“You’re the best!”
“Keep it up, kid!”
My generation is built on hot air. We crave the tasty morsels of a compliment as a heroin addict sells his soul for a hit. We’ve been told we’re great from before we could even spell the word. Our homes were built with shrines honoring our early accomplishments. You got your yellow belt in karate? Let’s hang it up. As we grew up and went to school to be educated in the essentials of life, our only discipline was when we weren’t saying nice things to our classmates. Might as well have put a sign up in the classroom that read, “These are the forbidden F-words: Failure, Forfeit, & Freak.” No one failed, because we’re all winners. No one forfeits, because there was no competition. No one’s a freak, because we’re all unique. We were all great and even if it became painfully evident that not everyone was, we were encouraged to fake it. Now, there’s a useful F-word.
I wish someone was brave enough to tell me the truth. I think honesty is more strengthening than flattery. Character is built upon reality.
You see, our generation was doomed from the beginning. Our lives were built on the precariousness of our own own egos. It’s equivalent to building a skyscraper on top of a marble. We were so filled with lies that once our ego exploded in our face, we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. Up until that point, we had never experienced failure or heard the sweet sound of rejection. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we need to stop affirming one another, complimenting each other, or encouraging a friend. That’s all fine and well. But maybe what we do need in our generation is a healthy dose of “you suck” with a side of “no”. Maybe that’s what we need to remedy this epidemic that’s killing our generation. Maybe that will kill our pride. Maybe that will drown our sense of entitlement.
I think this is where the Gospel becomes fresh life-giving news for the heart that craves a dose of painful reality. We’ve been so adorned with our own “greatness” that it’s become nearly impossible to see our own depravity. But when met with it, most respond with a deep sigh of relief. Finally, something that makes sense. I am fallen. I am mistake prone. I am broken. I am not great.
Depravity is good news, not only because it kills our pride, but because it helps us to see things as they really are. Yet we never forget, in our sin, Jesus came to us so that He may purchase our redemption. He is the truly great one. He is the one deserving of all praise. He is the perfect one. And it’s in Him that we find our true identity: great sinners saved by a greater Grace.
You suck, but God is good.
December 7, 2009 Cover
Y2K. Botched Presidential Election. 9/11. War in Afghanistan & Iraq. Corporation Bankruptcy. Mad-cow & SARS. Tsunami killing 200,000 in Southeast Asia. Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Radical Islamic Bombings. Bird Flu. Gas Prices Skyrocket. Steroids in Sports. Virginia Tech Shootings. Moral Failures by Politicians, Preachers, Celebrities, & Sports Figures. Stocks Plummet. Car Industry Fails. Ponzi Scheme. H1N1. Unemployment.
A daunting list by any standard, but only the “lowlights” of an otherwise forgettable decade. What are we going to call this one? “The Decade of Doom”? Whatever we call it, one can hardly argue that it was a decade full of heartache, shattered dreams, and uncertainty. I’m usually a glass half-full type of guy, but even I can appreciate a good buzz kill when it’s due. And if anything, this decade was a huge wake-up call. We can conjecture all we want about how and why we got here and how we’re going to pull ourselves out of this hole, but it’s pointless. Andy Serwer, the author of the The Decade from Hell in the issue of Time Magazine showed above, says, “So here’s the big question: Why? Why did so much bad stuff happen in this decade? Was it just rotten luck or something more? Sure, some of it was simply randomness, but I think a strong case can be made that it was more than just chance that got things so bollixed up.”
You’re right and you’re wrong, Andy. I’ll tell you this for sure. It wasn’t just randomness. Evil? Maybe. But random? Definitely, not. There’s much more too it. It’s the age-old story really: God creates man. God loves man. Man loves himself. Man chases after other gods. Man chases after false idols with false hopes. Man is left wanting. Man dies never finding true contentment.
And more than previous years, it was in this last decade that our Nation’s idols were tested. If America stands for anything we stand for the American Dream: Health, Wealth, & Happiness. But all three were found wanting this decade. Our health was tried by the frenzy of flu. Our wealth was waned by the spiraling stock market. And our happiness was interrupted by terror and tragedy. America’s idols proved to be lackluster. Yet, America seemed to find more and more hope in their false idols. They chased after their counterfeit gods all the more when they were stripped away. They held even tighter to their empty dreams.
So here’s the deal folks, we’re in Redemptive History. God promised deliverance for His people. Jesus came once and He will surely come again. Even the creation groans and eagerly awaits His coming. Meanwhile, we’re going to see the ugly head of sin rear itself over and over and over and over and over again. We’re going to witness the rise and fall of false idols. This decade was just a preview of things to come. But good news…there’s hope.
However gloomy the first ten years of the 21st century may have seemed, there was room enough for celebration. Not only did the Red Sox win a World Series, but the Nation voted in the first Black President. But what I find most encouraging is what seems to be an undercurrent toward orthodoxy in Jesus’ Church. Old and young are being beckoned back to the Cross. The Church is realizing its deep need for the Gospel. The Body of Christ is showing signs of unity and reconciliation. But even that shouldn’t complete our hope.
Our hope lies in the truth that God is the same God yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Jesus is alive. And the Spirit lives in us. That’s why we have hope. A hope that tomorrow we’ll live by Grace through Faith. A hope that tomorrow God will be good to His people. And a hope that Jesus will be back…real soon.
I’m serious when I say this, but I really think these two messages changed the course of my life…
My Conviction in a Nutshell
Preposition #1: God is the ultimate good or else He would not be God. Then our joy is most complete in Him, because He is the ultimate good.
Preposition #2: Love is only true when you are looking out for the best interests of the other person. Therefore, for God to glorify and magnify Himself, it is not megalomania, because He’s simply loving us in working all things for His glory.
Conclusion: For God to reveal more of Himself to us and point our joys in His direction, is the ULTIMATE expression of love. And when we pursue God in this way, there is no greater calling and act of service then to allow for others to see the glories of God.
My head feels like it’s going to explode.
I only have classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays this semester, but at the end of the day it’s like I’m on sensory overload. It’s kinda like the feeling after you’ve been strapped inside that virtual roller coaster ride at the amusement park for 8 hours and then you step back out into reality – it’s dizzying.
One thing I can be sure of is that the Word of God is so rich and deep and His realities are so majestic and huge that I can spend a lifetime learning and researching, but will only end up skimming the surface. It’s times like these that I just sit in my chair and am wow’ed by how big God really is.
But the application here is, where does that knowledge lead to. Does it lead to transform into more and more of His likeness or will I twist and delude it for my own gain? I want my mind to be set on high. For it to be held captive by Christ, who is Wisdom. I want not for my thoughts to be mere mental exercise, but fruit bearing work. Wow, I need Jesus.
Is it frivolous to fret? I would say yes.
But all this is up for debate.
I say this not to diminish any real feeling of worry or anxiety that one experiences, because those are genuine feelings. I have to concede that. But, in light of a Biblical worldview, what can we say about God who is Immanuel, God with us? Is human fear not the inadequacy of faith? Should we not live in the reality that God is with us; here, now, and forevermore?
just a thought.
The Gospel is all about Grace, then Law. Religion is about do it, then I will love you. The Gospel is about I love you, so do it.
The Old Testament God is this way: God delivers His people from the grips of Egypt, then gives them the Law in the form of the Ten Commandments through Moses on Mt. Sinai.
The New Testament God is this way: God sends his only Son to this world only to send Him to the Cross to show His great love for us, then commissions us and calls us to be holy as He is holy.
God is consistent. He is the same then and now. The Gospel has always been good news. And I hope it always stays that way.
That’s right. I said it. Christmas is for Babies!
It’s the most amazing miracle that never happened on 34th street – God came down to us. How ridiculous does that sound to you right now? It’s pretty ridiculous to me, for sure! But the truth of the matter is…well, that it’s true. God chose to take on human form so that His son Jesus could walk the earth more perfectly than any human ever could only to fulfill His ultimate purpose of dying on the cross and resurrecting from the dead, all for the salvation of mankind. It’s a ridiculous plot and story, I know! But it’s the Gospel.
The Gospel wasn’t meant to make a whole lot of sense. The Gospel wasn’t supposed to be just another story that’s told on certain days and then placed back on the shelf to collect dust. The Gospel wasn’t meant to create fuzzies in hearts. The Gospel wasn’t meant to fit neatly in packaging. The Gospel wasn’t meant to be peddled and sold. The Gospel wasn’t meant to tickle the ear.
The Gospel was meant to shock and overturn. It draws a distinct line on the most important issue of all: the soul. The Gospel is supposed to be amazing. Why? Because it’s about Jesus – the son of God who came down from heaven to this earth.
The Gospel is good news because God is Emmanuel – “God with us”. The Gospel is good news because of babies, especially one sweet little baby named Jesus.
Christmas is about the Gospel. Christmas is about a baby.