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Posts tagged "Jim McNeely"

The Word of the Cross: A Conference Breakout Preview

The Word of the Cross: A Conference Breakout Preview

This one from conference magician, Jim McNeely. 

The time for the most wondrous conference – the Mockingbird NYC spring conference – has rolled around again, and the powers-that-be have condescended to let me come and do a breakout session! I’m going to talk about a book I’ve been writing for 3 years now called “The Word of the Cross.” I’m very excited about this material!

The Cross is our Solution?

The Corinthian church was a mess. There were divisions and theological quarrels and pride about obscure knowledge. Gross sexual sins were being tolerated. Church members were suing one another. There was idolatry, overeating…

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Hopelessly Devoted: First Peter Chapter One Verses Three Through Seven

This post comes to us from our friend, Jim McNeely.

My friend Mike Rehmet once told a story about his wife, Gina, who likes plants but apparently doesn’t have the greenest of thumbs. She brought home a new potted plant and set it on the front porch. As they were going out, he noticed the plant there, and said, “So–this is where you’re gonna do it?”

I was thinking about that story as I read this passage recently:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Chapter Thirteen Verses Forty Four Through Forty Six

This morning’s devotion comes from the great magician, Jim McNeely III. 

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” (Matthew 13:44-46, NASB)

pearlHere we have two very distinct parables with two very distinct messages: the “Treasure in the Field” and the “Pearl of Great Price.” Let’s start by getting our actors straight. In the first parable, the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure, and you and I are the man. In the second parable the kingdom of heaven is like the merchant, and you and I are the pearl. The simple observation that the kingdom of heaven is said to be like the merchant, not like the pearl, ends up being very significant, as you will see.

After years of thinking and writing about it, I am more convinced than ever that the message of the parable of the treasure hidden in the field is critical for us. It is because there was a treasure that the man sacrifices all. It is from joy that he sells all that he has. It is from a great and a true desire that he acts. The Gospel is not simply doctrinal correctness or sound theology—it is a great treasure, and once we perceive its surpassing value hidden in the scrubby field of the church, it engages our desire powerfully. We drop our self-justification projects with joy, because we have found a treasure of much greater worth. We are released from all care and worry, and we have become impossibly and eternally rich and taken care of. Of all the people on earth, we have found our way and have obtained our fortune—we are spiritual gazillionaires.

I am even more convinced that the message of the Pearl of Great Value is critical for us. The heart of the message of the Gospel is that God truly wants us. He is greedy and jealous for us. He has sold all that He had, to obtain us:

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:10-11, NASB)

Why do we call Christ’s death on the cross the “Passion?” I haven’t researched it at all and I have no idea why we call it that. But I know what passion means—it means extreme desire, reckless love, fierce devotion to the point of obsession. It means laser-like focus born of strong wanting. How does this word relate to Jesus’ death on the cross?

His love for us is an absolutely reckless and dangerous love. It is abandon-everything-else desire. It is the pearl merchant selling all he had to get that one perfect pearl. It is passion for us that led to such sacrifice. He wanted us. Badly. Enough to do this.

God is love. Not just any love. Not just idle affection. Not the gentle, detached love of a grandmother. That is a wonderful kind of love, but it is not this love. His is a passionate, reckless, die-for-you love. His is a throw-away-every-other-option love. We are His obsession. We are not His obligation, we are His joy (Heb 12:2). This is the God who is love—the God who would go to such shocking lengths on our behalf.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. Amen.

The Uncomplicated and Stubborn Love of Ordinary Grace

The Uncomplicated and Stubborn Love of Ordinary Grace

This book review comes to us from our good friend and author, Jim McNeely.

“That was it. That was all of it. A grace so ordinary there was no reason at all to remember it. Yet I have never across the forty years since it was spoken forgotten a single word.”

I recently read a novel by William Kent Kreuger called Ordinary Grace, and it set me thinking on the message of grace I so dearly love. The book is told from the perspective of Frank, who is an adult telling the story of the summer of his thirteenth year, a summer…

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Zen and the Art of Law and Gospel – Jim McNeely

Only a couple more left! This one comes to us from our esteemed conference magician:

Zen and the Art of Law and Gospel – Jim McNeely from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Hopelessly Devoted: Isaiah Chapter Six Verses Five Through Eight

Hopelessly Devoted: Isaiah Chapter Six Verses Five Through Eight

This morning’s devotion comes to us from magician and pyro, Jim McNeely.

“Woe is me, for I am ruined! / Because I am a man of unclean lips, / And I live among a people of unclean lips; / For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”

Then I heard the voice of the…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Ephesians Chapter One Verses Eighteen and Nineteen

Hopelessly Devoted: Ephesians Chapter One Verses Eighteen and Nineteen

This comes from Mockingbird Magician-in-Chief, Jim McNeely.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might (Ephesians 1:18-19)

Going to the Mountain

A couple of years ago I went with my friend Bart Shadbolt to Baker Lake, which a is an absolutely stunning glacier-fed lake near Bellingham Washington which is…

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Zen and the Art of Law and Gospel: A Conference Breakout with Jim McNeely

Zen and the Art of Law and Gospel: A Conference Breakout with Jim McNeely

I am very excited about the upcoming Mockingbird Conference! First, and possibly most importantly, I have been asked to do a few magic tricks at the conference. If you come, you will be one of the few humans ever to witness a one-time demonstration of the power of the amazing Cords of Shastri, which have been lost for over 600 years, but which have recently come into my possession. I will bring these to New York City for this one event. I repeat, this is a feat of legerdemain which has not been performed for over 600 years! I swear its…

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“All This an Illusion”: A Reflection on Determinism and Free Choice

“All This an Illusion”: A Reflection on Determinism and Free Choice

This humdinger comes from Jim McNeely:

I recently listened to episode 93 of the Partially Examined Life podcast (you can listen to it or read about it here). It is a fascinating listen; these are not rabid militant “New Atheism” people, just fun and thoughtful agnostic/atheists who love philosophy. I have found that it is where I go to get the current conversation “on the street” about important philosophical issues. In this particular episode they grapple with a problem that we have been looking at from a theological perspective for millennia — free will vs. predestination (in some ways similar to…

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Resolved to Fail: Honesty and Personal Transformation

Resolved to Fail: Honesty and Personal Transformation

Well, time for our annual skepticism of New Year’s resolutions to take off a little (despite a promise to stop – our wills are bound here!), with this timely reflection on habit-change coming from our friend Jim McNeely:

It’s New Year’s!

It’s a new year, and I’m always excited about that. This year is especially a time for me to set new directions, new career paths, new relationships, and new patterns and disciplines. However, I’ve learned about myself that the cliche can be true, that these things last only so long. You have to be careful to plan things that are doable and simple,…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Ephesians Chapter One Verses Four through Seven

Hopelessly Devoted: Ephesians Chapter One Verses Four through Seven

This morning’s devotion comes from our friend, magician and author, Jim McNeely. 

He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. Ephesians 1:4-7 (NASB)

In past…

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Another Pearl from McNeely’s Romance of Grace

Another Pearl from McNeely’s Romance of Grace

So often, we see ourselves through the eyes of the world that is constantly evaluating and judging us. What if we looked at ourselves through the eyes of God? What would we see? In his book, The Romance of Grace, our friend Jim McNeely has an uplifting, but rather scandalous answer which he takes from Matthew 13: 44-46. “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls and, upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

“If God is the merchant, what- or who- is the pearl? Here is the…

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