Fellowship and Life

“And He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it …” — Jesus, Luke 19:19

“This cup is the new covenant in My blood …” — Jesus, Luke 19:20

I was on the schedule at my church this past Sunday to present the “communion meditation,” a short homily preceding our weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper.

That schedule—published late last fall for our Traditional services in 2020—was obviated (i.e., “blown to smithereens”) by the COVID-19 shutdown. We still partake in the Lord’s Supper in our online service (at home) but with no Traditional service homily.

Months ago, pre-shut-down, I hit on an idea for the homily and made notes. When my phone calendar chime reminded me last week to prepare the communion meditation, I dug out the notes and figured, column! Here is my communion thought:

“The broken body and the spilled blood of Christ.” That’s the phrase we hear so often as we encounter the Lord’s Supper, our commemoration of Jesus at the last supper in the upper room. Jesus there instructed His disciples, going forward, to eat the bread and drink the cup “in remembrance” of Him. In the ensuing hours, Jesus—the perfect and innocent lamb—would be arrested, tried, beaten, and crucified. Jesus’s broken and bloody body hung on the cursed cross sacrificed to defeat death, forgive humanity’s sins, and complete His mission of salvation in perfect obedience to God. 

That’s a story we all know, but frankly I don’t always like the way it is told. Jesus died a violent but purposeful death and His resurrection proved His truth. But scripture tells us that Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, would have no “broken” bones (Exodus 12:46, Psalm 34:20, John 19:36). And though Jesus bled, crucifixion is not a “blood” sacrifice—death comes from multiple trauma and agonizing asphyxiation on a “cursed tree.”

Listen closely to the words of Luke 19:19: “He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it.” Jesus was breaking the bread of sustained fellowship with His disciples and instructing all believers for all time to remember and replicate the holy communion the disciples had with Jesus and each other. Fellowship, not brokenness, is the point.

And hear Luke 19:20: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood …” Blood is the locus of life, we are taught in the Old Testament, and this new cup of Christ indicates not only His bloody death but the blood—the new life of faith—in the New Covenant.

Let us always encounter the bread and the cup of the Lord’s Supper with joy and fellowship, in both our communion with Christ and in loving each other. Why would we celebrate a guilty remembrance of a brutal death, or a shaming reminder of our sins, failures, and fallenness? When did Jesus say to believers, “Remember your guilt!”?

No! In communion with the gracious, risen Christ we are to joyfully and properly share in His eternal gifts of hope and peace. “Go and sin no more!” Jesus said. In this supper we commemorate the glory and love of God, the perfect truth and obedience of Jesus, and the abiding comfort and peace of the Holy Spirit. The bread and the cup remind us that we are Christians commissioned to shine Jesus’s light on mankind and that Jesus commanded us, as faithful servants, to love God and to love each other.

In a world where Satan’s darkness is close, we are citizens of a Heavenly light in communion with the Father, the Son, the Spirit, and each other. Let’s remember that.

Walters (rlwcom@aol.com) is fixed and gathered, not broken and spilled. For more of Walters’ columns, see commonchristianity.blogspot.com. For his books, see www.lulu.com/spotlight/CommonChristianity.

When Empty is Good

“ … and in Christ you have been brought to fullness.”

Colossians 2:10, NIV

What an irony that an empty grave was humanity’s first sign of salvation when what salvation means is humanity’s fullness in Christ.

In the Jesus-generated hubbub of Holy Week–the triumphant entry, trashing the temple, His teaching, the last supper, the new commandments, Jesus’s arrest, trials, horrible death on the cross, entombment, arisen and bodily seen on the third day, humanity’s forgiveness and salvation at last!–easily overlooked is the sure reality that Jesus was the human, divine, tactile proof of God’s existence and truth.

The disciples were frightened, disillusioned, and dispersed during the crucifixion.  The empty grave confounded everybody. The believers were then stunned Jesus was no longer dead; many saw Him, talked to Him, touched Him, ate with Him. He was real. 

And as for what it all meant, initially, to the believers, it meant joy mixed with confusion. Over the years we have come to talk about Easter and perhaps over-focus our faith on the gracious forgiveness of our sins by the cross and, by the empty grave, the gift of eternal life with God through faith in Christ. Sins forgiven; death defeated.

But we mustn’t stop there. It took even the disciples a while to figure it all out.

Everything the disciples needed to know about Jesus’s resurrection, who He was–God in the flesh–and what their task would be going forward, Jesus had already told them the past three years and especially in that eventful final week. Little of His infinite significance–what “Son of God” actually meant–truly sank in, at least not right away.

Even we today are often distracted by the Good Friday misery of death and the joyous Easter-morning relief of life revived. “He is Risen!” For the most part we have figured out, believe, and cherish the gifts of divine grace, the big “whew!” of our sins covered and behavioral debts canceled, and the secure knowledge that heaven, eternal life, and our adoption into God’s family and Kingdom are the sure goals of our hope.

That’s all great, but really it is only fullness for us. What about fullness for God?

That fullness is the life we are to give to others going forward. That is the glory of God Jesus brought to mankind. Jesus had fully briefed the disciples how His presence, life, death, and resurrection would define their mission ahead. And for a couple of obvious reasons, it was not the disciples’ mission to accompany Jesus into death. They were dispersed after Jesus’s arrest because 1) they had to be around later to tell about Jesus, and 2) death was something Jesus had to go through… rejected and alone. 

Jesus finished His mission on the cross; their mission was then to tell the world.

Think of the whiplash juxtaposition: on Friday the disciples thought they had seen their hope turn into a cruel lie and their mission into an empty hoax. On Sunday, hope became proof of God’s surest truth, and their mission would come to change the world.

Much, much more happened, of course. It took many years and many people to put those amazing events into the fulfilling context of truth and salvation for all mankind. 

But that empty grave?

It will remain empty forever, and thankfully, it is one we will never occupy.

Walters (rlwcom@aol.com), who won’t be surprised if his own grave is a tad itchy, notes that the stone was rolled away not to let Jesus out, but to let us see in. For more of Walters’ columns, see commonchristianity.blogspot.com. For his books, see www.lulu.com/spotlight/CommonChristianity.

Ben Shapiro: Problem Solving in Life and Business

“I’ve always been committed to the idea that we need to change how people think in order for them to change how they live.”

Ben Shapiro, Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Wire

When something goes wrong, what do you do? Hear Mr. Shapiro’s take on handling life: choosing a career, handling missteps, and charting a course for the future.

Note: one thing that is very interesting about this interview is that both the interviewer and the interviewee overcame childhood bullying.

Pandemic Not to Be of Epic Proportions

This just in: The pandemic was oversold. Read Madeline Osburn’s full story at The Federalist: “The Scientist Whose Doomsday Pandemic Model Predicted Armageddon Just Walked Back the Apocalyptic Predictions.”

Key Quotes

“British scientist Neil Ferguson ignited the world’s drastic response to the novel Wuhan coronavirus when he published the bombshell report predicting 2.2 million Americans and more than half a million Brits would be killed.”

“But after tens of thousands of restaurants, bars, and businesses closed, Ferguson is now retracting his modeling, saying he feels ‘reasonably confident’ our health care system can cope when the predicted peak of the epidemic arrives in a few weeks.”

“Ferguson, who has since tested positive for the Wuhan virus himself, has not issued any official retraction or apologies for his incorrect predictions.”

I Know What Faith Is

The following is a letter from Hazel Moyers, a believer born in Southern Missouri in 1909:

“I have studied and have had a great time this morning with my Lord here at Paradise Valley. I know wonderful peace because of Him. 

This spring I planted a small garden and have enjoyed many good meals from it. 

I know what the life in the tiny seed will bring forth. 

I know what faith is. 

I have received many uplifting calls, many beautiful letters from my precious earthly family Father God has blessed me with—I know what love is. 

I have stood & talked to the Martins and other birds as they would chatter back to me in their lovely singing.

Hazel Moyers, 1982

Out with the Old, In with the New?

How are you, friend? By now you have more than likely wrapped up the holiday celebrations and have stepped into the new year with fresh goals, new determinations, and dreams of the possibilities a new year brings. Me too. 
 
I love the implication that every New Year’s Day brings, “Out with the old, in with the new.” But I have to say, this year I feel as though I am in overtime from last year.  It seems 2019 just isn’t quite ready to throw in the towel. The same struggles that I wrestled down on December 31 got back up and faced me head on January 1st.
 
My initial reaction is, “Come on, really? Will I ever catch a break?” But once the dust settles, and my toddler tantrum is over, God speaks. I lean in and listen carefully. As I listen, I hear an echo whispering from my past. A lesson taught in our early years of marriage and ministry. 
 
Steve and I had just joined a pastor friend of ours to start a new church work. We were zealous, full of fresh ideas, ready to take on the community for Jesus. We would shake things up a bit by tossing out the “old churchy” ways of doing things and usher in relevant, innovative and trendy ways of doing church. 
 
The church grew, faster than we could keep up with. We soon discovered that in order for us to build something that was solid in the hearts of the people, we needed to add something into the mix. What we were missing in all the new, was the foundation that came with some of the old. 
 
As much as I want to enter the new year, with a slate wiped clean, I do not want to forsake the valuable lessons learned in 2019. These lessons will be the foundation under the lessons I will gather in 2020.
 
If you were to pause a few moments and reflect on what God taught you about Himself or His ways in 2019, what would you discover? 
 
There were many turbulent storms Steve and I faced in 2019. The ushering in of a New Year did not change the fact that these storms are still brewing. However, God has used these hardships to mark my heart with some eternal lessons that I carry with me into 2020. Here are my top three:
 

  • He is God, I am not. All my striving changes nothing, it is only through the power of His Spirit at work in us and through us, that true transformation happens. He offers me an invitation to be a co-laborer with Him, that I may have a front-row seat to His wondrous grace at work.  

For it is God who works in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

Philippians 2:13, NIV
  • Choose seeking over striving. When I relinquish the control of always trying to figure out how to fix someone or a situation and earnestly seek His heart in the matter, I walk in more peace and joy. I don’t know how He does it but He surpasses my circumstance with His very presence. I guess that is the beauty of faith.  

Surrender your anxiety
Be silent and stop your striving and you will see that I am God.
I am the God above all the nations,
and I will be exalted throughout the whole earth.”

Psalm 46:10, TPT
  • Live fully in the moment you are in. God faithfully supplies the grace for that moment. If I rush ahead of the moment I am in, I am borrowing sorrow from tomorrow and not trusting that God’s grace is big enough to meet me when I step into that next moment and what it holds. Rushing through life blurs my vision, preventing me from seeing the glory of God in my “right now moment.”

Refuse to worry about tomorrow 
but deal with each challenge that comes your way, 
one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself.”

Matthew 6:34, TPT

 What about you, my friend? Take some time and ponder, “What are some lessons from the past year that need to follow me into this New Year?” May God faithfully reveal them to you.  May 2020 prove to be a year where we pause in His presence more, look intentionally for the evidence of His glorious grace, and delight in His extravagant love. 
 
Let’s keep finding Hope in the journey,
Evelyn
 
P.S. I am thrilled to share with you that I will be finishing up my book proposal in the next two months. 

What a journey! God has taught me so much about myself and waiting on Him, as well as stepping out in faith and trusting His voice. What a blessing it would be if you would keep me in your prayers concerning two things. First, I will be away doing some writing this week. I want to be a conduit that flows with life-giving words. So pray I will hear God’s voice clearly. Second, my next step will be to find an agent. There are so many out there, but I know God has one for me. Thanks my friends. I will be praying for you as I write.


Hi There! My name is Evelyn. I am a lover of all things family, faith and Fall. So grateful that you found your way here. The chaos of life can leave us feeling a bit worn around the edges. Sometimes a little ray of hope is all we need to provide courage for the next step in our journey. So come on in, take a deep breath. My prayer is that in this space, you will be able to grab hold of hope. For more of my blogs, visit my website Hope for the Journey.

Voiceless Film Hits Indiana Theaters

What would you do if the business across the street from your church was an abortion clinic?

That’s the question Jesse Dean faces in the brand-new film Voiceless.

“I wanted to create a film to challenge the church to get involved in the public square,” says Pat Necerato, the film’s screenwriter and director. He told LifeNews, “I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard Christians, even pastors, say: We need to be saving souls, not so much worried about confronting evil. Those words never really jived well with my theology that Christ is King, He can redeem any aspect of our world, and He has called Christians to be saved and be a part of it. That’s the big picture.”

Pat and his team are taking their message to the street: it’s the first film to be screened on the sidewalk outside the Supreme Court.

Openings have been rippling across the nation ever since. Here’s where you can catch the film in Indiana:

Opened Friday, October 21

  • YES Cinema
    328 Jackson St., Columbus
    Columbus, IN
  • Showplace 11
    4713 National Rd. E.
    Richmond, IN

Opening Friday, October 28

  • Regal Village Pk. Cinema, S17
    2222 E. 146th St.
    Carmel, IN
  • Jasper 8 Theatres
    256 Brucke Strasse
    Jasper, IN

Voiceless and the prolife mobilization ministry Save the Storks are teaming up to help people passionate about life bring the film to their church families.

Learn more at savethstorks.com/voiceless.

Voiceless Film Hits Indiana Theaters

What would you do if the business across the street from your church was an abortion clinic?

That’s the question Jesse Dean faces in the brand-new film Voiceless.

“I wanted to create a film to challenge the church to get involved in the public square,” says Pat Necerato, the film’s screenwriter and director. He told LifeNews, “I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard Christians, even pastors, say: We need to be saving souls, not so much worried about confronting evil. Those words never really jived well with my theology that Christ is King, He can redeem any aspect of our world, and He has called Christians to be saved and be a part of it. That’s the big picture.”

Pat and his team are taking their message to the street: it’s the first film to be screened on the sidewalk outside the Supreme Court.

Openings have been rippling across the nation ever since. Here’s where you can catch the film in Indiana:

Opened Friday, October 21

  • YES Cinema
    328 Jackson St., Columbus
    Columbus, IN
  • Showplace 11
    4713 National Rd. E.
    Richmond, IN

Opening Friday, October 28

  • Regal Village Pk. Cinema, S17
    2222 E. 146th St.
    Carmel, IN
  • Jasper 8 Theatres
    256 Brucke Strasse
    Jasper, IN

Voiceless and the prolife mobilization ministry Save the Storks are teaming up to help people passionate about life bring the film to their church families.

Learn more at savethstorks.com/voiceless.

Forgive and Go On

When someone does you wrong,
Don’t fret; just go on.
When someone does
A dreadful deed,
Sometimes makes you even bleed,
Just forgive them and go on.
When someone takes
What you have won,
Just forgive them and go on.
Do you have hurts deep inside,
‘Cause someone took you for a ride?
Don’t fret, sigh, or cry.
Forgive and go on.

Christian philosopher, Bible teacher, author, and prolific poet, Margarett Inez Bates is a graduate of Mount Vernon Bible College with a Bachelor’s degree from the Christian International School of Theology. Actively involved in Christian service for over forty years, she currently resides in her hometown, Kokomo, Indiana. Margarett has published two books: Poetical Insights: Lifting Up a Standard, and Poetical Insights Vol. 2: A Closer Look. You can read more of her work at Kokomo Poet.