An Unshakeable Kingdom

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The world’s ways of responding to the intimations of decay is to engage equally in idiot hopes and idiot despair. On the one hand some new policy or discovery is confidently expected to put everything right: a new fuel, a new drug, detente, world government. On the other, some disaster is as confidently expected to prove our undoing. Capitalism will break down. Fuel will run out. Plutonium will lay us low. Atomic waste will kill us off. Overpopulation will suffocate us, or alternatively a declining birth rate will put us more surely at the mercy of our enemies.

In Christian terms, such hopes and fears are equally beside the point. As Christians we know that here we have no continuing city, that crowns roll in the dust and every earthly kingdom must sometime flounder, whereas we acknowledge a king men did not crown and cannot dethrone as we are citizens of a city of God they did not build and cannot destroy.

–Malcolm Muggeridge

A Steadfast Hope

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We pray for God to be merciful in our distress.
We weep with those who weep.
We suffer with those who are suffering.
We use wisdom and take necessary precautions.
But we also lift up our heads in confidence.
We have a hope that neither death nor life,
nor viruses nor sagging economies can touch.
We are not promised that we will survive
the coronavirus, but we are promised that
we will survive something far worse, the curse
that falls on those who don’t know God.
And we can’t look into the future and predict
what will happen next on the world stage.
Still, we as Christians have an anchor.
Our God is a mighty fortress.

– Tom Schreiner

Published in: on 05/02/2020 at 20:11  Leave a Comment  
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Safe Arrival

A Strong Hope

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“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul…”
(Heb. 6:19)

Hope is more than feeling.
Hope is more than experience.
Hope is more than foresight.
Hope is a command.
Obeying it means life, survival,
endurance, standing up to life until
death is swallowed up in victory.

–Juergen Moltmann

Published in: on 02/10/2020 at 13:41  Leave a Comment  
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He Does It Well

Enjoying_Freedom_3rd_by_Jo copyHe that will not believe in Christ must see to it how he can get along without him. As for you and me, we cannot. We need someone who will lift and hold us up when we are alive and who will lay his hand beneath our heads when we must die, and this he can do abundantly according to what is written about him, and we know of nobody whom we’d rather have do it.

– Matthias Claudius

Published in: on 09/23/2019 at 20:30  Leave a Comment  
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Patience

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Patience with others is love,
Patience with self is hope,
Patience with God is faith.

– Adel Bestavros

Published in: on 01/01/2019 at 9:35  Leave a Comment  
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Living In Hope

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“According to his great mercy,
he has caused us to be born again
to a living hope…”
–1 Peter 1:3

Hope is more than feeling.
Hope is more than experience.
Hope is more than foresight.
Hope is a command.
Obeying it means life,
survival, endurance,
standing up to life until death
is swallowed up in victory.

–Jürgen Moltmann

Published in: on 12/31/2018 at 17:21  Leave a Comment  
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He Will Finish What He Started

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Published in: on 02/18/2018 at 3:29  Leave a Comment  
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A Powerful Secret

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A Strong Hope

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Published in: on 07/30/2017 at 18:52  Leave a Comment  
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A Living Hope

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In his great mercy he has given us
new birth into a living hope (1 Pet. 1:3).

Hope is more than feeling.
Hope is more than experience.
Hope is more than foresight.
Hope is a command.
Obeying it means life,
survival, endurance,
standing up to life until death
is swallowed up in victory.

–Jürgen Moltmann

Published in: on 09/12/2016 at 19:49  Leave a Comment  
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Good things ahead

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Published in: on 01/01/2016 at 17:01  Leave a Comment  
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We plant seeds

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It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view. The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts; it is beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise than is the Lord’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us. No sermon says all that should be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the Church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything. That is what we are about.

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We plant seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted knowing they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that affects far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very, very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and to do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the Master Builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are the prophets of a future that is not our own.

–Oscar Romero

Things bad, good and best

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Our bad things
turn out for good.
Our good things
can never be lost.
And the best things
are yet to come.

–Jonathan Edwards
(1703–1758)

Published in: on 09/02/2015 at 4:38  Leave a Comment  
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The Dance Begins

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Now is the shining fabric of our day
Turn open, flung apart, rent wide by love.
Never again the tight, enclosing sky,
The blue bowl or the star-illumined tent.
We are laid open to infinity,
For Easter love has burst His tomb and ours.
Now nothing shelters us from God’s desire‚
Not flesh, not sky, not stars, not even sin.
Now glory waits so He can enter in.
Now does the dance begin.

–Elizabeth Rooney

Aim at Heaven

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Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is.

If you read history you will find
that the Christians who did most
for the present world were just those
who thought most of the next.

The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. […] Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.

–C. S. Lewis
Mere Christianity

Brokenness, hope and joy

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Brokenness is realizing
Jesus is all we have.
Hope is realizing
He is all we need.
Joy is realizing
He is all we want.

–Larry Crabb

Published in: on 03/02/2015 at 17:09  Leave a Comment  
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New life breaking through

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The whole of the Sermon [Matt 5-7] is framed within Jesus’s announcement that what his fellow Jews had longed for over many generations was now at last coming to pass – but that new kingdom didn’t look like they had thought it would. Indeed, in some ways it went in exactly the other direction. No violence, no hatred of enemies, no anxious protection of land and property against the pagan hordes. In short, no frantic intensification of the ancestral codes of life.

Rather, a glad and unworried trust in the creator God, whose kingdom is now at last starting to arrive, leading to a glad and generous heart toward other people, even those who are technically “enemies.” Faith, hope, and love: here they are again. They are the language of life, the sign in the present of green shoots growing through the concrete of this sad old world, the indication that the creator God is on the move, and that Jesus’s hearers and followers can be part of what he’s now doing.

― N. T. Wright

Not alone

424926_Tree-Lined-AvenueI know:
there is someone
waiting for me,
who will not
give up on me,
who goes ahead of me,
who lifts me up,
someone to whom
I am important.

–Jürgen Moltmann

Hope, faith and love

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Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime;
Therefore, we are saved by HOPE.

Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense
in any immediate context of history;
Therefore, we are saved by FAITH.

Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone.
Therefore, we are saved by LOVE.

No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint
of our friend or foe as from our own;
Therefore, we are saved by the final form of love
which is forgiveness.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

Published in: on 01/02/2015 at 3:02  Leave a Comment  
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The transforming event

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We look back on history, and what do we see? Empires rising and falling;  and counter-revolutions succeeding one another; wealth accumulating and wealth dispersed; one nation dominant and then another. As Shakespeare’s King Lear puts it, “the rise and fall of great ones that ebb and flow with the moon…” Can this really be what life is about, as the media insist? This interminable soap opera going from century to century . . . from era to era, whose old discarded sets and props litter the earth? Surely not.

 Was it to provide a location
for so repetitive and ribald a performance
that the universe was created
and man came into existence?

I can’t believe it. If this were all, then the cynics, the hedonists, and the suicides would be right. The most we can hope for from life is some passing amusement, some gratification of our senses and death. But it’s not all.

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Thanks to the great mercy and marvel of the Incarnation, the cosmic scene is resolved into a human drama. God reaches down to become a Man and Man reaches up to relate himself to God. Time looks into eternity and eternity into time, making now always, and always now. Everything is transformed by the sublime drama of the Incarnation…

–Malcolm Muggeridge
The True Crisis of Our Time

Image: Thomas Cole (1836)

Only one hope

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There is
no hope at all
except for
the hope of the
incarnation.

-St. Augustine

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When the singing began

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The song of the angels
to sighing humanity
is the beginning
of the infinite mystery
of the Incarnate God.
From this
all light is streaming,
all songs are coming,
all hope is flaming.

–G. Campbell Morgan
(1863–1945)

Photo credit:
The Albin Polasek Museum

Not the end of the story

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The Resurrection means
that when the worst thing
that could possibly happen
does happen, it is not 
the end of the story.
It is the beginning
of the Real Story.

–J.O. Schulz

Published in: on 04/21/2014 at 5:29  Leave a Comment  
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The basis for hope

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The ultimate reason
for our hope is not
to be found at all in what
we want, wish for and wait for;
the ultimate reason is that we . . .
are wanted and wished for
and waited for.

–Jürgen Moltmann

Image: Adam Firth

Published in: on 12/04/2013 at 3:47  Leave a Comment  
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The coming joy

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While other worldviews
lead us to sit in the midst of life’s joys,
foreseeing the coming sorrows,
Christianity empowers its people to sit
in the midst of this world’s sorrows,
tasting the coming joy.

–Tim Keller

Published in: on 10/01/2013 at 5:03  Leave a Comment  
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Known, accepted and cherished

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To believe in this Jesus means that we believe ourselves to be known, accepted and cherished by the Father Himself. And what happens to us and in us when we encounter such Divine acceptance? What happens in us when we believe ourselves to be at-home with the Father? Are we plunged into bondage? Are we overwhelmed with fear and anxiety? Are we turned into religious androids? Do we become workaholics, materialists, sexual addicts, murderers, gossips? Are we enslaved to the crowd?

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No. We find ourselves released, set free from the very things that enslaved us. We find a new freedom from the tyranny of work and greed and lust, a new freedom from the need for the approval of peers. We find ourselves at peace and playing golf in the kingdom, filled with joy and hope, free to look into our daughters’ souls and share life with them, free to rest, free to love, free to be who we are. We find ourselves flourishing.

–Baxter Kruger
Home

Artwork: Thomas Kinkade

The heart of every virtue

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If love is the soul of Christian existence, it must be at the heart of every other Christian virtue. Thus, for example, justice without love is legalism; faith without love is ideology; hope without love is self-centeredness; forgiveness without love is self-abasement; fortitude without love is recklessness; generosity without love is extravagance; care without love is mere duty; fidelity without love is servitude.

Every virtue is an expression of love.

No virtue is really a virtue unless it is permeated, or informed, by love.

–Richard P. McBrien

Longing for Home

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Maybe at the heart
of all our traveling
is the dream of someday,
somehow, getting Home.

–Frederick Buechner

Image by AJ Gonfiantini

It will end well

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[T]he God who came in history and comes daily in mystery will one day come in glory. God is saying in Jesus that in the end everything will be all right. Nothing can harm you permanently, no suffering is irrevocable, no loss is lasting, no defeat is more than transitory, no disappointment is conclusive. Jesus did not deny the reality of suffering, discouragement, disappointment, frustration, and death; he simply stated that the Kingdom of God would conquer all of these horrors, that the Father’s love is so prodigal that no evil could possibly resist it.

–Brennan Manning

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