Friday, July 28, 2006
And now, some Oswald Chambers . . .
Your earlier life of faith was narrow and intense, settled around a little sun-spot of experience that had as much of sense as of faith in it, full of life and sweetness; then God withdrew his conscious blessings in order to teach you to walk by faith. You are worth far more to him now than you were in your days of conscious delight and thrilling testimony.
Faith by its very nature must be tried, and the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God's character has to be cleared in our own minds. Faith in its actual working out has to go through spell of unsyllabled isolation. . . . Faith in the Bible is faith in God against everything that contradicts Him--I will remain true to God's character whatever he may do. "Though he slay me, yet I will trust him" is the most sublime utterance of faith in all of Scripture.
And another from Chambers (p. 114 this time):
When once the concentration is on God, all the margins of life are free and under the dominance of God alone. There is no responsibility on you for the work; the only responsibility you have is to keep in living constant touch with God, and to see you allow nothing to hinder your cooperation with him.
Finally, a passage of Scripture and some words from a fellow pilgrim on this topic:
1 Corinthians 16:13-14--"Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be storng. Let all that you do be done in love."
The times may seem hard and your faith may grow weak, but the Lord our God has issued a command,and he is faithful to sustain and to accomplish his purpose. God is looking for some sober minded, firmly planted men and women who do not rely on their own strength but who boldly declare "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Jesus calls for some abandoned people, people who (like Jeremiah, Daniel, John the Baptist, Paul) will forsake houses, lands, families, sisters, brothers, etc. for the sake of the kingdom of God. Individuals who will play out their existence in this mortal realm pointing the Bride of Christ to Jesus and to him alone. Men and women who have a fiery passion for their Lord and God, and whose passion will lead them to suffer any loss, to endure any hardship, to win any victory, or to endure seasons of blessing for the sake of showing others the character of God as revealed in Jesus Christ.
Will you be one of these faithful witnesses?
Thanks for reading!
Friday, July 14, 2006
Some quotes for you . . .
"For however devoted you are to (God), you may be sure that he is immeasurably more devoted to you." Meister Eckhart
"God's promises are like stars; the darker the night, the brighter they shine." David Nicholas
"[God] is not proud . . . He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him." C. S. Lewis
"It is much more possible for the sun to give out darkness than for God to do or be, or give out anything but blessing and goodness." William Law
Thanks for reading!
Thursday, July 13, 2006
How about some Karl Barth?
"Theology is in reality not only the doctrine of God, but the doctrine of God and man. . . . [It stresses] the fact that man's relation to God is based on God's dealings with man, and not conversely."
"When the Christian gospel was changed into a statement, a religion, about Christian self-awareness, the God was lost sight of who in His sovereignty confronts man, calling him into acount, and dealing with him as Lord. This loss also blurred the sight horizontally."
Barth seems to be saying that when we do real theology, we must concern ourself not just with Christian self-esteem or self understanding/identity, but rather we must focus on the reality of God's invasion of our very lives, even his untimely (or is it "timely"?) interventions in the everyday mundane existence of humanity.
Theology is a moot point if God is studied in isolation from his workings with humanity.
When we change Christian thought or preaching toward some kind of boost to the individual Christian's self-esteem, we have really lost sight of true Christianity or theology. Theology has little to do with me. It has everything to do with God and his attempts to work with me, for me, and in me.
Theology makes no sense without Christology, without salvation, without the God of the universe joining his creation as one of them, so that by living among humans he may redeem every aspect of humanity.
Jesus became sin so that we may be the righteousness of God.
Jesus took on the likeness of sinful flesh so that he might comdemn sin in the flesh.
God deals with us by becoming one of us. He does for us what we can't do for ourselves.
If we lose sight of that, our vision becomes blurred and we forget that we are a part of a larger story--God's Story.
I am not the star, he is.
It is not my dealings with God that produce good theology or even life itself. Rather, it is God's dealings with fallen humans that produce so much good and greatness.
God in Christ became one of us, so that he might win us and win for us the prize we lost by our own sin.
God's humanity in Christ thus creates a bond between the divine and human, between man and God that not only gives hope, but a possibility for a good future.
All that is good here in this fallen world is a direct result of God's goodness and dealings with us.
We did not create it, we did not cause it to happen, we cannot make it better.
God is the author and star.
His dealings with us produce more grace, more light, more truth.
Maybe we should let him do his job.
Thanks for reading!
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Borrowing grace from others . . .
C. S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity:
The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.
Each morning there is a voice calling to us. Do we hear it? Oh there may well be a cacophany of voices in your mind/heart! I know there often is a raucous and rowdy group of them in mine!
"Don't forget your work! Don't forget that review you promised! Don't forget to play with your children! Don't forget to read your Bible!"
The voices vie for my attention even as my mind tries to shake the cobwebs of sleep and regain some semblance of focus. I hear them every morning. As Lewis notes, they rush at me.
What voices call us away from the Voice?
Do you hear him?
God is calling--"come to me, all who are weary and I will give you rest."
"Take my burden upon you."
"All you like sheep have gone astray."
"Come to me. I love you."
The imagery of coming out of the wind is a good one. Lewis reminds us to leave the wind of the voices calling us to busy-ness so that we can stop to listen to the one voice that matters.
God's call matters.
There is something about the call of God that transforms us when we hear it and respond. It isn't what we do, it is the very fact that God in his grace and kindness "called" us, spoke to us, singled us out, so to speak.
As Dietrich Bonhoeffer says in The Cost of Discipleship:
The call of Jesus makes the disciple community not only the salt but also the light of the world: their activity is visible, as well as imperceptible. "You are the light." Once again it is not: "you are to be the light," they are already the light because Christ has called them. They are a light which is seen of men, they cannot be otherwise, and if they were it would be a sign that they had not been called. How impossible, how utterly absurd it would be for the disciples--these disciples, such men as these!--to try and become the light of the world! No. They are already the light and the call has made them so. Nor does Jesus say: "You have the light." The light is not an instrument which has been put into their hands, such as their preaching. It is the disciples themselves. By an amazing act of mercy, they are the light.
When God speaks, something changes. The very call to discipleship changes us.
As in the beginning when God simply spoke things into existence, his Word continues to breathe creative life into the heart of humanity (see John 1). His Word enlightens us, illuminates our dark lives, transforms us into the light of the world.
God speaks, something happens. Light comes into being. Darkness is confused, overcome, ruined.
God speaks, light breaks forth.
God calls, and we become salt and light. Every part of us becomes a testimony to the kindness of God. Every aspect of our life bleeds his kindness, his love, his grace, his mercy, his call.
Oh, and let's remember--He calls us, we don't call him.
God speaks, stuff happens.
Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
Thank you for reading!