“…my feelings do not define truth. God’s Word defines truth. My feelings are echoes and responses to what my mind perceives. And sometimes- many times- my feelings are out of sync with the truth. When that happens- and it happens every day in some measure- I try not to bend the truth to justify my imperfect feelings, but rather, I plead with God: Purify my perceptions of your truth and transform my feelings so that they are in sync with the truth.”
John Piper, Finally Alive, p. 165-166.
…and blogging slips to the back of the “to do” list. But I’ll take the busy. Here are a few thoughts to break the silence:
1. On my last blog, SWFD (may it rest in peace), I blogged from time to time about what I’m reading. I’ve stopped doing that for the most part having decided that, for me at least, there’s a fine line between encouraging people to read and sounding like I’m trying to brag about it. It’s definitely cool right now in the blog world to talk about how much one reads. I think reading is great but I detect, in my own heart at least, a slightly pharisaical tendency inherent in telling others how much I read.
2. Erika and the kids leave today to go visit her parents in Indiana. Usually when they go I spend the first day or two enjoying the quiet and the rest of the time hating the quiet and wishing they’d come back. We’ll see about this time.
3. American Idol is a huge waste of time and I love it. I don’t like the two hours of singing on the first night except for Simon’s comments. But I love the results show and I feel unprepared for it if I haven’t watched the night before. I’m a Danny Gokey fan right now but I’m sure there’s going to be a Danny Gokey backlash.
4. If I was to break my silence on what I am reading I would mention John Piper’s new little book Finally Alive. It’s a nice, clear presentation of the gospel in response to some mistaken notions in evangelicalism about what it means to be born again.
That’s all I’ve got right now. We’ll see if this starts another blogging streak.
It has become clear in only 11 verses that James is interested in demonstrating just how much the Christian’s perspective should be different from the world’s. Having encouraged his readers to find joy in the midst of trials he moves on to encourage them to rethink their attitude towards both poverty and riches. The poor brother is to glory in his high position while the rich brother is to glory in his humiliation. What is this high position that the poor brother is to glory in?
The Christian is to have a different perspective on wealth and social status. The poor man is not to evaluate himself by the same standards as the world. While in the world’s eyes he may be of little or no importance he is to remember that in Christ he is an adopted son of God the Father. He has an inheritance awaiting him in heaven that will not fade away. This inheritance is secure as opposed to the wealth of the world which passes away like a flower scorched by the wind.
The rich brother, on the other hand, is to glory in his humiliation. Though he may be tempted to glory in his wealth, power and status he too must live according by a different standard. While no less assured of a secure inheritance in heaven the rich brother should keep in mind that he has been made a bond-servant of the one who although He existed in the form of God made Himself a bond-servant.
If you’re like me you’re probably tempted to think, “I sure hope I get to be glorying in my humiliation and not in my high position.” In spite of the fact that the bible is filled with warnings about the love of money we still persist in thinking that it is preferable to be wealthy. For some reason we just assume that the best life is the life of ease and abundance. Why do I think it’s better to be rich? I sat down this morning and listed a few reasons:
- Life will be easier with money than without.
- There will be less to worry about.
- I’ll get more respect.
But just a moment of reflection leads to plenty of biblical reasons why these assumptions aren’t necessarily true. Psalm 73 tells me that those who appear to live at ease are set on slippery places. Is it true that there will be less to worry about? A quick scan of the financial page tells me that those with money have plenty to worry about these days. And according to Philippians 4:6 I shouldn’t be anxious when I don’t have money anyway. Finally, how can I have the same attitude that was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5) if I’m seeking the respect of men?
Let me close by saying that I don’t believe James is teaching that one should remain poor just for the sake of being poor. Nor do I believe that James is prescribing poverty as the necessary state of the believer. I do believe that James is teaching us to be more concerned with eternal riches than we are with earthly wealth.
Since we’re all listing so much these days I thought I would list my top five fast-food breakfasts. First, I’ll provide a little context. This morning I had to run to the grocery store first thing to pick up some lime jello. Let me back up even further. Sometime during the early morning hours of Friday Harry exploded. For two days he brought forth all manner of disgustingness. My parents, having invited us for dinner on Friday night, insisted that we still come over. “It’ll be fine!!!” (Famous last words.) As a result my mom and dad have been afflicted with the aforementioned disgustingness. So this morning my mom called and asked for lime jello. I went to the grocery store, bought some lime jello, and then drove through Burger King to bring home two sausage, egg and cheese croissants for $3.
Therefore, my top 5 fast-food breakfast items are:
1. McDonald’s Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit. I’ve loved it from the first time I had one. One of the great positives of Gypsy Trip was the daily consumption of BE&C’s.
2. Chick-Fil-a’s Chicken Biscuit. Erika still hasn’t really gotten her mind around the idea of fried chicken in the morning. But I worked at Chick-Fil-a for 4 years and I always loved the food. That has to be a good sign.
3. Burger King’s Bacon, Egg and Cheese Croissant. Mike Escen got me into these when we would go play gold together. Great flavor and currently a great price.
4. Those new McDonald’s cinnamon buns. Wow.
5. The McDonald’s McGriddle. Shockingly delicious combination of sweet and salty. This one probably tops Erika’s list and I have to say they’re growing on me as evidenced by the jump into the top 5.
Important: Note the absence of Wendy’s on this list. In spite of my profound love for Wendy’s at lunch I have yet to find an acceptable breakfast item.
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.” – John 15:18
Randy Alcorn asks the question, Are you willing to be hated for speaking gospel truth? He makes it clear that being hated doesn’t mean that we act hatefully or seek to be hated. But the most loving and gentle man who ever lived, being utterly without sin, was so hated for the things He taught that He was put to death on a cross. And yet many today, in spite of His warnings, seem to believe that they can profess the same faith and be embraced by the world.
Among some believers the new definition of a good Christian is holding your beliefs privately, not challenging those who publicly share beliefs that dishonor Christ, and avoiding controversy at all costs lest we be perceived as “those kind of Christians” who hate gays, oppose abortion, favor inquisitions and live to burn witches. We so much want the world to like us that we end up distancing ourselves from the historic Christian faith, from biblical doctrine (including hell), and from churches (because they’re all hypocrites except us). We end up making ourselves indistinguishable from the world, and therefore have nothing to offer the world.
Alcorn goes on to say:
There is nothing new or postmodern about the gospel turning some people off. That’s always been true, just as it’s always been true that some people are longing to hear it and will deeply appreciate it that you had enough courage to tell them about Jesus.
This follows along with our study of James 1:2-4 and will be a constant theme all the way through the book. “Do you not know that whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God?”