… we do not become mature by taking a course in maturity or reading a book on maturity. Maturity is everything we are becoming attentive and responsive to, everything that Christ is. – Eugene Peterson, Practice Resurrection, pg. 114
Lately we have been learning about how to love our enemies and how to bless those who persecute or use us. (This coming week we will continue the discussion by looking at judging others) Jesus’s words seems undoable. They present a way of life that appears unattainable. Living the life of the Kingdom of God, as Jesus describes it in the Sermon on the Mount, requires a new vision of our lives. We can’t merely will ourselves into thinking the way Jesus did nor can we will ourselves into behaving as he did.
However, as Jim Smith describes it, when we get to know the Jesus God knows (and know him the way Jesus does) the following quote can become true of us. Jim quotes Dallas Willard describing a new kind of life for those of us who seek to apprentice ourselves to Christ:
“We know that we will be taken care of, no matter what. We can be vulnerable because we are, in the end, simply invulnerable. And once we have broken the power of anger and desire over our lives, we know that the way of Christ in response to personal injury and imposition is always the easier way. It is the only way that allows us to move serenely in the midst of the harm and beyond it.” – The Good and Beautiful Life, pg. 134
This Saturday night James Bryan Smith, author of The Good and Beautiful God, will speak at Wheatland. Jim will share with us some of his ideas about spiritual formation and what motivated him to write the book.
Starting the week of October 23rd our congregation will slowly and deliberately make our way through material of The Good and Beautiful God. It is both my hope and my prayer that we will find this an experience of great learning and even greater growth.
Here is a paragraph from the book. It comes from a chapter about the trustworthiness of God. Many of us (dare I say all?) struggle with trusting God. It’s easy in the good times but it feels impossible in the tough times. This quote summarizes the heart of the book:
“All of us have to face pain and difficulty, sometimes even tragedy. As we come to know and draw close to the God Jesus knows, we find a new kind of strength to deal with our struggles. If we do not know God as our Abba Father, then we will never have the courage to face our problems. But as we come to know the good and beautiful God that Jesus knows, our struggles take on a whole new meaning. If God is truly good and is looking out for our good, then we can come to him with complete honesty. We can practice honesty when we pray—baring our soul and confronting those hurts that make us doubt God’s goodness by handing them over to him for healing.” (pg. 64)
Old Testament Isaiah 42:1-9
Gospel John 1:43-51
Epistle I Corinthians 6:11-20
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sightO Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14
You can find a new blog that is dedicated soley to our discussion of Sarah Sumner’s book, Men and Women in the Church. Here is the address: wheatlandmenandwomen.wordpress.com
I will be updating each week with a review of our discussions and with some good questions for you to ponder as you read. If you haven’t started reading the book and would like to just give me a call. We have a few copies left.
You can also click on the link, Sumner Book, on the top right section of our site to go to the new book blog.
The discussion group for Men and Women in the Church will begin this Wednesday Night at the home of Kyle and Rachel Rogg. You may call or e-mail me for directions. Click on the e-mail tab at the right or dial 992-1540. If you can let us know that your coming that would be great. If you have not yet picked up a bookI can get one to you as well. (I’ll also bring extra’s Wednesday night.)
If you already have a copy read the preface and introduction for Wednesday. See you there!