Tee Time: I’m with Jesus

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Roundup: Childlike faith, benediction, WWI art, and a poem

“Four Ways Children Do Faith Better Than Adults” by Stephen Mattson: Curious, honest, passionate, excited, adventurous. Oh, to have faith like a child!

“Benediction: To Hear a Good Word” by Justin Ruddy: The benediction is a liturgical element that I wasn’t familiar with until I moved to Boston and joined a church that closes every service with it. Now I look forward to the benediction every week—there’s such empowerment in it, and it has made me so much more aware of the activity of the three persons of the Godhead in daily life. This sermon was preached last Sunday at my church as part of our Liturgy for Life series. Ruddy emphasizes that we need to listen to God’s good words to us, which drown out all the false and discouraging words the world speaks, and not only that, but we, as Christians, ought to be walking benedictions, speaking the good words of the gospel into the life situations of those around us.

This month’s issue of National Geographic magazine has a feature on the photography of Jeff Gusky, from his series “The Hidden World of WWI.” These photographs explore the little-known rock quarries of France’s Picardy region that sheltered soldiers from all sides during the Great War, down beneath the trenches. Preserved there are various personal expressions that Americans, French, and Germans carved into the walls—names, portraits, religious and patriotic symbols, caricatures, wartime imagery, whimsical animal cartoons, and so on. Visit JeffGusky.com to see more photos from this project.

Praying French soldier

This image of a French soldier praying was carved by an unknown artist in a subterranean chapel in France during World War I. Photograph by Jeff Gusky, from the Hidden World of WWI series.

Commemorative art installation outside the Tower of London: To mark the centenary of Britain’s involvement in the First World War, 888,246 handmade ceramic poppies will be progressively installed around the Tower of London through November 11—one for every British military fatality during the war. Commissioned by the independent charity Historic Royal Palaces, this massive work was conceived and created by Paul Cummins, with installation design by Tom Piper. It’s titled Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, after a line from a poem by an English soldier who died in the Great War. When the installation closes, the poppies will be on sale for £25 each, with net proceeds going to charities that support the care of former and current soldiers and their families. For more photos, see Jonathan Evens’s Between blog, or the blog Colossal; they’re amazing. Also check out the “making of” video below.

Poppies outside the Tower of London

Photo © 2014 by Historic Royal Palaces

 

On the lighter side, read this tongue-in-cheek poem by Martyn Wendell Jones, made up entirely of lines from Focus on the Family’s Plugged In movie reviews! So funny.

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The Holistic Gospel of Christ

“One of the things I do when I meet people is ask them, ‘What is Christianity?’ Undoubtedly half will respond, ‘A relationship with Jesus.’

“That is wrong. The gospel cannot be merely a private transaction. God didn’t break through history, through time and space, to come as a babe, be incarnated, and suffer on the cross just so you can come to him and say, ‘Oh, I accept Jesus and now I can live happily ever after.’ That’s not why he came. . . . Jesus came as a radical to turn the world upside down. When we believe it is just about Jesus and yourself, we miss the whole point.

“I even dislike using the words ‘accept Christ’ anymore—because it is so much more than that. Christianity is a way of seeing all of life and reality through God’s eyes. That is what Christianity is: a worldview, a system, and a way of life. I believe that when you truly see the gospel in its fullness, it’s so much more. It is the most exciting, radical, revolutionary story ever told.”

—Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship (qtd. on pp. 85-86 of unChristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons)

_________

“Many modern-day Christians have lost touch with the all-encompassing gospel that goes beyond personal salvation and reaches every corner of society. When conversion growth is the single measure of success, the hard work of discipleship gets ignored. When Christian faith is relegated to a personal, spiritual decision about where you will spend the afterlife, the here and now matters less. When being a Christian can be determined by whether you ‘prayed the prayer,’ the focus shifts easily to who is in and who is out. As a result, Christians can be found primarily on the edges of society, pointing their fingers at outsiders, judging and condemning them. Subsequently, the lifestyle of being Christian shifts from being winsome and engaging to pessimistic and manipulative. Many have separated themselves from the world and unknowingly mimic the actions of the Pharisees for whom Jesus had the most contempt when he walked the earth.

“Losing the theology and practice of common grace and focusing on conversion over discipleship have contributed greatly to Christianity’s perception problem. When we no longer know what it means (much less care) to be salt and light among those in our culture and to be an influence for good, we forfeit our role as agents in Christ’s kingdom. As I’ve observed current culture, examined church history, and wrestled with Scripture, it seems clear to me that the source of these negative perceptions is a poorly understood and lived expression of Christianity.”

—Gabe Lyons, unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity . . . and Why It Matters (coauthored with David Kinnaman), p. 222

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Tee Time: Need a Drink?

Need a drink?Found at divinecotton.com. Need a drink?

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Vintage Jesus, Part 8: What Makes Jesus Superior to Other Saviors?

Despite the controversy that continually follows Mark Driscoll and that reached a crescendo last week with his removal from the Acts 29 Network, I will continue to post from this sermon series of his, which has five more segments, because I believe there is a lot of good in it; his clear and engaging answers to these twelve common questions about Jesus helped bolster and clarify my faith when I was a college student, and I am hoping that you too will find value in them and won’t let the accusations against Driscoll discolor your reception of them.

You can see part 1 of the series here.

6:21: The concept of “savior” in popular culture

12:56: The concept of “savior” in world religions

All religions besides Christianity teach that you are your own savior, that you can save yourself by living a certain way or practicing a certain technique.

15:39: The concept of “savior” in the Christian Bible  Continue reading

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Tee Time: We got a need for Jesus

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Stations of the Cross by Bruce Onobrakpeya

The following fourteen linocut prints were created in 1969 by Nigerian artist Bruce Onobrakpeya (b. 1932) of the Urhobo people. They are in the Collection of the SMA African Art Museum in Tenafly, New Jersey. The photos were taken by my husband, Eric James Jones.

Notice how the executioners are not ancient Roman soldiers but twentieth-century British colonial officers; likewise transplanted into a different historical context, Jesus and the friends he meets along his way to Calvary are African, dressed in adire, with the women in headscarves. By situating the crucifixion narrative in colonial Africa, Onobrakpeya makes it more recognizable to his people; they themselves are witnesses to the event—devotees of the Christ who mourn his wrongful death—but also co-sufferers with him in their endurance of oppression.

The theme of salvation that’s expressed in this stations series is multifaceted. It’s both personal and political, but either way, it’s Africa specific. Onobrakpeya encourages Africans to see themselves as key players in the modern-day enactment and spread of the gospel. Christ’s sacrifice was as much for them as it was for any other people. And it brought about salvation not merely from individual sins but from the kingdom of this world. It frees us to live as citizens of another kingdom, to submit to the rule of a different lord, one who will never exploit us or crush us but whose every law is for the flourishing of earth and humanity. Love, peace, righteousness, reconciliation—these are the laws of Christ’s kingdom, the fruits of his grace.

Other African artists have done their own versions of the Stations of the Cross, but one of the things that makes Onobrakpeya’s unique is his use of color and patterning. Greens, blues, reds, and yellows explode into the background, as do checkers, spirals, zigzags, dots, and other geometric shapes, repeated from the figures’ garments. Such abstraction adds to the mysticality of the event.

Onobrakpeya, Bruce_Station 1

Station 1: Pilate condemns Christ to death

Onobrakpeya, Bruce_Station 2

Station 2: Jesus carries his cross

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