by Marti Fischer
When wanting to get away with something without her husband knowing, my Mother-in-law often used to quote an old saying, “When the cats away,” she would say, “The mice will play.” Well … while John is away from his desk, let me tell you a story about an orthodox instrument of God, someone you know very well.
It will not be difficult for people who know John and his ministry to imagine how uncomfortable John is with the intersection of independent ministry and entrepreneurship.
Consider the origins of John’s ministry. John was the son of the choir director of a well-known evangelical church in southern California, destined for ministry. He grew up with that bubble of destiny about him. In 1969, with a BA in Social Sciences from Wheaton College, in Illinois, and with the album “Cold Cathedral” to his credit (the first contemporary Christian album released in the United States), John was selected for the internship program at Peninsula Bible Church, Palo Alto, California, pastored by Ray C. Stedman, and focal point of the Jesus Movement in Northern California.
[Warning: This smile has been known to light candles, so be sure and check before you leave the room that you’re not leaving a candle burning somewhere, unless it’s in your heart!]
We’ve had some wonderful responses to the idea of unorthodox “Ben”s among us. John sent us this by Jacob Nordby: “Blessed are the weird people, the poets and misfits, the artists, the writers, and music makers, the dreamers and the outsiders, for they force us to see the world differently.”
[If you have missed the last few Catches, you will wonder who this “Ben” is. He is the main character in my novel, Saint Ben that we are bringing back for a re-release. To catch up, go to our website and scroll down to “Why Saint Ben?” and the next few Catches will summarize the story.]
And his smile will light a candle
That will burn in your heart.
– From a song I wrote about Chandler shortly after he was born
I suddenly realized we have our own “Ben” in the house. He’s way more spiritual than I give him credit for. He is a truth-teller, and he makes you into one too by the sheer force of his character. You can’t lie to him because the truth is laid bare the minute you look at him.
[Today, with the magic date of June 15 around the corner and things returning to some semblance of normal, I went back to the first Catch I wrote that mentioned the pandemic and it was this one, on March 10, 2020. Even though we have much to celebrate, fear is still knocking on the door so I decided I would publish it again so we could all check to see how we are doing a year and a pandemic later.]
Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened, but in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. 1 Peter 3:14-15
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18
There is one thing I have to say about the global crisis that is facing us related to the current coronavirus outbreak that seems to be uppermost in everyone’s mind right now. The most important thing for us as followers of Christ is, yes, to listen to the advice of experts: be wise, be cautious, be safe — all of that is common sense — but more importantly: Do not be afraid.
[If you are wondering what this Catch is all about, you have most likely missed the recent Catches that summarize the story behind my novel, Saint Ben. If so, go to www.catchjohnfischer.com and scroll down to the Catch for June 1, “Why Saint Ben?” and “Catch up” on the next four Catches.]
Getting the news out is a key element in the story of Saint Ben.
Jonathan Lieberman is a delivery boy for the Pasadena Star News, an afternoon paper six days a week with an early Sunday morning edition. Therefore it is Jonathan’s responsibility to get the news out 7 days a week. Ben assists Jonathan where possible, and like everything else Ben does, it becomes a serious enterprise — as if the real news of the day isn’t really news until Jonathan delivers it.
Last night in our fascinating interview with Os Guinness about his new book, The Magna Carta of Humanity, he mentioned how President Biden talks about reclaiming the soul of America, and the former President spoke about Making America Great Again, but neither one of them went back far enough to talk about and embrace what made America great in the first place. And what made America great in the first place was not the fact that we are a Christian nation and we need to get back to God, but that we are a nation founded on principles rooted in the scriptures, going all the way back to the Sinai Revolution led by Moses freeing the people of Israel from Egypt and the injustice of Pharaoh. Principles like justice, freedom, equality (in that all human beings are made in the image of God), and the fall of humanity into sin which necessitates checks and balances to curb our evil nature, and these values all need to be supported by the rule of law. These values all come from a Judeo/Christian framework which was part of the way the founding fathers thought in 1776, whether they were Christians or not.
Os mentioned that one of the meanings included in the Hebrew word for repentance is the idea of coming home. And as such, he is calling for a “homecoming” of the nation, to come back to its roots, not necessarily as a Christian nation, but back to its Judeo/Christian beginnings where both God and truth are present, and where men and women seek to submit to an authority higher than all of us.
A homecoming certainly suits our vision here at the Catch where we are committed to introducing the gospel of welcome — grace turned outward — to everyone everywhere. We have a loving, forgiving Father who always has His eye fixed down the road searching for any of his children who might be on their way back home to Him. He is full of grace and truth, eager to bestow upon us that which we do not deserve, but which comes freely from His heart of love.
Whether we are able to return to that foundation which created the greatest experiment of democracy in the history of the world is one thing, but we will always be able to celebrate the homecoming of a lost, repentant soul seeking a place in the heart of the Father-God. Welcome home.
In Ecclesiastes 1:9, Solomon proclaims, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” That might explain the following verses from Isaiah, written thousands of years ago, that read like they were written yesterday.
This is the final piece of our story of Saint Ben — the closing scenes following Ben’s death. It contains Jonathan’s great grief, but ends in delight with profound implications for us all.
Following Ben’s death, Jonathan refuses to speak to anyone. The next time he is at church, he retreats to their secret place in the bell tower and lets Grizzly know his intent to stay up there indefinitely, and Grizzly guards him religiously. Since Jonathan isn’t speaking, he and mute Grizzly are on equal terms. In fact, Grizzly’s silence is the perfect receptacle for Jonathan’s grief.
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