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Tag: perseverance

The Ministry of Stability

Not to ignore the depraved state of our political discourse, this painting of Nero’s Torches reminds us that the Church went forward even under that criminally insane emperor, despite his martyrdom of the Church’s greatest leaders Peter and Paul. As our culture-Protestants blow about with every wind of doctrine, breathlessly pursuing a world that passes away, that despises them all the more through every accommodation, I admire the steadiness of the Roman Church that continues through the centuries while nations rise and fall. “Better to be a Roman Catholic than one of our Neo-Protestants.” (Barth) At least they believe something definite. Without an anchor in the eternal, we cannot withstand the battering of wind, waves, and current. “The whole Church…

Our Progress Under the Sun

  “In short, everywhere there is nothing but misfortune: outside they persecute the word; among us they despise and neglect it; pastors almost die of hunger and receive no other reward for their godly labors than ingratitude and hatred. Where is the prosperity here? Certainly only in the spirit. Therefore rouse yourself. Do not give in to evils, but go forth more boldly against them. Hold on. Do not be disheartened either by contempt or ingratitude within or by agitation and raging without. But think as follows: ‘When I am weak, I am strongest (2 Corinthians 12:10); when I am suppressed, I rise up, as a palm rises under its burden.’ … when we are closest to despair, that hope rises the…

Hull it Out

In light of the Supreme Court’s decision establishing gay “marriage”– I remain mindful of Wolfhart Pannenberg’s response to my question 23 years ago, “What’s a Christian minister to do in a situation where almost no one agrees that Jesus is the Truth?” With fist raised, “Resist! Resist! Resist! Resist! Resist!” was his answer. I get tired, but that is still the right answer. The Church has always gone forward in the midst of storms and temptations. Why should our day be any different? “Hull it out.” “It is well with us, if we can ride out a storm at anchor; that is, lie still and expect, and surrender ourselves to God, and anchor in that confidence, till the storm blow over.…

Died Still Climbing

The Christian story is not one watershed experience (or two for Wesleyans) (or three for some Pentecostals) followed by coasting downhill to the grave. Father Angelus Shaughnessy tells a story of the monks (inventors of the St. Bernard rescue dog) who guard the dangerous St. Bernard Pass through the Alps between Italy and Switzerland. The monks once discovered a traveler frozen in the snow with one leg raised as though still climbing. With no other identification, the monks buried him, with the epitaph “died still climbing.” Often I hear this term of dismissal applied to churches, “it was all old people,” as though old people are useless and expendable. (The mentality that terminates unwanted life in the womb, should be…

“Make your home in the land and be secure…” (Psalm 37:3)

Author Wendell Berry writes about the difference between “movers and stickers”. The challenges of pioneering pale compared to homesteading in the same way that starting something is always easier than seeing something through. Anybody could stake a claim out west. It took grit to hold on long enough, and make enough improvements, to satisfy the homestead law and keep it. The cowboy life of big ranches and open range was always more romantic, but according to that former-cowboy-turned-president, Teddy Roosevelt, the homesteaders won the West. He says, “… the homesteaders, the permanent settlers, the men who took up each his own farm on which he lived and brought up his family, these represented from the National standpoint the most desirable…