Tag Archives: Matthew 24

Hot Times and Cold Love

Hot Times and Cold Love (CaD Matt 24) Wayfarer

“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…”
Matthew 24:12 (NIV)

Our daughter, Taylor, works for a software company that has developed an amazing product, Storii, for those with dementia and Alzheimers. It started with the simple idea of helping those who are losing their memory to build and store their stories for their family and loved ones, but it basically applies to any person who wants to archive their lives and stories for subsequent generations. It’s brilliant.

One of the features of Storii prompts automated calls to the individual a few times a week. Each call asks a question like, “What radio or television programs did you watch growing up?” It then records the answer, places it on that person’s Storii page, and any connected loved ones get an email giving them access to the recording.

In recent weeks, Taylor asked me to help her test this audio recording feature, so I’ve been recording my answers and having a fun time doing it. I confess that it has put me in a nostalgic frame of mind. I’ve even placed a couple of Grumpy Old Man memes on our family text string. So much has changed in 50 years it’s mind-blowing. For my aging parents, I can only imagine that the feeling is magnified.

In today’s chapter, Jesus speaks apocalyptically about the end times. It’s pretty bleak stuff. The Great Story is, after all, a grand epic of conflict between good and evil. The end of most every good vs. evil tale is a final climactic conflict: think of the final battle at the Black Gate in Lord of the Rings, the battle of Hogwarts in Harry Potter, or the final scenes of every Marvel, DC, and Star Wars movie. The last installment of the Chronicles of Narnia is simply titled The Last Battle. You catch my drift. Jesus told His followers to expect the same in the end times, with creation itself adding to the havoc with famines and earthquakes.

What resonated in my heart this morning was Jesus’ prophetic statement that amidst the “increasing wickedness” and heated build-up of the final conflict, as evil persecutes followers of Jesus, the love of many followers will grow cold. I have to imagine that this is true whenever the persecution of believers takes place, like in Nigeria where over 10,000 followers of Jesus have been slaughtered in the last couple of years. When heads literally start to roll, I can only imagine that one asks themselves, “How much do I really believe this?”

In the quiet this morning, I find myself thinking about my own story. I’m thinking about the rapid decline and rejection of Christians and Christian thought across social institutions. I hear echoes in my head of my friend Chuck who helped market Corrie Ten Boom’s movie The Hiding Place. Corrie told him that she was making the film to prepare American Christians for the persecution that they will soon face. As a teenager, I couldn’t imagine that ever happening. Now, I’m not so sure. Am I just being a grumpy old man? It’s entirely possible. Forgive me. I again confess I’ve been in that frame of mind of late.

Whether or not I ever face serious persecution in my lifetime, the big question resonating in my heart on this frigid winter morning in Iowa is this: “As my life story continues to be told, could my love for Jesus ever grow cold?” (rhyme unintended, but nice…ūüėČ)

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

Apocalypse, World View and Work

So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?
Matthew 24:44-45 (NIV)

Whether we know it or not, each one of us approach life with a certain ingrained perspective. It’s called a world view¬†and we each have one. Our world view determines how we perceive and react to events and circumstances around us. If something happens that doesn’t fit neatly into our world view, it can be rather disconcerting.

I thought a lot about world view this past November when Donald Trump unexpectedly won the Presidency. It was an event that most of us¬†never could have imagined happening. We¬†know that anyone can run for President, but we’ve come to expect from history that the winner is always going to be a member of the political establishment.

The election results definitely shook things up, and with it came all sorts of apocalyptic thinking. I still feel it simmering beneath the surface of news articles, posts, and current events. Along my life journey I’ve noticed this pattern in human behavior. If we’re rattled hard enough we go into doomsday mode.

As I sat in my hotel room on election night at 1:00 a.m. swapping text messages with Wendy and Taylor I got to thinking about world views. Among followers of Jesus the prevailing world view has been a predominantly medieval one in which things are going to get worse and worse and worse and worse until the very end when Jesus returns in a eucatastrophic moment.

J.R.R. Tolkien was a teacher of medieval literature and his epics reflect this world view. Saruman is a great example of how Tolkien viewed modern man felling the innocence of the trees to fuel his machines of war. (Interesting to think how serving in WWI and living through WWII may have affected his world view. ) Darkness grows and spreads until the forces of good stand on the field of battle outnumbered and hopeless. Then at the darkest moment something happens to miraculously bring about unexpected victory. That’s what he called eucatastrophe.

There is another world view among followers of Jesus, however, that holds that things are actually getting better [cue: The Beatles’¬†It’s Getting Better All the Time]. It’s the “glass is actually half-full” world view. This world view holds that despite the headlines and 24 hour news channels skewing our perspective by bombarding us with the latest tragedies from around the globe, the situation world-wide is actually better today than at any point in human history. There’s less disease, life spans are the longest they’ve ever been, things are safer than they’ve ever been globally, and food production is the highest it’s ever been around the globe. Poverty world-wide is lower than its ever been in history and what we would call “poor” in today’s world is far different (and better) than our definition just a generation or two ago.

In today’s chapter Jesus gives his followers some generalities about what’s to come in the future. It reads like the medieval world view with wars, famines, false messiahs, and Jesus returning when no one is expecting it. Even in the description Jesus admits that He does not know the exact timing of events.

These things are fascinating to think about, and many people dedicate much of their lives to studying eschatology and all the various theories of the end times. Google it and you’ll find all sorts of charts, graphs, opinions, and theories about what’s to come.

I found it interesting that Jesus concludes His apocalyptic overview with a parable of a servant in charge of feeding his master’s servants while the master is away. When the master returns the only question was whether or not the servant was found doing what he was supposed to do. Jesus’ message is clear: Don’t worry about these ordained events that I cannot control. Worry about being faithful to do each day those things I am called to do. Actively love God. Actively love others. The rest will take care of itself.

On election night our daughter asked me to text her something wise. I don’t know how wise my message was, but I gave her my perspective at that moment. Donald Trump may be President, but the next morning I was going to get up, go to work, and do the things I do everyday. Just like I did when Obama was President, and Bush 43, and Clinton, and Bush 41. Life goes on. My job is to focus my time and attention on my spheres of influence and doing the things I’m called to do to the best of my ability.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some work to do ūüėČ

Chapter-a-Day Matthew 25

"You're fired!"
Image by gwilmore via Flickr

“The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master’s investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.'” Matthew 25:22-23 (MSG)

After meditating on the parable of the workers this morning, I find myself unable to stop thinking about¬†the parable¬†as an episode of The Apprentice. In many ways, the parable is an “Apprentice” episode. The boss has three apprentices and wants to see how they will do. Who will he ultimately make partner? Who does he need to fire?

As an employer, I love to find people who approach their work as if they were an owner. That’s basically what the first two workers in Jesus’ parable did. They were entrusted with taking care of their master’s money and they thought about what their master would do and want done with his money. They had learned from watching their master’s investment strategies. They knew how he thought. They managed the money entrusted to them by thinking like the master. It paid off.

[cue Donald Trump: “You’re hired.”]

The third person in Jesus’ parable said he thought about what his master wanted, but really he was thinking about himself. “How can I accomplish the task with the least amount of effort and the least amount of risk?”¬†

[cue Donald Trump: “You’re fired.”]

(btw: I’m quite sure that the third worker immediately filed a wrongful termination claim.¬†Walking out of the boss’ office, the third worker¬†mutters: “It’s so unfair. I did exactly what he asked me to do!”)

I hate to be cliche’ but there really is value in asking “What would Jesus, my master, do in this situation? How would¬†Jesus want me to respond?”¬†The boss and Master of the universe¬†has¬†blessed me with so much. I have time, I have life and limb, I have resources and energy that are entrusted to me. How am I investing myself?

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Chapter-a-Day Matthew 24

MOAB, UT - OCTOBER 10:  Ben Chournos (L) welco...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

“Staying with it‚ÄĒthat’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end.” Matthew 24:13 (MSG)

Was Jesus talking to his followers when He said these words, or was He reminding Himself? He just finished creating a riot by overturning the money changers’ tables. He¬†has just walked away from his tongue lashing of the religious leaders in the temple. They won’t put up with it. They will kill Jesus to preserve their social standing and public reputations. The pieces are in place. The end is near. Jesus has been telling His followers for months that He is going to be handed over to the religious leaders and be killed.¬† Now the wheels have begun to move. This is it.

“Staying with it‚ÄĒthat’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end,” He said to His followers; He said to Himself.

It is Maundy (meaning “sorrowful”)¬†Thursday as I write this. It is the day we remember Jesus last meal, His betrayal, His desperate prayer to the Father to be released from the sacrificial death that was required of Him to pay the penalty of our sins and make way for forgiveness.

“Staying with it‚ÄĒthat’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end.”

Today, I remember and celebrate¬†that Jesus stayed with it to the end. I’m also¬†reminded of¬†the song¬†I sang on a cold February night 30 years ago when I set out on this journey:

I have decided to follow Jesus.
I have decided to follow Jesus.
I have decided to follow Jesus.
No turning back. No turning back.

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