Posts filed under ‘Christianity’
There are 8 previous entries in this series on Matthew 24. Since it has been a while since I wrote anything on this subject some of you may want to go back and read a few of the previous posts. This post will focus on the second of three questions the disciples asked Jesus about the future. If you want a little taste of this series before reading today’s post you could start with 24.2. Find it HERE.
Question #2 What will be the sign of your coming? (24:3)
My background as a dispensationalist was not only good for me, because of their deep love for the Scriptures, it also taught me important principles about how to study the Bible and how to evaluate teaching as to its validity or credibility. An unfortunate thing about that training is that it also taught me to read my bias into what I was studying, especially in the area of eschatology. (the study of how the world will end)
A futurist reads this question and immediately decides it is about the second coming of our Savior. They are convinced, through some, in my opinion, incredible leaps of interpretive gymnastics, that the signs Jesus speaks of in Matthew 23-24 are yet to occur and so believe that the return of Jesus is waiting the culmination of these signs.
I have already explained (to my satisfaction) how all of these signs, like wars, earthquakes, famines and the rest were signs that came prior to the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. Those signs have been fulfilled. While there may still be wars, earthquakes, famine and all the other disasters mentioned in 24 around today, they are not the “signs” Jesus was talking about. Those are behind us.
When the disciples were listening to Jesus, they were not thinking about the Second Coming of Jesus, in fact at that point they were not even thinking about Jesus death, let alone a second visit to planet earth, some day. So that alone is enough to say they were not asking about the “Second Coming”. (the kind of Second Coming understanding the futurists teach and has been made popular by the Left Behind book series)
When they ask “what will be the sign of Your coming?” what did they mean by this word “coming”? The Jews historic fixation on the coming of the Messiah colored everything in their lives. All of their hopes, dreams, desires, understanding of who they were and what their destiny was, was focused on the Messiah coming and setting up a Kingdom where they would be in control and the Romans would be out of their collective lives. (see for example Matthew 20:20-23)
So their question was directedat finding out when Jesus would come into His Kingdom and take a position of authority and reveal Himself as King.
A Kingdom view of these verses and all the other references to Kingdom, authority, rule, reign, etc are fulfilled in the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus to His place on the throne at the right hand of God, the Father. All authority was given to Him both in the heavenlies (spirit world) and on earth. Jesus came into His rightful and authoritative Kingdom at the moment He entered the heavenlies and sat down next to the Father. That took place 2000 years ago in the generation that was alive when these insightful questions were asked.
What else could it mean when Jesus says these words recorded in Matthew 16:28 and Mark 9:1? “There are some of you standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”
It seems brilliantly clear to me that some of the people who were sitting right in front of Him, as He spoke on the Mount of Olives, would live to see Him come into His Kingdom. Jesus took His place on the throne 2000 years ago.
And now, as Kingdom people, given “all power and authority” by Jesus, before He went and sat down on His throne, we are, filled with the Spirit, with supernatural wisdom and revelation, in the process of taking back what was lost in the garden, renewing and redeeming this planet through the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom, anticipating the glorious return of our King and Bridegroom Jesus, to a spotless, pure and “made ready” Bride. (Ephesians 5)
Jesus came into His Kingdom 2000 years ago. We are not still waiting signs to tell us He will come into It real soon. He is on the throne right now and we His Kingdom people are establishing His Kingdom by His power and authority.
These posts are a work in progress. I am getting my thoughts in order as I write them here. I want to be real clear that Jesus has already “come into His Kingdom.” He is on His throne. We are not waiting for “signs” to be fulfilled so He can finally have all power and authority. He gave that to us in what we now call the Great Commission (Matthew 28) We await His return, but we do not wait for signs. We await His coming to rule and reign on a planet redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony. (Read Revelation 12:11 with this post in mind)
With all of that in mind we will better understand the answer Jesus gives to Question #2 “What will be the sign of Your coming”. More on His answer in the next post.
As we move through Matthew 24 we are looking at the prophesies that Jesus makes to see if they were fulfilled during the 40 years or so that immediately following the time He spoke these words. There are several different prophesies in 24 and I wrote about a number of them in the last post. Even though I will not take the time to do it, it can be shown that all the prophesis of 24 were fulfilled during the time period Jesus said they would and there is no need to be looking at the “signs” of these current times to determine when Jesus will return.
Here are two of the remaining ones that get peoples attention.
A great tribulation: For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occured since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. (24:21-22)
Futurist teachers say this time of great tribulation (greater horror than anything the world has ever seen-NLT) will come at a time, yet in the future, just before the end of the world. Christians, especially western Christians, have talked so much about this horrible time it has taken on a life of its own own- known as- The Great Tribulation.
If you know anything at all about the time when Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed, you know it was the most horrific of times, perhaps not in magnitude (6 million Jews slaughtered by Hitler, the killing of millions in Africa in the 20th and 21st centuries are both larger in number) but certainly no period of time rivals the anguish and suffering of the days that occurred during the Roman siege of Jerusalem and the total destruction of the Temple.
Josephus, (the dude has his own website [HERE] and he is nearly 2000 years old!) perhaps the best historian of that period, tells how the Jews committed unthinkable atrocities to each other, including cannibalism, during the famine I wrote about in the last 24 post. He tells a story of a woman murdering her little boy, cooking and eating him and then arguing with thieves who broke into her house looking for food, as to who would eat the other half.
During the famine Jews swallowed diamonds and other precious stones in hopes of escaping and carrying them to a safe location. The Romans knew about this ploy and captured these men and women and cut open their stomachs and intestines searching for whatever they could find. They ripped open dozens of empty stomachs to find one with a diamond.
Titus put a stop to that kind of torture but the Romans found other ways to massacre Jews. Jewish men, desperate to find food for themselves and their families, would try to escape the city only to be caught by the Romans who would cut off their hands and send them back into the city. Josephus writes that 500 men were whipped, tortured and crucified, everyday. There were so many crosses at the gate of the city they ran out of room. This slaughter continued until there were less than 100,000 Jewish people left in the city and these were led off to captivity in Egypt or given by the Romans as gifts to the leaders of nearby provinces to be used for sport in their coliseums.
When Jerusalem was destroyed it set off the killing of Jews in other regions and countries surrounding Jerusalem. Even places where the hatred of Rome was nearly as great as it was in Israel joined in the frenzied genocide of the Jewish people. You can easily find periods in history where more people have been killed, but the violence during the AD 70 tribulation of the Jewish nation was extreme in its horror.
One of the problems I have long had with The Great Tribulation is attempting to vision how things could be worse then they were during this historical period. We have seen and will continue to see horrible treatment of human beings by other human beings, even treatment as terrible as it was during these days but we will never see a time where the torture will be worse. To suggest there is a tribulation of greater horror than these days, prophesied by Jesus yet to come, is to miss the point.
I was going to write about the anti-Christs too but will add that in later. Can’t stomach any more today.
My point with all of this will be made clear in the days ahead but I need to say this: A Kingdom view of the end of days focuses not on how bad it is or how bad it might get but instead focuses on making ready a victorious Bride for the coming of the Bridegroom and the establishing of an unshakable Kingdom, one rescued life at a time.
The American church especially, has spent so much of it’s time and resources warning people about the perceived horror of The Great Tribulation and visualizing some AntiChrist in every leader they don’t agree with, including the current president of the USA, while ignoring the strategic mission of the Church.
Our mandate is to change the culture by being salt and light, bringing real hope, real healing (especially physical and emotional), real deliverance (there is a war out there) and real freedom by loving people, especially those who “persecute us and say all kinds of ugly stuff about us, which is untrue” (Matthew 5:11)
It doesn’t matter, in fact won’t matter, what any world leader or culture does if the Body of Christ will actually be the Body of Christ. We must stop looking for the return of Jesus and start being Jesus. I am pretty sure the point of His leaving, was so there would be billions of Jesus’ to do the job rather than One.
His Kingdom will come and His will will be done on earth in the same way as it is in heaven, not when Jesus returns or we are jerked out of here but when each one of us, operating by the Spirit in the ”spiritual places” wages war and takes back the territory lost in the garden proclaiming Jesus is Lord to the glory of God, one day at a time, one person at a time, one situation at a time, one location at a time.
Trying to re-fulfill prophesy is a monumental distraction we do not need to waste our time on.
I decided a few weeks back that I was going to take the time to study and write about Matthew 24 from a Kingdom perspective in order to cement in my own mind just why I have never been very willing to accept the futurist view of the end times. I call a futurist one who takes the predictions of Matthew 24 and makes them predictions of a time yet in our future but one they are pretty sure is going to happen real soon. (you might want to scroll down and get some background before you read the rest of this post)
24:4-28 contains, in addition to the destruction of the temple which we wrote about in 24.4, at least 10 more predictions of events to come during the generation who were listening to Jesus speak, or about 40 years. I will not refer to all 10 but will touch on a few, including the prediction of a “great tribulation” and an anti-Christ.
vv.4-5 See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, I am the Christ, and will mislead many.
The futurist reads these words of Jesus spoken to His intimate friends and immediately makes the leap over 2000 years and predicts they will happen shortly before the end of the world. So every person that makes a claim to be the Messiah, both crack pot and zealot causes them to say: “see the end is near”.
If Jesus was predicting false claims of messiahship for the generation of His listeners, did He get it right? Were there impostors attempting to infiltrate the church in the first century? The answer of course is yes. When Jesus died there were many who came out of the dark to clam the hearts of the Jewish people, who had a certain kind of messiah in mind. They were desperate for someone to come and free them from Roman domination. Their hope and much of their religious system was based on a coming Messiah. When Jesus died many followers fell away and began to look for someone else and of course, the false messiahs flourished. There is no question that extra biblical history supports this fact. (Eusebius, The Venerable Bede and others)
vv.6-7 You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars… For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
When you read these verses don’t you quickly think “that has to be today”? There is a new war or the rumor of a new war nearly everyday, these days. But interestingly, that was not the way it was in 1st century Palestine. There were no signs of war or rumors about war at the time Jesus made this prophesy. The power of Rome provided a stable and strong environment, even though they made it happen through force. That period in history is even known as Pax Romana or Roman Peace because no one was even daring to take a run at the Romans. This is the environment into which Jesus prophesied of coming wars and rumors of wars.
Did the climate around Israel change within the 40 year period after Jesus made this prophesy? Was Pax Romana interrupted? In fact wars started erupting all over the Roman Empire and the Jews were forced to live in constant terror. 50,000 Jews were killed in Seleucia and another 20,000 in Caesaria. in AD 66 50,000 Jews were killed in the city of Alexandria. Within the span of 18 months, four Roman emperors were violently killed causing civil war to break out all over the empire including in the city of Rome. It was a time of almost constant rebellion and turmoil in the usually quiet Roman Empire and there was an almost constant flow of rumors of additional outbreaks washing over the Jewish people.
One more for today. v.7 …in various places there will be famines.
In Acts 11 there is a bold prophesy of severe famine in the region of Judah and in two places in the New Testament we read where Christians took offerings for the believers who were suffering in Judah. (Acts 11:29; 1Corinthians 16:1-3) Obviously this Acts 11 prophesy came true and at the same time Jesus prophetic word as fulfilled.
Knowing of the coming famine and the horrible destruction of Jerusalem on the cross, Jesus said to the women of Israel: Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, “Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed” (Luke 23:28-29) Historical writer Eusebius wrote: Under Claudius the world was visited with a famine, which writers that are entire strangers to our religion have written in their histories.
Every prophesy of Jesus contained in Matthew 24 can be shown to have happened in the 40 years immediately after He made them. The prophesy about earthquakes 24:7 happened all over the Roman Empire. I found mention of 11 cities where history records seismic activity, including the moment Jesus died on the cross and again when He rose from the dead. (Matthew 27, 28)
The evidence is clear. The prophesies of Matthew 24 have been fulfilled. I will do the tribulation and anti-Christ ones later.
Before I jump into Matthew 24 here is this morning’s Henri Nouwen devo. It has Kingdom all over it:
The opposite of a scarcity mentality is an abundancy mentality. With an abundancy mentality we say: “There is enough for everyone, more than enough: food, knowledge, love … everything.” With this mind-set we give away whatever we have, to whomever we meet. When we see hungry people we give them food. When we meet ignorant people we share our knowledge; when we encounter people in need of love, we offer them friendship and affection and hospitality and introduce them to our family and friends.
When we live with this mind-set, we will see the miracle that what we give away multiplies: food, knowledge, love … everything. There will even be many leftovers.
Now on to 24!
Question #1. When will these things happen?
The disciples ask Jesus three questions in Matthew 24: …Tell us, when will these things happen and what will be the sign of your coming, and (what will be the sign) of the end of the age?
Some translations, maybe even yours (for example the KJV) ends this sentence with the word “world” and in doing so makes the 3 questions into an inquiry about the second coming of Jesus and the end of the world. What happens when the word is translated world is it moves the focus of these questions on to a summary of what the world will be like just before it comes to an end, rather than a “simple” asking of questions related to what Jesus has just spoken about.
But the Greek word aion can also be translated, and in my opinion should be translated, “age“. By translating aion as age, or a period of time, and not world, we are not tempted to move the fulfilment of this text from its first century setting into the 21st century. The ending of an age and the ending of the world are two very different things.
The Kingdom view attempts to read nothing into the text, to not see a summary, but 3 distinct questions about how the current age, the age the disciples were living in when the questions were asked, would end. 1. When will these things happen? 2. What will be the sign of your coming? 3. What about the end of the age?
When we make a decision, to let the text say what it says without adding or summarizing, it frees us to understand the answers Jesus gives to these questions in a very different way than the futurist sees them.
So, first question; When will these things happen? What are “these things”? If you have been taught, like I have the futurist view, we immediately think that “these things” refers to events that will happen right before the second coming of Jesus. But what does the context of Matthew 24 tell us? Many of you have been reading it and allowing the Holy Spirit to teach you, so before you read my answer to the question, ask yourself, what is the context here? What is the conversation about? What is Jesus talking to His disciples about? Take a minute and read the chapter. Start back in chapter 23 and let it lead you into 24.
Jesus is speaking in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. The first thing He does is warn the crowd and the disciples to be very careful about the Jewish Temple leadership. You can see this in vv.2-12. Next Jesus turns to His disciples and, with no mincing of words, rips the religious leaders. The flavor of His comments are clear: v.13 … woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. v.14…Woe to you… v.15…Woe to you… v.16 Woe to you blind guides. Jesus is ripping into the Jewish Temple religious leadership (and cultural leaders) with an intensity that can’t be missed. He repeats these same words in vv.23-29.
With even greater intensity, Jesus winds up His beat down in vv.33-36 with a scathing rebuke of these phony and controlling leaders: You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will beat in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the alter. Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation. (33-36)
Jesus is passing judgment on a generation of religious leaders who have spilled the blood of “every righteous person, from A-Z, Abel to Zechariah” (in the Hebrew Bible Abel is book 0ne and Zechariah is the last book) Jesus is telling these religious leaders that the blood of every righteous person in their Holy Book, from start to finish is on them.
Typically in the Scriptures a generation was considered to be 40 years. So if we assume that the judgement Jesus is passing is going to come true in a literal sense (why would we not take it literally) then those who heard Jesus speak these words could expect judgment to fall on them. (Jesus began this rebuke and judgment back in Matthew 23 and some of the specifics of the judgement are included there (vv.37-38).
A literal reading of these verses makes it really hard to see this judgment happening at any other time than during the generation (40 years or so) immediately following the speaking of the words.
Question 1. When will these things happen? What things? Answer: These things= vv.33-36 23:37-38) When? Answer: Over the next 40 years or so, from the time they were spoken.
I find it hard to make this text say anything at all about the time we are living in today. How about you?
Almost all prophesy writing of a futurist nature (Left Behind series, Scofield Study Bible, Dispensational theology, popular prophetic writing, etc) moves Jesus’ answers from the 40 years immediately following His speaking to the time we are currently living in. That is really poor hermenuetics (logical guidelines for interpreting historical writings) and there is no reason for it. Let the text and the historical evidence speak for “themselves”!
Next post. Did the words of Jesus in Matthew 24, come true during the next 40 years or so, or are we still waiting for them to happen?
Several weeks ago I wrote in this post (HERE) these words:
If we believe what is going on is just a precursor to the End, how does that affect the way we think? If we are just going to duck and cover during these so called “last days” of grave uncertainty and shaking, will we miss the opportunity of a lifetime to actually bring Kingdom values to bear on the crisis? (BTW, we have no idea if these are the last days, and have no way of knowing, so Jesus said in Matthew 24:36. There is a lot in Matthew 24 we need to understand from a Kingdom perspective, rather than just (dispensational) an end times approach. Anyone want to work on that?)
No one jumped at the opportunity to write anything about Matthew 24 from a Kingdom perspective, didn’t expect anyone would, so I decided I was going to. So here comes a new series called 24 (A Kingdom view of the end times.)
No doubt this will take a while as I am going to write as I learn. I will warn you up front that what I write is a departure from my upbringing, my training and the church culture I was raised in. It will be a departure from what has become the popular American church view of the end times. It will be a departure from the pessimistic view of the end times made possible and popular with the 1909 publication of the Scofield Reference Bible. This reference Bible proposed in its footnotes very negative scenarios of the future that were largely taken from the work of John Nelson Darby, the father of a theological perspective called dispensationalism. Since the time of Dr. Scofield hundreds if not thousands of scary end-time books have come on the scene, none more popular than the Left Behind series, written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Such books and related teachings have become so popular and accepted in the American church that a negative eschatology (study of last things) has become the most popular view in the western church.
It should be noted that this view of the future has been popular in the Christian culture for a very short period of time, less than 100 years. It probably peaked in “popularity” when we moved from the 20th century to the 21st, a few years back. Some of you will no doubt remember all the hustle and bustle surrounding Y2K and the “end of the world as we know it” ideas that were all over the place.
This series will be a departure from a pessimistic view of eschatology and will attempt to paint an optimistic view of the future from a Kingdom perspective. A Kingdom view is optimistic about the future because it understands King Jesus and His Family (the church) will take over this world, not Satan.
I fully recognize that the days in which I am writing these words are not very welcoming to an optimistic or victorious view of the future. Pessimistic end time scenarios are abundant and it does appear the door is wide open to an eschatology that sees nothing but a down hill slide until finally the Father has had enough and beams the church out of the mess, burns up the planet, defeats the anti-christ and calls an end to this hopeless and defiled planet.
Many Christians (some are my friends/family) actually are excited about the brokenness of our world and see every new crisis as one more rung on the ladder that gets us out of here. One person told me not long ago that these days of economic collapse didn’t worry him because they just mean we are closer to being raptured then ever before. In other words all the bad stuff going on all over the world (war, earthquake, famine, disasters of all kinds, swine flu pandemics, economic collapse and so on) are actually good things because they are signs that the end is near. I don’t blame anyone for seeing things this way, it is hard not to.
As difficult as it is, in these days, to argue for any kind of optimistic view of our world and the future, I am going to try and present a view of the future, rooted deeply in the Biblical text, that presents not only an optimistic view of last things but a victorious one as well. Jesus wins and He wins, not by giving up on the planet He died for, but by continuing to work the plan, until every knee bows and every tongue confesses.
I am certain what I write will create disagreement, probably in some cases vicious disagreement and I am probably not inclined to participate in arguments that are raised by what I write. Ask questions, question my view, whatever, but don’t waste a lot of time presenting the dispensational view, I think I have that one down. I might be all wrong, but its a blog not a textbook.
What I hope to do is present your Savior as the King He is. A victorious King with a victorious Bride. Not sitting around fearfully waiting for the end to get here but a King and His Bride that are quietly, steadily, faithfully, supernaturally, confidently, hopefully, extending His Kingdom into all corners of this planet, in order to present our King with a redeemed and renewed planet over which to rule.
Drop by and read a little, let me know what you think.
Celebrating the Resurrection in Payson, Arizona
I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me–that Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and He was raised from the dead on the third day, also as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and by the twelve apostles. After that, He was seen by more than 500 of His followers, at one time, most of whom (when this was written) were still alive, though obviously they are all dead now. Then He was seen by James and then later He was seen again by all the apostles. Last of all, I saw Him too…
Paul the Apostle (1Corinthians 15:3-8)
The Apostle’s point? No way this deal was faked!
What difference does the Resurrection make? Why do we celebrate the Resurrection? It is the one event in all of history that secures our eternal present and assures our eternal future while at the same time securing the eternal present and future of the unshakable Kingdom.
Then when He has conquered all things, the Son will present Himself to God, so that God, Who gave His Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything, everywhere.
Paul (1Corinthians 15:28
The Resurrection is our assurance that there is no stopping the advancement of the Kingdom nor the day when every knee will bow…
So what do we have to worry about?
Have a blessed celebration of this monumental Resurrection Day!
When we first went out to Sayre, Oklahoma it was because, honestly, we had no where else to go. Since our Father is sovereign, we knew that being led to Sayre, in a way that could only be God, Sayre would be the one place where restoration would take place.
Trinity Fellowship is not like any church or Family I have ever known. It isn’t perfect and I don’t always think the same way the leadership does about some things, but I have learned so much about the Father, the Holy Spirit and myself out there and have friends I trust and who trust me. The Trinity leadership has taken seriously the responsibility of Galatians 6:1, something the church I served for nearly 17 years would not do. For that I am very thankful and frankly a much better man, follower and servant of Jesus.
Pastor Andy hears from God and when he does he is able to put what he hears in terms most of us can understand. Early on in the genesis of Trinity Fellowship the Father told him to build the church with “people noboby else wants”. That Word has become the story of Trinity, taking people nobody (no other church wants to spend the time and money on) else wants and turning them into the people everybody wants (faithful, servant minded, humble people). I have never seen another church, and I’ve been around, that takes its responsibility for the poor (both economically and in spirit) so seriously, at great cost both in time and money, and I believe the blessing of God is on this Family because it takes this role so seriously.
So when I read yesterday’s Henri Nouwen devotional it made me think of Trinity and why, even with it’s flaws and weaknesses, it works as well as it does building Kingdom on the windy plains of Western Oklahoma.
Nouwen wrote: There are many forms of poverty: economic poverty, physical poverty, emotional poverty, mental poverty, and spiritual poverty. As long as we relate primarily to each other’s wealth, health, stability, intelligence, and soul strength, we cannot develop true community. Community is not a talent show in which we dazzle the world with our combined gifts. Community is the place where our poverty is acknowledged and accepted, not as something we have to learn to cope with as best as we can but as a true source of new life.
The Trinity Family gave me the opportunity to acknowledge my poverty, accepted me for who I was, broken in spirit and orphaned by the church. They told me I was OK and valuable, actually more valuable broken than I was “whole”. They restored my soul and allowed healing to come, simply by providing a place for another one of those people nobody else wants, to feel at home.
Nouwen concludes: Living community in whatever form – family, parish, twelve-step program, or intentional community – challenges us to come together at the place of our poverty, believing that there we can reveal our richness.
We arrived up here in the mountain city of Payson, Arizona Sunday morning and after a little manipulating, well actually quite a bit, I got us backed into a very beautiful spot at the hill top home of our friends Chuck and Nancy. Their house is about 500 feet above the city and has a panoramic view of the this beautiful little community and the surrounding Rim. Very,very nice. I promise a picture in a day or two. For those of you in the Northwest Payson reminds me of Central Oregon or Northeast Washington. It is cooler here than in the Valley though it supposed to reach 80 here today. We both remarked about how much favor we have from our Father to be able to be in these beautiful spots. Thanks Father and thanks Chuck and Nancy!
Item one. We had the opportunity to go to the Scottsdale Rodeo on Saturday. Our friend Luis Escudero, who we spent time with while in the El Paso area was bareback riding in the rodeo. He has been riding bareback for 30 years at a pretty high level and for my money it beats you up as much or more than any other event. He was able to get us into the VIP section where we had lunch and whatever else we wanted to eat or drink and a great view of the arena. We also got to talk for a few minutes with another rodeo friend, Stran Smith, the current world champion tie down roper and watch him do his thing. Met some other folks as well so it was a really fun day.
Item two. Things are pretty serious in this country these days, that is obvious. I suspect they are going to get more serious so I am wondering if we are learning anything about trust we didn’t know a year ago. What does it mean to trust God? There are some obvious answers, some cliche and some with truth. For example; trust is believing that God is in control, even when it appears everything is out of control. True. Trust, some say is what you do when YOU don’t know what to do. Cliche.
What I would like to know is this. What is trust like for you? In what ways are you trusting today that you didn’t a year ago? What changes for you when you really get to a trust level from a level of anxiety? There has never been an abundance of comments on this blog but I sure would like you all to weigh in on this subject. What does it mean to trust God? Take a chance and comment, who knows, it might make all the difference in someone else’s life, like mine.
Item three. If you like the merger of Faith and Art you will like this blog. Find it HERE. Do you use text messages? I have found it a helpful way of communicating but is there a downside? Read this article if you are interested, especially those of you who have children with cell phones. HERE is the link.
Item four. Ever make a list of the things you like? Interesting things like Taylor guitars, In and Out burgers, colorful birds, southwest style houses and so on. I think I could make a list of at least 50 things I like with out a problem. How about you? At dinner sometime make a family list of the things you like and see how long it gets. One of my favorite blogs Stuff Christians Like invited their readers to tell them what they like and the list grew to 500! Fun to read what gives other people a jolt of cheer and we sure need some of that right about now. Find the list HERE.
Could we make a Juniper View list?
Keep trusting our Father, find a way to just have some fun and keep your head up! Would love to have your comments, they mean a lot to a lot of us.
We arrived in Southern Arizona yesterday afternoon, after spending nearly a week in Texas and New Mexico visiting our friends and students of the Convergence Ministry School. We have lots of things we need to get done the next few days but we will find some time to see some of the history around here. The weather is, as you would expect in Arizona, quite good.
There just wasn’t time to blog over the last few days and obviously it is not Monday morning but here are a few things to meander through, catching up. Perhaps, as Linda says, we should call this post Wednesday Wanderings.
Item one. Maria Esteves is a little lady who was born in Mexico but has spent most of her life as a citizen of the United States. She has raised a family, ministered in her church, worked hard, lost her husband and along the way found herself ministering to the poorest of the poor across the border in Juarez, Mexico, from her El Paso home. Over time she has planted a couple of churches and now pastors a growing and thriving Family of believers deep inside the Mexican city. She travels back and forth several times a week, enduring 1-2 hour border crossings back into the US, to counsel, mentor, disciple, bring in clothes and food, preach, teach and pray with/for her vibrant Family.
Linda and I were honored to travel with Maria into Mexico and to share a few hours with some really wonderful people whose language we didn’t know, but who share the same love for Jesus. Worship was sweet, even though I understood very little, the hugs and handshakes we received and gave were the same in both Spanish and English. I was privileged to share some of what I have been learning from Hebrews 13 as Maria provided interpretation. Along the way I felt a strong leading to call the leaders of the church up front for prayer and that was a very special time.
The stark contract between the relative wealth on one side of the border and the poverty on the other always shocks me. No matter how bad a person’s life is in this country, it cannot be compared to a few feet inside Mexico. But these are strong people who have built a strong family life and a way of life, built not on accumulation of things, but on relationships and faith. We could learn a lot from them for these days of uncertainty.
Item two. Another friend and student Luis Escuedero, invited us to park our trailer on his small ranch north of El Paso, along the Rio Grand River, in Vado, New Mexico. It was the perfect place to stay a few days and it gave us the opportunity to meet Luis’ family and spend some good time with him. He is really fun to be around, is growing in the Lord and doing a great job as a single father to his two daughters while he waits in prayer and faith for his marriage to be restored. Luis kept saying how blessed he was to have us at his place, but we know we were the blessed ones.
Our time in West Texas, Old and New Mexico was very special and a place we hope to return to. Thank you Maria and Luis.
Item three. I am not economist and certainly no expert on anything that is happening in the world economy but didn’t we somehow know that spending fueled by cheap and easy credit would not last forever? Did we really think that the huge upward curve property values were on, driven by low mortgage rates, could not just keep going up. Didn’t we know we could not keep refinancing our homes to fuel our insatiable desire to buy more stuff, on the bet that our property would escalate in value? Surely we knew that buying and collecting multiples of everything, storing them in bigger barns for no real reason except we could, would have to come to an end? Of course we knew all of that, we just chose to ignore it and make “hay, as they say, while the sun shines”. And, of course, our leaders didn’t want to step up and say “no more” before it was too late.
Now our leaders are all looking at each other, acting as if this is a big surprise, while pointing the finger at us. And the only solution they can come up with is to borrow more money and throw it at the problem. Isn’t that what got us into this mess? We have now added 3 trillion of more debt to the 3 trillion we already were committed to and no way to pay it back. Many Americans are in the same boat, way more debt then they can pay off.
It is time to hunker down, save our money, give to others, especially the “First Fruits” to our Father. We do know, don’t we, that we are blessed according to our faithfulness to the tithe and offerings? There is nothing better to do, during these days of uncertainty, than to keep on tithing and giving to others, or to get started if we haven’t been. This is the pathway to real blessing. We must learn to take care of each other, to live out what it means to be a citizen of a Kingdom that is not of this world but will, if we submit to It’s King, change this world.
Item four. Jake the Dog has two new posts at his blog. You and especially your kids will enjoy what he has been up to. Find Jake HERE.
And now, may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, equip you with all you need for doing His will. May He produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, all that is pleasing to Him. (Hebrews 13:20-21a)
Since yesterday was a travel day, getting the meanderings out on its usual day was not possible so here is a belated collection of details from my life and times and some other sort of fun stuff.
Item one. 4816.7. That is the number of miles driven from Elk City, OK to Shelton, WA and back again. There were a few side trips which produced the 800+ miles over the 4K. Sayre (Elk City) is right at 2000 miles from Shelton. The weather was what you would expect in the winter, with snow, rain, blowing snow, blowing dust, blowing wind and some clear blue sky. All in all it wasn’t bad. We stopped in Colorado Springs and Twin Falls, Idaho on the way out and Idaho Falls, Fruita, CO (Linda flew to Salt Lake City), and Colorado Springs, on the way back. We travelled an average of 650 miles each travel day. Diesel average about $2.20 a gallon, about half what it was on a previous trip. Don’t want to leave right now to do it again, but I would and we probably will drive it again in the days ahead.
Item two. While in the Springs we attended the birthday party of our niece Andrea’s 11 year old son, Jalen. As you might know Andrea’s mother is Chinese American and Andrea is Korean by birth and Jalen’s father is African American. Of course Andrea’s father, my brother is the same ethnicity as me. What a wonderful collection of Americans attended this party. Add to the ethnic variations already mentioned, Samoan and maybe one other and you have all in one little house what America is all about. I live, work and worship mostly with people like me (well sort of-not sure what ethnicity Cowboy is) so being in that home with all these people of color and colorful culture was fun. At one point I counted 20 children, 11 and under and then discovered there were some teenagers in the basement. Add another 20 adults to the mix, including my 84 year old father and it was a full on inter-generational, inter-cultural party. Good times, as Brad would say.
Item three. 285 years ago the great American preacher and pastor, Jonathan Edwards dedicated himself to the following: I made a solemn dedication of myself to God, and wrote it down; giving up myself, and all that I had to God; to be for the future, in no respect, my own; to act as one that had no right to himself, in any respect. And solemnly vowed, to take God for my whole portion and felicity; looking on nothing else, as any part of my happiness, nor acting as if it were; and his law for the constant rule of my obedience. I am clearly no Jonathan Edwards but I am trying my best to dedicate myself to this pledge. I even wrote it down. I added this one line; it is not about me but all about Him therefore I make this solemn dedication… (felicity means the source of happiness or the place we get ourjoyful)
Item four. What’s next? Good question. There is a lot for us to do here but living in a trailer is not conducive to cold weather. We are planning to be in Arizona for a few weeks, just don’t know which few weeks. Don’t want to miss what the Father has for us here or there. The days are quite nice here but it gets very cold at night. Doesn’t seem like much we try to do to stay warm and keep the water from freezing, has worked. Probably some tricks yet to try but Arizona feels like the best trick.
Item five. Being with and around our children and grandchildren is the best blessing we as parents can receive for our efforts to raise quality children who love the Father and live to please Him as well as raising their own children to do the same. I am not sure I could tell you what we did to raise such great kids and encourage them to marry such great mates, but whatever it was and to whatever degree we had a part, it is such a blessing to see.
Item six. There are so many things to write about and not enough time. A few examples: For years, Dallas Seminary’s students came to the school because they were encouraged to go there by a pastor. The last group surveyed said they came because of the school’s website. Some people are still wondering if the internet is here to stay. Seth Godin in his book All marketers are liars says all kinds of things that are cool and more than that, right for today’s culture. Take this… It is hard to be remarkable when you and your organization insist on not changing the status quo. Or this…“If you want to grow, make something worth talking about. Not the hype, not the ads, but the thing. If your idea is good, it’ll spread.” [If it requires an announcement from the platform and a bulletin insert to succeed, then it's probably not "worth talking about" and it probably won't grow. I hated to, and mostly refused to do platform announcements because they don't work, they just waste time. I could write a lot about that one.] One more...”If a consumer figures something out or discovers it on her own, she’s a thousand times more likely to believe it than if it’s just something you claim.” [This is counter to the discipleship strategy of almost every church in the country.] My comments are in the brackets and are all I have time to write about.
Hopefully I will get back to the Summit Recap this week. Have a happy day and thanks for reading.