Hope is Not Now – an essay by Jane Tawel

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Hope is Not for Now

By Jane Tawel

March 23, 2019

We mistake all kinds of things for things they are not, because the only gods we have left are ourselves. We mistake religion for humanism; we mistake God for personal best buddy; and we mistake faith for self-empowerment.  And then there is our mistaken idea that somehow we should and can “choose” hope in order to be happy. We mistake hope for happiness.

 

I started out this morning, thinking about the world, thinking about myself, thinking about God, just like I do most mornings.  And I thought about things I’ve been thinking and writing and reading lately and I said to myself, “Self, you need to write a happy, hopeful little story that will cheer people up.”  And I drank my first cup of coffee with that determination until I read the headlines, read some Facebook posts, read a couple blogs I follow, re-read part of my own blog, and read the Bible.  The headlines assured me that there was hope the bad guys would be caught and punished, but I’ve been alive long enough and know enough history to know that won’t really happen until Christ comes again. Dashed hopes for justice are a part of being human if you live long enough.  A Facebook post by a friend of a friend asked for prayer about his suicidal thoughts. In the past year, I have personally known three young people who committed suicide because they just couldn’t believe there was hope for them. A blogger I follow talked about her childhood and sad memories of a father she never knew. I have my own sad memories of my childhood which no matter how old I am, can be rubbed raw by the hopelessness of ever changing the past.  My own most recent blog is about the decay of morality, truth, and gospel in people who claim to know God. I love, love, love people who claim to know God and yet in my current place and time, I feel a sense of terror at what so many of them are basing their future hope on. And the Bible passage I read this morning, from what we erroneously call the “Old” Testament assured me that I am nothing more than dust, a passing breeze on the winds of Time. And I realize how often I have let ego and desire lead me into a false and unbiblical sense of hopefulness that I am someone whom God might want to hang out with forever.  So I let our old dogs out into the yard and made my second cup of coffee. I take light milk and honey in my coffee, please.

 

I sat down feeling helpless and hopeless. Helpless to help fellow travelers across the world who suffer for belief, suffer for their faith, or who just plain suffer because they feel too much of the dark deep things that humans feel.  I sat down hopeless that I can be part of any real change, see any real change, not just in others, but in myself.  I look back over a life that has included so many, many whole days of pointlessness, and so many days I was filled with and following sin. Sin – hurting others, selfish talk and action, greed and coveting and lying – those sins God hates most; stealing, murder in my heart, lust – all of it.  And I am at a loss to tell stories of hope, because in the light of the reality of who I am, who we are; in the light of Now is the darkness of the real state of being of Forever and Never.

 

So I just put down all my reading and I looked up. And out. The vestiges of last night’s dew clung to the morning cheery grass and the dew pounced in on my doggies’ paws and I laughed with them instead of scolding them.  A floor is easily mopped.  The sun trickled through the filmy clouds’ filter in the same rhythm as my coffee trickled into my carafe and both waited to warm me, body and soul. The pan was still soaking in the sink, with a few strings of cabbage and cheese clinging to the sides of the now still soapy sea of dish water. The strings of leftovers played like strings of violins on my heart, reminding me that last night my son was home to join us for dinner and I made one of his favorite dishes. Because I could. Because I have enough money, enough strength, my hands still function despite early arthritic throbs, and I have time.  And there it is. Time. And if you have time to look around, then you have time for hope.

 

Time is what we have had, have now (if we’re lucky) but biblically it is what we will no longer have in The Kingdom of God.  And Hope? Well, how does hope fit into a future with no future, so to speak? Hope is one of The Big Three, that the entire Word of God assures us will last outside of Time, will last forever, and is part of God’s True World. Hope is one of the things we were created to Be, not have.  As it says, “So now faith, hope, and love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  The Psalmist says “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.”  And in Hebrews, it says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  Isn’t it interesting that every single one of these verses uses the world “now”.  The reason hope is so tricky, so ephemeral, so fleeting, so ultimately unsatisfying is because of our imprisonment in Time, because hope can not exist, except fleetingly, in our constant “now-ness”. The proverb says that “hope deferred makes the heart sick” and it is so easy for others to impact our hopefulness and defer our quest for it.

 

Hope is not happiness, but rather hope is unhappiness with the ways things are now completely infused with the faith that the “Now” was never what God intended for us. Hope is the current tossed and turning belief that the “Then” will be something even more beautiful, lovely, true, and wholly wonderful than we can know or even imagine.  Hope is, as Dickinson writes, “the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the song without the words and never stops at all.”  And though we can’t always hear Hope’s tune and we can’t always sing hope’s song to those in need of it; we can take our Time and as Isaiah said, “wait for the Lord; who shall renew our little birds of hope and give them wings like eagles”.

 

Sometimes in the noisy outskirts of Los Angeles, I have a difficult time hearing the birds.  But it is usually, frankly, because I am too busy, too preoccupied, too stressed, or thinking behind me or ahead of me, to listen. It is also because I am primarily a visual learner, I find my strength and major happinesses in what I see, whether around me or on the page of a book.   The thing about hope though is that, as Paul wrote to the Romans, “Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

 

The three things that remain are faith, hope and love. Love needs me to see others as I see myself and use my hands to care for them.  Faith needs me to speak to my Heavenly Father and honor Him with my words, speaking of faith to others who need it.  And Hope? Hope needs me to listen.  Hope is the thing that listens – to the birds of the air, the children in the next room, the music of the spheres, and the ticking of the clocks.  Most of all, Hope needs me to listen for the still, small voice of the Creator Parent Who has hope for me yet; to listen to The One Who has hope for the world, and Who Is The Hope of the Universe.

 

And now I confess I will go make myself my third cup of dark coffee with milk and honey.  There was once a man named Moses who felt hopeless to change his sinful past in light of a Holy God.  Moses felt hopeless about his present life since he had few skills and no real community of friends and family.  And Moses’ hope for the future, well, what is the future for a nomad with no place, no people, no plan? And then old Moses started listening to God. And listening to the cries of God’s people.  And what Moses heard God say is, “I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey”.  Milk and honey. Flowing. When Moses asked God, “Who shall I tell people you are.” God said, tell them that I AM. I AM outside Time and therefore, outside hopelessness. I Am Hope. Hope flowing backwards through your past, today in your present, and hope flowing like a river of milk and honey toward your future.

 

And so I get up. And hear the little chirps outside my back door. And hear my husband breathing in the next room. And listen to the tap, tap, tap of my fingers on the keys. And listen to the scratching of ears by my old dogs. And hear the sound of my next deep breath. And I stand up in the Now of Uncertainty with the hope of one more delicious cup of coffee with milk and honey. And I pray with faith and love of The Lord, that my hope will be not in anything – not in me, not in them, not any other gods – but only in He Who is Hope. And I listen for the still small sound of I AM. And I accept my calling, not to seek hope, not to require hope, not to expect nor see hope, but to Be Hope. Because Hope is one of the things I am which will never die. Hope is not Now. Hope is Forever.

 

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Zombies in Your Head

Zombies In Your Head

By Jane Tawel

March 2, 2019

 

Thanks to my son, Gordon, I was introduced to a profoundly spiritually wrenching song called “Zombie”.  I try to listen to this song weekly at least. This song was written and originally performed  about twenty-five years ago by Dolores O’Riordan of “The Cranberries”. Dolores was raised a Catholic in Ireland and was a great admirer of Pope John Paul II.  O’Riordan bases her song’s haunting lyrics  largely on the religious violent catastrophes that have on and off engulfed Ireland since 1917.  The second version of this same song that  I listen to as often as possible is by “Bad Wolves”. It was supposed to have included Dolores’ vocals, but she left the world before it could be recorded. The version by Bad Wolves, opens up the specific context; the singer, Tommy Vext remarks, “(Dolores’) lyrics in that song still reflect social unrest, political turmoil and humanity’s persistence in modern struggles,” Vext told Rolling Stone. “The reasons might change, but there’s still collateral damage with people’s struggle for power and freedom.” Tommy Vext  is an American heavy metal singer who had to testify against his twin brother who, while high on drugs,  tried to murder Tommy.  Tommy speaks at 12-step groups and for relapse programs across the country.

 

The refrain of “Zombies” repeats, “in your head, in your head” followed by phrases like “they are fighting” or “they are dying”.  I try to listen to this song at least once a week as an important prophetic message.  It reminds me of what humans can become if they allow violence and the worship of money or power into their heads, hearts, religions, and politics. Humans all too easily become zombies.  Today when I listened to “Zombies”, I was suddenly struck by the irony that earlier today I had been listening to Selah’s version of “O, Sacred Head Now Wounded”.  The historical attribute of the words of this song, go to Bernard of Clairvoux, a medieval lyricist and poet. Bernard grew up in Burgundy and as a young nobleman, he was stinking rich and powerful.  He gave up all his wealth and power to follow The Christ and remains one of the most revered historical followers of God; revered by people across the spectrum from John Calvin to Martin Luther and is considered to be Dante’s last guide in The Divine Comedy.  The actual lyrics and music of this hymn were composed by a man named Paul Gerhardt, a Lutheran in Germany who lived in the mid-1600’s.  He spent a lifetime composing hymns and trying to convince his church going brethren to stop attacking and fighting with other over doctrinal issues within the church. He died  primarily of a broken heart and his last words are reputed to have been “us –no death has power to kill”.

 

I guess what I am thinking with a heavy heart and spirit today, is that perhaps, as that profoundly heady writer, C.S. Lewis (an agnostic when young who later became a leading voice in Christianity) wrote, we might make it “further in and further up” into Christ’s Kingdom on earth, if at the start of every church service, we listened first and prayerfully to the lyrics and music of the world’s prophets like the Doloreses and Tommys of this world. The prophets of the ages who sing the songs of change were and are all very flawed humans, but the words of their prophetic messages survive the ages because they are true Truth, whether we call them hymns or alternative music.

All of God’s Truth in fact presents to us an alternative music of sorts.  But singing the hard words of songs that demand change; singing boldly and feelingly on the shores of Israel or Babylon or Ireland or America as the ancient souls and prophets of all times must, can be dangerous; sometimes dangerous to others and sometimes dangerous to themselves. Bernard believed in the persecution of Muslims and Dolores most probably died of a drug induced suicide. Alternative music doesn’t make us perfect; truth doesn’t keep us from sin and brokenness; and prophets are human like every one else; but at least they are trying not to be zombies.

There’s a movie I have never seen, called “The Zombie Apocalypse”.  The title is enough for me because I think this is what the end of the world will look like to the angels: a bunch of zombies who still honestly think they are human, killing each other. The human race has, since the first murder by Cain of Abel, been stupidly and fearfully at war with ourselves. We are all at war with God. We long for peace but defeat ourselves with our mutually exclusive longing for power. Maybe if we began each day by personally accepting our vulnerability as humans, we could reverse the zombie process. Maybe if  before church or synagogue or mosque members try to  perform super-human Godlike, spiritual acts, they would face their own inner zombies, then just maybe we could truly begin to create a kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven — a kingdom of peace and love and joy and hope and real boys and girls created in the image of God. Perhaps if we realized that most days we are behaving like Zombies rather than the human beings created in a God’s image that we are called to be, maybe then we would really begin to understand how to worship the Savior who is the Protagonist of Paul’s lyrics in “O, Sacred Head” but who is also the Protagonist who dies in Dolores’ wars.   Maybe to be fully in Christ’s image,  we need to hold within our own heads and hearts the contrast and paradox between these two sets of lyrics.

 

“Zombie”
(originally by The Cranberries)

Another head hangs lowly
Child is slowly taken
And the violence causes silence
Who are we mistaken?

But you see, it’s not me
It’s not my family
In your head, in your head, they are fighting
With their tanks, and their bombs
And their bombs, and their drones
In your head, in your head, they are crying

What’s in your head, in your head?
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie
What’s in your head, in your head?
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie-ie, oh

Another mother’s breaking
Heart is taking over
When the violence causes silence
We must be mistaken

It’s the same old theme
In two thousand eighteen
In your head, in your head, they’re still fighting
With their tanks, and their bombs
And their guns, and their drones
In your head, in your head, they are dying

What’s in your head, in your head?
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie
What’s in your head, in your head?
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie-ie, oh

It’s the same old theme
In two thousand eighteen
In your head, in your head, they are dying

What’s in your head, in your head?
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie
What’s in your head, in your head?
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie-ie, oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh yeah

 

 

“O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”
by Paul Gerhardt, 1607-1676

  1. O sacred Head, now wounded,
    With grief and shame weighed down,
    Now scornfully surrounded
    With thorns, Thine only crown.
    O sacred Head, what glory,
    What bliss, till now was Thine!
    Yet, though despised and gory,
    I joy to call Thee mine.
  2. Men mock and taunt and jeer Thee,
    Thou noble countenance,
    Though mighty worlds shall fear Thee
    And flee before Thy glance.
    How art thou pale with anguish,
    With sore abuse and scorn!
    How doth Thy visage languish
    That once was bright as morn!
  3. Now from Thy cheeks has vanished
    Their color, once so fair;
    From Thy red lips is banished
    The splendor that was there.
    Grim Death, with cruel rigor,
    Hath robbed Thee of Thy life;
    Thus Thou has lost Thy vigor,
    Thy strength, in this sad strife.
  4. My burden in Thy Passion,
    Lord, Thou hast borne for me,
    For it was my transgression
    Which brought this woe on thee.
    I cast me down before Thee,
    Wrath were my rightful lot;
    Have mercy, I implore Thee;
    Redeemer, spurn me not!
  5. My Shepherd, now receive me;
    My Guardian, own me Thine.
    Great blessings Thou didst give me,
    O Source of gifts divine!
    Thy lips have often fed me
    With words of truth and love,
    Thy Spirit oft hath led me
    To heavenly joys above.
  6. Here I will stand beside Thee,
    From Thee I will not part;
    O Savior, do not chide me!
    When breaks Thy loving heart,
    When soul and body languish
    In death’s cold, cruel grasp,
    Then, in Thy deepest anguish,
    Thee in mine arms I’ll clasp.
  7. The joy can ne’er be spoken,
    Above all joys beside,
    When in Thy body broken
    I thus with safety hide.
    O Lord of life, desiring
    Thy glory now to see,
    Beside Thy cross expiring,
    I’d breathe my soul to Thee.
  8. What language shall I borrow
    To thank Thee, dearest Friend,
    For this, Thy dying sorrow,
    Thy pity without end?
    Oh, make me thine forever!
    And should I fainting be,
    Lord, let me never, never,
    Outlive my love for Thee.
  9. My Savior, be Thou near me
    When death is at my door;
    Then let Thy presence cheer me,
    Forsake me nevermore!
    When soul and body languish,
    Oh, leave me not alone,
    But take away mine anguish
    By virtue of Thine own!
  10. Be Thou my Consolation,
    My Shield when I must die;
    Remind me of Thy Passion
    When my last hour draws nigh.
    Mine eyes shall then behold Thee,
    Upon Thy cross shall dwell,
    My heart by faith enfold Thee.
    Who dieth thus dies well!

 

In Lewis’ end to the Narnia books, it is the unicorn, that almost angelic and mystical creature of lore and myth, who says on reaching the Promised Land, “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that is sometimes looked a little like this. Bree-hee-hee! Come further up, come further in!” I like to imagine that today while I listened to their music, Dolores and Paul and Clive were all singing together, “I Belong Here”. Someday we will all wake up to a new world the prophets of the ages have passed through to, and we will suddenly realize that either we spent our lives on earth as zombies and didn’t know it; or we thought we spent our lives as  mere humans, but were really fantastic and myth-like creatures of angelic stature.

All of us humans, just like Dolores, Tommy, Bernard, Paul, and yes, even Clive, spend our whole lifetimes looking for the answers to “that same old theme”, even in 2019. We long to see what this world is really like, could really be like and there are moments when the planet, the soldiers, the immigrants, the mothers, the fields all look a little bit like what we imagine they all could be — should be –but never fully are.  Some of us spend lifetimes singing against and fighting against the zombies of hatred, racism, prejudice, greed, lies,  violence, and self-idolization that surround us. Some of us spend lifetimes fighting those zombies who sidetrack us into theological quagmires and even try to convince us they are not zombies but Godly.  Some, like Dolores and Paul, just keep crying out truth in the streets until they die of broken hearts.  Some of us like Tommy and Bernard and Clive spend  lifetimes trying to fight the zombies of false idolatry masquerading as religion, and fighting the demons of greed and self-pride masquerading as guardian angels. Some of us may only have enough alternative music within us to give someone a jug of water at the border or our extra coat in the winter or a hug across the aisle, just trying to help other humans not become zombies. Some of us only have enough strength to try for just one more hour, to fight the zombies within our own heads.

Some of us look to The Christ; who layed down His sovereign God-head, and took us his creatures, “in to his head, in his head”. And took us into His heart. In His heart.  And then He layed down that Sacred Head,  despised, wounded and killed, so that we might never again be alone; so that we might have the ability to fight the zombie within; so that we might have the ability to destroy the zombies without. So that we might know how to survive the temptations and powers of the zombies, both without us and within us.  So that we might live as the humans Christ’s God created us to be.

Unless daily, His Sacred Head wounded and bleeding, bleeds from my own thoughts; unless daily His Sacred Heart beats within my own chest; until and unless His God-like humanity is revived and reborn in me, a zombie in need of a human Savior; unless all this and daily this, then I will be just another zombie pretending that I know what it means to be human and pretending that I know and am known by a God who loves all humanity. Pretending, not being; zombie, not human.  “For that Being who is neither human nor anything humans can truly understand, loves His creaturely humans so much, that He begot a human son and gave Him a life on our planet; and whosoever turns from his or her sinful and broken zombie-ways and follows the human life and death Way of God’s Son, shall not die a zombie, but live forever, more human, and more God-ly than we could ever imagine.” (John 3:16 paraphrased)

For safety and hope today, and for worship of a God who made me in Imago Dei, I pray these words  and sing with the saints of alternative music:

“My Savior be Thou near me. My Guardian,  own me thine. Another head hangs lowly. Heart is taking over. We must be mistaken. Zombie, zombie, zombie. Oh, Sacred Head, now wound me.  Remind me of Thine Passion. My Savior be Thou near me. Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, yeah, yeah, yeah…. Further up and Further in. Amen.”

 

 

The Cranberries: Zombie

https://youtu.be/6Ejga4kJUts

Bad Wolves:  Zombie

 

 

Selah:  O, Sacred Head Now Wounded

One Small Pebble – A poem

One Small Pebble

By Jane Tawel

February 17, 2019

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From Dorothy Day: “What we would like to do is change the world – make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended for them to do.… We can, to a certain extent, change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world. We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever widening circle will reach around the world. We repeat, there is nothing that we can do but love, and, dear God, please enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbor, to love our enemy as well as our friend.”

 

One Small Pebble

By Jane Tawel

Today I threw a pebble in the pond

The pond I’ve been assigned to;

I’d rather walk as Jesus walked,

Than grow moss upon a cold pew.

 

The first pebble that I threw

Was singing songs beside some Jews.

I sat in synagogue with them

And praised the God of Bethlehem.

I looked at faces, like my Lord’s

And ghostly hordes from holocausts,

And felt quite humbled by my tossed,

Small pebble of such little cost.

 

The second pebble that I threw

Was picking up the trash from you.

I didn’t use my gloves or sack

But just my hands to show the lack

Of love we feel for this mocked world.

The planet is My Father’s Pearl,

He treasures it as would a girl.

God loves the earth, the sky and sea

And that is why He planted me.

And by my awkward kneeling down

And worship, as I clean the ground,

And suffer for those able rebels,

I hope that others might throw pebbles;

By picking trash I missed today,

And following Jesus in His Way.

 

 

Another thing I had to do

Was cast some cash to the small crew,

That sleeps outside in my town’s park,

And oft reminds me of the stark,

Injustice that our world has spawned,

Increasing darkly since the Dawn

When Eden was first given us–

As something Good that God could trust

To us, His loved Imago Dei.

God fashioned us from common clay,

And gave us powers to rule the earth,

But ever since our sin was birthed,

We look upon this life as right

And choose not nourishment but fight.

 

And that reminded me that I

Should pray for enemies that lie

And tell the world they are in power

And do not fear the coming hour

When all the nations’ high built towers,

Will before Justice kneel and cower.

 

Ah, do we not regard the One,

Who claimed to be God’s only Son

And told us if we did not cry,

“Hosanna to the God on high”;

that all our faith would be just talk,

and God could get the praise from rocks!

 

It is not wealth nor earthly might

That can restore the world, once bright;

No, only we can make things right,

By seeking Justice, Goodness, Light.

Just one small act, but not one random,

But one that’s tethered to the Ransom

Of God, that Fisher of our shoals,

Who loves each lost and broken soul.

 

Oh God, who hurled out our small Mass,

May Thou, now seen through smoggy glass,

One day restore each stream and tree–

And let Your work begin in me.

 

So I pitch puny pebbles few

And hope that maybe when I do,

Against the tide of moral drought,

Those pebbles small will circle out

And like the pebble David hurled,

Will slay the Evils of this World.

I do not wear protective gloves,

Because there is no fear in Love.

And just because I claim each time

That some such problem is not mine;

I must confess that Good not done

Is just as bad as sins that are.

Because I’m guilty of this mess

And find the only way to bless,

The name of Yahweh is to walk

The walk and not to merely talk

About the change I wish to see.

The changes must begin with me.

 

If only all we foolish rebels,

Will keep on throwing our small pebbles,

Then ripples will in time expand,

To heal our hearts, and heal our land.

“A tiny human pebble”, you say,

“Will never Evil’s Giants slay”.

And yet, it was a pebble trivial,

That made small David, king of Israel.

And there was just a tomb’s small stone,

Preventing Jesus from His throne.

And when Christ rolled that stone away,

He rose from Death’s final decay.

 

We too can see the World’s perfection

By joining Christ in resurrection.

But first we must get dirty hands;

Tear down our towers built on sand.

We need to wash each other’s feet

And watch converging circles meet;

In streams of Love, my Rock, I fling

to truly imitate my King.

My circle that conjoins with yours

Can truly change the whole wide world.

Because by now it’s widely known

That Jesus is the Cornerstone.

He chose to heal and not throw stones,

And sent us out to be atoned.

And by His love He does persuade us,

to heal the world that He has made us.

And that’s best done avoiding trouble,

By merely picking up the rubble

And humbly, small-ly getting rid of,

Any thing that is not True Love.

For Truth and Love survive all clocks.

 

And so I fill my life with rocks,

To throw in God’s provided pools,

And join the cast of many fools,

Who think small actions can change Spheres;

As Christ’s return draws ever near.

For only if our nets we cast,

In Pools of Love, will this Life last.

 

The God-man who upon the cross,

Began new life with one small toss,

Will one day call us to His docket;

And count what’s hoarded in our pockets.

The Christ hurled all His power aside

And gave His life for His soiled Bride.

If I want to by God be known,

Then I must rid my heart of stones,

And empty out my life and heart

By throwing pebbles for my part;

And whether that seems worldly smart,

By foolish love of Earth I’ll chart

My course –as just one tiny stone–

Tossing it all before God’s throne.

 

God’s Kingdom Come

His Will be Done,

On this Blue Stone

As in His  Home.

 

And while the preachers would coerce;

I thrust my hands inside my purse,

And hope by serving from my case,

The pebbles, with a joyful face;

I’ll show the Love, that for someone,

Will show the Love of God’s own Son.

Because this planet given to us,

Has now become so treasonous;

That by our fallen-ness and sin,

We will have brought World’s bitter end;

But only then God will be able,

To bring His Kingdom Ever Stable.

And then the King will on His throne,

Reward the ripples of small stones.

For one day all the world will tremble

Before The Christ, God’s One Small Pebble.

As Dorothy Day much more eloquently does in her writing, my hope and prayer, if you have chosen to read this far, is that you will discover that you have been given much and that your pockets are filled with the Good pebbles that God has given you. I hope you will begin to see as I am beginning to see that as The Christ said, “it is only by throwing out one’s life, that one truly gains Life.” I hope that what will be revealed are the small pebbles that the Beatitudes call the blessings of the poor in spirit; and that we will have courage to throw the pebbles out; tossing them one by one in the pools of our own particular lives, and in that way, change the world, one ripple of love at a time. The Ecclesiast in wisdom, advises to “throw your bread upon the waters; for you will find it after many days.” I hope if you are reading this and lack any good thing, that you will find the ripples of Goodness, Truth, and the Love of God cast upon the waters that are rippling toward you where you live today. If you have been given much, as I have, and realize that because of that, one day much will be required of us; I hope you might find joy in picking up someone else’s trash today, or give some of your money to make life a little simpler for someone else. Ultimately, as Ms. Day said,  and as God says in His Word, even better –there is absolutely nothing worth doing but loving.

“Now these three things only will remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is Love” (Paul of Tarsus, a lover and servant of Adonai, The One True God)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do We Really?

Do We Really?

By Jane Tawel

February 3, 2019

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All the assumptions we make.  And we just take it all for granted that because we call ourselves something, label ourselves something, that these things are true.  And we like them to be true because that is what gives us personal meaning and usually a paycheck or two.  One of my favorite sayings of the current younger generation is when someone says something, and they sing-song with a bit of Socratic sass: “But is it? Is it really?”  “Was he?  Was he really?”  “But did you?  Did you really?”  With the emphasis on really, this seemingly silly question has all the power of Pilate’s “What is truth?”  I imagine if Pilate and Jesus were talking today, as they did in John 18, their conversation would go something more like this.

 

Jesus :“I have come into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth, hears my voice.”

Pilate: “But do they?  Do they really?”

 

Here are some assumptions I hear people making, and being the stickler for the needed role of an antagonist in any good story, I will present how one might wonder about the “truth”  of things people base their lives, livelihood, and even salvation on.  This of course is a partial list of just my own particular meditations today.   We can add on to these and ponder them for eternity; or rather until God’s Kingdom comes. Then the fat angel sings and it’s game over.

People say a lot of stuff about what “Christians” believe.  Here is some of my personal “Socratic” dialect about some ideas that I have been struggling with lately. As is my bent, I will open my stream-of-conscious rather bent and banged up thinking here.  I will use the second person “you” as a more colloquial version of the more proper third person “one”, meaning of course this is at heart, a first person reflection in the final analysis.

  1. We should lead like Jesus. Jesus was a good leader. But Jesus proclaims himself not a leader at all but a servant and follower. In fact, Jesus flees the leadership role that could make Him a king of nations.  Jesus flatly states that he can do nothing in His own power but only what His Father, Jehovah, does through him.  To put the final “nail in this coffin”, It is very clear that when we are judged, if we have been a leader, we will have gotten our reward while on earth.  Only those who serve as and with the least of the least will be chosen to lead with The Christ. We may all be created as equal, but we do not go through life as equals which brings us to false idea #2.
  2. All human life is sacred. There is, I am afraid, nothing at all in the Bible that implies this. The metaphor found in Psalm 139 is merely that, a personal poetic reflection on the part of the servant of God and chosen Jewish king, David. This current Western idea that each human life is special and sacred is purely a religion born out of Humanism and wealth and the warping of “Christian” thought. This humanistic, individualistic religion that we erroneously call worship of God is nothing more than worship of self, and is not a Judeo-Christian worldview at all. I could go on and on with proofs from God’s Word about this but read it for yourself from beginning to end and you will wonder how we got to believe that each human is sacred.   To give you only one indication, read the story of God and Sodom and Gomorrah and of Abraham’s plea for God to save just ten people worth saving. This idea that a human life is sacred is blasphemy in fact. There is none sacred but God, the Bible says.  We can choose covenant with God and be chosen in that way and only in that way to have a life that is more than dust.  But it is by our keeping covenant with God and living as The Son of God lived, that we become holy, sacred, eternal soul. I am afraid it is an incredibly important thing to think through in this day and age of the rather (sometimes literally) “Micky Mouse” -Americanized- Christianity-ese. It is  critically important because people use this idea of all life as sacred to be “pro-life” about the abortion of unborn fetuses, but not “pro-life” about the born lives of illegal immigrants or not pro-life about people who do not vote or worship as they do.  People support this idea of each human as sacred, in the ridiculous worldview that you can “ask Jesus to be your  Savior” and then he is because “God loves you no matter what”.  There are so many “Christian” songs that flat out say this over and over and it makes me tremble because if you read the actual tome that we call God’s Inspired Word”.  You will realize that:
  3. God does not love you no matter what you do. There is absolutely no indication in God’s Word that this is true.  Let me just give you one example: Moses. Yeah, that star among God-followers.  God was going to kill Moses and then – well, read the story for yourself of  Moses’ wife, that wonderful pagan woman called Zipporah.  Which brings me to this.
  4. God is not my friend. God is not that friend Who comes whenever I call Him to help my team win the game.  God is God.  Again, read God’s Word.  Actually read it; don’t show up to have the experts tell you on Sunday how much they love you because Jesus  loves you and died for you.  He didn’t. Jesus, a Jew, died for a Holy God, his Father, Adonai.  Jesus completed the whole cycle of being human in perfect covenant with a Holy God. Jesus died to show us that we could be reborn through our own deaths (both literal and figurative, as He did)  if we lived in covenant with Yahweh, as Jesus did.  Jesus is very, very clear that He did not come to throw out the Bible, what we blithely call to our peril, the “Old” Testament, but to fulfill and live it as it was meant. Not as the religious leaders had interpreted it but as The Christ lived it. We are meant to live it too. But it is not this wide road that is easy to stroll down because your own particular life is so sacred. Nope.  It is a narrow road that you choose, but as Robert Frost said, that choice will “make all the difference”.  I should be different because God loves me enough to make me different enough to be with Him. Which bring us to #5.
  5. God loves me. Well, yes and no.  God loves me but not because I’m me.  The Bible tells us that God loves “the World”. God made the world perfect and He made humans perfect. And then we messed  ourselves up and messed up the world and continue to do both of those things.  Read the bits in the Bible about how God “chastises and disciplines those He loves” and then decide if you want A Holy God to love you.  Because frankly most of us live like animals.  This is where those who don’t believe in God have it partially right.  We are like animals and we can choose to live like animals if we want; “eating, drinking, and being merry” for tomorrow we die. And that’s it.  Scripture implies that if we live long enough, we get three choices in this world: 1. To live for self and get as much as I can for me and my family, just like the doggie families, and ape families do. When my days are over enjoying this wonderful life, I will either lay down with gratitude or regrets or a mix of both, and then return to dust and cease to exist. The place of buried animal bodies, or the ground from which no man returns, is what the Bible calls Gehenna.  2. If on the other hand, you lead your life and choose to be cruel, wicked, to abuse God’s name, to abuse power, to abuse others, to enjoy evil in word and deed,  and perhaps even if you just commit those things we call the sins of omission, ie not doing the things you were meant to do for Good; then God is pretty clear you will be punished even after you think you escape judgement through death.  Those people will go to hell, complete with the demonic gods they have enjoyed while alive on earth.  3. You can spend your life living on the planet as best you can in relationship to a God we can no longer see. We can no longer see God as Adam and Eve could, because we have chosen sin instead. But God provides a way “back to The Garden” so to speak; and that is by following the rules, worshiping only Jehovah, and loving others as we love our own selves. This is the option we have to live in a covenant with  The One True God, Yahweh.  These people live to glorify the name of Jehovah, live for the least of the least in this world, study Truth, learn how to love and trust and hope again after The Fall, and resist the temptations that The Christ did: those temptations of power, greed, and self-worship.  These people will rise from death to a new earth and to even something  new and unknown – a “Heaven”, the place where at last we can be in the same space as God is and not die. These people will see God and live.
  6. Everyone wants to go to heaven. No, they don’t. You  may have been taught that you will go to hell if you don’t listen to Christians. Well, ironically the only people Jesus, the founder of the little Christs sect, says will go to hell, are the leaders of the religion he practiced.  Matthew 23:15:  “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” This is sobering to say the least for any of us who have taught any thing about Jesus.  And while, I have always loved the practices and people of today’s churches,  the incremental off -course steering that The Church has done for the past centuries, has us so far off course as to frighten me. Which brings us to something we might call semantics in #7, but semantics are crucial to explore when you are thinking about Jesus who is called The Word.
  7. Jesus loves his church. He doesn’t.  He couldn’t because he never used the word and there was no such idea as we now know “the church” in any of Christ’s teachings. In fact, in what we call the “New” Testament, another scary thing we’ve come to believe, there is not a single time the word “church” is used.  Church is a misinterpretation of several Greek words.  Again, you can read and google this for yourself.  There is, of course, much proof that to follow God, we must live in communities, caring for each other and worshiping together.  There is much proof that we are to live as followers of Christ with others who want to follow Him, like his disciples did. But the point is, we have turned the religion of Christ (and by extension of His early followers, including the people who wrote the Gospels and Paul) into something they would neither recognize nor I would venture to boldly say, would they approve of.  So let’s just say this for now.  Jesus was a Jew. Jesus believed that He was the Messiah of The Chosen People who were the Jews, the Hebrews.  Jesus believed that it was through the Jewish Scriptures  and lives of the Hebrew covenant keepers that God, The Father is best revealed.  He also believed though that the Jews had abused their status and that “there would come a day when God will be worshiped neither on the Jewish Mount nor in the chosen confined temples of any other peoples, but by all peoples in “spirit and in truth”.  Then He claimed that the day had  in fact arrived with His way – The Way – of worship of God. Jesus did not come at all to form a new “organized religion” and we have programmed and capitalized on Jesus’ beliefs out of all recognition and wisdom. The main word that Jesus used that should make all the difference in our understanding of who He was / is was not “church”, congregation or synagogue.  The word Jesus used was “Kingdom”.  And He did not preach His own earthly kingdom, but The Kingdom of Yahweh.  Which brings us back to the “really”, “is it really” of #1, in #8.
  8. The Gospel / Good News is that Jesus is the only way to heaven. No, He isn’t.  Jesus is the only way to The Father.  And Jesus came to bring The Kingdom of The Father back to our understanding and to make available the germination in us  of how The Father’s Kingdom can be restored to our world / planet/ Eden. What Jesus taught is that: “I am The Way (to God), The Truth (about God), and the Life (with God). No one comes to Jehovah except by means of my way.”  In fact, this is why early followers of Jesus who were Jews or converted Jews would never have called their religion “Christianity” because it wasn’t.  It was Judaism.  They called what they believed what Jesus called what He believed: The Way.  If you don’t want to truly know a Holy God and become holy, you won’t go to “hell” (necessarily).  You will merely have enjoyed a good or an awful life depending on your status, personality, and circumstances and you will return to the dust of this planet like all animals and plants will.  Nothing wrong with that choice.  If however, you think that you want to live forever in the presence of God as we were intended to do in Eden when humans were created in the image of Divinity, then it is best to try to figure out how we are really meant to live now.

Because claiming to be something, doesn’t make it so.  I would love to claim that I am a gorgeous twenty-three -year -old with a million dollars in the bank and five houses in various parts of the world and a private plane and that every one who meets me loves me and that  I could rule the country, maybe even the world in the way it should be run, and  that I get do-overs on every minute I’ve messed up and that God loves me no matter what.  And you would have to ask me with all the Socratic sass you could muster, “ But–Are you? Are you really?”

If you think Jesus did all the work for you, or that because you were born into some cultural religion or other, or that just because you are alive, that those facts– which the Bible says, fall randomly like rain, on the good and the evil — that those facts make you something you want to be; and that God loves you no matter what; well then, you may want to look around at what we are doing to God’s world, to God’s other children, to  our own bodies and souls, to God’s planet, and what we do in blasphemy of God’s Holy Name, and you may want to humble yourself; and ask yourself when you think you have it all figured out:

Do you? Do you really?

 

Trying to Make Rhyme and Reason Out of The Christmas Season

Trying to Make Rhyme and Reason Out of the Christmas Season

by Jane Tawel

December 23, 2018

 

We worship the Genie we call Santa Claus

Or  honor a building or practice some laws.

We call this religion and true Christmas season;

Or come up with competing fiestas or reasons.

We give gifts to loved ones and eat ’til we pop

And think we are doing our best if we shop.

We claim it is all about Jesus and yet

The fact He was Jewish we’d rather forget.

And all of the immigrants who’d like to be saved,

We keep locked in prisons while walls are being raised.

Our children are dying by their own hands or ours,

And we have the nerve to preach “wisemen” and stars?

Well, maybe that’s why kids prefer “holiday”

Instead of the old news of babes born in hay.

If this is the time we celebrate birth,

We’d best know that God came to save the whole earth.

And that means if we want to lay down a claim

That “Christ-Mass” is about the Name of all Names,

We must take down our idols and elves off the shelf.

We need to become like the Christ-child Himself.

If you are still worshiping power or greed,

Then humble yourself,

Be bruised like God’s Reed.

And if you have never experienced real love

Forget about Christmas and seek the true God.

For God will become anything your soul craves,

After all, He once chose to become a small babe.

Because our God loves us He came down to save,

And took for Himself our own death and the grave.

And that is what Christmas should be all about,

And why those who love Jesus should sing with a shout:

“Fear not, for a God does exist who is Love

And wants all of His children in His Kingdom Above.”

 

The phrase “Merry Christmas” seems often abused,

So I would prefer to give truly Good News:

God loves our small planet and each molecule

That He has created and that over He rules.

The God of all ages has appeared large and small

And this season we worship the smallest of all.

So let’s in the New Year all try to find

A heart like a baby’s both needy and kind.

Let’s need love from others in the same way we share

The love of All Love, the God-child who dared;

Who came down to our level and brought us Truth’s Light;

Messiah, The Chosen, King of David’s Birthright.

May the new day before us remind us, we too

Can live every day reborn and renewed.

Just as God longs to heal each worldly cell,

He desires that all souls may know true Noel.

We pray that in our hearts, each of us will strive

To let God-love transform us and eternally live.

May we seek every season, love that grows in each heart,

No matter our culture, religion, or part.

For every day’s holy if we humbly will listen,

For the soft voice of Jehovah and the True Word of Christ-mass.

May Each Day of the New Year Bring You and Yours Those Things that will Remain–

Faith, Hope, and Love,

Jane

*********This can be a tough time of the year for some people. Did you know that if you text 741741 when you are feeling depressed or suicidal, a crisis worker will text you back immediately and continue to text with you? Many people don’t like talking on the phone and would be more comfortable texting. It’s a FREE service to ANYONE – teens, adults, etc. – who lives in the U.S. It’s run by The Crisis Text Line.
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If you prefer to talk to someone, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-8255

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Advent

Note: I love Advent. I thought I’d start this Advent by republishing two posts from 2017; a poem and an essay below.

I Love You, Mary, Because You Were Human

By Jane Tawel

First Published on 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

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My Own Gifts from God

Fear Not! We Need the Bad News First.

By Jane Tawel

First Published on 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

Read Their Names. by Jane Tawel

Note:  It takes all the chutzpah I have to post the following, not because I don’t believe it but because I have lost jobs, friends and family from trying to speak out about important things and I have lost hope that any one really wants to change. I see people just going on with their lives as if we are not living in a frightening age right now and most frightening of all, I see people who claim to know God or Jesus act as if somehow God’s grace will cover their sins against others.  Just a head’s up:  If you actually read the Bible, it is pretty clear that it won’t.  America is like the rich nameless man in The Christ’s parable. The rich man  lives with homeless Lazarus at his door and spends his life eating, drinking and being merry behind his safe mansion doors, and then when he dies and realizes he is not actually going to heaven after all, has the gall to say to God, “oh if only You had told me!  At least go tell my brothers so they will be saved.”  God’s reply would be well for us to take to heart today: “He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (Luke 19:31).

 

Some of us believe that Someone did rise from the dead.  And we still are not convinced.

Read Their Names

by Jane Tawel

November 17, 2018

 

“It’s starting to rain again; it’s… the rain had (uh) slacked up a little bit. The back motors of the ship are just holding it (uh) just enough to keep it from…It’s burst into flames! Get this, Charlie; get this, Charlie! It’s fire… and it’s crashing! It’s crashing terrible! Oh, my! Get out of the way, please! It’s burning and bursting into flames and the… and it’s falling on the mooring mast. And all the folks agree that this is terrible; this is the worst of the worst catastrophes in the world. Oh it’s… [unintelligible] its flames… Crashing, oh! Four- or five-hundred feet into the sky and it… it’s a terrific crash, ladies and gentlemen. It’s smoke, and it’s in flames now; and the frame is crashing to the ground, not quite to the mooring mast. Oh, the humanity! And all the passengers screaming around here. I told you; it – I can’t even talk to people, their friends are on there! Ah! It’s… it… it’s a… ah! I… I can’t talk, ladies and gentlemen. Honest: it’s just laying there, mass of smoking wreckage. Ah! And everybody can hardly breathe and talk and the screaming. I… I… I’m sorry. Honest: I… I can hardly breathe. I… I’m going to step inside, where I cannot see it. Charlie, that’s terrible. Ah, ah… I can’t. Listen, folks; I… I’m gonna have to stop for a minute because I’ve lost my voice. This is the worst thing I’ve ever witnessed.”
— Herbert Morrison, Transcription of WLS radio broadcast describing the Hindenburg disaster.

 

“Said his grieving and furious mother: “My son was in Las Vegas with a lot of his friends, and he came home. He didn’t come home last night, and I don’t want prayers. I don’t want thoughts. I want gun control, and I hope to God nobody sends me any more prayers. I want gun control. No more guns.” — Mother of Telemachus Orfanus, killed November 7, 2018 by The United States of America’s inability to deal with guns.

 

Read their names below. Read each one. Then realize the next time your child or grand child or your spouse steps out the door to get a coffee, or your grandpa goes to his place of worship, or your kinder gardener goes to class!! — it could be their names. OH THE HUMANITY! It is way past time to change course. Way past. Read each name and then tell me: Does this feel like freedom to you, America? No, what you are witnessing time after time is the “worst catastrophe in the world”. Moses did not use prayer to change the world, he acted. Jesus did not stop at prayer for the Caesars and Pharisees and Sadducees and unclean poor of the world; he wrested the weapon from Peter’s hand and said go change the world. Gandhi did not change the world through his “thoughts”. Mother Teresa did not change the world by “thinking” about the lepers of India. Dr. Martin Luther King Junior had to walk across bridges and go to prison not just preach and pray. Read the names. Then do something if as you claim, you really love your country, your freedoms, your children, and your God. Read their names. They do not appear on your favorite show, they were not your combatant enemies, they won’t be getting another life in a video game, and none of them will be home tonight. And we have decided we love our guns, sitting in our little home safes, protecting us from what? Unless you are hunting for your food, no one should need a gun in America. And maybe if no one else had guns, we wouldn’t have overstressed cops killing innocent security guards mistaking them for just “regular” black people; instead of the hero that Jemel Roberson was before he was killed by a gun. Read his name. Read their names. When did we become zombies who love our guns more than we love people? Oh, the humanity.