Monday, May 23, 2011

NAG! NAG! NAG! NAG!

ApocalypseImage by Rich Man via FlickrFIRST OF ALL I AM NOT REFERRING TO MY WIFE. Second, given the recent study topic (see previous posts regarding sermon series in the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ), I could be referring to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. But, in reality, I am referring to some much less tantalizing (hearing about problems in the Kay household) or some much more traumatic (the Four Horsemen). No, I am referring to those things that nag at many of us just as we are trying our best to do our best.


Allow me to enumerate. (Please bear with me, I'll get to where it touches the Revelation study)

Nag #1 -- A biological system that refuses to cooperate. I am watching my diet, taking the prescribed medications and still the blasted internal system refuses to work correctly (Don't ask for details, you don't want to know!)


Nag #2 -- A physiological/muscular breakdown. Try to keep in shape. Keep the weight in check, the body active and healthy and my right knee refuses to cooperate. Hobbling an already s-l-o-w runner.

Nag #3 -- The spiritual man that refuses to cooperate and gives in to the old nature just when you think you're getting things in check and moving forward following Jesus.

Nag #4 -- A world's system, including the church of which it is a part, telling me that simply the Triune God and His living and active Word is not enough.  I am truly amazed that the disciples ever got this church thing off the ground without the theological, ecclesiastical, sociological and managerial library demanded that every pastor possess. Case in point. For my study in the Book of Revelation I purchased a three volume commentary of 1,242 pages of commentary (not including the 211 pages of introduction in the first volume or the scores of pages of indexes!) Please note the TNIV version of the Book of Revelation which I own consists of 18 pages, and one can read it aloud in about an hour and twenty minutes.

So, you've now met the Four Nags. And now you're asking how does this sabbatical rampage fit into my study of the Book of Revelation? Well, no-tongue in-cheek intended, but I am beginning to get a better idea of what the angel was referring to in Revelation 14:12, "This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commands and remain faithful to Jesus." (Also in Revelation 1:9 and Revelation 13:10)

Now, I realize the "nags" I am facing is nothing like pains and agony the church has faced throughout the ages, but I can be reminded that all of these things that we each face we are called to face with patient endurance, with our eyes firmly focused upon Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-3), because the Lord is coming and His reward is with Him and that He is faithful to see each of us through whatever "nags" we face, small or large. 

If the Book of Revelation teaches us anything it is that we can hope in this life because we can have confidence in the One who is making a home for us, and has promised to return to take us to be with Him. To take us to that place where every tear will be wiped away, where there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain...or those things that nag us! (Revelation 21:4-5)

Maranatha!

Friday, May 20, 2011

FEAR OR FAITH? HORROR OR HOPE?

WELL IN LIGHT OF RECENT DECLARATIONS THAT THE END OF THE WORLD IS COMING THIS SATURDAY -- Check-out Harold Camping's "prediction." -- I guess my upcoming sermon series on the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ is either "a-day-late-and-a-dollar-short" or it's right on time.

What drives you when you consider the end-of-the-world scenarios? Is it fear or is it faith?  Are you thoughts overwhelmed with the horror or the hope of the things to come?  I believe that the message that God reveals in the last book of the New Testament is a message of HOPE given to a church that would in their day experience great horrors. It is a message that the church needs to hear today, as never before.

Time will tell whether Harold Camping is right or wrong.  If he's right, well, "I'm outta here!"  If he's wrong, well that leaves us with more time to share the Good News about God's grace and love poured out in and through Jesus Christ.

In light of the recent predictions, I came across this video dealing with the problems that come when we are driven by fear rather than hope. Enjoy...and let's keep at the work of proclaiming the Good News!


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Thursday, May 19, 2011

HOW LONG, O LORD, HOW LONG?

DURING MY SABBATICAL STUDIES THIS WEEK I have found myself spending time in two different portions of Scripture. Of course, I have been in the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ (getting ready for my sermon series on my return), and I also have been "working through" Psalm 27:1-14.

A couple of days back I was grabbed by a link between these two different sets of Scripture. In Psalm 27:14 we read,
Wait for the LORD,
Be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.
and in Revelation 1:3 we read,
...and take to heart what is written in it for the time is near.
And then Jesus' words recorded at the end of the Revelation in Revelation 22:20
"Yes, I am coming soon!"
How long are we to wait? No matter when exactly we date the writing of the Revelation (early 65AD or late 95AD) it's been 2,000 years of waiting. That is unless you're one of those who hold to the belief that Jesus has already returned, of which I am not, it has been a long wait!

I suppose this is why we are called to "patient endurance" as followers of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 1:9; Revelation 13:10 and Revelation 14:12) It all comes down to a matter of trust, doesn't it?  It was trust that the Children of Israel were called to in the wilderness as they awaited for daily quota of manna and quail (Exodus 16:31-35). It was faith and trust that the disciples were called to as they saw Jesus taken from them into the clouds (Acts 1:1-11). And the issue has been one of trust and faith ever since.

So, we shall wait, and call out with the church throughout the ages,
"Maranatha! Lord, come quickly!"

Monday, May 09, 2011

Revelation: A Book of Opportunties

SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT STOCK IN STARBUCKS! If you want to know where everybody is on Sunday morning, check out your local Starbucks! I know, you're asking what was I doing at Starbucks on a Sunday morning?  Well, suffice it to say it's one of the perks of being blessed with a sabbatical.

Believe it or not, I actually read through Revelation even in all the hustle and bustle of a Starbucks o

n Mother's Day morn. (No, I didn't read it out loud...see my previous post about that.) I might have a little better understanding about the sounds of 1000's around the throne of God after enduring the multitudinous voices inside my local shop. But, there was something else that grabbed my attention as I have been reading through the entire Book of Revelation each day (Today it was NIV on my Kindle), what grabbed me was how Revelation, being the final book in our Canon of Scripture, and what we would hold to be God's final Word for the Church, is also a book of opportunity.

The "opportunity" comes forth through the call to "repent."

For example five of the seven churches to whom John writes are called to "repent." (Revelation 2:5; Revelation 2:16; Revelation 2:22; Revelation 3:3; Revelation 3:19)  But repentance is also allowed for the groups of people coming under the wrath of God later in the writing.  After a third of mankind is killed (Revelation 9:20) the people refused to repent and continued in their worshiping of idols.  Well, if they refused to repent then there must have been a willingness, on God's part to allow them to do so, if they would so choose. Again, in Revelation 16:9-21 we find three more times where the people refused to repent and suffered the consequences thereof.

Now, some night argue that God already knew they wouldn't so that's why He poured out His wrath upon them, but I am struck by this open door of opportunity that God props open for the people, just one last time.  It's almost like He is saying, "OK, folks I haven't finished pouring out my wrath...there's still time...wont you please repent and come back to me?"  Yes, I believe that is the graciousness of God once again.

There will come a time when the door is shut for good, but for now the door still stands open.  I suppose that is why the Scriptures declare in 2 Corinthians 6:2, "I tell you,  now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." Now is the day of opportunity...shall we make the most of it?
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Friday, May 06, 2011

Here's a Short Sabbatical Note and Challenge


Yesterday I was reading the Book of Revelation for the fourth time (reading all the way through each day in a different version.)

Here's how it starts:
1The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

I was immediately caught by verse three.  Of course I realize that John was writing one letter and that the recipients would most likely be "hearers" not "readers," but I thought, hey maybe there is a blessing in reading it all the way through aloud...so I did.

It brought it life in new ways and it only took less than an hour and twenty minutes! So, here's the challenge: give it a try.  Let me know how it goes for you!

BTW -- to those who gave me recommendations for books to help with my study, thanks!

Now off to reading number five...today's version: King James!
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Thursday, May 05, 2011

A NEW REVELATION!

A NEW REVELATION? WELL NOT ENTIRELY...

This month my church has graciously granted me an opportunity for a month-long sabbatical. I tell you I serve a great God and a great church!  Gotta love those folks! Anyway, during this month I am focusing upon "front-loading" for my next sermon series which will be preaching through the book of Revelation, a book that I have never preached all the way through. Each day I have been reading through the entire book in a different translation...doubt I will find 30 different translations to read through, so some will in no doubt be "reused."

I am also working through a number of commentaries and Revelation related texts (no, I am not going to read The Late Great Planet Earth or any of the Left Behind series...seriously now did you even think I would?)

I can't say I will be blogging everyday, but from time to time I will be sharing some of the things I am learning, and of course, I welcome your "Revelation" thoughts and questions (especially my readers who attend Felton Bible Church.  That way maybe I can get some answers to your questions...maybe.)

In my reading through the Book of Revelation yesterday (New American Standard Bible) this summery of the book grabbed my attention: The Book of Revelation is a book of Worship (The Throne of God, the 24 Elders, the songs of the angels and saints, etc.)  It is a book of Wonder (the scenes of amazing creatures, streets of gold, unspeakable beauty and amazing events.) It is a book of Warning (what takes places when people do not repent, the call for the church to act.) It is a book of Woe (what will take place when the wrath of God is poured out.) It is a book of Work (where the church is called to live out its faith and its calling even in the midst of great tribulation.)

It is truly an amazing portion of God's Word, and should we expect any less?  It is God's Word to the Church, and in that it is to be read and to the point it can be, understood through thorough  study and of course the help of the Holy Spirit.

So, that's where I am thus far, and ready to get back at it...

Some do ask, "So, what is it that a pastor does during a sabbatical?"  "Is it just a fancy word for an extra vacation?"  Well, to be honest there is some "rest" and "change of pace" that takes place, but just so you know what's on my list here are seven "goals" of my sabbatical month.
1. Getting re-connected with God. Taking time to sit and listen to the Spirit and to walk with the Lord Jesus.
2. Getting re-connected with my family.
3. Studying in great prayer-filled depth the Book of Revelation.
4. Read some of those "extra" ministry books that have been piling up on my desk.
5. Getting back into an exercise regimen. Been out running again.
6. A little "mid-rest" through completing some home tasks, especially in light of an upcoming wedding!
7. Rest in body, soul, mind, so I can return to faithfully serve my Lord through His Body at Felton.

So, there ya have it...see ya in the blogosphere...and maybe on the trails!
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