Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Are YOU a Barbarian?

When you join the barbarian tribe, you begin to live your life with your eyes and your heart wide open. When the Spirit of God envelops your soul, your spirit comes alive, and everything changes for you. You are no longer the same. And to those who cannot see the invisible, to those who refuse to believe it exists, the path you choose, the life you live, may lead them to conclude that you are not simply different, but insane. People who are fully alive look out of their minds to those who simply exist.

From The Barbarian Way by Erwin Raphael McManus

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Barbarian Way

Somehow, Christianity has become a non-mystical religion. It's about a reasonable faith. If we believe the right things, then we are orthodox. Frankly, whether we ever actually connect to God or experience, His undeniable presence has become incidental, it not irrelevant. We have become believers rather than experiencers. To know God, the Scriptures always went beyond information to intimacy. We may find ourselves uncomfortable with this reality. We become connected to the God of eternity. Who you are at the core is spirit. God is spirit. To walk with God is to journey in the spiritual realm.

From The Barbarian Way by Erwin Raphael McManus

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Wrath of God

It was the most poignant picture of wrath I've witnessed. I had taken my family camping in the Sierra Nevada mountains to escape the heat of our home on the valley floor and to soak in some rest and relaxation. I was hunkered down in a lunge chair deeply engrossed in a novel. My wife, Sara, was coming to join me when suddenly we heard screams of pain from our two-year old son, Andy.

    He'd been playing in the dirt not far from our campsite. As I looked up, he was stomping his feet and waving his hands wildly. Swirling around him were flying insects, backlit by the sun; Sara immediately recognized them as bees. Somehow he had stumbled into their nest in the ground and they were attacking him relentlessly.

    Before I could extricate myself from the reclining chair, Sara was rushing to the sounds of his screams. Even though she is allergic to bee stings and got stung for her efforts, she angrily swatted at the bees as she scooped up her son to run with him to safety. When I got to them she was stroking his head with comfort even as she was panting from the overload of adrenaline still coursing through her veins.

    If you want a picture of God's wrath, I can think of none better. She was angry as I've ever seen her, but the anger wasn't directed at Andy nor did it seek punishment. She simply risked herself to rescue someone she loved so deeply.

    That's what God's wrath is like. He sees the evil that mars his creation and destroys the people he loves, and he must be rid of it. His wrath consumes evil and wickedness and as such does not exist as the opposite of his love, but as an expression of that love. He must protect and set free the object of his affection.

    I'm sure when my son first saw Mom running at him, eyes blazing with anger, he thought he was in trouble. Even though he didn't know what he'd done wrong, he was already recoiling from her as she approached. Only after she had swept him to safety did he realize he was not the focus of it, but its beneficiary.

    Our shame-consciousness does the same thing toward God. Whenever we see God acting to consume sin, we internalize the anger against ourselves. But that isn't where the wrath is primarily directed. "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men…" (Romans 1:18)

    It's not people God seeks to destroy, but the sin that destroys his people. In that sense, God's wrath is far more curative than it is punitive. Its primary purpose is not to hurt us, but to heal and redeem us."

From He Loves Me by Wayne Jacobsen

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Terms of Relationship

When Scripture talks about the relationship God wants with us, it borrows the most tender images of our world. He calls us young children beloved by a gracious Father, the bride of an expectant bridegroom; friends dear enough to die for and little chicks rushing under the protective wings of a hen.

From He Loves Me by Wayne Jacobsen