Browsing through the iTunes store looking for music to purchase with the gift card I received for Christmas, I began reading about artists and albums. As I surfed the web, I ran across information about a musical performer that made me smile. I remembered an interview this artist did with a Christian music magazine back in the early to mid-90’s. Trying to look for that interview (or one like it) online, I landed on the artist’s Wikipedia page, which included a section about his Christian beliefs.
As I read the short section, I was a bit disappointed because of the incomplete information. It seemed to indicate that the performer, whose career is predominantly in secular bands, may not really be saved. However, the information included a link to a ministry website for a Protestant church. A smile came on my face when I looked at the church staff listing, especially the brief profile page for one particular staff member and ministry leader. I almost laughed when I saw the full body picture of the full staff. Knowing the musical style of this man’s career, seeing him in a polo shirt and khaki shorts struck me as a bit funny.
According to the church’s website, this music artist is the worship team leader for one of the church’s outreach ministries. Praise God! The name of the worship leader: (more…)
One of the most difficult parts of teaching the book of Revelation is the wide variety of opinions and interpretations. People hold multiple views of the end times and John’s apocalyptic letter, often leading to debate and controversy. Are the details literal or symbolic? Will the church be there or gone?
As a pastor, I try to present the material in a manner that, while it does favor a certain perspective, it does not disrespect other views. I try to focus on the larger themes (Christ’s victory, judgment of sin, etc.) throughout the study. This is one of the major reasons for closing each installment with a “What it Means for Us Today” section.
As I prepared the most recent part, “Judgment of Babylon (17:1-18),” I realized that the identity of the woman, her name, and her specific role in the future are subjects of great debate, even within popular English translations. But something stood out: the woman, like the beast, is defeated by Christ! This is the theme of chapter 17.
While I understand the woman to be the world’s systems, especially economic systems, some see her as a specific individual city. Either way, she represents worldly material gain. As I thought about her outer garments and the cup she holds, I found that they indicate the same message: she looks good on the surface, but she is full of sin! To obtain her wealth, she requires participating in that sin.
This made me think immediately of John’s first epistle. In it, he reminds his readers to not long for the things the world values, but to desire Christ (1 John 2:15-17). In John’s vision some see a condemnation of all things material. Thus they say that possessions are sinful and being rich is a sign of sin. However, John is not seeing the condemnation of material things, but the condemnation of the love—the longing, passionate desire—for material things.