Sunday, July 25, 2010

Why I Don’t Study Revelation or Prophecy (anymore)

Next month I will be writing Honest August. My goal is for not only me to be honest, but you too. The tough questions start next week. They might leave the comment section empty, or create an environment of honest communication. Your choice. But here is this week's post:

In the past few weeks, I’ve had a few key conversations. Conversations that revolved around the last book of the Bible, and how everything is going to play out in the next few years.

It seems to me that I haven’t had conversations like this in a long time.

I, for one, respect these people and their ambition to study biblical prophecy.

Yet, just the opposite, there are teachers of prophecy that I do not respect.

Perry Stone and Jack Van Impe, to name a few. I am not impressed by their specific dates and deadlines. Van Impe is convinced the Mayan calendar is biblically confirmed as Doomsday. I guess that means John Cusack’s 2012 is right around the corner. I’ve heard Perry Stone go on about God using a global EMP blast to take the world back to the 17th century for the tribulation.

No joke.

But this is nothing new. There are people I respect and don’t in every sort of field.

As for me, when I first began to study the Bible seriously, I started at the end. It was fun, in a science-fiction-Kirk-Cameron-Growing-Pains sort of way.

I read Left Behind. A handful of them, anyway. But wait 6 more months for the next book? I got bored.

Not just with the series. Bored with the idea of Prophecy.

So I moved on.

One day, I wondered why Israel would reject the Messiah. I had heard there were hundreds of Messianic prophetic statements in the Old Testament. What did they have to say about Christ? And why are they ignored?

The Messiah would conquer Satan.
“He [Messiah] shall bruise your [Serpent] head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15

The Messiah would be a leader like Moses.
“I will raise up for them a prophet like you [Moses] from among the brothers.” Deut. 18:18

The Messiah would have world domination.
“There came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days....and to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion.” Daniel 7:13-14

The Jews were expecting a political leader.

And for good reason. The prophecies they focused on described him that way. Jewish scribes poured over their writings. Searching and studying, so that they could know the Messiah when they saw him.

But they missed it. Was he the political leader they envisioned? No. Were the prophecies wrong? No.

God’s plan both matched the Scriptures AND far exceeded the scribes expectations. He was more than some political leader. He is the King of the spiritual kingdom.

I think the same thing is true with our future prophecies. All of our experts, scribes, and even our religious nuts, can search and study and say,
“It’s going to be like this. Like this. And like this.”
Some of them go as far as to give us dates (2012). Or explain the things of God in modern scientific terms (EMP blasts).

And some more respectable teachers say,
"The horns represent this. The bowls represent this. Gog and Magog represent this country."

Yeah. Sure. You can say that all you’d like.

But I think when all of our prophecies are revealed, it will show that our best experts got it wrong. Or at best, incomplete.

So this is why I don’t study Revelation or our prophecies anymore.

But I don’t know why the whole topic has faded.

Did the Left Behind series burn us out?

Did Y2K come and go without the rapture?

Or how about the book 88 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be in 1988 (don’t laugh. 4.5 million copies sold!)?

Or is Shane Claiborne closer to the reason?

“Few people are interested in a religion that has nothing to say to the world and offers them only life after death, when what people are really wondering is whether there is life before death.”

I think, maybe we are tired of thinking about tomorrow.

Maybe we need God to meet us today.

Maybe we need less of ‘God, get me outta here!’ mentality.

And more of ‘God, how do you want to use me to heal a broken world?’ mindset.


These are just my thoughts. Take them or leave them. I don't claim to have prophecy figured out, and would LOVE to hear what you have to say on the topic.
Why has this topic faded from pulpits, small groups, and evangelism styles? 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Hidden Danger of Keeping Silent

I know this is old news. It happened many months ago. Pat Robertson made the following ill-timed quote about Haiti's earthquake:

"Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III, or whatever. 
And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. 
They said, we will serve you if you'll get us free from the French. True story. And so, the devil said, okay it's a deal. Ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other."

For the record, I think Pat was wrong for 3 reasons:

1. There is little to no evidence to support this 'pact'. To take such a tragedy and say it was God who killed, with little to no evidence to support it, is a dangerous thing to do. I do not make light of putting words in God's mouth or putting deeds in His hands.

2. It was ill-timed. Pointing fingers immediately after the the tragedy? A word of hope would have been much more powerful.

3. It offset all of the good Pat and the 700 Club did that day. Nobody talks about the next few minutes of the program where they encouraged their viewers to donate thousands of dollars to the devastated country. People only quote the ill-timed statement above.

For a more eloquent response to Pat's quote, read Don Miller's post here. For any rebuttals to my three points, I direct you to Miller's post. If you still disagree, I welcome your feedback in the comments.

But this post is not about Pat, the 700 Club, or Haiti.

This post is about your voice. 

Because moments after Pat's statement, something fascinating happened on Twitter.

Hundreds and Hundreds of people tweeted, "#PatRobertsonDoesn'tSpeakForMe."

Ten years ago, if Pat, or ANY Christian Leader in front of a camera spoke to the world, they spoke for all of us, whether we liked it or not.

But now with Twitter and Facebook, your voice is loud. People listen. With your status update or twitter post, you can say that Pat, or whoever, doesn't speak for you. That they do not represent you.

In fact, every time you don't speak out, you let these people speak for you. 

When you refuse to speak up, you let Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church and speak for you! What reason do people have to think that you are different if you remain silent?

So how do you speak out against Christian Leaders you disagree with?


1. Be careful to not be obnoxious, annoying, or immature.

2. Disagree by being direct and logical.

3. Be open to discussion. Listen to opinions and disagreements of others.

Side note: this applies to Leaders. If this is somebody you personally know, Facebook statuses and Twitter are not the place to do it. Do that interpersonally.

Your voice is important. Your silence is dangerous.

As for me, I refuse to let Fred Phelps speak for me.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Stars are Old Promises

Sorry for last week's silence. I was in a time of no inspiration. So I decided not to post anything. But I'm back with more ideas. 

Thank you for your patience, and for coming back to read this week's. 


Sometimes we just need reminders. Things to jog our memory.

“Are we going the right way?”

“I don't remember seeing that before.”

“I didn't think I'd ever feel this way.”

Some days, God seems so distant. So silent. Some days religion and spirituality seem silly. A childhood thought. Yesterday's prayers seem trite. Last year’s miracles become rationalized.

So we watch out of signs, old promises. Keeping our eyes open for tomorrows joy.

A smile that reminds you that you are loved.

A child playing reminding you of innocence.

A kiss that reminds you why you are alive.

The stars and their promises. They are tales of beginnings, of infinity, of life.

C. S. Lewis told a powerful story at the end of his book Surprised by Joy. He asked if we, as Christians, should always find joy in salvation. Should we? Even in the monotonous days? Even in the days where our conversion happened so long ago, a distant memory?

He explained, if we were lost in the woods with no map, no direction, we'd have no hope. If we kept searching and we might eventually find a blaze, a marker for the trail, pointing us back to safety. With joy, we celebrate, high five, and continue.

Later on the same trail, we see the same colored blaze. Do we rejoice? Yes, but not as much. We know we are found. We keep moving.

We see another. And another.

And another.

Each is a reminder that we have been found, but after each, thinking we would be more joyful, we aren't.

He suggests that we should not be thankful for the marker, we should be thankful for the man who painted the mark on the tree. The man who pointed us to safety.

We should not celebrate in our salvation, we should celebrate the Savior.

The promises point not to our redemption, but our Redeemer.

Is your life monotonous?



Maybe you are too focused on the promises.

Some are guilty for celebrating the Bible, celebrating prayer, celebrating worship, rather than God himself.

Celebrate not that you are found, but Who found you.

Remember the stars, not for their promises, but for the one Who promised.