Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Here and Now

“Much thought has at its root a dissatisfaction with what is. Wanting is the urge for the next moment to contain what this moment does not. When there’s wanting in the mind, that moment feels incomplete. Wanting is seeking elsewhere. Completeness is being right here.”
~Stephen Levine

“…one of the best ways that our faith expresses itself is by our ability to be still, to be present, and not to panic or lose perspective. God still does His best work in the most difficult of circumstances. The Spirit is more powerful than the will, more powerful than the flesh, more powerful than pain, more powerful than guilt, even more powerful than our weakness and our doubt.

We can experience the living Christ here and now, and our difficult circumstances will be the very opportunity for our faith to grow.”
~Tim Hansel

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Farewell, Age 10

While its owner looks away I touch the rabbit.
Its long soft ears fold back under my hand.
Miles of yellow wheat bend; their leaves
rustle away and wait for the sun and wind.

This day belongs to my uncle. This is his farm.
We have stopped on our journey; when my father says to
we will go on, leaving this paradise, leaving
the family place. We have my father's job.

Like him, I will be strong all my life.
We are men. If we squint our eyes in the sun
we will see far. I'm ready. It's good, this resolve.
But I will never pet the rabbit again.
~William Stafford

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Therapy for Fear

“When you feel afraid, look at the very first thing you see, right there in front of you: some small thing like a stone or a finger or a bug. Look at it, don’t just think about looking at it. Really look. Take time. Take a whole minute.

And listen. You might hear something in it or behind it whispering some big secret to your big secret mind, some secret of which it is one of the billions of messengers, the secret of a beauty bigger than the universe, of which everything is a tiny part, including this little thing right in front of you.

Now this thing you are afraid of, this, too, is a little thing. And so are you.

God loves little things and takes care of them. Sparrows, hairs from your head.

He is bigger. He is stronger.”
~Peter Kreeft

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Abraham (Part 4 of 4 – The Way of Renunciation)

“If we would indeed know God in growing intimacy, we must go this way of renunciation. And if we are set upon the pursuit of God, He will sooner or later bring us to this test. Abraham’s testing was, at the time, not known to him as such, yet if he had taken some course other than the one he did, the whole history of the Old Testament would have been different. God would have found His man, no doubt, but the loss to Abraham would have been tragic beyond the telling. So we will be brought one by one to the testing place, and we may never know when we are there. At that testing place there will be no dozen possible choices for us – just one and an alternative – but our whole future will be conditioned by the choice we make.

Father, I want to know Thee, but my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
~A. W. Tozer

Reflection:
“This selection from Tozer is one of my favorite passages in all his writings. Somehow he makes Abraham’s dilemma live for me. I think the key is that he never allows me off the hook. Under Tozer’s watchful eye I cannot read the Abraham story at arm’s length. He refuses to let me say, in effect, ‘I’m certainly glad that I’m not in Abraham’s shoes!’ No, Tozer presses me into the story, declaring, ‘You are in Abraham’s shoes. God is asking you to sacrifice your most prized possession. What will you answer?’ That is how his writing affects me.

…Tozer calls our perennial passion to posses, ‘the self-life.’ In another of his writings he expands on this idea. Here he uses the metaphor of the veil in the Holy of Holies to describe for us ‘the veil in our hearts…the close-woven veil of the self-life.’ His powers of description are so telling that they cannot be improved upon. Listen. ‘It is woven of the fine threads of the self-life, the hyphenated sins of the human spirit. They are not something we do, they are something we are, and therein lies both their subtlety and their power.’

‘To be specific, the self-sins are these: self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love and a host of others like them …Self is the opaque veil that hides the Face of God from us …We must bring our self-sins to the cross for judgment. We must prepare ourselves for an ordeal of suffering in some measure like that through which our Savior passed when He suffered under Pontius Pilate.’ This is Tozer at his best calling us to the obedience of the cross life, which he reminds us is ‘the blessedness of possessing nothing.’”

~Richard Foster

Friday, March 27, 2009

Abraham (Part 3 of 4 – Surrendered Love)

“The old man of God lifted his head to respond to the Voice, and stood there on the mount strong and pure and grand, a man marked out by the Lord for special treatment, a friend and favorite of the Most High. Now he was a man wholly surrendered, a man utterly obedient, a man who possessed nothing. He had concentrated his all in the person of his dear son, and God had taken it from him. God could have begun out on the margin of Abraham’s life and worked inward to the center. He chose rather to cut quickly to the heart and have it over in one sharp act of separation. In dealing thus, He practiced an economy of means and time. It hurt cruelly, but it was effective.

I have said that Abraham possessed nothing. Yet was not this poor man rich? Everything he had owned before was his still to enjoy: sheep, camels, herds, and goods of every sort. He had also his wife and his friends, and best of all he had his son Isaac safe by his side. He had everything, but he possessed nothing. There is the spiritual secret. There is the sweet theology of the heart which can be learned only in the school of renunciation. The books on systematic theology overlook this, but the wise will understand.

After that bitter and blessed experience I think the words my and mine never again had the same meaning for Abraham. The sense of possession which they connote was gone from his heart. Things had been cast out forever. They had now become external to the man. His inner heart was free from them. The world said, ‘Abraham is rich,’ but the aged patriarch only smiled. He could not explain it, but he knew that he owned nothing, that his real treasures were inward and eternal…”
~A. W. Tozer

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Abraham (Part 2 of 4 – Obedient Love)

“How should he slay the lad! Even if he could get the consent of his wounded and protesting heart, how could he reconcile the act with the promise, ‘In Isaac shall thy seed be called’? This was Abraham’s trial by fire, and he did not fail in the crucible. While the stars still shone like sharp white points above the tent where the sleeping Isaac lay, and long before the gray dawn had begun to lighten the east, the old saint had made up his mind. He would offer his son as God had directed him to do, and then trust God to raise him from the dead. This, says the writer to the Hebrews, was the solution his aching heart found sometime in the dark night, and he rose ‘early in the morning’ to carry out the plan. It is beautiful to see that, while he erred as to God’s method, he had correctly sensed the secret of His great heart. And the solution accords well with the New Testament Scripture ‘Whosoever will lose for my sake shall find.’

God let the suffering old man go through with it up to the point where He knew there would be no retreat, and then forbade him to lay a hand upon the boy. To the wondering patriarch He now says in effect, ‘It’s all right, Abraham. I never intended that you should actually slay the lad. I only wanted to remove him from the temple of your heart that I might reign unchallenged there. I wanted to correct the perversion that existed in your love. Now you may have the boy, sound and well. Take him and go back to your tent. Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing that thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me.’

Then heaven opened and a voice was heard saying to him, ‘By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice’ (Gen. 22:16-18)."
~A. W. Tozer

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Abraham (Part 1 of 4 – Uncleansed Love)

“Abraham was old when Isaac was born, old enough indeed to have been his grandfather, and the child became at once the delight and idol of his heart. From the moment he first stooped to take the tiny form awkwardly in his arms, he was an eager love slave of his son. God went out of His way to comment on the strength of this affection. And it is not hard to understand. The baby represented everything sacred to his father’s heart: the promises of God, the covenants, the hopes of the years and the long messianic dream. As he watched him grow from babyhood to young manhood, the heart of the old man was knit closer and closer with the life of his son, till at last the relationship bordered upon the perilous. It was then that God stepped in to save both father and son from the consequences of an uncleansed love.

‘Take now thy son,’ said God to Abraham, ‘thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of’ (Gen. 22:2). The sacred writer spares us the close-up of the agony that night on the slopes near Beersheba when the aged man had it out with his God, but respectful imagination may view in awe the bent form wrestling convulsively alone under the stars. Possibly not again until One greater than Abraham wrestled in the Garden of Gethsemane did such mortal pain visit a human soul. If only the man himself might have been allowed to die. That would have been a thousand times easier, for he was old now, and to die would have been no great ordeal for one who had walked so long with God. Besides, it would have been a last, sweet pleasure to let his dimming vision rest upon the figure of his stalwart son who would live to carry on the Abrahamic line and fulfill in himself the promises of God made long before in Ur of the Chaldees.”
~A. W. Tozer

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Have You Ever Been Carried Away For God?

"She hath wrought a good work on Me." Mark 14:6

If human love does not carry a man beyond himself, it is not love. If love is always discreet, always wise, always sensible and calculating, never carried beyond itself, it is not love at all. It may be affection, it may be warmth of feeling, but it has not the true nature of love in it.

Have I ever been carried away to do something for God not because it was my duty, nor because it was useful, nor because there was anything in it at all beyond the fact that I love Him? Have I ever realized that I can bring to God things which are of value to Him, or am I mooning round the magnitude of His Redemption whilst there are any number of things I might be doing? Not Divine, colossal things which could be recorded as marvellous, but ordinary, simple human things which will give evidence to God that I am abandoned to Him? Have I ever produced in the heart of the Lord Jesus what Mary of Bethany produced?

There are times when it seems as if God watches to see if we will give Him the abandoned tokens of how genuinely we do love Him. Abandon to God is of more value than personal holiness. Personal holiness focuses the eye on our own whiteness; we are greatly concerned about the way we walk and talk and look, fearful lest we offend Him. Perfect love casts out all that when once we are abandoned to God. We have to get rid of this notion - "Am I of any use?" and make up our minds that we are not, and we may be near the truth. It is never a question of being of use, but of being of value to God Himself. When we are abandoned to God, He works through us all the time.
~Oswald Chambers

Friday, March 20, 2009

Adventures

“If our life is ever really as beautiful as a fairy-tale, we shall have to remember that all the beauty of a fairy-tale lies in this: that the prince has a wonder which just stops short of being fear. If he is afraid of the giant, there is an end of him; but also if he is not astonished at the giant, there is an end of the fairy-tale. The whole point depends upon his being at once humble enough to wonder, and haughty enough to defy. So our attitude to the giant of the world must not merely be increasing delicacy or increasing contempt: it must be one particular proportion of the two – which is exactly right. We must have in us enough reverence for all things outside us to make us tread fearfully on the grass. We must also have enough disdain for all things outside us, to make us, on due occasion, spit at the stars. Yet these two things (if we are to be good or happy) must be combined, not in any combination, but in one particular combination. The perfect happiness of men on the earth (if it ever comes) will not be a flat and solid thing, like the satisfaction of animals. It will be an exact and perilous balance; like that of a desperate romance. Man must have just enough faith in himself to have adventures, and just enough doubt of himself to enjoy them.”
~G. K. Chesterton

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It is serious, however...

“…it is an occupational hazard of religious people to take life (and themselves) far too seriously. This is because life is serious business: heaven and hell are serious matters; sin and repentance and obedience are serious concerns. But, ‘Be not anxious’ is the way we are to deal with all of life’s seriousness. Frankly, most of the ‘momentous issues’ we face in our daily living are not in the least momentous. Most of the time whether a decision goes this way or that makes little difference; our lives will go on. To be sure, there are decisive moments and genuinely tragic events, but they are much fewer than we imagine … relax, enjoy the little ‘inconveniences’ of our days, and rest easy in the God who has the whole world in His hands.
~Richard Foster

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Is Everyone a Poet?

William Stafford was once asked in an interview, “When did you decide to become a poet?” He responded that the question was put wrongly: “Everyone is born a poet – a person discovering the way words sound and work, caring and delighting in words. I just kept on doing what everyone starts out doing. The real question is why did other people stop?”

“We all need to discover and keep rediscovering the poetry of our own existence.”
~Tim Hansel

When I Met My Muse
I glanced at her and took my glasses
off—they were still singing. They buzzed
like a locust on the coffee table and then
ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the
sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and
knew that nails up there took a new grip
on whatever they touched. "I am your own
way of looking at things," she said. "When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation." And I took her hand.
~William Stafford

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Revelation

Authority is based on experience. When you want the authoritative word about a novel, listen to the author.

Thus, the rich man, not the artisan, is the authority on riches; the soldier, not the lawyer, is the authority on war; and God, not man, is the authority on God.

This is an argument for the necessity of revelation. A three-year-old’s guesses about a thirty-year-old’s life are found to be ridiculously off the mark, unless the thirty-year-old tells the three-year-old. Even less hope is there for our understanding of God unless He takes the initiative and tells us, that is, reveals Himself.

When we want to know something much less than ourselves – for example, a rock – it is easy. All the activity is ours; the rock cannot hide. When we want to know an animal, it’s harder. It’s active. It can run away. It can hide. We have to win its confidence. Yet most of the activity is on our side. When it comes to knowing another human being, the activity is shared fifty-fifty. Unless both parties open up, there is no communication. When it comes to knowing God, all the activity is His. There must be revelation.
~Peter Kreeft

Monday, March 16, 2009

Children

You have a lifetime to work, but children are only young once.
~Polish Proverb

Parenthood: That state of being better chaperoned than you were before marriage.
~M. Cox

The quickest way for a parent to get a child's attention is to sit down and look comfortable.
~L. Olinghouse

If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?
~M. Berle

Babies are such a nice way to start people!
~D. Herold

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Mere Life

In 1962 research scientists Victor and Mildred Goertzel published the provocative and revealing Cradles of Eminence. Its purpose was to study 413 “famous and exceptionally gifted people” and learn what produced such lives. The patterns which emerged from the very beginning of the study were startling. For example, approximately eighty percent of the later famous children loathed school. Seven out of ten eminent persons came from homes which in no way could be considered warm or peaceful. Rather they were homes riddled with traumas such as missing or argumentative parents, poverty, and physical handicaps. Almost every conceivable handicap had been successfully overcome by some eminent person. The book provided some revealing insights into the roots of people who were later to be called “great.” Virtually all of them had overcome severe difficulties in order to become the people they were called to be.

Perhaps God gives us difficulties in order to give us the opportunity to know who we really are and who we really can be. We live in a world that is sometimes constipated by its own superficiality. But life’s difficulties are even a privilege, in that they allow us or force us to break through the superficiality to the deeper life within.
~Tim Hansel

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Transformation in Christ

"The great mystery of our metaphysical situation, that God is nearer to us than we are ourselves, is manifest in the fact that we cannot even be wholly ourselves – in the sense of individuality as a unique divine thought – until we are reborn in Christ."
~Dietrich von Hildebrand

Friday, March 13, 2009

From the Weight of Glory

“…It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour's glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment...”
~C. S. Lewis

http://www.doxaweb.com/assets/doxa.pdf

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bring Your Heart Back...

A friend of mine is presenting a lecture on St. Francis De Sales tonight. He was an incredible man of God. I am glad that the lecture and my friend pointed me back to another De Sales' quote:

“If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point quite gently and replace it tenderly in its Master's presence. And even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your heart back and place it again in Our Lord's presence, though it went away every time you brought it back, your hour would be very well employed.”

~St. Francis De Sales

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Seeing God

There once was a young man who was desperately seeking God. He sought out a wise old man who lived in a nearby beach house and posed the question: “Old man, how can I see God?” The old man who obviously knew God at a depth few of us experience, pondered the question for a very long time. At last he responded quietly: “Young man, I am not sure that I can help you – for you see, I have a very different problem. I cannot not see Him.”
~Unknown

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Source of True Joy

Have some of you noticed that we are not yet perfect? (No great surprise, right?) And are you ready to make the accusation that since people like me, who go through Christ in order to get things right with God, aren't perfectly virtuous, Christ must therefore be an accessory to sin? The accusation is frivolous. If I was "trying to be good," I would be rebuilding the same old barn that I tore down. I would be acting as a charlatan.

What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn't work. So I quit being a "law man" so that I could be God's man. Christ's life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not "mine," but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.

Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God's grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.

We are justified by faith in Christ. Justification means being put together the way we are supposed to be. Made right-not improved, not decorated, not veneered, not patched up, but justified. Our fundamental being is set in right relationship with God. This setting right is not impersonal fixing; it is personal reconciliation. We are never right in ourselves, but only in response to and as a result of God working in and through us.

~Eugene Peterson’s modern English rendition of parts of Galatians

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Window

There were once two men, both seriously ill, in the same small room of a great hospital. Quite a small room, just large enough for the pair of them-two beds, two beside lockers, a door opening on the hall, and one window looking out on the world.

One of the men, as part of his treatment, was allowed to sit up in bed for an hour in the afternoon (something to do with draining the fluid from his lungs), and his bed was next to the window.

But the other man had to spend all his time flat on his back-and both of them had to be kept quiet and still. Which was the reason they were in the small room by themselves, and they were grateful for peace and privacy-none of the bustle and clatter and prying eyes of the general ward for them.

Of course, one of the disadvantages of their condition was that they weren’t allowed to do much: no reading, no radio, certainly no television-they just had to keep quiet and still, just the two of them.

Well, they used to talk for hours and hours-about their wives, their children, their homes, their jobs, their hobbies, their childhood, what they did during the war, where they’d been on vacations-all that sort of thing. Every afternoon, when the man in the bed next to the window was propped up for his hour, he would pass the time by describing what he could see outside. And the other man began to live for those hours.

The window apparently overlooked a park, with a lake, where there were ducks and swans, children throwing them bread and sailing model boats, and young lovers walking hand in hand beneath the trees, and there were flowers and stretches of grass, games of softball, people taking their ease in the sunshine, and right at the back, behind the fringe of trees, a fine view of the city skyline.

The man on his back would listen to all of this, enjoying every minute-how a child nearly fell into the lake, how beautiful the girls were in their summer dresses, then an exciting ball game, or a boy playing with his puppy. It got to the place that he could almost see what was happening outside.

Then one fine afternoon, when there was some sort of parade, the thought struck him: Why should the man next to the window have all the pleasure of seeing what was going on? Why shouldn’t he get the chance?

He felt ashamed, and tried not to think like that, but the more he tried, the worse he wanted a change. He’d do anything!

In a few days, he had turned sour. He should be by the window. And he brooded, and couldn’t sleep, and grew even more seriously ill-which none of the doctors understood.

One night as he stared at the ceiling, the other man suddenly woke up, coughing and choking, the fluid congesting in his lungs, his hands groping for the button that would bring the night nurse running. But the man watched without moving.

The coughing racked the darkness-on and on-choked off-then stopped-the sound of breathing stopped-and the man continued to stare at the ceiling.

In the morning the day nurse came in with water for their baths and found the other man dead. They took away his body, quietly, no fuss.

As soon as it seemed decent, the man asked if he could be moved to the bed next to the window. And they moved him, tucked him in, and made him quite comfortable, and left him alone to be quiet and still.

The minute they’d gone, he propped himself up on one elbow, painfully and laboriously, and looked out the window.

It faced a blank wall.

~G. W. Target

“I’ve known people whose lives have ‘faced a blank wall’ and yet they made it sound beautiful. Their courage was evidenced in little commitments they made every day, little acts of gratitude and wonder-in spite of their circumstances. Like the first man in the story, they made life come alive for those around them.

The first man deliberately chose to introduce joy into a dismal situation. True joy wants to give itself away, and is magnified by doing so.

The second man illustrates the desperate need for circumstances to produce happiness. He was so desperate that he even allowed it to cost him his friend, and only in the end did he realize that the joy he had was independent of circumstances.”
~Tim Hansel

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Storyteller of God

Now
there was only the morning
and the dancing man of the broken tomb.
The story says
he dances still.
That is why
down to this day
we lean over the beds of our babies
and in the seconds before sleep
tell the story of the undying dancing man
so the dream of Jesus will carry them to dawn.

~John Shea

Saturday, March 7, 2009

What Makes You Come Alive?

"Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

~Howard Thurman

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Graciousness of Uncertainty

"It doth not yet appear what we shall be." 1 John 3:2

Naturally, we are inclined to be so mathematical and calculating that we look upon uncertainty as a bad thing. We imagine that we have to reach some end, but that is not the nature of spiritual life. The nature of spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty, consequently we do not make our nests anywhere. Common sense says - "Well, supposing I were in that condition . . ." We cannot suppose ourselves in any condition we have never been in. Certainty is the mark of the common-sense life: gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, we do not know what a day may bring forth. This is generally said with a sigh of sadness, it should be rather an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. Immediately we abandon to God, and do the duty that lies nearest, He packs our life with surprises all the time. When we become advocates of a creed, something dies; we do not believe God, we only believe our belief about Him. Jesus said, "Except ye become as little children." Spiritual life is the life of a child. We are not uncertain of God, but uncertain of what He is going to do next. If we are only certain in our beliefs, we get dignified and severe and have the ban of finality about our views; but when we are rightly related to God, life is full of spontaneous, joyful uncertainty and expectancy.

"Believe also in Me," said Jesus, not - "Believe certain things about Me." Leave the whole thing to Him, it is gloriously uncertain how He will come in, but He will come. Remain loyal to Him.
~Oswald Chambers

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Live Freely, Motivated by God’s Spirit

“There is a design God has woven into the fabric of this world, and if we violate it we cannot hope to find life. Because our hearts have strayed so far from home, He’s given us the Law as a sort of handrail to help us back from the precipice. But the goal of Christian discipleship is the transformed heart; we move from a (child) who needs the Law to the (adult) who is able to live by the Spirit of the law. ‘My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness … Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way’ (Gal. 5:16, 23 The Message).”
~John Eldredge

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

How To Settle Down

Philippians 4:4-9 (The Message)

4-5 Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!

6-7 Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

8-9 Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

One more from "Man or Rabbit?"

“…If Christianity should happen to be true, then it is quite impossible that those who know this truth and those who don’t should be equally well equipped for leading a good life. Knowledge of the facts must make a difference to one’s actions. Suppose you found a man on the point of starvation and wanted to do the right thing. If you had no knowledge of medical science, you would probably give him a large solid meal; and as a result your man would die. That is what comes of working in the dark. In the same way a Christian and a non-Christian may both wish to do good to their fellow men. The one believes that men are going to live forever, that they were created by God and so built that they can find their true and lasting happiness only by being united to God, that they have gone badly off the rails, and that obedient faith in Christ is the only way back. The other believes that men are an accidental result of the blind workings of matter, that they started as mere animals and have more or less steadily improved, that they are going to live for about seventy years, that their happiness is fully attainable by good social services and political organizations, and that everything else (e.g., vivisection, birth-control, the judicial system, education) is to be judged to be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ simply in so far as it helps or hinders that kind of ‘happiness’.

Now there are quite a lot of things which these two men could agree in doing for their fellow citizens. Both would approve of efficient sewers and hospitals and a healthy diet. But sooner or later the difference of their beliefs would produce differences in their practical proposals. Both, for example, might be very keen about education: but the kinds of education they wanted people to have would obviously be very different. Again, where the Materialist would simply ask about a proposed action ‘Will it increase the happiness of the majority?’, the Christian might have to say, ‘Even if it does increase the happiness of the majority, we can’t do it. It is unjust.’ And all the time, one great difference would run through their whole policy. To the Materialist things like nations, classes, civilizations must be more important than individuals, because the individuals live only seventy odd years each and the group may last for centuries. But to the Christian, individuals are more important, for they live eternally; and races, civilizations and the like, are in comparison the creatures of a day. The Christian and the Materialist hold different beliefs about the universe. They can’t both be right. The one who is wrong will act in a way which simply doesn’t fit the real universe. Consequently, with the best will in the world, he will be helping his fellow creatures to their destruction.”
~ C. S. Lewis

http://www.pseudobook.com/cslewis/wp-content/uploads/2006/09/manorrabbit.pdf

Monday, March 2, 2009

One more from "The Shack"

(The Holy Spirit character speaking to the human)
“When you chose independence over relationship, you became a danger to each other. Others became objects to be manipulated or managed for your own happiness. Authority, as you usually think of it, is merely the excuse the strong use to make others conform to what they want.”
(The human character speaking back)
“Isn’t (authority) helpful in keeping people from fighting endlessly or getting hurt?”
(God)
“Sometimes. But in a selfish world it is also used to inflict great harm.”
(human)
“But don’t you use it to restrain evil?”
(God)
“We (the Trinity) carefully respect your choices, so we work within your systems even while we seek to free you from them. Creation has been taken down a very different path than we desired. In your world the value of the individual is constantly weighed against the survival of the system, whether political, economic, social, or religious-any system actually. First one person, and then a few, and finally even many are easily sacrificed for the good and ongoing existence of that system. In one form or another this lies behind every struggle for power, every prejudice, every war, and every abuse of relationship. The ‘will to power and independence’ has become so ubiquitous that it is now considered normal.”

(Jesus)
“As the crowning glory of Creation, you were made in our image, unencumbered by structure and free to simply ‘be’ in relationship with me and one another. If you had truly learned to regard each other’s concerns as significant as your own, there would be no need for hierarchy.”

(God)
“…we want to share with you the love and joy and freedom and light that we already know within ourself. We created you, the human, to be in face-to-face relationship with us, to join our circle of love. As difficult as it will be for you to understand, everything that has taken place is occurring exactly according to this purpose, without violating choice or will.
…I am not evil. You are the ones who embrace fear and pain and power and rights so readily in your relationships. But your choices are also not stronger than my purposes, and I will use every choice you make for the ultimate good and the most loving outcome.”
(Holy Spirit)
“You see, broken humans center their lives around things that seem good to them, but that will neither fill them nor free them. They are addicted to power, or the illusion of security that power offers. When a disaster happens, those same people will turn against the false powers they trusted. In their disappointment, they either become softened toward me or they become bolder in their independence. If you could only see how all of this ends and what we will achieve without the violation of one human will-then you would understand. One day you will.”
~From The Shack by Wm. Paul Young

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Dependence on God

“What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’ - could set up on their own as if they had created themselves - be their own masters - invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history - money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery - the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.

The reason why it can never succeed is this. God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on gasoline, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”
~ C. S. Lewis

“(Many) come to believe deep in (their) hearts that needing anyone for anything is a sort of weakness, a handicap.
…Jesus knew nothing of that. The Man who never flinched to take on hypocrites and get in their face, the One who drove ‘a hundred men wi’ a bundle o’ cords swung free,’ the Master of wind and sea, lived in a desperate dependence on His Father. ‘I assure you, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing’; ‘I live by the power of the living Father who sent me’; ‘The words I say are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me.’ This isn’t a source of embarrassment to Christ; quite the opposite. He brags about his relationship with his Father. He’s happy to tell anyone who will listen, ‘The Father and I are one’ (John 5:19; 6:57; 14:10; 10:30 NLT).”
~John Eldredge