Monday, June 30, 2008

What is the chief end of man?

What is the chief end of man?

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”
– question 1 from the Winchester Shorter Catechism (1647)

Psalm 30 shows our true value to God – as worshippers.

Psalm 30 (New Living Translation)
A psalm of David. A song for the dedication of the Temple.

1 I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued me. You refused to let my enemies triumph over me.
2 O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you restored my health.
3 You brought me up from the grave, O Lord. You kept me from falling into the pit of death.
4 Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name.

5 For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.
6 When I was prosperous, I said, “Nothing can stop me now!”
7 Your favor, O Lord, made me as secure as a mountain. Then you turned away from me, and I was shattered.
8 I cried out to you, O Lord. I begged the Lord for mercy, saying,
9 “What will you gain if I die, if I sink into the grave? Can my dust praise you? Can it tell of your faithfulness?
10 Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me. Help me, O Lord.”
11 You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,

12 that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust.

Thinking more about verse 9: If we are destroyed or cast into a pit, what gain is there to God? Can the dust praise God or proclaim his faithfulness? The psalmist bargains, pleads with God concerning his intrinsic value to God – not as preacher, teacher, breadwinner, or any other marketable skill. His main value to God is that of worshiper.

Does this tell us that our main value to God is that we praise Him, and he heals/restores us, giving us joy, so that we can praise Him, sing to Him and thank Him forever?

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Read further about the author of the Doxology, which is actually the final stanza of a song for morning praise.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

It's Not About ME

1 John 3:14-20

The way we know we've been transferred from death to life is that we love our brothers and sisters. Anyone who doesn't love is as good as dead. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know very well that eternal life and murder don't go together.
This is how we've come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.
My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love. This is the only way we'll know we're living truly, living in God's reality. It's also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.

(The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson)

counterculture - noun
a culture with lifestyles and values opposed to those of the established culture
WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.

Ways American culture (and human nature) is opposite from a life lived for Jesus:

love of self / love for others

revenge / forgiveness

protection of self / sacrifice of self

me first / you first

get more / give more away

what is best for me / what is better for you

YouTube / being seen by God's eyes only

15 minutes of fame / legacy lived out in the lifetimes of descendants

work for glory / work as prayer (spoken only to God)

exposure / invisibility

skyscrapers and monuments / slums and orphanages

Is it just American culture that has issues with selflessness? Or is it human nature? Do we excuse too much of our self-centeredness by saying it's "second nature" (or "first nature" as we joked in Watering Hole small group last night)? Do we as Americans own the market on selfishness and simply assume that is the way God made us?

Earlier this week, we spent a day at Monticello - a glorious, intriguing monument to the life of Thomas Jefferson, built on the backs of enslaved people. He gets the glory, they get what's left of their homes' foundations on Mulberry Row.

The very next day, we drove from Charlottesville to Roanoke on the Blue Ridge Parkway. At Humpback Rocks (mileposts 5-9.3) we explored an Appalachian homeplace, including cabin, springhouse, root cellar, barn and farm equipment. I was struck by the differences between Monticello and this hard-working family setting. Monticello was all about Thomas Jefferson; Humpback Rocks was all about anonymity. The irony of Monticello is that its glory does not rightly belong to Thomas Jefferson; it belongs to the enslaved people who made it possible.

Theophilus, a monk who labored to build a cathedral in the twelfth century, writes of his invisibility and anonymity, "I have not written down my precepts for love of worldly praise, nor in hope of a reward here on this earth ... I have wanted to supply the needs and help the progress of many men for the greater honor and glory of His name."

Lord, help me be an invisible worker, faithfully constructing and creating "what I cannot even see myself." I will work for you, knowing that heaven is my greatest purpose. All of the labor for my family and church is creating a foundation for your glory and your honor.

Forgive me when I focus on me.

Read further: The Invisible Woman by Nicole Johnson (2005).

It's all about You, Jesus
And all this is for You
For Your glory and your fame
It's not about me
As if You should do things my way
You alone are God And I surrender to your ways

Jesus, Lover Of My Soul (It's All About You)
by Passion
album: Passion: The Road to One Day (2000)