Man of Sorrow {Guest Post}

Another amazing, Bible-inspired poem from Zane Gilley, which I trust will focus your thoughts on the gospel of Christ this Good Friday.

   Man of Sorrow
 
   The Son of God was born on earth to die,
   To rule not over sinful world below.
   The Son of Man is lifted up on high.
 
   The zealots lusted Rome to occupy;
   But Jesus knew his blood would freely flow
   The Son of God was born on earth to die.
 
   Peter, James, and John, saw with weary eye
   Jesus speaking in clouds with face aglow.
   The Son of Man is lifted up on high.
 
   The masses followed, their king to glorify.
   Singing ‘Hosanna!’, yet they did not know
   The Son of God was born on earth to die.
 
   He suffered greatly giving no outcry.
   With bleeding twisted thorns on broken brow,
   The Son of Man is lifted up on high.
 
   He sacrificed, our sins to purify.
   He spilt his blood and did to heaven go.
   The Son of God was born on earth to die.
   The Son of Man is lifted up on high.

Dancing with an Elephant

photo credit: buzzfeed.com

I’m reading the book, When Helping Hurts by Fikkert and Corbett.  The authors work with a non-profit organization called “The Chalmers Center” whose purpose is to alleviate poverty around the world.  I highly recommend this book.  It has really opened my eyes to the good intentions which are so often blown through ignorance.  One prevalent example of well-intentioned waste among Christians is short term mission trips.  Consider the following from the book:

For example, missions expert Miriam Adeney relates a story told to her by an African Christian friend: Elephant and Mouse were best friends. One day Elephant said, “Mouse, let’s have a party!” Animals gathered from far and near. They ate. They drank. They sang. And they danced. And nobody celebrated more and danced harder than Elephant. After the party was over, Elephant exclaimed, “Mouse, did you ever go to a better party? What a blast!” But Mouse did not answer. “Mouse, where are you?” Elephant called. He looked around for his friend, and then shrank back in horror. There at Elephant’s feet lay Mouse. His little body was ground into the dirt. He had been smashed by the big feet of his exuberant friend, Elephant. “Sometimes, that is what it is like to do mission with you Americans,” the African storyteller commented. “It is like dancing with an Elephant.” When Helping Hurts, Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett (Kindle 2315-2320)

Due to our considerable advantages, Christians in the west can easily develop a “god complex” when it comes to helping the disadvantaged.  Our inflated sense of significance can cause untold harm to the people we hope to “save.”  Short term mission trips can do some good, but most believers in the west just don’t know how to dance gently.  If you have a heart for the poor, and I hope that you do, please read this book.

Mixed Motives and Methadone

I just read a blog from an atheist who took exception with street preachers who hung out in the pub district and offered aid to the revelers there.  He made some great points.  One of his problems with these folks was that they did good out of mixed motives.  They offered physical assistance to people in crisis but they also wanted to spread the gospel.  So my question is, “What’s wrong with that?”

Consider a non-profit organization whose goal is to help heroine addicts.  They open a methadone clinic hoping to attract addicts seeking relief from withdrawals.  At the clinic they also offer rehab services.  Should we fault them for having mixed motives?

As believers in Christ, we believe that humanity suffers from one problem, sin.  That disease manifests itself through a myriad of symptoms.  Whether we’re addressing symptoms or offering a cure the mission and the motive remain the same.

Out of the way and into The Way

God seems to talk to me while I’m in the shower.  That’s probably too much information but it’s true and the detail is important to my story.  Today, he reminded me that living for him is something which he does.  Walking in The Way means getting out of the way and letting the Son of God walk the earth in our shoes.  The watershed moment in my life occurred when Colossians 1:27 dawned on my consciousness.  Here is the NIV rendition of that verse: “To them (beings on the spiritual plane) God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  The message resident in that verse forever shifted my perspective and expectations.  This morning, God reminded me of it.

When I got to the office today, I realized that I had not changed over my superfluous desktop calendar.  After ripping off last week at the perforation and placing it back on my desk, I looked and read the verse at the bottom: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Be blessed today.  God through his grace has not only taken your past in hand, he also will handle your present and your future.  Praise him!

One Rule

When discussing morality and ethics, atheists are wont to say that they are actually more moral than theists because they do what is right because it is right, not out of fear of punishment or hope for a reward. While I will grant that higher morality transcends personal interest, I take exception with anyone, atheist or Christian, who depicts Christian morality in terms of rules enforced through threat or bribe.

The New Testament presents but one rule to govern the lives of Christ’s constituents.  The various biblical writers express it in different ways.  Here is my favorite expression of the one rule:

“Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.  Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God.” (Galatians 6:15-16 NIV)

The problem with the “right for the sake of right” ethical formula is that it requires every adherent to be “right.”  Sadly, we’re not all right.  Many of us are very broken.  Sitting here right now I can’t think of anyone who has done wrong because it is wrong.  That being the case, how on earth could we ever expect that humans would ever on a large scale do what is right because it is right? 

Since we can’t count on others to do right, we’ll need to limit human behaviors through laws enforced by duly appointed officials.  Which means that people will do right because they fear punishment.  On an interpersonal level, we’ll need social norms and societal approval or censure to bring people into conformity.  In other words, humans will do what is acceptable in order to be accepted and not rejected – in order to gain reward or avoid punishment. 

Who can deny that these forces inhibit genuine individual liberty?  Given this complex set of incentives, who can claim high morality?  I submit that only genuine Christians are truly free and therefore truly moral.  They have been remade in the image of God demonstrated in the person of Jesus Christ.    In Christ ,doing and being have become one.  We have become whole.  Our behavior is driven by our inner life.  When human laws or expectation coincide with right we transcend those motives.  When they conflict, we defy them.  Followers of Christ observe the one rule, “the new creation.” 

Psalm 2 {Guest Post}

It’s my privilege to post another “Christian” poem by my favorite “post-Christian” poet, Zane Gilley.  Thanks for your contribution, Zane.  Beautiful work.

Psalm II
Why do the heathens fill themselves with rage
And the peoples imagine things in vain?
The monarchs of the world themselves engage
And rulers counsel and bring forth a plan
Against Almighty Jehovah on high
And the one he has annointed, saying,
“Let us break these bands we are restrained by,
And these cords away from us let us fling.”
The One enthroned in the heavens will laugh,
Jehovah God shall have them to deride.
Then he will speak unto them with his wrath
With his fury, they shall be terrified.
“I have placed upon the holy mountain
   Of Zion my king, the Anointed One.”
 
I proclaim the words of Jehovah One
That he has gracefully made known to me,
“Thou hast now become my beloved son
Even this day I have begotten thee.
Ask it of me, and I shall answer thee
Give thee thy inheritance, the heathen
And the farthest lands across the wide sea
To thee, begotten, for thine possession.
With your rod of iron broken are they,
And dashed into pieces like pottery.”
 
Now, O kings learn this lesson of wisdom
You rulers of the earth are warned of him.
Serve the Annointed One with holy fear
With much trembing kiss meekly his feet dear,
Lest he be enraged, you’ll die in his path,
For quickly kindled is his divine wrath.
 
Blessed are all that will
Take refuge in him still.