Tuesday, May 29, 2012

8 random articles of note

1) "The really courageous man is he who defies tyrannies young as the morning and superstitions fresh as the first flowers. The only true free-thinker is he whose intellect is as much free from the future as from the past. He cares as little for what will be as for what has been; he cares only for what ought to be.”  Happy birthday, G. K. Chesterton!

2) Israeli archaeologists have unearthed a 2,700-year-old clay seal with the name of Bethlehem, showing that the town existed centuries before it was revered as Jesus' birthplace.

3) Ben Witherington Jr. on "the growing suspicion that William Harris, the guru on levels of literacy in the ancient world (no more than 10-20%) was wrong, indeed badly wrong if we take into account all different sorts of literacies..."

4) Too catholic to be Catholic.  Peter Leithart on why his catholicity leads him to be a Protestant.

5) "...this is a generation mired in fake love and fake war, and that is dangerous. A man who learns to be a lover through porn will simultaneously love everyone and no one. A man obsessed with violent gaming can learn to fight everyone and no one."  
--Russell Moore, "Fake Love, Fake War"

6) "In their first Sunday worship away from their 280-year-old historic property, the members of The Falls Church Anglican 
congregation in Falls Church, Virginia were too busy laughing and greeting one another to notice the new inconveniences."  
--The costly faithfulness of the Falls Church

7) A New Testament scholar reviews MIB3.

8) What were the top baby names in 2011?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

glory of the gospel ministry

I was moved by what I read below -- especially the last paragraph -- taken from a message entitled "The Glory of the Gospel Ministry," by Norman A. Madson.  It was delivered at the 1950 Convention of the Norwegian Synod of the American Evangelical Lutheran Church...

In his novel Kristus for Pilatus (Christ before Pilate), Waldemar Agar tells of an aged pastor who has given his all in a faithful ministry, but who, as the work becomes too strenuous for his advanced age, and the many new demands which a new age has brought with it make it imperative that he retire, stands before a picture of the thorn-crowned Man from Nazareth, whom the unjust Roman judge is about to send to the cross, and these are the thoughts which crowd in upon him:
There is the “kingdom within you” in its highest potential. An independent kingdom, -- an incomprehensible kingdom, whose defeats are victories, whose mightiest representatives are they who are trampled in the dust, whose most powerful laws are unaccepted and unwritten by men, and whose mightiest men walk with the aid of a staff and a crutch. A kingdom in which the sighs of the impoverished are imperative commands, and an imperial edict is null and void. A kingdom which continues to conquer the world by not giving a rap about what belongs to the world -- a kingdom in which men win what they have lost and lose what they imagine themselves to have won. The most inconceivable, the strongest of all kingdoms established for all eternity by a forsaken Man in the most lonely moment of His life, when He succumbed and believed Himself (as was actually the case) forsaken of God.

Read the complete text here.  

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

no perfect people: the gospel in counseling

Francis Schaeffer writes the following in a personal letter to Kristina, a woman who had experienced years of chronic depression. She had suffered much personal isolation and had lost the comforting sense of the reality of God.  

This excerpt strikes me as having a gospel-centered approach in counseling, in that it fully recognizes the effects of the fall (in all of us) and of the reality of grace and hope through Christ.  (The highlights below have been added by me.)

"I understand too what you write about the difficulty of finding a consolation and reality.  I think there are really two things to see:  first, that when a person goes through the kind of difficulty you have gone through, this kind of feeling is not to be unexpected; and secondly, all men since the Fall-- although in a far lesser degree and a far lesser agony than you have known-- also have some such problems.  

"Increasingly I am so aware that just as there are no perfect people physically so there are no perfect people psychologically.  There are differences in intensity of physical problems and differences of intensity in psychological problems.    But there is no such thing, since man has revolted against God, as people who are completely well, either physically or psychologically.  Thus, as I have people come here who have problems, my own contact with them always involves a very deep realization that there may be differences of degree and kind of problem, but it is not that they are sick and I am well.  I think this makes for a depth of human contact that is so lacking in much medical and psychiatric treatment.  So often the doctor stands without a human contact with those who are before him.  But when we come to one another on a really Christian basis, it seems to me this need not be the case; rather, we can stand together as poor people who are marked with the sorrow of a mankind who has revolted against God. 

"At the same time, as Christians we do not have to allow the pendulum to swing between [the extreme of] a false idealism and romantic hope, or the opposite [extreme] of despair.  The infinite finished work of Christ upon Calvary's cross not only opens up the gates of Heaven to us when we accept Him as Savior; but it also provides, in the present life, for a substantial advance in the areas of psychological need."

(Francis Schaeffer, July 19, 1963, from Letters of Francis A. Schaeffer, pp. 96-7)