Facts, Context, and Truth Matter

Earlier today I received an email from a woman asking my opinion about a blog she had read. She attached the link so I could read it too. Her note opened with the line, “Did you hear that Obama is going to run for a third term?” Later in her cover note she wrote, “Obama is an evil man. . . ” and that, “I have studied End Times for a number of years and I believe that we are living in the last days.”

When I opened the link to the blog at nowtheendbegins.com, I immediately saw the headline: “Democrats Introduce Bill ‘HJ RES 15’ to Give Obama A Third Term.” I called the lady who sent it to me and told her I didn’t believe it. Then I told her I wanted to make an agreement with her: If it turns out to be true, I would give her $1,000, but if it was false, she would agree to stop sending things like this to others. She said she would think about it.

Then I called the office of our local congressman, Doug Lamborn, to ask about the bill. The aide who answered Lamborn’s phone said that the bill had, in fact, been introduced, but that it had been introduced annually by the same congressman for the last ten years or so, but had never gotten out of committee. His expectation was that the bill would not get out of committee this time either. He pointed out that the congressman had introduced it multiple times regardless of the party of the person in office. And based on that fact, his thought was that the congressman wanted to remove the constitutional limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as President as a matter of principle, not exclusively for the benefit of the current President.

I was so glad the woman hadn’t accepted my deal! But I was embarrassed that I had jumped to the wrong conclusion. The truth was the bill had been introduced, but the impression from the headline was misleading, and the woman’s fear of Obama and her looming concern about end times events was fueled. I don’t remember any headlines saying “Democrats Introduce Bill to Give Bush A Third Term” when a similar bill was repeatedly introduced during the Bush presidency.

Do you remember hearing that Madeline Murray O’hare was working to get Christian radio kicked off the airwaves? She wasn’t, it never happened. But rumors kept well meaning Christians calling the FCC for 10 years on that one.

We do have to be careful. It’s true, we are in the end times, but we have been in the end times for over 2,000 years.

I appreciate eschatology and those who promote the necessity of being prepared. Eventually those who believe current events are proof that the second coming is imminent will be right. But I’ve been reading apocalyptic materials closely since The Late Great Plant Earth was published in the 70’s, and little of it has hit the mark thus far. But eventually it will, so we all need to watch and be ready for Christ’s wonderful return.

I apologized to the lady who wrote me, and she was very gracious. But when she wrote, “I have lived here (in Colorado Springs) since 2004 and have never found a church that will teach End Times Prophecy and there are so many that have no idea what is about to happen,” it made me think. There are approximately 350 churches in our fair city. The majority of the pastors here are thoughtful and committed Bible teachers. I think she may be wise to wonder why none of those pastors accept her view. I do agree, however, that there may be many who have no idea what is about to happen. Sadly that group includes many of those who think they understand end time prophecy.

When we become aggressive advocates of a product or idea, the temptation to edit or distort facts in order to be persuasive is powerful. But that methodology is counterproductive in the long term. Communicating facts, maintaining context, and undergirding the overall truth builds trust in our hearers. People need to know that what the church says is trustworthy. For too long, too many of the things we’ve heard about the second coming of Christ have not turned out to be true.

For the teachers of end time prophecy, it might be wise to be cautious about:

– changing the meanings of words in the Bible,

– presuming to have revelation about types, shadows, and symbols in the Bible,

– making too many predictions,

– acting like no one remembers when previous predictions did not come true,

– and stretching, distorting, and editing facts to demonstrate preconceived conclusions.

I think we would all be wise to live as if Christ were coming back today, but plan as if he’s not coming back in our lifetimes.

Stay steady. Watch and pray. We can be confident, Jesus is coming again.

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37 thoughts on “Facts, Context, and Truth Matter

  1. Joel Curry says:

    So true. Thanks for addressing this subject.

  2. Victoria Jeffs says:

    Nicely put. I think that if individuals really believe we are in the last days (literally), perhaps they should live their final days loving people into heaven, instead of trying to scare the hell out of them.

  3. martybraemer says:

    Excellent thoughts, Pastor Ted. I remember speaking with someone once who had several reasons why they believed so and so was the anti-christ. They pointed out characteristics, positions they were taking, and even verses. I think they were stunned when I replied, “you may be right.” I went on to explain that scripture is clear that we always have the spirit of anti-christ with us. Since no one knows (not even Satan) when Christ will return, except for our Heavenly Father, there always has to be an anti-christ ready.

    Well meaning Christians can get caught up in millenial madness if they aren’t careful. Our admonition in scripture is to work and serve until He returns. Let us be busy sharing our faith and the gospel.

  4. Bill Walter says:

    As far as the end times I feel only God knows, thats why we should all live like its tomorrow.
    As far as Obama’s third term every one is looking at him not Mrs. Obama, With the mentality of the voters these days nothing would surprise me.

  5. Rich Petti says:

    Thnx Pastor Ted. Especially like this thought:
    “We do have to be careful. It’s true, we are in the end times, but we have been in the end times for over 2,000 years.”
    Some believers seem to be hoping that the signs of the times are end times signs, so they can escape this present darkness and get to heaven sooner than later.

  6. Lynn Cerullo says:

    Huge issue. Loving the truth…and just wanting our ideas to be right—are two different things.

  7. As a follower of End Times events and eschatology, I especially appreciated the kind and reasoned tone of this blog, Ted. You are truly correct that such predictions are so often taken for granted by Christians. Your attempt to actually gather researched facts is excellent example to all of us to exercise both caution and wisdom in this area. Nicely done, truly.

  8. I called when I first read about this bill Doug’s office too… was left wondering how this guy who keeps doing this could get reelected over and over again! No wonder our system is a in a bit of a mess.
    Anyway, Ted always appreciated your view of “end-times”, C.S. Lewis I believe wrote every man’s death is Christ’s second coming”. But, more importantly Jesus’ question to us all “when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”…. In the full context it is the parable of the Persistent Widow who is calling on a hard hearted judg. But Jesus states that our Father isn’t… verse 8 “I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
    The question remains unanswered in many churches, Christians and of course in general people’s lives. We walk with, talk with, work with…see at Starbuck, even drive on the streets of COS with people who are eternal beings since everyone is heading to eternity…the question then is – will He? The answer depends on which eternity you’ve choosen – to not answer is to answer …NO… what’s yours? Mine is YES and I am asking those other eternal beings like me the same question…so what’s your answer?

  9. spaguy1 says:

    My worry is less that a bill like this gets introduced again but rather the fact that Obama won by the margin he did…its not just the person in office that scares me but rather the thought process of the general public that would vote someone like this in. With that mentality it means that many, many issues will be a battle for Conservative Christians from now on.

    I know you’ve heard it all before but the number of people living off government assistance is outweighing the number of people adding to government funds. Those of us in small business who attempt every day to keep the wheels turning are losing the battle to those that are riding on the wheels.

    The faction of America that is trying to keep morals and the Christian foundation of our country are getting beat down by a growing hedonism in our society.

    The right to stand on your own, be responsible for yourself, protect yourself and your family is getting crushed by those who would give up all rights for the hope of a free ride on the governments dime.

    We justify a gateway drug like marijuana in the name of tax income ignoring the repercussions it will have on our young. We walk on the biblical principle of marriage by complaining about personal rights and ignoring the real definition. We allow something as harsh as murder to suffice for birth control and we open our arms to radicals who’s religion breeds an attitude of killing our people while shelving the Christ centered beliefs that helped us become America…. We had better wake up!

    • Ed Barker says:

      Hi Spaguy1, please dont accuse me of heresy or something but I am one of those who voted for Mr. Obama, and I also worked with his re-election campaign. You see, I am convinced that his concern for the welfare of poor people and the middle class much more closely align with the teaching of Jesus, than does the republican party and Mr Romney’s favoritism for the rich. I will respond to thoughtful comments, but not the kind of accusations I received from other Christians when I said that I was for Obama.

      • lorrainevb says:

        If I may say so respectfully, it seems to me you may only be watching and listening to liberal media (CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN) and what they say about Obama. Mitt Romney’s “favoritism of the rich” was totally fabricated by this media (owned by George Soros, very liberal billionaire).. Obama’s policies about abortion and same-sex marriage, his refusal to save our ambassador and other staff at Benghazi, his Dept. of Justice suing Arizona for trying to defend their borders, his cancelling the National Day of Prayer, his friendship with Hugo Chavez, Putin, and Ahmadinajad speak much more loudly of where his loyalties actually lie.

      • If I may say so respectfully, I think you missed the point. Though you have refined your talking points, these don’t have anything to do with interfacing current events with the study of the end times. But thank you for reading the post and caring. Blessings.

      • Ed, this is not that. This blog is about the amalgamation of current events with eschatology. It’s not a rehashing of Obama and/or Romney, not is it a place to vent bad feelings because some Christian people were not respectful to you in your support for Obama. We’ve all heard the arguments ad nausium, and most of us, whether Republican or Democrat, are glad the endless arguments are over. However, judging by the comments here, some are convinced others haven’t heard the endless stream of information yet. It’s interesting how people think they know more than others. Maybe we need to get back to discussing the melting pot?

      • Chuck Troupe says:

        I see your point. However, what Mr. Obama and the democrats want to do for the poor is force others (by law) to support the poor. That idea has nothing to do with the teaching of Jesus. Now, if Mr. Obama and the democrats were actually doing for the poor themselves … with their own money … then that would indeed more closely align with the teachings of Jesus. You, having a desire to give to the poor, and then actually opening your wallet, or your checkbook and then actually giving to the poor is truly aligning yourself with the teachings of Jesus. But you, having a desire to take other people’s money and give it to the poor is NOT the teaching of Jesus. That my friend is the teaching of Robin Hood and his merry men … and totalitarian socialism … and the current liberal democrat party. My name is Chuck and my email handle is ctroop. And my service is yahoo. Further rational discussion is welcome.

    • Rich says:

      Many Amens to those comments along the lines of stop fearing or cursing the dark, and be a light to lead others out of this world into the light of eternity.
      Re current events in the world or in our country that have some in consternation over end times, they existed long before Mr. Obama was elected or reelected.
      Re the media, Romney chose to avoid it, in turn creating his own problems with recordings of secret conversations, while his campaign bought an unlimited amount of air time, yet somehow the Republican message did not resonate for many of many faiths.
      To my sister in Yeshua, Lorraine, I must respond to the erroneous notion that the far right media have tried & lied abt NDP since POTUS first term. As a director & producer for the local NDP event for 6 yrs., as well as an advisor to the National NDP Committee; POTUS did not cancel NDP and never has, and in fact cannot cancel it bcz it is Congress that created that day. Like every Prez before, President Obama has issued an NDP Proclamtion every year he has been is office, per the law.

  10. Michael Postlethwait says:

    I find it interesting that Peter proclaimed the beginning of the Last Days at Pentecost. Other generations have been just as “sure” as ours that we are the final generation.I wonder how our strategy would differ if we quit assuming a preferred position. The question is this: If you knew it would be another 100, 200 or even 1000 years before Jesus came back, would your strategy on the way you approached life be different? If so, then perhaps it’s time to adjust our strategy. Sure, Jesus may come back tomorrow, but whether he comes tomorrow or 1000 years from now, the important thing is to not give up on the current generation simply because you’re convinced it’s not worth the effort. Also, may I humbly suggest Kenneth Gentry as a person of insight with a different perspective worth examining on some of these end times perspectives?

  11. Shirley says:

    The truth does have a marvelous way of anchoring us…thank you Pastor Ted for taking so much time to learn and methodically process issues of our current time. Yet, all the while being receptive to and allowing Jesus through you to keep engaging, enlightening and steading us on our journey! I am constantly challenged by you (in a very good way) which makes me stronger, more empowered…slow to talk but quick to listen. Things are not always as they seem, Praise God!
    Thanks again!

  12. Randy Jones says:

    Excellent blog, Pastor Ted. It was like going outdoors on a crisp, clear winter morning and taking a deep breath. That was a refreshing deep breath for my soul. 🙂

  13. After reading this blog by Pastor Ted I got to thinking that at times Christians act so much like the world that it’s hard to tell the difference. I hope not to go off subject here but stick with me. I am going somewhere with this ;). I happened to stumble on a show called “Doomsday Preppers.” I’ve never watched this show before but I checked in just to see what actually was going on with this. I was absolutely shocked to see that a wife and mother of three children would spend two hours A DAY going through her “doomsday” cellar that is stocked to the ceiling. I was further shocked to see that she put her family through intensive drills weekly so that they are all prepared when the end comes. I’m hearing of bomb shelters to live in are being built by end times people. Is it just me or does anyone else think this is crazy? I see Christians who react when tragedy strikes that it is God bringing about judgement. I hear of predictions by the Mayans on December 21, 2012 that catastrophes are on the horizon with devastating consequences to everyone. It always causes me to believe that not only the unbelieving but the believing are on the same page when it comes to end times. There really is no difference. Fear is the common ground. I thank God for my strong faith. God has everything under control. He is the God of the beginning and the end. We have a Creator and we are His creation. Think about it, anything that is created is taken care of ultimately by its’ creator. The creator knows its’ creation. I know in my heart and without a shadow of a doubt that no amount of worry will change anything. A third term for any president is nothing new. President Teddy Roosevelt chose “not” to serve a third term and instead went to Africa to hunt wild game for the Smithsonian Institute but the reality is that back in 1901 when he first inherited the job of presidency, and after his second term, the reality of a third term existed and was available. So, thank you Ted for addressing this. Whenever you speak from your heart you cause me to really think on things and that is one of the biggest reasons that I always love to hear what you have to say. Your words come from Gods’ heart. I respect that and I respect you. Believers and nonbelievers need to know that God ” … changes the times and the seasons: he removes kings, and sets up kings: he gives wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding,” Daniel 2:22. They also need to know that, ” … every soul is to be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God,” Romans 13:1. Regardless of a third term or not by President Obama, we must submit to that authority. It is God who allows him to be there and has placed him there. When He sees fit, He will remove him. It has nothing to do with votes, whether he’s a Republican or a Democrat, etc. President Obama was and has been placed there by God. He’s got it all under control. I’m not passive, I just choose to live with the type of peace that passes all understanding where my life is concerned in all of this whether it be a third term president or the end of the world. God is at the helm and I’m ok with that.

    • Randy Jones says:

      I didn’t know that about Teddy Roosevelt, but I knew that Franklin Roosevelt was elected for a FOURTH term in 1944. He died a few months later, on April 12, 1945, of a massive cerebral hemorrage.

  14. Rick Wiggers says:

    Here is confirmation of H. J. Res 15, as well as a history of Rep. Serrano’s proposals to remove the 22nd Amendment. It has no co-sponsors in the House and has a 0% chance of getting out of the Committee that screens proposals according to govtrack.us. Remember Rep. Serrano is a democrat in a republican controlled House of Representatives. But even in 2009 with H. J. Res 5 Serrano’s introduction of the same proposal with a Democrat controlled House and Senate, it did not even make it past the committee to the whole House of Representatives. (He also proposed H. J. Res 17 in 2011 on the same issue that never made it our of Committee.)

    http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hjres15#overview

    As far as eschatology goes, I hope Christians don’t just avoid the subject. It is VERY important that we as followers of Jesus know what He and the Apostles said about His return. The Parousia (return of Christ) is our greatest hope! This age is but a passing, corrupted shadow of what our lives will be like when the consummation of our salvation occurs in the resurrection…of which Christ’s return inaugurates. Christian’s may disagree on when that takes place among end-time events…that is not really the important issue, rather THAT he is returning for us.

    But Ted, you are absolutely right, we need to live our lives both as if He IS returning today, and as if He IS NOT returning for a thousand years. We need to have an urgency about our faith, as well as reasoned, long-term faithfulness in our walk, actions, and relationships.

  15. Wendy Selvig says:

    Thanks for the very relevant discussion as so many people seem to think the end of the world has come upon us… I have three young children and for awhile I listened to the fear and paranoia regarding living in the end times. The only thing that happened was I found myself feeling hopeless for their future, depressed, and fearful. Then one day I was reading what Jesus said about the signs of the end of the age…and he called them “just the beginning of the birth pangs.” I remembered how with first pregnancies, parents often rush around and speed to the hospital, only to be disappointed once they get there to have to wait hours and hours for labor to progress. If I were to have any more children and found myself in labor, I’d probably finish out my work day if I were at work, go home and throw a load of laundry in, and do whatever I needed to do because I now understand that labor can be a long and arduous process. Just because the “beginning of the birth pangs” have started does not mean the end is here, it means it could be in site. Sometimes the birth pangs start and you go to the hospital and you are sent home because they stop.
    I’m saying all this to say that I decided not to live in fear or that my children’s futures were forfeit. Living like the end is here actually stopped progress and productivity in my life, which is what I suspect the enemy wanted. I realized that we may be seeing birth pangs where the actual “end” could be 20, 30, 40 or more years down the road. It is true that we have had the spirit of the antichrist with us, we have seen it rear it’s ugly head and so we know how awful the end times will be. But the pendulum swings through history where times are really bad and then they get better, back to bad, then better….if I were alive during HItler’s time I would have surely thought the end was here. The truth is that nobody knows and that we cannot forfeit our productivity, giving of love, sowing of seed and planning for a better future just because we recognize the end is in sight. As you said, if we live our lives as if He is returning today, but also as if He is not returning for a thousand years I think we can find and live in a balanced place that will benefit us all.

  16. Tom P. says:

    I am a believer in End-Times scenarios – I lean toward Mid-Trib or Pre-wrath theory of the unfolding of eschatalogical events. Your Blog was fair, biblical and balanced. All the other responses have been quite interesting and very revealing. We are not to live in fear as believers over the things that will signal the “end of the age” – the Word says we are to live in “expectation and preparation.” While I do not focus on a “person” (like the scenario you presented by this lady – unless a new Temple is built in Israel and a man desecrates it and demands worship) for the unfolding of biblical events, I do look at “signs” as Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. While it is difficult to accurately interpret the Book of Revelation, it begins by saying the person “is blessed who reads and understands these words.” It’s a blessing to see what lies ahead of us – not Tribulation (which is temporary) but a New Heaven and a New Earth (that is eternal). Events seem to be escalating at a feverish and rapid pace (recordable and measureable): whether we’re talking about storms, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanoes, tsunamis, drought, pestilences, famine, terrorism, nation rising against nation, persecution of believers, the love of many “waxing cold,” and so on. We are not to “hunker in our holy bunker” but be ready – ready for what?…for THE HARVEST! Before the end comes, there will be an incredible “falling away” but on the other hand an incredible “harvest of souls.” We read that “the Gospel will be preached to the whole world and then the end will come.” Are we ready?…not for disasters, but for the GREAT GATHERING? Let us keep watching and praying – and living out The Great Commandment. Amen.

  17. Kelly says:

    You are the man Ted. I loved you paragraph about people becoming aggressive advocates. You summed it up so perfectly.

  18. debtfree2012 says:

    Pastor Ted,

    Great points.

    I, too, am concerned regarding Mr. Obama or any President, for that matter, to include Bush Jr., Clinton etc. from having an unlimited number of terms. I believe this is the problem with the Senate & House…term limits need to be in place. I believe our nation would not be in the terrible shape that it is otherwise.

    On the other hand, if the President, whomever that person was, were someone who TRULY had the best interests of this nation and followed the Bible I would feel differently about this notion. I say this because I care very much about this nation. I am a former member of the U.S. Army. Although I have been out of the military since the need of 1993 I still made an oath to defend this nation against ALL enemies foreign AND domestic. I still hold this oath VERY close to my heart. That being said, I do not believe that violence is the answer either. I have posted a lot of things involving Mr. Obama but I DO NOT want to see anything bad happen to him or his family. That is NEVER the answer.

    We MUST be careful to not go off half cocked on any tangent. We have been in the “end times” since Jesus ascended to heaven…NO man knows the time, day or hour. I wish more people would keep this in mind when they start off on their prophesy tangents too.

    I also applaud your openness about admitting that you do not know it all. I mean, none of us do. I’m glad you are posting these blog posts. Keep up that great work.

    Gregg Huestis

  19. rachel mcneal says:

    Amen pastor ted iam in agreement with u too . And yes we r in our last days . And all Ican say is those who don’t know our father . Need to get right with him cause he is come for us . And we need to b ready for that day when he does come again thanks again your friend rachel mcneal .

  20. Mary says:

    As always, thank you for this very timely, well-balanced and practical message. Also, thank you for taking the time to investigate this third term concern.

  21. JCavalier says:

    In my 30 years as a Christian, I’ve heard so much end-times preaching that all it’s done is instill fear and as you alluded to, gave way to things that just didn’t or haven’t happened. There are a lot of preachers that are focused too much on eschatology when they should be preaching the good news of the Gospel…grace and the wonder of Jesus living in us here and now. Unbelievers will be converted by our love toward them and each other much easier and sooner than scaring the hell out of people with doomsday preaching!

  22. An amazingly wise and thoughtful article.

  23. Ted…I live in El Salvador but I learned about you through the Pelosi documentary. It’s one of the most beautiful documentaries I’ve ever seen as a christian, not because we see your suffering, but because we get to see your faith when you almost had nothing. I felt so much like trying to contact you in some way and giving you the of the little I have. I could see your struggles and trials, which is really what makes a christian, not how much money he has. I understand the point you were making in this blog completely, and there’s always some far right wing FOX News zombie that’s gonna go way off tangent and misunderstand your words. That is exactly why we must get back to the simple basics of christianity: love. With the love of Christ you can never get lost. I’m personally tired of how the media and many wealthy individuals use religion to put fear in people’s minds. This is why people get tired of religion and this is why many are accused of making “war” on christianity. Christianity goes much farther than stupid pagan traditions; it’s deeply rooted from a transformation that completely changed the heart. Why are we even trying to make war against people who don’t believe in God instead of showing them God’s love? I’m not a liberal, and I’m only conservative with my own life, and I try to bring people to Christ through my actions of love, not through some psychological fear that’ll trick them into “conversion”. I feel that you were transformed completely through the problems you faced, and remember that character is what really makes a man…Christ’s character. If you ever need any help, I’ll always be there to lend you a helping hand and pick you up my brother…no matter what sins you may run into just like everyone else. May God bless you and His love guide you always. Please give your wife a big hug for me…she’s a wonderful woman…an exemplary one at that. Love, a friend from far away, Charlie

  24. Sue says:

    First off, I am not a religious person. I just saw the HBO documentary on what happened to you and your family, and if I had a home or a job to provide you, I would. I am glad that you have your feet under you again and wish you and your family the best. One of the reasons I am not religious is the treatment you received from your fellow “Christians”. When you needed help the most, they abandoned you. I believe that you are a good person who tried and tries to help others, yet when you were down and out and needed help they slammed the door in your face. That is disgraceful behavior for human beings to show one another. I know that you did not choose to have the feelings about men that you did, who would choose the hell you went through? You can’t fight who you are and win. That doesn’t make you a bad person, or a sinner in your world, it just makes you who you are. Peace.

  25. Jill Cloud says:

    Thanks for this piece. I feel this guide into the thinking process is needed by all, and especially for Christianity where there Bible is often read and accepted without an understanding of context. Recently I wrote a book entitled How to Study the Bible for 21st Century Living that touches on this issue. The introduction talks about thinking outside of the box/critical thinking which is a type of thinking that questions assumptions — it is a way of deciding whether a claim is true, sometimes true, partly true, or false.

    “…In regards to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.” I Cor 14:20 (niv)

    Thanks Pastor Ted & Welcome Home!

  26. debtfree2012 says:

    Pastor Ted is right…this blog is not about Obama etc. It would be best to keep this on topic of each blog post.

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