Wednesday, December 24, 2014

N.T. Wright on the Problem of Evil

"We are not told—or not in any way that satisfies our puzzled questioning—how and why there is radical evil within God’s wonderful, beautiful, and essentially good creation. One day I think we shall find out, but I believe we are incapable of understanding it at the moment, in the same way that a baby in the womb would lack the categories to think about the outside world. What we are promised, however, is that God will make a world in which all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well, a world in which forgiveness is one of the foundation stones and reconciliation is the cement which holds everything together. And we are given this promise not as a matter of whistling in the dark, not as something to believe even though there is no evidence, but in and through Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection, and in and through the Spirit through whom the achievement of Jesus becomes a reality in our world and in our lives. When we understand forgiveness, flowing from the work of Jesus and the Spirit, as the strange and powerful thing it really is, we begin to realize that God’s forgiveness of us, and our forgiveness of others, is the knife that cuts the rope by which sin, anger, fear, recrimination and death are still attached to us. Evil will have nothing to say at the last, because the victory of the cross will be fully implemented."

N.T. Wright

Friday, December 19, 2014

Straight No Chaser...The Twelve Days of Christmas

Here's another of the songs I try to share each Christmas. It's a different take on a familiar tune...and it's a whole lot of fun!

Missing the Point of Christmas

This is a reprint of a post from December 12, 2012

The other day I was at the store looking at cards when I saw a pretty, red and gold card with the following acrostic emblazoned upon its front:

Holy One

I was thankful that amidst all the commercialization and materialism of Christmas, someone had remembered the Reason for the Season (do I need a little TM after that?). I couldn't help but shake my head in dismay though when I opened the card to find this inside:

Did you catch the word that set me off?


Too often we (even we, in the Church) think of God as being like Santa Claus, keeping two lists: "Naughty" and "Nice." The whole point of Christmas though is that not one of us is good enough to attain "Nice" list standing. What we (each and every one of us) DESERVE is nothing less than the convicting judgment of a righteous God, who perfectly understands how very short we fall from the standard of holiness that is required of us.

But that's the great thing about Christmas. In it we see the grand manifestation of the grace of God in the fact that he did not give us what we DESERVE. Rather he took on human flesh that he might live the perfect life we fail to live, and die the atoning death we DESERVE to die. You see, for those who trust in Christ, God doesn't keep a record of your naughtiness to hold against you. Rather, he has worked graciously, savingly, forgivingly, "canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross." (Colossians 2:14)

It's understandable that non-Christians would miss the point of Christmas. But if you call yourself by the name of the One who was laid in a manger over 2000 years ago, please don't make that same mistake.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

What Christmas is All About

My daughter is in the fifth grade. It seems like it was a LONG time ago when I was that age--probably because it was! Two things in particular stick out in my memory from that year: 1) I remember the St. Louis Cardinals winning the 1982 World Series, and 2) I remember taking part in a play at school. It was a production of It's a Charlie Brown Christmas and I played the role of Linus.

Linus was of course the most challenging part in the production because I had a monologue that was much longer than any of the lines other characters had. In that monologue, Linus explains what Christmas is really all about. It was my favorite part of the whole production then, and it still is now each time I watch the cartoon production of  It's a Charlie Brown Christmas on TV.

It was a lot to memorize when I was eleven, but with blanket in hand, I was up to the task. The great thing though is the fact that it wasn't only a line in a play, it was gospel truth, a direct quote from the second chapter of the Luke. Merry Christmas to you all and may each of you know the joy that comes with knowing the true meaning of Christmas.

A Christmas Letter

Genealogy is one of my favorite hobbies. I find it especially gratifying to get acquainted with ancestors that I otherwise could never have known. For instance, I never met my great-grandfather, Frank J. Scribner (he died four years before I was born), but I am quite certain that I would have greatly enjoyed him. Not only did he share my ministerial calling, but by all accounts he was a kind, intelligent and loving man.

One of the primary means through which I have gotten to know him is through reading his journals, sermons and various personal correspondences. Among these are this Christmas letter which he penned 57 years ago, and which I enjoy reading annually this time of year. I hope you will enjoy reading it and be blessed by it as well.

An earlier version was originally posted on 12/20/12.