Know Your Friends, Pray for Your Enemies

man-thinking-wisdomThursday is for Thinking

Ran across this interesting quote from a Jewish scholar who taught at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. David Flusser (1917-2000) was the professor of Early Christianity and Judaism in the Second Temple period.

He was commenting in an editorial in the Jerusalem Post:

“I do not know who is the God in whose name Eichmann [the Nazi murder and one of the architects of Hitler's war on Jews] swore, but I am certain that it is neither the God of Israel nor the God of the Christian church. It should now become clear to the strongest Jewish opponents of Christianity that Christianity per se imposes limitations, and that the greatest crime against our people was not committed in the name of the Christian faith”.

Today in the West, the Judeo-Christian heritage is routinely disparaged and ridiculed and assumed to be obsolete by many or worse, as the central problem for which Western civilization should repent.  It is good to hear a voice of sanity. Flusser was a friend of Christians. Pray for those who would undermine the foundations of Western thought.

Protecting Your Ear from the Things that Will Destroy You

Tuesday is for Preparing the Preacher

I found an old journal today and this entry from 4-11-08:

“Help me to be like Charles Simeon who made it his practice ‘never to hear, or see, or know, what if heard, or seen, or known, would call for some distasteful response from me.’

philippians 4(8)Still a great guide for thoughts whether you are a preacher or not. Train your heart and your ears to follow the word of God in Philippians 4:8.

Whatever is true,
whatever is honorable,
whatever is just,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is commendable,
if there is any excellence,
if there is anything worthy of praise,
.        think about these things.

—Philippians 4:8

What Counsel Do You Give When You are Asked the Wrong Question?

Monday is for Discussion

Book of Acts (Sent)A pastor asks:  “How can I help my church increase their membership? It’s a small country Presbyterian church with mostly older members. Looking for ideas…”

First thing about this question: It’s the wrong question. Here’s a better one, “How can we make more disciples of Jesus?”

That said, once you have given some serious thought and prayer to that question, these might be some of the things you could begin to consider.

  1. Don’t worry about marketing and advertising.
  2. Be the church; don’t try to “portray the church.”
  3. Train everyone to proclaim the gospel clearly. Train them to talk to friends, neighbors and family.
  4. Get your people working life on life in applying the Scripture.
  5. Ask of your service: Are we doing anything that has nothing to do with the gospel and makes unbelievers and seekers of truth uncomfortable? Stop doing those things.
  6. Are we doing anything that makes unbelievers and seekers of truth feel comfortable and does not involve a compromise of the gospel? Keep doing that.
  7. Get more ‘knees on the ground” for the spiritual battle of reaching your community. A praying church is usually a growing church.
  8. Missionally, get the church on task in loving and serving their community.
  9. Consider partnering with another church in the community to reach the community. God blesses unity in the Church.
  10. Remove any spiritual impediments to growth starting with the sins of pride, disunity and unbelief in leadership.
  11. Remove structural impediments to growth (google Ed Stetzer on the topic.)

More could be said, but that’s all I have time for now.

Holding on to Brokenhearted-joy

Sunday Afternoon Musings

Psalm 34:18 (ESV)

18  The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
.           and saves the crushed in spirit.

Priceless truth to hold on to the midst of a sometimes brokenhearted-joy.

To Tremble at Holy Things

Friday is for Heart Songs

Read Psalm 114:1-8

Suggested by a Reading of Psalm 114
Meditating on Psalm 114

tree-cathedral_mainTo Tremble at Holy Things

A people, dirty

.              landless
.              homeless
.              unskilled
.              unsettled
.              rebellious
.              stubborn
.              oppressed
.              pursued
.              hungry
.              thirsty
.              doubting
.              faithless
.              sinful
.              prideful
.              fearful

But also, covenanted

.              promised
.              chosen
.              appointed
.              rescued
.              redeemed
.              loved

You made them, a sanctuary

.              a dwelling place
.              witnesses to a fleeing sea
.              a retreating river
.              weeping rocks
.              moving, burning, glowing mountains
.              a shining face
.              recipients of God-carved stone

The dumb and deaf earth
Awoke and trembled
At the sanctuary that moved above it
A sanctuary that You dwelled within.

Make my heart tremble at Your Holy presence today
Like the quaking ground under Jacob.

 

Go to Psalm 115

How Do You Resist Despair?

Thursday is for Discussion

Lord Foul's BaneRereading the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant and ran across this exchange between three characters in the novel. Thomas Covenant is conversing with another character, Mhoram, one of the Lord’s of The Land, and (my favorite character) a giant by the name of Saltheart Foamfollower:

Covenant:    “We have beauty, too. We call it ‘scenery.'”

Mhoram:     “‘Scenery,'” Mhoram echoed. “The word is
.                         strange to me–but I do not like
the
.                         sound.”

Covenant felt oddly shaken, as if he had just looked over his shoulder and found himself standing too close to a precipice.

Covenant:    “It means that beauty is something extra,”
.                       he rasped. “It’s nice, but we can live
.                       without it.”

Mhoram:     “Without?” Mhoram’s gaze glittered dangerously.

And behind him Foamfollower breathed in astonishment,

Foamfollower:   “Live without beauty? Ah, my friend! How do you resist despair?”

Covenant:   “I don’t think we do,” muttered Covenant.

Lord Foul’s Bane, Stephen R. Donaldson, p. 284 (Paperback edition)

“Resisting” is a significant theme in the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant but also in much of literature. Resisting sorrow, resisting change, resisting the relentless pursuit of time, resisting the downward pull of relational gravity, resisting despair.

The gospel, the glad news, is the Christian’s answer. 
The empty tomb is our hope and stay.
The demonstrated-love of the cross is our cry.
The promise of forgiveness,
The hope of the resurrection,
The invitation to eternal life,
The purpose of justice and righteousness,
The call to build a Kingdom that the gates of hell will not prevail against,
This is our answer;
This is our shield against the creeping onslaught of despair.

But our souls leak and we need to be reminded and to remind ourselves that Jesus is the Treasure in the Field

Babblement — the perfect word for so much of our culture

Tuesday is for Thinking

Found a new old word today. It has dropped out of use but we need to revive it for our time. 

BABBLEMENT (n.)

“Senseless prattle” or “unmeaning words,” according to Webster. 

Seems like a perfect word for most of what appears on the Evening News, most of what comes out of Washington and a lot of what comes out of the pulpits of America too.

“You’ve Changed” : : The Difference Gratitude Makes

Tuesday is for Reflection

Ann VoskampRereading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, an entire book exploring the “intentional embrace of a lifestyle of radical gratitude,” (from the backcover). This is a discipline that is not easy, but it is a discipline that transforms life, all of life and Ann is a good guide to what the process looks like. 

Read the book. Re-read it if you already have. And keep exploring the process. Let gratitude to the Father for all that we have in Christ and all that he gives us each day transform your heart for the glory of God and the joy of the world.

“You’ve changed.” She turns to me, and I turn to catch the words.

“I have?” She’s caught me off guard. I’m thick-tongued and the cheeks flame and I reach for the pitcher, to pour the cups full and distract from her catching me trying to take wing.

“Yes . . . you’ve changed.” Shelly sets her pot on a trivet, her eyes on me, and I can feel them and I just set out the glasses.

I don’t say it, but I am thinking she may be right and I had felt it for months, the maturing, the swelling, the something different that had begun to happen. But I had thought the re-creation was still embryonic, a bud of hope. I hadn’t thought it had fully bloomed. I hadn’t thought that anyone could see the light in the eyes.

“It’s that list you’ve been writing, isn’t it?” She clatters down bowls.

I concentrate on pouring the water steady into each empty cup.

A fly cuts the surface on one full glass. I can see it—the wounding of water.

“Yes . . .” There. A moment. And yes. “It’s The List.”

— Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, 43.

“The List” was a growing record of things for which Ann was thankful. Notebooks spread around the house to record the little and large, the unexpected and surprising evidences of God’s grace. Maybe starting your own list is part of a transforming pattern for your future. Here’s a link to some of the things on my growing list to prime the pump of your own thinking.

A Priority Ambition for the People of God

Sunday Musings

HarvestLuke 7:9 (ESV)

When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said,

“I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”

Questions:

  1. Is there anything about your faith that would cause God to “marvel”?
  2. Shouldn’t that be a priority ambition for the people of God?