God

Prayer

“Tell God all that is in your heart, as
one unloads one’s heart, its plea-
sures and its pains, to a dear friend.
Tell Him your troubles, that He may
comfort you; tell Him your joys, that
He may sober them; tell Him your longings…

From Idealization to Reality: The Church as a Body

Mhmmm

Embodied.

The church is the body of Christ, not as a metaphor, but in reality. –Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I used to have high hopes for the church. Idealistic even. But a curious thing happened to me on the way to idealizing the church. I spent some time in it. And I became jaded. I suspect in this I am not alone.

The picture that is forming of my two-and-a-half decades of time spent with the people of God spread throughout Northern California, Southern California, the Deep South and the Great Northwest looks more like twisted burning wreckage than anything else. The wreckage has been largely relational in nature. The logical center of my soul has been pleading with me for years now to give up the ghost.

Who has the emotional reserves to stay invested in a community with so much capacity for harm? Who in their right mind would give themselves…

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Reblog – Rage Against the Minivan: The inconvenient truth about your Halloween chocolate and forced child labor

I haven’t been writing lately, more about that another time…but I came across this article by Kristen over at Rage Against the Minivan about child labour, slavery and chocolate:

Rage Against the Minivan – The inconvenient truth about your Halloween chocolate and forced child labor

Now, frankly, I have no idea where to start in actively responding to this issue, but ceasing or curtailing chocolate consumption supplied by slavery and child labour might be a place to start?
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The Passover and Jesus’ death

I never knew how much Jesus’ last days, death, and resurrection parralleled the Jewish Passover celebration:

Meeting Jesus at an Old Testament Feast by John R. Sittema | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org (more…)

Why does Jefferson Bethke Hate Religion, But Love Jesus?

This week has been a kind of a semi-forced week off from writing for me. Fatigue and other things taking priority over reading and writing. Such as devotional time, sleep, and the discovery of the My OldBoy emulator for my tablet, and rediscovering the Pokemon franchise. Sometime much easier to sit in darkness and play such a game than get up and read or write, especially from bed or sitting in bed with little one sleeping on lap. It doesn’t require much in the way of sustained focus either, which is a plus. If I could switch on and off ‘writing mode’ or read and write effectively while being constantly interrupted, I would write much more and finish many move books. Not that I’m not forcing myself to curtail that gaming somewhat…it’s a bit addictive.

On the subject of reading books, however, I’m apologising for any disappointed expectations in terms of regular book reviews, including my own hopes. I’m actually near or near-ish to the end of several books, so hopefully in the next month or so I’ll be writing about a few books 🙂 These include: Fight: A Christian Case for Non-Violence by Preston Sprinkle; A Genius for Deception: How Cunning Helped the British Win Two World Wars by Nicholas Rankin; The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborne; Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett; and maybe a couple of others that I’ve not actually dipped into recently.

 

Adding to the list, and my intention is to make it near the top is Jesus > Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough by Jefferson Bethke. This comes near the top because it was a gift from fellow blogger Skully Speaks (whom you should definitely check out), which I actually received in the mail Tuesday night, but haven’t gotten around to posting about until now. I’ve loved Bethke’s spoken word videos (see below), and was interested in his book, but unable to justify the expense (particularly given my pile of books waiting to be read that I semi-obviously have justified the expense for), and she offered to send me a copy. Big giant THANKYOU! 🙂

I would love to say that I’ll have this read in a week, or even two, but I can’t promise that at all. Same as I’ve currently got a bit of peace and quiet alone to write, but I don’t think I’m going to manage to write all of the half dozen posts I’ve got on the burner at the back of my mind. I am hoping to do one or two in addiction to this one, and rough out or note a few more, but we’ll see how I do. No links of the week this week either, for similar reasons to my recent lack of writing – I haven’t collated (m)any interesting links either, and I’m not sparing the time to find some just for the sake of making that post today.

 

This is the first of Bethke’s videos I remember seeing, and possibly part of the inspiration of his book:

Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus || Spoken Word || Jefferson Bethke

Sex, Marriage, & Fairytales || Spoken Word ||  Jefferson Bethke

Counterfeit Gods || Spoken Word || Jefferson Bethke

Are you blessed? Do you have any fine wine? “Let’s bless them all until we get fershnickered!”

Forgive a little Mel Brooks-style hyperbole. Looking at alcohol in the Old Testament is kinda fun when you get into it. Mostly because apart from prohibitions, warnings and Noah getting wasted (did that happen in the movie?), we (I?) don’t often hear much about what the Old Testament has to say about booze. And He has a lot to say. 

Seems it’s a bit of a bigger picture than something to avoid…

Who is God? What is He like?

Yesterday I wrote about a sermon I heard recently that has been impacting how I read my Bible. Today we’ll go on with the second resource that’s been inspiring my reading habits lately. Over at Desiring God, Noel Piper wrote an article about how she abandoned her usual Bible-in-a-Year plan for a more engaging way of reading, and I’ve fallen a little in love with it.
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Reading to listen

I have posted before Bible reading habits and plans. I’ve come across a couple of resources in the past few weeks that have shaped my current reading habits (you might call this flavour of the month, I tend to change things up frequently). Before we start, obviously primary considerations when reading the Bible devotionally are

a) What does the text mean? (draw your own mindmap from that concept involving historical and textual context, writer intent, original reader context, literary qualities, etc)

b) What might God be trying to say to me through it, or want me to get out of it?

Starting more specifically on the latter, we heard a sermon in church the other Sunday (entitled “Jesus’ Words” if you look for it) about

Work at Your Prayers!

My only reservation about this is that a prayer be genuine in the pray-er’s attitude toward God, rather than performance. Other than that, thought provoking.

A disciple's study

from Tim Challies

Praying, and especially praying in public, represents a challenge to most Christians. It represents a challenge to the one praying—a challenge to pray humbly and clearly before others. Too often it represents an even greater challenge to the ones who hear that prayer—a challenge to follow a too-long and too-rambling prayer interspersed with filler words like “I just…” and “Father God.” D. A. Carson provides some timely counsel in his book A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers. His solution is simple: Work at your prayers. Here is what he says:

If you are in any form of spiritual leadership, work at your public prayers. It does not matter whether the form of spiritual leadership you exercise is the teaching of a Sunday school class, pastoral ministry, small-group evangelism, or anything else: if at any point you pray in public as a leader…

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Lord, Keep Us Safe: The Misguided Prayer of Western Christians

What if we took a risk, or two? On the basis that our comfort, and even our lives are not over with our physical death, and that they are worth less than obedience to God, and the opportunity to serve others and tell them about Jesus?
“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose…”

Her Life, His Commission

Boat pic
“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”
– William G.T. Shedd

A few years back, a couple of young women I know volunteered to take a missions trip for which they were both well prepared and qualified. After some discussion by the deciding committee, they decided that it was “not safe” to send two women alone, so they didn’t get to go. Situations like this one leave me struggling with the question of whether we as Western Christians really trust God or not.

We all know that life is full of risk. Every day I get up and walk out my door, I risk getting in a car accident, being hit by a bus, being assaulted, or just having a brain aneurism and dying on the spot. These possibilities require no reckless action on my part, but are simply the dangers associated with living…

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