Speed limit

11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. 1 Peter 2:11-17

A pretty remarkable passage. A passage that I’m sure has been used on many (and opposite) sides of various arguments. It hit me hard about a week or slightly more ago. Strangely what the passage convicted me of was speeding. I’ve been convicted of that before but didn’t really act to strongly on it. I am not a reckless driver by any means, but I tend to always drive about 4 miles over the speed limit (not in town- on the highways and freeways). Sometimes more like 7 over, when we are driving to the airport in Boise as an example.

Historically I’ve had some tendencies toward road rage, but I think that dates back to a much more angsty, pre-Christian time in my life. From a self analysis (which is always somewhat suspect) stand-point I think I’m a pretty calm driver. So it’s not that I was feeling convicted of “rage” or aggression, literally that passage seemed to be telling me to obey the law.

So about 10 days ago I stopped speeding. Let me re-phrase. I tried to stop speeding. The very first day I was going to stop speeding I took a left onto I-95 to go to work and sped up to get ahead of the traffic coming North. I’m cruising along and look down and I’m going 8 over the limit. Just simple matter of speeding up and not CONSCIOUSLY being aware of my speed. Over the last 10 days I have been much better at it and really the last two days can say “I don’t speed anymore…for now”. But what makes this relevant is the broader application to sin in general.

To not break the speed limit I had to be constantly aware of my speed. I think sin is very similar. To avoid sin we need to be constantly in Christ and constantly striving to avoid sin. Sin is too easy in our world. Sin is everywhere on the internet. I don’t even mean full on porn surfing- even 5 minutes ago I went to the weather site I use and the advertisement on the right of the screen featured an attractive woman with a tee-shirt that did not fit appropriately. It’s easy to spend 10 seconds longer looking at that then you should. It’s easier to click the link and see “what other T-shirts they have for sale”- but that’s how we lie to ourselves.
Likewise it’s easy on internet forums to say and act in ways not representative of our God. I once belonged to a forum online through my old church and the things and beliefs that people espoused on that forum routinely amazed me- and that was on a site for and by Christians.

15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. 1 John 3:15

Yikes. We need to gird our minds and stay sharp to avoid sin- even of that of hating our brother or sister. Keep your eye on your speed if you don’t want to break the speed limit.

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Published in: on May 4, 2011 at 8:07 pm  Comments (1)  

Proud

Ruth Hazel Kern is born! June 1st at 7:26 AM Dorothy gave birth to our beautiful baby girl. The picture below is from today. She is amazing, wonderful, and mysterious. I love her. I’m not going to blog about her. I’m going to blog about my wife: whom is amazing, wonderful and mysterious. I’ve heard the phrase “proud papa” before, I had always assumed that the phrase applied to the new child. For me however the pride is in my wife.

Pride or more specifically “to be proud” is a difficult concept for me. Two very different definitions of proud that I will elaborate on here (from dictionary.com):
1.
feeling pleasure or satisfaction over something regarded as highly honorable or creditable to oneself (often fol. by of, an infinitive, or a clause).
2.
having, proceeding from, or showing a high opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, or superiority.

Biblically the word “proud” is never used as a positive. In fact it’s almost always used to describe those upon whom God’s vengeance is due. Pride is the root of most sin. It is the sin I suffered mightily from before conversion. The definition in view here is the second, “opinion in one’s own dignity, importance, or superiority.” When one thinks of oneself as higher then God, we face judgment.

Biblically the closest I’ve found to the first definition of the English word “proud” is the word “pleased” as used in Matthew, Mark, and Luke to describe how God feels about Jesus (from Luke3:22, King James): “And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.” Strong’s defines the word used there for “pleased” (εὐδοκέω in Greek) as “to think well of”. Though I suspect, just from the context, that this English definition might not quite capture the strength of how God feels about Jesus. I think this type of “pleased” is probably a type of righteous pride. It’s proud that wouldn’t be deserving of judgment because it’s really a type of love.

In the 10-15 minutes before the birth of Ruth Hazel when Dorothy was really suffering and starting in her words to “freak out”, she kept saying “I don’t know” over and over. I knew that birth was imminent that one or two big pushes would result in the birth of our daughter. The pain was very intense for Dorothy and I could barely help her because I was starting to cry so much. As our daughter finally broke through and was finally born I wept to the point of almost sobbing. Dorothy looked in amazement the pain already gone (at least temporarily until her doctor began to clean up her birth injuries) and kept saying “Oh my gosh” and then the baby was on her chest she kept saying “Hi honey, oh honey”. I continued to cry so much I could barely see her. Later I realized that feeling that brought the tears was joy, to a degree, but the overriding feeling bringing those tears was pride, the first definition, the εὐδοκέω, for my wife. She had suffered at times mightily for almost 8 hours and already loved our daughter and had forgotten the suffering just moments after the birth.

I can’t recall ever feeling that way about anyone or anything. I certainly have never had εὐδοκέω for anything I have done in my life. Of any of the many “major” graduations I’ve had, getting a first job, buying a first house, I’ve felt thankful and I’ve felt relieved, but never really felt type 1 proud. The closest I’ve probably come (at least to my sleep deprived memory) was when my mother finished her 3 day 60 mile walk at age 50. The crowd, a packed stadium actually, was roaring for all these (mostly) women and I knew how my mom would be feeling down on the field as she entered the stadium and I felt a lesser degree of the εὐδοκέω at that moment for her.

Now over two days out from delivery I’m still somewhat choked up at times with type 1 pride for my wife. Being sleep deprived for 3 straight days helps make me more emotional, for sure. Today I have love for my wife like I haven’t felt ever, because of this amazing sense of pride in her. The picture below I think is tied for or perhaps even the most beautiful picture I have of her, the other being 1-2 amazing pictures of her from our wedding day. Now along with that love and beauty I have in my wife I have the same for my daughter. I now have a real “family”, which is such an amazing feeling. I am the proud papa.

Published in: on June 3, 2010 at 10:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Curiosity and Fear

We live on two acres. Approximately 1 acre is watered green grass, a tree line, an orchard and house. The other acre makes me think of the Prologue to book five of one of my favorite fiction series “The Dark Tower Series”.

Tian was blessed (though few farmers would have used such a word) with three patches: River Field, where his family had grown rice since time out of mind; Roadside Field, where ka-Jaffords had grown sharproot, pumpkin, and corn for those same long years and generations; and Son of a Bitch, a thankless tract which mostly grew rocks, blisters, and busted hopes.

-Wolves of Calla, Steven King

He goes on to describe the tract of land called Son of a Bitch in more detail in the book and it’s a thankless stretch of land that is actually dangerous to work because of the dangerous terrain. I have felt like that at times about the other acre of our property here. In this part of the lawn there’s no established watering system and it’s mostly cheat grass, goatheads (nasty plants which dry out and make terrible thorns) and rugged terrain pockmarked by field mice dens. Out of part of this patch of land I have scratched a garden that’s about 45×25 feet.

An interesting observation I have made during my work on this garden: I get a crowd. Almost any time I’m down there working on it I gather a large crowd of cows. The pictures below show me in the garden with a typical crowd and the second after I went up to the house to take a picture after gathering my biggest crowd of cows ever.

You can get a sense in the first picture how intensely they cows are interested in me. They show an amazing degree of curiosity that perhaps I’m not giving them credit, becuase it my mind I think of them being such passive, grass chewing domesticated animals.

The more fascinating thing for me is how similar in behavior they are to my cats actually. Our cats are intensively curious about our activities. Any little move or noise however and they bolt. It’s like for these animals, the cows and cats, fear and curiosity are intertwined. Which does make sense to me. If you are so interested in what I’m doing why do you run if I step toward you? A common thing in the garden is that I’ll be down on the ground pulling weeds and if I stand up, about half the cows run. Or I’ll be working the hoe with my back to the cows and if I turn toward them, they run again. Within a few minutes they usually come back to continue to stare in abject fascination.

It dawned on me however that we are not too dissimilar in our relationship with God. Almost all mankind feels the need to search for God. Almost everyone at a point in their life searches for meaning and relationship with God. Often however as we draw close and discover some bit of truth the consequences of that discovery make us run away. The curiosity and the fear intertwined. When we are confronted by our sin, and our helplessness to combat it without giving in to God, we often reject that because of our pride. I know I lived like that for quite some time.

For a time in my life I thought I was actually more moral then my friends and some of them were Christian. As I got more curious about Christianity I began to be afraid of the implication that my morals were not a ticket to any kind of heaven. There was only one “Way, the Truth, and the Life”. It wasn’t me. Scary stuff! The horror…..run! I kept finding myself come back though. The curiosity is to innate. Eventually the Truth was more than my fear could ward off.

Published in: on May 18, 2010 at 5:46 am  Comments (1)  

Linkin Park (and why they are probably Christian even if they don’t know it yet)

Apparently this is not a new thought or theory.  I mentioned this briefly before and my wife and I have discussed this frequently, but I had never actually researched this.  So if you google “linkin park christian” you find an amazing amount of discussion about this, even a Christianity Today article! (1)   Linkin Park has historically been one of my favorite bands, though in a somewhat peripheral way.  They can’t really be called a Chrisitian band in the classic sense partially because they make good music (2).  Many Christians would have a problem with their themes and lyrics but also in their presentation.  This has often been a problem for people with Christian rap who say essentially “how can music from a genre that glorifies sin be about Jesus”.  My wife discussed this in detail in her blog (3).  See in particular point #5 which the discussion revolves around this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MllhC0qyEjY&feature=player_embedded

 I link that video because it’s a nice example of the rap/rock/punk fusion that’s actually somewhat similar in style to some of Linkin Parks stuff (maybe emphasis on the rap while Linkin Park is emphasis on the rock/punk), but actually is fully Christian music. 

On the surface one might listen to a Linkin Park song and hear nothing but loud screaming (depending on the song, some of their recent stuff is pretty toned down and tame), but closer evaluation quickly leads to the source of my claim.   I should note at this point that my assertion that they are Christian is somewhat tongue in cheek as I do think that to be a Christian you have to profess a faith in Jesus Christ so you can’t really be one without knowing it.  I do think however that some people are very close to the Truth and just need to make one more leap to get there.   I was there once. 

So let’s take a closer look at some of Linkin Park’s music and see why I have this opinion:

Link Park, In the End,  (4) Chorus:

I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter
I had to fall
And lose it all
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter

Ecclesiastes 1:13-15

13 I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Ecclesiastes 2:11

11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
       and what I had toiled to achieve,
       everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
       nothing was gained under the sun.

Ok so those are fairly common nihlistic themes and might point more to the ageless timeliness of the writings in Ecclesiastes more then a real example of Linkin Park being Christian. 

But that’s sort of my central thesis about Linkin Park, they deal with topics of sin, death, life, and while some might not agree with some of their cursing or even their presentation and angst (again see my wife’s discussion about teenage angst in section 4 of the same blog post).  They deal with timeless themes that are relavent and beautiful to all people. 

Linkin Park, No More Sorrow (5)

No, no more sorrow
I’ve paid for your mistakes
Your time is borrowed
Your time has come to be replaced

I see pain, I see need
I see liars and fiends
Abuse power with greed
I had hope, I believed
But I’m beginning to think that I’ve been decieved
You will pay for what you’ve done

No, no more sorrow
I’ve paid for your mistakes
Your time is borrowed
Your time has come to be replaced

Thieves and hypocrites!
Thieves and hypocrites!
Thieves and hypocrites!

Probably an anti-government, anti-big buisness, anti-greed song, but I also hear the theme of final judgement and final reckoning.  I hear Judgement:

Jeremiah 30:12-15

“This is what the LORD says:
       ” ‘Your wound is incurable,
       your injury beyond healing.

 13 There is no one to plead your cause,
       no remedy for your sore,
       no healing for you.

 14 All your allies have forgotten you;
       they care nothing for you.
       I have struck you as an enemy would
       and punished you as would the cruel,
       because your guilt is so great
       and your sins so many.

 15 Why do you cry out over your wound,
       your pain that has no cure?
       Because of your great guilt and many sins
       I have done these things to you.

Ok, well I’m going to leave my comparisons there beause the tempation is to continue to search the Bible to make it fit with Linkin Park’s lyrics to make a point.  A point that I’m sort of jokingly making to point out that it often feels like all people have some version of God’s Truth printed on their hearts.  The agnostics or Universalists out there will say “YES! How can you know for sure…” in which I would disagree with them, but I do think there’s a lot of truth to the idea.  C.S. Lewis discusses this very idea in great detail in Mere Christianity, here are two nice quotes from that:

We have two bits of evidence about the Somebody. One is the universe He has made. If we used that as our only clue, I think we should have to conclude that He was a great artist (for the universe is a very beautiful place), but also that He is quite merciless and no friend to man (for the universe is a very dangerous and terrifying place.) …The other bit of evidence is that Moral Law which He has put in our minds. And this is a better bit of evidence than the other, because it is inside information. You find out more about God from the Moral Law than from the universe in general just as you find out more about a man by listening to his conversation than by looking at a house he has built -Mere Christianity

My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? – Mere Christianity

 The book as a whole deals with the theme that there is a universal moral code and that points toward their there being an abolute Truth.    So Truth can be found in many types of music and art and for me Linkin Park is awfully close. 

Post-script: I can’t get the embed link function to work, which I know my wife knows how to do so I will be finishing this post up some over the weekend and embedding the videos and probably formatting the quotes to stand out from the rest of the text a little better. 

1.  http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/music/glimpsesofgod/2003/meteora.html

2. http://oursovereignjoy.blogspot.com/2008/08/what-can-christian-radio-learn-from.html

3.  http://dorothyinidaho.wordpress.com/2008/09/26/response-is-rap-inherently-evil/

4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AWbgkRpYwc

5.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyBFySXi6Cc

Published in: on February 26, 2010 at 8:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Return

I return to blogging because of my cat.  More specifically how inscrutable I must be to my cat.  I currently have 4 cats.  Probably more because I’m certainly feeding more than 4, but I currently am able to pet 4 and had 4 of them neutered.  My favorite (don’t tell the others) is Zelda.  A dark furred, mysterious, somewhat aloof, but very loving cat.  A born hunter.  She walks like a chetea. My favorite is when I see her in the field to the south hunting.  I was leaving the other morning and she was on the front porch sitting next to a medium sized gallbladder (a tithe?) and I got to thinking about how very inscrutable I must seem to her.  I often sweep out of the house, pet her for 20 seconds because I’m already running late for work, and climb into that Big Noisemaker and speed away. 

Matthew 18:2-4 suggests we are to be like children to enter the kingdom of heaven.  I see children daily in my practice, but I think until I have my own child I’ll have trouble really understanding that. I do think though that at times God is to us what I must be to my cat.  So Other, so inscrutable, that our minds fail to understand at all.  Yet at the same time God is  Emmanual [Emmanuel or Imanu’el (Hebrew עִמָּנוּאֵל “God [is] with us”].   Though my cat cannot understand my ways, she’s often waiting for me on the front porch with her gallbladder.  Not trying to take the analogy to far and compare myself to Jesus, but more the opposite.  I need to have the faith of my cat.  With my first child due June 1st, I can look forward to learning more about God through her eyes.   That and working toward being a loving father as I know I have in God the Father.

Published in: on February 6, 2010 at 6:37 am  Leave a Comment