Archive for March, 2011

“Once you can make scripture stand on its hind legs and dance a jig, it becomes a tame pet rather than a roaring lion. It is no longer “authoritative” in any strict sense; that is, it may be cited as though in “proof” of some point or other, but it is not leading the way, energizing the church with the fresh breath of God himself. The question must always be asked, whether scripture is being used to serve an existing theology or vice versa.”

Scripture and the Authority of God: How to Read the Bible Today, p. 71

  • Share/Bookmark
YouTube Preview Image
  • Share/Bookmark

In its practical effects, it seems that Fundamentalist Christianity is little more than a viral marketing campaign for fire insurance – where eternity is everything and the temporal is an afterthought – in stark, ironic juxtaposition with the focus of the ministry and teaching of Jesus Christ.

  • Share/Bookmark

You are my refuge in the storm,
When trials surge and conflicts swarm,
Your presence alone will transform
            The squall into a calm.
You are my faith in my unbelief,
My consolation in my grief.
Your presence alone brings relief,
            A cool and curing balm.

You are my retreat in the chaos
Of each twisting turn and toss,
Your presence overwhelms my loss,
            With tranquility.
You pursue me when I run and hide,
You share my burden, walk by my side.
Your presence alone dispels my pride
            With your humility.

You are my shelter from the tempest,
When my soul is distraught and distressed,
Your presence alone brings peace and rest.
            I know I am not alone.
You sing a love song over me,
Grace and justice in harmony,
Your presence alone the melody,
            A soul-soothing tone.

  • Share/Bookmark

“It is much easier to see the redemptive role of pain and suffering in God’s plan if you are not actually undergoing pain and suffering” (Walter Ciszek, He Leadeth Me, 119).

  • Share/Bookmark

The following article is a guest post from a friend of mine, Len Winneroski at Manna and Coffee. Enjoy!

“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11 (NIV)

Some of my friends are crazy about sushi. Sushi is vinegar flavored rice that is usually topped with fresh, thinly sliced raw seafood. The raw seafood is called sashimi, which is a Japanese word that means “pierced body.” Sushi is usually eaten with soy sauce that is mixed with wasabi paste. Not all sushi contains raw fish, but this is what normally comes to mind when people think about sushi. To be safe, raw sashimi should be frozen for at least 24 hours before it is thawed and prepared. It takes some skill to prepare raw seafood and it is best when it is eaten within a few hours after preparation.

As I was thinking about the fresh, raw appeal of sushi I couldn’t help but think about how truth is a lot like sushi. There is something so fresh, raw and real when someone speaks truth into your life. For me the Bible is spiritual sushi. Hebrews 4:12 says, “for the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” There are many times that I have been reading the sacred and living Word and felt like God has literally grabbed me by the back of my neck and reached down into my soul.

When you are really looking, you can find God’s truth all around us. There is truth in the sunrise and sunset. There is truth is in a baby’s smile and in a lovers embrace. There is truth in tears and there is truth in laughter. All of these truths point to ultimate Truth. In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Isn’t that what we are all looking for, direction, truth and real life?

When God speaks a truth into our lives we should rejoice. How many times has God spoken truth into my life and I did not eat it immediately? I let the truth sit on the plate and just stared at it until I convinced myself that it smelled bad and that it was just not really that appetizing. God doesn’t want us to be afraid of truth. Jesus told us that “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Next time that you think about sashimi and sushi, think about Christ’s “pierced body.” Spiritual sushi.

Dear Lord, please forgive me when I am too full of myself to hear your Word to me. Please help me to be courageous enough to love the truth and humble enough to listen, trust and obey.

  • Share/Bookmark

This is just a cut and paste from my own blog. I hope you enjoy his thoughts.

If you have not read anything by Kary Oberbrunner, now is the time. Go to Amazon and buy, Your Secret Name right now (Click on the link to be taken directly to the book). Seriously, even if you do not choose to orientate your life around the Bible, this book will speak to you and it may help you understand why I do orientate my life around the Bible.  Here is a fantastic quote that is so true. I wanted to write more but at some point I figured I was going to be running the risk of plagiarism. Full book review coming soon.

It is far less painful to pretend that God doesn’t care—that he’s detahed and distant and eternally discontent—than to believe that God is cognizant and concerned with every detail of our lives. We often prefer a distant God. Such thinking is safer and less complicated. God is in heaven and we are on earth. He lives his life and we live ours. As the first man and woman discovered in Eden, there’s comfort in hiding from God.

After all, when he finds us hiding, he’ll discover that we’re naked. Better to pretend that we’ve got everything under control than to admit our shame frailty and need. But if we’re honest, we sometimes wonder:  If God is powerful, why doesn’t he stop the pain? Or, if he allows pain despite his power, doesn’t that prove he’s cruel? We begin to question whether we can trust God. And if the answer is no, if we can’t trust him, then we don’t have a chance of loving him.

  • Share/Bookmark
YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image
  • Share/Bookmark

Over the last week, I’ve read a lot about Rob Bell’s new book. This post isn’t about that. This post, ultimately, isn’t about people’s responses to what they’ve read or seen about about the book, or even about my response to them. Reading comments on an article about the book, however, is the thing that got me thinking. One of the comments I read said the following:

With all due respect, what is the most loving thing one can do for another? The most loving thing we can do is tell another about the most loving thing anyone has ever done… Christ’s death on our behalf (plethora of Scriptural references follow.)

Now as I read that, I wasn’t really surprised. It’s something I’ve basically heard my entire life. I’ve probably said something very similar at different points in my life. But as I read it in that context, it made me stop dead in my tracks. Perhaps it was the writer’s use of the descriptor “most”. Is the act of telling another person the story of Jesus the most loving thing we can do. That is, is the act of sharing certain information with other people actually what constitutes love?

I’ve been wrestling with this idea the last few days. I genuinely do think that the act of telling, sharing is implicit in how the Gospel spreads. Humans are verbal creatures, and every human culture has storytellers. It’s in our DNA to share stories with each other. My question is, though, does the Gospel go beyond the act of simply transmitting information?

The conclusion I’ve come to is that, yes, it must. If we are simply telling people they are sinners in need of a savior, but refuse to engage in actual, tangible things that demonstrate love to people, do we love them? A number of years ago, the book The Five Love Languages was all the rage (I believe it still sells quite well). In the book, Gary Chapman lays out the simple proposition that there are five ways in which people give and receive love – words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Now the book itself is geared more towards marriage relationships, but as I think of the relationships I have with friends in my life, and I realize that the same principles can apply in just about any relationship.

The thing that I notice about all of them is that they truly cost something for the one attempting to show love to the other person. It takes effort to encourage someone. It is difficult to spend quality time with someone when I have a busy schedule to worry about. The list goes on. Love isn’t the easy thing. A lot of the time it’s the thing I’d rather not do. I would rather stay at home and watch the game on Saturday rather than help a single mom move into a new apartment. I’d rather go to the pub with my friends rather than volunteer to tutor the kids for the single father.

So as far as what is the “most loving” thing to do, I guess I come down to the answer that there simply isn’t a simply answer. What is most loving to my neighbor depends on my neighbor’s needs, and it depends on me being open to pour myself out. I tend to think that simply sharing information about Jesus, as important as that is, is often seen by those we are trying to share with as the easy way out – drive-by evangelism in a drive-thru world. The Gospel becomes simply another sales pitch, and we become little more than the salesman at Best Buy trying to sell an extended warranty.

This, of course, isn’t a new problem. Saying one thing and doing another is part of the human condition. The truth that Christ brought when He came is that He didn’t simply say He loved humanity. He demonstrated through His miraculous works, His tender compassion, and ultimately through His death on the cross. The question is will we truly follow Christ. Are we willing to take up our crosses for the sake of those who need to be loved? Or will we be content to simply think that sharing information with people is enough.

My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.

1 John 3:18-20

  • Share/Bookmark