Saturday, March 14, 2015
Friday, March 13, 2015
What Are God's Wonders?
Psalm 105 begins with a call to praise the Lord (v. 1). It adds that we should sing praise to him (v. 2), rejoice (v. 3), and seek his face (v. 4). Then we come upon an imperative that governs the rest of this lengthy psalm: "Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced" (v. 5). The final 40 verses of this psalm do just this, reciting God's faithfulness in the history of Israel.I have also been told I need to get into nature to appreciate God's wonders. Likewise the great art museums of Europe. I have personally wondered at God when coming to understand the operation of the atom. I could go on.
...Howard is ready to trust God even more. "Inevitably," he writes, "such a review overwhelms me with God's faithfulness, and makes my current bad patch no huge problem—at all—for Him."
He sums up the value of remembering God's wonders in this way: "All history—world history, Holy History, church history, plus your personal history and mine—tells us that God is dependably loving and good. You can rest your weary bones in that fact!" How true! Thanks be to God.
I am forced to ponder the precise nature of God's "wonders." The simple fact of the matter is that all of creation and all of history is a wonder of God. That's part of what makes the word "wonder" to describe things just perfect. You see, its not about what is being observed, but about the attitude of the observer.
What do you wonder at? The more you wonder at, the more you are attributing that thing to God and the more He then becomes Lord of your life. The more you attribute to God, the more reliable He becomes, for the more you attribute to Him the more His amazing capabilities become apparent.
I like the word "wonder" because when we wonder at something, we know we cannot replicate nor control it. It is just a little past our understanding.
Would that we would learn that everything is a it beyond our capability.
understanding wonder worship
Thursday, March 12, 2015
Are We To Teach Reading?
1. What is the use of reading for a spiritual life in general? And can illiterate Christians (e.g. in the medieval age) also be faithful Christians?And some pretty bad ones:
These are important questions, so thank you for the opportunity to talk about reading.
In his wisdom, God ordained literature and literacy to play a central role in revealing his unfolding plan throughout the ages. Literacy is so central to God’s design that more than 300 verses in the Bible speak of what is written, a reference to what has been recorded previously (e.g. “It is written . . .”). Scripture is consistently looking back and re-evaluating what has been written as a guide and guard for the future. God’s written word is the hallmark of biblical spirituality.
The apostle Paul penned this truism: “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). As we look back on the ancient revelation recorded on the pages of Scripture, we find a fresh vision for the unseen future ahead of us. Literature and literacy unite historical reflection and future anticipation into one noble, transcendent purpose.
But is it possible for illiterate Christians to be faithful Christians? The answer is yes — and many of the first Gentile Christians would stand as proof of this point. While literacy among first-century Palestinian Jews was quite strong, the literacy rates in Roman provinces hovered around 10 percent; meaning most of the first Gentile Christians were illiterate and solely dependent on oral communication (Harris, Ancient Literacy). However, this inability to read, in itself, did not prohibit their fidelity to the gospel.
4. Is not a plea for reading and meditation just a kind of conservatism? Should we not instead look for new ways of finding God, for example like with the old Roman-Catholic “books for the layman” (religious art)?There is an exclusivity to this guys approach I find really troubling. Yes, precision and rational thought are deeply important - but God wishes to reach us in every part of our being.
Intuitive spirituality is reckless, but we’re all guilty. We are drawn to seek God apart from his revelation. As men intuitively grasp for God, one grabs the leg of an elephant, another grabs an ear, another the snout, but with our intuitive spirituality we can do little more than gather in a circle around an animal we presume to be our god. God is never far from us, and yet we follow our intuition and think it will lead us to God — when in reality our intuition only leads us into the temple of ignorance built for ‘The unknown god’ (Acts 17:16–34). If Christ has been raised from the dead, we have no excuses for God-ignorance (Acts 17:30–31). God is close to us, so close he can be found in his Son, Jesus Christ, as revealed in Scripture.
Likewise, visual-oriented spirituality is incomplete. Images can present to us the world as it is, but pictures cannot interpret what we see. Language communicates to our minds the meaning behind the images we see with our eyes. This explains why old silent movies needed text slides, why new movies need writers and dialogue, and why newspaper photographs need captions. Language brings precision and clarity of meaning to what we see with our eyes.
I am a hyper-rationalist - it comes from being a science type. Words are not precise enough for me - I need mathematics which is the most precise language we have yet to come up with. And yet asd I grow in Christ IO find myself draw to other forms of expression. I find things I once dismissed reaching me on levels that might have previously even denied the existence of. I just cannot help but think that this interview is one step too far.
The point that scan reading of the Internet is not enough is a good one. There is a place for it, but there is also the need to stop and read in depth. I could not agree more, but to then move on an declare the supremacy of reading over the religious arts is a huge mistake. The approach should be all of the above. We should be moved, influenced and learn from the arts, and then process that learning with a mind shaped by reading. God wants to reach our rational mind and he wants to transform us on the basest of levels - instinct and emotion - things our minds often cannot control.
This is not an either/or or a better/worse - this is a both/and.
reading the arts transformation
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
The Herd Mentality
Cows like to turn their backs to the wind. At least, all the cows I know do. Slowly, awkwardly, eventually, all that beef will run parallel to the breeze.The subtitle of the piece is , "When we fear no one but God, we're free to really serve him." I figure I do not need to pay the subscription fee to get the gist.
People aren't too different. We align ourselves safely into herds, comforted by the hot breath of others breaking on the backs of our necks and ears. Then we huff and we puff and we blow at the fools turned in the wrong direction.
Is there anything more compelling to us than the heavy synchronized breathing of a mob, especially when combined with cocked eyebrows of disdain and curled lips of disgust? This is the zeitgeist, inside the church and out, and it will judge you until you conform and commune. This is cool-shaming, and it will make you squirm and itch to turn your back to the wind, to stand with all the other cows.
The trendsetters and vision-casters in a herd start the movement, motivated by profit or power or personal gain, as well as genuine striving for holiness and righteousness. They target their breath, their words, their media, and their coolness accordingly.
But for the rest of us, the single greatest factor in our decision-making is simple compliance. We turn with the crowd because we want the awkwardness to stop. We want them all to stop looking at us like that. We want to feel the wind of opinion at our backs.
How did otherwise intelligent people go along with the Third Reich, the invasion of Poland, the extermination of Jews? We may assume they were evil, brainwashed, or a bit of both, and in part we're right. But when was the last time you hedged on an opinion because of the hot breathing of those around you? When did you last choose your words based more on the politics of a situation than on truth?
Being a science/engineering type, the herd mentality has always baffled me. Since earliest memory, I have sought data and fact - human behavior, individually or collectively is data but it does not comprise fact. It is too erratic and unpredictable to be a fact. It is not consistent nor is it repeatable. I cannot form a reliable testable theory around it. Therefore I cannot rely upon it to make decisions. Now gravity I can rely upon. If I jump, I will come down. Human behavior not so much. Yesterday, my comic book reading habits made me odd - today they make me interesting. Yesterday those that engaged in homosexual practice were deviant, today they are lauded as heroes. But where is the truth? Where is something that I can rely upon? This is what drives me.
Therefore, there have been long periods of my life where I am an outsider looking in. In my youth it troubled me, it hurt, today it is simply a fact of life - at least most of the time.
I am therefore a better Christian than everyone else? That's the question I confront routinely. I have been told I do not have the love of Christ because of my willingness to declare an issue when I see it. I admit my own blindness to my issues and admit the sting when people point them out to me. But I do not deny when people see truth in me. When I was much larger than I am today and small children would tell their parents to "look at the fat man," they were rude and it would hurt, but it was true. I could not deny the essential truth. Rudeness and directness do not change truth. And truth is what matters. Love first and foremost grasps truth, the rest is messaging.
Once one figures that out, it is easier to work on the message, but hold fast to truth. Love without truth is empty and void.
love the herd truth
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
- You don’t know who’s there.
- You don’t know what’s there.
- You don’t know where they’ve been.
- You don’t know where you are.
- You don't know what you’re changing.
- You don’t know where you’re going.
- You don’t know what your idols are.
- You don’t know what God will do.
I especially like the admonition, "You don’t know what God will do," it is so tempting to think we do. We need to wait, we need to be patient and wait on God. That's about us. It is especially about the leader. Sometimes we wait just to allow God to develop patience in us.
Monday, March 09, 2015
These forces tell us that our defeat in the causes of marriage and human life are inevitable. They warn us that we are on the "wrong side of history." They insist that we will be judged by future generations the way we today judge those who championed racial injustice in the Jim Crow south. But history does not have sides. It is an impersonal and contingent sequence of events, events that are determined in decisive ways by human deliberation, judgment, choice, and action. The future of marriage and of countless human lives can and will be determined by our judgments and choices — our willingness or unwillingness to bear faithful witness, our acts of courage or cowardice. Nor is history, or future generations, a judge invested with god-like powers to decide, much less dictate, who was right and who was wrong.How we react to what is plainly in front of us may be the most important question any Christian faces today. How will you react?
The idea of a "judgment of history" is secularism's vain, meaningless, hopeless, and pathetic attempt to devise a substitute for what the great Abrahamic traditions of faith know is the final judgment of Almighty God. History is not God. God is God. History is not our judge. God is our judge.
One day we will give an account of all we have done and failed to do. Let no one suppose that we will make this accounting to some impersonal sequence of events possessing no more power to judge than a golden calf or a carved and painted totem pole. It is before God — the God of truth, the Lord of history — that we will stand. And as we tremble in His presence it will be no use for any of us to claim that we did everything in our power to put ourselves on "the right side of history."
One thing alone will matter: Was I a faithful witness to the Gospel? Did I do everything in my power to place myself on the side of truth? The One whose only begotten Son tells us that He, and He alone, is "the way, the truth, and the life" will want to know from each of us whether we sought the truth with a pure and sincere heart, whether we sought to live by the truth authentically and with integrity, and — let me say this with maximum clarity — whether we stood up for the truth, speaking it out loud and in public, bearing the costs of discipleship that are inevitably imposed on faithful witnesses to truth by cultures that turn away from God and his law. Or were we ashamed of the Gospel?
culture gospel reaction