Archive for May, 2011
It was an email that carried the news. It was one of those things that catches you off guard and makes you think. I needed to express my appreciation, my honor of their work, so I wrote my email and addressed it to their daughter. It was my way of giving honor to whom honor is due, based on Romans 13:7.
I was told yesterday that Mrs. Scott went to be with the Lord that morning. You will note that even after all these years it was and still is Brother and Mrs. Scott. I have been thinking a lot about both of them since receiving that news. And about their Legacy.
I was a young, immature know it all when I came to Freed Hardeman College in the summer of 1967. Hopefully I have grown out of at least two of those afore mentioned items. That summer I enrolled in your Dad’s world history class and entered a world of discovery. As a result I think I took every class your Dad offered into Acts and Church History. I also had the opportunity to have your Mom for British Literature when I learned the prologue to the “Cranberry” Tales. (my name for them). Which to this day I try to work those words into many of my presentations (I learned it so I want to use it).
As you already know, both of your parents worked with me on my commentaries on WFHC-FM. I would write, they would comment in red, I would rewrite, they would comment in red again and finally when they approved, I would record and air the result of our collaborations. There were times when it wasn’t so pleasant, probably for all three of us, but we kept at it.
When I came to Herald of Truth one of the first things I noted as I looked at our donor base was your Mom’s name. In fact I wrote on her receipt asking if she had taught at Freed and in fact had she been my teacher. Her response was that in fact she was. For 29 years your parents contributed to the work of Herald of Truth, most of that time sending their gifts monthly.
Your parent’s legacy is multifaceted. They have helped more people know Jesus through their gifts of money to Herald of Truth, their local church and numerous other efforts that they championed. They taught students not just the facts of their respective disciplines, but also about God and His Son.
There is a personal legacy that I hold. For they shared with me a quiet determination to finish even when things become unpleasant. They shared with me a sense of discovery and appreciation for things that I view as different. They shared their time, energy and counsel with a young, immature, know it all, who years later still cherishes those memories.
You already know these things from your personal closeness to your family. I hope knowing that when your Mom joins your Dad in Heaven, there will be people there they know and then someone will approach them and say: “ you don’t know me, but you taught so in so, and they taught so in so, and they taught so in so, who taught me about Jesus. So I wanted to thank you for sharing your faith with all of us.” I pray that this will ease a bit of the loss you feel.
We should acknowledge those influences before the eulogies. Why do we want until after someone dies to acknowledge what they meant to us? Shouldn’t we tell them before we unable to tell them?
Whom do you need to honor? What did they do to make your life different?
Good news: kids under twelve eat free. When I see offers like that, it really doesn’t excite me. I think it is more like interesting news. My children are grown, so unless the offer is about old folks eating free, I do not get too excited. Good news is something that I can participate in; interesting news is what other people participate in. The Bible talks about good news. If you believe it, it is the best news ever. If not, it is something interesting to talk about. That good news is gospel.
Christians like that word. It is also a word used in our culture to mean something that is absolutely real and true. But in the Bible it is used to mean good news. Preaching the gospel is preaching good news. Gospel truth is good news truth. Believing the gospel is believing good news. The apostle Paul wrote in the Bible that the good news is what he preached and what is most important. Good news is what saves us. So what is this “good news”?
Paul explains that the good news is that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and was raised on the third day. Jesus died to pay for my sins, my offenses against God. All the things I did that I should not have done. All the things I should have done and did not. The things that keep me from a holy God have been paid for by God’s own son. Not only that, but he came back to life. Jesus, God’s son, paid for my sins by his death on the cross and God brought him to life again. That is good news. That is great news.
This good news is not just something for me to intellectually acknowledge, but something I get to participate in. In another one of the books in the Bible, Paul reminds us that our baptism was sharing in the death and burial of Jesus. And just as he was raised from the dead, we are raised to a new life. Because we shared in his death, we will share in his resurrection. I can live with a holy God forever. I am living good news. I was crucified with Christ and the old me died. Now I live for Jesus and someday I will be raised from the dead to live in God’s presence forever.
Living good news. That is what we Christians are.
Forty days after being raised from the dead, Jesus Christ was taken to heaven. At that time, his followers were told, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11) Christians have been waiting for His return ever since.
Some people think they have figured out exactly when that will be. You may have seen the billboards along the side of the road. I don’t question the sincerity of the people who put those signs up, but I’m convinced they’re wrong.
Years ago, a man of God felt the need to comfort some of his friends. People around them were talking about the timing of the end of the world, and he wanted to reassure them that the rumors they were hearing were not true. This man, named Paul, wrote: “Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2)
Paul had just written to these believers about Jesus’ return, but he didn’t want them worrying about when that would be. He didn’t want them trying to calculate dates nor decipher times. So he tells them: It will be like a thief in the night.
There will be no billboards along the highway. There will be no Mayan calendars announcing the end of the world. Just as thieves arrive unexpectedly, Jesus will return without warning.
For early Christians, the idea that their Lord was coming back was an exciting one. They wanted to be prepared when He came. In that same letter, Paul said, “So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.” (1 Thessalonians 5:6) If we’re awake, we won’t be surprised by a thief in the night.
We should be watching. There should be an expectant edge to our lives, as we wait for the day when our hopes are realized. We don’t know if that will be today or a thousand years from now. But we know that it will be a wonderful time for those longing to see Jesus. As Paul wrote to his friend Timothy: “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
Jesus is coming back. We don’t know when. But we know it will be a great day.
This is a statement I often hear in conversations with people who are not Christians. And I sometimes hear this from those who are trying to live the Jesus lifestyle. I am a preacher and I have this feeling sometimes. So if you have been afraid to start reading God’s Word because you have trouble understanding it, or you are afraid you will not understand it, let me share some ideas that have been helpful to me.
First of all, it is true that some parts of the Holy Bible are difficult. Peter and Paul were two of the most active preachers in the early history of the church. Both of them wrote letters that are in the Bible. Peter said that some of Paul’s writings are hard to understand. He also warned us that there are people who will distort these and other Scriptures in a way that leads to their destruction. So I know there are some things in Scripture I may not understand. It is okay to not understand everything.
Remember that the Bible was written for one main purpose: to help you know Jesus. The gospel of John explains that it was written so that we might believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and by believing that we can have life in his name. Jesus did many things that are not recorded in the Bible. In fact, if everything Jesus did was written down, the whole world would not have room for the books it would take. But what is written is so we can know Jesus. So we can believe in Jesus. So we can live like Jesus. So we can live forever with Jesus. When I have trouble understanding the Bible, I try to remember that the focus is Jesus. He is the important thing to learn from the Bible. God gave us the Bible so we could know his Son.
Finally, you need to know that there is help for understanding the Bible. There is a story in the book of Acts about a man who was reading his Bible but did not understand it. God had a Jesus disciple connect with him to explain the Scripture. When they began to talk about the Scripture being read, the Christian told him the good news of Jesus. The Ethiopian believed it, acted on it, and found life in Jesus.
We can too.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved to read. One of my greatest joys during the summer was our biweekly trip to the library. I would carefully seek out the seven books I was allowed to check out, knowing that these would have to last me for the next two weeks. I rarely get to indulge myself as I did back then, but I still enjoy sitting down with a good book.
In the western world, there is a book that has come to be known as THE Good Book. It’s the Bible, the bestselling book of all time. It’s often quoted and even more frequently referred to, yet many people have little idea of what is really inside its pages.
The Bible is actually a collection of books, dozens of books that discuss everything from family relations to the end of the world. What’s more, a number of the books in the Bible are actually compilations, the grouping together of other writings. For example, what we know as the Book of Psalms is made up of five books, and each of those books is an anthology of poems. We could even say that Psalms is a compilation of compilations!
One thing that I appreciate about the Bible is the diversity of material contained within its pages. Many people assume that it’s all “Thou shalts” and “Thou shalt nots,” but that’s not true at all. There are rules and regulations, that’s true, but there is also history, humor, wise sayings and personal messages. If you read carefully, you can find every human emotion represented, from despair to exultation, from fear to confident peace. To the surprise of many, there is even some romantic verse included.
When men sit down to write about religion, the result can often be dry and detached from reality. When God provided us with religious writing, He filled it with multiple genres that present the best and worst of humankind. He used drama and word play. He spoke of everyday life and questions of eternity. He showed us man’s failures and man’s successes. Above all, He revealed Himself to us.
I don’t get to make those summer trips to the library. But I do get to spend time in God’s library, the Book of Books which is the Bible. I hope that you take time to do the same.
If you’re new to studying the Bible, I’d suggest you start by studying the life of Jesus. Try the “Discovering Jesus” course on this website. Or you can do the “Life Made New” course if you feel that you are already familiar with the basic stories of the Bible.