Monthly Archives: July 2013

What’s So Good About the Good News?

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
Because the LORD has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”

Isaiah 61:1-3

Jesus heard from the Father that he was His Messiah when he got baptized in the Jordan river by John the Baptist. Then he knocked around for a few weeks, performing a few early miracles. And then, driven by a desire to know exactly what a Son of God was supposed to do, he spent 40 days fasting in a lonely place and praying. And after he returned from that period of prayer and testing, he walked into a synagogue in Galilee, took the initiative to read the haftorah portion of the week*, and read the passage at the top of this post. “Today,” he told them, “this is fulfilled in your hearing.” (See Luke 4:14-21)

When Jesus was first asked to declare the good news, full of the Holy Spirit and after seeking God earnestly, that’s what he said. So if we want to understand the good news, we need to pay attention to how he described it.

When Jesus is fully present and we have received goodness from his hand:

  • Broken hearts are healed
  • Captives are liberated
  • Prisoners are freed
  • People who have been waiting for God’s favor, receive it
  • People who have been waiting for God to execute vengeance for them, see it
  • Those who have been mourning rejoice instead
  • They wear garlands instead of ashes
  • Where they used to faint, now they praise

Short version, the good news is that whatever is wrong in the absence of God, gets fixed in His presence.

Now, that’s good news — if it’s true.

And it’s true, but a lot of us have yet to experience it in full. God’s work is seldom instantaneous, it unfolds over time. This is why it is important to persevere in God — because those who wait on the Lord always eventually receive what has been promised. But sometimes it takes Him a while to bring us to the place where we can receive from Him what He wants to give us.

We get only as much of God as we are willing to expose of ourselves to Him. Most of the time we are not ready to draw close to God. We keep ourselves aloof from Him, afraid of what He might demand of us if we get too close. We busy ourselves with distractions and imagine that we already have everything that’s available. Meanwhile, the solution to every need of ours is in Him, and He will make it available to us if we will only draw close to receive it. The absence of an answer is never because God does not want us to have it; it’s always because we’re far away from Him. His will is always “Yes.”

I explain this in more detail in the sermon entitled “The Eternal Yes,” on the sermons page. Give it a listen.

You may be thinking “this is the prosperity gospel,” and that it is too good to be true. You’d be half right. I’m not saying that God wants us all to be as rich as Donald Trump and live in huge houses, but I am saying that whatever we need is available in Him, in proportion to how deeply we are willing to surrender to Him. And yes, it is too good to be true. But it’s true nonetheless.

Just because few of us have drawn close enough to God to receive as much of Him as is available, does not mean it’s not available. It means we have been content with sub-normal Christianity. There’s no virtue in that.

He who did not spare His own son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, give us all things? (Rom 8:32) If your experience of God has not been like that, you are missing things that are yours by inheritance. Setting right whatever has been wrong is the good news. It is God’s nature to heal what is broken. It is always — always — His will to do so.

Never doubt the goodness of God. Never doubt His will to do good… to you. Instead, set yourself to draw close to God persistently, expecting that the closer you get to Him, the more of His goodness (as well as His truth, His correction, and His cleansing) will be yours.

*Normal synagogue practice would call for a reading from the Torah, followed by a reading from the prophets. The second reading is called the haftorah portion. Any Jewish male who has received bar mitzvah is qualified to read either of these portions. Apparently visitors were invited to speak to the gathering and sometimes to read the haftorah, since both Jesus (Luke 4:16-17) and Paul (Acts 13:14-15) took advantage of this practice.

Exposing Ourselves to God

It was not God who dove into the bushes to hide when the humans sinned in Eden, it was Man. God does not hide Himself from us; we hide ourselves from Him.

If you ever wonder why God does not show up at your meetings, wonder no longer. It’s not God who fails to show up, it’s us. He’s always willing to draw close to us; it is we who are unwilling to draw close to Him.

This is why God said things to Israel like “Return to Me, and I will return to you,” (Malachi 3:7). He’s not saying “You first.” He’s saying “I’ve already done my part, so if you want to see Me, you have to change.”

This is also why the Psalmist says “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18) We can fool ourselves into thinking we’re cleaner than we are, but God is never fooled. Before we’ve been completely honest with God about the stuff that’s going on inside us, He’s going to seem far away. But if we tell Him exactly what’s going on, He’ll be near to help us. That’s not by His choice, but ours.

So the writer of Hebrews encourages us,

…let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful…

Heb 10:22-23

So the real question is, “In what ways am I unwilling to see God today?” If we ask that, He will answer, and will help us alter whatever it is we’re using to block Him out from some part of our lives. And the closer we get to Him, the more life we get from Him. All good things are available from the Father, if we just draw close enough to get them.

Come further up, and further in!

Why I’m Here

Western civilization is coming unzipped.

Christianity built the West. It was Christ who gave us reason. It was Christ who gave us the sciences and the arts. It was Christ who gave us contract law and free markets. It was Christ who gave us universal literacy and individual rights.

And now we are in the fists of a demented ideology that appears to have been formulated in hell to unzip Western civilization and replace it with a Tyranny of the Self-Deluded. Those least worthy of leading think themselves so superior to the rest of us that they confer on themselves the right to tell us all how to live. They are unmaking civilization and replacing it with their delusions.

I devoted a few years to blogging in an attempt to address this through politics. It was satisfying for a while and good therapy, but politics does not hold the answer. At the root of all the good in our civilization, stands Christ. At the root of the deterioration, we have rejected Christ.

So, I have devoted myself to teaching Christian religion to those who want to learn it. My goal is to rebuild the foundation, so that when the edifice of the West crumbles into dust, as it is already well on its way to doing, there will be something of value on which to start rebuilding.

Welcome to the school of Christ, where the Truth will make you free.