Metaphor helps us see what is not so easily seen, but it can also be used to poetically express the rather mundane. Take the opening phrase of Song of Songs … Continue reading Metaphor has power to depict sublime reality
Sometimes, the joy of being a dad flows over and through me for no specific reason. It’s not a birthday or Father’s Day; it’s merely another regular day, and I … Continue reading Connecting with the joy of divine parenthood
The Apostle John stated that God is love (1 John 4:8), but many years later H. Richard Niebuhr made a great distinction in regard to the thinking of Jesus. “Though God is love, love is not God” for Jesus.
Niebuhr’s words were published in 1951 in what has become a classic, Christ and Culture. And, as with any true classic, there is a timelessness to the insights.
An interesting thing has happened in America since 1951; it seems that love has indeed become a god in our culture. Almost everyone exalts love; fewer exalt the God who is love and who, in Christ, showed us what love really looks like.
Jesus had his thoughts and worship fixed firmly on the God of love, faith, hope, and humility — not on those attributes themselves. “The greatness and the strangeness of Jesus’ love of God does not appear in his love of cosmic love, but in his loyalty to the transcendent power” of God the Father, Niebuhr wrote.
Jesus had a single-minded devotion to God, and his ethic was centered in God the Father and the value of the human soul, Niebuhr said. He was referring to Jesus’ “Great Commandments” to love God and others. These loves, however, are not on equal footing. “It is only God who is to be loved with heart, soul, mind and strength; the neighbor is put on the same level of value that the self occupies.”
Love and worship of God were at the center of Jesus’ theology and ethic. We err when we place love and worship at the center. The object of our love and worship is the key. When we put God at the center, then love and worship flow from our lives, and then other people want to know more about the source. And thus we are reminded of how worship, Christian living and evangelism are connected. When we worship God and live for Christ, evangelism becomes more genuine, more authentic because we have become more like Christ.
Walking under a canopy of oak and elm trees along a blacktop road, I found myself praying–literally verbal prayers spoken to the sky that peaked through the leaves. But the prayers were not really to the sky; they were to the divine beyond the sky.
The words, though spoken aloud, are private between the speaker and listener, but an interesting thing happened as I reached the end of the canopy. I heard an owl hoot off to the left ahead. It was the only sound. And I thought of the owl that must have uttered the sound, and I thought of wisdom, which, of course, is another way of naming God. Two simple words came to my mind, “Wisdom speaks.”
That is no simple thought; that is magnificence.
Then another owl off to my right hooted back to the first. Wisdom not only speaks, wisdom hears.
Sometimes it does not take much to be enough.
Those of us who like to read are pulled along through many dull sentences and paragraphs in hopes of encounters with truly marvelous ones. The payoff is such that we keep pursuing.
Today, at lunch, I discovered some special words from Thomas R. Kelly. They came from a lecture he gave at the Germantown Friends’ Meeting in Germany in January 1938.
“To you in this room who are seekers, to you, young and old who have toiled all night and caught nothing, but who want to launch out into the deeps and let down your nets for a draught, I want to speak as simply, as tenderly, as clearly as I can. For God can be found. There is a last rock for your souls, a resting place of absolute peace and joy and power and radiance and security. There is a Divine Center into which your life can slip, a new and absolute orientation in God, a Center where you live with Him and out of which you see all of life, through new and radiant vision, tinged with new sorrows and pangs, new joys unspeakable and full of glory.” (pp. 18-19, A Testament to Devotion, 1941)
Kelly was a Quaker and a philosophy professor. His life showed that a person can allow his or her thoughts to dig deep, only there to find that the One who made the pursuit possible is the One to be worshipped.
A serious storm rolled through east Texas this evening. It was pushing northeast. A tornado warning went into effect west of our place. The sky turned dark gray and then teal green as it boiled up around our house on Hickory Hill. The temperature tumbled and the wind blew hard out of the northwest, which means we had a storm system moving northeast while strong winds were blowing across it. The clouds were moving fast and dipping low when the warning horn began to blow six miles away in Eustace.
Most of the family was on our east-facing porch, peaking around the south and north ends of the house to watch the clouds but stay out of most of the wind. I went inside to see if I could get information from the TV or Internet. Nothing helpful.
Our oldest son’s pit bull, Lola, stood watching the front door because she wanted in the house even though almost everyone was outside.
The leading edge of the storm passed, and the lightning approached. The family moved inside with the front door open. A bolt hit the ground about 100 yards in front of the house, and the sound almost immediately crackled through the air. Screams, but no danger.
A good, heavy, much-needed rain then set in for awhile.
Nature is amazing. The power of a storm makes you feel rather small and helpless. The spectacle of a storm makes you feel part of something much bigger. The God who created this is indeed big and awesome. I’m reminded of the book, Your God is Too Small. Nature reminds us how foolish it is to think we have God captured all nice and neat in a fully understandable box.