I have good friends

20140628-133154-48714714.jpgI posted a comment, note and link to a friend’s blog the two days ago. And mentioned that I might want to borrow the book from him. This friend lives in the Northwest, but the book showed up in my mailbox today!

This is now third in line for my to-be read books, I have about 500 pages to get through first.

Flipping through it, I think it’ll be good and helpful. Now, what I really need is a book designed to convince non 5-Pointers of Limited Atonement/Already Election.

Anyone else want to send me a free book?

About my friend…
 Jonathan Shradar is a former bouncer, current grace junkie, and the Director of Young Adults Ministry at Bethel Church in eastern Washington.

We were part of a clandestine small group in Washington, DC called the “Cabal” that met in pubs around the city and discussed the meat of living as a Christian. Don’t tell anyone about that.

He’s a father of two awesome kids, the husband a wife that’s too good for him, and has a weird relationship with his dog.

He met Forrest Whittaker once.

Law in a cheap mask

A friend of mine posted a review of the book PROOF: Finding Freedom Through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace.

While I sometimes struggle with this particular doctrine, I find it often very encouraging. I would like to share one of the quotations that he also shared. One of these days I might ask him to borrow this book.

Whenever we find ourselves face-to-face with a living example of one-way love with no strings attached, our tendency is to change the subject – or to switch the story so that God’s grace doesn’t land in the lap of an active slave trader or our delusional next-door neighbor or a dance in some sleazy downtown club. We live by law but call it grace. Such grace isn’t amazing because it isn’t grace at all; it’s law in a cheap mask. And whenever you show up at a party that’s hosted by the law, you’re the one who’s left with the bill.

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim and a Question of Martyrdom

“It’s just words. I’m sure that God will understand it if she denies [her faith] so she can save her life. He knows that lives are more important than just words. If she doesn’t and they kill her because of it, that’s on her.

meriam-yehya-ibrahimWho’s a Fanatic?

As I sat in on the discussion about current events, which was particularly on Christian persecution in Sudan and Nigeria, I was absolutely amazed and appalled to be hearing this. I wasn’t at some college campus’ open forum, or at some sociology lecture. I was visiting a church, sitting in an adult Sunday school class, and I’m pretty sure (from previous conversation) that the man saying this was in some sort of leadership position in the church.

I pushed back, lightly – I was just a visitor – and reminded them of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who refused to bow the knee to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden bunny statue.

Unfazed. Someone else spoke up and agreed, saying that she was also putting her husband and children in danger and she was just being a – and I am absolutely quoting – “a fanatic.”

Giving Up What?

I paused and thought about my own dear children; I can understand the pull to roll over, to give up and to renounce publicly my faith in Jesus to save my wife, daughter and son pain and loss. But, as dear as they are to me, I couldn’t. I would not.

I think. I hope.

But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.Matthew 24:13

Honestly, failing to embrace immediate martyrdom, or to face the threat well – as my faithful Sudanese sister in Christ did — I can get that. Looking death in the eye can be scary, even for one whose faith is placed in the One who conquered death itself.

But, plainly planning to give up. Being downright flaccid to the point on plotting out not only your own treachery, but blaming others for not doing so. It feels clearly damnable, in every possible sense.

Peter, Judas and _____

When Jesus says to the apostles after the Last Supper, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered,’” imagine if Peter said,

“Of course we’ll run away. If we don’t run away,  it’s on us if they catch us, too. God will know that we still really believe in Him, our lives are more important than this. And, you Jesus, your life is way more important. If you don’t run away or fight, you my old friend are a fanatic and you deserve whatever you get!”faux Matthew 24:13

Now, of course, Peter didn’t run away, he stood and fought. But, after the heat of the moment died down, he denied Jesus again and again just to leverage a warm place around a trash fire built by some slaves to keep themselves warm. Even if he didn’t want to.

I’m glad to hear that Meriam Yehya Ibrahim’s ordeal is over (for now). I have no idea how she would continue living in Sudan, I guess once you stare down martyrdom there’s far less to be afraid of.

I don’t know what happens when someone faces martyrdom and denies true faith. There was repentance for Peter. Would there have been for Judas?

Would there be for a treacherous Sunday School “Christian”?

 

Question on Christian Liberty and Mind/Body Altering Substances

Where do limits lie for body-mind affecting substances? Drugs, alcohol, tobacco/nicotine, coffee/tea/caffeine, even sugar.

First, I make the assumption that the Bible does not inherently ban things like these, but does speak to the situations.

Some of the limits are clear for Christians, we are to be submitted to authority so illegal drugs are out of the question along with drinking under 21 (in the US), drinking and driving, and smoking (really purchasing nicotine products) under 18. Others are not; at what age should children be allowed to drink coffee? How many cookies should I have? What defines “drunk(/filled with wine)”? How many cigarettes, pipes or cigars is “okay”?

I think culturally and perhaps subconsciously we place “drunk” at whatever limit our local government says you can’t drive past. But, that was clearly not the case in other times and places.

We don’t limit smoking in adults, but perhaps we should.

We can drink as much caffeine at any age as we want, but should we be allowed to?

Sandy Hook, Franklin Regional, Fort Hood, KinderCare

A picture in front of KinderCare last night. Taken by @MarinaMarraco.

A picture in front of KinderCare last night. Taken by @MarinaMarraco.

Fia is a funny little kid, a few weeks ago she asked me to “put talking on” – we were listening to her favorite Spotify mix, but she wanted some NPR.

On Monday I dropped off my daughter at the preschool/daycare she goes to two mornings each week, this morning there was some piece about Sandy Hook on as we were pulling into the parking lot of her daycare in Winter Park, FL and I thought of all of those parents who sent their kids to school that day and never heard their voices again. Fia walks and runs like a champ, but she wanted to be carried in that day and I was more than happy to hold and hug her tight on our way in.

Wednesday afternoon, after we’d picked her up from daycare, after hearing about the stabbings west of Pittsburgh, I got a call from a friend asking where Fia’s preschool was and if she was there. He said something about a car running into a daycare in Winter Park and that kids were hurt. Even though I could see her curly mop focused on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, my heart dropped out.

The Winter Park KinderCare is less than a 1.5 miles from Fia’s school. As we drive there, I know that we pass cars carrying kids that are headed to KinderCare. There are definitely children that live in our neighborhood, it’s just too close for there not to be.

As I carried my first baby in on Monday I thought about how much her absence would wreck me, not just her being at school absence or her one day going to college absence. But, if she was gone. If she was taken like little Lily Quintus is, the child killed by some big jerk with a big ego in a big truck, one of two things would likely happen. I’d either turn into Liam Neeson from Taken, but without the “particular set of skills,” or I’d end up a kind of empty shell for a while. I’d snap out of it eventually, I’d have a wife to love and comfort, a son to raise, and most importantly I have a God that is merciful. I’d eventually get to the point that King David did when his first son died, believing that I will see her again.

I don’t have a point that I’m aiming at. I’m just processing a little.

I used to get mad at these kind of things happening (I still do), but more and more often they lead me to hug my wife, my daughter and my son tighter and to try to soak up every minute we have.

I hope they find Robert Corchado, if it turns out that he really is the guy that cause this I hope they throw the book at him. I hope he goes to prison and is know as the guy who killed a 4-year-old. Eventually my anger turns to mercy, my rage to forgiveness, my desire for justice for my desire for the same mercy that has been shown me by this God that sees the depths of our hearts and still calls to us.

Driving cars off the road. Shooting kids. Stabbing classmates. Escalating fights to the point of violence at work.

But for the Grace of God, there goes Jayson Whelpley.