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Embarking Blog

...on the journey towards restoration of all things

Filtering by Tag: faith

For Glory

Tom Elenbaas

I wonder... if we thought that everything - even pain and suffering - were somehow to bring glory to the Father, how that would change our approach to life? I wonder what it would look like to truly trust the Father enough that even if I see nothing come of it my lifetime within my limited view, that I would still be able to trust him with the gift of suffering for his sake?

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Risk Aversion

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I've been writing a bit about failure and risk aversion in the last couple of posts. Overcoming the fear of failure and seeking to trust God when he asks us to move, and to take a leap of faith is a discipline and a skill that can grow within you and I as we trust God when he leads. I was reading "Your Church is Too Safe: why following Christ turns the world upside-down" today by Mark Buchanan. This is a great read. It's challenging and exciting all at the same time. I was reading through chapter four today yesterday and came across the following passages several hours after writing Failure and Failure 2.  Here, Mark is speaking about the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. He says this:

...there's not way to be a faithful servant of God and God's kingdom without taking some hell-bent-for-leather risks...

The getting in or losing out [of the Kingdom] has a lot to do with the kind of risks we take, or not. We're well schooled, from the writings of Paul and others, that certain kinds of people do not inherit the Kingdom of God: the wicked, the impure, the deceitful, the rage fiends, and such. What we're less prepared for, though we've had ample warning, is the kind of person Jesus adds to that list: the cautious.

Good and faithful servants are those who shoot the moon. They run with scissors. They leap before looking. The bad servant - the wicked, lazy servant - is the cautious one.

pp. 53-54

These are hard words for many of us to hear because we want to play it safe, make sure it will work, get assurance of our protection, and stay in control. But it appears this is exactly the opposite of what faith is about. God tells Abraham to get up and go - not telling him where - and he does. God asks Elijah to trust him when he faces the prophets of Baal, and he does, calling fire down from heaven. Shadrack, Meshack and Abednigo head into a fiery furnace and are not consumed. And the list goes on and on of faithful followers - the crazy ones. It's what Tim Hansel called "reckless abandonment" in his book Holy Sweat.

This all reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Frederick Beuchner in Wishful Thinking:

What God says... is “The life you save is the life you love.” In other words, the life you clutch, hoard, guard, and play safe with is in the end a life worth little to anybody, including yourself, and only a life given away for love’s sake is a life worth living. To bring this point home, God shows us a man who gave his life away to the extent of dying a national disgrace without a penny in the bank or a friend to his name. In terms of human wisdom, he is a Perfect Fool. And if you think you can follow him without making something like the same kind of fool of yourself, you are laboring under not a cross, but a delusion.

Oswald Chambers says it this way in My Utmost for His Highest, the Patience of Faith:

Faith – [or trust] – is the heroic effort of your life.  You fling yourself in reckless confidence on God.  God has ventured all in Jesus Christ to save us.  Now He wants us to venture our all in abandoned confidence in Him… Again and again, you will get up to what Jesus Christ wants, and every time, you will turn back when it comes to that point, until you abandon resolutely… Jesus Christ demands that you risk everything you hold by common sense – and leap into what He says… Christ demands of the [person] who trusts in Him the same reckless spirit… that is daring enough to step out of the crowd and bank his [or her] faith on the character of God. [From My Utmost for His Highest]

Brennan Manning echoes the point in his book Ruthless Trust:

Unwavering trust is a rare and precious thing because it often demands a degree of courage that borders on the heroic.

Risk aversion is only truly safe when it is embedded in the womb of faith. I am free to seek, try, fail, and leap because I have a Father in heaven who will catch me when I fall if I am truly seeking to follow him in all things. It is this true safety that gives us life and the ability to take risks. And the thing is, he expects it.

Note how Eugene Peterson gets at this same passage, Matthew 25, in the Message: (Thanks to Eric Metcalf for pointing this out to me.)

"The servant given one thousand said, 'Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.'

"The master was furious. 'That's a terrible way to live! It's criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.

"'Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this "play-it-safe" who won't go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.'"

So, apparently, faith and risk-aversion are diametrically opposed, and God prefers the former.


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Summit: Session 6

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from Willow Creek Leadership Summit 2008: Session 5, Chuck Colsen, BreakpointDefending The Faith We have bought into a lie:  we've transferred our allegience from truth to therapy.

Leadership lessons from the marines:

  • The test of leadership is to serve your troops.
  • Then you give them the bigger vision.
  • Follow me.

If you are a shepherd, your job is not to pander to your people, it is to lead them.

Don't be ashamed of truth.  Defend the law of non-contradiction.

Stop blaming the culture for everything that's going wrong in the world today.

God's judgement comes first on the people of God.

In our country we are in Babalyonian Captivity.

Defend the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

What is Christianity? 

  • It is a worldview, a system, a way of seeing all of life through Jesus Christ. 
  • Abraham Kuyper:  "There is not a square inch on the whole plain of human existence over which Christ, who is Lord over all, does not proclaim: 'This is mine.'" [Souvereiniteit in Eigen Kring, 1180, p. 32.]
  • It rests on basic truth claims.  1)  It starts with a very simple declaration, "God is."  It is the most rational choice.  Alvin Plantinga: "The first presupposition about reality is that God is."  2) God speaks.  The bible is authoritative and inerrant.  3) The fall.  When asked the question, "What's wrong with the world today," GK Chesterton said, "I am."  4) The incarnation.  5) Conversion/ transformation is essential.  6) The Trinity. 7) Unity - we are reconciled to one another. 8) Judgement
  • The Christian view must propose rather than impose. [axiom}

Comments:  I get what Colsen is doing, and I think defending the faith is important.  However, as you can see in previous posts, introducing people to a system or converting them to a system or a set of propositions as our manner of apologetics or evangelism is not my preferred modus operandi and I don't think it speaks to a postmodern culture.  He's not wrong, by any means.  I just think the strong emphasis on this type of apologetics and propositional truth defense isn't so helpful these days, but rather something that makes us feel pretty good because we're defending the faith, which is important, but we aren't necessarily reaching people through it.  He quoted a lot of people I love (Alvin Plantinga, GK Chesterton, Cornelius Van Til), but we take different approaches to these things.  I also am a huge fan of both cultural engagement, of Christians living as a peculiar people in the culture, and of people understanding a Christian world and life view, especially being able to articulate how the Lordship of Christ makes my life different because of the commitments I have.  However, I still think that spending the bulk of our time defending propositions and a system to our current culture creates a barrier of entry for those outside.  Our time should be spent introducing people to the Lord Jesus, allowing the Spirit to work in their hearts, and then helping them to understand what a commitment to Jesus and a transformed life requires.  I would say that we pretty much agree on foundational elements, but we probably disagree on where to place emphasis in our current postmodern culture.  To put is succinctly, I'm less interested in contending for propositions or even for Christianity than I am for Jesus Christ.


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