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Archive for the ‘American Idolatry’ Category

iPhone Mania

This Friday, as has been drilled into every technology lover’s head, Apple’s iPhone will be released to an eagerly awaiting public. Now, I have no clue whether it is going to live up to the hype currently being generated for it, but the iPhone IS a great glimpse into our obsession with gadgets.

It is amazing to me that so many column inches have been devoted to this thing, and that so many people expect it to be the be all and end all of cell phones. The interesting part is that I see that push for satisfaction in this thing. It is a microcosm of our larger cultural movement to find satisfaction in material things. Have you ever seen someone take out their latest gadget, following by the drooling of all his friends? This type of culture promotes covetousness, a sense of pride (I’m better than you, I have an iPhone!), and ultimately, cannot satisfy. I find it sad how many people seemingly derrive their ultimate joy from a gadget, or a gadget company such as Apple.

Of course, I tend to fall into the same trap. My tendency is to worship at the altar of the Gadget, the newest technology thing. I have to admit, I’d love an iPhone myself. I’d get one if they were less expensive. However, I have to guard against the tendency of my heart to worship my stuff, particularly my gadgets. It is helpful to remember that it is all going to burn anyway – this world and all its stuff – and that putting too much time and energy into accumulating things is going to leave us empty and regretful. Material possessions cannot satisfy, cannot deliver me from sin, and cannot provide the kind of deep, lasting relationship God provides. I should spend much more time in studying God than I spend looking at the latest cool tech toy.

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Lusts of the Flesh

Between Two Worlds has been doing a series on the Lusts of the Flesh with David Powlison. He’s discussing how our own desires betray us, and how the things we want are mostly worldly, sinful things. In question 1, he addresses our misconception of the word “lusts”:

But the term “lust” has become almost useless to modern readers of the Bible. It is reduced to sexual desire. Take a poll of the people in your church, asking them the meaning of “lusts of the flesh.” Sex will appear on every list. Greed, pride, gluttonous craving, or mammon worship might be added in the answers of a few of the more thoughtful believers. But the subtleties and details are washed out, and a crucial biblical term for explaining human life languishes. In contrast, the New Testament writers use this term as a comprehensive category for the human dilemma! It will pay us to think carefully about its manifold meanings. We need to expand the meaning of a term that has been truncated and drained of significance. We need to learn to understand life though these lenses, and to use these categories skillfully.

One of the things that opened my eyes to the biblical meaning of the word “lusts” and the meaning it has of “desires” was taking German. In German, the word “lustig” is an adjective that describes something desirable – saying that something is “lustig” is equivalent to saying “that’s great” in English. After seeing this word, which was surely related to our word lust, I realized that the meaning of the word “lust” in English was much broader in the past – that it didn’t include just sexual desire, but the things that make us feel good – the little idols in our lives. The “lusts of the flesh” are any desire that can be traced back to our fallen nature. In other words, these lusts are all our desires for anything less than God – which is a sobering thought, really. We can’t just read about the lusts of the flesh and write them off as something we are conquering because we have our sexual desire under control – rather, the lusts of the flesh are something that we fight our entire lives, whenever we encounter a choice between obeying God and obeying the flesh.

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Don’t Waste Your Life

Don’t Waste Your Life. (Post updated since first posted.)

Click on the “podcast” link, and watch the videos. Those are convicting. I don’t think I’ve ever watched more convicting videos in my life. It just makes you think, “Wow, look how temporary this life is. Why waste it on trivial things, like so many of us do? I don’t ever want to look back and think “I’ve wasted it”.

I love the way that whoever did the video juxtaposes the things we spend so much time on – our busyness, our treasures, with the truth that these things mean nothing in the long run. The streets of New York City, filled with people rushing about so much that they don’t realize how much they need to give their lives to something more meaningful. One that particularly hit home was the one of a house. Unlike the others, no words were spoken. An abandoned looking house is sitting there, while the words “Matthew 6:20” are placed in the middle of the screen. They fade away, and then in an instant, the house is knocked over. All the effort put into that house was ultimately for nothing – the house stands no more. It was a poignant reminder that our lives are also like that, espicially if we do not do anything that will last.

Desiring God plans to put more out – weekly podcasts about not wasting your life. You can subscribe from the website, or click here for the iTunes subscription.

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In Technology We Trust

America is a nation of idolaters. I know, since I am among their number. There are all sorts of things that this nation puts their trust and hope in, and I hope to make that an ongoing series here.

One of the things that we as a nation simply adore is technology. You can see it in the love of iPods, cell phones, and the countless gadgets we carry. You can see it in the movies, where the guy with the gadgets comes in and saves the day. You can see it in the breathless coverage a new technological invention gets in the media. You can a microcosm of this in Apple. Basically, there is a whole rumor culture around the company, which ramps up whenever the High Priest of Apple, Steve Jobs, gets up and says something. Apple currently defines the “hip gadget”, as can be seen by the hyperventilation over the iPhone. “What will it mean? Will it redefine cell phones forever? Most of all, where and when can I get one?” However, scientific technology is viewed in a similar fashion. People don’t think about the ethics of a situation at all if a new technology is involved – because the new, more technological way HAS to be better than the old way. I know this temptation well, being someone in the technology industry.

At times when we are tempted to buy into the technology worship culture, I think it is wise to remember that God is over everything. He commands us to trust in him. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5) This verse in particular can apply to when we put too much faith in technological achievement. We are to trust in God and God alone. Technology will fail (very often with a blue screen of death these days). God will not. The verse “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Mark 13:31) is a reminder that anything we build will not last, and is not worthy of our trust and worship.

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