Friday, January 31, 2014

I AM Will Be With You

"But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?"  He said, "But I will be with you."  (Ex. 3:11-12a)

Moses asks God who Moses is, before he asks God in verse 13 who God is.  God's answer to the first question is similar to his answer to the second.  The second"I AM WHO I AM."  The first answer is..."I will be with you," or "I am with you."  We might think that "I will be with you" does not really answer Moses' question, "Who am I?"  Moses asks about himself, Moses; God replies by speaking of himself, God.  But of course, God more than answers Moses' question.  Who is Moses?  He is the man with whom God is.  God has covenanted to stand with Moses in his confrontation with Pharaoh.  So Moses is Yahweh's man; that's who he is." - Frame, ST, pp29-30

There Are More Needs than You Can Handle

"I think most Christians hear these urgent calls to do more (or feel them internally already) and learn to live with a low-level guilt that comes from not doing enough.  We know we can always pray more and give more and evangelize more, so we get used to living in a state of mild disappointment with ourselves...We have to be okay with other Christians doing certain good things better and more often than we do." - Crazy Busy, DeYoung, p47.

Part of this guilt comes from an over-individualistic spirit and lack of a commitment to the local church body.  We are members of a body incarnate that has multiple gifts and talents, time and opportunities.  The answer to what needs to be done is not an answer for the individual only, but for the church corporately and also for her members.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hospital-ity and Busyness

"Good hospital-ity is making your home a hospital.  The idea is that friends and family and the wounded and weary people come to your home and leave helped and refreshed.  And yet, too often hospitality is a nerve-wracking experience for hosts and guests alike" - Crazy Busy, DeYoung, p41.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sins that Accompany Busyness

Three more pithy statements from Crazy Busy, by Kevin DeYoung, Chapter 3 -

"...our understanding of busyness must start with the one sin that begets so many of our other sins:  pride" - p34.

"So much of our busyness comes down to meeting people's expectations" - p35.

"People often call it low self-esteem, but people-pleasing is actually a form of pride and narcissism" - p35.

Where Righteousness and Peace Kiss

Psalm 122 is one of God’s songs.  He gave us 150 to sing and to learn from what it is He would have us sing to Him and to one another in our services of worship.  Do not neglect the singing of the Psalms, for it pleases Your Lord.

As we gather, we are ascending to the throne of God by faith and in the power of the Spirit.  We are doing what Israel pictured, what they only did in shadows, when they ascended to Jerusalem to come to the temple of God.  Those who did so by faith knew that they were only practicing – and that they also would only come to God if they came by faith – the same faith which has been granted to you who are in Christ Jesus.

So do not fall into the complacency that comes when you do not come prepared and when you do not come thinking.  Give your attention to the Psalms, to the Scriptures, to the prayers, to the preaching.  God is at work among us which means He is at work in you – now.  And He has something for you.  He intends for you to leave here built up, encouraged, challenged – and changed.  This will be the work of His Spirit and not anyone else – although He will use means – and this service of worship is His appointed means.  His Word, His Table, His saints, His songs – come and worship God the Father, come in the name of Jesus His Son, and come in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Dance of Trinitarian Submission

As Douglas Wilson puts it, in a Unitarian world, authority and submission is a fist fight with a winner and a loser, someone on top and someone beat down.  In a Trinitarian world, authority and submission are a lovely dance.  Press this metaphor out a bit.  Both dancers are submitting to the music around them.  He submits to the music, sacrificing for her by leading her, supporting her, and glorifying her in the dance.  As she submits to his lead (and not to any other dancer on the floor), she follows his left with her right, completing his steps and glorifying his moves.  She must choose carefully to say ‘yes’ to a dancer who will lead her rightly, and she looks foolish if she keeps stopping in the middle of the dance questioning his next move – she must follow him in everything.  But once again, we must end with the husband:  how in the world do you expect her to follow you when you are such a lousy dancer, or when you refuse to follow the music?  Yes, the Lord has commanded her to submit to you; and you must make it a delight to do so.

Really, Really Busy

Three pithy statements from "Crazy Busy" by Kevin DeYoung, Chapter 2:

"When we are crazy busy, we put our souls at risk" - p26.

"Busyness kills more Christians than bullets" - p30.

"What does it say about me that I'm frequently overwhelmed?" - p31.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Obedient Submission

There are many things to be learned at this Table – and so that is another reason it is good to come here week after week.  What we witness here at this Table is the result of obedient submission to the Father.  When Jesus said, “not my will but Yours be done,” He saved the world.

When we give over to the Lord all that we are and all that we have – when we become His disciples, imitating Him by faithfully dying in Him, then we join Him here at this Table of new life.  For in Christ, every sacrifice results in exaltation.  God is in charge of when and how – but every sacrifice results in exaltation.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

God and Mammon

Jesus made it very clear that we cannot serve both God and Mammon.  At one point He said that whoever does not forsake all his possessions cannot be his disciple.  We must take these warnings to heart, especially as we come here to worship Him.

Riches are not an automatic evil, but they are something that must be carefully watched.  They lure, they whisper, they entice and quietly demand.  That is why Jesus said that it is harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.  By any biblical standards, and by the general standards of the world and all of history, we are those people. We had better take those warnings to heart.

Paul followed up on Jesus’ teaching on riches, commanding those who are rich in this age not to be haughty, nor to trust in those uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy (and so we ought to always acknowledge that the riches we have are from God, the one we trust as opposed to the riches, and that He has given them to us to enjoy – and so we better enjoy them to the glory of His name).  Paul goes on to say that the rich are to do good with those riches, that they ought to be rich in good works – that their hands ought to hold the possessions loosely, being instead ready to give, willing to share – and that by doing so they would be storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come.

Again, Jesus said that we are not to worry about our possessions but instead we are to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.  This command is given to those whether they are rich or poor.  Mammon is tricky whether or not you actually have it.  It turns out that the poor can be as bound up with a love for riches as the rich can be.

And so we are called to take all of this teaching on riches and do something about it.  The first, most biblical response to this subject is to faithfully, joyfully, thankfully tithing on the increase of your riches.  This teaches the rich that all the riches are God’s and came from Him and are to be used for Him, enjoyed with Him and shared with His.  It also teaches the poor to not be anxious in the moments where there is more month than there is money again.  In all situations it declares we will not serve both God and Mammon.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Emmanuel Church Plant - 2013

1 John 5:4-5 says For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.  Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Trinity Church is planting this church, Emmanuel, by faith – by a faith that has overcome the world – by faith in One who has overcome the world – the Lord Jesus Christ.  How did Jesus manifest that faithfulness?  By giving Himself away.  And so Emmanuel is not being established as much to be a place for those who will become members to have a safe haven, a refuge and maybe “our own church.”  No, it is being established by people who love you and are giving a part of themselves away for the world – to see another church, another branch of the Vine which is Christ, planted, extended – and given away for the world and the glory of Jesus Christ.

We have come to worship – we have come to give ourselves away.  In this first formal service of worship, establish a pattern and priority that will define Emmanuel.  Be like Jesus and give yourselves away.  Give yourselves away in your marriages, in your families, in your friendships, in your relationships with hard people, and to the world.  Give yourselves away like Christ – with great faith in the Father who raises the dead – with great faith in the One who promises Victory because He attained Victory already through the Cross.

Our ability and desire to give ourselves away like Jesus comes from faith in God who has overcome the world.  The only thing that can overcome the world is from God.  Our faith is born of God because it is what overcomes the world.  The confession of faith is not just a general faith in God, but in Jesus, the Spirit-Anointed King, the Son of God now installed at the Father’s right hand, the King of kings and Lord of lords – over this world.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Communion Paradox

At the Lord’s Table we see paradox and we see resolution – the only resolution to the ultimate problem.  How are sinners ever going to be able to sit with God and enjoy communion with Him in peace?  How could a holy God ever allow men, women and children who come from a race stained with sin, marred with rebellion, and filled with blasphemous words and deeds, come and fellowship with the Holy of holies – the very definition of holiness, righteousness and truth?

And the elements upon this Table give us the answer.  God provided a way.  God provided the blood sacrifice.  God provided the perfect and only human sacrifice – the only possible priestly sacrifice – the only perfect sin offering.  Christ’s body was broken, His blood was spilled, His life was ended, God’s holy wrath was satisfied – and our sins were atoned for.  Come in faith, come with thanksgiving, come with awe and fear and humility, for you could never deserve to come to such a table – and come with profound and deep joy, for you never could hear a more sincere voice than your heavenly Father’s saying – Come, I have prepared this for you  - I want you here with me.

The Fine Point of Faith

Unbelief sees rules, a series of steps, a path, and a set of neat proverbial sayings to live by and understand the world.  All of this can be attempted without faith and that is the damning work of a false gospel (Gal 1:8-9).  Faith looks to Jesus.  Faith grasps no ethic abstracted from the Bible; faith grasps Jesus and is filled by His Spirit.  And that filling causes a Christian to live according to the Spirit and not the flesh (Rom 8:4-6).  To be “filled by the Spirit” is to be under the sanctifying influence of God.  It is the ongoing life of walking according to the gracious glory of Christ personally revealed in His people.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Gospel on Pro-Life Sunday - 2014

This is the Lord’s Day and central to our worship must of course be the declaration of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the worship of God the Father and all in the power of the Holy Spirit.  But as we come to worship this Sunday, it is also the noted anniversary week of the murderous Roe-v-Wade decision of 1973 in our nation – a decision which marks the horrible so-called right to choose.  And so, our focus this morning will be on the need for our nation to repent, for mercy to be granted for the murder of 50 plus million little lives and for healing and restoration, for women and men convicted of their sin of murdering their children to find grace and forgiveness in Jesus, and for us all as a nation in order that we might be a people, a nation, who do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God – the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The songs we sing this morning are carefully chosen by our Chief Musician and so I want to highlight them briefly as we are called to worship - The opening Psalm 122 already called us to join the throngs in worship.

Once More My Soul reminds us of the "thousand wretched souls that have fled since the last setting sun.” Let us not forget these that have passed.
The decalogue reminds us “you shall not kill or hate your neighbor.”
Psalm 137 reminds us of the judgment that God brings against the children of the nation who hates Him. May we not be that nation.
Psalm 103 reminds us that “God’s grace alone endureth and children’s children yet shall prove how He with strength assureth the hearts of all that seek His love.”
O God of Earth and Altar we will sing “our earthly rulers falter, our people drift and die.”

And lest we become discouraged in all this… “whate’re my God ordains is right” bookends our service.

The way we treat our children reflects the idolatrous religion of our nation.  But Jesus Christ is King and this atrocity will not go unnoticed.  It has not gone unnoticed – His wrath upon us has been visited and His judgment has begun.  We must turn and repent and we must do so swiftly.

Delivering the World from Evil

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” – Eph 5:15f.

There are two directions to take these verses.  One is to emphasize that we need to be really, really careful, because the days are evil.  The other is to emphasize that we are to take advantage of every opportunity because the days are evil.  I think Paul has the latter, more optimistic view in mind.  We are not to disregard the days because they are evil; we are to take advantage of them with the wisdom that is ours in Christ.  We pray that God would “deliver us from evil,” and we ought to believe that He is regularly answering that prayer through His church in opportunity after opportunity.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Receiving Christ Like Simeon

Just as Simeon received the Christ Child in His arms and then left in peace – so we have the opportunity to sup with the Risen Christ by faith in a real relationship of peace and assurance.  Jesus is just as much our Consolation – He is so even more – for He has accomplished all that He said He would – even our salvation – and the glory of Israel.

As we gather around this Table and partake, we are the evidence that God has and is accomplishing all He promised to Abraham, to Moses, to David, to the prophets – through Jesus His Son.  For here we are, at the ends of the earth, Gentiles like Theophilus, partaking of what all the Jewish sacrificial system pointed towards – the gift of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for the redemption of His people.

Therefore, all who are baptized in Christ are called to come and partake of the Consolation of Israel – to partake of the Peace Meal with their heavenly Father – of the body and blood of the One Who has made them the glory of Israel – the salvation of the world.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Worship with Fear and Joy

This is a service of worship instituted by God for His people.  In this service, the Lord renews His covenant with us.  What is a covenant?  A covenant is a solemn bond, sovereignly administered, with attendant blessings and curses.  In this covenant, we are the servants, the bond-servants, and God is the Master, the LORD, the King over all.  He alone and unilaterally dictates the stipulations of the covenant.

This should all sound rather formal to you as you enter into worship – and it is.  You should prepare yourself in a formal way, because you are coming before the King of kings, your King and Your God.  This is why we are instructed to approach this throne of grace with reverence and fear.  In other words, sit up, pay attention, show respect to the One Who has called you.  This isn’t a production for you, a religious entertainment show.  It isn’t about you.

And yet, it is for you.  For this sovereign Lord Who calls you His servant, His slave in fact, also calls you His child – His adopted child, redeemed and purchased by the blood of His only begotten Son.  He says He did this out of His own free will and desire, and delights to call His children to Himself and to enter into this covenant renewal with joy, fellowship, singing, and peace.  This is why you are instructed to approach this throne of grace with great boldness – for you have been accepted fully and completely in the Beloved, the One who died for all of your sins.

Reverence – deep and holy respect, mixed with godly fear.  Boldness – conscious knowledge that you are accepted, loved, delighted over, and blessed beyond comprehension.  This is what you have been summoned to come and renew.  Come and rejoice with trembling, worship Your God with holy fear and joy unspeakable.  Let Him again have His way with you – for He will.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Proper Reverence in Worship

This is a public declaration of the gospel, of the Good News of Jesus Christ.  The gospel is declared when an evangelist goes out and preaches the Good News to those who have not heard it, or who have yet to accept it as theirs by faith.  But this is not the only way the Gospel is proclaimed.  Each Lord’s Day we celebrate the Lord’s Supper and Paul tells us that every time we eat the bread and drink the cup we proclaim the Lord’s death (a nickname for the gospel).  The gospel is declared in this service of worship.

Everything leading up to that communion service is gospel as well.  You are summoned by God because He initiates gospel.  You hear Him call you to worship Him.  He then declares our sinfulness and inability to come before Him except with blood-washed hands – washed by the blood of Jesus Christ through our confession of sin and profession of faith.  Our songs and prayers are lifted to Him in Jesus name through the Holy Spirit and God receives us in that name and power.  The Father instructs us through His Word, rearranging us, remaking us, renewing us, and then sits us down for a meal of fellowship and life with Him at His Table – providing us with His food.

This is a great and wonderful and joyful event – leading up to a great feast.  But it is not to be entered into irreverently – in some kind of breezy, informal and casual way.  Hebrews warns us that we must worship God with reverence and godly fear – and this teaches us what our demeanor in our church worship services must be like.  Psalm 2 instructs us to worship the LORD with fear, to rejoice with trembling.  And so our worship is to be full and robust, it is to engage our minds, our mouths, our bodies.  While it is celebration, it is not a tailgate party, a circus, a comedy show or a rock concert.  We have come to worship the Ancient of Days.  We are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.  Come and worship, but come with the proper balance, well thought through and prepared, of great rejoicing and proper reverence.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Mother's Day and Ascension Sunday - 2013

The church, Paul instructs us in Galatians, is the New Jerusalem, the heavenly Jerusalem, and she is the Mother of us all.  Life comes to the world through Jesus Christ and He is proclaimed by means of the life and words of the church.  United to Christ, His bride is fruitful, and the world is being dominated, grace-dominated by her offspring.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you then.  To mothers who are the life-givers and nurturers of us all, we give you special honor today in our nation – and you all should – it is a good holiday.  In a culture that treats your calling as something less than glorious, God says that your role, and your work, often mundane and behind the scene, is what is shaping the world to come in far more profound ways than any legislation, any military force, any state welfare system ever could.  But we also honor mothers for what they symbolize and declare in their roles – the life-giving and nurturing nature of the church.  And so all of us gather to honor our Mother each Lord’s Day as well.

This day is also Ascension Sunday – the Sunday after Ascension Day which was this last Thursday, 40 days following the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  His ascension guarantees that mothers who are in Christ are ruling the world with Him and are discipling future rulers for Him.  Ascension Day declares that a Man, the Man, the God-Man, has been installed and is ruling heaven and earth with His rod and staff.  All nations and all mothers are placed on notice:  in all that you do, whether in word or deed, do it all to the glory of God – for at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow – both yours, and your little ones, and the nation in which you live – and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God.  This is what mothers are called to live and proclaim to their children and in doing so they will bestow the greatest gift of wisdom ever – God is your Father through Jesus Christ.  Believe – and live.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Gathered in Heaven

This passage in Hebrews (12:18-24) goes on to tell us that as we gather here with the great assembly of saints and angels before God’s throne, our worship and our communing with Jesus is shaking up the unbelieving world around us.  It is another great blow against the walls of Hades which will not be able to prevail.  We come in victory to proclaim that victory and to call upon God to spread His victory – Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven – we cry.

We see what life is like in heaven as we look to Jesus – and then we say, Yes, Lord, do that here too.

And through our singing to one another, through our praise and worship of God, through our observance of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper, through the Word preached and received, through our prayers and offerings – God accomplishes all that He promises He would.  What happens here will make earth-shaking differences, to the glory of God, over the rest of the world in real time and space.

The veil has been torn, you have entered into heaven, you have come to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant – and He is pleased to hear your praise and prayers.  But you must come with faith – you must come believing.  And if believing, then it only follows that we must stop and confess our sins before this mighty and holy God.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Jesus is Lord All Week

Jesus Christ is Lord and King over all.  He is this Lord’s day and He was this last Lord’s day.  He was Lord and King all week long as well.  There was nothing which occurred this week which took Him by surprise or caused Him any consternation.  Not a single event in your individual life, nor in our city, our nation, or throughout the world and the whole universe.  Jesus Christ is Lord and King over all.

Not only is He the Creator of all things – and not only is He the Redeemer of this sorry world – but He is the Sustainer in the meantime.  Colossians teaches us that Christ is before all things and that in Him all things consist.

That is why you may come to Jesus with all of your sins.  He was there when you sinned; in fact, you were only able to sin because He worked through you – yet in a way that does not allow any blame to be placed upon Him.  You may come to Jesus with all of your sufferings.  He was there when the suffering began, in fact, you are only suffering in that circumstance because He is working through you in that suffering – yet in a way that only will bring good and glory to you and to Him when He is done.  You may come to Him and honestly share all of your concerns and worries.  He already has the future in His hands and He intends to use your prayers and your works, shaped by Him and supplied by Him, to shape and to supply the world with His grace, rule, and reign.

And so we come to worship God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ by the powerful work of the Holy Spirit in us – so that we might be used by God to more greatly manifest that which is already and completely true – Jesus Christ is Lord and King of all.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Easter and Suffering - 2013 exhortation

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ teaches us many things.  One of the central things it teaches us is that for every Christian, every single suffering that God will take us through – God will actually take us through – and when He does – the end of it will be gain – much gain – gain for us – gain for God’s glory – gain through our sufferings for others.  How do we know?  Because the greatest suffering, the greatest wrongdoing, the greatest offense and injustice the world has ever known or ever will know was the Cross.  At the cross, Jesus, the perfect and righteous man, without sin and blameless in every way, was whipped, crucified, and buried.

No one has ever not deserved the punishment, the shame, the death, and the curse of God in any way like Jesus did not deserve such treatment.  But where did it lead?  It just so happened that God was completely in control all the way.  It just so happened that God placed all of our sins upon Christ in that horrific act and through His death, our sins were paid.  Through that death, Jesus killed our condemnation.  And God, good to His Word and promise, raised Jesus from the dead, declaring Him to be the Son of God with power, and providing us with our justification.

We come to worship and especially this Sunday, regardless of the sufferings and trials which we are going through, knowing and being reminded in this service, that there is no death that God allows us to go through, no trial, no difficulty, that He is not able to take us through.  And not only that, because we are in Christ, there is no suffering that He will not go through with us – of course He will – and of course, in Christ we will find at the end gain – much gain – gain for us – gain for God’s glory – gain through our suffering even for others – and all to His glory.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Palm Sunday 2013 exhortation

Fittingly, this Palm Sunday, the children sang the meditation for us.  When Jesus went to the temple on Palm Sunday, the religious folk were condemning Him and practicing abominations while the children were singing His praise – praise to the Son of David.

Jesus teaches in a number of places that the kingdom of heaven is made up of children.  Infants and nursing babes are the true priests of Jesus’ temple and they instruct us as to what it means to give fitting praise.

Now, We older folk are invited to join in the praise as well – but we must do so like children.  We must do so like children who believe that Jesus will change everything – and can do so in the here and now.  We must do so as weak people with a strong faith alone and no merit of ourselves.  We must do so with a willingness to simply turn to Him because He is here – without knowing all the answers to everything right now.

We must do so as people who would sing, as these children just sang –
“O blest the land, the city blest, where Christ the Ruler is confessed.  O happy hearts and happy homes to whom this King of triumph comes.  The cloudless Sun of joy He is Who bringeth pure delight and bliss.”

We must come believing that this Jesus can bless our city, bless our land, bless our nation, bless our homes, and bless our hearts with delight in Him forever and no matter what.

Monday, January 13, 2014

St. Patrick - 2013 Call to Worship

(HT – George Grant) - St. Patrick was not an Irishman – he was a missionary to the Irish, a nation full of pagan religion and fear of the gods.  He was apparently born in the 4th Century AD, into a patrician Roman family in one of the little Christian towns near present day Glasglow.   Although his pious parents nurtured him the Christian faith, he later confessed that he much preferred the passing pleasures of sin.

One day while playing by the sea as a teen, marauding pirates captured Patrick and sold him into slavery to a petty Celtic tribal king, named Milchu. During the next six years of captivity he suffered great adversity, hunger, nakedness, loneliness, and sorrow while tending his master's flocks in the valleys of Ireland.

It was amidst such dire straits that Patrick began to remember the Word of God his mother had taught him. Regretting his past life of selfish pleasure seeking, he turned to Christ as his Savior.

Of his conversion he later wrote, “I was sixteen years old and knew not the true God and was carried away captive; but in that strange land the Lord opened my unbelieving eyes, and although late I called my sins to mind, and was converted with my whole heart to the Lord my God, who regarded my low estate, had pity on my youth and ignorance, and consoled me as a father consoles his children….”

Amazingly, Patrick came to love the very people who humiliated him, abused him, and taunted him. He yearned for them to know the blessed peace he had found in the Gospel of Christ. Eventually rescued through a remarkable turn of events, Patrick returned to his family in Britain. But his heart increasingly dwelt upon the fierce Celtic peoples he had come to know so well. He was stunned to realize that he actually longed to return to Ireland and share the Gospel with them.

Though his parents were grieved to see him leave home once again, they reluctantly supported his efforts to gain theological training on the continent.

Thus, Patrick returned to Ireland. He preached to the pagan tribes in the Irish language he had learned as a slave. His willingness to take the Gospel to the least likely and the least lovely people imaginable was met with extraordinary success. And that success would continue for over the course of nearly half a century of evangelization, church planting, and social reform. He would later write that God’s grace had so blessed his efforts that “many thousands were born again unto God.”

We have come to worship God,  the same God Patrick worshipped and served.  This God transforms our lives by the work of His Spirit, applying to us the blood of Jesus, shed for our sins, and granting us resurrection lives – lives that give themselves away in love, in hope, in great trust, fear, and delight in the God Who saved us.  Come and worship our God.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Bonhoeffer on Community and Individuality

Whoever cannot be alone should beware of community.  Such people will only do harm to themselves and to the community.  Alone you stood before God when God called you.  Alone you had to obey God’s voice.  Alone you had to take up your cross, struggle, and pray and alone you will die and give an account to God.  You cannot avoid yourself, for it is precisely God who has singled you out.  If you do not want to be alone, you are rejecting Chris’s call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called…  But the reverse is also true.  Whoever cannot stand being in community should beware of being alone.  You are called into the community of faith, the call was not meant for you alone.  You carry your cross, you struggle, and you pray in the community of faith, the community of those who are called.  You are not alone even when you die, and on th day of judgment you will be only one member of the great community of faith in Jesus Christ.  If you neglect the community of other Christians, you reject the call of Jesus Christ, and thus your being alone can only become harmful for you.” - Bonhoeffer

It is Both And - not - Either Or

Friday, January 10, 2014

Both And, not Either Or

I had a “vision” of a group of men working on a raw diamond the Lord had given them.  One expert cutter was cutting one side, with great expertise, and another was slicing on another side, also with great expertise.  Someone then noticed that they were slicing at completely different angles and if expert one were to slice that way where the other expert was slicing that it would all go wrong.  Someone else then decided that this meant that the first expert must be wrong and someone else came to the same conclusion regarding expert two.  The arguments grew so strong that all work being done by the experts were put on hold…and the raw diamond stopped getting cut rightly.  Screwtape snickered to himself…