Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Reading

I am a book aficionado. And now that my semester reading is done for seminary, I can actually get to some Christmas reading. I have a large stack of books that have been piling up in my apartment unread.

I just finished Joel C. Rosenberg’s most recent (nonfiction) book: Epicenter: Why the Rumblings in the Middle East Will Change Your Future. It was a quick read, and I was riveted. Perhaps later I’ll post my own review of it. I enjoyed this one, and will probably be reading the rest of Rosenberg’s political novels in the near future. I highly endorse this book.

Next I’m looking forward to reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. I greatly enjoyed The Tipping Point and in fact would consider it one of the best and most influential books I’ve read. It deals with issues in marketing, trends, and life in general. I remember one occasion, before I bought Blink, sitting in the aisle at Borders and reading the first chapter. Once again, I was riveted. I knew at that point that Blink would be a must-read.

I’ll also be looking forward to another book that I just recently got: Love Worth Finding: The Life of Adrian Rogers And His Philosophy of Preaching by his wife Joyce. I remember the only time I heard Dr. Rogers speak in person. He spoke for only about 20 minutes, and left me wanting more! I felt as though he’d only spoken for 5! Come to think of it, Ben Cole has a neat video on his blog about the life of Dr. Rogers. You might want to check it out. I might actually read this one next because I’m taking a preaching class this spring. I do believe that Adrian Rogers was one of the greatest preachers of the 20th Century without a doubt. I’m definitely looking forward to this read.

Third, I’m looking at reading Erwin McManus’s The Barbarian Way. I’ve been interested in reading this one for a long time now. I liked Eldridge’s Wild at Heart, though I was less impressed with his other works. I like the idea of an untamed faith. I’ve not read anything from McManus yet, but he seems to have some good stuff out.

I may not be able to get to all of these until spring break, but I definitely think that this will make my break go quickly. This will certainly make my Christmas at my in-laws’ (this is my first married Christmas – pray for me brethren and sistren), but I’ve no doubt this will speed things along.

Merry Christmas all!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Last Days

Since finals are over now, I've had a little free time and have begun reading a new book byJoel C. Rosenberg. I've been impressed by Rosenberg's work, I read one of his novels and am currently reading his nonfiction work entitled Epicenter: Why the Current Rumblings in the Middle East Well Change Your Future. It makes for quite an interesting read so far, and it's gotten me thinking, "are we really living in the end times?"

I recognize that this question has been asked for a long, long time by an innumerable number of believers. Every generation has had people who believed they were living in the last days. Jesus warns that no one knows the day nor the hour except the Father in Heaven, but warns us to be vigilant (Mt. 24; Mk 13).

Rosenberg brings together some points that I found quite interesting. First, he discusses the "political earthquakes" that have been shaking the middle east in the past several years (it's interesting that he quotes several different news sources that all use the same "earthquake" language). He also points to the rise of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose goal is to get nuclear weapons and unleash them upon Israel. Rosenburg says of Ahmadinejad, "He told associates that he believed the end of the world was just two or three years away. He said he believed he had been chosen by Allah to become Iran's leader at this critical hour to hasten the coming of the Islamic messiah known as the Twelfth Imam or the Mahdi by launching a final holy war against Christians and Jews." This sounds like it fits quite well with events depicted in Judeo-Christian apocalyptic accounts (Ezekiel, Daniel, Revelation). The Twelfth Imam is a "messiah" (jewish word is "christ") - if he is a false messiah he is "anti-christ." I've somehow not heard anyone make that connection yet, but it's probably just that I've not been looking or listening to the right things at the right time.

Ahmadinejad has declared that he wants to start a holy war with his nuclear weapons in the next two or three years (i.e., 2007-2009 - he was elected in 2005). He has declared that he wants to destroy Israel (the "little satan") and America (the "great satan"). During the next two or three years the following are scheduled to happen -- George W. Bush leaves office, a new president is elected, US troops begin to leave Iraq(?), British PM Tony Blair leaves office. This removes some of the personalities with the strongest motivation to fight the forces of radical Islamic terrorism. Will the next leaders be willing to give them control of the middle east? The fictional future that Rosenberg portrays in his novels indicates that he believes our leaders will not have the will to stop them.

My point with this post is not to speculate about when Christ is coming back or the order of events surrounding his return. Rather, I'm simply asking a few questions. If He is coming back soon are we ready and waiting or are we preoccupied with other things? Will we be living in comfort, insulated from the World up until then? Will we continue to live as we have, or will we begin to have an end-times mindset that places our own comforts on the back burner? I know it was an eye-opener for me. I haven't been living as though I expected Christ to come back in my lifetime. I think that many others like me have been lulled into a false sense of comfort. We just assume that life will continue on just as it always has because it always has.

At first, when I began reading and began to realize that the end could be near, I was a bit unnerved. Then I recognized that there is nothing I can do to stop or forestall it. God will send Christ back when the time is right, and only He knows when that will be. Ultimately I know that things will get bad (whether or not we'll be here remains to be seen), but in the end Jesus will prevail and set up His eternal reign on earth. Let not your hearts be troubled, but let's at least recognize that we are in a time and geo-political situation that could be just what the Bible describes. Are we ready?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Still alive an Blogging

Well, I've not posted anything in some time, but I am still alive. I've not been on a "blog fast" per se, it's just that other things have taken my attention of late. Like many others I get tired of hearing about how busy we all are, and so I'll not say that "I've been busy" (haven't we all?). Lately there seems to have been little in the blog world to interest me, and more and more in other spheres that has grabbed my attention.

I'm formulating some thoughts for new posts and should be working on some things soon--my last final exam is tomorrow, so we may see something here before the end of the week.