Image or Substance

I’m waiting at an airport coffee kiosk to collect my coffee, surrounded by beautiful pictures of mouth watering tea, coffee, hot chocolate, espresso shakes, etc. We all know that they make these pictures so that we’ll buy the drinks, supposing that they’ll taste as good as they look. In my experience, this isn’t true. It seems like we’ve been trained to swallow image like cotton candy and still yearn for tangible substance.

I think the same idea holds true for stuff with Jesus. Let’s be careful that we don’t merely sell the sizzle of Jesus – His benefits, powers, etc but neglect to personify His substance in our daily living. Jesus is way better than images, illusions or elusive cotton candy. His extravagant love, is far more satisfying than words or pictures could describe!

Valentines Hangover

I’m a huge fan of Genuine Love but not as much with the romance stuff. While I certainly like my share of chick flicks, candlelight dinners, snuggling & nice cards, the idea that romance is the same as love leaves my soul cold & withered. 
Romance is nice, sometimes frothy & often temperamental. In contrast, Genuine Love is the sturdy & robust soil in which intimacy flourishes, deepens & makes for opulent & desirable fruit. Consider what Paul says about love in 1Cor 13:4-7  

Let’s be conscience of the difference between romance & Genuine Love, opting for substance, sacrifice & continuous sustenance for our souls. Keep in mind that 1 John 4:8 says that God is love 🙂

Happy Post Valentines Day!

Are Rituals Good?

  

My knee jerk answer to the ritual question is “no”. Rituals feel constructive to me, empty & sometimes counterproductive. In all fairness, I wasn’t raised with many rituals & my personality probably bends toward things non-ritualistic, at least in theory. 
But if I look at my daily prayer time, I’m very ritualized. My ritual is to stumble out of bed, pull on a sweatshirt without tripping down the stairs, drink two vitamin drinks, boil water for my coffee, go to the bathroom, make coffee, sit on my couch, get cozy with my respective blankets, set my Bibles by my side & commence with my reading & prayer time, hopefully rich, intimate & deep. 

If I frame rituals from the purpose of creating a structure for desired goals (intimate relationship with God, quiet reflection, listening, discipline, etc), then I’m totally on board with such rituals. But if my rituals are merely a form for me to go through the motions without being wholly present, then the rituals can become empty shackles, hallow & even hypocritical. 

Substance without form is often unproductive. But form without substance is a vacuous mirage. And religion with rituals is no substitute for a deeply intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit 🙂

Are Rituals Good?

  

My knee jerk answer to the ritual question is “no”. Rituals feel constructive to me, empty & sometimes counterproductive. In all fairness, I wasn’t raised with many rituals & my personality probably bends toward things non-ritualistic, at least in theory. 
But if I look at my daily prayer time, I’m very ritualized. My ritual is to stumble out of bed, pull on a sweatshirt without tripping down the stairs, drink two vitamin drinks, boil water for my coffee, go to the bathroom, make coffee, sit on my couch, get cozy with my respective blankets, set my Bibles by my side & commence with my reading & prayer time, hopefully rich, intimate & deep. 

If I frame rituals from the purpose of creating a structure for desired goals (intimate relationship with God, quiet reflection, listening, discipline, etc), then I’m totally on board with such rituals. But if my rituals are merely a form for me to go through the motions without being wholly present, then the rituals can become empty shackles, hallow & even hypocritical. 

Substance without form is often unproductive. But form without substance is a vacuous mirage. And religion with rituals is no substitute for a deeply timing are relationship with the Holy Spirit 🙂

Empty pursuits

When I was little, I was briefly mesmorized by cotton candy.  It looked so alluring, fluffy and it seemed to have an ethereal and tasty substance.  I remember the first time that I tried it – I was totally disappointed.  When the sugar rapidly evaporated as I put it in my mouth, I remember trying to find the substance of that big frothy and fluffy cotton ball  only to be disappointed by its disappearance and I thought, “What a rip off!”  It left a sweet taste in my mouth but no substance.

Anything we pursue that is not ultimately God will be like my cotton candy experience – tantalizing, alluring, fluffy and seemingly substantial, but ultimately empty, vacuous, disappointing, void and vain.  I like what CS Lewis said:  Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in.  Aim at earth and you will get neither.”  Let’s be mindful of our pursuits, watching how we spend our time, energy and money 🙂