February 7-13, 2005
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.”
A half-eaten carton of Moosetracks ice cream sits on my desk as I write this column. With each spoonful, I ponder crucifying my fleshly passions and desires. Clearly I’ve got some work to do. But Lent starts this week. Tonight's my own private Mardi Gras.
Moosetracks is one of the most ingeniously addictive ice cream flavors ever: Vanilla ice cream with mini peanut-butter cups and swirled fudge that hardens into crunchy candy. I open the carton and my self-control surrenders.
My ice cream dilemma illustrates the biggest problem Christian stewards have in North America. We have so much, we have to work hard to keep from overindulging.
In defiance of Paul’s advice, our Christian nation has collectively gone beyond merely ignoring widespread slavery to fleshly passions and desires, and has actually turned fulfillment of desire into a good and an entitlement. All around us, advertisements scream the message: If you want it, you have a right to it.
Overeating. Smoking. Accumulation of wealth. Even sex (especially sex?) has become just another passion we are entitled to fulfill.
This is bad stewardship, and America suffering the consequences of this sin. Obesity-related illnesses boost our health costs and cut our lives short. Promiscuity is back in fashion, so STDs are epidemic again and a high rate of unwanted pregnancy persists (as does our shameful abortion rate). And disturbingly, gluttony is rampant among our wealthy even as America’s poor lose good jobs, buying power and health insurance.
We are being crucified by the passions and desires of our flesh. A Christian nation that takes the Bible seriously can learn from Paul’s instructions to the Galatians. Lent is an especially good time.
I take a final scoop of Moosetracks as Ash Wednesday nears by the minute, and I promise to crucify my desire and passion for ice cream. At least until Easter.
-Rob Blezard, webmaster and editor
New this week:
GIVE: Living faith in daily life
Here's four-session small-group Bible study exploring generosity and giving in our culture. Sessions are entitled, "Giving Starts with Receiving," "Not Counting the cost," "The great struggle between greed and generosity," and "The spiritual power of generosity." Meaty, in-depth and challenging! From the ELCA and posted on the stewardship page of the New Jersey Synod. Click Here for the Bible study. (PDF file - requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.)
of generosity, tests of faith
"It occurs to me that what we are doing in all parts of the ministry is faith formation. Some days we are the face of Christ for people who have no reason other than faith to hope that any help will come. When we at this little way station on the way to the cross offer heat or food, we offer more. We offer hope and a renewal of faith." Click here for Pastor Dana Reardon's weekly column.
"Authenticity is the watchword of a generation that is suspicious of squeaky-clean, franchise Christianity. … But our longing for 'authenticity' also bears a suspicious resemblance to the latest plot twist in the story of consumer culture: the tendency to rapidly replace the squeaky-clean franchise with the 'authentic' franchise." Good insights from Christianity Today columnist Andy Crouch. Click here for Stonewashed worship.
Christian Service Workshop
From the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, a creative and thoughtful service to get your members thinking and acting. With handouts and other resources. Click here for the Christian Service Workshop.