Archives For Faith

My daughter, who has been homeschooled for the majority of her education, is doing her higher school certificate this year and she’s starting to feel the pressure. In fact, we all are. In passing one day, I randomly encouraged her to “be like Maverick and engage.” Understanding the context of the reference, she smiled back.

As I am known to do from time to time, I started to think a bit deeper about the meaning of those words.

At the end of Top Gun (1986), Maverick sits waiting as back-up. He’s in an F-14, waiting as “ready-five” or ”ready-alert“, things don’t go well for the team and he’s then called into the fight. Once he gets there, he wavers. At this point in time he has a choice whether to engage or disengage. He chooses to engage.

Another example from 1986 comes from the film ‘Iron Eagle‘. When retired Air Force Colonel, Chappy Sinclair chooses to engage with the rescue of a friend, who is being held as a P.O.W. Sinclair chooses to help his friend’s son pilot an F-16 into a war zone. His most memorable words were:

“God doesn’t give people talents that he doesn’t want people to use. And he gave you The Touch. It’s a power inside of you, down there where you keep your guts boy! It’s all you need to blast your way in and get back what they took from you.” (I.E, 1986)

Although Maverick (Pete Mitchell – Tom Cruise) and Chappy (Louis Gossett Jr.) are fictional characters, there are sound examples throughout history of men and women, who were called into the fight.

One of those was Winston Churchill. At the age of 65, after many years of being dismissed for his warnings about the state of the world, he was called into the fight. He had the same choice as Maverick and Chappy. Engage or disengage. He chose to engage.

If you’re feeling the pressure today, and no doubt you will, because all of us do, remember these examples. Remember that God did not waver when He created you. He freely and decisively chose to engage in life with you, that you may freely and decisively engage in life with him.[i]

You have a God-given, grace enabled freedom, and you are called upon by God to live that out. Engage in life with Him through Jesus Christ, and engage in life with others. This freedom comes with responsibility; His grace confronts us with a choice. We choose daily, whether to invite God into our decisions, and be for others or for ourselves. That choice can be tough. Faith can be tough.

But we don’t put our faith in our circumstances. We don’t put our faith in faith. We put our faith in God, learning from that which He has given and anticipating where He will guide us, based on what He’s given and already done in the past for us. We have a history with God, even if we don’t want to acknowledge it. We are summoned to ‘trust in the Lord with all our heart, [to] lean not on our own understanding, [to] submit all things to Him, and he will make our paths straight.’ (Proverbs 3:5-6).

One of the other great historical examples comes from theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He reminds us of the choice to engage, while when in a Nazi prison, he wrote:

‘In me it is dark, but with you there is light.
I am lonely, but you do not abandon me.
I am faint-hearted, but from you comes my help.
I am restless, but with you is peace.
In me is bitterness, but with you is patience.
I do not understand your ways, but you know the right way for me.’ [ii]

 

So whatever we might meet in the coming day, be like Maverick and engage. Be like Churchill and engage. Be like Bonhoeffer and engage. Ultimately, be like Christ and engage. Stand with Christ and engage. They could have chosen differently, refused the fight, and disengaged entirely, but they chose not to. As a result, we are confronted by their example.

de Vivre Selon Dieu


References:

[i] In this statement, I’m drawing from Karl Barth.

[ii] Bonhoeffer, D. BDW:8, Letters & Papers From Prison, Fortress Press (p.195)

Image: Iron Eagle,  Sidney J. Furie, Tri-Star Pictures, 1986 (Use of this image is considered to be within the boundaries of fair use, given that the image is applied here, for the use of teaching, and comment in a not-for-profit context, and it contains clear credit and promotion of the film as a whole.)

Blog Post 23rd May 2016

 

There’s a whole lotta smoke n’ mirrors commentary and appearances out there.

Most of which contains very little substance or decisive action. May we be set free from the cult of self. May our words, deeds and attitudes speak more about Jesus Christ; about the way to fullness of life, than the appearances or people pleasing that fuels likes, shares and comments; all things that ultimately only serve to excessively pad wallets and entertain egos.

As James puts it:

‘…the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.’ (James 1:25,ESV)

Allow no double talk.

                   Be real.

          Entertain no vain glory.

                   Buy real.

                  Confront all imitations.

                   Live real.

                           Apply gratitude and prayer.

                   Live well.


Image is my own.

Yours Sincerely

February 22, 2016 — Leave a comment

 

 

‘When politics is
            given over to the Devil,
with the diminishing authority
                              of any entity
that can be called “Church”
        in relation to the state,
                one ought not be surprised
that the Devil overtakes politics.’ [i]

 

Dear User 5

 

‘Finally be strong in the Lord
and in the strength of His might.
              Put on the whole armor of God,
that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
               For we do not wrestle
                                     against flesh and blood,
but
                                     against the rulers,
                                     against the authorities,
                                     against the cosmic powers
                                                     over this present darkness,
                                     against the spiritual forces
of evil in heavenly places.’ [ii]

 


Source:

[i] Elshtain, J.B 2008 Sovereignty: God, State & Self, Basic Books, (p.79)

[ii] Paul, Ephesians 6:10-12

[recommended reads]

A Slow Turn To Starboard

February 18, 2016 — 2 Comments

Clouds

The cannon

                         is just out of range.

Each thunderous estimate hits the waves,

            vibrating thuds pound through each nerve.

Rushing anticipation fills quick responses,

veins full of anxiety, function on the fumes of exhausted expectations,

to out run,

to out bid,

to out smart,

the great descending grey.

Too busy to breathe,

                       too

                       tired

                       to argue.

Answers to this loud inquisition are setting up to prove

the illegitimacy of their own walls of certainty.

Their models

                  never suggested a night

        of waves and squalls.

Unceasing in their quest,

         unanswered by the answer they want to hear.

Refusing to pull into the safe port long held sure by ancient seafarers,

  veiled reason is employed to ignore reason.

Its existence rejected,

                              recycled as intellectual fodder,

                              for far superior moderns.

Faith,

   that jarring inconvenience,

           is bound and silenced.

The self-evident truth still confronting their understanding is thrown overboard.

The old answer, once spoken authoritatively before them,

                                                                               sinks;

a metaphor for the shattering conclusions

soon to be witnessed from shore.

Their rest,

a slow turn to starboard,

yet,

the ship steams on, its Captains shouting

“there is no need for a safe port of call”.


RL2016

Unabridged Grace

October 28, 2014 — Leave a comment

Unabridged grace

Burning cathedrals; collapsing ‘isms

God’s reach surpasses our own

Fire Image  4

 ©RL2014

 

Be Like a Seed…

April 23, 2014 — 1 Comment

 RISE UP

IMG_20140423_074145

despite the cynical.

Header blogpost PD James TheChildrenofMen post

A post from last week quietly prepared the way for this review of P.D James’ novel ‘The Children of Men’ [link].

I finished reading it last night and have put pen to paper today in order to piece together some ruminations on the journey.

What I want to suggest is that ‘The Children of Men’ is a pre-emptive strike on the ideas of militant academia and certain elements therein which seek to aggressively engineer out the Judeo-Christian fabric of the civilization it upholds[i]. Unfortunately, to justify such a statement would require a much longer post and more time than I currently have at my disposable.

However, it would not be an overstatement if I asserted that James’ narrative clearly targets a certain trajectory within contemporary politics and society. I do not think it wrong, therefore, to propose that the book contains elements which make it a strong parable, relevant to our current context, that of post-modernity[ii].

A casual stroll back over some of my reading of the late Jean Bethke Elshtain, a feminist and expert in political science highlights both the political and social significance of the P.D James’ narrative.

Elshtain writes:

‘Consider a world in which there are no more births, as does PD James who depicts a forlorn globe. No children have been born since 1995, and now it is 2021. People are despondent, chagrined, and violent. “Western science had been our god,” writes the protagonist (Theo Faron), who “shares the disillusionment” of one whose god has died. Now overtaken by “universal negativism,” the human race lurches toward its certain demise…Children’s playgrounds are dismantled. People disown commitments and responsibilities to, and for, one another except for whatever serves some immediate purpose – what I want – by contrast to anything that is given. People thought that they had eradicated evil, Faron notes, and all churches in the 1990s moved from a “theology of sin and redemption” to a sentimental humanism; special status for the generation last-to-be born, deportation to a penal colony for the criminals and euthanasia for the elderly become the order of the day. He notes, we are diminished, we humans, if we live without knowledge of the past and without hope for the future’[iii]

The narrative of ‘The Children of Men’ discusses the relevance of Christianity and Christians after an apocalyptic event. The theological, political and social importance of the narrative is found in the necessary mire of dialogue, back story, action/inaction, ambition and interconnectedness of her characters.

The Christian theological concepts of hope, repentance, wrongs being righted and of true liberty held in tension with true restraint; the paradox of freedom experience in a life surrendered to God, all reach far beyond the key concerns of a fading species. Humanity has tragically turned to the pursuit of ‘’comfort, security and pleasure’’[iv] over-against human rights, faith and democratic freedom.

This is the journey of neo-Christian martyrdom; pilgrims of the way wrestling with faith, doubt, relevance, opposition and sin. People of the way separated from the superstitious ritual of the institution, long given over to the cult of reason and its popular over-emphasis on comfort, security and pleasure.

Consequently, the polarity between Christian hope in the sovereign God and nihilistic[v] self-sovereignty holds the intensity of this novel together.

Without it there would be little suspense, zero motion and almost no depth to the complexity of connections encountered between the characters.

This novel, in form and content, is largely a story about Western society; in particular it is a deep story about authentic Christianity vs. a docile religion, empty, self-sovereign and heretical. A story of relationships and true ecclesiology seeded outside the church-visible, outside bumper stickers, celebrity preachers and pop evangelism.

Its attraction for me is the articulation of frail human existence, organic Christianity, and the consequences of totalitarianism; of hope, brokenness, redemption and restoration. Even though the meta-scene wasn’t believable, the underlying context is.

I acknowledge that this review is not holistic.

In order to fully engage with the text inside and out would require spoilers. Therefore, I have been deliberately ambiguous in certain ways because I recommend that most Christians aim to read it for themselves.

Though any simple summary is difficult, if I had to summarise ‘The Children of Men’ in a sentence I would write: Like the crowd, and the persistence of the two blind men in Matthew 20:29, the journey from helplessness to hopefulness begins at the feet of Jesus.


[i] (or more properly the Holy Spirit breathing through Judeo-Christianity; see Jer.31:31-32)
[ii] This is confirmed by Jean Bethke Elshtain’s defence of the text as a useful window into what could be, even though “we are not there yet’’.
[iii] Elshtain, J.B 2008 Sovereignty God, State and Self Basic Books p.226 see also  Elshtain, J.B 2000 Who are We? Wm.B Eerdmans Publishing pp.122-123
[iv] I think “Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs” played a big part in grounding the reader into the mindset of the characters in the text. These are aspects of society presented appear to be subtly reinforced by P.D James to ensure the readers ability to fully connect with the context, circumstances and psychology of her key characters.
[v] I recommend Elshtain’s discussion in her book Sovereignty, chapter 11