Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Author's intent

While reading the Preface to Farrar's The Life of Christ I ran across this gem:
I have never wholly lost sight of the fact that I had to work with no higher object than that thousands, who have even fewer opportunities than myself, might be the better enabled to read that one Book, beside which even the best and profoundest treatises are nothing better than poor and stammering fragments of imperfect commentary.
If only every author took such a view.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Poverty is More Than Lack of Resources

"What is poverty?" is the question Sr. Saul of Armonia asked our group as our team met in a house outside Mexico City appropriately named Casa Blanca for its beautiful white walls. Most of the responses the group came up with had to do with lack of money or resources. And certainly that is part of the story of poverty. But what Sr. Saul opened our eyes to is that one of poverty's major factors is isolation.

To illustrate this let me tell you about my Monday morning this week. As usual I was driving my two oldest children to school along with two other friends with whom we carpool. About 5 minutes from the school my phone rings and it is a good friend whose children happen to go to the same school. I joyfully answered the phone sharing our customary greeting. Ricky wasted no time in telling me that his van had broken down as he was driving his kids to school. Could I help him because he had all the car seats and though they have a second car his wife was stuck at home with no way to transport the younger children to pick him up. I dropped off my kids at their school and then gladly drove across town to help my friend in need.

But what would he have done if he didn't have friends to call? It's something that the middle class takes for granted- community. I don't know what would have happened but I can imagine some of the domino effects. His kids miss school, he shows up ridiculously late to work if at all and faces the consequences, his wife is stuck at the house all day with no way to transport kids if they get sick, etc... It's easy to see that relationships hold us up when life takes a bad turn. But if you don't have relationships you can count on things spiral downhill very fast.

We learned lots of other things about poverty while in Mexico that go way beyond lack of resources. What are some of the primary lessons you've learned?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

John Stott's trinitarian morning prayer

Apparently it was John Stott's practice to begin every morning at 5am, swinging his legs over the side of the bed and praying this prayer:
"Good morning, heavenly Father; good morning, Lord Jesus; good morning, Holy Spirit. Heavenly Father, I worship you as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Lord Jesus, I worship you, Savior and Lord of the world. Holy Spirit, I worship you, Sanctifier of the people of God. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Heavenly Father, I pray that I may live this day in your presence and please you more and more. Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you. Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, three persons in one God, have mercy upon me. Amen."
You can find the reference and an article on John Stott for his 80th birthday (10 years ago) here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mission or Worship?

I asked a question via Twitter today:

Would you say that the primary purpose for Christians on earth is mission or worship?

The responses were very interesting. As I expected, most responses were something to the effect of "mission is worship". On one hand I agree with that. In fact Romans 12 which I consider to be a cornerstone passage for my life teaches the same thing. (my Rom. 12:1 paraphrase: In response to who God is, give your very life as an act of worship.) Worship is expressed much more clearly through lives of mission than singing ever could.

Yet, in spite of all that agreement I think I have to say that worship is the primary calling. We were created for worship, not for mission. Don't get me wrong, I do believe mission is essential. To use someone else's illustration, I would say that worship and mission are like two blades of a pair of scissors. Either without the other isn't really doing anything. But still, I must say that worship is primary. Because mission is only needed where authentic worship has been traded for false worship. And that is the crux of the matter. Mission as evangelism is needed where others need to hear about the one true God and what he has done on our behalf. Mission as justice is needed where humanity has tried to "play God" in someone's life resulting in oppression, exploitation, and injustice.

So in my mind, worship is our primary purpose but it finds its true expression in mission as we seek to respond to God's self-revelation with our lives and not just our lips.

What is your take on the relationship between mission and worship?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

allegory vs. parable

One of the most common mistakes in understanding the Bible is to confuse teaching through parable and teaching through allegory as being the same. Jesus actually used both though he more commonly taught using parables.

The key difference:
  • allegory - the similitude is intended to be drawn at many points
  • parable - an everyday story told to illustrate one main lesson
examples of each:
  • allegory - the Good Shepherd in John 10, the Vine and the Branches in John 15, even the Sower in Mark 4 (Jesus interprets the many points of allegory)
  • parable - the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 (chiefly intended to illustrate the definition of loving your neighbor, not what the innkeeper represents, who the Samaritan represents)
-thanks to John Stott for good definitions found in Understanding the Bible

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What To Do With Over Ripe Bananas


If you have bananas that get a little too ripe for your taste here's an idea of what you can do with them. Cut them into slices a quarter-inch thick and spread them out on wax paper side by side. Then put it them in the freezer and the next day you have a perfect frozen treat.

Once frozen, the mushy texture problem is gone and they are sweeter and tastier. Sometimes I will eat a few slices to satisfy my craving for something cold and sweet after dinner.

(I got this tip from my dad who puts the frozen slices in his cereal to add fruit and make the milk colder.)

Can you intentionally grow in humility?

Yesterday I ran across this list of five suggestions to grow in humility. They are from former (continuing?) Archbishop of Cantebury Michael Ramsey of the Anglican Church.

  1. Thank God for anything and everything. Do it often and continually. Thankfulness is a soil which pride can not easily grow in.
  2. Confess your sins to God. Criticize yourself in God's presence.
  3. Be ready to accept humiliations. They can hurt terribly but they will help you be humble.
  4. Do not worry about status. The only status that matters is your relationship and proximity to God.
  5. Use your sense of humor. Laugh about things and the absurdity of life. Be able to be serious but not solemn or you run the risk of taking yourself seriously.

I think that's a pretty good list. Humility is a slippery virtue, you can't really pursue it directly. I also just started reading Brian Sander's Elusive: The Pursuit of Jesus and Humility. More thoughts on that latter.

I have always thought of humility as a accurate perception of who we are. It doesn't mean we pretend we're bad at things in which we're actually good. But when we perceive ourselves in relation to God we can not but see our smallness.