Archive for December, 2010

God’s Story and Our Story

Friday, December 24th, 2010 by Diane Chandler

Christmas is about God’s story.  His story did not begin with the birth of Jesus but goes all the way back in eternity past through to the creation of humankind in Genesis 1. Adam and Eve found themselves in the idyllic context of the Garden and ended up being deceived into thinking that they could eat what God had forbidden and somehow get away with it (sounds like the front page of the newspaper).  Eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil changed life forever for them ….. and for us.

Imagine trying to sew fig leaves together to cover up one’s nakedness and also hiding among the trees to escape God’s purview (as if God could not see them!).  There were afraid and experienced shame ~ universal human emotions.  God cursed the crafty serpent by announcing, “He will crush your head and you will strike his heel” (Gen 3:15b).  This would be fulfilled in Christ’s victory over death, hell, and the grave, clearly finalized in His resurrection from the dead (Ro 6:20).

What grips me about God’s meta-story is that our stories derive from HisI am part of God’s story, and so are you.  God sent His Son into the world to provide the ultimate sacrifice for our sin.  The sacrifice of lambs, goats, and bulls vividly described in the Hebrew Bible could not ultimately atone for sin.  God sent the perfect sacrificial lamb, His only Son, to atone for the sins of all humanity ~ born in a lowly manger.  In humility, we need to acknowledge that we are sinners in need of a Savior, cannot save ourselves, and then place our faith in Jesus Christ, as the Messiah of the world. 

I remember so clearly when I received Christ as my Savior.  Quite unexpectedly during my senior year of undergrad, I realized that I had enough credits to graduate one semester early.  This extra semester gave me the opportunity to travel around the U.S., visiting friends and relatives and looking for employment.  I visited Miami, Houston, and Atlanta.  God encountered me in each city through the relationships with those I was visiting. 

While in Miami, I had stayed up all night with friends and caught the sunrise on Easter Sunday.  Because of overuse of my contact lenses, the corneas of both eyes were almost completely damaged (not a good thing when you have no health insurance).  Like Paul being blinded on the Damascus Road, I stayed in a completely dark room for three days, hoping that my vision would be restored.  This is the first time I remember clearly calling on the name of the Lord for help.  After my eyesight was restored, a friend gave me a parting gift of a Bible at my departure. 

In Houston, my uncle’s friend, a godly Christian woman, took me under her wing for the two weeks I was there, included me in all she did and simply loved me.  While in Houston, I sat upon my uncle’s sofa, while he was away on a 3-day business trip, and literally cried out to God to come into my life and guide me.  At that moment, God’s grace filled my life and I realized that God was real, that Jesus was in fact the Savior of the world, and that we might have eternal life by inviting Him into our hearts. 

The Savior of the world born as a baby!  What events surrounded your receiving Jesus into your heart?  What circumstances caused you to be aware of your need for God’s redemption?  How did your life change?

To all of our Renewal Dynamics blog readers, may you have a blessed Christmas and New Year!

To the Eternal Battle! – A Poem

Monday, December 20th, 2010 by Wolfgang Vondey

Sharp. The sword.                                                           
The edge. Cuts.
Deeply to the heart.
Swift. The strike.
The blade. Glows.
Illuminates the soul.
Painful. The truth.
The word. Divides.
To the core of my being.
Suffering. The fight.
The battle. Endures.
Sin knows no further.
Dead. The Spirit.
The lord and lifegiver. Comes.
Lifts up my heart.
Raised. To new life.
I arise with Christ.
Called with truth sharp and swift.
To the eternal battle!  Read the rest of this entry »

Sometimes Bullets Just Miss…

Friday, December 17th, 2010 by Jason Wermuth

On Tuesday night I watched in horror as CNN played what I believed was a video of multiple school board members being shot at point blank range by a man bent on vengeance. The video slowed, showing, in agonizing detail, the bullets hitting the pieces of paper that sat on the table in front of the superintendent before they appeared to penetrate his body. The man was apparently angry that his wife had been fired. I was shocked. I sat in horror, mortified that CNN would show such a disgusted and deplorable act over and over on its network. I felt myself becoming numb and cold as I watched this scene unfold… At the end, the gunman is shot by a security guard and when he hit the ground, he took his own life.

While interviewing the school superintendent, Anderson Cooper commented on the miraculous fact that none of the school board members had been hurt. My interest piqued. Not one of the men was hit by a bullet. One member of the board thought the man was shooting blanks, but he had not been. Behind the chair of the superintendent who appeared to have been shot were multiple bullet holes.

The video clearly shows the bullets hitting the papers in front of the superintendent, and there are holes in the wall behind him. The superintendent recounted that he was sure the Lord saved him, but skeptics will certainly say “sometimes bullets just miss…”

Watch the CNN story for yourself below (VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED!)

“At Least He’s Not Gay!”

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010 by Marc Santom

A few weeks ago, America caught wind of a rather familiar story—another televangelist had been caught having an adulterous affair. Reverend Marcus Lamb, of the Daystar Christian TV Network, came clean to his global audience, confessing that he cheated on his wife & co-host, Joni, with another woman a few years earlier.

DayStar TV's Marcus Lamb

What makes this story even more interesting is that the timing of Rev. Lamb’s recent confession seemed to coincide with the timing of three alleged extortionists’ recent attempt to squeeze $7.5 million out of Lamb’s ministry. As long as the preacher paid up, these three would shut up about his affair. At the end of the day, Rev. Lamb “refused to use God’s money” to pay off the extortionists and decided to come clean instead.

But what really arrested my attention in this story was a statement made by Rev. Lamb’s marriage counselor, Fred Kendall. When asked to comment on Lamb’s affair, this is what he had to say to the Daystar CTV Network audience:

“He had one inappropriate period of misbehavior–with one person. And it wasn’t a man and it wasn’t a transvestite. It was with a woman—and she was a Christian woman.”

Well, that’s a relief! At least it was a Christian woman….and at least it wasn’t an affair with a gay man or cross dresser. For real, Mr. Kendall? That’s your comment to the world? You sound less like a marriage counselor and more like a politician’s press secretary trying to spin the facts to make your boss look good.

Not only does Mr. Kendall smugly mitigate the seriousness of this grievous act by drawing obvious comparisons to the fall of former evangelical heavyweight, Ted Haggard (which is quite the loving and respectful thing to do to a penitent brother in the Lord, don’t you think?), but he echoes an outrageous notion that is found in many evangelical circles. And here’s the notion: that heterosexual sin is somehow more acceptable in God’s eyes than homosexual sin.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Pain of Premature Death

Sunday, December 12th, 2010 by Diane Chandler

Elizabeth Edwards (1949-2010)

Over this past week, two public figures died prematurely.  One had cancer.  The other committed suicide.  Both had to deal with a sense of personal and public shame because of a family member’s misdeeds.

This past Tuesday, December 7th, Elizabeth Edwards passed away one day after her doctors discontinued her cancer treatments. Elizabeth was the ex-wife of John Edwards, former senator of North Carolina, 2004 vice-presidential nominee, and 2008 presidential contender. We know Elizabeth for her courageous battle with breast cancer throughout her husband’s campaigns, her public struggle with her husband’s infidelity and illegitimate child, her advocacy of health issues, and her commitment to her children. At 61 years old, she leaves behind three children, ages 28, 12, and 10. 

Yesterday, December 11th, Mark Madoff, 46-year old son of convicted financier Bernie Madoff, took his own life in his Manhattan apartment, while his 2-year old son slept nearby.  The date marked the two year anniversary of when Mark and his brother went to the authorities after their father confessed to the two decade-long Ponzi scheme.  Mark had e-mailed his wife while she vacationed in Florida with their 4-year old daughter, with a parting message and asking that someone check in on their son.  

Both Edwards and Madoff dealt very differently with a deep and agonizing sense of personal and public shame.  For Edwards, she persevered, holding her head up high and her children together.  For Mark Madoff, he succumbed to shame in bearing the family name associated with his father’s dastardly misdeeds, the endless judgment by association, ongoing lawsuits, and unemployment. 

I grieve the loss of both of their lives. 

C.S. Lewis, Christian apologist & writer

When Christian apologist and author C. S. Lewis lost his wife, Joy Davidman, to bone cancer, he wrote a journal that poignantly dealt with the grief.  This was later published in 1961 as the book A Grief Observed.  His heart wrenching  struggle regarding his deep loss reveals that we can be honest with God about our struggles, uncertainties, anger, and pain.  Can you imagine calling God “a Cosmic Sadist”?  Lewis did.

How do we deal with questions related to personal and family identity, forgiveness, freedom, and issues of life and death?  How does the message of Jesus Christ offer hope in the midst of deep despair, guilt, pain, and loss?  

What are your experiences in ministering and/or receiving the love of God during such times?

Renewing Pentecostal Theology

Monday, December 6th, 2010 by Wolfgang Vondey

Pentecostal theology needs renewal, a shift of focus away from issues relating to the major emphases of classical Pentecostalism in North America and toward a global theological agenda that is of broad ecumenical significance not only for Pentecostals. Rather than debating topics that are of central importance in classical Pentecostal circles, often emphasized by the framework of salvation, healing, Spirit baptism, sanctification, and the coming kingdom, a renewed Pentecostal theology should emphasize themes that are of general theological significance.  Five areas need particular consideration: Read the rest of this entry »