Freud turns on the light

FreudI have just started reading Jesus Now by Frank Viola – it promises to talk in very practical terms of the present day ministry of Jesus Christ – it should be stimulating stuff.

However, in the introduction Len Sweet tells this story,

Sigmund Freud tells a story of a three -year-old boy whom he heard calling out from a dark room in the night. “Auntie,” the boy cried, “talk to me! I’m frightened because it is so dark.”

His aunt answered him from another room: “What good would that do? You can’t see me.”

“That doesn’t matter, ” replied the child. “When you talk, it gets light.”

In no way shape of form would I suggest Freud was a Christian, nor would I imagine he would want to be referred to as such. But he understands the need for us to have light to take away all fear. In Christian jargon we would suggests that he understands the need for us to hear God speak – because it turns on the light.

As believers we need the light to be turned on every day. That is why we read the Bible, why we pray and meditate, why we listen for the voice of God to speak in any of the myriad ways he cares to (though whether we are listening to his voice is often moot).

More importantly as human beings we are created in the image of God, bearing his mark, his seal, being called his friends and craving intimacy with him; we live in the dark yet long for the light. In that created condition we need the light turned on, always.

Either we love God or we hate him

Jon Walker in Breakfast with Bonhoeffer offers this quote from Bonhoeffer,

“Our hearts have room for only one all embracing devotion, and we can only cleave to one Lord. Every competitor for that devotion must be hated. As Jesus says, here is no alternative – either we love God or we hate him.”

Walker then goes on to offer his summary of Bonhoeffer’s teaching on this subject,

The core of Bonhoeffer;s theology is that Jesus must be central to our lives and central to the church. Jesus was never meant to be an important part of our lives; he is our life (Col. 3:4). If you try to find your life apart from Jesus, you will lose it; but if you lose your life in Jesus, then you will live an extraordinary life energised by the life of Christ within you.

Bonhoeffer says we’ve been lulled into believing there are two tiers of discipleship – sort of like cable plans, with basic channels and a premium package for the more pious. We delude ourselves, thinking that there are but a few among us – monks, missionaries and ministers – who are called to be more saintly, while the rest of us settle into  mediocre, part-time discipleship.

Andrew Murray, Jesus Himself

I recently got Andrew Murray’s book, Jesus Himself, from Amazon. It is free (as are numerous works by Murray) and is a wonderful read. Early on in the book Murray says this,

A dead Christ, I must do everything for; a living Christ does everything for me.

The whole book is full of such challenges and stimuli to faith.

It is well worth the investment of downloading it.

A psalm a day

Mars a dayIt is my habit to read a Psalm, or at least part of one, every day during my devotional time. Usually it is the first thing I read and sets the scene for me to meditate, to draw near to God in praise and adoration, to cast aside my idle thoughts, and often it is the basis upon which I write out a prayer to Almighty God.

I mention writing out a prayer as most Christians I know don’t do that. Yet I find writing prayers out in longhand to be invaluable in teaching and training me in the art of prayer. It is hard to waffle, to be repetitive, to ‘praise aimlessly,’ to lack clarity in request or the object of my trust, and to use the name God, Lord, Father, Jesus and innumerable amalgamations of those (and other names for God) when you have to read and reflect upon what you are saying.

I strongly encourage you to buy a notebook and write out a prayer each day – it could save, or start, your prayer life.

My thoughts led me back to Dallas Willard’s book, The Divine Conspiracy, and his comments on the book of Psalms (p75),

To trust in God, we need a rich and accurate way of thinking about him to guide and support our life vision and our will…today the book of Psalms gives great power for life and faith. This is simply because it preserves a conceptually rich language about God and our relationships to him. If you bury yourself in the Psalms, you emerge knowing God and understanding life.

And that is by no means a matter, as some suggest, of the ‘poetic effect’ of the great language. No mere emotional lift is involved. What makes the language great and provides the emotional lift is chiefly its picture of God and of life. We learn from the Psalms how to think and act in reference to God. We drink in God, and God’s world from them. They provide a vocabulary for living Godward, one inspired by god himself. They show us who God is, and that expands and lifts and directs our minds and hearts.

Truly a Psalm a day helps you work rest and pray (and a whole lot more.)

A friend is…?

I have long questioned the nature of friendships. Being strongly introverted I don’t have a great desire (or need?) for many friends. In fact my extrovert friends are somewhat miffed when I casually suggest we are acquaintances not friends. I think my choice of wording there is poor and have been rethinking it. In truth I do value the relationship but don’t necessarily get from it what I would find most satisfying from contact with other people. Church life is massively challenging for someone like me – I don’t easily do superficial, so parties, meeting new people, much that is “normal” in church life and the like are a challenge that I readily walk away from.

The quote below from George Eliot sums up much of what I look for in human friendships

“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”

George Elliot

I have a feeling that I am not alone in desiring such friendships where I can bare my soul and yet not be condemned.

The church exists for?

Well according to C.S. Lewis it is this…

the Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose.

Lewis highlights the essence of discipleship, making little Christs.

What could be simpler?