Why your spouse may irritate you

As always I thank God for this man and his min­istry and for the insights and tal­ent of expres­sion he was giv­en. Had I but heard and heed­ed soon­er… per­haps… per­haps not. It is not as though God had not placed oth­ers in my life to prompt me to see that I refused to see.

Sarah doesn’t cause me to be the way I am. She -reveals- the way I am. There­fore if my response is unlov­ing it reveals an unre­solved sin prob­lem with­in me that can’t be blamed on her; and Sarah’s response is her respon­si­bil­i­ty, so if she response in a way that’s dis­re­spect­ful, that’s her issue.

Think of it this way. A speck of sand in the human eye first caus­es irri­ta­tion, right? And if not cared for, infec­tion and if still not cared for, loss of vision. Now that same speck of sand in an oys­ter caus­es irri­ta­tion then con­cre­tion and then pro­duces what?… a pearl. Now, did the sand cause the eye to lose vision? Did the sand cause the oys­ter to pro­duce a perl? No, the sand is an irri­tant that reveals the inner prop­er­ties of the human eye. The sand is an irri­tant that reveals the inner prop­er­ties of the oys­ter.

On the mar­i­tal bus ride, your spouse is an irri­tant.… . They’re irri­tat­ing you, but they’re reveal­ing your inner prop­er­ties. It’s as sim­ple as that.

The sun in the sky melts the but­ter but it hard­ens the clay. How does the sun know to hard­en the clay and melt the but­ter. It doesn’t. The sun is a heat that is reveal­ing the inner prop­er­ties of the the but­ter, reveal­ing the inner prop­er­ties of the clay. The tri­als that Jesus went through; Did they cause Him to be the Son of God or did they -reveal- Him to be the Son of God.

The tri­als you and I are going through reveal who we are.” ~ Dr. Emer­son Eggerichs

My name is also Ransom.”

The Con­clu­sion of Ransom’s Bat­tle with God and Self, Pere­landra, Ch 11

Clive Staples Lewis

What­ev­er hap­pened here would be of such a nature that earth-men would call it mytho­log­i­cal. All this he had thought before. Now he knew it. The Pres­ence in the dark­ness, nev­er before so for­mi­da­ble, was putting these truths into his hands, like ter­ri­ble jew­els.

The vol­u­ble self was almost thrown out of its argu­men­ta­tive stride—became for some sec­onds as the voice of a mere whim­per­ing child beg­ging to be let off, to be allowed to go home. Then it ral­lied. It explained pre­cise­ly where the absur­di­ty of a phys­i­cal bat­tle with the Un-man lay. It would be quite irrel­e­vant to the spir­i­tu­al issue. If the Lady were to be kept in obe­di­ence only by the forcible removal of the Tempter, what was the use of that? What would it prove? And if the temp­ta­tion were not a prov­ing or test­ing, why was it allowed to hap­pen at all? Did Maleldil sug­gest that our own world might have been saved if the ele­phant had acci­den­tal­ly trod­den on the ser­pent a moment before Eve was about to yield? Was it as easy and as un-moral as that? The thing was patent­ly absurd!

The ter­ri­ble silence went on. It became more and more like a face, a face not with­out sad­ness, that looks upon you while you are telling lies, and nev­er inter­rupts, but grad­u­al­ly you know that it knows, and fal­ter, and con­tra­dict your­self, and lapse into silence. The vol­u­ble self petered out in the end, Almost the Dark­ness said to Ran­som, “You know you are only wast­ing time.” Every minute it became clear­er to him that the par­al­lel he had tried to draw between Eden and Pere­landra was crude and imper­fect. What had hap­pened on Earth, when Maleldil was born a man at Beth­le­hem, had altered the uni­verse for ever. The new world of Pere­landra was not a mere rep­e­ti­tion of the old world Tel­lus. Maleldil nev­er repeat­ed Him­self. As the Lady had said, the same wave nev­er came twice. When Eve fell, God was not Man. He had not yet made men mem­bers of His body: since then He had, and through them hence­for­ward He would save and suf­fer. One of the pur­pos­es for which He had done all this was to save Pere­landra not through Him­self but through Him­self in Ran­som. If Ran­som refused, the plan, so far, mis­car­ried. For that point in the sto­ry, a sto­ry far more com­pli­cat­ed than he had con­ceived, it was he who had been select­ed. With a strange sense of “fallings from him, van­ish­ings,” he per­ceived that you might just as well call Pere­landra, not Tel­lus, the cen­tre. You might look upon the Pere­landri­an sto­ry as mere­ly an indi­rect con­se­quence of the Incar­na­tion on earth: or you might look on the Earth sto­ry as mere prepa­ra­tion for the new worlds of which Pere­landra was the first. The one was nei­ther more nor less true than the oth­er. Noth­ing was more or less impor­tant than any­thing else, noth­ing was a copy or mod­el of any­thing else.

At the same time he also per­ceived that his vol­u­ble self had begged the ques­tion. Up to this point the Lady had repelled her assailant. She was shak­en and weary, and there were some stains per­haps in her imag­i­na­tion, but she had stood. In that respect the sto­ry already dif­fered from any­thing that he cer­tain­ly knew about the moth­er of our own race. He did not know whether Eve had resist­ed at all, or if so, for how long. Still less did he know how the sto­ry would have end­ed if she had. If the “ser­pent” had been foiled, and returned the next day, and the next … what then? Would the tri­al have last­ed for ever? How would Maleldil have stopped it? Here on Pere­landra his own intu­ition had been not that no temp­ta­tion must occur but that “This can’t go on.” This stop­ping of a third-degree solic­i­ta­tion, already more than once refused, was a prob­lem to which the ter­res­tri­al Fall offered no clue—a new task, and for that new task a new char­ac­ter in the dra­ma, who appeared (most unfor­tu­nate­ly) to be him­self. In vain did his mind hark back, time after time, to the Book of Gen­e­sis, ask­ing “What would have hap­pened?” But to this it brought him back to the here and the now, and to the grow­ing cer­tain­ty of what was here and now demand­ed. Almost he felt that the words “would have hap­pened” were meaningless—mere invi­ta­tions to wan­der in what the Lady would have called an “along­side world” which had no real­i­ty. Only the actu­al was real: and every actu­al sit­u­a­tion was new. Here in Pere­landra the temp­ta­tion would be stopped by Ran­som, or if would not be stopped at all. The Voice—for it was almost with a Voice that he was now contending—seemed to cre­ate around this alter­na­tive an infi­nite vacan­cy. This chap­ter, this page, this very sen­tence, in the cos­mic sto­ry was utter­ly and eter­nal­ly itself; no oth­er pas­sage that had occurred or ever would occur could be sub­sti­tut­ed for it.

It is not for noth­ing that you are named Ran­som,” said the Voice.

And he knew that this was no fan­cy of his own. He knew it for a very curi­ous reason—because he had known for many years that his sur­name was derived not from ran­som but from Randolf’s son. It would nev­er have occurred to him thus to asso­ciate the two words. To con­nect the name Ran­som with the act of ran­som­ing would have been for him a mere pun. But even his vol­u­ble self did not now dare to sug­gest that the Voice was mak­ing a play upon words. All in a moment of time he per­ceived that what was, to human philol­o­gists, a mere acci­den­tal resem­blance of two sounds, was in truth no acci­dent. The whole dis­tinc­tion between things acci­den­tal and things designed, like the dis­tinc­tion between fact and myth, was pure­ly ter­res­tri­al. The pat­tern is so large that with­in the lit­tle frame of earth­ly expe­ri­ence there appear pieces of it between which we can see no con­nec­tion, and oth­er pieces between which we can. Hence we right­ly, for our use, dis­tin­guish the acci­den­tal from the essen­tial. But step out­side that frame and the dis­tinc­tion drops down into the void, flut­ter­ing use­less wings. He had been forced out of the frame, caught up into the larg­er pat­tern. He knew now why the old philoso­phers had said that there is no such thing as chance or for­tune beyond the Moon. Before his Moth­er had borne him, before his ances­tors had been called Ran­soms, before ran­som had been the name for a pay­ment that deliv­ers, before the world was made, all these things had so stood togeth­er in eter­ni­ty that the very sig­nif­i­cance of the pat­tern at this point lay in their com­ing togeth­er in just this fash­ion. And he bowed his head and groaned and repined against his fate—to be still a man and yet to be forced up into the meta­phys­i­cal world, to enact what phi­los­o­phy only thinks.

My name also is Ran­som,” said the Voice.

It was some time before the pur­port of this say­ing dawned upon him. He whom the oth­er worlds call Maleldil, was the world’s ran­som, his own ran­som, well he knew. But to what pur­pose was it said now? Before the answer came to him he felt its insuf­fer­able approach and held out his arms before him as if he could keep it from forc­ing open the door of his mind. But it came. So that was the real issue. If he now failed, this world also would here­after be redeemed. If he were not the ran­som, Anoth­er would be. Yet noth­ing was ever repeat­ed. Not a sec­ond cru­ci­fix­ion: perhaps—who knows—not even a sec­ond Incarnation…some act of even more appalling love, some glo­ry of yet deep­er humil­i­ty. For he had seen already how the pat­tern grows and how from each world it sprouts into the next through some oth­er dimen­sion. The small exter­nal evil which Satan had done in Mala­can­dra was only as a line: the deep­er evil he had done in Earth was as a square: if Venus fell, her evil would be a cube—her Redemp­tion beyond con­ceiv­ing. Yet redeemed she would be. He had long known that great issues hung on his choice; but as he now realised the true width of the fright­ful free­dom that was being put into his hands—a width to which all mere­ly spa­tial infin­i­ty seemed narrow—he felt like a man brought out under naked heav­en, on the edge of a precipice, into the teeth of a wind that came howl­ing from the role. He had pic­tured him­self, till now, stand­ing before the Lord, like Peter. But it was worse. He sat before Him like Pilate. It lay with him to save or to spill. His hands had been red­dened, as all men’s hands have been, in the slay­ing before the foun­da­tion of the world; now, if he chose, he would dip them again in the same blood. “Mer­cy,” he groaned; and then, “Lord, why not me?” But there was no answer.

The thing still seemed impos­si­ble. But grad­u­al­ly some­thing hap­pened to him which had hap­pened to him only twice before in his life. It had hap­pened once while he was try­ing to make up his mind to do a very dan­ger­ous job in the last war. It had hap­pened again while he was screw­ing his res­o­lu­tion to go and see a cer­tain man in Lon­don and make to him an exces­sive­ly embar­rass­ing con­fes­sion which jus­tice demand­ed. In both cas­es the thing had seemed a sheer impos­si­bil­i­ty: he had not thought but known that, being what he was, he was psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly inca­pable of doing it; and then, with­out any appar­ent move­ment of the will, as objec­tive and unemo­tion­al as the read­ing on a dial, there had arisen before him, with per­fect cer­ti­tude, the knowl­edge ‘about this time tomor­row you will have done the impos­si­ble’. The same thing hap­pened now. His fear, his shame, his love, all his argu­ments, were not altered in the least. The thing was nei­ther more nor less dread­ful than it had been before. The only dif­fer­ence was that he knew—almost as a his­tor­i­cal proposition—that it was going to be done. He might beg, weep, or rebel—might curse or adore—sing like a mar­tyr or blas­pheme like a dev­il. It made not the slight­est dif­fer­ence. The thing was going to be done. There was going to arrive, in the course of time, a moment at which he would have done it. The future act stood there, fixed and unal­ter­able as if he had already per­formed it. It was a mere irrel­e­vant detail that it hap­pened to occu­py the posi­tion we call future instead of that which we call past. The whole strug­gle was over, and yet there seemed to have been no moment of vic­to­ry. You might say, if you liked, that the pow­er of choice had been sim­ply set aside and an inflex­i­ble des­tiny sub­sti­tut­ed for it. On the oth­er hand, you might say that he had been deliv­ered from the rhetoric of his pas­sions and had emerged into unas­sail­able free­dom. Ran­som could not, for the life of him, see any dif­fer­ence between these two state­ments. Pre­des­ti­na­tion and free­dom were appar­ent­ly iden­ti­cal. He could no longer see any mean­ing in the many argu­ments he had heard on this sub­ject.

No soon­er had he dis­cov­ered that he would cer­tain­ly try to kill the Un-man tomor­row than the doing of it appeared to him a small­er mat­ter than he had sup­posed. He could hard­ly remem­ber why he had accused him­self of mega­lo­ma­nia when the idea first occurred to him. It was true that if he left it undone, Maleldil Him­self would do some greater thing instead. In that sense, he stood for Maleldil: but no more than Eve would have stood for Him by sim­ply not eat­ing the apple, or than any man stands for Him in doing any good action. As there was no com­par­i­son in per­son, so there was none in suffering—or only such com­par­i­son as may be between a man who burns his fin­ger putting out a spark and a fire­man who los­es his life in fight­ing a con­fla­gra­tion because that spark was not put out. He asked no longer ‘Why me?’ It might as well be he as anoth­er. It might as well be any oth­er choice as this. The fierce light which he had seen rest­ing on this moment of deci­sion rest­ed in real­i­ty on all.

I have cast your Ene­my into sleep,” said the Voice. “He will not wake till morn­ing. Get up. Walk twen­ty paces back into the wood; there sleep. Your sis­ter sleeps also.”

— Clive Sta­ples Lewis, Pere­landra, Chap­ter 11, 1943 [Empha­sis mine]

Quot­ed here with­out per­mis­sion. As such I hope it may inspire to buy a copy and read it in its entire­ty. This text is copy­right: Smarmy Turtle­necked Trai­tor, The C.S. Lewis Co. Ltd. First Floor, Unit 4, Old Gen­er­a­tor House, Bourne Val­ley Road, Poole, Dorset, BH12 1DZ, Tel: 01202 765652, Fax: 01202 765665

I read this over the phone to me mum the on Sept 4th with much expla­na­tion to help her under­stand why I was lean­ing towards ‘Ran­som’ as a mid­dle-name when I final­ly legal­ly change my sur­name. I couldn’t get through it, with­out stop­ping sev­er­al times for sob­bing. This trig­gers in me many of the same strong feel­ings as does Reepichieep’s “Sweet! Sweet!” or the prompt­ing, “Fur­ther up! Fur­ther in!”. “My name is also Ran­som.” Every time I read it it hits me hard­er than the time before. There are a few oth­er for which the same has been true: God’s Chis­el, The Bird­cage, Erin Fede’s ver­sion of The Life­house “Every­thing” Dra­ma, and the orig­i­nal ver­sion.

I’ll not spoil it fur­ther by adding my own pon­der­ings oth­er than to say that my love for Lewis for his gift­ings grows con­tin­u­al­ly deep­er. He has “made me old­er” on so much that is tru­ly impor­tant. Each time I read him, whether fic­tion or non, I feel as though I am sit­ting at the feet of the wise old Don and drink­ing deeply of great draughts of nour­ish­ing and bol­ster­ing drink. In turn I am filled with grat­i­tude to God for His gift of this man who passed 10 years before I was giv­en life.

Freedom within boundaries. ‘A Sonnet kind of life.’

I was look­ing for this pas­sage in order to quote it else­where and stum­bled into a bit of extra bless­ing in the con­text of where I found it, a blog arti­cle titled “A Son­net kind of life” writ­ten by Joanne Heim for her site, The Sim­ple Wife.

How can I explain it to you? Oh, I know. In your lan­guage you have a form of poet­ry called the son­net.”

Yes, yes,” Calvin said impa­tient­ly. “What’s that got to do with the Hap­py Medi­um?”

Kind­ly pay me the cour­tesy of lis­ten­ing to me.” Mrs. Whatsit’s voice was stern, and for a moment Calvin stopped paw­ing the ground like a ner­vous colt. “It is a very strict form of poet­ry, is it not?”

Yes.”

There are four­teen lines, I believe, all in iambic pen­tame­ter. That’s a very strict rhythm or meter, yes?”

Yes.” Calvin nod­ded.

And each line has to end with a rigid rhyme pat­tern. And if the poet does not do it exact­ly this way, it is not a son­net, is it?”

No.”

But with­in this strict form the poet has com­plete free­dom to say what­ev­er he wants, doesn’t he?”

Yes.” Calvin nod­ded again.

So,” Mrs. What­sit said.

So what?”

Oh, do not be stu­pid, boy!” Mrs. What­sit scold­ed.” You know per­fect­ly well what I am dri­ving at!”

You mean you’re com­par­ing our lives to a son­net? A strict form, but free­dom with­in it?”

Yes.” Mrs. What­sit said. “You’re giv­en the form, but you have to write the son­net your­self. What you say is com­plete­ly up to you.”

— Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrin­kle in Time, Kairos

Of this quote she wrote,“Once more, I’m faced with the idea of free­dom with­in bound­aries. Of the inside being big­ger than the out­side. Of being bound to be free… …Bound­aries. Time, place. Finances, fam­i­ly. Skills, tal­ents. Ener­gy, resources. The strict form that makes up my life. Your life. The struc­ture that sur­rounds us, that con­tains us. That pro­tects us. That shapes us. But absolute free­dom with­in that struc­ture.”

Madeleine L’Engle may be sus­pect in many areas of the­ol­o­gy (I have a tal­ent for under­state­ment), but I appre­ci­ate her grasp of this essen­tial con­cept of the Chris­t­ian life, or more gen­er­al­ly, the life of one who rec­og­nizes, acknowl­edges, and tries to hon­or the Sov­er­eign God of the uni­verse. We have the free­dom to choose what is most impor­tant in our lives and the free­dom for that choice to be God, His Glo­ry, His instruc­tion, and a very great promise if we make the choice to reject sin and put our faith in Him. It brings to mind the words of Jim Elliot, “He is no fool who gives what he can­not keep to gain that which he can­not lose.” In a world that rages against bound­aries and lim­its, who “Believe that taboos are taboo”, which rebels against even the imper­son­al lim­its imposed by com­mon sense, physics, and real­i­ty, it’s nice to be able to illus­trate with such sim­ple com­pelling clar­i­ty why there is free­dom in obe­di­ence.

If you draw people using carnal means, you will have to keep people using carnal means

This mes­sage giv­en by Paul Wash­er to the Way of the Mas­ter Con­fer­ence real­ly speaks to a lot of the things that have been on my heart and mind recent­ly, and it echos very close­ly a state­ment of Ravi Zacharias that first put some of these thoughts into focus for me.

But the more you depend upon the arm of the flesh, and the more church­es attempt to grow, not by being bib­li­cal, but find­ing the lat­est thing to appeal to the great­est num­ber of peo­ple, as long as we are doing that we will nev­er see the pow­er of God.

And the church, in its desire to become rel­e­vant, makes itself look like a fool in the midst of its ene­mies.

The church today in Amer­i­ca looks like a 6-Flags-Over-Jesus; because if you draw peo­ple, using car­nal means, you will have to keep peo­ple using car­nal means.

Internal dichotomy of dealing with Sin and receiving Solace: “You cannot have it both ways.”

ThePilgrim'sRegressBookcoverI missed this rather incred­i­ble por­tion the first time or two around.

John is close to the end of his Jour­ney; a jour­ney phys­i­cal, men­tal, and spir­i­tu­al. All the expe­ri­ences, refine­ments, inputs and guid­ance; good, bad, evil, sense­less, sound, are cul­mi­nat­ing into a true real­iza­tion of the nature and per­son of “The Land­lord” and his rela­tion­ship to Him. It final­ly takes just one more bit of input, a tiny cat­a­lyst of truth for it to crys­tal­lize into true, pro­found, and com­plete knowl­edge.

He had been will­ing to trust God to aid him when he cried out for help, but not to trust Him enough to sur­ren­der con­trol.

How like that we all are. We can­not have it both ways.

For a while he went on cau­tious­ly, but he was haunt­ed by a pic­ture in his mind of a place where the path would break off short when it was too dark for him to see, and he would step on air. This fear made him halt more and more fre­quent­ly to exam­ine his ground: and when he went on it was each time more slow­ly: till at last he came to a stand­still. There seemed to be noth­ing for it but to rest where he was. The night was warm, but he was both hun­gry and thirsty. And he sat down. It was quite dark now.

Then I dreamed that once more a Man came to him in the dark­ness and said, ‘You must pass the night where you are, but I have brought you a loaf and if you crawl along the ledge ten paces more you will find that a lit­tle fall of water comes down the cliff.’

Sir,’ said John. ‘I do not know your name and I can­not see your face, but I thank you. Will you not sit down and eat, your­self?’

I am full and not hun­gry,’ said the Man. ‘And I will pass on. But one word before I go. You can­not have it both ways.’

What do you mean, sir?’

Your life has been saved all this day by cry­ing out to some­thing which you call by many names, and you have said to your­self that you used metaphors.’

Was I wrong, sir?’

Per­haps not. But you must play fair. If its help is not a metaphor, nei­ther are its com­mands. If it can answer when you call, then it can speak with­out your ask­ing. If you can go to it, it can come to you.’

I think I see, sir. You mean that I am not my own man: in some sense I have a Land­lord after all?’

Even so. But what is it that dis­mays you? You heard from Wis­dom how the rules were yours and not yours. Did you not mean to keep them? And if so, can it scare you to know that there is one who will make you able to keep them?’

Well,’ said John, ‘I sup­pose you have found me out. Per­haps I did not ful­ly mean to keep them — not all — or not all the time. And yet, in a way, I think I did. It is like a thorn in your fin­ger, sir. You know when you set about tak­ing it out your­self — you mean to get it out — you know it will hurt — and it does hurt — but some­how it is not very seri­ous busi­ness — well, I sup­pose, because you feel that you always could stop if it was very bad. Not that you intend to stop. But it is a very dif­fer­ent thing to hold your hand out to a sur­geon to be hurt as much as he thinks fit. And at his speed.’

The Man laughed. ‘I see you under­stand me very well,’ He said, ‘but the great thing is to get the thorn out.’. And then He went away.

— Clive Sta­ples Lewis, The Pilgrim’s Regress [empha­sis mine]

I sup­pose you have found me out. Per­haps I did not ful­ly mean to keep them — not all — or not all the time. And yet, in a way, I think I did. It is like a thorn in your fin­ger, sir. You know when you set about tak­ing it out your­self — you mean to get it out — you know it will hurt — and it does hurt — but some­how it is not very seri­ous busi­ness — well, I sup­pose, because you feel that you always could stop if it was very bad. Not that you intend to stop. But it is a very dif­fer­ent thing to hold your hand out to a sur­geon to be hurt as much as he thinks fit. And at his speed.’

I need to make this gel and cohere in my own life and fig­ure out how to move for­ward pos­i­tive­ly in such a way as to have it always affect my think­ing and doing. This applies to so many of my own per­son­al strug­gles. I am deter­mined to rely on my own gump­tion and under­stand­ing to over­come my vices and addic­tions because I don’t want to give over con­trol to the sur­geon. I want to retain the abil­i­ty to stop if I chose. I know friends in their same own lone­ly, lame­ly list­ing cor­a­cle in an end­less sea.

The por­tion If its help is not a metaphor, nei­ther are its com­mands., serves as absolute con­vic­tion of pros­per­i­ty gospel and the social gospel I’ve heard preached in post-mod­ern church­es. You can­not preach a won­der­ful hap­py warm-fuzzy God who wants you to have joy and peace and hap­pi­ness w/o also acknowl­edg­ing that this self­same God has also made require­ments of us. Imper­a­tives we can­not ignore. We can­not have it both ways.

Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed to Face­book July 27, 2011 at 3:43pm

In Christ Alone” shall remain true to biblical gospel

http://www.abc2news.com/dpp/lifestyle/hymn-writers-wont-change-lyric-for-presbyterians

The pop­u­lar hymn “In Christ Alone” won’t appear in the new hym­nal of the Pres­by­ter­ian Church (U.S.A.) because hymn writ­ers Kei­th Get­ty and Stu­art Tow­nend refused to change the lyrics.

Mary Louise Bringle, who chairs the Pres­by­ter­ian Com­mit­tee on Con­gre­ga­tion­al Songs, writes in “The Chris­t­ian Cen­tu­ry” that some com­mit­tee mem­bers object­ed to the line that says, “On that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was sat­is­fied.”

She says they asked Get­ty and Tow­nend if the lyric could be changed to say “the love of God was mag­ni­fied.”

The hymn writ­ers wouldn’t allow it.

Get­ty has said they wrote “In Christ Alone” to tell “the whole gospel.”

Bringle writes that most com­mit­tee mem­bers didn’t want the new Pres­by­ter­ian hym­nal to sug­gest that Jesus’ death on the cross was an aton­ing sac­ri­fice that was need­ed “to assuage God’s anger” over sin.

Out­stand­ing. I appre­ci­ate their hold­ing firm even though it means loss of roy­al­ties and expo­sure. Hard choice and they put faith over oth­er con­sid­er­a­tions. How does dc Talk put it? “Is this one for the peo­ple? Is this one for the Lord? Or do I sim­ply ser­e­nade for things I must afford? You can jum­ble them togeth­er. My con­flict still remains, holi­ness is call­ing In the midst of court­ing fame.”

I only recent­ly became aware of the debate over “removal of wrath”, pro­pi­ti­a­tion and expi­a­tion, and so on and so forth. I haven’t even grasped the scope of the posi­tions, the ter­mi­nolo­gies, and I haven’t yet even begun to under­stand the argu­ments peo­ple put forth, but I am moti­vat­ed to explore it. For now, I remain firm in belief that Christ died to sat­is­fy our debt and remove God’s wrath from us.

First impres­sions are that this whole issue is going to end up in the box I’m keep­ing of doc­trines that have led to the present-day church that cre­ates false-con­verts and feels that the gospel needs to be giv­en a facelift to make it more palat­able… that has led to Word of Faith teach­ing, Pros­per­i­ty Gospel, Sales Pitch Evan­ge­lism, and the Bud­dy Jesus. First impres­sions are only use­ful if they lead to refine­ment and sec­ond and third and even­tu­al­ly firm impres­sions.

I just don’t under­stand the men­tal­i­ty that strug­gles with the idea of an awe­some God who is holy and thus capa­ble of anger, wrath, pun­ish­ment, cor­rec­tion, say­ing ‘no’, tak­ing away priv­i­leges, and judg­ing sin from obe­di­ence. What an awe­some God, wor­thy of wor­ship! It makes His love for us all the more fan­tas­tic and worth­while and joy-pro­vok­ing… He keeps reach­ing down to us and giv­ing us chances to become obe­di­ent instead of writ­ing us off as a bad job. The scope of this blows my mind… He cre­at­ed an entire uni­verse for us. He cre­at­ed us. He cre­at­ed a gar­den and in order to give us true free-will, gave us only one instruc­tion to which we must be obe­di­ent… and we did not, and thou­sands of years have now passed with exam­ple after exam­ple of His try­ing to redeem us and give us anoth­er chance to be obe­di­ent… If He were to tal­ly the bill for all the redemp­tions of all the Gomers across all the years and put that quan­ti­ty of sil­ver and bar­ley on the sur­face of the earth, I sus­pect we’d be nudg­ing the moon out of orbit before the account­ing even reached the birth of Christ.

Hooray, Liv­ing Waters has weighed in!

My Testimony

Begin­ning July 31, 2013 — Work in Progress.

Notes:

And it begins. It hit me this morn­ing that the only way to get this done was to start. Then I had a clever bit of insight which I repeat­ed in my head sev­er­al times to make cer­tain that I wouldn’t for­get it before get­ting to a com­put­er to write it down. I’ve for­got­ten what it was. Utter­ly.

And yes, some­thing that will only fill half a page will be some­thing that requires me to write out ran­dom thoughts as I have them and slow­ly grow the prod­uct. This is not prose… it is ran­dom ram­bling, out­pour­ing of heart that hope­ful­ly may be refined lat­er into some­thing of sig­nif­i­cance… because that’s my sto­ry… a process of refin­ing to become some­thing that may be of some significance…while slow­ly real­iz­ing that I have always been sig­nif­i­cant… to God.

One thing I do remem­ber was that the urge to write it out came to me while lis­ten­ing to a Liv­ing Waters pod­cast “Wel­come to the Most Annoy­ing Hour on Radio”. They were dis­cussing some British pas­tors who were big in the Emer­gent Church move­ment and break­ing down those pastor’s respons­es to inter­view ques­tions about what makes for a good ser­mon and such. The one thing that was the­mat­ic through­out was that the EC pas­tors were all about ‘me’. They were the sort to like the quote, “Preach the gospel always, if nec­es­sary, use words.” [From mem­o­ry, I’ll get it prop­er lat­er when I have more time]. Todd “Freak­ish­ly Tall” Freil real­ly turned the light of clear think­ing on this phrase and iden­ti­fy it as “Me” based… He was clear that it should be words, the gospel first, and then our lives to sup­port our words.

So… that made me won­der… A per­son­al tes­ti­mo­ny. Is that not a “Me” spread­ing of the gospel? I don’t know. I’m not going to pon­der it right now… I’m going to write out my tes­ti­mo­ny, and if at some point I firm up one way or the oth­er, I’ll either share or not share my tes­ti­mo­ny, or share my tes­ti­mo­ny only after I’ve shared the gospel… or some­thing…

I think my thought that I can­not remem­ber was some­thing to the effect of open­ing with a ques­tion such as, “Does this per­son­al tes­ti­mo­ny -have- to be some engag­ing tale of a life of unre­pen­tant sin and pain and then a come to Jesus moment (com­plete with date, time, loca­tion and what one was wear­ing at the time), and then a tale of a life changed, or would some­one find it just as hon­est and engag­ing to hear a sto­ry of a per­son who was blessed to be born into the faith… a per­son who epit­o­mizes Romans 3:23… a per­son who, is a sin­ner and has had the truth all along but has always warred between his sin-nature and the sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion of being in faith­ful rela­tion­ship with God? Is that not more tru­ly a tale that every­one can relate to… even those who don’t know God and will have, or do and have had a Come-to-Jesus expe­ri­ence? Do not those expe­ri­ences fall entire­ly with­in this venn dia­gram? I think I want my tes­ti­mo­ny to focus on a life being refined… of growth and back­slid­ing, of sin and repen­tance of a God who keeps tak­ing me back and a life that I believe is grow­ing in the right direc­tion… I am a stub­born arro­gant intractable guy who trusts in him­self and takes FOREVER to be shown some­thing and repeat­ed beat­ings about the head and neck to get my atten­tion and maybe whap a few new bits of truth in… and those bits often have to be whapped in sev­er­al times before they get absorbed with­in. If Philip­pi­ans 1:6 is my most per­son­al­ly sig­nif­i­cant verse, then wouldn’t that be the sto­ry of the truth of that verse? God’s sto­ry of love and patience and redemp­tion and grace was spread out over 66 books and gen­er­a­tions of Jews… my life is sim­ply a con­densed ver­sion of the same sto­ry… falling away, com­ing back on my knees, being tak­en in, grow­ing a bit, grow­ing com­pla­cent, get­ting dis­tract­ed, falling away or get­ting my think­ing out of whack, com­ing back, repent­ing, being tak­en in, being bro­ken, being grown, falling away.… I’m final­ly to the point where I think I may be -glad- that I don’t have a “Dread­ful­ly-dying, Application/acceptance of won­der-drug, heal­ing and health” sto­ry. I strug­gled with not hav­ing one and won­der­ing, “How can some­one who was blessed to be fed truth with his bot­tle pos­si­bly have a sto­ry that some­one who has nev­er been fed that truth is able to relate to and feel impact­ed?” I think I’ve just real­ized… what about all those peo­ple who are lost who aren’t going to have the Come-to-Jesus/Road to Damascus/Moment of Clar­i­ty… It seems there are more of them than the oth­er… what if my sto­ry is one that a raga­muf­fin who real­izes his bro­ken­ness and empti­ness and that he’s inca­pable of find­ing the right way on his own, hears the story/offer, pon­ders, and then, in a qui­et moment… not even sure exact­ly when, comes to Christ on his knees, bro­ken and con­trite and begs for­give­ness and sin­cere­ly repents… so aware of his deprav­i­ty that he almost can’t accept the gift that’s offered because he knows that jus­tice is for him to die and to him the moment is not about receiv­ing sal­va­tion, but final­ly come­ing to the end of him­self, drop­ping the self-lies and the excus­es, and hum­bling him­self before God… he would take the death if only he could know that, just before pun­ish­ment was met­ed out, that he had found for­give­ness and approval from his heav­en­ly father… he would die to have it… qui­et­ly… While Angels REJOICE in all the heav­ens that yet anoth­er pil­grim has come to the foot of the cross and laid down his bur­den… and for that, he is picked up off his face and embraced and brought into God’s fam­i­ly, into fel­low­ship, made clean, sanc­ti­fied, endowed with the promise of ever­last­ing life with his heav­en­ly father and the sanc­ti­fy­ing seal of and indwelling by the Holy Spir­it… all to con­tin­ue the jour­ney onward from the cross… a jour­ney that may only slow­ly begin to look dif­fer­ent as refin­ing begins.

For the first time I feel, “I can do this.” “I have some­thing worth­while to offer.” I always have, but I had to real­ize it. I’m stoked… but I’m also at the point of weep­ing after gush­ing out the pre­vi­ous into words. I need to get back to work… but I want to come back to this. Want to refine, define. But I also real­ly want to read A Pilgrim’s Progress and let Bun­yan again show me how incred­i­ble my sto­ry is… the sto­ry of every Chris­t­ian who ever was. Show me and once again put it on my heart not to take it for grant­ed, not to think that I’ve arrived, to trust God and not myself, to press onwards.

[End 20130731a]

Have you invited Jesus into your heart?

It’s recent­ly been the focus of David Platt and Ray Com­fort et. al., that we use the phrase, “Invite Jesus into your heart.”, and they sug­gest that the phrase and con­cept isn’t scrip­tur­al. It’s a great metaphor that helps under­stand­ing of the rela­tion­ship we begin when we repent with con­tri­tion and acknowl­edge Christ as Lord and sav­ior and accept the gift of sal­va­tion.

Legal­ism? Or some­thing to con­tem­plate when we choose our words when explain­ing the gospel? What bib­li­cal lan­guage would fill the role if it were to be retired?

Part of this con­cern is in response to a change in how we explain/spread the gospel in the “Evan­gel­i­cal” Chris­t­ian Church that’s occurred over the last half-cen­tu­ry or so that Ray and oth­ers believe has actu­al­ly result­ed in a great many false-con­verts who, instead of becom­ing Chris­tians with con­trite repen­tance and sin­cere giv­ing of Lord­ship to Jesus Christ, are instead becom­ing inoc­u­lat­ed against ever mak­ing such a conversion/repentance/confession of faith. I see direct links to this giv­ing rise to Pros­per­i­ty Gospel, Word of Faith teach­ing, and the Emer­gent Church move­ment where folks like Rob Bell of Mars Hill write books explain­ing that there real­ly is no such thing as Hell.

I’m not talk­ing about Hell­fire Preach­ing. Hell­fire Preach­ing will pro­duce Fear-Filled con­verts. Using God’s law will pro­duce Tear-Filled con­verts.” — Ray Com­fort “Hell’s Best Kept Secret” @43:47

Are our words real­ly so very impor­tant? I was uncon­vinced at first, but over the last month, I’ve real­ly begun to pon­der that ques­tion and become con­vinced that in try­ing to reach peo­ple and make Chris­tian­i­ty palat­able and ‘hip’, we’ve watered down the gospel to some­thing per­haps less strong than the prover­bial church punch/le­mon-aid.

This def­i­nite­ly qual­i­fies as pon­der­ings and won­der­ings as I don’t know where I stand entire­ly, let alone what to do about it once I do.

It is a glorious phrase – “He led captivity captive”

James Stuart Stewart (1896–1990)

The very tri­umphs of His foes, it means, He used for their defeat. He com­pelled their dark achieve­ments to sub­serve His end, not theirs. They nailed Him to the tree, not know­ing that by that very act they were bring­ing the world to His feet. They gave Him a cross, not guess­ing that He would make it a throne. They flung Him out­side the gates to die, not know­ing that in that very moment they were lift­ing up all the gates of the uni­verse, to let the King come in. They thought to root out His doc­trines, not under­stand­ing that they were implant­i­ng imper­ish­ably in the hearts of men the very name they intend­ed to destroy. They thought they had defeat­ed God with His back to the wall, pinned and help­less and defeat­ed: they did not know that it was God Him­self who had tracked them down. He did not con­quer in spite of the dark mys­tery of evil. He con­quered through it.

— James Stu­art Stew­art (1896–1990), Scot­land

Psalm 68:18 KJV

Thou hast ascend­ed on high, thou hast led cap­tiv­i­ty cap­tive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebel­lious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.

Eph­esians 4 KJV

1 I there­fore, the pris­on­er of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk wor­thy of the voca­tion where­with ye are called, 2 With all low­li­ness and meek­ness, with long­suf­fer­ing, for­bear­ing one anoth­er in love; 3 Endeav­our­ing to keep the uni­ty of the Spir­it in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spir­it, even as ye are called in one hope of your call­ing; 5 One Lord, one faith, one bap­tism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But unto every one of us is giv­en grace accord­ing to the mea­sure of the gift of Christ. 8 Where­fore he saith, When he ascend­ed up on high, he led cap­tiv­i­ty cap­tive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascend­ed, what is it but that he also descend­ed first into the low­er parts of the earth? 10 He that descend­ed is the same also that ascend­ed up far above all heav­ens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apos­tles; and some, prophets; and some, evan­ge­lists; and some, pas­tors and teach­ers; 12 For the per­fect­ing of the saints, for the work of the min­istry, for the edi­fy­ing of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the uni­ty of the faith, and of the knowl­edge of the Son of God, unto a per­fect man, unto the mea­sure of the stature of the ful­ness of Christ: 14 That we hence­forth be no more chil­dren, tossed to and fro, and car­ried about with every wind of doc­trine, by the sleight of men, and cun­ning crafti­ness, where­by they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speak­ing the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fit­ly joined togeth­er and com­pact­ed by that which every joint sup­pli­eth, accord­ing to the effec­tu­al work­ing in the mea­sure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edi­fy­ing of itself in love. 17 This I say there­fore, and tes­ti­fy in the Lord, that ye hence­forth walk not as oth­er Gen­tiles walk, in the van­i­ty of their mind, 18 Hav­ing the under­stand­ing dark­ened, being alien­at­ed from the life of God through the igno­rance that is in them, because of the blind­ness of their heart: 19 Who being past feel­ing have giv­en them­selves over unto las­civ­i­ous­ness, to work all unclean­ness with greed­i­ness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off con­cern­ing the for­mer con­ver­sa­tion the old man, which is cor­rupt accord­ing to the deceit­ful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spir­it of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is cre­at­ed in right­eous­ness and true holi­ness. 25 Where­fore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neigh­bour: for we are mem­bers one of anoth­er. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Nei­ther give place to the dev­il. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, work­ing with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no cor­rupt com­mu­ni­ca­tion pro­ceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edi­fy­ing, that it may min­is­ter grace unto the hear­ers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spir­it of God, where­by ye are sealed unto the day of redemp­tion. 31 Let all bit­ter­ness, and wrath, and anger, and clam­our, and evil speak­ing, be put away from you, with all mal­ice: 32 And be ye kind one to anoth­er, ten­der­heart­ed, for­giv­ing one anoth­er, even as God for Christ’s sake hath for­giv­en you.

He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again

Annie J. Flint
He Giveth More Grace

He giveth more grace as our bur­dens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflic­tions He addeth His mer­cy,
To mul­ti­plied tri­als He mul­ti­plies peace.

When we have exhaust­ed our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoard­ed resources
Our Father’s full giv­ing is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His pro­vi­sion,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm ever­last­ing, avail­ing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no lim­its, His grace has no mea­sure,
His pow­er no bound­ary known unto men;
For out of His infi­nite rich­es in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

— Annie J. Flint — 1866–1932

Today rep­re­sents pos­si­bly the third or fourth time I’ve heard Ravi Zacharias quote this hymn, and in his usu­al man­ner, I find his deliv­ery [ lis­ten ] to give prose far greater impact than when I ren­der with my own phras­ing when read­ing or recit­ing. He includ­ed this in part two of his most recent Let My Peo­ple Think mes­sage, “What answer for the wicked human heart?”. Pt 1, Pt 2

Jesus Christ — the youngest minichurch pastor in history

Bare­bones min­i­mum, yes?
Does the gospel need a $300,000 sound/lighting/video sys­tem to reach hearts?

Is the gospel rel­e­vant to the heart of some­one today, or must it be made rel­e­vant with pithy grit­ty angst, a rock-con­cert atmos­phere, and the Holy Spir­it rid­ing the back of the mega-church smoke machines?

I dis­cov­ered that I have a mail­box at church last week, or rather that the A/V Min­istry does. This is appar­ent­ly a fix­ture estab­lished for two rea­sons. The first is for the mem­ber [dear­ly loved] of the con­gre­ga­tion who reminds me near­ly every week that our 87dB wor­ship ser­vice is too loud and pro­hib­i­tive to wor­ship. I found a col­lec­tion of pho­to­copied jour­nal arti­cles and even jour­nals them­selves with bits cir­cled and notes paper-clipped to pages out­lin­ing the dan­gers of expo­sure to heavy sound pres­sure lev­els. *chuck­le* I feel bad because there were some con­tri­bu­tions that had sat there lan­guish­ing unread for a long while. The sec­ond pur­pose is to serve as a place to stick all the adverts and cat­a­logs from sound/lighting/video/production sup­pli­ers.

In perus­ing the pages of these full-col­or glossy tomes, I ran across tes­ti­mo­ni­als from church­es that had been helped by the catalog’s com­pa­ny. It was appar­ent that the answer to these ques­tions was indeed, ‘yes’. The pho­tos from these installs showed booths and stages that a pop-record­ing mega-artist and their sound-tech would feel quite at home with­in when per­form­ing.

I am a crea­ture of ADD extremes, flights of fan­cy, bursts of strong (some­times unwar­rant­ed, often­times inad­vis­able) emo­tion. I know this. God knows this. My friends and fam­i­ly bless me (Thank you. I love you. Thank you God) with an atti­tude sim­i­lar to that which we Mis­souri­ans express towards our capri­cious weath­er… “If you don’t like it, wait five min­utes.” That’s not to say that I’m an unteth­ered kite being blown by a storm with no emotional/intellectual anchor. Quite the con­trary… I just have a heart that rush­es on ahead and a mind that labors to catch it up and remind it that has again run away with­out a prayer con­sult, and left all the notes and lessons learned behind, sit­ting use­less­ly in a dis­card­ed back­pack. The teth­er and the anchor are there, there’s just a regret­table amount of slack in the line that usu­al­ly runs-out with a semi-painful ‘snap’.

I had a few hours of per­son­al cri­sis. Despair, dis­gust, sor­row. I just want­ed to turn in my mon­i­tor­ing phones along with my 2 weeks notice. This last­ed, for­tu­nate­ly, only a few hours, before rea­son reassert­ed itself and I was able to view my own goals to repair, expand, and oth­er­wise meet the mod­est ‘needs’ of our Sun­day ser­vice, with a peace­ful con­fi­dence that our answers to those ques­tions, if asked, would be a sim­ple, ‘no’, and if ever we stray into that men­tal­i­ty, we have only to reeval­u­ate and tell our­selves ‘no’.

It helped to have the clear words of Ravi Zacharais from a few days ear­li­er to remind me that the peo­ple that I turn to and trust for good teach­ing and insight into mat­ters of faith aren’t caught up in this trou­ble­some church mindset/trend:

The Lord’s affir­ma­tion of the phys­i­cal and spir­i­tu­al tells me there’s a place for my body to be used right­ly… and there’s a place for my spir­i­tu­al depth… and when those two con­verge, you’ve found the beau­ty of wor­ship. You’ve found it. …and a church that thinks we can only wor­ship if we get our­selves all hyped-up in music is an extreme. It’s not going to work. What you win them with is what you win them to.

Here’s the bot­tom line I want to make for you: The ratio­nal­ist had an angle at truth. The Exis­ten­tial­ist had an angle at truth. The Empiri­cist had an angle at truth. The prob­lem was in tak­ing this sin­gle line, they blocked off all the oth­ers… and the church that only goes for the intel­lect is going to send out dry peo­ple… that only goes for emo­tion… is going to send peo­ple bounc­ing around with no mind. You’ve got to bring all of these real­i­ties and con­verge into a com­pos­ite whole. That’s what the Chris­t­ian ought to do best in this world.”

Ravi Zacharias, “Engag­ing Cul­tures with Con­ver­sa­tions that Count, part 2″ @15:39 Pre­vi­ous Arti­cle

David Platt described his real­iza­tion thus in his book “Rad­i­cal: Tak­ing Back Your Faith from the Amer­i­can Dream”

The youngest megachurch pas­tor in his­to­ry.”

While I would dis­pute that claim it was nonethe­less the label giv­en to me when I went to pas­tor a large, thriv­ing church in the Deep South — the Church at Brook Hills in Birm­ing­ham, Alaba­ma. From the first day I was immersed in strate­gies for mak­ing the church big­ger and bet­ter. Authors I respect great­ly would make state­ments such as, “Decide how big you want your church to be, and go for it, whether that’s five, ten, or twen­ty thou­sand mem­bers.” Soon my name was near the top of the list of pas­tors of the fastest-grow­ing U.S. church­es. There I was… liv­ing out the Amer­i­can church dream.

But I found myself becom­ing uneasy. For one thing, my mod­el in min­istry is a guy who spent the major­i­ty of his min­istry time with twelve men. A guy who, when he left this earth, had only about 120 peo­ple who were actu­al­ly stick­ing around and doing what he told them to do. More like a minichurch, real­ly. Jesus Christ — the youngest minichurch pas­tor in his­to­ry.

So how was I to rec­on­cile the fact that I was now pas­tor­ing thou­sands of peo­ple with the fact that my great­est exam­ple in min­istry was known for turn­ing away thou­sands of peo­ple? When­ev­er the crowd got big, he’d say some­thing such as “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” Not exact­ly the sharpest church-growth tac­tic. I can almost pic­ture the looks on the dis­ci­ples’ faces. “No, not the drink-my-blood speech! We’ll nev­er get on the list of the fastest grow­ing move­ments if you keep ask­ing them to eat you.”

By the end of that speech, all the crowds had left, and only twelve men remained. Jesus appar­ent­ly wasn’t inter­est­ed in mar­ket­ing him­self to the mass­es. His invi­ta­tions to poten­tial fol­low­ers were clear­ly more cost­ly than the crowds were ready to accept and he seemed to be okay with that. He focused instead on the few who believed him when he said rad­i­cal things. And through their rad­i­cal obe­di­ence to him, he turned the course of his­to­ry in a new direc­tion.

Soon I real­ized I was on a col­li­sion course with an Amer­i­can church cul­ture where suc­cess is defined by big­ger crowds, big­ger bud­gets, and big­ger build­ings. I was now con­front­ed with a star­tling real­i­ty: Jesus actu­al­ly spurned the things that my church cul­ture said were the most impor­tant. So what was I to do?

I’m still trou­bled, but I think that’s a good thing. As Lewis says in Mere Chris­tian­i­ty, “We have cause to be uneasy.” and ” And I think if you look at the present state of the world, it is pret­ty plain that human­i­ty has been mak­ing some big mis­take. We are on the wrong road. And if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quick­est way on.”. I want to stay uneasy. I don’t want to fall asleep. I want, at the very least, when I get excit­ed and think, “This would be so cool for our sound sys­tem.” to ever have a voice that reminds me to ask myself (and God), if the Gospel needs my tech, or even my tech­nique. Am I help­ing, or would I help more just by get­ting out of the way?

The sin­gle great­est cause of athe­ism in the world today is Chris­tians, who acknowl­edge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbe­liev­ing world sim­ply finds unbe­liev­able” — Bren­nan Man­ning

What you win them .with. is what you win them .to.

Ravi Zacharias

The Lord’s affir­ma­tion of the phys­i­cal and spir­i­tu­al tells me there’s a place for my body to be used right­ly… and there’s a place for my spir­i­tu­al depth… and when those two con­verge, you’ve found the beau­ty of wor­ship. You’ve found it. …and a church that thinks we can only wor­ship if we get our­selves all hyped-up in music is an extreme. It’s not going to work. What you win them with is what you win them to.

Here’s the bot­tom line I want to make for you: The Ratio­nal­ist had an angle at truth. The Exis­ten­tial­ist had an angle at truth. The Empiri­cist had an angle at truth. The prob­lem was in tak­ing this sin­gle line, they blocked off all the oth­ers… and the church that only goes for the intel­lect is going to send out dry peo­ple… that only goes for emo­tion… is going to send peo­ple bounc­ing around with no mind. You’ve got to bring all of these real­i­ties and con­verge into a com­pos­ite whole. That’s what the Chris­t­ian ought to do best in this world.”

Ravi Zacharias, “Engag­ing Cul­tures with Con­ver­sa­tions that Count, part 2” @15:39

Engag­ing Cul­tures with Con­ver­sa­tions that Count, Part 1 — Mp3
Engag­ing Cul­tures with Con­ver­sa­tions that Count, Part 2 — Mp3

Pearls Before Swine

To give truth to him who loves it not is but to give him more mul­ti­plied rea­sons [plen­ti­ful mate­r­i­al] for mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion.”

George Mac­Don­ald, Min­is­ter, poet, and nov­el­ist (1824 — 1905)

I am com­ing to believe that this quote suf­fers from the same symp­toms with which Jim Elliot’s “He is no fool” quote is beset, in that there are many vari­a­tions float­ing around out there and lit­tle to sug­gest which has greater verac­i­ty. Anoth­er pos­si­bil­i­ty is that the author may have com­mu­ni­cat­ed, in print or per­son, the same mean­ing­ful phrase mul­ti­ple times and per­haps not the same way every time. The first time I heard Ravi Zacharias relate this quo­ta­tion it was with the “more mul­ti­plied rea­sons” word­ing and that remains my favorite, but I’ve sub­se­quent­ly heard him quote it as “more plen­ti­ful rea­sons” and so I am left in doubt if one or the oth­er is real­ly more accu­rate. Search­ing the inter­webs I find both ver­sions in sim­i­lar abun­dance.

Words of a skeptic…

The char­ac­ter of Jesus has not only been the high­est pat­tern of virtue, but the strongest incen­tive in its prac­tice, and has exert­ed so deep an influ­ence, that it may be tru­ly said that the sim­ple record of three years of active life has done more to regen­er­ate and to soft­en mankind than all the dis­qui­si­tions of philoso­phers and all the exhor­ta­tions of moral­ists.”

— William E. H. Lecky, “The His­to­ry of Euro­pean Morals from Augus­tus to Charle­magne”.

Him­self not a believ­er (Ravi describes his as a skep­tic) but unable to draw any con­clu­sion but this.

~ “Let My Peo­ple Think: One God Among Many, Pt 2 of 2”, Ravi Zacharias, April 20, 2013

James 1–3 NASB

James 1

1James, a bond-ser­vant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dis­persed abroad: Greet­ings.

2Con­sid­er it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter var­i­ous tri­als, know­ing that the test­ing of your faith pro­duces endurance. And let endurance have its per­fect result, so that you may be per­fect and com­plete, lack­ing in noth­ing.

5But if any of you lacks wis­dom, let him ask of God, who gives to all gen­er­ous­ly and with­out reproach, and it will be giv­en to him. But he must ask in faith with­out any doubt­ing, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, dri­ven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive any­thing from the Lord, being a dou­ble-mind­ed man, unsta­ble in all his ways.

But the broth­er of hum­ble cir­cum­stances is to glo­ry in his high posi­tion; 10 and the rich man is to glo­ry in his humil­i­a­tion, because like flow­er­ing grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun ris­es with a scorch­ing wind and with­ers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beau­ty of its appear­ance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pur­suits will fade away.

12 Blessed is a man who per­se­veres under tri­al; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempt­ed, “I am being tempt­ed by God”; for God can­not be tempt­ed by evil, and He Him­self does not tempt any­one. 14 But each one is tempt­ed when he is car­ried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has con­ceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accom­plished, it brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good thing giv­en and every per­fect gift is from above, com­ing down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no vari­a­tion or shift­ing shad­ow. 18 In the exer­cise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His crea­tures.

19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But every­one must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the right­eous­ness of God. 21 There­fore, putting aside all filth­i­ness and all that remains of wicked­ness, in humil­i­ty receive the word implant­ed, which is able to save your souls. 22 But prove your­selves doers of the word, and not mere­ly hear­ers who delude them­selves. 23 For if any­one is a hear­er of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his nat­ur­al face in a mir­ror; 24 for once he has looked at him­self and gone away, he has imme­di­ate­ly for­got­ten what kind of per­son he was. 25 But one who looks intent­ly at the per­fect law, the law of lib­er­ty, and abides by it, not hav­ing become a for­get­ful hear­er but an effec­tu­al doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

26 If any­one thinks him­self to be reli­gious, and yet does not bri­dle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s reli­gion is worth­less. 27 Pure and unde­filed reli­gion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to vis­it orphans and wid­ows in their dis­tress, and to keep one­self unstained by the world.

James 2

1My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glo­ri­ous Lord Jesus Christ with an atti­tude of per­son­al favoritism. 2For if a man comes into your assem­bly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, 3and you pay spe­cial atten­tion to the one who is wear­ing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my foot­stool,” 4have you not made dis­tinc­tions among your­selves, and become judges with evil motives? 5Lis­ten, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the king­dom which He promised to those who love Him? 6But you have dis­hon­ored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and per­son­al­ly drag you into court? 7Do they not blas­pheme the fair name by which you have been called?

8If, how­ev­er, you are ful­fill­ing the roy­al law accord­ing to the Scrip­ture, “You shall love your neigh­bor as your­self,” you are doing well. 9But if you show par­tial­i­ty, you are com­mit­ting sin and are con­vict­ed by the law as trans­gres­sors. 10For who­ev­er keeps the whole law and yet stum­bles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11For He who said, “Do not com­mit adul­tery,” also said, “Do not com­mit mur­der.” Now if you do not com­mit adul­tery, but do com­mit mur­der, you have become a trans­gres­sor of the law. 12So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of lib­er­ty. 13For judg­ment will be mer­ci­less to one who has shown no mer­cy; mer­cy tri­umphs over judg­ment.

14What use is it, my brethren, if some­one says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15If a broth­er or sis­ter is with­out cloth­ing and in need of dai­ly food, 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is nec­es­sary for their body, what use is that? 17Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

18But some­one may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith with­out the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shud­der. 20But are you will­ing to rec­og­nize, you fool­ish fel­low, that faith with­out works is use­less? 21Was not Abra­ham our father jus­ti­fied by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22You see that faith was work­ing with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was per­fect­ed; 23and the Scrip­ture was ful­filled which says, “And Abra­ham believed God, and it was reck­oned to him as right­eous­ness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24You see that a man is jus­ti­fied by works and not by faith alone. 25In the same way, was not Rahab the har­lot also jus­ti­fied by works when she received the mes­sen­gers and sent them out by anoth­er way? 26For just as the body with­out the spir­it is dead, so also faith with­out works is dead.

James 3

1Let not many of you become teach­ers, my brethren, know­ing that as such we will incur a stricter judg­ment. 2For we all stum­ble in many ways. If any­one does not stum­ble in what he says, he is a per­fect man, able to bri­dle the whole body as well. 3Now if we put the bits into the hors­es’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. 4Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are dri­ven by strong winds, are still direct­ed by a very small rud­der wher­ev­er the incli­na­tion of the pilot desires. 5So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.

See how great a for­est is set aflame by such a small fire! 6And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniq­ui­ty; the tongue is set among our mem­bers as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. 7For every species of beasts and birds, of rep­tiles and crea­tures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. 8But no one can tame the tongue; it is a rest­less evil and full of dead­ly poi­son. 9With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the like­ness of God; 10from the same mouth come both bless­ing and curs­ing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11Does a foun­tain send out from the same open­ing both fresh and bit­ter water? 12Can a fig tree, my brethren, pro­duce olives, or a vine pro­duce figs? Nor can salt water pro­duce fresh.

13Who among you is wise and under­stand­ing? Let him show by his good behav­ior his deeds in the gen­tle­ness of wis­dom. 14But if you have bit­ter jeal­ousy and self­ish ambi­tion in your heart, do not be arro­gant and so lie against the truth. 15This wis­dom is not that which comes down from above, but is earth­ly, nat­ur­al, demon­ic. 16For where jeal­ousy and self­ish ambi­tion exist, there is dis­or­der and every evil thing. 17But the wis­dom from above is first pure, then peace­able, gen­tle, rea­son­able, full of mer­cy and good fruits, unwa­ver­ing, with­out hypocrisy. 18And the seed whose fruit is right­eous­ness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

The Way of Wisdom-James MacDonald-WitW

Excel­lent ser­mon series that cov­ers the premise of “Deci­sion Mak­ing and the Will of God”.

These are the pod­casts, cre­at­ed of seg­ments of the orig­i­nal mes­sages, so there is a lot of rep­e­ti­tion.  I am mix­ing down a sin­gle cohe­sive resource.  To be added lat­er.

  1. WalkInThe­Word-20091127-Way­OfWis­dom-Does God Have a Will for Me Pt 1
  2. WalkInThe­Word-20091130-Way­OfWis­dom-Does God Have a Will for Me Pt 2
  3. WalkInThe­Word-20091201-Way­OfWis­dom-Does God Have a Will for Me Pt 3
  4. WalkInThe­Word-20091202-Way­OfWis­dom-Does God’s Will for You Pt 1
  5. WalkInThe­Word-20091203-Way­OfWis­dom-Does God’s Will for You Pt 2
  6. WalkInThe­Word-20091204-Way­OfWis­dom-The Way of Wis­dom Pt 1
  7. WalkInThe­Word-20091207-Way­OfWis­dom-The Way of Wis­dom Pt 2
  8. WalkInThe­Word-20091208-Way­OfWis­dom-Deci­sion Time Pt 1
  9. WalkInThe­Word-20091209-Way­OfWis­dom-Deci­sion Time Pt 2

Singleness, Marriage, and Wisdom

Should I or shouldn’t I?

Indeed, if the coun­sel sin­cere­ly offered by Pas­tor Thomp­son is cor­rect, the impli­ca­tions for Ted’s mar­riage deci­sion are very sober­ing:

  1. In all the world, there is either no per­son or only one per­son who is eli­gi­ble to be his wife.
  2. If God wants him to remain sin­gle and he mar­ries any­one at all, he is out of God’s will.
  3. If God has a par­tic­u­lar wife cho­sen and he mar­ries some­one else, he is out of God’s will.
  4. If the woman God has select­ed for him mar­ries some­one else, he can­not enjoy God’s will not mat­ter what he does.
  5. If either of the pair mar­ry out of God’s will there is noth­ing they can do to reverse the deci­sion and return to the cen­ter of His will.  They are per­ma­nent­ly strand­ed in the bar­ren ter­rain of God’s “sec­ond (third, fourth,…) best.”

 

Chap­ter 17: Sin­gle­ness, Mar­riage, and Wis­dom — Pg 283–284, Deci­sion Mak­ing and the Will of God, A Bib­li­cal Alter­na­tive to the Tra­di­tion­al View, 1980, Gar­ry Friesen with J. Robin Max­son.

Spiritualizing Words — “Who are you…?”

Clive Staples Lewis

Peo­ple ask: “Who are you, to lay down who is, and who is not a Chris­t­ian?”: or “May not many a man who can­not believe these doc­trines be far more tru­ly a Chris­t­ian, far clos­er to the spir­it of Christ, than some who do?”

Now this objec­tion is in one sense very right, very char­i­ta­ble, very spir­i­tu­al, very sen­si­tive. It has every ami­able qual­i­ty except that of being use­ful. We sim­ply can­not, with­out dis­as­ter, use lan­guage as these objec­tors want us to use it. I will try to make this clear by the his­to­ry of anoth­er, and very much less impor­tant, word.

The word gen­tle­man orig­i­nal­ly meant some­thing recog­nis­able; one who had a coat of arms and some land­ed prop­er­ty. When you called some­one “a gen­tle­man” you were not pay­ing him a com­pli­ment, but mere­ly stat­ing a fact. If you said he was not “a gen­tle­man” you were not insult­ing him, but giv­ing infor­ma­tion. There was no con­tra­dic­tion in say­ing that John was a liar and a gen­tle­man; any more than there now is in say­ing that James is a fool and an M.A.

But then there came peo­ple who said — so right­ly, char­i­ta­bly, spir­i­tu­al­ly, sen­si­tive­ly, so any­thing but use­ful­ly — “Ah but sure­ly the impor­tant thing about a gen­tle­man is not the coat of arms and the land, but the behav­iour? Sure­ly he is the true gen­tle­man who behaves as a gen­tle­man should? Sure­ly in that sense Edward is far more tru­ly a gen­tle­man than John?” They meant well. To be hon­ourable and cour­te­ous and brave is of course a far bet­ter thing than to have a coat of arms. But it is not the same thing. Worse still, it is not a thing every­one will agree about. To call a man “a gen­tle­man” in this new, refined sense, becomes, in fact, not a way of giv­ing infor­ma­tion about him, but a way of prais­ing him: to deny that he is “a gen­tle­man” becomes sim­ply a way of insult­ing him. When a word ceas­es to be a term of descrip­tion and becomes mere­ly a term of praise, it no longer tells you facts about the object: it only tells you about the speaker’s atti­tude to that object. (A ‘nice’ meal only means a meal the speak­er likes.) A gen­tle­man, once it has been spir­i­tu­alised and refined out of its old coarse, objec­tive sense, means hard­ly more than a man whom the speak­er likes.

As a result, gen­tle­man is now a use­less word. We had lots of terms of approval already, so it was not need­ed for that use; on the oth­er hand if any­one (say, in a his­tor­i­cal work) wants to use it in its old sense, he can­not do so with­out expla­na­tions. It has been spoiled for that pur­pose. Now if once we allow peo­ple to start spir­i­tu­al­is­ing and refin­ing, or as they might say ‘deep­en­ing’, the sense of the word Chris­t­ian, it too will speed­i­ly become a use­less word. In the first place, Chris­tians them­selves will nev­er be able to apply it to any­one. It is not for us to say who, in the deep­est sense, is or is not close to the spir­it of Christ. We do not see into men’s hearts. We can­not judge, and are indeed for­bid­den to judge. It would be wicked arro­gance for us to say that any man is, or is not, a Chris­t­ian in this refined sense. And obvi­ous­ly a word which we can nev­er apply is not going to he a very use­ful word. As for the unbe­liev­ers, they will no doubt cheer­ful­ly use the word in the refined sense. It will become in their mouths sim­ply a term of praise. In call­ing any­one a Chris­t­ian they will mean that they think him a good man. But that way of using the word will be no enrich­ment of the lan­guage, for we already have the word good. Mean­while, the word Chris­t­ian will have been spoiled for any real­ly use­ful pur­pose it might have served.

We must there­fore stick to the orig­i­nal, obvi­ous mean­ing. The name Chris­tians was first giv­en at Anti­och (Acts 11:26) to ‘the dis­ci­ples’, to those who accept­ed the teach­ing of the apos­tles. There is no ques­tion of its being restrict­ed to those who prof­it­ed by that teach­ing as much as they should have. There is no ques­tion of its being extend­ed to those who in some refined, spir­i­tu­al, inward fash­ion were ‘far clos­er to the spir­it of Christ’ than the less sat­is­fac­to­ry of the dis­ci­ples. The point is not a the­o­log­i­cal or moral one. It is only a ques­tion of using words so that we can all under­stand what is being said. When a man who accepts the Chris­t­ian doc­trine lives unworthi­ly of it, it is much clear­er to say he is a bad Chris­t­ian than to say he is not a Chris­t­ian.

— C.S. Lewis, Mere Chris­tian­i­ty, Pref­ace