The big picture

OIP-2

“Virus cases mount at a grim and worrying pace,” “Day-care system suffers as virus runs roughshod,” “State rules hobble would-be nurses,” “Grim forecast in Silicon Valley,” “County leaders at odds in a time of crisis,” “Experts say growth rate could swamp hospitals” … Shall I go on?  Just a few of today’s headlines from one section of the paper. It’s enough to make you want to go back to bed. Read further and you start to get into finger-pointing and “I told you so” theories of who’s responsible. Then you get into cover-up, denials, false hopes and anybody’s guess as to how long it will be before things return to normal.

Easter is two weeks from Sunday. What does that mean? Does that mean this is all over by then? Not the way things are looking right now. But what it does mean is that there is hope beyond disease, there is hope beyond death, there is hope beyond the worst things that can happen to our country, your country, or the world.  This hope is because on the cross, Jesus put an end to sin; sorrow; pain; loneliness; separation; disease; punishment; blame; and our greatest enemy, death itself; and He rose from the dead to put all this away, so that — though it matters a lot right now because we are living through it — all of this will ultimately not matter at all compared to the eternal life and surpassing glory that will put all of this forever behind us.

Some might say this is just pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by, but not when Jesus and the leaders of the early church were constantly telling us to watch and pray for the end is coming. It’s all about perspective, and it’s all about what and who we put our hope in.

And it’s all about the love of God that surpasses all understanding and it’s about knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that nothing can ever separate us from that love.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

It’s time to hear again from the late Brennan Manning, a quote I have to review every once in a while, because I have a tendency to forget. I always put this quote in caps because he almost always ended his talks with this, and he always shouted it because he was so passionate about this one thing: how much God loves us.

“DO YOU BELIEVE THAT THE GOD OF JESUS LOVES YOU BEYOND WORTHINESS AND UNWORTHINESS, BEYOND FIDELITY AND INFIDELITY, THAT HE LOVES YOU IN THE MORNING SUN AND IN THE EVENING RAIN, THAT HE LOVES YOU WHEN YOUR INTELLECT DENIES IT, YOUR EMOTIONS REFUSE IT, AND YOUR WHOLE BEING REJECTS IT? DO YOU BELIEVE THAT GOD LOVES WITHOUT CONDITION OR RESERVATION, AND LOVES YOU THIS MOMENT, AS YOU ARE, AND NOT AS YOU SHOULD BE?” – Brennan Manning

OIP-3

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14 Responses to The big picture

  1. Do I believe it?
    No. I KNOW it.

    What can be believed can also be doubted.
    What is known, though, through firsthand experience cannot be denied.

    • Mark D Seguin says:

      Once again brother bobnearseattle loved your comments!

      They reminded me of my Calculus based Physicist professor Dr. Lesko – would often say (A Mark’s paraphrase) One of the very good reasons for Mathematical Proof of practical & applied knowledge of any theory! …

      • Thank you, Mark – you’re very kind.

        By the way, the answer to the riddle is: WHAT.

        Someone’s mother has four sons. North, South and East. What is the name of the fourth son. Write your guess for the fourth son’s name below.

        Note that the third sentence lacks a question mark. It’s a statement!
        We, tend, however to read a question into such sentences even when they’re not there! Hmmm, maybe there’s a spiritual lesson in there somewhere about seeing things that don’t exist, or making judgements based on old expectations, or reading between the lines, or poor grammar and writing skills, or…?

        Anyway I was hoping John might be able to understand my very vague baseball reference. I think if I would have mentioned Abbot & Costello, everyone would have gotten it!

        I’ll have another riddle before too long. Stay tuned!

        Shalom, Peace my friend…
        😉

    • jwfisch says:

      Nice. Never seen that distinction before.

      • “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
        and He will stand upon the earth at last.
        And after my body has decayed,
        yet in my body I will see God!
        I will see Him for myself.
        Yes, I will see Him with my own eyes.
        I am overwhelmed at the thought!”
        ~ Job 19:25-27

        “Christ was alive when the world began, yet I myself have seen Him with my own eyes and listened to Him speak. I have touched Him with my own hands. He is God’s message of life. This one who is life from God has been shown to us, and we guarantee that we have seen Him; I am speaking of Christ, who is eternal Life. He was with the Father and then was shown to us. Again I say, we are telling you about what we ourselves have actually seen and heard, so that you may share the fellowship and the joys we have with the Father and with Jesus Christ His Son.”
        ~ 1 John 1:1-3

        “Are there still some among [us] who hold that “only believing” is enough? Well, remember that the demons believe this too—so strongly that they tremble in terror! When will [we] ever learn that “believing” is useless without doing what God wants [us] to?”
        ~ James 2:19-20

        “…while sin and war, disease and death are terribly real, God’s loving presence and power in our midst are even more real.”
        ~ Brennan Manning

        I KNOW, John, because I’ve been personally confronted by the very questions Mr. Manning asked above… and have personally experienced the deep, deep love, transformation, restoration, assurance, and Shalom, Peace that only our very real and very intimate God can give us.

  2. Mark D Seguin says:

    Love the quote from Brennan Manning, yet don’t know who he is…?

    As I learned in my College English 101 & 102 classes, Dr. Nathan would never allow a quote by anyone well known or not in a paper..

    • jwfisch says:

      Brennan Manning was a Catholic evangelical with an incredible message about the love of God especially for those who don’t believe they are loved. He was a speaker and has authored many books. His best known book is RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL.

  3. John A Fagliano says:

    Thanks John. A wonderful Catch. I’ve been thinking a lot about the timing of Easter this year. I think it might prove to be more meaningful this year than in most others. I don’t know what God has in store but I pray it will have I profound impact on a lot of people.

    Good Friday April 10,
    Easter April 12,

  4. It’s not [the] WHAT but [the] HOW you [should] want to be when you grow up – or when you’ve grown up.
    Despite our years, whether young or old, we all have room for improvement.
    We must accept that reality and guard ourselves from going stagnant.
    Otherwise we miss out on a lot of JOY in life.

    Here’s the followup to Steve Hartman’s classes in Kindness 101.
    EnJOY…

    🙂

  5. Bob Pusey says:

    I’ve been thinking about yesterday’s Catch. We certainly don’t know what a day may bring forth, let alone a week, a month, or a year. Living in the present, is what we should always do, but this current circumstance really helps realize it. “Do something now “ is that what you shared at bible study the other night? We truly don’t know when or if things will get back to normal. Knowing that we’re loved (no matter what) should free us up to take action now, and let tomorrow’s worries take care of themself.But do I really trust God with my tomorrows? To be honest, focusing on the instruction from the first study: being alert so we can pray, loving others deeply, showing hospitality w/o grumbling, and using the gifts God has given us to serve others has helped me stay in the present. God has dropped opportunities in our laps, and this has helped us to turn grace outward. Thanks for again for all the great devotionals and songs that have helped me over the years!

  6. Gary Mazart says:

    In the New Age of 24 Hour Fearmongering posing as news, I share the lyrics from Zach Williams’ song “Fear is a Liar”:

    When he told you you’re not good enough
    When he told you you’re not right
    When he told you you’re not strong enough
    To put up a good fight
    When he told you you’re not worthy
    When he told you you’re not loved
    When he told you you’re not beautiful
    That you’ll never be enough

    Fear he is a liar
    He will take your breath
    Stop you in your steps
    Fear he is a liar
    He will rob your rest
    Steal your happiness
    Cast your fear in the fire
    Cause fear he is a liar

    When he told you were troubled
    You’ll forever be alone
    When he told you, you should run away
    You’ll never find a home
    When he told you, you were dirty
    And you should be ashamed
    When he told you, you could be the one
    That grace could never change

    Fear he is a liar
    He will take your breath
    Stop you in your steps
    Fear he is a liar
    He will rob your rest
    Steal your happiness
    Cast your fear in the fire
    Cause fear he is a liar

    Let Your fire fall and cast out all my fears
    Let Your fire fall Your love is all I feel

    Fear he is a liar
    He will take your breath
    Stop you in your steps
    Fear he is a liar
    He will rob your rest
    Steal your happiness
    Cast your fear in the fire
    Cause fear he is a liar

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