1.If your pastor tells you that if you do x, God will most certainly do y, your pastor is manipulating you. The only sure promises in Scripture are about salvation and suffering…
2.When Christianity is filtered through political ideology instead of filtering political ideology through Christianity, you end with with people justifying wishing a horrible death on someone who disagrees with them politically while having a Bible verse posted next to the wish on social media…
3. 110 of 111 brains of deceased football players showed evidence of CTE. When does supporting professional football become an ethical issue for Christians?
4.Being created in the image of God means that we are the representation of God to the world around us. That scares me…
5.If we believe Jesus when He said the gates of hell would not prevail against the church, then we can be the church knowing that victory is assured…
6. If we believe Jesus when He said that in this world we will have tribulation, then we can be the church with biblical expectations…
7.There is nothing more incongruent with biblical teaching than boiling “morality” down to other peoples sexuality…
8.Few things have stunted the growth of Christian spirituality in this generation as the rejection of anything “Catholic” as heresy…
9.I’ve been reading how both Luther and Calvin were horribly afflicted with kidney stones and I wonder how in the world they made it through without pain killers and modern medicine. It brings to my mind again how much better life is now in the “end times” than it was then. It also gives me much more grace for them…if I had to do this without Percoset, I’d hate everybody too…I’m not exactly a lovable bundle of fun with the help…
10. The thing I like best about Anglicanism is that I have permission inside the tradition to like all the rest of orthodox Christianity…actually, it’s an expectation. If only everyone could do likewise…
Dear Lord, help me to spread your fragrance wherever I go. Flood my soul with your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of yours. Shine through me, and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel your presence in my soul.
Let them look up and see no longer me, but only you, O Lord! Stay with me and then I will begin to shine as you do; so to shine as to be a light to others. The light, O Lord, will be all from you; none of it will be mine. It will be you shining on others through me.
Let me thus praise you in the way which you love best, by shining on those around me. Let me preach you without preaching, not by words but by example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to you. Amen.
The Coming of the Son of Man – so much of what is to follow is symbolic confusing language to describe a timeframe. Hey, just give me the day and the time – I will set the alarm, put it on my calendar and go out and live my life.
But Jesus has given his word to live by faith – be ready.
29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
This is Old Testament language talking about the last day – the conclusion of the universe (Isaiah 24, 34, Joel 2),
Jesus, to speak of the last day uses this Old Testament language. It is a poetic way to say that the creation is becoming uncreated.
This is where our rapture theology friends make the big mistake. In their effort to take the Book of Revelation literally, they end up with life on earth with 1/3rd of the sun burned out and literal stars falling in a literal sea.
We would read these types of signs to mean just what they mean – THE END.
I imagine that we will see this (whatever it is) when he comes to judge the living and the dead. What we will see is the destruction of the old and the new creation coming at once —- the new heaven and the new earth.
30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Here is the sign of his coming – this is the only sign we are to be looking for – not tornadoes, earthquakes, wars, dictators in foreign lands.
Notice how the imagery has changed from the destruction of the temple into language of the last day? What is he talking about?
The destruction of the temple is a foretaste of the last day –So pay attention folks.
Son of man = Daniel language – power & great glory – divinity language.
On the clouds = this is ascension language – we were told he would return the same way he left.
31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Now Jesus is gathering the elect – but wait – this is happening at the last day – not 7 years earlier at the rapture.
Our rapture friends have this so wrong – how can you have a loud trumpet at the rapture? This is supposed to be a mystery for those left behind.
But our friends have this figured out – it is the mysterious dog whistle trumpet that only the redeemed can here.
Enough of the negative judgment – what about the positives of that judgment – that you are forgiven and given salvation on that last day.
The judgment comes forward in the divine service, so when you hear the absolution proclaimed over you, when the pastor speaks forth the gospel, when you eat and drink the true body and blood of our Lord at the sacrament of the altar.
According to the Lord’s word, this is the last day judgment for you! You are acquitted and Jesus says “come into my kingdom.”
So it is each Lord’s Day – the imagery of the angels being sent out to gather the elect – the Lord gathering his people into his church around himself.
We see this as a glimpse in miniature.
The Lesson of the Fig Tree
32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.
Learn this lesson – Jesus is so good at object lessons.
From v 33 forward, Jesus tells a series of parables that say this one thing – Be Ready! – and you need to know this to be ready.
What is Be Ready? I think 32 ff is a parallel to 2 Peter 3:11-12 –“Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
This about this – here is Jesus teaching the disciples and then as we read 2 Peter we then see Peter teaching this to the Church.
We have signs of changing seasons – not so much in SoCal (we have summer and almost summer).
We even try to make our own signs out of the seasons – Ground Hog Day.
33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates.
We are to look forward to his coming as we would wait for the coming of summer. How do you d that?? With patience.
The tree is budding, his coming is near and this they know by his sure and eternal word.
34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
Which generation? How about the generation in his day?
All of the severity of God’s judgment on Israel, it’s history will not end with the destruction of the temple and the fall of Jerusalem – but their only hope is to be joined in the new and eternal people of God – called the church.
What happens in Jesus’ generation points to what will continue to happen in all generations – and we need to be what? READY!
35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
This is a statement of certainty of what was said above
Some people want to make a theology out of each verse – well what did Jesus mean? – and then dissect and come up with a statement of faith.
I think it is not more than, ‘what I said, you can take it to the bank.”
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.” (James 5:13–15 ESV)
Except when He doesn’t…
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31–33 ESV)
Except when they’re not…
We’ve all anointed and prayed for someone who didn’t recover.
We all know people who are struggling to keep the lights on and who dread checking the mail or answering the phone because they simply don’t have the provision needed.
We know from experience that these “promises” of help are anything but sure.
We massage that reality with sundry theological explanations to allow us to hold on to some semblance of faith.
We deal with our disappointment and discouragement with thoughts about God’s will, God’s sovereignty, a fallen world, or our own sin.
Honestly, those no longer do much for me.
Between the afflictions I own and the afflictions I see, such answers are like cheap band aids that don’t stick properly, but hurt when you pull them off.
There is only one explanation that brings any measure of comfort.
It’s one sure promise of scripture
“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,” (Philippians 1:28–29 ESV)
Suffering is promised as surely as salvation in the book.
It is spoken of as being given as an honor.
It is said to be necessary for us to be able to endure to the end.
It is said that we share in the sufferings of Christ and that by doing so we play a part in the story of redemption.
Despite all this, we do all we can to avoid suffering or to ameliorate it any way we can.
There are days when it makes us doubt our faith and the goodness of God.
We’re supposed to count it as joy, but I can’t do that kind of math…
If you don’t have days like that, I salute your holiness, but lately I have more days like that then I care to admit.
I survive not with carefully selected scripture verses, but by looking at Jesus.
Jesus came to suffer.
Jesus asked His Father for another way because the suffering was so intense.
When there was no other way, He took the suffering.
He promises there will be a day when all the suffering ends.
It won’t be today.
The God who suffered is a God I can follow.
Still…today we will keep anointing, keep praying, keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking.
Sometimes the answer is yes.
When it’s not, we will still see Jesus, and Jesus knows our sorrow.
“On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’ And Simon answered, ‘Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.’ ” (Luke 5:1-5)
By now, Simon had partial knowledge of who Jesus was. Jesus was the teacher who recently healed his mother-in-law and who loved to preach the Word of God with authority. If the Master needed his boat for relief from the pressing crowd, so He could preach good news to them, Simon would respectfully comply with Jesus’ request and even lend Him his piloting services. On the other hand, fishing was Simon’s wheelhouse. He and his partners, James, John, and likely his brother, Andrew, had just come back from a night of fishing and had caught nothing. However, despite his skepticism, if Jesus wanted to put out into the deep for a cast, Simon would comply with Jesus’ word.
“And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.” (Luke 5:6-7)
Jesus used this opportunity to bless Simon and is partners with a miraculous catch. However, instead of simply calling down fish from heaven, Jesus blessed their work. This is how God usually works: hidden but within creation. (God is not distant or uninvolved with His creation.) God works for us constantly through human beings working in their various vocations and by physical means. Jesus Himself is the perfect example of God’s power hidden in weakness. If we insist that God no longer works miracles or that miracles only occur when the laws of nature are visibly suspended, then we will fail to recognize (and praise) God’s sustaining presence and work in our lives. Occasionally, a blessing may be immediately recognizable as a miracle, but other times it may be only with hindsight that we recognize God’s hand in a situation.
Jesus does not come or preach for the purpose of providing for our physical needs. Yet, when the first thing sought is His kingdom, He is not unmindful of our physical needs: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt 6:33) Here Jesus provided substantially more than what the bodily needs of Simon and his partners required. Whether it was divine knowledge of where a massive school of fish would be or divine action to bring the fish to the net, we are not told. In any event, the massive catch of fish was so improbable that Simon immediately recognized the presence of God at work on the boat. Jesus was after a different catch using a different net!
“But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’ For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.’ And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.” (Luke 5:8-11)
Most Christians are aware that God uses His Law to bring us to repentance by showing us our sin and threatening us with punishment. But God also uses His kindness and blessings to move us to repentance, as Paul teaches: “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Rom 2:4)
If we acknowledge that God is good to us and blesses us constantly with physical life, family, shelter, food and “stuff,” despite the fact that we are covetous, greedy, ungrateful, unmindful of God, etc., then God would have us repent. God wants us to work, but He wants us to depend on Him for our bodily needs. He wants us to work, but God wants us to trust that He will provide for us. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matt 6:25-26)
Without the Gospel, God is terrifying to sinful man. Most of the time, the Divine nature of Jesus was hidden within His human nature. In that way, He was approachable and people did not fear Him (although the demons recognized His divinity). But on this occasion, Simon felt the presence of the Divine through the miracle and this experience immediately called to mind his unworthiness and sin. Being on the boat, Simon could not flee from Jesus; he could only pray that Jesus would depart from him.
This is the first step to repentance, as King David wrote: “a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Ps 51:17) The Good News is that Jesus has another Word: forgiveness. Jesus comes to save, not condemn sinners. True, He desires to kill our old sinful nature inherited from Adam, but only so He can raise His own offspring, after His own likeness and image, and grant us eternal life.
So Jesus did not depart from Simon. Instead, He gave him absolution: “Do not be afraid”. Simon was now clean. Jesus caught Simon with the net of the Gospel.
Jesus cleansed Simon from his sin, just like He cleanses us from our sin, by bearing our sin in His body on the cross as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus defeated sin and death and the devil to give us the grace of His heavenly Father. If we believe this, then we too are caught in the net of the Gospel, which rescues us from the kingdom of darkness and transfers us into the kingdom of Christ in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Amen.
“Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me free.
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?” (Ps 118:5-6) Amen.
Outside of watching sports, I am not much of a tv watcher. I will sometimes watch reruns of past shows I like or a nature or historical documentary. I will occasionally watch a favorite movie if I see it in the channel guide. I hardly ever watch any current programming unless “24” happens to have a season in progress.
One new exception to my neglect of current television is that I have come to like “America’s Got Talent”. I primarily got hooked on the show by watching YouTube videos of it and other Got Talent shows before I ever even saw the show on tv. This season, the show has become a favorite for the whole family to watch.
Competing on a show like this is something I would personally loathe to do. Besides not having a recognizable talent to present in the first place, I would absolutely hate being the center of attention as I performed. But I enjoy watching others on stage. It is enjoyable to watch someone who performs well at whatever they may be doing, be it singing or dancing or magic or comedy. It is all the more pleasing when someone is a natural entertainer and they confidently command the stage.
But the ones who are my favorites are the ones who are good at what they do but are also outwardly nervous or awkward or shy or unassuming. Many who you can tell have probably never performed much at all before audiences, let alone a large theater audience with a set of celebrity judges. Or those who have no preconceived notions of how great they are and are just trying to get through their performance without falling apart. My absolute favorites are these apprehensive ones who are exceedingly relieved just to finish but are really good and then watching their reaction to the audience who are overwhelmingly applauding their performance. Throw in a golden buzzer from one of the judges and it’s one big pot of tear inducing joy and elation and stunned bewilderment.
In a different sense, I imagine in some ways this is a small glimpse of what it is like when we cry out, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Most especially on that day when we pass from this earth and meet our Lord. Except that our performance wasn’t actually very good, save our humble request to God. Our relief will certainly be there as we realize we made it to the end despite our many stumbles and struggles. As we are greeted by a celestial welcome of the saints that have gone on before us along with other heavenly beings, we will finally meet our Savior face-to-face in a moment that we would struggle in our present state to find the words to describe with any sufficiency. And just maybe we would even hear that golden buzzer from our Master as He would say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” It will be one big pot of tear inducing joy and elation and stunned bewilderment.
I doubt that many of us that day will enter the Lord’s presence saying, “God, thank you that I’m not like other men.” If that is our attitude, I would question the possibility of us even being in this position because we may not have ever received or understood God’s mercy in the first place. But even if we were to approach God’s presence in that day with such a demeanor, I believe we will be quickly blown away by what we see and experience. We will be quickly humbled and bewildered and filled with genuine joy in a glorious fashion.
So we look forward to that day when we meet our Lord, whether from our passing from this earth or in His return to it. And unlike those who receive great applause on “America’s Got Talent” or in any other earthly venue, the ability to pass through the gates of judgment and receive a beautiful welcome and affirmation will have nothing to do with the quality of our performance but only the quality and mercy and grace of our Judge.
“Because CGN is not an association and churches will not affiliate with CGN, we do not have a formal affiliation process, overseers, regions, or regional directors. All church disciplinary issues that might arise among the churches within the network will be dealt with through their own local leaders. CGN will never involve itself in (or take responsibility for) matters pertaining to any local church.”
Granted, in CGN as a corporation, there’s not much to be accountable for, although some pastors have asked about where the money from conferences goes.
It’s my understanding that Brodersen has a board, but no one knows who is on it.
Perhaps now that the split is written in stone (and it is) we will see CGN take on more definition and structure.
Right now there is too much ambiguity…and CC pastors are not known for their love of ambiguity…or succession plans that don’t include kin.