Archive for the ‘God’ Category

Close and Caring

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

We will begin to explore the grand mystery of how a kenotic, cruciform and Christlike God can reign — can be present, active and ‘sovereign’ — in the world, when he is neither coercive nor controlling, but nevertheless infinitely close and caring. We’ll notice together how such a God rules, saves and serves by grounding and filling all that is with the power of love — a divine love with a particular content defined as consent and participation.

— Bradley Jersak, A More Christlike God, p. 121

Interpretations

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

There is an objective, absolute, universal truth about who God is, but our knowledge of this truth is never objective, absolute, or universal. To pretend otherwise is a testimony to human pride.

— Heath Bradley, Flames of Love, p. 7

Choosing Joy

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

I haven’t the slightest doubt that God is bending over backward all day long to give me joy — but I must take it. Jesus stands at the crossroads pointing the way to joy, inviting and encouraging, but I must choose. Lasting happiness comes only through choice, through the making of countless small decisions, one day at a time. Once I see this, it’s not hard to choose. The hard part is admitting I have a choice.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 52

Intrinsic Results

Sunday, October 15th, 2017

It ought to be clear from all this that the reason “sin” leads to “death” is not at all (as is often supposed) that “death” is an arbitrary and somewhat draconian punishment for miscellaneous moral shortcomings. The link is deeper than that. The distinction I am making is like the distinction between the ticket you will get if you are caught driving too fast and the crash that will happen if you drive too fast around a sharp bend on a wet road. The ticket is arbitrary, an imposition with no organic link to the offense. The crash is intrinsic, the direct consequence of the behavior. In the same way, death is the intrinsic result of sin, not simply an arbitrary punishment. When humans fail in their image-bearing vocation, the problem is not just that they face punishment. The problem is that the “powers” seize control, and the Creator’s plan for his creation cannot go ahead as intended.

— N. T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began, p. 86-87.

Find Jesus in the Scriptures

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

Read, reread, and meditate on the Scriptures as you would a love letter, not a research paper. Always search for Jesus wherever you are reading, not getting sidetracked with anything else. Make Jesus your primary lens as you read through the Scriptures. Remember, it’s the spirit of the law, not the letter of the law, that matters. Focusing on the letter of the law was the mistake the religious leaders who confronted Jesus made, and he was continually correcting them. They were so wrapped up in Bible memory and organizing the Scriptures into doctrinal systems that they missed Jesus in the process. Jesus can be seen throughout these Scriptures.

— Tim Timmons, Simply Enough, p. 219

Thorn in the Flesh

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

He asked God over and over to remove this thorn, but God said no. God said that grace and mercy had to be enough, that nothing awful or fantastic that Paul did would alter the hugeness of divine love. This love would and will have the last say. The last word will not be our bad thoughts and behavior, but mercy, love, and forgiveness. God suggested, Try to cooperate with that. Okay? Keep your stupid thorn; knock yourself out.

What was the catch? The catch was that Paul had to see the thorn as a gift. He had to want to be put in his place, had to be willing to give God thanks for this glaring new sense of humility, of smallness, the one thing anyone in his right mind tries to avoid. Conceit is intoxicating, addictive, the best feeling on earth some days, but Paul chose instead submission and servitude as the way to freedom from the bondage of self. Blessed are the meek.

We don’t know if Paul was ever healed of his affliction. I do know that being told I could keep my awfulness made holding on to it much less attractive.

— Anne Lamott, Hallelujah Anyway, p. 133-134

God is Like Jesus.

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

Add to Jesus’ depiction of God as Father his startling Last Supper announcement, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). Somehow we need to let his words jar us again. Maybe we’re too used to the phrase, but it’s what I’ve hinted at in the title. For our own sakes, we might take a break from trying to convince ourselves that Jesus was and is God and to spend this twenty-first century meditating on the truth that God is like Jesus. Exactly like Jesus.

— Bradley Jersak, A More Christlike God, p. 22

A Whole New World

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Paul sees himself standing at the cutting edge of the revolution. The death of Jesus has opened up a whole new world, and he is part of the team leading the way into unexplored territory. He is not only to announce, but also to embody the faithfulness of the creator God to his covenant and his world. He is thinking of Isaiah’s vision of Israel’s “servant” vocation and quoting from one of his favorite chapters, Isaiah 49: “I listened to you when the time was right; I came to your aid on the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2, quoting Isa. 49:8). The remainder of that verse in Isaiah goes on, “I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people.” Paul is not summarizing the “works contract” (Jesus takes our sin, and we take his “righteousness”). He is doing what Revelation is doing: celebrating the fact that Jesus’s reconciling death sets people free to take up their true vocation. The Messiah’s death gives to him, and by extension to all who follow Jesus, the vocation to be part of the ongoing divine plan, the covenant purpose for the whole world.

— N. T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began, p. 82.

Unsystematic Truths

Monday, September 11th, 2017

But with Job easy answers are not possible. Implicit in the book is the lesson that theology must not try to be any clearer about God than God is about Himself. This is where so much fundamentalist religion goes astray, as it seeks to pin things down that are unpinnable, to systematize truths that by nature are unsystematic. Pharisees theologize the life out of truth. They are so wrapped up in expounding the Word of God that they forget it is the Word of God which expounds us.

— Mike Mason, The Gospel According to Job, p. 131-132

Inescapable Love

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

The notion of suffering as an offset for sin comes first of all, I think, from the satisfaction we feel when wrong comes to grief. We hate wrong, but, not being righteous ourselves, to a degree we cannot keep from hating the wronger as well. In this way the inborn justice of our nature passes over to evil. It is no pleasure to God, as it so often is to us, to see the wicked suffer. To regard any suffering with satisfaction, unless it be sympathetically with its curative quality, comes of evil and is a thing God is incapable of. His nature is always to forgive, and just because he forgives, he punishes. Because God is so altogether alien to wrong, because it is to him a heart-pain and trouble that one of his little ones should do the evil thing, there is, I believe, no extreme of suffering to which, for the sake of destroying the evil thing in them, he would not subject them. A man might flatter, or bribe, or coax a tyrant. But there is no refuge from the love of God. That love will, for very love, insist upon the uttermost farthing.

“That hardly sounds like love,” you say. “It’s certainly not the sort of love I care about.”

No, how should you? How should any of us care for it until we begin to know it? But the eternal love will not be moved to yield us to the selfishess that is killing us. You may sneer at such a love, but the Son of God, who took the weight of that love and bore it through the world, is content with it, and so is everyone who truly knows it.

— George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, Third Series, “Justice,” quoted in Discovering the Character of God, edited by Michael Phillips, p. 261-262