Saturday, February 24, 2007
All the stuff we used to think was cool.
George Carlin once said "nail two things together that have never been nailed to gether before and some schmuck will buy it." Proof.
And plastic animals everywhere winced.
The mind boggles.
Where I grew up, we take crime seriously.
Why I quite eating Taco Bell years ago. And as far as KFC goes, how can you tell what's under all that breading anyway?
Well, where else would it happen.
You want proof I am still a sinner? The jokes I thought of concerning this headline.
Related Tags: joke, humor, wisecrack, sarcasm
Refugee from a broken down eastern European circus, Stiltman took to a life of crime in a clown suit....OK, not really, but somehow I think it would have been better than what he really was, another guy in another mechanical suit, this one with hydraulic legs.
Stiltman has been surprizingly popular despite being surprisingly lame. His popularity I think supports my theory that art makes comics, not story. He does make for some incredible visuals all up in the air like that.
And yet, he reamins so essentially lame. It is kind of hard to poke fun at him, as it appears to be great sport accross the comic internet. Consider for example here: dumb ways a dumb criminal has been defeated. These were not made up, they were actually written and published. Here is somebody illustrating lame villain comic writing at its very finest.
You may have noticed at this point a lot more material on Stiltman as a DD villain, than Spidey. That's where he started, and that is where he has appeared the most, but as the top cover illustrates, he has battled Spidey, qualifying for this series. Besdies, he is so essentially lame, that we had to work him in somehow.
And now, a sad confession - I have this comic you see here in my collection - the Spidey one above too. Having the Spidey one is not too bad, it is from my days of very active collecting and I bought and held everything. But that original DD survuived the great high school purge, meaning I thought it would be really valuable someday. Guess what, I can't retire on it, but it's worthy. Proof I guess that lameness sells.
Related Tags: comics, comic books, comic art, Spider-man, villains, lame, Daredevil, Stiltman
Friday, February 23, 2007
Why Doesn't It Work For Us?
- The Latter-day Saint show genuine love and concern by taking care of their people
- They strive to build the family unit
- They provide for their young people
- Theirs is a layman's church
- They believe that divine revelation is the basis for their practices.
As I read those, only the last would be a matter of substanitive difference between us and them, and then only in some circles of "us." Which begs the question, giving the compartive growth statisitics, "What's working for them that is not for us?"
There are two reasons I would cite. The first is that often, they really do those things rather than merely pay them lip service. The Mormon church operates with far higher levels of accountability and personal development than we do. If their goal is to build families, then by golly, they get busy about it and if you don't join the party, you have problems hanging around the Mormons. We have largely forgotten the role of accountability in the church. We build mega-churches where one can remain faceless.
And it is that fourth point wherein I think the roots of their ability to "really" mean it lies. We ask people to join the church - they ask people to be the church. We envision church as something to be viewed and enjoyed, they view church as something to take part in. Oh sure, we say differently all the time, but we don't do differently nearly so often. It's just too easy to hire staff, and as staff its just to tempting to take the check and do it for them.
There is a reason groups like the Mormons come along and beat us a our own game. It's not because they cheat, it's because we don't do it very well anymore. I think it's high time we quit denouncing the opposition and started getting better than them. we will eventually lose if we stay on the first path. But if we choose the second we use competition as an opportunity to get better. We need to get better.
Related Tags: Mormons, values, meaning it, clergy, layity, staff
Set 'Em Up Joe Links
Speaking of warming - this pretty well sums it up for me.
Most of which pose no emminent danger to human health or the environment. But then there is an industry to keep afloat.
Dear Lord, help us.
So, when will we enact "spear-control" legislation. BTW, I find the theological implications of this bit of science fascinating.
From the Twilight Zone
From nationalization to animal sacrifice - this is just wrong.
Oh the humanity.
They think we're wimps.
Least astonishing headline this week.
Don't you wish you had a pair? Lord, I apologize for that, be with the pygmies in New Guinea, Amen.
Related Tags: global warming, gas tank clean-up, John McCain, wierd, joke, humor, wisecrack, sarcasm
Collecting our many suitcases, the ten of use entered the cramped customs area. A young customs official watched our entourage in disbelief, "Ma'am," he said, "do all these children and this luggage belong to you?"
"Yes, sir," my mother said with a sigh. "They're all mine."
The customs agent began his interrogation "Ma'am, do you have any weapons, contraband or illegal drugs in your possession?"
"Sir," she calmly answered, "if I'd had any of those items, I would have used them by now."
The official allowed us to pass without opening a single suitcase.
Related Tags: Friday humor, joke, humor
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Building The Church
making disciples must be the first priority -- it is more important than worship, education, fellowship or denominational principles....not talking about increase in number of members...but making disciples out of those who were previously not Christians.AMEN TO THAT! Then she makes a few points in support of that
- Too many churches are designed and structured to remain small and ineffective. We think too small.
- Too often peace is a higher value than mission, or anything else.
- Most pastors don't know how to effect transformation because they've never been trained to do it.
- Fellowship and shepherding must be programmed because making friends is far more important than being friendly.
- Congregations that are declining will not change until they become focused outward.
- If a church wants to grow it must staff and behave as if it were larger than it is.
I feel like I am missing something. Why does "small" equate to "ineffective"? If the goal is to make disciples, not increase numbers, why would size be mandatory for effectiveness? Secondly, why so much staff? If the model is disciple building, why not build slowly through making disciples that make disciples?
There is a serious fault in the model as it appears to be presented here. It seems like as we advance in discipleship, we advance onto staffing. If we do the job well, won't we eventually run out of people to fill the pews, and thus the collection plate?
I agree with the goals as stated here, but when it comes to the how's it strikes me we are trying to serve two masters. We are trying to feed the institutional beast while doing the "real" ministry. I continue to be bothered by this. The institution is tool, not product. Size frankly shouldn't matter. There was nothing big about the first century church and yet it changed the world. Size can and may happen, but I do not see where it is necessary for effectiveness.
Matt 6:24a - No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other.There is but a single product the church is there to make and that is disciples. The only tool that is necessary to do so is one other disciple. Everything else is periphery.
Related Tags: discipleship, church growth, size, effectiveness
So Bye, Bye Miss American Link
Can he be charged with a hate crime?
Becasue there is someone to buy every product.
Idiot on parade.
"I, for one, am tired of having to explain idiot lawmakers to my children - they are not all complete morons. They are very confused about that"
Hanging offense - get a posse together.
Was Ringo aboard? Peter Max is bummed. (Yes, I am well advanced into middle age)
How about happy he lived?
Calimari for EVERYBODY
Related Tags: Lent, elections, hate crimes, joke, humor, wisecrack, sarcasm
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Profile Of A Mega-Ministry
Here's the pull quote:
The Rev. Todd Phillips, Frontline's teaching pastor, likens the church's mission to Jesus' "Great Commission" to his disciples in Matthew 28: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."Heard that before, haven't we? Note the key word in the scriptural quotation - GO! And yet, they are building a ministry based on saying loudly and as often as possible - COME! Does that strike anybody else as a bit of an oops?
Said Mr. Phillips: "He told 11 disciples to change the world. What do you suppose God could do with 3,000 young adults in the D.C. area?"
But more, think of the 11 that Jesus had GO. They were radical people, most ended up executed, crucified or banished. They lived their lives at odds with all sorts of authority, both religious and civil. They were people that appeared not as the rest of society, but as very different from it.
Finally, a ministry like this reduces the individual to something to be manipulated. Pull the right strings and they come - from the buzz piece to the music, they line up like cattle at the trough. Do you really think God intends to make cattle of us?
What can God do with "3000 young people in the DC area"? Well, theologically speaking anything He wants - but I'm betting He won't do much unless they COME a little less and GO a lot more and they are people radically and noticably different from the rest of the world.
Related Tags: mega-church, The Great Commission, GO, COME, radical
Meanwhile, the doomsayers are getting pissy over the dollars involved. I just love this:
The public is being "seriously misled" by companies peddling carbon offset schemes, campaigner Jutta Kill told the environmental audit committee.Oh no, "a non-existent solution to a natural phenomena will ruin my activist fund-raising capability!"
The schemes did not reduce emissions and simply gave industry a "licence to pollute" elsewhere, she argued.
People should give money directly to climate charities instead, she said.
How long before Brittany Spears gets the hiccups?
Hideously scarred, it began a campaign of terroristic attacks on cats frightened by its grotequery. I have got to quit watching the SciFi channel.
And you thought science was boring and esoteric.
SO? It's prison.
What playing hockey in a climate like ours will get you.
Officials??? I bet the cats were ready to kill something.
The possible bathroom jokes here are endless, and I am laughing at all of them. But If I actually made them, you;d think me tasteless - so just read the headline and you'll laugh.
I think you'll find it applies to most subjects - DUH!
Related Tags: global warming, joke, humor, wisecrack, sarcasm
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
What started me thinking this way was this post at Common Grounds Online by Leigh McLeroy.
Pastor/poet George Herbert, in his collection of poems called The Temple, wrote these words "O what man would be, if he could himself misplace!" If we could misplace or lose ourselves, we would be found. Jesus said that. The Spirit calls us to that. The Father is glorified by that. But the world won't help dismantle my temple of me. It's too busy building more of its own.Yep, it's all about me. Which lead me to this incredibly powerful post from Joe Carter. In it, Joe examines the testimony of women who have had abortions. There are some startling revelations:
Just so you don't misunderstand, when she says "we weren't paying attention" she isn't referring to the fact that there may be something immoral about helping women kill what they would refer to as "my baby." No, what Keyes said the movement wasn't paying attention to was the fact that women were having painful feelings about what they were doing.It becomes clear that some people think mercy is sparing someone else their pain. But even that sounds more altruistic than it really is, because what it really says is that my avoidance of pain matters more than your birth, it just gets dressed up in "I'd be a lousy mother" clothing, an argument totally void of actual substance since giving birth does not necessarily lead to motherhood, there is the adoption alternative you know.
The end of the Glamour article closes with a feature called, "Women tell the true story of my abortion." Not surprisingly, the women represented are more concerned about their own anguish than they are regretful about their decision to kill another human:"I don't want this to affect the rest of my life." -- Carla, 23But the most revealing confession comes from thirty-five year old Micaela:
"There's a great quote from the essayist Katha Pollitt that comforts me. She said, 'A woman has about 30 years of potential fertile sex. That's a long time to go without a slipup.'" -- Lisa, 32
"When I finally confessed my abortion -- after 25 years -- I dreaded what kind of penance the priest would give me. He said, 'I want you to say one Our Father and one Hail Mary. Then I want you to go home and make a list of the good things you've also done in all those years. Until you see the past wasn't all bad, you can't move into the future.' I did, and it made all the difference in the world." -- Frances, 45
"There was never a doubt in my mind about [having the abortion]. ... I was financially, emotionally, and psychologically incapable of dealing with motherhood -- not to mention that I smoked a pack a day and my idea of breakfast was a KitKat." -- Donna, 38"This may sound strange, but I felt I knew the being I was carrying. I felt he was my son. I even called him Ernesto. And Ernesto was my reminder that my life was significant and that having an abortion was putting my life first. I know it was really about me, about promising myself that now I get to be super thoughtful about my life, super intentional -- and that's what the last five years since the abortion have been about."
But Al Mohler brings it into sharpest focus. He discusses abortion and Down Syndrome, quoting George Will
The ACOG guidelines are formally neutral concerning what decisions parents should make on the basis of the information offered. But what is antiseptically called "screening" for Down syndrome is, much more often than not, a search-and-destroy mission: At least 85 percent of pregnancies in which Down syndrome is diagnosed are ended by abortions.85%!!!! - that is a startling statistic. One must ask why? What property of mercy is exhibited by those abortions. Do Down Syndrome children find non-existence merciful? I doubt it, I've met too many extraordinarily happy ones. No, the mercy is to the parents that would have to work harder and the medical system that would have to work harder, in other words, it is mercy to self, not the other, and that is not mercy at all.
Let's extend this logic a bit. Can we consider the gospel, the good news, the fact that Jesus Christ died that our sins might be wiped away and we might live powerful transformed lives for just a moment? Under the logic we see here, it would have been more merciful for God to immediately kill us than to die for us. After all, he has left us to struggle for our entire lives to overcome the sin He died to erase. We have to fight through each day to try and be just the tiniest bit less sinful than we were yesterday. Most days we fail, if fact most days I take a step backwards. Is that mercy?
Indeed it is, for we live, and more, God's sacrifice did not end on the Cross, or even the resurrection, for each day He must exercise His patience with us, truly a burden. Each day He must give us His strength for our efforts - an energy cost to Him. God's mercy is evident in every sacrifice He makes for us every day.
So it is merciful when we sacrifice to help the other live; whether that be money to the poor or life to the diabled. Anything else is no mercy at all.
Related Tags: mercy, abortion, Down Syndrome, sacrifice
I Linka You And You Linka Me
Prosecuters run amuck. She lost her temper and that is regretable, but the fact that she actually hit what she was aiming for is purely an accident - consider the physcis.
Funniest Hillary joke in a while.
My co-blogger at Article 6, Lowell Brown, is apparently in deep trouble. Fortunately, he has powerful friends.
Why there should not be an off-season.
Silent movies live!
Invention for its own sake, resulting in nonsense.
Because there are so many scientists looking over our shoulders.
Everbody knows no cage can hold them! Here are the details
Gee, I would think showing up without a gift would send the same message and save monye to boot.
To be immediately followed by snake farts.
I vote for my house.
Ok, entombing pharohs I understand, but why mud?
Related Tags: joke, humor, wisecrack, sarcasm
Monday, February 19, 2007
How Should A Church Work?
Gal 2:20 - I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.How do you respond to that verse? Do you mourn your crucifixion or do you feel elated at your new life? Probably a bit of both, but may I suggest we try and concentrate on the latter.
Brokeness is an essential element of the gospel which means it is good news, not bad. Many will retort that Christ Himself had His moment of mourning in the garden. Indeed say I, but Christ Himself had something of value to lose, for His was the perfect life. We have nothing to lose, and everything to gain!
I say that, because the suggestions offered in the post are indeed what our church needs.
- The pastor should not be doing pastoral care; that's the congregation's responsibility.
- The pastor's only job, according to scripture, is to equip people for ministry.
- The elders should not be allowed to run committees; their job is spiritual leadership.
- Expect your pastor to spend most time out in the world and not at her/his desk.
Equipping is the key, not attracting. Maybe another way to phrase this is the church is meant to spread like an infection, not grow like someone gaining weight.
I do not mourn becaue of how different these ideas are and how much change is involved, I celebrate. I celebrate a vision of how God intends His church to be.
Related Tags: church, growth, change, mourning, celebration, equipping
Only Links Rush In
People in the U.S. know more about basic science today than they did two decades ago, good news that researchers say is tempered by an unsettling growth in the belief in pseudoscience such as......more than half of what comes out of the "climate science" community.
See what I mean! Joe Carter pens what may be the most pitch-perfect response to Al Gore's global warming nonsense to date.
With systems as big as the climate, the Law of Unintended Consequences will reign supreme.
Next time you want to regulate something, remember, this is what a bureacracy can do.
Think about it....
This is very, very funny. Sadly, I am afraid the point will escape a lot of people.
Least startling religious headline of the last two years.
No snow, no water, so of course.
I'd say this would make a great SciFi movie, but I am pretty certain it's been done. But since when has that slowed down science fiction B-movie writers?
Not buying it - seen to many B-movies, and no robotic system can anticipate everything, and when the unanticipated arrives.....
Definitely not buying it. If people gain weight after bariatirc surgery, you think a pill is gonna stop them? Sounds like a placebo effect to me.
Related Tags: environment, global warming, church, joke, humor, wisecrack, sarcasm
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Just As I Link Without One Plea
This'll get you out of bed in the morning.
Somethings simple take your breath away, and perhaps never restore it. Bobcat Goldthwait once said of himself, "When you do 'Police Academy VI,' you're pretty much an entertainment whore." I think this qualifies too.
Some countries won't put up with the nonsense we do...
I rather go for the name writing record - block print.
The Uncanny X-Duck
Related Tags: health care, motivation, joke, humor, wisecrack, sarcasm
Sermons and Lessons
E. GRIFFITH JONES, president and professor of theology and homiletics at the Yorkshire United Independent College, Bradford, England, since 1907; born at Merthyr-Tydfil, South Wales, in 1860; educated at the Presbyterian College, Carmarthen, 1875-78; New College and University College, London, 1880-85; graduated from the London University, 1882; served in the Congregational ministry at St. John's Wood, London, 1885-87; Llanelly, South Wales, 1887-90; Mount View, Strand Green, London, 1890-98; Balhan, 1898.. 1907; author of "The Ascent Through Christ," "Types of Christian Life," "The Master and His Method," "The Economics of Jesus," "Faith and Verification," etc.
And behold, I send forth the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city, until ye be clothed with power from on high - Luke 24:49.
Perhaps there is no feature of the last hundred years which will be considered in future ages so remarkable as the release of the natural forces pent up in all forms of matter, and their utilization in the service of humanity which has been achieved during this time. Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace, in his book on "The Wonderful Century," draws an instructive contrast between the beginning and the end of the period in this particular. In 1800 the human race, in respect to its control over the wild untutored forces of nature, was in much the same position as in the days of Hannibal; indeed, more advance has been made in the sovereignty over nature during this century than in the six or seven thousand years since the building of the pyramids. It is not merely that knowledge has advanced by leaps and bounds, that new sciences have been born and old ones perfected, that the lines of research have been pushed "many a furlong further into chaos," that a flood of light has been shed on the method of creation, on the origins of life, and on the development of the universe from its primal simplicity to the ordered complexities of its present state. It is all this, but it is more. It is that that kind of knowledge has vastly increased which means the unlocking of doors, the opening of secret places, the taming, as it were, of gigantic forces for the benefit of the race in all directions. The universe has been rediscovered from the human standpoint. We have found out that nature is not dead, but sleeping; that she hides behind her gentle, placid face a perfect whirlwind of pent-up force; that every particle of matter is a center of energy; that what we call solid substances are, really, but a system of interlocked but fiercely gyrating force-centers. The tremendous power of the new explosives is probably only a suggestion of the energies that slumber in every brick in our walls, in every flagstone beneath our feet, in every particle of food which we digest; and we have only to discover the secret of disturbing this equilibrium of matter to be able to blow the very globe into space. The puny body of man has always been the least im¬portant part of him; it is now of less account to him than ever, for the earth is being transformed into a kind of organism of which he is the nerve center; he is multiplying his limbs like a centipede, and forcing inanimate nature to supply him with organs of motion which enable him to put distance and time to defiance. Already he can burrow in the earth like a mole, skim the ocean like a gull, and soon he will be able to fly over the continents like an eagle. By means of his far-reaching electric antennae, he can speak and hear at a distance, see what takes place miles away, and draw pictures with the intangible pencil of light. In these days, when we can take a photograph through a brick wall, and carry on a conversation through miles of mountain or across vast stretches of ocean, there seems little else to expect by way of fresh wonders. And yet, we know that we have scarcely tapped the vast storage battery of natural force; and who shall tell what shall be in the end thereof?
All this is by way of preamble to a still more wonderful vision. Christianity was born of two great events. The first was the coming of Jesus in the flesh, which was the dawn of a new science - the revelation of God, which had been hidden in a mystery from the foundation of the world, a revelation which was also a redemption; the second was the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost, which brought into the world a new power. Jesus brought us the gospel, the "good news" of God, of His willingness to forgive, and save, and renew the spiritual forces of life; and at Pentecost the Holy Spirit of promise came as a spiritual force, which transformed the "knowledge of God" into the "power of God." Luke gives us the story of the revelation, a revelation in deed and in suffering, as well as in word, in his gospel; and he gives the story of how this was transformed into the spirit of power in the Acts.
At the time when this text was spoken, the disciples stood midway between these two critical events. The gospel of redemption had received its finishing touch in the resurrec¬tion of our Lord from the dead; the fair fabric of the perfect life was complete from base to pinnacle. But as yet the forces concentrated in that holy and beautiful gospel of truth and life and love were inoperative; the secret of turning the new knowledge of God into the power of God was not yet theirs. And Jesus, in His parting message, told them to wait. They must not hurry the process; they were not to be impatient; presently something would happen to them, if only they would prepare themselves quietly for it, which would bring the full fruits of His gospel within their reach. Meanwhile they were to "tarry in the city until" the hour when "the Spirit of power" would break forth from the unseen, and the Word would no longer be "with" them as an incarnate Presence, but "in" them as an immanent life. "And, behold, I send forth the promise of the Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city, until ye be clothed with power from on high."
Of what kind of situation does this remind us? How shall I phrase the parallel I wish to draw more vividly?
I think of a tidal channel, and of a vessel ready for a long and adventurous voyage. The cargo is all on board, the steam is in the boilers, the fires are burning brightly in the furnaces. All the arrangements for the voyage have been completed; there is nothing wanted so far as preparedness is concerned. But there is no movement seaward. The captain and the crew are waiting for something; something that can neither be hurried nor controlled. That something is the rising of the tide. The vessel is made for the sea, not the land, and whatever her equipment, she will not move till that tide lifts her, and provides the channel deep enough for her displacement. But directly that tide does come, the engines will begin to throb, the vast bulk will begin to move, the helm will begin to direct her course, and so the voyage will be started.
Or, I think of something else, still nearer the heart of my subject. I think of the trees in winter, standing leafless and rugged against a pale sky, or fighting with rude and stormy winds; and of the brown fields, and of the gardens where no flowers grow. The world seems dead; life seems as though it had fled away to some younger planet. But we know better than that, for we have seen this before. Life is really busy, not, indeed, with the twigs and leaves and blossoms, but with the roots of life. Far below the surface they are storing up the moisture, and transforming the soil by that hidden process of vital chemistry which goes on all the winter, into "something new and strange." Yet nothing seems to happen at all for a long time. Week follows week, and month crawls after month, with no sign of life anywhere. The roots, indeed, can do no more; they are full of sap; but they are powerless to lift it through trunk and branch to the buds at their extremities. But wait a little longer, till the poor old earth that has lost the fires of her youth, and now depends on the kindly sun for her annual quickening, has turned herself toward the cherishing heat that pours down upon her; and one day you realize suddenly that the leaves are out, and that spring has come, clothing the world in garments of beauty and light.
Now, there are periods of recurring spiritual barrenness and inability that come upon the souls of men, alternating with periods of freshness and vitality. It is difficult to account for the law of periodicity which somehow rules the forces of religious progress, but that there is such a law is unquestionable. There are times of creative power in the career of nations, as well as individuals; when great thinkers, great poets, great preachers rise, and mighty movements are set going, and mighty things are done; and there are other periods when it would seem as tho heaven had retired to some distant part of the sky, and all things great and good were impossible. Am I wrong in thinking that just now we are rather in the trough than on the crest of the wave? Not only in matters of religion, but in matters of social and political progress, we are not having an easy or happy time. Immense efforts are being made to better the world. It is an age of reformers. Every one is a reformer nowadays; utopias are thick as blackberries in September; the State is split up into parties who are fiercely contending as to who shall be the first to put the world right. New theologies battle with old theologies, till the air is thick with dust, and the combatants can scarcely see or hear one another for the noise and clamor. And yet somehow nothing seems to he happening. The vessel of progress labors heavily as tho in a place where two (or many) seas meet, and men turn hither and thither, uncertain as to whom to listen to, and in what direction to trace their steps. There is much effort, but little progress; much turmoil, but little life; many voices, but no all-commanding message that carries conviction. Our churches are marking time, and many of them are living on their past; there is a sense of disillusionment and fear in the dumb, unthinking multitude that has largely lost faith in its religious leaders. We seem to be between two worlds, "one dead, the other powerless to be born." In theology, especially, we are in a distracted and troublous state; and when theology is distracted, religion is paralyzed, for if our ideas of God and the soul are in utter confusion, how shall we act confidently and live happily, or do anything noble and good? I do not wish to put the case too strongly, or to give forth a Cassandra message; and yet, who can deny that these things are so? And if these things are so, what are we to do or think? Let me ask you to come back to the text, and the situation it embodied. These men, who were about to part from their Master for the last time in visible form, were in just this situation that I have described. They were in a strait between two great epochs in their life, and in their relation with Him. The period of their earthly communion with Him was over. They were not quite ripe for the period of His spiritual presence within their hearts. They had received the gospel in all its fullness; they had seen and come to know the Father through the Son; but they had not come to that experience which would turn the knowledge they had into power. What was lacking in their experience before the power would come?
Two things were lacking: First, they lacked that insight into the meaning of the wonderful Life that had been lived in their presence, which enabled them to understand the gospel which it embodied. Though Jesus had been with them for several years in daily communion; though they had heard His message, and witnessed the great deeds He had wrought, and felt the perpetual play of His love around them; though they had seen Him die, and rise again from the dead, they were not possessed of the key to the mystery of their Master's person and purpose. In a sense, they were too near the events to realize their tremendous importance; too much under the spell of the physical presence of Christ to know Him for what and who He was. A period of quiet meditation over all that they had seen and felt and handled of the Word of Life was needed, during which the strange, harrowing, soul-stirring events through which they had passed, might have time and opportunity to range themselves in order and fall into their natural perspective. Great events do not unfold their significance to us at the moment; they need a certain distance in order to be seen in their majesty of meaning; they can be duly interpreted only when thrown up into relief against the background of time and circumstance. And so they were told to tarry a while in the city and spend their time in thought and prayer for light on the mystery and perplexity that filled their minds. And that light which they needed could only come from above. They were to wait in faith and hope, sure that their Master would not fail them in their need. The promise was given to them, "And behold! I send forth the promise of my Father upon you." The spirit of truth was to lead them into all the truth concerning Himself. Enlightenment must precede realization; the power could only come through illumination.
But even this was not enough. It would be a great mistake to imagine that the disciples entered at Pentecost into the fullness of either the light or the power of the Christian faith. In the first blaze of that sunrise, they were filled with enough light to give them great power?a power that swept multitudes into the fold of believers, and created the first church. But it is clear that it was long crc they realized the manifold meanings of the gospel which they preached with such acceptance; and the means by which they came into the fullness of light and power was self-forgetful service, the outpouring of their hearts in rove and solicitude over the souls of their fellow men. The gospel light and the gospel power were only slowly and gradually revealed as they "lived the life," and tested the truth in the stress and storm of their experience of its value. The New Testament literature is the record of successive stages in the expansion of the light of the knowledge of the love of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ, and in the deepening and spreading of the power that slumbered in it. By preaching and teaching in many lands; by meeting persecutions and distresses, and sorrows manifold, in the name and for the sake of their Master, with unflinching courage, and unwearied love, and unbroken patience, and undying hope; by working for the gospel, and by suffering for it, they lived their way into its innermost secret and power; and so Christianity became a "light to the Gentiles" and a power that "turned the world upside down."
We have been passing recently through a kind of résumé of the experience of the first Christians in our relation to the story and person of Jesus Christ. The cry of the last fifty years in theology has been "back to Christ," the idea being that it was our duty to come into fresh and living acquaintance with the human life of Jesus in its historical environment, and as lie lived and moved among men. To this end all the resources of scholarship, critical and historical, have been directed. Every foot of ground has been traversed, every line of literature has been ransacked that could enrich our materials for seeing Jesus; who and what manner of man He was. The result is now practically complete. We are not likely to know more about the man, Christ Jesus, than has been already ascertained. And we may as well be thankful for the wonderful freshening of the world's interest in the human Christ. It has brought home, as never before, the sense of His oneness with ourselves. It has opened out as never before the naturalness, as well as the unspeakable beauty and loftiness of the perfect life He lived. And this it has done to most of us without removing from the personality of Jesus that element of a divine mystery which in all ages has been the crowning attribute of his nature, as well as the deepest source of his fascination and ascendency over the human soul. Let us devoutly thank God for all that criticism?historical, textual, rational, spiritual, and whatnot - has done for the better realization of Jesus Christ as a man among men - and the man of all men.
And yet, can we really say that this closer knowledge has done very much so far for a clearer understanding of His divine message for our own clay and generation? Is the meaning of Christ as clear to us as to our forefathers, who had so distorted and unreal an idea of the earthly conditions of the incarnation of the Son of God? Is it not true that with less knowledge they had more light than we seem to have? Did not they live nearer than we do to Him who once appeared in the flesh, but who is evermore with His people by His Spirit? Have we not been burrowing too much in the far-off centuries for Him who was once dead, but who is alive for evermore? The Jesus who lived in the first century will be nothing better than a picturesque and beautiful figure in history unless we can realize that lie has been at work through all the centuries between, and that we can never understand Him nor receive the promise of the Father from Him till we say with Paul: "Yea, even though we have known him after the flesh, yet know we him so no more." There is nothing the Church needs just now more than a fresh grasp of the meaning of the gospel of the divine Person for our own day and generation. We need the light that we may realize the power.
This light can only come as it came to the first disciples: first, by waiting upon God in humble dependence on his holy spirit, which can only come from Himself; and then by a courageous application of the light we have to the needs and problems, individual and social, of the day. The secret of Christ can only be learned by those who are prepared to receive His influence into their heart of hearts, and then to obey His word with a willing mind and a single eye. It is because there is so little of this among us that our religion has fallen into temporary disrepute among those who need it most, the toiling masses for whom the great heart of Jesus agonized and yearned so deeply, and for whom He died, and for whom lie now lives and works in the unseen world, which we think of as so far, but which is so terribly beautifully near to us all. "The word is still nigh thee, even at the doors." And when that power once more comes - as come it will - what then?
Ah, then once more we shall see signs and wonders. Right through the ages we can see that power at work, now silently gathering force in secret channels, anon swelling into a flood, inundating multitudes, filling the Church with energy, and overflowing into the wide world with its healing, uplifting, enabling influence. I believe that through these lean and barren years this power has been gathering force for a fresh advance, and that we are on the eve of a great outpouring of spiritual blessing throughout the world. It may not come along the old paths - indeed, it has never come as men expected it to come; it always cuts its own channels and shapes its own instruments of expression; there is always a great unexpectedness about a spiritual revival, both in its methods and in its results. Our wisdom will be to be open-minded as well as open-hearted, and to welcome the light as it breaks into power, however unfamiliar the way in which it will come. "The wind [spirit] bloweth where it liketh; thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh nor whither it goeth."
But if we do not know in what manner God will express His will and send forth his spirit into our midst, we do know what its outcome will be. Now as ever, it will issue in a renewed sense of the forgiving love of God in Christ; now, as ever, it will cleanse guilty consciences from their sorrow and their despair through faith in the eternal cross; now, as ever, it will move the hopeless and help¬less to turn to the Lord with the immemorial cry, "What must I do to be saved?" with a sense of victory over the sin that doth so easily beset them. Old things will pass away; behold, all things shall become new.
And the evangel to the individual will not be the only note of the coming revival. The times are ripe for a great social evangel; and it will come, if we only wait and work in faith. Not by hard mechanical schemes and artificial man-made utopias will this good thing for which we are all waiting and praying come; but by filling all parties in Church and State with a new enthusiasm for humanity; by breaking down the suspicions and the antago¬nisms of class against class; by filling men with a passion for righteousness and a love for what is just and fair between those who think and those who work, those who lead and those who can only follow. Grant this new temper - and a new temper always follows a new revival of spiritual life, whether in the individual or the community - and all our insoluble enigmas will become easy to deal with; the impossibilities of today will become the commonplaces of tomorrow. I venture to call you away from the poor polemics of the hour to the larger duty that presses at our door and demands our undivided attention. We may well forget the clashings of new theologies and old, with all their unworthy suspicions and recriminations and personalities, and to set ourselves to the real task of the hour, which is to wait on God, and join hands in doing His work. The world is athirst for the living God, and the living God is athirst for the world. Shall we, then, divide into parties, and schools, and coteries of thought "I Shall we say again?, 'I am of Paul,' and 'I am of Apollos,' and 'I am of Christ?' Is Christ, then, divided?" Rather let us lift up our eyes, and see the fields, how they are already ripe unto harvest, and verily the laborers are few. Let us pray that the Lord of harvest may send His servants into the harvest; let us pray that He may make us ready to toil and to suffer and to bleed in the sacred holy task of winning the world to Him who is its Lord and their Savior. The more I study the conditions and temper of our age, the more is the impression borne in on my mind that great social and religious forces are moving in uneasy slumber, and that they will break forth presently into activity. The question is, Who shall stand at the side of the reawakened Demos and say: "Loose him, and let him go?" Shall it be the spirit of Christ or the spirit of secularism? Is religion to be degraded into a department of economies, or is it to hold its place at the source and head of things - the great moving, inspiring force for social progress and for personal salvation? The result will depend on the attitude taken by the Church of Christ in this hour of crisis and trial. Our opportunity, I believe, is almost unparalleled in the history of our faith, to carry the gospel of the blessed God to a weary and hungry world; and in doing this we shall be as one heart and one mind, as were the disciples when the spirit fell on their wondering hearts, kindling tongues of flame and setting loose torrents of renewing power.
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