Friday, December 31, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Often family and church are portrayed as being in tension. No doubt there are times when families need to be alone together. But what are your aspirations for your children? This is where the rubber meets the road.
People speak about putting the kingdom first, but in practice it's often second to their children. "I'd work on that difficult estate," people say, "but it wouldn't be fair on my children." And we all nod wisely as if this is self-evident.
But it's highly questionable. I shocked someone recently by asking them to name one occasion on which Jesus speaks positively about families. Every time Jesus talks about families he sees them as competing for our loyalty to him and his community.
I, too, find this shocking. Can anyone take up Chester on his challenge? Where is one occasion in which Jesus speaks positively about families?
What are the positives and negatives of this quote? Do you find yourself agreeing with Chester, or disagreeing?
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Heavy stuff, but I found this quote from Eric Thoennes in the ESV Study Bible's article on the Trinity to be very insightful and practical. In essence, Thoennes writes that there are little shadows and echoes of the doctrine of the Trinity everywhere:
This unity and diversity (One God, yet eternally existing in three distinct persons) is at the heart of the great mystery of the Trinity. Unity without uniformity is baffling to finite minds, but the world shows different types of reflections of this principle of oneness and distinction at every turn.
What is the source of the transcendent beauty in a symphony, the human body, marriage, ecosystems, the church, the human race, a delicious meal, or a perfectly executed fast break in basketball? Is it not, in large part, due to the distinct parts coming together to form a unified whole, leading to a unified result?
Unity and distinction -- the principle at the heart of the Trinity -- can be seen in much of what makes life so rich and beautiful. Woven into the fabric of the world are multiple reflections of the One who made it with unity and distinction as the parallel qualities of its existence.
Monday, December 20, 2010
In the hours after watching that historic football game, I began to realize that it had given me a cultural parable to explain one of the most perplexing questions in the universe: how could a good, loving, all-powerful God be believed in when the world in which He supposedly rules over is in such chaos and brokenness?
That question is a great barrier to faith for many non-believers. And the next time I encounter that question -- especially if it's a sports fan who poses the question -- I might remind the inquisitor of this football game before getting into the testimony of the Scriptures, which of course are our only sure and reliable witness to all things pertaining to faith. I say that to make absolutely clear that any earthly parable attempting to explain heavenly realities -- including this parable -- has its holes and weaknesses. Nevertheless, here's what I got out of yesterday's improbable Eagles win:
Simply put, there is a "glory" to yesterday's game that would not have been so palpable and awe-inspiring had the Eagles just steamrolled the Giants from the opening kickoff. Had the Eagles won yesterday by a score of 45-3, surely Eagles fans would be thrilled. But that thrill couldn't possibly compare with the thrill of seeing what was a sure defeat (down 31-10 with 8 minutes to play) suddenly, stunningly, transformed into an incredible victory. An Eagles blowout would have been nice, but not nearly as momentous (by sports standards) as what transpired yesterday. This game will be talked about by football fans for decades.
As Philly Sportswriter Phil Sheridan put it, "There is no fourth-quarter ecstasy without three preceding quarters of agony." And it's in that quote that I see a football-illustrated parable of the history of the whole world.
I do not want to minimize or trivialize the indescribable pain experienced by millions in this world by comparing it to a ballgame, but I believe there is a pointer here which might help a skeptic (especially a sports-enjoying skeptic) come to grips with how a corrupted, miserably broken world is still compatible with the sovereign, benevolent, God we discover in the pages of the Bible.
In His infinite power and goodness, God surely could have prevented the fall of this world into sin, and the ensuing chaos, misery, brokenness and suffering that has ensued as a result. He could have maintained a perfect world that was eternally free from any contamination of sin. But in His inscrutable wisdom, He knew there was another way of governing the world which would bring deeper joy to His redeemed: allow the world to fall into terrible corruption, and then triumph over all the forces of evil and corruption by setting the cosmos free from its bondage to corruption so that it might enter into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
This is what Jesus Christ, the God-Man, accomplished in coming into this sinful world, suffering on the cross for the sins of all who believe, and rising from the dead as the firstfruits of a victory which is still to be consummated when He comes again to make all things new. All who place their trust in Jesus will share in awesome triumph, enjoying His glory for all eternity. And that enjoyment will only be deepened by the pain and affliction we've been called to endure in this broken and chaotic world.
In the New Heavens and New Earth, when we celebrate forever the victory of the Lamb of God, who looked hopelessly defeated as He walked up the hill of Calvary, yet triumphed over sin and death and Satan and hell to make His blessings flow throughout the renewed cosmos "far as the curse is found", there will be deeper joy for us, and greater glory to Him, for having endured millennia of pain and heartache and sorrow in this sin-soaked world. He will be more beautiful to us than He would have had the world never fallen into sin and corruption, just as yesterday's game is more beautiful to Philly fans because it had appeared so hopeless during so much of the game.
Ultimately, I think that's why the "miracle in the Meadowlands, Part 2," captures the enthusiasm of sports fans like me. It's just a little preview -- a little foretaste -- of the great, final, cosmic victory of Jesus, our great King and Savior. To Him be glory forever and ever...even through echoes as small and trivial as a football game.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
To be real honest with you, I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day. It’s not because I don’t
love love. I very much love love. But I think our culture has no idea what it’s
celebrating. It has no real clear definition of “love.” If you’ll pay attention to our
culture, our definition of love can’t be defined outside of self-seeking or “what makes me
happy. . .how does it work for me. . .” So that’s a really lame, weird thing to celebrate.
If the idea is that love is this kind of emotional, stirring, mysterious thing that can attack
you from out of nowhere, that is so powerful that you can’t control it, that’s a dangerous,
terrifying idea. It’s not to be celebrated, honestly. So for those of you romantics who
think it should, let me just say this. Right now, I’m very much in love with Lauren. But
let’s say I go to the store tonight to buy a bag of chips and the baby angel in the diaper
with a weapon pops me in the back, and now all of a sudden I see this other lady and now
she’s the beautiful one, she’s the one that I love. That’s a terrifying idea and not one that
I think should be celebrated.
So I’d like to read a passage out of Song of Solomon 8, starting in verse 6. “Set me as a
seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love [ahava] is strong as death,
jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD.
Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love
all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.”
I have been with Lauren for 12 years, and we’ve been married for 10 years. There have
been these moments in our marriage and in our relationship where I thought, “This is a
really cool moment.” And few of those have anything to do with some hyper-emotional,
romantic, violins in the background, good glass of wine, beautiful scenery. Few of them
revolve around that. Honestly, they tend to be a lot more painful than that. I’ll give you
an example from this morning. Our seven-month-old is extremely selfish. I don’t know
if you’ve ever had one of these things, but she’s decided to cut all four of her top teeth
last night. So there was not a lot of sleep happening at the Chandler household last night.
But when they do radiation, specifically in your brain, you only lose hair where they
shoot the radiation. So I’ve got this real weird head thing where this is bald but then this
still grows hair. And I can grow hair like a Chia Pet. I could strain right now and make it
grow. I didn’t shave before I went to bed last night, so I had to get up this morning and
shave. And there are part of my head that I can’t see or reach. So at about 6:45 this
morning, despite the fact that we didn’t sleep much last night, I’m waking up Lauren.
I’m like, “Hey Boo, I need you to shave the back of my head.” To which her response
was, “They can’t see the back of your head.” So I was like, “I know they can’t see the
back of my head, but this can’t happen. You’re going to have to get up.”
So Lauren comes into the bathroom exhausted and shaves the back of my head so I could be pretty
for you. Now, that’s ahava. That’s a love of the will. That’s not, “Oh isn’t this
romantic? I get to get up with my sick husband at 6:45 in the morning after only getting
a couple hours of sleep and shave his radiated head.” But that’s ahava. That’s love.
That is a foundational, deep, full of guts, “I’m not going anywhere” love. That’s to be
celebrated. If we could celebrate that, then I’d be all about Valentine’s Day. But that’s
not what our culture is celebrating. It’s so much more emotive, so much more silly, so
much more hollow, so much more “I like you today. Let’s celebrate that.” So I’m not a
fan. That’s the mini sermon. Now let’s get to Colossians.
Al Mohler talking at Capitol Hill Baptist Church on the nature of true beauty.
If you listen to it before me, let me know how it is!
Friday, December 3, 2010
One year ago tomorrow, Matt Chandler underwent surgery that removed a malignant tumor from his brain. In this blog post he talks about some of the lessons he's learned through the past year.
Though I've never met him, I love this man and am so grateful to God for the example he is setting in treasuring Christ above all.