“‘Shine on,’ Jesus said.”
MAY 17, 2023
“Shine on”, Jesus said. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
Key Life is a radio program for struggling believers, sick of phony religion and pious clichés. Our host and teacher is seminary professor Steve Brown. He teaches that radical freedom leads to infectious joy and surprising faithfulness.
Thank you Matthew. If you’re just joining us, you know that we’re spending time in a book I wrote. It’s not a great book, but it’s an honest book. And just so you know, I’m not hustling books. I don’t get anything for these books, any profit. And because my books are mostly not bestsellers, I’ve had a couple of those, not a lot of prophet goes to Key Life for it. But at any rate, I take some time whenever I publish a book to spend some time on those themes. And this book is Laughter and Lament: The Radical Freedom of Joy and Sorrow. And we’ve been spending a number of weeks looking at some of the themes in this book. I got an e-mail from a friend not so long ago who had gotten my book and he said, Steve, I’ve started your book and I don’t think I’m going to read anymore, this is the darkest thing I have ever read. And I wrote him back and said, stick with it cause it gets better as you go along. You’ve got to see the dark in order to find a light. You’ve got to die in order to be resurrected. You’ve got to walk in the hard places to get to the better places. It’s just the nature of things. We live in a culture that says you can get the light, you can get the good places, you can get the joy without any of the darkness and the pain. Listen to me, they’re lying to you. When college campuses create safe places. No, I’m not gonna say what I was going to say cause then I’d be taken off the air. But there aren’t any safe places, all right? We live in a fallen world and it’s hard and it’s difficult. And if you don’t look that in the face and deal with it, you never get to the laughter and the joy and the freedom that comes with looking at the face of the darkness. Well, we spent a lot of weeks in this book and some of it has been dark. I think if I, if this book goes into any other printings, I’m going to change some of these chapter titles. Life is hard and then you die, life is hard, and then you get angry, life is hard and then you repent. What’s that about? That’s looking in the face of darkness. But now, we’re getting to the last two chapters of the book, and this is all good news. John 17:22 says.
The glory that you have given to me, I have given to them.
That’s from the chapter Called to Shine. In other words, Jesus says, just shine. Shine and see what happens. You may not know the name, but my friend John DeBrine was maybe the best Bible teacher I’ve ever heard. I used to tell my students that he was the best Bible teacher in America when he was on, and they would ask me who was the second best Bible teacher? And I would say John DeBrine when he is off. When I wrote this book, it was with a degree of sadness because John died just a week before I sent the manuscript to the publisher. And I miss him a lot. He lived on Cape Cod and we talked often and on the phone and sometimes would meet together. And I talked to him two or three days before he died. John was in his nineties, was a pioneer of Christian broadcasting and for years was the pastor of Ruggles Street Baptist Church in Boston. Over a whole lot of years, John taught me so very much. He chose to be my friend years ago when I was a young pastor and even asked me to speak at the church when I was so liberal theologically that nobody else would. He taught me about Christian boldness, Biblical authority, politics in the church. He taught me about the importance of humor. He was a lifelong bachelor and he shared with me a love for German Shepherds. In fact, he got his first German Shepherd by meeting our German Shepherd and falling in love with that German Shepherd. And he was a bachelor, as I said. And he would often say to people who tried to get him married, and there were a lot of them who did. He would say to them, when I come home each evening, my shepherd will meet me at the door and wag her tail. Then he would ask, does your wife do that? There’s a sense, in which the idea of this book on Laughter and Lament was inspired by John DeBrine. One of the most important lessons he taught was the glory of suffering. He once said that every time an unbeliever got cancer, a Christian got cancer, so the world would know the difference. I believe that’s true. It applies to all of the dark places where Christians walk. When an unbeliever loses his or her job, is demeaned, loses a child, goes through a divorce, suffers or fails, the same thing happens to a Christian, so that the world will see the difference. It is the sanctification of lament. Believe it or not, our darkness is the place of our own glorification, in the same way the Cross was the place of Jesus’ glorification. Now, I’m about out of time, so we’ll have to talk more about this tomorrow. But the truth is, don’t waste your sin. Don’t waste your laughter. And don’t waste your pain. Those are the places where we shine. You think about that. Amen.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I need that reminder to shine. So, thank you Steve. More Biblical truths from Steve’s book, Laughter and Lament tomorrow. Make sure you join us then. Well, you just heard Steve talk about the darkness, and I don’t think I need to make the case that it is all around us, hatred, division, immorality, despair. So, what is a believer to do? Well, Steve spoke about this and a sermon called We Will Be Restored. Take a listen to part of that talk, then I’ll be back to tell you about a special free offer. Here’s Steve.
I don’t know if you read, but the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Greatest Show on Earth is closing. That’s sad. When I was growing up, every year we went to the circus and I, and everybody else I knew dreamed of running away with the circus. Years later, I became a pastor and it’s the same thing. And years later, because I had some friends that I loved a lot. She was a trapeze artist in a traveling circus, and he managed all of the animals in this circus. She was a Christian and he wasn’t, and I talked to him a long time as they traveled all over the country telling him about Jesus and God’s grace. And finally he, like a child came running and that meant that they were going to get married. And they asked if I would perform the ceremony when the circus got close to where my church was. And oh man, what an opportunity. I said, of course. The next day I got a call from a member of the band, a guy who wanted to know the color of the bridesmaids dresses so his would match. And I thought this is going to be different. And I remember standing in the center and they had a processional and a recessional on an elephant. Those are big mothers. And when you’re standing in the center ring of a circus and an elephant’s coming at you, you are praying, Lord, I didn’t sign on for this, this isn’t what I meant. But they were married and they were happy. I learned a lot that day and one of the main things I learned is what happens when the lights are turned down and the music stops. You know those women who are so beautiful with the dresses that sparkle. And you know the men who are so young and handsome in the circus, when the lights are turned down and the music stops, the women aren’t beautiful, they’re just tired. And the men aren’t handsome, they’re living in despair, trying to earn enough to keep body and soul together. The Greatest Show on Earth is not the greatest show on Earth. There’s a sense in which we, in which we’re kind of in a circus, aren’t we? The band plays, the music is loud, the women are beautiful, the guys are hot, and the promises proceed over and over again. But then somebody turns the lights down and we are not refreshed. The promises don’t deliver. We’ve heard the crying in the night. We’ve seen the abuse and the emptiness and the despair and the sin and the darkness. It would, it would overwhelm a Christian if it weren’t for I John, the third chapter.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the Children of God.
What a timely word. Hey, let us send you this full sermon on CD, for free. Call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that CD. Or to mail your request, go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses. Just ask for your free copy of the CD called we Will Be Restored. Oh, and one last thing before you go. Would you partner in the work of Key Life through your giving? It’s pretty easy to do. You can just charge a gift on your credit card or you could include a gift in your envelope. Or just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Text that to 28950 and then follow the instructions. And hey, if you can’t give, don’t worry about that, but please do pray for us. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And as always, we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.