Monday, November 22, 2010

Karl Barth: The Power of the Word of God

Commenting on Romans 1:16 & 1 Cor. 1:18 Barth writes:

"If a man knew nothing of this power that both sustains and stimulates, both protects and punishes, both pacifies and disturbs, if he merely heard about it without knowing it as a power, he would only give evidence that he knew nothing of the Word of God.  We are acquainted with the Word of God to the degree that we are acquainted with this power.  We speak of God's Word when we speak in recollection and expectation of this power, and when we do so in such a way that we realise that this power of the Word of God is not one power among others, not even among other divine powers, but the one unique divine power which comes home to us, to which we are referred, in face of which we stand in decision between the obedience we owe it and the unfathomable inconceivability of disobedience, and consequently in the decision between bliss and perdition." (I.1 150)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Saturday Night Live on the Folly of Positive Thinking

2 Corinthians 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." -Jesus

"It is certain that man must utterly despair of his own ability before he is prepared to receive the grace of Christ." -Martin Luther

"So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making.  They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of the self-will run riot, though he usually doesn't think so.  Above everything, we alcoholics must rid of this selfishness.  We must, or it will kill us!  God makes that possible.  And there often seems no way of entirely getting rid of self without His aid.  Many of us had moral and philosophical convictions galore, but we could not live up to them even though we would have liked to.  Neither could we reduce our self-centeredness much by wishing or trying on our own power.  We had to have God's help.

This is the how and why of it.  First of all, we had to quit playing God.  It didn't work.  Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director.  He is the Principal; we are His agents.  He is the Father, and we are his children.  Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom." -Alcoholics Anonymous the Big Book

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Karl Barth on the Importance of Theology.

I'm currently trudging my way through Karl Barth's massive Church Dogmatics.  My goal is to get through the whole 14 vol. set over the next several years.  Needless to say, I'll be sharing some of his gems as I come across them.  Here's Barth on the importance of theological work:

"How disastrously the Church must misunderstand itself if it can imagine that theology is the business of a few theoreticians who are specially appointed for the purpose, to whom the rest, as hearty practical men, may sometimes listen with half an ear, though for their own part they boast of living 'quite untheologically' for the demands of the day ('love').  As though these practical men were not continually preaching and speaking and writing, and were not genuinely questioned as to the rightness of their activity in this regard!  As though there were anything more practical than giving this question its head, which means doing the work of theology..."

"As though there could be any more urgent task for a Church under assault from without than that of consolidating itself within, which means doing theological work!"

"The whole Church must seriously want a serious theology if it is to have a serious theology."

"The freedom claimed when men think they can and should theologise 'quite untheologically' is the freedom to prattle heretically or in a way that makes for heresy.  There is no room in the Church for this freedom."

Church Dogmatics I1 76-77

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Horton Quote

"The Gospel changes lives precisely because it is not about us-even our changed lives-but about Christ.  The life of every Christian is filled with enough inconsistencies to disprove the Christian faith every day if it were based on our changed lives.  The history of the church is littered not only with heresies and schisms but with crusades, inquisitions, and the justification of atrocities in the name of Christ.  Yet in all of this we can point away from ourselves, individually and collectively, to "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).  In fact, it is only by repenting of our spiritual pride and casting ourselves anew on God's mercy in his Son that we can ever become servants rather than masters of our neighbors."
-"The Gospel Driven Life" Micheal Horton

Monday, September 20, 2010

An Interesting Quote about Worship

Sorry I'm having no original ideas of late.  So here's some interesting thoughts about worship from an excellent book:
"Is worship, then, essentially an experience or feeling?  Is it to be identified with a special sense of the presence of God, or with some kind of religious ecstasy or with expressions of deep humiliation before God?  Are there truly special moments in a Christian meeting when we are truly 'worshiping' God?  Are church services to be measured by the extent to which they enable the participants to enter into such experiences?  Such a subjective approach is often reflected in the comments people make about Christian gatherings, but it has little to do with biblical teaching on the matter.  Furthermore, it creates significant problems for relationships amongst Christians, since not all will share in the same experience and some will inevitably be made to feel that their worship is inferior.  Worship must involve certain identifiable attitudes, but something is seriously wrong when people equate spiritual self-gratification with worship!" (17 Emphasis Mine)
This is a great quote from an awesome book called "Engaging With God: a Biblical Theology of Worship."  In it author David Peterson looks at the topic of Worship from Genesis to Revelation helping us to see beyond style preferences to what the Bible actually says concerning the subject.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Naked Christianity

"Losing our illusions is painful because illusions are the stuff we live by.  The Spirit of God is the great unmasker of illusions, the great destroyer of icons and idols.  God's love for us is so great that He does not permit us to harbor false images, no matter how attached we are to them.  God strips those falsehoods from us no matter how naked it may make us, because it is better to live naked in the truth than clothed in fantasy" (13)

Brennan Manning "Lion and Lamb: The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus"

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Kierkegaard Quote

"That Jesus Christ died for my sins certainly shows how great his grace is,
but it also shows how great my sins are." (283)

Kierkegaard. Provocations

John Calvin on Suffering

"Hence also in harsh and difficult conditions, regarded as adverse and evil, a great comfort comes to us: we share Christ's sufferings in order that as he has passed from a labyrinth of all evils into heavenly glory, we may in like manner be led through various tribulations to the same glory.  So Paul himself elsewhere states: when we come to know the sharing of his sufferings, we at the same time grasp the power of his resurrection; and when we become like him in his death, we are thus made ready to share his glorious resurrection [Phil. 3:10-11].  How much can it do to soften all the bitterness of the cross, that the more we are afflicted with adversities, the more surely our fellowship with Christ is confirmed!" (702)

Calvin, John.  Institutes of the Christian Religion

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Surprise Gospel!

Here are some telling and enlightening words from Michael Horton concerning the need for Gospel centered ministry.  He exclaims:
"Gospel is the surprise, and it remains a surprise announcement even to believers.  Like a branch that has been bent out of shape, we fall back naturally to being curved in on ourselves unless we are being pulled back constantly to raise our eyes up to God in faith as he has clothed himself in the gospel of his Son.  We do not need a reporter to announce to us that we need to be better parents, spouses, and friends; that we should have integrity in our relationships; to be less selfish and more giving; get in the game of life instead of standing on the sidelines; and so forth.  Give us advice on these matters and we nod.  We begin to take notes and resolve to put them into practice next week.  Our ears perk up when we hear exhortations to be all we can be.  Our self-righteousness springs to its feet when we are told that we have what it takes if we just put the game plan into practice.
As true as a lot of these exhortations might be, the familiarity of law (things to do) can make us wonder why the message of our churches is all that different and why the Christian message is all that radical.  Only the radical news concerning Jesus Christ can distract us from all the trivial pursuits and transform us from the inside out...
It is no wonder that people become bored with church and assume that they can get along well enough in life without it.  We need to see God as the headliner again, instead of ourselves" (22-23)
Horton, Michael.  The Gospel-Driven Life

PS: For those of you who like surprises!

The Cross, Jurgen Moltmann, & Jesus Camp

Several months ago I read a book by German Theologian Jurgen Moltmann called “The Crucified God.” Around the same time I rented the controversial film called “Jesus Camp” from Family Video. As I was watching these two theologies (or ways of life) unfold in front of me I couldn’t help but be astounded by the extreme differences of the two.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mike Yaconelli on the Bible

"Looking back over the years, I realize that the Bible isn't magic, but it is corrective; it isn't an answer book, it is a living book; it isn't a fix-it book, it is a relationship book.  When I confront God's word, I am confronted; when I read God's word, it reads me; when I seek God's presence, he seeks me."
-Mike Yaconelli "The Core Realities of Youth Ministry"

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Video about William Cowper

If you've ever struggled with depression and/or any other form of mental illness this video will speak to you.  Be warned, the video is a bit graphic.


PS: For those of you reading this on Facebook go to this link:

Monday, April 5, 2010

How to Meditate on the Passion of Christ by Martin Luther Part II

“Up to this point in our discussion, it is as if we have been in Passion Week and Good Friday. Now we come to Easter and Christ’s Resurrection. When a person, whose conscience has been filled with terror, understands his sins in this light, he needs to watch out that his sins do not remain in his conscience, for then nothing but pure doubt will result. Just as our sins flowed out of Christ and we became aware of them, so we should pour them back on Him again and set our conscience free. Make sure you do not bite and devour one another with sins in your heart, running here and there with your own good works, trying to make satisfaction for them, trying to work your way out of your sins by means of indulgences. It is impossible!

Friday, April 2, 2010

How to Meditate on the Passion of Christ by Martin Luther Part I

“When we meditate on the Passion of Christ the right way, we see Christ and are terrified at the sight. Our conscience sinks in despair. This feeling of terror needs to happen so that we fully realize how great the wrath of God is against sin and sinners. We understand this when we see how God sets sinners free only because His dearly beloved Son -- His only Son -- paid such a costly ransom for us, as Isaiah 53:8 says, “He was stricken for the transgressions of my people.”

What happens to us when we see the dear Child of God struck down like this? We realize how inexpressible, even unbearable, is the Son’s total commitment to saving sinners. How else can we feel when we realize that a person so great as Christ went out to meet this fate, suffering and dying for sinners? If you truly and deeply reflect on the fact that God’s Son, the eternal Wisdom of God, suffers, you will be filled with terror. The more you reflect on it the deeper you will feel this way.

You should deeply believe, and never doubt, that in fact you are the one who killed Christ. Your sins did this to Him. St. Peter struck terror in the hearts of the Jews when he said in Acts 2:36-27: “You crucified Him!” Three thousand people were filled with terror. Trembling in fear they cried out to the Apostles, “Dear brothers, what should we do?” Therefore, when you look at the nails being driven through His hands, firmly believe that it is your work. Do you see His crown of thorns? Those thorns are your wicked thoughts.”

For the full text of this work click here.

Holy Week with the Apostolic Fathers

"O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! that the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors!"
-The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus 130 AD

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Holy Week with the Apostolic Fathers

"Let us then continually persevere in our hope, and the earnest of our righteousness, which is Jesus Christ, 'who bore our sins in His own body on a tree,' 'who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth,' but endured all things for us, that we might live in Him."
-The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians 110-140 AD

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Holy Week with the Apostolic Fathers

"How the one love of God, through exceeding regard for men, did not regard us with hatred, nor thrust us away, nor remember our iniquity against us, but showed great long-suffering, and bore with us, He Himself took on Him the burden of our iniquities, He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal.  For what thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness?  By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God. 
-The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus 130 AD

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Holy Week with the Apostolic Fathers

"Let us look stedfastly to the blood of Christ, and see how precious that blood is to God, which, having been shed for our salvation, has set the grace of repentance before the world"
-The First Epistle of Clement 90 AD

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

oh rick...

once again he beats me to the punch...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Enjoy The Weather

Yesterday I came across this cool quote from Luther concerning the beauty of God's creation.  He writes that creation is:
our Bible in the fullest sense, this our house, home, field, garden, and all things, where God does not only preach by using his wonderful works, but also taps on our eyes, stirs up our senses, and enlightens our heart at the same time...  Learn to strengthen your belief in the resurrection of the dead by means of the work that God exercises daily toward his creatures through his omnipotence.
-Sermon of May 25, 1544 on 1 Cor. 15:66
I thought this was an inspiring sentiment to reflect on as the sun finally begins to poke through the winter sky!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Luther Quote!

Here's an awesome snipped from Luther that I came across in Walther's "Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel." Luther writes:
Thou, my Lord Jesus art my Righteousness; I am Thy sin. Thou hast taken from what is mine and hast given me what is Thine. Thou didst become what Thou wert not and madest me to be what I was not. Beware of your ceaseless striving after a righteousness so great that you no longer appear as a sinner in your own eye and do not want to be a sinner. For Christ dwells only in sinners. He came down from heaven, where He dwelt in the righteous, for the very purpose of dwelling in sinners also. Ponder this love of His, and you will realize His sweetest consolation.
-Martin Luther's Letter to Spalatin

Monday, January 18, 2010

The godforsaken God...

In his book, "The Crucified God," Jurgen Moltmann unpacks Jesus' terrifying cry from the cross, "Mark 15:34 'Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?' which means, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'" For Moltmann this passage is the keystone to everything that is Christian. He writes:
All Christian Theology and Christian life is basically an answer to the question which Jesus asked as he died... Either Jesus who was abandoned by God is the end of all theology or he is the beginning of a specifically Christian, and therefore critical and liberating, theology of life. (4)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Luther's "Agonizing Struggle"

I hope you're all doing well in the blogosphere. Sorry it's been so long since my last post. As I've said before, this whole having a baby thing is really a time and brain power suck. WHO KNEW!?! This said I'm just going to offer you some thoughts inspired by Martin Luther today.

The inspiration came from thinking about what Luther calls the "Agonizing Struggle."