Friday, September 30, 2016

Chadwick: springing the trap

Friday, September 30, 2016
Meditation:
    And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
    —Mark 11:27-33 (ESV)
Quotation:
    Here [Mark 11:27-33] they discerned a flaw, a heresy; and they would force Him either to make a fatal claim, or else to moderate His pretensions at their bidding, which would promptly restore their lost influence and leadership.
    Nor need we shrink from confessing that our Lord was justly open to such reproach, unless He was indeed Divine, unless He was deliberately preparing His followers for that astonishing revelation, soon to come, which threw the Church upon her knees in adoration of her God manifest in flesh.
    ... G. A. Chadwick (1840-1923), The Gospel According to St. Mark, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1891, p. 131 (see the book)
    See also Mark 11:27-33; Matt. 23:21-27; 26:3-4; Luke 20:1-8; 20:40; 22:2; John 5:18; 7:1
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, You come to my heart with truth and power.
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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Reid: the language of the Gospel

Thursday, September 29, 2016
    Feast of Michael & All Angels
Meditation:
    While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.” (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
    Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.”
    
    —Acts 17:16-23 (ESV)
Quotation:
    If those who say that we must preach the same message as Paul and the other apostles mean that we should also exhibit the same adaptability and sensitivity to the background culture, then they are right... If, however, they mean that we should expect results merely by repeating the actual phrases found in the New Testament, then they are mistaken. They are making, in fact, one of the basic mistakes in verbal communication, which is to confuse words with what they describe. The gospel is something God has done, not a series of phrases describing it.
    Saying this does not undermine the Christian’s belief in the inspiration of the Bible, for the important thing about the Bible is what it talks about, rather than the way it does the talking. If we considered that there was the same degree of essential inspiration in the way it does the talking, then we would have to insist that every Christian learn Hebrew and Greek. The mere fact that we in the Western world read translations of the scriptures is a clear admission that times and cultures have changed.
    ... Gavin Reid (b. 1934), The Gagging of God, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1969, p. 65 (see the book)
    See also Acts 17:16-23; Isa. 28:9-12; Acts 2:7-11; 1 Cor. 14:21
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, You speak to all people in their own language. Show me what I must do to carry the Gospel to those You have chosen.
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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Percy: They cast their nets in Galilee

Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Meditation:
    As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.
    “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”
    —Matthew 4:18-19 (NIV)
Quotation:
They cast their nets in Galilee, just off the hills of brown;
Such happy, simple fisherfolk, before the Lord came down.
Contented, peaceful fishermen, before they ever knew
The peace of God that filled their hearts brimful, and broke them too.

Young John who trimmed the flapping sail, homeless in Patmos died.
Peter, who hauled the teeming net, head-down was crucified.
The peace of God, it is no peace, but strife closed in the sod;
Yet, brothers, pray for but one thing—the marvelous peace of God.
    ... William Alexander Percy (1885-1943), Enzio’s Kingdom: and other poems, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1924, p. 9 (see the book)
    See also Matt. 10:39; 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 17:33; John 12:25; 14:27; Rom. 5:1-2; Phil. 4:7
Quiet time reflection:
    I thank You and praise You for Your victory in the church.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Bonhoeffer: participate in the sufferings of God

Tuesday, September 27, 2016
    Feast of Vincent de Paul, Founder of the Congregation of the Mission (Lazarists), 1660
Meditation:
    Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.
    —Colossians 1:24 (NIV)
Quotation:
    Man is challenged to participate in the sufferings of God at the hands of a godless world.
    He must therefore plunge himself into the life of a godless world, without attempting to gloss over its ungodliness with a veneer of religion or trying to transfigure it. He must live a ‘worldly’ life and so participate in the suffering of God. He may live a worldly life as one emancipated from all false religions and obligations. To be a Christian does not mean to be religious in a particular way, to cultivate some particular form of asceticism (as a sinner, a penitent, or a saint), but to be a man. It is not some religious act which makes a Christian what he is, but participation in the suffering of God in the life of the world.
    ... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Letters and Papers from Prison, London: Macmillan, 1962, p. 174 (see the book)
    See also Col. 1:24; Matt. 5:11; Acts 5:41; Rom. 5:3-4; 2 Cor. 1:8; Phil. 2:17; 1 Thess. 2:14-16; Heb. 2:18; 5:8-10; 1 Pet. 2:21
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, I am Your servant to use in the world.
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Monday, September 26, 2016

Barclay: redemptive Christianity

Monday, September 26, 2016
    Commemoration of Wilson Carlile, Priest, Founder of the Church Army, 1942
Meditation:
    [Jesus:] “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
    —John 3:7-8 (ESV)
Quotation:
    It is fatally easy to think of Christianity as something to be discussed and not as something to be experienced. It is certainly important to have an intellectual grasp of the orb of Christian truth; but it is still more important to have a vital, living experience of the power of Jesus Christ. When a man undergoes treatment from a doctor, he does not need to know ... the way in which the drug works on his body in order to be cured. There is a sense in which Christianity is like that. At the heart of Christianity there is a mystery, but it is not the mystery of intellectual appreciation; it is the mystery of redemption.
    ... William Barclay (1907-1978), The Gospel of John, v. 1, Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 1965, p. 123 (see the book)
    See also John 3:7-8; Matt. 9:5-6; 16:2-4; Mark 2:17; Luke5:31-32; Acts 2:4,41
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, life is a mystery, yet You are there in the midst of it.
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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Andrewes: What will move you?

Sunday, September 25, 2016
    Feast of Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, Spiritual Writer, 1626
    Commemoration of Sergius of Radonezh, Russian Monastic Reformer, Teacher, 1392
Meditation:
    When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.
    —Mark 6:34 (ESV)
Quotation:
    What will move you? Will pity? Here is distress never the like. Will duty? Here is a Person never the like. Will fear? Here is wrath never the like. Will remorse? Here are sins never the like. Will kindness? Here is love never the like. Will bounty? Here are benefits never the like. Will all these? Here they be all, ... all in the highest degree.
    ... Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626), preached April 6, 1604, “Sermon on Good Friday”, in Ninety-six Sermons, v. II, Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841, p. 154 (see the book)
    See also Mark 6:34; Matt. 5:7; 21:12,13; Luke 6:34,35; 11:37-54
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, Your mercy is beyond all that I can comprehend.
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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Tournier: personal language

Saturday, September 24, 2016
Meditation:
    Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”
    —Matthew 13:10-13 (ESV)
Quotation:
    Those old Greek gods are not just poetry and legend. In them the Ancients personified living realities—intelligence, beauty, love, or lust, which are still at work in our hearts, and which fashion our person. The language they speak is that of image and myth, which touches the person much more directly than the explicit language of science and the intellectual dialectic of the modern world. It is also the language of the Bible, of the parables of Christ, which the rationalist of today finds it so difficult to understand, of the Word of God which demands of us not a discussion but a personal decision.
    ... Paul Tournier (1898-1986), The Meaning of Persons, New York: Harper, 1957, p. 132 (see the book)
    See also Matt. 13:10-13; 25:29; Luke 8:18; John 15:2-5
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, may I not shrink from the demands of Your parables.
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