Let Them Eat Cake by Jane Tawel

Let Them Eat Cake

by Jane Tawel

December 11, 2017

 

Do people who claim to follow The Christ, whom they believe to have been a man named Jesus, honestly think that their Messiah could pick and choose which Romans to make furniture for and which not to? Do they honestly not remember?  Before Jesus began his ministry, he worked at a job in a kingdom not God’s kingdom, called Rome — a long gone kingdom, that the United States is largely based on.  For thirty some years, Jesus “served cake” to good Jews, bad Jews, good Samaritans, bad Samaritans, Roman government officials, and Jewish Pharisees, Roman heterosexuals and Roman homosexuals.  It was a business. And an art, because — Like His Heavenly Father’s work when He joyfully created the world, and His earthly mentor Joseph’s work, when he taught Jesus how to work wood; Jesus created things.

For 30 years, Jesus ran a creative business –run by the only perfect Son of God who ever lived. If I read the words and biographies of this Jew named Jesus, I think Jesus was well aware that our practice of God’s laws, our service to God’s authority, our worship of the True God, involves what I do – not what others do.  What others do is up to God, not me.

When did we think that the work of our hands was meant to be used to proclaim our beliefs as a bludgeon rather than as a way for all the world to see a creative, loving God who is quite clear that He gives the rain to fall on the “evil” and the “good”?  When did we lose sight of the fact that all of fall into both of these categories — evil and good?

No matter what I believe about any particular choice of another human being, I am meant to use the same measure for myself.  If I claim to use the Jewish and Christian Scriptures as my guide, then I must immerse myself in their meaning for my place, time, and soul.

Shall I stop serving cake to divorced people?  How about people who lie? The Scriptures are very harsh on greedy people, shall I stop serving those I deem more sinfully greedy than myself? How about people who harass other people?  Why do I draw this line and not others if I am claiming a religious belief?  One should have to be consistent.  One should have to put a sign on one’s door that says: “I will only serve people whom I believe are not living in sin”.

If I stopped serving cake to people whom I thought were sinners, then to be Biblically consistent, I would have to never allow any one to serve cake to me again, that is for sure! Jesus was the King of this Kingdom of God’s while on earth and if you claim Christianity, He is the King of our Kingdom now –now, present and reigning. If I let Him.  If I follow His lead.  Jesus might laughingly say to us today, “Let them eat cake”, not as that capitalistic Queen of old might have said to keep the poor people in their places in her moronic inability to understand that some people were starving on her watch.  Jesus said, “let me serve you ALL cake”  this is my “cake” broken for you, take this in remembrance of me. Because all are welcome at my banquet.”  We should do likewise, if we want to put His name on anything—like our souls. Or our business.

I mean really, people, there are Christians today who want a job so badly they are willing to sell themselves as slaves. These are the people we need to be serving cake to.  There are people being beheaded for their faith in parts of the world today; there are people in places like Russia who have to worship behind closed doors. Are you honestly going to spend “God’s” money on suing people over whom you serve cake to and you do not serve cake to!?  Oh, and there are people in this very country who do not have enough money to buy cake.  Interestingly enough, there are Christians in this country experiencing reverse discrimination and not being allowed to get licenses because of speaking privately about their religious beliefs.  But this whole cake business, muddies the water when we as Christians try to point out when religious freedoms are truly threatened.

This cake business has nothing to do with any of your freedoms. It has to do with the freedoms we all get to experience in a place much like Rome.  Jesus came in the “fullness of time” to an Empire that would let Him worship His God in the way He believed was right to do. Until they didn’t.  Then they killed Him. We get to live in a country that from the beginning has allowed people to worship their God in the way they believe is the right way to do it.  It will be  a day of reckoning if when we who claim to be Christians stand before the Supreme Court of Jesus, and He has to say sadly, “Depart, I never knew you.  When you did it to the least of these, you were doing it to Me.”

In America, we have come to believe that money is the answer to everything, rather than God being quite able to stand up for Himself and us, if we let Him.  Instead of worshiping money as the answer or even America as the answer, we would do better to get back to work and glorify God in all we do, think and say.  God will win His own battles if they are truly His. If not, a little humility on our parts in what we understand and do not understand and a lot of humility in terms of how we treat others in the way we want to be treated might go a lot further than The Supreme Court.  If we believe in Jesus, we believe in a much higher court than that. Maybe we should try spending our money on people who truly have no freedom to worship God.  Or on people who are truly hungry.  Or better yet, on people who are hungry for truth, justice and love.  One served cake at a time.  We would do better to worship God in spirit and in truth, not on this mountain or that. And  better to get back to work. The time draws near – -Our King has Come, is Present, and Will Come Again.  Be ready.  Time to get my own cake shop in order.

Happy Birthday Jesus 3

 

 

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Fear Not! We Need the Bad News First.

Fear Not! We Need the Bad News First.

By Jane Tawel

December 9, 2017

 

There is much bandying about today of words like “Christian” and “evangelical”.  I refuse to join the current dumbing down of the meaning of words – especially these two. The meanings of words are an integral part of the meaning of reality. This is a time of year when some of us believe God came to this planet as The Word. Sometime after the birth of The Messiah, a man who wholeheartedly and sacrificially followed the Babe become Man, ended up being known as John the Evangel. He might have been nicknamed John the Image of God.  Because Evangelism should be a word associated only with those who want to be born again into what they were created to be before The Fall – creatures who act and speak and think like God. Not like gods. If you look to the Judeo-Christian worldview for what this life should look like you would see:  A God who is completely good, completely love, completely truthful, completely just, completely consistent with righteous holy creativity. Just as random examples of what this does not look like: The God of the Man, whom we celebrate at this time of year, never, ever, ever, ever, ever – had to choose the lesser of two evils.  He never, ever, ever, ever needed any one to support His causes by supporting people who abused women or children. He never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever died for a person who didn’t think they in turn had to die to their self-centered sins. And He never, ever, ever, ever, ever stopped loving the world.

 

It breaks my heart today to hear this important word – evangelism – being used for evil and gain.  Evangel = Gospel = Good News = Revelation of True Triune God from the Genesis of the Planet Begotten in True Saving God-send in The Christ. I am privileged and humbled and frightened, to get to teach the Bible at this time of Advent. This week I began my teaching right at the beginning of the book of Luke. I have noticed this is most unusual. The book that tells our Christmas story begins with the author stating that his testimony to Jesus as God’s Way is written at the request of a man named Theophilus. Theophilus was, in all probability, a Roman Government employee, who quite possibly was one of the types that helped put Jesus on the cross. The Good News of Luke, however, was not just for a rich ruler, but for all who wanted an historical account of God’s latest attempt in a long, long His-story of His trying to help us live as we were created to live in relationship to Himself.

 

I fear that as with so many Biblical stories we like to pick and choose the parts we want to read. As Americans, we seem to somehow have re-cast the Nativity so that Mary and Joseph are white folks on holiday rather than enslaved minorities being used for political gain by Roman rulers. We have incorrectly added the fun fancy bit about the rich EU and Asian Kings being present at the birth, so that they could be giving Jesus financial incentives right there at the start.

 

But when we opt to use this word “evangelistic” today we seem to use it more like a good luck charm or a trump card (oh, the ironic words we live with today would not be lost on The Word, I think). We like to give the gods credit for our choices and lifestyle and our gambling with other people’s lives. We stick God’s name on ungodly decisions, like putting a sticker on a rotten apple. Much as Adam’s first rotten apple was easily pulled off the Tree, we quite easily justify our own rotten apples but still want the God-sticker on them. It is quite easy to pull off a sticker called God. It is not at all easy to live a life called God. And that is what Christian means – little God, little Christ, little life lived in the character of God Three in One. Oh, I love my stickers called God.  It is much harder for me to daily “go back into the womb” and be re-created as we were meant to be before the one rotten apple spoiled the whole bunch.

 

The story of Christmas begins with Advent. In its entirety, the story that we should be reading at this time of year, should at a minimum start with God saying (as He usually does if you read the whole book): “I Am going to give you peoples and tribes the Bad News first; then the Good News.”

 

We seem to have sunk into a moral morass of thinking that Christianity starts with grace and forgiveness and someone out there saving my own personal self by something He did a long time ago.  It does not. This cannot stand alone as Good News. It cannot support itself alone.  It is an incomplete worldview.

 

The Worldview of True God from True God begins with the Bad News of John the Baptizer. It starts with humankind’s need for an admission of shame and repentance.  The story of God helping us and allowing us to use His Holy Name, begins with our need to be able to, with eyes downcast, come before a God at all, let alone use His name for His glory or in vain for my personal ends. Before we got the “Good News” of Jesus, God had to re-send the diagnosis. It is a diagnosis The God of Noah and Abraham  and Moses and Ruth and Isaiah and others, had been sending  this bad news diagnosis for centuries. In various ways and through various people who were truly evangelicals, God has been telling us: Bad News –You’re dying.

 

Before He could send His only begotten Son, God had to show us the shadow on our moral

x-rays. So right before the time was right to come Himself as King (which is what Advent means by the way), Jehovah the Father, miraculously created in two old folks a man named John the Baptizer whose sole job in life was to proclaim that we needed to “Repent”. Definition:

Repent =Regret =Penitence of one’s sin. Because without our sin, the world’s sin, we have no need for a Savior. Without my personal daily need to recognize my sin, I have no need for Bethlehem’s story. Without repentance, there would be no Christmas.

 

God could send Himself as His Son bringing Good News to our planet because of the Bad News of Repentance.  And that makes our need to feel shame, remorse and repentance, Good News! My coming to a reckoning of who I really am, is the way to knowing who God really is. And it is the only way to truly know who I can be and what lies ahead in an eternity that begins with my repentance and never ends in my worship of my God.

 

Repentance is what makes the Judeo-Christian worldview the most coherently sane and healthy one by which a person can live. Grace and morality will not result without it.  But there are so many who teach this better than I ever could.  So for a definition of evangelism at this time of year, when many of us believe that The Center of humankind’s history was born as a human, I would like to extract some of the words of an evangel named Francis Schaeffer.

 

 

Written in 1972, Francis Schaeffer could not have foreseen the extent of the need we would have for these words from his excellent book, He Is There and He Is Not Silent.

 

To me, what Jesus did at the tomb of Lazarus sets the world on fire—it becomes a great shout into the morass of the twentieth century.  Jesus came to the tomb of Lazarus. The One who claims to be God stood before the tomb, and the Greek language makes it very plain that he had two emotions. The first was tears for Lazarus, but the second emotion was anger.  He was furious; and he could be furious at the abnormality of death without being furious with Himself as God.  This is tremendous in the context of the twentieth century.  When I look at evil—the cruelty which is abnormal to that which God made—my reaction should be the same.  I am able not only to cry over the evil, but I can be angry at the evil—as long as I am careful that egoism does not enter into my reaction.  I have a basis to fight the thing which is abnormal to what God originally made.

 

The Christian should be in the front line, fighting the results of man’s cruelty, for we know that it is not what God has made.  We are able to be angry at the results of man’s cruelty without being angry at God or being angry at what is normal.

 

We can have real morals and moral absolutes, for now God is absolutely good. There is the total exclusion of evil from God. God’s character is the moral absolute of the universe. Plato was entirely right when he held that unless you have absolutes, morals do not exist.  Here is the complete answer to Plat’s dilemma; he spent his time trying to find a place to root his absolutes, but he was never able to do so because his gods were not enough.  But here is the infinite-personal God who has a character from which all evil is excluded, and His character is the moral absolute of the universe.

 

It is not that there is a moral absolute behind God that binds man and God, because that which is farthest back is always finally God. Rather, it is God Himself and His character who is the moral absolute of the universe.

 

Evangelicals often make a mistake today.  Without knowing it, they slip over into a weak position.  They often thank God in their prayers for the revelation we have of God in Christ.  This is good as far as it goes, and it is wonderful that we do have a factual revelation of God in Christ. But I hear very little thanks from the lips of evangelicals today for the propositional revelation in verbalized form which we have in the Scriptures.  He must indeed not only be there, but He must have spoken.  And He must have spoken in a way which is more than simply a quarry for emotional, upper-story experiences.  We need propositional facts. We need to know who He is, and what His character is, because His character is the law of the universe. He has told us what His character is, and this becomes our moral standard. It is not arbitrary, for it is fixed in God Himself, in what has always been. It is the very opposite of what is relativistic.  It is either this, or morals are not morals.  They become simply sociological averages or arbitrary standards imposed by society, the state or an elite.  It is one or the other… It is this or nothing. (Francis Schaeffer Trilogy, 222-301 excerpts)

 

*    *     *     *    *

 

Francis Schaeffer asks me: Is the God I believe to be revealed in His Son – enough?

 

Do I believe that my choices cannot be relativistic just as my Savior’s choices were never relativistic?

 

Do I believe that the character of God in Christ is “the law of the universe” to which I must live if I claim to live in Christ?

 

And as St. Paul believed, Do I believe that being an evangelical is to consider that “to live is Christ, and to die, is gain”?

 

God calls and calls, the Scriptures say, like a Lover, like a Father, like a Spouse, like a Shepherd.  He also calls us to do likewise, and lead lives in His image, making choices as He would. He calls us to delight in others as we do when we first fall in love – loving a person whether in reality, we love or hate him. He calls us to love as a parent to those who are not our children using truth and love in equal measures.  He calls us to give  generously, selflessly as a spouse, to those who have no loving mate or friend to call their own. He calls us to provide and care for those who like sheep have gone off the path of a life worth living, and who cannot save themselves.  He calls us to give and give and give to those least worthy, because His Son’s character is ultimately our judge and the judgement on our lives. Jesus is the judge who gave and gave and gave to all of us who are so unworthy.

 

The Greatest God of all gods, calls us to share His Good News:

God has Come to Us = Emmanuel.

 

But  here is the truly mind boggling thing about the evangelism of our God –even God Himself, when He modeled life for us in Jesus, had  to repent to John the Baptizer.  Baptism symbolizes man’s need to be saved from something and changed into something else. It means I repent of my old life and enter a new life.  The One who had nothing to repent of, did it anyway, because He knew how critical it was for us to see Him repent as we need to.  The One who had no need to die, did it anyway because He knew how important it was for us to see Him die as we would.  And the God who had no need to be born, did it anyway, because He knew how important it would be for us to see, that we can be born again, into a new life as Jesus is.  And that is the Good News that evangelistic people should be living. And we shouldn’t be putting words on things they don’t belong to, including putting The Word on things He does not belong to.

 

The terrifying Angel of God, who actually was quite an important player in the story of “God Becomes a Human”, was personally acquainted with the True God. The Angels of God always say “Fear Not”, and the angels at the various scenes before and during the Bethlehem manger scene, are no exception.  The Christmas Angel tells us that though the Bad News of The Operation of the Christ Child is that it will be incredibly and sometimes excruciatingly painful, the Good News is:

 

Repent!

For your Unearned Salvation from your  deadly sin has Come!

God Advents to Live With All People!

Joy to the whole World!

 

This is evangelism.  Joy. This is being a “little Christ” or Christ—ian. Repentance. This is what in an upside -down worldview, makes our lives– plunged in repentance and daily self-administrations of the dosage needed of radioactive Bad News of our sinfulness– truly a wonderful, live-saving, joyful good news to the world, message. This is how we can defeat the cancerous invasion of evil that seeks to kill the Christ child and instead, open our hearts, minds, wills and souls to the eternal love of God. This is Good News.

 

Navtivity vivas

Me, Myself, and I – Not

Me, Myself, and I – Not

by Jane Tawel

November 22, 2017

 

 

Gordon and I are re-watching the television series, “Psyche”.  We love it.  In the last episode, Shawn insisted that he was bringing back the use of “Not!” at the end of statements to indicate that he really meant the opposite. This grammatical conceit is used as in my saying this morning, “I am going to get the house completely cleaned in the next hour -NOT!” Gus assured Shawn, that bringing back “not”,  would not be happening. And this episode aired in 2008. Fast forward to 2017, and here I am not so much insisting that I am bringing phrases like “not”, and “cool” and “psyche-out” and “radical” and “whatever” back, as much as I have never let them go.

 

Sometimes in moments of depression and doubt, or insecurity springing up as a downer from the high ride of pride, I am reminded that according to what I say I believe, it is not supposed to be “about me” at all.  I am teaching grammar again to students, and I am a stickler for the correct use of “I” as subject and “me” as object.  But as a wannabe Jesus follower, the truth is, I am at the best of what I was created to be when I allow myself to be the object being acted upon. It is when I start getting lost in the idea that it is “I” who controls or “I” who is right as in “right-eous”, that I end up feeling most displaced and disgruntled and depressed.

Thankfully in English, we write “I” small — only one little letter. It should make it easier to replace it with something longer, like the eternal word, Yahweh or Jehovah or Messiah.  If I would only take “I” out of my life sentences, then there could be only “He”.  And then those “life sentences” would not be an imprisonment in the egotistical-hopelessness I so often wallow in, but a “Life-sentence” of being dead to self, but alive in Christ. When I was in high school, we were asked to choose a “life verse”. I should have picked something that promised me financial blessings and a guardian angel to tote around, but instead I chose Galatians 2:20:  “For I am crucified with Christ, and yet I live.  Yet, not I but Christ lives in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me”. Notice that all the “I”s in this verse are preceded or followed by “nots”. Even the positive actions have to do with dying to my–self.

Now don’t even get me started on the abuse of people’s use of the word “myself”.  I think people mistake it for a fancier grammatical form of “I”, but folks, I am here as a grammar guru to tell you, It  ain’t that.  However, in my life verse, Paul, the author, could have correctly said, “Yet, not I, myself, but Christ lives in me”. There we have it.  The unholy trinity of me, myself and I,  must give way to the Holy Trinity, of I crucified in Christ, God working in me, and the Holy Spirit in my–Self.

Eugene Petersen has been a big help during these my days of Weltschmurz.  He writes in A Long Obedience in The Same Direction  of perseverance:

We survive in the way of faith not because we have extraordinary stamina but because God is righteous, because God sticks with us.  Christian discipleship is a process of paying more and more attention to God’s righteousness and less and less attention to our own; finding the meaning of our lives not by probing our moods and motives and morals but by believing in God’s will and purposes; making a map of the faithfulness of God, not charting the rise and fall of our enthusiasms.  It is out of such a reality that we acquire perseverance.(133)

Petersen goes on to interpret Hebrews 12: 1,2 this way: “Strip down, start running– and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.  Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed–that exhilarating finish in and with God–he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.”

I love the chastisingly ironic, hilarious way that Petersen interprets this, when he calls me out for my ridiculous complaints and whines about myself.  Petersen mocks my taking myself so seriously when he says that The Christ “put up with anything” and then lists first the cross, then shame, and finally “whatever” –showing my comparison of my “sufferings” to The Christ’s sufferings as  my little ridiculous “whatevers”.  Petersen clues right in to the fact that not only am I not taking up the literal cross of Christ, but I have somehow magnified my petty problems, insecurities and complaints to the level of the things that Jesus “put up with”. Jesus might well respond, “Whatever!”.

Perhaps I am wrong to correct my students if they use the word “me” as the subject in a sentence where God is the compound subject matter.  God and “me” can do much, much more together, than God and “I”. The life that I now live, I must live by the faith of, in, and through the Son of God.  It is time we went back to memorizing prepositions. Oh, to understand the words of St. Francis, when He prays that Christ will live out every prepositional phrase in, through, above, below, around, before, behind and within Francis’ life.  You see, Students, prepositions can never be followed by a subject like “I” but only by a direct object, like me.  And God will never insist on removing me from the subject matter of my own life, but will always offer to act in and through me as the direct object of His loving grace-filled prepositional will.

 

Speaking of Language Arts, though –Oh, those Germans — they do have the best words for things. God’s Word tells us that when we are approaching a time of Thanksgiving, as we are this week, but we instead feel ” Weltschmurz” or weary of the world, then we should cry out: “Inner Schweinehund!”  Inner Schweinehund is that little voice that tells you to get up off the couch, you selfish pig-hound (so much more motivating than couch potato) and do something, go running. Inner Schweinehund is just super fun to say.

Speaking of my beloved son, Gordon is in a “boot”, complete with crutches,  for a couple months, after having fractured his foot. A boot is not as cool as a cast, and I suspect they do it for profit margin — just sayin’. I might sign the black boot  in neon sharpie anyway, something, like: “Your Dad and I tried to warn you, Love, Mom”. It is a long process of healing, and for a nineteen year old, it really cramps his style (and his foot, his shoulder, his leg, his arms) — no driving, no long showers, no bike riding. So he, like so many of us in tough situations brought on by our own choices, begin to wonder, well really, who am I and what am I good for? At my age, it seems like every single day and definitely every single night,  I wonder, who am I and what am I good for?  But perhaps more frighteningly, when I wake up in the dead watches of the night, or return from the funeral of a young person, or watch people  morally implode, but mostly when I find myself  looking back and sideways and forward at the choices I have made and still make,  I more often wonder, who is God and what is He good for? When I get focused on me, myself, and I, I am content and at peace-NOT! When I lose focus on God The Father, God The Son, and God The Holy Spirit, then I am lost in the subjective subject of I and I alone. If I keep God as the Subject who acts even when I sleep then even, if not perfected, I  persevere. And I am assured in God’s promises, that perseverance is the long-game, the marathon, the way to faith, hope, love, and joy .

So, for Gordie and me, I recently pulled up the attached video of the Hoytes: Vater and Sohn —  and was reminded that I am not and have never, ever been the dad running a marathon  but I am always and  have always been the son who is in the wheel chair. And when I listen to this song and see the hands, and thighs, and back muscles of this father straining to push his son to the finish line, I weep, because I can see how helpless I am in life’s metaphoric wheelchair, unless I ask my Father to run the race for and in me. In this video, as in life, if I crucify myself, then the Great “I Am” can enable me to run any race this world has to offer. If I make myself the direct object of The Father’s love, then He can push me and pull me through – Whatever. It is when I see and follow the Savior whose nail-scared hands, and thighs, and back muscles pushed all of us to the Finish Line, that I have the perseverance to keep living goodness, and the experience promised peace that passes all understanding. I just need to remember that every day is a shot at winning a new Iron Woman competition, and every day, the starting line is redrawn. So I must moment by moment  ask Jesus to crucify “I”, and live in “me” and help me persevere with joy derived from His strength pushing me through in the Great Race of Life. In the video of the Hoyts’ race, look at the absolute joy on the son’s face as he crosses the finish line. That is what all those who crucify me, myself and I will some day experience when they come before the Throne, the joy of hearing from a God who did it All and pushed us through Life’s Race– saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Come on across your life’s finish line and receive the crown of thorns turned to a crown of Olympic Gold”.

The only reason I have ever crossed any literal or metaphoric finish line, has nothing to do with “I”, but because “me” is the direct object of God’s movement through and love in and for the world.  So, German language, take a back seat to this English teacher because Me am totally psyched out by the radical and cool love of my Daddy, Yahweh. And I say to you my silly Weltschmurz – Whatever!

I…. Not.  God…Yep-erroo!   That is how me became thankful to see some of my own handicaps today. The opposite of  “I” in God, is not “I-Not”, but You-Yes acting in me – Yes!”  That is who I am when I am best, crucified with Christ yet living powerfully and free. Because that is who God is when He is working in and through me – a good, good Daddy. That is the Thanks – giving of perseverance, the Less of me and the Yes of Christ. In German, this wholeness, and peacefulness is “ganz und friedlich”. In Hebrew, it is shalom.  In English, well, let’s just say peace in and Peace Out!

Psalm 136: 1  “Give thanks to The Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever”.

Team Hoyt and the song: “I Know My Redeemer Lives”  :

gty_team_hoyt_2008_kb_140408_4x3_992

The Oxymoronic If-Then Kingdom of an If-Then God

The Oxymoronic Kingdom of an If-Then God

by Jane Tawel

November 4, 2017

 

 

I read recently the following quote, by a German theologian, written before the full onslaught of Fascism and World War 2, but during that frightening dawn in the 1930’s, when it “dawned on” people of conscience that they must  speak out love and speak up truth in equal parts to the whole world, not just the small religious circle they might spin in. More importantly, Eberhard Arnold, as many have done, tried to live at least moments of his life, based on the words of The Christ found particularly and peculiarly in the Beatitudes. This quote by Arnold seemed apt for a different place and time — mine.

 

In today’s world situation it is essential that here and there among people there continue to exist rays of light and hope, spiritual realities by which the unity of God’s peace and the brotherliness of true justice are recognized. This is our only task.”

 

Eberhart formed a community of believers who thought it should be possible, or at least attempted,  to live “on earth as in heaven”, by following the instructions in the Beatitudes of Jesus.

 

Jesus carefully spoke words that would be apt for any place and time. He did so because that is the way God’s Kingdom is set up — for all people in all places and all times. The Good News of that Kingdom is that it is a message from a Cosmic Messenger for “every tongue, tribe, and nation”. The reality of what it is like to truly live in God’s Kingdom has been true for all times– not what we should hope for sometime in the future, but in an eternal Now — from the Creation to the end of what we call Time.

 

When I read the beatitudes of Jesus or study their meaning, I am always struck by something new. There is a mysterious depth to their seeming simplicity.  One phrase that struck me today, in the following words of A King named Jesus,  is “because of me”. That is His right as a King — to ask the citizens of His kingdom to do things because of Him.  The other thing that strikes me is the passivity to which we are to do the things The King wants us to do.  I am working on “If -Then” sentences with my students. I have found that most of what is called God’s Kingdom life is based on this grammatical and philosophical construct.  If – Then. In the Beatitudes, as also happens  in some English sentences at times, the Then comes first, and the If follows.

 

The first thing Jesus says is: “Then you will be blessed, If you are part of the kingdom”. If I interpret the idea of being “blessed” as being “full”, then in The Christ’s words,  we could stop right there actually, because any thing we desire to fill us up, is ours in God’s Kingdom. This is because The King of God’s Kingdom, has all the power, all the riches, all the glory, all the fame, all the world at His fingertips to give and take at His command. Of course then, as so often happens  in His teaching and preaching — that wild-man Jesus goes off-road!  Because being filled in God’s Kingdom, according to the Beatitudes or “Blessings” of Jesus,  involves being filled with mourning, and poverty, and meekness, and emptying old me so I can have more of being filled with God. Ouch! Not what the Wall Street News or most local churches can afford to preach today. Definitely not what I hear any other kings telling their citizens.

 

I tend to throw around this word, “blessed”, like many people do today. I want my family and friends to:  “Be blessed”. I often sign my emails, “Blessings.”  But every time I read the Beatitudes, I am stopped in my tracks — Do I really want people I care about to be “blessed” in the way Jesus says they should?  Mourning, meek and persecuted? Do I pray for that kind of “blessing” in my own life?  I know what I mean by using that word, but do I know what Jesus means by using that word?  Kingdom blessing doesn’t look much like your typical 401k or the sitcom life we all seem to idolize lately. There was an old hymn that had this line: “Take this world, but give me Jesus”. But we have mostly stopped seeing that as  an “If-Then” choice for our times, because why not have both?  The beatitudes seem to suggest that we cannot have both because two kingdoms cannot coexist together. They will always war against one another. We must choose which kingdom we want to win in our own lives and then live out the kingdom as a winning choice in this world.

 

Another interesting thing about this word “blessed” is that the Bible doesn’t really use it too much for individuals in the way we do today. When the Israelites blessed others, it as often went wrong as it did right.  (Note to self: reread the story of Isaac blessing Jacob and Esau). Perhaps our misuse of this idea of being blessed is due to our worldview of the self in an age that is at best the Post- Enlightenment on steroids and at worst lived out  in kingdoms in which any individual’s reality is worthy of Prime Time Idolization.  The Bible mostly uses “blessed” to refer to the individual’s response and a community’s “Then” response to our Creator’s “If”.  “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul and all that is within me”, the psalmist sings. Psalm 103:2: “Bless the Lord, oh my soul; and forget not all His benefits”.

 

Perhaps some of the biggest If  words of Jesus, relate to those He speaks about the fact that “If” we look at the life of Jesus, “Then” we are looking at the life of God.  “If you have seen me, Jesus says, you have seen The Father of All.” Which means in The “Blessings” of  The Christ, IF we want  to be blessed, THEN we are to be like Jesus and in turn, IF we are like Jesus, THEN, we are like God. Radical conceit indeed! – Pun on the word “conceit” intended!

 

If  The Christ is asking us to understand how we are to be blessed in the way that we are called to bless God, then the Beatitudes tell us something about the character and actions of Jehovah God. This idea should at least momentarily change my breathing pattern. Gasp!

 

If we look at  Jesus as The King of an earthly God- formed Kingdom, then we see in the beatitudes, the biographical details of a ruling monarch.  So The King, being a king like no other,  who mourns with us and is persecuted for our sake, reminds us that that If we want to believe in this sort of God, Then that is the sort of radical, “like no other god”, God we believe in:  A God who feels and mourns with His people.  A God who is persecuted for our sake, not who persecutes us for His sake.  A God who is meek and will never force us to honor or believe in Him.  What a radically different king, president, congressman, governor, ruler is this God of ours!  And what a radically different life of blessings Jehovah calls us to live.

 

If I read the beatitudes correctly, God’s image in us, as sons and daughters of God, is the image that The Son of God lived and preached. Another grammatical conceit is also used by Jesus in many of His teachings and is in the Blessings as well.  It is the mind-bending conceit of the Oxymoron. God’s Kingdom is so radical that sometimes, only an oxymoron serves to seep into the small little human brain that tries to think on things bigger than my planet. The oxymoron of the Beatitudes is, that  IF I want to be blessed, THEN I must be filled with less and emptied of more.

 

In the words of the Perfect Image of an unseen God, this is what we humans, created from and returned to dust, are to live like when we live like kings and gods. Indeed, as Arnold said, “this is our only task”, and as Jesus says, If I want blessings, it means allowing God — “The THEN” — to do the impossible in me. To be a persecuted prophet, to be a meek speaker of bold truth, to be a mourning beloved lover, to be hungry for holiness in order to be filled with blessings — these are some of the keys at my fingertips, IF– I truly want to unlock the Kingdom of God.

 

IF not, THEN, there are plenty of other kinds of kingdoms from which I may choose.

 

What God’s Kingdom looks like in Jesus’ poetic and prophetic words:

 

(Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them, saying):

 

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

 

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

 

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,

 

for they will be filled.

 

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.

 

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

 

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.

 

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

— The Words of The King of The World as recorded in Matthew 5:1-12

 

An Ode to Oxymoronic Living

by Jane Tawel

 

Tottering on the If,

I bend my knee to The Holy Then.

I emptily fill

my mind-heart

With unloved-Loving You.

There can never be More-GOD,

as YOU are All.

There can only be less-me

and more Time-Space hollowed-hallowed,

for  me, a holy-hole,

of dust-soul

 created in

Godly-dust imagery of

fallen saviors.

I resist-yearn to

backwardly-follow

with blinded-sight,

The Savior who when He fell, Arose!

 

 

 

The Oxymoronic If-Then Kingdom of an If-Then God

The Oxymoronic Kingdom of an If-Then God

by Jane Tawel

November 4, 2017

 

 

I read recently the following quote, by a German theologian, written before the full onslaught of Fascism and World War 2, but during that frightening dawn in the 1930’s, when it “dawned on” people of conscience that they must  speak out love and speak up truth in equal parts to the whole world, not just the small religious circle they might spin in. More importantly, Eberhard Arnold, as many have done, tried to live at least moments of his life, based on the words of The Christ found particularly and peculiarly in the Beatitudes. This quote by Arnold seemed apt for a different place and time — mine.

 

In today’s world situation it is essential that here and there among people there continue to exist rays of light and hope, spiritual realities by which the unity of God’s peace and the brotherliness of true justice are recognized. This is our only task.”

 

Eberhart formed a community of believers who thought it should be possible, or at least attempted,  to live “on earth as in heaven”, by following the instructions in the Beatitudes of Jesus.

 

Jesus carefully spoke words that would be apt for any place and time. He did so because that is the way God’s Kingdom is set up — for all people in all places and all times. The Good News of that Kingdom is that it is a message from a Cosmic Messenger for “every tongue, tribe, and nation”. The reality of what it is like to truly live in God’s Kingdom has been true for all times– not what we should hope for sometime in the future, but in an eternal Now — from the Creation to the end of what we call Time.

 

When I read the beatitudes of Jesus or study their meaning, I am always struck by something new. There is a mysterious depth to their seeming simplicity.  One phrase that struck me today, in the following words of A King named Jesus,  is “because of me”. That is His right as a King — to ask the citizens of His kingdom to do things because of Him.  The other thing that strikes me is the passivity to which we are to do the things The King wants us to do.  I am working on “If -Then” sentences with my students. I have found that most of what is called God’s Kingdom life is based on this grammatical and philosophical construct.  If – Then. In the Beatitudes, as also happens  in some English sentences at times, the Then comes first, and the If follows.

 

The first thing Jesus says is: “Then you will be blessed, If you are part of the kingdom”. If I interpret the idea of being “blessed” as being “full”, then in The Christ’s words,  we could stop right there actually, because any thing we desire to fill us up, is ours in God’s Kingdom. This is because The King of God’s Kingdom, has all the power, all the riches, all the glory, all the fame, all the world at His fingertips to give and take at His command. Of course then, as so often happens  in His teaching and preaching — that wild-man Jesus goes off-road!  Because being filled in God’s Kingdom, according to the Beatitudes or “Blessings” of Jesus,  involves being filled with mourning, and poverty, and meekness, and emptying old me so I can have more of being filled with God. Ouch! Not what the Wall Street News or most local churches can afford to preach today. Definitely not what I hear any other kings telling their citizens.

 

I tend to throw around this word, “blessed”, like many people do today. I want my family and friends to:  “Be blessed”. I often sign my emails, “Blessings.”  But every time I read the Beatitudes, I am stopped in my tracks — Do I really want people I care about to be “blessed” in the way Jesus says they should?  Mourning, meek and persecuted? Do I pray for that kind of “blessing” in my own life?  I know what I mean by using that word, but do I know what Jesus means by using that word?  Kingdom blessing doesn’t look much like your typical 401k or the sitcom life we all seem to idolize lately. There was an old hymn that had this line: “Take this world, but give me Jesus”. But we have mostly stopped seeing that as  an “If-Then” choice for our times, because why not have both?  The beatitudes seem to suggest that we cannot have both because two kingdoms cannot coexist together. They will always war against one another. We must choose which kingdom we want to win in our own lives and then live out the kingdom as a winning choice in this world.

 

Another interesting thing about this word “blessed” is that the Bible doesn’t really use it too much for individuals in the way we do today. When the Israelites blessed others, it as often went wrong as it did right.  (Note to self: reread the story of Isaac blessing Jacob and Esau). Perhaps our misuse of this idea of being blessed is due to our worldview of the self in an age that is at best the Post- Enlightenment on steroids and at worst lived out  in kingdoms in which any individual’s reality is worthy of Prime Time Idolization.  The Bible mostly uses “blessed” to refer to the individual’s response and a community’s “Then” response to our Creator’s “If”.  “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul and all that is within me”, the psalmist sings. Psalm 103:2: “Bless the Lord, oh my soul; and forget not all His benefits”.

 

Perhaps some of the biggest If  words of Jesus, relate to those He speaks about the fact that “If” we look at the life of Jesus, “Then” we are looking at the life of God.  “If you have seen me, Jesus says, you have seen The Father of All.” Which means in The “Blessings” of  The Christ, IF we want  to be blessed, THEN we are to be like Jesus and in turn, IF we are like Jesus, THEN, we are like God. Radical conceit indeed! – Pun on the word “conceit” intended!

 

If  The Christ is asking us to understand how we are to be blessed in the way that we are called to bless God, then the Beatitudes tell us something about the character and actions of Jehovah God. This idea should at least momentarily change my breathing pattern. Gasp!

 

If we look at  Jesus as The King of an earthly God- formed Kingdom, then we see in the beatitudes, the biographical details of a ruling monarch.  So The King, being a king like no other,  who mourns with us and is persecuted for our sake, reminds us that that If we want to believe in this sort of God, Then that is the sort of radical, “like no other god”, God we believe in:  A God who feels and mourns with His people.  A God who is persecuted for our sake, not who persecutes us for His sake.  A God who is meek and will never force us to honor or believe in Him.  What a radically different king, president, congressman, governor, ruler is this God of ours!  And what a radically different life of blessings Jehovah calls us to live.

 

If I read the beatitudes correctly, God’s image in us, as sons and daughters of God, is the image that The Son of God lived and preached. Another grammatical conceit is also used by Jesus in many of His teachings and is in the Blessings as well.  It is the mind-bending conceit of the Oxymoron. God’s Kingdom is so radical that sometimes, only an oxymoron serves to seep into the small little human brain that tries to think on things bigger than my planet. The oxymoron of the Beatitudes is, that  IF I want to be blessed, THEN I must be filled with less and emptied of more.

 

In the words of the Perfect Image of an unseen God, this is what we humans, created from and returned to dust, are to live like when we live like kings and gods. Indeed, as Arnold said, “this is our only task”, and as Jesus says, If I want blessings, it means allowing God — “The THEN” — to do the impossible in me. To be a persecuted prophet, to be a meek speaker of bold truth, to be a mourning beloved lover, to be hungry for holiness in order to be filled with blessings — these are some of the keys at my fingertips, IF– I truly want to unlock the Kingdom of God.

 

IF not, THEN, there are plenty of other kinds of kingdoms from which I may choose.

 

What God’s Kingdom looks like in Jesus’ poetic and prophetic words:

 

(Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them, saying):

 

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

 

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

 

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,

 

for they will be filled.

 

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.

 

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

 

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.

 

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

— The Words of The King of The World as recorded in Matthew 5:1-12

 

An Ode to Oxymoronic Living

by Jane Tawel

 

Tottering on the If,

I bend my knee to The Holy Then.

I emptily fill

my mind-heart

With unloved-Loving You.

There can never be More-GOD,

as YOU are All.

There can only be less-me

and more Time-Space hollowed-hallowed,

for  me, a holy-hole,

of dust-soul

 created in

Godly-dust imagery of

fallen saviors.

I resist-yearn to

backwardly-follow

with blinded-sight,

The Savior who when He fell, Arose!

 

 

 

#notmetoo

“Hashtag: Not Me Too”

By Jane Tawel

October 21, 2017

 

 

I wanted to share a link here to an excellent article by Alexandra Petri, on the current discussion about Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump, and other powerful men like them that have a history of abusing women. It is also an article that provides a tough look at what we as women (and men who are not abusers), have allowed ourselves to think and do in work and personal relationships to men and ourselves.

 

The metaphor this writer uses of women as victims of second-hand smoke is startlingly true. During the recent “me too” women solidarity campaign — and I applaud it, I do — but I felt like posting, “well, duh, me too”. Of course! I can give you countless stories — both, as this author writes “lucky escapes” and a few not at all lucky escapes but life-changing situations of abuse of power or “friendship”.

 

My worldview (and my family laughs at my insistence on this term), is, in ever deepening humility I pray, an incrementally and hopefully growing Judeo-Christian worldview. I feel a deep sadness that many “churches” and few “Christians” do very little to address real moral and culture-fabric destroying issues like this one. I have pathetically tried with my own children, and with students, but I often feel all I can do is pray with “groanings and moanings” for them because the mind boggles and the spirit grows faint after a while. And as Petri writes, we just get used to not speaking the Truth and instead wearing our womanly hazmat gear around all the second-hand smoke.  Frankly, when the hullaballoo happened surrounding Mike Pence’s habit of taking his wife to meals with women he worked with, my ironic comment based on my own experience was, honestly, there are many times in my life and career I would have greatly preferred meeting with a boss or mentor and his wife, rather than trying to carry on professionally without another woman present.  I would often have felt more respected had his wife been in the room than when I was alone in the room with him. At least a wife there would have been a second layer of protective gear.

 

But this whole discussion is not new, and I don’t even mean in our time and place. It is as old as Adam and Eve. It is a worldview that believes in the dual sins of omission and commission comingling in our fallen-ness. Adam blames Eve and Eve blames Adam and both of them destroy the human bonds of love, truth, and justice. Then they work together to blame anything else – the snake, the god, the trees – just so long as they don’t have to look within.

 

Jesus called us out when He drew in the sand and recommended that the powerful men surrounding the abused woman “taken in adultery”, look at the evil within their own hearts and the society they had created in their own images, not God’s. I think the writer of the gospels said with great Judeo-Christian dark humorous irony, this phrase “taken in adultery”, much like they might say, today, “she should be stoned because the men only did that because she dressed the way she did”.  (At least Adam couldn’t blame his sin on the way Eve was dressed.) Into that dual-ly sinning world and into our dual-ly sinning world, there comes the most powerful, famous Son of Man of the day, and this Superstar who never abused any of His power or abused any of His people, says, “Woman. Where are your accusers? RISE UP! And go about your life and don’t partake in this sin any more.” Jesus, who never committed a sin of commission or omission, says, in effect, “Where there is smoke, there is fire. Hell-fire”. Then He offers to be our eternal hazmat gear. But we still have to stop the world’s smoking habit. We have to Rise Up on the fresh breaths of God’s Truth and Love.

 

And this is, I think, what Jesus would say to women today. And tomorrow. And forever. Rise up and sin no more.

 

And yes, some of the men in my stories, who have been raised to think they are “weather” also have been raised to think they are “christians”. Some worked in “ministries”.  And very few of them were ever asked to look inside and put down their power stones. That is truly and eternally tragic, as this writer calls out. Evil without can destroy the body but not the soul. But–Evil within poisons the soul; and being allowed to continue to do the wrong thing is deforming and horrible for the person we pharisaical bystanders allow to continue to do it. This is why Jesus calls out His own followers and still calls them to come out – away from —  our pharisaical smug, self-defensive, self-protective, “getting some help”, cheap grace bought unjustness.

 

This calling to account is also Godly love and truth married to each other. We need to stop professing the current culture of narcissistic power -hungry “Christianity”. The calling to account of the sins of commission pale in comparison to what God does and will do to address the sins of omission. But judgement is what He does to love us. The Gospel is truly not that cheap brand of Disney-Hollywood-idolized love currently sold in the halls of governments and churches. Alas and Woe! – as it was in the days The Christ stood up against the powerful governmental and religious leaders. Because it is our own complicity in the world’s brokenness and sinfulness that we will be burdened with and by. It is that burden we choose to keep carrying, like heavy stones we want to throw at others. The stones of our complicity which are preventing us from the true freedom of being beloved in God.

 

When I read this article again, I will look long and hard at my own complicity in allowing the second-hand smoke of sinfulness.  I will also look long and hard at whether I am insisting on “taking the money”, so to speak or the “downtime” to relax in recreation bought by someone’s complicity, someone’s slavery, and someone’s evil towards others.

 

And I will ask myself: Am I the woman who is never brought before The Lord and thereby saved from  her sinfulness and so continues in her complicit sinning? Or am I brave enough, to throw my own body down myself – not as a means to get ahead but as a means to find Christ’s cross in my own life?  Am I willing to throw myself down in front of the people with stones in their hands and draw a line in the sand between the perpetrators of this world  and their sycophants? Will I say, not “me too”, but Christ alone? Will I Rise Up against my own sins of omission?

 

Will I #me too?  Or will I say, I have been freed to sin no more? Let’s join hands together and let the rest of the world know, they – men and women – need no longer be slaves to sin.

 

Hashtag – Woman,  Rise Up and Sin No More. #Jesus

adam-and-eve-banished-from-garden-of-eden

 

Article by Alexadra Petri can be found at the following link:

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/compost/wp/2017/10/18/men-of-the-world-you-are-not-the-weather/?utm_term=.1e13ca5a5782#comments

 

A Sheep Dog Worldview By a Sheepdog Wanna-Be

A Sheep Dog Worldview By A Sheepdog Wanna–Be

By Jane Tawel

October 4, 2017

 

There have often been days when one singular phrase seems to reverberate through my mind in the small byways I travel.  It is a phrase I heard in long gone days that is the title of a book by Francis Schaeffer.  This phrase more than so many others, seems to encapsulate for me what my worldview should daily center around. This phrase which is really a question, seems to circle round, like a shepherd dog does a flock of unruly sheep. It encapsulates the guiding force that should shepherd the many unruly questions I am asking moment by moment in work, family, play, the world’s intersections, and even in solitude in relationship to God and in relationship to what I read in God’s Holy Word.  I have been a bit stunned to learn from college colleagues, that one of the phrases that has been thrown out and therefore not taught to students (perhaps in favor of “common core” –ironic pause here), is the phrase “worldview”.  I have been told by youth pastors that this phrase does not “resonate” with today’s generation.  I am sorry but the Midwestern in me, cries out, “Hogwash! You must be kidding!”. If there has ever been a generation of people who need to understand that every one has a worldview whether they know it or not and live by it whether they know it or not, it just might be this “worldview on twitter -steroids” generation. There is actually a neato little questionnaire they can fill out (although not on twitter).  The idea is very old and there are a standard and historically and culturally applicable, 7 (or 8 depending on your source)  worldview questions.  Here is a link – one of many you can find. This one is from a well -known source from James Sire.  I use it as often as possible in my classes.

 

http://www.christianity.com/theology/other-religions-beliefs/8-questions-every-worldview-must-answer.html

 

So what is my sheepdog? What is the question that has been imprinted by Francis Schaeffer on my feeble worldview search? The phrase is:

 

“How should we then live?”

 

There is a parallelism to the implied answer to that question that adds balance to one’s life.  It is the “If –Then” equation.  IF I believe such and such, THEN I should be reflecting that such and such in my actions and my choices; in my words and my deeds; in my relationships and my viewing material; and in my “heart, soul, mind, and strength”– as The Christ says in Matthew 22:37.

 

So I recently began rereading and newly reading some Schaeffer. And lo and behold, there in the preface were the words of another favorite theologian of mine, J.I. Packer.   People like Packer and Schaeffer, Willard and Lewis, L’Engle and Sayers, Manning and Johnson, Tozer, and Tolkien, and Terese, — these people have become my sheepdogs along with too many others to name. These writers are the THEN answers to my own  IF worldview questions.  They become the sheepdogs who run the other side of my flock of a life—a silly sheep-like flock of thoughts and actions which has a hard time not ambling out of God’s provided pasture.  My little sheep-like mind has a hard time understanding that ignorance is not an excuse for hypocrisy. And I often ignore the sheepdogs that God provides as they try to keep safe the foolish sheep of my mind, heart and soul and to prevent me from metaphorically running off a pride-invented cliff.

 

My sheepdog saints, both living and passed, are there to help my sheepdog questions and try to keep my unruly sheep-thoughts and sheep-actions in line with the worldview I claim to hold – The Christ in the Center Worldview – Christ in the center of everything, from history to the future of humankind, from the Epistles to the Torah, from society to politics, from laws to mercy and justice, and  from Christ in others to Christ in me. Christ the Great Shepherd has provided us with sheepdogs throughout our history.  But we must allow them into our foolish flocks. And there these mighty, brave, wondrously intelligent, loving and caring sheepdog saints work with the Great Shepherd, The Messiah, to guide my little silly sheep-life.  Great saints and prophets do this not out of love of blessing or manna, but out of their great love for the sheep and their even greater love for The Shepherd.

 

I write because it is how I think and learn best, but here by someone so much more of everything than I, are words from one of the great theological sheepdogs, J.I. Packer about one of the other great theological sheepdogs, Francis Schaeffer.  I hope after reading them, you might want to pick up some of my own sheepdog saints’ writings.  At least pause just a moment and ask yourself as I am today:

 

How Shall We Then Live?

If……. Then……..

 

From J.I. Packer in the Preface to Francis Schaeffer’s Trilogy:

 

“Francis Schaeffer was a reading listening, thinking man who lived in the present, learned from the past, and looked to the future… He was an impassioned thinker who paints his vision of eternal truth in bold strokes and stark contrasts… Schaeffer saw himself as an evangelist, called to speak the truth with an uncompromising urgency to real people in real trouble, whose lives have been broken by the relativism, irrationalism, fragmentation and nihilism of our culture today.  And thus I think it truest to call him a prophet-pastor, a Bible-based visionary who by the light of his vision sought out a world in need and shepherded the Lord’s sheep… The essential perceptions which shaped his vision and work:

First Schaeffer vividly perceived the wholeness of created reality, of human life, of each person’s thinking, and of God’s revealed truth.  He had a mind for first principles, for systems, and for totalities, and he would never discuss issues in isolation or let a viewpoint go till he had explored and tested its implications as a total account of reality and life.  He saw fundamental analysis of this kind a s clarifying, for as he often pointed out, there are not many basic worldviews, and we all need to realize how much or haphazard, surface-level thoughts are actually taking for granted… Christianity must be presented in terms of its own presuppositions and in theologically styematic form, as the revealed good news of our rational and holy Creator who became our gracious and merciful Redeemer in space and time.

 

Second, Schaeffer perceived the primacy of reason in each individual’s makeup and the potency of ideas in the human mind.  He saw that “ideas have legs”, so that how we think determines what we are.  So the first task in evangelism, in the modern West or anywhere else, is to persuade the other person that he ought to embrace the Christian view of reality…. This is to treat a human, not as an “intellectual”, but as the human being that he undoubtedly is.  To address his mind in this way is to show respect for him as a human being, made for truth because he is made in God’s image.

 

Third, Schaeffer perceived the Western mind as adrift on a trackless sea of relativism and irrationalism.  He saw that the notion of truth as involving exclusion of untruth, and of value as involving exclusion of dysvalue, had perished in both sophisticated and popular thinking.  Into its place had crept the idea of ongoing synthesis—the idea that eventually there is not real distinction between right and wrong or truth and untruth, and that antithesis will eventually be swallowed up in a category-less “pan-everythingism.” To make people realize how this viewpoint has victimized them across the board, Schaeffer regularly introduced his topics with an historical analysis showing how Western thought about them had reached its current state of delirium.  The aim of these analyses was to reestablish the notion that there is an absolute antithesis between truth and error, good and evil, beauty and the obscenely ugly, and so to refurnish our ravaged and pillaged minds in a way that makes significant thinking about life, death, personhood, and God possible for us once more.

 

Fourth, Schaeffer perceived the importance of identifying—in all discussion on what being a Christian involves – that which he called the antithesis and the point of tension. The antithesis is between truth and untruth, right and wrong, good and evil, the meaningful and the meaningless, Christian and not-Christian value systems, secular relativism and Christian absolutism.  He made it his business on every topic he handled to cover the “either-or” choices that have to be made at the level of first principles and to show that the biblical-Christian options for personal and community life are the only ones that are consistently rational and satisfyingly human.

 

Fifth, Schaeffer perceived the need to live truth as well as think it—to demonstrate to the world through the transformed lifestyle of believing groups that the “the Personal-Infinite God is really there in our generation.”

 

Christian credibility, Schaeffer saw, requires that truth be not merely defended, but practiced; not just debated, but done….

 

What long-term significance has Schaeffer for the Christian cause?  We wait to see. The law of human fame will no doubt treat Schaeffer as it has treated others, eclipsing him temporarily now that he is dead and only allowing us to see his real stature ten or twenty years down the road.  My guess is that his verbal and visual sketches, simple but brilliant as they appear to me to be, will outlive everything else, but I may be wrong.  I am sure however, that I shall not be at all wrong when I hail Francis Schaeffer, the little Presbyterian pastor who saw so much more of what he was looking at and agonized over it so much more tenderly than the rest of us do, as one of the truly great Christians of my time.”

— J.I. Packer, February 1990

From The Preface to  The Three Essential Books in One Volume: Frances Schaeffer Trilogy

 

So how shall I then live, if I want to put away my sheep-ishness and take on the hard work of being The Great Shepherd’s Sheepdog?  I start by keeping my ears turned to the voice of the Good Shepherd and my heart turned to the needs of the lost sheep, even when the lost one is me, but especially when it is another who is lost.

Jesus gave some pretty strong indications about His own worldview.  He completely believed that He was The Center of The Eternal Worldview.  He believed His Worldview of Him as Son and The Father were the only gate by which we sheep could enter into God’s worldview. Here are the words of The Son of God who lived as I did in this world but came to show Himself as Creator-Savior in a Kingdom whose worldview has no end.  I plan on meditating on these words of Jesus while grazing in my own little worldview pasture today.

From John’s record of The Good Shepherd’s Words to us on Worldview:

Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.

11-13 “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary. A hired man is not a real shepherd. The sheep mean nothing to him. He sees a wolf come and runs for it, leaving the sheep to be ravaged and scattered by the wolf. He’s only in it for the money. The sheep don’t matter to him.

14-18 “I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. You need to know that I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen. I need to gather and bring them, too. They’ll also recognize my voice. Then it will be one flock, one Shepherd. This is why the Father loves me: because I freely lay down my life. And so I am free to take it up again. No one takes it from me. I lay it down of my own free will. I have the right to lay it down; I also have the right to take it up again. I received this authority personally from my Father.”

19-21 This kind of talk caused another split in the Jewish ranks. A lot of them were saying, “He’s crazy, a maniac—out of his head completely. Why bother listening to him?” But others weren’t so sure: “These aren’t the words of a crazy man. Can a ‘maniac’ open blind eyes?”

22-24 They were celebrating Hanukkah just then in Jerusalem. It was winter. Jesus was strolling in the Temple across Solomon’s Porch. The Jews, circling him, said, “How long are you going to keep us guessing? If you’re the Messiah, tell us straight out.”

25-30 Jesus answered, “I told you, but you don’t believe. Everything I have done has been authorized by my Father, actions that speak louder than words. You don’t believe because you’re not my sheep. My sheep recognize my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them real and eternal life. They are protected from the Destroyer for good. No one can steal them from out of my hand. The Father who put them under my care is so much greater than the Destroyer and Thief. No one could ever get them away from him. I and the Father are one heart and mind.”

31-32 Again the Jews picked up rocks to throw at him. Jesus said, “I have made a present to you from the Father of a great many good actions. For which of these acts do you stone me?”

33 The Jews said, “We’re not stoning you for anything good you did, but for what you said—this blasphemy of calling yourself God.”

34-38 Jesus said, “I’m only quoting your inspired Scriptures, where God said, ‘I tell you—you are gods.’ If God called your ancestors ‘gods’—and Scripture doesn’t lie—why do you yell, ‘Blasphemer! Blasphemer!’ at the unique One the Father consecrated and sent into the world, just because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I don’t do the things my Father does, well and good; don’t believe me. But if I am doing them, put aside for a moment what you hear me say about myself and just take the evidence of the actions that are right before your eyes. Then perhaps things will come together for you, and you’ll see that not only are we doing the same thing, we are the same—Father and Son. He is in me; I am in him.”

39-42 They tried yet again to arrest him, but he slipped through their fingers.

From: The Gospel of Sheepdog John in Chapter 10

Dear Lord,

Let my bark belong to you. Let my ears prick up at the sound of Your Voice.  Let me joyfully work like a dog in Your Kingdom Pasture. Let me know that You have provided for my future when my legs can’t run any more and that you daily provide all that I need for my tasks.  Let me keep my eyes trained on my flock which so easily goes astray and let me always be willing to go in search of the one lost sheep, just as You do.  I am a foolish old hound dog but You have called me to Your side as a co-worker. You are so much greater than I and yet You allow me to sit at the foot of Your table and eat Your scraps. And somehow, You Oh, Shepherd, call me not Your pet, but Your child.  I praise you with meager “woofs woofs” that in Your loving heart You choose to interpret as my earnest and loving praise.

Help me today, to herd ’em up and move ’em on, further up and further in,

Your Ole’ Dog, Jane

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