Random thoughts on Life, Leadership, & Messy Spirituality

Why I’m not teaching about “End Times”

I have been asked numerous times this year, by people inside & outside of our church, “Why are you not doing a teaching series on the End Times?” I understand the question – there is a lot of concern and fear associated with everything going on in our world, world economy, the direction the U.S. gov’t. appears to be going, etc. A lot of people are asking is all of this a sign of the end times as foretold in the book of Revelation. The church I grew up in would have jumped all over this like “stink on a pig” (I’ve been in Georgia too long ;-)) They would have fanned the flames of fear and gotten everyone all worked up about our current world events. I personally think that is a bit irresponsible – but let me back up just a bit.

When I am asked why I’m not doing a teaching series on the End Times – my question to that person is “When is the last time you shared your faith & talked with someone about Jesus? When is the last time you invited someone to church where they could hear about the God who loves them, created them, and wants to have a relationship with them? When is the last time you were out in your community serving the homeless, orphans, drug addicts, etc?” After asking these questions I normally have a person with a very perplexed look on their face staring back at me.

Here’s the point – Jesus didn’t say “Sit around worrying about tomorrow”, “Group up in your holy huddles fearfully studying the Bible & trying to figure out when I’m going to return”, or anything of that nature. Jesus said, “GO and make disciples…” (BTW: A disciple is someone who is LIVING OUT what Jesus told us to do). Jesus said, “Love God – Love others…”, Jesus said, “Take care of the widows and orphans”. My belief is that too many people are allowing themselves to be DISTRACTED from what Jesus told us to do.  So, rather than sitting in those holy little huddles puffing ourselves up with all kinds of knowledge (we need to do that to a certain degree) – but rather than spending most of our time doing that – GO – LIVE OUT what Jesus has told you to do. Here’s 2 ideas I’ve shared many times before: 1) Our problem is not knowing what to do – it is doing what we already know. 2) God is not impressed with how much knowledge/truth you have aquired – He is impressed by how much knowledge/truth you practice and put into action.

Here’s another reason I’m not doing a series on the End Times – because I haven’t got a clue when it will come. It may be in our lifetime and it may not be in our lifetime. And if some yahoo on christian television or at a church somewhere tells you that they know when it will come – RUN the other direction! That person is claiming that the Bible is untrue – that God is a liar – because here’s just a small bit of what the Bible says… “Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” (1 Thess 5:1-2) Jesus himself said… (Matthew 24:42)  – “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.” (Matthew 24:44)  – “For the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. (Matthew 24:36)  – “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” (Matthew 25:13)  – “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.”

Basically, here is what I teach about the End Times – and it doesn’t take a whole teaching series to do it – ready? ———— He’s coming! ———– maybe in our lifetime – maybe not – but He is coming! And when it happens, if you have a personal relationship with Jesus – life is great! If you don’t – you’re in trouble.

So here’s my suggestion, let’s just live each day as if it were our last opportunity to GO & do what Jesus has told us to do here on this earth.  Love God – Love Others – Serve the World!!! Let’s get busy doing something about all of those people who don’t yet have that personal relationship with Jesus. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted from what Jesus has commanded us to do!

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6 responses

  1. Cathy Conrad

    Amen to that!!!! Worrying about getting to the end of *today* is sufficient stress for me. And like you said, if you’re following Jesus and doing your level best to serve Him, you’re going to be OK regardless of whether we’re in the End Times or not. Thank you.

    September 16, 2009 at 1:40 pm

  2. Tracy

    Well said 🙂

    September 16, 2009 at 4:44 pm

  3. John Young

    Amen. It is my belief that the best way to prepare for the “end of times” is to spend “your time” doing what Jesus instructed, or as you said, go out and make disciples of your brothers and sisters. It seems to me that if you focus on this you won’t have to focus on the end. Just an idea from somebody more concerned with learning the teachings of Jesus than worrying about him coming back and “kicking my butt” for not practicing what He taught. Love ya’ll and God bless!

    September 17, 2009 at 12:11 am

  4. Howard,

    I really enjoy reading your blogs. They are at times challenging and thought provoking. This particular blog was especially so. While I understand and agree that many become obsessed with the topic of the end times, often for the wrong reasons, I also believe that it is a topic that is not merely a distraction and one that is worthy of our attention. I believe the scripture supports this position.

    Jesus was asked a very similar question as recorded in;

    Matthew 24:3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” NIV

    Mark 13:3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?” NIV

    Luke 21:7 “Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?” NIV

    Jesus responded to their question in length. His response is what some call the “Olivet Discourse”. I would recommend that those interesting in this topic take the time to read our Lord’s response in Matthew Chapters 24/25, Mark 13 and Luke 21.

    It is true that none of us have a clue as to the day or hour. This was why Jesus told us to keep watch:

    Matt 25:13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

    Mark 13:32 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. NIV

    Luke 21:36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” NIV

    While He was not addressing this specific topic, Jesus also said not to sit around and worry but to “seek His kingdom and His righteousness”.

    Matt 6:31-34
    31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
    NIV

    In Matthew 13 Jesus associated the kingdom with the end times:

    Matt 13:47-50

    47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. NIV

    The book of Revelation begins with these words:

    Rev 1:1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw — that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. NIV

    The book of Revelation is not only rich concerning the specific topic at hand but it is a book filled with hope, the hope of which our faith is founded upon. Those interested should read it and be blessed, listen to it being read and be blessed, take to heart the message and be blessed.

    Yes Jesus commanded to “Go and make disciples”. But why? At least in part to ready us for His return. So with so much of scripture dedicated to the topic of His return and the end times I too believe we should do as Jesus also commanded, “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

    God bless and thank you for all you do.

    September 18, 2009 at 2:39 pm

  5. Another great blog, Howard. Mind if I share it? Didn’t think so. 😉

    August 4, 2010 at 2:06 pm

  6. Kris

    Well said Howard!

    I continue to be amazed about your delivery of God’s messages and can freely admit that you and EPC are the reasons why my relationship with God is constantly improving and my life is better and more meaningful than ever before. ( OK, my wife has a little to do with that as well 😉 )

    Whenever you have experienced a life-changing event in your past, in my case a bad motorcycle accident, I can assure you it will change your outlook on life and everybody around you! I am living every day like it’s the last one, BUT I also live for the future. A future, which is uncertain in so many respects, that I only worry about the “big stuff” – things that really matter to me and my family and more importantly, things I can change or at least influence to a degree. The past is the past, nobody can do anything about it – you can only learn from it!

    Do I worry? Yes, we all do – it’s human nature. The key is to recognize that you can do only so much and at the end of the day, you trust in God and your faith!

    Howard, thank you for doing what you do!

    Kris

    August 4, 2010 at 4:55 pm

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