Sunday, March 22, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009

2 Myths from American History

I'm in the middle of a Church History class this semester, and in my reading lately I was reminded of 2 myths that I used to believe from American History:

    Myth #1: Most people came to America for religious liberty. In reality, they were very much fed up with the lack of reform within, specifically, the Anglican Church (at least from a Puritan perspective) and wanted, as Mark Noll puts it, "tighter govermental control of religion than existed in the Old World." [Mark Noll, The Old Religion in the New World: The History of North American Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 74] They were seeking for purity in the Church and the State and assumed that the solution for that would come by starting over somewhere else and then tightening up that link at the new place. (Now, if you're from an Anabaptist background [i.e. Quaker, Mennonite, Amish, et al], your heritage was concerned with a government that did not dictate religious life. But if you're in a Baptist church today, you may be surprised to know that your lineage doesn't draw directly from the Anabaptists!)

    Myth #2: The founders of the US Constitution expected the First Amendment to enforce separation of church and state across the country. In reality, their intention was that this was a state matter and each state should determine what their religious life would look like. They simply did not want the national government to dictate that. In other words, it was assumed that each state would adopt specific religious elements into their makeup. As Noll pointed out (72), 12 of the states then continued to have a religious test required to be taken in order to hold public office.

How does this change or underscore what you've thought about our history and how does it impact your view of the current conditions of our country?

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Questioning Technology's Value in My Life

What's funny about this is that many people assumed I wanted to stop facebook because of it taking up so much of my life. Actually, I don't spend very much time on it, but my concern, rather, is simply trying to find areas in my life that I can distance myself from technology. The nature of my present job requires that I spend 40 hours a week at the computer. I keep track of my finances using a web tool. I read (actually--scan) many blogs using a reader. I check my email frequently (and now, more than I want, my phone keeps beeping to me that I have a new email [thanks, Maranda!]). And occasionally, I write on my blog. As I was talking with Audrea the other night, we were questioning the real value in much of those activities.

I can't get away from the computer entirely because of my job. The online web tool for my finances saves me incredible amounts of time and assists me greatly in controlling spending and maximizing savings. The email seems to be a necessary evil for communication with school, work, and personal business. Aside from that, everything else could go... and I'm real close to doing that.

When I posted a status that I was considering doing this, some people assumed that it was a self-control/time consumption issue. While that is true for many, for me it's simply a distraction and entertainment source that is not adding much value to my incredibly busy life. Interesting and fun, but not extremely helpful (somewhat, but not incredibly). It seems that several of these things could be eliminated and I wouldn't suffer a bit.

Persuade me otherwise...

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Key to Fighting Bitterness

Chris Brauns has written a helpful book on forgiveness: Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds. (Crossway 2008, find it here). In it he deals with bitterness and how it can consume you when you've been hurt deeply. Hear his wise counsel on fighting bitterness:
If you feel yourself wrestling with bitterness, then focus more intently on our glorious God. Savor the providence of God. He is in control of all things. He is perfectly just and cannot be unjust. Bitterness begins when we have been treated unfairly. But if we believe that God will accomplish justice, and if we are simultaneously confident that God is working all things together for our good, if that is our center, then we will beat the stuffings out of bitterness every time.

We tend to say things like, "I truly believe that Jesus died for my sins" or "I do believe that God created the world" and with the same heart allow bitterness to overwhelm us. How are those two connected, you ask? Brauns continues:
Do you doubt that God--who is so commited to justice that he sent his only begotten Son to the cross--do you doubt that he will bring justice to its rightful fruition in the end? Do you have any question that God--who spoke all things into existence, numbers the hairs on your head, and determines the times set for you and the exact places where you live--do you have any question that this God will work all things together for your good?

Remember that God works all things out for his glory and our joy. "At your right hand are pleasures evermore."