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Costly Grace

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After I finished reading Metaxas's biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I immediately searched my home library for his book, The Cost of Discipleship, or simply titled in German, Discipeship. IVan Gogh The Raising of Lazarus started reading the first chapter and discovered notes in my own handwriting, but only in the first chapter. It is a very important chapter. It's titled Costly Grace, but it's where he discusses it's antithesis, cheap grace. He boils down the distinction to one sentence.
The justification of the sinner in the world degenerated into the justification of sin and the world. p. 50
He places one of Luther's famous seemingly contradictory quotes in its correct context. Luther says, "Sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ more boldly still." In short, Bonhoeffer concludes, Take courage and confess your sin, says Luther, do not try to run away fro it, but believe more boldly still. You are a sinner, so be a sinner, and don't try to be…

book report: Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas

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Not every book I review for Booksneeze is a winner, even though the books come gratis. But this is the best book I have reviewed yet. Like the author, Eric Metaxas, I came to this man's life with little knowledge. I haven't read any of his famous books, such as the Cost of Discipleship or Life Together or Ethics. Since finishing this biography, I have already started reading Discipleship, which has been sitting in my home library for years, neglected, perhaps even feared by me.
I always enjoy biographies in which the biographer adores their subject. Certainly, Metaxas wishes he had the opportunity to meet Dietrich in this life, but shares the same faith and has the same hope that they will meet in the next life with Jesus Christ.
At 600 pages, Metaxas spends time understanding Dietrich from before his birth through his early childhood and school days. He quotes generously from Dietrich's letters and books as well as those of his contemporaries. My only disappointment is a we…

Suicidal tendencies: cinema and music

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I'm not talking about that band from the 80's. But I was close friends with someone who had those feelings.Image via Wikipedia
You come to me with your scars on your wrist
You tell me this will be the last night feeling like this
I just came to say goodbye
I didn't want you to see me cry, I'm fine
But i know it's a lie

This is the last night you'll spend alone
Look me in the eyes so I know you know
I'm everwhere you want me to be
The last night you'll spend alone
I'll wrap you in my arms and I won't let go
I'm everything you need me to be

I lost many nights of sleep to take phone calls from that friend who was a depressed insomniac who would call me from a pay phone, before cell phones (BCPh), at the beach where he sat with a razor blade in his hand. He didn't have Jesus. But we became friends in Latin class in high school. I was a melancholy kid myself, but I had Jesus. Somehow, in his eyes, I had something transcendent. Your parents say everything…

Does anyone ever compare love to drugs?

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If you keep your radio station and MP3 collection to just "positive, family" music you might not know that many songs compare love to chemically induced states. Lately, on our long drives to and from grandma's my family listens to the "scan" station. We experience a wide diversity of music, We introduce the kids to songs we know from the 70's and 80's and they tell us what they like from their world. Tonight I heard for the first time Kesha's, "Your love is my drug." Since I wrote last week about our common pursuit for the transcendent, some choose drugs, some choose love, some choose religion, some get Jesus, I was interested in her version. Her lyrics mention things like,
Because your love, your love, your love, is my drug
Your love your love your love
I said your love, your love, your love, is my drug
Your love your love your love

I don't care what people say
The rush is worth the price I pay
I get so high when you're with me
But cras…

need that lovin' feelin? Jesus or magic mushrooms?

I almost enjoyed Mark Galli's essay in Christianity Today called The End of Christianity as we know it. He wrote in response to a recent NYT article (proving that blogging is mostly a midrash of the NYT) regarding medical use of hallucinogenics to treat depression and anecdotes of their induction of transcendent experiences. The NYT article probably was recycled from the 1950's. These aren't new assertions. Neither am I saying they are false assertions. Galli doesn't either. For the sake of his argument, he let's it lie, then proceeds to wonder whether the American church need exert so much energy on creating worship experiences so that people can encounter God. Perhaps he should ask that of all those cathedral builders. Perhaps he should have asked Solomon to reconsider building the temple his father David designed. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Galli writes, From the point of view of experience, it seems it's impossible to tell the difference between …

Bonhoeffer on being a change agent

There so many great quotes to pull from Eric Metaxas's biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I am thoroughly enjoying getting to know this man. He was incredibly bold to break away from the state church, it's Nazi compromised form calling themselves "German Christians". He also had many sympathizers who wanted him to help them change it from within, but Bonhoeffer had no hope for that approach. He had become convinced that a church that was not willing to stand up for the Jews in its midst was not the real church of Jesus Christ. On that he was quite decided.He was far ahead of the curve, as usual. Some wondered whether he was just kicking against the goads, but when someone asked Bonhoeffer whether he shouldn't join the German Christians in order to work against them from within, he answered that he couldn't. "If you board the wrong train," he said, "it is no use running along the corridor in the opposite direction." pp. 186-7 He was part of …

Dorothy Sayers on the resurrection of Jesus

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During this Holy Season, we have been reading aloud around the table at dinnerCover via Amazon selections from Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter. The readings are deep, a little too much so, for the kids, but I love them so much, especially something I read today from Dorothy Sayers, a wonderful apologist from the perspective of a writer and poet. This is an excerpt from her essay, The Greatest Drama Ever Staged.
Now, nobody is compelled to believe a single word of this remarkable story. God (says the Church) has created us perfectly free to disbelieve in him as much as we choose. If we do disbelieve, then he and we must take the consequences in a world ruled by cause and effect. The Church says further that man did, in fact, disbelieve, and that God did, in fact, take the consequences. All the same, if we are going to disbelieve a thing, it seems on the whole to be desirable that we should first find out what, exactly, we are disbelieving. Very well, then: “The right Faith …

Jesus vs. religion in Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas

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I'm in the process of reading for review my complimentary copy of a new biography on Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas. It's over 600 pages and some of the quotes are so goodImage via Wikipedia that they can't wait until I'm finished. Also, I fear there will be too many to quote in one review. Here is one on the distinction between Christianity and religion.In this lecture, Bonhoeffer tipped one sacred cow after the other. Having dealt with the idea of Christ as no mere great ethicist, he proceeded to explain the similarity of the Christian religion to other religions. Then he came to his main point: the essence of Christianity is not about religion at all, but about the person of Christ. He expanded on the theme learned from Karl Barth that would occupy so much of his thinking and writing in the years to come: religion was a dead, man-made thing, and at the heart of Christianity was something else entirely - God himself, alive. "Factually speaking," he said, "…

Good Friday re-post

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I started this blog 5 years ago right before Good Friday. I like what I wrote then, so I'm re-posting it, my 2nd post of the Umblog.
Image by Biały via Flickr
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

This is the Good News! This is why this terrible death is celebrated as Good.
These are things worth thinking on today, the last words of Jesus on Good Friday.
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34) -compassion
"Amen I say to thee, this day you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43) -hope "Woman, behold your son...Behold your mother." (John 19:26-27) -family
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46) -spiritual suffering
"I thirst." (John 19:28) -physical suffering
"It is finished." (John 19:30) -victory
"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." (Luke 23:46) -faith