War of the Words

War of the Words

It is not news that fake news is not new.  On October 30, 1938, CBS Radio presented Orson Welles’ adaptation of H. G. Wells’ classic story, “War of the Worlds.” Welles’ adaption unfolded the action of the story through a series of new-flash style interruptions to what appeared to be regular programming.  Listeners who tuned in after the program’s disclaimer panicked as report after report came in of a massive Martian invasion, replete with giant war machines and poison gas clouds. The first commercial break in the program came almost 30 minutes after the introduction, fueling the illusion of realism.  Before the program even finished, the studio was flooded with police and public outcry arose against the networks’ apparent lack of concern in reporting fiction as though it were truth.

Fake news is not new.  It did not arise from the smoked-filled back rooms or the nefarious political machines of the 2016 Presidential campaign.  Factual falsity in media is simply the immoral end of the bias spectrum.   Man’s words are always saddled with some level of intentional or unintentional, benevolent or malevolent bias.  Persuasion is at the heart of most of our words, but when it is unhinged from moral restraint, it descends into the murky realms of exaggeration, mis-construal and flat-out lying.

Fake news is not new.  What is new to us is that no one seems to care if their news is fake.  Fake news no longer inspires the public outcry that followed in the wake of “War of the Worlds.”  The mantra of post-modernity, “true for you, but not for me” has given way to an utter lack of concern for truth, so long as the story is moving.  As one preacher noted, “we are living in a post-truth era.”  Arguing over whether something is true for you or me, or whether there is absolute truth, or whether something is consistent with that truth is passé.    The cardinal value for today’s man is emotional resonance not intellectual verity.  Does it grip me?  Does it grab me?  Does it move me?  These are the questions that have replaced, “Is it true?”  Neil Postman’s prophetic book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, rightly foresaw that an unquenchable thirst for entertainment, not discourse, would result in a society in which “truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.”

But man was not created to live in a post-truth society, with truth drowned in irrelevance.  Truth exists – absolute truth, truth that is revealed and not discovered.  Without this truth there can be no beauty, joy, peace, redemption, mercy, forgiveness, justice or love – only “how I feel.”  Without this truth there is never any “us,” only a “me.”  Truth matters.  Just as fake news is not new, neither is a “post-truth” society.  The people of Israel at the time of the exile to Babylon loved lies more than truth.  God assessed and warned them by the prophet Jeremiah.

An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes? Jeremiah 5:30-31

The Greco-Roman world also loved entertainment more than truth.  So much so, that dramatic oratory and rhetoric were often found among the events at Greek Games.   It was into this environment that God spoke, through the Apostle Paul, to urge his young protegee, Timothy, to unmask the promoters of “fake truth” and to rightly divide the Scriptures, breathed out by God to make men wise unto salvation and to teach, rebuke, correct and train men and women in godliness, holiness, beauty and love.  This exhortation is no less needed today than it was in First Century Ephesus.

Join us this Lord’s Day, August 19, as we examine 1 Timothy 1:3-12 and consider God’s instruction to us to consider “what is truth” and “where can we find it?”    We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock.  Click here for directions. Come with a friend you and join us for fellowship and conversation. We look forward to seeing you there.

Disappointment

Disappointment

Few experiences in life are more humiliating than being stood up.   As we sit alone at a café table or wait anxiously at a restaurant entrance, our emotions run the whole gamut of worry, then embarrassment, then anger, then bitterness, then disappointment, then perhaps jadedness.

The word disappointment literally means having an anticipated appointment unmade unexpectedly – an appointment with success, with accolades, with love, with companionship, or with the object of our desire.  When we are stood up our minds immediately rush to cast blame and identify a culprit for our disappointment.   Who is responsible? Who cancelled the anticipated appointment?  Sometimes our disappointment is with ourselves, sometimes it is with others, often it is with God.

The life of Joseph in Old Testament was marked with many bitter disappointments.  His father unwisely showed him great favoritism and Joseph unwisely lorded it over his brothers.  Not surprisingly, his brothers hated him with murderous rage and, at the first opportunity, seized him and sold him into slavery in Egypt.  Once there, he was unjustly accused by his master’s wife and thrown into prison and forgotten.

Later in Joseph’s life, he was able to look in his life’s rear-view mirror and declare to his brothers, “what you meant for evil, God meant for good.”  But as these events unfolded he no doubt experienced disappointment with his family, his situation and, perhaps, even his God.  In Joseph’s story we have a foreshadowing of Jesus’ humiliation and suffering as our savior.  But here we may also find wisdom to follow Christ in the midst of our own bitter disappointments.

Join us this Lord’s Day, April 15, as we examine the story of Joseph from Genesis 39 and consider what it looks like to follow Jesus in the midst of disappointment.  We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock.  Click here for directions.

Come with a friend you and join us for fellowship and conversation. We look forward to seeing you there.

Believe!

Believe!

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is an iconic fixture in the American observance of Thanksgiving. Among the lineup of massive balloons in this year’s 91st installment was “Harold the Baseball Player.” The return of Harold to the lineup of cartoon characters and superheroes was a tribute to the 1947 Holiday classic, Miracle on 34th Street, in which the float is featured prominently.

Perhaps you have seen the movie and remember the story’s central character, Susan, who has become hardened eight year-old skeptic regarding the existence of Santa Claus. That is until she meets an eccentric Macy’s store Santa named Kris Kringle. After a series of run-ins with the store psychiatrist, Kris finds himself on trial, fighting commitment to a sanitorium for claiming to be the one-and-only-Santa. In a melodramatic courtroom climax, Kris’ lawyer with the assistance of the U. S. Post Office proves that Kris is THE Santa Claus. But it is not quite enough for Susan. When she fails to receive an extraordinary gift she requested, she is plunged again into disbelief. As she struggles to believe, the tells herself, “believe, just believe.” You may have noticed the word “Believe” on the front of Macy’s New York store as this year’s parade rolled by.

Disillusionment comes easily when things don’t turn out as we expect and those we trust don’t seem to deliver. If this is true with relatively minor things like the existence of mere men of legend, consider how devastating it can be when it comes to matters of eternal life and death. Have you ever been disappointed with God, either His action or His timing? Have you ever felt that His promises have failed or that we have ruined our chances of knowing His love and mercy? Have you ever feared that God doesn’t care about “people like me?” Disappointment with God is a common struggle. This is why the Bible tells us that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

As with a parade, we cannot see the big picture, only what is passing in front of us. To look at God through the lens of our circumstances can give a distorted view of Him. In the Bible, the Gospels give us that “drone’s eye view” of the parade and reveal to us the unfolding of God’s promises through the incarnation of a Redeemer.

Join us this Lord’s Day, November 26, as we celebrate the season by considering from Matthew’s gospel the unbelievable story of the eternal God who became flesh and dwelled among us, to keep all God’s promises and to give us new life. This week we consider Matthew 1:1-17, the genealogy of Jesus, and what it says about God’s love and faithfulness.

We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock. Click here for directions. Come with a friend you and join us for fellowship and conversation. We look forward to seeing you there.

What Mean These Stones?

What Mean These Stones?

It has often been said that a word is worth a thousand pictures.   While pictures give us a broad view, they rarely provide sufficient context to interpret the events they portray.  Contextual ambiguity is the bane of all graphics.  Beauty and meaning in visual art is in the eye of the beholder.

Though not perfect, words are more capable of precision than pictures, logos, and cultural icons.  Nowhere is this seen more dramatically than in the iconoclasm that has gripped our society regarding statues and monuments.  As 3-D pictures, the meaning of statues is often ambiguous.  One says statues communicate hate while another argues that they express heritage.  Both assertions are bound to have a grain of truth.  Because a person’s legacy is as complex as the life they lived and will mean very different things to those who live on different sides of that legacy.    Unreasoned division is the peril of any society that expresses itself in icons and not in language, moving from the typographic to the pictographic.

In Genesis 23 we read of the death of Sarah.  Abraham grieves his wife’s death and makes provision for her burial.  In so doing, he acquires the only property he will ever own out-right in the land of Canaan.   Yet in providing a burial place for Sarah, he erects a lasting monument to God’s covenant promises and faithfulness – a monument which stood to remind the patriarchs of the unbreakable power of God’s Word.  This monument still stands today.  For monuments to have enduring meaning, they must direct us to the clarity of words.

What lasting monuments are you erecting to God’s covenant promises and faithfulness?  How clearly do the monuments in your life call future generations to follow Christ and believe His promises?  How effective are the monuments of your life or death at directing others to The Word?

Join us this Lord’s Day, August 27, as we examine the account of the death of Sarah and Abraham’s concern for a lasting witness to God’s covenant promises through provision of a burial place for her.  We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock.  Click here for directions.

Come with a friend you and join us for fellowship and conversation. We look forward to seeing you there.

Unbreakable

Unbreakable

Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love,
    but a faithful man who can find?  Proverbs 20:6

Lovers are always looking for a way to declare their unbreakable, steadfast love for one another.  One contemporary trend is for couples to place a padlock on a bridge railing and throw the key into the water, symbolizing an unbreakable, permanent commitment.  These “love-locks” can be seen on the Junction Bridge in downtown Little Rock.  But, the most famous locale for love-locks is the Pont des Arts in Paris.

Lovers have been placing locks there for over a decade to memorialize their unbreakable commitment to one another.   But there is a problem.  Forty-five tons of locks have accumulated on the historic bridge threatening its safety.  With great poetic irony, the City Fathers of Paris have decided to cut off all the locks, utterly destroying the intended symbol.

It is hard to find unbreakable love.   Man’s fickleness and self-concern always get in the way.  Sin seems always to cut away at the love that was declared to be unbreakable.  Yet, the Scripture speaks of a love that is unbreakable.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39

Nothing can separate us from this love, including our own stubborn sin and inconsistency of faith.   The life of Abraham reveals a shining example of this.  The man of faith, who is given so many remarkable promises, fails to trust in God’s Word and His Love, time and time again.  We see this vividly in Genesis 20 as Abraham allows his wife to be taken again into the harem of a petty tyrant.  We might expect God to have had enough, but instead we find quite the opposite.

One commentator right noted.

Abraham did but illustrate what is all too sadly common among the Lord’s people — that which might be termed the inconsistency of faith. How often those who are not afraid to trust God with their souls, are afraid to trust Him with regard to their bodies! How often those who have the full assurance of faith in regard to eternal things, are full of unbelief and fear when it comes to temporal things! And how did God act? Did He lose patience with Abraham, and cast off one so fickle and inconsistent? Manifestly Abraham had dishonored the Lord in acting as he did, in setting such an evil example before [unbelievers]. Yet, behold the grace of Him with whom we have to do. Instead of casting him off, God interposed and delivered Abraham and his wife from the peril which menaced them.    Arthur Pink, Gleanings in Genesis.

Where will you find unbreakable, steadfast love?   Join us this Lord’s Day, August 6, as we examine the sordid story of Abraham and Abimelech in Genesis 20 and consider the unbreakable love God offers us.  We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock.  Click here for directions.

Come with a friend you and join us for fellowship and conversation. We look forward to seeing you there.

Decisiveness

Decisiveness

Temptation to indecision is a part of every man’s life.  But nowhere is male indecision more vividly on display than when a man takes his wife on a date.  The Scripture commands us to “dwell with our wives according to knowledge” (1 Peter 3:7).  Yet men often seem oblivious to their wives preferences and needs.  How many dates begin the circular rhythms of the “where-should-we-eat” dance?

Why are men prone to indecisiveness?  Why is it so hard to make a decision?  Certainly the Bible warns against undue haste, failing to count the cost, and even rash oaths, but at the same time men are commanded to be decisive, boldly walking by faith and not by sight.  Perhaps indecision is rooted is apathy toward the options, fear of making a wrong decision, or failure to assess what is most important.  Or perhaps indecision springs from a faith crisis.

Nehemiah was a man faced with many demands for decisive action.  What spiritual disciplines enabled him to resist the temptation to inaction and to be decisive?  Join with other men as we gather this Thursday morning, August 3, from 6:30 – 7:30am at Panera Bread, 10701 Kanis Rd, Little Rock, for fellowship, prayer and discussion of godly manhood from the life of Nehemiah.

Teach Us To Pray

Teach Us To Pray

In Reformed Churches, teaching on prayer is often guided by confessional expositions of the Lord’s Prayer.  Luke’s gospel tells us that Jesus teaching on the Lord’s Prayer was a triggered by the disciples’ request, “Lord, teach us to pray.”   They asked not merely for a formula, but for a lifestyle.   John Calvin commented in regard to the prayer life exhibited in the Psalms.

I have been accustomed to call this book, I think not inappropriately, “An Anatomy of all the Parts of the Soul;” for there is not an emotion of which any one can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror. Or rather, the Holy Spirit has here drawn to the life all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are wont to be agitated.

Paul, commenting on the prayer life of Epaphras, pastor of the church at Colossae, noted that Epaphras was characterized by “wrestling in prayer on behalf of [his congregation].”

Prayer is no mere organ recital or a letter to the Santa.  Prayer unfolds and lays bare the anatomy of our soul before our Heavenly Father, Creator and Lord.  It is more akin to wrestling than a polite beginning to a meal or ending of a meeting.   What does prayer look like in your life?

Join us this Lord’s Day, July 23, as we examine Genesis 18:16-33 and consider some valuable lessons regarding prayer from the life of Abraham as he wrestles with God in prayer over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.  We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock.  Click here for directions.

Come with a friend you and join us for fellowship and conversation. We look forward to seeing you there.