Archive for February 2012

The Problem… of pleasure!!   1 comment

n a recent podcast the superb apologist and preacher Ravi Zacharias posited that, although we are so often preoccupied with the problem of pain, it is pleasure that presents the more subtle, and perhaps greater danger. He quotes Neil Postman’s analysis and comparison of the two classic “futurist “ works, “1984” by George Orwell and “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley. In his social commentary entitled “Amusing Ourselves to Death” Postman concludes that experience is teaching us that perhaps Huxley was closer to the truth in concluding that apathy and irrelevance held greater potential danger than Orwell’s “Big Brother.”

Concluding this to be the case Zacharias asks the question if God intends for man to have pleasure and refreshment how can we know if the sources of these things we choose are legitimate? The key he suggests is to have a clear view of our goal, the one given us by Jesus. ‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Luke 10:27. With this ultimate goal in mind he sets out three “tests” to use when evaluating pleasure and then three applications which follow from those tests.

Tests

  • Anything that refreshes you, without distracting you from, or destroying your ultimate goal is a legitimate pleasure.
  • Any pleasure that jeopardizes the sacred right of another is an illicit pleasure.
  • Any pleasure, however good, if not kept in balance, will distort reality or destroy appetite.

Applications

1.     All pleasure must be bought at the price of pain

True pleasure is paid for in advance but for illicit pleasure the price is paid afterwards.

2.     Meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain it comes from being weary of pleasure.

3.     The closer you get to pure pleasure, the closer you get to the heart of God. Conversely the closer you get to illicit pleasure, the further away you get from the heart of God.

I find it rather frightening, in our entertainment driven culture, to use these standards to evaluate my activity.  Is the love of God and my neighbor really the foundation of my day by day goals? Does the pleasure I allow myself in the consumption of food jeopardize the “sacred right “ of those whose lives are dominated by hunger? Are my pleasures in balance or are there times when I am ‘amusing myself to death?” I could go on of course but how about you?

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Posted February 24, 2012 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

I might be wrong…   Leave a comment

… and I am certainly not willing to consider Charles Barkley’s caveat  “…but I doubt it!” Yet again I have reason to be grateful to the IVP Book club!  A little while ago my selection included a copy of “Invitations from God” by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun. I did not pick it up at first but, at the recommendation of a friend, Maggie purloined my copy and began to read it. Pretty soon she was regaling me with quotes and finally insisting that I “really needed to read” this particular chapter. The title of the chapter “ An Invitation to Admit that I Might be Wrong.” I confess a little reluctance even though her recommendations are nearly always very worthwhile. However she was right and, you’ve guessed it, I was wrong!

As I mentioned during the sermon on Sunday I have now read this particular section of the book two or three times and I am ashamed to tell how many times I have recognized my own resistance in the pages. It strikes me how crucial this attitude is, not just for me, but how helpful it would have been for those who encountered Jesus during his three years of ministry. How often He tried to explain to them that He was not ignoring or abusing the law but fulfilling it. However their minds were made up and they were not willing to admit they might be wrong. Tragically our society today is riddled with people of all faiths and creeds (as well as none) who are similarly unwilling. The creationists who will give little credence to the discoveries of the research scientist and the biologist who will countenance any explanation of observed phenomena other than the existence of a supreme creator. But does that mean everything is optional and belief in truth is to be discouraged. I do not think so. A life in which we are unable to reach convictions and live by them would, in my opinion be colorless, confusing and perpetuate insecurity. Calhoun very helpfully explains it like this

This doesn’t mean we can’t know truth. It simply means we cannot be certain that our take on truth is absolute or that our judgments about others are absolutely right.

It is, however, our attitude that changes when we accept this invitation. We approach others with openness and receptivity that can only enhance and enable our witness for Jesus. We will find that we participate in conversations by really listening to others rather than using half an ear while our mind assembles the next facet of our irrefutable (of course!!) argument. One of the most challenging quotes from the chapter is the following:

The type of humility that admits you are wrong when you know you are wrong is confession. The humility that admits you might be wrong when you’re pretty sure you’re right is maturity. Without both types of humility, we become rigid and unteachable. Without both types of humility, relationships flounder and implode.

So the challenge for us is to locate those subjects upon which, for one reason or another, we are unwilling to consider the idea that we MIGHT be wrong and as the author encourages us, “Seek humility which acknowledges the limits of my knowing…” and “Seek teachability, which allows me to keep on growing and changing.”

 

Posted February 15, 2012 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

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I find it difficult   Leave a comment

I have to confess I find worship difficult!  Why? Well, I love worship in church and we are so blessed to have wonderful worship musicians and a great worship leader, but it personal worship, when I am on my own, I find hard. Why I can’t seem to find a way to “adore” God as I sit by myself each morning?

However towards the end of last year I found something that has really helped. I started beginning my devotional time by listening to a couple of carefully selected worship songs.  Three albums have been a particularly helpful so I wanted to share them with you.

  • The first is “Banquet” by Graham Kendrick. Graham is “the father” of British contemporary worship music and I had the privilege of working with him on a number of occasions when I was in the UK.Graham Kendrick
  • “Come to the Well” is the latest offering from Casting Crowns. Each of their albums has songs with startling and challenging lyrics. One such song on this album addresses the emotions of a young girl on her birthday growing up with an absentee father.Casting Crowns
  • The third album is the latest from Matt Redman entitled “10,000 Reasons”. In my opinion Redman is the very best of the contemporary worship writers (and just for the record he is English too although he is resident in Atlanta I believe). Almost every song on this album really enables me to
    Matt Redman
    express my worship to God in a way I would not be able to do otherwise
  • Whether or not you use them for personal worship I really recommend each of the albums as inspiring and challenging in many ways. So do any of you have particular things that you do to help you worship in your personal time with God?

Posted February 2, 2012 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

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