Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Whatever Rules Your Mind

"Whatever a man depends upon, whatever rules his mind, whatever governs his affections, whatever is the chief object of his delight, is his god." ~Charles Spurgeon

This Spurgeon quote has been on my mind a great deal lately. It makes sense and is true for every single person. Take a look at what consumes your time. Examine what you talk about the most. Consider the things you enjoy the most. Whatever that thing might be, surely it must be your god.

We were created to worship. The intention was that our worship be directed at our Creator, but this is simply not the case for the majority of us. There are a variety of targets for our worship, and these things consume our thoughts and become the source of our joy (or misery).

In Romans 1, Paul talks through this Creator-creation relationship in some detail. He notes the clearly divine nature of God as seen throughout creation, while also realizing the fact that God isn't given the glory he deserves for it. Instead, humans choose to worship other people or their own desires... leading to a perversion of all that we see (this deviation from God is called sin).

"They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator - who is forever praised." ~Romans 1:25

What do you worship? What consumes your thoughts, actions and desires? There you will find your god.

Do you worship money? For many, peace comes with the accumulation of money, while misery comes with the loss of money. They find their only joy when a paycheck arrives or a bill is lower than feared. This cyclic dependence on finances takes our thoughts far away from the Giver of all we have.

Do you worship health? Some live and die by the health of their bodies. Whether it is an obsession with their body image or the satisfaction that comes with frequent exercise and good eating habits, the need to be "in shape" is king. I'm not saying these are bad things. I would argue quite the opposite. Exercise and good eating are good things for taking care of what has been given to us, but they are temporary in the scheme of eternity and do not deserve our worship.

Do you worship your entertainment? The constant news cycle of celebrity marriages, breakups, court appearances and affairs gets old after a while. But many people feed off of the stories of celebrities more than they care even for their own lives. Humans are not to be worshipped. They are not worthy. They are made in the image of God, meant to reflect key attributes of His nature, but they are not God (and for that I am thankful).

Do you worship your children? This one can be extremely painful. For many, children are everything. Life consists of constant attention to the children, even at the neglect of marriage and other responsibilities. Children are to be loved and they are an incredible gift from God. But they will grow up and start their own families, often leaving lonely, devastated marriages in their wake. Be aware that children are a temporary fixture within a family... A father will always be a father, but he will not always have spiritual and physical authority over his children. But marriage is for life, and should be the center of a family. Be aware that children are not worthy of our worship.

Do you worship your politics? Mankind's problems will not be solved by electing the right officials. Times of peace and prosperity always give way to times of war and famine, and the cycle repeats again and again. Sure, policy and politics can often alter the frequency and amplitude of that cycle, but they are only temporary fixes in a world that will be ruled by sin and the Enemy until Christ comes again. Being informed and participating in the political process is a good thing, but winning souls for eternity is of far greater value than your party winning an election tomorrow.

I've found a way to attack a whole variety of worship situations, without admitting to my own faults. So where do I fall in this?

I struggle in a worship of knowledge. When reading scripture, I recently found myself comparing three versions of a passage side by side. Then I opened up my lexicon app to try to get at the root of a word I found confusing. Then I read two commentaries on the word before ending up on a sermon about the word. Did I walk away with any meaningful understanding of scripture that radically changed my life and made me look any more like Jesus? Nope. But I could tell you where every instance of that word was found in all of scripture.

Scripture study is a good thing, but it can be perverted if the goal becomes "knowing more so that I know more" instead of "knowing more so that I worship God more fully". While I thirst for knowledge, I have to pray again and again for insight into how scripture will change my life, instead of how I can know more about scripture.

And this is far from my only struggle, but I wanted to share one in this area.

What other things do you see people worship? How do you struggle in this area? Share in the comments!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Bacon: Savory Sizzle

For Christmas, Heather got me a set of magnetic poetry with a bacon theme. I could not have been more ecstatic about the opportunity to describe my desire for bacon in poetic verse.

Here is what I have so far:

bacon grease
the hot elixir of life
morning wonder between marvel and maple
juice & egg bring fresh taste
but bacon is about savory sizzle
then perfection in comfort my lovely hizzle
the only good bacon is from dripping hogs

Here is another short one in the corner. I believe my brother wrote it:

I love thick tasty hickory pork steak
desire more

My personal favorite? Heather wrote this beautiful line of wisdom...

eat lunch every day and cure rabees

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year, New Life

Every January, our culture is swept up in attempts to redefine ourselves with the New Year. People set out with high hopes to achieve their New Year's resolutions. As is obvious from my post yesterday, I'm not immune to the pull of the new year for setting goals to better myself.

But something is lost on our culture.

Ecclesiastes 2:11 - Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.

Last January I joined the gym at work. I actually just wanted a place to jog and shoot hoops early in the morning before work while it was cold outside. It didn't cross my mind that other people would be chasing after weight loss goals for the new year. I arrived at my required pre-membership orientation with about fifty other people. Turns out, we were part of the "New Year crowd" that the gym regulars despised. Because of us, the gym is packed in January and February, but it always levels off again by March.

People are born. People live some length of time. Then people die. Nobody is immune to this cycle of inevitability. The reality is that we will not be able to bring anything we have earned or gathered in this life with us into the next. We spend our time chasing after a career, financial security, a particular body image, or a host of other fleeting things. In the end, "chasing after the wind" is the most suitable description.

But there is an attitude that I can only describe as uniquely Christian that should help us see opportunities change, transition and self-betterment like the New Year differently. This life is essentially a training ground. We have an opportunity to embrace Christ and become a new creation. This is not because of anything we have done or could do, but entirely because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. After we come to this intimate knowledge of our Maker, we spend the rest of our lives training in righteousness. Before a Holy God we are seen as perfect, because Christ's righteousness is imputed to us. But we still struggle with sin in a fallen world and we will until the day that Christ comes again.

That all being said, there can be eternal benefit to our pursuits. Instead of making all of our goals focused on the ourselves and what we want, we can fashion our goals after a longing to emulate Christ and glorify God. The mission at hand is simple: to turn goals with results that will fade with this world into glorifying opportunities for the redemption of this fallen world.

If my focus in my weight loss goals are for body image, self-esteem, or even just good health - they are all pursuits of vanity. But I hope that my weight loss goal is rooted in a desire to push off the chains of apathy, gluttony and self-pleasing and pursue God-honoring decisions in my eating and exercise habits.

The New Year provides a culture-friendly opportunity for reflection and self-assessment. With this New Year, look for new opportunities to please Him, instead of pleasing yourself. And if you don't know Him, I'd be happy to tell you more!

For Further Reading: