We drove and did not stop till Maryland! (Photo post Tuesday)

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Faith and Unreason

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“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

—Hebrews 4:12

God’s Word is alive, life-giving, it’s sharp and true. It transcends time, culture, circumstance. It’s applicable today and forever. It reveals man’s heart, our motives, our sin. It demands a response, a call to action, a mandate to love, serve, share truth. Jesus came to earth, was among his people and they did not receive Him. They rejected the truth…Not much has changed. I often think about why Jesus was missed and i think it reflects more upon what the people wanted to see rather than who the Messiah really was. There is a passage in Luke that serves as a warning to me. They missed him! The religious sects missed the Messiah!  They wanted something else…to the point… that they… in fact…..and eventually….Killed the Messiah.

Ravi Zachariah,one of my favorite Christian apologist explains this passage so very well. These are his words from the book, ‘Jesus Among Other gods.’:

“There is another side. Jesus reminded his followers that the commitment of the will is a fickle thing when it comes up against the beckoning arms of God.  the tendency of the human heart is so defiant that every generation will find ways to challenge that which God proclaims. The point is critical in order to understand that whatever proof is offered at any time in history, we will always demand something else. In Luke 7:31-35, Jesus said:

‘To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like?  They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:

‘We played the pipe for you

 and you did not dance;

we sang a dirge,

    and you did not cry.

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’  The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’  But wisdom is proved right by all her children.’

By this Jesus powerfully exposed the bent of the human will. When John warned them of the severity of the law, they called him demon-posessed because they wanted more liberty. When Jesus came and mingled with the outcasts of society, they called Him a hedonist because they wanted a tighter reign over the law. But Jesus declared that wisdom reveals itself by what it produces. it does not take more than one look at our society to see the utter absence of wisdom., and it is because we understand neither law nor grace. To such a mind-set, faith will always be caricatured as a symptom of credulity. Jesus was not hesitant to call  their bluff, as He does ours.

But He turned the tables on them and reminded them that their faithlessness to what they knew to be true said more about their own character than it did about the evidence.

This, I believe, is the central component that is often missing from a discussion of faith. Yes, there is the component of content that speaks to the truth. Yes, there is the component of love that speaks to the blending of emotion and commitment. But there is also the component of honesty that speaks to the truthfulness or the integrity of the individual. It is here that the battle lines are publicly drawn. It is here that the real truth about reason is revealed.”

Prone to Wander

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Robert Robinson penned the words to this hymn at age 22 in the year 1757.

This is my favorite hymn:

“Come Thou Fount”

Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing your praise
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount I’m fixed upon it
The mount of thy redeeming blood 

Oh to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
Let your goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to thee
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart Lord,
Take and seal it
Seal it for thy courts above

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Prone to hear you and not heed it
Prone to scorn you in your love
Prone to wander
Prone to wander

Oh to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
Let your goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to thee
Jesus sought me while a stranger
Wandering from the heart of God
And He to rescue me from danger
Used his own precious blood

Mumford and Sons version of the German hymn:

 I love this song because it reveals my heart..Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.Prone to leave the God I love.Prone to hear you and not heed it.Prone to scorn you in your love.Prone to wander. I squander myself …..The desires of my heart are not trustworthy.Tune my heart to sing your praise.Bind my wandering heart to thee.

I am the prodigal son every time I search for unconditional love where it cannot be found. Unworthy and ever distracted, recognizing the counterfeit only when I am too far from home. Abused and spent I return home expecting to earn mercy from the father clearly undeserving ..and.. not expecting a celebration on my account!
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An Excerpt from The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming by Henri J. M. Nouwen

“At issue is the question: ‘To whom do I belong? To God or to the world?’ Many of my daily preoccupations suggest that I belong more to the world than to God. A little criticism makes me angry, and a little rejection makes me depressed. A little praise raises my spirits, and a little success excites me. It takes very little to raise me up or thrust me down. Often I am like a small boat on the ocean, completely at the mercy of its waves. All the time and energy I spend in keeping some kind of balance and preventing myself from being tipped over and drowning shows that my life is mostly a struggle for survival: not a holy struggle, but an anxious struggle resulting from the mistaken idea that it is the world that defines me.

Here the mystery of my life is unveiled. I am loved so much that I am left free to leave home. The blessing is there from the beginning. I have left it and keep on leaving it. But the Father is always looking for me with outstretched arms to receive me back and whisper again in my ear: ‘You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests.”

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I cannot tame my own wandering heart, Lord teether my wandering heart to thee.

Upon the Prodigal son’s arrival the older brother questions the father about his decision to welcome home his son home so freely when he had clearly wasted his life and his inheritance. The Father says, “But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” AMAZING GRACE!!!! I am humbled by the father’s reaction to his son who has come home…he has not humiliated him but has celebrated his return.

See (Luke 15: 11-32) For the parable of the prodigal son

 

Bonhoeffer: quotes

I’m currently reading the biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and it is mesmerizing! Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Bonhoeffer..(so far) :

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“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

“Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.”

“When all is said and done, the life of faith is nothing if not an unending struggle of the spirit with every available weapon against the flesh.”

“Jesus himself did not try to convert the two thieves on the cross; he waited until one of them turned to him.”

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

“Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than they love the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest and sacrificial. God hates this wishful dreaming because it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. Those who dream of this idolized community demand that it be fulfilled by God, by others and by themselves. They enter the community of Christians with their demands set up by their own law, and judge one another and God accordingly. It is not we who build. Christ builds the church. Whoever is mindful to build the church is surely well on the way to destroying it, for he will build a temple to idols without wishing or knowing it. We must confess he builds. We must proclaim, he builds. We must pray to him, and he will build. We do not know his plan. We cannot see whether he is building or pulling down. It may be that the times which by human standards are the times of collapse are for him the great times of construction. It may be that the times which from a human point are great times for the church are times when it’s pulled down. It is a great comfort which Jesus gives to his church. You confess, preach, bear witness to me, and I alone will build where it pleases me. Do not meddle in what is not your providence. Do what is given to you, and do it well, and you will have done enough…. Live together in the forgiveness of your sins. Forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts.”

“To be called to a life of extraordinary quality, to live up to it, and yet to be unconscious of it is indeed a narrow way. To confess and testify to the truth as it is in Jesus, and at the same time to love the enemies of that truth, his enemies and ours, and to love them with the infinite love of Jesus Christ, is indeed a narrow way. To believe the promise of Jesus that his followers shall possess the earth, and at the same time to face our enemies unarmed and defenceless, preferring to incur injustice rather than to do wrong ourselves, is indeed a narrow way. To see the weakness and wrong in others, and at the same time refrain from judging them; to deliver the gospel message without casting pearls before swine, is indeed a narrow way. The way is unutterably hard, and at every moment we are in danger of straying from it. If we regard this way as one we follow in obedience to an external command, if we are afraid of ourselves all the time, it is indeed an impossible way. But if we behold Jesus Christ going on before step by step, we shall not go astray.”“Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is his commission, his work. ‘The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared’ (Luther).”

“The Church is the Church only when it exists for others…not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men of every calling what it means to live for Christ, to exist for others.”“A God who let us prove his existence would be an idol”

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.”

“Where God tears great gaps we should not try to fill them with human words.”

“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God…..We must not…..assume that our schedule is our own to manage, but allow it to be arranged by God.”

“Earthly goods are given to be used, not to be collected. In the wilderness God gave Israel the manna every day, and they had no need to worry about food and drink. Indeed, if they kept any of the manna over until the next day, it went bad. In the same way, the disciple must receive his portion from God every day. If he stores it up as a permanent possession, he spoils not only the gift, but himself as well, for he sets his heart on accumulated wealth, and makes it a barrier between himself and God. Where our treasure is, there is our trust, our security, our consolation and our God. Hoarding is idolatry.”

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”

“How would you expect to find community while you intentionally withdraw from it at some point? The disobedient cannot believe; only the obedient believe.”

“We have been silent witnesses of evil deeds; we have been drenched by many storms; we have learnt the arts of equivocation and pretence; experience has made us suspicious of others and kept us from being truthful and open; intolerable conflicts have worn us down and even made us cynical. Are we still of any use? What we shall need is not geniuses, or cynics, or misanthropes, or clever tacticians, but plain, honest, and straightforward men. Will our inward power of resistance be strong enough, and our honesty with ourselves remorseless enough, for us to find our way back to simplicity and straightforwardness?”

“Being free means “being free for the other,” because the other has bound me to him. Only in relationship with the other am I free”

“Let him who cannot be alone beware of community… Let him who is not in community beware of being alone… Each by itself has profound perils and pitfalls. One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and the one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation and despair.”

“One act of obedience is worth a hundred sermons.”

“In the Christian community thankfulness is just what it is anywhere else in the Christian life. Only he who gives thanks for little things receives the big things. We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts He has in store for us, because we do not give thanks for daily gifts. We think we dare not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience, and love that has been given to us, and that we must constantly be looking forward eagerly for the highest good. Then we deplore the fact that we lack the deep certainty, the strong faith, and the rich experience that God has given to others, and we consider this lament to be pious. We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things? If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.”

“When He was challenged by Jesus to accept a life of voluntary poverty, the rich young man knew he was faced with the simple alternative of obedience or disobedience. When Levi was called from the receipt of custom and Peter from his nets, there was no doubt that Jesus meant business. Both of them were to leave everything and follow. Again, when Peter was called to walk on the rolling sea, he had to get up and risk his life. Only one thing was required in each case-to rely on Christ’s word, and cling to it as offering greater security than all the securities in the world.”