Once upon a Tree: Answering the Ten Crucial Questions of Life

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Have you seen the Cross? . . .Have you felt its splintered beams? Have you heard its call? Have you grasped its peculiar teachings of death and life and love and hope? Have you heard the man nailed against its rough grain call your name?

Once in a great while, a writer paints a picture with words that leaves you breathless. On rare occasions, an author captures the sights, the sounds, the scandal of a premier historical event and impresses them upon your heart. Master teacher ...

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2002 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. New Hardcover print: DEN Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 214 p. Signature. Audience: General/trade.

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2002 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. New. New Hardcover print: DEN Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 214 p. Signature. Audience: General/trade.

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Once Upon a Tree

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Overview

Have you seen the Cross? . . .Have you felt its splintered beams? Have you heard its call? Have you grasped its peculiar teachings of death and life and love and hope? Have you heard the man nailed against its rough grain call your name?

Once in a great while, a writer paints a picture with words that leaves you breathless. On rare occasions, an author captures the sights, the sounds, the scandal of a premier historical event and impresses them upon your heart. Master teacher Calvin Miller has done all this and more in this signature book on the mysteries and meanings of the Cross of Christ.

If you think you have already seen the cross, heard its story, and know its meaning, this book will change your mind. It will do more than that; it will transform your life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
If Christian readers can survive the first few dark chapters of this book, a substantially revised version of a previous publication, they will be rewarded with some wonderful insights on deepening their commitment to Christ-like living. Miller, a best-selling author and Baptist professor of preaching and pastoral studies, puts the crucifixion front and center in this book, and does not shy from using vividly violent imagery to describe the bloody act. His writing is sometimes incoherent and choppy, but it improves toward the end, and its tone is always passionate and sprinkled with poetry from his personal journals. The book's unfortunately pretentious subtitle refers to what Miller labels the 10 "fearsome doctrines of our lives." These are a seemingly arbitrary list of topics: human meaning, salvation, grief, the need for community, betrayal, accountability, death and dying, self-sacrifice, pain and transcendence. Some of his best sermons come in his chapters on community (the idea that the "community of the cross" is a frontline fellowship, not a rearguard camaraderie), betrayal (we must set friends free from the necessity of being loyal just as Christ set Judas free) and dying. The crucifixion is a difficult subject to digest in book form because of its relentlessly serious nature: indeed, Miller has little patience for those who "prefer something that gently massages their narcissism with `how-to' and `fix-it' messages." His book is for evangelical Christians willing to take a difficult look at their own complacency and set it aside in favor of the lessons of the Cross. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582292571
  • Publisher: Howard Books
  • Publication date: 7/1/1902
  • Edition description: NEW
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.57 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Read an Excerpt

All I am and hope for is riveted to that one mysterious moment when history froze in focus: the Cross of Christ! At that pivot of history, time stood still. Nothing moved. In time I came upon this place, to find both excellence and shame. There Jesus' sacrifice stands embarrassingly close to my self-centeredness. There I bring my greed and beg his generosity. There I bring all my trivial whimperings and marvel again at the depths of his suffering and how far he was willing to go.

Again and again I ask myself what binds his dying to my living. The only answer is love-undeserved and unfailing: I need him. It is as if I open my thin wallet and find inside it is gorged with the treasuries of God. At the Cross, my need meets his generosity. But why should my need be of any concern to God? Why should it forge the very nails that held him to the wood? Looking upward, I realize I am being stalked by God's passionate and illogical love. I cannot lay aside my need for him, and he is incapable of laying aside his love for me.

Did he really die two thousand years ago? It seems not so. It seems he is dying now-ever dying. I daily gaze upon his Cross, and I am rebuked by my own pursuit of ease. I cannot place Good Friday in the distant past. Good Friday is last Friday, next Friday, every Friday. I must daily die to self and live for Him. I must count on its continuing glory; I must repeatedly reckon with its demands.

I never find much of a crowd at Calvary. Most of the time, Jesus and I are alone there-just the two of us. The centurion, the Pharisees, the thieves, the bystanders-they all disappear and leave us engrossed in our ongoing conversation. We are host to each other in a dialogue of spirit that makes life possible. At such moments the two of us do not spin out stale philosophies. Rather, we despise them, for we see their lack of substance. In beholding him as he is, I cringe at what I am. But he assures me that even with all my self will, I remain valuable to God. "Behold my hands," he says, "and you will know how great is your value unto my Father." Dear God! Was there ever love like this! Here is Jesus-my Emmaus love-and I confess that my heart burns within me even as we talk (see Luke 24:32).

"Come, Jesus," I say, "let me see your dying etched on my conscience of convenience. Your Cross is not confined to the past. Were those in the crucifixion crowd your only contemporaries? Nonsense! I too am your contemporary. The Cross is now…now…while I must minister to a new widow locked in the trauma of grief. While your life ebbs away on your cross, she begs me to give her one good reason for going on with her own life. There you hang while all that bloody wood presides quietly over an embittered couple whose bitterness has yet to be crucified. Their marriage will not survive if they refuse to walk out of their dark tomb. It is even now being sealed against them."

All of life is packaged in suffering, and its package is severe. His dying is my treasure, for it shows me the "how and why" of my own dying-and of my living, too. On we talk, hanging side by side, cross to cross. I turn to him and admit that I, too, am crucified (Gal. 2:20). Wise living is possible only when I remember that my death is hurriedly approaching. My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle (Job 7:6). How honest is the psalmist: "[Lord,] teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Ps. 90:12 NIV).

I know my days are precious, because they are few. My cross-to-cross talking with Jesus, therefore, must come not only on Good Fridays, but on Bad Tuesdays as well. Indeed his Cross is my everyday business. And I am glad my days are few, for every sunset tells me life is brief and I must long for a more eternal fellowship. At these rare moments of confronting the brevity of my life, I know a "crossly" brotherhood with Jesus; I glory in the fellowship of his sufferings (Phil. 3:10). For only when the two of us have died together will the both of us live on-past the sunset markers of my tiny years. He has died! My longings shall at last sleep in the security of his resurrection. For my dying Savior has taught me that only his victory over death can save. This is my confidence. God is the manager of my mortality. I may live the dying life in confidence. I know that all my affairs are in good hands. Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.

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Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction
The Nail That Holds All - The Cross and the Issue of Meaning
The Wood of the New Agreement - The Cross and the Issue of Salvation
The Timbers of Grief - The Cross Answers Our Grieving
The Community of the Cross - God's Kingdom and Community
The Tree of Treachery - When We Are Traitors-When We Are Betrayed
The Culprits of the Cross - Answering Our Own Accountability
The Death of Death - Afraid of Neither Death nor Dying
The Dying Life - The Art of Sacrificing Ourselves
The Piercing of Pain - The Triumph of the Cross in Our Suffering
The Triumph of Transcendence - Living Here, Living Somewhere Else, But Ever Living
Notes

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2012

    Jack

    Sup man

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