Monday, April 28, 2008

Abraham and Chocolate Cake - Genesis 13

From my list of basic parenting Strategies that (sometimes) work:
If there is a last piece of chocolate cake to divide between two children, do not divide it for them. This inevitably leads to arguments over who got the biggest piece. Instead, pick one child to cut the cake and give the other child first choice. This may still lead to arguing, but tends to shift it away from the parent.

The underlying issue is fairness. We seem to have an inborn need to make sure we get "our fair share" and it starts at a very young age.

In Genesis 13, Abram cuts the piece of cake and gives his nephew Lot the first choice. They each have large herds and the people managing their animals keep bumping into each other, fighting over water and grazing land. Abram offers to divide the land and give Lot first choice.

As would be expected, Lot chooses the fertile Jordan valley, with its ready supply of water, greener pastures and urban centers. Abram is left with the high ground -- good land, but with water issues, less reliable grazing land and a more rural atmosphere.

By rights, Abram could have divided things up any way he wanted. Boundaries could be drawn so that they could share the fertile valley. And, based on later events, Lot was probably already a bit of a nuisance to have around. Abram wasn't getting a "fair share."

How could Abram be so casual? He held on to the land lightly because of his faith -- his willingness to trust God and God's promises. He didn't need to hold on to the land tightly, because it wasn't his to hold on to.

How lightly we hold onto things is one measure of faith. Do we worry about how the piece of cake is sliced? Are we measuring to make sure we get our "fair share?"

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Coat and Tie Worship

The MMI Weblog quotes John Macarthur as saying, "Some people ask, why do I wear a tie? Because I have respect for this responsibility. I wear a suit because this is a more elevated experience for people. I’m trying to convey what people convey at a wedding: this is more serious than any normal activity."

John MacArthur has it right and wrong all at the same time!

He is right in stating that worship is serious. Waiting on God is serious stuff indeed. And an easy way to look serious is with a coat and tie. But a coat and tie doesn't make worship serious. It is only a surface thing, and has the danger of creating an attitude that "serious worship" only happens when we have the proper uniform, whether it's a coat and tie, robe, or Hawaiian shirt.

There are lots of other ways to do "serious worship." Some appear formal, some informal, some may even involve laughter and joy.

Where John MarArthur's statement really goes wrong is when he separates worship and the “normal activity” of God’s people. Worship is not part of some separate universe, reserved for a particular time, place and set of circumstances. If wearing a coat and tie reinforces it as separate from “normal” then it's time to cut off the ties and give the coats to Goodwill.