Tuesday, April 25, 2006

philosophy and empty deceit

A couple of weeks ago I had an interesting discussion with my art professor about art and life. He studies art’s purpose in life and finds their interrelation fascinating. While we were talking, he mentioned his religious beliefs. He said, “I know I’m a part of the universe and that is good enough for me.”

Empty Philosophy
At Worldview Academy, Bill Jack talked about the ways of the wizards, who are highly skilled individuals believing the wrong thing. My professor is no fool and certainly puts a lot of thought into life. Yet, after I had this discussion with him, and he explained his religious beliefs and tolerance for the beliefs and actions of others, I thought of Colossians 2:8.

"See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ."

Dictionary.com defines philosophy: Love and pursuit of wisdom by intellectual means and moral self-discipline. In and of itself, philosophy isn’t a bad thing, but like the Bible says, it is merely empty deception. We can say that one ought to treat people with respect, but why? Who cares? Why does it matter? Men and women philosophize to no end if it doesn’t lead them to Christ. Humans labor to find meaning and purpose in life, and some say they have found it, but truly, it is only empty deception. They have been deceived into thinking that their philosophy is enough, that the “elementary principles of the world” are sufficient.

“Good” People
It reminds me of a phrase some people like to use, “I’m a good person.” Some say that as long as you aren’t what society calls a “bad’ person, then all’s well. These people are under a great deception, they have bought into worldly philosophies, and they’re living the lie.

In my yoga class, our teacher talks about the restraints and observances of yoga which include non-violence, truthfulness, moderation in all things, non-stealing, non-covetousness, purity, contentment, austerity, study of the sacred texts, constantly living in an awareness of the Divine presence.

The above is a philosophy, a pursuit of wisdom by moral self-discipline. It sounds good, and I agree that truthfulness, non-stealing, non-covetousness, ect are important. However, people have been deceived if they think these self-disciplines are good enough. These things are of the world, these statements are very inclusive because most people would probably agree with them, and these statements lead to the broad path mentioned in Matthew.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”-Matthew 7:13-14

Flee from the lie of empty philosophy and enter by the narrow gate. Don’t be taken captive.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Stress. Anxiety. Discontentment. Depression. What do these four words have in common?

These four words spawn from the common human problem of failing to live in Today. By stressing, we look to the future with apprehension. Anxiety is caused by fear of what lies ahead. Humans are discontent because they think the future may hold something better. When the future disappoints us, it causes depression.

Failing to Act in Today
One of my favorite verses in the Bible talks about the importance of living in Today.

“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”-Hebrews 3:12-13

In illustration of this point, William J. Bennett’s story called "The Magic Thread" tells the story of a boy, who always wanted to be at a different point in his life. He received a ball with the thread of life, and every time he pulled on the thread, he could skip to the next best part. This boy skipped through the hard parts of life trying to get to the parts he wanted to live, and before he knew it, he was an old man, disappointed.

That boy was not living in Today. He always looked at Tomorrow and how he could be happy Tomorrow. I’m a lot like him because I imagine that in a couple of years I’ll have more time to work on reading my Bible. In a couple of years I’ll magically become kinder. The flip side to this type of thinking is worrying about Tomorrow. Will I have enough money Tomorrow? Will I meet Mr. Right Tomorrow? What about all these things I have to do Tomorrow?

Destroying Today’s Joy
In Matthew, Jesus specifically mentions worry.

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather in barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?”-Matthew 6:25-27

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”-Matthew 6:31-34

Sometimes I worry about the future that won’t happen. I imagine what life would be like if I had born in Africa with AIDS. How horrible, and how silly for me to worry about something that cannot happen. Or I wonder if great tragedy will befall me years from now when I become paralyzed from the waist down, blind and deaf. Or, I worry about something that will happen in class weeks from now, that I can do nothing about. All these cause me to feel depressed and afraid. I am not living in Today.

Practical Application
There’s a song by Tim McGraw called “Live Like You Were Dying” that tells the story of a man who finds out he’s dying and starts living more, forgiving more, and loving more. I think there’s a good message there. I want to live each day as though it were my last. Jesus talks about the need to be ready for his return at all times (Matthew 25:1-13). You can’t do that if you’re waiting for Tomorrow, because Today will come and you won’t be ready.

Practically speaking, what can I do about this?

First, I can prioritize. What duties do I need to think about Today? Which ones can I put out of my head for the time being? I know I need to finish my quilt, but it isn’t going to happen while I’m working and in school. This is a task that I don’t need to stress about Today.

All those character traits I’ve been waiting for Tomorrow to work on, can be worked on Today. I can smile at the grumpy lady down the hall Today. I can be cheerful even when my head aches Today. I can joyfully serve my family Today. I don’t need to wait until Tomorrow for any of these things.

Although Yoda isn’t a great philosopher by any stretch of the imagination, he did say something in The Empire Strikes Back that applies.

“A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away... to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing.”

I know it’s silly, but I spend a lot of time imagining terrible hypothetical situations. However likely or unlikely these situations, I need to remember the most important fact: God will never leave me nor forsake me. Nothing can separate me from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39). Ultimately that’s why I shouldn’t worry, because I never can lose that which is most important: Jesus Christ.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Up From the Grave He Arose

As this Resurrection Sunday comes to an end, I feel compelled to at least pay tribute to this celebratory day. It should be the most important holiday for Christians. 2,006 years ago, Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross, separated from God, and bore the burden of our sins. The Jews and Pharisees thought they had destroyed Jesus forever.

Throughout my walk with God, Christ's resurrection from the dead becomes increasingly more meaningful to me. It is a pivotal part of the Christian faith. It was there on the cross, there in the tomb, that Christ's words were tested. Would the old prophesies be fulfilled? Could death destroy God?

The Crucifixion
Although I try, I can't imagine what it must have been like for those who loved Jesus to watch Him die on the cross. All their hopes, everything they had put faith in, must have felt shattered. Even though Jesus explained many times that He would rise from the dead on the third day, nobody seemed to believe it.

On the third day, to the disbelief of the apostles and Jews, Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

The Resurrection and Supremacy Over Death
Luke 24:5 says, "Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they [the angels standing by the tomb] said to them, 'Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but he is risen!"

To pagans, death seems like the end. There isn't anything else. Just like that, life is over. However, Christ conquered death.

"O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?"-1 Corinthians 15:55

Jesus Christ demonstrated that He was supreme over everything, including death. This gives us all the more reason to worship God.

"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."-Matthew 10:28

The End Result: Salvation and Inheritance
Ultimately, Christ's resurrection from the dead saved His elect from their sins and gave them eternal life.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."-1 Peter 1:3-5

Eternal Life
Because Christ conquered death and saved His elect, we are to spend eternity with Him in heaven. There is no way that we could have earned such an existence, but God in His great mercy gave us the free gift of eternal life.

"They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."-Revelation 7:16-17

I can't wait to enter into heaven and hope to hear my Savior say as He did to John,

"Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death."

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

gender diversity

“What are little boys made of? Snips and snails, and puppy dog tails. That's what little boys are made of. What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice, and everything nice.” What separates girls and boys is more than sugar and snails; it’s inherent gender differences. The feminist agenda attacks important qualities of womanhood and manhood while claiming to promote gender equality.

The traditional role of women is mocked as an unworthy calling. The Women’s International Center (WIC) states, “Although these developments [abortion and contraception] have freed women for roles other than motherhood, the cultural pressure for women to become wives and mothers still prevents many talented women from finishing college or pursuing careers.” The WIC portrays being a wife and mother as less laudable than pursuing a career. Even though many women are happily “prevented” from finishing college, feminists treat motherhood as an inconsequential contribution.

The feminist agenda also threatens traditional male roles. Influential feminist Gloria Steinem said, “The cult of masculinity is the basis of every violent, fascist regime. … We need to raise our sons more like our daughters, with empathy, flexibility, patience and compassion.” Some feminists suggest that the patriarchal family is simply a way of oppressing women, and that masculinity only manifests itself in violence against women and other people. Hello, masculinity is not a bad thing. America’s women need courageous, risk taking men.

Not only does the feminist agenda undermine the unique qualities of both genders, but it attempts to lead each gender in the other direction. NOW (National Organization for Women) leader Lt. Col. Karen L. Johnson praised the lifting of a ban which restricted women’s positions in combat situations. However, not only are women less muscularly equipped than men, but they’re also at increased risk for sexual assault if captured. In the quote from Gloria Steinem, she wanted boys to move away from their masculine nature and toward femininity. Women aren’t encouraged to embrace femininity, and men aren’t encouraged to embrace masculinity.

Men and women really are different. A University of Virginia Health System study found male and female behaviors are actually built into our genes. In addition to being biologically suited to being mothers, women are designed to nurture. Men’s genes actually predispose them to more aggressive behavior, which, when used appropriately, can be an asset to society. Masculine behavior can cause men to fight wars and save their countries, lead groups of people, and come to quick decisions.

I am not saying that women are incapable of making decisions or that men can’t be gentle. However, I am saying that because male and female genes have uniquely equipped them, their traditional gender roles shouldn’t be scorned.

What happened to diversity? Why isn’t the diversity of men and women celebrated? Rather than men trying to act more like women, and women trying to act more like men, both genders should be proud of who they are. I have a unique role in society and I’m proud to be a woman.