Archive for the ‘God’ Category

True Relationship

Friday, April 19th, 2019

Yet even though “Love God and love others” is a good summary of the law, this statement is still a law, and Christians are not called to live according to the law. Instead, we are invited to live within a relationship based on love. While God does want us to love Him and love others, we cannot do this until we know that we are loved unconditionally. And once we know we are loved by God, love for Him and for others flows naturally from Him through us as we live within that love. This only makes sense, for no relationship can be built on law. True relationships are always and only built on love.

— J. D. Myers, Nothing But the Blood of Jesus, p. 76

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, April 8, 2019

Fully Authentic

Friday, April 12th, 2019

Many people think that having someone close to you come out clouds your vision, but in reality it clarifies it. It redefines words for you. It rewrites false stories. It renovates your religion. It forces you to understand sexuality not as some detached issue but as what it is — human beings; in this case, those you know and love dearly. This is the gift relationship gives you. That proximity we get to people will always show us what we couldn’t see any other way. When you are faced with the reality of having an LGBTQ family member or close friend, it forces you to hold up your theology to see what it’s really made of. And when this happens, some of it gets confirmed, some of it gets shifted, and some of it gets blown up. I’d already done my homework. I’d studied. I’d prayed through it. I’d already reconciled so many of my feelings on gender identity and sexual orientation before this moment, so I knew without blinking that I didn’t have to choose between loving God and loving my brother — and he didn’t have to choose between being gay and being adored by God.

One of the things you learn when you walk down the path of being an ally is that people aren’t LGBTQ based on the consent you give or don’t give to them, the approval you provide or withhold. That’s not how gender identity and sexual orientation work. Your acceptance doesn’t give people permission to be anything. It simply allows them to be fully authentic in your presence and to feel loved as they are. It secures people in those places where they should feel fully secured: in their families and friendships and workplaces and churches. If you don’t think you have LGBTQ family members, coworkers, classmates, and friends right now, you may want to ask yourself if that’s because you’ve created an environment in which they would be afraid to share it even if they were. It might be that your words and manner have already told people that they’re not safe to be honest with you. As our society thankfully becomes less and less hostile to the LGBTQ community and as people begin to gradually feel safer in authenticity, more children will come out and more families will have a new reality to reckon with. Those families will continue to seek spiritually and they will continue to need and deserve to be in faith communities where they are fully welcomed. It is one of the reasons the table needs to be made bigger.

— John Pavlovitz, A Bigger Table, p. 17-18

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, April 8, 2019

Not Orphans

Thursday, April 4th, 2019

Like most utterances of Jesus in the Gospel, “I will not leave you as orphans” is not just supposed to fill us with consolation but to be received as an invitation. It seems to say, As I won’t leave you an orphan, don’t you leave anyone behind. We are meant to hear in these words a call to seek out the isolated, the rejected, the abandoned. Then we are meant to walk toward them, with open arms, and bring them in to the place of belonging. This is the essential task of the Choir.

— Gregory Boyle, Barking to the Choir, p. 162

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 30, 2019

Until It Is Found

Saturday, March 30th, 2019

Here in Luke, we are presented with a vision of the Good Shepherd who searches without ceasing. Normal search and rescue operations only last a certain time; eventually they are called off, even if not everyone has been found. But there is nothing normal about the rescue mission of the Good Shepherd, for he does not know how to give up. He knows nothing of cutting his losses, for if He did, He would surely never have searched in the first instance. After all, ninety nine out of one hundred is a pretty good standard, don’t you think? Ninety nine percent might be good in our books, but it is not good enough for God. Nothing short of one hundred percent will satisfy the Good Shepherd.

Look at what Jesus says in verse 4, “Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” Notice that word ‘until.’ It is there deliberately. It is not by accident that Jesus does not say, “in an attempt to find it.” Jesus says that the shepherd will search until it is found, hence the title of this book. This story says nothing about not finding the lost sheep; no hint of failure is given. That there may be a sheep belonging to Him that He will never find, is a conclusion that this story precludes us from believing. Praise God!

It is Jesus who is the Good Shepherd, and the success of the search and rescue operation depends upon His skill. He sees so clearly, and intervenes so effectually, that He will most assuredly bring them in. Jesus Christ will not lose one of His sheep. True, some sheep may wander in the wilderness for a time, but to be forever lost? Never! A thought that He cannot bear. Could the Christ fail to save even one of those for whom He came and for whom He died? Impossible! Such a thought He could not endure. A defeated Christ is a Christ whom I cannot conceive of.

— Peter Gray, Until They Are Found, p. 23-24

Photo: Leithöfe, Germany, April 17, 1997

No Satisfaction Needed

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

All four gospels depict how in his teaching and practice Jesus revealed a different, non-feudal picture of the way God deals with sin. Think of the parables of the shepherd going after his lost sheep and the woman searching for her lost coin, both rejoicing with their neighbors when they find the one who has strayed, no satisfaction needed. Remember the parable of the forgiving father who runs out to embrace the returning prodigal son, throwing a party to welcome him back, no payback required. Recall the paralytic who, after Jesus assured him that his sins were forgiven, took up his pallet and walked away, no atonement given. Call up the story of the Pharisee and the publican in the temple; when the publican prays, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner,” he goes home justified, nothing more required. Keep in mind Luke’s depiction of Jesus himself, forgiving his executioners as his life ebbed away, no satisfaction needed.

— Elizabeth A. Johnson, Creation and the Cross, p. 6

Photo: Iona, Scotland, July 13, 2003

God’s Joy

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

You want to be there when the poetry happens. Isaiah has God say: “Be glad forever and rejoice in what I create . . . for I create my people to be a delight.” God thinking we’d enjoy ourselves. Delighting is what occupies God, and God’s hope is that we join in. That God’s joy may be in us and this joy may be complete. We just happen to be God’s joy. That takes some getting used to.

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, p. 158

Photo: Oregon Coast, August 6, 2014

Storytelling Creatures

Monday, March 25th, 2019

Jesus invites us into a story that is bigger than ourselves, bigger than our culture, bigger even than our imaginations, and yet we get to tell that story with the scandalous particularity of our particular moment and place in time. We are storytelling creatures because we are fashioned in the image of a storytelling God. May we never neglect the gift of that. May we never lose our love for telling the tale.

— Rachel Held Evans, Inspired, p. 164

Photo: Kanturk Castle, Ireland, July 2001

Into the Arms of God

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

Bonhoeffer notices Jesus giving these teachings about how to live a life of love. He says, if you approach them as mechanical, legalistic things, you’ll stumble. The key is not to turn the teachings of Jesus into a new law. The key, he says, is to throw yourself into the arms of God. Throw yourself into the hands of Jesus. And then, you might actually learn to love an enemy. Then you might pray for those who curse you. Then you know what it means to be blessed. The poor. The poor in spirit. That’s what makes them compassionate. That’s what makes them hunger for God’s justice. That’s how Peter walks on water. To throw yourself into the arms of Jesus . . . and hold on.

— Michael Curry, The Power of Love, p. 25-26

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 16, 2019

No Condemnation

Friday, March 15th, 2019

Make no mistake, Jesus didn’t die to riddle your life (or any other) with condemnation in any form. Jesus doesn’t love you to fill your heart with conditions. Jesus didn’t create heaven to lose you to the possibility of hell. For any message that declares condemnation from God or places conditions to love, falls drastically short of reflecting God and understanding Him who is Love.

— Chris Kratzer, Leatherbound Terrorism, p. 78

Photo: Lake Killarney, Ireland, July 2001

Saved from Sin

Saturday, March 9th, 2019

Matthew 1:21 is a prophecy spoken by an angel to Joseph about the son that would be born to Mary. The angel tells Joseph that Mary’s son will be called “Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” The name Jesus means “the Lord saves,” but what does it mean that Jesus will save His people from their sins? Very often when people read and teach this verse, they believe that the angel is telling Joseph that Jesus will be able to purchase the forgiveness of sins for people from God so that they can gain eternal life and go to heaven when they die. But this is not what the angel is saying at all.

First of all, God has always forgiven all people of all their sins, no matter what. Jesus did not have to purchase forgiveness from God. God forgives simply because God is a loving forgiver. Second, the word save does not mean “gain eternal life so you can go to heaven when you die.” It means “deliver.” Though many Christians today think that the words “save” and “salvation” refer to going to heaven when you die, there is no instance of the word being used this way in the New Testament. Salvation is not about going to heaven when you die but often has in view some sort of temporal deliverance from the difficulties of this life.

— J. D. Myers, Nothing But the Blood of Jesus, p. 57

Photo: Heidelberg, Germany, December 1996