Friday, March 31, 2006

Guarding God - Muggeridge Speaks

"IS THERE A GOD ?- Malcolm Muggeridge

Well, is there? I myself should be very happy to answer with an emphatic negative. Temperamentally, it would suit me well enough to settle for what this world offers, and to write off as wishful thinking, or just the self-importance of the human species, any notion of a divine purpose and a divinity to entertain and execute it. The earth's sounds and smells and colours are very sweet; human love brings golden hours; the mind at work earns delight. I have never wanted a God, or feared a God, or felt under any necessity to invent one. Unfortunately, I am driven to the conclusion that God wants me.

God comes padding after me like a Hound of Heaven. His shadow falls over all my little picnics in the sunshine, chilling the air; draining the viands of their flavour, talk of its sparkle, desire of its zest. God takes a hand as history's compere, turning it into a soap opera, with ham actors, threadbare lines, tawdry props and faded costumes, and a plot which might have been written by Ted Willis himself. God arranges the lighting —Spark of Sparks—so that all the ravages of time, like parched skin, decaying teeth and rotting flesh, show through the makeup, however lavishly it may be plastered on. Under God's eye, tiny hoarded glories—a little fame, some money . . . Oh Mr M! how wonderful you are!—fall into dust. In the innermost recesses of vanity one is discovered, as in the last sanctuaries of appetite; on the highest hill of complacency, as in the lowest burrow of despair. One shivers as the divine beast of prey gets ready for the final spring; as the shadow lengthens, reducing to infinite triviality all mortal hopes and desires.

There is no escape. Even so, one twists and turns. Perhaps Nietzsche was right when he said that God had died. Progressive theologians with German names seem to think so: Time magazine turned over one of its precious covers to the notion. If God were dead, and eternity had stopped, what a blessed relief to one and all! Then we could set about making a happy world in our own way—happy in the woods like Mellors and his Lady Chatterley; happiness successfully pursued, along with life and liberty, in accordance with the Philadelphia specification; happy the Wilson way, with only one book to take to the post-office—one book, one happiness; happy in the prospect of that great Red Apocalypse when the State has withered away, and the proletariat reigns for ever more. If only God were D. H. Lawrence, or Franklin D. Roosevelt, or Harold Wilson, or Karl Marx!

Alas, dead or alive, he is still God, and eternity ticks on even though all the clocks have stopped. I agree with Kierkegaard that 'what man naturally loves is finitude' and that involvement through God in infinitude 'kills in him, in the most painful way, everything in which he really finds his life . . . shows him his own wretchedness, keeps him in sleepless unrest, whereas finitude lulls him into enjoyment.' Man, in other words, needs protection against God as tenants do against Rachmanism, or minors against hard liquor."

I am a simple football coach- here is an intellectual great- and we both agree...time to stop protecting yourself from the One who loves you!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Deeper Delight and Roller Coaster Rides

During Spring Break we went to Universal Orlando and had a blast. The first few days there, I continued to wrestle with the idea of Psalm 37:4 " Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of Your heart."

Part of my problem has been the human default mode of "fleshing out" a program. If I pray 5 hours a day and meditate for 3 and memorize for 3 and fast- I will be a better believer and enjoy God more. If I don't do those things, I continue to show my sin and worldliness.

This type of bent has led to the monastic practices of mortification. Some Monks beat themselves with whips and chains to chastize sin.

So I am no different. I was at an amusement park full of confusion and asking myself, "Do I really love God or the things of God? And is this just another kind of subtle idolatry?"

The breakthrough came as I watched my children. They just got on the rides and screamed with sweet delight in the thrill.

I felt God reminding me- "Unless you become like a little child- you cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

Then I read Psalm 37:4 in context and realized that the growth toward Him is initiated by Him, granted by Him, and I need to be patient...and wait on Him. Enjoying His world and my life IS enjoying Him. A gift of a Father to a son.

It doesn't relieve me of a need I have for spiritual disciplines- I need to read, pray, fast, meditate, memorize,share and worship. But I will never rid myself of sin.

I do those things as conduits for Him to work a miracle in me. And He does it slowly over time.

I cannot take pride in any improvement... He does the work. And He becomes my delight. And my heart desires are full..because they desire Him!

So here I am on a roller coaster called life- I hold on- and it is a blast! Let the adventure begin!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Deep Desires and Sweet Satisfaction

(What the average man desires) " is this desirability of an active and imaginative life, picturesque and full of a poetical curiosity, a life such as western man at any rate always seems to have desired. If a man says that extinction is better than existence or blank existence better than variety and adventure, then he is not one of the ordinary people to whom I am talking. If a man prefers nothing I can give him nothing. But nearly all people I have ever met in this western society in which I live would agree to the general proposition that we need this life of practical romance; the combination of something that is strange with something that is secure. We need so to view the world as to combine an idea of wonder and an idea of welcome. We need to be happy in this wonderland without once being merely comfortable. It is THIS achievement of my creed that I shall chiefly pursue in these pages". G.K. Chesterton "The Everlasting Man"

I wanted to take some time this morning and praise my Savior. What a life He has given me! I want people in the blog universe to know that I have been and am being transformed in a way that I did not believe was possible. You see, spiritual growth is slow and imperceptible. It is measured in decades and not years.

I am going to sound like a braggart- but I want to praise my Lord!

I used to be a man who really desired the world. Not only did I desire it, I tasted it whenever I could. I knew of Christ, but I did not love that knowledge. Christ seemed to stand in the way of all my pursuits.

I was lazy and apathetic- very selfish. When I first got married and started having kids, it was nice-but not my passion. My passion was me. I loved leisure.

It was hard to hurry home after work- home required sacrifice.

The funny thing is that I still have that same basic default mode...but something wonderful has happened.

First, I truly believed the gospel- the awesome good news. I'M CLEAN. I am forgiven. GOD LOVES ME! In spite of all my wickedness- my evil thoughts, my cruel words, my inaction- everything is wiped clean.

Second, even though I didn't feel like it, I started taking baby steps in obedience to the Bible. Some of it was just under social pressure of the church crowd. But guess what? I started to really enjoy it. My wife and children grew in my heart even deeper- my peace was more consistent- my love grew warmer- God was changing me.

Third, trials hardened me. The hard times are a tough school master and I did not enjoy it. But those hard times are sweet times to me now. God showed up.

So my life right now?

It is hard. A mixed bag of good days and hard days. I win and lose. Sin is still in me.

I love my Lord - I love my wife - I love my kids - I love my job - I love good books and fun activities-I love great conversations and beautiful people- I love my country, my church, my pastor etc.

And I just wanted to say thanks Jesus. The "desirability of an active and imaginative life, picturesque and full of a poetical curiosity" has come true in You!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Too Close to Christianity ?

G.K. Chesterton The Everlasting Man "THERE are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there. The other is to walk round the whole world till we come back to the same place"
The point of this book, in other words, is that the next best thing to being really inside Christendom is to be really outside it."

Some of Christianity's biggest critics are actually too close to it. Chesterton suggests that it may be good to step far enough away to see its beauty and reality. Against the backdrop of a sin sick world- the offer of the gospel is a pretty good deal.

A word of warning- for every step and minute spent apart from the Creator, there is a danger of no return.

We are one heartbeat away- we are on the precipice of eternity.

So if one feels they must step away to see it clearly- do it- but beware the danger.

And as soon as you see the beauty and meaning of it- run like hell to its shelter.

I do not step away- I cling to it. I know my faith is real because I can see everything else so clearly by it. Just communicating love and fear makes me realize God is there. I feel love- God must be there. I feel fear- God must be there. I can tell you about love and fear...God must be there.

We are so close to God we can't even see the plain evidence - right before the eyes of faith.

The Idolatry of Intellect (Re-post)

"When you are arguing against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all."
C.S. Lewis--Mere Christianity

I go to skeptic's webpages often. You find all kinds- some are warm and good humored and others are bitter and vile. I want to make some comments about the skeptics:

#1 Most of these people are much smarter than me. When I use "simple ramblings of a football coach" as a sub heading, I mean it. I am always impressed by their intellect.

#2 All of us are biased. Ultimately the skeptic is hanging on to thought processes to soothe and firm his unbelief. I do the same in pro-God argumentation.

#3 Smart people on both sides - I believe that the intelligence is a draw.

#4 Ultimately, the skeptic has more faith in his reason and the Christian less faith in his.

God gives us evidence, not proof. And ALL men live by faith.

I do not trust in my reason- I trust in God. I walk in quiet confidence past the tsk tsk of the atheist- by the wailing of other religions- and humbly bow at the cross. I am not alone and I am not afraid.

I often wonder- years from now- when the skeptic and I are in forgotten wheelchairs- who will feel the stronger?

Will he ever come to grips with the fact that he has gambled all eternity on brain functions limited by time and biased toward godlessness? Is it worth the gamble then?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Hiding and Choosing

Matt 11:"25 At that time Jesus declared, I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

This passage is always interesting because it is sandwiched between judgement and weariness. Jesus is the relief of both.

It is God's will to be veiled or hidden. It is His gracious will to be revealed to the simple. Those with talent for intellect are often seperated from these truths by pride and stubborn self will. The religious zealots are weary from trying to live good enough - the powerful are consumed by chains- the intellects are searching in a seeming whirlpool of darkness...

then God reaches out. It is His way.

Lord, I am humbled that You would allow me to be one of those simple children of light. Can you use me to reveal Yourself to others?