Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"Sacred Marriage" -- Gary Thomas


I just finished reading a very popular book by Gary Thomas, titled Sacred Marriage. The premise and directive of the book is included in the image on the left: "What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?"


Marriage is so fleeting in our culture. Jamie and I approached our marriage knowing that it was not going to be easy; that we were going to fight and that the "honeymoon" feelings would not be ever-present. We were willing to enter into that covenant/sacrament with that knowledge. Through the reading of this book and the wonderful last few weeks that I have spent with my wife, I am realizing how spiritual marriage is. We often look at the big pictures in marriage and find spirituality - forgiveness after a big fight, praying and reading Scripture together, serving in church together, etc. etc.

But our marriages are spiritual on so many other levels. Serving my wife by putting away the dishes. Putting down the toilet seat. Going to bed when I'm not tired because it's important. Choosing to not be annoyed by minor issues. I have thought of these things as spiritual before, but more in the sense of character formation. By doing them, I am involved in sanctification. But these are spiritual acts/prayers in and of themselves. We are formed more closely to the image of Christ when we live a life for another.

"Sacred Marriage" -- Gary Thomas


I just finished reading a very popular book by Gary Thomas, titled Sacred Marriage. The premise and directive of the book is included in the image on the left: "What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?"
Marriage is so fleeting in our culture. Jamie and I approached our marriage knowing that it was not going to be easy; that we were going to fight and that the "honeymoon" feelings would not be ever-present. We were willing to enter into that covenant/sacrament with that knowledge. Through the reading of this book and the wonderful last few weeks that I have spent with my wife, I am realizing how spiritual marriage is. We often look at the big pictures in marriage and find spirituality - forgiveness after a big fight, praying and reading Scripture together, serving in church together, etc. etc.
But our marriages are spiritual on so many other levels. Serving my wife by putting away the dishes. Putting down the toilet seat. Going to bed when I'm not tired because it's important. Choosing to not be annoyed by minor issues. I have thought of these things as spiritual before, but more in the sense of character formation. By doing them, I am involved in sanctification. But these are spiritual acts/prayers in and of themselves. We are formed more closely to the image of Christ when we live a life for another.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Capitalism and Christmas

Adam Smith, in 1776, wrote that,

"It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages."

Think about that quote for awhile:

Keep thinking:

A few more minutes:

OK:


Jamie and I went to Woodfield Mall tonight in Shaumburg, IL to finish our Christmas shopping. I passionately dislike shopping anyway, but was further perturbed by the frenzy of the mall 11 days before Christmas Day (do these people not know that we are only in the third week of Advent). I am not a communist or believe that capitalism is bad, but this time of the year should make any Christians question materialism and the state of mind of his/her peers. Wait, isn't this one of the great things we are to be doing during this period of Advent? "Make straight the way of the Lord!"

Capitalism and Christmas

Adam Smith, in 1776, wrote that,
"It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages."
Think about that quote for awhile:
Keep thinking:
A few more minutes:
OK:
Jamie and I went to Woodfield Mall tonight in Shaumburg, IL to finish our Christmas shopping. I passionately dislike shopping anyway, but was further perturbed by the frenzy of the mall 11 days before Christmas Day (do these people not know that we are only in the third week of Advent). I am not a communist or believe that capitalism is bad, but this time of the year should make any Christians question materialism and the state of mind of his/her peers. Wait, isn't this one of the great things we are to be doing during this period of Advent? "Make straight the way of the Lord!"

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Idol Factories"

If you read my previous post (which was posted a few minutes ago) you were introduced to an article by Paul Waitman Hoon. Early in the same article he makes a reference to the way in which our minds create idols so easily. He describes the mind as an "idol factory" (stolen from Calvin, but referenced).

A few weekends ago, I went to the Festival of Lights downtown Chicago with my wife and some friends of ours from California. While Mickey Mouse was strolling down the street serving as "master of parades" our friend Russ stated that, "Mickey Mouse is no more than a present day idol." I passed this comment off as being comical, but when I think about it, he is absolutely correct.

Our minds are completely prone (thanks sin) to creating idols out of created matter. We worship that which is like us; less than God. And doing so certainly costs us something. It costs us the ability to realize the utter dependence upon God our Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the ever-present Holy Spirit, that is required. Instead we turn to those things that are seemingly more accessible and enjoyable.

It is shocking how our idols do not come solely in the form of material/physical things, but also in the form of our thoughts, aspirations, ideologies, and empiricism. For an idol is anything that we place our trust, hope, or desire in, that is not God. The more I think about Russ's comment, the more I realize that we need to be critical of ourselves in the same manner, asking, and when necessary, willing to label our desires, pursuits, or things what they are, can be, or will become: idols.

Aesthetic Excitement

Monday night we were given the topic for the take home portion of the final exam for our Early and Medieval Christianity class that I am in, and the take home was to be a paper that traced asceticism (positive and negative) throughout the history of the Church. This evening I sat down to begin some very surface level research, and I picked up one of my favorite reference books, Twenty Centuries of Christian Worship, Edited by Dr. Robert Webber. After skimming through the glossary for the topic, I came across the title of an interesting article: "Corruption of Worship by Aestheticism." So, rather than being about asceticism, this blog is going to be about aestheticism.

Paul Waitman Hoon is the author, and in it he contends that many Protestant traditions, following some Puritan tendencies, have made some great mistakes in aesthetics. He makes the statement:
To reject the corruption of aestheticism in worship is not to deny the liturgical function of art...Rightly afraid of aestheticism, free-church Protestantism wrongly feared art. (page 402)
So there are those who rejected it's use completely (failure), but we are currently seeing a failure on the other side of the spectrum. Quoting Chesterton, Hoon says that:
"The God who acts" gives way to the God who smiles. Similarly, the person to whom such aestheticized worship is made to appeal is not the one whose soul needs redemption and whose will needs rescue; rather, it is the aesthetic individual whose sensibilities are to be titillated and whose imagination is to be intrigued. In this respect aestheticism has learned only too well from errors of the past. Persuaded that people are primarily symbolic animals, it addresses them as essentially creature of feeling and imagination. It would engage our senses and shrive us with God's beauty rather than confront our will and search with God's holiness. (page 403)

This article was very thought provoking and is forcing me to think about the space in which I worship on a weekly basis. As leaders in the church we need to constantly be evaluating and re-evaluating the worship space and what we say (or don't say) by including/excluding aesthetic mediums.

"Idol Factories"

If you read my previous post (which was posted a few minutes ago) you were introduced to an article by Paul Waitman Hoon. Early in the same article he makes a reference to the way in which our minds create idols so easily. He describes the mind as an "idol factory" (stolen from Calvin, but referenced).
A few weekends ago, I went to the Festival of Lights downtown Chicago with my wife and some friends of ours from California. While Mickey Mouse was strolling down the street serving as "master of parades" our friend Russ stated that, "Mickey Mouse is no more than a present day idol." I passed this comment off as being comical, but when I think about it, he is absolutely correct.
Our minds are completely prone (thanks sin) to creating idols out of created matter. We worship that which is like us; less than God. And doing so certainly costs us something. It costs us the ability to realize the utter dependence upon God our Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the ever-present Holy Spirit, that is required. Instead we turn to those things that are seemingly more accessible and enjoyable.
It is shocking how our idols do not come solely in the form of material/physical things, but also in the form of our thoughts, aspirations, ideologies, and empiricism. For an idol is anything that we place our trust, hope, or desire in, that is not God. The more I think about Russ's comment, the more I realize that we need to be critical of ourselves in the same manner, asking, and when necessary, willing to label our desires, pursuits, or things what they are, can be, or will become: idols.

Aesthetic Excitement

Monday night we were given the topic for the take home portion of the final exam for our Early and Medieval Christianity class that I am in, and the take home was to be a paper that traced asceticism (positive and negative) throughout the history of the Church. This evening I sat down to begin some very surface level research, and I picked up one of my favorite reference books, Twenty Centuries of Christian Worship, Edited by Dr. Robert Webber. After skimming through the glossary for the topic, I came across the title of an interesting article: "Corruption of Worship by Aestheticism." So, rather than being about asceticism, this blog is going to be about aestheticism.
Paul Waitman Hoon is the author, and in it he contends that many Protestant traditions, following some Puritan tendencies, have made some great mistakes in aesthetics. He makes the statement:
To reject the corruption of aestheticism in worship is not to deny the liturgical function of art...Rightly afraid of aestheticism, free-church Protestantism wrongly feared art. (page 402)
So there are those who rejected it's use completely (failure), but we are currently seeing a failure on the other side of the spectrum. Quoting Chesterton, Hoon says that:
"The God who acts" gives way to the God who smiles. Similarly, the person to whom such aestheticized worship is made to appeal is not the one whose soul needs redemption and whose will needs rescue; rather, it is the aesthetic individual whose sensibilities are to be titillated and whose imagination is to be intrigued. In this respect aestheticism has learned only too well from errors of the past. Persuaded that people are primarily symbolic animals, it addresses them as essentially creature of feeling and imagination. It would engage our senses and shrive us with God's beauty rather than confront our will and search with God's holiness. (page 403)

This article was very thought provoking and is forcing me to think about the space in which I worship on a weekly basis. As leaders in the church we need to constantly be evaluating and re-evaluating the worship space and what we say (or don't say) by including/excluding aesthetic mediums.