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“They gave him a cross, not guessing that he would make it a throne”

Recently I heard this quote from James Stewart. It is sensational! My favourite line is,

They gave him a cross, not guessing that he would make it a throne.

Here is the quote in full.

“It is a glorious phrase of the New Testament, that ‘he led captivity captive.’ 

The very triumphs of His foes, it means, he used for their defeat. He compelled their dark achievements to sub-serve his end, not theirs.

They nailed him to the tree, not knowing that by that very act they were bringing the world to his feet.

They gave him a cross, not guessing that he would make it a throne.

They flung him outside the gates to die, not knowing that in that very moment they were lifting up all the gates of the universe, to let the King of Glory come in.

They thought to root out his doctrines, not understanding that they were implanting imperishably in the hearts of men the very name they intended to destroy.

They thought they had defeated God with His back the wall, pinned and helpless and defeated: they did not know that it was God Himself who had tracked them down.

He did not conquer in spite of the dark mystery of evil. He conquered through it.”

James Stewart (1896–1990)

The lies teenagers believe

I have not read Dr. Koch’s book only this summary found here. However I did find this summary revealing and not surprising.

In Screens and Teens: Connecting with our Kids in a Wireless World, Dr. Kathy Koch discusses the five lies that technology can make us believe. Our children are particularly susceptible to these lies, digital natives that they are; but we’re hardly immune either! Here are the five lies as illuminated in Dr. Koch’s excellent book:

1. I am the center of my own universe. Technology’s constant pandering to the consumer reinforces the lie that life is all about me, rather than about God.

2. I deserve to be happy all the time. As fantastic as the increased speed of our devices is, immediate gratification can be dangerous, leading to other impulsive behaviors.

3. I must have choices. In a world of ever-multiplying choices, we can begin to feel that choice is the ultimate virtue, that we have a right to always have our way.

4. I am my own authority. Technology reinforces the temptation to only look within oneself to find truth and meaning instead of seeking counsel from friends, Scripture, and mentors.

5. Information is all I need. Having information and being informed are very different. Help your students know how to use what they know with wisdom.

Yancey on Grace

On Philip Yancey’s website he tells of being asked to define what grace is. This is his illuminating response,

I don’t even try.  Jesus talked a lot about grace, but mainly through stories.  I remember once getting stuck in Los Angeles traffic and arriving 58 minutes late at the Hertz rental desk.  I walked up in kind of a bad mood, put the keys down and said, “How much do I owe?”  The woman says, “Nothing.  You’re all clear.”  I said I was late and she smiled, “Yes, but there’s a one-hour grace period.”  So I asked, “Oh really, what is grace?”  And she said, “I don’t know.  [They must not cover that in Hertz training classes.]  I guess what it means is that even though you’re supposed to pay, you don’t have to.”  That’s a good start to a definition.

Silent Benefits

During 2015 I spoke at Hope Church In West Bromwich about the use of silence as part of daily devotional time. I had no real theology of silence, I had simply found it to be a beneficial practice but that could do with clarification. Recently as I read Brennan Manning’s book, Abba’s Child, I found something that I think explains more the benefit of time in silence solitude. (I have added my own emphasis).

Brennan Manning writes, “Silence is not simply the absence of noise or the shutdown of communication with the outside world, but rather a process of coming to stillness. Silent solitude forges true speech. I’m not speaking of physical isolation; solitude here means being alone with the Alone, experiencing the transcendent Other and growing in awareness of one’s identity as the beloved. It is impossible to know another person intimately without spending time together. Silence makes this solitude a reality. It has been said, “Silence is solitude practiced in action.”

“It is like the story of the harried executive who went to the desert father and complained about his frustration in prayer, his flawed virtue, and his failed relationships. The hermit listened closely to his visitor’s rehearsal of the struggle and disappointments in trying to lead a Christian life. He then went into the dark recesses of his cave and came out with a basin and a pitcher of water.

“Now watch the water as I pour it into the basin,” he said. The water splashed on the bottom and against the sides of the container. It was agitated and turbulent. At first the stirred-up water swirled around the inside of the basin; then it gradually began to settle, until finally the small fast ripples evolved into larger swells that oscillated back and forth. Eventually, the surface became so smooth that the visitor could see his face reflected in the placid water. “That is the way it is when you live constantly in the midst of others,” said the hermit. “You do not see yourself as you really are because of all the confusion and disturbance. You fail to recognize the divine presence in your life and the consciousness of your belovedness slowly fades. “

It takes time for the water to settle. Coming to interior stillness requires waiting. Any attempt to hasten the process only stirs up the water anew.

Guilt feelings may arise immediately. The shadow self insinuates that you are selfish, wasting time, and evading the responsibilities of family, career, ministry, and community. You can ill afford this idle luxury. Theologian Edward Schillebeeckx responded: “In a revealed religion, silence with God has a value in itself and for its own sake, just because God is God. Failure to recognize the value of mere being with God, as the beloved, without doing anything is to gouge the heart out of Christianity.