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I’m Giving Up Sin….but just for Lent

I’m Giving Up Sin….but just for Lent

I have almost missed the start of Lent this year. I have never been any good at dates. I am reblogging a post I did last year, In regards to Lent, I would love that all would partake. Yet, I would caution those who practice Lent to be careful not to enter it with a ‘sacrifice’ of sin. Giving up what we know we should give up, as some sort of sacrifice during Lent is skewed, isn’t it? Think through the admittedly not perfect post and come to your own conclusions. God bless.

Kingsgrass

22452900E[1] “I’ve decided to give up a sin that has been bothering me for Lent.”

That was what I overheard this last week but not in those exact words.  The actual words sounded much more admirable, couched in lightheartedness with lots of spiritual talk inserted between the lines.  “I’m giving up something that has been bothering me,” is closer to what I actually heard.

This encounter launched me into questioning why many Christians participate in Lent.  Ideally, it should be a time of deeper contemplation about God and more focused prayer.  Most say that this is what they plan on doing, but for many, life and old habits make it hard for them to execute and they merely pull off the external.   As a result, I think many focus on the giving up of a thing as some sort of offering of their devotion, hoping that the mere act of doing…

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Posted by on March 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Removing God from Psalm 23

In order for Psalm 23 to mean anything to someone they must be thinking Biblically.  When our thinking becomes skewed, Psalm 23 makes no sense.   The following is an attempt to show how the history of Western thought would have translated Psalm 23.

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The Lord is my Shepherd…

(Early Church and revived in the Reformation)

God created the universe and man.  By making man and woman in His image He gave them meaning.  As creator, He determined what is right and wrong and it is society’s responsibility to live within those bounds.  That is the universal base.  There is a foundation for law, rights and freedom.  God, as understood through the Bible, is the final authority.

But suppose I do not want to be completely under God.  I would like some ‘freedom’ to think for myself.   What will be my new universal principle?

The Lord is my Shepherd, but I help him guide me.

(Medieval times largely influenced by Aquinas who leaned heavily on the secular thought of Aristotle.)

Why restrict ourselves to only what God has to say?  The Bible is lowered and man is raised higher.  The Bible becomes a guideline that can be veered from and the church is raised to become its equal.  Salvation is by grace but begins to increasingly include the works of man because man is viewed as capable of doing it.  Secular thinking starts to trump the Biblical base and distorts truth.  People start believing and acting independent of the final authority.

I am my shepherd.

(Humanism comes to fruition in Renaissance and is maintained through the modern era.)

Man is autonomous and independent of any supernatural force outside of himself.  Absolutes are impossible to define because there is nothing to give them and therefore man is unsure of how to live.  Optimistically, thinkers set out to find the way.   Truth begins with man, not God.  There is no final authority over man so man seeks how to guide himself.

I am left with the difficult question of what the purpose of life is and how I (and others) are to live.    I trust my mind will lead me to the right answers.

Sheep are my shepherd.

(Beginning with Voltaire, the enlightenment awakens the god of reason and ultimately leads to man being seen as part of a closed system, where he is no longer outside of nature but is merely a part of it.)

Reason falters as it repeatedly runs into unacceptable conclusions.  Opinions seem to be legion, but really there are only a few truly novel thoughts…but no one seems to know what to trust so I look for something outside of man, some natural principle that guides the world.  I look to nature and find it both cruel and non-cruel.  I believe I am only a small part of it, just a mass of atoms.  I become nothing more than a cog in the machine.

Everything is my shepherd.

(Rousseau, Kant, Hegel and Kierkegaard struggle to leave room for man amidst determinism and its other varied forms, trying to find meaning by looking at freedom from restraint, history, emotion and what is ‘natural’ (Romanticism).  They are left with only rhetoric and the conclusion that reason leads only to pessimism.)

Now I must let go of reason because it leads me only to a pessimistic outlook.  Reason tells me that without a god I am only part of the machine of the universe, devoid of meaning.  I can say those words but I can not live by them.  History has exhausted its ideas and come up wanting.  If one begins with man, nothing gives meaning. My ‘innards’ tell me that there must be a purpose somewhere in all of this.  But where is it?

So I let go of reason and let the unreasonable give me meaning.  My experiences will hopefully be powerful enough to give me a sense of fulfillment.  (Embrace of Hinduism or Buddhism for some in the Western world may enter here, under the pursuit of experience.)  My personal goals of peace and affluence will guide my decisions.  What is right in one situation may not be right in another.  Each act is based on circumstances and is thus arbitrary to the person and the situation.  What is right will be determined by what I want the goal to be and there is nothing to tell me that my goal is wrong.  What is must be what is right.  My pleasures rule.

Nothing is my shepherd.

(Existential philosophy abandons reason and leaps “upstairs” to find meaning and value without reason.  Nietzsche declares that not only is God dead, but also all (he) supported, mainly meaning.  His conclusions (I believe) likely led him to his insanity-not venereal disease.)

Without a universal base tying everything together with meaning I am only a part of this machine, devoid of purpose or direction.  Nothing leads me anywhere.  I can’t help but become apathetic.  To keep from despairing I create schemes to keep my mind away from the impossible questions.  In place of meaning I take up causes, like ending world poverty, or cleaning up the food system, or keeping the earth from getting too warm, or shaving a 1/2 minute off of my 8 minute mile.  I exist and if you push me to tell you why I won’t know what to say.

All is bankrupt.  Without a shepherd outside of myself my mind tells me I am no more than matter.  Nature, experience and pleasure can not infuse me with any type of meaning or tell me what to value.  Without an ultimate universal base society is left to the chaos of hedonism (pleasure rules) or the tyranny of authoritarianism by the élite to maintain peace.  I have lost my freedom.  I have lost my meaning.  I have lost my bearings.   I am empty.

I need my Psalm 23 shepherd back.

(Please note:  this post leans heavily on the work of Francis A. Schaeffer in “How Should We Then Live?”  This is my current understanding of the progression of Western thought.  If you are looking for a resource to reference, I suggest you go back to the inspiration behind this post.)
 
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Posted by on May 14, 2013 in History Clips, Sin, Uncategorized

 

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Lonely Soul: A really bad poem (you should read)

Lonely

So a phrase came into my head and I started writing.  After about ten minutes I became annoyed that all of my sentences had a cadence and ended in rhyme but I couldn’t seem to help myself.  Weird.   Anyways, I kept trying to rework it in my normal style and found myself reverting back to cadence each time.  I am no poet, heavens no, but I have given up on trying to express this thought in other ways.

Here’s my really bad free verse (?) -seriously- this is embarrassing, but if you read it out loud and pretend you are at a beat club, maybe, hopefully, it will speak to you.

It is an odd and sorrowful truth, that the more one is pulled in, and the firmer the grasp and will become, the lonelier the soul becomes.

For a season is entered where the pleasures and vices are habitually shunned and your comrades are found to be few, perhaps there is none.  You expose the wonders your eyes have seen and wait for the tug, the grasp of your hand, but the stare is blank.  The nod is there, but a suspicion persists that you did not get it, though you gave thanks.   How in the church, amidst like-minded souls, do I feel bereft and so out in the cold?

Then a Jonathon comes along… not many, it seems two, more likely one, but there he is!  And your heart soars for his soul, his presence, his tongue.  A kindred fire is a soothing balm, for the company of a crowd is replaced by one.

A lonely road, it is taken by few.  But praises!  Trapped in heaven’s solitude, I am not so lonely, I am filled, and I have you.  Time goes by, and deeper I go.  Peace.   I look and startle how one Jonathan has increased.

……Now you are hearing lots of snapping by really polite people….. In all honestly, I am coming to see the blogging community this way.  Blessings to all of you.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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