Archive for May, 2010

A Facebook Prayer for Barak Obama

A couple months ago I saw a Facebook prayer posted in someone’s status that read, “Dear Lord, this year you took my favorite actor, Patrick Swayzie. You took my favorite actress, Farah Fawcett. You took my favorite singer, Michael Jackson. I just wanted to let you know, my favorite president is Barack Obama. Amen.” This silly prayer has raised lots of questions for me that I think are good for all of us to think about. Feel free to respond.

  1. Is this funny? Why/why not?
  2. What makes something funny?
  3. Does this prayer accord with the Word of God?
  4. Does this prayer take the Lord’s name in vain?
  5. How do I reconcile such a prayer, even if we take it as humor, with Peter’s exhortation to “honor everyone” including the emperor?
  6. How do I reconcile such a prayer, even if we take it as humor, with Paul’s exhortation to Timothy that “supplication, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions…”?
  7. Is it necessary for humor to accord with the Word of God? Why/why not?
  8. Why do I find pleasure in such vain entertainment?
  9. Why am I not so offended by sin that it is not entertaining?
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Say No To Panhandling

This week I was in Germantown, TN for a meeting. Germantown is a fancy suburb of Memphis, a town with a less than glorious reputation. As we drove around Germantown I saw a sign that read, “Say no to panhandling.” What drives us to put up such signs? There are, of course, the official reasons for signs like this. We want to protect those who might panhandle at busy corners. We want to protect property values. We don’t want to be enablers. There are systems in place to help such people. Then there are the honest answers. We don’t like people like that. They make us uncomfortable. They are poor. They are dirty. They are really trying to take advantage of me. If they can ask for spare change they can ask if I want fries with that. We don’t like beggars. If I give them some change, they are going to buy alcohol with it (nevermind the fact that you were going to use that change for a sixer on the way home from work). If I give them something, they will somehow track me down and ask for more. The Lord helps those who help themselves.

I don’t know that any of the official or honest reasons hold any water at all, but I do know these reasons reveal our heart. I do know they reveal our pride. I do know they reveal our prejudices. I do know they reveal our lack of love. I do know they reveal that we think we are better than a panhandler. I do know they reveal our refusal to view all men as created in God’s image. And, I do know they betray our claims of understanding the gospel.

Genesis 1.27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” All men are image bearers of God, and as such all men should be honored as such. When we treat people as less than us because they have less than us, we deny this basic biblical truth.

The gospel says that we are sinners with nothing to offer, that we are beggars for God’s grace. When we despise beggars, we despise ourselves. When we demand certain behaviors before we extend the love of Christ, we implicitly add works to the gospel. May we who have received freely, give freely.

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Escape from Reason

Francis Schaeffer’s book, Escape from Reason, is worth reading. It is worth reading multiple times. Early in my college career, Craig Loibner, the pastor of Fellowship North – the church where I grew up, recommended I start reading Francis Schaeffer. Specifically, he recommended that I read Escape from Reason. I respect Craig, so I read the book.  The first time I read the book, I knew it was important.  The first time I read the book, I knew it was helpful.  The first time I read the book, I had no idea what it was about. For someone given to experience in life over-and-against thoughtfulness about life, this book, which is thoroughly bent on thoughtfulness about life, only shook my foudation.  However, the truths that Schaeffer set forth would, overtime, seep down into the newly formed cracks in my foundation, solidify, and eventually obliterate the fairly pure though profoundly unexamined existentialism on which I built my life. Over the last ten-or-so years, I have revisited this book time-and-time-again. At present I am finishing yet another reading of Schaeffer’s Escape from Reason and was struck again by the closing paragraphs of chapter six.

I have come to the point where, when I hear the word ‘Jesus’ – which means so much to me because of the Person of the historic Jesus and His work – I listen carefully because I have with sorrow become more afraid of the word ‘Jesus’ than almost any other word in the modern world. The word is used as a contentless banner, and our generation is invited to follow it. But there is no rational, scriptural content by which to test it, and thus the word is being used to teach the very opposite things from which Jesus taught. Men are called to follow the word with highly motivated fervency, and nowhere more than in the new morality which follows the New Theology. It is now Jesus-like to sleep with a girl or a man, if she or he needs you. As long as you are trying to be human you are being Jesus-like to sleep with the other person, at the cost, be it noted, of breaking the specific morality which Jesus taught. But to these men this does not matter, because that is downstairs in the area of rational scriptural content.

We have come then to this fearsome place where the word ‘Jesus’ has become the enemy of the Person Jesus, and the enemy of what Jesus taught. We must fear this contentless banner of the word ‘Jesus’ not because we do not love Jesus, but because we do love Him. We must fight this contentless banner, with its deep motivations, rooted into the memories of the race, which is being used for the purpose of sociological form and control. We must teach our spiritual children to do the same.

This accelerating trend makes me wonder whether, when Jesus said that towards the end-time there will be other Jesuses, He meant something like this. We must never forget that the great enemy who is coming is the anti-Christ. He is not the anti-non-Christ. He is anti-Christ. Increasingly over the last few years the word ‘Jesus’, separated from the content of the Scriptures, has become the enemy of the Jesus of history, the Jesus who died and rose and who is coming again and who is the eternal Son of God. So let us take care. If evangelical Christians begin to slip into a dichotomy, to separate an encounter with Jesus from the content of Scriptures (including the discussable and the verifiable), we shall, without intending to, be throwing ourselves and the next generation into the millstream of the modern system. This system surrounds us as an almost monolithic consensus.

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