March, 2011 Archives

17
Mar

Are these the end times? (part four)

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison


A woman looks at the damage caused by a tsunami and an earthquake in Ishimaki City, Miyagi Prefecture (credit: Reuters/Yomiuri Shimbun)

A woman looks at the damage caused by a tsunami and an earthquake in Ishimaki City, Miyagi Prefecture (Credit: Reuters/Yomiuri Shimbun)

The gravest crisis in Japan since World War II continues to grow.  The number of dead and missing from Friday’s earthquake and tsunami now exceeds 12,000 people.  To illustrate the enormity of the quake: the Korean peninsula moved two inches to the east, while Japan’s main island of Honshu moved eight feet closer to the United States.

Trace amounts of radiation have been found in drinking water 50 miles from the Daiichi nuclear plant.  The earthquake and tsunami have left at least 1.6 million Japanese homes without water.  According to today’s New York Times, it now seems likely that fuel rods in at least one reactor are melting down, risking nuclear contamination on a deadly scale. Read the rest of this entry »

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16
Mar

Are these the end times? (part three)

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison


Officials in protective gear check for signs of radiation on children who are from the evacuation area near the Fukushima Daini nuclear plant in Koriyama, March 13, 2011. (Credit: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

Officials in protective gear check for signs of radiation on children near the Fukushima Daini nuclear plant (Credit: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

Fifty workers stand between the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and apparent disaster.  While they fight to prevent large amounts of radiation from leaking, their nation and the world watches their heroic sacrifice with awe and gratitude.  Is this monumental disaster part of a series of events which constitute the “end times”?

We have been considering six “signs” which Jesus predicted would precede his Second Coming.  First, heresy would escalate (Matthew 24:5).  Second, we would “hear of wars and rumors of wars” (v. 6).  Third, there would be “famines” (v. 7a).  Fourth, we would see “earthquakes in various places” (v. 7b).  Fifth, Christians would face severe persecution (v. 9).  Each of these predictions was fulfilled on an unprecedented level in the 20th century. Read the rest of this entry »

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15
Mar

Are these the end times? (part two)

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison

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A child who was evacuated from the vicinity of Tokyo Electric Power Co's (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant in Kawamata, Fukushima Prefecture, northern Japan March 13, 2011 (Credit: Reuters/Kyodo)

A child who was evacuated from the vicinity of nuclear plant in northern Japan March 13, 2011 (Credit: Reuters/Kyodo)

Japanese authorities are evacuating personnel after another nuclear power plant explosion.  Today’s Wall Street Journal reports that some rods may have melted as the situation grows more critical.  The disaster could disrupt the world’s supply of cars, electronics and machine tools.  What does Scripture say about earthquakes and other natural disasters?

We’re discussing six “signs” which Jesus predicted would precede his Second Coming.  As we saw yesterday, he warned us that false religions would arise and that we would “hear of wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:5-6).  The 20th century saw a greater rise in the popularity of alternative religions than ever before, and the largest number of wartime casualties in history. Read the rest of this entry »

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14
Mar

Are these the end times?

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison


Houses are swept by water following a tsunami and earthquake in Natori City in northeastern Japan March 11, 2011. A massive 8.9 magnitude quake hit northeast Japan on Friday, causing many injuries, fires and a ten-metre (33-ft) tsunami along parts of the country's coastline.

Houses are swept by water following a tsunami and earthquake in Natori City in northeastern Japan March 11, 2011 (Credit: Reuters/Kyodo)

Last Friday’s earthquake in Japan shifted the earth’s axis by four inches and the Japanese coast by eight feet.  In our last essay we discussed the fact that no one is promised tomorrow.  As news broke of the cataclysmic earthquake, this principle became fact.  More than 10,000 people were killed in the 8.9-magnitude quake and tsunami.

The tsunami not only killed thousands in Japan—it also slammed harbors in California and Oregon, causing millions of dollars in destruction.  Japanese authorities are struggling to contain damage to nuclear reactors this morning.  Today’s New York Times reports that Japan’s prime minister has called the earthquake his country’s worst crisis since World War II. Read the rest of this entry »

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11
Mar

Jerusalem and the end times (part two)

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison

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Jaffa Gate (Gate of the Friend, Chevron Gate, Bab al-Halil, The Gate of David's Prayer Shrine, Porta Davidi, Sha'ar Yaffo) into the Old City of Jerusalem

Jaffa Gate (Gate of the Friend, Chevron Gate, Bab al-Halil, The Gate of David's Prayer Shrine, Porta Davidi, Sha'ar Yaffo) into the Old City of Jerusalem Courtesy of user: Naydes at en.wikipedia.org

Will Moammar Gadhafi defeat the rebels in his country?  The Director of National Intelligence says yes; the Obama administration says no.  As the Chinese proverb puts it, “It is difficult to make predictions, especially with regard to the future.”

In recent days we’ve been discussing the role of Jerusalem and the Middle East in the “end times.”  As we saw yesterday, there are seven different approaches to Revelation held by reputable scholars across Christian history.  Of these, the most popular today are the preterist (Revelation is to be read as a first-century book, the majority view among scholars), historical premillennial (Jesus will return to usher in his 1000-year reign on earth, the dominant view among many evangelicals) and the dispensational premillennial (a “rapture” will be followed by a seven-year Great Tribulation and Millennium, a popular view in recent generations). Read the rest of this entry »

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10
Mar

Jerusalem and the end times

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison

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 Dome of the Rock viewed through the Old City's Cotton Gate (Bab al-Qattanin)

Dome of the Rock viewed through the Old City's Cotton Gate Courtesy of user: Gilabrand at en.wikipedia.org

Clint Dobson was buried yesterday.  The 28-year-old pastor of NorthPointe Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas was suffocated last Thursday in a robbery.  When we see his picture, Janet and I see our oldest son Ryan.  Clint was a graduate of Baylor University and attended Truett Seminary; Ryan graduated from Baylor and attends Truett.  This senseless, horrific tragedy could happen to anyone at any time.  And we have only today to be ready.

No one but God knows the future.  Who would have believed two months ago that the Arab world would be engulfed in a pro-democracy movement unlike any in the region’s history?  The civil war in Libya continues today as forces loyal to Col. Gadhafi are battling rebel forces east of Tripoli.  Meanwhile in Jerusalem, where our study tour visited only three days ago, officials are preparing for their first snow in three years.  Four trucks spread salt around the city at dawn today, as rain and overnight freezing temperatures have created ice on the roads. Read the rest of this entry »

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9
Mar

Peace in Jerusalem?

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison

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The Dome of The Rock mosque on the Temple Mount, taken under a low January morning sun, January 2010

The Dome of The Rock mosque on the Temple Mount courtesy of user: David Baum at en.wikipedia.org

Is a new Israeli peace initiative coming?  Today’s Wall Street Journal reports what I heard during our study tour of the Holy Land—Israel is concerned that terrorists could infiltrate a destabilized Jordan, then slip into the Palestinian-governed West Bank and fire rockets at the Jewish state’s major cities.  In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Jordan River valley yesterday, assuring his country that their military would continue to monitor this crucial border with Jordan. Read the rest of this entry »

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8
Mar

Love an aloha fo you

posted in Jim's Blog by Jim Denison


Mark 1:9-11 in Hawaiian displayed at Jordan river baptism site

Mark 1:9-11 in Hawaiian displayed at Jordan river baptism site (credit: Jeff Byrd)

The Bible was written in the language of its first readers.  It was meant to be understood.  For more than 20 centuries, scholars have worked to render its timeless truths in vocabulary which makes them available to new generations and peoples.

In Israel our study tour visited the tomb of Saint Jerome, the brilliant scholar who translated the Bible into Latin (the common vernacular of his day).  We heard pastors and guides reading and quoting Scripture in a wide variety of languages.  We saw biblical inscriptions in Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Latin, English, and a plethora of other tongues.

But nothing prepared us for our experience at the site which commemorates Jesus’ baptism by John.  There we found Mark 1:9-11 displayed on scores of plaques around the location.  In the New International Version, the text reads: “At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’” Read the rest of this entry »

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8
Mar

The pelican and hope for America

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison


ancient pelican sculpture which stands atop a column in the Crusader-era structure which stands where the Upper Room was once located

an ancient pelican sculpture in the Upper Room (credit: Jeff Byrd)

On Sunday our Israel study tour visited the Crusader-era structure which stands where the Upper Room was once located.  Here we remembered Jesus’ gift of bread and cup, representing his body and blood offered for us.  And we noted the pelican sculpture atop one of the columns in the room, a first-century symbol of Christian faith.  According to tradition, in times of famine and drought the pelican would tear open her flesh so her young could feed on her blood.  This sacrifice reminded early Christians of Jesus’ death, as he offered his body and blood for us (1 Corinthians 11:23-25).

Our world has never been in greater need of his transforming love.  Newsweek claims that new dictators and organized religious extremists may come to power in the Arab world, so that the biggest potential losers in these days of turmoil may be the people themselves.  Meanwhile, those who own, sell and bet on oil are making enormous profits. Read the rest of this entry »

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7
Mar

The ladder that must not be moved

posted in Jim's Blog by Jim Denison

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Ladder at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Ladder at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (credit: Jeff Byrd)

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is one of the most remarkable experiences on the planet.  Begun in A.D. 326 by Helena, the mother of Constantine, it is believed by most Christians to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.  When our Israel study tour came here during our day in the Old City of Jerusalem, we were overwhelmed with the size, grandeur, and historic significance of the building.  The Greek Orthodox Church, Roman Catholics, and Armenian Orthodox Church all have rights to worship here.  Under an agreement known as the “Status Quo,” nothing can be moved without permission of all three groups.

As a result, the wooden step ladder in the picture next to my blog has been in its current location since 1854.  Franklin Pierce was president; Abraham Lincoln would follow him two administrations later.  Thirty-one presidents have come and gone.  The Catholic Church has seen 11 popes.  The world has fought 165 wars since.  The ladder has seen the invention of the light bulb, the vacuum cleaner, the paper clip, the typewriter, chewing gum, the telephone, and the stapler (just in the 23 years since it last moved). Read the rest of this entry »

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