I’m Tired of the Word GOSPEL

Sick of it, actually. The word GOSPEL is the most overused word in the Christian community today.

The gospel is good news. Stop using it for self-righteous and self-serving purposes.

The gospel is freeing. It is not fear-inducing or coercive or cause-running. Stop using it to command respect. Or to load others down with rule after rule.

The gospel is for unbelievers too. Stop using it to claim your corner on truth, to the exclusion of all other thought. Remember: it’s His kindness that leads us to repentance.

The gospel is grace. It means that we are to rest in the work of Jesus on the cross. Stop writing lists and creating spiritual check-off boxes.

Stop doing. Start being.

Stop talking about the gospel.
BE THE GOOD NEWS.

Isaiah 52:7, NIV
How 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!”

Perfect? Nope. Still His Treasured Possession…

It’s always soooo smart to post political and religious opinions on Facebook. It gets you into all kinds of trouble. And yet, I still can’t help myself! So here’s my Facebook post from earlier this week:

God’s very clear in the Bible about his plan for Israel, and I am pro-Israel. BUT let us not forget that God loves both Israelis and Palestinians. He has created each of us to bear His image.

 I have seen Jesus restore many lives over the years. Let’s pray that eyes will be opened, keeping in mind that God’s heart is to restore and reconcile all of us to Him.

Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem…And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Luke 19:41-42

And my Auntie responded, “What is God’s plan for Israel? How do you see the Palestinians role in it?”

Reallllly good question. My first basic thought was this:

Throughout history, the Jews have been God’s chosen way to demonstrate His love, justice and salvation for all people. When Jesus came, he demonstrated God’s love for both Jews and Gentiles. Palestinians, and you and I are included in this opportunity.

Maybe that’s a start. But holy moly, there’s a lot more to it.

First, I realize that even within the Christian community, there are plenty of differing opinions on how to view the what the Bible says about Israel. So let me say: this is what I believe.

To understand what the Bible says about Israel, it is key to understand two of God’s promises: 1) the Abrahamic Covenant, and 2) the Mosaic Covenant. A covenant is simply a promise, an agreement between two parties. The cool thing about God is that he KEEPS his promises. Psalm 145:13 says that God is faithful to all his promises (and so much more–I LOVE Psalm 145 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+145). So this is no human promise where you’re sure to be disappointed.

However, a covenant can be conditional or unconditional, based on our response. In these two covenants, we have an example of each.

The Abrahamic Covenant is unconditional, meaning that both parties agreed on it, but only God is bound to the promise. God’s promises to Abraham required nothing of Abraham.

Conversely, the Mosaic Covenant is conditional, meaning both parties agreed on it, but it is solely based on the obedience of the Jewish people. If the people continually obeyed it, there would be great blessing for them. If they did not obey it, all promises were off.

The Abrahamic Covenant can be found in Genesis 12:1-3. God promises three things to Abram, (whose name God will soon change to Abraham–another cool part of the story) :

1) I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you.

2) I will make your name great and you will be a blessing.

3) I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you, and all people on earth will be blessed by you.

The Mosaic Covenant can be found in Exodus 19-24. This covenant made with Moses and the Israelites specifies obligations of both parties, of God and of Israel. It is abundantly clear that the promise is related to Israel’s obedience. If they are faithful to what God asks, then God will bless. If they are disobedient, God will punish. Israel is chosen and set apart from other nations so that the world would know God, or Yahweh, the Hebrew name for God.

God tells his people in Exodus 19:5-6, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” God was planning to use Israel to demonstrate his love and light to the rest of the world, which he loves.

Let’s pause for a moment.

Has Israel succeeded in keeping this covenant? Nope. Is Israel perfect? Nope. Has God punished over the years? Yep. Are they still God’s chosen people? Yep. The Abrahamic Covenant promises it, and God is faithful to His promises.

God’s pretty smart. The Mosaic law had to be written and required in order for all of us to see that the law is IMPOSSIBLE to keep. Impossible. Ever tried being perfect?

The Mosaic Covenant exposed our humanity. It highlights our inability to perfectly keep the law. The law cannot save us. Rules cannot save us. Gritting it out, striving to keep up, hanging tough with blood, sweat, tears…our efforts will not save us. It becomes very clear that humanity needs a Savior.

The Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants are found in the Old Testament. They remain very important to both Jews and Christians.

However, Christians believe that there is more to the story. There is a NEW COVENANT, and it is found in the story of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. Because humanity could not keep up with the law, God sent his only Son to us to demonstrate His love in a new way. Jesus was to be a new promise to us. God wanted to make known the mystery of the hope of glory, Christ in us.

When God gave us a new covenant, he abolished the old Mosaic Covenant. Remember–it was a conditional covenant and the human party had not been able to keep their promises. They had failed to keep all the impossible laws. God, in his amazing grace, said, “It’s ok–I’ve got something so much better for you.

This New Covenant is a whole new approach to God. It is personal. It is available to all. It is internal instead of external, a new heart. It provides unlimited access to God. It is once for all, completed by Jesus’s willing death on the cross and resurrection from the grave.

The Abrahamic Covenant, on the other hand, is still a promise kept by God because it is an unconditional promise. This is why I stated on Facebook that God is clear about his plan for Israel. God will still bless Israel and make it into a great nation. Against all odds, Israel has flourished since 1948 when it became an independent nation for the 2nd time in history.

How is it that the Jews have survived every attempt to wipe them off the face of the earth? Countless stories and times in history, Jewish people have been hunted and killed. Every time, a remnant has survived to carry on. This is a miracle only God can do. Ezekiel 6:8 says, “…I will leave a remnant, for you will have those who escaped the sword among the nations when you are scattered among the countries./p>

So my answer to my Auntie–God has used Israel to bless the nations by Jesus’ bloodline. Through Jesus, God became available to all of us–Jews, Gentiles, Palestinians, you & I. That’s all for now–I’m not sure I want to get into the current conflict except to say that neither side is perfect.

It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? I know. I realize to my friends who don’t believe, it seems mysteriously easy or kooky. For those who have questions, God says this in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Ask Him and keep your eyes open. He’s so faithful to his promises.

In my last post, I mentioned a conversation around the dinner table. Just for a moment, go back to that table, when I was so sure that I knew all there was to know in the world. Of course I don’t. I hate it when Christians act like they have the corner on all truth in the world. It pushes all my buttons. I don’t want to come across like that, though I realize that I sometimes do. Above is my perspective on what the Bible says about Israel. There are others who interpret these things differently. If you want to talk about it, leave me a comment. Thanks to those conversations around the table, I like that kind of thing.

My Hope Hinges on This:

There is a time I remember, sometime soon after I had graduated from college and knew all there was to know in the world. Lights were twinkling around the Christmas tree, and my family was seated around the dinner table, where most good arguments take place in our family.

Who knows how, but the history of Japanese internment camps came up. We spoke of the cruel inhumanity of what happened throughout America during WWII. American citizens of Japanese decent were rounded up, forced to leave their homes and jobs, and transported to live in hastily built military camps. They were made to live for years with their families in remote areas, surrounded by fences and armed guards.

During the discussion, my sister and I argued that there was no possible way that anything similar could happen again. “We will never do that again,” I said. I was so sure of myself–wouldn’t Americans learn from something so cruel and inhuman? And I clearly remember my Dad saying, “Humans are capable of pretty awful evil. Something like that can definitely happen again.”

His words have resounded inside me this week. “Humans are capable of pretty awful evil.” I wish he was wrong. But he’s right. And around the world today, there are stories that prove it.

Scripture says that we all fall short. We’ve all missed glory. I know I have. I know I’ve hurt others with my words and judgments and actions. Faces flash before my minds’-eye even now.

And oh gosh, I’ve ended plenty of basketball games completely chagrined by what came out of my mouth. I can laugh some of that off, but still, it’s embarrassing. I’m a wreck and it’s foolish to pretend any differently.

But I believe there is hope. This hope gets me through. Through a comment on Facebook this week, my aunt asked a question of me that made me seek out some clarification on what I believe about Israel and Palestine. There is so much war and cruel inhumanity happening there. And yes, on both sides. We’ve all fallen short of God’s glory.

My hope hinges on this verse, “…God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is CHRIST IN YOU, THE HOPE OF GLORY.”

What does the Bible say about Israel and Palestine? It cracks me up to think I could even attempt to answer this, but I feel like I should try.

To be continued…I’ll attempt to solve all the problems of the world tomorrow.

P.S.
Christ in YOU, the HOPE of Glory!

Evil Unchecked in Syria and Iraq

“Evil,
unchecked,
is the prelude to genocide.”

-Joel Rosenburg

My heart breaks today for the homeless and persecuted in Iraq and Syria who are being ruthlessly hunted and slaughtered by the Islamic State, or ISIS.

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5659239

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2719698/President-Obama-authorises-airstrikes-Iraq-defend-civilians-Islamic-militants-swarming-country.html

Placing my hope here:
“When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous have a refuge.”
Proverbs 14:33