Thursday, May 19, 2011

Judgment Day is . . day after tomorrow?

Regular readers of USA Today have been informed: THE day of Judgment, is this Sabbath, May 21! The 2nd full-page advertisement this week has appeared in today's edition of USA Today, easily the most-widely read daily newspaper in the U.S., and possibly, internationally as well. At least one other ad appeared several weeks ago, and I suppose if you were convinced that a great world-wide earthquake, sent from God, was to happen this Sabbath, then you might place another ad tomorrow, and, maybe even Saturday as well? The advertisement is interesting in that it doesn't give a lot of advice on what you're supposed to do, or not do, to prepare for the Day of Judgment; it simply encourages a 'humble and contrite' heart. I didn't see anything in regards to surrender to the Lord, accept Jesus now, etc., and that's good!

Why would that be good? Isn't accepting Jesus always a great thing to do? Yes, EXCEPT, under circumstances such as these. Accepting Jesus under the falsehood of failed prophecy, fear of death, 'turn or burn' theology, is not acceptance and surrender to the Lordship of Christ, it is self-preservation fueled knee-jerk reactionism. It's what animals do when they are fearful and recognize the danger: they run! The Gospel is something more, something more precious, something more transformational than a gimmick or ploy to be used as a tool of intimidation or a publicity stunt.

The truth is, I don't know the motivations of Harold Camping who is a fringe author and is credited, or blamed, for the ads announcing the end of the earth. Even the USA TODAY ads are a bit 'murky' in identifying the sponsor of this May 21 campaign as Mr. Camping. But the media has made clear, he is the self-proclaimed Doomsday prophet announcing God's prophetic time-clock will ring 'midnight' this Sabbath and this is not the first time he's made a similar prediction. I would assume he is sincere; but sincerity is really never a means by which to evaluate/determine rightness or wrongness, truth and error, fact or fiction. Some very real evil intentions and consequences, have arisen out of sincerity. Historians and biographers point out that Adolph Hitler was absolutely convinced that his divinely appointed mission was to exterminate the Jewish race, invade neighboring countries, seize lands and imprison or kill his enemies, and he did much of it, while confiding to associates, and lacing his speeches with the conviction that God had appointed him to this work. Admittedly, the May 21 Day of Judgment campaign is not the devisings of a Hitler-like mentality or convictions that are evil; but to some, it seems ego-driven, and fear mongering motivated. God knows this man's heart and I hope his motives and intentions are pure.

So; what do I believe will happen in terms of God's timetable this Sabbath? Nothing; nothing in terms of what Harold Camping believes will happen which includes the massive death of millions and the slower deaths, in the months ahead, of the unredeemed survivors of the earthquake. At least there doesn't seem to be the escapist theology of the secret rapture in this scenario, although, that's likely in the "fine print." The saved are whisked away this Saturday . . maybe? If you have interest, a good article on how Harold Camping arrived at the may 21 date is linked here:

What I can conclude is that God is aware of time and it's passage. He is aware that we long to be home with HIm. He is aware that their is much sin and suffering on this planet, and that there are many who do not know Him, and perhaps have not even heard the Good News. In other words, there is more work to do, before He comes. The signs and events that arose from the pen of a genuine Prophet, tell us that there are very specific events which will unfold just before Christ returns. Harold Camping seems oblivous not only to sound theological principles of study, and appropriate discernment of the Scriptural teaching on the 2nd coming, but also would believe that God's end-time message is focused on identifying a specific day, and 'scaring' people into a contrite, surrendered heart. That approach has never really worked; not for long that is. My regret is that once May 21 passes, and nothing on the order of what Harold Camping has said happens, we as believers in the Advent, and dedicated Christians of other churches, will be lumped together with those behind the May 21 hysteria - and viewed by some - as bizarre dreamers and fearful fanatics. These failed end-time date setting events damage the Mission. The cause of Christ is harmed, rather than advanced. In the old children's story, the Boy who cried "Wolf" was quickly written off as a foolish prankster; someone to be ignored, and when the wolf eventually did come, no one believed him, and no one wanted to hear his cries for help.
I've also considered that perhaps something DOES happen this Sabbath. Does a miracle worker arise "in the desert" performing miraculous deeds? If not in the desert, how about half-time of the NBA playoffs, or, on CNN Live? If so, even a small supposed miracle, of say, raising one dead person, or, cursing an Oak Tree and making it wither, or turning a stick into a serpent, would have all the world "wondering." We are starved for miracles and ripe for deceptive demonstrations that we are told will take place before Jesus comes.

Maybe, that will be what happens May 21. Maybe nothing will happen. AS for you and I, these are moments to study afresh what we believe, what we know, what the spokespersons of God both in Scripture, and from the Pen of inspiration have historically told us. I trust these sources; I do not trust Harold Camping's logic or conclusions. Neither should you!

Grace and Peace, for our confidence is in Him, and in Him, alone


Friday, May 6, 2011

Creation Evolution Seminar

Wow . . tonight is the 3rd presentation in the five-part series 'In the Beginning: Making Sense of the Creation Evolution debate.' My 'wow' is over the incredibly fascinating content of these presentations, being offered by Ron Clouzet and Tim Standish. The seminar is broadcast live, each evening, from the Madison Campus Church, and I have been serving in the role of program host, a job that has turned out to be far more complicated and stressful than I would have imagined. The stress factor is a consequence of the live TV broadcast aspect of the seminar. Timing each segment of my introduction, which actually has three components - address the Madison Campus group - then welcome the live TV Broadcast audience, then 'cue' to the broadcast audience for about sixty seconds where I speak to them only, before returning to the Madison audience AND the North American broadcast audience. Every transition including closing comments that I give, must be carefully orchestrated according to time, and very specific content that must be shared . . in terms of speaking to audiences, I much prefer the freedom and joy of pulpit preaching!

Happy to help, but I don't see a career in live TV moderation/hosting in my future. Hope some of you are tuning in each night, either via Direct TV, or Internet, to the seminar. It's a great series, striking at the heart of a very important debate within the circles of society, and even the church.

Have a great Sabbath. Tomorrow, I have the delightful privilege of participating in the ordination service of Angel Ogando, at Madison Campus Church. Wherever you are today, and will be tomorrow, Grace, Mercy and Peace . . from the only one who can give it; Jesus Christ our Lord.