Late Modern or Post-modern?

Timothy Keller challenges us once again to think through some of our assumptions about this time, maybe too quickly labeled "post-modern." Keller questions whether our labels are justified in the personal accounts of this generation. Towards the end of his blog post, "Late Modern or Post-modern?" Keller writes,

"The underlying thread that ties all this together is the inconceivability of a moral order based on an authority more fundamental than one’s own reason or experience. That was the founding principle of the Enlightenment, and that is the cornerstone of the most recent generation. So how can we say the Enlightenment is over?"

Interesting. What do you think? And does the label matter as much as the question of gospel presentation? Or, is gospel presentation more effective with an understanding of the former?

All good questions to think during my lunch break at my desk!

Think Hard, Stay Humble: The Life of the Mind and the Peril of Pride Desiring God 2010 National Conference

Here is something to start off your morning... a message from Francis Chan that he gave this past weekend at the Desiring God National Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I woke up this morning still thinking about it and challenged by it in my morning devotions (ironically on the self-centeredness of Saul). Anyway, if you feel like meditating on 1 Corinthians 8:1-3 and growing a heart for your brothers and sisters, you better listen.

Think Hard, Stay Humble: The Life of the Mind and the Peril of Pride on DesiringGod.org

via Think Hard, Stay Humble: The Life of the Mind and the Peril of Pride Desiring God 2010 National Conference Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God - Desiring God.

THINK

When I worked in Austin, Texas, I saw this bumper sticker in the parking lot of the university I worked for: "Don't pray in my school and I won't think in your church"

I realize bumper stickers are often cowardly ways to make big, bold statements, but this one rubbed me the wrong way. I wrote this blog post in reflection.

Now, three years later, I want to add a postscript to that blog post. John Piper has a new book out called, "Think" and it examines the questions so many raise and so few answer. Why do we have a mind? What is the purpose of thinking?

The Desiring God National Conference was actually going on this weekend and focused on just that - using our minds to glorify God, enjoy Him and share Him. I get goosebumps thinking about how our minds are made to glorify our Creator!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3F1V2fZS7yA]

I'm off to worship this morning in spirit and in truth... glad for God's design to engage my thoughts with His thoughts.

I wish I could post this video on the back of my car in bumper sticker form. Better yet, I wish I could live life proving this video true. How about that for a rebuttal?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5mAd38EHoo]

Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow!

let LOVE FLY like cRaZY.

Intentional about doing good

Christians have a bum rap. Whether or not this title is earned, many people look to Christians for examples of ultimate hypocrisy (oh, how little has changed in thousands of years!) instead of examples of ultimate servants. I was reading this article over at the Desiring God blog and I really believe it's a message we need to allow to take root in our hearts.

I'll admit, Christians can be so stubborn and fearful about theology that we miss the point in living out what theology tells us. In our absence, others step in and try a hand at serving, loving, and giving without the power of redemption at the center. Their efforts, no matter how amazing, simply cannot take the place of life-altering redemption and a secure eternity.

The world is groaning (Romans 8:22) for redemption and (NEWSFLASH) Christians aren't the only ones feeling the pains of childbirth. The human race, along with creation, is desperate to right the wrong condition of things.

But, there is only one option for redemption and that is through Christ. And in Christ alone I am qualified to do good works.

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work." (2 Corinthians 9:8 ESV)

If the God of the universe is making all grace abound to me, so that I may abound in every good work, I think it is important to seek out the workThink of it - God is sufficient in all things and at all times and it is HE who makes me able to abound in every good work.

I believe God is calling us to Himself... calling us to obey... and calling us to live in the delight that will come as a result of our committed hearts (Ecclesiastes 5:20 and 2 Chronicles 16:9) working in day-to-day acts of service.

I want to live BELIEVING so strongly in God's story of redemption that I wake up LOOKING for ways to abound in every good work. It's not charity or public policy or brownie points... it's simply life lived in the bounty of His grace to the glory of His name!

Here is the article from the Desiring God Blog, written by Matt Perman as he prepared to speak at the upcoming conference: Christians Are to Be Proactive in Doing Good.

are you going to

.let LOVE FLY like cRaZY.

Reflections on Bonhoeffer

Cover of I scanned the last sentence of Eric Metaxas's Bonhoeffer and it was regret that stared back when I saw the next page titled, "NOTES."

Over 500 pages of a beautiful submersion into a life lived completely and I find myself wishing the book were longer so that I could walk next to someone who understood how theology spilled out into and gave purpose to *viviology (knowledge, study, and act of life or living).

Few people, especially those blessed with academic minds, are able to meet the needs of the former without sacrificing the demands of the latter. Bonhoeffer refused to only stand behind a podium in the high brow, organized classrooms of universities and behind closed doors of churches. The more he learned and studied, the greater he felt pulled toward living out the Truth he so passionately taught.

I love how he didn't abandon the books and the study to live among the people in radical opposition to his intellectual contemporaries' expectations.

Bonhoeffer saw, in his travels to the United States, what could happen when people step away from Truth and place something else at the center. He traveled to the US first in 1930 to study and teach at Union University and then again briefly in 1939 to consider a teaching position. Both trips were filled with the realization that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is and will always at the center of Christianity. This is what he said during his first visit,

"The sermon has been reduced to parenthetical church remarks about newspaper events. As long as I've been here, I have heard only one sermon in which you could hear something like a genuine proclamation ... One big question continually attracting my attention in view of these facts is whether one here really can still speak of Christianity, ... There's no sense to expect the fruits where the Word really is no longer being preached. But then what becomes of Christianity per se?

The enlightened American, rather than viewing all this with skepticism, instead welcomes it as an example of progress.

...

In New York, they preach about virtually everything; only one thing is not addressed, or is addressed so rarely that I have as yet been unable to hear it, namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the cross, sin and forgiveness, death and life."

It's funny ... how timely these words are today. Maybe "sad" better describes how far we've come since Bonhoeffer's evaluation in 1930. We preach on "virtually everything" but what will reach, save, and transform lives. We preach on trees and health and wealth and all the ways the world is evil, but we don't preach Christ. Could it be because we are scared of the price? Bonhoeffer's approach to life was, in large part, informed by God's approach to grace and discipleship.

We want the discounted version - the less painful, less costly kind of grace - but with the full benefits of its original value. In what he would call "cheap grace," Bonhoeffer explains how we do ourselves a disservice in settling for something less than what God originally intended (by straying from Jesus Christ at the center of the Good News). In his book, "Cost of Discipleship," he says,

"cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church disciplineCommunion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ."

We've created a grace that strips it of all its power. When we're done sermonizing, what we've given people is at best hollow and full of despair. There is no life in it. In contrast, is this costly grace:

"costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. It is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." "

I still cannot figure out how Bonhoeffer merged his knowledge with his life, but I can certainly see that he did. For three months in 1931, he conducted confirmation classes in rough neighborhood of Wedding. He took the post shortly after being ordained and the zeal with which he approached the class of fifty boys might have been characteristic of a new minister, but the care and perseverance he applied in every aspect of his teaching was unique. His life with those boys emphasized community and sacrifice. The textbook was not drudgery, opened with great pain and resistance. The Text was carried around in their hearts and gave the greatest joy to its living out.

Even as the very church he helped to build up (The Confessing Church) failed to stand for Truth when it mattered most, Bonhoeffer's resolve grew only stronger. He believed that he had been "grasped" by God - that he had been chosen for something. But, that something was only important because of (and dependent on) the God who decides to break through and use people, sermons, and situations for His glorious purposes.

He resolved to not only preach Christ and Him crucified, as Paul declared in his letter to the church in Corinth, but he endeavored to LIVE in obedience to Christ's costly call to follow as a disciple.

How do we marry Theology and *Vivology?

I think it means knowing the Word so well it becomes a part of you. I think it means keeping your bookshelves loaded and guarding time for study, even if technically no longer a student. I think it means dedicating uninterrupted times of prayer. I think it means loving Truth because you believe in your deepest soul it redeems and reveals life. I think it means fellowship around campfires and crazy games of soccer. I think it means coffee and conversation and debate. I think it means keeping Jesus Christ at the center - recognizing that every good gift is only good because God wills it to be so.

And, I think it means delighting in this life. I think it means being deliberate about our thanksgiving - walking in each day knowing that God's glory is what shines bright to reveal He is at the center.

I must end this musing here, but I promise I will continue to ponder. Until then, would you, with me,

.let LOVE FLY like cRaZY.

*I might have just made up this word, but give me credit because it's got two parts that should work together - viv is the latin/greek root word meaning "live" and ology is a suffix used to describe bodies of knowledge. I'm trying to say that, just like we aspire to grasp theology, we must also pursue a grasp of vivology and a combination of the two. What is knowledge of God without a life lived out as a result of that knowledge? And really, how does one know about 'living,' exactly?

Also read: interview with Metaxas by Justin Taylor at the Gospel Coalition blog blog reflections on Lent, self-denial, life and Bonhoeffer by Brett McCracken

pursuing lower pleasures

Here's something I wrote in May when my friend Heather was visiting, but it certainly applies to tonight. I just got home from a MARVELOUS night of capture the flag with my favorite seniors, then dinner, then dinner #2, and then various antics following. I think my joy almost burst a couple times I was so full of it! I laughed and laughed and laughed and I praise God for every surprising snort and crazy convulsion. I love laughter. I will have to write more about that later. For now, enjoy this REPOST from May.

-------------------- After a crazy day, an afternoon filled with charades and catch phrase and laughter, and a typically cheesy serenade for the 11th grade girls... Heather and I went for coffee and finally caught up a bit. I chose the Latte Au-Lait, which means I am now WIDE awake and she's zonked out (getting the sleep she needs so we can leave at 5:45 am to lead worship tomorrow at staff devotions).

I just want to write something quick tonight... maybe it will turn into a poem, but right now it's just thoughts about pleasure. As I think about the students and this culture and (maybe) popular culture in general, I decide that our greatest sin is pursuing lower pleasures. I know C.S. Lewis probably illustrated this idea more deeply than my brain can think it right now, but still it seemed a mini-revelation tonight.

God promises in Psalm 16:11 that in His presence there is FULLNESS of JOY and at His right hand there are PLEASURES forevermore. Wow! What a promise!

God promises the kind of joy that bursts out from inside our souls and overflows to uncontrollable laughter... the kind of joy that you can't keep from showing on your face... the kind of joy you can't wait to share with everyone you meet... the kind of joy that makes your heart feel like fire and makes you want to dance and shout and play in the rain...

NOT ONLY that, but also pleasures forevermore. God offers us pleasure that never ends - He created us with the desire for pleasures forevermore and He is delighted when we pursue the highest kind. He planted that little seed inside us, in the soil of our humanity, that tries to break the surface and soar toward the sun... all the ways our humanity longs to have pleasure can be traced back to the way we were created in His image to experience pleasures forevermore.

The moment I decide to pursue a less pleasurable pleasure than what I was created for, I am choosing sin. I know, it sounds confusing. Usually we associate pleasure with sin, but right now I am saying that we sin when we pursue less pleasure or lower pleasure. Because I know God created me and placed in me a desire to have infinite joy and pleasure, I know that anything less than a pursuit of THAT means two things:1. I am not experiencing the most pleasure possible (can only be found in and through God)2. I am trying to make lower pleasures fulfill my God-given desires for the BEST pleasure (which, of course is a fail from the start).

God created us, knows us, and delights when we are absolutely bursting with joy.

‘Green Awakenings’ and Missing the Point of God’s Story

I'm re-posting this story because I could not afford to pass it up. This so clearly articulates what my emotions seem to keep me from saying. After studying at a Christian liberal arts college and then working at a different liberal arts college for a year, I have grown to respect "creation care" with a healthy disdain for its deception. Deception? You ask.

Yes, deception. When we are torn from the MAIN THING and convinced that other things are just as important, we have lost sight of Truth. As you can read in this article, we can even cleverly REPLACE the central message of the Gospel with a different message entirely.

NEWSFLASH: The new message doesn't save.

Read the article here: ‘Green Awakenings’ and Missing the Point of God’s Story.

What is The Point of "Think" by John Piper?

John Stephen Piper

My morning perusal of all my favorite twitter friends led me to an article about Piper's new book "Think."

After the initial shock of the realization that I needed to add yet ANOTHER Piper book to my list of "to-read," I am thoroughly excited about the questions confronted in this book and the honest replies that point to Scripture alone.

Madison, WI pastor Zach Nielson posted an excerpt from pages 26-27 that has me wanting to read pages 1-25.

Read it here: What is The Point of "Think" by John Piper?.

Christianity, A Peace-Fueled Battle

Read this article posted on The Gospel Coalition website by Dane Ortlund. It hits exactly on what has been on my mind so much lately - war, peace, and Germany in the mid 1900s. It also reminds me of C.S. Lewis and his writing on living as a civilian during wartime, as opposed to a soldier.

All interesting thoughts... what are yours?

Christianity, A Peace-Fueled Battle.

Bonhoeffer, Baked Cookies, and Bible study

Dietrich Bonhoeffer - among others - lecturer ...

What could Bonhoeffer possibly have in common with baked cookies and isn't the Bible a bit of a stretch?

Well, for starters - the letter B!

They all draw a crowd... they are all misunderstood (Bonhoeffer for his theological views and stubborn opinions on Truth and baked cookies for the way they almost always promise to satisfy a sad heart, but only reach the tummy and the Bible for its claim at absolute that is rejected)... they are all a wonderful addition to any evening, especially with a cup of tea... they are all enjoyed with friends...

If you are still puzzled, let me explain.

Bonhoeffer Lately, I have been reading the biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas. I first read Amazing Grace by Metaxas and, by the end, felt I had walked alongside William Wilberforce as he painstakingly claimed ground for abolition of the slave trade. When I heard he'd written on Bonhoeffer (Cost of Discipleship and Life Together), I couldn't be more excited to know more about the life of the man who was a scholar, pastor, theologian, spy, and conspirator.

I love it. I can hardly put it down. What I keep finding so amazing is the way the Lord allowed this willing servant to understand so much and be rejected so often, yet remain determined to preach Truth without fear. To read some of Bonhoeffer's sermons, written on the brink of Hitler's propaganda-run takeover of Germany, you would be convinced the man had insider information. His background as a scholar and a pastor allowed for his pragmatic presentation of the Gospel Truth (to everyone from impoverished confirmation class ruffians to some of the most influential leaders of the Third Reich), while his pleasant demeanor made it difficult for anyone to find fault with him. Not unlike many of the Old Testament prophets, Bonhoeffer really was a lone voice crying out against the injustices of a nation and pointing to the Truth that exposed it. Also, like many OT prophets, he was rejected by the people. My favorite part is the way God used the people's rejection to allow for a Confessing Church to emerge and doggedly fight in the midst of a monster that was Nazi Germany from the inside.

Baked cookies Fresh-baked cookies are infamous for their mesmerizing effect on a person. Most notably as of late, is the effect they have on my students when I bake and bring them to school. No matter what the occasion, at the sight of anything carried in tupperware, a crowd instantly appears (all of whom have not had anything to eat in days). The strangest thing is, after several periods, the very same students who devoured the freshly-baked goods are back snooping around my office for more of the same treatment.

Interesting, I say. Very interesting...

Bible Study Tonight was the first night two friends and I met for a Bible study (which, in itself is extremely exciting for me to be engaging with peers). As we worked through the first couple lessons in Beth Moore's study of David, I realized how much I missed reading the Word in community.

I recently watched a John Piper sermon called "The Sinful Origin of the Son of Man" and I am so thankful for the way it prepared me to see Israel's demand for a king as sin, but God's mysterious ways of revealing Himself (even choosing to reveal Himself) by way of man's "great wickedness."

I loved examining the Scriptures and returning to the same Scripture in community to really unpack the meaning. There are so many things to digest - from Samuel's obedience and patience to David's ruddy and handsome features (at age 12?). If I could write one take-away, I would refuse... and then I'd give in and talk about 2 Chronicles 16:9

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him...” (2 Chronicles 16:9 ESV)

After God calls Samuel out of his grieving to go and appoint a new king, and after Samuel obeys but assumes wrongly the next king would look the king's part, and after Samuel finally waits for the "okay" to appoint the most unlikely of candidates... we realize that the heart God has found to be "blameless" (ESV), "completely His" (NASV),  and "loyal" (NKJV) is a heart that will soon have the weight of a nation on its shepherd shoulders.

What blows my mind is that when God searches the earth and finds hearts that are "fully committed" (NIV) to Him, it does not result in a first class ticket to heaven or a get out of jail free card or a receive a life of rest and relaxation pass. God finds those hearts and then gives great responsibility and even allows great burden in their lives. God promises to strengthen, encourage and hold up these hearts. If we are faithful in our full commitment, God will be faithful in equipping and strengthening us for the great tasks that lay ahead.

Bottom line (totally unintentional use of the letter B here) We (humans) have an appetite. Bonhoeffer's appetite for Truth led him to a deep love of God and a deep conviction for Truth to be preached without shame or censor. Our insatiable appetite for cookies reveals our deeper desire to be FILLED with something that does satisfy. Bible study is what APPETITE is all about. We are meant to be FILLED with the Word - the Bread of Life. The more we eat, the hungrier we are. That's the beauty of Truth... it is at the same time the most filling and the most appetizing thing we'll ever taste.

Mmmm... this Tuesday is tasting SO GOOD!

let LOVE FLY like cRaZY

sometimes...

This is a day of many sighs. They aren't all sad or overwhelmed, but there are just so many! As I sit in my office and finish up the tasks of the day, this sermon by Mark Driscoll is spurring me on:Jesus Heals the Paralytic:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Th8kw72uuBY]

What a great reminder of the humility it takes to approach how we live out this Christian life.