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.
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
On the Move
Jesus conducted His earthly ministry in two ways. The bulk of His time was spent traveling around Galilee and Judea with a band of disciples, interacting with anyone He happened to meet. His daily schedule, as described in Mark chapter 1, involved proclaiming the gospel, teaching the truth, casting out demons, and healing the sick.
This portion of Jesus’ ministry was spontaneous, continual, pastoral, interactive, and egalitarian.
The Bible can be compared to an archaeological dig site.
All the truths are in the Bible; there is not one truth that is not in the Bible. Although they are all in the Bible, through man’s foolishness, unfaithfulness, negligence, and disobedience many of the truths were lost and hidden from man. The truths were there, but man did not see them or touch them. Not until the fullness of time did God release certain truths during particular periods of time and cause them to be revealed once more. These freshly revealed truths are not God’s new inventions. Rather, they are man’s new discoveries.
The events of December 18, 2010 set off the Arab Spring nearly on the eve of the new year. The distrust, disgust, and dissatisfaction with the current economic, political, and social conditions quickly spread throughout much of the Middle East and North Africa.
Tunisia and Egypt both ousted their long-standing presidents and overthrew the governments (Ben Ali for 24 years and Mubarak for 30 years). Libya erupted in civil war resulting in the fall of its long-standing regime under Gaddafi for 42 years.
Of course Uncle Sam has been reeling with his own financial problems and political dissidence. People are unemployed, foreclosed upon, living with little or no health insurance, and in major debt. They are the 99%.
Of all the books of the Bible, none other tops the Hot 100 chart more consistently than Psalms.
The Psalms are inspiring, poignant, prophetic, and personal. They span history, prophecy, and theology in one swoop. They reveal both the height of divine majesty and the depth of human depravity. They’re used for prayer, praise, meditation, and devotion.
But what are they all about?
Lying quiet in the shadow of the Hellenistic flourish a few centuries before Christ, when Rome appropriated the architecture of the Greek and Etruscan colonies, it was selective in its borrowings and adapted geometry to a new use: the active experience of space through the novelty of the arch.Then there was the dome, and all of the sudden Imperial Rome was heralding its grandeur through large scale, massive, state funded architecture.
Architecturally, the Renaissance was a looking back upon and a scrutinizing of Classical antiquity, with the realization that they had gotten something right.
This is a picture of the earliest discovered (231 AD) Christian home that was used for a meeting place. It was discovered in Syria and is called the Dura-Europos house church. The meeting area is on the left and the baptistery is on the right, toward the back.
I found this interesting quote from Spiro Kostof’s A History of Architecture:
“Indicative of a repressed and plebeian movement, the places of worship were exceedingly modest. Centers for the community were set up in remodeled, outwardly inconspicuous houses… To the first generations of believers the church was where the Christians were. The word ecclesia, “church,” signified the community of Christ that had no need for prescribed buildings to proclaim its faith and reaffirm its bonds. The people were the architecture. In the century or so before Constantine the random gathering places of this primitive Christianity slowly began to be formalized, and with the sudden breakthrough of the imperial conversion, the necessity of a monumental built order to project prestige and authority came to be recognized.”