Archives For spiritual formation

Finding Holy in the Suburbs

IVP – October 2018 – $16.00

How can we be holy when our lives are a mess?

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[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]I doubt that any of us is today precisely where we thought we’d be when we were, say, eighteen. Our lives play out in ways we never thought they would.[/inlinetweet]

Those who journey through life without succumbing to the vices that are so easy to cultivate, do so because they have paid at least some attention to the ways that Jesus stepped into a less-than-ideal situation and in so doing redeemed.

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Regardless of where you live or whether you’re a man or a woman, what kind of car (or minivan you drive) Ashley Hales’s book can re-orient you in the midst of the less-than-ideal or, sometimes more dangerous, when you think you’re living the dream.[/inlinetweet]

It’s availably for pre-order now and comes out in October

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According to Brennan Manning Jesus will have one question for us at the Judgment.

Does God speak? If He does, are we listening?

My answer to those question is that God is speaking. He speaks to His people primarily through Scripture, which is our rule of faith and life–the lens through which we evaluate the content of other messages or impressions that we believe come from God.

God also speaks through patterns in our lives, through people, through the book of nature. Together these things fall into the category of general revelation.

The problem is not that God isn’t speaking. The problem is that we’re not listening.

While I was reading a paper from a doctoral colloquium on church and mission (I know, geek alert), I came across a little phrase that captured my imagination: the recovery of our contemplative faculty. The phrase comes from Catholic theologian Ronald Rolheiser’s book, The Shattered Lantern: Rediscovering a Felt Presence of God.

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Rolheiser’s central assertion is that, “our senses require healing and rehabilitation so that they are adequate for receiving and responding to visitations and appearances of [God]” (p.23). Contemporary society connives to kill our awareness of God: “God dies in our awareness and eventually in our churches as well” (p.107).

Coming from a significantly different theological perspective, Rolheiser echoes an observation made many years earlier by Stephen Charnock (1628-1680). Charnock decried the absence of God in the lives of many professed Christians: “…there is something of a secret atheism in all, which is the fountain of the evil practices in their lives, not an utter disavowing of the being of a God, but a denial or doubting of some of the rights of his nature” (24).

These two radically different Christian writers both touch on our deafness to God:

  • Rolheiser believes that we have simply crowded out the voice of God, become deaf to his voice because of our narcissism, pragmatism, and restlessness.
  • Charnock believes that we purposefully close our ears to the words of God due to our internal desire to be an authority unto ourselves.

Surely both men are right. Surely there is within each of us a unique blend of the desire to be an authority unto ourselves and the a canny inability to allow ourselves to be distracted from the counsel of God.

What causes you to close your ears to God?

 

Is God angry at sin?

May 15, 2013 — 2 Comments

The wrath of God is a necessary corollary to His love. Were God not angry with our sin, He could not truly be said to love us. It is almost impossible to conceive of the absence of anger in any relationship marked by love. I deeply love my wife, when she is wronged by another I become angry at the injustice. I deeply love my children, but when one of them does something that places them in harm’s way—running into a road, for example—I become angry.

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John Milbank offers a biting critique of Fresh Expressions, a missional church movement in the Church of England. As ever, Milbank’s words are insightful and a helpful challenge to some problematic elements of missional praxis. I’ve embedded the article below and recommend that you take a read.

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By way of a brief response to Milbank let me offer the following observations:

  1. Missional does mean participating in the mission of God in the world.
  2. Part of that mission is the establishment of particularized churches.
  3. These churches ought to be the base camp from which missional Christians go forth.
  4. These churches ought to preach the Word rightly, administer the sacraments, and equip the saints.
  5. The homogenous unit principle, though understandable, is not rooted in Scripture but in capitalism.
  6. Sacramental worship and missional ministry are complimentary rather than contradictory.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.