Cubs Win: Another Sign of the Apocalypse

cubs-winUnless you’ve been living way off the grid, you probably know by now that the Chicago Cubs have won the World Series of baseball. The lovable losers had not won the world championship since 1908. They are no longer losers.

I’ll do the math for you. That was a one hundred eight year drought (or as a friend of mine said, “Let’s be real. It wasn’t a drought. It was the Sahara Desert!! Pretty sure we’ve found water on Mars since the last Cubs championship!”). No other major league baseball team had ever gone that long between ultimate victories.

Why now after all this time? In the seventh and deciding game, the Cleveland Indians came back to tie it in the late innings. It looked like the momentum swing was going to make the Cubs wait at least one more year.

“A conquest of Biblical proportions”

It was not to be, however. The game went into extra innings, was delayed by rain, and had a dramatic finish. In the end, one got the feeling that a Chicago triumph was inevitable. Indeed, this was a conquest of Biblical proportions.

I say this because Scripture is being fulfilled before our very eyes. In Daniel 7:5, a prophetic Cubs victory clearly spells out the beginning of the end. This passage tells of a second beast that resembles a bear. What other beast looks like a bear—a bear cub, of course. But why second? After four games, the Indians were cubs-second-comingup three games to one. They were clearly the front-runners. The Cub team was obviously the second beast at that juncture.

This second beast “was raised up on one of its sides.” This is unmistakably an animal poised for a comeback. The passage then relates that the second beast is told to, “Get up and eat your fill of flesh!” There can be no doubt that this is a clear reference to an overwhelming and emotional triumph.

There is one curious part of this end-times prophecy that had me puzzled for a while. The pericope says that the bear-like beast had three ribs in its mouth. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand the meaning behind this obviously important phrase. So I jumped on the web and did a little research.

“Your old men will dream dreams.”

Lo and behold, Terry Francona (manager of the Cleveland Indians) told reporters of a strange dream he had the night before game seven. His literal quote was, “I was having a nightmare that somebody was breaking my ribs, and I woke up and my ribs hurt.” He was given a premonition of impending doom. (Read Full Story Here.) You can’t make this stuff up.second-beast

I felt it necessary to explain all this just in case John Hagee and Hal Lindsay missed it. I don’t know if they’re even baseball fans. We can’t simply allow another sign of the Apocalypse to pass by unnoticed.

[Disclaimer: Every time I write something like this, a few people take me dead serious. To you, I say, “Really?! I’m just joking.”]

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]

Drink Lots of Water and Get Plenty of Exercise

The church needs to go on a diet. I say that because, in many corners of the world, we have become fat and lazy. A sedentary church is next to useless.

I know a little something about diets. Three different times in my life I gained considerable weight and had to lose it. Unfortunately, I’m at that stage once again. I suspect a lot of you have had a similar experience to mine.

“Universal with all diets.”

There are all sorts of diets out there. You’ve heard of many of them—the Scarsdale, the Atkins, Weight Watchers, South Beach, Mediterranean, and the Paleo (just to name a few). From low-fat to low-carb to high protein, they’re all different. Yet there’s one thing that seems to be universal with all diets.

Whenever you embark upon one of these surefire ways to regain your girlish figure, the last line usually goes something like this. “Drink lots of water and get plenty of exercise.” It stands to reason that, if these two things are central to a healthy diet, we should be doing them at all times—diet notwithstanding.exercise

In actuality, we are all on a diet of one sort or another. The question is always this: is it a good diet or a bad one? If your daily diet consists of things like French Fries and Philly Cheese Steaks, chances are you’ll get a tad heavy around the middle. If you are disciplined and practice portion control, you have a good chance at maintaining a reasonably healthy level. Drinking lots of water and getting plenty of exercise is a part of that as well.

Before, when I said that the church is fat and lazy, I was thinking along spiritual terms. A congregation could all look like gym rats and still be spiritually ineffective. Generally, that ineffectiveness comes from a lack of water and exercise.

Dehydrated spirits tend to wither.

Biblically, water is one of the symbols of the Holy Spirit. Jesus instructs his church to drink in plenty of God’s Spirit (see Luke 11:9-13). When we are drinking our fill, we can go through the driest desert and not thirst. When we refuse to ask for those daily drinks, we dehydrate and our spirits wither.i-heart-water

The other side of that spiritual diet, of course, is exercise. But how do we exercise our spirits? Well, let me first tell you how you DON’T exercise your spirit. Go to a building once a week, sit in a pew for an hour, listen to a sermon (no matter how good or dynamic), and then leave. That is a plan guaranteed to get you fat and lazy. It’s like eating a seven-course meal just before bedtime. Not a stellar idea.

We need to exercise our spiritual muscles by doing the things Jesus prepared the way for us to do. His teachings on this matter include things like feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and imprisoned, praying, and making disciples. You can find the entire list in the four Gospels. It comes highly recommended.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]

All Souls Day: Hallow-mas Revisited

all-saints-day1Most of us don’t give it a second thought (or even a first), but yesterday (November 1) was All Saints Day. It’s also known as All Souls Day, Hallowmas, All Hallows Day, Solemnity of All Saints, and the Feast of All Saints.

Many of us miss this day because of the big deal we make over Halloween. The secular celebration, of course, always trumps the Christian one. (I almost said it trumps the spiritual one, but there is a spiritual aspect to Halloween as well—one I will not get into here).

If I remember correctly, the Feast of All Saints is a holy day of obligation celebrated among the Roman Catholics. In fact, it’s a national holiday (or at least, has been) in many countries that have been historically Catholic.

Replacing the Pagan Festivals

Like many Christian holidays, the date was chosen to replace a pagan celebration. In this case, November 1 was chosen as All Saints Day to displace the Celtic pagan festival of Samhain. Celebrating Jesus’ birthday during the winter solstice did the same thing. He was undoubtedly born some other time than December 25, but it usually works better when you replace something rather than simply try to forget it.allsaints

The great thing about the celebration of All Saints is the fact that it is truly the commemoration of ALL saints. We usually recognize the famous ones—St. Francis, St. Joseph, St. Teresa, St. Joan of Arc, etc. In doing so, we often forget the ones who have not been canonized.

If you read the New Testament (especially the letters of Paul), you’ll notice phrases like, “All the saints greet you.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) Biblically, a saint was anyone who believed in Jesus. We’ve somehow lost that definition in some quarters, but it’s still the correct and operative one.

What this means is there are saints who should be remembered on this day (and all days for that matter). They are saints with names like Fred, Ginger, Sally, Hank, and Tonisha. They have titles like Dad, Mom, Nona, and Tio. They did miraculous things like raise up families, work in coal mines, and round up cattle.

Are the saints all dead?

In other words, saints are not simply those the church has venerated over the years. The saints, both past and present, are those who live(d) their lives in an attempt to follow the risen Christ. They are/were not perfect, but they are remembered for their stance—a stance that says, “Jesus is Lord.”

14601131_1346335988724120_6056586382336612365_nIt’s a shame that we seem to have supplanted All Saints Day with something as trivial as Halloween. Don’t get me wrong here. Halloween can be a fun, entertaining night. But the real heroes are not the ghouls, vampires, and living dead. The real heroes are the people who got us to this point in life—those who led the way in faith.

We are the current saints. Let’s celebrate the past, present, and future of God’s church. Let us celebrate all the saints, shall we?

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]