Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘revelation’

What’s in a name?

Expecting our 13th grandchild in just one month, we’ve been asked to pray for a wise choice of a name for him/her. Choosing a name for a child is difficult.  It should be distinctive enough but not odd, nice-sounding and easy to pronounce.  And the initials shouldn’t spell any objectionable word! 

When I was little, I thought my parents had made a poor choice and I let them know I would have preferred “Gorence Cheese.”  Gorence because it sounded like my great-aunt Florence whose name I heard my mom and grandma mentioning with affection.  And Cheese because that was my favorite food.  How glad I am that I didn’t get my way!

I have never had a nickname, though some well-meaning people try to express friendship by shortening my name to the first syllable.  

What intrigues me, however, is that God Himself has a special name for me.  “To everyone who is victorious … I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.” (Revelation 2:17)  What do you suppose it could be? 

To Abram he gave a new name meaning ‘Father of many,’ and He renamed Jacob to Israel, ‘He struggles with God.’  Simon was renamed Peter, ‘Rock.’  These new names reflected God’s perspective and purpose for them.  So what is my secret name in God’s book? 

Whatever it is, I know it will be most lovingly and carefully chosen to reflect my Father’s unique love for me.  And when He calls that name, I will be listening and I’ll joyfully respond. 


They’ve been trying to stop it for over 2000 years, but the harder they try, the more it grows.  What has happened recently in China is an example.  A large new “legal” church building in the eastern province of Zhejiang has been demolished by the government which complained that Christianity’s spread had been “too excessive and too haphazard.”


But demolishing a building cannot stop God and the growth of His Church.  Someone commented, “History has proved and will prove again with this case that another church revival will happen after this new wave of persecution.”

The sociology professor further estimated that China’s total Christian population could hit 247 million people by 2030, which would be the largest Christian population in a single country.

“Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this. It’s ironic – they didn’t. They actually failed completely,”


The sociology professor further estimated that China’s total Christian population could hit 247 million people by 2030, which would be the largest Christian population in a single country.

“Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this. It’s ironic – they didn’t. They actually failed completely,”


The sociology professor further estimated that China’s total Christian population could hit 247 million people by 2030, which would be the largest Christian population in a single country.

“Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this. It’s ironic – they didn’t. They actually failed completely,”


A “sociology professor further estimated that China’s total Christian population could hit 247 million people by 2030, which would be the largest Christian population in a single country.  Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this. It’s ironic – they didn’t. They actually failed completely,”

Back up to the beginning.  The book of Acts chronicles the  beginning of the Church from the day that Jesus told his disciples that the Holy Spirit was about to empower them to take the message about Him “to the ends of the earth.”  (1:8)  The rest of that book gives the details of how that plan unfolded in spite of the opposition of established religion, powerful governments, and daunting physical circumstances.  In fact, the last words of the book (in the original Greek language) refer to Paul’s activity while under house arrest in Rome:  “…proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness unhindered”! (28:20)

And that movement goes on, growing and gaining as godless humanity tries in vain to stomp it out.  Until one day loud voices in heaven will proclaim,

“The kingdom of the world
   has become the kingdom of our Lord
   and of his Messiah,
and he will reign for ever and ever!”
(Revelation 11:15)

That will be a performance of the Hallelujah Chorus that I don’t want to miss!


 Links to articles about the church in China:

Final the End!

My younger sister and I used to argue a lot as kids.  But I got the upper hand when I convinced her that she had to stop whenever I said, “Final the End!” 

This silly memory came to mind the other day when I read the last chapters of the book of Revelation.  After all the atrocities, blasphemies, catastrophes, and devastation written in this book are finished, there will finally and forever be an end to all evil!  When the abominable “Babylon” is totally wiped out, the earth mourns and all in heaven rejoice (chapters 17-18).  Satan and his two puppets are banished forever to the “fiery lake of burning sulfur,” as are those who have give their allegiance to them.

Heaven finally reigns uncontested—and what a celebration!  Its citizens will at last participate in breathtaking splendor and joy. 

–A dazzling new heaven and earth

–No more tears, pain, or death! 

–Water of life, the tree of life

The throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads.  And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. Sun And they will reign forever and ever.  (22:3-5)  

Where we will be then depends on whom we follow today. 

X-ray Vision

Spying seems to have become a way of life nowadays.  One never knows who is snooping, and why.  Do we want the government or others to know what we are writing, whom we are talking to, where we travel, and even what we are thinking?  On the other hand, do we want a doctor to “pry” with his x-ray, ultrasound, MRI or CT scan to see what’s wrong with us? 

When Jesus appeared to the apostle John many years after he had returned to heaven, it was a fearsome sight.  Among other features of his glorious appearance, “his eyes were like blazing fire” (Revelation 1:14)  Later, this image is repeated as he says to one of the seven churches, “I am he who searches hearts and minds.”  How do we feel about Jesus knowing everything about us? 

In chapters 2-3, seven churches get their grade reports from Jesus himself.  He introduces each one with the words, “I know…”  Five of the churches first receive commendation for what they have done right.  Things like their hard work, endurance in the face of suffering, love and obedience.

Then, to five of the churches he delivers the bad news and what will happen if they don’t change their ways.  These are the kinds of issues Jesus considers as very serious:

–Lack of love for God and one another (2:4-5)
–Tolerance of sexual immorality and of false teaching (2:14, 20-23)
–Complacency, pride, and a self-sufficient attitude (3:17)

In other words, they were losing their distinctive and becoming like the non-Christians around them.  How many of us who call ourselves “Christians” find ourselves in this list? 

In each case, the remedy is prescribed
     Turn from our wrong ways! 
     Come to Jesus!
     And remain faithful to the end!

Then the rewards are promised—privileges and rewards for the winners in this earthly struggle:  secure admission and citizenship in God’s heavenly kingdom with such things fruit from the Tree of Life, gold medals (literally, laurel wreaths as awarded to Olympic champions), and even the privilege of sitting with Jesus on his throne! (3:21) 

O LORD, you have examined my heart
     and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
     and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
     even before I say it, LORD.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
     too great for me to understand!

(Psalm 139:1-6)

Who’s Watching You?

Black boxes, white boxes, this and that government agency spying on everyone… It’s quite disturbing really.  But you know what?  There’s Someone who knows my thoughts and my words even before they exist!—and who sees everything I do and has even planned out my life!  And do I think that’s scary?  No!  I am happily secure in the confidence that the all-wise, all-powerful and everywhere-present God loves me enough to care for me in that way. 

He knows my weaknesses–my pride, laziness, rebellious attitudes, fear, cynicism—and yet He loves me unconditionally.  What’s more, He assures me that He’s working on my character so that by the time I finally get to see His face, I’ll be exactly what I’ve always wanted to be:  perfect in His sight.  This is what keeps me going through ho-hum and challenging days when the news reads like a horror movie.  I’ve read the end of the story (Revelation chapters 21-22) and it’s good!

So go with me, Lord, into this day. 

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.  (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT)

Language from Genesis to Revelation

Hintawa man to ngadan nu? 
Como se llama usted? 
Ano ang pangalan mo? 
What is your name? 

So many languages and so many ways of saying things!  Languages both unify and divide people, as we see from Genesis to the end of history described in the book of Revelation.

1.  At the tower of Babel, the single language that had unified the whole earth was suddenly split into many, giving people no alternative but to obey God’s command to inhabit the entire globe.

2. Thousands of years later in Jerusalem, Jews who had adopted the languages of many other countries were startled to hear God’s message, each in their own language.

3.  Since Jesus returned to heaven, His disciples have carried his message to the far corners of the globe, to thousands of language communities.  However, there are still 1919 languages that do not have any part of that message.  People are still waiting to hear!

4.  John the apostle saw the final outcome of this linguistic diversity.  Around the throne of God in heaven, speakers of every language will be joyfully united again with one common purpose:

…a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands.  And they were shouting with a mighty shout, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!”  (Rev 7:9-10)

I suspect that we’ll all understand one another’s languages as we blend them in that great cry of victory and praise to our Maker and Redeemer.

Which Mark?

I have a hard time making decisions, especially when faced with a menu.  I usually find out what my husband is having and then pick the same thing just so I won’t feel bad if his meal looks better than mine!  What if I make the wrong choice?  Well, the stakes aren’t too high in that case…

In the end, though—I’ve been reading the book of Revelation at the end of the Bible—a decision must be made.  Every person on earth will have to decide whether he will accept a mark on his forehead or hand (a chip, maybe) that identifies him as a subject of the world ruler (a.k.a. “the mark of the beast,” Rev. 13:16-17)—OR whether he will accept on his forehead the name of Jesus Christ and God the Father (Rev. 14:1; 22:4).  You must decide whose side you’re on! 

What are the implications of your choice?

If you go with the majority and accept the mark of the world ruler, you will …
–be able to buy, sell, and carry on the business of life for a while (13:17)
–experience eternal torment, with no rest forever (14:9-11)

If you refuse to confirm and and accept God’s name on your forehead, you will…
–be deprived of the necessities of life (no buying/selling) for a while (13:17)
–live joyfully in God’s bright presence forever (3:12; 14:1; 22:4)
–reign forever and ever with Him (22:4)

Which will you choose?  Will it be the temporary comfort or the lasting joy and pleasure?

The Ultimate Melodrama

We enjoyed a high school play a couple of weeks ago—a melodrama!  The students delighted us as they played their carefully scripted and predictable parts.  We cheered and booed on cue as the hero and the villain, respectively, came onstage. 

Why do we like melodrama? Maybe because we can safely predict a  satisfying conclusion, no matter what happens before then.  There’s a Damsel in Distress, tormented by the Villain.  Then along comes the Hero who falls in love with the Damsel and eventually puts an end to the Villain.  He then sweeps the Damsel onto his horse and they ride away into the Sunset, where they Live Happily Ever After.  And of course there’s the audience who cheers and boos.

This is how we want our stories to end.  How we want our lives to work out.  Have you read the book of Revelation lately?  All the ingredients are there—but this is no fictitious melodrama—it will really happen!

The Damsel is introduced in chapters 1-3—the Church in various places.

The Audience—amazing beings and humans surrounding God’s throne in heaven, punctuating the whole story with their cheers of praise.  (4:8, 11; 5:9-14 et al)

The Distress—that’s most of the book of Revelation, isn’t it?  Persecution (6:9-11; 7:14) and all kinds of disasters released from seals, bowls, and trumpets.

The Villain—three of them:  the Dragon (12:3-18; 20:1-3), the Beast from the sea (13:1-8), and the Beast from the earth (13:11-18). 

The Hero—the Lamb (5:5-8; 7:17) a.k.a. the Rider on the White Horse, a.k.a. King of kings and Lord of lords (19:11-16, 21) who totally annihilates his enemies!

The Defeat of the Villains—Into the Lake of Fire. (19:20, 20:10)

The Wedding and endless Honeymoon, on a New Earth ruled from a dazzling City that descends from heaven.  (21:10 – 22:5)

And the Wedding Invitation?  Come!  Anyone who wants to!  (22:17) Be a part of this better-than-fiction drama that will soon unfold.  Be (part of) the Damsel no longer in distress but in the arms of her beloved and beautiful Savior!

Heaven on Earth

In the book of Revelation, the scene repeatedly shifts back and forth between earth and heaven.  On earth it’s going from bad to worse.  Meanwhile in heaven, God is on His brilliant throne, surrounded by the praise of all different kinds of enthusiastic worshippers.

Till the climax of history when at last heaven comes to the renewed earth and God makes his home among men and women. He will live with us His people, personally wiping the tears from our eyes (21:3-4) and shining the light of Himself on us.  We will see His face, be marked with His name and reign with Him forever (22:4-5).  God and people, so long estranged, will be together again.  Earth and heaven, long separated, will be one. 

Joy to the world! 

Revelation at the Well

One of my favorite scenes in the movie, “The Gospel of John” (The Visual Bible, 2003.*) is the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman in chapter 4.  This woman’s attitude toward Jesus is superbly portrayed in this movie, developing from cynicism to incredulity and then elation and faith.  This corresponds with her perception of who Jesus is–in four stages:

“You are a Jew” (v. 9).  Just a foreign male who had no business talking with her.

“I can see that you are a prophet” (v. 19).  Someone with supernatural knowledge—specifically, about her unsavory past. 

“Could this be the Messiah?” (v. 29).  A man she and her people been waiting for, sent from God, who would explain everything to them (v. 25-26).  

“We know that this man really is the Savior of the world” (v. 42).  Now the believing townspeople are speaking along with the woman. 

Are there people in my world today who seem like unlikely prospects for faith but would actually respond if I went out of my way to engage them?  Do stereotypes prevent me from introducing Jesus to them? 

*Can be seen at starting at 5:35.

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