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Yearly Archives: 2007

Metaphor for revival

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Revolution is . . . .

Jean-Paul Sartre said, “Revolution is seeing each other a lot.”

The power of a cohesive church. Acts 2:42-47.

Quoted in Peter Collier and David Horowitz, Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts about the Sixties, page 80. Amazing book.

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New Years Eve partying?

Flannery O’Connor described our times as “an age that has domesticated despair and learned to live with it happily.”

Pain management.

Flannery O’Connor, “Novelist and Believer,” in Mystery and Manners, page 159.

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Truth in a fraudulent world

Malcolm Muggeridge went to Stalinist Russia in 1932 as a journalist for the Manchester Guardian. He had to submit his reports to a government censor before they could be sent back to Britain for publication. One day the censor looked his story over, shook his head and said, “You can’t say that, because it’s true.” Muggeridge commented, “It seemed like a basic twentieth-century text.”

See Malcolm Muggeridge, Chronicles of Wasted Time: The Green Stick, page 223.

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All you stand to lose is your damnation

“By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day — and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it.” Revelation 21:24-27a

In October Jani and I were in Beijing. One evening we went out for dinner at the 300-year old home of a Chinese prince, now a restaurant. The menu offered, among other dishes, deer afterbirth. With that exception, we loved it all. Traditional Chinese dress, dance, food, music. I thought of John’s vision of the holy city where we’ll live with God forever, this passage in chapter 21, and I thought, “All this human fascination here in this restaurant — a preview of coming attractions. Modernity will not succeed in grinding these glories of human creation into indistinguishable gray mush, these glories which the Lord Jesus wired into us in the beginning. The redeemed will bring into the holy city the glory and honor of their nations. The languages and literatures, the music and the dances, the sports and the jokes — all the charming, impressive, venerable and hilarious creations of man, but now purified and consecrated to the Lord Jesus Christ, who will rule over us all with great joy.

Streaming through the gates of the New Jerusalem I see a Scottish …

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The fullness of Christ

Paul sees maturity as growing up “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). To rise to such grandeur, we are not helped by a diminished view of Christ. We need to see his fullness again and again, Sunday after Sunday.

On August 18, 1955, Carl Henry wrote Billy Graham a letter full of the wisdom and courage we need in our generation. The issue at hand was the formation of a new magazine, though the relevance of his outlook is far broader:

“I have carried with me into and through the night the burden of the new magazine, Christianity Today. There has come to me the growing conviction that, at its present level of editorial projection, it carries, if not a compromise of principle, at least a sufficiently perilous strategy as to render its ultimate effectiveness insecure and uncertain, and enough of a disposition to introduce a sturdy theology only by degrees as to give me grave doubts that it offers me justification for stepping out of my present theological responsibilities. I have no personal reputation for bitterness; my friends have included men in all theological brackets. But in evangelistic and missionary thrust, I have but one uncompromisable zeal — that Christ be known in His total claim upon the life. At the beginning of our century, the question raised by the sponsors of that fine series “The Fundamentals” was, Have we told the whole truth? We seem …

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Submitting to one another

“. . . submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).

At First Presbyterian Church, Augusta, Georgia, in the 1830’s, Judge William Tracey Gould led a movement in the church to buy an organ. This was a change, since most Presbyterians still sang without instruments. The innovation was opposed by some in a congregational meeting. But the majority decided for it anyway, and Judge Gould was appointed to raise the money for the new organ. One day the Judge ran into Mr. Robert Campbell on the street. Campbell, who had opposed the organ, asked the Judge why he hadn’t called on him for a donation. “Because, Mr. Campbell, I knew you did not wish to have the organ.” “That makes no difference,” said Mr. Campbell; “when the majority of the members of the church have decided the matter, it is my duty to put aside personal feeling and assist as well as I may.”

Well done, Mr. Campbell. You showed how all of us, in all our churches, can revere Christ together.

The account appears in David B. Calhoun, Cloud of Witnesses: The Story of First Presbyterian Church, Augusta, Georgia, 1804-2004, pages 41-42.

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Tears as worship

Somewhere years ago — I can’t remember the specifics — John Piper pointed out something in Acts 20:19 that I had never noticed before. Paul explains how he served the Lord: “. . . serving the Lord . . . with tears . . . .”

“Serving the Lord with tears.” Amazing.

The life in Christ, though wonderful, sometimes becomes tearful as well. But the Lord Jesus receives every tear as service to himself. Let that realization become a divine kiss on every tear-stained cheek.

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Merry Christmas

“In the incarnation of God we do not suppose that he undergoes any debasement, but we believe that the nature of man is exalted.” Anselm, Why God Became Man, chapter VIII

We thank you, Lord.

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"But that’s just your interpretation"

Anybody ever raise that objection when you’re explaining the gospel? “But what you’re getting from the Bible — it’s just your interpretation. Why should I or anyone else believe that?”

This objection aims to dismiss your truth-claims as overrated. It’s a strategy for leveling out all assertions as no more than mere personal opinions: “You say to-may-to, I say to-mah-to.”

Here are some things to keep in mind.

One, stay focused on what C. S. Lewis called “mere Christianity” — the core truths of the gospel that are super-clear in the Bible. Avoid pet doctrines and denominational nuances. Your unbelieving friend might be throwing this objection out there because you really are advocating just a personal hunch.

Two, validate the objection, then neutralize it. “Sure, there’s interpretation in what I’m saying. But no one can know anything without interpreting it, without running it through the sieve of personal understanding. It’s like the sunlight shining through a stained-glass window. The colors show up, but the light is still real and the sun is really out there. So okay, you’re getting the gospel through me, and I’m not very good at this. Big deal. The point is, it isn’t JUST my interpretation. There is truth in what I’m saying.”

Three, make the truth personal, and offer it personally to your friend. “I always have to watch myself, to minimize the distortion-factor in my thinking about Christ. So, thank you for …

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