Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wrestling With our Idols

I recently read Tim Keller's new book, Counterfeit Gods. It's a great work that simply peals back the idolatries that most Westerners share. The subtitle of the book is: The empty promises of money, sex, and power, and the Only Hope that matters. Here's an excerpt from Keller's book:
"We should not think that one culture is less idolatrous than the next.
Traditional societies tend to make the family unit and the clan into an
absolute, ultimate thing. This can lead to honor killings, the treatment of
women as chattel, and violence toward gay people. Western, secular cultures make
an idol out of individual freedom, and this leads to the breakdown of the
family, rampant materialism, careerism, and the idolization of romantic love,
physical beauty, and profit.”

My reading has brought about deep challenges in terms of how influenced I remain by the idols of my own culture, and how counter-cultural I'll become as fullness or worship to Jesus becomes the norm of my own heart.

In a recent article by a friend of mine, Jon Tyson, says the following about how our own idols have made limp our efforts to stand out as light in the world:
"In the midst of this cultural fragmentation [this is evident all around us],
the church has tried to address the problem by calling people to a vision of
true community. But no matter how hard we try, the cultural forces are often too
powerful and persuasive to counteract. We are barely different from our culture
-- busy, driven, individualistic, and disconnected -- and so, we too have lost
our social capital. Our lives lack that mystical missing ingredient. We have become cultural consumers who no longer have the networks, norms, or values for anything other than our own peace and affluence. It shouldn't be this way. As people who are called to be a new and different kind of community -- a city on a hill -- we should offer something toward the common good and the renewal of our world. But because our schedules, practices, values, and networks are often identical to those who are not believers, we lack the ability to offer them anything different than the
fragmenting forces they are already encountering in society. We have somehow
forgotten that we are called to something bigger than our own fulfillment and

It's humbling to realize that the reason most of us aren't shining as lights in our communities is that we've still got traces of false worship in us. The lifestyle changes that would be reflected in different worship aren't visible because my worship is still polluted. We are still worshiping at the temples of our culture in the pursuit of "our own fulfillment and dreams."

Jesus called us to be a city on a hill. That won't happen because of any ingenious plan we can concoct to make impact in our neighborhoods. It will only happen when Jesus is the sole aim of all my affections, hopes, wants, and faith.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New York City

I'm in NYC with Angie this week to spend five days with other church planters from around the country. I've been looking forward to the time for over a month, now, and can't wait to see how Jesus stirs in my heart as a result of the conversations with them.

Today Angie and I were able to just have some fun in the city. We started the day with a few hour tour of the Metropolitan Museum and followed that up with a stroll through Central Park. We had hot dogs for breakfast and for lunch. Seeing all the hot dog stands in the city made me wonder how many hot dogs are consumed in NYC on a daily basis. It's got to be a big number.

This evening we worked our way through the subway system down to Times Square. Quite a place! Reminded me of the Vegas Strip in some ways. After dinner we were walking back to the subway station when a kind woman walked up to me and asked if I'd like two tickets to Billy Elliot. "Sure. How much do you want for them?" I asked as I noticed $114.00 printed on the top ticket. "They're free for you to use if you are able to go into the show. It starts in five minutes. We had four people from our group fail to show up and we don't want them to go to waste."

So in we went to our first Broadway show, jeans, tennis shoes, and all. The performance was tremendous. That was quite a surprise.

The Lord showed us again that his provision is always at hand, even when it comes to unneeded Broadway tickets. We were very thankful for the reminder.

Me and Angie

Me and Angie
December 2010