Tag Archives: U2

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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Still Haven’t Found What You’re Looking For?

by Eugene C. Scott

Have you ever found something you weren’t looking for? It happened to me a few years ago when I accompanied a nine year-old boy on a search for his lost glasses, despite that he couldn’t remember exactly where he lost them. I went only to quell my guilt for not searching when we would inevitably go purchase another pair. On the upside, this particular nine year-old was a delight to be with even when searching for a needle in a haystack.

We parked my truck near the last place he remembered having his glasses—a long, winding walking path decorated with large river rocks and landscaping bark. The boy had lost his glasses on the way to–or at–or in the universe near–the new skateboard park that was about a mile from our house. I knew the path well and was naively picturing the most likely places to search. But the path had only served the boy as a touch stone, a tether to which he loosely tied himself while looping, wending, and winding to the park. But I didn’t know that at the time so I clung to the path searching every inch of its pavement.

“I didn’t walk that way,” the boy told me shaking his head.

“Where then?” I shrugged.

He pointed off the path to the rocks he had climbed and vaulted from. I searched the bushes around those rocks. Next we left the path entirely and hunted around a statue of a flying horse he had investigated. Then cut diagonally through a parking lot. But even that was not direct. He showed me how he had climbed over the sidewalk railing and dipped behind the dumpster and sauntered through a restaurant (I asked them if they had seen his glasses) and out the back door that let us out on the path again.

I shook my head. His route was truly random!

Back on the path, we peered under every weed in the spot he claimed he had stopped to chase a garter snake.

“I bent over to look at it and I bet my glasses slid off without me knowing,” he said.

I agreed and engaged in the search earnestly. But we came up empty and continued by scouring every dink and dodge he took off the path until we finally reached the skate park.

All the while, we had a fun conversation about snakes and any other nine year-old stuff that came up. He had definitely not taken a mathematically precise power walk and our search therefore, was not systematic. I observed even now, trying to be serious, the boy didn’t so much walk as bounce, light and airy with his feet only touching the ground for the fun of it. He taught me the names of various skateboard moves and I saw the familiar walking path as if for the first time. We spooked another garter snake and marveled at how fast they are. We talked about likely fishing holes in the river. We wondered what fun things we could do with the $70 to $100 his new glasses would cost to replace, if we found his old ones.

Reversing the Apostle Paul’s meaning “I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child” and I enjoyed every moment of it. Being a nine year-old ain’t so bad.

Maybe that’s what Jesus tried to get us to see when he called the children onto his lap and told his adult followers to have a child-like faith. Maybe the “kingdom of heaven,” as Jesus talked about it and lived it, is more than a “straight and narrow path” defined by rules and systematic searches and time lines and well-defined adult perceptions and ideas. What if the freedom Jesus promised his followers is better illustrated (and lived!) by a young boy turning his search for his glasses into another adventure? What if our pursuit of meaning and Jesus himself became a fun and loopy path? What if we never find what we are looking for because we are looking in the wrong ways?

On the way back from the skate park, empty-handed, I had pretty much given up the search. I was not surprised. I had begun the search thinking I would not find what I was looking for (to paraphrase Bono) anyway. So, as I walked, I looked down at the ground only occasionally, just because I should.

Then, nearing the point our search had begun, I glanced down and spied my nine year-old companion’s glasses sitting in the landscaping bark folded neatly as if someone had purposefully placed them there.

The boy saw them too.

He squealed; his face beamed; we high-fived. We danced around as if we had found Jesus’ “pearl of great price.”

“I was just praying we’d find ‘em,” he said. “Jesus dropped ‘em right where you were lookin’.”

Immediately my adult mind found a more plausible explanation for how the glasses ended up neatly folded where we had already searched. I wish it hadn’t.

Eugene C. Scott writes the Wednesday Neighborhood Cafe blog.  If you’re reading this on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com. Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO.

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The Secret To Rock Music Relevance And Shaking The Doldrums Off Your Faith

During its heyday, I wasn’t interested in listening to good old rock and roll. But as an adult, I’ve developed a fondness for the music I missed as a teenager. If it interests you, try to name a few classic rock bands that have remained relevant in the music scene.

Some that come to mind include Aerosmith, the Rolling Stones, the Who, and U2 (my personal favorite, although they wouldn’t be considered “classic rock”). I don’t consider myself a fan of all these bands, but I respect the fact that they continue to appeal to a wide selection of audiences. Their success and longevity can be attributed to their talent, artistic song-writing, and performance abilities. But there’s one more characteristic that any devoted follower of Jesus can learn from these men. In fact, it can transform their relationship with God.

Please join us in our daily Bible conversation to discover what it is!

TODAY’S READING

Jeremiah 49:23-50:46
Titus 1:1-16
Psalm 97:1-98:9
Proverbs 26:13-16

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Jeremiah 49:23-50:46. A sense of irony arises in Jeremiah’s prophecy against Babylon in chapter 50. Remember that in the previous chapters, Jeremiah referred to Babylon as a tool of God. He also encouraged Judah to submit to the Babylonian invaders or they would die. As a result, he was accused of being a traitor and after the invasion, the Babylonian army treated him well.  But here, he speaks judgment against them. Prophecy can be an equal opportunity offender.

Titus 1:1-16. Like Timothy, Titus was one of Paul’s young protégés as well as a trusted companion. Titus played the role of a trouble shooter in Paul’s churches, often left with the task of cleaning up church messes–which he did in Corinth (read 2 Corinthians 7-8) and now in Crete (Titus 1:5). Although he accompanied Paul on many of his journeys, he isn’t mentioned in the book of Acts, which has led some scholars to believe that he was related to Luke, the book’s author. Out of propriety, writers at that time often intentionally ignored themselves and relatives in their writings.

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THE WORD MADE FRESH

David was undoubtedly the greatest musical artist in the Bible. Not only did soothe King Saul’s troubled soul with his harp playing, but he also wrote countless psalms that churches sing 3,000 years after they were written. That’s nothing short of amazing!

David definitely wasn’t a one hit wonder—which is what he shares in common with the relevant rock bands—or groups of any genre—of today. Staying relevant in any form of music requires fresh songwriting about common (and often tired) themes.

In Psalm 98, David begins with the exhortation to “Sing to the Lord a new song.” The phrase “new song” is a common phrase in his lyrics, appearing six times in the Psalms: 33:3, 40:3 (the basis for U2’s song 40), 96:1, 98:1, 144:9, and 149:1. Admittedly, some of the aforementioned psalms go without a byline, but the fact that they resemble the psalms written by David lead me to conclude that he wrote them. At a minimum, they were written by nameless psalmists with David in mind!

But what’s the point of singing a new song? They give us a different perspective on God which revitalizes our tired worship.

I once tried to thank God for something different every day. After a week, I started running out of things that I was thankful for. But pressing harder into this pursuit opened new insights into the many ways God has blessed me.

Ten years ago, following a painful church experience, I wrote a book of prayers entitled Prayers To Move Your Mountains. In order to avoid falling into a rut of saying the same thing over and over again, I forced myself to intentionally think about the prayers I was writing. I meditated on God’s word, prayed about what I should pray, and I looked for new ways to express my heart to God. In the end, my wounded heart was healed!

If you want to break out of the doldrums in your walk with God, write a new song. It doesn’t need to be musical—just spend time meditating on God’s word, pray about what you want to say, and then look for new ways to express your heart to God. Write a poem, create a work of art, write a song or a prayer–something different that will help you break free from your rut.

I promise that it will open new pathways in your walk with God!

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. If you were to write a new song to God, what would you say?
  3. Would you like to share a “new song” with our daily Bible conversation community?

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

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Why Solomon, Bono, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and You and Me Still Haven’t Found What We’re Looking For

This year Bill Gates weighs in as only the world’s second wealthiest person. His personal worth is $53 billion. Carlos Slim Helu beat him out by a nose, a mere $500 million. Warren Buffet staggered in at a paltry third place, earning only $47 billion this year.

With that much money, there is nothing Gates and Buffet need. They are not losing sleep over the recession the way we do. They do not have to drive on balding tires, climb under the sink to fix a leak, or worry about their kid’s future. They want for nothing!

But in rock ‘n’ roller Bono’s words, they still haven’t found what they are looking for. Is this why both branched out and begun using much of their time, energy, and money in philanthropic ways? Gates started The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 and recently, with Buffet, challenged other billionaires to give away half of their wealth. Outside of being good, generous people, why would they feel the need to make even more of a difference in the world than they have already?

“Unlike the animals, who seem quite content to simply be themselves, we humans are always looking for ways to be other than what we find ourselves to be,” writes Eugene Peterson in The Message in his introduction to “Ecclesiastes.”

Solomon, one of the richest men in the world in his time, said it this way, “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

Ecclesiastes 1:1-3:22

2 Corinthians 6:1-13

Psalm 46:1-11

Proverbs 22:15

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

2 Corinthians 6:1-13: Paul’s main claim to fame is that he was a formidable theologian. But Paul also had a heart. Many times in his letters he expresses his love for the people he worked with and ministered to. “We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians,” he wrote, “and opened wide our hearts to you.”

Obviously, for Paul the gospel is as much about relationship as about information. The two cannot be separated.

Paul was also a poet. 1 Corinthians 13 is poetry straight from the heart of God. In today’s passage Paul describes his love for the Corinthians poetically: “through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown . . . ,” Paul expresses theological truth dripping in love and encased in poetry, what a concept!

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: www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

As I read today’s selection in Ecclesiastes, I pictured Solomon in a white lab coat, holding pen and clipboard, surrounded by test tubes and steaming beakers, with beautiful women holding piles of money in trays. Strange, I know, but this first section reads to me like a report from poetic researcher, who has set out to discover the meaning of life. Solomon has tested it all: “money, sex, power, adventure, and knowledge” and found it all wanting (Peterson, The Message). Now he is filing his report. “All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”

Unless.

My sister-in-law once tossed me a very hard question. “Is it eternally profitable?” she asked about some activity I was about to engage in.

That is Solomon’s question too. Then he leaves us dangling as to the answer. Solomon tells us that without God giving meaning to any and every aspect of our lives, “all things are wearisome, more than one can say.” But he does not tell us how to add God’s meaning to our daily routines.

I’m glad he doesn’t. It’s too crucial and complicated a question for a human to answer. I believe Solomon–and God–intended to leave us swinging in the wind. Because, only in our fruitless chasing and not finding, might we eventually run straight into the arms of God. “He [God] also set eternity in [our] hearts,” Solomon writes.

That’s why two of the richest, most powerful men in the world (Gates and Buffet) are still striving to make a difference, and as Bono and U2 tell us, still haven’t found what they are looking for.

Because it’s not here. Whatever eternity is, it’s too big, too beautiful, too grand to be contained in “money, sex, power, adventure, and knowledge.” Whatever eternity is, can only be found in the hand and heart of God.

  1. What do these for passages share in common?
  2. Can theology be expressed in poetry? Why or why not?
  3. What passage spoke most to you?

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

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