English teachers in our midst, please forgive my ungrammatical title. My prompt for today was to share my personal experience with the Gospel, or more precisely, the Good News. As I considered it, I felt the word Good in Good News fell immeasurably short of what the Good News, the Gospel, means to me. And the most superlative of superlative words falls short. So I’ll stick with Goodest!!

As a boy I attended a Lutheran church with my mom. It was cold. The services had two parts. We did responsive readings followed by a plethora of hymns. We sang every verse of every hymn. The more the merrier. Jesus may have been there, but I sure couldn’t see Him. 

In high school, I attended a Baptist church. It was a lot friendlier, but the truth is, I still didn’t find Jesus there. I thought He was on vacation. I seldom heard scripture from the pulpit. And then, in the Spring of my senior year, a Christian singing group from Illinois, (ironically) The Good News Circle, spent a week at my church, giving concerts and altar calls every night. Hundreds came forward. And I saw something brand new for me. The Good News Circle was on fire. I’m not sure they even realized their impact. But they weren’t alone. Jesus stood there on stage with them. I saw Him in each one of them. It reminds me of one of my favorite Bible stories: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up.” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Daniel 3:24-25


I went from “almost” Christian to Youth Pastor in a matter of months. I took 42 kids from our youth group to a Summer Evangelism Camp led by the Good News Circle. All 42 of our young people went forward, and as I drove the bus back from Wisconsin, our bus was filled with 42 budding Apostle Pauls and Paulines. What followed was 50 plus years with me and Jesus together. I was never alone. Every moment of every day.

So what happened? The answer can be summed up in some of my favorite passages.

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13


They took note that these men had been with Jesus!!  Wowsers!! I could definitely say that about the Good News Circle, and I pray that you might say that about me. Paul says it the goodest!!

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17


For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21


I’d love to tell you that my life since then has been all milk and honey. Not exactly; I spent 21 beyond difficult years caring for my son with schizophrenia until he passed away swiftly and unexpectedly in 2012. Before I could even take a breath, I became my mother’s caregiver, only to see her pass away as swiftly two years later as unexpectedly as my son. Now I live with my daughter, who has a life-threatening version of Crohn’s Disease and mental health issues that are an outgrowth of the loss of her brother and grandmother. I have severe macular generation in one eye, poor hearing, only ten bad teeth, hips that make walking beyond painful, and skin that itches all day everyday. And guess what? None of that matters. Because the Good News of Jesus trumps everything. Jesus offered me this,

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39

and it sustains me through everything

I call that the Goodest News!!


by Bruce Hanson


Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.