Sunday, August 29, 2021

Getting Close to the Mark?

It's not a secret that I have spent a large part of my study on the opening of the Bible and creation apologetics. Much speculation, and books, have been made about the end times, but I don't give it a lot of attention. I know on average that more than 150,000 people die every 24 hours. End times speculation doesn't matter for these people, but hearing the gospel and coming to Christ does. That is why I prefer spending efforts on reaching out while their is time. However, end times are throughout the Bible and not something to ignore.

Both the Old and New Testament point to times of tribulation to come and an ultimate judgment. The books of Daniel, Matthew, and the gospels come to mind for sources, but especially the book of Revelation. I have long said this is one of the most widely debated and studied book of the Bible, but I think Genesis may beat it for debate. I have heard some churches completely ignore Revelation and end times, but that doesn't sound like a great church that looks at all of Scripture.

What are some of the signs of the end times? A few of them are wars and rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes in various places, pestilences (plagues or viruses), signs in the heavens, and people fearful of the future. Many of these have been around in varying degrees throughout the past thousand years or more with people saying that particular time in history was the end. However, one aspect has been sticking out to me lately that is in the recent news.

In Revelation 13:17, John talks about the mark of the beast. It's something that if you don't have, you cannot buy or sell. I have been seeing in Australia, France, and a growing number of countries that anyone without a vaccine passport aren't allowed in stores. In China, cell phone apps are automatically tracking when a person enters a business and includes health history. This is a first in history due to current technology, but it doesn't quite fit the prediction.

The mark is said to be on the hand or forehead of an individual. The prevalence of cell phones constantly in hands, I could see it being a possibility. However, paper cards wouldn't quite qualify in this detail. I recently watched a video talking about this subject and showed a microchip being implanted in a person's hand that contained all their banking and personal information. To checkout at a store, she just had to bump her hand on a device at the register.

Whether we are near to Christ's return or have hundreds of years remaining, we don't know. In this quad life though, I look forward to His return more anxiously with each passing year and want to be found doing God's will when He comes or calls me home.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

All Finished -What's Next?

My August calendar is full of sticky notes with several activities, but they are quickly finishing. Friday was my third and final day at the Iowa State Fair and today was my last week of preaching after five Sundays in a row. Other than hair cuts and a few regular doctor's appointments, I currently have a fairly open calendar for the rest of 2021. Therefore, I have been wondering what is coming next?

In May, I helped lead a team of people to do gospel outreach during a three-day outdoor event. At the fair these past several days, I had several conversations about the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum in Kentucky and a number of short gospel talks with mainly other Christians. I prayed to help non-Christians, and all who briefly stopped for gospel tracts also, but didn't really get to until late Friday.

About five minutes before the end of my shift, a man stopped to look at a commercial for the Ark playing on one of the booth's televisions. He was between another volunteer and I, and the other person went up to him to ask any questions or possibly talk about his experiences with the Bible and Christianity. They were close enough that I could hear most of the conversation and I moved closer to see if I could help.

A few seconds after I joined the conversation, the first volunteer departed from us. This man, Larry, was talking about thoughts on psychics, some of the Bible, and various other related topics. For the next several minutes, I let him talk, but also tested him to see if he was a good person according to the Bible. Larry realized within one question he failed the test. I made sure to present the gospel to him multiple times and bring up what the Bible says on various topics he brought up, such as reincarnation.

The entire time, none of the other volunteers joined me to help work with Larry. Later on, my assistant Sara said that one of the volunteers we have worked with several times before, and who I consider more experienced than me, said he wouldn't know how to handle Larry. Sara assured him I could manage him and whatever came up. By the time our conversation finished, I had given him some booklets about the Ark and presented the gospel a number of times. When I went to leave, my wheelchair started having electronic issues and wouldn't let me drive. I wondered if God had another conversation coming for me, but I was able to depart about 20 minutes after my scheduled time.

I feel like I'm definitely still learning evangelism and not an expert at all, but fully rely on God to give me what is needed at the right time. Apparently in that situation and with who was around, my fellow volunteers thought I was the most qualified person.

In my second week of preaching, the man that was my mentor to get my license to exhort, came to hear my message. This pastor has had decades of preaching and life experience and I pray to get close to his quality of presentation. I was thankful he was able to come and I looked forward to getting his critiques or pointers when the service was complete. However, he surprised me and said the message I gave was well given and he took notes on passages I used for his message. The pastor's wife also said he could take a few tips from me!

Whatever I have been given to serve God, I know I can always improve and learn. It is a life-long process of study and practice. With rapid changes in the political climate and my parents at retirement age, I don't how much longer I'll be able to be active. This longer than usual post shows that at least for now, I keep an active quad life. I also just received a message asking for help at a church this fall. Therefore, the calendar is starting to fill again and I look forward to staying busy in God's work.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

A Fair Day

Last year, the Iowa State Fair was officially "postponed" (canceled) for about 12 months due to virus concerns. I missed volunteering at the Ark Encounter booth and made sure to register for this year. My first shift of three was this past Thursday morning.

This is about my fifth summer working at the booth, handing out gospel tracts, and talking with visitors. Rolling up to the display, I recognized several familiar faces that I have worked with for years. I couldn't remember most of their names, but that doesn't stop me from talking and seeing how they have been.

In previous years, the main question I've received is, "what?" With all the competing noise of the air conditioning and multitude of people, few people could hear me. I did all I could to get bigger breaths and talk louder, but it only helped a little. By the time my three-hour shift was over, my lungs were hurting a lot and my voice was sore. I was glad to spread the gospel, but my body didn't act accordingly.

This year, when the fair looked certain, I ordered a self-contained speaker system. I arrived early to my shift in order to have time to get everything setup. Placement took some testing, as well as volume adjustment, but it seemed to help. I didn't want to sound like a salesman for all to hear, but enough to be heard.

I talked with several people, giving out tracts and discussing the free material, the Ark Encounter, and Christian experiences. I never once had anyone ask me to repeat and I learned how I could adjust my voice to be louder when needed. Other than about 30 minutes, I didn't feel like my lungs were ready to explode or have a sore throat. A few other wheelchair users also turned around after having gone passed so they could come to me for a tract and talk.

With two more days scheduled this week, I'm thankful the initial test went well. Living the quad life requires using a variety of tools for different needs. I never expected to need a microphone, but it has allowed me to share the gospel and be heard.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

What's in a Day?

Today is my third week of preaching in the small rural church outside of Bussey. In some ways, this has been a sermon I have been looking forward to giving. However, it is also the one that has been the most challenging to prepare and making me second-guess myself.

For about 15 years, I have been studying creation science through Answers in Genesis and also the Biblical Science Institute and others. It is a subject that brought me closer to God, His Word, and got me into reading many books, volunteering, witnessing, and improved my speaking topics. I have prayed for opportunity to preach on creation and now that it came, I'm apprehensive.

My own church denomination is like many and has adopted compromise positions with early Genesis and creation science. It is not a topic I can preach on, at least if I want to preach again, within my church denomination, but can today since this church is independent. A friend of mine, who has the same license as me, has had the same desire as me to preach on creation, but has been told not to as it's too controversial.

As I wrote this entry on Saturday afternoon, I don't know what this church's stand is on creation, or that of previous pastors. My parents have been saying, I think somewhat jokingly, that I won't have anybody left in the congregation by the time my tenure is complete.

Therefore, preparing today's message with all this in mind has been a challenge. However, I have prayed and reminded myself several times to be faithful in preaching God's Word. Much compromise has taken place in the early chapters of the Bible with few pastors addressing the topic. I pray what God gave me to say this morning will equip those who hear to trust in the authority of Scripture.

Challenges of living the quad life are familiar and daily routine, so I add more by preaching. If I have not been tarred and feathered, or hidden in a remote corn field, I'll report back next week.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Reading Many Books has No End

Last year, I posted a few times on cleaning out the basement and some of the finds. My parents have been at it again and found a box of books that were meant to go out last year, but I wanted a picture first. I finally got the picture taken, and books out to recycle.

In grade school and high school, I did not enjoy reading at all. It was a challenge to get a book positioned for me to read and then turning pages could sometimes be a battle between stick and paper. The struggle continues today, but I'm used to it and it's just part of what it takes for me to be able to read.

When I started college, the number of books I had to study increased, as well as their thickness and complexity. However, it was a little more enjoyable as the material was generally something I was interested in learning. After college, as I got into more web development work, I had manuals on how to run some of my software and learn more programming skills.

Now, it has been nearly 20 years since I first read some of those books. New software, and manuals, I was once excited to use are now very outdated and not worth more than the dust collected on the pages. Piled up, the stack goes from the floor to higher than my arm rests. I have read all of it at some point, but it's now useless material. While age may make some books useless, that is not the case for everything.

I have read one book more times than I can count, cover to cover, and still learn more each time. It has been nearly 2000 years since it was completed, but is still relevant today. God's Word, as recorded in the Bible, never changes, but is always up to date for every situation. If I still used, or taught, the exact material from my school books today, it wouldn't do any good. Preaching from Scripture will have no expiration date and will always be useful.

Ecclesiastes 12:12 says in part, "Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh." The next two verses give the purpose of continuing to gain knowledge about God. I'm thankful for the experiences, and wisdom, God has given me over the years in this quad life. Today was week two out of five for preaching and, as long as I preach from the text, I will never run out of material.