better safe than sorry

I didn't want to say anything regarding Harold Camping and the May 21st prediction that Jesus would rapture the church and destroy the world. I never thought it was a hoax or an idea formed of malicious intent. I just thought the guy was wrong. But I read this article today about Mr. Camping's apology and just wanted to say a few things. A segment of the article says this:

Camping, who made a special appearance before the press at the Oakland headquarters of the media empire Monday evening, apologized for not having the dates "worked out as accurately as I could have." Through chatting with a friend over what he acknowledged was a very difficult weekend, the light dawned on him that instead of the biblical Rapture in which the faithful would be swept up to the heavens, May 21 had instead been a "spiritual" Judgment Day, which places the entire world under Christ's judgment, he said.

The globe will be completely destroyed in five months, he said, when the apocalypse comes. But because God's judgment and salvation were completed on Saturday, there's no point in continuing to warn people about it, so his network will now just play Christian music and programs until the final end on Oct. 21.

There's something to be said for just saying, "I was wrong. I'm sorry." and leaving it at that. My issue all along has been with his hermeneutic - his method of interpreting the Bible. His is inconsistent and he does something called eisegeses, where he reads his ideas into the text and then uses the Bible to support what he says rather than reading the Scripture and then basing your thinking upon what the Bible says.

It's really very important that we have a consistent way in which we study (observe, interpret and apply) the Bible. Because the stakes are quite high. The Bible is not a work of fiction. It's not a secret tome discovered deep within a mysterious temple. We don't need a decoder ring to figure it out. We need faith and the Holy Spirit. God made it really clear how to know if a prophecy is from Him: It comes true.

The recent discussion on hell and it's reality stem from the same issue: how to you interpret the Bible. While I don't have the time to address that issue, it is paramount that we submit whatever we teach (and are taught) to God's authority through the Bible. It's His revelation to us, not our understanding of Him which must drive our thinking. We so often get it backwards. We think we understand God and so read the Bible to support our argument rather than look to God and say, "Help me know you truly."

A follower of the May 21st movement said this:

"I was doing what I've been instructed to do through the Bible, but now I've been stymied. It's like getting slapped in the face."

That is so very sad. This man had been taught error and he lived it out. There's a reason James 3:1 says, "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgement." What we teach matters. Anyone who says, "The Bible says ____" better darn well have his ducks in a row or people get hurt.

We'll see what happens October 21st. Maybe the Lord comes back that day. More than likely not, but I don't trust in likelihood and predictions. I trust in the Lord. And He told me that no one knows the day or hour of His return. Why would He have said that except that folks would try to tell us the opposite and He knew I would need to conform my thinking, my hopes and my life to His Word and not the words of a kind, well intentioned, but incorrect fellow human.

I am upset at Mr. Camping because he taught error and hurt a lot of people in the process. But I'm not angry with him; I don't hate the man. God is not mocked and He does not lie. We humans can say all kinds of silly things and it doesn't change the God who cannot change. It doesn't damage God's reputation when we are dumb. It doesn't neuter Him or thwart His purposes. It does not make God less or reduce Him or hurt His feelings. Though we often think to the contrary we cannot stop God from doing what He wants to do. No amount of bad press will hinder His return. But what we say matters, especially when we say God said it and He didn't. That makes us the liar, not God. It serves as a humbling reminder to be very, very careful what I teach when I say I'm teaching the Bible.

Paul gave Timothy this solemn warning:

Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth. (2 Tim 2:15 Amplified Bible)

May the Lord help me do just that.


stay tuned

I've been reading through Romans and, like every time I read through Romans, I'm just blown away by God.

It's always dumbfounding to me how people so easily dismiss the existence of God, much less the salvation He so mightily achieved for us. Maybe more people need to read Romans. But that's not what I wanted to say today...

So I'm chugging along and get to chapter 12 which has maybe the biggest "Therefore" in the Bible. After all that Paul has said, it comes down to this: : Live the God life.

Really live it. Don't fake it, live it. It's the real deal. I love how The Message puts 12:9-10

"Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle."

Practice playing second fiddle. Wow.

Being a Missionary is a strange job. It is particularly strange in Guatemala because there have been lots of missionaries who have done way cooler things than I am doing and have lived way harder lives and yet there are still a lot of missionaries here. Does Guatemala need missionaries? Yes. I mean, if I say "no" I have to move so, we'll go with "yes".

But here, in a land full of needs, missionaries get lifted onto silly pedestals. And we get this sort of status that is nothing short of...well, silly. It's a title and an honorable one. But you know what connotation it carries: helper. doer. bringer of things (money, teaching, supplies, etc.). The only problem is that often, Guatemalans expect me to to what they must do. They want me to disciple their churches - but that's not my responsibility. My job is to disciple leaders and then they are to disciple their churches. My job is to play second fiddle to them, helping them carry the melody as God conducts the great Orchestra that is His Church.

Practice playing second fiddle. Can I tell you that sometimes I get out of practice? Sometimes I forget the pedestals are silly and think, "Wow, I really must be something." You know what the conductor calls a 2nd violin who plays out of turn? Disruption. Commotion. Noise.

It's easy to forget your place when you let the world influence your thinking. It's easy to forget the joy of harmony. When I don't let God conform my mind to His, I get out of tune and everything is...off. I think myself better, bigger, smarter than I am. I forget that it's about what God has done. He's the conductor, composer and creator of all the instruments and all the players in His orchestra and forgetting that skews my perspective.

So how do you practice playing second fiddle? You serve. You let God set your perspective and you love "from the center of who you are." It's a good job, second fiddle. I just need to stay in tune.