Thursday, June 19, 2014

The End Times.2

"My people, my people, you who have killed the prophets, and spurned those sent to you, how often would I have gathered you, even as a hen shelters her chicks beneath her wings, and yet you would not! Behold, your house is left desolate; and you will not see me again until the time when all will say: 
'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

Chasing chickens is not for the faint of heart!  NFL defenses
image from
used to prepare to face the elusive, Hall of Fame running back, Barry Sanders by letting chickens out onto the practice field!  Watching Barry dart around frustrated grown men as easily as these speedy birds was almost as entertaining as watching our grandkids try to gather chicks let loose in the yard!

There is a reason we associate extreme fearfulness with these fleet fowl: it is extremely hard to even get near them before they take flight! Comparing people to chickens, however, is a pretty accurate way of describing our extreme reluctance to draw near to our Maker who would be our Master.  Because our hearts are so far removed and our eyes so focused on our own security, little can we see the devotion in the face behind the hand extended to save us from our own folly.

But there is a price to pay for morbid devotion to our own self-preservation...

1.(of a place) deserted of people and in a state of bleak and dismal emptiness. e.g., "a desolate moor"
Desolation In the USA

"It is hard on God, when His children will not let him give; when they carry themselves so that he must withhold His hand, lest he harm them. To take no care that they acknowledge whence their help comes, would be to leave them worshippers of idols, trusters in that which is not.”

Lord Jesus, we do not understand thee, because we do not trust thy Father – whole-hearted to us, as never yet was mother to her first-born! Full of care, as if he had none, we think this and that escapes his notice, for this and that he does not think! While we who are evil would die to give our children bread to eat, we are not certain the only Good will give us anything of what we desire!
The things of thy world so crowd our hearts, that there is no room in them for the things of thy heart, which would raise ours above all fear, and make us merry children in our Father’s house!" 
(quote from The Cause of Spiritual Stupidity, George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons II)
Lord Jesus, keep gathering until we realize:
"Lo, here comes One who will increase our loves!"

Sunday, June 8, 2014

An Invitation To Life.6

"This good news of the kingdom shall be preached in the entire world as a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come." 

Is the World becoming a better place to live?

According to Matt Ridley, in his book The Rational Optimist, there is incontrovertible evidence that it is.

He was taught to think the future was bleak. 

“The population explosion was unstoppable. Famine was inevitable. Pesticides were going to shorten our lives. The Ice Age was coming back. Acid rain was killing forests … All these things were going to go wrong.” 

Yet time and again, humanity survived doomsday. Not just survived, but flourished. Population increases, yet famine becomes rarer. More energy is used, yet the environment gets cleaner. Innovation and trade keep improving our lives.

“People are much more interested in hearing about something that’s gone wrong. It sounds wiser to talk about what might go wrong than to talk about what might go right.” 

Or what already went right. Over the past 40 years, murder dropped by 40 percent, rape by 80 percent, and, outside of war zones, Islamic terrorism claims fewer than 400 lives a year. The last decade saw the fewest lives claimed in war since record keeping began...the big picture is good news."

In the news business fear sells. To insiders it is affectionately called "pessimism porn" .  Unfortunately, I believe, it is much too prevalent in the Christian community as well. Books, like the Left Behind series, that paint a bleak picture of the end of the world are wildly popular in the church.  

But what if the "end" to which Jesus is referring is a series of endings: to slavery, to disease, to tyranny, to oppression leading to the ultimate end: the end of death.

Freedom unleashed by the Truth lived out by His Kingdom kind, unleashing human potential collaborating with the Spirit of Jesus. The Spirit that is always working to convict of sin, righteousness and judgment, a work that sets free and improves the human condition.

Case in point: Harriet Beecher Stowe's blockbuster book, Uncle Tom's Cabin, described with poignant precision the
wretchedness of slavery in America and the hypocrisy rampant in both the north & south, especially among the religious. A book, that many view, as the catalyst for the widening rift in American society that led to the Civil War.

But her greatest impact was in describing the quiet effects of true Christianity working in the hearts of men - black & white alike.  "Uncle Tom" was not a picture of a compromising black man insulting the condition of his race, but a type of the Ultimate Man who lays down his life for his friends.  

  • A true man who won't be broken to accept the dictates of evil.  
  • A gentle man who refuses to be reduced to the beastly impulses of those who temporarily control the reins of power.  
  • A great man who sacrificially serves the most pitiable around him raising their hopes and calming their fears. 
  • A powerful man who quietly subjects himself to the insatiable rage of violent evil.  
  • A dying man who's unshakable faith in the freedom of heaven inspires courage and conviction leading to the freedom of his fellows.
The "Utopianists" of all ages hope in a better world, just like true believers.  But for those, like Ridley, Ray Kurzweil, Eric Schmidt, Bill Gates, and many others, hoping in a humanistic, technology driven "New World Order", their faith in the DNA of evolutionary processes will always shape (and justify) the outcome: the stronger will always out "fit" -- and control -- the weaker.

The DNA of the Kingdom of Heaven is Jesus.  He is the Good News that must be preached to the entire world.  For it is his influence - righteousness, peace and joy in the Spirit- continually working through His followers, that makes the world a better place to live by making each individual a better person to be. 

His Kingdom come. 
His Will be done. 
On Earth. 
As it is in Heaven.