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Every Beauty And Every Tragedy Is An Invitation (via Winn Collier)

More musing from fictional pastor Jonas McAnn, as written by Winn Collier:

If the idea of providence means anything, then it must a least mean that our life consists of all manner of truths and experiences we would never imagine and could never orchestrate. The old mystics liked to say that “all is gift.” I still scratch my head over this idea, but I’m learning to trust that everything we encounter, ever beauty and every tragedy, invites us deeper into God, deeper into our truest selves.
In other words, to become more like God (more Christian, if it helps to say it that way) is in fact to become more human. Jesus showed us what it looks like to be God, but Jesus also showed us what it looks like to be truly human. We often flour our human bodies, our human urges and aspirations, our human frailties. But to be Christian is to become more and more human.
Winn Collier, Love Big Be Well, Eerdmans, 2017 pg 84.


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Give What You Didn’t Get (via Justin Buzzard)

Justin Buzzard writes about that which truly brings healing for those whose lives are marked by loss:

Give what you didn’t get.

What didn’t you get?

A safe childhood?
A best friend?
A loving father or mother?
Opportunity?
Justice?
Words of encouragement?
Healthy touch?
A place to belong?
A good education?
A healthy church?
Physical health?
Stability?
Someone to listen to you?
Someone to mentor you?
Someone to grieve with you?
Someone to challenge you?
Exposure to diverse people, places, and cultures?
A good coach?
An example of a healthy marriage or healthy friendships?
A healthy work/life balance?
Wise and generous stewardship of money and resources?
A sense of purpose?
Adventure?
A place to call home?
Truth?
Grace?
Give what you didn’t get. Often it’s this place of not-getting—this tender territory of wounding, lack, loss, longing, weakness, and unfamiliarity—that can become your place of strongest character, greatest giftedness, highest contribution to others, and largest joy. This follows God’s counterintuitive J Curve, that our place of pain can become our place of giving and gain.

Quit waiting to get what you didn’t get. Quit stewing in bitterness over what you didn’t get. Quit holding yourself victim to what you didn’t get. Instead, realize that what you don’t have can become your greatest investment. Know that God is with you in your didn’t-get-ness, and his presence and power can transform this lack into a unique overflow of care that you lavish on others.

You can start right now, right where you are. See that person in front of you? Give them what you didn’t get. And watch how God’s supernatural mathematics show up, creating gains you couldn’t have imagined.

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A Fearful Symmetry

It was Queensland’s victory in the 2011-2012 Sheffield Shield season that was instrumental in Darren Lehmann cement the coaching credentials that saw him assume the role of coach of the national team when Mickey Arthur fell foul of something of a player’s revolt.

Now with Queensland’s victory in the 2017-2018 Sheffield Shield Lehmann’s tenure looks terminal, and the player’s culture that brought him into the job has expressed its full flower with poisonous results.

The question remains about whether the answer to the cultural problem will be seen in a repudiation of the notion of identifying a line in order to justify yourself by never having crossed it, or the cultivation of a sense that if there’s a line what is needed is to be as far away from it as possible.

Oddly enough in a culture that really wants to embrace the ‘I didn’t cross the line’ self-justification, the greatest crime is being caught on the wrong side of it and showing up the toxic impact of that lie.

That’s why the response to these actions has expressed more outrage than empathy. Yet the nature of the crime is so banal, so inept and doomed to failure that it invites pity rather than anger. What frame of mind thought they would get away with it, what frame of mind thought that consequences would be slight?

If your self-image is formed teetering on the edge of a line, what happens when you lose sight of where the line should be?

I know in my heart that the temptation is strong to wilfully cross lines, let alone inadvertently wander over them. Truth be told I’m a natural denizen of the other side and pretending by my identifying the line that I’m not over it.

What I need is a grace that finds me on the false side of the line and renews and restores me to the true side. A grace that rather than reinforcing my line encroaching, recreates me into someone who hates the line, and not just the crossing of it. A grace that grows me love all the space on the best side of the line rather than the false promises of the other side.

A grace that helps me know that it’s not a line that I’m talking about but a relationship with my creator, who subdues my rebellion through the death and resurrection of his son, and brings me into his family.

I always need that grace, and in Jesus, God gives it abundantly and eternally.


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Learning To Endure (via David Powlison)

David Powlison on the fact that learning some spiritual disciplines can only happen by going through a protracted painful pathway.
A couple of quotes:

There’s no way you’re ever going to learn endurance without having to keep on going through something hard that doesn’t go away. There’s no way you’re ever going to learn forbearance without having to face something that you really wish you didn’t have to, and you need to somehow come to grips with it.
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It is actually the way that we learn the most profound and the best lessons that we could ever learn. It’s where faith, love, and joy are most profoundly formed.

read the whole transcript (or watch the video) here.


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Real Self-Control Doesn’t Come From You (via David Prince)

A self-control that comes from within will not last, and only feeds the very emotions that eventually lead to loss of control.
Only the self-control that comes from God will show the fruit of his presence in our lives.
That’s the self-control I need.
From David Prince.

The writer of Proverbs asserts, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Prov 25:28). Paul points men to the example of athletes, “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.” He explains, “They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable” (1 Cor 9:25). Biblical self-control is exercised in the pursuit of a higher goal. Self-control is never purposeless or merely self-referential. Paul exhorted Titus, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people training us to … live self-controlled, … in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12). Believers are trained in self-control by the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Biblical self-control does not fixate on self, but rather fixates on God and his glory. Self-control is described as a fruit of the Spirit of God (Gal 5:23) and its opposite is gratifying of “the desires of the flesh” (Gal 5:16).
Counterfeit self-control is rooted in pride, it glories in and is governed by the self-justifying, fleshly feeling of being in absolute control. It is an idolatrous mirage. Freedom in Christ is not the autonomous liberty to cast off all restraint because that is bondage—not freedom.

Read the whole post here.


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Repentance – Hearing The Call To Return Home (via Trevin Wax)

The call to repent is a call to acknowledge I’m going the wrong way.
It’s not a punishment, it’s a gracious invitation to stop, turn and come home.
It’s a bittersweet familiar companion.
There’s a grief of heart that comes from the conviction of wrong, a grief of heart that is amplified when offence to God and hurt caused to others (whether intentional or unintentional) is acknowledged.
But ultimately there’s also a sense of relief and anticipation.
Home is a wonderful place.
It will be good to be there again.
I’m on my way.

Trevin Wax writes how repentance can never set against grace, because it is intrinsic to experiencing grace.

The call to repentance is the call to return home. It’s the call to be refreshed by our tears. It’s the call to be cleansed from all our guilty stains. We need the scalpel of the Spirit to do surgery on our diseased hearts, so that we can be restored to spiritual health.

Full article here.


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Preposterous Blessings (via Winn Collier)

Winn Collier writes about the beatitudes as encouragements for those at the margins rather than a recipe of ‘be this and get that’.
Why?
To assure us that in the kingdom, we should never be undone by finding ourselves at the margins.
From the post:

The life Jesus announces really does turn everything topsy-turvy. Jesus passes blessings (well-being) on exactly the opposite of those we consider blessed. The Beatitudes pronounce the shocking reality that the precise people we assume at the bottom of the pile are actually at the center of God’s abundance. These blessings are what God does, what Jesus makes possible in ways that were impossible before.
And while these blessings do not unravel a litmus test for “what it takes to get God’s blessing” (for example, no one’s suggesting we should go out looking for persecution), it’s subversively true that we need not fear these places of deprivation or vulnerability because when we’re most at risk, we have confidence that God is with us in that risky place. So when calamity visits us (persecution) or when we courageously obey Jesus (by being merciful, for instance, to those who we think deserve no mercy at all), we don’t need to fear.

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