So lightly invoked

When Christianity says that God loves man, it means that God loves man: not that He has some “disinterested,” because really indifferent, concern for our welfare, but that, in awful and surprising truth, we are the objects of His love. You asked for a loving God: you have one. The great spirit you so lightly invoked, the “lord of terrible aspect,” is present: not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, not the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist’s love for his work and despotic as a man’s love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father’s love for a child, jealous, inexorable , exacting as love between the sexes.

– C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain 46-47


Like my thinking, this blog has undergone a bit of restructuring since I first began it in 2015. For some time, I’ve wanted to find ways to make this blog a unique space for Christian interaction over the most important things in our lives.

Dear reader, while I admit that I have not always fostered the kind of interaction that might make this space more helpful to you, I have managed to bring on another writing voice that can help.

I’ve been hounding Matt Bulman to contribute regularly here for a while now. Matt has written a few guest posts here and has agreed to do so more regularly. Matt’s experience, creativity, and style will do much to expand the purview of this blog. I asked him to provide a brief bio for you and I’ve included it below.

Our hope is that The Life of Things will grow into a space where we can hear from multiple perspectives within evangelicalism. I’m always refreshed to find common places where, united by our bond in Christ, we have the platform to speak and to listen together in our diversity. Your questions, comments, and concerns are always welcome.

About Matt

My name is Matt Bulman. I have a wife, Hannah, and three sons, Levi, Nolan, and Jacob. I work construction during the week and sometimes remodel my house on the weekends. I go to Harvest bible Chapel in Winston Salem and am a member of a decent small group there. Here is how I got to here.

When I was nineteen I left the university of my choice to go to Bible College. I was convinced that this was what God wanted me to do and that I would be pleasing God by going. Halfway through school I got married and a few months before graduation my oldest son was born. And then somehow I fell through the cracks and got lost.

I had offered my life up to God with the best of intentions. He took my gift, put it up on a shelf and as far as I could tell, forgot about me. When my classmates left to go to other churches as youth or assistant pastors I was left sitting and waiting. I sat and waited and slowly twisted into something else.

God had disliked me, tricked me into volunteering for his army and then forgot where he had placed me. I was the kid he didn’t want to have. He had to save me because I believed in him but he didn’t have to love me. A couple of years into that I began to see that maybe he was right. He didn’t use me because I wasn’t useful, didn’t like me because I wasn’t the kind of guy he likes. Those were six years of spiritual fun times.

I was still going to church, still teaching a sixth grade boys class and serving in other ways but only because it was easier than doing the work to get out. But as far as God was concerned I quit. He left me alone and I left him alone.

A Bible College reject, too frustrated to keep going and not man enough to tell anybody I quit.

“For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love.”

Then, in 2012, Jesus jumped in, slapped me awake using youtube videos of Mark Driscoll, and won’t let me go. It took six years for me to learn that I didn’t have anything to offer God for his approval, and five minutes to realize that he wanted me anyway. When he should have really turned away he didn’t.

I write to remind myself that I am seen, not forgotten, and that I am not sitting in God’s garage waiting for bulk item pickup day.

Forums to share

Whenever I find them, I will try to watch or listen to roundtable discussions composed of my favorite authors or speakers. I sometimes find these attached to larger conferences, variously described as Q & A or open forums. At the best of times, I’ll find a relaxed and serendipitous conversation, where thinkers will address a range of topics they haven’t necessarily covered in their writing and speaking.

I’d like to share two such talks in this post. The first is a round-table discussion between the notorious Four Horsemen of the New Atheism movement, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett. Apparently the title of the video, “The Four Horsemen” was its inaugural use. While I like these guys quite a bit more than they would like me, what I appreciated about this video was the opportunity to see these men interacting on areas of agreement and, most interesting to me, areas of disagreement. I have read quite a bit of Dawkins and have always found him more enjoyable in print that in person. I admire the late Christopher Hitchens the most of the lot, primarily because of his candor and interest in granting fair representation of those whom he (sometimes vehemently) disagrees with. Though their rhetoric can occasionally be taxing to this pious Christian, I find interacting with their challenges to be mostly enjoyable.

The second video is a discussion between pastors and theologians, John Piper, Doug Wilson, Sam Storms, and Jim Hamilton. The two hour session was called An Evening of Eschatology. The four men interact on various views regarding what Scripture says about things to come. The discussion is situated around the various positions on the millennium referenced in Revelation 20 (Wilson- postmillennial, Storms- amillennial, Hamilton- premillennial, with Piper serving as moderator), so you have a unique opportunity to see how the positions compare in the context of a passionate yet irenic debate.

If you’re in to this sort of thing, drop a line into the comments of any talks you’d recommend. I’ve enjoyed these discussions across a variety of subjects including history, theology, politics, science, ethical issues, etc. I’ll try to share more as time allows.

Always a miracle

Birth is a miracle. Every birth. And every new birth is a miracle. We are all participants in the miracle. We have all been born. Jesus used the birth imagery in his phrase “born from above” (John 3:3, NRSV) to introduce Nicodemus to an equivalent miracle in their famous nighttime conversation. God is in the business of making life, bringing into being what is not. Birth is the name of this act. It is always a miracle.

Naming an event a miracle doesn’t mean we can’t understand it. It means we can’t anticipate it. It means we can’t reproduce it. We cannot control it. There is more going on than we can comprehend. There is more to life than we can account for. Miracle is a word Christians use to name events, at least some of them, that God brings about.

~ From As Kingfishers Catch Fire, a new collection of Eugene Peterson’s sermons. Excellently edited, these sermons provide a glimpse of the candor and earnestness of Peterson’s ministry. They are a gift to the church.