Tag Archives: love

Tech = Baal (Re: Idol worship)

Personal Handy-phone System mobiles and modems...

Baal worship...new skool

Baal worship...old school

TECH = Baal. True or false?

We’d like to think idol worship isn’t something we practice. We don’t bow down to manmade gods like the foolish people of old we read of in the Bible, right?

Not so fast. (I think we do)

Probably, if we can’t live without something invented in the last 150 years, it qualifies as an idol–Yes. A full-tilt false god.

If we have a trust and loyalty to something we assume is a necessity, I think we should challenge this devotion.

Here’s the ugly truth. You probably worship your computer, your Apple product, your GPS, your phone, or your car. (Our association with technology is the modern equivalent of Old Testament style idolatry.)

A “long ago” 2007 British study of 1,256 people showed that 1/3 of those asked would pass on $2 million to keep their cell phone. 85 percent of those studied said that having a mobile phone was “vital to maintaining their quality of life.” The statistics are likely far higher now, almost 4 years later.

So, it’s simple. Tech = Baal.
Now, will you give up your false god?

At first we rebuff this allegation of idol worship. We’ll think of ways that the things we adore are for safety, common sense practicality, or we’ll come up with a rationalization for why our devotion isn’t really so bad.

The prevailing idea is that if the technology is available, there’s a kind of moral imperative to utilize it. “If it’s possible–it should been done.” Hence, things like octoplets, an artist being fitted with digital camera skull implant, and decades-long life support situations happen. (Can you think of another gross abuse of technology?)

What of ourselves is lost because of these unnatural loyalties?
Probably, a basic part of our humanity.
Sound overblown?
Let’s be serious: We become what we serve. We are enslaved to what we worship. What are the repercussions for serving technology?

Here’s a case in point:

It seems no one (especially under a certain age[?]) can image going without a mobile phone, or internet capabilities for a few hours, let alone a few days. Could you give up technology that’s been created within the last fifty years for a full week? Would it cramp your style, and make you grouchy? (Signs say yes…that’s old school tech…the 8 Ball.)

281 million youth have cell phones. I admit I have withdrawal symptoms without access to the internet for more than a day. I get twitchy. It’s uncomfortable. And no, I don’t like it.

So, I think we have to be honest and address this. What do you think about it? When have you worshiped technology? What do you think you do about it?

Is there a Christian spiritual practice that can help us?

Absolutely. It’s called fasting. Prayer, fasting, and giving to the poor are the pinnacle of Kingdom of God living, according to Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Without these things, we are not living as a follower of Christ as he laid it out.

A Tech Fast should be part of your spiritual practice, because it will get your attention better than most things will. This will create growth and maturity.

Fasting challenges our loyalties.
(Read that again)
When we desire the thing we fast from, it creates a space to concentrate and reflect. It re-proritizes our habits, calls them into question, and helps us sift through the what we we should hold dear versus what should be leashed and subdued. When the pang to digitally connect, shout out our thoughts to the masses, or get instant information strikes, we can train our hearts as we place prayer and worship in that void that feels like need. The point isn’t to prove our righteousness by going without, but rather to create time and space for heightened refocus and Christian spiritual practice. God has us engage in fasting for our benefit, not his. It’s a training method…a.k.a. a disciplineIt’s a command to fast. (Sorry to break this to you.)

BUT GOOD NEWS: The effect is refreshment, and quite likely a more informed outlook on our lives.

Will you take the JANUARY TECH CHALLENGE with me? Kick the new year off on a new foot. Between now and the end of January, fast 3 times from technology. Start off with a few hours, or half of a day (if you’re ready for THAT-gulp), and try to build up to 2-5 days by the end.

Feedback appreciated on this. Thanks.

God Bless you.
Lisa

Can a Person Absolve your Sins? Drum roll please…

A penitent confessing his sins in the former L...

Image via Wikipedia (confessing to another)

About 500 years ago there was this spat. At the time, having your sins forgiven was a sort of pay as you go thing. It was a bit like a toll road.

The toll booth worker was the Priest. If you bought “indulgences” the Priest could better settle up your debt with God.

Handy little business model, especially when folks hope to avoid damnation, right?

This became rather upsetting. So these Reformer types started protesting. It was not so much to split from the Church, but to transform it–at first.

Of course, men can get pretty riled up about their new fantastic ideas (ever seen that?), and before anyone realized it, a huge split…others might say a heresy or rebellion… was cemented into place in history–forever changing the landscape of Christianity.

Spiritually speaking, some good was gained (and Catholics adjusted to these grievances by the 1960s with Vatican II), but as more and more people are beginning to realizing now, some very good and important things were lost because of going this route.

So, what is the real purpose of a priest, or priest-like figure? Is it necessary? Can absolution of sin come from a man in a white collar? What about a teenager in a crew neck? Or a lady with a scarf?

Drum roll, please…..

Oh!  Wait! Before, you start gathering firewood and a sturdy stake for my conflagration, please hear me out the entire way. (Then have at it; I’d like to hear from you.)

The I Timothy 2:5 “one mediator” verse is often used to underscore that Christ alone can forgive sins and be our mediator to God. It’s true. This was the mission of the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth.

But Protestants have, by the over-reactive trailblazing of the Reformers, missed quite a bit of the spiritual benefits of what Jesus’ brother James talks about:

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

What is James saying…that confession and other believers’ prayers are powerful and effective against sin? Yes.

GASP.
Okay, not a total gasp. But how does this play out? You may wonder…

This confessing to each other is not the same as be able to actually take Jesus’ place (obviously). James shows us that confession to each other works. It does something important. God wants it to be done this way.

It absolves us (because God absolves us). So, it is true that we personally experience the relief of our guilt being removed. We experience, in real terms, the agency of God’s forgiveness of our guilt. Someone is there beside us, standing in the gap for us, so we can be reconciled more thoroughly, more completely than we can experience it otherwise. It is God’s work; and we are agents of his ministry.

These confessors  to whom we confess become a flesh and blood representation of God’s love that promotes gracious forgiveness and offers wholeness. It offers us freedom from guilt (felt guilt, and feeling or thinking as if Christ‘s work is not complete). It puts flesh on our spiritual justification.

It seems we can’t handle our sin on our own too well, at all.

We are sinful, and it’s not a private matter.

Just confessing to God, and keeping our mistakes and sin to ourselves, is not the recommendation and requirement of Christ’s disciples.

The Community of God (i.e. the Church; our brothers and sisters in the Lord) plays a vital role in our spiritual growth and growth in grace. Confession ushers in that felt healing of the sin and guilt which weigh us down, and disables us.

Our sin is a rejection of community (aka The Bride of Christ) and an act of selfishness.

Our sin is a destructive thing. Socially and spiritually destructive.

Confession and absolution, (the kind you might say/declare out loud to another person) restore us at a core level. To ourselves, to God, and to community (aka The Bride of Christ).

In this way, we act not as God, but on God’s behalf. We minister.

It is simply true that he forgives us. We concur and offer social restoration, and remind the confessing one of God’s gracious work and love for us.

We minister to each other, on equal footing, and we may offer God’s grace to a brother or sister who cannot yet properly apprehend it. We can accept their confession and offer forgiveness, so we speak the Truth of God’s Kingdom into their life. We help set the captives free. (Not because God can’t do it without us, but because he wishes to use us this way.)

YES. We may say, “You have confessed, and you are forgiven. God absolves you. I, too, forgive you. Go in peace, and rest in his love.”

Please offer this to others. Ask for it on your behalf, too.

Will you comment on this topic, please? Your input is vital on this one. Thank you.

What is a Living God? (part 2: 8 Qualities)

How easy it is to forget that there is (exists) a Living God. Maybe this is so because we are surrounded by dead ones. Since the things we need and “serve” are not consistently life-giving, I think we lump everything to together and get along with that sort of paradigm. A “less-than Living” take on life.

The originator, Creator God, is never-ending, and a not relegated to some notion of goodness, or idea we get to keep in the back of our minds.

Here are 8 attributes to this Living God:

1. A Living God embodies Love not Apathy (the opposite of love).

2. A Living God makes a worshiper like him/her (God transcends gender).

It should be noted that dead gods, in their way, do the same thing. Nevertheless, a Living God refines and purifies, and dead gods foster forms of decay/destruction, and of course selfishness–which cannot lead to life. (Examples: the (dead) god of career, of drugs, of overeating, of anger, of popularity, and so on.)

3. A Living God has a personality (is a being), and relates to others (has the true quality for connecting in relationship) as a primary undertaking and desire.

4. A Living God is interactive in human history, and perpetually involved in common life with regards to people, events, and circumstances.

5. A Living God is wise and forbearing.

6. A Living God is everywhere, unconquered, and vigorous (spirited).

7. A Living God may display displeasure or delight.

8. A Living God has no pride, (because pride is delusional and also leads to deadened life).

In light of this, what is your response to God?

I’m asking for you to take a minute, and comment on your response, one (or more) of these 8 mentioned traits, or bring up something I didn’t mentioned.

Thank you very much.

MLK: Love Your Enemies

 

Pastor, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

 

 

The following is an excerpt of the last portion of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech entitled,

Loving Your Enemies
November 17 1957

…And our civilization must discover that. Individuals must discover that as they deal with other individuals. There is a little tree planted on a little hill and on that tree hangs the most influential character that ever came in this world. But never feel that that tree is a meaningless drama that took place on the stages of history. Oh no, it is a telescope through which we look out into the long vista of eternity, and see the love of God breaking forth into time. It is an eternal reminder to a power-drunk generation that love is the only way. It is an eternal reminder to a generation depending on nuclear and atomic energy, a generation depending on physical violence, that love is the only creative, redemptive, transforming power in the universe.

So this morning, as I look into your eyes, and into the eyes of all of my brothers in Alabama and all over America and over the world, I say to you, “I love you. I would rather die than hate you.” And I’m foolish enough to believe that through the power of this love somewhere, men of the most recalcitrant bent will be transformed. And then we will be in God’s kingdom. We will be able to matriculate into the university
of eternal life because we had the power to love our enemies, to bless those persons that cursed us, to even decide to be good to those persons who hated us, and we even prayed for those persons who despitefully used us.

Oh God, help us in our lives and in all of our attitudes, to work out this controlling force of love, this controlling power that can solve every problem that we confront in all areas. Oh, we talk about politics; we talk about the problems facing our atomic civilization. Grant that all men will come together and discover that as we solve the crisis and solve these problems—the international problems, the problems of atomic energy, the problems of nuclear energy, and yes, even the race problem—let us join together in a great fellowship of love and bow down at the feet of Jesus. Give us this strong determination. In the name and spirit of this Christ, we pray. Amen.

[full speech here.]

Please leave your comments. Thank you.

Innocence and Purity

 

My diagram for a "System" of Purity

 

Our freedom allows us to make choices that determine our purity and our innocence. So, freedom always includes responsibility, and purity can be regained. It is innocence that is untried.

In the cases were guilt may plague us, we may seek healing in the spiritual discipline of life confession, and then find it our acceptance of love and forgiveness. This happens best in Community, with the support of siblings in Christ.

This is also an act of worship.

Please share you thoughts on this, or a related theme.

Or you may tackle one of the following. Thanks.

• What have been your influencers with regards to purity?

• How has the media impacted your view of purity?

• What is the biggest struggle regarding your faith and your purity?

Resource used: Pages 126-8. Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us (Adele Ahlberg Calhoun -IVP Books ©2005)
For further reading: “Real Sex” -Lauren Winner

Prayer: Benediction

photo/link by Rolf Potts. (St. Petersburg, Russia Midnight sunset near Nevskii Prospect)

(I’ll be a professorial substitute on Thursday, and I’m really looking forward to it. Below is the prayer from Dr. Laurie Mellinger’s lesson plan for that night. It’s the Benediction Prayer.)

I post it today for your personal reflection. Sometimes we don’t make the time to collect ourselves this way. Here’s a our chance today. Maybe it’s also something you’d like to share with someone else.

Let us receive Your words

and treasure up Your commandments within us;

Make our ears attentive to wisdom

and incline our hearts to understanding;

yes, may we call out for insight

and raise our voices for understanding.

Let us seek it like silver

and search for it as for hidden treasures,

that we may understand the fear of the Lord

and find the knowledge of God.

For You, Lord, give wisdom;

from Your mouth come knowledge and understanding.

(Share your comments and reflections)

Traveling Light with Crazy Love

Francis Chan

We don’t just have upon us a crisis of faith, but also a crisis of faithfulness.

We’ve been reviewing Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love. I encourage everyone to read it. It’ll do you good. Also, it makes an interesting and thought-provoking small group study, or Sunday School class.

"Crazy Love" by Francis Chan

This last lesson was on Risk and Faith. Chan asked everyone to do something in their regular life that requires faith. He asked that we abandon the typical planning we do to minimize our risk. We should do something others could think of as silly, and allow ourselves to live and act in a more vulnerable way. We shouldn’t rely in our stuff to satisfy us. We should live bigger lives.

Along the same lines, Rolf Potts leads this sort of recommended simpler type of lifestyle. He calls it vagabonding. (I found out about Rolf through the Tim Ferriss site. Thank you, Tim.)For Potts, a travel writer, his style is not just a method of travel, but a way of life. It’s unlike the American way of life, because it does not trust in stuff.

I’ve wondered if it’s the case that in America we seem to act like “in god we trust” refers to the money itself, or the things we can buy with it.

We do a lot to feel safe. We buy insurance to minimize various kind of threats. We buy things we feel sure will help us, or at least soothe us. What is the lasting consequence of this approach? A false sense of control? Feathering our pillow of self-sufficiency? Other things…

Rolf Potts takes the theme of traveling light to a whole new level, as he now begins his No Baggage Challenge: Traveling to 12 countries in 6 weeks—With NO baggage (not even a man purse/satchel). [His blog details his travels, and his packing techniques are also quite useful.]

The journey of faith is the same way. When we seek out the comfortable, and we travel heavy, by preparing (mentally or physically) for every potential event, challenge, or threat–something important gets left behind. Perspective for one thing. But what else?

In the life of faith, “taking nothing for the journey” means that one must trust in God’s provision (and his way of providing), trust others, and build relationships. It’s not about what we’ve packed (prepared) for, it’s about the trip itself. It’s about being brave, and opening up to others, and the experience of not being weighted down (both literally and figuratively) by our presuppositions: What we think the trip should look like, and feel like.

You don’t like bumps, you say? Sorry, it’s bumpy. You just might have been insulating yourself. For some perspective… Think: padded cell.

The spiritual journey (journey of faith) is undertaken so optimal preparedness is removed as an option: It’s a method of living, not to be comfortable, but to survive, live, and eventually thrive, where you are, as you are. You come as you are. When the going gets tough–and it will–you stay. [The only thing you “plan on” is love and loyalty.] You work it out. You don’t let yourself have but that choice. You live has though you don’t have a chance/option to flee–like we are too often ready to do. We trust others, and God with abandon, despite the risks, or pain that may/will come.

Why? Because it is the surest way to growth, more rewarding experiences, and a sense of being in a Story bigger than yourself and your self interests. In spending ourselves, we gain our lives.

When we take a risk to help or love (without examining the our potential losses, and assessing all the personal risks) we live by and in faith, not by sight.

[Now, realize, I’m not talking about a life of folly, or veritable reckless behavior. I’m talking about being okay with discomfort, and sacrificing the known and manageable, for something greater at stake.]

What could that look like for you?
Please-Leave your ideas.

Maybe giving away the extra car to someone who needs it? Opening up your home for someone else to live in? Inviting a family to your home for supper once a week? Using a paycheck to buy someone groceries?

What kind of faith will you live by?

In this sense, a little pain goes a long way. Soon, our sights move away from ourselves in pursing selfless faithfulness.

AND-How light can you travel? (on vacation, etc.)

Comments, thoughts, and questions welcome.