28 Oct 2007
If our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, then shouldn’t that be modeled in our prayers? In group intercession times, I’m struck by how prayer requests are almost always for individual, temporal concerns.
There’s nothing wrong with praying for Bob’s hip, traveling mercies for Mildred, Earl’s adjustment to college life, or that second-cousin Bobby would grow up big and strong. However, instead of prayer laundry lists befitting a pagan, how about God-centered and distinctly Christian prayers? These are brief and lacking examples, but they seem closer to the things that preoccupied the apostles: that our denomination would be shielded from false teachers, that our congregation would be knit together in love, that we be given greater measures of grace to bear fruit, that we we come to recognize our sin and more greatly appreciate the righteousness and mercy of Christ, that we would boldly declare and glorify Christ before a perishing world, that we would know what it is to “rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8), etc. Some of these may seem general, but (a) the church can always use more “we” and (b) it can easily be adapted to specific circumstances. For example, when praying for Bob’s hip, we might pray that he would know that his momentary afflictions are preparing him for an eternal weight of glory (2 Cor 4:17). Or we might pray that God’s grace in helping him cope would be a lasting witness to unbelievers.
23 Oct 2007
The misuse of pleasure
I know some muddle-headed Christians have talked as if Christianity thought that sex, or the body, or pleasure, were bad in themselves. But they were wrong. Christianity is almost the only one of the great religions which thoroughly approves of the body – which believes that matter is good, that God Himself once took on a human body, that some kind of body is going to be given to us even in Heaven and is going to be an essential part of our happiness, or beauty and our energy. Christianity has glorified marriage more than any other religion: and nearly all the greatest love poetry in the world has been produced by Christians. If anyone says that sex, in itself, is bad, Christianity contradicts him at once. …
There is nothing to be ashamed of in enjoying your food: there would be everything to be ashamed of if half the world made food the main interest of their lives and spent their time looking at pictures of food and dribbling and smacking their lips. …
There are people who want to keep our sex instinct inflamed in order to make money out of us. Because, of course, a man with an obsession is a man who has very little sales-resistance.
-All quotes from Mere Christianity, “Sexual Morality”
17 Oct 2007
The Evangel-less Evangelist
Did you see Joel Osteen’s interview on 60 minutes this past Sunday? It wasn’t that useful. News shows work in soundbites that lack content. Also, Mr. Osteen has never seemed to understand (or doesn’t want to understand) the problem with his message well enough to engage it, nor do TV interviewers. Osteen’s moneymaking prowess indicates that few are offended by moralism.
Pastor Riddlebarger sums it up succinctly: Osteen is an evangelist without an evangel.
12 Oct 2007
The fleeting pleasures of sin
Certain comments are funny because they’re true and obnoxious in the best sense (example: Johnson’s famous quip). Others are funny despite their idiocy, like when Dana Carvey said once that his family was Lutheran, which is “sorta like Catholic lite, you know?” You had to be there.
Then there’s this classic:
The puritan hated bear baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.
Not true, but funny. And it leads by the thinnest thread to this article discussing the pleasures of sin. Before the misery comes the fun, just like the bait precedes the hook. As Proverbs 20:17 says: “Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel.”
Sin is settling for second best (Is. 55:1-2). Lewis puts it this way in his preface to The Great Divorce:
I believe, to be sure, that any man who reaches Heaven will find that what he abandoned (even in plucking out his right eye) was precisely nothing; that the kernel of what he was really seeking even in his most depraved wishes will be there, beyond expectation, waiting for him in “the High Countries.”
06 Oct 2007
Man’s dream, God’s curse
‘Course I’m respectable. I’m old. Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.
So says the evil Noah Cross in Chinatown. I think of that classic comment when I come across Hugh Hefner on TV. Once distastefully considered a libertine and pornographer, “Hef” is now just a campy, grandfatherly icon. Little shows the blatant depravity of men than a desire to be like him. How many see his idolatrous life as the American dream, a blessing among blessings? The truth is that such folly (Prov. 6:32-33, Rom. 1:28) proves one far more likely to be under God’s curse:
Prov 22:14 The mouth of forbidden women is a deep pit; he with whom the Lord is angry will fall into it.
He with whom the Lord is angry… How’s that for plain talk? Matthew Henry comments:
Those who abandon themselves to that sin give proof that they are abandoned of God: it is a deep pit, which those fall into that are abhorred of the Lord, who leaves them to themselves to enter into that temptation, and takes off the bridle of his restraining grace, to punish them for other sins. Value not thyself upon thy being in favour with such women, when it proclaims thee under the wrath of God. It is seldom that they recover themselves, for it is a deep pit; it will be hard getting out of it, it so besots the mind and debauches the conscience, by pleasing the flesh.
01 Oct 2007
Back when I was a kid…
Why, you had to get a book and a red flashlight and learn the constellations on your own. Now they come up with stuff like this. Impressive.
Other than the price tag, one problem with this device is that most kids don’t live where they can actually see diamonds on black velvet. They live in areas marred hugely by light pollution. And that is a loss.