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Showing posts from September, 2013

Grace Alone, Faith Alone & The Chilean Miners

Romans 4:1-3 1  What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2  For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3  For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” i think our american culture bristles at the notion of "Grace Alone, Faith Alone".   "Sola Gratia", "Sola Fide"  were appropriated by the Reformers - Luther and Calvin, and others - to express their opposition to the Catholic ideas of Salvation thru the merits earned in the church. Well, the modern American doesn't believe in either option anymore, although that person is much more closer to the idea of "earning" salvation (if they even believe in Salvation)...or at least "earning entry into Heaven" on the basis of doing good, performing, doing the best they can. It probably insults the average person to think they cannot earn

In Praise of Little Known Poets - On This Date

On This Date – Sept. 27 th,  In Praise of Little Known Poets – Thomas Traherne died Sept 27, 1674. I didn't think to blog on Poets.  I am not one, although I have done a couple that I thought were ok.   My son, Christopher, is our family Poet.  He is good and I truly love reading what he has done.  And with his permission I will post some from time to time. I get this Church History page that lets me see what happened in History on this date.  That a little of google searching led me to a "little known poet" named Thomas Traherne. He was born in Hereford, England, a son of a shoemaker.  He was educated at Hereford Cathedral School and Brasenose College, Oxford, in 1652, achieving an MA in arts and divinity nine years later. For most of his career he served as a Parish Minister.  He did end it as a private chaplain to one of the officers of the royalty under Charles II.  He died on Sept. 27, being the 339th year since that day. He was not know

Pascal's Knowing and a Fool's Not

One of the greatest minds - not just spiritual, but minds in general - comes from the 17th century, Blaise Pascal.  A French believer, Pascal was home-schooled by his Father, a tax collector.  He was a brillant thinker who wrote extensively.  Trained in Mathematics, he was also an inventor, physicist, philosopher, and as stated, a writer.   I was introduced to Pascal in the early 1990's.  A group of friends met together every month as a book group (sorry Oprah, we were there first).  Our goal was to read one of the classics that all of us had not previously read and then over coffee and drinks, discuss what we read.  I had little knowledge of Pascal and had never read any of his writings.  We all agreed to read  Pensees .   Pensees  was written as an apology for his Christian faith...a defense of the faith in a society of increasing doubters and skeptics.  What's interesting is that Pascal didn't "sit down" to write this book - in fact, it's quite agreed

A Great Man A Lot of People Don't Know

On Sept 18, 1905,  a great author, poet, and Pastor, George MacDonald went home to be with His Lord. Today is the 108th anniversary of his death. Unfortunately, a lot of people have no idea who he was. You may not know him, but did you know he was the person who C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L`Engle both said most influenced their writings.  He was friends of such writers, even influenced them, as Mark Twain, G.K. Chesterton, Walt Whitman. As an  author he  who wrote with an amazing imagination, and utilized fantasy and fairy tales to share truth, morality and faith.  My introduction to MacDonald was years ago after reading a C.S. Lewis book in which he repeatedly referred to MacDonald's book Phantastes.   Lewis said that he had read the book and it changed his life because it opened up a world of imagination with faith.  I bought Phantastes  and it began my MacDonald appreciation. Born in 1824, in Scotland, MacDonald was raised in a farm family, but while many of his day stayed i

Home Sweet Home

One of the great joys of life is that I get to teach scripture.  I've been doing it for 40+ years and I have read the Bible through dozens of times.  Yet often I am startled, amazed at the words that appear. The bible has this ability to come alive and grab me, make me sit up and take notice. I remember years ago I was teaching a class of 20+ year old young adults.  I love teaching young adults because they are often first beginning to think through the implications of what faith means to them.  That's not necessarily true of all young adults.  Some of them, raised in households of faithful parents, often were dealing with those things at a much earlier age.  But in the absence of that, I saw many at those early 20's wrestle with issues of faith and seek understanding that was truly wonderful for me to be a part of. In one situation, as the class took a break, this beautiful young woman saw me in the hallway - on my way to get a cup of coffee.  I said hi and so did she

Really, Should We Even Be Using The Word "Depravity" Anymore?

29  They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, Romans 1:29 (NIV)  I began teaching through the book of Romans on Sept. 1st.  I began with a message, "The Good News is the Good News" and it culminated with -  Romans 1:17 (ESV)    "For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”   Beautiful in it's scope, the verse defines so amazingly the beauty of what God has done for us in Christ Jesus. Yesterday we dove into the latter part of chapter one and the message was entitled, "The Bad News is Bad News".  It is a diagnosis of depravity - there's that word again.  Depravity?  Depraved?  In a 21st century world is it even applicable anymore.  I think most people would say "Yes" when it's applied to an Adolph Hitler, a Ariel Castro, or any number of hum

Grace: When God Stooped

The Good News is Good News - the Gospel tells us that God has reached into our world and done something about the way we direct our lives.  SIN is nothing more than the pride of our own individual decisions that are often/usually selfishly made.  Sin is the decision to ignore God and do what we want to do -even if we still seek God's help and faithfulness. The answer to our Selfish, Sinfulness, is Grace.  Grace is God reaching into our lives and showing us a better way.  Grace is God helping us to step our of the false assumption of our own security and instead learn to "trust" God for the choices we make in following his commands. Grace is God's idea...and we should be glad he thought it up.  We love Grace...We use it almost everyday in various ways.  We have "grace periods".  We see people in the public eye who "fall from grace".  Musicians have a "grace note".  We speak of an artist, or dancer, or musician as "graceful"; a