There are days when preparing to write my weekly entry of "Out of the Box" that I struggle with what to say. Then there are others, like today, when I struggle to choose a topic from among many that are darting randomly in my head. I've been mentally chewing on the economic problems of our world and how it effects God's kingdom. I just reported to the Sunday morning crowd how our attendance and membership continue to increase while both givers and gifts have substantially decreased. I'm not sure I have the mental ability to explain this phenomenon, or if I did, whether I have the spiritual capacity to accept the answer. I have also pondered the changing panorama of the church. I recently read an article that stated the fastest growing segment of the New England religious population is evanglical mega-church attending Christ followers. In a part of our country where Catholicism and main-line Protestants have been the vast majority, I wonder what catalyst is moving religious people our way. Maybe, you have thoughts on either or both these subjects and I would be happy to hear them, but I think I am going to discuss another matter entirely.
This Sunday I begin a series called "Tomorrow's Headlines." The theme of the series is the chronological unveiling of future events descibed in the Bible that make up what we call the end times. It is not, as some have called it, a series on Revelation. The prohecies will come from the Gospels, Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, I Thessalonians and Revelation. I haven't approached this subject in a while because I have a tendency to go overboard and get in way over people's heads. This is after all the subject of my doctoral thesis. I once spent more than six months on Revelation alone. I ended my exhaustive, and some some said exhausting, preaching when a long time member lovingly said, "Pastor, some of us may not be as interested in this subject as you are." So, I am confining myself to only 4 messages. But that being said, I have once again been set afire by the study of prophecy. Nothing stirs my soul more than reading of future events from God's perspective. Since our Lord is not constrained by time and space everything we read in the Bible about the future is written by the hand of One Who has already seen it come to pass.
I have just finished the first message entitled, "Millions Gone - Conspiracy Cited." I once again began to refresh my mind of those future events that will be heralded by the shout of God. I let my imagination picture the vacant pillows and empty hospital rooms of true believers around the world. For the first time I imagined a mortician who suddenly finds the lifeless body before him disappear into thin air. I imagine every city in the world will suddenly lose thousands of their citizens. Newspapers and news organizations will clamor to come up with a sensible and sellible solution to the crisis. No one will have heard His voice who remain because the Bible teaches us that only His sheep hear His voice. UFO's, terrorists, secret societies and magic may all be suspected of this sudden evacuation, but some will remember what they only thought they had forgotten. Maybe it will be the voice of a Sunday School teacher they will hear. Or perhaps, lodged in the recesses of their mind a sermon happened to make it's way to the forefront. "Did he say that the Lord would return someday for His followers? " Statements too fantastic to believe before will now be too horrible to ignore.
I remember as a teenager listening to a song in youth group that repeated the chorus, "I wish we' d all been ready." This old song about the coming of Christ would always make me think about my eternal destiny. Particularly as the lights were suddenly turned off by someone sitting in the back of the room waiting just before the last word was sung. In the darkness we all thought about where we would spend forever. This Sunday, may God bring people nine to ninety to consider the same thing.