Saturday, July 31, 2010

CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF CHRIST

“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…” (Romans 8:29)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Musing - Again

The Weekly Musing two weeks ago was about, uh hem, musing. Imagine that, a musing about musing! It was not my intention to do so, but I came across a commentary this past week that prompted me to continue with that thought. I’m rarely, if ever, at a loss for words so to use someone else’s remarks is not the norm for me. But sometimes someone’s illustration of a truth cannot be improved upon, so read on.


The following commentary, presented in its entirety, was delivered by Prison Fellowship Ministries President Mark Early. It is a perfect illustration of the consequences of amusement as opposed to musing on God and His Word.

“If I asked you what your teenage children are doing right now, you might not know. But the New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation have a pretty good idea. According to a recent Kaiser study, if your teenager is awake and isn’t in school, he or she is staring at a screen a smart-phone, a computer, or watching television. The authors claimed to have been “shocked” by the results. Kaiser’s researchers interviewed more than 2,000 kids between the ages of eight and eighteen. They found that, on average, the participants in the study spent seven and one-half hours a day using these devices! What’s more, that figure understates the amount of time American kids devote to consuming media and other related activities. For instance, it does not include time spent actually talking on these smart-phones or sending and receiving messages. That adds another one and a half hours to the total. When you add time spent doing several media-related things at once, that is multi-tasking, American kids spend the equivalent of eleven hours a day tethered to an electronic device.

The authors were “stunned” because they believed that media consumption among kids had already maxed out when they last measured it in 2005. What didn’t take into account, either then or now, is what drives the heavy usage: dread of being bored. As one 14-year-old told the Times, “I feel like my days would be boring without” my smart phone. It’s not only him. As New Testament scholar Ben Witherington recently wrote, smart-phones “are seen as the cure for boredom.”

This “boredom” is “in most cases...the state of mind of those who lack imagination and therefore require all kinds of stimuli to prevent them from losing interest in things, and even in life.” That’s why people, adults as well as kids, are “constantly fiddling with their cell phone.” The alternative to all this fiddling is being alone with your own thoughts, which terrifies people used to the constant stimulation provided by our media-saturated culture. Happily, parents can help their kids to avoid this trap. The Kaiser study found that parents can make rules limiting this kind of mindless media consumption and that their children will follow them. It won’t be easy but, then again, swimming against the cultural tide never is.

Speaking of swimming against the tide, even more important than rules and limits is teaching our children that we don’t need constant stimulation. On the contrary, being quiet and still is an essential part of the Christian life. We are told “be still” so that we may learn who God is. God spoke to Elijah in a still small voice. Neuroscientists tell us that many, if not most, of our most creative and productive moments come when we step back from all the stimulation and let our minds be free. In other words, what many people call “boredom” is good for us in ways that the constantly-stimulated can’t begin to imagine. We’re not talking about letting our minds wander just anywhere. What we’re told to do is invest our life in a relationship with Christ; in His word, in prayer, and in meditation. Unplugging and stepping back for some time alone with God is yet another reason for us to unplug our kids and ourselves and risk being bored, for all the right reasons.”

‘Nuff said. Soli Deo Gloria!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

TO HONOR OR NOT TO HONOR? IT REALLY ISN'T A QUESTION AT ALL.

"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.” (Ex 20:12, The Fifth Commandment)


Last week I invited you to submit questions to The Weekly Musing. One reader, making reference to my Father’s Day musing (see archives) asked, “How do you honor a mother or father who is in prison, a substance abuser, or was abusive? It seems a very difficult commandment to obey under those circumstances.” Unfortunately, God did not give us grounds not to honor them if they are/were not good parents. We are plainly expected to do it, period. I do not mean to sound harsh or unsympathetic. I truly empathize and certainly agree that it can be an extremely difficult commandment to obey, even under circumstances not as extreme as those mentioned.

So how do we obey the Fifth Commandment when the person we are to honor is, from most anyone’s perspective, unworthy of such? Permit me some suggestions that might help. First of all, remember that no one is perfect. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). No, that is not an excuse for the terrible wrongs that may have been inflicted on you by a parent. But each of us must bear in mind that we, also, are one of the “all” who have sinned. When we have been wronged or injured, we oftentimes fail to acknowledge that we have also wronged or injured others in various ways. 1 John 1:8 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” The greatest among us can fall to sin. King David, the only person of whom God said was a man after His own heart committed adultery, which led to murder, which resulted in numerous negative consequences including the loss of one child and the rebellion of another. My point is it is easier to bestow honor when we recognize that we, ourselves, are just as unworthy of honor.

Secondly, be willing to forgive. Unforgiveness only hurts you and, most importantly, interferes with your relationship with God. Jesus said, “…if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matthew 6:15). It is impossible to honor someone whom you cannot even bring yourself to respect because of some past sin(s) without first forgiving them. Easier said than done, I know. But do not permit someone else’s sin(s) to get in the way of your own relationship with the Father.

Thirdly, ask the Father to help you in this area. 1 John 2:1 states, “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” This is not only a promise to the one who may have sinned against you, but for you as well. It is a promise you can claim. You can call upon the Lord Jesus Christ, your Advocate, for the perfect example of forgiveness and honor.

Although the Scriptures are replete with examples of what I have written above, I want to conclude with an illustration from the realm of American politics. A little unusual for this particular subject, but I believe might help. Our last two Presidents, George W. Bush and Barak Obama, are arguably the two most polarizing presidents our nation has ever had. As far as public opinion goes, there is no middle of the road with these guys. People either love them or hate them; no in between. Now bear with me for a minute. In Romans 13 the Apostle Paul made it clear that we are to be in subjection to the governing authorities. Jesus said the same thing on several occasions. Consequently, if you hate Obama and everything he does and stands for, how are you supposed to honor him? Well, as the great theologians at the Nike shoe company say, “Just do it!” We are not commanded to honor what they do, or even like it. But we are to honor the position in which our sovereign God has placed them. The same principle applies to honoring the un-honorable mother or father.

In conclusion, there is a big difference between the words “honor” and “obey.” Obedience has to do with action. We are not commanded to obey any earthly authority, be it parent or President, that would have us compromise our faith, integrity, conscience, or the Scriptures (see Acts 4:13-20). But honor, on the other hand, has to do with attitude. Regardless of their actions, our attitudes toward our parents should be honorable, even if, through no fault of our own, we have no contact with them.

There is no possible way that I can do justice to such a deep and relevant topic in this brief blog. I do, however, pray that I’ve primed the pump and given you much about which to muse this week. I will leave you with this final thought… The Apostle Paul referred to the Fifth Commandment as the “first commandment with a promise” (Ephesians 6:2). That promise is for you. Honor your mother and father in the Lord and reap the benefits.

And, as always, Soli Deo Gloria!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

What is Musing Anyway?

"I will meditate on all your work and muse on your deeds.” (Psalm 77:12)


I first introduced The Weekly Musing to you via this blog site eleven weeks ago. It occurred to me this week that I have not actually talked about the concept of “musing,” which is the whole purpose of this blog. To muse is not to meditate, at least in the way contemporary thought defines meditation. Biblical meditation, or musing, involves filling your mind with good things which grow, edify, and spur your mind to greater thought and understanding. Webster defines musing as becoming "absorbed in thought; especially: to turn something over in the mind meditatively and often inconclusively.” Musing on the right things can even stir your imagination.

What do you muse about during your idle moments? Does something in particular come to mind as you wait at an intersection for the light to change or a railroad crossing for the train to pass? What about those moments sitting in your car as the engine warms up in the morning, at your desk as the computer boots up, or after being placed on “eternal hold” during a phone call; where are your thoughts? In other words, what do you think about when you don’t have anything to think about? Are your musings positive or negative, productive or useless? Or, perhaps your mind simply slips into a thoughtless void that awakens only after some minor stimulation such as the light turning green.

The answers to these questions reveal a lot about your priorities and what is important to you. When not purposefully directed to some particular thought or task, our minds will usually turn to a kind of “default” setting that typically reflects what is significant to us or is taking precedence in our life at that particular time. But the Apostle Paul said, “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8) Therefore, if what you think about during your idle moments does not fall into one of those categories, you are not being a good steward of the precious time God has given you.

When all the minutes spent thinking about useless things during those brief but frequent interludes that naturally occur during the course of a usual day are tallied, they add up to a lot of wasted time that could have been utilized in a much more productive way. For instance, the next time you find yourself sitting in your car at an intersection, instead of staring unconsciously at the red light, look beyond to the sunny blue sky and meditate on God’s beautiful creation. As your computer boots up at your desk each morning, consider offering thanks for your job or pray for your boss and co-workers. When the utility company leaves you on hold, instead of impatiently tapping your fingers on the table while thinking not-so-nice thoughts about the person who is not being very nice to you, work on memorizing a verse of Scripture or pray for the President or a soldier. If you can’t think of anything else, heed the words of the Psalmist and muse on God's awsome works and deeds (Psalm 77:12). There is never a shortage of things for which we can praise God.

So place a reminder on the dashboard of your vehicle, by your telephone, at your workstation, or wherever you spend your day to remind you to cherish every moment God has given you by musing about things pleasing to our Lord.

Now, I don’t know about you, but the more I muse upon the things of God the more understanding He gives me. But likewise, the more I glean, the more questions I have. So as you practice musing, you will likely find yourself asking new questions about God and His ways. I would like to open up this blog to discussion and invite you to ask questions related to the Lord and His Word. Perhaps there is a doctrinal matter with which you have been struggling or a difficult passage of Scripture you simply do not understand or cannot get a handle on. I have not “arrived” by any means, and I certainly do not know all the answers. But I know where and how to find most of them. I would very much welcome sincere, mature, and non-critical discussion on any matter related to true faith and God’s Word. If you have something to ask or discuss, you can do so in the comment field at the bottom, or by email to theweeklymusing@gmail.com. Either way I promise your questions and remarks will be handled anonymously if you desire.

Happy Musing and Soli Deo Gloria!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

In God We Still Trust


“I have set before you life and prosperity, and death and adversity…So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.” Deuteronomy 30:15-20



For years there have been disputes over who of our founding fathers were Christians, Deists, or even had any faith at all. Although there is much I would like to say on that subject, I will not contribute to the debate at this particular time. But I will, unapologetically, state this fact; our founding fathers were determined to build a nation that was governed by moral principles derived from God’s Word. This is plainly evidenced in everything from the Declaration of Independence to the United States Constitution to the coins we carry in our pockets. It is because of that unwavering commitment that the United States of America has benefited from God’s blessings for many generations. But a dark force has been at work, equally as determined to turn us away from the God who has so richly blessed us. The right to pray has long since been stolen from our children in school. It is socially and politically acceptable to worship Allah, but not God’s Christ. It has been deemed appropriate for a student to wear a t-shirt depicting a Mexican flag at school, but the t-shirt displaying an American flag warrants expulsion. It goes on and on, and that’s not even mentioning the list of moral dilemmas facing our nation. Sadly, it seems as if a cloud of complacency has covered us and there is no outcry from God’s people.

Just before entering the Promised Land Moses stood before the nation of Israel and informed the people that by choosing to follow God, and only God, they would enjoy prosperity in their new land. Unfortunately, they stubbornly decided not to honor His commands and have faced centuries of war, internal strife, and political unrest as a consequence.

There came a time when, although persons were called to repent and turn to God as individuals, the nation of Israel went too far to receive the special blessings God had conditionally promised it (Isaiah 6:8-13). Have we, as a nation, come that far? Earnestly pray that we have not. Pray for our nation, her leaders and the President. Finally, “choose life and prosperity” by thanking God the Father, who is the author and grantor of the many freedoms we still enjoy in America today.

Happy Independence Day and, as always, Soli Deo Gloria!