Monday, February 18, 2013

What's Discouraging About These Statements?

I pose this Question Du Jour, at the risk of being a crank [although this minor concern has never stopped me before]. 

Well, first, I will establish the contexts.  
  • None of these statements originated with me
  • All belong to the "public domain", by which I mean, none was communicated individually or specifically to me, and all are intended for general consumption
  • The sources of all three statements represent themselves as speaking from a Christian Perspective which, as should be obvious and is underscored by this post, is an increasingly large and vaguely defined intellectual landscape
Here they are:

1- "A prayer is a wish turned heavenward";  this was observed about an hour ago, on a church "marquee" as I drove through town.

2- "And while I still loved God and followed him, the thrill was gone." This is a statement from a current online article posted on a website aimed at Christian women.  To be fair, the writer does go on to make a helpful observation or two, but the hook and tag line of this copy, summed up in the above quote, gave me pause.

3- "We take the Bible seriously, not literally"; observed on the back of a public transportation system bus, i.e. paid advertising for a local church.

OK, then.  

I do not sit in judgment on the originators of these statements.  I am neither assigned nor equipped for that task, which is reserved for Christ Himself. But Christ-followers are to know Christ and make Him known; if this is no longer the case, I missed the memo.

I can only conclude that we have woefully lost sight of the priority to think Biblically, and the importance of distinguishing between Biblical thinking and worldly thinking.  As has been noted many times before, words mean something.

1- When did a prayer become a "wish"? Prayer is talking to God.  Maybe my interpretation is too narrow, but I associate a wish with a hopeful, if not necessarily serious, roll of the cosmic dice. And, by the way, there aren't any cosmic dice.  Not there.  Jiminy Cricket musically enjoined Pinocchio to "wish upon a star".  A star is not a person and does not communicate with humans...not even the stars set in pavement on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  And the entertainment celebrities whose names appear on those stars are no more able to make "wishes" come true than they can ensure themselves Emmys or Oscars.

And what's going on "heavenward" that would cause one to turn his wishes in that direction?  Get real.  Heaven is where God is, and the eternal place from whence Jesus came to earth, to which He has returned, and from whence He will come again.  It's inhabited. By Someone who doesn't traffic in "wishes." He inexplicably desires authentic relationship with us and has  paid an incomprehensible price to make that possible.  Equating wishes with conversation between us and our Creator, Redeemer, and Counselor is misleading and disrespectful at best, and actually much more sinister.

2- I have a long, long, long way to go in my intimacy, obedience, and surrender to God.  But I find it confusing and unhelpful to read that a self-identified ministry leader has found, while following God [her words], that "the thrill is gone."  We must not be referring to the same "God."  Meaning no disrespect to B.B. King's classic ballad, it don't think the thrill can really be gone when it comes to relating with the God of the universe....not if we're clearly keeping in mind Who He is, and who we are.  

I'm not peevishly parsing words here...I'm pointing out that, over and over again, we seem to begin from the wrong side of the relational equation.  Too many of us begin and end with ourselves.  I’m not sensing the “thrill” anymore, so what gives?  I suggest that it’s a simple matter of losing sight of Who we’re talking about.  Get our eyes off of ourselves.  God sits enthroned above the circle of the earth [Isaiah 40:22].  This same passage in Isaiah likens us to "grasshoppers" from God's perspective...but He calls us His friends [John 15:15]...what's not thrilling about that?

3- And finally, we may find ourselves in traffic behind a bus with the provocative but wholly unhelpful claim that the Bible should be taken “seriously” but not “literally.” Again, whose lead are we following here?  On what basis does a church find it is their prerogative to decide what to do with the revealed Word of God?  Take careful note that this view diverges from that of Jesus, Whose references to the Law and the Prophets were unalloyed by doubt or skepticism.  Viewing the Bible as anything other than, not to mention less than, Christ does is treacherous terrain that leads to no good destination.  

We are accountable for the spiritual light we are given; those who choose to turn away from or not receive spiritual light, and yet purport to be a source of it anyway, are blind guides and speak without knowledge.

There’s no smorgasbord of spiritual truth.  There’s just one, full-strength, pure, unadulterated, and unspeakably expensive choice.  Menus that suggest otherwise are evil fiction.

The Definition You've Been Waiting For...

...courtesy of John Daniel Holliday, 15, and self-styled expert on the opposite sex:

"Girls are just a great big bowl of confusion!!!"

So, now you know.

You read it here first!!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Reprinted from The SPICE  Feb. 2013, First Evangelical Free Church


by Kathy Holliday

Heart-shaped candy boxes are making their annual appearance.  “Love” is in the air.  Portrayed as the virtual champagne of life, the world’s version of love bubbles and sparkles enticingly, suggesting effortless fulfillment. But frothy, fizzy emotion lacks staying power: often it quickly goes flat, and the effervescence is replaced by crushed hopes and scarring emotional pain.  Prime time television is cluttered with “reality” shows featuring bachelors and bachelorettes who evaluate bevies of candidates who  each hope to be chosen as “the one.” 

This isn’t Love; it’s a carefully manipulated set-up exploiting our intrinsic need for love, while at the same time allowing viewers to be virtual voyeurs .  Let’s be honest; the real motive behind these “love pursuits” is advertising income. 

Real love is fundamentally different. It is indivisible from God Himself.

A nugget of truth shared by an Adult Sunday School teacher applies here: “The fallen world we live in is upside-down. If the world is pointing one way, you can be sure that God’s Truth is the opposite.”

And an additional pearl of wisdom, gleaned in another Sunday School class, [lesson: pay attention in class!]  true love -in whatever relational context- is “an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person.” 
We all are imperfect, born with a fatal flaw that can only be remedied by a love beyond our capability, a profound and costly love.  The Lord’s agape love is other-centered, a love “in spite of” the beloved’s shortcomings. It’s love that never fails [I Cor. 13:8] and never runs out because its source is God, and “God is Love,” [1 John 4:8].

Any who doubt need only look at the cost He willingly paid to redeem us and the undeniable life change in those who have been transformed and thus able to extend the same agape love to others.