Friday, June 18, 2010

End Times--Worth Paying Attention To? (Daniel 10-12)

What does "the End" look like? When will it come? How will it get here?...and the BIG Question: Are we living in those times?

All of those questions are interesting, compelling, captivating...and (I think) may be futile.

I know, I just offended a bunch of people. Many love the study of 'the end times', and I understand. So do I!

I DO think it's worth studying and paying attention, but I just don't know that we're ever (with apologies to Jack VanImpe and John Hagee, among others) going to know for sure, and interpret the signs and the Scriptures with accuracy and authority in these matters.

That does NOT mean (as some say) that we shouldn't even think about it--as some do! Here's the problem with that line of thinking: These things are IN THE SCRIPTURES! You and I can't just ignore them!

I think that we need to read them (NOT to get obsessed with them, but read these passages as we do all of the Bible), keep our eyes open, keep praying and being sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and pay attention.

As I've been reading through Daniel I obviously come to the predicition of the tribulation (and the deliverance of some from it); the "Abomanation that causes Desolation", and the 'willful King'.

Some of this seems, quite clearly to be in the past...but not all of it. When Daniel's prophecy is combined with others--John's "Revelation", and Jesus' words in Matthew 24...there is very clearly a date in the future in mind, and the events that go along with it.

So...are we supposed to figure it out? Well, the gospel does say "Let the reader understand", and Jesus repeadedly said "Him who has ears to hear--let him hear!". He did warn us that "if it were possible" some of the Elect would be deceived--meaning those who have been saved by faith in Christ!

That means, in my opinion, that we should pay attention.
WILL the U.S. play a part? Will we even be around? Will we be so fixated on our own issues that we don't get involved? OR...will we be part of a New World Order which makes things like the Constitution irrelevant, in favor of things like the U.N. Charter?

Will we see a leader who takes his 'throne' in the Temple and sets himself up above the "God's of the past"? Will the whole push to 'world unity'--and the elimination of "religious hate speech" be part of this?

All of these things are possible...I think, Probable. Can we KNOW, however?

I don't think so. Remember, Jesus said "No one knows the day and the hour, not the Angels, nor the Son of Man, but only the Father". (Matt. 24:36). However, He also said "Therefore, Keep Watch!"

We need to be paying attention to these things...we need to be praying for discernment so that we are not decieved, and we don't allow others to be.

We CANNOT, however, allow our fixation on these things to stop us from living our faith out--no matter the cost! Whether we are in 'the end times' or not, Jesus calls us to be faithful to Him. If that means we are accused of hate speech, if that means we run counter to the world's rulers and systems, if that means we set ourselves up for punishment and even death, so be it!

May God grant us wisdom and strength for whatever lies ahead, and the faith to be strong, no matter what!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The One-Note Song

I love music...all kinds of music (o.k., maybe not rap and death metal...but I love a wide variety of music!).

I love to listen to the different instruments and try to pick out the rythmns, the notes, etc.--the way they each form thier own sound, but come together to form one better (sometimes AMAZING) sound is pretty cool!

What would it be like if every instrument played just one note? Maybe it was the 'middle C', or something great like that--choose your favorite note--but they each played only one?

Pretty aggravating. Pretty boring. I'd quickly turn it off.

Here's the thing: some of us only play one "note" in our dealings with others.

I'm a Christian. Full-fledged Christ follower. That means a few things, among them: I know, by faith, that I am God's child and am headed to heaven to be with Him. I know that it is by God's grace, through faith in Christ. I also know that some people will reject Him, and will therefore spend eternity separated from Him.

All of this I know...and I want to convince them to turn to Him in faith, to rescue them from their own sin.

What is the most effective way to do that?

Is it to run around yelling "You're going to Hell! You're going to Hell!"?

Don't think so. (Although it MAY be true--who am I to tell--I don't know thier hearts!). Even if it IS true, however, when they hear me yelling--using my 'one note', they will tune me out, so that the truth of the message--and the offer of salvation, through Christ--will be unheard.

We do the same thing with many important, controversial topics--including politics.

Yesterday the President of the United States visited our fair city and spoke at my Alma Mater, Kalamazoo Central High School. He said things I agree with--"Don't blame others; Don't make excuses; Don't let others determine your life; Rise above your circumstances; Help others rise up too"--and I agree with all of that. The experience, for those graduates and families was pretty amazing, I'm sure.

However, some of those who disagree with his politics (I count myself among them), find themselves unable to admit that these are good words. They can't see themselves EVER agreeing with ANYTHING he says (much like many of President Obama's supporters did with former President Bush).

I KNOW the arguments: "Who is he to say THAT? He's the 'Complainer in Cheif'!"; "He's just lulling us to sleep with nice words, then he'll pull the rug out!"

Let me ask my conservative brethren something: What is your goal? Is your goal to say "I was RIGHT!" in the end, or is it to convince people to take a step back and consider what's going on? Is your goal to wake people up, or to excuse yourself?

If your goal is to wake people up to what's going on, don't play only one note! Acknowledge when the President (or his cabinet) do something right, and those who write your opinions off as mere political 'hackery' will be more likely to take notice, and listen when you have a criticism.

If you only play 'one note', whether it's in music, politics, or faith--No One wants to listen! They may just turn you off!

1st Peter 3:15-16: "Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way.[c] Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ."

Philippians 2:14-15: "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life..."

Just sayin...