What does Christmas mean in America today? A crowd of shoppers in New York began the Christmas season by trampling a Wal-Mart worker to death on Friday. Is this what it has come to?
Let's do something different.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
We had a stroller picnic this morning. The kids have these amazing bibs from Baby Bjorn which I filled with cereal and cut-up fruit and we hit the road to enjoy a gorgeous morning. It is breathtakingly beautiful here. I'm tempted to qualify that sentence by putting 'in the Fall' on the end, or maybe 'when it's not raining,' but I won't. It is incredibly beautiful here every day.
I've been thinking about beauty. The dictionary says that beauty is the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind. I agree with that definition, but I also see beauty as pure gift. It is a reflection of God's grace. There is no other explanation for the extravagant, immoderate, and unreasonable beauty in this world. Surely God could have made a natural world with all the same function of this one, but none of the form. Instead he chose to create fiery orange leaves, crimson red berries, emerald green grass blanketed by a shiny ice-blue layer of dew... and this is just what I can see from the sidewalk today. He chose to give us the gift of 'intense pleasure (and) deep satisfaction' through the beauty of creation.
I'm thrilled and astounded daily by the beauty I see around me, but what blows me away even more than this is the beauty I don't see. This is the true extravagance of God, that He creates the most exorbitant beauty even where no one will ever see it. How many flowers bloom each Spring completely unseen by human eyes? How many salmon jump at sunrise each morning while the world sleeps? There are uncountable moments of beauty happening all over the world at all times, some seen and some unseen. All of this leads me to the realization that beauty glorifies God, whether we witness it or not. God never ceases to be glorified in and through His creation. Even though we can't see it all, let's drink up what we can each day and give God the glory.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Jon took the boys running the other day after work, and when they got home he let Nate go in the house while he jogged down the driveway to get the mail. When he was half-way down the driveway he could hear Nate yelling at the top of his lungs from the house. "DADDY!!! DAAAAAA-DDY!" He stopped and listened, trying to figure out if Nate was OK. Should he hike back up the driveway and see what was wrong or just grab the mail and then go investigate? Being the smart daddy that he is, he reasoned that if something were really wrong Nate would be crying not yelling, so he got the mail first and then hurried back up the driveway to see what Nate was carrying on about.
Jon: (out of breath) Nate, buddy, what is it? Why are you yelling? What's wrong?
Nate: We switched placemats!
Nate: Me and Dexter switched place mats!
Jon: That's what you were yelling to me about?
Nate: Yep! He used to have the one with the farm animals and I had the one with the other animals but now I have the farm animals and he has the other one!
Jon: Well, thanks for telling me son.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I'm sure that many of you out there are just dying to see a blog post about politics. You've been searching fruitlessly for just one little shred of political opinion on the internet. Right? Right?! Ha. Well, primarily for my own sanity and not for your reading pleasure, I am adding to the noise.
I already expressed my disgust with the illogical, uninformed, and fanatical behavior we saw from both parties' supporters during the election. Now that the election is over, I am seeing a new and possibly even more disturbing behavior: the complete and total union of religion and politics in the minds of many Christians. Here are two statements I read this week, both from professed Christians, one from an Obama supporter and another from a McCain supporter.
"We've been waiting so long for this. He is our Moses!" (quoted from Seattle Times, who identified the woman as a 'church stewardess')
"Maybe McCain on his own cannot defeat Obama, but our God can and He will if we take to our knees in prayer and raise a mighty cry to the heavens to 'Save us O Lord'" (quoted from a message by Dr. Charles Stanley, founder of In Touch Ministries and senior pastor of First Baptist Atlanta)
Both of these statements make my skin crawl.
I am absolutely appalled that the line between politics and religion has become so blurred for people that they believe these things. Obama is not Moses. Only Christ can set us free. And McCain was not God's Chosen One either, so praying against Obama is nothing more than unbiblical nonsense.
But my observation of this unholy marriage between religion and politics goes beyond what I've read in the newspaper and online. I'll call it a vibe, because I can't really pin down where it's coming from, but there is this arrogant and judgmental vibe I am getting from other Christians when it comes to politics. As Christians, our central belief is that Jesus is The Way. We believe that we are objectively right in our religious beliefs, and that other religious beliefs are objectively wrong.* HOWEVER. Religion is NOT politics. I don't care how sure you are that God Himself is calling you to passionately support, campaign for, and give your life savings to a candidate. If I do not support that candidate, I am not by definition outside God's will. I am not categorically, objectively wrong if I disagree with your politics.
As Christians, for God's sake, let's stop thinking a politician can save us. Let's stop praying for our own agendas and instead pray as Jesus did: Thy will be done. Let's stop thinking that politics = religion. Finally, let us pray wholeheartedly for those in authority, while remembering Christ's ultimate authority.
*Update: I want to make a slight clarification to the statement about Christian beliefs being objectively right. I certainly do not assume that every religious belief and doctrine I profess is 'correct', only that I believe the central tenets of Christianity to be Truth. (i.e. Jesus Christ crucified & resurrected, the Bible as God's Word)