Archive for the ‘Jesus’ Category

Faith and Reason

I was listening to Tim Keller sermon called “Noah and the Reasons of Faith” and caught this thought on faith and reason. In Matthew 6 when Jesus teaches the crowds about worry, he instructs them to “look” and “consider”. This is not some blind leap or naive hope. He is challenging them to use reason to build their faith. Science and reason are signposts, not obstacles, in the walk of faith.


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It’s a white Boxing Day in Memphis after flurries (that didn’t stick) on Christmas Day.  Both very unusual, but not unprecedented.

This morning I began to read Luke.  What strikes many readers in chapter 1 is that Zach and Mary seems to have similar responses to the angelic promises, yet Zach gets struck mute in judgment.  Mary’s concerns seem to be valid:  “How on earth will this happen, since I’m a virgin?”

But Zach’s concern seems justified to modern readers as well.  We all know about being too old to reproduce, and we all know about being barren.

One big difference here is that Zach, being “righteous in God’s sight” (1:6), should have known his salvation history well enough not to doubt that God could give life to a dead womb.  It wasn’t frequent, but it certainly happened, and if an angel of YHWH showed up to tell you that grace was falling on you, there was really no option but trusting the God of Abram and Sarai and buying a skin of wine to split with Elizabeth.

But Mary’s pregnancy had no precursor.  Her question for clarification shows that something new was happening in salvation history, something that was even greater than what happened for Sarah, Rachel, and Hannah.

The Messiah came in an unprecedented fashion, precisely because he himself was unprecedented.

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The quote below is from Bono, discussing his thoughts while meditating on the Christmas story during a Christmas Eve service in Dublin:

“It dawned on me for the first time, really. It had dawned on me before, but it really sank in: the Christmas story. The idea tha God, if there is a force of love and logic in the universe, that it would seek to explain itself by becoming a child born in straw poverty, in (dirt) and straw…a child… I just thought:”Wow!” Just the poetry…Unknowable love, unknowable power, describes itself as the most vulnerable. There it was. I was sitting there, and it’s not that it hadn’t struck me before, but tears came down my face, and I saw the genius of this, utter genius of picking a particular point in time and deciding to turn on this. Because that’s exactly what we were talking about earlier: love needs to find form, intimacy needs to be whispered. To me, it makes sense. It’s actually logical. It’s pure logic. Essence has to manifest itself. It’s inevitable. Love has to become an action or something concrete. It would have to happen. There must be an incarnation. Love must be made flesh.”

from Bono, in conversation with Michka Assayas

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John 1:37-38, Hood’s unauthorized translation:

John saw Jesus as he walked by and said, “LOOK!  That’s the Lamb of God!” Two of John’s disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.

May that pattern be duplicated by all of us.  We speak the gospel.  When people hear us, they follow Jesus rather than us.

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Advisor or Lord?

Christians thinking of buying a vacation home often ask, “Can we afford it?” But what about asking, “Will a second home elevate us above people?” “Will it isolate us?” In the first set of questions, God is a financial advisor. In the second set, he has become your Lord.

Adapted from Paul Miller, A Praying Life

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Why aren’t there as many explicit connections of Jesus to OT characters as one might expect?  I’m not sure I’ve ever asked the question in that way.  But we have to admit that the evidence even in the NT is often more allusive than explicit, as seen in an earlier post on the parallels between Elijah-Elisha and John the Baptist-Jesus.

Given the man links between the two, including the fact that the names “Joshua,” “Elisha,” and “Jesus” have essentially the same meaning (“God saves”), and that John the Baptist is so clearly identified in the Gospels with Elijah . . . it it intriguing that more is not explicitly made in the NT of the Jesus-Elisah connection.

Yet it may be that it is precisely because both Joshua and Elisha are successors to more famous men that this kind of thinking was inhibited.

There would have been a natural desire within the church to avoid the suggestion that Jesus was John’s successor in any sense that detracted from his pre-eminence–particularly since this was apparently a live issue in some quarters . . . Thus it is not surprising that the typological significance of Elisha in relation to Jesus has been downplayed.”

Iain Provan, 1 and 2 Kings, 234.

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This graphic stands for Jesus Christ, Victor.  I’m pretty sure there’d be an exclamation point at the end, if koine Greek had such things. . .

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Our reflection is confirmed in the career of another heir of Elijah’s spirit, John the Baptist. Jesus Christ even equates John with Elijah (Matt. 17:1–13). Elijah and Elisha are types of the transition of leadership from John the Baptist to Jesus Christ. Elijah and John the Baptist announce judgment; call Israel to repentance and are followed by the common people; dress alike in their protests against materialism; confront an ambivalent king (Ahab and Herod) and a blood-thirsty queen; are rejected by authorities immediately after their victories; question God’s calling; and designate a greater successor.

But now let’s really swim by comparing Elisha and the Lord Jesus. Both are designated by a prophet, whom the general populace recognized as a true prophet. Both receive the Spirit on the other side of the Jordan (2 Kings 2:7–15; John 1:28); are surrounded by more disciples than their predecessors; are itinerant miracle workers; give life in a land of death; cleanse lepers (2 Kings 5; Mark 1:40–45); heal the sick (2 Kings 4:34–35; Mark 8:22–25); defy gravity (2 Kings 6:6; Matt. 14:22–33); reverse death by raising dead sons and restoring them to their mothers (2 Kings 4: 1–7; Luke 7:11–17); help widows in desperate circumstances; are kinsman redeemers to save from slavery (2 Kings 4:1–7; Luke 4:19); feed the hungry (2 Kings 4:1–7; Mark 8:1–12); minister to the Gentiles (2 Kings 5:1–16); prepare (2 Kings 6:20–23) and sit at table with sinners (Luke 5:29); lead captives (2 Kings 6:18–20; Eph, 4:7–8); have a covetous disciple (Gehazi and Judas); end their lives in a life-giving tomb from which people flee (2 Kings 13:20–21; Mark 16:1–8).

Bruce Waltke (the whole piece is somewhere online; perhaps Tabletalk Magazine?)

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Finishing up Graham Tomlin, Spiritual Fitness he has a chapter near the conclusion on some of the spritiual practices we see Jesus undertaking with his disciples.  Much like Paul Miller’s book, Love Walked Among Us, this is a look at Jesus that longs to learn from what he did.  Here’s one example (142-3):

A striking feature of Mark’s Gospel is that Jesus very rarely did things alone.  Occasionally he went off into the hills to pray, but most of the time he did everything with his discipes.  At times it was with the whole group, at other times he took just a few of them along, but he rarely acted alone.  The pronoun used most often is ‘they’, not ‘he’.

As Jesus moved . . . [to] Jerusalem . . . this was a communal journey where [almost] everything was done together.  They experienced together the elation of the transfiguration when Jesus took Peter, James and John with him on that most extraordinary and personal encounter with his Father (9:2-13).  They experienced together the grief and despair of Jairus’s daughter (5:35-43).  They encountered fear (4:38) and went through failure (9:18).  Jesus took them through the whole range of human experience and they went through it together, not alone.

There was a commitment to each other which transcended even commitments to family.  In fact this group actually became as close as a family – Jesus ask the rhetorical question, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?  He looked at those seated in a cricle around him and siad, “Here are my mother and my brothers!'” (3.31-5).

Here at the heart of Jesus’ practice of church was a willingness to expose his life to theirs and their life to each other’s, in the intimate setting of a small community of around a dozen people.  Without that depth of companionship, it is unlikely that our churches will get very far with real transformation.

[[sidebar:  does it strike anyone else as funny that our blog has categories for “church” and for “missional church”?  Should we save the label “church” for ridiculous stuff like this and the label “missional church” for all the good or normal stuff?]]

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today the u.s. advanced in the world cup. today i ate mexican for lunch. today i am surrounded by books and notes trying to study. today i drove my car. today i drank coffee and tea with people (not together, but both this morning). tonight i will sleep in a bed. not everyone in our world, or even in the city of memphis, can share these same realities.

recently sociologist johnathan bloom has noted that, as americans, we throw away an average of $2000 of food per household of four every year. yes, $2000 a year, and this in a world where 25,000 children will die TODAY of preventable causes (hunger, malnutrition, diarrhea…) 

the article states, “Jonathan Bloom estimates the average family of four throws out close to $2,000 worth of food annually — 25 per cent of what’s brought home from the grocery store. Bloom has investigated the cycle of food waste for several years and has found that our obsession with freshness is at the heart of the issue.” you can read the whole article here.

the real stats that will blow you away are found HERE.

it has been fashionable of late to throw around the stat that memphis was named the “hungriest city in america” but i am not seeing much movement on it, especially from the church. memphis is hungry, the world is hungry, and i am getting fatter and throwing away more food. this is not OK and it will change.

followers of Jesus are called to feed the hungry, love justice & mercy, and to serve the poor. in fact, Jesus identifies himself with the poor so much he says, “whatever you do to the least of these you do to me.” so if i live in a city and a world where i am throwing away food or consuming excessively, and not sharing, am i doing that to Jesus? by ignoring the poor am i ignoring him?

i like the warm fuzzy feeling i get when i serve someone and think about how i served Jesus. that makes me feel good. but when i am self absorbed, self focused, self satisfying, and self serving i do not like the feeling i get when i think about how my ignoring of the poor is ignoring Christ. i am too self focused to relate “to the least.”

check out this dudes anger below. i am not encouraging you to sign his stuff (i have not) but this video made me smile. i think we should be angry over this. definitely. the disparity, even with in the church, should call us to turn over tables.

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