Monthly Archives: February 2016

Handel’s Messiah in February?

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In the spirit of recycling old stuff… this is a blog post from 2012 that I wanted to re-post. An old classmate brought up Handel and this got me to thinking… maybe it’s worth a re-visit.

I remember how excited I was after we went to the symphony and just had to put it down in writing. I remember going to work with one of my chaplain brothers at the jail, Jerry Ashley, and we just went on and on about the experience. Jerry passed away last year… I miss him. But I do remember the excitement we shared after I went to the Messiah. He said he was going the following year. He’s with the Messiah in heaven so he’s not going to the symphony… I’ll bet he’s really experiencing the hallelujah chorus!

Anyway… makes me a little sad to reminisce… with all that here’s my post from 2012:

Our daughter gave us an early Christmas present. She treated us to Handel’s Messiah at the SF Symphony. What a nice, festive evening out in the city. We BART trained over and got there early and I had no idea what a treat I was in for on a Friday night.  Now if you want to learn a little about Handel. We found a good article that will get you up to speed  http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/131christians/musiciansartistsandwriters/handel.html

That’s not why this needs to be blogged about. You see, I had no idea, I thought I knew a little about Messiah, the few songs we hear at Christmas time…. The Hallelujah chorus (which by the way… was so powerful that the audience rose to their feet spontaneously), the famous Isaiah 9 song, For unto us a Child is born, but I had no idea that the symphony is set directly to scripture.

There was a program handed out, and I didn’t take one. Figuring I didn’t need it, I was here for the listening pleasure. But when I realized it was going verse by verse I got myself a program in hand at the first intermission.

Some of the verses are so rich and say it all. Guess you don’t need too much commentary, God can speak for himself. I was thinking (and so were many of Handel’s detractors) that this would play well at Easter… great selection of Lenten type material. I was also thinking and praying for those around me… do you folks realize what is being sung? Do you hear the message? Now I’m not any kind of judge nor do I ever want to think of myself better than anyone in the crowd… trust me, I’m not. I’m a sinner saved my grace and a fellow beggar that is just someone that tells others where they can get a meal. And… they sure could have received a meal last night… it was a feast of sorts.

But, what I wanted to say… I don’t think this crowd was getting the message. I just had a sneaking suspicion as I panned around and looked at those in attendance. Just my humble opinion.

Handel was very clever how he used the scriptures to share the message… it was the Gospel set to beautiful music. Now this classic rendition we heard last night was not wasted on anyone…  I believe Isaiah 55 http://bible.cc/isaiah/55-11.htm the Lord’s Word always accomplishes it purpose.

I wanted to take a minute and look at some of the great verses that were put to music… and what fine musicians they were by the way, and what a place… take a look….

The first key verse to note was Isaiah 9:6:

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Written 700 years before Christ and the passage surely seems to be pointing right towards Jesus. Someone has said, just how was he able to foretell that the Christ would come and fulfill this? Only because of 2 Peter 1:21  21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. The “chorus” was sung by the entire choir and that was a high for the evening.

Then there were many passages that rung of an Easter program out of Isaiah 53:4-6

4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

How do you escape that message? I don’t understand. Now to the highest point of the evening… the Hallelujah chorus with passages out of Revelation 11:15, 19:6, 16

Hallelujah: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

And then the resounding King of Kings and Lord of Lords. That was impressive.

I could go on and on…. About 25-30 key Bible sections that Handel covered. I had no idea. We are going to have to do that again. Maybe an annual tradition. Walking to the BART station from that incredible event was a real eye opener in contrasts. We just heard about the incredible glory that will be revealed… the symphony spent extra time in one of my favorite sections in 1 Corinthians 15

20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.                                                                                

The contrast is the state of things right now versus what is coming. As sure as they sung about these beautiful things, and as sure as God’s Word is, these things sung last night will come to pass. That’s what a lot of these folks weren’t getting and it takes a lot for it to get through to my dense mind as well.

As I walked to the train and then headed home to a warm house stocked with food, then into a warm winter’s night sleep, I was thinking of what I saw in the city. The homeless folks, the kids that looked awful lost, a few cities that did not look so good on the outside. Something is not right

Not to take too far of a turn here, this is a blog to encourage and turn our hearts to the Lord, surely Handel’s Messiah will do that for you. But we have to realize when we look around, especially in a big city, that we are definitely in the “in between time”… between Christ’s first and second Advent. A favorite phrase of mine you will catch now when you read your Bible (look for it)  this age and the age to come”.  Handel selected perfect passages out of the Revelation of John and 1 Corinthians 15 that share how all things will be made right.

The Lord uses works like this to work on us in this sin hardened world. He has a beautiful future waiting for us and it was summed up in a verse he used earlier in the program found in Matthew 11:28-29… read this and realize the “rest” that only can come from above. I don’t know about you but this world of ours can make us weary… I long for what only this Messiah can bring us…

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 

 

 

 

It’s the end of the world!!

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This is a re-post of a blog I wrote in 2012. I just re-read it… I thought it might be worth re-posting. Take a read and tell me what you think.

THE END OF THE WORLD!! I don’t think there has ever been so much noise made over a subject. In this small space over the few minutes or so I’ll show you what I mean by THE END. Remember last year? Harold Camping’s dire predictions? He called it for about the 5th time and was wrong again….  http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2011/10/harold-camping-doomsday-prophet-wrong-again/

But he apologized for it, so it’s okay… you know what they used to do to those in Bible times that made faulty predictions? One of my favorite teachers was too nice to him in his blog… http://www.ligonier.org/blog/harold-camping-false-prophet/

I think Camping caused a lot of mess, but maybe there was something redeeming about the whole fiasco. People need to have a grip on matters that deal with eternal destiny. There are two things guaranteed in this life according to Mark Twain… and one of them is death. I would say the other is the fact that there is an end to this age as we know it. I grew up in a traditional church on the east coast and after taking communion they always had what was called the Memorial Acclamation. For those interested in these things…. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorial_Acclamation. The words… “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again”… just blew by me until I got in my twenties… Christ will come again? Ever recite the Lord’s Prayer? “Thy Kingdom come”. This kingdom stuff is strewn all over the Bible. Very interesting. Don’t you wonder what this is all about? This is all tied into THE END OF THE WORLD as we know it… but, as you will see… there is no end as far as finality goes. Hopefully, I can make some sense out of the nonsense for you by the time we are done here.

There is a fascination in the heart of man like no other it seems when it comes to the END OF THE WORLD  (I like to do the caps for dramatic effect). Seems so ominous when I see it in headlines or on the picture boards people wear…

There have been more books, movies, words, and messages dedicated to this subject. I myself have spent countless hours studying and learning about the end times. I surely wanted to make sure I’m pretty clear about the future and what it holds. So do a lot of other people, so it seems… or else you would not be reading this. This is a compelling subject.

Books… did you know the Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey was the best selling non-fiction book of the 70’s? Did you know the Left Behind series by Tim Lahaye has far exceeded any of those sales with about 50 million units sold? John Walvoord’s book about the Middle East crisis keeps popping up every time things get stirred up over there… but with a new cover each round. That has been a pretty good mover as well.  Type in a Google search for Last days or End of Days…. about 721,000,000 hits is what I got!

Did you realize that for a day… May 21, 2011 that the End of the World was Google’s hottest topic! http://ipost.christianpost.com/news/jesus-resurrects-on-google-as-harold-campings-rapture-fails-10103/ . It was also recorded that the fellow that was pushing the 2 dates last year made a lot of money over this deal… Google that one… Camping is worth millions and millions. That doesn’t set well with me. Besides upsetting so many folks like he did he cashed in on the hype.

Movies… how many movies have there been? Too many to list here, and too much time for me to research. I know that in church circles in the 70’s there were some really bad ones that we used to scare folks into making a decision to follow Christ… remember Thief in the Night and Distant Thunder… they were really B movies and not a good method for winning souls to our Lord. But for those interested in Last Days cinema: here are the top 10… http://www.moviedup.com/2010/top-10-end-of-the-world-films/ . Remember, even Arnold got into it and made the thriller –  “End of Days”. Oh, his Terminators flicks had an end of days flavor to them as well.

Song… even music gets into it and there have been doomsday songs on the radio… Barry McGuire’s Eve of Destruction was popular when I first started listening to pop music (he has since turned into a great folk gospel artist… I even went to a concert… great stuff!). There is weird stuff when it comes to Last Days music… try that Google search… a little morbid and depressing. But there was Keith Green, who I listened to in the 80’s who was famous for his Last Days ministries… which is still going and doing some great things http://www.lastdaysministries.org/Groups/1000008637/Last_Days_Ministries/LDM/Our_Story/Our_Story.aspx   they seem to have some last days stuff that makes sense.

Why all the fascination with Last Days, the End of the World? Why all the googling and ogling? Books? It’s crazy what this subject does to people. Well, here are my thoughts as to why there is such a stir. Hopefully… I can make some sense out of the nonsense. I won’t do a Letterman top ten list… I just have five reasons why the clamor over the subject.

Number 1… I think some people treat the subject like they would a train wreck. There is a weird place in many a human being for the mayhem and destruction… ever see how well these goofy destruction movies do? There is a sick side to human nature… part of the fall I suppose.

Number 2… There is the “Lemming effect” or Pied Piper thing where people just seem to listen to anyone with a grandiose prediction or prophecy. Nostradamus has received a lot of play. Orwell’s 1984, Late Great books, Jim Jones, David Koresh… etc. Even in our churches today, get a guy with a lot of charisma and he can get 20,000 parishioners a week to partake of the cool aid. Sad to say… there are hundreds of thousands a week that follow blindly and don’t ask the hard questions like the noble Berean’s did back in the first century http://bible.cc/acts/17-11.htm  They listened, then went home, and checked it out for themselves, and tested what they heard to make sure it was true. Unfortunately… too many lazies that don’t check stuff out for themselves… awful lot of phonies running around these days. The Bible calls them false prophets, warns us about them, and gives implicit warnings as to how to deal with them. There are plenty of scriptural directives as to how to smell one of them.

Number 3… the Fear Factor… there are folks afraid and looking for answers. Fear is one of the worst motivators, isn’t it? So sad that these doomsayers don’t seem to have any good answers, do they? Harold said he was sorry. I do feel sorry for him. Scripture has harsh warnings for those who lead people astray. Don’t want to be in that group of individuals.

Number 4… I think there are those that just are fascinated with the whole thing. It is like these new Play Station games that are coming out. Destruction, chaos, mayhem, war, fighting, darkness, nuclear holocaust aftermath. Didn’t Will smith just make a movie like this? Didn’t Denzel just make one too? Guys think of it as war games and they are just into it. Remember the Terminator series and all the movies that were spawned after it? I don’t quite get this myself. Never have played video games but I see the commercials as you do. There is some kind of market…. And the warning goes at the end of the commercial…rated “M” for mature. How many mature kids are playing these?

Number 5… and the most important… there are those legitimately concerned about the future and their personal eternal destinies. I am. I know I was sure afraid of all the hype surrounding the future… death, end of the world, last days, the apocalypse, etc. That was what drew me to Christianity at first… I was really fearful of the future. There are many that have honest concerns, questions, and misconceptions.

Can we make sense of the nonsense? Where do we turn for some straight answers? Are there any? Or, just weird religious views? Yes… always in the religious category box. Nothing to do with accurate, historical information. Some people just have a bleak view and say you just got to keep the faith brother? Or, that we really can’t know or understand… just have to trust God, the mysteries are in His hands. Well, I’m not buying into that, never have, never will.

There has been sufficient Revelation given (The Bible), accurate Revelation and information that can help us have clear answers and a sure hope for the future. And I’m not going to make it easy in a 1,2, 3 formulaic way for you to have all the answers. It’s not that easy. But I will point you to where you need to go for some healthy information. There is an abundance of Scripture and resources but you have to do some mining, some of your own research. While we are on the subject of five… I have five things you can do to get your own answers about the Last Days.

First thing is some reading… here’s a site for some great books on the Last Days of this age… http://www.monergismbooks.com/Last-Things-Eschatology-p-1-c-588.html The technical term is eschatology… don’t let the big word intimidate you. Just refers to the last days of this age we are living in. Don’t go for the pop end times culture stuff that you find in Wal Mart or Costco. I actually got to meet the author of those books, nice guy, great guy but the Left Behind stuff will do just that to you as far as knowledge goes.

Secondly… realize that it is not the end that’s coming. Not in the sense that we are all toast… its final, we are all going up in a nuclear holocaust. The Bible clearly talks about this age and the age to come… http://www.2pi.info/bible/plan/kingdom/TwoAgeModel.html  Type the phrase into a Google search… very interesting results… littered all over the New Testament. There is an age to come.

Third… listen to some good stuff in regards to the End Times. Two places I find some great free stuff: http://kimriddlebarger.squarespace.com/ and  http://www.whitehorseinn.org/blog/category/white-horse-inn/2011-show-archive/

Fourth…  test everything yourself. Look it up, study for yourself, question, don’t settle, be diligent. Remember those noble Berean’s in the book of Acts? Find some smart people and volley the subject with them. This is important stuff. What are others saying? What do they believe?

Fifth and lastly… have you seen the end of the story? Like I said earlier it’s not the end, it’s the beginning. There are some great chapters at the end of the 66 book collection called the Bible. Have you read:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

5He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

6He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. Revelation 21

Throughout the scriptures there is this theme of a new world coming… there is a bright hope, a future, it is not the end, but the beginning. The “curse” will be reversed and things will be as they once were… certainly the way things are now are not the way things were intended to be. Don’t believe in a fall? I challenge you to pick up a newspaper on any given day. That proves my point. Why can’t we all just get along… because we can’t and we won’t until we meet up again with the Prince of Peace.

So… all that to say this… The End of the World? The Last Days? Apocalypse? Left Behind? Armageddon (we didn’t even deal with the big term). What do you think now? Are you going to check it all out for yourself now… without the fear factor? Now the last words about the Last Days as we know them…

“Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.”

Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near. Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.”

“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

The operative words…. Come, thirsty, free, life. Read these things for yourself if you want to be sure about these last days. There are some clear, concise answers to be found. You can always EMAIL me with any unanswered questions.

Easter is sneaking up on us fast… now that you understand a little more about these end days. When we combine what happened at Easter it’s a pretty complete package.  I feel an Easter blog coming on!