Death of the Internet Monk

Michael Spencer, a.k.a. Internet Monk, has died of cancer.  (Not to be confused with our own commenter on this blog Webmonk, who is still alive.)  His <a href=””>blog</a>, subtitled “Dispatches from the post-evangelical wilderness,” was a favorite site for honest theological and spiritual discussions.  A Baptist minister who strugged with some of the trappings of evangelicalism, Spencer was influenced by, among others, the Christ-centered, Gospel-centered emphasis of Lutheranism, though he bemoaned the way Lutherans tend to shut themselves off from other Christians.

Trevin Wax has gleaned some of his favorite posts:

I Like the Prayer List

The prayer list frees us from the notion that the people of God are the healthy, happy ones who turned up for worship today. It reminds us that our community is extended into hospitals, nursing homes, psych hospitals, the homes of the poor, the relationships we have with other kinds of Christians and the mission we’re on together.

The prayer list is a picture of the broken and humbled body of Christ. It has a particular kind of beauty, and I’m glad our church- which hasn’t gotten around to a confession, covenant or constitution- has that prayer list.

It’s part of my journey these days to know that my name will one day be on that list, and these will be the people who will love and pray for me when my place in the church is to be ministered unto by the praying people of God.

Grace is as Dangerous as Ever

When the quality of God’s mercy in the Gospel no longer amazes you, you will begin to justify the dilution of amazing grace into religious grace, or moral grace, or grace in response to something.

Real grace is simply inexplicable, inappropriate, out of the box, out of bounds, offensive, excessive, too much, given to the wrong people and all those things.

The Question is God; the Answer is Jesus

If you are going to think about God, go to Jesus and start there, stay there and end there.

This simple rule is too simple for the religious, the worldly wise, the power seeking and the proud.

It is infuriating to those who want to manipulate for money or distract for some personal agenda.

Jesus will break our idols, complicate our assumptions, overturn our tables and put himself squarely in the center of every question. He is the way, the truth, the life. He is the answer. He is the one way we think about, know, love, worship and relate to God.

When you think about God, go to Jesus.

via In Memory of Michael Spencer 1956-2010 : Kingdom People.

HT: Mary

Christian yoga

Yoga construed as just a physical exercise is probably fine. But some people are emphasizing its religious content. And some Christians are trying to make that religious content Christian.

Christian pop music played quietly in the background as instructor Bryan Brock led a recent yoga class at the nondenominational Church at Rocky Peak in Chatsworth.

Incorporating prayer and readings from the Bible, Brock urged his class of about 20 students to find strength in their connection to their creator through yoga’s deep, controlled breathing. “The goal of Christian yoga is to open ourselves up to God,” he said. “It allows us to blur the line between the physical and the spiritual.”

The instructor then recited the Lord’s Prayer while his students moved slowly through a series of postures known as the sun salutation.

Such hybrid classes, which combine yoga practice with elements of Christianity or Judaism, appear to be growing in popularity across Southern California and elsewhere.

Some Christians call their versions of the discipline holy yoga or Yahweh yoga and some teachers urge participants to “breathe down Jesus.” Jewish yogis, in turn, have developed — and in some cases, even trademarked — Torah yoga, Kabbalah yoga and aleph bet yoga, applying Eastern meditative movements to Jewish prayer and study. . . .

Rayna Mike said she was skeptical of yoga before she started going to Brock’s class at the Church at Rocky Peak, an evangelical congregation. “I never did it before because I considered it Eastern philosophy and I didn’t want any part of it,” said Mike, a Bel-Air businesswoman.

Mike changed her mind when her trainer at the Church on the Way in Van Nuys recommended the yoga class, and she said the practice has improved her health while feeding her soul.

“You can go and sweat anywhere, but that’s not the point,” she said. “This is a beautiful thing. It’s an answer to my prayers.”

Brock completed a 200-hour accredited course in Phoenix designed by Brooke Boon, author of the book “Holy Yoga.” Boon has trained nearly 200 Christian yogis, about a dozen of whom are teaching in Southern California.

“Christ is my guru. Yoga is a spiritual discipline much like prayer, meditation and fasting,” Boon said in a telephone interview. “No one religion can claim ownership.”

via Bending yoga to fit their worship needs –

What’s the problem with “breathing down Jesus” or making Christ your guru? But why do so many people feel a need for this kind of thing? Can it be that Christianity, as currently practiced, is missing its “spirituality”? What are better ways of blurring the distinction between the physical and the spiritual?

Where does the word “Easter” come from?

David Koyzis has a fascinating post on that question.  Other languages call the festival of Christ’s resurrection some version of the Aramaic word for “Passover,” namely, “Pascha.”  This is a good Biblical term.  But the Germans call it “Ostern” and the English call it “Eastern.”   The Anglo-Saxon historian the Venerable Bede said that the word  derives from “Eostre,” a pagan fertility goddess with rites in the beginning of Spring.

But twentieth-century scholarship has called into question Bede’s interpretation. There is still no general agreement on the origin of the word, but it has been suggested that it may come, not from the name of a goddess, but from eostarun, the Old High German word for the dawn itself. (Our word east obviously has similar origins.) In fact there are some remarkable similarities between the words for resurrection, Easter and dawn in several Indo-European languages. The common meaning underlying these words is a rising of some sort.

If our own word Easter originally meant sunrise, then perhaps it was fittingly applied to the Rising of the Son of God from the dead by our Teutonic forebears. And if this is so, then it seems that we English-speakers do after all have a most appropriate name for the feast of Christ’s Resurrection.

via Easter: what’s in a name? » Evangel | A First Things Blog.

“An infinite price has been paid”

Johann Gerhard, a 17th century pastor and theologian, has written some of the most profound meditations that I have found.  This is from his Sacred Meditations VII. , “Concerning the fruit of the Lord’s passion”:

He has been judged in order to free us from the judgment of God. He has been prosecuted as a criminal so that we criminals may be pardoned. He has been scourged by godless hands to take away from us the scourge of the devil. He called out in pain in order to save us from eternal wailing. He poured out tears so that he could wipe away our tears. He has died for us to live. He felt the pains of hell through and through, so that we might never feel them. He was humiliated in order to bring forth the medicine for our pride; was crowned with thorns, in order to obtain for us the heavenly crown.42 He has suffered at the hands of all so that he might furnish salvation for all. He was darkened in death so that we would live in the light of heavenly glory. He heard disgust and contempt so that we might hear the angelic jubilation in heaven.

Do not despair then, O faithful soul. You have offended the infinite Good with your sins, but an infinite price has been paid. You ought to be judged for your sins, but the Son of God has already been judged for the sins of the whole world, which He received in Himself. Your sins ought to be punished, but God already punished them in His Son. The wounds from your sins are great, but more precious is the balm of the blood of Christ. Moses pronounces a curse against you (Deuteronomy 27:26), because you have not kept everything that has been written in the book of the law, but Christ has been made a curse for you (Galatians 3:13). The handwriting has been written against you in the court of heaven, but Christ’s blood has deleted that (Colossians 2:14).

Therefore, your passion, O loving Christ, is my ultimate refuge.

The site of the Resurrection

There is historical evidence to suggest that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem really was erected on the site of Christ’s Empty Tomb.  Go here for a series of panoramic 360-degree virtual tours of both the exterior and the interior of the church. (Be sure to click the smaller boxes for the various interior views.)

HT: David Mills

“This joyous day, dear Lord, with joy begin”

Easter by Edmund Spenser (1552-1599)

MOST glorious Lord of Lyfe! that, on this day,

Didst make Thy triumph over death and sin;

And, having harrowed hell, didst bring away

Captivity thence captive, us to win:

This joyous day, deare Lord, with joy begin;

And grant that we, for whom thou diddest dye,

Being with Thy deare blood clene washt from sin,

May live for ever in felicity!

And that Thy love we weighing worthily,

May likewise love Thee for the same againe;

And for Thy sake, that all lyke deare didst buy,

With love may one another entertayne!

So let us love, deare Love, lyke as we ought,

–Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught.

via Easter – Poem by Edmund Spenser.