December 14, 2017

Enjoy Today! (It’s a command)

New Orleans Mardi Gras, Manzano

  • Now when the Lord your God blesses you with a good harvest, the place of worship he chooses for his name to be honored might be too far for you to bring the tithe. If so, you may sell the tithe portion of your crops and herds, put the money in a pouch, and go to the place the Lord your God has chosen. When you arrive, you may use the money to buy any kind of food you want—cattle, sheep, goats, wine, or other alcoholic drink. Then feast there in the presence of the Lord your God and celebrate with your household. (Deut 14:24-26, NLT)
  • So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God. (Eccesiastes 3:12-13)
  • God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. (1Tim 6:17, NIV)
  • One will have to give account in the judgment day of every good thing which one might have enjoyed and did not. (The Talmud)

Comments

  1. .

    I’ll drink to that!

    .

  2. The answer to the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism feels appropriate here:

    “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”

    Cheers, Steve and Mike!

  3. Well, Lord, I’ll try my best. But I’ll need you help — this doesn’t come naturally to me …

  4. Hmmm… This fits in with a recent development in my church. Our pastor has just begun a three-and-a-half month sabbatical, his first in 20 years at First Baptist. His topic of study? Art and how it relates to worship. He and his wife will be traveling through Europe, focusing on the works of Caravaggio in particular. As it turns out, his minor in college was art history (who knew?). And yet our church is not at all known for artistic expression. Plain box, wrapped in vinyl siding, with a make-believe fibreglass steeple on top. One stained glass window, one painting of Jesus with the woman at the well. Mere concessions.

    For his period of absence, he and the sabbatical team have arranged a series of lectures/sermons/workshops by artists to explain (justify?) how art and worship connect. It seems that a lot of people in our church don’t “get” it, but so far no hostilities. Guest preachers will also include members of our congregation, including myself, and one of my topics may become the 2nd Commandment (no graven images) and how we might find a loophole to that, and go ahead with artistic expression anyway to glorify God (I like loopholes).

    So yeah, the above quotes will fit in well with our journey through the cathedrals and museums of Europe. I especially like the Talmud quote, which used to come up a lot with an OT professor of mine: In the world to come (olam haba) we will have to give account for all the good things we could have enjoyed but did not. As it turns out, God might consider our rejection of his good things an insult. See Genesis1:31.

    • Yay, Pancake Tuesday! Then Ash Wednesday tomorrow, when we remember our mortality and fast’n’abstain 🙂

      Ted, I was just thinking that there might be objections to the art along the lines of “These are idols and images!” or “It’s creeping Catholicism!” Interested to see how that will turn out – me, I’m a sucker for the Gothic up to the Early Renaissance, but that’s the Western approach; I understand that one objection to the Western art by the Orthodox is that it humanises too much and becomes more about painting and art for the sake of art rather than religious devotion (and I can certainly see the merit of that argument; as I said, I prefer the early rather than the later stuff, and Caravaggio for instance does strike me as more interested in the artistic expression rather than the ostensible subject matter, but then again, I always find it hard to judge how sincere or otherwise he was as an artist when dealing with what were commissions from clients for church paintings).

      Let us know how that turns out! And please explore the Eastern side of the family as well! 🙂

      • But maybe artistic expression itself can serve to glorify God, as in us being imitators of God’s creation (on the other hand, the builders of the Tower of Babel ran into trouble with that).

        I think we always need to look for a balance. If the appreciation of art can range from: humanistic art for art’s sake, to art that truly glorifies God, to art that becomes idol-worship, we need to recognize the traps and make sure that it all points to God as author and finisher.

        Some time after the 2nd Commandment was handed down, God commanded the construction of the Ark of the Covenant, and then the Temple, both great works of art. So there must be a godly balance somewhere for our understanding.

        I’m not too worried about our church members denouncing “creeping Catholicism”. Mostly it’s just indifference to religious art in our case. I don’t think anybody’s really thought about it. It’s like, “Huh. Art. Pastor Scott. Who knew?”

        Not sure exactly how this fits with Fat Tuesday, except for enjoying things. And as for fast’n’abstain, you Catholics can do that. I’m a Baptist. I’ll take the art, but fast’n’abstain sounds too much like creeping catholicism. 🙂

        • Ted wrote, “Some time after the 2nd Commandment was handed down, God commanded the construction of the Ark of the Covenant, and then the Temple, both great works of art.”

          I have thought about that too, Ted. I recently read J.I. Packer’s book Knowing God and was surprised by how opposed he was to any “religious art.” He’s Anglican and I thought lots of their church buildings have stained glass windows portraying Jesus in various settings. But I guess he is a very…conservative?…Anglican. There were a lot of people besides me questioning his position on this matter as he put a note at the end of that chapter explaining about all the letters he got and how he wasn’t planning on changing his opinion. For all I know, he may have changed it by now. I liked his chapter on the Holy Spirit and some of his others chapters, but in some very important ways, he and I would not see eye-to-eye on matters about Christianity.

          • I finally got around to reading Packer’s book a year or two ago, but I didn’t catch that about art. I’m surprised and disappointed.

            I read Francis Schaeffer’s book Art and the Bible last year and you’d probably like that. And it’s short!

            Before he took off on sabbatical, our pastor bought a case of Philip Graham Ryken’s book Art for God’s Sake to give out to members of the congregation. I’ve only just scratched it, but it also looks good. And also short, which is a good sell these days.

  5. Does anyone know when the practice of a pre-Lenten celebration became common?

    Evidently Lent itself was regularized at the Council of Laiodicea in 363AD. How soon after that did Mardi Gras or similar carnival celebrations begin?

    Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends
    We’re so glad you could attend, step inside, step inside!

  6. i am giving up being ungrateful this Lent. yeah. i am going to enjoy God’s bountiful providential gifts! i am going to enjoy the day more & the fruits of my labor.

    i am going to rest in His goodness. i am going to be more aware of all the good things He does bestow. this Lenten season will be a continuous Thanksgiving time for me minus the extreme feasting of course. couldn’t do that for 40 days & survive the caloric overdose. but my attitude will be more in tune with God’s provision & how he created us to enjoy good things as He intended…

  7. Our ability to be gracious is proportional to our ability to do two things: bear lifes tragedies and embrace lifes ecstasies.
    Having come from a New York Irish background, it was a terribly empty experience to go to a Baptist style Texas wedding. Paper plates in the basement with sandwiches cut in fours. Dixie cups with lemonade or iced tea. It felt like a Shakesperian tragedy to me. Your wedding day for goodness sakes. Where is the drunken uncle? I know drunkeness is not called for but work with me here. A glass of wine for a toast. Mix in a little earthiness like the nuns from yesterdays post. Some yin and yang. Some combining of opposites. If our heads go too far into the clouds we forget our feet are still in the mud.

    • “If our heads go too far into the clouds we forget our feet are still in the mud.”

      I like that, ChrisS.

    • I hope someone noticed that God told his people to turn their harvest tithes into cash, pocket the money, buy steaks and booze and have a big ‘ol party. With their tithe money! Ever hear a Texas Baptist preacher advocate that? Or any preacher for that matter?

      • there are aspects of living in a theocracy that actually appeal to me. this being one of them…

        the requirement to participate in annual feasts is something we may accept from a traditional sense, like Thanksgiving & Christmas, but it is not emphasized as a religious command to do it, “unto the Lord.”

        yet with any good thing some semblance of order required. heck, even Paul had to chastise those that were abusing the Lord’s Supper & being insensitive to others. so where there is liberty some will abuse the privilege. just some thinking out loud here catalyzed by your post…

      • Yes this is amazing to me It’s as if we are giving that money back to God by enjoying it! Like saying that celebrating with your family and refreshing your spirit is part of God’s work and something worthy of the tithe. What a great verse..goes completely against my pharisaic heart.

  8. Wow, good reminder. It’s intentional!