Hallelujah! It’s Share-A-Thon!

It’s no secret that my favorite word is “Hallelujah.”

 

I type it on social media a lot… usually in all caps.

 

It also frequently comes up in conversation. 

 

And, of course, I can be get pretty free with it in a church or mission setting.

 

I ‘m not quite sure if I’m using it too much, but a pastor friend of mine did start calling me “Hallelujah Jones.”

 

But, you know, I’m okay with that.

 

The word “hallelujah” is derived from ancient Hebrew and means “Praise the LORD.” More specifically, it’s Hebrew roots mean to burst forth in shining praise of YHWH, (Yahweh) which is the sacred name of God.

 

Furthermore, if you put the word “Hallelujah” into an online translator,  it is recognizable in almost every one of the world’s languages from Afrikaans to Zulu. There are a few exceptions, but the wonderful thing is that pretty much everybody everywhere gets it.

 

 The glorious thing (literally) is that God is worthy to be praised! 

 

I like the nickname that pastor gave me because I have been praying for years that I would live a life taking delight in the Lord. I have specifically asked that I would live a life of praise to the LORD. So if that’s how I look to someone else, I say, “Hallelujah!”

 

And that’s why I like Kinship Christian Radio so much. It’s purpose, mission, and reason for existence is to bring shining praise to God 24 hours per day, seven days a week. It is ceaseless praise! 

 

And that’s why I like Share-A-Thon so much.

 

Once a year, God’s praises and the shining rejoicing of His glory are turned up as high as they can go at Kinship Christian Radio. Fellowship events are planned and carried out, prayer is intensified, songs of praise resound all the more, and testimonies of lives changed to His glory are shared over the air.

 

And yes, the listeners who support the ministry are encouraged to participate financially –and that’s worthy of an enormous HALLELUJAH because it means we’re all part of the ministry. It means we’re all involved in sharing the praise and glory of the LORD with each other not for our own glory or our own benefit but to lift up, support, encourage, bless, and save the souls of others.

 

At its very essence, Share-A-Thon is a celebration of a miracle. 

 

The miracle is that Jesus came to bring glory, honor, and praise to God the Father by leading a perfect, sinless life and loving us enough to die for us. And the glory of that miracle was multiplied and magnified and confirmed by His resurrection from the dead! 

 

Jesus lives!

 

Jesus is LORD!

 

And because He lives and He is LORD, all who believe are adopted into the family of God. We all share a heritage, a family tree, an inheritance. We end looking like a whole bunch of kinfolk who have this look in our eyes, in our smiles, and in our hearts that make us look a little like Jesus. 

 

And when the world sees that look, that “can’t quite put your finger on it but I know they have something different” family resemblance in us, HALLELUJAH! Brothers and sisters, HALLELUJAH!

 

Today’s Praise

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.” Revelation 19:6 (NIV)

 

 

Where the Wind Goes

 

 

 

There’s a line in the song “So Will I” by Hillsong that goes, “And if the wind goes where you send it, so will I.”

 

It’s a song we’ve played pretty frequently on Kinship Christian Radio, and I’ve actually prayed that lyric to the LORD more than once.

 

I’m convinced He heard that prayer and answered it in abundance because He sent me more places and more miles in this past year than I’ve traveled in all my previous years put together.

 

First, it was about 5600 miles to Guatemala City and back in March. Then, it was 4,000 miles to Halifax, Nova Scotia in May. That was followed by 500 miles to Pinehaven Christian Assembly near Park Rapids in August, and I followed all that up with 2200 miles to and from Vidor, Texas in October.

 

Now, I know there are a lot of other folks who have a lot more frequent flyer miles than I do, but for a guy who rarely left the state for the majority of my lifetime, the LORD has clearly been up to something in my life.

 

And I think I figured out what it is.

 

It’s people.

 

It’s relationships.

 

It’s love.

 

I met fifty orphan girls at Prince of Peace home for girls and a dozen staff members who loved them and cared for them. I met seven team members who traveled with me to that orphanage and loved them all.

 

I spent time with a dear couple my family loves in Nova Scotia and prayed a blessing over them that the LORD saw fit to grant in a miraculous and beautiful way.

 

I spent three days at MANCAMP with 50 other guys learning how we can love stronger, bolder, more authentically. That was immediately followed by three days with a dozen pastors healing and learning how they could love their flocks better and more effectively. 

 

And I spent a week with a team of 15 that linked with another team of 15 supported by a congregation of 50 or so as we repaired homes devastated by an awful flood.

 

All the miles I traveled don’t seem like much at all now in comparison to all the relationships I now have that I didn’t have before. 

 

My prayer list is enormous now and the thing is, these are not people who I didn’t know a year ago who are now acquaintances. These are people I didn’t know a year ago whom I now love.

 

It’s amazing.

 

When I was lost and had strayed from Christ so many years ago, there was a point when I didn’t think I was capable of loving anyone anymore. And now, the LORD has added hundreds of people to the list of people I not only love but will get to spend eternity with in heaven.

 

And I’m convinced that these relationships are the treasures Jesus spoke of in Matthew 6:20.

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. (NIV)

 

We know we’re not going to take our cars, our homes, or our big screen televisions to heaven with us. We also know that God sent Jesus so that we could have a real and true relationship with Him. 

 

And its the love in those relationships, the love of being part of the family of brothers and sisters in Christ that is the real treasure. This is the treasure we find when we see Jesus in each other.

 

In all those travels this year, in all the relationships God gave me, they all involved eating together, praying together, singing together, worshiping together, laughing together, sharing His Word together, and loving together.

 

They all involved sharing together.

 

And brothers and sisters,  that’s what Share-a-thon is. Yes, we share this ministry with financial support, but the real linkage, the real relationship is the music and the Word and the time we spend together in relationship together. We are truly all kin. We are all related as brothers and sisters in Christ. 

 

There’s a list of Share-a-thon events below. I urge you to come to one or more of them to share the love of Jesus in your heart with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

Come, and let us see Jesus in you.

 

KJYL BBQ: Wednesday, November 7, from 5-7:00 p.m. at the KJYL studio near Goldfield, Iowa.

KJCY’s Soup & Sweets Supper: Tuesday, November 13, from 4:30 to 7:00 PM at the Family Life Center located in the CMA Church in Osage, Iowa.

 KJLY’s Soup and Sweets Luncheon: Wednesday, November 14th, from 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM at the New Creation World Outreach Church in Mankato

KJLY Spaghetti Supper: Wednesday, November 14, 4:30 – 7:00 p.m. at the KJLY studio in Blue Earth

KJIA Soup & Sweets Supper: Thursday, November 15th,  4:30 PM to 7:00 PM in the Fellowship Hall at the First Presbyterian Church in Spirit Lake.

Gene’s BBQ: Thursday, November 15, 4:30 – 7:00 p.m. at the KJLY studio in Blue Earth

 

Today’s Praise

“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

 

 

 

Changing the World

 

 

Songs can change the world.

 

Case in point: Back in the 1980’s, music critics complained that glam-rocker David Lee Roth wrote all his songs about sex, partying, and cars. Roth, enraged by these accusations because he had clearly never written any song about cars up to that point, composed “Panama” which was about a race car called the Panama Express. It’s a typical, loud, shallow, hair band song from an era I’m happy to let slip away as a long-forgotten side-note to history, but it changed the world when the CIA played it (along with other songs of the era) at insanely high volume for ten days to flush Panamanian dictator General Manuel Noriega out of hiding in the Vatican Embassy and topple his government.

 

While that’s an amusing example of a song being used as a military weapon to change the world, there are plenty of songs that changed the world by changing the way people look at things.

 

When Elvis Presley first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956, a prominent reviewer for The New York Times called his performance a “gross national disservice.” After Elvis came The Beatles in 1963 and The Rolling Stones in 1964.

 

And American music was changed forever.

 

Songs like Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, ‘We Gotta Get Outta This Place” by The Animals and hundreds of others strongly influenced public opinion about the war in Vietnam. Along with those songs were many hundreds of others that conveyed the hippie culture of the 1960’s and 70’s. Mingled among them were songs about civil rights and women’s rights.

 

There’s no doubt those songs changed the culture –some for the good, and some for the bad we still cope with today.

 

That’s why, when Allen Jones mentioned the controversy about Christian artist Lauren Daigle’s appearance on the Ellen Show on Monday, it didn’t surprise me to see Christians debating it on social media.

 

Basically, some Christians say Daigle was wrong to appear on a show hosted by an openly homosexual host as it seems to endorse or approve of that “lifestyle.”

 

In my opinion, (and I can only speak about my opinion) it’s a victory.

 

And I say it’s a victory in the same way it was a victory for Elvis, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show. It’s hardly debatable that the mainstream media has become decidedly anti-Jesus, but here was an immensely popular Christian artist singing openly, unabashedly, gloriously about Jesus not only rising from the grave, but continuing to save people from sin and death!

 

As Christians, this is the time to join Daigle in praising Jesus and witnessing to the power of the love of Jesus Christ. This is the time to express our joy that the nearly four million people who watch this show have heard the gospel beautifully and winsomely delivered. This is our chance to contact the network and ask to see and hear more artists like Daigle.

 

And, yes, that can indeed change the culture. Scientific studies had “discovered” that music is both a physical and emotional experience releasing oxytocin and dopamine creating powerful memories on a subconscious level. Music can also influence and aid in neuroplasticity, which can help heal the brain and rewire the way the brain works.

 

But, and more importantly, music influences one’s soul. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible mentions music. We are told in many, many verses to sing and make joyful music to the LORD. There’s a very good reason so much of the Bible is devoted to the Psalms with specific instructions for the instruments and the melodies used for various songs.

 

Make no mistake, the culture was changed away from the love of Jesus on purpose. The counter-culture of the previous era published manuals and books on how to influence culture to their way of thinking. Music was a part of that strategy. To a large degree, they have been successful, but the chink in their armor is that it is not sustainable. Eventually, sin and darkness are exposed for what they are. The darkness cannot prevail over the light of truth and love. (John 1:5)

 

Jesus knew that. Jesus showed us that.

 

The religious leaders of his day murmured among themselves about how Jesus polluted himself by eating with tax collectors and sinners, but Jesus told them the tax collectors and the prostitutes were entering the kingdom of heaven ahead of them.

 

True, Jesus told the woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-11) to go and sin no more, but before that He got the Pharisees to drop their stones and their murderous plans and consider which of them was without sin. In the end no one, not even Jesus, stood in condemnation of her.

 

And it reminds me that I cannot look like Jesus with stones clenched in my fists.

 

I must never forget that the real enemy is not other people. The real enemy hides in the darkness because he cannot stand to be in the presence of the Light of the World.

 

Today’s Praise

I thought that I was too far gone
For everything I’ve done wrong
Yeah, I’m the one who dug this grave
But You called my name
You called my name

All at once I came alive
This beating heart, these open eyes
The grave let go
The darkness should have known…
You’re still rolling stones
Lyrics from “You’re Still Rolling Stones” by Lauren Daigle
Written by Dan Jones

Kin

 

 

 

I spent the past week talking funny. 

 

I was part of a team that went to Vidor, Texas, to help repair some of the homes devastated by Hurricane Harvey last year. Vidor is a town of about 10,000 tucked back into the corner of southeast Texas. It’s less than 25 miles from both the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana.

 

So, of course, I didn’t talk like folks that were from there. Granted, I did catch myself saying “y’all” once or twice and it was very easy to respond “Yessir,” and “Yes, ma’am,” when asked if I enjoyed the jambalaya, creole shrimp, blackened redfish, and/or gumbo. The people of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church were very loving, generous, and hospitable when it came to feeding the 30 of us like kings.

 

One of the words I noticed in their conversations was “kin.” No doubt those of you who are familiar with Kinship Christian Radio certainly know what that word means, but I’ve never heard anyone here in the frozen north casually remark, “Yessir, they’re kin.”

 

But it’s a very relevant word for what went on last week.

 

Before I left for Vidor, I did an internet search just to find out where it was. In doing so, I discovered that Vidor had at one time been a “sundown town” where black people were not welcome after dark –and it was enforced by the town police. The Ku Klux Klan had held a march there in 1993 protesting plans to bring African Americans into public housing.

 

It was one of the first things we talked about with Pastor Skipper Sauls when we arrived. While we were still in the parking lot, before we were even finished unloading our bags, the subject came up and Skipper did not dodge the question. He admitted that Vidor had indeed engaged in racism in its past. He grew up here and he remembered Klan events taking place when he was a child about 40 years ago. He said all that has changed now, and although there were probably still a few old racists  in this town, anyone and everyone was welcome in this church to experience the love of Jesus Christ.

 

But let me back up for a moment and give you some background: Hurricane Harvey came ashore on August 26, 2017, near Rockport, Texas, southwest of Vidor, with winds of 130 mph. The storm’s winds weakened shortly thereafter, but the megastorm slowed to a crawl and began dumping absolutely phenomenal amounts of rain over the course of the next two days. At one point, an official in nearby Tyler County announced: “Anyone who chooses to not [evacuate] cannot expect to be rescued and should write their social security numbers in permanent marker on their arm so their bodies can be identified. The loss of life and property is certain. GET OUT OR DIE!”

 

Before it was over, Houston had been saturated with over 30 inches of rain and Nederland, Texas, (right next to Vidor) measured over 60 inches of rainfall. The rain came so hard and so fast that the Army Corp of Engineers had opened the gates on reservoirs upstream from Vidor for fear that the levees holding back the waters would fail. With five feet of rainfall and the dam gates opened, the entire area was absolutely inundated.

 

Skipper took us on a tour of some of the areas where he and others from the church had rescued people using a boat. We stopped at one point and he showed us  the place where the boat’s propeller had hit the top of a stop sign beneath the flood waters. We turned down a side street and he showed us a video taken in that boat motoring along in that exact location. At one point, the motor hit a submerged object and they later found out it had broken the sunroof out of a parked car.

Of course, the damage to homes and cars was devastating. Most of the homes sit on concrete slabs just a couple of inches above ground level because the frost never enters the ground there. Even in homes that sit on blocks, all the carpet and all the drywall in virtually every home was destroyed.

 

Skipper has a background in construction and remodeling and the Lord opened doors for donated materials from numerous companies, ministries, and churches. I was among a crew of 15 that arrived at the church two days before another crew of 15 arrived to also participate in the work of restoring homes.

 

One crew was building a porch, another was hanging drywall in a different home, and I was working on a home in need of interior paint, kitchen counters, and floor tile. I was assigned to floor tile because I had some experience in that area.  Over the course of five days, we tiled four bedrooms, a bathroom and a half, a hallway, the laundry room, and a section of the main living area. It quickly became obvious that my “experience” with floor tile was approximately equal to my experience with flapping my arms and flying to the moon in comparison to what Skipper’s 16 year-old son, Isaac, knew about the subject. After five days, I can now truthfully say I know how to effectively mix up a five gallon bucket of thin-set mortar.

 

I can also say that, although I now have much more knowledge, there is no way my now 60 year-old body could be used to support my family as a professional tiler.

 

But much more importantly, I am the recipient of the incredible joy that comes from knowing that within a couple of days the family that has been living in an RV trailer in the backyard of their own home will be able to move out of that cramped space and cook meals, wash clothes, and sleep in their home.

 

They are beautiful people who helped us any way they could, lifting heavy tile, sweeping up dusty construction debris, and radiating appreciative smiles for all we did over the course of that week.

 

And as we all stood in that house for a final prayer and blessing over this home and this family, we were all tired and hot and aching and dusty and dirty.

 

And we all looked a little like Jesus.

 

We all looked and felt like kin.

 

And kin is thicker than how you talk or the color of your skin or the depth of the flood waters.

 

Today’s Praise

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God —children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:12&13 (NIV)

 

 

 

Collusion, Lies, and Deceit

 

 

 

I recently became the unwitting victim of a vast conspiracy involving collusion at the highest levels. The plot against me involved lies and deception that stretched its nefarious tentacles even into my own church!

 

It all begin innocently enough. I attended Bible Study and church on Sunday morning, which was wonderful, heart-warming, and fulfilling. This was not out of the ordinary at all.

Another “ordinary” aspect of my Sundays is a trip to my in-laws where I ordinarily flop myself into a recliner and take a nap until late afternoon, after which we play a few hands of ordinary cards. After that, we ordinarily enjoy a lovely supper and maybe play another game of cards. 

 

It’s all very relaxing and I actually look forward to the rejuvenating effects of resting on the Sabbath just as the Lord told us to do. 

 

After church, my lovely wife (a.k.a MLW) informed me that our daughter (age 24) wanted to ride with us to her mom and dad’s place, but she couldn’t do so until 2:00 p.m. because she had to take a test for her online college class. There was nothing terribly out-of-the-ordinary about that, so I readily agreed as I enjoyed a bowl of left-over chili for lunch. After I finished my lunch, MLW said that her mom and dad’s Chihuahua (Rosie) had fleas, so our Chihuahua (Sophie, daughter of Rosie) would have to stay home. Again, not terribly out-of-the-ordinary. 

 

After lunch, I settled into my recliner and valiantly fought the urge to nap, despite a belly fully of chili and decades of habituated snoozing. Soon, it was two o-clock and MLW informed me that she had left her glasses at church, so we really should stop and pick them up. “No problem,” I said. “I have a key.” The church was on our way, so again, nothing unusual or weird going on here.

As we arrived at the church, I saw a young girl inside the church run past the door. I was not aware of any event going on at the church, but people frequently have events at the church that I have been told about but have forgotten were going to happen. Besides, it meant the door was probably already open.

 

MLW pulled up to the side door because there is construction going on at the front door and I found it unlocked, just as I had expected.

 

I walked down the short hall into the sanctuary and found about 50 people standing there, all of whom shouted “SURPRISE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” the moment they saw me.

 

Among them were my in-laws, my brother, many members of our congregation, and many of the staff of Kinship Christian Radio –and almost all of them were wearing plaid flannel.

 

Something very OUT of the ordinary was going on here.

As I surveyed the situation, I found there was red and black plaid flannel everywhere. The table cloths were plaid flannel. There was a table piled with gifts wrapped in flannel. There was even a cake decorated in red and black plaid flannel inscribed with “Happy 60th Birthday Dan.”

 

It was approximately at this point that I became seriously aware that I was not going to get a nap that Sunday afternoon.

 

Upon further examination, I found a large piece of poster board with dozens of pictures of me throughout my life wearing plaid flannel and often holding fish I had caught. Some of the fish were fairly large and some were remarkably tiny. There were also some touching photos of me with my lovely wife and/or beautiful daughter. None of the pictures will ever put me in danger of being considered a hipster fashion guy, even though I was wearing plaid flannel a half-century before it finally became fashionable. Those in attendance had written birthday greetings and blessings around the margin of the photos.

 

My lovely wife and daughter along with many relatives and friends and brothers and sisters in Christ had conspired and colluded to deceive me. I later learned that the event required a full year of plotting and scheming to pull off.

 

And they were absolutely successful as I had no clue at all any of this was coming.

 

But, gradually, as I greeted those in attendance and opened gifts and accepted blessings and the occasional good-natured ribbing about being “over-the-hill” I did get a clue. All of this was done for me. All of this was because there are a whole lot of people in my life who actually and truly love me.

 

And that’s humbling because the whole time it was going on, I knew I didn’t earn it and I didn’t deserve it. 

 

My daughter wasn’t taking on online test, my wife had left her glasses at church on purpose, and Rosie didn’t have fleas. But the conspiracy was necessary because if I had known the truth, I would have tried to stop people who loved me from blessing me and that would have denied them the blessing of giving. 

 

One of the hardest lessons I have ever learned is to accept grace graciously and with gratitude. I still don’t do it very well. So, deepest thanks to all of you loving conspirators for your extraordinary love and skillfully-wrought plans.

 

Thank you.

 

May the Lord bless you as you have blessed me. 

 

Today’s Praise

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8 (ESV)

Written by Dan Jones

On Being a Song

I think we’ve all met someone whose life seems to sing to us. 

I met a young lady this weekend who is coaching volleyball and has her players writing little notes of encouragement and delivering them to the players on the opposing team with a little piece of candy before the game –and she glows from within like a love song to Jesus.

 

And I know a man whose wealth of wisdom and knowledge convey the grandeur of God like a symphony.

 

Then, there’s another guy whose enthusiasm for the Lord and all Jesus has done is like a rock concert, complete with fireworks and a light show.

 

The reason I bring this up is that the other day, a couple of verses in Ephesians 5 jumped off the page like… well, like a passage you’ve read dozens of times and suddenly the words turn on a 5000 watt halogen stage light above your head.

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Verses 18-20, NIV)

 

Taken in context, what’s happening in these verses is Paul telling the Ephesians how to look like real, actual followers of Christ. The part that got me was that little phrase, “speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.” 

 

Now, there are a few Bible commentators who say this is meant to be a description of how we do worship when we are gathered together, but even those theologians have to admit that that is not at all what we get from the context or the literal translation of these passages. 

 

No, I believe Paul is telling the Ephesians to live with songs of praise to Jesus in their hearts at all times, such that it comes out as joy and gratitude direct from the Holy Spirit –not just when we sing, but in what we speak

 

I believe Paul is saying we should be a song.

 

I’ve never been a big fan of musicals. It always seemed odd that someone would write a movie where something is happening to some people and, in the midst of their everyday lives, they suddenly start singing and dancing. I once took a cinema class where the professor had us watch the 1952 classic romance-musical “Singing in the Rain.” In discussion afterward,  a classmate pointed out that the scene with the namesake song seemed to have absolutely nothing to do with the plot of the movie. The professor confessed this was true and explained that, even though the song had nothing to do with the movie, it was such a good song the producers couldn’t bear to cut it.

 

I was extremely glad that my classmate had asked this question because I had been entertaining exactly the same thought, and now his grade was far more likely to suffer because of his obviously politically incorrect anti-musical bias. (Yes, that is a thing in college.) 

 

But Paul’s point is that God has absolutely everything to do with absolutely everything we experience as His children here on this earth. Bursting into singing of God’s glory and gratitude to the One who paid it all is absolutely relevant in every circumstance of our lives. Psalms and hymns and songs from the Spirit are never out of context in our lives. We always have ten thousand reasons to praise Him. 

 

And I hope by now there’s a song in your head:

May the words I say
And the things I do
Make my lifesong sing
Bring a smile to you

 

Those are some of the lyrics from “Lifesong” by Casting Crowns and, even though it’s been playing on Kinship Christian Radio for thirteen years, I still enjoy hearing it. 

 

It’s one of those songs that just gets into you. You find yourself humming it or singing it even when you’re nowhere near the radio. It becomes part of you, like “Reckless Love” did this summer and “Multiplied” did a couple of years ago. 

 

I love those songs and many, many of the songs on Kinship Christian Radio because the Holy Spirit moves in them and through them in my soul. If you read that passage again, Paul says to speak with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs from the Spirit

 

And it’s the Spirit that changes people. It’s the Spirit that draws people to be saved. It’s the Spirit that convicts us without condemning us. It’s the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives that is the guarantee of our inheritance as heirs to the kingdom of God. (Ephesians 1:14, 2 Corinthians 1:22, 2 Corinthians 5:5)

 

And it is the presence of that Holy Spirit of Jesus in us that people can see in us when our lifesong sings to the praise of His glory. And it’s seeing that in us that draws people to Jesus.

 

So don’t be afraid to be a song. Go ahead and let your lifesong sing to Him.

 

Today’s Praise

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Colossians 3:16 (NIV)

 

 

 

“…for they know not what they do.”

 

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34a (NIV)

These are commonly acknowledged as the first words Jesus spoke from the cross, and they have always astounded me.

 

It’s dumb-founding that Jesus would plead for mercy for the very people who nailed him to the cross when those people stood all around him mocking him. That level of love, mercy, and grace is something I do not think I would have found anywhere within myself had I been in that position. 

 

As I studied this verse before beginning to write, I found that Elicott’s Commentary for English Readers expressed an opinion that Jesus’ prayer was for the unwitting soldiers who were just doing their jobs but, “Not Pilate, for he knew that he had condemned the innocent; not the chief priests and scribes, for their sin, too, was against light and knowledge.” 

 

Pilate knew he was condemning an innocent man to death. And the scribes and chief priests knew, somewhere in their hard hearts, that this was a political execution designed to preserve their power and authority. 

 

And the crowd knew what they were doing when they chose to have Barabas released as they cried out, “Let His blood be upon us and our children!”

 

But none of them really knew what they were  doing. 

 

None of them knew that they were involved in the execution of the actual Son of God. None of them knew that this death on the cross was the one of which prophesy had foretold for thousands of years. None of them knew that this death was a sacrificial atonement for all the sins of the world from the beginning of time to the end.

 

None of them knew that the death of this perfect, sinless, God-Man had been part of our omniscient God’s plan from the moment He spoke the universe into being. 

 

None of them knew that he would rise from the dead that coming Sunday morning and that the world would be forever changed.

 

But Jesus did.

 

The condemned criminal, his hands and feet pierced with nails, suffering from massive blood loss, beaten, punched, flogged, whipped, spit upon, hanging as the weight of his own body slowly asphyxiated him, knew that he was on that cross to purchase with his life the forgiveness of every man, woman, and child who would ever live on this planet.

 

He had seen first hand, with his own eyes, what man does when God takes on human form and walks among man. He had seen what man does when given the opportunity to stand in judgement of God. He had seen what man does when he puffs out his chest and decides that he knows exactly what God wants him to do. He had seen what man does when he convinces himself that he is God.

 

And that is that he kills God. 

 

And he kills God mercilessly, mockingly, maliciously. 

 

And that is why I believe that this prayer Jesus cried out was for all of humanity, not just those guilty in the moment, but all of us who share in the guilt of the necessity of his death.

 

And that makes it even more astounding. 

 

It’s astounding that humanity is capable of such an incredible level of depravity and its even more astounding that this depravity is exceeded only by his amazing love for us. 

 

And I have come to the conclusion that none of us know what we are really doing. I believe that none of us fully understand the real battles taking place against rulers and authorities and powers against the spiritual forces of evil in realms we can neither see nor understand while we are in this world. 

 

I know I don’t.

 

But I do know that this very Jesus, just before he willingly submitted himself to die at the hands of evil men for my sins and for your sins, gave us very clear instructions on how we should live among the evil that exists in this world:

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15: 9-17 (NIV)

 

Today’s Praise

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV)

 

Failure

Thumb, Hand, Down, Face, Emotion, Emoticon

I may spur a contentious theological debate with this statement, but I believe a Sunday afternoon nap is biblically mandated. (Exodus 20:8-11)

 

Okay, I may stretching the hermaneutics with that a little, but it’s a proven fact that naps are good for you and human beings do have an actual need to rest every seven days. These are true facts “discovered” by people who apparently have jobs figuring out that the things God told us thousands of years ago are actually true.

 

Anyway, as I reclined in my easy chair this past Sunday, I flicked on the TV and discovered that the Vikings were losing to the Packers by a score of something like 21 to 7. I noted that there was about 2:37 left in the third quarter, which made it very easy to decided to shut the TV off and commence with a nap devoid of any concern whatsoever for what I assumed would be the usual outcome of a contest between these two perennial rivals.

 

I awoke to find that there was only thirty seconds left in the game and the score was tied.

 

“Well, huh. That’s unusual,” I thought to myself.

 

If you saw that game, you know the outcome resulted in a tie after ten minutes of overtime chiefly because the Viking’s kicker Daniel Carlson missed a fairly easy field goal that would have won the game. 

 

It was his third miss of the day and the very last image I saw of Carlson was a close-up of his whole face filling my television screen as he very obviously shouted an unprintable expletive.

 

At about 3:30 on Monday, the Vikings management announced that Carlson “doesn’t have a future with the team.”

 

He was placed on waivers and the Vikings hired a different kicker.

 

Just like that.

 

Now, I’m not a “football guy.” I even stink at that game we played in high school where you fold up a triangle of paper and try to flick it with your finger through your buddy’s finger goal posts across the table.

 

I am in no way qualified to pass judgement on Daniel Carlson, nor would I want to be.

 

And I thank our dear God that He does not place us on waivers after three mistakes in a row. If that were the case, I would have been kicked out of Christianity before I got out of middle school.

 

Kinship Christian Radio Announcer Beth Crosby recently told how Walt Disney was fired as a newspaper editor because he had no imagination and had no good ideas, Elvis Presley was fired on his first night of singing because the club owner thought he had no talent and should go back to driving trucks, and Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting while he was alive.

 

And in the midst of all this, there’s a Bible verse that keeps popping up in my life. Even when I’m not looking for it, something will happen to remind me of it. It keeps coming to mind, over and over again. And today, a friend posted this exact verse on Facebook right in front of me:

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

 

And yes, I used that very same verse in a blog I wrote three weeks ago.

 

I still find that verse astounding. Why did God create us to do good works? Does He need us to do things for Him? Obviously, the omnipotent God of the universe could accomplish whatever He wants without this particular Dan Jones doing those things. There’s more than one Dan Jones in this world. So, why me? Does He take some kind of joy in watching me do these things?

 

I do believe God enjoys and delights in each of us as we do these things. The first part of the verse is often translated that we are God’s “masterpiece.” Surely, a masterpiece is meant to shared and enjoyed.

 

Or, did God give me a bunch of good things to do because He knew that even though I would need a nap every Sunday afternoon for the health of my mind and body, He also knew that it was just as essential that my soul would experience the incredible joy of growing closer to Him by doing the glorious things He has given me to do as a gift?

 

Could it be that I was not designed from the very beginning of the universe to sit in my easy chair and watch television all day every day?

 

And, could it be that as each of us do what He designed us to do, His blessings and His love and His truth and His mercy and His glory are multiplied and grow as we bless others? 

 

That’s the reason the verse is so astounding. Because in it, I get a sense of the plans God had from the moment He spoke everything and everyone into being –and it stretches from the nothingness of the moment before the beginning of time out into amazing fullness of eternity

 

And the plan includes every one of us –including what looks like failure in that very small moment but is dwarfed and revealed as all part of the plan in the eternal weight of glory that is the LORD our God. 

 

None of us are failures in God’s eyes. None of us are rejected by God after one mistake or three in one day, or a million mistakes in a lifetime. All of us are dearly loved, treasured, and so valuable that He would and did die for us –just as He planned from the moment He said, “Let there be light.”

 

Which brings me back once again to the incredible freedom and confidence and joy we have in knowing God knows exactly what He is doing in us and with us and through us, even if we don’t know right in this very moment what marvelous thing He will call us to do in the next year or month or day or hour.

 

And this is why there is such joy in saying, “Okay, God.”

 

HALLELUJAH!

Today’s Praise

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:16 (NIV)

Bo’s Cafe

 

It’s no secret that I like food.

 

Like many people, resisting eating too much food is a temptation I struggle with.

 

But, thank God, I also have a taste for spiritual food.

 

Two weeks ago, I wrote about my experience at a conference with about a dozen pastors. I came out of that with a recommended reading list of about a half-dozen books, which is a very good thing as I often find myself searching for something to read (in addition to the Bible) with some spiritual “meat” on its bones.

 

Among those books was one called, “Bo’s Cafe” by John Lynch, Bill Thrall, and Bruce McNicol. 

 

I normally read non-fiction explorations of various aspects of spirituality or theology. I have even read countless sermons going back hundreds of years. So, “Bo’s Cafe” was a bit different for me as it is a novel.

 

But, it’s a very well-written novel.

 

It’s about a highly-successful businessman named Steven who has a highly unsuccessful marriage, which is not a terribly unique plot line for a Christian novel, but the book works with that concept in a unique and effective way.

 

It starts with a couple of very funny and engaging scenes mixed in with a bit of mystery. That was skillfully done, but then I found one of the main characters is fond of wearing Hawaiian shirts and drives a 1970 Buick Electra. (It’s like Lynch, Thrall, and McNicol had looked into my closet and my DMV records.)

 

The other thing that made it seem as if the book was written with Dan Jones as its specific audience was that it has this kind John Steinbeck vibe to it. Many, many years ago, one of the books that I greatly admired was Steinbeck’s classic, “Cannery Row” which is set, just like this book, in California.

 

It was Cannery Row that made me say to myself, “Man, I want to learn to write like that guy.”

 

And right about the time I’m trying to put my finger on why I like the writing style of “Bo’s Cafe” so much, the authors come right out and quote Steinbeck:

“It has always seemed strange to me… the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.” (Page 107)

 

Okay guys, you totally got me there.

 

And that’s what the novel is about. 

 

We have this concept, I should say, “I have had this concept…” that Christianity is about being perfect.

 

While the temptation to be a multi-millionaire has never been extraordinarily strong in my life, one of the most difficult things in my early Christian life was coming to grips with the fact that God didn’t make me perfect the minute I believed in Jesus Christ. 

 

I still sinned!

 

Paul’s incomparable angst in Romans 7: 14-25 could have been my life verses at one point. I even publicly stated that I should have Paul’s “wretched man” lament printed on a T-shirt. (They actually do make such a thing.)

 

And that’s what the main character, Steven, struggles with throughout the book.

 

His anger and his shame are destroying him and his wife, and it’s only through the conversations he has with the colorful and compelling characters in the book that the lights begin to come on through the understanding and communication of grace, mercy, compassion, freedom, and love.

 

In the end, “Bo’s Cafe” serves up a hearty feast of meaty spiritual food.  The dialogue of authentic love and real fellowship and true brotherhood between the characters beautifully illustrates what real Christian relationships should look and taste like. There’s a refreshing honesty and a powerful depth in who the characters become as the novel draws to a close. There’s even a strong whiff of what a real church looks like. 

 

And that’s why I think “Bo’s Cafe” is a fitting and apt subject for the Kinship Christian Radio blog. None of us became perfect the minute we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior. None of us become fully sanctified by listening to a song or a sermon or a testimony on the radio –but they are all part of the process. They all add up. They are all part of the life-long, glorious, wonderful journey we take as brothers and sisters with the Lord as our Father, Jesus as our Savior, and the Holy Spirit as our Guide. 

 

Until we all sit around the table with Him in the light of eternity.

 

Today’s Praise

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us? Luke 24: 30-31 (NIV)

Written by Dan Jones

 

It’s September Survey Time!

 

As a listener of Kinship Christian Radio, your opinion of the ministry is always valuable, but in September, you are encouraged to share it more than ever!

 

All of the surveys have already been mailed out, so if you have not received one by now, you can obtain one by calling 800-810-5559. Your opinions, input, advice, and preferences will be used to make the ministry of Kinship Christian Radio better meet your needs, the needs of the others, and to bring glory to God! HALLELUJAH!

 

As the official Kinship Christian Radio blogger, I have somehow obtained access to the actual survey and am prepared to share with you, my valued readers, some of my responses to some (not all) of the questions:

I am male and married. (That’s right, ladies, I am happily “taken.”)

 

I have been listening for over ten years.

 

On a scale of one to ten, I rate the importance of news broadcasts a 9. (I am grateful for Salem Radio News.)

Yes, I have a “try not to miss it” type program or feature. (Steve and Allen’s conversations at 7:36 a.m. each weekday morning. Oh, and Beth Crosby’s “Wings of Worship” is also very good, and I really like “Creation Moments” at 7:45 weekday mornings, and that Scottish preacher (Alistair Begg) in the evenings, oh and Ravi Zacharias on Sunday (Let My People Think) and, (even though I’m usually in church) the one Matt Dorfner does on Sundays at 10:00 a.m.) Oh, and I almost forgot about Mission Network News. I really like that.

 

No, I do not have an Alexa, or an Echo Dot, although I did notice one in someone’s else’s bathroom once and said, “Alexa, play ‘Reckless Love’, by Cory Asbury” and it DID! (I still laugh to myself about that….Hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t share that part on the survey. Probably best to use a pencil rather than a pen, right?)

 

Oh, and here’s a question on how often I listen on the weekends, whether I have a favorite weekend program, whether I’d like a daily 30-minute program about money, investing, and Christian stewardship, what aspects of Share-a-Thon I most enjoy (Listener testimonies!), whether I have a favorite Christian song I’d like to be considered for addition to the KCR music library, (Yes! ‘Worship the Great I Am’ by Kari Jobe!) and how I would rate Kinship Christian Radio on a scale of one to ten. (I would say 9.995, just because nothing on this earth is perfect –including my objectivity.) 

 

Oh, and there’s even a question about adding more news about missionaries. (Yes, more please!)

 

Annnnnd, the final question is “Would you like your name entered in our September Survey Grand Prize drawing?” Well, of course I would like a chance to win an Apple I-Watch, an I-Pod, or an I-Pod Mini! (However, I am ineligible because of my extremely prestigious position here at the blog –but that increases your odds!)

 

So fill out you survey and return it as soon as possible! They really do want to know what you think!

 

Today’s Praise

Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the LORD. Psalm 106:48 (NIV)

Written by Dan Jones