Sunday, December 27, 2009

Faith is empty

I'm the needy one, He's the rich one.
I'm the foolish one, He's the wise one.
I'm the hungry one, He's got the bread.
I'm the thirsty one, He's got the water.

Faith is empty! ... and He is full.

It's the best news in all the world,
that we only have to be empty to be saved.

-- John Piper

When my best deeds still avoid a savior

Christians come to see that both their sins and their best deeds have all really been ways of avoiding Jesus as savior.

A Christian comes to say: “Though I have often failed to obey the moral law, the deeper problem was why I was trying to obey it! Even my efforts to obey it have been just a way of seeking to be my own savior. In that mindset, even if I obey or ask for forgiveness, I am really resisting the gospel and setting myself up as Savior.”

To “get the gospel” is to turn from self-justification and rely on Jesus’ record for a relationship with God. The irreligious don’t repent at all, and the religious only repent of sins. But Christians also repent of their righteousness.

- Tim Keller, “The Centrality of the Gospel”

Monday, December 14, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Not a task. Not a mission. Not a game plan.

Nothing new can be found inside of us. There is no inner rescuer deep in my soul; I just hear echoes of my own voice telling me all sorts of crazy things to numb my sense of fear, anxiety, and boredom, the origins of which I cannot truly identify.

But the heart of Christianity is Good News. It comes not as a task for us to fulfill, a mission for us to accomplish, a game plan for us to follow with the help of life coaches, but as a report that someone else has already fulfilled, accomplished, followed, and achieved everything for us.

-Michael Horton, The Gospel-Driven Life (Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Books, 2009), pg 20

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

We need a savior

The mood of Advent is that we are all lost. Advent isn't about the "saved" telling the "lost" to "get saved." Advent is a light that dawns in all of our darknesses. Advent is bread for all of our hungers. Advent is the promise kept for all of us promise-breakers, betrayers and failures.

Can we find a way to celebrate Advent as those who NEED to be saved? As those who NEED a savior? Not as those who know for certain that someone else does?


The key to Advent is not living as if we are the people of God and always have been. The key is to live as if we need a Savior, and he has come to us, found us, saved us and is there for everyone in the world.

The mood of Advent isn't "come be religious like us." It is "We are all waiting for our Savior to be born. Let us wait together. And when he comes, let us recognize him, together."

When the day dawns, let us all receive him. We go to the manger and worship. We give to him our gifts. We take his light to the poor.

Until then, we are the poor, the weak, the blind, the lonely, the guilty and the desperate. We light candles because we who are in darkness are in need of a great light. We need a savior.

source: here

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The obedience we have to have and don't have

length: < 2 minutes
(You may have to click play twice)

By John Piper April 20, 2007
The Nature of Saving Faith
ReFocus Conference

Source: here

Sunday, November 29, 2009

When I don’t know up from down, I can at least ask...

On November 27th, a blogger named Jim Palmer asks his readers the following paraphrased question:

"For those of you who want something out of all this God stuff, what is it? In seeking truth, what are you hoping that "getting it" means for you and your life?"

On November 28th, at 2:43 am, a man named Andy attempts to respond to the question of what *IT* is:

Reality. What is. I believe that underlying all I see is something, someOne, I’ve come to know as God. This God has been revealed to me, in Christ — to the best of my understanding — as Love. So, to repeat, what I want is to know and live in Reality.

Right now I’m distracted most of the time by petty stuff. Sometimes I’m attached to things that fit my idea of “good” or “best.” (Some things really are quite good, I think. I don’t think it’s wrong to enjoy the taste of sweet success, or Thai curry or pasta with 40 cloves of garlic in the sauce. Who wouldn’t? Honestly, I think the “best of times” and the “worst of times” point to something more wonderful than I’ve imagined yet. I want to dive in deeply. What I don’t want is to waste my time with meaningless busy-ness, playing with words and mere images (I’m a photographer, and words themselves are images/symbols).

I always come back to “fear is the opposite of love” and “perfect love drives out fear.” When I don’t know up from down, I can at least ask whether it’s fear or love guiding me in this moment.

-- source: here


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

His blood is more than adequate

Sometimes, I think we forget how much of an absolutely inexplicable paradox Jesus and His gospel really are — and I think we too often choose to stay on the boat with our safe and well-defined theological constructs, when Jesus is beckoning us come out and join Him in the dangerous, unpredictable waters of Spirit-led life, where only reliance on Him will keep us from drowning. But the safety of the boat is an illusion. Really, it’s a choice of either trusting Jesus in the here and now or going down with the boat later when self-generated works and will power and intellectual ability and ritual substitutes have all played out and been proven worthless.

I think it comes down to a matter of spiritual geography. “In Christ” and “In the Spirit” are a place we’ve been invited to live and stay, where there is no longer any condemnation or curse of the law. I might go so far as to say that being “in Christ” — believing in Him, trusting in Him, following Him, learning to hear His voice and know His heart and mind, and, in the process, being transformed more and more into His likeness — is the very definition of salvation. It’s what salvation is made of, if you will.

The problem is that while accepting Jesus’s invitation to come live in Him is relatively easy, staying in Him is another matter. The truth is that, in Christ or not, we’re still going to screw up from time to time (or every few seconds), and just like our physical parents, Adam and Eve, our natural inclination is to run and hide, rather than endure the presence of the one who sees into the very bottom of our hearts and minds. But, unlike our worldly parents, Jesus has given us His own blood as our covering — which, unlike the first covering of animal skins, is more than adequate to keep us in a reconciled relationship with Him. We no longer have to face exile from His saving presence because of sin. All we have to do is the opposite of hiding from His presence, which merely involves coming to Him, being real and honest with Him, and accepting His forgiveness. And, even when we do flee from His presence, He’s the kind of shepherd who goes out and pursues straying sheep.

I’m starting to think that much of what this religion we call Christianity has become amounts to substituting other things — be they theological constructs, religious traditions and rituals, or a strict program of good works — for the spiritual reality of being in Christ. And I think part of the reason for this is that we’re still running from that initial, deep-rooted fear and discomfort that all sinful beings experience in His presence — kind of like the way some people obstinately avoid going to the doctor when they’re sick or the dentist when they have a rotten tooth.

Truth be told, we’re probably more like addicts, who invent every kind of excuse why we don’t have a problem and why we don’t need to be changed at the very root of who we are. And we fool ourselves into believing that frequent doses of religion will cure our disease. In a way, we’re still building religious temples and expecting God to come occupy the works of our hands and intellects — all the while God is inviting us to come dwell in Him so that He can dwell in us.

unknown person who made a comment on today's post at

post source: here
comment source: here

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Grace: ... ready to suffer to win its way

To speak of sin by itself, to speak of it apart from the realities of creation and grace, is to forget the resolve of God. God wants shalom and will pay any price to get it back. Human sin is stubborn, but not as stubborn as the grace of God and not half so persistent, not half so ready to suffer to win its way.

- Cornelius Plantinga, "Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be", pg 199


Friday, November 13, 2009

To dance, just because grace is dancing with you

I know nothing except what everyone knows—
if there when Grace dances, I should dance.
-W.H. Auden-

So often, I have confused grace with success or reward—God patting me on the head for something I had done right, or favoring me so that I can do something more. Grace—I’ve too often thought—is all about lightness and luck, about the good feelings I get from being part of God’s plan and God’s work.

The truth is, grace doesn’t come to pat us on the head or bring us success—it isn’t magic or reward, and it is almost never what we expect it to be! Most often, it comes as the presence of God appearing in the locked room of our fear and confusion; it comes as the fire of the Spirit blazing out in the midst of our naïveté; it comes as the strong wind that blows us into uncharted waters—when we foolishly think that we know exactly what we are doing and where we are bound! It comes, most often, as the answer to our most authentic prayers—to our cry for “Help!”—or as a hope hidden in the midst of our most desperate choices. Grace is that partner who pulls us onto the dance floor, even when we don’t know the music, even when we’re not sure how to dance.

This grace doesn’t reduce the dance of life to a few steps, easily learned, but invites each of us to find our own dance, to step out onto the floor of the world with grace as our partner, and be the dancer we are—not quite knowing where to step next, but trusting in the lead of grace and in the music that the world provides.

We miss grace so often, not because it is not there, but because—in all but our most desperate or desperately naïve moments—we are (most of us) terribly preoccupied with ourselves: with how we look and how we stand, with what we have done in the past and what we will do in the future, with our roles and our duties and all our many needs.

When was the last time you danced—not because you were good at it, not because it was appropriate or expected of you, not because it gave you some advantage or made sense, but just because grace was dancing with you?

Let’s confess what we know; let’s allow ourselves the grace we long for to be changed and challenged:

I know nothing, except what everyone knows—
if there when grace dances, I should dance.

The quotes above are excerpts from:

"Called to the Dance of Grace"
An address given by John D. Whitney, S.J.
at the Jesuit Volunteer Corps: NW Annual Dinner
May 19, 2007

source: here

Monday, November 9, 2009

More than just right answers to difficult questions

But I've been trying to stress that the risen Jesus does not say to the disciples, "All authority on heaven and earth is given to the books you chaps are going to go off and write." He says, "All authority on heaven and earth is given to Me." So that if we say that Scripture is authoritative, what we must actually mean is that the authority which is vested in Christ alone is mediated through Scripture. That's a more complicated thing than simply having a book on the shelf, full of right answers that you can go and look up. It's more a way of saying that when we read Scripture and determine to live under it, we are actually saying we want to live under the sovereign lordship of Jesus mediated through this book. When you say it like that, then all sorts of other things happen as a result, like what is the sovereign lordship of Jesus all about? Is it simply to fill our heads with right answers to difficult questions? Well, right answers to difficult questions are better than wrong answers to difficult questions. But no, the authority of Jesus Christ is there to transform and heal and save the world, to make the kingdoms of the world become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ. So the question then is, how does the authority of Scripture serve that purpose? And that's actually much more interesting than simply using Scripture to settle or raise indeed doctrinal disputes within the church.

--N.T Wright

Saturday, November 7, 2009

How God is known

God is never known incidentally or accidentally. He is known in that He makes Himself known.

-- Bernard Ramm

Saturday, October 31, 2009

What the gospel is not

One must distinguish between, on the one hand, the gospel as what God has done ... and, on the other, what is demanded by God or effected by the gospel in assorted human responses.

...The gospel is what God has done, supremely in Christ, and especially focused on his cross and resurrection...

By contrast, the first two greatest commands—to love God with heart and soul and mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves — do not constitute the gospel, or any part of it. We may well argue that when the gospel is faithfully declared and rightly received, it will result in human beings more closely aligned to these two commands. But they are not the gospel.

Similarly, the gospel is not receiving Christ or believing in him, or being converted, or joining a church; it is not the practice of discipleship. Once again, the gospel faithfully declared and rightly received will result in people receiving Christ, believing in Christ, being converted, and joining a local church; but such steps are not the gospel. The Bible can exhort those who trust the living God to be concerned with issues of social justice (Isa 2; Amos); it can tell new covenant believers to do good to all human beings, especially to those of the household of faith (Gal 6);

... We may even argue that some such list of moral commitments is a necessary consequence of the gospel. But it is not the gospel. We may preach through the list, reminding people that the Bible is concerned to tell us not only what to believe but how to live. But we may not preach through that list and claim it encapsulates the gospel...

Failure to distinguish between the gospel and all the effects of the gospel tends, on the long haul, to replace the good news as to what God has done with a moralism that is finally without the power and the glory of Christ crucified, resurrected, ascended, and reigning.

D.A. Carson
source: here

We do not put this together from within ourselves

The point I am making is quite offensive to us today. It is that God hides himself from us, that he cannot be had on our terms, and that he cannot be accessed from “below” through natural revelation. In the malls, and in much of life, we encounter nothing like this. We expect access. We expect to be able to get what we want, when we want it, and on our terms.

Here this is not the case. Here we have to be admitted to God’s presence, on his terms, in his way … or not at all. We cannot simply walk into his presence. Here nature does not itself yield grace. God’s grace comes from the outside, not the inside, from above and not from within. It is not natural to fallen human life. We enter the presence of God as those who have been estranged, not as those who have been in continuity with the sacred simply because we are human. We are brought into a saving relationship through Christ; we do not put this together from within ourselves.

—David F. Wells, The Courage to be Protestant (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 2008), 190

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Instead, He only gives us His Son

All of the churches and movements I was involved in had effectively preached to me an it. Evangelism is an it. The power of God is an it. Eschatology is an it. Christian theology is an it. Christian doctrine is an it. Faith is an it. Apologetics is an it. I made the striking discovery that I don't need an it. I have never needed an it. And I will never need an it. Christian its, no matter how good or true, eventually wear out, run dry, and become tiresome. I don't need an it, I need a Him. And so do you. We do not need things. We need Jesus Christ.

Upon reflection, it seems that many Christians regard salvation, evangelism, peace, power, holiness, joy, service, church practice, ministry, and doctrine as simply Divine "things", all detached from the living Person of Christ and made something in and of themselves. But God never gives us spiritual things. He never gives us virtues, gifts, graces, and truths to acquire. Instead, He only gives us His Son. He gives us Christ to be all things for us. Consequently, Jesus Christ is the embodiment of all spiritual things. He is the substance of all Divine realities. He is the incarnation of all spiritual virtues, graces, gifts, and truths. In short, God has vested all of His fullness into His Son.

--Frank Viola

Saturday, October 24, 2009

This makes believing so hard

When we come to God, we must bring nothing but Christ with us. Any ingredients, or any previous qualifications of our own, will poison and corrupt faith. He that builds upon duties, graces, etc., knows not the merits of Christ. This makes believing so hard, so far above nature. If you believe, you must every day renounce, as dung and dross (Phil 3:7,8), your privileges, your obedience, your baptism, your sanctification, your duties, your graces, your tears, your meltings, your humblings, and nothing but Christ must be held up. Every day your workings and your self-sufficiency must be destroyed. You must take all out of God’s hand. Christ is the gift of God (John 4:10). Faith is the gift of God (Eph 2:8). Pardon is a free gift (Isa 45:22). Ah, how nature storms, frets, rages at this, that all is of gift and it can purchase nothing with its acting and tears and duties, that all workings are excluded, and of no value in heaven.

Honey Out of the Rock by Thomas Wilcox (1621-1687)
source: here

Sunday, October 18, 2009

An unhealthy Protestant preoccupation

One of the unhealthiest features of Protestant theology today is its preoccupation with faith: faith, that is, viewed man-centeredly as a state of existential commitment. Inevitably, this preoccupation diverts thought away from faith's object, even when this is clearly conceived—as too often in modern theology it is not. Though the Reformers said much about faith, even to the point of calling their message of justification "the doctrine of faith," their interest was not of the modern kind. It was not subject-centered but object-centered, not psychological but theological, not anthropocentric but Christocentric. The Reformers saw faith as a relationship, not to oneself, as did Tillich, but to the living Christ of the Bible, and they fed faith in themselves and in others by concentrating on that Christ as the Saviour and Lord by whom our whole life must be determined.

M. Stibbs echoed the Reformers' "object-centered" account of faith with precision when he wrote:

The faith of the individual must be seen as having no value in itself, but as discovering value wholly and solely through movement towards and committal to Christ. It must be seen as simply a means of finding all one's hope outside oneself in the person and work of another; and not in any sense an originating cause or objective ground of justification. For true faith is active only in the man who is wholly occupied with Christ; its practice means that every blessing is received from another. For this reason faith is exclusive and intolerant of company; it is only truly present when any and every contribution towards his salvation on the part of the believer or on the part of the Church is absolutely and unequivocally shut out. Justification must be seen and received as a blessing dependent wholly and exclusively on Christ alone, on what he is and what he has done—a blessing enjoyed simply through being joined directly to him, through finding one's all in him, through drawing one's all from him, without the interposition of any other mediator or mediating channel whatever.

-- Dr. J.I. Packer,
-- A. M. Stibbs
source: here

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Taking God’s work out of his hand?

But, alas! say you, I cannot get away my filthiness; I cannot put away my lusts and idols. Oh! what mean you, poor soul? Do you think to put away your own sin, and take God’s work out of his hand? I tell you, in his great name, he never laid such an intolerable burden upon you; for, the cleansing from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, is harder work than the making of a world. It is only the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.

All your work is to put the work in his hand. Many think they cannot come to Christ, till first they put away all their sin, and give up with all their lusts; but all your pains, before you come to the blood of Christ, will be like pouring oil upon the fire, that will inflame it the more. Therefore, welcome, welcome a promising God, saying, “From all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you;” for I have got clean water in my hand for that purpose: “I have found a ransom.” By the blood of the covenant, I will send forth these prisoners out of the pit wherein there is no water; but here is water enough.

--Ralph Erskine, “Sermon LXXXIII, Clean Water; Or, The Pure And Precious Blood Of Christ For The Cleansing of Polluted Sinners,” The Works of Ralph Erskine, vol. 4, p. 151

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Away with your tools

"If you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stones, for if you wield your tool on it you profane it." (Exodus 20:25)

God’s altar was to be built of unhewn stones, that no trace of human skill or labor might be seen on it. Human wisdom delights to trim and arrange the doctrines of the cross into a system more artificial and more congenial with the depraved tastes of fallen nature; however, instead of improving the gospel, carnal wisdom pollutes it until it becomes another gospel, and not the truth of God at all. All alterations and amendments of the Lord’s own Word are defilements and pollutions.

The proud heart of man is very anxious to have a hand in the justification of the soul before God; preparations for Christ are dreamed of, humblings and repentings are trusted in, good works are cried up, natural ability is much vaunted, and by all means the attempt is made to lift up human tools upon the divine altar. It were well if sinners would remember that so far from perfecting the Saviour’s work, their carnal confidences only pollute and dishonor it. The Lord alone must be exalted in the work of atonement, and not a single mark of man’s chisel or hammer will be endured.

There is an inherent blasphemy in seeking to add to what Christ Jesus in His dying moments declared to be finished, or to improve that in which the Lord Jehovah finds perfect satisfaction. Trembling sinner, away with your tools. Fall on your knees in humble supplication. Accept the Lord Jesus to be the altar of your atonement, and rest in Him alone.

- Charles Spurgeon, Morning by Morning (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2001), 204.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Where my righteousness resides

One day as I was passing into the field, this sentence fell upon my soul: 'Thy righteousness is in heaven.' And with the eyes of my soul I saw Jesus at the Father's right hand. 'There,' I said, 'is my righteousness!' So that wherever I was or whatever I was doing, God could not say to me, 'Where is your righteousness?' For it is always right before him.

I saw that it is not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse, for my righteousness IS Christ. Now my chains fell off indeed. My temptations fled away, and I lived sweetly at peace with God.

Now I could look from myself to him and could reckon that all my character was like the coins a rich man carries in his pocket when all his gold is safe in a trunk at home. Oh I saw that my gold was indeed in a trunk at home, in Christ my Lord. Now Christ was all: my righteousness, sanctification, redemption.

- John Bunyan, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hello, Death, have you come to talk to me again?


Hello, Death, my old enemy. My old slave-master. Have you come to talk to me again? To frighten me?

I am not the person you think I am. I am not the one you used to talk to. Something has happened. Let me ask you a question, Death.

Where is your sting?

DEATH, sneeringly:

My sting is your sin.


I know that, Death. But that’s not what I asked you. I asked, where is your sting? I know what it is. But tell me where it is.

Why are you fidgeting, Death? Why are you looking away? Why are you turning to go? Wait, Death, you have not answered my question. Where is your sting?

Where is, my sin?

What? You have no answer? But, Death, why do you have no answer? How will you terrify me, if you have no answer?

O Death, I will tell you the answer. Where is your sting? Where is my sin? It is hanging on that tree. God made Christ to be sin—my sin. When he died, the penalty of my sin was paid. The power of it was broken. I bear it no more.

Farewell, Death. You need not show up here again to frighten me. God will tell you when to come next time. And when you come, you will be his servant. For me, you will have no sting.

O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

- John Piper, A Conversation with Death on Good Friday

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rejecting the claims of Self altogether

There are three kinds of people in the world. The first class is of those who live simply for their own sake and pleasure, regarding Man and Nature as so much raw material to be cut up into whatever shape may serve them.

In the second class are those who acknowledge some other claim upon them – the will of God, the categorical imperative, or the good of society – and honestly try to pursue their own interests no further than this claim will allow. They try to surrender to the higher claim as much as it demands, like men paying a tax, but hope, like other taxpayers, that what is left over will be enough for them to live on. Their life is divided, like a soldier's or a schoolboy’s life, into time “on parade” and “off parade”, “in school” and “out of school”.

But the third class is of those who can say like St Paul that for them “to live is Christ”. These people have got rid of the tiresome business of adjusting the rival claims of Self and God by the simple expedient of rejecting the claims of Self altogether. The old egoistic will has been turned round, reconditioned, and made into a new thing. The will of Christ no longer limits theirs; it is theirs. All their time, in belonging to Him, belongs also to them, for they are His.

And because there are three classes, any merely twofold division of the world into good and bad is disastrous. It overlooks the fact that the members of the second class (to which most of us belong) are always and necessarily unhappy. The tax which moral conscience levies on our desires does not in fact leave us enough to live on. As long as we are in this class we must either feel guilt because we have not paid the tax or penury because we have. The Christian doctrine that there is no “salvation” by works done to the moral law is a fact of daily experience. Back or on we must go. But there is no going on simply by our own efforts. If the new Self, the new Will, does not come at His own good pleasure to be born in us, we cannot produce Him synthetically.

The price of Christ is something, in a way, much easier than moral effort – it is to want Him. It is true that the wanting itself would be beyond our power but for one fact. The world is so built that, to help us desert our own satisfactions, they desert us. War and trouble and finally old age take from us one by one all those things that the natural Self hoped for at its setting out. Begging is our only wisdom, and want in the end makes it easier for us to be beggars. Even on those terms the Mercy will receive us.

Is this not the heart of Mark 7 and John 3 and Luke 15 and 18:9-14 and so many other statements Jesus makes to the religious elite? And 2 Corinthians 4:6 and 1 John 3:9?

-C. S. Lewis, essay: "Three Kinds of Men"

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Judge yourself at what Christ is

Ah! believer, it is safer always for you to be led of the Spirit into gospel liberty than to wear legal fetters. Judge yourself at what Christ is rather than what you are. Satan will try to mar your peace by reminding you of your sinfulness and imperfections: you can only meet his accusations by faithfully adhering to the Gospel and refusing to wear the yoke of bondage.

- Charles Spurgeon, Morning & Evening, September 6

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ready for the Storm

For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. (2 Cor. 4:6-10)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Why do you call me good?

"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good but God alone."
(Mark 10:18)

Whoever wishes to take up the problem of a Christian ethic must be confronted at once with a demand which is quite without parallel. He must from the outset discard as irrelevant the two questions which, alone, impel him to concern himself with the problem of ethics, "How can I be good?", and "How can I do good?", and instead of these he must ask the utterly and totally different question, "What is the will of God?"

What is of ultimate importance is now no longer that I should become good, or that the condition of the world should be made better by my action, but that the reality of God should show itself everywhere to be the ultimate reality. Where there is faith in God as the ultimate reality, all concern with ethics will have as its starting-point that God shows himself to be good, even if this involves the risk that I myself and the world are not good but thoroughly bad.

The question of good becomes the question of participation in the divine reality which is revealed in Christ. Good is now no longer a valuation of what is, a valuation, for example, of my own being, my outlook or my actions, or of some condition or state in the world. It is no longer a predicate that is assigned to something which is in itself in being. Good is the real itself. It is not the real in the abstract, the real which is detached from the reality of God, but the real which possesses reality only in God. There is no good without the real, for the good is not a general formula, and the real is impossible without the good. The wish to be good consists solely in the longing for what is real in God. A desire to be good for its own sake, as an end in itself, so to speak, or as a vocation in life, falls victim to the irony of unreality. The genuine striving for good now becomes the self -assertiveness of the prig. Good is not in itself an independent theme for life; if it were so it would be the craziest kind of quixotry. Only if we share in reality can we share in good.

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer
"Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Witness to Jesus Christ", pg 233-235

Monday, August 31, 2009

What ultimately persuades us?

Ultimately, I am persuaded of the truth of the Bible by its presentation of Jesus. I cannot explain or unpack this reasoning, for it comes down to an encounter with a person. Those who are Christians know well what I mean. You know what it is like to see no evidence of God in the world, in the church or in the mangled mess of your own heart, yet to be drawn powerfully after the Jesus of the scriptures. You know what it is like for Christians to act completely contrary to anything resembling Jesus, and to be sickened by their mistreatment of people in the name of God, yet to know that you cannot abandon Jesus himself as flawed, because you know the resemblance between Jesus and those who claim to follow Him is superficial at best.

The portrait of Jesus in the four Gospels towers above the paltry whinings of modernists, the thrown pebbles of critics and the repeated foibles of a scandalous church. Jesus is not the creation of any person or any tradition. He alone, of all the versions of a human soul, radiates the undoubtable evidence of “God with us” that other spiritual leaders only hint at. Jesus alone defies categorization and trivialization. He towers over history, culture and the human heart. This is no portrait of human longing or an exercise in wishful thinking about what we might become. This Jesus is, as John said, the Word made flesh.

There is simply no one like Jesus. And all the lofty things that might be said about him cannot begin to explain why one doubting soul will repeatedly choose to place his life’s hope of meaning in a person that lived two thousand years ago; a person who communicates unconditional love through his brutal death on a cross. Jesus is, ultimately, a mystery. We can point to him, and point to his cross, but each person must walk to that cross alone and choose whether this is a meaningless, pointless execution, or God saving the very world that despises Him.

-- Michael Spencer
source: here

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Grace is not transactional, it's participatory

How do we swim in grace? How do we live into our hope in such a way that we're actually bringing forth fruit? This is very difficult to talk about, very difficult to teach. What we tend to do, then, is thin grace out a bit. We try to make grace a bit more manageable. We talk the language of grace, we talk about being loved unconditionally, but when it comes to the Christian life, we reduce grace to being something transactional, rather than something participatory.

This quote, and the ones that follow, are paraphrases from a talk that I found to be very meaningful to me. It's the keynote address at an event called: Christian Connections- "Living Into Our Hope", by Dr. Cynthia Rigby, in October 2006.

You can find the audio at: this location for now. (The website has been redone and they have taken away such old links, but the file remains.)

I know the talk is long (about an hour), but I invite you to listen, firmly believing that the cost in time is worth it. Perhaps the snippets below will draw you better than I:

Good theology is often very impractical. This grace thing is extremely impractical. It's easy to identify with the elder son in Luke chapter fifteen. In his view, forget grace, we're doing things right if we do our job, and expect others to respond accordingly. That's what he says to his father, "I've always done everything, and you've never given me the calf, never given me the party." ... transactional. And the father, totally impractical, answers his son, "My son I am always with you, and you are always with me, don't you know that everything I have is yours." ... participatory.

When we turn grace into a transaction, we see it as God giving us something really really wonderful, really really great, really really big. God treating us much better than we deserve, God being wonderfully kind. Now that's something that make's sense. God was wonderfully kind to us, the least you can do is be a little kind to other people. God has given us so much, the least you could do is give a little bit back in return. And we turn the Christian life, living into hope, which is participatory, into a response to hope that is transactional. Our response to God's wonderful kindness gets reduced to lobbying little thank-you gifts back to God.

So the Christian life, rather than being about sacrifice, becomes about stretching a little. Stretching a lot even ... "Do your best, and God will take care of the rest". But that is not what grace is about. What grace is about is us being able to do nothing, but doing all things in Him who strengthens us. Not about giving a little back, but about us surrendering all that we are.

Our calling, when it comes to a Christo-centric understanding of grace, is to give, not in response to something in an obligatory fashion, but because of who we are. I give as an out-pouring of who I was created to be. That's what it is to be a living sacrifice, to abide in Christ, to live into my identity as one who is Christ's workmanship, created in Him for good works that God prepared for me in advance as by way of life.

When I know my baptismal identity, when I know that I'm a child of God, then that surplus grace, that hope, flows over into works, and I act on your behalf and serve you, not because I'm obligated to, but because I AM with and for you. When I know that God isn't just doing things for me...

(... God gave me grace.)
(... God will reward my efforts.)

... But rather God *IS* with me and for me ... When I know that, it flows over into my relationship to you, so my acts of service aren't simply thank-you cards back to God. This is real freedom. Freedom is when there's no longer any conflict between what we do and who we are. But who we are spills over into what we do.

To take seriously our baptism in Him, dying to self, and being raised up, is an incredible risk because it means we really buy that God has entered fully into existence with us, and knows us, and loves us. And the more you contemplate it, the more that you realize what's going on here is not a transaction at all, but something that demands everything.

To jump into the water of grace is not to stand at the periphery of the garden when Jesus says come and pray with me, but it's to participate with Him. To jump into that water is not to stand at the periphery where one is safe, where one can say to our Lord, "Oh Lord, can you take care of that for me?, I promise to send you lots of thank-you cards", but it is to be awakened, and to actually walk over with Him and to kneel with Him, and to participate in His suffering, to participate in His mission.

This risk of grace is knowing there is no escape from God. If there is no escape from God, it means that I'm constantly being undone by the message of the gospel. It means that resurrection isn't only a future reality, but it's also an every day experience. In Christ we are new creations, not tweaked creations. New creations, the old has fallen away, the new has come. Living sacrifices. We're constantly being undone. Undone by the transforming power of the living word. Living into hope is about constantly submitting. Submitting.... offering ourselves as sacrifices. Submitting to that Word that isn't just up there doing some things for us, and we can do some things in return.

You can go through the examples in scripture of people who are trying to work it all out in transactional ways. And Jesus is always pulling the rug out from under them. (I've kept every one of the commandments since the day I was born, and now what do I need to do.) Jesus is always pulling the rug out because what Jesus cares about is relationship with them, not them managing it all. Was Jesus giving the rich young ruler an eleventh commandment? No. Jesus was saying that in relationship to Him, as a disciple, everything has to go. You're going to be undone. You're going to be remade. Not tweaking ... remade.

The reason we don't jump into that water, and live in the pool of grace, is because we risk something else. And it has to do with what grace reveals about us. To jump into that pool is to risk believing that we are valuable. That we are precious. That we are loved by the one who loves us unconditionally. And that is just too much for us to bear. You see, if I stay at the edge of the garden, I can keep doing things to try and show gratitude. I don't have to realize that I'm loved for who I am and not for what I do.

The cost to us as those who live into hope: The cost to us is first our pride ... (I'm going to hold on to enough of myself and let God "tweak" me.) Remember the song that goes: "melt me, mold me, cleanse me, fill me, use me". We're all okay with being filled and being used, right. But are we okay with being melted and molded? No, not really.

The cost of jumping into the water of grace, in knowing that we are Christ's workmanship ... is the letting go of our own self judgment. We say that we trust Jesus as Lord ...(he's taken care of the big stuff, I'm going to heaven), but in my relation to my day to day life, I will judge myself. I will wallow in my sins. When we let go of self judgment, the fact of Christ's Lordship frees me from being the Lord of my own life.

-- Direct link to mp3 source is: Here

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Something from nothing

Why is there something at all?
The orb spins and my lungs exhale
and child sways back to this part of the solar system
and he takes my hand
and why is there all this something
instead of nothing?

Once I read these words from Romans
and dropped the Bible:

"... the God who gives life to the dead
and who creates something out of nothing"
(Ro. 4:17 NCV).

Who dares hold Words that can do that?
Word that makes something out of nothing.

Spirit-Word takes nothing, the dead and the void,
and breathes something into the black cavities...
the life and the color.

That's why I leave the Bible on the shelf too often.
I am scared to resurrect.

Terrified that me,
in all my tattered nothingness,
might be made into something.
It's the case of the Emperor's new clothes,
us with a terrible inkling we're wearing nothing
but too proud to call it a sham.
We parade about like we're something,
but we know, we know.

It's safer to play the walking dead.
Safer to drop the Book -- never pick it up --
the Nothings playing Somethings,
than let the Word make our nothing into something.

Some days I get so bone weary of the nothing,
I get brave enough to call it what it is,
wail the truth: I have nothing on.

I am nothing. And He's ready -- if I'll take it --
He's ready to tilt back a day that's a fat zero,
a life that's a bland emptiness,
a purpose that's a hollow blank,
and breathe Living Letters into the larynx,
flood the bronchi with oxygen.

I look around at the world.
Why is there something instead of nothing?
Am I ready to be something from nothing?

Word of God, speak.

--Ann Voskamp
source: here

The great thing to remember

The great thing to remember is that we go up to Jerusalem to fulfill God's purpose, not our own. Naturally, our ambitions are our own; in the Christian life we have no aim of our own. There is so much said to-day about our decisions for Christ, our determination to be Christians, our decisions for this and that, but in the New Testament it is the aspect of God's compelling that is brought out. "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you." We are not taken up into conscious agreement with God's purpose, we are taken up into God's purpose without any consciousness at all. We have no conception of what God is aiming at, and as we go on it gets more and more vague. God's aim looks like missing the mark because we are too short-sighted to see what He is aiming at. At the beginning of the Christian life we have our own ideas as to what God's purpose is-'I am meant to go here or there'; 'God has called me to do this special work'; and we go and do the thing, and still the big compelling of God remains. The work we do is of no account, it is so much scaffolding compared with the big coming of God. "He took unto Him the twelve," He takes us all the time. There is more than we have got at as yet.

--Oswald Chambers

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Dead to the Law

So we die to the law in union with Christ when He dies. And in this union we have a new partner who is alive ... He's not a list! ... He's alive and He's in us, and He loves us. He's all over us. He's for us. He's power within, not pressure from without. And He's sweet and He's all satisfying and nothing compares to Him. And out of that union of us with our living, loving, all glorious, all satisfying Christ comes offspring, or fruit, called obedience.

Love, service, sacrifice, Christ-likeness ... Like fruit it comes, on a vine, not like tinsel on a tree. So many people try to do the christian life without knowing these things, experiencing these things, and the best they can do is take tinsel and put it on the tree of their lives. The tinsel of bible reading, and the tinsel of prayer, and the tinsel of going to church, and the tinsel of not committing adultery, and the tinsel of voting right. It has zero to do with Christianity. It's not Christianity.

-- John Piper
Sermon, (Audio version)
Dead To The Law, Serving In The Spirit - Part 1 (01-28-01)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Confession and Absolution

Confession turns out to be something other than we thought. It is not the admission of a mistake which, thank God and our better nature, we have finally recognized and corrected. Rather it is the admission that we are dead in our sins - that we have no power of ourselves either to save ourselves or to convince anyone else that we are worth saving. It is the recognition that our whole life is finally and forever out of our hands and that if we ever live again, our life will be entirely the gift of some gracious other.

When God pardons, he does not say he understands our weakness or makes allowances for our errors; rather he disposes of, he finishes with, the whole of our dead life and raises us up with a new one. He does not so much deal with our derelictions as he does drop them down the black hole of Jesus' death. He forgets our sins in the darkness of the tomb. He remembers our iniquities no more in the oblivion of Jesus' expiration. He finds us, in short, in the desert of death, not in the garden of improvement; and in the power of Jesus' resurrection, he puts us on his shoulders rejoicing and brings us home.

--Robert Farrar Capon, "Kingdom, Grace, Judgment", p. 187-188

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Prodigal Son

So the youngest son gets the money and the older brother gets the farm. And off the younger brother goes. What he does, of course, is he spends it all—blows it all—on wild living. When he finally is in want and working, slopping hogs for a farmer and wishing that he could eat what he’s feeding the pigs, he can’t stand it. When he finally comes to himself he says, “You know, I’ve got to do something. How many hired servants of my father’s are there who have bread enough to spare and I’m perishing here with hunger? I know what I’m going to do.”

Almost every preacher makes this the boy’s repentance. It’s not his repentance. This is just one more dumb plan for his life. He says, “I will go to my father and I will say, ‘Father, I’ve sinned against heaven and before you.’” That’s true. He got that one right. “And I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.” Score two. He gets that one right. But the next thing he says is dead wrong. He says, “Make me one of your hired servants.” He knows—he thinks he knows—he can’t go back as a dead son, and therefore he says, “I will now go back as somebody who can earn my father’s favor again.

What happens next is that the father is now sitting on the front porch of the farm house. He’s sitting there and he sees the Prodigal, the younger boy, coming down the road from far away. He sees him coming. What does he do? He rushes off the porch, runs a half mile down the road, throws his arms around the boy’s neck and kisses him.

Now, this is all that Jesus does with this scene. The fascinating thing in this parable is that in the whole parable the father never says one single word to the Prodigal Son. Jesus makes the embrace, the kiss, do the whole story of saying, “I have found my son.” The fascinating thing also is that when the father embraces the boy who has come home from wasting his life, the boy never gets his confession out of his mouth until after the kiss, until after the embrace.

Nobody can earn forgiveness. The Prodigal knows he’s a dead son. He can’t come home as a son, and yet in his father’s arms he rises from the dead and then he is able to come to his father’s side.

--Robert Farrar Capon

These are snippets from a slightly longer article that is worth reading: here

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

From this truth I have rebelled

The title of this post is a line from a poem I found:

Old Bucket

All my life I’ve carried things.
So many falls so many springs.

Frosty mornings, cooler eves.
Boots below me kicking leaves.

Crooked handle, dented in.
Squeaks against the rusted tin.

Target practice, I’ve been there.
Years in barns with not a care.

Rediscovered, then re-used.
Refilled, hammered, and abused.

From this truth I have rebelled.
I’ve carried nothing. I was held.

Source: here

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Incarnation

The incarnation is the complete refutation of every human system and institution that claims to control, possess and distribute God. Whatever any church or religious leader may claim in regard to their particular access to God or control over my experience of God, the incarnation is the last word: God loves the world. God has come into the world in the form of those of us who bear God’s fingerprints and live in God’s world. God has come to all of us in Jesus. The incarnation is not owned, controlled or distributed by a church. It belongs to every human being. In Jesus, God comes to every one of us with no one else and nothing else in between. The incarnation is not being sold or downloaded. It is a gracious gift to every person everywhere, religious or not.

source: here

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Source: here

I had a remarkable experience of forgiveness last week. I was simply horrible to someone very dear to me and I was horrified. I hadn't acted that way toward someone in many years (if ever), and worse yet, it was toward someone I have only known a short while. I had no past hurts to draw upon to justify my action, nothing I could point to that would mitigate the offense. It was pure and simple meanness that came solely and completely from me, unprovoked and undeserved.

I rarely get upset or treat my friends badly, but when I am hurt I can be very nasty. It is only after this very unique experience where there was not any harm done or even intended that I realize I have forgotten a big piece of forgiveness, the undeserved and unmerited nature of it.

With so many of my friends and family forgiveness has become routine. Its weight and significance lessened because I have turned it into a quid pro quo rather than forgiveness. Instead of wiping the slate clean, the scales are balanced. Instead of loving, I am enduring. I start to think that I deserve to be forgiven because others are wronging me.

This is not the love or the forgiveness that God offers us through the merit of Jesus. There is never wrong done to me by God and there is always wrong done by me to God. Yet I am forgiven. The slate is wiped clean, my relationship is restored, and I am loved, declared a son of God, an heir with Jesus. I am not overwhelmed by anxiety wondering when I will go too far and sin too much and step outside the bounds of God’s forgiveness…I am simply forgiven. Loved.

This reality crushes me to the core, but I am distracted by my feeble imitation of “forgiveness.” And yet, there are moments like this past week when I am reminded of what I have actually been given and I can scarcely breathe. I am overwhelmed by love, by forgiveness, by grace.

So thank you K. for your inspired forgiveness and grace.

--Kris Opat
Source: here

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

While we were yet without strength

Now do not aim at great things. Be satisfied to have a faith that can hold in its hand this one truth, "While we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." (Rom 5:6) He laid down His life for men while as yet they were not believing in Him, nor were able to believe in Him. He died for men, not as believers, but as sinners. He came to make these sinners into believers and saints; but when He died for them He viewed them as utterly without strength. ... It is not great faith, but true faith, that saves; and the salvation lies not in the faith, but in the Christ in whom faith trusts.

- C.H. Spurgeon, "All of Grace", pp 74-75.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Good News - Did you know about this?

Back in February of 2007, The Internet Monk wrote about his dad:

My dad grew up in a large family, and his younger brother became a very popular preacher. There was a lot of Appalachian mountain religion in him: emotional, fatalistic, mysterious, full of a God that couldn’t really be known or loved, but had to be dealt with anyway. He was converted, but he also left his first wife and family, living for years in shame, anger and dread over what that kind of failure meant. He wrestled with whether he was a Christian, and always wept at prayer. (Hearing my dad pray at night before he went to bed is a memory that always stays with me, especially knowing he was praying for me.)

The above quote is really just an introductory snippet. This post is really meant to point you to the full story (not long): HERE


Friday, June 5, 2009

An Either-Or, not a Both-And

Either sin is with you, lying on your shoulders, or it is lying on Christ, the Lamb of God. Now if it is lying on your back, you are lost; but if it is resting on Christ, you are free, and you will be saved. Now choose what you want.

-Martin Luther


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

He is the Way

It's easier to go through a legal transaction. It's easier to find a tidy little world where Republicans are right and Democrats are wrong. It's easier to follow a leader as if he were the mouthpiece of God. It's easier to fight for one's favorite social justice issue, or follow the latest revival trail. I swear, it's easier to write a one-thousand page systematic theology book than it is to walk down the dirty unkept path of Love.

He is the real narrow road, the one that is almost hard to see because it's so little, so unassuming. It's the humble little dirt path that follows a small gurgling stream, and it is the Way we are called to walk. This is the stuff of following Christ. Simple. Very very simple. We grow in love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness and self-control. We grow because the God in us grows us in those things and we don't fight Him, or, at least, we try not to.

-- Source: here

Thursday, May 28, 2009

So simple a child could understand

God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full - there's nowhere for Him to put it.

-St. Augustine

Monday, May 25, 2009

Deep desire harnessed by patient trust

Contentment is not wanting less; that's the easy way out. Anybody can look holy if he's killed his heart; the real test is to have your heart burning within you and have the patience to enjoy what there is now to enjoy, while waiting with eager anticipation for the feast to come.

--John Eldridge


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Abiding - weakness entrusting itself to another

...[Of those] who shrink back continually before the question: Is it possible, a life of unbroken fellowship with the Savior? ...

How little such dear souls know about this life. They don't realize that abiding in Christ is meant for the weak and is beautifully suited to their frailty. It is not the doing of some great thing and does not demand that we first lead a very holy and devoted life. No, it is simply weakness entrusting itself to a Mighty One to be kept - the unfaithful one casting himself on One who is altogether trustworthy and true. Abiding in Him is not a work that we have to do as the condition for enjoying His salvation, but rather a consenting to let Him do all for us, in us, and through us. It is a work He does for us as the fruit and the power of His redeeming love. Our part is simply to yield, to trust, and to wait for what he has promised to perform.

-- Andrew Murray, "Abide in Christ", chapter 3, "Trusting Him to Keep You"

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Resurrection does not mean get on with your life

The nine lepers in this story are like the prodigal son was when he formulated the first version of his confession to his father. Like him - as he sits by the hog trough in the far country - they realize they are dead. But also like him, their idea of resurrection is just a matter of revival, of return to some form of ordinary life. The prodigal makes plans to get himself hired on as a servant; the nine lepers, possibly, propose to go back to the garment district and and find work as pressers.

The Samaritan leper, however, is like the prodigal son when he makes his confession the second time and leaves off the part about "make me a hired servant." For just as the prodigal suddenly sees - when his father kisses him before he confesses - that he can only be a dead son who has been raised to a new life, not a hired hand trying to fake out an old-style life of his own, so the Samaritan realizes that it is by his relationship to Jesus, and by that alone, that he now has a new life out of death as a leper. It is not, you see, that either of them is told to forget about the death out of which he has been raised, or to put it behind him, or to "get on with his life." That is what the nine lepers, and the prodigal in his first self-examination, had in mind - and it is, unfortunately, what far too many Christians think about their risen life in Jesus.

-- Robert Farrar Capon, "Kingdom, Grace, Judgement", pg 324-325
(referencing the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19)

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Portrait of the Christian as a Middle Aged Man

Youth is the period in which a man can be hopeless. The end of every episode is the end of the world. But the power of hoping through everything, the knowledge that the soul survives its adventures, that great inspiration comes to the middle-aged.

-G. K. Chesterton


Thursday, April 30, 2009

Amazing Grace

"Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue." -Eugene O'Neill

"Grace is but glory begun, and glory is but grace perfected." -Jonathan Edwards

"As the grace grows nearer my theology is growing strangely simple, and it begins and ends with Christ as the only Savior of the lost." -Henry Benjamin Whipple


Monday, April 13, 2009


The true way to be humble is not to stoop till thou art smaller than thyself, but to stand at thy real height against some higher nature that will show thee what the real smallness of thy greatness is.

--Phillips Brooks


Saturday, April 11, 2009


To live a disciplined life is to live in such a way that you want only to be where God is with you.

--Henri Nouwen


Friday, April 10, 2009

Not a Dispenser

The Bible does not teach that Christ has salvation and dispenses it like a benevolent master giving gifts to his servants who obey him. Christ is our salvation and gives Himself to us as our salvation. He is our life; He is our strength; He is our peace; He is our joy; He is our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.

-George W. Peters,
A Biblical Theology of Missions (Chicago: Moody Press, 1972), 65

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What God Hath Joined Together

With a weak faith and a fearful heart, many a sinner stands before the Lord. It is not the strength of our faith, but the perfection of Christ's sacrifice that saves! No feebleness of faith, nor dimness of eye, no trembling of hand can change the efficacy of Christ's blood. The strength of our faith can add nothing to it, nor can the weakness of our faith take anything from Him. Faith (weak or strong) still reads the promise, "the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." If at times my eye is so dim that I cannot read these words, through blinding tears or bewildering trials, faith rests itself on the certain knowledge of the fact that THE PROMISE IS THERE, and the blood of Christ remains in all its power and suitableness upon the altar, unchanged and unaffected. God says that the believer is justified. What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

-Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)


Monday, April 6, 2009

He is Enough

Eventually we must learn that we have everything in Christ already. That thing called "patience" that we are so diligently seeking is not a thing at all, it is Christ. "Victory" is no longer a "thing", it is a Man. And so it is with everything else we need. It is certainly possible to seek spiritual blessings from God apart from Christ, or in addition to Christ. What a difference it makes to realize that He HAS (past tense) blessed us already - not with three or five or twenty blessings - but with every spiritual blessing. However many there may be, we have them all. Where and how has He done this? Thank God, it was done the moment we received Christ and entered into Him as our All in All. God would have us seek Him first, and not His things. To Him there is no "thing", for they are all summed up into Christ.

--Chip Brogden


Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Point is to Live

Do not now seek answers which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. The point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. Take whatever comes with great trust.

-- Rainer Maria Rilke, "Letters to a Young Poet"


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jesus is the Message

Jesus Christ is not just gentle, He is gentleness.
He is not just kind, He is kindness.
He is not just a peacemaker, He is peace.
He is not just truthful, He is Truth.

. . .

If Jesus is the beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega, why look for another beginning, why fear the end?

source: here

One last thought from me that perhaps relates. The book of Hebrews begins this way:

"In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days has spoken to us by a Son ..."

One way to read this is that Jesus was the messenger. Another, more subtle way to read this is that Jesus was the message. See the difference?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

It's Grace We Need Help Understanding

Sometimes, in an effort to remind people of the cost of the cross, we withhold grace until we are sure they understand their sin. But it's in giving of our grace that we remind people they need to go to Jesus to find their own.

People understand their sin without our help. It's grace they need help understanding.

The quote above was taken from this video:

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Jesus as Deliverer

Understood properly, the Christian doctrine of sin is a vision of wholeness, and Dante represents this tradition at its best. He does not label people as evil because they've fallen short of some ill-conceived, perfectionist goal. Dante's understanding of sin is far more subtle than that, and more humane. These days, we are likely to say to people struggling with addiction or mental illness that their hope lies in a perpetual state of recovery. Imagine for a moment that this is much more severe than anything Dante, or the desert monks, for that matter, had in mind. Their ultimate concern was how, as we deepen our relationship with God, we become more free to love, and more free to choose the good. The idea that one would be defined forever by one's sin or sickness would have seemed to them excessively cruel, more likely to engender hopelessness than hope.

Kathleen Norris, "Acedia & Me", pg 204-205

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Poor Player

Grace changes my perspective on the game. It is what it is, but grace is a greater thing, a deeper, more beautiful thing. I must be careful not to become a fan of the game and forget why I’m here at all. I must remember that the Kingdom of God is not a matter of rules and morals and taking stands in the public square, but of righteousness and joy and the Holy Spirit. I’m not called to be a trophy Christian, but to be a trophy of his grace.

-- Taken from a post this weekend on The Internet Monk blog


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

We have this treasure in earthen vessels

We are vessels - containers of the life of God. But we are not the contents of the vessel. God is. The frustration of the vessel is when the vessel tries to become the contents. You can't be both the vessel holding (expressing) the life of God and at the same time try to be the life of God. Only He is the life. Only He can live the life through you. Your eternal purpose is not to become the contents of the vessel. Your eternal purpose is to be the vessel, to let the life flow out of you.

--Dan Stone pg. 113, "The Rest of the Gospel"


Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Passover Lamb

God is showing us here that the lamb they used for blood on the doorpost was the same lamb they ate for the journey. In other words, everything that is necessary for living the life comes from the lamb. It isn't that the lamb dies for and then you're sent out to do the rest on your own (with His help,of course). The lamb is the total answer. The lamb that gave its blood for them also gave its life to them. They took its meat into them, and that became their nourishment, strength, and vitality for the journey. They lived their life out of the lamb's life. They walked in its energy. They killed one lamb for two purposes: for the Passover and for the walk.

--Dan Stone pg. 58, "The Rest of the Gospel"


Saturday, February 7, 2009

By Faith, Not By Sight

I hear men praying everywhere for more faith, but when I listen to them carefully, and get to the real heart of their prayer, very often it is not more faith at all that they are wanting, but a change from faith to sight. Faith says not, "I see that it is good for me, so God must have sent it," but, "God sent it, and so it must be good for me." Faith, walking in the dark with God, only prays Him to clasp its hand more closely.

--Phillips Brooks (1835-1893)


Thursday, February 5, 2009

In Others Words

Sometimes a person can best share ideas that are important to him by relying on the words of others. Over time, it is hoped that the words shared here will paint a more subtle and intricate portrait than words of my own ever could.

In most cases, I will not attempt to explain the quotes I find to share here. For this blog, my intentions are best served by just "putting it out there". Frequently, I will be quoting very ordinary sources, such as a personal blog entry of nobody in particular. It should be made clear that just because I find a quote worthy of sharing on this blog, that does not mean that I'm implying that the author's broader views or interpretations should be subscribed to.

You are welcomed to ask questions and share in the comments. And I will try to be as interactive and transparent as I can in my responses.