Saturday, December 4, 2010

Avoiding Christ

As you may have guessed from the change in picture, this site will feature a broader range of rambling than heretofore. As the deer are trekking through the wilderness outside our house, so you may find this broader blogging approach wandering through some subverted places in my thoughts. Today is one of those slightly cynical times.

Whatever our beliefs, there are practical issues to life that we all encounter. One of them, of course, is Christmas, although depending on our beliefs we encounter it in different ways. Tom Watterson in this Calvin and Hobbes cartoon has found a way of drawing commercialism and Christmas together. Is this a middle ground?

Not sure if I have crossed the copyright line in reproducing this cartoon, but I am giving Watterson the credit—oops, am I beginning to sound like Calvin? In fact, the Christmas buying frenzy is a back handed compliment to Christ; It wouldn’t happen if not for Him! If He can inspire this credit card based happiness every year, then He can do anything He claims!

Of course, we may deny that our Christmas has any thing to do with religion, just as many of us think the beauty of our earth has nothing to do with God! In fact, to be sure we deChristolize Christmas, we should stop giving gifts, for they represent the gift of Himself to us. Let’s mark it with a frenzy of getting instead!

We have already placed the delete symbol over Christ in Xmas, so why not delete the contents of all those pretty boxes under the tree? It would signify the emptiness of life without an enduring faith in God. And I think “Winter Festival” is a much better name, the dark and cold of the season a reminder of the formless earth and meaningless existence without Him.

Happy Chri Adve Red and Green Season.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Today's Guarantee Our Future Hope

I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a sceptre will rise out of Israel. Numbers 24:17.

Most of us remember Balaam as the prophet whose donkey made more sense than he did! So we don’t expect today’s insight to come from him. Not only was he mercenarily inclined, he wasn’t a true prophet, not even an Israelite. And as a foreign seer, he was the least likely to receive this revelation from God.

Which leads me to two thoughts.

First, God may speak to us from the most unlikely places, which means that we may miss His voice if we are only listening in all the “right” places. I’ve noticed that sometimes non-believers have a more practical insight into the truth of things that those whose head is in the spiritual clouds. It was the environmental movement that reminded Christians we are stewards of the earth.

Second, the fervour for the return of Christ that gripped the church of my youth has all but evaporated. Oh, we still believe it all right, but the practical crises of life and the earth take precedence over theory of future things. How does knowing Christ will return help Haitians who are destitute and dying of cholera?

The pain of the moment can obscure the anticipation of God concluding His plans for our planet. Yet, if there is no hope for God to put this world right in the end, what hope is there now? The guarantee of His ability to aid us in the present is in the certainty that His supremacy assures earth’s future hope.

How does this stack up for you?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Why Live in the Dark?

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2

Few of us, particularly city dwellers, have experienced complete darkness. Streetlights constantly light our home at night, and the iridescent light reflecting off fresh snow gives the darkness a warm glow. In younger years, I dabbled in photography and needed a dark room—completely dark—for some procedures. But to be in complete darkness not of our own making can be frightening.

However, the lack of sight, from darkness or blindness, is less frightening than the spiritual darkness of guilt, and the closer we approach God, the more His penetrating light reveals our sinfulness. Martin Luther lived much of his life aware of his sin and in terror of God. He knew what it meant to live in the land of the shadow of death.

That same terror binds people in religions or beliefs that seek to balance or erase guilt by appeasing an angry God. They live in the perpetual darkness of fear of death because they have no assurance that God will accept them. Age has the effect of increasing fear of death, as sins of the past gain notoriety and haunt us.

That great light has dawned on all who fear God’s wrath. Instead of a dark, fearful existence, I can live daily in the light of God’s grace. It is the assurance of God’s forgiveness, guaranteed by Christ’s sacrifice for my sin that gives life hope and meaning.  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” Psalm 23:4.

Why would anyone want to live without that light?