Verses 1-4 »» “That” makes John the Apostle like Graham Greene 1
Verse 5 »» American Idol, Katy Perry, Bebe Rexha, and 1 John 1:5 2
This year, 2018, ABC brought back the music competition Fox had set aside, and I found myself glad that it was back. The judges this year are Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie, and then Katy Perry. Katy is the flashiest of the three. She is funny and genuinely interested in the contestants, and as I watch her engage the fledgling singers week after week, I am intrigued.
The questions that roil my mind center on the dynamic between her and God. “Didn’t she grow up in church? Isn’t her dad a pastor?” I know those answers; yes and yes. I can recall bits and pieces of Perry’s music and performance videos, and the flavors imprinted on my mind do not jive with things pure, lovely, admirable, etc., etc. Artistic? Yes. Godly? No.
During my weekly doses of American Idol, there has been a steady diet of Katy Perry. From the vantage point of her own experience, she gives good advice to many of the hopefuls. I see professionalism in that, a genuine interest. While part of her comments and style is for a show, it is not all a facade. [Read more…]
In the late 1980’s or early 1990’s, Dr. James Wardwell of Houghton College dropped an author’s name into my life: Graham Greene. Twenty-eight years later that seed Dr. Wardwell planted sprouted into my life as The Power and the Glory. I have read it through in its entirety once, but its first chapter at least thrice.
Why thrice? Not three times for its charm, but rather for its artistry and things I missed. The first character Greene inflates from the bleaching dust of an exhausted Mexican city is the dentist Tench. The life of Tench sets the tone, but a fugitive came from the forest making the mystery. This fugitive never gets a name, but he does get the lead role. [Read more…]
We come to my final lesson on this great book of Revelation. I do not think I considered how long we would spend running through these 22 chapters. It makes me laugh a little inside that it turned out to be right at 15 months from January 8th a year ago to April 8th this year. From an 8th to an 8th. 62 lessons ended up in this book would make a great golf score (Hard to avoid golf thoughts when I live in Augusta, Georgia and this final lesson is on Master’s Sunday at the Augusta National). Whew! It has been a blessing just as chapter 1 said it would be. Look once again at Revelation 1:3.
3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. (Revelation 1:3–ESV)
The verses all around this passage tell about godliness. Each teaches that theme relying on some aspect of the future to urge men and women on toward good behavior. The next two verses do not diverge from that message.
14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. (Revelation 22:14–ESV)
When I came to this passage to prepare it for class, I worked through a paragraph or two on people being good. The point I was crafting related to the importance of living well, being righteous. After all, people washing robes was easy to connect to doing good deeds.
Then I came to the second phrase of this verse which added another word: right. The verse says that people who did the washing were given a right to partake of the tree of life. Further, they were able to enter the city by the gates, meaning they were authorized personnel. [Read more…]
Verse 10 encouraged John not to hide away the words of God. No lamp is to be lit and then covered up. Jesus said that in a parable. The words and lessons of God are to be held aloft, illuminating paths through life. Fastened behind that command is the following pair of verses.
12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:12-13–ESV)
The broad meaning is that God will reward us for the good things we have done, but I stumble over that word soon. Since John saw these visions, literally billions of people3Check this site if you like data! have come and gone. What does the word soon mean for each of those? What did the word soon mean for them? He did not come while they were alive. They sort of went in his direction, but does that count? Is that how we are to interpret this passage?
When my mind faces this question, it conjures little suspicions of trickery. The doubts are not full-blown, but wispy. Full-blown would mean I was telling God he was wrong and that is never safe territory to tread. [Read more…]