2 Corinthians 5: We rose when Christ rose

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For it is Christ’s love that fuels our passion and motivates us, because we are absolutely convinced that he has given his life for all of us. This means all died with him,  so that those who live should no longer live self-absorbed lives but lives that are poured out for him—the one who died for us and now lives again.  So then, from now on, we have a new perspective that refuses to evaluate people merely by their outward appearances. For that’s how we once viewed the Anointed One, but no longer do we see him with limited human insight.

Now, if anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new creation. All that is related to the old order has vanished. Behold, everything is fresh and new.  And God has made all things new, and reconciled us to himself, and given us the ministry of reconciling others to God.  In other words, it was through the Anointed One that God was shepherding the world, not even keeping records of their transgressions, and he has entrusted to us the ministry of opening the door of reconciliation to God.  We are ambassadors of the Anointed One who carry the message of Christ to the world, as though God were tenderly pleading with them directly through our lips. So we tenderly plead with you on Christ’s behalf, “Turn back to God and be reconciled to him.”  For God made the only one who did not know sin to become sin for us,so that we who did not know righteousness might become the righteousness of God through our union with him.

1 Corinthians 5:14-21, The Passion Translation

Andre Agassi: Hated playing tennis

Tennis Champion Andre Agassi is an eight-time Grand Slam champion, an Olympic gold medalist, and the first male player to win four Australian Open titles.  He is the only man to have won all four Grand Slam tournaments on three different surfaces combined with an Olympic gold medal, as well as the ATP Tour World Championship.

During his 20-plus year tour career, Agassi was known by the nickname “The Punisher”.

In his memoir, Open, Agassi describes growing up with a father whose love for him was tied to his performance on the court. Agassi shocked the world when in his book he publicly confessed for the first time that he had hated playing tennis from the time he first picked up a racket to the day he retired. What drove him to become a champion wasn’t a passion for the game but his desire to win the heart of a father whom he describes as unable to ‘tell the difference between loving me and loving tennis.’

Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery

John 14 v.20: You are in Me, and I in you

Here’s a great story from theologian C. Baxter Kruger illustrating Jesus’ words ‘In that day you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in Me, and I in you (John 14:20):

One Saturday afternoon years ago, when my son was six or seven, he and one of his friends peered round the door at me as I sat on the sofa in our den, sorting through junk mail and getting ready to watch a game of football. They were dressed up in camouflage, face paint, plastic guns and knives, helmets – the whole gear. Before I knew what was happening, two camouflaged blurs were flying through the air right at me. The attack was on. For five minutes or so we went through several mock explosions and fights before the three of us ended up in a pile of laughter on the floor. It was then that a sort of rolling banner scrolled past the front of my mind: “Baxter, this is important; pay attention.”

I had no idea what the message meant. After all, it was Saturday, and a dad and his boy and his friend were just play fighting on the floor of the den. Surely there was nothing extraordinary about that. The first clue came when I realised that I actually did not know this other little boy at all. I had never seen him before, didn’t even know what his name was. I thought to myself: What if my son had been in another room in the house with our dog, Nessie, and this boy had appeared in the den alone. Presumably he would have known that I was Mr. Kruger, but that is about as far as things would have gone. Not in a million years would he have come flying through the air at me, not by himself.

The little boy did not know me; he did not know what I was like. But my son did— and that was my second clue. My son knows me. He knows that I love him, that he is one of the apples of my eye. He knows that I like him and that he is always welcome and wanted. So he did the most natural thing in the world: in the freedom of knowing my heart, he ran to me to play. The miracle was that his friend was right in the thick of it all. Without even understanding what I was seeing, I saw my son’s relationship with me, his ‘at home’-ness and freedom with me, go inside that other little boy. And the other boy got to experience our fellowship. He got to taste and feel and play in my son’s freedom and joy with me.

Stop for a moment and take this in. “In that day, you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” What Jesus is saying is that we are the other little boy. As Jesus says to Mackenzie in The Shack, “My purpose from the beginning was to live in you and you in me” (page 114). And as Papa says, “We want to share with you the love and joy and freedom and light that we already know within ourself. We created you, the human, to be in face-to-face relationship with us, to join our circle of love” (page 126).

Through his death Jesus has included us in his life with his Father in the Spirit. There is thus far more going on in our lives than we have ever dared to dream; Jesus Christ is already sharing himself with you, with me, with us all. The love and joy, the music and laughter, the care and sacrifice, the beauty and goodness of the blessed Trinity, are already within us. This is the mystery hidden in past ages, but now revealed in Jesus: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” This is the secret behind the richness of our experience of our own motherhood and fatherhood, of our love and sacrifice, or our music and art and joy, of our lives.

Let us look at this shocking truth from another angle. When Jesus transformed the water into wine, he first asked the servants to fetch water and fill the six water pots. Each pot held about thirty gallons, which totals around a hundred and eighty gallons of water. That is a lot of water, and a lot of work. Have you ever wondered why Jesus asked the servants to help? Think about it. If you can turn water into wine, why not just create the wine and save the servants the trouble of getting all that water? Why involve the servants at all?

Having lived forever in a fellowship of love and sharing with his Father in the Holy Spirit, Jesus is not the sort of person who does things alone. In fact, he never does. While “you and I are not necessary,” the Lord “does not will to be God without us,” to borrow a profound point from Karl Barth. Of course Jesus did not need the servants, but this Lord is about sharing, about giving us a place in his life and in what he is doing. The servants got to participate in Jesus’ life with his Father and the Spirit. “The prime purpose of the incarnation . . . is to lift us up into a life of communion, of participation in the very triune life of God.” (James B. Torrance)

C. Baxter Kruger, The Shack Revisited

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The Bible Timeline: The Gospels

The word gospel simply means good news and so therefore the four gospels are the good news of Jesus Christ. Not only do they teach us the teachings and life of Jesus Christ during his ministry, but they are also historically accurate. Those who would endeavour to decry the teachings of Jesus come up against the stone wall of the accuracy of the Biblical accounts which is not surprising when you consider the character of the writers
of the gospels. Matthew and John were both disciples of the Lord Jesus. Mark became a disciple of Peter so that in a sense Mark is Peter’s gospel and, of course Luke was a disciple of the apostle Paul.
Each Gospel tells the same story, often describing the same events in almost the same words.  Why, then, are their four accounts of Jesus’ life in the New Testament? The reason is that each of the Gospel writers shapes his account of Christ’s life for a different group of people in the first century Roman Empire. Matthew shaped his account for the Jewish reader, emphasising how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament’s prophecies about the Messiah. Mark shaped his account for the Romans, to show that Jesus was man of action. Luke shaped his account for the Greeks, to show that Christ was the ideal human being. John’s Gospel emphasises Christ’s deity, and was written to stimulate saving faith in Jesus, the Son of God.
(taken from The Bible: The Smart Guide to the Bible Series by Larry Richards)
While the Gospels are biographical, they are actually thematic portraits of Christ’s life that place very little emphasis on His early life and follow the chronology of His life,
but not slavishly. Not all the Gospels cover the same events in His life. When all four Gospels are put together and “harmonised,” only about fifty days of Jesus’ active ministry are dealt with.
Jesus came in fulfilment of the Old Testament prophesies of a saviour and offers salvation and the true kingdom of God. While some accept Him, most rejected Him, and He was crucified.
(taken from Understanding the Bible in 15 minutes a day by Max Anders)
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The Explore Bible Study is back tomorrow

The Explore Bible Study is back!  Tomorrow is a fourth Sunday in the month, so no morning Explore meeting, but join us at 4.30pm at Colin and Annette’s house for tea and cake and then a Bible Study from 5-6pm.  Children are welcome.  Bring a Bible and some cake!  The children can play whilst the adults study.

We’re excited about this one!  Colin‘s going to help us unlock the story of the Sheep and the goats from Matthew 25:31-46.  It turns out that telling sheep and goats apart is not as obvious as appears.  Which people are ‘in the right’ and what is Jesus’ criterion for judging?  Are you more like a goat or a sheep?  Come and join us as we continue the Bible Timeline!  If it’s still warm enough, we’ll have the tea and cakes in the garden:  We’ve mowed the lawn!

Thomas Merton: Not our business

“Our job is to love others without stopping to enquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbours worthy if anything can.

― Thomas Merton, in a letter to Dorothy Day, quoted in Catholic Voices in a World on Fire (2005) by Stephen Hand, p. 180.

Danny Silk: Honour

This is great, from Danny Silk’s Keep Your Love On, talking about honouring others:

Honour, like submission, is a term that has been misused and abused, particularly in connection with marriage. People see it as something that is expected, rather than something that is given. This is backwards. When honour is expected or even demanded, it becomes just another word for handing the control, power, and value over to one person in the relationship. A relationship where one person has all the power is one of dishonour, not honour.

God modelled honour when He transformed us from slaves to friends, from orphans to sons. He stooped low to bring us to His level. He used His power to make us powerful, insisting that we be equal partners in His plan to bring Heaven to earth.  This is the pattern for honour in relationships. True honour is the practice of two powerful people putting one another before themselves, empowering one another, working together to meet one another’s needs, and adjusting as necessary in order to move together toward the shared goals of the relationship.  Honour is also the practice of calling out the best in one another.  This can be expressed both in words of praise—“You are amazing!”—and in words of correction—“Hey, you are much too amazing to be acting like that! Remember who you are and stop it.”

I remember when my son, Taylor was struggling to get a job. He was living on his own, had few jobs here and there, but for the most part was unemployed. I found out that he wasn’t doing his best to get a job, so I let him know I wasn’t going to help him financially anymore. Continue reading “Danny Silk: Honour”