June 15, 2019

Rampant Individualism

Stephen Um on Discipline…
“There is a cultural aversion to discipline. We’re comfortable with the idea of self-discipline. -- bringing ourselves into line with a certain standard in order to reach a long-term goal like weight loss, eating healthily, or earning an additional degree. We even refer to different branches of knowledge or fields of study as ‘disciplines’ because we understand that it takes sustained focus, hard work, and self-discipline to grasp them. However, we are uncomfortable with the idea of being disciplined by an external force -- someone or something outside ourselves.  And the reason for this is rampant individualism. Jonathan Leeman says, ‘[for] the average person in Western culture today: every attachment is negotiable. We are all free agents, and every relationship and life station is a contract that can be renegotiated or canceled, whether we are dealing with the prince, the parents, the spouse, the salesman, the boss, the ballot box, the courtroom judge, or, of course, the local church. I am principally obligated to myself and maximizing my life, liberty and pursuit of happiness… I retain the power to veto everything.’”
Stephen Um, 1 Corinthians: The Word of the Cross (Preaching the Word)


The Pug Bunk



The Pug Bunk
Our pug (Zeus) has been spoiled.

We made the mistake, after we moved, of allowing him up on the end of the bed because he was crying... He has mommy issues. He can't be away from my wife at any time if she is in the house.

We put a blanket out and his bed and lifted him up there so that he could be near her. We had never let him in the bed before, and he is too old / fat to get up there himself. But... we felt sorry for him and lifted him up there.

Well... I quickly tired of lifting him up, but once we had done it the first time, he was not going to be content to be that far away from his favorite person in the world.

I had to come up with an alternative because I was sick of lifting him up.   (He is on the chunky side and it is just annoying... Especially after I've already climbed into bed.)

My solution: The Pug Bunk.


June 4, 2019

dream vs. reality


Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it had sprung from a wish dream. The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves. 
By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world. He does not abandon us to those rapturous experiences and lofty moods that come over us like a dream. God is not a God of the emotions but the God of truth. Only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all of its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God’s sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it. The sooner this shock of disillusionment comes to an individual and to a community the better for both. A community which cannot bear and cannot survive such a crisis, which insists upon keeping its illusion when it should be shattered, permanently loses in that moment the promise of Christian community. Sooner or later it will collapse. Every human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be every so honest and earnest and sacrificial.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

June 1, 2019

power and love

"Like life itself, power is nothing --- worse than nothing --- without love.  But love without power is less than it was meant to be. Love without the capacity to make something of the world, without the ability to respond to and make room for the beloved's flourishing, is frustrated love. This is why the love that is the heartbeat of the Christian story --- the Father's love for the Son and, through the Son, the world --- is not simply a sentimental feeling or a distant, ethereal theological truth, but has been signed and sealed by the most audacious act of true power in the history of the world, the resurrection of the Son from the dead. Power at its best is resurrection to full life, to full humanity. Whenever human beings become what they were meant to be, when even death cannot finally hold its prisoners, then we can truly speak of power."

Andy Crouch, as quoted from Playing God by Stephen Um in his commentary on 1 Corinthians

Authority

Stephen Um on authority...


"Authority is not authoritarianism. Authority is the ability to influence others -- the right to give orders and make commands with the good of others in view. Authoritarianism is enforcing strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom.  It is 'showing a lack of concern for the wishes or opinions of others; domineering; dictatorial.'  Authority is having a supervisor who seeks his or her staff's good in harmony with the good of others, leading to personal and social flourishing. Authoritarianism, however, is having a supervisor who demands strict obedience and crushes both individual and social flourishing for the purpose of maintaining control. The problem is that all of the uneasy feelings associated with authoritarianism (which are good and proper!) have been imported into the conception of authority."


Stephen Um (1 Corinthians: The Word of the Cross, Preaching the Word Commentary Series)