Monday, December 31, 2012

Half Hearted Creature

"If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are too easily pleased." ~ C. S. Lewis

"Nothing makes God more supreme and more central than when people are utterly persuaded that nothing -  not money or prestige or leisure or family or job or health or sports or toys or friends - is going to bring satisfaction to their aching hearts besides God . . . God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." ~J. Piper

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Our Gauchely God

I'm in a war zone this Christmas and seeing the celebration as more gritty than ever before. N. D. Wilson is helping . . .

"But Christmas - to the Greeks, Christmas was filth, a vulgarity in the extreme. They were right. And thus the beauty. If the Maker of the world were to descend to earth, how would you expect Him? If you heard that the Infinite, the Spirit Creator was entering His own Art, wouldn't you look to the clouds? Wouldn't you look to the cherubim in their storms; wouldn't you expect a tornado chariot? I would, and in my defense, I think my sensibilities are good and entirely in the right place. It is God who is gauche. And thus the surprise.

The Jews were waiting on a Messiah. They were waiting on a man to throw off the oppressor, someone like Judah Maccabee, someone like the King David. The Messiah came, and not just to the Jews. He did come like Judah, like David, but not how expected.

He came to be humbled. He came to die.

Plan the event. Arrange the reception. The King of kings is coming. He will shoulder governments. He will be called the Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor.

Plato, no covering your eyes, no throwing up in indignation, no offended boycotts of the crucifix set in urine. The Lord of all reality is coming to your hemisphere. And He, the pure Spirit, will take on flesh and need to eat and breathe and move His bowels, and have His diapers changed. Don't look at me. I had plenty of glorious ideas. The blasphemy isn't mine.

He will be a carpenter, with splintered and blistered hands and cracking nails. One of His grandmothers was a whore of Jericho. He will enter the womb of a virgin and expand in the normal way. He will exit her womb in the normal way. And then she will suckle Him as the cows do their calves. Besides, well, He will be mammal.

These days, we dress the whole thing up and hum until it all seems holy. We set up little plastic scenes in our yards and then we backlight them. If God is pleased it is because they are trite and silly - entirely in keeping with the whole event.

He was born in a barn and slept in a food trough. Maybe the livestock all took gentle knees, cognizant and pious, like in the back page of a children's Christmas book. Maybe they smacked on their cuds and continued to lift their tails and muck in the stalls.

"The reversals in the story didn't stop at Christ's birth. Rather than being celebrated, one of the first plot elements was Herod's declaration of genocide. The King of kings is here, you say? Bathe the land in infant blood. Slaughter, Rachel weeping for her children lost . . . these things are part of the Christmas story. For some reason, we leave the soldiers, dead babies, and weeping mothers out of the plastic figurine collection.

". . . With whom did He sit and eat? Whores. Thieves. The unclean. From birth to the end, He never left the trough. Christ walked from insult to insult, from filth to filth."

The Joy and Gravity of Adoption

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas As War

It's not about the War on Christmas. It's about Christmas as war.

Dr. Russell Moore posted on the Newtown shooting as it relates to Christmas. The entire post is worth reading. He shattered my "Silent Night" image of the Luke 2 story held for most of my life describing the King's birth in the context of conflict.

I will never sing "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" the same way. Maranantha in the cold and dark places!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Vomit Dog

Killing me softly with His Words: Selections from 1 & 2 Peter.

Punishment . . . This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority . . . they are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures . . . they never stop sinning . . . they have left the straight way and wondered off . . . These men are springs without water and mists driven by the storm. . . Blackest darkness is reserved for them. For they mouth empty, boastful words . . . they are slaves of depravity – for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than at the beginning. Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit”. . .

How close am I to such men? How often do I plunge into the same flood of dissipation (1 Pet. 4: 4) given to be deluged and destroyed (2 Pet. 3: 6). What separates me from them? Grace, calling, glory – enabling strength, firmness . . . restoration (1 Pet. 5: 10). A Price paid – redemption from the empty way (1 Pet. 1: 18). As the result (of Christ’s sufferings at the Cross) I will not live this earthly life for my evil desires (1 Pet. 4: 1-2), but as a stranger in reverent fear (1 Pet. 1: 17), shielded by faith (1 Pet. 1: 5), divinely empowered (2 Pet. 1: 3), on guard, growing in grace, to His glory! (2 Pet. 3: 17-18). Mercy, Lord – plead grace and mercy.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Calling Not Potential

Two mind shakers, heart rattlers, and soul rollers from the Resurgence:

A question that could change your life.

What would you be willing to attempt for God if you knew you could not fail?

How to live for God's glory.

Pursue your calling, not your potential.

. . . you were redeemed from the empty way of life . . . 
(1 Pet. 1:18)


 Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity . . . 
(Eph. 5: 15)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Life Changer

Be forewarned this is the best sermon on missions you will ever hear. For some of you, it will mean leaving where you are to go where you are called. Soak it in, then let it gnaw on your soul - be radically moved. Let the One who holds the fate of the world in His hand have your life as well.