Two-hundred proof grace

Robert Farrar Capon
The Ref­or­ma­tion was a time when men went blind, stag­ger­ing drunk because they had dis­cov­ered, in the dusty base­ment of late medieval­ism, a whole cel­lar full of fif­teen-hun­dred-year-old, two-hun­dred proof grace—bottle after bot­tle of pure dis­til­late of Scrip­ture, one sip of which would con­vince any­one that God saves us sin­gle­hand­ed­ly. The word of the Gospel—after all those cen­turies of try­ing to lift your­self into heav­en by wor­ry­ing about the per­fec­tion of your bootstraps—suddenly turned out to be a flat announce­ment that the saved were home free before they started…Grace was to be drunk neat: no water, no ice, and cer­tain­ly no gin­ger ale…

— Robert Far­rar Capon, Between Noon and Three

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.

Homeless Ministry

I was priv­i­leged today to get to go out with my room­mate Dwight as he took sand­wich­es to give out the home­less folks in Colum­bia. As with most min­istry efforts, I expect I was more blessed than those we min­is­tered to.

End­ed up talk­ing with a guy for over half an hour. He told us up-front that was all over the God-thing. He want­ed to engage on spir­i­tu­al dis­cus­sion but he was all over the map before I fig­ured out where he want­ed to go. He want­ed to avoid going any­where while show­ing me that he had a huge breadth of knowl­edge.. Dinosaurs in the bible. Belief that Christ was an angel. Lots of dif­fer­ent odd bits from Jeho­vah’s Wit­ness­es, a bit of Mor­mon doc­trine, and a ver­i­ta­ble Smörgås­bord of oth­ers.

It made for inter­est­ing dis­cus­sion, and I told him so, but at the same time I tried to get him to think over the ques­tion of whether or not all these extra top­ics were as impor­tant as mak­ing sure you’ve got the core stuff squared away.

I real­ly don’t know if I had much of an impact. I expect what he’s been used to is get­ting peo­ple to bounce around from top­ic to top­ic. The top­ics are com­pelling. They’re intrigu­ing. They were cal­cu­lat­ed, I spec­u­late, to touch nerves no mat­ter where the per­son he engages is “com­ing from”, and engag­ing enough to keep things from get­ting into uncom­fort­able ter­ri­to­ry. I say cal­cu­lat­ed, but I can’t real­ly say that I believe that he’s ‘cal­cu­lat­ed’ some plan, but I think he has learned “what works” to get what he seems to want… dis­cus­sions on spir­i­tu­al mat­ters but noth­ing espe­cial­ly per­son­al or mean­ing­ful.

If any­thing we talked about has last­ing impact, I think it will be my response to a sto­ry he told us to explain why he avoid­ed spend­ing time with oth­er believ­ers and going to church. His moth­er’s ultra-charis­mat­ic Pen­te­costal wor­ship, along with some oth­er stuff poi­soned him against being in fel­low­ship with oth­er believ­ers. I sym­pa­thized, but per­haps not entire­ly in the way he expect­ed. I told him that it seemed regret­table that in addi­tion to hav­ing to go through the bad expe­ri­ences he went through before he was 8, it sound­ed like they’d also robbed him of being able to be in fel­low­ship for his entire life. I’m hav­ing a dif­fi­cult time putting things down in words. As bad­ly as I’m able to recall and explain it now a cou­ple of days lat­er, I’m still left with the feel­ing that it might have giv­en him pause to won­der if all the legit­i­mate ‘rea­sons’ he’d used his whole life were more excus­es and that maybe some­thing valu­able might have been tak­en from him. It may just be wish­ful think­ing on my part.

We made an appoint­ment with him for Sun­day after­noon to return with some cloth­ing items he need­ed. Dwight was unable to find him but did meet some oth­er folks who were in sim­i­lar need and was at least able to find a place for the cloth­ing to bless.

I look for­ward to future for­ays. Talk­ing to folks who are either men­tal­ly dys­func­tion­al, or high/drunk, or both, presents its own chal­lenges. It cer­tain­ly forces me to lean on Him more that I might oth­er­wise, in my lack of humil­i­ty, do. I rather like that.

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

A tale of two message-boards

Virginia Heffernan
I ran across an arti­cle that filled me with sor­row while at the same time giv­ing me a smidgen of hope.

Colum­nist Vir­ginia Hef­fer­nan has been in the conservative/Christian news for the past cou­ple of days. Her admis­sion of believ­ing in Cre­ation­ism and her han­dling of the expect­ed vit­ri­olic assault from the main­stream­ers is both con­fir­ma­tion of our fears of how hos­tile and intol­er­ant soci­ety is to faith and dif­fer­ing belief and encour­age­ment because one of us has coura­geous­ly stood up and spo­ken hon­est­ly and then coura­geous­ly stood up to their hate­filled response as well with char­ac­ter and back­bone.

Vir­gini­a’s arti­cle titled “Inside the Infi­deli­ty Club”, gives me much the same dual­i­ty of feel­ing.

I love mar­riage, fam­i­ly, and rela­tion­ship, and more specif­i­cal­ly God’s per­fect blue­print for them. See­ing what soci­ety has made them… the destruc­tion of the fam­i­ly, hearts, and lives is a top­ic nev­er far from my con­sid­er­a­tion. It’s so dif­fi­cult for me not to be filled with sor­row bor­der­ing on hope­less­ness as I per­ceive a con­tin­u­al and accel­er­at­ing decline, and find lit­tle to give hope of a return to san­i­ty and health. Vir­gini­a’s arti­cle took me into the deep­est regions of that dark val­ley as she describes a mes­sage-board for women who glee­ful­ly dis­cuss their extra­mar­i­tal affairs: hav­ing them, lov­ing them, jus­ti­fy­ing them, plan­ning them, recount­ing them, feel­ing enti­tled to them, encour­ag­ing one anoth­er to greater depths of betray­al, etc. She con­trasts it with a sec­ond mes­sage-board for women* who are try­ing to sur­vive being betrayed by their spouse.

My smidgen of hope is engen­dered by her choos­ing to explore/expose this dif­fi­cult sub­ject in a main­stream forum and was­n’t afraid to be hon­est and call the bad bad and speak truth regard­ing the ter­ri­bly self­ish immoral hate­ful behav­iors and the hor­ri­ble pain they cause oth­ers… to be hon­est and say that it’s unequiv­o­cal­ly wrong. Maybe that’s part of the answer to turn­ing stam­ped­ing herd that is rush­ing head­long for clif­f’s edge… peo­ple stand­ing up and clear­ly say­ing, “This is wrong. It’s hate­ful, self­ish, imma­ture and despi­ca­ble. It’s wrong and there’s absolute­ly no jus­ti­fy­ing or ratio­nal­iz­ing it.” What a gift to those who have oper­at­ed under these lies so very long with the rest of the world cheer­ing them on to new depths of depraved inhu­man behav­ior.

She does­n’t stop there how­ev­er. She goes on to out­line efforts she intends to make to be cer­tain that she is pro­tect­ing and build­ing her own mar­riage… not things she sees that need fix­ing in her spouse, but extra efforts she her­self plans to make to grow her­self and her mar­riage. If any­thing, I sus­pect this final bit may be of even greater val­ue to those liv­ing the lie than even her speak­ing truth to the lie. I could see this find­ing chinks in hard­ened hearts and expos­ing self-decep­tions that might have stood unex­am­ined indef­i­nite­ly. The thing that seems to be most feared by per­sons of a moral-rel­a­tivist human­is­tic bent is self-exam­i­na­tion. Denied pre-knowl­edge on a much-sup­pressed hon­est lev­el, that they would ‑not- like what they would find, fills them with a ter­ror-dri­ven goal to avoid such an exer­cise at all cost. Per­haps her crit­i­cal self-exam­i­na­tion will be ignored just deter­mined­ly as the usu­al frontal-attack on their lifestyle, but I have hope to the con­trary.

Even if the results on the heart of one who reads and absorbs her per­son­al explo­ration is not imme­di­ate­ly and dras­ti­cal­ly felt, it may be that what Ravi Zachara­ias says is true of the appli­ca­tion of apolo­get­ics on a hard­ened spir­i­tu­al heart may also be true of her efforts on a hard­ened rela­tion­al heart. He states that apolo­get­ics can only take you so far and no fur­ther in many cas­es. He said that it is rare if not unheard-of to ‑argue- an athe­is­tic heart into belief in God. Over the years he’s been told by many for­mer-athe­ists that such argu­ments, while admit­ted­ly hav­ing some small influ­ence on their shift, were not the cause of or impe­tus behind the shift.

* No indi­ca­tion if there are sim­i­lar com­mu­ni­ties of dev­as­tat­ed men.

A Sad Truth about the ‘Average’ Evangelical Christian

A.W. Tozer
Repost­ed from Tony Miano’s blog at

The aver­age evan­gel­i­cal Chris­t­ian who claims to be born again and have eter­nal life is not doing as much to prop­a­gate his or her faith as the busy adher­ents of the cults, hand­ing out their papers on the street cor­ners and vis­it­ing from house to house and going door to door.”

— A.W. Toz­er

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

Happy Birthday — Flipsyde

From the heav­ens to the womb to the heav­ens again
From the endin’ to the endin’, nev­er got to begin
Maybe one day we could meet face to face
In a place with­out time and space, hap­py birth­day

This song real­ly touch­es me. It’s an incred­i­bly pow­er­ful and hon­est self-con­fes­sion to his unborn child about a choice he’s come to regret as so many do. He has the courage to express what so many feel yet nev­er share. If all these voic­es were to speak aloud they would deaf­en those spread­ing the non­sen­si­cal lies that few if any women and men suf­fer from hav­ing cho­sen to abort their baby. I praise God for this man’s courage and for giv­ing him a tal­ent that [here at least, I’m unfa­mil­iar with his oth­er work] he chose to redeem.

Once To Every Man and Nation

James Rus­sel Low­ell, 1819–1891

Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with false­hood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great deci­sion, offer­ing each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by for­ev­er, ’twixt that dark­ness and that light.

Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and prof­it, and ’tis pros­per­ous to be just;
Then it is the brave man choos­es while the cow­ard stands aside,
Till the mul­ti­tude make virtue of the faith they had denied.

By the light of burn­ing mar­tyrs, Christ, Thy bleed­ing feet we track,
Toil­ing up new Calv’ries ever with the cross that turns not back;
New occa­sions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth,
They must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.

Though the cause of evil pros­per, yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her por­tion be the scaf­fold, and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaf­fold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God with­in the shad­ow, keep­ing watch above His own.

Ravi Zacharias quot­ed the first stan­za of this hymn in his lec­ture Char­ac­ter Counts, Part 1.

Addi­tion­al: This hymn was quot­ed by Rev. Mar­tin Luther King at the con­clu­sion
of his speech, ‘Viet­nam: A Time to Break Silence’ in April 4th, 1967 at a
meet­ing of Cler­gy and Laity Con­cerned at River­side Church in New York City, USA.


Per­cy Bysshe Shel­ley

I met a trav­eller from an antique land
Who said: ‘Two vast and trun­k­less legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shat­tered vis­age lies, whose frown,
And wrin­kled lip, and sneer of cold com­mand,
Tell that its sculp­tor well those pas­sions read
Which yet sur­vive, stamped on these life­less things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear –
“My name is Ozy­man­dias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Noth­ing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colos­sal wreck, bound­less and bare
The lone and lev­el sands stretch far away.’

— Per­cy Bysshe Shel­ley

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

The “Progressive” Man

Clive Staples Lewis

First, as to putting the clock back; Would you think I was jok­ing if I said that you can put a clock back, and that if the clock is wrong it is often a very sen­si­ble thing to do? But I would rather get away from that whole idea of clocks. We all want progress. But progress means get­ting near­er to the place where you want to be. And if you have tak­en a wrong turn­ing, then to go for­ward does not get you any near­er. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walk­ing back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soon­est is the most pro­gres­sive man. We have all seen this when doing arith­metic. When I have start­ed a sum the wrong way, the soon­er I admit this and go back and start again, the faster I shall get on. There is noth­ing pro­gres­sive about being pig-head­ed and refus­ing to admit a mis­take. And I think if you look at the present state of the world, it is pret­ty plain that human­i­ty has been mak­ing some big mis­takes. We are on the wrong road. And if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quick­est way on.”

— Clive Sta­ples Lewis, Mere Chris­tian­i­ty, Chap­ter 5, “We Have Cause to be Uneasy”