Tag Archives: The Neighborhood Café: A Faithblog Community

What If Jesus Doesn’t Return?

by Michael J. Klassen

Well, tomorrow’s the big day. The uber-famous rock band U2 plays in my home city of Denver, Colorado, and for the big ending, Jesus is coming back.

How great is that?!? A combination of heaven on earth followed up by an earth to heaven.

Of course, two things could turn the evening into a downer. First, the outdoor concert could be cancelled. Or more so, Jesus doesn’t return.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave the last few months, you know about Harold Camping’s prediction that Jesus is returning on May 21. For a little refresher, you can read my recent post about the coming event. Camping is the former civil engineer and current owner of Family Radio. According to his calculations, Judgment Day is tomorrow.

If Jesus chooses not to follow Camping’s prediction, I’ll be disappointed for a number of reasons:

Jesus isn’t coming back. Living in this world is okay, but heaven is going to be so much better. No more pain and sorrow. No more $100 fill-ups at the gas station. I can eat as much as I want. But seriously, we’ll be in God’s glorious, unhindered presence. People who fear that they’ll be bored in heaven don’t have a clue how much better it will be. I admit that all too often, I focus all my attention on this present life: paying the bills, working hard, raising my kids. And, I allow temporal, unimportant things to stress me out. Eternity, on the other hand, is…forever.

Lives will be shattered. I can’t help but think about the many people who invested their life savings to warn people about Jesus’ return. If Jesus doesn’t come back, how will they rebuild their lives? The embarrassment alone would be overwhelming. Some quit their jobs and lived on their life savings to warn others. When they apply for new jobs, and their prospective employer asks them why they left their previous job, what will they say? Without a doubt, some people will become embittered by the experience.

The Christian faith will be mocked. Antagonists of the Christian faith will be given one more reason to point their fingers at followers of Christ and laugh. Over the last few weeks, atheists have been making fun of Camping’s ardent followers and using it as evidence of the ridiculousness of our faith. Here’s one example.

Excuse me for moment while I rant: The part that sticks in my craw is Camping’s claim that “the Bible guarantees” the date of Jesus’ return. Really? Where? And why, after 2000 years, did he crack the code, while St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Pope Benedict (an extremely astute theologian) and other theological luminaries missed it? Amazing.

Nevertheless, if Jesus doesn’t come back, it isn’t the end of the world. Life will go on. In fact, our faith will continue. Fortunately, the future of our faith isn’t dependent upon the its followers. Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18). Sadly enough, this isn’t the first time he’s had to deal with apocalyptic naysayers. People have been predicting the end of the world since the beginning.

The one encouragement I take in this non-event is that people still believe. Deep inside, we know this earth isn’t our home. Big screen TVs and iPads still don’t fill the God-shaped void inside.

Michael serves as co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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Why You May Not Want To Be Rich

One of the perks of writing a blog is that you can go behind the scenes to monitor the viewing habits of your readers. Every day, I can monitor how many hits our blog receives and what websites pointed them in our direction. I can also see the phrases that brought people to the A Daily Bible Conversation.

One search engine phrase has recently introduced people to our blog: “Psalms to win the lottery.” Apparently, people are opening their Bibles to the Psalms in the attempt to strike it rich. Somehow, our July 17 blog post entitled “How To Win The Lottery Without Doing Anything” found its way into at least one search engine.

Right now the Mega Millions lottery drawing set for tomorrow night in my state is US$123 million. Sometimes while I’m driving and I pass a billboard advertising the lottery, I wonder to myself, What would I do with $123 million? I could:

  • Retire and travel the world
  • Buy a minor league baseball team
  • Pay off all my debt
  • Take my family on a vacation to Fiji
  • Start a philanthropic organization that gives generously to various charities
  • Form a church planting organization that plants churches around the world

Surely the people using the Psalms to determine their lotto numbers are dreaming of something along these lines. But really, I’m not sure I want to be rich.

Please join us in today’s daily Bible conversation to discover why.

THE NEIGHBORHOOD CAFÉ IS COMING SOON

Beginning January 1, the format of A Daily Bible Conversation is changing. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, you’re invited to join us for a cup of coffee and conversation at The Neighborhood Café: A Faithblog Community. The focus will be to explore, in creative ways, the intersection between faith and life. Although every post will be a little different, they will all be undergirded by Scripture. Eugene and I are also excited to introduce to you a new contributor: Jadell Foreman. Jadell has extensive experience as a writer and sincere follower of Jesus. I’m sure you will receive her as warmly as you have received Eugene and me.

If you receive this as an email and you choose to opt out of this continuation of A Daily Bible Conversation, be sure to click unsubscribe at the bottom of your email before the end of the year.

TODAY’S READING

Nahum 1:1-3:19
Revelation 8:1-13
Psalm 136:1-26
Proverbs 30:7-9

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Nahum 1:1-3:19. Nahum is one of the more obscure books of the Bible. Little is known about the prophet, except that he comes from the town of Elkosh. Based on his prophecies concerning the fall of Thebes and the fall of Nineveh, scholars speculate that this specific prophecy occurred sometime between 663 and 612 B.C. This would make him a contemporary of King Josiah, Zephaniah, and Jeremiah. Apparently the people of Ninevah forgot Jonah’s message from 100 years before.

Revelation 8:1-13. The prayers of the saints ascend to God along with incense. What a great description of prayer!

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends! Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: http://www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

John and Sharna Coors are an amazing couple. The great-grandson of brewing magnate Adolph Coors whose brewery eventually became Molson Coors Brewing Company, John now serves as President and Chairman of CoorsTek. Years ago, his company invented the aluminum can. With seemingly limitless richness at their disposal, the Coors family has made an indelible imprint on my home state of Colorado. But few people have been able to navigate their wealth as well as them.

Rather than hoard the family riches, John and Sharna chose to channel their resources toward numerous worthy causes. Of their 10 children, 6 have been adopted from countries around the world. When the family gathers together, they look like an assembly of the United Nations. About ten years ago, the couple founded Community Uplift Ministries, which helps developing countries meet the physical, social, economic—and most importantly—spiritual needs of the poor. John once told me that his dream is to bring electricity to 100 million people in Africa. You read that right: 100 million people.

In my experience few people handle their wealth so well.

Stories of lottery winners are littered with bankruptcies, divorce, and drug abuse. Bernie Madoff swindled $65 billion through an elaborate Ponzi Scheme. Six days ago, his 48 year old son Mark Madoff committed suicide on the second anniversary of his father’s arrest.

While enjoying limitless amounts of wealth sounds good, I’m not sure I could handle it. Agur, who contributed to the book of Proverbs, wrote:

Two things I ask of you, O Lord;

do not refuse me before I die:

Keep falsehood and lies far from me;

give me neither poverty nor riches,

but give me only my daily bread.

Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you

and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’

Or I may become poor and steal,

and so dishonor the name of my God.
Proverbs 30:7–9 (NIV)

The danger of poverty is that it may cause us to become overly fixated on making more money. Of course, that can also be a common pitfall for the wealthy. For this reason, Agur prays that he would be neither rich nor poor. “Give me only my daily bread,” he writes.

Interestingly enough, Jesus quoted Agur when he gave us what we call The Lord’s Prayer: “Give us this day, our daily bread.” Of course, both Agur and Jesus were likely referring to the 40 years the children wandered in the wilderness, relying on God to give them their daily manna.

While important to function in our society, it seems to me that God doesn’t want us overly concerned with making money. If gaining wealth comes easily, fine, but being wealthy and “financially independent” isn’t the most important pursuit. I think people want to get rich to enjoy certain luxuries, but deeper than that, I think people don’t want to rely on anyone or anything. They don’t want to live at the whims of their employers and they don’t want to feel anxious whenever the economy goes south.

I think the greatest danger of wealth is that it removes the necessity of living by faith. Agur asked God to not make him wealthy or he might be tempted to say, “Who is the Lord?” Regardless of our circumstances, God wants to be a part of our lives. He wants us to look to him for our provision, just like the children of Israel in the wilderness who relied on him to provide their daily manna.

Of course, if God decided to pour an abundance of riches into my life, I wouldn’t refuse it. But I think it would scare me a little, because of what it might do to me.

God, make my prayer like Agur’s!

CONVERSATION STARTERS

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado

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