Making All Things New

Part VII of  “The End of the World as We Know It: The Book of Revelation”

Revelation 21-22

park city snowAs most of you know, I served a wonderful seven years at Park City Community United Methodist Church in the ski resort town of Park City, Utah, before coming to Tri-Lakes. Park City is a place where many people aspire to live, evidenced by the high median housing price of $1.3 million. We lived in a church-owned parsonage

It’s a beautiful place and when we were sent there I was more than willing to go and suffer for Jesus if it meant being able to get on a mountain bike trail without needing to get in my truck first. The church was wonderful and we still have a lot of friends there.

If you live in Park City, however, there is a sense that you’ve kind of “made it” in the world. This is where everyone wants to be, even if it costs a lot to live there. The church windows looked up at the mountains, moose were frequent visitors, the snow was epic for skiing, the summers glorious. It’s no wonder that many residents and visitors to Park City look at it as a little heaven on earth.

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Fleeing from the Wrath to Come

Part VI of “The End of the World as We Know It: The Book of Revelation”

Revelation 16; Matthew 3:1-10

general rulesWhen you join the United Methodist Church, you are asked a series of questions in the baptismal liturgy like, “Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?” and “Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?” These are good questions, thoughtful questions, but they are also fairly easy questions to answer in the affirmative (I’ve never had anyone say, “No, I actually embrace evil” when I’ve asked them the questions!). After all, we can cognitively understand that rejecting evil and resisting it is a good thing—it’s something even our government wants to do, though more with weapons than with worship.

But if you were to join one of the early Methodist societies started by the Wesley brothers, the first question you would be asked was quite different—one that is less about our ability to resist evil than about God’s ability to deal with it. As John Wesley put it at the beginning of the General Rules of the United Societies:

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A Trinity of Evil

Part V of “The End of the World as We Know It: The Book of Revelation”

Revelation 12-13

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 2.16.15 PMI was browsing the web this week looking at some books when I came across a web site titled “Books by the Foot.” For a bibliophile, that sounds like the way to buy books—by volume! When I clicked on the site, however, I discovered that this is a site that sells fake books for use on decorative shelves—you know, like in a hotel lobby or some such place. You can literally buy fake books by the foot, whether they are designed to look like old books, modern books, or law books.

There’s something wrong with this, however. Ever tried to pull a fake book off the shelf? It’s not a satisfying experience. It’s a parody of the real thing. What looks promising fails to deliver. Personally, I’ll take the reality over the parody every time!

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Left Behind? Rethinking the Rapture

Part IV of “The End of the World as We Know It:” The Book of Revelation

People suddenly disappearing, infrastructure collapsing, wailing people wondering what happened to their loved ones and why they’ve been left behind, apocalyptic signs in the heavens, antichrists running amok. These are just a few of images from the popular “Left Behind” series of books that also sparked a couple of bad movies, the most recent one starring Nicholas Cage—a movie that Variety called “irritatingly sanctimonious and doctrinally vague.”

left behind shoesThat’s an interesting choice of words. The Left Behind series is, of course, all about what has become popularly known as “the Rapture,” or the time when some Christians believe that God will suddenly evacuate true believers from the earth (leaving behind their clothes, apparently, which makes the Rapture quite a sight) and “leave behind” on the earth those who are unbelievers and evildoers to be subject to a “tribulation” of a thousand years of torture under the rule of the antichrist and/or Satan. Of course, other Christians believe that the Rapture happens after the tribulation, and there are lengthy screeds supporting or denouncing one or the other all over the internet.

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The Lion and the Lamb

Part III of the series “The End of the World as We Know It: The Book of Revelation.”

Revelation 4-7

Last-Will-and-TestamentRecently, Jennifer and I have been working on our estate plan—you know, the plan where you generate a legal document that decides where all your assets will go when you die. So, the last couple of weeks we’ve been talking about life without us in it and who, beside our children, gets all the property and finances that may be left over after we’re gone. After all, ten bucks is ten bucks!

We’ve been working with an attorney on this, and it’s really one of the very few times I’ve ever worked with the legal profession. I’ve had to learn a new vocabulary, learn how all the documents work, who gets copies, etc. Emails fly back and forth, documents get signed, all to register what amounts to our last will and testament.

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