So What’s the Big Deal? [v63]

MAY 2004

SO WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?—For the past few months I have been trying to impart to you some insight into the real ‘meaning’ of “The Passion” movie—how a solitary life, Jesus’, can and has made such an ‘impact’ on our world. But let me ‘digress’ a bit.

Recent box office estimates (U.S. only) put the movie’s revenues just shy of $400 million, making it the 5th top grossing film of all time—recently surpassing movies like Start Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Lion King, Forest Gump, Finding Nemo, and Jurassic Park (all of which have had tremendous video/DVD sales). By the end of this summer, it is forecasted that it will ‘top’ Spider Man, ET,  and Star Wars: Episode IV (1977)—to become the 2nd on the all-time list—behind Titanic ($601M since 1997). Top industry ‘pundits’ have said that, within a year, with it’s release to the ‘video’ market, “The Passion” may just become the first $1B movie.

So what. All this ‘fervor’ is just because of all of the ‘controversy’ surrounding it, right? Well…maybe a bit, but I do believe that people are honestly interested in “SPIRITUAL” things.

A “Google” search for “spiritual” came up with over 13 million sites (over ten times more than “Detroit Red Wings”!). Subjects included: “exploring faith,” “discovery,” “practices,” “journey,” “intercessor,” “leading,” “enlightenment,” “tools,” “resources,” “teaching,” “The Four Laws,” “counterfeits,” “guide,” “strengthening,” “awakening,” “warfare,” and many more—a ‘lot’ of diverse interest!

A recent Associated Press story (17 APR 04) reported that “TV news coverage of religious issues has risen sharply compared to a decade ago, according to a study released earlier this month.

The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts did 303 stories on religion during the 12 months that ended March 1, compared with 121 stories during a one-year period in 1993, the Media Research Center said. Coverage also increased on the morning news shows (197 in 1993, 331 the past year) and on newsmagazines and Sunday morning interview shows, the media watchdog group said.

ABC’s Peter Jennings is particularly interested in the topic, and the network took the extraordinary step of devoting three hours of prime time recently to Jennings’ report on Jesus Christ and his disciple, Paul.

Besides the Jennings special, “Dateline NBC” ran “The Last Days of Jesus” and has already repeated it once. In addition, CBS in March reran “Jesus,” a made-for-TV movie that originally aired four years ago. ABC presented a made-for-TV movie on Judas and, for the 24th time since 1973, showed the 1956 feature film “The Ten Commandments.” ”

Getting ‘back on track’, but sticking with the film industry, I’ve got to believe that you are familiar with the 1946 classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The main point of the film is that each person’s life has some sort of ‘impact’ on everybody else’s life that he or she comes in contact with—and that there would be ‘gaping’ holes left by their absence.

One of the main points of “The Passion” movie is similar. Jesus Christ has had an enormous impact on history—in my opinion, more than anybody else—and had He never come, the ‘hole’ would be a canyon the size of a couple of continents (or bigger).

Despite its humble origins just over 2,000 years ago, the Christian ‘Church’, trying to follow all of Jesus’ teachings, has made more changes on earth for the good than any other ‘movement’ or ‘force’ in history. Consider a few of the highlights:

– “Good Samaritan” ethic—benevolence and charity
– High regard for human life
– ‘Invented’ the concept of hospitals
– Representative government
– Capitalism and free-enterprise
– ‘Founded’ the concept of universities—to offer higher education and literacy to the ‘masses’
– Separation of political powers
– Civil liberties—especially women and children
– Abolition of slavery
– Developed the concept of ‘modern’ science—and uncovered most of its early discoveries
– Civilization of many barbarian cultures
– Architectural design—perfected the “flying buttress” to support the roof of the cathedrals
– Developing and codifying many of the world’s languages
– Countless lives transformed from liabilities into assets to society

In about a month, the Christian Church will be celebrating something called “Pentecost.” In very ancient (pre-Jesus) Palestine, this marked the first grain harvest ‘sacrifice’ to the gods of power and fertility. The Jews, however, did also use this time to give a blessing of the harvest, they recalled earlier hard times and rescue by God. It also was used to mark the giving of the Torah (their “Book of the Law” from God) at Sinai.

But when Jesus came, this changed. Not long after His resurrection, He ‘ascended’ into Heaven from the Mount of Olives. He told His disciples not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the “promise of the Father.” This, as it turned out to be, was the same 50 day time period after Jesus’ resurrection that, on Pentecost morning, while the disciples were praying, a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came into the room and ‘tongues’ of fire that separated, came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them [Acts 2:2-4]. About 3,000 other people ‘believed’ in Jesus that day and were baptized.

So, you may ask, how could this event and Jesus’ life affect your life today? The Bible tells us that Jesus had spoken to His disciples before His resurrection of “going away” after He “came back”—and they wouldn’t be “going” with Him! This was very puzzling to His disciples—wondering ‘exactly’ what this meant.

Well, let me have Jesus tell you for Himself: “But the Counselor, the HOLY SPIRIT, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you [John 14:26].

His words shocked and disturbed them. They had ‘invested’ 3 years of their lives into following this Rabbi—it ‘felt’ like abandonment—but it turns out that it wasn’t. Jesus would now be our “intercessor” for us to God the Father—‘defending’ us before the Father to keep us ‘secure’.

So, sending the Holy Spirit is very significant. He provides constant divine ‘strength’ —not just some of the time as He had related to humans in the past (specific acts or, sometimes, for a “season”). This now allows a believer to live dependently on Him with great confidence!

When the Holy Spirit comes to ‘live’ inside a new believer, He mysteriously starts to change their character to that which is more like Christ. He will do many ‘things’ for you. A few that come to mind are: speaking to you; interceding for you; teaching you; leading you; empowering you; and appointing you for good works (Isn’t that ‘amazing’—these are most of the ‘top’ web site subjects that came up when I did the Google search!).

Admittedly, we can’t grasp the great mystery of how the Holy Spirit can live within us. If we could totally understand it, wouldn’t that make the God of the Bible kinda ‘wimpy’? If  He was no ‘bigger’ than what we could come up with in our minds, would you ‘bet’ your eternal ‘destiny’ on a god like that?

The thing is, the Bible says that it does happen, so, at this point, you have to determine for yourself if you believe if the Bible is true (and inerrant).

[For more information about whether the Bible is reliable, click this link:
http://www.4vis.com/sfm/sfm_pres/sp_q4_d1_1of10.html ]

Jesus said that, to be ‘properly’ filled with the Holy Spirit, then, is to be so influenced by, controlled by, or ‘permeated’ by Him, that you will reflect Christ’s moral character. So much so that you will be ‘levels above’ in being loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled than you were before—even during tremendous “tribulation.”

The Holy Spirit is One who can totally transform your ‘response’ to your every-day circumstances, give you ‘strength’ to be able to endure them for an extended period of time, and will continually ‘grow’ you toward the relationship that God originally planned between Him and humans.

French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal understood that man has a dilemma. His conscious mind tells him he is impure against a perfect Creator and he tries to reason it out. Man has supine indifference, lust, pride, selfishness, an alcoholic problem, or not feeling self-fulfilled, self-actualized. He plays mindless games to understand and rationalize his dilemma, but he finally realizes that his impurity cheats him out of being in harmony with God, creating a vacuum. Pascal admitted that this God-shaped vacuum was created within each of us that only He can fill. No wide amount of reasoning could eradicate it—only faith in God can supplant it.

Pascal’s scientific mind has affected the world even to this day. Yet, he pointed to Jesus Christ, who can fill our vacuum, our being, in order that we may have the final assurance that our lives may have order, not chaos, full and not empty, pressurized, not a vacuum. Yes, God understands our make-up, our chemistry and yearns to have a ‘relationship’ with you.

Well, it seems to me that the ‘theme’ of the Bible starts with the love of God for us human beings (Adam and Eve). It then goes on to explain how His beautiful plan for us was ‘diverted’—and how and why we continue to, sort of, ‘shoot’ ourselves in the foot. Well, then we’re told about God’s great and merciful plan to salvage us—that Jesus would be sent to the earth as the ‘antidote’ to the ‘poison’ that has been injected into our world—and that pain and suffering will one day be gone! (the antidote just hasn’t taken full effect yet). God is ‘waiting’ for as many as possible to come to a saving faith in His Son—something we can only do here on earth!

Question: If the world ‘ended’ tonight, are you sure of ‘where’ you would be tomorrow?

So, is any of this ‘important’ to you? Could this be ‘relevant’ to your daily life?—become a “big deal”? We all can get so caught up in the busyness of life that our perspectives are obscured. We see only what is immediately before us; our long-term vision is measured in years. But Jesus’ teachings remind us to broaden our view of the future—defining life using an eternal ‘timeline’.

Life on earth for typically 70-90 years is ‘inconsequential’ when measured by the ‘yardstick’ of eternity. That’s why Jesus emphasized that our choices on earth should be made in the light of their eternal consequences. Jesus IS a BIG DEAL because He ‘promises’ the possibility that there will be more than this life as we know it!

In addition to that, while we’re here on earth, He will send the HOLY SPIRIT to take up ‘residence’ in us, to help us through this character-building ‘outpost’ before we get to Heaven.

If you have not yet done so, let me encourage you to confess your transgressions before a Holy God, ask Jesus into your ‘heart’, and allow the “SPIRIT” to start a good work in you—today!

[Excerpts from: CinemaSpot.com; Associated Press; D. James Kennedy;  Bruce Bickel; Stan Jantz; RBC Ministries]

Blessings…Mark

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v63) for MAY 2004
If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net

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TREATISE ON THE GODS
A brilliant and volitile journalist for the New York Times, and a devout atheist, H.L. Mencken said this in 1930: “This historicity of Jesus is no longer questioned seriously by anyone, whether Chrisitian or unbeliever…It seems to be certain that many persons saw him after his supposed death on the cross, his resurrection. Upon that theory, the most civilized section of the human race has erected a structure of ideas and practices so vast in scope and so powerful in effect that the whole range of history shows nothing parallel.
[H.L. Mencken]

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WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM DEATH?
Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him [Hebrews 9:27-28].

No one likes to talk or think about his death or the death of his loved ones. However, there are certain facts we can learn from death.

We will all die.
Life is short, so we should make the most of each day.
Celebrate life daily. Live now-don’t wait.
Walk with God the Creator and Sustainer of life.

I like what Leo Buscaglia says about death and life:

“Death teaches us, if we want to hear, that the time is now. The time is now to pick up a telephone and call the person that you love. Death teaches us the joy of the moment. It teaches us we don’t have forever. It teaches us that nothing is permanent. It teaches us to let go, there’s nothing you can hang on to. And it tells us to give up expectations and let tomorrow tell its own story, because nobody knows if they’ll get home tonight. To me that’s a tremendous challenge. Death says “live now.””
[Jim Burns]

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BEGINNINGS
When I’m with you, it doesn’t matter where we are
Or what we’re doing. I’m with you, that’s all that matters
Time passes much too quickly when we’re together laughing
I wish I could sing it to you, oh no
I wish I could sing it to you
Mostly I’m silent
Never think about words to say

When I kiss you, I feel a thousand different feelings
The color of chills all over my body
And when I feel them, I quickly try to decide which one
I should try to put into words, oh no
Try to put into words
Mostly I’m silent

Only the beginning of what I want to feel forever
Only the beginning. Only just the start
I’ve got to get you into my life
Got to get you next to me
Only the beginning. Only just the start.
[The band “Chicago”]

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DEEP THOUGHT:
Jesus Christ. He claimed to be God.
Lunatic? He was the most credible, balanced person who ever lived’
Liar? His was the most notable life ever lived on the planet
If you don’t believe me, just ask His worst enemies
[D. James Kennedy – “Skeptics Answered”]

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Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with!  Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” [John 1:2].

Mark

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Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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