Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tozer on the Unknowable

In the chapter on the self-existence of God in his classic work The Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer writes:

Philosophy and science have not always been friendly toward the idea of God, the reason being that they are dedicated to the task of accounting for things and are impatient with anything that refuses to give an account of itself. The philosopher and the scientist will admit that there is much that they do not know; but that is quite another thing from admitting that there is something which they can never know, which indeed they have no technique for discovering.

To admit that there is One who lies beyond us, who exists outside of all our categories, who will not be dismissed with a name, who will not appear before the bar of our reason, nor submit to our curious inquiries: this requires a great deal of humility, more than most of us possess, so we save face by thinking God down to our level, or at least down to where we can manage Him. Yet how He eludes us! For He is everywhere while He is nowhere, for "where" has to do with matter and space, and God is independent of both. He is unaffected by time or motion, is wholly self-dependent and owes nothing to the worlds His hands have made.

I used to think I was the furthest thing from a mystic when it came to my Christian faith, but the older I get the more I resonate with guys like Tozer and Oswald Chambers. I've also been hearing more about younger generations of Evangelicals going over to the Eastern Orthodox church. I wonder what is afoot here?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mr. Fix-It

Dr. John Gray of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus fame calls it Mr. Fit-It. It has probably been over a dozen years since I read that book, but I remember identifying with Mr. Fix-It a lot. If you articulate a problem around men, we look for a solution. If you articulate a problem around women, they tend to empathize and talk it out. There is a definite gender difference in how the sexes deal with personal problems. I have been reminded of this difference in some very significant ways just recently.

In the last couple of weeks, I've had a rash of personal problems popping up all around me with friends and family: two marriages blowing up of two couples I care about deeply, issues with my teen-age boys, getting along with co-workers, etc. I've discovered that being Mr. Fix-It is exhausting. The Bible has some powerful wisdom on how to deal with personal problems.

I always need to get the log out of your own eye. That is usually my first problem. Dealing with someone hypocritically (especially our children) is usually a train wreck waiting to happen. Romans 2:3-5 addresses this directly and without pulling punches. Next, realize there are two sides to every story. Proverbs 18:17 is one of my favorites: "The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him."

I've started realizing that in the midst of their messes, others are not just problems to be fixed, but people to be loved. I often forget that when I'm in the middle of a crisis situation and looking for a solution. Jesus gives a great example on striking the balance when he was approached by the rich young man. The version of this story in Mark 10 has some additional insight beyond the synoptic version in Matthew 19. Mark's gospel gives this account:
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.'"
"Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy."
Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
This passage is almost always used for teaching about money and possessions, but it also teaches us the art of helping someone with a personal problem. First, be careful of giving unsolicited advice. In this case, the rich young man came to Jesus asking for help. Second, work from a position of log-free humility. Jesus was perfect yet he deferred the goodness and honor given to him over to God rather than engaging from his position of perfection. None of us have a perfect position from which to counsel others.

Third, engage the other person on the basis of Biblical truth. Jesus gave the rich young man the law from the Book. Fourth, note how in v.21 Jesus loved him. This is more than just warm fuzzies and emotional affirmation. It is telling the truth in love rather than what would tickle his ears. Jesus gave this rich young man some hard truth and still loved him. Finally, the ultimate advice always points back to Jesus himself. We do well to follow Him, and point others in the same direction.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

9/11 Nonsense

On this eve of 9/11, a friend of mine sent me this purported interview of President Obama by Hollywood actor Charlie Sheen.


It sounded fishy from the beginning, but I was immediately skeptical anyway because I recognized the Infowars.com domain. Infowars.com and PrisonPlanet.com are the work of conspiracy theorist and self-proclaimed truth seeker Alex Jones. If you read through this piece of fiction concocted by Mr. Sheen, you find this little nugget at the bottom:

"Author’s Note: What you have just read didn’t actually happen… yet."

Thankfully I didn't waste my time reading this nonsense. My chagrined friend alerted me to the skullduggery he inadvertently passed along before I got around to reading the material myself. This is exactly why I pay nearly zero attention to Alex Jones, and why I'd recommend any serious minded truth seeker should ignore him as well. 95% (maybe more?) of the people who hit this link won't read the fine print at the bottom or will overlook it in their zeal to pass it along to a "truth seeking" friend who is like minded in their skepticism regarding the official conspiracy theory about 9/11.

Mr. Sheen's work of fiction will inadvertently be passed along as truth, and I have no doubts that is the intent and desire of Mr. Jones who is also promoting this work of fiction on his PrisonPlanet.com banner ad as I'm writing this blog entry. In Mr. Jones's world, truth is not only stranger than fiction, fiction is presented as truth (until you read the fine print). It is no coincidence this propaganda piece showed up on Mr. Jones's web sites during the anniversary week of 9/11. Alex Jones and Charlie Sheen are obviously running a propaganda program of their own. It gives Alex Jones more fodder for his online radio and TV shows. I guess when fighting "infowars" lying...or "fiction" purported as truth (with a little disclaimer)...is okey dokie on Mssrs. Sheen and Jones's moral compass?

In my world view, fighting lies with lies only results in more liars. Why should Alex Jones or anyone else believe Charlie Sheen as a credible authority on the 9/11 controversies and mysteries? Because he is a Hollyweird celeb? Give me a break!