July 15, 2013

10 Days!!!!!!!!

Ten days until our family leaves our beloved Texas, to begin a new journey, north of the border.  Ten days left before I awaken in a new room, a new house, a new life.  Ten days to treasure and enjoy.  Ten days to capture in my mind, to hold on to, to cherish.  Ten days in the place I have called home for the majority of my life.  

ONLY TEN MORE DAYS UNTIL I MOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am literally so excited... my mind races at all the possibilities about to open up for my family and me, it's mind blowing.  I can hardly wait to see what the Lord has ready for us. 

*skips off humming Ok--------------lahoma-aaaaaaaaaaa*

July 13, 2013

Picture post

My darling sister Phoebe

Dashing and handsome - Jaden 

The newest addition to our family - Claudia, looking calm, cool and beautiful 

Johanna, Claudia and Maddie helping me celebrate my birthday, back in the spring. 

Phoebe, Claudia, Maddie and I braving the cold for a picture during my birthday festivities - love these girls! 

My brave and handsome brother Joel - what a gem! 

This is one of my most favorite pictures of my dear parents - you guys are priceless to me 

And last, but by no means least, Caleb - Happy Birthday buddy.  I love you!

July 11, 2013

The Significance of Bonhoeffer

In this last post taken from Dallas M. Roark’s book on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we will discuss the impact of Bonhoeffer’s life and theological works.

In specific areas of theology Bonhoeffer has made several contributions.
  1. The church has an important place in Bonhoeffer’s thought.  If objectivity were a reality in theological circles, Bonhoeffer’s view could conceivably serve as a basis for an ecumenical “happening” between the institutional idea found in Roman Catholicism and the “called out” emphasis of Protestantism.  Objectivity could perhaps lead Roman Catholic theologians to see that formal institutionalism is alien to the New Testament while voluntaristic Protestants might see that the mystical body of Christ has “space” in the world and is where Jesus Christ is to be found.  But since theological wheels move slowly and reevaluation of respective positions seldom occur, the possibilities of Bonhoeffer’s position may have to wait for a long time.
  2. Ethics remains as a powerful work confronting modern man.  We have yet to reckon with may of its features.  His treatment of the role of the Christian in the modern world will probably be a continuing inspiration for many people if the prestige of the church continues to diminish. The new beginning point of ethics is yet to be reckoned with by philosophical ethics.  Nicolas Berdyaev declared that ethics should teach a man how to die, but philosophical ethics is not concerned with this.   Bonhoeffer answers Berdyaev’s question by declaring ethics’ goal for man as being restored to unity with God.  In restoration man becomes real man.  Right and wrong are not products of man’s mind but are found only in the will of God.
  3. About the spiritual life, Bonhoeffer has remarkable insights.  Those who know Bonhoeffer found that the development of the spiritual life as he outlined it was not exciting to begin with, but as time passes they reassessed their views and came to regard their six-month stay in the Finkenwalde experiment as a high point of their lives. The modern seminary turns out men who have not developed a spiritual existence within themselves and are dedicated to serving where the money is highest.  They drift from church to church, lacking vital spirituality, unable to build the churches up because they are empty.  The practical and professional emphasis in the seminary has been in the direction of administration, social work, and ecclesiastical machinery rather than the practical discipline of the spiritual life.  (emphasis my own)
  4. Christology stands out as the central feature in Bonhoeffer.  With one stroke he cut down the controversies centering around the Incarnation.  We are concerned with the Who, not how in the Incarnation.  This is true in the church also.  We cannot ask the question “How is Christ in the church?”  but “Who speaks to us in the church?”  Doctrine was important for Bonhoeffer.  He was not a narrow doctrinaire creature who could not allow doctrinal differences, but eventually doctrine became a life and death issue in the Confessing Church’s struggle in Germany.
  5. We would like to conclude this work with a word about Bonhoeffer’s face toward the future.  Bonhoeffer knew that the evil of Hitler would one day meet its end and there must be people who were ready for picking up the pieces.  The church must be ready to minister.  In 1942, Bonhoeffer met a few friends at Werder, and among them was Werner von Haeften, who was a staff lieutenant of the Army High Command (and subsequently perished in the fallout after the failed “Valkyrie” plot of July 20, 1944).  In discussing his duties, he [von Haeften] asked of Bonhoeffer: “Shall I shoot?  I can get inside the Fuhrer’s headquarters with my revolver.  I know where and when the conferences take place.  I can get access.”   Bonhoeffer discussed this issue at length.  He noted that ridding the world of Hitler was not everything, for worse could come by others; but it should accomplish something; there should be “a change of circumstances, of the government… the ‘thereafter’ had to be so carefully prepared.”  His look toward the future only expressed his continuing faith in God who was incarnated in Jesus Christ and the church.  In these troubled times plans need to be made for the future.
The End.
source: http://www.religion-online.org/showchapter.asp?title=2737&C=2492

July 10, 2013

The Church Against Religion

More from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, by Dallas M. Roark.

Chapter 8 is titled: The Church Against Religion (Letters and Papers from Prison)

In an essay composed around 1942 entitled “After 10 Years,”  Bonhoeffer discusses the reactions of reasonable people (who are deceived by the seductive disguises of evil and accept a salved rather than clear conscience); moral fanatics (who get trapped in nonessentials); duty-guided people (who never achieve a direct hit to evil); the person claiming freedom (who performs evil to ward off “greater evil”); and the man of private virtuousness (who plays the game of self-deception or becomes a great hypocrite).

People of civil courage were lacking, for the Germans had learned the virtue of obedience.  But submissiveness can be exploited, and in the case of Nazi Germany it was.  Responsibility is related to free men.  Obedience goes only so far.  Bonhoeffer then turns to various categories of relationships and attitudes. (p. 115)
  1. Success.  Success achieved by good means can be overlooked ethically, but success by means of evil poses problems.  Success tends to make good out of evil in history.  Bonhoeffer regarded himself as responsibly involved in learning how the coming generation is to live in a new culture.
  2. Folly. Bonhoeffer regards folly as more devastating than evil.  There is no reasoning with, protesting against, or upending the fool.  He calls folly a sociological problem, called forth by violent displays of power which deprive men of their judgment.  The only hope against folly is liberation, and the ultimate release is a responsible life before God.  In the political arena, “what will really matter is whether those in power expect more from people’s folly than from their wisdom and independence of mind.” (p. 115)
  3. Contempt for humanity will be rejected only if we realize that what we despise in others is never “entirely absent from ourselves.” (p. 115)
  4. immanent righteousness.  Bonhoeffer says that evil carries the seeds of its own destruction.  The world seems ordered in a way that the expedient act cannot be turned into principle without suffering retribution.  This affirmation leads Bonhoeffer to set forth some statements of faith on the sovereignty of God in history.  God can bring good out of evil, and gives strength in times of distress.  He hears our prayers and desires responsible action from us.
  5. Confidence. Bonhoeffer writes that although betrayal is everywhere, trust and confidence are greater than ever imagined.  In trust they placed their lives in the hands of others.  Such trust is a rare blessing and a necessity against the background of mistrust in society.
  6. The sense of quality. He takes a new look at equalitarian movements which destroy a sense of quality by destroying reserve.  Socially this means a break with the “cult of the star” tradition in society and culturally it substitutes the book for the newspaper, leisure for frenzied activity, quality for quantity.
  7. Sympathy. Bonhoeffer declares that sympathy arises with the imminence of danger.  Christians are called to sympathy and action when others are in danger.
  8. Suffering. In the past one could plan both his professional and his private life.  But war makes both of these impossible.  Life must be carried on living every day as if it is our last, and yet in faith and responsibility as though there is to be a great future.  This is still a germane principle today.
  9. Optimism. Pessimism is wiser than optimism, but optimism must not be impugned even though it is proven wrong many times.  Optimism – in spite of the day of judgment leads to building and hoping for a better world.
  10. Insecurity and death. Both had been increasingly in Bonhoeffer’s mind as these ten years passed by.  By accepting death, each new day of life becomes miraculous.  His own death is prefigured in this descriptive statement: “It is we ourselves, and not outward circumstances, who make death what it can be, a death freely and voluntarily accepted.” (p. 116)
The essay concludes with the question: “Are we still of any use?”  Much evils has been devised and experienced.  The need is for “plain, honest, straight forward men.”  Is it possible to regain this stance after the evils of intrigue, war, and cynicism?  Bonhoeffer does not answer his question.
“Wedding Sermon from a Prison Cell” written by Bonhoeffer for the wedding of his niece to his close friend Eberhard Bethge.
  1. God is guiding your marriage; 2. God makes your marriage in-dissoluble; 3. God establishes a rule of life by which you can live together in wedlock (Col. 3:18-19); 4. God has laid on marriage a blessing and a burden, that of children; 5. God gives you Christ as the foundation of your marriage.
The Problem of Religion:
“Religion uses God as the lazy way of explaining the unexplainable.  God is on the edge of human boundaries.  But what happens when the human boundaries are pushed back and an alternate explanation is given for the phenomena once credited to God?  God is pushed further from human existence.” (p. 118)

Bonhoeffer’s question boils down to this:  If by science man solves the problems of hunger and disease, if by education the problems of quilt, if by psychiatry the ills of the mind, if man’s other needs can be met what room is left for God? (p. 118)

“Through science man has discarded God’s role in the universe.  Questions can be answered “without recourse to the ‘working hypothesis’ called ‘God’” (p. 119)

If we cannot roll back the advances of science, the conclusions of philosophers, the desertion of religion by ethics and politics, where does this leave God?  Bonhoeffer answers:
“So our coming of age leads us to a true recognition of our situation before God.  God would have us know that we must live as men who manage our lives without him.  The God who is with us is the God who forsakes us (Mark 15:34).  The God who lets us live in the world without the working hypothesis of God is the God before whom we stand continually.  Before God and with God we live without God.  God lets himself be pushed out of the world on to the cross.” (p. 119)

The Problem of Christian Worldliness:
As defined by Bonhoeffer it is:
“Living unreservedly in life’s duties, problems, successes, and failures, experiences and perplexities.  In so doing we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God taking seriously, not our own sufferings, but those of God in the world – watching with Christ in Gethsemane.  That I think is faith, that is Metanoia; and that is how one becomes a man and a Christian (cf. Jeremiah 45).”  (p. 119-120)
Taking one’s duties and sufferings seriously means that we must exist for others.  Jesus is the “man for others,” and this type of relationship holds true for Christians.  Christianity is this-worldly for it sends a “man back to his life on earth in a wholly new way…”

The church’s work is to explain what it means to live in Christ.  It should have a courageous word against the vices of pride and encouragement for the elements of the good life.
source: http://www.religion-online.org/showbook.asp?title=2737

July 9, 2013

The Church's Brand of Discipleship

I have been reading a wonderful little book critiquing the theological writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. My  fascination with Bonhoeffer began in 2007 when he was first brought to my notice through an audio book on his life and work.

Chapter 6 is titled: The Church’s Brand of Discipleship and  touches on Bonhoeffer’s book The Cost of Discipleship (Nachfolge). The beginning asks two fundamental questions:

  • What is discipleship?
  • What does it mean to follow Jesus Christ?
“Discipleship is the road to Christian joy (pg. 75).”  And: “Discipleship is much easier than man-made rules and dogmas, but more important, what Jesus asks, he gives the grace to do.  Discipleship may be hard, but it is not limited to a small spiritual elite.”

Cheap Grace:
“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession.  Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the Cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” (pg. 76)

“Grace on the other hand, is dear and costly.  A man must give up his life to follow Christ.  Grace is dear because it cost the Son of God His life, but it is grace because God did not count this too great a cost.”

The life of a disciple is to be lived in the world against its hostility, not in a favored atmosphere of a friendly monastery. (pg. 76) Only in costly grace is their joy in Christian living.

How does one become a disciple?

  1. There is the call of Jesus to follow Him
  2. One must take the first concrete step out of faith, or as Bonhoeffer put it: “Faith can no longer mean sitting still and waiting – they must arise and follow Him.”
Two Propositions:
  1. “Only he who believes is obedient”
  2. “Only he who is obedient believes.” (pg. 77)
There is no obedience without faith, nor faith without obedience.  Following Christ means leaving the world of the finite and being brought into the life of the Infinite.  Being a disciple is related to bearing the cross of Christ.

“To deny oneself is to be aware only of Christ and no more of self, to see only Him who goes before and no more the road which is too hard for us.” (pg. 78)

The Cross means:
  1. One must abandon the attachments of this world
  2. One must come after Christ and die to himself
  3. One must perhaps undergo death completely
In discipleship, according to Bonhoeffer, “men become individuals.”  The call of Christ demands a break with the world as well as with the past.  Christ’s call places a barrier between man and the world.
Being in Christ, it becomes possible to see how isolated man is from man. (pg. 79)

The Sermon on the Mount:
Bonhoeffer takes the beatitudes seriously.  There is one place where the beatitudes are incarnate in one person – the crucified of Golgotha.   Thus the disciples, following their Lord, “are called blessed because they have obeyed the call of Jesus.”
  1. The poor in spirit are those who have accepted the loss of all things including their own selves for His sake.
  2. Those who mourn are those who do “without what the world calls peace and prosperity.”  Mourning means to refuse to be in harmony with the standards of the world.
  3. The meek are those who give up claims to their own rights for the will of Christ.
  4. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are those renouncing all claims to personal achievement, who wait for God’s reign of righteousness.
  5. The merciful, having given up claims to their own become “men for others,” helping the needy, sick, castouts, all those who need any kind of ministry.
  6. The pure in heart become that way by giving their hearts completely to the reign of Jesus.  Under His rule, He purifies their hearts with His Word.
  7. The peacemakers renounce all violence and “maintain fellowship where others would break it off.”
  8. The persecuted for righteousness suffer for “any just cause,” and will be rejected by the world, but God’s kingdom belong to them. (pgs. 78-79)
The disciples, the blessed ones, are not too good for the world, for they are thrust into its center as the salt of the earth.  The kingdom of heaven is theirs only after they finish their earthly task.

Two options for the disciple:
  1. Being the salt of the earth
  2. Being annihilated and crushed
Similarly, as the lights of the world, they receive energy from the light of the Cross….  If the Light does not shine, can there be oneness with Christ?

Christ, the Disciples and the Pharisees:
The close connection with Christ distinguishes the disciples from the Pharisees.  Both stood under the obligation to keep the Old Testament law.  But, the Pharisees tried and failed.  Jesus spoke of the need to have a “better righteousness.”  They [the disciples] can only exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees by receiving the gift of righteousness, the fulfiller of the law, Christ Himself.


The Disciple and the Law
Bonhoeffer says: “There is no fulfillment of the law apart from communion with God, and no communion with God apart from fulfillment of the law.” (pg. 81)

Anger/Killing:
Bonhoeffer rejects the subtle distinction between “righteous indignation and unjustifiable anger.”
Freedom from anger is the command for the disciple.  Anger hinders worship and prohibits service.  We cannot honor God, and dishonor our brother.  To honor God requires a reconciliation against all that have been offended.

adultery / Lust:
adultery – Desire (lust) where there is no love.
If the disciple retains his gaze upon Christ, his gaze will be pure even when looking at a woman. (pg. 82)

The intent of both Jesus and the law was to safe guard marriage.  Any violation of the law – in any sexual irregularity – is against the Body of Christ because the disciple is a member of His Body.  To be dead to lust and desire is possible because in Christ the disciple was crucified, or put to death, and desire has no hold on a dead person.

Oaths / Swearing:
Discipleship means complete truthfulness.  Discipleship supposes that one has been completely truthful with Jesus, else there is no forgiveness.  Truthfulness is the basis of fellowship among believers.  Without it the brotherhood is destroyed.

Revenge:
The only way to conquer evil then, according to Bonhoeffer, is not politically but passively.  If the disciple is meek, not counting his own rights, he will seek redress when wronged.  Resistance creates further resistance and solves nothing.

“There is no deed on earth so outrageous as to justify a different attitude.  The worse the evil, the readier must the Christian be to suffer.”

Love of Enemies:
The greater the hatred, the greater the love must be for the hater.  Loving the enemy is to serve him “in all things without hypocrisy and with utter sincerity.”  No sacrifice which a lover would make for his beloved is too great for us to make for our enemy.”

Jesus commands that love for the enemy be a hallmark of the disciple.  This love is the fulfilling of the law and obedience to Christ.

Discipleship means looking at and following Christ.  When one begins to notice his own love and goodness, one ceases being a disciple.
Prayer in the life of a Disciple:

Prayer is never an entreaty – for God knows our needs nor is it a pious work.  It has a hidden character, for in prayer men “have ceased to know themselves, and know only God whom they call upon.”

The model prayer Jesus gave His disciples is the “quintessence of prayer.”  It serves to place boundaries around the disciple’s prayer. (pg. 84)

Fasting, a practice akin to prayer:
Bonhoeffer follows Jesus’ warning against mere pious fasting to impress either others or oneself.  Fasting has the motive of self-disciple, for better service to Christ.
When the Christian has failed in obedience, is guilty of sin against others, has lost the joy of Christian grace, and has come to little or no prayer, he needs to fast and pray!

Simplicity in carefree living:
Bonhoeffer stresses the singleness of following Christ alone.  It is never Christ and something else.  Singleness of heart relates both to treasures on earth and to what master we serve.  Treasures are a part of human nature.  Rather than be denied them, the disciple is given “higher objects – the glory of God (John 5:44), the glorifying in the Cross (Galatians 6:14), and the treasure in heaven.”
Singleness of heart relates to the master we serve: God or Mammon.  We must love God or hate Him. (pg 84)

The uniqueness of the disciple and his extraordinary position:
How is he [the disciple] to be related to the non-Christian?  Bonhoeffer discusses this topic in the third section of the Sermon (Matt. 7).  No superior attitude is warranted, for the believer possesses his righteousness as gift, not by achievement.  Rather, he must come to the non-Christian with “an unconditional offer of fellowship, with the single-mindedness of the love of Jesus.”  If we are inclined to judge so that evil might be destroyed, we should look within ourselves. (pg 85)

As judgment is prohibited, so is coercion in making disciples of other people.  Proselytizing is wrong for three reasons:
  1. Swine do not recognize costly pearls;
  2. “it profanes the word of forgiveness”
  3. it does not recognize the weakness of the gospel
The disciple has no power over the other person, except through Christ in prayer.  The church will not win the majority of mankind.  Many are on the road to destruction.

“But if we behold Jesus Christ going on before step by step, we shall not go astray.”
Following is made all the harder because there are false prophets who look, act, and speak like Christians.  Here one cannot judge, but must wait for evil to show its [true] colors.

Division of True from False (Judgment):
The great final judgment involves all, and division will hinge on those who confess him and those who do not.  Presently there is possibility of a demonic confession devoid of love, without Christ and without the Spirit of God.

The important question is: “Who will pass the test and who will not?”  Bonhoeffer’s answer: “the word of the last judgment is foreshadowed in the call to discipleship…. If we follow Christ, cling to His word, and let everything else go, it will see us through the day of judgment.  His word is His grace.”

Discipleship Today:
Are we moderns not in a more difficult when we do not have the personalized call to follow Jesus?  How are we to decide what following Jesus may mean for us, or to know for sure that we are not following our own wishes?

Bonhoeffer rejects these questions as being wrong.  Jesus yet lives.  The resurrection is a fact and Jesus calls to the modern to follow Him

“The preaching of the church and the administration of the sacraments is the place where Jesus Christ is present.”
How are we to discern which commands of His are related to us?  This question, according to Bonhoeffer, is based upon a misunderstanding.  “The object of Jesus’ command is always the same – to evoke whole-hearted faith, to make us love God and our neighbor with all our heart and soul.  This is the unequivocal feature in his command.” (pg. 86-87)

Baptism and Discipleship:
Baptism involves the same breach with the world as following Christ.  In baptism, one dies to the old world.  In baptism, “Christ invades the realm of Satan, lays hands on His own and creates for Himself His church.”

The demand of Christ for a visible act of obedience is manifested in the public act of baptism. (pg. 87)

There is a dilemma in the Christian life remaining to be negotiated…. On the one hand, there is the slavish legalism, in which the commands of Scripture are adhered to with deep concern for fulfillment and obedience, even though obedience may be perfunctory.  On the other hand, there is the freedom of Christ which delivers from punctiliousness but which may slide in the direction of disobedience to Christ’s commands.

The contemporary criticism of the Church is related to merchandising in cheap grace where the church has not loved all men equally, has not preached the need for repentance from all sin, and has not forsaken the world for the service of Christ. (pg. 92)

Bonhoeffer concluded his work with this admonition: “be ye therefore imitators….”
Source: http://www.religion-online.org/showbook.asp?title=2737 – Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Dallas M. Roark)

July 8, 2013

The Church's Life in Christ

A few years ago, I did a series of posts on Dietrich Bonhoeffer's theology - as an overview from a book I was reading on his works, at the time.  Since I am deleting my other blog, I thought I would re-run them on here, so to speak, for your benefit, and so I would have a copy of my work.  Enjoy!

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I have been reading a wonderful little book critiquing the theological writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  I have been fascinated with Bonhoeffer since 2007 when he was first brought to my notice through an audio book on his life and work.
Recently I was reading chapter 5, which is a closer look at his book Life Together (Gemeinsames Leben).  The themes examined in this chapter are  about the Church’s Life in Christ. I want to share with you some of the points I took away from my study.

The Community at Worship (corporate/formal)
Common worship should include, “the word of Scripture, the hymns of the Church, and the prayer of fellowship.”

He shares some thoughts on the book of Psalms and the Old Testament:
“The Psalter is the vicarious prayer of Christ for His Church.  Now that Christ is with the Father, the new humanity of Christ, the Body of Christ on earth continues to pray His prayers to the end of time.  This prayer belongs, not to the individual member, but to the whole Body of Christ.”
“The Old Testament is stressed, not as dull irrelevant history,” writes Mr. Roark, but as part of the total history of redemption.  My redemption cannot be isolated from Israel’s passing through the Red Sea, and other experiences.”

Singing in worship:
Singing, according to Bonhoeffer gives the opportunity “to speak and pray the same word at the same time.”  He believed strongly in the merits of “unison singing” as opposed to harmony (“show”) singing.”

Prayer in worship:
The fellowship of prayers means that we pray for on another’s needs, give thanks for others’
progress, and intercede for others’ concerns.

Fellowship in worship:
Fellowship around the table means common fellowship with those of the family, or those of the community, fellowship around the Lord’s table, and finally, the ultimate fellowship in God’s kingdom.

Work as worship:
The first hour of the day belongs to God in worship, the other hours belong to God in work.  Worship without work is as one-sided, as work without worship.

Personal worship:
Bonhoeffer warns of two extremes: “Let him who cannot be alone beware of community,” and “Let him who is not in community beware of being alone.”
  • Aloneness is necessary – but should not become monastic
  • Solitude and silence have therapeutic values
  • After a time of quietness, one is refreshed
  • Silence is important, but it is silent obedience to the Word of God
Meditation:
A time of personal reflection, reflecting on what was studied in God’s word; a time to ask the question: What does God say to me in / through this text?
In meditation, and through Scripture one seeks God

Prayer:
Out of meditation on scripture comes guidance for prayer.  It enables us to speak to God about matters too personal for corporate prayer.

Intercession:
To bring one’s brother into the presence of God in concern for his needs is to intercede for him.  Intercession is the means of transforming one’s personal attitudes about other people.  It is hard to hate one you talk with God about.
Bonhoeffer’s beatitude is poignant: “Blessed is he who is alone in the strength of fellowship and blessed is he who keeps the fellowship in the strength of aloneness.”

Types of ministry:
  • Ministry of self-control - The Christian must learn to hold his tongue.  Criticism is generally a technique used to gain advantage over the other person.  We should recognize the other person as free in the image of God.
  • Ministry of meekness - Learning to think of others as deserving and having more honor is meekness.   Seeking honor is detrimental to faith, for honor-seeking is self-centered where as faith is Christ-centered.  Resentment in the community is the product of honor-seeking. The meek person associates with lowly persons and says by this that he is a great sinner.  Bonhoeffer’s question with this in mind?  “How can I possibly serve another person in unfeigned humility, if I seriously regard his sinfulness as worse than my own?”
  • Ministry of listening - Learning to listen is a vital ministry for Christians and especially clergymen.  The Christian must recapture the art of listening.  Impatient listening is a form of despising other people!
  • Ministry of helpfulness - “This means, initially, simple assistance in trifling, external matters.”  God sends people our way to interrupt us.  We are God’s to serve others.  When one is too busy to help in the lowliest of services, one is guilty of taking a career too seriously.
  • Ministry of forebearing (and sustaining) - Bonhoeffer asks “If the Christian does not bear the burden of his brother, how is he different from a pagan?”  The entire Christ life is that of Cross-bearing.  We must continue in prayer for our fellow brothers and not be gleeful when they sin.  Conversely, it means that whoever needs to be lifted up will receive help.  Christ bore our burdens, and we in turn are to bear one another’s burdens.  If we refuse to bear the burdens of others, we are not bearing the cross.
  • Ministry of proclaiming - This refers to the communication of the gospel from person to person.  This is the free encounter born out of a relationship where one has truly listened, served, and borne the needs of others.  If we are to be obedient to God’s word, we cannot stand idle while our brother falls into sin.  Nothing can be more cruel than the tenderness that consigns another to his sin.  Rebuke is simply to call back to the common fellowship.  The ministry of rebuking is always in relation to God.  Only God can reclaim a person, but he chooses to work through us.  His Word must be spoken by us, and through it God works to bring he erring brother to repentance.
Confession:
Bonhoeffer writes: “The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner.  So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship.  We dare not be sinners.  Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous.”
We are to confess and be confessed to.  “Sin demands to have a man by himself.”  It isolates him, desiring to remain unknown.  If there is confession, the sinner is never alone again.  In confession there is born the joy of forgiveness in Christ.
To whom shall we confess?
“He who himself lives beneath the Cross.”  Jesus Christ.
2 Dangers in confession:
1. “Confession as a pious work is an invention of the devil.”  But confession rightly used and understood involves God’s offer of grace.
2. Before the Lord’s supper is received there should be general confession on the part of the fellowship.
These are just a few of the important lessons I have learned through this wonderful study of theology and Christian living.  I hope to share more with you soon!
Source: http://www.religion-online.org/showbook.asp?title=2737 – Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Dallas M. Roark)

July 7, 2013

Exciting news!!!

Sunday Meditation



Hebrews 12:5-11
"And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord , Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."


Job 5:17-18
“Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty. For He bruises, but He binds up; He wounds, but His hands make whole."


Galatians 4:4-7
"But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ."
 

July 6, 2013

My prayer for today


This is my prayer, Jesus!

"I pray Thee, make my way prosperous, not that I achieve high station, but that my life might be an exhibit to the value of knowing God.  Vindicate Thyself through me.  Joseph's intimacy with his God would not allow for unholy intimacy with sin - "he refused even to be with her" (Gen. 39:10)."  Jim Elliot's Journals

July 1, 2013

A time to read...

Wow, what a whirlwind my life has been lately!  I feel exhausted just thinking about all that has gone on, in the now by-gone, month of June. 

I will hopefully give a personal update soon, but I first wanted to share a whole list of links to articles I recently found encouraging, challenging, and necessary to read and re share. 

A Letter to the North American Church: Because it is Time (Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience) - This was one of the most challenging and reinvigorating articles I have read all year. 

"There are those who would rather turn a blind eye to the needy than turn to the needy and be like Christ."

When Dirty Diapers Land on Your Head (No Greater Joy) - This short article reminded me again, that God allows all sorts of things to happen to us, because He loves us, and the trials and blessings He sends our way are meant to help us have more faith and complete trust in Jesus!

"When boxes of dirty diapers land on us as adults, do we get short and frustrated or angry and ask, “Why is God allowing this to happen to ME?” Or do we, like a child, pick up the box again and know that God is working all things out for our good?"
Good Day to You? (R.C. Sproul Jr.) - In this touching account of a recent 'victory' over a killing center (Abortion clinic), Sproul reminds us that even though one of these horrible places has closed its doors (hopefully forever), there are still thousands of babies being murdered every day!

"A day is coming when our Father will answer our prayers. There will be not only no babies being murdered in Orlando, but all the babies in Florida will be safe. Murder centers across the nation will gather cobwebs. And around the world wombs will once again be a place of safety and nurture.  But when that day comes, we will I pray find ourselves on our knees in repentance. We will weep for joy, but we will weep in shame as well. We will, like Allied soldiers liberating Buchenwald, bitterly confess that we did too little, and too late."

Can You Be a Lady without being Modest? A thoughtful, woman's perspective on modesty and why it is so important that we present ourselves in a faultless way, so that others would not stumble. 

"Because we have such a deep desire to be seen as beautiful we are often willing to sacrifice the purity of the men around us on the altar of our own beauty.  Women will flippantly say that it’s the guys problem not theirs, all the while selfishly enjoying the attention their clothing choices gain them.  But it’s not just the guy’s purity we are compromising when we ignore God’s way in the area of modesty, it is our own."

And finally, Feminism, modesty and the bikini -  Just in time for summer and swimming, this evaluation of the modern swim wear is helpful, although I don't completely agree with the author. 

Is modesty about covering up our beauty, or about representing the dignity of who we are, made in His image and likeness?