Saturday, August 21, 2004

Outward Signs 

We're on to chapter four in "This is our Faith" by Michael Pennock: Jesus: Teacher and Savior. We'll be meeting in RCIA to discus it on Monday evening. As Teacher, Jesus taught:

That last is what I'd like to write about a bit. The book says, "Moral living and service will lead first to renouncing sin and the world's false enticements to happiness and then, inevitably, to suffering." We were to read Luke 12:13-21; 13:22-30; 16:19-31 for this item.

Luke 13 was our New Testament reading this evening at Church. Father said our baptism tags us, like scientists tag wild game so they can be tracked. We make the sign of the cross and it tags us. Jesus traces our path throughout our lives. Father said the cross is the narrow gate and the demands of Christian living are tough: prayer gives us the strength to endure the narrow gate. By our example, we tell all the world what Christianity is all about. Father said we're supposed to display who we are by our actions. We're supposed to tell all the world about Christ in our lives.

The reading's, though, are about about living your life right. They are about building your treasure in Heaven, not on Earth. They are about the rich looking up from hell and seeing the poor up in heaven.

Now, the book goes on to quote Jesus on the the following subjects: Discipleship, Faith, Forgiveness, How to Live, Humility, Love, Possessions, Prayer Happiness, Worry and Sincerity. On that last, sincerity, our book says, "Be careful not to parade your uprightness in public to attract attention; otherwise you will lose all reward from your Father in Heaven." Matthew 6:1

OK. Now here's the rub. As I wrote the other day, I've been surprised to not see any outward signs of faith from the Olympic Athletes. On the one hand, we're supposed to display our faith so that others are informed and can follow. We're supposed to sow seeds. On the other hand, as Matthew 6 shows, we are not supposed to parade our uprightness in public. We're supposed to pray in a closet, not stand up and wave our arms to the Lord in the mall. So... is it wrong when boxers kneel and cross themselves before a bout? Is is wrong when ball players point up to heaven after a double? Would it be wrong for Michael Phelps or for Carly Patterson, if they were so inclined, to credit God? When and where are God and Jesus out of place?

Thursday, August 19, 2004

I haven't, who could?, watched all of the Olympics, but I have seen some amazing performances... but very few declarations of Christian faith among the athletes. When asked about the jitters, the pressure, etc. I haven't heard many mentions of prayer or grace. I haven't seen many instances of giving credit to God, or thanks to God, for the physical skills with which the winners have been blessed. I wonder if the Americans have been directed to not do this, or perhaps it's just the gymnastics and swimming require young lives so dedicated to training that they really don't see God's hand in their efforts, only their own blood, sweat and tears.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

I've been developing a web site for a friend for Upward Sports that had to be done rather quickly, so Eutychus Fell hasn't been updated very often of late. I've been trying to put myself in the shoes of those who dislike President Bush these last few days because I have old and dear friends who wear those shoes. Now and then, I get a glimmer of how they feel. The President can come off quite sure of himself and the path we're on as a nation. I understand the attraction of nuance because there really are many sides, many answers, to the questions at hand. But leadership means cutting through all nuance and actually choosing a path and pulling others along that path. I would like to think that any President who worked through the Pentagon being attacked and thousands of civilians being murdered on his watch would develop, promote and pursue a plan to 1) change the culture of death that's taken weed in the Muslim world and 2) make nation-states afraid of the wrath of a wounded America.

President Bush has accomplished the 2nd, but my view from my little office in the world, under the glare of an all-too-obviously biased media, is too blurred to know whether we're making any headway on the 1st. I see reports of Afghan and Iraqi people being appreciative and friendly, but all to many reports of Palestinian and Muslim Cleric American hating.

I hope he can give it another four years.

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