Thinking Out Loud

March 20, 2017

Over-Consumption of Internet Media

Whether it’s Facebook or internet pørn, it’s really easy to spend sections of your day staring at your device, be it phone, tablet, laptop or desktop. There are general principles from scripture I think we do well to remember; these can give us guidance regardless of which type of addiction you’re dealing with.

5 General Principles to Guide Potential Online Addiction

click image to orderSelf-Control

It’s one of the fruit of the Spirit so it deserved to be listed first. We each have this in varying degrees, though some have noticeably less than others, and all of us have times when we wish we’d exercised more. At the slightest impulse that you’ve spent to long on Facebook (or whatever) you need to close the browser and walk away from the screen. (Translations use either temperance or self-control when listing these fruit in Galatians 5, but the Wycliffe uses continence, the opposite of which is…well you know.) (See what I mean? Better self control would have left that alone!)

Mind, Thoughts and Heart

As we’ve written a number of posts here concerning out thought life, let’s just say that it is so important to guard our minds, guard our thoughts and thereby guard and protect our hearts. (See especially this post and the section dealing with our media diet.) We’re told in scripture to take captive the stray thoughts which can do damage. Previous generations contended with this in terms of television and theater. We have such a greater barrage of ideas and philosophies being thrown at us online.

The Stewardship of Our Time

In an increasingly hectic world, time is a precious commodity. We’re given 24 hours each day, no more, no less; and what we do with those is a large measure of our character. (For my article on “redeeming the time,” read this post at C201.) A good measure of this is to realize the things that you might have done, could have done, or should have done in the time you spent on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter… or worse.

Shifting Values

Without getting into specific social issues that face us currently, all of us have felt the pressure to capitulate to the larger culture, or even to the values shift happening in the capital-C Church. Isaiah 5:20 (NLT) reads, “What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.” I can honestly say I have felt the pressure to change my mind on some issues because of internet exposure. On some of the issues, I think readers here would be comfortable, but on others I have realized the need for a reset and re-calibration. Be careful to know why if you sense your worldview shifting.

Misdirected Worship

This may seem a little strong for some readers here, but the things that occupy our time online are really the things we ascribe worth to, and that’s the heart of the word worship. I mentioned internet pørn at the outset, and it’s easy to think terms of people spending hours staring at photographic images, but even those cute cat videos could amount to a case as described in Romans 1:25 (NLT): “…So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself who is worthy of eternal praise!”


David Murray’s outline on media consumption from the book The Happy Christian.

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August 7, 2016

Guys: Do You Deserve Respect, Or Earn Respect?

respect

Through an interesting series of circumstances, today we’re introducing you today to blogger Gene S. Whitehead who tells us that this 2015 article has been the top-performing item at his site. We even have permission to use this! (Well, sort of; it’s a long story…) You can also click the title below and read this at his site in a much nicer font than we have! You might even want to leave a comment…

Respect – Do You Deserve It or Earn It?

Gene WhiteheadMale Respect: Earned or Implied?

Men, put your boots on because I may step on some toes here. Guys: when was it decided that respect was an automatic thing? Who planted this notion into the male mindset that we, simply by being born male are due to receive respect? And whatever happened to respect being something earned and not simply given?

“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” Luke 6:31

The more I interact with my fellow men, I begin to realize to what extent some of the fathers have failed the sons. When a man believes that by being in the position of leader, or head of household, respect is automatic. Not so.

Did you ever have a boss you didn’t respect? Why didn’t you, he was in a position calling for respect, wasn’t he? Did he demand it or expect it but not display the character deserving of respect?

You know the type of person I’m talking about, one who leads by authority and position rather than by character. Does this impact the integrity of that person? How much more so when that person is “leading” a family, when the impact and the fallout are absolutely beyond measure, affecting wives and children?

Now before you dust your Bibles off and start shooting verses at me like fiery arrows, let’s make this first distinction of what I am not talking about:

Positional vs. Earned Respect

“Sow an act and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.” – Charles Reade

True, being in a position of authority does imply some level of respect. That’s called positional authority, meaning absolutely anyone in that position would garner the same exact level of respect.

What you do, who you are, the character of your person while in that position defines whether you build on that respect or if you maintain the respect due to your position, which believe me, isn’t much no matter what you keep telling yourself. “But I’m the man.” Yes. Now act like one and earn what you think you deserve!

Earned respect exists in that place where you have sacrificially related to those whom you are leading, especially our wives and our children.

The irony is this: the less you expect and demand respect, the more you earn when you are present, involved and by character leading the way and learning from your mistakes, and don’t miss this: the more respect you are giving by serving others, the more you deserve and earn.

You see, respect is not automatic, for that is authoritarian. It is earned and that by the things mentioned above: sacrificial love, serving others, being present, giving of your time- all of which build your character.

Titus 2:7 says that we should show ourselves “in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity…”

There Was a Time…

I married young, it was 10 days before my 20th birthday. Admittedly, I was immature and not ready for the position of authority I had found myself in, and much less that following year when my first daughter was born.

Guys, I’m writing this because I was that guy, thinking that I would somehow be miraculously endowed with leadership capabilities deserving of respect. Would you be surprised to know that is not at all how life happened?

That is not to say that there aren’t twenty year old men out there who are ready and able to do what I could not, just as there are men in their thirties, forties, fifties and beyond who still are not ready!

I share this to say that I have been at both ends of this pool, in one end expecting respect and in the other having earned it, and the message is that you do not want to sit in that shallow end of this pool for years like I did.

Men, We Can Do Better

Guys, it doesn’t matter how well or how poorly we may have taught or what kind of examples we have looked to and learned from. We can do better. We must do better.

Everywhere we turn in today’s world, leadership is failing. We see it in governments, schools, journalism, churches and in our very own homes, everywhere around us male leadership is failing. It’s time to stop that ride.

How do we do it?

I can’t tell you there is any single answer to this, there is no magic bullet. but there are most definitely steps I have taken in my own journey.

And because I don’t have all of the answers, I have much more to learn and many more steps to take, but here’s a start:

  • Serve. All the time. You don’t earn (or deserve) respect by being served but by serving and setting examples.
  • Be quick to admit when your at fault, then proceed to make things right.
  • Be even more quick forgiving others of their faults.
  • Be a giver; a giver of your self, your energies and especially your time. There is nothing more valuable that you could give.
  • Speaking of time, value the time you are given to spend with those you love. It can disappear in a flash.

If you are married:

  • Treat your wife as the absolute one of a kind, irreplaceable treasured gift that she is. Even when she’s not acting like one.
  • Be the decision maker but above that, consider carefully the ideas, opinions and especially feelings of your wife. Marriage is a team sport and the decisions we make, men, do not simply affect us. But they do reflect on us.

February 12, 2015

The Sin of Embellishment

Filed under: Church, ethics — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:55 am

Brian Williams NBC Nightly NewsNightly News host Brian Williams was in a war zone traveling in a convoy of airplanes. One came under attack. It was not the plane in which Williams was a passenger. But over time the story morphed into one in which the aircraft he was in sustained mortar fire. Or something like that. The allegation is that the story was therefore falsified by a person of trust, a network news anchor.

He certainly embellished the story. Or fell victim to false memory syndrome. As a result, he’s been suspended, without pay, from hosting the NBC national newscast for six months.

Some say it’s the end of his career.

For readers here, I couldn’t help but notice the similarity between Williams’ embellishment and Mark Driscoll’s plagiarism, though in Driscoll’s case, it may have been but one of many issues that brought down the end of the Washington state megachurch franchise known as Mars Hill.

But when it comes to embellishment, we do this don’t we?

By this I mean both we as individuals, and we as the church.

Individually, we paint an artificial picture of ourselves on social media. We idealize our children’s accomplishments and our recent vacation. We make sure our profile picture minimizes silver hairs or bags under the eyes. We minimize reports of failures and defeats.

Corporately, churches are known for enhancing numbers: Attendance figures, budgets, baptisms, altar call responses, and the number of kids on the Sunday School bus. Whether you call it an ethical lapse or deliberate dishonesty depends on how you interpret what’s been said, where you set the bar, or perhaps recollection of your own failings in this department.

It’s certainly akin to the fishing story; each time around the size of the fish caught gets larger and longer.

We can avoid being guilty of deceit or falsification — those are harsh words after all — by using terms like “approximately” or “as I remember” or even the euphemistic “evangelically speaking;” but the fact remains we tend to recollect the data in an upwards, not downwards direction.

So we need the Brians and the Marks; they serve to remind us that being ‘lax with the facts’ can catch up to us, that sometimes we have to pay the price for not being people whose accounts of things are reliable and dependable. We have to face the consequences of what scripture might describe as not ‘letting our yes be yes and our no be no.’

August 10, 2014

Just Checking In…

When you post every day at a fairly fixed time, and then you take a day off, people do start to wonder… So first, a random graphic from my previously-unused files…

For the word of God is living

 

…followed by a joint-post with Christianity 201 which, ironically was titled “What to Write.”  (The ‘random’ graphic serves as reminder that what we do write is much more powerful when it is saturated with scripture content.)


This morning our speaker opened in prayer quoting Psalm 19:14

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

No pastor, teacher, preacher, author wants to overstep the boundaries of what would be acceptable to God. Many begin Sunday sermons with the prayer, “Hide me behind the cross;” expressing the desire that the cross of Christ be seen first and foremost, not the speaker.

A few days ago, blogger Scott Fillmer quoted from the introduction to The Journals of Jim Elliot.

What is written in these pages I supposed will someday be read by others than myself. For this reason I cannot hope to be absolutely honest in what is herein recorded, for the hypocrisy of this shamming heart will ever he putting on a front and dares not to have written what is actually found in its abysmal depths. Yet, I pray, Lord, that You will make these notations to be as nearly true to fact as is possible so that I may know my own heart and be able to definitely pray regarding my gross, though often unviewed, inconsistencies… these remarks are to be fresh, daily thoughts given from God in meditation on His word.

Elliot had no idea through his martyrdom how many people would want to read his writings. It reminds me of this story:

6While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, 7a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

8When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9“This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

10Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11The poor you will always have with you,a but you will not always have me. 12When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Verse 13, which I’ve underlined is interesting because the woman had no idea that what she was doing would continue to be remembered in perpetuity; but also the agency by which we know the passage that we call Matthew 26; the writer of the gospel could not possibly realize the means by which that story would become part of what we call the New Testament canon, which in turn is part of the bestselling book of all time, which we call The Bible. (Today, many print books are remaindered, declared ‘out of print’ after as little as one year.)

Pause for a moment: Imagine creating something that lives on long after you are gone; of leaving a story so significant that becomes part of the core literature for all generations that follow.

I try to both write God-honoring material here [at Christianity 201], and select God-pleasing material here on the days we borrow from other devotional bloggers and authors. But the totality of my computer output on any given day can contain a variety of topics not all of which are enduring or lasting. Just check Thinking Out Loud, and you get a glimpse of some of the controversies that dog the contemporary church, and each Wednesday at that blog we note some of the stranger things that take place in the name of Christianity. Many of these posts have a “best before” or what the Brits call “sell by” date that’s just a few hours after the post has been published. [That’s why I created C201; I needed the personal balance.]

Elliot’s wish was that God would, “make these notations to be as nearly true to fact as is possible so that I may know my own heart and be able to definitely pray regarding my gross, though often unviewed, inconsistencies.” He desired to be truthful and he desired to be consistent. The gospel of Matthew strived for accuracy. The woman with the alabaster jar courageously broke with tradition as he broke the jar sacrificially, probably not fully realizing the prophetic significance of her actions.

Truth, consistency, accuracy, courage, sacrifice. This is what pleases and honors God.

October 2, 2012

Details, Details

I don’t hear voices. But on Monday I felt an unmistakable prompt to put a devotional here on Thinking Out Loud. My first response was, “No, that’s what Christianity 201 was created for.” But sometimes you do better to listen to those prompts. So here it is. The author, Cloudwatcher writes from a land down under, is a frequent contributor and comment-er at C201, and at 74-years young, is possibly the eldest writer in this blog’s blogroll with her blog, Meeting in the Clouds.  To read this at source, click here.


Oscar Hammerstein II wrote,

“A year or so ago, on the cover of the New York Herald Tribune Sunday magazine, I saw a picture of the Statue of Liberty, taken from a helicopter and it showed the top of the statue’s head. I was amazed at the detail there. The sculptor had done a painstaking job with the lady’s coiffure, and yet he must have been pretty sure that the only eyes that would ever see this detail would be the uncritical eyes of sea gulls. He could not have dreamt that any man would ever fly over this head. He was artist enough, however, to finish off this part of the statue with as much care as he had devoted to her face and her arms, and the torch and everything that people can see as they sail up the bay.”

We can well ask WHY?

Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was the sculptor. He went from France to Egypt in 1856 and was awestruck by the grandeur of the pyramids and the beauty of the stately Sphinx of the desert. His artistic mind was stimulated. Taken by the concept, he decided to design something out of the ordinary. He worked on the concept for 10 years, changing the design many times until he was satisfied.

The result was a colossal robed lady that stood taller than the Sphinx. She held the books of justice in one hand and a torch lifted high in the other.  After Bartholdi returned to France, the French government sought his artistic services. His 10 years of planning and designing culminated in the Statue of Liberty lighting the New York harbor.

The statue of Liberty was built in the late 1800’s. The Statue was completed in France in July, 1884 and arrived in New York Harbor in June 1885. In transit, the Statue was reduced to 350 individual pieces and packed in 214 crates. The Statue was re-assembled on her new pedestal in four months. The dedication of the Statue of Liberty took place in front of thousands of spectators October 28th 1886. President Grover Cleveland, the former New York governor, presided over the event.

The Statue of Liberty stands 305 feet 1 inch or 93 meters in height from the base to the top of the torch.

No planes flew at that time. There were no high rises.  It was not until many years later that airplanes were able to fly above it and the exquisite details and beauty of the top of the head could be observed. Bartholdi could have reasonably argued that such detail on the top was not necessary.

WHY did he, on such a massive job, take so much trouble
on something that he thought would never be seen?

Why?  INTEGRITY.

We see another example of such integrity in the work of MICHELANGELO in his four years labor (1508-12) in painting the very high ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The painted area is about 40 m (131 ft) long by 13 m (43 ft) wide. This means that he painted well over 5,000 square feet (460 m2) of frescoes, carefully perfecting the tiniest details of each figure he painted.

A friend asked him WHY he took such pains, since the figures would only be seen from a great distance, and no one would be able to discern such perfection.

The artist simply answered “I will!”

Why?  INTEGRITY

Integrity is MORE than NOT being deceitful or slipshod.
For the Christian, it means doing everything ‘heartily as unto the Lord‘

Colossians 3:23-24
And whatever you do, do it heartily,
as to the Lord and not unto men;
knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the reward;
for you serve the Lord Christ

We are not called to build a sculptural masterpiece or a great work of art, but the same principle applies.  If no one ever knows of our efforts, our work ethics should be the same.

When it comes to ANYTHING in Christian service,
whether it is ministering to a lonely or needy person,
or sharing the Gospel message,
or singing in the choir,
or teaching children,
or cleaning the Church,
or working behind the scenes,
or playing a major role,
or whatever we do,
we should give 100-plus percent even to the tiniest detail
which “no one will ever notice”.
Our Father will and we serve Him.

1 Corinthians 15:58
Be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

September 17, 2011

‘Til Death — or Alzheimer’s — Do Us Part

Once again, Pat Robertson has been boldly going where no theologian has gone before, in suggesting that it’s okay for the spouse of someone in later stages of Alzheimer’s Disease to divorce that person.  From the CT Live Blog:

Pat Robertson advised a viewer of yesterday’s 700 Club to avoid putting a “guilt trip” on those who want to divorce a spouse with Alzheimer’s. During the show’s advice segment, a viewer asked Robertson how she should address a friend who was dating another woman “because his wife as he knows her is gone.” Robertson said he would not fault anyone for doing this. He then went further by saying it would be understandable to divorce a spouse with the disease.

“That is a terribly hard thing,” Robertson said. “I hate Alzheimer’s. It is one of the most awful things because here is a loved one—this is the woman or man that you have loved for 20, 30, 40 years. And suddenly that person is gone. They’re gone. They are gone. So, what he says basically is correct. But I know it sounds cruel, but if he’s going to do something he should divorce her and start all over again. But to make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her.”

Co-host Terry Meeuwsen asked Pat, “But isn’t that the vow that we take when we marry someone? That it’s For better or for worse. For richer or poorer?”

Robertson said that the viewer’s friend could obey this vow of “death till you part” because the disease was a “kind of death.” Robertson said he would understand if someone started another relationship out of a need for companionship.

…continue reading here…

CT Also invited Russell D. Moore to post a response:

…Marriage, the Scripture tells us, is an icon of something deeper, more ancient, more mysterious. The marriage union is a sign, the Apostle Paul announces, of the mystery of Christ and his church (Eph. 5). The husband, then, is to love his wife “as Christ loved the church” (Eph. 5:25). This love is defined not as the hormonal surge of romance but as a self-sacrificial crucifixion of self. The husband pictures Christ when he loves his wife by giving himself up for her.

At the arrest of Christ, his Bride, the church, forgot who she was, and denied who he was. He didn’t divorce her. He didn’t leave.

The Bride of Christ fled his side, and went back to their old ways of life. When Jesus came to them after the resurrection, the church was about the very thing they were doing when Jesus found them in the first place: out on the boats with their nets. Jesus didn’t leave. He stood by his words, stood by his Bride, even to the Place of the Skull, and beyond.

A woman or a man with Alzheimer’s can’t do anything for you. There’s no romance, no sex, no partnership, not even companionship. That’s just the point. Because marriage is a Christ/church icon, a man loves his wife as his own flesh. He cannot sever her off from him simply because she isn’t “useful” anymore…

…continue reading here…

After reading that, I noted that Zach Nielsen had linked to a classic 2004 CT article by Robertson McQuilkin, written shortly after his resignation from Columbia Bible College and Seminary; a resignation that he felt was necessitated after his wife Muriel was dealing with the same disease:

…As she needed more and more of me, I wrestled daily with the question of who gets me full-time-Muriel or Columbia Bible College and Seminary? Dr. Tabor advised me not to make any decision based on my desire to see Muriel stay contented. “Make your plans apart from that question. Whether or not you can be successful in your dreams for the college and seminary or not, I cannot judge, but I can tell you now, you will not be successful with Muriel.”

When the time came, the decision was firm. It took no great calculation. It was a matter of integrity. Had I not promised, 42 years before, “in sickness and in health . . . till death do us part”?

This was no grim duty to which I stoically resigned, however. It was only fair. She had, after all, cared for me for almost four decades with marvelous devotion; now it was my turn. And such a partner she was! If I took care of her for 40 years, I would never be out of her debt.

…read the full article here…

Eugene Cho responds:

Let’s be honest here. Sickness or not…Marriage is hard. Utterly hard. Incredibly beautiful but utterly hard. It’s the most difficult and profoundly beautiful thing I have ever experienced thus far in my near 41 years of life. But our vows to one another and to God speaks to a deeper covenant that transcends our earthly circumstances and situations – even sickness.

In these days of pessimism, I do hope that our words and lives speak and testify to a more deeper portrait of Christ’s utter devotion to his creation and His people. In these days where people – including and perhaps, especially Christians – have grown deeply cynical about marriage, commitment, and covenant, we need a better answer. We need a more godly answer; We need a more biblical response; We need a more Christ-like response.

…read his comments and watch a video clip from The 700 Club…

Get Religion looks at the media handling of Pat Robertson’s latest pronouncement:

…Such comments might not be shocking from advice givers who embrace relativism but even for the ever-quotable Robertson, they were bizarre.

…read that one here…

For the last word on this today, we go to Matthew Lee Anderson at The Washington Post:

…[T]he reaction to Robertson’s remarks was surprisingly unified: the condemnation was swift, strong, and universal–especially among the demographic that Robertson purportedly speaks for, evangelicals…

…While it might seem somewhat paradoxical, the uproar is an encouraging sign for those who want marriage to be a vibrant and healthy institution in American society. The widespread recognition that such a divorce would be rooted in a desire for personal convenience suggests we have not yet forgotten that the sacrifice necessary to make marriage work is a heroic sacrifice that often returns nothing–at least not immediately–to those who make it. The sacredness of marriage exists precisely in the opportunity to keep our word, regardless of the personal cost. And the vow exists to guide us and remind us of those possibilities precisely when the cost seems the highest.

One need not be a Christian, of course, to affirm that this sort of self-sacrifice is important for marriage. But it is more difficult, if not impossible, to uphold a definition marriage that has stripped out the sacrifice. The tragic beauty of marriage is that when we enter it, we are not yet capable of loving one another as we ought, but that such a possibility lies before us. But to arrive at our destination, we must discover that the path leads through the thickets of forgiveness and the trials of self-denial. Marriage enables and requires the acquisition of this virtue, the recognition that the other’s interest is more important than our own.

We can see this in the extreme circumstances like that which was posed to Pat Robertson and which he so abysmally failed to respond to appropriately…

…read that item here…

What do you think?  Is this not a case of advocating situation ethics?

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