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Posted on 12. Feb, 2011 by Tim Stoner.
A Walk to Remember is a heartbreakingly romantic book. In it the protagonist, now in his late 50’s, remembers a walk that he has never been able to forget. In my fundamentalist tradition the walk we were never to forget was that one we took during the “altar call.” It would serve as the reminder of the iron-clad guarantee of our eternal security. However, Hebrews disabuses us of all notions that our confidence is in a brief stroll in the past. Instead the picture is that of a grueling race in which victory is not at all certain. There is great danger of falling short, falling away, or falling down. Thanks to a sermon by David Platt on the Rich Man and Lazarus, I am wondering whether I am in danger of doing all three.
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 19. Oct, 2010 by Tim Stoner.
Last Day: It is the end of the tour and there is one interchange of the hundreds that sticks with me. It occurred in Detroit when a Conservative Jewish Rabbi turned to Sami Awad, a Palestinian Christian, and said: “I respect everything you say. I look at you and I know that with you I have a partner.” A Jewish Rabbi declaring his unqualified support for what an evangelical Christian is saying. Is Sami showing us a new apologetic? Demonstrate the Gospel before you proclaim it. Seems like that is what Jesus did–heal, deliver and then speak. Maybe what we need to pray for courage to love, and power to heal, and then the words to speak.
Posted on 11. Oct, 2010 by Tim Stoner.
Day Eight: “[It is] a sight which will remain with me for the rest of my life – with the frigate in the background, two gunboats, two landing craft and four high powered ribs spread out in a semi-circle speeding towards us. . . . ” With these words we find out what has become of Yonatan Shapira (a subject of the doumentary) on the catamaran trying to bring humanitarian aid past the Gaza blockade. After boarding the Irene, “The senior officer . . . placed a Tazer gun in contact with his clothing and fired it directly into his heart. Yonatan let out a dreadful scream and the force of the Tazer caused him to lose control of his muscles.” Thus begins the second week of our nonviolence tour.
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.
Posted on 06. Jan, 2010 by Tim Stoner.
The most offensive stance you can take today is to believe that you are a part of a spiritually militant band of warriors. Many today believe that all of that noisy, sweaty, battle rhetoric was brought to a sudden halt by the violence of the cross. This view interprets the death of Jesus as this massive back fire that burned off everything that fueled spiritual conflict. Any residual warfare rhetoric that emphasizes dueling antagonists is antiquated or destructive. The problem? That is precisely how Jesus, the apostles and church fathers (and mothers) taught us to talk.
Posted on 25. Oct, 2009 by Tim Stoner.
Andras Visky, Hungary’s leading playwright, admits readily that he does struggle with the (seeming) absence of God. After all, that was the main theme of his play Juliet: A Dialogue About Love, which I went to see with my wife and son, Jonathan. He does not argue the point with his Eastern European, atheist, artiste friends: “He is absent”, he concurs. If you have lived through the Holocaust and its aftermath in Stalin’s Gulag, you don’t argue, you concede. He went on to describe our current cultural reality as being like DaVinci’s The Lord’s Supper with the central figure erased. Then he said something startling: “The goal of [my] art is to call God back. It is an attempt to try and force him to return”.
Posted on 05. Jul, 2009 by Tim Stoner.
There are certains Psalms called the Imprecatory Psalms because they are filled with prayers of curses on wicked oppressors. I am tempted to run as far as I can from them. I wish they weren’t included in the Bible. They are so utterly Medieval and Inquisitorial. But it is their intolerable harshness that arrests me and drags me back. And it makes me wonder whether I am the one in need of change not the Psalms.
Posted on 29. Jun, 2009 by Tim Stoner.
This past week two popular icons died, Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett. Two newspaper pictures of them prompted this rumination on death. In both there is death even while there is life. Michael’s face over the years became more a mask than a face. And it bore uncanny resemblance to a skull. Farrah’s picture shows a once-lovely woman with a taut semi-smile and eyes that are not smiling at all. There is no emotion, no sparkle, there is this bleak sorrow, and a terrible emptiness.
Posted on 17. Jun, 2009 by Tim Stoner.
The bottom line is not despair or dutiful struggle, or even battle against the powers–it is joy. And despite the idolatrous reduction of life to sex or death and, most currently, ironic despair, there is great ground for hope for as Peter Kreeft observes “decadently apocalyptic ages elicit saints. Suffering elicits courage, compassion, heroism, and martyrdom.”