The books are beside my bed and collecting around my desk – and I love it.May 26th, 2011
The books are beside my bed and collecting around my desk – and I love it. Bill Hybel’s Just Walk Across the Room that I am hoping to finish is propped up next to my desk along with a collection of Robert Frost’s works and the History of the Reformation by J.H. D’Aubigne, who E.G. White quoted extensively in her volume The Great Controversy. The Great Controversy in turn is sitting by my bed on top of a stack that I am currently reading including Sanctified Life (that is just a great book to have handy), one of C.S. Lewis’ titles, Malcom Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, and then one of my favorite collection of essays from Robert Fulghum. It is from this final book I got my idea of eating a chair.
Fulghum tells of giving a ride to two college students headed to their summer job. Their philosophy teacher had given them an extra-credit assignment: Do something unique and memorable this summer-not dangerous or foolish, but something creative, inventive, and instructive. They were to write up what they learned and how to apply it to their philosophy of life.
So. They are eating a chair.
They bought a plain wooden kitchen chair and using a rasp have been turning it into sawdust. Then at every opportunity, granola in the morning or salad in the afternoon, they would sprinkle it on their food. When Fulghum met them they had eaten a leg, two rungs, and a back piece.
Had they learned anything? They said so. They learned how “amazing long-term goals can be achieved in incremental stages. Like how something seemingly idiotic affects your thinking about other things you do… Some things cannot be had except on a little-at-a-time, keep-the-long-term-goal-in-mind, stay-focused basis.”
I think eating chairs might help us all out. See the long-term goal and stay focused on it.
For our graduating academy seniors, his commencement weekend may seem like that goal… and certainly it is one to be proud of. Congratulations!
More importantly (as hard as that is to believe) is the project that God has launched… we call it our life. This doesn’t end at graduation, at marriage (amen!), at a job promotion, or even at retirement –
The LORD will fulfill [his purpose] for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands. Psalms 138:8 NIV
Because of His enduring love He won’t ever give up on any of us. And if you for a moment doubt this – remember one of the disciples fled from the arrest of Jesus…not only fled… but fled naked. If there was anyone that Jesus could have given up on – that would have been my pick. But we know that Jesus didn’t give up on them, and He went on to use them to change the world… including our lives.
You are like eating a chair- Jesus will do what He can, a little at a time, keeping very much the end goal in mind…and not stop until He is all the way done.
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Phillipians 1:6 NIV
—Pastor Micheal Goetz
“JESUS IS COMING TODAY!May 20th, 2011
“JESUS IS COMING TODAY!”
If you’re reading this on May 21, 2011, then that is precisely what the followers of Harold Camping are declaring today—Christ is returning to this earth at 6 p.m. (presumably Pacific Time, since Camping lives in Oakland, California). With his return approximately two per cent of this world’s population will be immediately raptured to heaven, leaving the rest of earth’s inhabitants to be destroyed. In an elaborate theological schematic (which I have purused on-line), Camping predicts the return of Christ on May 21, 2011, and five months later the Judgment Day destruction of earth and the universe on October 21, 2011.
Harold Camping, a former civil engineer, is the 89 year old founder of Family Radio—a Christian broadcast network that now includes 66 stations globally. He is not a stranger to apocalyptic predictions, having announced that Christ would return on September 6, 1994. His post-September 6 explanation, as he recently told London’s Independent newspaper, is that “at that time there was a lot of the Bible I had not really researched very carefully. But now we’ve had the chance to do just an enormous amount of additional study and God has given us outstanding proofs that it really is going to happen” (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-preacher-warns . . . ).
Camping has developed an intricate but convoluted system of mathematical calculations that assigns numeric values to biblical themes (redemption, heaven, wrath, judgment, et al), and then multiplies them in order to arrive at time frames. For example, this is from his online paper: “Let us return now to the 722,500.07 days from April 1, 33 A.D. (the day Christ was crucified and died) until May 21, 2011 (the day when God’s salvation plan has been altogether completed and all of the true believers are brought, or raptured into Heaven). The number 722,500 is made up of two sets of identical significant numbers. Each number is intimately related to God’s salvation plan: 5 x 10 x 17 x 5 x 10 x 17 = 722,500. The atonement or redemption demonstrated by Christ’s suffering and death on April 1, 33 A.D. (the number 5) is 100% completed on May 21, 2011 (the number 10) when all the true believers are raptured into Heaven (the number 17)” (http://www.familyradio.com/graphical/literature/tracts/frames/index.html).
Based on those “calculations” sincere followers of Camping have erected 2000 billboards and crisscrossed every state of this nation with brightly painted camper vans proclaiming the end of the world today, May 21.
But why blog at all about a small apocalyptic movement the secular press has patronizingly dismissed? Here’s why: because while I unequivocally reject Harold Camping’s misguided at best calculations for the end of the world, I must confess to a quiet admiration for the chutzpah of his followers who have risked public ridicule in order to share with the world their deeply held conviction that Jesus is soon to return. I, too, call myself an “adventist” (one who believes in Christ’s soon coming)—what is more, I am a Seventh-day Adventist—but how many of my friends and neighbors have heard me recently testifying to my belief that Jesus is coming soon? Call for a show of hands in worship, and mine quickly shoots up. But ask for a public testimony outside of my congregational comfort zone, and I am strangely silent. Are you the same? What’s wrong with us?
Listen to the humbled but still bold Big Fisherman, Peter: “The end of all things is near” (I Peter 4:7). No equivocation there—and he was writing nearly two millennia before our day. “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (3:15). Clearly “hope” is not dependent upon a calculable date for Jesus’ return (who himself declared such calculations futile—Matthew 24:36). Hope rests instead upon the bedrock promise of Christ himself: “Look, I am coming soon!” (Revelation 22:12) And it is that divine and biblical certainty that must compel us who still call ourselves “Adventists.”
May 21 will come and go. But taking a page from the play book of Harold Camping’s followers, shall we not—as followers of the soon-coming Christ—determine that what will not come and go is our fervent hope and hope-filled witness for our Savior?
“THE END OF BIN LADEN”May 11th, 2011
A dripping, blood-red X over the face of Osama bin Laden is the cover for the May 20, 2011, issue of TIME. Only four times in its publishing history has the magazine chosen to red-X the face of a notorious human being: Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi and now Osama bin Laden. The press is still abuzz over the stunning surprise and speed with which “the world’s #1 terrorist” was hunted and killed last week. When late on Sunday night President Obama announced bin Laden’s death to the nation and world, jubilant crowds quickly amassed outside the White House and in New York City to celebrate the death of the September 11 mastermind. Seal Team 6 celebrates its precision execution of the raid—Pakistan protests violation of its sovereignty—and earth marvels over the United State’s relentless and finally successful pursuit of its most-wanted nemesis.
And how is it with earth’s Christians? As I watched the jubilation of the crowds, read the editorials and followed the unfolding story, the irony of it all occurred to me—we have found reason to rejoice in the death of another. We party because our enemy has been slain. And who would renounce the strong sense of relief family members of the September 11 victims experienced with the news that the perpetrator of that heinous crime had met his own untimely death? “Justice has been done,” was the President’s somber pronouncement.
But does God rejoice in the death of Osama bin Laden? King David fled for his life, when his rebel son Absalom lead a coup d’état in Israel to overthrow his father. But days later when the army of the father overpowered the army of the rebel son and Absalom was slain by a commando team, there was no party back at headquarters. Instead the father king wept: “‘O my son Absalom—my son, my son Absalom—if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!’” (II Samuel 18:33) On hearing the king’s loud lamenting, Joab—David’s commanding general—burst into the royal chamber with the angry charge that the king’s inconsolable weeping was a disgrace to the nation. But was it?
Could it be that David’s weeping was a shadowy representation of another Father King? Will God and the universe party when rebel son and fallen angel Lucifer at last suffers eternal death for his ruthless and unrelenting crimes against the kingdom? Or like David, will the Father of us all bow his head in his hands and weep, “If only I could have died in your place?” Will divine love love its enemies, its nemesis enemy, to the very end? Calvary is answer enough, is it not? “‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do’” (Luke 23:34).
And that is why there will be only one death the universe will ever truly rejoice over throughout eternity: “And they sang a new song . . . ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!’” (Revelation 5:9, 12). It is that death, the death of Christ our Savior, that compels us to love even our enemies.
Which is why in the end the only dripping, blood-red X that will matter for any of us, for all of us, is the one atop Calvary. “And they sang a new song.”