Friday, August 22, 2008

Morality According to Hallmark

Al Mohler recently posted a blog on something that I find quite disturbing. Hallmark has decided to launch a new type of greeting card to cater to all those homosexuals who apparently are feeling a little left out. Last year Hallmark released a wave of "coming out" cards. They have now expanded their gay horizons into the land of wedding and anniversary cards. You can read Mohler's take on all of this here. Peace.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Heart of a Father

Here recently I've decided to read through the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew over and over again. I'm not really sure when I will move on to something else, but for now I like it. Last night when I was reading I was affected by Matthew 6:1-4 which reads, "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. (2) Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. (3) But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, (4) so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

Besides the obvious call to "silent generosity", I noticed in this passage the gracious heart of God. God has promised that obedience brings reward, but what stuck out to me was the fact that God not only wants our obedience, but He desires to reward us. In this passage I see the heart of a Father. He is not just shelling out a list of commands, but He is telling the crowds how to receive their heavenly reward. The Sermon on the Mount is a radical call from God Himself for His people to live in a peculiar, distinct way, which calls for a painful death to self. But what is so amazing is that this hard path of obedience is the path to joy, and our heavenly reward. We serve such a great God! There is grace behind every command and there is a great reward at the end of all obedience; and that reward is God Himself. Peace.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave

I am currently reading a book by Edward T. Welch called Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave and I highly recommend it for everyone. The last chapter I read is called Staying Violent. The two verses at the beginning of the chapter are Matthew 11:12 ("From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.") and Matthew 18:18 ("If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away."). Pretty intense from the get-go. After reading this chapter I come away really wanting to deal with my own sin and addictions. Why? Because it's flat out war-time manliness to do so! And it honors God. Battling sin is like a Biblical UFC (not the sissy new UFC, but the old-school "go until someone's unconscious" UFC). Here are some of my favorite quotes from the chapter...

"There is a mean streak to authentic self-control. Underneath what seems to be the placid demeanor of those who are not ruled by their desires is the heart of a warrior. Self control is not for the timid. When we want to grow in it, not only do we nurture an exuberance for Jesus Christ, we also demand of ourselves a hatred for sin." (pg. 225)

"But unlike our old conception of warfare, where battle lines are clear and the times of battle can almost be predicted, this is modern warfare in which you are not always sure where the enemy lurks. It is guerilla warfare. There are strategically placed snipers. You let down you guard for a moment and the village you thought was safe suddenly opens fire on you." (pg. 226)

"The problem is that as Christians, we often forget we are in a war. Or worse, we don't even know that there is a war. Unlike most warfare, where at least we know that there is an enemy somewhere, spiritual warfare tends to be especially covert. No one is getting shot and many people--even addicts themselves-- seem to be managing their lives fairly well. It all looks like business as usual. Add to this the fact that we actually like the enemy, and it is easy to understand why many of us act as though we were on vacation." (pp. 226-227)

"If someone can actually flee something that he deeply desires, then, once removed from the external temptation, he must follow through by taking his soul to task. We are attracted by the temptations outside us because of the sinful desires we harbor within." (pg. 230)

"Maybe we haven't given into the temptation, but we are dialoging with it rather than rebuking it. When a serpent comes across your path speaking lies, you should run from it or kill it. You shouldn't sit around for a friendly chat." (pg. 239)

"When temptations come, we live mindfully. We look past the facade of temporary pleasure and notice the smell of death that goes with it. If the temptation hooks our desires, we go public. We confess it to a friend, we confess it to the Lord, we get other people praying of us, we ask for counsel that helps us to see that the Serpent is dangerous. Above all, we remember that God's commands are good. They are inteded to bless us." (pg. 240)

"Why would God allow temptations? They are divine testings that reveal our hearts." (pg. 240)

In summary, 1) Buy the book, 2) Read the book, 3) Buy another copy and give it to someone, 4) Read the book again, 5) see #3. Peace.