Monthly Archives: April 2013

It’s about joy, stupid

And Jesus had this way of transmitting this acceptance – and from his fullness we have all received.

From Dallas Willard:
“Joy is not pleasure, a mere sensation, but a pervasive and constant sense of well-being.  Hope in the goodness of God is joy’s indispensable support”

Joy is not a pleasure.  Not a mere sensation.  Not just feeling happy in the moment because of something that’s going on.  it’s a pervasive and constant knowledge of well-being that all ultimately is well with me and not just with me but with all things.  That’s joy.

Paul says “Rejoice in the Lord” and Nehemiah says “the joy of the Lord is my strength.”

2. Sustenance

It is important to engage in the things that cause us to be sustained – worship, scripture, friendship, finding the things that give us joy.  For Jesus this included partying with non-religious people.

3. Significance

The idea of significance is that I was made to make a difference beyond myself.  Satan’s temptation was to find the significance outwith the identity of God.

4. Achievement

For Jesus this is “my food is to do the will of him who sent me and to do his work.”

Jesus tells us all these things so that our joy may be complete in him.

Our temptation is to reverse the cycle, to begin with achievement, then significance, then sustenance, then identity.  Jesus reverses this which is why he was able to sustain massive personal rejection.

Comes back to this phrase “In a little while”, in a little while we will  receive all the answers.

Bultmann “It is the nature of joy that all questions go silent and nothing needs explaining.”

In a little while our joy will be complete.


Forgiveness

 

that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown.

‘When we confess our sins,’ I said, ‘God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. And even though I cannot find a Scripture for it, I believe God then places a sign out there that says, ’NO FISHING ALLOWED.’

The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a cap with skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush—the huge room with its harsh overhead lights, the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor, the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were! That place was Ravensbruck, and the man who was making his way forward had been a guard—one of the most cruel guards.

Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: “A fine message, Fraulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!” And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course—how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women? But I remembered him. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.

“You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,” he was saying. “I was a guard there.” No, he did not remember me. “But since that time,” he went on, “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein,”—again the hand came out—”will you forgive me?”

And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again been forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place. Could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking? It could have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. “If you do not forgive men their trespasses,” Jesus says, “neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. 

But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. “Jesus, help me!” I prayed silently. “I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.” And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust out my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

“I forgive you, brother!” I cried. “With all my heart!” For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then. But even then, I realized it was not my love. I had tried, and did not have the power. It was the power of the Holy Spirit.
[Holocaust Victim Forgives Captor, Citation: Corrie Ten Boom, Tramp for the Lord (Berkley, 1978), pp. 53-55]

I want my life back : Reclaim your marriage

John Ortberg with Rick Blackmon talking about marriage.

What is the hardest thing about marriage?

Difference.  Without a doubt.  We become more different the longer we are married.  The time we are least different is when we start out, but we become more different as time goes on.  Difference is gender, background, personality and values.

As difference happens, then so does conflict.  And Rick’s job is about repair.  If someone wants to avoid conflict, he tells them they have come to the wrong place, but if they want to repair, if they want to do good quality repair, then he can help.

Ortberg then talks about the presence of sin in a relationship.

Blackmon uses the acronym CRAFT to talk about relationships.  He says that the difference and learning to live with it is the biggest factor in a relationship.  You cannot have a relationship without difference, and possibly the time we are least different is when we get married, and we become more different as we get older.  In such times, difference will lead to conflict, and conflict can lead to good quality repair.

C – Conversation mode, stay out of the bird brain (the reactive core) and get into the cortex.  This often requires calming down and taking space.  These are the Proverbs references

R – Remember, remember the times of conflict and remember that you will not remember them in the same way.

A- Is about accepting difference, the Hilary Clinton thing I think is in here

F – Forgiveness – two kinds of sorry, Oops and Genuine sorry, good set of things here about things that we have to say sorry for because of bad intention (round about 23 minutes).

Then says we are good at saying sorry but not so good at forgiving.  Gets people to say “I forgive you to each other”

T – Transformation – that this is part of how we change

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

I am responsible for encouraging, listening to, conversing with , praying for, preaching to, and teaching these people, leading both Pharisees and tax men in following Jesus.  Both show up in the place of prayer where I am a pastor.  Both are sinners.  I am pastor equally to both.  I don’t find it easy. (page 137)

Pharisees don’t technically do anything obviously bad, after all, and they do a lot of good by upholding the standards of community morality.  But neither are they particularly compelling advertisements for a life overflowing with milk and honey. (page 138)

Given the ease of deception is it any wonder that the place and practice of prayer should be the very best place where we can avoid God without anyone noticing?  So it is not surprising that the setting most conducive to the cultivation of interiority should be so often deficiient in it.

Nobody that i have every met starting going to church with the intention of cultivating hypocrisy. (page 139)

What would make my work as a pastor easy would be to stereotype the Pharisee and the tax man.  This would simplify things considerably.

There are stereotypes that are rich for demolition: the religious hypocrite versus the spiritual freelancer; institutional religion stiff with the starch of hypocrisy versus spontaneous spirituality keeping company with the birds of the air; religion swaddled in cliches and safe in the arms of Jesus versus spirituality that runs with the wolves and hazards life in the wilderness. (page 141)

And the story of the Pharisee and tax man is a vivid expose of the pretentious silliness of any so-called prayer that is not personal and ordinary, of prayer that is not embedded in the immediate and personal relationships and language of everyday life.

Cumulatively the three stories assure us that prayer, language used in relation to God, language used to cultivate the vast interiors that make up most of our life, is as natural on any Samaritan road as it is in any temple or church we find ourselves in. (page 144)

The Widow

Most people, maybe all, at one time or another, pray.  And may – who know how many? quite.  And why shouldn’t they?  If they don’t get what they ask for, if they don’t get what they think of as an “answer” why keep at it?  The remarkable thing about prayer is not that so many people pray, but that some of us keep at it.  Why do we keep at it?  Why do we keep praying when we have so little to show for it?  Anyone who has made a practice of prayer knows the feeling, overwhelming sometimes, that prayer is a leaky bucket.  You go to the river to get a pail of water, and by the time you get home the water is gone, the bucket empty, and all there is left to show for your effort is a damp trail soon to be wiped out by the sun. (page 125)

Given that this is God that is doing the revealing, there are necessarily many mysteries that we will never comprehend.  (A god you can understand is not God). (page 128)

Apocalyptic language can be understood as referring predictively to upcoming doomsday events: judgment, second coming, nuclear holocaust, whatever.  But the very same language can also be understood metaphorically to convey a sense of urgency.  Knowing Jesus’ fondness for metaphor and knowing the historical context in which he is working, it is far more likely that this is the way that Jesus used apocalyptic imagery. (page 130)

From Evagrius the Solitary

Often when I have prayed I have asked for what I thought was good, and persisted in my petition, stupidly importuning the will of God, and not leaving it to Him to arrange things as he knows is best for me.  But when I have obtained what I asked for, I have been very sorry that I did not ask for the will of God to be done; because the thing turned out not to be as I had thought… Do not be distressed if you do not at once receive from God what you ask.  He wishes to give you something better – to make you persevere in your prayer.  For what is better than to enjoy the love of God and to be in communion with Him? (page 132)

Knowing You Are In Christ

“I was crucified when Christ was crucified” or “Christ was crucified when I was crucified” for they are not two historical events but one. (page 44)

 

Oh, it is a great thing to see that we are in Christ! Think of the bewilderment of trying to get into a room in which you already are! Think of the absurdity of asking to be put in!  If we recognise the fact that we are in, we make no effort to enter.  If we had more revelation, we should have fewer prayers and more praises.  We spend so much time praying for ourselves just because we are blind to what God has done. (page 50)

Last Adam, Second Man

Many a time when preaching in the villages of China one has to use very simple illustrations for deep divine truth.  I remember once I took up a small book and put a piece of paper into it, and I said to those very simple folk, “Now look carefully.  I take a piece of paper.  It has an identity of its own, quite separate from this book.  Having no special purpose for it at the moment,I put it into the book.  Now I do something with the book.  I post it to Shanghai.  I do not post the paper, but the paper has been put into the book.  Then where is the paper?  Can the book go to Shanghai and the paper remain here?  Can the paper have a separate destiny from the book?  No! Where the book goes the paper goes.  If I drop the book in the river the paper goes too, and if I quickly take it out again I recover the paper also.  Whatever experience the book goes through the paper goes through with it, for it is still there in the book. (page 38)

Much is made of the terms in 1 Corinthians 15:45,47 of Christ being both “Last Adam” and “Second Man”.  In one he gathers up sinful humanity into death, and in the other he inaugurates a new era.

“As the last Adam he wiped out the old race; as the second Man He brings in the new race.  It is in His resurrection that He stands forth as the second Man, and there too we are included.  “For if we have become united with him by the likeness of his death, we shall be also by the likeness of the resurrection” We died in Him as the last Adam; we live in Him as the second Man.  The Cross is thus the mighty act of God which translates us from Adam to Christ.”

The Forgotten Talent

First and supremely one must surrender to God Who by His HSoly Spirit pardons, cleanses, and sanctifies.  Now being human and weak we cannot surrender ourselves properly we only can offer our selves; we must leave it to God to seize us.  We must be willing to be possessed by Him and if swe persist in offering ourselves He, in His own time, will take us in no doubtful fashion.  He will let us know it through a baptism of the Holy Spirit.

 

The second essential is a regular “Hour of Watch” with Christ, during which we practise the consciousness of the Divine Presence.  This spiritual discipline develops, in some measure at least, a sense of unity with God.  Jesus developed this to perfection and it may be that was the essence of his divinity. (page 101)

 

Peddie begins by talking about his commitment to spend an hour a night praying for this healing ministry to begin.  The hour of watch is very important to him, echoing as it does, Jesus’ words “Could you not keep watch even for one hour”.

 

He talks about healing people physically sometimes, his determination to work alongside the medical profession, his discovery that if pain is not taken away this may be the sign of something that must be treated medically, the presence of oil on his hands which reminds him of the oil of anointing in James, the way that absent prayer works, the importance of the laying on of hands, and that all of this is a sign which enables us to believe (he speaks of particular joy of healings which led people to greater faith, regardless of the healing that had happened to him), that confession of sin comes after healing quite often.  Time and again he talks of the importance of the minister having faith in the power of God:

“We hear of weeks of services of special preparation for intending recipients being held in churches before the arrival of some servant of God who heals in public.

 

This cannot be without avail, but all who exercise this ministry, whether in public or in private, must not forget that before any service can impart blessing the most important preparation is that of the ministering servant of God.  Unless he is regularly and in some disciplined way preparing himself, or rather submitting himself to that thorough preparation which only the Holy Spirit can impart, the best results will not be obtained. (page 72)

 

I think enough has been said to verify my statement that while great faith is essential in the person who ministers, it does not seem to be absolutely necessary in the recipient.  I believe however that where faith abounds in the patient, a greater power abounds.  (page 70)

 

For one thing ministers must resist the temptation to refer their healing to auxiliary groups and neglect their duty to sweat in prayer and supplication for the needy and give private healing services in afflicted homes.  In rendering this service to his own generation we are told that Jesus often had not time even to eat.  (page 92)

 


 

On the Glasgow prayer group:

Our first service was held in St. James’ Church, Pollok, where the Rev. J. Clarence Finalyson, then was minister.  After that service Clarence asked me to accompany him on visits to four of his sick members.  I accepted on condition that I give each of the patients three weekly services, after which he would carry on himself.  After the first round of services my friend said: “I have seen miracles today.”

 

When I gave a second service to one of these patients, a man suffering from a lung condition, I suddenly asked Clarence to assist by laying his hands too on the man.  To my friends’ surprise the patient gave the same response to his touch as to mine: thus another recruit entered the ranks.  Soon the whole group was engaged in the work, true servants of Jesus Christ, transmitters of the healing power of God. (page 103)

 

These successes raise the question whether the power to heal is part of our ordination endowment, but as we are not taught to believe in this and do not expect it, the power does not make itself manifest. (page 104)