Who Cares Who “Wins”?

My oldest son and I are going to the Kansas City/Buffalo football game this Sunday evening.

The Chiefs are slightly favored to win. But the Chiefs defense has been weak.

It should be a great game. Maybe even a “classic.”

And, yeah, since I live here I’d like the Chiefs to win in a close one.

But if the Bills win, I’ll also be happy.

We lived a couple hours south of Buffalo for 21 years; to include the four consecutive years the Bills went to (and lost in) the Super Bowl.

So I’m kinda a Bills fan also. I was contemplating wearing my vintage Bills jacket with a Chiefs cap, but I decided against that.

So I’m hoping for a good game, regardless of what team wins.

The Body of Christ sort of has teams also:

Baptists (in 3,242 varieties, or so it seems); Nazarenes; Assembly of God; Bible Believing Methodists; charismatics (and, alas, charismaniacs); Presbyterians and so many more.

In these increasingly difficult days; we Christians need to stand and work together, regardless of differences on secondary issues. (like tongues, security of believer, eschatology, mode of baptism, etc.etc.etc.)

We are brothers and sisters in Christ; but not identical twins.

And we need to march and work hand-in-hand, even if we don’t see eye-to-eye on secondary issues.

To clarify…I’m not talking “why can’t we all be friends” ecumenacalism.

There are professing “Christians” who I wouldn’t call on for silent prayer.

Those who deny the exclusivity of the gospel; those who deny the virgin birth; those who deny the resurrection; those who deny repentance/faith; etc etc etc are excluded.

But of those who agree on the essentials – who cares who “wins”?

Who cares who has the largest in number denomination?

Who cares who has the coolest music?

Who cares who baptizes another way than “we” do?

Who cares whether someone is pre-trib; post-trib; mid-trib; or don’t-give-a-trib?

We really do, we really do, we really do, need each other.

And the Victor is not us.

Dazzling Denzel

He is my favorite actor.

I have heard segments of his speeches in which he refers to faith.

I anticipate meeting him one glad morning…

I just discovered this half-hour interview.

The first several minutes deal with race, past, and current affairs.

Then it segues into Denzel’s faith journey.

You may not every “t” and dot every “i” theologically.

But whether you like him as an actor of not, I urge you to give this a watch and listen.

Wanted: Spiritual Mothers

Good stuff here:

Great and Noble Tasks

Whose voice do you hear when a much older Christian woman speaks into your life?

When I was eight years old, I became a grown-up. Changing life circumstances and a mom who needed my help in many areas of her life caused me to say good-bye to most of the rest of my childhood and learn how to be an adult quickly.

One recent Sunday, almost 50 years later, I sat in church and listened to a prayer written and spoken by a woman a little older than my mother would have been if she were still alive. Her prayer was just a minute or two long, and by the end of it I was in tears. Now, I cry easily for many reasons, so the tears themselves didn’t surprise me. The surprise was that I was crying for something I longed for without knowing, like a memory that had…

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You WILL Be Found

A couple days ago I wrote a passionate (I hope) recommendation to see “Dear Evan Hansen” https://youknowjack.blog/2021/10/03/dont-miss-dear-evan-hansen/

“You Will Be Found” is my favorite song in my new favorite movie.

The writers, according to my research, are a married, church-going father, and a single, gay Jew.

They wrote the score for “The Greatest Showman,” “La La Land,” and other flicks.

Without changing a word, this song has a Christian tilt to it.

Oh, and by the way, you will be found one day…either at the Great White Throne of Revelation 20; or the Judgement Seat of Christ. The issue of the former is sin; the issue of the latter is rewards.

And…if you are a Christian…you have been found.

“I found Jesus when I was 26.” Wrong. The Lord wasn’t lost. You were. He found you, and the Father drew you to the Son.

Quit preaching, Jack.

Okay.

I love the song. The opening line is the story not just for many, many teens; but for many, many (most?) adults. For whatever reason, this recording does not include the words.

Here they are: “Have you ever felt like nobody was there? Have you ever felt forgotten in the middle of nowhere? Have you ever felt like you could disappear? Like you could fall and no one would hear?”

Then we segue into hope: “Well, let that lonely feeling wash away…maybe there’s a reason to believe you’ll be okay…’cause when you don’t feel strong enough to stand; you can reach, reach out your hand And oh, oh Someone will come running, and I know they’ll take you home.”

It continues broadcasting hope, “Even when the dark comes crashing through, when you need a Friend to carry you; when you’re broken on the ground, you will be found.”

Then, unintentionally or not, comes one word that, spelled just a tad different, brings a mist to my eyes, “So let the Sun come streaming in; cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again. If you only look around, you will be found…”

And I’ve hopped around you tube looking and listening to various renditions. Many are very, very good.

But this is my favorite.

Their faces, their smiles, their enthusiasm!

Sure, I know some or most of them spend a lot of their time working as baristas or waitstaff as they, well, wait for gigs. I know some of them live in crowded apartments because they can’t afford to live separately.

But methinks they have passion for their craft. I think when they “work” they are ecstatically happy, and understand what Indira Ghandi wrote, “The secret of life is to find a job that they pay you to do, that you would pay to do.”

Crank your speakers. Watch and enjoy this.

And, if I may, ask yourself what I ask – how come I/we don’t look like them when we’re singing praise/worship music?

Deadly Delay

There is nothing as fleeting as the moment of conviction.

“No one comes to the Son except the Father draws him”

“Today is the day of salvation”

The devil and his legions care not if a lost person thinks “Someday I’ll come to salvation; someday I’ll repent; someday I’ll investigate the claims of the gospel”

Too many are like Felix in Acts 24:

22 Since Felix was well informed about the Way, he adjourned the hearing, saying, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will decide your case.” 23 He ordered that the centurion keep Paul under guard, though he could have some freedom, and that he should not prevent any of his friends from meeting his needs.

24 Several days later, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and listened to him on the subject of faith in Christ Jesus. 25 Now as he spoke about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix became afraid and replied, “Leave for now, but when I have an opportunity I’ll call for you.” 26 At the same time he was also hoping that Paul would offer him money.[d] So he sent for him quite often and conversed with him.

27 After two years had passed, Porcius Festus succeeded Felix, and because Felix wanted to do the Jews a favor, he left Paul in prison.”

Don’t Miss “Dear Evan Hansen”

My bride and I went to the movies last night to see “Dear Evan Hansen.”

The advertisements intrigued me. I did some research…most critics hated it; most fans loved it.

Color me the latter.

Unique. Intriguing. Surprising.

Phenomenally acted; especially by the lead actor (portraying Evan…he also starred in the Broadway musical).

It tackles mental illness.

If you, as a Christian, think (using the term loosely) depression, anxiety etc are always evidences of demonic activity; or if you feel medication is unnecessary for such issues; don’t bother reading (and don’t bother “correcting” me).

It is, I guess, officially a musical. (but, then, so also was one of my favorites – “The Greatest Showman”)

I don’t want to put out any spoilers…

I simply urge you to see it.

I very, very rarely watch a movie twice…

But this one I will…

And if the Broadway show travels to the midwest…I’ll try to see it.

Here’s my favorite song from the movie…yeah, it doesn’t take much to make it work as a “Christian” song:

“Lordship Salvation” is Redundant

You are going through a cafeteria line…you take a big portion of mac and cheese, accept a burger, but pass on the salad and the mushroom soup. After all, you are there to take what you want.

You can’t do that with Jesus. You can’t take a big portion of “Jesus the Savior” or “Jesus the friend of sinners” or, gag, “Jesus my homeboy.”

You can’t divide a person, even when the person is a Person.

Read this from Acts 16:

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the jail were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 When the jailer woke up and saw the doors of the prison standing open, he drew his sword and was going to kill himself, since he thought the prisoners had escaped.

28 But Paul called out in a loud voice, “Don’t harm yourself, because we’re all here!”

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He escorted them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him along with everyone in his house.”

The Holy Spirit had Luke pen “Lord Jesus,” not “Savior Jesus,” not “Jesus.”

We are responsible for what we know.

When I was converted in a Texas jail cell, I had just been introduced to the gospel. I was 26, and had never been in church except for weddings and funerals. I had no idea who Jesus was other than a curse word.

When I trusted Christ I did not know there was a trinity. I didn’t know the difference between a charismaniac and a king-jimmie-only baptist. I did not know about a concept called “Lordship Salvation,” nor of Zane Hodges etc rebuke of that concept.

All I knew is that I was in a hopeless condition, not because of drugs; but because of sin. I obeyed the Spirit’s tugging by surrendering to the fact that I wasn’t the boss, God is, was, and always will be the Boss.

There was no repeat after me prayer; there was no altar call. There was a lost sinner and an incredibly loving God.

In a sense, I was “all in.”

Ephesians 2.8,9 are wonderful, true verses.

So is Ephesians 2.10.

We are created for “good works.”

Grace works. Faith works.

If there ain’t no fruit, it’s because there is no shoot; because there is no root.

When you share the gospel (you are, are you not?); don’t simply describe the love and sacrifice of Jesus.

Don’t just offer a chance to “accept Jesus as your Savior and ask Him into your heart.”

Reading the Word can spoil a lot of “evangelism” trainings and “evangelism” methodology (music softly playing, blood and guts story, every head bowed….)

In reading the Gospels you find that Jesus always made it easier to say “no than to say “yes.”

Go and do thou likewise.

I Was Robbed!

Well, not really.

But anyone who has spent a week with me at a teen or family camp may remember that I often speak of “inhaling the Word of God, exhaling prayer.” I suppose I’ve been using that phrase for three decades or more.

Today this showed up in my inbox, under the headline “Do This Breathing Exercise for Healthy Christian Living.” You can read the brief article (and I recommend you do) https://www.crossway.org/articles/do-this-breathing-exercise-for-healthy-christian-living/.

Gasp! It includes this sentence: “I like to think of Scripture and prayer as inhaling and exhaling because that shows the two necessarily go together. “

Usually I just say, “Inhale,” pause a moment, and then say, “Exhale.”

Inhale the Word of God; exhale prayer.

Simple.

In many circles there is much talk of plagiarism. The new president of a major denomination has been accused, as have several other “big name” Christians.

I don’t know the level of their guilt.

But ideas can’t be copyrighted.

After all, there is nothing new under the sun.

Obviously to cut and paste someone elses’ words/writings is stealing.

But I wasn’t robbed.

Though it could be that the author of the piece is a former camper of mine, who may not remember that he first heard the phrase under me. Or maybe the author came up with the idea by himself.

Either way, I’m not going to scream that he stole my idea.

I’ll simply rejoice that other people are learning about spiritual breathing.

Excuse me, it’s time for me to inhale.

First Movie After Prison

“Shortly after being paroled, a friend asked me if I wanted to see “Jesus Christ, Superstar.”

“Sure, why not?” I replied.

And we watched it. I loved it. I bought the soundtrack. I watched it again. I played the soundtrack (on my walkman) as I performed the duties of Minister of Sanitation (a.k.a. janitor) at the First Baptist Church of Newhall, California.

Then some folks in the church overheard the music.

And I stepped into the world of legalism…the world of Christians confusing their preferences with their convictions.

And I gracefully ignored them. At the pastor’s behest I did not listen to the music while on the church grounds. Soon they stupidly asked me to be the youth director (this was in 1977!) No internet, no quick way to check my record.

Consciously or unconsciously, the leadership must have felt if they had a youth guy who was an alcoholic, Nam vet, exconvict it would draw teens…I use the word “stupid because all they knew of me is what I told them. I could have been a rapist or child molester for goodness’ sake! One of the conditions of the job was that I not listen to nor recommend the soundtrack to the teens. I didn’t.

ANYway, I continued to listen to the music. And I watched the movie often.

I think I see some of you dear readers shaking your head.

That’s cool. If it is wrong for you to watch or listen to JC Superstar, don’t.

Why did I like the music and movie so much? After all, it was a convenient flick..you bring the bread and the mayo, the movie provided the cheese.

Not a huge budget, not any recognizable stars.

So why?

Because in watching the movie this very young in faith Christian (I was converted in a Texas jail in 1977 enroute to an Oregon State Prison) I realized that the original Jesus Freaks (the disciples) were just ordinary dummies like me.

Before the movie I thought they were superstars themselves.

But they were fishermen who couldn’t catch fish, scumbag taxcollectors; just average Joes doing their life when that life was invaded by Jesus Christ.

Kinda like me.

And for the first time I began to think…hey, maybe God could even use me!

And that was the first baby step that led to vocational youth/prison/church ministry that has now gone on for over forty decades. (what is such a young guy like me doing in such an old body???) Because God can use ANYthing and ANYone. With or without our permission.

Oh, and about the movie?

Billy Graham observed that though the movie was not his cup of tea, he did enjoy watching it, and his only complaint was that the story ended at the cross.

I was privileged to see/hear Doctor Graham three times. I never had a chance to talk with him.

But he was wrong.

It did not end at the cross.

You have to watch the movie to get it…but at the conclusion of the film all the actors are getting back on the bus (I told you you had to watch the movie to get it)…oops, not quite all…Jesus does not get aboard.

And the last scene is of Judas (interestingly played by a black man), the last to get on the bus, pausing for a moment, and looking over his shoulder as if to wonder where Jesus is…

I’m not an artistic man, but I think that is a not so subtle way of pointing to the resurrection.

If you’ve never seen it, watch it Bring your own bread. Crank the speakers. And let me know what you think.

Here’s a sample:


Most Known Bible Verse

No, the most known Bible verse is no longer John 3.16.

Nope…it’s Matthew 7.1, which reads:

“Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged.”

Now many (most?) who cite the verse don’t know the reference; and may well not even know it’s in the Bible.

But if you ever say anything remotely negative about anyone, the chances are 88.6 percent (yes, I made that up) that someone hearing it will scold you by ‘quoting the verse.’

If only these folks would understand the vitalness of context.

Here are a few sound bites, so to speak, from the rest of Matthew 7:

“Don’t give what is holy to DOGS or toss your pearls before PIGS…be on your guard against FALSE PROPHETS who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are RAVAGING WOLVES…”

So how in the world to you recognize someone is a dog, pig, false prophet, or ravaging wolf?

You judge.

So what was Jesus doing in Matthew 7.1?

Getting the crowds attention. Stretching to make a point.

In fact, out of context Matthew 7.1 is a falsehood.

Why?

You WILL be judged, no matter what.

Die without Christ and you have a date with the Great White Throne of God where the issue is punishment.

Die as a Christian and you have a date at the Judgment Seat of Christ, where the issue is rewards.

Those are the only two choices.

Oh, yeah, and by the way…this same Jesus also said:

Stop judging according to outward appearances; rather judge according to righteous judgment.” John 7.24

So how do you recognize if your judgment is “righteous” or unrighteous.

I don’t know how you do so, but here’s what works for me:

If it hurts me to judge, I think I’m okay.

If I find joy in judging, I know I am violating John 7.24.

I don’t always get it right…but I’m trying…

Because I know that’s what Jesus wants me to do –

Obey Matthew 7.1 in conjunction with John 7.24.