Tuesday, February 22, 2005

 

How difficult life can be . . .

I wanted to post something here that was witty and philosophical dealing with the issue of gender differences (our lecture in the most recent philosophy class), but I just received a couple of e-mails that changed all that. The fragility of life is a serious thing, as Scripture says our lives are like vapor. We are here for a moment and then gone. Here are the details.

I used to manage a bookstore in Waco, TX. One of our employees was a very intelligent young lady named Allison. Allison is a Christian who enjoys thinking deeply about the issues of life and faith. I found out today that Allison has an inoperable brain tumor. I don't know exactly how old Allison is (I would guess late 20's or early 30's), but I can tell you that this news is not good. Allison is a bright, ambitious, and talented woman whose life is seriously threatened. Pray for her healing. Pray for her friends and family.

I also received an e-mail from a friend (and, ironically enough, another former employee at a bookstore in Louisville, KY) that his wife's sister is dying of cancer as well. The doctors don't give her long to live. Her name is Ann. Ann is about my age (think over 40) and has two sons (one over 20 and the other 16, if I remember correctly). Ann has had problems with her health for years, and now she nears the end of this physical existence. Pray for her family and friends.

Life is fragile, ladies and gentlemen. We do not have a promise of tomorrow. I have tried to remind myself of that, but sometimes I forget. We are here for a short time, we should enjoy it and use it to the maximum purposes for God. Sigh, this is a tough news day. I'm sorry I don't have something cheery to share. May God bless us all with an awareness of our need of his love and life. You are important.

Keep the faith! Pray. Live life for God like today was your last opportunity.

Peace.

Friday, February 18, 2005

 

A Tough Topic

Well, what can I say? Today philosophy class was definitely interesting. We talked about the concept of sex. Yes, you read that right. Ouch! That is one of those subjects that I often find intriguing and embarrassing. I mean, God knows I've made my share of blunders in this area, and today I even talked about how I had misused the gift God gave me. Ah well, life is interesting, and I wanted to add some thoughts to my blog about class.

I realize that in whatever context we deal with the issue of sex, there will no doubt be controversy, condemnation, and embarrassment. We are all fallen people, after all, and who among us likes to admit our specific area of fallenness? Nonetheless, I think Peter Kreeft is correct that we in America haven't done the hard logical thinking required to explore this mystery and this monster. We have made this amazing gift into a merely selfish act, a mere recreational pursuit of personal pleasure. The secret to great marriage (and sex therein) is to unlearn this selfishness. It isn't about me! Just like Jesus' death and resurrection wasn't about him, but about loving us and giving his life in our place, so also this expression of our love within the commitment of marriage should be focused on what is best for the other person. We should seriously consider what is good for our spouse, and (even though I don't always do this) we should seek to do that thing, to love in that way, to lay down our own stuff for the benefit of another.

Isn't that in a sense the greatest good, the highest love in all areas? Putting the needs of another before your own? Isn't that the example of service that Jesus portrayed?

Ouch, that is difficult. Of course, we have made sex so common that (as the character says in Kreeft's book) we have made ourselves free from sex. We reduced it to merely human size. It is no longer a treasured possession, it is a recreational sport. Sad, isn't it? Yet even when we participate in it within this paradigm, something inside us screams "It isn't supposed to be like this! It isn't supposed to be common!" That is the voice of reason. We should listen to it on occasion.

I don't mean to sound like I am denigrating or belittling anyone out there who (like me) have found themselves behaving poorly in this area. God knows most of us don't need more guilt over the deal! What I am trying to say is that we need to return to a rational, godly mindset on the issue. We need to ask the tough questions, do the difficult thinking, pursue with gusto the truth in this matter. Sex is part of all of us. We ought to learn the truth about it so that we can live in truth and not perpetuate the lie.

Well, I've probably said enough. I will add in conclusion, I'm glad I found forgiveness. I'm glad I learned. I'm even glad that my Father is patient in his training and discipline in this area of my life. He loves me with all my sins and failures. He loves me when I succeed. He forgives me and applauds me as needed--and that's a good thing! Whew, this topic is heavy, I think I'll put it down now. Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 11, 2005

 

Just some ramblin'

1 Peter 5:6-7

6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (NASU)

“Be not anxious! Earthly possessions dazzle our eyes and delude us into thinking that they can provide security and freedom from anxiety. Yet all the time they are the very source of all anxiety. If our hearts are set on them, our reward is an anxiety whose burden is intolerable. Anxiety creates its own treasures and they in turn beget further care. When we seek for security in possessions we are trying to drive out care with care and the net result is the precise opposite of our anticipations. The fetters which bind us to our possessions prove to be cares themselves.” From The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Phil 3:19-21
20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. (NASU)

What is it that they say about “good intentions”? I’ve had some good intentions about writing and keeping up my writing on this page, but here I am already struggling! Ah well, I guess that grace has no real statute of limitations (I hope!). The other day I really bombed in my philosophy class. Just when I think I have some ideas that will inspire or at least entertain the students, I seem to drop a bomb or something. I know that learning is a two way street; that is, they have to do their share in the process and I have to deliver a good product. That doesn’t make me feel any better. As Scarlett O’Hara said, however, “There is always tomorrow.”

Last night Lisa and I watched the comedy “Weekend at Bernies.” That movie has some really funny moments, and we practically laughed our heads off at times. The styles of clothes and hair were incredibly ‘80s oriented (since the movie debuted in 1989), and just remembering some of the styles was funny enough.

Heck, I’m just rambling here, I have nothing new to say really. It is a shame when the muse isn’t working. I’ve come up blank. Dang, I need to get into a real habit here.

Speaking of habits, nuns can be funny, can’t they? I mean, look at their outfits. Who knew that God was such a bad designer when it comes to clothes. Actually, I know that the reason they wear the habit is that they don’t want the attention drawn to them or their appearance, but isn’t it ironic how that is exactly what happens? The burkas in Afghanistan and other Muslim areas have the same effect, in my opinion. Far from keeping folks from looking, they invite looks at the people dressed so differently. Let’s be honest, you notice a nun in a habit or a woman in a burka. You can’t help it. The outfit screams “Look over here! I’m completely covered from head to toe so that you can’t ‘fantasize’ about me.” I’ll bet that Catholic and Muslim men still fantasize. What you wear doesn’t stop that habit (no pun intended)! At any rate, I’m just writing stream of consciousness here in an effort to jumpstart the brain, but it isn’t working. So I’ll stop with these words—Jesus loves me, this I know. Thank God!

Friday, February 04, 2005

 

What is Good?

I'm teaching a philosophy class to undergraduates this semester.
The other day we were talking about the summum bonum, the greatest good.
We were pursuing the idea that a person needs a good reason to do some work or action.
This idea led me into a long drawn out thought process over the idea of "good."

So, I ask you my friends, "What is good?"

All of us have some idea of "good" as opposed to something we consider "bad" or even "evil."

From what source do we as humans find in our minds the idea of "good"?

Is it innate? Is it learned? Is it intrinsic to human life and experience? Do we "make up" our own ideas of "good?"

The answer to that last question is a qualified "no." Qualified because while it may be true that different cultures or different people groups value different things as "good" or "bad," the fact remains that all humans make that distinction. That is, we all differentiate between "good" and "not good." All of us! Yes, even when George W. Bush was criticized for talking about "evil" groups that support terrorism, the folks critizing him were differentiating between the "goodness" or "evilness" of his statement. In other words, we all "know" that there is a difference between "good" and "not good."

From what source does that difference spring?

For me, it can only be because God differentiates between "good" and "not good" in his creation. We got it from Abba, our Father. It seems to me that the concept of "good" is to some degree at least inherent in the human person. It is a part of us. Defining it is a whole different game. Thanks for coming along for the ride. May you have a "good" day!


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