“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – VOL. 25, NO. 14&15 – THANKS GOD, BUT WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY?
In the history of Christianity, and pretty much everything we humans do, change comes because we don’t like something the way it is. If we can’t change it we leave it and do what we want done. Every segment of Christianity started that way. Most were born out of heresy, exclusion or abuse of power. Others came from a particular view of scripture. Today it is not so much doctrine as it is needs and the expectation of what God will do for us.
Pat Boone told us a miracle a day would keep the devil away. So folks went looking for daily miracles. Now let me say if you go looking for God working in the world you will come closer to finding it than if you don’t look. But as I read Pat’s book, that’s not quite what he was saying. You could expect all kinds of God-brought miracles if you had the faith they would happen.
About that same time the “gifts of the (Holy) Spirit surfaced. Now we could be lead by the Spirit and we wouldn’t have to worry about doing wrong or getting lost if we were in the “Spirit”. But Spirit-led people were often interested first in what God (the Spirit) was going to do for them than bringing forth the fruits. of the Spirit. See I Corinthians 11-14.
Healing was and still is a big part of certain segments of Christianity, and has been for years. Putting out your fleece, as in the story of Gideon, was another way to be sure God would make everything work out. Everyone wants a sign, and that was an often request made of Jesus.
So what has God done for me lately? If God is all-wise and all-powerful, surely we can expect some of that wisdom and power to be given to us. When I hear about these new up-and-coming church groups, I always hear how God works with power in their group. God lays it out in front of them; all they have to do is rake it in. And while the people are all about the same, their differences keep them looking for the best experience to see God working the way they want in their lives.
Am I about to complain? Yes. Why? Because that’s not what I read in the Bible. Do I read of mighty works and miracles? Yes. But do they make up the bulk of the story of God in the Bible? No.
Let’s take a trip down Biblical Memory Lane. First there’s the miracle of creation. Then what? How long before Noah builds the ark? Maybe six hundred years or so. Then there’s Abraham. How many wonders did he get except the promised child, and the ram that kept Isaac from being toast? The rest of the time he walks by faith alone and it wasn’t easy.
His heirs see few “mighty works” and finally, Joseph ends up in Egypt. There he ends up in prison on a trumped-up charge. He has the gift of dream interpretation and two guys in prison promise to help him if he tells them their dreams. He does and they forget they ever knew him. Finally the word gets out and the king gets his dreams interpreted and Joseph works for the king and turns the country into a radical socialist nation. Read Gen. 41:41-57 & 47:13-26.
Then there’s Moses. He gets some really good “signs and wonders” like the burning bush, the rod-snake, plagues and the crossing of the sea, manna and water from the rock and the Ten Commandments. But folks, they had been in Egypt for over four hundred years! And it wasn’t their fault! Where are the signs and wonders? They then wander in the wilderness for forty years. How many miracles do we read about during the “wandering”?
They cross Jordan on stopped-up water. Jericho falls. Then what? They win battles, the Judges come along and there’s Gideon’s fleece, Sampson’s hair and some slick war strategy. Samuel arrives. How many daily signs and wonders do you read in his life? The kings arrive, and years pass without any notable signs except for Elijah and Elisha. Years go by with the divided kingdom in one mess after the other. Then comes the invasion and exile. They spend years in exile away from their land. How many miracles did they get? Along come the reformers, like Ezra and Nehemiah. Read the books. How many days did they just walk by faith only?
Read the major and minor prophets. Ezekiel gets his valley of dry bones, but his life is almost daily bad, as is Jeremiah’s and the rest. All of them call for a reformed and restored nation and the rewards they promise for this are not signs and wonders, but a nation worthy of being called God’s people.
Of course, we are New Testament folks and we do see the works and wonders of Jesus written there. They are what the hoped-for Messiah would do; meaning they hadn’t been done much before. So when we read the life of Jesus, we tend to see those things which fall into the spectacular. The daily grind of faith gets lost in the excitement of the exception. Question: How much did Jesus’ signs and wonders convince people that he was the Messiah of God? Not much. Did he use the signs and wonders to prove he was the Messiah? No. Not once does he do a miracle and then say, “That proves I’m God’s son the Messiah”.
Jesus dies and is raised and his followers go out into the world with the good news. It starts with wonders, i.e., the day of Pentecost. In Acts there are wonderful happenings, the dead are raised, and jail doors are opened. Paul is converted. How many miracles did Paul get? He didn’t even get relief from what he called his “thorn in the flesh”. He walked day after day by faith in Jesus and the resurrection, never seeing a wonder, other than the grace and love of God.
Christianity is a life choice. It is the conviction that God spoke through Jesus the Son, and told us how to bring about God’s will on the earth. The gospel is not first about establishing churches and saving souls for eternity. It is about God’s will here and now, and the assurance of things hoped for, such as the defeat of death and eternal life as the result. If you need a reference for that, read Hebrews 11.
Being a Christian is often a hands dirty, legs weary, walking in the dark, life. It’s not about what God will do for us, as much as it is what God has already done.
CONCERNS: T. J. Hall will have by-pass surgery tomorrow. Deana McRoy had successful cancer related surgery last Wednesday. Richard Crites is recovering gradually from his back surgery. Karen Branch’s friend Monica lost a brother-in-law to an unexpected death recently. Keep in prayer the following people who are in some stage of recovery or treatment from cancer: Philip Pierce’s mother, Connie Crites’ brother, Leena Bolin’s brother, Nick; Walther Wagner, Ruby Stahl, Stephanie Ridney, and Marge Greenwood, relatives of the Beach’s; Also, Joni’s mother. Regan, the ten year old dealing with after-surgery brain cancer. Sharon and Billy and Jim Hunter. Remember Helen Nicklas, Martha Foy’s parents, Tim Elder, Alma Martin, Jenni Cullum, Ron Matney. Melisha is still seeking work.
OUR DAILY BREAD: APRIL 22-27
Monday: Psalm 119:1-24
Tuesday: Matthew 12:22-37
Wednesday: Revelation 3:14-22
Thursday: Galatians 2:11-21
Friday: John 15:1-11
Saturday: Psalm 112:1-10
OUR DAILY BREAD: APR. 29-MAY 4
Monday: Psalm 48:1-14
Tuesday: Romans 11:33-12:8
Wednesday: Matthew 15:29-39
Thursday: Luke 15:1-10
Saturday: Psalm 19:1-14
The weather prevented many of you from hearing the reading of Sheila Robertson’s note regarding her mother’s recent death. It is as follows: “Dear Family
Thank you all so much for the flowers you sent us. With the flowers, prayers, out pouring of the love and wonderful cards, it showed my family (again!) there that I have a family here that loves and takes care of me too! Thank you all so very much.”
A THANK YOU CARD
We have received a card from Tita Nicklas, Leena Bolin’s brother’s wife, thanking us for our help and prayers with regards to Nick’s cancer treatment.
The Graduation Banquet honoring all graduates will be on Sunday evening, May 5 at 6:00PM in the annex. All persons graduating from anything are invited. So even if you’re graduating from traffic school, come and we’ll celebrate.
Nick Bolin has been awarded the Eagle Scout Badge from the Boy Scouts. He did this by securing money and material to build a new storage shed at the parsonage.
CYSTIC FIBROSIS WALK
In memory of David Pennell’s death, Holly Wagner has served on the local cystic fibrosis board and helps organize a fund-raising walk each year at Hollins University. If you would like to donate to this cause, see Holly. The walk will be on Saturday, May 4.
NEXT DATES FOR THE RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE
Martha Albert has set the dates we will be preparing the evening meal at the Ronald McDonald House. They will be Sunday, My 19 and Wednesday, June 5. .
Joni & Alan Beach are grandparents again. Vincenzo Raphael Leva was born April 7 to daughter Laura and her husband. He weighed 7lb 14oz and was 20 in long. Congratulations to them all.
Connie and Richard Crites new address is 4733 Barclay Square SW 24018. The phone numbers are the same as before.