Thursday, November 27, 2008

My Christmas Wish for the Whole Year

From the end of October (Halloween) until the beginning of the New Year, things in this country are markedly different. What I mean by this is that families, friends, and even strangers come together like at no other time during the year. At Halloween, people step out of their houses and their comfort zones, and walk around with their kids or grandchildren, allowing them to walk up to houses they would never go near at any other day or time of the year, chanting "trick or treat." This year, and with good weather the task was much easier. We exchanged several greetings with people we had never met before and also conversed with neighbors who we hadn't seen outside in months.

At Thanksgiving, we mostly hang out with family, but this time of the year definitely warrants helping out others who have far less in their pockets. The selfless give time, money, and their undivided attention to making a difference in someone else's life. Some of us even spend our day serving the least, last and lost down at a local soup kitchen. The examples of individuals, churches, and businesses helping others is endless.

Then, at Christmas time (my personal favorite season of the year despite the cold in Michigan), people continue what they started during Thanksgiving by offering their gifts, their help, their kindness to not only fellow friends and family, but also those they have no acquaintance with. This, in my view, is the best part of Christmas. People are friendly and gracious like no other time during the year. Families gather from all parts of the globe to celebrate, to reminisce, to exchange gifts, to hang out.

While there are certainly other memorable and good times during the year, I wish the season upon us would come around more often. In my view, the world and this country would be a lot better if we all got together more than once a year, got over ourselves and our agenda more often, and started offering our time, money and attention to others instead.

This is my Christmas wish. While it's easier said than done, I'm going to try.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A False Hope

As I explained on Sunday, in my view, one of the biggest problems with dispensational teaching is that it gives people a false hope. In other words, if it is wrong (which I think it is) then you're telling people that they have a second chance, a second opportunity to make things right with God. While this might make for a good read, such as in the case of the Left Behind series of books written by Lahaye and Jenkins, I'm pretty sure it's not a correct reading of Scripture.

Under this scope of teaching, knowing that there is a rapture, I could theoretically live my life the way I wanted to all the while knowing that I'll get another opportunity after the others have been snatched away. Yes, I'll have to endure the 7 years of tribulation, however, I'd rather live my life selfishly rather than live in preparation for Jesus' second coming. After my friends, family members, and others are raptured out of this world into heavenly bliss, then I'll know it's time to get serious.

Anyway, these are my problems with this teaching, not to mention that read historically and contextually, the typical "rapture" texts are something all-together different, and should be read as such.

Think on these things until next time...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rapture Questions and Answers

After tackling the last elephant - Are Christians raptured? - many of you had questions, comments, or were more than willing to share your opinion. I appreciate the feedback and wanted to help clarify some of the questions that were directed my way.

First, again, we as Christians can all agree that Jesus will return - the debate begins as to when that occurs. As a premillenialist, I personally believe that Jesus will return before the thousand year reign (See Rev. 20) . Amillenialists feel a little differently about the matter. Starting with Augustine a few years back, their belief is that the millenium is not a literal 1000 year reign but is merely symbolic. This was actually the predominant view during the middle ages and before the reformation. A third option here is that of a postmillenialist. This view takes the position that there is a literal 1000 year reign, but that Christ does not return until after the 1000 years. Their belief is that the church itself would usher in the 1000 years of peace through the means of evangelism leading to the overall and gradual transformation of the world. This became the majority view during the reformation and some obviously subscribe to this view today. However, the majority view today would probably be that of the premillenialist mindset.

Secondly, as a premillenialist, we could be in essentially one of two camps. A pretribulationist or a posttribulationist. A pretribulationist believes that Christ returns before the tribulation and takes out "raptures" the christians. They also believe that Christ returns for a 2nd time after the 7 years of tribulation. A posttribulationist believes the Jesus' second coming is an event that happens only once at the end of the 7 years of tribulation. After this, Christ sets up his 1000 year reign.

Hope this clarifies a few things for some who were wondering. There is a lot more depth here but I wanted to try to simplify rather than muddy the waters any further.

Blessings and enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Power of One

This morning I was reading from Genesis 18 and Abraham's plea for Sodom. It's amazing, isn't it, that Abraham's plea actually makes a difference. God tells him that he'd spare the city of Sodom if he found 50 righteous men. Abraham, apparently not satisfied with this, wonders about whether God would do the same for 45 righteous. God, again, agrees. On and on it goes until God and Abraham settle on the number 10. If there are 10 righteous, indeed, God will spare the city.

What struck me about this story is the power of one. One person, standing up for a city, crying out to God for Him to relent and not heep destruction upon them. One person, praying to God. One person, making a difference.

You and I can make a difference. You and I can do things that enable God to work. You and I can pray for our friends. You and I can seek God's help with this problem and that problem. You and I can begin right now. We can make a difference. Do it now!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New Location

The keys have officially been turned in to the, we have no place to worship this Sunday but our own. Because of this, volunteers and the contractors are working nearly around the clock to meet this weekend's deadline. Here's what's happening...

Tonight, Andrew and the band set up shop and played a short set of music to see and hear how things might sound. The good news-it all works so we'll be ready to go this Sunday. The bad news - it's a little loud so we'll have to make sure we get the sound toned down a bit. We'll figure it out. It's a new venue so we expect these sort of issues especially when it comes to getting the sound right.

Tonight, we also got started painting some bright "robin hood" red on the walls downstairs. It looks great, fun, and I'm pretty sure the kids will like it. We should be able to finish the first coat tomorrow and put a second coat on it on Saturday.

For those of you looking for an opportunity to help out, you can show up Saturday morning for either some painting or the fun job of putting together furniture. Take your pick - it all needs to get done.

Lastly, if you know anyone who wasn't there in the last couple of weeks, please help me get the message out that we are having services at our Wilson Ave. Campus (5440 Wilson Ave.) We'd hate for them to show up at the old location.

Thanks for all your help.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Voyage Church News

Here's the latest news from The Voyage church and Tower Coffee. I'm sorry I don't have any pictures to show you but here goes...

The carpet is being put down tomorrow. The tile is going in tomorrow and the lighting is finally done upstairs. In addition, all the upstairs windows are in and they look great! You can actually see out them unlike before - I never realized we had such an amazing view. Anyway, it's only Tuesday and we're making good progress.

Downstairs, things are moving along well too. Today, my dad spent most of the day cleaning carpets. The paint is mostly gone and so is the dirt. They look great and the whole basement smells even better. The nursery is just about done. After two coats of bright green paint, it looks like a really cool and fun room for our little ones. I think they'll like it.

Tonight, we primed the main hallway and about half of the larger room. We should be ready to paint on Thursday. Thanks to all those who helped out. Jim, Cindy, Mom, Dad, Kate, Jody, John, Phil, Paul, Al, Mary, Deb, Terry, Mitch, Kyler and everyone else whose offered their time these last few weeks. I greatly appreciate it. With your help, we're getting it done...

Monday, November 10, 2008

God Still Speaks!

As I reflect on what Pastor Jody preached yesterday, we can indeed rejoice in the fact that God does still speak! I for one rarely hear his voice because I can't sit still long enough to hear it. Yes, somehow I've been wired with a pretty short attention span (adult ADD if you'd like) and so I have a hard time with keeping my mouth shut or my attention focused long enough to hear clearly. Yes, I do hear HIM in small doses but it's never been the audible kind like Moses heard.

I wonder if we don't hear God in such crystal clear ways anymore (perhaps you do but I think most people don't) because we so easily turn to other places for answers for life's concerns. I mean, who else did Moses have to turn to? His wife, his brother? Perhaps, but he certainly didn't walk over to the bookshelf and grab a book that might answer his question or concern. He more than likely didn't go to where he typed in his question and was instantly rewarded with a solution to his problem. While some have looked for love in all the wrong places, maybe we as Christians look for answers in all the wrong places.

In football, the sign of a good quarterback is one who can survey the whole field over and against the quarterback who locks his attention on one receiver thereby making the task of the defensive player a whole lot easier. Still, that takes practice. Most of us aren't born with this trait. A quarterback needs to feel comfortable and needs to train themselves to look over the whole field.

And, unfortunately after the apple, most of us aren't wired to turn to God first and foremost. Our bent is towards the self and we rarely seek God's take on matters as a first priority. Like the quarterback, we need to train ourselves. We need to develop that habit to turn to God first, not second, third, or even worse - as our last ditch effort.

Make no mistake about it, God will speak to us. Perhaps the bigger question, and the most complex to answer is "Do we want to hear?" Do we really want to hear what God has to say? Maybe this is the real reason behind our desire to look elsewhere. We're afraid to hear what God has to say.

Just some thoughts to ponder. Think on these things...

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Voyage Church Update

Things are moving along. Thanks to all those who showed up this morning to help with putting together chairs and tables - you know who you are. Thanks also goes out to Paul for hanging the new lights.

This week will prove to be especially busy: We will be having workdays on Tuesday/Thursday, and again on Saturday. On Tuesday and Thursday, we'll meet from 7 to 9 PM. We have lots of priming/painting to do so bring your painting stuff. On Saturday, we'll be there from 9 until NOON for final painting/cleaning, etc... If you have some time in your schedule, please, please, please come and help! As the old adage goes, "Many hands makes light work." The lighter the better.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

God's Timing

As I read a portion of Genesis 15 this morning, I was reminded that what God promises, he will indeed fulfill. As you probably know, Abraham was promised a nation. Nevertheless, as the years progressed, things we're looking pretty dim and the prospects of a son were looking even less likely. It was at that moment of frustration that Abraham called out, "O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don't even have a son?" Out of this moment of frustration God affirmed Abraham for waiting and told him that "you will have a son of your own to inherit everything I am giving you."

Sometimes, we feel like God has promised us something, that he's led us down a path of his calling. Nevertheless, as in the case of Abraham, it's a place of waiting wherein God tests our patience and he tests our resolve. It's as if God is testing our faith. Do we really believe that what he's promised us will happen or not?

If your in the waiting faze right now, know that if it was God's voice that brought you there, God's delays are not denials. They are simply a way of God acting in his own good time.

Keep the faith!