Monday, January 20, 2014

Preponderant Direction

"Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions." - G.K. Chesterton

It is the nature of society, it would seem, to simply embrace the normative thought process.  To set critical thinking aside and to accept the consensus opinion.  It can be found in every nook and cranny of our culture, and so it has always been.  Sure, there are the to-be-expected non-conformists, but they're really much more 'normal' than they might think (though I'm sure they would cry to the contrary); for even they are acting out of a defiance which is rooted in their selfish desires.  But that's exactly what the rest of the culture does in going along with the normative thought.  By jettisoning the critical thought process, they are simply maintaining and protecting their own level of comfort.  For, after all, as we all may dare to admit from time to time... thinking is uncomfortable.

Is it not much easier to accept an opinion if it has achieved a consensus?  If a majority of scientists say the earth is heating up, then surely it must be so.  As though science is determined by a vote.  But we don't consider the evidence in any rational way... actually we don't consider it at all.  The cable news said the results of the latest poll found that the majority of people in the country also agreed.  That must settle it then.  Why bother thinking about it?

It is very often the case in Christian circles as well.  Like everywhere else, laziness creeps in, and we are prone to simply accept and believe what is fed to us.  It's easier that way... but it certainly does not make it right.  It is uncomfortable to call sin 'sin' when the rest of society tells us that it is not.  "Keep your evidence!" they'll say.  "What are you bringing the Bible into this?  I interpret it my own way.  I'm not interested in your narrow opinion."  But as any thinking person would realize, this can't possibly be so.  Something cannot be both right and wrong.  The Bible says something or it doesn't.  The interpretation is either right or it is wrong.  The truth of the matter is some read the Bible with critical thought, determining to understand what is being said and what the original meaning of the words are.  Others try to use it to justify an incorrect thought or opinion.  For example, an evolutionist might come to the table trying to get the Bible to support his theory.  But that is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.  It can't be done without something getting seriously mangled... and a large hammer.  The Bible is the inspired word of God.  No one would read a personal letter I might send to them and say to themselves, "what this means to me is...".  No, they would want to know what I meant by writing it; what my original intent was.  Yet, we do this with the Bible all the time.  We make the Bible say what we want it to say.  It is certainly easier to approach Bible study that way.  You simply remove the 'study' part, and that is what you are left with.

It is a struggle to hold on to critical thinking when the world seems to reject it more and more each day.  Yet, it is what a Christian is called to do (2Tim. 2:15).  There are numerous warning against being passive and simply going the way of the world (Rom. 12:2).  This is how false teaching comes into our life and how it becomes accepted and embraced.  It's a slow process, but one that is sure if we do not examine everything through the lens of the scriptures (Acts 17:10-11).  Praise be to God that it is He who strengthens us to be able to do these things!

"Impartiality is a pompous name for indifference, which is an elegant name for ignorance." - G.K. Chesterton

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Curiouser and Curiouser

"There is a great deal of difference between an eager man who wants to read a book and the tired man who wants a book to read." - C.K. Chesterton

There is a curious mark of our age which is driven by purposeful ignorance.  Reading, understanding, stretching the mind... it all seems so long ago, or something relegated to the realm of academics, but certainly not for real life.  After all, we think, we're too busy for that sort of stuff.  There's life to live!  If it doesn't affect me, why learn it?  Yet at the same time we complain of not knowing things, or the ignorance of other people.  It is curious how when we are faced with a problem, and we are shown a solution, we yet choose to ignore that solution for the preference to complain.  Knowledge is like this.  We consider thinking to be too hard (and it is hard at times), but ignore the benefits.  We look for entertainment or the antidote to our boredom.  We prioritize these things over the desire to read God's word, pray, or learn something to help us better understand the Bible or teach something to others.  It is curious indeed how too often we prefer to ignore all this and instead stagnate.

Paul writes in Philippians, "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."  This implies effort.  Hoping and wishing does not get us to the goal.  We must press on toward Christ by the grace and strength of our Lord.  And how do we know Christ but by reading his word, which also takes effort.  Effort that is too often shunned.  We need to think, and some, sadly, have abandoned that long ago.  It is curious how when answers and truths lay in front of us, we flatly refuse them because we would rather not lift a finger.  Curious, but not surprising.  May God continue to have mercy on us.

"It isn't that they can't see the solution. It is that they can't see the problem." - G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Secret of Rivers

"Perfect humility dispenses with modesty." - C.S. Lewis

There is much that is astonishing about our existence.  We were made in the likeness of God.  God loved us enough to send his only Son to die a death we deserved so that we could be with Him forever in paradise; we who are the cause and purpose of his death.  While these things are astonishing that they would be so, they are certainly not cause for use to think much of ourselves.  Humility, of course, is the opposite of pride.  By it's very nature it is the most difficult of any virtue to attain.  Every sin we commit is caused at its root by pride.  We say to ourselves that our way is more important than God's way.

Yet when we think of humility, we often mistake it with modesty in attitude.  But true humility has no need of such a thing because true humility doesn't think of itself in the first place.  They simply are who they are by the grace of God.  The truly humble person doesn't consider themselves from the start, not "I need to work on being more modest".  They focus on God primarily and others as an outflow of that primary focus.  When focusing on honoring and glorifying God, it is hard to feel puffed up.

What a difficult virtue humility is, yet it is what we are called to.  Pride is the original sin, and the root cause of so many others.  Weeding it out may be most difficult of all, but it is worth every effort and struggle toward that goal!  We strive onward in the strength and grace of our God.

'You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve,' said Aslan. 'And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor in earth.' - C.S. Lewis

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Pocket Full of Posies

"Do not free a camel of the burden of his hump; you may be freeing him from being a camel."  - G.K. Chesterton 

Perched five feet above a solid cement floor, my infant son sat facing outward, supported by my arms.  He swung his legs merrily, taking in his surroundings as he often does, until he decided at once that he wanted to get down.  He began to try to scoot forward to free himself of the hold I had on him.  With each failed attempt he would try again, harder and harder each time.  Finally he got frustrated with me and began to fuss and whimper.  He was angry with me for not allowing him to jump a distance greater than two times his height (him who can not even stand up, let along jump!).  He was clearly far too young to understand that his father was not acting to frustrate him, but to keep him from serious harm.  He simply wanted what he wanted.

But what lessons children teach us!  How often is it the same with us?  We simply want what we want.  We may try over and over and over for the same thing, and our Heavenly Father may restrain us over and over and over to keep us from harm.  And though we ought to be thankful for this, instead we often act in frustration.  In defiance, we may try again, only to find ourselves restrained one more time.  Like an infant, we understand so little compared to our God.  Sometimes the things we see as burdens were given to us by God to make us into the people we would be in the future.  Sometimes we want to go one direction in life, and God points us in another.  And sometimes we just want to jump out of the loving arms of God onto a cement floor where we would surely break our heads.  Strange as it may be at times to our small minds, we ought to be thankful that God does not give us everything we want.  We know little of what we truly need, but we can rest in the knowledge that we have a Father in Heaven who does.

"To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it."
- G.K. Chesterton

Saturday, November 17, 2012

If Wishes Were Horses

"Compromise used to mean that half a loaf was better than no bread. Among modern statesmen it really seems to mean that half a loaf is better than a whole loaf." - G.K. Chesterton

Time is ever with us, yet it rushes past us like a wind, sweeping us along on its merry way.  There are those who take the time to look backward, remembering and wondering about the past.  But for most these days, history began a month ago from their present point in time.  There are so many lessons from the past, but there are few these days that remember them.  Sadly this is not due to any lack of ability, but rather a lack of caring.

Apathy reigns in our culture.  If it takes effort, it is immediately discarded.  Unfortunately this means far too often thinking and critical thought take a back seat to comfort, ease, acquisition, entertainment....  It has not always been so.  In times past, remembering the past and thinking about their lessons was extremely important.  In Israel, God commanded the Jews to build monuments of stone as reminders for the generations of the future of God's faithfulness.  When the children would ask of their parents what the monuments were there for, they would reply with a story and lesson of the faithfulness and grace of God that He showed to them.  These same people, however, became apathetic.  Oh, it didn't happen overnight.  No, it began with an attitude of "to each his own".  It became too much effort to stand up for what was right and to confront sin, so they allowed it to grow and thrive around them.  But like any kind of sickness left untreated, it spread.  Within a generation or two, the entire nation was involved, not merely apathetic, but now fully embracing it, until a generation would rise up and cast off the sin and turn back to God.  This would become the repeated cycle for the Jews with many serious and grave consequences;  a lesson to learn from.

Yet we do not remember these things.  "After all," we say, "it doesn't affect my life.  Why should I care?"  Thinking is an uncomfortable exercise for most.  Fighting for what is right is too much effort.  It is easier to compromise and, in so doing, convince ourselves that we are being more noble for doing so.  It is easier to convince ourselves that what is bad is not-so-bad, and what is not-so-bad is actually good.  What our grandparents would shudder at we embrace, and what they would display openly, we hide.

We too have monuments that we have setup for the purposes of remembering;  reminders of where we came from and the God that once was the leader of our homes.  "In God We Trust".  But the Enemy is anything but apathetic toward attacking these things.  He knows well the events of the past and the power -or lack thereof- of an apathetic people.  He knows that the more apathetic the people, the more ignorant they are, for they care little for knowledge or wisdom embracing instead the superfluous.  Slowly he wears us down until a generation arises who no longer cares for the lessons of the past or the things of God are fully in control.  

I fear this generation has arrived.  I have studied history, and I know what happens to a culture, a nation, and a people when this generation comes.  But I know that the winds of time do not blow as by chance but are directed by the hand of God.  It is He who ordains such times as this, and it is His time to direct.  Our part is to decide what to do with the time given to us.  Do we allow ourselves to be swept along with the simple currents of carelessness, or do we attempt the effort of swimming against the tide?  No action occurs of its own accord.  It starts with the mind, with a will do do something, and an attitude that cares to act in a certain way.

"We regard God as an airman regards his parachute; it's there for emergencies but he hopes he'll never have to use it."  - C.S. Lewis

Monday, October 08, 2012

Half a League Onward

What did Columbus do, for example? He sailed in a ship, that was all! Many a mariner has done the same before, but no man had held on a westward course so obstinately, so persistently or so long." - Frank W Boreham

Sometimes it is the simple things that are the hardest.  Road blocks are thrown in our path, people mock or discourage, others may not mock but in their own helplessness have no assistance to offer.  So then what?  How many people get to where they are going by turning around, or plunking themselves on the ground and say to themselves, "I'll just stay here"?

Columbus day... now there was a fellow who was stubborn and single minded.  It's a characteristic that seems to be as foreign in our culture as the New World was to Europe at the time.  In my observation, most people who have done things worth doing were told all along the way that "it can't be done".  And the rest of the people believe it and quit.  It's frustrating to say the least.  Of course we would all like to quit from time to time, but it's that characteristic of stubbornness that makes us hang on.  Hang on when every bit of our mind and energy have forgotten why we hang on... just a memory that it is the right thing to do.  For we each face those times in life when we know something is right, and though we are plagued by criticism, rebuke, failure, or any number of a thousand reasons to give up, we either press on anyway or we throw in the towel.

Often times Satan taunts us with these thoughts or words to give up.  And over time under that constant barrage, it's hard not to buckle;  like a ship still sailing West in the midst of a great storm.  But press on we should!  Living a life fully devoted to God does not come as an easy matter, nor was it promised to be so.  It's work, always upstream, always with the wind in our face.  Thank God for moments of rest, He knows we need them, but before long it's right back to it.  We live this way to bring glory to a God who has done more for us than we can ever fully understand.  We do it out of love.  And, thankfully, we do not go forth in our own strength!

"Wishing cannot take the place of working! Aspiration is excellent; but perspiration, too, must play its part before the summit is attained. I press towards the mark for the prize of the upward call! says Paul. I press!"  -  Frank W Boreham

Sunday, May 20, 2012

By It I See Everything

"Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important." - C.S. Lewis

Too often we treat the message of God with ambivalence.  There are many who reject it outright, but far too many others who consider it with an apathetic air.  They may claim outwardly that it is important, but take no further action than that.  Unfortunately that seems to be the attitude that rules the day in the culture these days... apathy.  Unless it leads to comfort and ease, it is of no consequence.  They may say, "that's nice you believe that."  And they may even throw in the vague notion of "everyone should have something like that to believe in".  But in the end, the message that is of the utmost importance to everyone alive is shrugged off.  The momentary search for comfort or excitement or whatever it is distracts attention from where the focus ought to be.

To the non-Christian what is the chief aim in life?  Is it not happiness, in whatever form it may take for each individual person?  So then, let us say there is an atheist on one side, and a Christian follower of Jesus on the other.  If both live a "happy" and "full" life, by the world's standards the best has been attained by both.  But the difference here is that the atheist is gambling on the fact that there is no God and no one to stand before when he dies to give account of himself to.  And to what gain?  It would seem a very foolish wager indeed.

It is a pity that more people do not fully see the importance of living a life as a follower of Jesus.  It is not always an easy path to take, in fact it is promised to be hard.  But hard paths to do not always rob you of happiness or joy.  In this case it is just the opposite.  And I am thankful that is the case.  The message of Christ is very much real, therefore it is of utmost importance!

"If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning." - C.S. Lewis © 2010. layout by Chaotic Soul :: Converted by Randomness