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