State Fair Fears, Fun, and Faith

As a life long N.C. resident, I have made a yearly pilgrimage to the state fair for as long as I can remember.  My reasons for going over the years have changed, but I always enjoy myself while attending.  A couple of years ago, I discovered that one the perks of being 4o was a newly discovered motion sickness that occurs on almost every single ride at the fair.  So now I found myself as a mere observer of the crowds lined up to go on the rides.  Don’t worry about me, I have found satisfying consolation in the turkey legs and fried faire.   As I ponder my attack strategy on my sumptuous project, I start to marvel at how many people pay a bunch of money to be terrified on a ride.  Why are the scariest rides the ones that people go back to ride over and over for fun?  This drive to have fun by fear easily makes up millions, if not billions, of dollers  of our national economy through amusement parks, horror shows, and thrill adventures.  Perhaps we crave the sense of overcoming our mortality, excitement, or just the thrill of adrenaline.  However, we can not deny the demand in people.

Yet there is disappointment even in this adrenaline rush.  All too soon the ride ends, despite waiting 50 times the length of the ride.  Or the tenth time on the ride is not nearly exciting as the first time and we need something bigger, faster, higher, or scarier.  Or we turn 4o and our stomach betrays our desires.   Have you ever wondered what these desires might have to do with faith?

C.S. Lewis has written in his Mere Christianity, Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

Could it be that following God through this present life and to the future time to come will provide us with the effect of an adrenaline rush like we have never know before?  Yet one that has no end and a new glorified body, mind, and Spirit that can sustain such an intense emotion.  The object of this fear, fun, and faith is the person of God.  The Holiness of God is not that of dull emotions, but a fervency and excitement.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV)

Jarrod Scott

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The Blessings Are There

So many people are into doing crafts.  For them it’s wicker and glue, ribbons and twine, and all those other things that seem useless until their gifted eye and skilled hands get ahold of it, turning my pile of would-be refuse into a lovely decoration or something amazingly useful.  There’s another gifting that shows itself in the realm of music.  Talented writers translate the ideas in their mind into vivid images on a page without the first use of color, and musicians infuse these tales into strains that sooth and comfort, or impassion and evoke.

And then there’s me.  In the box score that’s gone before us, I would be zero for two.  My eye sees no hidden beauty in your basket of knickknacks, nor do my hands have the ability to transform something from practically anything.  And my musical mind is supremely stunted, and no original tunes lie just below the surface.  But these two areas are just the tip of the iceberg of what I don’t have and cannot do.  And you might be in the same boat, but just on different waters.  You might have the crafty gene, but you were absent the day they handed out coordination.  Or your voice may be angelic, but you couldn’t decorate a mantel if the entire staff of Michael’s helped you.

Another somewhat disappointing sports weekend led me to recall the years of continuous failures on the field, a place where I have found some joy while others have found theirs in their own hobbies.  But, rather than dwell on the disappointment, I was blessed to recall just a sprinkling of the good fortune that I have experienced when things could have gone south.  My son lost his wallet and ID at the fair, where any of the close to 100,000 people could have found it and kept it.  The next day, he went back to get what someone had turned in, out only some cash.  My wife had an abscess growing in her throat a few years ago.  The next morning, she went to the ER to get it checked out.  Within a few hours, she was in surgery to remove what was about to completely close off her windpipe.  My young daughter had a growth near her sternum.  The surgeons opened her up and removed what turned out to be just some excess tissue.

I guess I could lament the inevitable losses that seem to pile up for my team, or the lack of talent and skill that I have.  But God has been too faithful in matters that really count.  And I’ll trade a lifetime of losing seasons for the upholding right hand of my Heavenly Father, who tucks into every point of my life the overwhelming opportunity to offer Him thanks and gratitude.

Rich Holt

Can the U.S. Presidency mean too much to us?

Six years ago I toured Washington D.C. and looked inside the famed rotunda of our U.S. Capital to see the image in the picture below. This is Constantino Brumidi’s 1865 fresco, entitled The Apotheosis of Washington.   The title refers to George Washington’s, our first president, elevation to the rank of god and ascended in the Heavens, a la Jesus Christ.  As a worshipper of Christ and U.S. citizen I was aghast that this was in our U.S. Capital.  However, I rationalized it as a classical artist interpretation in honorof Washington’s role in our country, which might have been the intent.  My previous rationalization has been nullified by this election season.

Honestly since the primaries, I have wrestled with a sense of disgust at our primary process to bring us the candidates that are before the country today.  The public slander, vitriol, corruption, and unseemly aspects of this election cycle can be depressing.  My degree of depression is directly linked to my degree of expectation for the presidency.  In additon, is the oft heated and public divisions among even the believers in Christ.  No doubt, as followers of Christ we are to be concerned, active, and prayerful for the future leaders of our country.  However, we must ask the question, “what if the believer places too much of their heart toward the presidency?”  One purpose of the law of God was to help us discern when we worship something more than God.  In our fervency to see a candidate to office, are we sinning toward others?  In our passion to see godly elected officers, are we dismising God’s place in our heart?  There is much I don’t like about our candidates, but I do praise God, that this year I can better see the difference between Christ and the presidency.  Honestly, when there is a candidate I’m personally excited about, it is much harder to recognize my misplaced hope.

We would do well to consider how 1 Corinthians teaches believers who are engaged in the world.  “Brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let . . . those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it.  For the present form of this world is passing away.” 1 Corinthians 7:29, 31  For those of you who will look up this verse, you will see that Paul was not specifically refering to voting.  No something even more intimate and God-ordained as marriage.  If we are to guard the hope of our heart in marriage, how much more, do we guard our hope in our government. As believers, we are in this world, so we will vote, but never put our hope in voting.

Jarrod Scott

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Looking Toward the Future

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For some time Judy and I have had the pleasure of worshiping periodically with the Seniors at Carillon. Over the last few months we have worked our way through Randy Alcorn’s book “Heaven” and Erwin Lutzer’s book “One Minute After You Die”, both of which directly focus on future things above… and on future things below.
I would highly recommend these books for insight into the impact the choices we make on earth will have on our eternal future. Honestly, Alcorn stretches Scripture a bit in my view, with his sanctified imagination of what Heaven will be like. However, the picture he paints is both reasonable and detailed, addressing many of the questions we have always wondered about. Lutzer, on the other hand, is more direct and less colorful in his succinct outline of the hereafter. Whichever approach you prefer, the truth is, we will all find complete clarity on what the future holds at the point God chooses our exit from this earth. The sad part is that at the very instant we “see” eternal reality, that is the same instant we lose total control over what that eternal reality will be like. Scripture speaks to this in Paul’s discussion on the importance of love when God says:
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known(1 Corinthians 13:8-10,12).
In the end, predictions of our future life on the other side of the grave (prophecies), words (tongues), and human thought (knowledge) like Alcorn’s and Lutzer’s will become irrelevant (pass away). The “partial” (our lives on this earth) will be replaced by the “perfect” (our lives in Heaven). God concludes the chapter by saying:
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Given the reality of what lies ahead, what is the greatest expression of love we can show others while we remain faithful and hopeful. looking toward the future……?
Jeff Hilles