Meditation at the End of the School Year (Riffing on Oswald Chambers)
As the year draws to a close we look back and see places where we’ve walked with God faithfully and where we’ve blown it. For some of us, we have some real victories and some growth to look back on. For others of us, we’ve blown it more than we’ve actually succeeded.
And the truth is that though the past is past it still matters. “… God requires an account of what is past” (Ecclesiastes 3:15).
So as we look back, and we might have some regrets, and that’s okay. As Oswald Chambers says, “God is the God of our yesterdays, and He allows the memory of them to turn the past into…spiritual growth for our future.”
But the good news is that our failures are in the past and we don’t have to live there. God forgives our stumbles and failures. He looks back our debts we’ve incurred along the way and like a spendthrift government he settles them. He pays them off. He bails us out. Jesus takes our past and embraces it in his past, in the cross. Again, as Oswald Chambers says, “Let the past rest, but let it rest in the sweet embrace of Christ.
God is the God of yesterday but he’s also the God of tomorrow. As Isaiah says, “… the Lord will go before you … .” God is keeping watch for our future so we won’t fall into the same traps as easily this time. He’s got a good plan for us this next week, and this summer, and this next year, and for forever.
So as we turn the chapter into the summer, and next year, know that whatever was in that last chapter that wasn’t God’s best for you - a bad relationship with a guy or a girl, or an addiction that just won’t seem to go away, or feelings of unworthiness or meaninglessness, or just apathy about your passion for God - God wants to help you turn the page and write a new chapter that’s driven by his grace, and his love, and his glory.
Notes on our College Ready Series
This weekend was the fourth and final session of our College Ready series for seniors graduating out of the youth group.
The series was a good time of getting the students together, blessing them, and trying to pass on a little wisdom. For two of the sessions we tried to pull back in key college students who could connect our graduating seniors to campus ministry at a range of common university choices
Here’s the breakdown of what we did.
A. We taught four sessions on:
1. A Christian Vision for Academics
2. Friendships & Dating
3. Campus Ministry & Kingdom Impact
4. Surviving the First Year (which featured a panel of returning college students who graduated from the youth group).
B. We had a senior dinner at one of the parent’s house, where we ate tacos, gave out presents, and offered a little charge.
C. I collected all the university information from our seniors so we can shoot them encouraging texts during the first week as well as campus-specific ministry info.
After all the sessions, here were the five key points we wanted students to take away.
Some final thoughts about college:
College is probably the last time you’ll get to really focus on learning, so enjoy it and be a passionate student. There are lots of smart students at the university, but few passionate students. Passionate students stand out.
College friends will likely be with you for a long time, they are often the folks you have stand up with you in your wedding, so seek out friends that will help you become the person God is calling you to be.
College is an ideal time (maybe the best time) to find a wife or husband, so date with an eye on marriage.
In your first week, rush campus ministry.
Remember that wherever you go, Jesus is Lord there too.
We are entering the age of “visualcy,” the third great transformation in the way that human beings engage and interpret their world. The first was orality…The second age was the age of literacy…But now the age of literacy is waning. Today the most compelling and significant information is communicated visually — neither through speech or in writing, but in still and moving images. To be sure, just as literate people do not cease to speak, visually oriented people do not cease to read. Even young Americans spend a great deal of time reading text messages, emails, and blogs. But as a culture shifts from literacy to visualcy, its members give greatest weight to communication that comes in the form of images. Visualcy poses challenges for a Christian tradition that both shaped and was shaped by the second great transition to literacy. It poses even greater challenges to the task of graduate education. Graduate school in the humanities is the very epitome of the age of literacy, built on reading and writing texts.
What do seminaries have to say to a culture that orients itself to the image, not the word (or the Word)? Or to use a better verb, what do they have to show? Seminaries that move actively to foster “visualcy” in their communication, pedagogy, and study will have an opportunity to let the word, and the Word, influence the emerging visual generation rather than be swept aside by it. Film and the visual arts are deeply theological, and utterly essential, areas of study for future church leaders. And every seminary should be considering whether they are equipping their graduates to be excellent practitioners, as well as interpreters, of visual communication.- http://www.catalystresources.org/issues/393Crouch.htm
Everyone, sooner or later, gets a thorough schooling in brokenness. The question becomes: What to do with the pieces? Some people hunker down atop the local pile of ruins and make do, Bedouin tending their goats in the shade of shattered giants. Others set about breaking what remains of the world into bits ever smaller and more jagged, kicking through the rubble like kids running through piles of leaves. And some people, passing among the scattered pieces of that great overturned jigsaw puzzle, start to pick up a piece here, a piece there, with a vague yet irresistible notion that perhaps something might be done about putting the thing back together again.
Two difficulties with this latter scheme at once present themselves. First of all, we have only ever glimpsed, as if through half-closed lids, the picture on the lid of the jigsaw puzzle box. Second, no matter how diligent we have been about picking up pieces along the way, we will never have anywhere near enough of them to finish the job. The most we can hope to accomplish with our handful of salvaged bits—the bittersweet harvest of observation and experience—is to build a little world of our own. A scale model of that mysterious original, unbroken, half—remembered. Of course the worlds we build out of our store of fragments can be only approximations, partial and inaccurate. As representations of the vanished whole that haunts us, they must be accounted failures. And yet in that very failure, in their gaps and inaccuracies, they may yet be faithful maps, accurate scale models, of this beautiful and broken world. We call these scale models “works of art.”- Michael Chabon, up to his usual delightfulness, with a post about Wes Anderson (via wesleyhill)
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)… perhaps the greatest thinker America has produced, certainly did embrace divine determinism. And Edwards endorsed determinism, for the most part, out of concern for divine sovereignty. His idea, ultimately, is that God’s sovereignty requires that God himself be the only real cause of whatever happens. In the final analysis, God is the only agent, the only being capable of action, and the only cause of whatever events occur.
Edwards’ endorsement is weighty; and divine sovereignty is indeed important; but there are enormously high costs associated with his view. This is not the place for a full-dress discussion, but, just to indicate where the discussion could go, I note two problems for Edwards’ view. First, if God is the real cause of everything, then he is also the real cause of sin; he is the real cause of every sinful action. But Christians have for the most part strenuously avoided the conclusion that God is the author of sin. God permits sin, certainly; but does he cause it? Does he cause the wickedness and the atrocities that our sad world displays? Does God cause genocide in Africa? Did he cause the Holocaust? Does he cause all the less conspicuous but nonetheless appalling sins committed by humankind? That seems impossible to square with God’s perfect goodness.
And second, we human beings often do what we know is wrong, and are both responsible for so doing and guilty for so doing. But if determinism is true, then on any occasion when I do what is wrong, it isn’t possible for me to refrain from doing wrong. And if it isn’t possible for me to refrain from doing wrong, then I can’t really be responsible for that wrong-doing—not in the relevant sense anyway. We do sometimes say that arterial plaque is responsible for many heart attacks, but that’s not the relevant sense of “responsibility.” The relevant sense involves being properly subject to disapprobation, moral criticism, and even punishment; no one would consider criticizing or punishing a deposit of plaque. By contrast, if I knowingly do what is wrong, I am indeed properly subject to disapproval and blame. But I am not properly blamed for doing what it was not within my power not to do. On Edwards’ view, we seem to lose any notion of human responsibility. These are costs for Edwards’ divine determinism, and they are certainly substantial.- From a review of Sam Harris’s FREE WILL by good old Alvin Plantinga. I love that a product of Calvin College maintains, quite rightly, that determinism falls down on the control principle. If no decisions are meaningfully within our control, moral praise and blame cease to make sense.
-From Quentin Tarantino Interviews.
This is a helpful Quentin Tarantino quote about the way his movies avoid typical statements w/r/t violence (or anything else). The violence and revenge in most of his movies has a moral dimension, but it isn’t included to make a moral statement. Tarantino doesn’t think revenge is morally good, but he likes including violence because it’s aesthetically powerful and compelling to watch and generally fun to witness on the movie screen.
In the last days:
the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established
as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
and all nations will stream to it.
Many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
Isaiah 2: 1-3
Augustine’s Commentary: I tell you, that many will come from east and west. Where will they come? Where they believe… So they will come from east and west; not to the temple of Jerusalem, not to some central section of the earth, not to climb some mountain —-and yet they are coming to the temple of Jerusalem, and to some central section, and to some mountain.
The central place they are coming to is Christ himself; he is at the center, because he is equally related to all; anything placed in the center is common to all. They are coming to the mountain.
Approach the mountain, climb up the mountain, and you that climb it, don’t go down it. There you will be safe, there you will be protected; Christ is your mountain of refuge. And where is Christ? At the right hand of the Father, since he has ascended into heaven. (Sermon 62A.3)
Awake sad heart, whom sorrow ever drowns;
Take up thine eyes, which feed on earth;
Unfold thy forehead gathered into frowns:
Thy Saviour comes, and with him mirth:
And with a thankful heart his comforts take.
But thou dost still lament, and pine, and cry;
And feel his death, but not his victory.
Arise sad heart; if thou do not withstand,
Christ’s resurrection thine may be:
Do not by hanging down break from the hand,
Which as it riseth, raiseth thee:
And with his burial-linen dry thine eyes:
Christ left his grave-clothes, that we might, when grief
Draws tears, or blood, not want a handkerchief.
—George Herbert (1593-1633)- Throwback!: George Herbert’s “The Dawning” | antler