Posted tagged ‘worship’

Martians, Earthquakes, and Reality

December 2, 2016

Dr. Steven J. Callis 

                Maybe it should have been broadcast on April Fool’s Day rather than as a Halloween episode.  News reports of an alien invasion by Martians were aired in 1938 titled, “War of the Worlds,” based on the H.G. Wells 1898 novel by the same title.  A radio drama directed and narrated by Orson Welles, it is said to have caused a mass panic, though some historians claim that “mass” is too strong a word because of the relatively small size of the radio audience.

                A similar event occurred in 1990, and the man at center stage was Iben Browning.  This report, however, was not a hoax or a drama program, but a genuine prediction of a major earthquake that was to transpire in the Mississippi Valley.

                With a doctoral degree in zoology, Browning worked in several scientific fields, including bio-engineering and “artificial intelligence”  – I will refrain from an attempt at humorous zingers here and let you insert your own. 

He eventually focused his interest and research on long-term weather forecasting and climate changes.  His prediction of a major earthquake caused considerable concern across the Midwest part of the country as residents and agencies prepared for a significant natural disaster that never came.  Experts examined his data and determined that his methodology was of a non-scientific character.

                Wikipedia describes him as being most notable for having made various failed predictions of disasters involving climate, volcanoes, and earthquakes, including the collapse of our government in 1992.  He wrote four books and held 90 patents.

                Since the first century, there have been approximately 175 official predictions of the end of the world; Armageddon, The Apocalypse, the second coming of Christ, and other similar terms of identification.  Nine of the predicted dates are still in the future. 

I appreciate the interest in the topic, and trust that the primary motivation is to prepare the general population for this climactic event.  However, speaking as the second person of the Godhead, Jesus declared that no one but the Father knows the time of the second Advent.  The repeated warning of the New Testament is to always be ready; be prepared and watchful, for it could happen at any moment.

Some people keep an emergency kit on hand in order to be prepared for crises such as power outages and water contamination.  The kit may include matches, batteries, flashlights, bottled water, non-perishable foods, and a battery powered radio.  They do not awaken each morning imagining that they will need the kit that day, but they are prepared if tragedy strikes.

Spiritual readiness works that way.  There is an awareness that Christ could return today, and we can live prepared for Him if it happens.  And it is that readiness which gives us purpose and mission to live each day with Him at the center of all we are and all we do.

Celebration of the first Advent, the birth of our Savior, is a reminder and an opportunity to prepare our hearts, evaluate the arrangement of our life’s priorities, and receive the coming of Christ.  Find a place of worship in your community this Christmas season and weekly hear the old but relevant story of God dwelling among us in the person of Jesus Christ.

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Are You Ready for Sunday?

January 23, 2012

by Dr. Steven J. Callis

It was a Saturday night ritual growing up at my house.  It probably did not occur every week, but often enough that it holds a place in my memory, as early as kindergarten age.  My dad would spread some old newspaper over the kitchen table and announce the shoe call.  My two older brothers and I would bring our “Sunday” shoes to the kitchen where dad would polish them in preparation for going to church the next morning.  It was fun to watch him work up a shine on our very best pairs of shoes.

Along with shining shoes, Dad also assumed the responsibility of making certain we all had an “offering” for Sunday School – it usually was a quarter in those days. I recall being in the car and, I think on a Saturday, he would stop somewhere to buy a pack of gum so he could use the change from his dollar bill to give us Sunday School offering for the next day.

Of course, mom’s role was to take care of our “Sunday” clothes, and to see that we were properly dressed and looking our best for church on Sunday.  I was not always thrilled about what I wore – I remember crying about it one time in first grade because my “outfit” included shorts, suspenders, bow tie, and knee socks!  I must have been adorable, so much so that it embarrassed me to be seen in public!

The result of all this fuss was that it instilled in me the importance of going to church regularly, and always seeking to give (and wear!) my best for Jesus.  I was raised in a family that made church attendance a high priority – Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, revival services – we rarely missed church when the doors were open.  But what I have grown to realize is that preparing for church is about so much more than having shiny shoes, nice clothes, and a quarter in my pocket.  While physical preparation is necessarily part of the process, the primary focus is preparation of the mind and heart; for attending church is not a social event, but a time for praise and worship with others to the living God who calls us to himself.

That takes me to one more memory of preparing for church as a kid.  On Sunday mornings while we were eating breakfast and getting dressed, gospel music would be playing throughout the house, as well as in the car on the way to church.  I did not make the connection at the time, but the music was part of our spiritual preparation for worship.  It penetrated our ears, minds, and hearts to awaken our spiritual senses and prepare us to hear the word of God through Sunday School teachers and preachers.

So, as you prepare for church this coming Sunday, include a time of prayer for your Sunday School leaders, small group leaders, worship leaders, and your pastor/preacher.  Ask God to prepare your heart and mind for what His Spirit will bring to you through fellowship, praise, and worship.  To often we do not really begin preparation for worship until we walk through the front doors of the church.  Why not begin preparation when you awaken Sunday morning; or begin Saturday, or even today?  When you arrive at church next Sunday, will you be ready?