Tuesday, November 16, 2010
But I do have a purpose. I ran across the word on an "untranslatable words" website (you know you're a nerd when these tidbits of information give you unparalleled delight). Dépaysement is a feeling that comes from not being in one's home country. At first, this word seems to imply location. That is, dépaysement occurs when one is not in the literal country in which one was born. But the more I have mulled this idea over in my head (yes, this is what English majors do), the more it seems to mean much more than location. And much more than earth.
After all, although we can feel "at home" in certain earthly locations, isn't there always some sort of homesickness for something else? It's something that we find difficult to name or pin point, because we don't know what exactly it is that we miss. In that regard, I think all humanity experiences some form of dépaysement.
Why is it, then, that even in our moments of greatest joy (perhaps, even more in these moments), we find ourselves longing for something greater? It's because we were created for something better. In short, we are homesick for our home country. I think C.S. Lewis is right when he says, "If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world." The idea of dépaysement, then, becomes something that, far from inspiring feelings of misery, provides us with glimpses of our future hope.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
P.S. Yes, I do know that it has been two months. I think I've overused the "college excuse" these past several weeks, but here it is again. In the meantime, I have lots of thoughts, but not the time to articulate them unless they relate to world civilization or sociology so it looks like you'll be stuck with some quotes for a while. The benefit is that they probably express the essence of what I would like to say better than I could anyway.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Instead, just a quote that I love:
"Would I gather arguments for hoping that I shall never be cast away? Where shall I go to find them? Shall I look at my own graces and gifts? Shall I take comfort in my own faith and love, and penitence and zeal and prayer? Shall I turn to my own heart and say, 'This same heart will never be false and cold'?
"Oh no! God forbid! I will look at Calvary and the crucifixion. This is my grand argument: this is my mainstay. I cannot think that He who went through such suffering to redeem my soul, will let that soul perish after all, when it has once cast itself on Him. Oh no! What Jesus paid for me will surely keep. He paid dearly for it: He will not let it easily be lost. He died for me when I was yet a dark sinner: He will not forsake me after I have believed.
"Ah, reader, when Satan tempts you to doubt whether Christ’s people will be kept from falling, you should tell Satan that you cannot despair when you look at the cross." -J.C. Ryle
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Francis Chan wrote Crazy Love for people like me, people who have lost sight of how very small we are in light of God's great and unapproachable holiness. The only reason we read our Bibles is because we feel like we should, not because we want to. We pray without thinking about the Being that we are praying to. It is all routine. In short, in our "Christian cultures" we take God for granted. As a result, we think that we can go to church, change nothing about our everyday lives, and still get to heaven. Getting to Heaven, after all, is the only reason we go to church. It often has nothing to do with cultivating a relationship with the God of the universe, and more with avoiding punishment. Is this really the way it is supposed to be? This is the question Francis Chan attempts to tackle.
As believers, we should be appalled by how many professing Christians live their lives this way. We avoid suffering at all cost. Chan makes note of how often we pray, "Lord, we pray for safety as we travel. We ask that no one gets hurt on this trip. Please keep everyone safe until we return, and bring us back safely. In Jesus' name we pray, amen." Sound familiar? How often have we heard that one? Chan goes on to say, "We are consumed by safety. Obsessed with it, actually. We've elevated safety to the neglect of whatever God's best is, whatever would bring God the most glory, or whatever would accomplish His purposes in our lives and in the world." As American Christians, especially, we are experts at staying in our comfort zones and assuring ourselves that we are not "called" to do the hard things like mission work, sacrificial giving, or community service.
A changed life should be synonymous with a radical life. If the world understands the way we are living, something is wrong with our lives. The way we live should shock the world. The way we love should call attention not to ourselves, but to the great God whom we serve. As John Piper says, "It is one thing to have an answer ready. It is another to live a lifestyle that causes people to ask you for it." This is the rut we, as the church of America find ourselves in. We have all the answers to all of the questions, but we are so preoccupied with being "relevant" to the culture, that we forget that we, in fact, not called to be relevant, but different. Gandhi said, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." That should sadden and scare us.
We are completely preoccupied with ourselves. Our safety. Our friends. Our habits. Our comfort. Were we there when God created the world? No. Where we there when He sent His son into the world? No. In Heaven, when angels surround the throne saying "Holy, Holy, Holy" will they be bowing down to us? No. Chan says it well: "Frankly, you need to get over yourself." This isn't about us. This is about God. Our lives are not about our needs, our wants, our desires; they are about God. Anything short of a life lived purposefully to glorify God is a wasted life. Chan goes on, "Throughout time, somewhere between forty-five billion and one hundred twenty-five billion people have lived on this earth. That's 125,000,000,000. In about fifty years (give or take a couple of decades), no one will remember you. Everyone you know will be dead. Certainly, no one will care what job you had, what car you drove, what school you attended, or what clothes you wore...The point of your life is to point to Him. Whatever you are doing, God wants to be glorified, because this whole thing is His."
The God who created 350,000,000,000 galaxies and gave the caterpillar 228 different muscles in its head is the same God who loved us, sinful and depraved humans who never did anything except try to steal the glory that is rightfully His own. It is merciful that God would allow us to escape our deserved punishment of hell. It is unbelievable that He would give us a relationship with Himself and see us as blameless because of Christ's sacrifice. This is, indeed, a crazy kind of love.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
"How strange that we cannot love time. It spoils our loveliest moments. Nothing quite comes up to expectations because of it. We alone: animals, so far as we can see, are unaware of time, untroubled. Time is their natural environment. Why do we sense that it is not ours? C. S. Lewis…asked how it was that I, as a product of a materialistic universe, was not at home there. 'Do fish complain of the sea for being wet? Or if they did, would that fact itself not strongly suggest that they had not always been, or would not always be, purely aquatic creatures?' Then, if we complain of time and take such joy in the seemingly timeless moment, what does that suggest? It suggests that we have not always been or will not always be purely temporal creatures. It suggest that we were created for eternity. Not only are we harried by time, we seem unable, despite a thousand generations, even to get used to it. We are always amazed at it – how fast it goes, how slowly it goes, how much of it is gone. Where, we cry, has the time gone? We aren’t adapted to it, not at home in it. If that is so, it may appear as a proof, or at least a powerful suggestion, that eternity exists and is our home. "
from A Severe Mercy
Sunday, March 21, 2010
It reminded me of something. How often do we try to do that with God? He has given us the greatest gift of all, salvation (much more costly than a couple scoops of ice cream with whipped cream and sprinkles). It is nothing we have in any way lended to, and yet how proud we are of that little shiny penny. "Here, look, God, I go to church every week." Or, "See, I'm reading my Bible." We don't like to feel indebted. And we very effectively (in small, subtle ways) convince ourselves that we somehow aided God in our salvation. We responded. We prayed. We read our Bible. We went to church. We forget that we gave nothing. God gave everything.
"For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2: 8-9). It doesn't get any clearer than that.
As silly as it was for Jack to assume that he could pay for a dessert with a penny, it is far more ridiculous for us to assume that we can pay for our salvation with...nothing. At least Jack had something to offer. But we have nothing to offer God. In fact, it is even worse than nothing. The only thing we bring to God is our sin.
Not the labors of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law's commands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
To Thy fountain, Lord, I fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
-Rock of Ages
Words by August M. Toplady
Monday, March 15, 2010
My location will change. My friends will change. My church will change. My daily schedule will change. But there is one thing that will not ever, ever, ever change. There is one person (and only one person) that I can place my complete trust in and know with absolute certainty that He will never disappoint me.
"For I am the Lord; I change not."
Friday, March 12, 2010
Monday, March 1, 2010
No one owes me these things. There is only one thing that I deserve.
I deserve hell.
Anything better than this is grace. I should be overflowing with thanks that God is not heaping his wrath upon me at every moment. That is what I deserve. But He has given so much more than that. He has not just wiped away my sin and made me clean; He sees me as He sees Christ. I am not just in a neutral zone with God. He has blessed me with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). Imagine that. Thank God that we are not given what we really "deserve".
Friday, February 26, 2010
It is so easy to view Christianity as something to be taken on and off like an old sweater. Something that is comfortable, but gets kinda scratchy if we leave it on for too long. Christianity, however, is not something to be compartmentalized. Our relationship with God should be central. It should be our motivation for every action; our reason for every behavioral pattern; and our only lens with which we see the world. We cannot separate God from our relationships. We cannot separate God from our academic endeavors. We cannot separate God from our jobs. We cannot - and really, should not be able to - separate God from any part of our lives. Every aspect of our lives should go back to the question, "How is this promoting the glory of God?".
Instead of viewing our lives as revolving around Christ, we see Christ as some sort of "addition". Something that we have to "work into" our already jam-packed schedules. But Christianity, as C.S. Lewis points out, is not something to only see and admire, it is something to see with: something to affect every part of us.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
"A man with one watch knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never quite sure." [Lee Sagel]
Suppose a man had a job interview scheduled for 2:00 on a Tuesday afternoon. When he arrived at 4:00 on Tuesday afternoon, the interviewer would have a natural cause for the question, "Why are you late?" Suppose the man replied nonchalantly, "Well, I have four different watches that I keep with me, and they all read different times, so I really wasn't sure." In other words, I just guessed. Do you think the man interviewing him would take him seriously? Um. I think not. He would probably look at him like he had gone bonkers. And for good reason. Sounds like a silly illustration, right?
The modern man is exactly like that man with the four watches. He, however, is praised for being "tolerant", for being "open-minded." In our culture, we are all slammed relentlessly with the idea that "there are no facts; only interpretation" (as James Emery White says in his book, Serious Times). It could be 4:52, 11:37, or 8:18...it just depends on how you want to interpret the hands on your watch. We are labeled as "intolerant" for claiming that there is one absolute truth. It doesn't really matter too much to anyone what that absolute truth that we're claiming is; just the fact that we're claiming anything to be absolute truth is a threat to the postmodern way of thinking. The irony of their thinking is that they are claiming that the one absolute truth is that there is no absolute truth. Funny.
This would account for the reason why people these days, in most cases, are fine with discussing religion. They don't mind that we go to church. They don't mind that we believe there is a God. They don't even mind that we believe that Jesus is God's son. But when we tell them that Jesus said (John 14:6), "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me," we will no doubt be quickly shut down by a statement that falls somewhere along the lines of, "Well, that's great that you think that, but I will determine whether or not that is really relevant to my life."
Personally, when I'm met with a response like this, it unnerves me. I don't know exactly what to say to refute such a thought process. The thing to remember is that our belief in God is not merely an opinion. I feel harsh even typing it out, but there it is, and it's the truth. In reality, God is the only one who can, in fact, determine what absolute truth is, because He is completely outside of us. Not only has He determined and defined absolute truth, He has actually revealed it to us. He could have left us here to figure it out for ourselves (which apart from Him, we could not do). We would be fools not to take Him at His word. We do not affirm that Jesus rose from the death because we "think" that's what happened. We believe that Jesus rose because God told us that He did. Our confidence comes not from ourselves, but from Someone a lot bigger than us.
All of the opposing worldviews have something in common: they have set themselves up to be the ultimate authority. The way they "feel" determines right and wrong. The way they "think" determines what reality is and what it is not. Their entire world view is determined by how they view the world. Who are we, as humans, to make a call on what the world is or what it isn't? If a world-renowned scientist were to tell us that a certain animal had become extinct, we would not question his judgment. After all, he is a scientist and would know what he's talking about. Yet, people feel that they can challenge the authority of Almighty God who was and is and will be forever. The idea is unfathomable.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
But then he became completely blind.
His fiance called off the wedding, insisting that she could not live with someone who was blind for the rest of her life. Matheson could have responded in anger - anger towards the lady who had rejected him and anger towards God. After all, God could have prevented his blindness, couldn't He? But instead of wallowing in self pity or bitterness, this trial in his life made him turn to God, not away from Him. It was this period of suffering in his life that inspired the words of the hymn, "O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go." Later, George Matheson said about the writing of this hymn: "Something happened to me, which was known only to myself, and which caused me the most severe mental suffering. The hymn was the fruit of that suffering. It was the quickest bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the impression of having it dictated to me by some inward voice rather than of working it out myself."
About this fruit of suffering Elisabeth Elliot, in her book The Path of Loneliness, says, "The way of the cross for George Matheson was heartbreak. God's power could have spared him that, but God's love chose to give him something far more precious than the happiness he had lost. If he had not entered the lonely wilderness, George Matheson would not have found his sweet treasure. Would you say the price of that was too high? God never denies us our heart's desire except to give us something better."
O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Although this quote doesn't necessarily have spiritual implications, I still find it true in light of Christianity. God does not call us to be passive. He did not place us here, in this specific time, to merely survive. When I first heard this quote, my reaction was to try to label it as a "personality thing". So-and-so is outgoing, and so she is going to be the one that makes things happen; whereas so-and-so just doesn't have the personality and so he's the "type" that is going to sit back and watch. God doesn't label us by personality types. The truth is that he has called us all to the same thing: to live our lives in a way that brings Him maximum glory. Okay, so maybe you're an introvert, but is that really an excuse? I don't think so. As Christians, we should all be the "type" of person that makes things happen. After all, in the end, it's not going to matter what people thought about us. What's going to matter is whether or not we used the things that God gave us to showcase His supremacy. How different the world would be if we would get past our fear of man!
"For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of love and power and discipline."
[2 Timothy 1: 7]
Monday, February 1, 2010
Sunday, January 31, 2010
As Christians, we hear a lot about trust. We talk to our friends about a trial we're going through and in closing say, "...But I'm just trusting God." We quote verses like Proverbs 3:5-6 that say, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths." We are good at talking the talk, but do we really understand what trust means? While listening to Josh Harris' sermon, I was convicted that have had a distorted view of what it means to really trust God...I do not have a habit of leaning on Him.
Noah Webster's Dictionary of the English Language (1828) defines trust as:
Confidence; a reliance or resting of the mind on the integrity, veracity, justice, friendship, or other sound principle of another person.
Our trust is based on the character of God. So in order to trust Him completely, we have to have an appropriate view of His character. In his sermon, Josh Harris gave an example of a girl who came to him and said this: "I have thoughts about how well things are going in my life, and I think, Oh no, God must be about to smack me with something...Things are going good; God is about to do something bad." Of course, I know that God is good. I know that. But do I really believe that? Do I live like that is true? I find that often I don't.
Our leaning on - resting in - God should be proactive. So often we put a hand on God, nodding our heads, affirming, "Yes, God, I'm leaning on you." Leaning on God means putting our entire weight on Him, surrendering everything to Him. The truth is... when we're not leaning on God, we're leaning on ourselves. We're leaning on the security of our relationships, on the security of our job, on the security of our own strength in managing our lives. We're not leaning on God, until our weight is off of our own two feet. And so, God has to pull those things out from under us, so that we are forced to lean on Him. I know, in my own life, I interpret this action as unloving. Why would God strip me of everything just when things were starting to go well? It's because I was finding my security there, instead of in Him. In reality, Him taking all of those things away is the most loving thing He could do. God is completely trustworthy and faithful, regardless of how that sometimes feels to me. He is, in truth, the definition of what it means to be trustworthy. He is the only person in the world who will not ever disappoint me...who will always follow up with His promises. He is the only person worthy of my complete and unreserved trust.
"God is God. Because He is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find no rest but in His holy will, a will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to." [Elisabeth Elliot]
~If there can be any reserve in my giving to Him who so loved that He gave His Dearest for me; if there be any secret "but" in my prayer, "Anything but that, Lord," then I know nothing of Calvary Love. ~
"There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.'"
"Ah, the Saved… what happens to them is best described as the opposite of a mirage. What seemed, when they entered it, to be the vale of misery turns out, when they look back, to have been a well; and where present experience saw only salt deserts, memory truthfully records that the pools were full of water.”