A Note From Chris- February 9, 2023

Have you seen the news lately?
I know, it can be a painful process to absorb the daily stories that many times paint things in a negative light or tell you bad news you didn’t know and frankly didn’t want to know. Sometimes, news outlets seem so biased on their reporting that they are not only trying to tell you what happened, but also what to think. And yet other times, the news can provide some helpful highlights of what is happening in our region or around the world to help keep us informed. It takes a good bit of work to sift through the onslaught of information to find what is truly useful.
Years ago, I was challenged by a more seasoned leader to stay up to date with the major headlines to not lose touch with the culture around me. Knowing what is happening and how others are thinking is critical to living in a world in desperate need of a Savior. How could I communicate accurately and relevantly if I am out of touch with the things on the front edge of the headlines? Today, I want to point out three recent “happenings” to you with some perspective toward the gospel.
#1 – Tyre Nichols killed by 5 Black Memphis Police Officers
So much could be and has been said here. Does our nation have some police brutality, some unruly citizens, some real racial issues, some false narratives about racial issues, and an overall confused appreciation for human life? I’m most certain the answer is ‘yes’ to all of these. Do you know what solves the hundreds-year-old deeply rooted racial issues and systemic troubles we face in this country? Not politics. Only Jesus. Hearts must change before any action really makes a lasting difference. I’m praying for the Nichols family as well as those officers and their families. None of them will ever be the same again.
#2 - Sam Smith and Kim Petras Perform ‘Unholy’ at the Grammys
Last week, the Grammy Awards were hosted. Many of the usual suspects (i.e. Beyonce) were honored. One of the performances however has caught the public eye in a unique way. Singers Sam Smith and Kim Petra have a top hit called, ‘Unholy’ that was performed live, complete with a full Satanic devil costume, fire blazing, and Petras locked in some sort of cell. Some news outlets describe the supporting dancers as demons. Christian news outlets have gone berserk, while personalities like Madonna (who introduced the song) celebrate pressing the envelope as cutting edge and necessary in modern culture. Another layer here is that both artists are transgender, celebrating sexual gender fluidity.
I don’t recommend you watch the performance or look up the song. Nothing really redemptive there. Nor am I just taking shots at Smith and Petras. What I am pointing out is that our culture continues to move further and further from Biblical truth while deep down longing more and more for the things of Jesus.
Interestingly, despite incredible fame and success due to the song ‘Unholy,’ Smith has another song called, ‘Pray.’ Smith doesn’t believe in God, mind you. But something in him knows he’s missing something. Here are some sample lyrics:
“I have never believed in You, no / But I’m gonna pray /. . . I am still your disciple. / I’m begging You, please. / I’m broken, alone and afraid. / I’m not a saint / I’m more of a sinner / Maybe I’ll pray / Pray for a glimmer of hope.”
Instead of spending much time bashing culture (turn off the tv when its obscene? Yes. Start a boycott against NBC? Not so sure), let’s speak into the sliver of hope that is in every heart living without the saving knowledge of Jesus. We still carry the greatest truth the world has ever known, even if they are actively rejecting it. It’s still true.
#3 – ‘He Gets Us’ at the Superbowl
On a positive front, the movement He Gets Us has purchased two commercial ads during the Superbowl. The intent is to get people thinking about Jesus and how they have something missing without him. If you watch the game, look for these commercials Sunday and say a prayer that God may use a short spot on tv to open hearts to his incredible grace.
See you Sunday!

Yours and His,
Chris VandeLinde

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