Ethics

EthicsI recently finished an entire class on the life and theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was a German pastor and theologian during the rise of Hitler and National Socialism in Germany. As a pacifist, he later joined a plot to assassinate Hitler. As you might imagine, there are lots of complexities to all of this and we have numerous books he wrote to unpack his thinking along the way. One of my favorites is his book Ethics. I don’t agree with all of his conclusions in this book but I find his arguments intriguing and worth spending time considering. Some of his comments in the book even seem to help us understand the rise of guys like Donald Trump (see: The Successful Man).

Ethics gets into the gray area between right and wrong and looks at the complexities of how to live out our faith in the midst of trying times. Bonhoeffer didn’t argue that it was okay to kill Hitler because Hitler was extra evil. Rather, he argued that he willingly assumed guilt for his part in the assassination attempt because assuming this guilt on behalf of others was ultimately the right thing to do. Parts of the book can get a bit theologically dense, so the following are a few of my favorite quotes from the book to give you a feel for it. I group them into four categories: Jesus, assuming guilt, the will of God, and general thoughts.

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Top 20 Quotes from Blessing Ranch (Spring 2016)

Top 20 Quotes from Blessing Ranch (Spring 2016)

This is part of a series of posts on 20 quotes. Click here to see others.

I spent the week in Florida returning to a place called Blessing Ranch. It’s a ministry for pastors, and lately they’ve been gathering groups of people from across the states to join up in mentoring groups. That meant I had the opportunity to dive deep into rich conversations with three other guys in ministry along with an incredible mentor named Dr. John Walker. I meet with this group twice a year to sit together and learn from one another.

Below you’ll see my 20 favorite ideas shared throughout our time together. Normally I save my “20 quotes” posts for conferences, but this week brings so much for me to think about that I include it.

All of these are typed into my paraphrase of what was said and some of them are just my personal thoughts in response to something another guy said. Many of these are likely quotes from authors and leaders but which may not have been attributed as such in our discussion (although I’ve attributed the source if it was mentioned). They also include a few ideas from Jud Wilhite (numbers 15-20), the Senior Pastor of Central Christian Church in Vegas and the author of a number of books. We had a chance to video chat with Jud and allow him to speak into our conversation as well. All that to say this list is my best attempt at capturing some of the incredible insights I received from this week in hopes it can be a blessing to you as well.

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How Heavy is Your Heart?

How Heavy is Your Heart?

I decided it would be a great way to spend a morning with my kids by watching the movie The Prince of Egypt. In case you missed this gem from the 90s, it’s a cartoon version of the Exodus story from the Bible. If you need convincing of its validity, just consider that Val Kilmer is the voice of both Moses and God. Need I say more?

It was also the movie I watched on my very first date with Michelle when we were in high school. So I fully expected it to be a home run experience for my kids to watch for their first time and create a lasting memory. It was all going well until we got to the scene where the movie depicts Exodus 1:22: “Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”

The movie animates the entire story, but it cleverly depicts this scene with two-dimensional hieroglyphics coming to life on the walls of the palace. That’s when my four-year-old daughter Adelyn began to lose it.

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Losing It

It’s political season, so your news feed is full of promises of winning. This appeals to an innate desire we have ingrained inside us. But have you ever noticed how Jesus used logic that makes little sense by the world? That’s because Jesus wants us to learn how to lose our life in order to gain what He has in mind for us. In my message above from last weekend I unpack how generosity and serving others allows us to own our faith and fully experience Jesus. But you can’t lose something you don’t own.

"The world will allow itself to be subdued only by success. It is not ideas or opinions which decide, but deeds. Success alone justifies wrongs done. Success heals the wounds of guilt. There is no sense in reproaching the successful man for his unvirtuous behaviour, for this would be to remain in the past while the successful man strides forward from one deed to the next, conquering the future and securing the irrevocability of what has been done. The successful man presents us with accomplished facts which can never again be reversed. What he destroys cannot be restored. What he constructs will acquire at least a prescriptive right in the next generation. No indictment can make good the guilt which the successful man has left behind him. The indictment falls silent with the passage of time, but the success remains and determines the course of history."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ethics

The Sound of Silence

I taught at Central last weekend and in the video above you can see a “music video” we made for a modern version of the song The Sound of Silence. Since many of you have asked, the song is the 1964 version from Simon and Garfunkel but is recently covered by the band Disturbed.

In the message I unpack how our faith grows best in relationship.