective! I never understood this dimension of "reality" until the scales fell from my own blinded eyes during examination of God's Word in recent years. Comprehensive awareness of this raging battle is never discovered through a casual reading of the Bible or through ritualistic church membership. Even an intense study of the Bible with "blinded eyes" cannot catch it. Regardless of whether you agree with all of my assumptions in this study, my hope is that it will guide you - as it has me - to perceive the invisible, active nature of God, our Creator, at work in your own life - right now! P.S.

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At some point amid the eons of time, God had a thought while roaming endless space.

His thought seems to have been something like:

"Within my mind, I conceive a unique creation, and I will originate existence into reality by speaking it out of nothing."

What was that moment in time like?

It is impossible for our little minds to picture the process, but God simply spoke, and conception instantly gave birth to reality.

It's as if we wanted a motorized vehicle for transportation that operated on the perfect source of cheap, replenishable energy. Like say, hydrogen, the combination of water and air. It's like we could just imagine, and just speak, and that vehicle would instantly appear - without years of analytical design, engineering trial and error, or problematic experimentation.

And so, God merely imagined and spoke the words, "heavens" and "earth," and they instantly appeared in the cosmos.

And he did that in a day!

Then, from pure thought, "water" ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ appeared.

And he did that in a day!

God just thought and spoke the idea of "plants," and from mental conception gushed forth multiplicity of every species of plants we have ever seen and read about. Instantly.

And he did that in a day!

God just thought and spoke the idea of "animals," and from mental conception gushed forth multiplicity of every species of animals we have ever seen and read about. Instantly.

And he did that in a day!

And finally, the crown jewel of creation, "a man."

"A man!"

The Marines thought they were first with the motto, "The Few." But God has always been searching for "just a few good men."

And women.

Semper Fidelis, or "Always Faithful," was adopted by the Marines in 1883 but the phrase dates back to the 14th century. The Marine Corps has always focused on a search for "The Few." While the Marines are looking for "The Few. The Proud.", God is simply looking for "The Few."

From the start, God came up with the idea of one man and his woman. He wanted them to be loyally dedicated to each other and to him. So he placed them in the Paradise of his creation, and enjoyed walking with them in the evening when it was cool!

It was bliss. All was ecstasy.

Adam enjoyed working with the fruit trees and raising a bountiful garden, without hearing Eve complain about how her daddy was a better farmer. And Eve enjoyed cooking a hearty square meal, without hearing Adam grumble about how his mother was such good cook.

Adam and Eve could not honestly complain about a thing. Everything was all good.Gen.1:31 They had it made! Life was a blast!

Adam was straight out of a "Mr.America Physique Contest," with supple, rippling muscles.

Eve was a "10." Maybe an "11."

God made them perfect.

It does not matter what you see when you stand naked in front of a full-length mirror after a bath. God made everything perfect when it all started out.

(And just for the sake of levity, how can the charmingly favored of the two sexes, a gorgeous young lady in her prime, look so attractive at 25 - and look so different only 50 years later!!!)

Adam and Eve opened their eyes at daybreak to the burst of effervescent joy in living. Their exploits of the day were endless excitement. Then at evening arm-in-arm together in quiet peacefulness under a giant oak tree atop a majestic towering mountain overlooking the countryside with countless valleys below, they watched the setting sun, asking God every imaginable question about the universe, life, and the future. And God cherished their love and adoration. It was a great life!

They had EVERYTHING they needed and wanted. Unpolluted, allergen-free air. Pristine water. The most sumptuous food any French cook could conjure up. Unblemished health. Satisfying sexual activity for each of them, with absolutely no desire for sex toys or porn houses. Enough challenge each day to stimulate the mind, but enough accomplishment at day's end to warrant peaceful rest in sleep at night.

No problems or pressures. No anxiety or stress. No worry. No fear. No pain. No depression.

Only excitement. True joy. Contentment. Peace. Love. Breath-taking discovery in every day.

There has never been a better description of happiness!

It was the abundant life!Jn.10:10 Tangible and spiritual blessings - every moment of every day! No need for a Lexus in the garage, or an excessive bank account. What they had was a free ride over each and every potential problem, for they had no problems. More of everything than they could handle. More than they could "ask or think!"Eph.3:20

But someone else was lurking in the shadows

Slinking in the background was a Celestial Being that didn't like all this! It was too perfect to suit him.

That Fallen Angel was bent and determined to change things. He wanted vengeance.

Long before this moment, Satan had rebelled against God in the heavens. God did not destroy Lucifer, the devil, for his rebellion, but expelled him from his presence. Seems that though God is sovereign Lord of the entire universe, he may not exercise his omnipotence to instantly crush those who oppose his goodness. God sometimes waits patiently for a change of heart in those who oppose his purpose. God champions the option to choose according to his will.

Satan had astonishing power of his own by the very nature of his being. A colossal cadre of angelic support attended him. God had allowed Satan and his entourage free reign with esprit de corps in the heavens! Jude 6-7 And Satan, the Power of Darkness, Acts 26:18; Col.1:13 could also transform himself to masquerade as an Angel of Light!!! 2 Cor.11:14

Satan roamed the entire cosmos, but he especially targeted this tiny little corner of the universe God had created as earth. He was looking for a way to get even. He was resolved to wreak havoc in revenge for his expulsion from the presence of God.

And it only took a nanosecond of time for Satan to slither into the Garden of Eden in the form of a snake...while Adam was away.

"Eve," the Salesman Serpent began his spiel. "Try this delicious apple pie recipe, and I guarantee, Adam will love it!"

"But God said 'don't eat that fruit,'" Eve wondered aloud.

"Naw," Satan retorted. "It'll make you as smart as God."

"Really?"

"Yeah," Satan built his case. "He knows that at the very moment you and Adam take a bite of that pie, YOU will become like God himself. He ain't that smart!!! You can have all the answers. You can make stuff like him, and even out-do his stuff. You can run this place, and you'll have a ball doing it. You'll have lots of fun. You don't have to listen to him."

"Well," Eve thought. "He does seem to know everything," she mulled. "And I sure would like to have his wisdom. Just think what Adam and I could do! And boy, does the picture of that pie look good on the crust box!"

So, Eve easily gave in, and she and Adam had a wonderful supper that night. It was their best yet.

But they could never begin to imagine the consequences of sitting down to eat such a simple, home-cooked meal!

God dropped by later. He knew what had happened. And he reminded them that he had given them only one restriction. That limitation, he said, was just for their own good. However, he said, choices have inherent results. "Whatever you sow, you'll reap." Gal.6:7 That's the law he had mandated in his creation of the universe. Now his only recourse for their disobedience was to enforce his demands. But as with Satan, God said he was not choosing to destroy Adam and Eve on the spot for their disobedience. He had given them the freedom to choose, just as he had given to Satan and his angelic host. Instead, God told them his choice was to grant them the CONSEQUENCE of their choice. Their original nature in creation would be changed to a natural craving for self-gratification, which deserves God's wrath.Eph.2:3

And with that solitary disobedient act, Adam and Eve were sentenced to a life of tiring work, unbelievable problems, and separation from the very answers to living the good life. AND SO WERE WE ALL - their subsequent offspring - sentenced and separated! The curse in the Garden became our curse.

"By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground." Gen.3:19

If you have ever wondered, THIS is why life is so tough today! This is why we face problem after insurmountable problems. Satan distorts life, and we encounter problem after catastrophic problems, no matter how much we try or how much we cry. Problems are the inevitable and unending "sweat" foaming from our daily work inherited from the curse in the Garden.

Before the Sin-Curse-that-Changed-our-Nature, Adam and Eve had No Problems-No Sweat, and entered day's end contented and tranquil. But with Problems and Sweat, we face each evening tired, exhausted and stressed!

We all have problems. In fact, our lives are filled with problems, one after another, like a non-ending Soap Opra! Yet, we spend so much of our time trying to camouflage our problems from the world! The lives we live "behind closed doors" are not at all the lives we present to the public! So, no one can comprehend the murder-suicide of the "perfect family" who was so beloved in the neighborhood, school and civic affairs, and church circles.

The "sweat" caused from our day-to-day problems - whether we are housewife or an executive CEO of a Fortune 500 - is a normal part of every person's life. It starts the moment we bawl and squall as a hungry newborn baby. And it has nothing to do with whether we believe in God or not. Believing in God does not grant immunity from the bad garbage we inherited from Adam and Eve's curse. In fact, believers get just as much of a dose from "bad things happening" as unbelievers. Don't many believers look at God as some "Help-Me-Make-It-Through-the-Night" kind of God? But there is no such thing as "bribing" God with your piety to "earn" or "gain" exemption from the problems of life. God is not your Antique Cosmic Bellhop with cap and uniform and handy pen and notepad to run your errands. He is not your doting Rich Ole Granddad to dole out deserved inheritance like candy, or your Divine Sugar-Daddy to pamper you with goodies or whatever you think you deserve. We deserve nothing from simple "belief-status" or "church membership." All we deserve is the granting of blessings that meet his approval in harmony with his will, not expectations from our self-absorbed whimpering. Faith is conquest over and through the "bad garbage" and entitles us to God's blessings in accord with his will in his own time, but never as an escape from problems just because we "appeased" or "pampered" God. We are having problems every day because problems are the aftereffect of Adam and Eve's choice!

God had more or less said, "I'm just looking for a few good men and women."

It was a monumental episode in history.

In fact, it was so consequential to our everyday affairs in life that our little gray matter cannot possibly comprehend the ramifications.

And it was at this historical juncture in time that God began his remarkable unfolding activity for ages to come in his search for "a few good men and women." And Satan began his stealthy stalk like a hungry roaring lion to trick more gullible "Adam and Eves" into The Trap. Satan was bent on hurling every imaginable temptation in every situation on every person in every generation. Satan wants his "pound of flesh" by binding us in his clutches.

But God began his arduous mission from the start with a handicap!

His blueprint, even in the Garden, was an attempt to attract men and women who would choose to honor and obey him. God never intended to mandate recognition, belief, or loyalty. The handicap he imposed on himself was to principally remain invisible to human senses. (He was not even "around" when Adam and Eve made their fateful decision to eat forbidden fruit!) He wanted to be recognized as sovereign by faith. He wanted us to SEE him IN OUR MIND. It is in OUR MIND he wants us to see him as the SUPREME RULER and AUTHORITY of the entire universe ~ ~ ~ WITHOUT CONFIRMATION of SENSUAL EXPERIENCE, but with MENTAL VERIFICATION through RATIONAL EVIDENCE. Insects don't have this capacity of thinking in the mind. Plants don't have it. Other primates don't have it. Only man. And the mind he endowed in us - beyond the physical brain he gave to all of us creatures - was the tool he expected us to utilize in personally discovering his existence. That mind could be used in many other human endeavors, but it was primarily granted us as the device or mechanism for detecting him without the benefit of sensual proof.

This was the beginning point stamped in time in which God embarked on an unfolding drama. The ages of time will ultimately climax when God reopens the everlasting Paradise of Bliss out of which Adam and Eve were cast. And once again God will commune with those "few good men and women" he has discovered along the way. God invitingly knocks on the door of every man's heartRev.3:20 and is not willing for any to be left behind,2 Pet.3:9 but he knows that only the few choose the narrow path. And when he reopens Paradise again, Bliss will last forever for those chosen few that have chosen God rather than Satan.

So this story marks the beginning of God's book, the Bible.

And in this story, God began laying out his plan for sorting those "few good men and women" from the rest.

But what a job lay before him.

The God of the Bible

But wait a minute. Maybe I am confused. This first story in the Bible assumes that God is sovereign of the universe, not Adam or Eve. But in our contemporary world, we humans presume control.

Husbands attempt to control their wives. Wives attempt to control their husbands.

Parents try to control their children. Children try to control their parents. The family picnic or the family vacation can end in tears over a control issue. The battle within families really rages during the teen years. Or reading the will at inheritance time.


Friends vie for control of each other in the social pecking order. Strangers at a bar are attracted to each other because of mutual behavioral needs. The battered wife finally gets a divorce from one tyrant, and seeks replacement with another tyrant. In Berne's Games People Play, the "I gotcha, you S.O.B." personality described in Transactional Analysis is always searching for the "Pity Poor Me" personality. And the "Pity Poor Me" guy or gal is always searching for the "I gotcha, you S.O.B."

Politicians become control-freaks. Political factions and political parties polarize.

Corporations vie for control of employees with salary caps and reward benefits. Management levels are given rules. Supervisors have constraints. And employees fight back with union walkouts and subtle paybacks, like stealing pens and snoozing when unsupervised.

We proudly announce our conquest of space with trips to the moon and Mars. Why, even the weather forecast on TV each night almost implies that we are in charge of nature - at least we can predict future calamities with Doppler radar! Seems the lesson life tries to impress on us is that we humans learn to manage control with power and manipulation. Or, maybe with wily smarts or education. Or, "right time - right place." Even the Terminator can change the world. Seems control is the primary concern of life among the beasts of the field, as well as in the social realm of human behavior.

So, who is in control in this world? Is it God or man? Which really has sovereignty in life?

1. Are we humans actually the gods of the universe?

Or, does common sense mandate the conclusion that some higher being must be superior to ourselves?

Have you and I just simply evolved from an ape? Is it simply Mother Nature - not Father God - that causes droughts, tsunamis, tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, and earthquakes? Can you imagine - even after you actually see - how the extraordinary power of a tornado can penetrate the trunk of an aged oak tree with the slender sliver of a tiny fragment of hay straw, or gently toss a helpless baby from its cradle in the storm to over a mile away from home to land nestled high in the branches of a tree - alive???

Are those medical marvels and creations from "life in the test tube" just an advanced capability to create the Super Race? Hitler assumed genetic breeding could create the Super Race, but the current assumption is that we can create life from experiments in a lab with enough advancement in technological knowledge.

As we often say, "Just look how far we have come!"

Must be just a hair from absolute control!

But gaze even momentarily at the gorgeous beauty of an orchid. Or, study the incomparable form of a weeping willow compared to the heaven-tilted branches of an oak. What laboratory can duplicate it? Who can surpass this creation? Maybe we can manipulate the genes, but can we create the genes? If cute Panda Bears are really that adorable, why doesn't some Chinese manufacturer just mass-produce them in some overseas lab so every kid can have one to match their Barbie Doll? After all, Louise Brown was the world's first successful "test-tube" baby born on July 25, 1978 in Great Britain. Why do we need human birth? Let's change nature's reproductive system!

The graduates parading from the halls of higher learning are intoxicated with optimism from their professors that unlimited potential is innately intrinsic. And so do the long rows of shelves offering self-help books in libraries and retail stores!

Do we slightly infer that we can eventually get all the answers, even though we might not audaciously boast of possessing all the answers yet?

But no Einstein is needed to conclude that man is not supreme, superior, paramount or greatest of everything and over everything.

The biggest braggart and strongest bully can always be beaten by someone else. Even in the Bible, the braggadocios, nine-foot giant Goliath - with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, who challenged the army of Israel with his mammoth size - was instantly killed by a single, small, smooth stone shot from the sling of a rugged but pint-size 16 year old boy.

We see all the time how the greatest person among us in any walk of life and with any distinction...can even stumble over themselves! None of us are dealing with a full deck of cards! Even the foremost among us can shoot himself in the foot with some stupid, self-inflicted miscalculation or the slip of the tongue!

But up until our Age of Information, man usually looked up to something or somebody other than himself.

The only exception has been those few vain, boastful souls that imagine veneration in Ripley's Believe or Not or The Guinness Book of Records. We have generally recognized our inferior position in the creation, despite our superior position in the ranks of the animal kingdom.

In today's pseudo-sophistication, some read their horoscope each day in the newspaper with absurd hopes that the columnist can somehow determine individual destiny with a one-size-fits-all prediction to all expectant readers.

However, psychologically, man has tended to attribute to deity what he cannot understand, manage or control.

Primitive man experienced fire, storms, and death, and gave names to what he could not understand, manage or control.

The pagans, or heathens, were polytheistic. It made more sense to them to give names and distinctive personalities to the unknowns in life and to whatever was unexplainable.

The Greeks became profuse at naming (and worshiping) their gods. Zeus was the king of gods. Athena was the goddess of wisdom. Hades was the god of the underworld. Demeter was the goddess of fertility. Hermes was the god of flight.

When we really think about our position and our standing in the scheme of life, and when we get down to common sense, most of us still usually admit that something or somebody is greater than us!!!

2. So since we humans are forced to conclude that we truly are not the gods of the universe by honest observation and logic, we must ask, "Who is?"

The God of the Bible stands alone in asserting that HE is that something and somebody that is greatest of all. He controls the waves of the sea, and even the wind obeys his command.Mk.4:35-41 And this God asserts that he is unique among all so-called "gods" known to man.

The God of the Bible is unlike any god conjured up in man's mind in claiming that he has always been existent, and that he is the sole architect, engineer, and creator of the universe.

We humans can either accept that supposition, or reject it. We cannot prove either conclusion, even with the most powerful microscope or with the Hubble telescope. But whatever assumption we accept, every subsequent decision in life is based on that "faith." We all have "faith" God exists or "faith" God does not exist. Every minute detail in our thought-determining and decision-making process reflects a faith grounded in whichever conclusion we have chosen.

This God of the Bible claims to be omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. God is. This is his claim within the very book that he calls his "Word."

"I am the Lord" appears over 150 times in Scriptures. God claims he is the "one Lord" above all gods.1 Chron.16:25; Ps.53:15; 97:9; 135:5; Deut.6:4; Isa.9:6

And because of his supreme position, God wants exclusive recognition. In the Ten Commandments, God calls himself "a jealous God"Ex.20:5 who refuses to play second-fiddle to the worship of any other god fantasized in the mind of man. The first of the Ten Commandments in the Law of Moses that came directly from God's personal voice was, "You shall have no others gods before me."

The specific identity of this God - that is, God's precise nature and character - cannot be found outside the content of the document that God calls his revealed Word. Yes, we can see evidences of God in creation, but no specific identity is available of him apart from his revealed Word. God claims to have spoken or given to mankind this revealed Word via a series of statements and events throughout the ages since the creation. Specific knowledge of this God can only be determined through a disciplined study of this Word of God that is a self-defining manual - called inspired and inerrant by God himself.

Because the God of the Bible is unique among all religions of the world, there is no other god like him in any of man's beliefs.

We all - every last one of us - must and do come to a point in our thought process to either accept or reject the God of the Bible as authentic, genuine and factual.

Acceptance is a mental process known as faith in this unseen God that is incapable of tangible proof.

Acceptance is based on logical, definitive evidence concluded only through careful, minute scrutiny of God's Word, using the innate power of our brain that has been trained in the capacity of reasoning.

Acceptance is based on understanding the only known resource of this God in the document which is claimed to be the inspired and inerrant revelation he has provided in the Word of God.

If we are going to understand what God is up to - in his plan for the world and in our own lives - we must first assume an acceptance of him as sovereign.

If we are going to understand what God is up to, we must have "faith" God exists as sovereign.

And in this simple assent, our lives begin to change. The intervention of God intrudes our confused and meandering life only after acceptance of his reality through faith. Change transforms our life as we believe the invisible by accepting his word as meaningful, applicable truth.

No man can know the mind of GodIsa.55:8-9

While we can't begin to know all of God's mind, some things become pretty clear.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to discover that we people are at the top of the animal kingdom.

Our "brain" matter gives us this superior position, but the distinctive character of "mind" goes far beyond any analysis of tangible evidence.

We can easily examine brain matter with the microscope, but understanding the mind escapes Dr.Phil, and the best psychologist and psychiatrist in town.

The mind, not the brain, possesses abstract concepts we identify with terms, such as "intuition," "premeditative thoughts," "instinct," and "mental resolve." What we absolutely know and understand about these abstract concepts (and so much more of what is sometimes called "the psyche") are simply manifested symptoms or actions that we have identified with names. We cannot hold these abstract concepts in our hands, or see them with our eyes.

The mind is the intangible operation within the brain, but yet much more than just brain matter.

The mind is the element, substance or process that reasons, thinks, feels, wills, perceives and judges. In psychology, the mind is the conscious and unconscious mental process and activity.

The best psychological approaches to mental science and the makeup of our mentality are only guesses and postulations at best, and are certain to change with new studies and with each new generation.

The science of psychology concludes that man has an intangible mind, besides a physiological brain.

Nowhere does the Bible say God has a brain. The revealed Word does, however, say God has a mind.Rom.8:27 Surely, a bridge must span God's mind and man's mind, since we were created "in his image."Gen.1:27 Is this where we get our "reasoning capacity?" Is this how we get "creativity?"

Our inquiry into what God is up to is a search into the mind of God.

And our reaction to God is a search into our own minds as we reason about the sovereign God.

Sin in the Garden tainted our mind, and only God can open our mind in renewal. Rom.12:2; Ac.16:14

As top beings in the animal kingdom, God today has given free choice to you and me, just as he did to Adam and Eve, and even Satan. God is basically concerned with our mental or thinking process, because thought triggers behavior. We make choices within the citadel of the mind. Choices always have consequences. God puts choices into two categories. He calls "bad choices" as "sin." And sin is rebellion to his sovereignty as creator. God is searching for those "few good men and women" who honor him with obedient choices to his Will, as determined within their mind.

So, God's quest, since closing down the Garden, has been to find "the few." How he finds them gives us a clue for knowing what God is up to.

So, what can we know about what God is up to?

God wanted "good men and women."

And he wanted to give them the best of the best. He wanted to provide eternal ecstasy in Paradise for them. He wanted to continuously mingle with them in communal relationship.

So after his disappointment with Adam and Eve's choice in the Garden of Eden, God began his mission - now being continued through all the following ages - to restore Paradise for those "few good men and women" who choose to honor him with recognition and obedience.

To this point in time, Satan, God's Adversary, had been very successful in tempting the human race. Satan was proving to be a substantial opponent.

(And unlike the authors of books today, God was recording all of his failure within the pages of his own book!!!)

So, God decided to start over with just a family of eight. (The first couple had failed the test, so let's try it with eight!)

Can God get it done with Noah?

This time he chose a faithful trooper in a man named Noah. Gave him quite a task. God said, "You are miles from any sea or ocean, but I want you to give a Water Alert, a Flood Warning, to the sinful people around you. The message I want you to pass on to those wicked people: "God is going to create a flood to drown those who refuse to believe me."

Well, Noah preached the same sermon every day for over a hundred years. 2 Pet.2:5 His neighbors were certain the man was crazy! Exhibiting even more eccentricity, Noah shocked his neighbors with the absurdity of beginning construction on the hull and bulkheads of a huge ship bigger than the size of an NFL football field that would float during the coming flood he was predicting! And the sermons and the construction went on for over a century! Talk about a worn-out sermon! "Ole Noah is one more crack-pot," they wagged, as they went on their merry way doing whatever they wanted to do to please themselves.

Now at this time, man had never seen a drop of water fall from the sky. In fact, until that moment, there had never been a cloud in the sky. God had watered earth from dew that swelled up from the ground. No wonder the town folks never gave credence to Noah's sermon predicting a flood!

But when the final caulking was completed on that enormous boat and the crew of eight and their cargo had boarded, the first drop of rain fell.

Just a sprinkle at first.

A light mist.

And then a drizzle. And then a shower. And then a thunderstorm. And then torrents of frog-strangling rain splashed down from the sky.

And after that, it seemed the buckets of water would never stop.

Before it was over, the water gushed in vast waves over the top of the tallest house and even over the tallest trees and mountain tops.

And the strongest and toughest of those men scratched their fingers to the bone on the boat's stern while hysterically attempting to buccaneer it as they struggled to swim for the first time.

Until every last one of 'em drowned.

Forty days later the rain stopped, but the water did not subside for almost a year. Then Noah, his family, and the lading of every kind of creature Noah had gathered into the boat...began streaming in single file out onto dry land.

Only one man and his family had been left. Now God had cleansed the entire world with a flood. He had started over.

Don't know about you, but this experience would have scared me to death!

But God's Purging Accomplished Little

The offspring of Noah soon scattered across the nearby continents of the world, and before long, the most vile of all civilizations developed in the city of Babel. These citizens were so brazenly egotistical that they determined to build a staircase to wind up into the sky. Without instruments to measure the height between earth and heavenly expanse, they reasoned that a tower aimed toward heaven would be a feat to prove that they themselves were sovereign of the universe. They wanted to be god, thereby displacing God!

Each added brick raised the steps to the next higher level leading skyward toward the heavens...until God stopped them in their tracks. God stopped them on their own steps. Suddenly they began to speak in gibberish, and could not understand each other! They began to babble! Unable to converse intelligently, their efforts were terminated.

God confused their languages because of their arrogance, and so the consequential lingual problem was begun in international communication today.

So far, Satan had won this battle in seducing man with his temptations. He had won with Adam and Eve. As the world then populated, Satan succeeded in corrupting its inhabitants so that God had destroyed the world with a flood. Then, Satan had succeeded again with Babel, until God brought their ambition to an end. If God had any sense of shame or pride, why would he hang all his nasty wash of failures out on the line for all the world to see?

But God doesn't get in a hurry. What we preciously measure as time is a different dimension to God. "A day to the Lord is as thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." 2 Pet.3:8 Just as God's ways are not our ways.

According to the Word of God, he knew this would happen. Nothing surprises God. He knows the outcome in advance. He knows the sequence ahead of time. God does not have to guess or wonder how the future will turn out. He knows. All was in his mind before the world began.2 Tim.1:19; Tit.1:2; Eph.1:4 And God had a plan. He announced it when he removed Adam and Eve from the Paradise of Bliss. He had then declared to "bruise the head of Satan" Gen.3:15 in reference to the plan of salvation through Jesus Christ.

And everything fits into his plan! Everything is "up-to-the-minute" in God's plan. Exactly on target. Exactly according to his blueprint. And how can God keep up with the billions of humans on earth? Well, how can he keep up with the billions of stars in the heavens without constant collisions? Yet, God never takes away our freedom of choice. What a paradox!!!

(OK, even if the Big Bang theory initially set forth by Belgian Roman Catholic priest, Monsignor Georges LemaÓtre, claims that the galaxies of the universe are in constant expansion... maybe there is a God who started it all and controls it all!)

So God had start all over - once again - in his campaign to win the hearts of those "few good men and women" who would pledge full allegiance to him. Good thing he was not in a political campaign trying to win an election - he had a poor record of success!

Now we humans with our limited sense of perspective cannot comprehend all of this happening at the beginning of time. It escapes human understanding. It is mind-boggling.

So God recorded all this history in that special book of his called the Bible that covers these past events. In our fast-paced world today, we cannot recall what we had to eat yesterday, not to mention something shrouded from years ago. To relive antiquity, the relapsed must be vividly introduced into the present. This can be accomplished because ancient history in the Biblical account corresponds with all of man's records of historical events salvaged from the past. Congruity of these ancient accounts in the Bible with other chronicled and archeological records is assurance of the Bible's authenticity that claims "every Scripture is inspired of God."

What's the bet on God's chances for success?

Really, now, God had not done very well. He was leaving his success entirely up to man's free choice, usually refusing to enter into his life in any kind of supernatural way until he expressed at least the most elementary degree of "faith" by just slightly believing he existed. God was having trouble finding even "faith as a grain of mustard seed!"Lu.17:6

Man's free choice was just not cutting it! Almost every time, men and women chose "the good life." They wanted to "live it up." They were all about "me-first." Would God, could God, ever get beyond what he had experienced with Adam and Eve???

Rednecks in the South might greet you with "Whatcha bin upta?"

You might start a fist fight if you reply, "5'5" or 6'4"." That's not the right answer for some ole country boy with a hot temper! The greeting is just aimed at inquiring about your latest activities, not about your height!

Since we want to understand the mind of God, we are inquiring, "What is God up to?" Yes, the question breaks the rules of English grammar by ending with a preposition, just like ending with a dangling participle. But we are just curious about "what in the name of purpose and activity is this supreme God all about???"

It is becoming obvious that God did not wind up the world like a clock, and gone off into a corner of the heavens to sleep it off until the clock runs down to the last minute. Nor is God sitting in a rocking chair up in heaven like an old man, sucking on a Maalox baby bottle, worrying and hoping everything is going to turn out right. God spent six days in creating the world, and then rested. But Jesus informed us that his Father is "still working to this very day!"Jn.5:17 God is actively at work to achieve a purpose. He is vigorously scrutinizing every person in every day to discover and amplify any signal of "faith."

The first generations of man had failed so miserably in falling for Satan's ploys, what could God do?

Would Satan out-maneuver God?

Vegas would never place their bets on God!

So...what could God do next, to be more successful than before?


Chasing the end of the rainbow usually ends up at an outhouse!

God decided to start a race of people. Yes, a race! A family, clan or bloodline, with its own distinct culture. A unique "people" within humanity, established with a covenant between God and a specific man. A race of people who would be later known as the Jews.

But think about it. God had failed with a single couple in the Garden of Eden. Though he had saved Noah and his family of eight in the flood after God had failed with that generation, Noah's successive generation then failed him at Babel.

And now God was going to start a race of people???

But to start a race of people, God had to extract a solitary man with a wife to propagate that race of people.





And of all places for God to set out on the next juncture, he looked for this special solitary man in the corrupt city of Ur of the Chaldees where Satan had built a stronghold of cheerleaders for himself! Why was God so intent on positioning himself as the underdog???

The pagan worshipers in Ur had created idols for every event in life that was bewildering to them, like fire, thunder, lightning and fertility. God had left Ur to revel in their paganism. But from that city he decided to hand-pick this solitary man named Abram.

Why pick Abram?

God selected him because Abram had actually come to believe in the supreme God as a separate identity from all the idol gods his neighbors recognized and worshiped. Abram saw God in his mind as sovereign, even while he paid homage to the pagan idols in regular daily ritual. Gen.15:2 ("Lord" = "Sovereign")

Yet God had remained invisible to him. Abram had no King James Bible to read about God at that time. Abram had never heard God speak at that time. Abram had never encountered God in any heavenly vision at that time. Abram was truly remarkable for believing that a sovereign God who was invisible was, in fact, supreme, while all the other gods his neighbors worshiped were visible! Abram had just come to this awareness through his own rational insight!

Yet, Abram "discovered" God in the same way in which all men may "discover" God. The "discovery" of the invisible God occurs through thoughtful insight, and is enunciated in Scripture: "Ever since God created the world, his invisible qualities, both his eternal power and his divine nature, have been clearly seen; they are perceived in the things that God has made. So those people have no excuse at all!" Rom.1:20 All people may perceive the invisible God. All of God's invisible qualities may be clearly seen. All people are without excuse if they fail to perceive God! All. All. All.Tit.2:11; Rom.1:16-20

Abram was an ordinary man in a typical Eastern city of his day. Farmers and bartering businessmen engaged in normal daily affairs, while keeping their wives subservient in taking care of home and children. All of these people around him faced usual happenings they could not understand, like engulfing dust storms and crop failures. These reminders kept all primitive men in a state of submissiveness to the unknown world. Each unknown had been branded as a distinct god. Each had a distinct ceremony for appeasement. Abram had grown up in this typical primitive environment of heathen worship. He knew the names of this assortment of gods by heart, as did all of his neighbors. The strong power of mental conditioning had colored his thinking, as it had with all of his neighbors. His own father was fervently dedicated to these idols. But yet, strange as it seems, Abram had reached an entirely different conclusion about the existence of deity, entirely unlike his parents and neighbors!

Abram reasoned that there had to be a God over all other gods and over all of human life. He had concluded that there must be a sovereign God, so he called him "Lord," meaning "Sovereign. Gen.15:2 ("Lord" = "Sovereign") How had the mind of this solitary man arrived at such a conclusion? One thing we know by putting together all the pieces of the puzzle. Abram arrived at this conclusion in his mind of his own free choice and volition. No one, including God, forced him to his conclusion.

And God, by virtue of his creation of man, could inspect and examine Abram's heart and mind. God saw Abram's "faith," just as he had seen the lack of obedient faith in Adam and Eve in the Garden.

Maybe God had found his man.

God decided to have a little talk with Abram.

We are not told where he was when it happened. Maybe he was alone outside the city. Maybe he was plowing his barley field with his donkey. Maybe it was in the early hours of morning when he meditated on life. Whenever and wherever it was, there is no doubt that this frightening and awesome wonder of God's sudden and unannounced appearance was majestic. Who can imagine Abram's experience when a voice without a body clearly said, "Abram, leave your daddy and your relatives, and head out to a land I'll give you." Must have taken this old man by surprise! And it sure changed his plans for life!

God told Abram to leave his father who was so submerged and dominated by pagan idol worship. That within itself went counter with social mores, because respect for the eldest within families was traditional. Yet Abram even abandoned revered cultural tradition because of the cold, fuzzy, foggy faith he had vaguely adopted when he heard the voice of God.

So Abram left home and inheritance to begin a hard nomadic life with his wife. All of his family and neighbors thought he was nuts. His mom did not like it either.

God had selected his man.

Abram had chosen to listen to the voice of God. Then God extracted him from his polytheistic influences. And when Abram left Ur, he only had the shirt on his back and a few scruffy, scrawny, mangy cows. (Before long, he had acquired quite a bit more in Haran.) Gen.11:27-32; 12:5; 14:15 But Abram had no idea where he was going!!!Heb.11:8

What would you do? Would you load up furniture and belongings in a U-Haul and head west, like the '49ers during the Gold Rush? But instead of having a destination in mind, how would you feel if you had pulled out of your driveway pulling your load, but had no map for your journey and did not know which way to turn at the first red light?

Yeah, his nephew Lot wanted to tag along, too. This town was boring to him and his wife. They were looking for some new exciting adventure. They wanted more of the good times in the fast lane.

But God had only selected one man and his wife. They had no children, so God had no race. Could God pull this off?

Indeed later, Abram became even more isolated from kinsfolk when he sent Lot on his way down the road to give their clans a little more breathing room.

Lot had been attracted to the bright lights and sinful night life of Sodom and Gomorrah. The homosexuality of these twin cities was so detestable to God that he decided to utterly destroy them. He could not find even ten "righteous people" in a population of 500,000. Gen.18:23-32 But God gave Lot and his wife just one chance to escape the destruction. So, they packed to leave. But as they were scurrying with their stubborn donkeys while God's fiery bolts of lightning began to rain down from heaven, the thought of leaving was more than Lot's wife could bear. Agony was swelling in her infected mind at the increasing realization of leaving her friends and their wild parties. As she turned back to kiss farewell to one of her best friends, she went down with the hailstorm holocaust of burning sulphur.Gen.19:24 She, too, like her friends, instantly died in the heated meltdown as a pillar of salt. And the final thought in her mind as she was cremated was regret for abandoning her exciting lifestyle.

Now Abram and his wife were all alone.

Don't know about you, but this experience would have scared me to death!

All family and relatives were gone. Abram's band of bedouins was isolated and vulnerable targets in the desert. Daily life camping in tents and the struggle for existence was much harder than in the bustling city of Ur. No holidays for the whole family to get together to carve turkey or exchange gifts. They were alone. Going somewhere, but not knowing where. Doing something, but not knowing what. What was life all about?

But with this unusual turn of events, God was just beginning the difficult challenge he had taken on himself in finding those "few good men and women" as a "race" of people, and cultivating a growing "faith" in them.

His challenge was unbelievable. His task seemed impossible. His risks made success improbable.

And just think - God, as sovereign, could have rigidly required obedience in exact compliance, with instant execution dictated for disobedience!

Why, what a job God found out he was going to have - even with Abram! Yes, Abram had chosen to believe God, but his "faith" was green as a gourd!

With God's luck so far, how in the world could he manage to cultivate a growing faith in even this single man he had chosen? Would his faith grow? Or, would it die on the vine? Suppose Abram's faith was countered with nagging doubts from his wife? How could God cultivate an entire family with permanent, enduring faith? Could their faith survive the tests and trials of a life span to pass on to the following generation? Could God possibly succeed in creating a race of his own people to eventually lead them all in a return to Paradise? These are not odds for a betting man.

The account of God's difficulty with men and woman with a frail belief is a story within itself.

But the fact is - as admittedly confirmed by God's own account in the Word of God - that God selected the most unusual (and often, weakest and least capable) of human beings in the strangest of events and circumstances. Then he gave them a choice to take part in fulfilling the unpredictable twist of encounters leading to his predestined culmination. He used each of them in a different way on one invariable condition:

they had to believe in him and submit their will to his will.

And that belief was focused on an unseen, invisible, intangible God. And their submission was directed toward an unseen, invisible, intangible God.

That was it.

Just belief.

Just trust.

Just "faith."

Just a reasoned confidence Heb.11:19 in a self-proclaimed sovereign God who was incapable of definitive proof to the five human senses, and unidentifiable except through his claims.

Just taking God at his word. Just accepting God and his statements as fact, with conviction that his promises are true. Just "seeing" what was "invisible." Heb.11:27 Conviction and certitude in what he says.

Now, if the believer simply believed (and nothing more), God was promising to take him by the hand to lead him on to a victorious life of service. No high IQ needed. No celebrated talent required. No important status offered. No applauded achievement guaranteed. Just plain ole people. Just simple help with his cause. He was only promising that an unpredictable series of happenings would roll out to make the path straight if..."faith" was followed by submission.

Pretty simple.

Pretty awesome.

Pretty breath-taking.

Pretty risky.

Pretty scary!

The story is so bizarre!

No other story in any of the world's voluminous libraries can compare with this long, strange account. It is a story that defies imagination!

The story includes a royal member of Pharaoh's house who had a life-long temper problem. He even killed an Egyptian citizen in anger. But God turned him into a compassionate leader, and let Moses write the first five books of the Bible.

The story includes a stubborn, dogmatic personality determined not to lose an argument - a man who was even a fanatical murderer, like Paul. Yet, God mellowed his heart and redirected his energies, and allowed him to write 13 books of the New Testament.

The story includes dysfunctional families, like the sons of Jacob who plotted to kill their own brother, but sold Joseph into slavery instead. Then God used this single jealous act to change the history of an entire nation.

The story of God's strange paradoxes includes an adulterer, like King David. Yet, when David repented, God called him "a man after his own heart."

The story includes an impulsive blabber-mouth, who was quick to champion one cause and then swear to the opposite, like Peter. He assured Jesus he would never leave him, and then swore to a maid that he didn't even know him.

The story includes deserters like the chosen apostles who proclaimed loyalty to Jesus. But they returned to their fishing boats after he was dead and dangling from nail-pierced hands and a peg supporting his crotch on a Roman cross. Their dreams died at the foot of his cross!

The story includes fornicators, homosexual perverts, thieves, drunks, greedy embezzlers, and depraved party-goers...who changed their lifestyle because they came to see a better life offered by the invisible God and became part of "the chosen few." 1 Cor.6:9-11

And the story even includes a traitor, like Judas, who kissed his rabbi teacher to mark his identity in the darkness of night so 500 armed soldiers could seize just Jesus who carried no sword...in exchange for 30 pieces of silver he could pocket.

How could God do that???

What was God up to with all this???

But let's go back to Abram.

"Faith"

God had finally found just one "good man," and set out to create a race of followers through this man with his elementary belief in God's invisible existence. Abram had lots of faults, but he had this one crucial quality that attracted God's favor ~ ~ ~

"faith."

God was so pleased with Abram that he changed his name from Abram (meaning "father of a noisy multitude") to Abraham (meaning "father of many nations by covenant"). And God called Abraham "the Father of all those who believe!"

With the discovery of this one man, God declared his fundamental criterion for the "few good men and women" for whom he had been searching: "faith," or belief in his unseen nature.

God had found just one man from among so many since he had started the world. He had looked for this primary, essential quality in Adam and Eve. He had searched the hearts of each and every man and woman as they had traveled from the cradle to the grave.

But now...that he had discovered this one man, Abraham...

how could God, even though sovereign of the universe and creator of the physical world, manifest through Abraham a plan that could clearly demonstrate and draw ALL other men and women who desired to return to the ecstasy of Paradise Bliss?

But let's switch scenes to September 11, 2001.

9/11

For the first time in U.S. history, "9/11" introduced the terms Muslim and Islam to the overwhelming populace of Americans.

Oh, we heard about the Muslims when three-time former heavyweight boxing champ, Cassius Clay, converted to Islam in 1964. No one knew much about the Nation of Islam even after Clay later converted to Sunni Islam in 1975, and then to Sufism, the mystical dimension of Islam.

Now we know that about one billion Muslims inhabit the globe, the second largest religion in the world - representing 22% of the world's religion, second only to Christianity's 33% of the world's inhabitants.

Some sects of Islam, estimated at 10-20% of the religion, are dedicated to wiping out the Jewish nation (and America), no matter how long or what method it takes. They are intently dedicated to accomplishing their goal. They teach their children to hate, even as babies. They teach their children to kill before they reach kindergarten age. Their vitriolic fanaticism is more intense than any emotion we Americans have ever evoked for any objective in life! (Except perhaps, the desire for Self-Pleasure, or hedonism.)

And who could imagine that these radicals...

prefer, favor, fancy, elect, choose, decide on, and even crave...

death to life??? How could any mother strap an explosive device to her baby, or hide a poisonous liquid bomb in a baby bottle, for a suicidal flight mission?

But this isn't the first time the Jews and the Muslims have been at each other's throats.

Remember that good ole Abram, raised in a polytheistic heathen culture and worshiping many idol statues, had somehow come to believe in the invisible God.

But it wasn't enough to God for Abram to simply have a random thought in his head about God's unseen being. Now God had to cultivate Abram's cold, fuzzy, foggy faith. Now he was going to test his claimed faith. Now he was going to deepen his claimed faith. Now he was going to hammer out his claimed faith on the anvil of real life drama well-beyond simple philosophical theory, and toss it into the blazing furnace of experiential purging and refinement.

So here's how it went.

After simple belief...

Abram and his wife Sarai had a problem, reminiscent of the husband and wife couple, Adam and Eve. The first couple became obsessed with a new recipe that they decided to enjoy together. Adam and Eve refused to take God at his Word. Abram and Sarai were delirious when the old childless couple were promised a baby boy. But they too refused to take God at his Word. They refused to wait on God's Planned Parenthood Program.

Abram was 75 years old when God first promised him a son. Gen.12:1-4; 16:3; 17:1 His wife Sarai was pretty old too. At 65, she knew she was beyond the age of fertility. She even laughed later when she heard God's own messenger announce that she would have a baby!Gen.18:12 Yet this God in which Abram claimed to believe told Abram he would have a son.

Good news to Abram, but not likely.

Abram had placed his trust in this unseen God when he severed roots from Ur. But time went by, and Abram reached 99 and Sarai was 89. God reiterated his promise of a son to this old couple. But was this faith of Abram somehow ready to believe Sarai could still get pregnant? It just didn't happen to old gals like Sarai then, any more than now.

And just for the sake of levity for those ancient old-timers who thought the honeymoon was over after marriage years ago, Abram and Sarai were still having sex at their century mark, even though their hope for a promised son had sagged!

Nothing was happening. Was he incontinent? Why couldn't Sarai get pregnant? Had he heard God right? The news of a baby boy got Abram excited, but thrilling expectations turn sour after a long wait. Maybe Abram could help out this unseen God. Maybe God expected him to be a little aggressive.

After all, he knew very little about God! And this unseen God didn't come around much. His only contact with God was a very occasional visit every decade or two, and then could he be sure that the visit was not just fantasy in his imagination???

Suppose your daddy came around, only about once every 10 or 20 years, or so?

Suppose you could only talk with your father only once or so in your life?

Sarai, too, got tired of waiting on the promise of a baby. So, the trusting wife she was, she suggested a little hanky-panky. "Slip into the next tent with my maid, Hagar, tomorrow night and have a little fun getting her pregnant. She can have a baby, and that will give us the son God promised. I sure would like a little bawling, squalling young'un running around the house. I'm female, you know."

Abram said, "That sounds like a great idea to me!" After all, he reasoned, maybe God didn't mean that the promised son would necessarily come from Sarai.

I'll bet Abram thought their scheme was perfect. After all, the young Hagar became pregnant pretty quickly, and, lo and behold, Abram was the father of a cute little cuddly baby boy. Hagar named her son, Ishmael.

God's promises are faithful and true, but a sovereign God delivers only on his own schedule.

So even after Abram and Sarai had this little monster running in diapers around the tent, God made another visit to Abram. Instead of reprimanding Abram for sinful disobedience and lack of faith, God reiterated his promise that Abram and Sarai would have that promised son. And now Ishmael was 14 years old!

And sure enough, finally as promised, Sarai suddenly got morning sickness with pregnancy, and they named her newborn son, Isaac.

But, boy oh boy, did that ever start a family fight!!!

Jealous rivalry erupted between mothers and sons as you might expect, and Sarai (whose name had been changed to Sarah) finally demanded, "Abraham, boot 'em!"

And Hagar left camp with Ishmael.

The years slipped by as these boys became men and started their own families. Isaac became the father of the Jewish nation venerating Almighty God, and Ishmael became the father of the Arabs, and later the Muslim nation, venerating Allah.

And the Jews and the Muslims have fought each other ever since. Gen.16:12

Abraham passed on his inheritance to his boys biologically through birthright blessings, but God's covenant with Abraham was passed to Isaac only. They have rivaled each other through the centuries for divine privilege and the elusive Land of Promise. No matter what war is in the headlines of the Evening News, Jews and Muslims are always at each other's throat.

Israel now is a tiny little nation completely surrounded by Arab fanatics and Muslim madmen vowing to blow it off the map in a nuclear holocaust. Martyrdom in jihad to these Muslims hastens the sensuous thrill of 70 virgins in heavenly reward. (Muslim men, that is. Nothing sensual expected for women!) And the showdown for Muslims will trigger the messianic end-time when they expect to dominate the world.

However, the Bible, in contrast, predicts Jehovah God, not Allah, will lead this victorious confrontational battle between these nations climaxing the end-time.

What was in the works?

Up until this time of Abraham, the mind of God had only been slightly unveiled. Scriptures reveal just a bare sketch of the plan in God's mind. Only a few specific objectives. But no ambiguity. Nothing "hit or miss." Instead, a simple specific design, ever so firmly set in concrete.

The opening scene of the Bible had painted majestic brilliance in the creation of heavens and earth. Man had been placed as dominant creature at the pinnacle of creation. God had given Adam the most beautiful companion imaginable as his wife. Even Hugh Hefner - in all his orgies at the Playboy Mansion - had never seen such a "10"! Every possible need had been provided for Adam and Eve. Every conceivable source of happiness was at their fingertips. The very essence of life was eternal ecstasy within a Garden where God himself personally visited, conversed, and counseled. I have no idea what such an intimate affinity on a human, personal level must have been like between God and this couple! I cannot possibly conceive of that sort of human bond with Celestial Luminary! I cannot even speculate in my wildest imagination on that breath-taking alliance! To call it "majestic" and "grand" is so very linguistically inadequate.

But God's chief rival, Satan, had so easily charmed Adam and Eve with wants beyond their needs. Satan had succeeded in manipulating this first couple to disrespectfully disobey their very Creator who had given his best to them. The blight of their punishment would cast an extraordinarily lengthy shadow across their entire family tree. And yet, in the very moment of banishment from Paradise, God was planning a "buy-back" for the sin of Adam and Eve.Isa.59:20; Rom.3:23-24; Jer.31:11; Ho.13:14

A "buy-back?"

When I was just a boy, my parents bought me a gorgeous, expensive Gibson Spanish guitar that became my prized possession. I entertained with it in high school and college, and even later on Nashville's Music Row where 13 million tourists visited annually. I used it in the studio when I recorded a "Tribute to Marty" Robbins upon his death in 1982. Later it was stolen. The instrument had become worth thousands of dollars in value over the years, but even more, it was a treasured companion. Just suppose, even though this never happened, I had discovered my cherished guitar one day somewhere in a pawnshop. Don't you know I would have done everything possible to buy-back my prized possession, no matter how much it cost?

The Creator of the Universe lost his prized possession, worth far more than any mere inanimate "thing." As soon as man sinned, God wanted him back. As soon as man sinned, God instantly came back with a remedy. He wanted his prized possession back more than any words can possibly express. He wanted it back, no matter what the cost! So upon losing it, the Creator simultaneously unveiled that bare sketch of a plan for a potential return to Paradise Bliss. "You will bruise the serpent's head."Gen.3:15

Bible scholars agree that this statement was the very first prophecy announcing God's promise to send his own Son down from heaven to bring those "few good men and women" in a buy-back to him for eternal Bliss in Paradise.

Sending God's own Son???

Not another man or woman or angel he might create???

Not an offspring or substitute or apparition of God, but another manifestation of the same God???

Inconceivable!!!

What a plan!!!

But this scheme of redemption God was planning would depend on finding someone to perpetuate his projection that had "faith" in his unseen being. God had found just a prospect for the job in Abram. (Noah seems to have demonstrated more faith than Abram!) But from a faltering start with a single man Abram (who had an elementary belief so meager someone could honestly call it sheer imagination), God was planning to eventually culminate a "buy-back" for the wrong of Adam and Eve in a human offspring that would embody the very God himself as his own Son - his own being - Jesus!

Yes, God was planning a buy-back, or redemption, for the wrong of Adam and Eve!

God was planning to buy-back the lineage of Adam and Eve...their offspring who was suffering the end result of their disobedience...with God's own Son???

Why would God do that?

But even if he attempted it, would it work?

Could it work - against such odds as Satan, the Prince of this World,Jn.14:30 the god of this world, the ex-angel of the Sovereign Lord who had been granted power only secondary to the power of God himself?

Could it work - against Beelzebub, Prince of Demons as Jesus was called in scorn, the demonic polytheistic god of the Philistines named "Lord of things that fly" throughout the universe working evil?

Could it work - against Satan who even had power over death?Heb.2:14

Could it work - against the power of choice granted to man himself by God?

Could it work - against God's decision to remain primarily invisible to human expectation of divine activity within a basically visible world?

The intriguing drama continues

Abraham's son Isaac had a son, Jacob, who had twelve sons. Jealous rivalry between Jacob's sons led to the strange odyssey of one son, Joseph, who was attacked and sold by his brothers to traveling merchants who traded him in Egypt. Then Joseph through a bizarre twist of events was dragged from a prison cell to stand in the hallowed palace before the Pharaoh of Egypt to interpret his forgotten dream. Joseph had gained godlike reputation in jail for explaining the unexplainable in dreams. And in that fateful instant of time, Joseph miraculously recalled Pharaoh's dream to the satisfaction of the ruler. Then Joseph shocked the palace halls with the forecast of a coming world famine out of Pharaoh's own dream. The prediction had to be venerated because it had emanated from Pharaoh himself! The feat of Joseph in foretelling the future through God's inspiration was so amazing to Pharaoh that Joseph was elevated from jail prisoner to Egyptian prime minister in a single day!

(Harry Potter was not the craze of the moment with kids back then. Yet all pagans were deep into satanic witchcraft. They all believed in an unseen power in dreams. They believed dreams were mystical, and that anyone who could recall and interpret dreams was godlike! God used their distorted belief in the occult of Satan's kingdom to his own advantage with Joseph!!!)

Then, because Egypt stockpiled grain in huge silos during the seven bountiful years in advance of the subsequent seven years of drought, the rest of the world clogged all incoming highways to Egypt to exchange every possession they owned for food to exist.

Egypt quickly owned the world.

Joseph had skillful managed world economics to elevate Egypt to international dominance. Now he could readily demand the relocation of his father and entire family (including the very brothers who had betrayed him) to the lush Egyptian border land of Goshen. So in one fateful move, the nomadic life of the fledgling Jewish nation was transferred from life in the desert to sumptuous bounty in the richest land on earth!

The story continues with even many more strange twists and turns, all described in detail within the recorded pages of God's Word.

The people of Israel proliferated into millions of honored guests in Goshen. However, a new Pharaoh and a new era began when Joseph was dead, gone, and forgotten, and the Jews were turned into convenient slaves for the pyramid-building Egyptian egotists.

But then again, from abject brick-making slave labor, God prepared Moses for 80 years to lead an escape from Egypt into the desert - again in search of the Jews' own independent land that God had promised Abraham.

After 40 years of wandering toward their promised land in a journey that could have taken only 40 days, well over two million of the Jewish people who had descended from Israel and left Egypt finally settled in the Land of God's Promise.

Yet, after so many repeated bad choices in refusal to recognize and obey God's demands, the Jews deteriorated into a corrupt society and were carried into Babylonian captivity.

The Jews had been given custody of the very words of God himself, Rom.3:2 but when they failed to believe God enough to obey him, Satan again had been victorious. God's "few good men and women" had dwindled to a precious few.

What would God do next?

What could he do?

God's drawn-out game plan was dragging on for generation after generation. And it sure appeared to be self-defeating. Satan was definitely outmaneuvering and outscoring God.

So what was God up to next?

Through careful study in retrospect, we now know from Scripture that the time had come for God to fulfill the ultimate plank of his platform.

Now God's time had come for God himself to come down to earth from heaven as God through his corresponding personality, his Son. In this final act, God planned to present himself to his creation as the ultimate sacrifice for man's disobedience in his extended effort to draw out "the few." But again, God's agenda was to draw out "those few" from among the Satan worshipers claimed by his archrival through one sole criterion:

simple belief in him as invisible, sovereign God.

Oh yes, God had given his chosen people the Law through Moses during their trek across the Sinaitic Peninsula. This Law had its purpose, too, in teaching mankind the futility of any system of merits gained to earn God's favor by performing good works. NOTHING we mortals can do to try to get on God's good side will EVER earn a ticket to re-enter Paradise. But even rudimentary to the Law's system of works was the sole criterion of simple belief in the invisible sovereign God.

So now, the invisible sovereign God proposed to present himself as a visible human in a man named Jesus.

Yet, even in his proposal, this visible form of God was so disguised as an ordinary mere human that again God would be recognized only through the eyes of "faith!"

Surely...this extravagant effort in an exceptional event from the very portals of heaven would win the hearts of his creation, God hoped.

But,...

but,...

but, when God sent his Son to earth as a baby boy in Bethlehem's cattle barn, he surprised the Jews. Their deteriorated society had settled into meaningless ritualism. The Jews were now simply worshiping unseen divinity with trite words and trivial formalities, just as their heathen counterparts had always worshiped their gods of stone. (Why do we humans sense the need to recognize someone or something higher than ourselves, but transform our initial reverence into petty ceremony?) The humanistic system known to the Jews as Judaism had simply become just a composite of 613 Rules of Conduct, still known today as the Mitzvot. The Jewish religion had evolved into a cult no different than pagan polytheism from which God had extracted Abram!

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The Jews did not even recognize God - "live" and "in person" as a physical, bodily human with a likeness somewhat to Adam himself and to every other individual with face, body, hands and legs!!!

The Jews certainly did not expect God to enter earth's portals as a very common person, born in a livestock barn with the stench of manure and urine-soaked hay, and then grow up as a carpenter apprentice to his earthly daddy.

When Messiah came, they were expecting a handsome, powerful, conquering dynamo with royal heritage! They expected him to ride through town on a mighty, spirited, prancing white stallion with blazing eyes, flared nostrils, thundering hoofs...not on a plodding, swaybacked, borrowed donkey. The Jews were expecting a sword-brandishing warrior, maybe like the Goliath in their faded memory - but not like the scrawny David that slayed him. They only remembered the prophetic Scriptures of how Messiah was to destroy oppressors and bring peace. He would conquer Rome, and then present the Jews with their Promised Land. And the wealth of the nations would be thrown down at their feet! The Jews were not expecting a penniless meek man from Nazareth as their Messiah!

The Jesus-born-illegitimately of a pregnant, unmarried 16-year-old peasant girl didn't fill the bill. The Jesus-born-in-a-cattle-barn in, of all places, the boorish town of Nazareth, did not fit the anticipated description. He was just a plain ole man, and very common.

The Jews witnessed the sinless life of Jesus, heard his astonishing wisdom, and relished in his amazing miracles. They liked the good wine he made. They enjoyed eating his fish and chips when they were famished after listening to him on a mountainside. But relatively few really believed he was the Son of God. Those who actually accepted that he was more than human had to see beyond what they could tangibly prove of his divinity. During the preceding 4000 years, God had only been recognized through faith. And now, God, in the form of his Son, was still only recognizable through faith. God was and is invisible to human eyes, and even his own manifestation of himself as the Son of God was likewise sightless divinity.

So the Jews ~ ~ ~ that special race God had painstakingly cultivated to be "the few" by his own selection and grooming ~ ~ ~ ganged up on Jesus, and got the OK from their tyrant overlords, the Romans, to crucify the very Son that God had promised and now had sent! God had been nestled into an ordinary human being from the doorway of heaven into a-baby-grown-into-a-real-man for 33 years...and virtually no one had detected who he really was!!! Jn.1:11

After Jesus' sinless life, his shameful death on a Roman cross, and his resurrection to new life in his old body after three days in a borrowed tomb, God's breath-taking phenomenon had been consummated.

And then, with his disciples looking on in awe, the risen Jesus was gently lifted into the heavens on a cloud. Ac.1:9

From those same heavens, Jesus will again return. But the next time, his return will be announced with an unmistakable shout heard throughout all the earth, accompanied by the mighty trumpet of God! 1 Thess.4:16; Ac.1:11

While carrying out his task during those few moments on earth, Jesus was a destitute peasant, born of a teen who was not even married. He was convicted as a criminal as he stood silent in the courtroom of monarchs and ruling officials. But when he returns, he will be the judge and jury. He will pronounce the sentence with all justice and integrity, and the nations, and all kings, rulers, presidents, judges, and all now-important men of politics will bow in submission before him.

On earth, he rode a sluggish old donkey, draped with a blanket as a saddle. But he will return on a milk-white stallion to the pounding of thundering hoofs. On earth, he wore a crown of thorns, but when he returns, he will wear a crown of gold, with crowns upon crowns. On earth, he bowed before kings, but when he returns, he will be The King of Kings. Jesus stood silent while on earth, like a dumb lamb ready to be butchered and slaughtered. But when he returns he will be the Lion of the tribe of Judea. Jesus was caked with human spittle and crimson blood from punctured thorns on his head, spikes driven in his hands, and a sword-gash in his bowels when he died on the cross. But when he returns, he will declare, "I am he that was dead, but am alive."Rev.1:18 His eyes will flash like flames of fire. He will wear garments dipped in blood. On his thigh will be a name, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." He struggled under the weight as he carried his own cross and took his last breath in violence, but he will be seen next as The Prince of Peace. Out of his mouth will be a sharp two-edged sword that he will vigorously wield to destroy all nations of the earth and to rule them with a rod of iron.

Remember Jesus any way you wish, but Scripture paints the accurate picture.

Yes, study the four Gospel accounts of Jesus' tour on earth, but don't overlook the ultimate portrait of Jesus, the Son of God in Heaven, in the Revelation account!

God's Unfathomable Claim and Strategy

What does it mean - that God is unseen to the physical eye of man? Don't we need to see God to believe he exists? Don't we glibly say, "Seeing is believing?"

Even Jesus' own follower, Thomas, said almost those same words to the other disciples...

"Yeah, don't tell me he's alive. I don't believe he's back from the dead. Don't mess with my mind because I saw his violent death. I witnessed it with my own eyes. I'll never believe your story unless I actually put my fingers into those holes in his hands. I saw the soldiers drive those nails deep into the wood of the cross beneath him. I saw the nails puncture his hands. I saw the nails holding his body suspended above the ground. I felt the excruciating anguish as I heard the piercing thud that shattered the air when they dropped the cross into the deep hole dug in the ground! I saw him nailed there and die. And I will never believe he is not dead right now unless I actually see those tell-tale nail-holes!" Jn.20:24-25

We, too, want to actually see those flying saucers and space men with pointed-ears.

The skepticism of Thomas was conclusively answered just a week later. He got to actually see the nail-pierced hands of the resurrected Christ. He actually touched the torn flesh in Jesus' hands, and felt the ripped gash in his side.Jn.20:26-28 And so will we all.Zech.12:10 "Stop doubting, and believe," Jesus encouraged Thomas when he made that next appearance to the disciples.

When he returns to earth again, we will actually see Jesus with our eyes and actually hear him with our ears for the first time with our human senses of reality. For the first time, our faith ~ ~ ~ held suspended in our mind for a lifetime ~ ~ ~ will be turned into human perception! Like the contacts of a light switch suddenly flipped "ON" ~ ~ ~ we will see him and hear him!!!

But when it comes to believing God right now, we want sensual proof. We want physical proof we can see with our eyes. Seeing locks it down in our head.

But even seeing does not convince some folks.

One of our Huntsville homes has been in the family for 50 years. It is a simple cottage in an unpretentious neighborhood just a block from the first U.S. home of Wernher von Braun, preeminent rocket physicist and astronautics engineer. Von Braun lived here when he first started the then secret Operation Overcast, from which grew the national Space Program. Judi grew up hearing the strange afternoon "booms" no one knew were the first testings of missiles at what became NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. From this start came Saturn V for the first flight to the moon.

Let me assure you that there are still old-timers out there right now who where watching on TV and actually saw Neil Armstrong land on the moon on July 20, 1969, and still don't believe it happened! I have heard their denial!

Some others may say, "Sure, everyone would believe in God...if we only could just see him with any of our senses of reality." But would we? Jesus said, "If you see me, you see the Father."Jn.14:9

But yet, we believe in so many other things in life that cannot be seen with our eyes. We are forced to believe in so many elements of existence that cannot be experienced with our physical senses.


We are forced to believe in a thing we call "the mind," but no one has ever seen "the mind" through the lens of a microscope. Mom and dad can get an ultrasound picture of their unborn baby, but no one has a digital photograph of "his own mind." We just know the mind is real.

We are forced to believe in the air that we breathe.

We are forced to believe in gravity that holds us down.

We are forced to believe in all kinds of invisible rays, such as television rays, radio rays, cell phone radiation, X-rays, ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B light rays, and other electromagnetic radiation.

We would never have sent a man into outer space if we did not believe in, study, and manipulate an entire aggregation of invisible elements!

We experience the effects of the invisible world, diligently experiment to understand and prove their existence, and then accept their existence and follow the relevant rules we discover that conform to them. Why do we balk at the same methodology with an invisible God?

And who in the world can understand that intangible thing called love, but more songs have been written about it than any other subject of song titles in the history of the world! We call love real, but is love more real than God?

None of our physical senses can discern God with sight, smell, taste, hearing, or touch.

Yet, God has revealed himself in:

1. his creation, and

2. his Word, whether spoken or written.

The Bible claims to be the "inspired Word of God."

Within this Word, God reveals himself as THE unique being of eternal character who is in control of the entire universe composed of all visible and invisible elements. God reveals himself in the Word as the Creator of what we know as "the heavens and this earth."

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork." Ps.19:1

Primitive man created gods and chiseled images to honor the unknown realm with awesome fear. Heathenism was polytheistic worship to make sure no god was left out. The gods of paganism were a substitution for the God who walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Christianity in the Bible recognizes this past history. It explains the milieu out of which God wove the uneven pattern from creation to the cross and resurrection.

But never, never, never, EVER...has any religion but Christianity claimed that the superior God of the universe - or even gods exalted with varying attributes - has ever come down from heaven to live on earth in human form.

And never, never, never, EVER...has any religion but Christianity claimed that the superior God of the universe would give up his own life on earth for the sins of man, and then be raised from the dead to ascend back up into heaven!

But that is exactly the claim of the God whose existence and character are defined in the Bible. This historical recital is unique among all religions of the world.

Are these claims credible?

The claims of the Bible are not based on whimsical statements of any individual author. Instead, the claims are based on multiple corroborating authors and a chain of historical events, often verifiable with other contemporary historical accounts and archeological discoveries. They begin with Adam, continue with Abraham, and conclude with the actions of the Jewish nation in the New Testament.

God selected Abraham and his descendants to cultivate a chosen group of a "few good men and women" with the purpose of shunning the temptations of Satan and believe in him, in contrast to Adam and Eve in the Garden who believed in God - but did not believe God enough to obey him.

Despite his patient tolerance through generation after generation, this chosen group was often an embarrassing failure.

God's formidable opponent in this experiment was Satan. But God seldom encountered Satan directly (except in the Garden and in Jesus' temptations), but indirectly encountered Satan through the conduit of human frailty. In addition, God lessened his chances for success by usually remaining invisible and silent in confrontations between Satan through man. Satan succeeded in attracting man to his vulgar nature by simply appealing to desires inherent through God's very creation. Contrary to popular thought, we have not been created for our own pleasure, but "we have been created for God's pleasure!" Rev.4:11 And the astounding reality is that man was and is unaware of the battleground within the mind between God and Satan because man is not inherently endowed with an understanding of this unseen world!

Let's face it: we are at war!!!1 Pet.2:11; 1 Tim. 1:18; 6:12

But this is a "spiritual confrontation," which means we are in a war invisible to human senses between an invisible God, an invisible Satan, and within our invisible mind!!!

We who believe are battling the principalities, powers, world rulers, and spiritual hosts of the Satanic Kingdom!Eph.6:12 WE are individually engaged in the crossfire of this slug fest taking place in the battlefield within our own mind! Our mind is the theater of war. And Satan is cunning as a fox. 2 Cor.11:3 RSV Satan is robust as a lion. 1 Pet.5:8 Satan is a deceptive liar and murderer. Jn.8:44 Satan is an accuser. Zech.3:1; Rev.12:10 Satan is a tempter. Mark 1:13 Satan is a powerful, fighting dragon with amazing skill to perform counterfeit marvels. 2 Thess.2:9;Ex.7:8-13; Rev.20:2 Satan is still the Snake of the Garden, the Lucifer, the Morning Star, the Son of Dawn. Isa.14:12

Whatever access the invisible Satan has to our invisible minds, whether directly or indirectly, "each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed." Ja.1:14 NIV

When we flippantly say, "The devil made me do it," that's pretty true!"

This war is a running battle, a fierce battle, and an incessant battle. This battle will never end until The End.1 Cor.14:8; Rev.16:14 Our only hope for survival and conquest is protection against this powerful enemy by outfitting ourselves with the whole armor of God. Eph.6:11

How powerful is Satan?

Only one person in Scripture is mentioned over 800 times in the Old Testament and 50 times in the New Testament. God expressed his love for this man more than for any other. Only this one man lived life so pleasing to God that he was called "a man after God's own heart." Only this one man's praise of God was so extraordinary that his collection of songs comprises a book in the Bible. Only this one man is mentioned in Revelation by Jesus who proudly recognized he was coming again to earth from this man's lineage. He is the only one man who dedicated a city to God, and his tribute stands for eternity.

David had the most intense spiritual training possible as the son of his Jewish father, Jesse. While still only a boy, David was assigned the difficult job to shepherd his father's herd of sheep. He learned to worship God as he sang and played his harp to an audience of sheep. Even these teen years were marked by an intense faith in God as he discovered his Creator in nature while living an outdoor life often away from home in the countryside with the flocks. He knew it was God who had given him the capability to valiantly encounter and kill both bears and lions barehandedly in the wilderness as he aggressively fought them to protect the sheep in his care. 1 Sam.17:31-37 He knew it was God who gave him skill to kill Goliath with the very first stone he flung from his homemade slingshot. David continually lived with this deep devotion to God as he escaped from the paranoid King Saul, as he lived as a rebel fighter hiding in caves for many years, and as he built his kingdom and established Jerusalem as his capitol. Then he christened "God's City" to supercede "David's City." His place in Scripture clearly indicates he was a deep believer and constant companion of the invisible God. He was knowledgeable of Old Testament Scriptures, dedicated, and conscientious. And he gave God the glory for his ability, charisma, and power. David's portion of the collection of Psalms is eternal tribute to his love for God.

But David was still completely a man, a male, a virile human with testosterone surging through his veins. He was endowed with sexual passions as strong as with any other man. He never suffered erectile dysfunction in his marriage to Michal, even though she was a cold wife who spurned his affections. And he was in full capacity as a masculine male when, bored, passionate and lonely back home, he saw the gorgeous Bathsheba bathing from his vantage perch atop his palace. The beauty of the innocent Bathsheba bathing privately in her own backyard was as alluring to David as it would have been to any red-blooded man. He was not just attracted to her, but he desperately wanted her as his companion in lovemaking. Now - suddenly - he was lonesome and passionate as he contemplated Bathsheba's naked body as she was bathing, while her husband was away as David's own mercenary soldier in a battle with David's other soldiers for David's own tactical advantage in David's personal war at that very moment. Satan rushed into the vacuum on the wings of his own angels. Satan bound his moral consciousness with unbreakable cords. No reflection. No prayer for strength. No thought for possible regret or guilt. Without hesitation, he sent for her to consummate his sexual yearning. His attraction was so deep that he even signed a "death warrant" for her husband, Uriah - the loyal and valiant soldier in his own army - by positioning him at the head of the next foray where he was sure to be killed. David wanted this ravishing beauty, Bathsheba, as his own wife for his own pleasure, at whatever moment he chose! David's plot to camouflage his lust and adultery was one of the most treacherous accounts in Scripture! How could David respond in an instant to his instinctive, impulsive passions which had been managed and controlled for so long, after years of studying God, disciplining himself to obey God, and loving God so intensely? How can we reconcile David's love for the invisible God with his sinful lust for Bathsheba (even though that lust grew into deep love later)? How can the blemish of this single, isolated behavior be comprehended within the framework of David's devotion to the God he loved so dearly? And why would God include this ugly smudge in the history of his activity?

Yet, after his sin, the testimony of the Scriptures about David's legacy is that he was called a "man after God's own heart."1 Ch.28:9; Ac.13:22

Why, I know the inside story of David well. I know, because I too grew into manhood with a strong dedication to God. I learned David's story and all the stories of the Bible from my godly "Mammy" who taught me to pray as she sat at the foot of my bed at night while my devoted mom and dad nurtured members of my father's congregation in never-ending visitations. I continued learning God's Word through Christian grammar school and high school, and even more in-depth through a portion of my 10 years in the university classroom. I too ministered to churches for 15 years before entering the business arena and real estate investing. I know David's story, because with all my devotion to God, I too - like David - fell in love with a beautiful woman who had a beautiful voice who was not my wife in a moment of weakness and loneliness, and Satan took advantage of his opportunity. I had prayed for God to lead me to "the right companion for life, my own Mrs.Right" when I was only 12. Yet, I left that wife after 25 years of marriage when I reasoned (within that invisible citadel of the mind where Satan operates) that I had been mistaken in my initial choice God had presented to me!

Oh, those nine years were exciting! Thrilling adventure, from camping in a tent while entertaining in the Music Shows of Branson to dinner music throughout Florida to concerts at the elite resorts of Arizona with an Airstream and new GMC van. The Musical Comedy Show we created was a high-energy production of nostalgic music combined with satirical parody of characters like "Cletus from Bucksnort, Tennessee," "Mama," "Minnie Pearl," "Carnack," "Dolly Parton," and many others that I continue to use in my television advertising and Opryland Resort Investing Extravaganzas today.

But remember how God brought Babel to an abrupt halt in their attempt to build a Staircase to Heaven? So, God too brought our exciting exhilaration to a halt with his pre-designed plan.

I know - you just can't understand how I could have made such a decision!!! And as I look back 15 years since that time, I can't either! Surely, you say, he was not sincere in his belief in God. Surely, you say, he not "well-grounded" in his faith. Surely, you say, he was mentally imbalanced! But I am so grateful that God who says he cares enough for every believer who gives their life to him has a Master Plan with unique design, often as strange and bewildering as any other life detailed in the Bible. And God orchestrated an astounding reunion nine years later with Judi after I had left that first marriage when the truth finally dawned on me, and after I had repented of my sin, like David. I personally know how powerful Satan can be, and I also personally know the overriding greater power of God Almighty.

Think nothing like this could ever happen to you? Or any other such strange odyssey? Think again. Are you a more devout believer in the invisible God than David? Are you more in control of your destiny than David? While in the midst of your pride, Satan is laying his trap for you!

And not only does Satan tempt us, but - as strange as it might seem - even God tempts us, as inferred by Jesus in the prayer he taught, "Our Father who is in heaven...Lead us not into temptation!"Matt.6:13; Lu.11:4; see also Gen.22:1; Ja.1:13; study "tempt"/"test"/"lead"; especially study Job 1:8-12 (God had built a "hedge" around Job but "allowed" Satan limited access) To avoid God's temptation, if possible, we must pray for avoidance - even daily!Lu.11:3; "daily"/"day by day"

Those pompous, self-righteous church-goers and church leaders who disdain "public" sin and think that they alone are the last of the "true believers" in their staunch condemnation of those of us who openly fall to Satan's temptations might remember God's word to Elijah. As the old prophet sat on his pity-pot thinking he was the last of the true believers of the invisible God, God reminded him that thousands of others had not bowed the knee to the Satanic Baal!1 Kgs.19:10,18

And if Satan and his angels are invisible to us, as God is invisible to us, is it also possible that God's invisible angelic host assists us in this battle? Is it possible God assigns angels to watch over us as believers in our everyday, common happenings?

In '04, Judi and I were returning home to Nashville from Huntsville when I felt a heart attack coming on. We were traveling through rural north Alabama, with no ERs and no hospitals. I rammed the accelerator to the floorboard in desperation to reach one of Nashville's fine healthcare centers. I hoped I could make it. But time ran out as I blacked out. The loaded van pulling a trailer was heading for the concrete divider at 85 mph in the 10 lane Interstate at Franklin. When Judi suddenly looked up to see my head drop and my arms go limp, she calmly unbuckled her seat belt in that split-second, crawled over the console dividing the seats to grab the steering wheel from my slumped body, turned off the keys, and guided us to safety at the shoulder without ever being able to reach the brake. Without power steering with the engine off. Unable to see traffic in the rear view mirror perched on the console. In the rain. During morning rush hour traffic.

    

 The roadside billboard where the van stopped...but someone else was not as "lucky" 

Not to speak derogatorily about Judi's innate mechanical prowess, but if you asked her to turn on the lights, she would probably ask, "Where is the switch?" But what occurred in that split-second saved our lives.

Oh, perhaps that was just "luck."

That heart attack with triple bypass surgery was followed with 14 additional surgeries in the next 36 months. Two of those surgeries were botched, and both times the respective surgeons told Judi: "I don't think he will make it." I pulled through, but in both cases, I stayed at the point of death for 30 days in ICU. Later, inadvertent medical oversight caused OD from drugs, resulting in a stroke by bleeding in the brain. After 50 years of public speaking, I suddenly became unable to speak, and was incoherent for months until after extensive speech therapy.

Even those "botched" surgeries were remarkable.

The first resulted from leaving a small residue within the intestinal tract, causing blockage. The surgeon had to reopen the wound after laparoscopic surgery, and physically examine all 27 feet of the intestine for additional blockages. Once the gut was opened, several types of hernias began to develop.

Within a few months, another specialist used laparscopic surgery to repair a ventricle hernia caused from the first surgery. I awoke from surgery feeling fine. I was immediately dismissed, and cleared for leaving the hospital. But before Judi could drive the 20-minute return to the hospital after I had notified her of dismissal, I was writhing in pain and deathly sick. I awoke from unconsciousness twelve hours later in a crowded ward of the small Intensive Care Unit looking up into the faces of several specialists who were deliberating a resolution to the problem in what I clearly remember were "serious tones." I was wheeled into surgery again, and this time again the wound was reopened. A small nick in the intestine was found to be leaking bile, and my abdominal sac was filling with poison that would quickly cause death! Xygris is the only approved drug to reverse severe sepsis. This special antibiotic must be hand-delivered to prevent shaking, and my gut was filled with 19 vials of the life-saving potion that costs $1200/per vial. Again, the surgeon did not think I would survive.

 The Tennessee Titans hospital visit 

Just "luck" - again.

Two years after the heart attack, I was returning at night along the same Interstate from Nashville to Huntsville to renovate a property. At 75 mph, the doctors say a drop in blood pressure caused me to black out again. This time I was alone. I veered off the road, mowed down the saplings in the path of the careening vehicle, and crashed dead center of a tree so large the tow-driver said he could not put his arms around it. I would probably still be hidden in the wreckage down in the ravine where the totaled van finally came to a stop - except for the driver of a lone car who "happened" to see my headlights in his rear view mirror as I swerved off the Interstate, and came back to call for help. I walked away with a cut on my hand, rather than being hauled away in a hearse to a cemetery.

    
    
I-65 Mile Marker 17 where
my van left the road, with nearby fatality memorial
    
Memorial to a life ended here
where my life was spared

Skid marks of still another crash

Just "luck" - again.

Survival and complete recovery after 15 surgeries within 36 months. Two near-fatal catastrophes on the highway. The calamity of a stroke. But renovation of a home afterward that demanded carrying 80 pound cement bags and toting 90 pound roofing bundles at 70.

Psalms 34:7 states the reassuring words: "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them." Even Satan knew the Scripture: "For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee." Lu.4:10 We who believe are at war with the Prince of Darkness, but God has sent unseen silent angels to "minister" to us in our time of need. Heb.1:14 God cares for us, just as his eye is on the sparrow.Matt.6:26 The very hairs of our head are numbered.Matt.10:30 "Yes, though I go through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." Ps.23 We who believe cannot possibly get lost in the crowd, or be forgotten by him for even a nanosecond!

But why did God not simply use his sovereign supremacy to destroy Satan along with all disobedient men?

Look at God's strategy for accomplishing his purpose through the agency of humans - instruments who were extremely incapable, often weak, and usually inferior to others.

God chose a stuttering Moses to lead the Jewish slaves out of Egypt.Exod.4:10-17 But the Israelites had barely witnessed the miracle of escape through the Red Sea in their journey to the Promised Land before they were bitterly complaining at Marah that life had been better as beaten servants working night and day making bricks to build Pharaoh's pyramids!

God chose a skeptical Gideon to conquer Jericho in Israel's quest to establish themselves as a recognized nation in the land God had promised.Jude 6:39 The Jewish army won at Jericho by simply blowing their trumpets after a brief march around the city. Confidence from conquest should have bolstered their faith. But their faith quickly mired into quicksand in their second attack because they lost sight of the object of their faith.

God chose Solomon to transform the Jewish nation into the richest kingdom in the world. But upon Solomon's death, the nation began to splinter into divisive factions.

Yet, God even knew man would fail? His introspective omniscience knows the heart before actions are produced in behavior. Why did God put his reputation on the line with failures he knew in advance would take place?

Because of the failure of these chosen people, God allowed the heathen tyrant Nebuchadnezzar to carry Israel, the Jews, into slavery again.

His Ultimate Gesture Rebuffed

Finally after so many attempts, God made one ultimate gesture. He brought himself down to earth as the Son of God! Even then, the chosen Jewish race failed to recognize him as the prophesied Messiah, and crucified him.

God had succeeded in giving his very best from heaven itself, only to be ultimately rebuffed by the Jews.

And because of their continued rejection, God allowed the Roman Commander, Titus, to devastate his chosen race, the Jews, in A.D.70. As the vicious horde of soldiers climbed the rugged hill to the unapproachable walls fortifying Jerusalem, the Jews flung pails of boiling oil atop the soldiers' heads as they scaled to the summit on ladders. The Roman soldiers were infuriated. They were accustomed to winning, never intimidated. With even more resolve, they stormed the stronghold. The infamous attack killed 1,000,000 Jews, and 100,000 were led captive to Rome to build the Coliseum where Christians were later fed to ravenous lions for entertaining sport. The attack of Titus blasted the Jews like a mighty shotgun explosion into all corners of world where their children and great-grandchildren still reside today. The devastation of A.D.70 was one of the worst battles ever recorded in the annals of war. Historian Josephus records that even mothers ate their own babies in desperation to live!

The message was crystal clear: Believe, or else. When the Jews rejected Jesus, God rejected the Jews.

This guy Saul

But just prior to this destruction of Jerusalem, God was up to something else. He had something else up his sleeve.

There was this guy named Saul.

What a bigot! Conscientious, but stubborn diehard! Intensely religious, but wrong, wrong, wrong.

He was so devoted to the Law of Moses and Judaism that anybody and anything that did not live up to his standard of exactness repulsed him. Saul was so conceited that he considered himself "the best of the best."Phil.3:4-6

The ancient Ten Commandments given in the Law of Moses at Mount Sinai had degenerated into a man-made set of 613 Rules of Conduct known as Judaism. Jesus came to earth during this period, and he repudiated Judaism. Jesus contended that the Law of Moses was God's law, but Judaism was well meaning forgery.

And this guy Saul was a zealot for Judaism, while Jesus was a zealot for belief and obedience to the undiluted words of God Almighty, whom he was.

And Saul was about the age of Jesus of Nazareth.

And Saul knew Jesus, whether by reputation or personally. 2 Cor.5:16

Who knows when or under what circumstances Saul came to know about Jesus. To be sure, after Jesus began performing those "tricks" that were called miracles, Saul heard about him like everyone else in Palestine. After Jesus had astounded some guests at a wedding feast with his magic of turning water into wine, everyone in Palestine began to hear about him through The Evening Word-of-Mouth Gazette. After Jesus began magnetizing crowds who even walked miles across the hot desert sands to the mountains to hear him, Saul too began to hear about him. And when Jesus flabbergasted the Jewish leaders with his unconventional jargon about Judaism, no doubt Saul heard about him too.

Look at him out of the corner of your eye. At the edge of the crowd, this guy Saul listened in awe to Jesus. He took it all in. He immediately recognized this insurrectionist was an impostor of Judaism. Saul could instantly tell Jesus was a dangerous threat to every belief for which he himself stood, and all others of those "truly righteous Jews" like himself. Saul had the uncanny insight to know that Jesus was undermining everything that those strict, conservative Jewish leaders like himself were struggling to preserve in legalistic Judaism. He could see that Jesus was destroying the "faith of the fathers" with his unorthodox speech. There had been other rebels in Palestine, just like him, and Saul became intent on squelching this one!

After all, Saul had been raised as a strict conservative of Judaism. His sharp mind was matched with energy and dedication. He was a rabid dog looking for a fight when it came to defending faithfulness to Almighty God and the Law of Moses as interpreted through contemporary Judaism.

So Saul hated Jesus with a purple passion.

Saul was a loyal disciple of Gamaliel, the greatest intellectual rabbi of his day.

Saul, like Gamaliel, was a pious Pharisee, the proud-as-a-peacock, self-righteous sect of the Jews. No doubt Saul had actually listened to or heard about Jesus call the Pharisees "snakes,"Matt.3:7 "children of the devil,"Jn.8:44 "hypocrites,"Matt. 23:13, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29 and "whitewashed tombs."Matt.23:27 Saul knew Jesus had told the crowds, "Your righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees."1 Pet.2:11; 1 Tim. 1:18; 6:12 Jesus had said, "The Pharisees are such sticklers for ritualistic practices that they tithe even the tiny leaves of a mint plant, but overlook the much more important things." Lu.11:42 Jesus' most scathing criticism of the religion of his day was directed against the Pharisees!

Saul felt the piercing jabs of Jesus' words aimed at him, like at all conceited Pharisees, and he hated Jesus intensely.Matt.21:45

Saul saw himself as a pompous "Pharisee of Pharisees," and he hated Jesus fiercely.

Saul was one of the 71-member ruling Jewish aristocracy, the Great Sanhedrin, Ac. 6:9-10; 22:5 and he eventually even voted to kill Jesus on the cross!Mark 15:1; Ac. 26:10

Saul was probably wealthy, and may have lived in one of the finest homes in town. The King James Version hints at his wealth in using the phrase, he "profited in the Jews' religion" above many of his equals.Gal.1:14 As other members of the Sanhedrin, he too was probably married and had a family. But his profound hatred for Jesus eventually compelled him to leave the comforts of home to initiate and lead a campaign to squash this newly formed rebel uprising. He gave up the sumptuous living known only to the affluent, and especially known to characterize the Sanhedrin elite. He even left his wife and children at home, and perhaps they eventually deserted him because of his extremely devout and persistent behavior for his beliefs that eventually led to the loss of his cash flow.Matt.10:37 Saul was their "Goose that laid the Golden Egg." Without doubt, Saul was a compelled man on a mission!Ac. 22:5

How can anyone's hatred become so stirred into violence that murder becomes their living, breathing mantra? How can anyone's hatred become such an intense, overwhelming obsession that they become a crusader to imprison and kill innocent, defenseless women - not just men - just because they believed in Jesus!

And even more alarming and nauseating, how in the world could God hand-pick this guy???

But yet God did, just like he had selected so many other strange personalities in the history of his activity.

Saul to Paul

God made his move on Saul at a special unguarded moment in a special unanticipated circumstance. (By now, however, it has become obvious that God's direct actions with men are always chosen by him as "special" and often dramatic and unforeseen. Seems this is the very nature of God's character.)

So, at an unexpected moment in time when the crescendo of Saul's emotions boiled with rage in the stoning of Stephen as he next carried death warrants for other Jesus-followers he hated...

God hurled an intense light ray from heaven - a laser beam, a bolt of lightning - so powerful that Saul was instantly blinded and brought trembling to his knees!

And the unmistakable voice that boomed from heaven in response to Saul's sudden crouched helplessness on the ground said, "Why are you persecuting me?"

And after moments of trying to pull himself together while grasping for some meaning to this sudden baffling, traumatic experience, Saul mumbled...

"Who are you, Lord?"

(What did Saul mean by "Lord???" Why, the intensely religious Saul was muttering the Hebrew term held by the Jews in lofty respect for only the highest of all beings in the universe. This was the term reserved for unusual occasions when Jews approached the highest portals of the Supreme Sovereign of heavens and earth. This moment of truth suddenly became so solemnly austere in Saul's living-breathing existence that he almost inaudibly murmured the response of "Lord" in a whisper of complete submission of his total lowly being to the Highest Being of the Universe!)

What emotional upheaval instantly shot throughout Saul's bewildered mind and trembling body as the roaring voice from heaven distinctly answered:

"I am the very Jesus you are persecuting!!!" Ac.9:5; 22:8; 26:15; Php.3:6

In that traumatic instant of mental analysis and inner soul-searching, Saul emotionally collapsed in a crumpled heap of total helplessness. Every fiber of his being was crushed in anguish. Saul experienced what he must have thought was instant final judgment of his soul in that split-second of time, as all of the movie-frames of life unexpectedly froze before him in a suspended moment! Saul was overwhelmingly convicted in that single twinkling in time of how he had been blinded in his thinking over his entire lifetime!

Saul was blinded by the bright light that day, but he had been blinded by error in thinking since his aristocratic birth and noble training. He had been so convinced that he was right when most other Jews were wrong that the shock of learning the truth was emotionally shattering.

He knew he had been right! He knew he was among the few with special insight! He knew he was above the rest! Imagine, if you can, the sudden reversal of what Saul had always held as honest-to-goodness TRUTH. He had been an up-and-coming political and religious leader among his peers in the entire province, and the integrity of his whole reputation and past was suddenly being undermined!

Why had he been living???

Don't know about you, but this experience would have scared me to death!

And from that earth-shaking moment until the end of his life when he was martyred as a Christian in Rome, Saul slaved untiringly for the cause of Jesus whom he had so vigorously violated with such intense hatred. Saul exchanged a life of ease as a prominent, haughty politician to a derelict eking out existence as a demeaning tent maker. Gal.1:14; Php.3:4-8 Saul declared he was changed in that instant to be not just a "slave" for the Lord who was paid wages for work, but as a "bond-servant" bought for a life of hard labor with no rights of his own.

Saul's overwhelming response from instant awareness of worthless life to allegiance to the one-and-only true God was not unlike any other genuine conversion. Just perhaps more dynamically graphic. All of us respond similarly in that once-for-all-moment-of-decision when enlightened about God's existence. It is not just an intellectual response of the head or an emotional response of the heart, but the response of totality in being.

And this was not the only sudden strange turn of God's events to unfold in Saul's life, whose name was changed after his conversion from Saul (his Hebrew name referencing his birthplace) to Paul ("Apostle to the Gentiles").

Paul's gospel

God chose Saul as his ambassador of a brand new message to the offspring of Adam and Eve.

God was at it again.

God had extensively prepared for this time in history.

He knew it before the foundations of the world. Eph.1:4; 1 Pet.1:20

He had first announced it when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden.Gen.3:15

He had prepared for the coming of himself as Jesus through Abraham, Gen.18:18 whom God called "the father of those who live by faith." Ro.4:11, 16

He had prepared the way through Joseph in Egypt, Moses in the wilderness journey, Gideon in conquering the Promised Land, and in all the prophets who foretold of his preparation.

He had even sent the hermit cousin of Jesus, John the Baptizer, the wilderness man who thrived on a diet of leaping locusts of the field and honey dug out by his rough hands from beehives in the hollow of trees. This was the strange man with the strange message, "Prepare for the way of the Lord." (Why does God pick these odd people!!!)

All this preparation had been for TWO GOSPELS!

One was the gospel of Jesus, and the other was the gospel of Paul.

The Gospel of Jesus and The Gospel of Paul

Jesus' life was primarily a mission of preaching the Good News message, or the "gospel," to the Jews.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote the historical account known as the first four "gospels" of the New Testament.

These "gospels" were the story of Jesus' life as he mingled on earth with the Jews. These "gospels" were the message of hope for the Jews.

The Jews alone.

Oh yes, God had occasionally found believers among the Gentiles during his intervening episodes among the swelling masses of humanity since the beginning.

Ruth's mother-in-law was a Gentile Moabite.Ruth 1:4

God had sent Jonah on a special mission to the Gentiles of Nineveh. Jonah didn't like the idea, so God gave him a little taste of life in a whale's belly when Jonah headed in the opposite direction of God's mission. Even when Jonah came out alive from such an awesome experience of three days without food within the stomach of a huge fish, Jonah still bellyached about God's mission to the Gentiles. Jonah was a typical Jew ~ ~ ~ they all thought they had an exclusive copyright on God. Jews knew they had been exclusively chosen by God of all people on earth. Therefore, they thought God had no business dealing with those dirty-dog Gentiles!Matt. 7:6; 15:26

Jesus had discretely separated the Law of Moses given by God's own hand from the man-made interpretations of Law in Judaism. This distinction led Jesus, a Jew, to follow Jewish mandates in the Law of Moses as distinct from expected submission to the man-made 613 Rules of Judaism in his day. The mission of Jesus was primarily a mission of this distinct "gospel" to Jews.

Jesus, born as a Jew, came to the Jews, and worshipped as a Jew. But being a Jew in a predominately Gentile world, he encountered Gentiles.

And take a look at his response to Gentiles.

Jesus at first refused to heal the child of a Gentile mother.Matt.15:21-28 He reflected Jewish exclusivity and isolationism by echoing the well-known Jewish phrase that Gentiles were "dogs!" Jesus' "gospel" was to Jews.

His disciples continued a mission to Jews after Jesus' resurrection. His disciples had experienced a close personal relationship with Jesus during his three years of ministry. These disciples became pillars in the new assembly of believers after Jesus arose and ascended into heaven. It is no wonder that these disciples (or "learners" of Jesus), who had become apostles (or "sent ones" of Jesus) set out on their ministry as Jews teaching the Good News "gospel" to the Jews.

The first church at Pentecost was only a mission of believing Jews with a "gospel" to the Jews for several years.Ac. 2:5; 11:19

But then, at that particular juncture of time, God again contrived a unique, isolated experience.

It was such extreme uniqueness that it stands out almost as a sore thumb in the Jewish experience and in the historical experience of God's modus operandi!

This was one of those unusual moments of time with such phenomenal ramifications that it embraces the entire spectrum of humanity. This was God's introduction of a brand new idea. God was now ready to expand his relationship with his race of people, the Jews, begun with Abraham, to the broader spectrum of the Gentile nations. God had now decided - at this moment in time - to share his offer of a return of pagans to Paradise. The heathens. Polytheistic idolaters. Those vile worshippers of every god imaginable in mythology, who turned their temples into brothels. In fact, God was ready to punish the Jews for their rejection of his Son, Jesus, and open his door of welcome to Gentiles for the first time since Abraham. And in his punishment of the Jews, God vowed to "hide his face from them"Ezek.39:23-29 until he returned them to the Land of Promise.


Dancing with God


This was revolutionary!

And this far-reaching concept was nestled first in a solitary experience involving Peter, Jesus' disciple and a blood brother Jew.

And it was an experience that Peter witnessed in his flesh but never fully comprehended in his mind.

And it was the precursor of changes in God's magnificent plan of redemption.

Peter stood up on Pentecost as the leader among the disciples to preach the first sermon in the new church-age. It was a sermon by Jews to Jews. Ac.2:5 But only a few years later, the Spirit of God led Peter to Cornelius and his household, Greek Gentiles.Ac.10

Peter would never have entered the home of this Gentile "dog" except that God gave him a vision in a deep sleep. In the dream, God demanded that Peter eat of unclean animals that were not kosher by Jewish standards. Jews didn't eat pork chops and bacon, but God demanded that Peter break all the conditioning of his lifetime by sitting down with Cornelius and his family for breakfast of savory bacon and scrambled eggs like we would enjoy. No doubt like a nightmare to him, this vision compelled Peter to baptize the first Gentiles into the fledging church! God demanded it.

But Peter had always been a stubborn man. Once he adamantly blurted out to Jesus that he would never forsake him, until Jesus gently predicted that he would deny him three times! But even with this mandate for taking the "gospel" to Gentiles delivered personally in a dream from God out of the portals of heaven itself, Peter could not fathom that the "gospel" of Jesus to the Jews could also be a "gospel" to the Gentiles. Yet, Paul - a blood brother Jew to Peter - was sent as an "apostle to the Gentiles."Rom.11:13 Paul had been "a vessel" chosen by God to be an administrator and caretaker of "secret mysteries" revealed uniquely to him.Ac.15:14-17; Rom.16:25; 1 Cor.4:1; Eph.3:2-5 Later Paul even had to counter Peter "to his face"Gal. 2:11 because Peter never internalized the vision from God equating Gentiles with Jews in God's ultimate plan.2 Pet.3:16

Despite God's revelation to Peter in a dream...

despite Peter baptizing the first Gentiles into the church...

no one yet had been chosen for the specific, life-long mission of taking "the gospel" to the Greek and heathen Gentiles.

Until Paul, Saul of Tarsus.

Paul's Gospel to the Gentiles

God had given no mission of sending "the gospel" to Gentiles until...he separated Saul of Tarsus.

Saul was chosen "out of season" as God's new ambassador for the new mission of delivering this brand new "gospel" to the Gentile world. Paul distinguishes the "gospel" he preached as "my gospel."Rom.2:16, 16:25; 2 Tim.2:8 It was not only new as a never-before-message of God's acceptance of Gentiles, but it also defined and depicted God as merciful-as-never-before-known. Paul's gospel was God, the Savior of Grace, without Works.Mentioned 100 times by Paul

God gave Paul this strange new task when he accepted his miraculous calling on his way to kill Christian Jews.

And God's task in training Paul for this task was monumental!

Not only had Paul grown to hate Jesus, who now he learned was God. Now he was given a mission to take a special revealed gospel to the Gentiles known to him as heathen "dogs." Every Jew saw polytheistic heathens as detestable "dogs" in the eyes of every Gentile they met. Jews were required to bathe if they even encountered Gentiles! Imagine Paul's culture shock! Yet Paul's change was so fundamental and intense that he came to understand that Gentiles and Jews were equal!Rom.3:8-10

And grace without works was a far cry from the impossibly burdensome works of the Law. Without this change in God's requirements for obedience, every Christian in the world today would have to raise animals in their backyard, sever the jugular vein of their favorite pet, and splash the gory carcass in a fiery pit for sacrifice! But Paul's "gospel," in contrast to Jesus' "gospel," explained that Jesus' blood on the cross had eliminated that ole ritual required by Moses in the Old Testament Law. What a blessed relief for his beloved creation! Justified by the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus on the cross - without the need for repetitive animal sacrifices or any "works" of any kind to prove anything! What a confirmation of God's supreme love!

In his new mission, God had revealed his desire to save us by grace without any performance on our part ~ ~ ~ because of his performance in sending his own Son on the cross and raising him from the dead!

But how could God reverse Paul's life-long conditioning?

God did not send Paul to Jesus' disciples for a seminary class on "Salvation 101." Instead, Paul went immediately into Arabia and then returned to Damascus where he had seen God in that piercing light that blinded his eyes. Only then, did Paul go to Jerusalem where Jesus' disciples were residing and preaching to the Jews, and then he saw James only briefly and stayed just 15 days with Peter, the leader of the church who was fulfilling Jesus' prediction that he would "build my church."Gal.1:17-19; Matt.16:18

Reading the incredible details between the lines, Paul was immediately whisked away by God's Spirit after his conversion into the same Arabian desert where God had given the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai to Moses 1500 years previously!Gal.1:17 God had personally spoken the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai, who chiseled them into tablets of stone. Now God spent three years teaching Paul the brand new Gospel to the Gentiles on Mount Sinai, Gal.4:24-25 where he miraculously transfigured Paul's body into spiritual form in transporting him upward into the magnificent Third Heaven level of God's throne where he saw glories forbidden to be told!2 Cor.12:2 God came down on Mount Sinai to speak the Law to Moses, but Paul was transported up to learn the unsearchable riches of God's message of grace.

What an awesome experience for Paul to hold in memory during the unbelievable persecution he would soon endure for his faith in this God ~ ~ ~ suffering a miserable, aggravating "thorn in the flesh," often without food and water in his toiling, in danger of robbers, sleepless nights, exposure in the cold, encountering a poisonous snake bite, shipwreck and lost on storm-tossed seas, stoned as a misfit worthy of death, solitary confinement in a dungeon, countless beatings, three caustic batterings from Roman rods, and five ravenous floggings with lashes that almost killed him. Paul's faith in this God was not to be coddled in a continued life of ease as a prominent, affluent Pharisee of the Sanhedrin. Paul's faith in this God was to be tested as it is with all disciples and as it was with Jesus - even to the point of death! "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.2 Tim.3:12 "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Lu.9:23

God had taken Moses into the wilderness for the 40-year Preparation Class in Leadership to posture him for piloting Israel out of Egypt. And God gave Paul a three-year Crash Course in Perceiving God's Grace at Mount Sinai for taking the gospel of grace-without-works to the Greek heathens.

The apostles had spent three years in personally learning about God at the feet of Jesus. And Paul spent three years in personally learning from God himself during his training at Mount Sinai. So Paul defended his apostleship to Judaizer critics as one "born out of due season."1 Cor.15:8 Paul declared he was not "one whit" behind the other apostles2 Cor.11:5 because of the manner in which God had prepared him for his own particular task.

How did God manage this?

And how could Paul's mental balance absorb such mind-bending reversals?

First, God had to reveal to Paul that his intense hatred of Jesus had been inadvertently directed to God's own precious Son sent from heaven as a sacrifice for the sins of all men.

Then second, God revealed at Mount Sinai that Paul was to take this never-before-revealed gospel of grace to the very Gentiles whom Paul had been taught to hate his entire life as dogs unworthy of his own spit! Grace so powerful ~ ~ ~ that it forgave Paul of his wrongs and can forgive you and me of the most horrible of all of our evil, and even could have forgiven Hitler of all of his wickedness!!!

And equally difficult, it took three years of discipline from God himself to get the deeply ingrained system of works in Judaism out of Paul!

The disciples of Jesus were a natural extension of Jesus' ministry on earth. The disciples' ministry carried to Jews after the resurrection simply expanded Jesus' teaching during his three years on earth. But Paul had become an apostle "born out of due season." God had to mold him into the unique spokesman who was totally-unlike his past life, with totally unlike mindset, to carry a totally unlike message the world had never heard!

As Jesus had come only to the "house of Israel" during his ministry before the "finish" of the Law at the cross, Lu.13:32; Jn.4:34; 17:4; 19:30 Paul was now being sent to the Gentile world to announce God's love for all humanity. As the apostles started the church with the Jews at Pentecost and continued their ministry with the Jews, Paul was now being sent to the entire world of non-Jewish Gentiles.

Peter had been so cautious in obeying the Spirit's call to teach Cornelius and his Gentile household the message of Jesus. Peter was cautious because these "dogs" had always been unworthy and unwelcome in Judaism. Even this disciple of the Lord who was shown a heavenly vision that the Gentile heathens were NOT unclean, Peter had such psychological aversion to Gentile Christianity that Paul had to later "withstand him" to his face over the issue! Peter even admits that some of Paul's writings were "hard to understand."2 Pet.3:16 Peter, the apostle and student of Jesus Christ, never internalized Gentile Christianity, just as most Jews today refuse to accept Jesus as more than a mere man.

While the apostles' mission was centered on preaching the gospel to Jews in Jerusalem after the crucifixion and resurrection, Paul preached an expanded gospel of grace to the Gentile world he had learned from God at Mount Sinai. And Paul's expanded gospel of grace to Gentiles was hard to comprehend by the other apostles and Jewish Christians, just as it must have been difficult for Paul himself to comprehend this new concept at first. Purging Paul of Judaism took God himself three years of personal indoctrination at Mount Sinai! The issue of God's open arms of love for Gentiles as well as Jews had been a non-issue for Jews since Abraham. The issue was a No-No. It was ultimately only settled theologically by the church leaders at the Jerusalem Conference.Ac.15 Yet most Jews have never internalized this concept to this day. In fact, Paul was constantly and continuously dogged in his mission to Gentiles by Judaizers who insisted that the true gospel of Christ in Christianity should only be mixed with an allegiance to the Ten Commandments, the Torah, and those 613 Rules of Conduct in Judaism.

And three times, Paul refers to his mission to the Gentiles as "my gospel." Rom.2:16; 16:25; 2 Tim.2:8; 1 Cor.15:1 Not "another gospel," but the unfolding expansion and extension of God's eternal plan so unique that he could call it, "my gospel!"Gal.1:8,9 Paul's gospel extended an understanding of God with terminology never uttered from the lips of even Jesus himself, such as "grace" and "the body of Christ." Jesus taught his followers to "keep the Commandments" - not to revel in grace - for he had not yet died to fulfill the Law.Matt. 5:17; 19:17 Jesus' teachings always referred to the "kingdom" - not the body of Christ - because he was "the King of the Jews."Matt.27:11-37 Paul's gospel amplified secret mysteries, such as God's grace,Zech.12:10 hidden by God since before the world began and for which earlier prophets searched diligently!Eph.3; Rom.16:25; 1 Pet.1:10 Nothing in the Old Testament or in any Jewish writing even remotely referred to Jews and Gentiles together in the body of Christ even in an earthly kingdom, and certainly not in heaven!

The apostles in Jerusalem met immense opposition to their mission from orthodox Jews and the Romans in Palestine. But Paul met immense opposition in his missionary journeys from polytheistic heathens throughout the Gentile world as well as Jewish Judaizers.

And Paul had the unbelievable task of teaching Gentiles who had no idea about the God of Abraham! They had no conception of worshipping The One and Only God of the Universe! They had no background of Old Testament Scriptures to guide them to know the God of Creation!

Tracking God's dramatic activity from Adam to the Jerusalem Church and to God's mission beyond until The End is unfathomable.

Breath-taking!

How did God actually do it???

How was it possibly achievable???

From start to finish

And how could anyone predict what God was up to from the creation of the world until now?

Could anyone predict the twists and turns God maneuvered since that moment in the beginning of time when God communicated with Adam, his highest created being?

It is only because we know that God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden that we know God's ultimate goal is to find "those few" for close communion in the Bliss of Paradise.

Adam and Eve lost Paradise in the beginning of time because God has temporarily allowed Satan, the Tempter, to be Prince of the Power of the Air. Eph.2:2 Jn.12:31; 14:30; 16:11 This Tempter once even had a shot at Jesus the Christ by offering him "ownership of all earthly kingdoms," but Jesus rebuffed Satan easily and quickly with only the spoken Word of Scripture.Matt.4:1-11 And this is the only way we too can rebuff Satan's onslaught of temptations enticing us today!

God had a plan in all of this.

And through the strange chain of events during 6000 years, God has worked out his unfolding plan.

God selected Abraham who became the "Father of the Jews" and the "Father of the Faithful." Abraham was that single solitary man God took a chance on. Abraham haltingly began God's race of "the chosen few." But 4000 years later that race of Jews rejected Jesus after God birthed him in a manager. The race of Jews rejected and crucified the very Messiah that God had planned for returning his "chosen few" back to the ecstasy of Paradise Bliss.

The world is God's creation, so he has the prerogative to operate any way through any series of occurrences and with any kind of system he chooses.

One of my mother's favorite songs was "This Is My Father's World."

This is my Fatherís world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Fatherís world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Fatherís world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Makerís praise.
This is my Fatherís world: He shines in all thatís fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Fatherís world. O let me neíer forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Fatherís world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heavín be one.

This is my Fatherís world, dreaming, I see His face.
I ope my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, ďThe Lord is in this place.Ē
This is my Fatherís world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Cameóa pledge of deathless love.

This is my Fatherís world, should my heart be ever sad?
The lord is Kingólet the heavens ring. God reignsólet the earth be glad.
This is my Fatherís world. Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.

This is my Fatherís world. I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze God makes His glory known.
This is my Fatherís world, a wanderer I may roam
Whateíer my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.

All that God did - in his world - through the eons of time up until to this present-day is called a mystery! Dan.2; Rom.11:25; Eph.1:9 These were secret things known only to God.Deut.29:29 And God has privately and confidentially kept each segment of these secret things of his mystery until the appropriate moment in time when he has chosen to reveal them.Rom.16:25

The Role of Prophecy in Revealing God's Time-Table

When anyone wants to know imminent events in what God is up to, the answer lies in (1) knowing and understanding Scripture, and (2) deciphering prophecy accurately. God is supreme and sovereign. He has a plan. And he has generously revealed himself and his plan ever so secretively and subtlety in prophecy.

In fact, God did "nothing" without revealing his secrets to his prophets!!! Amos 3:7; Dan.2:47 The Bible is composed of 25% prophecy, and understanding prophecy is extremely critical in knowing God's next move on earth in his time-table.2 Pet.1:19

It was prophecy that announced the Savior would return God's greatest creation back to himself after the Fall in the Garden.Isa.43:11, 21; Hos.13:4; Rev.19:10

It was prophecy that predicted the Jews would reject Jesus, and God smashed their landmarks and dissolved their national image as he scattered them among the nations for their rejection.Lev.26:33

It was prophecy that predicted that the Gentiles would be joined with Jews in the return to the Bliss of Paradise for an eternity with the Creator. Gen.22:15; Ps.82:8 When the Jews rejected God's Son specially-sent from heaven itself, God took his special plan to non-Jews, the Gentiles. God took his special plan to those heathens who had made gods to every imaginable controlling element in the universe and who had become unbelievably vile.

And it was prophecy, announced by Jesus, that predicted the Jews would be disbursed and then revive, an event that began about 40 years after he spoke those words and has lasted for almost 20 centuries until the War of 1947-1948 when Israel once again became a nation.Matt.24; Mk.13:28

The Last Generation before God Returns

We don't have much time left. Only God knows the exact hour of his return to bring everything together.Rev.3:3 But he has been extremely specific about the approximate time of his return.

Jesus made the prediction to his disciples that his second coming - the culmination of God's plan at "the end of the age" - would come with complete surprise "after the gospel was preached to all nations." Matt.24:14

Long before the Pony Express and FedEx, outreach "to all nations" at the far corners of the globe was a real stretch of the imagination. Before the telegraph, Telstar, and satellite television, "preaching the gospel to all nations of the world" was a far stretch of the imagination. Witnessing the events of the last moments of judgment on earth by the entire world at the same moment as Jesus comes and "every eye shall behold him"Rev.1:7 was a far stretch of the imagination until CNN. But now Jesus' prediction can be easily comprehended. God has reserved that secret moment of the "day and hour" when he will consummate his plan, but an imminent return is easily apparent. We already are experiencing prophetic prediction of "wars and rumors of wars,"Lu.21:9 as "men get worse and worse."2 Tim.3:13

Wicked corruption will mark Jesus' second coming. The filthy wickedness of the world will compare to the corruption of Noah's ageLu.17:26-27 and Sodom and Gomorrah.2 Pet.2:6 So, his return cannot be too far off.

When God chose Abram, he gave him a two-fold promise.

(1) He promised to bless him with a child who would become a nation. That "race" of God's "chosen few" was started with the miracle of Isaac who was born of a mom too old to get pregnant. From that single family, the Jews became God's "chosen few" who proliferated like the stars of the heavens and the sands by the sea shore.Heb.11:12 (Astronomer Carl Sagan has estimated that the total number of stars in the heavens is comparable to the number of sands on the beaches.) But even as the "chosen few" grew in number as a race, those among the Jewish people who really believed in the invisible God remained only a "few." God barely retained even the "few" because the Jews repeatedly slipped into meaningless ritualism and despicable violation of God's rules. Though God promised Israel his bounty of blessings like Eden only limited by Adam's curse, "the race" of "the few" dwindled because Satan thrives on one fact of life: living by faith in the unknown is far more challenging than gratifying immediate pleasures craved with physical sensations.

In other words, we have the ironical choice to wallow with indulgence through life driven by the sensual satisfactions we perceive, or to transcend the physical senses in recognition of the imperceptible God and his strangely profound and mysterious guidance through life. What a challenge!

God's protocol is not our protocol. What God is attempting to achieve in the world is not the world's ambition. What God is attempting to achieve in our lives is not what we tend to aspire. We prefer sensual satisfaction rather than true submission to the wishes of an invisible God who genuinely cares about each of us. How easy it is for even believers to pray the prayer Jesus taught, "Thy will be done,"Matt.6:10 while insisting on fulfillment of our own will.

The Jewish race God established through Abraham had that same choice. They chose to gratify physical sensations. And once again, God permitted full cycle to "the consequences of choice," even though punishing his chosen people for disobedience meant the momentary defeat of his own purposes.

God's promises are always certain, but always conditional. God established the Jewish nation from Abraham's seed. But to be blessed as a Jew was conditional upon obedience.

(2) God's second promise to Abram was ownership of a special land. Israel left Egypt as slaves to become real estate owners that they themselves described as a "land flowing with milk and honey." Israel would have conquered all of the land shown to Moses before his death, if only their faith had been as buoyant in defeating the tiny city of Ai as in simply marching around mighty Jericho until the huge protective walls of the city came tumbling down with their trumpet blasts.

But again, Satan was victorious in ultimately blinding the eyes of even God's "chosen few," and Israel was dispersed and destroyed as a nation in their capture and deportation to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. God punished Israel, the Jews of his special choosing to be his own race, because of their utter failure to believe, the very faith for which he had chosen them!

God's Manifesto of Promises cannot be received as long as our eyes are blinded.

Blinded. Blinded. Satan has been victorious in blinding eyes. Human eyes that cannot perceive spiritual entities or the spiritual war between God and Satan. Blinded eyes that Jesus came to heal so they could see once again.Isa.42:16; Matt.9:27-30; Lu.4:18 Saul's eyes that were blinded to the Jesus he persecuted, until "scales fell" from his eyes.Ac.9:18 The eyes of the Jews that could not recognize the identity of Jesus, that blinded them for centuries until God brought the Gentiles into his "buy-back" plan.

Truth is light. Deceit and sin are darkness. Satan, "the god of this world," hides the truth by blinding us to God's light.2 Cor.4:1-7 God has chosen the cross alone as his only power to break Satan's blinding power. 1 Cor.1:18; Rom.1:16; Col.1:20 Understanding the cross is God's only scalpel in the Open Heart Surgery of the willing patient who is either ignorant or rebellious.Ac.16:13-15

God's integrity was at stake. His ultimate objective had not yet been fulfilled. The human race was not at all qualified to live by faith in obedience to God's will in order to move back into God's Garden of Eden!Isa.51:1-3 Yet, ever so dimly as understood through a careful analysis of historical perspective, unmistakable signs seemed to appear on the horizon that hinted God was not quite through with his plan. But these signs did not follow human conception of normal sequence of events or elements of time.

Then, after 1878 years, Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948, following approval of the United Nations the previous year. Surprisingly, the Jews had once again regained Palestine, as in the time of Saul, David, and Solomon.


Jesus lived when the magnificent Temple built in Solomon's glory days had been rebuilt by Herod the Great after its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar. It was one of the Wonders of the Ancient World. Jesus worshipped in Herod's Temple.

Jesus had entered Herod's Temple in raging rebuke at the dishonor of the Jews for making God's House a "den of thieves."Matt.21:13 And once, Jesus had looked at the reconstruction of those huge stones, many weighing 5 tons and more, and had predicted that those stones would be "thrown down."Matt.13:1-3 Forty years later, the temple was destroyed again, and those mighty stones were dislodged in disarray upon one another. But this same temple as a house of praise to God was finally rebuilt again only after the Jews captured Jerusalem in the Seven-Day War of 1967.

Sufficient Proof for even the Last Generation

In this last generation before God returns, we first needed a chronicle of historical events to understand what God had been up to through the centuries. In our day of intellectual sophistication, we needed to correspond all modern knowledge and current discoveries to the past. To reinforce our faith of today, we especially needed to know a history of events dating back to before man became literate enough to write.

We had no authored narrative of the world's beginning, apart from the Bible!

Otherwise, the beginning of time was only an educated guess by evolutionists who scoffed at the biblical account.

Only some bones, earth strata, and stone marks on a cave or two. Only some skulls to examine. Only a guess by evaluating current emerging science. I have a tenant who is a divinity student at Vanderbilt that just returned from an archeological dig in Palestine, as every inch of this land so rich in history continues to be examined.

I recently read a report that astronomers examining "outer" space through the Hubble telescope had tentatively concluded an answer to the perpetual "which came first, chicken or egg?" dilemma that has befuddled scientists. These evolutionists now believe that the Black Holes in space came before the galaxies of the heavens, of which earth is a part.

Even today, we have no reliable idea of how the world began apart from unprovable theories, except that Moses became God's scribe to record those first events in the history of the world, and to state God's prophetic intentions.

How reliable is this account of God's plan?

The manner in which God miraculously preserved this ancient history is astounding. Many of the first stories in God's plan occurred long before mankind had learned to pen the chronicles of literature in writing. Without those written and preserved Words from God, we would never know this history.

Even then, man's finite mental capacity has difficulty in spanning thousands of years into the past to comprehend the compression of intent within the winding thread of details. The book worm may enjoy the novel or the romance, but maybe not history. Relatively few are history majors or historians. Love for the past is not #1 on the Hit Parade of human interests.

And we cannot easily comprehend all this history because it cannot be stacked neatly in a box. We cannot lay it all out on an examining table. The thousands of pieces of the jigsaw puzzle cannot correctly fit into place without intense study and extended analysis.

But we have no other way to grasp what God has been up to. Behavior springs from knowledge, so if we lack knowledge of God, how can our behavior respond to God's Word?

We seem to revere knowledge in our society. College education has become a tradition for which "we generously pay but fail to get." Some don't like the cost of education, but look at the cost of ignorance! But if we don't have knowledge, we slide down the slippery slope of trial and error to the pits of ignorance and stupidity! I once had a professor who said only one thing I remember: "2% think, 8% think they think, and 90% would rather die than have a thought."

Knowledge requires study. To attain a knowledgeable understanding of God's perspective of human life on this planet during our brief stay, we must expend the effort of studious examination.

What percentage of the world's population - even of regular church-going people - really know the Bible, verse by verse and chapter by chapter??? Maybe a kid's random memorized verse from Sunday School? But what about a correlated, systematic knowledge of content of this Master Plan for Gaining Entrance Tickets to Eternal Life???

In America's early 1800s, pioneers experienced a Religious Awakening. Itinerant preachers rode the circuits horseback to little backwoods log church buildings to feed the farm people who were hungry to know God's Word. Abraham Lincoln studied his page-worn Bible by the light of a fireplace after a long workday at his store. Revivals sprang up all over the frontier, led by amateurishly-scholared preachers who could quote Scriptures from Old and New Testaments, backwards and forwards. Some could be given a portion of a verse from anywhere in the Bible, and quote the verses before it and after it with ease. But Satan was at work even then. And some historians in our day say that more babies were conceived than sinners saved at these huge outdoor evening Camp Meetings that often lasted for weeks between "laying by" a crop and harvest.

Yet God wanted you and me to know about these earth-shaking landmarks in early history at the beginning of time. He wanted us to know the consequences of choice. So years after the fact, Moses was selected to be God's Stenographer. Moses became the scribe to take God's Shorthand, making sure all mankind through the centuries could know our ancient past.

God chose Moses because he was one of the most literate guys in the world during his time. Moses had been raised in Pharaoh's Egyptian household. That position within itself was a miracle! Moses had been born to a dedicated Jewish mom who was determined to save her son from an edict that was killing Jewish babies left and right. She hid her baby boy in the bulrushes of the Nile, and no doubt it was God's providence that led Pharaoh's daughter to find the kid crying in his floating basket as she came one fateful morning to bathe with her maids. No doubt it was God's providence that led Pharaoh's daughter to accept Moses' mom as the child's nurse and caretaker when she came running from her hiding place to offer her help. No doubt it was God's providence that supervised Moses' miraculous transition from targeted child of death to palace home.

So, Moses grew up in the style and manner of kings. He rubbed shoulders with Pharaoh. He joked with the wise men of his court. His tutors knew their lives were on the line if they taught him anything but the most comprehensive in world knowledge. He had the finest education of anyone in this nation that dominated the world.

And God revealed to Moses the details of Adam and Eve's disobedient milestone. God used the handwriting skill of the best professional copyrighter in the world to indelibly etch the details of the historic markers from the beginning of time so that every successive generation could know and understand.

And later, God also used Moses' literate skills for carving his Ten Commandments on tablets of stone at Mount Sinai.

This private, behind-the-scenes description and interpretation of God's activity in the dawn of time as recorded in the Bible corresponds with all we know of the dawn of civilization. There is no disagreement in Moses' account with any other authentic literature or archeological findings we have today, assuring us of the Bible's authenticity. The whole book fits together. We are told that "every Scripture is inspired of God." 2 Tim.3:16 The Greek word for "inspired" means "God breathed." How can we possibly imagine how God actually "breathed" the words of this knowledge into spoken syllables that floated through the air into Moses' trained and eager mind???

The phenomenon of inspired Scripture has amazing pin-point precision accuracy!!! Look at a single example in the writing of Josephus, a prominent secular historian who was contemporary with New Testament writers. Josephus was not a Christian and had no interest in Christianity. He simply recorded "the facts" as a good historian. He mentions Jesus as a "wise teacher" who was crucified by Pilate and who appeared alive after three days.Antiquities of the Jews 18:3.3 But note especially what he records about the death of King Herod, ruler of the Jews in Jesus' time. Josephus states: "He was taken with abdominal pains after five days with great agony."Antiquities of the Jews 17:169; Jewish War 1:656 Josephus knew about Herod's demise, and provided future generations with sufficient general review of his death without possessing any available surgeon's diagnosis or autopsy. However Dr. Luke, the physician author of the account in Acts, is much more precise in describing Herod's death, with his inspiration of the omniscient God who possessed x-ray vision of Herod's mind and body in those last moments of life. Dr. Luke tells of King Herod's violent persecution of Christians in the new church begun on Pentecost. Dr. Luke explains how King Herod accepted the people's praise for this persecution "as the voice of a god and not of a man."Ac.12:22 Then Dr. Luke records: "An angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died.Ac.12:23 New American Standard What pin-point precision accuracy!!! The omniscient God knew Herod's vanity. The supreme God knew Herod vaunted himself as a god. And the God of judgment executed his ruling. Dr. Luke, by inspiration, explained the cause of death otherwise unknown in that era of medical science!

And God has predicted in advance what he is up to in over 300 prophecies within the Bible covering a span of 1500 years, from Moses the first Author until John and Paul.

All of these prophecies have already been fulfilled, EXCEPT those that predict the end of all time on earth.

The sovereign God himself reserves the right to decide and know the exact day and hour when he will return, Matt.25:13 but the prophecies indicate that the time is ALMOST HERE!

Before the prophecy could be fulfilled that "a nation would be born in a day," Isa.66:8 Israel had to be established again as a nation.

Before the prophecy could be fulfilled in which "eyes rot in the sockets and tongues rot in the mouth - instantly while the body is still standing,"Jer.14:12 the nuclear age had to appear. But now we know that fusion of hydrogen reaches 5 million degrees in only a blink!!!

God has planned to bring the entire chaos of life on earth to an ultimate head in a final cataclysmic confrontation.

When it is over, God will reveal himself as Sovereign Victor. And then, Satan and his unbelieving followers will be eternally punished in a fiery hell of torment.Rev.20

Can it really be true? Is it believable?

What if this whole thing is a hoax? Is the Bible just a figment of the imagination, as many say? Suppose there is no God or Satan - nothing more than just a fantasy of many do-gooders flourishing over the centuries as a "Good Life Cheerleaders' Manual." Maybe it's simply a good positive idea someone started putting together years ago, and it perpetuated. Maybe it is just a crutch for losers to hang on to, but nothing to it. Maybe it is the ultimate "Power of Positive Thinking," putting Normal Vincent Peale to shame. Perhaps it is a waste of time and energy to study this out. Maybe when we come to the end of the road, we're like Rover, "we roll over and die, and when we're dead, we're dead all over." So, let's continue to "take life easy; eat, drink, and be merry!"Lu.12:19

If you cannot believe God is up to something new, different and exciting in your life after an honest, diligent study of his Word, then it is simply poppycock to you!

The man who wrote more of the Bible than any other author said: "If our hope in Christ is good for this life only and no more, then we deserve more pity than anyone else in all the world." 1 Cor.15:19 GNT

What about God's claim that he really sent his Son, with the detailed prophecy of how he would die and then rise. After all, the most significant claim in the Bible is the resurrection of a man named Jesus. This man's life and crucifixion is described not only in the Bible, but is also acknowledged in secular literature by the contemporary historian, Josephus. Suppose you reject everything about Jesus' miracles and wise teachings. Whether he was really the divine Son of God depends ultimately on just one unmistakable miracle - The Resurrection. He is NO MORE THAN A MERE MAN if he died on the cross - as Josephus testifies - and his body rotted in the tomb where his friends laid him. Or, if he only fainted on the cross, and was secretly resuscitated later. Can his resurrection possibly be really true?

How many witnesses would it take to prove God's claim?

The Word of God says Jesus the Christ was seen by over 500 witnesses after his resurrection from a borrowed tomb.1 Cor.15:6 Is that number of witnesses enough to corroborate God's claim?

Five hundred confirming witnesses is strong proof. (We don't require that in trials of criminal law today!). But on the other hand, if God's claim is not believable with 500 witnesses to the fact, would 1000 witnesses seal it???

And what if the Bible is NOT true. What else answers the burning questions about the beginning of life on earth? What else explains existence on this planet? Where else is hope in life and beyond the grave? Is God really TRUTH as he claims? You have an instinct about mankind, as we all do, so...

can you honestly place your confidence about living now and life in the hereafter on another human being and his ideas, whether they are revered in today's world or in the ancient past?

If you can, there's this beachfront property I'd like to sell you in the desert sands of Arizona.

Is it possible God is still at it,
here at the last???

Since God started this search for "a few good men and woman" in the beginning of time, and has used so many strange and unlikely men and women along the way...why would he stop this same unusual pattern before the end of time?

Is it possible he just might be able to use you, too?

Do you think God could use you in his plan...now that his time-line is almost completed?

Do you think God could use your life to fulfill his purpose, now that his activity of the ages has almost culminated...just as he did with Abraham, Moses, and Paul?

Is it too much to conceive that God could even use you in this mind-staggering plan...far too complex and too mysterious to possibly comprehend completely?

God himself said, "I know the plans I have for you."Jer.29:11 And God's "plans" for you were in his mind, even when you were in the womb! Gen.25:23; Isa.49:1-5; Jer.1:5; Lu.1:15; Gal.1:15

But...you can never grasp those plans unless and until you dig into the Word of God - to even partially comprehend the mind of God.

And after digging into the Word of God, the scriptures must be interpreted correctly.

Interpreted correctly? The scripture states, "Let him that stole, steal." Really??? Incorrect interpretation. The verse continues, " Let him that stole, steal no more!" Eph.4:28; Ex.20:15 The scripture states, "Beware of dogs."Phil.3:2 Is the Bible a Training Manual for Veterinarians? Or, is this a warning for children? Incorrect interpretation. Scripture must be studied and interpreted with even more vigor and intensity than for any school exam. And the consequences of our efforts are far more monumental!

ONLY WHEN YOU BEGIN TO KNOW GOD'S MIND WILL YOU DISCOVER:

~ that God will lead you victoriously through life, as he led the Jews to the Promised Land with a "cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night! Exod.13:21; Neh.9:19; Ps.48:14; Isa.49:10; Rev.7:17

~ that "all things will work together for good!Rom.8:28

~ that you "can do all things through Christ who strengthens you!"Php.4:13

~ that whatever you believe without doubts "will be done for you!"Mk.11:23

~ that even a thimble full of "faith" is sufficient to move mountains!Matt.17:20; 21:21

~ that God can "raise up believers even from rocks!"Matt.3:9

ONLY THEN WILL YOU DISCOVER:

~ that your empty life can be replaced with utmost fulfillment by the God who can do "far more abundantly than all that we ask or think."Eph.3:20

~ that your finances can be restored by the God who enables "wealth" for his task to do good and to help the helpless.Deut.8:18

~ that your marriage can ascend far above the misery level of the 50% of relationships that begins in the glorious aura of love's magic with anticipation of everlasting honeymoon...but ends in divorce, because "if two of you agree on anything," God will do it.Matt.18:19; Gen.2:24

~ that your health can be healed, because God has always said he would "heal" if we turned to himAc.28:27 - the Great Physician, who never used medicine!

The list of blessings God promises to those who believe goes on and on. The only book to ever contain such blessings is the Bible, and that's the condensed version! How these blessings actually play out in the lives of believers cannot be condensed or abbreviated.

Just take a look at our concern for safety in today's crime-riddled society. Who in his right mind can avoid concern about the possibility of a home invasion at some unexpected moment in life, with a gunman leveling a six-shooter at his head, with his family on their knees? It's too late for the cops in that split-second. Insurance pays after death, so where is assurance before death? Can you imagine God writing a document for Christian instruction with a list of pointers for situations like this? But..the Word of God wraps up assurance in a nutshell with a single phrase: "No weapon that is fashioned against you shall prosper." Isa.54:17 Some ole Southern boy, in his own language, might put it, " Don't you worry 'bout some nut stickin' a rifle in yor ribs if you have faith in the protection of an invisible God." That's insurance and assurance.

We as believers right now, in the here and now, have power from on high!Lu.24:29

"Put me to the test," God says. "I will open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing."Mal.3:10 RSV I will give you wells you did not dig, and vineyards you did not plant. Deut.6:10-11

Could you be the next bumbling-fumbling redneck God needs for the unfolding of his plan, like Peter?

Could you be the next prostitute in God's plan, as was Rahab or the woman at the well?

Could you be the next homosexual in God's plan, as some of the believers in Corinth?1 Cor.6:9

Could you be another Les Feldick, Oklahoma rancher and farmer who started teaching simple, penetrating Bible studies in 1975, taught 13 years at Eastern State College in Wilberton, Oklahoma, and now teaches millions across the country on television each day? (www.LesFeldick.org)

Could you be the next John Hagee, whom God started grooming to carry the gospel to the 220 nations of the world after a humble beginning in those first years sleeping on a floor mat while sharing a neighbor's garage with a huge face-licking dog? (www.JHM.org)

Do you go to work at a job every day and have some assets...that could be used in God's plan? Or, are you retired, and live on a pension...but could "give all" like the pauper who gave her last pennies to God?Mk.12:42 Or, are you a penniless panhandler or a homeless street person...who could only give your testimony?

Yes, it seems like, from his past performance, God could and can use you, too.

Is it possible that with some extra thought and desire, you too could become pliable enough for God to come up with something that you also could do for his glory...something that ignites your potential and explodes your capacity?

Jesus implored his followers to believe9 times and have faith.20 times "Your faith has made you well."Lu.17:19 "Faith" will move mountains. Matt.17:20 "Let it happen, just as you believe!" Matt.9:29 GNT

If God is still at work in this ole world...Jn.5:17

and if Jesus could take 12 ordinary, uneducated guys, some fishermen and, yes, a tax man, even hypocrites, cowards, and a back-stabber... Matt.4:18-19; Mk.2:14; Matt.23/Ac.23:6; Matt.26:69; 10:4

and turn Rome - the greatest empire the world had ever known - and the entire world ~ ~ ~ upside down...Mk.12:42

is any makeover job too tough for God???

What is God up to...

as he sneaks a peak at you?

Don't be surprised what this God can do and will do if you take the risk to submit your life to his ever-evolving, never-understandable plan while being used by him.

Do you know anyone who has ever taken this chance to submit in "faith" to his sovereign hand...who was even slightly disappointed in that decision?

Do you know of anyone who has ever taken this chance to submit in "faith" to his sovereign hand...who was able to fully comprehend - or understand even in retrospect - just what God was doing and had done in their life?

We like to measure achievement in ourselves and in others.

The sports world measures physical achievement.

The names of the first Olympic winners were recorded in 776 B.C., but the games date back another 1500 years. Swimmers laud Michael Phelps for his feat in the '08 Olympics. But his 14 gold medals

will someday be surpassed in another Olympics. Roger Bannister ran the first Four-Minute Mile in 1954. It was human endurance beyond the possible! But the record barrier has been broken by other athletes many times since then, including teenager Jim Ryun's 3:55 run just 11 years later on June 27, 1965.

We humans set goals for accomplishments. We brag and boast about our achievements. And what we attain seems astounding to us.

I was proud of my association with Success Motivation (SMI) years ago. I inspired businessmen to attain their highest aspirations, and even authored an advanced version, "Adventures in Self-Awareness." My consulting practice in Human Resources was employed by many of Nashville's "Top 100 Businesses." Then, using the psychological principles of this system, I entered the profession of real estate investing. Over 30 years ago, I set unprecedented records that were recognized in The Wall St.Journal as "Most Successful Investor in Nothing Down Real Estate Investments." I was awarded "Top Investor of the Year," and won a weeklong Caribbean cruise.

But my achievements had no significance in the panorama of eternity.

And I've got to tell you something else. With all the accolades applauded for breaking real estate investment records and becoming a multi-millionaire in only three years by buying millions of dollars in property with no cash and no credit...I made a HUGE MISTAKE. Now, I hate to rain on the parade for all you Zig Zigler and Tony Robbins fans that won't agree with my conclusion. I, too, have been a motivational speaker and author (but not with such renown). I understand motivation, goals, scientific planning, visualization, affirmations, and all the rest of the bag involved in creating personal success - I understand it like the back of my hand. But here is the HUGE MISTAKE I learned the hard way.

NOTHING is wrong with the thrust of Napoleon Hill's "Think and Grow Rich:" "Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve."

Or, with Paul Meyer's credo for goal-setting in SMI:

"Whatever you vividly imagine,
ardently desire,
sincerely believe,
and enthusiastically act upon
...must inevitably come to pass!"


The Scriptures express the same thought more succinctly, as James Allen wrote in his popular book, "As A Man Thinketh," based on Prov.23:7 -

"For as the thoughts of his heart are, so is he."The Bible in Basic English Translation

But understanding Jesus' Model Prayer IS THE IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS in this goal-accomplishment concept I wish I had comprehended. I have made so many mistakes over the years because of not understanding this goal-accomplishment concept (as well as not understanding most of the other concepts in this study). And here is the understanding I have finally grasped after 70 years (and this element has never been exposed by the Self-Help crowd):

We who believe in God must first seek God's Will in our lives before implementing the process for actualization of goal-achievement! It's the order of process!

Jesus taught: "Our Father which art in heaven...Thy will be done." Matt.6:9

Or, as Jesus elsewhere said: "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matt.6:33 NIV

Otherwise, Self-Help books, seminars, and programs are nothing more than humanistic attempts to replace God with...self! Without comprehending the will of God first is nothing more than ME, ME, ME.

Whatever we determine we should give heart and soul to achieve in life MUST be in accord with God's will - if we believe and submit to God's will.

BEFORE setting out on any campaign to "succeed in life" (which is appropriate for us as it was for the Apostle Paul as long as we accurately perceive that persistent drive toward suitable objectives in the light of Scripture), we MUST pray and understand God's will for our personal lives!

Paul looked at his own achievements in life, and said, "I consider it all as mere garbage."Phil.3:8 GNT The King James version calls it the nasty word, "dung."

No doubt, Paul used every valid technique known to "Self-Help" in his unrelenting endeavors from the moment of his miraculous conversion to his death as a martyr.

We celebrate our trivial accomplishments with champagne and parties. But by comparison, the invisible God is continuously demonstrating his profound power in unfathomable mystery of astonishing feats! Yet all the while, "the preoccupied, self-indulgent world" is oblivious to God's astounding achievements in the lives of believers.

God responds in incomprehensible dimensions to unswerving "faith" - not to those who just believe in him, but to those who believe him.

A widow and her son were down to their last slice of corn bread while starving in a famine when a prophet of God asked for the last bite. When she willingly gave it to him in "faith," her empty oil cruse and scanty canister of meal began filling to the brim where it leveled off for the remainder of the famine...while her faithless neighbors died in hunger.1 Kg.17:8-16

A ranking army officer had "faith" that his tormented servant with palsy could be healed by Jesus ~ ~ ~ if only he could implore the mercy of this homeless carpenter with a reputation for healing marvels. And sure enough, the very words of Jesus healed him in the same hour.Matt.8:5-13

Some young men with "faith in God" bucked the legal system that decreed death if they worshiped Jehovah God, but an angel of God joined Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in a fiery furnace to prevent even their clothes from absorbing the stench of smoke from the fire.Dan.3:12-27

"Without faith, it is impossible to please God."Heb.11:1

Is it around the bend?

What can God do in your life before that final moment in time? One thing is for certain. God is up to something great and good in some mysterious way in your life...

IF YOU BELIEVE.

The question is not whether you "believe in God." The question is: Do you believe God!

We all believe in a lot of things.

Don Williams in his 1980 Platinum hit, I Believe in You, sang:

"I believe in love...

I believe in babies...

I believe in mom and dad...

I believe in music...

I believe in magic...

I believe in old folks...

I believe in children."

That's a wonderful list. Most of us would agree with each.

You might even add: I believe in God.

But could you add: I believe God!

YOU are a descendent of Adam and Eve who "believed in God," but did not believe God! They could hear him talking to them, so they believed in God. They experienced life at its best, so they believed in this God who had created it for them. But they damned us to suffering, pain, and problems because their belief was as superficial as a Glamour Girl's smile.

However, you are also a descendent of Abraham by adoption,Eph.1:5 who not only "believed in God, but so much more importantly, believed God!!! Abraham lived life on the cutting edge with risk-taking certainty and foreknowledge of assurance. He knew he was traveling the Glory Road with the Sovereign Pilot because he believed God!!!

Moses was a great man of God. No one who has studied the Bible would deny that Moses was endowed with faith from his birth by a momma who refused to believe that Pharaoh could execute her baby boy. She believed that her son would survive, even with Pharaoh's edict that all Hebrew boys were to be killed. Moses was saved by Pharaoh's daughter "accidentally" falling in love with the kid who was floating in the bulrushes when she came to bathe. Even from his youth, Moses realized that God had destined him. Moses lived as a "king's son" for 40 years in Egypt. But when Moses killed the Egyptian man who was abusing the slave, who was his Jewish brother, God sent the escaping Moses into the barren wilderness in preparation for leading God's people out of Egypt. Then, Moses spent 40 years in leading the stubborn Jewish people on a trip to their Promised Land. Yet...when God told Moses to speak to a rock to supply water for the thirst-quenched people and their animals, Moses struck the rock twice in disobedience to God. Moses remembered that once before he had just struck a dry rock at God's command, and cold, refreshing water had gushed forth like a geyser faucet! But this time God changed the rules, and in anger he struck the rock as before. And Moses was denied the joyful destiny to the anticipated land flowing with milk and honey. His denial was not because he simply struck the rock. He was denied the promise because of "unbelief!" Num.20:7-13; Heb.3:14-19 Moses will ultimately rejoice in heaven with all the saints,Heb.11:24-28; 11:39-40 but his journey through life was marred on that occasion because of his "unbelief," as is the journey of all of us who believe but yet too - like Moses - experience some momentary lapse in believing God.

One of the jewels of the Bible for the believer is 2 Chron.20. Perhaps it should be called "the Golden Text of the Bible." It is hidden unnoticed among all the boring genealogies of the Old Testament, but it is one of the most illuminating examples of "faith-in-action" - actually believing God.

Men in the Cradle of Civilization congregated in cities for self-protection. Beyond the fringes of these cities were plotting bands of thieves and killers who threatened their independence. Even worse, several cities often amassed huge armies collectively to capture goods and slaves from neighboring cities. Safety from Machiavellian conquerors was top priority of the day, forcing constant vigilance for survival.

From their guard posts outside the city of Jerusalem, army scouts suddenly saw a vast horde of enemies on distant hills advancing for war against Israel. The scouts quickly returned with the warning announcement to King Jehoshaphat that the approaching army was so vast that doom was inevitable.

War in olden days, like now, meant "dog eat dog." The "law of the jungle" meant survival of the fittest. The most mighty of the mightiest was conqueror. No person or civilization could relax their watch. You protected yourself, or you became a slave to the champion.

The numbers said it all. The invading army was a coalition many times greater than King Jehoshaphat's army. Doom was inevitable.

This was a good time to pray to an unseen God, if belief could actually be mustered when visible evidence proved rather substantial.

King Jehoshaphat was a descendent of Abraham, "the father of those who believe." In a flash of memory, he recalled the history of the Jews he had been taught as a child. In a test of "faith" when response was "do or die," he made his stand.

He called his people together in the temple, and led them in a prayer meeting.

"O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. O our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, 'If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us." 2 Chron:20:6-9

This prayer was not a ritual. The entire assembly meant every word. Survival was at stake!

"For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you."

Response came from the Spirit of the Lord through Jahaziel: "This is what the Lord says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. Tomorrow march down against them...You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.'"

After receiving their marching orders from God in prayer, they worshipped their Creator.

King Jehoshaphat reaffirmed their belief. "Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful."

Fear vanished in faith, because "faith and fear cannot remain in the same mind at the same time." The Demon of Doubt was consumed with Positive Declaration. No moping, no whining, no tears-in-your-beer. It was all settled in the mind. Suddenly, the visible was united with the invisible.

If you read the Scripture, the response of the people reflects behavioral change. Ever tried to sing when you're blue and melancholy? Ever tried to even hum a tune when depressed? But when "faith" saturates the mind, the attitude of spirit turns to joy! Ecstasy launches a melody on the lips that swells from inner tranquility and joyful anticipation.

King Jehoshaphat actually "appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: 'Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.'" And as they began to sing and praise, "the Lord set ambushes" against their enemy, and the battle was quickly over in miraculous defeat.

The victorious army of Israel "saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped."

Plundering their would-be conquerors took three days, and even then, they could not take it all away!

"Led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the Lord had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the Lord with harps and lutes and trumpets. The fear of God came upon all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side."

That's the historical account. It has been on record for over 3000 years. Doubters pooh-pooh it. "Faith" is belief in it. Faith knows it happened then, and the same attitude of reverence for the sovereign God knows it happens in life today too.

That's the concise portrait of faith that illustrates best what God has been up to for 6000 years...

in preparing "those few" who will make the triumphant entry back into The Paradise of Bliss in a "new heaven and a new earth."
Rev.21:1

Paradise in the New Heaven will not be eating Bonbons in a La-Z-Boy watching late TV on some distant cloud to the tune of an angel strumming a harp, like a cowboy soothing drunks on a bar stool in a tavern with his ballads at midnight.

Don't know all we'll do during the Return to Paradise, but this much is revealed. The New Heaven will be an everlasting City of God, where the Glory of God and Lamp of the Lamb provide the light. The walls of the city have been made of a single pearl!Rev.21:10-26 The entire city and streets have been constructed with pure gold, but are as transparent as glass! Sparkling jewels of every kind can be seen in every direction. Any mental picture is unimaginable, because God has prepared what "no eye has seen nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived."1 Cor.2:9

Perhaps we will roam the galaxies of space together with God. Maybe we will create more physical entities with him. Maybe we will explore the entire unseen realm with him. Whatever we do, we will see God visibly and hear God audibly - as did Adam and Eve in the beginning of time before he closed down Paradise Bliss and isolated it as "off-limits." That was the nature of the original Garden of Eden. But in contrast, we will not be limited to our ties on this earth in the new Paradise Bliss, as they were in the original Garden of Eden. The panoramic scenario of The New Heavens and the New Earth with our new activities is inconceivable!

All of us are invited to this eternal existence with God,Rev.22:17 for Jesus is knocking at the door of each heart.Rev.3:20 But the path is narrow toward God's ideal that leads back to the ecstasy of the Garden of Eden.Matt.7:14; Isa.51:3 And though "many are called, few are chosen."Matt.22:14

Those few of us who believe, or have faith, in the unseen God are looking beyond life-in-the-now to Life-Beyond. We are seeing what cannot be seen with our physical eyes. Our hope is founded on Truth nowhere else revealed except in God's Word. We are basing our entire value system in the present and all future expectations on just one Source. It is through this simple choice of anticipating a delayed reward beyond human comprehension that extends so far beyond "seeming rewards enjoyed" in the Here-and-Now.

Life for believers in Paradise is existence that defies our grasp. We will surround the throne of God, know each other, and be dressed fit for royalty. No need for old-age pills, or medicine "for fast relief." Total fulfillment. Actively engaged, for God is a being of active fulfillment. No tears, no sorrow! Each of us will receive title to a mansion currently under construction, with no loan or monthly PITI payment required.Jn.14.2 We will be given dazzling white robes.Rev.6:11; Lu.24:4 We will wear a beautiful white stone around our neck inscribed with our new heavenly name written in a special mysterious code. Rev.2:17 And upon our head will be an unfading crown of glory.1 Pet.5:4 Jewish Bible Life again will be bliss as companions with God. No problems. No worry or stress. No pain. No tears. Just joy, peace, love, excitement, contentment, and happiness. Breath-taking discovery in every day. The abundant life!

I know so little about the personality of God. But I know his identity, his role in this thing called life, and his expectations and promises for me ~ ~ ~ only in his revelation. And it all is learned and can be visualized ~ ~ ~ only through knowledge gleaned exclusively by cognizance of God's Word.

If you happen to be one of the few who travels the arduous journey through this study, I hope you are also one of The Chosen Few with me to hear those heart-warming words from the cheerful voice of Jesus himself, "Well done, good and faithful servant...enter into the joy of thy lord." Matt.25:23 Let's sit down together on the curb of one of those Golden Streets of That Celestial City sometime, and recall the times The Light finally began breaking through our blinded eyes to begin understanding the Invisible World of Reality. Now you know when I began to see from reading my study, and I want to know when and how you too began to see the radiance of that Glorious Light. I'll bet the Apostle Paul has nothing on us!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Recent Photograph of God
(significantly reduced)




Final Thought


Scholars and serious students of the Bible will recognize certain assumptions in this study that cannot be explicitly proved by chapter and verse. Don't get hung up on any assumption, for the purpose is not to
state creed or express theological doctrine. Instead, the purpose is to create an illusion of reality so that the believer can visualize and sense the authenticity of God. The full story of God's activities on behalf of his Creation is beyond comprehension and literary composition. For as John writes: "Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."Jn.20:30-31 P.S.




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