Penn Epistle: I AM

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P E N N E P I S T L E F A L L 2 0 2 2 | U N I V E R S I T Y O F P E N N S Y L V A N I A I AM

Editor in Chief Sydney Sun Editors Avery Johnston Ben Zeisloft Ellie Shuert Madeeha Mirza Design Jade Hermosillo Sydney Huang Writers Matt Burst Jehuda Kusuma Jeremiah Beeler Josh Anumolu Luke Baber Rebecca Kim Sarah Shin staff

Dear inquisitive reader, LETTER FROM THE EDITOR • 2

In a world that feels cold from overwhelming polarization and poverty and where churches have become a symbol of stigma rather than sanctuary, it is easy to hate or deny the existence of someone greater who created all of this Still, there exists a Being: Someone who is fully and unequivocally good even when we confuse or mistake Him with the imperfect people who invoke His name He is someone who loved you before you loved Him He had faith in those who did not trust in Him He is the definition of kindness and love in its completion He is God He introduced Himself to His people saying, “I AM WHO I AM, ” which inspired the title of this magazine (Exodus 3:13 14). He is righteous, immutable, and even jealous. Throughout this issue, we distinguish some of His qualities more than the few I already mentioned in an attempt to comprehend who He is But in reality, every characteristic we use to describe Him is all one and the same He is the fullness of every one of His unchanging and unwavering attributes: they are all one with His essence and His existence God is the Trinity: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and still, He is one God Despite us using certain terms to describe each person of God, He is co eternal and co equal, not contradicting Himself Our minds cannot wrap around the reality of these divine mysteries these seemingly illogical phenomena However, He transcends our understanding He is everything good, having conquered evil by dying for His enemies as the ultimate form of true love His Church and His people fail to represent Him perfectly, but in His perfection, we find hope in this desolate world We do not have enough room in this fall edition to fit every one of God’s attributes, and our meager words pale in comparison to Him Nevertheless, we hope to provide a pinhole for you to peek into His glorious light and understand a little bit of who He is Know that He is our God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the King of kings And you are loved by i ine the watercolor sunsets, poring over the e justice, true morality, and true love We der, let us explore the extraordinary Creator:

Compassionate, 5 Mighty, 6 Holy, 8 Just, 9 Redeemer, 11 Jealous, 13 Faithful, 15 Good Shepherd, 17 Ancient of Days, 19 Spirit, 21 Alpha and Omega, 23 Immutable, 24 Bridegroom, 25 3

Who do you say I am?

But there exists no greater act of compassion than Jesus taking on human flesh, feeling empathy for us in our suffering, and enduring a shameful death on the Cross In history’s greatest act of compassion, Jesus Christ manifested perfect compassion “[by emptying] Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men ” (Philippians 2:7) No longer can man scoff and say God is distant and knows nothing of our suffering, “for we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15) In His earthly ministry, we can further witness Jesus’ compassion Jesus, upon meeting two blind men sitting on the roadside, “in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed Him” (Matthew 20:34) Seeing a crowd of five thousand sinners, Jesus “had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34) Incredibly, Jesus witnessed Martha and Mary’s deep grief over their brother Lazarus’ death and He, the God of the universe, wept (John 11:35 36) Imagine the tears of the Lord, shed for us

A new homicide record is shattered in the city Synthetic drugs creep into classrooms teens steal from their parents just to prevent the needle’s itch Children’s hospitals stand in the crosshairs of international wars, being blown to ruins The cries of the afflicted oftentimes fall on deaf ears People walk past injustice with averted eyes

Returning to Mount Sinai after the idolatry of the Israelites, Moses came before God “And He [the Lord] passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness’” (Exodus 34:6 NIV) YHWH, the Lord, here reveals His very own character, one attribute being His compassion How then has God shown this compassion? Compassion, in the modern usage, is used interchangeably with empathy that is, the pity and concern shown to another human suffering misfortune The word itself stems from the Latin com (with) and passio (suffering) But an understanding of the Jewish sense of “compassion,” or the Hebrew rechem (םחר), can deepen our grasp of the Lord’s character as the Bible describes it Another Hebrew word, racham, shares the same root of rechem but literally means “womb ” A useful figure of compassion emerges a mother’s intimate nurturing of her child in her womb In the bosom of his or her mother, a child is nourished and shielded from the hardships of the world Throughout the entirety of the Old Testament, the Lord like a nurturing mother displays His perfect compassion by sustaining His people Israel and shielding them from the external forces of the world He provides the Israelites with physical nourishment in the wilderness (Exodus 16:1 17:7) In His compassion, the Lord delivers Israel from countless enemies such as the Canaanites, Philistines, Assyrians, and Babylonians Surrounded by wicked enemies, for instance, the Psalmist remarks, “in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by,” as a baby bird resides in the safety of its mother’s wings (Psalm 57:1) Moreover, many of Israel's prophets condemn those who, without compassion, neglect the poor, the widowed, and the fatherless, thus accentuating the Lord’s love of compassion But, the most remarkable outworking of God’s rechem is by the racham that is, Christ’s incarnation in the womb of the Virgin Mary When faced with the suffering of the world, people may hastily dismiss God’s loving nature as inconsistent with their worldview

Suffering is not a new trend exacerbated by the modern age, but rather an issue grappled with by philosophers old and new alike

How, in the bitter darkness of this world, are we supposed to feel the compassion of God?



The Apostle Paul captures again the sheer depths of compassion our God has for us: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9) Christ embraced suffering so that we may not suffer eternally what tremendous compassion! Not only did Christ become incarnate and live compassionately, He also died on the Cross for us and then rose from the dead! No greater compassion exists than Christ’s Passion on the Cross The cause and effect of our salvation in Christ is therefore His compassion We were created in the compassionate God’s image, yet the Church has a long way to go in the compassion department one need only look at the hatred lobbed at one another by our congregations Peter calls us to “have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind,” yet this can be such a difficult feat when Christ is not our model (1 Peter 3:8) Therefore, let us be reminded and remind others of Christ’s perfect compassion toward us by meditating on the naked, beaten Savior suffering on the Cross

nother baby is born into a broken family

Although suffering has plagued man since the Fall, God’s compassion is an integral part of His unchanging, abiding character

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God

The Compassion of God

2 Corinthians 1:3 4 5

JADE HERMOSILLO To see His Might O 2


Growing up, I had very few interactions with the Bible My family was not very religious, but every time I was going over some rough patch, my mom would simply tell me, “Talk to God, He will always help you ” and He did As a child, I had no need for proof that God existed From five years old, my mom had taken me to church, not consistently, but enough times for me to find God and never let Him go Three years later, I told my mom I wanted to get baptized, and I felt on top of the world However, it was that same year when hard times hit my family, and since then, I deeply admit, I have only been to church a handful of times Yet, through those difficult days, I always knew God was with me, and I feel so grateful to say that, since arriving at college, He has given me a group of people who have inspired me to strengthen my relationship with Him and to never stop seeking Him When we think about the question, “Where is God?” our natural response is to whimsically think, “Everywhere, He is all around me ” As beautiful as this thought is, and though it is true, I think we overlook the prevalence of His beauty in our everyday lives through our propensity to overgeneralize His character We wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, and go throughout the day without ever taking the time to stop along the way to admire His creation. A good verse to begin with that encapsulates this message comes from Psalm 8:3 4: When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him? This verse not only reflects upon the beauty of God’s work but also the care that went into His work; the very world and universe we live in It wasn’t until I was about eight years old that I was able to fully take in the charming details of the world created for me In 2011, I was baptized Christian, a bit informally I might say It was a hot summer day, and the members of my small church all gathered in my backyard to watch me get baptized in my own pool; it is a day I will never forget I remember holding my breath as Pastor Peter submerged me under the cool water The moment I emerged, I knew I would never be the same However, the next year would prove to be one of the most grueling periods of my life I had just gotten baptized, and I knew that God would be holding my hand for the rest of my life, and now I would be gripping His hand back From that moment, the world seemed like a brighter place; the leaves looked greener and the clouds more radiant The next thing I knew, though, my family had lost our home, my dad had been sentenced to almost nine years in prison, my mom suffered a miscarriage, and Pastor Peter had been diagnosed with cancer only a few months before he would pass away Within a year, the foundation for everything I had stood on was swept from beneath my feet However, I believe that it is in these dark times when God’s power shines the brightest I should have been devastated and hopeless I could have denounced God as my protector and lost faith in Him Instead, something amazing happened Once the short period of sadness and confusion had passed, I realized the leaves on the trees were surprisingly more vivid than ever, the love I had for my family had only grown stronger, and every step I took felt lighter So much had happened I used to be angry at my mom from time to time because we had stopped going to church, but even then, I had enough faith to know that God would provide me with the strength to understand that hard times are only temporary and that I would come out vigorous and ready for whatever else life had in store for me Who else has the power to carry someone out of their darkest times? Who else has the power to completely transform someone ’ s perception of the world other than God?

ne of the greatest rewards that follows accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior is knowing that wherever we are mentally or physically He is always with us When we feel upset, one of the best feelings is knowing that at any time we can talk to God and ask Him our deepest questions Even when we feel joy, we can’t help but thank Him for all He does for us But what now? Do we just go about our daily lives thinking God is only there for us to speak to?

Job 12:7 10 reminds me of how full of God’s love the world is: But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind When I think back to that period of my life, I can hardly remember the pain I see it as a moment when I had been gifted much of His strength which I still have today Strength is not merely something physical but a power that comes in many forms A mighty reminder of His masterful love is from Nehemiah 8:10: Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength One of those forms is being able to see the passion and artistry of God in everything Of course, it can be said for almost any effort, “Easier said than done,” but that’s lousy thinking In Psalm 8:3 4, David is in awe that God, who designed the universe with His own fingers, would let beings such as us live among His masterpiece And that’s how we should treat the world: as something priceless that God has chosen for us to cherish


Two scriptural references describing Jesus’ holiness come from Hebrews 4:15 and 1 John 3:5: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” and “You know that He appeared in order to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin ” Jesus is without sin and there is no sin in Him His divine nature cannot allow it This does not undermine His ability to sympathize with us in our sin: He was fully man and still tempted to sin as we are

The Holiness of God oliness is something God calls us to:H SYDNEY HUANG As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy " 1 Peter 1:14 16

The holiness Peter bids us to have in all of our conduct is neither natural nor easily attained. We are not to be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2) nor to our former desires (1 Peter 1:14 16). But we are to be holy as He is holy. For me, the holiness of God is one of the hardest attributes to put into words. He just is holy. We can more easily imagine His qualities of being merciful, gracious, and patient or understand (to the best of our mortal ability) His omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence To be holy like He is holy, then, seems at first like a huge ask from God First, what does it mean that God is holy? For one, God’s holiness means that He is separate, distinct, and set apart from us He has an “other ness ” It also means that He is morally perfect and pure utterly superlative in majesty He is completely without sin Hebrews 1:1 4 says, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power ” So we can look at Jesus’ holiness to get a glimpse of the Father’s because Jesus' holy nature is the exact representation of God’s holy nature

However, His identity as the divine Son of God did not allow sin in His being at all R Carlton Wynne, in "Could Jesus Have Sinned?" writes, “Taking humanity to Himself meant assuming a true human nature with its creaturely mind, affections, body, and will but one that, in perfect harmony with His deity, could seek nothing but wholehearted delight in the Father’s purposes ” (cf John 6:38)

2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God ” Christ is clearly holy And Christ is clearly sinless But God treated Him as if He were not Our sins were imputed or ascribed to the Holy One in that He died on the Cross as if guilty of all our sins He then imputes to us His holiness and righteousness as if we were not guilty of any of ours Praise God! Christ is holy, without any moral blemishes, and perfect in all of His ways. Compared to us, His holiness and “other ness ” is stark. Christ’s holy nature is God’s holy nature. The sinlessness and purity of God play into the meaning of His “other ness ” We get this view of what it means that God is holy, separate, and distinct from us when Isaiah recalls the seraphim calling, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isaiah 6:3) Isaiah responds to this vision of the throne room of God by saying, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5) He rightly recognizes his own sinfulness in light of the Lord’s sinlessness and his unworthiness to be in the presence of the Lord His “other ness ” is encapsulated in that He is God, and we are not The Lord’s holiness is the only attribute of God that is raised to the third degree of repetition in Scripture There is so much weight and might behind the holiness of God that the seraphim and all of creation proclaim “holy, holy, holy” is our Lord God Each member of the Trinity is holy, and the repetition emphasizes the awesome and majestic nature of the Triune God Now, how does a deeper understanding of the holiness of God impact the way we pursue holiness? Returning to 1 Peter, we shall be holy because He is holy It is non negotiable for a believer But after we have been born again, this is not as much a daunting command as it is a joyful pursuit With our new hearts, we detest sin and love the things of the Lord The Holy Spirit is changing and refining our nature to be more like Christ’s in all of His holiness and righteousness The Holy Spirit the power that resurrected Christ from the dead will play the largest part in our becoming holy The Spirit exposes our sin to us that we might turn away from it; He illuminates the Scriptures for our deeper understanding of God; and He helps us see the glory of Christ As believers, let us thirst for more of the holiness that our Savior died to grant us We know that He who begins this good work in us will bring it to completion


ever fully holy and righteous, was unjustly tortured and murdered by the Roman government 2,000 years ago This man ’ s death was the most unjust event to happen on the face of the earth More shockingly, the reason He did this act was to justify humanity who, since the fall of man, has been ruled by sin and evil So to answer this question, Jesus was the only fully good man to have bad things happen to Him For the rest of us then, it means that we are all sinners and deserving of God’s wrath Furthermore, one can only imagine how much despair and pain is created when you put broken things together After all, broken things have sharp edges It should not be a surprise that when multiple broken people get together and interact, there will be both intentional and unintentional scars that result The truth that every human being must come to terms with is that every human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9) We are all broken creatures in need of a savior Although there are some aspects of sin, like cancer or natural disasters, that do not seem to be caused by human sin, ultimately broken creatures can only replicate brokenness That is why we must look to Jesus, the Beloved Son of God, who gave Himself up to experience the Cross in the first place It was to pay off our debt of sin that we owed to God If the Old Testament is all about the exclusive grace of God for the Israelites that correctly obeyed His commands, the New Testament is about the Son of God, Jesus, who offers the entire world a new promise Instead of an imperfect human priest, Jesus is the holy and pure Priest Instead of a spotless animal sacrifice, Jesus is the blameless Lamb of God Instead of the first Adam who succumbed to the temptations of the enemy, Jesus is the second Adam who brings every person who believes in Him into a new covenant where this time, God puts His law in our minds and writes it on our hearts with Jesus Himself being our God and we, the Bride of Christ, being His people (Jeremiah 31:33) So what will happen? Will all this human evil and sinfulness just go unaccounted for? Has God simply turned a blind eye? In other words, why does God let good things happen to bad people? The thing is, though, He did; He created you and I In this present time between the scandalous offer of grace that Jesus made on the Cross and the second coming, God has appointed the believer to pursue justice in every aspect of life. For the Christian, when sin and brokenness is present, we are commanded by our Lord to restore it to its intended glory that ultimately gives glory to God. Too often, we are too quick to give up on evil people. But if we, followers of Jesus, took the time to lovingly restore others, maybe it would be easier for them to accept the reality of a loving God. Furthermore, there is good news about the coming age when Jesus comes back In John’s vision of the end time, he hears the Lord promise that one day, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away ” (Revelation 21:4)

W h a t d o e s t h i s m e a n f o r h u m a n i t y ? W h e r e d o e s t h i s l e a v e t h e e v i l i n t h i s w o r l d ? 9

The God of Justice n the first minutes of Matt Reeves’ The Batman (2022), Robert Pattinson’s Batman is seen appearing from the shadows ready to bruise up a gang of petty criminals. Right before the action starts though, one of the thugs asks, “Who are you?” to which Batman replies, “I am vengeance. ”

In more ways than one, this opening scene spoke to me about the state of today’s world in the way that we try to exact justice against the evil in this world For the Christian, there should be a holy and righteous anger that comes to the surface when seeing the sinfulness of man, whether it is through the means of abortion, systemic racism, or political divides However, the way that the Christian responds to and takes action against evil, in contrast to that of the world, must be restorative in nature In the letter to the Romans, Paul commands the Christian to “bless those who persecute you ” while leaving vengeance to God’s hands as He promises, “‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, ’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:14, 19) The only way for the Christian to repay another’s evil with goodness and blessing is by believing and clinging to the truth that they worship a God who is ultimately just When we take a second to think about justice and morality apart from the living God, it will always fall apart It is impossible to imagine the purest and truest form of justice without believing in a source of ultimate justice It is only when we accept the reality that there is a loving God who is a Father to the fatherless and a Protector of widows that we can begin to see that justice has to do with a lot more than just our small and subjective interactions with it When Jesus commands us to pray as He prayed in the Gospel of Matthew, He teaches us to ask God the Father to let His will, not ours, be done " on this earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10) When we learn that God is the source of ultimate justice in His heavenly throne, it is only then that we can become ambassadors of justice on this earth that is clearly deprived of justice The belief that God is omnipresent and omniscient, then, should make us question why God would let evil and injustice rule over His creation Most commonly and simply put, why do bad things happen to good people? Although not an easy question to respond to, the gospel of Jesus Christ provides an answer to this contention In the gospel, the only time in the entirety of human history that God let something bad happen to someone who was entirely good was when Jesus Christ, the only person who was fjkdsljafklsdj fjk W h o i s v e n g e a n c e o w h y d o b a d t h i n g s h a p p e n t o g o o d p e o p l e ?

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At the end of his life on the island of Patmos, John is given a taste of the Lord’s future reign Jesus’ kingship in His Heavenly theocracy will be one where all things will be made new and those who thirst will be satisfied by streams of living water (Revelation 21:5 6) Yet, a much scarier reality is given side by side to this paradise “For the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolators, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur” (Revelation 21:8) Why would a loving God go as far as to send people to Hell? Is He not powerful enough to save all of humanity? Yes, God is loving and merciful, but His character is also one that is supremely just The justice of God is the perfection of all our perverted and shadowed versions of justice that the best of humanity has always tried to grasp And if just, God cannot contradict Himself and, therefore, must repay those who refuse Jesus what they deserve: eternal separation from God This act of justice, as much as it is impossible to fully understand, is just an act of love by God because if He promises that salvation comes only from the name of Jesus, then He must make good on His promise that those who reject Jesus must pay the great debt of their sin by themselves You see, it was you and I who deserved to be hung on that Cross Yet if I can find confidence in the name of Jesus, it is not too late for you to do the same, dear reader The thing that gives me hope, as a Christian living in a fallen world where one cannot scroll one minute nor walk one block without seeing an innocent person suffer at the cost of another’s sin, is that Jesus will make all things right one day This is not simply making everything and everyone happy, but just as importantly, Jesus will execute perfect and just judgment on every single being All sin will be accounted for and every victim of human evil and sin will be comforted as Jesus promises He will wipe away all of our tears and death will be no more (Revelation 21:4) Then on that day, all of God’s children who have found righteousness through Jesus’ life and death on the Cross will live together with the Lover of their souls More prevalent than the reality of sin and death is the truth that the God we worship is the God of justice A

Thus, reconciliation deeply concerns both man and God Eternally existent outside of time and space, the divine Son, second person of the Trinity, offered Himself as the most fitting sacrifice for our redemption: the God man He became incarnate (“put on flesh”) and entered into His creation, choosing to experience pain and finitude as a man Jesus presented to the Father an innocent, obedient, and humble human life, cursed by the world to a gruesome death

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus began to pray, sweating blood in intense agony leading up to His betrayal When He was captured and brought before the council, His disciples left His side, but Jesus' innocence was evident to the governor, who declared, "I find no guilt in this man " (Luke 23:4) The religious leaders, on the other hand, were vehemently opposed to Jesus, accusing Him of blasphemy by making Himself equal with God (John 10:33) Everyone in the crowd was stirred; they spit in His face and slapped Him, saying, “Prophesy to us, You Christ! Who is it that struck You?” (Matthew 26:67 68) As the rioting cries of "Crucify Him, crucify Him!" increased, the governor caved to the pressure and delivered Him to be tortured and crucified 11 ep, it’s healed You don’t need to come in anymore ” I was in shock I had yet to complete three more weeks of physical therapy, get an MRI, and receive a plasma injection for my torn meniscus Two days prior, I was too sore to get out of bed, so I started watching this YouTube video my friend posted on her Instagram story: a prayer for sick people around CyrilofJerusalem Catechetical Lectures13:2


The essence of Christianity is not doing a bunch of good deeds to escape the wrath of God and make it into Heaven It’s also not about being condemned to death and a distant figure paying your bond so you can live a carefree life God’s reason for our creation is one of pure love His plan of redemption, His purpose for us it’s all very personal God uses the metaphor of a Bridegroom whose bride (His people) reject and cheat on Him, but He is so in love with us that He does the unimaginable to repair the damage He tells us He's the Shepherd who drops everything to retrieve the sheep that wandered from His flock He’s the Father who eagerly awaits the return of His lost sons and daughters, no matter their past, so He can lavish His love on them as children of the Most High Every analogy He's ever given us serves to point us back to relationship: His covenant with us, previously broken, can be restored Our Rejection

Jesus was scorned by many religious leaders during His life because His lifestyle was not in line with their standards of holiness: "Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" Jesus answered them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance " Luke 5:30 32 A doctor cannot tend to someone who refuses to acknowledge their ailment; the age old adage goes, "accepting you have a problem is the first step to recovery " This is where stubborn pride kicks in We take offense at the label of "sinner" because sin seems uniquely dirty, pertaining solely to the wicked and perverse However, God tells us that sin is pervasive, and all hearts are prone to rejecting Him Some of us have been in darkness for so long that the light hurts our eyes; we'd rather not be convicted This is why Jesus proclaimed that repentance is necessary for salvation Just like a doctor’s diagnosis isn't meant to shame someone, God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, but that the world might be saved through Him (John 3:17) A Fitting Savior If by the transgression of one man [Adam], death reigned over the world, why should not life more fittingly reign by the righteousness of one man [Jesus]? If they were cast out of paradise because of the tree and the eating thereof, shall not the believers now enter more easily into paradise because of the tree of Jesus [the Cross]? If that man [Adam] first formed out of the earth ushered in universal death, shall not He that formed him out of the earth bring in eternal life, since He Himself is life? Redemption, simply put, is the restoration of people from slavery to sin to a state of freedom as children of God. When we say that healing is necessary for something, it presupposes injury, meaning the affected individual needs to be restored back to their original healthy state The bondage of sin refers to a similar malady in all mankind, a terminal addiction to one ' s own desires Adam and Eve willfully rebelled against the natural state God created them in, resulting in spiritual death: separation from both God and eternal life While we are not specifically guilty of eating a forbidden fruit, everyone, irrespective of their belief in Jesus, has disobeyed Him at one point or another “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8 9) We all personally wrestle with temptations just like the first couple, and each offense distances us from our Creator


The pastor generically mentioned anyone with “mobility hindered in any way ” and started praying for their healing in Jesus’ name (mind you, as a Muslim wrestling with the reality of God and faith in general at the time, I was totally set on proving the stupidity of this whole thing) But after those few minutes, I tried to move again (“Don’t look for the pain, look for the healing!” the man was saying, as I proceeded to do the exact opposite) I got out of bed Squatted Jumped Nothing All the pain was gone I went to my doctor to see what the heck had happened to me, and he showed me a painting on his wall of Jesus standing beside a physician and a patient He told me, “I believe God can heal ” It reads like a cheesy movie script, I know I still don’t get it But it’s been over two years now, and my knee hasn’t given me pain since That was one of many inexplicable things that pointed me toward the divine Jesus Christ and a message that seemed too irrational for me to consider seriously before His Love Y

Heproperlyatonesforanoffense whoofferssomethingwhichthe offendedonelovesequally,oreven morethanhedetestedtheoffense Butbysufferingoutofloveand obedience,ChristgavemoretoGod thanwasrequiredtocompensatefor theoffenseofthewholehumanrace Firstofall,becauseoftheexceeding charityfromwhichHesuffered; secondly,onaccountofthedignityof HislifewhichHelaiddownin atonement,foritwasthelifeofone whowasGodandman;thirdly,on accountoftheextentofthePassion, andthegreatnessofthegrief endured ThereforeChrist'sPassion wasnotonlyasufficientbuta superabundantatonementforthesins ofthehumanrace;accordingto1 John2:2:"Heisthepropitiationfor oursins:andnotforoursonly,but alsoforthoseofthewholeworld" ThomasAquinas Summa,III,Q 48,A 2

Jesus was stripped and scourged brutally The soldiers put a scarlet robe on Him, a reed in His right hand, and a crown of twisted thorns on His head Parading Him in public and kneeling before Him, they mocked and spit on Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” (Matthew 27:29) As they led Him to be crucified, Jesus had to carry the Cross, but the weight of the wood coupled with His weakened, bleeding, and bruised body was too much to bear, and someone was seized to help Him Jesus hung naked on the Crossforhours,andpeopletookturnsridiculingHim, casting lots for Hisclothes,and waitingtoseeifHe'dsaveHimself:"HetrustsinGod;letGoddeliverHim now " (Matt 27:43,Psalm22:8)

Setyouraffectiononthingsabove,notonthingson theearth Foryouaredead,andyourlifeishidwithChristinGod’(Colossians3:1

It was midday, but the sky had darkened As Jesus cried out and yielded up His spirit, an earthquake occurred, and the guards confessed, "Truly this was the Son of God!" (Matthew27:54) Jesus was buried, but the chains of death could not hold Him, and He rose triumphantly on the third day Forty days later, He ascended to His heavenly throne He sent the Holy Spirit after Him to teach believers about the newness of life He so lovingly and extravagantly purchased His birth, baptism, evangelism, and suffering is a template of how to follow God Just as He resurrected and ascended, He invitesHisfollowerstoliveinrestoredcommunionwithHimforever AugustineparallelsChrist’sredemptiveactswithoursubsequentlyredeemedlives: “Whatever was done in the crucifixion of Christ, His burial, His resurrection on the third day, His ascension into Heaven, His being seated at the Father’s right hand all these things were done thus, that they might not only signify their mystical meanings but also serve as a model for the Christian life which we lead here on the earth Thus, ofHiscrucifixionitwassaid,‘AndtheythatareJesusChrist’s have crucified their own flesh,withthepassionsandluststhereof’(Galatians5:24);andofHisburial,‘Forweare buried with Christ by baptism into death’; of His resurrection, ‘Since Christ is raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also should walk with Him in newness of life’ (Romans 6:4); of His ascension and session at the Father’s right hand: ‘But if you have risen again with Christ, seek the things which are above, where Christ issittingattherighthandofGod

R e l i v i n g R e d e m p t i o n

When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness By His wounds you have been healed 1 Peter 2:23 24 I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the Cross. The only God I believe in is the one Nietzsche ridiculed as 'God on the Cross ' In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? John Stott Jesus Christ caught my attention with a radical healing, but His pursuit for my heart stretches far beyond that moment He has revealed Himself in all my memories, the mundane and the extraordinary He fights for my soul when I retreat He won't always miraculously reverse my pain; following Him means bearing a cross of my own But through it all, Christ is ever refining me My prayer is that I would hold fast, paying any price and climbing every mountain for the surpassing worth of abiding with my Redeemer I have been crucified with Christ It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me Galatians 2:20


The Epistle to the Romans says, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38 39) We killed God, but God did not turn away from us; when we were dead in our trespasses, it was the richness of His mercy and grace that paved the way for our salvation (Ephesians 2:4 5) This is the who we turn to when we stumble and fail He leads us to repentance and forgives us over and over As we experience the depth of His compassion, we are all the more bound to refrain from sin (Thomas Aquinas) Loving the Lord is a beautifully humbling and transformative journey; the more we seek Him, the more we reflect Him (1 John 4:17)

We cannot say that God doesn’t love us because of the pain we experience He knows how it feels to be abused, scorned, rejected, and abandoned He endured great suffering so we would know that we can confidently cling to Him for comfort That we are never alone That there is a future resurrection where justice will be fully executed We do not have a Savior who cannot empathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet is without sin He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Jesus (Hebrews 4:15, 7:25) The Cross is the very reason we can be sure of that: through this torture device comes the most striking example of unmerited, wholehearted love (Bishop Robert Barron)

3)” 12

This is exhausting and puts an undue and unbearable burden upon those who are on the receiving end of their jealousy The second is that they are lying to you They are not the only ones who should have you You do not need more of them in order to thrive Both of these harmful aspects of human jealousy, though, have no place in God’s God does not need you for His own personal fulfillment He is entirely self sufficient (Acts 17:24 25) As such, His jealousy is not motivated by neediness or lacking, but by His nature God loves His creation, and He created it for His own glory (Isaiah 6:3, Psalm 19:1) Thus, He is jealous for our affection because that is the purpose for which He created us It is best for us, most fulfilling for us, and most natural that is, according to our original design for us to worship the one true God There is no lie when God says that word of God speak “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8 9) Scripture very clearly tells us that God is holy, and therefore we have no grounds to say His jealousy is wrong But if we illuminate the reality behind this Scripture, we will be able to grasp a larger picture of who God is Consider: what is being said by a human when they act out of jealousy? They are saying that they want you all to themselves They are claiming that they are the only one who should have you They claim that, for your sake as well as theirs, you need more of them and less of others The reason this falls short, and the reason we hate jealousy so deeply, is twofold The first is that they need you to themselves in order to be fulfilled There is an empty, draining energy native to jealous people

Whose Name is Jealous JEREMIAH BEELER Take care, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you go, lest it become a snare in your midst You shall tear down their altars and break their pillars and cut down their Asherim (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God) Exodus 34:12 14 here is a long and not easily exhausted list of attributes of God Of these attributes, ffjkdfj ew evoke negative emotions in the heart of the average person No one cringes at the idea that God is merciful Strange would be those repulsed in the face of God’s kindness or love Jealous, though? Jealousy evokes images of abusive relationships, manipulative people, and sin Jealousy seems to us to be not good Far be it from me, however, to look at God and say, “You cannot be both jealous and good!” So, instead, let’s take Him at His word, which is truth Start with me at the point where we believe God is both jealous and good; allow the Spirit to reconcile these things through increasing our under standing First, we must understand that God’s jealousy is not man ’ s jealousy It could be as simple as letting the jkjljkjljkljl T


How then could we muster the pride to tell Him He is not good to be jealous? When He desires that our hope would not be in the things of this world, it is because moth and rust destroy (Matthew 6:19) When He desires that our prayers would be to Him, it is because He is the only one who can answer them

So let us pray to the God who can answer them

Let us tear down the altars to anything other than the Most High God Let us love the God who first loved us.

He is the only one you should worship God is honest when He proclaims that idols in your life are harmful

If a bowling ball is used to play soccer, the players, the ball, and the integrity of the game would all be damaged It is not wrong to desire a bowling ball to be used to bowl Neither is it wrong for God to desire, or even require, the creation that He designed to worship Him to worship Him

Let us return to the God that welcomes us home.

Let us thank the God, whose name is Jealous, that He would not leave us to go astray, but He would zealously pursue us, even to the point of death on a cross.

Let us sing praises to the only One who is good


Every single time you, or I, or anyone in the history of the world has ever been let down, it was because our hope was in something other than the God of creation Every disappointment, lie, cheat, frustration, and worry needs something to fall short of in order to sting God has never let anyone down He has never disappointed, lied, cheated, stifled goodness, or failed to provide

Second, we must understand that we have already experienced the goodness of God not despite His jealousy, but because of it

Let us trust in the God who can provide for our needs

“If we are faithless, He remains faithful for He cannot deny Himself ” 2 Timothy 2:13 Summer keep finding myself in the world of Narnia, fascinated by the colorful whirlwind of adventure and faith and love with You in the middle of it all I can feel my heart inching toward You, itching for more of You as each day passes by This, I know, is the summer when I first became truly interested in You, my eternal Father Sitting on the dusty carpet floor of my bedroom in this nook between the bed and the cabinet, I completely surrender myself to You Every thought, every doubt, every lie, every hidden sin, every secret desire they are all Yours I know in my heart that You are all I need, that You have my life in Your hands and in Your perfect plan I know that I need to seek You because You are the only One who truly loves and cares for me, sacrificing Your Son’s life for me and pursuing me as if I am a rare jewel, when in fact You are the jewel and I am dust I love the feel of Your words on my fingertips, learning about the stories in the Book You wrote I love knowing You more because the more I see You, the more I fall in love with Your goodness and perfection You are everything I need and more You teach me about life, about love, about true, everlasting joy and riches, and You give me an ultimate purpose and meaning in this life You have captured my heart this summer, the summer in which I finally saw Your face Fall It’s as if my life is taking a one eighty As soon as work becomes overwhelming and socializing starts to fill my day, I forget about You The Bible I had filled so much of my heart and prayers with is now collecting dust on my desk as I try so hard to please others and make a name for myself I completely reject the name You had called me first: “My Beloved Daughter ” I know this priority shift is tipping my life over the edge, that I am falling deeper into a pit of false promises that the world offers I know, I know, I know But I keep pursuing them I


As the leaves fall The flowers fade The birds fly away As the sky dims The wind howls The cold settles in I will remember You As You remember me As You love me Unconditionally As You sent Jesus for me And see Jesus in me I will thank You, my God Indeed, I will praise You I will remember You


I tried it out, though Talking to You Do You remember that day? When I spun around in my plastic spinny chair and yearned to simply tell You all that had happened in my life, how I felt about You and all the baggage I was carrying? Or that bright spring day I walked in the alley along Spruce telling You about my day? Or that hour when I sat in my chair in my open room and wrote out all the dark thoughts in my head, angry and heated toward You and myself? Or that moment when I lay in bed muffling my cries to not wake my neighbors while sending a million thoughts to You about my troubles and heartache and pleas for forgiveness? God, You were watching over me, and You never ever forgot me You were the one who sang over me in my sleep, who fed me and dressed me, who sent loving friends my way Even when I had rejected and hurt You so deeply, Your loving presence never left me You never changed; I did The Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change James 1:17 All the while, You pulled me closer when I pushed You away, and You gave me those trials in order to grow my faith not on emotions and pride and circumstance, but on the one true foundation that is Jesus To simply think about and know that You sent Your beloved Son down to earth, to have Jesus become like us humans in the flesh, and for Him to live the perfect life while facing all the same temptations we struggle with, to be mocked and put to shame by those whom He was there to save, and to be rejected by His perfect Father it is breathtakingly, heart wrenchingly, unbelievably beautiful God, You did all this so that we, Your enemies, might be reconciled to Your unconditional, perfect love, that You would have glory through it all You swear by Yourself because there is no higher authority (Hebrews 6:13) and therefore You cannot deny Yourself (2 Timothy 2:13), and I find comfort knowing I can fully with my heart, mind, and soul trust in Your promises, in who You are and what You say You will do “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me " Isaiah 49:15 16 For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother's womb Psalm 139:13 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in Him ” Lamentations 3:22 24 16 Winter My efforts are failing me, my friendships are not what I imagined and hoped they would be, and my worth is crumbling away Am I good enough? Am I interesting or fun enough for Penn? Am I meant to live this life with these people, or is it better to leave it all behind? I am doubting You I am doubting myself Not only are my doubts fueling my avoidance of others but also of You as my faith in Your goodness and love slips away You say You love me, but why do I feel so worthless? You say You will never leave me, but why do I feel so isolated and lonely? My mind and heart toss in this all consuming, tumultuous sea of doubt I am drowning I am starting to believe that nobody will see me or want me or remember me, not even You I feel so far from You Where are You? I am calling out to You! Can You hear me? *sigh* I knew that by listening to the world, I would block You out of my life, the life that had once treasured You so deeply The whirlwind of lies and shame and emptiness that’s being housed within my soul is tearing it apart brick by brick

In the midst of the chaos, a brief light shone the other day: a friend encouraged me to talk to You again, whether it be about how I felt or how my day went, simply about anything But how can I act as if You are my closest friend and tell You about my life so casually when I know I rejected, blamed, and even hated You? I cannot fathom being in a relationship with You again, let alone being in conversation with You Hopeless That’s all I am That’s all I feel That’s all I know



The Good Shepherd LUKE BABER

The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul Psalm 23:1 3 B

aaa!!! The bleating of humanity springs forth from the gullets of sheeple in distress, crying out for their Shepherd Aimless sheep in need of a shepherd is common in both the Old and New Testaments In the former, God acts as Shepherd over Israel; in the latter, Christ serves as the Good Shepherd for all people In Jesus’ time, certain professions were considered lowly, shepherds being one of them I mean, think about it: you have to go and live with smelly, foul, stupid sheep for a majority of the year with meager pay and without any societal influence It sounds like an awful job, and yet it requires a deep level of commitment to continue it for multiple years If it interests you, look up “sheep jumps into ditch” on YouTube and you’ll find a somewhat humorous sheep that gets saved from being stuck in a ditch, galumphing around in freedom, only to jump right back into the ditch it had just escaped I bring this up to point out that sheep are stupid creatures When sheep graze, they mostly look toward the ground, unaware of their surroundings to the point that they will often find themselves on the edges of cliffs or other precarious places without their intent We are sheep And we are stupid We often relapse into our own sin and toxic habits even after being shown the way We push ourselves to the limit of what we can handle without relying on God to guide us to greener, safer pastures We are naive, unintelligent creatures in desperate need of guidance and protection despite how smart our Ivy League degrees might say we are This isn’t something new; people have been in need of shepherds since creation Abel was a shepherd who offered the best of his herd to God as a sacrifice (Genesis 4:4) Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were all shepherds (Genesis 21:27, 26:14, 29:10) Joseph tended his father’s flock with his brothers before being called to “shepherd” the Egyptian people (Genesis 37:2) Moses was a shepherd before he led God’s “flock” out of Egypt (Exodus 2:17), later calling out for a new shepherd of men, Joshua (Numbers 27:17) Even King David himself was once a lowly shepherd working in the field before Samuel came to crown him (1 Samuel 16:11) These early examples of shepherds serve as harbingers for what is to be fulfilled in the example of Jesus as the ultimate Shepherd for His people It is also worth noting that God the Father is mentioned as the Shepherd of His people, protecting and guiding them through the ages His rod and staff are a representation of His discipline and His guidance, respectively He leads us, His sheep, into green pastures and quiet waters to attend to our needs, comfort us, and refresh our souls (Psalm 23) Before we move on to how Jesus fulfills the role of the Good Shepherd, we should first explore the aspects and responsibilities that are inherent in the relationship between a shepherd and his sheep Shepherds are knowledgeable, brave, gentle, and loving leaders of ignorant, reliant, clumsy sheep Shepherds (at least good ones) are responsible for protecting their flock from external threats, caring for their needs, and ensuring that sheep do not get separated from the flock Under the shepherd’s care, the sheep are responsible for surviving and growing, producing wool, sustenance, and more sheep A good shepherd guides and protects every sheep in the herd because they all have value As demonstrated in the parable of the lost sheep, a good shepherd leaves the entire flock to go searching after the sheep that has gone astray, since all of the shepherd’s sheep have great value to him (Matthew 18:10 14)

Just as much now as back then, we need to rely on our source of protection and guidance to keep us away from the physical, emotional, and spiritual dangers that we face We need someone who can see the bigger picture, someone who doesn’t have wool in his eyes, someone who has the capacity to take us to safe and bountiful spaces for us to grow and be safe We need the Good Shepherd We need Jesus And guess what? He’s calling out for us, calling us by our names We, as sheep in the flock, must “follow Him, for [we] know His voice” (John 10:4) We need to answer the call and follow Jesus, returning “to the Shepherd and Overseer of [our] souls” (1 Peter 2:25)

So whenever you find your heart bleating out for guidance or protection, turn your ears toward the Good Shepherd whose voice you recognize Have faith, and trot your way toward green pastures and quiet waters to refresh your soul Jesus is our Good Shepherd We, like sheep, are incapable of avoiding the world’s dangers on our own; we are defenseless and reliant on the protection of our Savior for our survival against the wolves of this world He alone guides our souls to a better life after death On Earth, we are burdened with sin that weighs us down, gets in our eyes to obscure our vision, and grows from our very pores We are totally depraved individuals in need of a good shearing God, in His infinite wisdom and love, gave us His Lamb to be our Good Shepherd, to guide us in hope toward an opportunity to enter back into an intimate relationship with Him (Revelation 7:17) A “good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep,” risking it all on behalf of their value to him (John 10:11) Jesus died on the Cross for all His “sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34) Without the guidance of our Shepherd, we would be lost or even dead due to our unprotected and aimless wanderings Shepherds today are growing fewer and fewer as this ancient profession slowly fades away Even so, we can still glean value from this metaphor and apply it to our own lives We live in a world of thieves, wolves, and harsh elements the perils of sheep These dangers have come to do nothing but steal, kill, and destroy us We encounter situations that make us lose hope, enemies that seek to bring about our downfall, and even Satan himself, who tries to steal our souls through idolatry and deviance from our journey toward God We are still sheep today; we continue to wander aimlessly without a guide, indulging in the poisons that pass under our noses We are hungry to fill the voids in our stomachs and can become impatient, grazing before we reach the green pastures and suffering the consequences People in the past were stubborn to look up to the Good Shepherd and follow His way, and now is no different We still think we will wander there on our own We can’t 18

SARAH SHIN our first memory is his sticky hand His fingers are so much smaller than yours, his smile so much gummier On Saturday mornings after pancake breakfasts, the both of you sit in front of the living room television, him on your lap He smells faintly of diapers and baby powder, and you have never been more enamored with milky teeth and staticky hair Titus, you ask, what do you want to watch today? His lips form a circle, an exaggerated O, as he spreads his arms Moon, he laughs Titus always wants to see the moon, and lucky for you, you always want to see the moon too So you grab the remote, flip through the listings, and settle on Interstellar, which you ’ ve already watched dozens of times Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God Psalm 90:2 NASB

You learn about the acronym “SIDS” when Titus is almost a year old His first birthday party is around the corner, and your mother has spent euphoric days at craft stores, collecting blue balloons, streamers, and paper plates for cake slices There’s a baby monitor in his room every night, and before your father reads you your bedtime stories, you like to look through the fuzzy screen of the monitor and listen to Titus babble himself to sleep Except on this warm summer night, his arms are tight against his sides, he’s turned onto his back, and his little face is bright in a slice of moonlight It makes his features look icy, as if his eyes and lips and nose and eyelashes are frozen in time Mom, you say, he looks like a little statue She glances at the monitor, looks away, then turns back again Your parents both sprint to his room, the fuzzy screen floods with light before your eyes, and Titus is on his back in his crib, always looking out the window, his gaze fixed on the pale, pockmarked moon In high school, you spend too many evenings looking up at the sky from the roof of your house The feeling of your little brother on your lap on Saturday mornings has been fading away as the years pass, and even when you close your eyes and try to remember, all you see are the lights on the insides of your eyelids Memories pick and choose which details to keep and which details to discard You don’t remember the shape of his smile, the sound of his voice, but you do remember the shape of his little coffin When you were younger, it seemed unfair that people could die when they were asleep, like nothing even mattered, like they didn’t even have to say goodbye, like they could just close their eyes and turn over and give up for no reason But now, you wonder if Titus’ obsession with space helped him to travel through the atmosphere, maybe swim through the silent seas on the moon ’ s surface You wonder if he paused before he left the cushioned air of the earth, if he looked back at you before he stepped into that black hole You major in astrophysics On the subway home after your last final exam of senior year, you sit next to a grizzled man with white hair poking past the edges of his ears He has a weathered NASA baseball cap on his head, and his eyes are a dark, piercing black He’s reading paperback Isaac Asimov with inky squiggles underlining sentences and dog eared pages So, you like space? you find yourself asking He glances up, eyes grazing the backpack around your shoulders and the bags under your eyes Student life during finals week: too little sleep, too much coffee, too much misplaced hair gel You look like death, you ’ re well aware And you probably smell something close to death too, judging by the way his brow furrows under his cap Like space? I live space. You find his reply interesting, yet vaguely elitist, like the kids who wear ties to class But then he continues, You know, I went to space. You did? It seems unbelievable. But his eyes feel like they’re boring into your soul with their intensity. Your feet start sweating in their sneakers. Ancient of Days

It should be boring, watching it again, but there’s the soft, warm weight of your baby sibling on your legs, there’s the swell of orchestral rhapsodies in your eardrums, there’s the expansive, inexplicable mass of the solar system filling your retinas, while you and Titus grip each other’s palms and slip through the untold black gaps between the stars

Y 19

It made me wonder how we can stand in this doorway, in this insignificant room that we call life, and not believe in something more In something outside of time and space In something powerful enough to grasp this universe, shaping it, moving it, holding it in the palm of a hand There are shivers wracking your frame at his words You stay silent, slouched a little in your seat now, and before your eyes, there’s the blur of the tunnel beyond the subway window It shakes you a little, imagining someone you haven’t thought about in a long while the feeling of a small fist in your hand, a warm presence on your lap Maybe, you think to yourself, he’s somewhere in the ether Maybe, you think to yourself, there was someone waiting for him on the other side of that black hole, larger than the limitations of the universe, reaching out to take him home And something settles over you that feels a lot like peace


Yeah, worked at NASA and everything. Could never get enough of space. I watched the 1969 moon landing on TV when I was eight years old, and I knew from that moment that I wanted to be an astronaut. His eyes lose their focus on your face, and as the minutes pass in silence, he looks out the subway window at the blank tunnel wall.

What was it like? Like something out of a movie You know that movie Interstellar? Yeah, you know that movie Interstellar You feel like you catch a whiff of baby powder just thinking about it But you just nod At some point in that movie, they say that if you get close to a supermassive body’s gravity, well, time will slow down And you sit there, and you look back at the earth, at all of the blue and green, and maybe there’s a picture of someone in your pocket, like a loved one that you haven't seen in a while, and you wish, maybe, that you could stay there forever, suspended in this weird limbo between time and space and matter And you know, it made me think about things that I hadn’t before Like how we can look back at this earth, this little blue and green blob, in the middle of a tiny solar system in the middle of a tiny galaxy in the middle of a galaxy cluster in the middle of a supercluster in the middle of an ever expanding, ever changing, ever eroding universe, and think that we are nothing more than a speck of dust?

JOSH ANUMOLU hen we say that God is spirit, we are not referring to the third person of the Trinity Yes, one of the three persons of the Trinity is “the Holy Spirit,” but we are referring to the fact that one of God’s attributes is that He is a spirit spirit by nature in essence immaterial and cannot be contained or considered to be physical or material; rather, He transcends them in the spiritual world, in a mysterious way that we cannot understand While God is a being, He is not a human being God has reason, morality, consciousness, and self consciousness In fact, the Bible speaks to the idea that these attributes find their ultimate expression in God But the spirit ness of God presents a fundamental dilemma for humans in relating to Him How can humans relate to God at all? If God is spirit and humans are physical, how can we relate to each other? How can man know God? How can our existences ever intersect?

The whole of the Bible and Christianity with thousands of years of history and philosophy is dedicated to delving into this question, but for starters, it is essential to know who man is Christian and biblical doctrine teaches us that humans are not solely physical, but that part of what it means to be human is to have a rational soul, which is spiritual In the creation account of Adam in Genesis 1, Jewish/Hebrew scholars have pointed out that Adam’s name comes from the Hebrew המדא (adamah), a noun meaning “ground” from its reddish color (Strong’s #127), as Adam was brought forth from the earth and his blood was red This implies that to be human is to be physical and biologically living And the first syllable of Adam's name comes from āleph, which has connotations of being animal like (it's closely related to the word eleph, meaning ox) Yet the verb DMH, of which Adam's name is also composed, means to think clearly contrasted with the natures of animals and inorganic matter Adam, whose name literally means man, connotes that to be human is to have a physical body combined with a rational soul

John 4:24 God is Spirit

And as the Athanasian Creed affirms, speaking about Jesus: “Although He is God and human, yet Christ is not two, but one He is one, however, not by His divinity being turned into flesh, but by God's taking humanity to Himself He is one, certainly not by the blending of His essence, but by the unity of His person For just as one human is both rational soul and flesh, so too the one Christ is both God and human "

So through Jesus the fundamental paradox that arises from a God who is spirit is resolved! It is only through Christ who is both fully man and God that all things can be reconciled to God In John’s Gospel we read the following exchange between Jesus and someone who was marginalized as a woman (gender), a Samaritan (ethnic, racial, cultural), and a serial adulterer (religious).

God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15 BSB) Jesus is our High Priest, the one through whom we access and relate to God Christ is the representative of righteousness for all mankind, and for those who specifically approach God in His name, we have the confidence of being granted pure standing and of our requests in His name being granted (Zechariah 3, 1 John 5:14) As Christ is described, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation: for by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or rulers, or authorities all things have been created through Him and for Him He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:15 17 NASB)

I'm glad you asked

The answer lies in Jesus Christ’s dual nature Jesus Christ God the Son, the divine Logos became incarnate when He was conceived in the Virgin Mary, yet prior to that event in the human timeline, He did not have a human nature Christians celebrate Christmas because of the miracle of the incarnation the second person of the Trinity assuming humanity in addition to divinity

W 21

The aforementioned question and the difficulty it poses is also why the incarnation and works of Jesus Christ are wonderful and paradoxical beyond belief. The fundamental tension between God and us are in part metaphysical; how can a non physical, eternal, spiritual holy being relate to physical, temporal, carnal, and yes, sinful beings?

Transcendent and immanent Creator yet not created He is time sensitive and conscious yet eternal Oh, to know the fullness of You, oh LORD! Your ways are beyond me show me who You are! Knowledge of You is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it inspired by Psalm 139

Virtually all religions prescribe certain methods and means of worshiping God locations, music styles, languages, prayer content, liturgies There are so many options, dogmas, religions, and traditions out there that contradict They can’t all be right And it’s just overwhelming! Many people can understandably be turned off from religion However, to turn away from the pursuit of God is illogical especially because God has done so much to make Himself accessible! Because God is spirit, He transcends man ’ s desire to put Him in a physical box If God is spirit, then He is not limited by any physical medium New age movements and many eastern worldviews perceive this in part, yet their folly is to not address other aspects of who God is truths evident about Him that limit the range of potential instituted methods of reaching Him How does Jesus approach this issue? Jesus does not confine worship of God to specific music styles or methods or liturgies Instead, He says that all worship of the Father that is in the Holy Spirit and is truthful to the reality of who He is is valid and acceptable to God as worship This is not a relativistic expansion to all religions Those who do not accept the divinity and message of Jesus of Nazareth are not abiding in the truth, do not have the Holy Spirit, and their worship is not acceptable to God because they reject the central truth claim about God and His message to us (John 5:37 40) At the same time, as God is spirit and not physically bound, He can be worshiped and accessed from any physical location and state He is utterly beyond what our mind can conceive, for our minds cannot understand the higher dimensions of the spiritual world As the heavenly realms of the angels still marvel at God’s ways and so deeply desire to understand the mystery of His grace, He will also be beyond our full understanding His spirit ness is utterly mystical It also gives space for mysticism

"Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but You say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship ” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth " John 4:20 24

If someone felt disconnected and distant from God it was her!


As Gilbert K Chesterton noted in The Ethics of Elfland, the whole magic of "fairyland" is that it presents itself to us as it is Neither the reader nor Cinderella have any say in the fact that her carriage turns into a pumpkin at midnight It’s strange, weird, wild, mystical, and awesome What is beyond our comprehension? Spiritual stimuli to our physical senses? It is something that we fear, remain in awe of, and simply rejoice in The attribute of physicality is tied up in a whole host of other characteristics; as opposed to being physical, God’s spirituality is a beautiful and wonderful aspect of who He is and is fundamental to every other attribute This is fitting in light of the reality that God inhabits the fullness of each of His attributes He’s beyond you, yet also within you

Like the bright shining sun, you can’t see Him directly He’s too pure but you can see Him through shadow, and it's through His light you see all From beyond time, He swoops in and touches our time Self existent, I AM I AM, the one who IS, first and foremost, not defined or contained by any specific action He is being, and bestows the gift of being upon all He is God He is Spirit

ELLIE SHUERT “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” Revelation 1:8 I

am a children’s chapter book with pitifully short chapters that don’t have all that much to say really how do I fit into Your eternity? Time is the only language I understand for the moment trusting a finite alphabet to speak all wisdom to me if only I read more I hate that I seem to trust convention yet rub my eyes at miracles but You use befores and afters too so why can’t I understand I count seconds into minutes as high as I can go and still I can’t find a stretch of time where I matter just on my own I write past commas as if they give me more time than I'm allotted and more words than I’m allowed to fill spaces where I should be breathing I need more time less breaks but it’s futile trying to quantify my existence wouldn’t I have found some success by now if it were possible maybe more time isn’t the answer I feel like I’m already going as fast as I am able God give me a greater history than the one time writes for me For You are the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, needing no cause to exist in and of Yourself and the one towards which and through which all history will be resolved You are Creator and Master over time, omniscient over past, present, and future At these words I can slow down and contemplate eternity because to You it’s not a mystery, because an ending is not rushing toward me, just the ending of sin and pain and death You are my beginning and ending, a never ending epilogue to a short life on this earth I glory in the knowledge that from You came this patience, bestowed upon me like a gift or a crown, through You I am royalty, and to You I offer up every overflowing, impounding thought because I will never surprise or overwhelm You Every path points back to You like spokes on a wheel All creation sings Your praises like birdsong, and that’s a better tune than anything I could write for myself, even with all the time in the world Your eternity makes You God, and as Your child, that makes me something too


The Alpha and The Omega

Let us first consider the folly of placing hope in a god that changes The prophet Isaiah describes a man who takes part of a tree and uses it for a fire, then takes the other part and fashions an idol (Isaiah 44:15) Yet the tree itself needed rainwater for its nourishment (Isaiah 44:14), and the cutting tool used to create the idol likewise needed to be created (Isaiah 44:12) The man then bows before the idol made of perishable materials and without even a hint of life and declares, “Deliver me, for you are my god!” (Isaiah 44:17) Isaiah notes that the idolater is without “knowledge or discernment,” as well as “deluded” (Isaiah 44:18 20) By his unrighteousness he suppresses the truth (Romans 1:18), and he is given over to destruction for worshiping and serving “the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!” (Romans 1:25) Men and women throughout the ages have believed in mutable gods The deities of ancient Greek mythology were constantly squabbling with one another; some were consumed by their own fathers, and others attained divinity by their good deeds. In our own day, Mormon cosmology posits that God the Father was once a human who reached exaltation via moral excellence “As man now is, God once was, ” said Latter Day Saint church leader Lorenzo Snow “As God now is, man may be " Unlike idols of metal and wood, the living God has life in Himself He has no need of a Creator He was, He is, and He always will be This truth is glorious news for His people, who have been promised adoption to Himself “according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:5 6) God is not like men, who waver on their commitments in response to inconvenience, weakness, or changes of mind and heart Rather, God’s gifts and callings are irrevocable on the perfectly sufficient basis of His promises “I the Lord do not change,” God says “Therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6) Sinners in need of a Savior are consistently reassured by the immutability of Jesus Christ The Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God and Son of Man, truly divine and truly human lived a perfect life, died on the Cross, and rose to life three days later Today, He is seated at the right hand of the Father Almighty And therein is our life: “hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3) In His resurrection, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is therefore “able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25) He is “ a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain” (Hebrews 6:19) Christians gladly and wholeheartedly affirm that Jesus is the only way to salvation Sinners can be reconciled to God by grace alone Jesus Christ is God, and He promises, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out” (John 6:37). Despite our weaknesses, temptations, and indwelling sins, the Good Shepherd will bring all of His sheep into the fold He lacks no power to do so, and He has promised irrevocably to finish the good work He has inaugurated in His people Our salvation rests not in ourselves if it did, we would have already been lost. “I hang by a thread,” said Puritan minister Samuel Rutherford, “but it is of Christ’s spinning ”

Edward Mote

The Immutability of God BEN ZEISLOFT

Repent of your sins and cling to Jesus He never changes, and He will never fail you G My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus' blood and righteousness I dare not trust the sweetest frame But wholly lean on Jesus' name On Christ the solid Rock I stand All other ground is sinking sand All other ground is sinking sand

Because God is immutable He does not change Believers can laud the immutability of our God in many respects For one, God has an unchanging life (1 Timothy 6:16) For another, God has an unchanging character (James 1:17) These truths are precious and worthy of great consideration Yet for those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, the immutability of God is the guarantor of our coming salvation the unwavering assurance that He who began a good work in us will indeed “bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6)


od the Creator of the cosmos is wholly sufficient within Himself God needs no creature to satisfy Him or provide Him with anything However, God willingly places Himself into debt with His creatures particularly with His covenant people, whom He has promised to save through His mercy and grace How can we be assured that God will keep His promise?

All of time both begins and ends with a marriage

1 y the time this piece is published in print, I will have been married for several months My fiancé and I are both in our very early twenties, just about to graduate college and I am certain that some of my readers may count our decision to marry at this point in our lives as very strange, if not outright crazy Why settle now, when we both still have so much life to live, so many new people to meet and date, and so little practical experience? Why put my single years to rest so prematurely and lay down my mantle of complete freedom when my adult life has really only just begun?

I think that such anxieties arise only from the notion that marriage is an unpleasant burden to bear for the sake of familial and societal stability; or even that it’s a restrictive, antiquated creature, which is only still around because we haven’t yet been able to fully replace the shackles of lifelong monogamy with the sexual liberation of either serial monogamy or sleeping around. Or perhaps, on top of all this baggage, marriage oppresses the women who get roped into it Why, if marriage is so confining, would an educated, modern young woman commit to it?

The familiar Genesis narrative in which Adam and Eve are united as one is of course placed in the very beginning of the biblical narrative: soon after his creation, Adam realizes that there are no other creatures like him, and so he seeks the “bone of [his] bones and flesh of [his] flesh” (Genesis 2:23b) [1]. The text depicts the Lord God forming Eve from Adam’s own rib, and thus, the first marriage is established, as indicated by the following verse: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24) In the very act of Creation, then, the Lord had marriage in mind, a union closer than any other earthly union husband and wife becoming one flesh and the only one unarguably depicted as being established before the fall of man into sin in Genesis 3 All the things we know were set in motion by this beautiful union, just as time as we experience it was created in the same fell swoop as God created everything. However, the fallen world as we know it was set into motion by their sin and because of this sin and the resulting death, the world needed a gracious Savior

AVERY JOHNSTON [1] Note that whether or not one believes there to have been an actual historical Adam and Eve, the broader point still stands that the Lord’s Word marks, at leastmetaphorically,thebeginningoftimewithawedding


B And so Jesus Christ, in complete, utter, self giving submission to God the Fathe died on the Cross and rose from the dead in great triumph over the same deat which the first couple caused and which we every day partake in through our ow sin and so we can be forgiven In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus says of Hi coming crucifixion, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39b; emphasis supplied) Thi wondrous sacrifice and Christ’s eventual victory are not the end of the Lord narrative of creation to redemption, however Jesus promises that He will one da return and establish His Kingdom on earth in renewal of all His creation Th Church’s relationship to her Savior is one of complete and utter devotion, just a Jesus Himself was devoted to the will of the Father in Gethsemane It is one o abnegation and love; in fact, it is as a marital relationship

Jesus Christ, Our Merciful Bridegroom… An Eternal Wedding Feast for the Ages

There are many sections of the New Testament in which the writers some of Jesus’ , g y y p refer to the Church’s relationship with her Lord as a marital one [2] For instance, when asked why Christ’s followers did not fast, His response was that it would not be appropriate for them to fast while the Bridegroom Himself was with them in the flesh (Mark 2:19, Luke 5:34 35, Matthew 9:15) Jesus also expressed several parables in terms of the marital relationship [2] It is also significant that there is similar language even in the Old Testament, in which Israel in her sin and disobedience of the Lord is called whoredom (see Ezekiel 16 and much of Hosea, especially chapters 1, 2, and 4, as well as Isaiah 62 for more marital language) His people turned their backs on the Lord Godandinsteadworshipedfalseidolsandothergods,asanadulterousspouseturnstheirbackontheirhusbandorwifeandengagesinrelationswithanother manorwomanwithwhomtheyarenotincovenantalrelationship

When our Lord Jesus returns, therefore, our relationship with Him will be fully consummated; we, His Bride, will be made new, washed oh so mercifully clean of our sins, and therefore put into perfect union with Him, just as a bride is completely united to her earthly husband Revelation 19 illustrates this wonderfully: A beautiful, eternal wedding feast… if wedding feasts on this earth are so full of rejoicing, love, and devotion, imagine how breathtaking how infinitely moving! the feast of marriage to our eternal Bridegroom will be. How romantic this notion makes all of life we are humbly awaiting the return of our glorious, kingly Groom, and we can strive to live in a manner which honors Him in His fleshly absence from us, just as married women strive to please and honor their husbands This is the conclusion of the biblical narrative; it is the telos toward which the rest of time drives To think that the Son of God loves us as the perfect Husband oh, how much we should yearn to love Him as well! Please, in Your great mercy, help us to love You more deeply, my God, that we may enjoy Your sweetness forever

This relationship is wonderful because it is a relationship, meaning that it is a two way street Moreover, it gives both parties the opportunity to love their spouse more than themselves in the way that is applicable to their respective natures Wives indeed are called to submit to their husbands as they do to their Savior, and husbands are likewise called to love their wives as their Savior loves them All I wanted for a very long while was to be successful on the world’s terms I wanted to be as independent as possible, to divorce myself from any authority especially male authority and to make a great name for myself I learned very quickly that this way led to personal misery. Not only was I striving to throw off the identity which the Lord had given me as a woman, and therefore as one called to submit, but I was also striving to please everyone but Him and so always, always failing. I came to love Christ, and began to recognize my proud heart Now, out of the kindness of my God, the greatest desire of my heart is to learn to love Him more and one of the most significant ways I can do so is by loving, and so respecting and submitting to, my earthly husband This is not because he abuses me or because I think that I as a woman am less than a man in the sight of the Lord, but because I want to live in imitation of my precious, precious Savior, who obeyed God the Father to death on the Cross Further, we as Christians especially as Christian women ought not to desire earthly authority I want to live this way in the full expectation that Jesus will one day return and become our eternal Husband how endlessly wonderful is our abiding Beloved As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you Isaiah 62:5 26 "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns Let us rejoice and exult and give Him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure" for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb" Revelation 19:6b 9a Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept But at midnight there was a cry, "Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him ” Matthew 25:1 6

He says, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come ” (Matthew 22:2 3), and:

The five wise virgins are let into the wedding feast, but the five foolish virgins are not, as they could not arrive in time due to their untrimmed lamps Such parables urge one to be faithful to our Bridegroom, because if we too are like the five foolish virgins and neglect to love and believe in our Lord, we will not be permitted into His wedding feast as His holy Bride

As if this truth of boundless beauty could somehow be made yet more miraculous, we have an earthly representation of this divine union in the one flesh union of marriage between a man and a woman, established in the very beginning of biblical time It is not only the one flesh, self giving nature of the earthly marital relationship which signifies the relationship between Christ and His Church, but it is also the nature of this interaction That is: both parties man and woman are called to live out the roles of Christ and the Church, respectively, in marriage This means that a husband is a sort of mirror of Christ in that he loves his wife faithfully and without condition, and a wife is a sort of mirror of the Church in that she obeys and submits to her husband (just as the Church obeys and submits to Jesus out of love for Him)

Upon first hearing this teaching, many misunderstand it to be despotic, or at least anti woman and I don’t deny that it is often a difficult pill to swallow for Christians, non Christians, and the questioning alike but I hold that it in fact could not be more beautiful and gentle of a teaching Ephesians 5:22 24, for instance, commands this: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the Church, His body, and is Himself its Savior

Now as the Church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands,” but Ephesians 5:25 27 also commands this: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the Church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish ”

For more information or to find out how to get involved: | Instagram @pennepistle 2022 Penn Epistle All rights reserved God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM ” And He said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you ’” Exodus 3:14