Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Charlie Brown on New Ideas

With gratitude for the timeless work of Charles Schulz, our story today begins with Lucy bravely approaching Charlie Brown with an idea for improving their baseball team.

She's pretty excited about the possibilities present in her idea, but Charlie Brown is not...how shall we say...receptive to the proposed change.

This sends Lucy back into the outfield where she makes a life decision.

Truth is...I've got an observation and a question.

Observation: "That's what everyone else is doing" does not necessarily make an idea great.

Question: How many great ideas have never seen the light of day because of fear of someone's gut-level/knee-jerk negative reaction?

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Rockin' Good News

And now, class, we come to the final song on Randy Stonehill's Welcome to Paradise album, "Good News". It may draw the album to a conclusion, but its true purpose is to draw our attention to the future and fill us with hope.

Good news, Christ is returning
Good news, now the world is learning
Good news, Christ is returning
And Jesus gonna bring us on home

Good news well I feel alright
Good news He'll come like a thief in the night
Good news he's gonna take us in flight
Jesus gonna bring us on home

Oh yeah, ain't that real good news
Oh yeah, ain't that real good news
Go on hang up your blues

Good news we're gonna live forever
Good news floating light as a feather
Good news we can all be together
When Jesus comes to bring us on home

Oh yeah, ain't that real, real good news
Ain't that real
Oh yeah, ain't that real good news
Go on hang up your blues

Good news, Christ is returning
Good news, now the world is learning
Good news, Christ is returning
And Jesus gonna bring us on home

Come down make you feel alright
Like a thief in the middle of the night
Come down make you feel alright
Like a thief in the middle of the
Middle of the night
©1976 King of Hearts Publishing

Truth is...whether Jesus comes to take us on home or comes bringing the New Jerusalem with Him, the strong hope and firm assurance that He will make all things right is reason enough to sing, shout, and let it all out. GOOD NEWS!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

A Tuesday Confrontation

It's the Tuesday before Passover, c.33 AD.

Jerusalem's population has multiplied as Passover pilgrims flock to the spiritual center of the nation.

A sizable portion of the crowd has come to the temple early in the morning in hopes of hearing Jesus teach or at least to see what he might do today.

On Sunday, his entrance into the city turned into a praise-filled parade that got the religious leaders all on edge. Then on Monday, Jesus ran all the shady businesses out of the temple courtyard...which also ruffled the feathers of the Sanhedrin.

What's going to happen today?

Almost as soon as Jesus arrives, a committee of chief priests, scribes, and elders confronts him and basically asks "Who in the world do you think you are? Who gives you the authority to do stuff like this?"

Jesus' response immediately puts the religious leaders over a barrel:
     “I’ll tell you by what authority I do these things if you answer one question,” Jesus replied. “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human? Answer me!”
     They talked it over among themselves. “If we say it was from heaven, he will ask why we didn’t believe John. But do we dare say it was merely human?” For they were afraid of what the people would do, because everyone believed that John was a prophet. So they finally replied, “We don’t know.”
     And Jesus responded, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Mark 11:29-33 NLT)

Truth is...people have been trying to back Jesus into a corner for thousands of years with exactly the same amount of success.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Dating the Gospel

Have you ever been socially/romantically involved with someone and then not been involved and not really know why either the involvement or non-involvement happened?

As part of my personal faith journey toward Easter, I am reading a book by Brant Pitre, The Case for Jesus. I'm only five chapters in, and I'm already pleased with the thoroughness of Pitre's examination of evidence and honesty in saying what can and cannot be concluded from the evidence at hand.

But that's not what this post is about.

What this post is about is where my train of thought went when I saw the title of an upcoming chapter in Pitre's book: "The Dating of the Gospels".

I'm certain the chapter is about determining when the four gospels in the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) were written. And that's important because it helps a person make judgments about their trustworthiness.

But my train of thought? Well, it immediately dropped the "s" from "Gospels" and got me to thinking about the concept of dating the Gospel...being socially/romantically involved with the Good News that Jesus is God-in-the-flesh and his death and resurrection paid the debt of our sins and freed us to a new kind of life where we are no longer slaves to the sin nature.

What does it mean to "date" someone? What's going on in a dating relationship?

  • There's definitely an attraction, but not really a commitment.
  • It's kind of trying on the idea of monogamy. "What would it be like to be with this person and nobody else for the rest of my life? Would I enjoy that?"
  • Depending on a person's moral convictions about sexuality, there might even be physical involvement that is associated with a marriage commitment.
  • Breaking off the relationship if it gets difficult or doesn't go the way you thought it would is always an option.

Methinks that some of us actually do relate to the Gospel in the same ways.

  • We like the idea of not being condemned and that Jesus loves us, but not all that sure about having anything expected of us.
  • We toy with the concept of dedication and allowing Jesus to call the shots. "How will my life improve if I decide to follow Jesus?"
  • We maybe even attend church services if we like the musical style and the sermons aren't too long.
  • Spirituality is something we practice or something we do; not necessarily the core of who we are. We can put it on or take it off however the mood strikes us.

Truth is...I have personally found marriage to be far more deeply satisfying than dating ever was. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Song for Sarah / Ditty for Debbie

"Song for Sarah" holds a special place in my heart. It's the third song on the second side of Randy Stonehill's classic "Jesus Music" album, Welcome to Paradise, but it was also part of my wedding vows (with "Sarah" replaced by "Debbie").

It's a practically perfect invitation to a love commitment, along with a gospel message of the greatest love of all.

Sarah, can I love you?
Will you open up the door?
I know you've heard that misused word
a lot of times before
But I think that you need someone
who can firmly take your hand
And love you in a way
that you can really understand

Sarah, will you love me?
You've got so much there to give
We've waited for so long
to change the lonely way we live
And I see the fragile lady
that you hide behind your eyes
And I want so much to reach you
when I hear those distant cries

Sarah, Someone loves you
in a way I never could
He laid His life before you
on a cross made out of wood
Oh and in His hour of anguish
our dreams were given birth
I hope you finally realize
how much your love is worth

© 1976 King of Hearts Publishing

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...while this is a quiet, sweet song, it is also personally the source of laughter. You see, our wedding day was particularly hot and humid and the church building in which we were wed had no air conditioning. While I was singing this song to my bride, a drop of sweat trickled down my nose and Debbie tenderly reached up and wiped it away. The near-sighted ladies in the crowd thought she was wiping away a tear I had shed and totally lost it!