Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

Ronnie McBrayer

ralston“If your hand causes you to sin,” Jesus said, “cut it off and throw it away.” That’s a pretty tough surgical intervention if you ask me, and he doesn’t stop there. He goes on to name other body parts as well. “Cut off your foot. Gouge out your eye.” He just can’t be happy with a single loss of limb. Yes, we could debate for the next few decades how literal or metaphorical Jesus was being. Such a debate would serve to only distract us from putting into practice the spirit of what he said. No, I don’t think Jesus was endorsing personal dismemberment. Rather, he was emphasizing, in rather dramatic fashion, the need for life-saving, future-salvaging initiative.

Better to lose an arm than lose your whole life. Better to throw away something you consider incredibly valuable, than to throw away your future. So it seems best to accept Jesus’ words…

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Thinking About Death

Unshakable Hope

This is my first post with my new eye-tracking computer. This computer is a real blessing; it feels like I’m making a fresh start, like I’ve been given a new lease on life. How ironic it is that I felt that this post should be about death.

When I was a kid, I had a friend I’ll call “Bubba.” (There were no kids called Bubba where I grew up so I figure that’s a safe name to go with). Bubba was a high-maintenance friend that never called before coming over and always seemed to show up at my house when I was in the middle of doing something important, like watching Gilligan’s Island. He was hyper and never stopped jabbering on about stuff I wasn’t the least bit interested in. No matter how disinterested I acted, he would stay for hours and would even invite himself to dinner. To my immature and…

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An exchange on purpose from one of William Lane Craig’s early debates

Why existence?

WINTERY KNIGHT

The full transcript of this 1991 debate is here on the Reasonable Faith site. Keep in mind that this is young William Lane Craig  against old, experienced Kai Nielsen.

Nevertheless, here is an exchange I wanted to highlight.

William Lane Craig:

The chief purpose of life is not happiness per se, but the knowledge of God. One reason the problem of evil seems so puzzling is that we tend to think that the goal of human life is happiness in this world. But on the Christian view this is false. Man’s end is not happiness as such, but the knowledge of God–which in the end will bring true and everlasting human fulfillment. Many evils occur in life which seem utterly pointless with respect to producing human happiness, but they may not be unjustified with respect to producing the knowledge of God. Innocent human suffering provides an occasion for…

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What We Carry

We all carry something, sometimes it feels like we will be crushed under the weight.
Words of hope here…

Ronnie McBrayer

snowAccumulate. It’s a dangerous little word that is employed to describe gently falling snow; the harmless growth of lint on the top bookshelf; or the inevitable gathering of ragged boxes, rusty tools, kits and caboodles found inside our garages. But those things that slowly accumulate can become merciless blizzards, a horde of cascading dust bunnies, and a backlog of space-stealing, flea market junk. Indeed, accumulate is a dangerous word.

What the Bible calls “trials and tribulations” accumulate too. Gradually, imperceptibly at first, the flakes fall silently down. A setback here. A disappointment there. A protracted illness. A wayward child. Deep, wordless pain. Anxiety about tomorrow. Without a sound, the weariness of life gathers until one day a look out the window reveals drifts the size of sand dunes crushing against the soul.

And sometimes it’s not the accumulation of various difficulties that grows so heavy; it’s the accumulation of time…

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Is there a “Defense” for the “Terror Texts” of Joshua?

Is there a “Defense” for the “Terror Texts” of Joshua?

Atheism specifically (and culture generally) seeks to incite scorn against the biblical narrative via the commands, especially in the book of Joshua, to exterminate the inhabitants of the promised land.

How do we answer this? Is there a defense we can utilize that doesn’t on the one hand sentimentalize, or on the other, sanction “Jihad”?

Michael Horton is sensitive to the layered, more dimensional approach to answering this concern. His appreciation of the covenantal, progressively revealed and Christocentric nature of the biblical narrative is crucial, and in my opinion, accurate.

The shallow evangelical, Dispensational and neo-Zionist approach is nearly as intolerable as is Islam in an effort to seriously and satisfactorily address the issue.

Safe Space is Sacred Space

I’ve been doing “church” a long, long time. I’m so privileged, humbled and blessed to report that after being everywhere on the map, in terms of “church practice” I’ve found something of real, living “sanctuary” in my present church home, Vineyard Community Church – Cincinnati, OH. I know Ronnie also enjoys the same (as he writes of here) at his home “sanctuary”, A Simple Faith Church, in Santa Rosa Beach, FL.

I praise God for these “safe places”, where broken, wounded, but genuine believers are practicing love, acceptance, and it’s inevitable handmaiden, the special presence of Jesus, the very epitome of love. In such cherished but unfortunately rare spots, people from every spectrum of life’s oft-tragic story are being richly bathed in the communication of the Father’s great heart of undying, unconditional, inexpressible, unsearchable love.

Ronnie McBrayer

safespaceWhile I am no died in the wool traditionalist, not by a long shot, I sometimes have a bit of a problem with the words we now use to describe the places we gather together as the church. They are called “worship centers” or “multi-purpose buildings” or “auditoriums.” This is unfortunate. I much prefer the word used by our grandparents: Sanctuary.

Anywhere the church gathers, in a storefront, a gymnasium, an auditorium, or a thousand-year-old cathedral, that place should be a sanctuary. It should be a safe place, a place where people are welcomed into a better way to live and made to feel at home.

This welcome is far more substantial than saying “hello,” shaking hands, or sharing coffee and doughnuts in the fellowship hall (another questionable description of a church building). Maybe English Bible translator and martyr William Tyndale got closer to the mark when with his “plowboy”…

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Break the Kettles

“To forgive is to give up all hope for a better past.”

Ronnie McBrayer

kettlesOne of the more indispensable words of instruction I have ever received came from Dr. Fred Luskin who was head of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project. He said, “To forgive is to give up all hope for a better past.” According to Luskin, what keeps people frozen solid with the regrets and shame of yesteryear is the lingering optimism that they might go back and change it.

Forget that, Dr. Luskin says – not the past – but the prospects of adjusting anything that is now in the rearview mirror. The Apostle Paul said something similar in the New Testament. He made peace with his past and his past self (the self is the hardest person in the world with whom to make peace) with this formula: “Forgetting the past and I press on toward what is ahead.”

Can we really forget the past? No. Painful memories, bad choices we…

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