New City Catechism – Q1

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C.S. Lewis – On Forgiveness

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C. S. Lewis writes about the problem of forgiveness:

. . . you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart—every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out. The difference between this situation and the one in such you are asking God’s forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily; in other people’s we do not accept them easily enough.

As regards my own sin it is a safe bet (though not a certainty) that the excuses are not really so good as I think; as regards other men’s sins against me it is a safe bet (though not a certainty) that the excuses are better than I think. One must therefore begin by attending to everything which may show that the other man was not so much to blame as we thought.

But even if he is absolutely fully to blame we still have to forgive him; and even if ninety-nine percent of his apparent guilt can be explained away by really good excuses, the problem of forgiveness begins with the one percent guilt which is left over. To excuse what can really produce good excuses is not Christian character; it is only fairness. To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.

This is hard. It is perhaps not so hard to forgive a single great injury. But to forgive the incessant provocations of daily life—to keep on forgiving the bossy mother-in-law, the bullying husband, the nagging wife, the selfish daughter, the deceitful son—how can we do it? Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night ‘forgive our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.’ We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it is to refuse God’s mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exceptions and God means what He says.

C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (New York: Harper Collins, 2001; Originally published 1949), 181-183 (paragraphing mine).

God of Justice – Tim Hughes

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God of justice, Saviour to all
Came to rescue the weak and the poor
Chose to serve and not be served

Jesus, You have called us
Freely we’ve received
Now freely we will give

We must go live to feed the hungry
Stand beside the broken, we must go
Stepping forward keep us from just singing
Move us into action, we must go

To act justly every day
Loving mercy in every way
Walking humbly before You, God

You have shown us, what You require
Freely we’ve received
Now freely we will give

Fill us up and send us out
Fill us up and send us out
Fill us up and send us out, Lord

Apologetics – A Million Suns

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[A Million Suns]

You stand eternal

The uncreated One

Who knows no end

The starry wonders

The vast expanses

Bound to Your command

You shine like a million suns ablaze

Wrapped in eternal light and praise

Jesus the First, the Last

The Bright, the Morning Star

You spoke creation

Into existence

Life and all we are

Beyond all measure

The universe

An echo of Your power

You shine like a million suns ablaze

Wrapped in eternal light and praise

Jesus the First, the Last

The Bright, the Morning Star

[x2]

Everlasting

Never ending

You will reign forevermore

You are holy

You are worthy

Lord of all

[x3]

[chorus]

  • Hillsong United

G.K. Chesterton – Miracles

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“My belief that miracles have happened in human history is not a mystical belief at all; I believe in them upon human evidences as I do in the discovery of America. Upon this point there is a simple logical fact that only requires to be stated and cleared up. Somehow or other an extraordinary idea has arisen that the disbelievers in miracles consider them coldly and fairly, while believers in miracles accept them only in connection with some dogma. The fact is quite the other way. The believers in miracles accept them (rightly or wrongly) because they have evidence for them. The disbelievers in miracles deny them (rightly or wrongly) because they have a doctrine against them.”

… Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936), Orthodoxy, London, New York: John Lane Company, 1909, p. 278-279

After Easter

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Caravaggio – Supper at Emmaus (1601)

After Easter

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
Luke 24:45-47 (ESV)

There is a long break between Easter and Christmas in terms of religious holidays. Many nominal Christians, in fact, point to these two days as the totality of their ecclesiastical experience. We are right, and justified to celebrate and make much of these two high points in both the calendar year and our individual and corporate worship. But what to do between Spring and Winter? How might we bridge the gap between new life and death in the cycle of creation’s seasonal display? The words of Christ in the above verses may serve as a sort of guidepost for us in our restless longing between lilies & hollies.

Proclaim repentance (Luke 24:47)

In the intervening time, let us proclaim metanoia “repentance” in Jesus’ name. Let us proclaim the change that is possible through faith in God’s own Son. Isaac Watts said it this way in his hymn Twas the Commission of our Lord from 1707: “ ‘Repent, and be baptized,’ He said, ‘For the remission of your sins:’ And thus our sense assists our faith, and shows us what His Gospel means. Our souls He washes in His blood, as water makes the body clean; and the good Spirit from our God descends like purifying rain.” Like purifying rain! What a springtime metaphor! What a way to survive the heat of summer! As if commenting further on his faithful and careful recollection from the first of his two-volume work, Luke says in Acts 3: “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.” (Acts 3:19-21 ESV)

Proclaim forgiveness of sins

Here is the heart of the matter. Here is the crucial message that the apostles only fully understood until after the resurrection: That Jesus is the Messiah, the only One who could make intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12). Early in Mark’s Gospel, the disciples were sent out to preach “that men should repent” (Mark 6:12). This was as much of the massive implications of the Christ that they could understand at that time. Later in Mark 6-8, the disciples clearly do not understand what it means that Jesus is the Christ (as most powerfully evidenced in the “get behind me, Satan” statement of Jesus to Peter – Mark 8:33). But now, in our text from Luke 24, the disciples’ minds have been opened so that they could understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45). Now we, due in large part to their faithful proclamation, have the privilege of joining with them in heralding out the message of reconciliation!

I can’t think of a better way to spend my summer…