Jonathan's Blog

It is rather amazing and worth reflection that the the men who lived before electricity certainly had an ideal, noise and distraction free environment to think! I submit the following book excerpt as an example:

"The extreme uncertainty attending all attempts to determine the chronology of the Bible is sufficiently evinced by the fact that one hundred and eighty different calculations have been made by the Jewish and Christian authors, of the length of the period between Adam and Christ. The longest of these make it six thousand nine hundred and eighty four, and the shortest three thousand four hundred and eighty-three years. Under these circumstances it is very clear that the friends of the Bible have no occasion for uneasiness. If the facts of science or of history should ultimately make it necessary to admit that eight or ten thousand years have elapsed since the creation of man, there is nothing in the Bible in the way of such concession. The Scriptures do not teach us how long men have existed on the earth. Their tables of genealogy were intended to prove that Christ was the son of David and the seed of Abraham, and not how many years had elapsed between creation and advent."

Systematic Theology Volume II by Charles Hodge pg. 41
The portrait of Peter, the rock who proved to be a sand pile, speaks to every ragamuffin across the generations. Lloyd Ogilvie notes: Peter had built his whole relationship with Jesus Christ on his assumed capacity to be adequate. That’s why he took the denial of the Lord so hard. His strength, loyalty, and faithfulness were his self-generated assets of discipleship. The fallacy in Peter’s mind was this: He believed his relationship was dependent on his consistency in producing the qualities he thought had earned him the Lord’s approval. Many of us face the same problem. We project into the Lord our own measured standard of acceptance.
The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning
Every time that we put forth some effort and the equivalent of this effort does not come back to us in the form of some visible fruit, we have a sense of false balance and emptiness which makes us think we have been cheated… Every time we give anything out we have an absolute need that at least the equivalents should come into us, and because we need this we think we have a right to it. Our debtors comprise all beings and all things; they are the entire universe. We think we have claims everywhere. In every claim we think we possess there is always the idea of an imaginary claim of the past on the future. That is the claim we have to renounce.
Waiting for God, Simone Weil p. 148
It may be that vice, depravity, and crime are nearly always, or even perhaps always, in there essence, attempts to eat beauty, to eat what we should only look at.
Here below we must be content to be eternally hungry; indeed, we must welcome hunger, for it is the sole proof we have of the reality of God, who is the only sustenance that can satisfy us, but one that is “absent” in the created world. The danger is not lest the soul should doubt whether there is any bread [God], but lest, by a lie, it should persuade itself that it is not hungry. It can only persuade itself of this by lying, for the reality of its hunger is not a belief, it is a certainty.
Not to deny one’s hunger and still not to eat what is forbidden, there is the miracle of salvation! It is true even on the level of human friendship, “a miracle by which a person consents to view from a certain distance, and without coming any nearer, the very being who is necessary to him as food.”
And how much more true on the level of the divine! “If [Eve] had been hungry at the moment she had looked at the fruit, and if in spite of that she had remained looking at it indefinitely without taking one step towards it, she would have performed a miracle analogous to that of perfect friendship.
It is “looking” which saves and not “eating.” It should also be publicly and officially recognized that religion is nothing else but a looking. Looking, the mere turning of the head toward God, is equated by Simone Weil with desire and that passive effort of “waiting for God” which gives the present book it’s name; while eating is equated with the will, and the false muscular effort to seize that which can only be freely given. Man’s “free will” consists in nothing but the ability to turn, or refuse to turn, his eyes toward what God holds up before him. “One of the principal truths of Christianity, a truth that goes almost unrecognized today, is that looking is what saves us. The bronze serpent was lifted up so that those who lay maimed in the depths of degradation should be saved by looking upon it.”
Yet we must love this world, this absence of God by virtue of which we are, for only through it, like the smile of the beloved through pain, can we sense the perfectly nonpresent Being who alone can redeem it.
This world is the only reality available to us, and if we do not love it in all it’s terror, we are sure to end up loving the “imaginary,” our own dreams and self-deceits, the Utopias of the politicians, or the futile promises of future reward and consolation which the misled blasphemously call “religion.”
“Extreme affliction… is a nail whose point is applied at the very center of the soul, whose head is all necessity spreading throughout space and time… He whose soul remains ever turned toward God though the nail pierces it finds himself nailed to the very center of the universe… at the intersection of creation and its Creator… [at the] intersection of the arms of the Cross.”
On the cross, deceit is no longer possible; we are forced to “recognize as real what we would not even have believed possible,” and having yielded ourselves in love to spiritual poverty, spiritual nudity, to death itself, even to the point of previsionally renouncing the hope of immortality, we are ready for the final gesture of obedience: the surrender of the last vestiges of selfhood. In the ultimate “nuptial yes,” we must de-create our egos, offer up everything we have ever meant by “I”, so that the Divine Love may pass unimpeded through the space we once occupied, close again on Itself. “We are created for this consent, and for this alone.
As written by Leslie A. Fieldler in the introduction of “Waiting for God” by Simone Weil
The only cure for the angst of modern man is mysticism
Thomas Merton
In confession a man breaks through to certainty. Why is it that it is often easier for us to confess our sins to God than to a brother? God is holy and sinless, He is a just judge of evil and the enemy of all disobedience. But a brother is as sinful as we are. He knows from his own experience the dark night of secret sin. Why should we not find it easier to go to a brother than to the holy God? But if we do, we must ask ourselves whether we have not often been deceiving ourselves with our confession of sin to God, whether we havenot rather been confessing our sins to ourselves and also granting ourselves absolution. And is not the reason perhaps for our countless relapses and the feebleness of our Christian obedience to be found precisely in the fact that we are living on self-forgiveness and not a real forgiveness? Self-forgiveness can never lead to a breach with sin; this can be accomplished only by the judging and pardoning Word of God itself.
Who can give us the certainty that, in the confession and the forgiveness of our sins, we are not dealing with ourselves but with the living God? God gives us this certainty through our brother.
"Life Together" Dietrich Bonhoeffer pgs. 115-116
As my game improved, I felt the need to move my ball less frequently, except on occasions when the concept of fairness came into play. When a ball struck cleanly, soaring directly at its selected target, we deserve to be aptly rewarded. This ball, dead center in the fairway, merits an appropriate lie, not in a divot or another poor setting. Good shots SHOULD be rewarded. So we move the ball. Fairness calls for it. I, like most other golfers—winter rules players—moved it.
In time, guided by the wisdom of Harvey Penick, a profound change began to free me.
Golf was not about fairness. The ball was to be played from where it sat. There are benefits to this approach, Mr. Penick said, and I would seek to discover them. In golf, as in life, obstacles are placed in our path. In overcoming these roadblocks, our greatest triumphs occur. By improving our lie, we are only cheating ourselves of the opportunity to achieve.
There are no good or bad lies, only what is. When we see things as they are, without judgement, we provide ourselves an opportunity to come through with our best performances. This state of mind will not ensure success, only our best effort. For me, there was a gradual change in my outlook. At first, in situations when the concept of fairness came into play, the unfairness of my lie dominated my thoughts. Weak shots tended to follow. Over time, as I began to free my mind of judgements, better results occurred. I began to look at situations and make objective determinations that would give me the maximum chance for success.
Leonard Finkel as quoted in “Chicken Soup for the Golfer’s Soul”
One of the most important leadership skills is to discern whether the person standing in front of you is asking for your help as a manager or for your attention as a leader. Sometimes explaining the plan, clarifying a goal, or acquiring a resource is enough management to keep team members moving along a path. At other times, they may need something significantly different. They may want to understand whether this mission is truly meaningful given that they heard otherwise over the office watercooler. Or they may need help staying motivated in the face of seemingly endless late nights and setbacks in the project.
From: Creative People Must be Stopped by Michael McKinney
Jonathan Edwards on Perspective

This is on excerpt from Piper’s “God-enthralled Vision of all Things” (p 50-51).
It was written by Jonathan Edwards in response to the faith shown in a letter from one of his daughters Esther Edwards Burr after the death of her husband and when her infant son was deathly sick (later he would become our 3rd vice president).

"Indeed he is a faithful God; he will remember his covenant forever; and never will fail them who trust in him. But don’t be surprised, or think some strange thing has happened to you, if after this light, clouds of darkness should return. Perpetual sunshine is not usual in this world, even to God’s true saints. But I hope, if God should hide his face in some respect, even this will be in faithfulness to you, to purify you, and fit you for further and better light.’

Perhaps Ester Edwards Burr’s response to these times of trials in her life represents the true legacy of Edwards’s ministry.”

Many Christians think stoicism is a good antidote to sensuality. It isn’t. It is hopelessly weak and ineffective. And the reason it fails is that the power of sin comes from its promise of pleasure and is meant to be defeated by the superior promise of pleasure in God, not by the power of the human will. Willpower religion, when it succeeds, gets glory for the will. It produces legalists not lovers. Edwards saw the powerlessness of this approach and said:

We come with double forces against the wicked, to pursuance them to a godly life…The common argument is the profitableness of religion, but alas, the wicked man is not in pursuit of profit; ‘tis pleasure he seeks. Now, then, we will fight with them with their own weapons.

In other words, Edwards says, the pursuit of pleasure in God is not only not a compromise with the sensual world, but is the only power that can defeat the lusts of the age, while producing lovers of God, not legalists who boast in their willpower. If you love holiness, if you weep over the moral collapse of our culture, I pray that you will get to know Edward’s God-enthralled vision of all things.

Piper’s “God entranced Vision of all Things” p. 24