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Posts Tagged ‘end of time’

What will you eat today? What will I consume? I know I am too quick to “eat” gossip, those juicy tidbits doled out by well meaning colleagues and friends. But no matter how sweet the information seems at first, it’s ultimate value is bitter to the soul.

Revelation 10:10
I [John] took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour.

I have said before that I struggle with judging others but I”m beginning to see that the gossip thing is seriously vying for first place. As a gregarious person, I am always talking with people and the tendency to gobble up unbidden news is always there.

Today, then, just today, I must be aware of this tendency and flee. “Tell me later,” I can say or “Just a minute, I think I hear my cell phone,” or “Hold that thought” and run to the ladies room. Truly, I must flee.

And what about the gossip I long to tell. Lord, help me count to ten before I say another word.

Focus. Focus.

I know this verse from Revelation is not about gossip, but it reminded me of the phenomenon all the same. In reality, the little scroll that John consumed, held an unspoken prophecy, a piece of news that could not be shared with the world. Will we ever know?

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Painting by N.S.G.

It takes a lot of courage, actually, to continue to hope in something or someone, both unseen and yet promised for a time in a future we cannot know. There must be persistence too, but often, it takes plain courage and a type of audacity to believe despite it all.

Hebrews 3:6
But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.
[NIV 1984]

For some people, this tenacity has to have something more substantial to sustain it and so they latch on to a concrete idea still in the future to uphold their courage. Like a date. Apparently, there is a groundswell of believers who are putting their hope and their courage into May 21, 2011 as “judgment day” and the end of the world. These folks are the antithesis of Rob Bell’s stance in Love Wins. Where Bell’s hell is already manifesting here on earth and our battle is in the now for the power of the Kingdom to take hold; these folks are predicting the great rapture for the enlightened and a fiery hell for everyone else; the only winners in their minds are “people like them.”

Of course, this isn’t just in the Christian world; there’s still 2012 to face as well. With the “end” of the Mayan calendar, some people believe and predict, the end of the world as we know it is next year.

To what or in what do these eschatological folks hope? Mostly, it’s “hope nothin’ bad happens to me” and “just in case,” let’s look into some “fire” insurance . . . or assurance, and join this or that bandwagon.

Here’s the rub: hope implies a good end. And it takes courage to hold onto this kind of hope because our world is full of dark things, dark people, dark rulers and “principalities.” [For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12]

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. . . . ” Matthew 10:28a

Courage cannot be built on a 3D world; there are no guarantees here. Courage and hope can only be built on our faith in the truth of a Christ whose Holy Spirit defies logic and protects the Human Spirit from eternal death and separation from the Creator. Nothing more.

To become a believer in the Christ is a statement of hope. For the words of Christ promise that all will turn out for the best. Courage is the ability to face a different world that mocks hope, questions the supernatural, and defies paradox with proofs and logic. To stand. That’s the key. Whether it’s May 21st or 2012, whether it’s sickness or sorrow or disappointment that have been meted out in large doses, we are called to stand on the solid rock of faith.

And if I fall off that rock because my faith was too small or my fears too great? There is still grace.

“But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.” [Acts 27:22]

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Us. Not just Paul and not just Timothy, us. And just like those two followers of old, we can’t earn a place in the “holy club” either. If God has a purpose and a willingness, then there is also enough grace, because of the work of the Christ, we’re in. And all of this happens “outside of time.”


II Timothy 1:9
He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, . . .

I know this verse doesn’t really say “outside” of time, but Paul does write “before the beginning of time,” and I ask, what’s the difference? Because if something is before time, then it’s beyond the control and increments of time. It could be happening “now.” Call is not part of time. That’s amazing!

And if call is not part of time, then service to the Christ is also unhampered by the march of the years of my life. I can be used by God when I am 15 or 90. I can manifest the holy life for a minute, a day, or a lifetime. Those moments are not about me and more than likely, no one will necessarily point at my life’s work or example and say, “oh look, a holy life.” My holy life is in the hands of God’s purpose and grace.

I have skipped the previous verse that articulates the importance of suffering as a portion of the call. This aspect is always a challenge to me. Is suffering a testimony to holiness? I know there are some I can attest it’s true, friends who have walked the suffering pain of cancer and many to their death. Their courage and their abiding love for God during their illnesses humble me still today.

Is that time still to come? I don’t know. Will I choose with courage? If I can just hold on to one truth: suffering in time is finite while the holy life is eternal.

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When is the end? I always wonder if I’ll know the end. I mean, maybe the end has already come and I’m just treading water. Has “death” been destroyed by the Christ? I mean, He got to pop back up from the tomb, but what about the rest of us?

I Corinthians 15:24-26
Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

I have pretty much assumed that “believers” die, resurrect immediately after death, get to be with Jesus in heaven, and have a big meet-up with our family members who took an early exit. But, reading this portion of Corinthians, I’m having to rethink these assumptions.

Of course, I’m not speaking of any academic evaluation of this verse or comparing it with others in the Bible. I’m not an eschatologist. I’m just thinking about the words and looking for an application for me today.

I do believe Christ has full control over the kingdom (in the whenever). And this kingdom exists now but is not “handed over” until the sifting has been completed: the destruction of the other powers/enemies. Death is the final enemy.

So, is death destroyed now? Are people who are dead, not dead? But if not dead, then are they only in heaven not dead? Jesus made a re-appearance in our 3-D world. What about the rest of them… or us?

I still don’t think I get it. The deal with humans and death and Christ, that is. Jesus promises that we “can” be like him [Romans 8:29] and manifest even more works/miracles than He did [John 14:12]. So, what’s up with that?

I’m guessing we’re still in Seth Godin’s “Dip”. People are having trouble “sticking” with it. We have grown discouraged like the servants who were told to take care of the vineyard while the master was away [Luke 20:9-20]. We don’t really believe that death can be conquered in our “time.” We don’t really believe we, humans, can do those miracles. For those who get excited about this possibility and start seeking out that capability, they may begin to look like charlatans and snake-handlers. If people look for the miracle working power without the foundational stuff in place, it gets distorted. Pure and simple.

What’s foundational? The Sermon on the Mount stuff: all the PARADOX stuff like humility, mercy, cheek-turning, selflessness, poverty, purity, peacemaking, and gentleness.

OK, it’s not the end because God is giving us a chance to work this out. To practice a little more. I know I need practice.

This is when I wish I had those “matrix” eyes so I could see what is really “real.” That’s where the kingdom is – it’s here around me. I just can’t see it because I am blinded by my attachment to life as I have known it, not life as the Christ wants me to live it.

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