In True Prayer We Lay Our iPhone Down

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. – Jesus, in Matthew 5:8

The act of praying brings focus to the heart. The more we pray-as-keeping-company-with-God, the more we experience a decluttering of the heart; the achievement of purity.

A pure heart wills one thing. (Kierkegaard) Sees one thing. Hears one voice. Is centered. Is not distracted by other voices. The achievement of heart-purity brings success in relationships, and in life. This is “One thing” theology.
Jesus said, “You still lack one thing.” (Luke 18:22)

The blind man  who was healed replied, “One thing I do know.” (John 9:25)
Paul wrote, “One thing I do.” (Phil. 3:13)
Peter counseled, “Do not forget this one thing.” (2 Peter 3:8)
In 1 Cor. 2:2 Paul said: “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

“One thing” language is the discourse of the pure heart. In true prayer, we lay our Tweeter down.

1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. 2 There on the poplars we hung our iPhones… (Ps. 137)

After years of praying and praying and praying and getting alone with God concentration and God-focus comes easier. One of the things God does in a praying person’s life is to strip away distractions. One begins to dwell more and more in the clearing than in the clutter. God comes to pull us out of the clutter and escort us into his fields. There, we behold Him. There is where the pure in heart towards God are blessed.

Childcare Offered in Redeemer’s Fellowship Hall Tomorrow (Happy Valentine’s Week!)

Monroe County Community College’s Math and Science Society will be offering child care for kids ages 3-12.

Where? Redeemer Fellowship Church; 5305 Evergreen, Monroe, MI.
When? Tomorrow, Sat., Feb. 18.

4 – 7 PM

Cost: $2.50/child.

All monies go to support the Math and Science Society at MCCC.

Note: The MCCC student leaders who will be doing this have been students in my MCCC classes. I recommend them highly!

Why are they doing this? Eryn (one of my students who will be there) writes: “Those of us who are working have YEARS of babysitting experience and we’ll be setting up games and activities for them. The point of the event is so that parents can have a belated Valentine’s Day if they didn’t have time during the week, so they can go see a movie, have dinner, or just spend some time together.”

Waiver forms and information sheets (contact #s; etc.) will be used.

No snacks will be provided.

Thank you Eryn and MASS for doing this!

John Piippo

Jesus, Via Negativa


Many years ago I was at some meeting while in seminary, and had to make a presentation. My seminary friend (D.N.) introduced me by what I was not. D.N. said something like, “I’d like to introduce John Piippo. He is not a professor, he is not a doctor, he is not a seminary graduate, he is not from Africa, he is not 7 feet tall, he is not elderly, he is not…..  he is not…” D.N. went on for a while. I thought this was really funny, and clever. D.N. was introducing me using the ancient descriptive way of via negativa. By listing all the many things I was not, one could learn something about who I really was.
The sixth-century anonymous philosopher-theologian Pseudo-Dionysius, in his Mystical Theology, developed via negativa as a way of speaking about God in terms of what God is not. By saying what God is not, we learn things about who God is. For example, God is not finite (God is “infinite,” i.e., having neither beginning nor end); God is not limited (in terms of power – God can do everything that is possible to do), God is non-spatial, God is non-material (“immaterial”), God is atemporal (not subject to time), God is non-physical, and so on. This way of speaking about God is a “negative way” (via negativa). In mystical theology this is also called “dark knowledge.”
In January one of the messages I gave at Faith Bible Church in New York City was “Jesus, Via Negativa.” In my passion to know the Real Jesus I find it helpful to clear away cultural confusion by saying what Jesus was not.
For example, Jesus…

  • …was not wealthy. While foxes have holes and birds have nests, Jesus didn’t have a roof over his head. Jesus didn’t have closets packed with robes and sandals for every occasion.
  • …was not impressed with the rich and famous. Actually, Jesus mostly viewed the rich and famous as spiritually bankrupt.
  • …did not come to raise money for his ministry.
  • …did not come for the express purpose of multiplying your finances.
  • …did not operate according to cultural honor-shame hierarchies. Jesus climbed down the ladder, took on the form of an “expendable,” and descended intio greatness.
  • …was not self-centered. Jesus came, not to be served, but to serve.
  • …is not like much of what I have seen on “Christian TV.” (Admittedly, I don’t watch any of this any more. I’m certain some of it is good; I’m equally certain some of it misrepresents Jesus. I’m thankful for the good, and grateful that shut-ins can access it. Note: to access the real Jesus, begin reading Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.)
  • …did not need to hype his message, which was “gospel.” The “gospel” is good news. That’s enough. Good news has intrinsic power. You don’t have to advertise a fire.
  • …did not come to establish any earthly nation as a “Christian nation.” Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” In his temptation in the wilderness by Satan Jesus positively refused the chance to rule over this world’s kingdoms. Jesus comes for all the nations, for all peoples. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise (Galatians 3).
  • …does not wink at sin. Jesus has no “boys will be boys” or “girls will be girls” attitude. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “Aslan [Jesus] is not a tame lion.”
  • …did not come to enhance your physical appearance, but came to capture your heart. Jesus rejected the Bling Dynasty.
  • …is not your “divine Butler” who comes to further your personal kingdom. Moralistic Therapeutic Deismis something Jesus comes to defeat.
  • …is not “boring.” Jesus is the greatest revolutionary leader who has ever lived.
  • …did not come to sell tickets and entertain an audience, but to raise an army of followers. Jesus is after disciples, not mere intellectual believers.
  • …was not an entertainer. Jesus wants followers, not spectators.
  • …did not see himself as one religious option among others. Jesus was the Redeemer, the one through whom the Father would reconcile all persons unto himself. Jesus was the Sozo-er, the Savior.
  • …did not come to “balance your life.” Jesus wants all of you. 100%. Jesus is Lord.

Shampa Rice at Redeemer Feb. 28-29

Shampa Rice will be at Redeemer this month.
Tuesday, Feb. 28 – 7 PM – worship with Holly Benner. Shampa speaks.
Wednesday – “A Taste of India with Shampa Rice.” This is a fund-raising event for Shampa’s orphanage in India.
Here are the details.
Ticket sales begin this Sunday at Redeemer after the service in the lobby for “A Taste of India with Shampa Rice.” This is an Indian dinner to benefit the Wanderlust Foundation who is joining with Shampa Rice to build a home for orphaned/abandoned girls in Calcutta, India.
Ticket prices are $15 for adults and $8 for children 12 and under.
The dinner will take place Wednesday, February 29 in the Redeemer Fellowship Church Sanctuary.
The doors open at 6:00pm and dinner will start at 6:30pm.
Shampa will give a talk after dinner, and we will have an Artisans Market with goods and textiles from India, the pottery of Gary Wilson, jewelry by Abigail Heche, and many more.
Proceeds from the sale of goods in the Artisans Market will go to Wanderlust Foundation for the building of girls home in India. We are only able to take cash and check for dinner tickets as well as the sale of Artisans Market goods.

For dinner we will be having:

  • Stir fry vegetables and Naan appetizer
  • Tandoori Chicken
  • Vegetable Rice Biriyani
  • Raita Yogurt Salad
  • Mango ice cream for dessert
Those outside of Redeemer can reserve tickets by calling Redeemer Fellowship Church at 734.242.5277. Leave a message with your full name and the number of seats in your party in the mailbox for the dinner.
Wanderlust Foundation and your Michigan Wanderlust team thank you for your support for this truly life saving project.
For more information, questions, or to volunteer to help with the dinner, please contact Holly Holladay 517.392.2079, Angie Hudkins 734.755.3492, or Julie DeSloover 724.915.1557.
Redeemer Fellowship Church 5305 Evergreen Monroe, MI 48162 734-242-5277