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The Ache Is Not A Desire To Escape, It’s Homesickness (via Rebecca K Reynolds)

Rebecca K Reynolds explains the the desire to be with Christ is not something for which the disciple needs to feel guilty as if its an avoidance of the realities of life, rather the desire to be with Christ is a natural feeling to experience more of the belonging which union with Jesus brings to our lives:

Paul’s use of the words with Christ clued me in to something big. His ache was relational, not just geographic. He didn’t simply want to get to heaven; he wanted to get further up and further in to community with Jesus. Before catching that, I’d always felt sort of guilty for wanting to escape my earthly life to be closer to the Lord—after all, the Holy Spirit lived inside me. Why couldn’t I just be content with what I had already been given? Yet, Paul understood the indwelling of the Holy Spirit better than you or I ever will, and he still longed to experience divine fellowship in a way that was more intimate than anything he could encounter on earth. His story helps me rejoice in all things while admitting the cramp in my side. It gives me permission to live a little homesick.

Rebecca K Reynolds, Courage, Dear Heart, NavPress, 2018, pg 8.


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Hurry Up And Do Nothing (via Chad Bird)

The Bible is an ongoing narrative of God’s capacity and desire to do everything that his people need, only for people to keep wanting to do what they can’t achieve in his place.

From Chad Bird:

Doing nothing is the hardest thing for us to do. we’d rather talk nonstop for hours than be utterly silent for a few minutes. We’d rather be told to plan this, accomplish that, busy ourselves with these goals, than simply to receive the work the Lord does for us. It all seems too easy. Too childish. Too much like we have no part to play in our own defence, recovery, and ultimate salvation.
But we don’t. And that’s the best of news! We are the recipients of the Lord’s labour. The Lord will see you and you have only to be trapped. The Lord will forgive you and you have only to be a sinner. The Lord with give you a new identity, cleanse you of every spot of shame, and fill you with an inner peace that this world cannot give. And you have only to do nothing. The new person we are in Christ, says author and pastor R.J. Grunewald, “has empty hands, clinging to nothing but the work of Jesus.” Our empty, outstretched hands of faith filled with the gracious work of Jesus.

Chad Bird, Your God Is Too Glorious, Baker Books, 2018, 96-97.


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The First Time Something Wasn’t Good And The Christianisation Of The Me Generation (via Chad Bird)

Chad Bird likens the action of the church in greeting the me generation with an emphasis on an individualistic experience of salvation to attempting to douse a fire with petrol.
His comments below are well balanced in that they do not make the fulfilment of Adam and Eve out to be marriage, as if any human that is not married has a less that complete life. What they do recognise is that the fulness of humanity cannot be expressed or experienced without relating to other humans.

From Upside-Down Spirituality:

The very first time God said something was “not good” was when someone was alone. The earth was good. The heavens were good. The animals and seas and mountains were good. But Adam, all on his lonesome, without another human being, without someone to complement him, live with him, and be his family, his helper, his own flesh and blood – that was not good at all. A private Adam who had a personal relationship with his Creator was simply not going to cut it. He may have been a glorious, regal, beautiful human being, but he was still not independent. Therefore God gave him Eve, built from his own body. He belonged to her and she to him. The depended on each other, leaned on each other, found fulfilment in each other.
Humanity was not truly complete until singular had expanded into plural, until I had become We.

Chad Bird, Upside-Down Spirituality: The Nine Essential Failures Of A Faithful Life, Baker, 2019, pgs 168-169.


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Remembrancing Through Words – The Work Of Preaching (via Jeffrey Arthurs)

The use of language in preaching does more than convey information, it helps bring to heard and mind the emotions that the information should evoke.
The words, images, and stories used should help disciples of Jesus resonate with their memories of past experiences of God’s grace in their lives.

Remembrancers stir the affections not with actual objects such as oxen and sheep, but with words. We mobilize language and send it into battle against the devil who schemes to make Christians drift from the faith. Vivid language rouses slumbering knowledge, values, and feelings, so that people are re-membered to the great truths of the faith. A bland recitation of truth will be met with a shrug and a yawn, so the old, old story must become “present” once again.

Jeffrey D Arthurs, Preaching As Reminding, IVP, 2017, pg 66.


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Love Is Not Something We Fall Into, It Is A Rough And Rocky Hill Two People Commit To Climb Together (via Chad Bird)

Marriage, contrary to popular thought is not a dream within a dream.
It is a mutual commitment by two people to live as one for the the duration of their lives.
And if it was easy, why would we need promises to hold ourselves to it?

From Chad Bird:

That’s why love is not something we fall into; it’s a rough and rocky hill we commit ourselves to climb. Or, to change the metaphor, love is a story we decide to write together with another person. There will be paragraphs penned in the calligraphy of pure ecstasy, but there will also be chapters scribbled in pain. The thing is, we don’t know what form or direction the narrative will take. The final chapter is not written until it’s lived. What we’re devoting ourselves to is not a fairy tale, not a thriller, not a bestseller, but a simple story of sacrifice for someone else. We for them and (hopefully) they for us. But because it is the account of two sinners sharing the same bed, bank account, and bathroom counter, the narrative will become terribly messy and convoluted at times. There will be entire sections we wish we could blot out. Heated and vitriolic dialogues that embarrass us. And, along the way, plenty of happy surprises as well. We’ll discover places in our hearts, and in the hearts of our beloved, that we didn’t even know existed. That’s the way stories unfold. Unpredictable. Boring. Beautiful. Ugly. Riveting. We’ll find all of this and more when we commit to writing a story with another person to whom we say, “I love you.”

Chad Bird, Upside-Down Spirituality: The Nine Essential Failures Of A Faithful Life, Baker, 2019, pgs 128-129.


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Everywhere We Look In The Church We See Priests (via Chad Bird)

The effort to recover the priesthood of all believers can’t be an effort to impose a pastorhood of all believers. Something is lost if everyone is pressganged into some form of pastoral function. More is lost if everyone doesn’t understand that whatever it is they are doing is their expression of the priestly function we’re all called to in Christ.

From Chad Bird:

Peter says to the whole church: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light (1 Pet. 2:9). The apostle is borrowing and expanding ancient language from Exodus where God says that Israel is a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (19:6). We’re accustomed to thinking of priests as a select group within the people of God. Priests, we assume, were the sons of Aaron in the Old Testament and are members of the ministry in some denominations today. The professional religious people. But just as we wrongly equate vocation with a job, so we wrongly equate priesthood with the pastoral ministry. Both are much broader and deeper categories.
Everywhere we look in the church we see priests. Those noisy energetic VBS students colouring a scene from Noah’s ark – they are priests. The elderly gentleman who uses a walker to shuffle to his favorite pew – he’s a priest. The youth group, the choir, the ushers, and the pastors are all included. Our ordination into the priesthood happened on the day we were baptized into our great high priest, Jesus. We became part of the “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” We entered the sacred vocation that fundamentally changes the rest of our lives, that touches every aspect of who we are and what we do, every day of the year. It is this “every aspect” that deserves our attention.

Chad Bird, Upside-Down Spirituality: The Nine Essential Failures Of A Faithful Life, Baker, 2019, pgs 114-115.


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Taking Up Your Cross Is Not A Way Of Life, It’s A Way Of Death. (via Chad Bird)

Jesus is not a life coach. He’s not providing an example to follow, or teaching techniques to get us through the day or tough situations.
What he invites us to do is die with him.

From Chad Bird:

Likewise, to take up our cross daily doesn’t mean to shoulder our personal cares and concerns. Jesus isn’t telling us merely to pick up our sicknesses, temptations, and other “crosses” of life and trudge along behind him. Immediately before he says this, our Lord predicts his upcoming passion. “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Luke 9:22). Right on the heels of this, he says to take up our crosses daily and follow him (v.23). In other words, Christ bids us follow him to death and the grave. That’s what crosses are for, after all: to kill people. A hangman’s noose isn’t there just to chafe people’s necks in uncomfortable ways; an electric chair doesn’t simply jolt our bodies with stress. They kill. So too the cross, in Roman society, was an instrument with a singular purpose: executing people. To take up our crosses daily is to suffer many things with Jesus, be rejected with him, be killed with him, and on the third day be raised with him to newness of life.
To be a disciple of Jesus, to follow him instead of our hearts, necessitates our complete incorporation into him.

Chad Bird, Upside-Down Spirituality: The Nine Essential Failures Of A Faithful Life, Baker, 2019, pgs 76-77.