From the Heart

When you start talking about eschatology (last days, consummation of the ages, etc…), you most definitely need to tread lightly. There are a host of views regarding the topic, and people are more than ready to adamantly defend their particular position. There are Preterists, Amillennialists, Premillennialists, Pre-Tribbers, Post-Tribbers, Pre-Wrathers and I’ve left out at least a dozen more. The thing is none of us can say we know for sure. So I guess in the end (no pun intended), all you can do is honestly try to allow God’s Spirit to sort through all of your assumptions and presuppositions, then speak your heart trusting God to correct your errors and protect others from the same. With that being said, let me say:

 I believe that we have heard the beginnings of the rumblings of the beast, and the time has come that we seek the Lord like never before. The mystery of lawlessness increases, and a delusional spirit is rapidly taking hold of all who reject the love of the truth so as to be saved. We must not be distracted by the smoke and mirrors of the political arena, nor ensnared by the various conspiracy theories that inundate the media. We must stay on our faces before God, come out from among “them,” and be separate unto the Lord. Then we will be given discernment by God’s Spirit as to the times, and He will show us how to pray. American Christians, the stability, peace, and freedom from fear you seek will not be given to you by any political group or ideology, but rather through increased intimacy with Jesus. It is the joy of the Lord that will be your strength though governments fall and tribulation abounds. We are to be people of God’s choosing, a holy nation, a priestly kingdom with loyalty to our Savior King, not citizens of the world in love with the things of the world and the American Dream.

It is through broken lives made whole by Jesus that we are to demonstrate to the world the grace and glory of God. It is the love of God poured out into our hearts by the Spirit of his Son and spilling over onto the people that surround us that will bring salvation and transformation. All of our protests and legislation do nothing to affect change in the hearts of men. It is the grace and mercy of God that come only through Jesus that will change the hearts and minds of people.

“Church” as usual is over. The religious kingdoms built and perpetuated by men have failed and are being exposed as the powerless institutions they truly are. We have made Christianity into a business and exported our idolatry across the globe. The false teachings and heresies that pervade our churches, communities, and nation are a reflection of the Christless gospel of our time. We disguise our desperation to hold onto our religious business with pretty paper and ribbons, but inside the box the same old motivations lie in wait. Society does not need a new relevant gospel, but rather a people who incarnate the good news. Our very lives are to be the tablets upon which the testimony of Jesus has been written. It is that testimony, while united in the content of its message (Jesus), which is as diverse and relevant as those who live it. The denominations and “isms” we love so much have robbed us of the beauty of the image of the Lord we are to reflect and brought us to a place where we have even had to invent other names for ourselves as the body of Christ in order to hide our shame. It is a people abiding in Christ, serving and loving one another that will display the glory of the One who said, “Take up your cross, and follow me.”

Brothers and sisters, I believe we are seeing eschatologically relevant happenings in our world today. I know that among those who read this will be a great variety of opinions as to the second coming, the rapture, and all of that kind of thing. So, if nothing else, take this as an exhortation to draw closer to Jesus. Though we live in uncertain times, when what we thought was solid has been revealed as shifting sand; there is no need to fear. Seek God with all of your heart, laying everything you think you know at his feet, and be willing for him to radically change both you and your theology. “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Of Mice, Men, Peppermint Oil and Malls

I don’t do the “mall thing” very often. I can count on one hand the times I’ve been to a mall in the past couple of years. However, today I found myself having need of some peppermint oil, and I figured the mall would be the surest place to find some. I live out in the country, and from time to time a mouse will find his way into my home. According to my internet research, peppermint oil strategically placed in the house can serve to deter “unwelcome visitors.” So, it was off to the mall.

 Once at the mall, I simply couldn’t resist a trip to the food court. I completely justified my actions with, “Well, I’ve been doing good for nine months, I’m at the mall, what harm can a sandwich and some fries really do at this point? I’ll run it off tomorrow…blah, blah, blah.” Anyhow, as I sat at the table surrounded by hundreds of others, I felt my eyes began to burn and tears welled up. Children were riding the carousel, music and videos blared out of TVs hung high up on the walls, and the whole atmosphere was kind of like a carnival. I thought how strange I must look, sitting there eating, crying, and looking around like some kind of weirdo who just discovered that there was such a thing as malls. But I couldn’t stop.

I decided to walk a bit, and as I did; I passed a man sitting on one of the benches. He reminded me of a figure out of the old west, weathered and square-jawed. There seemed to be an inner strength within him, but what really struck me was the sadness in his eyes. We made eye contact, I gave the cordial head-nod, but he would barely look at me. I wondered what made him so sad, and felt as if I should stop and say something, but I didn’t. As families walked by laughing, and lovers lazily strolled, holding hands, oblivious to everyone else; I considered the sad “cowboy,” and my heart broke within me.

As we occupy ourselves with playing church and going about the business of religion, we have become no better than shopping malls. We do what we can to attract the people into our little “shop.” We do the coolest worship songs, have the hippest preachers, and know all the latest religious catch-phrases. And hey, if you don’t find what you need in here; there’s another shop just around the corner that may have what you’re looking for. Sadly, while we’re trying to be relevant and hold onto our little corner of the “church mall,” people are sitting right outside our doors, broken-hearted, without hope, and in need of Jesus.

Today, thinking of mice and men, peppermint oil and malls, my prayer is that we who call ourselves Christians will be done with our shopping mall mentality, come out of the carnival we call church and take Jesus to the world around us.