Friday, May 24, 2013

Walking from East to West | The Tapestry

"The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills,
and we are only the thread of the Pattern."

                              --Moiraine Damodred,
                                         The Wheel of Time.

Only God alone can weave the beautiful pattern of our lives.

SOME YEARS AGO, I was visiting a place known for making the best wedding saris in the world. They were the producers of saris rich in gold and silver threads, resplendent with an array of colors. With such intricacy of detail, I expected to see some elaborate system of machines that would boggle the mind in production. But this image could not have been further from the real scene.

Each sari was made individually by a father and son team. The father sat above the son on a platform, surrounded by several spools of thread that he would gather into his fingers. The son had only one task. At a nod from his father, he would move the shuttle from one side to the other and back again. This would then be repeated for hundreds of hours, until a magnificent pattern began to emerge.

The son certainly had the easier task. He was only to move at the father’s nod. But making use of these efforts, the father was working to an intricate end. All along, he had the design in his mind and was bringing the right threads together.

The more I reflect on my own life and study the lives of others, I am fascinated to see the design God has for each one of us individually, if we would only respond. As I have noted, God has created us for his purpose, and relationship, stewardship, and worship are built into this design.

God alone can weave a pattern from the disparate threads of our lives—whether suffering, success, joy, or heartache—and fashion a magnificent design. Perhaps today, if you will stop and reflect on it, you will see that the Father is seeking to weave a beautiful tapestry in your life.

Warm Regards,


"There is no doubt that God prepared me for this life I now lead, connecting the varied and ironic threads of my experience into a beautiful tapestry as He would see fit...

This is where my life was shaped. This is where my calling began. And this is where I very nearly ended it all, out of my own despair...

The full story only the tapestry can explain...

To try to begin to take it all in... It is nothing less than a tapestry woven skillfully and mysteriously by father and son--the elder nodding and the younger responding--a work whose beauty is revealed in fullness only upon its completion...

There is no greater discovery than seeing God as the author of your destiny.

I can hardly wait for heaven to put it all together--yes, even more."

The letter is from Ravi Zacharias' Think Again while the other quotes are from his autobiography, Walking from East to West: God in the Shadowspages 20, 28, and 240 (the final page).

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Godkiller

Iron Man: The Godkiller kicked off a three-part series earlier this year. While the other Avengers and the X-Men were dealing with other repercussions of what had happened during A v X with the Phoenix Force, Tony heads to deep space.

He searches for answers.

He searches for questions.

He searches for power.

He searches for resources.

Most of all, he searches.

With the revelation that there is something as powerful as the Phoenix Force out there, Tony needs to be prepared for whatever else might come. He needs to be informed. He must be ready.

"But is Iron Man truly ready for the final frontier?"

At the Citadel of Rapture, he meets up with a woman. As he leaves her chambers, his past comes back to haunt him.

He is unexpectedly arrested and meets another woman,  who explains why:

The Void Falcon is gone.
You are responsible.
You are guilty of deicide.

He retorts:

I have no idea what you're talking about.
If I murdered your god, I'm pretty damn sure I'd remember.

She goes on:

... Most would call it, the Phoenix.
It is gone.

Many days, we feel as if we stand in that second woman's shoes.

We want to say:

God is dead.
And, you killed him.

But, that's a lie.

If anything, we killed him. We might want to point to scientific theories (such as evolution, mirroring the fact that Stark is often used as a figurehead of science) or we might want to stick our finger out at the person next to us, we want to shove off the blame, we want to throw our neighbor under the buss. Still, we are to blame.

There is no one else to take the blame. There is no one to relieve us of our guilt. There is nothing that we can to to wash our hands of His blood.

But, that brings us back to the reason He died in the first place.

He was our scapegoat. We deserved the blame, the guilt, the Death... damnation. But, He chose to save us. He washes His own blood off of our fingertips. He bears our guilt. He removes our blame. He makes us as white as snow.

He does what we could never imagine doing for ourselves.

Still, we fear:

He is dead.

But, that's a lie.

He has risen.

Still, we fear:

He is not here.

But, that's a lie.

Although he has ascended and He sits at the right hand of the Father, we do not need to search for Him. We may want to navigate the stars, beginning a quest of our own... searching for God. But, we don't need to. He has revealed Himself to us.

He has shown His face through Christ. And, He has sent another... The Spirit.

The Spirit comforts us when we're at a loss for words. He guides us back to Christ's Word. He leads us to become faithful, fear-filled, and loving followers of God. And, He reminds us that although God may seem far away, He might seem dead, He remains alive and active.

He is here.

The heavens and earth declare it.

Ascension and Transfiguration | Oswald Chambers

We have no corresponding experience to the events in Our Lord's life after the Transfiguration...

His Cross is the door by which every member of the human race can enter into the life of God; by His Resurrection He has the right to give eternal life to any man, and by His Ascension Our Lord enters heaven and keeps the door open for humanity.

On the Mount of Ascension the Transfiguration is completed. If Jesus had gone to heaven from the Mount of Transfiguration, He would have gone alone; He would have been nothing more to us than a glorious Figure. But He turned His back on the glory, and came down from the mount to identify Himself with fallen humanity.

The Ascension is the consummation of the Transfiguration. Our Lord does now go back into His primal glory; but He does not go back simply as Son of God; He goes back to God as Son of Man as well as Son of God. There is now freedom of access for anyone straight to the very throne of God by the Ascension of the Son of Man... As Son of Man Jesus Christ has all power at the throne of God. He is King of kings and Lord of lords...

Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest a reflection for May 17th.

There are more quotes and memes from this devotional on our Facebook page!!!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Death of Lazarus | C. S. Lewis

"The world, knowing how all our real investments are beyond the grave, might expect us to be less concerned than other people who go in for what is called Higher Thought and tell us that 'death doesn't matter'; but we 'are not high-minded', we follow One who stood and wept at the grave of Lazarus--not, surely, because He was grieved that Mary and Martha wept, and sorrowed for their lack of faith (though some thus interpret) but because death, the punishment of sin, is even more horrible in His eyes than in ours.

The nature which He had created as God, the nature which He had assumed as Man, lay there before Him in its ignominy; a foul smell, food for worms. Though He was to revive it a moment later, He wept at the shame...

Of all men we hope the most of death; yet nothing will reconcile us to--well, its unnaturalness. We know that we were not made for it; we know how it crept into our destiny as an intruder; and we know Who has defeated it. Because Our Lord is risen we know that on one level it is an enemy already disarmed; but because we know that the natural level also is God's creation we cannot cease to fight against the death which mars it, as against all other blemishes upon it, against pain and poverty, barbarism and ignorance. Because we love something else more than this world we love even this world better than those who know no other.

This is from C. S. Lewis' Some Thoughts as shown on May 16 of The Business of Heaven.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Life of Disaster (Marvelous Man)

The video for this week's devotion is suggested for adults only.

Stan Lee's "World of Heroes" produces the "Chatroom of Solitude," a parody of the superhero lifestyle... which is a parody of life itself... a parody of a parody to bring it back closer to reality.

And, reality sucks.

Marvelous Man and the Sheriff from Eureka, Colin Ferguson, is the superman that every man dreams of being. He has super strength, flight, charisma, agility, everything that makes a man super. But, this clip reveals a life un-super. Although Marvelous Man has become marvelous in the sight of the world, his family has become a disaster zone.

His wife can't take care of herself or her children, his kids do not know what morality is, and his role as a father remains consistently vacant.

Somewhere along the way, Marvelous Man had a choice to make.... the world or his family... he left his family dry.

With the words "Do better next time," he remains optimistic, but still vacant.

He knows that lives are hanging in the balance, but he misses the fact that his family is hanging in the balance right now.

He took an oath to love and protect the people of Earth as if they were his own family. But, it seems as if he has begun to love and protect the people of Earth instead of his family.

This time of year is finals week for a lot of people, their grades are hanging in the balance. And, even in the busy world outside of finals week, there is no time available. There's work or school or other obligations that come up. It's hard to find time to be with people. You hardly get to see your friends let alone your family.

Still, we are called to have a life of balance. Many of our vocations must be a both/and... not an either/or. Specifically in Scripture, in the book of 1 Timothy where there is a list of suggestions for those who would be in charge of overseeing the church, one of the highlights is to be a man who "must manage his own household well, with all dignity." The overseers church is not only for his own benefit or the benefit of his office, but a benefit to those he oversees as an example of what life should be.

Many times the Pastor/Overseer feels that lives are hanging in the balance. He's set sail with his church's new projects and the wind of the Spirit is on his back, pushing him along at tremendous speeds. He doesn't realize that his family has already fallen overboard. The same can happen in any vocation.

My professor of Pastoral Ministry admitted that his life had been like that. He was highly involved with his church. A lot of beautiful things were happening, they were hungry for the Word, they were growing tremendously, and they kept adding more and more things to the church. It was a dream job for many church leaders.

And, then God called him away. He went to another church, a different setting.

Then, one day as he was wrestling around with his daughters after work, his wife couldn't help but say, "It's so nice to have a father back." He had not even noticed the sacrifice of his family for the church.

His role had been vacant for far too long.

But, even when we do realize this, even when we go back for a course correction, we must be careful. Marvelous Man, in this clip, flies back home to be with his family at the end. Unwittingly, he sacrifices his cause.

Whenever we course correct, it's tempting to go too far. We leave what we're doing completely behind in order to bring back the balance. Some way, it is necessary to gradually move back. Otherwise, we'll drop the plane that we're saving, the lives we're helping, in order to go back to the people we've been neglecting.

Especially at this time, as we're stressed out with school and finals. And, any time as we're pressured with work and life. It's important to remember both of our vocations... not just one or the other... It's important to remain involved with both... not neglecting one or the other. To be part of your family, to be with your friends, and still be able to be a student, a worker, and whatever else you may be called to be.

And, imagine, the strength of God, to be both the Good Shepard and the Pascal Lamb... the Glorified Lord and the Suffering Servant... the Supreme Judge and the Peaceful Mediator... the Appeasing Sacrifice and the Aaronic Blessing.

Through Christ we can be all things to all people. And, with the Holy Spirit we may hope that by all means some might be saved.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Christian Graduation Gifts

It's graduation time again!!!

If you're like me, you never know if or when or what to get anybody. Especially, when it's time for graduation. I mean, what can someone going off to college and the rest of their life really need?? .... It has to be vague enough that they can actually use it no matter what they do. But, personal enough to let them know that I really care and want the best for them.

Wouldn't it be great if it could also spiritually nurture them?

My solution, at least this year, is Loving God with all Your Mind by Gene Edward Veith.

His book describes how a Christian can still survive in this secular world. Actually, it goes a little farther than that. His book describes how a Christian can still thrive in this secular world.

Not only can a Christian learn things that aren't stereo-typically Christ-centered like science, art, or mechanics, in fact even these studies are part of their God-given and God-pleasing vocation. Veith discusses Modernism and Post Modernism, he tackles the problem of how to learn facts (such as biology) without getting mixed up with false theories (such as evolution). By doing so, the Christian not only learns, he or she is able to master the subject better than their unfaithful peers because they don't have as limiting of a philosophy.

I believe that all Christian High Schoolers and/or College Students should read this book.

I know that it really helped me to see a reason behind learning what I had to.

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A Bible would also be a great idea!!!

A pocket-size E.S.V. or N.I.V. would probably be the best. (I still use mine from High School.)

The N.I.V.'s a little easier to read. While, the E.S.V. isn't as difficult to read as some translations (such as the A.S.V). But, because it is so close to the original text there are some sections that might be a little rough.


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Study Bibles are also great!!!

The Lutheran Study Bible (E.S.V.) has great descriptions and outlines for each book at the beginning of the first chapter (with pictures!!!!). It has great feedback to answer basic questions while reading along. And, there are paragraphs set up in the footnotes if you want to go through the book as a daily devotional.

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The N.I.V. L.S.B.'s pretty good as well:

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And, there's even an Apologeticist Bible out there:

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There are also more colorful versions on sale out there. But, they tend to be pretty watered down and may confuse the reader when they come across a more-accurate version.

Or, if they're into T-Shirts:

Save The Storks has some pretty cool ones.

And, so does the American Chesterton Society!!!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Save The Storks (Cause)

                              What if there was a way to save 9 children a day...

                                                        15-25 children a week...

                                                                   800 children a year?

                              What if there was a way to help expecting mothers...

                                                        not by threatening threatening them...

                                                                   but by just informing them?

                              What if there was a way to solve a need that women have

                                                        not by beating them over the head with the Law...

                                                                   but by caring for them with the Gospel?

There is a way.

“We don’t want to intimidate anyone. We don’t want to force anyone. We just want to serve.” Dave is the Local Director for Save the Storks... “No one is offended by our activism,” he says. “We’re delivering a loving message in a strong way.”

Here’s what happens: a woman is walking up to an abortion clinic. She is approached by Dave or Daryl or another member of Save the Storks.

“Hi, how are you? Would you like a free ultrasound?”

This is the approach. There is no dangling rosary, no graphic pamphlet, no doom-and-gloom. Just an offer of free help from a non-threatening, friendly, smiling young person.

And then there is the Stork bus.

The stork was chosen as the mascot because of its comforting, unoffensive, nostalgic connection to motherhood and pregnancy. We can all remember old cartoons where a smiling stork would fly in a window and lay a swaddled baby in a crib.

What Dave and the others weren’t aware of until later is the text of Job 39:13-17.

The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully, but are her feathers and plumage like the stork’s?

[The stork cares for its young with the ostrich,]She abandons her eggs on the ground...
She forgets that a foot may crush them or that some wild animal may trample them.
She treats her young harshly, as if they were not her own,
with no fear that her labor may have been in vain.For God has deprived her of wisdom; He has not endowed her with understanding.

The Stork bus... is a bright, lovely blue on the outside, and the inside is clean and free of clutter, with a welcoming but no-nonsense clinical feel. There is a little couch for the mother to sit on and speak to a counselor, and a padded bench where she can lie comfortably.

The ultrasound machine pulls out from underneath the bench... operated only by a licensed sonographer... It isn’t the slightest bit cramped or unpleasant; these mothers get only the best. The completed bus with the ultrasound machine was paid for by private donations to the tune of about $140,000.

The Stork bus is by no means the first mobile ultrasound vehicle — it was Chris Slattery’s mobile sonogram bus that inspired Dave and Joe in the first place — but it may be the smallest, lightest, and most practical. It doesn’t require a permit or special permission to park. It will fit in a parking space or even at a meter...

So now this woman, who was going to go into an abortion clinic, is able to have a pregnancy test and a sonogram without ever reaching its doors...

Unlike the abortion clinic, the Storks and the pregnancy centers are in it for the long haul. They are going to get her what she needs to take care of herself and her baby, body and soul...

“The heart of this ministry is the Gospel... There are two causes every Christian should take up: orphans and widows. This encompasses both.”

It is part of Save the Storks’ mission that every woman who steps on the bus hears the Gospel message. While this may seem off-putting to some, to the Storks it is an essential aspect of caring for the mother that goes along with the physical support and counseling she will receive through the pregnancy center.

“She is just as important as that child... We aim to improve her quality of life… The major issue here is the devaluation of life, and the answer to every injustice on earth is the church of Jesus Christ.”

For more of this article, CLICK HERE.

For the Save The Storks website, CLICK HERE.

For their Facebook, CLICK HERE.

$7 a week saves a child.

The least you could do is by one of their awesome T-shirts.

What Part of the Gospel Is Optional?

The Myth that Really Happened | C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien

Tolkien helped Lewis find his faith in Jesus almost six years after their first introduction, on a sleepless night of heightened conversation with their mutual friend, Hugo Dyson. After that night, Lewis wrote, 'Now the story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us in the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it really happened...' (Read more about that night)

The excerpt from Mere Christianity isn't easy. Lewis echos Paul, with words about Jesus making us a new creation. Why? Wouldn't it be simpler, especially since humanity is already fashioned in God's image, to make us better, nicer, friendlier folk... and be done with it? We have to refer back to Paul's statement about a new creation in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” In that same chapter, Paul says that we groan and long for something more than this life, and that longing is only filled by Jesus. This idea is woven throughout Paul's letters and is supported by an often noted verse from Romans: "For all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory" (3:23).

Lewis is stating this same truth. The trap is within us, and the way out is not by accessorizing with faith in Jesus to “better ourselves” (thus producing nicer, more pleasant people), but by abandoning ourselves altogether and running headlong into the person of Jesus and his transforming work...

We are being fashioned into creatures who want for different bread and wine – the body and blood of Jesus. And, as we are shaped into such a people, the '
things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace,' as the 1922 British hymn reads. But this path is not easy. We can't hide under a bushel or sneak into Nicodemus-like darkness as it's happening. Instead, as Noah encountered when God told him to build a gargantuan boat in the middle of dry land, we must trust in him to complete the work he began in us as he prepares for the coming day, new creations in a new heaven and earth.

Original Source: C.S. Lewis Blog

Friday, May 10, 2013

Lord Jesus, Thou art Going Forth

Here's a neat Lenten hymn I stumbled across today. I thought of a new tune for it, but I'm not the best at recording music videos. Still, the lyrics are really neat as they are set up as a conversation between the Soul and Christ. Below I've slightly modified all but the last two verses: (Click to enlarge.)

1. The Soul: Lord Jesus, Thou art going forth.
For me Thy life to offer.
For me, a sinner from my birth,
who caused all that Thou must suffer.
Amen. The Hope of men.
I follow weeping.
Tears flow free,
Thy pain for all to see,
acquainted with grieving.

2. Jesus: O Soul, attend thou and behold.

The lamb, led now to slaughter.
My portion is the cup of old,
to rid man's sin, My Passion.
The night of sin's dread might,
I lead guilt-bearing.
Thee torn soul,
I make thee whole,
No need now of despairing.
3. 'Tis I, Lord Jesus, I confess,
who should have borne sin's wages.

And lost the peace of heavenly bliss,
through everlasting ages.
Instead, Thou goest now.
I'm watching, mourning.
Stripes for me,
that price for me,
a mercy never-ending.

4. O Soul, I take upon me now,

The pain thou shouldst have suffered.
Behold, with grace I thee endow,
Grace freely to thee offered.
The curse I choose
that thou might lose
the sting of death forever.
My gift of love from heaven above,
will ever give thee blessing.

5. What can I for such love divine
To Thee, Lord Jesus, render?
No merit has this heart of mine;
yet while I live, I'll tender.
Myself and all I own,
I serve loving.
When time's past,
take me at last,
to Thy blest home in glory.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Three Kisses | For the love of God

Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) must have had one of the toughest lives of all. “The subject of love consumed” him. Yet, “his commitment was contemplative.” “His life was lived as [only] a testimony to the love of God.” Although, he was born into a noble family, he decided to live the life of a chaste monk. And, he took many of his friends with him.

He weaved the song of the wisest man who ever lived into a practice which all of humanity could learn from. His obsession with love drew him closer to the Bride’s lover, Christ. But, it must have left him amiss within his personal life. He was able to shine a clear light on the purpose of the Song of Songs, but he remained unable (due to his vow) to live out the metaphor here on Earth. Perhaps, that is what fueled him to continue in proclaiming a romantic Gospel.

Bernard’s words remain, filled with inspiration and a profound understanding of the love of God and our reciprocal love for Him. As he treads through the often under-appreciated writing of Solomon, Bernard repetitively pulls out the single line, “Let Him kiss me with the kiss of His Mouth” and uses it to masterfully navigate the story of our relationship with our Lord as the Bride of Christ.

He is able to use this same imagery, based off of a completely human love, something most of his hearers would be able to understand and relate to, as instruction and insight to a completely divine love. First, before anything else, Bernard believed there must come a purgative worship and repentance, then an illuminated acknowledgement and understanding, and finally a contemplative unification in our relationship with God. His concept lays out a simple path that anyone should be able to follow.

(Others have pointed out how this path is like a mystical ladder, Purgative--Illuminative--Union or, to include the works of Solomon, Purgative/Proverbs--Illuminative/Ecclesiastes--Union/Song of Songs. Personally, I think that on Earth, we're mainly stuck going back and forth between the first two rungs. We do become unified with Christ in Baptism and as His Bride, but we can never fully see Him until we are with Him again in Paradise.)

At the climax of his piece, after already tying in the woman who washed Christ’s feet with her hair and the imagery of Christ’s promise to answer the door when knocked, Bernard adds the idea behind 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4: “Love is the highest of all our natural gifts, supremely so when it is rendered back to God, Who is its Source.”

To conclude, Bernard points out that the love of God should be so grand that He is never absent from our hearts, even in remaining nameless we should know whom we speak of. Just as Mary Magdalene had asked what they had done with him, her Savior, and the woman in Solomon’s Song said to let him kiss her, we are to have him at the forefront of our minds.

Besides giving a better understanding of Scripture and our relationship to God, Bernard was most-likely able to use this style of sermon to shock the audience into seeing their faith anew. The sensuality would probably be a draw to many people who would have refrained from the church spotlight otherwise. And, this sort of undying love would certainly play an effect during the time of the crusades.

With his educated background in rhetoric, grammar, and logic, along with his need to stand for what he saw as divinely inspired truth and move people to stand with him, Bernard did what he needed to do. He molded the text not only as a romance meaningful to him and his listener but also as a tool of influence and a description of the limitlessly dedicated life that every Christian should live. He unhesitatingly confronted the leaders of his time and remained aggressively and self-righteously active. As he preached the second Crusade, it was no coincidence that he saw such a contrast between physical works and the spiritual life. His concept of kisses surely led his followers unafraid toward the kiss of death.

Today, we may continue to be inspired by his words. We can continue to know a love as a deep and mysterious subject which continues to bring us closer to God. Although, we are not fighting in a full-scale crusade, his writings remain as comfort and support in the spiritual battles of our own.

The Comic Book Liberation Festival

Once a year comic books are finally liberated. They are freed from their shelves, their cost, and their storefronts. They can be freely taken home to join a family of their own.

They finally get to enjoy what they had always been meant for, to be read.

Sadly, this does not happen for all comic books. But, just the certain amount that have been chosen for that year.

God's grace is like this. Although, Christ's sacrifice only needed to happen once (as opposed to yearly), it liberates us (past, present, and future tense). We are freed from our bondage to sin, our curse of death, and the lordship of the Devil. We know that one day, we too will be freely taken home to join our eternal family in praise.

We get to enjoy what we had always been meant for, to lovingly worship God and the companionship of each other.

Wondrously, this gift has been given to all of us. There is no limited amount that have been chosen. We all have been hand selected. The deal was once and for all. Sadly, some people don't get that. They put up barriers. They walk away.

Although we know, any person who has been torn up, dirtied, and dumped in the garbage pile is still worthy to be taken home because they are liberated and free, they don't get it.

Or, there are people in pristine condition, signed, and wrinkle-free who choose to stay up on the shelf in fear of being ruined and read. They just don't get it either.

"One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want."

Ironically, faith is something none of us will really be able to completely understand either. But, we do know that we can trust and continue to believe. And, through the power of the Gospel, that continues to set us free...

Free to cling to Christ.

"We have received not the spirit of the world,
but the Spirit who is from God,
that we might understand the things freely given us by God."

"Thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been
set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness...

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. ..But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Now, freely give as He has freely given.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Archer | Oswald Chambers

"Patience is more than endurance. A saint's life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says--'I cannot stand any more.'

God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly.

Trust yourself in God's hands.

For what have you need of patience just now? Maintain your relationship to Jesus Christ by the patience of faith. 'Though He slay me, yet will I wait for Him.'

Faith is not a pathetic sentiment, but robust vigorous confidence built on the fact that God is holy love. You cannot see Him just now, you cannot understand what He is doing, but you know Him.

Shipwreck occurs when there is not that mental poise which comes from being established on the eternal truth that God is holy love. Faith is the heroic effort of your life; you fling yourself in reckless confidence on God.

God has ventured all in Jesus Christ to save us, now He wants us to venture our all in abandoned confidence in Him. There are spots where that faith has not worked in us as yet, places untouched by the life of God. There were none of those spots in Jesus Christ's life, and there are to be none in ours.

'This is life eternal, that they might know Thee.' The real meaning of eternal life is a life that can face anything it has to face without wavering. If we take this view, life becomes one great romance, a glorious opportunity for seeing marvelous things all the time."

Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest a reflection for May 8th.

I've also been putting quotes and memes up from My Utmost for His Highest on our Facebook page!!!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Mary Unedited (Slice)

“The most striking thing about the role of women in the life and teaching of Jesus is the simple fact that they are there.”(1) Jesus stepped into a world that largely discriminated against women. Women were forbidden to go beyond a certain point in the Temple; they were excluded from conversations in public and restricted to roles as spectators. Jesus not only rejected this practice, he radically acted in opposition to it. He shocked his disciples by talking to those who typically were rejected—a hemorrhaging woman on the road, a Samaritan drawing water at the well. He brushed aside every discrimination and injustice, and received the courageous women who were a part of every event outlined in the New Testament.

Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, which is an unfathomable statement to make about oneself. But it is not the only inconceivable statement he made. To study him, as one might a loose cannon in the crowd, we find one who is entirely countercultural, who affirms those who are rejected and overlooked, who gives women a voice and safe place to be heard, and who calls everyone to transparency, speaking toward a broken world with all its pain and shortfall, sickness and sin. If this is indeed the Son of God, he is a God who not only can handle our unedited stories—but demands them—because he himself did not hold back from standing in the midst of it all.

Mary Magdalene’s is one such story. She left behind the life she knew to follow the one who knew her. To this day, her story of faith and discipleship remains the one God has deemed worth retelling:

On the morning after the Sabbath, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb, according to the gospel writers. Mary was bent over with grief. She had followed Jesus and his disciples from city to city, watched him heal the sick and free the captives, turn ashes to beauty and mourning to gladness. She looked on as Jesus was taken and beaten and bound to a cross, and she watched as they buried him in a tomb, death having silenced the very life that changed her own. Like many women in Scripture, Mary’s tears were perhaps the last desperate words to the God she hoped was listening. The body she had come to anoint and care for was now missing, and she thought the gardener had something to do with it. In devastated affection, she pled for the body of the one she loved: “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him” (John 20:15b).

It was the sound of her own name that opened her eyes. Jesus said to her, “Mary.” And she turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means teacher). Jesus later appeared to all of his disciples, but it was Mary—a life once filled with hopelessness turned around by a compelling love and the courage to follow—to whom Jesus chose first to appear. She who loved much was given a place in his story, not as a testimony to her sins or in rebellion to a cultural norm or as tabloid scandal, but as yet another fully human reflection of the profound story of the Son of God.

--Jill Carattini

(1) James Hurley, Man and Woman in Biblical Perspective (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 82.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Fans of The Raven Facebook

Make sure to find our Facebook page "Fans of The Raven."

There are a lot more pictures/stories/memes that don't quite make it onto the blog.

Dr. Craig's May Update

Dear friends...

I flew out to Bellingham, Washington, to speak at Western Washington University. Although people kept telling me how secular the university and local community are, I must say that I found not only an energetic Christian student movement there, but also activist Christian faculty, including some of the faculty in the Philosophy Department, which was really an encouraging sign!

I first spoke to a lunchtime meeting of Christian faculty on “On Being a Christian Academic.” Then that night I gave a public talk on “Can We Be Good without God?” We had a good crowd of several hundred students, many of whom were unbelievers, as the Q&A session following my talk made clear. The next evening I spoke again to several hundred students on “Is Belief in God Reasonable?” and once again had lots of unbelievers show up to try to challenge me during the question time... We hope to have the entertaining videos of these events up soon on YouTube.

Now that I’m no longer traveling, I’m working feverishly to complete my lectures for our Reasonable Faith “Roots of Christian Civilization” cruise around the Mediterranean at the end of this month. We have over 120 people signed up, many of them veterans from our trip to Israel two years ago. We’re praying that we will have a great time learning together about ancient sites mentioned in the New Testament like Athens, Ephesus, and Rome.

Meanwhile, Kevin Harris will be in town this month to record more Reasonable Faith podcasts. With Dawkins’ new film “Unbelievers” coming out, we should have lots to talk about!

Our series of booklets “What Is God Like?” continues to be a big hit with children. Parents write to us, telling stories of their children’s reactions to the booklets. One three-year started crying when his Dad wouldn’t read him “God Is All-Powerful” for the second time before going to bed!

Another child, after hearing this story, told his Mom the next day, “God can’t make a square circle because then it wouldn’t be a circle!” (This little tyke gets the paradoxes of omnipotence!)

Another father told us that his copy of one of the booklets had some printing problems, but he didn’t want to return it for a new copy because his son loves it so much he couldn’t bear to part with it even temporarily! Isn’t that wonderful? The newest booklet “God Is All-Good” has just been released, and the text for “God Is All-Loving” is currently being set. Marli has completed the drawings for the final booklet “The Greatness of God,” and they are so precious and endearing! We are so pleased with this series!

At the same time, I’m finishing my final response to my collaborators in Paul Gould’s forthcoming book God and Abstract Objects. This project has really been fun, and I think the book will stimulate further informed discussion of this important issue.

Lots of other projects are going on behind the scenes at Reasonable Faith, which I’ll share with you as they see the light of day!

For Christ and His Kingdom, 

Bill & Jan

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Three Kisses | Continued

"Rightly, Lord Jesus, rightly has my heart said to Thee, 'My face has sought Thee: Thy Face, Lord, will I seek' (Ps. 27:8).

Thou madest me to hear Thy mercy in the morning of my life, when Thou didst pardon me my evil living even as I lay, kissing Thy sacred footsteps in the dust. And, as its day went on, Thou hast rejoiced my soul by giving me the grace to live well, through the kiss of Thy Hand. What remains now, good Lord, save that Thou shouldst fill me full with the joy of Thy Countenance, by deigning to admit me to the kiss of Thy Mouth...

'Let Him kiss me with the kiss of His Mouth.' Who is it says these words? It is the Bride. And who is she? The soul athirst for God.

A slave feels fear before his lord, a hireling looks for wages; a pupil gives attention to his teacher; a son honours his father. But she who asks a kiss, she loves. Love is the highest of all our natural gifts, supremely when it is rendered back to God, Who is its Source. And the mutual sweet affection between the Word and the soul cannot more sweetly be expressed than by thus calling them the Bridegroom and the Bride. For between bride and bridegroom all is held in common; neither calls anything their own or possesses a single thing the other does not share. They have but one inheritance, one home... they are in fact one flesh. Fitly then, the soul who loves is called the Bride.

And notice how abruptly she comes out with her request! ... She employs no flatteries to get what she desires, nor does she beat about the bush. Bluntly, boldly, out of her full heart she blurts it out, 'Let Him kiss me with the kiss of His Mouth!' ...

Her love is chaste, assuredly, for she seeks only the Object of her love, not anything that He may have to give. Her love is holy, for it is spiritual, not after the flesh. And it is burning, eager, for she is so absorbed in it that she forgets the majesty of Him to Whom she speaks. What? 'The earth shall tremble at the look of Him,' (Ps. 104:32), and she asks for a kiss! Is she inebriated? Yes, indeed she is...

'Let Him kiss me--' that is all she says, like Mary Magdalene who said to Him she thought to be the gardener, 'If thou have borne Him hence--' (John 20:15) taking for granted that everybody must know Whom she meant, seeing that He was never absent from her heart. So is it with the Bride... She names not her Beloved's Name but just blurts out the words, 'Let Him kiss me' ..."

Bernard of Clairvaux's The Three Kisses as quoted in "Readings in Christian Thought" pages 95-98.

The Three Kisses | Bernard of Clairvaux

The subject of love consumed Bernard's attention... completely... His commitment was contemplative, and his life was lives as a testimony to the love of God...

For nearly twenty years... He used this fascinating and puzzling Hebrew ode to love [the 'Song of Songs'] as the inspiration for a mystical contemplation of divine and human love... He describes [the mystical marriage between the Bridegroom and the beloved] in the vivid figures of the three kisses... the purgative, illuminative, and unitive stages of the contemplative life.


It is not given to everyone to say, 'Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His Mouth' (Song of Songs, 1:2); but he who has... received that spiritual kiss... is urged by the experience... A soul like mine, on the other hand, laden with sins, enslaved by fleshly passions and lacking experience of the sweetness of the Holy Spirit... can make no smallest claim to such a grace...

Do not presume to lift yourself so high... but lie along with me before the Feet of the Lord most stern, afraid... to lift your eyes to heaven, lest you be blinded by excess of light. It is not for you, soul of this sort, whoever you may be, to scorn the place where once that holy sinner laid down her sins and put on holiness... You, O unhappy soul, if you would cease to be unhappy, must imitate this happy penitent, prostrate upon the ground, kissing His Feet and washing them with tears. Nor must you dare to lift your shamed and tear-strained face until you also hear, 'Arise, arise, O captive daughter of Zion. Shake thyself from the dust!' (Isa. 52:1-2)...

Kiss His Hand. And notice why, If Jesus shall have said to me, 'Thy sins are forgiven thee' (Matt. 9:2), what good is it, unless I cease from sinning? Long have I wallowed in the mire of vice; if I fall back therein, when once escaped, then I shall be in worse case than before.

So what I need is this: that He Who moved my will to penitence should further give me power to persevere. For woe is me indeed if He, without Whom I can do nothing, should suddenly withdraw His Hand, even while I repent! ... His Hand, which first must cleanse you and then raise you up. How shall it raise you up? By giving you the grace of self-control, the fruits of penitence, which gifts will of themselves incite you to aspire to blessings greater still. And, in receiving these gifts from His Hand, you ought to kiss it--that is, give glory to His Name, not to yourself... One kiss because He has forgiven you; another, for the virtues that He has bestowed...

So this, then, is the way, the order we must follow. First we fall at the Lord's feet and bewail to Him Who made us [over] the wrong things we have done. Next, we seek His Hand to lift us up and strengthen our weak knees, that we may stand upright. And, when we have won these two graces by many prayers and tears, we may at last, perhaps, dare to lift up our heads to that all-glorious Mouth, not only to behold it but to kiss. For the Spirit Whom we thus behold is Christ the Lord, Who deigns to make us of one spirit with Himself..."