Vase or Garbage Can?

Devotional PicturesIn my daily Bible reading I came across this rather difficult verse – difficult because it seems harsh. It is preceded by the hypothetical question posed by Paul in Romans 9:19-20 [as a possible rebuttal to his line of reasoning regarding God choosing some to be His and others who won’t listen in the previous verses],

Well then, you might say, “Why does God blame people for not listening? Haven’t they simply done what he made them to do?” No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to criticize God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who made it, “Why have you made me like this?” (NLT)

Paul is making the argument in this verse (and as one of the themes of this letter) that although the Jews are God’s chosen people and that has not changed – that doesn’t mean that they will be the only recipients of His promise and His mercy. In verse 16, Paul had said,

So receiving God’s promise is not up to us. We can’t get it by choosing it or working hard for it. God will sho mercy to anyone he chooses. (NLT)

But then in verse 21, Paul comes out with this whopper of an analogy,

When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? (NLT)

With a first read this seems to be a description of a rather callous God and relegates people who already feel sensitive about their disabilities, weaknesses, and shortcomings to the “rejects” of His creative power – or even worse – they were deliberately created as “garbage bins”. Certainly if one was to stop reading there that could leave you with a bad taste in your mouth.

However, Paul doesn’t stop there and reading further gives further understanding to why He would use such a strong analogy. In verses 22-23, Paul emphasises that although God has every right to excercise His judgment and power as the potter does with clay, God also has every right to be patient with those who are the objects of His judgment and are fit only for destruction. Paul goes one step further in His explanation and states that God also has the right to pour out the riches of His glory on those he prepared (read chose) to be the objects of his mercy.

Then Paul continues on with His argument with how God has opened the door for Gentiles (non-Jewish people) to become His children because of their faith. Faith is God’s way of chosing who receive His mercy.

How wonderful it is that although God is sovereign and all-powerful and could be like the potter Paul describes. He’s not. In fact – even though the Jewish people are a called out and special people – and will always be – any who have faith in Him (through Christ) may partake of the same blessings as His chosen people!

Of course, there’s much more that can be said but I’m going to leave this post the way it is for now.

Unfair Attack (link enclosed)

Unfair Attack – is a good article I just read addressing another article written by same sex advocate Jack Todd, (Time for Conservatives to Let Go of the Moral Monopoly on Marriage,” Gazette, August 5, 2006). Thanks Margaret for taking time to respond to Jack Todd’s article and in the process expose yet again many incongruencies in some people’s approach to the Christian perspective in this “hot topic”.

Oh and in case your wondering, yes I’m against same-sex marriage. But that does not mean that I’m a “gay-basher”. Do I agree with the gay lifestyle? No. Does that mean I hate gays? No. Certainly, homosexual people have faced incredible struggles in their lives with sexual identity (and correlating self-identity) and I recognize that – but I believe that while accepting a sin and living in that acceptance may seem like a good solution, it is not the “best” that God wants for us. I believe in the transforming power of the gospel of Christ and His ability to deal with sin. Does that mean it’s easy? No. Talk to the alcoholic trying to give up alcohol, or the habitual liar trying to curb his/her lies, or the drug addict trying to give up drugs, or a person with anger management problems trying to learn temperance. The truth is, we live in a world that has been corrupted by sin and is not the paradise God created. While I know that there are those who disagree with me I respect their right to disagree with me and I’m not going to wish for their death or relegation to an impoverished existence! Christ didn’t, that’s why He died.

Perspective on the Mel Gibson affair…

Okay, I know this is a bit delayed but I came across this article by Michael Coren, published in the Toronto Sun that I liked. In Christians are a Jews’ Best Friends Coren makes some good comments about the incongrous perspective the media and secular establishment in North America takes when it comes to covering “anti-semite” stories. He points out correctly that,

“If we want to see authentic hatred and bigotry, we only need to read the newspapers and watch television. There, one finds daily venom against Christianity from the mainstream and the most vitriolic contempt from the fringes.”

How true. I guess my questions coming out of this are, “What do Christians do to contribute to this ill-gotten perspective” and “What can we do to change it…or is it possible?” It leaves me wondering if the Christian Church (capitalized on purpose) were to live as Christ taught would such a perspective be present? Probably – I mean Jesus said himself that his followers would face persecution,

…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 – NIV)

but perhaps it might be less intense. What pains me most however is seeing more and more churches (usually in the mainline tradition) decide to take more “progressive” liberal stances in adapting to a secular worldview and dropping many of the core tenets of Christian belief in order to be more “relevant” and “accesible” to the world. Oh but that’s another subject I’ll probably write about some other time…

Who is the Greatest Saint?

Here’s another great quote I came across…

Would you know who is the greatest saint in the world? it is not he who prays most or fasts most; It is not he who gives most alms or is most eminent for temperance, chastity, or justice; but it is he who is always thankful to God, who wills everything that God wills, who receives everything as an instance of God’s goodness and has a heart always ready to praise God for it.

— William Law

Heat or Brain Fatique?

It is currently about 36 degrees outside (C) and it’s been in the 30’s for most of this week and I’m just feeling really tired. I’m writing this post in part because I’m hoping to stimulate my mind creatively so I can accomplish some tasks I need to get done today. I’m just finding it so hard to focus on getting things done with being so tired – hence the question – is it the heat? Or is it just brain fatique – i.e. “thinking” too much. Is it even possible to have brain fatique? I mean I know that lack of sleep is not good (enter in the heat theory again – heat in a non-air-conditioned house=sleepless nights) but I’ve also been engaging in a lot of creative thought process over the summer as I do a “cleaning house” of my priorities in life, evaluating and reinforcing my role as a Dad and husband, and working through some necessary leadership processes at the church. And then of course, I’ve just finished my weekly reading period (where I read magazine articles, email list articles, sermons that have caught my eye – as I read I select what I will keep and add to my “article file”). After reading all these great insights (and some not-so-great stuff as well :lol:) I tend to feel both inspired and overwhelmed. Today, I’m a little more in the overwhelmed side!
When I get in these slumps its very easy to get caught up into doing a lot of little “meaningless” things to avoid the deep “thinking” that is required for the more creative stuff. It would probably be called “procrastination” by some but I think in this case it’s just not wanting to sit staring at a blank screen for more than 5 minutes.

So what am I going to do? Well, this post is starting to unlock that “sluggishness” and as I type I’m beginning to forumlate in my mind a plan of action. 1.Pray 2.Write everything that comes to mind related to the task 3.Re-write 4.Make a Plan of action 5.Do what can be done today, schedule (re-schedule) the rest 6.When stuck, take a break and pray again.

Well there’s my miracle solution…off I go.