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True Liberty, Ephesians 2:1-6, 8

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As you can see, Buddy wore this hat to please me, but he wasn’t at all pleased about having his photo taken. His ears are pulled back because he is not at all happy about having the hat on his head. But he loves me so he put up with it.

On July 4th most* Americans are celebrating the founding of the United States, the declaration of our Independence from the rule of Great Britain. We are a unique nation because our Bill of Rights and US Constitution were designed to check the power of government over the population and balance that government’s power between the states and the different branches of the Federal Government, to ensure the freedom of our citizens.

Sadly, however, most people think they are free but they live in bondage.

Unbelievers live in bondage to sin but do not realize it, having never experienced the true freedom that Jesus Christ bought for us by dying for our sins on the Cross. Jesus paid the penalty to free us from our desires–and then was resurrected to give us eternal life. This life comes via the Holy Spirit Who indwells each believer after they accept Jesus as Lord and God in the flesh and what He did to free us from spiritual bondage.

Apostle Paul summarized this dilemma for unbelievers in the epistle of Ephesians:

“And you were dead in the your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (Satan), of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience…indulging in the desires of the flesh and of the mind and were by nature children of wrath…But God, being rich in mercy, because of HIs great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions and sins, made us alive together in Christ…” Ephesians 2:1-5

Until I became a Christian, I had no power over my sinful desires. I tried to be good but often failed. Christ’s Holy Spirit freed me from this bondage. Now I can choose right (as God defines it in the Scriptures) or wrong. Having been a nonbeliever till I was 28 years old, I have a lot of bad attitudes, wrong habits and sinful thinking to overcome, so sometimes I choose to do wrong, even if I know it’s wrong. But I now have a choice: before, I didn’t. I was in slavery to Satan. When I lose my temper, it’s not because God’s Holy Spirit doesn’t have the power to prevent me from being angry, but because I have sinful and selfish attitudes–self absorption–that is prompting me to be unkind that I have to learn to overcome with HIS help.

But believers also unknowingly, or willingly because of pride and/or arrogance, are in bondage. Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of the moral Laws of God, yet many believers remain in slavery because they still try to win God’s approval by being good. However, Jesus declared that only God is good (Matthew 19:17) . No human being can be good enough to earn their way into Heaven and God’s presence.

Ephesians 2:6 was not completely quoted above:

“even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…”

And Apostle Paul continues to explain in Ephesians 2:8:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Some people come to Christ and come under legalistic teachers, where they are led to believe that, if they continue to be good enough, God will be pleased with them.

“I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law (obeying God’s rules), then Christ died needlessly…Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish, having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”–Galatians 2:21-3:2-3

Pleasing God and obeying His rules is a good thing for our lives. We still reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7) and God disciplines us for His name’s sake and out of love for us, like a good Father does when His children go astray (Psalm 23:3, Revelation 3:19). But it does not make us right with God. Accepting the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf by faith put us into right relationship with God, and only faith in Jesus Christ keeps us in right relationship with God. (Another post for more details in the future.) Apostle Paul made it clear that the Galatians were being foolish by trying to make themselves right with God through their own efforts, rather than continuing to live by faith in Jesus Christ.

So whether you are in the bondage of unbelief in Christ or in the bondage of a legalistic relationship with God, why not celebrate true freedom and ask Jesus to set you free?

“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”–Jesus, John 8:36

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*Some mistakenly believe Socialism is a good thing. The United States was founded on the principle that the government exists to serve the people. Under Socialism, the people exist to serve and, be ruled over by, the government. Karl Marx made it very clear in his writings that Christians were fools and that Socialism was created to destroy the middle class and its bourgeois, Christian values. Check it out by reading his writings for yourself; don’t rely on what others say about what he wrote or meant, even me. I’ve read the Communist Manifesto multiple times. I know when I am being lied to because I’ve read it myself.

And please read the Bible for yourself. If with true sincerity, you ask God to guide your understanding as you read, He will. Apostle Paul applauded the Berean’s for verifying what he was teaching them by checking the Scriptures (Acts 17:10-11).

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True Freedom, 2 Corinthians 3:17

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When Buddy and I visit my storage unit, I let him run around without holding onto the leash because the doors are closed. He’s free to wander about anywhere he wants, within defined limits. Because, if he gets out past the doors, he could potentially get run over by a moving truck or out onto a major highway and be killed.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty.”–Apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 3:17

Today in the USA we’re celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin King Luther, Jr. His original name at his brith on January 15th, 2919, was Michael King. His name was changed to later Martin Luther King Jr. Why the change?

His father, a Senior pastor, was sent by his congregation on a trip to Europe and the Middle East. In Germany he visited the church in Wittenberg where Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis to the door of the castle church, challenging the teachings of the Catholic Church which had become corrupted. The pounding of this nail into the door started the Protestant Revolution and transformed world history. During this same tour his father visited Berlin a year after Hitler rose to power and was profoundly affected by the hatred toward the Jewish people.

I’m not sure of the details regarding the name change of his son, but apparently MLK made it clear in his final sermon on April 3rd, 1968, that if he could travel back in history, he “would’ve watched Martin Luther nail his 95 Thesis to the door at the church of Wittenberg”, making it clear that he considered this a pivotal event in history. He also declared that “I just want to do God’s will.”

Mr. Luther understood that following God was critical to living a full life. And like Buddy, we are free to live life fully as long as we stay within God’s defined limits. To stay in love, and not poison ourselves with hatred and bitterness. To not murder the reputation of another through lies and slander, not plot against and harm the innocent, to show respect and kindness instead of animosity and cruelty. “Speaking the truth in love (Apostle Paul, Ephesians 4:15)” and not with anger and arrogance.

To be able to look in the mirror at the end of the day and have a clear conscience, knowing that you did your best that day to love others, instead of hating and slandering.

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”–Apostle John, 1 John 4:8

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, that you have love for one another.”–Jesus, John 13:34

Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy will live on in every Christian who chooses God’s will, instead of selfishness and hate.

***

In his last sermon, MLK also admitted that he preferred to live but did not fear death. He knew he would go to heaven because He believed in Jesus Christ. Why not follow in his footsteps and give your life to Jesus tonight and become a new Creation? Start now from scratch, following a new path.

“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.”–Proverbs 4:18

God hates evil and sin and must punish it to be just. By admitting you’re a sinner and accepting that Jesus, God in the Flesh (Immanuel–Matthew 1:23), died for your sins, you can be declared not guilty before God and declared righteous in His sight–A child of God destined to live in eternity with Him, no longer separated from Him by unpunished sin. Why not admit you need Jesus Christ today and become born-again by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit? With the guidance of the Holy Sprit, godly Christian fellowship and the Bible, you can discover a new life.

**Please note I use the NASB version of the Bible for my Biblical references. Information about Martin Luther King Jr was from an article published online by tHe Washington Post on 1/15/19 by Deneen L. Brown.

The Way of The World, Psalm 2:1-4,10-12

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I was going to blog about cowardice, but changed my mind due to recent current events.

I will be deeply grieved if Buddy were ever to leave me. Why? Because I love and know him.

This world, however, does not know Jesus: His might, His kindness, His mercy, His grace, His patience, His love, nor His authority. I’m sure those who know our Great Shepherd can come up with many other attributes to add to the above. As a result of not knowing Jesus, the world mocks and rejects the God of the Universe and His church. Our American society, led by the mainstream media, is progressively hostile in its attitude toward Christians and anyone who believes in the Bible.

This Psalm was written over three thousand years ago, yet accurately reflects our world today:

Why are the nations in an uproar? And the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Messiah (Jesus), saying,

“Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!”

He Who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them…

Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth.

Worship the Lord with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled.–NASB version, Psalm 2:1-4, 10-12

Increasingly we see the Ten Commandments, Crosses, and other symbols of Christianity being removed in our society, or people making attempts at removing them. In Europe, hostile groups are tearing down Christmas trees or causing Christians and Jews to flee or deny them sanctuary. Recently, a group attempted to prevent Franklin Graham from entering the UK to preach the gospel. A Syrian Christian returned to Syria after immigrating to Austria, because he “felt safer” in his home country.

Although Jesus promises us freedom–freedom from sin, defeat, the devil, eternal punishment, self-destruction, negativity–the world sees Jesus and His commandments as enslavement, a “fetter” that must be “cast off” so that they can have the freedom to do whatever they want, to define their morality as they see fit, often in the disguise of a religious belief.

“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”–Jesus, John 8:36

Out of love for us, God sent Jesus to suffer the punishment for our sin. Jesus is our mediator, the bridge between a perfectly holy, sinless God and imperfect humanity.

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”–Apostle Peter, 2 Peter 3:9

But as some point, His patience is going to run out.

Because the world does not know Him, we must tell them, out of love for their welfare, even if they don’t want to listen.

Before “His wrath is kindled…”

***

My dear reader, Jesus loves you far more than I could even possibly love my beloved Buddy. He created you and sustains you every day. He wants to be in a loving relationship with you and not be estranged from you. Could you please consider giving your heart to Him today? He wants to be your Father–and your best friend.

Why The Flood Still Matters, 2 Peter 3:9

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As I detailed in an earlier posting, Buddy was so proud of himself when he grabbed my donut that I had left on my bed one morning instead of eating for breakfast. When I returned from work, he proudly greeted me with his prize. I laughed; after all, it was my fault. Buddy didn’t deserve punishment for only retrieving what I’d forgotten.

God is the same way with us. He is not eager to punish humanity for its sin. “For God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but the save the world” (John 3:17). God loves us, yet He hates sin. So He sent Jesus to take our punishment for His anger at our wickedness.

Apostle Peter echoes Apostle John’s words in his second letter to the church. He warns them that in the last days before Christ’s return, people will mock God, saying that because Christ has not yet returned, there is no coming Judgment. History flows along as it always has, with humanity in charge.

“But when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that…the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.”–2 Peter 3:5

I wasn’t raised Christian and struggled with the concept that an all powerful God could come down as a man and live amongst us. I read the “Origin of the Species” by Charles Darwin and a biography on Darwin, in an attempt to embrace atheism after some negative experiences with Christians I’d met who were a little too eager to convert me. But I’d had two years of biology in high school, plus a math teacher who emphasized logic, and noticed there was quite a lot that was unscientific about Darwin’s book and a lot of unverified fact that was assumed and mere conjecture.

When I took a course in Mythology at the University of Washington, I expected to learn about Greek and Roman mythology. Instead, I had a professor who seemed hellbent on discrediting Christianity. She mentioned that every culture in the world had a flood myth.

“Wait a second,” I thought. “If there really was a flood, wouldn’t every culture in the world have a remnant memory of it, passed down through the generations? If there wasn’t a flood, I’d expect many cultures NOT to have a flood myth. Yet my professor just said every culture had one.”

My now deceased uncle was a college professor, so I knew better than to believe unquestionably everything my instructors told me at the University of Washington. I maintained my intellectual discernment when listening to lectures–thinking critically, not just swallowing everything I was told without mulling it over first.

This incident was the turning point in my life on a path toward coming into a relationship with the true and living God about 5 years later.

I believe so many unbelievers are insistent on discrediting the existence of the flood–and to discredit the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah–because they want to deny that there is a judgment after death and that they’re accountable for how they live their lives. Despite the fact that there are fossils of sea life in unlikely places, like mountain tops, and that dinosaur remains are discovered in piles in alluvial sediment, as if swept away by a vast push of water and deposited.

Yet, the Bible tells us:

“it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,”–Hebrews 9:27

“Then I saw a great throne (in heaven) and Him who sat upon it…And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds…And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”–Revelation 20:11-15

God delays judgment, however, because He loves each one of us and wants us to repent and reconnect with Him. I believe this is why we sometimes feel frustrated, wondering why evil people continue to act wickedly and don’t seem to be punished: God is giving them a chance to turn their lives around. He isn’t eager to discipline anyone.

“For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord. “Therefore, repent and live.”–Ezekiel 18:32

It’s really easy to escape this judgment.

“And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”–Apostle Peter, Acts 2:21

“Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”–Jesus, John 8:24

When you recognize that you’re a sinner who cannot earn your way to Heaven, because you’re not able to meet God’s perfect standard, and call upon the name of Jesus, believing that He is God in the flesh, Who took the punishment for God’s wrath at sin, you’re saved.

“We maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.”–Apostle Paul, Romans 3:28

“For by grace you have been saved though faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that n one can boast.”–Ephesians 2:8-9

To illustrate:

God, 100% perfection, is on one side of a cliff and flawed humanity is on the other side, two miles apart. Between us is a deep gorge, the bottom so far down that even Wile E. Coyote would be afraid to tie an Acme rocket to his back. Some people, because they are really good people, try to jump across and make it maybe twelve feet, then plunge to the bottom. Some people, because they are sorta good and sorta bad, are able to jump eight feet and then plunge to the bottom. Some people are so bad and nasty, they cannot jump at all and just trip and fall to the bottom.

The point is, no matter how good you are, you cannot jump far enough because the only way to get across to stand before a 100% loving and holy God is to be 100% good. For example, you blew it the first time you yelled, “No!” at your mother when she asked you to do something (or your guardian, if you weren’t raised by your mother).

But Jesus stands in the gap, his arms stretching out toward both sides, connecting the two cliff faces. You can walk toward Heaven across His holy arms.

If you have trouble believing, just start on that road by asking Him to give you the faith to believe. He loves that prayer and will answer.

God bless you.

From Dawn and Buddy

***

PS. Many thanks to WordPress for allowing us freedom of speech. There are a lot of issues with social media platforms discriminating against speech their founders don’t approve of. Thankfully there is still someplace people can still blog freely. If you don’t like my blog posts, just don’t read them or don’t follow me. I won’t be offended. I believe in freedom.

Taxes, Nehemiah 5:4-5, 14-15, 17-18

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One burden Buddy doesn’t have to carry is calculating his income taxes every year. As a dog, he is reliant on me to provide him with his food, water, clothing, medical care and shelter. I carry the burden for his care. I bathe, walk and brush his teeth too.

Jesus told us to pay our taxes. When Jesus and the apostles arrived in Capernaum, the local tax collectors came over to Peter and asked if Jesus paid the two-drachma poll tax. Peter answered “yes” and then asked Jesus about it. Jesus produced a miracle to pay the tax: “So that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.”–Matthew 17:27

Additionally, when the Pharisees and Herodians ganged up on Jesus with to test Him to try to get Him into trouble with the authorities, they asked Jesus if it was against the Jewish Law to pay the poll tax to Caesar or not. But Jesus knew that they were hostile toward Him and not sincere in their inquiry, so He asked them to hand Him a coin that was used to pay the poll tax. After handing Him a darius, Jesus answered, ‘”Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.”‘–Matthew 22:20-21

I imagine that Matthew mentioned these two instances because He was sitting in his tax booth when Jesus called to Matthew to follow Him. That tax collector immediately got up and followed Jesus. At that time, tax collectors were some of the most reviled people in the Roman world.

However, I truly believe that godly people try to decrease, not increase taxes upon the populace, when they are in political office. Nehemiah is a great example. King Artaxerxes appointed his cup bearer, Nehemiah, as Governor over Judah and sent him to Jerusalem to rebuild the city’s walls. A city without walls, at that time, was considered a disgrace. When he arrived, he found the Jewish remnant (who had remained after the Babylonians had carried most of the population off into exile) in dire financial straits. One of the reasons is that the ungodly Babylonians kings had levied heavy taxes on the population. “Also there were those who said, ‘We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our fields and on our vineyards…we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters are forced into bondage already, and we are helpless because our fields and vineyards belong to someone else.'” (Nehemiah 5:4-5)

Nehemiah became very grieved and reprimanded those Jewish wealthy who had lent money to their fellow Hebrews and exacted usury. He appealed to them to return the fields, vineyards, olive groves, and houses, and also to return a “hundred part of the money and of the grain, the new wine and the oil that you are exacting from them.” (Nehemiah 5:11) And they did, freeing their brothers and sisters from slavery and financial bondage incurred as a result of heavy taxation.

For 12 years Nehemiah also relieved the people of Jerusalem from the burden of paying the governor’s food allowance that Nehemiah was permitted to exact from the population while acting as their governor. He paid for it himself.

“But the governors that were before me laid burdens on the people and took from them bread and wine besides 40 shekels of silver; even their servants domineered the people. But I did not do so because of the fear of God…Moreover, there were at my table 150 Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. Now that which was prepared for each day was one ox and 6 choice sheep, also birds were prepared for me; and once in 10 days all sorts of wine were furnished in abundance. Yet for all of this I did not demand the governor’s food allowance, because the servitude was heavy on this people.”–Nehemiah 14-15, 17-18

Godly leaders try to relieve the burden on those they govern, while those who do not fear God increase the burden: “when a wicked man rules, people groan.” (Proverbs 29:2b)

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon states that those who do not know God believe that “money is the answer to everything” (Ecclesiastes 10:19). Haven’t you been baffled by the fact that the solution most non-Christians come up with to solve social problems is always to increase taxes and throw more money at it like it’s a magic panacea? I believe it’s because those who don’t know God cannot understand that all of society’s social ills have their root in disobedience to God’s Biblical solutions to life’s problem.

It’s a bit baffling that there was a large protest recently by US citizens to increase the taxes upon the American people. Apparently they are unaware that there were record tax receipts during the George W Bush administration after a tax cut.

So, in summary, God commands that we obey our rulers and pay our taxes. We should be godly people who obey the law and not cheat and deprive the government what it is due. But whenever possible, we should support solutions that relieve people’s financial burdens, not increase them.

Come Lord Jesus.

God bless you. Dawn and Buddy

***

If you don’t know the Lord Jesus, please consider reading the Bible to learn what God says about money and how to live. A great place to start are the books of Proverbs in the Old Testament and Matthew in the New Testament. You will learn some great principles on how to live life successfully. If you’re ready to allow God to help you put these principles into practice, please pray:

Dear Lord, I thank you that you want to give me life and life abundantly. I’ve struggled in life because I haven’t been living my life according to your principles as stated in the Bible. I believe that is because I’m a sinner and need Your grace and help. I accept that Jesus was God in the flesh Who lived amongst us, died for my sins on the Cross, and then rose bodily from the grave and is alive. Please forgive my sins and give me the gift of the Holy Spirit. Lead me and guide me as my good Shepherd. Thank you for hearing my prayers and giving me eternal life.

If you prayed this prayer, congratulations on becoming born-again. Please find a Bible-based church where you can grow and fellowship with other believers.

 

Propaganda, Proverbs 18:17

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Buddy was sitting on my bed tonight, watching me as I sat on the floor, studying my Bible. He seems to be carefully examining and thinking about what I am doing.

The longer I am a Christian, and the longer I study God’s Word–The Holy Bible–I realize that Biblical wisdom can be applied to every aspect of our private and public lives.

Proverbs 18:17 states, “The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him.”

One of our country’s foundations is the importance of free speech. The Founders believed that when people of differing opinions are able to debate freely, the truth comes out. I truly believe it’s vitally important, not only as a Creative (person who is artistic), but also to maintain our nation’s freedom, that we allow free speech.

However, “”The naive believes everything.”–Proverbs 14:15

There are a lot of people in the USA who do not question what they hear from our media. They listen to only one point of view and don’t expose themselves to people who think differently. But the Bible warns that we need to hear both sides before we come to a conclusion (Proverbs 18:17 stated above).

“Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.”–Proverbs 27:17 By engaging in discussion or vigorous debate with others, we sharpen our views and, also, discover where our arguments are weak or wrong.

Propaganda thrives when people refuse to listen to opposing viewpoints, because they don’t have all the facts to discover if they really have the truth or not.

I believe it’s one of the enemy’s tactics to keep people isolated and not listening to one another. For instance, someone who refuses to associate with Bible-believing Christians because their pagan worldview may be questioned “and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:26)”

So I believe it’s vitally important for Christians to promote and protect free speech. As a nation, it’s one of our most unique and precious possessions.

And a gift from God.

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If you’re ready to start learning about a new view of who you are, please continue reading. You are not an accident of an indifferent universe. You were designed by God (Psalm 139) and have a purpose for your life. To get to know this God who loves you, please pray the below:

God, I believe that you want me to know You. But because You’re 100% holy and blameless, I am separated from you by my sin. I ask you to forgive my sins. And give me new life in Christ, Who died for my sins, taking the punishment I deserve. There’s no way that I can earn Your forgiveness, so I accept Christ’s sacrifice for my sins as a free gift. I ask that the Holy Spirit enter into my heart and give me His life. And teach me to grow in a knowledge of You and Christ so that I can learn to discern truth from error. Thank You for loving me and making me a new Creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). In Jesus’ name, Amen.

God bless you and lead you to a Bible-believing church.

Love from Dawn and Buddy

Good News About the Ukraine

On Sunday, around 500,000 evangelical believers gathered in the central square of Kiev, Ukraine to celebrate the Protestant Reformation’s 500th anniversary and to thank God for His faithfulness in their country. Rakhuba was in contact with colleagues attending the event, and he says, “They reported over 500,000 across denominational lines from all the churches in […]

via Ukraine has been declared free for the gospel to be preached after many years of ban. — END TIMES