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December Newsletter-What We Can’t Do

Big picture: the Gospel is not only about us being in love with God but it’s about God being completely in love with us.

Ok, it’s Christmas and I’m talking baseball. Go figure. During a Cardinal game this summer I heard former St. Louis Cardinal Jim Edmonds describe his ideas about hitting a baseball. He was explaining how he made suggestions to some of the younger players and occasionally one of them would listen and implement some of that material. He said he was not trying to get the player to do something but simply wanted to give him an idea about something; just giving him something to think about but with no obligation to have to do what he said. I sometimes think that pretty well describes the music we rotate on the station. Our playlist contains thousands of songs, thousands of suggestions about the Gospel. That also describes pretty much my conversations in these newsletters for the past 32 years. I have no guarantee of the things I write about being right all the time; actually I’m assured of not understanding all there is about the Gospel because only one knows the Father fully. But I enjoy speculating and giving people something to think about and let the Spirit build on or destroy that in another person’s heart.

It was funny to me years ago when my mother, in a very sweet and loving way, asked me if I bought my newsletters somewhere. She knew me and she knew I didn’t ‘talk’ every day like I write in the letters. I still grin when I think back to that moment. I remember how I failed an English writing course long ago because I ‘generalized too much.’

Generalization is right down my alley. So here we go again, making speculation but without the need to have the speculation agreed with. I’m good with friendly kind of differences.

The Gospel, while I love it, I also find it intriguing and attractive because of so much of its simple ‘upside down’ characteristics, characteristics while ‘crazy’ to man’s human, sometimes logical brain, are literally, by Jesus’ stamp of approval, true. ‘The first will be last’ and ‘lose yourself to find yourself’ are just a couple. This hints that what might be described as fools and children will understand Jesus better than the elite, the wise. There is a suggestion by Jesus that the poor and not the rich will be blessed, and that the meek will inherit the earth, not the arrogant and proud, that the pure in heart, not the strong, will see God. The Gospel of Christ was not started by the Jewish ‘officials’, not the wealthy, not the powerful, but started by seven fishermen, a tax collector, a thief, and a zealot, and defined most profoundly by a Christianity persecutor. Jesus taught of a kingdom upside down as our dwelling place. When tempted by Satan, Jesus shunned the earthly kingdom in order to obtain a heavenly one. Jesus showed us a reality that, while seemingly opposite of our reasonable brain, actually brings us out of the dark into a great light. I wish I could translate that to the most dear in my world. But blindness cannot see. And the only switch to turn the light on, dispel the darkness, is Spirit and not my or anyone else’s words.

We live in a world that curses so much of what Christ followers believe. It appears the world’s morality is simply anti-Christ morality. You can do good, preach your social gospel, and it’s ok. You can do evil as you wish and we will snicker, laugh and cheer-it’s ok. You preach Jesus and you’re bullied, asked to be quiet and labeled as a threat to society. Jesus has become a stain that must be cleansed. Generally, the opposite of anything that Jesus taught is considered good and superior to all things that he suggested. ‘If Jesus said it, we’re against it’ pretty well covers it. In some sense, it’s as though mankind, without Christ, is possessed by a death wish, and needs someone to provide companionship with it on that journey. Humanity accumulates material, knowledge and skills and declares man as the god of their destiny; so satisfied with abolishing Father God, only to seemingly create a mutually enjoyable destruction.

Christianity holds on to the exact opposite of that. In fact, part of Gospel mystery and maturity is moving from ‘we know some things’ to knowing this: ‘Jesus alone knows the Father.’

It appears in many ways that hard and testing days lie ahead. But, there’s an oasis that opens its doors to believers. More challenges will come to Christ-believers as they seem to be painted more and more as the problem. The Gospel gave us a heads up in John 15-18,19: If the world hates you, know that it hated me before you, If you are of the world it loves its own…because you’re not of the world, it hates you. Observing by what you hear and read, it’s the Christians that are destroying the culture, its Jesus followers that are disrupting and blocking a ‘glorious future’ created by a glorious mankind. (I won’t go there in detail, but the political view about Christians today reminds me of the people referred to as ‘savages’ described in the book 1984 by Huxley.)

While we’re not isolated from the world, hopefully in Christ we have an insulation surrounding our hearts. No legislation, no organization, no person can take away what you carry inside your soul. We can seek Him endlessly no matter the environment. Believers can live with the knowledge that God is present; nothing we experience is experienced by ourselves alone, Christ lives in us and is with us even when our feeling may be tweaked by the culture.

Over the years I’ve heard people criticize our faith in Christ and suggest it’s a crutch. They suggest believing Jesus is not really based on reality. One simple thing that’s required in their argument is to imply Jesus was not a real person, stating real things in a small town in Israel. Historically, we can identify Moses, Socrates, Plato, Michelangelo, Martin Luther, Lincoln, any number of historical people. Jesus is historically provable as well. It’s not a make believe story about Jesus, it’s proved and as C.S. Lewis once pointed out: Your choice is to believe him or to assume he was a mad man, but he’s a person requiring evaluation just the same.

I can’t imagine, with all my ability to search my heart, that I’m ‘crutching’ about my life, my faith, my future. Not possible! I have no need for that kind of support in my life. What happened to me, I’ll just say decades ago, cannot be forgotten, modified, suggested away. I read a parable a long time ago that pretty well stabilized how to settle into the Gospel as fact for me. It goes like this: There was a elderly caterpillar crawling along the ground in a garden. On his way, he ran into another younger caterpillar representing the elite society of caterpillars. In their conversation, the elder made the suggestion that, ‘you know we will all be butterflies someday.’ His response was ‘you poor thing, you’re just afraid of dying, inventing something in order to comfort yourself.’ A few days later the younger fella finds a chrysalis attached to a plant and observing it, watches as a butterfly emerges out of the container and flies away. A caterpillar changed from a creepy thing into a glorious thing. That’s the story of redemption Dr. Seuss wrote about in The Grinch That Stole Christmas. Hearts can be changed, not just our minds.

Paul encouraged us to be steadfast in the things not seen; things seen are temporal, things of the heart are eternal. (2Corinthians 4:14-18) That’s our hope, our suggestion, both in this life and the life to come. Will we be celebrating or wrapped in fear?

Luke 18:8 … when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? It was on the most catastrophic day in history, on the most unjust day ever, in much darkness, all hope appearing to be gone, that the most hope, most profound, most important day in all creation brought forth new life. I’m assured the Morning Star will shine out of this mess as well.

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters

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