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Think Advent, Not Adrenaline, When You Picture Life In Christ’s Church (via Chad Bird)

A reminder from Chad Bird that life as a disciple of Jesus is life with the Church; and growth as a disciple of Jesus with the church is a slow-cooker experience, not a microwave experience.

The work of Jesus in our lives, and in the life of his church, creeps along like that Matthew genealogy. It’s not radical, explosive, immediate, incredible, or any other dazzling adjective you can select from the Thesaurus of Spiritual Excitement. There’s no microwaving this sacred meal. It’s going to take time. It’s going to be humdrum most of the time. Worship won’t be an ongoing string of wow! mind-blowing! incredible! experiences that leave us tingling with the skintight closeness of the Spirit.
Jesus is more of a take-his—sweet—time gardener than an applause-inducing circus performer. Novelty is not his way. We often want it to be. Indeed, as the devil Screwtape brags in one of his letters to the junior tempter, “The horror of the Same Old Thing is one of the most valuable passions we have produced in the human heart.” Unsatisfied with the built-in rhythms of change in daily lie, “the horror of the Same Old Thing” demands novelty for novelty’s sake. “Unchanged” comes to mean “stagnant.” But think advent, not adrenaline, when you picture life in Christ’s church.

Chad Bird, Your God Is Too Glorious, Baker Books, 2018, 127.


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Winning By Losing (via Chad Bird)

The sacraments of modern culture are personal achievements, measured, quantified, compared. But they are not enough to provide a satisfaction that we have connection with eternity. There is no rest, only striving.
The good news is something better than that.
From Chad Bird:

In the kingdom of the almighty number, where the first are first and even the second are last, we remember only the names of those who are the cream of the crop.
In the kingdom of the humble Christ, where the first are last and the last are first, God rememberers even the names of those who sink to the bottom.
For in the church, we win by losing, are humbled to be exalted, receive a name even when lost in anonymity.

Chad Bird, Your God Is Too Glorious, Baker Books, 2018, 113.


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Preaching Unsuccess (via Chad Bird)

The church will gather together tomorrow to hear the news of the unsuccessful life.

From Upside-Down Spirituality:

Christianity has a God who knows that if the church runs the way of success, we’ll eventually tumble headfirst into the grave of irrelevance. That’s where the quest for success leads us – into a kind of death, into a toothless message of empty platitudes with a mirage of hope at the end.
Our churches, in fact, preach a kind of unsuccess. We succeed at nothing to which the world aspires. Power? No, we boast in weakness. Fame? No, we revel in anonymity. Beauty? No, our God hung on an ugly cross. Winning? No, we confess that the first are actually last. Riches? No, for the love of them is the root of all kinds of evil. the church is a place for losers. for those who hands have been emptied, so that – as we sing – “nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling.”

Chad Bird, Upside-Down Spirituality: The Nine Essential Failures Of A Faithful Life, Baker, 2019, pgs 189.


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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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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.