Parannoyed

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Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.  Luke 21:10-11

This can’t be good for us.

Living like this.  Looking over our shoulders for the next terrible thing to happen.  Waiting for the other size 15 shoe to drop.  Watching it raining crazy around the globe.

I’ve decided I’m being parannoyed.  Both paranoid with fear over what comes next, and annoyed that this appears to be my new normal.  Do you feel this way too?

It doesn’t really feel like the end of the world, to me.  Just more of the same long line of crazy stuff we humans are capable of.  However, that list in Luke makes me feel the same as all the recent things happening in our world make me feel.

It’s this feeling of doom.  Of non-stop yuckiness.  Of powerlessness.  It just keeps coming.  So much so that it’s beyond distressing.

It’s parannoying.  One irritating reason to be afraid after another.

This can’t be good for us!  The human body can only take so much stress.  The human mind can only process so much negativity.  The human heart can only be slapped around so many times before we’re brought to our knees.

Ah, but here’s some help:  Mid way through Jesus’ list of end times event, he says,  “Stand firm, and you will win life.”

For us to stand firm means to put our trust in Christ as our sure foundation.  In Christ, we remember that we live according to God’s plans, not the world’s chaos.  And Christ reminds us that there is more to the story than what we see on the nightly news.

So stand firm, dear Christian. Trade out your paranoia for passion.  Exchange your annoyance for assurance.

That’s right. It will be very very good for us, if we

trade out our parannoyance…

for some Blessed Passurance.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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The Final Four

Ladies and Gentlemen, THE FINAL FOUR:

Conquest, War, Famine, and Plague!!!

(What, no cheering?)

Even as basketball fans around the country are rooting for their favorite team (or tearing up their brackets), could it be that out there in the near future, trapped behind seals of the Book of Life, are four horsemen waiting to unleash their punishment upon the earth?

(YIKES! If so, please let if happen after the Championship game)

The Book of Revelation devotes only a handful of verses to them, but they have intrigued and confounded believers for 2000 years. Four horsemen, one in white, one in red, one in black and one a paley green. And each of them delivering a message of judgement upon lowly sinners.

Is this a literal depiction of real events that will happen? Some Christians believe so. Is this a symbolic depiction of real events that were plaguing the world back in John’s day? Many Christians would say that.

Is this a mess of images and metaphors that don’t make any sense at all? I’ll confess, I’ve said that before.

The imagery is often violent, and epic. The symbolism is really tricky. For instance, scholars today argue over the first horse, the white one. Does that represent Christ, or the AntiChrist?

Wow. You’ve got me. But if we can’t even decide which side the white horse is playing for, how do we know who to root for?

And why pick Conquest and Famine as part of the Final Four?  What about Plague and War?

These are not the Final Four I’d have in my bracket.

I’d have the Lone Ranger and Silver. They’re a great duo.

I’d have Black Beauty, who doesn’t even need a rider.

I’d even have that War Horse from the latest Stephen Spielberg movie that I didn’t see.

And maybe Mr. Ed.

Now there’s a fun Final Four! Who’s with me?

Okay, I’m being irreverent here. But my point is valid: Why do the Final Four have to be harbingers of such destruction? Why does the world have to go out with such a terrible bang?

Perhaps, buried in all that symbolism, is an important message for us to remember: There is no room in the Kingdom of God for sin, and injustice, and greed. For us to move from our imperfect world into God’s perfect Love will not be easy for any of us.

Like a refining fire burning away our faults, moving into a world of Grace will mean letting go of our selfish desires. That might be traumatic.

I don’t know if I’m ready. How about you?

As much as I pray “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done”, I may not be fully prepared for The Final Four, or any other version of complete conversion.

Perhaps that’s why John wrote Revelation. To get us prepared.

Hmm. Could be.

Regardless, let this year’s NCAA tournament serve as a strong reminder:

You may find yourself in the midst of The Final Four,

in a year when you least expected to.

Have a great week, and get ready!

Mitch