“I was not there today;
But, God, give grace that’s gain.
His valve should have no hole
so that his heart is full.
That wounds would heal and mend;
His blood should flow again.
That pains would go. Amen.”
“I was not there today;
“God, steal the nails of rust within my heart.”
I wonder why God saves and heals
… perhaps because He works our weal.
I wonder why faith flounders, fails
… perhaps my flesh is weak and ails.
But when my heart’s aflame with trust
Then God does what He said He must:
The Lord comes near, reveals …
Christ frees us from our jails,
and lifts us from prayer’s hush.
I still my hurt
and wounded heart
Some have noted that there is a historical pattern for the Good News to spread from Jerusalem west. Indeed, some Chinese even hope to carry the message of Jesus back to Jerusalem.
Here are a couple of links that connect things to this:
While historically, there has been some hostility between Israel and some Muslims, there is now a move by some Muslim religious leaders to condemn Holocuast deniers. Click Here to see the full story.
In Revelations, it addresses those non-Jews who claimed covenantal continuity with the Jews but were in fact not Jews. “Jew” derives from Judah, which means “praise” or “praised one”. Muslims who follow the teachings of Muhammed were for many years called “Muhammedan.” Muhammed means praised. “Muhammedans” then means “little praised ones” I.e. the same meaning as the Jews.
Are we then seeing the fulfillment of prophecy? Those who are circumcised and claim to follow the proper law and offering praise are honoring the Jews as the praised people.
It is odd that they are actually bowing towards Mecca though.
God is bringing about the reconciliation of the nations, but the perfect reconciliation happens when Muslims identify not by Muhammed, but by the Jewish Messiah. Then they will not only have the name of submitting to God, but actually be reconciled to God as they would be reconciled to their enemies.
In Israel’s New Disciples, you can read how many Israeli Jews are finding renewed vision to carry the Good News to both Jew and Arab in the land of promise. Indeed, more and more Jewish leaders in Israel seem to believe that before Israel turns to the Lord, there will be a significant turning to the Lord from among the neighboring Arab lands.
What would it mean if first Arabs turned to the Lord in increasing numbers and started evangelizing Israel? Jews would be provoked to jealousy to serve the Lord & believe the Good News.
What if then, Jews believed the Good News and started laboring to share the good News with their Muslims neighbors? Life from the dead!! It would require a miracle for Muslims to turn in such large numbers to the Lord, along with Jews. But God is able to do such miracles. I believe He will.
It will not be because of well planned strategies, but because of God’s mercy in calling many to pray and call on His name. Jesus will claim the hearts of many. He will be honored. The time is drawing near. Are you ready?
Some would say that Islam is peaceful. It is akin to peace for sure: “you submit to me so I can have my peace or else.” However, Islam as an inherently peaceful religion is not faithful to historical realities or contemporary practice.
A. Muhammed is reputed to have led a number of raids in the name of Islam per Islamic traditions.
B. Islam after “the time of Muhammed” was spread by the edge of the sword.
C. Islam preserves its numbers by the sword. It says that there should be no compulsion in religion, but it has an enforced restraint on the practice of faith: sharing the Love of Jesus.
D. Islamic movements around the world are today toppling governments and establishing and enforcing more rigidly Islmamic movements at the edge of the sword.
Islam claims to follow Jesus.
Jesus said, “Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.” And so, you can understand why radical, violent Muslims are dying like flies: They serve the baals (masters) of this world and the sword of the flesh.
Some Muslims propose that Islam was a step forward over paganism. Actually, it is about the same since most Muslims are still afraid of spirits. Even in the Arabian Peninsula sorcery is still practiced and immorality continues, only now with the endorsement of temporary marriages in some situations.
I love Muslims. I spend time with them. I hope that one day more will come to know the truth, but this root of violence must be dealt with.
The recent violence in London is of a crime committed. Some fear radical Islam. Some fear a new terrorist plot. Some say it is random individuals. The reality is that people who kill cannot build the house of God.
You say, “But look at David. Didn’t David the King of Israel advance the Kingdom of Israel through the sword? Didn’t he kill many? Wasn’t he called a man after God’s own heart?”
It is true he killed many. It is true he was called a man after God’s own heart. But it was also true that he was rejected from building the house of God because he had blood on his hands (1 Chronicles 22:6-10). And even he did not seem to delight in blood (2 Samuel 1-4). Inherent within the narrative of David’s life is the fact that he was kept from his dreams because he did his job: it was his job as a king to kill. His dream was to build a house for the Lord, instead he prepared the way for others.
So did Muhammed prepare the way for others? Did he point the way to Jesus?
He is reported as calling Jesus: Word of God, Spirit of God, Pure (sinless), virgin-Born, Messenger, Servant of God. Amazing! Jesus is greater than Muhammed if these are true for he not only brought the Gospel (Injeel), but is the point of the Gospel.
Indeed the Good News is that Jesus did not retaliate for the wrong that was done to him but actively rebuked those who sought to “defend” him. Jesus healed his captors. He preached to Pilate. Jesus looked forward to joy even on the cross.
There is no such thing as politically correct Christianity. Only a politically-incorrect Christ can rule.
It is politically incorrect to forgive evil. But that is what Jesus did.
If you want to be politically correct, enforce the law, and serve justice alone, then you need to become a Judaizer. If you want to serve the Lord, follow Jesus.
Jesus preceded “Muhammed.” Submission to the law of the sword is inferior to walking in love. Those who walk in love will move from the Arabian Prophet Muhammed to the Advocate & Peacemaking Messiah. For as love expands, it must expand from the lesser to the greater, from the temporal and regional to the eternal and universal.
Jesus is alive.
Jesus is Lord of all.
Jesus is coming again.
Are you ready to meet the Father of all families?
“If every promise in the book is mine, then I want this one,” I thought as I read in the Apocalypse the description of 144,000 male virgins who have not defiled themselves with women and followed him everywhere and didn’t lie, etc. These were the only ones who could learn to sing the new song. (Revelation 14:1-5)
“Wow!” I thought, “I want to learn that new song.” I wondered exactly where in the Bible I could find that new song or if it was something that would be revealed supernaturally through a vision. I didn’t take out commentaries on Revelation which offer explanations ranging as divergent as the churches which read the Bible. I began to pray and seek the Lord for wisdom or grace or power or whatever it would take to sing the new song. I knew it would be good, and I wanted the ability to sing this new song which seemed hidden from me.
Problem: I am far from musical. In high school, I learned how to play the French horn but didn’t practice much. The only thing I really took from that training is that I am always on the wrong beat when I clap.
While this passage in Revelation gave no indication that musical talent was a prerequisite, it seemed pretty important. At first, only the words to poetry came. I kept them in good rhyme and good rhythm, but I was had no music. You have no song if you have no music but just lyrics. I scored an F flat on the chart of getting a new song on the radio, so I tried to forget about it.
But it wouldn’t go away, because every so often, I learned a new song that somebody else had written in contemporary music. I would sing along with the new song until I learned it and then added it to my memory banks. The college worship events I participated in were often attended by zealous souls who want to encounter God to the fullest. Music is part of that, and new songs seemed to be a regular occurrence. I even met a man who learned to play the guitar and write music even though he was middle-aged.
I gained no more skill in music, though I had been in a college choir that toured Sinaloa, Mexico to encourage the church and evangelize using English, translated, and Latino Christian lyrics and bells to share the message. My particular gift was to present the Christus Hymn in Spanish (from Filepensus 2:1-11, NVI) in a dramatic interpretation before the crowds.
Around that time, I went to the hospital with the first onset of a chronic illness. I had to do some rethinking: What can I do and what can I not do? What is real and what is not? What does Revelation really mean?
Once I returned to college, I learned more new songs. Once again, I wanted to sing a new song. In my senior year, I did an independent study on worship in the Old Testament, New Testament, and early church. But that produced no new music, though I did write a few new poems. After all, how does one write hymns based on an index of references to worship practices in the extant early church fathers? Not too inspiring, to say the least.
I was preparing for graduation in my senior year and dreading leaving my friends. Then in March of 1997, a tornado struck the town of Arkadelphia, Arkansas where I was finishing up my undergraduate degree in Biblical Studies. I volunteered to help sort and distribute food and clothes sent to the church I participated in near the epicenter of the disaster which also served as the hub for the relief effort.
I started to wear down. School, health, and tornado-related matters all converged to form a storm front in my mind. One day, as I was walking home from church, I began to hum-sing a few lines based on Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto Me, all who are weary / Come unto Me, all who need rest / Come unto Me, all who are tired / all who long for righteousness.”
I sang that a few times, each time with more confidence. Then I started a new stanza, as I thought about the fact I still had work to do, “Take up the cross, if you will follow / Take up the cross, if you know Christ / Take up the cross, if you love Jesus / for he paid the final price.”
After learning the new stanza, and repeating it with the first a few times, I was really excited and knew that the final line about the “final price” could not be the final line any longer. Reinvigorated, I headed towards my dorm room, “Tell the Good News to all your family / Tell the Good News to all your friends / Tell the Good News to all your neighbors / Ev’ry place the Spirit sends.”
Recently, friend wrote out this Gospel Song. Click Here to view a PDF score of the lyrics & melody.
God had done some amazing things in saving some people from the tornado and moving people to send and distribute supplies. He had done amazing work in strengthening me and would do amazing work in helping me complete my studies. And he had taught me a new song.
Later, while studying at Notre Dame, I led a Bible study on singing a “new song” and learned that all related passages have to do with salvation and, in context, at least half of them relate to God’s redeeming work among the nations*. (Psalm 33:3, 10; 40:3; *96:1; *98:1-2; 144:9-11; 149:1, 7; *Isaiah 42:10; *Revelation 5:9; *14:3-6) As Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology records, “One could say that there is one new song but this song has many stanzas. All of God’s redeemed will add stanzas to that song throughout eternity as they praise him progressively and continually for his mercy, love, and grace …”+
As I became involved more in missions mobilization, I realized that this just made sense: Each culture requires worship music in that culture’s language if it is to sing the praises of God most effectively. These musics change over time. When revival comes, new songs are written to speak to the new generation. Some songs are better than others, some are meant to persist. When those revivals take root and transform, missionaries go out to other cultures, carrying the Good News to new places. … And so the pattern continues to the present day.
This pattern has become such an art and a science that there are ethnodoxologists who specialize in advancing this work. The International Council of Ethnodoxologists has a site designed to help interested people find resources and training:
One new song illustrates how this can work. As I was driving down the road one autumn day, I saw some African-American youth who were gathered around a car talking. I was happy and began rapping, “Break it down to the lowest level. Bring ‘em up to the highest level. Jesus came to the lowest level. Jesus rose to the highest level. Hip, hop. Don’t stop. Get the Word to the world!” After learning the new rap, I went back and presented it to the kids. We talked. They affirmed the Gospel.
A couple years later, I was invited for a series of youth meetings at a church in a poverty-ridden African American neighborhood. I pulled out that song and rapped for the gathering. They loved it. They had their own rap. Afterwards, the youth figured out their own rhythm for the rap. God was at work.
Every now and then, I still sing new songs, either written by me or by others. Why? God continues to work. Are all of them of equal value or quality or of the same genre? No. Will any of my songs be sung 100 years from now? I would be surprised. Though I don’t get these songs from an audible voice, I do know of someone who heard the choirs of angels sing more than 10 years ago. My songs typically just come from Scripture or experience.
I have learned through many dangers, toils and snares how to sing the new song: Listen for the voice of the Lord and pour out your heart before Him. Though I may not hear them, I sing with the angels.
(You have full permission to sing the New Song, so long as you don’t seek to profit from others efforts without sharing with them. Contact me if you have any questions.)
PO Box 981215, Ypsilanti, MI 48198-1215
+ Elwell, Walter A. “Entry for ‘New Song’”. “Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology”. 1897.
I got the position through many hard life experiences and continue in the job through hours in the office and with folks I serve. Sometimes saddened by the choices people make.
BUT, the longer I continue in this, the more I am finding that some people are willing to make good decisions. While reasonable pay is one kind of reward, seeing lives change for the better is an even more rewarding aspect of the work.
Here is an overview of my work & its rewards:
Peer support helps healing process
A couple years ago my son, Merton Hershberger, began working at a community mental health agency as a peer support counselor. He recently described to me the physical benefits as well as the financial benefits already seen in this pilot program.
From the late 1950’s to the early 1970’s, across the country, governments were setting up community mental health agencies (CMHs). While for some it was an improvement over asylums, for others, it simply meant a change in residence. It did not end the fact of their diagnosis with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (manic-depression), chronic depression, anxiety or some other host of problems.
In fact, recent studies have shown that people who receive services through CMHs die, on average, 25 years younger than the rest of the population. There are several factors: people with serious mental health challenges are more likely to be obese, smoke and abuse alcohol, aside from a higher rate of suicide. Poor mental health tends to lead to a lack of ability to focus on other areas of health.
As this fact came to the surface and the startling barriers to recovery were faced, beginning in 2009, federal grants to facilitate integrated health in these CMHs were given.
Washtenaw County in Michigan is the home of a forensic psychiatric hospital, three inpatient psychiatric hospitals and a Community Mental Health Agency, along with a couple of schools for social work and graduate psychology and psychiatry programs. It is a great place to get sick if you have a mental illness.
However, people with a mental illnesses tend to die younger and that is not so great as was underscored with the recent news that another agency client died. My job is to help reverse those trends, and we are seeing SOME progress.
Michigan is a national leader in equipping those with a history of mental illness to give back by opening the door of employment for those who are further along the road to recovery to share their lives and stories and hope with others.
For several years, the CMH in Washtenaw County has had an Integrated Health program which sought to address chronic health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and respiratory disease (often caused by smoking), as well as prevention and now substance abuse. While there are other issues that have been addressed, these are what helped lay the foundation of a bridge from mental illness to creating a medical home and giving broader access to mental health services.
We are finding that as we engage with clients on a personal basis, whether our role is as a nurse, dietitian, nurse practitioner or peer, people are recovering.
Sometimes people are hard to reach or will not return phone calls, but those who respond to our interaction are more likely to get better as they walk with us on the road to recovery.
I have seen people become more active physically in taking walks, working and biking. I have seen people make reductions in their smoking habits and choose healthier diets and lose weight. I have even seen one fellow get to the point where he no longer needed diabetic medication. Another is frequenting the hospital far less and visiting the doctor and making safer, healthier decisions that have led to weight loss and greater involvement in the community. Another has become a deacon in his church and said he feels better now than ever before.
Clients are being hospitalized less frequently and, consequently, they are using fewer government dollars. So while it did require some initial government aid, in the end, it is costing less. The investment in health is paying off.
There is no magic formula. We cannot mass produce this. While we teach classes, this is not where the most change happens. Statistically, when we give personal attention to those who are most vulnerable, they get better.
Whether we as peers are taking folks to food banks to get enough food or walking with them through the park, or just hearing them recount their series of medical dilemmas and going to appointments to advocate for them, people are realizing that they count. Their lives and their choices matter. Those we serve are coming to value themselves and their role in the community.
We are also connecting people to new resources and information so that they can improve their own health and wellness. We are helping them access their own medical records so that they can take even more personal ownership of their health.
Some peers focus on helping people get free of addictions. There is also a registered dietitian who works with clients to create meal plans and to guide in managing diabetes and weight. A nurse practitioner sees clients without insurance for non-emergent concerns. Nurse case managers educate and assist clients with a wide range of appointments and medical concerns.
The team provides an extra set of eyes and ears for the case managers. When they are unaware of what is going on, we let them know.
The purpose of the team reminds me of another team assembled by a wise leader. He sent them out two by two to heal the sick and remove the spirits which would afflict. He also said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In walking with them, He showed the way. Indeed, He is the Way, and He walks among us still.
(Writing with her son, Merton, Joan Hershberger is a reporter at the News-Times. E-mail her at email@example.com.)
Christians usually remember the Great Commission: Jesus sent out His disciples after He had risen from the tomb and He gave them authority to do what He had been doing. John records these words, “As the Father sent Me, so I send you.” Matthew says, “As you are going, make disciples of all nations: baptizing them in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And Look, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Mark has a fragment of that in a more general blast: Announce the Good News to all creation. Luke 24:44ff is more of a Bible study, which includes the message, the Messiah, the method, and the missions base. Acts details Jesus’ mandate that after the Holy Spirit comes on us, we will be witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and to the extreme parts of the earth. Sort of waves of mission activity going out.
But the common action in all these is going. Last night I chatted with 2 guys on the busses I rode. One was a saint and one was interested. With both I sought to make known the Love of God. It really is a simple message when you boil it down.
The problem with boiling down the message is that you will face some heat in the process. Earlier in the day, when eating with a guy who calls himself a saint, a neighbor came up and asked if I was proselytizing. To be honest, I was a little offended. Perhaps my neighbor was being kind and giving me a compliment. However, I don’t see myself as a proselytizer, but as a propagater, spreading propaganda. Whether I am encouraging people to quit smoking or to practice other good health practices, I want to bring Good News to people. Jesus cares about people’s health. If I am encouraging people to be financially responsible, I want to do so in view of the fact that Jesus is financial responsible. The fact is Jesus is so financially responsible that He provides for people food and drink and clothing around the world every day. He even paid the debt of sin we owe to God and gives us an inheritance in heaven. God is good.
So, I don’t see myself as a proselytizer who convinces people to follow me and give up all that they enjoy. Rather, I see myself as a giver: I plant seeds of hope, for both time and eternity. I build trust in the One who is truly reliable. I pour out deliberate acts of kindness.
Some regard kindness as a random thing, but it is not, there is a deliberate agenda behind kindness: to treat people as you would want to be treated in view of the fact that God has treated you as He would have wanted to be treated if He were in your position.
Personally, I think of the many ways I have taken God for granted and ignored His grace, then I immediately want to repent and express each day that I go out: God is good & His faithful love lasts forever, so I am thankful to be alive. I am also thankful you are alive. Maybe you searched the internet today thinking: “How can I die?” “Where can I find a sexy woman?” or just typed in “customer service jobs” or “how to make money” and you read that Jesus can help you with all these … but then Jesus offers something much better: Life after death. Love beyond sex. Managing-self to serve others, and giving money to receive wealth that will never disappoint.
So, go … search the internet and find what this means: I desire to show mercy & not your sacrifice. It is from Hosea, my paraphrase.
Basically, a guy goes crazy, marries an unfaithful woman, he serves her, she takes his money, but then she sells herself as a slave/prostitute, so the prophet buys her back.
You and I are like that woman: foolish & self-destructive. Hosea, whose name means salvation, is like Jesus, whose name Y’shua (from Yehoshua) means the Lord saves.
And if you know Jesus, go, tell somebody else about him so that you can share that joy of your salvation with them. You don’t have to make them conform to your image and proselytize them. Our goal is one of restoration: restoration to the image of God.
Go in peace & serve the Lord.
Some object to all talk about Jesus in public life because they say Jesus is controversial. Actually, I don’t see how. Most people will say pleasant things about Jesus.
However there is the religion Jesus and there is the person Jesus. With the religion Jesus you have to do a-z to get in the right mindset. Sometimes this false Jesus just goes under the name mindfulness or muhammed or the book of mormon or some other amount of martyrdom (witnessing.)
The True Jesus is a person, fully God and fully human who heals. There is something about the True Jesus who cannot be contained within the bounds of law or religion. He heals when worthless physicians are off duty. He touches when others would wash their hands clean. He speaks up when others call for plea bargaining. He never tried to start a religion. He simply reminded people of what reality is all about: Loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and secondly about loving your neighbor as yourself.
If you are not loving your neighbor, you are not following Jesus … No matter how much you claim to love God. If you are not loving God, you cannot truly love your neighbor because you may not tell them the historical realities of the resurrection. If you are not telling others about Jesus, you neither love God nor your neighbor.
Jesus is God, so if you love God you will talk about Jesus. Jesus loves your neighbor more than you do, so if you love your neighbor, you will tell them about the One who loves them more than you do.
Some would say that love is religious. So do you call it a religious act when a man loves his wife? Do you call it a religious act when a mother loves her children? Do you call it a religious act when a manager genuinely cares for the welfare of those under their supervision? Do you call it a religious act when government officials show mercy and do justice in their realms of influence?
Perhaps these are all religious acts, in which case, there should be no law against religion or the free exercise thereof (which, by the way, is what the first amendment to the United States Constitution is all about). However, most people around the world see religion as a bunch of rituals done in order to gain favor with god/gods.
Christianity cannot be constructed as a religion by this measure though. The very suffix to the word indicates that it is Christ-like -character-. There can be no law against certain characters or other characters just as there should be now law against honest, compassionate speech.
Let honest and loving speech be freely available to all. And let all the false ideologies and -isms perish. Let the kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our God.
False testimony is telling lies about true events which you have observed is wrong. Thus anyone who denies the historicity of the resurrection is guilty of false testimony. The resurrection of Jesus has never been disproven. So to speak of the resurrection of Jesus is a historical act with legal ramifications. It implies that all governments must submit to Jesus as the King of kings, Prime Minister of prime-ministers, President of presidents, Boss of bosses, Lord of lords, etc. He is in charge.
As we anticipate celebrating Resurrection Day around the world, prepare to be a martyr: a witness.
If you are in court during this time, take your day in court to speak of Jesus the great Judge over all the earth. If you speak with a stranger, mention the resurrection of Jesus.
We are, after all, simply talking about historical facts that have humane, daily implications.
Please comment and share stories of how you have spoken freely of King Jesus and what the results have been.
I live in an area where automotive research makes a lot of money. Even though not in Detroit, the engineering schools attract a lot of top talent for companies like Subaru, Toyota, Honda, Chrysler, etc. However, there is a lack of study here on what excellence in spiritual life looks like: Christlike.
Most of the spirituality here is of the car-like variety: running & rusting. Dirty in the winter, idolized in the summer. Dreamed about, but wasted.
Often when the Bible talks about a soul running, they are either running to the Lord (Isaiah 40:31) or away from the Lord (Jonah). When a car is running, that means it works, likewise, when a person is running, they are exerting effort, laboring. The real issue though is: Are we exerting effort to draw closer to God or are we drawing away from God. Consecration (that is, our dedication of purpose) makes all the difference.
Often, we speak of cars resting. If they are resting at a traffic light, people will either be honking because it is green and they should go or the driver will be restless because they are wanting to go through to their destination ASAP! Except in Minnesota, where people are “Minnesota nice” and have contests waving each other through, most people do not regard stops as social events, much less ministry events. In sharp contrast, when the church is at rest it is growing. Think of a bunch of cars parked in front of a friends house during a house church or small group. Usually, in such instances the only time you think about the car is when parking and finding the address initially: if you want to go to a party or other gathering, go where the cars are resting. Hmmm, the cars are consecrated in this instance, because likewise, when saints are resting before the Lord, there are often great things that happen: prayer, mission callings, dreams & visions.
Maybe we should park out in the Lord’s presence more often. What would happen if you kept your spiritual life in as good repair as your car? You would listen for the little murmurs that indicate engine trouble, certainly you would keep the tires inflated for maximum efficiency. You would rest. You would drive your car to church on a regular basis to worship.
Now, it is time for a confession, I have no car I claim as my own. I ride busses. But those buses are consecrated to the Lord, as far as I am concerned. I look forward to the rides on the buses as a time when I can meet & encourage & bless people. Some may dread the bus, I delight in them because they are dedicated to the Lord.
Wait, I must address something else in which cars and consecration are very similar: it is about more than appearances. Would you rather have a handsome car with no engine or an ugly car with great gas mileage and great gusto? Hypocrisy affects both cars and people, just because it looks good, doesn’t mean it actually runs all that well. Are you in good repair spiritually? Are you tuned up in the Spirit? Next time you gas your car, pray that the Holy Spirit would fill you up as well. The longer you must pump, the longer you will pray. The more frequently you refuel, the more frequently you will pray.
And while you are at it, pay inside and share the Good News with the gas station attendant.
God loves you.