Thursday, October 13, 2011
On to the lynx. . . . .
--This post makes me go, Duh?! But, it's something I fail at daily with my kids (and my wife). Basically, I confuse alot of people. I confuse them often. :) I need to grow in this area. But, strictly from a parenting perspective, this is gold, although it should be obvious.
--Steve Jobs died while I was in Africa. It was interesting hearing the reaction from there. I certainly respect his technological genius.
Some reports are coming out about the way he led his company, though. And, they hit a little close to home with me, since I've been under leadership like this before. I think it's silly basically. Yes, if you're good enough (like Steve was) you get stuff done. But, at what cost? Pragmatism leads high-talent folks into some really abusive and ridiculous behaviors. Of course, it's easy to throw stones when you aren't that talented, . . and it's easy to be the armchair quarterback who hasn't accomplished much. But, when do those people (me) get a hearing? Why does achievement and success equal infallibility (in a leadership sense)? Why do super-talented people cut off their effectiveness at some level. . by shutting out dissenting voices? Most who lead this way are not as talented as Steve anyway (who was?), and still think it's the only way to do things. I just don't know why the story usually ends this way with very influential people. It doesn't have to.
--Justin Taylor has a great post about victim's mentality. I think it's really good, . . and it's coming from people who have been through alot. Controlling our thoughts and reactions to circumstances is very important. Our culture would argue with that last sentence, but the bible tells us to "test everything, hold onto the good". Why wouldn't that apply to our own thoughts? Why shouldn't we evaluate ourselves and how we're reacting to things? It's a great post.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
I find that so many parents, most notably myself, are sometimes absolutely blind to the behaviors that they, themselves, are bringing out in their kids. As parents, we can take a situation that is a 5 on the stress scale, and make it an 8 very quickly.
One of the main ways we do this is by re-directing our own "stuff" towards our kids. If we had a bad day, they're about to have a bad day. Ain't Momma happy, . . ain't nobody happy. . as the wise saying goes.
Well, if Dad ain't happy, Mom ain't happy, and the spiral spins downward. Thanks to Kevin DeYoung for the confession, and the encouragement here. This is worth 5 minutes . . .if you're a parent, you should read it.
So did you marry the wrong person? Yes you did. Embrace it and thank God for it. Her wrongness is just right in God’s eyes.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
“Faith . . . unites the soul with Christ, as a bride is united with her bridegroom. From such a marriage, as St. Paul says, it follows that Christ and the soul become one body, so that they hold all things in common, whether for better or worse. This means that what Christ possesses belongs to the believing soul, and what the soul possesses belongs to Christ. Thus Christ possesses all good things and holiness; these now belong to the soul. The soul possesses lots of vices and sin; these now belong to Christ. . . . Now is not this a happy business? Christ, the rich, noble and holy bridegroom, takes in marriage this poor, contemptible and sinful little prostitute, takes away all her evil and bestows all his goodness upon her! It is no longer possible for sin to overwhelm her, for she is now found in Christ.”
Martin Luther, quoted in Alister E. McGrath, Christian Spirituality: An Introduction (Oxford, 1999), pages 158-159.
HT: Ray Ortlund
Friday, September 16, 2011
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Some of them have lyrical issues, and I'm kind of a stickler for lyrics and for us to know what we're singing about. Recently there's been a trend in alot of corporate worship music to ask, plead, welcome, and be desperate for the presence of God. Sometimes you can tell what the author is trying to say, but other times, it's not so clear.
The problem, as I see it, with these lyrics is that they are not recognizing the glorious reality of the new covenant we have in Christ. Here are some passages of scripture that speak of the new covenant:
31 "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."
19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.
Suffice it to say. . in these and other examples, I believe scripture teaches that Christ is now here, among us, in our hearts, speaking through his Word, and active by the Holy Spirit.
Old Covenant worship was built around the Tabernacle/Temple system, and the Children of Israel could actually locate the presence of God on earth (over there in the temple). To be sure, there was an awareness of God's omnipresence:
7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
But, there was a definite sense of the place they had to go to worship God, where He would "show up", and seeking his immediate presence.
In the New Covenant, as Christians, the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts, and Jesus, who is the Emmanuel "God with us" is our advocate before God.
So, when I see songs that say, "waiting here for You. . . . desperate for You. . . come and fill this place. . . .rend the heavens and come down. . . . we welcome You with praise, etc. . . " It's hard for me to use alot of them when we sing together as the church. Because, among other things. . God is here. He is among us. We are not desperate for His presence. (if we define desperate properly. . as being in need of something). We might be desperate to recognize His Presence. . but we should say it that way, then :).
Some of these songs are quoting Old Testament Scriptures. And, that's great. . but we have to remember which covenant we're living in, and if that reality is being reflected in the lyrics.
Now, I know in most of these cases the author of the song is trying to get across the idea of asking God to "show up" in a special way, . .speak in a fresh way. . . "arrive" so that we all recognize His work, etc. . .
And, that's fine. . but we should say it that way. We should recognize that the problem is not with God being there or not being there (because He is there), but that we are not recognizing His presence and/or we are not concentrating on prayer, or on His Word, by which He speaks to us.
So, how about "Help us to hear your word today" or "We know that You're here" "thank You for your presence among us".
I know the heart behind longing for God's presence. And, to be sure, we "wait on Him" for many things and for many reasons. We do not ever "wait" for Him to arrive, though(unless we're singing about His second coming at the end of the age). And, I think, unless you take some time to explain those lyrics in the service. . it would be hard to understand them any other way. There's a sense where those songs connote "You're not here, . . please come. . . You're here now, You weren't here before". Many people have told me "I never think those things when we're singing". So, I don't want to be a stick in the mud. But, perhaps our thoughts can be as simple as "I need to hear something new from God that I can't hear until we're singing this song". That's not good either.
So, let's declare His Presence, celebrate, and wait on the Lord. . . in the context of the New Covenant; whereby He has given us His Spirit, and in Him we "live and move and have our being".
ps. a straw poll of the 5 readers of this blog. . . .would you rather me get back to blogging about silly things, or sports things. . or shall I continue to dive into technical theological matters which perhaps no one but myself is even thinking about. :)
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Like people who go to church don't see God in the sunset! Like we are these monastic little hermits who never leave the church building. . . .
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
1) I love and respect many who home school their kids. Hey, I was homeschooled for a while. But, this article shows many of the reasons I choose not to do so with my kids. This is an amazing article of wisdom for all parents, though, . .and even though it's super long, print it out and take 10 minutes to read it. It's that good. Here's a quote to get you started.
I am convinced that the most contagious parenting is living a heartfelt faith before your children.
Lots of wisdom for parents making all kinds of choices.
2) Pastor Mark Driscoll has finally launched his own site so that you have access to tons of sermons, articles, and interviews all in one site. I know Pastor Mark is a lightning rod of controversy, . . in fact that's part of the reason why they launched this site. . . so he can fully flesh out his thoughts, and not do dumb tweets and offensive blogs that other folks can do what they want with. People will be linking to his website now, and that should give some context to what he says. I think anyone would be helped by this site,. . . even if Pastor Mark is not your cup of tea. And, if you're wondering who the lovely woman is who has to put up with Mark. . . Grace Driscoll writes here too. . . an invaluable resource for the ladies. Check out her first piece on identity. Awesome.
3) If you ever went through the Experiencing God bible study. . I'd read this article. . . . a little negative, yes, but needed.
4) Oh Yeah, it's football season.
I get the daily John Owen blast in my email. It's usually a great John Owen quote from his masterpiece, "On the Mortification of Sin in the Believer", a foundational work that was life-changing for me a few years ago. (no, Mortification is not just a questionable Christian band from the 80's).
Here's the quote from a few days ago:
Let us be in an expectation of such changes of providence, that they may not be great surprises unto us. When we are in peace, let us look for trouble; when we are at liberty, let us look for restraint; and when our children are about us, let us look for the removal of them; and be content to see all our comforts in their winding-sheet every day. It is impossible but our hearts will be too much upon them, unless we keep them in this frame.--John Owen
I used to subscribe to this philosophy, because I had a season with many "changes of providence" (i.e. crappy stuff. . come on puritans!!! :) ) .
And, there is wisdom here, of lowering the bar of expectation, and "not to be surprised" by various trials, as the book of James tells us.
But, this is not the way the whole of scripture tells us to interact with the various situations and relationships in our lives. I don't think it is helpful or biblical to walk around with a Chicken Little view on things like these. . like "it's going to go wrong. . better not get used to this good thing". My dad used to rebuke me for being sort of melancholy about things going well in life. I'd say things like "well, better get ready for something bad to happen". He was right to call that out.
I feel like Owen is encouraging us to look at life like this. We've been going through Ecclesiastes in our Young Adults Bible Study, and that book is full of encouragement to enjoy life, and enjoy the things God has given us. (pretty hard to do if when we're at peace we should be "looking for trouble", or "when our children are about us, let us look for the removal of them", yikes).
For sure, in America we are too attached to our stuff. No argument there. But, the solution to that is not to always expect the worst. We should hold loosely to things, and not worship/idolize them. But, that's different than expecting your children to be taken from you. We need a more fully-fleshed-out theology of Joy for the Christian today. It seems the only guys that are talking about Joy in God's gifts are spouting heresy about prosperity theology and wearing a shiny blue suit. Please.
We can and should enjoy God's good gifts, while enjoying the Giver most of all. We should not walk in fear or despair at possible struggles, but take them as also gifts from God's hand. We can enjoy our car while not expecting God to give us a new one if we have enough faith.
We shouldn't stare at our navel during the guitar solo!!! Know what I mean? Enjoy the guitar solo, . . jump off the riser! (sorry musician nerd reference)
Here's some encouragement from Ecclesiastes:
Ecclesiastes 8:15b. . . ". . for man has no good thing under the sun bot to eat and drink and be joyful. . . "
Ecclesiastes 9:7 "Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, . . . "
Ecclesiastes 9:9 "Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of our vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun".
(that's all from one page of the bible. . . )
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
I used to spend quite a bit of time in this "scene" and resonate with all of his observations. Here's hoping we have alot more amazing worship leaders that get why they do what they do. . .
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Alot of people are trying to be kind and caring, and I so appreciate that. However, between some of those folks and the battles going on inside my own head, there's been some poor theology thrown around.
Now, I'm not ungrateful for caring people trying to help and getting some theological points wrong. I'm really not. . I hate the tendency to attack the care-giver in times like this when folks are really just trying to be nice.
But, one thing that I've noticed in American christianity, . . and in my own inner-monologue. . .is that we have a big problem with (enter guiding metaphor) God "losing" some battles while still winning the war. We don't have good categories for disappointment, or for plans not going like we think they obviously should. I am a big schedule guy, and so I raise my hand here.
When we're praying for details like "Let this phone call happen, . . . Help this package to go through. . help this schedule to get worked out". . . when those things are part of a larger issue like "help this adoption to be completed". . . we have to be prepared for the fact that God might have a different plan for how to "win the war" (i.e. complete the adoption) that involve different details (i.e. "losing" some battles)
It may sometimes seem like the enemy is "winning" while all of our details are getting fouled up. But, don't get it twisted. .God is working is plan out. God is at the wheel. God is currently kicking the enemy's butt all over Africa. The war is over. . it's won.
To stretch the metaphor towards football. This weekend was the classic cupcake Saturday in College Football. For instance, Ohio State played mighty Akron University. This game wasn't close. . . OSU dominated. There wasn't ever any doubt. Did Akron get some first downs? yes. Did they make a few tackles? yes. Did anyone for a second think they were winning? no.
In the same way. . the enemy got some first downs this week when all of our details got messed up. But, don't think for a second that God's sovereign will for our soon-to-be daughter's life can be thwarted. . . it can't. This game is OVER. And, God wasn't nervous. It didn't make SportsCenter.
Now, we shouldn't avoid praying for details. . we shouldn't be fatalists. But, let's just remember that God is working these things out in the ways that will be best. Romans 8:28 is not a cliche. It's the truth.
So, Let's remember
Isaiah 14:2424The LORD of hosts has sworn: "As I have planned,
and as I have purposed,
so shall it stand,
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases
It's true. The will of God is irresistible. His will will be accomplished in her life and in yours. Let's submit to Him, and get ok with "losing" (he never loses. . part of the plan. .and it helps with my metaphor) some battles while God is winning the War.
Monday, August 29, 2011
I thought I would post some songs that have been really meaningful to me lately.
This song is how I feel about my beautiful wife, Jody. . . 'nuff said.
This Shane and Shane song will make you cry, get the hankies out. But, it's a great song, and these guys do a great job. I also like the fact that they haven't changed styles at all in their 10-12 years. You can expect solid, acoustic guitar driven rock with some of the most amazing vocals you'll hear. The "other" Shane sings amazing on this one (the Shane not playing guitar). What a powerful video. . .
So, I got all fired up about this Matt Redman song . . and then screwed it up on Celebration Sunday. :) Oh well, that doesn't detract from a great worship song, penned by one of the best. What an encouragement. Thanks Matt R.!
Saturday, August 6, 2011
("let me show you how awesome I am as I take you through the part I play on this hit song as if you were a 3rd grader, and my part is so easy a monkey could play it " )
. . .this video is awesome. I like Brett Younker, we play "All Things New" at Calvary. I like his tambourine player even more. :)
If you've ever played aux. percussion in any setting, . . you know where this guy is coming from.
That is, Lewis did not believe in the false theology and caricatures of the devil that have developed over the centuries—whether through art, literature or even today's sports mascots (think Duke and Arizona State).
As Lewis explained, "There is no uncreated being except God. God has no opposite. . . . The proper question is whether I believe in devils. I do. That is to say, I believe in angels, and I believe that some of these, by the abuse of their free will, have become enemies to God. . . . Satan, the leader or dictator of devils, is the opposite, not of God, but of Michael."
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Jennifer Lopez says it took some time before she realized that she had to leave her relationship with husband Marc Anthony behind because she was “compromising” herself.
In the new issue of Vanity Fair, the singer and actress, 42, opens up about her recent divorce and why she finally realized after seven years of marriage that Anthony was not good for her.
“It’s not that I didn’t love myself before. Sometimes we don’t realize that we are compromising ourselves,” she says. “To understand that a person is not good for you, or that that person is not treating you in the right way, or that he is not doing the right thing for himself—if I stay, then I am not doing the right thing for me. I love myself enough to walk away from that now.”
Um, "compromising myself". . . . welcome to marriage. See, this goes along with my post from last week; if we look at marriage, or any relationship, as a consumeristic/transaction based thing. . . it doesn't work, and we won't be satisfied. Compromise is non-negotiable. And, I might add, we all need to compromise some things that we hold dear. No one is without things that need to be moderated, and rough edges that need to be smoothed out.
If we think the highest good is to "love myself", than we will stop loving and sacrificing for our spouse very quickly.
I don't want anyone to think that I'm rigid/cold against folks who are in a tough marriage and that I think it's wrong to say that you have "needs", etc. . that the other person isn't meeting.
Those things may be true, and that's why we have the church/Christian community to help us walk along-side each other to help our relationships through hard times, and help us to communicate well.
I just think there's a fundamental difference in the way we approach other people that we can be full with the love and acceptance of Christ. . . . . or desperately looking to the other person to fulfill needs that only God can fulfill. Those two heart attitudes make a difference in the way we would approach talking about our "needs" and loving and sacrificing for another person. Here's another link to the piece from last week.
Saturday, July 30, 2011
“Often I will illustrate the difference between a need and desire this way:
‘If you held me underwater in a swimming pool, I would fight you to the end because I need air. A need is something you cannot live without. But when you elevate desires to the level of needs, there is some form of idolatry going on, and if you don’t repent of your idolatry, that craving will wreck the relationship from which you are trying to extract that perceived need.’A common rebuttal to the ‘need theory’ concepts [in marriage counseling] is that we need love. What we really need, however, is a relationship with God; if we have that, and the relationship is right, our demands on other humans to meet our cravings for love should not be controlling. If you are resting in the gospel, you can turn the tables on all your relationship; rather than being a deficient taker, you can be an abundant giver. Rather than expecting others to meet your inordinate craving for love, you will be able to love others. You will be Christlike. He did not come here to be loved, but to serve (see Mark 10:45).”
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Without qualification, let me say. . . .every man (especially married ones) need to see this movie. It is a parable for our time. Larry shows us how to treat a woman. Larry shows us how to deal with huge loss. Larry shows us what hard work and diligence does. Larry shows us what respect and honor are. And, lest you think it's a "preach down to the guys" thing. . . . Larry is largely un-impressive, didn't go to college, and can't dress himself.
The movie also shows us the "other side" of manhood in our day. . which is the "guy, just being a guy" (see the movie) philosophy. It shows the tragedy that pornography brings to our society. And, it shows us how women really feel about pornography (regardless of what they might say). It's a great flick. The only downside I would say, is that it actually shows two examples of porn (no nudity) that are regrettable. .but I'm not sure they could've told the story effectively in any other way.
See the movie guys. . . just see it. Your wife/girlfriend will like it too.
And even if you don't like it. . .you just scored one for movies that actually have a story and are well-written, and don't rely on CGI, loud bass, and exploding Robots/Vampires/Monsters to make money (we could feel the bass from the theater next to us)
For the Ladies this week. . here's a pretty direct, blunt, but encouraging word from The Resurgence. I find there to be a lack of "straight talk" for women in our modern church culture. Of course, you talk to women in a different way then men (different post). . but it seems to me like sometimes things need to be said directly to women that are avoided. . and this piece does not do that.
Ladies, check it out.
I hope these two things are helpful to you if you're 1) a man or 2) a woman :) Besides those groups, they don't really apply.
(and if you live in the denver area and aren't going to their last tour ever. . . . you're not trying)
I'm sure there will be more random thoughts as October approaches. . .these guys were a huge influence on me. But for now, enjoy the song that changed alot of things for worship pastors and churches in our day.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
"Meagan Broussard, a 26-year-old college student and single mom from Texas, wrote onBigGovernment.com, conservative Andrew Breitbart’s site, that her relationship with Weiner began when she wrote on his Facebook page that one of his speeches to construction workers was “hot.”
“Within an hour,” she wrote, “we were sending messages back and forth.”
Broussard lost her sense of awe pretty quickly: “Talking to him was sometimes a turn-off because he was so open and just so full of himself, as if he were looking, searching for something.”
Searching for something indeed. Congressman Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, was a beautiful, successful woman (she was one of Hillary Clinton's aides), and he had risen to a level of power that most of us will never see in this life. So, what was he searching for? Why was he texting college girls?
The bottom line is that it won't be enough. Jesus is the only one who can fill our souls with the kind of radical humbling, and then radical acceptance that we need. As Tim Keller says, "we're more wicked than we ever feared, but more loved than we ever dreamed". The Gospel "speaks a better word" to us as men than any woman, or position, or success ever will.
(In fact (this is another post) we can't love our wives well, understand them at all, or accept their changing ways if we try to use them to fill some huge insecrity gap that we're struggling with. It simply won't work for us (or her). )
I know, these are the Sunday School answers. . .but they're answers that Congressman Weiner, and I, need to hear every day. Thanks be to God who has "brought us near" by the blood of His Son, Jesus.
for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me,the fountain of living waters,and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
English Standard Version (ESV)
13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility
English Standard Version (ESV)
24and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
1 John 3:1
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.
And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Thursday, June 2, 2011
God’s sense of timing will confound ours, no matter what culture we’re from. His grace rarely operates according to our schedule. When Jesus looks at Jairus and says, “Trust me, be patient,” in effect he is looking over Jairus’s head at all of us and saying, “Remember how when I calmed the storm I showed you that my grace and love are compatible with going through storms, though you may not think so? Well, now I’m telling you that my grace and love are compatible with what seem to you unconscionable delays.” It’s not “I will not be hurried even though I love you”; it’s “I will not be hurried because I love you. I know what I’m doing. And if you try to impose your understanding of schedule and timing on me, you will struggle to feel loved by me.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011
For Moms, Former Moms, and Wannabe Moms
Single woman watching your biological clock tick away, I encourage you to look today at your longings through the lens of the gospel. You don’t have to deny your longing or talk yourself into a happy attitude for all the good things you can do without kids. It’s OK to mourn the loss. God said children are a blessing. But after the fall, we do not all get to experience that blessing. The gospel makes up the difference. While you are disappointed in deep ways and that disappointment is real, you will one day sit with Jesus in heaven profoundly content with His work in you through this disappointment. In heaven, you will have no longing for something you missed. You will not be disappointed. May confidence in that hope sustain you.
Married woman experiencing infertility, I encourage you with similar words. People can be callous with their words, especially in the church. But believe in confidence that God in this very moment loves you with a deep love. You may feel estranged from Him, knowing that He has the power to give you that sweet infant that He has given so many around you. It seems like He is dangling a desire in front of you, teasing you with it. But understand that unfulfilled desire is a tool He uses to give you even better things – things of Himself that you cannot know in easy ways. Believe in confidence that this time of waiting is not just a holding pattern with no discernible value, but it too is a blessing, albeit in disguise, as it increases your strength to run and not grow weary and to walk and not to faint. Wait on the Lord, dear sister, in confidence.
And mom who fails her children regularly (because that’s everyone else), preach the gospel to yourself this day. If you have any grasp on your reality, you are likely painfully aware of every failure you’ve made with your children. And maybe you are fatigued by the fears of future failure as well. It’s okay that your children expose your own sin to yourself. In fact, it’s the mom who doesn’t seem daily aware of her failures that most concerns me. Christ has made the way for you to be at peace. If you sinned against your kids, ask their forgiveness. If you are kicking yourself for your failures, preach God’s grace to yourself. Don’t learn to live with your sin – don’t embrace it with the attitude “that’s just how I am.” But don’t deny it either. Be honest about it. You sinned. You confess. God forgives. You get up and walk forward in confidence. It’s called gospel grace, and THAT is the legacy to leave your children.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Geraldo almost cried and then he hi-fived the Retired General sitting across from him. Words failed (not that he didn't try), people at the Pentagon were "shaking" with the news.
Some were rejoicing, some were saying "burn in hell, Osama" on Facebook; others started immediately judging those responses saying that "Christians don't" do those kinds of things.
I wonder how many people who were denying an eternal Hell a few weeks ago are now wishing Osama would be there. I wonder how many people fighting against viewing God as "angry" and "punitive" are now wishing He would be so, (against Bin Laden, of course)
What's the proper response?
1) humility. Jesus talked about tragedy, encouraging those who were listening to "repent or you will likewise perish". It's a good time to confess our sins and realize that justice is coming for us as it did for Osama last week. We need Jesus to stand in the gap for us, we need to believe in Him, and then the justice meant for us was absorbed by Jesus.
2) reluctance. I'm getting to the good ones, don't worry. . . . but our attitude should, at the very least, not be quick to rejoice, pile on, or tell crude jokes about Bin Laden's belief system or what awaits him on the other side. . . . there but for the grace of God go I.
3) thanksgiving. For the mercies of Christ, for our military, for the sacrifice of those who serve to protect our country. It's appropriate to thank these men, and it's appropriate to give some of them leash (I'm going to include Geraldo here, he's spent years embedded with the forces in Afghanistan, chasing Bin Laden. . .he has pictures on his wall of guys he's traveled with who are now dead) in their celebration. We're not on the front lines, we haven't been chasing this man for 10 years. Let's let those who have. . . . . release a little bit and celebrate.
4) rejoicing. Not in the death of a man. But, the fact that justice was done to a man who is trying to kill you. . us, our children. Some are so quick to judge any who smack of being thankful that Osama is gone. As an American we can be happy that a brutal murderer has been brought to justice.
I thought President Obama was measured, firm, and gracious in victory last night. . . it was an appropriate tone, I think. And hey, kudos to him and others who have kept their eye on the ball with plenty of bunny trails at their disposal. Although I'm sure President Obama will try to reap the political rewards (and rightly so) from such a triumph, this has been a 10 year project under 2 presidents, numerous generals, and how many countless soldiers. Great job to all of them.
Yes, it's time to bring up the verses from Ezekiel about not rejoicing in the death of the wicked:
Ezekiel 33:11 (New International Version, ©2011)
Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?There's alot to say about that verse, most notably that this was Israel, God's chosen people. But, this isn't the blog post for exegesis. Let's simply balance that with Romans 13 which talks about the role of Government:
4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
Should we pile on and wish that Bin Laden would "burn in Hell"? No. Should we judge those who would rejoice in this occasion as the end of a long military mission (that they were apart of ) and that a dangerous man has been brought to justice? No.
Let's stake out some middle ground and humble ourselves under God's mighty hand, . . while at the same time being thankful that justice has been done here, our Government has done their job (as the bible outlines it), and we're safer for it.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
HT: Ray Ortlund
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Colossians 2:20-24 (English Standard Version)
20If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 "Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch" 22 referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.
Those are pretty strong words; "no value". Bottom line, rules and accountability won't ultimately help if our motivations and hearts aren't changed by the gospel, . . .and continually changed through God's Word and repentance.
This weekend was a weekend for churches to put their best foot forward, theologically, and practically, as many non-Christians were in church and it is the key weekend on the Christian calendar (we like to call it Super Bowl Sunday around here :) ) . But, all of the great methods, services, and successes in the world can't fix a sinful heart, and can't hide character flaws.
Now, none of us has "arrived" on these things. (I've sabotaged myself today a few times already. . . things coming out of my mouth crippling my effectiveness as a minister) But, simply an awareness of our folly and reluctance due to our own sin and wounded-ness is a good place to start. Then comes the oh-so-difficult ability to rejoice in others' success and find our ultimate salvation at the Cross. . . not in anything we've "pulled off" or "accomplished".
Thanks be to God for the Cross, so that we can come and lay down our desires to succeed, be right, and be liked. Thanks to the Holy Spirit, who can change us. . since there are no perfect pastors and there is no one who is ministering in the absence of any wounded-ness.
God is at work, and for us to effectively serve Him, we need to ask Him to deal with the subtle inclinations of our hearts, and yes, our character. It matters.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
I've been thinking through this dichotomy lately. We're not in the midst of easy days in the Casa De Britton. There are plenty of reasons for discouragement. Many of my friends are currently in crisis (others don't see that they should be in crisis and be broken over what's happening in their lives), and the days seem to pass quickly, sometimes without feeling like much has been accomplished. Life, it seems, is happening to us sometimes, more often than we're initiating things we want to happen.
That's where the empty tomb comes in.
We're often disappointed because God did not come through for us like we wanted Him to. Perhaps we can't have something we want. . . perhaps things are changing and we don't like it.
Making God the means to some other end will always end in disappointment. We either can't see/trust His providential reasons in orchestrating things a certain way. . . or we actually get what we wanted and aren't satisfied (which is inevitable).
Both of those responses come from seeing other things as ultimate. God is not the means to another end. He is the good news, He is the goal, He is our joy, He is the fountain.
Yes, we take joy in his good gifts, . . . just not in an ultimate way.
One of the less-discussed days of Easter week is Saturday. The day of discouragement and ambivalence. Can you imagine the disciples discouragement? Can you imagine the Kurt Cobain/despondent/Van Gogh levels of "who cares?" "there's no point to life!" "why did all of this happen, what was the purpose?" among the disciples?
But, then there was Sunday. Christ arose. Circumstances for the disciples did not change. But, their joy was back.
There will also be a "Sunday" for us, when we will be raised again to Eternal Life, and fullness of Joy, if we put our faith, and ultimate desire/hope in Christ (not as a means to some other end).
That Eternal kind of life is foreshadowed now in our enjoyment of God, through Christ. Have you stopped this week to think about how awesome Christ is? How glorious the Cross is? The empty Tomb? Have you thought about how ultimate and all-encompasing "the same power that raised Christ from the dead" is? And how "that is the same power that is at work in us".
Ephesians 1:18-22 (New International Version, ©2011)
18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,
These are heart-lifting, depression-killing truths. I hope you have some time to think about them this week. There is an empty tomb. Death is conquered. The disappointments of this life will end, the struggles will end. Their power is already defeated in the cross. . we don't have to be crushed by them.
It's Saturday. . .but Sunday's comin'