A Morning Peacock of Links (6/5)

Good News vs. Good Advice

Tim Keller on the difference between the gospel of Christianity and the messages of other religions:

Some years ago, I heard a tape series, that I’m sure was never put into print by David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, an evening sermon series on 1 Corinthians 15. In it, he made a distinction that was extremely clarifying, how the gospel is based on historical events in a way that other religions just aren’t: he said that there is a big difference between just good advice and good news.

The gospel, he would say, is good news, not good advice. Here’s what he said about that: “Advice is counsel about something to do and it hasn’t happened yet, but you can do it.” He says, “News is a report about something that has happened—you can’t do anything about it—it’s been done for you and all you can do is respond to it.”

Raising Gospel Centered Children

Luma Simms on the motivations behind the way parents raise their children:

If we stop to consider the motivations of our hearts—what is driving us as parents—we can gain important insight into the discipleship of our children. The driver behind gospel-centered discipleship is the glory of Christ. The driver behind child-centered discipleship is the glory of our children, and by extension, our own glory. In order to understand my own motives, I’ve learned to ask myself: Do I want my children to know God, to rest in the person and work of Christ, to have their many, many sins washed in the blood of the Lamb, and to eternally glorify Him? Or rather do I want my children to be “good,” to scrupulously avoid sin and follow biblical injunctions, to avoid bad consequences in this life? Obviously, these are not mutually exclusive, but where does Christ ask us to put our emphasis? My answers to these questions revealed some very selfish desires. I have lived with fear and anxiety over my children’s sins, and I’ve come to realize what was in my heart. I was not offended by their sins for the sake of God’s reputation, nor was I offended because sin is rebellion and an affront to the person of Christ himself. No, I feared sin in my children’s lives because I cared more about all the earthly consequences of sin. For example, a little over eight years ago, I grabbed hold of Deuteronomy 6 and started rattling it like a sword in a battle cry for homeschooling. I had convinced myself that this was the only type of schooling capable of producing godly children. At the heart of my child-centered thinking, was the belief that I, as a parent—not Christ, as our Lord—must do everything to protect my children from the world and sin.

Christianity, Unplugged

K. Scott Oliphint on the necessity of unplugging ourselves from technology if we are truly to withdraw and spend some time in constructive solitude. This reminds me of exactly why I gave up social media for Lent – at a certain point you spread yourself thin and flood your mind with too many voices. That’s why the first thing I do is take a morning walk when I wake up, catch some fresh air and mentally prepare myself for the day ahead before doing anything else:

With the ever-burgeoning advances in technology, we have become a society (and a church?) that has committed itself, perhaps unwittingly, to distraction. The problem of distraction is serious enough, but the power of that distraction to train our plastic brains can be deadly for Christian growth. If the brain is really molded by how we think, then it is possible that our addiction to distraction will eventually train us not to think at all. We will be so mastered by our constant urge to check and answer our email, to look at our smartphones every time they buzz, to check the scores of our favorite teams, to “text” notes that our ability to think, to pray, to savor the truth of God will be all but gone.

I’m Off to Fix Something

Joann Pittman’s reflections as an American resident of Beijing:

In their book, “American Cultural Patterns,” Stewart and Bennet discuss this American tendency to “see events as problems to be solved, based on their concepts of an underlying rational order in the world and of themselves as individual agents of action.”  Americans see problems and solutions as “basic ingredients of reality.”  It’s just the way life is.

But it’s not necessarily the way life is for many other cultures.  In cultures (like China) that are predisposed to adapt rather than change, accepting things as they are (chaotic as that may be) is the first tendency.  What a westerner calls a problem may be viewed simply as a twist of fate.  In some languages, the word, “problem” is synonymous with “confusion”, which is defined as “a condition that is best addressed by stopping whatever one is doing and waiting.”  Stewart and Bennet point out that attempts to solve the problem may be interpreted as contributing to the confusion.

This tendency towards fixing (be it personal or societal) can often be a source of cultural clashes when we are sojourning abroad. We look around and see so much that we don’t understand and the “why” questions start bubbling to the surface. When they do, it’s good to check ourselves to see if the questions are being motivated by the desire to fix what we perceive as being broken, or if they are  motivated by a genuine desire to learn how the society is organized and the thinking patterns that lie behind it.

What We Miss

For me, I can hardly go to concerts without worrying about finding the right spot to stand in as to maximize the quality of photos/videos I can capture. In so doing, it’s always interfered with my enjoyment of the moment. I’ve always overcome this problem by going to multiple concerts and so I can totally enjoy one show freely while recording the other show in its entirety. But, in any case, I think the point stands that with the ever-advancing digital age we find ourselves in, the moments that we experience are not safe from the digitalization process. In fact, I think Tim Challies was spot on when he notes in his post, “We have trained ourselves to respond to great experiences by making sure we digitize them. If we can’t post it to Facebook and YouTube, if we can’t give evidence of what we’ve experienced, it’s like we haven’t experienced it at all.” In this post, Challies discusses the tension between enjoying experiences in the moment versus recording those experiences to capture and enjoy later:

What we are seeing in this strange, new digital world is that we increasingly believe that we need to supplement memory with bits and bytes. It is not enough to enjoy a beautiful experience and allow our minds to replay it for months and years to come, but we now need audio/visual evidence. But why? Why can’t we just allow our minds to record it, and rely on our brains to relive the pleasure of the moment? Whatever happened to that organic kind of memory? Why do we believe that a digital memory is inherently better?

I wonder how many beautiful moments we miss because we are afraid we will miss them. Instead of living fully in the moment, enjoying the music or the sunrise or the games with our children, we fall into this strange habit of recording it all. We experience the sunrise through the lens of an iPhone instead of just basking in it, we tinker with focus and angles recording quality instead of just enjoying the music. When all is said and done, we’ve recorded an experience that we missed out on, and the replay is just never as good.

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