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Praying For The Coming Of What Is Already Here

God’s people gather each Lord’s Day.
The now and not yet meet as we proclaim Jesus’ death and resurrection until he returns.
From Iain Duguid:

Yet while the kingdom of God came to earth in the person of Jesus more than two millennia ago, its final consummation remains our future hope. That is why Jesus taught His disciples to pray for the coming of the kingdom (Matt. 6:10) and to wait expectantly for it, even if it were long in coming (Matt. 25). God’s reign has begun, bringing with it peace and joy for His people, but we have not yet seen the new heavens and the new earth of which the prophets spoke. In a profound sense, with the coming of Christ, and especially with His death and resurrection, the kingdom of this world has already become the kingdom of our God and of His Christ (Rev. 11:15). However, we have not yet arrived at the new Jerusalem, which itself encompasses a new Eden, drawing all of human history to a cosmic completion. Though we cannot yet see it, the end of the story is sure. The stone has struck the feet of clay of the power structures of this age and begun their final fragmentation into dust (Dan. 2:34–35). For all their glory and proud posturing, the writing is on the wall concerning the kings and empires of this world – their demise is sure. The kingdom of God is the only kingdom that lasts forever.

Read the whole post here.

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Recognition (via David Cook)

This post from David Cook explores answers to the question “will I know my loved ones on the other side?”
His exploration of the Bible provides much reason for hope on this matter, all of which is undergirded by the “absolute certainty … that there will be no disappointment in eternity and that none of our expectations will be unfulfilled, rather it will be far greater than we could ever imagine.”

Read David’s post ‘Recognition’ here.

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No Need For A ‘Bucket List’ (via Randy Alcorn)

Randy Alcorn provides a helpful perspective on why resurrection life makes the notion of a bucket list redundant.

Here’s the beginning:

The term “bucket list” was popularized by the 2007 movie of that name. It’s an inventory of things people want to do before they “kick the bucket.” The idea is, since our time on earth is limited, if something is important for us to do, we have to do it now, because this is our only chance to do it.
This makes sense from a naturalistic worldview, one which doesn’t recognize any afterlife. It also makes sense from various religious worldviews that maintain there may be existence after death, but without resurrection and physical properties, and with no continuity between this life and the next. The one worldview in which the bucket list makes no sense is biblical Christianity.
Don’t misunderstand. My wife Nanci and I enjoy life—going new places and doing new things. I don’t believe this is wrong, nor is it wrong to list things you’d like to do if God gives you the resources and strength. But the “bucket list” mentality, that this life is our only chance to ever enjoy adventure and fun, is profoundly unbiblical. It disregards the teaching of the resurrection:

  • But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. . . . The earth will give birth to her dead. (Isaiah 26:19)
  • Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace. (Daniel 12:2 NLT)
  • We will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:52-53)
  • The Lord Jesus Christ . . . will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20-21)

Despite the centrality of the resurrection in Scripture and church history, many Christians have never been clearly taught its meaning, so they imagine they will live forever in a disembodied state.

Read the rest here.

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No Sea, But There Will Be A River (via R.C. Sproul)

I always maintain that my lack of affection for beaches is simply a matter of anticipated eschatology.
This excerpt from R.C. Sproul’s Surprised By Suffering reminds us that the future promise is really about what is present and what is absent, and the comfort that should arise from that expectation.
Scripture often speaks of the entire creation awaiting the final act of redemption. To destroy something completely and to replace it with something utterly new is not an act of redemption. To redeem something is to save that which is in imminent danger of being lost. The renovation may be radical. It may involve a violent conflagration of purging, but the purifying act ultimately redeems rather than annihilates. The new heaven and the new earth will be purified. There will be no room for evil in the new order.

Surprised by Suffering by R.C. Sproul is available to download the ebook free through August 31, 2014.

From Ligonier.

A hint of the quality of the new heaven and new earth is found in the somewhat cryptic words, “Also there was no more sea” (Rev. 21:1). For people who have a love for the seashore and all that it represents in terms of beauty and recreation, it may seem strange to contemplate a new earth without any sea. But to the ancient Jew, it was a different matter. In Jewish literature, the sea was often used as a symbol for that which was ominous, sinister, and threatening. Earlier in the Revelation of John, we see the Beast emerging from the sea (Rev. 13). Likewise, in ancient Semitic mythology, there is frequent reference to the primordial sea monster that represents the shadowy chaos. The Babylonian goddess Tiamat is a case in point.
In Jewish thought, the river, the stream, or the spring functioned as the positive symbol of goodness. This was natural in a desert habitat where a stream was life itself. If we look at a relief map of Palestine, we see how crucial to the life of the land is the Jordan River. It cuts like a ribbon through the heart of an arid and parched land, connecting the Sea of Galilee in the north with the Dead Sea in the south.
The Mediterranean coast of western Palestine is marked by rocky shoals and jutting mountains. The ancient Hebrews did not develop a sea trade because the terrain was not suitable for much shipping. The sea represented trouble to them. It was from the Mediterranean that violent storms arose.
We see this contrasting imagery in Psalm 46. The psalmist writes: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling” (vv. 1–3). Then he adds, “There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God” (v. 4).
I live in central Florida. Our area is sometimes described as “the lightning capital of America.” The summer months bring severe electrical storms. My grandchildren are frequently frightened by what they call the “booming.” The loud thunderclaps are not a part of what they would envision heaven to include.
But the Jews feared other problems from the sea besides turbulent storms. Their traditional archrivals, marauders who beset them countless times, were a seacoast nation. The Philistines came from the direction of the sea.
The Jew looked to a new world where all the evils symbolized by the sea would be absent. The new earth will have water. It will have a river. It will have life-giving streams. But there will be no sea there.

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Desire And Comfort: The Returning Lord Who Is Never Absent (via Marilyn Robinson)

Superbly written and evocative Advent themed reflection on a theme from Zephaniah by author Marilyn Robinson.
Read the whole thing here, but this is the concluding half.

The prophets tell us that we are contained in an ethical cosmos. Choices have consequences. These are not, in the overwhelming majority of cases, choices we make as individuals, though in the degree that we are all open to the suasions of fear and hatred, or of greed and oppression, we are guilty of the evils that follow from them. Then the recoil of divine justice is the effect of the very contempt for divine justice that implicates humankind in its own suffering.
But the God of Israel does not leave the matter there. His grace is the sacred difference between the grim story we could tell ourselves about the shadow war of human nature against everything that deserves the name wellbeing, and the story the prophet and the psalmist tell of the new heaven and new earth somehow forever implicit in this wronged and profoundly good Creation. The Lord is in our midst. Rejoice in the Lord always, reads the epistle for this week.
According to the Christian proclamation, God as man lived quietly in the world for more than thirty years before he called his first disciple, drawing no attention to himself or to his presence with us. His voice was not heard in the street. We must assume that sunlight was no lovelier those thirty years, or time less inexorable. The Romans, who made synonyms of order and desolation, tramped the roads of his holy Judea. If we take it to be true that he walked in the cool of mornings and the breeze of evenings among Adam’s children, who were at no special pains to hide their transgressions from him or to put a gloss of piety on the good they did, and that he saw them sometimes comfort the lame and welcome the outcast, as people will do, then surely he rejoiced in them, and in the unutterable good he intended for them. Still, every day was like any other day through those thirty years, miraculous and God-haunted as the world was in the beginning, is now, and always will be.
The Lord is near. We know not the day nor the hour of his coming because he is with us always, every day and every hour.
Our God-haunted world by Marilyn Robinson at Journey With Jesus.


Harold Camping On The Real Date Of Judgment Day (via CNN Religion Blog)

Proverbs 26:11
From the CNN Religion Blog

Camping had kept a low-profile since Saturday, the day he had forecast for the return of Jesus Christ to Earth. He and his devoted followers have been warning for months that on May 21, a select 2% to 3% of the world’s population would be taken to heaven. Those left behind would face months of tribulation before perishing in the Earth’s destruction, which Camping said would happen on October 21.
This is the basis for his new prediction, which Camping claims is not new at all. He told listeners on his Family Radio broadcast Monday that God is “loving and merciful,” and had decided not to punish the humanity with five months of destruction.
But he maintains that the end of the world is still coming.
“We’ve always said October 21 was the day,” Camping said during his show. “The only thing we didn’t understand was the spirituality of May 21. We’re seeing this as a spiritual thing happening rather than a physical thing happening. The timing, the structure, the proofs, none of that has changed at all.”

Read the whole post.


Rapture Humour

Whenever someone makes a prediction about the exact timing of ‘the rapture’ you really wonder if they’ve been paying attention.
As Matt Viney put it on his blog:

I just wish people like Harold Camping and his ilk would come to understand that Jesus said ‘no-one knows that day or the hour’ of his return. It will be like a thief in the night. Thieves normally don’t erect billboards to advertise when they’re going to break into your house.

Such predictions are an open invitation to find an amusing side to rapture predictions.

The CNN Marquee blog posts a list of suggested songs to play as the world as we know it ends.
While you’re listening you may wish to have your final meal. CNN’s eatocracy blog is conducting a poll of people’s preferences for their final (pre-rapture) repast.

A quick reference back to my post from last year about post-rapture pet care.

Dork Tower (two posts in one week, I know) revisits an oldie, but a goodie.


And, finally, perhaps the best rapture inspired bumper sticker ever.