Power Tends to Corrupt

Lord Acton

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

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No Reason to Change

Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave
Edward T. Welch

We are often very blind to our own sin.  For example, in marriage, some people say that it was years before they had any inkling of their blatant selfishness and pride.  During those years, the excuses were, “People just don’t understand me,” or “If she [he] would just show more love.”

When we are blind to our own problem, there is no reason to change.

Defining a Miracle

The God Who is There Leader’s Guide
D.A. Carson

In the controlled universe of Christian theism, God remains sovereignly in control of everything, but he operates in an ordered way and often through many secondary causes.  Biblical writers know of the water cycle, but they are happy to say that God sends the rain; Jesus knows birds can fall dead from old age, starvation, and disease, but he insists that not a sparrow falls from the heavens apart from his heavenly Father’s sanction.  The orderliness of God’s activity is, from a Christian’s perspective, what makes science possible: the discovery of how things work in the natural/material world is nothing other than the uncovering of how God normally does things in this physical world.  But that does not prevent him, should he choose to do so, from doing something in an entirely extraordinary way – like raising Jesus from the dead.  And that is one way of defining a miracle.

The Invisible, Colorless Gas

Seven Plus Seven: The Responsibilities of Business Corporations
Michael Novak

Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson ransacked the libraries of London and Paris, respectively, in an attempt to understand what brought about the downfall of earlier republican experiments.  Virtually all republics failed, often after only a few generations.  Typically, the cause of failure was envy and the division it caused between rich and poor, family and family, dynasty and dynasty, or one section of the Republic and another.  No vice is deeper and more destructive than envy, not even hatred.  Hatred is visible, and everybody knows it is wrong.  Envy is typically invisible, like a colorless gas, and normally it presents itself under a beautiful (but deceptive) name, such as “justice,” “fairness,” “equality,” or even “social justice.”  All these are good names, and often envy for this reason hides behind their skirts.  Envy is so pervasive among the human race that in the Ten Commandments, under the name “covetousness,” God forbade it seven times…

If a republic is to have a long life, it must defeat envy.  The best way to do this is to generate economic growth through as many diverse industries and economic initiatives as possible, so that every family has the realistic possibility of seeing its economic condition improve within the next three or four years.  Poor families do not ask for paradise, but they do want to see tangible signs of improvement over time.  When such horizons are open, people do not compare their condition with that of their neighbors; rather, they compare their own position today with where they hope to be in three or four years.

Link: Complete Article

I Can’t Be Busy and Pray

The Contemplative Pastor
Eugene Peterson

I am busy because I am vain.  I want to appear important.  Significant.  What better way than to be busy? …

I live in a society in which crowded schedules and harassed conditions are evidence of importance, so I develop a crowded schedule and harassed conditions.  When others notice, they acknowledge my significance and my vanity is fed…

I am busy because I am lazy.  I indolently let others decide what I will do instead of resolutely deciding myself.

It was a favorite theme of C.S. Lewis that only lazy people work hard.  By lazily abdicating the essential work of deciding and directing, establishing values and setting goals, other people do it for us; then we find ourselves frantically, at the last minute, trying to satisfy a half dozen different demands on our time, none of which is essential to our vocation, to stave off the disaster of disappointing someone…

I know I can’t be busy and pray.  I can be active and pray; I can work and pray; but I cannot be busy and pray.  I cannot be inwardly rushed, distracted, or dispersed.  In order to pray I have to be paying more attention to God than to what people are saying to me; to God than to my clamoring ego.  Usually, for that to happen there must be a deliberate withdrawal from the noise of the day, a disciplined detachment from the insatiable self.

We Have Run

The Cross and Christian Ministry
D.A. Carson

[14] The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

– 1 Corinthians 2:14

 

It is not that God makes us constitutionally unable to understand him, and then toys with us for his own amusement.  Rather, he has made us for himself, but we have run from him.  The heart of our lostness is our profound self-focus.  We do not want to know him, if knowing him is on his terms.  We are happy to have a god we can more or less manipulate; we do not want a god to whom we admit that we are rebels in heart and mind, that we do not deserve his favor, and that our only hope is in his pardoning and transforming grace.  We certainly cannot fathom a powerful Creator who takes the place of an odious criminal in order to save us from the judgment we deserve.

There Aren’t Very Many Happy People in the Bible

The Contemplative Pastor
Eugene Peterson

My job is not to solve people’s problems or make them happy, but to help them see the grace operating in their lives.  It’s hard to do, because our whole culture is going the other direction, saying that if you’re smart enough and get the right kind of help, you can solve all your problems.  The truth is, there aren’t very many happy people in the Bible.  But there are people who are experiencing joy, peace, and the meaning of Christ’s suffering in their lives.

Boasting About the Wrong Things

The Cross and Christian Ministry
D.A. Carson

[26] For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. [27] But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong…

– 1 Corinthians 1:26–27

God’s grace can reach anyone.  But being well regarded in the surrounding pagan society is in no sense an advantage.  If anyone approaches God on the basis of some putative wisdom or “pull” or wealth, he or she is necessarily excluded.  If God accepted people on such grounds, he would compromise himself.  He would be the worst kind of snob, the kind that is impressed by entirely superficial advantages – like a panting, third-rate social climber in a pinstripe suit, desperate to be approved and eager to fawn all over anyone who speaks with a posh accent.  Paul insists that such a vision of God is utter nonsense.  God is not impressed by the public philosophies, political clout, and the extravagant wealth that the world so greatly admires.  And the Corinthian believers should have recognized the point and disavowed such pagan allegiances themselves.  After all, the commonness of their own predominant backgrounds should have alerted them to the kind of people God frequently pursues…

Paul is not saying that Christians have nothing to boast about.  Rather, he is saying that if they boast about the things the world boasts about, they are boasting about the wrong things.