Friday, January 31, 2014

Committing Myself to God

Commit your work to the Lord,
and your plans will be established. 
Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
(Proverbs 16:3, 19:21)
I'm incorrigibly idealistic. My mind is always flowing with dreams, harebrained schemes and plans that land me in all sorts of adventurous situations. I'm always thinking about what might make the world a better place, or maybe just how I'm going to get by in this life and get what I want. The problem is that there is a strong temptation for me to rely on my plans, my wit, my skills, or even just plain dumb luck, in order to get things done. And I'm none the wiser when I fall for that temptation.

As an ardent believer in the providence of God, I am often harping on about how everything in life is in God's hands, that He has promised to take care of His children, and will in no wise fall back from fulfilling that promise. Yet I must confess that I don't always live up to that profession of faith. I confess that it is a sin on my part that I always end up falling back to the mentality that somehow, everything depends on me, that I have to make things happen and I must determine the course that my life will take. I don't commit myself to God in my prayers nearly as much as I ought to, and the result of this negligence has been much unnecessary anxiety and disappointment. And if I fall, I have nobody to blame for that but myself. It's like that old song that's often sung in churches: "O what peace we often forfeit / O what needless pain we bear / all because we do not carry / everything to God in prayer."

I got a lot going on in my mind right now. I got university papers to finish, jobs to apply for, a summer missions application to work on, and (potentially) a significant other to pursue. This endless avalanche of things to think about brings with it a strong temptation to fall into my old habit of perpetual anxiety and stressing out. But tonight, I've committed it all to the Lord. He reminded me that He is there and is available for me to come crawling to Him, unworthy though I may be. I've placed all these things before His feet in prayer, and I am trusting that He will sort everything out even where I have no earthly idea what I have to do or how things might turn out. If they turn out the way I hope in my mind they'd turn out, well and good. If not, well then, it's not the end of the world. God must have something better in mind. He has promised, and will not change His mind, that "for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28)

Blessed be the Lord God Who has numbered the hairs on our heads and Whose eye is on every sparrow that darkens the skies.

Monday, January 27, 2014

I'm so thankful that I'm incapable . . .

I remember when I was a relatively new Christian, still finding my way and discerning what God had in store for me in life. I was being exposed to life-changing truths about how God is sovereign over all things and nothing ever happens in life outside of His will. It was all pretty hard to take in at first (especially for someone of my background), but as I learned these things from reading the Bible through for the first time, I was also exposed to the music of Caedmon's Call, which is one of the best and underrated contemporary Christian music bands out there. The lyrics to their songs really resonated with me, and I learned to appreciate the beauty and majesty of an all-powerful God Whose grace can never be thwarted, and Whose judgments are always unimpeachable. I also learned to appreciate how small I really am in the grand scheme of things, how helpless I am in the face of my own sins and limitations, and how gracious God has been to lift me up in spite of these things.

So for the edification of my brothers and sisters, let me just share this song that I picked up early on in my Christian walk and has been close to my heart ever since.

You know I ran across an old box of letters
While I was bagging up some clothes for goodwill
Imagine you know I had to laugh that the same old struggles
That plagued me then are plaguing me still
I know the road is long from the ground to glory
But a boy can hope he's getting some place
But you see, I'm running from the very clothes I'm wearing
And dressed like this I'm fit for the chase
No, there is none righteous, not one who understands
There is none who seek God, no not one, I said, "No not one"

So I here I am thankful that I'm incapable
Of doing any good on my own

'Cause we're all stillborn and dead in our transgressions
Now we're shackled up to the sin we hold so dear
So what part can I play in the work of redemption
'Cause I can't refuse, I cannot add a thing
'Cause I am just like Lazarus and I can hear your voice
I stand and rub my eyes and walk to you because I have no choice

So I am thankful that I'm incapable
And I'm doing any good on my own, yeah
I say that I'm so thankful that I'm incapable
And I'm doing any good on my own

It's by grace I have been saved
Through faith that's not my own
It is the gift of God and not by works
Lest anyone should boast

So I am thankful that I'm incapable
And I'm doing any good on my own, yeah
I say that I'm so thankful that I'm incapable
And I'm doing any good on my own

'Cause here and I am thankful that I'm incapable
Well I'm doing any good on my own
I say that I'm so thankful that I'm incapable
Well I'm doing any good on my own

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

On Trivialities

While riding the bus home from classes earlier today, I overheard some urban youths talking about rap music and "whips" and other various other things that urban youths often talk about--all in a dialect of ghetto slang that only vaguely resembled English. I found it all to be quite "pedestrian" (for lack of a better term) and made me think about how much of the time and energy that young people spend on trivialities--video games, popular music, fashion trends, discussing aforementioned trivialities--the kinds of things that possessed most of my time back when I was teenager myself. 

It also made me think of John Piper's book, Don't Waste Your Life (Note: If you only ever read one Piper book, make it this one). The title of the book pretty much says it all. There's this interesting anecdote that Piper mentions about this couple that accomplishes the American Dream, earning a lavish six-figure income, eventually retiring to the Bahamas (or some other Caribbean island, can't remember) where they spend the remainder of the days collecting seashells. He then asks, on Judgment Day, when God asks this couple to give them an account of how they spent their lives, what are they going to have to show for it? "Look God, look at our seashell collection." Simply tragic, when you think about it.

Now, maybe collecting seashells isn't what tickles your fancy. Maybe you have something else that functions in a similar capacity. It could be sports. It could board games. It could be your X-Box 360. Whatever it happens to be, it's worth looking at the amount of time that goes into these trivial things, and whether it's taking away from worthier pursuits.

I'm not saying it's a sin to partake of any of these things. Oh, not at all. I happen to be a bit of a gamer myself, so I'm certainly not one to advocate chucking your gaming console into the trash. It seems that a few well meaning Christian brothers and sisters go a wee bit overboard and guilt-trip other brothers and sisters for these things. That being said, way too many of us who belong to the "millennial" generation are on the other extreme of spending an inordinate amount of time on these trivialities. It's hard to point this fact out to others because the moment you do, the "legalism" boogeyman gets trotted out as a reason not to worry too much about this admonishment.

To my fellow Christians, think about this: The New Testament says "you were bought with a price" (1 Cor. 6:20). What were you bought with a price for? So you could unlock all the achievements in Halo 4? Nope. The rest of the verse quoted says "glorify God in your body." What does glorifying God mean, exactly? It could be something as spectacular as ending world hunger or something as simple as making sure you've finished all your reading assignments for next week's lectures. Even the cereal you had for breakfast could be used to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31). Just make sure you're doing things with the intention of furthering God's Kingdom, and not just wasting your life on trivialities.

In fact, go buy yourself a t-shirt that says that. Go rock that t-shirt in public to the glory of God.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Divine Self-Portraits

Understand this: we are both tiny and massive. We are nothing more than molded clay given breath, but we are nothing less than divine self-portraits, huffing and puffing along the mountain ranges of epic narrative arcs prepared for us by the Infinite Word Himself. Swell with pride and gratitude, for you are tiny and given much. You are as spoken by God as the stars. You stand in history with stories stretching out both behind and before. We should want to live our chapters well, but doing so requires that we know the chapters that led up to us in our time and our moment; it requires that we open our eyes and consciously begin to shape those chapters that are coming after.
N.D. Wilson, Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent (Thomas Nelson, 2013), p. 6.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

About Thought Criminal #219

Who is Thought Criminal #219?

Well, for starters, I grew up in an idyllic (sort of) tropical paradise, until Divine Providence saw fit to relocate me to the frozen wastelands of Canada, where I have spent the last few years of my life engaging in guerrilla warfare against the forces of darkness in the hopes of eventually immanentizing the eschaton.

It's been one crazy ride, let me tell you that.

All of my musings and opinions are informed by and filtered through the Christian Worldview. As far as my theology goes:
  • I hold to what the historic Christian Creeds (ie. Apostles', Nicene and Athanasian Creeds) have to say about the nature of God, which makes me orthodox (small-o) and catholic (small-c).
  • I take the Bible as my final authority, and the 1689 London Baptist Confession as the subordinate authority that most accurately describes what the Bible has to say on any given topic.
  • I am Protestant/Reformed in my views on how salvation takes place, meaning that I affirm the five Solas as well as the five points of Calvinism.
  • I use Presuppositional apologetics to explain the truth of the Christian worldview over and against other worldviews (be they secular or religious).
  • I am a Kuyperian in my views on the relationship between Christianity and the public square.
  • I am (with superb alliteration) a Postmillennial Partial Preterist in my view of the end times.

For those who are interested in my educational background, I spent a year studying theology at Toronto Baptist Seminary, then transferred to the University of Toronto (where I currently am) to work on my bachelor's degree in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, with a minor in History. That means there's a fairly good chance that I may end up in the Middle East at some point in the near future, though that depends on the grace and provision of the good Master.

That doesn't mean I limit myself to just those topics, however. I fancy myself to be a bit of a polymath, so I'm more than happy to talk about anything under the sun, whether it's philosophy, law, history, the social sciences, politics, current events, the finer points of english grammar, or the latest internet memes. As long as you don't ask me to comment about the latest sports happenings--I know nothing about such things, and refuse to touch the topic with a ten foot pole.

For those who are into the Myers-Briggs personality test, I usually score as an INFJ, though I occasionally also score as an INTJ, which I guess means that I'm a hybrid of both. Given the complexity of human nature, it only makes sense that I couldn't be boxed neatly into either of those two categories.

Anything else you may want to know about me, you can find out either by interacting with my musings or contacting me personally (if you can figure out how to).

And yes, the title of this blog is an Orwell reference. Go crazy.