Monday, September 29, 2014

He. Is. Here.

The words to a little chorus we learned a few years ago are running through my head:

He is here, Hallelujah!
 He is here, Amen!
He is here, holy holy;
 I will bless His name again...
He is here, listen closely,
 Hear Him calling out your name; 
He is here; you can touch Him!
 You will never be the same.  - Kirk Talley (c) 2006

He is here. Such simple little words, but meditate on them with me for a few minutes.

He is here when we are all together worshiping. There's nothing like corporate worship to lift Him up and let us realize the truth of His presence together. I'm not talking about just singing songs; I'm talking about when hearts (not just hands or voices) are lifted in praise and gratitude and God seems to bend low to catch every word, every whisper, every tear shed. For some a mountaintop, for others a valley of weeping, He hears each heart's cry and He. Is. Here.

He is here when it's dark, when we can't see anything that is coming, when we feel at the mercy of our circumstances, and when sadness and discouragement roll over us like ocean billows. When there doesn't seem to be any hope, when there doesn't seem to be any answer, He. Is. Here. 

He is here when we think we have it covered. He is the One holding us, keeping us safe, even if we don't realize it and think that it's all our doing. He doesn't have anything to prove; He's already got it covered (He did that at the Cross) and the sooner we understand that, the sooner we will relax and not be so obsessed with getting it right. He. Is. Here.

Photo "Eagle In Flight" provided by
Jeff Ratcliff at
www.freedigitalphotos.net
He is here when we fail, when we fall. And sooner or later we will; we are human. He is still here, no matter what! His love will come up underneath us like a father eagle swoops down and catches a falling eaglet, too little to fly, on His back. He. Is. Here.

He is here when nobody else is. We long for the support of our loved ones, but the uncomfortable truth is that depending on other humans is a risky thing. Eventually, there comes a time when nobody else is in our corner. We can be alone. He. Is. Here. 

He is here when we call out to Him. Any time, anywhere, for any reason, He is delighted when we turn to Him, ask His guidance, include Him in our every day. He is waiting. Always. He. Is. Here.

He is here when we don't feel worthy. He believes in us, sees us as perfect in His sight, lifts us up and puts His stamp of approval on us. Because of the once-for-all sacrifice He made, He is enough for us when we feel "less than" - because He is "more than." And He makes us "more than" - because He. Is. Here.

He is here when we wonder where He's gone. Probably the most annoying thing about being human is that we can't see what's ahead, and we don't know what He has in store for us. Our inability to see beyond "what is" can make us uncomfortable with waiting until He opens doors for us. We spend a lot of time trying to force the lock. All the while He is preparing the way ahead of us. At such times, we can trust His love for us, trust His desire to grow inside of us what is best for us. Even when we can't figure Him out, He. Is. Here. 

He is here when we are afraid. Life can be overwhelming at times. Faced with realities like sickness, danger, even the cruelty of others, we can rely on His faithful presence. We can count on Him to be there to listen, to love, to help. We can lean on Him. He has already carried us when He carried the weight of the world on His back. He has defeated sin, death and the grave. He is the Master of the Universe. And He. Is. Here.

He is here when we step outside our comfort zones. He births the desire for something more in us, opens the door of opportunity for us and when we get ready to step through, knees can knock together! We can trust that if He brought us here, He will stay with us even if whatever it is, is hard. He can see the end from the beginning. He's got this. He's right in the middle of our situation, walking it with us, believing in us, and cheering us on. He. Is. Here.

His presence is everywhere. Like air, like life's blood, He is here. 

Listen closely; He listens to you.
Hear Him calling out your name; He's been doing it for a long time.
He is here, close as the breath you breathe.
You can touch Him; He's given His all for you; He loves you.
You will never be the same.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Un-punishable

Through the cross, Jesus introduced something into the world that we still don’t understand. He has made each and every one of us un-punishable. We are un-punishable.
~Danny Silk, Culture of Honor, p.80

Someone shared the above quote on Facebook today.

What Mr. Silk was talking about was grace. Pure and simple, grace goes beyond the acronym, "God's Riches At Christ's Expense" that we learned in Sunday school. 

I have searched for words to describe this concept, and when I saw the word "un-punishable" ... it reminded me of an experience we had in 1996, nearly 20 years ago (now THAT's hard to believe. It still feels a LOT more recent than that.) 

We went bankrupt. We'd made an effort in running a business and the debts piled up so much that we were six figures in debt (not counting the mortgage) and with no way out. 

For months, we robbed Peter to pay Paul - paid one credit card off with the other - or with a line of credit that kept growing more and more. When we borrowed money from a finance company for the second time in three months to buy groceries, we knew we couldn't dig ourselves out. 

It was time to say quit. 

Graphic "Tree Debt" courtesy
of jesadaphorn at
www.freedigitalphotos.net
The decision wasn't an easy one; it was wrenching, made even more so by the reactions of fellow-Christians into whose theology bankruptcy didn't fit. 

We felt alone, felt like failures professionally and personally, and felt completely, utterly overwhelmed. Trite, pat answers from well-meaning people just made things worse. This wasn't some financial crunch where there wasn't enough month at the end of the money; it was way beyond that. We'd already refinanced the house once, so selling wasn't an option. We were completely stuck. There was no way out.

So on the advice of the office of the Orderly Payment of Debt (yes, we tried going to them first and they knew that it was too much for us) we both declared personal bankruptcy. If only one of us did, the creditors would go after the other of us. So, we did it together. 

On September 30, 1996, we sat in front of a bankruptcy trustee. The definition of "trustee" is "a person whom someone trusts." I can tell you that we had major misgivings and that the trust we placed in this man was done out of desperation, nothing more. There was no way we could pay our debts. None. And this guy, with one simple signature, could fix that. 

We did everything that was required by law. We outlined every debt. We wrote down all our monthly expenses. Every. Single. One. He worked out a monthly budget with us as if the debt (excluding the mortgage, we would still have to pay that) did not exist.

And then he got us to sign some papers. And when he signed beneath them, he turned to us and said words I will never forget: 

"Your debt is gone. It has been written off, wiped clean. From this moment onward, under Canadian law, your creditors do not have the right to ever again demand payment from you for the debts that are on this paper. If they ever do, you send them to me.

In spite of the stigma we felt for having to do this, it was like a great 10-ton weight dropped off our backs. The debt that was crushing us was absolutely and in every way, un-punishable. 

It was gone. And the trustee's job was to protect us from the creditors. 

That is the most precise worldly picture of divine grace that I could describe to you. There is NO condemnation. NONE. 

Except with Jesus, He wrote off ALL the debt. Every last sin, for every last second of the whole of our lives, past, present and future. The whole shooting match! And even if we mess up, even if we do it wrong, He is there to protect us from the attacks of the enemy, from the "you're not doing enough" demands for payment - accusations that somehow what Jesus did wasn't sufficient to pay our way and that it is somehow our responsibility to help Him out. 

NO. 

His grace is enough. He has made us un-punishable. Forever. 

Forever.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Trust-based living

Yesterday hubby and I went to see my mom and brother in a neighboring province. As we got ready to leave their house, I noticed a cat sitting on the door-step, about two feet away from the door, meowing. The cold wind was blowing its long fur, but it kept its distance from the door. "Who is this?" I asked my mom. 

"Oh that's the neighbor's cat." She sighed. "They don't feed her, so she comes here about once a day for her breakfast. Sometimes she comes at suppertime too. But," she warned, "don't try to get close. She's wild and she'll bite. Sunk her teeth into my hand when I tried to touch her." 

As I opened the door, the cat shrank back away from me. It crouched, laid its ears back, and then held its ground. I could tell this animal was as close to feral as I've ever seen - there was a total lack of trust in its eyes. I didn't need to use much imagination to figure out how it got that way.

I was familiar with the family my mom spoke about. All my childhood, they'd abused their animals through ignorance, neglect, and physical violence, and I was never permitted to intervene. The attitude of the day was that animals were nothing but property and that it wasn't my place to tell another person how to treat his or her property. Little if anything bothered me as much as someone mistreating a creature that couldn't defend itself, and that hasn't changed. I bristled, and was sputtering indignant, unintelligible syllables as I walked down the stairs and toward our vehicle. Once inside, I ranted to my husband. He listened. He agreed. He sympathized. 

Our cat, Loki - at 10 months
And when we got home, our cat ran to meet us at the door. He purred, and rubbed against our legs, curling his tail around them as he showed his delight in our presence. "Love and kindness," I thought, "produces trust. And love in return." 

The contrast between the two cats' reactions was like night and day. The cat on Mom's doorstep didn't trust anyone - had learned not to trust anyone, because it had grown up in a loveless atmosphere. The one who greeted us at our door knew love. He knew gentleness and tenderness. And he loved - and trusted.

I couldn't help thinking how there are believers in Christendom who believe that God is a big bully with a rule-book. Even if they SAY that they believe He is love, they talk about Him withholding blessings, or other such cause-and-effect legalistic stuff. They truly believe that it is their responsibility to "maintain" what God has already given so freely, by "producing fruit" (as if any of it was up to them.) 

I used to be in that camp ... and the more I grow to know and be known by Jesus, the more I realize that God is not like those neighbors who provide a cold, drafty barn and little else (and certainly not affection or tenderness!) for what are supposed to be "companion" animals. He's full of joy and delight just because we are His children. He loves us individually (isn't that the meaning of "whosoever"?) and gives us all things - starting with full and free forgiveness through His grace, power for living day-to-day through His grace, unconditional love and acceptance past, present and future, and oh yes, did I mention His grace??? 

We don't need to do God's job for Him. We don't have to coerce people into following the rules. We can let God the Holy Spirit do what He does best, and we just enjoy His love and revel in His grace. 

Trusting Him is possible only when we believe that God is for us. Listen to the words of Paul, "If God be for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but freely delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8) 

That's true living. That's an exciting adventure! This kind of living is not based on whether we follow a rule-book or check off our little daily tick-boxes of 'religious stuff I gotta do today to be blessed by God.' Let's be free from that kind of formula-based living and move to a lifestyle that is based on trusting His heart for us - His heart of love. For you. For me. For Aunt Sue. For Uncle Robert. For those neighbors who need Him so desperately. That is trust-based living. That's living by faith..

That's living.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

SON shine

"Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift comes from above, from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow [cast by His] turning (as in an eclipse)." James 1: 17 (Amplified)

I'm often heard saying (especially on a sunny day), "I'm SO solar-powered." What I mean is that the feeling of the sunshine beaming down on me does something that touches a peace-o-meter in me. It's a reminder that life can be good, that things can go right, and that there is joy in the little things. 

I said that earlier today (obviously because it is - or was - a sunny day!) and someone asked if I also meant that I was powered by the SON. I laughed - because I am - although that's not how I meant it. But the comment got me to thinking about how everything I am, everything I have comes from Him. 

I even looked up some information on the Internet about solar power because I wanted to learn more about how it works, just for curiosity's sake. And I found out something rather interesting about solar power. The author of one science site said that every form of energy that we use comes from the sun. Every. single. one. The sun makes things grow - the process of photosynthesis (plants making their own food out of sunlight) stores energy in their cells - which can be released later on (for example, by burning wood). Of course the long-term - or second-hand - release of the sun's energy comes from previously living things that have been under pressure for many thousands of years - hence, coal, oil, and natural gas.) And finally, the sun evaporates water, which falls down from the sky and we collect that water behind dams and use the energy from it to make electricity.

And then there's the usual way we think of solar energy - harnessing the radiation from the sun to charge batteries for use in whatever we decide - from calculators to (eventually) cars! 

The thought that struck me was that everything ... not just fuel ... could be traced back to the sun. As a matter of fact, if the sun were suddenly to disappear, all life on earth would cease in a matter of minutes. Yet we blithely go on our way and rarely even think about how much we depend on that warmth and that light every moment of every day. 

Photo "Earth And Sunset" courtesy
of Idea go at
www.freedigitalphotos.net
We don't have to worry whether we "have the power of the sun" to use. It's there; it's all around us! We just walk in it. There's nothing complicated about it, at least not in the everyday. We don't think about the sun when we turn on a light switch - we just use it. It's there. We complain about the rain, but the sun is still there, warming and giving life and light to Earth.

Just so, when the SON has set us free, He takes up residence in the center of our being. Our whole world revolves around Him, whether we are aware of it all the time or not! His resources are ours to use; they are at our fingertips. Because of His grace and forgiveness, we are free to live, to love, to enjoy our lives, to reach out to those who need help - all because He is shining in us. Without that, we would be living in death ... period. There is nothing that we can boast about in what He has done for and in us. Every good gift and every perfect gift comes from Him. Including salvation. Including the faith to believe in what He has already provided. Including the mercy and wisdom He shows equally in whatever He allows to come into our lives. And so much more. Every moment of every day, the Son-beams come down. His grace and forgiveness are all around us. There is no eclipse. There is no shadow. There is only Him.

He is the source. 
He is the centre. 
He is everything.

Monday, September 15, 2014

SO shine

There is a quote that is usually ascribed to St. Francis of Assisi - "Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words." 

According to scholars, he never actually said it. However, the sentiment is valid. "Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven." (Matt. 5:15-16)

These are the words of Jesus, and often they are used to justify the dubious practice of "witnessing." All I will say about this practice is that the word "witness" in the New Testament is always used as a NOUN and never as a VERB. In other words, a PERSON can BE a witness to something that he or she has seen. And all that person does (and only when asked) is describe what he or she saw. 

But other than that, I'm not going there today. Today I am meditating about the actual words Jesus spoke, especially in verse 16 of Matthew 5. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven." 

LET it shine. Don't MAKE it shine. There is nothing that you can do to MAKE your light shine; it will do so, whether it is under that bushel or not!! Putting it under a bushel - as Jesus implied - just defeats the whole purpose of having a lit candle in the first place. (The bushel basket will let in air; the candle will not go out. But why would you bother covering it up?)  The power of the Light is not yours anyway; it is HIS. It is His light inside of you - and without that Light there would be darkness. Can you comprehend how great that darkness would be, were He not within to brighten your life? Think ... think hard ... about how He reached into your darkness and lit your powerless candle with His unquenchable flame. Can you not see the magnitude of that? 


Let YOUR light shine. It will do no good to tell a story you have not experienced. It will do you no good to rest on the laurels of your parents, or your pastor, or your children. God is a personal God; He desires relationship with us one-on-one. If it is not personal, it is not real to you - then you've not "gotten" it. 

Photo "Candle" courtesy of
phanlop88 at
www.freedigitalphotos.net
And finally, my key point. Let your light SO shine. 

Two meanings come from this little word "so." The first is "In the same way." Jesus is saying that we need to take off the restraints, the bushels in our lives, and give our faith in Him the place of honour it deserves - on a candlestick. This doesn't mean that we have to get out there and pound the pavement with gospel tracts and such. Far from it!! He's just been talking about being real - LETTING our light shine. Christian catch phrases and holy-isms put the bushel back on ... and the world can't see the real Light inside. It's there, but it's all crudded up and covered over with a bunch of religious talk and (let's admit it) guilt trips and fearmongering. How many people have been turned off by that! No, Jesus was talking about removing the barriers to people seeing the real us - the us that we are with Him, and without all the trappings and hangups. 

If we are happy, let's be happy with Jesus! if we are sad, let's be sad ... with Jesus by our side! If we are afraid, there is no shame in it; let's remember Jesus is with us and trust Him! 

And secondly, there is another meaning to that little word, "so." It also means "SO MUCH." There is nothing that we can do to make the flame bigger in our lives; God is the one who put it there. It in reality is a blazing inferno of His love for us! Might I suggest that part of "letting" our light shine is by being affected by the flame, by being consumed by His love for us. 

If we are living holy lives out of terror that He will be displeased, citing "Be holy, for I am holy," (1 Pet. 1:16) then we have totally missed the point!!  The point is that because He lives within us, because He has loved us and loves us now and into eternity with so great a love that He would give His only Son to make us His treasure (c.f. 1 John 3:1), that love moves us to rejoice in such gratitude that we CAN'T HELP but live that pure life, the candle WILL burn bright and clear. It will happen automatically!  

Using another analogy that Jesus used in John 15, that of the vine and the branches, we don't strain and grunt and groan trying to make fruit happen in our lives (we'll talk about what that fruit is another time). We just enjoy the Vine. We gain our nutrients from Him, let our life revolve around Him. Not in some creepy way that leaves people scratching their heads and saying, "What in the world is that person talking about...?" but in a way that realizes how deeply He loves us and just loves Him back. We won't need to concern ourselves with whether "they" are getting the message. They will get it. And they'll ask us about it. They'll want to know. If it's real, they'll want to know.

Plain and simple - back to the candle analogy - the more we realize how deep His love is for us personally, the more our "SO" will "GROW." We need not worry about overestimating His love and care for us. There is no way that can happen; "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared..." (1 Cor. 2:9). 

He LOVES us. He saves 'to the uttermost' (Heb 7:25). 

That'll fuel your fire. SO shine!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Reinventing the Wheel

Today before church, a dear brother in the Lord hugged me and said (imitating Louis Armstrong's raspy voice) in my ear, "Ain't nobody love me like my Jesus love me." 

My heart leaped. That's what I've been meditating on for the past month: the love, mercy, grace and forgiveness of God that is mine through Jesus. I've been mulling over in my heart the fact that because of Jesus and His great sacrifice for me and for you and for every person that has lived or ever will live, and through the faith that He gave to believe in that sacrifice as my only way to a relationship with God, ALL of my sins - past, present and future - for all time, are ALREADY forgiven. That He sees me as pure and clean before Him because of what Jesus has already done! That the power of sin was broken on that cross, and the power of death was broken in that tomb. That I don't have to live by a set of restrictions and rules, but just gaze fully on Him, be enthralled with Him, and He will live His life out through me automatically! 

I have been noticing, therefore, that a lot of what we say in the church is a message for those who are NOT believers. The nouns and adjectives we use : sinners, wholly depraved, unclean, impure, need to be cleansed, need to repent and turn to God... all pertain to the unregenerate heart. 

Unregenerate. Not made alive. Pre-salvation. 

The problem is, as Christians living in an unregenerate world, we still feel the weight of sin plaguing us, we still feel unworthy, and somehow it transfers onto us. We get the idea that "we're in the Light now so we had better mind our p's and q's." Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Paul called this kind of "Jesus-and" thinking "falling from grace." (See Galatians 5:4 - "Christ has become of no use to you, you who are seeking to be justified by the law; you have fallen from grace.") 

It's like trying to reinvent the wheel. (Or like trying to build a brand new car from the raw materials of iron ore and sand to make the glass in the windows .... when there is a perfectly good, functioning car in the driveway!) Jesus IS the wheel, beloved. The work has already been done!! He said, "It is finished!" and it was so. There is nothing any less complicated than that. 

Photo "Wedding Day Thoughts" by
Timeless Photography at
www.freedigitalphotos.net
The enemy has deceived the church for so long, bound her up, and made her doubt her position in Jesus Christ. He's driven it home with suggesting (sometimes successfully) unbiblical practices like self-flagellation (that's when people used to whip themselves to purge their own sins or do penance.) Now before you get all superior and tell me that we don't do that anymore, I say YES WE DO. We beat ourselves up all the time!! And the only one rubbing his hands in glee at all this is the devil. He's deceived us ... and this is how: he's warped the glorious truth of the Good News into something about duty and obligation and guilt. It was never intended to be so, dear sisters and brothers. It was meant to be about love and forgiveness and grace ... about gratitude and worship and freedom

He's twisted the amazing grace of God into something that must be accessed every time a Christian feels "far from God." He's hoodwinked us into believing that if we don't "feel" right with Him, then it must be us who moved and we need to ASK His forgiveness, some would say even to BEG for it. The truth is that He's already forgiven us, and has declared us as righteous as God!! ("He has made Him (who knew no sin) to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." - 2 Cor. 5:21). We who belong to Jesus are clothed in righteousness, dressed in white like a bride. We are indeed "new creations." (vs. 17). Made anew. Regenerated.

The truth is that if we have accepted by faith Jesus' sacrifice for us as our only way for a relationship with God, (through the faith that God Himself provides for us and because God has taken the initiative and drawn us to Himself) God's grace is ALL AROUND us, permeating every part of our existence, as much a part of us as the air we breathe. 

What kind of relationship would a bride have with her groom if she were to say to him on their wedding day, "Just give me the rules and I'll follow them because I don't want you to ever leave me." NO! The groom loves his bride, loves her so deeply that he would die for her. (And Jesus DID, by the way!) In the face of that kind of love, there is no need for rules. Love begets love - fear is gone and freedom has taken its place. There is no desire to look elsewhere; there is no thought of abandonment. 

And that is our relationship with Jesus our bridegroom. Unconditional, passionate, lavish love - far more and far greater than we could ever imagine. 

Why would we go back to a rulebook when we have Him?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

First Things First

It's really neat when God shows me something new, something I never saw before or never realized the depth He's just revealed of something I already knew. At such times, I can tend to go on a "high" and talk of little else, and then start opening my mind to new possibilities. 

That's all well and good, but there is a danger. 

Put another way, there's a lot about the church that is used bath water. It's served its purpose in the past, perhaps gotten rid of some sludge that hung on from years gone by or previous eras. 

But in throwing it out, I need to take care and be sure not to throw out the Baby too. 

The Gospel is the Good News because and only because we are absolutely incapable of getting to Heaven on our own. If it were up to us, we would all - repeat ALL - go to The Other Place. God is holy, perfect and just, and the Bible tells us many times that nothing and no one sinful can be in His presence. In one place, it even says that God is angry with the wicked every day. Make no mistake, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. The wrath of God is ... unspeakably white-hot and will one day destroy the world. If there is no room in your or my theology for that, then we have forgotten just how hopeless was our case before Jesus came.

The whole reason why Jesus came and died was to be our wrath-taker. That's what the word "propitiation" means! (See 1 John 2:2 - "And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, but not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world.") 

The substitutionary death of Jesus for us is all throughout the Bible - Old and New Testaments. It's been there ever since before Genesis 3:15. (Don't believe me? God said to Adam in Genesis 2:17, "In the day you eat of [the tree of the knowledge of good and evil] you shall surely die.") It also is alluded to in Revelation 21:5 when there is a new heaven and a new earth without the stain of sin. 

There's a verse we kind of gloss over when we read the Old Testament prophecy about Jesus the suffering Servant (Isaiah 53). It's verse 10: "Yet, it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand." Basically this is saying that it was God's will to sacrifice Jesus, to pour out all His wrath on the only One whose soul would survive it. It talks about the purpose for all of that - the offering for sin was on our behalf because it made us part of His family again, "His seed."

It's the only way Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection makes sense. If not for us, if not for our total depravity and our total inability to meet His standard of perfection (which we lost in the Garden) then why did Jesus have to die? Again, check out Hebrews 12:2 ... "...looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising [its] shame, and who is now seated at the right hand [the place of favour] of God." 

Jesus didn't die for some esoteric principle. He died for PEOPLE. He died so that PEOPLE would have an opportunity to say YES to God through Him, to enter a family relationship. THIS was "the joy that was set before Him." 

Yes, God is loving, passionately so! Yes, His grace abounds to us - saving us to the uttermost! (Heb. 7:25) What glorious truths! 

But let us remember that this love and grace was only able to be released toward us through the death of Jesus for us. It was the only way, God's plan from the beginning. You want verses? There are many. Here is a sampling: "In Him we have redemption [we are bought back] through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us..." (Eph. 1:7,8) "But God commended (demonstrated) His love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8) "For Christ died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God..." (1 Pet. 3:18). "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." (1 Cor. 2:7-9)

Photo "Lightning" courtesy of
Suvro Datta at
www.freedigitalphotos.net
I included the last passage because it speaks of the fact that had the demonic forces and the rulers they controlled known what God's plan was, they would not have put the wheels in motion to get rid of Jesus. The last thing that they wanted was for their stronghold over mankind to be broken! 

So yes, the bathwater of the rituals and religious mindsets that have pervaded the church need to be washed away. But the Baby - !  

Let's never forget to keep the Main Thing the main thing. Jesus and His sacrificial death for us on the cross is the hingepin of the Gospel message. And it was necessary - SO necessary for us! Without it we would be lost, lost, LOST for all eternity! 

Can we grasp the horror of that? Can we understand even a fraction of what Gehenna is? Can we not remember how hopeless life without Jesus was? How futile? Can we begin to comprehend how deep the pit from which we were dug? the greatness of His wonderful grace that would do whatever it took to save us? even if it meant His own life? Can we realize the reality of what Jesus meant when He said, "You shall know the Truth [I am the way, the truth, and the life...] and the Truth shall make [not set, but completely create] you free.."?

Oh dear Church, "Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker!" (Ps. 95:6). Let us put First things first, and respond in joy and gratitude to the One who made this great, ultimate sacrifice to redeem us.