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ST103112

The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing… that is a friend who cares. Henri J.M. Nouwen

Posted in Thoughts in October 31, 2012 by | No Comments »

Now, brethren, what is it that makes our Christian hope a living hope and gives it reality and substance for the future? The answer is clear and plain – the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is God’s gracious guarantee of our blessed future. I dare to say this to you, my friends – your Christian hope is just as good as Jesus Christ. Your anticipation for the future lives or dies with Jesus. If He is who He said He was, you can spread your wings and soar. If He is not, you will fall to the ground like a lump of lead. Jesus Christ is our hope and God has raised Him from the dead and since Jesus overcame the grave, Christians dare to die. Centuries ago unbelieving men thought they could stamp out the Christian gospel by parading those transformed, born-again followers of Jesus to the places of their violent torture and executions. Soon the unfeeling executioners began to feel something in the presence of joyful victory over death and they passed along this word: “Behold how these Christians die!” I contend that they were able to die well because they had lived well

A.W. Tozer, Jesus our only hope

Posted in Quotes in October 18, 2012 by | 1 Comment »

ST101812

Tolstoy was a wise man, but reading him requires diligent ferreting out of ½ truths. I came upon an example this morning. “If you do not free yourself from prejudice, you cannot face God directly. (So far so good right? But then Tolstoy adds a ½ truth). “You should read the teachings of God not in the Bible, but in your heart.” Read More.

Posted in Thoughts in October 18, 2012 by | No Comments »

Either/Or?

Either/Or?
It is popular to set up either/or situations where they do not exist. The result when such a distinction is unnecessary will result in ½ truths and as one wise man said, “A half-truth is the most cowardly of lies.”
Tolstoy was a wise man, but reading him requires diligent ferreting out of ½ truths. I came upon an example this morning. “If you do not free yourself from prejudice, you cannot face God directly. (So far so good right? But then Tolstoy adds a ½ truth). “You should read the teachings of God not in the Bible, but in your heart.”
By making this an either/or, Tolstoy wrongly directs the readers away from the Bible, which the Psalmist describes as “a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”
In my experience I should listen to both my heart and the Bible. My heart often reveals my wrong reading of the Bible and the Bible often reveals my well intentioned but wrong directed heart.
A Yiddish Proverb warns that “A half-truth is a whole lie” and that “it is twice as hard to crush a half-truth as a whole lie”
Jesus counseled us to love God with all our heart and all our mind, not an either/or, a both/and. Given the choice between Tolstoy’s ½ truth and Jesus, I’ll go with Jesus on this one!

Posted in Staublog in October 18, 2012 by | 1 Comment »

ST101012

We realize that the world is in God’s wrathful and merciful hands…. We learned too late that it is not the thought but readiness to take responsibility that is the mainspring of action. Your generation will relate thought and action in a new way. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

Posted in Thoughts in October 10, 2012 by | No Comments »

ST092912

It is easier to mobilize Christians around political and visceral hotly contested societal issues, but our real enemy lives in the attacks on the nature and person of Jesus Christ, and oddly, that seems a battle most Christians are woefully unprepared to engage. Read More.

Posted in Thoughts in September 29, 2012 by | No Comments »

Who is my Enemy, the Foe I am to “Take By The Throat?”

Who is my Enemy, the Foe I am to  “Take  By The Throat?”
George MacDonald’s reading today in a Diary of An Old Soul talks about engaging the enemy.
“In my own heart, O Master, in my thought,
Betwixt the woolly sheep and hairy goat
Not clearly I distinguish; but I think
Thou knowest that I fight upon thy side.
The how I am ashamed of; for I shrink
From many a blow—am home on the battle-tide,
When I should rush to the front, and take thy foe by the throat.”
In his typically honest way MacDonald acknowledges that when Jesus divides the sheep from the goats, he will find himself sometimes behaving like each of them. He is ashamed of this and prays for boldness so he is emboldened in battle to “rush to the front, and take thy foe by the throat.”
But who is the foe?
In this day of culture-warring where those who differ regarding theological, political or life-style issues are often called enemies, it is reasonable to ask, as a follower of Jesus, what is the war I am in and who is my enemy?
Who is the enemy Jesus has freed us to engage?
First and most obviously, we are war with the ruler of the dark side, that spiritual being, Satan, the Devil and his legions of spirits who are evil principalities and powers.
The apostle Peter warned us, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Be self-controlled and alert.”
But there is another enemy. Jesus is declared to be an exact representation of God, (Hebrews) and as the word become flesh Jesus reveals God as full of grace and truth (John). So is not our second battle the one within ourselves concerning anything that is unloving or untrue? And isn’t the most obvious untruths we are to guard against are contemporary lies about the nature and character of God?
In our pluralistic age, and in light of movements like the Jesus Seminar, it seems our biggest battle concerns who Jesus is, and as Eugene Peterson says in his introduction to Philemon, “Christians have always insisted on the historicity of Jesus—an actual birth, a datable death, a witnessed resurrection and locatable towns.” Even in this issue our enemy is the untruth about Jesus, not the person espousing it.
It is easier to mobilize Christians around political and visceral hotly contested societal issues, but our real enemy lives in the attacks on the nature and person of Jesus Christ, and oddly, that seems a battle most Christians are woefully unprepared to engage.

Posted in Staublog in September 29, 2012 by | 2 Comments »

Replacement Refs and the Kingdom of God

Replacement Refs and the Kingdom of God
Like millions of sports fans I watched the controversial last play of the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football. 
 
It was a Hail Mary pass from Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson followed by what punsters at ESPN are now calling “the inaccurate reception.” Replays show Green Bay safety M.D Jennings intercepting the pass, Seattle’s Golden Tate wrestling it away from Jennings, as one referee signals it an interception and the other calls it a Seattle touchdown. 
 
It is officially ruled a touchdown and Seattle wins the game.
 
Commentators immediately began their rants about terrible officiating, followed by renewed calls to get the replacement refs off the field and the locked-out professional refs back in the game. 
 
I’m a Seahawks fan, but the game’s ending made me feel empty. Commentator Jon Gruden said the game left a “bad feeling in his stomach.” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said of the call, “Very hard to swallow, I have never seen anything like that in my time in football” and Troy Aikman tweeted, “these games are a joke.”
 
In this pluralistic age I am unaccustomed to such unanimity and agreement. It made me wonder if beneath this surface issue is an insight into our essential human nature. 
 
I imagine Jesus telling a parable, “yeah verily I say unto you, there were two men who went up for the ball in the end zone with 5 seconds left on the clock. A terrible call was made resulting in a grave injustice and all people everywhere were vexed in spirit.”
 
Here are two lessons from the parable of the “inaccurate reception.”
 
First, humans have an underlying sense of right and wrong. C. S. Lewis argued that there is a fundamental morality (he called it the “Tao”) that resides in the heart and conscience of every human and is therefore shared by all cultures East-West, Christian, Pagan and Jew. 
 
Could it be that it is also found in the hearts of rabid sports fans!  In sports we see two competing passions, a desire to win, but also a desire to win fairly, within the rules. What made Seattle’s win unsatisfying even for Seahawks fans, is that the referee violated the Tao of football, and fans and commentators are furious about it. It appears that situation ethics doesn’t apply in football. It is no accident that referees wear black and white uniforms. There is right and wrong and the referee’s job is to assure that right prevails.
 
2) We long for a better world.
 
Again, C. S Lewis said in Mere Christianity, “If I find in myself a desire, which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
 
I realize that many of my frustrations in life have to do with this tension between the way things ought to be and the way things are. 
 
I am nauseated by politics with its quest for partisan power instead of the common good, I recoil at injustices in the world’s economic systems, I am sickened by our culture that elevates celebrity over substance, I detest with equal passion the Muslim violence in the Middle East and the really stupid senseless film The Innocence of Muslims that triggered some of the violence. When I observe a Church culture characterized by hypocrisy, bickering, gossip and hate, I find myself in solidarity with Woody Allen who said, “If Jesus came back and saw what’s going on in his name, he’d never stop throwing up.”
 
These instincts and desires for a better world are released passionately when a bad call is made in a football game.  We’re looking for stable places in society we can depend on. When institutions like government, churches or the NFL fail to provide it we are disheartened!
 
In Jesus life and teaching we got a glimpse of the Kingdom of God, the essence of which according to British Scholar N.T. Wright is this, “What would it look like if God was running the show?”
 
Might a failed football call reveal something deeper about our universal hopes and dreams? Could it be we really do wish God was running the show?
 
 
 
 

Posted in Staublog in September 28, 2012 by | No Comments »

ST092712

Lord let my life today be an exquisite blend of devotion to you and love for all of your creation, including but not limited to all my fellow humans, created in your image, who you have placed above the created order, but also in it to steward it. Read More.

Posted in Thoughts in September 27, 2012 by | No Comments »

A Morning Prayer

A Morning Prayer
“Lord let my life today be an exquisite blend of devotion to you and love for all of your creation, including but not limited to all my fellow humans, created in your image, who you have placed above the created order, but also in it to steward it.” 
 
My prayer this morning grew out of two readings that started my day, one from Dostoevsky’s Father Zossima in The Brothers Karamazov, and the other from A.W. Tozer regarding devotion to God as expressed in everyday life.
 
DOSTOEVSKY
“Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to understand it better everyday. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.” 
 
TOZER 
“Fenelon teaches that to make our deeds acceptable to God it is not necessary that we change our occupation (if it is honest), but only that we begin to do for Christ’s sake what we had formerly been doing for our own. To some of us this will seem too tame and ordinary. We want to do great things for God, to hazard our lives in dramatic acts of devotion that will attract the attention of fellow Christians and perhaps of the larger world outside. Visions of Huss at the stake, Luther at the Diet of Worms or Livingstone in the heart of Africa flit before our minds as we think on spiritual things. Plain, workaday Christians like us – how can we rise to such heroic heights? With our families to support, with our lot cast in the dull routine of the commonplace, with no one threatening us with imprisonment or death: how can we live lives acceptable to God? What can we do to satisfy the heart our Father in heaven?
 
The answer is near thee, even in thy mouth. Vacate the throne room of your heart and enthrone Jesus there. Set Him in the focus of your heart’s attention and stop wanting to be a hero. Make Him your all in all and try yourself to become less and less. Dedicate your entire life to His honor alone and shift the motives of your life from self to God. Let the reason back of your daily conduct be Christ and His glory, not yourself, nor your family nor your country nor your church. In all things let Him have the preeminence.”
 

Posted in Staublog in September 27, 2012 by | 1 Comment »