Jesus did not use parables to teach them about the cross, he spoke plainly. It was his life that would be the lesson, his experience that would be their teacher. The Way of the Cross is always so. It is clear and plain and needs no fancy words. It is a path which we must walk, not endlessly discuss. It is the dust of the road on the way to Jerusalem that is the aroma of real life. The question is…and always has been…will we follow?Read More
The Way of the Cross – Lenten Season 2018
“I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing……if you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15: 5,7,8 NIV).
When my daughter was 12 years old, she was full of curiosity. And she would ask very good questions too. But she didn’t always like the answers.
“Why is God hiding?” she would ask. “Why doesn’t he protect me from hurting myself. Doesn´t he love me?” “If God loves the whole world, why doesn’t he just get rid of hell and let everyone go to heaven?” Those were the good questions.
But she had other questions as well. “Who was Cain’s wife?” “Who created God?” and “What is heaven like?” Obviously, we had a lot of talks together coming home from school, walking in the park, sitting in my office.
Do you remember the book called The Secret by Rhonda Byrne that they also made a movie out of? It was really popular for a while and promoted what they called The Law of Attraction which claims that thinking positively about something can make it appear in your life. A dubious idea at best. It was clothed with some religious language (ask, believe, and receive) and fits well into the Prosperity Gospel that has swept through the American churches in recent years. It sold 20 million copies at least and was translated into more than 50 languages. Rhonda Byrne certainly attracted a lot of money and fame into her life.Read More
Frederick Buechner, in his book Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale, tells us that the world of the gospel is “a world of magic and mystery, of deep darkness and flickering starlight It is a world where terrible things happen and wonderful things too It is a world where goodness is pitted against evil, love against hate, order against chaos, in a great struggle where often it is hard to be sure who belongs to which side because appearances are endlessly deceptive. Yet for all its confusion and wildness, it is a world where the battle goes ultimately to the good, who live happily every after….That is the fairy tale of the Gospel with, of course, one crucial difference from all other fairy tales, which is that the claim made for it is that it is true, that it not only happened once upon a time but has kept on happening ever since and is happening still” (quoted in The Sacred Romance p. 46).Read More
We have been talking about the Sanctification Gap, that chasm between the holiness and perfect love of God as seen in His justice and mercy on the one hand, and the depths of our sin, our selfishness, our inability to love ourselves, much less God or anyone else on the other. That Sanctification Gap continues even after we have been justified by grace through the blood of Jesus Christ. In fact, precisely because it is a substitution, that it isn’t our righteousness, the gap exists because we are not made immediately perfect in love. Our Sanctification is progressive. But that gap between our Justification and our Sanctification also creates a credibility gap, both in our own eyes as well as in the eyes of other people. And so it should. It is a necessary part of our situation as Christians.Read More
This little story is making the rounds on the internet and on facebook. I love it. It’s a wonderful way to describe our situation as we live in darkness and grow and prepare for our delivery. It is very well done. But the metaphor isn’t perfect and I would like to improve it a little bit. Let’s talk about the umbilical cord….
So, the two babies are there in the womb but one has an umbilical cord and is fed by her mother but the other one is dead and withered in the womb (but still able to talk and discuss and “pretend” that it is alive when it is really quite dead). The metaphor is already starting to get ugly but it is closer to the truth.
Who knows how Hosea might have breached the subject of marriage to Gomer? You have to take into account the culture, the fact that he was known as a prophet of God, and the fact that she was a loose woman. Talk about a rebound. Apparently, she was married before and committed adultery and had children by her other lovers. The timeline isn’t all that clear. The storyline is a bit confusing but something strange was going on.
First of all, are you kidding me? God tells his prophet to go marry an adulterous woman who has children out of wedlock. Talk about the lowest of the low. The Pharisees gave Jesus a hard time for letting a prostitute wash his feet with anointing oil just before his death in Jerusalem. He should have known what kind of woman she was. Preposterous. Ridiculous. God told you to do what? God would never do that. I’m certain of it. Yeah, right.
I remember the early years of Bible College when I was surrounded by other young Christian students and we studied and prayed and discussed and argued to our heart’s content. We went on Mission trips together. We sang songs with our guitars, the Sound of Silence right along with Amazing Grace and Hallelujah. We ate pizza and watched movies but most of all we talked about the reality of God. It was great.
I come from a religious family in the Dutch Reformed tradition and discovered that I was good at public speaking in High School. I won all of Southwestern Ontario and was supposed to go to the Big Apple and speak at the United Nations for the North American Public Speaking Competition. But I didn’t go. I was already committed to a summer mission trip and in a burst of religious zeal, I decided that my priority should be the church. Not that I was a believer really. But I was convinced that I should become a Pastor since I had the gift of the gab.
When I was a young pastor, full of ideals, studying at a great seminary, wondering what the Lord had in store for me, I used to pray that God would show me where the fighting was the fiercest, the issues essential, where lives were being transformed, and put me right there in the middle of it. It took me a while to understand that all that came from arrogance and that I was woefully unprepared for ministry, that I was educated far beyond my obedience, that I was easy prey for the schemes of the Devil.Read More
In a couple of weeks on Palm Sunday, we will have a potluck fellowship dinner. Everybody brings a dish and a desert. Drinks are provided. We get together and chat for a while and call it fellowship. Fellowship is supposed to be another word for Spiritual Unity. Doesn’t sound very interesting but it is nice, I suppose.
We have been talking about the Way of the Cross – confession, repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation. Fellowship or Spiritual Unity is supposed to be the result of reconciliation.