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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Grab the Popcorn

I don't usually take the time to recommend movies on this blog, but in this particular case, I just couldn't resist.

The disclaimers that I give will clue you in right away that this is not your normal film. I will warn you that it is a documentary narrated by an Englishman. The film follows the lives of elderly adults in their 70's and 80's singing in a choir. Before you click to another site, you should also know this: they perform rock music- from groups like Coldplay, Sonic Youth, Crash, and the Beatles.

The movie is called Young at Heart, and if you can find it on your stroll through the local movie store, Redbox, or Netflix site, you will be glad you did. From the opening scene, these old-timers capture your heart and put a smile on your face. Something about this movie really connected with me in a deep way. I think it speaks about the need we all have in life to truly care about something. To have a passion that keeps us going and keeps us singing.

Give it an hour or two- you will be glad you did.

May it speak to you on your journey-

Nick

Monday, May 23, 2011

New Billboard

I guess the Doomsday bulletin board in Portland got changed this morning. This is what it looks like now:2011.05.22 That was awkward


Jesus does know- that gives me hope!

My your hope be in HIM today on your journey-

Nick


Thursday, May 19, 2011

It's the End of the World!

Or maybe not.
Or maybe it is.

Either way, you may have heard that a group of well-intentioned (I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt here) Christians has plastered signs and billboards around the country declaring that God will bring this world to an end at 6:00 PM on Saturday, May 21st. So, as long as you live a few time zones west of the International Date Line, you should have at least a bit of warning.

As I hear and read about this group, I certainly think about their apparent lack of knowledge when it comes to Scripture. We are told that Jesus' second coming will be as a thief in the night. Every metaphor and parable used depicts the surprise of the world. And Jesus himself said that only the Father knows the day or the hour. So, I must admit, the idea that we can nail down the precise date and hour feels at least ill-advised to me, if not down-right laughable.

But more than my observations of Scripture, I am curious about our response to this May 21st declaration. Some people, I believe, are led to genuine fear and concern. Along with the end of they Mayan calendar in 2012, doomsday prophecies seem to be more frequent these days. Hollywood has helped us imagine these events to be cataclysmic and deadly. If you find yourself in this position of fear, may I remind you that God holds the world in His hands. If and when it does end, it will be only at His command and in His way. For those of us who have found and placed our hope in Jesus Christ, this ought to fill us with great comfort and joy. The end of the world is only to be feared if it is a random event of unprecedented evil. We, however, have chosen to fear God. And if this is the case, the end of the world has no fear!

For others, however, these end of the world prophecies reveal a different side of the heart. Not only do we mock the idea that the world will end soon, we scoff at the idea that the world will end at all. If we are completely honest, we look inside our lives and realize we have no eagerness to see this life come to an end! This was what I found disturbing about myself this week: that though I questioned this doomsday prophecy for good reason, I also found no hope that it might be true.

You see, if we follow Jesus Christ, there ought to be a part of our lives, a big part of us, that hungers and desires to see this day come! The hope of heaven should so fill us that each day we long to see it come to be. I am not there, though I wish that I were. I find myself too content in the beautiful life God has given me on this earth. Have I perhaps forgotten, that all of this beauty is meant to draw me to Him and His complete beauty? Have I allowed myself to settle for mere shadows of the greater things to come? Have you?

So, while I am going to go ahead and prepare my message for this weekend, and keep paying my bills, I do want to live with an increasing zest and zeal to see one of these predictions come true. I pray that on your journey, you will find the grace and strength to do the same.

"But we are looking forward to the new heavens ad new earth he has promised, a world filled with God's righteousness." (2 Peter 3:13)

May it be so. Journey on-
Nick

Monday, May 09, 2011

A Different Take

I am back to preaching out of the book of Revelation at church. One of the great aspects of speaking from the final book of the Bible is the sheer volume of detail- it would be impossible in any one given sermon to cover the multitude of ideas and thoughts in a chapter. I thought I would take some time over the next few weeks and blog about some of the details I just don't have time to speak about, but that I find fascinating.

This weekend, the message was from chapter 6 (to listen, go here: http://www.easthillsalliance.org/#/home/current-series), which includes the description of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Some of you may be surprised to know that they do not play defensive line for Notre Dame. (For the non-sports fan, just ignore the obscure reference.) One such fascinating detail from this passage concerns the third horseman: this rider is given authority, apparently, to go out and be over famine or economic scarcity such that a loaf of bread will cost a days wages. And then we get this unique detail: but spare the wine and the olive oil. (Some versions say, "don't damage") What is this all about?

Here's my take after reading many different commentaries, all of which seem to disagree with one another and would undoubtedly disagree with me. God gives this rider permission to take away from people what they most needed to survive- basic food for sustenance- but to leave the more peripheral indulgences. While wine and olive oil were of great abundance and used frequently throughout the region, these commodities in and of themselves would not sustain life. If God has sent out these riders in judgment with the hope of bringing humanity to a place of brokenness, this makes total sense to me. By taking away what we really need and leaving what we only think we need, God would be revealing the foolishness of some of our pursuits.

I mean, think about it. How many of us if we had to give up grain or Facebook might actually choose grain? How many if we had to give up clean drinking water or our car might actually keep the car? We are accustomed to having so much, much more than we really need, that the idea of not having our basest of needs is tough to even imagine. I wonder if that is why the third rider is given this authority: take away what they really need in order to expose the triviality of what they want most. If Revelation is an unveiling- a new way of seeing the world- this would certainly accomplish it.

May the curtain of our lives be pulled back to see all of the ways in which we put our hope and our trust in stuff that won't last. May our security be in the Giver of Life alone.

Journey on-

Nick

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

A Hearty Yes and Amen

My uncle writes a weekly blog and I couldn't resist pointing you to it this week as he offers some perspective on the recent end to the Osama saga. It has been interesting to watch these events, and I think John helps put my finger on why. Take a few minutes to read:

http://www.johnstumbo.org/blog/index.php?/archives/243-Obama-Gets-Osama.html



Peace,

Nick