Friday, September 24, 2010

Three 'Sticky' Things - (Kingdom Stuff)

Since it has been a long time since my last update, I'd like to share three things here that I've found particularly noteworthy and memorable (sticky) in the past few weeks.

First is "The Endless Evangelical Quest for Ultimate Transformation" a lengthy but thought-provoking article by Owen Strachan with many embedded links to additional  landmark contributions by authors such as Michael Horton, Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert. Here is a summary excerpt:
"While we hope to work with all our energy to spread the gospel and show grace to the fallen, we do so knowing that 1) we are not God and 2) we cannot altogether defeat sin and suffering. In fact, it seems like Revelation indicates that the world will get worse as time goes on rather than better (Greg Gilbert makes this point in his new book). Much as we hate this reality, much as we hate political corruption, and children suffering, and boys growing up to drop out and abuse women and children, and cataclysmic levels of human starvation, and spiritual idolatry, and the encroachment of Islam, and the breathtaking unfairness of the academic and cultural elite, and the advancement of sex trafficking, and every other ill, we are not God, we are not sovereign, and the Bible makes painfully clear that sin and wickedness and suffering on a stratospheric scale will be with us to the bitter end.

Jesus has won; Satan is defeated; victory is sure. The kingdom is advancing as the gospel is advancing (praise God!). Christians, filled with a love for the Lord and a sense for how He blesses radical faith, are attempting great things for Him. May that only continue. But we need to do so not with a naive optimism, with a worldly hope that is set, like a swelling balloon, to pop, but with a rich blend of complete trust in our Lord and Savior and full awareness of our own finitude and our world’s depravity.
“Plodding visionaries,” indeed. Full of hope; full of honesty. This is a Genesis 3 faith with an Isaiah 53 twist–and a Revelation 21 ending."
Next, is a video of Darrin Patrick (author of the book "Church Planter") interviewing Andy Crouch (author of the book "Culture Making") about the tension/distinction between dependence on God vs. being engaged culturally.

Church Planters, Cultural Engagement and Spiritual Power. from Journey-Creative on Vimeo.

Finally, this past week, I purchased and have enjoyed Robert Plant's new album, "Band of Joy". I was pleasantly surprised and encouraged by what seems to be a Christian testimony in his work. I've not yet confirmed precisely what denomination or "brand of faith" he professes, but I did read an article in which he said he attended worship services at a church. (Keep in mind, I'm a major Led Zep fan from way back, and while the new album doesn't try to be anything close to heavy metal, the music is fairly eclectic. I'd recommend sampling it, rather than buying it, unless you're a regular R.P. fan.)

Thought I'd share the poem from which the lyrics come here from one of my favorite songs on the new album (it's the last song, which appears just after he sings "I heard the voice of Jesus say, Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down"-- facinating stuff):
Once in Persia reigned a king
Who upon his signet ring
Graved a maxim true and wise
Which if held before his eyes

Gave him counsel at a glance
Fit for every change and chance
Solemn words, and these are they
"Even this shall pass away"

Trains of camels through the sand
Brought him gems of Samarcand
Fleets of galleys through the seas
Brought him pearls to match with these

But he counted not his gain
Treasures of the mine or main
"What is wealth?" The king would say
"Even this shall pass away"

'Mid the revels of his court
At the zenith of his sport
When the palms of all his guests
Burned with clapping at his jests

He, amid his figs and wine
Cried, "Oh, loving friends of mine
Pleasures come but not to stay
Even this shall pass away"

Lady, fairest ever seen
Was the bride he crowned his queen
Pillowed on his marriage bed
Softly to his soul he said

"Though no bridegroom ever pressed
Fairer bosom to his breast
Mortal flesh must come to clay
Even this shall pass away"

Fighting on a furious field
Once a javelin pierced his shield
Soldiers, with a loud lament
Bore him bleeding to his tent

Groaning from his tortured side
"Pain is hard to bear," he cried
"But with patience, day by day
Even this shall pass away"

Towering in the public square
Twenty cubits in the air
Rose his statue, carved in stone
Then the king, disguised, unknown

Stood before his sculptured name
Musing meekly, "What is fame?
Fame is but a slow decay
Even this shall pass away"

Struck with palsy, sore and old
Waiting at the Gates of Gold
Said he with his dying breath
"Life is done, but what is death?"

Then, then in answer to the king
Fell a sunbeam on his ring
Showing by a heavenly ray
Even this shall pass away.
That's it for now.... Have a great Friday!

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