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Mark Schultz in Marion for BVN’s 200th Event

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July Newsletter-Our Story

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“So the final conclusion would surely be that whereas other civilizations have been brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction of training its own destroyers at its own educational institutions, and then providing them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at the public expense. Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down, and having convinced himself that he was too numerous, labored with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer. Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over–a weary, battered old brontosaurus–and became extinct.”  (Malcom Muggeridge’s quote written some 40 years ago)

We’re some kind of people aren’t we?  Rot, perhaps that’s the word I’m looking for.  I don’t want to be too negative or morbid but then Rot is predictable.  Rust and rot is real in that everything is on the clock except the eternal.  Everything eventually comes, stays awhile and goes away.   And even though I look around and see this mess we call life, rather than being dismayed, I’m not surprised or discouraged by what I see.  Yes, it’s terrible, heartbreaking really, but being children of God, we need to pause long enough to get a grip and know that the King, actually the King of the cosmos, is not dead, is not silent, is not powerless even in times such as these.

Now, just suppose you’re setting out to convince the world that God is real and Jesus was who he said he was.  We get our guys together, have a meeting and decide this will be our story, this is how we’re going to go for it.

First, our team will be seen as strong in celebrating the physical beating, piercing, torture of our hero, our movement leader.  To the average observer we appear to be celebrating a great defeat, one that we somehow call a Victory.  For sure that death was a failure in the eyes of many then and still today, but somehow it’s a success to us.  This Christian hero is going to be put to death by the unredeemed world, the lost, and the corrupt.  In our story, we’ll make his execution a necessary thing in order for us to live.  Actually, in our story, he and we both must die in this deal.  We’re going to take that to the streets and get people to believe that.  Likely?  Well, add to that, rather than organizing a mob of us seeking  revenge for that killing, our leader orders us to forgive them who enforced that penalty.  On top of that we come up with this idea that our team will tell a glorious story of how this Roman killing of Jesus somehow fits perfectly into a greater plan by Father, Son and Spirit.  And for our logo, (after all, all causes have logos) we choose the cross, the actual killing machine, symbolic of a great suffering and injustice as a representation of our confidence and faith.  And, while it appears that the apostles looked for Jesus’ Second Coming immediately, today Christians still long and anticipate that event, are still looking for His return after 2000 years of waiting.  Amazingly, his death raised no army, no political revolt that succeeded.  His death was, from a Roman point of view, just another ‘one of those Jewish pretenders’ to their Caesar’s rule. Caesar, having been declared a god by the Roman powers, continued to rule and reign throughout Jesus’ ministry life and even after Jesus was gone.  (It’s ironic that today Jesus is referred to as Lord of all and Caesar is simply a footnote in history.)

Significantly, there was but a handful of followers left as is evidenced by the list of those attending at the crucifixion.  A few bored Roman guards ‘messin’ with the King of the Jews and a few women followers and John.  Probably had a few of those today’s types that just showed up to see the show.   Logically, there’s really no good story to tell here unless you get people to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead.  That needs to be a big part of our deal that our leader died and came back to life; that would be BIG.   I mean, none of the other gods of that time or any other time claimed that unique story.   How would you like the odds of that circling the world, especially in a day without the technology to take it around the world?   And, let’s also do this the hard way, a way totally opposite of every other religion in the world.  Instead of telling people they can reach a certain level of spirituality and then maybe make it to their God, what if our story was that God came to us.  And instead of us sacrificing our lives, let’s tell them that God sacrificed His.  And add to that, instead of our all knowing God waiting until 2018 so that technology would  increase the chances of success, we start our story without television, without a book deal, without an interview on 60 Minutes, no Facebook, but just simply tell people our story.  Let’s do that from a desert, barren land and let’s use an enslaved people instead of the elite, the authorities.  How does that work for us?  Would that story likely go ’round the world?   And yet today we still hear that Story; hear His Name spoken and argued around the world.

Let’s try this, we tell people we have a Kingdom but our King has been killed by Roman guards, or more accurately, at the hands of all humanity.  And this: His Kingdom exists but we can’t show the people of the Kingdom, can’t take you to its capital, can’t show you its spokesman or its leader, but it’s a Kingdom just the same.  And as a part of our story, God’s Kingdom is not a kingdom where our God lives far away and somehow imposes His will upon His creation; rather our story says that God has set up his workshop right here on earth in the form of Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Christ in you.  How’s our story doing so far?  Do you think it’s likely to succeed?  What are the odds?  Would you like to buy stock in our deal?  Well it does succeed, and to have succeeded something miraculous must be required to have made it so.  Let’s see, maybe The Holy Ghost… Oh, my goodness, we have to add that to our story as well!  You get the picture.

God’s not un-aware of the condition of His creation.  Actually, He predicted it.  The good news is that the Kingdom of God is activated right in the middle of all the things that Malcom Muggeridge mentioned in that opening paragraph.  God doesn’t need a pristine environment to flourish, only a willing environment to work in.  Sometimes Kingdom of God works best in the worst of times, in the most upside down moments.  We should not be wringing our hands about tomorrow.  The apostle Paul, even while living in Rome, had a hope and a peace right in the middle of a culture as corrupt and divorced from the Love of God as ours.  God is not un-prepared or surprised by the world’s foolishness.  He has made a way for us to experience the exceptional inside the corrupt. According to His Word, we simply must admit that He is in us and we are in Him.

There’s a tilling, a churning, going on and should be going on when people separate themselves from the eternal offer of the Love of God.  The world is not teaching that there are consequences for our rejection of the Love of God.  And even more accurately, it actually embraces that rejection.   It should come as no surprise to believers that the world is spiraling into chaos.  The cultures, politics, religions of the world, its monetary policy are all being stressed.  That’s happened thousands of times before and simply continues again today.   I have hope even in all this disarray, all the harsh words, the divisions, someday it will come to the end and people will realize that all the earthly hope, its solutions and its promises of utopia created by the hand of man, will all be found lacking.   I’m hopeful that a re-discovery of the Grace of God will become a possible alternative to the wisdom of man and his foolishness.  This generation or the next may not come to their senses, but sometime in the future the world will hear the whisper of Grace again or it will perish.  It was in the bankruptcy of Rome that Christ came and set a fire in the hearts of a few men and women to take this message again throughout the world.  Sound impossible?  It is until you remember that a man, born of one of the poorest of places on earth, born at a time of no real public communication, born in the middle of male-child genocide, a man that never traveled more than a few miles from his home town, a man who had ‘no form nor comeliness; and when we saw him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.  He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.’ (Isa.53:3)  What could a man like that achieve?  That man, in a world just as lost as this one, that man changed the whole world.  I really believe that by His Spirit it can be changed by that same man again.  I’ll quote Malcolm again: ‘In the Holy Land today one is confronted on every hand with debris of the great Roman Empire and world order, which in Christ’s time seemed so strong, widespread and dominant.  Who would have foreseen in those days that the words of an obscure teacher in a remote outpost of the empire would provide the basis for a new and most glorious civilization?’  And, that happened in such a hopeless time, a world as hopeless as this present one.  The world was pregnant with the need for a New Life then; hopefully we’re becoming desperate for a New Life again.

Singles as of July 13.

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Artist (w/Link) Song Album
Carrollton Glimpses Everything or Nothing
Jasmine Murray Vapor Fearless
Unspoken Just Give Me Jesus Avail Online
Chris August Worry Seasons
Lincoln Brewster Everything God Of the Impossible
Matt Redman One Day Glory Song
Danny Gokey If You Ain’t In It Rise
Building429 You Can Live The Journey (Rel Sept 7)
Alisa Turner Lift My Eyes Miracle or Not
Andrew Peterson His Heart Beats Resurrection Letters Vol 1
Crowder Back To The Garden American Prodigal
Hillsong Worship Who You Say I Am There Is More
Francesca Battistelli The Breakup Song Avail Online
Tauren Wells Known Hills & Valleys
Jonny Diaz Let Faith Move You Sweetness & Sorrow

 

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