Fake Sermon Illustrations

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I do get annoyed at preachers or Bible teachers who pull illustrations out of thin air for the spiritual points they are trying to make, or, if they have heard it from somewhere else, don’t bother to research and verify the accuracy of the illustration.

Here is an example:

A “right angle” (90 degrees) is right because it fits into the window or door frame. Becoming righteous is being reshaped to fit into God’s Kingdom …

In reality, a “right angle” is called “right” not because it fits into a window or door frame, but because it is derived from Latin “angulus rectus“, where “rectus” means upright, referring to the vertical perpendicular to a horizontal base line.

But a factual explanation of the origins of “right angle” would not have illustrated “fitting into God’s kingdom“, so he made something up.

The world already thinks we are foolish because of the cross; do we really have to confirm their poor opinion of us with such antics?


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A Lovely Story But Wrong Conclusions

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Here is a lovely story that has circulated on Facebook for a while. Unfortunately it ends with a few questionable conclusions.

“Good morning!” said a woman as she walked up to the man sitting on the ground.

The man slowly looked up.

This was a woman clearly accustomed to the finer things of life. Her coat was new. She looked like she had never missed a meal in her life.

His first thought was that she wanted to make fun of him, like so many others had done before. “Leave me alone!” he growled. To his amazement, the woman continued to stand there, smiling — her even white teeth displayed in dazzling rows. “Are you hungry?” she asked.

“No,” he answered sarcastically. “I’ve just come from dining with the president. Now go away.”

The woman’s smile became even broader. Suddenly the man felt a gentle hand under his arm. “What are you doing, lady?” he asked angrily. “I said to leave me alone.”

Just then a policeman came up. “Is there any problem, ma’am?” he asked..
“No problem here, officer,” the woman answered. “I’m just trying to get this man to his feet. Will you help me?” The officer scratched his head. “That’s old Jack. He’s been a fixture around here for a couple of years. What do you want with him?” “See that cafeteria over there?” she asked. “I’m going to get him something to eat and get him out of the cold for awhile.”

“Are you crazy, lady?” the homeless man resisted. “I don’t want to go in there!” Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up. “Let me go, officer. I didn’t do anything.” “This is a good deal for you, Jack,” the officer answered. “Don’t blow it.”

Finally, and with some difficulty, the woman and the police officer got Jack into the cafeteria and sat him at a table in a remote corner. It was the middle of the morning, so most of the breakfast crowd had already left and the lunch bunch had not yet arrived. The manager strode across the cafeteria and stood by the table. “What’s going on here, officer?” he asked. “What is all this, is this man in trouble?”

“This lady brought this man in here to be fed,” the policeman answered.
“Not in here!” the manager replied angrily. “Having a person like that here is bad for business.”

Old Jack smiled a toothless grin. “See, lady. I told you so. Now please let me go. I didn’t want to come here in the first place.”

The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled. “Sir, are you familiar with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?” “Of course I am,” the manager answered impatiently. “They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms.” “And do you make a good amount of money providing food at these weekly meetings?” “What business is that of yours?”

“I, sir, am Penelope Eddy, president and CEO of that company.” “Oh.” The woman smiled again. “I thought that might make a difference.” She glanced at the cop who was busy stifling a giggle. “Would you like to join us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?” “No thanks, ma’am,” the officer replied. “I’m on duty.” “Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?” “Yes, ma’am. That would be very nice.”

The cafeteria manager turned on his heel, “I’ll get your coffee for you right away, officer.” The officer watched him walk away. “You certainly put him in his place” he said. “That was not my intent. Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this.”

She sat down at the table across from her amazed dinner guest. She stared at him intently. “Jack, do you remember me?”

Old Jack searched her face with his old, rheumy eyes. “I think so — I mean you do look familiar.” “I’m a little older perhaps,” she said. “Maybe I’ve even filled out more than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very door, cold and hungry.”

“Ma’am?” the officer said questioningly. He couldn’t believe that such a magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry.

“I was just out of college,” the woman began. “I had come to the city looking for a job, but I couldn’t find anything. Finally I was down to my last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment. I walked the streets for days. It was February and I was cold and nearly starving. I saw this place and walked in on the off chance that I could get something to eat.”

Jack lit up with a smile. “Now I remember,” he said. “I was behind the serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat. I said that it was against company policy.”

“I know,” the woman continued. “Then you made me the biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go over to a corner table and enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into trouble. Then, when I looked over and saw you put the price of my food in the cash register, I knew then that everything would be all right.”

“So you started your own business?” Old Jack said.

“I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually I started my own business that, with the help of God, prospered.” She opened her purse and pulled out a business card. “When you are finished here, I want you to pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons. He’s the personnel director of my company. I’ll go talk to him now and I’m certain he’ll find something for you to do around the office.” She smiled. “I think he might even find the funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live until you get on your feet. If you ever need anything, my door is always open to you.”

There were tears in the old man’s eyes. “How can I ever thank you?” he said.

“Don’t thank me,” the woman answered. “To God goes the glory. Thank Jesus, He led me to you.”

Outside the cafeteria, the officer and the woman paused at the entrance before going their separate ways.

“Thank you for all your help, officer,” she said.
“On the contrary, Ms. Eddy,” he answered. “Thank you. I saw a miracle today, something that I will never forget. And thank you for the coffee.”

God is going to shift things around for you today and let things work in your favor. If you believe, send it. If you don’t believe, delete it.
God closes doors no man can open & God opens doors no man can close. If you need God to open some doors for you, send this on.

So much for the story. I am sure these sorts of things happen when people are motivated by gratitude and the love of Jesus. One even hears of non-Christians doing kind things like this, out of gratitude or simple human compassion.

But the conclusion, “God is going to shift things around for you today and let things work in your favor,” is very questionable, and it can lead to disappointment when people do acts of kindness, and as is very likely and is borne out by lots of experience, things do not start to work in their favor, if things do not turn around for them today.

As followers of Jesus we are called to act with compassion and kindness without expecting anything in return. We are called to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, not so that they will do likewise to us.

History is full of accounts of saintly people, well known for their kindness to those around them, only to end up in prison or die a horrible death, Jesus himself being a prime example of this.

Yes, we are promised a reward, but it may not be, most likely will not be, today or even in this life. Rather, we follow Christ and live out His commandment to love our neighbors in gratitude for His salvation, and in the hope that one day — probably not today — He will say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

And forwarding stories like this one on social media is not a magic “Open, Sesane!“ charm which will make God open doors for us. This sounds way too much like the chain letters of my childhood in the 1960s.

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Inerrant Bible, inerrant Bible Translations?

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In a recent Facebook-Post [1] someone claimed that none of the prominent Evangelical authors and teachers, such as Voddie Baucham, John MacArthur, Paul Washer, Alistair Begg, etc,, who claim to believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, are able or willing to point to any translation of the Bible, in any language and of any age, nor to any manuscripts in the original languages, which actually are that inerrant Bible.

He also claimed that the “Critical Text” of the Bible, which scholars have re-constructed from thousands of manuscript fragments in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek  as the closest approximation to the text of the original manuscripts (which have not survived), is “Vatican supervised”, as are all the current translations of the Bible which are based on it—whatever that means, other than being an attempt to discredit them.

I don’t know what exactly the poster’s agenda or message is (he might be a “King-James-Only[2] type), but his post reveals both ignorance of the nature of languages and translations, as well as a massive misunderstanding of the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture as it is understood by all serious scholars, whether they subscribe to it it or not:

Until the second half of the 20th century conservative Protestants[3] generally held to the doctrine of the Verbal, Plenary Inspiration of Scripture[4]. Then, in the wake of the fundamentalist–modernist controversy in the Presbyterian Church in the USA and the publication of a series of articles called The Fundamentals, re-iterating the traditional, conservative positions on a number of Christian doctrines. Fundamentalist came into use for those who held to these traditional beliefs. Because of the birth of the movement in a controversy, Fundamentalists tended to be pretty rigid and belligerent, and in the 1940s and 1950s some fundamentalist Christians tried to formulate their views in a more nuanced, irenic, and intellectually robust way; they came to be known as E.vangelicals. During the mid-twentieth century, in the face of continued challenges to traditional views on the historicity, reliabiity, and authority of the Bible, some Evangelicals felt the need to “fine tune” the doctrine of Scripture. The result was the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI) meeting held in Chicago in October 1978, and the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.

The Chicago Statement affirms the belief that the Bible, in its original manuscripts, is without error or contradiction in all matters it addresses, including matters of history, science, and theology. 

Just like the earlier doctrine the claim to inerrancy applies only to the original autographs, the original manuscripts written by the human authors themselves, which we don’t have. It applies to the thousands of manuscript fragments which we do have (comparatively many more than for any other text of antiquity) only to the extent that these are accurate and reliable copies of the original text.

The science or art of reconstructing the original test, or at least the best possible approximation of the original test, from the manuscript fragments we have as well from ancient translations such as the Septuagint[5], is called textual criticism; the resulting Hebrew and Aramaic (for the Old Testament) and Greek (for the New Testament) text is referred to as the Critical Text, and most contemporary translations, in English as well as other languages, are based on that Critical Text which reflects the consensus of the majority of scholars. The Critical Text is, of course, not completely static; if new manuscript fragments are found, or new historical artifacts are found which increase or knowledge of Ancient Near East culture, improvements can be made. Neither are translations of the text completely static, eben without any shift of conviction on the part of the translator(s): if there are textual improvements, or a few years of using a translation make clear that a certain phrase leads to misunderstandings, translations are revised. 

Which brings us to translations. Scripture itself does not even mention translations of the Scriptures into other language, thus anyone who professes belief in sola scriptura should not be making  dogmatic statements about the authority of any translation. Not only for this reason no serious Christian theologian, whether he subscribes to inerrancy or not, would claim either verbal inspiration and infallibility or inerrancy for a translation. Both doctrines only apply to the original autographs in the original languages; translations, like manuscripts in the original languages are infallible or inerrant only to the extent that they faithfully reproduce the original autographs. 

Regardless of how one characterizes the original manuscripts or their copies, anyone who claims infallibility or inerrancy for a translation ignores the inherent limitation of any translation which is due to the nature of languages. Since there is no one-to-one equivalence of either words or grammatical constructs between different languages, whether they share the overall culture (i.e. West European languages), or whether their cultures are separated by geography (i.e Europe and the Middle East) and by thousands of years.) Thus, all translation work involves judgment calls on the meaning of words and phrases, and of course these judgments reflect the convictions and biases of the translator.[6]

Given all this, how can we rely on the Bible or anything it says?

First, for the Christian, there is another old doctrine of the church: the belief that not only inspired Scripture, but also preserves it, in such a way that despite lost manuscripts, copyist’s errors and all the problems with translation, since God gave the Bible as revelation of everything we need for salvation and a life pleasing to Him, He has preserved it and still preserves it in such a way that we can know what He wants us to know.

Second, for the one who is not yet a Christian, confidence in the text of the Bible can be inspired by the fact that the text of the Bible is extremely will documented. For the New Testament, we have close to 6000 Greek manuscripts or manuscript fragments, including whole or partial copies of the New Testament books, dating from the 2nd to the 16th centuries. Also, there are numerous manuscripts or fragment of Latin other ancient translations that contain portions or whole books of the Bible. For the Old Testament or Hebrew Sciptures, the primary textual tradition is known as the Masoretic Text, which dates to the early Middle Ages, but it is based on even older textual traditions. The Hebrew Bible has been in continual use as the holy book of Judaism, and the reliability of the Jewish scribes in accurately preserving the text has been confirmed by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls between 1947 and 1956. All of this is far better documentary evidence than for any other ancient document. For the Christian believer this is, of course, evidence for the doctrine of the Preservation of Scripture.

When it comes to translations, with the exception of some clearly partisan translations such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation, all translations, both older and newer, theach the same Gospel. Yes, there are differences between translations, but they are really significant only if one wishes to base a doctrine or teaching on a single word in a single Bible verse—an absolute theological no-go. All the major doctrines of the Christian faith are based on broader evidence, and can be found in almost any translation of the Bible, including Justification by Faith in Roman Catholic and Orthodox Bibles.

Personally, I believe that the Bible is God’s revelation of himself in words, and thus the words are important, and I hold to the doctrine of verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible, which is infallible in what it teaches. However, not every detail in the Bible is part of what it teaches; thus slight differences in the narrative portions of the Bible which do not affect its teaching are of no concern to me.

There are those who believe that if the Bible is inspired it must be 100% correct down to the minutest detail, and that is how they interpret the doctrine of inerrancy. But this ignores the fact that God used human authors to write down His revelation, human authors who were not robots but retained their human personalities. Part of their humanness is varying recollections, and unless these variances would have corrupted the teaching, the revelation, God clearly did not see fit to prevent them That does not take away from the Bible’s reliability and infallibility, which only apply to what it teaches.


  1. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1567027963614699/permalink/3478211135829696/[]
  2. King James-Onlyism adherents believe that the KJV is the only accurate and reliable translation of the Bible. They argue that it was divinely inspired in its English translation and that other modern translations lack the same level of divine guidance. They argue that the KJV is not only divinely inspired but also perfectly preserved and free from any errors or mistakes. They believe that God has supernaturally safeguarded the accuracy of the KJV throughout history.)1 In part this is based on the belief that the Textus Receptus (Received Text), a Greek text based on the Greek New Testament produced by Erasmus of Rotterdam in 1516, is the only divinely inspired text of the New Testament, which is belied by Erasmus’ own characterization of his work. Consequently, KJV-Onlyists consider contemporary translations of the Bible to be corrupted to a greater or lesser degree.[]
  3. The terms evangelical and fundamentalist, as they are used today to describe certain groups or movements within conservative Protestantism, didn’t come into existence until the early (fundamentalism) or mid (evangelicalism) 20th century.[]
  4. Verbal, Plenary Inspiration: God guided the human authors in such a way that they wrote exactly what God intended them to write. This view emphasized that every word, not just the general ideas or concepts, was inspired. This inspiration is plenary, i.e. full: every part of Scripture was equally inspired by God, including historical narratives, poetry, prophecy, and doctrinal teachings. As such, Scripture is infallible, meaning it is incapable of teaching falsehood or error on matters to which it speak.

    This doctrine upholds the reliability and trustworthiness of the Bible for matters of faith and practice. Scripture is the ultimate authority for matters of faith and Christian living; it is the final standard by which all teachings and beliefs should be evaluated.[]

  5. The Septuagint, abbreviated as LXX from the Roman numeral 70, is a translation of the Old Testament into Greek, produced by Jewish exiles in Alexandria between 250 B.C. and 100 A.D.[]
  6. The problem of bias in a translation tends to be minimized for translations done by a reasonably broad committee, and more pronounced by translations done by individuals.[]
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Bible Translations

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In a recent Facebook conversation Chad Bird was asked to recommend a Bible translation. Here is his reply:

«For many years, I have been using the NASB (New American Standard Bible). It leans more toward the literal in translation, thus making it harder to read at times. A more readable translation is the ESV (English Standard Version), which is commonly used in many denominations. Every translation is imperfect, of course, because one can never bring 100% of a language into another language. But those two are the ones I use the most. If you are looking for an even more readable translation, you might check out the CSB (Christian Standard Bible).»

For what it’s worth, I fully endorse this recommendation. For an added perspective I would add the CJB (Complete Jewish Bible) to these three.

And as one who has done a lot translation work I would underline this sentence in Chad’s answer:

«Every translation is imperfect, of course, because one can never bring 100% of a language into another language.»

That is so important, yet so easily forgotten.

As for Bible translations I would warn against the currently popular Passion Translation comes to mind which is very much a paraphrase in the service of a specific, highly controversial theological perspective[1], and of course the Jehovah’s Witnesses New World Translation which is likewise biased in the service of a particular theological system.

In general, more mainstream paraphrases such as The Living Bible or The Message are o.k. and can be helpful as long as one does not lose sight of the fact that they are just that, a paraphrase rather than a translation.

  1. New Apostolic Reformation. I highly respect some of the proponents of this movement while considering others equally higly problematic.[]
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A Cancer in the Body of Christt

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The Roys Report writes about the arrest and charges against several present and former leaders of a Christian fraternity at several universities in Texas, for “continuous sexual abuse of a child.”

Some people call her a muckraker who craps into her own nest, but I believe that the investigative journalism of Julie Roys and her collaborators, as well as of others in the Catholic and Anglican context, is extremely important for the health of the church of Jesus Christ.

Situations like the ones described in this article are not harmful to the victims alone but are like cancerous growths in the Body of Christ: ignored and untreated they damage the health of the whole body.

A few years ago some Evangelicals looked almost gleefully at the Catholic Church when more and more cases of abuse and cover-up by clergy, all the way up to prominent Cardinals, came to light; but there have always been problematic free church groups like the extreme wing of the Exclusive Brethren[1]. A few years ago massive historic abuse situations were revealed in Protestant and Anglican schools in Germany, Canada, and Australia, and a year ago a series of investigative reports by some Texas newspapers uncovered not only a massive clergy abuse problem in churches of the Southern Baptist Convention but also an abject failure on the part of the denominational leadership to deal adequately and appropriately with this problem, all under the cover of “local church autonomy.”[2]

Today we know, not least through the work of Mrs. Roys and the Roys Report, that these cancerous growths flourish in all church traditions, including Pentecostal churches, the predominantly Charismatic independent churches, and even in the most prominent megachurches.[3] For much too long and much too often leaders in all traditions and denominations have looked the other way, have sometimes shown more empathy with the perpetrators than with the victims, and have worried more about the reputation of their respective institutions than about the well-being and safety of the flock entrusted to them.

I cannot tell to what extent this problem also exists in free churches in Germany and Austria; but statistics tell us that churches with a very conservative theology were men rule their families and pastors rule their churches, and dissent and criticism are discouraged, are particularly vulnerable and prone to both domestic abuse and violence as well as clergy abuse. And we do have such churches on the fringe of the Evangelical movement in the German-speaking countries. But even if everything were in order in our own circles and churches we cannot disclaim all responsibility: the church is, despite its sadly divided state and despite its geographic spread, one body, and “if one member suffers, all suffer together[4]), the whole Body suffers.

So it is high time for us to no longer look the other way but to intercede for these situations and for the victims, and where necessary, have the courage to speak up.

  1. particularly the Raven-Hale group in England, North America, and Australia[]
  2. Fortunately Southern Baptists have now begun, not without some internal opposition, to acknowledge the problem and to take measures to deal with it and prevent it in the future.[]
  3. I am not commenting here on the Eastern Churches (Orthodox and Uniate) because I have no information. But I don’t suppose that they are entirely free of this problem.[]
  4. 1 Corinthians 12:26 (ESV[]
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Emmanuël Nicolaïdes and the Trio Emmanuël

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In the late 1970s, while a student at the (now unfortunately defunct) European Bible Institute (EBI) in Lamorlaye, north of Paris, I came across an album by Trio Emmanuël, with lead singer Emmanuël Nicolaïdes, an alumnus of EBI. I never owned the album (it was part of the record collection at EBI’s small radio studio) and the compact cassette copy I had made for myself unfortunately got lost during one of our many moves, but the songs are so impressed on my mind that today, more than forty years later, I still remember most of the words. Some time ago, to my delight, I came across the songs from that album on YouTube.

Later Emmanuël lived in Canada, and while I never actually met him I briefly corresponded with him a few years ago. Two months ago I found out that he went home to glory about two years ago, after a long illness and Covid-related complications.

So, in memory of Emmanuël Nicolaïdes and Trio Emnanuël, here are the videos I found on YouTube.

Note: Unfortunately I don’t have the words, and my French is not good enough to do a satisfactory transciption, so if anyone out there can help with that, I would appreciate it.

Je chante pour Jésus

Je chante pour Jésus


Roc séculaire

Roc séculaire


Jésus vint

Jésus vint


Quand je contemple

Quand je contemple


Rends moi comme Toi

Rends moi comme Toi


Tu seras honoré

Tu seras honoré


Oh, Jésus m'aime

Oh, Jésus m'aime


Un jour dans ma memoire

Un jour dans ma memoire


Le Père admirable

Le Père admirable


Vers qui se tourner

Vers qui se tourner


Jusqu'à la fin

Jusqu'à la fin


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Judging But Not Being Judged?

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In the lectionary of the Lutheran churches in Austria and Germant the sermon text for today, Pentecost Sunday, is 1 Cor 2:12-16, where it says, among other things,

“But he that is spiritual judges everything but is himself judged by no one.”

Retired Pastor Detlef Korsen made this comment in his Pentecost sermon today:

You can brush this passage against the grain and the result is that spiritual people can judge anything and are not judged themselves. And immediately people who like to sit in judgment are drawn to this passage and say,

“Yes, I would like that too: that nobody can judge me, nobody can say anything about me; but I can say something about everything, and what I say about everything remains unchallenged, because I’m right!”

That is not how the Holy Spirit works. This is how the spirit of the world, disguised as the Spirit of God, works. So stay away from this attitude.

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Once more: Ascension

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Kenneth Tanner[1] writes:[2]

Imagine a human life born into the world the way we all are born into the world, coated in serum and blood, vulnerable to all that brings us harm, lain on a mother’s breast.

Imagine a human life born, like most humans, into a poor family with parents who sweat for their daily bread, a human life threatened from the start by homicidal mania.

Imagine a human life lived as a child in exile, in a land where they are strangers, where a different language is spoken, absent a community of trust and care.

Imagine that when Jesus comes home as a young boy to the village of his parents, people stare at him, and whisper “bastard.” Schoolboys taunt him, ask him if Mary knows his real father.

Imagine a mother with arms that console, with a voice that teaches him to love the Scriptures and to pray the Psalms. Imagine a human life that begins to see itself in the words read and the words prayed; imagine that the Word is so inscribed on this human’s body and mind and heart that the greatest teachers of his day hear in his voice the Wisdom that inspires the prophets, that gives harmony to the psalter.

Imagine a human life that gradually becomes aware that its life is somehow identical with the life that makes suns and galaxies, orchids and sequoias, eagles and panthers, that gives breath to all that flies and swims and crawls, a human that is One with the architect of atoms and cells, the kindler of stars, the molder of mountains.

The other humans, including his mom and stepdad are not quite sure what to make of his bewildering humility. He is always putting others first, always waiting on them and everyone in the smallest of ways without caring if anyone notices the kindness or him. At times they feel as though perhaps they ought to bow in reverence because his words and acts are so full of life and hope and healing.

Imagine a human life lived for decades in obscurity, where at the end of most days, muscles tired and achy, he shakes sawdust from his hair and rinses grime from his arms, and sets a table for the widowed vulnerable Virgin who brought him into the world, who taught him so much, and now has him alone to protect and provide for her.

Then one day this woman asks him to do for others what he has on occasion done for her—to make wine where there is no wine. And then there is a baptism, and a sojourn in the wilderness, and a transfiguration. The blind see, the lame walk, and the dead live again because his spit and voice and breath are not only human but divine.

Imagine a human that does not seek equality with God but is among all humans as servant. Imagine a human life that refuses the sword and tells us to love our enemies. Imagine a life that does human things divinely and divine things humanly.

Imagine that living this kind of human life leads the church of his time and the rulers of his moment to plot against him and to snuff out his way of becoming human, to shame anyone in the future from even trying to be human as God is human.

Imagine a human that forgives our entire species even as we reject and despise and murder God.

Imagine that when this human dies from our violence he does not stay dead but that in death and beyond it he stays human. He so rearranges the structures of death that they are now instead a portal to the life of God for everyone who dies with him.

Imagine a human life that journeys to hell with the dead and preaches as a dead man to those bound in chains; that as he speaks the fetters that held them there are broken by love.

Imagine that the human life I’ve just described in all the ways I have described it appears embodied again after death, freed from death, liberated from any threat that can limit his promises to us and to the world.

Now, imagine that this is the sort of human life that ascends to the right hand of God. Imagine that what it means to live this sort of human life and to die this sort of human death is to ascend—to become forever the measure of what it means to be God and what it means to be human, for this Son who is given to us descends to become human and ascends to remain human.

And despite all appearances to the contrary his way of being human, his way of humility, is now the way things are with the world, and now death has no power over his ascended life or ours.

His humility causes our humanity to ascend with him so that right now what is truest about you and me is that our lives are hidden with Christ in God, that we are seated in Christ next to the Father; that we are in him there, and that he is in us here, and that with him we are One with the Father by the Spirit.

This is but one facet of the great mystery of Ascension, that complex, neglected, beautiful, and consequential reality that Christians trust and that we celebrate today.

Have patience. In time, God is kind with us and will help us know this reality and to live this reality, right now and forever.

Image: The Ascension of Christ, Salvador Dali, 1958

  1. Kenneth Tanner is Pastor of the Anglican „Holy Redeemer“ church in Rochester Hills  Michigan.[]
  2. Original Facebook post is here.[]
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R. I. P. George Verwer

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R. I. P. George Verwer

This just in from Lawrence Tong, the international director of Operation Mobilisation:

“It is with great sadness that I share that our brother George Verwer (founder of Operation Mobilization) has left us for glory last night 14th April 2023 at 23:06 hrs. He died peacefully at his home with his wife Drena, daughter Christa and a good family friend Cathy Rendal by his side.”

George has been an important influence in my life: it was through the ministry he founded that 52 years ago I came to a personal faith in Christ, and later I had several personal encounters with him.

His passing is on the one hand grounds for rejoicing that he has, in the words of St. Paul, “fought the good fight, he has finished the race, he has kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for him the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to him but also to all who have loved Christ’s appearing.” (2 Tim 4:7, alt.). He is free from the cancer that increasingly plagued him the past few months, and, to echo St. Paul again, he is “absent from the body, and present with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8).

But at the same time there is sadness, and the realization that (at least to me) this is the end of an era. At a time when so many Christians are preoccupied with their rights and their efforts to change the world (or to prevent change) George was a humble servant who remained focussed on the task of preaching the Gospel to those who have not yet heard it, and equipping others to do the same.

So the letters R. I. P. at the top of this post stand, not for “rest in peace“, but for “He does, indeed, rest in peace, the peace of God!”

Here is George’s final video blog where he talks about his legacy:

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