Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

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

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

Our Vocation

Friday, August 25th, 2017

The remarkable thing is that the Creator, having made the world to work in this way – with humans functioning like the “image” in a temple, standing between heaven and earth and acting on behalf of each in relation to the other – has not abandoned the project. Yes, it gets distorted again and again. But it remains the way the world was supposed to work – and the way in which, through the gospel, it will work once more. The powers that have stolen the worshipping hearts of the world and that have in consequence usurped the human rule over the world would like nothing better than for humans to think only of escaping the world rather than taking back their priestly and royal vocations.

— N. T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began, p. 80

Faith Among the Shambles

Sunday, July 16th, 2017

In arguing with Job, their understandable concern is that in the depths of this man’s despair his thoughts seem to be irreverently taken up with the collapse of God’s good favor towards him, rather than with the collapse of his own faith. The supreme irony of this judgment is that really it is they who, by clinging to their theology of successful living or else, show themselves to be lacking faith in God, while Job, by honestly and passionately facing the shambles that his life has become, proves that in the pit of his heart he trusts his Lord.

— Mike Mason, The Gospel According to Job, p. 82

Job’s Depression

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

It is important to realize that nowhere in this book are we given reason to believe that Job’s depression, in and of itself, is ever viewed by the Lord as being his own “fault.” On the contrary, in view of the clear mandate for unlimited harassment (short of death) given to Satan in the Prologue, we are constrained to see Job’s psychic trauma as part and parcel with his other trials, just one more of the Devil’s assaults upon his faith. In fact the message that begins to unfold in Chapter 3 is that depression in a believer, far from being unforgivable, is one of the things that the Lord is most ready and eager to forgive. It may even be something that does not call for forgiveness at all, and far from being a sign of loss of faith it may actually demonstrate the presence of the sort of genuine and deeply searching faith that God always honors.

— Mike Mason, The Gospel According to Job, p. 59-60

Easter Is the Answer

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

A graduate student wrote to ask if my Christianity affects my novels, and I replied that it is the other way around. My writing affects my Christianity. In a way one might say that my stories keep converting me back to Christianity, from which I am constantly tempted to stray because the circle of blessing seems frayed and close to breaking, and my faith is so frail and flawed that I fall away over and over again from my God. There are times when I feel that he has withdrawn from me, and I have often given him cause; but Easter is always the answer to My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!

— Madeleine L’Engle, The Irrational Season, p. 99, quoted in Madeleine L’Engle, Herself, compiled by Carole F. Chase

Loving God

Friday, September 9th, 2016

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.” If we are angry at God because of something that happened to us or because of something going on in the world, and we are reluctant to admit our anger either because it seems disrespectful or because we fear that God will punish us for being angry at Him, we won’t be able to “love God with all our heart.” We can only love him halfheartedly. The wife who is afraid to tell her husband how bothered she is by some of his habits, for fear that he will be upset with her and perhaps even leave her, will not be able to love him wholeheartedly, and that inability will affect their relationship. The adolescent who is scolded for being angry at his parents “after all we’ve done for you,” or whose hopes and dreams are mocked by his parents, will learn to keep his feelings to himself. That will be an impediment to his being able to love his parents as wholeheartedly as he would like to.

Accepting anger, ours and that of people close to us, has to be part of any honest relationship. If the opposite of faith is not doubt but despair, then the opposite of authentic love, wholehearted love, is not anger but pretense, censoring our feelings. I don’t believe God is fooled by that, nor do I believe that is what He wants from us. God will accept our anger, justified or not, so that we can then go on to love Him “with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our might.”

— Harold S. Kushner, Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life, p. 129-130.

Wouldn’t Trade It

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

My dear readers — what do you do with the fact that hundreds of thousands of the dearest and most valiant saints would tell you that even though they have passed through terrible affliction, their most precious and fervent prayers unanswered, they would not trade it for anything in the world? They would not trade it because of what they have learned of God, learned of love, learned of hope.

John Eldredge, Moving Mountains, p. 223