Tuesday, May 02, 2023

God is worthy of praise

Some days I am convinced that the single most important shift in thinking that a Christian can undergo is to glorify and praise God for who he is, and not merely for how he has dealt with us. In other words, God in all of his attributes and perfections, ought to be always before our eyes and exalted in our prayers. Yes our covenant God's “steadfast love endures forever” and we are the prime beneficiaries. But this is praiseworthy not just because we benefit, but because of this perfection in itself. There is rarely space to talk about it but it genuinely irks me when people ascribe all kinds of praise to God for something that works out to their liking (read earthly benefit), saying “it was a God thing,” as if they are the central reason that certain things have come to pass in God’s providence.
And yet, we know so little of God’s purposes, except for his promise that he does, in fact, order all things to certain ends, which includes the good of his children. Yet, we only have a passing, surface-level understanding of what is good for us! None of our epiphanies about God’s providence and provision for us are comparable to what shall finally be plain once the fog of this world has lifted and our faith is sight. But I digress. My point is that our praises should be big enough to acknowledge that ALL of him is praiseworthy, not just his works, much less the works that we understand, much less the works that we understand and are happy about in the moment. What better way to keep this in mind than to meditate first and foremost on who God is, not just a small sliver of what he does?

In light of this, it’s shocking that sinful therapeutically-minded humans demand unconditional love “for who I am,” while somehow demanding that God — in all his perfections and excellencies — first give us a reason to love him.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

A death worth remembering

Every time our fallen veterans are honored in our land of peace and plenty, it strikes me that we aren’t just blessed to have had them fight for our earthly peace. We are also blessed to still be here to remember them. We all instinctively want our lives to matter, so we honor those who died serving our nation and fighting our enemies as we would want to be honored and remembered ourselves. 

But it’s safe to say that this remembering isn’t normative to the human experience. For one thing, the victors are the only soldiers guaranteed that space and opportunity. The conquered face extinction of their earthly identity — the framework out of which that privilege would have arisen. It’s safe to say that more soldiers have died in defeat than in victory, and shrewd conquerors know that allowing a people to honor those that died fighting them is only to foment discontent and rebellion.

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Saturday, April 04, 2020

Bring out your idols

The last month of progressive restrictions on life due to COVID-19 has produced an anguish that can  succinctly be described as mourning. Every day our expectations in every sphere of life are dashed upon the rocks of difficult new circumstances. The most frustrated among us feel like we are behind a slow-moving vehicle at a yellow light -- impatient and ready to lash out. We feel righteous if we are able to keep up a facade of calm in public, but inwardly we seethe and seek to lay blame at the feet of some enemy. That enemy often takes a predictable face, depending on our ideological predisposition: a political party, the CDC, a president, a congress, a governor, the media, the Chinese, the bureaucracy, the deep state, big pharma -- it's an endless list of convenient enemies from which to choose!

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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A test of our zeal

Now that we are forced to stay home due to an outbreak, I've seen a few people asking questions along these lines: What is the worth of the instituted church? Unfortunately some don't understand the implications of what they are asking and how drastically the earth may be shifting under our feet at this very moment. 

Answering this question will be a culling for Christians. If we already understand how fundamental the instituted church is to our kingdom identity, then this time of "distance" will induce fervent yearnings to be gathered and physically numbered with fellow saints. Indeed, zeal for God's house is consuming us at this very moment. If we don't understand or apprehend the church, then this time is a two-edged sword: It will normalize and seal our habit of neglecting God's house and the means of grace, leading to greater working ignorance, selfishness, and idolatry. However, it may be that some will have their eyes opened and they will begin to treasure what they have lost.

We've all heard the numbers -- Church attendance is down, generation over generation. Each successive decade features an even steeper drop than the last.
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Saturday, March 07, 2020

An observed vanity

There are processes at work in your body right now that will, in time, claim your life. If the only purpose you have is to use your breath to achieve some fleeting success or pleasure, how empty that success will be when your chest rises and falls for the last time on this earth.

This truth, when acknowledged, leads inexorably to either hope or despair, with nothing in between. It is unsurprising that when the least blind among the blind realize how little control they have over their destiny, they often choose to end their own lives as both an act of final rebellion and a futile exercise in control. They can’t abide the thought of having terms dictated to them by death, so they choose the “best” death they can dream up — never dreaming, as they should, that despair is completely unnecessary, given we were created to bear God’s image and to bring glory to him; that, in Christ, each and every one of our limited supply of breaths are sanctified to bring glory to Him; that, in Christ, all of the sting and pain of death has itself become empty and vain.


Monday, December 30, 2019

Willing to be fooled

Now, you're looking for the secret. But you won't find it because, of course, you're not really looking. You don't really want to work it out.
You want to be fooled.
I was reading this article from my friend over at Reformed Perspective and I was reminded of the above quote from The Prestige, one of my favorite movies. The quote is focused on the way a magician fools his audience -- I'm willing to bet this is not unlike our affinity, in any age, to be willfully fooled by hoax after hoax no matter what the medium.
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Saturday, December 21, 2019

Home is where the kitchen is

My wife and I have often commented on the excessive "open concept" used in every new house these days. It is one of the peculiar items that has made us more inclined to look for older homes whenever we are house-hunting. The popularity of combining all siting, dining, kitchen, and even entry areas into a single "great room" is as strong and as lasting as the India Pale Ale.

So I was fascinated to read this think piece by Kate Wagner that outlined the history and drivers behind these floorplans.
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Friday, December 06, 2019

On Christmas, Scrooge, and various scrooges

I grew up with a few lovely sets of grandparents who made sure we were supplied with Christmas gifts. Yes, even though my father died when I was 3 years old, my mother and older siblings made sure that Christmas was especially distinct and happy -- dare I say "holy."

My memories include a lot of unique experiences: cutting a live tree and the inevitable disagreements over what type (Blue Spruce, Douglas, Grand, or Noble firs all had different appeal) of tree, how big, where to place it, and how to decorate it. We had a tradition for a while of decorating the tree together and bargaining over who got to put what ornaments up. There was always a special ornament with my dad's picture to place. Somehow there were never tears over who would place it, but it had meaning. Decorating the tree sometimes got "emotional" for me when I would argue with my older sisters. There was the one year they thought it would be fun to do a "Victorian" tree, which basically meant a Noble Fir, only white lights and a few less of the oddball musical ornaments. As an aside, I don't know where we got so many musical ornaments. There were SO MANY! Some played the same "midi" version of jingle bells and others had unique tunes. They were either little red pianos or gold or silver gifts-shaped boxes with switches on the bottom. Then there were the ones you could squeeze to activate. For a while, we had a game where everyone would grab a music ornament (needed all hands) and activate them simultaneously and laugh at the resulting ridiculous cacophony.
Other traditions were not so silly: We were all choir kids. Christmas meant somewhere between one and three choir obligations for which to prepare. Sometimes it was church family night. Sometimes the local city choral group singing the advent portion of Handel's Messiah. And gifts... About those gifts.
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