Tag Archives: reality

Parlous Thoughts on Praise

everything praise

The most loving, holy, good, powerful Being is also the most humble. Does he crave praise?

He demands it. He deserves it. He wants it. Yet, it cannot be for the reasons humans enjoy it. God is not a man.

Ego issues do not beset God. This reason doesn’t fit the picture of the perfect Being who died in humiliation to save us.

God, as a rule, doesn’t force his power on us, and if he did, continual obedience would be inescapable. Look around, and in your own heart: such is not the case. At all.

It seems God is pleased with what turns out to be our feeble and fleeting attempts at praise. But why would it matter so much to him? Why would scripture be rife with the stuff? Why would God make a big point to command it of us?

Might it be that it’s good for us?

Might it be that it’s helpful for us, and gets us straightened out?

Might it be that by giving praise to Almighty Creator and Father God, we learn who he is, and who we are, in a way that is not possible otherwise?

It seems that we tune to the proper pitch with it. We obtain an appropriate sense of the world (Reality), ourselves, and others when praise takes place. (Even more so when praise is first and chief of our attitude and actions.) It seems like a powerful orientation takes place when we praise.

If we’re not careful, we might not be the centers of our own universe. Then what? (gasp) Reality could set in. Of course, that’s a good thing. An adjustment, but a good thing.

What thoughts do you have on praise or its purpose?

How does it help you?

1st Ethics Paper covers, so to speak, Nipple-gate

I am taking Christian Ethics with Dr. Miller at ETS

Our first assignment due this coming Monday was detailed thus: “Write a brief essay explaining his/her understanding of the relationship between the study of Ethics and ministry. ” 

I’ll include an excerpt of my paper, and how I kept my ethics class abreast of what has come to be known around here as “Nipple-gate”:

 

The entire episode (now termed “Nipplegate,” by some) reflects the ethical dilemma of my vocation. I have a role to play as a writer with a Christian worldview, and I am attempting to minister to Christians and non-Christians. Not everyone will be happy all of the time with what is authored and portrayed at my blog. This is an obvious impossibility. Predilections, doctrines, and convictions vary a great deal within my viewing audience. However, I have an undeniable ethical responsibility to my readership to well-reflect the standards of the God I love and serve. The questions become–what is truly suitable to allow at my site; and where and how must I draw the line that distinguishes personal preferences from God’s standards?

Thus far, I have come to a resolution to make all reasonable efforts to conduct the affairs of my site in excellence, with the hopes that in so doing, it will not make others stumble. (This has always been my philosophy, but in this case, it was botched as I let an aspect of the site remain out of exceptionally close oversight.) My overall method is not foolproof for avoiding every glitch, but it is a deliberate vision for my work.

A bit of perspective is in order too. Not just for the way I think about my work, and the way I offer it up to readers, but for promoting the worldview I believe–in, and of, itself. Yes, each decision we make counts in the big picture, but how much better to see the big picture first, and then zoom in from a bigger view, down, into ordinary life. God, perfect and holy, is our guiding Light. God’s laws and rules do not just give us a guide; they mirror the character of God himself. His perfection is the standard and starting point for our choices. Seen this way, we are better able to make wise and ethical decisions.

That being said, it is the overarching decisions that carry the most import. So when Jesus sums up all the law and the prophets into the Great Commandment2, this is not an annulment of the law, but an encompassing of it. Sometimes in and among the nitpicking decisions and details of our conduct choices– even during our attempts to be righteous–we miss the Great Command altogether. God is marginalized by the rules themselves, and neighbors are trampled more than anything. It seems if the Spirit of the command is upheld, much of the rest can sorted out more easily.

When we attempt to deal in microcosms of various everyday ethical situations, we must not miss the point of the greater good, as God defines it. God defines it in the essence of who he truly is. His nature and character are the basis for our decisions that we must work out in practical and contextual ways. As we bump up against perfection, with our solutions, we come up as less-than-perfect. We inevitably do not meet the standard. Thus, we prove our need for God’s grace and forgiveness, and the grace and forgiveness of those around us. It is failed ethics balanced by applied grace that sustains, and saves us from the ethical ideals we can never attain, but must continually aim for, as they are reflections of Reality itself.

It will be my approach to apply the Great Commandment as the ethical plan in my ministry. As a foundation for my will, thoughts, motives, and deeds, my hope is to strive to keep these things fully loyal to God, the author and finisher of my faith; and to keep his human creation honored. This loyalty will mean laying aside self, and selfish ambition, but not just for the greater good. In reality, I will be attempting to set my life toward the world as is truly is, with God as the source of good, and goodness. This way will also be a light, enacted with those to whom I minister, as it reveals my core beliefs, Christian worldview, and the truth of God as revealed in Scripture.

 



2 Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

 

 

 

 

 

 I’d love to hear your reflections on the topic of ethics in ministry, or any related topic I’ve discussed here. Thank you for reading.

-Lisa

The Riddle of Low Self-Esteem

images-2I’m going to start by saying the “answer” I give to solving this riddle, is quite real, but is not easy. I don’t claim there is but one answer, but it is surprising how transforming this surprising tact can be. This situation might be like telling a person what they need to stay fit. Once they have the information, it doesn’t mean it will happen. It doesn’t mean transformation to fitness will take place. It only means, if they truly put the information into practice regularly, will they see true change and results. I also offer that just as in fitness, results do not happen in a day, a week, or a month. It is more of a lifestyle. Change and “state of fitness” happens over a period of time–like a journey. The same is true for what I share with you.

I have often heard questions like, “How can I help my self-esteem and low self-worth?” What most people fail to realize is the truly universal problem a low view of self is. People may see others as confident, and assume they don’t have many doubts, or that others aren’t really acting out of a place of a compromised view of self. I venture to guess many bad decisions we make, and possibly most destructive behaviors come from an attitude, or some form of self-loathing. Yes, it’s a real problem, and a big one.

In most primary education schools, the big push is to raise self-esteem in hopes that a better views of self will generate more socially appropriate behavior, and ethically developed character. The teaching goes something like, “Kids, remember, this in your mind when you take a test. Cheating on a test will make me feel bad about my self.”

This reveals the anthropocentrism (human development-centered) of our efforts to both fix our problem of poor self-image, and to make ethical decisions based our our view of the world from a decidedly human perspective. In both cases we are helpless–stuck making very little ground. Or, the progress made is inconsistent, and can fluctuate based on our particular selfish motives, and short-sighted view at that moment of our ethical choice.

Strangely enough, we cannot start with thinking about ourselves to reclaim our value, or raise our poor self-esteem. For that, we must thrust our focus away from the defect, to the Standard, the Creator, and work from the Source, or the Top down. It might seem counter-intuitive to not think of yourself when you are attempting to better yourself, and that not entirely what I propose. I propose that we allow God to be the source of our esteem, and the foundation of our value.

The best way I have found to help me in this area–to increase my fitness–if you will, is to thoroughly enjoy God in worship. In him we live and move and have our being. This is no small idea. This is another way to frame Reality. (I believe it is the way the Bible offers it to us.)  It starts with God, and adds us into the picture as part of God’s supporting cast, rather than us as the star of the show. In reality, life is a Story about God, and his love and enjoyment of us. And then our response to him. Often, we live out of the premise that life, as author Donald Miller has said it seems, “…like a movie about me, and I can prove it because I’m in every scene.”

One of the greatest benefits to adjusting (or I should say re-adjusting) to a theo-centric worldview, is that the pressure for defining self, and for generating self-esteem is not our task any longer. The pressure is off. Our worth is in our God who loves us and made us, and gave all to save us, so we could be healed, and restored. So, we are brought back to rightly, and happily living, and loving him and others again. And we also have the hope of the restored world beyond this one, in which the problems, injustice, and turmoil we cannot fix will be made good and right. This is God’s promise, and it rests in his perfect nature–which must be all-good, and all-just. God is our hope of hopes, both now and in times to come. Though this truth is not completely fathomable, it is knowable because we can sketch the contour of a perfect God, who created us, and is, in fact, not a part of our world and lives, but indeed, the very center of Reality.

This topic makes a great small group discussion that can promote spiritual introspection and growth. Use this post to generate an interesting discussion by sending a few friends here to read this post, and then chat about it together. (Also pastry and coffee helps the experience. I’ve tested it out!) Please weigh-in with some of the thoughts you came up with while you were together. 

And if you can, please list a suggestion/s for worship. Thank you for reading.