Saturday, February 23, 2008

TV vs. Relativism???

Wow! Television dealing with real life honestly? What a pleasant surprise! I'm not at all a fan of "ER", but I'm tempted to believe the end of this episode might be worthwhile.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Bad News

We all know that a lot of contemporary Christian music is fluff. I can live with that. There's a lot of good music to be found and a lot of good messages as well. Besides, who is perfect, anyway? We are all "in process", "under construction", being sanctified.

I may pay more attention to fluff than I have because I was shocked at Natalie Grant's In Better Hands. Now, wait a minute! I'm not calling for a boycott or excommunication or anything like that. I am only calling for your attention.

The first time I heard this song, my attention was instantly caught by Natalie's plaintive and sincerely grandiose style, which I often find beautiful and moving. But I was stunned to hear her sing "You can't love if you don't love yourself"! What? Did I hear that right? Can I rewind the radio? Isn't this a Christian station? Who is that? What's the name of that song?

In Better Hands is typical, nearly vacuous, contemporary Christian fluff, though better for having been sung by Natalie Grant. I don't mind at all that there is only incidental doctrinal content or that no figure of the Godhead is mentioned, though "the breath of Jesus" can be found in one line. I don't expect that kind of content in what is, essentially, pop music.

I'm sure no more thought was given to the line I find alarming than to others like "It’s like the world is silent, though I know it isn’t true". But, really? "You can't love if you don't love yourself"?!?!


We learn just the opposite from the Bible. If you can't love, it is most certainly because you do love yourself.

Some of this worldly thinking must come from the common confusion between love and joy. Many don't enjoy their identity, but that's only an issue because they love themselves so much. What does it mean to enjoy who you are, to enjoy your identity, to exult in yourself? It means to be proud and self-centered! Contrary to loving oneself, rejoicing in Jesus miraculously results in humility and love for others.

I love Natalie as she is our sister in the Lord. I stand behind her profession of faith. I have no desire to call her to account. May the Lord keep her, bless her abundantly, and continue to grow her up in Christ. May we all be discerning to see, smell, and taste before we swallow whole.

The Good News

Ginny Owens's debut Without Condition was released way back in 1999, but it may as well be new. In Ginny's lyrics, I find lessons for me today. Be Thou My Vision begins the record and its theme. There's a big lesson there!

I'm still growing and learing and so forth, but I am humbled by the words of I Wanna Be Moved because the first verse describes me and the rest does not:

    The Road is winding, narrow and steep
    And I can't keep walking with frozen feet,
    My spirit is not willing;
    My heart is cold as ice;
    Thaw out my convictions;
    The passion's left my life

    I don't wanna be a flame
    I wanna be a raging fire
    Tired of my will, my way,
    Your calling's higher!
    Oh, I know it's time I stopped running from the truth
    So I'll stand here still, until I'm filled
    I wanna be moved I wanna be moved by you!

    Wanna be a rebel with a Holy cause,
    Stand against the Devil and hold up my cross,
    You have a mission for me; a reason why I'm here,
    To radiate your glory, with sweet songs to your ears

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Unlocking the Mystery of Life

I frequently enjoy watching movies. I enjoy interesting stories, fantastical visual effects, and vicariously participating in activities I may never have the opportunity (or the inclination) to experience.

As a result of my interest, I have come across a very few fiction movies worth sharing with others and a rapidly growing number of documentaries of quality.

I have just viewed Unlocking the Mystery of Life and I highly recommend it. I have too little patience for traditional reviews, but in order to encourage you to see it - no, to own it yourself - I will be brief.

In the same way that The Privileged Planet promotes Intelligent Design generally, rather than a particular God or religion, Unlocking the Mystery of Life lays out the overwhelming evidence without being critical of opponents.

Better yet, the issues at hand and the evidence are presented with refreshing objectivity, in 'plain language', with common sense reasoning, but without skimming over the details. As a result, the viewer is not only informed, but equipped to discuss the subjects addressed.

In addition, viewers are treated to some of the awe inspiring beauty of the world in which we live.

Buy this DVD. Watch it with your children, your friends, and your neighbors. Then talk it over!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Love is a Four-Letter Word

"Love is patient, love is kind..."

Paul teaches us how to love. But, I now try to recall if I have been patient and kind to my ice cream. Because, of course, I love ice cream. How can I be kind to ice cream? If I did find a way, would it know? Would it care?

What's that you say? It's not the same?

Well, of course not exactly the same. I can be kind and patient with people whom I love. But I still love ice cream, don't I? It tastes so good. I've even been known to have a bowl of ice cream for supper. I admit I don't love all flavors equally. I'd even say some flavors I'm indifferent toward, but that's only because the flavors I do enjoy are readily available. I love butter pecan and mint chocolate chip. Yum!

And I love some of the people I know. I love talking with them, playing with them, just being around them. I seek them out to enjoy them – just like I do with ice cream.

But it is different. For my close friends, I have feelings I do not have for ice cream. I desire their good. I seek to serve them and please them. I am (at least sometimes) patient with them and kind to them. I don't do this with ice cream (God help me, I hope not!). Then, do I really love ice cream?

Well, let me check. Paul tells us what love is. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking..." That's quite enough. I obviously do none of these things with regard to ice cream. Since this is what love is, and I do not do this to ice cream, then it cannot be love that I do to ice cream!

I certainly enjoy ice cream. But if love means to be patient, kind, etc., then how can I talk about love for food, a movie, a song, an amusement park, the beach, or any number of other things I commonly say I love? These are all things I enjoy, which is well enough. And, there is nothing wrong with enjoying people, but have I limited my concept of loving people to merely enjoying them? Doesn't that mean I have distorted love into something entirely selfish and (if that weren't bad enough) entirely passive?

Have I become a casualty of selfishness and juvenile hyperbole? I imagine (pre)teen girls talking about some new item of clothing, "This dress is to die for!", or, "I just adore these shoes!"


I'm a silly man.

To enjoy those whom we love is most likely an indication of a healthy mind and healthy spirit. But to love that which we enjoy is to personify, or even idolize, that which has no life in it. And shouldn't our regard for those whose souls are eternal and who bear the image of God be so much greater than our regard for that which is temporary and soulless?

When you hear me say, "I love ice cream", then please remind me, "No, you don't."

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Madness of Anger

The etymology of mad points to an original meaning of "insane". But we use it commonly and more frequently to mean "angry". This is a correct usage. So, what does that tell us about anger?

Interestingly, anger comes from a Norse word meaning "sorrow". Might this also tell us something about anger?