It’s the Gospel, Stupid!

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Isaiah 52:7How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (NIV 1984)

My Musings – In the spring of 1991, following an immensely successful invasion of Iraq, President Bush’s (the first one) approval rating was 90%.  He was considered unbeatable as he looked ahead to his reelection bid the following year.  Then, the economy began to sour, and by late summer of 1992 (just weeks before the election) 64% of Americans disapproved of his job performance.  With this dramatic reversal of fortune, the Clinton campaign’s slogan became “it’s the economy, stupid!”  The slogan’s intent was to keep the campaign focused on the real issue of that year’s presidential election – the economy, President Bush’s Achilles’ heel.  They could have lost their way and become side-tracked on less important or even non-essential issues and lost the election.  The slogan was meant to be the rallying cry to get them back on track to what was important in order to win the election. It did and they did.

I think evangelical Christianity is in need of a similar slogan today to get it back to its “prime directive” – It’s the Gospel, stupid!  My intent here is not to throw rocks at someone else’s “glass house,” because I consider myself to be an evangelical Christian.  But what does the term evangelical Christian mean anyway?  Here is an excerpt from someone else’s musings [with some editorializing by me thrown in] that might prove helpful ( from https://www.gotquestions.org/evangelical-Christian.html):

“In Western culture today, there are many caricatures of evangelical Christians. For some [perhaps an understatement], the term evangelical Christian is equivalent to ‘right-wing, fundamentalist Republican.’ There is no doubt that holding to the fundamentals of the Bible will result in a certain worldview and, yes, political [political maybe, moral certainly] beliefs. However, there is nothing about being an evangelical that demands a certain political party or affiliation [or gives them a monopoly on morality].”

“The term Christian essentially means ‘follower of Christ.’  The term evangelical comes from the Greek word that means “good news.” Evangelism is sharing the good news of the salvation that is available through Jesus Christ. An evangelical, then, is a person dedicated to promoting the good news about Jesus Christ. Combined, the description “evangelical Christian” is intended to indicate a believer in Jesus Christ who is faithful in sharing and promoting the good news.”

“A Christian is called [actually commissioned by Christ] to share [evangelize] the good news [Gospel], to preach God’s Word, and to set an example of [not dictate to] purity and integrity. If these callings require [require may be too strong of a term] political action, so be it. At the same time, evangelical Christians should not be sidetracked into abandoning our highest calling—sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

So, back to my musing.   It’s the Gospel, stupid!  Gospel is a word that is derived from the Anglo-Saxon godspell denoting “glad tidings” or “good news” (Baker encyclopedia of the Bible).  Among other definitions, stupid means  not intelligent, not sensible, not interesting or worthwhile (Merriam-Webster).

Evangelical Christians need not be apolitical, nor should they compromise their convictions or beliefs in the name of political expediency.  Speaking the truth in love is not mutually exclusive.  We should not speak the truth in an offensive or hateful manner, nor should the truth need to be silenced or watered down in order to keep peace and love.  While we cannot keep the world from hating us (Jesus said they would because they hated Him), nor finding the Gospel offensive (Paul said many would), we need not be hateful or offensive such that others find the “good news” to be “not intelligent, sensible, interesting or worthwhile” because of how we proclaim it.

My Advice – Let’s share what’s in our “lunchbox” with love and concern.  Let’s not beat others over the head with it in arrogance or self-righteousness.  It’s the Gospel, stupid! Let’s stay on task (get back on track).  Let’s help win the “election” for the lost.  Let’s keep our feet “beautiful” by bringing “good news,” proclaiming “peace,” bringing “good tidings,” and proclaiming “salvation.”  After all, its the only “campaign” with eternal consequences.  Our God reigns!

 

Responding Differently

1 Corinthians 4:12When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Christians are called to respond differently to things than the world would respond. We are not to return curses for curses, to resist persecution or respond to slander harshly.

My Advice – Be a blessing to others, even those who wish you ill, learn to endure hardship and offer kinds words to all even those who slander you. Do not respond in a worldly, but rather in a Christlike manner.

Thanks(and)giving

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Deuteronomy 8:10When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God.  (NIV 1984)

My Musings – We are celebrating Thanksgiving in the U.S. (I have readers and followers from other countries).  It originated with the Pilgrims as a harvest festival, and has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789, following a proclamation by the country’s first President George Washington (after a request by Congress no less).  Its celebration was intermittent until the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, when Thanksgiving became a federal holiday in 1863, during the American Civil War. Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” (Wikipedia)

As a nation, we have so much to be thankful for since that first Thanksgiving when the future might not have look so bright.  To a large extent, we (but not all) eat and are satisfied.  We’ve (but not all) built homes and settled down.  Our (but not all) bounty has increased and multiplied.  But perhaps also to a large degree, we (but also not all) have become proud.  Perhaps we’ve (but not all) forgotten Who is responsible for our blessings.  I think maybe (maybe not all) Congress has.

My Advice –  Give thanks to God, not just on the fourth Thursday of November, but every day.  Not just when we eat and are satisfied, but when we are in want.  Not just when we are settled in nice homes, but when we are left “out in the cold.”  Not just when our bounty is increasing and multiplying, but it is dwindling away.

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13, NIV 1984)

And when we are satisfied, when we are settled, when things are bountiful, let’s not forget that after the thanks comes giving.  For there are many, in our country and many more abroad, that have little to nothing to eat.  They have no shelter over their heads.  They have nothing to multiply (zero times infinity is still zero).

If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident. (Leviticus 25:35, NIV 1984, emphasis added).

God’s blessings to all my readers.

Where’s Brother Waldo?

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Romans 12:18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – All too often, whenever a potentially divisive issue is discussed, either the truth is compromised in the name of love, or love is compromised in the name of truth, as if the two (love and truth) were mutually exclusive. They are not. The reason we know they are not is that Christians are called to speak the truth in love.

  • Truth – Being prepared to speak the truth is more than merely knowing what we believe. It also means that we are able to provide clear reasons for why we hold the beliefs and convictions that we do. If we cannot do this, the truth may not be compromised (the truth remains the truth), but our credibility can certainly be questioned.
  • Love – We should also be prepared to communicate the truth in a gentle and respectful manner whenever called to do so. While we would expect the same from those with opposing beliefs and convictions (especially if they too are Christians) this is not always the case. When this is not the case, it is not an excuse to throw love out the window. For even if we are equipped with the full knowledge of the truth and can eloquently and convincingly communicate it “in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, [we are] only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” We merely end up winning the argument while losing the heart. In essence, “[we] gain nothing.
  • Truth and Love – “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle [beliefs, convictions], you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.” – Rick Warren
  • Conscience – We must remain faithful to both the truth (as the Holy Spirit instructs us in the truth) and love (as our Savior modeled for us). This is really the only way we can keep a clear conscience and maintain our credibility with others.

As we Christians watch our views become ever more unpopular in an increasingly polarized culture, the temptation to defend ourselves in vitriolic, even hateful, ways will grow. As we interact with others virtually or in our communities, we must remember our call to live like Jesus. We must not adopt secular rules of engagement regardless of whether culture is religious or irreligious.Ed Stetzer

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My Advice – Always do your best to take the high road.

 

Proven by Love

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John 13:35 – “All men will know that you are My disciples if you love one another.” (NIV 1978)

My Musing – Love. Little else is as captivating or inspiring as love. It is, perhaps, one of the most sought after and motivating experiences that anyone can have. As a subject matter it permeates movies, songs, books, television and advertising. Yet Continue reading “Proven by Love”

In Your Hearts

Zechariah 7:9 – This is what the Lord Almighty says, “Administer true justice, show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – This is living a transformed life. This is living the life of Christ. This is what God saved us for. He saved us by grace, to transform our lives so that we would do good works.

My Advice – I have little advice in this, because you have a tender heart already. My only advice is to continue being this way. You have left childhood behind and are leaving adolescence behind. You are entering the adult world of work, obligation and struggle. Do not let your heart grow calloused by the things you see, hear or experience. Rise above them and continue to have the heart of Christ.

Don’t Look Down

Obadiah 1:12You should not look down on your brother in the day of his misfortune. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – When God raises us up, we should not respond by looking down on those less fortunate. We’ve been down before and should not forget what it was like, and have compassion on others.

My Advice – As God blesses you, do not forget your friends and family who may be not as fortunate as you.