Tag Archive for honesty

Woefully Inadequate

empty glassNo Matter How Much I Would Like To Be I’m Just Not Up To The Task

Most of the time when I log on to this blog I feel as if I have nothing to give. I feel like an empty glass. I want to offer you something clever or witty that will transform you into a community creating machine. I dream of the day I get an email from someone telling me that they read one of my blog posts and has joined in community with other believers and is now turning their city upside down with the gospel. I’m still waiting for that email.

The reality is that very few people may ever read this blog and that’s okay. I just want to be faithful to give the few of you all something that will encourage you to be the body, the family of God. I know that I am woefully inadequate but so was Paul when he wrote:

For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
– 2 Corinthians 4:5-7

The power to transform, to bring people together into a community or family comes from the gospel. I can’t bring it about. As much as I would like to be able to wave a wand and church members would begin to treat each other as the family that they are, I can’t. Only the Holy Spirit working the gospel in and through us can do that. So, I pray and I attempt to be family to those He places in my path, and I wait.

Do you ever feel unequal to the task? How do you deal with your inadequacy?

Just Say No Applies To Girls Clothing Too

Modest Is Hottest I got the shock of my life when my article on modesty was published on a nationally recognized secular website with thousands of readers.

I am often appalled at the lack of judgement exhibited by some parents in regards to what their daughters wear. I know many may find this whole discussion trite and anachronistic but bear with me. What a young lady wears communicates volumes and affects attitude. If you don’t believe me then maybe you will believe the experts.

Consider a study conducted by the school district of Long Beach, California that was published in the September edition of Psychology Today in 1999. Five years of mandated uniforms reaped the district the following rewards:

Rate of crime – dropped 91%
School suspensions – dropped 90%
Vandalism – dropped 69%
Sex offenses – dropped 96%

Think about that last one for a minute. Just by adjusting the wardrobe of their students the Long Beach, California school district almost made sexual offenses non-existent.

So if clothing does matter, then why do we allow our young ladies in particular to wear so little? Are we so slow as to not make the connection that by letting our girls dress slutty that they will be treated slutty? I know we adults can be thick at times but this is not rocket science. The guys are not blameless by any stretch but do we want our girls clothing to play on their base instincts? I’m not asking, I’m just asking.

Some of you parents are probably reading this and thinking, “You have no idea the war I would have on my hands if I really cracked down on my daughter’s dress habits.” It’s true I don’t know what you have to go through every morning before school. I do know, however, what goes on every day after school and that alone should scare you and I both into having the courage to say no.

If you found this article helpful, please visit the technorati page where it was published earlier this week, and either leave a comment, post it to your facebook account, or tweet it. This will help me get more articles like this published on this widely read secular website.

Wanted: Christian Community, Idealists Need Not Apply

Idealism Kills Christian Community

I have a confession to make. I am a closet idealist. I like to day dream about how I think things could be or should be. Here lately I have been thinking about what the ideal christian community should be like. It warms my heart to think about brothers and sisters in Christ acting and relating just how I think they should. There is only one problem, genuine christian community and idealism are mutually exclusive.

This fact dawned on me as I was preparing to teach this past Sunday morning on the purpose and mission of the church. I began reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together. I was hoping to find fuel for my fantasy but what I found there was not at all what I was expecting. Imagine my surprise when I read the following statement:

God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others , and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God Himself accordingly. He stands adamant, a living reproach to all others in the circle of brethren. He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together. When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself.

I hate to admit it but I was that guy. I had begun to develop standards of what I thought was the ideal and I had begun to measure both God and man by them. It dawned on me how much in danger I was of becoming an accuser of the brethren and an obstacle to genuine community.

My first reaction was disappointment. Idealism is hard to surrender. I like my idealism. Its a great companion and justifier of my impatience, and irritation with the “weaknesses” of others. As I continued to read, however, I came across another of Bonhoffer’s statements that put everything in perspective:

Thus the very hour of disillusionment with my brother becomes incomparably salutary, because it so thoroughly teaches me that neither of us can ever live by our own words and deeds, but only by that one Word and Deed which really binds us together- the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ.

After I read this, it occurred to me that Bonhoeffer is not eschewing all vision but only that which emanates out of a sinful heart. If my vision is for the gospel, if my desire is for what God’s word teaches, if I am humbly living according to it then I have every right to expect it of myself and my brother in Christ. To do any less would be to dishonor Christ and what He has called us to do. Thus Bonhoeffer goes on to summarize his point and give me punctuation for this post when he states:

Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we must participate.

Participation, and all the excitement, frustration, heartache, and inexhaustible grace that goes along with it is the key to Christian community. How is your level of participation?

Death By Distraction

When was the last time you sat in a quiet room alone? Most people cant handle the silence. We have to have on a TV, computer, or Ipod to keep us entertained 24/7. What is it about sitting quietly and meditating that is so difficult for us?

The french mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal dealt with this issue even as far back as the 17th century. In his book entitled Pensees pascal writes:

I have often said that the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.

To flesh that out a bit further, apologist and author Peter Kreeft ads his reflections in his edition of Pascal’s Pensees:

We ought to have much more time, more leisure, than our ancestors did, because technology, which is the most obvious and radical difference between their lives and ours, is essentially a series of time-saving devices.

In ancient societies, if you were rich you had slaves to do the menial work so that you could be freed to enjoy your leisure time. Life was like a vacation for the rich because the poor slaves were their machines. . . .

[But] now that everyone has slave-substitutes (machines), why doesn’t everyone enjoy the leisurely, vacationy lifestyle of the ancient rich? Why have we killed time instead of saving it? . . .

We want to complexify our lives. We don’t have to, we want to. We wanted to be harried and hassled and busy. Unconsciously, we want the very things we complain about. For if we had leisure, we would look at ourselves and listen to our hearts and see the great gaping hold in our hearts and be terrified, because that hole is so big that nothing but God can fill it.

So we run around like conscientious little bugs, scared rabbits, dancing attendance on our machines, our slaves, and making them our masters. We think we want peace and silence and freedom and leisure, but deep down we know that this would be unendurable to us, like a dark and empty room without distractions where we would be forced to confront ourselves. . .

If you are typically modern, your life is like a mansion with a terrifying hole right in the middle of the living-room floor. So you paper over the hole with a very busy wallpaper pattern to distract yourself. You find a rhinoceros in the middle of your house. The rhinoceros is wretchedness and death. How in the world can you hide a rhinoceros? Easy: cover it with a million mice. Multiple diversions.

While agree totally with Pascal’s sentiment, I would add a further caution. As believers it is incumbent upon us to spend time in quiet meditation and prayer. This is essential to spiritual growth. When we have done that, however, I think that we should spend less time being distracted by electronic devices and more time practicing community with other believers. Imagine how much time is wasted in front of a TV that could be spent enjoying your brothers and sisters in Christ and reaching out to lost people and bringing them into gospel centered community. That is tragedy indeed.

HT: Justin Taylor