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Archive for the ‘idolatry’ Category

today the u.s. advanced in the world cup. today i ate mexican for lunch. today i am surrounded by books and notes trying to study. today i drove my car. today i drank coffee and tea with people (not together, but both this morning). tonight i will sleep in a bed. not everyone in our world, or even in the city of memphis, can share these same realities.

recently sociologist johnathan bloom has noted that, as americans, we throw away an average of $2000 of food per household of four every year. yes, $2000 a year, and this in a world where 25,000 children will die TODAY of preventable causes (hunger, malnutrition, diarrhea…) 

the article states, “Jonathan Bloom estimates the average family of four throws out close to $2,000 worth of food annually — 25 per cent of what’s brought home from the grocery store. Bloom has investigated the cycle of food waste for several years and has found that our obsession with freshness is at the heart of the issue.” you can read the whole article here.

the real stats that will blow you away are found HERE.

it has been fashionable of late to throw around the stat that memphis was named the “hungriest city in america” but i am not seeing much movement on it, especially from the church. memphis is hungry, the world is hungry, and i am getting fatter and throwing away more food. this is not OK and it will change.

followers of Jesus are called to feed the hungry, love justice & mercy, and to serve the poor. in fact, Jesus identifies himself with the poor so much he says, “whatever you do to the least of these you do to me.” so if i live in a city and a world where i am throwing away food or consuming excessively, and not sharing, am i doing that to Jesus? by ignoring the poor am i ignoring him?

i like the warm fuzzy feeling i get when i serve someone and think about how i served Jesus. that makes me feel good. but when i am self absorbed, self focused, self satisfying, and self serving i do not like the feeling i get when i think about how my ignoring of the poor is ignoring Christ. i am too self focused to relate “to the least.”

check out this dudes anger below. i am not encouraging you to sign his stuff (i have not) but this video made me smile. i think we should be angry over this. definitely. the disparity, even with in the church, should call us to turn over tables.

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throughout my short span on earth i have been overwhelmed by many things- a dysfunctional family, consequences of personal sin, God’s amazing forgiveness, the joy of marriage, a growing family, the suffering of this world, vocational transitions, among others. new to this repertoire is realizing my personal limitations in a new and fresh way.

i am experiencing anew an amazing grace, the fact that i cannot control everything, cannot be everywhere i would like to be, as deep in every relationship as i want to be, and as affective in my ministry (both vocationally and familially) as i would like. in short, i am overwhelmed by the grace God gives me in being limited. 

limitation is God’s design from the beginning, right? i mean, we are created to rest daily, neutralizing from the outset those thoughts of, “man, i wish i had ten more hours in my day.” guess what, you do not, and that is by design and is a grace. i can tell i am struggling with this design when i am having trouble sleeping due to anxiety. along with our daily rhythms God has built in weekly rhythms of rest, what Scripture calls “sabbath.” a day to set aside for worship, reflection, re-creation, and restoration. this is Divine design, the fact that we are created to stop. rest. trust. sleep. not be in control…

with this there is the reality that there is only one of me. i cannot be everywhere at once, i am only here in the “place” where God has put me. i am, in every way describable, limited in my presence. i can only be where God has put me. before this past month these realities really chaffed me. i hated not being in control and having to operate within my limitations. in short, i hated not being God. that is the root of it when i am honest, right? wanting to be God, that is.

as i have wrestled in prayer with the Lord over my anxiety, poor perspective, and desires for “productivity” i have experienced his grace in being content in my creatureliness. that is to say, i am not God, the Creator, but his creature- and that is OK. in fact, it is great. with Paul i have heard, “my grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in your weakness.” and that is what i want, the Lord’s power to be made perfect through me. 

the implications of this are multi-fold but for now i will say i am learning to bask in the grace of being limited, to boast in this weakness, and to trust. in the process i am putting in check the unhealthy priority i put on your opinion of me and the idols of status and productivity. and that is freeing. 

God’s mission is much bigger than what i can do, and if i limit what i want him to do to what i can be a part of and where i can be then that would be tragic. what a wretch i am, wanting to put God in my box! but what a great God we have. our God is the One who called gideon and his army of 300 into battle with lanterns, jars, and torches.  lanterns, jars, and torches, somewhat of a set of limitations when fighting a nations army. the result? a victory for the Lord, where the Lord got all the glory! is gideon remembered as a great general, a great strategist or organizer of men? nope. gideon is remembered (among other things) as a guy who reluctantly operated within the limitations the Lord gave him by trusting the calling, leading, and provision of God when the scenario did not make much sense. 

i am grateful for the grace of experiencing my limitations and am finding myself more and more willing to grab a lantern, a torch, and a jar to have a front row seat to watch the Lord grab glory for Himself. bring it on!

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Idolatry is something of a hot topic right now.  Tim Keller, Greg Beale, and Brian Rosner have recently published good books on the topic and its significance for Christians.  One of the real tragedies is not just what we do as idolaters, but what is done to us through idolatry.  More on that later, but for now, one really thought-provoking quote…

In the Old Testament, the

image-of-God-in-humanity theology says that idolatry is ruled out of court because to locate divine presence and action in another part of creation or in that which we create is to absolve ourselves of our own responsibility to bear divine presence and action.  The idolatrous humanity, like Narcissus, clings to those objects made in its own image [and those of creation] which it believes will affirm its being [and values] and guarantee its security and prosperity.  The true humanity in the biblical vision is one which affirms, gives security to and [multiplies] the life of creation [and now, from the viewpoint of Ephesians and the like, the life of New Creation is affirmed, secured, and multiplied].  The mark of the former is passivity and that of the latter activity.  Any pious resurrection of divine (privilege and) responsibility for the one human Jesus Christ must therefore be mindful of the besetting danger at the root of idolatry:  a self-absolution from the responsibility given to us at creation of bearing divine presence.

Crispin H. T. Fletcher-Louis, “God’s Image, His Cosmic Temple and the High Priest:  Towards an Historical and Theological Account of the Incarnation,” in Heaven on Earth: The Temple in Biblical Theology, eds T. D. Alexander and S. J. Gathercole (Paternoster 2004), 92.

These are provocative words, and my theological conditioning wants to push back a bit.  But this emphasis meshes, at least in part, with our identity as the body of Christ and God’s Temple, the location of his tabernacling presence on earth, and the mission we are given to live that heavenly reality.   CHTFL is responding to “low anthropology” by pointing to the biblical vision for humanity.  I continue to be overwhelmed with the way in which God chooses to use humanity for his purposes, rather than dolphins, chimps, and parrots.  To be sure, we’re earthen vessels.  But there’s treasure there…God’s spirit, New Creation life (Gal 6:14-15, 2 Cor 5:17). 

I’m toying with titling my next Sunday School lesson on Ephesians (4:1-24 is the text), “Cloning Jesus” (compare 4:32-5:2).

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