Some Disturbing but Hopeful Thoughts For Black Friday - Purity 898
Purity 898 11/25/2022 Purity 898 Podcast
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Today’s photo of the reflection of the sky in the waters on the shores of Kingscliff Beach in Adelaide South Australia comes to from Dave Baun Photography. Dave shared this photo with the news that it has been a week since his eye surgery and although the healing isn’t complete yet and recovery is hard because he can’t practice the craft that he loves so much, he still wanted to share this scene to point to some good news: that in the Land Down Under where things are sort of, well upside down from our perspective, the summer weather is returning. While we are just beginning to deal with the fact that winter is not only coming but is here in full force in places like Buffalo, Dave is experiencing the hope of increasing recovery and warm summer days.
Something as simple as a report from a friend on the other side of the world can really point out just how big the world is and when I look at today’s photo in Australia, I can’t help but to think of the television series “Lost” and the befuddled rock star Charlie’s question: “Guys, Where are we?”
Where are we indeed? This message is coming in late today because I have the day off I decided to “let the Lord wake” me and apparently He decided I could get some sleep as I woke up at the late hour of 5:30 am! So we start today with more rest than usual, and thoughts that are probably contrary to most in my reflections on yesterday’s Thanksgiving holiday.
You have to forgive my somewhat morbid outlook that I have at times. As a child of the late seventies and early 80’s, graduating in 1990, I was raised in the heart of the cold war with entertainment that prophesied nuclear holocaust, took delight in the works of Stephen King, and was eventually into music artists that had disdain for the hypocrisy of polite society because of its tendencies to “keep people in their place” and that restricted or judge the “free life” that we wanted to live.
The freedom a lot of my gen x contemporaries and I wanted was freedom from any restrictions or judgements of what we wanted to do, usually surround things like sex and drugs, but we also sought to make society repent of its former violent, racists, and materialistic ways. The nineties were like a reboot of the sixties as the Berlin wall came down and we had grand ideals of peace and peaceful easy living. But we also had that contrast of nihilism, because we had lived in the fear of nuclear holocaust for most of our lives and now that we discovered we might just have to live to see old age, some of us didn’t have a clue what we wanted to be when we grew up. I had spent so long living it up that I didn’t prepare for the future! When you live a good part of your life thinking “nothing really matters”, it can be quite a surprise when you realize they might.
One of the things angsty teens and young adults, traditionally rebel against is the institution of family, and yesterday I suspect that there may have been several Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving celebrations that had pride in how their gatherings differed from the traditional family gathering.
But you know what? For the most part, as much as we love our friends and as wild as the days of our mad existences may have been in our youths, as we move through life that those ideals and friendships of youth generally fade away and you see that what was so important for a few years in our teens and 20’s turned out to be the things that “didn’t really matter”. Don’t get me wrong, I still love all my friends from my youth but in terms of Thanksgiving plans for 2022, they didn’t play a part, and the thing that remained was “family”.
However in the landscape that divorce chisels into our society and our immediate experiences, even that can cause things to be “:upside down” from what we were used to. The Facebook photo of large “whole” family gatherings may be considered sweet or annoying from your perspective, but you have to admit that the brokenness of the traditional family has their appearances decreasing.
Year after year the changes can be subtle, but as the kids grow up and family members are lost to divorce or death, sometimes they can be quit jarring. Yesterday my step kids, from my second marriage, met with their father for “Thanksgiving Breakfast” that turned out to be lunch and while I of all people certainly understand the difficulties for meeting all those familial obligations of honor, something about the idea of a “Thanksgiving Breakfast” just offended me.
This wasn’t God’s plan for sure. I am sure these things weren’t our plan either but there they are. “Nothing spells dysfunction like “Thanksgiving Breakfast”. The hilarity and the absurdity of it actually caused me to google – “What did the pilgrims have for breakfast?” but as gleeful as I was to start typing out that malicious question, my heart sank as google started to complete the question as it often does when someone else out there asked the same question. And I was saddened and somewhat ashamed because I imagined that the question I submitted as a joke was possibly submitted in full sincerity as someone out there was desperately trying to create something “traditional” around their nontraditional gathering. “Guys, where are we?”
Another tradition that I enjoy is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade but even that staple of Thanksgiving tradition seems to increasingly be revealed for the materialistic ad campaign that it is and because it highlights current events and trends it reveals the moral slippage that our country has gone through since I was a child. Without being specific, let’s just say that some things on display during yesterday’s parade would have never been deemed as suitable for public consumption. Again, I have nothing really grotesque to point to because the grotesque ain’t what it used to be as what some would call progress could very well be seen as corruption from a Biblical world view.
And thus as I watched the parade yesterday the nihilism of old and the apocalyptic reality of Biblical end times prophecies came together and made me think of something rather macabre: What would happen if Jesus came back on Thanksgiving Day in the midst of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?
And at first my thoughts were of a Rapture, where a small number, probably very small (perhaps unnoticeable?), of the people would simply vanish, causing parade staff to seek to fill empty spots as the parade would just keep marching on…
But then I thought of a post Rapture, Revelation 14 return of Jesus Christ on Thanksgiving Day where God’s wrath would be poured out where there would be few if any men left standing….
Revelation 14:14-20 (NLT2) says
14 Then I saw a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was someone like the Son of Man. He had a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.
15 Then another angel came from the Temple and shouted to the one sitting on the cloud, “Swing the sickle, for the time of harvest has come; the crop on earth is ripe.”
…..19 So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and loaded the grapes into the great winepress of God’s wrath.
20 The grapes were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress in a stream about 180 miles long and as high as a horse’s bridle.
Yesterday, I presented a short teaching based on a devotional from John MacArthur about Enoch, and one of the things that Macarthur drew from the few Bible verses on Enoch was that he “walked with God” and He through naming his son Methuselah he warned others about the certainty of God’s judgement on the people of his corrupt moral society. MacArthur pointed out that even though Enoch knew he would never live to see the Flood that would come, he was still faithful to warn others about it.
People really must have thought Enoch was crazy, or at least a judgmental jerk, undoubtedly lecturing people of their moral failures and encouraging them to repent and trust in the one true unseen Creator God. But one day, because of His relationship with God, Enoch did not collect $200 and go directly to the grave, instead He was the first to provide evidence of the possibility of being “raptured”. We can imagine the theories that would have explained Enoch’s disappearance and I’m sure there were several quite reasonable and plausible ones. I can think of a bunch. But God through His word, reveals to us the truth about Enoch and a whole lot more.
God reveals to us what is right and wrong. Our society is lacking mightily in respecting His standard.
God also has revealed to us the Way to be at peace with Him, through faith in Jesus Christ. And our society, and even what some would consider the “church” doesn’t seem to have a good grasp on what that means either.
And finally, God tells us in Revelation of how this world will end but few seem to have confidence in being ready for that.
End times prophetic preachers vary in their predictions, but some will sell you disaster supply kits and most have been preaching for decades that Christ would come back at any minute. Their attempts to predict and “draw parallels” between newspaper headlines and scripture haven’t always been spot on and may even cause some to doubt the word of God because of their messages!
Me? I thought I had some prophetic giftings in the past, and sometimes I have instances of having the feeling that “God set me up” as I walk into good things or “God gave me a heads up” when I avoid bad things, but because of my “false prophecies”, ideas about what would of should happen in my life that didn’t come to pass, I am hesitant to prophesy anything specific about future events.
Instead, I unknowingly have adopted the stance of Enoch. I concern myself with my daily walk with God from day to day and moment to moment. But I also try to, as lovingly as I can, warn people to secure their eternal destiny by putting their faith in Jesus Christ, to live according to God’s standards for living, and to respect the word of God as true: to believe and to understand that Jesus is coming back. But like Enoch, I may not live to see Christ’s return from the perspective of the earth. I may be coming with Him!
But I don’t know about that one way or the other. But I do know that God loves us, and He wants us to make peace with Him and to enjoy our lives with Him. So, I hope the end times imagining of Christ coming back at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Judgement doesn’t freak you out but encourages you to see that God is holy and encourages us to be on His side when the wrath of God should come.
Ironically, all of this caused me to remember Green Days’ song, Macy’s Day Parade’s lyrics and feel that somehow they express the angst over the way the pageantry of the parade of life is inadequate to satisfy us but amazingly there is a hope for the future, that Billy Jo Armstrong may or may not know, lies in the person of Jesus Christ. The lyrics say:
“Today's the Macy's Day Parade
The night of the living dead is on its way
With a credit report for duty call
It's a lifetime guarantee
Stuffed in a coffin, 10% more free
Red light special at the mausoleum
Give me something that I need
Satisfaction guaranteed to you
What's the consolation prize?
Economy sized dreams of hope
When I was a kid, I thought
I wanted all the things that I haven't got
Oh-oh, but I learned the hardest way
Then I realized what it took
To tell the difference between thieves and crooks
Lesson learned to me and you
Give me something that I need
'Cause I'm thinking 'bout a brand new hope
The one I've never known
'Cause now I know it's all that I wanted”
I think I might have shared this song before. If I did I apologize. But even though things continue to change, some things remain the same. This world and our human relationships are inadequate, and were never intended, to satisfy us.
But I am thinking about what wasn’t long ago a “brand new hope” for me, the hope that only comes through Christ alone. Jesus gives us the hope of peace in our lives on earth and the hope for everlasting life from here to eternity. He is our only hope.
And even though speaking on the moral standards and the reality of an end time judgement may be offensive, I have to tell you about them with the hope that it will cause you to discover the hope that I have found in Jesus Christ.
Everyday, I’m walking and talking with God and life is good. Every day, I’m think about a brand new hope, the one I never knew, cause now I know, after years of suffering and searching, I know it’s all that I wanted or could ever hope to have.
God bless you and keep you on this Black Friday and as you go to work or prepare for Christmas, I pray that you know the hope of Jesus and seek to share it with others.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.
(An Interpretation of Matthew 10)
“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were ill-treated and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest’ ” (Matt. 9:35–38).
The gaze of the Savior falls in pity on his people, on God’s people. It could not be enough for him that only a few people heard his call and followed him. He could not consider isolating himself aristocratically with his disciples and transmitting to them in the manner of great founders of religions the doctrines of higher knowledge and more perfect way of life separated from the mass of the people. Jesus had come; he worked, and he suffered on behalf of his entire people. And though the disciples wanted to have him all to themselves, and tried to keep distant from him the nuisance of the children who were brought to him and of some poor beggars on the side of the road (Mark 10:48), they had to acknowledge that Jesus would not permit his ministry to be limited by them. His gospel of the kingdom of God and his power to save belonged to the poor and sick, wherever he found them among his people.
The view of the crowds, which perhaps prompted disgust, rage, or contempt in his disciples, filled Jesus’ heart with deep pity and grief. No reproaches, no accusations! God’s beloved people were lying ill-treated on the ground, and the guilt for this fell on those who were to serve them with God’s ministry. It was not the Romans who had brought this about, but the misuse of the word of God by those called to be ministers of the Word. There were no more shepherds there! Jesus found God’s people to be a flock which was not led to fresh water, whose thirst remained unquenched—sheep, whom no shepherd protects from the wolf, battered and wounded, terrified and fearful under the hard staff of their shepherds, sheep lying on the ground. Questions, but no answer; need, but no help; consciences kept in fear, but no liberation; tears, but no consolation; sin, but no forgiveness! Where was the good shepherd this people needed? What did it help here that there were scribes, who drove the people into the synagogues by brute force? What did it matter that zealots of the law harshly condemned sinners without helping them? What did it matter that the most orthodox preachers and interpreters of the word of God were present, if they were not filled with all of the mercy and all of the grief over the abused and ill-treated people of God? What use are scholars of Scripture, pious followers of the law, preachers of the word, if the shepherds of the church-community themselves are missing?
¶ The flock needs good shepherds, “pastors.” “Feed my lambs” is Jesus’ last command to Peter. Good shepherds fight for their flock against the wolf and do not flee. Instead, they give their lives for the sheep. They know all their sheep by their names and love them. They know their needs and their weaknesses. They heal their wounds, giving drink to the thirsty and lifting up those who are in danger of falling. They feed them gently and not harshly. They lead them along the right path. They seek the single lost sheep and bring it back to the flock. The evil shepherds, however, rule by violence; they forget their flock and tend to their own affairs. Jesus is looking for good shepherds, and behold, there are none to be found.
That saddens his heart. His divine pity embraces this lost flock, the mass of people around him. From the human point of view, it is a hopeless picture. But it is not hopeless for Jesus. Here, where God’s people stand before him ill-treated, miserable, and poor, Jesus sees God’s field ripe for harvest. “The harvest is great!” It is ripe to be brought into the barns. The hour has come that these poor and miserable people are brought home into the kingdom of God. Jesus sees God’s promise dawning over the masses of people. The scribes and zealots of the law saw only a trampled, burned, battered field. Jesus sees the ripe, waving field of grain for the kingdom of God. The harvest is great! His mercy alone sees that!
Now there is no time to lose. Harvesting cannot be delayed. “But the laborers are few.” Is it a miracle, since this merciful gaze of Jesus is given to so few? Who could enter into this work, besides those who have won a place in Jesus’ heart, who have received from him eyes that can see?
Jesus is looking for help. He cannot do this work alone. Where are the workers to help him? God alone knows them and must give them to God’s Son. Who would dare to take the initiative to offer to be Jesus’ helper? Even the disciples do not dare to do so. They are to ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers at the right hour, for it is time.
Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship