Tiger…And The Prowling Lion

Published on December 4, 2009 by CT in Blog, Thoughts

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Tiger...And The Prowling Lion

Why pile on Tiger?

I’d say commentary doesn’t have to pile on; commentary can be cruel, or it can be full of grace.  But people are going to be caught up in the current events surrounding the world’s most famous golfer, so there’s an opportunity to for each of us to engage others, and our own hearts, as we consider how we are reacting to this news.

What was your first thought when you heard the news? I’m not surprised—just another celebrity fooling around on his wife?  How dare he—doesn’t he know he’s a role model to millions?  I wonder if I can find pictures of his mistresses?  If I were his wife, I’d leave him?  Who am I to judge; nobody’s perfect?

I think any one of these reactions would be normal.  Even when I try to consider my reaction in the Spirit, I still find a number of competing responses:  Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone; Judge not, that you be not judged; Judge with right judgment.

So it’s hard to know whether or not we should have an opinion, and it’s even harder to know if we should voice it.  More daunting than this is the realization that our enemy is feeding during a time like this.  Peter tells us Satan “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).  And this lion is certainly devouring Tiger, as Tiger wraps his apologies in a veneer of self-justification.

But he’s feasting on us as well when our words reflect anything other than the sweet-tasting fruit of the Spirit.  If Satan can get Tiger to cheat on his wife and try to cover it up, that’s great for him.  But if he can get tens of thousands of us arguing with each other, saying things like, “Who are you to judge?  Nobody’s perfect; we’re only human,” or “What’s the big deal?  Athletes do this all the time,” or “You know, it’s those women who are throwing themselves at him—they’re to blame,” then we’re just another meal.

This is where Jesus lays grace on the table, and when we feast on it, we’re no longer fit for consumption.  Satan has no stomach for grace; he can’t and won’t eat it.  So James tells us to “resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

I think grace-filled humility looks like several things in this situation.  It means acknowledging that God is the ultimate and supreme judge, and that all of us will come under His judgment.  It means then taking every judgmental thought we have (and we have them all the time) to lay them in repentance at the foot of the cross, turning our eyes inward to remove the logs in our own eyes so we can see clearly to remove the speck in our brother’s.  It means we can judge righteously with clarity of sight, not passing over moral transgression as if it doesn’t matter, but not neglecting the knowledge that we judge in the Spirit so the body of Christ may be built up.  And it means praying for many, including Tiger and ourselves, to “repent and believe in the gospel…the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15).

Ultimately, piling on Tiger really looks like joining the global heap of sinners in need of a Savior.  So if Jesus is our greatest treasure and delight, let us be grateful He has prepared a better meal for us:  the Bread of Life to be consumed for His glory and our joy.  And if Jesus is nothing more than a man, or even simply fire insurance, then let us fall at His knees, declaring Him the one true judge, asking that we may come to dine at His glorious table of grace.

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Tomorrow’s Phantom

Published on November 28, 2009 by CT in Blog, Thoughts

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Tomorrow's Phantom

I have always taken comfort in the future.  What I mean is that I’ve always been preparing for something, and that made me feel secure because I knew where I was going, which in turn gave me a sense of control, which in turn made me feel comfortable.

For example, when I was at the Air Force Academy, I knew I was going into the Air Force.  And when I was in the Air Force and going to grad school, I knew I was eventually getting out and going into a business career.  And when I was dating Anna, I knew I was eventually going to get married.  And when she finished grad school, I knew we were eventually going to leave Los Angeles.

It hasn’t been all that different in my spiritual life.  I went through a phase of teaching where I felt like that would be what I would do for God’s kingdom, and I finally felt secure with my place in the Kingdom.  Until I went into my evangelism phase.  And then my homeless ministry phase.  And now I wonder if it’ll be the same with writing.

You’d think by now that I would stop trying to gain so much comfort from what I think my future will hold.  And I think I’m starting to do so.  It’s not because I’m finally embracing Biblical counsel on the matter; it’s because this sense of security is a phantom—it never satisfies.

I suppose this is why James would encourage me:  “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

I think my failure to ultimately find comfort in the future was my failure to embrace my mist-ness.  Which is really a failure to embrace my place in the Kingdom—that of an obedient servant.  Which is why James follows his encouragement with this:  “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”

I think this is why we shouldn’t ever seek comfort in considering our future.  Hope is for the future; comfort is for today.  And the way to have both is the same:  faith in a God who has promised good for our future, and faith in a God who has promised to take care of us today.  Anything short of that will never satisfy.

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Are You Ready For Some Football?

Published on October 10, 2009 by CT in Blog, Thoughts

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Are You Ready For Some Football?

This may be a post that I pull down later. Or maybe it will strike a chord.  I guess we’ll see.

I just scanned my Facebook and Twitter accounts, and I noticed scores and scores of posts about football.  It must be Saturday in the fall.  It’s good to see college pride extending 5 years, 10 years, 20 years.  And I can relate—I have a great affinity for my college (Air Force Academy), although I can’t say it’s because of football.  Football is great.  It brings people together, it provides athletes with a place to use their talents, it provides jobs for thousands of people.

But I wonder if there’s a danger here too.  Not just with football, but with anything that captures our time and energy and excitement week after week.

I suppose part of the question is about our identity.  We think of ourselves as teachers, or engineers, or writers, or stay-at-home moms, or whatever it may be.  And maybe part of how we see ourselves is as an Ohio State fan, or a USC fan, or a UT fan, or a Texas fan, or an Air Force fan.  And it’s good and fine to be a fan.

But there’s some danger in misplaced identity.  Identity breeds purpose, and purpose gives way to priorities, and priorities guide our use of time.  Which is short, and a gift, and meant to be used in ways that shock our imagination and awaken wonder within us, as well as in ways that quietly evidence a life on a mission.

However we see ourselves, our greatest identity is in Jesus. God is making us into the image of Christ.  We are His beloved, His chosen, His sheep, His friends, His brothers and sisters.  I guess I would ask myself this question, and you as well if you think it fits:  what does my heart say about my identity, and what does my use of time say about my identity?

At the end of the day, there’s nothing wrong with watching football or pulling for your team, so long as you don’t love it more than Jesus.

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Sistine Tornado

Published on October 4, 2009 by CT in Blog, Thoughts

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Sistine Tornado

There’s this beautiful video I have seen of a tornado swirling in a violent dance of wind and dust and shadows, and this scene is backlight by towering clouds rising into the air with beams of light bursting through small holes in the clouds.  The tornado spins and bows to the sound of an unheard chorus that is drowned out by the thundering noise it creates as it rumbles through the sky.  Undoubtedly, it is wreaking havoc on the earth wherever it draws near, but from the safety of distance, it appears peaceful, even graceful.

The funnel twirls and dances on and on, but eventually it tires, and as it readies to exit the stage, there’s this moment where its shape begins to change.  Not into a single form, but into two forms connected in a narrow middle.  As the music fades, the video slows to show two fingers, one from above and one from below, grasping tightly to one another.  And then they break from one another, the lower form drifting quietly into the darkness below and the upper form pulling softly into the clouds above.

If you have seen the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, you will know what this pictures looks like.  This funnel is like the hand of God and the hand of man, so very close but yet so far.

Seeing this makes me wonder about Adam’s sin, about the moment Adam and Eve first broke hands with their God.  They must not have fully known the consequences of what they were about to do, for surely they would have thought better of it.  But the fruit of that tree required two hands to take, and so they let go of God’s hand which sealed their fate.  They, like the lower finger of this funnel, fell to earth, a mere shadow of their former glory, and the hand of God withdrew to the heavens.

But the Son shined on in the distance, as God made a sacrifice to clothe their nakedness and promised a coming seed who would conquer the enemy of their soul.  So this is where we live, in separation from the imminence of our God but restored by the light of His Son, eagerly awaiting the day we will rejoin Him in the heavens and renew our dance once more.

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Fairy Tales Are Sometimes True

Published on October 4, 2009 by CT in Blog, Thoughts

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Fairy Tales Are Sometimes True

There is a part of me that loves fairy tales.  Maybe there’s something to the feeling of power that comes in constructing an entirely new world, one that is different, and sometimes better, than my own.  I don’t actually write fairy tales, but when I read them, I’m slowly building this new world sentence by sentence, as if I could just speak the words and the forest or cottage or carriage just materializes out of thin air.  It’s fun feeling powerful.

There are times when I’ve thought Christianity was just a fairy tale.  It’s embarrassing that I have these thoughts, and they actually come more often than you might suspect.  I remember this one time when I brought my co-worker in the Air Force to an evangelistic skit on hell that was put on by my old church, and when I sat there and watched her watch this skit, I had a moment of pause where I wondered if we had just made up this whole notion of God.

In spite of these moments of doubt, I believe in God very deeply, and I even believe in Him superficially.  I’ve grown up in this faith, and it’s really all I ever believed since I can remember believing in something.  What’s interesting to me is all the things I take for granted:  Jonah sitting in that fish, the parting of the Red Sea into two towering walls of water, Elijah running at 140 mph, God hovering over His people as a pillar of fire and smoke.  And I’ve considered these stories to be strange but true facts, like Neil Armstrong landing on the moon.  “What do you mean Jonah got swallowed by a fish?” people say.  “What do you mean Neil Armstrong landed on the moon?” I think.

When I actually considered some of the things we Christians believe, and know, to be true, I get the sense that faith in God makes us a little different.  And God would say the same thing.  “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18).

Here is the wildest of all ideas that we believe, that this God who spoke into nothing, and nothing obeyed and became an eminently glorious something, came out of heaven to become a lowly man, a babe even, to live among such small creatures, to grow and learn and work like they did, to be murdered by them, to rise from the dead by His own power, and then to ascend back to heaven.  This is the stuff of fairy tales.

And I agree, so long as fairy tales are true and the point of all existence.

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