Saturday, August 27, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
It only takes about three followers on twitter to become a punk.Many endeavors in this life require endless self-promotion. Smart people generally realize pretty early on that doing something well is not enough - they have to make sure people see them do things well. And then it becomes very hard to separate the promotion from the reality.
But when you get a few followers on Twitter or start a blog or open a facebook account, something weird happens – you get a platform.
The problem is that platforms are such great places to “perform” from. It’s easy to just be you when no one is watching but on a platform there’s a great temptation to manufacture the best version of you. For a while, I wasn’t that concerned about it until I saw something in a familiar verse that I’d never noticed before.
In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about his famous “thorn in the flesh.” I say famous because it’s practically Christian law that you have to assume his thorn was also the exact same thing you struggle with personally. We’ve all read those verses, but what I missed was the reason Paul said he had the thorn in the flesh. Here’s what 2 Corinthians 12:7 says:
“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”
That is terrifying.
Paul just said that in order to keep him from becoming conceited God allowed a messenger of Satan to torment him. Conceit is so high on the list of things God is against that would sooner have Paul tormented by a messenger of Satan. Of the two, judo chop by Satan’s minion or Paul becomes conceited, God went with the judo chop.
I have to admit to not being good at this stuff, hence I engage in almost no self-promotion. The result is that I get told, from time-to-time that I am very good at this stuff, but.... And yet I look at my business and it has become a success through years of doing good work, word has spread - certainly not world wide, but through enough of a network to allow me to make a very comfortable living.
Do I have a "thorn in the flesh?" Oh yeah, several of them - hate them - try very hard to steer clear of them. They tend not to engage unless I get too puffed up.
The best way I have found to avoid this trap, aside from a lot of prayer - and that is a dangerous thing since God's answer to prayers for humility is to engage the thorn, is to focus on the work. Don't worry about followers, believers, "likes" or any of the rest of it. Just focus on the work. Is it right? Is it true? IS it uplifting?
So, the next time you want to count friends or hits, maybe you should proofread that post, or look up an additional reference.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Are We Dinosaurs?
A study using census data from nine countries shows that religion there is set for extinction, say researchers.Anybody want to take a stab at why I am not the least bit worried about this "study?" Come on - anybody? It's in one single phrase - "social motives behind being one."
The study found a steady rise in those claiming no religious affiliation.
The team's mathematical model attempts to account for the interplay between the number of religious respondents and the social motives behind being one.
The result, reported at the American Physical Society meeting in Dallas, US, indicates that religion will all but die out altogether in those countries.
Why is that important? Well, it's simple really - acts of God are not factored into the model. I know, I know, people come to church fro relationship, worship music, yada,yada, yada - but the point is for God to act, and act He does.
Things are going to change. God's chosen race was chosen, it turns out, not to rule the world, but simply to bring forth the Savior. The church may end up being something very different than the Kingdom. The structures we sinners have built may be replaced by others which God may put to work at something unexpected.
But God will work - of this I have no doubt. I also know it will not be as we expect.
You see, we may be dinosaurs, We may go extinct. But if we do it will be into His loving arms, and He most definitely will not go extinct.
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
But Hell is nothing to apologize for or laugh about. It's real, it's indispensable, it's just, and—but for the inexplicable and irresistible grace of God—it's precisely what I deserve.I know a pastor that believes not in hell. I attended a prayer service on 9-11-01 at which he was one of the preachers. There was something strangely odd in his presentation that day. Thousands lay dead - true evil had been committed and witnessed by millions on television. Yet he was concerned that we "not condemn."
Evil is real, even if we don't like to talk about it. Rather than face moral reality, we redefine our evil actions to make them palatable, even sympathetic. For example, we aren't addicts; we "struggle" with porn or suffer from from the "disease" of alcoholism. We don't commit adultery; we "have affairs"—or worse—"follow our heart." We don't worship idols; we have "misplaced priorities." Sins are events we "go through" rather than evils we commit.
Our reluctance to deal with the reality of evil can extend even to the most heinous acts. Recently, here at Patheos, an otherwise thoughtful and insightful blogger equated the "religious right" with violent jihadists—the kind of people who shoot babies in the face then kill their mothers as they cradle the remains of their dead child; the kind of people who strap bombs to the bodies of mentally handicapped children and send them to American checkpoints; the kind of people who rape women and then tell them the only way to restore the family honor is to blow themselves up in a restaurant. How can a Christian writer make that comparison? By reducing the unspeakable horror of Jihad from the utter depravity that it is to the simple equivalence of "imposing their worldviews on others."
So what happens in such a case? Evil does not cease to exist - it is given reign.
We need hell if for no other reason than to realize that there is evil, and most importantly in us.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Knowing and Not Knowing
Throughout the history of public theological debate, there was one constant—those debates only took place between a few select people—Moses, Plato, Augustine, Aquinas, and so on—who gained respect through a lifetime of scholarship.Joe says it's why he does not write about theology - this is reason why not to write about a lot of things.
Yet Facebook and Twitter do not encourage this kind of self-restraint. In fact, they encourage an opposing value system. Social media relentlessly asks us to publish our personal opinions on anything and everything that happens. There is no time for reflection in prayer, no place for discussion with other flesh and blood image bearers, and no incentive to remain silent.
We convince ourselves that by answering the questions social media asks us we are standing for truth alongside the great leaders of the church, but slowly and subtly as we respond to the prompts of our phones rather than our Bibles we begin to worship the false gods of immediacy, distraction, and celebrity in the Temple of Lord Zuckerberg. If you don't think the value system of technology affects you, ask yourself, If it was 2003 and some author wrote some book questioning some doctrine would I have felt compelled to publish my thoughts?
The result is that a million heresy charges isn't cool any more. You know what's cool? A billion heresy charges.
There is an accompanying phenomena that troubles me. The idea here is that genuine thought and expertise will be recognized in the crowd and rise to the top. But so often it is technique that is recognized and not expertise. Thus someone that knows technical means to get links and be read rises tot he top, even if what they write is drivel. Likewise someone who writes in an entertaining fashion, even if what they write is drivel, often finds a measure of success that eludes many with much more meaningful to say.
Blogging, et. al. has resulted not only in a lowering of publishing standards, but in a lowering of consumer standards. In removing the role of study and criticism from the consumption of written material, we are left subject to the whims of "popularity." It is true that this role of filtering what we consume has been abused in recent years, often filtering out much that is good for the sake of advancing an often wrong ideology. But now what we consume is often not just wrong - it is mindlessly wrong.
Yet the freedom this technology creates is a good thing at its core, provided, getting back to Dyer, we work to elevate ourselves. Are we seeking to be better people? Is our writing an exploration as opposed to an expression? Are you in prayer and study?
You should be.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Do We Always Answer?
We may at times be unemployed,How many of us fail to answer the call? Even when unemployed we seem to be too busy, or too preoccupied, or just flat out unwilling.
but no one ever becomes uncalled.
Os Guiness in “The Call”
Even worse, we keep trying to work out our call, but never quite figure out what it is - which means we never really have to do anything. In my experience, the only way to actually figure it out is to do something - just get busy. The "right" thing will eventually show up.
I think it matters much less what we do to serve the Lord, and much more that we simply do it. The key is the word "service." Let's face it, God can get things done on His own - he does not need us to do things - but we do need to "serve." It puts in the proper place and the proper perspective.
If we are willing to serve, then we are sufficiently malleable to allow God to make us into who we are truly supposed to be.