Husband, Father, Friend, Pastor/Coach

Month: April 2021

What Happens Next?

Back in the olden days, before one could binge watch television, one had to wait until next week to see what happens next. It could be Batman and Robin being dangled over a boiling cauldron, it could be Matt Dillon laying in the street, it could be JR getting shot…

Who Shot JR was the end of the season cliffhanger for the primetime drama Dallas. Americans waited until the fall to discover the culprit. There were bumper stickers, t shirts, news reports, interviews with cast members; it was a cultural phenomenon.

The audience still had to wait to see what happens next.

Jesus informed us what happens next. In Matthew 24 the disciples come to him and inquire the very question. Jesus tells them key elements:

  • false messiahs will rise up
  • wars and natural disaster will occur
  • the church will be persecuted, and many will turn away from Christ
  • the gospel will be proclaimed in all the earth
  • the temple will be desecrated
  • greatest tribulation ever will be upon the earth

Then Jesus states that at the close of of these signs, he will return.

There is much speculation and argument regarding the timeline of these events; both the preamble to the return of Christ, and the specifics of his return. One thing is certain, and this is essential; Jesus is coming again. That’s what happens next.

The eleven apostles stood with Jesus on the Mount of Olives before He ascended to heaven. This is recorded in Luke 24 and Acts 1. The apostles so believed the words “I will return” that an angel had to come down and remind them that He will come back again, but to continue to do what He had told them to do in the meantime.

What happens next? In Matthew 24, everything that Jesus said actually happened before the close of the first century CE. Some suppose that this means Matthew 24 is past tense, and that Jesus’ return is not be taken literally. This is a faulty supposition.

Whenever God fulfills a prophetic word, it has immediate and future implications. For example, when God said “let there be light” it happened at that moment, and has continued to this day… and will, until the Lamb is the light (Revelation 21). Another example is that the promise of the Father was to send the Holy Spirit. This promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost in the first century. The Holy Spirit has been on the earth ever since, (John 15, 16).

Therefore, when Jesus explained “what happens next” we continue to see these things unfold. We see people claiming to be Christ. We see the church persecuted. More than 100,000 people will die for the cause of Christ this year. This does not include the 1.5 aborted images of God who never are given an opportunity to breathe. We see wars and violence on the increase. We see the intolerance of the exclusivity of Christ growing increasingly.

What happens next? Jesus is coming again, and with power and great glory.

No one knows the day or the hour. Jesus underscores this in Matthew 24. He even confesses that only the Father knows this, (and infers this again in Acts 1:8). Jesus admonition to His followers is, “watch and be ready.”

Watch. Be Ready. It could be today.

Legalism and Rumors…the strange connection

When I was the military, communication was essential. It could be the difference between life or death. During my time in the Gulf War, there was a report that Sadaam Hussein had gassed the coalition forces. For the next three weeks, we had to wear our charcoal lined suits, and could not take a shower. Later we discovered that it was a rumor; bad intelligence.

My personal opinion is that two high level officials had just finished dinner, and one remarked, “ooh, I’ve got gas….” That’s just my opinion.

There was a rumor that every service member in the gulf was going to get a $25,000 bonus from the king of Saudi Arabia, but President Bush turned it down on our behalf. I’m sure that there was no truth to that story either, but everyone was angry at the president anyway.

Half truths and rumors can lead to wrong spiritual behavior.

After He rose from the dead, Jesus was having a teaching breakfast with the disciples, (John 21). He has barely restored Peter, and then Peter needs to know what is going to happen to John. Jesus says, (and let’s read carefully), “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.”

The next verse begins, “…so the rumor spread among the community of believers….”!

God’s people just can’t seem to help spreading rumors. In every generation, God’s people begin spreading rumors that can be costly. Right now the rumor among many believers is that the pandemic is a left wing work to control the people.

If satan wants the shut the church down, he won’t at the same time shut down the bars, casinos and strip clubs. Jesus said that satan can’t cast himself out, or then his kingdom is divided, (Mark 3).

Rumors can lead to legalism. If God says one thing, He isn’t implying or asserting something else. The Pharisees and other religious groups added to what God said. Actually, legalism; adding to what God says, began in the Garden of Eden. God said “don’t eat of the tree.” Man said “don’t eat or touch it.”

Rumors are born out of what we think God said. Once I was having a conversation with someone who said, “well, like the bible says, ‘God helps them who help themselves.'” I replied that the bible doesn’t say that. The person looked at me puzzled and said, “really? it ought to be.”

Rumors and legalism are meant to instill fear into people, and they can take away one’s ability to think for themselves. Many in my tribe, especially years ago, added to what God said, in the sincere hope that the ‘extra’ will help people live closer to God. My papaw wouldn’t even say the word “help;” he would say “he’p” because he didn’t want someone to think he said “hell.”

What Jesus says is enough. We shouldn’t add to it, nor take away from it.

“God Loves the Baptists More…”

Recently, the Baylor Bears beat the Gonzaga Bulldogs for the Men’s NCAA basketball tournament. Baylor is tied to the Southern Baptist Convention, and Gonzaga is a historically Catholic school.

When Baylor won, I posted on Facebook, “apparently God loves the Baptists more than the Catholics.”

There were other religious institutions in the tournament; one of note was Oral Roberts University, probably one of the “youngest” schools in the NCAA. Sportscasters interviewed people on the street. Most had never heard of Oral Roberts.

Currently, the President of ORU is Billy Wilson; a Pentecostal minister. ORU has only had a few presidents in their brief history, and all of them were of the charismatic / pentecostal persuasion. ORU became a D1 school in 1971; less than ten years into its existence. They dropped down into the NAIA in 1979, but then came back into the good graces in 1991. ORU had made negative headlines a few years back for recruiting violations, and were suspended from tournament play, (something they had never seen).

So often in sports, we have the “David vs. Goliath” comparisons. For some reason, America thinks that God is somehow interested in the outcome of sports. Just take a casual google “athletes gives credit to God,” or something similar.

The great Kurt Warner was always vocal about his faith. Warner was so vocal about his faith, that often sports reporters would avoid interviewing him. When an NFL team wins the Superbowl, for years it was the tradition to answer the question, “what are you going to do now?” The athlete would reply, “I’m going to Disney World!” Warner replied, “I’m going home and eat pizza with my family.”

Giving God honor is always appropriate. If one is a banker, give God honor for the job well done. If one is a teacher, fire fighter, farmer, politician… give God honor in the work that you do. Colossians 3 teaches us to do whatever we do unto His glory.

Paul wrote to the Colossians in the face of Roman opposition. The glory of Rome was everything. Everything that one did was for the glory of Rome. Therefore, when Paul wrote, “do all to the glory of God,” it was in start opposition to what the Colossians had heard.

God doesn’t care about the outcome of sports events. He doesn’t love the Baptists more than the Catholics, or the faithful more than the faithless… or atheists, for that matter. The love and goodness of God is for all!

God doesn’t make us winners in life because we are faithful. God promises us eternal life because our faithfulness to faith in Him. “I know God loves me, because my team won,” should never be in the language of humans. “I know God loves me, in spite of all that I’ve done wrong,” is more likely the scenario.

Jesus loves me, this I know. The Bible tells me so. God is good to ORU, Baylor, Gonzaga; not because they are without fault, but despite our failing and faltering ways. Kurt Warner can go home and enjoy pizza with his kids, not because God made it possible for him to win the Superbowl, but because God’s love was already alive in Kurt’s heart.

But wait until next year…

Giving All; from my friend Marty Sutton, missionary in EU

GIVING ALL When I was living in Ukraine I traveled by train to teach, do seminars, and preach around the country. I would depart on Friday evening after teaching my last class, and return on Monday morning in time to teach that morning again at the seminary. The train was slow, very uncomfortable, and always an overnighter. The cars were often too hot, or too cold. I would have to share a sleeper with a stranger, and often they would be drunk. On top of that many on the train did not practice good hygeine, and by the end of the trip the toilets were overflowing and running into the corridors. It offended all of my western sensibilities, and I could never sleep.There were not typically dining cars, so you took food with you. There were certain stations along the way where you could get out and buy something to eat from the locals. It was typically bread rings and dried fish. I suppose the fish had been dried in salt, or had been smoked. It was a whole fish—head, eyes, fins, and tail. The people seemed to enjoy it as they pulled the meat off the bones and ate it. I was never adventurous enough to try it. It does, however, remind of this story.In Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9, and John 6 you can read the account of the miraculous feeding of the 5000 by Jesus. The hour was getting late. The people would have to go home, and they were getting hungry. Some had come from a long distance, and they needed to eat. It was a large crowd—5000 men, and with women and children there may have been up to 20,000 there! So Jesus sent his disciples through the crowd to look for food. Only Andrew found a boy with a small lunch. He had five loaves (probably pitas) and two fish (probably dried for preservation). Jesus blessed them, and broke them, and sent them out to feed the crowd. In the end the Bible says that twelve baskets full were left over after everybody ate their fill. That was more than they started with!The people had been following Jesus all day. He was doing miracles, and preaching the Kingdom of God, but after that many followed Him for the loaves and fishes. Many were following Him for spiritual sustenance, but soon many were following Him for more fleshly reasons—hoping Jesus would feed them.My thoughts go to the boy with the lunch. Andrew brought him to Jesus bearing his meager lunch. His mother had no doubt prepared for him to eat that day. It had lasted through the day so far, but the trip home may have been a long one. It was all he had. Now Jesus was requesting him to share it with this huge crowd of people. What must he have been thinking? It was obvious to his eyes that there wasn’t enough for everybody there, but maybe—just maybe— he had seen Jesus work miracles before. Maybe it was his child-like faith. I think about the young child who overhears his parents worrying about a big bill looming over them. The child runs to his piggy-bank and gives the $1.32 from inside, and believes that it will be enough. I am taking about that kind of selfless faith! Whatever the situation was, the boy gladly gave his lunch to Jesus, and he saw Jesus multiply his lunch and feed thousands! I would have loved to hear that boy tell his story when he got home!Sometimes we are in the same place in our lives. We are standing before the Lord, and He is asking us to give all we have. Human logic tells us it is not enough, but the Lord does not divert His eyes from us. Sometimes we respond with great joy, and other times we find it so very hard. What will we do? I believe that the reason that this miracle is the only one mentioned in all four Gospels is this: we can trust Jesus with everything we have! He can use it to bless others, but in the end we will have more than when we started. It is not like investing everything we have in the plans and schemes of men. It is an act of faith that God can do exceedingly and abundantly more than we can ask or think. It is like that old song of the church days, “Little is much when God is in it!”

The Truth, and Nothing But the Truth

Most of us are familiar with the heading; the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God. It is used to swear people into the witness stand. People sit on the witness stand and promise to tell nothing but the truth, and invoke God to help them stay on point; the point, being the truth.

Perhaps by now you are saying. “yeah, right.”

The “truth” of the matter is that people get on the witness stand, and often tell anything and everything but the truth. In addition to blatant lying, there are scores of us that tell our version of truth, or accidentally or purposely leave out part of the story.

The Bible teaches us that God desires truth “in the inmost part.” The inmost part can be the part that either I am not willing to disclose, or even may not be aware of. This is why we should, with the psalmist, cry out for God to reveal it all!


Human nature calls for us to tell only what needs to be known, but our new nature in Christ calls for us to cry out to God to reveal it all. Its in the revelation of the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth that God will indeed help us.

At the time of this writing, it is the traditional night before Good Friday. On this deep dark night of the soul for Jesus, He revealed so many things; that he would be betrayed, that Peter would deny him thrice, that all of the disciples would leave him… and that (as he had been saying), he would be turned over to wicked men.

In Matthew 26:32 he gives them this promise attached to the bad news, “… and after I am raised, I will go before you to Galiliee.”

God always has restoration in mind with revealing our deepest darkest secrets.

Let’s tell him the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth… so help me God!

© 2023 dariuswalden

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑