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Creeds:: The Essentials of Historic Christianity
God the Father

1 John 1:1-5, NRSV
Luke 15:11-24, NRSV

Reflections

I want neither a terrorist spirituality that keeps me in a perpetual state of fright about being in right relationship with my heavenly Father nor a sappy spirituality that portrays God as such a benign teddy bear that there is no aberrant behavior or desire of mine that he will not condone. I want a relationship with the Abba of Jesus, who is infinitely compassionate with my brokenness and at the same time an awesome, incomprehensible, and unwieldy Mystery.

— Brennan Manning

  • God create us to know Him
  • Pinnacle of creation is when God created us
  • For us to connect and have fellowship with God


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Psalms: Songs for All of Life
Praise

Psalm 146: 1-10, NRSV

Reflections

The world rings with praise — lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game — praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds, praised most, while the cranks, misfits, and malcontents praised least… Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible.

— C.S. Lewis

  • Life is a craft for us to engage, not a list of tasks
  • Movement of going – from duty to delight, or obedience to delight
  • As we age and revisit Psalms, we find the Psalms age well

  • Looking back of our journey or from the past
  • Simple obedient at the start
  • Praise comes in the end
  • True worship can only come from praise
  • One person’s religion is based on what one’s to do in solitude
  • But also what to do in the interaction with the world


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Psalms: Songs for All of Life
Trust

Psalm 27: 1-6, NRSV

Reflections

Confronted with the mystery of god, the creature must be silent; not merely for the sake of being silent, but for the sake of hearing. Only to the extent that it attains silence, can it attain to hearing. But, again, it must be silent not merely for the sake of hearing, but for that of obeying. For obedience is the purpose and goal of hearing.

— Karl Barth, hurch Dogmatics, II.2

  • What we long for VS What we live in
  • In the World, in Confidence, in Hope

  • The World we long for (v1)
  • Triumph, fearless, in stronghold of the Lord
  • The World we live in (v2 and 12)
  • the violence that breathe out challenges our worldview

  • The Confidence we long for (v5)
  • Hiding emotionally and physically in God
  • Feeling safe in God’s Rock
  • The Confidence we live in (v4)
  • Not just the knowledge of safety, but also the experience of safety in order to see the beauty of God

  • The Hope we long for
  • The hope we live in (v14)
  • Waiting
  • Beauty and pain and sadness can be all wrapped together


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Psalms: Songs for All of Life
Lament

Psalm 69: 1-16, NRSV

Reflections

Until you bottom out, and come to the limits of your own fuel supply, there is no reason for you to switch to a higher octane of fuel. For that is what is happening! Why would you? You will not learn to actively draw upon a Larger Source until your usual resources are depleted and revealed as wanting.

— Richard Rohr, Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps

  • What do we do with our pain?
  • We medicate – one more drink, one more shopping spree, one thing of something, anything
  • We numb

  • We can’t just rely one verses like “God will not give us more than we can handle”
  • We can’t just bypass being lament, or the process of it
  • Chuck DeGroat – Lament is the ancient art of crying our prayers

  • Pattern
  • Freedom of expressing our pain
  • We are either too good at putting on a facade (and isolate ourselves) or too exhausted of doing it

  • Posture of Lament
  • v13 – but my hope is in You
  • Lament is not same as complaining
  • It is in the presence of God, not seeking for quick fix
  • Journey of searching for God, v16-17, God’s steadfast love

  • Person of Lament
  • in this passage, he is David
  • in Gospel, he is Christ Jesus
  • God shares the pain of this world when He loses His Son, dying on the cross
  • Lament is not just between you and God, it is between community and God
  • By living in the city, we share the lament of the city


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Psalms: Songs for All of Life
Obedience

Psalm 1, NRSV

Reflections

Two commands direct us from the small-minded world of self-help to the large world of God’s help. First, “Come, behold the works of the Lord.” Take a long, scrutinizing look at what God is doing. This requires patient attentiveness and energetic concentration. Everybody else is noisier than God. The headlines and neon lights and amplifying systems of the world announce human works. But what of God’s works? They are unadvertised but also inescapable, if we simply look. They are everywhere. They are marvelous. But God has no public relations agency. He mounts no publicity campaign to get our attention. He simply invites us to look …


The second command is “Be still, and know that I am God.” Be still. Quit rushing through the streets long enough to become aware that there is more to life than your little self-help enterprises. When we are noisy and when we are hurried, we are incapable of intimacy—deep, complex, personal relationships. If God is the living center of redemption, it is essential that we be in touch with and responsive to that personal will. If God has a will for this world and we want to be in on it, we must be still long enough to find out what it is (for we certainly are not going to learn by watching the evening news). Baron von Hugel, who had a wise word on most subjects, always held out that “nothing was ever accomplished in a stampede.”

— Eugene Peterson, Earth and Altar

  • Reality of Life: doing the right thing or the wrong thing might not turn out the way it should be
  • Psalm 1 might be too simplistic of view of life, things in black and white
  • in what, or who, are you rooted?

  • Warning
  • Ignoring God is more problematic than breaking His laws
  • We become dehumanized when we root ourselves in things that hurt us

  • Practice
  • v2 – meditate day and light
  • We need God
  • God is available, it’s not hard to find, we just have to stop running away
  • God loves you

  • Promise
  • v3 – like tree, growing and producing fruits, big and small


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Trinity Sunday

Romans 8:12-17, NRSV

John 3:1-17, NRSV

Reflections

Trinity Sunday is the day when we stand back from the extraordinary sequence of events that we’ve been celebrating for the previous five months — Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost — and when we rub the sleep from our eyes and discover what the word ‘god’ might actually mean.

— Tom Wright, For All God’s Worth

  • Discovering God thru journey and pilgrimage
  • God is rescuing you, is leading you to new creation, is the Father, the Creator, the Indweller
  • Heaven and Earth are closer than we think
  • Church (temple) is not safe heaven from earth; it is where Heaven and Earth comes together
  • There were thoughts that God would lead Israelites another Exodus, out of Romans
  • The disciples were on the journey/pilgrimage themselves, leading all the way to Jesus’ resurrection

  • God begin change of the world is not the way people often think, e.g. military power with armies and tanks, but thru the weak, the meek, the broken-hearted, to help others of weak, building schools and hospitals
  • We cannot be just passage of journey/pilgrimage, we are to born again

  • Trinity is more than just dogma, more than intellectual theology
  • Romans 7-9 is really an Exodus story
  • Christian is to inherit the new creation on earth, not the Heaven

  • Flesh in the world comes to us and say, we owe them
  • Flesh is human nature
  • Flesh or spirit, slavery or freedom, our choice
  • Jesus’ Abba the father experience, prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane, being torn over doubt and temptation


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The Story of God: All Will Be Well

Romans 8:28-39, NRSV

Reflections

A good man may look down upon all the whole army of worldly afflictions under his feet and you may consider with joy, however great they are and however numerous, let them all join their forces together against him and put on their most rueful and dreadful habits, forms and appearances, and spend all their strength, vigor and violence with endeavors to do him any real hurt or mischief, and it is all in vain. He may triumph over them all knowing this: light afflictions, which are but for a moment, shall only work out for him a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, and, that although sorrow continue for a night, yet joy cometh in the morning: remembering God’s promise that all things shall surely work together for his good.

— Jonathan Edwards in Christian Happiness

  • Context of this passage, Paul’s suffering (v35)

  • Promise
  • Bad things do happen, but God takes the bad and work it out for the good
  • Why can we trust God’s promise? v31-32

  • Definition of Good – more than just circumstances
  • v29: We become more like Jesus when we suffer
  • God doesn’t waste pain, it is for further transformation
  • Jesus suffer is not so that we don’t suffer
  • But when we suffer, we become more like Christ
  • Our calling, to be generous, to invite others to church for the good news

  • Guarantee
  • v31-39: I am loved, therefore I am


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The Story of God: Union With Christ

Romans 6:1-14, NRSV

Reflections

I’m always in danger of losing my grip on reality. The reality, of course, is that God is sovereign and Christ is savior. The reality is that prayer is my mother tongue and the Eucharist my basic food. The reality is that baptism, not Myers-Briggs, defines who I am.
Very often when I leave a place of worship, the first impression I have of the so-called “outside world” is how small it is–how puny its politics, paltry its appetites, squint-eyed its interests. I have just spent an hour or so with friends reorienting myself in the realities of the world–the huge sweep of salvation and the minute particularities of holiness–and I blink my eyes in disbelief that so many are willing to live in such reduced and cramped conditions. But after a few hours or days, I find myself getting used to it and going along with its assumptions, since most of the politicians and journalists, artists and entertainers, stockbrokers and shoppers seem to assume that it’s the real world. And then some pastor or priest calls me back to reality with “Let us worship God,” and I get it straight again, see it whole.

— Eugene Peterson

    • Christians being old and the same is not good; it’s no good to have no growth
    • David Martyn Lloyd-Jones – Benchmark of true Gospel Preaching: There is no better test as to whether a man is really preaching the gospel of salvation than this: that some people might misunderstand it and misinterpret it to mean you can go on sinning as much as you like because it will redound all the more to the glory of grace. If my preaching of the gospel of salvation does not expose it to that misunderstanding, then it is not the gospel.
    • Sin is not just bad behavior, not just at the superfical level
    • It is the unwillingness to grow and to be more Christ-like
    • It is over-desire even when desire is a good thing, when it is becoming an idol

 

    • Justification – by God alone
    • Sanctification – partner with God, for our process to grow, to be more Christ-like
    • Progress is to be more and more dying to sin, more and more living in Christ

 

 

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The Story of God: Hope

Romans 5:1-11, NRSV

Reflections

Hope: an encounter that captivates our imagination so we can’t help but become more than who we thought we were, and find ourselves living for something that is all at once preposterous and impossible.

— Cheryl Lawri

  • We all want a God who would be with us when we are suffering
  • There is no denial of reality when we are facing the prospect of suffering
  • But Grace is assured, Hope of glory is assured
  • We can be sure that God is with us, the God of peace, God of hope in glory, God of Love


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The Story of God: The Faithful One

Romans 1:1-17, NRSV

Reflections

The resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate sign that our salvation comes only when we cease trying to interpret Jesus’ story in the light of our history, and instead we interpret ourselves in the light of his.

— Stanley Hauerwas
The Peaceable Kingdom

  • Gospel is good becase:
  • Gospel is news, not advice
  • Gospel is transformative, not exhausting
  • Gospel is accessible, not impossible

  • News, not advice
  • Good news about God’s victory
  • His promise has come true
  • If it is advice, we might “shurg”, “bug” (anger), or “smug” (like Pharisee)

  • Transformative, not exhausting
  • Gospel is about God being faithful, about God fulfilling His promise
  • With resurrection, Gospel transforms Paul

  • Accessible, not impossible
  • Basis of our lives is not based on our own feelings or our thinking
  • It is based on God’s faithfulness, based on what God has done

  • Question for us: How do we respond?
  • We respond in faith
  • Transformation is already yours – Chuck DeGroat


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