Thursday, May 20, 2010

Busy Busier Busiest

So, why are you so busy?

Some stay busy because of fear. They fear thinking about either their past sins, their present sorrows, or their future death. Some stay busy because the want things. They want riches or toys and those things come with hard work. I've seen teens work themselves to the bone on top of school all so they can afford a shiny car. Many of them, when questioned, cannot come up with a good reason why they need a car at all. They say something like, "How would I get to work if I didn't have a car?" Seriously. Still others stay busy for status or power. We look up to our workaholics in America. We pride ourselves on our frenzy of activities. We even one-up each other in conversations with friends and acquaintances: "You think you're busy? You should see my schedule!!!"

Ultimately, busy people want happiness. But busyness never delivers. Socrates is famously quoted as saying, "Beware the barrenness of a busy life." As he observed the people around him he noticed that busy people make the world go round, but the world did not go round well. The problem with the fact that the world is run by people burning candles from the north and south is that they seldom slow down enough to really process whether or not things are moving in the right direction.

For the Christian this subject is of even greater importance than for his counterpart. If we look to Jesus as our example we see that he "often withdrew to lonely places to pray."* Clearly, he placed a premium on what has been called soul care. Elsewhere, God called to his people and said, "Be still, and know that I am God."** For a believer to miss this point is to miss the whole point of our faith. Being a Christian is supposed to be about relationship, not activity. For example, what kind of relationships do men or women have with their families if they are constantly working, or out in town doing who knows what? They'll inevitably respond, "But, I'm doing it for them!" or "Lord, I'm doing all this for you!"

Here is the point. If, in our busyness, we cannot be still to just be with God, we miss the point of being in a relationship at all. It is barrenness.

So what can we do? My suggestions may not sound exciting, but they'll work.
1. Schedule time in your planner to be with God. Treat these times as nonnegotiable appointments. You don't have to say, "Sorry, I can't do that 'cuz I have to spend time with God then." Say, "I have an appointment with someone very important to me," instead.
2. Learn to say, "no." If your plate is too full you'll never eat all of it. Even if you can you'll be miserable afterward.
3. Take walks. At WBC we are planning to carve a prayer walk through the woods behind the church. Walking is a great way to get perspective.
4. Start a Bible reading plan. If you don't, the conversation will always be one sided with God.

Let's fight barrenness together.

*Luke 5:16
**Psalm 46:10

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Conviction and Conversion

It seems that I have had a spike in conversations with people about individuals who fit the Apostle John's description: "They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us."* Clearly there are some that fool the rest of us (and even themselves in some cases) into thinking they are truly born again. In many cases the person in question shares the blame with the one who introduced him or her to Christ. 

I cringe when I think how many Sunday School children have been told, "Wanna go to heaven--then, pray this prayer." Afterward parents are told, "Jimmy gave his heart to Jesus." Or something to that effect. I believe that in many such cases we reinforce the likelihood of their damnation, not cure it. How so? By telling someone that salvation is merely a matter of "trusting Jesus" we give them a false sense of security that can insulate them against true conversion.**

Who then is a true convert? Who is it that is truly "born again?" Let me illustrate through the life of one of the past century's most interesting figures. Chuck Colson (pictured) was a brilliant lawyer who became Special Counsel to President Richard Nixon. Colson was often referred to as Nixon's "hatchet man" for his willingness to do whatever needed to be done--ethically or not--to advance the standing of his boss. During Nixon's campaign Colson was reported to have said he would run over his own grandmother to get Nixon elected. But it all came crashing down when the Watergate scandal broke into public consciousness in 1973. 

During the investigation Colson visited a friend's house and was confronted with the Gospel. His response to that conversation is both honest and profoundly important, for it shows us what must happen for a man to be born again. Colson said, "that night when I left my friend and sat alone in my car, my own sin-not just Watergate, but the evil deep within-was thrust before me by the conviction of the Holy Spirit, forcefully and painfully. For the first time in my life I felt unclean. Yet I could not turn away. I was as helpless as the thief on that cross, and what I saw within me was so ugly I could do nothing but cry out to God for help."***  

It was the conviction of sin that caused Colson to cry out to God for help. What has happened to this understanding today? We must recover the doctrine of sin and depravity from the clutches of relativism and self-help psychology if men are to be saved. Unless a man be convinced of his sinfulness he will never cry out for the help of God. 


*1 John 2:19

**Some may argue after reading this that conversion for children, who have had little experience "sinning" must be converted by a different emphasis than the man who has spent a lifetime in gross immorality. After all, aren't kids mostly innocent? Wouldn't it damage them psychologically to tell them they are sinners and that they should feel remorse for their wrongdoings? I contend that if a child is not old enough to understand depravity they are not old enough to understand redemption. I think it worthy of note that, "Repent" was one of the first recorded public words of Jesus. If repentance is not a part of our Gospel message then it is no gospel at all.

**Colson, Chuck. Loving God (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983) p.121  Chuck Colson was convicted of obstruction of justice and served 7 months of a 3 year prison sentence for his role in the Watergate Cover-up. His conversion was viewed with much scepticism by many in the media. Even after his prison term was served he was watched. Many wondered when he would recant and prove that he had used Christianity as means to elicit public sympathy. 

Thursday, May 06, 2010


What are you doing? Are you doing something?
What are you thinking? What are you thinking about?

Here is Screwtape instructing Wormwood:
"The Christians describe the Enemy (God) as one 'without whom Nothing is strong'. And Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man's best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them relish, but which once chance association has started them, the creature (human) is too weak and fuddled to shake off." p.60

How goes the spark of thought or the twinkle in your eye? Do you see possibilities and strongholds falling? Do you find it hard to sit still? Are you on hell's most wanted list?

Or, are you listing here or there, dabbling a bit but never really digging in. Nothing is worse than the nothing we can do while thinking we are up to something.