Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Time to ride

Earlier this month I took my old Trek to the bike shop for repairs, $140 later I was good to go... I forgot how much I enjoy the greenbelt, a trail here in Kingsport - the trailhead pictured above. I throughly enjoy the pleasing smells of honeysuckles, fresh cut grass and nature this time of year. The occasional sighting of a turkey or a deer crossing the trail, and the rare appearance of a red-tailed hawk along Reedy creek catching a little lunch, keeps the trail interesting.

I gave up riding a couple of years ago when we stated back at the gym. I didn't feel like I had time to ride & workout. This week I have to choose between the gym or the trail, but next week I'll have a little more time on my hands to do both.

I admit, looking around my 1/2 packed office, it's a little strange knowing & not knowing what our future holds. For those of our friends who haven't heard, we are making a transition in ministries. This Sunday concludes my responsibilities at NE, what's next is still unknown.

What will I do with my summer? As I prayerfully send out resumes and hang out my fleece, I will get caught up on some much needed rest. I admit, I feel like I've run a marathon and then jumped on a treadmill. So, I look at a little time off as a gift from God.

Drew is coming in for a visit, he and I will hike the Appalachian trail for a few days; I'm super excited about that. Tammy & I plan to take the little guys to DC sometime this summer. Maybe Zach & I can play chess more often too.

I have a couple of writing projects I've neglected that I hope to revive; in fact I plan to dedicate however much time to writing as I'd normally would preparing sermons and classes. I have a few books to catch up on in my free-reading time as well.

Time to sleep, write, pray, exercise/ride, be with family... oh yeah, and wait.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Is it really the end of the world...?

I have been inspired to address an issue by friends who are believers, and by some friends who aren’t. Thank you to all of my friends who have generated discussions based on the destructive crackpot Harold Camping, whether in person, or on FB.

In case you still haven’t heard, Camping has predicted the “Rapture” will happen on May 21st 2011, and the end of the world is then to follow in October 2011. Harold Camping obviously is a false prophet and has ignored Jesus Himself: “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32 ESV)

Quickly let me address two problems in Harold’s predictions (I don’t have a lot of time if he’s right. Just kidding) 1st of all, the Rapture is a misnomer. There is no “rapture” in the Bible as Camping and others have described. The Latin word for “caught up” in I Thess 4, “rapio” is where we get the English word Rapture; rapio is from the Greek, “harpazo.” There is no Biblical notion of believers being caught up, while the rest of the world suffers in a temporary probation awaiting the final destruction. When we are “caught up” in I Thess 4, that is the end of time.

2ndly, Harold is exactly the type of problem that critics of Christianity need to make their point: We have problems. We are a jumbled mess. We get things wrong. I personally have no problem admitting we need help. But, why would I want to give people ammunition to find fault, unnecessarily, by making claims that are obviously false? Jesus died for imperfect people, which I openly admit to being. Harold Camping, a laughingstock & rightly so, has just made our task of sharing the Gospel harder.

Christians backbite-in-fight, ect-ect, judge each other, gossip, in general embarrass each other, and probably disappoint God too. A vast majority of the New Testament was written addressing the dysfunction Christians get embroiled in... period. When Church leaders today molest children, and when believers act hateful to other believers over political party affiliations, is it any wonder why there are so many people skeptical of our faith? Before you panic as a believer, the list of our failings go on-and-on, and non-believers are intelligent -- they know all-too-well about the skeletons in our closet, even if we turn a blind-eye to them... As Paul once wrote, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called...” (Ephesians 4:1 ESV)

My answer to this debacle is that people need to look to Jesus, not at His followers. But there’s the rub; the way the world sees Jesus is through those of us who call on His name. This paradox is humbling: Jesus is perfect and I’m clearly not, yet the only way people see Jesus is through His Body of Believers... I want to scream at the top of my lungs “Don’t judge Jesus by us, His followers!” but I know it doesn’t work that way. As true as it is that we need to point people to Jesus, until we in the Church “convert” people to Jesus and quit trying to convert them to our version of Jesus, this problem isn’t going away.