Monday, October 29, 2007

Perfectly imperfect

I am a perfectionist. Certain things have to be a certain way. Now, you would never think that I was a perfectionist by looking at me or my place of residence. The pants that I am currently wearing have not been washed in over a week, and my shoes are not all lined up at the foot of my bed. Yet, despite the overwhelming evidence of untidiness, I am a perfectionist none the less. One need look no further than this blog for ample proof. Not only do I use spell check on every post, but I've even been known to consult a dictionary before I click publish. That's right ladies and gentlemen, I actually spell check my spell check. But if you think my blogging habits are bad, you should see me prepare a sermon. Every sentence must be measured for articulation and insight. What causes me to exhibit such anal retentive tendencies? Why do I lose sleep and peace over words? Why do I preach as if one stutter, one stumble, or one drawn blank will bring an onslaught of rotten tomatoes from an unimpressed congregation?

I could come up with a lot of noble reasons for my plight. I could tell you that I want to be a good steward, and present a clear, meaningful message. I've believed each of those reasons at one time or another. But ultimately it comes down to this; I'm afraid to be vulnerable, or to be real, for fear of rejection. My words need to be perfect, because I need to be accepted. I'm realizing that this is not how God intended me to live. God wants me to be at peace, and to have a sense of contentment and rest, no matter what value others may give me.

On a related note, I've been thinking a lot about entire sanctification lately. I've been trying to imagine what it might look like. I think it will look different for different people, seeing as how we have all taken different detours from the path of righteousness. I believe that for me, it will look a lot like contentment. There will be a ceasing of all striving and straining. Peace and rest will finally come to replace my compulsive self-reliance. To me, perfection is finally being able to embrace my imperfections. I will be perfect when I stop trying to be perfect. God is worthy of my trust. He is far more reliable than my intellect. He's even got a step on spell check.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Confessions of a glutton

I like food. I like it a lot. I like it hand-dipped, chicken-fried, and smothered in gravy. I like it with a side of mashed potato's. I like to chase it with an ice-cold glass of sweet tea (AKA-the nostalgic nectar of yesteryear). In all probability, you like food too. In fact, the very reading of these first few sentences is likely to have stoked your salivary glands, and left you with a notion to hit the pantry for that half-a-Swiss roll your wife left. The question is obviously not if we love food. The perpetual affection for calories is an enduring distinctive of the human condition. The question is why. Why do we love food? Why are we compelled to consume more than is good for us?

Well, I don't want to speak for you, or to rob you of the joy of discovery, but I can tell you why I love food. For me, it's not the taste of food that keeps me coming back for more. No, my love lies in the feeling of fullness. I love to feel stuffed. I like to gorge myself to the point of dry-heaval. I like for my meals to force me into a pair of unflattering sweat-pants. The reason for this, I believe, is that the feeling of fullness is the feeling of self-sufficiency. Each time I fill my stomach to capacity, I secretly tell myself; " I can do this!" Silencing my hunger pains helps me temporarily forget my mortality. When I'm filled to the brim, I'm no longer faced with the inconvenience of trusting God for my next meal.

So what do I do? Well, I can start by rediscovering the fast as a means of grace. The occasional denial of my most primitive drive is the least I can do to reclaim my dependence. But in my battle against gluttony, I need more than just a weekly fast. I need for the spirit of the fast to penetrate my every meal. Come to think of it, feasting once-a-week would likely do my soul more good than fasting once-a-week.

It was pointed out to me this past week that the first temptation of man, and the first temptation of Christ both dealt with food. The enemy must know something. He must know that if he can get us to indulge our innate drive for food, he can practically annihilate our drive for God.

Could it be that our quest for calories is about more than just our love for Grandma's homemade biscuits and apple-butter? In truth, is it not more about our pursuit of self-sovereignty?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

AG update

Anna Grace is about 2 1/2 months old now. She has come a long way since her short stay in the hospital due to a viral infection. Her mommy is now germaphobic but she's doing great.

mohawk baby

hanging out with uncle chad.

singing with grandpa.

Monday, October 1, 2007

To the left, to the left

Those of us raised in the relative conservatism of the Wesleyan Church, know all about the rules and regulations of organized religion. We have grandmothers who won't wear make-up, and grandfathers who won't wear wedding-bands. We couldn't play organized sports on Sundays. We couldn't play cards ever. And we pledged a weekly allegiance to the Bible and the flag. My, how things have changed. It doesn't take a sociologist to observe that today's crop of Christian leaders walking out of Wesleyan colleges and seminaries, are stepping a little more to the left than did their predecessors. It seems that we've traded our CYC sashes for " Coexist" t-shirts, while tee totalling has given way to tolerance.

Of course, there's a lot of good in this. Our freedom and openness brings an attraction that legalism lacked. We've become peddlers of a more inclusive salvation. We're tuned in to the world around us, and we're not afraid to ask the tough questions. Neither are we afraid to break down racial boundaries, and we recognize that God and country are not synonymous. Yet, in our rejection of the past, God forbid that we forget what our forefathers were reacting against. In our contempt for legalism, may God give us the foresight to see that there's death in the other ditch as well.

The root of left-wing Christianity is an emphasis on the here and now. If it doesn't help us here, and if it doesn't help us now, it doesn't help us period. It is, by necessity, a lateral movement. It is us moving toward our brother in charity and good-will. Anything that halts, or delays this movement, is to be rejected. Followed to its logical conclusion, it leads to an outright denial of supernatural intervention and revelation. Waiting on miracles keeps us from solving the problem ourselves. Therefore, miracles must be shunned. Somebody needs to tell Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Tolstoy, and our other enlightened brothers that a Gospel without miracles is a Gospel without hope.

The old Wesleyan guard is dying off. My concern is that our future state may look shockingly similar to the present state of the United Methodist Church, unless we slow our leftward slide. In the end, I'd rather argue over the color of the carpet than the deity of Christ.