Thursday, March 31, 2011

Economic Facts and Fallacies

“Never underestimate the difficulty of changing false beliefs by facts.” ―Henry Rosovsky

An often heard phrase heard in the wake of a disaster is, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” And so, perhaps we should look more carefully at things that look good on the surface at the moment. Thomas Sowell’s book, Economic Facts and Fallacies, offers some great insights into much of what is currently plaguing us. His book begins by defining the basic problem:

“Fallacies are not simply crazy ideas. They are usually both plausible and logical—but with something missing. Their plausibility gains them political support. Only after that political support is strong enough to cause fallacious ideas to become government policies and programs are the missing or ignored factors likely to lead to "unintended consequences," a phrase often heard in the wake of economic or social policy disasters…

Sometimes what is missing in a fallacy is simply a definition. Undefined words have a special power in politics, particularly when they invoke some principle that engages people's emotions. "Fair" is one of those undefined words which have attracted political support for policies ranging from Fair Trade laws to the Fair Labor Standards Act. While the fact that the word is undefined is an intellectual handicap, it is a huge political advantage. People with very different views on substantive issues can be unified and mobilized behind a word that papers over their differing, and sometimes even mutually contradictory, ideas. Who, after all, is in favor of unfairness? Similarly with "social justice," "equality," and other undefined terms that can mean wholly different things to different individuals and groups—all of whom can be mobilized in support of policies that use such appealing words.”

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Religious Connexion

“It is obviously incumbent on the members of any community, whether civil or sacred, to acquaint themselves with its constitution and design; without this, they can neither adequately enjoy the privi­leges, nor properly discharge the duties, which their membership brings with it. Such persons are held more by feeling than by principle; a tenure quite insufficient, as a bond of religious connexion.”

[John Angell James, The Church Member’s Guide, (1839), p. 9]

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Strange Mixture

In his autobiography, Calvin Coolidge observed that the political mind "is a strange mixture of vanity and timidity, of an obsequious attitude at one time and a delusion of grandeur at another time, of the most selfish preferment combined with the most sacrificing patriotism. The political mind is the product of men in public life who have been twice spoiled. They have been spoiled with praise and they have been spoiled with abuse. With them nothing is natural, everything is artificial."

Monday, March 28, 2011

Christin's Quote Book

  • No cause more frequently produces bashfulness than too high an opinion of our own importance.  A man considers that what he shall say or do shall never be forgotten; that renown or infamy are suspended from every syllable; and that nothing ought to fall from him which will not bear the test of time. – Samuel Johnson
  • The church that marries the spirit of an age becomes a widow in the next generation. – William Inge
  • True wit consists not in speaking much but in speaking much in a few words. – Delariviere Manley
  • Don't ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up. – Robert Frost
  • Silence is the greatest virtue: for by it you hear other men’s imperfections and conceal your own. – Zeno

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Greatest of These is Worship

From time to time the church should take stock of that which is most central, most important, most vital in our common life together. Though we sing with the tongues of men and of angels, if we are not truly worshipping the living God, we are noisy gongs and clanging cymbals. Though we organize the liturgy most beautifully, if it does not enable us to worship the living God, we are mere ballet-dancers. Though we repave the floor and reface the stonework, though we balance our budgets and attract all the tourists, if we are not wor­shipping God, we are nothing.

Worship is humble and glad; worship forgets itself in remembering God; worship celebrates the truth as God's truth, not its own. True worship doesn't put on a show or make a fuss; true worship isn't forced, isn't half-hearted, doesn't keep looking at its watch, doesn't worry what the person in the next pew may be doing. True worship is open to God, adoring God, waiting for God, trusting God even in the dark.

Worship will never end; whether there be buildings, they will crumble; whether there be committees, they will fall asleep; whether there be budgets, they will add up to nothing. For we build for the present age, we discuss for the present age, and we pay for the present age; but when the age to come is here, the present age will be done away. For now we see the beauty of God through a glass, darkly, but then face to face; now we appreciate only part, but then we shall affirm and appreciate God, even as the living God has affirmed and appreciated us. So now our tasks are wor­ship, mission and management, these three; but the greatest of these is worship.

And do you see why it's so easy to create that pastiche of 1 Corinthians 13, substituting 'worship' for 'love'? Wor­ship is nothing more nor less than love on its knees before the beloved; just as mission is love on its feet to serve the beloved - and just as the Eucharist, as the climax of wor­ship, is love embracing the beloved and so being streng­thened for service.

But this is only true if it's the true God you're wor­shipping.

[N.T. Wright, For All God’s Worth, pp.8-9]

Saturday, March 26, 2011

An "Updated" Faith

An imbecile habit has arisen in modern controversy of saying that such and such a creed was credible in the twelfth century but is not credible in the twentieth. You might as well say that a certain philosophy can be believed on Mondays but cannot be believed on Tuesdays.
[G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy]

There are always attempts to “update” the Faith, as if eternal truth can somehow go out of date. These schemes always have secular sources. They are always an attempt to get the Church to follow the world, not the other way around. The new theologians often say that the old creeds need re-statement; but though they say it, they do not mean it. They mean exactly the opposite. They do not mean that we should find new words to express the exact meaning of the old doctrines. They mean that we should say old words, but agree they mean something entirely different.
[G.K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News]

Friday, March 25, 2011

Not Committing Suicide

Dale Ahlquist wrote that most modern poetry can be described as variations on a suicide note. It is one long cry of despair, dark and depressing and demoralizing. The poets are angry at lovers, angry at the world, angry at existence. They are angry at God for making this mess, or, if they don’t believe in him, they are angry at God for not existing. Their poems are odes to destruction, decay, and death. In fact, the rarest of all poetry written in the last century would be a poem about not committing suicide. But there was one poet who did write such a poem:           

The gallows in my garden, people say,           
Is new and neat and adequately tall.           
I tie the noose on in a knowing way           
As one that knots his necktie for a ball;           
But just as all the neighbours—on the wall—           
Are drawing a long breath to shout “Hurray!”           
The strangest whim has seized me. . . . After all           
I think I will not hang myself today.

[“A Ballad of Suicide,” in The Collected Poems of G.K. Chesterton]

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Riddles of God

G.K. Chesterton’s favorite book of the Bible was Job. He describes how Job faces the universal question of suffering. As Job reaches his limit, he wants some answers from God.  As God enters the story, however, He doesn’t answer Job’s questions but rather asks Job some questions of His own, such as, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the world?” In this process, while God doesn’t directly answer Job’s questions, Job seems to be satisfied. Chesterton observes:

Job was comfortless before the speech of Jehovah and is comforted after it. He has been told nothing, but he feels the terrible and tingling atmosphere of something which is too good to be told. The refusal of God to explain His design is itself a burning hint of His design. The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man…

Job is not told that his misfortunes were due to his sins or a part of any plan for his improvement. . . . We see Job tormented not because he was the worst of men, but because he was the best. It is the lesson of the whole work that man is most comforted by paradoxes; and it is by all human testimony the most reassuring. I need not suggest what a high and strange history awaited this paradox of the best man in the worst fortune. I need not say [whose wounds are] pre-figured in the wounds of Job.

[“Introduction to the Book of Job,” Chesterton Review, vol. 11, no.1, Feb. 1985.]

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

God and Legos

11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
     The plans of His heart to all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
     The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.
                                                Psalm 33:11-12

Have you ever looked into a large bag full of Legos?  What a jumbled up mess! Can you see a house or a airplane in there?  For some of us it’s hard to imagine how all those pieces will come together. But if we look at the plans we are able to see how all the pieces, big and small, fit together. The Bible is God’s plan book.

Look at all the things, or pieces, in the worldbig and small. It also looks like a jumbled up mess to us! But the Bible tells us that God is in control of all the pieces. Together they fit into a perfect plan He has already made. He put His Son, Jesus, in charge of that plan. Everything that happens-to you, to the President, to a tiny germ, or to a huge volcano-all these things are ruled over by Jesus; they are a part of His plan.  Even the enemies of Jesus fit into His plan.

What has God planned? He has planned to build up His kingdom. As one of His children, you too are part of that plan.

13 For You formed my inward parts;
     You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
     Marvelous are Your works,
     And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
     When I was made in secret,
     And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
     And in Your book they all were written,
     The days fashioned for me,
     When as yet there were none of them.
Psalm 139:13-16

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). When the plan is finished, and all the pieces are in place, Jesus will hand it over to His Father (haven’t you ever shown your parents what you built with your Legos when it was finished?). “Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:24-26).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Argument from Desire (Part 5 of 5)

Note that Lewis does not claim certainty for the conclusion here, just probability. The conclusion is only a hypothesis that explains the data better than any other; he does not say it proves with certainty that this hypothesis is true.

Yet it does show the practical necessity of taking this desire seriously: “I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country” (Mere Christianity 105). Like Pascal’s “Wager,” the ar­gument here shows that you are a fool if you turn your back on this strong clue, this strong probability that infinite happiness ex­ists and that you are designed to enjoy it.

In the introduction to The Pilgrim’s Regress, Lewis does two things more clearly than he does anywhere else. First, he defines exactly how this one unquenchable desire differs from all others. Second, he argues from the principle that nature makes nothing in vain to the conclusion that the one who can satisfy this desire must exist.

The experience is one of intense longing. It is distinguished from other longings by two things. In the first place, though the sense of want is acute and even painful, yet the mere wanting is felt to be somehow a delight…. This hunger is better than any other fullness; this poverty better than all other wealth…. In the second place, there is a peculiar mystery about the object of this desire…. Every one of these supposed objects for the desire is inadequate to it. It appears to me therefore that if a man diligent­ly followed this desire, pursuing the false objects until their falsity appeared and then resolutely abandoning them, he must come out at last into the clear knowledge that the human soul was made to enjoy some object that is never fully given―nay, cannot even be imagined as given―in our present mode of subjective and spatio­temporal experience. This desire was, in the soul, as the Siege Perilous in Arthur’s castle―the chair in which only one could sit. And if nature makes nothing in vain, the One who can sit in this chair must exist. (7-8, 10)

Here the conclusion is not called “the most probable explanation” but something which “must exist.” If nature makes nothing in vain, if you admit that premise, then the conclusion necessarily follows. Of course, one who wants to refuse to admit the conclusion at all costs will deny the premise―at the cost of a meaningful universe, a universe in which desires and satis­factions match.

In other words, God can be avoided. All we need do is embrace “vanity of vanities” instead. It is a fool’s bargain, of course: Everything is exchanged for Nothing―a trade even the Boston Red Sox are not fool enough to make.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Christin's Quote Book

  • Thinking isn't agreeing or disagreeing. That's voting.  – Robert Frost
  • Whenever I am asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one. – Flannery O’Connor
  • I insist on thinking that a lot of their troubles would be lessened if they both took to drinking only unfermented beverages. – Flannery O’Connor
  • His brain was as slick as his eyeballs and the truth would no more soak into it than rain would penetrate tin. – Flannery O’Connor, The Violent Bear it Away
  • He who waits to do a great deal of good at once, will never do anything. – Samuel Johnson

The Argument from Desire (Part 4 of 5)

Examples of the Argument

Surprised by Joy—which traces this desire, or “Joy” through Lewis’s life―first defines the desire, in contradistinction to other desires, as follows: it is “an unsatisfied desire which is it­self more desirable than any other satisfaction” (17-18). Mere Christianity ’s use of the argument from desire is also es­sentially practical, meant to head the reader off from two popular mistakes. Lewis first calls our attention to the desire; then to two mistakes about it; then comes the argument itself:

Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise…. Now there are two wrong ways of dealing with this fact, and one right way.

The Fool’s Way
He puts the blame on the things them­selves. He goes on all his life thinking that if only he tried another woman, or holiday, or whatever, then this time he would really catch the mysterious something…

The Way of the Disillusioned “Sensible Man”
He soon decides that the whole thing was moonshine. And so he represses the part of himself which used to cry for the moon. . . .
The Christian Way

The Christian says [and here is the ar­gument]: Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. (104-5)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Argument from Desire (Part 3 of 5)

 A Word About the Conclusion

The conclusion of the argument, though, is not that every­thing which is meant by God or Heaven in the popular imagina­tion or in the Bible must exist. What the argument proves to exist is unidentifiable with any image or representation.

The argument’s conclusion is the concept of an unknown x, but an unknown whose direction is known, so to speak. God is more―more beauty, more desirability, more awesomeness. God is to great beauty what great beauty is to small beauty or to a mixture of beauty and ugliness. The same is true of God and other perfections. But the “more” is infinitely more; thus the anal­ogy is not proportionate. Twenty is to ten what ten is to five, but infinity is not to twenty what twenty is to ten, or five, or one. But it is “in that direction,” so to speak.

The argument is like a parable: it points down an infinite corridor in a finite direc­tion. Its object is not “God” as God has been conceived and defined for us already, but a movingly mysterious x which is al­ways more than any image, notion, or concept. This x, in other words, does not presuppose but supplies a definition of God, and one which reverses the normal positive notion of definition (de­fino) by asserting that God is the one not capturable in any finite terms. The “definition” of this “God” is “that which is more than any definition”: the God whom “eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man” (1 Cor. 2:9). In other words, this is the true God, the truly transcendent God.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Argument from Desire (Part 2 of 5)

A Word About Each Premise

The major premise―that all natural or innate desires have real objects―implicitly distinguishes desires into two kinds: innate and natural, or conditioned and artificial. We naturally desire things like food, drink, sex, knowledge, friendship, and beauty, and naturally turn away from things like starvation, ignorance, loneliness, and ugliness. But we also desire things like Rolls Royces, political offices, flying through the air like Superman, a Red Sox world championship, and lands like Oz. There are two differences between the two lists. First, we do not always recognize corresponding states of deprivation of the second, as we do with the first. And, most importantly, the first list of desires all come from within, from our nature; the second come from without, from society, or advertising, or fiction. The first desires come from spiritual heredity; the second come from the environment.

The minor premise of the argument―that we have an unsatisfiable innate desire―is an empirical observation, if “empirical” is extended to cover inner experience as well as outer, introspection as well as extrospection. The argument then depends on a personal appeal to introspective experience. Just as we cannot argue effectively about color with a blind man because he has no data, so we cannot argue about this desire with someone who cannot find the desire in question within, or who refuses to look for it, or who refuses to admit its presence once it is found. But, then, such a person cannot argue against us either.

Kreeft points out that we cannot force the skeptic to admit the existence of a desire for a perfect object, or for perfect joy, that no earthly object and no earthly pleasure can fulfill. “If someone blandly says, ‘I am per fectly happy playing with mud pies (or fast cars or money or political power),’ we can query, ‘Are you, really?’ but we can only try to inveigle him out of his childishness, we cannot compel him by logical force.”

“In a sense, the minor premise of the argument is more interesting than the argument itself.” When we have a choice between the perfect heavenly beloved and the perfect heavenly beloved, we will always choose the heavenly. As Lewis says, “Joy is not a substitute for sex; sex is often a substitute for Joy” (Surprised by Joy 170).

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Argument from Desire (Part 1 of 5)

In the book, The Riddle of Joy, Peter J. Kreeft presents C.S. Lewis’ “Argument from Desire,” which he describes as “the single most intriguing argument in the history of human thought.” I too, find it intriguing and therefore, thought I would pass the heart of it along to you. The following are excerpts from Kreeft.

The major premise of the argument is that every natural or innate desire in us bespeaks a corresponding real object that can satisfy the desire. The minor premise is that there exists in us a desire which nothing in time, nothing on earth, no creature, can satisfy. The con­clusion is that there exists something outside of time, earth, and crea­tures which can satisfy this desire.

This something is what people call God, and Heaven. Thus the argument seeks to prove the existence of God and of Heaven via this one aspect of them, desirableness, just as Aquinas’s five ways” seek to prove the existence of God under five aspects, concluding with: “And this is what people call ‘God.’”

Thursday, March 17, 2011

New Digital Books

Covenant Media Press is in the process of converting their publications into digital books. Four titles are now available. (You can find them HERE)

  • Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith, Greg Bahnsen
  • Homosexuality, A Biblical View, Greg Bahnsen (out of print for 30 years)
  • The Apologetic Implications of Self-Deception, Greg Bahnsen (new publication―Bahnsen’s dissertation)
  • The Destruction of Jerusalem: An Absolute and Irresistible Proof of the Divine Origin of Christianity, George Peter Holford

Each of these digital books is available in one of three formats: PDF, Kindle, or Epub.

Covenant Media Press will be posting additional titles over the next several weeks, so check back from time to time.

Chestertonian Pearls

From Common Sense 101:
  • “Men can always be blind to a thing so long as it is big enough. It is so difficult to see the world in which we live.” 
  • “There is no way out of danger except the dangerous way.”
  • “The worshipper never feels taller than when he bows.”
  • “Anything beautiful always means more than it says.”
  • “Take away the supernatural and what remains is the unnatural.”
  • “People who pretend to be impartial are always partial.”
  • “We are learning to do a great many clever things…. The next great task will be to learn not to do them.”
  • “To compare the present and the past is like comparing a drop of water and the sea.”
  • “There is no obligation on us to be richer, or busier, or more efficient, or more productive, or progressive, or in any way worldlier or wealthier if it does not make us happier.
  • In reflecting on the famous Gospel story about Jesus casting out a demon, Chesterton says that in the modern world, “we have left out nothing except the Redeemer, we have kept the devils and the swine. 
  • “Mere pursuit of health always leads to something unhealthy.”
  • “Angels fly because they take themselves lightly.”
  • “The first effect of not believing in God, is that you lose your common sense.”
  • “Man has always lost his way, but our problem is that we have not only lost our way; we’ve lost our address.”

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pretending Not to Know

Dale Ahlquist noted: “Now, we could say, ‘Forgive them for they know not what they do.’ We could. But I have this sneaking suspicion that they do know what they’re doing. And I suspect that Chesterton suspected the same thing. He says that the problem with the man of modern science is not that he is trying to know what he does not know, but that he is ‘pretending not to know what he does know. And what is it that he pretends not to know? Well, it has something to do with those three words, “In the beginning . . .”’

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Difficulty of Change

“Change for some people is difficult to accept. Change is dif­ficult because change means doing something new, something unusual, something not done before. It usually means ex­changing old habit patterns for new ones. Such change is a threat. They are afraid of the unknown, and therefore unwill­ing to launch out into new adventures. But to a Christian, change should be thrilling rather than threatening. The Chris­tian life is an adventure into God's newness. Newness need not make the Christian feel insecure because the future is new only in that he has not yet experienced it; it is not unknown to God. Christ is the pioneer of the Christian's faith. He is its author and finisher. He knows all about our lives. Christ him­self has experienced the worst this life has to offer, all that death holds, and now stands victorious on the other side of both in eternal glory. So for the Christian the providence of God is a vital reality. The Savior has blazed a trail before him.

A Christian sins if he becomes a static sedentary person who fears positive biblical change and frantically clings to the past, either in his personality growth, in his life decisions, or in his manner of living. To resist sanctifying change is to resist and grieve the Holy Spirit. The scriptural doctrine of sanctifi­cation necessarily involves growth in holiness. Christians must change in order to become more like Christ. Growth means changing into the fullness of the stature of Christ. In principle it is true that believers have been declared perfect in Christ, but now they must grow more like Christ in practice. New truths discovered in the study of the Scriptures must become new practices woven into the fabric of one's daily life. Funda­mentally, then, pastoral counseling is helping Christians to be­come sanctified. Counseling involves helping people to put off old patterns which grew out of rebellion toward God, and helping them to put on new practices which grow out of obe­dience to God. This is the shepherd's challenge, opportunity and duty.”

[Jay Adams, Competent to Counsel, pp. 76-77]

Monday, March 14, 2011

Christin's Quote Book

  • If you want to ingratiate yourself to him, all you have to do is mention that you were born in Idaho – a fact which I hope that, as a rule, you carefully conceal. – P.G. Wodehouse, The Small Bachelor
  • Every time I read Pride and Prejudice, I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shinbone. – Mark Twain
  • Mrs. Allen was one of that numerous class of women whose society can raise no other emotion but surprise at their being any men in the world who could like them well enough to marry them. – Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
  • Familiarity breeds contempt – and children. – Mark Twain
  • There are some circumstances, which even women cannot control – female economy will do a great deal – but it cannot turn a small income into a large one. – Jane Austen, The Watsons

Sanctification Means Change

“Sanctification means more than learning what the Bible teaches. It involves personal change.' Sometimes when coun­selees are cornered and forced to acknowledge that their be­havior is irresponsible, they attempt to dodge the issue by re­plying: "Well, I guess that's just the way I am." They say this in a resigned manner and expect to leave the whole matter right there. They speak as though there were no possibility for genuine personality change. Such a view of man is decid­edly unscriptural. Human beings in one way might be de­scribed more accurately as human becomings. Personality can be changed. God, throughout history, has turned Jacobs into Israels, Simons into Peters and Sauls into Pauls. Today's personality is based on yesterday. What one is today is but the composite of his past. At birth, God gave to each of us a basic deposit of inherited stuff which Scripture calls phusis (nature). This is a matter of gene makeup. But that is not personality. How one uses the phusis in responding to life's prob­lems and life's challenges determines the personality. Those response patterns may become deeply etched over a period of time. At length, they may seem to be, as we say, "second na­ture," i.e., almost as "given" as the original phusis. Though habit patterns are hard to change, change is not impossible. Nouthetic counselors regularly see patterns of 30-40 years' duration altered. What was learned can be unlearned. An old dog can learn new tricks…. Wherever the Holy Spirit's activity is demon­strated, people are changed. God says, "Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." Static living, static decisions, static personality is inconsistent with the biblical picture of the new life. Where there is life there is growth,' and growth means change. Growth means maturation; it means refining of ideas and ways of doing things. So a Christian counselee must not be allowed to plead that he is what he is and nothing can be done about it.”

[Jay Adams, Competent to Counsel, pp. 74-76]

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Truly Sympathetic

 “Counselors fail when they become too sympathetic toward excuses and do not hold counselees responsible for their be­havior, but they can never fail when they become truly sym­pathetic toward them. Perhaps the first attitude may be called sympathy and the latter empathy. [The terms are unimportant, and merely help to distinguish true from false sympathy.] When counselors simply become softhearted, they are most unmerciful toward their counselees. The most kindly (empathetic) stance is to tell the truth, help the counselee to face up to his own sin, and en­courage him to make the changes necessary to rectify the situation.”

[Jay Adams, Competent to Counsel, p. 58]

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Who Are You?

We’ve heard it said that “you are what you eat,” but more accurately, we should say, “you are what you love.” We’re motivated by our desires and our desires flow from our heart. We don’t have to hunt for what a person loves because it always comes out; it comes out of their mouths and their fingertips. You can ask others, and if they know that person at all, they’ll all be able to tell you what that person loves. In so doing, they’re also telling you who that person is.

Among the many loves a person has there are some ultimate loves; things we desire above everything else; things that shape our attitudes and behavior. To these loves we have pledged ourselves (formally or informally), and devoted our lives to honor them. For some, love of self is paramount, and it finds expression in a variety of idols including careers, possessions, wealth, entertainment, or simply some other form of self-indulgence. Others have heard the gospel call and forsaken that first love of self and now follow Christ. Love for God and neighbor have become the central thing. At the end of the day, our greatest love is the thing we worship.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Being Seen

Jesus chastised the Pharisees for performing their charitable deeds and prayers on the street corners in order to receive glory from men. He recommended that they move it to the closet for a while to see if they were as pious in secret as they were in public. Hypocrisy always has a public side. But, like many of the paradoxes of Scripture, there is another aspect to public performance. Jesus also said, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16).

Sometimes, however, the godly are too secretive and the world grows suspicious, wondering what they’re up to. Wisdom calls for a balance and a consistency between what we do in secret and what we do in public. We shouldn’t perform publicly for show and neither should we hide genuine godliness. We represent Him and we should represent Him often and well. The Pharisees sought glory for themselves, when it was glory for the Father they should have sought instead. Our children, neighbors, friends and coworkers should see many examples of our love for Christ and His kingdom. They should hear us speak of Him and see us serving Him on a regular basis. In fact, when our hearts are right, we should make sure they see us. This why the Apostle Paul could humbly say, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

You Don’t Have to Like It

As a follow-up to the “Happy Eyes” post (below), my son reminded me of something he heard me say on many occasions when he was but a lad: “You don’t have to like it, you just have to eat it.” This is a basic principle all children need to learn because they’re going to need it when they’re adults, and if they don’t learn it, they won’t really become adults.

Life is full of duties, and a duty is something we have to do whether we like it or not. Duty is something that one is expected or required to do by moral or legal obligation e.g., the respectful and obedient conduct due a parent, superior, superior, elder, etc. So, for example, a child is not required to like his carrots, but he is required to eat them if that is what his parent told him to do. The parent is in a position of authority and sees what is good for the child regarding the nutrition of carrots; the child, not appreciating this truth, complains, “I don’t like carrots.” The parent responds, “You don’t have to like them, you just have eat them.” When the child eats them he does his duty, obeying his parent. He also reaps the nutritional benefits. Perhaps, later, he will also come to carrots.

A person who has learned to do their duty, and not simply to follow the impulses of their likes and dislikes, has not only learned to see beyond the moment, they have learned to trust God who has given authority to others over them. A person who cannot submit to others cannot submit to God. Like a child, their short-sighted desires dictate their behavior. Moreover, like spoiled and indulged children, these “grown-ups” are no fun to be around.