Keep On Looking

Christ 9J copyIf you want to know who God is, look at Jesus. If you want to know what it means to be human, look at Jesus. If you want to know what love is, look at Jesus. If you want to know what grief is, look at Jesus. And go on looking until you’re not just a spectator, but you’re actually part of the drama which has him as the central character.

–N. T. Wright

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Delightful and Disturbing

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The gospel is delightful and disturbing, simple and profound, free and costly, affirming and unsettling, tender and tough, beautiful and offensive, winsome and shocking, comforting and frightening, liberating and binding, wonderful and dangerous, marvelous and mysterious. Leonard Sweet put it well: “Truth is not found in the mediocrity of the middle but in the paradoxical harmony of a double-edged sword.”

–Jurgen O. Schulz

Eternal Vibrations

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Every action of our lives
touches on some chord
that will vibrate in eternity.

–Edwin Hubbel Chapin
(1814-1880)

When Heaven Stoops

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Welcome! all wonders in one sight!
Eternity shut in a span!
Summer in winter, day in night!
Heaven in earth, and God in man!
Great little One, whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth to heaven, stoops Heaven to earth!

–Richard Crashaw
(1613-1649)

The Humanity of God

Giovanni copyWrinkled, Crinkled
Red-skinned Squirmer
Famished Squealer,
Manger Wetter.
Gabriel salutes you!
Michael bows!
We here in Bethlehem
Bed you with cows.
We here in Bethlehem
Bed you with cows.

–Stephen Mahan

Love Must Be Embodied

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The whole concept of God taking human shape had never made much sense to me. That was because I realized one wonderful day, it was so simple. For people with bodies, important things like love have to be embodied. That’s all. God had to be embodied, or else people with bodies would never in a trillion years understand about love.

–Jane Vonnegut Yarmolinsky,
Angels Without Wings

Artwork:
Matthias Stomer,
Adoration of the Infant Jesus

Crazy Shepherds

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What to make of distant shouts
of hearty shepherds on the hills of Bethlehem
who after setting foot in a rustic stable
went on their way piercing the night air
with jubilant cries of ecstatic revelry?
Was it strong drink that produced
this riotous elation or had these
unruly herdsmen come across
something to really shout about?

Published in: on 12/14/2017 at 4:02  Leave a Comment  
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Totally Unexplainable

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Don’t try to explain the Incarnation to me! It is further from being explainable than the furthest star in the furthest galaxy. It is love, God’s limitless love enfleshing that love into the form of a human being, Jesus, the Christ, fully human and fully divine Don’t try to explain the Incarnation to me! It is further from being explainable than the furthest star in the furthest galaxy. It is love, God’s limitless love enfleshing that love into the form of a human being, Jesus, the Christ, fully human and fully divine.

–Madeleine L’Engle

Provocative Joy

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Rejoice in the Lord.
A highly provocative act
of sabotage, defiant toward…
principalities and powers,
that we all can perpetrate today.

–Ray Ortlund‏

Published in: on 12/08/2017 at 15:10  Leave a Comment  
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Mercy and Morality

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There is a tendency to think that the ardent freeness of grace should not be diminished or clouded by ethical demands. This is contrary to the logic of the gospel of Christ. The most striking thing about our Lord, as Lewis comments, is the union of great ferocity with extreme tenderness. We should not separate mercy and morality, or disconnect justification from sanctification. Both need to be stressed side by side in creative tension. It has been pointed out that “the essence of orthodoxy is paradoxy.” We cannot overstate the vast abundance of grace or the strong demands it makes upon us.

We are now called to wear the regal robe that was purchased with blood and custom-made by God. It is our high privilege. We can relax within the luxurious folds of this magnificent garment. When our conduct is out of character for a member of heaven’s kingdom, we must not throw off the royal robe. We should throw off the unrighteous behavior. We are learning to live in a new way. We are learning to enjoy the gift that was fashioned for us before the foundation of the world.

–Jurgen Schulz
What Jesus Wished People Knew About God

Artwork:
Guercino, Return of the Prodigal Son

Next to the Gospel

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To have peace and love
in a marriage is a gift
that is next to the knowledge
of the gospel.

–Martin Luther

Published in: on 11/06/2017 at 4:33  Leave a Comment  
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A Powerful Secret

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Compelled by Grace

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It is forgiveness that sets a man working for God. He does not work in order to be forgiven, but because he has been forgiven… An unforgiven man cannot work. He has not the will, nor the power, nor the liberty. He is in chains. Israel in Egypt could not serve Jehovah. “Let my people go, that they may serve Me” was God’s message to Pharaoh; first liberty, then service.” It is forgiveness that sets a man working for God. He does not work in order to be forgiven, but because he has been forgiven… An unforgiven man cannot work. He has not the will, nor the power, nor the liberty. He is in chains. Israel in Egypt could not serve Jehovah. “Let my people go, that they may serve Me” was God’s message to Pharaoh; first liberty, then service.”

A forgiven man is the true worker; the true lawkeeper. He can, he will, he must work for God. He has come into contact with that part of God’s character which warms his heart. Forgiving love constrains him. He cannot but work for Him who has removed his sins as far as the east is from the west.

―Horatius Bonar,
Holiness and Peace

Artwork by Vincent Van Gogh

Bewildering Grace

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In Christ, we are adopted by God, 
we are chosen without deserving,
loved without earning,
and saved without effort.

–Nick Lannon

Failures that Flourish

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Published in: on 10/16/2017 at 10:58  Leave a Comment  
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Unlikely Love

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The more unlikely it is
that He could love us,
the more His love is commended.
The less we could do,
the more He did for us.

–Thomas Goodwin
(1600 – 1680)

Published in: on 09/29/2017 at 15:18  Leave a Comment  
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The Good News about Wrath

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It is no mistake to say that the love of God and the wrath of God amount to the same thing, described from different points of view. Both constitute an emphatic “No!” to that which endangers His creation. God’s evil-eradicating, death-destroying wrath is indispensable to the well-being of the universe. It is not a counterpoint to His love but a vital expression of it.

Croatian theologian Miroslav Volf comments: “Though I used to complain about the indecency of the idea of God’s wrath, I came to think that I would have to rebel against a God who wasn’t wrathful at the sight of the world’s evil. God isn’t wrathful in spite of being love. God is wrathful because God is love.”

“To be truly good one has to be
outraged by evil and implacably
hostile to injustice.”
–Rebecca M. Pippert

The wrath of God is His firm opposition to all that is crooked, broken, oppressive, unjust, and evil. He loves people too much to allow them to be destroyed by sin. His deep hatred of sin is a reflection of the greatness of His love. He will go to any length, pay any price, and make any sacrifice to free people from this toxic poison of the soul.

This is the unmistakable message of the cross. The horrific death of Christ at Calvary reveals the intensity of God’s purpose to annihilate sin and rescue sinners. The Biblical record says that Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).

In his article “Prayer: Rebellion against the Status Quo,” David Wells contends that we have sadly lost our anger, but fortunately God has not lost His. “The wrath of God is His opposition to what is wrong … [it] seeks the triumph of truth and the banishment of Evil.” It is God declaring: “No, not in my universe!”

It would be appalling if the Divine Lord flew into a rage without warning. But it would be equally appalling if He never got angry. The evil of this world is damnable, sickening, horrendous. Someone needs to put a stop to it.

Someone will.

The wrath of God turns out to be very good news. This love-inspired hostility to all things hateful and harmful gives hope to a world afflicted by the curse of sin.

“It is not evil that will have the last word,
but good; not sorrow, but joy;
not hate, but love.”
–R. J. Campbell

This is cause indeed for celebration.

–Jurgen O. Schulz
What Jesus Wished People Knew About God

God-Indwelt Jars

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Wonderfully Attached

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Meeting God

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Absolute Ideals and Absolute Grace

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The Sermon on the Mount proves that before God we all stand on level ground: murders and temper-throwers, adulterers and lusters, thieves and coveters. We are all desperate, and that is in fact the only state appropriate to a human being who wants to know God. Having fallen from the absolute Ideal, we have nowhere to land but in the safety net of absolute grace.

–Philip Yancey,
The Jesus I Never Knew

Uniqueness of the Gospel

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We see that the uniqueness
of the Gospel is that when He who is
self-giving love takes over a human life,
the one who is taken over himself
becomes an other-lover,
and not just blessed but a blesser,
not just healed but a healer,
not just loved but a lover.

–Norman P. Grubb

An Uphill Climb

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You want to grow in virtue, to serve God, to love Christ? Well, you will grow in and attain to these things if you will make them a slow and sure, an utterly real, a mountain step-plod and ascent, willing to have to camp for weeks or months in spiritual desolation, darkness and emptiness at different stages in your march and growth. All demand for constant light . . . all the attempt at eliminating or minimizing the cross and trial, is so much soft folly and puerile trifling.

― Friedrich von Hügel

Leaning Back on God

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Prayer is not a way of making use of God; prayer is a way of offering ourselves to God in order that He should be able to make use of us. It may be that one of our great faults in prayer is that we talk too much and listen too little. When prayer is at its highest we wait in silence for God’s voice to us; we linger in His presence for His peace and His power to flow over us and around us; we lean back in His everlasting arms and feel the serenity of perfect security in Him.

–William Barclay,
The Plain Man’s Book of Prayers

A Strong Hope

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Published in: on 07/30/2017 at 18:52  Leave a Comment  
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Dangerous Heights

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Stronger Cords

Praying

Grace binds you with
far stronger cords than
the cords of duty or obligation
can bind you.

–E. Stanley Jones

The Gladdest News of All

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Christianity tells us we are part of a story that has an Author. It tells us He is good—indisputably, overwhelmingly, irresistibly good— and He is the source of everything that is beautiful and worthwhile and true. He created us to play a role in His story and placed within our hearts a deep longing to know Him. Christianity warns us there is a villain and dangers and distortions and perversions of the truth. It declares that tragedy, evil, and chaos have been defeated in Jesus Christ. It calls us to believe that the gospel is not only the greatest truth—but the most wonderful one of all. It invites us to become the beloved sons and daughters of the Writer of the story.

Could there be anything more astounding than that?

–J. O. Schulz
What Jesus Wished People Knew About God

Preposterous Grace

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Grace is the word that sums up the heart-grabbing essence of the gospel. And the illustration that stands head and shoulders above the rest is found in Jesus’ prodigal parable.

The rascal who did everything possible to break the heart of his father deserves flogging—but the red carpet is rolled out for him. Extravagant privileges are heaped upon him in what looks like a lottery win. The father can’t find enough gifts to shower on the boy.

Admittedly, it’s unwarranted. It’s ludicrous.

The kid is clobbered by kindness. It’s the scandalous peripety of grace.

Grace is divine prodigality gone wild. It is ridiculous generosity, reckless open-handedness, audacious extravagance. It is goodness on steroids.

Grace shows flagrant disregard for moderation, fairness, or bookkeeping. It dishes out in outrageous excess to those who don’t have it together and have nothing to give in return.

Michael Spencer put it like this: “Real grace is simply inexplicable, inappropriate, out of the box, out of bounds, offensive, excessive, too much, given to the wrong people and all those things.”

Grace completely abolishes any idea of merit. It floods the undeserving with blessing. Grace is love shown to the unlovely, favor bestowed upon the unworthy. It is indiscriminating, uncoerced, and delightfully gratuitous.

It doesn’t keep score.

–Jurgen Schulz
What Jesus Wished People Knew About God

 

Trustworthy

Why we trust

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