Monday, April 16, 2012

Sermon audio: He Makes Me Lie Down sermon #1

'The Human Schedule' sermon mp3 here.

Quotes from sermon 'The Human Schedule'

Quotes from yesterday's sermon "The Human Schedule," first in the series 'He Makes Me Lie Down': The Rest of the Christian Life. Some of these I didn't actually get around to using, but they fit well. 

"Time is like a handful of sand- the tighter you grasp it, the faster it runs through your fingers." – Anon     

“We are embedded in time but time is also embedded in us....[We are created] to live rhythmically in the rhythms of creation."  Eugene Peterson (his whole section on Creation in 'Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places' is excellent).

 “I cannot make the universe obey me.” - Thomas Merton

"We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin. But mere time does nothing either to the fact or to the guilt of a sin." – C. S. Lewis

[This is from the Atlantic article describing the cell phone going off in the middle of Wynton Marsalis' final phrase of his solo trumpet piece.  After the cell rings out, interrupting Marsalis...]
"People started giggling and picking up their drinks. The moment—the whole performance—unraveled...Marsalis paused for a beat, motionless, and his eyebrows arched. I scrawled on a sheet of notepaper, MAGIC, RUINED. The cell-phone offender scooted into the hall as the chatter in the room grew louder. Still frozen at the microphone, Marsalis replayed the silly cell-phone melody note for note. Then he repeated it, and began improvising variations on the tune. The audience slowly came back to him. In a few minutes he resolved the improvisation—which had changed keys once or twice and throttled down to a ballad tempo—and ended up exactly where he had left off..."

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Resources on Christianity and Science

Since I'm preaching on Genesis 1-2 this week and next, here's some good resources on the relationship between Christianity and science.
Alvin Plantinga has a new book out about this issue called "Where the Conflict Really Lies," which I'm sure will be a definitive treatment.
Jack Collins was my Hebrew teacher during seminary and his exegesis of Genesis1-2 is the most helpful I've seen.  It's found in his commentary on Genesis 1-4.
Also helpful for covering the interpretive options and providing additional support to Collins' reading of Gen. 1-2 is Vern Poythress' book Redeeming Science.

New Sermon Series: "He Makes Me Lie Down" - The Rest of the Christian Life

Ok, I completely stole the last phrase of this series title from Mark Buchanan, who's book "The Rest of God," started me thinking about doing a series on this theme.  Tomorrow (4/15) and next Sunday (4/22) we'll talk about the Christian form and freedom of living in time.  Then we'll move on to talk about Sabbath (weeks 3 & 4), seasons (week 5), and our ultimate Sabbath rest (week 6). The sermons should be available at the Redeemer website and itunes via podcast by Sunday night of each week.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Seek: Reports from the Edges of America and BeyondSeek: Reports from the Edges of America and Beyond by Denis Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

All of these journalistic essays are good but a few of them are great. In "Hippies," Johnson and a few of his old buddies (who were real hippies back in the day), come out of retirement to attend The Rainbow Festival in Oregon.  Looking at his aged companions Johnson says "How did we all get so old? Sitting around laughing at old people probably caused it" (20).  The guys relive some of their former excesses (shrooms and all), but Johnson is cynical, haunted: he knows where all of this goes. "In a four-square mile swatch of the Ochoco Forest the misadventures of a whole generation continue.  Here in this bunch of 10,000 or 50,000 people somehow unable to count themselves I see my generation epitomized: a Peter Pan generation nannied by matronly Wendys like Bill and Hillary Clinton, our politics a confusion of Red and Green beneath the black flag of Anarchy; cross-eyed and well-meaning, self-righteous, self-satisfied; close-minded, hypocritical, intolerant - Loving You! - Sieg Heil!" (28). Johnson closes with a memory of his first acid trip, of the euphoria punctured by his mother's desperate "where have you been?!" -  a question, the author realizes, that remains appropriate of him and all his fellow travelers on the hippie trail.

"Bikers for Jesus" tells about Johnson's trip to a Christian motorcycle rally/revival meeting. Though alienated by some of the charismatic culture, Johnson identifies with these people who have found a road out of violence and addiction.  He recounts his own conversion to Christianity in this essay.

Finally, the pieces on Africa are brilliant: "The Civil War in Hell," "An Anarchist's Guide to Somolia," and "The Small Boy's Unit."

View all my reviews

Monday, February 20, 2012

Quotes & the Exercise from my sermon on Isaiah 52-53: Facing Anxiety

The first quote comes in the second point on God saving us from our guilt; it's from the book What It Is Like To Go To War by Karl Marlantes.  Marlantes appeared out of nowhere on the literary scene a couple of years ago with his brilliant first novel, Matterhorn, a semi-autobiographical account (it seems to me) of the author's experience as a Marine fighting in Vietnam.  That book appeared on many 'best books of the year' lists, and rightfully so; it's one of my favorite war novels. But then this year Marlantes published What It Is Like To Go To War, which are his personal reflections on the different aspects of being a soldier in the modern world. The quote I used comes in his chapter called "Guilt" and describes how the author was haunted for years by visions of the face and eyes of one of the NVA soldiers he killed up close in a firefight:
That kid’s dark eyes would stare at me in my mind’s eye at the oddest times.  I’d be driving at night and his face would appear on the windscreen.  I’d be talking at work and that face would suddenly overwhelm me and I’d fight to stay with the person I was talking with. 

The other quotes come from Tolkien's The Two Towers where Theoden expresses his doubt and despair in the face of the merciless siege at Helm's Deep:
It is said that the Horburg has never fallen to assault, but now my heart is doubtful. The world changes, and all that once was strong now proves unsure.  How shall any tower withstand such numbers and such reckless hate?

Then, with Aragorn's encouragement (magnified in the movie version), Theoden and the remaining warriors ride out and charge into the sea of orcs before them:
With a cry and a great noise they charged.  Down from the gates they roared, over the causeway they swept, and they drove through the hosts of Isengard as a wind among grass.

Finally, as part of my application I asked people to work through the following exercise that I gave as a handout:
Martin Luther said true Christianity is a matter of ‘personal pronouns.’ Replace the generic pronouns in the (second, blank) text of Isaiah 53.5 below with a personal pronoun (“my”) or, even better, your own name. Then spend some time identifying the specific sins for which you still feel a sense of guilt: what past actions, thoughts, or failures rob you of a sense of God's comfort when you face anxiety?  What have you done that you feel "disqualifies" you from God's care?  
Write those things down in the appropriate blanks.
Read the result, meditate on Is. 53.5, and believe that Christ has put away your sins.

Isaiah 53.5
[5] But he was pierced for
our transgressions;
                  he was crushed for
our iniquities;
                  upon him was the chastisement
 that brought us peace,
                  and with his wounds
 we are healed.

[5] But Christ was pierced for
__________ ____________________;

                  he was crushed for

__________ ________________________;

                  upon him was the chastisement

that brought ____________ peace,

                  and with his wounds

 ___________ is healed.