Archive for February, 2011

And love is not the easy thing
The only baggage that you can bring…
And love is not the easy thing…
The only baggage you can bring
Is all that you can’t leave behind

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“When we trust God for heaven but not for our daily lives, we walk around with a psuedo-faith—faith a mile wide and an inch deep.”

~Dr. Tim Clinton and Joshua Straub in God Attachment: Why you believe , act and feel the way you do about God, p. 39.

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actual guillotine from Scholl executionSixty-eight years ago today, on Feb 22, 1943, three Christian students in Munich, Germany, were executed for their peaceful resistance to the Nazi German government.   Sophie Scholl, her brother Hans, and their friend Christoph Probst (who had a wife and children) were members of the White Rose resistance – a non-violent, intellectual movement of students opposed to the policies and actions of Hitler and his government, based upon their Christian beliefs.  They were decapitated by guillotine in Munich’s Stadelheim Prison for the “crime” of passing out pamphlets in opposition to Hitler and Nazism, a crime of treason.

All too often, I have heard Christians lament the lack of opposition from within the German Church to the rise of Hitler and National Socialism. Sadly, there is some truth to this, but I have found more and more stories – like those of the White Rose, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Claus von Stauffenberg and others – which show that not all of Germany, nor its Christians, were in agreement with their government’s actions.

How many of us would be comfortable standing not only for our faith, but for its teachings, in such a situation?  I wish I could say I would be, but I wonder how it would be when the rubber met the road…

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“Hell is morally good, because a good God must punish evil.”–Randy Alcorn, The Goodness of God, p 85

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Matthew 25: 31-46

Many a modernist evangelical, still caught in the culture wars and small-god systematics, loves to pull out the sheep and the goats metaphor when judging others. They do so, most often, when they are discerning who among the visible flock are true believers (sheep) and who are the pretenders, the modern-day heretics, the goats of the church. There are, of course, appropriate times to judge. Jesus was, after all, concerned about right belief… – but this post is not about those times.

Some judge while others mock those they believe are too concerned for things we call “social issues.” When it comes right down to it, they say, it’s all about getting people saved… not about drilling wells, educating heathens, or fair wages. And to some degree they are right…

…yet it is interesting.

When Jesus spoke of the final judgment and upon what it would be based – he did not speak of right beliefs, of right morality, or the right kind of music… he spoke of giving drink to the thirsty, feeding the hungry, of clothing the naked. In the context of sheep and goat differentiation; having a heart for the poor, the oppressed, the least of these – is what allows us to discern the sheep. It is not about winning a culture war. It is not about fighting socialism. It is not about convincing homosexuals not to homo-sex. It’s not about ranting against liberalism. It’s not even about getting as many people as possible to repeat a sinners prayer.

As Tim Keller put it: “Jesus did not say that all this done for the poor was a means of getting salvation, but rather it was a sign that you already had salvation, that true saving faith was already present” (Generous Justice, pg. 53 [emphasis his]). The “test” for saving faith (in this case) was not a check-list of acceptable beliefs, or witnessing, or service within the church, or even the fruit of the Spirit… (all of which a vitally important). Instead he chose our attitudes toward and actions on behalf of the poor.

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Victorious God
King of all kings
Beyond my façade
My stirred soul sings
Of you and your love
Of your rich grace
Below and above
My deepest disgrace 

You alone are God of all
You alone are worthy of praise
You have conquered death and the fall
You are God, the Ancient of Days 

You rise to our cries
As you rose from the grave
With love in your eyes
And a yearning to save
You weep for the lost
And rejoice with the found
You have counted the cost
Your mercies abound 

You alone are God of all
You alone are worthy of praise
You have conquered death and the fall
You are God, the Ancient of Days 

From Calvary’s mount
From the empty tomb
Springs an endless fount
To engulf and consume
The dry, thirsty soul
In its cleansing flood
Healed and made whole
By the water and blood

You alone are God of all
You alone are worthy of praise
You have conquered death and the fall
You are God, the Ancient of Days

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Or, when did the goal of Christianity become making “bad people” good instead of making “dead people” alive? – Shane J. Wood

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So far I have found three different publishing companies that will send me free books. All I have to do is write an unbiased review of the book and post it around the internet so other people can get a preview of what is being written. (By the way, we have an extension of this blog at Book Review Thoughts.)

Soooo…..one of my recent discoveries, Booksneeze, sent me a book by Scot McKnight simply called Fasting*. The book is part of a series of books written on the so-called Ancient Practices Series published by Thomas Nelson and somehow or other associated with Phyllis Tickle (she might be the series editor or something like that). I started reading Fasting last night and, frankly, for as much grief as some people give Phyllis Tickle, I’m surprised she’d want to be associated with something so orthodox**. Anyhow, here’s an appetizer from the book:

I have come to this conclusion about fasting: when the grievous sacred moment is neglected and instead we focus on the results, fasting becomes a manipulative device instead of a genuine, Christian spiritual discipline. Far too much of the conversation today about fasting is about what we can get and not enough about the serious and severe sacred moments that prompt fasting. (xxi)

If an author can jolt me out of complacency in the introduction, he has done a pretty good job and I think I can expect to be similarly jolted later on in the book. I am looking forward to more challenging thoughts as I continue on through this book.

*This is not my official review of the book.

**I was especially amused at the cunning and crafty way McKnight placed John Piper’s name between that of Dallas Willard (known protestant heretic) and Thomas Ryan (apostate Roman Catholic) in order to demonstrate that we are not so different after all as long as Jesus is who binds us together.  (See pages xvii-xviii)

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