Month: July 2014

JOY

What’s the deal with the woman at the well in John 4? Is it not amazing that she excitedly, joyfully, and in a way that seems utterly liberated travels back to the town from whence she fled – to all the people she has for so long systematically sought to avoid at all costs – and boldly/confidently invites everyone she encounters to come meet this man who has just exposed all of her sin …to make the acquaintance of the man who candidly called her out on all that she had so desperately endeavored to conceal! What kind of JOY is this? This joy where sin is not celebrated, nor errors endorsed, and yet the sinner (the person in the wrong) eagerly embraces the exposure of such realities, and furthermore, seeks to summon others into the marvelous light where all is laid bare!?

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It Is ALWAYS About Jesus

“In the end, it’s about God. Who is God, and what difference does that make? There are a number of dangers in the Pelagian route, but perhaps the primary route out of biblical faith is the redefining of the identity and nature of God. It is simply tragic that the issue defining the various parties in the church today is same-sex unions. The passions surrounding this debate have almost entirely obscured the all-important questions of Christology and the role of Scripture in an age when an unprecedented number of books and media messages are bent on undermining the church’s ancient confession that Jesus Christ is Lord.” – Fleming Rutledge

“God Speaks To Those Who Feel Foreign & Flawed”

“A place and a name denote rest and reputation; a place to live comfortably in themselves, and a name to live creditably with among their neighbors; they shall be happy, and may be easy both at home and abroad. Though they have not children to be the music of their house, or arrows in their quiver, to keep them in countenance when they speak with their enemies at the gate, yet they shall have a place and a name more than equivalent. For, (1) God will give it to them, will give it to them by promise; he will himself be both their habitation and their glory, their place and their name. (2) He will give it to them in his house, and within his walls; there they shall have a place, shall be planted so as to take root (Ps. 92:13), shall dwell all the days of their life (Ps. 27:4).” – Matthew Henry

“Evangelism, Truth, Relevance, Resurrection, Hell”

“Christianity is a faith in which evangelism does not need to be taught because evangelism is a natural part of caring for my neighbor as someone made in God’s image, whom I could learn from and be blessed to have as a friend. Looking back now I realize that the reason evangelism had become a topic so fraught with tension and artificiality was that the fundamentalist faith it sought to commend did not result in flourishing but in mere conformity to a set of rules and expectations our tradition had come to identify as “spiritually acceptable.” – Denis Haack

“Nothing is more practical, nothing is more basic, than the conviction that there is truth that can be known. Without this conviction, life becomes more and more intolerable and more and more filled with alienation. The more consistently people live with the loss of truth, the more their lives will fall apart, for the center does not hold.” – Jerram Barrs

*THE GOSPEL IS DANGEROUSLY RELEVANT TO YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE.

*Disciples of Jesus are shaped by the resurrection more than by politics.

*Jesus did not save you in order to keep you out of hell; Jesus saved you in order that He might marry you! Whatever part of you that isn’t married to Jesus rightly belongs in hell.

“How Did You Get THERE?”

The teachers of the Church provide the members of the Church with a model for their own thinking. The teacher of the Church does not just teach others what to believe, but also how to believe, and the process by which one arrives at a theological position. This is one reason why it is crucial that teachers ‘show their working’ on a regular basis. When teaching from a biblical text, for instance, the teacher isn’t just teaching the meaning of that particular text, but how Scripture should be approached and interpreted more generally. An essential part of the teaching that the members of any church need is that of dealing with opposing viewpoints. One way or another, every church provides such teaching. However, the lesson conveyed in all too many churches is that opposing voices are to be dismissed, ignored, or ‘answered’ with a reactive reassertion of the dogmatic line, rather than a reasoned response.

The Loss of Pastoral Credibility in the Age of the Internet

“Thoughts for Mr. Mark on Marriage”

Spouses shouldn’t wind up completely sated by a relationship, able to retreat from the rest of the world. Married people, just like singles, have some needs that are best met by a friend or by a neighbor or by family. Our mutual, unsated needs draw us together in service to each other.

Few partners will be in danger of making a complete retreat, utterly emotionally self-sufficient as a dyad, but aiming at this goal is as destructive as achieving it. Spouses in this situation are likely to sell their friendships short, failing to rely on them, as the theatre-going wife does.

If the friends of these marital perfectionists are rarely given the chance to excel, their spouses are only ever given the chance to fail. Expecting a romantic partner to be fully satisfactory doesn’t just damage existing marriages, it can preempt them. A person who assumes that their spouse should fit seamlessly into his or her life may pass up several good partners while waiting for the perfect one.

In the meantime, they’ll be missing out on the best part of marriage—the presence of a partner in the ongoing project of becoming better versions of yourself. The spouse you pick shouldn’t be the one who makes you happiest, but the one who makes you more kind, prudent, and generous, and whom you can give the same gift. You join to grow, not to accommodate the desires of your present self.

“You complete me,” remains a trite and unhealthy declaration, whether you say it to one lover or a full set.

Leah Libresco

“A Bit of Bonhoeffer”

“A Bit of Bonhoeffer”

“If my sinfulness appears to me in any way smaller or less detestable in comparison with the sins of others, I am still not recognizing my sinfulness at all.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community, but the person who loves those around them will create community.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“God did not make this person as I would have made him. He did not give him to me as a brother for me to dominate and control, but in order that I might find above him the Creator. Now the other person, in the freedom with which he was created, becomes the occasion of joy, whereas before he was only a nuisance and an affliction. God does not will that I should fashion the other person according to the image that seems good to me, that is, in my own image; rather in his very freedom from me God made this person in His image. I can never know beforehand how God’s image should appear in others. That image always manifests a completely new and unique form that comes solely from God’s free and sovereign creation. To me the sight may seem strange, even ungodly. But God creates every man in the likeness of His Son, the Crucified. After all, even that image certainly looked strange and ungodly to me before I grasped it.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“What determines our brotherhood is what that man is by reason of Christ. Our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to both of us. This is true not merely at the beginning, as though in the course of time something else were to be added to our community; it remains so for all the future and to all eternity. I have community with others and I shall continue to have it only through Jesus Christ. The more genuine and the deeper our community becomes, the more will everything else between us recede, the more clearly and purely will Jesus Christ and his work become the one and only thing that is vital between us. We have one another only through Christ, but through Christ we do have one another, wholly, for eternity.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“A pastor should never complain about his congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Nothing can be more cruel than the leniency which abandons others to their sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Breaking the Circle of Self-Deception

“Why is it that it is often easier for us to confess our sins to God than to a brother? God is holy and sinless, He is a just judge of evil and the enemy of all disobedience. But a brother is sinful as we are. He knows from his own experience the dark night of secret sin. Why should we not find it easier to go to a brother than to the holy God? But if we do, we must ask ourselves whether we have not often been deceiving ourselves with our confession of sin to God, whether we have not rather been confessing our sins to ourselves and also granting ourselves absolution…Who can give us the certainty that, in the confession and the forgiveness of our sins, we are not dealing with ourselves but with the living God? God gives us this certainty through our brother. Our brother breaks the circle of self-deception. A man who confesses his sins in the presence of a brother knows that he is no longer alone with himself; he experiences the presence of God in the reality of the other person.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Shabbat

“The Romans held Jews in contempt because they completely stopped work one day a week. What impudence! Who would keep this great empire running if people practice such frivolity? ‘Two things the people of Rome anxiously desired – bread and circus games,’ Heschel said. But the bread feeds only for a short time and we are once again hungry. Circuses provide only momentary diversion. ‘Man does not live by bread and circus games alone. Who will teach him how to desire anxiously the spirit of the sacred?’ And we moderns, in our similarly ceaseless craving for productivity and entertainment, don’t we, too, genuflect before the altar of the Endless Economy? How we fail to recognize this insatiable beast that is devouring the world, and devouring our souls as we bow. What if, from sundown to sundown one day a week, we simply stopped – everything? And not just rested so that we could be more efficient workers in the Empire come Monday, but turned away from it altogether. What if resting in God became our life’s goal? Heschel: ‘The Sabbath is not for the sake of the weekdays; the weekdays are for the sake of the Sabbath. It is not an interlude but the climax of the living.’ ” – Fred Bahnson

“When Kings Hangout Upon Roofs”

And Ehud came to him as he was sitting alone in his cool roof chamber. And Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” And he arose from his seat. (Judges 3:20)

It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. (2 Samuel 11:2)

So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof. And Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel. (2 Samuel 16:22)

At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. (Daniel 4:29)

Nebuchadnezzar[4.33]