These Days After Pentecost: On Law & Spirit


In the Christian Church Calendar, we are currently in a season that is numbered according to the Holy Day of Pentecost, the day we celebrate the Holy Spirit falling on the apostles fifty days after Jesus’ death (hence the name Penta-cost).

Jesus had told the disciples to go out into the world ministering this Gospel to the world, but first, to wait. What would be so important as to put the brakes on the mission of God in the world?

The Holy Spirit.
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My Grandfather’s Passing (Hope in Death?)


peep-paul-dance-2Today is the sixth anniversary of my Grandfather’s death. I am reposting this reflection I wrote at the time.

This past Sunday, the day after Christmas, I watched my grandfather die. This is the first death I’ve experienced of someone very close to me. I’ve known people who had died, sure, but no one as close as this.

This man walked with me and I with him for my entire life. I sat on his knee and was tickled by his hands. I grew up hearing legends about him, and I walked in a general sense of awe and disbelief when in his presence.

His name was (is?) Lester Travis Williamson, or as I knew him for most my life: Peep (a mispronunciation due to the first grandchild’s toddler lisp).

Peep represented for me a tenacity and determinedness of love that great stories of tragedy and triumph are built upon. As their old pastor said during the funeral, he was a man that if you asked for a crumb would give you the entire loaf and then chase you out the door to give you another loaf for the road.

But this is not to be confused with the contemporary pictures of the sentimental, gratuitously giving man–cheerful, talkative, jocular, and always-optimistic. If Peep was anything, he was the quintessential man of his generation–America’s vision of a “real man”–quiet, determined, and strong. He spoke with intention in every syllable, meaning what he said and saying what he meant.

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{Maundy thursday} | prayer & readings for Holy Week (2015)


prayers & readings from Liberti Church’s 2015 Lent & Easter Prayerbook
{click for more Lent Posts}

Worship

call to prayer

Be pleased, O God, to deliver us;
O LORD, make haste to help us!
– from Psalm 70:1

the Gloria Patri

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son,
and God the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, so it is now,
and so it shall ever be, world without end.
Amen!
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{wednesday} | prayer & readings for Holy Week (2015)


prayers & readings from Liberti Church’s 2015 Lent & Easter Prayerbook
{click for more Lent Posts}

Worship

call to prayer

Be pleased, O God, to deliver us;
O LORD, make haste to help us!
– from Psalm 70:1

the Gloria Patri

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son,
and God the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, so it is now,
and so it shall ever be, world without end.
Amen!
Continue reading

{tuesday} | prayer & readings for Holy Week (2015)


prayers & readings from Liberti Church’s 2015 Lent & Easter Prayerbook
{click for more Lent Posts}

Worship

call to prayer

Be pleased, O God, to deliver us;
O LORD, make haste to help us!
– from Psalm 70:1

the Gloria Patri

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son,
and God the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, so it is now,
and so it shall ever be, world without end.
Amen!
Continue reading

{monday} | prayer & readings for Holy Week (2015)


prayers & readings from Liberti Church’s 2015 Lent & Easter Prayerbook
{click for more Lent Posts}

Worship

call to prayer

Be pleased, O God, to deliver us;
O LORD, make haste to help us!
– from Psalm 70:1

the Gloria

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son,
and God the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, so it is now,
and so it shall ever be, world without end.
Amen!
Continue reading

Who God is When We’ve Forgotten Who He is | Exodus 3.13-15


But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’:

This is my name forever,
and this my title for all generations.

Exodus 3.13-15

Oh this could be for us. The people had been so far from there God, that they may have even the forgotten his name. I feel like this is a similar time to where we are now, with people needing to be told the name of God and reminded who he is and what he does.

God says that this is his name for every generation. Even now? Could this somehow be a model for how Christians today are to live in this world where people have forgotten the name and identity of God? What if we lived as if God is not “The One Who Must be Defended”, “The One Who Judges & Condemns”, “The One Whose Way of Living Must Be Forced Upon Societies”, “The One Who Must Be Pleased”, “The One Who Accepts All”, or even “The One Who Saves Us”.

How would our lives look if we read this Exodus passage, saw this name, title, and covenantal nature and lived embracing this name and identity: The One Who Simply Is, and Is Ours.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Our infinitely compassionate (and delegating) God | Exodus 3.7-8


Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey….
Exodus 3.7-8

Notice the verbs hear that God uses to describe how he relates to his people. He observes, hears, knows, and comes down. How intimate, tender, and powerful. Also, it’s a little funny that he says that he has come down to save if his people right as he’s commissioning Moses to do it for him.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

The Proof that God’s Right? When He Is. | Exodus 3.11-12


But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.”
Exodus 3.11-12

Haha. God pretty much says, “this will be the sign that I am right. When everything I’m saying ends up happening”. And so Moses’ assurance in the moment is a promise for the future.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Why go to church? Well, why get married? [QUOTE]


If someone asks me what is the use of going to church, what good does it do me, what do I get out of it, how do I answer these questions?

It is as though someone asks me what the use is of getting married, what good does it do me. If I answered such questions by saying, “Well, it is very useful to get married! You have someone to do the housework, the shopping, cook the meals, etc.,” it would clearly be a false view of marriage. No woman wants to be merely a housekeeper, kept because of her utility!

There is only one supreme reason for getting married—for love’s sake, for the other’s sake, for mutual love, self- giving, a longing for intimate communion, and sharing of everything.

So in Christian worship, we worship God for God’s sake; we come to Christ for Christ’s sake, motivated by love. An awareness of God’s holy love for us, revealed in Jesus Christ, awakens in us a longing for intimate communion—to know the love of the Father and to participate in the life and ministry of Christ.

Worship in the Bible is always presented to us as flowing from an awareness of who God is and what he has done: “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob . . . I have loved you and redeemed you . . . I will be your God and you will be my people. Therefore, this is how you will worship me.”

As we have seen, worship in the Bible is an ordinance of grace, a covenantal form of response to the God of grace, prescribed by God himself. This is supremely true of the New Testament understanding of worship, as the gift of participating through the Spirit in the incarnate Son’s communion with the Father and his mission from the Father to the world, in a life of wonderful communion.

— from James B. Torrance’s beautiful book Worship, Communion, and the Triune God of Grace (paragraph breaks added for clarity)

Donald Miller is just plain wrong about church. But it’s not his fault.


donald-miller-bw-1

Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz, started a little kerfuffle last week when he wrote about how he doesn’t really go to church any more. He doesn’t learn much about God through sermons, and he doesn’t connect with God through songs. Church just doesn’t connect with him in any way and doesn’t fit within his own learning style, which is far more participatory. He says the Church is all around us and in believers so he feels free to “have church” in the way(s) that most connect him to God and others.

Well, this caused quite the backlash. He wrote again a couple of days ago in response, but it seems that most people still really disagree with him.

But here’s the problem: Donald Miller is absolutely right in everything he says if he still insists on calling himself an “Evangelical”, or at least using that as his frame of reference.

If you consider yourself an Evangelical in any traditional sense, and you’re looking at Donald Miller’s church practices with dismay, well then welcome to your future–the logical conclusion of your theology and how you’ve practiced church for a few generations now.
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Abraham almost loses his son & he worships?! | Genesis 22.13-14


 And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”
Genesis 22.13-14

This is right after the whole “sacrifice Isaac” thing. To me, this such an odd response. Not only does Abraham worship God after this, which is crazy enough as it is, but he also sets up a memorial to remember this by! If I were him, I’d need some space from this God for a bit and I’d want to forget this incident as soon as possible.

I’ve always thought it odd that the book of Hebrews puts such an emphasis on Abraham and calling him the “father of faith” and extols his faith so much. Whenever I read that I think about how he had Ishmael with Hagar, due to a lack faith, and (twice) gave his wife up to be the wife of someone else because he was scared they’d kill him–another example of a lack of faith!

But then I read things like this and I think to myself, “Oh yeah, now I get it.”

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Crazy thought of the day: God Died. [QUOTE]


“The task of witnessing to the gospel is to vitalize the astonishing fact of the gospel. The message “the Son of God has died” is indeed most astonishing…. God has died! If this does not startle us, what will? The church must keep this astonishment alive. The church ceases to exist when she loses this astonishment. Theology, the precise understanding of the gospel, must be seized by this astonishment more than anyone else. It is said that philosophy begins with wonder; so theology begins with wonder. The wonder of philosophy pales before the wonder of theology. The person astonished by the tidings “God has died” can no longer be astonished at anything else.”

Kazoh Kitamori, Theology of the Pain of God

Lament & Remembrance (Nostalgia Can Hurt)


paul-window-bw-schrott

Lately, I’ve found myself getting very nostalgic, remembering past relationships, friends, places I’ve lived, and people I’ve known. And honestly, I don’t know why my remembering and thinking through all of these things in the past has caused more tears than laughter, especially in the area of relationships.

I have found myself lingering on the Facebook profiles of old roommates whom I’ve completely lost touch with inexplicably. I have been reading through old emails and blog posts that remind me of spiritual fathers and mothers with whom disagreements over the past several years have led to very real divisions..

And yesterday, I heard a song that reminded me of a situation a couple of years ago that was incredibly painful for me. It wasn’t really any one’s particular sin or moral failings that ended up causing all the hurt and pain; just the collision of people’s own baggage and immaturity and struggles. As I thought back on it I remembered the false ideal picture of reality I had blindly painted for myself at that time. I remembered the slow, painful process that was this picture being broken down brick by brick over the course of several weeks. I felt again the shadows of the anxiety and pain from that time.
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