Showing posts from August, 2009

Highlights from New York City

We just returned from our vacation in New York. If you are a fan of NYC, see if you recognize these places...
The Belvedere Hotel, on 48th between 8th and 9th Aves. A clean and affordable hotel within two blocks of Times Square. I recommend it!The huge Hersheys and M&M stores within a block of each other. We learned that the two companies despise each other.The amazing phenomenon of Times Square. Did you know that businesses in the Square are required to advertise in bright lights? Times Square is so bright that it actually shows up on satellite photos. And it never sleeps. One night Lauren and I were walking around at night (which is completely safe to do), and they started jackhammering the sidewalk at 11:30 PM! The double-deck tour buses. We learned so much about NYC from our tours! Highly recommended.Carnegies Deli. Great fun, and their sandwiches are the most intimidating skyscrapers in NYC.St. Patrick's Cathedral. A truly awesome structure! It has to be one of the finest …

Why do we care if our culture is doubtul about truth?

I want to address this question, because it arises out of Steve’s comments on my post about living in an age of BS, and it brings up an important issue: what is the church’s relationship to the world? I am happy to pursue this conversation.

Steve wrote: “If we are sons of God, we invite and advance the Kingdom of heaven upon the earth, a Kingdom of truth. Focusing on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy is what Paul exhorts us to do (Phil 4:8). If one claims to ‘live’ in an age of the opposite, that is his/her choice. The environment surrounding a son of God will be filled with light, the radiance of our Lord Jesus. Let's live from heaven, and be salt and light to those around us!”

Here are some thoughts…

Great question! What is our relationship to the world around us? Since we are called to be salt and light, does it matter what the world is like? My instinct is to examine the Scriptures and see how our role models related to the world arou…

Overcoming the cannibal within

Some thoughts on Ps 53… It begins with this familiar line: “Fools say in their heart, ‘There is no God…’” We usually apply this idea to people who do not know God. We lament the foolishness of people who live their lives out of relationship with God.

However, I am owning my share of this problem today. In my forgetfulness, I can go through chunks of the day behaving as if I am relatively independent from God. There is an impulse I live with every moment of every day to live as if God doesn’t exist. We all have this impulse. Paul quotes Psalm 53 in his letter to the Romans to support his argument that there is no one on the planet who seeks God on his or her own (Rom 3:12). Left to our own devices, we are all fools. We share the impulse to forget God. And that means we share the impulse to become cannibals.

Verse 4 says, “Do all these evildoers know nothing? They devour my people as though eating bread; they never call on God.” Devour people. Hunt them down, take them down, and consume t…

Surrender to Love

I want to recommend a book: David Benner’s Surrender to Love: Discovering the Heart of Christian Spirituality. I haven’t read Francis Chan’s Crazy Love yet, but I just finished Surrender to Love, and it is a great encouragement in the Christian life. Here is Benner’s summary of what the book is about:

“This book is about love – not the soft, sentimental kind but the strong, spirit-transforming kind. It is about the paradoxical ways we often fear love and the way love uniquely offers release from our deepest fears. It is about the consequences of building the spiritual journey around anything else than surrender to love. And it is about knowing ourselves to be deeply loved by God as the first step in becoming genuinely great lovers of others and God” (p. 11).

I agree with what Benner says here about the importance of building our lives around love – specifically, God’s perfect love. I am thoroughly convinced of this: the only thing that truly transforms a person is receiving and giving G…

Living in an age of BS

If you already figure that we live in an age of BS, good news – there is technical support for your view. Harry Frankfurt, professor emeritus of moral philosophy at Princeton University, wrote a biting little book, published in 2005, entitled On Bullsh**. I was given this book by a friend, and I decided to give it a go. I was pleasantly surprised. It is not a joke book. It is classical academic discourse on a cultural phenomenon. I admit, though, that there is a certain childish glee in reading a serious analysis of a word that I am not supposed to use.

The opening line states the gist of Dr. Frankfurt’s position: “One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullsh**.” Okay, now follow along. Frankfurt has a serious point to make.

First, he differentiates BS from lying. When someone is lying, he knows the truth and is deliberately trying to mislead his listener (or reader, etc.). In contrast, when someone is BSing, he doesn’t care whether what he says is tru…

What becomes of the church in a rapidly changing world?

I just viewed a video on YouTube called Did You Know 2009. (I am writing this on my blog, and the link won't carry over to Facebook; but a search for "Did You Know 2009" will call up the video.) Very interesting! And overwhelming. The video made me feel anxious. It’s astounding how radically and quickly our world is changing. I couldn’t help but ask, “What becomes of the church in this changing world?” My thought is that the church, if it is going to do well, will get out of big buildings and onto ground level… away from clever programs and into concrete displays of God’s love. The only thing that will cut through the anxiety of disruptive change is what is truly transcendent about the church – God’s love, which has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5). Change produces anxiety, and anxiety forces us back to the core of the faith, which is exhibiting the love of Christ in very real, unprogrammed ways.

In our changing world, less is more, and small…

What to do when church means nothing at all

The trend in recent decades is that American youth are growing up with less and less exposure to church and Christian teachings. Why this trend? Because church has become irrelevant and meaningless to our surrounding culture. American culture is changing, and the church is being left behind. (An ironic twist on the Left Behind book series could be inserted here.)

I was reminded of this yesterday as I listened to a song I like very much, "Crooked Teeth" by Death Cab for Cutie. If you don't know Death Cab, they are an indie rock band from Washington. Incidentally, the band's name was taken from a song performed in the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour movie. Death Cab has grown to immense popularity, with at least one platinum album.

The chorus in "Crooked Teeth" goes:

And you can't find nothing at all If there was nothing there all along
Yesterday as I was listening to it, the final lyrics of the song caught my ear:

And you can't find nothing at all If ther…