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God is an Inexhaustible Fountain of Love

May 23, 2015 | Trevin Wax

Rushing_Water_BW_by_coldasylumGod is the fountain of love, as the sun is the fountain of light. And therefore the glorious presence of God in heaven fills heaven with love, as the sun, placed in the midst of the visible heavens in a clear day, fills the world with light.

The apostle tells us that “God is love”; and therefore, seeing he is an infinite being, it follows that he is an infinite fountain of love.

Seeing he is an all-sufficient being, it follows that he is a full and overflowing, an inexhaustible fountain of love.

And in that he is an unchangeable and eternal being, he is an unchangeable and eternal fountain of love.

There, even in heaven, dwells the God from whom every stream of holy love, yea, every drop that is, or ever was, proceeds. There dwells God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit, united as one, in infinitely dear, and incomprehensible, and mutual and eternal love…

And there this glorious fountain forever flows forth in streams, yea, in rivers of love and delight, and these rivers swell, as it were, to an ocean of love, in which the souls of the ransomed may bathe with the sweetest enjoyment, and their hearts, as it were, be deluged with love.

– Jonathan Edwards, Charity and its Fruits, 327-328.

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Know Your Southern Baptists: Jason Keith Allen

May 22, 2015 | Trevin Wax

Jason Keith AllenName: Jason Keith Allen

Why you’ve heard of him: He has served as a local church pastor, a seminary professor, and now a seminary president.

Position: Allen is the president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO.

Previous: Most recently, he was the vice president for Institutional Advancement at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and executive director of the Southern Seminary Foundation, in addition to time spent in other academic positions and as a pastor.

Education: Allen holds a Bachelor of Science from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., as well as Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from Southern.

Why he’s important: He was elected by the Midwestern Board of Trustees as the seminary’s fifth president in 2012, becoming the youngest seminary president in the Southern Baptist Convention, and one of the youngest presidents in higher education in America. Previously, he served as the vice president for Institutional Advancement at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and executive director of the Southern Seminary Foundation.

Before coming to Midwestern, Allen served as a member of Southern Seminary’s Executive Cabinet since January 2006. He had been vice president of Institutional Advancement since 2009, and executive assistant to the president the four previous years. He had also served on Southern’s faculty since 2007, teaching courses in personal spiritual disciplines, pastoral ministry, leadership and preaching.

Recently, he has led Midwestern to start the well-received site, For the Church, where he serves as editor-in-chief. The site, which has regular content from leading evangelical thinkers and writers, “exists to engage, encourage, and equip the Church with gospel-centered resources that are pastoral, practical, and devotional.” Midwestern is also home to the Spurgeon Center, which seeks to preserve the personal library of Charles Haddon Spurgeon and foster a deeper appreciation of his life, legacy, theology, and preaching.

Notable Quotes:

The greatest challenge for this generation is to hold firm to the authority of scriptures in the face of a culture that, by the day, is rejecting it more.

We need a generation of ministers bold in the Gospel and bold in the scriptures, regardless of the social cost they may pay.

Christianity is more than a set of sentiments.

The faithfulness and fruitfulness of your ministry are the two biblical metrics that ultimately matter.

Institutional convictions and mission are often lost, but seldom regained.

Others in the “Know Your Southern Baptists” Series:

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Running from a Bad Church Situation May Hinder Your Spiritual Growth

May 21, 2015 | Trevin Wax

running-for-the-doorJim and Sandra were longtime members at Christ Church. They gave generously — of their time, their talents, and their financial resources. Christ Church was known for being evangelistic and putting a priority on God’s Word. And Jim and Sandra were fulfilled and thriving there.

But the day came when the pastor let Jim and Sandra down. A series of bad decisions critically wounded their confidence in their leader’s wisdom. They were hurt, confused, and disillusioned. They began to toy with the idea of going to one of the other strong churches in town.

When Jim and Sandra (not their real names) asked me about leaving their church, I said, “Not so fast.” Since then, I’ve counseled a number of couples and individuals in similar situations. And whenever the issue at hand does not concern biblical fidelity or theological compromise, I usually give the same caution about leaving a church: “Not so fast.”

In a culture of consumerist expectations and values, even people in strong, Word-centered, gospel-proclaiming churches can think of church loyalty in terms of payment and receipt. “We pay our dues and expect a certain return” is the unspoken mindset. So, when things get difficult, reasons to leave begin multiplying: “I’m not being fed here.” “I’m not on the same page with the leadership right now.” “I’m not being useful here. Perhaps I could serve better if I were somewhere else.” The list goes on.

It’s true that there are plenty of Christians whose lives don’t resemble Christ’s. There are pastors who abuse their authority or lead poorly. There are churches that implement changes quickly, without the consent of key leaders, which then breeds disunity and quarrels. Leadership fumbles, personality conflicts, relationship breeches — they all exist in the church. That’s why, for many churchgoers, the temptation is strong to seek refuge and peace in another church across town.

But what if the choice to leave a difficult church situation will actually short-circuit your formation as a Christian? What if your desire for a better congregation will stunt your spiritual growth? Does God use uncomfortable church situations as part of His process of sanctifying us?

Whether your church situation is terrific or terrible right now, it’s the gospel that should direct and shape your decision to leave or stay in a church. Circumstances aren’t what matter most. Covenantal commitment to the body of Christ is what counts. And our commitments must be grounded in God’s unflagging commitment to us because of Jesus Christ’s work in our behalf.

But you don’t understand. The people in my church are really messed up.” True. But so are you. So am I. We are all sinners, saved only by the grace of a merciful God. We are all being slowly transformed into the image of Christ, and one way that God forms us into the image of His Son is to place us in hard situations where “loving one another” seems unnatural and costly.

If Christ remains committed to us, in spite of our continual failings, why should we not remain committed to Christ’s bride? In a difficult church situation, what looks more like Jesus: to hop to an easier church situation or to stick with a local congregation through the dark days?

Many people think their church’s problems are an obstacle standing in the way of their spiritual development. Usually, the opposite is true. It’s their commitment to their church, in spite of its problems, that is making them more like Jesus.

I’m not being fed here.” Perhaps God is challenging you about your tastes and preferences.

I’m not on the same page with the leadership right now.” Perhaps God is teaching you the virtue of willing submission, even when it doesn’t come naturally.

I’m not being useful here.” Perhaps God is removing certain activities from your life, so that your focus turns from what you are doing for God to a greater emphasis on the relationship you should be cultivating with God.

The grace of God is transformative. We are predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s Son. The heartbeat of every Christian should be to look more like Jesus. Just as the facial expressions and physical characteristics of two spouses begin to reflect one another after many years of marriage, we should look more like Jesus every day. But this transformation will not occur unless we stay committed to Christ’s people, challenging and encouraging others as they challenge and encourage us.

Discipleship is like a rock in a rock tumbler. The rock is shined the more it bumps up against all the other rocks and water. Over time, the process turns a rock into a gem. It’s easy to want out of a “rocky” church situation. The process of refinement is never pleasant, after all. But it is in our bumping up against the difficult trials in a church body that we are refined into beautiful gems that reflect the glory of our King.

Jim and Sandra thought long and hard about switching churches. And they stayed. Five years later, they are thankful they did. Their ministries are thriving. The difficulties have passed. And in the twinkling of their eyes, I can see flashes of Christlikeness that weren’t there before the storm. I’m glad they stayed.

Originally published by Tabletalk, April 2012.

And the follow-up: When You Should Flee Your Church

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10 Books to Read This Summer

May 20, 2015 | Trevin Wax

10 Books to Read This Summer

Friends and readers, I am devoting the rest of this month to rest and refreshment with my family. I’ve scheduled blog posts and tweets. Most of the posts have been carefully selected from the archives, posts I hope still have something of value today.

Before I unplug, I want to offer a few reading recommendations. If you’re looking to pack some books into your beach bag or load up your Kindle for some summer reading, here are some titles to consider. (See last year’s list for more options.) All of these are excellent, and you won’t be disappointed.

MEMOIR

Nothing to Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes

“I don’t believe in God, but I miss him.” With that line, Julian Barnes launches a book of reflections on life, religion, and morality as the shadow of death slowly closes in. The title sums up the heart of the work. In one sense, the atheist has nothing to be frightened of, since death is merely the ceasing of existence. But in another sense, the atheist has nothing to be frightened of. The extinguishing of life forever and joining eternal nothingness is a somewhat frightening prospect, although not enough to scare Barnes into religious fairytales.

Honest about his wrestlings, committed to his naturalism, yet envious of the hope he sees in his believing friends, Barnes reflects on death in a way that is most compelling.

In the Land of Believers by Gina Welch

Welch faked a conversion experience, got baptized, and spent two years at Thomas Road Baptist Church. She kept a detailed journal of her experience, which she has now turned into a book that chronicles her journey into evangelical America.

See my full review here and my interview with Gina here.

HISTORY

In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides.

If you’re looking to cool off this summer, then look no further than this book. This is the story of explorer, George Washington De Long’s attempt to navigate through a wall of ice in hopes of discovering the open polar sea at the top of the world. The journey is told with attention to the details left by surviving crew members, the diaries of De Long, and the scientific theories at their disposal at the time. ”Grand” and “terrible” are great adjectives for this voyage. Hands down, one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.

The President’s Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternityby Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy

History, politics, biography, and intrigue. They all come together to tell the story of how presidents of the United States have been influenced by their ongoing relationships with their predecessors.

CLASSICS

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Every now and then I read a book that I believe should be on every Christian thinker’s bookshelf. Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov is one such book. It is not an exaggeration to say that The Brothers Karamazov might possibly be one of the greatest novels of all time. Pevear and Volokhonsky’s translation is, undoubtedly, the easiest to read in English.

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis

I recently reread the Screwtape Letters a third time, and I found the experience is still fresh. The parts I remembered from my previous reading weren’t the parts that stood out to me this time around. Maybe it’s because I’m the one who has changed over time, not ScrewtapeReturning to this book years later is like returning as a different person, with different tastes and different temptations, so that the spiritual insights here, delivered through devishly clever fiction, strike me in different places. Here is a passage that stood out: The Safest Road to Hell.

JUSTICE AND RACE RELATIONS

Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America by Michael Emerson and Christian Smith

What these sociologists discovered was a genuine desire among evangelicals to end racial division and inequality, but also a theological worldview that hinders our ability to perceive systemic injustice, or offer solutions that go beyond cross-cultural friendships. This book dates back to 2001, but the insights are still valid and directly related to today’s debates. If you’ve been wondering what all the fuss is about regarding race relations in the U.S. and the church today, I’d recommend this book for a sociological analysis and The Warmth of Other Suns for an empathetic look at the African-American migration during the Jim Crow era.

Keep Your Head Up: America’s New Black Christian Leaders, Social Consciousness, and the Cosby Conversation

Anthony Bradley has brought together a group of pastors, leaders, and scholars to talk about the state of black families, the role of hip-hop, the Cosby/Poussaint discussion, and the effects of the prosperity gospel.

THEOLOGY

The Gospel in a Pluralist Society by Lesslie Newbigin

A landmark work of missiology that continues to influence the task of evangelism, world mission, and Christianity’s role in society. Newbigin was a missionary to India who, upon arriving back in the UK, recognized the need for Christians in England to see their own context as a mission field.

The Great Theologians: A Brief Guide by Gerald McDermott

From Origen to Von Balthasar, McDermott takes us on a journey through time, showing us the passion that drives each theologian, as well as the particular insights they are remembered for. There’s just enough biography here to get a good glimpse of the man, and just enough summary to give you a good overview of the theology. You might quibble with a couple of his choices (Newman over Irenaeus? No Cappadocians?), but you’ll still gain a good overview of the theologians he profiles. See my full review here and my interview with Gerald here.

Your recommendations?

I’ve offered 10 selections here. What do you recommend I take with me to the beach this year? What would you add to this list? If you’ve got some suggestions, leave them for me and other readers in the comments.

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Worth a Look 5.20.15

May 20, 2015 | Trevin Wax

Worth6Kindle Deal of the Day: Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas. $1.99.

Seven exquisitely crafted short portraits of widely known but not well understood Christian men, each of whom uniquely showcases a commitment to live by certain virtues in the truth of the gospel.

Last week, I got into a bit of a Twitter tussle (is that a thing?) with some friends over the proper interpretation of Matthew 25. Denny Burk pointed out that, contrary to popular opinion, the “least of these” refers primarily to believers in hardship. He’s right. I don’t agree, however, on excluding “the poor” from that application. Mike Cosper has followed up with a blog post about the issue:

I don’t object to Denny’s exegesis, which is thorough and carefully articulated. I don’t object, either, to the inclusion of Evangelicals whose consciences have prevented them from providing services to same-sex weddings, and who have suffered ridicule for their decision. I object strongly, vehemently, to the phrase, “not the poor.” It is sloppy at best, and cheap political point-scoring at worst.

Really good stuff from Tim Keller on how our view of history and the future shape our vision of the present — “When Hope and History Rhyme.” (For more along these lines, check out my talk at TGC this year on discipleship in a world of false eschatologies.)

The Christian answer to the overly optimistic or overly pessimistic modern views of history is the resurrection. Christianity, paradoxically, is far more pessimistic and far more optimistic than any other worldview—simultaneously.

Wonder what mainline Christians are saying about the Pew survey on America’s religious landscape? Here’s Steve Thorngate’s take for The Christian Century. The fading of denominational affiliation is one of the big takeaways, and it affects all Christians, not just the mainline.

According to Pew, a significant number of current evangelicals used to be Baptists but aren’t anymore; the corresponding gains are in nondenominational churches. The latter are, of course, overwhelmingly evangelical in their theology and outlook. But that’s not the only way they differ from the mainline, which is at least as marked by institutionalism as it is byliberalism. Pew includes data on Christians who are “nondenominational in the mainline tradition.” It’s a small number; it’s also growing.

Some pastors feast on leadership books and apply their insights in their church. Other pastors avoid leadership books like the plague. Eric Geiger believes both extremes are dangerous, but first, he offers three reasons pastors should not read these kinds of books:

I think it is wise to avoid the extremes. We must heed the caution not to compare the bride of Christ to another organization, but there are some helpful insights to be learned. There are reasons, and seasons, that church leaders should avoid leadership books. Here are three (later in the week, I will share reasons pastors should read leadership books).

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The Battle Over How to Interpret Pew’s “Religious Landscape” Survey

May 19, 2015 | Trevin Wax

rls-banner

From my latest article at RNS:

The survey of America’s religious landscape released by the Pew Research Center last week engendered controversy, with headlines and articles latching onto one aspect of the data (usually the number of self-identifying Christians dropping to 70 percent) and then speeding away to exaggerated conclusions.

What’s the story here? Is it the “demise” of Christianity? Or the steadiness of religious practice? Is it the accelerating decline of denominational affiliation? Or the slow but upward tick of “evangelicals”?

Like so many surveys, there are different ways one can interpret the data.

Evangelical leaders saw the statistics as vindication: The number of evangelicals has grown, a sign that “true Christianity” is winning the day over the “progressive” mainline denominations or a cultural “Christianity-in-name-only.”

Liberal Christians pushed back against evangelical “triumphalism,” pointing out that some of the worrisome statistics that were once true only of mainline Protestantism are now showing up in evangelical denominations as well.

These divergent perspectives on the Pew survey are connected to larger narratives that frame how conservative and liberal Christians in the United States see themselves. In “The Righteous Mind,” Jonathan Haidt describes the different “stories” that arise, depending on whether you lean to the left or right politically. Though he has written primarily about “liberals” and “conservatives” from a political standpoint, I find his analysis easily applies to “liberals” and “conservatives” within Christianity also.

Haidt describes the liberal narrative as “heroic liberation.” Applied to the church, liberals would say the authoritative and hierarchical structures of the church (not to mention the way the church has wielded power in the past) are elements of tradition that keep people in chains. Liberals want to set people free from outdated or misunderstood dogma.

Haidt summarizes the conservative narrative as the “heroism of defense.” Applied to the church, conservatives are protecting their heritage, much like a home that needs to be reclaimed after significant damage has been done by termites. Loyalty to the church is declining because submission to God’s word is being subverted. Conservatives want to hold tightly to the life-giving truths of Christianity and maintain the church’s distinctiveness, no matter how unpopular it may be.

If you’re examining the Pew survey from the “liberation” narrative, then the solution is for the church to “get with the times.” To wit: If only churches would stop taking backward and damaging social positions, maybe they’d start growing again!

If you’re looking at it from the “defense” narrative, then the solution is for the church to “hold the line” and clarify true Christianity from its counterfeits: If only the “cultural” Christians would disappear altogether, then we’d know who really believes in traditional Christianity!

Which one of these interpretations is right?

CONTINUE READING

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Worth a Look 5.19.15

May 19, 2015 | Trevin Wax

Worth5Kindle Deal of the Day: Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus by Jonathan Leeman. $4.99.

By offering a brief, straightforward explanation of what church membership is and why it’s important, Leeman gives the local church its proper due and builds a case for committing to the local body. Church Membership is a useful tool for churches to distribute en masse to new and potential members of their congregation.

Abigail Rine explains how thoroughly revisionist her evangelical students are on the meaning of marriage, and how that revisionism was inculcated in conservative churches:

To them, the Christian argument against same-sex marriage is an appeal to the authority of a few disparate Bible verses, and therefore compelling only to those with a literalist hermeneutic. What the article names as a “revisionist” idea of marriage—marriage as an emotional, romantic, sexual bond between two people—does not seem “new” to my students at all, because this is the view of marriage they were raised with, albeit with a scriptural, heterosexual gloss.

In The Week, Pascal Emmanuel-Gobry shows why it is foolish to believe religious adherence will fade in the 21st century. Instead, current trends should lead us to expect religion to dominate:

Religion has been the most intense worldview-shaping phenomenon in history, and it will continue to be the most important worldview-shaping phenomenon of the 21st century.

Ignore this reality at your peril.

This is a fascinating read. It’s a pilot giving you a glimpse of “life in the sky” as he flies from London to Tokyo. The section on “Sky Countries” is interesting.

Since takeoff we’ve been passed from one London controller to another, sharing a few minutes of airtime before we’re handed over to the next as simply as a baton. But now we’re nearing the invisible border of London’s aerial dominion. The last of today’s London controllers says “Contact now Maastricht. Good flight.”

The world’s airspace is divided. There are various sorts of divisions. To the pilots who cross them every day, their borders form what we may regard as the countries of the sky.

Nathan Lino has some good counsel on why and how to be better listeners to sermons:

Get this: If you attend Sunday morning worship 45 out of the next 52 Sundays, that is 45 x 40 minute sermons. That is 1,800 minutes or 30 hours of sermons; a significant amount of your time. If you are an adult that has been in church for many years you have spent hundreds of hours of your life sitting through sermons. Just the sheer amount of time we spend listening to sermons should at least spark curiosity in us about how to listen to a sermon effectively.

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3 Choices in How We Respond to God’s Kingdom Agenda

May 18, 2015 | Trevin Wax

Chris-Esty-Photography-0009What is repentance?

Most people think it has something to do with shedding tears of sorrow for past actions or attitudes. It’s feeling sorry for your sins, combined with a desire to change. There’s no doubt that feeling genuine sorrow for your sins is part of repentance, but what if we’re missing another vitally important aspect?

When Jesus began His ministry, He preached a message of repentance in light of the coming kingdom of God (Mark 1:15):

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

“To repent” means to turn around, to change direction. It includes an element of reversal. It’s impossible to repent and stay the same. It would defy the definition of the word.

So what direction do we take? Notice that the call to repentance comes right after Jesus proclaims something: the arrival of God’s kingdom. God’s rule and reign is breaking into human history, and this kingdom is coming through Jesus – the King. Within this context, repentance doesn’t simply mean weeping over our sins; it means we turn around, abandon our own kingdom agendas, and adopt the kingdom agenda of Jesus Christ. To repent is to sign up for God’s kingdom – to be part of His people who are about His business in the world.

3 Ways We Respond to God’s Kingdom Agenda

There are three ways we respond to God’s kingdom agenda.

Jesus-Continued-219x300The first is to pit our agenda against God’s. This is the posture of the people in Genesis 11, who sought to build a city and a tower up to the sky in order to make a name for themselves. Their desire was to set up a rival kingdom, apart from God and His power. The default position for every human being on earth is to set up a personal kingdom where we are in control of our lives, our choices, and our destiny. Our agenda versus God’s.

The second way we respond to God’s kingdom agenda is by adding it to ours. This is the option many Christians take. We have our own agenda, which is altered by God’s in that we have incorporated some of God’s heartfelt desires into our own. We add God’s kingdom agenda to our own. Or we ask God to bless our own agenda as we adopt bits and pieces of His. Our agenda alongside God’s.

The third way we respond to God’s kingdom agenda is by allowing His to replace ours. His missionary heart is reflected in our missionary heart. His hopes and dreams for the world become ours. This isn’t about adding God’s agenda to our own; it’s about the fusion of God’s heart and ours.

This is what it means to be surrendered to the Spirit. The Spirit is not who we invoke to give power to our own plans. He is the One who introduces us to God’s plans. We look to see where God is working and what God wants to do, and we join Him in fulfilling His mission. God’s agenda becomes our agenda.

This is an excerpt from the eight-week Jesus, Continued Bible Study co-written by me and J. D. Greear. For more information on the books and video, click here.

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Worth a Look 5.18.15

May 18, 2015 | Trevin Wax

Worth4Kindle Deal of the Day: Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales and Poems. $0.99.

This Forbes article suggests that within the next decade your online presence will pretty much replace your resume when you’re looking for a job:

A recent study by OfficeTeam shows that more than one-third of companies feel that resumes will be replaced by profiles on social networks. My prediction is that in the next ten years, resumes will be less common, and your online presence will become what your resume is today, at all types and sizes of companies.

Andrew Wilson points out how the word “Amen” is defined by the last question in the Heidelberg catechism. I agree with him. It’s glorious:

Until a few days ago, I had never noticed the beauty, simplicity and pastoral power of the last one. Read this slowly…

Here’s an interview with William D. Gairdner who wants to see people disagreeing better, without anger:

Mr. Gairdner, your book is entitled The Great Divide: Why Liberals and Conservatives Will Never, Ever Agree. That “never ever” is very forceful!

It’s provocative. I don’t think it’s all that negative in the sense that liberal democracy has always managed to find compromises, but a lot of the shouting and the silence between citizens that I have heard in the last 20 years has bothered me a lot. It used to be that I’d attend some gathering like a cocktail party, and I’d walk up to some fellow and say something that I thought was a fact of life. And the fellow would typically look at me and say, “Well, that’s true for you but it’s not true for me.”

This was my moment! So I would say, “It can’t be true and false at the same time; one of us must be wrong.” Meaning, “Why don’t we talk about it and find out which of us it is?”

Inevitably the fellow would go drink with someone else, and I knew the game was over—that this society has been closing down. Instead of feeling an obligation to go to high-minded argument, the idea has been that we go to emotional outrage.

This review of Hitchcock’s Rope may be filled with spoilers, but they’re the kind that make you want to watch the movie, not skip it.

Rope is a movie all about ideas, camera angles, and character development. There are no wasted shots and no wasted lines of dialogue. Counter to almost every aspect of current film, Rope possesses no special effects and no action sequences. Yet, it is absolutely riveting from the moment the credits roll until the final sigh breathed by its characters.

I am not exaggerating when I claim this movie to be one of the greatest works of art ever to emerge out of Hollywood. It certainly competes with The Mission, The Killing Fields, and a few others.

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Lord, You Are Our Faith, Hope, and Love

May 17, 2015 | Trevin Wax

St-FrancisYou are the holy Lord God
Who does wonderful things.
You are strong.
You are great.
You are the most high.
You are the almighty king.
You holy Father,
King of heaven and earth.

You are three and one, the Lord God of gods;
You are the good, all good, the highest good,
Lord God living and true.

You are love, charity;
You are wisdom,
You are humility,
You are patience.
You are beauty,
You are meekness,
You are security,
You are rest,
You are gladness and joy,
You are our hope,
You are justice,
You are moderation,
You are all our riches to sufficiency.

You are beauty,
You are meekness,
You are the protector,
You are our custodian and defender,
You are strength,
You are refreshment,
You are our hope,
You are our faith,
You are our charity,
You are all our sweetness,
You are our eternal life:
Great and wonderful Lord,
Almighty God, Merciful Savior.

a prayer of Francis of Assisi

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