According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals
and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Fears, Anxieties, Discouragement, even Distress, are the times of Empowerment and Deliverance

 
As I read this piece in Relevant Magazine (unaffiliated to Relevancy22 here) I was reminded of the spiritual helpfulness that can come in times of personal distress affecting our emotional, social, and personal self-awareness. We've all been there at one time or another. A time of great personal darkness and destruction.  To many, these times are personally devastating and lead to greater helplessness, and/or stronger desires for avoidance and incoherent answers, addictions, or toxic lives (something known as an active "defensive position" of refusing to deal with the problem at hand because of its resultant magnitude of effect upon our lives). However, if attended to within the power of God, and faced honestly, we may find greater personal strength and more satisfying decisions than at first believed possible. David Guetta's "Titanium" is a good example of this dilemma where one's personal world must "blow up" if one is to grow beyond the confines of themselves and their limiting, or destructive, personal patterns of thought and living. Without letting go of the past we cannot move forward to our future.
 
All our questions, all of our struggles, all of our "black abysses," have become willfully entangled about our lives to the point of spiritually denying to us the power and freedom that God can bring to a life through Jesus. This is what Peter Rollins refers to as a personalized form of "pyro-theology' in its most basic reconstructive stages that comes into a person's life and must require one to be willing to deconstruct themselves in honest analysis (Christianity calls such actions by the cyclical pattern names of repentance and confession - which are a series of "death to life" sequences a believer must go through). Without such an effort of willful doubt, disbelief, and spiritual restructuring, a person can be left paralyzed to the Spirit of God's power of love and faith, becoming receptive to their darkest fears and hatreds without personal, positive effectual growth.
 
These darker times within our lives are not unusual. In reality they are quite normal when listening to the Christian testimonies one-after-another testifying to "leaving oneself behind" to find God's power of life and hope. Many, many Christians go through these darker times of "spiritual rebirth" by first going through their darkest afflictions and turmoils. That is, each has learned the lesson of coming to the end of oneself in order to be able to find oneself through Jesus' rebirth and spiritual liberation of spirit, soul, mind and body. More often than not this is the usual Christian story. Afterwhich this same form of docu-drama is necessarily replayed again-and-again within the growing Christian life as God's Spirit moves from room-to-room within our souls liberating us from the forces that would place us on Hell's doorstep and leave us for dead. At each entrance Jesus calls us forth to life just as He re-enacted in raising Lazarus from the dead... refusing death's hold upon our spirits which He has created for life and breath, renewal and reclamation, rebirth and resurrection.
 
I like to think of these cycles within the Christian life as cycles of applied atonement. That is, just as our Savior had to face His own wilderness of fear and temptation, His trial and crucifixion, death, and resurrection/ascension, so too must the Christian go through the same figuratively. We must not expect that any one of these stages must be left off in our own lives as deeply conflicted by sin and death as they are. However, in the struggle what we may expect is God's presence and deliverance - even when we feel most abandoned upon our own crosses of suffering and pain.... Spiritual deliverance is not a pleasant process. The cost is as high as Jesus said it would be - but it's attainments of contentment and peace will be well rewarded for all who submit to the Spirit's power of enlivenment. Doctrinally, these processes are known as "death and resurrection." Or, "justification and sanctification" (think "justified in Christ" and "sanctuary for Christ"). These are but aspects of Jesus' atonement being applied by the Holy Spirit into our daily living lives.
 
I speak of these times of life as one who himself has gone through personal sorrows and woe to the great grief of my soul. Mostly as a Christian. For my spiritual rebirth was one of a child coming into his pre-teen years realizing my need for Jesus' salvation in my life. And yet, this did not disallow me of sin's ruin and wreck upon my life. Whenever I gave in to sin it was there. And whenever I learned by God's Spirit to let it go it remained ever near and present, but absent its destructive power upon my life. Most of all I have trusted and believed in God's love to reclaim my life. It is by this divine power of love that hope and trust have grown. In times of personal anxiety or distress I am learning to claim God's stabilizing strength of love, hope, spiritual empowerment. Each time can be hard, but the practice of it has become more normal than my practice of disbelief, distrust, or hopelessness. Those Christians whom I know have gone through no less... it is a badge of honor that we each wear as reclaimed by Jesus' love and redemption however tattered and worn those badges are. In Jesus we may find hope. Love. Life. To Jesus I commend each reader His power of grace, mercy, love and forgiveness. It is freely given to all. Take this power and claim it for your own. It is meant by God to be yours forever and everlasting.
 
R.E. Slater
May 8, 2013
 
*ps - for further on this topic, see the sidebar "Deconstructing Ourselves."
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
How Kierkegaard Changed My Life
                                                                                                             

By Michael D. Stark
May 3, 2013