Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

The news is constant. The news reports on all that is bad, out-of-control, gruesome, and disheartening. The world is in turmoil and perplexity. They seek answers to vexing problems of our times. Although issues arise in every culture throughout history, somehow ours is always worse. Even Christians get concerned. We join with the world to solve some of these problems, or we speak out, wring our hands, point fingers, and even hate each other because of them.

Jesus said that these times will be like this. But he gives us our marching orders—which we often ignore. He said in Luke 21:25-26 that:
There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

He told them this parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.
"I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

"Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."
Yet we fret about global warming. Christians. Fretting about the weather. This is no different than the early apostles when they were tossed around in the boat, while Jesus slept. Their response to Jesus was that maybe he didn't care.
A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
With a word, he controlled the weather. But we seek to control the weather with our technology and know-how. We join with the world to battle an enemy that neither speaks nor knows anything. And we do so with weapons of the world (controlling the lives of people). We neither trust God nor ask God for wisdom. (James 4:1-12) We assume both the problem and the solution, and we fret, fuss, and fight over what? Weather.

But we also worry about wars and rumors of war. We ignore what Jesus said about these things. (Matthew 24:6)
"You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
And also, what about poverty, starvation, and death? He continues (Matthew 24:7-8):
Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
No doubt, someone will make the complaint that we should be concerned about such things, and not being so would be callous and un-Christian. In fact, this is often quoted, "We shouldn't be so heavenly-minded that we are no longer any earthly good." This is a false saying, because to be earthly-minded is no good to God. (Colossians 3:1-4; Philippians 3:18-21)

But what about loving people? Now that is a command of God. But not the love of the world. It is rather the love of God that we are to demonstrate. It is a love that seeks the good, as God sees it, of another person. And working towards that end, even if it means that the world hates us for it. We may get praise for being kind and compassionate to people. But we may not get praise for doing so with the goal of bringing all people under Christ for life, and being a witness to this world of its evil and need for a Savior—rather than self-improvement or making the world a better place while we continue to sin.

This is a hard message for me to write. But I am concerned about my brothers and sisters in Christ, who are looking at the wind and the waves instead of Christ.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Silicone World

We exist in a world that is getting more and more dependent on the computer chip. Almost every part of the globe is wired for the Internet. We work with computers for everything from work to play. We depend on them for communication, travel, and information retrieval.

It is so ubiquitous in our world that we don't think in terms of chips, because they are a given. Believe it or not, it wasn't that long ago when a computer chip in a car was an anomaly. Now it is standard issue. No more shade-tree mechanics now.

We have them in everyday things such as clocks, DVD players, televisions, and so on. We depend on them (and love them), whether we know it or not. And they depend on power. We can not even get our work done without computers, telephones, cell phones, or power. I dare say, even our stock market is dependent on their use (as well as people's feelings).

It seems like such flimsy things to depend our lives upon. Yet we do it, without understanding the risks. I don't think we even want to, because the risks are so scary. Think about it. The whole world is not only becoming dependent, but desires the dependency, believing that it brings salvation. "Mankind can solve the world's problems with technology, if only…"

Jesus said we should build our lives on his words. In fact, the one who does so is like a man who builds his house on rock. But the one who doesn't do so is like the man who builds his house on sand—or rather, silicone.

Around the world, as well as in our nation, the words of Jesus are ignored or shunned for various reasons. Yet, this faith in technology persists, even when it proves hollow. For instance, with all the technology we have now, are we really any better? Has war, hunger, disease, murder, and death ceased or increased? The answers are obvious, but we still build our hope on silicone.

We pour our money and human resources into silicone. We build
silicone into everything. We are betting our futures and careers on silicone. We are selling ourselves out for silicone. Yet, sand doesn't last during a storm when real life hits. Only the word of Jesus' has proven it can stand the test of time, the scrutiny of skeptics, and the ignorance of the worldly wise.

Isn't that enough to consider? Isn't it obvious which holds the weightier case? But if it still doesn't appeal to you, it's your choice. Just keep building your hopes, your dreams, your relationships, your future, your lives on the foundation of your choosing. Continue going to church and doing good things, hoping that it will cover up your real love. Yell and cry out in the marketplace for justice in the world to free yourself from guilt. Live life like a party, and drown your shame in iniquity. Please everyone around you, so you won't have to feel insignificant. Be somebody, and win the whole world, because you don't have much of a soul left to save. "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die."

But if you dare build your whole life on the words of Jesus be prepared to see everything differently. You will begin to go to church because that is where you will find your real family, and share a real hope. You will desire righteousness from God, not your own righteousness, because you will see yourself as you truly are. You will visit the house of mourning to be reminded where your true joy lies. You can no longer spend your time pleasing people and wearing a mask because you have a Master in heaven to please. You have no need for celebrity because you are significant enough for the God of the universe to die. And your life is spent from now on for the salvation of others.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

My Faith Today

Yes, I know. It has been a month since I last updated my blog. I have been insanely busy. I hope to keep providing content more frequently. (Said that before.)

Anyway, I've been thinking about my faith recently. Having experienced a succession of life-changing experiences in a short amount of time, dealing with turmoil in my work life, and working on a series of lessons for the adult Sunday school class in my church has led me to examine what I believe about my role in this life concerning my faith.

I can see areas where I hold to the things of this life as if my life depended on it. I see areas where I don't appreciate what I do have. I see areas where I can easily sin in my heart, and really care—until I think about it.

But I also see areas where I've grown. I see my sin more clearly and I care more deeply about how that affects my relationship with Jesus, my God and Savior. I realize I stand by the grace of God—whether I am weak or strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-9; Psalm 147:10-11) I am more fearless in expressing my faith and convictions to others. And, I care about other people perhaps even more sincerely than ever before.

So what can I say about my faith today? It is deeper and stronger, yet I walk with a limp.