The Gospel is Everything

Good morning. It is Sunday, March 29, 2015. Eight more days until Opening Day!! As I noted on my Facebook page, I realize that there is a game on the evening of April 5. Neither one of my teams are involved, so I’m not counting that one.

Today is Rachel’s birthday!! (Our oldest daughter.) Happy birthday, Rachel!!

Today is also Palm Sunday, the day when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey, while the crowds laid palm branches down on the road in front of him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (See Matthew 21, Mark 11, and John 12.)

Today’s Word of the Day is movable feast. I like this because it has the word “feast” in it. 🙂 “A religious feast day which, though always on the same day of the week, does not occur on the same calendar date each year.” Easter is an example of such a “movable feast.” Another definition is offered: “In extended use: anything which may appear, occur, etc., at varying times or dates.”

Today is Smoke and Mirrors Day. This, of course, is a phrase that means someone is creating an illusion of some sort. Prestidigitators are said to use “smoke and mirrors” in some of their tricks. Politicians are also said to use “smoke and mirrors” as they attempt to convince anyone at all that they are telling the truth about anything. There is also a collection of short stories by Neil Gaiman, called Smoke and Mirrors. Not to mention an album by Imagine Dragons.

Yesterday was nice day, I believe. I went out with Christi to do the grocery shopping, along with another stop or two, and we had a nice time together. After groceries, we went to Fogata’s for lunch (our usual Saturday lunch stop), and then went back home to get ready for our evening worship and prayer gatherings. Both of those went very well, as did the Pastoral Assist Team meeting after church. The pastor’s sermon last night was, once again, pretty amazing. I will touch on some of that in a bit.

Today, in a little over an hour (which means I need to get cracking, here), we will be leaving to go to Mineral Wells to meet up with my parents, and Rachel and Justin. Today, as mentioned above, is Rachel’s birthday, and Mama’s is April 8. We will celebrate both of them today. We have gifts and cards for both.

It was on this date in 1973 that the last U.S. combat soldiers left South Vietnam. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Today’s birthdays include our daughter Rachel (psychology student), John Tyler (10th President), Cy Young (pitcher), William Walton (composer), E. Power Biggs (concert organist), Pearl Bailey (singer/actress), Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou (we know him as the musician, “vangelis”), Eric Idle (Monty Python’s Flying Circus), Denny McLain (pitcher), Terry Jacks (musician), Billy Thorpe (singer), Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi), Brendan Gleeson (actor), Earl Campbell (football player), Patty Donahue (singer), Christopher Lambert (actor), Perry Farrell (musician, founder of Lollapalooza), Elle Pacpherson (model), Lucy Lawless (actress), Sue Foley (blues guitarist), Jennifer Capriati (tennis player), and Megan Hilty (actress).

Vangelis, probably most famous for the soundtrack to Chariots of Fire was born on this date in 1943, which makes him 72 today. My favorite thing of his, though, is is occasional collaboration with Jon Anderson, of Yes fame. There are a number of albums by Jon and Vangelis. My favorite piece in all of these is this one, called “Friends of Mr. Cairo.” It’s long, about twelve minutes, but worth a listen.


Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!

Psalm 25:6-7

I stated, earlier, that I would make more reference to the pastor’s message from last night. The scripture for his message is Colossians 2:1-7.

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

The message centered on the thought that we should be encouraged, and that we should walk in Christ, just as we received him, which was by grace through faith. Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter, and he spoke of the great struggle that he endured for those to whom he is writing. How can Paul’s struggling, or suffering, be an encouragement to us? There were a couple of answers.

1. The Gospel is worth suffering for, because it is real and it is true.
2. The Gospel sustains us during suffering. Paul was able to rejoice in his suffering, because his joy was rooted in the Gospel. The Gospel is enough.

C.S. Lewis said, “Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.” There are too many things that we could lose at any moment, in which we tend to place our happiness.

Why, then, is the Gospel not enough for us? Four reasons:

1. We look for joy in all the wrong places. Job, relationship, hobby, and so on.
2. We leave the Gospel behind. “I need a new book.” We have heard the Gospel so many times, that we begin to leave it behind, and proceed to enact number one, above, looking for truth in the latest book or whatever.
3. We try to pay it back, thereby ruining the Gospel. We need to learn to receive. There is no way that we could ever pay Jesus back for his sacrifice.
4. We don’t believe the Gospel. This one really hurts, because, as Christians, that is what we are supposed to believe! But when we go looking for joy in the wrong places, or leaving it behind, or trying to pay it back, we proclaim that we don’t truly believe it. It is, ultimately, about joy.

The Gospel is not just the foundation of our faith. It is not the ABC of Christianity. It is everything. It is A-Z.

When I began to consider the day I had at work on Friday, and my reaction to that day of frustration, I was broken. This message pointed out to me that I handled it all wrong. I did not believe the Gospel. I left it behind, and allowed anger and frustration to control me. My first thought, after realizing this, was, “I have a lot of work to do.” But then, I immediately stopped, realizing that that was exactly the wrong answer! The work is done! Jesus died and rose again on the third day! I don’t have to work! I simply have to believe and allow the Gospel to be all in all to me, in every circumstance of my life!

Easier said than done, I know. But it is the truth.

Father, help me to make this truth real in my life! I pray for no more days of failure like Friday. May your grace carry me through those days and those circumstances where, even though frustration might be legitimate, it does not have to rule me. Thank you for your faithful servant Jacob, and his willingness to deliver your message to us.

I pray for this day, that we might have safe travel to and from Mineral Wells, and a great time with family. Bless us as we celebrate birthdays, today.

How can we rejoice in suffering? Remember that the Gospel is everything, and have our joy rooted in the truth of the Gospel, not in anything that we may lose.

Grace and peace, friends.