We Become What We Worship

“We become what we worship” is the basic insight of G K Beale’s book of the same name. Unfortunately it’s an “academic” book and, like most academic books, suffers from being twice as long and complicated as it ought to be (where have all the brave editors gone?). Part of the book’s complexity results from the author trying to prove his point from the wrong passage (Isaiah 6), when there are a number of others he does refer to that could have formed a much more obvious foundation for his thesis.

But that apart, the main point of the book is deeply insightful, and neatly summed up by Beale in this memorable statement: “What people revere, they resemble, either for ruin or restoration.” He argues that we were made to bear the image of another, and that we become the image of what we worship – either our Creator or something in the creation.

Psalm 115 is perhaps the clearest example of this. The focus of the psalm is on the deliberate construction of silver, gold, and other materials into a god to be worshiped (v. 4). The psalmist looks at the statues and sees what looks like a mouth, eyes, ears, nose, hands feet, and chests. But they have no functionality; none of these things are working (vv. 5-7). They don’t speak, see, hear, smell, handle, walk, or even breathe. They can’t speak truth to us, hear our prayers, see our situation, savor our worship, receive our gifts, come to our aid, or impart life.

The impact of this idol on those who worship them? “Those who make them are like them; So is everyone who trusts in them” (v. 8).

It’s not that these idolators lose their physical senses of speech, sight, etc. Rather, it’s a description of the idolators’ souls and spirits – lifeless and senseless like the idols they worship. They are spiritually dumb, blind, deaf, powerless, and breathless. They’ve become what they worshipped.

“But I don’t worship pieces of metal, wood, or stone.”

No, maybe we’re not “traditional” idolators,” but we may have any number of “non-traditional” idols and the impact of them is exactly the same. We become what we worship:

  • If we worship supermodels, we’ll become vain and self-centered.
  • If we worship football players, we’ll become aggressive, bombastic, and women-demeaning.
  • If we worship actors and singers, we’ll become foul-mouthed, immoral, and sad.
  • If we worship corporate America, or the dollar, we’ll become greedy, oppressive, and materialistic
  • If we worship academia, the pursuit of degrees, letters, titles, etc., we’ll become proud, arrogant, condescending, and conceited.

BUT, and here’s the huge encouragement from Beale’s book, if we worship Jesus, we’ll become like Him. Worship is the main “tool” God uses to change us into the image of His Son.


Worldview

Evolution, You’re Drunk
Recent DNA studies have turned the world of evolution upside down. One of the most basic tenets of this theory is that life evolved from simple to complex and therefore simple organisms are much older than complex forms. Enter the amoeba to spoil the evolutionists’ day:

Amoebas are puny, stupid blobs, so scientists were surprised to learn that they contain 200 times more DNA than Einstein did. Because amoebas are made of just one cell, researchers assumed they would be simpler than humans genetically. Plus, amoebas date back farther in time than humans, and simplicity is considered an attribute of primitive beings. It just didn’t make sense.

This article goes on to explain:

Before the advent of rapid, accurate, and inexpensive DNA sequencing technology in the early 2000s, biologists guessed that genes would provide more evidence for increasing complexity in evolution. Simple, early organisms would have fewer genes than complex ones, they predicted, just as a blueprint of Dorothy’s cottage in Kansas would be less complicated than one for the Emerald City. Instead, their assumptions of increasing complexity began to fall apart. First to go was an easy definition of how complexity manifested itself. After all, amoebas had huge genomes. Now, DNA analyses are rearranging evolutionary trees, suggesting that the arrow scientists envisioned between simplicity and complexity actually spins like a weather vane caught in a tornado.

So, no hope of the sinking theory being abandoned, of course. But the deck chairs are certainly being rearranged.

What Every Christian Should Know About Income Inequality
The Income inequality argument is not easy to oppose. It seems so plausible and “fair.” Joe Carter comes to our aid with ten points that every Christian should arm themselves with:

  1. Incomes are measured in money — and money is not wealth.
  2. The existence of income inequality is generally a sign of a fair distribution of incomes.
  3. Both low and high rates of income inequality can be signs of unfairness.
  4. Income inequality is not the same as economic inequality
  5. Measures of income inequality are meaningless because incomes are not zero-sum
  6. Income inequality and poverty are separate issues.
  7. No one in America is really concerned about absolute income inequality.
  8. Discussions of income inequality are almost always about redistribution of income.
  9. The only real threat caused by income inequality are problems caused by envy
  10. The focus on income inequality is at best, useless, and, at worst, immoral.

No Women Don’t Make Less Money Than Men
Here’s a fascinating article exposing the spurious gender wage gap statistic that President Obama used in his State of the Union address. “Today,” he said, “women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment.”

What is wrong and embarrassing is the President of the United States reciting a massively discredited factoid. The 23-cent gender pay gap is simply the difference between the average earnings of all men and women working full-time. It does not account for differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure, or hours worked per week. When all these relevant factors are taken into consideration, the wage gap narrows to about five cents. And no one knows if the five cents is a result of discrimination or some other subtle, hard-to-measure difference between male and female workers.

This article demonstrates that much of the difference can be explained by the choice of majors at college:

Here is a list of the ten most remunerative majors compiled by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Men overwhelmingly outnumber women in all but one of them:

1.   Petroleum Engineering: 87% male
2.   Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration: 48% male
3.   Mathematics and Computer Science: 67% male
4.   Aerospace Engineering: 88% male
5.   Chemical Engineering: 72% male
6.   Electrical Engineering: 89% male
7.   Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering: 97% male
8.   Mechanical Engineering: 90% male
9.   Metallurgical Engineering: 83% male
10. Mining and Mineral Engineering: 90% male

And here are the 10 least remunerative majors—where women prevail in nine out of ten:

1.  Counseling Psychology: 74% female
2.  Early Childhood Education: 97% female
3.  Theology and Religious Vocations: 34% female
4.  Human Services and Community Organization: 81% female
5.  Social Work: 88% female
6.  Drama and Theater Arts: 60% female
7.   Studio Arts: 66% female
8.   Communication Disorders Sciences and Services: 94% female
9.   Visual and Performing Arts: 77% female
10. Health and Medical Preparatory Programs: 55% female


Check out

Depression and the Pastor’s Wife: Suffering in Silence
Transparent post from Cara Croft that will help many.

Short-term Family Resolutions
Steve McCoy explains how his family has made progress by developing smaller and shorter-term resolutions, especially in fasting from technology.

Simple Evangelism in the Church
How an atheist was won by Christians loving one another.

Taking Back Sunday
Daniel Montgomery tackles the subject of exhaustion and argues that most people are living a sub-human life. ON same topic, Jonathan Parnell gives us Three Reasons to Get Some Sleep.

Ecclesiastes and the New Testament
Paul Helm looks at how Ecclesiastes influenced the New Testament writers.

Calvin The Liturgist
How Calvinist is your church’s liturgy?


Children’s Bible Reading Plan

Here’s this week’s morning and evening reading plan in Word and pdf.

This week’s single reading plan for morning or evening in Word and pdf.

If you want to start at the beginning, this is the first year of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf. And this is the second year in Word and pdf.

The first 12 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

Here’s an explanation of the plan.

And here are the daily Bible Studies gathered into individual Bible books with Genesis and Matthew now complete (explanatory note).

Old Testament

New Testament


8 Ways to Reverse the Decline of the American Book Lover

According to The Pew Research Center:

  • Nearly a quarter of American adults have not read a single book in the past year.
  • The number of non-book-readers has nearly tripled since 1978.
  • In 1978, 42 percent of adults had read 11 books or more in the past year; today just 28 percent hit the 11 mark.
  • The average 18-to-29 year old finishes nine per year, compared to 13 among older American.

But there’s some good news too:

The percentage of young folks reading for pleasure stopped declining. Last year, the NEA found that 52 percent of 18-24 year-olds had read a book outside of work or school, the same as in the pre-Facebook days of 2002. If book culture were in terminal decline, this is the demographic where you’d expect it to be fading fastest. Perhaps the worst of the fall is over.

I struggle to find time to read. Yes, I read plenty during working hours for lectures, sermons, etc, but in terms of reading books of choice in my leisure time, I confess I often go to bed disappointed in my use of the evening hours. It’s so much easier just to tap around on the iPad or read blogs. So here are a few strategies I’ve recently been trying to follow to increase my reading.

Same Time and Place
Set aside 30 minutes a day when and where you can be guaranteed that you will not be interrupted. Try to make it the same place and the same time every day and get agreement from everyone in your household to guard that time for you. And turn off your phone notifications. When you get used to that rare and wonderful feeling of reading for 30 uninterrupted minutes, up it to 45, then an hour. You’ll soon be completing a book every 7-10 days.

Count the Pages
I know, this probably sounds ridiculous, and maybe it’s a man thing (everything’s got to be a competition), but I do find I read more when I count and record the number of pages I read in my 30 minutes. Somehow it stops me reading at half-speed and also improves my concentration. Put an index card in the book and record the pages for each 30 mins.

Read Paragraphs Not Pages
Break each page into paragraphs and count each read paragraph as an achievement. Maybe it’s social media but I find I don’t have the same concentration span that I used to. I can read a page and yet realize I haven’t taken in a thing. But if I focus on paragraphs, I find that I can concentrate much better on the smaller chunks, and my reading speed actually improves as I build momentum as each paragraph is conquered (it’s the man thing again).

Stop Reading
Books are brilliantly marketed today, making it more and more difficult to know what books to buy or not. They all “look” so good. Few read as good as they look. I’ve lost count of the number of books I’ve stopped reading after a chapter or two. I don’t feel under any obligation to force myself to read badly written, poorly thought out, and pale imitation books just because I bought them. That would be double stupidity – wasting my money AND my time. If you make yourself read a book you are not enjoying, you will slow down, find excuses to fill your 30 minutes with better things, and eventually give up.

Start the Empty Shelf Challenge
I’m still trying to find an empty shelf, but I think Jon Acuff’s Empty Shelf Challenge is a great idea to motivate a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Not very helpful for Kindle readers unless you follow his suggestion of printing out a copies of the front covers and maybe posting them on a wall. Which brings me to…

Read Paper Books
I love technology, but I must confess that despite trying again and again and again to read books on a Kindle, I hardly ever finish books on it. I don’t have the motivation of seeing how far I’m physically through the book, and I am way to easily distracted by the other possible books on my Kindle or other options on my iPad. Kindle books are cheaper, but you lose more than you gain.

Read with Your Kids
This will probably only work for those of us with older children, but this January I agreed with my two teenage sons that I would buy each of them a book a month from Amazon. They don’t have a free choice, as we make the selections together. The main criteria are that the books would help them grow spiritually, vocationally, or help prepare them for life in some way. As they each have to read the other’s choice as well, I hope they and I will have read 24 books in the year, with lots of discussion among us along the way. FYI, the first two books they chose were Sam Walton: Made in America (one wants to go into business), and How to Become a Straight A Student (we can but dream).

Anyone got any other ideas?