On December 2, 2014 at the Lake Worth, Florida City Commission Meeting, self-proclaimed “activist,” Preston Smith, offered the following invocation:
Mother Earth, we gather today in your redeeming and glorious presence, to invoke your eternal guidance in the universe, the original Creator of all things. May the efforts of this council blend the righteousness of Allah with the all-knowing wisdom of Satan.
May Zeus, the great God of justice, grant us strength tonight. Jesus might forgive our shortcomings while Buddha enlightens us through His divine affection. We praise you, Krishna, for the sanguine sacrifice that freed us all. After all, if Almighty Thor is with us, who can ever be against us?
And finally, for the bounty of logic, reason, and science, we simply thank the atheists, agnostics, Humanists, who now account for 1 in 5 Americans, and [are] growing rapidly. In closing, let us, above all, love one another, not to obtain mythical rewards for ourselves now, hereafter, or based on superstitious threats of eternal damnation, but rather, embrace secular-based principles of morality — and do good for goodness’ sake.
And so we pray … So, what?!
Now I don’t know if this was simply a not-so-clever attempt to mock religious believers who pray before public meetings or a demonstration of Smith’s own deeply held personal beliefs but, either way, here’s the question … So what?!
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Every year, as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, I see plenty of people I know and respect making lists of things they are thankful for. I understand their thinking and I share their gratefulness for all our “first world” blessings. No doubt about the fact that all of us owe some thanks for those things we mostly take for granted.
Because of the religious origins of Thanksgiving in this country, I also understand why our thankfulness is many times tied to God. Within the greater Christian community, being grateful seems to come with the parallel understanding that the blessings we get are a part of the healthy, wealthy, prosperous, and happy life that God truly wants for us. Our “best life now,” you might say. When things go our way, we are quick to add-on the heartfelt announcement that “God is so good!”
Being one that has his antennae up to detect cultural assumptions that find their way into the church, it occurred to me that this might just be one of them. After all, we are called to have “the mind of Christ,” and it was Christ who said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
So, if Jesus promised us we would have trouble:
- I’m wondering why would expect the Christian life to be without it …
- I’m wondering why we think we deserve “our best life now” …
- I’m wondering why we would think the words we speak have the power to make things turn out the way we desire them to be, when He never said any such thing …
- I’m wondering why we’re always trying to figure out “God’s will for our lives” when He has already told us very clearly and very simply that “[His] will is that we be sanctified.”
To be sanctified … or to be healthy, wealthy, prosperous, and happy? That is the question.
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Everyone who was alive 50 years ago probably remembers where they were and what they were doing on this date in 1963. It’s a day that is emblazoned in our minds because it was the day that one of the greatest and most influential men in modern history died. Sadly, I didn’t learn the significance of that day until nearly 30 years later. I’m still learning how much that man influenced my life and how indebted I, and many others, are to his life’s work.
His friends called him Jack, but the man I’m talking about is not the man that you are probably hearing about in the news today.
His name was Clive Staples Lewis.
On the first day of classes in my Master’s Degree program at Biola University, Craig Hazen welcomed us to the campus and asked us to go around the room for an introduction that included a short explanation for how and why we became interested enough in Christian Apologetics to enroll in the program we were just beginning. As I recall, there were about 28 of us in the room. Twenty five of us (me included) invoked the name of C. S. Lewis.
This was not, and is not, idolatry. Jack Lewis would reject and admonish the very thought of such a thing. It is simple respect and gratitude for the memory of the death of a great man and the enormous impact he had, and is still having, on this world.
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