“You’ll Like Yourself A Lot”

Salvation, fullness of life comes to whoever by the grace of God manifested finally and completely and solely in the Lord Jesus Christ. Everlasting LIFE is God’s gift!
At this stage of my life it seems a bit tedious to go on and on saying that because to me it’s so obviously true. Still, if it’s true why wouldn’t we gladly say it.
God is magnificent and glorious for out of love He purposed a world and a human family and meant to do them good; meant to do them eternal good and He meant to do so because that’s the kind of God He is as we’ve learned from the biblical witness that comes to its climax in the blessed Lord Jesus.
I don’t know everything about anything but I’m aware that we the human family can be desperately wicked. I’ll make no attempt to prove that point—is there any sane person who would doubt it?
Let me tell you what has come home to me more clearly as the years have gone by—the human family while it can be desperately wicked can also be profoundly gallant and worthy of admiration. I’m not advocating humanism! But I will not deny that there are hosts of non-Christian people who live lives of moral grandeur. To reject! God in any of the forms that takes ends in everlasting loss.

I say that all the evil present in our world is the expression of human corruption and I believe that our corrupt state as a family is the result of many contributing factors. No one is born bad! The presence of and the pervasive nature of evil gets hold of us and as we grow we enter into that evil way.
But it’s very clear to us that evil isn’t the only thing that’s in the world. We’re persuaded beyond debate that God has not left the human family without help in His war against evil. The ways in which He helps the human family are many but He does help us! That there is good in the world as well as evil is plain to see and all the religious double-talk won’t change it. In their millions there are lovers who love others more than they love themselves. There are people who astonish us with their gallantry when they lay down their lives as caregivers to the profoundly and chronically ill. There are people young and old, rich and poor, female and male, educated or semi-literate, red and yellow, black and white who live gloriously in all parts of the world.
There! When we see such people we see the magnificence of God. There are those who wonder how a good God can be lord of a world that is so desperately wicked and that wonder is no strange thing—didn’t God’s own prophets and psalmists wonder the same thing? But there’s something else to wonder about: how can there not be a good God at work in the world when there is so much human grandeur and honor, gallantry, patience, compassion, self-giving and cheerfulness?

Why would we doubt it? What is it, are we afraid to say these people live lovely lives (not sinless lives) in case they think they will earn heaven by their goodness? Because we know they can’t buy their way into God’s love we must call their goodness evil (as some corrupt religion does) or must we avoid praising them when they do so gloriously what we wish we could do?
God help us to believe that all we see that’s lovely and fine is His work. God help us to believe that He has given them more than food and gladness, friends and family, health and political freedom. God help us to believe that He has gifted them with friends and teachers, literature and experiences that mediate truth to them—truth that shapes their character and strengthens their resolve to love and do what’s right and just and beautiful.
Tell them that! Tell them we see that in them and God has richly blessed them with it and maybe that will enable them to think noble things of God; maybe that will turn their hearts to a God who is already committed to them and who expresses that commitment in the moral glory we see in them.

That beats to pulp denying the goodness in them and damning all the evil in them. Link their goodness to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus! Link their harmless joys and pleasures with Him. Help them to admire Him. Don’t begrudge them their decency, honesty, faithfulness—it’s the work of God. Give them some praise! We don’t need to endorse corruption or remain silent about it but we need to acknowledge the presence of God in moral loveliness wherever and in whoever we see it.
Back in 1938 they made a movie about the work of a priest called Edward Flanagan who began a home for needy boys—a home that grew and grew until it became Boy’s Town. It is a moving and fine movie with plenty of interesting characters in it.
As the movie tells it Flanagan goes to the store of his friend Dave Morris [played by Henry Hull] looking for a $100 loan to lease a house to shelter the homeless boys he’d gathered up. Business man Morris wants to know what Flanagan has as collateral and the priest brings out a cheap watch that the broker has scores of—he sells them for a couple of dollars each. What else? The priest has nothing else but a10¢ toy—the kind with a clown face, two little holes as eyes and two little balls you must get settled in the eyes. That? That’s collateral? Against his better business judgment Dave succumbs to the priest’s plea and loans him the $100, refuses the collateral and urges the priest, “You better leave before I change my mind.”

Flanagan says, “Oh, I’m not afraid of that Dave!”

I love that line! I love it not only because it was the right thing to say but also because Dave Morris was such a character that the priest was able to say such a thing to him. How marvelous it is to know such people—they make a commitment and have no intention of backing away from it. You know such people don’t you? Christians and non-Christians. You’ve met or heard of them; you might well be one of them; one of those that people talk about as I am now talking about Dave Morris who helped Flanagan’s dream to become a reality and wouldn’t “change his mind” until such a place as Boy’s Town came into and remains in existence to this day.

The scene from the movie ends with Flanagan talking the storeowner into selling him some stuff for the house with Morris’ own money and then working another scheme on him. The frustrated Morris blusters and protests but is clearly weakening and the priest says to him just as he’s leaving, “Dave, tonight before you go to sleep you’re gonna like yourself—a lot!”

I love that line too and I fervently hope that some of you who read this, in whom Dave Morris is alive and well—I hope that you know God is enabling you and has blessed you and is pleased with such a spirit in you and that tonight you can like yourself—a lot.

BOY’S TOWN

 

Michael J. Fox & Robert Louis Stevenson

I’m fairly sure it was the noted author and literary critic, Arthur Quiller-Couch, who said of Robert Louis Stevenson that his life was “one long crucifixion.” Illness plagued RLS. and though he was something like that fine man, Michael J. Fox, who mostly takes the very rough with the smooth, RLS had his times as MJF has when his mental/emotional steadiness gave way as he lay coughing up blood and writhing in pain. Add to that—as if that weren’t enough—the deeper sensitivity of people like Fox and Stevenson as they reflect on the great hurt of the world. Along with the awareness of the incalculable anguish there is the soundless, lingering sense that the great suffering is also the expression of a single “great wrong.”
19th century Irish-born physicist John Tyndall, atheist, observed that his arguments in favor of atheism always felt much stronger when he was depressed and the reverse was true when his world was pleasing. I like it that he said that. I’m not using it as an argument against atheism. I just wish to say it doesn’t surprise me that dark days that come often or stay around and don’t leave—I’m just saying it makes sense to me that we wonder if there is an overarching “right!” or Someone who wants to look after us or Someone who will right all the wrongs and bring about a happy and just end to things.
I mean Someone who like Pip in the John Mills movie adaptation of Great Expectations walks into the gloomy house of death formerly owned by the now deceased gloomy Ms. Havisham to deliver his beloved Estella. She feels this gloom is all there is and so she sits in dust and degradation becoming accustomed to what she sees around her and with the heavy dust-laden curtains always drawn as did the bitter, soulless Ms. Havisham. Pip cries into the air words that defy the lingering spirit of the old woman and runs to the curtains and rips them down from each window and the bright sunshine streams in, exposing the vermin-covered tables, the rotten food and the filth of the furniture and all else. In light of the warm sunshine the astonished Estella sees the room and that house for what it is and sees life with her loved one for what it could and should be and together they walk out into life together.
I’m glad that there are gallant sufferers in the world who rejoice in times of joy, trusting through the sustained heartache. There is a gospel for the happy, thank God! But I’m glad, one way or another, to meet up with people, in literature or life who live well through pain sometimes too difficult to smile about.  It was probably during a period like that that RLS wrote this:
To go on for ever and fail and go on again,
And be mauled to the earth and arise,
And contend for the shade of a word and a thing
not seen with the eyes:
With the half of a broken hope for a pillow at night
That somehow the right is the right
And the smooth shall bloom from the rough:
Lord, if that were enough!
I think that sometimes the Lord Jesus would say, “That’s enough.”

Acts: The Gospel of The Holy Spirit (Part 16)

Watch the latest video from McGuiggan Reflections.
For the next few months, we will be exploring the book of Acts in a series titled Acts: The Gospel of the Holy Spirit. We hope you enjoy and can benefit greatly from this study. To contact Jim, feel free to email him at holywoodjk@aol.com or visit his website at http://www.jimmcguiggan.com.
Watch on Youtube via IFTTT

Acts: The Gospel of The Holy Spirit (Part 15)

Watch the latest video from McGuiggan Reflections.
For the next few months, we will be exploring the book of Acts in a series titled Acts: The Gospel of the Holy Spirit. We hope you enjoy and can benefit greatly from this study. To contact Jim, feel free to email him at holywoodjk@aol.com or visit his website at http://www.jimmcguiggan.com.
Watch on Youtube via IFTTT

Jesus And Eliza Doolittle

The world doesn’t change? Of course it does! Reality includes thoughts and feelings, purposes and promises, convictions and emotional responses as well as rocks and rivers, mountains and recliner chairs, stars and ancient trees, sub-atomic particles and huge blue whales. Reality includes how we relate to the world that is “not us” and since our views change about people and things around us—the world changes.

Yes, but trees remain trees and streets still streets! Of course, and there’s no point in being silly about that; but what do you think the song-writer had in mind when he has Freddy Eynsford-Hill singing,
“I have often walked down this street before/
But the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before/
All at once am I, several stories high/
Knowing I’m on the street where you live”?
Freddy is now madly in love with Eliza Doolittle and ordinary prose won’t capture what he feels. The world is now new!
Well, that’s just poetry!
What’s just poetry? The way the guy feels! No! That’s not just poetry—the description of what he actually experiences is poetic but the experience, the emotional surge, the joy tinged with a little awe is real! He has changed and because that’s true he no longer feels the same about the street he thought nothing of before. The street has now become “her” street and because it’s hers he relates to it differently and that experience of relating is real, as real as the street he walks on. He knows the street is a street but his love for her invests the street with her presence. To tell him he’s silly, that he doesn’t actually rise off the pavement would be silly—it never entered his head that he did. To tell him he doesn’t feel joy and excitement at being on her street would be to talk nonsense for that’s exactly what he does feel! That long stretch of concrete with brick structures on each side of it will never be the same to him.
Reality (the world) actually changes because reality is perceived and experienced and how we perceive and experience reality changes depending on events or truths or convictions and such.
Well, this is all psychological stuff! Of course it is! Should we pretend otherwise? Humans are more than flesh and blood. They’re embodied dreams and fears, worries and joys, relationships and convictions. Should we pretend that the only reality is what we can bump into or see under a microscope or through a telescope? Reality includes the observer—bumping and telescoping and microscoping and whatever—they’re all possible only to personal observers.
This relational truth about things is not restricted to romance—friendship, parent/child, teacher/student and other relationships work the same transforming magic. The same holds true in our relationship to Jesus Christ for God works at the psychological level as well as all other levels.
I mention all this because just some time ago a young man asked me if the doctrine of the life, cross, resurrection and exaltation of Jesus made any difference to the “now” of people’s lives rather than the future and if it did, in what way.

We should insist, certainly, that a glorious future hope affects the present. Paul thought it should, in 1 Corinthians 15:54-58. He spoke of a coming day when for all who are embraced in Christ’s saving work that death would be obliterated and then he says (15:58 NRSV), “Therefore, my beloved, be…always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” The coming resurrection casts a light on their present lives for the Lord—none of it is lost!

The truth is: faith in Jesus is the future, it is the assurance, it is “being sure” of what we hope for (Hebrews 11:1). But that faith in light of the future (and it should never be severed from that) even now makes the world a different place if we have given ourselves in faith to Christ. As surely as streets remain streets pain and suffering remain pain and suffering but in light of faith in Jesus these realities are not the same; we now relate to them in an altogether different way. The pleasures and joys of life take on a new complexion when they are related to Jesus Christ. So do the  world’s great wrongs and the suffering endured by the plundered poor; tyrants are more tyrannical and sinister, injustice more unjust and self-centeredness less excusable.
If we don’t feel that at any serious level it might well be because we haven’t yet grasped at a significant depth (or been grasped by) the truth in and about Jesus. Perhaps if we spent more time prayerfully and seriously reflecting on the major issues of our faith and less on the needful but relatively peripheral matters we’d discover that the world has changed since He came.
Maybe one day, while we’re working our way through the truth about Him we’ll be transfixed by a realization, our eyes will get big and round and though the emotional experience will calm down the world will never be the same. Truth frees but it also makes us debtors to all those God loves! It isn’t always peace and quiet joy but through His eyes it’s always glorious; always cosmic as well as personal and individual!
A new world IS coming but even now we sense:

Heaven above is softer blue
Earth beneath is sweeter green,
Something lives in every hue
That Christless eyes have never seen.
Birds with gladder songs overflow
Stars with deeper beauty shine,
Since I know as now I know
I am his and he is mine.

Write me if you wish if you feel the need: holywoodjk@aol.com

Acts: The Gospel of The Holy Spirit (Part 14)

Watch the latest video from McGuiggan Reflections.
For the next few months, we will be exploring the book of Acts in a series titled Acts: The Gospel of the Holy Spirit. We hope you enjoy and can benefit greatly from this study. To contact Jim, feel free to email him at holywoodjk@aol.com or visit his website at http://www.jimmcguiggan.com.
Watch on Youtube via IFTTT