Archive for » October, 2014 «

Vex Much?

Click here to read Psalm 112 on BibleGateway.com

downloadLife is full of little frustrations.  The guy in front of you in line gets the last pudding cup at the deli.  They close your lane at the checkout right when you get to the front.  Those rotten pigs stole your hatchlings again. The roll is empty in your stall.  It’s the little things that make you wanna cash in your chips and become the Hermit of Highway 13.

Well, take comfort, my friend.  The Bible says that your life is a little bit of a burr to others’ saddles as well.  Especially when you succeed.  In Psalm 112, we read how the wicked will be “vexed” when the righteous are blessed.  Vexed.  Now that’s a great word.  Simply stated, people want to see Christians fail, and when they don’t, they get angry.

Leave it to the Bible to rub it in a little.  Not only is this Psalm a little dig at the frustration of those that stand against God, it also uses a form of Hebrew poetry called an acrostic, which means that the first line starts with the letter A, the second with B, and so on (in Hebrew, of course, but you get the idea).  Too clever for you, unrighteous one? Art thou vexed?

Now watch how we turn the tables just…now.

YE OLE BLACK KETTLE

What vexes you?  Are you frustrated when you see other Christians or – dare we say it? – the sinful people in the world succeed? Do you gnash your teeth and hope that they get a kick in the spiritual groin?  Or do you celebrate with them?  When that co-worker, who you know is lazier than a sloth on Labor Day, gets that promotion and the credit for your work, do you congratulate them?  Or do you mutter to anyone within earshot about how mistreated you are?

Sometimes we believe that as long we don’t give anyone a richly deserved throat-punch, that we are therefore righteous.  But if we claim to follow Jesus, the bar is higher for us.  Not only do we have to endure the unfairness of life, we have to share in the joy of those who gain at our expense. We have to actually be joyful when they come out ahead.

I GOTCHER BURNING COALS RIGHT HERE

The New Testament tells us to pray for our enemies; do good to those who treat us like dirt.  Not get back at them, not vent our anger in a healthy way, not make sure that everyone knows how mistreated we are, not even ignore them.  We have do good to them. And be happy about it.

Is there anything harder?  Yet the Bible says if we do, we will heap burning coals on their head.  If we treat people kindly, even when they clearly deserve a weekend with the Rack instead, then we show Christ’s love in the world.  That may draw people to a life with Him; it may even gain us a friend instead of building another enemy.

And if we can vex someone in the process, all the better.

Hunk o’ Burning Trust

Click here to read Daniel 3 on BibleGateway.com

1b91f75691e650ee06780a2080966cecThe ole fiery furnace. What a classic. Three men, defiantly standing before the king, standing up to The Man, standing up for their rights in the face of tyranny and religious oppression. And they prove to be invincible. Fire cannot touch their awesomeness. What better story could any modern day Christian want?

Of course, we get the story all wrong, as we often do. Read it again. They weren’t defiantly standing up to authority – they were bowing to the greatest Authority. When these guys are brought before the king, they don’t tell him “you can’t do nothin’ to us; we have rights, we have God, we’re a city on a hill and chosen nation; don’t get us and God mad.” They simply point out that whether the king kills them or not, as is his right, they will serve God. Even if God never shows up. That’s quite a bit different, don’t you think?

OK, GOD, YOUR LINE IS…

The problem is that we want a God that will behave; we want to be able to say “in Jesus’ Name,” and have all our wants come to pass. We want to have the right words to say to “stick it” to those mean ole atheists that keep taking our rights. We want to say God WILL do this. We want to tell the mountain to move, heal the mean diseases that ravage our family, and of course be recognized for our faith and power (yes, we say it’s God’s power, but really, God chooses to work through ME, so therefore I must awesomer than you) by our fellow pilgrims.

But notice the true act of faith here – they don’t say “when God saves us, you’ll see He has the power (and by the way, that means we’re awesome, too).” They don’t say “God will send angels to protect us, you have no authority (which may have been true).” They don’t say “We are God’s people, so we’re more special than you heathen peeps.” Instead, all of the emphasis is on God and his sovereign authority. We will trust, even if He chooses to let us die; our trust remains the same.

LOSING EVERYTHING

Don’t forget, these men had seen many of their “chosen” friends and family killed or captured. They had already gone through the trauma of believing God’s city and temple were inviolate, and then watched as pagan armies burned God’s house to the ground. They had already lost their rights, lost their homes, lost their families, lost their freedom, even lost their names. Yet they still tell God “thy will be done.”

Can you do that? Can you say “even if the gobment takes my freedom, even if they take my rights, even if they take away my tax exempt status, even if they put me in a FEMA concentration camp; thy will be done.” What if you pray and fast and pray some more, and that law still passes? What if you forgive and forgive, and that person still hurts you and gets away with it. What if those people invade “your” country, like happened in this story? What if you really believe, and Grandma still dies? Or your child? Or your spouse? What if you lose everything that is “yours”?  What if God does none of the things that He says He will do, according to our view of the Bible? Can you still trust Him?

Can you still say “thy will be done”?

The Wisdom of Geezers

Click here to read I Kings 12 on BibleGateway.com

look_younger_1463775

Admittedly, bashing our culture is pretty much the bread-and-butter of bloggers Net-wide.  It seems like any moron can pick an issue or two, write some gibberish online about it, and get a viral post of out it.  That’s certainly the hope here.  It would be a shame if the world would be deprived of the awesomeness of this post because of some new emphasis on “quality” or “adequateness.” So let us begin. Today’s focus of pseudo-rage: youthiness.

There’s little doubt that our culture is obsessed with youth. Back in the good ole days of yesteryear, men actually wore powdered wigs to appear older and wiser.  Today we inject our faces with chemicals in an arguably futile attempt to appear younger.  Watch the cast (or commercials) of just about any primetime television show, and you’ll notice lots of 20-somethings, a few 40s, and maybe a humorously outdated grandpa to illustrate how out-of-touch the soon-to-be-buried are.

The question we have to ask ourselves is “why?”  Why do we want so desperately to hang on to our youth?  C.S. Lewis, describing a not-so-admirable character, said “She wasted all her school time wanting to be the age she is now, and she’ll waste all the rest of her life trying to stay that age. Her whole idea is to race on to the silliest time of one’s life as quick as she can and then stop there as long as she can.”  It seems that our whole society has not only accepted this perspective, but in many ways glorifies it. “Immature” is no longer a cause of concern, it’s a badge of honor.

READ MY LIPS

Lest you feel sad that our poor society is so far gone, unlike those golden days of yore, let’s look at Rehoboam in I Kings 12.  Rehoboam is the son of Solomon, who had instituted a rather heavy tax burden on the poor Israelite people.  When Rehoboam becomes king, a delegation of the oppressed comes to the palace to seek some relief.

Rehoboam, showing at least a little wisdom, asks for three days to consider.  He asks first the elderly advisors that had long served his father.  Their advice is relax the taxes, thereby winning the favor of the people in the long run.  Rehoboam then turns to his bestest buddies, the guys who had grown up with him in the palace, and asks their advice.  Let’s not forget that these guys had probably benefitted from Rehoboam’s wealth in the past; is it really surprising they would want the money trucks to keep rolling in? They advise Rehoboam to not only raise taxes, but to do it aggressively.

So now the new king has a choice: listen to the voice of experience or the voice of excitement; the old geezers or the young pups.  Unfortunately, Rehoboam went with his cronies, and the nation was split apart, never to be re-united.

BACK IN MY DAY…

The problem here is not that young people are always wrong and old people are always right ( though the older one becomes the more one may endorse such a viewpoint. Just saying.) but rather that Rehoboam listened to people that would allow him to profit at others’ expense, because that fed his selfish desire.  Isn’t this the heart of the youth obsession?  As a child, you want to do what you want, when you want, and the consequences can take care of themselves another day.  As a mature person (hopefully), you realize the damage that selfish decisions can do, and therefore know that you can’t always do whatever you want.

When was the last time you saw a beer commercial with 40-year olds in it?  Why is that?  Possibly because the fun of drinking when you’re in your 20s has led to some not-so-fun consequences in your 40s? Consequences that advertisers possibly don’t want you to consider? *

The Bible says that the darkness hates the light; sin doesn’t not want to consider the end result.  Since Adam and Eve first chose their own menu, we have tried to avoid anything that may restrict our desires. As people with a sinful nature, we don’t want to be reminded of the consequences of our actions.   We want to run up the credit cards, and declare bankruptcy when judgement day comes.  We want to have sexual freedom, and unfettered access to destroy the consequences of our choices.  We want do what we want, when we want, how we want, and with no one to tell us otherwise.

Isn’t that the definition of childish?

*This post is not a rant against alcohol, but it’s just an obvious example.  Unless you share this post a bunch of times to voice your rage.  Then it’s all about that.