Monthly Archives: May 2011

The Forgotten Promise: War No More

The Memorial Day holiday was originally dedicated to remembering the fallen dead of the American Civil War.  Then as the years went on, and America became involved in further and greater wars, in which many more young men gave their lives, the holiday was further expanded to memorialize the dead of all war.  And sadly, the dead shall continue to be multiplied, as in recent years America has entered into everlasting and unending war.

In light of the unending war we as a nation have entered into, I want to take a moment not to remember the great number of dead who have given their lives for our nation.  Rather, I want to take a moment to remember a prophetic promise and the Messianic hope that many have long forgotten.

And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war. – (Isaiah 2:4 NASB)

What an amazing promise to read.  But my question to you is do you have the faith to believe it?  And having the faith to believe it, are you looking to participate in this great hope?  Whether for “just” or unjust reasons, there is a natural bent mankind and the nations have to propagate war.  It is something our political leaders are well versed in, even in “Christian” America.  But here we read there is nothing Christian about war.  Jesus never once taught His disciples how to fight in a war– not even a just one.  And if America were truly the Christian nation we claim it to be, we would have never taken up the sword against King George in England, nor would we have ever dropped the atomic bomb three times on Japan.  Why?  Because Jesus has never taught us to do such things.

Indeed, I would be so bold to say that if you have learned war it is because you have been a disciple of somebody other than Jesus Christ.

The only reason the nations wage war against one another, be it for just or unjust reasons, is because they have yet to submit themselves to the rule and reign of the Messiah, who teaches men to beat the instruments of their warfare into tools for harvest.  If nations would be taught of Him, they would stop spending hundreds of billions of dollars a year on national defense.  If nations would be taught of Him, they would not have to secure their borders.  If nations would be taught of Him, they would not have to destroy those upon the “Axis of Evil” to experience liberty.  If men would be taught of Him, they would know nothing of the fear that leads one man to slaughter another.

Instead of war, we would know the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.  But because we do not know that peace, and have forgotten this great Messianic promise and hope, we learn war.


Goodbye Oprah! — The Untold Story

This week, after a 25 year run, The Oprah Winfrey Show has finally come to an end.  CNN and other news networks wrote a glowing review of the positive contribution Oprah has made towards society.  Personal testimonies abounded of the difference Oprah made in their lives, and the inspiration she brought to them during troubled times.  Women everywhere cried.

I breathed a sigh of relief.

Why?  Because there is an untold story that many homes know all to well– but is never reported on.  It is the story that countless men could attest to.  It is the story of a man who, after working hard all day at the office, comes home to a wife whose mind and spirit has been poisoned by Oprah.  His wife now wonders what her husband has really being “doing” all day at the office.  Her children wonder at the new “philosophy” and “spirituality” mommy now embraces– it’s definitely not what they learned about in Sunday school.  And women everywhere are now empowered by a foolish and silly spirit that has taught them to love the superficial, and to not really care about that which is true.

What has been especially alarming is how much Oprah has been embraced and celebrated by born-again, Spirit-filled, Evangelical Christian women.  Oprah has become something of a prophet to them.  So much so that one sister in the Lord I know, when Oprah “gave God the glory” on her final broadcast, couldn’t help but stand on the roof-tops of Facebook, and proclaim on multiple pages how excited she was that this had happened.  You would have thought a religious revival had occurred, or that maybe Jesus had returned on May 21st after all.  Is it no wonder that Casting Crowns has had to sing, “What if the family turned to Jesus, instead of asking Oprah what to do?”

Honestly, the only way Oprah could have given God the glory on her final TV show was if she would’ve renounced the 25 years of pollution she has littered the air-waves with.  Oprah, the false prophet she is, has consistently promoted ideals and values that have regularly been exalted against the true knowledge of God.  These things have destroyed homes, led others into sin, and has caused the image of God in creation to be further corrupted.  And she did all of this in the name of making a buck off the souls of countless millions who loved to tune in day after day, week after week, and year after year.  Those who have loved her– even among God’s people –may not realize it, but they have loved Oprah and have enjoyed having their ears tickled by her, because ultimately, they have not loved God as they ought.  You cannot love Oprah and Jesus at the same time.

This is the untold story of Oprah Winfrey.  CNN may have not picked it up.  But somebody who has lived a little bit of life and spent some time talking to Jesus has.

Harold Camping: May 21st, The End of the World, and You

In the last few weeks, a gross amount of attention has been given to a man by the name of Harold Camping.  Harold, as we all probably know, has predicted that Jesus Christ will return to rapture His church tomorrow, on May 21st, 2011.  Now normally, I don’t give this sort of stuff any attention.  But I can’t help but notice the great amount of people who have.  I guess there is nothing more important happening in this world right now, and it must just be a slow news cycle.  Such claims of men who say they know when Jesus will return, as we all know from history, aren’t entirely unusual.  Though of course, they are a bit odd and out of place considering that the Lord explicitly taught that no man knows the day or the hour of His return.  Most Christians understand this very basic teaching, and aren’t in the slightest way moved by it.

Yet without fail, every few years somebody comes along who feels that through their diligent research and study of the Scriptures, or by means of some secret divine revelation, they have managed to figure out something that nobody else has figured out.  They know the timing of Christ’s return!  And to some degree, many of us laugh at it all.  So much so that some people even throw end of the world parties.  But tonight I’ve realized something about Harold Camping.  Harold Camping is a paradigm of how many Evangelicals study the Scriptures.  When you look at Harold Camping, instead of thinking you see some crazy old man and false teacher,  realize that you just might be looking into a mirrored reflection of yourself.

We all have been influenced by some Bible teacher over the years who just seemed like he had an amazing grasp of the Scriptures.  Every time such a teacher speaks, great mysteries and levels of understanding just seem to be unlocked, and we are blown away by his penetrating insights and discoveries.  We highly esteem such individuals.  So much so, we want to be like them.  So we do what comes naturally, we do our best to try and imitate them.  So we spend a lot of time reading the Scriptures, memorizing verses, and being extremely caught up in the world of theology and Biblical studies.  We highlight every passage and look up ever single word in a dictionary.

But a problem occurs.  Through our first few readings of the Scriptures, we find ourselves having a hard time understanding them.  We discover we aren’t as insightful as our beloved Bible teacher after all.  But not wanting to be ignorant, and always wanting to have some super deep spiritual insight to share with others, we attempt to look very hard to find some hidden gem.  And when that is not enough, we begin to try and squeeze water out of rocks.  Why?  Because something of our pride is tickled, and we want to say we understand something great and awesome, and appear insightful to others.  And because of such, we become poor Bible students.  And instead of being blown away by the awesome work of what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross and in His resurrection, we find ourselves caught up in lesser things.

Why do we do such?  I’m convinced we do such because we are ultimately bored with Biblical Christianity and the faith once and for all handed down to the saints.  Because we think the cross is so elementary, we move on to what we consider the real “deep things of God.”  But in doing such, we’ve show ourselves to be deceived.  For there is no greater mystery in all of the universe to understand than God crucified.  And if you can ever get bored with this mystery, then it shows you’ve never really even begun to understand it.  There is no nugget of truth greater or any insight more precious than what God did in Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago.

This isn’t to say we should neglect the study of eschatology– the doctrine of the last days.  We should most certainly study these things.  But my main point is this:  if we can’t rightly understand the doctrines of the last days in light of what Christ did 2,000 years ago on the cross and in His resurrection from the dead, then we can’t honestly expect to understand anything at all.  For in that place is found all insight and knowledge.  And apart from a mastery understanding of what Christ did there, the rest of the Bible will be a very dark place.  And it will be a very dark place for you, because like Harold Camping, you’ve became bored with the everlasting Gospel of Jesus Christ.  And God doesn’t want you to understand the precious truths contained in the Scriptures apart from the truth found in Christ.

So, make fun of Harold Camping all you want.  But consider that perhaps God has raised such a man up to serve as a mirror for you to gaze in.  And be warned, that in making fun of Harold Camping, you are only making fun of yourself.

St. Jimmy’s Apocalypse

Through the centuries and even into our day, there has been a great fascination with the great theme of apocalypse.  We find the theme taken up by everybody from ancient prophetic writers to modern day Hollywood producers.  It is intuitive to human nature, and has been a common observation, that all things that have a beginning must eventually have an end.  It is a cycle that repeats itself, and is plain for all to see.  Indeed, this truth is so self-evident, that not even a fool would probably doubt it.  All things must come to an end.

As you are probably aware, the Scriptures contain some writings that would be classified as “apocalyptic.”  A lot of people have given much time and energy to studying and debating the apocalyptic books of the Bible.  Few books have caused more controversy than the apocalyptic book of Revelation.  It is a book loaded with powerful, violent, and majestic imagery that depicts the finality of this age and history as we know it.  In it we read of great and terrible things that God promises will one day come upon the entire world.

As an American, we feel a strange disconnect in our rather comfortable and affluent lifestyles from that of the events we read of in Revelation.  Our fascination for the book is little different than a motorist who slows down to observe a terrible car accident on the side of the road.  Our interest in the wreck and our interest in the book of Revelation is almost entirely morbid.  We want to see, not because we have any heartfelt interest, but because we enjoy the titillation of it all.

But the book of Revelation was never written so that one could have idle curiosities aroused and satisfied.  For God doesn’t really care if you know and understand anything about the end of the world.  Rather, God has granted us a knowledge of these things so that even in the midst of great trial, turmoil, and tribulation, you might gain a revelation– not of the end of the world — but of Jesus Christ.  And truth be told, at the end of the day that is what the book of Revelation is about.  It is not a book about the end of the world, but it is a book about Jesus Christ.  As has been often pointed out, the book is not named the Revelation of St. John, or the Revelation of the End of the World, but it is named the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

And I think it is important that God chose to give us a revelation of Jesus Christ in an apocalyptic context.   Why?  I believe God did this so that when “apocalyptic” events happen in my own life, I might learn to not be consumed by the events that unfold around me, but that in those events,  I might learn to be consumed by Him who sits on the throne.  When the foundations of the earth shake and the stars from heaven fall upon me in my own life,  I need to remember that there is One to whom “all blessing and honor and glory and power” belongs to.  In such times I need to be reminded that though a flood of satanic furry be released against me, and though the armies of hell may march upon everything that I have ever known, there remains One who comes seated upon a white horse, slaying all His enemies with the sword that comes out of His mouth.

Should the Lord tarry, none of us will live through the apocalyptic times depicted in the Scriptures.  But none of us will be without apocalyptic moments in our lives.  For in this world, we will have trial and tribulation.  Catastrophic, life changing events will suddenly happen to us without notice, and the future as we know it will suddenly come to an end.  But when these things happen, we must look at them as events ordered by God to introduce us to a greater knowledge of Him.  These events are an opportunity for us to turn aside and see Jesus Christ.

Today, I have reason to reflect upon an apocalyptic event that happened in my life just over two years ago.  The event was almost without notice, and brought many things in my world to an end.  And today, I am still not quite sure all that happened in those days.  But in those days, when my world came suddenly crashing down, I was given a unique revelation of Jesus Christ.  And though those days were some of the worst days of my life, looking back, I know they were also my best.  They were my best, not because of anything great happening in them.  But they were great because in the midst of it all, I had a revelation of Christ that I could have not otherwise obtained apart from going through my own personal apocalypse.

The revelation of Jesus Christ that comes through apocalypse is so awesome, that even though all the turmoil that is written of in the book of Revelation is still yet future, the final cry from its pages is “Come Lord Jesus!”  Such a cry is not superficial or cheap.  It is a heartfelt cry that recognizes that though one may have to go through a living hell in order to experience the revelation of Jesus Christ, the intimate knowledge one gains of Christ during such times is ultimately worth it.  So when you are going through hell, embrace the apocalypse God has ordained for your life.  For in doing so, you will be brought into a greater and more intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ, and you will see Him as you never saw Him before.  You will have a revelation.

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