Write the non-future

A few days before the World Cup began, I watched this most interesting video by Nike:

With last night’s elimination of Portugal, all the players featured (Drogba, Cannavaro, Rooney, Ribery, Donovan, Ronaldinho (who didn’t even make it onto the team) and Ronaldo) are no longer on their way to making history. I guess they can console themselves with the oodles of cash they got for the ad. And I can make fun of Nike and gain no benefit whatsoever from doing so 😉

An infinite willingness to forgive

Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
—Matthew 12:32

In reading this verse, we usually jump to the second part and ask ourselves what the unpardonable sin may be. In doing this, we miss what Jesus says in the first part, namely that there is a great desire on God’s part to forgive.

The problem is that forgiveness is not easy and comes at infinite cost, that is,  Christ’s sacrifice on the cross in our place. In resisting the Holy Spirit we may place ourselves outside of God’s forgiveness. It is possible to place ourselves outside of God’s infinite willingness to forgive. Scary.

-Paraphrasing Tim Keller in The Sin Against the Holy Spirit

I have no ideas…

I’ve run out of blog ideas.  So, enjoy the following entries from my church’s inbox:

The US Attorney General has come to our rescue!

Letter purporting to be from US Attorney General
Letter purporting to be from US Attorney General

(Why were they discussing fraud at a nuclear summit?)

The UN Secretary General has also come to our rescue!

Letter purporting to be from UN Secretary General
Letter purporting to be from UN Secretary General

(We sorely need more people to make the world a better place!)

What manner of man is this?

When Jesus calmed the storm, the disciples were terrified and amazed and asked among themselves what Jesus’ true identity was  (Matthew 8:27; Mark 4:41; Luke 8:25). Maybe one of the following verses came to their minds:

who stilled the roaring of the seas,

the roaring of their waves,

and the turmoil of the nations.

-Psalm 65:7

You rule over the surging sea;

when its waves mount up, you still them.

-Psalm 89:9

Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,

mightier than the breakers of the sea—

the LORD on high is mighty.

-Psalm 93:4

He stilled the storm to a whisper;

the waves of the sea were hushed.

-Psalm 107:29

Source: I can’t remember…

Please stay/Go away

Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

-Mark 5:16-17

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.

-John 4:39-41

The Samaritans asked Jesus to stay, and He did. Those in the region of the Gerasenes pleaded with Him to leave, and He did. Be careful what you ask for.

On the other hand, Jesus understands when it’s our desperation talking:

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”

-Luke 5:8

The Messianic secret

Mark in his gospel records a number of times that Jesus Christ told people not to tell anyone who He was and/or what He’d done. Jesus told evil spirits to shut up (1:25; 1:34; 3:12). He told people who’d received healing at His hand to keep it to themselves (1:43-45; 5:43; 7:36; 8:26). He even told his disciples not to tell anyone what they’d seen and heard (8:30; 9:9).

Why? Some say that Jesus didn’t really believe He was the Messiah. I beg to differ. Staying in Mark’s gospel, here’s why:

In 2:1-3:6 we read of some of the conflict Jesus had with the religious leaders of His day. Even though He didn’t come out and overtly proclaim His identity, He made enough implicit statements to get under their skins. In 5:19-20, He tells the man formerly known as Legion to go tell his family how much the Lord had done for him.  Jesus’ statements on His identity become less veiled in His last week, as we see from chapter 11 on: He accepts the praise from the people on Palm Sunday; He cleanses the Temple (the chief priests and elders confronted Him asking who gave Him the authority to do what He did); He even inserts Himself in the parable of the tenants.

I fall in with those who hold to the view that Jesus didn’t want to perpetuate the erroneous view of the Messiah that was prevalent in 1st-century Israel. Note that the man formerly known as Legion who became a missionary to his community wasn’t a Jew. The same goes for the Samaritan woman in John 4. Jesus had a plan—His Father’s plan—to purchase men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation (Revelation 5:9). I’m exceedingly grateful that He stuck to that plan!

4 ways to be a fabulous friend

Constancy: Proverbs 17:17; 25:17; 18:24. A friend loves at all times.

Carefulness: Proverbs 26:18-19; 27:14; 25:20. A friend knows you well enough to what what hurts you.

Candour: Proverbs 27:5-6; 29:5. A friend nonetheless knows when to wound. And when they do, it hurts them too.

Counsel: Proverbs 27:9,17. A friend both reassures and challenges you, as the situation calls for it.

As believers in Christ, we have the ultimate friend. He’s there at all times. He received the wounds, not inflicted them. He never lets us down.

– Tim Keller, in Friendship

Here’s the classic hymn… in Chinese!

Inordinate love

“It remains certainly true that all natural loves can be inordinate. Inordinate does not mean ‘insufficiently cautious.’ Nor does it mean ‘too big.’ It is not a quantitative term. It is probably impossible to love any human being simply ‘too much.’ We may love him too much in proportion to our love for God; but it is the smallness of our love for God, not the greatness of our love for the man, that constitutes the inordinacy.”

—C. S. Lewis, in The Four Loves

Avoiding heartbreak

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that  casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”

—C. S. Lewis, in The Four Loves