Thursday, August 30, 2007

Reflections on Softball and Self-Centeredness

Tonight I saw myself. Tonight my true self was to revealed to me by the Spirit of God... at a softball game. I arrived at a playoff game for a community league, where without my knowledge I was required to have some form of picture identification. I had lost my wallet a few days before (here perhaps could be another meditation on providence), and thus had no picture ID on my person. For this reason they would not let me play (apparently cheating by having better players come and pretend to be another less skilled player is quite common in a community league... strange). So I had to drive all the way home to get my passport just to play.

As I was driving home I felt the anger and outrage surge within my core. It is the overwhelming kind of anger in which you mentally project all kinds of way to vindicate this obvious injustice, you try to fantasize about ways in which you will exact revenge on the sixty year old grandma for not budging on a stupid rule for a community softball game. I mean seriously... what the hell? I imagined myself throwing my passport at her, concoted all sorts of parables to express this outrage such as comparing this softball game to an airport during a level orange terror alert. Of course the inevitable happened too, as I was driving home I got stuck at seemingly every light and every single person who was not in a rush was placed providentially in front of me. Oh the outrage... Oh the injustice...

Yet, ever so quietly the Spirit began to work upon me. I began to think that something about how I felt was inordinate and excessive. So the Spirit, doing His job, turned me to Christ and convicted me of the outrageous sin that was in my heart. I asked Jesus to reveal to me the truth, to show me my heart. And here's what I saw; a young man so unbelievably wrapped up in himself that he feels as if he has been done a grave injustice by being forced to get an ID. I felt a deep sense of anger and outrage at a very small thing. And yet Christ showed me in a moment images of the many serious and grievous true injustices that happen in the world each day, and those injustices do not even raise an ounce of outrage or anger.

It turned out in this case that justice was unbelievably and ashamedly self-centered. I, in my heart, was the judge, jury, and executioner. I felt so wronged by this sweet old grandma, by these moseying drivers, by the stop lights because they were impeding my project, my plans... and that to me felt powerfully like injustice. I was amazed, in feeling this, at how often these kinds of experiences happen; an inconvenient red light, an unforseen interruption, an inoportune phone call, a mindless driver who pulls in front of me, all provoke in me a deep frustration and anger.

God showed me in just one moment, at one of the red lights I was waiting at, "this is my sign to you that the world does not revolve around you, look at the light, it is about others, not just you." I was amazed at all the Lord was showing me, and then I began to feel pride surge within me. "Look how insightful of a person I am... look how spiritual... look how knowledgeable about the matters of the heart he is." Absolutely staggering, I was experiencing what Jeremiah spoke of in his prophecies that the "heart is decietful above all things." My heart is a labyrynth of wickedness, every new turn bringing another besetting sin.

As I was arriving back at the softball game this final thought struck me, I was going to recieve salvation. I am going to inherit the new heavens and the new earth and dwell with God himself forever. A heart so turned in on itself, so often unmoved by God's great promises was going to recieve a gift so magnificent that words fall short of describing it. And all I could see in this moment was that it was for a heart like mine that Jesus suffered, was punished, and perished. I deserved the worst chambers of hell for me insiduous pride and overwhelminly blind ignorance of what justice really was. Yet God is going to show me "grace upon grace" in Jesus Christ. This is grace abounding to the chief of sinners.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Thomas Merton on the Spiritual Life

Although I cannot wholly endorse Merton or all of his writings, I can learn from one who quite beautifully wrote of life in Christ. His prose is both simple and stunning, and in my opinion says quite a bit more than many of our contemporary authors on matters of the heart. Although in my heart I am quite devoted to reformed theology, there is something in this Catholic monk that draws me in and calls me to the lived reality of life in Christ and not just theological astuteness. I came across this quote today as I was going back over Merton's No Man Is An Island, I hope it opens you as it did me.

"Now anxiety is the mark of spiritual insecurity. It is the fruit of unanswered questions. But questions cannot go unanswered unless they first be asked. And there is a far worse anxiety, a far worse insecurity, which comes from being afraid to ask the right questions - because they might turn out to have no answer. One of the moral diseases we communicate to one another in society comes from huddling together in the pale light of an insufficient answer to a question we are afraid to ask.
But there are other diseases also. There is laziness that pretends to dignify itself by the name of despair, and that teaches us to ignore both the question and the answer. And there is the despair which dresses itself up as science or philosophy and amuses itself with clever answers to clever questions - none of which have anything to do with the problems of life."

Monday, August 20, 2007

Joshua Harris?

I had never been a fan of I Kissed Dating Goodbye and sinfully had dismissed Joshua Harris. Reading this article on evangelism, community, and the ever burgeoning young cynics who have written off the local church, has led me to repent of my dismissal and open up deeply to what God has to say through this young pastor.

Bill Watterson, Keith Green, and The Crucified Christ

Imagine the crucified Christ, bloody, bleeding, bruised, and broken looking down on an observer at Golgotha. Imagine that observer wearing a "HESAVES" t-shirt that is intentionally designed to look an awful lot like the "HERSHEY'S" logo, with the cutely emblazoned words beneath "taste and see that the Lord is good." I have a hard time reconciling those to images; especially since there is a well-intentioned but unwittingly satanic mockery happening by one who claims to be a follower of the crucified and risen Christ. The unfathomable agony and inestimable cost of being forsaken by the Father of Glory has, before the very face of Jesus, reduced to offensive and trivial sloganeering. Satan is ever at work to reduce the worth and the work of the eternal Son of God, it was his defeat, and though his head was crushed, his tail still sweeps to and fro to demean, mock, and destroy the most precious and prized message that the world will ever hear. I read today a modern parable of one man's (Bill Watterson of Calvin and Hobbes fame) unwillingness to compromise his message by dabbling with his medium, and saw it as a great witness to the Christian community regarding their message and its the only medium it belongs in. There was a quote from Keith Green in there that was stunning:
"It pains me to see the beautiful truths of Scripture being plastered about like beer advertisements. Many think it is wise to “get the word out” in this way but, believe that we are really just inoculating the world with bits and pieces of truth - giving them their “gospel shots.” (And we’re making it hard for them to “catch” the real thing!) People become numb to the truth when we splash our gaudy sayings in their eyes at every opportunity. Do you really think this is “opening them up to the Gospel”? Or is it really just another way for us to get smiles, waves, and approval from others in the “born-again club” out in the supermarket parking lot, who blow their horns with glee when they see your “Honk if you love Jesus!” bumper sticker?"

Monday, August 13, 2007

Jonathan Edwards on Man as God's Natural Enemies

"They value one of their equals much more than God, and are ten times more afraid of offending such, than displeasing the God that made them... a morsel of meat, or a few pence of worldly gain is preferred before Him."

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


The inspectors lens surveys home
His light stings the walls
He peeks in corners and closets
It's for the good
But i can't tell the difference
Between benevolence and bad

The perceptive eyes
Are deceptively wise
The look of the law
Betrays His art
His intuition into flaw
Give way to a matchless heart

Home is barren these days
Visitors frequent neighbors now
Friends can't come over
When doors are locked
And the furnace is cold
It's obvious, but i can't see

The call was placed yesterday
He came over today
I didn't welcome Him
He didn't ask to come in
He knows
His light in all my rooms

The perceptive eyes
Are deceptively wise
The look of the law
Betrays His art
His intuition into flaw
Give way to a matchless heart