Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Again, Again and Again

"The bible is not a book of virtues, it’s a book of gospel, It’s not a series of moral exemplars, it’s a record of God’s intervening grace into the lives of people who don’t deserve it, who don’t seek it, who continually resist it and even don’t appreciate it after they’ve been saved by it."  - Tim Keller (from his sermon, "Real Freedom and the Listening Lord")

Since I quoted Keller yesterday, I thought it would only be fair to quote him a little more in context of his view of scripture.  It's such a refreshing take for me, because I know that I am just like the folks of scripture he goes on to describe:

"The very best human beings in the history of the world are moral and spiritual failures, that can’t rise above their own culture.  They can’t rise above the brutality of their own times, and they can’t escape the self-centerdness of their own hearts."

So where is the hope for these folks that are so like me, the selfish and the hell-bent?  It is only in the reality of a God who breaks into their world, a God who condescends, a God who becomes flesh, a God who becomes weak, a God who suffers, a God who meets individual meanness, and a God who takes all that selfishness, hate and hellishness on his shoulders and suffers so that I might have life.  This is humanitys' only hope.

Keller continues about such folks like me:

"... but God continues to come to them, continues to not give up on them, continues to patiently speak to them, to help them, to aid them, to save them and to rescue them again and again and again…"

How has God changed since the time of the "great" men and women of scripture.  He hasn't.  He still continues this reckless pursuit of rebels.  

Most people think just the opposite about God and scripture.  Keller again:

"You may think that the message of the Bible is you give God a righteous life and God will bless… but the message of the Bible is that God always comes to us by sheer grace and then we owe him.  In other words 'Is bible mainly about you and what you should be doing or is it about him and what he has done?'"

The bible, this whole Christian life thing, is radically rooted in what God has done and what he is doing.  This is the truth that gives me a taste of humility, and at which one day my knee every will bow with everyone on earth and proclaim that his ways are good and just.  It is this reality that gives the weary, shaky, broken-down soul like mine hope and blissful rest. 

Finally it is the reality of what God has done that gives Christians true grit to face life's challenges.  It is precisely and only because Christ faced every challenge there is and now he lives in us, his children, that we have the joyful challenge to extend the grace of God's work to this hurting world today. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Gospel Order

"Unless you have said, 'Whatever I discern as your (God's) will I will do unconditionally, you're not a Christian."   - Tim Keller (in sermon on Abraham)

Maybe it's just me but statements like these make me want to pack up my office bag, go home, get back in bed, curl up under the covers and give up on this whole Christ-following thing.  When have I ever experienced unconditional surrender to God?  All of my surrender seems so riddled with fear, control, manipulation and self-interest that it's a miracle God calls me his child.

Or does he?

This question is the question that drives me into despair.  It is this insecurity that produces the fear of my life.

The gaping gulf between me as I know me, and me as a fully surrendered child of God, leads me to despair.  Who am I really?  Am I a child of God?  Or am I just pretending?

I am just pretending if my security lies in my actions or level of surrender.  But, and I realize this may be a  stretch, if my security lies in someone, say Jesus, and his obedience and his full surrender, than I am such a child.

Grace precedes faith.  Salvation precedes obedience.  The gospel order.  I guess it's important to remember even if you're listening to Keller.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Reality Check

As I stare at the blinking cursor on my laptop, I'm thinking, in this whole world of wonder, what should  I write about?  I just got finished reading about God's perspective on time from Ann Voskamp.  She was saying that the creator of time wants me to slow down, notice the good around, and give thanks.  When  I do this, I'm really, really surprised.  My world is full of things to be thankful for.  Here's a brief list off the top of my head from this morning:

1.  Dear friend/brother who's flying across the nation to meet me.
2.  Children who greeted me with smiles this morning.  One was a less toothy smile as she's losing them - a whole backstory full of tooth-faries, longings, imagination and childhood.
3.  A building and place to go to to work.  Something to pour my energy into that brings God joy.  
4.  A warm cup of coffee and a inside joke between friends.
5.  15 minutes with a friend to sit down, pray and encourage him in his intense pre-engagement worries and fears.
6.  A book that opens my eyes to the world around me, and enables me to plagiarize what I see into a blog post.
7.  My own frailty, tiredness and background fear that lifts my eyes heavenward in a plea for divine rest.  Divine rest granted.
8.  A spouse at home caring, nurturing, teaching and loving my children.
9.  A two day work week (since my brother's coming into town).
10.  The ability to write this stuff down, nail it in, and feel the "soul-holes" of my heart being filled and healed (burrowed again from the book).

As I look at this list, just ten in ten-thousand un-thanked for blessings, I am encouraged.  Life can be full of so much hurry, worry, loss, pain, dread and death, that I must, I simply have to become a creature of thanks.  Thanks for God's gifts open me up to him.  And in this intimacy I believe I am really alive.  So here's to thankful living, toast it with your favorite beverage.


Monday, February 4, 2013


Wow it's been a long time since I posted anything on my blog.  I've missed writing and watching my thoughts scroll across the screen of my monitor.  And I don't particularly enjoy them banging around in my head and making a mess of my headspace that would make the sternest psychologist cringe.

I've given up writing for the past couple of months simply because I've been discouraged.  Nothing outwardly has changed all that much, but I've just felt an inner disillusionment with life and God.  I'm tired of hearing I need to change and I'm tired of waiting to change.

I struggle with all sorts of things, feeling like I'm coming up short in so many areas of my life.  But there's something that this process (of seeing my shortcomings) has enabled me to do.   Even while I've felt sad and discouraged I've dared to hope.  So I guess I'd say I've been both discouraged and encouraged.

With hope I was reading on Abraham and I noticed just how much of his story is God's story.  God is the main actor in Abraham's life.  And it's not ego-centric activity, it's beautiful activity of selfless love.  God's character traits pop out as if from behind a curtain in these OT accounts.

Just check out his first address to Abraham: "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.  And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

This blessing makes me think that it's a very, very good thing that God is a "covenantal" God.  I've heard that term batted around a lot, and I frankly often don't know what it means.  But in God's covenants I see both a God who is willing to condescend in his dealings with man but also a God who privileges man with absolute undeserved devotion.

A lot of people talk about there's or others' devotion to God.  But really, God is devoted to himself I know, but his devotion to himself comes through us and is towards us.  We are super-loved.  

Now that I think about it, that may be the defining characteristic of the Christian - that a person is super-loved.

So as I seek to pick back up this experiment in blogging, or wandering thoughts making there way into cyber print, I'm hoping in this God's super-love.