Memorable Books

On his blog Anecdotal Evidence, Patrick Kurp shared a list of books “that will always stay with me.”  Apparently it is the second such list he has made.  Here are the rules: “Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes.”

My list :

Oliver Wiswell
King James Bible
Watership Down
Persuasion
Heidi
A Tale of Two Cities
Jayber Crow
Waiting by Ben Patterson
That Hideous Strength
Mere Christianity
The Diary of Anne Frank
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
The Hobbit
The Prisoner of Zenda
A Place to Stand

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A Road Trip Gift

Over the last couple of days I drove up the east coast from Georgia to Rhode Island.  I have always enjoyed driving trips and I do not mind at all being alone in the car.  I especially enjoy the time to just think, listen to music, and let my mind wander without interruption.  Sounds pretty self centered, and I admit it is.
This trip was lovely.  I was ready to leave the becoming hot and humid Deep South.  When I arrived in  North Carolina I enjoyed their wildflower plantings, first gloriosa daisies, then poppies, and finally lupines…all lovely.  I do love Virginia, but what you see along interstate 95 is not the prettiest part.  I did enjoy a few farm scenes, and then, especially loved passing near to the Stonewall Jackson shrine, which I have visited in the past.  By the time I approached Washington D.C. the traffic had intensified (not unusual, even for a Saturday) and it was stop and go for a long time.  But then I had a gift….on the bridge where the views over to the shrines and capitol are clearest I was the only vehicle in sight so I had the pleasure of looking around and enjoying the views without worrying about hitting a car.  It really was a gift because I love those monuments and buildings.
This morning, through much of New Jersey I witnessed a beautiful, peaceful overcast sky that just couldn’t hide the splendor of the sun which highlighted the clouds and sprayed incredible rays over the entire landscape…for miles and miles I saw it.  New York City was a delight too…by the time I was in Elizabeth, NJ. And it continued over the GW bridge.  Then when I got to Fairfield, CT I had a wonderful surprise…wisteria….twice!!  So much beauty in a lot of places.
This morning I listened to the Elvis radio channel for a while, which I rarely do any more.  They played a couple of his more religious songs, “How Great Thou Art” and “An Evening Prayer.”  I thought about how main stream it was to sing things like that in the early 1970s.  Today it is not generally socially acceptable to talk about the magnificence of God and how we need forgiveness ….subjects of those songs.  It made me sad because when we lose our understanding of how far above us our God is we also lose our felt need to be forgiven.  Then we are lost.  But I am very thankful for a special trip that felt like a personal gift from someone who loves me.

“Your Kingdom Come”: A Present Dimension, A Progressive Discovery and a Permanent Display

 

Screenshot 2019-04-26 09.36.08.png Recently I was reminded that not all professing Christians who frequently pray The Lord’s Prayer understand what the phrase “your kingdom come” means.   This morning I read Alistair Begg’s explanation (which I very much agree with) in a series he is teaching on The Lord’s Prayer.

Begg:

[W]hen we think in terms of the kingdom of God, we think in terms of something that is vastly different from anything that we have ever encountered or will encounter in the pages of history. Many hymns have been written to this end. For example, quoting from one,

His kingdom cannot fail,

He rules o’er earth and heav’n;

The keys of death and hell

Are to our [Savior] giv’n:

[So] lift up your heart,

Lift up your voice!

Rejoice again, I say rejoice!

The psalmist, speaking in the same vein in 145:13, says, “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.”

…Now, in light of this we need to ask the question, what is it we’re asking for when we take up this phrase in our prayers, “Your kingdom come”?  Well, we can say at least this: that we are asking that God’s sovereign rule might increasingly be established in the hearts and lives of those who acknowledge him as King, and also in the lives of those who are presently living in rebellion against God and who are currently held captive by the powers of darkness.  Because one of the great distinguishing features of faith in Christ is that God has rescued us–and I’m quoting Colossians 1:13–“He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and [he has] brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.”  We are, then, if you like, the kids of the kingdom by grace and through faith.  And this dimension of the sovereignty of God we ought not to pass over too quickly–that in the phrase “Your kingdom come” we’re reminding ourselves of the fact that God is King, that he is sovereign over all; that, again as the psalmist puts it, “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.”–Psalm 115:3.  The psalmist, speaking in the same vein in 145:13, says, “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.”

…[W]hen you come to the Gospels, you discover that Jesus is going through the towns and villages, and he’s preaching the good news of the kingdom. And he is telling people, “There is a kingdom, and I’m the King.  You’re not in the kingdom, but if you will follow me, you may become a subject of the King and you may become part of the kingdom.”  And it is essentially this picture that we have in mind when we take this phrase and pray, “Your kingdom come.”  And in addressing that, it is important for us to keep in mind that the emphasis of Jesus–indeed, the striking emphasis of the whole Bible–is upon the spiritual and inward character of the kingdom of God and the way in which he rules in the lives of men and women.  Nowhere is this more clearly pointed out than in John 18, when Jesus, responding to Pilate’s question, says, “My kingdom is not of this world.  If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews.  But now my kingdom is from another place.”

…Now, when you think in these terms you discover that there is both a present dimension and a progressive discovery, and then finally a permanent display of God’s kingdom–a present dimension, a progressive discovery, and there will one day be a permanent display of the kingdom of God.

Listen to or read it all here.

He is Risen

 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.  But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.   For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.   For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  I Cor. 15:9-22

Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say: Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!
Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won; Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids Him rise; Alleluia!
Christ has opened Paradise. Alleluia!
Lives again our glorious King; Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now they sting? Alleluia!
Dying once, He all doth save: Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!
Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head; Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise; Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies.  Alleluia!
Amen.

The Church: One Body Across Time and Space

More commentary related to the Notre Dame fire:

….If this fire is something of a societal Rorschach test, those who confess the Nicene creed should nonetheless perceive in this cathedral infinitely more than a monument or artefact. Right alongside the articles of “I believe in God, the Father Almighty… in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God… and in the Holy Spirit,” we also “believe in one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.” Our crucified and risen Lord declared “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).

Based on that promise, Christians who have recited the Apostle’s creed through the ages have confessed that we believe in “the communion of saints.” We are united not merely across geographical locale with other Christians around the world today; we are also united across time with those in every age who are joined to Jesus Christ, our crucified and risen Lord who is Head of his Body and Bride: the Church.

We are initiated into the church through baptism into the one name that we all share; we are baptized into “the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” regardless of our class, race, ethnicity, gender, and regardless of whether we meet in a historic cathedral, a college campus, a nursing home, at the ends of the earth, or underground in secret.

The first epistle of Peter declares: “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 2:5–6).

Creedal belief in the church’s holiness is not to pretend the church isn’t made up of sinners or in serious need of reform, but is confessed in hope of a sure future because in Jesus’ resurrection we have already seen the firstfruits of our shared resurrection to come. The Head of the Church is risen, ascended, glorified, and returning soon.

It is such a promise, and such a hope, that enables Christians to confidently endure change across centuries, regimes, empires, peacetime, and the worst disasters imaginable. Our greatest accomplishments, art, and all that we love will return to dust with us. But Christ himself, as our hope for the abiding future of the church, allows us to evade the paralysis we might feel when grappling with our morality and the transience of all things; he also is our aid against the resigned exasperation of chasing the wind vainly, striving to achieve a significance that will outlive us.

He closed with this:

Drying our tears, with belief in “one holy, catholic, and apostolic church,” I pray that the blaze at Notre Dame cathedral ignites a refining crucible of renewal. As many have sung before us and will sing after us:

The church’s one Foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord;
She is his new creation
By water and the Word:
From heav’n he came and sought her
To be his holy bride;
With his own blood he bought her,
And for her life he died.

Elect from ev’ry nation,
Yet one o’er all the earth,
Her charter of salvation
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food.
And to one hope she presses,
With ev’ry grace endued.

Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distressed,
Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song.

The church shall never perish!
Her dear Lord to defend,
To guide, sustain and cherish
Is with her to the end;
Though there be those that hate her,
And false sons in her pale,
Against or foe or traitor
She ever shall prevail.

‘Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace for evermore;
Till with the vision glorious
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great church victorious
Shall be the church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union
With the God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won:
O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we,
Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may dwell with thee.

Read it all here.

 

Overburdened With Meaning

Screenshot 2019-04-19 06.37.16.png

Apparently not everyone is unhappy that Notre Dame Cathedral burned.

“But for some people in France, Notre Dame has also served as a deep-seated symbol of resentment, a monument to a deeply flawed institution and an idealized Christian European France that arguably never existed in the first place. ‘The building was so overburdened with meaning that its burning feels like an act of liberation,’ says Patricio del Real, an architecture historian at Harvard University.”

Read it all here.