Thinking Out Loud

July 24, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Greater New Light Baptist Church, Los Angeles

Welcome to another installment of random links from Thinking Out Loud.  If you’ve been on summer holidays, the list has become the victim of a corporate takeover. We’re now at Out of Ur on Wednesdays, the blog of Leadership Journal, a division of Christianity Today. We’ve asked our Chicago-based new bosses to aim for 8:00 AM EDT !!

Check the list also for an explanation as to the above Church photo, aka “Fruitcake as building material.” 

Finally, since Out of Ur is borrowing from us today, we thought we’d return the favor with a link to this post:

Ultimate Christian LogoTwentyonehundred Productions is the InterVarsity multi-media team. They post an infographic like this each week on their Facebook page.  Normally, that would be the end of things here, but since historically, the Wednesday Link List began or ended with a cartoon, I couldn’t resist stealing borrowing one more graphic from them…

Oh Yes He Did - Intervarsity Infographic

December 21, 2008

Jesus’ First Coming: A Pattern For His Second Coming?

Filed under: bible, Christianity, Christmas, Jesus, theology — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:41 pm

I’ve been giving some thought today to two aspects of the advent of Christ:

  • The timing of His coming
  • The nature of His arrival

The timing of His coming

I’ve heard many sermons about the fact that before the time of Christ, we find what Christians call the “intertestamental period” wherein the prophets seem to be silent.   It’s a kind of ‘calm before the storm’ before Jesus breaks on the scene and teaches like no other rabbi or prophet ever.

Will there be a calm before the storm before Jesus returns a second time?   The voices (prophets if you will) of our day are being silenced.   In the east because of the rise of militant Islam or religious radicals in places like India.   In the west because of the rise of militant atheism or political correctness.     Could it be that the second coming of Christ will take place in a time where the voices of the prophets are not heard in the land?

The nature of His arrival

We tend to think of Jesus’ arrival on earth at Bethlehem, but really Jesus arrived so to speak when He began His public ministry.    You can date this arrival by His submission to John’s baptism and identification by John as “the lamb of God;” or you can choose the wedding at Cana or the beginning of His teaching ministry.

We tend to think of Jesus’ second arrival as being signaled by the sound of trumpets and his appearance on a white horse.

I am not, in the following paragraphs, suggesting that it’s possible that Christ has already returned and is alive and on earth now; so please don’t write me off as a heretic.

What I’m wondering is, if it’s possible for Jesus to embed himself here on earth somehow for a short period of time, and then, suddenly, there is the sound of trumpets, there is the appearance of the conquering King on a white horse (as opposed to the submission symbolized by the donkey the first time around) and every eye sees and every ear hears.   I say that only because that was the nature of His first coming.   There was a beginning in Bethlehem that preceded — in this case by 30 years — the beginning of His taking up His spiritual office.

Before you jump all over this and find it full of flaws, remember, at the time of His birth,  it is the belief of many commentators that nobody understood the “…then a virgin shall conceive…” passage as meaning exactly how we know today the story played out.   (Bruxy Cavey is a pastor and author who maintains the prophecy should be read ‘backwards’ to see how God was in control all along, not ‘forward’ to try to predict the future. ) (On the other hand, author and pastor Rob Bell teaches that every Jewish girl envisioned herself as being “the one” who would give birth to the Savior.)  Nor does this possibility discount the aspect of “being caught up to meet Him in the air.”

I’m just saying it would be most consistent if, in addition to the timing of His second coming following the pattern of His first coming; that the nature of His arrival should also include something that has an element of ‘process’ to it.   That perhaps instead of looking “up” we should be looking to the left and to the right.  Scanning the horizon for the Lion of Judah who has massed his forces, or, more likely, will mass his forces,  right here prior to that moment when every eye will see and every ear will hear.

Or perhaps it’s something closer to the more traditional view, but there is a physical presence — similar to the angels at Bethlehem singing ‘Glory to God in the highest’ — followed by the taking up of the spiritual office.   A period, a moment filled with signs in the skies followed by a dawning of the great significance of what is happening.  Only instead of it taking up to a year for the Magi to arrive on the scene bearing gifts, we have CNN carrying the event live.

Either way of course, it will also be a dramatic intervention into world history on a par equal to His first coming; but seen and known by everyone instantaneously.

The point is, ultimately we just don’t know.   However, though we don’t know “the day nor the hour,” we can know “the times and seasons.”   And we can be prepared.  Are you?


My point is to ask, “What if…?”   We read scriptures with many built-in assumptions, and I think we need to be challenged to think outside the box, without tossing out the basic elements necessary for the Grand Story to play out to completion.    Is it heretical to ask, “What if…?”?

September 11, 2008

When War Came To America / When War Comes to America

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:23 pm

Today being the anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, The Pentagon, and the failed attack on either the U.S. Capitol building or the White House, I searched for a U.K. newspaper front page that I heard was printed the next day, “When War Came To America.”   Instead I found this one.

In Buffalo, New York, talk show host Neil Boron had author David Jeremiah on today by telephone to discuss his forthcoming book, which has a prophecy theme.   Neil asked a question that I’d heard asked at a church service we attended at least ten years ago in Selwyn, north of Peterborough, Ontario.   The question is, “Why is America not mentioned in Bible prophecy.”   The answer that morning was chilling:  “Because it’s not there.”

Today, David Jeremiah offered another possible answer, but host Boron moved him off that answer by saying, “I’ve heard it suggested that it’s because of something cataclysmic.”   I immediately tensed up.  David Jeremiah didn’t miss a beat.  He said that the events of 9/11/01* showed conclusively that the U.S. is very vulnerable to attack, and even if the majority of Muslims don’t support radical jihad, that still leaves millions who do and would be willing to give up their lives to make a political statement.

I pulled in the driveway before the interview concluded; but frankly, I’d heard all I could contemplate for one day.   And now I’ve heard it from two very different preachers, speaking from two very different** places.   America in the future:  It’s just not there.

*In Canada, we do dd/mm/yy, so technically, 9/11 here was 11/9; though it never caught on.   The Canadian system makes more sense since the units go from smallest to largest, though the U.S. system is a reiteration of what we write in longhand: September 11th (month first).   Notice how I’ve distracted you from the topic at hand, but you now feel more relaxed thinking about something entirely trivial.   A lot of what goes on in life is like that.

**I think the first pastor was Rev. Gordon Lewis who operates something called The Mission of Tears, which works with Russian children; and lives somewhere in Eastern Ontario.   David Jeremiah pastors a church just outside of San Diego, California.   Not that doctrine is confirmed by geographical disparity.

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