As a Christian it’s easy to fall prey to discouragement. The world we live in is likened to a flood (1 Pet. 4:4) and a dark night (Rom. 13:12). We’re navigating our way against a strong current, with a lamp in the darkness. The social outlook is pretty much pessimistic. The horizon is empty. The moral milieu is on a slippery slope. The post-millennial view of Christ’s return pretty much got dashed by the outbreak of World War II and the counterculture of the 1960s. At this point, a “Golden Age” leading up to Christ’s return seems either very unlikely or a long way off.
However, the Lord’s second coming is promised to us (Acts 1:11) and we are told to await it, expect it, and hasten it as our “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13). The Old and New Testaments both end with a promise of the Lord’s coming.
Malachi 3:1– “I am about to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me; and suddenly the Lord, whom you seek, will come…”
Revelation 22:20– “He who testifies these things says, Yes, I come quickly.”
Suddenly? Quickly? The Lord seems to have a different definition of these words. It was 400 years after Malachi that the Lord came the first time, and it’s been 2,000 years since John and the Lord has still delayed coming the second time.
How do we maintain hope? Watchman Nee once said, “He who sees, endures.” Seeing how God works, knowing His ways and not just His acts (Psa. 103:7), can buttress our hope.
I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done. –Hudson Taylor
Impossibility is never a good benchmark when you’re dealing with God. What seems impossible today, is only two steps away from being done. This should fill us with hope. Also, we should realize where our front is. Where are we placing our resources? As Christians, we are here to do the impossible. We’re not merely saving a few souls and tidying up society until we escape to heaven. We are not battling to reform society “from below”. We are here to turn the age and bring in God’s kingdom to earth. For this, the pivotal battle is the building up of the church, and the practical way to fight is to prophesy (1 Cor. 14:8).
Our prophesying, and seeing others prophesy, brings great encouragement and consolation because it builds up the church and hastens the coming of our blessed hope.
This word crashes onto the shore of human ingenuity like a wall of water. We humans solve everything. We have an intractable ambition to master our environment, overcome what stands in our way, and remake the world in our own image. The Enlightenment taught us to believe in progress, that all problems are solvable. Potential, progress, and pragmatism are the Western, secular trinity. This is faith in humanity. Read the rest of this entry
With all the recent events, there’s been a steady stream of tweets and posts about prayer (#prayforboston, #prayforwest). The Huffington Post had an article on Psalm 46- “Be still and know that I am God.” Stillness at this point seems like an unlikely response. Even if we affect an outward stillness, how can we still our inward being? Besides, the whole nation is in turmoil right now. To adopt a meditative repose and quietly trust in “God’s sovereignty” seems a little feigned, detached, and impersonal. God’s sovereignty shouldn’t be an excuse for inactivity or lukewarmness. In my mind, prayer, in all its intimacy, candor, and uncouthness, does more than stillness because it gets your being in motion toward God. Read the rest of this entry
Suffering makes it clear how essentially stationary is the history of mankind. -Hans Küng
The Boston Marathon bombing is a cruel reminder that despite all progress in our society, we are getting nowhere. School shootings and public bombings are perennial occurrences now. Beyond the grief, there’s a deep rooted, numbing familiarity; a growing accustomed to. The shock of the news is, incredulously, lessened now by the just slightly perceptible recognition of a pattern. That subtle lie may even start to work on us- “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue in this way from the beginning of creation (2 Pet. 3:4).”
“And when they heard of a resurrection of the dead, some scoffed; and others said, We will hear you yet again concerning this.” –Acts 17:32
The resurrection of Jesus poses a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to the natural mind. When Paul was announcing Jesus and the resurrection as the gospel in the philosophical milieu of ancient Athens, the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers dismissed him as a babbler. In Corinth, the Greek mind had infiltrated the church and produced devastating skepticism toward resurrection. Therefore, Paul devoted the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 15 to the matter, showing that resurrection is the life-pulse of God’s economy.
For now we see in a mirror obscurely, but at that time face to face; now I know in part, but at that time I will fully know even as also I was fully known. –1 Corinthians 13:12
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
David J Bosch (obviously) identifies this passage as THE paradigmatic text that embodies the Protestant Reformation. Read the rest of this entry
We’ve all read that Adam is a type of Christ, but some of us may still be wondering how. The differences between the Old and New Testaments should’t be emphasized to the point of conflict. They are the product of the same divine mind and interface at an organic level. This is more than evident in the connection between Adam and Christ. Read the rest of this entry
The Bible often juxtaposes dichotomous characters to convey a message. Cain and Abel, Abraham and Lot, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, David and Saul, the Pharisees and tax collectors, etc. Read the rest of this entry
Despite a few bogus prophetic tremors the eschatological landscape remains intact. 2012 brought no upheavals or continental shifts. The only thing that may be drifting is public confidence in prophecies in general. The “boy who cried wolf” effect kicks in pretty fast after a few false alarms.
But it’s precisely at times like this that I’m reminded of 2 Peter 3:12. Read the rest of this entry
One reason I love blogging on WordPress is the end-of-year review they create for their bloggers. It’s kind of like having a graphic designer file your taxes for you- it’s numerically AND aesthetically pleasing.
Here’s an excerpt:
4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 27,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 6 Film Festivals
Categorizing one thousand years of anything is a daunting task. Especially something as complex as the missional paradigm of the church in Europe during the Middle Ages. However, David J Bosch fearlessly sums up what he calls the “Medieval Roman Catholic Missionary Paradigm” with a single verse.
And the master said to the slave, Go out into the roads and hedges and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.
Bosch has an interesting section in his chapter on “The Missionary Paradigm of the Eastern Church”, where he discusses the relation between the church and mission in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. In understanding missional paradigms, it’s important to understand the “why” behind the “what”. This becomes very important during the medieval paradigm. The Orthodox paradigm may seem rather inert compared to present day enterprises, but I think they deserve credit for stressing the oneness of the church so much in their understanding of mission. Sometimes it’s easy (dizzying really) to look at all the missional endeavors, justifications, and causes today and forget that there is a unified, organic, concrete whole that functions as the container of God’s blessing and the expression of His grace. When that corporate vessel is endangered, maybe it’s time to reevaluate what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. Read the rest of this entry