Friday, August 29, 2008

It's all about you

Did you watch Obama's speech last night? I did. Overall, I was unimpressed. Though he's a very charismatic leader and tells people what they want to hear, I think it stops there. But, I didn't bring up the speech to discuss all of that. One line stood out to me during his speech. It was toward the end. He made the comment the this election has never really been about him, but ultimately all about you. And of course everyone went nuts.

It reminded of something that profoundly changed my thinking about God several years back. It's the idea that He is all about Himself. Here's the way John Piper puts it:
"God’s own glory is uppermost in His own affections. In everything He does, His purpose is to preserve and display that glory. To say that His own glory is uppermost in His own affections means that He puts a greater value on it than on anything else. He delights in His glory above all things."
This means He could never have said what Obama said last night. If we make much of God only to the degree that we think he will make much of us, we've got it totally wrong. And the Bible is full of statements like in Isaiah 48:9, "For my own name's sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to cut you off." Also, later in Ephesians 1, Paul says things like this: "he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will to the praise of his glorious grace"

But you might ask, isn't that pretty self-centered and egotistical of God to be all about Himself? Here's Piper's thoughts on that:
"God is unique as the most glorious of all beings and totally self-sufficient, he must be for himself in order to be for us. If he were to abandon the goal of his own self-exaltation, we would be the losers. His aim to bring praise to himself and his aim to bring pleasure to his people are one aim and stand or fall together."
Well, you could also ask why should I praise Him? C.S. Lewis answers that:
"But the most obvious fact about praise—whether of God or anything—strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless (sometimes even if) shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it. The world rings with praise—lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game—praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians and scholars...My whole, more general difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything else we value.

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses, but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are, the delight is incomplete till it is expressed."
Basically, I'm thankful that this life is not all about me. This is a richer, deeper, more satisfying joy to be had in God if I would just stop being so dang self-absorbed and learn to sit in His presence where there is fullness of joy.

If you want to read more on this subject (also where these quotes came from), check out this sermon and this sermon. They're both incredible.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

City and Colour

CIty and Colour is a band that Roy turned me on to a couple of weeks ago. It's got a sad vibe to it, but not Elliot Smith sad. It's good stuff. This is a video for "Sleeping Sickness":

Also, check out Comin' Home and Save Your Scissors

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Our Bodies are Confused

If you have never read Dave Barry's columns before, you should. They're pretty funny. After my daily stop by Tim's blog, I read a few articles that he had pointed out. I read this one from a couple of years ago and laughed out loud, which I rarely do when reading anything. Here's a section of it:
"The problem with human bodies is that they're based on a design that is eons old. Our bodies believe that any day now, we'll have another Ice Age, and there won't be any more food, so they need to store up lots of fat. So while our brains are in the 21st century, wanting desperately to lose weight, forcing us to eat salads and engage in bizarre cult activities such as ''Pilates,'' our bodies are back in 12,000 B.C., thinking: ``I made 6 more ounces of fat today! Bring on the glaciers!''

It would be great if we could explain to our bodies that times have changed, and they no longer need to make so much fat. Recently, medical researchers tried to accomplish this by having a group of overweight people eat calendars clearly indicating that the current year is 2003. Their bodies turned these into fat."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Death of Mainline Churches in the US

I read a very interesting article last week over at First Things. It was entitled "The Death of Protestant America: A Political Theory of the Protestant Mainline". It basically discusses the way the mainline church over the last 40 years has steadily declined in many ways as it has become increasingly liberal. Then, I read Al Mohler's blog this morning and saw he had a summary of the article and pointed out some important things for the evangelical church. He closes his summary with these words:
"The primary injury caused by mainline Protestant decline is not social but spiritual. These denominations once fueled the great missionary movement that carried the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Now, liberal Protestantism sees conversionist missions as an embarrassment. Committed to a radical doctrinal relativism, these denominations have served as poster children for virtually every theological fad and liberal proposal imaginable. Now, many of these denominations are involved in court fights to keep churches from leaving. The stream has indeed run dry.

The "Death of Protestant America" Joseph Bottum describes must serve as a warning to Evangelicals. There can be no doubt where theological revisionism and accommodationism will lead. Why, then, would some argue that Evangelicalism should follow essentially the same path? Can they not see that the liberal Protestant river has run dry?"

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bailey's thoughts

Stephen Bailey made a comment on the post I did earlier today. I really liked it, and since not many people read the comment section, I thought I would post it. Also, go to his blog and tell him he needs to write more posts.
It is interesting how much praise Obama has received. The unfortunate aspect, and i am not speaking about his politics, is that the “praise” seems to be based on an individualistic form of idealism about what Barack can do for "me."

If he does become President, it will be interesting to see how people respond when their idealism isn’t fed or met. Let’s be honest, most “savior” figures eventually get nailed…pun intended, and I apologize if anyone is offended, but it is the truth. Look at Christ (not that I am comparing Obama to Christ, well, yes I am); Christ didn’t become/meet the expectations of the Jews' ideal savior, and I assume that most who are reading this know how that situation played out.

I guess what I am trying to say is that if Obama is a “savior,” it is a postmodern one—and one that he isn’t defining.

In a final attempt to stay politically neutral, I will say that, so far, the only person that has shown any real promise as an effective President for this country is Paris Hilton. Think about it?

Obama Praise

Here are a few quotes from this site called "Is Barack Obama the Messiah?" that compiles quotes that adorn Obama with praise. Also, there are apparantly songs written about him and sung to him. It's kinda scary.

Spike Lee, predicting Obama becomes president
"When that happens, it will change everything. ... You'll have to measure time by `Before Obama' and `After Obama,'"

"Everything's going to be affected by this seismic change in the universe,"
Jesse Jackson, after Obama won the Democratic presidential nomination
“I cried all night. I’m going to be crying for the next four years,” he said. “What Barack Obama has accomplished is the single most extraordinary event that has occurred in the 232 years of the nation’s political history. ... The event itself is so extraordinary that another chapter could be added to the Bible to chronicle its significance.”
Oprah Winfrey
"...When you listen to Barack Obama, when you really hear him, you witness a very rare thing. You witness a politician who has an ear for eloquence and a tongue dipped in the unvarnished truth..."
Some of Obama's own words
"I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth." - after winning Democratic nomination

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

We need the Sabbath

Ray Ortlund has some convicting thoughts on the Sabbath:
"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. This is ancient wisdom. I know that some of us consider the Sabbath no longer valid in any sense, and I can see why. It is legislated old covenant culture (Exodus 20:8). But more deeply, it is embedded in the very creation (Genesis 2:2-3). And in the creation account the seventh day is the only one that doesn’t close out with “And there was evening and there was morning, the nth day.” The Sabbath remains open. It’s not written on our calendars as much as we are built into its calendar. It’s part of the God-created rhythm for weekly human life.

If we did set apart as holy one day each week, we would add to every year, for the rest of our lives, over seven weeks of vacation. And not for goofing off, but for worship, for fellowship, for mercy, for an afternoon nap, for reading a theological book, for thinking about God and taking stock of our lives, for lingering around the dinner table and sharing good jokes and tender words and personal prayers.

I know the objections to the Sabbath. But I am answering this question: How can I live with quietness of heart in the madness of this world? If anyone has a more biblical (and more immediately usable and beneficial) place to begin answering that question, I’m open. But raising hermeneutical objections to the Sabbath principle doesn’t give me quietness of heart.

I’ll push it further. The very concept of “the weekend” is unbiblical. It turns Sunday into a second Saturday. Home Depot may gain, but we lose. It turns Sunday into the day we catch up on the stuff we were too lazy or disorganized to do on Saturday. It also turns Sunday into a day to ramp up for work or school on Monday. It hollows out not only Sunday but our whole week, because it marginalizes God and church and sermons and all the other vital things that happen in our lives only when we make the vital things also the central things. If we accept the world’s concept of “the weekend,” we inevitably end up “fitting God in” rather than centering the practical reality of our every week around him. We trivialize him, even as we allow secondary things to hijack the sacred place of centrality, we live soul-exhausted lives, and then we wonder why God isn’t more real to us, why church isn’t “working” for us, why we're grumpy, and so forth.

If we want to find our way back into quietness of heart, the first step might be simple. Bold, but simple. "

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hope in Chaos

I read something cool yesterday morning in Isaiah. To set it up, God had told Isaiah to walk around naked for three years a few chapters earlier to serve as a warning sign to a few countries because of the judgement that God was about to unleash on them. Then we get to chapter 24, where we get a picture of chaotic cities where anarchy reigns and where "the good times are gone forever." Pretty bleak stuff. But in verse 14, we get a glimpse of hope:
"But there are some who will break into glad song. Out of the west they'll shout of God's majesty. Yes, from the east God's glory will ascend. Every island of the sea will broadcast God's fame, the fame of the God of Israel. From the four winds and the seven seas we hear the singing: 'All praise to the Righteous One!'"
Among the chaos of this life, God's people will be able to see God for who He is and be able to rejoice in Him. That gives me encouragement. That means ultimately I won't be sucked in and overcome by the lies of this world, but will be able to rise above them and see God. And I can do all this because of Christ who came down in this chaotic world and overcame it.

Finally, a word from Mute Math
It’s hard to trust anyone again
After all the let downs I’ve been through
Haunted by what I’ve been through
Air still trapped while I still can't breathe
And I’m screaming out, give me hope somehow

I know you stay true when my world is false
Everything around's breaking down my chaos
I always see you when my sight is lost
Everything around's breaking down my chaos

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Void

Ben Gibbard, the lead singer of Death Cab for Cutie, recently said the following in Paste Magazine.
“I find it very hard to accept the wonderful things in my life. My life really is great: I do exactly what I want to do for a living, I have a wonderful person to share my life with, I have a great family, I have great friends. But somehow there’s a void.”
Thankfully, there is an answer to this. Jesus said in John 10, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


With a couple of different issues going on recently, I have been forced to deal with some hurt. And because of the way I am wired, I guess, I often turn inward to deal with these things. I might even be able to preach truth to myself and ask God to help me deal with it, but it usually stops there, without really involving anyone else, at least for a little while. The interesting thing is, I want and almost expect guys in my discipleship group as well as my other friends to invite me in immediately so they won't be alone. Well, last night, as a friend and I were discussing some things, I became very convicted of my own inability to invite others in to share in my struggles.

I share these thoughts after being stirred by this blog entry written by my roommate and good friend Roy. I wholeheartedly agree with him as he talks about our generation and the lack of wisdom and counsel that we are receiving from others. I am so often that "dumb ass, fighting the flight to self absorption and personal study." And I pray with God's help and my friends' help that I can move on and truly be doing life together in community.

A couple of weeks ago I did a study on how the book of Proverbs deals with this issue (I think perhaps God was trying to get my attention with all these things). And there are at least 25 verses that deal with this issue directly. A verse that really stuck out to me, Proverbs 18:1, has this to say:
"Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgement."

And finally I can't resist a final quote from an amazing book on this subject, Life Together:
“The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure.”

The ESV Study Bible

A few people have asked, and this video helps explain a little about why I've pre-ordered mine and look forward to October 15th.


Rick Warren and his mission

I thought this was a pretty good article, as its the latest cover story in Time magazine.