The Last Pope: Is the end of the world near?

It’s hard to believe I’m posting another “end-of-the-world” article in here. Before the sun rose on the Western hemisphere, the news services had not only announced the Pope was resigning–the first since AGES past–but also that according to an ancient prophecy, the next Pope would be the last.

Yep, that’s right–there are only so many (112) Popes in the pipeline (or Popeline, if you will) and Pope Benedict was number 111. St. Malachy’s papal prophecies suggest that the last Pope (#112) will be “Peter the Roman, who will nourish the sheep in many tribulations; when they are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people. The end.”

The Catholic church at large doesn’t put a lot of stock in this, but privately some believers are concerned. For instance, if the next Pope is really named Peter (like Peter Turkson, Cardinal of Ghana) the spiritual tension will go even higher. If the next guy is long-lived, this fear could span a generation or two (or three, if he takes office at a young age.)

I’m beginning to think that maybe we want the end to come. I mean really, the failed Preacher prophecy, the Mayan Apocalypse, two near-miss asteroids (the second happening tomorrow–Feb 15), and now…well, “May Thy kingdom come!”

I think I’ll go review the red letters.

Then I’ll pray.

For a useful little study guide on the Lord’s Prayer, go see: www.therealprayer.org

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Published in: on February 14, 2013 at 8:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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King of Israel

On my morning commute during the holiday season, I listen to Christmas carols. With the exception of some new R&B almost-quasi-emotive-christmas-ish-sounding song from the last few years I know nearly every Christmas song there is. Whether pop, jazz standard, ancient carol, up to and including the Kinks “Father Christmas,” I can sing along.

This morning I was singing “The First Noel” along with some new pop star and actually admiring how heart-felt it all seemed. Then I sang the words “Born is the King of Israel” and suddenly felt distracted. There is no king in Israel. A president, yes, but no king. There is no pharaoh in Egypt,either. There is a president in Syria and also much political strife and killing, but no king.

The last King of Israel was a guy named Hoshea who ascended to the throne by killing his predecessor and who surrendered his throne to the Assyrians when Israel was conquered in c. 728 BC. Israel remained a non-nation until 1968 or so. Since then the strife continues, wars threaten, unrest is the daily bread, but no king.

Even when Jesus was born and eventually proclaimed King by the prophets, priests, and followers, it was not official. Jealous rulers, both church and state, vowed to silence him and squash this kingdom, even if it was only a spiritual kingdom.

It makes me ask–“Who would I have been?” Would I have been his defender, his supporter? Would I have made my aim the promotion of his teachings, a propagator of the faith? Or would I have simply gone on my way, ignoring one more in a long line of rabble-rousers, knowing what his end would be, knowing that if I ignore him, he’ll go away.

I hope somehow, one of these Christmases, we’ll remember Jesus. Whether we remember him as a king, babe in a manger, prophet, teacher, whatever, will not matter as long as we remember him. And maybe, with a little practice, we will recall, and perhaps reclaim, his true mission–to be King of Israel and Savior of the World.

It could be the start of a great conversation.

For a great little workbook on prayer, go see:  www.therealprayer.com

Christian Influence Waning? Election numbers say Yes.

The influence of Christianity in America is waning. There was a time, let’s say in the fifties, that America was just like the movie Pleasantville. We remember people being honest, devout, loyal to their church, job, and even brand names! Then the tumultuous 60’s arrived and no one was happy, but the church seemed to be an oasis of stability and comfort. The 70’s floated through with America sick of Viet Nam, rising gas prices, but with a host of baby-boomers in their teens looking for colleges, jobs, and even-yes-even churches.

Then the numbers began to slack off. I remember hearing that the post-boomer generation was looking for something different–more substance maybe-in everything they experienced. Brand name loyalty, employer loyalty, and even church denomination loyalty was becoming a thing of the past. By the time this generation was sending their own children off to college Americans had regrouped around causes other than brand loyalty.

Issues like healthcare, immigration, climate, and the economy separate Americans like they never have before. Whether a person is a Christian or not, church-going or not, or pretty much anything defined as old-school theist or not, has little influence. Oh you’ll hear some Christian objection to a candidate over the abortion issue, but that same Christian will say that they would vote for a conservative candidate even if they are a Mormon, or Atheist, or …(fill in the blank.) The late 20th Century brand of Christian influence may have seen its day.

Jonathan Merritt, writing for The Atlantic, quotes Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as calling the election an “Evangelical Disaster.” He’s right. American Christians have slowed or maybe even reversed their move toward a hard-line-right-winged conservatism over the past few years. As a result, even though 79% of white evangelicals voted for Romney, it was not enough.

Merritt says there are several reasons, but here are the most interesting to me: 1) White middle class American Christians are now a minority. 2) Christian influence on America has weakened. 3) There are no “old-days” figureheads like Graham, Falwell, and Kennedy around anymore.

This one quote from Merritt should be a wake-up call for us:

Conservative Christian ideas are failing to shape the broader culture. More than 3,500 churches close their doors every year, and while Americans are still overwhelmingly spiritual, the institutional church no longer holds the sway over their lives it once did. The sweeping impact of globalization and the digital age has marginalized the church and its leaders.

If Christianity is going to have any influence on the America of the future, we are going to have to start with each of us as Christian Individuals. We have no influence because we have no power. We have no power because we have so little faith. We have so little faith because we have so little contact with our source.

Is Christian Influence waning in America? If so, it’s our own fault.

Pray.

For a great little e-book on the Lord’s Prayer, go see: www.therealprayer.org

 

Published in: on November 15, 2012 at 8:23 am  Leave a Comment  
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Will you see the two moons?

In a word-nope. There are not two moons. There won’t be anything like that in the sky apart from an unpredicted supernova appearing near our almost full moon.

It’s a hoax. The original is from as far back as 2003 and while Mars did pass as close as it ever will back then, it still looked like it always does from Earth–a pale, orange dot about the size of a star. If Mars WERE to approach so close that it looked as large as the moon, it would be far too close for comfort. Something would be terribly wrong.

We are a gullible breed. We appear hungry for something really new and exciting, even if it is dangerous. The year 2012 provides all the uneasiness any of us could ask for. I’ve heard rumors of the magnetic poles switching, a rogue asteroid hitting us, tsunami, you name it, someone is out there predicting it. I’m not sure what I believe about it yet, except that December 21 of 2012 is really close to Christmas and I’ll be too busy to think about the end of the world.

I do know this: when I pray the Lord’s Prayer, I acknowledge that God’s reign is without question, and God’s will is paramount here in this life and world as it is in the Spiritual realm.

When you pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven,” I hope you mean it.

For an easy to use work book on prayer, go see: www.therealprayer.com

Published in: on August 27, 2010 at 10:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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Noah’s Ark found (again)

A group of explorers has claimed that there is a 99.9% cahnce that the massive structure underneath the snow on Mt Ararat in Turkey is what’s left of the famous Noah’s Ark. I remember a similar find back in the 70’s, but the Turkish government wouldn’t let the finders be the keepers. In spite of the  strange fact that a ship could be found this high in the mountains, many are more interested in the banter between the touters and doubters than in any possibility of truth.

Is it the ark? Who knows? Whether a person is a believer or not, finding a huge wooden ship this high in the mountains from 5000 years ago is still quite a find! Unfortunately, however, this find is tied to a story which is in the Bible which has of late become a fashionable target for slamming and ridicule. Just think: If this vessel had been found independent of any religious reference at all, it would be on the cover of National Geographic.  Instead, it is simply comment fodder for news blogs.

Believers can never let any late-term discovery turn into an attempt at validation for their faith. You either believe or not–ark or not. The kingdom is ever and always the creator’s. We are just along for the journey and not to wage some kind of belief battle with doubters. Everyone must find their own way in their own time. Just like you did.

For an easy to understand prayer guide, visit: www.therealprayer.org

Published in: on April 27, 2010 at 2:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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For Thine is the Kingdom…

Back in my college days we were awestruck by the new modern criticism of the scriptures. Several theologian/iconoclast types were causing us to doubt the veracity of our own customary view of many historical biblical sources. Without boring you with what little I remember of the discussions, suffice it to say I lost interest very quickly. Many of the young thinkers thrived on controversy. I was just a young religion student looking for an avenue to the truth.

“For Thine is the kingdom…” was the section which was being discussed and, like topics such as the longer ending of Mark, the priority of Mark, and similar arguments, failed to hold my attention. “Did Jesus really say this?” “Was this just added years later?” “Why isn’t it in both Luke and Matthew?” Years of exposure to this has failed to convince me that the idea of ascribing kingship, power, and glory to the creator is wrong.

Since my limited scholarship is insufficient to fully exploit the argument, I read this part of the prayer and mentally replace the word “for” with “because.” It means more to me this way. After I have acknowledged the creator, sought this creator’s kingdom, submitted to this creator’s will, and shown my dependence on this creator for my supply, it seems only fitting that I should say “Because this is your kingdom and power and glory.”

And I’m o.k. with that.

Get an easy to use e-workbook on the Lord’s Prayer at:  www.therealprayer.org

Published in: on June 11, 2009 at 1:11 pm  Comments Off on For Thine is the Kingdom…  

Thy Kingdom Come

Here is another phrase we blithely recite as if it makes sense to us. But stop for a moment and think of these words outside of this prayer. Nowhere else would we say something like “Your kingdom come.” There is no subject/verb agreement. It’s not like “Your kingdom came,” or “We want your kingdom to come.” By themselves, the words really make little sense (if we read them just as they are.)

If we step back and look at what we think it means, however, we realize we must do some internal editing. What we see is “Thy kingdom come.” What we hear in our heads is “Your kingdom has come,” or “Your kingdom, having come,” or even “Come, kingdom.”

The bottom line is that the kingdom, with the presence of Jesus (the one speaking the words that day) had come, and things were about to change forever.

If you want to really experience the Lord’s Prayer as it was intended, get a copy of the workbook at: www.therealprayer.com

Published in: on April 24, 2009 at 7:53 am  Comments Off on Thy Kingdom Come  
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