Thursday, August 31, 2006

 

How about a note from Richard Halverson?

Hey everyone,

I was reading through some old reprints I have in my possession, and I found the following article from the November 10, 1971 issue of Perspective. The truth of the article is as valid today as it was 35 years ago. The brief article is by Richard Halverson. Let me know what you think of it.

God calls a man . . .

Gives him a vision . . .

Anoints him for its fulfillment.

Obedient to the call in the light of the vision and the power of the anointing--his labors are blessed with unusual results.

Others take notice . . .

Want to get in on the act.

They ask the man how he did it (the assumption being that if they did as he did, they would achieve as he achieved).

He begins to analyze what he did--comes up with the methods which were born out of the call, the vision and the anointing.

If enough people ask him how he did it--he'll publish a manual setting forth the methods he used.

Then anybody can buy the manual, apply the methods, and get the same results . . . or so the idea goes.

Somehow the call, the vision, and the anointing are forgotten or ignored or subordinated to the mechanics.

As though God could not do another thing with another person.

As though God had run out of calls or visions or power.

As though God had no new ways to do what had never been done before.

How distinct the servants of God in the Bible! How different their ways of doing things! How incredible their effectiveness . . . When each was himself as God called and envisioned and anointed him to be.

God has not changed. He wants to do the same today with those who will yield to Him, to be led by Him, allow Him to teach them His ways.

"Don't make a principle of your experience, let God be as original with others as he was with you." Oswald Chambers

This article reminds me of another Chambers quote--"Where would you be if God took away all your Christian work? Too often it is our Christian work that is worshiped and not God."

How sad it is that we often enthrone methods and means, and forget the end of all things is to worship God and enjoy him forever.

Where would we be if we were dependent completely on God for our vision?

What would the church look like if we relied on God's Spirit and God's Word more than our methods, our books, or our plans?

Wouldn't you like to see?

Me too!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

 

Some quotes from Carl F. H. Henry

"No treatment of the virtues our Lord taught is adequate which does not assign first place to love. Love is the fountain of the pure heart and the forgiving spirit." Christian Personal Ethics

"Christian love is only half biblical when it deteriorates into a concern only for the souls of men and is indifferent to the needs of the body. What believer ministers to himself only in this way? It is scarcely biblical at all when it degenerates into a mere humanistic concern for the social side of life to the total neglect of the life of the spirit." Christian Personal Ethics

"No society that disregards ethical finalities can long postpone ignominious collapse." The Christian Mindset in a Secular Society

These quotes remind me that the life I have been called to (my "vocation," if you will) is first and finally calculated and determined by love. It starts with the love of God for humanity and culminates in my love for my neighbor created out of a selfish heart changed by the love and grace of God. If there is no love of neighbor in me, then there is likely no love of God.

If I can honestly turn a deaf ear and a hardened heart to the needs (spiritual and physical) of those around me, then I must wonder if my ears and heart have ceased to hear the voice of God or to experience his piercing love and holiness. You see, I cannot love if I have not been loved. John in his first letter says it like this--"We love because he (God) first loved us. If any says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen."

A story about Mother Teresa expresses it like this--when asked how she could show compassion and love to the "untouchables" of India's lowest class, she responded, "I love them because I see Jesus in them. I love Jesus more than anything else."

In a strange twist of "love your neighbor as yourself," Mother Teresa seems to be reminding us that lingering in even the lowest of human lives is some part of the image of God. That image is what I am called to cherish and love. Yes, even if they hate me, I must love them. Respect for human life does not come from an overdeveloped ego or ethic, it comes from recognizing a basic biblical fact--God loves them, so should we.

God does not place a condition on my love for my neighbor. He does not say, "Love him if he becomes Christian."

No, I am to love him even if he refuses Christ.

I am to love my neighbor even if I am ridiculed, even if I am cast out, even if I am persecuted and mistreated.

I must bless them if I have the love of God in me.

Such a life is not easy. It will bring many wounds and scars.

Anyone who has loved greatly will tell you how difficult a broken heart can be. To love another is to risk brokenness.

Oh, the story is not always negative, but neither is it always positive.

We are called to a life of love. Such a life will be founded on the firm conviction of God's love and existence. This foundation of faith provides a foundation of finality to ethics. There are rights and wrongs. Love cannot be one thing to one person and an opposite thing to another. Love is what it is. God's very person and experience with humanity shows true love.

God's love gives (John 3:16). It is not based on what can be received or attained, but is given without expectation of receiving in return. Read 1 Corinthians 13.

We love because he loved us.

Are we willing to risk the dangers of loving others?

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 21, 2006

 

Just a quick thought

I was reading some posts on-line from some of my seminary students. One of them mentioned that he had lost a parent in the last year, and that post brought to mind that my own father passed away 2 years ago this month. In May 2005 I wrote a brief essay in honor of my dad. For those of you who haven't read it, go to this link to see what I had to say: Memories of Dad

I'll try to post something new later. I just missed my dad a bit this afternoon.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

 

Currently playing

On the old CD player here at the office are the following CDs:

1. Switchfoot--"Nothing is Sound"
2. U2--"Rattle and Hum"
3. Jennifer Knapp--"The Collection"
4. Foreigner--"Greatest Hits"

Rock on!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 04, 2006

 

Knowledge + Practice = Faith

Philip Jacob Spener in his Pia Desideria laments the condition of the church and notes "the people must have impressed upon them and must accustom themselves to believing that it is by no means enough to have knowledge of the Christian faith, for Christianity consists rather of practice." (p. 95, emphasis his) He goes on to note especially the command to love one another found throughout Scripture.

While I am in no way willing to disagree with Spener here, I want to add one thing to what he has said--we must learn that knowledge is good, but knowledge without practice is dead. We must learn to do what we know. The act of "doing" requires action or movement on my part. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the very act of putting knowledge into practice is a kind of faith.

Faith in the Bible has the idea of faithfulness behind it. It is not mere consent or agreement, it is acting on something as though that idea or statement was truth itself. Abraham exhibited this when he responded to God by leaving his home and traveling to a new place simply at God's command. The blind man in John 9 exhibited this kind of faith when he went to the pool of Siloam and washed. Simply stated, faith in the Bible means acting on what you know is true.

Peter Lord once said--"We act on what we really believe, all the rest is just religious talk."

I think he is correct.

If I genuinely know that God wants me to do something, not doing it is both disobedience and a lack of faith/faithfulness on my part.

We must remember that our model here is Jesus.

How did he respond to God?

He was faithful in all things. Not once turning away from what was asked. His knowledge was followed by action that showed faith.

Read Hebrews 11.

Every single "hero" of the faith listed in that chapter DID something in response to the knowledge they attained. They acted in faith. They were faithful. Even when they did not actually see the promises realized, they continued to walk in faithfulness since they knew that God would not fail to perform what he promised (see Heb. 11:13-16).

We have the whole testimony of the word of God before us.

We live in an "information age."

We have knowledge beyond our parents and ancestors.

Yet we do so little with it.

We squander our opportunities, we act like what we "know" is not really true. We pretend to be men and women of wisdom, but we act like fools.

We have knowledge, but no faith. Sometimes we have a type of faith, but no action. We are the people to whom James says "Show me your faith without works, and I'll show you my faith by my works."

What do our actions reveal about our knowledge and our faith? By looking at our practice can others discern what we know and believe? If so, what message are we sending them?

God help us to be faithful people!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

 

Charles Wesley: "Depth of Mercy! Can there Be"

Today I wanted to share a hymn written by Charles Wesley. This song often speaks to my heart and reminds me of my utter need for the cross and atoning sacrifice of Christ. May it draw us all closer to our Lord's wounded side.

Depth of mercy! Can there be
Mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God his wrath forbear
And the chief of sinners spare?

I have long withstood his grace;
Long provoked him to his face;
Would not hear his gracious calls;
Grieved him by a thousand falls.

Jesus, answer from above;
Is not all thy nature love?
Wilt thou not the wrong forget?
Lo, I fall before thy feet.

Now incline me to repent;
Let me now my fall lament;
Deeply my revolt deplore,
Weep, believe, and sin no more.

Oh the depth of the wisdom and love of God, that he would continue to bear with fallen humans in patience and grace!

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

Thanks for reading!

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