What is Really Going on in The Universe?

Worldview Reality Check #1

by Jane Tawel

January 20, 2018

I decided that periodically, I might do well to post in my blog, words and ideas by authors who are –by about a million light years — well — just more everything than I. I often want to  share about something I have read that I believe is critical to understanding how, I humbly submit, life is best lived. To be honest, I  think that someday we will all discover either to our horror or amazement, that life is in fact, only truly lived in One Way — all the rest of it will be revealed as lies and death.  Yes — I am always a barrel of laughs…

I have written before about this seeming lack of understanding or desire to create within one’s self a coherent worldview. I have been told the word “worldview” itself is hopelessly out of fashion.  If that is true for you, read no further.

This week I self-diagnosed myself as an “OWYS”.  (Don’t worry, if you haven’t heard of OWYS — I have invented this.)  I realized that I am an “Old-World Young Soul” — hopelessly terminal with an old-world worldview but a young soul maturity level. Imagine a little child still playing dress up with Big Ideas, and you get the drift. Explains a lot if you know me.

I am thankful for people still living and those passed on, who can teach me and also help God treat my symptoms.  This past week, I have meditated on many of the profound worldview teachings of that great passed on saint, Dr. Martin Luther King. I have played dress up with my words before around the words of Francis Schaeffer and N.T. Wright, the prophet Isaiah, Dallas Willard, and Emily Dickinson, etc. etc. And of course I have gotten out my crayons and pretend dump truck and played with the words of Jesus.  God have mercy. Christ have mercy.

Of course for me, whether a person is writing for the Washington Post, the latest Sitcom, or the Pickwick Papers, truth is Truth.  All truth must be looked at through the revealed truth of God “sitting on the throne” of everything. Romans 2:14-16: “Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life.”

What is really going on in our Universe, if you believe in God, is what is really going on in The Everythingness of Everything, and it is also, what is really going on in the tiny, itty -bitty little ant-like life of little old, OWYS Me.

Here is the first in what, God willing, will be some  “What’s Really Going on in The Universe Reality Checks” for any one who, like I, needs inspiration from great minds, large hearts, inspired spirits, profound thinkers, warning prophets, and loving, wise human companions on our journey through the Universe.

Reality Worldview Check #1

by A.W. Tozer

If we want to say we believe in “a” God…. this from Tozer’s The Knowledge of The Holy:

 

Holy is the way God is.  To be holy He does not conform to a standard. He is that standard.  He is absolutely holy with an infinite, incomprehensible fullness of purity that is incapable of being other than it is.  Because He is holy, His attributes are holy; that is whatever we think of as belonging to God must be thought of as holy.

 

God is holy and He has made holiness the moral condition necessary to the health of His universe.  Sin’s temporary presence in the world only accents this.  Whatever is holy is healthy; evil is a moral sickness that must end ultimately in death.  The formation of the language itself suggests this, the English word holy deriving from the Anglo-Saxon halig, hal, meaning, “well, whole.”

 

Since God’s first concern for His universe is its moral health, that is, its holiness, whatever is contrary to this is necessarily under His eternal displeasure.  To preserve His creation God must destroy whatever would destroy it.  God’s wrath is His utter intolerance of whatever degrades and destroys.  He hates iniquity as a mother hates the polio that take the life of her child.

 

God is holy with an absolute holiness that knows no degrees, and this He cannot impart to His creatures.  But there is a relative and contingent holiness which He shares with angels and seraphim in heaven and with redeemed men on earth as their preparation for heaven.  This holiness God can and does impart to His children.  He shares it with them by imputation and by impartation, and because He has made it available to them through the blood of the Lamb, He requires it of them.  To Israel first and later to His Church God spoke, saying, “Be ye holy’ for I am holy.”… No honest man can say ‘I am holy,” but neither is any honest man willing to ignore the solemn words of the inspired writer, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”

 

Caught in this dilemma, what are we Christians to do?  We must like Moses cover ourselves with faith and humility while we steal a quick look at the God whom no man can see and live. The broken and the contrite heart He will not despise.  We must hide our unholiness in the wounds of Christ as Moses hid himself in the cleft of the rock while the glory of God passed by.  We must take refuge from God in God.  Above all we must believe that God sees us perfect in His Son while He disciplines and chastens and purges us that we may be partakers of His holiness.

 

By faith and obedience, by constant meditation on the holiness of God, by loving righteousness and hating iniquity, by a growing acquaintance with the Spirit of holiness, we can acclimate ourselves to the fellowship of the saints on earth and prepare ourselves for the eternal companionship of God and the saints above. Thus as they say when humble believers meet, we will have a heaven to go to heaven in.  (Tozer,105-107)         (Emphases are mine)

With fearful awe of God, seeking a heaven on earth as it is in God’s heavens,

Jane

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Resurrected Butterflies by Jane Tawel

Resurrected Butterflies

by Jane Tawel

January 14, 2018

 

I teach against the decay of decency and uninspiring language of the times. I do not want a generation of children to aspire to be those people, whatever their important job titles. Yesterday–teaching using the eloquent, inspirational, brilliant, literate and very Christian speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior. The Speech on the Mall, “I Have a Dream” –and my students go wild with the amazing truth of it — not just then but, oh sorrow — now too, here too. And they gather hope in little parcels, and I try to gather the little wrappings around their gifts of hope to keep in my own heart. I wish I could tell them that our current nation’s problems are all “just a dream”, but instead I tell them, “On behalf of us adults, I am so sorry. I am so sorry. Please find a way, to forgive us and to change the world. Please.” And so they write about their dreams of no more violence, and a world with clean water and air, and a time when no one sleeps on the streets but everyone sleeps in a bed, and a world where everyone knows God and loves Him. And I tell them — Yes, this is Christ’s Kingdom. He is here ready to serve and be served. Enter today. Enter forever. Change the world–on earth as in Christ’s Heaven. And just as in the words of the first Church’s evangelists, — who did not believe you could change definitions of what it means to be some one so that you could defend your sins –because my children and students have vision of what it means to follow Goodness and Truth, a vision that the world could be changed, this “old one can still dream dreams”(Acts 2:17). “I Have a Dream” because, like great men such as both the Martin Luthers of old, the children don’t know better yet, than to risk dreaming big dreams. There is hope.

If I have taught my students that Emily Dickinson wrote that “Hope is the thing with feathers”, then my students have taught me that hope is found in the people with the least amount of armor, in those with a lack of defense, with their little stones held ready against the Goliaths of ignorance, fear, hate, and injustice. Hope is found in laughter at self and tears for others.  Hope is found in the innocence that must moor up big dreams.  Hope can be found in all of us who believe we were wrong, are wrong, will be wrong again, but that there is a Great Teacher who created us to know that He is all Right, alright, and all righteous.  Hope is indeed the “little bird that sings the song and never stops at all” and can be heard even in “the chillest land and on the strangest sea”.  But I am not so sure as a teacher that  I agree with the artist.  Hope does ask something of me.  My students have taught me in fact that it asks much of me.  Hope requires that I believe.

I teach against the decay of belief in the world. There is a God who holds the whole world’s hopes in His Righteous Right Hand. I teach against the uninspiring lies of our time. There is a God who is true and Who sent us His only begotten Truth, Light and Way.  I teach against the hopelessness that threatens to swamp us. Indeed, I teach against my own heart’s tendency to be swamped by fear and despair. Hope is indeed the thing with feathers. Like the butterfly effect of small beating wings in the hearts of the children, Hope will rise above the swamp of despair.  Hope is the gift the children still have to give me. I just need to keep my hands and heart open to receive. I just need to believe that all of us who believe are stronger than those who would pluck off the wings of our hope.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. realized that darkness cannot defeat darkness, only light can do that; and hate cannot defeat hate; only love can do that. Despair can and will defeat us if we believe that hope is only strong enough for one’s own selfish dreams.  The children believe that hope is only strong when it flies out of our own hands to be caught by the hands of others.  Oh, yes, sometimes those hopes are crushed by the hard calloused grip of fear or greed, or beneath the tragic heels of prejudice or lust. But the children still don’t know any better than to trust that there is a God who knows even the very moment that a sparrow-ed dream falls; a God who cares about every winged hope; a God Who resurrected all the dead and dying hopes of the world when He resurrected The Hope of the World, Jesus. The children let their hope fly freely, born on the wings of their dreams for a world that can be better — should be better — oh, Must be better!  May hope grow wings in our hearts; and may we open our hearts and hands to release those hopes into a world sorely in need of resurrected butterflies.

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Staking a Claim Slaving in the Mines of God’s Kingdom

Staking a Claim Slaving in the Mines of God’s Kingdom

By Jane Tawel

January 2, 2018

So today I am reading in the newspaper about “this land is your land, this land is my land”-America and thinking, well, that has always been a sales-job if ever I’ve heard one.  From the beginning humans have wanted to stake claims for self and self alone, from the Tree to Egypt to Israel to the Colonies and nationalism in all its forms. The lens through which we see the land and the peoples who populate it depend greatly on whether we work as slaves inside the mines or as mine-owners of the slaves. The other thing that has always been true is that we want to see ourselves as the protagonist of the story and the protagonist as always a good guy or gal.  I might be a slave-owner but I’m one of the good ones.  I’m not as rich as that woman so I must be on the good side.

 

So speaking of being aware of what is going on in the world –I don’t watch television really unless you count Netflix; so I found it train-wreck fascinating the other day to watch the Rose Parade and see where our world-view has ended up. I didn’t realize that:  It is not okay for a marching band to play good music, the band also has to have contributed to a worthy charity.  It is not okay for people to sell cars, they also have to give random strangers dressed poorly free tickets and blankets branded with the company name. I believe they must first get a free haircut from said car company. It is not okay for people to advertise by creating a unique parade of floats with flowers, we also have to have cared for the ocean while flying our airline. And for Pete’s sake, really?  It is not okay for us to add two bombers to fly by the stealth bomber to show how cool and powerful and war-ready we are – we have to also claim the war machines symbolize organ donation?  You seriously believe that and want me to believe that as well?  C’mon Son! If the television is any indication, we have come full circle from not wanting to be recognized for getting ahead in this world, to wanting to be absolved from any thing we might have done to get there. We shout down protestors by shouting from the streets our charitable acts.  Such a different idea of charity than God’s: “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Quote by Jesus, the most non-fame seeking of God’s servants as recorded in Matthew 6:3)

If we want to stake any claim to or be any part of Jesus in the land in which we are exiled then as Karl Barth said, “Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.”

 It is perhaps especially time that we must read the newspaper without our own choice of cultural commentary.  Read it for what our leaders are doing, not saying, doing in all arenas of the powerful — the whole anti-trinity of the greedily powerful–government, religious, and societal. The Anti-Christ of 666 is exactly that – the three 6’s of man’s fallen, incomplete rule that is opposed in any way to The Christ – the God rule. (The numerology in a nut shell that is perhaps most relevant to us today is the perfect 7 of God versus the close but no cigar image of God in man as numerically symbolized in Scripture as 6.) In other words, the place I will find the anti-Christ is in my own life and the lives of others.  This is not my being judgmental. This is simply reality if you step through the door of the wardrobe, or put on the ring, or tesseract out of the mire, or walk through the narrow gate, or as Joshua said long ago, “as for me and my miners (or minors hahaha), we will serve the Lord God”. The homonym here is so apt.  What are we who have led the world for a while now, leaving for future miners or minors?  I feel sick at heart that I have fracked my soul in exchange for more literal and figurative gold than I need, leaving behind for future generations the strip-mined dross of my greed. This of course is not just monetary greed, but the idolization of all things self, as opposed to being a slave to the image of God in me.  God as server Creator. God as slavish lover. God as One who has everything He needs and loves us anyway.

The open pit-mine of my need can never be filled by taking a pickaxe to the needs of others or by strip-mining the earth. To live God’s Kingdom life, The Word advises, “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.” (Revelations 3:18)

 

 

This is not to say all leaders or powerful or rich people behave in this way – of course there are great examples we can all name of those who do not.  However, there are far too many we are unwilling to name who are anti-Christs, because… why? What minefields do I think I avoid by digging for treasure in the mines of authorities and famous leaders – the world’s powers and principalities — while leaving the deep and endless treasure troves of God’s Kingdom life undiscovered and unproclaimed? We have become not only unwilling to suffer, but have become deplorably ignorant in our quest for things – for idols. In Romans, Paul assures us that we will be slavish miners in someone’s gold mines, but we can’t work both mines at the same time. “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?”

 

 

To combat our ignorance, we should not only read the newspaper but it is also perhaps especially time that we read the Bible without commentary.  Read it in giant swaths, in long passages, with no preconceived idea of what one wants to find there other than revelation and truth and a way – the Bible as not the only way – but a very good way indeed – to get into a real relationship with another Being that we call “God”. It also should be our way of getting into better relationships with other people and with our planet.

 

Those who want to stake a claim to living for and with and through Jesus, need to look at how He lived with the news of His time and place and world and how Jesus lived in relationship to God and God’s Holy Word. Jesus lived in the world, speaking up against unjustness and evil, coming to change sinners, not follow them;  and  Christ advised those who would claim to  follow Him to “go out there” and make “mini-Me’s” or disciples. Jesus said in John 12:46, “I have come to be a light in the world so that whosoever believes in me shall not live in darkness.” John 9:39: And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.” Matthew 10:34, 35, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.” And one of the very last recorded conversations of The Christ was with the Governmental Ruler of Rome, Pilate. Jesus’ idea of respecting the authority of that government was to confirm His own authority through the life He had lived as a servant to The Father: John 18:37, “Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice.”

 

If Christ is our king, then we must bear witness to His Truth. Period. Synopsis of Worldview in a nutshell. Truth. It is still “a thing” for some of us.

 

This is perhaps what is most tragic and mind-blowing about our calling things “Christly” or “Christian” which of course are not godly or good or like Christ at all.  This newish religion of ours that believes that “because I say I’m a Christian” I am, has become a permit to, as Paul warned us against, “become slaves to sin”. As someone once said, “I love to sin. God loves to forgive. What a wonderful arrangement.” As it turns out, it is only a good arrangement if you are in denial about reality. If you believe that you are rich enough or powerful enough to dig yourself out of consequences for your behavior, you are merely worshipping a newish incarnation of The Golden Calf of God’s chosen people. And of course, as rich and powerful people that is exactly what we have been doing. But in the process, we have lost sight of the gate of God’s narrow way. As those who want to claim God’s treasure with no work on their part have always found, if you are in the throngs of those who can easily go through the wide gate, then it is rather hard to make yourself go back to squeeze through the narrow door. Because of course there is nothing “newish” about wanting to be part of something with no cost to myself.  The Hebrews did it as well and didn’t find out their mistake until the Promised Land was shut to them. And as prophets and priests have always discovered too late, it is also what is tragic about thinking that because we do not speak the truth we are being kind or nice. Just like Aaron found out the hard way, while Moses was off talking with Yahweh on the mountain, we appease the crowd to our own soul’s loss. We who know the truth, have left a world adrift in a worldview that believes there is no knowable truth outside one’s own opinion. Romans warns us that this leads not to heavenly reward but our own misguided “depravity” of ignorance and lust and greed.

If I read carefully, I realize both from the newspaper and from the Bible that no one remains immune to judgment forever. There is a moral sensibleness to the universe, the Bible calls it righteousness. There is a need that cries out from the bowels of the earth that there is such a thing as good versus evil.  Jesus says that if we who have been given so much – so much education, so much access to God’s truth, so much possibility of wisdom – if we do not speak the truth, the very rocks from the mines we disembowel will cry out.  Our hearts should ache for those who do not heed the words of Isaiah and who therefore, “call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”  If we don’t rightly judge them, no matter what religious name they claim, we are joining them in perpetuating their lies, not “forgiving and loving” them. Our problem is in discerning what headlamp we will wear as we look for treasure in whom and what will we praise and our gold must be sought in the “why” of what we deem worthy. But this is the problem of the Golden Calf all over again. It is why the Bible uses “streets of gold” as a metaphor for how meaningless gold is in God’s kingdom. The crucible of this world is success, power, riches, and fame, but the crucible of God’s world is how we treat people and how we treat God. As God says in Isaiah, “I will make people more rare than fine gold, and mankind than the gold of Ophir”.  And as the Proverbs says God’s refining fire for us is how we live for Him: “The crucible is for silver and the furnace is for gold, but people are tested by their praise. Though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding them like grain with a pestle, you will not remove their folly from them.”

 

I must look at what I do and whom I seek to mirror. Who is on the throne of my life? Whom do I idolize? Do I praise the fool and his house of sandy beaches, or the wise man and his life built on The Rock of Christ? We must decide daily if we will resist the undertow of self-justifying evil and wrongs in ourselves and also in our leaders or if we will humbly but forthrightly walk in The Way revealed in what we claim as our Holy Revelations. If we should read our news objectively then we should read our Bibles subjectively.  Because God is never objective.  God is always subjective. He is after all, simply put, I AM. God is a tyrant when it comes to us. We are not given choices.  We are given the choice. We should realize that no matter what we call our nation, it too wants to be our tyrant.  Monarchies, Oligarchies, Communism, Capitalism, Socialism, Fascists – different names do not make for different realities. Our need to speak truth as God-followers has nothing to do with living in a “democracy” – it has to do with being truly human whatever our named regime. And being truly human means there are only two choices, only two masters, only two worlds – this kingdom, or God’s kingdom.

 

As I look out over my own treasure, my gold mine, my “land is my land”, how will I serve it? Will I be a slave to my riches, my things, my people, my life? Or will I be a slave to the created and true and light wielding God-image in them and me? How will I serve my family? How will I serve my drought-weary and polluted back yard?  How will I serve my irritating neighbors?  How will I be a slave to my bosses and students?  How will I be poor to the Homeless; powerless to those I have power over; meek to those I distain? How will I lay down my life in the mines of righteousness?  As to my nation and culture, Bob Dylan paraphrased St. Paul’s missive to the ancient Romans, “I’m gonna’ have to serve somebody?  Will it be the devil or will it be The Lord?”

 

We cannot serve two masters. If we do not speak for Christ now, we cannot anticipate His speaking one day for us. Proverbs 11:4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, But righteousness delivers from death. We are not on individual quests to save ourselves — For God created the whole world and God so loved the whole world. In God’s upside kingdom, I only find my personal salvation when I give up living for it. Jesus said to take up a cross, not a pickaxe and follow Him.  “For where your treasure is there your heart will be also. For what does it profit if I gain the world, but in the process, lose my soul?”

 

By this we know the love that is the gold we are all digging to find – if Christ laid down His life for us, then we too must lay down our lives for our fellow humans. I John 3:16

 

As I begin another year, I am going to meditate on all that the newspaper reveals as counter-claims on my soul and meditate on the Biblically inspired claims that God puts on my soul. In the spirit of a New Year Resolution: I am Resolved.

I am Resolved

by Palmer Hartsough (1896)

  1. I am resolved no longer to linger,
    Charmed by the world’s delight,
    Things that are higher, things that are nobler,
    These have allured my sight.

    • Refrain:
      I will hasten to Him,
      Hasten so glad and free;
      Jesus, greatest, highest,
      I will come to Thee.
  2. I am resolved to go to the Savior,
    Leaving my sin and strife;
    He is the true One, He is the just One,
    He hath the words of life.
  3. I am resolved to follow the Savior,
    Faithful and true each day;
    Heed what He sayeth, do what He willeth,
    He is the living Way.
  4. I am resolved to enter the kingdom,
    Leaving the paths of sin;
    Friends may oppose me, foes may beset me,
    Still will I enter in.
  5. I am resolved, and who will go with me?
    Come, friends, without delay;
    Taught by the Bible, led by the Spirit,
    We’ll walk the heav’nly way.

How can I cultivate the “heav’nly way” on earth as it is in God’s heavenly realm?  How can I live out with heart and mind, a life of servitude, slavery, and servanthood in my daily steps on this earth?  Who ya’ gonna serve? Lie-Buster? Jesus: “For I am the Lie-Buster; For I am the Truth, the Light, and The Way.”

By a true prophet and artist in the words of JRR Tolkien:

“You cannot pass. I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udun. Go back to the shadow! You cannot pass.”

–Gandalf to Balrog on Bridge of Khazad-dum

 

“‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo. ‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.'”

In closing, by true artists and prophets,  here is a video translation of our daily dilemma– with Etta James singing the prophetic words of Bob Dylan:

 

 

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If you want some verses to start out the day — based on the news out of America on January 2, 2018: Following are some of the verses that relate to my newspaper’s stories this morning. Dig in.

 

On the decimation of protections for the earth:
Deuteronomy 22:6-7  “If you come across a bird’s nest in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. You shall let the mother go, but the young you may take for yourself, that it may go well with you, and that you may live long.”

 

Jeremiah 2:7 And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination.

Ezekiel 34:18 Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet?

Jeremiah 12:4 How long will the land mourn and the grass of every field wither? For the evil of those who dwell in it the beasts and the birds are swept away, because they said, “He will not see our latter end.”

1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.

Numbers 35:33 You shall not pollute the land in which you live, for blood pollutes the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of the one who shed it.

Leviticus 25:23 The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine. For you are strangers and sojourners with me.

 

On the decimation of protection for the elderly:

 

Leviticus 19:32 “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.

Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

Psalm 71:9 Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.

 

Isaiah 1:17Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

 

On the decimation of care for the least of these:

 

Matthew 25:35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,

 

1 John 3:17-18 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Proverbs 14:31 Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.

Deuteronomy 15:10-11

You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’

 

We must not claim to know The Christ, if we do not take seriously what He said:

 

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, …  (Matthew 25: 31-46)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017 Christmas Letter – Remembering

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Christmas 2017

 

Last night, I revealed to the family the Christmas card for this year.  I was pretty proud since I airdropped, loaded, and sent it to Costco all by myself, with no help from any of my technically advanced offspring.  Raoul looked at it, and with a Santa –esque twinkle in his eye, said to me, “Well, Caito, I see you have eliminated the “Christian” out of your favorite phrase, and now are going for just a “Judeo” worldview.  He was referring to my ubiquitous use of the term, “Judeo-Christian” and to the fact that the card stock I chose has the Star of David on it. I had to admit to him, that I hesitated to choose it, but the blue looked so much better with our Hawaii trip photos.  To be honest, I have in fact struggled with calling myself “Christian”. I joked with a friend of mine, that we need a new name, so I suggested “Messianic Gentile”.  It has a ring to it.  I have deeply struggled with what has happened to Christianity and perhaps at Christmas time especially.  I put myself at the top of the naughty list for folks who have lost the meaning of what it means to follow Christ. It has been a delight, a joy, and a terrifying responsibility to teach Bible to my Sixth Graders at Pasadena Christian School. They love God, are fascinated by the story of Jesus, and their hearts are so open to truth and love.  My students were surprised to learn that much of our Christmas tradition is borrowed and stolen from Pagan traditions that had nothing to do with Christianity. Much of it has always been about branding and marketing. The Star of David has an interesting history too.  It had little to do with the ancient Hebrews and wasn’t an official sign of Judaism until the 19th century.  Yet, as I meditated on Christmas and Stars and Judeo-Christianity this year, I realized that for me, the one thing they all have gloriously and wondrously in common is that they all tell stories and treasure memories—Memories of “my people” and my God. Another constant joke about me is my claim of “my people” but this too is what my belief system is all about. Christ came to earth for all God’s people groups but He chose The Star of David from a people group with a long checkered history, a long memory for grievances, and a short memory for God’s grace and miraculous, creative salvation stories – just like my people today. Just like me.

 

Gram Cook’s annual Christmas money went this year to the Tawels seeing “A Christmas Carol”.  The lines that struck me this year were the ones Bob Cratchit speaks in a dialogue with his family after Tiny Tim “dies” in Scrooge’s dream.

“It’s just as likely as not,” said Bob, “one of these days; though there’s plenty of time for that, my dear. But however and whenever we part from one another, I am sure we shall none of us forget poor Tiny Tim—shall we—or this first parting that there was among us?”

“Never, father!” cried they all.

“And I know,” said Bob, “I know, my dears, that when we recollect how patient and how mild he was; although he was a little, little child; we shall not quarrel easily among ourselves, and forget poor Tiny Tim in doing it.”

“No, never, father!” they all cried again.

Charles Dickens encourages us to remember the good things about others, but we too often wear a groove keeping the memories of sad or bad things as well. Adult children enjoy helping a parent remember all the mistakes a parent made while raising them, especially the things that embarrassed them or you. As a parent, I realize that this is children’s way of processing their own adulthood and their new roles as “parents” or keepers of the world. They are now trying to lead, and, I hope that somehow, knowing that their own parents could make mistakes and they could years later castigate them and still experience a parent’s love, well then maybe those children will remember their own mistakes and those of others with more kindness and grace.

And of course, this is what is so important about this beloved worldview of mine – Judeo-Christianity is about remembering—the good, the bad and the ugly of mankind, and the eternal and never changing love, grace, forgiveness and perfect holiness of a God who chooses not to remember our mistakes but to always see them in the light of His Salvation Story. Christmas is the climax of that story and The Star of David is the protagonist. When we put all those ornaments on the tree, the ones with the kid’s little faces surrounded by green and red macaroni, we are saying that for us, Christmas is not so much about the beauty of the tree but the memories that it holds.  Just like The Star of David, our Christmas stories help us celebrate the Stars of our stories — our great ancestors and us – our people. We retell the stories, year after year.  Remember that VBS when we made those ornaments? Grandma Cook gave us that mini-van ornament and the Disney cruise ship after she treated us all to that cruise so many years ago. Grandpa Tawel took me to Fedco when Raoul and I were first married and bought me those little purple ornaments and the tiny bird who has long ago lost his matching birdy mate, as Grandpa lost his beloved mate, Esther. Raoul and I trim the tree, and remember the sadness of years ago, having to literally throw our little Glendale Christmas tree out the door, as we rushed off with our toddlers Justine and Clarissa to DC to be at Esty’s sick bedside.  We fondly remember our many friends, who became our California family – the Davis’ Christmas cookie parties, the year Raoul was traveling and Mike Bollenbacher helped me lug in the too tall Ikea “Christmas Tree that Ate Glendale”.  We remember the time Verity got surprised with her very own guinea pig, that she named “Kitty” because that is what she really wanted.  We remember the time that the kids performed the play “Wombat Divine” –oh, wait, that was just last year. I remember each year of preparing for Christmas, getting the house in some kind of order, wrapping gifts late into the night and sneaking down to hide them under the tree for Christmas morning. The times Gordon, excited for Christmas morning’s reveal, woke up at 4:00 am – He who now must be rousted from bed before lunch is served.

I tell the same stories over and over and over again. Every year, we read the nativity story with illustrations by Julie Vivas.  We read “Wombat Divine”.  I tell the story about the time….and then that time…. Oh, and remember when… And every year, the family’s eyes grow dim not with tears and memories, but with minds numbed by Mom’s retelling AGAIN. Because of course they need to focus on the present.  But they can blame my determined  retelling of stories on the Judeo part of me, because the Jewish Scriptures are full of God’s insistence that we remember. God wants us to tell our stories of His provision and love and grace and forgiveness and care over and over and over again. As a matter of fact, God commands that we do so if we want to stay in right relationship to Him and our fellow human travelers. In this way of remembering, we live deeply into the day.

You know I once wanted to be a famous acting star, but I thank God that He wrested that dream from me.  I never became a Superstar but I got to give birth to four Superstars: Justine, Clarissa, Verity and Gordon, and I live with a Super Nova, Raoul. This year for the first time in my teaching career here in LaLa Land, I actually have a student whose father is a movie star. But you know what I love about this family – they are superstars for Jesus.  They love the Lord and are raising a lovely young child to love the Lord. My own Super-Duper Stars are about a million times more amazing than I could have ever been and they have given me not just good memories, but hope for the futures both of them and of the world. I am grateful that I know a God who knows the best story line for our lives, if we keep following The Star of David, The Bright Morning Star of the Christ.

So in this present Christmas story of ours, as Justine takes work calls from North Carolina where she lives and works her way up the corporate ladder; and Clarissa takes critical work calls from Holly Street investors and financial consultants; and Gordon decides what classes to take next semester to continue his stellar ascent up the collegiate academic ladder; and Verity chats with friends she is already missing as she prepares to graduate from UCLA this spring; and Raoul steps outside the party to talk with Mosaix customers –I sit back and soak in new stories to turn into next year’s memories, God willing.  I am overwhelmed with God’s love and provision for me.  I thought I wanted to be a famous star, but instead, God gave me these five stars, and all the family and friends who contributed to their lives and stories and to making them the amazing humans that I get to walk this planet with – for a time.

This is a season where we celebrate a God who finally decided He needed to contribute His own “DNA” to ours. This is a season when we remember when Jesus was a little tyke, just as I remember when my own thriving adult-children were small. But if it is a time when we remember Christ’s coming, it is also a time when we remember that He has promised to be with us always and to come again.  As I get older, I remember more rather than less about the births of my children, about their childhoods; but –Oh fraptious joy! Oh frimbous delight!  Each year these wonderful biological carriers of my memories, bring their present lives to live with Raoul and me for a time again.  And even more amazingly, Justine, Clarissa, Verity and Gordon bring to their parents their hopes and dreams for their futures.  They talk of their dreams, their plans, their ideas and we listen and sometimes long to be young again, but mostly we long for them to be happy, and fulfilled and to know the God who has remembered them and us through all these many years of His loving provision.

Rainer Maria Rilke wrote this poem about stars

Do you still remember: falling stars,
how they leapt slantwise through the sky
like horses over suddenly held-out hurdles
of our wishes—did we have so many?—
for stars, innumerable, leapt everywhere;
almost every gaze upward became
wedded to the swift hazard of their play,
and our heart felt like a single thing
beneath that vast disintegration of their brilliance—
and was whole, as if it would survive them!

Sometimes, as Rilke says in this poem, I don’t think I will survive the brilliant shooting stars of my children’s trajectories. Even the memories I have “innumerable, leapt everywhere” create a brilliance that pales only to the great delight I find in seeing my super stars now in their adulthood, “leap slantwise through the skies” of their achievements. They are creative, Gordon with his computer skills, Clarissa with her photography, Verity with her writing, Justine with her baking. They are caring and try to find important things to make the world a better place.  They are helpful and so giving to their parents, fulfilling that ancient command in so many sweet and generous ways.  They also keep us in line and prod us to do better. The tables have turned and they often teach or help us to grow and thrive.  But of course, Raoul and I will always have one thing they need – we are holders of their childhood memories.  We remember, just as our Savior’s parent did: “And Mary treasured up all these things; and she pondered them in her heart.”

The Christian tree and gifts, the Jewish star and dreidel, the stories and carols and decorations and games—these are all ways to celebrate our heritage, our history, our present, and our futures. The King whose birthday we choose to celebrate this time of year would not have known either St. Nicholas nor this symbol: ✡ We who tell the saving story of God, believe Jesus was The Star of David. Yeshua [Jesus] said, “I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright and morning star.” (Rev. 22:16)  We need to tell the story of God often, not just at Christmas, even if people’s eyes glaze over. We need to remember in order to live well our present lives and to keep hope alive for our children’s future ones.

 

I celebrate the season with a full heart of wonderful gifts from God – my family, friends, a home, good food, delightful students, health, and a history.  I remember in order to praise God, in order to redirect my faltering steps, in order to have hope and faith in dark times, in order to help others, and in order to know that Jesus did come to earth as living testament to God’s very own starring role in humanity’s story. It is, after all, His-story.  And just as my children come back to be with us as Christmas each year, the Babe, who became a man who taught us our God-history lessons, who discipled us in the right way of living and loving, who showed us The Father, who died to save us from our sins, and who was resurrected to show us the way to an eternal life – that Son of God has promised, that He too will not just be someone we remember as a good man but that He will come again to be The Morning Star and King of the World forever.

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:3)

 

Following The Star,

 

Jane, Raoul, Justine, Verity, Clarissa, and Gordon

 

 

 

 

I Love You, Mary, Because You Were Human A Christmas Poem by Jane Tawel

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I Love You, Mary, Because You Were Human

By Jane Tawel

December 17, 2017

 

 

I love you, Mary, because you were human

Not a queen, not a god, not a saint

You lived as a woman for all of your life

With all that we know as Sin’s taint

 

You worked for your family

You watched your sons grow

You worried and grumbled and cried

You doubted the God whom you had once nursed

And you fell away from Christ’s side

 

You thought He was crazy

Your other sons did too

You hoped Jesus would come back home

You cried for His dangers

You begged God for mercy

Your mother’s heart weathered Christ’s storm

 

And yet, you were one

Of The Lord’s greatest servants

You put parent’s power aside

You stopped being mother

And your Son was your brother

As you watched your womb’s Son of God die

 

If Mary were perfect

At a time that held women

As little more than life’s scraps

Then how could I, a woman today

Ever hope to climb out of sin’s trap?

 

Because you were human

Oh, Mary, my sister

Then what you did was more rare

When you met the Angel

And agreed God could use you

Giving up all your dreams for a prayer

 

 

Oh, Mary, my sister, I love you because

You are like all the women I know

Who give God their own dreams

At risk of life’s thrown stones

And grant Christ our own frail womb-homes

 

I love you, Mary, because you were human

Not a queen, not a god, but a girl

Who longed for a Savior

As do all we, Women

Who bare children we pray change the world

 

I love you, Mary because you were human

I look forward to talking someday

You can tell me your story, I’ve read in the Bible

And I’ll share my own walk on The Way

We’ll introduce our own children

And be praised not for titles

But for being good mothers, and being disciples

 

And then we’ll both kneel

To the King that you birthed

And the God-man who came

To save all the earth

And yes, all the world will love you, dear Mary

You, who were like every girl who exists

Who says to God, “yes”

And therefore, is blessed

To grant God a womb-home for Christ

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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