Saturday, December 18, 2004

Kind of weird thoughts

"Eternal life as defined in the New Testament isn’t primarily about living forever, it’s about having a new kind of life, a new quality of life so distinct that those without it can, in a real sense, be called dead. It’s life lived the way we were made to function, a life of virtue, character and well being lived for the Lord Jesus." - J.P. Moreland

"It’s critical that we understand the nature of Jesus’ assertion that we only gain our lives when we lose them for His sake. Jesus isn’t commanding us to do anything. He’s simply describing reality. He’s accurately characterizing the way we’re made, telling us how we prosper (or perish) as image-bearers of God. His assertion is like saying “If you want to be fit, you’ve got to exercise.” This isn’t a recommendation; exercise isn’t one among many ways to get in shape. This is an accurate description of fitness. Being rooted in reality, it describes the path you have to take if you want to be fit.

"If you want to be a fit person, exercise isn’t optional; if you want to be a happy person, denying yourself for Christ isn’t optional. And this isn’t true simply for believers. It’s true for all of us, whether we believe it or not. As secular scholar Richard Gardner acknowledged, “Existence is a strange bargain. Life owes us little; we owe it everything. The only true happiness comes from squandering ourselves for a purpose.”3 If you want to flourish as a friend, you need to concentrate on others. You’ll be lonely if you spend all your time trying to convince people that you’re really cool, worthy of their focused attention. Similarly, if you want to flourish as a person, you must deny yourself for Christ’s sake. Only by taking this path — only by rejecting the contemporary notion of happiness — will you find true happiness." - J.P. Moreland

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Pretty Please by Brett Westervelt

I sometimes wonder why Jesus likes kids.

I’m hanging out at Borders trying to read and be contemplative, and there’s this young girl hanging out at Borders trying to be loud and annoying. I’m not sure exactly how old this girl is, maybe 6 or 10. In any case, she’s doing a much better job of ignoring what I’m trying to do here, than I am of ignoring whatever it is she’s doing.

First she’s walking around drinking an empty glass of milk and ice. Empty. Not empty as in suck-on-the-straw-a-little-harder-and-maybe-something-will-come-out, but empty as in nothing left to drink.

Next she went into question mode. Someone she knows named Vanessa just walked in. “Hey, Vanessa … What are you doing? ... Why? ... What is that? ... Why? ... Where are you going, Vanessa?”

Now she has a magazine and is sitting down at a table by mine. She’s somehow figured out how to make this really loud noise just by turning the pages. It kind of sounds like ripping off a band-aid, over and over and over. There’s no method to this madness, but definitely a devotion. Now she’s back to work on the still empty glass of ice, continuing to ignore my furrowed-brow looks. She just doesn’t get proper social protocol.

I’m pretty sure it’s not just this one. I know lots of other kids that do the same wrong-time, wrong-place things. They pick the most important part of the game to ask what a first down is. They spit-up/throw-up during the three minutes you’re holding them. They don’t realize that when you laugh or cry you’re supposed to have some semblance of a reason.

I could see why Jesus would like kids—in a Kids Say the Darndest Things sort of way. I just don’t get why He would say something like, “Let the Children come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” And even, “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all” (Mark 10:14,15).

I realized earlier today that I’ve hit a wall with prayer. At least the in the area of asking God to do things. I get bored with the monotony of asking over and over again. I get disappointed when my earnest requests don’t get quickly resolved. I find myself trusting more and more in God’s sovereignty and “fate” and see less of a point in actually asking Him to do things. Throw in my attempts to counterbalance books like The Prayer of Jabez, where prayer is sold more as a means for getting what you want than as a chance to have a conversation with the God of the universe, and my prayers are often a bunch of wishy-washy idle chatter. Hey God, how’s it going? It sure is a nice day today. Thanks for that …

Sure God’s not some big vending machine in the sky, giving me things if I have exact change and shake Him a bit. But there are important things in my life that I need to talk about with God if I want to really have relationship with Him. And these are things like how to help a friend who’s depressed or seeing how empty life can be for people at the University of Texas or my current dating status (single). These are all things I can’t honestly talk to God about without wanting them to change.

I often avoid praying about these things, because I’ve prayed about them 15 times already and I’m just not sure that number 16 will produce anything different. Other times I don’t ask God for things because I feel like that’s not the responsible adult thing to do; maybe I need to have more of my own initiative or maybe I just want the credit instead of the help.

This is where I think kids have it figured out. They don’t know how to just be realistic. Kids are okay with needing help with things. Not only that, but it also takes them a while to accept a no for an answer.

I think I know what it takes to be socially acceptable, and for some reason I’ve tried to be like that in my relationship with God—prim and proper. Forgetting that before Him I really am just a kid (no matter how old I may dress), in need of His loving help and grace, to the point that maybe I should be quicker and more persistent to ask for it. I’m not pretending to really understand prayer or what it does, but I think it probably involves being more kid-like, even if it annoys me.

[ ]


Do the gods of different nations
talk to each other?
Do the gods of Chinese cities
speak to the ancestors of the Japanese?
To the lords of Xibalba?
To Allah? Yahweh? Vishnu?
Is there some annual get-together
where they compare each other's worshippers?
Mine will bow their faces to the floor
and trace woodgrain lines for me, says one.
Mine will sacrifice animals, says another.
Mine will kill anyone who insults me, says a third.
Here is the question I think of most often:
Are there any who can honestly boast,
My worshippers obey my good laws,
and treat each other kindly,
and live simple generous lives?

1"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[1] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5"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. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17This is my command: Love each other.

20"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24"Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25"Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."

What is revival

“Today the word Revival has largely lost its real meaning. Our present generation, never having witnessed the mighty movings of God in nationwide spiritual awakening such as has taken place in past generations, has little conception of the magnitude of such a “visitation”. “Heaven-sent revival is not religious entertainment, where crowds gather to hear outstanding preachers and musical programs: neither is it the result of sensational advertising – in a God-sent revival you don’t spend money on advertising; people come because Revival is there. Revival is an “awareness of God” that grips the whole community, and the roadside. The tavern, as well as the church, become the places where men find Christ. Here is the vast difference between our modern evangelistic campaigns and true revival. In the former, hundreds may be brought to a knowledge of Christ and churches experience seasons of blessings, but as far as the community is concerned little impact is made... In revival, the Spirit of God, like a cleansing flame, sweeps through the community, divine conviction grips people everywhere; the strongholds of the devil tremble, and many close their doors, while multitudes turn to Christ.”

All Decays Begin in the Closet

QUOTE: "All decays begin in the [prayer] closet; no heart thrives without much secret converse with God, and nothing will make amends for the want of it." - Berridge.

JOHN G. LAKE (-1920):

Reaching for the Bible, he opened to the book of Acts, ran his finger down over the second page, that portion where the Spirit of God came down from heaven. Proceeding through the Book of Acts to its great outstanding revelations and phenomena, he said. . .

"This is Pentecost as God gave it through the heart of Jesus. STRIVE for this. CONTEND for this. Teach the people to PRAY FOR THIS. For this, and this alone, will meet the necessity of the human heart, and this alone will have the power to overcome the forces of darkness.' When the Angel was departing he said, 'Pray. Pray. Pray. Teach the people to pray. Prayer and prayer alone, much prayer, persistent prayer, is the door of entrance into the heart of God."