Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Some interesting quotes to chew on . . .
“A theological thought can breathe only in the atmosphere of dialogue with God.” Helmut Thielicke, A Little Exercise for Young Theologians
“Truth is always a quarry hard to hunt, and therefore we must look everywhere for its tracks.” Basil the Great (From On the Spirit 1.1).
“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts. The right defense against false sentiments is to inculcate just sentiments. By starving the sensibility of our pupils we only make them easier prey to the propagandist when he comes. For famished nature will be avenged and a hard heart is no infallible protection against a soft head." C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man, pp. 13-14
“This is true worship, when the mind of the worshipper presents itself as an undefiled offering to God.” Lactantius, Divine Institutes
“Spiritually ill theologians produce sick theology.” Christopher Hall
“Education begins in the home, where it is a parental right and responsibility.” Ronald Reagan, 1982
“Words can be polluted even more dramatically and drastically than rivers and land and sea. There has been a terrible destruction of words in our time.” Malcolm Muggeridge in The End of Christendom, p. 2
Plutarch—“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignited.”
What do you think?
Thanks for reading!
Friday, September 21, 2007
And now, an honest appraisal of our worth . . .
What is it about us that makes so many of us feel the need to travel, to labor incessantly in an effort to prove our own worth? At which point in our lives did we fall so far from the recognition of our value as God sees it? Let me put it this way—if you have a valuable piece of jewelry, to whom do you take it to have it appraised? The jeweler or the street peddler and huckster? Reasonable people will take their treasures to the jeweler for an honest or fair appraisal. Why? Simply because the jeweler is a professional, trained in his area of expertise to offer an honest appraisal. In other words, he knows his craft and knows the value of the otherwise insignificant trinkets presented to him. He looks through his glass and sees worth in what appears to us mere costume jewelry. He declares its worth, and we cling to our now treasured possession as though it were a king’s ransom.
Let me share a story from my own life—I read comics. That won’t surprise my friends out there who are aware that I haven’t outgrown this seemingly juvenile past time. In my years of reading comics, I have kept thousands of them in bags and boxes for future reading. As a youngster, I had no idea that some of those comics would one day be valuable. I simply kept them because I liked to read them. One day while in seminary, my mother informed me that a young man in my childhood neighborhood wanted to start a comic collection, and he wanted to look at and possibly purchase some of mine. I hadn’t read them in a while, and I figured I could use the money, so I agreed. The young fellow and I met at my mother’s house at the designated time and day. We agreed to some prices, and he began his shopping spree. When he left he seemed happy, and I had a few extra bucks in my pocket. But the story doesn’t end there.
A few years later I was in a comic shop in Bowling Green, KY. Behind the counter a comic was displayed, but it was an unusual comic in that it had a price tag of about $400 attached to it. It was an Incredible Hulk story in which the X-Men character Wolverine made his first appearance. I remembered that I owned that comic, and after verifying with the shop owner that he would indeed pay me $400 for the comic, I made plans to visit my mother soon. When I got home, I went straight to the comics and looked for my treasure. Did you guess yet? Yes, I sold that comic to the young man a few years prior. I think I may have gotten a couple of dollars for it! Two dollars compared to four hundred dollars! I almost cried.
Then I remembered, that comic had little value to me until an “expert” told me how valuable it was (after all, I only paid 25 cents for it originally!). To bring this back to our topic, I think that sometimes so many of us work so hard to “prove” our worth because we have been listening to the wrong “experts” regarding our value. The Jeweler who makes all humans sees our true value, and I am willing to bet that you are more valuable to him than you might think. Why do I say that? It is actually very simple—the great Cosmic Jeweler or Comic Expert loves you enough to exchange His own Son for you. He only has one Son, but He is willing to give that unique possession to purchase you, a pearl of great price. God’s view of our worth is so much better than our own. I know I need to check in with Him more often before I trade what I consider my “cheap comic book” life for a paltry sum instead of the invaluable amount it is worth in God’s eyes. It's worth thinking about, right?
Thanks for reading!
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Innate Concepts? C. S. Lewis on perceptions of God
If a good God made the world why has it gone wrong? And for many years I simply refused to listen to the Christian answers to this question, because I kept on feeling "whatever you say, and however clever your arguments are, isn't it much simpler and easier to say that the world was not made by any intelligent power? Aren't all of your arguments simply a complicated attempt to avoid the obvious?" But then that threw me back into another difficulty.
My argument against God was that the universe seemed too cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole world was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because a man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too--for the argument depended on saying that the world really was unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist--in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless--I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality--namely my idea of justice--was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.
Thanks for reading!
Friday, September 07, 2007
What is your "place"?
I forget sometimes that the Bible speaks often of “place.” Jesus went out to a deserted place to be alone with his Father. Paul went to a desert place to learn about his new faith. Ezekiel speaks of the places where God met him. Isaiah was in the Temple, the place of God’s revelation, when king Uzziah died, and Isaiah saw a vision of God in that place. Abraham left his hometown to go to a “place” that God would show him. Even Satan wants to have a “place” since he lost his “place” in heaven (see Revelation 12). We all want a “place.” Like the old theme song to the TV show Cheers, we want a place “where everyone knows your name.” We want a place to belong, a place to be at peace, a place of rest.
There is such a place you know. We can even carry it with us every day of our lives. That place is Calvary. The place of the Skull and the place of the supreme sacrifice in history is where we can go to find what we want. There, safe from the world, we can shelter ourselves under the sweet sacrifice of Jesus, confident, as Paul tells us, that “He who freely gave his Son for us, will he not also freely give us all things?” It is a place of both sacrifice and safety, a place of grace and rest. Although it was not a positive place for Jesus on that day, it has become for us a place of comfort, kindness, grace, and even peace. There Jesus did for me what I could not do for myself. There God redeemed me as his own by giving his only Son in my place. Read and think on these words from Dennis Jernigan’s song “It was My Sin.”
1. See the God of Glory giving up His Son
See the awesome depth of love in all that He has done
See the tiny baby on the hay so still
See Him take the cross and climb up Calvary’s lonely hill
It was my sin that nailed him there
It was my cross He had to bear
It was His blood that washed me clean
It was the greatest love this world has seen
He died for me
He washed me clean
I am redeemed
Worship the King
2. Hear the groaning thunder, feel the falling rain
See the King of Glory bear unbearable pain
Dying brokenhearted, Himself He would not save
See the King who died for me now risen from the grave
It was my sin that nailed You there
It was my cross You had to bear
Your precious blood has washed me clean
No greater love has this world ever seen
You died for meYou washed me clean
I am redeemed
Worship the King
There is a place for each of us, a place where we belong and may receive mercy. I don't know what your circumstances hold, and I can't tell you that Christ will take away all your problems. I can say with confidence, however, that his love knows no boundaries. He cares, he loves, he has mercy.
It isn't a promise of a soft path. The way of Christ starts with a crucifixion. Nonetheless, the place of wounding becomes a place of joy and belonging in Jesus. The battle scars received when following him are awards, metals of honor, reasons for rejoicing.
Being at the cross with Christ is a good place. Being at the grave as he comes out is a hopeful one. The promise of our salvation is the promise of a place where we belong to and with God. That place is ours here and now, but it is also the promise of a future rest from the worries and wounds of today. To get to that place, though, we must start with Christ and his wounds and death. There is no crown without a cross.
What place are you in today? Is it a hard place? A place of comfort? A place of confusion? A place of contentment? No matter where you place yourself today, God desires to be there with you. He wants his place to be your place. Trust him. Come home to God's place. He knows your name, he knows your need.
May God grant us the grace to live confidently in the places he has placed us. May we understand the height, width, breadth, and length of his love to us. May we find his place of rest.
Thanks for reading!
I'm praying for you!