Holidays and Heritage


lincoln_on_5_usd_billSome years ago I had to take care of making my traditional contribution to our family dinner on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, which first required me to dash to the store for some of the ingredients. Not only did I need to go to the grocery store, I also needed gas since I would be traveling to the other side of LA.

Happily, I had passed a station posting gas at $3.15 a gallon, a dime cheaper than my regular station and about 7 miles closer! So off I went, first to get gas, then to pick up items for my Thanksgiving dish.

Imagine my surprise when I passed the shopping area (they still call them malls, though there is nothing resembling a true mall in most SoCal shopping centers any more), and found the parking lots brimming with cars. On Thanksgiving Day?

This was duplicated at the grocery store. In fact, I haven’t seen that store so busy … ever. On Thanksgiving Day?

Add to this fact, the night before one news broadcast reported shoppers setting up tents in order to be near the front of the line for store openings on “Black Friday.” Rather than being at home for the traditional “family time,” which is what Thanksgiving has become, these shoppers preferred to increase their chance of finding a bargain.

What’s it all mean? Holidays, which nationally stopped being Holy days a long time ago, are even losing their secondary meanings—a break from the normal work day, time with family, opportunity to express thanks or give tokens of love and appreciation. More and more, these “set apart” days are becoming excuses for buying more stuff.

As if the stuff is what we need.

There used to be a phrase used for the older, affluent businessman, the gift for the man who has everything. Thing is, now that term can be adapted to say the gift for the child who has everything, and it describes the kids in most middle class families.

I realized something just recently. On our money here in the US, we have inscribed the words In God We Trust. Whoever made that decision was insightful—and probably informed by Scripture, because the Bible declares no one can serve God and riches both. (Matthew 6:24) You see, what I realized wasn’t that we had the phrase on our coins and bills but rather WHY we have it there, and not on public buildings or statues or even in churches. It is that when we have abundance, often seen in the form of cash, we can so easily trust in the abundance and not in God.

To think, several hundreds of years ago, people setting up our government foresaw the danger of trusting wealth instead of trusting God! What a remarkable heritage! For that I am truly thankful. For what we have become as a nation of users, not so much.

This post is a revised and edited version of one that first appeared here in November 2007.

Published in: on November 28, 2016 at 4:50 pm  Comments (2)  
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Pride Is The Fall, Revisited


proudasapeacock-1-1379173-mRecently one of the bloggers I follow, InsanityBytes, has opened my eyes to a group of professing Christians I didn’t realize were doing and saying the kinds of reprehensible, ungodly things that they’re circulating on the Internet.

It dawned on me in one of the recent posts that the attitude these “Christian gamers” are displaying is self-righteous pride. They were quick to fault others—in this particular instance, women who espouse feminism—but don’t see their own hearts.

So I thought perhaps I’d revisit the subject of pride by reposting an article I wrote in 2010. Because it’s based on Scripture, it’s as relevant today as it was then. As it happens, it also addresses Adam’s sin which I’ve also been discussing with Wally, another blogger I follow.

Without further intro . . .

For years money received a bad rap in America. A particular verse in the Bible (I Timothy 6:10a) was misquoted to say “Money is the root of all evil.”

In fact the verse actually says in the New American Version, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (Emphasis mine.)

Perhaps money taking the blame for all evil, explains why pride seems to have skated off our radar screen. I won’t say it’s received a free pass. After all, the adage Pride goes before a fall has become a cliche in America.

That line also stems from Scripture—Proverbs 16:18: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (KJV). Apparently somewhere along the line, the verse morphed into that shortened version.

The heart of the statement remains true to the original, though I wonder that we haven’t taken the point to it’s logical conclusion: If pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall, then didn’t pride and a haughty spirit go before The Fall?

Or more accurately, was pride The Fall itself?

Before Man sinned, Satan rebelled against God, and Scripture clearly shows that the pride of his heart was the real issue:

“How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.‘ ”
– Isa 14:12-14 (Emphasis mine).

Is it any wonder, then, that when Satan approached Eve, one of the things he said to her was

“You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
– Gen 3:4b-5 (Emphasis mine).

Eve took Satan’s words into consideration. She saw that the fruit was tasty, attractive, and desirable to make her wise. Whole-heartedly, it would seem, she bought into Satan’s shtick. His desire became hers.

Adam fared no better. He openly chose to side with Eve against God, basically saying he knew what he needed more than God did.

Eve, he understood, would die, just as God said. Then what would happen to Adam? He’d return to that pre-helpmate state, and he didn’t want to do that. He must not have believed that God could, or would, fix things. So Adam had to take on that role. He had to stave off separation from Eve.

In short, he played God.

Isn’t that the definition of pride? From a heart that wants to be God, we act as if we are God. We put ourselves—our wants, our wishes, our well-being—above all else.

We rarely hear the old Pride goes before a fall adage any more. We apparently no longer believe that pride is such a bad thing. In fact, the real problem we face, society says, is not loving ourselves enough, not believing in ourselves enough, not taking enough “me time,” not pampering ourselves, not drawing from the power within.

I think we’re missing it. Pride doesn’t just come before a fall; it is The Fall itself. The hunger in our hearts to be God, forever separates us from Him who actually is God.

But thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ. In other words, God has the answer even for pride.

Published in: on March 3, 2015 at 6:52 pm  Comments (4)  
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CSFF Blog Tour – Lost Mission by Athol Dickson, Day 2


Yesterday was a great start for the CSFF Blog Tour featuring Lost Mission by Athol Dickson. In discussing the obedience theme touched on in the book, I brushed against the second major theme, so I think I’ll go ahead and begin discussion of it today, saving my review for tomorrow.

The theme I’m referring to is wealth and the Christian. Athol explored the subject from two angles—Christians who had an abundance and Christians in need.

One group, the wealthy gringos living in Blanco Beach, had cushy church facilities and were blind to the needs of the poor. As a body, they funded projects, but as individuals they didn’t consider how their decisions affected actual people. They seemed callous to others, not loving. The church leaders operated their organization more like a business than a ministry, and they personally lived opulent lives while nearby children died for lack of medicine.

At best, the people in this group were clueless Christians. At worst, they were nominal Christians living Pharisaical lives and corrupting the true church in the process.

In the other group were the poor Mexican workers and their self-sacrificing white young pastor. These were people living in Wilson City who worked hard, sent money back to Mexico, lived simply, and suffered great need. They prayed for what they lacked, but God didn’t intervene to change their circumstances. So their pastor did. In the face of his people’s suffering, and the unseemly wealth of the uncaring, close-fisted Christians in a position to help, he determined to play Robin Hood.

Within the pages of Lost Mission we find Christians loving money, using money to accomplish an evil purpose, stealing money to accomplish a greater good, giving money away generously, investing money, and withholding money.

One of the things I like about this book is that no one—author or character—says, Pastor, you should stop stealing. Or, Wealthy tycoon, you should love your neighbor and give to the poor. Rather, through the actions of the characters and the events of the story, change occurs and the characters themselves come to realize their weaknesses, sins, mistakes.

The reader, meanwhile, is left to make of it all what he wishes. As I often say here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction, we need to read with discernment. A book like Lost Mission requires that of us.

Possibly some cheered when Tucker, the young pastor, took the money to buy medicine for the critically ill child. Certainly any caring person would feel for the mother, the friend, the pastor who stood by helplessly as the little girl grew worse and worse. But discernment for the Christian means to look into God’s Word and see what our Heavenly Father says about life. Are the characters reflecting Biblical standards? Do they come to agree with the Bible at some point?

The Bible actually has a lot to say about the money issue. Here are a few key principles:

  • serving God and money at the same time is impossible
  • generous giving isn’t about how much but how self-sacrificially a person gives (see the story about the widow’s mite)
  • the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil
  • God provides abundantly beyond what we ask or think
  • the goal should be contentment, whether in plenty or in want
  • giving should be cheerful
  • stealing is against God’s law
  • giving is a function of loving our neighbor (see the story of the Good Samaritan)
  • storing up treasure in heaven is profitable
  • storing up treasure on earth may lead to losing it (James 5:1)
  • building a bigger barn to keep all our stuff is foolish

I’m sure there are others, but this sampling gives us enough to hold up as a standard by which to measure the actions and attitudes of the characters in Lost Mission.

For those of you who have read the book, here’s a question:

And now, take a look at yesterday’s post and check out what the other bloggers on the tour are saying about *Lost Mission.

*In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher.

Published in: on April 13, 2010 at 10:29 am  Comments (6)  
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Holidays and Heritage


I apologize for not alerting you to the fact that I was taking the US holiday of Thanksgiving off. Truth is, I wasn’t sure I would and actually hoped to post at least something short. It didn’t happen.

In part it didn’t happen because I had to take care of making my traditional contribution to our family dinner, which first required me to dash to the store for some of the ingredients. I’d tried to take care of this last Saturday only to find that the store I was in didn’t carry one of the items.

So, back to Thursday morning. Not only did I need to go to the grocery store, I also needed gas since I would be traveling to the other side of LA, and my trip to the Anaheim Convention Center on Tuesday had dropped the needle on the gage of my gas tank lower than I was comfortable with.

Happily, I had passed a station posting gas at $3.15 a gallon, a dime cheaper than my regular station and about 7 miles closer! So off I went, first to get gas, then to pick up items for my Thanksgiving dish.

Imagine my surprise when I passed the shopping area (they still call them malls, though there is nothing resembling a true mall in most SoCal shopping centers any more), and found the parking lots brimming with cars. On Thanksgiving Day?

This was duplicated at the grocery store. In fact, I haven’t seen that store so busy … ever. On Thanksgiving Day?

Add to this fact, the night before one news broadcast reported shoppers setting up tents in order to be near the front of the line for store openings on “Black Friday.” Rather than being at home for the traditional “family time,” which is what Thanksgiving has become, these shoppers preferred to increase their chance of finding a bargain.

What’s it all mean? Holidays, which nationally stopped being Holy days a long time ago, are even losing their secondary meanings—a break from the normal work day, time with family, opportunity to express thanks or give tokens of love and appreciation. More and more, these “set apart” days are becoming excuses for buying more stuff.

As if the stuff is what we need.

There used to be a phrase used for the older, affluent businessman, the gift for the man who has everything. Thing is, now that term can be adapted to say the gift for the child who has everything, and it describes the kids in most middle class families.

I realized something just recently. On our money here in the US, we have inscribed the words In God We Trust. Whoever made that decision was insightful—and probably informed by Scripture, because the Bible declares no one can serve God and riches both. (Matthew 6:24) You see, what I realized wasn’t that we had the phrase on our coins and bills but rather WHY we have it there, and not on public buildings or statues or even in churches. It is that when we have abundance, often seen in the form of cash, we can so easily trust in the abundance and not in God.

To think, several hundreds of years ago, people setting up our government foresaw the danger of trusting wealth instead of trusting God! What a remarkable heritage! For that I am truly thankful. For what we have become as a nation of users, not so much.

Published in: on November 23, 2007 at 11:24 am  Comments (2)  
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