Friday, December 21, 2012

Swedish Bitters, Thomas Watson, and Pleasure

My dad has this weird thing where certain foods are too sweet. Excuse me? "Too sweet" is not an idea that I can even wrap my head around. That's basically like saying, "Life is too good," or "the sky is too blue." Surely, this is a concept that does not exist. I refuse to believe it.

Out of things I hate, three things I know: NyQuil, holes in my socks, and Swedish Bitters.

"What are Swedish Bitters?" you ask?

Stop yelling and I'll tell you.

Swedish Bitters is a drink basically concocted in the cauldrons of the nether-world. It's made from the concentrated forms of everything you know that's bitter: bad coffee, limes, your ex-wife. (Too far?) Essentially, it's everything you'd never want to drink. In a bottle. And it's Swedish. Which is a shocker, 'cuz the Swedes started off so well with their fish and meatballs. (Yup, too far.)

Anyway, my dad loves the stuff. Guy drinks a little bit everyday. Do I understand this behavior? No. Do I almost revisit my lunch every time I smell the open bottle? Yes.

"Till sin be bitter; Christ will not be sweet."

Thomas Watson was an interesting man. He rejected the Church of England during his lifetime in the 1600s, which was huge. This labeled him as what was called a "Noncomformist." He died while praying in secret. And he also stumbled across this very striking idea that the love, or even tolerance of sin is in direct opposition of the pleasure of Christ. The Psalmist would put it this way:
"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16) 
In other words, it is not only a question of what your love/tolerance of sin points to as far as the condition of your heart, but of whether or not you really want to experience the fullness of Joy found in Christ. This would be akin to a child throwing a tantrum because he wants to put his hand on the stove while his parent is instead trying to offer him some cake. And let's be real: who doesn't love cake?

So, will you today take the cake, or burn your hand once more on the flame of your ultimately regretful desires?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Reactions to Sandy Hook

The idea of functioning normally was blown away as quickly as the bullets which left the barrel of Adam Lanza's gun. The plans were made in advance. I was going to spend the night hanging out with my friends and family, but having a good time and joking around didn't seem like the appropriate response to the horror filling the hearts of dozens and dozens of families at that very moment.

You don't really prepare for these kinds of things. You just react. And the reaction is the most important thing.

Hearing about twenty-eight dead women and children sparks things in people that they didn't really know they had in them to begin with. Some feel the sorrow of a thousand dark nights cover their souls. Some feel distant, disconnected, and wishing to be more passionate. Some are painted in the murderous wrath which is aggravated with a feeling of helplessness.

We're talking about kids.

Virginia Tech was one thing. Columbine was a tragedy. My hearts go out to those affected in those shootings, and this in no way lessens the devastation they dealt and are dealing with, but unloading a gun multiple times into a child's body at a close range is something different entirely. A child is someone who cannot fight. Tears are the only response that can come from a little girl or boy with cold steel pressed up to their forehead. Demonic doesn't begin to describe what's going on here.

And, while our reaction is crucial, God's reaction to this is of much more substance.

During times like these, millions of spiteful, hatred-filled questions fill the air, forming an attack on how a loving God could let this sort of thing happen. Now, the response for that is a much more complex idea than what can be written on a humble site such as this, but to put it as briefly as possible, I turn to the Scriptures.

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
God is still loving. God is still omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. God is still our Savior in times of need. The Scriptures are filled to the brim with making the point that God cares deeply for women and children. It is no small thing to God that these are the very people that were affected today.

So if you weep today, know that God weeps with you, and is near. Simply reach.


Friday, December 7, 2012

They're Waiting for You

Dear _______,

He's watching your every step. Every time he sees you, he waits to mimic your success so he can be victorious as well. To him, every word of yours might as well be liquid gold. He waits for you to one day acknowledge him, and give him the love that he needs.

Only, he can't, because those two things you call your legs are no longer working. You're crippled. He will never have the opportunity to see your success, because your road to progress has been a downward slope. That gold coming out of your mouth might as well be sewage, and you won't even be able to acknowledge him, because you've never even met him.


We're talking about the little boy that you may or may not have an impact on in the future. You don't know each other yet, but when you meet him, will you be in a place to change his life?

Because as it stands now, you've been wallowing in sin, and it's destroying your testimony.

How will you teach him to be humble when your ultimate desire is to build your own legacy? How will you teach him to flee from lust when your eyes are peeled to every skirt that walks past you? How will you teach him to love others when the slightest of offenses creates in you an anger rivaled only by The Hulk? How will you teach him to use his time wisely when you spend hours on only the most supremely banal of pursuits?


Will you sacrifice this boy's victory for this momentary pleasure? Will you throw away the opportunity to point him past your glass cage to the God who lives inside? To show him that satisfaction rests outside of anything he's ever known?

That window of time is growing smaller. Your moments of pleasure are making your time shorter than an overused pencil. And the more of it you spend drowning in sin is the same amount of time you could be using to save someone else lost at sea.

"Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." (2 Cor. 5)

So, are you going to strap on a life jacket, or will you continue to drown? Remember, he's waiting.



This letter is addressed to me.