Back to the Beginning

Random Ramblings from the Resident Raptor
Insight from the Journey across the Sky

This is the beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “I am sending my messenger ahead of you to prepare the way for you.” “A voice cries out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way for the Lord! Make his paths straight!’” John the Baptizer was in the desert telling people about a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. All Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went to him. As they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. John was dressed in clothes made from camel’s hair. He wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. Mark 1:1-6Open Link in New Window (GW)

Let’s start at the very beginning
A very good place to start
When you read you begin with
When you sing you begin with do-re-mi
The first three notes just happen to be

So goes the famous song from The Sound of Music.

Everything has a beginning, a starting place. As it is in education, so it is with life. When it comes to learning every child learns to read by learning their ABC’s and they learn math by counting 123. Easy lessons become harder as we build precept upon precept, line upon line until we come to an understanding of complex sentences and mathematical equations. Not too many children are able to handle trigonometry in kindergarten.

Being a student of music I too had to learn at the beginning. The Do Re Mi’s of musical theory and construction. Learning the basics made the complex easier to understand and tackle. Had I started out with an Etude by Chopin I may have given up before I even got started, although Chopin penned the first of these while still in his teens.

Knowing at what level a child is able to perform helps a teacher set forth a lesson plan suitable for each child. Some students can handle more complex principles earlier than others. But nonetheless each must learn to apply the basics if they wish to grow in their mastery of any instrument.

Music instruction includes elements of both reading and mathematics. Numbers and language are involved in a thorough knowledge of music and composition. So a student who does not read well or has trouble counting will probably struggle in music instruction.

A disregard for the basics makes progression in any subject difficult if not impossible. Failure to learn the most basic concepts makes complex formulas and equations almost impossible to comprehend.

And yet many disregard the basic tenets in leading a successful life. It would appear from our education system that life lessons are not high on the list of things to learn while growing up. Somehow I think we feel that life lessons will come magically and do not need to be learned or taught. Many subscribe to the trial and error method of living life, and for the most part they err more than they succeed, and life is a series of trials and tribulations.

Does it have to be this way? Must we live life by happenstance? Are there any basics to learn as we grow up? Are there certain building blocks for life application? Is there an instruction manual one can read to learn how to live a successful life?

Many books have been written on how to achieve success, and motivational speakers abound teaching principles of high achievement. Most of these hucksters of the success gospel wear fancy clothes and offer to sell you books, tapes or program guides that are supposed to make you rich and successful. You would not expect to find the answer to life’s challenges coming dressed like a homeless person would you? And yet that is exactly where we need to look if we wish to find the true answer to life’s biggest question. How now ought we to live?

John the Baptizer was in the desert telling people about a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Mark 1:4Open Link in New Window (GW)

John’s message was a life changing message and many flocked to hear him speak. Now he was not telling them how positive thinking was going to help them achieve. he did not tell them how to think and grow rich, and he was not promoting any special internet get rich money making scheme, he simply came preaching repentance.

All Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went to him. As they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.Mark 1:5Open Link in New Window (GW)

Church growth specialists and success gurus tell us that pointing out the faults of others is a surefire way to kill the church and yet John was doing just that and people were flocking to hear him and be baptized by him. Perhaps these people knew something we have forgotten today, the way up is to get down on our knees and repent. Ask for help, not thinking we can do all things if we just recite the right mantra or read the right books or attend enough seminars. These people must have tried all these self-help hints and found them wanting. In any case they came in large numbers to repent and be baptized.

John was dressed in clothes made from camel’s hair. He wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. Mark 1:6Open Link in New Window (GW)

John did not come dressed like a slick assurance salesmen, in fact he wore camel hair and ate locust and honey and probably was not the neatest kept as far as his appearance was concerned. He certainly would not be invited on the success sales circuit, nor perhaps would he be invited to speak at most churches today. Probably if John were to preach his message of repentance today looking like he did he would probably be admitted for psychiatric care.

But this is were the learning begins. This is the first step in learning to live a life worthy of heaven. This is the foundation to a faith in God. This is the starting point of our salvation from the ravishes of sin and death. Yet many want to skip this step and go directly to heaven without first repenting of their sinful natures. They wish to keep on living like they have been living and doing the same things they have been doing and still expect a warm welcome into the Kingdom of God. Just like you can not learn to read without learning your ABC’s neither can you enter the kingdom of heaven without first learning the importance of repentance and baptism for the remission of sins.

In the desserts of Judea the Gospel began and, just like John, many are going forth today proclaiming that same message of old. REPENT, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand! That is where we all must start for that is where the Gospel of Christ begins, at the intersection of repentance and forgiveness. Where a sinner meets God, Jesus stands as the intercessor. Those who proclaim the Gospel of Christ through a message of repentance from sins may not be the most  charming folks you may ever meet but they are the most important people you will ever encounter. For Jesus spoke of John in this manner:

Foundations of the Faith: What Christians Believe Dvd!

Luke 7:24-28Open Link in New Window (GW) When John’s messengers had left, Jesus spoke to the crowds about John. “What did you go into the desert to see? Tall grass swaying in the wind? Really, what did you go to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? Those who wear splendid clothes and live in luxury are in royal palaces. Really, what did you go to see? A prophet? Let me tell you that he is far more than a prophet. John is the one about whom Scripture says, ‘I am sending my messenger ahead of you to prepare the way in front of you.’ I can guarantee that of all the people everborn, no one is greater than John. Yet, the least important person in the kingdom of God is greater than John.

So there you have it. It is as simple as ABC. Admit that you are a sinner, Believe that Jesus came to save you from your sins, Confess your faults to God and He will forgive you of your sins and grant to you eternal life. ABC, 123, Do Re Mi. It really is all elementary.

But those who are waiting for the Lord will have new strength; they will get wings like eagles: running, they will not be tired, and walking, they will have no weariness. Isaiah 40:31Open Link in New Window (BBE)

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, Revised and Expanded Edition

This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession

One thought on “Back to the Beginning

  1. Great point on starting where John did, repentance. Only I would also add what both John, Jesus and the apostles added with repentance, i.e. baptism, Acts 2:38.

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