Gospel Centered

From John R. W. Stott’s The Message of Galatians, here his commentary on Galatians chapter 1, verse 7:

To tamper with the gospel is always to trouble the church, because the church is created and lives by the gospel.  Indeed, the church’s greatest troublemakers (now as then) are not those outside who oppose, ridicule and persecute it, but those inside who try to change the gospel.  It is they who trouble the church.  Conversely, the only way to be a good churchman is to be a good gospel-man.  The best way to serve the church is to believe and to preach the gospel.

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A Black Hole and A Disciplined Mind

This was written by Shirley Wickers when going through chemotherapy and radiation. Many of us can identify with her despair and feelings.

Black Hole: A Prayer for Those Going Through Dark Places

O God, I’m right back in that limbo world again:
      can’t feel You close to me, can’t feel anything.
It seemed as if things were fine, walking in the light.
      Then suddenly, panic: it’s all dark, I’m drowning.
Worries, no more than they were before,
      and yet they are so heavy, so unsolvable, so endless, sucking me down.
 And I am listening to the enemy who is damning me to death with his sly lies.
Doctors tell us that feeling low is just like any other illness:
      brought on by stress, hormones, exhaustion, debility.
Then why do I feel so guilty about it,
      so powerless to drag myself out, so unguarded?
Where is my knowledge of you being there right beside me;
      part of me while my feelings scream that because I’m like this I have failed you,
      therefore I am less than nothing?
Useless rubbish?
Please give me the disciplined mind to refuse to entertain these trespassing thoughts
      which have no right to be there because I am your child;
To wait quietly in faith until my receiving equipment is repaired
      and switched on again and I can feel you filing me with your big heart,
      forgiving me, empowering me, and remobilizing me,
      just where you’ve been all the time.
Quoted by Alistair Begg in the second part of a sermon titled The Ascension.  This is my very unpoetic interpretation of the poem script.

 

Now Hath Christ Arisen!

 

This joyful Eastertide,
Away with sin and sorrow!
My love, the Crucified,
Hath sprung to life this morrow.

Refrain:
Had Christ, that once was slain,
Ne’er burst his three-day prison
Our faith had been in vain:
But now hath Christ arisen, arisen, arisen!

My flesh in hope shall rest,
And for a season slumber:
Till trump from east to west
Shall wake the dead in number.

Death’s flood hath lost his chill,
Since Jesus crossed the river:
Lover of souls, from ill
My passing soul deliver.

Our choir will sing this Dutch carol tomorrow.

Toward a World Welfare State

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This is the book that transformed my prejudice against science fiction.  I only read it because it was written by one of my favorite writers, C. S. Lewis, who I’ve been reading and re-reading for 45 years.  I doubt I would have been insightful enough to have understood That Hideous Strength back in the 1970’s, but it stunned me when I finally read it, in the last 10 years.  It still does.  My blog name, “Into the Liquid Light” came from a passage in the book.

Benjamin Hutchison has written about the book in a recent article titled C. S. Lewis: Critic of Progressivism.

[W]hile most of us associate Lewis with theological literature, the man who gave us Narnia also mounted firm opposition to the progressive-leftist ideals that swept swiftly across the world stage in his time. Lewis’s resistance to European progressivism was, first and foremost, a reflection on the reality of man’s nature, and the failings of progressivism to account accurately for man’s fallen state. He rejected progressivism’s assumption of man’s inherent goodness, of the state as an idol. Lewis succinctly described progressivism as “state worship,” predicated on the assumption of man’s inevitable rise to god-hood.

Entering onto the stage of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries’ fixation on progress and the industrial revolution, a notable Lewis work on contemporary issues of his day (moral, spiritual, and practical) was his collection of essays called Present Concerns. This work, largely unknown to anyone but Lewis devotees, was recently discussed in this journal by scholar Gary Gregg. But perhaps the best insight into Lewis on progressivism and politics was a work of fiction—namely, his 1945 science-fiction novel, That Hideous Strength, the third and final book of his “Space Trilogy.” Covering a wide range of themes from marriage to human pride, the book’s plotline is centered on a progressivist organization called the National Institute for Co-ordinated Experiments (NICE), and its determination to use science to mend all of man’s ailments.

The story begins with the ordinary and quiet lives of the recently married Jane and Mark Studdock, but quickly expands to a provocative narrative. Mark, a new senior fellow and sociologist at Bracton College, soon finds himself in the “inner-circle” of the “Progressivist Element” at the college. In opposition to the “outsiders” and “obstructionists” (read: conservatives), the Progressivist Element soon starts formalizing a deal with the larger, nation-wide progressive organization, NICE, which intends to buy land from Bracton for its new facilities.
“The NICE was the first-fruits of that constructive fusion between the state and the laboratory on which so many thoughtful people base their hopes of a better world,” Lewis satirically noted, underscoring the progressive tendencies of state-controlled science, common to so many European (and American) governments of Lewis’s day. After being duped and flattered by Progressivist Element leader Lord Feverstone, Mark soon finds himself in a bittersweet relationship with NICE. Desperate for recognition and acceptance by the leadership at NICE, Mark becomes dependent on its employment, yet he remains unaware of his ambiguous job description.
………Lewis later warns of this dangerous scientism in government, cautioning that if we accept scientism in full, “we must give full weight to the claim that nothing but science, and science globally applied, and therefore unprecedented Government controls, can produce full bellies and medical care for the whole human race: nothing, in short, but a world Welfare State.”
And all of this, of course, is done in the name of “niceness.”

 

Tenebrae

Like many others, my church held a Tenebrae service last evening.  It was a somber service, accented by growing darkness, as we remembered the final events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion.  Calvin College’s resource library  provides a good guide for Tenebrae observance (which influenced our service).  From their site:

The service of Tenebrae, meaning “darkness” or “shadows,” has been practiced by the church since medieval times. Once a service for the monastic community, Tenebrae later became an important part of the worship of the common folk during Holy Week.
 Tenebrae
A Service of Shadows
The service of Tenebrae, meaning “darkness” or “shadows,” has been practiced by the church since medieval times. Once a service for the monastic community, Tenebrae later became an important part of the worship of the common folk during Holy Week. We join Christians of many generations throughout the world in using the liturgy of Tenebrae.
Tenebrae is a prolonged meditation on Christ’s suffering. Readings trace the story of Christ’s passion, music portrays his pathos, and the power of silence and darkness suggests the drama of this momentous day. As lights are extinguished, we ponder the depth of Christ’s suffering and death; we remember the cataclysmic nature of his sacrifice as we hear the overwhelming sound of the “strepitus”; and through the return of the small but persistent flame of the Christ candle at the conclusion of the service, we anticipate the joy of ultimate victory.
Recommended, and included in our service was Luci Shaw’s poem:
“Judas, Peter”
because we are all
betrayers, taking
silver and eating
body and blood and asking
(guilty) is it I and hearing
him say yes
it would be simple for us all
to rush out
and hang ourselves
but if we find grace
to cry and wait
after the voice of morning
has crowed in our ears
clearly enough
to break our hearts
he will be there
to ask us each again
do you love me?
It is good to be reminded that we, too, are guilty….
But because of the Lamb of God we are forgiven and we have Hope.
None other Lamb, none other Name,
None other hope in Heav’n or earth or sea,
None other hiding place from guilt and shame,
None beside Thee!
My faith burns low, my hope burns low;
Only my heart’s desire cries out in me
By the deep thunder of its want and woe,
Cries out to Thee.
Lord, Thou art Life, though I be dead;
Love’s fire Thou art, however cold I be:
Nor Heav’n have I, nor place to lay my head,
Nor home, but Thee.
                                                       Christina Rosetti
Here is a link to my choir singing “None Other Lamb” last night.