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Jesus is returning. Sooner than you think.

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IMMEDIACY ɪ'mi.di.ə.si noun. Bringing one into direct, instant involvement with something. (Usually including a sense of urgency or excitement.) 2. Christian doctrine that Christ Jesus may return at any time. [Immediacist ɪ'mi.di.ə.sɪst adjective. ] I don’t know when Jesus will return. Neither do you. Neither does anyone. Neither did Jesus, Mk 13.32 although some Christians are mighty sure he found out once he ascended to heaven. And occasionally some nutjob will claim the Father told them when it’s gonna happen, and use the occasion to whip gullible Christians into a frenzy; maybe get ’em to join their death cult or something. All of them have been, and will be, lying. Because Jesus said that info is none of our business. Acts 1.6-7 KJV 6 When they therefore were come together, [the students] asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seaso

There is no pretrib rapture.

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Years ago at a prayer meeting, I let slip I believe there’s a rapture —’cause it’s in the bible; duh—but I don’t believe it takes place before the seven-year tribulation. Nor in the middle of it. It’s part of the second coming; it’s when Jesus returns to take possession of his world, when we Christians join his procession. And some of these folks reacted as if I’d just grown a second head. It’s understandable. They grew up in churches which taught a pretrib rapture —that before the world is thrown into misery, with the Beast running amok, evil having a field day, and Christians getting persecuted and slaughtered, Jesus whisks us away so we needn’t live through any of it. I grew up in such churches too. I’d heard it all my life. And if you have—and never bothered to ask, “Where in the bible does it say so?”—you’re gonna take the idea as a given. In fact you’re gonna love the idea: Before tribulation, before all the really bad stuff happens, Jesus gets us out of here! It’s

There’s a rapture, and it’s no secret.

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From the first chapter of Left Behind , the 1995 End Times novel by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. “People are missing,” she managed in a whisper, burying her head in his chest. He took her shoulders and tried to push her back, but she fought to stay close. “What do you m—?” She was sobbing now, her body out of control. “A whole bunch of people, just gone!” “Hattie, this is a big plane. They’ve wandered to the lavs or—” She pulled his head down so she could speak directly into his ear. Despite her weeping, she was plainly fighting to make herself understood. “I’ve been everywhere. I’m telling you, dozens of people are missing.” “Hattie, it’s still dark. We’ll find—” “I’m not crazy! See for yourself! All over the plane, people have disappeared.” “It’s a joke. They’re hiding, trying to—” “Ray! Their shoes, their socks, their clothes, everything was left behind. These people are gone!” They’ve already made two silly movies based on this book. Both depict this ch

The rapture. Yes, there is one.

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1 Thessalonians 4.15-18. RAPTURE 'ræp.tʃər noun. Feeling of intense pleasure or joy. 2. Capture: The act of seizing and carrying off. 3. The transporting of Christian believers to meet with Christ Jesus [or, to heaven] at his second coming. 4. [ verb. ] Seizing and carrying off. 5. [ verb. ] To be taken up [to heaven] to meet with Christ. A number of Christians don’t believe in the rapture —when the Son of Man appears in the clouds, and his followers meet him in midair. As is taught in today’s passage of scripture, in 1 Thessalonians 4. Yeah, it’s in the bible, but they still don’t believe in it; they don’t take this passage literally. Nor do they interpret it in any way where it loosely represents what’s gonna happen in future. They simply don’t believe in it. Largely because their churches don’t teach it. Their favorite preachers proclaim an End Times scenario which doesn’t include any rapture. The End of Days theory, fr’instance: The world ends, or we o

You’ll be persecuted. Get ready to not defend yourself.

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Mark 13.9-11, Matthew 10.17-20, Luke 12.11-12, John 14.26. After Jesus said the temple’d come down, his students wanted to know what that looked like, so Jesus gave the Olivet Discourse. How the Romans would destroy the temple in the great tribulation. And while he was at it, how Christians would be persecuted too —advice we’ve used throughout the Christian era, because we’ve been persecuted since the beginning. In many parts of the world, still are. As a result a number of Christians are steeling ourselves for it. “When they come for me, here’s what I’m gonna do.” And many Americans are planning to do some pretty violent things. Simon Peter with a machete type things. They got their gun stockpiles. They got their armor-piercing bullets and 50mm rounds. Peter only cut off an ear; they’re planning to mow down as many cops and soldiers as they can. Even though many of ’em claim they “love” our police, “love” our troops. Sure, when politically convenient. But those sentiments

Spiritual morons: Christians who won’t grow up.

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MORON 'mɔr.ɑn noun. A stupid person. [Moronic mə'rɑn.ɪk adjective .] The word moron comes from an ancient Greek word we actually have in our bibles, μωρόν / morón , which means the same thing. Scientists began to use it to describe “an adult with the mental age of about 8 to 12 years old”—someone of limited intelligence. Problem is, people love to use such words to insult one another, and now many people consider “moron” a bad word. So they’re gonna take offense at my using the word “moron.” Doesn’t matter that Jesus used it. Mt 5.22, 7.26, 23.17, 25.2, 25.8 And the apostles. 1Co 1.25, 1.27, 3.18, 4.10, 2Ti 2.23, Tt 3.9 Thing is, whenever the authors of scripture write of morons, they don’t mean people who can’t help it; who are of limited intelligence or are incapable of wisdom. They always mean people who are wholly capable of growth—and choose not to grow. (I mean, if they did mean people who can’t help their condition, it’d be mighty cruel of them to con

Spiritual disciplines: Gotta develop the Christian lifestyle.

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If we’re gonna become better Christians, we have to get religious. I know; it’s popular among conservative Evangelicals circles to insist, “It’s a relationship, not a religion.” For much the same reason pagans insist they’re spiritual, not religious : They have no interest in getting methodical, disciplined, or systematic about God. They want their heavenly Father to be a Disneyland dad, with all the fun and none of the obedience. They wanna do as they please, take advantage of God’s grace, and get into God’s kingdom despite being wholly unfit for it. True Christians can’t sit back on our salvation: We follow Jesus. We do stuff. We act saved. We stop behaving like we can’t help our sinful behavior; we know the Holy Spirit’s empowered us so we totally can. We stop acting like pagans do, as if we’re not a holy people, and behave as if we really are filled with the Holy Spirit. We stop being jerks and start producing fruit. I know; it’s way easier said than done. But

Spiritual maturity: It’s based on fruit, not knowledge.

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Years ago I had a boss who was seriously immature. Same age as me; we were both in our thirties. But he was completely unreliable. Couldn’t be trusted with private matters. Lied to cover up even minor mistakes. Had serious lapses in judgment. Regularly did inappropriate things, or told inappropriate jokes, so he could impress the teenagers we worked with. How’d this guy get put into any position of authority? He was a pastor’s kid. A whole lot of nepotism takes place in churches. Our word nepotism even comes from the practice: Various popes regularly gave important jobs to their “nephews” (really, their illegitimate kids), and the Italian for “nephew” is nipote . But lemme first say I’m not saying we should never hire family members. Most of the time they’re just as talented, gifted, and qualified as their relatives, if not more so. Being a pastor’s kid is a plus , not a minus. Of course sometimes the apple didn’t fall near the tree. Sometimes it fell into a whole other ya

Faith crisis: When our core beliefs get shaken. (And yours is coming.)

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Hopefully the main reason, or at least one of the reasons, you’re reading this blog is you’re interested in growing your relationship with Christ Jesus. Sad to say, a lot of Christians aren’t interested in any such thing. Not that they aren’t interested in Jesus! It’s because they assume they’re doing just fine. Life is good, so God is good all the time, and all the time God is good. Heck, some of you might think this, and you’re just reading this blog ’cause I amuse you, or you generally agree with me… or you’re looking for evidence I’m some heretic. Whatever. Such people will continue to believe they’re doing just fine. That is, till they slam into a faith crisis . Or as Christians prefer to call it, a “crisis of faith.” It’s when we discover we’re wrong about God. Hopefully we already knew this—we get that nobody understands him 100 percent except Jesus; we’re certainly not claiming we have Jesus-level knowledge. (Well I’m certainly not. I don’t know about some preache

Why skipping church messes us up.

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Whenever I share Jesus with people, most of the time I discover they’re Christian. Or at least they imagine they’re Christian. In the United States, most folks have had some exposure to Christianity. Some of us grew up churchgoers. Others said some version of a sinner’s prayer at one point in our lives. Others had Christian parents, or were baptized, or attend Easter and Christmas services and figure that’ll do. People figure they believe in Jesus and that’s all it takes to make ’em Christian. Confess, believe, and we’re saved. Ro 10.9 Right? So by this metric they figure they’re Christian. They believe in Jesus. Following him is a whole other deal. They’re not religious. They’re “spiritual,” as they define spiritual, which usually means imaginary —’cause like I said, they imagine they’re Christian. Their Christianity wholly exists in their heads. You’d be hard-pressed to find it elsewhere in their lives, but it’s in their heads at least—and somebody’s assured them it c

Three focal points of church services.

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Obviously not all churches are alike. Practices vary. Even within the same denomination: Y’might have one church which is known for its Christian education, bible studies, Sunday school program, and teaching pastors… with a sister church known for its musicians. Talk to any Christian about what they like best in their church, and they’ll usually emphasize a few things they particularly like: The friendliness. The informality. The kids’ program. The decor. The amiability of the head pastor. The many outreach programs. The coffee—for once it’s not Folger’s! (’Cause Folger’s is crap. But when the person in charge of the church’s coffee doesn’t even drink coffee, guess what they always buy? Right—the cheapest stuff on the shelf. Kirkland or Folger’s, or some other awful blend which tastes like Juan Valdez’s burro rolled around in it. Churches, don’t do that to your people. But I digress.) These things aside, y’might notice churches structure their entire Sunday morning service (