Do you have a bad attitude? Do your kids have bad attitudes? If you and/or they do, I know why: wrong or faulty expectations. It’s probably hard to overestimate how many people suffer from a bad attitude (sometimes it’s called depression or anxiety or frustration or disappointment or anger or . . .) because their expectations don’t take into account one small factor: reality! When things don’t work out the way they expect or want them to, they think something must be wrong, or this or that wouldn’t have happened. It’s silly that anyone would think this way, but we all tend to, naturally. It is the bent of our fallen, sinful human nature.
So it goes to reason that the solution to a bad attitude is a realistic understanding of the way things are, not the way we wish them to be. Strangely, one of the most comforting passages of Scripture I’ve discovered as if for the first time this past year is in Genesis 3, where we read of the consequences of the curse because of Adam and Eve’s fall. As a result of their disobedience, the Lord confronts them with these horrible words: (more…)
That we live in a secular age there can be no doubt. I’ve attacked secularism as a paper tiger (actually, Berlin Wall) in a number of posts, which is why I looked forward to reading James K.A. Smith’s How (Not) To be Secular. (It’s a book about a book, Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age.) In it he uses a phrase that is very helpful in combating the fundamental presumption of secularism (which includes all the Triple A’s: Atheists, Agnostics, and the Apathetic): that it is only the “religious” who need faith, or who have to believe. On page 47 of the paperback version he states:
Our secular age is the product of creative new options, an entire reconfiguration of meaning. So it’s not enough to ask how we got permission to stop believing in God; we need to also inquire about what emerged to replace such belief. Because it’s not that our secular age is an age of disbelief; it’s an age of believing otherwise. We can’t tolerate living in a world without meaning.
I believe most Christians go through life with a sense of low-grade guilt because they don’t really understand the gospel. The reason I say this is that I myself was this kind of Christian for many years of my adult life because I didn’t either. What changed? You’ll laugh when I tell you: God’s wrath! Yes, it was only when I discovered God’s wrath, as if for the first time after three decades of being a Christian, and a seminary graduate at that, that I finally came to understand just how good the good new is!
A God of wrath doesn’t poll well in our secular age, so it’s sadly not preached much from our pulpits. A God of love is a much easier sell, but the irony is that God’s love outside of the context of God’s wrath is meaningless. It’s easy for we sinful human beings to focus on one aspect of God’s being to the exclusion of all the others, and it’s natural to want God to accept us as we are, warts and all. The problem with “warts and all” is that the Bible calls that sin, and the wages of sin is death. Because God is just, and wrong must be paid for, he cannot overlook our sin. It’s no different than in a court of law. A judge to remain just, and in his job, must apply penalties to those who break the law. We live in a moral universe, so why would we think it should be any different with God? (more…)
The statistics tell us that 45,000 people kill themselves in America every year; that is 123 per day! According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (which obviously isn’t doing a very good job), for every successful suicide, 25 people try to kill themselves. If my calculator is correct, somewhere around 1.125 million people every year (over 3,000 a day!) so hate their lives that they attempt to snuff them out. What’s scary is that the rate of this happening has increased 24% since 1999.
This relatively quite epidemic vaulted into the headlines this past week with the suicides of two high profile celebrities who killed themselves in the prime of their lives. Kate Spade first on June 5. She was a fashion designer and businesswoman who founded a billion dollar business. She was known to suffer from depression and took medication for it. The other shocking suicide was Anthony Bourdain in Friday, June 8. He was a celebrity chef, author, and television personality. He was also known to suffer from depression.
I recently finished The Picture of Dorian Gray by the famous 19th century provocateur Oscar Wilde. The book was itself a profound picture of a lost soul trying to come to terms with life devoid of a true north with which to make sense of it all. I read it with special fascination as a Christian whose fundamental assumption about reality is that we have no chance of figuring out the true meaning of life without divine revelation. Christianity is above all a revealed religion which asserts that without God revealing the truth of things to us, we will always be benighted. That is, we will be stuck to one degree or another in darkness and remain unenlightened.
As I’ve raised three children with much help, and balance, from my longsuffering wife, I’ve continually impressed upon them that the options of meaning in life are not Christianity and nothing, but Christianity and some other worldview, between Christianity and some other faith commitment, between one set of beliefs and another set of beliefs. The Triple A’s, as I’ve called them (atheists, agnostics, and the apathetic) are convinced (and deluded) that there are religious people out there who believe things, and have faith of some sort; then there are the Triple A’s. They think they are not religious, don’t believe things, and don’t require faith. In baseball we call that a strikeout!