Wednesday, June 30, 2010

identity theft

It's a devilish trick to say, “put off, put off, put off,” when you really don't know who you are. You think that you're a duality, both good and bad. You're being told to put off something that you've been taught is one of your natures. You're not settled yet in who your nature really is. You still think you are two. And you get frustrated and think, “Why tell me to put off something that is natural for me to do? I've had this habit for years. Why tell me to put it off, if it's my nature?” So you get mad at God. You think He is telling yo to suppress part of your true self. It's all because you don't know yet who you truly are.

You only have one nature. It's natural for you to put off sin, because sin is not your nature. You are already dead to it.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page 94

<idle musing>
Why do we allow the enemy to steal our identity? Well, he can't really, but we allow him to lie to us, which amounts to the same thing. We don't really believe we are what (and who) God says we are.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Is it real?

In the realm of appearances, there is constant evidence of good and evil, both outside and inside us. If we judge by appearances, we arrive at the logical conclusion that we are both good and bad. That looksentirely valid. Christians have believed this for centuries. Except for a small minority who have come to know their true identity in Christ, the whole Christian world accepts the lie. Unfortunately, although something may not be true above the line [in the eternal realm], if below the line [in the temporal realm] we think it is true, it still controls us.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page 90

<idle musing>
The same story as it has always been, we walk by faith and not by sight. But, if we believe sight, then faith goes out the window.
</idle musing>

That fourth day in July is approaching

And civil religion is about to take over the U.S. But, before you allow it to rule you, as well, consider ths:

It isn’t government which gives or guarantees freedom at all. And it’s idolatry to think otherwise. Jim West

And this:

No matter what the churches claim, Christianity in the United States has two liturgical seasons, the Holy Season, which runs from Advent to Easter (or Pentecost if you’re lucky), and the Civil Season, which runs from Memorial Day to Thanksgiving. (Rather handy division of the year, isn’t it?) At the beginning of summer, we are clearly now in the thick of Civil Season, or Civil Religion Time—which replaces Ordinary Time.

Civil religion in the U.S. never goes away, but its major feasts are in that six-month period. God-and-country language and rituals are more prevalent, and syncretism in the churches (”when you see the red in the flag, think of the blood of those who died to make us free, and also think of Jesus’ blood that was shed to make us really free”) runs rampant but is hardly ever questioned.

Why is it so difficult for Christians in the U.S. (and elsewhere, sometimes, but especially in the U.S.) to see this for what it is: idolatry?

And, for some practical steps to move away from the idolatry of civil religion, 8 baby steps away from civil religion. My favorites:

3. Under no circumstances allow the pledge of allegiance. Don’t feel forced to challenge the pledge in principle. Simply say, “In worship we pledge ourselves to God alone.”

4. Don’t compare the red of the U.S. flag or the blood shed in battle to the blood of Christ, or war deaths to Christ’s sacrifice. At best, that cheapens Christ’s death.

<idle musing>
Why is it so hard for Americans to see nationalism as idolatry and pride? We are not God's chosen instrument in the world today anymore than Rome was in the 5th century. If we think so, we are in for a shock when the Goths (whoever they might be this time around) sack Washington, D.C. Hopefully there will be an Augustine to write another City of God, debunking the claim that Rome/U.S. is God's favorite.
</idle musing>

Monday, June 28, 2010

Our harvest

Nope, not the garden—although it is doing very well!—but the harvest of our own self-effort:

What we produce on our own is filthy rags. We produce our own work, our own effort. What you and I reproduce if we try is our flesh. And there's no life in the flesh...

The flesh profits nothing. The flesh produces nothing. For someone to stand in the pulpit Sunday after Sunday and tell you what you ought to do is a curse on you, because you can't produce it. Have you tried? I did, until the Holy Spirit showed me this: you are dead as a point of origin. Christ in you is the point of origin. He will live the life in you as you. The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, pages 84-85

<idle musing>
I really like his refrain, "He will live the life in you as you." That is a very nice way of saying it; it sums up Galatians 2:20 very well.
</idle musing>

Friday, June 25, 2010

We are one

We are one spirit with God. We function as one. We are not absorbed into the Lord, however. There is an I and there is a He, but we are joined to Him and we function as one. It is a function of cooperation, like a union of gears that mesh together. Our union with God doesn't mean that we are so swallowed up in God that we lose our identity. But neither is there a separation. Rather, the two function as one for the purposes of the greater one, God.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, pages 80-81

<idle musing>
Very well put.
</idle musing>

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The point of reference

As long as our own humanity is our point of reference, we don't know we died and we can't know union. We can't know it. I didn't say we couldn't talk about it or quote Bible verses about it. I'm saying we can't have an experiential knowledge of our union. But when we experience the reality of our union with Christ, we are no longer a soul-based person, a person that sees ourselves as our point of reference. We have moved to another place altogether.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page 73

<idle musing>
I've seen that many times; you talk about "Christ in you, the hope of glory" and people will chime in. But, if you watch their lives, it is pretty clear that they only know it as a theological construct.

Debbie (my wife of over 31 years!) likes to use the illustration of a tired person. If you are tired, do you have the right to be crabby? If you think so, then you are not living in Christ; is Christ too weak to keep you from being crabby? She uses other illustrations, too, but they all point to us as the point of reference instead of Christ as the point of reference.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Which tree are you eating from?

"To put it another way, we are operationally still eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, rather than from the Tree of Life, which is Christ. We are trying to eat from the Good side of that Tree, trying to always maintain good thoughts and good feelings and, certainly, good behavior.

"Whether we are eating from the Good side or the Evil side, however, we are still eating from the wrong tree. We are still operating out of our own effort, which cannot produce God's life. Our self-effort is not originating above the line, from the union of our spirit with God's Spirit. It's not flowing from the life of Christ. It's originating blow the line, from our soul operating independently and trying to make us “good” Christians."— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, pages 71-72

<idle musing>
Self-effort = failure. Period. We can't do it. A few years ago, Debbie was reading from an Anne Graham Lotz book (I can't remember the title now) where Anne said that God only expects one thing from us: Failure. At first, that shocked me, but as she explained it, it made sense. If we are trying to do it on our own strength, we will fail. There is no other option; we can't do it! But, praise God!, he can.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The really good news

"What's good news to us now isn't just that He died for us, though that is good news. It isn't just that He's with us, though that is good news. It isn't just that He's in us, helping us, though that is good news. The really good news is that He is in us, living His life as us. He has joined His Spirit with our spirit. In the unseen and eternal, there's Deity inside us. We are not that Deity, but we are containers of that Deity."— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page 62

<idle musing>
The Church Fathers called it theosis. Watchman Nee called it The Normal Christian Life; Hudson Taylor called it the exchanged life. There have been various names for it over the years, but I call it Life!
</idle musing>

Monday, June 21, 2010

Whose life?

After I got my sins forgiven, my question was always, “How do you live the life?” What I discovered is this: you don't. Because you can't. For years I regarded myself as my point of origin. But I couldn't produce the life of God out of me. I couldn't bring the uncreated (God's life) out of the creation (me). How was I going to do that? As long as I saw myself as the source of life, though, I had to keep trying. Until one day Jesus impressed this upon my spirit: “I am your life. I am the only life acceptable to the Father. I not only want to forgive you; I want to live the life in you. I want to be your life.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page 61

<idle musing>
So simple, but so difficult. We just don't want to let go, do we? Yet, when we let go, we find real life.
</idle musing>

And now for something completely different

The other day, while reading one of the many book related e-mails I receive, I ran across a summary of a book outside my normal reading. It was about an author's experience of going "back to the land." Normally, I would just blow by it, but the person grew up about 40 miles from where I did in northern Wisconsin. Intrigued, I checked the book out of the community library. Last week, while at ATLA, I read it during the down times. So, here is my review of Coop: A Family, a Farm, and the Pursuit of One Good Egg...

If you grew up in northern Wisconsin, as I did, you will find this book a delight. The author, not at all a handyman, decides to go back to the land. The book highlights his escapades during the first year. Supposedly a recounting of the events of the year, it is actually just an opportunity to recount his own growing up years on a farm near New Auburn, Wisconsin.

Because my grandparents owned a dairy farm and I spent quite a bit of time on it, I found his stories full of touchstones for my own memories. I could almost smell the fragrance of the fresh-cut alfalfa and the haymow as he described haying. The sound of the milk house door, the huge stainless steel tank for the milk, the smell of the barn, all came rushing back to me as he described milking the cows.

He is able to dance between the present and past in a most delightful way. His present attempts at being a farmer—at least a 2-pig, 12-chicken one—are hilarious. He is very honest about his failed attempts and the assistance he needs. It takes him the entire length of the book to build a chicken coop (the title of the book comes from this operation), and even then, it isn't really his work, but that of a friend or three. But, how can you help but love someone who has a 1951 International Harvester pickup? OK, I confess, I got my grandparents 1956 IH pickup when they retired...low mileage, high maintenance, but a high school kid's dream machine.

Bottom line: a delightful literary romp. Of course, my own little 2-acre homestead is a lot more modest than his 37-acre one. And, I am a lot more mechanically inclined than he—my cold frames have corners that join and are square :)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Learn from me

When Jesus said, “Learn from Me,” He meant to learn from Him how He lived. And how did He live? He lived out of the Father. He didn't have any other secret. As author Gene Edwards has said, Jesus Christ never tried to live the Christian life. He didn't have a Bible at home read; He didn't have a prayer group to go to. He let the Father live the life through Him. He learned how to live out of the resources of the Father, which are not of this seen and temporal realm, but of the unseen and eternal realm.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page 60

<idle musing>
And we live the same way!
</idle musing>

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The bread of life

I'm on the road today, on my way to the ATLA conference, so just a pair of quotations from The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out:

God raised our new man from the dead—God birthed in us an entirely new spirit, holy and righteous—so that he could unite Himself to our spirit and live His life through us. Whether we knew it or not, at salvation Jesus Christ came into us and we became one with Him. He now lives in and through us.— page 56

Nobody is offended as long as you are talking from the perspective of separation instead of union. As long as we are down here and God is up there, and He does something for us, it's OK. But when you start talking about Jesus living His life in you, through you, as you,that raises eyebrows. In John 6, the people were perfectly satisfied with Jesus as long as he produced bread. The offense came when He said He was the bread.— page 59

<idle musing<
As long as you talk religion, nobody minds. But, talk about union with Christ...well, it isn't always pretty.
</idle musing<

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Foolish Galatians

Once a person becomes a believer, the law actually hinders the fulfillment of God's purpose for our lives: that He might express His life in and through us. That is because the law by its nature sets a standard which we automatically try in our own effort to live up to. And the moment we do, we are living according to our own self-effort, rather than by faith, trusting Christ's life in us. That is exactly what Paul chastised the Galatians about:

You foolish Galatians!...Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Galatians 3:1-3)

The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page 52

<idle musing;gt:
It is way too easy to fall into the trap of self-works—that's why Paul had to address the Galatian church so harshly. We need to lean/trust/rely/depend on Jesus for everything, otherwise it is self-effort.
</idle musing;gt:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Do we really believe?

I was speaking in Alabama once to a group of 77 people. I asked them, “How many of you believe the Bible?” All 77 hands went up. I read Romans 6:7 to them: “He who has died is freed from sin.” I continued, “How many believe what I just read?” Three hands went up. “We've got a problem here,” I said. “You just said that you believe the Bible, and I just read it to you.” But they didn't really believe that. They didn't have a spiritual awareness of being dead, buried, and risen with Christ.

The blood side of the cross deals with sins: actions or attitudes that break the law of God. The body side of the cross deals with sin, whose source was the old man, our old Adamic nature. He was the point of origin of sins.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page 49

<idle musing>
Why am I not surprised? I was teaching a class once on I John. Everything fell apart once John (yes, I believe John wrote it) said that it was not possible for those born of God to sin (I John 3:9). Check out the Greek, if you wish:

Πᾶς ὁ γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἁμαρτίαν οὐ ποιεῖ, ὅτι σπέρμα αὐτοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ μένει, καὶ οὐ δύναται ἁμαρτάνειν, ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ γεγέννηται.

Pretty hard to swallow, isn't it? But, that's what it says. Whom are you going to believe? God or the fallen nature (and it's ally, the devil).

Looking at God's track record, my money is on Him.
<idle musing>

Friday, June 11, 2010


This aspect of the cross, that we died with Him, is what I call the Doublecross. There are two sides of the cross. The first is the blood side. That's where Christ died for us. He shed His blood for the forgiveness of our sins. The second side is the body side. We were united with Him on the cross, participating in His death, burial, and resurrection. Our old man was crucified with Him. Our new man, righteous and holy, was resurrected with Him. — The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page 42

<idle musing>
The first side of the cross is the one everybody preaches. Unfortunately, the second side/aspect of the cross gets overlooked, but it is the most important part, in my opinion. What good is forgiveness without deliverance?
</idle musing>

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What are you living?

We continue on our jaunt through The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out with a selection of quotations:

Everyone of us who has believed into Christ is complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10). We are already holy (Colossians 3:12). We are already perfect (Hebrews 10:14). We are His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). There's nothing else to be done. As we see that, we will live that, and God will make what is already true in the unseen and eternal a seen and temporal experience.—page 34.

The vast majority of believers only know one half of the gospel. The first twelve years that I pastored, I only knew one half of the gospel. I preached a steady diet of Christ died for the forgiveness of your sins. Week after week I gave the same basic message. The problem was that my audience had already been saved; their sins had already been forgiven.

The only other message I had to offer them was telling them what they ought to be doing; external compliance with commandments. I was handing out my own version of legalism.—pages 35-36

It is easier being lost than to be saved and try to live only off “I'm forgiven,” striving your utmost to be a good Christian. Because that isn't the whole gospel. That isn't the whole gospel! It is only a partial, fragmentary view of our salvation. So we have fifty percent of the gospel, then we go back into the flesh, into our independent self-effort, trying to make the rest of it happen on our own.

We can't make it happen, however, which is according to the program. We are programmed for failure when we try to make the Christian life work on our own. This kind of living will bring you to despair. It produces nothing but an inner sense of condemnation.

Many people finally conclude that's how the Christian life is supposed to be. I've actually heard ministers tell their congregations that truly victorious living is impossible and that the Christian life is nothing but a struggle in which you are going to experience defeat after defeat. That's a far cry from the “abundant life” that Jesus promised.—pages 38-39

<idle musing>
This last paragraph breaks my heart, but I've seen it many times over the years. The basic question is, "do you believe what you read as a promise of God? Or, do you believe what you are experiencing?" Most of us, especially in our materialistic (in the philosophical sense of the word) world, opt for the experience instead of the promise. How sad; we miss out on so much of God.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

What do you depend on?

Ministry can be an external. A lady who ran a retreat center told me that a young minister came through and met an older minister there. The younger one kept asking him, “What's your ministry, brother?”

“I don't know,” he replied.

“Come on, now. What's your ministry?”

Finally the older gentleman said, “I don't have one. I just talk about Christ.”

The young man had an outer identity called ministry. — The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page 24

<idle musing>
Here, external means something other than God, something visible, that can be felt, hung on to. So, what is the external thing that you hang on to? Whatever it is, it stands between you and dependence on the Holy Spirit.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The righteousness of God

Resuming our interrupted selection of snippets from The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, here's today's selection:

Twenty-one years of trying to live for Jesus. I had known Christ for me. I had known Christ with me. I had begun to experience the concept of Christ in me, but not Christ as me, expressing His life as me. Rather, Christ inme to help me become something. To make something out of me. And I had come to the end. Over the years, I had gradually concluded that I couldn't pull off living the Christian life. I was a failure at it...

Months later, Norman [Grubb] came and spoke to a small group in our living room. The first thing he said was, “You can't live the Christian life.” I thought, “Amen to that. I am a walking testimony to that. You can't live the Christian life.” Then he said, “Christ is the life.” Well, I knew that. I had head knowledge of that. But finally he stated, “Christ is in you and He will live the life.” And my spirit responded, “Ohhh! Not, 'He will help me live the life,' but 'He will live the life.' That's the good news. I can let Him live the life. I can do that...”

For the first time I came to know that He had already made me the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). I was truly righteous. He had made me holy (Colossians 3:12). He had made me complete (Colossians 2:10). I was blameless in His sight (Colossians 1:22). And loved. And acceptable.

The Lord taught me that when I was crucified on the cross with Christ, as Galatians 2:20 had told me for so long, I died to myself as my point of reference. He living in me was my point of reference. He would live His life through me, as me. Has He revealed that to you? If He hasn't, He wants to, because that's the good news. That's the good news.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, pages 21, 23

<idle musing>
Interesting, isn't it. He had known intellectually for over 20 years what the answer was. But, it took a special revelation from the Holy Spirit to make it real. As an academic, I certainly won't knock intellectual knowledge—I've invested my life in it—but, I also know that there are areas where only the Holy Spirit can give insight. Interestingly, the older I get, the more areas I find that to be true!
</idle musing>


I walked into the break room this morning, and noticed something I hadn't before. I'm not sure if you can see this in the picture, but look carefully at the expiration date in the middle of the box. It says June 5th, 3011. Yep, that's 3011. That even beats out our famous Twinkie test! Do you think it's wrong? :)


Just a collection of various things found on my wanderings around the web...

Lawson Stone is blogging again. Here's a portion of today's thoughts:

I always think it’s a little sad when Christian institutions get so confused about their identity and mission that they actually start framing their curriculum and programs based on focus groups and market research, reverently termed “empirical data,” rather than first and primarily consulting their own deepest awareness of God’s call and working in their midst.

The ever prolific Jim West weighs in on the current state of Biblical Studies:

Biblical studies, as we know it, needs to end. But [Hector] Avalos is wrong concerning the reason because biblical studies isn’t at all primarily a religionist and apologetic enterprise in the academy, it is thoroughly “a-theistic’” (in the sense of the alpha privative prefix in Greek) in its approach and goals in the academy. Only a person who has never bothered to attend a meeting of the SBL or read the Journal of Biblical Literature or visited a Department of Religion (at, say, the University of North Carolina where Bart Ehrman teaches) could say without their tongue being firmly planted in their cheek that biblical studies is dominated by some sort of faith perspective. Indeed, I would submit for your consideration that in Colleges and Universities across the United States where Departments of Religion exist, that the preponderance of work is purely “a-theistic.”

The Book Bench bemoans the loss of personal selling in books, sometimes called "hand selling:"

There are also algorithms and Web sites intended to provide this sort of service [recommending books], but I find them unreliable and broad. The suggestions on Amazon, for instance, are limited—they tend to pound me over the head with new releases, analogizing books based primarily on sales rankings—and often odd (this morning, in a rise-and-shinish sort of mood, my Amazon site recommended that I might like pancake mix).

Jim Martin talks about a valuable gift:

For a few minutes, he gave us his undivided attention.

I never forgot that moment.

This is where I learned the value of giving another person one’s undivided attention.

Far too often, what people receive instead is our divided attention.

He goes on to talk about the draw of the cell phone, the text message, etc.

Joel and Renee have a nice little announcement:

...we are expecting Baby #5 at the end of January. That makes me about 7 weeks along. So come along Bean Sprout, go easy on your momma, and we look forward to meeting you around January 22!

So, we're going to be grandparents again!

On other notes:
Over the weekend, a raccoon got in the barn. I have chicken wire along the eaves to keep birds out, but coons go through that like a hot knife through warm butter. The neighbor gave us an assist and the coon is resting comfortably under a foot of earth now.

I haven't had any success in finding used parts for the Cub Cadet, so tonight we look at different lawn tractors. There were just too many things going wrong with the thing to be reliable.

On the cheese making front, we tried the brick cheese last night. It seems to have been a failure. It has the consistency of a Brie and tastes like it, too. The center of the block was more solid and tasted "brickish" but the rest didn't. Maybe I'll try again later, but at least I like Brie!

Also this weekend, I picked 45 pounds of strawberries. For the second or third year in a row, as I was finishing up picking, it started to sprinkle. By the time I had carried all 4 flats to the weighing station, it was pouring. As usual, I got drenched! But, I also ended up with 57 pints of strawberry jam. That should last for the year :)

Finally, last night as we were on our walk—a bit after midnight—we heard a plaintive meow a little over 1/4 mile from home. Looking around, we saw a tiny little kitten, probably 6-weeks old, along the side of the road. Being the sensitive sorts we are, we picked it up and brought it home. So, that makes at least 9 kittens 2 months old or less right now, 3 of them orphans. If the ratio holds to normal, by the end of the summer only about 1/3 of them will be alive. Right now we have 5 cats, none of them older than 13 months.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Computers, you, and books

Somewhat distressing, but not altogether unexpected, bit of news today from the New York Times

While many people say multitasking makes them more productive, research shows otherwise. Heavy multitaskers actually have more trouble focusing and shutting out irrelevant information, scientists say, and they experience more stress.

And scientists are discovering that even after the multitasking ends, fractured thinking and lack of focus persist. In other words, this is also your brain off computers.

But, maybe there is hope. Check this out from the Chicago Tribune

A friend of mine in her early 20s managed to poke a finger through the tissue-thin argument that iPads, Kindles and Nooks are just as good as books, that reading is reading, that content is all that matters.

She and her classmates at the University of Notre Dame were invited to the home of a revered professor. It was a gleaming palace of erudition, she said: Room after room was filled with elegant floor-to-ceiling bookcases; each bookcase was filled with beautiful volumes; each volume seemed to glow with the written legacy of the world's wisdom.

It was, she recalled, breathtaking.

Reveling in all of this, my friend had a sudden, unsettling thought: What if, instead of the soaring bookcases, the professor's home had featured a card table with a Kindle on it?

The content might be the same — vast storage capacity is one of the chief selling points of new technologies — but how different it would be in terms of spiritual sustenance.

I'm glad that this anecdote comes from an undergraduate, because if it emerged from a creaky old coot — e.g., me — you'd dismiss it as the ill-tempered rant of a curmudgeon who needs to double up on the Advil and the Benefiber. The truth is, however, that many people, regardless of age, are feeling nostalgic these days for book culture.

<idle musing>
Of course, if their brains have been rewired by too much Internet, what good will all the books do? Ah well, progress has always been a mixed bag...
</idle musing>

Friday, June 04, 2010

God fix

"It was great in praise services while I was emotionally high and stimulated. But I confused those feelings of happiness with God's inner joy. I was looking for a permanent high, and I stayed on a high for about six months. I had to attend a lot of meetings to stay up there. I had to stand on my feet long time and sing an awful lot of songs. Everybody did.

"If we would be honest with ourselves, however, most of us were still searching. Because so much of our activity was still involving externals. We were still desperate. We went to those meetings to get something. I wanted to be helped, be blessed, get healed, get delivered. Everybody went with a great need. But we'd leave, stepping right outside those doors, and we still had that need. Deep down we were still saying, 'Where's the life?'"— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, pages 20-21

<idle musing>
He still hasn't offered a solution, but he is very good at describing the problem. I know people who are in the position he is describing right now. They need their "God fix" or they are not sure of their standing with God. Hang on until Monday; the solution is coming!
</idle musing>

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Where's the life?

OK, I stole that from the Wendy's™ ad from way back when: "Where's the beef?" But, it is a valid question for most Christians. In case you don't remember, I'm excerpting from The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out.

Unfortunately, knowing that I was saved and that my sins were forgiven was the only inner reality I knew. Like most Christians, I was trying to live the Christian life on that raw reality.

The trouble is that, as true as it is, having your sins forgiven doesn't tell you one thing about how to live the life. The only thing it says is after you commit a sin, you are forgiven. You don't know anything yet about true life—God's life. So life to you is still external: "How do I do it? Give me a plan, give me a method, give me a scheme."

It's as if the day we receive Him by faith, Jesus says, "Now you're saved. Good luck. I'll see you when you die and it will be wonderful. But in the here and now it's up to you. Get out there and try as hard as you can." What a struggle. I tried as hard as I could for years... The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page 18

<idle musing>
Sound familiar? He hasn't offered the solution yet, but he sure has pegged the problem, hasn't he? Work, work, work! Saved by grace, but sanctified by works. What an endless treadmill. It's sort of like the one at the end of the Jetsons™, where George and Astro are taking a walk. Works fine, until a cat (real life in the analogy) jumps on the path. From there on, it's a nightmare...
</idle musing>

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Seems like a good book

We were at Debbie's parents' place this last weekend. It was a blessed time; Ryan, Emily, and Eveline came down from Minneapolis, so we were able to spend time with them. And, Debbie's brother's kids (now grown) came over, as well as her sister-in-law. We had a grand time together in Jesus.

During one of the conversations, Gwen (Debbie's sister-in-law) mentioned a book she had recently finished reading: The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out. We said it sounded interesting; she offered to lend her copy for us to borrow. I started reading it this morning, and you will see excerpts here for the next however long it takes :)

It's easy to live as if we are the center of the universe. We wouldn't ever say it, or even think it consciously, but we can live as if God is here for us. That has come across in a lot of teaching over the last thirty years. Go is here to bless you. You ought to be rich. You ought to be prosperous. It's your due to be successful. It's your due to get ahead. God has to respond to your faith. God has obligated Himself to bless you if you do the right thing. All of which means what? You are the center of the universe.— The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, page 8

<idle musing>
That's only the second page of the preface. And, guess what? The author doesn't think you are the center of the universe! God is. Stay tuned for more goodies...
</idle musing>