Water into wine

wedding at cana

For truly, before Jesus,
the scripture was water,
but after Jesus
it has become
wine for us.

–Origen of Alexandria
(182-254)

Published in: on 11/29/2014 at 18:50  Leave a Comment  
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Challenging Caesar

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In every worship service, the Christian ekklesia is renewed in her unique story and language, her unique political experience and vocation. Every worship service is a challenge to Caesar, because every Lord’s Day we bow to a Man on the throne of heaven, to whom even great Caesar must bow. O’Donovan claims that all political order rests on a people’s homage to authority, which is to say, on an act of worship. Every Lord’s Day, the Church is reconstituted as a polity whose obedience is owed to Christ, and we are taught to name Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords.

―Peter J. Leithart

Grace upon grace

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“From his fullness we have all received,
grace upon grace” (John 1:16).

The achievements of the Saviour, resulting from His becoming man, are of such kind and number, that if one should wish to enumerate them, he may be compared to men who gaze at the expanse of the sea and wish to count its waves.  For as one cannot take in the whole of the waves with his eyes, for those which are coming on baffle the sense of him that attempts it; so for him that would take in all the achievements of Christ in the body, it is impossible to take in the whole, even by reckoning them up, as those which go beyond his thought are more than those he thinks he has taken in.

–St. Athanasius
(296 – 373)

Image: Tim Curtis

Grace and Truth

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Never did word and work so blend in harmony as they did in him. They blended like the words and music of a song. He taught men, and this words had the ring of reality about them. Others quoted authorities; he taught with authority of his own insight. Others came seeking truth; he came proclaiming it. Truth gushed forth from his soul like a fountain from a hillside… and men listened to these words as if they were hearing some long-lost chord, something that belonged to them, that belonged to the very structure and make-up of their being. They felt that this was the soul’s homeland.

–E. Stanley Jones
The Christ of Every Road

The magnificent defeat

Christ, victorious

He compelled their dark achievements to subserve His end, not theirs. They nailed Him to the tree, not knowing that by that very act they were bringing the world to His feet.

They gave Him a cross,
not guessing that
He would make it
a throne.

They flung Him outside the gates to die, not knowing that in that very moment they were lifting up all the gates of the universe, to let the King come in. They thought to root out His doctrines, not understanding that they were implanting imperishably in the hearts of men the very name they intended to destroy. They thought they had defeated God with His back to the wall, pinned and helpless and defeated: they did not know that it was God Himself who had tracked them down. He did not conquer in spite of the dark mystery of evil. He conquered through it.

James S. Stewart
(1896–1990)

Published in: on 06/24/2014 at 19:09  Leave a Comment  
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The Light Giver

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Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.”

If anyone has any light,
it comes from Him.
If anyone finds truth,
it comes from Him.
If anyone possesses wisdom,
it comes from Him.
If anyone encounters beauty,
it comes from Him.
If anyone experiences goodness,
it comes from Him.

— J.O.S.

Image: Lars van de Goor

Published in: on 06/23/2014 at 8:32  Leave a Comment  
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Losing your faith—finding Jesus

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Sometimes you have to lose your faith to find Jesus.

Two travellers on their way to Emmaus had a collection of beliefs. They were confident about their doctrinal positions, secure in their theological convictions. It was all so Scriptural.

Everything looked so promising.

When suddenly the whole thing collapsed.

Their convictions fell apart at the seams when their Messiah didn’t set up his kingdom as expected. He got himself crucified.

Not exactly a Grand Finale.

It all ended in disaster.

And now with hopes dashed, they were going back home. Faith was gone and despair had taken its place. It was all over.

And that’s when they met Jesus.

The Jesus who breaks out of sealed tombs and overcomes invincible enemies. The Jesus who surprises, shocks and astounds. The Jesus who overthrows our preconceived ideas. The Jesus whose ways are bigger, deeper and richer than ours. The Jesus who shows up where we least expect him.

The Jesus who brings hope to troubled hearts.

The Jesus who still meets bewildered people on Emmaus roads.

–Jurgen Schulz

One clear message

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Everything Jesus said
and did and suffered
is nothing else but a chain
of pointers that keep saying
one thing over again:
“The Father is
seeking you.”

–Helmut Thielicke

Image: Emil Nolde

Published in: on 02/13/2014 at 7:36  Leave a Comment  
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The shocking affirmation

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Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside of the world, who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.

–C. S. Lewis
Mere Christianity

Published in: on 12/27/2013 at 4:26  Leave a Comment  
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Truth, Goodness & God

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All other teachers have pointed beyond themselves to truth. Jesus pointed to Himself and said: “I am the truth.” And somehow or other we believe it; for if we could sit down and try to imagine a perfect illustration of abstract truth translated into life and action, we could not think for the life of us of a better illustration than Jesus of Nazareth.

A man lived two thousand years ago; and now when I think of truth, I do not add truth to truth to get Truth—I think of Jesus. When I say Truth, I think of Jesus. When I say Goodness, I think of Jesus. And when I say God, I think of Jesus. If I don’t, I miss Truth; I miss Goodness; I miss God.

–E. Stanley Jones
Mastery

More than you think

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Truth is more important,
freedom is more complex
and Jesus is more liberating
than you think.

–Tim Keller

Image: Brett Maurer

Published in: on 11/29/2013 at 14:17  Leave a Comment  
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Relying on grace

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True spirituality
consists in living
moment to moment
by the grace of
Jesus Christ.

–Francis Schaeffer
(1912 – 1984)

The Good Wine

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No one really cares that it was on the third day
and there were six stone waterpots able to hold
twenty or thirty gallons each. Those are simply
details the beloved apostle used to tip the occasion
toward its toast, toward the one I AM statement
the sober commentators have always missed.

Only after a few gleaming cups at Cana would
guests be honest enough to hear among all the
revelry what the son of Mary actually meant:

I AM the good wine, kept until now.
Now is the earth’s privileged season.
Now is the beginning of my pouring out.

–John Blase

Compelling beauty

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We are compelled and intrigued to follow Jesus simply because we cannot take our eyes off of Him…

It is the beauty of Christ
that compels us.

Something about the love of God in Christ, where people can’t help but be healed, where injustice can’t help but be exposed, where forgiveness and reconciliation can’t help but happen, where anger subsides, where jealousy dies, where we truly see one another as distinct and unique expressions of God, where war doesn’t make sense, where poverty is impossible.

–Scott Savage

Full and sufficient

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All the good things that can be reckoned up here below have only a finite and limited goodness. Some can clothe but cannot feed; others can nourish but cannot secure; others adorn but cannot advance; all do serve but none do satisfy. They are like a beggar’s coat made up of many pieces, not all enough either to beautify or defend. But Christ is full and sufficient for all His people: righteousness to cover all their sins, plenty enough to supply all their wants, grace enough to subdue all their lusts, wisdom enough to vanquish all their enemies, virtue enough to cure all their diseases, living waters to feed them.

He is a garment of righteousness
to advise them;
a Captain to defend them;
a Prince to rule;
a Prophet to teach;
a Priest to make
atonement for them.

[He is] a Husband to protect; a Root to quicken; a Head to guide; a Treasure to enrich; a Sun to enlighten; and a Fountain to cleanse; so that as the one ocean hath more waters than all the rivers of the world, and one sun more light than all the luminaries in heaven, so one Christ is more to a poor soul than if it had all the world a thousand times over.

–John Spencer

On the Rock

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Believe God’s love
and power more
than you believe
your own feelings
and experiences.
Your rock is Christ,
and it is not the rock
that ebbs and flows
but the sea.

–Samuel Rutherford
(1600-1661)

A cure for insomnia

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To be perfectly candid, there are few things that are as dull and boring in life as Christianity without the living, breathing, radiant, triumphant Christ. It’s a first-degree snoozer. If you could bottle it, you would have the cure for insomnia.

–Leonard Sweet
–Frank Viola
Jesus Manifesto

Incomparable goodness

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“The Word became flesh” . . . His words and his deeds blended like the words and music of a song. He was so truthful that He was truth, so loving that He was love, so good that He was goodness, so morally beautiful that He was beauty, so living that He was life, so godlike that he was God.

–E. Stanley Jones

He never forgot who He was

 

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“This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17, NJKV).

These were the words of God Himself, and though only a handful, they were the most important words that Jesus would ever hear. These words were spoken before the oppressed and diseased were healed. They were spoken before He preached the Sermon on the Mount. They were spoken before He turned water into win or walked on water . . .

The trajectory of Jesus’ life and
(in a real sense) the fate of the world
hung on those few words.

They were not the words of a Father celebrating the good things His Son had done, because hadn’t really done anything yet. Even though Jesus was perfect, it wasn’t His perfection that brought the Father such delight. It was His very existence.

The language of God’s passion litters the pages of the Old Testament – the word beloved is scattered through the stories of my human lives. But now, for the first time in human history, a man had come who really believed that He was the beloved of God, one who would always remember and would make every decision of His life based on the truth of those words.

Jesus was like us in many ways. Scripture says He was “in all points tempted as we are.” But of all the ways He was different from us, perhaps this is the most crucial one: Jesus never forgot who He was.

–Jonathan Martin
Prototype

Satisfied and wanting more

Waterfall cave

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water that I shall give him will never suffer thirst any more. The water that I shall give him will be an inner spring always welling up for eternal life” (John 4:14 NEB).

Everyone who drinks this water, the waters of the world, “will be thirsty again.” The waters of this world – sex, money, pleasure, fame – have the doom of thirst upon them. You get them and then you know that they are not what you really want. “But whoever drinks the water that I shall give him will never suffer thirst any more.”

“Never suffer thirst”  – 
that is literally true.
For the inner being and Christ
are made for each other,
and when you find him you find yourself.
The soul cries “This is it,”
and you never thirst again.

But a strange thing happens: “The water that I shall give him will be an inner spring always welling up for eternal life.” The gift, “the water that I shall give,” will become “an inner spring,” become an inner spontaneity. The gift creates spontaneity. That is a miracle, for gifts usually create dependence and weakness. This creates independence and strength, “an inner spring.” Another strange thing happens: The person who drinks of the water which Jesus gives “will never suffer thirst anymore” – he will be forever satisfied, and yet that water becomes “an inner spring always welling up for eternal life.” That satisfaction becomes not a dissatisfaction, but an unsatisfaction for more; it becomes something “always welling up for eternal life,” always crying for more of this eternal life. A paradox, but a blessed paradox. I had what I wanted and I wanted more.

–E. Stanley Jones
A Song of Ascents

What is God like?

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If God isn’t like
Jesus Christ,
He ought to be.


–Lord Byron
(1788 – 1824)

The fundamental problem

waterfall Tangle_Creek_Falls,_Jasper_National_Park

I am persuaded that all of your problems
are conceived and born in the sinful belief
that something or someone other than Jesus Christ
can quench the thirst of our souls.

–C. Samuel Storms

Every knee, every tongue

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I confess and profess
that every knee shall bow
and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is lord,
including the amputees,
the deaf and the dumb.

-Richard Moszumanski

Foretaste of the future

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Jesus’ miracles are not just
a challenge to our minds,
but a promise to our hearts,
that the world we all want is coming.

–Timothy Keller

Impossible to nail down

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We can never nail him down,
not even if the nails we use
are real ones and the thing
we nail him to is a cross.

–Frederick Buechner
The Magnificent Defeat

Published in: on 04/04/2013 at 3:35  Comments (2)  
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The music behind all things

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The spotlight of heaven and earth
never leaves Christ. He is the melody,
the harmony, the rhythm, the tempo,
and the music behind all things.
The heavens and the earth
sing His song and play His tune.

–Leonard Sweet, Frank Viola
Jesus Manifesto

When perfection became human

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Jesus rectifies nothing, he recalls no word that he ever spoke, retraces no step that he ever took, undoes no act that he ever did, no prayer for forgiveness was ever on his lips and no tear of penitence upon his cheek, he never once said, “I am sorry.” He taught his disciples the prayer, “Our Father . . . forgive us our trespasses,” but he never prayed that prayer. He said, “If ye then being evil,” but he left himself out of it. His last word was not a prayer for restoration or acceptance, but, “It is finished”… Christ is the Sinless exception to our humanity.

–E. Stanley Jones
Christ at the Round Table

A God who stoops

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I search in vain through non-Christian systems for one authentic note of the self-giving, serving God. True, there is service as a royal dispenser of favors and benefits; but this is deeper, for here is service by a Servant.

He did not merely bend over to hand out,
he bent over to get under.

He stooped under the poverty and the toil, the sin and the shame, the troubles and the toil—under the very lives of fallen men, and when there was nothing left to get under, he got under the cross and bore that for them.

–E. Stanley Jones
The Christ of Every Road

No secret buttons

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The answer, the way home, is, as the Bible insists, faith in Jesus Christ. There are no secret buttons to push, no magical elixirs to take, no special potions, no chants to recite or charms to handle.

There are no decoder rings
or esoteric theological classes to take
and no mechanical principles
to apply to our lives.

It is not a matter of church membership, water baptism or being religious. The answer is faith—and faith means unconfusion, seeing clearly, discovering and knowing reality in Christ, embracing it, acknowledging it, loving it— responding to Jesus Christ with a serious and hearty and continuous “Amen!”

–Baxter Kruger
(emphasis added)

Faith’s object

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The object of faith
is not the teaching
but the Teacher.

–Søren Kierkegaard
(1813 – 1855)

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