Category: Gospel and Culture

A Brief Reflection on the Pride of Fatherhood

Owen is four days old and so are we, as parents. Learning as we go, Owen oscillates from satisfaction to dissatisifaction with varied degress of effectiveness in diaper changing, feeding and consoling. So far, our hope is not in choosing the right “Parenting plan.” Instead, our hope is in the Lord. At least that’s what YHWH keeps reminding me in my reflections on Ps 127: “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” We can toil all we want, read 50 books and get advice from the four corners of the earth, but unless we asking God to build our home, our labor will be in vain. So, I cry out, “Build our house, O God. Build our house!”

Of course, praying doesnt except doing. As the latter half of the psalm reminds me, “children are an inheritance from the Lord, the wages of the fruit of the womb.” So, we are responsibly praying and parenting and praise God for all the help of our parents, pedaitricians, nurses, midwifes and friends. As a father, I’ve felt perplexing polarity of emotions, rainging from immense pride to leveling humility. Psalm 127 has helped me understand my pride: “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior [= great man], So are the children of one’s youth.”

Yesterday I was parading Owen around Starbucks (yeah, can you believe it, three days out of the womb and he is already hitting the coffee shops). As I showed him off to a single man from the seminary, I was distrubed by his indifference. He was more eager to talk about Latin grammar that the inheritance of the Lord! 🙂 As I have reflected on this constant pride, often not shared by non-fathers, I’ve detected good and bad, but mostly good. It is mainly a positive pride, a grateful gloating, if you will, that gives expression to the unique role and responsibility of father. When Owen is on display, my thought is not, “”look what I produced; isn’t he amazing?” but “look what I have been given; isn’t he amazing?” Even though Owen is and will forever be the Lord’s, it will always be true that he was given to US, to ME as a father and to no one else. So, I feel warrior like, like a great manI possessing a great thing. No wonder the psalmist chose to speak of children as arrows, not only for their clear spiritual potency in advancing the kingdom [of Israel and true Israel], but as a genuine expression of his feelings. The children of youth are like a sniper’s rifle, a prize possession, a source of pride, but infinitely better – they are living souls, relating people, eternal beings, and their ours…for a time.

Rick Warren and Six Trends

In May the Pew Forum for Religion and Public Life held its biannual Faith Angle conference, inviting Rick Warren, author of the bestselling book in the world, The Purpose Driven Life and pastor of Saddleback Church, to address “Myths About Megachurches.” However, some of the most interesting things said by Warren were concerning the “Six Trends” he has observed in culture and Christianity.

To be honest, I don’t know a lot about Warren or the Forty phenomenon, but the article is intriguing: http://pewforum.org/events/index.php?EventID=80 I’ve summarized the Six Trends here. What do you think? Is Warren wrong or right? How will these trends affect Christianity both national and global?

  1. Burgeoning Growth of Compassionate Activism
  2. Explosion of 40 Days of Purpose across cities and churches (10%)
  3. Small Groups is the means of the next Spiritual Renewal
  4. Shift of Power from Parachurch to Local Church
  5. Three Great Questions: 1) Will Islam modernize peacefully? 2) Will the US return to its religious roots? 3) What will replace the Marxist vacuum in China?
  6. Partnership between Protestants and Catholics on Evangelical issues is changing the cultural landscape.

Live for Tomorrow

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them, and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” ~ Revelation 21:1

How Do We Love Everybody?

“Love Everybody” is what the sign said as it was being held by some rock-country musician at the 4th of July celebration in Boston. With the Pops behind him and the people in front of him, he had one message, “Love Everybody.” A commendable message, don’t you think? Of course, he didn’t give any clues on how one is supposed to go about loving everybody. I guess he figured we don’t need any help, we just need to love. I guess he banked on the power of his appeal and the love that lay hidden in every human heart. That doesn’t cut it for me. I know my own heart, how un-loving, how selfish and self-absorbed it can be.

It’s almost impossible to read through 1 John and not wonder what love is, how manifest it is in your own life and how you convey it to others. However, those questions start at the wrong place; they start with me, which is the problem (and what I find unlovable about others). If “all we need is love,” then why is the world filled with so much hate, or worse, indifference? Seven bombs and several hundred injured in London, thirty thousand Africans dying a day from poverty-related, preventable diseases, child conscription for Burmese warfare and on and on…do I care? Do I love? Are these the kind of questions should I be asking when I read the Scripture, “Love Everybody”? (1 Jn 3.11, 23; 4.7, 11, 12)

How about asking, Who is love? After all, love isn’t a thing, an emotion; it’s person-al. Trees don’t love, people do. So maybe we should ask what person best embodies love. Who is love? God is. Who is God? Jesus is. Who is Jesus? The most precious person in the cosmos to God, his Father. Why did he die? Because God is love. Why did he resurrect? Because the Spirit is love. Who is the Spirit? Love.

St. Augustine put it together like this: Lover, Beloved, Love = Father, Son and Spirit. A trinitarian love triangle, which is where love begins and ends. We just need to get caught up in it. But how? No one has ever seen God!

John tells it this way. No one has seen God but if we love one another we abide in God and his love is perfected among us. How do we get close enough to abiding in Someone we have never seen? We receive his love. After all, he loved us first by giving up what was most precious for those who were most perverse. How do we know if we are abiding in God and not some figment of our imagination? We receive his Spirit, who enables us to love others. What does loving others look like? Telling them about the Beloved, the Lover and Love. Confess that Jesus has been eternally loved by the Father through the Spirit and that if we renounce our two cent notions of love, we can enter the love triangle and love everybody.

What are some ways we can love? Receive and rejoice in God’s love for us. Pursue righteousness (3.10). Give away our goods to those in need (3.17). Love our enemies and our friends. Lay down our own lives for our brothers (3.16).

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Listen to God. Wash the dishes. Give your good shoes to Goodwill. Pray for terrorists. Take a day off of work to help a brother move. Tell someone about Love.

These are not random acts of kindness; they are purposeful acts of love.