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Showing posts from December, 2009

The Lion in Exile

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Following is a gift to Surprising God readers from Dr. John McKenna, a trinitarian theologian and fellow traveler in the life we share with the Father, Son and Spirit.


The Lion in Exile
The other night, I dreamt of lions. I am a poor man and I do not think my dreams have any real value. I live in a rented room of a cheap hotel in the hum and drum of a graffiti written city. Dreams are things I throw into the trash, stuff I send down the toilet. I do not spend any more time thinking about them than I spend thinking about breathing. But since the lions, I have begun to change my mind about them. I was walking in a field of high grass and trees and the lions watched me intently, their faces kindly. They surprised me with their friendliness. Do not lions attack and eat us?

My room is a barren place, a few pictures hanging on the walls, a cracked mirror above an old sink, a bathroom down the hall. I sleep in it, that is all. I like to walk. I walk most all day long. I know the city from its…

Memories and music from the mountains

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The last few days we've been confirming logistics and details for tonight’s Christmas Eve service.  (Thanks coordinators and team members!)  As we’ve done for about ten years, two small congregations from different denominations (but bound to each other and to Jesus by the Holy Spirit) will come together on Christmas Eve to sing, pray, preach and present readings about the Father’s love known in the Savior Jesus and his breaking into his creation as God with us and for us.

Tonight’s plan for music includes traditional carols, contemporary songs, children singing Tommy Walker’s Happy Birthday Jesus, and the service concluding with the singing of Silent Night as we light one another’s candle (originating from the Christ candle) and face one another in song.  I’ll be serving in one of my favorite ways—just singing harmony.

Weeks ago I blogged about favorite Christmas CD’s from Chris Tomlin, Third Day and others, but it should also be said that one of the all-time favorites at our hous…

Sharing in Jesus' knowing, believing and obeying

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This post continues a series reviewing Christian Kettler's book, The God Who Believes - Faith, Doubt, and the Vicarious Humanity of Christ.  For other posts in the series, click a number: 124.

In the last two posts, I've shared quotes from Christian Kettler's book, "The God Who Believes," in which he discusses Jesus' believing, knowing and acting on our behalf. Here are more:

Lest we misunderstand, this does not mean that there is not a place for our own believing, knowing, and acting. According to Kettler, "Because Jesus believes for us does not exclude the imperative for us to believe!" (p. 71).  However, Kettler notes that "we do not initiate our knowledge of God" (p. 71). Jesus is the only human who truly knows God; and he shares, by grace, that knowledge with us. Thus the faith that saves us, is Jesus' faith, not our own. And his faith is grounded in his intimate knowledge of the Father. And so we know God, because Jesus knows…

More from The God Who Believes

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This post continues a series reviewing Christian Kettler's book, The God Who Believes - Faith, Doubt, and the Vicarious Humanity of Christ.  For other posts in the series, click a number: 134.

Last time we looked at representative quotes from Dr. Kettler (pictured at right). Here are some more:
"The modern age...values...reason...[but] faith...confesses at times 'I don't know'...[We see this in Jesus, where] God has voluntarily restricted his knowledge in the person of the incarnate Son. The Son does not need to know, for in his humanity he possesses a faith that continually seeks understanding. The Son seeks understanding, as we know from the earliest days in the temple, where he was both 'listening to them and asking them questions' (Luke 2:46), increasing 'in wisdom and in years' (Luke 2:52). The Epistle to the Hebrews, indeed, speaks of the Son who 'learned obedience through what he suffered' (Heb. 5:8). Jesus' faith was the kin…

Pointing to the mystery of Christ

Christ’s birth into our humanity—the once and for all union of God and man—born of the virgin Mary and conceived by the Holy Spirit—is an awesome mystery and miracle that should drive us to our knees in humble thanks and worship.

Yet we are told that many churches have either unintentionally or by design removed nearly any sense of mystery from weekly worship.  With an emphasis on doctrine, well-run family programs, pop bands and dogmatic cause-and-effect sermons on obedience and Christian living—with slick PowerPoint productions and a confident business-like delivery that includes an avalanche of texts and factoids—there is little room left for the appreciation of the mysteries of God and the recognition that we are dealing in faith with things of God that are beyond our comprehension. So observes Eddie Gibbs in ChurchMorph (2009 Baker Academic) and in Emerging Churches (2005 Baker Academic).

Dr. Gibbs then explains that some believers are leaving that worship environment behind in sea…

God's love revealed in Jesus

Can you feel the love?  In the power of the gospel and the presence of the Holy Spirit the Church proclaims a Jesus that is the love of God made personally known to humanity.  The weeks leading up to Christmas are a perfect time to point to this love.  But then, that same message of love should be on our hearts and minds every week of the year. 

I’m reminded of when my friend said that after much searching he had finally found a congregation that he would call “home.”  The clincher for him was finding so much of the love of God there that he truly felt loved and accepted.  The pastor and the worship leader began nearly every service with confident and yet humble and gracious reminders of how completely God loves each person gathered there, and how much God loves every man, woman and child in the whole world. 

Everything in the service was done under the umbrella of God’s love, and during numerous visits my friend saw and experienced enough to know it was more than just words.  Now he …

The God Who Believes: the vicarious humanity of Jesus

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This post begins a series reviewing Christian Kettler's book, The God Who Believes - Faith, Doubt, and the Vicarious Humanity of Christ.  For other posts in the series, click a number: 234.

Dr. Kettler shows how Jesus, as the representative and substitute for all humanity, has faith on our behalf. To view a "You're Included" interview with Kettler, click here.

Fundamental to the thesis of Kettler's book, is the Christian doctrine of the vicarious humanity of Jesus Christ. Here are a few representative quotes:

"As common as it has been to consider Christ's death to be vicarious, carried out in our place and for us, what if we were to consider that the entirety of his humanity was lived vicariously for us and in our place?" (p. x).

"Can we say that Jesus believes, not just as an example of a believer, but believes for me and in my place vicariously, so that I can be helped in my unbelief (Mark 9:24)?" (p. xii).

"The nature of Chris…

Interview with Michael Horton in Christianity Today

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Michael Horton was interviewed in the November 2009 Christianity Today.  I find his comments both helpful and insightful, flowing as they do from a biblical understanding of the gospel of God's grace in Jesus. 
Here's part of what he says:
"In such a therapeutic, pragmatic, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps society as ours, the message of God having to do all the work in saving us comes as an offensive shot at our egos...The gospel has nothing to do with what I do. The gospel is entirely a message about what someone else has done not only for me but also for the renewal of the whole creation."You can read the full interview, titled "Christ at the Center," by clicking here. Let me know what you think.