Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Holy Week Meditation

Do you have questions about the cross of Christ and His sacrificial atoning death?

Michael Card does us a wonderful service by articulating questions in music that are worth our pondering.

When you have a few minutes consider his song "Why?" (those using a reader will have to click through to the blog site). Why was Jesus betrayed by a friend? Why was Jesus' crown made of thorns? Why was the cross so rough and heavy?

Worship the Lord because of His loving sacrifice and His painful perseverance.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

James Cameron Reflects Changes in Western World

D.A. Carson has written, Scandalous: The Cross and Ressurection of Jesus and in it he retells a scene from the sinking of the Titanic both from history and James Cameron’s blockbuster film.

The illustration highlights the changes, shall we say “devolution” of Western culture over the past couple of generations.

Perhaps part of our slowness to come to grips with this truth lies in the way the notion of moral imperative has dissipated in much recent Western thought. Did you see the film Titanic that was screened about a dozen years ago? The great ship is full of the richest people in the world, and , according to the film, as the ship sinks, the rich men start to scramble for the few inadequate lifeboats, shoving aside the women and children in their desperate desire to live. British sailors draw handguns and fire into the air, crying “Stand back! Stand back! Women and children first!” In reality, of course, nothing like that happened. The universal testimony of the witnesses who survived the disaster is that the men hung back and urged the women and children into the lifeboats. John Jacob Astor was there, at the time the richest man on earth, the Bill Gates of 1912. He dragged his wife to a boat, shoved her on, and stepped back. Someone urged him to get in, too. He refused: the boats are too few, and must be for the women and children first. He stepped back, and drowned. The philanthropist Benjamin Guggenheim was present. He was traveling with his mistress, but when he perceived that it was unlikely he would survive, he told one of his servants, “Tell my wife that Benjamin Guggenheim knows his duty” –and he hung back, and drowned. There is not a single report of some rich man displacing women and children in the mad rush for survival.

When the film was reviewed in the New York Times, the reviewer asked why the producer and director of the film had distorted history so flagrantly in this regard. The scene as they depicted it was implausible from the beginning. British sailors drawing handguns? Most British police officers do not carry handguns; British sailors certainly do not. So why this willful distortion of history? And then the reviewer answered his own question: if the producer and director had told the truth, he said, no one would have believed them.

I have seldom read a more damning indictment of the development of Western culture, especially Anglo-Saxon culture, in the last century. One hundred years ago, there remained in our culture enough residue of the Christian virtue of self-sacrifice for the sake of others, of the moral imperative that seeks the other’s good at personal expense, that Christians and non-Christians alike thought it noble, if unremarkable, to choose death for the sake of others. A mere century later, such a course is judged so unbelievable that the history has to be distorted (30-31).

As I used Carson’s words to reflect on culture I had to bring it home and reflect on my personal life. How committed am I to Christian virtues of love, sacrifice and humility?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Prayers for Michael Spencer

I've been amazed at how much the blogosphere has come to mean to me over the years. Not only have a learned a lot from those that I read, I strangely feel a sense of community with several bloggers that I regularly read even though I've never personally met them.

You'll notice at the top of my blog roll is the Internet Monk or imonk, aka Michael Spencer in real life.

I've never met imonk nor had a personal exchange though I've commented on his blog a few times. imonk was the first blog that I really began to read regularly a few years ago. He has consistently stretched and challenged my thinking and often been a blessing to me.

Occasionally Michael would mention his wife Denise or his children or his beloved school where he has been a faculty member and minister for several years. Such references are part of what make me feel like I know Micahel and why I care about him and his life.

Michael was diagnosed with cancer a very few months ago. Today Denise let his readers know that they have stopped all treatment and the end is very near.

As you read my blog I would ask for a prayer for the Spencer family that God would have mercy and that God would comfort.

Soon imonk will be enjoying the presence of our Lord as many of us look forward to as well.

Michael Spencer went to be with the Lord Monday, April 5, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I Give Up

Recently a friend of mine got away for a personal retreat. During her reflections and journaling and while contending with various emotions, she wrote the following thoughts and allowed me to share them here.

I give up! I can’t do it anymore.
I give up!
I give up.
I give up.

I GIVE UP, spoken in moments of powerlessness and hopelessness are words that simultaneously communicate despair and the surprising, paradoxical potential to give birth to new hope, new freedom, restored connection to God and others. I give up can become some of the most powerful, life-transforming words I can speak. Spoken from the pit, I give up, can lift me to life.
If. . . .

I give up:
 Self-sufficiency
 Doing it my way.
 The critical and condemning voices in my head.
 The old coping strategies that no longer work.
 The law that condemns without hope.
 The lies that tell me I am separated from God by my badness, even Jesus’ death and resurrection cannot atone for.
 The old ways of protecting myself which have become bars between me and others who would love me.
 My false illusion that I can control others.
 My false illusion that I can control the world.
 My false gods in which I place my trust—power, money, approval, ______, ____.
 My prideful arrogance that says I don’t need anyone.
 My sinful attempts to escape truth.
 My denial.
 M y avoidance.
 My isolation.
 My misplaced judgment of myself and others that keeps me separated from Life and love.
 Desire for recognition.
 Family patterns that have become burdensome chains separating me from meaningful connection with others.
 Fears, founded and unfounded that keep me in bondage to addictions
 Mistrust in everyone.
 Fear-based procrastination.
 Laziness-based procrastination.
 Blame.
 Unrealistic expectations of perfection in myself and others.
 My anxiety and panic.
 My paralyzing fear of acknowledging mistakes and sin.
 My life in surrender to my Lord, God and Savior , the creator, sustainer, redeemer and transformer of Life.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Mt. 11:29