Archive for October, 2010

I’m tired of it. I’m tired of watching hours of useless YouTube videos late into the night. I’m done with wasting absurd amounts of time on Facebook and blogs, only to crash in bed too exhausted to do anything but think about how much I could be accomplishing if I was actually devoted to something. I’m sick of wondering why my relationship with God is so distant and dull, when in reality it’s painfully obvious. I’m worn out by imagining what it would be like to really live for Christ and develop my gifts, and then watching the clock race and revolve as those gifts gather dust.

This isn’t how it’s supposed to be. Life isn’t supposed to be so monotonous and draining. It’s not supposed to be so thoughtless and empty. I don’t want to be the guy who buried his talent in the ground.

So I’m quitting Facebook, YouTube, blogs, and any other internet entertainment for the next three months in faith that God will restore joy to my heart as I seek him. Any internet use that is not related to school or church will be postponed until at least January 11th. If you think of it, please pray for me that I will experience God’s peace vividly over these next few months, and for strength to overcome temptation.

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Zero Tolerance

Posted: October 7, 2010 in Uncategorized

There’s a lot of talk lately about how Christians are completely intolerant. It seems we’re a bunch of homophobic, narrow-minded chauvinists. At the top of the list along with hypocritical, it appears we’re incredibly intolerant. Good! I’m so glad we’re still hanging on to at least some shred of intolerance. Well, at least by the contemporary meaning of tolerance these days.

You see, tolerance used to mean that you could passionately disagree with somebody and completely hate their ideas, but with every ounce of your being you would defend their right to speak their beliefs. That’s essentially the idea behind our First Amendment. But somewhere along the road, we’ve turned tolerance into a really wimpy idea. Nowadays, tolerance is thought of as the accepting of all ideas as equally valid. It’s part of the pluralistic way of thinking we’ve inherited from post-modernism, which says there aren’t any right and wrong absolutes. And since these absolutes have been removed from the playing field, you’re extremely arrogant if you think your ideas are fundamentally right and another person’s are fundamentally bogus. You’re intolerant if you think that homosexuality is anything but an alternative lifestyle and have enough conviction to state that belief. You’re intolerant if you think a mother shouldn’t be able to have an abortion. And you’re really intolerant if you think you have to place your faith in Jesus Christ to be saved.

But this is absurd! How is it ok to compartmentalize tolerance into material and ideological? In the same nation that we herald tolerance of ideas, we esteem our zero tolerance standards in schools for drugs, guns, and deviant behavior. I think the reason for this compartmentalization is that we see ideas as essentially harmless. But they’re not. Beliefs motivate action.

You’ve probably seen the show “intervention.” After a person has suffered from some harmful lifestyle (usually drugs or alcohol), family and friends of that person will hold an intervention to help that person rid themselves of what’s affecting them. Aren’t they being intolerant? How can they say they are right and the person snorting heroin is wrong for doing it? Isn’t it oppressive and arrogant to infringe upon that person’s freedom of choice?

Yes, that’s a ridiculous idea, and yet we apply that approach to tolerance of ideas. The fact is, some beliefs are stupid or wrong, and we are obligated to fight for truth for the well-being of the upholder of bad ideas. And we expect others to challenge our stupid beliefs. If a person believes it’s acceptable to walk around New York City butt-naked, you better believe his belief is going to be confronted, and for good reason.

There’s a sad story in 1 Corinthians 5 of a man in the Corinthian church who was incestuous (actually had his own mother). Paul has to call out the Corinthians because in the name of tolerance they let the man go unchallenged. Listen to what he says: “And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present.” Whoa, Paul’s not being tolerant and he’s passing judgment. I’m pretty sure he broke two cherished rules in the American Christianity rulebook!

So we need to redefine our definition of tolerance. It’s impossible to work with this idea that everybody needs to be accepting of everybody else’s ideas, because that’s garbage. Only a stupid person is accepting of everyone’s ideas about everything. That’s an awfully intolerant thing to say, isn’t it?

Of course, we should disagree compassionately, usually gently (although there are times for passionate contending), and in love for those with whom we are disagreeing. Our purpose shouldn’t be to show that we are right, but to show others the truth, because there is such a thing as truth and there is freedom in it. But the point is, we need to realize it’s ok, and in fact necessary, to disagree!

[Not] Funny the Way it is

Posted: October 7, 2010 in Uncategorized

Carter Beauford of Dave Matthews Band is my favorite drummer, and the main reason I listen to DMB’s music. While the music of Dave Matthews provides great enjoyment, it also keeps me on my guard as I listen because I disagree with 90% of their lyrical content. No amount of mesmerizing hi-hat stickwork can change that. Case in point: their song, “Funny the Way it is.” Check out the first portion of these lyrics:

Lying in the park on a beautiful day
Sunshine in the grass, and the children play
Siren’s passing, fire engine red
Someone’s house is burning down on a day like this

The evening comes and we’re hanging out
On the front step and a car rolls by with the windows rolled down
And that war song is playing, “why can’t we be friends?”
Someone is screaming and crying in the apartment upstairs

Funny the way it is, if you think about it
Somebody’s going hungry and someone else is eating out
Funny the way it is, not right or wrong
Somebody’s heart is broken and it becomes your favorite song

The whole song contrasts the easy, free, happy lives of some and the painful, poor lives of others. Some people live luxuriously, eating out and enjoying time with their family while others wonder why they should bother to go on living after deaths in the family or other deep heartache. What explanation can there be for such disparity of experiences? Why is life so unfair? Well, says, Dave Matthews, it’s really not unfair. It’s “funny the way it is, not right or wrong,” he says.

This summarizes the secular humanistic explanation of life’s joys and tragedies so prevalent in America. It’s all the roll of the dice, a cosmic chance whether you live in North America or South Africa. It’s not an accident some people starve to death or millions of people die from AIDS. It’s not an accident because there’s no purpose to begin with. There’s no ideal, no standard, no sense of “things ought not be this way.”

But it’s not funny the way it is! It’s intensely grieving that other human beings are afflicted in such deplorable ways. One day, all things will be restored for those who are in Christ, and all will be new and perfect, but that day has yet to come. And until that day, we rejoice with those who rejoice, but we also weep with those who weep. Until that day, our beloved fellow human beings suffer cancer, death of parents, children, and friends, car accidents, paralysis, strokes, heart attacks, divorce, dysfunction in the family, abuse, and countless other woes. As much as some people would like to deny that life was intended to be some other way, observing afflictions obviously compels people to think about the hard questions of life. For some, it’s easiest to just dismiss it all as coincidence. It’s funny the way it is. For others, seeing atrocities spurs them on to vehemently deny the existence of God. For example, Richard Dawkins seems to have made it his quest to teach that if God were real, all the catastrophes and human suffering in the world make Him a vengeful, unjust God. Either way, suffering compels people to make a conclusion. The issue confronts everybody at some point, and I think the fact that we can’t comfortably shake off this feeling that something isn’t right about the way things are vividly shows how man is created in the image of God, with a longing for redemption. It’s not funny the way it is. It’s really, really sad sometimes.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” -Revelation 21:1-5

Where are the Guys?

Posted: October 2, 2010 in Uncategorized

Have you ever showed up to a church event and thought, “Did I make a mistake and come to a Gilmore Girls viewing party? Is this a ballet class? Maybe I accidentally showed up for a screening of Oprah?” The proportion of women to men is so often astronomical (I had to type out astronomical about 57 times before I got it right, since my fingers don’t seem to like that word). Also, since I mentioned Gilmore Girls, let me enrich your life by publicly banning such a ridiculous show. It has enough dialogue in one episode for 5 full length movies, and as for the plot, even the writers of Napoleon Dynamite are left saying, “What is the point of this?” Moving on…

Why are there so few guys at any church functions? Last year, I was often the only male in my small group besides the leader, and this year I’ve got one or two wingmen that show up week to week. Music rehearsals, youth events, singles’ events, you name it, there is probably at least a 2-1 women to men ratio. Even our Christian Club over at the college that Eric and I have been privileged to start back up has noticeably more girls than guys. I have noticed that when the ages start getting higher, men are more and more faithful to start attending and serving, but at least in this age bracket of high school- and college-aged, participation is largely female.

Am I missing something? We as men are the ones who will one day, Lord willing, be in charge of leading and serving a wife and family. We’re the ones called to sacrifice for and lead in our churches. If now is time to begin preparing for those roles, I’m afraid we’re going to see a generation of ill-equipped men. Guys, let’s take advantage of the opportunities we have in our churches to train for that day that most of us are called to where we will be leading our kids in devotions, teaching them to pray, showing them what it means to serve others with our lives. If we don’t, who are we assuming will? And if we acknowledge that we are the ones who will likely be called to such things, why are we slacking in our preparation for that time?

Let’s man up and show up.