Tuesday, June 04, 2024

Roman Ruins - Roma

THE PANTHEON is the largest and oldest cement dome still in existence. the present structure was built on the site of an earlier temple commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augusta Caesar. After that temple burnt down, Emperor Hadrian rebuilt it and kept the original commissioning inscription at the top. It was probably rededicated in  126 A.D. 

Remains of the Temple of Juturna near the Curia of Pompey (Where Julius Caesar was assassinated.)

Forum of Julius Caesar (With The Church of San Lucas and Santa Martina in the background)

Temple of Venus Genetrix in the Forum of Julius Caesar


Monday, March 18, 2024


When I first came to Christ, one of the basic beliefs that was instilled in me, was the idea that one of the worst things that could happen to me, was being left behind when Jesus came again. Even though I had a great hope in Christ, that my salvation was secure and my life was held securely in Christ, there was still this lingering fear that maybe, just maybe, I might be left behind.


Hal Lyndsey’s books were a staple among my Christian friends. I remember clearly being horrified watching a movie where the Christians during the tribulation were beheaded. Man, I did not want to be left behind.


Today there has been a slight resurgence of this Christian fear. With the Left Behind series of books and movies, a whole new generation of Christians also live in this subtle fear. 


“When Jesus comes again, what if I’m one of the ones left behind?”


It seems that much of this sort of theology is rooted in escapism, rather than solid, biblical understanding. So many of the young Christians that I talk to have been exposed to this; They have real fears and many won’t even crack open the Book of Revelation because they don’t want to know what’s in there. Though many correctly believe that their salvation is secure in Christ, because we have the Holy Spirit, guaranteeing our inheritance to come (Eph 1:14) still, there are doubts that maybe they might be left behind. So let me say it as clear as possible, I think, knowing what I know now, I want to be left behind. Let me explain.


The two main passages that are often referred to regarding this language of taken away and being left behind come from two passages: Matthew 24, and Luke 17.



Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.  Mt 24:40-41

“I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; 

one will be taken, the other left.  Luke 17:34


They seem straightforward…Right?  Until you understand the context of what Jesus is actually saying here. Let’s look at these verses again, with some context added.



“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Mt 24:36-41


I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”  “Where, Lord?” they asked. He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.” Luke 17:34-37


Did you catch the context? Many times, these passages are referred to in order to show proof that Jesus will take away believers in the rapture (Though most dispensationalist theologians would concede that they really don’t). Yet when we look at the textual context and examine the cultural context of the time, something important reveals itself.


In the Matthew pericope, Jesus uses the story of the flood as an example of being “taken.” Jesus’ point in the passage is that God saved Noah and his family. They are the ones left behind. Those who were “taken, are those who actually suffered the judgment of God. Noah and his family were left behind, everyone else was taken away by the flood.

The Luke passage even is more direct. The disciples actually asked “Where will they be taken Jesus?” Jesus replies to them “where there is a dead body, they are the vultures will gather.”That doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, nor does it sound like any description of being with Jesus elsewhere in the Scriptures. In fact, it sounds more like a place where the dead are piled up in stacks. It fits a place of judgment and death and curse. Not a place of blessing.

Maybe the reason for this misunderstanding is that many evangelicals, like myself, often assume we know what we know when we really don’t. Maybe it’s because we don’t read the Bible and see the way God has often dealt with people. The paradigms and the principles that are clear throughout the Scriptures should be easily understood because God does not change.

For example, even when you look through the Old Testament, you will see that this idea of God’s people being taken away is not something that people looked forward to. In fact, it was a curse.

When Solomon was dedicating the temple he had built, part of what he warned his people about was this: 


“If they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you are angry with them and give them to an enemy, so that they are carried away captive to the land of the enemy, far off or near, yet if they turn their heart in the land to which they have been carried captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captors, saying, ‘We have sinned and have acted perversely and wickedly, if they repent with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their enemies, who carried them captive, and pray to you toward their land, which you gave to their fathers, the city that you have chosen, and the house that I have built for your name, then hear in heaven your dwelling place their prayer and their plea, and maintain their cause and forgive your people who have sinned against you, and all their transgressions that they have committed against you, and grant them compassion in the sight of those who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them. 1 Kings 8:46-50


Remember, Israel was given the promised land and a choice to follow the Lord and choose blessings, or curses. You know the history, Israel disobeyed God and often the punishment was to be taken away in judgment to a foreign land. Whenever Israel obeyed God, they prospered in the land that he gave them. 


So I want to be left behind because when Jesus comes again he will be taking away the unrighteous for judgment, and those who have their righteousness in Jesus through faith will reign with him – in glorious bodies, on the new heavens and earth, our real home.


My job and your job if you follow Jesus is to invite many to be left behind and avoid being taken away in judgment.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

It's the Shipping that Will Kill Ya'

Though not my usual type of post, this struck me as funny and familiar. While comparing prices online for a camera I got the above while calculating shipping costs. Funny...but all too life-like. Have you ever noticed that most surprises are not pleasant? It is true for me at least. I am glad there are no surprises when it comes to my demise. Oh, I don't know when it will happen. Hopefully, not too soon. But I do know that when that day comes the price has been paid for my transfer to my new home. Jesus knows the shipping costs.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Kill the Old Man!

Jesus screwed up my life. Don't get me wrong, I love my Lord but when I signed on for this 'following' Jesus stuff, I was under the impression that everything would be okay...no problems, always full of joy and a place in heaven. No one told me about the things Jesus said like "In this world you will have trouble." or "the world will hate you on account of me." When I chose to follow Jesus (and it is a choice)God gave me a new nature - a nature that wants to please the one who died for me. But I still have this old nature - the old man (pictured above, who desires to kick Jesus off the throne of my life.

If I were to stop here, you could conclude that Christians are nutty (In fact, the Bible says that we would be seen as fools and peculiar), but in reality, I believe we are the most sane of all people. Christians don't minimize that the world is messed up and some of the mess is due to we followers of Jesus. We also do not minimize the grace and power of our Lord. By the way, those things that Jesus said above, let me finish them.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:23

Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Luke 6:22

I've realized that Jesus loves me too much to let me live in the status quo. He is the one who can take a struggling sinner like me out of a messed up world, pour grace into my life and transform me.

My prayer: Jesus, screw me up more!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Losing My Life

Many of us structure our lives in ways that cover up how broken we really are. We live another life that is not ours to cover up our brokenness. In essence, we do not want to face our "real selves" because we might not like what we see. We promote how educated we are knowing, underneath, that it does not satisfy. We tell others how wonderful our lives are when inside we know there is some trouble. We exude confidence and pride when that little voice in the back or of head says “They really don’t like you” or “You’re not that great and they will find out.” So we flee to addictions or try to escape ourselves....somehow...someway. The other option is to get bitter and blame someone or something else for our issues. If all else fails we hide never understanding that living in that very brokenness has the power to free us.
We forget the things that Jesus said like

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3 NIV

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:39 NIV

We don't really get it. We don't get that God sees the real us. It's the person he's in love with. God loves the broken who cry out to Him knowing that He holds the glue.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Christian Bones

The fact is that Jesus got angry. If, however, you read the gospels closely, he didn't get angry at the same things we get angry at. Our anger is usually directed toward people or things that make our lives difficult or uncomfortable. It seems that it is all about not being uncomfortable but that isn't very spiritual so we call it righteous anger instead. Christians love to judge "sinners" when Jesus never did it in the way we do
(For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:17).
I may be wrong, but I cannot find one instance when Jesus was angry at sinners. So who was he angry with? ...Religious people! He was angry with people like me. People who were professional clergy or those who claimed to have it all together spiritually. Jesus was offended at religious behavior that only touched the outside of a person and did not enter into the deep places of the soul. Jesus is and has always been about transformation of human lives in the inside. Jesus is not interested in 'behavior modification' without inward change. He was angry at "pastors" who were satisfied in seeing little real change in the people God entrusted to them.
Jesus said “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean." Matthew 23:27
Whitewashed tombs look nice and impress people but are still tombs.

Unfortunately, many evangelical churches do just that. We help make sure people look good on the outside (The last thing we need is more hypocrites), while on the inside our people cry out to experience Jesus in the deepest part of their lives. It is sad. It is scary because I wonder if Jesus came to me today...would he be angry?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Let Me Be Blunt

The title says it all. Let me be blunt. It saddens me to see people just playing Christian. It saddens me for a number of reasons. First of all, it means people are not living up to their potential in Christ. It means that Christians who "play church" will become bitter because they never have the chance to experience the real Jesus in their lives. It means that the world has another reason to point the finger and say "See, Christianity doesn't work."

The Scriptures are clear that my job as a pastor is to "prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up..." (Ephesians 4:12) or in my vernacular - to help people to stop playing church and be the church. The last thing I want to spend my life doing is to lead a bunch of people who are satisfied gathering to sing some cool songs on Sunday and live status-quo lives the rest of the week.

I want to be used of God to transform ordinary people into radical, and I mean really radical, followers of Jesus. Maybe I'm nuts. Maybe I'm shooting too high. Maybe I'm out of touch...or maybe it's the other way around.

Roman Ruins - Roma

THE PANTHEON is the largest and oldest cement dome still in existence. the present structure was built on the site of an earlier temple co...