Archive for April, 2009

A Different Take on the Susan Boyle Phenomenon

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the talent displayed by Susan Boyle during her performance of “I Dreamed a Dream,” I’m a bit saddened by some of the publicity in its aftermath.  Oh, most reports are quite complimentary, yet it makes me question the mindset of the average person among the 40 million viewers of her performance.  Most writers spoke of how they were able to find a deeper meaning in her performance.

Lisa Schwarzbaum said, “Boyle let me feel … the meaning of human grace…. She reordered the measure of beauty. And I had no idea until the tears sprang how desperately I need that corrective . . .”

One article asked if this experience somehow redefined beauty, grace, and success.  I hope not.

Have we really become so cynical that we assume that a person can have no value unless they meet our own particular qualifications regarding physical attractiveness?  Have we become so judgmental that we each believe that we’re the best just of what makes a person attractive–outwardly, or inwardly?  Do people look at me through a prism of skepticism, and think that I’m stupid or unworthy, just because they don’t think that I’m attractive?  Do they doubt that I can add any value, based upon their first glimpse of me?

Oh, we do indeed need “a corrective.” It was the height of arrogance for anyone to assume that Susan Boyle was unlikely to be a good singer because she wasn’t attractive enough. When she first walked onto the stage, we should have seen a lively and fun spirit. I feel sorry for anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of knowing someone like her.

So, it’s puzzling as to what was so repulsive about her.  If it was because she was middle-aged, then billions of us are likewise insulted.  If it’s because she spoke with a Scottish accent, then I suppose we could all be offended by the fact that most people don’t have the same accent as we do.  Maybe it because she is from a small town, somehow making her unworthy, or at least naive about the big-city life.  Or perhaps she’s offensive to us because she lives alone, past the average age for marriage.  Or maybe it’s because she’s a cat lover instead of a dog lover, or because she wears her hair differently than what we would prefer.

So what if she was bullied as a child!  Weren’t we all, to some degree?  Do we really not realize that it was the bullies who were in the wrong, not the objects of their profanity?

For us Susan Boyles of the world:

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.”  1 Peter 3:3-5

“But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.'” 1 Samuel 16:7

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

For those who might judge us:

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”  Matthew 7:15

Or maybe we should adopt Christ’s attitude in regard to these talent shows:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2

On Becoming a Grandfather

Friday, April 10th, 2009

Four days ago, on April 6th, our first grandchild was born. As I held her, several scriptures came to mind.



– “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:13-14) – Indeed, I know full well how wonderful God’s works are. One day this week, as I held our tiny six-pound granddaughter, I looked at her and studied her features until I got a headache! I tried to imagine how God made such a perfect-looking little girl, all complete, and wonderfully made. How did He knit her together in her mother’s womb? How did He get every detail just right? I noticed that her forearm, from her elbow to the tips of her fingers is about the same size as my index finger! Then I looked at her tiny hand, and how each tiny finger extends from her hand, just like mine.  Then I noticed that each tiny finger has knuckles just like mine, and even creases in her skin across each knuckle. Then I imagined looking deeper into her skin with a microscope, and seeing some of the billions of cells that make up her body, realizing that Christ is holding each cell in its perfect place (Colossians 1:17)

– “Thus is the man blessed who fears the LORD. May the LORD bless you from Zion all the days of your life; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem, and may you live to see your children’s children.  (Psalms 28:4-6) – This tells me that I have received a great blessing, because I have lived to see my children’s children.

– “Children’s children are a crown to the aged.” (Proverbs 17:6) – Our new granddaughter is certainly a crown that I wear with pride. The other truth to this verse is that, by the very definition of grandparents, I’m becoming “aged.” I’m only 53, so I’m not really old by most standards, but my daily aches and pains remind me that I’m certainly not young any more. But now there is a young lady to take my place when I’m gone. This is God’s order of things.

No, We’re No Longer a Christian Nation

Friday, April 10th, 2009

Due to recent comments by President Obama, the hot topic on conservative talk shows this week is whether or not we are still a Christian nation.  I believe that we’re clearly no longer a Christian nation.  According to the 2008 version of “The Statistical Abstract of the United States,” 74% of Americans claim to be Christians (51% Protestant and 24% Catholic). However, based upon my definition of a Christian, very few of these are really Christians; i.e., born again believers who believe that we are saved by grace alone, through faith (Ephesians 2:8-10), without regard to our works of any kind. Unfortunately, this eliminates most of those who profess to be Christians. 

Apparently this is true even among evangelicals–that subset of professing Christians who are most outspoken about evangelizing by sharing and spreading their faith. See the “Salvation Is Free” post below, where Bob Wilkin concludes that most Evangelicals believe that saving faith includes other things (works). If evangelicals don’t understand how one becomes a Christian, then my guess is that only a very small percentage of Americans are true Christians.

However, if evangelicals have failed to evangelize, and most Americans are not Christians, does this release us evangelicals from our commitment to God’s commandments?  Of course not.  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

Who Is To Blame?

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

The members of the media have many theories as to who is to be blamed for the mortgage crisis that has crippled our economy. Conservatives want to blame the Democratic members of Congress for encouraging lending institutions to make loans to people who couldn’t afford them, so that more people could be homeowners. Liberals want to blame President Bush and his Republican administration, oddly enough, for the same reason. Both groups agree that the mortgage companies and Wall Street bankers must share the blame.

However, I suggest that most of the blame should probably fall on those who applied for those loans, which were approved even though they shouldn’t have been. Whether they were approved on the basis of fraudulent information, insufficient information, or lack of proof, the soon-to-be homeowners used poor judgment in determining what they could afford. They signed the papers, and they accepted the responsibility for paying back the loan. If they signed something that they didn’t understand, then they’re still to blame for not asking for clarification.

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” Matthew 5:33-37

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?”  Matthew 16:10-12