the Manna | August 2010
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the Manna | August 2010
18 | God of the Now
09 | Signals 11 | On the Air
24 | Just a Psychological Crutch
Stay in Touch
We are free to move â€“ in the present.
There is a logical response to our Maker.
28 | Learning the Djembe Learning a drum called life.
12 | The Time is Now Only God knows what we will need.
15 | Sweet Old World Do you see God in the good of this world?
Extras 26 | Unfiltered
16 | Time Lord Getting beyond the sequence of time.
wolc.org | readthemanna.org | August 2010
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the Manna | A Publication of Maranatha, Inc. Editor-In-Chief: Debbie Byrd Contributing Editor: Randy Walter Creative Director: Joe Willey Contributing Writers: Brent Timmons, Karen Tull, Josh Millwood Media Client Liaisons: Rob Brunk , Jay Prouse
Frequently Asked Questions Who We Are The Manna is published by Maranatha, Inc., a Christcentered ministry called to proclaim the Good News of faith and life in Jesus Christ through various forms of media, as God directs, until He returns. “Maranatha” (mer-a-nath´-a) is an Aramaic word found in I Corinthians 16:22. It is translated, “Our Lord, come!” Joy! 102.5 WOLC is also part of Maranatha, Inc. Its call letters stand for “Watch, Our Lord Cometh.” Maranatha!
Disclaimer Non-ministry advertisers are not required to subscribe to the “Statement of Faith” printed at right; nor are their businesses and products necessarily endorsed by the Manna, Joy! 102.5 WOLC, or Maranatha, Inc., whose viewpoints are not necessarily represented by the opinions or statements of persons interviewed in this magazine; nor are the viewpoints of its advertisers.
Statement of Faith We Believe… that the Holy Bible is the inspired, infallible and authoritative source of Christian doctrine and precept; that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; that the only hope for man is to believe in Jesus Christ, the virgin-born Son of God, who died to take upon Himself the punishment for the sin of mankind, and who rose from the dead so that by receiving Him as Savior and Lord, man is redeemed by His blood; that Jesus Christ in person will return to Earth in power and glory; that the Holy Spirit indwells those who have received Christ, for the purpose of enabling them to live righteous and godly lives; and that the Church is the Body of Christ and is comprised of all those who, through belief in Christ, have been spiritually regenerated by the indwelling Holy Spirit. The twin mission of the Church is worldwide evangelization, and nurture and discipline of Christians.
Manna and Joy! 102.5 WOLC P. O. Box 130, Princess Anne, MD 21853 Voice: 410-543-9652 Fax: 410-651-9652 Manna e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Joy! 102.5 e-mail: email@example.com ©2010 Maranatha, Inc. May not be reproduced without written consent of Maranatha, Inc. Photos: iStockphoto and Big Stock Photo
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Signals Now There are many reasons why a person has a tendency to look back. It may be nostalgia. It may be sentimentalism. It may be regret. Maybe one’s life’s work requires a look backward, like an historian or an economist studying trends. Certainly it’s possible to learn from history, or from those that have lived it. But we can’t change it. There are a number of reasons why a person may look to the future. It may be hopefulness. It may be wishful thinking. It may be fear. Again, one’s work may require forward thinking. Even if only the planning process like scheduling work assignments or ordering supplies. But we can’t learn from the future. Yet, maybe we could change it. Seriously. We can’t do anything about what’s already done. But we can consider how our lives, the lives of those around us, our community, our country, our planet might exist if things continued exactly how they are. Conversely, we can consider how things could be better, or worse, for the future, if we changed what we do and how we do it today. And then it’s only a matter of trying to be good stewards, of making right choices that will leave a legacy for those that follow, because not one of us really knows if we have tomorrow. Scripture tells us, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10 NKJ). It goes on to tell us that we should use the time we have to hasten the Lord’s return. He is waiting as long as possible so that every possible soul might turn to Him.
Some pray for His quick return. Some pray that His return will be delayed so that others might come to know Him. One pastor used to rightfully say that time has no meaning to God, that God looks at the concept of time differently than we do. It’s true. He sees the beginning, the now, and the end equally. He sees time as one and in layers, concurrently. The concept we call time, to God, is simply the space in which He gives each of us to repent – to turn to Him. If we have repented and turned to Christ, what then do we do? Just sit back and wait? No, our job is to share the news of Him today. We can’t sit and plan who we might share Him with tomorrow; it’s necessary to share Him in this moment, in case it is the last moment we know on this earth. Sharing Him is not limited to just talking about Him. It’s not limited to our verbal testimony, as they used to say. We can share Him by the manner in which we live our lives. We can be a walking testimony. Pay attention. That’s not a walked testimony, undertaken yesterday. It’s not a to walk or a will walk, to be undertaken tomorrow. It’s walking – current, alive and in the here and now! It is futile to try to walk with the Lord yesterday. It’s a nice goal, but only that, to walk with Him tomorrow. He would have us walk with Him now. Laying claim in our doing so to all of the promises He has for our eternal future with Him – a future that will begin only when He appoints the moment. Debbie Byrd is General Manager of Maranatha, Inc., a ministry that includes Joy! 102.5 and the Manna.
wolc.org | readthemanna.org | August 2010
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On the Air Higher Standards Have you listened lately? If so, hopefully you’ve noticed some of the exciting changes we’ve made on the air – from new songs and artists we’re playing to our new on-air hosts who have joined us over the past couple of months. First, we welcomed Josh Millwood (firstname.lastname@example.org) as our new host for the “Joy Ride”, airing weekdays 3-6 pm. Josh made the move to the Eastern Shore from New Orleans, Louisiana, where he was the afternoon host and production director for WBSN. Josh says he is ready for the challenge: “I consider myself fortunate to have found a team committed to reaching folks for Christ through great music and ministry. This is a chance to grow and try new things. Plus, it’s nice to live 30 minutes from the beach!” And, last month, we welcomed Brittney Switala (email@example.com) as our new host for “Midday Joy”, airing weekdays 11 am-1 pm. Brittney joins us from Raleigh, North Carolina, where she has a wealth of radio experience working for the “His Radio” network.
We are thrilled to have added these two new voices to our on-air team. If you haven’t heard them yet, be sure to listen on your radio or online (wolc.org/listenNow). Joy! 102.5 is in its 34th year of ministry, and we continue to strive for excellence in all we do. I used to hear Jerry Falwell say, “If it’s Christian, it should always be better.” I love that statement and feel we should continually be the ones leading the way and setting a higher standard because of the message we’re sharing – the lifechanging and saving message of Jesus Christ! Along with making positive changes and striving to be the best, one of the things we have to consistently do is evaluate what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. As part of this process, we value hearing feedback from those who listen to WOLC. With that said, watch our website and Facebook page in the coming days for some surveys that will ask your opinion on topics such as our weekend programming. As always, I love hearing from you, so please keep in touch! (firstname.lastname@example.org) Rodney Baylous is Program Director of Joy! 102.5. Visit www.wolc.org.
Listen Now! Check out our Program Guide at wolc.org
wolc.org | readthemanna.org | August 2010
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hen my friend Rachel and I get together, we often play a little game we like to call “Hypothetical Situation.” We never consciously invented it, but over time came to realize that most of our conversations invariably turn to “what if” discussions, in which we throw grey-matter scenarios at each other and ask what the other would do. While it’s just for the amusement, it’s always kind of interesting to pause and consider the different twists and turns life can take… the people you might meet, the decisions you’ll have to make, and so on. If someone were to ask you whether or not your life has gone the way you thought it would, what would your answer be? Are you happy? If you aren’t, do you know what would make you happy? Maybe you
don’t know what you need in order to be happy – you just know you need it (and preferably now). I’d guess that many of us, at some point or another in our lives, have had an “I’ll be happy when…” phase. We may never have voiced that exact statement, but that was the mindset. Life is sort of on hold until that certain thing happens. “I’ll be happy when I’m married.” “I’ll be happy when I have children.” “I’ll be happy when I’m divorced.” “I’ll be happy when I have a better job.” “I’ll be happy when I move away.” “I’ll be happy when we find a different church.” Have you ever been there? I definitely have. I can think back on a time when I was practically sure how my life would go. I had my picture of happiness figured out and now all God had to do was start
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putting the pieces together as I had envisioned them. Well, in the end, none of it happened. While I can sit back now and be thankful as to how things actually went, I do regret the time I wasted. Real life was going on in front of me, but my head was somewhere else. The truth is, we have no idea what the future holds. To get ahead of ourselves, even for a day, is a pointless venture. Scripture says, “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog – it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that’” (James 4:14-15). Only God knows what we need for wholeness and peace. It may be difficult to do, but we have to surrender all of our tomorrows to Him and live right in this
very moment. If we wait to live for what we think is the ideal situation, we’re squandering the time given to us. After all, how do we even know what is best? That is for God to work out in our lives as He sees fit. But in the meantime, He invites us to share with Him all of our hopes and longings. Jim Elliot, a Christian missionary and martyr, once wrote, “Wherever you are, be all there.” Happiness is fleeting, but contentment comes when we look for the blessings in each day and find joy in the wonderful things God has already orchestrated in our lives. In His timing we will learn more of the purpose and plan He has for us. And you know what? Maybe the very thing you’re hoping for is part of that plan. But maybe it’s going to be unimaginably better.
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Sweet Old World By Joe Willey
ecoming jaded about earthly existence is a badge of honor to a lot of people. Not getting too comfortable with the way things are is what it’s about. Cynics are everywhere. They sit on the good things, like curdled milk in morning coffee, just wanting to be stirred. And no one is safe from being hounded by cynicism. Its poison is pervasive, even leaching into sacred things. Christian cynics are especially offensive, because they miss what God has given by longing for what He might give. It’s obvious there are terrible things that happen with frequency – that can’t be hidden; but what about the sweet things of this world? Ignoring them for want of spending eternity with the God that made them is a bitter irony. Lucinda Williams’ song “Sweet Old World” glances at things that make it good to be alive. The song is a melancholy pleasure in itself and a reminder of how good simple things can be. She writes:
See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world The breath from your own lips, the touch of fingertips A sweet and tender kiss The sound of a midnight train, wearing someone’s ring Someone calling your name Somebody so warm cradled in your arm Didn’t you think you were worth anything? Millions of us in love, promises made good Your own flesh and blood
Looking for some truth, dancing with no shoes The beat, the rhythm, the blues The pounding of your heart’s drum together with another one Didn’t you think anyone loved you? See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world
Is there really much thought given in the moment to the joy of feeling the breath pass over your own lips, the miracle of flesh and blood, or someone else’s affection? Even less thought is given to the eternal God that created those sensations and our ability to be caught breathless by them in a second. This trembling world is part of God’s creative framework and it reflects His glory. His design shines through. Throwing it all away or lumping evil and good together in one crooked pile of sin is turning away from the goodness of the Creator. God is not a deity that flung the world into a void and then turned His back on it out of indifference, but a God that is actively involved in an intricately detailed creation. His nature bleeds through in the sweetness of the things Lucinda Williams mentions. Enjoying today is not a substitution for what an eternity swaddled in the presence of God may bring and no one trades one for the other by noticing how the two meet. The secrets of God are far better than each today, but not being the sweetest doesn’t mean somthing’s not sweet at all.
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k, put on some trippy early ‘70s psychedelic rock and buckle up. We’re going to look at time travel through the eyes of Christianity! Seriously. I’m not kidding. Stop laughing. Ever since I saw Back To The Future as a child, I’ve loved the idea of time travel. I even suffered through H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, which is about as much fun to read as the unabridged Les Miserables. Recently my wife and I have been watching Doctor Who, which I think has the smartest and silliest philosophy on time travel ever put on television. But all of those examples are fiction. In fact, the idea of time travel is fiction, until we figure out if it is possible and then achievable within God’s creation. The idea of a globally connected network of computers was fiction until the last 40 years, so don’t think that just because something is unlikely and difficult to fathom it is impossible. There’s a VeggieTales song called “God is Bigger Than The Boogie Man.” A child (well, sprout) sings the song to overcome his fear of the dark, but this simple children’s song makes a statement far greater than just conquering our imagination sparked fears. Now, you are going to have to use your imagination to visualize where we are headed with this, ok? God is bigger than time and space. Because we live and then we die, humanity experiences time sequentially, in a straight line, from a beginning point to an end point. Pretty simple. But God sits outside of time. Where we see time as a straight line, God can hold Time in hand, like it’s ball. I like to imagine it is a semi-translucent blue sphere, swirling in God’s hand – about the size of a Junior basketball (but that is just me). God can access, see, influence, experience any point of existence because He is Lord of all time. Think of it like this: You ask God to protect your children as they drift off to sleep tonight. God hears you and answers you. But because He isn’t held captive to Time and Space, He could also be answering that same prayer for a woman in feudal Japan, and a shepherd in Canaan 4,000 years before Jesus hits the scene. Time doesn’t matter to Him. He knows everything that will happen because it already has happened from His perspective. God can experience all of human history in a single moment or step into any single moment with precision. Whoa. Headache. Why even broach this subject if it is so difficult to comprehend? A great portion of the Bible is
“prophecy.” Prophecy is so much more than predicting the future. Because God already knows/is currently experiencing/has already experienced everything, He has the power and authority to share bits of it with His creation. Prophecy is God revealing stuff He knows to be real – to us – who can’t fully understand the information, because we don’t see the big picture (that blue-swirling basketball of Time in God’s hand). God used prophets to paint a picture for His people of how He was coming to save them. He gave them time-lines, locations, descriptions that all point at and were fulfilled by Jesus Christ. It’s incredibly specific. And it wasn’t hard for God to describe because He sees it – knows it – has already done it! But His people couldn’t figure it out. We don’t have the perspective that our Time Lord has. Jesus opened many people’s eyes to see how He fulfilled all of the prophecies, but most were blind to it. Humanity has a nasty habit of taking God’s revelations and trying to comprehend them without Holy Spirit’s guidance. We can write fantastic novels, make dramatic movies, preach from the pulpit on what we think God means, but let’s be honest – we are simply missing the perspective to fully comprehend it. This bugs some people, but not me. I think it is brilliant that God is way bigger and more powerful than my timelimited brain can comprehend. If you ever meet someone who claims to be able to explain God’s enormity – they are wrong. Would you even want to serve a God who was comprehendible? That was Adam and Eve’s great sin, how the serpent tempted them: “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God …” (Genesis 3:5). Adam and Eve recognized that God was greater than they, and aspired to be His equal. Sin. But we were created in God’s own image and have this innate desire to explore and create. We have imaginations! So we try to comprehend time outside of our own experience; we dream of being able to move about time as God can. I don’t think this is sin. I believe it is a result of the Image we were created in. We write great stories of what we could accomplish and what the consequences would be if we could time travel. It’s the consequences that stick out most to me in all stories about time travel. Thankfully, God is the one who controls time. I trust Him with the consequences of changing things in Time. I do not, however, trust Marty McFly.
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eek the Lord while you can find Him. Call on Him now while He is near,” entreated the prophet Isaiah 2,700
years ago. Easier said than done? Where do people find God? One of God’s attributes is omnipresence – He can be with us anywhere. King David wrote, “If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.” Rather than ask where to seek Him, a better question might be when to seek Him – not what time of the day or the week, but in the past, present or future? God is eternal; He exists in every dimension of time. But we are only capable of encountering Him in the present. That makes it prudent to live in the now. Living in the now can be repugnant to those whose daily reality is painful or empty, even though the Bible says our present sufferings are insignificant compared with the glory which will be revealed in God’s children. For some people it is easier to dwell in the past, reliving old triumphs and pleasant memories as an escape from the present. While accounts of God’s love and faithfulness often point to the past, He can only be encountered one-on-one in the current instant. God is experienced through both the natural and spiritual senses, which operate moment-by-moment. He wants us to know Him by coming into a relationship with Him, not by trying to imagine what He might be like. He wants us to live by faith – trusting Him even when we don’t understand His methods nor enjoy our circumstances. It means resting in Him when we want to ask the eternal question, “Why?” All these things can only be accomplished in the present, not in the past or the future. In the Bible’s oldest book, when everything Job cherished was taken and his world was crumbling around him, he declared, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” Job was not dwelling in the past and protesting his loss. He did not consider the future a sure thing. In a moment of passion amid a lifetime of devotion, he affirmed his faith in God, even if it cost all he had.
Trusting God is done in the reality of the present, when the mind processes information and draws conclusions. Life is in the moment. Some people escape by dwelling on the future. Throughout time, man has wanted to know his fate. From ancient soothsayers to modern psychics, people have devised techniques to foretell what lies ahead. Whenever predictions originate in man and not God, the Bible condemns it as divination. Prophecy, on the other hand, is when God reveals the future. It might be the promise of a blessing. People can live for such promises. Take Simeon. God promised him that he would not die before seeing the Messiah, and he anticipated the fulfillment of this promise every day. At the time of Jesus’ dedication in the temple, Simeon held the infant in his arms and prayed, “Sovereign Lord, now let Your servant die in peace, as You have promised. I have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and He is the glory of your people Israel!” Sometimes prophecy is a merciful warning from God that people must change or suffer loss. In the account of Jonah and the city of Ninevah, prophecy enabled men to alter their behavior and avoid God’s judgment. Focusing so much on distant aspirations that it distracts from immediate responsibilities is a downside of living in the future. Many excuses are birthed by magical thinking about the road ahead while ignoring the needs of the present. Living in the future can also be an unhealthy preoccupation with eschatology, the study of the Last Days.
Some people become so fixated on what will take place that they fail to carry out Christ’s commandments for the present. Jesus told His followers, “Occupy until I come,” meaning, “Continue to take care of My interests until I return.” When Jesus predicted the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, His disciples asked when it would happen and what would be the signs it is imminent. Jesus’ answer is the Olivet Discourse, in which He predicts these things in detail. As its conclusion, He tells His followers to be ready now, for they don’t know when these events will occur. Recognizing the portent of things to come is important, He said, but preparation is done in the present. An old adage says, “Sorrow looks back; worry looks ahead; faith looks up.” Faith is an action which takes place in the now. Faith recognizes God. It brings closure to a man’s corrupt nature while opening his senses to God’s presence. The Bible says God is everywhere, and He reveals Himself through all Creation. A man who searches for timeless truth can observe God’s fingerprints in the world around him and on the lives of people He has touched. That’s how a man “finds” Him.
A good example is Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul the apostle. Saul lived zealously by the Law of the Old Testament and persecuted the early Church. When he encountered God’s risen Son, it was not by dwelling in the past where his traditions came from, nor in the future where he was looking for his reward. It was in the moment, while Saul was on the Road to Damascus. Time stood still when a light appeared so bright that it blinded him, and a voice asked, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” The present is the only window in which we are free to move. No one can change the past. What we do now determines the future. This moment is the only instance we can alter, and every minute that passes is irretrievable. We can get our eyes off of God and onto ourselves and our circumstances when we live in the past or the future. There is wisdom in looking ahead with an eye to mold the future. There is more wisdom in doing this with an eye on our destiny. While we must remember lessons of the past and we must plan for the future, we can only find God in the now.
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Paying Attention to Now By Diana Pletts
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aying attention to now. Boy, as a former member of The Path, a fringe so-called Christian endtimes group from the ’70s I can sure relate to this concept – because paying attention to Now was something we did not do. We paid attention to the past – anything that happened in the Now of our lives was fodder for so-called emotional healings from the past. And we paid attention to the future – we were always busy preparing for the last days that we were apparently going to be going through. “Sue,” a friend in the group, later said, “We didn’t have a couch to sit on, but we had our year’s supply of Sam Andy dehydrated food!” So, we lacked what was needed for our everyday lives, because of looking ahead to a future that was not necessarily going to be ours. Are we any better than that today? Apparently Path members are not the only people who live in the past and the future, to the neglect of the present. Said French philosopher Blaise Pascal, “Let any man examine his thoughts, he will find them ever occupied with the past or the future. …The present is never our object; the past and the present we use as means; the future only is our end.” And, “We thus wander through the hours which are not here, [indifferent to] …the moment that is actually our own.” So what might this mean, to live in the moment which is our own? I call to mind the recent death of a friend, and my subsequent thoughts that we have only this moment, a particular amount of time in which to be wives or husbands, children or parents, siblings or friends. Suddenly that time is past, and it cannot be retrieved. We cannot redo the relationship once that other person has passed from this life. We only have now in which to read a bedtime story to our children, because tomorrow they may be over-involved in school activities, and not have, or maybe even desire to have, that sweet moment of time to hear our voices caressing their ears in tale, before they drift off to sleep. We have only now to serve our spouse,
perhaps doing those things that might not be our taste or desire naturally, but, instead, we choose to prefer the other over ourselves. So, we garden or wrench or golf or swim as an act of love to the other, in this, the only moment that we have. We have only now to visit our parents, to take time to talk with them on the phone, because too soon we all die and that chance to call is gone. So it is only in this moment that we have the opportunity to live out our relationships with others: to do the good we would do, forgive those we need to forgive, love those we need to love, and pray for those who need our prayers. Even while continuing to live on this earth, we cannot predict the ongoing gift of a healthy body or of mental well-being. My middle brother, Dan, at 51, was seemingly in good health. He watched his cholesterol, got enough exercise, and lived with his wife and two young daughters. But, concerned about an increasing physical weakness in his arms, he went to the doctor. Shockingly, he received a diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s Disease, also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS. If you know anything about this disease you know that it robs the individual of the use of his body, yet leaves the mind intact to watch its debilitation, bear witness to a sapping of strength. Two years later, strength sapped, he continues to work, only because of voice recognition software; his voice is pretty much all that moves of his volition. As much as he enjoyed tennis, hiking and skating, these past-times are only his to recall or to watch others perform, no longer his to do. Barring a miracle of God or science, he will never play tennis or skate with his little girls. That time is past. Jesus said, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” John 9:4 NKJV). Along with Jesus, we must work the works God has prepared for us to do while it is the daytime of our lives, because once this present day, this Now, this moment is over, well, it just is.
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The Faith of a Child By Randy Walter
esus said only people who become like little children will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. What does it mean to have “childlike faith”? What kind of faith does a small child possess? Little children live in the moment. They aren’t good yet at remembering lessons from the past. They often fail to think ahead or anticipate consequences. Everything for them is wrapped up in their present activity. How much faith does that require? For adults, faith usually implies some consideration of the future. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Because little children are innocent, they have a different kind faith. Trusting, loving, believing and forgiving come naturally to them because they don’t worry about what may happen later. They are secure in their world. When introduced to a new environment with other children their own age, they automatically gravitate to one another. They interact without the apprehension adults often bring into social situations, like fears of inadequacy and rejection. Little children are on a default setting to be themselves. They have not yet learned to cater their behavior to the expectations of others. Little children know no fear. There is a difference between wisdom and fear. Wisdom is learned from the instructions of adults and the “owies” that result when they go unheeded. As children grow into wisdom, they plan for good outcomes and consider the needs of others. Fear, on the other hand, is a sense of dread. Being afraid of bees is wisdom. Self-consciousness is apprehension over what might occur. By saying to be like a little child, Jesus was teaching us to live in the moment without fear of the future. He said the same thing in many ways. In His Sermon on the Mount, He taught how to be blessed and be a blessing, the importance of obeying the Law, the benefit of loving one’s enemies, and the proper way to give to others. Then He said, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear,” and went on to describe how anxiety over the future is detrimental and unspiritual. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,” He said. “Seek first the Kingdom of
God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” In other words, if we live in peace, trusting God rather than fretting over what may come, He will supply all our needs. Because they are innocent, this is how little children live. How practical is that for a grown-up? How can someone with adult responsibilities have the faith of a little child? Jesus was not saying to avoid thinking ahead or planning for the future. He taught just the opposite: “Which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it?” Rather, Jesus spoke against what He called “the cares of this world” which become so overwhelming that they draw men away from God. That is why Peter wrote, “Cast all your cares on Him; for He cares for you.” Doing this means exchanging sophistication for lost innocence. It is a high price for people with worldly ambition, but a childlike nature can be restored to anyone who learns to trust God instead of himself. It’s a concept which baffles adults who define themselves by their position and the respect they command from others. That was the case with Nicodemus, a Pharisee who visited Jesus secretly because he was afraid being seen would cost him his influence among the Jewish leaders. Nicodemus came to express support, but was taken off guard when Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again.” “How can a man be born when he is old?” he responded. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus was not talking about physical rebirth but spiritual regeneration – regaining the pure faith of a little child. The term “born again” has taken on almost a cultish connotation among those who don’t understand it. It isn’t a ritual; it is giving up our right to ourselves and surrendering to God so He can restore our innocence. That is how to be like a little child. That, Jesus said, is how we must enter His Kingdom. Randy Walter is Contributing Editor to the Manna.
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Just a Psychological Crutch By Amy Orr-Ewing
remember getting into a cab outside a central London church. The cabbie took one look at my Bible and launched into his opinion of Christianity. He explained to me that belief in God is a crutch for weak, pathetic people who don’t have the strength to take responsibility for their own lives. When I answered, “Thank you very much,” with just a hint of irony, he blustered on with, “Well, I’m just saying it for your own good. A girl like you doesn’t need religion!” This idea that Christian faith is a psychological crutch for needy people is a pervasive one, based on a number of assumptions. The first is that God is merely a psychological projection: he doesn’t actually exist in any real sense, but exists only in the minds of his followers, who have created him out of their own need—a need for a father figure or a need to give significance to their existence. The most famous proponent of this view was the Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). In arguing against the existence of God, Freud theorized that one’s view of God springs from the view one has of one’s father. When people grow up and find themselves thrust into the cruel, cold world, they look for a haven of security and protection from it. An adult can no longer look to parents for this protection, if he or she is to maintain dignity. Yet, Freud mused, we look for another ‘Someone’ to do this job for us and this leads to the idea of a ‘Higher Power’ or God. From this perspective, God is merely a creation of the human mind, a projection emanating from human need and desire rather than a distinct reality. For Freud, God is made in humanity’s own image, the ‘ultimate wish-fulfillment,’ the end product of human desire for a loving father. Can God really be explained away so easily by one aspect of psychology? One obvious point to make is that the argument about projection cuts both ways. After all, isn’t it equally possible to say that Freud and other atheists deny the existence of God out of a need to escape from a father figure, or to argue that the non-existence of God springs from a deep-seated desire for no father figure to exist? Clearly this doesn’t prove that God is real, but it does show that Freud’s arguments cannot prove that God does not exist while at the same time helping us tackle the question of projection. After all, dismissing God as a psychological projection while claiming neutrality in our own psyche is disingenuous as best and cannot be an adequate basis for rejecting God. It also quickly becomes apparent that a Freudian belief in God as a human projection cannot provide us with an explanation for the Christian faith of converts such as C.S. Lewis or Alister McGrath, who would rather not believe but find themselves compelled by the evidence that Christianity is true and real.
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In fact, we may go further by suggesting that a desire for a God who can fulfill our needs and provide moral order exists precisely because human beings have been created to desire him. The man floating on a raft at sea is unbearably thirsty, but he won’t get a drink of water simply by being thirsty. But the very existence of his thirst does show that a way for his desire to be satisfied actually exists: fresh water. As C.S. Lewis put it, “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists.” Ultimately for the Christian the important question is not whether I have a psychological need for a father figure, or a desire for a father figure not to exist. Rather, the question is about what actually exists: Is God really there? The way to come to any conclusions about that is to investigate the evidence for his existence. The second assumption we encounter is that because belief in God provides the faithful with a crutch, this means it is somehow suspect. The skeptic implies that since the believer finds protection from the cruelty of nature and the evil of the world, the idea of God is like a talisman, an irrational superstition. But surely, if belief in God provides a positive moral framework that helps people to live constructively, that is not a reason to disbelieve in him. Similarly, if relationship with God enables to believer to find healing, wholeness, and comfort in the midst of human suffering, we should not be surprised. After all, if God is real, his existence will have a massive impact on life and on the experience of life. It is only if he is not real that we ought to be worried about the ‘crutch’ he provides. Finally, the third assumption is that people who make use of this ‘crutch’ of relationship with God, and find it practical, meaningful, and effective, must be weak or inferior. This is a rather strange idea, since surely it makes sense to access real sources of support and relationship that are there for us. If a God of love does exist, the rational thing to do is accept his love, to come to know him. Entering into that relationship will have a positive effect, and that does not make the person weaker than or somehow inferior to anyone else. On the contrary, it is the logical, reasonable response if God himself is real. Amy Orr-Ewing is curriculum director for the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and training director of RZIM Zacharias Trust in Oxford, England. Just a Psychological Crutch by Amy Orr-Ewing, A Slice of Infinity, No. 2250, orignally printed July 22, 2010 (www. rzim.org). Used by permission of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.
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The Blind Side: John Lee Hancock While 24-year-old Michael Oher is now enjoying success in the NFL and making millions as an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens, it wasn’t so long ago that his personal situation looked dramatically different. In fact, to call it bleak would be an understatement. As a homeless kid on the rough streets of Memphis, his life wasn’t just going nowhere―it was already there. But then Michael meets the Tuohy family, and everything changes. What is most inspiring about this story is that Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy see a need and meet it―simple as that. Although, the situation is anything but simple. The size of the need is great and indeed comes with risks, but that doesn’t stop them from welcoming a troubled stranger into their home and ultimately becoming his legal guardians. It’s especially moving to see the relationship between Leigh Anne and Michael and how fierce an advocate and protector she truly is. Her love for him shines through in all she does. Being rescued out of hopelessness, and then cleaned up, provided for, set on a new path, and given another chance at life? Certainly sounds familiar.
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The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever: Dr. Elmer Towns and Dr. Douglas Porter People who tire of hearing about “revival” are usually thinking of meetings, not a movement. Entire cultures are transformed when God’s Spirit does something beyond the ordinary. Some revivals have spread around the world. Which are the most powerful revivals of all time? Certainly the Protestant Reformation, and the First and Second Great Awakenings. What others? In The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Drs. Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter carefully document famous and lesser-known movements of God’s Spirit, describing the conditions which reveal God’s love and forgiveness on a mass scale and the ways in which they are demonstrated. This is not a formula for prompting God to “do it again.” It reports what God has done, often when the world was most desperate yet seemed least open to Him. These accounts feed hope and activate prayer – the common denominator in all great revivals. The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever shows that many parts of the world have heard the Gospel and experienced God’s presence. It helps the reader understand to what extent The Great
Commission – making disciples of all nations – has already been accomplished. It is a stirring resource for people who believe prayer changes things.
about what he wrote and why his songs and sentiments have remained. Hank wrote terse American poems and laid them on top of what became the standard for country music. It’s interesting that his music has stood for 60 years and it’s surprising how transient the lyrics really are. Hank wrote for the moment about things people have felt forever. That’s the tension in his music. Saturday night tugs on Sunday morning’s dawn. The excitement of a new love turning sour followed by redemption songs. You hear the struggle of wanting to do the right thing, but failing again. All crystalized in the moment it took to record the song. Those moments are well represented here and it’s easy to see why he is so important to American music – then and now. These reviews are provided by Maranatha, Inc. staff and contributing writers.
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The Complete Hank Williams: Hank Williams I’m pretty sure Hank Williams said it best – no matter what it was. The Complete Hank Williams’ 10 disc set catches it all. You can’t be profound by setting out to be profound. There is an air of self-importance that hangs like cheap cologne over the work of someone who sets out to be the greatest. That’s something missing from Hank. That’s what’s so appealing
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Learning the Djembe By B.A. Timmons
bout 15 years ago, a young man in our local church body returned from a summer mission trip with a djembe, an African drum held between the knees, producing different tones depending on how you hit the head. He played the drum softly, accompanying certain songs during worship. Very cool, I thought to myself. I had studied percussion for two brief years while in the 5th and 6th grades. When my family moved out of state the next year, I speculated that the adjustment to the new school would take my full attention, and I elected not to continue. It was one of those decisions I would regret. I had also discontinued the study of the saxophone after a month of study in the 4th grade, an equally poor decision. That was the extent of my music training, ending 37 years ago. It was with these lingering regrets that at some point in the past year I decided that the djembe may be my ticket to re-entering musical training in middle age. It seemed as though it would be relatively easy to learn some rhythms and have fun with it. I began to do some research as to what I needed to get. When my wife and kids
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pooled their money and gave me a card at Christmas which read “for a djembe,” there was no turning back. One day while searching the Internet, I stumbled onto the site of a young man from Singapore who, among other things, has put together videos teaching the use of the djembe to accompany small group worship. His sweet spirit immediately gripped my attention, and I determined to follow his course of instruction. Shawn does not play the djembe in the traditional way. Instead, he plays it using methods that a drummer would use to play a traditional set of drums. The rhythms are mostly built on 1/16th notes. This style, while not authentic to the djembe, suited my history with percussion and my musical tastes well. I found the rhythms familiar and pleasant to my ear. The depth of Shawn’s instruction made learning the rhythms a possibility even for this old dog, as long as I practiced. I was especially pleased when I mastered a particularly difficult pattern. Then he presented one that brought my progression to a halt. Not only was it difficult to get my hands to just play the beat, but the speed at which Shawn played
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it made my head spin. I would play it over and over, night after night. The progress was painfully slow. While looking at some of the comments from users of Shawn’s site, I found the question, “How long does it take to master all of these beats?” Shawn replied, “A few months to a year, with regular practice.” He added the comment, “it’s just muscle memory.” Muscle memory is a term for the process by which we learn certain skills by repetition. Any musician or athlete is familiar with the process. It starts with consciously working through a task, in this case, playing a rhythm on a drum. At first it must be performed very slowly and, in my case, with the aid of written music. With each practice session, an attempt is made to increase the speed, many mistakes accompanying the effort. Eventually, I found that I was playing the beats much faster than I could read the music. Then gradually, you find yourself playing the rhythm without consciously thinking about the progression of the beat. It just begins to flow out. The reason is that the brain has committed the beat to memory somewhere in its recesses. At that point, the playing becomes almost effortless, and you can begin to focus on other things, such as nuances in the beat, or perhaps other music being played around you. Eventually you learn to accompany, or so I hope. Muscle memory is an amazing thing to me. It is that same process that allows us to type, to ride a bike, or drive a car without much thought. The process is the same as “wax on… wax off” from Karate Kid (the original). Mr. Miyagi does muscle training with the unsuspecting Daniel by having him wax cars. By the end of the task, Daniel is well on his way to respond-
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ing to punches without putting much thought into it. The thing that is most intriguing is how it seems to resemble the flow of the life of Christ through us. When we begin our walk with the Lord, we follow certain steps. We learn the basics and attempt to implement what we learn. This process is difficult. We make many mistakes. Our hands do not do what our mind tells them to do. Our mouth does not speak that which we know it should. Our mind does not think the way we desire for it to think. This is all very frustrating and full of our own effort. But it is the path we all take. At some point, we become frustrated with this approach. It is after this frustration that the door is open for a change to take place. Perhaps not all at once, but at certain times, we find that our hands do what we desire for them to do. Our voice speaks that which we know it should speak. Our mind thinks on those things it should think. However, it does not come out of a great effort on our part; rather it comes from another source. It comes from the indwelling Christ. At that point, it just flows out, just as those drum rhythms flow. It is vital to understand the change which must take place. We are not talking about practicing the “Christian life” until it becomes second nature. This isn’t a diligence to keep at it until we finally become master over our own flesh by training and repetition. But there is one thing that must be repeated over and over. That one thing is a constant reminding that I am totally dependent on the Lord to live any semblance of a godly life. No amount of practice will train my flesh to live godly. Instead, my life must be replaced by His life. John 1:14 says “And the Word became flesh.” John spoke that of Christ. He was the embodiment of the written Word of God. He walked perfectly in the ways of God while here on Earth in bodily form. It only follows that as we allow Christ to live in us, in our bodily form, the fruit of that will be, at least in part, men and women living according to that same Word of God. I don’t know where my djembe playing will lead. But I do know this. After getting through the early stages, and as my hands begin to do things they couldn’t before, I almost become a spectator to the music, and think to myself, “I can’t believe I once found this so difficult.”
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On the Air By Joanne Brokaw
teven Curtis Chapman, along with his entire family, will hit the road this fall for “A Night with the Chapmans.” The event is hosted by Show Hope and will feature Steven Curtis singing his most memorable hits along with a time for audience requests. MaryBeth will speak in promotion for her new book, Choosing To See, and sons Caleb and Will Franklin will perform with their band, Caleb. The special family affair kicks off September 10 in Lancaster, PA and will hit 34 cities before ending on November 21 in Baltimore, MD. For a list of complete tour dates, visit www.StevenCurtisChapman. com. David Crowder Band will present the first ever “Crowder’s Fantastical Church Music Conference” this fall, with a line up that includes Louie Giglio, Rob Bell, Matt Redman, Francis Chan, Matt Maher, Jars of Clay, Leeland, Gungor and Derek Webb. The event will take place September 30 through October 2 in Crowder’s hometown of Waco, TX. According to the event website, “The Church Music Conference is intended to expand these efforts and afford us the opportunity to collectively participate in these conversations with other church music practitioners, thinkers and artists, as well as provide exposure to the life and practice of music in our respective communities of faith.” To purchase tickets or for more information, visit www. davidcrowderband.com/fantastical/. Singer/songwriter/author Andrew Peterson was honored recently with a 2010 Christy Award for his third children’s book, North! Or Be Eaten, the second in his series The Wingfeather Saga. The Christy Awards were established in 1999 in order to recognize and promote fiction of exceptional quality and impact written from a Christian worldview. Peterson recently released his latest music project, Counting Stars. Casting Crowns releases a new CD/
DVD, Until the Whole World Hears LIVE, giving fans a front-row seat to the band’s powerhouse 2009/2010 “Until the Whole World Hears” national concert tour. The project was recorded at Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC this past April, with additional footage recorded at North Charleston Coliseum, North Charleston, SC and at Von Braun Center, Huntsville, AL. The live two-disc set includes the hits “If We’ve Ever Needed You,” “Glorious Day,” and the No. 1 hit single “Until the Whole World Hears.” In addition to concert footage and a peek behind the scenes, fans will get five devotional-styled video lessons led by Mark Hall, giving viewers a deeper look at the biblical studies and personal stories that have inspired the band’s messagedriven songs for the family. The CD/DVD package is available August 31. Grammy-nominated artist Jeremy Camp releases his sixth studio album, We Cry Out: The Worship Project, on August 24th. Fans can pre-order for the regular or deluxe edition of the album at iTunes.com. The deluxe edition digital pre-order includes the album delivered on August 24th, an automatic download of the single “Jesus Saves,” five additional songs and two videos with bonus content. For more Christian music news, visit Joanne’s Gospel Soundcheck blog at Beliefnet.com www.blog.beliefnet.com/ gospelsoundcheck
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