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Archive for September 2013

Busyness, Rest, and Faith – Part 1

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I can guarantee that you have this exact conversation in the last week:

You:  How are you doing?

Other Person:  I am good.

You:  How was your week?

Other Person:  I am really busy…

Dangers of Busyness

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about busyness and how unhealthy it can be for our souls.  There are several negative things that can happen to us by living perpetually with a high “busyness quotient”:

-Danger of relational isolation

-Danger of increased anxiety

-Danger of thinking we are more important than what we are (pride)

-Danger of no rhythm of rest

-Danger of burnout (emotional, physical, spiritual, and relational)

-Danger of joylessness

Self-Awareness and Busyness

My experience is that oftentimes there is also a significant gap between perception and reality on “busyness.”  Here is what I mean?  The number one person who will identify themselves as being “busy” is the undergraduate college student who has 15hrs of class, maybe 30hrs of study time and over 50hrs of discretionary time per week.  On the flip-side, oftentimes the busiest people – people with less than 10hrs of discretionary time per week – often continue to pile more and more on their plates because they fail to self-diagnose how over-loaded they really are.

If you have 50+hrs of discretionary time per week you aren’t busy.  You probably need to volunteer and stop spending some much time self-medicating on _________________________ (insert whatever you self-medicate on here – video games, TV, sports, food, addictions…)

If you have less than 10hrs of discretionary time per week you are too busy and your soul is in danger.  Please step back and think of some things that aren’t non-negotiable.  Learn to say “no.”  Be careful not to think of yourself as being too self-important.

Jesus and Busyness

The God of the Universe took a day off every week.  Jesus got alone and away from the crowds and away from the ministry.  He is/was way more important than you.

You were meant for the rhythm of rest that Jesus did.  God gives rest to his sheep.  God feeds his sheep when they rest if you trust Him.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. “For My yoke is easy, and My load is light. – Matthew 11:28-30

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. – Hebrews 4:9-11

I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man. – Proverbs 24:30-34

And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. – Matthew 8:24

And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. – Mark 6:31

How is your “busyness quotient?”  Why do you like being so “busy”?  Are you self-aware to your current status?  Do you manage your time well?

Time is perhaps the most precious commodity that God has given us.  What is time for?  Who do you trust your time with?

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Written by Michael Graham

September 16, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Posted in Christian Devotion, Culture

Tagged with , , ,

Good News: Atheists Can Now Go to Heaven (Says Pope)

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Pope Francis

Bizarre Argument

Pope Francis, in a letter to the founder (Dr. Eugenio Scalfari) of popular Italian newspaper La Repubblica (think USA Today of Italy) wrote the following:

As for the three questions you asked me in  the article of August 7th.  It would seem to me that in the first two, what you are most interested in is understanding the Church’s attitude towards those who do not share faith in Jesus.  First of all, you ask if the God of the Christians forgives those who do not believe and do not seek faith.  Given that  –  and this is fundamental  –  God’s mercy has no limits if he who asks for mercy does so in contrition and with a sincere heart, the issue for those who do not believe in God is in obeying their own conscience.  In fact, listening and obeying it, means deciding about what is perceived to be good or to be evil.  The goodness or the wickedness of our behavior depends on this decision.  (Full text translated to English by La Repubblica can be found here)

This has to be one of the most bizarre statements every written by a Pope.  In my reading in both the English and the Italian of this letter, Pope Francis seems to be asserting an argument something like this:

1.  God’s mercy has no limits – contingent on the sincere contrition of the heart

2.  Sincere contrition of the heart means obedience to own’s own conscience

3.  Obedience to the conscience involves the perception of good and evil

4.  A sincere contrite heart is the one does what is right in the eye of his own conscience

(Therefore)

5.  Pope Francis cannot judge the atheist (Dr. Scalfari) and by corollary any other person(s) who are obedient to their consciences

I am pretty sure I am not taking the Pope’s comments out of context, nor being uncharitable to the argument.  If taken to the logical conclusion anyone on Earth who feels like they are a good person in their own eyes should (or at least could) be a part of God’s kingdom.  This kind of argument does not square with the Gospel or even Catholic dogma.  In my experiences talking with people about spiritual matters nearly all feel that they are a “good person” and would self-affirm that they are obedient to their own conscience.

 

The Love of God, Liberalism and the book of Judges

Pope Francis’ seems to be attempting to make a case that the central tenet of the Christian faith is the Incarnation of Jesus and that the most important element of the atonement is the love of God:

Christian faith believes in this:  that Jesus is the Son of God who came to give his life to open the way to love for everyone.  Therefore there is a reason, dear Dr. Scalfari, when you see the incarnation of the Son of God as the pivot of Christian faith.  Tertullian wrote “caro cardo salutis”, the flesh (of Christ) is the pivot of salvation. Because the incarnation, that is the fact that the Son of God has come into our flesh and has shared joy and pain, victories and defeat of our existence, up to the cry of the cross, living each event with love and in the faith of Abbà, shows the incredible love that God has for every man, the priceless value that he acknowledges. For this reason, each of us is called to accept the view and the choice of love made by Jesus, become a part of his way of being, thinking and acting.  This is faith, with all the expressions that have been dutifully described in the Encyclical.

* * *

In your editorial of July 7th, you also asked me how to understand the originality of Christian Faith as it is actually based on the incarnation of the Son of God, with respect to other religions that instead pivot on the absolute transcendency of God.

I would say that the originality lies in the fact that faith allows us to participate, in Jesus, in the relationship that He has with God who is Abbà and, because of this, in the relationship that He has with all other men, including enemies, in the sign of love. In other words, the children of Jesus, as Christian faith presents us, are not revealed to mark an inseparable separation between Jesus and all the others:  but to tell us that, in Him, we are all called to be the children of the only Father and brothers with each other. The uniqueness of Jesus is for communication not for exclusion.

In this sense, coupled with the argument above, Pope Francis seems far closer to Unitarianism or liberal Protestantism than he does Catholicism or anything from the New Testament.  This is some kind of vague pure love of God version of Jesus who is the nice Galilean homeless guy who challenged the status quo and broke social norms so we can all sit around the campfire holding hands singing kumbaya.  This is the pure love of God version of Jesus that doesn’t really care about sin… as long as you feel good about obeying your own seared conscience.

There was a time when God’s people did what was right in their own eyes… :

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. – Judges 17:6 ESV

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. – Judges 21:25 ESV

… and it was a total mess.

 

The Good News

To be crystal clear, Jesus’ death on the cross makes no sense for anything but the paying for the sin of His people and the transfer of His perfect life in return.  

The Good News is that Jesus was perfect so that you the imperfect might have your law-breaking wiped clean and Jesus’ perfection deposited into your account.  His death is what wipes away the penalty of law-breaking and His perfect life is what makes His people Holy in the eyes of God.

Written by Michael Graham

September 12, 2013 at 10:21 am

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