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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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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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Christian Maturity Is Marked By Growing Dependence, Not Independence (via Chad Bird)

Tomorrow Christians will gather and be reminded yet again that we are unlearning non-dependence and learning dependence on Jesus. Christian maturity is not learning how to develop our own strength so we need Jesus less, it is increasing in our knowledge of our inability to stand anywhere but in Jesus’ strength.
From Chad Bird:

The stories we prefer to write about ourselves, as outwardly attractive as they may be, will never get us into the narrative in which Christ truly shapes us into his own image. The self-image we cultivate tends to work on the false assumption that God desires us to grow more independent. To become better and stronger so that we need him less. We imagine ourselves growing when we lean less on God and more on our own gifts and talents. As if the Lord is waiting for us to spread our wings and make our own way through this life.
But Christian maturity is not marked by independence but dependence. A growing awareness of our incessant need for Christ. A focus off me, my talents, my doing, even my religious life, and a focus instead upon the Son of God. The less we are, the more Christ is. But far from being bad news, this is the best news of all. For the more Christ is, the more we are the very people God has created us to be

Chad Bird, Your God Is Too Glorious, Baker Books, 2018, 78.


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Breaking Through The Deafness Of Pride (via Chad Bird)

When God brings humans into relationship with himself he makes us part of a larger body.
The danger is when being part of larger body becomes a substitute for a replacement for the relationship with God.
That’s when we need to hear his call to come back to him.
From Chad Bird:

All of Israel’s sins began in their ears. Like a broken record, the prophets preached, “Hear the Word of Yahweh.” Believe in him. Follow him. Give heed to his Word. Jeremiah says, “From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day. Yet they did not listen to me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck” (Jer. 7:25—26). The original Hebrew says that God was “daily rising early and sending [the prophets].” God is saying, as it were, “Look, Israel, I roll out of bed every morning at the crack of dawn and the first thing I do is throw another prophet your way.” And the first thing Israel does is stick headphones in its ears to blare the music of disobedience.
This means that the chief problem for Israel is the same one we face in the church today. It’s not scandals among the leadership, apathy in the pews, or irrelevance to a secular culture. Our chief problem is and will always be unbelief. An unbelief made possible by deafness to the Word of Yahweh. A deafness made possible by pride. And a pride made possible, all too often, by the assumption that we’re good with God because our names are on a church’s membership roster. Outward attachment to a religious institution is no guarantee of an inward attachment to the God of the cross. Indeed, as the Jews in Jesus’s day claimed to be God’s favourites because Abraham was their father, today the temptation is to claim that we are God’s favorites because we’re in the club called Christianity.

Chad Bird, Your God Is Too Glorious, Baker Books, 2018, 33-34.


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Not Letting ‘Awesome’ Define Your Life (via Chad Bird)

Chad Bird contends that God does not reveal himself on the mountaintops of life as consistently as he is found in the valleys.
He makes reference to what he describes as “one of the most in-American verses in the Bible,” truthfully one of the most counter-cultural verses of our age.

If I could rewind my life and go back twenty years, I would dream small and relish the joys of an unaccomplished life. “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life,” Paul urges (l Thess. 4:11 NIV). This is arguably one of the most un-American verses in the Bible. Those words have become almost a mantra for me. I must say them over and over to silence the lifelong indoctrination I have received from a culture that idolizes those who do big things and urges us all to do likewise. “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life.” In other words, make it your ambition not to let “awesome” define your life, dictate your relationships, weigh the importance of who you are, or guide you in discerning how and where God is found.
To lead a quiet life doesn’t mean that you lower your expectations as much as you lower your gaze. Instead of looking up to the next accomplishment, the next rung on the ladder, you look down at the daily life you live, the children God has given you, the spouse by your side, your aging parents, your dear friends, the poor and needy — all those “little things” you miss when you’re always looking up to the “next big thing” in your life.

Your God Is Too Glorious, Chad Bird, Baker, 2018, pg 14.