Monday, December 31, 2007

The Fixing of All Things

Revelation 22

Here ends our year-long adventure...& here beckoned to start the next one!

I want to thank most sincerely the bloggers who have given their time, faithful contemplation, and willingness to share their personal journeys while crafting these blogs day by day. Be encouraged that a thousand people from 45 different countries have been pointed to Christ ten thousand times by your blog. May God be glorified, and real, lasting spiritual fruit be the result!

My reading of the last chapter of the Bible impresses me with four thoughts or images today. First, I hear (& see) so strongly in the first 5 verses the repair and redemption of all things. Here finally in heaven is a river unpolluted -- a 'river of life' flowing down heaven's main street, supplying, never flooding nor consuming. Along its banks grows the 'tree of life'. It is ever- bearing fruit, and its leaves are for the 'healing of the nations' -- a picture of the expectancy, inclusivity, and certain resolve of the Gospel to reach and 'heal' all people groups! Feel the rapturous joy of the v3 line, 'No longer will there be a curse upon anything.' Think! What would a heaven, what would a life like THAT be?! And God? Fully seen and known to us. God, no more with hidden face, no more shielding our eyes at His glory for fear of being consumed, a never-forgotten, never-disowned God! His identity stamped upon us never more lost nor obscured! This place of the redeeming repair of all things, will be a place of no night, no lamps nor bulbs, not even the sun. 'For the Lord God will shine on them!' Someone recently gloried to me, "there will not even be shadows in heaven!" We will be fully surrounded by His ineffably sublime light!

And then, following this picture of redemption, this chapter leaves me with three subsequent indelible exhortations:

1. The Book. Keep it open (v10), follow it (v9), and let no one never ever add or detract from it (vv18-19)!

2. Coming Soon. The time is near (v10). Jesus is coming soon (vv 6,7, 12, 20). Believe it, & live like it! Make your priorities, parenting, conversations, expenditures & plans as if you really believed He is coming soon.

3. So Come. You, yourself. Come to this place of the repair of all things. Come to Jesus Himself. God and all heaven invite and call to you (v17)! Dirty memory of a sullied yesterday? Dry-pasty-souled from drought of the inner variety? Come. Come. Come be washed (v14). Come drink freely (17). Come to this city, this river, this tree, this fruit & new united nation. Come to this throne, and to this Lamb, & Light, & Face of God. Come.


Sunday, December 30, 2007

The End and Still Dwelling

Revelation 21

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1) Here in
verse 1 is the end of that creation. Yet God will continue to dwell with
men. God walked with Adam in the garden and will dwell with men in the new

From creation to creation God walks with men. This is the goal of Jesus
coming to earth, to provide salvation to men. The pain of life (Gen 3) has
come to an end. The tears of that life will be wiped away. Corinthians
tells of men becoming a new creation through Christ. The old has passed
away. Yet we who have been made new still live in the pain filled earth.
The new dwelling place will be the home of righteousness and even death will
be no more.

Steve Louden

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Simple Truth

Revelation 20:1-15

What a scene! Dragon-Devil slammed into prison. Resurrection of the faithful dead. A thousand year reign of glory. And then the Devil unleashed, a final battle and he’s cast into a lake of burning sulphur.

And then the “great white throne” judgment.

The whole of the Bible comes down to this. The panorama of human striving and failing--millennia of approach and avoidance with God--ends right here.

It all comes down to this moment of simple truth. A moment when there’ll be nothing more to say. No more time for excuses, justifications or rationalizations.

But I just wanted to have some fun first before I became a Christian…
But I never murdered anyone. I tried to keep the Ten Commandments…
But I was a good person, a faithful spouse, a good parent…
But I tried to be kind and honest…
But I tithed faithfully...
But I led Bible study, sang in the choir and taught Sunday school…

None of that will matter. There will be only one simple question: Is your name written in the Book of Life, or not?

And one simple answer: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life,” says John 3:16.

Jesus is the only one who can save us. He is the only one who can write our name in the Book of Life.

Will your name be found there?

"My faith has found a resting place,
not in device nor creed;
I trust the Everliving One,
His wounds for me shall plead.

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea;
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.

Enough for me that Jesus saves,
This ends my fear and doubt;
A sinful soul, I come to Him,
He’ll never cast me out.

My heart is leaning on the Word,
The written Word of God,
Salvation by my Savior’s name,
Salvation through His blood.

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea;
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me."

"No Other Plea” by Lidie H. Edmunds

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Return of our King

Revelation 19:1-21

In this scene, we see the people of God and the heavenly hosts praising God. Then, our great God and King, our Savior, Jesus, is revealed in all His glory. He is Faithful and True! He fulfills His promises, for He is coming again. His eyes are like fire, and on His head are many crowns - more than those worn by the beast, signifying a royalty and authority beyond earthly measure. Even in His glory, His robe remains one dipped in blood, for He accomplished the redemption of His people and His victory over that dragon, Satan, by His personal sacrifice and death on the cross. He is the very Word of God, and, as He rides His white horse, His title, written on His thigh for all to see is, King of all kings and Lord of all lords. He has all authority in heaven and on earth, and we see here that the exercise of that authority over evil is swift and decisive.

Our great God, who hates evil, has permitted and endured evil's existence, allowing the weeds to grow up with the wheat (Matthew 13:24-30), being patient, giving the people of earth the maximum time to repent and follow Him (2 Peter 3:9). But let us not mistake the presence of evil in our world for weakness on the part of our God to do away with it. And let us not be deceived into thinking that our God is not fiercely opposed to the evil around us, for here we see through John's vision the decisive and powerful defeat over the beast and his false prophet.

Although Jesus is described as waging war justly, the real battle was fought at the cross and His victory evidenced at the empty tomb. As Christ returns with His army now, John sees the beast and the kings of the world, who serve him, gather to fight against Jesus, as the dragon still seeks to depose God from His throne. But the truth of the Word of God is powerful, and the veil of deception of the beast and his false prophet is broken. The beast and his prophet seem to be captured instantly, thrown into the lake of fire, and their army, like their deception, is destroyed by the powerful and effective sword of the truth from the Word of God.

Regardless of our circumstances, our hope in Jesus is secure. He is the Victor in this great battle and He will return to establish His kingdom and bring an end to Satan, the curse of sin, and the fear of death. Let us sing and praise with the people of God!
Praise be to Yahweh! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to Him!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Tale of Two Cities

Revelation chapter 18

"Babylon is fallen – that great city is fallen!" This mighty shout of
the angel repeats a truth first introduced in chapter 14. In other
translations, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great." While some
scholars believe Babylon stands for a specific city, perhaps Rome, it
seems more likely that it represents a world in rebellion against God.

Thirty years ago, my family and I attended an ecumenical Christian
gathering in Kansas City. As we walked up the ramp leading into the
stadium, I could hear the praise music. It seemed to me that the angels
were singing. We joined the gathering throng. The Holy Spirit was
moving, filling the hearts of the worshippers. Glad voices. Raised

But then, although we had felt as though we were in heaven, we were
brought back to earth by a speaker who made us keenly aware of the
sinful state of the world. I suppose each individual listening was
thinking of personal trials and pain.

Then came the reminder – "We've read the end of the Book. We know how
the Story will end!" Suddenly, 50 or 60 thousand people stood as one,
cheering and applauding. Not for the speaker, but for the Truth he
spoke. We raised our voices in praise for the One who is worthy, whose
name is Faithful and True, who is sovereign over all the earth.

As we read Revelation, keep in mind that the various visions, laid out
as scenes before us, are not to be taken as events in chronological
order. It is as if we are watching an unfolding drama involving two
cities, Babylon and the New Jerusalem. Last Sunday's blogger defined
Babylon as representing the part of the world system set up against the
worship of God. On the other hand, Revelation also gives us glimpses of
worship in the New Jerusalem.

Another way to explain this dichotomy might be to say that we are shown
two opposing responses to the holiness of God. One author has written,
"John's vision is of the holiness of God, which penetrates the totality
of human existence... One group responds with worship and constitutes
New Jerusalem; one responds with blasphemy and constitutes Fallen
Babylon... There is no accommodation, no compromise of holiness with
unholiness. Nothing that is unholy can continue to exist untouched in
the presence of God's holiness... Worship of holiness is life;
blasphemy of holiness is torment."

On December 17, Pastor Paul wrote of people who "sit on the fence." In
today's reading, I sense that many people have already made their
choice. They have set themselves in opposition to the ultimate reality
of God's sovereignty. They mourn the destruction of what they held

What do I hold dear? Is it possible that I'm still "on the fence," that
I have divided loyalty? John wrote in his first epistle (2:15), "Do not
love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the
world, you do not have the love of the Father in you."

I see the depiction of Babylon in chapter 18 and I find deception and
pride. The city is called a hideout for vultures (verse 2), perhaps
indicating people who feed upon others, the epitome of self-indulgence.
In verse 7, I see self-glorification and self-sufficiency.

Lord, how much of this still remains in me? Have I, like the merchants
of Babylon, embraced a lifestyle of pleasure? How often I put myself
first. How often I forget, maybe even refuse, to take you into account.
I sense myself being drawn to the easy way, not the way of sacrifice.
Within me is too much wanting to glorify me, and too little desiring to
glorify you.

Oh, but now I hear again the voice calling from heaven (verse 4), "Come
away from her, my people." God will never abandon me, but in his
redeeming love draws me ever closer to himself.

Deetje Wildes

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

God Is In Control

Judgment.  It is true, isn’t it, that the Bible teaches over and over that there is a judgment to come?  As we read these readings from the Book of Revelation, we are aware that there are many, many symbols being used (some, if not most of them, has a meaning that is somewhat hidden from our full understanding).  Ultimately, the teaching and message for us in the church which is found in this Book of Revelation is that:  God is in charge, and ultimately all things will be accomplished according to His Will and Plan.  This includes the fact that evil forces will continue to the end and then be destroyed.  Kingdoms will fall and God’s Kingdom shall reign.  Righteousness will ultimately prevail.  As a Christian, isn’t it wonderful and almost over-whelming and so very reassuring to know that God is in control?  God will destroy all evil.  God will ultimately bring the victory and as Christians, we will be with the Lord forever.  How about that?  Pause to thank Him now that you can say, “Lord, I believe in You be faith in the Lord Jesus.  No matter what happens, or when, I will trust You, and I will say with the psalmist of old (Psalm 31:15), ‘My times are in Your hands, O Lord!’  Amen.”


Donald E. Pardun


Monday, December 24, 2007

In chapter 15 of Revelation, we catch a glimpse of what appears to be a culmination of God’s judgment on Evil.  Before this, we have read about the judgments of the “seals” and the “trumpets”.  Now we come to the final series of “bowl” judgments.  It may be that these last seven bowls of judgment are an amplification of the earlier trumpet plagues.  But whatever the case, the essence of this chapter is not so much on the plagues themselves, but on the believers who have emerged victoriously from the struggle against the Evil one, the Devil and his antichrist (see Ch. 12: 11).  These believers are revealed to us standing, worshipping God in song, and praising Him for their deliverance. 


The passage tells us that they sing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb.  It is not two songs, but one.  Why are the names of Moses and Jesus conjoined?  Perhaps because the song recalls both the deliverance of the Israelites from the Egyptians, which they sang on the shore of the Red Sea (Ex. 15) and now a similar, but greater deliverance which has been wrought from a similar, but greater foe. 


The beauty of the song is that is emphasizes very clearly the power, justice and holiness of God, and the universal recognition of that fact.  Praise God, for he has triumphed and delivered us!  Praise God, for he delivers not only the Israelites, but all nations.  Whether we are American, Norwegian, Israelite, French, Indian or Fulbe, we will all be found around God’s throne one day, worshipping Him.  Amen.        


Dan Venberg



Greetings from Dan & Rachel below -


Dear friends at Bethesda,

Merry Christmas! May the joy of the Lord be with you all. As I write this, the temperature in Doh Fulbe is 104 degrees Fahrenheit, perhaps a little warmer than that of Eau Claire! But the nights are cooler, when the mercury plunges down into the 70's or maybe even the 60's.

Our family is excited about the Christmas season this year. Just a few days before Christmas, on the 20th, is an Islamic holiday called the Feast of Sacrifice. This commemorates God's provision of a ram in the place of Abraham's son, when the Patriarch was asked of God to sacrifice his son on the alter. Every family will butcher a sheep or goat, and will remember and celebrate God's provision for Abraham and for them. This day, we also will be butchering a sheep, and will be hosting a feast in our yard. We are hoping to read the account of Abraham during the celebration, and we will also share with our neighbors that just as God provided a ram in the place of Abraham's son, so also he provided a sacrifice for each of us, that being Jesus. That evening, we are also planning on showing the Jesus Film, based on the Gospel of Luke, which has been translated into Fulfulde.

We are also excited about Christmas week, when we will be hosting many visitors, including the Holzner family (another LBWM missionary family in Chad), my aunt Cheryl, and two other missionary families serving here in Chad that live close by. As we contemplate the fellowship with these friends of ours, representing Chad, the United States, England, Mexico and Korea, we are excited to get a little foretaste of the fellowship that we will all enjoy one day around the throne of God, when we will stand side by side with people of all nations. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests!

Dan and Rachel Venberg