Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bethany Bullet - June 11, 2014

I have been a Disney fan most of my life.  I have a few fleeting images in my brain of my first trip to Disneyland when I was only two.  It was not the happiest place on earth for me.  I can remember being terrified of Mickey Mouse and can recall the fear of riding The Pirates of the Caribbean. My father tells the story that I screamed all the way through the ride because I thought it was all so real. 

Fast forward a few years and I remember being at Disneyland again, riding on The Pirates of the Caribbean, sitting in the boat and trying to explain to my dad how all of the effects worked.  I was so impressed with myself that I figured out how the cannonballs made a splash in the harbor and how the town could burn without burning up.  After a while my dad had had enough of my explanations and told me to sit back and enjoy the ride. 

It has been said that in order to fully enjoy a good work of fiction, be it on the page or on the silver screen, you have to have a willing suspension of disbelief. 

Suspension of disbelief or the willing suspension of disbelief is a term coined in 1817 by the poet and literary critic Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who suggested that if a writer could infuse "human interest and a semblance of truth" into a fantastic tale, the reader would suspend judgment concerning the implausibility of the narrative. 

In my own wisdom, I thought that figuring out how Disney made their magic was more important than experiencing the amazing effects of the show and immersing myself into the experience. 

I think, in some ways, this is what happened on that first Pentecost. 
 “When Pentecost, the fiftieth day after Passover, came, all the believers were together in one place. Suddenly, a sound like a violently blowing wind came from the sky and filled the whole house where they were staying. Tongues that looked like fire appeared to them. The tongues arranged themselves so that one came to rest on each believer. All the believers were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them the ability to speak.Devout Jewish men from every nation were living in Jerusalem. They gathered when they heard the wind. Each person was startled to recognize his own dialect when the disciples spoke.Stunned and amazed, the people in the crowd said, “All of these men who are speaking are Galileans. Why do we hear them speaking in our native dialects? 12 All of these devout men were stunned and puzzled. They asked each other, “What can this mean?” 13 Others said jokingly, “They’re drunk on sweet wine.”” (Acts 2:1-8, 12-13)

But this is NO fiction!  When the Galileans began speaking in other known languages the Jews sought to explain away what they saw, they tried to suspend their disbelief.  Since the Galileans were not known as scholars, and were in fact not even the best educated and were using words beyond their own language, the Jews assumed those individuals must be drunk.

You see, despite the fact that they saw a visual manifestation of the Spirit, and an audible miracle from the Most High; they still sought to explain away what their eyes and ears testified to.
They did the same thing to Christ when He performed miracles. Back then they said He was healing by the power of Satan; once again seeking to explain away the power that their eyes and ears received.

Luke, the writer of the book of Acts, describes the reaction of the people - they were “startled”, “stunned”, “amazed”, and “puzzled”.  Literally, Luke says that the people were put out of place and out of their senses by the events in Acts 2.  They stood in wide opened astonishment and continuing wonder. This sight and sound caused them to regard with amazement and marvel at what took place. 

While some paused to question, others were quick with explanation.

Those gathered in Jerusalem that day came face to face with the almighty God.  They were astonished at the events transpiring there and they were stunned by what they heard.  In the face of overwhelming evidence, many suspended belief and explained the situation away, “These guys are just drunk.”

It is the suspension of belief that has gotten humanity into trouble.  Instead of taking pause, perhaps asking “What does this mean?”, or just standing in amazement at what God has done, we are quick to explain away the things in life that startle us, or amaze us, or leave us puzzled.

I tell you a story written in my father’s words from almost 40 years ago:
This is the story of Joshua Andrew Moorman.  He was born on the morning of July 29, 1975.  He was 9 weeks premature, weighed two and one half pounds and was a little over thirteen inches long.  The pregnancy was hard and filled with complications.  The fact that he was born alive was a miracle.

I baptized him about two hours after he was born.  He was in an isolette and was being given pure oxygen.  We didn't have a name for him at that time, but I was sure God knew who he was.  Let me give you an idea of how small he was.  His head was about the size of a tangerine, his arms were about the size of an average index finger, his fingers were the size of matchsticks, and his body from neck to waist was smaller than the size of an average hand.  Shortly after I baptized him he was flown to Phoenix and placed in the infant intensive care unit of St. Joseph's Hospital. 

From Tuesday, the day of his birth until Friday things looked very good.  Friday afternoon I came back to Cottonwood but at 9:55 p.m. the hospital called us and told us that Joshua was dying.  He had some trouble breathing and his heart and lungs had stopped but they were able to revive him.  By this time we had named him.  We named him Joshua because it means "God saves" in Hebrew and we knew that if he was to live, it would be because God had saved him.  Marlette and I threw a few things in the car and rushed to Phoenix. We got there around midnight. The doctor told us the blood vessels in his brain were hemorrhaging due to a condition called acidosis of the blood.  There was nothing that could be done.  He said that Joshua would slowly deteriorate through the night and would die sometime on Sat.  Around 1:00 a.m. we left the hospital to stay with some friends and prepare for the death of our son.

Early Sat. morning we went back to the hospital. Joshua still had the respirator taped to his nose, and still had people hovering over him, but we knew something strange was happening; he had actually improved through the night!  The doctor couldn't explain what was happening.  Joshua had actually improved to the point that he was trying to jerk the respirator hose out of his nose.  The doctor said that perhaps Josh had only suffered minor bleeding and would not be fatal but would certainly cause brain damage. Saturday morning they took so many blood samples they had to give him a transfusion.  In the afternoon they did a spinal tap.  They X-rayed him several times.  The doctors told us that they would know definitely what the situation was when they got all the lab tests back on Monday.  By Sunday afternoon we were told that Joshua might have a slim chance of surviving.  On Monday all the tests came back and they were all negative!  There was no trace of any problem.  Why had his heart and lungs stopped on Friday? Where was the brain damage? Nobody knew.  Why did he live?  Nobody knew.  Why didn't the tests show what happened?  Nobody knew.  The doctors were baffled. They frankly told us that if Joshua lived, nobody would ever know what had happened or why he lived.

On September 15 Joshua finally came home.  He weighed four pounds three ounces.  All during the dark hours when it seemed for certain that he would die many people were praying.  I know what happened in that intensive care unit in Phoenix.  God performed a healing miracle.  Our son was as good as dead, but God intervened and saved him. The doctor who delivered Joshua said, "The chance of a baby that size surviving is small--maybe one or two out of 100."

Because of a miracle of God those odds were beaten.  He is our little miracle.

In our rush for understanding and our thirst to know it all we have lost the sense of the amazing and wonder at what God can do and continues to do in life, and in so doing we miss the message.  On that first Pentecost something startling happened.  The amazing took place, but it all pointed to another amazing event that took place about 50 days prior.  Peter’s words are recorded a bit later in Acts 2, “Jesus from Nazareth was a man whom God brought to your attention. You know that through this man God worked miracles, did amazing things, and gave signs. But God brought him from death back to life and destroyed the pains of death, because death had no power to hold him.  God brought this man Jesus back to life…God used his power to give Jesus the highest position. Jesus has also received and has poured out the Holy Spirit as the Father had promised, and this is what you’re seeing and hearing.” (Acts 2:22, 24. 32a, 33)
  • How often have you been startled by the message of Jesus?  
  • When was the last time you were amazed by what Jesus has done?  
  • Do you still marvel at the Gospel message?  
  • Have you had times of suspended belief?

At times we don’t have the answer to all the questions.  We are not expected to explain everything found in scripture but we must proclaim the truth that the God of the universe came to earth in human form; that the child Jesus grew in stature and in wisdom.  Jesus the Messiah proclaimed a message of life.  He lived a perfect life and was suspended on a cross so that you might believeBecause He was suspended, death was defeated and eternal life has been granted.  In Jesus our disbelief has been suspended.  That is amazing!!  And that is the message of Pentecost.

Perhaps it’s time once again to marvel at what God is doing, to experience how the Holy Spirit is moving.  So on this day of Pentecost, we can be startled once again, stunned what who Jesus is and amazed at His love, and through Him, suspend our disbelief and put our trust in the one who was suspended for us, Jesus the Messiah.

Let us pray… 

-Pastor Seth Moorman


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