Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May 21st – The Day of Judgment?

Popular media is buzzing with a prediction that the end of the world is coming on October 21st and that May 21st will be the Day of Judgment and Christ’s return. The Bible teaches that no one knows the day or the hour that the Son of Man will come again (Matthew 24:36) so it would be unlikely that the prediction is true. However it is true that Christ will come again and he tells us to live like we are ready for his return at any time

I used to have a professor in college who would have pop-quizzes in woodwind class. That meant that at any time you could be called upon to play the chromatic scale on the clarinet and for every mistake you made your grade would go down by one letter. It was made all the worse because everyone in the class would be watching and no one knew who would be called on to play. Needless to say we all spent many hours practicing clarinet so to avoid the utter embarrassment of making mistakes.

Christ’s return is unpredictable like a pop quiz but so much more important. This is eternal life and God’s final judgment we’re talking about. Our own goodness counts for nothing in God’s grand plan. It is our trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins that is the righteousness which will get us to heaven. So we need to be sure that we know Jesus and then live like him, walking in obedience to his commands. What was Christ’s main command? Love one another. Is that Simple? Not really. But that is the sign of Christ in our life.

So on May 21st spend the day showing the love of Christ to everyone you meet. The Jesus in you is the best advertisement we have for the truth of the Gospel in this world.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Voice of Hope

Recently at the Council of Bishops meeting in St. Simon’s Island, Georgia we heard testimony from Bishop Boni of the Cote D’Ivoire Annual Conference about the violence that was happening because of the civil unrest over the presidential election. The bishop recounted how for days there was continual bombing and shooting and everyone was in constant fear for their life. At one point gun men came into the church where people were hiding. The people had to keep very quiet so the gun men would not find them. Among the group of people hiding were many women with babies. The babies had to keep quiet or the gun men would know their whereabouts and shoot them. They prayed earnestly that the infants would keep silent while the soldiers were looking around the church. God answered their prayer and for two hours they made no noise. The soldiers left and no one was killed.

Another amazing part of the testimony was the “Voice of Hope” radio station that the United Methodist church continued broadcasting throughout the constant bombing. All other radio stations and phone lines had been cut but the UM radio station continued to play Christian music uninterrupted by God’s grace. The music and the encouraging word of scripture kept hope alive during this terrible ordeal. The bishop thanked everyone for the support of this radio station. It was indeed a voice of hope and it continues to air in Cote D’Ivoire as the unrest continues.

Please pray for our United Methodist sisters and brothers in Cote D’Ivoire. They have one of the largest churches in the world. Our UM presence is waging peace in the midst of war. Thanks to God for protecting Bishop Boni and his staff during this difficult time.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Love your Enemies: Thoughts on the Death of Osama Bin Laden

Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount: “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” He went so far as to say if someone slaps you on the cheek to turn the other cheek. When Jesus was being arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Jesus said “No more of this!”

The assassination of Osama Bin Laden is contrary to Christian teaching. He was our enemy. Did we pray for him? Was the act of killing him a sign of love? Obviously this is a very difficult position to take as it is radical. Christianity is radical, self sacrificing and counter cultural. Acting like Jesus is not popular. Osama Bin Laden committed terrible crimes against humanity. He should have been tried by an international court.

I believe that the assassination of Bin Laden will spur on a whole new wave of terrorism. This act surely has infuriated his followers and they will need to find a way to strike back. Violence breeds more violence and the cycle of death and revenge will continue indefinitely. How sad for the future innocent victims. Think how many innocent people have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11.

I believe this is a sad day with sadder times to come. Proverbs 24:17 reminds us “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles.” I pray for a day when we know in our hearts the futility of violence and the necessity of peace-making as our best Christian witness.