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Rapture This Saturday?

May 19, 2011

In 1981 a group from the Lighthouse Gospel Tract Foundation quit their jobs, closed their businesses, got rid of their possessions and gathered atop a hill in Tucson, Arizona to await the return of Jesus Christ on June 28, 1981 as predicted by their leader, Bill Maupin. June 28 came and went…

Edgar C. Whisenant published 88 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be In 1988 and predicted the event to take place between September 11-13 of that year. September 11-13, 1988 came and went, but Edgar realized he was one year off and quickly published Rapture Report: 1989 and named September 1, 1989 as the new date. It came and went…

Can anyone forget the hysteria of Y2K and the end of the world?

Harold Camping, General Manager of Family Radio predicted the Rapture in his book 1994? Well, 1994 came and went, but Camping now predicts this Saturday, May 21, 2011 as the beginning of the end.

We’ll see… Oh yeah, don’t forget the Mayan calendar which predicts our demise on December 21, 2012!

The return of Jesus Christ and the end of the world is a topic that brings out a wide range of opinions and emotions. It’s a subject written into novels, made into movies, and is a hotly debated issue in some Christian groups. I think we can cool it down and keep it real if we hold a few important ideas in mind.

1. While Jesus is makes it clear that He will return, the dates, times, and details are not clear. Language is a limited vehicle. The writers of scripture are attempting to capture a supernatural, infinite event with human-based, finite words. There’s a reason this type of biblical literature is called “Apocalyptic”. It is highly symbolic and mysterious. I think we should respect the mystery by approaching these portions of scripture with great humility. While Jesus made clear the fact that he would return, the details were hidden…even from him! See Matthew 24. Jesus kept the disciples attention on the work to be done here on earth and emphasized what they needed to know (that he would return), and what they didn’t (dates, times, etc…). See Acts 1:2-11.

2. The mysterious nature of this issue has led to some unfortunate speculations and extreme reactions.

– Escape Artist – “I’m just praying Jesus comes back to get me before things get too uncomfortable down here”
– Dis-engaged Pessimist – “Why bother loving my neighbor or sharing the Gospel? Don’t re-arrange deck chairs on the Titanic”
– Obsessed Speculator – Every world event is “the” sign. 88 reasons why the rapture will happen in 1988. Oh wait, make that 89 reasons…
– Dogmatic Interpreter – “Only those who agree with my eschatology are biblical believers”.

It’s easy to forget that every generation has read apocalyptic literature through the lens of their historical and cultural settings. Again, respect the mystery and approach the text with humility.

3. The reality is that men and women who love Jesus deeply, and who take scripture seriously come to different interpretations of this issue. While the return of Christ is not in dispute. There is room for differences of opinion in how his return will take place. These differences should be understood in light of the non-essential nature of the “how”.

So, is there a unifying principle? You bet there is!

A solid foundation for understanding this issue depends greatly on how we balance hope for tomorrow and strength for today. So here’s the principle: My perspective on the future impacts my present-day living. I think the quote below offers a great view of the balance we should strive for:

“We should be so eager for the coming of our Lord that if he should come tomorrow we would not be taken by surprise. We should so hold ourselves in restraint that if His return should be delayed a thousand or ten thousand years, we would not be disappointed.” – E.Y. Mullins

Have a great weekend…no matter what happens!!


The Death of Osama Bin Laden

May 2, 2011

My wife and I were surfing the channels one last time last night before going to bed, when we caught the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed by U.S. Special Forces in Pakistan. I was immediately gripped by the same surreal feeling I had on Tuesday September 11, 2001 as I watched the second commercial jet slam into the World Trade Center.

I have to admit that I am very conflicted. I am pleased that a man who seemed to take pleasure in bringing about the destruction of other people’s lives has been stopped, and yet I wonder if his death will serve to intensify the very acts of terror we are fighting so hard to eliminate. I am hopeful that Bin Laden’s death will bring some closure and a sense of justice to those who lost loved ones in the attacks he planned, and yet I am uneasy at the extent to which many are seeing this event as an act of vengeance. I am grateful to the men and women of our military for tirelessly seeking to combat terror in our world, and yet I question whether or not our presence in the Middle East for another hundred years would stop radical Islamists from re-establishing a reign of fear and violence within 10 minutes of our withdrawal. I hope and pray that this development will significantly damage the morale, and impair the ability of terror networks to plan and execute their acts of twisted hate.

I do believe Bin Laden was a danger to humanity as long as he continued to draw breath. He demonstrated an aggressive disregard for life that had to be stopped. I’m just not sure if it’s appropriate to throw a party over it.

I’m processing this whole thing through a solemn sense of reflection. I remember 9/11, I remember the faces of brave men and women charging into a crumbling building in an attempt to save a life. I remember the bravery of my friend who lost his leg because of a roadside bomb. I remember our church being filled to capacity as we cried out to God alongside every denomination in town for the victims and their families. I remember a hurting nation realizing how much God’s grace has been shed on us. I recall the unity and generosity of thousands of Americans donating blood, money, time, and effort as we put aside personal aspirations and political agendas to stand as one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. I remember seeing the best of humanity rise from the worst of evil intentions. Now that’s something to celebrate…

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