Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Fifteen Refusals (and Affirmations) for 2008

[In late 2006, I posted these refusals and affirmations. I re-post them here (with a few additions), still believing in them and trying to live by them.]

Fifteen Refusals for 2008

In good curmudgeonly fashion, I will forgo the tradition of resolutions for 2007. Instead, I offer refusals, negations, denials. I soon turn 51 after the beginning of the year, so these refusals are born out of the gravity of aging and the thirst to make the most of the time God gives us in this vaporous life. But with every refusal comes an "instead," or an affirmation. Every true curmudgeon (in the sense defined and, I hope, illustrated on this blog) denies only because he is utterly enthralled by the transcendent Ideal, the divine Yes.

1. I refuse to waste time on trivia: that means 95% of popular culture. Instead, I will center on study, teaching, preaching, praying, writing, and mentoring.

2. I refuse to accept the anti-intellectualism (and even misology) of American evangelicalism. Instead I will teach, preach, and write in ways that demand concentration; I will write what ignites the intellect; I will preach as deeply as I can and dare you to come with me.

3. I refuse to dumb down anything, anywhere, any time. Instead I will inspire people to rise to the occasion intellectually.

4. I refuse to join those Christians who seldom read or reflect on the Bible. Instead I will read it, reread it, study it, memorize it, recite it, and meditate on it. I will try to incorporate it increasingly into my thoughts and words.

5. I refuse to seek no more than "personal peace and affluence" (as Francis Schaeffer put it thirty years ago) for my life. Instead, I will contribute to Kingdom endeavors here and abroad.

6. I refuse to tolerate bad preaching, superficial books, or kitschy Christian culture (Precious Moments, Thomas Kinkaide, etc., ad nauseum). Instead I will seek out the best, praise it, and challenge underachievers to climb higher.

7. I refuse to ever play a video game. Instead, I will look for Kingdom opportunities in the land of the living.

8. I refuse to waste time on small talk. Instead, I will endeavor to make all my words count for eternity.

9. I refuse to speak in cliches or outworn adjectives ("awesome," "cool," "incredible," etc.). Instead I will try to find the right word for the right thought--or say nothing. "A wise person holds one's peace."

10. I refuse to pose. Instead, I will live.

11. I refuse to accept the de facto deism of so many evangelicals who do not seek God for supernatural manifestations of Christ's Kingdom (healing, signs and wonders). Instead, I will seek (but never presume upon) God's miraculous, supernatural presence in this dark world. See Matthew 6:33.

12. I refuse to confine the Kingdom of God to America. Instead, I will keep an eagle eye for ways I can bless, encourage, and edify Christ-followers around the world.

13. I refuse to consign Christian women to second-class status in the church, the home, or the world. Instead, I will support and encourage gifted women to serve God in accord with their gifts and opportunities.

14. I refuse to preach only to the choir, to limit my ministry to the church, Christian school, parachurch, Christian publications, and so on. Instead, I will in every way possible seek to inject Christian truth creatively and ethically into culture through my writing and teaching, in order to rationally present truths not normally found there. But in so doing, I will not impose inappropriately nor will I hector anyone.

15. I refuse to follow any trend simply because it is a trend. Instead, I will seek to discern the hand of God in the world. The world does not set the agenda for the church.

None of these ideals can be achieved in my own power: "Yet not I but Christ who lives in me." Join me in refusing the world, the flesh, and the devil and instead affirming Christ and his eternal kingdom, here, now, and forever.


Kyl said...

We should consistently ask these types of questions: What are the most of effective ways we can advance the cause of Christ? What is the most effective thing I can say or do to advance the cause of Christ? It is a necessity that we nurture and develop our intellectual lives. The mind is an absolutely crucial part of the aforementioned questions. C. S. Lewis wrote, “He [Christ] wants a child’s heart, but a grown-up’s head.”

Kyl said...

Above I wrote, “We should consistently ask these types of questions:” I should have written, “All Christians should consistently ask these types of questions:”

Rumpole said...

I note with self-deprecating approval your refusal to play a video game. This past New Year's I made a number of resolutions to reject popular culture and focus on deepening my understanding of the Christian faith. (I am fairly new to Christianity, despite having been raised a Christian, I only affirmed it to myself about two years ago, aged 26 at the time.) Compiling a list, I resolved to abstain from excessive drinking/eating/small talk etc. Armed with these positive resolutions in mind, I was ready to face the new year. On the third of January, with barely a thought as I did so, I walked into a computer store and bought the latest video game console and a number of games. It seems that whenever I resolve to make a positive change, that another side of me actively seeks to undermine it. I look to a natural explanation but I find nothing in evolutionary theory that can answer the habit of humans to actively sabotage efforts to improve their lifestyle. Indeed, evolutionary theory would suggest that we would actively seek to better ourselves rather than destroy ourselves. Without hopefully sounding too maudlin, something else, something un-natural, appears to be interfering with us. The question is: will I put the video games aside, or will I deny Christ for another year...

NWProdigal said...


I'd advise taking the stuff back. Remember...your own words will condemn you if you don't. Remember that "to know to do good and not do it is sin". But, some would say "Then it's just another sin, right?"

The something else interfering with us is the body of this death, which we are to refuse to submit to. We are to crucify the desires of the flesh and sometimes those are not so much fleshly oriented as they are inwardly selfish, comfort seeking, time wasters.

At least you were honest about it in posting your comment.

NWProdigal said...


I commend you on your list. I have every confidence you will apply each and every one to your life. I'm also sure that you will not be satisfied with your efforts. And rightly so, since we will never be as good as we want to be. Would that more believers would follow your example.

Like Rumpole, I've only been a true believer in Christ for a little over a year. However, I still have my zeal and can't imagine how anyone claiming to love God cannot also love spending time in personal devotion, worship and reading the Word of life. I'm always encouraged by your outlook sir!

bondservant_blessed said...

let it be as HE wills. That all should know him; drawn by the power of his miracle working love to relationship with the one and only redeemer.
I see not love in any of your fifteen refusal/affirmations. I see unbalance. If you neglect the simple and the feeble how, then, are you to resemble the Fathers unconditional desire for relationship.
I see greatness drives you. Holiness calls you. Your answer though my friend may be a step in the wrong direction.Unmonitored, greatness drives us to become an unbalanced harm to ourselves. If law is your life then live it, but Love always takes presidents over mere submission.
Simple minded obedience is not a trend it is a lifestyle. If all these things were asked of you, then congratulations on your upcoming rewards my brother in Christ. `
"If the wise man cannot learn from the fool. Who, I ask, is feeble of mind."

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