Late one night this week I found myself high upon a rock in the middle of Joshua Tree National Park. I was camping with my family. They were tucked in their sleeping bags trying to keep warm. The last one up, I’d left the glowing embers of our campfire and wandered up to this promontory to observe the night sky.
As I gazed up, I was greeted by the constellation Cassiopeia, along with her husband Cepheus and their daughter Andromeda draped in the Milky Way. As my eyes adjusted to the light, my mind adjusted to the reality above me. A Psalm came to me:
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? (Ps. 8:4 NRSV)
I recalled something I’d read earlier this year in theologian Miroslav Volf’s book about forgiveness, Free of Charge. The first chapter is titled “God the Giver”, exploring how God is first a pure giver (Free of Charge, 43). Some believe our response is to gravel before God—as if somehow our worship will “pay” him back. Volf says, no, our response is two fold—faith and gratitude. He writes: Continue reading 'The Giving God'»
Note: I am re-reading Dallas Willard’s book, The Divine Conspiracy. Over the next several weeks I’ll be posting my reflections as I make my way through a book that changed my life nearly a decade ago.
In the third chapter, What Jesus Knew: Our God-Bathed World, we come to one of Willard’s most important chapters in the Divine Conspiracy. The table is set for what’s to come. The main idea: If we’re really going to trust Jesus, we need to see things the way he does, about God, ourselves, and the world. As Willard says,
Jesus’ good news about the kingdom can be an effective guide for our lives only if we share his view of the world in which we live. To his eyes this is a God-bathed and God-permeated world…. It is a world that is inconceivably beautiful and good because of God and because God is always in it. It is a world in which God is continually at play and over which he constantly rejoices. Until our thoughts of God have found every visible thing and event glorious with his presence, the word of Jesus has not yet fully seized us. (p. 62)
This may seem obvious to some who know the Scriptures well, but until I encountered this chapter a decade ago, I’d never thought of God this way before. Even though growing up my parents tried to show me a good image of God, I never imagined God as a joyous being. Instead God was a stern, cold, exacting being. Continue reading 'Tuesdays with Willard – Chapter Three [Pt. 1]'»
From Dietrich Bonhoeffer on suffering in the Pslams:
“There are no theoretical answers in the Psalms to all these questions, as there are none in the New Testament. The only real answer is Jesus Christ. But this answer is already sought in the Psalms. It is common to all of them that they cast every difficulty and agony on God: “We can no longer bear it, take it from us and bear it yourself, you alone can handle suffering.” That is the goal of all of the lamentation Psalms. They pray concerning the one who took upon himself our diseases and bore our infirmities, Jesus Christ. They proclaim Jesus Christ to be the only help in suffering, for in him God is with us.”
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1970), pp. 46-9.
I just finished checking out the “Lens” blog from the New York Times. Today’s post is “On Assignment: Prayers in the Dark”, revealing some of the most horrific images I’ve ever seen (If you jump to the blog, you’ve been warned). Damon Winters of the New York Times says, “I’ve never seen anything like this, and I doubt I’ll see anything like this again. The scene at the morgue today was just utterly unbelievable.”
Like many people, I’ve asked myself why God allows something like this to happen? I was ashamed of Pat Robertson’s comments this week about God cursing the Haitian people. I’m sure it only confirms for many people that a Christian God is a vengeful God, bent on causing humanity to suffer for their sins. Do you know what came to my mind as I viewed those images? Something I once read in Elie Wiesel’s book, Night, based on his time in a Nazi concentration camp. One day he watches a young boy hanged by the Nazis. In his head Weisel hears, “Where is He [God]? Here He is–He is hanging here on this gallows.” Continue reading 'Where is He Now?'»