Remembering God

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The first great commandment requires us to love God, which we do best through our awareness of his great love for us. Thomas Merton remarks, “The ‘remembering’ of God, of which we sing in the Psalms, is simply the discovery, in deep compunction of heart, that God remembers us.”

We remember God best by believing that we matter, personally and infinitely, to him. I must ask again and again for the faith to believe that God delights in me and desires to relate to me. For that reason as much as any, I study the Bible: not merely to master a work of great literature or to learn theology, but to let soak into my soul the inescapable message of God’s love and personal concern.

–Philip Yancey
Reaching for the Invisible God

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Jonah, the whale and the worm

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Within a few minutes of swallowing the prophet Jonah, the whale suffered a severe attack of acid indigestion, and it’s not hard to see why. Jonah had a disposition that was enough to curdle milk.

When God ordered him to go to Nineveh and tell them there to shape up and get saved, the expression on Jonah’s face was that of a man who has just gotten a whiff of trouble in his septic tank. In the first place, the Ninevites were foreigners and thus off his beat. In the second place, far from wanting to see them get saved, nothing would have pleased him more than to see them get what he thought they had coming to them.

It was as the result of a desperate attempt to get himself out of the assignment that he got himself swallowed by the whale instead; but the whale couldn’t stomach him for long, and in the end Jonah went ahead, and with a little more prodding from God, did what he’d been told. He hated every minute of it, however, and when the Ninevites succumbed to his eloquence and promised to shape up, he sat down under a leafy castor oil plant to shade him from the blistering sun and smouldered inwardly. It was an opening that God could not resist.

He caused the castor oil plant to shrivel up to the last leaf, and when Jonah got all upset at being back in the ghastly heat again, God pretended to misunderstand what was bugging him.

“Here you are, all upset out of pity for one small castor oil plant that has shriveled up,” he said, “so what’s wrong with having pity for this whole place that’s headed for Hell in a handcart if something’s not done about it?” (Jonah 4:10-11).

It is one of the rare instances in the Old Testament of God’s wry sense of humor, and it seems almost certain that Jonah didn’t fail to appreciate it.

–Frederick Buechner
Peculiar Treasures

Published in: on 02/03/2015 at 20:53  Leave a Comment  
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We must tell stories

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We must tell stories the way God does, stories in which a sister must float her little brother on a river with nothing but a basket between him and the crocodiles. Stories in which a king is a coward, and a shepherd boy steps forward to face the giant. Stories with fiery serpents and leviathans and sermons in whirlwinds.

Stories in which murderers are blinded on donkeys and become heroes. Stories with dens of lions and fiery furnaces and lone prophets laughing at kings and priests and demons. Stories with heads on platters. Stories with courage and crosses and redemption. Stories with resurrections.

―N. D. Wilson

Published in: on 01/30/2015 at 5:36  Leave a Comment  
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Water into wine

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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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Looking beyond

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The purpose of the Bible is that you may look through it and see Jesus Christ. Some people stop with the Bible. . . . But I say that the Bible is not a thing to be analyzed, criticized, outlined and examined, just for it’s own sake. That would be just like sitting in a room and writing a book about a window, without seeing the ocean with its waves curling up the beach or the way the lights and clouds play upon the water.

The Bible is not an end in itself
any more than a window
is an end in itself.

The window allows us to see the beauty that lies beyond. The Bible is the way to life in Jesus Christ.

–Donald G. Barnhouse
(1895 – 1960)

Image: David Miller

Lifelong journey

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To read the Bible for knowledge is tiresome. To read the Bible as a docudrama is boring. To read the Bible as a book of rules is deadening. But to read the Bible as a love letter from a Friend, and to meet that Friend in the text of Scripture, is to pack your bags for a lifelong journey.

–Leonard Sweet
Viral

Theological fitness

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The difficulty for the Calvinist is that he keeps running into Arminian verses, and similarly the Arminian is discomforted by those reoccurring Calvinist texts. Makes you wonder how all that stuff got into Holy Scripture. But the upside is this—it’s what stretches Bible students and keeps them active and physically fit. Paul recognized the benefits of keeping mobile when he wrote: theological acrobatics profiteth a little. There’s no rest for the wicked—nor for Biblical scholars. Just when you’ve got it all nailed down, one of those awkward verses crops up again. It appears God is much less interested in our tidy theological schemes that we are.

–J. O. Schulz

Image: Emile C. Wauters

Published in: on 08/16/2014 at 7:35  Leave a Comment  
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Getting his family back

Adam & Eve 7

In a nutshell,
the Bible from Genesis 3
to Revelation 22
tells the story of a God
reckless with desire
to get his family back.

–Philip Yancey

Trinity changes everything

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Knowing that our God, the Trinitarian God, is the true God changes everything and happily so. Only in a God who is triune would we expect to find creativity, generosity, diversity, relationality and so much more.

What kind of a Bible would this God give to us? It would be a gift, not a burden. It would probably be chock full of different kinds of writings from different authors in different cultures and different languages. It would reflect the glorious multi-coloured diversity and abundant generosity of a world created by this kind of God.

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I suppose we’d expect to find everything from engaging narrative to stirring poetry to rousing speeches and thrilling epic adventure and glimpses into the past and visions of the future. I think it would make you want to sing, to cry, to laugh, to celebrate, to contemplate, to marvel, to thrill, to share, to give, to live in response to all that is found there…

Only a Trinitarian God would give us a Book like that.

–Peter Mead

He still seeks

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As in paradise,
God walks in
the Holy Scriptures,
seeking man.

–St. Ambrose of Milan
(339 – 397)

Image: Lars van de Goor

Published in: on 11/12/2013 at 5:03  Leave a Comment  
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He still walks in the garden

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A loving Personality dominates the Bible, walking among the trees of the garden and breathing fragrance over every scene. Always a living Person is present, speaking, pleading, loving, working, and manifesting himself whenever and wherever his people have the receptivity necessary to receive the manifestation.

–A. W. Tozer
(1897-1963)

Image: Thomas Kinkade

Looking for a Person

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I do not approach
the Scripture looking
for principles to practice.
I approach the Scriptures
looking for a Person to know,
a Lord to worship, and
a King to yield to.

–Stephen Crosby

Getting into the story

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Stories are the most prominent biblical way of helping us see ourselves in “the God story,” which always gets around to the story of God making and saving us.

Stories, in contrast
to abstract statements of truth,
tease us into becoming participants
in what is being said.

We find ourselves involved in the action. We may start out as spectators or critics, but if the story is good (and the biblical stories are very good!), we find ourselves no longer just listening to but inhabiting the story.

Eugene Peterson

Published in: on 10/17/2013 at 14:01  Leave a Comment  
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Listening for His voice

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The Christian’s interest in Scripture
has always been in hearing God speak,
not in analyzing moral memos.

–Eugene Peterson

Powerful promises

A Biblical promise is a tightly-wrapped,
power packed, portable capsule of Scripture,
written by God and designed to meet a specific need
in your life at a specific time
and in a way that corresponds perfectly
to His all sufficient grace.

 

Published in: on 07/13/2011 at 20:01  Leave a Comment  
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In the hearts of men (and women)

Jesus shut within a book
Is hardly worth a passing look;
Jesus shut within a creed
Is a fruitless Lord indeed.
But Jesus in the hearts of men
Shows His tenderness again.

–Gordon Grooms     

Published in: on 07/05/2011 at 23:51  Leave a Comment  
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