a raven

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that’s it… just a raven.

a raven

holiness

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From James Loder (The Logic of the Spirit, 308):

The presence of God begets a sound mind; indeed it is so good that one does not even want to sin anymore. Holiness is not keeping the commandments, it is making them unnecessary.

visitor

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I’m sitting outside today, trying to get through yet more books to see what they have to say on a certain topic, and I had a visitor. She came to the gate and had a look around before taking off again.

ladybug

the church in the west

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I was sitting outside on the deck finishing, again, Miroslav Volf’s After Our Likeness and I looked up, then looked around. There were small patches of snow nearby, and there were even larger patches of snow on the other side of the street, where more shade kept the sun from doing its warming work.

Being I was reading about the church I couldn’t help thinking about the church while I was looking at the remaining snow. Some of it quickly disappeared, some of it will remain for a week or more. The white world we knew last weekend, however, is gone, and it is disappearing.

Focusing closely on the snow might be deceptive, for there would seem to be a lot of it left. But, it’s retreating, it’s melting under the heat. And the only hope is for more snow to come.

Or something like that.

a close view:

snow

a broader view:

snow patch

The inner life and our gathering

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From Miroslav Volf’s After Our Likeness (p.257):

A participative model of the church requires more than just values and practices that correspond to participative institutions. The church is not first of all a realm of moral purposes; it is the anticipation, constituted by the presence of the Spirit of God, of the eschatological gathering of the entire people of God in the communion of the triune God. Hence the church needs the vivifying presence of the Spirit, and without this presence, even a church with a decentralized participative structer and culture will become sterile, and perhaps more sterile even than a hiearchical church.

For it will either have to get along without the participation of most of its members, or it wil have to operate with more subtle and open forms of coercion. Successful participative church life must be sustained by deep spirituality. Only the person who lives from the Spirit of communion (2 Cor. 13:13) can participate authentically in the life of the ecclesial community.

missions

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The number two Christian missionary sending nation? South Korea

This certainly is no surprise to me, as my time at Fuller Seminary and at Wheaton, informed me that Koreans are among the most passionate and dedicated Christians around. This doesn’t mean they are without their own ecclesial issues, of course, many of which mimic the mega-church issues we have here.

This does reality raises a couple of curious thoughts. If Korea is #2 in sending missionaries can we in any way call Christianity a Western religion? Is it back to being what it was in the beginning, an Asian religion?

Second, what does this say about the Korean War. Certainly, had the whole north and south become communist the Koreans would not be sending missionaries to other parts of the world. War helped stop the tide of a destructive force, and gave room for an enlivening force to grow within South Korea, and throughout the world. Can I say all wars are wrong if the #2 missionary sending nation now is in its present existence precisely because of a very fierce war in the early 1950s?

History is a curious thing.

In more recent news

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The Vatican had this to say about violence against Christians in the Middle East:

“If we tell our people they have no right to offend, we have to tell the others they have no right to destroy us,” Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican’s Secretary of State (prime minister), told journalists in Rome.

“We must always stress our demand for reciprocity in political contacts with authorities in Islamic countries and, even more, in cultural contacts,” Foreign Minister Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo told the daily Corriere della Sera.

I agree with the stance, but I can’t help but think Polycarp was a lot more rousing to the faith with what he had to say.

Somehow I don’t think “We must always stress our demand for reciprocity in political contacts with authorities” is going to go down as famous phrase of Christian martyrdom.

“Hear me declare with boldness, I am a Christian. And if you wish to learn what the doctrines of Christianity are, appoint me a day, and you shall hear them,” as Polycarp said is a bit more impressive.

Though Polycarp did get burned alive, and that’s not something good for anyone, even if it does make for a good sense of duty in the rest of us.

Polycarp

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According to my Calendar of the Church today is the day we honor Polycarp. Now, Polycarp is a wonderful fellow, who we don’t know nearly as much as we should. He was a bishop, and according to testimony he was put in that position by his mentor, the Apostle John. Needless to say he was a very important leader for the Early Church, and led through his gifts of wisdom and holiness. When he was 86 years old he was arrested and burned alive, becoming a martyr for Jesus.

The Martyrdom of Polycarp is something all Christians should read. So being today is the day we honor Polycarp, here’s your chance (from CCEL):

We have written to you, brethren, as to what relates to the martyrs, and especially to the blessed Polycarp, who put an end to the persecution, having, as it were, set a seal upon it by his martyrdom. For almost all the events that happened previously [to this one], took place that the Lord might show us from above a martyrdom becoming the Gospel. For he waited to be delivered up, even as the Lord had done, that we also might become his followers, while we look not merely at what concerns ourselves but have regard also to our neighbors. For it is the part of a true and well-founded love, not only to wish one’s self to be saved, but also all the brethren.
All the martyrdoms, then, were blessed and noble which took place according to the will of God.
Read the rest of this entry »

nonintuitiveness

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“A non-running computer produces fewer errors,” says Hosten.

That’s fairly intuitive on the surface. But, the trick to this statement is the computer is still giving answers. It’s not running, but it’s working better than before.

Odd thing that. Gotta love quantum mechanics. It makes talking about the Trinity sound like common sense.

I think the some of the monastics I’ve read say much the same thing, contra ministry manuals, which are so terribly Newtonian even if they do like to throw the phrase “paradigm shift” around a lot.

Thoughts on the Spirit

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From the National Pastors Convention. And from a Methodist oddly enough. Skye Jethani notes this at the end of the post:

The mysterious movement of God’s Spirit is what separates spiritual leadership from all other kinds. Some want us to believe that “leadership is leadership” whether in business, government, or church. And we can take principles from one arena and employ them in the others. I don’t believe that. Sure, pragmatics are transferable, but the work of the Living God is something altogether mysterious and uncontrollable.

I certainly agree. Which is sort of what bothers me about many books on ministry.