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The Poison of Subjectivism , by C.S. Lewis

One cause of misery and vice is always present with us in the greed and pride of men, but at certain periods in history this is greatly increased by the temporary prevalence of some false philosophy. Correct thinking will not make good men of bad ones; but a purely theoretical error may remove ordinary checks to evil and deprive good intentions of their natural support. An error of this sort is abroad at present. I am not referring to the Power philosophies of the Totalitarian states, but to something that goes deeper and spreads wider and which, indeed, has given these Power philosophies their golden opportunity. I am referring to Subjectivism.

After studying his environment man has begun to study himself. Up to that point, he had assumed his own reason and through it seen all other things. Now, his own reason has become the object: it is as if we took out our eyes to look at them. Thus studied, his own reason appears to him as the epiphenomenona which accompanies chemical or electrical events in a cortex which is itself the by-product of a blind evolutionary process. His own logic, hitherto the king whom events in all possible worlds must obey, becomes merely subjective. There is no reason for supposing that it yields truth.

As long as this dethronement refers only to the theoretical reason, it cannot be wholehearted. The scientist has to assume the validity of his own logic (in the stout old fashion of Plato or Spinoza) even in order to prove that it is merely subjective, and therefore he can only flirt with subjectivism. It is true that this flirtation sometimes goes pretty far. There are modern scientists, I am told, who have dropped the words truth and reality out of their vocabulary and who hold that the end of their work is not to know what is there but simply to get practical results. This is, no doubt, a bad symptom. But, in the main, subjectivism is such an uncomfortable yokefellow for research that the danger, in this quarter, is continually counteracted.

But when we turn to practical reason the ruinous effects are found operating in full force. By practical reason I mean our judgement of good and evil. If you are surprised that I include this under the heading of reason at all, let me remind you that your surprise is itself one result of the subjectivism I am discussing. Until modern times no thinker of the first rank ever doubted that our judgements of value were rational judgements or that what they discovered was objective. It was taken for granted that in temptation passion was opposed, not to some sentiment, but to reason. Thus Plato thought, thus Aristotle, thus Hooker, Butler and Doctor Johnson. The modern view is very different. It does not believe that value judgements are really judgements at all. They are sentiments, or complexes, or attitudes, produced in a community by the pressure of its environment and its traditions, and differing from one community to another. To say that a thing is good is merely to express our feeling about it; and our feeling about it is the feeling we have been socially conditioned to have.

But if this is so, then we might have been conditioned to feel otherwise. “Perhaps,” thinks the reformer or the educational expert, “it would be better if we were. Let us improve our morality.” Out of this apparently innocent idea comes the disease that will certainly end our species (and, in my view, damn our souls) if it is not crushed; the fatal superstition that men can create values, that a community can choose its “ideology” as men choose their clothes. Everyone is indignant when he hears the Germans define justice as that which is to the interest of the Third Reich. But it is not always remembered that this indignation is perfectly groundless if we ourselves regard morality as a subjective sentiment to be altered at will. Unless there is some objective standard of good, overarching Germans, Japanese, and ourselves alike whether any of us obey it or no, then of course the Germans are as competent to create their ideology as we are to create ours. If “good” and “better” are terms deriving their sole meaning from the ideology of each people, then of course ideologies themselves cannot be better or worse than one another. Unless the measuring rod is independent of the things measured, we can do no measuring. For the same reason it is useless to compare the moral ideas of one age with those of another: progress and decadence are alike meaningless words.

All this is so obvious that it amounts to an identical proposition. But how little it is now understood can be gauged from the procedure of the moral reformer who, after saying that “good” means “what we are conditioned to like” goes on cheerfully to consider whether it might be “better” that we should be conditioned to like something else. What in Heaven’s name does he mean by “better”?

He usually has at the back of his mind the notion that if he throws over traditional judgement of value, he will find something else, something more “real” or “solid” on which to base a new scheme of values. He will say, for example, “We must abandon irrational taboos and base our values on the good of the community” – as if the maxim “Thou shalt promote the good of the community’ were anything more than a polysyllabic variant of ‘Do as you would be done by’ which has itself no other basis than the old universal value judgement that he claims to be rejecting. Or he will endeavor to base his values on biology and tell us that we must act thus and thus for the preservation of our species. Apparently he does not anticipate the question, ‘Why should the species be preserved?’ He takes it for granted that it should, because he is really relying on traditional judgements of value. If he were starting, as he pretends, with a clean slate, he could never reach this principle. Sometimes he tries to do so by falling back on “instinct.” “We have an instinct to preserve our species”, he may say. But have we? And if we have, who told us that we must obey our instincts? And why should we obey this instinct in the teeth of many others which conflict with the preservation of the species? The reformer knows that some instincts are to be obeyed more than others only because he is judging instincts by a standard, and the standard is, once more, the traditional morality which he claims to be superseding. The instincts themselves obviously cannot furnish us with grounds for grading the instincts in a hierarchy. If you do not bring a knowledge of their comparative respectability to your study of them, you can never derive it from them.

This whole attempt to jettison traditional values as something subjective and to substitute a new scheme of values for them is wrong. It is like trying to lift yourself by your own coat collar. Let us get two propositions written into our minds with indelible ink.

1)The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of planting a new sun in the sky or a new primary colour in the spectrum.

2)Every attempt to do so consists in arbitrarily selecting some one maxim of traditional morality, isolating it from the rest, and erecting it into an unum necessarium.

The second proposition will bear a little illustration. Ordinary morality tells us to honour our parents and cherish our children. By taking the second precept alone you construct a Futurist Ethic in which the claim of “posterity” are the sole criterion. Ordinary morality tells us to keep promises and also to feed the hungry. By taking the second precept alone you get a Communist Ethic in which “production,” and distribution of the products to the people, are the sole criteria. Ordinary morality tells us, ceteris paribus, to love our kindred and fellow citizens more than strangers. By isolating this precept you can get either an Aristocratic Ethic with the claims of our class as sole criterion, or a Racialist Ethic where no claims but those of blood are acknowledged. These monomaniac systems are then used as a ground from which to attack traditional morality; but absurdly, since it is from traditional morality alone that they derive such semblance of validity as they possess. Starting from scratch, with no assumptions about value, we could reach none of them. If reverence for parents or promises is a mere subjective by-product of physical nature, so is reverence for race or posterity. The trunk to whose root the reformer would lay the axe is the only support of the particular branch he wishes to retain.

All idea of “new” or “scientific” or “modern” moralities must therefore be dismissed as mere confusion of thought. We have only two alternatives. Either the maxims of traditional morality must be accepted as axioms of practical reason which neither admit nor require argument to support them and not to “see” which is to have lost human status; or else there are no values at all, what we mistook for values being “projections” of irrational emotions. It is perfectly futile, after having dismissed traditional morality with the question, ‘Why should we obey it?’ then to attempt the reintroduction of value at some later stage in our philosophy. Any value we reintroduce can be countered in just the same way. Every argument used to support it will be an attempt to derive from premises in the indicative mood a conclusion in the imperative. And this is impossible.

Against this view the modern mind has two lines of defence. The first claims that traditional morality is different in different times and places – in fact, that there is not one morality but a thousand. The second exclaims that to tie ourselves to an immutable moral code is to cut off all progress and acquiesce in stagnation. Both are unsound.

3Let us take the second one first. And let us strip it of the illegitimate emotional power it derives from the word ‘stagnation’ with its suggestion of puddles and mantled pools. If water stands too long it stinks. To infer thence that whatever stands long must be unwholesome is to be the victim of metaphor. Space does not stink because it has preserved its three dimensions from the beginning. The square on the hypotenuse has not gone moldy by continuing to equal the sum of the squares on the other two sides. Love is not dishonored by constancy, and when we wash our hands we are seeking stagnation and “putting the clock back,” artificially restoring our hands to the status quo in which they began the day and resisting the natural trend of events which would increase their dirtiness steadily from our birth to our death. For the emotive term ‘stagnant’ let us substitute the descriptive term ‘permanent.’ Does a permanent moral standard preclude progress? On the contrary, except on the supposition of a changeless standard, progress is impossible. If good is a fixed point, it is at least possible that we should get nearer and nearer to it; but if the terminus is as mobile as the train, how can the train progress towards it? Our ideas of the good may change, but they cannot change either for the better or the worse if there is no absolute and immutable good to which they can recede. We can go on getting a sum more and more nearly right only if the one perfectly right is “stagnant”.

And yet it will be said, I have just admitted that our ideas of good may improve. How is this to be reconciled with the view that “traditional morality” is a depositum fidei which cannot be deserted? The answer can be understood if we compare a real moral advance with a mere innovation. From the Stoic and Confucian, “Do not do to others what you would not like them to do to you”; to the Christian, “Do as you would be done by” is a real advance. The morality of Nietzsche is a mere innovation. The first is an advance because no one who did not admit the validity of the old maxim could see reason for accepting the new one, and anyone who accepted the old would at once recognize the new as an extension of the same principle. If he rejected it, he would have to reject it as a superfluity, something that went too far, not as something simply heterogeneous from his own ideas of value. But the Nietzschean ethic can be accepted only if we are ready to scrap traditional morals as a mere error and then to put ourselves in a position where we can find no ground for any value judgements at all. It is the difference between a man who says to us: “You like your vegetables moderately fresh; why not grow your own and have them perfectly fresh?” and a man who says, “Throw away that loaf and try eating bricks and centipedes instead.” Real moral advances, in fine, are made from within the existing moral tradition and in the spirit of that tradition and can be understood only in the light of that tradition. The outsider who has rejected the tradition cannot judge them. He has, as Aristotle said, no arche, no premises.

And what of the second modern objection – that the ethical standards of different cultures differ so widely that there is no common tradition at all? The answer is that is a lie – a good, solid, resounding lie. If a man will go into a library and spend a few days with the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics he will soon discover the massive unanimity of the practical reason in man. From the Babylonian Hymn to Samos, from the Laws of Manu, the Book of the Dead, the Analects, the Stoics, the Platonists, from Australian aborigines and Redskins, he will collect the same triumphantly monotonous denunciations of oppression, murder, treachery, and falsehood, the same injunctions of kindness to the aged, the young, and the weak, of almsgiving and impartiality and honesty. He may be a little surprised (I certainly was) to find that precepts of mercy are more frequent than precepts of justice; but he will no longer doubt that there is such a thing as the Law of Nature. There are, of course, differences. There are even blindnesses in particular cultures – just as there are savages who cannot count up to twenty. But the pretence that we are presented with a mere chaos – though no outline of universally accepted value shows through – is wherever it is simply false and should be contradicted in season and out of season wherever it is met. Far from finding a chaos, we find exactly what we should expect if good is indeed something objective and reason the organ whereby it is apprehended – that is, a substantial agreement with considerable local differences of emphasis and, perhaps, no one code that includes everything.

The two grand methods of obscuring this agreement are these: First, you can concentrate on those divergences about sexual morality which most serious moralists regard as belonging to positive rather than to Natural Law, but which rouse strong emotions. Differences about the definition of incest or between polygamy and monogamy come under this head. (It is untrue to say that the Greeks thought sexual perversion innocent. The continual tittering of Plato is really more evidential than the stern prohibition of Aristotle. Men titter thus only about what they regard as, at least, a peccadillo: the jokes about drunkenness in Pickwick, far from proving that the nineteenth-century English thought it innocent, prove the reverse. There is an enormous difference of degree between the Greek view of perversion and the Christian, but there is not opposition.) The second method is to treat as differences in the judgement of value what are really differences in belief about fact. Thus human sacrifice, or persecution of witches, are cited as evidence of a radically different morality. But the real difference lies elsewhere. We do not hunt witches because we disbelieve in their existence. We do not kill men to avert pestilence because we do not think pestilence can thus be averted. We do “sacrifice” men in war, and we do hunt spies and traitors.

So far I have been considering the objections which unbelievers bring against the doctrine of objective value, or the Law of Nature. But in our days we must be prepared to meet objections from Christians too. “Humanism” and “liberalism” are coming to be used simply as terms of disapprobation, and both are likely to be so used of the position I am taking up. Behind them lurks a real theological problem. If we accept the primary platitudes of practical reason as the unquestioned premises of all action, are we thereby trusting our own reason so far that we ignore the Fall, and are retrogressively turning our absolute allegiance away from a person to an abstraction?

As regards the Fall, I submit that the general tenor of scripture does not encourage us to believe that our knowledge of the Law has been depraved in the same degree as our power to fulfil it. He would be a brave man who claimed to realize the fallen condition of man more clearly than St. Paul. In that very chapter (Roman 7) where he asserts most strongly our inability to keep the moral law he also asserts most confidently that we perceive the Law’s goodness and rejoice in it according to the inward man. Our righteousness may be filthy and ragged, but Christianity gives us no ground for holding that our perceptions of right are in the same condition. They may, no doubt, be impaired; but there is a difference between imperfect sight and blindness. A theology which goes about to represent our practical reason as radically unsound is heading for disaster. If we once admit that what God means by “goodness” is sheerly different from what we judge to be good, there is no difference left between pure religion and devil worship.

The other objection is much more formidable. If we once grant that our practical reason is really reason and that its fundamental imperatives are as absolute and categorical as they claim to be, then unconditional allegiance to them is the duty of man. So is absolute allegiance to God. And these two allegiances must, somehow, be the same. But how is the relation between God and the moral law to be represented? To say that the moral law is God’s law is no final solution. Are these things right because God commands them or does God command them because they are right? If the first, if good is to be defined as what God commands, then the goodness of God Himself is emptied of meaning and the commands of an omnipotent fiend would have the same claim on us as those of the “righteous Lord.” If the second, then we seem to be admitting a cosmic dyarchy, or even making God himself the mere executor of a law somehow external and antecedent to His own being. Both views are intolerable.

At this point we must remind ourselves that Christian theology does not believe God to be a person. It believes Him to be such that in Him a trinity of persons is consistent with a unity of Deity. In that sense it believes Him to be something very different from a person, just as a cube, in which six squares are consistent with unity of the body, is different from a square. (Flatlanders, attempting to imagine a cube, would either imagine the six squares coinciding, and thus destroy their distinctness, or else imagine them set out side by side, and thus destroy the unity. Our difficulties about the Trinity are of much the same kind.) It is therefore possible that the duality which seems to force itself upon us when we think, first, of our Father in Heaven, and, secondly, of the self-evident imperatives of the moral law, is not a mere error but a real (though inadequate and creaturely) perception of things that would necessarily be two in any mode of being which enters our experience, but which are not so divided in the absolute being of the superpersonal God. When we attempt to think of a person and a law, we are compelled to think of this person either as obeying the law or as making it. And when we think of Him as making it we are compelled to think of Him either as making it in conformity to some yet more ultimate pattern of goodness (in which case that pattern, and not He, would be supreme) or else as making it arbitrarily by a sic volo, sic jubeo (in which case He would be neither good nor wise). But it is probably just here that our categories betray us. It would be idle, with our merely mortal resources, to attempt a positive correction of our categories – ambulavi in mirabilibus supra me. But it might be permissible to lay down two negations: that God neither obeys nor creates the moral law. The good is uncreated; it never could have been otherwise; it has in it no shadow of contingency; it lies, as Plato said, on the other side of existence. It is the Rita of the Hindus by which the gods themselves are divine, the Tao of the Chinese from which all realities proceed. But we, favoured beyond the wisest pagans, know what lies beyond existence, what admits no contingency, what lends divinity to all else, what is the ground of all existence, is not simply a law but also a begetting love, a love begotten, and the love which, being these two, is also imminent in all those who are caught up to share the unity of their self-caused life. God is not merely good, but goodness; goodness is not merely divine, but God.

These may seem fine-spun speculations: yet I believe that nothing short of this can save us. A Christianity which does not see moral and religious experience converging to meet at infinity, not at a negative infinity, but in the positive infinity of the living yet superpersonal God, has nothing, in the long run, to divide it from devil worship; and a philosophy which does not accept value as eternal and objective can lead us only to ruin. Nor is the matter of merely speculative importance. Many a popular “planner” on a democratic platform, many a mild-eyed scientist in a democratic laboratory means, in the last resort, just what the Fascist means. He believes that “good” means whatever men are conditioned to approve. He believes that it is the function of him and his kind to condition men; to create consciences by eugenics, psychological manipulation of infants, state education and mass propaganda. Because he is confused, he does not yet fully realize that those who create conscience cannot be subject to conscience themselves. But he must awake to the logic of his position sooner or later; and when he does, what barrier remains between us and the final division of the race into a few conditioners who stand themselves outside morality and the many conditioned in whom such morality as the experts choose is produced at the experts’ pleasure? If “good” means only the local ideology, how can those who invent the local ideology be guided by any idea of good themselves? The very idea of freedom presupposes some objective moral law which overarches rulers and ruled alike. Subjectivism about values is eternally incompatible with democracy. We and our rulers are of one kind only so long as we are subject to one law. But if there is no Law of Nature, the ethos of any society is the creation of its rulers, educators and conditioners; and every creator stands above and outside his creation.

Unless we return to the crude and nursery-like belief in objective values, we perish. If we do, we may live, and such a return might have one minor advantage. If we believed in the absolute reality of elementary moral platitudes, we should value those who solicit our votes by other standards than have recently been in fashion. While we believe that good is something to be invented, we demand of our rulers such qualities as “vision,” “dynamism,” “creativity,” and the like. If we returned to the objective view we should demand qualities much rarer, and much more beneficial – virtue, knowledge, diligence and skill. ‘Vision’ is for sale, or claims to be for sale, everywhere. But give me a man who will do a day’s work for a day’s pay, who will refuse bribes, who will not make up his facts, and who has learned his job.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2015 in Culture, Teaching, Uncategorized

 

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We Need Each Other

We Need Each Other

“let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” -Hebrews 10:24,25

Notice the language in this passage: us; one another; our; assembling together… without question God wants the church to be united.

Jesus prayed that we would “be one” (John 17:22) and when the church is assembled, united in the purpose of receiving instruction, worship, and service, -that prayer is fulfilled.

Notice the word “stimulate” – that’s the Greek word paroxusmos and can mean sharpen or provoke.
This is what happens when we stick together, we sharpen each other’s faith and walk. The wisdom of the proverbs puts it this way: “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17

So what happens when members of the body of Christ decide to withdraw or not participate or assemble together?

History provides a great lesson in this regard… when the children of Israel entered the promised land, there were two and a half tribes that did not want to go in to the land with the rest of the nation. They found land east of the Jordan that they felt was “better for them.”
Although God wanted the nation to dwell and participate together, these tribes were allowed to settle apart from the rest of the nation.
Over time those tribes faded out of the record of the nation. They produced no great heroes or prophets, and are gone from the annuls of history.

Staying together is not always easy, and there are legitimate reasons to part company with a particular group, but “not gathering together” is both unbiblical and unwise.

When individuals withdraw from the church, both the individual as well as the church suffer loss. Sometimes that loss can be significant.

Paul gave us the image of the body in terms of our human body, with limbs and parts that all work together as a whole (1 Corinthians 12). He says: “God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired” – 1 Cor 12:18
This is God’s work!

Imagine if your eye decided it no longer wanted to be a part of your body. What if it could separate itself from you.. just pop out and run away!
It would quickly wither and die, and the rest of the body would suffer.
Just as the body needs the individual parts, the individual needs the body.

Christian, don’t listen to the voices that claim that there are deficiencies in the corporate church gathering and that withdrawing is the answer. There will always be problems in every church and every family, because we are all broken sinners. Remember that this is God’s plan, method, and expression in this current age.

We need each other, and it could be, that we need your ideas, gifting, and input to make us all better!

 
 

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Shame Killer

It is no secret that most men hide from God in fear. We are afraid of His righteous judgement, and we have a misunderstanding of His character, always expecting disapproval. So, we hide in shame. We see this exemplified back in the garden when God comes looking for Adam and Eve…

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”
He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” -Genesis 3:8-10 (NASB)

From that day to this, men and women still hide from Him, -and for much the same reasons.
There is a great story tucked away in 2 Samuel, that perhaps all of us can identify with. It’s the story of a young man named Mephibosheth. Yes, say that ten times fast!
Mephibosheth is the grandson of King Saul, and the son of Jonathan, David’s great friend. As a young boy of five, he had become lame in both feet. We read in 2 Samuel 4, he was dropped in an accident when his nursemaid, upon hearing the news that his father and grandfather had perished, rushed to escape their home. There would have been great cause to flee, as it was routine for newly appointed kings to seek to extinguish the life of all other claimants to the throne.

When we get to 2 Samuel 9, we see David now firmly established as the King of all Israel, and he seeks out members of Saul’s household whom he can bless. (David is wanting to fulfill a promise that he made to Jonathan recorded in 1 Samuel 20:12-17.) David has to search out this surviving young man Mephibosheth, who, no doubt, is hiding. When David summons him, Mephibosheth comes to David, but in terror. The gracious King comforts him right away, telling him to not be afraid, and then begins to pour out on this poor lame man, all of the blessings at his sovereign disposal. David grants to him all of his Grandfather’s possessions and land along with servants. Beyond that, David receives this cripple into his own home, inviting him to dine at his table freely as often as he pleases.

What once was Mephibosheth’s inheritance, having been forfeited because of sin, is restored to him by the gracious king. What a beautiful picture of God’s grace this is. All of us are like Mephibosheth, fearfully living under a sentence of death. Crippled by sin, we are invited to come to the King, yet we are reluctant, having nothing to offer and ashamed of our helpless condition. Mephibosheth means “shame dispeller” -I like to call him “shame killer.”
This story is incredibly deep. The longer you consider it, in light of the gospel, the more you see the picture of the grace that is ours in Jesus.

In a day when self reliance is considered such a noble goal, the gospel invites us to come, not based upon anything good in us, but in the good grace of the King who invites us.

We are invited to come, in abject humility.
We are invited to come, though we have nothing to offer.
We are invited to come, based on the work and relationship of another.
We are invited to come, and partake of a promise.
We are invited to come, and be blessed, even though society would cast us away.

As Mephibosheth comes, and receives, he never becomes more than a recipient of God’s grace.
Though good for nothing in the world eyes, and without glory apart from grace, is used for the glory of the King.
The shame that was once his, is dispelled… effectively killed… by that very grace.
I’m reminded of the old hymn:

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, of that free love
The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
Here for a season, then above,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2014 in Meditation, Teaching

 

Running The Race, Forgetting Why.

People are running. Running for this, running for that, busy, busy, running. We are engaged in all variety of activities, be it sports, entertainment, self improvement, working, etc.

Our days are full, but for many, our hearts are empty. It’s like we are running a race with no goal in mind -a race with no finish line, and no trophy. These days everyone gets a trophy, just for running, without regard for who wins. Winning is out of fashion.

Christians ought to take caution with this mentality. Life is not just about living. We are engaged in a battle, and it’s a battle with purpose. Not everyone wins. Many die. We can be so consumed with the enjoyment of running and the few dividends along the way that we settle for the lesser purpose -the run.

One time (long ago) someone paid me an unusual compliment. They said: “you have good form when you run.” It’s a true story! Now, I’ve never been a tremendous athlete, but I’ve been proud of that compliment from that day to this. We can be so tricked into pride, so content with accomplishment, that the self-satisfaction of form begins to be the goal.

There is a great story hidden in the pages of the Old Testament, one that I learned and have taught many times. On the occasion of the death of David’s son Absalom, someone needed to run and tell the king, the terrible news. This man Ahimaaz insisted on running, he wanted to be the bearer of the news. As the story goes, in 2 Samuel 18, he evidently had a lot of skill in running. His “form” was good, recognizable from a distance. But when he got to the end of his race, he failed with the purpose of his effort.

The king said, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent the king’s servant, and your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I did not know what it was.” 2 Samuel 18:29

He ran for the glory of the run. He accomplished nothing.

“Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.” -Ecclesiastes 2:11

Friend, be careful that you are not running without the goal of victory.
Now, when it comes to life and death, we know that Jesus is our victory, our only hope, and we rest in that. However, salvation is not intended to produce in us a laziness. Spiritual laziness is foreign to our faith.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” -Hebrews 12:1

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” -1 Corinthians 9:24-27

At the end of our race, there will be winners and losers, and only one laurel will be awarded -to those who ran the race well, with the purpose of the Master. There will be no rewards for good intentions, or worldly accomplishments -none.

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ -Matthew 25:21

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2014 in Meditation, Real Life, Teaching

 

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“he hath dainty poisons sweet to the taste”

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

I like what *Spurgeon said about this verse:
We note Satan’s goal: seeking whom he may devour. He isn’t just looking to lick or nibble on his prey; he wants to devour. “He can never be content till he sees the believer utterly devoured. He would rend him in pieces, and break his bones and utterly destroy him if he could. Do not, therefore, indulge the thought, that the main purpose of Satan is to make you miserable. He is pleased with that, but that is not his ultimate end. Sometimes he may even make you happy, for he hath dainty poisons sweet to the taste which he administers to God’s people. If he feels that our destruction can be more readily achieved by sweets than by bitters, he certainly would prefer that which would best effect his end.”

I’m reminded of Edmond’s affection for Turkish Delight in Lewis’ “The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe.” It’s often times something that delights the senses that the devil uses to kill you. It could be a friendly smile from a coworker, a feeling of personal freedom that leads to indulgence, even a moment of “righteous” anger. Be aware! He will use “a feeling” to bait his snare.

You might ask, “why would the devil care about me?” To answer that, would require understanding not just his mission: to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10), but his character. His character is perverse. Why does a grown man harm a little child? Because of perversion. The devil wants to destroy any, and every, soul he can. It’s who he is.

One of his tricks is also to get us to believe the “little ‘ol me” syndrome. (Yes, I made that up)
If he can get you to believe that you are a nobody, then he’s won half the battle. Again, we see this play out in Lewis’ Chronicles Of Narnia so vividly.
You are created in the image of God, and when you are submitted to Him, filled with His Spirit, rather than the spirit of the age, you are a tremendous threat to his evil kingdom.
Have faith, God wants to do great things through you!

But resist him, firm in your faith… 1 Peter 5:9a

*From David Guzik’s Enduring Word / enduring word.com

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2014 in Meditation, Teaching, Uncategorized

 

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Every Jug Filled With Wine, A Chicken In Every Pot

“Therefore you are to speak this word to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “Every jug is to be filled with wine.”‘ And when they say to you, ‘Do we not very well know that every jug is to be filled with wine?’ then say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Behold I am about to fill all the inhabitants of this land—the kings that sit for David on his throne, the priests, the prophets and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem—with drunkenness! I will dash them against each other, both the fathers and the sons together,” declares the Lord. “I will not show pity nor be sorry nor have compassion so as not to destroy them.”‘” – Jer 13:12-14 (NASB)

God told Jeremiah to use this picture to illustrate the trouble that was coming on the nation, because of their persitence in rebellion, and their failure to follow His word,-they wouldn’t even listen to Him anymore.
The image of “everyone’s jug being filled” reminded me of the phrase “a chicken in every pot.”
First spoken by Henry IV of France, he said: “I want there to be no peasant in my realm so poor that he will not have a chicken in his pot every Sunday.” This phrase became part of the Hoover election campaign for President. It was the idea of general prosperity for all, certainly an effective campaign idea.

These ideas resonate with us, we want our pots full. We want prosperity and provision.
The problem is, the context of Jeremiah’s words, was judgement from God on a nation that was in rebellion.
So, God pronounced… “yeah, I’m gonna fill your jugs with wine, but your are going to become drunkards.”
It’s similar to the story of the children of Israel complaining about not having any meat when they were wandering in the wilderness. (Numbers 11) They wanted meat, and they were unhappy with God’s provision. So, God gave them meat. He sent quail. Not only did God give them meat to eat, he gave them so much meat, that it made them sick. One can only imagine the kind of sickness that over 3 million people gorging themselves on oily meat (for an entire month) might bring… I picture mass dysentery. Ponder that for a moment.

Isaiah wrote about a particular problem with the tribe of Ephriam:
And these also reel with wine and stagger from strong drink: The priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, They are confused by wine, they stagger from strong drink; They reel while having visions, They totter when rendering judgment. For all the tables are full of filthy vomit, without a single clean place. –Isaiah 28:7-8 (NASB)

In one case, the pots were full of chicken, so to speak, in another, the jugs were full of wine. In both instances sickness ensued. Isn’t it interesting that when we get the thing we crave, when it’s something other than the Lord Himself, it never works out, we are never satisfied, but rather, we are sick. Wine is symbolic of blessing and joy, meat is symbolic of God’s provision of food. Both are good, but neither should be craved as something that will satisfy us.

God revealed to Jeremiah what He intended for His people…  “…I made the whole household of Israel and the whole household of Judah cling to Me,’ declares the Lord, ‘that they might be for Me a people, for renown, for praise and for glory; but they did not listen.’ – Jer 13:11 (NASB)

This is what God wants, not to fill our jugs, or fill our pots, but to fill our hearts with His Spirit. He wants to have a relationship with His people. When we find ourselves seeking anything other than that for satisfaction or enjoyment, we should know that it won’t work out for us. This is just a simple truth of life. Make the Lord the pursuit of your life, and you will be blessed. He is pursuing you, He’s been pursuing you for your whole life.
There is no greater source of contentment and joy than being filled with the Spirit of God!

Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. –Psalms 37:4 (NASB)

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2013 in Meditation, Teaching

 

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Don’t Be A Bad Wife. -Part II, Michal

But when David returned to bless his household, Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel distinguished himself today! He uncovered himself today in the eyes of his servants’ maids as one of the foolish ones shamelessly uncovers himself!” –2 Sam 6:20

David had been rejoicing before the Lord in dance as the ark of the covenant returned to Jerusalem –something worthy of celebration. David celebrated in a way that Michal perceived as beneath David’s royal position.

David got it right, and Michal got it wrong.

He understood, that even as king of Israel, God was his King, and worthy of not only a royal processional, but of humble worship. David was worshipping God, and that, with abandon.
For Michal, who had been influenced by her now deposed father, humble worship was foreign to her, and she despised her husband, the king, for his dance of praise.

Worship is the one right thing for all men and women. Do you know that? It is the one thing that is really necessary. Remember Mary and Martha? Jesus commended the one who sat at His feet and worshipped Him.
It is that moment when we bow to God, acknowledging who He is, and who they are before Him.
I wonder how many trials of life would dissolve, if we would take that position more often, even as a lifestyle.
Something I have noticed over the years, is how many Christian men refuse to sing to Jesus during worship at church, -seemingly afraid to look or sound foolish, perhaps afraid to engage on en emotional level.

I’m sure very few Christian women would be like Michal, despising their husband for worshipping God.
However, it is possible, to hinder them in other ways. Do you quickly yield when your man wants to serve at church at the expense of time with you and the family? Do you support him fully, or is your own neediness your priority? I’ll let you in on a secret,… if you support your husband in every spiritual pursuit, you will have a better husband. The question is, do you trust the Lord enough to release him to worship? Try commending him, even encouraging him to serve, to be involved, to go on retreats, etc…. yes, at your emotional expense.

I’m not advocating that husbands abandon or neglect their wives,.. in no way do I support that. But when a man  begins to make the Lord more of a priority in his life, his partner should wholeheartedly support that -even if it costs her some of his time and attention.

Worship by it’s very nature takes the priority off of us and our needs, and puts it on God, who is worthy of our praise, and sacrificial attention.

How sad that David’s day of happy celebration ended with this kind of insensitive and heartless reception from his own wife, but often God’s servants go quickly from the glory of the mountain to the shadows of the valley.—Wiersbe

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2012 in marriage, Teaching, Uncategorized

 
 
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