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Following Jesus, The Pioneer Pilgrim (via Jonathan Gibson)

A reflection on the longing for the better world which Christians experience, and how Jesus has walked through the darkness of this life to bring us to eternity with himself.
From Jonathan Gibson:

One of the ways in which the Psalms connect to Jesus Christ is in the sphere of typological experience. The psalmist or the person described in the psalm (like the blessed man in Psalm 1, God’s anointed king in Psalm 2, or the righteous sufferer in Psalm 3) is a type of Christ in their experience. That is, the fullest and most perfect expression of their desires, disappointments, and sufferings is found in the life experience of Jesus Christ. In this regard, the psalms are not just about Jesus; they were also experienced by Jesus.
As the true, faithful Israelite, Jesus perfectly experienced the desires expressed in this psalm, especially the vivid, intense pulsebeat for heaven and for God. Jesus was the Son of Man, born of Mary, but throughout his life he never forgot that he was a son of heaven. During his earthly ministry, he wandered from place to place like his patriarch fathers before him. In fact, he didn’t even have a tent to dwell in. “Foxes have holes, birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matt. 8:20). Why? Because for the joy set before him, he endured the cross and then sat down at his Father’s right hand in his presence (Heb. 12:2). This world was not his home, he was just a-passing through.
The life of our Lord is one of those parts of the Bible—like those of the patriarchs in Canaan and those of the pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem—where the affectional pulsebeat for heaven, for God, is pumping strong. Jesus was the pioneer pilgrim, the one who in his earthly life embodied the perfect longing for heaven, the perfect longing for God. And because he perfectly lived out this longing, God looked with favor on him as our Anointed King. When Christ died, the temple curtain was torn in two: God removed the angelic barrier that had stood between him and humanity since the day Adam was expelled from the garden-temple of Eden.

Jesus loves me! He who died
Heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let his little child come in.

And when God does let us “come in” to his heaven after our earthly pilgrimage, we will find that C. S. Lewis and Augustine were right: we were made for another world, we were made for God. The deep longings we experience now will be met then, fully and finally, not simply in heaven itself, but in God himself.

Read the whole post here.

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Rise Up And Walk (via Ron Block)

A meditation on faith by Ron Block.

Faith isn’t something we drum up or fight for. We don’t pull up our faith-bootstraps and try to believe. Faith is more than intellectual assent to ideas about God; it is the outcome of any real moment of intimate contact with him.
When we are fearful or unbelieving, when we look at the future with trepidation, or when our mind is spinning with past losses, what can we do? Well, what do we do when we are cold? We pull our chairs up to the hearth and get closer to the fire. We step into the warmth and light of the sun.

Read the whole post at The Rabbit Room.

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Being Both Spiritual And Religious

I’m discovering the writings of Winn Collier.
Here he examines the trope ‘I’m spiritual, but not religious’ and points out that while the idea has some attractions, ultimately its just too thin to sustain a soul.

An excerpt:

Abstract ideals don’t have the grit I know is required to save me. Rather, it is Jesus’ body broken in the bread, Jesus’ blood spilt in the wine. It is my actual neighbor actually sitting next to me (someone I may not like, if I just get to choose), as we eat and drink together. It is the songs we sing and the Scriptures we hear. It is our commitment to living in this actual world (not the idea of a world). To say I’m spiritual but not religious would be, for me, like saying I believe in community but don’t want a friend or I love the wild but would never actually set foot in a forest. I need the real stuff.
Jesus, the harshest critic of distorted religion in history, didn’t set up general spiritual concepts. Jesus got dunked in water, gave us bread and wine around a Table – and then said, “Keep doing all this. Together. In my name.”

Read the whole piece here.

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On Wings Of Eagles – The Story After Chariots Of Fire

On Wings Of Eagles is a recently released movie that follows the life of Eric Liddell after the events portrayed in Chariots Of Fire.
If you thought the best of Liddell’s story was over after the first movie you were mistaken.
Though containing certain dramatic liberties in its story, the conclusion montage of Chariots Of Fire indicated Liddell’s life would go on to greater heights.

I don’t expect it will receive a cinematic release in Australia, but it will be worth looking out for on other formats.

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The Story Of The Bible Is A Relational Story (via St Helen’s Bishopsgate Blog)

A post on the St. Helen’s Bishopsgate blog makes the point that the key story of the Bible is about relationships.
Christianity is not acceptance of an intellectual proposition, it is the experience of a relationship that God adopts humans into through his son, Jesus.
From the post:

…the Bible is a love story.
But not in the Hollywood romance sense. It does not have the tired structure of teenage infatuation sprinkled with high school tableaus cohering to a plastic pop-music soundtrack. But this love story spans the gritty depths of all that that word encapsulates. It shows love for what it is, the definition to which we hold all other claims of love.
And one of the most beautiful pictures we are given of this love is that God has adopted us into His family. Which is not at odds with the transfer of legal status in justification, or the positional healing of reconciliation, but it exemplifies them relationally, in the radical truth of our adoption.
That God, in the gospel brings us into His family, in the most intimate sense of that word; that He comes to earth bearing an invitation to become children of God (John 1); transferred from slaves to sons (Romans 8); and Jesus “for whom and through whom all things exist” is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2).
Which brings a certain apex to this love story, and flows out in all sorts of wonderful ways.
Firstly, it cuts right across any religious points scoring with God, because He is our Father, and we can’t become any ‘more’ His children. So we don’t have days when we are more Christian or less Christians, because we are His sons and daughters; that is just our reality now.
It means that we walk through our days and life with the solid confidence of an entirely new identity, brought into the heart of God’s relationships. We are able to speak to Him at any moment as Father, as Dad. We can bring Him our joys and confusions and complaints and know that He hears and cares and is doing what’s best for us.
It also means that the work of Jesus for us does not just sneak us in the back door to some banquet, but that along with Jesus we have been made heirs of a heavenly inheritance. Entering heaven is now like walking into the family home. In a way that seems sort of bigger than is possible, and almost too significant to say out loud, our relationship to God as Father is the same as Jesus’ relationship with the Father. We are Jesus’ siblings, members of the one family, and together we are waiting for our brother to return.

Read the whole piece here.

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How Churches Become Too Busy And Less Effective (via Thom Rainer)

Thom Rainer attempts to describe how churches can become focussed on their activities to the detriment of mission and ministry.
He has eight points.

  1. Activities became synonymous with ministry.
  2. Programs and ministries are added regularly, but few or none are ever deleted.
  3. Programs and ministries become sacred cows.
  4. The alignment question is not asked on the front end.
  5. Silo behavior among the different ministries of the church.
  6. Lack of an evaluation process.
  7. Ministry becomes facility-centered.
  8. Lack of courageous leadership.

You can read his background comments on the points here.

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Gospel Fluency (via Jeff Vanderstelt)

From Jeff Vanderstelt:
“We as a church need to grow in what it looks like to speak the truths of the gospel into the everyday stuff of life. To speak the truth of Jesus’s life, death, resurrection, present work on our behalf before God the Father, and future return to make all things new.”
The work of Jesus is part of life now, as well as eternity.