A husband and wife were involved in a petty argument, both of them unwilling to admit they might be in error. "I'll admit I'm wrong," the wife told her husband in a conciliatory attempt, "if you'll admit I'm right." He agreed and, like a gentleman, insisted she go first. "I'm wrong," she said. With a twinkle in his eye, he responded, "You're right!"
Comment & Forward>>>
If you find this 'E-Mail Newspaper' helpful, please forward it to friends and family who may not be receiving this free service from Howdy!
It is utterly fascinating how the mind works. Certain conversations, words, or lectures become etched in our minds—some recalled at strange moments in time, others brought to mind recurrently throughout life—countless others simply forgotten.
I still recall vividly a sermon that somehow managed to penetrate my stubborn teenage mind. A visiting pastor told a story about a young hippie under his care who became impassioned about his newly found faith. Wanting to spend his life serving the One who transformed it, the young man decided to become a preacher. Returning years later, a trained theologian still looking very much like the hippie that left, the young preacher came to visit his old pastor. And to the man now speaking at my church, the young preacher pronounced: "I've figured it all out. It's just Jesus." The pastor wasn't sure how to respond. This is what seminary had taught him? But a response was not necessary because the young man excitedly continued. "I've figured out why the landscapes of the world are dotted with church buildings, why the disciples and early Christians were willing to die for their faith. And I've figured out why my heart is so on fire for truth and my life so dramatically transformed by faith… It's just Jesus. It's just Jesus."
The pastor continued the sermon with his own reaction to that conversation, the pride he didn't want to notice as he dealt with the rookie in front of him attempting to sum up life and theology in three words, and the conclusion he made about that statement even years after that young man had led countless men and women to Christ—he was right. "It's just Jesus."
It seemed a bit simplistic. Even as a teenager I was aware of certain church politics, bickering committees, and other complicated matters of my own church—not to mention church history. And theologically, the statement almost seemed risky. Where were the creeds we were made to memorize, the doctrines that were important enough to divide churches? Still, the words of that message were engraved into my mind, returning sometimes annoyingly at rebellious intersections of life, other times almost refreshingly—a welcomed reminder in the mire of humanity. And years later, I realized that though I had changed in countless ways, the truth of his words, like the One he spoke of, had not.
You see, undeniably, the uniqueness of Christ is truly captivating, unchanging and life changing. But even more so, it is a truth that deserves to be reckoned with, a truth that commands a response. Scottish nobleman James Stewart in his book The Strong Name, speaks of Christ with words that, like Jesus himself, reach out both powerfully and personally:
He was the meekest and lowliest of all the sons of men, yet he spoke of coming on the clouds of heaven with the glory of God. He was so austere that evil spirits and demons cried out in terror at his coming yet He was so genial and winsome and approachable that the children loved to play with Him and the little ones nestled in His arms. No one was half so kind or compassionate to sinners yet no one ever spoke such red-hot scorching words about sin… His whole life was love. Yet on one occasion he demanded of the Pharisees how they ever expected to escape the damnation of hell… He saved others but at the last, Himself He did not save. There is nothing in history like the union of contrasts which confront us in the Gospels. The mystery of Jesus is the mystery of divine personality.
How do you respond to that divine personality? Those famous opening lines of the Gospel of John remind us of the unchanging permanence of Jesus Christ amidst our impermanent experiences, fleeting feelings, and ever-changing preferences. "In the beginning was the Word… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." (Footnote 1: John 1:1,14) It is Jesus who has touched all of history and yet seeks the one that has wandered off; it is Jesus who sees us as we truly are and yet offers us all that we need. Indeed, it's just Jesus. Jill Carattini
For all those born before 1945 ------------------------------------
Consider all the changes we have witnessed .....
We were born before television, before penicillin, before polio shots, before frozen foods, plastics, Xerox, contact lens, Frisbees and the PILL.
We were born before radar, credit cards, split atoms, laser beams, and ball point pens, and before panty hose, dishwashers, clothes dryers, electric blankets, air conditioners, drip-dry clothes and before man walked on the moon. We got married first and then lived together. How quaint can you be? In out time closets were for clothes, not coming out of. Bunnies were small rabbits and rabbits were not Volkswagens. Designer Jeans were scheming girls named Jean or Jeannie, and having a meaningful relationship meant getting along with your cousin.
We thought fast food was what you ate during Lent, and outer Space was the back of Loews Theatre. We were born before house-husbands, gay rights, computer dating, and dual careers. We never heard of FM radio, tape decks, electric typewriters, artificial hearts, word processors, or guys wearing ear rings. For us time sharing meant togetherness and hardware and software weren't even words.
In 1939 "made in Japan" meant junk and the term "making out" referred to how you did on your exam. Pizzas, MacDonalds and instant coffee were unheard of. We hit the scene when there were 5 and 10 cent stores, where you bought things for 5 and 10 cents. For a nickel you could ride on the street car, make a phone call, but a Pepsi or enough stamps to mail one letter or 2 post cards, and gas for your car (if you had one) was 11 cents a gallon.
In our day GRASS was mowed, COKE was a cold drink, and POT was something you cooked in. ROCK MUSIC was Grandma's lullaby and AIDS were helpers in the Principal's office. We were certainly not before the differences between the sexes was discovered, but were surely before the sex change. And, we were the last generation that was so dumb as to think you needed a husband to have a baby. No wonder we are so confused and there is such a generation gap to-day.
On April 8, 1966, the cover of Time magazine asked in bold black letters, "Is God Dead?" The lead story described the work of several theologians who no longer held to traditional concepts of God. They were alike in concluding that the God of our fathers had not survived the dawn of evolution and birth control.
The debate that followed wasn't as much about God as it was about us. We were in the middle of a turbulent decade. Our world was changing. An unpopular war in Vietnam was prompting bumper stickers that said, "Question Authority." Science and technology were improving our lives and making us less aware of our need for a supernatural God.
Other reasons to believe God is dead.
Challenges to the traditional view of God multiplied in the decades that followed. Not all were secular. Consumer fraud in religious broadcasting subjected the God of the Bible to public ridicule. Promises of "blessings for dollars" associated the name of Christ with "get rich quick" or "get thin fast" scams. Most recently, evidence of clergy abuse surfaced in the public media. With these reports came stories of victims, who, because of their abuse, no longer considered the God of the church a live option.
Those enlightened by science or disillusioned by religious leaders, however, are not the only ones talking about the death of God.
The Bible also talks about the death of God.
The God of the Bible was so deeply moved by the harm people do to one another that He actually died because of it. At a moment in time, the eternal God closed his eyes and stopped breathing. Under the weight of wrongs that had hurt those who were dear to Him, His body fell limp and lifeless. At that moment God was dead--not just in the perception of others, but in a real time and an actual place.
In making this claim, the Bible goes far beyond the cover and pages of Time magazine. Instead of asking, "Is God Dead?" the theology of the Bible leaves us with a mystery that is beyond human comprehension (1 Timothy 3:16). The second Person of a three-in-one God became a real man to die a real death for us (Philippians 2:5-12; John 1:1-3,14).
As this unparalleled drama unfolds, physical death was not our God's greatest sacrifice. Even before breathing his final breath on a Roman cross He endured the hellish darkness of spiritual separation from His Father in Heaven. As the skies darkened in the middle of the day, His anguished cry echoed through the halls of heaven and history: "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46).
According to the Bible, our Creator endured such an agonizing death not only to show us that He is alive, but that He loves us.
What the death of God tells us about ourselves.
Those of us who are inclined to think of ourselves as victims, rather than offenders, might conclude that Christ's death probably says more about the evil of others than about ourselves. We can always point to someone we think gave us an excuse to respond in an unloving way.
We get a different picture, however, when we look more closely into the suffering of Christ. If the Bible is right, He didn't just die for someone else's sins. He died for us (Romans 5:8; John 3:16). The pain He endured says volumes about the extreme nature of our own need (Romans 3:10-20).
Anyone who wants to be included in Christ's death must admit that, in God's eyes, our own wrongs rise to the level of those who violate federal law with capital offenses. The extent of His sacrifice says that without His intervention we would still be condemned lawbreakers, without hope waiting on "death row" for what the Bible calls "the second death" (Revelation 20:14; Romans 6:23).
How the death of God can help us find a new life.
The Scriptures offer no hope to those who refuse to believe Christ suffered for them. The Bible offers a whole new life, however, to those who believe that Christ lived and died as their substitute. Like persons who enter a witness protection program, those who find refuge in Christ take on a new identity. Their troubled past is hidden in Him (Colossians 3:3). They assume His name. They receive His Spirit, and become temples of the living God (1 Corinthians 3:16).
Those who allow the Spirit of Christ to be seen in them are an antidote to the opinion that "God is Dead." Their happiness and tears become a quiet showcase for the love, and joy, and peace of a God who is alive and reaching out to others through His people. No one does this perfectly. But few things are needed more than imperfect, troubled, grateful people who are growing in their willingness to let Christ live His life through them (Romans 8:11).
How can we come to that surrender? We can begin by watching Jesus our Lord move through the Garden of Gethsemane to the center page of human history. On the way He groans, "Nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done." Then in the middle of a howling mob, on a hill outside of the walls of Jerusalem, He willingly endured the eternal weight of our sin and death--for us.
Father in Heaven, we don't want to ever stop thanking you for the price you paid for us. Yet we are so easily distracted. Please help us this day to renew our gratitude for Your Son's death. Please use the surrender of this moment to let His life, and Yours, be seen in us today. Mart De Haan
Send this to four people and you will lose two pounds. Send this to all the people you know (or ever knew), and you will lose 10 pounds. If you delete this message, you will gain 10 pounds immediately. That's why I had to pass this on -- I didn't want to risk it.