Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Blessing of Snow

Snow has caused us some inconvenience and extra work recently. Too often, we focus only on this. We ought to ask ourselves, "What are some of the benefits of snow?"

Snow is often beautiful and sentimental (as Bing Crosby still reminds us), but it has other benefits as well. According to a University of Nebraska web site (and the University of Delaware agrees), snow insulates the ground and keeps it from freezing too deeply. There are also various recreations, such as skiing and sledding, that are dependent on snow.

But the greatest benefit of snow probably is its inconvenience. That is right, inconvenience is a blessing. Snow, when it comes in sufficient amounts, reminds us of our human limitations, and we need that reminder.

Jeremiah 10:23 tells us, "I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps. Romans 5:6 also reminds us of our human limitations. "For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly."

We need to be aware of our limitations. We need to heed the imperative of psalm 46:10"Be still and know that I am God." But we stay so busy. What does it take to get us to be still? Sometimes it takes a snowstorm to get us to stop, and, if that is what it takes, then "Lord, bring on the snow."

"Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!"

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Spiritual Voyeurism

Jamie Oliver, a British chef, has sold one million copies of his latest cookbook. It is the best selling nonfiction book in Britain in at least ten years. Yet, most observers believe, there is less cooking being done in British homes than at any point in history.

Here, as in Britain, food shows and cookbooks are popular, but cooking is not. People talk about cooking, they watch shows about cooking, they may even read books about cooking, but they do not cook. "There's never been so much interest in cooking and we've never talked so much about food," said Martin Caraher, professor in the department of food policy at City University London. "But we call it 'gastroporn'. People look at the cooks but don't necessarily put (what they learn) into practice."

Something similar may be happening in the spiritual realm as well. Fifty years ago, religious bookstores were rare. There were a number of religious programs on regular radio stations, but there were no stations devoted to religious programing. Today, every city of any size has two or three evangelical radio stations and at least a handful of religious bookstores. No longer is the spiritual diet limited to the Sunday sermons. Some people may listen to dozens of religious messages in an average week. But is it being put into practice or is this just spiritual voyeurism?