One who finished well – my mother

31 01 2017

June E. Rasmussen of Turlock, California went home to be with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, whom she faithfully loved and served for 93 years, on January 30, 2017.  She is remembered as a loving wife, mother and grandmother, a selfless missionary and follower of Christ, and a friend to many.

 

June was born on June 3, 1923 in New Britain, Connecticut, and was raised in Bristol, Connecticut.  She received her nursing degree from the New Britain General Hospital School of Nursing, and upon graduating, served as a 1st Lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corp serving her country in the Philippines and Japan, primarily treating returning POWs.  She settled in Seattle, WA where she met an FBI agent, Gordon Rasmussen, and within 6 months they were married.

They both felt God calling them to full-time ministry and within two months after their wedding, they were on a boat to Japan to serve as missionaries with the Pocket Testament League, and later (with four kids in tow) to Nigeria, Africa.

They also served together in pastoral ministries in Chicago, IL, Everett, WA, Redding, CA and Turlock where Gordon served as pastor of the Monte Vista Chapel.  In addition to being active in ministry, June was a stay-at-home mom to their four children.

June is preceded in death by her husband of 59 years, Gordon Rasmussen, her parents, Edwin and Corinne Edman, her sister Corinne Butcher, her brother John Edman, and her daughter-in-law, Lyn Rasmussen. She is survived by her four children Jack (and Bonnie) Rasmussen of Petaluma, CA, Bob Rasmussen of Federal Way, WA, Richard (and Pam) Rasmussen of San Gabriel, CA and Diane (and Scott) Hefner of Macon GA, along with nine grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at Monte Vista Chapel in Turlock, CA on Saturday, February 11, 2017 at 2:30 p.m.  All are welcome.  In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a contribution in memory of June Rasmussen to Near Frontiers at P.O.Box 25955, Colorado Springs, CO 80936, or Gideons International, P.O. Box 2143, Petaluma, CA 94953. Glory be to God for a life well lived for Him.


Here is a bit more of my story, and my ministry focus

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Global business of humanitarian aid

16 01 2017

I am watching a program on Netflix called POVERTY, INC. This excellent documentary seeks to demonstrate how the humanitarian aid industry has, in effect, become a global business which benefits the donor who possesses the power, while stripping motivation from the people who grow dependent on aid from outside. I recommend you view this program.

At minute 42, the show describes a “ladder” out of poverty, the steps of which empower people locked in poverty to gain the confidence to climb out of chronic poverty. These “steps” are:

  1. Legal protection from theft and violence
  2. Justice in the courts
  3. Legal title to one’s land
  4. Freedom to start and register a business
  5. Links to wider circles of exchange

The program argues that the successful effort to strengthen Europe after World War II (called the Marshall Plan) has not had this strengthening effect in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Needed aid after natural disasters has turned into “unnatural disasters” wherein aid agencies overstay the crisis and create dependency. Why work hard to develop local initiatives when the market is flooded with foods and goods from outside for free?

What is needed, purports POVERTY,INC., is for outside groups to help reconstruct the ladder. I recall hearing John Perkins comment on the oft-repeated analogy of the fishing pole. He said that it is better to teach a man to fish with his own pole than to continually give the man fish. But, Perkins added, he must also have access to the pond.

Are their agencies which, rather than perpetually handing out aid, are empowering local people by building the ladder?

What can one person do to contribute toward a solution instead of ignorantly perpetuating the problem?

(photocredit: WPphotosmart.

Poverty, Inc. website

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A real hope for racial equality

15 01 2017

In light of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I write out of my burden for our wounded nation. For my African-American friends who I believe when they tell me of their experiences with institutional racism, and for those in the privileged class who are prone to hear but not listen, look but not perceive the plight of so many of our fellow citizens.  So I write briefly to hopefully add light and a challenge:

1. “Racial equality” will never happen across the United States.

2. Cultural and economic interdependence is embedded in the true church.

Let me seek to prove these statements:

First, “Racial equality” will never happen across the United States.

Dr. King, who is a person in American history I deeply admire, invoked Biblical themes in his blend of Christian ministry and social action. One only need read the brilliant and beautiful “I have a dream” speech to hear the echoes of the prophet Isaiah (in chapter 40) who foresaw mountains being leveled and valleys lifted. Isaiah’s forecast referred to making a highway for a visiting king, the Lord.

That hints at the reason I say racial equality will never happen across the U.S., because America is not equivalent to the people of God. I wish it were different, but a secular state like America can never muster the selflessness and compassion needed to bring racial equality. As much as I believe that the sacred and the spiritual should not be separated, this is one case where the distinction is necessary. 

The greed, love of power, clinging to comfort and privilege are too embedded in our secular country to expect that which only a sacred people can effect. Government will not bring equality. A movement of citizens will not bring justice.  This leads to a word of hope.

Second, Cultural and economic interdependence is embedded in the true church.

I have sought to choose my words carefully. When I say that racial equality will never happen “across the United States,” I refer to the kind of broad scale transformation which some seem to demand when they speak of America changing completely. Evil forces which divide and destroy will not let this happen.

However, the true church of Jesus Christ offers hope of supplying enclaves of interdependence between people of all ethnicites, cultures, and social standings. Many scriptures support this truth, and I will here cite just one. The Apostle Paul writes about the “body of Christ,” i.e. all those, everywhere, who have placed their faith in the saving work of Christ alone (His sacrificial death, His burial, and His bodily resurrection). In calling this massive host of people a “body,” Paul says that we are inseparable from one another and cannot live out our purpose without each other. We are spiritually and practically interdependent.

The chapter containing this teaching (1 Corinthians 12) primarily refers to the interdependence of Christians with regard to “spiritual gifts” such as teaching, healing, and administration. But there is a reference to social issues embedded in this teaching that is easily overlooked and therefore ignored:

“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free–and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12:13 New King James Version)

All genuine believers in Jesus Christ, no matter what their descent or language, whether they are privileged or trapped in cycles of obligatory service, are dependent on each other. The love of Christ, and our love for Christ, is expected by the sacred writings to so dominate our way of life that the divisiveness of society is eradicated by the oneness of our faith. Conformity to the character of Jesus is to create in His followers a “new man” that reflects Him (Col. 3:10-11).

I do not say that it is pointless to work for justice and equality in society at large.  My plea is that we who truly know Christ intentionally demonstrate that the only true way to bring hope to the hopeless and strength to the weak is by realizing our interdependence on each other in the body of Christ. We are incomplete without each other. The new community in Christ can only reflect Christ when we intentionally love those whom the world expects us to hate.

Photocredit: WPImageSmart

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Reflections on growing up at Monte Vista Chapel

11 01 2017

This is a talk I gave in May, 2006, at Monte Vista Chapel in Turlock.

by Bob Rasmussen

It was in May of 1966 that a new church began in this town.

Everyone I knew was gathering out in an alfalfa field. And I of course, always in the midst of the action, was home…swollen in the neck like a puff adder; I had a raging case of the mumps.

Nothing could pull my mother from the side of any of her kids when they were sick. She nursed me though a feverish firestorm of malaria in Nigeria. But on that day in May when I lay sick in bed, my mother, ever caring, was right there…out in the alfalfa field at the corner of Monte Vista and Berkeley; for even she couldn’t miss the birth of something so important as a tender, excited church!

And that is a bit of the story I have been asked to tell…

 

Chapter 1: Simpler Times

The early days bristled with excitement. It was enough just to be together. Following the inaugural gathering on Warner Johnson’s field, someone found a building available in town to use as a temporary church for those early months; it was the Assyrian American Hall, over by what would become Donneley Park. We would come in and pick up Saturday night’s martini glasses and mop up the spills on the floor. That’s when I deduced that a “highball” wasn’t a bad pitch.

The place wasn’t outfitted with classrooms, so we would gather under trees for Sunday School. On cold or rainy days, we’d pile into cars. Stan Johnson, Pete Lindquist, Larry Sanders and that gang met in Mr. Duarte’s car to stay out of the rain. We steamed up the windows talking about Moses, Jesus and how avoid girls. That’s how young we were.

 

Chapter 2: “How Great Thou Art” and other musical highlights

Our first song leader was a big, smiling Swede named Joel Nicholausen. I always figured he was a full time, 7 day a week song leader, because he was such a natural. He would hold the songbook in his left hand and lean out over the platform with a jerky right-handed gesture and a huge beaming smile that made you either sing louder or chuckle about all the fun Joel seemed to be having with all 10 verses of “How Thou Art.”

The two solo heavyweights in those days were Wally Lindquist and Betty Bessera.  No one has ever wafted to the heights Betty did when she’d sing “He Could Have Called Ten Thousand Angels.” When she sang it, you knew Jesus could have done just that.

Then there was Wally Lindquist. Wally’s winsome tenor voice always made the point in just the spirit it needed to be sung. But God took Him home way too early and that duty fell to Gordy Fredeen, who also rang true.

Speaking of music, the king of instruments—that’s the trumpet—used to reign supreme around here. I missed more high Cs on the platforms around this place than I care to remember. Doris Anderson, my father-in-law Dick Perrin, and a slew of other music aficionados passed through these walls and let the glory of brass ring out.

 

Chapter 3: The Quiet Men Who Were My Heroes

Young boys watch and learn. I observed that great men who build a church are usually serving behind the scenes. Men like Kenny Larson, who after retiring from his job as a postal worker, gave himself selflessly to cleaning anything that needed it. It was from him I learned how to clean a dirty restroom to the glory of God.

Gene Schultz, planted most of the towering trees that now shade our cars,  mowed these lawns, weeded the flowerbeds, and performed a thousand thankless tasks with never a complaint; he showed his love for Jesus by adorning these grounds in a beautiful way.

Oscar Jerner was a huge man with an even bigger heart. In Oscar I saw the joy of telling anyone that Jesus came and died for their sins.

Roy and Margaret Nordell showed me hospitality and big-hearted generosity.

Oscar & Dorothy Lindberg lived a prayerful reverence, and faithful friendship to which I still aspire.

From Hube and Ping Nielsen I learned you don’t have to like everything to still be supportive.

I watched one of my age mates blossom from a great basketball player at Turlock High School into a fervent evangelist. Bill Larson still sets an example for me to talk boldly of Christ.

There was a Wednesday morning men’s prayer meeting in those days. Not a lot of talk…a brief passage of Scripture, then the guys peeled off into small groups, kneeled around chairs and interceded like this church couldn’t do it unless God showed up.

 

Chapter 4: Troubled times

There are always hard patches in the life of a church—times when misunderstandings come along, when it is easier to complain than extend grace. Monte Vista has had its share of those rocky pathways, and I think on a few occasions have been targeted by Satan’s most deceptive ways.

As a formative Christian, I learned much from observing these times, by watching how ugly the sinful nature can be in normally godly men. I learned not to trust appearances, for some men are smaller in character than they seem, while others prove larger than they looked at first.

There was a particularly rough season when, from where I stood, one man and only one stayed objective and sought peace from the middle ground. Bob Johns wasn’t a tall man by stature, but I saw a giant of character in his heart.

There was also a time when it seems an angel may have stood in this sanctuary. Our body was called upon to extend forgiveness to a brother caught in terrible sin. A moderating pastor asked if we could forgive and for a few moments there was silence. Then from the back spoke a man who was unknown to us, exhorting us to of course forgive; which we did, and restored a broken man to the path of obedience, a path he has continued to walk to this day.

A while back, a young dad sought me out and asked me over breakfast if he should leave the church. He wasn’t sure he liked the direction it was going or the food that was being served up. I told him he was a free agent and he should go where he could fellowship without a bitter spirit. But I also said that a church is like a family. When a family goes through good times, it gives you strength—makes  you smile. But no family always has it good; there are low times when relationships are tough or ministries frankly stink; but you don’t resign from your family, because there are things you need to learn from those hardships. Well, he listened intently over scrambled eggs, but ended up moving on anyway. I don’t blame him, but here’s the thing…God is committed to teaching us perseverance; so why are we surprised when He tries to teach it to us in church?

 

Chapter 5: My Folks

Unless I’m missing someone, this church has had five pastors, and every one of them left a positive fingerprint on my life.

The first one was my father.  My dad has always been a mild-mannered man. But it wasn’t but a few months after our family moved down to the flatlands of central California that dad realized change was brewing. I would never favor a church starting out from a parting of the ways between Christians, but then sometimes events take their own course and it’s only for a pastor to recognize that if he doesn’t take the lead his successor will have to. And so a new church met out in the farm on this corner. Presently, that growing field has become a harvest field of souls, with newcomers moving in on all sides, all having a muted cry inside for a touch of something true and lasting.

It’s easy to overlook my mother’s role in the early days of this church because hers were quiet contributions. If anyone could urge a church into maturity by sheer force of will and prayer it was her. She prayed for every meeting, hoped for every sermon, cared about every member, and looked for every visitor to return. She hosted staff and missionaries, set out coffee pots well before choir practice, and prayed youth groups safely home from mountaintops.

My father was at his best when teaching the Word of God from chapter one verse one until the numbers ran out. That was his way, his passion, and frankly, his gift to this young church for the 17 years he stood at this pulpit. Awhile back I heard Jolyn DeGrazia say that all she learned about the Bible she learned from my dad. I’m sure that’s an overstatement, but I know there are a few people who thank God for the Biblical foundation they got from Dad’s teaching. And just as important is when a man or woman reminds me that it was my parent’s steady influence that caused them to enter the ministry or head out to the mission field.

 

Chapter 6: Pastors

As I started to say, all five pastors encouraged me on my way.

Blaine Bishop followed my father with a ministry of calming nerves, soothing ruffled feathers, comforting with down-home wisdom laced with bequiling humor. Folks here loved Dr Bishop. I remember coming up from LA to visit him, needing the encouragement of a favorable response to our call to go to Africa as missionaries. Pastor Bishop heard our story and said he was sure the church could do something for us. And he was right.

Pastor Dick Hatfield was pastor here while we got ready to leave for Kenya. I remember we needed to raise $10,000 for a vehicle, and we wanted to get their before the school year was to begin for our daughters Lauren and Heather. I was amazed when Pastor Hatfield put it all on the line one Sunday night, asking the church to give the entire amount in one single offering! That man showed me faith and courage, and I still take strength from the fact that God answered that prayer and that this church family rose to such an important occasion for those young missionaries.

We were living in Kenya when we received news that Dr. Roy Price had been asked to serve as Monte Vista’s next senior pastor. I recall taking one of his sermon tapes on the bus with me as we traveled to a ministry trip. I remember distinctly his talking about his own struggle with burn-out in the ministry, how he sought the help he needed and slowly got back to wholeness. I thought to myself, and later commented from this podium, that I consider it an honor to learn from a man with that kind of transparency. It was that genuineness that ministered deeply to us when, having returned from Africa, my wife Lyn was stricken with leukemia. Pastor Roy and the elders came to our home to pray for her healing—I was so glad to have a pastor that believed in miracles, offered by one who had shed his own tears.

When I think of Pastor Ken VanVleit I think of graciousness. He has invited me to preach more times than I could accept, and has always taken time for a burrito to talk over ministry and family matters. He is my friend, a missions-minded leader, and just about the most multi-talented pastor I know.  He is the man for this season, in the life of this growing church, in this changing town.

 

Chapter 7: A Personal Word

If I were to try telling my life story without mentioning Monte Vista Chapel, I would have to omit many of the important events and people who have shaped me.

It was down the aisle of Warner Johnson hall that I walked down the aisle with my young beautiful bride Lyn to begin an adventure I never could have imagined.

Down to my left, I knelt as a young seminary graduate, and received from this body the ordination to the ministry.

Here to my right, Lyn and I knelt and had precious hands laid on us, commissioning us to Africa as missionaries.

My daughter Heather was baptized in the waters behind me.

From this fellowship my daughter Lauren ventured to foreign countries.

So intertwined is my life with this church, I sometimes find myself thinking that I own a piece of it. Then I remember that only Jesus builds the church, and He merely allows us the privilege of enjoying a season of its history.

When I think of those who took the risk to begin this church, my hat is off to them. But this was never their church, any more than it belongs to those who pour their lives into it now.

And that is perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned by being a part of this family. Monte Vista Chapel has been a great church for so many of us not merely because heroes, and even angels, have passed through these halls. Nor has it known success merely because of good teaching, generous giving, or talented staff. The only thread of reason I see is God’s pleasure in weaving together a few hearts to take a faith adventure. And as we stand at this marker labeled 40 years, that surely is the only way we will ascend the winding path ahead.

With all sincerity, thank you for all you have meant to me and my family.

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How does a rich man repent?

3 01 2017

Recently I heard a sermon about John the Baptist and his call to repentance as a way to prepare for the coming of King Jesus. The preacher exhorted each of us to consider ways we should repent (i.e. turn around). The church was located in an affluent area, and the congregants reflect the lifestyle of the financially prosperous.

After the service let out, I was in the parking lot talking to my hosts, when another attendee walked past and engaged in conversation. He said he was soon to drive his motor home to Palm Springs to stay for some weeks, after which he would drive up along the California coast visiting beautiful cities along the way.

In these instances, we who have spent years in poorer countries or neighborhoods are often challenged with a private, parallel conversation. For me it could be summarized as, “What would one of my simple village pastors from Africa think if he had heard that sermon on repentance, and now stood in this conversation in the parking lot?” (Note: I include the descriptor “village” because some city pastors and elders in African cities are economically more akin to the American RV owner than their village compatriots.)

I had the same internal conversation on a walk during the recent Christmas season. I passed through a neighborhood of multi-level homes which cost hundreds of thousands to build. In the driveway sat at least one glimmering SUV, and on the lawn a “creche” depicting the humble birth of Jesus. Again, I wondered if a Christian from the developing world would view that scene as a bewildering contradiction.

How does a rich man repent?

I think of the rich young ruler who engaged Jesus with the question of  his salvation. Since the man was keeping the Mosaic Law, Jesus finally told him to sell all he had and give to the poor. The young man went away sad because he had many possessions.

Did Jesus want the young entrepreneur to give everything away so as to join the ranks of the poor? I think not. But the Lord saw that the man loved his possessions, which was an impediment to discipleship. Paul wrote along this line when he said that the love of money is the root of all evil. If I love my money, I need to repent. But how do I know when I have stopped stewarding my money righteously and come to love my money? If such love is actually covetousness, idolatry, possessiveness, or a source of pride, then no one knows if I need to repent other than God and me — and I am well able to deceive myself.

I begin to see that the African villager cannot really know how the rich American should repent, any more than the rich American can really know how the African should repent. But I am sure each would receive insight on the matter, to their benefit, if they spent some hours together reading God’s word and praying!

A young Christian family, living in the same metro area as the wealthy RV owner, formerly wanted to buy a larger home. But they intentionally decided to live simply in their current house. Dad takes the shuttle train to work, when he could drive his own car. A rich young family is seeking to live a lifestyle of repentance.

I heard of a Christian church that has decided to rent a central space accessible to all, rather than build their own building in the suburbs; this way they are able to put more funds into mission and outreach to the community. A rich young church seeks an attitude of repentance.

Repentance is a matter of the heart. If I am a hypocrite in my heart, I must deal with the fact that the Holy Spirit lives there too. A man with less money can actually love his money more, even as a man with more money can love it less. Are both of them ready to give their money away freely, as managers of God’s resources?

Repentance is a matter of my time, place, and circumstance. Another person cannot know my context, and therefore cannot rightly judge what I should do. But neither should I judge what another man does, or does not do. Maybe that is why community is so important, for people who share the same context can observe and speak forthrightly into each others lives.

“If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14, NKJV).


Photos:  WP ImageSmart/Pixabay

 

 

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Abrahamic Peace Plan

29 12 2016

If we peel back centuries of bickering, revenge and blame, we might discover a way forward in the Israel-Palestinian feud. Consider Abraham as an example of how mutual respect could lead toward peaceful co-existence. Here is a concise rendition of Genesis 23:1-20.

Abraham’s wife Sarah has died and he needs a place to bury her. He is dwelling in the land of the Canaanites, land which has been promised to him by God. But he is there as a visitor, for the Canaanites have lived there for decades.

Abraham approaches the sons of Heth and asks that they allow him to bury his wife in a certain cave, stating that he desires to pay a full price for that property. They direct him to the owner of the cave, a man named Ephron.

The interchange between Abraham and Ephron is, I expect, a cultural dance over the purchase price in which Ephron offers to give the land free of charge, while Abraham insists on paying a full price. All this is done in public view. But it is done cordially, without greed or deception. Finally Abraham acquires the property, paying the full price asked by Ephron.

So the cave with its surrounding field were officially and publicly deeded to Abraham as a place for his family to be buried.

By that time, Abraham was a wealthy man (Gen. 24:35) yet he respected those who dwelt on the land which God had promised him. The residents of that land realized that people of different ethnicities could dwell together side by side. Abraham did not seize the land, but humbly asked to purchase property at a fair price.

Today, centuries of animosity have complicated the path to peace. But Abraham may show a way back to a simpler time with a tentative hope.

 

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How honesty pays

28 12 2016

“Honesty pays,” is a phrase we hear from our youth. I suggest it “pays” in peace of mind, whether or not it pays financially.

Recently my daughter bought a car. I was helping with the transaction, and when we came to filling out the transfer documents the seller suggested he would be willing to falsely lower the purchase price to lower the amount we would have to pay in tax. We declined and entered the actual amount of purchase.

Not an hour after we had left, the seller called and surprised us by saying, “We would like to give back $300 because the tires will need replacing soon, and because you didn’t lower the sale price on the document.” We told him this was not necessary, that it was highly unusual, but very kind. We accepted his gift with thanks!

This incident came to mind again this morning as I was reading the story of Abraham receiving God’s command to take his beloved son Isaac up the mountain to offer sacrifice. You will recall that Abraham, beyond belief, proceeded to sacrifice his son, when the Lord graciously spared the boy and provided a ram as sacrifice. That holy place was named “YHWH Jireh.” This name has come to us as one of our favorite names for God: “The-LORD-Will Provide.”

But the story continues with a vital statement:  “as it is said to this day, ‘In the mount of the LORD it shall be provided” (Gen. 22:14). We love to focus on the Lord’s provision, but we detach His provision from His call to the mountain.

Truth-telling must not be lost as our culture grows comfortable with compromise. Tweet This We who follow Jesus must not manipulate the truth just because we see others commonly do so.

Three years ago I made a mistake when I calculated my taxes. Later I engaged a tax preparation service which offered to check my past statement. I thanked them for this service, but was dismayed when they informed me that I had ignorantly underpaid by several hundred dollars. They gave me options, one of which was to assume the IRS would not find the mistake since they are so understaffed. I said no, send me the form to correct my error so that I can pay the back taxes (which I am still doing in monthly increments).

My application of the text is that I “went to the mountain” of obedience, and the Lord is providing. Tweet This The freedom of honesty is of greater worth than a few more dollars. Not only does honesty pay in peace of mind, it says something to others who happen to observe it. Let’s be different, and have fun doing it!


Photo credit: WP Image Smart/Pixabay

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Morning prayer of a Christian Writer

30 11 2016

“My heart is overflowing with a good theme. I recite my composition concerning the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” Psalm 45:1

writers prayerI praise You, O God for the gift of this day. I desire to live it for Your glory — to be of enjoyment and usefulness to You today.

I acknowledge that You created me with a desire and skill to write words which change lives. I am a steward of this gift. May I manage it today in a way that pleases You. Give me Your words.

I offer again to You in surrender my mind and my heart, for this is where You must put Your thoughts. Stir up my soul with Your truth, excite my pen with Your thoughts. Write to someone You love through me today.

Open Your word to me that I may glimpse more of Your glory.

Deepen my understanding of Your wisdom and grace. Let me see beyond the veil to behold more of Your beauty, the beauty this ugly world needs to see, even longs with desperation to see. Let me feel You power today, that I may strengthen that one who is weak.

And finally, grant me grace to do the unpleasant tasks of the writer who must work to publicize his words. Put me out onto the highways, that I may announce the good words You give — not for my own reputation, but to wave the flag of the good news.     Amen

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Have our fears sent Jesus away? (Pt 3)

29 11 2016

We are looking at the curious incident where villagers witnessed Jesus delivering a man from demon possession, and then asked Jesus to leave. We’ve had a first and second post on the spiritual effect of fear. In this post I am wondering: What if the villagers who sent Jesus away because of fear decided instead to invite Him to stay? Or considering an applicational question:

WHAT IF WE WELCOMED JESUS TO CALM OUR FEARS? If we invite Jesus to come fully into our families and congregations, what would He do? What might His deliverance look like?

  1. If we welcomed Jesus fully, His presence would expose our fears. When Jesus set foot on the shore, the demons of fear were exposed, while the afflicted man ran toward Jesus in worship (Mark 5:6). We may be ignorant of deep fears which lie behind our attitudes of prejudice. We must spend time in prayerful invitation for the Holy Spirit to reveal to us these deep fears and anxieties which have become embedded in our hearts. We may experience internal resistance from those very fears as they are exposed, and fearful friends around us will surely entrench against such exposure.
  2. If we welcomed Jesus fully, we would identify fear-mongers around us. Society has become so filled with fearful voices that some have become deadened to scenes of violence. “Evening News” should more accurately be called “Evening Fears.” Christians should no longer allow purveyors in fear to speak into our living rooms or mobile devices. In fact, where possible, we should expose and rebuke their actions.
  3. If we welcomed Jesus fully, He would replace our spirit of fear. Scripture says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). If we will invite Jesus to stay with us, we will be launched in a new direction which will last all our lives.

We will increasingly receive God’s power to think, speak, and act against fear. The resurrection power of Christ will give courage to stand against the tide and willingly suffer for kingdom righteousness. We will experience victory over fear, for “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 Jn. 4:4b).

We will increasingly receive God’s love for others. Scripture says that perfect love casts out fear (1 Jn. 4:18). With love, the desire to perfect lovedefend the vulnerable will replace our need to protect ourselves. With love, the willingness to take risks for what is right will replace our need for control and safety.

And as we welcome Jesus to stay, we will increasingly receive a sound mind. The naturalistic culture around us constantly bombards us with multitudinous fears. But scripture tells us to not be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:1,2). We do that by intentionally seeking and embracing the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5). Be warned, the mind of the world hates the mind of Christ. This single fact should be a warning to those of us who seek consensus with the broad way. But it should embolden us to pursue the narrow way which leads to life.

[photo credit: celebrationchurchlive.com]

 

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Have our fears sent Jesus away? -6 observations

25 11 2016

As promised in my prior post, I draw these six observations from the story in which Jesus cast demons out of a man, after which the village asked Jesus to depart because they were afraid (Luke 8:26-39).

  1. Where demons bring fear on one person, they have affected many others as well.  Let’s not imagine the possessed man was an isolated case. This was a society infected with a spirit of fear. The deliverance of the man was needed by many others. So why didn’t many others desire deliverance?
  2. A group of people can be so held by fear that they fear deliverance. I expect some say that the people wanted Jesus to leave so He would not ruin any more herds of swine. This misses a more significant truth. The people were seized with fear. This incident teaches us about spiritual dynamics of fear, as well as Jesus’ response to it.
  3. The beginning of deliverance triggers increased demonic resistance. This is not primarily a story of pigs and villages, but of spiritual conflict taking place on earth. The presence of Jesus stirs up trouble in the demonic world. The demons know they could be cast from terra firma into the abyss by a word from Jesus. We earthlings are that close to the spiritual battle (Lk. 8:31). The demons did not want to be sent out of that area (Mk. 5:10). They clung to hold on to the control they had gained.
  4. The presence of Jesus does not remain where a spirit of fear asks Him to leave (Lk. 8:37). We rightly struggle when rejected for our commitment to Christ. We are burdened by the plight of the lost who are destined for hell. Jesus is very realistic as He encountered rejection of His help. Hr provides us an example. It is a matter of fact that fear eliminates the possibility of seeing God at work. American society, and even Christians, are seized with fear today. No wonder the presence of Jesus is being withdrawn from us.
  5. Those who have been delivered by Jesus are charged to remain as witnesses of His miraculous power. Jesus forbade the man from accompanying Him and instead charged him to stay and proclaim all that Jesus had done. We are not told whether the delivered follower had any positive effect. The point is that Jesus entrusts His witness to those who follow Him.
  6. Jesus was not, and is not deterred by rejection, but brings His word intentionally to resistant cultures and leaves a witness. Jesus was rejected in His home town because people were offended by Him (Lk. 4:28-30). Here, on the far side of the lake, He was rejected because people were afraid of Him. But that did not prevent Him from going there.

Does Jesus withdraw Himself from Christians today, regretfully hearing us protest His deliverance as we cling to our cherished fears?

Do we idolize safety such that we fear the risk of the cross-life? Do we fear disease and extremism such that we have abandoned faith in His power to deliver?

Do we treasure government and medical science to the extent He can do no miracles in our society nor heal our diseases? Do we assess the risk to our livelihood and beg Jesus to leave our possessions undisturbed?


fears cripple

In our next post, we’ll look at what can happen if we invite Jesus to stay and help us with our fears.

[photo credit: christianchat.com]

Thanks for sharing my thoughts!