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Alive Willy-Nilly In Jesus (via Robert Farrar Capon)

When Jesus brings the dead back to life in the Bible the events are not resurrections. All those returned to life eventually went to a grave.
But the power of life that Jesus exercised demonstrates the completeness of human need and the presence of a life in him that can meet all that need.

Jesus came to raise the dead: not to idle those who were half-immortal anyway into some other slightly improved life but to take those who had completely lost their grip and give them back every last one of the days that he, as their resurrection and their life, had always held for them. He never met a corpse that didn’t sit right up then and there because, although it may have been dead as a doornail on its own terms, it was alive willy-nilly in him and just couldn’t help showing it.
When Jesus came to raise Lazarus, the dead man’s sister Martha had her doubts. Like the rest of us she could imagine eternal life only as something out there – as a blessing to be achieved only after the protracted clanking of some religious or philosophical contraption. And therefore when Jesus told her her brother would rise again, the furthest think from her mind was that it would happen on the spot: “I know,” she said; “he’ll make it at the last day.” But what Jesus in effect said to her was: “Wrong! He’s made it now. I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, even though he’s dead, will still live. And whoever lives and believes in me can’t possibly die in eternity – because in eternity is exactly where I’ve got him for good.” Lazarus, in short, might lose his own grip on his life but he could never shake loose of Jesus’. Ergo forth he comes when the Word who holds him speaks his name.

Robert Farrar Capon, The Youngest Day, Mockingbird, 2019, pg 47-48.


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We Walk Into The Future Backwards (via Robert Farrar Capon)

While the future is ahead of us, we find ourselves facing the past; there is a comfort in focussing on what we know more certainly that bids us orient ourselves toward what has been rather than the uncertainties of what will be.
Facing the unknown and uncertain future results in us looking in a direction where we are more able to freshly appreciate the works of God rather than explain them away.

…it isn’t only death that comes from behind. The whole of the future approaches from the same direction. We like to think that we walk into it forwards – that tomorrow is somewhere up ahead of us and that, while it may be hidden by mists, we’re still at least looking the right way. But in fact the only thing before our mind’s eye now is yesterday. It’s the past we see clearly; the future we can’t see at all. And we we miss it not because of thick clouds or bad vision but because it’s 180 degrees out of sight. What will happen after this is, quite literally, aft of us. We walk into the future backwards.

Robert Farrar Capon, The Youngest Day, Mockingbird, 2019, pg 14.


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Guilt Based Deterrents Should Not Become Substitutes For The Self-Examination That Brings Growth In Grace (via Winn Collier)

The Gospels contrast the disciples of Jesus who were not consistently clear about what they wanted with those at the margins (like blind Bartimaeus) who were completely focussed on their need.
Jesus keeps asking a question (actually or implied) of those he encounters to help them understand that their present desire was masking their need or was leading them away from understanding their need of God.

From Winn Collier.

accountability is a Christian buzzword. Designed to aid spiritual formation, the (good) intention is to walk and struggle and live honestly with a spiritual friend who know s our foibles and our mess and loves us toward Jesus anyway. However accountability often devolves into a spiritual lashing, when we attempt to manage our behaviour by the sheer terror of having to ‘fess up. Numerous lists of questions have been designed to serve the accountability process, but they usually tread shallow water, only uncovering external scandalous behaviours: Have I looked at porn this week? Have I used my money wisely? Have I given emotional intimacy with someone other than my husband? However, I have never – not once – seen Jesus’ question make the list: what do I want?

Winn Collier, Holy Curiosity, Baker Books, 2008, pgs 147-148.


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Meeting Doubt With A Question And Not A Demand (via Winn Collier)

When Jesus encounters doubt in his disciples he asks why, so that the doubter can explore where their doubt is coming from, and return their focus to Jesus and the relationship they have with him.

From Winn Collier.

When Jesus encountered doubters, he did not leave them to wallow in their uncertainty, but neither did he rail against their human frailty. Jesus showed his pierced hands to Thomas. Jesus met Nicodemus in the middle of the night. Jesus healed the demon-possessed son of the father who pleaded, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” And here, with Peter, Jesus did not leave him to drown, nor did he heap vitriol on his wavering faith. Rather, Jesus pulled Peter from the water and asked him a question. Why?
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Doubt as a barrier to trust is where Jesus takes aim. Jesus doesn’t mind questionsHe gives time and space for people to hear and consider and journey into the truth. Peter’s doubt, in fact, had nothing to do with philosophical quandaries or historical veracity. Peter did not have a theological dilemma. Peter did not slip into the waves because of an existential crisis. Peter wavered in trusting his friend. His issue was not creedal, it was relational.
Whatever pushed Peter to doubt, it was obviously connected to fear, understandably so. The disciples had been on pins and needles the entire night. IN a quick turn of events, Peter found himself alone on top of the waves out in the middle of a blustery storm. This doubt had nothing to do with logic or reason. There was no process that led Peter here. An apologetics lecture or a philosophical conversation would not have helped. Often we believe our doubt would be assuaged if God would miraculously intervene in the world. No miracles would have aided Peter. He had just lived the miracle, a few extraordinary aquatic steps. Peter’s doubt detonated in a flash, because all of a sudden he thought he might drown – and his fear was larger than his trust in Jesus..

Winn Collier, Holy Curiosity, Baker Books, 2008, pgs 136, 137-138.


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The Dissonance Between What I Expect From Jesus And What Jesus Actually Does (via Winn Collier)

Following Jesus is not thinking that everything you think is what he thinks.
Following Jesus is having your perceptions of self, others, and living challenged and changed.

From Winn Collier.

Do we really think it possible to follow the ways of God without having our world turned over? Do we really expect to follow a God we always understand, who always conforms to our expectations? Could confusion (at times) be a sign that we have actually heard God correctly? Disorientation shouldn’t be disdained, it is inevitable. If the Jesus we hear never finishes a sentence differently that we imagine he would , if the Jesus we claim to follow never offers an ideology in direct contradiction to what we have grown comfortable with, if the Jesus we envision never loves people we would never expect him to embrace, we might need to revisit the Gospels. We might need to be reintroduced to the biblical Jesus.
Anne Lamott says, “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” It is a constant temptation to make God a reflection of me, rather than me a reflection of him. There outhitting to be a certain level of dissonance between what I expect from Jesus and what Jesus actually does. There should be some confusion.

Winn Collier, Holy Curiosity, Baker Books, 2008, pgs 105-106.


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Jesus Is The God We Need (via Winn Collier)

Jesus experienced life with human emotions.
In addition to knowing our need for salvation, Jesus fully experienced everything that we need to be saved from.

From Winn Collier.

Jesus did not come to help us manoeuvre around the our brokenness; Jesus came to enter our brokenness with us. The gospel is not a therapeutic system tooled for enhancing our ability to cope by believing hard enough and smiling big enough and quoting just the right mixture of Bible verses so we can distance ourselves from our negative emotions. The gospel is the story of the world as it actually is, our lives as they actually are. The gospel tells us that we are broken, more broken that we know, and that our world is in a shambles. Jesus does not encourage us to ignore what we have lost, but rather to mourn it, to feel deep sorrow over the devastation we were never supposed to know. The gospel instructs us to want and wait and hope for God to make the world right again. We do not need a God removed from our destruction and insisting we are all okay. We need a God who knows in his bones how sick we are and who will not leave us to ourselves. We need God to rescue us.

Winn Collier, Holy Curiosity, Baker Books, 2008, pg 90.


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The Double-Edged Sword Of Spiritual Tradition (via Winn Collier)

The temptation to set use Bible as a buttress against the imperative of the Gospel is strong.
Of course there is no contradiction between the following Jesus and the Bible correctly read.

From Winn Collier.

Spiritual tradition is a double-edged sword. Used properly, it allows those who have gone before us to instruct us with their wisdom. Tradition allows us to hear the ways God’s story has echoed in every generation. We have a rich heritage, and we are most foolish if we do not pay close attention. Used improperly, however, tradition is no longer a friend to instruct and guide us, but it becomes a means we use to dig in our heels, to hold on to an identity that provides us with a sense of security from a world or a God whose mystery frightens us.

Winn Collier, Holy Curiosity, Baker Books, 2008, pg 80.