Category Archives: Meditations

Blind Spots

What Sounds Smart Today May Look Stupid Tomorrow

This morning my pastor quoted Matthew Henry’s commentary on James 2:1-4, where the great Christian writer stated as follows:

But we must be careful not to apply what is here said to the common assemblies for worship; for in these certainly there may be appointed different places of persons according to their rank and circumstances, without sin.

Interestingly enough, the passage is speaking to exactly that same issue, but Henry is blinded by the culture of his day and perceives the established tradition to be acceptable.  Its easy to throw stones at Matthew Henry, but I realized that I need to take a moment to look at myself.  If a guy like Matthew Henry can study his Bible and invest his life in Christian service and still miss the mark in his life, I’m certain I’ve got some blind spots that I need to be on the lookout for.  This morning I took a few minutes to think of some ways to identify blind spots in my life.

  1. Pray for wisdom from God to recognize where I’m not living as I should.
  2. Listen to the Word of God and apply its light to all traditions, practices, and applications.  Nothing is off limits.
  3. Listen to critiques of Christianity by unbelievers.
  4. Listen to critiques of my Christian subculture by those who are not part of it.
  5. Listen to critiques of individual of other generations.
  6. Seek insight from Christian brothers I rub shoulders with.
  7. Repeat.
If you have any more ideas, please feel free to share!

Why Does Food Taste Good?

Thoughts on the Digestive Process

 

I’ve been trying to loose weight lately.  It’s not easy.  When I got married 3 years ago, I weighed around 180ish.  I recently weighed in at 225.  The first time I really caught on was when I reported to my wife that she must have scratched me in the night.  She just smiled and said, “Honey, those are stretch marks.”  I figured it was getting out of hand when I couldn’t tie my shoes without getting out of breath.  What now?  A life of eating junk food and fast food was over.  My life as I knew it had ended.  But then I smiled…I actually like salad.  And I even like the healthy dressings (balsamic vinaigrette and Italian); however, my wife informed me that if I put the usual quarter-cup on my salad that I might as well eat a cheeseburger.  Bummer.

Ok, so I’m actually going somewhere here.  In my slight abstinence I have come to realize something deep.  I hope you have your proverbial seatbelt on, because this will jar your mind.  Ready???  Here it goes…food tastes good.  So maybe that’s not really so earthshattering.  But, maybe it is.  Just think.  Our digestive process only needs to be mastication, digestion, absorption, and excretion.  Nobody ever said it had to taste good!  How did a sense of taste evolve?  If the eating process was only designed to sustain life and nothing more, then why did we evolve the ability to enjoy the process?  Or, to put it in the negative, why did we evolve the ability to dislike certain foods that are necessary for sustaining life?  It really makes no sense outside of Creation.  God has built within His creation the ability to feel pleasure and pain, joy and sadness.  In its most elevated form, these expressions are uniquely enjoyed by humans.  Why does a warm sunshine make me feel happy?  Why does the song on the radio lift my spirit?  Why is sex fun?  Why do I enjoy it when my team wins?

God created me to enjoy things.  God created me so that I can be happy.  But if He created me to be happy, is it not necessary that I must be able to experience sorrow and sadness, guilt and despair?  Although these were not what He intended for me, it was necessary that I be able to experience those feelings if I were to experience pleasure.  There can be not positive without a negative.  God made me to find happiness, but so often I find myself in seasons of suffering and sadness.  What happened?  Interestingly enough, there is this little story in the beginning of the Bible that tells why.  God made man and woman perfect and happy.  They thought something else would make them happy so they rebelled against God.  They plunged the rest of humanity into a rebellion against God.  Now all of humanity struggles to find happiness apart from God.  Every time we taste the deliciousness of a well-crafted pizza or savor the beautiful tones of a popular song, we testify that we were created for something more.  We were created to be happy, but this happiness only comes from our Creator.

Almighty God,
you have made us for yourself,
and our hearts are restless
till they find their rest in you;
so lead us by your Spirit
that in this life we may live to your glory
and in the life to come enjoy you for ever;

through Jesus Christ our Lord
who is alive with with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.
Amen.

– Saint Augustine

Driven by Hope: Letters to God

 Thoughts on faith, life, and suffering

Two thoughts stood out to me as I watched the movie: (1) Simple yet deep faith gives strength for suffering.  (2) A life lived in light of eternity will never be regretted.

Entering the kingdom as a child takes on a whole new meaning after watching this little movie (based on the true story of Tyler Doherty).  Tyler draws strength for his fight with cancer from his relationship with God.  Every day he communicates with God by writing letters.  Such a simple faith ends up transforming his struggle with the disease and the lives around him.  The movie ends with a number of examples of others who have, in faith, committed their sickness to God and found hope and strength for the battle ahead.  Though some may object that Christian faith is merely a crutch for the weak-minded, I would object that everyone has a crutch because we’re all broken and need help.  The real question is which crutch is stronger.  Tyler’s testimony is a witness not merely to the strength of his faith, but the strength of his God to bring him through the trial.

Life is too short.  Tyler lived in this reality and allowed it to shape the way he treated others and the seriousness with which he pursued a relationship with God.  All of our lives are like puffs of smoke on the horizon.  We have only a fleeting chance to live a life that matters here on earth.  If we knew that this week would be our last, how would it change our priorities?  I am praying that God would allow me to have spiritual eyesight to see what really matters on this earth.

Only in the Gospel

In the most ancient of civilizations we find a very basic principle.  We read in the African continent of the divinity of the Pharaohs and in the Americas, the worship of the Mayan rulers.  Not far removed we find the imperial cult of the Romans in Europe and the emperor worship of the Japanese in Asia.  From the elevation of Buddha, to the feats of Hercules, to the superiority of Nietzsche’s Übermensch, man has sought one goal – to become a god.

In some sense this could be seen as a unifying theme of the religious tradition of the entire world.  The ultimate desire of the world religions could be simply seen as a process of attempting to make men into gods.  Indeed, in the Bible, we find that the first sin was committed in order that man could be like God and that the first perversion of religion was found in the attempt to reach a tower to heaven.  “If only we can reach heaven,” they imagined, “we can take our rightful place again.”  Every civilization has taught different methods of becoming a god, but they all hold to the same basic thesis.

No doubt, the same essential thought prevails today.  Nietzsche well captured the view of his burgeoning modernistic society by teaching that man could become god only by overcoming the inhibitions of society and religion.  Post-modern philosophy takes this principle a step further.  The post-modern worldview holds that all men are equal gods.  We all deserve to be “supermen.”  What each man speaks is absolute truth to him.  The cardinal sin is to offend the esteem and worship due to the deity who lives across the picket fence.  Man controls his own fate.  Man makes or destroys his own universe.  All men have become gods.

In the face of these paradigms, the Christian religion stands with pure exception.  Only in Christianity do we find the opposite!  Man cannot become a god.  In fact, man cannot even become good.  Man is hopeless because of his sin.  In spite of all God’s actions, man only demonstrates his inability to even begin to make things right with God.  Oh what a helpless state man is in!  But here comes the greatest paradox in the religious traditions of the world.  There is no man that becomes god to lead others to godhood, rather God all God, robed in glorious splendor, transcendent, majestic, and clothed in light, becomes man!

And why would such a God reveal Himself in such a manner?  Was it to bring judgment on the rebellious men whom He had created?  Was it to mock and to scorn those who could not attain divinity?  No, God became man so that He Himself might bear man’s judgment, mockery, and scorn so that He might reconcile man to God.

Only in the Gospel do we find such a radical philosophy, namely that man cannot become a god, but that God became a man to bring all men to God!

A Meditation on the Gospel

from Galatians 3

My life was filled with sin and guilt,
I wanted to be free.
Look now I see Him crucified—
Cursed on the tree for me!

By His grace, Christ took my sin,
And by His grace I now have peace.
By His grace each day I win,
And by His grace I’ll be complete.

The Gospel preached to Abraham,
Is free for everyone:
The just will live by faith in Christ,
Bought by God’s grace alone!

By His grace, Christ took my sin,
And by His grace I now have peace.
By His grace each day I win,
And by His grace I’ll be complete.

But now to follow Christ my Lord,
Through flesh the laws I’ve done.
But how did I receive the gift?
By faith in grace alone!

By His grace, Christ took my sin,
And by His grace I now have peace.
By His grace each day I win,
And by His grace I’ll be complete.