Tuesday, August 12, 2014

6 Reasons Why Revelation is My Favorite Book of The Bible

Many people find the book of Revelation confusing, scary and hard to read.  Not me.  Ever since I read it deeply for the first time it has been my favorite book of the Bible.

This is not to say that I understand 100% of the content.  Indeed, I still haven't chosen a position on my view of the time frame of Revelation or of the Millenium (mentioned in Revelation 20) even after a great deal of thought and research over the past 6 years.  But you don't need to know exactly what each detail means to get an incredible amount of insight and encouragement from this book.  Here are six reasons why Revelation is my favorite book of the Bible.

The Descriptions of Jesus
 "The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze" Revelation 2:18
"The First and the Last, who died and came to life" Revelation 2:8
"The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation" Revelation 3:14
"A lamb standing, as though it had been slain" Revelation 5:6 (Jesus WAS slain but IS standing!)
"He is clothed in a robe dipped in Blood... From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron.  He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.  On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written: King of kings and Lord of lords." 19:13, 15-16
"[He] is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war" 19:11

Does this sound like a long haired, skirt wearing, hippie Jesus? No, Jesus' character is so much deeper and wider than he is commonly portrayed these days.  That's why I love the mind-blowing descriptions of him in Revelation.

The Descriptions of God
"And he who sat there [on the throne] had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald... from the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings, and peals of thunder..." 4:3, 5
"And one of the four living creatures gave to the seen angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary of God until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished" 15:7-8

And these don't even do the real thing justice... they are just the closest John could come using human language.

God's Victory Over Evil
"We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power
and begun to reign.
The nations raged,
but your wrath came,
and the time for the dead to be judged,
and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints,
and those who fear your name,
both small and great,
and for destroying the destroyers of the earth." 11:17-18
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
for his judgements are true and just;
for he has judged the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth with her immorality,
and has avenged on her the blood of his servants." 19:1-2

When I see all the evil in the world and am tempted to be discouraged, I always go back to Revelation, and remember that on the day he has appointed, God will destroy all the destroyers of the earth. Praise Him!

The Descriptions of Believers
"And they have conquered him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives, even unto death" 12:11
"Here is the call for the endurance of the Saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus" 14:12
"They loved not their lives even unto death." 12:11
"The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life.  I will confess him name before my Father and before his angels." 3:5

This isn't somebody who "prayed a prayer".  These are people who take the commands of God seriously, whose lives have been changed permanently, to a course where they don't even love their lives, they have been given up to following Jesus even if it means to death.  And the reward is eternal.

The Prayers Directed Towards God
"Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord,
and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship you
for your righteous acts have been revealed." 15:3-4
"Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created." 4:11
"Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain and by your blood you ransomed a people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth." 5:9-10

How many churches sing praise and worship songs that sound like this?  This is powerful stuff.

Descriptions of Non-Believers 
[after seeing incredible plagues of God being poured out upon the earth] "The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hand nor give up worshipping demons and and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts" 9:20-21
"And all who dwell on the earth worship will worship it [the Beast], everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain." 13:8
"They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues.  They did not repent or give him glory." 16:9
"People gnawed their tongues in anguish and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores.  They did not repent of their deeds." 16:10-11
"And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the hail was so severe" 16:21

These verses make it clear that there is a kind of belief in God, belief without repentance, that does not save.  It also shows that God can make himself very obvious and people still choose not to trust in Him.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

July in our Home

First, something (big) that actually happened last month, but I forgot to mention: we got a van!  We've shared one car for most of our marriage (and all of the last 3 years) so this is big news.  Its a 1997 Honda Odyssey, so it'll probably last until we outgrow it (it only seats 6, not 7 like most vans) and the nice part is that its old and rusty so I don't have to worry about dents and scratches and the kids getting the seats dirty, etc.  Its also nice to have plenty of room to haul things around, like our huge double stroller, random items that I garbage pick, freecycle acquisitions, etc...

Now on to July.
Love these dudes.
The second weekend of July was our church's annual conference (and it was actually our second time going, as we had flown in from California last year to attend.)  The topic was "Salt and Light: Confessing Christ in the Public Square" and Doug Wilson flew in to speak, and several of our pastors spoke as well.  You can listen to the talks here.  I especially recommend the breakout sessions "Who is my Neighbor? Confessing Christ on our Block" and "Sharp Arrows: Training our Children to Confess Christ".  The conference was especially fun as my cousin came in from Cincinnati to attend.  We're counting down our visits with her as she is planning to go to Bulgaria for 2 years at the end of this month.  We're really going to miss her!

The last week of July saw our first trip back to California since our big move.  It was a great time.  We went for a wedding that Alex was in, but stayed for a full week, hanging out with friends the whole time.  We also got to see a sweet little girl who lived with us the first year of her life (I have really missed seeing her!).  It was really nice to be in California and actually get to enjoy it.  Our time living there was filled with so many different stress factors that when we left it was easy to forget the parts we loved.  Catching up with friends we care about was refreshing and encouraging.

Esther and "Lala".  A year younger than
Esther with 3x as much hair!
Did I mention that I now have a sewing table?  Since we moved to our new apartment last month, I now have a table in our bedroom devoted to my sewing machine and other craftiness.  This has made sewing so much easier and quicker, and I have been taking advantage!  In July I made a couple sets of bean bags, fabric blocks and a little girl's purse - all gifts for different friends.  I've been so grateful to be able to have the time and space to do these projects!  I'm not artsy, but I do need some sort of sewing/crafty outlet in my life.

Books I read this month:

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

Montessouri Play and Learn: a Parent's Guide to Purposeful Play from Two to Six by Lesley Britton