Archive for 'Life'
Posted on 24. Mar, 2011 by Tim Stoner.
Recently, a thoughtful young man asked a question that jarred me. This was how the question was posed: “What’s so special about the moment of death that it suddenly cuts off the availability of God’s grace?” I had no good anwer until I happened to read through the story of the encounter between Jesus and a demonized Jewish synagogue attendee. What he screams at Jesus wipes off any ironic, postmodern smirk and reveals a lot about the irrevocable line between life and death.
Posted on 19. Mar, 2011 by Tim Stoner.
Something has been steadily seeping out of our discourse over several decades–the gripping awareness of God’s majesty. It is in this generation that the resultant lightness of God’s being is becoming impossible to ignore. There was a time when men and women lived in a world drenched with God, they blazed with a white-hot devotion. As I read Love Wins I was compelled to pick up a book by such a man: Knowledge of the Holy. It shows us why where there is no doxology Hell makes no sense.
Posted on 08. Dec, 2010 by Tim Stoner.
“The insolent man ruthlessly defaces all the beauty of charity, overwhelms his neighbor with innumerable evils, and stirs up life-long hatreds–driving off the peace which God so desires and giving the devil strategic beach heads from which to effectively attack.” St. Chrysostom is reminding us of the crushing power of the tongue. But it can also restore hope and break the back of despair. This is the immense power of blessing. Presents are forgotten, gifts lose their luster, but a gentle, life-giving word of affirmation can seal a destiny and heal a hundred wounds. It can light a flame that can give light and warmth to thousands.
Posted on 01. Dec, 2010 by Tim Stoner.
Let’s be honest. All of us yearn to be powerful, effective, significant and successful. (Being well compensated doesn’t hurt either.) The assurance that God wants me to be free from serious suffering and heart-breaking disappointment is delicious. It is intoxicating for people raised under the national mythology of inevitable progress and the Constitutional right to happiness. But what to do when you find out the promises are not being kept? Who do you blame when the One you believed issued the guarantees seems to be intentionally dishonoring each one?
Posted on 03. Sep, 2010 by Tim Stoner.
For our 30th anniversay Patty and I received an invitation from Leonard Sweet to spend five days on Orcas Island on the Puget Sound. Across the still waters are a smattering of the San Juan islands, while Vancouver Island and snow covered peaks can be seen through a bluish mist. We saw bald eagles, a family of sea otters, a sea lion on a rocky outcropping and orcas sporting 100 yards away. But, it was not so much what we saw but what we heard that impacted us. It was the seameless, liquous sounds of silence. A recipe for the healing of the battered and badgered–the plugged-in and worn down. Kierkagaard would approve.
Posted on 27. Jun, 2010 by Tim Stoner.
But what if the film (or painting or novel) you are working on never mentions Jesus, or if it does, it is as an expletive? What if it does not proclaim the Gospel? What if it depicts evil straightforwardly and has barely a glimmer of hope? Why waste your time? Why not simply preach a sermon?
The disciples wondered the same thing. They got frustrated at all the confusing and oblique parables Jesus told. Like conservative Christians today, they wanted to know, why bother? So Jesus had to give them a lesson on mystery, on what to aim for if you want to impact a jaded or suspicious (i.e, a postmodern) audience. And, in doing so gave us an apologetic for art.
Posted on 18. May, 2010 by Tim Stoner.
Desiring the Kingdom was authored by James K. A. Smith, a philosopny professor at Calvin College and is one of the 10 most influential books I have read. It shines unrelenting light upon the deficits of the traditional perspective on Christian formation-discipleship. Its thesis can be summarized simply: Christians have been wrong for over 400 years in defining humans by placing the focus on the mind–we are thinking beings that are containers for ideas. He argues that being a disciple of Jesus is not primarily a matter of getting the right ideas and doctrines and beliefs into your head; rather, it is a matter of being the kind of person who loves rightly. We are first of all lovers not thinkers. And then he gets dangerous.
Posted on 17. Apr, 2010 by Tim Stoner.
With the barest flick of the wrist the gauzy veil covering Setara’s black hair slips back as she sings in front of the panel of judges and millions of Muslim viewers. It was a defiant assertion of independence from binding, dogmatic constraints. While the rebel, Son of Liberty in me raucously celebrated, that loyalist Tory in me was dismayed and repelled. I was conflicted. As if I were in a rocking boat careening on the foaming waves of personal liberty only to slide down into the quiet troughs of dutiful submission. And, oddly enough, I thought of Virgin Mary who had to navigate a storm of her own to become the mother of God.
Posted on 22. Feb, 2010 by Tim Stoner.
While I agree with the desire to increase the number of adoptions, what is distressing is the implication, in a blog I read recently, that because trans-racial adoptions may have some negatives, it would be better to let black, Christian families adopt black, orphan children. A question comes to mind, should the social sciences be allowed to dictate Christian ethics? What if anthropologists determined that Anglo missionaries have a destructive impact on primitive tribal cultures? Should that require a moratorium on white missionaries taking the Gospel to New Guinea? Obedience not race or sociology should control.
Posted on 08. Feb, 2010 by Tim Stoner.
“Please, don’t become social activists!!”
This is not what I expected to hear from a “left-wing,” anti-capitalist who helped launch the Christian social-activist movement in the early 80’s. Ron Sider, author of Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, had been asked to be the devotional speaker for a conference on Faith and International Development at a local Christian College. Those opening words riveted me but settled like a foreboding fog over the mostly young and zealous audience. But it was just a warm-up for an intolerable “heresy” of scandalous proportions.
Posted on 19. Jan, 2010 by Tim Stoner.
An employee of Compassion international was rescued after almost three days in the elevator shaft of the Hotel Montana. I was at that hotel 14 months ago. Had the earthquake hit when I was on the scenic balcony on my cell with my wife Patty, the last thing she would have heard would have been the cracking of cement, and perhaps a scream of terror as the balcony plunged down onto the barking dogs below. Though 100 lives have been accounted for 200 have not. But, what amazes me, despite the terrible losses, is the audacious hope of thousands that march clapping and singing out their joy and thanksgiving and confidence in a God they know still reigns.