Revelation 7

So?  What do you think?  Can you help us out and be part of the crowd-sourced, selfie-style video project by sharing something about your Chapter-a-Day experience?  We’d love to have 10-15 voices championing the value of scripture reading and the Bible!  But it won’t happen without you!

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS:

  • Capture a 15-45 second video
  • SHOOT IT ‘landscape’ (wide), NOT ‘portrait’ (up and down)
  • Try for good lighting and good audio
  • Introduce yourself
  • No need to have read 1100 days straight!  Just share your journey, your experience and what it has meant to you!  Celebrate that, we as a church, did this!
  • Send video to Kirsten, our videographer for editing:  kbrenner@riverwood.cc by Wednesday MIDNIGHT, Jan. 26. (earlier is even better!)
  • DON’T BE SHY!  YOUR CHURCH NEEDS TO HEAR YOUR VOICE!  THIS IS A CHANCE TO CELEBRATE GOD’S WORD & IT’S IMPACT!  LET’S DO THIS TOGETHER!
  • We will edit the videos together and reserve the right to take segments or portions of each video to create a single video

————————————————————

There are obviously a number of ways to read and interpret The Book of Revelation!  Some look at each chapter in another clue along the journey of the end-times-map!

However, there are others who read this book and see what is being painted with each sentence and chapter more like an abstract painted picture!

Some will read this book as a literal pre-telling of events to come and try to picture the scenes and creatures being foretold…

While others use the mental images being painted to draw significance and broader meaning from each scene and character, much like we do from C.S. Lewis’, ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’!

As I read our chapter this morning, I’m struck by the impact in my own soul, of the picture being painted!

Vs 1-8 – there is a ‘calling out’ and a ‘sealing’ of a select group of people!

On the film-screen of my mind, they may look like 12,000 people chosen from each of the 12 tribes of Israel, but for me, this simply means ‘a very large group comprised of the children of God’!   The seal represents ownership.  The seal represents protection.  These are a people, who have been living under the trials, challenges and tribulations of chapter 6, who are marked for something special.  They are identified as God’s own!

This idea of ‘seal’ is not foreign to scripture!

John 6:24 – But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”

Ephesians 1:13 – And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,

Ephesians 4:30 – And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

2 Timothy 2:19 – Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”

For me, the first half of the vision stirs in me a desire to be counted as those who are sealed.  Those who are sanctified and set aside.  Those who are numbered amongst the saints!

The second half of the chapter, although a different vision in time and location, stirs my heart with similar sensations:  I want to endure difficulties, trampling horsemen, tribulations and challenges to my faith in order to be found amongst those worshipping around the throne!

I believe this is to be the condition and the state of every Christ-follower…

They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white.

15 “That is why they stand in front of God’s throne    and serve him day and night in his Temple.
And he who sits on the throne
    will give them shelter.
16 They will never again be hungry or thirsty;
    they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun.
17 For the Lamb on the throne
    will be their Shepherd.
He will lead them to springs of life-giving water.
    And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”

For me, this chapter isn’t so much a secret treasure map that walks us through a future apocalypse as much as it is The Artist’s painting of ‘discipleship’!  The people who are God’s and claim followership of Jesus are those who are set apart, sealed, washed holy in a substance not-of-their-own-doing and have endured the many tests of their faith, constantly worshipping the Father! 

HIT ‘COMMENT’ BELOW to share your reflections!  You don’t have to complete personal fields to participate!  Note that the comments are not monitored and don’t necessarily reflect Riverwood’s teachings.

Revelation 6

YUP!  I’M TALKING TO YOU!:  Hey Chapter-a-Day’ers!  We need you to rise up!  The end is near!  We have 11 days in our 1100 day Bible reading challenge left!  To celebrate these three years and lift up the value of Bible reading, I’d love to create a video for the weekend of January 30th.  It will be a CROWD-SOURCED, SEND-IN-A-CELLPHONE-VIDEO compilation…and I’d love for you to help me out!

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS:

  • Capture a 15-45 second video
  • SHOOT IT ‘landscape’ (wide), NOT ‘portrait’ (up and down)
  • Try for good lighting and good audio
  • Introduce yourself
  • No need to have read 1100 days straight!  Just share your journey, your experience and what it has meant to you!  Celebrate that, we as a church, did this!
  • Send video to Kirsten, our videographer for editing:  kbrenner@riverwood.cc by Wednesday MIDNIGHT, Jan. 26. (earlier is even better!)
  • DON’T BE SHY!  YOUR CHURCH NEEDS TO HEAR YOUR VOICE!  THIS IS A CHANCE TO CELEBRATE GOD’S WORD & IT’S IMPACT!  LET’S DO THIS TOGETHER!
  • We will edit the videos together and reserve the right to take segments or portions of each video to create a single video

————————————————————

So.  Did you feel that slight change in temperature?  Did you feel the wind shifting?  I’m not talking about the weather outside!  I mean, did you feel the chill in the air that came out of our chapter this morning?

You see, to the surprise of many first-time Revelation-readers, they quite enjoy Revelation 1-5.   Most preachers have no problem preaching the first five chapters of Revelation.  However, when they hit chapter 6 it’s like all hell breaks loose! (pardon the pun) 🙂

One of the reasons for the difficulty of chapter 6 and onward, is the many ways these images are interpreted.

Some read of the six seals and believe these are to be understood as sequential, futuristic and describing the ‘Day of the Lord’!  To these folks, the seals will be opened in the future and one follows the last until they are all opened.   For some, the Book of Revelation is mostly a ‘book of history’, explaining the meaning and trajectory of human existence.  For others, the Book of Revelation is mostly ‘a book of prophecy’, warning them of what is to come.  For others, it’s both!

I grew up afraid to read the Book of Revelation and watching the apocalyptic Christian-thrillers of the 1970’s and ‘80’s!

These movies interpreted Revelation 6 as a prophetic countdown to Christ’s return.  The first horseman (Antichrist) would appear, looking like a powerful ruler, but leaving a path of destruction.  When the second horseman appears, the world would find itself in a state of war.  This would bring the third horseman, economic collapse and desperation.  This would unleash a horseman of death (#4), Christians being martyred (#5) and finally, creation itself would collapse with ecological disasters.  So, as you can imagine, back in the 1970’s and 80’s, we were all keeping our eyes open to identify the first horseman, as he would kick off the beginning of the end.

However, for me personally, my subsequent studies of Revelation have opened up different interpretation of what John was seeing and what this all means.  Personally, I’m not convinced that John was giving us a futuristic roadmap as much as telling the story of history and painting the larger meaning of life!

The way I read Revelation 6 is: ‘Jesus is the only one worthy to rule over all of creation.  However, humanity, ever since getting kicked out of the Garden of Eden, have been run over by a bunch of destructive horsemen and the diametric-opposites of Jesus…which is the effects of sin.  This chapter is the visual depiction of what ‘the hidden revealed’ (the Revelation) looks like!’

When I stop to think about it, these six seals pretty much capture the destructive forces that people have experienced through the ages as they have attempted to live without God:  corrupt leadership who’s policies destroy, human conflict and war, economic disparity and the life-robbing destruction of poverty, opposition to Christ and martyrdom and ecological unravelling and natural disasters.  

I could be totally wrong, but when I read Revelation 1-6, I hear the story of a Saviour who walks amongst His churches and is very present!  I see the ‘hidden revealed’ and I realize, as difficult as life is and as destructive as the seals-that-were-once-opened are…Christ is on His throne!   There is hope!

HIT ‘COMMENT’ BELOW to share your reflections!  You don’t have to complete personal fields to participate!  Note that the comments are not monitored and don’t necessarily reflect Riverwood’s teachings.

Revelation 5

THE END IS NEAR INVITATION:  Hey Chapter-a-Day’ers!  We need you to rise up!  The end is near!  We have 12 days in our 1100 day Bible reading challenge left!  To celebrate these three years and lift up the value of Bible reading, I’d love to create a video for the weekend of January 30th.  It will be a CROWD-SOURCED, SEND-IN-A-CELLPHONE-VIDEO compilation…and I’d love for you to help me out!

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS:

  • Capture a 15-45 second video
  • SHOOT IT ‘landscape’ (wide), NOT ‘portrait’ (up and down)
  • Try for good lighting and good audio
  • Introduce yourself
  • No need to have read 1100 days straight!  Just share your journey, your experience and what it has meant to you!  Celebrate that, we as a church, did this!
  • Send video to Kirsten, our videographer for editing:  kbrenner@riverwood.cc by Wednesday MIDNIGHT, Jan. 26. (earlier is even better!)
  • DON’T BE SHY!  YOUR CHURCH NEEDS TO HEAR YOUR VOICE!  THIS IS A CHANCE TO CELEBRATE GOD’S WORD & IT’S IMPACT!  LET’S DO THIS TOGETHER!
  • We will edit the videos together and reserve the right to take segments or portions of each video to create a single video

————————————————————

There is nothing like a really good, didn’t-see-that-coming plot twist!

There have been many powerful and shocking plot-twists, character-reveals and surprise-endings, but one of the most famous has got to be in George Lucas’ 1980 ‘Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back’!

Complex pop-culture magazine describes it this way: Back in 1980, nerds everywhere emitted gasps of disbelief. Darth Vader, the villainous mastermind behind George Lucas’ landmark science fiction classic Star Wars, goes toe-to-toe against the heroic Luke Skywalker in an especially tense light saber battle; Vader, getting the upper hand (literally), slices off one of Skywalker’s hands.

But that’s not the crazy part: In what’s become one of the most universally known and admired plot twists of all time, Vader then tells his opponent that, “Luke, I am your father.” And just like that, an already epic tale of intergalactic drama evolved into a much more intimate, and ultimately tragic, story about a truly dysfunctional family.”

 However, the Vader “I am your father!” twist pales in comparison to what we read today in our chapter!

No one was found, in all of heaven and earth, worth and powerful enough to open ‘the scroll’!  However, at the moment of John’s greatest despair, one of the 24 elders calls out…5 … “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

As the camera slowly pans to reveal the Lion of the tribe of Judah the reader experiences the most bizarre, the most shocking and the most unexpected plot-twist! 

History is headed to the feet of a lamb!  6 Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth.

WHAT?  The might, conquering, victorious, ‘command-the-universe’ Lion…is a little, bloodied, kicked-underfoot lamb?!?   (John could have chosen to use the word for ‘adult sheep’, but rather uses the word for ‘little lamb’).

Now, don’t be thrown off by the 24 elders, the seven horns, the seven eyes and the sevenfold Spirit of God!  These descriptors aren’t meant to be drawn out literally.  As previously mentioned, the 24 elders are most likely the entirety of God’s governance systems through history, the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles.  The seven horns mean ‘total and complete authority to rule’.  The seven eyes mean ‘total and complete wisdom and insight’.  The sevenfold Spirit of God sent to every part of the earth means ‘the total and complete presence and pre-eminence (dominion and dominancy) of God!

However, what God wants us to see is that His ways are not our ways!

What God wants us to see is that ‘the first shall be last and the last shall be first!’

What God wants us to see is that ‘the humble shall be raised and elevated’!

God exists by the very principles He taught us!

The world expects military might!

The world expects eloquence, fame, status and popularity!

The world expects its leaders to be worthy and attractive, able to swoon the masses by promising to fulfill their most primal and superficial desires and cravings!

But that’s not how God rolls!

This chapter tells us that we can’t think and operate by the world’s values…and expect to see His Messiah!  His rescuer!

In one of the most mind-blowing plot-twists, The Lion of Judah isn’t found devouring people in the colosseum, surrounded by 10’s of thousands of screaming and adoring fans, but rather, is found on the temple altar, being sacrificed for sin.  And yet, in the end, the masses will realize they were looking in the wrong place for their salvation!   When the heaven’s roar the news that ‘the Lion of Judah is the only One worthy to open the scroll’, an a bloodied-little Lamb walks in, jaws are going to drop!

All of human history is winding its way towards this shocking moment!

HIT ‘COMMENT’ BELOW to share your reflections!  You don’t have to complete personal fields to participate!  Note that the comments are not monitored and don’t necessarily reflect Riverwood’s teachings.

Revelation 4

THE END IS NEAR INVITATION:  Hey Chapter-a-Day’ers!  The end is near!  We have 13 days in our 1100 day Bible reading challenge left!  To celebrate these three years and lift up the value of Bible reading, I’d love to create a video for the weekend of January 30th.  It will be a CROWD-SOURCED, SEND-IN-A-CELLPHONE-VIDEO compilation…and I’d love for you to help me out!

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS:

  • Capture a 15-45 second video
  • SHOOT IT ‘landscape’ (wide), NOT ‘portrait’ (up and down)
  • Try for good lighting and good audio
  • No need to have read 1100 days straight!  Just share your journey, your experience and what it has meant to you!  Celebrate that, we as a church, did this!
  • Send video to Kirsten, our videographer for editing:  kbrenner@riverwood.cc by Wednesday MIDNIGHT, Jan. 26. (earlier is even better!)
  • DON’T BE SHY!  YOUR CHURCH NEEDS TO HEAR YOUR VOICE!  THIS IS A CHANCE TO CELEBRATE GOD’S WORD & IT’S IMPACT!  LET’S DO THIS TOGETHER!
  • We will edit the videos together and reserve the right to take segments or portions of each video to create a single video

———————————————————————————

John is sitting in a world of chaos!  Rome has built unfathomably grand and magnificent edifices in honour of their power, government and gods.  Emperor Nero had begun feeding Christians to lions and lighting them on fire as garden torches.  Following him, Emperor Domitian (A.D. 95) had killed 40,000 Christians.   Persecution, torture, messed up cultural-values and corrupt government leadership that was targeted at Christians was the state of the world when John, sentenced to rot on a rock of an island for preaching Christ, was given a new set of glasses.

Jesus gives John a vision that is so full of hope, wonder, awe and most of all, truth!

There IS someone sitting on a throne-of-power beyond what is being experienced on Earth!

From this throne come flashes of lighting and thunder (vs 5) – a vision of ultimate power!

The Seven-fold Spirit dwells here (vs 5) – a vision of light and completeness!

The throne is surrounded by 24 elders (vs 4) – this is where everything that has been written comes to a conclusion – all about the 12 tribes of Israel (Old Testament) and all about the 12 apostles (New Testament).

There are fantastical beasts and an opulent sea!…and the entire scene is sending a single message:  “you have just walked into the throne room of the One who is worthy of all honour and all praise…who is the holder of all power!  From your barren rock of suffering, in a world that has spun out of control, this is the God you worship!”

HIT ‘COMMENT’ BELOW to share your reflections!  You don’t have to complete personal fields to participate!  Note that the comments are not monitored and don’t necessarily reflect Riverwood’s teachings.

Revelation 3

 Hey Chapter-a-Day’ers!  The end is near!  We have 14 days in our 1100 day Bible reading challenge left!  To celebrate these three years and lift up the value of Bible reading, I’d love to create a video for the weekend of January 30th.  It will be a CROWD-SOURCED, SEND-IN-A-CELLPHONE-VIDEO compilation…and I’d love for you to help me out!

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS:

  • Capture a 15-45 second selfie-video on your phone
  • SHOOT IT ‘landscape’ (wide), NOT ‘portrait’ (up and down) if possible
  • Try for good lighting and good audio
  • No need to have read 1100 days straight!  Just share your journey, your experience and what it has meant to you!  Celebrate that, we as a church, did this!
  • Send video to Kirsten, our videographer for editing:  kbrenner@riverwood.cc by Wednesday MIDNIGHT, Jan. 26. (earlier is even better!)
  • DON’T BE SHY!  YOUR CHURCH NEEDS TO HEAR YOUR VOICE!  THIS IS A CHANCE TO CELEBRATE GOD’S WORD & IT’S IMPACT!  LET’S DO THIS TOGETHER!
  • We will edit the videos together and reserve the right to take segments or portions of each video to create a single video

—————————————————————————————-

If we were to mine chapter 2 and 3 for what God was calling these seven churches to do and be, I wonder what we would learn?

The Ephesus Problem:   You have wandered from your first love

Solution:  Remember where you’ve fallen from and repent.  Return to doing what you did when you first fell in love with Jesus!  Turn your ear to hear what Jesus is saying!

The Smyrna Problem:   You are experiencing tribulation, poverty and blasphemy.  Many among you are claiming to belong to Jesus but living like they belong to Satan.

Solution:    Don’t be afraid.  Remain faithful, even unto death, and you will be given a crown!  Turn your ear to hear what Jesus is saying!

The Pergamos Problem:  You’re doctrine is messed up!  It looks more like the world than God’s Word.

Solution: Repent of your sin or face getting destroyed by God!  Turn you ear to hear what Jesus is saying!

The Thyatira Problem: You’ve been sucked into sexual immorality and worshipping entities (idol worship) that is dressed up as ‘deeper truth’ but is in fact replacing God.

Solution:  Repent from sexual immorality, idolatry and false teaching!

The Sardis Problem:  You are busy, have a reputation of being alive…but are dead!

Solution:  Wake up!  Strengthen what is good!  Recommit to God’s standards!  Return to what you heard at first and hold onto it!  Repent, turn to God and listen to what Jesus is saying!

The Philadelphia Problem:  You are weak!

Solution:  Hold on tight!  Stay committed and listen to what Jesus says!

The Laodicea Problem:  You are uncommitted, neither hot nor cold, and yet think you are rich.  You are deceived.  You are wretched, blind and naked…yet you think you are awesome!

Solution:  Purchase your value and purity from Me rather than spending your precious resources on the world.   Open the door to Me and let me in so I can do life intimately with you!  Listen to what Jesus is saying!

In these two chapters, Jesus outlines the greatest vulnerabilities of His church.  He outlines them so clearly, along with the very practical and effective solutions.

I appreciate how these two chapters de-emphasize the ‘individual’ and only talk about the ‘collective’, the ‘community’…the ‘communal’ gathering of Christ-followers called the church!

In our current post-modern, post-Christian, hyper-relativistic, hyper-materialistic and hyper-individualistic culture, one of my greatest struggles as a pastor is helping people to understand and own the fact that we are a ‘collective’.   We are a ‘local body’.  We are a ‘community’ and what one person thinks, believes or does absolutely impacts the rest.  However, in 2022, this perspective and reality has been lost as its every woman and every man for themselves!

These two chapters hold countless challenges from God to His church, but one of them has got to be…”all of you together form My church!  You truly are all in this together…so live like it!”

HIT ‘COMMENT’ BELOW to share your reflections!  You don’t have to complete personal fields to participate!  Note that the comments are not monitored and don’t necessarily reflect Riverwood’s teachings.

Revelation 2

Welcome to the ‘letters to the seven churches’ portion of the Book of Revelation.  Now, it should be understood that, from here on, we will be bumping into no end of interpretation options and theories!

For instance, why are these letters addressed to an ‘angel’ of each church?

One theory is that each church is literally assigned an angel.  Since the word ‘angel’ means ‘messenger’, another theory is that the angel represents the preachers and leadership or the shepherd of each church.  Yet another theory claims that ‘angel’ refers to the ethos or the spirit of each church.

Then there is the matter of the named churches!  There is no doubt that these are real, historical and actual churches, but why seven?  There were plenty more churches in the region than just seven?  Are these messages to be understood exclusively for the church that are named?  And, who in the world are the ‘Nicolaitans’ (vs 6 and 15)?

Well, as I taught out in May of 2018, in a series we called ‘The Hidden Revealed’https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMJLROjaDcE …I’m not convinced that The Book of Revelation is a prophetic roadmap for future events meant to be interpreted literally.  I see in Revelation a highly pictorial, wonderfully-woven allegorical, impressionistic telling of the Gospel story.   Now, you are most welcome to disagree with me, but this is honestly where I landed.

So, as I’m reading our chapter today, I’m not entirely sure of the identity of the ‘angels’, but I would see them to be representative of ‘those who get the message to the churches’ and that the message itself is intended for the churches themselves!

When I read the names and characteristics of the various churches, I don’t limit them to that literal church in that specific time, but rather, I believe these are the typical seven identities that churches assume.  Afterall, the number seven is meant to convey ‘completeness’.  It’s a specific number that represents the whole or totality.

But what about the ‘Nicolaitans’?  I’ve never heard of a 21st century Nicolaitan!  I’ve never met a Nicolaitan?  Does this mean we don’t need to worry about Nicolaitans?   Once again, the interpretation theories abound!  Some believe the Nicolaitans were 

…”followers of that Nicolas who was one of the seven first ordained to the diaconate by the apostles. They lead lives of unrestrained indulgence. The character of these men is plainly pointed out in the Apocalypse of John, as teaching that it is a matter of indifference to practice adultery, and to eat things sacrifice to idols.” (Against Heresies, book 1, chapter 26. From the Ante Nicean Fathers Volume 1, page 352)

Others believe the Nicolaitans were Gnostics who claimed access to advanced knowledge and freedom from scriptural principles.

Yet others believe that the Nicolaitans represent the hierarchical leadership that was established beyond the laity.  The priests, bishops and pope.

Scottish Bible professor and author, William Barclay (1907-1978) claimed “The Nicolaitans, like all deceivers that come from the body of Christ, claimed not that they were destroying Christianity, but that they were presenting an improved and modernized version of it.”

I tend to interpret the Book of Revelation more like an artistic play being performed on a stage.  The seven churches represent all churches and the various identifying characteristics and personality traits that churches typically fall into.  Some do good work, but have lost their first love.  Some are experiencing tremendous persecution and just need to be encourage to stay faithful.  Some are putting up a valiant fight against Satan, but have been compromising and losing ground.  And all are susceptible to the ever-changing tactics of the Evil One to draw them away from Jesus.

However, what I personally am walking away with this morning are two thoughts!  (1) Jesus walks amongst the lampstands!  He is with us and close to His churches!  (2) Jesus provides honest assessments and isn’t afraid to call His church to follow Him wholeheartedly.  In churches, traditions, politics, personalities and the ever-shifting pressures of the culture around us can cloud our vision.  Jesus calls us to complete honesty about our condition and complete commitment to Him!  

HIT ‘COMMENT’ BELOW to share your reflections!  You don’t have to complete personal fields to participate!  Note that the comments are not monitored and don’t necessarily reflect Riverwood’s teachings.

Revelation 1

Welcome to day 1080 and, can you believe it, our 66TH and final book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation!

This is it!  We have a mere 17 days and 22 chapters remaining before we have completed our 3-year-long, Chapter-a-Day reading challenge!

So, to get a really great introduction and overview of the Book of Revelation, check out this 12 minute teaching that covers Revelation 1-11!

A couple of weeks ago, a book landed on my desk.  Someone had dropped it off for me.  It was entitled “Discipleship on the Edge” by Darrell Johnson of Regent College.  The preface begins with these words…

 “If it ever became illegal in my part of the world, as it actually is in other places at this very moment, to own a complete copy of the Bible—and if the authorities, as an act of mercy, allowed me to possess just one book of the Bible for “personal” use—I would, without hesitation, keep the last. I would keep the book of Revelation. 

“Why? Because no other book of the Bible presents the gospel as powerfully as the last book does. No other book of the Bible, in the face of all that threatens to undo us, proclaims the good news of Jesus Christ the way the last book does. 

“More particularly, in no other book of the Bible do we see Jesus as clearly and compellingly as we do in the last book….I am convinced that no other book helps us see Jesus as he is right now as clearly and compellingly as the last book John wrote. No other book helps us see him in a way that overcomes our fears and frees us for radical faith.”

So, I hope you are as excited as Darrell Johnson was to read our way through this book!

Now, what struck me personally from chapter 1, was the crystal-clear and powerful description of Jesus!

vs 5 – Jesus is the faithful and true witness

vs 5 – Jesus is the first to rise from the dead

vs 5 – Jesus is the ruler of all the kings of the world

vs 5 – Jesus is worthy of all glory because of His love for us

vs 5 – Jesus is worthy of all glory because He has freed us from sin

vs 5 – Jesus is worthy of all glory because He sacrificed Himself for us

vs 6 – Jesus has made us a Kingdom of priests

vs 6 – Jesus deserves all glory and power forever and ever

vs 7 – Jesus is above all and all will see who He really is

vs 8 – Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega (the beginning and the end)

vs 8 – Jesus always has been, is and is still to come

vs 8 – Jesus is the Almighty One

vs 13 – Jesus was wearing a long robe (He is a priest)

vs 13 – Jesus was wearing a gold sash across His chest (He is a celebrated victor)

vs 14 – Jesus’ head and hair were white (like God, Jesus is ageless…because He is God!)

vs 14 – Jesus head and hair is white like snow (pure and full of wisdom)

vs 14 – Jesus’ eyes were like flames of fire (He purifies and burns through sin and lies)

vs 15 – Jesus’ feet were like polished bronze (He stands strong, pure, tested and so different than the statues with feet of clay)

vs 15 – Jesus’ voice thundered like mighty ocean waves (He speaks with power and unmatched might)

vs 16 – Jesus held 7 stars in his right hand (He’s got the whole world…and universe in His hands!)

vs 16 – Jesus has a sharp, 2-edged sword coming from His mouth (nothing stands a chance against the Word of God!)

vs 16 – Jesus face was like the sun in all it’s brilliance (He is the most awesome and powerful One!)

v17 – Jesus is personal and compassionate

v17 – Jesus holds the keys to death and the grave!

I have to ask you:  is there any other chapter in all the Bible that is so jam-packed with such a powerful description of who Jesus is?  I don’t think so!

HIT ‘COMMENT’ BELOW to share your reflections!  You don’t have to complete personal fields to participate!  Note that the comments are not monitored and don’t necessarily reflect Riverwood’s teachings.

2 Corinthians 13

(ooops. Got the ‘am’ / ‘pm’ button mixed up again! 🙂

Through the centuries, there have been some rather interesting last words of famous people!

Nineteenth century author, Emily Dickinson said, “I must go in, for the fog is rising.”

Author and poet, Edgar Allan Poe was quoted as saying, “Lord!  Help my poor soul!”

Comedy writer and screenwriter of the NBC pilot, “Days of Our Lives”, Charles Gussman, who worked most of his life in television, reportedly removed his oxygen mask and softly said, “And now for a final word from our sponsor…”

Well, I think I find Paul’s final words to the Corinthian church a little more inspiring and meaningful!

Paul said, 11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.”

I’m inspired by a few different aspects of Paul words!

  1. With this exhortation, Paul reminds us that these are qualities and experiences that are at least partially in our power!
  • Rejoice…in the midst of trouble!
  • Rejoice…in the midst of discipline and correction!
  • Strive for full restoration!
  • Encourage one another!
  • Live in harmony and be of one mind!
  • Live in peace with each other!
  • What the Corinthians needed 2000 years ago…we need today!
  • These are great disciplines and actions to give ourselves to!
  • None of these sounds easy!
  • They may not be easy, but the payoff is huge!

“Lord, we hear you issuing the same challenge to us today!  To rejoice in the midst of less than ideal circumstances!  To work hard and strive for nothing short of full restoration!  Restoration of whatever has been depleted or worn down!  To encourage one another rather than tear each other down!  To live in harmony and to be a people of one mind…especially in a hyper-polarized world!  And to live in peace with each other!   Lord!…make this true of us today!”

HIT ‘COMMENT’ BELOW to share your reflections!  You don’t have to complete personal fields to participate!  Note that the comments are not monitored and don’t necessarily reflect Riverwood’s teachings.

2 Corinthians 12

The title of the article caught my attention!  I just had to check out the 10 ways!

It turns out, the ’10 proven ways’ weren’t all that novel.

10. Preach about the Good Old Days and try to reconstruct them

9. Focus on trying harder, that’s what it’s all about

8. Never laugh at yourself or admit weakness

7. Be the strong silent type

6. Tell people how to feel

5. Reduce all tension and remain in total control

4. Do it Yourself

3. See people as a means to an end

2. Play the blame game

…and the final one. 1. Love conditionally

From the Book of 2 Corinthians, it’s pretty clear that Paul was dealing with his own set of conflicts in the church!  The people of the Corinthian church, it would seem, had fallen in love with the charlatan-hype of the ‘super apostles’.  They were ridiculing and looking down on Paul’s leadership and shepherding.  They were complaining that Paul wasn’t as eloquent.  That Paul wasn’t as capable of a leader.  They were excited about the ‘new apostles’ who were tickling their ears and preaching a different Jesus than the one Paul preached.

All-in-all, today’s chapter was a little sad for me to read.  We hear Paul attempting to re-establish his credibility and credentials.  However, rather than talking about himself, he’d much rather be talking about Jesus.  

The vibe and feel of this chapter hit a little too close to home for me personally.  It stirred up the many conversations and emails I’ve received, voicing objection or disapproval.  In the end, it was a great reminder to stay focused!

Stay focused on integrity rather than image.

Stay focused on what is proven rather than conjecture.

Stay focused on what God says about you…rather than what others are saying about you.

Stay focused on Jesus rather than trying to please people.

HIT ‘COMMENT’ BELOW to share your reflections!  You don’t have to complete personal fields to participate!  Note that the comments are not monitored and don’t necessarily reflect Riverwood’s teachings.

2 Corinthians 11

There seems to be a lot of talk these days about ‘progressive Christianity’ and ‘de/reconstruction’.  Admittedly, not all of it is bad.  Many times the institutional church has been caught defending and imposing rules and traditions that are of it’s own making and actually have little to nothing to do with Biblical mandate.   Many times the institutional, orthodox and traditional church has become more of a machine than a compassionate, loving and more-human community of faith.  So, I would be the last person to ever say that the church should not scrutinize and critique it’s faith and practices regularly.  However, it also needs to be acknowledged that excitedly jumping on the progressive / deconstructionist train without an equal scrutinizing and critiquing of the movement itself, can easily take a person, step-by-step away from Christ!

Saint Augustine of Hippo is credited as saying, “If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself!”

Back in 2014, John Lomperis wrote an article examining the deconstruction and progressive faith of Bart Campolo, son of famous Christian speaker Tony Campolo.  In the article, Lomperis refers to Jonathon Merritt’s research and explanation.   Lomperis writes of Bart Campolo…

“His teenage conversion may have started within a spiritual framework that was largely evangelical. But as Merritt tells it, Bart’s “first step away from orthodoxy” came in response to meeting a young girl who had been horrifically violated. This led to him shifting away from belief in God’s omnipotence. Then in college, he moved on to, in Merritt’s words, “jettison the biblical verses that spoke negatively of homosexuality,” which inevitably meant eventually denying the authority of Scripture more generally. Then he went on to embrace universalism.”

Writing of his own experience with progressive and deconstructionist dynamics, Duncan Edward Pile writes…

“When I listen to Progressive voices, I hear a lot of sense, and generally speaking, a commendably compassionate message. Progressives ask important questions the Church needs to wrestle with – about the nature of scripture, Hell, Heaven, and Judgement. They challenge simplistic ideas that are not truly Biblical, and yet are accepted (without apparent thought) by so much of the Evangelical movement.

In many ways, I have more in common with progressives than with the orthodox, except in this; I won’t accept any diminution of Jesus – his life, his works, his words, his miracles, his death, resurrection, ascension, Lordship and intercession. He is the Great I am, the very image of the Father, the Lamb of God, and the Name above all Names, and he will always deserve my utter devotion.

My hope is that the Progressive movement, which currently seems more interested in a Universal Christ (‘another Jesus’?) than in Jesus Christ, will re-find and treasure the Lord of All.”

So, where is all this coming from this morning?  Quite simply, verse 4 of our chapter today…

You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.

Paul wasn’t as smooth a communicator or as hip a pastor / evangelist as the other apostles who were travelling through town.  Paul often came across weak and unimpressive.  So, in this chapter, Paul reviews his credentials and then drops this little tidbit, warning the Corinthian church.  In essence, I hear Paul saying, “Be on guard!  Don’t believe everything you hear!  Test your faith, but test it to see if these new ideas are actually preaching a different Jesus and a different kind of Spirit than what you received and is presented in Scripture!”

For me, the bottom line always comes down to this question:  “Am I attempting to redefine my faith, beliefs and practices so that they more comfortably conform to the world…or am I attempting to shape my faith, beliefs and practices so they more accurately conform to God’s Word and Jesus Himself?”

HIT ‘COMMENT’ BELOW to share your reflections!  You don’t have to complete personal fields to participate!  Note that the comments are not monitored and don’t necessarily reflect Riverwood’s teachings.