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Archive for June, 2008

I am suffering from a horrible, life-threatening disease. Yes, you heard it right folks, it’s a syndrome so damaging and destructive, it not only threatens my life but also my relationships.

It’s a relatively common but poorly studied phenomenon, having afflicted many since the beginning of time, but has only been recently described. Well, come to think of it, I only came up with a name for it this afternoon.

I’ve dubbed it Arbitrary-Christian-Standard Syndrome (or ACSS for short). It describes the thought process that commonly afflicts the Type A, ‘perfectionist’ Christian (let’s call him TAPC, just to confuse everyone with another wonderfully unnecessary acronym) who sets an arbitrary standard for himself that if he can only attain this arbitrary level of righteousness that he has set for himself and maintain this, then he will be running the Christian race successfully. This arbitrary standard is usually a comparative thing, constructed from careful examination of the races other Christians are running, and from this the TAPC makes a intricate plan usually along the lines of, ‘well, if I’m going to church on a Sunday, doing some weekly Bible studies and keeping up with my Bible reading plan, trying to complain and argue only on Tuesdays, keeping my lustful thoughts to a minimum and only nagging my fiancé once a day, I’ll be doing ok!’

 Oh how WRONG this kind of thinking is!

I believe we are dealing with a silent epidemic in our churches. Our society is so merit and works-based, and we so often buy into the lie that we are what we achieve, that we as western Christians frequently (however unwillingly) apply this rule to our walk with God. We compare ourselves to other Christians and figure that if we can just measure up to their standards (or higher, if we can) than we are really doing well. We are running a good race.

Friends, this is hazardous, destructive, self-defeating thinking that can only lead us to utter despair and threatens to veer us dangerously away from the gospel of grace. There is a baseline standard of righteousness that God demands: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength’ (Deut 6:5) and ‘be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect’ (Mt 5:48). But we, as fallen, sinful humans are utterly incapable of fulfilling this command. And so we are (quite rightfully) driven to the point of complete despair at our overwhelming failure to glorify God.

But Christ fulfilled God’s law in its entirety. He came as the ultimate servant, who entrusted himself completely to his Father in heaven, loving his enemies to the point of being whipped, humiliated, crowned with thorns, and hung on a cross; an innocent taking the place of the guilty who were hurling insults from the foot of the cross. And, when he offers us this free grace with outstretched hands, still bearing the scars of his selfless sacrifice, we are afraid, almost suspicious, and find it difficult to accept. In a world that believes there is ‘no such thing as a free lunch’, it is almost impossible to believe that there is a God who is capable of such generosity and selfless compassion, a God who loves with such radical abandon that he gave his life for ungrateful sinners.

We as Christians must hold fast to this gift of grace that God offers us, to the one lifeline that can bring us from death to life (this is one time where we cannot ask the audience or phone a friend). We are to watch our lives and doctrine closely so that we never let worldly or cultural notions of works-based religion inhibit our daily living as freely ransomed souls. We must earnestly repent of these downright silly ideas that we can contribute anything to our salvation or that the Christian race is in any way a race of worldly comparison. After all, man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (1 Sam 16:7). Who are we to discern the motivations of our brothers and sisters from their actions, which are mere shadow representations of their inner heart attitudes?

I am reminded of my experience as a young girl in primary school, where I would often compete in running races at our annual sports carnival. After my first ever race, my parents (on the sidelines) came up to me and asked me why I was slowing down and looking around at the other runners instead of running my fastest to the end. I was so concerned with where the other runners were at, that I compromised my own race and stopped focusing on the finish line up ahead.

And so it is with the Christian race. We are to run our own race, focused on the prize at the end, a crown of glory that will last forever! And no matter what our earthly race looks like from the outside, we all come to our creator on our knees, painfully aware of our own sinfulness and depravity, but filled with unwavering hope and joy that the Lord chose to redeem such as us and adopt us as sons and daughters into his eternal kingdom!

 

Psalm 66

 

For the director of music. A song. A psalm.

 1 Shout with joy to God, all the earth! 2 Sing the glory of his name; 
       make his praise glorious!

 3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! 
       So great is your power 
       that your enemies cringe before you.

 4 All the earth bows down to you; 
       they sing praise to you, 
       they sing praise to your name.” 
       Selah

 5 Come and see what God has done, 
       how awesome his works in man’s behalf!

 6 He turned the sea into dry land, 
       they passed through the waters on foot— 
       come, let us rejoice in him.

 7 He rules forever by his power, 
       his eyes watch the nations— 
       let not the rebellious rise up against him. 
       Selah

 8 Praise our God, O peoples, 
       let the sound of his praise be heard;

 9 he has preserved our lives 
       and kept our feet from slipping.

 10 For you, O God, tested us; 
       you refined us like silver.

 11 You brought us into prison 
       and laid burdens on our backs.

 12 You let men ride over our heads; 
       we went through fire and water, 
       but you brought us to a place of abundance.

 13 I will come to your temple with burnt offerings 
       and fulfill my vows to you-

 14 vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke 
       when I was in trouble.

 15 I will sacrifice fat animals to you 
       and an offering of rams; 
       I will offer bulls and goats. 
       Selah

 16 Come and listen, all you who fear God; 
       let me tell you what he has done for me.

 17 I cried out to him with my mouth; 
       his praise was on my tongue.

 18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, 
       the Lord would not have listened;

 19 but God has surely listened 
       and heard my voice in prayer.

 20 Praise be to God, 
       who has not rejected my prayer 
       or withheld his love from me!

 

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Hello again!

It’s official! I’m back in the business of blogging after a brief holiday consisting of much teat-pulling, cow-chasing and motorbike-bogging. So many interesting cow stories (usually about the stupid things cows do, although some involve human idiocy). Ask me about the story of the cow that fell in the hole Ergon dug…

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Today I read perhaps one of the most disturbing things I have read in a while…

I was diligently researching my contribution to this week’s clinical case (no, really) and on one of the websites I came across a link that said: ‘94% of doctors don’t know you can cure cancer without chemotherapy or radiotherapy’. Intrigued, and with cynical blinkers on high alert,  I clicked on the link, and I got a website called:

http://www.cancertruth.net/, which is basically a website flogging some guy’s book (and in this context the word ‘book’ can be used interchangeably with ‘anti-administration, scientifically-unfounded, politically-motivated, propaganda drivel hogwash’) espousing a ridiculous conspiracy theory about the real nature of cancer, about the fact that the AMA and the drug companies are working synergistically (yes I rock at nerdy humour) to outlaw anything that may resemble a real cancer cure!! Yes that’s right, those megalomaniacal malevolences in white coats at the AMA have concocted a plan so scheming, so devilish, that they have the entirety of the American medical profession conspiring to rid the world of any chance of a cancer cure, so that patients will continue to suffer the cruelty and injustice of ‘standard’ treatments such as radiotherapy, chemo and the like. According to one ‘casual observer’, MD, who I assume can’t possibly be a real M.D., but rather likes to experiment with letters behind his name, claims that the ‘AMA, and oncology centres have too much interest in the status quo’. Another guy (next to a picture of himself in one of those old fashioned photos where they put a sock over the lens – yes, Mad knows what I’m talking about) asks the question: ‘do [doctors] really want to stop the spread of cancer and cure the patient?’. Hmmm, that’s a tough one. So we go to medical school for 6 years, complete our internship, residency, perhaps some research on the latest cancer therapy, and specialist training over a period of, well, half our life, under the guise of wanting to cure disease, reduce suffering and save lives, when in fact the medical school and hospital system is really an evil fascist organization indoctrinating us to be evil pro-cancer militia! In fact, one of the criteria that aspiring young doctors are marked against in the medical entrance interview is ‘demonstrates an interest in taking over the world and an understanding of the wholistic, multidisciplinary approach to patient suffering.’

Seriously man, get a real job, stop wasting my precious time and trying to make a quick buck out of people who are suffering. And for crying out loud please give your medical degree back to Kelloggs, they need it more than you do.

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