Archive for November, 2009

The folks at Eternal Earth-Bound Pets offer a service guaranteed to ease your worries about the exegesis of Amillennialism and Premillennialism. For a $110 fee, Eternal Earth-Bound Pets will send a “confirmed atheist” to your home to take possession of your pets, should your entire family be caught up in the Rapture, leaving your “left behind” pooch without so much as a chew toy to see him through the Tribulation. It makes sense, in a way. Wouldn’t only the cold-hearted let their pets endure the Tribulation alone?images

Perhaps not, if you’re an Amillennialist or Postmillennialist, and can take care of your pets until the Second Coming. In fact, the services of Eternal Earth-Bound Pets would seem only to have a market among Pretribulationalists, and to a lesser extent, Midtribulationalists, who believe the Rapture will take place before or during the time of persecution.

The people at Eternal Earth-Bound Pets insist their service is not a joke, but it is hard not to discern their parody with catchphrases like “Committed to step in when you step up to Jesus.” Perhaps the founders spent a bit too much time surfing the various Wikipedia pages on eschatology, which are adorned with chronological maps of competing end-times schemes. All the same, one measure of serious thought has gone into Eternal Earth-Bound Pets’ terms and conditions: “If subscriber loses his/her faith and/or the Rapture occurs and subscriber is not Raptured . . . EE-BP disclaims any liability; no refund will be tendered.”


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Great Sermon on a current series, entitled The Ripple Effect.   Despite Hamel’s nasal cartoon voice, he has some very interesting things to say regarding the state of the church which may shock you, as well as some illuminating ways we can as a church body–together–bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus and not just “marketing Jesus” around the dictates of culture.  

Profound Statistics of the church at large, and how to create vision for Christ and be effective in the culture through the Spirit.


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A Must Read!!!

Carl E. Braaten & Robert W. Jenson, eds.
Early in 2003 a group of sixteen theologians from various church traditions published “The Princeton Proposal,” a current and critical statement on the present state and future possibilities of modern ecumenism. The Ecumenical Future, then, illuminates the scholarly studies behind the development of “The Princeton Proposal” in the form of fourteen essays that provide a focused examination of the issues that still divide the church and of the common ground that is still mutually to be discovered.
Contributors:  William J. Abraham, P. Mark Achtemeier, Brian E. Daley, S.J., John H. Erickson, Vigen Guroian, Lois Malcolm, R. R. Reno, Michael Root, William G. Rusch, Geoffrey Wainwright, Susan K. Wood, Telford Work, David S. Yeago

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Blaise Pascal (1623-62), in his wonderful book of seminal axioms and paradoxes entitled, Pensees [Thoughts], he says the following,

 “Movements of abjectness are necessary, arising not from nature, but of repentance, not in order to stay in it, but as a step to greatness. We need moments of greatness, arising not from merit but from grace, having passed through the state of abjectness. If man is not made for God, why is he only happy with God?  If man is made for God, why is he so hostile to God?  Man does not know on which level to put himself. He is obviously lost and has fallen from his true place without being abdle to find it again.   He looks for it everywhere relentlessly and unsucessfully in inpenetrable darkness.  We want truth and find only uncertainty in ourselves. We search for happiness and only find wretchedness and death….This desire has been left in us as much to punish us as to make us realize where we have fallen from.”

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Psalm 51–A Translation

It is because of your grace and mercy,349912651_955154c490

And the love you have put on display,

In the bosom of Christ, my sins, forever wiped away.

Because of Your Son, Tread me, O God, through and through and obliterate my stains.

Each moment of consciousness, you call out my secret name, whose purpose is to  bring glory and honor to your great fame.

A reflection of you, my purpose is to be, hidden in Christ, a life that is set free.  I am also reminded of my running from You; my incessant defection and choosing sides which bolster my own ego and satisfy even deeper lusts.  It seems the more distance I make, the more my feet cover with sores that fester and ooze.

Against You only, have I wandered away,

Placing lifeless and illusory idols before so Holy and gracious a God. Forgive me.

You speak and it is—justice, and Your judgment is perfect in every way, never failing to bring about good in what you have created.

From the moment of my birth, I was taught to hide from you; to cover over ancient guilt with leaves and skins.

The truth You give is never an outside in effort, it is always inside out process of transformation; it is wisdom, knowledge and joy that you reveal in the secret depths of humanity to ripen and bear fruit at a time you only know.

Remove without trace, the stains covering my face, and may the sounds I now hear resounding, be to me,  new joy and new grace.

My crushed body now rejoices, because of your mercy.

You look no more at my offenses and you cancel my debt.

Completely cut away my stony heart, and fashion it new with flesh.

It is in your presence that causes me to rest, so don’t give up on me, so that through Christ I can give you my best

May I know again what I have been saved from–and saved to–and keep my feet forward to walk on paths you have chosen for me to tread, and Lord continue my daily bread.

Deliver me from my bloodlust, for God you are mighty to save.

Give me breath to tell of Your glory, and put You on display.

You do not take pleasure in life-less displays, but broken hearts of surrender, are the perfect sacrifices of praise.

Repair my broken walls for your good pleasure, and on your Altar, I will put my surrendered life.

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Austin Farrer was the Warden of Keble College, Oxford from 1960-68.  This humble and yet profoundly imaginative disciple of Christ employed a myriad of gorgeous metaphors for encapsulating hard theological concepts in such a way that he left an imprint on one’s mind for the topics he was speaking on.

Farrer reflects in his sermon, Always Beginning, that:

“scientists have given us the impression that they have taken over the job of God” and that God is therefore impotent and a “nice thing” to think about from time time when your bored.  But the truth is that when we consider new evidences for the immensity of the universe, and science itself, and what it reveals to us, we are more baffled than previous generations. Take a moment right now, and look at the new Hubble space images and ask yourself while viewing them, “what is God up to?” “why do I exist at all?” “How can it be that a universe can allow for self-awareness/conscience at all?”  The axiom, “the more we know, the more we see we don’t” actually rings so true.  Ecclesiastes’ remarks that “God has put the world in men’s minds, so that man is baffled to find out the work God has done first and last–and the more world He has thrown us, the more baffled we are.  Even more, Farrer says, “God has put God into our minds, and therefore we are always beginning and always on the verge of possession.”   Science itself, with its endless specializations and realms of specific knowledge about certain aspects of things, tries to master that domain, and stake a claim to it, as if there was no more to be learned from that field of study–only to be humbly faced with the reality that there are deeper layers with vast, unknown vistas, that are just beyond our reach.

“God has put God into our minds.”  “God himself is all of piece,” Farrer states, and that “one cannot take pieces from God and master him bit by bit.”  This seems true in our own spiritual journey’s as well, in that, we never seem to have made an assured beginning. Even the most celebrated saints like Mother Teresa would say that looking back with thankful amazement of what God has done through her, that she would at the same time say that she was as far as ever from laying hold on God.  Bless you dear Teresa.

Jesus had his heart set on the Kingdom of His Abba Father–that God’s infinite goodness should infinitely prevail in all things.  There are many who profess the Christian name. Some Christians see themselves as having already “arrived”  and out of arrogance and  false presumption of having seen into the magnificent spaces of the grandeur of God look at this world,  and God’s people, with eyes of vicious judgement and sanctimony.  While others, are secret agnostics who take the name Christian, but do not believe in the heavenly hope that Christ has promised to us all.  Farrer says that  the people with the latter perspective say to themselves, “there may be a bonus after death–only better not count on it.”  Christianity cannot survive the amputation of such a limb as the life to come.  Again Farrer says, “FOR GOD HAS PUT INFINITY INTO OUR MINDS, and if we cannot stretch out for him beyond the little beginnings we are allowed, then we must let go of God and loose Him wholly. For we can only have God, if God has us–and if he will not make a job of us and bring us to union with his glorious infinity, how can we believe that he has taken hold of us all? What is our salvation, but that we are in the hands of God?”

It seems this life is always a beginning, and because of the infinity of God, heaven is always a beginning–indeed, which for those that have firmly and courageously begun.  Anything that we have experienced in this life as being lovely or good, always increases our desire for the delight to which it points and leads us on–as we walk the way we are drawn into the very thought and action of God.

Jesus says, “behold I make all things new.”  Be sure of this, there is no coming to the end of God; the more we know of Him and His ways and the way he delights in us, the many more avenues will emerge for God to continue to reveal Himself to us.  It is Christ’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom, as God the Father gave it to Jesus.  We must be patient as God shapes us by His providence through our failures, presumptions and arrogance.  God’s agenda is about beginnings and never endings.   Just as, “God in the beginning, created out of nothing,” God in Christ is wanting to create and and develop a people who are bound by this logic of beginnings, and to be claimed by this singular promise of being reconciled to God by the death and resurrection of Jesus, and that by faith in His grace, in which we stand, we too, can know our own beginning as it unfolds in Him.

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H.R. Macintosh used to remind his students that, “Jesus was not a Christian”.  For a Christian is a broken sinner with no excuses left for him/herself, whose sins and have been saved by Christ. But Christ was not a sinner who needed forgiveness.  Our approach to Christ must be a Christian approach, namely that we must not try to look at Jesus in such a way as to gain entry into His religion, that is in His own private relation to God the Father. We can only approach Jesus as desperate sinners who need the mediation of Christ in order to go to the father; we can approach Christ only in acknowledging his uniqueness and sinlessness on the one hand, and on the other in yielding ourselves to Him, in obedient conformity to His saving grace and as sinners desperately in need of Him.

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