God & Money

One general objection I have with some of the messages within the Christian faith is selective emphasis—that is, emphasizing certain verses of scriptures over others—in addition to selection bias: omitting certain verses from scripture.

Recently, there has been one verse that continually keeps coming into my life: “‘No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money’” (Matthew 6:24, NLT). While I had heard this verse in messages before, it was infrequent and rarely the center of any serious analysis; however, in my personal life, I recently had felt a great sense of comfort not merely by reading this verse in isolation, but in its complete context, spanning Matthew 6:19-34. It was through the added context of Jesus’ words that I truly understood what was being said in verse 24; moreover, the context and rich examples that Jesus uses provided me with the comfort, guidance, and reassurance of faith that I needed.

In our world, especially in American culture, materialism, work, production, and success are all encultured into you; moreover, they are blended up and somehow attached to your self-worth. As Jefferson Bethke writes (playing off Descartes’ famous words), “America’s mantra is, ‘I produce, therefore I am.’” It seems that our lives somehow have become intertwined with what it is that we produce or can show others. This goes hand-in-hand with our media-driven culture—however, let us return to scripture.

In John 15:5, Jesus says, “‘I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.’” Here, is a clear verse illustrating that we are called to produce fruit, but what kind of fruit? Well, John 15:15 says, “lasting fruit” or “fruit that will remain.” And, how do we accomplish such a task? We do so by following Jesus’ command: “‘Don’t store up treasures here on earth…Store your treasures in heaven.’” (Matthew 6:20-21, NLV).

So, why is this all so important? The issue comes back to what is being emphasized. As Matthew 6:21 and Luke 12:34 say, “‘where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (NIV). This is a matter of our hearts and, thus, is of remarkable relevance; moreover, it is regarding how our relationship to the material world should be, which is of paramount importance in the current culture in which we live.

Unfortunately, this message seems to not receive as much attention as it deserves—in fact, the attention it has received by some leaders within the Christian faith has been to emphasize the opposite point, and conflate the idea that inner works can be manifested materially. I will speak more on this in my next post as I discuss the emergence and growth of the prosperity gospel.

Carefree Incongruity

A constant pretense always engaged in a reality that’s counterfeit
And filled with frivolities that disguise themselves as serious beliefs.
Mesmerize me, and I’ll ignore the bleed.
Let those that are chosen to lead continue to be the ones to fill our needs.
Never question whether you’re free, for you’ve been given more than you see.
Shall this fallacy of relative privation squash all doubts and questions regarding my salvation?
Is it worth just accepting what the majority tells you is the correct story;
Or, is there an essence inside that refuses to hide in the face of intolerance?

Vying for Control

In times of turmoil, confusion, and uncertainty,
It becomes ever so easy to turn to the mind and hit rewind;
Or, make the choice to intensify the ever-raging battle against time.
Control becomes the mental shovel used to dig deeper the hole of despair.
All the while, masquerading around with a callous belief that we do not care
But this, too, is a mental delusion reinforcing that our will is the final conclusion.

Seizing Peace

Remember me when I have fallen.
Hear me as I’m calling.

Control this space to interject your grace,
For I desire to know your face.

Allow me to finish this race
while running the perfect pace.

Unshackle me from the weight of these bones,
Comfort me into embracing the unknown.

A Reflection of Perception

Kneel in a sacred bow.
Perplexed by pondering all the hows.
Forget your neighbors’ furrowed brow.
Let go of everything that is not now.
Allow the stillness of the present to endow.

To recognize –
To believe –
How do I quantify my relief?

Perceive and report requires me to convert;
But, how to convey,
using words to say,
the reality of my mind as I pray?

Reflecting Change

Discover what was written before the doors close once more.
Let all those frozen memories and hollow doubts sink and fall to the floor.
For what once lived is but a vapor.
A blip in the eye of our creator.

So, do not fear those shadows that try to speak your name.
Do not entertain them by playing in their games.
Rather, carry on as ceaseless ships,
Trekking lines in the sands of your wondrous trip.

Tastes of Grace

Rejoice in thy name and in the pleasure;
Deny thyself no more from the grandeur.
Allow yourself to play peacefully in this manger.

Drink from the spring within.
Reflect and let your soul sing.
Overflow with joy from grace;
But, what must I do to cope with this place?
Should I surrender myself and seek thy face;
Shall I quickly forget and walk at my own pace?

I am nothing without the gifts you bestow.
For what you are I cannot know;
And what you give is always right,
Even if it looks differently from my sight.
Being suspect to the illusions,
I humble myself to your conclusion.

God and Order

Our world is ruled by disorder. Ask a physicist why time is perceived as flowing in a direction and they will say it is due to entropy, which merely is a scientific way of saying disorder.

The universe is increasing in disorder (entropy), thus time appears to flow in the direction of past to future. In the past, there was less entropy and, therefore, more order. In the future, there is an increasing amount of disorder.

Take this from a cognitive perspective for a second. Your past is comprised of events that happened. They feel more concrete and solidly grounded in existence, because we know (or believe ourselves to know) that these certain events did in fact occur. Now, go the opposite direction and think towards the future. The future is ruled by probability. Thinking of the future from the present is like running probability simulations of what is likely, or possible, to happen in our lives.

The real question becomes: Why was there order to begin with?

In the opening lines of the Bible, it gives rise to the notion that, before there was light, there was a great void, formless and dark. In this primordial state, we find a state of complete individualization — even all the particles are in isolation, as to have yet formed a connective bond to one another.

It is this initial bond that fulfills the verse of “‘Let there be Light'” (Genesis 1:3).

A non-Biblical analogy is the science of your brain. Think to that first neural connection forming in a burst of energy. This initial burst of life cannot be understood, nor meaningfully explained. And, even if we somehow could meaningfully describe life itself, it would encapsulate all the words that have ever used to describe life. It would be all that ever was. Regardless of the mechanism of how, the result was that your brain formed neural connections and has continued to do so throughout your life forming neural networks.