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The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Risk)

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2022 in Calvin & Hobbes

 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings Your Lost Friend Doesn’t Have . . . And What You Can Do About It! (Part 19)

If your lost friend were to ask you, “What’s the best part about being a follower of Jesus?”, what would you say? Of course, salvation would be the first answer most of us would give. But what might be the second or third matter you would state? What are some of the other blessings you enjoy which your unsaved friend doesn’t have? Yet.

We’ve already seen a number of benefits of being a Christian, but one that perhaps doesn’t occur to a lot of us is that of being able to take risks for the kingdom of God. For that reason, I don’t believe my unsaved friends —

19. THEY DON’T HAVE A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE ON RISK!

Life is risky, isn’t it? We’re not to live foolishly, but the very idea of living a totally risk-free life is impossible. At any moment in our lives we might become the victim of a crime, be overcome by an unexpected disease or disability, or be treated unkindly by our godless culture. These outside forces often pose great and unavoidable risks to us.

But can we put ourselves at risk? Should we? In his book Risk Is Right, Pastor John Piper makes the very critical point that it is better to lose your life than to waste it! What are the risks that a believer is free to make? Here are a few that occur to me: Sharing the gospel with the possibility of being rejected by one’s friends. Serving the Lord in far-flung places in the world where people eat what people were never intended to eat! Standing for truth when such a stance will lose one a promotion or even get one sued! Being faithful in one’s marriage even when one’s spouse has bailed out of their marriage vows. These are worthwhile risks that the unbeliever knows nothing about.

People in the Bible were constantly at risk. The Psalmist David frequently cries out to the Lord to save him from those who want him dead. The early Christians laid down their lives for the gospel — and thought such was a privilege! In Scripture we read of “men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”(Acts15:26). The Apostle Paul refers to Priscilla and Aquila, “my co-workers in Christ Jesus [who] risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.” (Rom. 16:3-4). In Philippians 2 Paul speaks about his fellow laborer Epaphroditus who “longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill . . . and almost died. But God had mercy on him . . . 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.”

We may pray like the Psalmist in Psalm 16, “Keep me safe, my God,
 for in you I take refuge” (v. 1). It’s not wrong to ask God to keep us safe, but not risk-free! We believers are blessed with knowing that this life is not the only one that is, that we might well lose our lives for the gospel, and that such a sacrifice will be well worth it. The unbeliever does not have this “blessing.”

So, how do I pray for my unsaved friend? Well, where might you or I be a bit risky in our witness for Christ? I need to show by my choices that my highest priority in life is not the preservation of my physical existence, but the honoring and serving of my Savior. So praying for oneself for courage might be a good start. (to be continued)

 

 

 
 

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The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Knowledge)

In his twisted way, Calvin defends being anti-knowledge! Fascinating that the Bible never condemns knowledge, although it does warn that “knowledge puffs up” (I Cor. 13). Many issues in life ARE clear and simple. And the knowledge that we are given in knowing the Lord ought to lead us to godly decisions and (sometimes) risky actions!

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2020 in knowledge

 

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Risk and the Cause of God (A John Piper Sermon)

What a great challenge to us to risk our lives for the cause of Christ and not waste our lives! After listening to this sermon, you might want to read Piper’s book Risk Is Right.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2020 in risk

 

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How Should I Pray for . . . Others? (A Study of Colossians 1:9-14) Part 9

When I think of endurance, I immediately think of the word IdidarodThis annual long-distance dog race is run in early March entirely in the state of Alaska.  Mushers and a team of 16 dogs cover the distance in 8-15 days or more through blizzards in sometimes whiteout conditions.  One thousand and forty-nine miles!

Talk about endurance!  And for the musher too!  We’ve been thinking about Paul’s prayer for the Colossian believers in Colossians 1. We’ve seen his strategic commitment to pray for them in 1:9 and then began noticing the specific content of his prayer in verses 9-12. His first request for them was that they would be filled with a knowledge of God’s will (v. 9). His second request was that they would live a life worthy of the Lord (v. 10). His third request was that they would bear fruit in every good work (v. 10). He brings a fourth request before the Lord and it is that they would grow in the knowledge of God (v. 10).  His fifth request is that they would get strong in living out the Christian life (v. 11). 

This morning let’s notice that he prays that they would —

F. Endure When Life Gets Rough (v. 11)

Paul’s specific request is that “you may have great endurance and patience.”  Great endurance.  Would anyone say that about my Christian life?  Maybe a measure of endurance, but great endurance?

If I am going to pray for other believers like the Apostle Paul did, I need to ask God to give them great endurance.  What would that look like?  Several circumstances come to my mind:

1. This believer is consistent in spending significant time in God’s Word.
2. This brother or sister is seeking to use their spiritual gifts to serve the Body of Christ.
3. This Christian is not crushed when life doesn’t go his or her way.
4. This saint longs to know the Lord better and shows it in their priorities and daily choices.
5. This follower of Jesus isn’t afraid to take some RISKS for the kingdom of God.

I’ve found John Piper’s little book helpful in this area of endurance and risk.  Piper writes:

For whom are you praying that they would have “great endurance” as they take risks for the Lord?  [I just prayed that prayer for someone specific.  Your turn] (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2018 in praying for others

 

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Friends Don’t Let Friends . . . Die! (A Study of John 11) Part 6

My crisis does not establish, does not create, His agenda. We have seen that Mary and Martha and Lazarus have a real need: Lazarus is sick. Seriously ill. And they need Jesus to come and heal him.

But Jesus doesn’t do what they want Him to. He stays where He was two more days (v. 6). Let’s notice what happens next . . .

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

After those “two more days” Jesus says, “Let’s go back to Judea.” (v. 7). The disciples remember this was where the Jews tried to stone Jesus. So this action makes no sense (to them).

Jesus’ response seems odd: “Are there not twelve hours of daylight?” He then talks about how people don’t stumble in the daylight, but at night when they have no light.

Whatever does He mean? At the least, He is indicating that, regardless of the risk, Jesus must do the works of the Father while it is day.

But what work is He going to Judea to do? He is going to raise His friend Lazarus from the dead, a death He facilitated by not going to Lazarus’ rescue!  As we will see, resurrection is better than rescue (to be continued)

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2017 in John 11

 

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Life’s Big Risk (Lacoste commercial)

I never thought smooching could be so dangerous!  This is an ad for Lacoste clothing, yet the guy is shirtless.

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Your opinion of this commercial?

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2014 in romance

 

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A THEOLOGY OF RISK (seminary student paper)

Friends:

As I’ve mentioned, I am teaching a course this semester called “Theological Methods and Issues.”  From time to time I will publish some of my students’ papers.

Here’s a recent one on “A Theology of Risk.”FirefoxScreenSnapz600  The student has asked to remain anonymous. (please click on the title):
A THEOLOGY OF RISK

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2014 in a theology of risk

 

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A THEOLOGY OF RISK (Part 3)

Several years ago I was enjoying a semester’s sabbatical, a time the university gave me to do research and ministry, with no teaching responsibilities.  I had a number of writing projects I was working on, as well as an increasingly long “honey-do” list from my wife Linda.

I remember that morning as clear as a bell.  Linda woke up at about 5 am and went into the sunroom to have her devotions.  I got up at 5:30 am to do the same.  “Honey, have you seen my CIU laptop?”, I asked her.  “No, didn’t you leave it in the living room last night?”, she replied.  I looked in the living room and my stomach fell.  “Where’s MY laptop?”, Linda asked.  She then came into the kitchen and immediately saw that her pocketbook had been ransacked and all her credit cards were missing.  We also noticed that a small digital camera had vanished from our living room coffee table.  “We’ve been robbed!”, I said.

Between 11 pm that last night and 5 am that early morning, thieves came in our back patio door which we had left unlocked for friends a few days previous.  They had stolen both our laptops, Linda’s credit cards, and that small camera.  They were only 10 feet away from our open bedroom door.  Linda is a light sleeper and didn’t wake up.  I’m glad I didn’t wake up, because I would have probably stumbled out of bed, confronted the thieves, and gotten myself — and maybe my wife — killed!   The police never found the home invaders; we never got our stuff back.  I guess they considered it “worth the risk” to enter a home where they knew the couple was sleeping.

People take risks all the time.  There are foolish risks (like living your life without a faith relationship with Jesus Christ), but there are also godly risks (like giving one’s life for another).  We read in the book of Acts that the early Christians were “Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 15:26).

In our comfort-addicted, risk-averse culture, are we “hazarding” our lives for the sake of the Good News about Jesus Christ?  As pastor Steve Brown says, “When I witness, I’m afraid of what people will think of me, and of what people will think of Jesus.  But mostly I’m afraid of what people will think of me.”

My student (whose paper I hope to publish on this blog shortly) directed our attention to the music video by Tim McGraw entitled “Live Like You Were Dyin’.”  Please take the time to watch that video and comment on our topic.

Questions:

1.  Are you and I in any way, shape, or fashion “hazarding” our lives for the sake of the gospel? Why or why not?

2.  What should you do differently today if you bought into the idea of living a risky life for Jesus Christ?

 
 

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A THEOLOGY OF RISK (PART 2)

The Flying Wallendas is the name of a circus act and daredevil stunt performers, most known for performing highwire acts without a safety net. They were first known as The Great Wallendas, but the current name was coined by the press in the 40s and has stayed since. Karl Wallenda was born in Magdeburg, Germany in 1905 to an old circus family, and began performing at the age of 6. While still in his teens he answered an ad for a hand balancer with courage. His employer, Louis Weitzman, taught him the trade. In 1922, Karl put together his own act with his brother Herman, Joseph Geiger, and a teenage girl, Helen Kreis, who eventually became his wife.

The act toured Europe for several years, performing some amazing stunts. When John Ringling saw them perform in Cuba, he quickly hired them to perform at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. In 1928, they debuted at the Madison Square Garden. The act performed without a net (it had been lost in transit) and the crowd gave them a standing ovation.

It was at a performance in Akron, Ohio that the group all fell off the wire, but were unhurt. The next day, a reporter who witnessed the accident was quoted in the newspaper: “The Wallendas fell so gracefully that it seemed as if they were flying” — thus coining the name “The Flying Wallendas”.

In 1944, while the Wallendas were performing in Hartford, Connecticut, a fire broke out, killing over 168 people. None of the Wallendas were hurt.

In the following years, Karl developed some of the most amazing acts like the seven-person chair pyramid. They continued performing those acts until 1962. That year, while performing at the Shrine Circus at Detroit’s State Fair Coliseum, the front man on the wire faltered and the pyramid collapsed. Three men fell to the ground, killing Richard Faughnan, Wallenda’s son-in-law, and nephew Dieter Schepp. Karl injured his pelvis, and his adopted son, Mario, was paralyzed from the waist down.

Other tragedies include when Wallenda’s sister-in-law, Rietta, fell to her death in 1963, and his son-in-law Richard (“Chico”) Guzman was killed in 1972 after touching a live electric wire while holding part of the metal rigging. Nonetheless, Karl decided to go on. He repeated the pyramid act in 1963 and 1977. Karl continued performing with a smaller group, and doing solo acts.

On March 22, 1978, during a promotional walk in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Karl Wallenda fell from the wire and died. He was 73. Nik Wallenda completed the walk on June 4, 2011 with his mother, Delilah. (Wikipedia)

WHAT STRUCK ME FROM THIS ARTICLE:  In thinking about a THEOLOGY OF RISK, I was struck by the sentence “The act performed without a net (it had been lost in transit) and the crowd gave them a standing ovation.”  Walking on a high wire without a net might be praiseworthy to some, but I find it to be not only tempting fate, but tempting God!

Philippe Petit (French pronunciation: [filip pəti]; born 13 August 1949) is a French high-wire artist who gained fame for his high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, New York, on 7 August 1974. For his feat (that he referred to as “le coup”), he used a 450-pound (200-kilogram) cable and a custom-made 26-foot (8-metre) long, 55-pound (25-kilogram) balancing pole.

The movie “Man on a Wire” chronicles Petit’s 1974 walk between the Twin Towers. The reenactment is quite fascinating, but there is a bedroom scene of Petit’s sexual encounter with, I believe, a total stranger after the event, to celebrate his success.  [I would have dropped to my knees, thanking God for not letting me fall to my death].

Here is a 4 1/2 minute talk by Petit on his career as a high-wire artist.

What struck me particularly was his statement:  “IF YOU ARE NOT LIVING ON THE EDGE, YOU ARE TAKING UP TOO MUCH SPACE!” (to be continued)

Questions:

1.  If you could talk to Petit about the gospel, what would you say to him?

2.  How can you and I know if we are “taking up too much space”?

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2012 in CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

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