Friday, August 31, 2007

And Now For Something Completely Different

The Kung Fu smackdown could be happening any day now. Read all about it right here. To the ladies who come here from Lisa's Place, please politely ignore this as a silly man post. I will return to more substantive thought later.

A ninja verses a whole clan of Shaolin Monks? Where is Bruce Lee when you need him?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

To the Work!

Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us (2 Thess. 3:6).

Christians are not to be an idle folk. If someone claims to be a Christian, and they do not seek gainful employment, then we are told in the strictest of terms to have nothing to do with this person. Paul says this is not the "tradition" which they received. The tradition they received was this, "We were not ilde when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate" (2 Thess. 3:7-9).

Hopefully, you are not serving in a church with a great number of household heads who are unwilling to work to pay the bills and feed the family. If you are, then these people need a stern rebuke. I am more concerned with what we are teaching our young. My observations of the young adult population leaves much to be desired in this area.

Children of Christians ought to learn to work like Christians. A child ought to learn to do chores around the house as soon as they are able to do so. It teaches two things: Responsibility and Authority.

They learn responsibility by understanding that it is not mom's job to keep their room clean. And they learn that house-keeping is a family effort. Learning to take active stewardship over things is an essential part of a mature Christianity.

Authority is as important a lesson as learning responsibility. I seriously doubt that any child but Jesus cleaned his room without great threats and punishments. Teaching a child to work will positively teach them about the joy of a job well done, and negatively about a job ignored. Depending on the age, two things will result from neglect of duty: a red fanny or a loss of privilege. The end result should be the same: a clean room, like it or not.

I write this because one of the constant complaints from local companies is the inability to get young people who are willing to work. I believe this complaint is a serious reflection on our society as a whole, and it is a complaint that should never be leveled against Christians. We are, by nature, slothful creatures. One of the duties of the parent is train this tendency out. It is no easy task, but it must be done if we do not want to raise a generation of flakes.

A couple a generations before us, children had plenty of chores and responsibility. This was out of necessity as much as Biblical injunction. Presently, such labor is hardly necessary for survival. Indeed, the chores that we give our children may be trivial by comparison. And yet, it seems that parents have more problems getting children to comply with the trivial than our forefathers did with the intensive labors of old. We fuss with children over taking out the trash, they used to have to slop the pigs, feed the chickens, and milk the cow before school started. This mutiny against a clean room or trash duty is nothing but laziness and rebellion against authority.

A Christian child should be diligent in schoolwork and chores or whatever they put their hand to do. They ought to be an example of hard work and a willing laborer. Parents, we must teach our children to do this.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Michael Vick, Dead Dogs, and Goofy Morality

I have a passing interest in the NFL. Like many American men, I pride myself in being a fine fantasy football manager. Though the reality is that I have yet to win a Super Bowl, I have become familiar with many of the players, and consequently, with their deeds, both good and bad.

Michael Vick, the former quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, recently pled guilty to dog-fighting. In case you didn't know, that's precisely why he is now the former quarterback and not the current quarterback. The outrage over his involvement in the brutal fighting of dogs has been very vocal. His punishment has also been severe, he is suspended from football and I have read that the Falcons are asking for their $37 million dollars back. Ouch.

Vick and his fellows are guilty of illegal dog-fighting. These fights are vicious, and they often result in the death of the losing dog. For the majority of Americans this is morally reprehensible and even worse than chicken fighting. (I suppose that dogs are more valuable than chickens because they are smarter, more loyal and less tasty.)

I concede that Michael Vick should not have been dog-fighting. What strikes me as odd, however, is the furor that has arisen over this and the demand for his excommunication from football. Michael Vick is hardly the only felon in the NFL. Indeed, many of the players in the NFL have been convicted of assault, battery, felony drug possession, and etc. Some, perhaps, have multiple accounts of one or more. Such behavior hardly raises a whimper, much less the hoopla that Vick's actions have raised. The bottom line is this: We live in a world where it is bad to beat your wife, but worse to shoot a dog. (Did you know that the Jacksonville Jaguars donated $30,000 to Planned Parenthood? See here.)

With that, I am going back to my rest. I am still queasy, mostly from this invasive virus, and partly because this world can make me nauseous.

(HT: Justin Taylor)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

No Creative Writing Today

My son was up all night getting rid of his food out the wrong end. It's terrible to watch a 2 year old be sick who does not comprehend what's happening to him, especially when it is your son. I'm sure that there is a sermon illustration or something in there somewhere, but right now, I've gotten what he has. So, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go and lie down and be miserable. Come, Lord Jesus!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Wow, Check This Out!

Jules at Everyday Mommy has redesigned my blog. I feel like I've been on one of those makeover shows that my wife watches on HGTV. I left the house with the ugly carpet, barren walls, and mismatched furniture to come home to a cool new place. It might be more fun to hang around here now.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Creative Writing: Luke 15:11-32, The Father's Heart

"I raised him better than this."

At least, he thought that he had. The grief washed over him again, the kind of grief that assails with pictures of love. Tiny hands clenching and unclenching, soft hands and baby smells come, as bold and real as yesterday, undimmed by time and longing. Visions of skinned knees and big hugs and I love yous roll in his heart like slow moving tides, gently grinding him to powder. Where had the time gone?

Oh that boy! That boy who said what he thought, that boy who would not quit until he had it. He had admired that in his son, even when the boy was wrong. The boy had a will to follow his heart, come what may. In the end, that may be why he gave into the demand, that heartless demand, born from the selfish heart of youth. He would not be dissuaded until he had it.

He took his inheritance from the living and left him as dead. And part of him was dead, in his greed the boy had taken more than money. Part of the father's life was bound up in that boy, and he was killing it slowly and cruelly. Try as he might, the father still saw his son, his beloved son, even as the boy made his willful demands, even as he granted him the request that would surely be his end. The father died a thousand deaths each evening on his porch. Straining to see him return, hoping that all was not lost, and wondering if he had done the right thing.

That is why he sat on his porch and watched. He knew, even as doubt nagged him, that he had poured love into that boy. And love is not so easily lost. The boy might seek it in gold, and he might seek it in debauchery and high living, but he would not have it. Not like that. So the father gave him the thing that he thought he wanted, in hopes that he might discover the beauty of the thing he already had.

So the father had banked it all on folly's waste and love's strong chords. Yes, and that was wise, he hoped. He had been a good father because he loved, and it must be enough.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Creative Writing: 2 Corinthians 4:6

We are not alone, and we are afraid.

It grows on you, like the prickly, anxious sensation you have when you feel that someone is watching you. This feeling, this fear, this certainty grows until it grips you. It is a sort of intuition that is felt deeply in the spirit, and while it may be suppressed, it cannot be gotten rid of.

From the time we are small, there is a sort of vague fear that flits about in the shadows of our rooms and hides in our closets and under our beds. It is the creeping sense that we are not alone. I wonder how many parents have come to a child’s rescue, to prove that there are no monsters in the closet, only to hesitate at the thresh-hold of darkness and silently be thankful for the light-switch at the door?

I believe that this feeling that all men experience is actually a flash of insight into the unknown that should be known. We busy ourselves to push it away as imagination. Only, the thing in the closet of our mind that silently waits is no monster; no, it is far worse and yet better. For the blessed, the door to the closeted soul cracks, and much to their surprise, it is not a thing of darkness that floods in but a thing of light. It is not the closet that is dark; it is the desolate room in which we live. And what emerges is not a hideous monster, but a Being too stunningly beautiful to be imagined in such a darkened mind.

With the light comes the horror, only more terrible than we could have imagined. This light allows sight, true sight, for the first time. Instead of a monster emerging from the closet, we find that the monster is us. The Being, we know with certainty, has come to destroy us, not because it is evil, but because we are. The magnificence of this One is so great that a single look upon His countenance will make all who view Him seem loathsome to themselves; as creatures fit only to be trod underfoot. This is the agony of who we are.

Yet, though it seems incredible, He did not come to destroy, not entirely. To call Him “Being” will no longer do, we know that now. Something has stirred within us, something that cries out for the One who has come, something that longs to go with Him beyond the door, something that wishes to flee the darkness, something that is more than what we were and desires to be more than we are. He put this there, and the glory of His presence is burning everything away that does not resound with this love and this new life.

This is what happens to a soul in which the day dawns and to which the light comes at last. The gospel brings the dawn, and the Lord Jesus is the sun, and yet the sun is too lowly and dim to compare to His brilliance. This thing happened to me, and is happening to me now. As I look to Him, the door cracks further, and I long to be away, away to the light, away from my darkness, and into a place where no monsters dwell.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Most Glorious Day

I found a very wonderful thing today. It was the order of service from our wedding. On the inside cover I wrote these words on behalf of my future wife and me. I am so very thankful to God that our attitude on that day has not changed.

To Our Friends and Family,

We are delighted that you are able to join us for our wedding day. It is a day of great joy for us, and it is our sincere pleasure that you are here to share in this joy with us in bearing witness to the binding of our lives. It is our hope and prayer that this service will not be a time where you are a mere spectator. Instead, we invite you to join us in thanksgiving, and we ask you to pray for us to be faithful, to be visionary, and to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, with all of our soul, and with all of our might. We praise God for His goodness and kindness in bringing us together, and we recongize that our love for one another is only a reflection of the great love that God has for us. The Apostle John wrote, "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another" (1 John 4:10-11). In response to God's love for us throught Jesus Christ, we love God and one another. Today, we celebrate God's great love, and we covenant to so love one another. This service is arranged to demonstrate our desire to worship God through faithfulness to Him and to one another. Every song, every act, and every vow have been carefully thought through to ensure that the spotlight is cast, not upon us, but upon our great Lord who binds us together.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Much Like Moses

When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. (Exodus 4:21).

So Moses returned to the LORD and said, "Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people? Why is it You have sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all." (Exodus 5:22-23)

I love it that in chapter four, God explicitly tells Moses that He will harden Pharaoh's heart so that he will not let the people go. In the very next chapter, Moses is down in Egypt facing a hard hearted Pharaoh who will not let the people go, and he's upset. God gave Moses the heads up on what was about to take place, and yet by the end of chapter five Moses seems shocked that God has not yet delivered the people.

I wonder how many times we have done something similar? Did not Paul tell Timothy that those who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution? (2 Tim. 3:12). Did Paul not also say that we will be heirs of Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him? (Rom. 8:17). So why is it that when we suffer and are slandered, we act like this isn't supposed to happening and take it as a sign of God's abandonment? Did not Peter say "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you" (1 Peter 4:12).

Pastors abandon their posts over things like this. People flee from church to church over things like this. We nod in hearty agreement when we hear the above verses read, and then we whine like babies when it comes to pass. I'm guilty! I confess it! I'm a whiney baby like everyone else. I take great comfort in the fact that God is merciful to us in our weakness. He knows that hearing of a trial and bearing up under a trial are different things. I am tremendously happy that the Lord had patience with Moses and continued to use him. Persevere, brothers and sisters! The Lord said there'd be days like this, and He is faithful to do all that He has promised through us for His glory. "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart" (Gal. 6:9). Amen.