Monday, May 30, 2016


Early on in our study of Revelation I said the images we would read about are important.  They are taken from a Jewish "Image-Pool" and are reflective of John's perspective about life, his personal situation and God's desire to tell John all will be good in the midst of the suffering of John and John's people.  This situational perspective that God projects into John's mind is highlighted by the very first sentence of Revelation 21.  Here are a few of the things going on.

First, let's understand that John is in exile on Patmos.  He cannot come and go as he pleases.  In fact, he is under arrest and the island is his prison cell.  I am sure john desires to be free to preach and teach about the God he has come to trust for daily bread and for daily connection.  So in the very first sentence God tells John the new heaven and the new earth has no sea. The barrier (the sea) that is there every day will be gone when God creates "all things new."

Second, in Jewish imagery the sea is the realm of evil things like ghosts, spirits and a myriad of things that will do people harm. God also removes this evil, making sure John knows that God has eradicated all evil from the heaven of our eternal dwelling.

Finally, God accentuates (over and over) that what He is creating is new.  For all of our longing for the "good old days" I think God has something else in mind.  Something we have never seen ... something we cannot imagine ... something that exists only in God's perfection.  My prayer is that all who read this post will see this new creation and our Creator face-to-face.  May it be so!  Randy

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Unfamiliar

I just got a call from a friend who is dealing with a lot of changes.  She has had several life-changing events.  She is pretty aware that things going forward will be a journey into to unfamiliar.  I told her to take heart ... God's got this!

If we learn nothing from the Revelation we learn that God has it under control.  He has fought for and paid for our eternal salvation ... He has spoken an end to the work of Satan and his minions ... he has brought justice out of our poor attempts for non-Biblical "fairness" ... He has created a new place for His people ... and He will guide us there.  God has it under control and Isaiah expresses this fact in Isaiah 42:16.  God's exact words are ... "I will lead blind Israel down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way."

This is important in Revelation and in life because our inclination is to embrace the comfortable and familiar.  God's purpose seems to be in direct opposition to this.  My friend has had significant life changes and I think her desire might be for life to get back to "normal."  But I think God's desire is to get her life on His path.  Why?  Because His path has a purpose beyond our comfort or needs.  His path has a destination that is the perfect place for our new beginning.  His path will be productive and His grace will smooth the road and lighten our darkness.

My friend needs light and guidance.  She needs a smooth road. And she won't find either of these trusting in the idols and facades of this world.

Maybe we should embrace God's unfamiliar way.  It leads somewhere!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Lord's

"Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's." 2 Chronicles 20:15

I love this verse.  Jahaziel prophesied these words to King Jehoshaphat before the Battle of Ziz.  The prophecy is a reminder to us that while we worry, ruminate, wring our hands, complain and generally get "bent out of shape" we would be better off turning things over to God.  Why is this always true?

Remember, God knows the true enemy.  I believe church arguments and many of our political issues rise to an unnatural level of importance because we forget the true enemy and we think we must defeat "those people" on the other side.  I remember a story of a church with a column in the center of the building, way too close to the pulpit.  It had been a distraction for as long as people remembered.  Two factions had battled for years over what to do.  One faction wanted to move the column.  Another faction argued that there was too little money and that they couldn't afford the project.  The battle raged on for decades until the church changed pastors.  The new pastor was young and didn't know any better than to bring up the location of the column (and resurrect the battle).  After receiving ample information and venom from both sides, the pastor (while the church was empty) got a ladder and climbed up to the column.  He found out that the column wasn't even touching the ceiling.  The arguments, lost members, distractions and the "battle" had all been over nothing!  They forgot the enemy and, by their action, invited the enemy into the life of their church.

That battle could have been over before it started if the church had listened to God's way of dealing with church-related conflict.  The battle of Ziz was over before it started.  And the battle in Revelation 19 was won by a 33-year old Jewish preacher who, as God's only son, gave himself up for us so we could be confident that the battle for our eternal soul was won.  Twila Paris writes ... "The battle is the Lord's, and He will conquer all His enemies, with His right hand and His holy arm, He will obtain, He will obtain, He will obtain the victory."  Amen!

Sunday, May 8, 2016


There are days when I know I am blessed.  There are lots of little things that make a day of worship work. There are the obvious people ... musicians, music leaders and singers ... those that do announcements and prayers ... our beautiful acolytes ... ushers ... people that are part of the actual service.  We are blessed with good folks who take their work and service seriously.

But there are some people who never get noticed.  Those that prepare food in the kitchen.  Those that run sound and video.  Those that pick up the registration sheets and look to see if their are visitors or prayer requests.  People who follow up with our visitors and send cards to the sick or hurting.  Those that greet and show folks around.  Our childcare people who smile and keep our kids happy.  Sunday School teachers who prepare lessons.  Bell ringers who remind us it is time for Sunday School to end.  The people who collect and make sure the offering gets to the bank.  The people who make sure the acolytes are dressed and ready to serve.  People who check the color of the paraments tomake sure they are right for the season of the church year.  Those who pray on Tuesday for the worship service and other services at AUMC.

Today we even had some people who tried to catch a cat that had invaded the building.  One member even volunteered to bring a trap so we can catch the pesky beast and release it outside (I hope it works).

Every Sunday is a new adventure.  But I am truly blessed ... and AUMC is truly blessed ... that people pitch in and do what is needed.  Thanks to each of the obvious and unsung servants who make worship happen.  God is smiling at you!  Randy

Monday, May 2, 2016


None of us would be surprised to know that the Bible views this world as fallen.  All of us could compile a list of just how fallen the world is.  And we all have our "pet" list of what constitutes "fallen."  Here is the operative question though ... what does God think?  How does God define fallen?

In Revelation 17and 18 God does just that.  The idea of fallenness is defined by the nature of "The Mother of All Prostitutes" and "The Great City of Babylon."  There are themes within God's definition of why they are fallen and evil, but the primary theme is one of excess.  Excess indulgence of our desire for pleasure.  Excess expenditures on things that are luxuries.  Excess accumulation of the "fine" goods of our day.

C. S. Lewis said once that all evil could be expressed as our misuse of something good God has provided.  God gives us the blessing of our sexuality and we fail to see it as a blessing, instead seeing it as something we can "use" to get pleasure and misuse in ways God never intended.  God gives us medicine and we overuse and over-prescribe it, bringing more pain instead of healing.  We use alcohol as an anesthetic that takes on a life of its own, creating addiction and pain in lives and families.  God provides abundance and we view it as something that is "ours" and something we must have more of.  God gives us recreation and it becomes an industry which drives us to more and more recreation.  God gives us church and we make it ours instead of God's.  God gives us children and we begin to worship them rather than be good stewards of these wonderful little creatures we love.  You get the point?

I believe C. S. Lewis was spot-on with his statement about how we misuse good things.  What do you think?  Randy