Monday, June 30, 2014
That's too (Christo)logical
Indeed. But, as usual, we pervert it and make it all about us...
Saturday, June 28, 2014
The real enemy
Indeed! Too much prosperity and you forget God. You don't need him—you've got the future covered. Right? Wrong! He holds the future. And all our goods and goodies won't secure it. But we forget that when we have too much, don't we?
Friday, June 27, 2014
Yes or no?
Thursday, June 26, 2014
It's not the act
It's grounded in YHWH
You don't hear that in the current debates, do you? It's almost as if nobody—on either side—really wants to approach it from the nature of who God is. And if it is grounded in who God is, then what are the ramifications? I don't know for sure, but I suspect it might send all of us back to God on our knees...
I've been reading the book of Romans lately in multiple different translations. It's been a fun exercise in seeing things through varied lenses, but all of them agree on something: the culmination of the catalog of sins in Romans 1 isn't homosexuality—sure it's on the road there, but the final destination is a list of what most would call "common sins"—gossip, pride, breaking promises, lack of kindness, disobeying parents—the list goes on. The sad thing is that some of the ones yelling the loudest against homosexuality are doing so in the most unkind and unloving way.
Make no mistake about it, homosexuality is sin! But so are the other things listed! They all need to be repented off. And by repent, I mean turned away from. In other words, Stop it!. All by the grace of God through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. There is no other way. But, by the power of the Holy Spirit, it is possible—and God commands it!.
Flame away! But here I stand, I can do no other!
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
And if ever there was a message that is unpalatable to the world, death to self is. It doesn't matter that death to self is actually liberation. It just won't sell. It won't fill the pews. It won't meet the budget. It isn't popular. Never was. And never will be. But that doesn't mean it isn't true! And it also doesn't mean it shouldn't be preached...
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
The eclipse of the sun god
There is always a festival celebrating the summer solstice. Part of that is a pageant put on by the local players; this year it featured a celebration of the north woods—complete with kids on stilts looking like trees and a TALL sun god on very tall stilts and a larger than life Bacchus with green face. Over all it was a cute and well done performance.
Except that the temperature was about 40°F for the performance and the whole weekend was foggy. The sun didn't shine at all. The temperature didn't get above about 60° and most of the time is was in the low 50s° to mid-40s°. The fog would roll in and the temperatures would crash. The fog would subside a bit, and the temperature would recover a bit. So much for the power of the sun god!
I found it highly ironic and not a little amusing. Maybe if there had been more or better sacrifices? Or maybe the sun god's priests didn't perform the liturgy correctly. Or...maybe the sun god isn't sovereign over the weather! Maybe only the Christian God is sovereign. Something to think about, isn't it?
So that's the problem!
Indeed! And in our self-worshiping society, with it's constant attention to self, we are compounding the problem every moment...and the solution seems ridiculous. Death to self? Are you crazy? Deny your self? Yougottabekiddingme!
Revelation (not the book)
That is the reason revelation is so crucial; there is a gulf between us and Him that we cannot cross. If we are ever to know Him, He must come down to us. That chasm is uncrossable apart from revelation. He must reveal Himself, and that is what we are getting in the Scripture.— Lectures in Old Testament Theology, page 95
Monday, June 23, 2014
Morality and legalism
About that primordial surd
To get the full understanding of what he's driving at, you need to remember the previous excerpt. Basically, the gods are subject to a power greater than themselves and must manipulate that power via magic—just as humans try to do. So gods are just bigger versions of humanity, subject to circumstances outside themselves but with a bit more power and a longer (unending) life...that's what makes the biblical God so different and unique—he condemns magic because he doesn't need to control anything—he already does! And you can't control him via magic because he is creator of all...
Personally I find that refreshing and freeing : )
Friday, June 20, 2014
And that's how we got into this mess...
What's that I see behind you?
And nothing has changed since then. Even among Christians, you see this. Use a particular verse to bind God to act in a certain way. Pray a certain prayer in a certain way. Do a liturgical act. Get up at a certain time. Read a certain number of Bible verses/chapters a day. The list goes on.
Why? Because we want to be in control! If there is a power behind God that we can get a handle on, we can control our destiny. We don't really believe that God is love, do we? If we did, we wouldn't see a need for all of that stuff...we would be able to "cast our cares upon him" and "take no thought for the morrow" and "in everything give thanks" and...well, you get the idea.
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Who is really important here?
Last Friday, the book Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence came up. In case you aren't aware of the book, it was written in the 1600s in a monastery in Paris. Brother Lawrence was the dishwasher for the monastery for many years; he was illiterate, so the book is a record of conversations between him and the person who wrote the book. It's delightful little book that you can easily read in a sitting—or spend a lifetime pondering its insights.
Steve, one of the guys there, commented that 400 years later, we don't know anything about the monastery's personnel except the dishwasher, the lowliest of the lows on the totem pole. The support staff, as it were, of the mission.
Interesting isn't it? I'm sure the people in charge at the time were convinced they were doing great things for God that were of lasting importance. But all we have is a book by a dishwasher! And it's had a major impact on many (millions, maybe) lives.
Think about that when you think of missions organizations. Maybe the support staff, who are usually considered overhead, are the ones who will be remembered 400 years from now..."But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first." (Matthew 19:30; Mark 10:31, NIV)
It isn't legalism
I've heard people accuse Bonhoeffer of being a legalist after reading The Cost of Discipleship. I agree with the authors of this book; Bonhoeffer navigates the tricky waters between legalism and antinomianism very skillfully. Would that more people were able to...
How atheistic are they really?
I heard Kinlaw argue in class once or twice that atheism couldn't exist in its current form without a Christian foundation. Interesting thought, isn't it?
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Say that again...
Who's in charge here, anyway?
Can't get any more basic than that, can you? I think that's a good summary. Do I want God to run my life? Or do I want to run my life?
If the latter, then any hope of success must come from me. I'm responsible for everything. And I can manipulate things to get my own way—actually, I have to manipulate things to get my way. And it might work for a while. Some people are very good at it—for a while, but eventually they will get caught or run into someone more powerful or better at it than they are.
No wonder people are stressed out! Personally, I opt for the first choice; I'll let God run my life. By doing that, I can relax and enjoy all of life's often bizarre circumstances because I know who is directing my paths...
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
And you thought the book was about Bonhoeffer! : )
Location, location, location?
Kinda stands the old "location, location, location" saying on it's head, doesn't it?! : )
Monday, June 16, 2014
In other words, it wasn't just a minor adjustment that could easily be gone back on. It was a radical paradigm shift. In order to argue that Bonhoeffer later repented of his pacifism, we need to find a similar radical shift. The authors will argue we don't find that shift.
While I agree with them, I don't buy their argument that Bonhoeffer wasn't really actively involved in the resistance and the plot to kill Hitler. More on that later, when I write the review of the book as a whole.
Why that word?
I know that idea has fallen out of favor of late, but I still think it makes good sense...
Thursday, June 12, 2014
In other words, after Bonhoeffer's time in the U.S. where he was exposed to biblical pacifism, he didn't just modify his views on the state, he had the equivalent of a conversion experience. It transformed the way he looked at everything. It would be the equivalent of an open-carry person suddenly becoming the proponent of massive gun control. Of Saul, the persecutor of Christians becoming Saul, the evangelist.
You read Bonhoeffer's early sermons on national themes, and he endorses the two kingdoms theory. He's all for the defense of national honor. He might not have agreed with Hitler's methods, but he endorsed the underlying reasons for it. But not after his sojourn in the U.S. and his exposure to the Sermon on the Mount in a new way by his French companion...would that more people would encounter the Sermon on the Mount in an unfiltered way!
Listen and learn
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Are we confused about what peace is?
Oh no, a nevil!
The post title is taken from The Magician's Nephew in the Chronicles of Narnia. Aslan has just created their world and an evil creature has already been set loose in it. But, the creatures a just created and don't know what evil is. They assume it is a creature, so they interpret it as "a nevil." OK, I guess it doesn't really fly, but I thought it was appropriate...
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Unless, of course, you don't really want to obey...violence is addictive. It seems to work—or is it that we want it to work, so we remember it as working? After all, that way we are doing something—unlike prayer, which feels like we aren't really doing anything...as usual, our perspective is backwards.
Nothing really changes
Did he just read Ehrman's new book? Oh wait, he said that in the 1950s...nothing really changes, does it?
Monday, June 09, 2014
About that CV
Sunday, June 08, 2014
Ain't it the truth
Saturday, June 07, 2014
Thought for a rainy Saturday
Friday, June 06, 2014
Another D-Day thought...
Especially today, when one of war's most memorable days is celebrated...would that we worshiped at the feet of the Prince of Peace instead of the statue of Mars...
“However, the church also knows that there is no peace unless justice and truth are preserved. A peace that violates justice and truth is no peace, and the church of Christ must protest against such peace. There can be a peace that is worse than struggle. Yet it must be a struggle out of love for another, a battle that comes from the Spirit not from the flesh.”—Bonhoeffer as quoted in Bonhoeffer the Assassin?, page 34
Appropriate for D-Day, don't you think?
I just started reading A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace yesterday. He says the same thing—even more bluntly. By the way, if you are looking for a quick, but extremely challenging, read, then look no further. It's a great book—unless you are afraid of having your views challenged...especially if you have no problem waving a flag or saying the Pledge of Allegiance!
Thursday, June 05, 2014
How do you read the Bible?
Too many of us read "our" Bible. That is, we read what we want to see, which isn't necessarily what is there...
More than a conception
Wednesday, June 04, 2014
The end of theology
Here's the first of many excerpts. I hope they make you think and worship:
Furthermore, true theology ought to end in prayer. If theology is the study of God, the knowledge of God, and if God is God, then the end of the study ought to be worship. If it is not, if it has been only a study about a subject and our thoughts on that subject, that is idolatry; I have made God a thing. It does not matter how accurate my thought is; if it does not bring me to Him as a living Person, I have only found a substitute for Him, a knowledge of something other than God. When one comes to know the true God, the only response is, in the language of the Old Testament, fearful worship. I do not mean fearful in the sense of craven terror, but rather a deep-seated awe that you have come into the presence of the Holy one of Israel, the Creator and Lord of all.— Lectures in Old Testament Theology, pages 15-16
This is good
Whatever you’re trying to do for the sake of Christ, the most important lesson from the Gospels and epistles is the centrality of the Holy Spirit. You won’t last long by simply trying harder.<idle musing>
Living in fear of an angry God will grow old.
When fear of God gives way to loving God as a father, holiness becomes a natural response.
Before the cross, God had an intense, undying love for us.
In the epistle to the Romans, Paul had God’s mercy rather than his wrath in mind. He also called his readers to be renewed in their minds rather than trying harder:
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2, NIV via BibleGateway)
He's singing my song...oh, and while you're reading stuff, check out this post with the scary title of "The intimacy of toothbrushes (and sex)." Here's the final line from the post:
And it makes me wonder if, after an evening of flirting and good chemistry, if handsome guy was to sidle over to delightful girl and whisper, “so, you wanna go home and share my toothbrush?”, whether the response might not be a little different.Something to think about...just an
Tuesday, June 03, 2014
It's just possible
Evangelical brands of Christianity in the west have too often espoused only a “change when I die” eschatology/soteriology. This doesn’t mean they are “bad” Christians. It simply means they have not yet developed the imagination, nor received any substantive teaching, regarding how to begin living the kinds of lives that people like Abraham, Moses, David, Ezekiel, Daniel, Mary, John the Baptist, or Paul, lived in and through the power of God while on earth. This is a result of modern evangelicalism having never developed a stomach (much less a budget) for discipleship as the PRIMARY objective of the church. Instead, most Christians today fully expect to become their perfect/perfected selves only after leaving earth and entering the eternal (eschatological) character reformation project in heaven. This is a widely held belief that unconsciously demotivated us from pursuing any sustained commitment to the intentional efforts involved in character transformation. Just like the rapture theology caused many conservative evangelicals to forsake responsible stewardship of the earth, so too a “change when I die” dogma stalls any move toward holiness.<idle musing>
Amen! You can't hope to attain to something you don't believe is possible! If you think you're a sinner, you will act like a sinner! If you know you're a saint, you will begin to act like a saint...
Its a scandal
No wonder Paul calls it the scandal of the cross...We need to recapture that.
Monday, June 02, 2014
That the man Jesus died meant little, for many men were crucified in Jewish Palestine at that time; incomparably more astonishing was the confession that this man Jesus, executed as a criminal, was raised by God. To say that the Messiah had died was a complete reversal of this. It was taken for granted that God would grant victory to the Messiah; the message of his death on the cross, however, was a scandal.— The Atonement, 40
Final thoughts on legalism
Turns my opinion into your burden. There is only room for one opinion in this boat. And guess who is wrong!If you want to be in the group, stay in step and don’t ask questions.— He Still Moves Stones, 120
Turns my opinion into your boundary. Your opposing opinion makes me question not only your right to have fellowship with me, but also your salvation.
Turns my opinion into your obligation. Christians must toe the company line. Your job isn’t to think, it’s to march.
Wow. I've never heard it put so bluntly before! But he's right. And we call that "the gospel"?! What a negation of the term. We need to be set free, to know the truth that sets us free, i.e., the gospel!