Rapture 2011

20 05 2011

I’m not a prophet, but the end of the world is here.

Tomorrow, May 21, 2011, is the day Jesus will come back according to Harold Camping, and the world will be destroyed five months later.  Some have spent crazy amounts of money helping to spread the news so that no one gets left behind.

Most people familiar with the Bible know there is a verse in which Jesus states that no one knows the hour or day when time will end except Father God in heaven.  So it seems more than a little presumptuous that any minister of the Word of God would be bold enough to name a time.  More than a little!

However, think a little longer with me about this.

Walk down a theater ramp, suspend your disbelief, and listen to the movie theme rising as the house lights dim.  About 15 minutes into the show disaster erupts and people are dying all over the place without a hero in sight.  Tension builds as plot lines intersect until the climax, when civilization is rescued (just barely) by an average guy who cares so much about those in harm’s way, he takes on almost super-human strength and qualities.  An emotional domestic scene wraps up the loose ends as lovers, and former enemies, put pettiness behind them for what truly matters.

Now step back into reality with me, trading daylight for the imposed darkness.  A little shift has occurred in my mind and heart; I am not the same as I was before I entered the theater.  How about you?

So, what if tomorrow is our last day together?  How would that change today?  What pettiness would become unimportant, and what priorities would become clear as metaphorical dust settles in slow motion through sunrays?  Statistically, a pretty big group of people will exit life’s theater tomorrow into eternal reality.  I could be in that group.  So could you.

Dates and equations, histrionics and drama aside, maybe Rev. Camping isn’t as crazy as everyone is saying he is.  And maybe I am a prophet.


Free Disruption

4 11 2010

The tickets were free.  We sat with the main act (and about 100 others) having a conversation before the show.  Nothing is free anymore.  But this hour was – and with no strings attached!  No signing up for email onslaughts or a Facebook group.  These three guys extended themselves and shared their hearts with us.  Their gesture, more than their words, spoke into my soul.

They talked about music, about God, and how we, as worship leaders, take people on a journey that is sacred by disrupting churchi-ness and shaking up pre-conceived stereotypes of who God is.  What they said resonated throughout the room like a rich chord on an old Gibson guitar.  New methods and ideas criss-crossed the audience and bounced from person to person as others shared.  And yet, it still came down to this: the only way to lead someone in worshiping the God of All is to first personally seek Him.  With all that I am, I pursue the Great I Am.  Anything less doesn’t make sense.

As the three guys wrapped up our conversation, my mind wandered to the melee I was about to enter downstairs.  The thumping bass told me that the opening band had already started for the hundreds of fans filling the seats.  I reasoned that spending an hour hearing from three fellow travelers was worth the sacrifice of sitting in a back corner during the concert.  But then, out of nowhere as we stood to leave holding our general admission tickets, an usher in the back announced that if we showed our free passes from the discussion at the door downstairs, the staff would lead us to reserved seating for the concert!

What??  My free pre-show pass entitled me to reserved seating?  (Insert Aflac duck staggering and shaking its head!)

I could make a dozen or more applications with eloquent metaphors, but they would cover grace with kitsch.  Instead, I continue to shake my head in wonder remembering that walk through the rows of seats up to the front.  What an unforgettable way to begin a night of worship!

Jeremy Camp leading us - not too bad for a photo from a phone!

Conversations, a ministry of Integrity Music led by Jeremy Camp, Carlos Whittaker, and John Mark McMillan

War & Near

25 12 2009

Seeing pastoral nativity scenes every December fills me with a warm Christmas glow and almost lulls me into a sentimental stupor in which I conveniently forget what really happened the night Jesus was born.  What took place in the spiritual realm when God was born as a human baby reads more like the plot of a sci-fi fantasy-thriller than a nostalgic Christmas card:  A red dragon pursued a woman giving birth while his dragon-army fought Michael’s angels in heaven.  The dragon, not able to overpower Good, was hurled to the earth where he chased the woman and her Child.  Then, frustrated that the pair escaped, he turned on the rest of her offspring—“those who hold to the teachings of Jesus”.   His demise, foretold long ago, was accomplished by the Baby who crushed his head, but not before the serpent struck the baby’s heel.

So much for syrupy “Baby Jesus, meek and mild” Christmas stories—this is war!!

Easter is the ultimate triumph, but not the incredibly amazing part of the story.  At least, not to me.  If Jesus really is God, what is so surprising about Him rising from the dead??  I would expect God to be able to do that.  The part that devastates me is that He would set aside all his glory, privilege, and power to become a helpless, finite human baby; that He, the Creator of the world, would so completely reduce Himself to pursue me.

As He entered the world, the time-space continuum and all other realities couldn’t help it; they erupted in strange behaviors.  A supernaturally bright light burned in the sky; prophecies converged in fulfillments; heaven was ripped open; angels spoke to shepherds; and then all was quiet.  But everything was different.

The curse was broken; the dragon defeated.  Hope became tangible.  Our slavery-yoke of sin… shattered.  Light put out darkness.  God was approachable.  And people were drawn to Him.

He came to us so that we could come to Him.  And although He ascended to the Father, He still promises to draw near to us if we draw near to Him.  The book of Job contains a concept of what that looks like: Leviathan, the great creature of the deep, is covered with scales so near one another that no water or air can come between them.  They are so close that the two most pervasive materials on earth cannot sneak in.

The red dragon is still at war with us, but his Vanquisher is our Champion:  Immanuel.

The snowflake kaleidoscope is made from a paper cutting of a dragon crafted in Hong Kong. It represents both the red dragon and the scales of Leviathan—a reminder that with Jesus’ birth, the dragon is defeated, and that we can be so near to Him nothing can come between us. Luke 2:8-18; Matthew 2:9-11; Revelation 12; Genesis 3:15; James 4:8; Job 41:15-17; Isaiah 9:1-4

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