This ancient well holds huge significance—especially for those who think they’re too small to serve God in a great way…
(A bit of wisdom from my dear friend Ken Needham)
“While the surgeons and most of the nursing staff were excellent, there were a couple of exceptions—people who had some knowledge and experience who “knew what was best for me” but were not listening to me. It is MY body. I have inhabited it all my life and I know it well. Their intentions were no doubt good but listening to them worsened rather than improved the situation. This started me thinking about the Body of Christ, the church. There are those who “know what to do”. They are trained, they have experience—but they are not listening to Him, and we are His body. Are you listening to Jesus? Do you know His will? Are you going to be part of what He is doing as we enter each new day, or are you coasting along thinking that you are in charge and know what to do?” —Ken Needham
EWtW will be released later this year. Check out the official website here.
He would have been 120 years old today, but when he passed in 1973, J.R.R. Tolkien was just getting started. I think he would tell us that Heaven is a far nicer place than earth—or Middle Earth. Of all the quotes I’ve ever collected (aside from Scripture) the one that rang most personal came from him. If you’re an artist or writer, it rings ever truer. Enjoy.
“The Gospels contain a ‘fairy-story’, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy stories. They contain many marvels—peculiarly artistic, beautiful and moving: ‘mythical’ in their perfect, self-contained significance; and at the same time powerfully symbolic and allegorical; and among the marvels is the greatest and most complete conceivable Eucatastrophe. [The Gospels are not artistic in themselves; the Art is here in the story itself, not in the telling. For the Author of the story was not the evangelists. ‘Even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written’, if that story had been fully written down.] The Birth of Christ is the Eucatastrophe [‘Great Happy Ending’] of man’s history. The Resurrection is the Eucatastrophe of the story of the incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy. It has pre-eminently the ‘inner consistency of reality’. There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many skeptical men have accepted as true on its own merits. For the Art of it has the supremely convincing tone of Primary Art, that is, of Creation. To reject it leads either to sadness or to wrath.
“It is not difficult to imagine the peculiar excitement and joy that one would feel, if any specially beautiful fairy-story were found to be ‘primarily’ true, its narrative to be history, without thereby necessarily losing the mythical or allegorical significance that it had possessed. It is not difficult, for one is not called upon to try and conceive anything of a quality unknown. The joy would have exactly the same quality, if not the same degree, as the joy which the ‘turn’ in a fairy-story gives: such joy has the very taste of primary truth. (Otherwise its name would not be joy.) It looks forward (or backward: the direction in this regard is unimportant) to the Great Eucatastrophe. The Christian joy, the Gloria, is of the same kind; but it is pre-eminently (infinitely, if our capacity were not finite) high and joyous. Because this story is supreme; and it is true. Art has been verified. God is the Lord, of angels, and of men – and of elves. Legend and history have met and fused.”
—J.R.R. Tolkien, “On Fairy Stories”, Epilogue
Happy Birthday, Prof. “Tollers”.
“The incarnation of God is an infinitely greater thing than anything I would dare to write…” —J.R.R. Tolkien, Letters, 237 (italics in the original)
Imagine eternity. Imagine infinity—imagine absolute life and infinite power, with no beginning and no end. Imagine infinite size and mind, boundless knowledge, unapproachable holiness in both being and motive—perfection beyond anything anyone ever dreamt—ultimate power to create and destroy with utter absence of malice entwined with supreme, omniscient Justice.
Such power—such absolute personhood—holy and just, vast and unstoppable—light so brilliant and holiness so overwhelming that only the holy can enter His presence. Yet He is compassionate, tirelessly loving, overflowing with grace and mercy—all superlative qualities lavished on sullied beings—on rebellious, rejecting, wicked little creatures that He, in the beginning, created to be the recipients of His inexhaustible giving nature—inheritors of all of His love and grace. Suddenly the simple, often clichéd words that Jesus spoke to a desperate Pharisee burgeon with new force, infinite wonder, fresh worship:
“For God so loved—He gave…”
And, as if that were not enough, He told us to approach this infinite, eternal, all-powerful, all knowing, all holy, all righteous, all discerning, supremely just, immeasurably vast God as “Our Father…” That is miraculous. It’s also Christmas.
Now, come let us adore Him.
“The proper study of the Christian is God. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy which can engage the attention of a child of God is the Name, the Nature, the Person, the Doings, and the existence of the great God we call “Father”. It is a subject so vast that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep that our pride is drown in its infinity. Other subjects we can comprehend and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-contentment and go our way with the thought, “Behold, I am wise!” But when we come to this master science, finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its depth, that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought, “I am but of yesterday, and know nothing!” —C.H. Spurgeon
God made us lamps of his light, not salesmen or customers of His fire. He fits no category, exceeds every attribution, defies all description. He’s immeasurably more than the object of our study—He’s the subject of the universe itself. He’s “the superlative of everything good you choose to call Him”, Rev. Lockwood preached—yet we still tread the waters of the Sea of Him seeking to stay afloat, waters in which He intended us to drown.
Our God is an Awesome God.
[Photo: Albert Einstein’s office at the time of his death]
What can we say to God in the face of the horrors of the Holocaust? Let’s pray...
Glorified and sanctified be God’s great name throughout the world,
Which He has created according to His will.
May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days,
And within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon;
And say, Amen.
May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.
Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted,
Extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One;
Blessed be He, beyond all the blessings and hymns,
Praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world;
And say, Amen.
May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us and for all Israel;
And say, Amen.
He who creates peace in His celestial heights,
May He create peace for us and for all Israel;
And say, Amen.*
Photo: Janusz Korczak Memorial, Yad Vashem, Israel
Do not forget his name.
Jesus is alive. Too many saw Him, met with and touched Him after His tomb was found vacated—too many of these died savagely with this testimony on their lips. Still, for many the resurrection remains beyond belief—a thought that lies beyond the ability to cope. Even so, all people must wrestle with this greatest event in human history.
In a science fiction novel set millions of years in the future, a character summarized global history, noting, “Following the death of Jesus Christ, there was a period of readjustment that lasted for approximately one million years…”
How do you cope with such a colossal event…?
“How can you cope with the end of a world and the beginning of another one? How can you put an earthquake into a test-tube or the sea into a bottle? How can you live with the terrifying thought that the hurricane has become human, that fire has become flesh; that Life itself came to life and walked in our midst?
“How can you cope with the concept that mankind tried to kill the God but He lived and now is our judge? How can a person come to Easter services and not be profoundly transformed by the fact that once in the history of humanity a truly innocent man died in our place and rose to life never to die again and he offers us eternal life?
“Christianity either means all of that, or it means nothing. It is either the most profound and devastating disclosure of the deepest reality in the world, or it’s a sham, a nonsense and just deceitful acting. Most of us, unable to cope with saying either of those things, condemn ourselves to live in the shallow world in between. We may not be content there, but we don’t know how to escape until we are personally transformed by the resurrected Jesus Christ—from observers to worshippers of the living God.”
—Adapted from NT Wright, For All God’s Worth
He is risen indeed.
“All the Dachaus must remain standing—the Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwalds, the Auschwitzes—all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the earth into a graveyard. Into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge—but worst of all their conscience. And the moment we forget this—the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance—then we become the gravediggers.” — Rod Serling, “Deaths-Head Revisited,” The Twilight Zone
While some try to erase selected atrocities from the history of hell, humanity is nonetheless charged to either remember or repeat the abominations for which he has proven himself so capable—and in this instance to remember millions slaughtered without reason. The Jews belong to God—He said so in His Book and nothing has changed. The devil is never proven more alive and active than in his relentless malice toward the Jews—and God was never proved more powerful and deliberate than when He regathered His people to their own land after nineteen-hundred years of persecution and near annihilation.
“I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.’ ” Ezek. 37:12-14
The verse is inscribed over the exit-arch of Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial. Yes, they know it, too.
“Whatever may happen, however seemingly inimical to it may be the world’s going and those who preside over the world’s affairs, the truth of the Incarnation remains intact and inviolate. Christendom, like other civilizations before it, is subject to decay and must sometime decompose and disappear. The world’s way of responding to intimations of decay is to engage equally in idiot hopes and idiot despair. On the one hand some new policy or discovery is confidently expected to put everything to rights: a new fuel, a new drug, détente, global government. On the other, some disaster is as confidently expected to prove our undoing: Capitalism will break down. Fuel will run out. Pandemics will lay us low. Climate change waste will kill us off. Overpopulation will suffocate us, or alternatively, a declining birth rate will put us more surely at the mercy of our enemies.
“In Christian terms, such hopes and fears are equally beside the point. As Christians we know that here we have no continuing city—that crowns roll in the dust and every earthly kingdom must sometime flounder, whereas we acknowledge a King that men did not crown and cannot dethrone, as we are citizens of a city of God they did not build and cannot destroy. Thus, the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, living in a society as depraved and dissolute as ours. Their games, like our television, specialized in spectacles of violence and eroticism. Paul exhorted them to be “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in God’s work,” to concern themselves with the things that are unseen. “For the things which are seen are temporal but the things which are not seen are eternal.” It was in the breakdown of Rome that Christendom was born. Now in the breakdown of Christendom there are the same requirements and the same possibilities to eschew the fantasy of a disintegrating world and seek the reality of what is not seen and eternal—the reality of Christ.” —Malcolm Muggeridge (with a few minor updates)
2021 will be glorious.