Paul says we Christians are running a race. Here's what I'm looking at on my run toward Christ.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Problem of Pain- A Few Favorites

I just finished reading "The Problem of Pain" by C. S. Lewis and I recommend it.  Here are just a few of my favorite quotes from the book.  I've noted what chapter they are from because your copy of the book may have different page numbers.

On Divine Omnipotence
"The freedom of God consists in the fact that no cause other than Himself produces His acts and no external obstacle impedes them... that His own goodness is the root from which they all grow and His own omnipotence the air in which they all flower."

On Divine Goodness
"The Divine 'goodness' differs from ours, but it is not sheerly different: it differs from ours not as white from black but as a perfect circle from a child's first attempt to draw a wheel."

"To ask that God's love should be content with us as we are is to ask that God should cease to be God:... He must labor to make us lovable."

On Human Wickedness
"Christianity now has to preach the diagnosis... in itself very bad news... before it can win a hearing for the cure."

"We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin... The guilt is washed out not by time but by repentance and the blood of Christ:... All times are eternally present to God."

On The Fall of Man
"Our present condition, then, is explained by the fact that we are members of a spoiled species."

On Human Pain
"We are not merely imperfect creatures who must be improved: we are, as Newman said, rebels who must lay down our arms."

"The human spirit will not even begin to try to surrender self-will as long as all seems to be well with it."

"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."

"As St. Augustine says somewhere, 'God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full... there's nowhere for Him to put it.'  Or as a friend of mine said, 'We regard God as an airman regards his parachute: it's there for emergencies but he hopes he'll never have to use it."

"I call this a Divine humility because it is a poor thing to strike our colors to God when the ship is going down under us; a poor thing to come to Him as a last resort, to offer up 'our own' when it is no longer worth keeping.  If God were proud He would hardly have us on such terms: but He is not proud, He stoops to conquer, He will have us even if we have shown that we prefer everything us to Him and come to Him because there is 'nothing better' now to be had... It is hardly complimentary to God that we should choose Him as an alternative to Hell: yet even this He accepts."

On Human Pain, continued
"... suffering is not good in itself."

"Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home."

On Hell
"He (the sinner) has his wish... to live wholly in the self and to make the best of what he finds there.  And what he finds there is Hell."

"To enter heaven is to become more human than you ever succeeded in being in earth; to enter hell, is to be banished from humanity."

"I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside."

On Animal Pain
(Because this is funny)
"'Where will you put all the mosquitoes?'... a question to be answered on its own level by pointing out that, if the worst came to the worst, a heaven for mosquitoes and a hell for men could very conveniently be combined."

On Heaven
"Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because were made for it."

"Heaven is a city, and a Body, because the blessed remain eternally different:"

Here's a link to buy the book if you want to today.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Wisdom Quest V- Contentment, Wise Friends and Stuff on the Internet

I'm continuing to look at the book of Proverbs.  Today let me share which verses I loved from chapters 13 through 15.  I'll pick one proverb from each.

Proverbs 13
"He who walks with the wise grows wise,
but a companion of fools suffers harm." Proverbs 13:20

Want to be wise?  Hang around wise people.  Also, remember that wise men and women teach others to be wise.  For a sports example of this look at Hayden Fry's coaching tree.  Coach Fry was a legendary football coach at the University of Iowa and his greatest accomplishment wasn't wins and losses but the men who learned how to lead young men under his tutelage.  Want to be wise?  Hang around wise people.  Want to leave a legacy of wisdom?  Pass on what you know.

Conversely, if you hang out with fools you will suffer the consequences.  Whether you just end up guilty by association or if you pick up their foolish habits, fools will only help you become more foolish.  Now, a fool is not someone who doesn't know better, a fool is someone who knows better and still choses to do dumb things.  Hang around these people and you'll find that trouble accompanies them.  I'm sure your parents already told you this, I'm here to let you know that they're right.

Proverbs 14
"A simple man believes anything,
but a prudent man gives thought to his steps."  Proverbs 14:15

How many of you know people that believe things because "they saw it on the internet"?  We laugh to ourselves when we see people share articles that are clearly fake or false or too biased to be real.  We are simple if we believe everything we read, see or hear.

Don't simply receive information, process it.  This includes information from teachers, preachers, books from the Christian book store, this blog... anything.  We must think all things through.  We have to be able to think, research, question and when find the truth we must be able to recognize and accept it.

Proverbs 15
"Better a little with the fear of the LORD
than great wealth with turmoil."  Proverbs 15:16

Do I believe this?  To be honest this was my first thought after reading this proverb.  I think it's a good question to ask ourselves.

All riches turn to nothing but God and His ways last forever!  Jesus taught about this, His disciples taught about this, King David wrote psalms about this idea because it is true.  Our wealth is worthless if it leave us with turmoil and our life can only be completely fulfilled with the fear of God.

There is always a reason to be discontented.  We are constantly wanting what is next and once we get that thing we want what's next after that.  Many rich people feel a deep desire for something better in the same way a poor person does.  When I was single I longed for a wife.  Then when you get married you long for a house, etc.

Satan tells us this lie, "If you only had _____ then you'd be happy."  This lie is a great tool of the Devil.  We all have believed it.  But here is the truth... if you can't be content right now you'll never be content.  Unless the thing you long for is to know Jesus it will fail you.  I challenge you to try to be content the way you are right now.

So, surround yourself with wise people and look to pass down what you know.  Process and think about every bit of information you're fed.  And finally, strive to be content with exactly where you are today.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Wisdom Quest IV- A Legacy, a Pig and a Kind Word

This week I read Proverbs chapters 10 through 12.  I want to share a favorite proverb from each chapter and I invite you to read along in Proverbs with me.

Proverbs 10
"The memory of the righteous will be a blessing,
but the name of the wicked will rot."  Proverbs 10:7

I've told the youth at church this and I've written this before, "you write your eulogy today."  Have you ever been to a funeral where such great things were said about the deceased?  Have you ever thought, "I hope people say things like that about me when I die"?  I have thought that before.  I want to leave a legacy.  I want my memory to be a blessing and to do that I must be a blessing today.  I end every blog post with the word 'today' because I firmly believe today is our opportunity to be a part of eternity because we aren't promised a tomorrow.  So, if when you die you want folks to say, "She was always there for me when I needed her" you've got to be there for people today.

Conversely the name of the wicked will not be remember fondly.  The wicked don't leave a legacy, they leave infamy.  For example, the name Adolf used to be an extremely popular name in the German speaking world, but after WWII the name became rare.  Adolf Hitler literally caused the name Adolf to rot.

Leave a legacy through righteous living rather than a rotten name.

Proverbs 11
"Like a gold ring in a pig's snout
is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion." Proverbs 11:22

Single friends, pick people based on character not beauty alone.  Beauty is not bad at all but it does not have the power to cover up faults forever.  For a humous example of this check out this Demitri Martin video.

Friends, if you seek character in a mate beauty often comes with it.  I won't promise every time, but I can tell you that I looked for character and I got a beautiful woman, too.  My wife Christine has great character and is everything I wanted physically, too.  And I believe that her character is what makes her more lovely to me all the time.

Proverbs 12
"An anxious heart weighs a man down,
but a kind word cheers him up."  Proverbs 12:25

As I wrote in my last post, depression and anxiety is in the spotlight of society since the suicide of Robin Williams.  It's even more on my mind because of a friend who attempted suicide days before Williams took his life.  Anxiety and depression can weigh a man down; these diseases and moods are strong, but kindness can be a cure.  Kindness is not the only remedy.  Doctor prescribed drugs, counseling, etc are other great remedies, but kindness is also a remedy.

Don't withhold kind words.  We never know who needs a kind word to counter anxiety.  Plus, words of affirmation is a common love language and people need to be shown love.  You may never know the effect your words can have and you may never know if you'll be able to share a kind word later.  Many funerals are full of words spoken to a casket that were never said to the person.

So, remember that anxiety is powerful but so is a kind word.  Be sure to make character what we search for in mates and friends.  And leave a legacy by living righteously today.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin Williams and Suicide

Today one of my favorite actors, Robin Williams, died of an apparent suicide.  He was 63.

Robin was one of my favorite actors because he could do so many different things so well.  I couldn't turn away from Good Will Hunting as he repeated, "It's not your fault."  He's the reason your uncle thinks it's funny to wake you up by shouting, "Good Morning Vietnam!"  He had us say, "O captain, my captain" in Dead Poets Society.  Made us both laugh and cry in Mrs. Doubtfire  and Patch Adams.  He enthralled children as the genie in Aladdin, freaked us out and inspired pity in One Hour Photo and burst into living rooms as our favorite rainbow suspender wearing alien in Mork and Mindy.  He was so diverse and talented but also fatally depressed.

Robin Williams' death reminds me again that we, especially Christians, need to step up and fight to keep depression from killing our friends, neighbors and family.  Depression has affected me very personally, as has suicide.  Several people I know and love dearly have been so depressed they've considered suicide.  I've had close friends and family (one even this week) attempt suicide.  Sadly, I've had friends, family and friends of family kill themselves.  Depression and suicide is all around us and we must wake up to that.

Friends, stop treating depressed and suicidal people as if they are freaks.  Stop putting them in the closets that often eventually kill them.  Stop telling them the lie that those who commit suicide go to Hell automatically.  Stop treating depression as if it's something they should just be able to pray away if only they had enough faith.  Stop making people feel like taking medication is some sign of weakness in their faith.

Those of you that are depressed, I can't understand how you feel but I will try to make you feel like a person loved by God.  But in order to do that I and others need you to stop hiding your depression.  Let others fight depression with you.  Let us be there for you.  Let us pray with you.  Let us hold your hand through this.  And please, please, please find help from people other than us, too.  We want to help you but you may need to see a counselor or may need medication.  Medication and counseling is not a sign of weakness, but of wisdom.

Friends, too many people are dying every day from depression.  The World Health Organization estimates that 3,000 people a day commit suicide and for every person who kills themselves 20 people attempt to do so.  We can't ignore this.  Robin Williams is just one of 1,000,000 people each year that dies too soon from depression.  Christians, let us love more effectively in this area because Jesus would, and Jesus will through you if you do it today.

Wisdom Quest III- Wise People Listen to Wisdom

Please read Proverbs chapters 7 through 9.  I've chosen my favorite proverbs from each chapter.  Feel free to comment with your favorites.

Chapter 7
"With persuasive words she (the adulteress) led him astray;
she seduced him with her smooth talk.
All at once he followed her
like an ox going to the slaughter,
like a deer stepping into a noose
till an arrow pierces his liver,
like a bird darting into a snare,
little knowing it will cost him his life." Proverbs 7:21-23

Sin is enticing.  It is seductive but it always ultimately leads to death.  Sin may seem to provide a good life but it ultimately leads to death.  It's like the steer that is cared for, fed, and given shelter by the farmer.  The steer may feel like it is living the good life but the farmer always plans to kill the steer for meat.  Sin is like that farmer and we are like that steer.  Sin may provide good things for awhile, but it has a plan for us.

Chapter 8
"To fear the LORD is to hate evil;
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil behavior and perverse speech." Proverbs 8:13

I have to ask myself and you might too, "Do I hate evil?" To fear God is not just to see the benefit of His ways; to fear God is to love what He loves and hate what He hates.  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; so, the wise person loves what God loves and hates what God hates.  (Disclaimer: do not read this as a license to hate some people)

Chapter 9
"Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult;
whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse.
Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you;
rebuke a wise man and he will love you.
Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still;
teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning." Proverbs 9:7-9

The first thing most of us see in this passage is to not waste time giving advice or correction to people who can't and won't take it.  However, I invite you to ask yourself, "Can I take constructive criticism?"

"Can I take constructive criticism?"  "Can I take criticism at all or am I always defensive?"

I have wasted a lot of good advice and correction because I was trying to save face.  For example, when I started at my job I was so busy trying to prove I wasn't the kid that I ignored advice that later helped me become a better broadcaster.  This is a something I need to get better at.  Maybe you do, too.  A wise person can take criticism and become wiser.

So, don't be fooled by sin.  It may seem enticing and good, but it leads to death.  Learn to love what God loves and hate what He hates.  Strive to have the mind of God.  Finally, listen to others and grow from their instruction today.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Wisdom Quest II- The Heart, the Breasts and the Ant

Each week I am reading three chapters of Proverbs of choosing a favorite passage for each chapter.  I invite you to join me in doing this.  Here's what stood out to me in chapters 4 through 6.

Chapter 4
"Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4:23

So many issues in our life are issues of the heart.  Where our heart goes we go also.  So, we must guard our heart.  I think we do this by paying close attention to what goes in our eyes and ears and what we touch because those things make their way into our hearts.  We must put boundaries on our desires because sometimes our heart's desires go too far and wound our heart.

Above all guard your heart in all arenas of your life.

Chapter 5
"May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
A loving doe, a graceful deer...
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be captivated by her love." Proverbs 5:18-19

Solomon implored his readers to love their wife and their wife alone.  We must do that, too.  So love your wife.  See her beauty.  Find her captivating.  Know she's sexy, cute, gorgeous, lovely, etc.  Gaze at her lovingly.

There is temptation everywhere to look at other women and to want other women.  Work hard to be satisfied by your own wife's body and by your own wife's love.  This may take effort at times but it is something that wise men do; and wise men realize that loving their own wife immensely is for their own good and pleasure.

For those of you not married yet, love your wife now.  Remember that she is out there.  All the other women you look at now will find their way into your heart.  Fight that!  Save yourself for your wife even if you don't know her yet.

Chapter 6
"Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!
It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,
yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest." Proverbs 6:6-8

Wise people are self-motivated people.  Laziness can bring one to ruin but hard work pays off.  This means be proactive in doing things that you, your family or your business needs done.  Wise people don't need to wait for instructions to work hard; wise people don't need to be driven to work hard, they just do it because they are wise enough to see the benefit in the end.

So, guard your heart, love your wife and be proactive.  This wisdom is free for you in the book of Proverbs.  Please read Proverbs with me today.