So Nimm Denn Meine Hande...

Sunday, January 30, 2005

For those about to whine, we salute you...

"...It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." - Ephesians 4:11-16

Now yesterday I helped lead a service project with a College and Career group in my city. Before the event started, there was a Saturday evening service at their church and I ran into several C&C people who asked 'what are we doing tonight'? Once many of them (around half) learned that we were doing a service project, I got various negative responses. Some people had 'things to do'. Some simply didn't like service projects (and admitted it openly...?). Some made excuses about ambiguous 'prior committments'. Now who's kidding who?

I have been involved in churches and church groups for 27+ years so far. I have often shrugged out of service projects because they don't seem entertaining or 'fun' enough. I have often made excuses for myself and wanted to 'be fed' and 'get something out of it' when it came to church programs, activities, worship and the like. Thanks be to God that I once read Ephesians 4 and did some exegetical study in it. Ephesians says several interesting things...

1. All church offices and leaders exist for a purpose. That purpose is "to prepare God's people for works of service". For what purpose? "So that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." Service builds up the body in unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Song of God. Service also is a component in the attaining of maturity.

2. With service, and the corresponding fruits that it bears (unity, knowledge of Christ and maturity), Christians are non longer "tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming". Consequently, those who do not serve may expect to have the opposite ring true in their lives. Those who are not mature, and who do not know service, may be blown around by heresy and every crafty teaching.

3. The body is "joined and held together by every supporting each part does its work". Being in the body of Christ require some work. Relationships take work and mature relationships are built upon the foundation of service.

I'm not going to go into a whole "biblical view of work" or a whole "biblical understanding of relationships", but it struck me last night that the people who are consistently excited about the Bible, enthusiastic about purity and righteousness, growing in love for the Lord (and the consequent obedience) and are generally respected as men/women of God, were all there and willing to serve.

On the contrary, those who are not seriously concerned about the word (as evidenced by behaviour and desires), those who are currently doing foolish things like 'missionary dating' (and violating clear teachings of scripture), those who constantly complain about church 'not meeting my needs', those who consistently complain about life and those who hold to some heretical ideas all, consistently, wanted no part of service.

What's going on? Why are we, as Christians, so freaking stupid? Well, I think I know why...but that's for another rant post. I've probably offended more people than it's worth...Until next time,

The Armchair Theologian

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The astounding conflagration effecuated by reality and pride...

Well, it's been a while since I last posted something on here. Life has been busy and I've been working like a madman...that, and getting back into some semblance of discipline with my life. I'm starting to really understand the relationships between faith and stress though, and I'm seriously wondering how any non-Christian survives a single day living on this earth without the Lord. I realize that all pagan lives are overrun with vices that, in all reality, are feeble efforts to replace the Lord. I'm just amazed how so many people keep on persevering in living such aweful lives (Hmm...I sense some minor key reflections incoming).

Not to sound too negative, but maybe I'm starting to rekindle my evangelistic passion. In reflecting, I've started to remember how completely lost non-Christians are. How does anyone deal with a real stressful situation/trial/'struggle of life' without relying on God? If one doesn't have an infinite strength to rely on, what does one do?

I'm guessing that one basically either does one of two things. First, one distracts oneself from one's weakness. Some people use alcohol. Some people use entertainment (tv, sports, magazines, porn, etc.). Some people use work and 'busy-ness' (or is that business?). Some people use church and religion (committment to a 'higher purpose'). Some people use 'good deeds' to distract themselves from their predicament (compensate for the negative in life by contributing some positive...). Some people use sports, fitness, or some physical form of 'release'. Some people use pleasure (sex, money, etc). Some people get counselling and go to 'stress management', except their counsellors are in the same aweful predicament that they are in...that's like one puddle talking to another puddle and asking for advice on how to stop being wet... Uh, yeah. Not happening.

Obviously none of these ultimatley work. Distractions won't fix the real problem.

So, the other option is to face the reality of one's weakness. Others do this and become depressed, despairing, nihlistic and suicidal. Much of the 'underground' side of pop culture (you know, like, emo-bands, Eminem and most of Christina Ricci's movies) rides on this realization and profits from 'identifying' with people's pain. I remember reading an interview with Evanescence and explained the purpose of their band being something along the lines of 'our band exists to let people know that they're not alone in facing pain'. Holy Crap!? What kinda comfort is that? "Hey, don't worry! Your life is a steaming pile, but don't worry...mine is too!" No wonder adolescents are shooting up the school and mom and dad can't stay married. Why bother living if half the culture is distracted from the reality that mankind (and consequently life) is horrid and the other half of the culture is unified in their dissatisfaction with creation? Unity in distraction or unity in despair? Talk about a crappy selection.

After a little pondering, I'm growing increasingly convinced that, outside the Lord, men are lost. Not kinda lost, but uber lost. Like, lost to the point of being absolutley hopeless. Hopeless like falling out of the space shuttle, buck naked, while in re-entry. In the movies, a person could survive that. In reality you'd freeze solid in around 5 seconds (it is like -150 or so in space), you'd suffocate immediately and then, if you some how hung on for a minute or two, you'd burn to carbon upon re-entry.

Reflecting on the utter lostness of man, I'm all the more thankful that "he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy." (Titus 3:5) God is good and it's not up to me. Also, I'm SO thankful that "...we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. (Heb 4:15)" Jesus is the perfect man for the job. God's grace has saved me and he really takes care of me where all other things fail. Until next time,

The Armchair Theologian

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Cinderella and the Amazing Pumpernickle Dragster...

Well, I finally moved into my place. I'm living in a basement suite with one of my best friends and I'm unpacking right now...well, I'm procrastinating on unpacking right now. None the less, I'm pretty pleased with how things are going right now. I got all my stuff outa my previous residence and I survived moving on the coldest day of the year; the thermometer registered -35 yesterday night when we were unloading the u-haul. Among all the packing and unpacking though, I found myself pondering the grace of God as manifest in my miniscule spiritual discipline. As I packed my boxes and unpacked my boxes, I was thinking of how many times Israel did the same. Over the Old Testament, they were constantly packing and unpacking; they set up altars to the Lord, then tore them down and replaced them with Asherah poles and Baal's stones, then eventually repented and tore those down only to replace them with altars for the Lord again. We see that pattern happen a few times over the reigns of the kings of Israel, during the captivity and finally again after the second exodus. Even so, I'm a worse offender in that respect, with my attention and devotion often waivering and being offered to other, lesser idols, and that sometimes on a daily basis. In the cold, I was reminded at how God's grace is so stalwart and efficacious because of it's immutable root. God saves us not because it makes us look good, but because it makes him look good; it only shows forth his saving grace, mercy, and magnifies his sovereign electing choice:

"For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own. " (1 Samuel 12:22)

"...he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." (Ps. 23:3)

"Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name's sake." (Psalm 79:9)

"For your name's sake, O LORD , preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble. " (Psalm 143:11)

"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. See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another. " (Isaiah 48:9-11)

"You will know that I am the LORD , when I deal with you for my name's sake and not according to your evil ways and your corrupt practices, O house of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD." (Ezekiel 20:44)

"Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. " (Romans 1:5)

"In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory." (Ephesians 1:11)

" Not only that, but Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad–in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls–she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. " (Romans 9:10-18)

Only in this context can Paul write:

" What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died - more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

I am such a foolish donkey, but good thing God's salvation plan in untouchable. I'm so thankful that God doesn't give me room to screw things up. Until the next time,

The Armchair Theologian

Monday, January 03, 2005

A General Observation upon the Nature of Technological Advice...

After working the holiday rush at the computer shop where I work, I've talked to numerous people who constantly think I'm lying to them when I give them advice that contradicts the advice of their "friend who is a computer expert". I'm going to get a shirt made. It's going to say:

"The Friend that gave you computer advice is an idiot."

I'm not kidding. If you have a friend who tells you that Athlons 64's are half as fast as Pentium IV's or who thinks that AGP is faster than PCI/E, and you get advice from him on what kind of computer to buy, you are in for a world of frustration because sadly enough, he's most certainly an imbecile.

I cannot believe how many people have friends who are idiots and take advice from them. If you have a friend who's rebuilt his computer 5 times, that doesn't mean that he's a computer expert; in fact that usually means the opposite. He's probably such a dinglenuts that he wrecked his system 5 times and had to wipe and re-install everything 5 times.

That's like saying "My friend Jim knows everything about cars; he's had to change his transmission like 5 times in the last three years." I don't know about you, but I'd have some serious questions about Jim. If his transmission is crapping out on him every 7 months or so, I'd guess he's either really hard on it (aka. doesn't know how to drive stick and grinds the living cajones outa it) or he does a really crappy job changing his transmission (does something bass ackwards when he installs it). I don't know anyone else who needs to do that, so I'd guess that Jim is a jello-head.

Yet, when people have a parallel situation with a friend and computers, they suspect he's a genius. Does that make any sense? No? Of course not.

Here's the bottom line. If your friend really was a computer expert and knew that you were an ubernewb, he'd tell you to buy a Mac. Then, you'd show that you were a total idiot by not buying one because they're more money.

Well, that's todays' little 'venting session'. Until next time,

The Armchair Theologian