Monday, February 21, 2011

Repost: "Doctrinal Boot Camp"

Like Charles Colson writes, as Christians we are in the Lord's service now, and just like the Marines we don't get to tell our "drill instructor" (God) how to handle his "soldiers."

Jolted back to remembrance

***CAUTION: This has some references to the movie Unknown, starring Liam Neeson. If you haven't seen that yet and plan to do so, don't read this as it reveals some key plot elements. For the rest of you, I rehash key points in the story line to refresh your memory and to set up the ultimate purpose of what I'm writing.***

In this movie, Liam Neeson stars as Martin Harris, a man on vacation with his wife in Berlin. At the hotel, he realizes one of their bags is missing, so he takes a cab back to find it. The cab crashes through a guard rail and into a body of water. Martin ends up in a coma for a few days. As soon as he's able he frantically tries to find his wife, as he's quite obviously concerned about her. But soon his identity is questioned. He keeps telling his doubters he's Martin Harris, on vacation in Berlin with his wife. When he finally finds his wife, even she says she doesn't know him. Then, it gets worse as people threaten his life. He manages to narrowly escape with the help of the woman who was driving the cab that crashed, and who had rescued him from the accident. He is then kidnapped by somebody whom he remembers as a colleague, but who is actually the man who helped train him to be a professional assassin, along with a female accomplice (his "wife"). The real reason they are in Berlin is because they are on a mission to kill somebody.

It seems the injury from the cab accident led him to be confused about who he really was, and because he was seen as a detriment to the mission, he needed to be killed. Just in time, he remembers his skills as an assassin and manages to kill another trained assassin who was trying to kill him (and who took his place as the pretend husband when Martin forgot his true identity).

In many ways, some (perhaps a lot) of Christians are like Martin Harris. Most of us, at some point or another after we accept Christ into our lives, will falter. We start off full of joy and hope and love and reverence for God, but something pushes us over the edge (whether a big jolt or a series of smaller ones), and we start believing we are what certain people tell us we are, rather than what God has made us for. (Of course, the analogy breaks down in that Liam Neeson's character excelled at being an assassin, while we have the potential for abounding excellence in Christ). We need to be reminded regularly of our true identity.

After watching the movie, my wife and I discussed whether we as viewers, and whether Liam Neeson's character, could have known before the big "reveal" who he really was. We remembered that there were several small hints along the way that, if one really paid attention, would show that the movie's ending made sense. Likewise, though some of us believers in Christ might have strayed from God and forgotten who we really are in Him, there are several "hints" that, if we pay attention, we'll remember our true identity. Those hints can be found in such things as the Bible, in viewing the awe and beauty of the world and universe around us, in knowing about people whose lives have been saturated with Christ, and in our own quiet times with the Lord. May we whom Christ calls His own remember who we really are before our chance to impact the world for His glory and mankind's benefit is forever gone.

Big troubles start small

A small leak will sink a great ship. A small spark will kindle a great fire. A little allowed sin will ruin an immortal soul. - JC Ryle

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Abhor/hold fast

Romans 12:9 tells us we need to abhor evil. That's a pretty strong word. So often, my level of abhorrence depends on how much something offends me personally. Pretty much the same later on in the verse, in the opposite sense, for how much I hold fast to what I consider to be good.

Wait, now. Who determines what's good and what's evil? It's easy to say from the standpoint of the Bible that God determines what is good and what is evil, but I know there are times when I want to like things God doesn't like, and vice-versa. Also, can't I sort of like, or sort of hate, certain things, and really like/really abhor others? This verse doesn't seem to break it down like that. "Abhor... hold fast...." Seems pretty clear cut; no shades of meaning there.

Abhor, hold fast. Those terms are pretty intense. More than just agreeing mentally with what God says about good and evil. Some real passion is required. Psalm 97:10 tells those who love the Lord to hate evil. I think that's the key. And the more we love the Lord and walk with Him, the more we'll abhor or hold fast to the things he considers to be evil or good. And, the opposite is likely also true: The more we hate or distance ourselves from God, the more we'll love what He hates & hate what He loves.

I long to be on the "same page" as God when it comes to what pleases or upsets Him, since doing will bring honor to Him and true peace to me (and, ultimately, to those around me). I'm working on spending more time seeking His heart in prayer and learning His word so I'll know better how to walk in step with Him. I pray each of you can draw closer to Him day by day as well so that peace will also be yours.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Proclaim God's Glory

Steve Green's worshipful & powerful performance of "Proclaim the Glory of the Lord." I came across this song quite a few years back, and it remains one of those special ones to me. May it bless and encourage each of us to proclaim His glory.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I am a ...., just because it's what I love to do

Recently, my wife and I were watching the "Local Kids' TV" episode of the PBS series, Pioneers of Television. As we viewed the Romper Room segment, her eyes started to tear up. She explained that over her several years of teaching in day care, many of the phrases and methods she had seen on children's television have become a part of her teaching style. She loves working with children, and it shows in her passion when she talks about it.

I, too, love what I do (though in my case, it's my avocation). I'm a writer. Not a paid writer. The word "writer" isn't in my official title. In fact, I've only had a few (minor) pieces published. But I'm no less a writer than my wife is a teacher. She's probably much better at what she does, but more and more, the writing bug has invaded my system, so I can't describe myself without using the term "writer." Whenever I watch something on TV, or see something around me, or have a conversation, my mind is asking, "How can use that to write something that will both entertain and bless others?" Many nights in recent weeks I've lain awake thinking of something to write, or how to improve something I'm already writing.

If your title (or titles; after all, we also have our job titles, relationship titles--mom, dad, husband, wife, etc.) were only based upon what really thrills you, drives you, and gives you that warm fuzzy feeling, and not just based upon official titles, what would you call yourself? Does that line up with what God says about you (you'll know how much so depending on whether you have peace in your heart)? Perhaps once we truly believe we are such and such because it's deeply ingrained in our being, and not just because it's our official title, others will think of us in those terms as well.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

All cultures are NOT equally valid

Fourteen-year-old rape victim from Bangladesh accused of adultery under Shariah law (she was also flogged severely). Of course, you can only guess how much value her testimony held under that system. May she receive the justice she didn't get in life.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

It's the end that matters

(Slightly updated since I posted it recently).
Several months back, my wife, my stepson, and I went to the Holocaust Museum in Dallas. The contrast between the Nazis and their victims inspired these thoughts, which I am only now putting into print. I write this as a metaphor in part: I don't mean to imply that this is a complete picture of both sides, but I hope it helps to show the disparity between good and evil.

He looks so attractive, this Hitler youth. Blond hair, shiny and rich; rosy Eastern European features. Well- fitting clothes cover a body toned by many hours of exercise. The Nazi leadership has put a lot of work into grooming this young man as part of what they intend to become a super race. They make sure he marries the epitome of Aryan female beauty, so their offspring will continue the line. He is joining with them as their hope of Germany's future--the world's future. He will help them in their quest to attain ever more land, power, riches. After all, he's been told through various media that they deserve it, and so he does whatever's necessary to help them take it from those people they consider to be less than human. Along the way he is highly honored by his peers for helping find hiding places of Jews, and in the process punching, kicking, and even shooting them before turning them over to be taken to camps for work, for oppression, for death. Later, he'll work in one of those camps, choosing who is productive or non-productive, and the latter of the still surviving are sent to die. Those remaining are permitted to live as long as they are able to help the Nazi cause. He joins in the drunken reverie as the pro-Nazis band together toward the goal of "freeing" the world of these "animals." In the end, the dynasty-to-be falls, and he is held in perpetual shame by people of honor.

She looks so decrepit. Her hair (if it hasn't fallen out due to illness or malnutrition) is infested with lice. Sores and dirt, sunken cheeks & sallow skin mask her once attractive & happy Polish face. She wears a moth-eaten, foul-smelling outfit (if one can call it that), which hangs loosely from skin-covered bones. The Nazis have put a lot of work into destroying her people. After all, in Hitler's estimation she has been partly responsible for taking away from Germany's destiny. But despite the oppression, she can't give enough of herself to help her beloved fellow Jews. If she can put another family into her already crowded home (which might only be a single room), she does it. If she can spare a piece of bread or comfort the sick, she gives whatever she can to lighten the load. She risks her life helping transport Jews and others under Hitler's thumb to safety. She loves and values each person, regardless of their race or religion. Her courageous actions, taken so that others might be saved, bring her honor by her peers and by God. She would never betray one of her brethren. She weeps bitterly as the Nazis split her family apart, creating heartbreak that parallels even the worst of tortures. Many of them she'll never see again. In the end, the Jewish race lives on, bruised and battered but highly honored by those who admire their selflessness and their love.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Keep it going

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. ~ C. S. Lewis (retweet from )