September 16, 2013

Lines (15) The final chapter

Continuing notes from "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction"
***we made it!***

Chapter 16   Blessing   Psalm 134

pg 184  "In Psalm 120, the first of the Psalms of Ascents, we saw the theme of repentance developed.  The word in Hebrew is teshubah, a turning away from the world and a turning toward God; the initial move in a life-goal set on God.  It was addressed to the person at the crossroads, inviting each of us to make the decision to set out on the way of faith.  Each of the psalms that followed has described a part of what takes place along this pilgrim way among the people who have turned to God and follow him in Christ.  We have discovered in these psalms beautiful lines, piercing insights, dazzling truths, stimulating words.  We have found that the world in which these psalms are sung is a world of adventure and challenge, of ardor and meaning.  We have realized that while there are certainly difficulties in the way of faith, it cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be called dull.  It requires everything that is in us; it enlists all our desires and abilities; it gathers our total existence into its songs.  But when we get to where we are going, what then?"

pg 185  God shares himself with us - he gets personally involved - generously - graciously.
God stands - foundational & dependable
God stoops - he meets us where we are - we can't get ourselves cleaned up enough to approach him - so he comes to us - this is a demonstration of grace!
God stays - he sticks with us, sharing his life with us in grace & peace

pg 186 Psalm 134 features an "invitational command"  (I like that wording!)  "Come, Bless the LORD..."

pg 187  "Bless the Lord.  Do that for which you were created and redeemeds; life your voices in gratitude; enter into the community of praise and prayer that anticipates the final consummation of faith in heaven. Bless the Lord."

pg 189  "Feelings don't run the show.  There is a reality deeper than our feelings.  Live by that."
pg 190  Luke 15:7 Jesus speaks of the joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, not relief, not surprise - joy!
pg 191-192  The Westminster Shorter Catechism's 1st question -
"What is the chief end of man?"  - this asks us what is the final purpose, the main thing, why are we here?  The answer is "To glorify God and enjoy him forever."  Glorify.  Enjoy.
This book has journeyed through these passages looking at things involved in Christian discipleship and finally arrives at this point - Bless the Lord.  Glorify & Enjoy God in all things.
"Grace and gratitude belong together...(snip) We are so created and so redeemed that we are capable of enjoying him.  All the movements of discipleship arrive at a place where joy is experienced.  Every step of ascent toward God develops the capacity to enjoy."
"Best of all, we don't have to wait until we get to the end of the road before we enjoy what is at the end of the road."

Some final thoughts:  This is the only book I have read by this author and I have heard some criticism of his total theology from some people that I respect.  As I am not God - I have no way of knowing the heart of another person and would not presume to pass judgement on his motives/ideas/etc.  I don't think I found anything glaringly inconsistent with my own beliefs in this book generally speaking.  (I suppose that sounds wishy-washy, but honest at this point as I can't remember every word I read in detail).
I found much instructive and helpful here - I love the visual of life as a journey upwards ( title!)  I pretty much always consider myself on a journey, following Christ and learning as I travel.  This book gave me pause to consider some things I hadn't previously and allowed me to ponder the long journey that discipleship really is.

Blessings on the journey,