Archive for January 6, 2012
“Troublemakers listen to troublemakers.” Pr 17:4 CEV
The moment somebody begins to gossip stop them and ask, “Why do I need to know this? Have you talked to the person you’re talking about?” Wise up; people who gossip can’t be trusted! The Bible says that when you listen to gossip you are a troublemaker: “Troublemakers listen to troublemakers.” And Jude adds: “These are the people who divide you, people whose thoughts are only of this world” (Jude v.19 NCV). Those are serious charges. And the Internet has only made the problem worse because now you can spread gossip faster and wider, and remain anonymous while you are doing it. Paul speaks about those who “devour one another…[and your whole fellowship]” (Gal 5:15 AMP). He says they should be avoided and disciplined. When was the last time you saw that happen in church? Solomon said, “A gossip reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a babbler” (Pr 20:19 NRS). In other words, “keep clear of them.” The quickest way to end gossip is to confront those who are spreading it. The church is not a “tell all” television show where we expose people and hang out their dirty linen for all the world to see. Quite the opposite: “Fire goes out for lack of fuel, and tensions disappear when gossip stops” (Pr 26:20 TLB). Jesus taught us how to deal with personal difficulties when they arise: (1) “Work it out between the two of you.” (2) “If he (she) won’t listen, take one or two others along.” (3) “If he (she) still won’t listen, tell the church [leadership]” (Mt 18:15-17 TM). That’s Christ’s way, and it must be our way too.
How do we know God? The answer to this question flows from the essence of Epiphany.
Today is Epiphany, the day after the twelve-day season of Christmas (or in some liturgical calendars, the twelfth day of the Christmas season). The English word “Epiphany” comes from the Greek word epiphaneia, which means “appearing” or “revealing.” Epiphany focuses on God’s self-revelation in Christ. On this day, some Christian traditions pay special attention to the visit of the Magi, whose encounter with the Christ child represents the revealing of Christ to all nations. Other traditions focus on the baptism of Jesus, especially the voice from heaven that identifies Jesus as God’s Son. In either case, the emphasis is upon God making himself known to the world through Jesus, the divine Son.
The theological essence of Epiphany is found in 2 Timothy 1:10: “And now [God] has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News.” If you were reading this verse in Greek, you’d find the word epiphaneia where we have “appearing.” God has made “all of this” plain to us through the epiphany of Christ.
But what is “all of this”? We find an answer in the previous verse: “For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.” The original language makes it clear that “all of this” is God’s plan (or purpose) centered in God’s grace. In other words, through Jesus, God not only reveals himself to us, but also he makes known his plan to save us, a plan saturated with grace.
On the day of Epiphany, we are reminded that if we want to know God, we must turn our eyes to Jesus. In his words and deeds, and most of all in his sacrificial death, he reveals God to us. In Jesus, we see and experience the grace of God. So, on this special day, let us thank God for making himself known to us in such a marvelous and gracious way. Moreover, let us renew our commitment to sharing this good news of God’s grace through Christ with the whole world.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Can you think of some specific attributes of God’s character that you have come to know through Jesus? Are there people in your life with whom you might share the good news of God’s love in Christ? Are you willing to ask the Lord to use you to communicate his good news to them?
PRAYER: Gracious God, today we thank you for making yourself known to us in Jesus Christ. Thank you for helping us to know your character, your glory, and your grace.
All praise be to you, O God, because you have revealed yourself to us.
All praise be to you, Lord Jesus, because you have shown us the Father, and because you have embodied divine grace so that we might receive it.
All praise be to you, Holy Spirit, for helping us to live in that grace each day.
Fill us afresh with your power, Spirit of God, so that we might share the good news of Christ with the world…beginning with our friends and neighbors. Amen.
The human heart can love the human Jesus as it can love the human Lincoln, but the spiritual love of Jesus is something altogether different from and infinitely superior to the purest love the human heart can know. Indeed it is not possible to love Jesus rightly except by the Holy Spirit. Only the Third Person of the Trinity can love the Second Person in a manner pleasing to the Father. The spiritual love of Jesus is nothing else but the Spirit in us loving Christ the Eternal Son. Christ, after the flesh, receives a great deal of fawning attention from the liberal and the modernist, but love that is not the outflow of the indwelling Holy Spirit is not true spiritual love and cannot be acceptable to God. We do Christ no honor when we do no more than to give Him the best of our human love. Even though we love Him better than we love any other man, still it is not enough if He merely wins first place in competition with Socrates or Walt Whitman. He is not rightly loved until He is loved as very God of very God, and the Spirit within us does the loving. There is much in present-day gospel circles that illustrates the distinction we are pointing out. A great many loud protestations of love for Christ leave the discerning heart with the impression that they are but sounding brass and tinkling cymbals. Innumerable sweet love ballads are sung to Jesus by persons who have never known the inward illumination of the Holy Spirit or felt the shock that comes with a true sight of the sinful pollution of nature.
The U.S. economy is in serious trouble. Unemployment is up, the housing market is down, and the net worth of average Americans had fallen by 6.7% over the past three years. Moreover, there’s no reason to believe the immediate future will be any better than the recent past. That is, unless you’re affiliated with Planned Parenthood, the abortion giant that has benefited immensely from the fact that taxpayer dollars have continually poured into its coffers no matter what the condition of the economy might be.
As a matter of fact, while the worth of the average American household continued its decline over the last year, the net assets of Planned Parenthood topped $1,000,000,000.00.
Just think of how proud Planned Parenthood’s Board of Directors Chair Valerie McCarthy must be. While other Americans are struggling to live in such hard times, her organization is taking every penny it can get for killing preborn babies to the tune of 329,445 a year – more than the entire population of St. Louis—(for the 2009-2010 fiscal year). In exchange for stopping these hundreds of thousands of heartbeats, Planned Parenthood received 46% of their annual budget via funds taken from the American people through taxation and dispersed among current politicians’ favorite special interests.
Again, think about it: Planned Parenthood’s largesse from U.S. taxpayers for 2009-2010 was $487,400,000.00, and for the first time, Planned Parenthood topped $1 billion in net assets. Is this not blood money?
Ironically, however, in her forward to Planned Parenthood’s annual financial report, McCarthy doesn’t mention abortion even once. Rather, she touts figures that demonstrate Planned Parenthood’s zeal to get condoms and birth control pills into the hands of millions of teenagers and to screen for the sexually-transmitted diseases that inevitably result from the licentiousness engendered by the organization’s sex-ed programs. These are programs that pretend young people are only (to borrow from Madonna with apologies to the reader) “material girls (and boys) living in a material world,” rather than spiritual beings.
This fairytale world of happy and healthy kids-just-having-fun described by McCarthy doesn’t exist, nor is Mayberry to be found in the lobby of a Planned Parenthood clinic. Rather, the figures McCarthy cites are eclipsed by the shadow of death that hangs over every service Planned Parenthood provides. Were this not so, McCarthy would have proudly announced that “abortion procedures made up 91% of Planned Parenthood’s services for pregnant women” in 2010, according to the Susan B. Anthony List.
Here’s the bottom line: Planned Parenthood is raking in monies hand over fist. However, what they seem reluctant to admit is that it’s blood money. And I guess that’s understandable, especially since the organization spends so much time trying to convince Americans there’s more to Planned Parenthood than abortion.
Outside of trying to convince us it’s not an abortion mill, about the only other thing Planned Parenthood does is perform abortions.