death to self-righteousness

the Gospel ends self-righteousness.

ht to Timmy Brister

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two on suffering

first courtesy of Vitamin Z we get this comforting bit that we will never be able to fully explain the problem of evil but that we can trust God anyway:

So how do Christians explain the problem of evil?

The reality is, we can’t provide an exhaustive theodicy or explanation of the existence of evil.  Our minds cannot fully fathom “why.”

But, in his recommended book, Return to Reason, Kelly Clark, explains why Christians need not feel intellectually compromised if they cannot explain the existence of evil.  Here is how he concludes the discussion.

The Christian theist need not be troubled by is his ignorance of a theodicy.  This ignorance is not insincere, questionable or obscurantist.  Rather, it is quite consistent with his theistic beliefs.  The Christian theist will believe that God has a good reason for allowing evil, although  he does not know what it is or know it in any detail.  He believes that God has a good reason because of God’s redemptive incarnational revelation.  It is not rationally incumbent upon the theist to produce a successful theodicy; the theist, in order to be rational, must simply believe that God has a good reason for allowing evil.  A God who shares in our pain, who redeems our sorrows and our shortcomings, who wipes away ever tear, is surely a good God. (page 89).

and then Halim Suh is making plans. He is thinking about what he wants his friends to tell him when suffering comes in his life. It is so very helpful to have right theology and right thinking about suffering firmly in place in your mind before the suffering hits. before the cancer diagnosis, before the layoff, before the horrible accident etc. etc. Here are some of Halim’s prospective advices to himself. Go read the rest.

Yesterday in our book group, we were discussing suffering. Honestly, I haven’t endured a lot of suffering, yet, in this life. Especially not the tragic, life-changes-in-a-moment kind of suffering. But, only the Lord knows if it is coming. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I would want people to tell me if I do go through a crisis – and these are things that I think I would need to hear:

Tell me that there is a God in heaven, who made the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. Remind me that my crisis, my suffering, is not a surprise to Him, and that it has not happened outside of His control. Tell me that my God has a purpose in everything – my suffering included. Remind me that He is the God who sees everything – not one thing has ever escaped His attention. He sees me now.
….
Tell me that there is a Savior that suffered – a lot more than I can ever imagine. No matter how much suffering I am enduring, remind me that Jesus suffered so much more, infinitely more. Tell me that He can comfort me because He knows my pain. He knows my suffering. Tell me that my Jesus is there.

Tell me that God loves me with a fierce love – the kind that rips open seas, that drowns armies, that throws hailstones from heaven, that shuts up lions’ mouths, that saves from consuming fires, that heals the lame, that feeds the hungry and that conquers death. Remind me that my God loves me like that. And that this God doesn’t change, nor does His love for me change. So, if He has ordained suffering in my life, He is still loving me – although I may not see it or understand it.

Halim is one of the staff at Austin Stone Community Church.

Body metaphor

Randy Alcorn posts an excerpt from Philip D. Kenneson’s Life On The Vine: Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit in Christian Community (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999). I agree that we should probably all spend some time thinking a bit about what Kenneson says here:

This [the church as a body] is only one important lesson that reflecting on the metaphor of the church as the body of Christ might teach us. Given the rampant individualism that pervades much congregational life, the contemporary church in this country would do well to reflect seriously on this metaphor. For example:

Bodies are wrongly understood if their parts are considered to be in some way more fundamental than the body itself. The parts exist to serve the well-being of the entire body, a well-being in which each part participates and facilitates to the extent that it looks beyond its own immediate welfare.

Bodies are wrongly understood if they are regarded as conglomerates of parts that have their own integrity apart from the body. No one would mistake a severed finger on the sidewalk for a body. Such a condition is not only a problem for the part but a problem for the entire body.

Bodies are wrongly understood if their parts are considered to have unmediated access to the head. Each body part facilitates and participates in vital connections to the head, yet none can sustain this connection to the head alone.

this is also amazing

this is also amazing, but in a different way. surely at some point people will get really sick and tired of being hectored by someone who thinks they know better than everybody else. surely? Doesn’t he realize this country has a system of local school districts that run and pay for schools?

WASHINGTON — Students beware: The summer vacation you just enjoyed could be sharply curtailed if President Barack Obama gets his way.

Obama says American kids spend too little time in school, putting them at a disadvantage with other students around the globe.

“Now, I know longer school days and school years are not wildly popular ideas,” the president said earlier this year. “Not with Malia and Sasha, not in my family, and probably not in yours. But the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom.”

The president, who has a sixth-grader and a third-grader, wants schools to add time to classes, to stay open late and to let kids in on weekends so they have a safe place to go.

“Our school calendar is based upon the agrarian economy and not too many of our kids are working the fields today,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.

How out of control is the modern conception of central government power when the President thinks it is ok to casually suggest that the schools whose utilities are paid for by local property taxpayers should be open on weekends? no skin off his nose, is it?

Just wow. this little example here has it all in one package: arrogance, condescension, out of control aggrandizement of absolute power and we all get stuck with the bill.

this is amazing

everybody has seen this already, but the man is amazing.

HT to Ed Morissey.

emerging church conversation

Here is an interesting interview by Trevin Wax of Robbie Sagers about the emerging church. Trevin is a blogger and Robbie is a PhD student and special assistant to Dr. Russell Moore.

Robbie has contributed a chapter to Evangelicals Engaging Emergent: A Discussion of the Emergent Church Movement (B&H, 2009).

here is a bit of the interview, but take some time to go read the whole thing.  very interesting stuff:

Trevin Wax: What will the long-range impact of the Emerging Church be on evangelicalism?

Robbie Sagers: That’s a very good question, and I think that only time will tell what – if any – lasting impact the emerging church movement will have on evangelicalism.

Part of that uncertainty is due to the somewhat shifting nature of evangelicalism itself; after all, what is an evangelical? (A question for another day, perhaps!)

Regardless, these last months certainly do seem to have indicated the demise of the emerging church movement, at least in terms of comparing it to the furor surrounding the movement in recent years. After all, fewer books are being published by self-identified emerging church adherents, less conferences planned, Emergent Village has been disbanded, and some of the movement’s key leaders are now deeply entrenched not primarily in the churchper se but rather in national politics–or, at least in one case, running for political office themselves.

I can tell you what I hope the long-range impact of evangelicalism will be. My hope is that conservative evangelicals, after having endured from some segments of the emerging church movement a challenge to doctrinal orthodoxy and orthopraxy, will avoid the temptation to a more-doctrinal-than-thou mentality that can be destructive to the soul. False teaching should be pointed out, yes, and corrected when possible. And there certainly is a place, biblically speaking, for sharp language in pointing out wolves among sheep. But such words should be spoken not with triumphalism, but rather with sobriety, in love.

Instead, I hope that evangelicals will discern humbly, through the lens of the Scriptures, those weak spots that led to some emerging church adherents’ exploitations of certain aspects of evangelicalism in the first place.

HT to Dr. Moore who adds:

Sagers is also correct to note that the criticisms of traditional conservative evangelical theology and spirituality and missiology is often on target in its diagnosis, if not always in its solution. American evangelicalism is indeed too captive to a story-less rationalism in both its academy and in its pulpits, just in different ways. The academy often seeks to replace mystery and paradox and narrative with syllogisms, true enough. Have conservative evangelicals in recent years often ignored issues of poverty, social justice, and the stewardship of the earth? Without a doubt. And evangelical churches often seek to replace story and water and bread and wine with principles, programs, ideas, and “worst of all” products to be bought and sold.

friday fotoes

these cool mornings feel very fallish. loving the change after a very long, very hot, very dry summer.
morning grass in autumn

capitol renovations are on the horizon. soon this will be covered up with scaffold.
capitol dome

Sunflower at 300mm