Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Who's In Charge Here?

     Recently, I've been reading a book, or rather listening to an audiobook by George R. Stewart titled Earth Abides. It has, thus far been an excellent book. I dislike how the author seems to label any belief in the supernatural as, "superstition", but, nevertheless, it is an excellent and well written story.
     In the book the main character, "Ish"- short for Isherwood- is sitting in the home of his friend and noticing all of the very nice lamps, clocks, televisions, and radios that adorn the home. Ish considers that all these things are nice, but non functional due to a loss of electricity. He further considers that his friend clearly obtained the items as status symbols rather than for their functionality. 
     In this story, I saw an almost disturbing parallel in my own life, and in our culture. I thought about how many things I own simply because they were popular at the moment. I thought about how much money is spent every year upgrading cell phones. (Yeah, says the guy who typed part of this post on his brand new iPhone.)
     We see new technology, new cars, and bigger, more luxurious homes as the panacea for the void in our lives. We live in a culture built on images that lie. We see advertisements and pictures that make us feel that our worth as a person is based on what we own, rather than the truth. Do we wear the right makeup, or the right clothes? Do we have the right phone, the right car, or the right television set? If not, we feel, somehow, less than others. Are we skinny enough? Do we have enough muscles? Even our musicians and artists can see the shallowness of this way of viewing the world. They see that we have a major problem in our society with material things.  A song called Ain't No Rest for the Wicked by Cage the Elephant has lyrics that are telling:

      There ain't no rest for the wicked
Money don't grow on trees
I got bills to pay
I got mouths to feed
Ain't nothing in this world for free
No I can't slow down
I can't hold back
Though you know I wish I could
No there ain't no rest for the wicked
Until we close our eyes for good 
     You see, even the writers of this song can see the serious and flawed level of commitment in acquiring. We often can't slow down, and can't hold back any sacrifice of time, effort, or relationship with family to gain more money, more stuff, and more perceived security. 
     It doesn't take long going down this road to find that it leads to nowhere.
     That is why Christ does not call us to seek our "thrills" in possessions money. He calls us to be in relationship with him, to place him first in our lives. So often we spend our time coveting that new mobile device or car so much that our attention, even our hearts, are stolen by that new, better thing. In the end, our stuff ends owning us, rather than the other way around. This is nothing less than idolatry.
     I am often guilty of this, putting God second on third on the list, when there ought not even be a list. In those moments when we find ourselves allowing "stuff" or money to steal our hearts, perhaps, we should ask," Who's in charge here?"


Friday, September 13, 2013

Stepping in the Light

"For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light"
     -- Ephesians 5:8 (KJV)

     I am still considering the last post I wrote. There have been some tough, personal conversations happening between my family and I lately. I grew up in a very traditional church environment. Recently, my wife and I changed churches. The church we currently attend is more contemporary. My very traditional family is not taking this development well. I understand why. I had attended that church my entire life.
     Recently I have been thinking more and more that, just maybe, the Lord God has more for us than a traditional church experience. No, I'm not against traditional churches or the traditional style of worship. I do feel, though, that God has so much more for His people than sitting in a pew a couple of hours a week, listening to that good Christian radio station I know you listen to (you do right?), and going on that yearly mission trip to Africa/South America. Yes, that stuff is all good! Although, there's more to being a follower of Christ than that. I know, you felt that there had to be more. You're right, there is. 
     There is so much more to your life as a follower of Christ than just a few good deeds. We are to be the world's light, as the verse above suggests. I am discovering more and more Christ had called us to more than doing things. He has called us to live as light, to be light. Not do the things light does. Not to act like light acts when we find it convenient or satisfying. We have not been called to put on an act or pretend to be the light of the world. We have been called to live it.
     We have been called to live it even in the face of adversity. In fact, I would argue that Believers should shine most under difficult circumstances. In fact, I am quickly learning that we are called to be light in this dark world even at the cost of what we most desire. What are we willing to let go of for Christ? Are we willing to let go of these things that weigh us down and dim our light for Christ? I have learned recently that it's not what I achieve for myself or for Christ that matters most. It's what I let go of and let Christ do through me that matters most.
      To the Hebrew of biblical times light was representative of the highest, purest good. It represented God. How are we representing Him?


Thursday, September 5, 2013


      This week, I spoke with a gentleman in my community that is firmly convinced that the world will end in about three months. Now, most of the guys I work with think he is, "as crazy as a bed bug", as the old saying goes. I don't think the man is crazy, I think he is just wrong and cannot be convinced otherwise. This man holds his belief in the world's imminent doom so strongly that he has prepared underground shelters to protect himself and his family. He has invested his time, energy, mind, talents, and money into his firm belief that we are all doomed very soon.
     Now, I am not here to discuss eschatology (the subject dealing with end times and prophecy). Honestly, I have not studied bible prophecy extensively enough to have a truly informed opinion of the subject. Although, I have read through the book of Revelation many times and, to borrow a line from the film Princess Bride, "I don't think that means what you think it means". 
     I am more concerned about what you and I believe. No, I mean what we really, believe. It is easy for us to label ourselves as Christians, or followers of Christ. It is very easy for us to claim that affiliation- but do we believe it?
     This gentleman goes around our little town and tells everyone who will listen that doom is upon us. Do we go around and share the Good News of Christ in the same way? I am ashamed to say that I do not. Do we invest our time, energy, talent, mind, and money into the cause of Christ? Or are we just happy dropping a twenty in the plate as it passes by, thinking of how good we are?
     In the early church the followers of Christ were willing to die for the message of the Gospel. Are we ready to believe anything that strongly?
     Now, I'm sure someone reading this may think, "I am a Christian  but I have so much doubt in my heart. I feel like Thomas when I see how overwhelmed the church seems to be with hypocrites and judgmental people ". You are right, the church is full of those people. I will even go so far as to say that many of us are those people.
     However, doubt is not the opposite of faith. Doubt drives us to seek answers to our questions. Without doubt, apologetics, would not even be necessary. Many great men and women of God had great doubts and fears. I read once that Charles Spurgeon, that "Prince of Preachers", was often so overcome with doubt about his life's calling and the truth of the Gospel that he would fall into fits of severe depression. I think, also, of John the Baptist who, while imprisoned, sent messengers to Christ to make sure He was, indeed the Messiah.
      Faith and true belief is not the absence of doubt. It is the striving onward, the acting on, what you know is true and real even in the face of your doubts and misgivings.
      How much striving are we doing? Are we acting on our faith and belief in a risen Lord, or are we just playing Christian? The Gospel is true. Do we believe it? 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

God's Wonders to Behold

"Why died I not from the womb? Why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?"
        -- Job 3:11 KJV

Special thanks to my friend P.J. for showing me this video series!