Month: December 2014

Calling & “Being a Luddite” :-)

“Calling – as a disciple of Jesus Christ – is to be faithful in the ordinary of our lives, whatever that ordinary consists of.  It may be plumbing a house, or raising a child, or preaching the Gospel, or researching some arcane topic, or caring for the ill, or painting a canvas that no one – absolutely no one but God – sees.  Still, it is significant because it is God’s calling to me, and that matters more than the cultural metrics of success or failure, because He is the one who can choose to say “Well done” someday, adn all else pales into insignificance besides that, which is a value of the kingdom of God that is simply a given in the Christian faith. …Our calling is most assuredly NOT to save and manage THE WORLD [especially in the global era], for trying to do so will end up either in windy abstractions or in the paralysis that comes from being overwhelmed.  Our task is to focus on our individual callings in engaging with the world, and leave to God the masterminding of the grand outcome.”

– DH & OG

“A Christian mind cannot be honed by remaining in a Christian ghetto, so a Christian imagination will remain shriveled if it is not actively exercised to identify glimpses of glory in a fallen world.”

– DH

– – – > Do you ever take sabbaticals from technology?  How long?  What do you gain from the experience?

– – – > How do you handle the interminable interruption of your cell phone?

– – – > Land line v. Cell phone.  Snail mail v. E-mail.  Photo Albums/Postcards v. Facebook.

– – – > Personal Freedom?  Leisure?  Efficiency?  Availability?

– – – > WESTERN SOCIETY HAS ACCEPTED AS UNQUESTIONABLE A TECHNOLOGICAL IMPERATIVE THAT IS QUITE AS ARBITRARY AS THE MOST PRIMITIVE TABOO:  NOT MERELY THE DUTY TO FOSTER INVENTION AND TO CONSTANTLY CREATE TECHNOLOGICAL NOVELTIES, BUT EQUALLY THE DUTY TO SURRENDER TO THESE NOVELTIES UNCONDITIONALLY, JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE OFFERED, WITHOUT RESPECT TO THEIR HUMAN CONSEQUENCES.

– James Fallows (not Franco)

*** “We need someone to save us from the products that we are asked to buy in order, ultimately, to replace ourselves.”

– Wendell Berry

IT DOESN’T MATTER IF WE LIKE IT OR NOT.  WHAT MATTERS IS WHETHER WE GET IT.

YOU MUST FIND A WAY TO IMAGINATIVELY INHABIT YOUR NEIGHBOR’S WORLDVIEW.” [way, way, way]

…a glimpse of the yearnings, ideas, values, dreams, hopes, and fears that animate them.”

…you must not squander the chance to see through that window simply because you don’t happen to like something.

IMAGINATIVELY INHABIT

Even if my friend asks me if I like it, I will act as if the vital thing is that they like it, and that I’d like nothing more than to share in something True, Good, and Beautiful is they will allow me to explore the delight.” …HOW DID YOU DISCOVER IT?  HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU FIRST HEARD, SAW, ETC. IT?  FASCINATING …TELL ME ABOUT IT (?).

***THINK ABOUT THIS – – – > BEING IN A CONVERSATION WITH SOMEONE WHERE YOUR LIKES AND DISLIKES DON’T DOMINATE! [that’s freedom]

“…go with the flow, rushing along with the crowds and sweeping past the best as we chase after the most.  It is all too easy to get caught up in the sensational (or bogged down in stagnation) and forget the substantial/significant.” – Os Guinness (Renaissance).

CONVICTION

COMFORT

CLARITY

All You Got

I will never forget the day in Baghdad when we had some visitors. They had come to see what it was really like for Christians in Iraq. They were so surprised by how happy the thousands of people were in our congregation. “How can you be so happy when you are surrounded by suicide bombs, mortar rockets and such violence?” One of our young people answered the statement. “You see when you have lost everything, Jesus is all you have got left.”

All you have got left is the love of that refugee child. That to us in the Middle East is all that matters this Christmas. The terrorism has got so bad in Iraq that I have had to leave. So I have moved to the other place where I work, Bethlehem. That little town where Jesus first came. Two-thousand years after he first came, he is still everything to the people. He is still everything to our Christians in Iraq and he can still be everything to us. You see when Christmas is over, when you have had all your presents and food, Jesus is all we have got left.

Canon Andrew White, “Happy Christmas from the Middle East”

Hallelujah! What A Savior!

“Man of Sorrows!” what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die;
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in Heav’n exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

[Philip Bliss]

Where, What, & How…

First, we can only be at one place at one time, which means that Jesus will teach most of us to live a local life [I would actually go “so far” as to insist that ALL of us (distinct from “most of us”) will inescapably and unavoidably find ourselves living LOCAL LIVES!]… Second, we cannot do everything that needs to be done, which means that Jesus will teach us to live with the things that we can neither control or fix… Third, we are unable to know everyone or everything, which means that Jesus will teach us to live with ignorance, our own and other’s.  In other words, we are not omniscient. (P. 55). – Zack Eswine

“Where was this book when I was stuck in the unrelenting grind of performance-based pastoring; the spiritual schizophrenia of preaching the gospel of grace with a frozen heart…” – Scotty Smith

Forgiveness?

FORGIVENESS – I will be obedient to God & release you from your sin regardless of what you have done to me.  What I have done to the Savior is far worse than what you have done to me.  I will not hold this over your head anymore, but will make myself vulnerable to the possibility of your hurting me again.  In essence, I trust God’s method in this matter. I forgive you.

 

UNFORGIVENESS – Gospel not only has not taken full effect on my heart, but I have also brought a serious accusation against God’s plan of redemption – His gospel.  Rom.9:20, 21

More importantly, Christians believe our baptism is not just a set of beliefs. One could come up with some new way to follow Abraham Lincoln or Ayn Rand and give it a brand new title. But Christianity joins us to a body of other believers. This biblical description of the “body” is so basic to the faith it’s almost not a metaphor: a new member is healthy tissue grafted onto a wound. The loss of a member is like the tearing away of flesh. Christ himself is our head, and we belong to one another. The very word “religion” has the same root as the word “ligament.” We are quite physically bound to one another.

This is especially important to reassert when we are tempted to say we’re with the head, but not the other parts of the body. We are all tempted to pick and choose our fellows, buffet-style. “I’m with Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, and Mother Teresa, but not the Southern Baptists.” No! We’re part of this body, with all its dazzling glory and all its tragic flaws, and cannot claim the former without the latter. Further, we are responsible for those parts presently misbehaving, and for its misdeeds through time—if we want credit for its virtues.

This is the part that really irks me the most on eschewing “Christian.” It’s as though we get off scot-free for historical Christian sins (the crusades, racism, you name it) by just calling ourselves something else. Christians believe there is a way to forgiveness and purity—but it passes through confession, restoration, and repaired relationship. The much more costly way to disassociate from those who have done ill in Christ’s name is to set about loving as fanatically as they hated.

Jason Byassee

Ravenhill ” ” ‘s

“The early church was married to poverty, prisons and persecutions. Today, the church is married to prosperity, personality, and popularity.”

“My goal is GOD HIMSELF. Not joy, not peace, not even blessing but HIMSELF…my GOD.”

“LORD strengthen me where I am too weak and weaken me where I am too strong!”

“Satan fools and feigns, blows and bluffs, and we so often take his threats to heart and forget the “exceeding greatness of God’s power to us.”

“But you know if God should stamp eternity or even judgment on our eyeballs, or if you’d like on the fleshy table of our hearts I am quite convinced we’d be a very, very different tribe of people, God’s people, in the world today. We live too much in time, we’re too earth bound. We see as other men see, we think as other men think. We invest our time as the world invests it. We’re supposed to be a different breed of people.”

“A man who is intimate with God is not intimidated by man.”

“One thing and one thing alone keeps us from complete decay in this hour – the church, the true Church.”

Repentance, Redemption, Debt, Personal, Preferences

REPENTANCE is the payment of Christ acknowledged and applied.  PERFORMANCE is our own efforts to pay for what we could never afford.

Do you want that person to get treatment or do you want that person to get punished and suffer?  Do you want retribution or do you want redemption?  Let’s – first of all – be clear about what you want …what’s the end game?  Are we aiming for hurt or health …harm or help?

KINGDOM ECONOMY – – – > Debt Direction:  Always Forever Eternally Deeper and Deeper and Deeper and Deeper in Debt.  Always Borrowing more!

PERSONAL – you cannot detach your principles from PEOPLE!

“My preferences are SACRED!  I DEMAND that you meet my expectations.  My preferences have become law, and now your performance of that law (“the rules”) has become the benchmark of my pleasure (or displeasure) with you.  I DEMAND that you talk to me in a certain way, that you say certain words, that you do certain things (much of which is nebulous).  Failure to meet my DEMANDS will result in stress, strain, and/or divorce.” – Bad Guy