Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Return.9

"Two will be working in a field. 
One will be taken [i.e. received]
    and the other left behind [i.e. turned away].   

Two women will be grinding at a mill. 
One will be taken, [see above]
    and the other left behind [ditto]. 

Watch therefore: 
for you know not in which hour your Lord will return. 

But do know this: 
that if those in the house had known the hour of the thief’s coming, they would have remained watchful, and would not have let their stores be plundered."

I have a co-worker who has asked me on several occasions
image from
if I believe in the "rapture" (meaning, of course, the way he believes in the "rapture".)  After waxing theological on a few of those occasions I've finally resolved to just say: No. I believe in Jesus.  Sigh...

I've come to understand that it isn't just Christians who, in times of great turmoil --which, by the way, is the cycle of mankind's history -- resort to finding comfort and relief in their version of doomsday predictions.  For decades the scientific community has offered its own impending cataclysmic scenarios resulting from man-made this or that. 
"It has been 45 years now since the first Earth Day. You would think that in this time frame, given the urgency with which we were told we had to confront the supposed threats to the environment—Harvard biologist George Wald told us, “Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken”—at least one of the big environmental disasters should have come to fruition...

  • Global Cooling 
  • Overpopulation
  • Mass Starvation
  • Resource Depletion
  • Mass Extinction
  • Renewable Energy
  • Global Warming 

The environmental doomsayers don’t just extrapolate blindly from current trends. They extrapolate only from the trends that fit their apocalyptic vision while ignoring trends that don’t fit. They project forward the current rate at which we’re using up our resources, but ignore the history of our ability to innovate and create. They get all excited by 20 years of rising temperature or rising oil prices—but ignore two centuries of rising wealth and longevity.
It’s almost as if they started with a preconceived conclusion and cast about for evidence to support it." 


The only truly predictable thing is that doctrinal dogma, computer models, and political positions too often trump truth and create warring factions, disputing, hatred, greater governmental intervention, and power-mongering.

The watchfulness Jesus describes --and is building into His followers-- is not marked by accurate predictions of questionable interpretations, but by resistance.  

  • Resistance to being un-choosable through disobedience, indolence, carelessness, thoughtlessness, fearfulness or self-will.
  • Resistance to the thief and his lies.
  • Resistance to letting evil plunder our hearts and homes.
  • Resistance to letting the world system squeeze us into its predictable mold and robbing us of the freedom to live life in harmony with our Creator.
  • Resistance to fashionable and chic, wealth and power, envy and coveting, materialism and ambition.
Let us then live with a readiness to give ourselves to Jesus in the quality and loveliness of life He inspires through His Spirit.  In a word: love one another as he loves us. Every moment, every day.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Return.8

"Let not my returning find you unprepared; 
for like the springing of a trap, 
will it suddenly come upon the earth."

Recently my wife and I took four of our grandkids camping.
 Normally I love camping.  Enormously I love my grandkids. But this was a cold October weekend we chose for both.  After working through a tough week battling a cold and cowpoop, I just wasn't looking forward to battling weather and whippersnappers! 

We arrived late at night where we then had to set up camp, unload our horses, get them tied up and settle the kids down for a chilly night's sleep.  It was almost more than I could handle and all I could think about was how much I did not want to be here, I wanted to be home in the comfort of my own bed!

The next morning after waking I carefully unpeeled myself from between the puzzle-pieces of bodies lying all around, praying I wouldn't wake anyone before getting a first cup of coffee!  Outside, as I wandered aimlessly not wanting to go back in the camper and really not wanting to stay, a friend rescued me with the comforting words: we have coffee!

Comfort.  It has a powerful pull on a weak and weary soul, doesn't it? At one point I remember thinking that I was living an episode of Bear Gryll's Man vs Wild and recoiling at the notion of having to endure discomfort!

But if it's true that Jesus has a right to my absolute obedience I need to remember that He also has a right to determine my steps and I don't have a right to argue whether I like His will or not.  The "springing of the trap" of His will is a great word-picture of the surprise too many "Christians" experience when comfort is suddenly whisked away by death, disease, societal collapse, evil, cold-hearts and indifference. 

Blog sites are springing up daily on how to be prepared for this or that looming disaster.  For a follower of Jesus the primary preparation we must focus on is alacrity: quick, cheerful, complete obedience from the heart.  Whether His will calls us to great sacrifice, great watchfulness, great fellowship, great planting or great reaping, let it be said of us: we are ready!

By the way, a little perspective gives a great deal of comfort: we had a great weekend with family and friends!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Return.7

"Do not let your heart be overwhelmed
         by the pursuit of earthly pleasure, 
              or the anxieties of life. "
past tense: overwhelmed; past participle: overwhelmed

  1. -   bury or drown beneath a huge mass.
        "the water flowed through to overwhelm the whole dam and the village beneath"
    "advancing sand dunes could overwhelm the village"
    • defeat completely.
      "his teams overwhelmed their opponents"
      synonyms:defeat (utterly/heavily), trouncerout, beat (hollow), conquervanquish,be victorious over, triumph over, worstovercomeoverthrowcrush;More
    • give too much of a thing to (someone); inundate.
      "they were overwhelmed by farewell messages"

How do we keep our hearts from being swamped, buried,
inundated, trounced, routed, conquered, vanquished, overthrown, crushed by this world; whether the allure of pleasure or the anxieties of life?

The Apostle Paul lived out Jesus' command and discovered the key to conquering the crushing pressures of this world's influences:
"We are pressed on every side, yet not crushed; perplexed, yet not to despair; pursued, yet not forsaken; struck down, yet not destroyed; always carrying in the body the putting to death of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body."

(2 Corinthians 4:8-10)

Two ends of the Anxiety Squeeze:

  • Earthly Pleasure: "If things be our undoing, it matters little whether its things we have or things we don't have." The comfort and security of the American way of life is rapidly disappearing as the USA turns its back on God symbolized most recently by the late night removal of the Ten Commandments from the Oklahoma state capitol and the celebration of a statue dedicated to Satan in Detroit!
  • Anxieties of life: Christians are being targeted for persecution in a manner perhaps rivaling the days of Domitian and emperor worship in Rome.
There is an American Pastor, Saeed Abedini, sitting in an Iranian prison "carrying in his body the putting to death of the Lord Jesus" as his captors continually torture and try him for his testimony to the Lordship of Jesus Christ!  A gunman on a community college in Oregon pointedly asked students whether or not they were followers of Jesus. If they declared their allegiance to Jesus he shot them in the head wherein "the life of Jesus was also revealed in their bodies."

How do we keep from being overwhelmed?  By keeping our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, the kind of faith He wants to find when He returns!  A faith marked by obedience, by letting go of the comforts and security of this world, and by taking a stand when called upon to declare our allegiance to Jesus!

"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, 
and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy..." - Jude 1:24