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  • Running out of opportune time

    Running out of opportune time

    At the beginning of chapter 7 of the gospel of John, when Jesus’ relatives tell Jesus to go to the feast of Tabernacles in Judea and do his miracles before those huge crowds, so that he can attain the notoriety he was obviously looking for (or so, they thought), John ‘s editorial comment is simple: for neither did his brethren believe on him. Yet, in what follows, Jesus is about to show us how unbelief is anything but simple.

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  • Desperation is the mother of salvation

    Desperation is the mother of salvation

    Have you ever been misunderstood? It happens. Sometimes we are at fault: we do not think through all the different ways that something we say could be taken, and then the words are out. They cannot be unspoken. But sometimes it is the listener’s filter that is skewed, and we had no idea. It happens. But when it happens among your friends, among family, among people who ought to know you better than that… that’s when it hurts most; and that is when we stand to lose the most.

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  • Charmolype

    Charmolype

    Χαρμολύπη is a compound Greek word that I love because it concisely expresses a deep paradox of human existence. It can be translated “joyful sorrow” or “bitter joy” or “affliction that leads to joy.” I like it in the same sense that I have always liked the Hebrew name Mara (you may know it in the form: Miriam). It means bitter, but also strong. It was the name Naomi claimed for herself in the book of Ruth when she returned broken to Israel after having lost everything. Yet, if you have read the story, you know God had a plan all along and she played a crucial role. It is also the name of Mary, the mother of Jesus, who sang the joyful Magnificat at the coming of the Savior and at the same time quietly accepted into her heart the full revelation of what His life would be like, and how it had to end to fulfill the promise of that song.

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  • The escalation: Putting Faith to the test. (Part 4 of 4: Where else am I going to go?)

    The escalation: Putting Faith to the test. (Part 4 of 4: Where else am I going to go?)

    Last time, we left off at verse 60 of chapter 6 of John’s gospel. It marks a turning point in Jesus’ ministry. After Jesus “doubles down” on his claim to be the living bread come down from heaven – needful for eternal life – He stretches the simile to its breaking point: telling them that unless they eat of this bread (his flesh) and drink of his blood they can never have that eternal life. The reaction is: John 6:60 Many therefore of his disciples having heard [it] said, This word is hard; who can hear it?

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  • The escalation: Putting Faith to the test. (Part 3: The day of the test is now.)

    The escalation: Putting Faith to the test. (Part 3: The day of the test is now.)

    But take away the possibility of offense, as has been done in Christendom, and all Christianity becomes direct communication, and then Christianity is abolished, has become something easy, a superficial something that neither wounds nor heals deeply enough; it has become the false invention of purely human compassion that forgets the infinite qualitative difference between God and man.

    Søren Kierkegaard, Practice in Christianity

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  • The escalation: Putting Faith to the test. (Part 2)

    The escalation: Putting Faith to the test. (Part 2)

    If you ever choose to become a teacher or a professor, it is a good thing to remember what it was like to be a student. I remember being completely lost in some classes. It wasn’t until much later that I realized the problem was that the subject matter was presented as a series of “facts” whose only connection to each other was chronology (that is, when they happened). If you have a good memory, you may be able to remember them that way; but do you actually know them? Not really. Knowledge only comes from the full story, from the interdependence of the facts: how one can be derived from another, how they support each other, and how, together, they compel us to reach new conclusions. Context is everything. This is especially true in the Sciences; it is also absolutely true when reading the Bible.

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