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Years ago, I listened to a series of R.C. Sproul audio tapes in which he discussed different worldviews. In it, he said that pragmatism, the “do whatever works” method of making decisions great and small, was the one uniquely American worldview. He said it sprang out of the Pilgrim/Pioneer grit-your-teeth-and-get-it-done experience.

I’ve seen an awful lot of American Christendom infected with this uniquely American worldview. In churches poor (build a gym and they will come), in churches rich (give them programs-a-plenty, and they will come), in churches liberal (tell them what they like to hear, and they will stay), in churches conservative (give a list, of things to be for or against, and they will stay). And so on.

And always, the question that drives decisions is, “what will work?” What will work to grow the church, or to stem the tide of our dwindling numbers, or to be more “relevant” to the world? Ad infinitum, ad nauseum. And of course, in our fully Madison Avenue-molded America, there are hundreds of “experts” out there to sell “purpose” or “program” ideas for “what works”.

And the church, in just about every corner, has embraced this uniquely American paradigm.

But since Christ has said He will build the church, both quantitatively and qualitatively, our abundance of fleshly sowing has given us an abundant fleshly harvest: one need only look at the sexual predations that have been exposed of late in evangelical circles, and even the growing elevation of folks in open sexual sin to positions of leadership in some churches to see just one area of how we’re reaping what we’ve sown.

Pragmatism is self will. And in America, it’s all for Jesus, of course.

On this first morning of Passover 2014, please Father, have mercy on us here in this nation.

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Dancing

I recently had a friend describe her relationship to her adult 20-something children as “dancing”. As in: sometimes in, sometimes out, sometimes stepping on toes, sometimes their toes get stepped on. And the way she described it, they lead sometimes, and she leads sometimes.

While pondering that, I’ve come to think that parenting itself is like teaching your child to dance. When they’re young, you lead all the time, just as when you take dance lessons, the dance instructor always leads in the beginning. But as they get in their preteens and teens, you teach them to lead by becoming a follower. Just a little at first, but more and more as they get older. But you won’t really teach them to lead if you only give them the reins in what you want to do. Excepting sin, of course, we have to let them lead in what they want to do, and we have to stay engaged and let them lead us, not just their peers.

And perhaps if it’s done right, with the right amount of us leading, then them leading, when they’re adults they’ll want to do that sort of dance with us, the you-lead-sometimes and I-lead-sometimes dance that is the dance of adult friends.

But so many of us get it wrong, and continue to be the choreographers of the dance with them, always leading, throughout their teen years, or even into their adult years. But the fruit of that is that once they are adults and can lead, must lead to be adults, they don’t want to dance with you ever, unless they are leading. There is no first them, then you. It’s always them. Which is what you’ve taught them to do, by it being only you leading throughout their adolescence when you should have been teaching the adult give and take.

And they may not really want to dance with you anyway. They may look all over the room for anyone else to dance with besides you. Even though you brought them to the dance. And if they’re good kids, with a sense of what’s right and what’s wrong, they’ll come over to you 5 minutes before the dance is over and dance with you because they’ve noticed you watching them, even when you were dancing with another, and they know you’ve wanted to dance with them all night, and they know they should. But they’ll lead even then, because you didn’t teach them when they were young to share in the choreography.

We reap what we sow. Even later, when the Lord has shown us that we should have been doing the giving and taking with them all along, and we change, it will be too late, for they will only be able to think of us as the dance partner who always wants to lead, even if it’s not true anymore, by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit. August is too late to say, “oops, I should’ve planted more potatoes and less eggplant.”

We can only pray then, that the Lord will grant our adult children the wisdom to not make the same mistakes with their children, so that those children won’t have to claim their ground as adults by only leading with their parents all the time. And they won’t look at their parents as folks that they have to guard themselves against, lest they try to take over the lead and shut them out of adulthood again. We can only pray that our children’s children will desire to share in the lives and choreography of their dance with their parents.

And we can only pray that God will teach us new ways of preparing our abundance of eggplant.

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I am my greatest problem, and the only good thing about the Christian walk is Jesus.

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I could’ve spent pages on the list of my dh’s display of the hero’s virtues. But I think he would blush if he read it, so I’ll spare him and you, dear reader.

For there are so many others, ones who have been called beyond what he has, to the sacrifice of self in the worst of circumstances.

Christian martyrs like the ten Boom family come to mind. Saving others at the risk of their own safety, and ultimately their lives, is something we may be yet called to do in the future. Antisemitism has never been dead, and in this no-social-holds-barred world of Congressmen tweeting pictures of their underwear-clad nether parts to the whole world, antisemitism likewise has little or nothing to restrain its public display anymore. And just as true Christians like the ten Boom’s suffered the same fate as their Jewish brethren, so too I expect truly obedient Christians to suffer alongside the Jews today. Certainly they are in many areas of the Muslim world. As this nation has become more politically correct about this “religion of peace”, we have come to disdain those who wish to see Israel live in peace. It’s a soft persecution in this country right now, but the kind of life threatening persecution that Christians suffer in other nations is coming here. And sooner than we’d like to think, I believe.

Will we who call ourselves the children of the King stand for what is right, even if it will cost us our lives, or the lives of our loved ones? Or will we let others go down, and shutter our blinds to try to preserve our own skin?

We like to think ourselves heroes. We like to identify with the Joshua’s and Caleb’s of the world, not the other 10 spies. We like to identify with the ten Boom’s, thinking we would do the hard work of a hero when the time came. But will we sacrifice ourselves to save others?

Will we put on Christ, who sacrificed Himself to save others?

He is our model, This Hero. The men on the Titanic, soldiers, my husband, the ten Boom’s, these are only folks who modeled themselves after their King, filling up the sufferings of Christ. Will we stand by Him, or deny Him, when the first order hero’s test comes? For to let others suffer while we say nothing so as to save our skin, is to deny Him. It’s to say to an onlooking world, “unlike Meshash, Shadrach and Abednego, I do not believe my god will deliver me, and so I will do whatever it takes in order to deliver myself.”

Let this mind be in you, which also was in Christ Jesus, who though he was God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God, he made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant, and became a man, who then humbled himself and obediently suffered on the cross. (Phil 2:5-8) This is how how Christ Himself became The Hero of the First Order. He suffered for others willingly. The verse before these says it: Let every man not just think about his own concerns, but let us concern ourselves with others (vs. 4). Here is the pattern for us would-be lesser heroes, this First and Truest Hero.

Let this mind be in me, Lord.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/12/us/12prom.html?_r=1&src=ISMR_AP_LO_MST_FB

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The justification of the sinner in the world, [has] degenerated into the justification of sin and the world. Costly grace [is] turned into cheap grace without discipleship.

The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world. Karl Barth

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