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Posts Tagged ‘culture’

Here we are today living in a world where technology, telecommunications and air travel, have created a world that is more connected.
People that have long been isolated from one another by vast tracks of land or oceans who over many, many generations developed independent cultures, languages and codes of ethics are now finding new mediums to share information and are merging into people belonging to a “Global village”. A new world is emerging….so they tell us.

The sovereignty of independent nations is being subtly yet increasingly suppressed through global governing bodies such as United Nations and the European Union. Presidents, prime ministers and monarchy are all beginning to sing the same tune about Global economies, free trade and shared global objectives. Even religious leaders have been singing the tune and many Popes have called for a,” New world Order”. Developed countries are all moving toward the center of a globally unified system of governance and the third world countries are invited to come on board.

Closer to home I am increasingly being reminded about my “global responsibilities” I am being told to “Act locally and think globally” such as participating in our local curb side recycling program.

I am instructed through media that my “Social principles” must be of the sort that can be accepted in any culture in order to be politically correct; they must be for the “Common good” of all peoples. So don’t offend anyone with a contrary opinion to the new standard of tolerance and acceptance of others and their lifestyles or views. I think they forget that you can truly love someone and at the same time be entirely against their religion or lifestyle. Or are all such people with contrary views haters? No they are not.

In all of these ideas there is a backdrop of manipulation of conscience, heaven forbid if you throw your star bucks cup into the waste section rather than the recycling one!!!

Recycling is good to be sure, but if the collective conscience of humanity takes a greater offence at a person failing to recycle than it does to ignoring it’s responsibility toward God, then society is straining out the gnat swallowing a camel.

At the risk of offending the many,( while still loving them) let me simply say that this idea of building a society without correct reference to God has been tried and has failed. It is not a “New World Order” it is an “Old rebellion”.

If you don’t believe me just ask yourself why the symbol of unity used as a visual motif by the EU is a reproduction of the famous painting of the tower of Babel. Yes the tower of Babel the original great rebellion. A colossal failure…..

Jesus Christ is the Lord, he overcame the world, and he certainly has no interest in our “New World Order” and as a believer either do I. Here I stand.
tower of babble EU

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In chapter V of Spiritual Depression,  D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones presses forward  with The Light of the Gospel and its practical implications for liberating the depressed believer who finds himself in a perpetual state of self loathing over the remembrance of some past sin.

(It is this readers opinion that the anointing of God continues to attend the work of Lloyd-Jones and use what was rendered  by him in service to God and His people.  I find it impossible to read This work  in Spiritual Depression and think of it only as it applied to “The people of Lloyd-Jones day” .  No , there is always that sense of  Lloyd -Jones being a minister grabbing my lapels and bringing me mind to mind with biblical doctrine as though he is saying. “This my friend, is a  doctrinal medicine for you, take it  and you will soon experience it’s healing effects upon your soul”   and I do.)

Lloyd-Jones  does take into consideration the interplay of Satan with regard to the  bringing of such accusing thoughts to the child of God but spends little time on that particular aspect of things. Instead, he delivers  sound doctrine to his primary subject, ( the child of God). It is a fully fleshed out doctrine in this chapter and I will not seek to cover the entire fleshing out in one Post.

A very perceptive Lloyd-Jones,  essentially calls such a spiritually depressed person to a new kind of  “wakefulness” ,to a , “standing at attention position”, and to an  “at  the ready” active participation in taking hold of the doctrine of   “Salvation”. Here Lloyd-Jones seeks to bring death to  any “spiritualized passivity”.

He heartily states:

Let me put this plainly and bluntly in order that I may emphasis it even at the risk of being misunderstood. There is a sense in which the one thing that these people who are in this condition must not do is to pray to be delivered from it!  That is what they always do, and that is what hey have invariably been doing when they come seeking help- indeed, it is what they are generally told they must do….but this is one of those points at which the Christian must stop praying for a moment and  begin to think!

At this point I think it is important to think. To think about what is being said here.  If I understand this correctly and take a look at Christian experience  I  can certainly see a very important truth here.  Lloyd -Jones is rightly stating  that fully actively engaging  our minds is as spiritual an act as prayer.  That though prayer is a wonderful privilege and a mighty tool, it is the wrong tool in this case. That the right tool, the most spiritually appropriate tool, in this case is, the mind fully engaged with the doctrinal truth of the gospel  of Salvation.

I think that this is plenty to chew on for a start.

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Within the very first pages of  Lloyd -Jones book ,Spiritual depression, the believer is re-acquainted  with the inverted values that exist within the life of faith.   Namely, that there is a stark honesty that must exist in faith and relationship to God. The kind of honesty that leaves one greatly exposed, examined and laid bare.  This is exactly the kind of  stark honesty we see again and again displayed in the lives of  those individual characters found in the bible. These individuals were very imperfect people yet also in every sense “An open book”.

Lloyd -Jones  draws the attention of his readers to this reality within the lives of biblical characters and especially to the deep and revealing nature of the Psalms. He says of the Psalms,

“Here we are able to watch noble souls struggling with their problems and with themselves. They talk to themselves and to their souls, baring their hearts, analyzing their problems, chiding and encouraging themselves. Sometimes they are elated, at other times depressed, but they are always honest with themselves. That is why they are of such value to us if we are also honest with ourselves” P.9

I love the descriptions  Lloyd-Jones uses here. Struggling, baring hearts, analyzing problems, being elated, depressed, honest with themselves.

(It is important to note that the  honesty  referred to here by the very  nature  of its biblical context ,exists in relation to an honesty with oneself before a  loving God who is Holy and perfect in himself.)

Yet this is a very inverted value system when compared to the value system outside of the reality of faith. Whereas faith is the striping down of ones soul before a great and mighty  and merciful God, the  unbelieving world holds all such notions as the worst kind of weakness.  The world’s values are strength, independence, being self-directed and putting on up an outward image that masks any internally recognized weakness. Vulnerabilities  are seen as a great enemy of the self according to the unwritten code of worldly values.

To answer the question, “Do we come across such a condition as spiritual depression in the scriptures?” Lloyd -Jones brings us to    Psalm 42:5,

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.”

Ah yes, its all there, in those two questions, the depth of the very soul, the disquieted, restless condition, the self talk and  honesty. This is no doubt a spiritually depressed state. This also is no doubt a person of true faith as well because in his vulnerability  weakness and distress he knows that God is His help. He is not his own Help. God is.

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In the interest of bringing a degree of objectivity I will answer some basic questions as to why I am reading “Spiritual Depression” authored by D. Martin Lloyd Jones.

Why do I want to read this book?

There are a few reasons, but certainly at the outset, the very combination of the first two words in the title of D. Martin Lloyd Jones book “Spiritual Depression” reach out and grab me. The stark honesty of that combination of words placed together speaks to my human soul where two realities often meet in my innermost being, that which is “Spiritual”, and that which is, “Depression”.

The title then actually brings me a small and immediate sense of relief in the fact that it authenticates a condition that is seldom (if ever) shared in conversation between people yet is often part of a person’s experience.  There is something in that alone that brings a breath of reviving.

The second reason, which quickly follows the first, is found in the last part of the title which  is (Its causes and its cure)  which promise insight and hope for the person who will sit down with the good Doctor Martin Lloyd Jones and  undergo a thorough examination and submit to receiving prescribed medicine.  (Lloyd Jones was a medical doctor before becoming a Theologian-Pastor.)

A third reason, which is surely the most objective, is that I have never read this book, though it has been in my personal library for years. I’m not completely sure how I even came to posses it.

Now I come to a few more honest questions.

Why don’t I want to read this book?

(Yes, why haven’t I read this book despite the fact that I have owned it so long?)

The first reason for not wanting to read this book, ironically, comes from the first two words of the title, Spiritual Depression. It seems much like a piercing light that threatens to exposes the rather darkened corners of the inner human experience, and not just any experience but one I know. So there is the relief of exposure on the positive side and the agony of exposure on the other.

Another reason, in the same irony and in a continuation of the same thoughts comes from the second part of the title “its causes and its cure”.  There are really two promises here, one to search for the roots of the problem and the other to remedy the problem but, (and this is the hard part), these promises in order to become effective, require a commitment from the reader; (in this case myself), a commitment to submit to the tools and process of perhaps radical surgery and all without the aid of either local or general anaesthetic.  In the economy of spiritual realities there can be no dulling of either pain or joy.

So I move forward hopeful, committed and with a slight perspiration on my brow as I currently sit in the waiting room of a pastor- theologian- physician, D. Martin Lloyd Jones, who had in his lifetime upon earth, served the Great Physician Jesus Christ in bringing health to people just like you and I for the purposes of God and man.

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I am endeavoring to read through Spiritual Depression by  D. Martin Lloyd Jones.

I plan on reading, learning and then commenting on it.  This is not a review or a critique but an exercise.

Here is a great link with some audio of Lloyd Jones preaching. (I am not selling the book and do not profit from the advertisement of it).

Enjoy-

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Thinking Critically

Have you ever been in the middle of watching a news program, sitting in a classroom  or (been caught up in an infomercial) and suddenly thought ,” Wait a minute, what am I being fed here? I am not  just being informed but  subtly told how I should think, feel, and react to the information being presented”.

With the infomercial we catch on pretty quick ( but it’s so tempting to believe that we too could have those rock hard abs in just 4 weeks with only 30 seconds a day of the ” Ab-maestro”).  We want the abs, they want our money, usually in just 27 easy payments of  $14 (plus shipping and handling).

But who really goes for that stuff anyway?  Actually,enough people buy that stuff to allow the seller to pay for hour-long commercials.  Yeah.

We may have little respect for the authority of the infomercial but when we have a person in a trusted  position of authority on our television, such as a news anchor person, a  popular talk show host,  or a beloved teacher in a classroom, our tendency is to accept  what we are hearing somewhat uncritically. In  all of these situations we are lead in a particular direction or to come to a particular conclusion. That’s how we become informed positively (or misinformed).

Often we are told what to believe or what to accept. It is always subtle and we end up  buying not only into the news facts but the bias presentation of  the news story. The background banter between the anchor and co-anchor as they shake their head or nod to one another in approval to the stories developments or outcome.   We are expected to swallow more than  the facts we are expected to agree with the presentation itself , after all, the people presenting the bias are authority figures, they carry weight, they reflect the “proper opinion” don’t they?

Persuasion is a  good teaching tool but critical thinking looks past the apparatus to weigh the facts , sometimes to bring those facts in contact with other facts left out of the argument and to simmer those facts together to find critical truth.

Think about the most controversial subjects (Rights of the unborn vs pro-choice or, intelligent design verses evolutionary theory)  we are told what opinion is politically correct , all through  the presentation of facts, and  our little boat is pushed out onto the waters of society adrift along with others and floating on popular opinion. This creates societal peer pressure. In fact these are almost of no controversy anymore due to the continued political correct agenda of the presentation of news media.

Teachers will be marking your paper. Now there’s incentive to tell them what they want to hear. If it is a paper written on a controversial subject like rights of the unborn vs pro-choice . You can bet the pressure will to be to toe the line and weight the discussion to the popular opinion. ( Would an ethics class even consider this topic?) I wonder.

Or try postulating the concept of Intelligent design in a classroom exploring the theory of origins and evolutionary theory.

It is a theory isn’t it?  yet there is no other postulation to be brought to the table?  I mean stuff to make you think!!!

Think about the effect that political correctness has had on the exchange ideas in the public forum. In the space of  one single generation people  have made a 180 degree turn on some  the major issues of life and world-view.

We are not to be conspiracy theorists and we may have to be careful about what we say to whom ,or we will have no voice at all, but certainly we posses our own mind and with this amazing mind we have a tremendous capacity to think critically and to own what we believe and not just be drifting along with no purpose and no well thought out world view and conviction on important issues.

So watch the news, ( maybe turn off the infomercials and the talk-show host) and hear your teachers but own you mind and own your convictions don’t give them away to the world.

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The Writings of C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia, have been highly publicized through the production of the  movies that have come out over the last few years. (I saw most of them twice and I think I enjoyed them even more than my children, though we all loved them).

But there is no substitute for reading the stories first hand. C.S. Lewis is and will always be one of my favorite authors.

In fact I  distinctly remember reading the stories, (starting with The Magicians Nephew )  to my son. I was jumping around the room speaking with different voices and an English accent. I could see his eyes widen and his expression change as the stories characters were literally leaping  of the page. ( well I was leaping). Several times as my wife was reading to my daughter in the other room or doing night-time prayers, I could hear them saying ” What on earth is going on in there” or  What are they doing in there?”  Chairs were falling over, I was leaping ,I  would knock on the wall to represent the knock on a door and so on, to enhance the story’s imagery. ( I was often reminded that we were to be settling the children down, not winding them up). Sometimes my daughter would want to hear the story I was telling, not mom’s.  She was always welcome but was more on the quiet side and would get up and leave if we were getting out of hand.

Reading both My sons expressions and the book I would heightened the sense of suspense at the appropriate times. Working with the words of Lewis, I made the bad characters sinister and the good characters noble. I made the children in the book wonder filled and Aslan, well there was no doubt who Aslan represented. He was Powerful, Good, Eternal and a Saving Lion, not a tame lion mind you, but a good Lion.

I loved that time.

C.S Lewis  had a way of opening up the gift of imagination in the way he tells a story. He once was a thorough going atheist and I respect him for that because when he came to faith, he came to it in God’s timing through a mind that was willing to engage great truths without backing down. He was willing to accept where  the evidences pointed him, and no doubt God was calling Lewis see Him as He is. He allowed the weight of the crisis ” That God indeed exists and can be known” to settle on him for his good.

Lewis once convinced and committed, then used his gifts to tell  “The Great Story”.

Here is Lewis in His own words speaking about his allegorical writing in the time in which he lived,

“until the theologians and the ordained clergy begin to communicate with ordinary people in the vernacular, in a way that they can understand, I’m going to have to do this sort of thing.”

Today of course the pulpit does communicate to the ordinary people in the vernacular ( at least in the protestant denominations that I know) but C.S Lewis contribution  to the fabric of Philosophical thought ,faith and story telling belongs to the church of believers, he is one of our dear brothers who  I love to read.

If you ever want to get into some serious C.S. Lewis though you have to read his other works.

Here are a few suggestions

Mere Christianity  http://www.amazon.ca/Mere-Christianity-C-S-Lewis/dp/0060652926

Surprised by Joy  http://www.amazon.com/Surprised-Joy-Shape-Early-Life/dp/0156870118

The weight of Glory  http://www.amazon.com/Weight-Glory-C-S-Lewis/dp/0060653205/ref=pd_sim_b2

A grief observed  http://www.amazon.com/Grief-Observed-C-S-Lewis/dp/0060652381/ref=pd_sim_b8

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