Friday, December 02, 2011

Words Mean Things: Excruciating

"Neither can embellishments of language be found without arrangement and expression of thoughts, nor can thoughts be made to shine without the light of language. " - Cicero

Over time the meaning of words are often forgotten or changed. This is sometimes unintentional and sometimes purposeful. Regardless of the cause, the meaning of words are important. Language can teach a lot about a people, from culture to history, values and spiritual truths. It is my hope to write one of these from time to time; to focus on a word whose meaning has either been forgotten or changed and to consider its true meaning.

The word "excruciating" does not carry with it the fondest of images. And for good reason. We know the word to describe something that is extremely painful, carrying with it the idea of unbearable suffering. What good could come out of such a thing?

What we have forgotten is that the word -like so many of our words- comes from Latin. The word is excrusiatus, which is derived from a different Latin word -excruciare. It means "out of that which causes pain or anguish", or more literally "out of the cross". The cross, of course, being the ancient Roman means of executing the worst of criminals. This punishment was reserved for mainly non-Roman citizens as the Romans generally believed it too horrible a death to put a fellow Roman through. Cicero once wrote the following about the punishment of crucifixion:

"To bind a Roman citizen is a crime, to flog him is an abomination, to slay him [by execution] is almost an act of murder, to crucify him is....what? There is no fitting word that can possibly describe so horrible a deed."
It would seem that even the inventors of this punishment shuddered at its use. Even today there are scholars who would say it is still the worst means of execution ever devised. It is no accident then that Jesus would chose to die in this manner. Does the weight of our sins deserve anything less than the worst mankind has ever dreamed up? Christ endured the excruciating death of the cross on our behalf; but he suffered something further as well. He suffered God the Father turning his back on him which hurt him more than the physical agony of his punishment. All for the sake of his incomprehensible love for sinners. It is truly mind blowing.

To bind him is a crime, to flog him is an abomination, to slay him is murder, to crucify the Lord of the Universe is....what? It is the punishment we deserved. It is our Lord taking our sin upon himself and bearing the wrath of God. It is salvation to those who believe. Stop and dwell on this for a while. Words mean things, and I'm thankful that they do.

"For one will scarcely die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die-- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:7-8

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Announcements and Updates

A few updates to mention on here. First, for all those who like to browse the web on your smart phone, I've reformatted this site just for you. If you access on a mobile browser, it will immediately redirect to the mobile version of this site. For those who don't use smart phones, not to worry; nothing will change for you.

Secondly, for those of you who like to share things on Facebook, Google+, etc., you no longer have to go through the arduous trouble of copy and pasting from this site in order to share. You'll notice that at the bottom of each post is a button to quick post to your favorite social network site (or most of them anyway). Just click and share; easy as that. So feel free to share away!

Lastly, more posts will be coming shortly. If you have any ideas, thoughts or suggestions on improving the site or future content, let me know in the comments section below.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

And the Band Played On

"I believe that pluralistic secularism, in the long run, is a more deadly poison than straightforward persecution." - Francis Schaeffer

Could it be that as a culture we are more susceptible to the intellectual attack than the direct attack of traditional persecution? Undoubtedly. Each culture has common threads, but each culture is also unique. One of the unique qualities of our cultures is the lack of direct persecution to the Christian church in our country. But yet, as a country, we are anything but vibrant in our outward belief in the Gospel. So how has this happened if we were not scared into silence?

The long answer is that we have been drawn away by a thousand glittering distractions. The short answer is that we have turned our attention from God to ourselves. Everything has become a tool to grow our pride. As C.S. Lewis pointed out via Uncle Screwtape, we have developed a horror for the Same Old Thing. Everything must be new and exciting. We no longer know how to appreciate sameness, tradition, or something that does not entertain. Everything is old instantly; sometimes before it has even been fully explored. It's no wonder so many people "church hop". It's little wonder people turn from hot to cold faster than if they had been thrown head first into a freezing lake. Perhaps far too many Christians look for the novel and forget the reasons for permanence. God never changes; shall we get bored of him as well? Unfortunately far too often, this endless restlessness gives rise to heretics who gladly offer something "new". And the crowd runs headlong, ignoring the old, often repeated warnings of the Bible.

If you were Satan, would you not find this weapon more affective than traditional persecution to cause the church to become impotent ? It is like a constant drumbeat in the background of our culture. It encourages us to live for ourselves. It tells us to "believe in yourself".

"The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums...believing in himself is one of the commonest signs of a rotter. Actors who can't act believe in themselves; and debtors who won't pay. It would be much truer to say that a man will certainly fail, because he believes in himself. Complete self-confidence is not merely a sin; complete self-confidence is a weakness." -G.K. Chesterton

Yet we attempt it anyway; believing in ourselves to our own ruin. Believing in ourselves to the complete exclusion of God. Doing things by the grace and strength of God has no meaning to the one who truly believes in himself. Chesterton was right. An asylum is full of people who whole-heartily believe in themselves. You could not rationally talk them out of their fantasies, because to them they are the essence of reality. But how different is it with us as a culture? How many times do we try the same remedies for the same problems, or argue about the same thing ad infinitum? But we believe in ourselves! Look at all the good that has done us. Believing in ourselves has convinced us that our neighbor will be the one to object to the further cultural rot, not knowing that he is also thinking the same about us. Believing in ourselves has caused us to turn aside when opponents to the Gospel would seek to abolish its reference in any public place. Believing in ourselves has allowed the media industry to transform into the depravity of ancient Greece. Believing in ourselves has bred an entire generation of people who believe they are accountable to no one and everyone else exists to work and benefit them.

Believing in ourselves causes us to forget God. It is time we start to believe again in our Holy and (thankfully!) gracious Lord.

"The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits. " -G.K. Chesterton

Saturday, July 23, 2011


"Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we." - G.K. Chesterton

Saturday, June 11, 2011

New Clothes for an Emperor

"In passing, we should note this curious mark of our own age: the only absolute allowed is the absolute insistence that there is no absolute." -Francis Schaeffer

Sometimes it seems indeed curious that people would be so willing to create a smoke screen such as this to hide behind. The statement is put thus: "There is no such thing as absolute truth", generally spoken in the most absolute of ways. Yet a glaring contradiction like this is happily accepted and the transparent shield behind which they hide feels adequate to those who created it. The emperor may be naked, but happily so apparently.

If it is not this screen it is usually another. Something, anything to hide from God. But is that not another contradiction? How does one hide from an all knowing God? By pretending he does not exist, or hiding one's face from him and ignoring Him? But what have we accomplished with this? It would seem only to deceive ourselves.

Resisting God is a tiring ordeal as the Hound of Heaven is tireless in his pursuit of us. But grateful we should be that it is He who pursues us and not the other way around! Indeed, we would all be utterly doomed if that were the case. He slowly breaks down our defenses until we find that the greatest freedom comes in surrendering to His will. Another contradiction? Not at all.

"Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. " - John 8:-34-36

Ignoring this truth may be the desire of some, but truly freedom comes from abandoning the road of our own choosing and following Christ and the will and plan God has set before us. No one who speaks these words says so without speaking from experience. I, like many, have tried (and far too often still try far too often!) to go my own way. A terrible fall, flat on my face, is always the result. Sadly it is human nature to often forget these lessons. Yet we have the grace of God to lift us up and set us back on the right path. It is that same grace that found us from our initial wanderings in the dark and introduced us to a new life of freedom in Him.

There is absolute truth after all...and it can be known. Truth does not disappear by pretending it does not exist.

“Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.
All which thy child’s mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!
Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.”

"The Hound of Heaven", spoken as the Voice of God to whom he chasest - Francis Thompson

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Cé hé mise dhuit, a Dhia?

"When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" - Psalm 8:3-4

In ancient times, time beyond memory, the world was created by a spoken word. That world we now enjoy and have yet to fully discover and discern. Our eyes are not sharp enough to perceive it all; our minds too simple to comprehend it all; our arms to short to grasp it all. We speak of the infinite and know this is seemingly the measurement of the heavens, but do not understand the words we speak. Our universe has a fractal symmetry of a scale barely conceivable; from the sub-microscopic to the galaxies large beyond understanding. These ideas are glimpsed and then instantly lost, like a near-blind man, squinting with effort at the world around him; all is a large blur with small bits coming into focus for the shortest of seconds, like subliminal flashes.

Yet, in all our simpleness, here we stand, the subject of God's love and attention. The entire universe with all its vastness stands to glorify its creator, but somehow God would choose to focus His attention on us. He would choose to love us enough to visit us... and die for us. That thought, beyond all others, seems the hardest to grasp. But we accept it with gladness and gratitude, thankfulness and joy, wonder and quiet reverence.

"If words could fall like rain... and if I had a thousand years, I would still run out of time [to] thank you for the life, thank you for the truth, thank you for the way." - Geoff Moore © 2010. layout by Chaotic Soul :: Converted by Randomness