Saturday, December 17, 2016

Not the Fun House Mirrors

Humility is a greatly misunderstood grace or virtue. Too many Christians think of it as trying to think what you don’t think, see what you don’t see, and know what you don’t actually know. This approach to humility is closer to the eastern and mystical way of emptying yourself than it is to the biblical way of seeking to think that which Christ teaches you to think.

In short, humility is changing your mind not emptying your mind.

C.S. Lewis somewhere said that humility is not thinking less of yourself, but rather thinking of yourself less. It is a matter of what you are thinking about, not whether you are thinking.

A humble man is thinking, meditating, ruminating, all the time. The use of that word ruminating is suggestive. A ruminating animal is one that chews the cud—and there has to be something substantive there to chew.

Christian meditation is content rich. The “grass” we chew is supposed to be everlasting grass, and we meditate on it with eternity in view. This is why we meditate on the Scriptures—which are forever, and on how we may bless our brother or sister, who will live forever. We do not meditate on anything that is transient or fog-like.

When you think about yourself and your own pleasures, trying to edify yourself that way, there is an essential contradiction involved. You are trying to see your own eyeball with your own eyeball. But you were made to look into your neighbor’s eyes, not your own. And the only way it is safe to look even indirectly into your own eyes is when you are using a mirror—and it has to be the mirror of the Word.

If you use the mirrors of the flattering world, you will be combing your hair in accordance with the fun house mirrors at the carnival.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Does God ever actually say No to our Prayers?

Does God ever actually say No to our Prayers? Your immediate response to such a question is probably, “Yes, he often says No!” In which case, I encourage you to reflect on J. I. Packer’s answer.

“God’s yes is regularly a case of ‘your thinking about how I could best meet this need was right’; his no is a case of ‘not that, for this is better’ – and so is really a yes in disguise! – and his wait (which we infer from the fact that though we have asked for action, nothing yet has changed) is a case of ‘wait and see; I will deal with this need at the best time in the best way. Whether or not you will be able to discern my wisdom when I do act, that is what in fact I am going to do. Keep watching, and see what you can see” ("Praying," pgs 173-74).

“We have it on firm scriptural authority that the Father’s response to requests faithfully, humbly, hopefully, expectantly made by his own children, out of a pure heart and an honest desire for God’s glory, is never going to be a flat no. One way or another God’s response will be a positive response, though it may be ‘I am adjusting the terms of your prayer to give you something better than you asked for.’ Or it may be, ‘I know that this isn’t the moment in which answering your prayer would bring you and others most blessing, so I’m asking you to wait.’ Or it may be, ‘I am answering your prayer, but you don’t know the strategy I’m working on, and it doesn’t at the moment feel or look like an answer at all. Nonetheless, it is. Keep praying, keep trusting, and keep looking for what, down the road, I may be able in wisdom to let you see” (pg 177).