A friend of mine has written the most exquisite Lenten devotional based on the passage in Mark about the evening of anguish spend alone in the garden.
I commend it to you here.
Why do we suffer? Why is it not removed? This we cannot say. But we can say, as Josh says, that in suffering we see the eyes of Jesus. It is difficult to keep both the depth of our suffering and a sovereign God in sight at the same time. But Josh shows us how without fancy theological argument.
As heard in a sermon last Sunday by our intern, Jomo Johnson:
We are made to lust…
The good is the enemy of the best
Ever thought of lust being a good thing before? I hadn’t. He is saying that lust is a response that humans SHOULD have but that we turn this human response from the best object (God) to a good (and then later self-serving) object (others). When we speak of this, we usually use words like burning desire for…zealous for…
Context for these comments were his thoughts on Psalm 63. David’s lust, he said, got him into this trouble (curse given him after Bathsheba was violence in his family). Lust would now get him out (properly focused on God rather than self).
Helpful thoughts for those who struggle with strong addictive urges?
[Note: those looking for my blog summary of Integrative Psychotherapy, ch. 6 will need to come back tomorrow. Running behind :(]
How much do we really benefit from instruction? Yes, instruction increases our knowledge base. That is certainly true. But do we benefit–does our behavior really change from it? Do we learn and does it show? Allow me the freedom of hyperbole here…
This question about instruction was raised in my Sunday School class on Isaiah by our teacher John Timlin. Consider the following examples:
1. The first Fall (instruction was given and rejected) happens. God remakes creation through the flood. What happens next? Noah’s son mucks it up.
2. Israel is warned against falling away from God by Moses as they enter the promised land. He not only tells them what to avoid but that they will likely do it anyway. What happens? Israel turns away from God to pride and idolatry.
3. The Prophets warn both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms that unless they turn from their idols, God will punish them via Assyria. First the Northern Kingdom falls. Does Judah learn from this? No. Read the passage of Ezekial 23 adn the two sisters for a graphic image of this not learning from instruction.
Fast forward to today. Does information about the risks of drug use, unprotected sex help? Some, I’m sure. But not as much as we’d like to think…
So, what does God do? he blinds the people (Isaiah 6:9ff; parables in the Gospels) so that we are left without any doubt that our salvation comes only from him. In Isaiah 6 at the end, there is only a stump left. We the vine are a mere stump. And out of that stump, the root of Jesse grows and we are grafted back in as branches.
Yes, we learn from instruction, but not enough to save ourselves. Thanks be to God for his rescue plan!
Anxiety, as I wrote about yesterday, drives us to try to control our future, conceal our flaws, perfect ourselves, just plain worry about tomorrow, and ignore the poor while we hoard good things from God. These are ideas that flow from Luke 12.
And the answer? Is it just don’t do it? What does the passage suggest in place of anxiety–or better yet: in response to anxiety since our God knows we are like sheep and need to be comforted when we are afraid.
1. Consider. Look around and consider the many good things God has and is giving us. When we are in fear mode, all we see are the potential, nay probable, dangers. We are Peter looking down at the waves and all we can see is that the water is deep. Instead, be mindful of God’s handiwork all around you.
2. Fear God. Be awed by his power and might over creation and that in his good pleasure, he created YOU.
3. Hold your goods loosely. Be generous knowing that God will outgive you (however, do not treat this as the health/wealth false prophets who suggest that God will give you what you want). Anyway, you won’t need stuff in heaven so live on the cheap and give to the poor.
4. Be watchful of the better things. Look for evidence of God’s mighty hand rather than the potential for disaster. When you see his power, rejoice.
This is not all the bible has to say about anxiety but merely some thoughts from Luke 12. Consider which response to anxiety you most need to concentrate.