The Trump Prophecy

April 22, 2016, Charisma magazine ran a story about a prophetic vision Mark Taylor had supposedly predicting a Donald Trump Presidency. Taylor claims while watching Donald Trump in an interview in 2011 when Trump was contemplating a presidential bid in 2012, that he was “listening to the president.” Trump decided against a presidential run then, so Taylor thinks his prophecy applies to Trump’s campaign now.

I do not care to comment on the content of the prophecy itself. If you want to know what Taylor said you can read it for yourself in the article on Charisma’s website. I want to address the matter of modern day prophecies in general.

I believe the canon of Scripture is closed. By that I mean those books we accept as being inspired by God and constitute a revelation of His holy nature and divine will are complete without need for addition or deletion.

But I do not discount the possibility of modern day prophetic utterances when I read “Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets,” Amos 3:7. I realize Amos wrote this during a time when Scripture was being written and compiled, and he could be simply referring to that process, but the verse itself is a disclosure of God’s revelatory nature that transcends time and place.

I believe God directs the course of human history and if He chooses He can reveal what will transpire, but whatever He reveals will never be in conflict with what He has already revealed in the Scriptures. The Scriptures are our guide to discern between truth and falsehood, wherever, whenever, by whomever it is said, prophetic or otherwise.

Prophecy is never intended to promote the fortune or ambitions of the speaker or his audience. Mark Taylor is not a pastor of a mega-church promoting his newest book; he is a retired firefighter. This seems to fit the scriptural pattern of God using common people to accomplish uncommon things.

But there are other biblical patterns as well. In Scripture, prophecies regarding national and international issues were often uttered and written centuries before they transpired, removing the influence of the utterance from its ultimate fulfillment. In simple terms this means prophecy in Scripture could not be manipulated to be self-fulfilling.

This is what makes Taylor’s prophecy suspect in my mind; it has the potential to influence the electoral outcome of a current political campaign. Especially, in the mind of those who may hold his prophecy to be from God.

Paul told us to “not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully: hold fast to that which is good,” 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21. Having examined Taylor’s prophecy, I cannot say whether it is or is not from God. So I will “hold fast to that which is good,” my own prayerful considerations.

There is enough mystery in the Scriptures, and enough of the mystic in me to accommodate prophetic utterances, but not to the contradiction of the Scriptures.

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The Tragedy In Orlando

In the early morning hours on a Sunday, June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen walked into the Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and began shooting as many people as he could. He killed 49 people and wounded 53 more before being shot himself. It is being called the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

Some say this is an act of terrorism because Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS just prior to the shooting, but I think it was the vainglorious words of a crazed gunman hoping to make his madness seem noble in some sense.

Mateen crossed the FBI’s radar screen a couple of times, so the FBI is being blamed for not intervening. But the FBI, despite its investigative abilities, is completely incapable of diagnosing the mental state of a suspect, or predicting what that suspect will do.

The smoke from this tragedy has barely cleared and we are already arguing about who should or should not be able to purchase guns and what types of guns. It seems we are too quickly losing sight of the loss of human life.

But I suppose the most surprising development throughout this tragedy is that Christians are being blamed for creating an atmosphere of hate towards the LGBT community that made such an act in some sense acceptable. What kind of hysteria interprets a difference of opinion as a death wish, or uses a tragedy to press a political agenda?

We know that Bible-believing Christians fundamentally disagree with the LGBT community over the nature of their lifestyle, and the rhetoric has, at times, been acrimonious on both sides. This is regrettable. But while believers cannot condone what the Bible condemns, neither can we condone the senseless sin of murder.

For some time the Cathy family and the Chick-Fil-A restaurants they started have been the target of LGBT activists calling them homophobic and gay haters because they support traditional family values and biblical marriage. The LGBT community actively boycotts Chick-Fil-A restaurants calling their chicken sandwiches “hate chicken.”

In keeping with their family values Chick-Fil-A restaurants are closed on Sundays to give their employees the opportunity to rest and spend time with their families, or attend worship services if they wish.

But this Sunday was different. As the tragedy unfolded at the Pulse nightclub the staff of several local Chick-fil-A’s went into work and began preparing meals to feed those who were standing in long lines to donate blood in the emergency situation.

They also supplied emergency personnel and volunteers with meals throughout the ordeal. They did so without asking a dime for the food, or a pat on the back for their service. The only statement issued was to say there are exceptions to their policy of being closed on Sundays when the community is in need.

“If your enemy is hungry, give him something to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,” Proverbs 25:21. That’s what Chick-Fil-A did without hate or fanfare. It’s what Christians do.

The Greatest Apologetic

It has been said, “The first casualty of war is the truth.” This is because the opposing countries in an impending conflict need the support of their respective citizens, and each will do what is necessary to get that support even if they have to lie to get it.

The same axiom applies in a debate, which is nothing more than a war of words. Truth can become a casualty in the effort to win the debate. I am not a fan of wars or debates, but I am an ardent advocate of truth.

For the Christian truth is not a principle, or a proposition, it is a Person. It is the One who said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” The truest thing a man can do is to emulate the life of Christ.

Peter addresses this in his first letter when he writes “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”

One of the branches of theology is apologetics. The word is derived from the Greek word apologia that appears in the above text and is translated as “make a defense.” Apologetics teaches students of the Bible how to defend their faith, the things they believe.

Some think the epitome of apologetics is to engage unbelievers in formal debates, but debates can sometimes confuse rather than clarify the issues discussed. This is because they do little more than showcase the scholarship and cleverness of those debating. One might come away with more doubt than belief, and truth may seem elusive.

Besides, I do not think that is the point Peter was making. When we “sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts,” that is, when we actually live out His teachings, we will draw the curiosity of the unbelieving world giving us the opportunity to witness to the “hope that is in” us.

This means apologetics, as a discipline, is not the domain of purported theologians and Bible scholars reserved for the forum of public debate. Apologetics consist of knowing what we believe and why we believe it so we can bear witness to the truth when we are questioned about why we live as we do.

This is the responsibility of every believer, to know what we believe and why we believe it, if we hope to live our lives intentionally for Christ and be a witness to those things we hold to be true. And those things we hold to be true are plainly seen in the Scriptures.

We have not been called to win debates or arguments; we have been called to win souls. The greatest apologetic is not a well-worded argument or a clever comeback as entertaining as they might be. The greatest apologetic is a life that has been well lived for Christ.

Reading the Bible

The Bible is available in more formats and versions than ever in the history of mankind. I have Bible apps on my desktop, laptop, iPad and iPhone. I call my iPhone my Bible on my belt. It has thirty-nine English versions of the Scriptures and sixteen of those are available in audio.

Yet, biblical literacy is at an all time high, or should I say low. I thought I would use this article to share my bible reading plan, and why I discipline myself to continue reading through my Bible.

Monday through Friday I read five chapters a day. Sometimes I only read four; the book of Ruth has four chapters and when I get to it that is all I read. Daniel has twelve chapters so I read the first six one day and the last six the next. This takes about ten to twenty minutes a day depending on the length of the chapters.

I start in Genesis and read through to Revelation, and then start over again with Genesis. It is a simple plan and will put me through the Bible in about eleven months, and then I start reading it again. I have read through the Scriptures more than fifty times. I do other Scripture readings when studying for preaching, teaching and writing.

Why do I read through the Bible again and again? That is a good question; there are several reasons.

Reading through the Bible serves as a constant reminder of God’s truths. We humans have a great capacity to forget allowing our imagination to supplant our memory.

It seems that I learn things or see things that I overlooked in previous readings. I see details I missed before.

Familiar passages become clearer as I mature in Christ giving me a greater spiritual insight each time I read, and unfamiliar verses become more familiar.

Wisdom is precious. I have benefitted from the wisdom of others over the course of my life. But the most satisfying wisdom, and the wisdom I retain the best, is the wisdom I glean personally in reading and studying the Scriptures. Nothing can replace the wisdom we receive directly from our Father when we read His Word.

Reading through the Bible lets the reader see the big picture of what God is saying. I do not believe one can fully understand any part of the Bible unless he has read all the Bible. It is like a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle. One cannot really see the big picture from a handful of pieces, but when they are all connected the puzzle becomes clear.

Paul enjoined young Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth,” 2 Timothy 2:15. God wants each of us to be “approved,” to understand His nature and know His will. We cannot be “approved” and ignore His Word.