Posts tagged ‘love’

December 8th, 2013

Love, Philosophy, and Love

by Max Andrews

264207_10150227244710163_6694857_nWhen you say “I love you” to your fiancé[e], spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend the profundity behind that declaration is incredible.  So, if my beautiful wife asks, “Why do you love me?” what do I say?  Well, I give her my reasons of course… but at what point do I originate my reasons?  Yes, God has orchestrated the world that it be this way but what factors are involved in God’s providential molding?

I believe the question of love ultimately comes down to the individual’s agency, their free desire and choice to love.  If all my reasons to love are external then that would seem to imply that there could be external reasons for me to stop loving.  Here’s a few examples. I love my wife because:

  • She has a beautiful smile.
  • She is fun.
  • She is intelligent
  • She has gorgeous eyes.
  • Her personality complements mine.
  • She is kind and gentle.
  • We have memorable moments.
  • She makes me happy
  • Etc.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but I chose features and examples that a lot of people will say up front.  All of these are external features and reasons.  What if these change and

May 17th, 2013

Why this Life First? Why not Heaven?

by Max Andrews

This is a legitimate question. The claim that God could have created us in the state of heaven avoiding all this evil and suffering in the world is a nuanced version of the problem of evil.  If we are going to heaven and our telos, our purpose and end, is to worship God and enjoy him forever in heaven then why didn’t God skip this earthly step?  Surely, one may think that there’s a possible world in which we all exist in heaven.  It’s my contention that the instantiation of heaven alone is not a possible world.

Aside from other theodicies and defenses such as soul-making, perhaps the most relevant to this question, I think it’s critical to understand that heaven isn’t some lone possible state of affairs by itself.  Heaven is, necessarily, a contingent state of affairs.  It’s a consequent, if and only if, there are prior antecedent conditions or states of affairs.  Heaven is a result of our choices during this life.  In other words, this earthly life is a necessary condition for heaven to be brought about (aside from the salvific will of the Father and saving power of Christ, I’m merely stating that this life must precede heaven.

November 30th, 2012

Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week

by Max Andrews

I would like to ask all of you to wear purple at least once this week for Crohn’s and Colitis awareness week. As some of you know, I’ve been in a tough battle with the disease for a while now and I’ve been in chronic pain since last summer. For more on my story please see my links:

Originally blogged at My Journey With Crohns.

As a result of a federal bill introduced by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and Congressman Andrew Crenshaw (R-FL-4) (passed in 2011 [LINK: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/sres199/text], Congress declared December 1-7 to be Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week to educate Americans about the diseases and encourage people to join in the effort to find a cure for IBD. This resolution was passed in thanks to some great Senators and Representatives who cosponsored it including:
·      Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS)
·      Senator Jack Reed (D-RI)
·      Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
·      Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
·      Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY)
read more »

July 20th, 2012

The Crohn’s Chronicles: One Long Year Later…

by Max Andrews

Today, July 20, 2012, marks the first anniversary of my Crohn’s surgery.  I have had Crohn’s for eight years and it has won the battle over a few organs. I was in serious pain for just over a month prior to the surgery. I spent my birthday last year, July 18, in pain. The next day I was going to go out with some friends to TGI Friday’s for a Jack Daniel’s steak to celebrate my birthday.  I wasn’t feeling well that afternoon and took a nap.  I woke up with a 105 degree fever. Leah rushed me to the hospital. I was not a good patient. I was angry. I refused to take the CT scan at first because I knew what they would find.  I gave in. I didn’t know what they would find. I was wrong. They found that my colon was perforated and I needed emergency surgery. They let my body rest for the night in the ICU. It was a rough night…

(Please click here to help me and others.)

I remember the nurses pushing my bed into the room where they prepped me for surgery. I was, of course, having fun with all the drugs I was on, but I knew what was going on. My Dad and step-mother drove out from Richmond for my surgery. I’m so glad they did. I saw them before going in thinking, “What if this is the last time I see them?” The staff let Leah back in one more time before I went unconscious. She had to hold on my wedding ring while I was in surgery. I remember asking my surgeon how many times he’s done this surgery and he said that my condition was “pretty bad” but that he has done thousands and this sort of thing was his “bread and butter.” I trusted him. These surgeries happen all the time, so why was I so nervous deep down?

Before Leah came back into the prep area to get my ring, I prayed. Even though I was high as a kite on the dilaudid and Valium it was the most serious prayer I ever made. I prayed for the surgeon and that I’d make it out okay. I felt like I couldn’t even pray for no complications. Even if complications happened I didn’t care, I just wanted to come out on the other side. This was the first time I seriously entertained the thought that I might actually die and these are my last few moments awake. Without the surgery I could have easily died in a short period of time, but I didn’t think that was going to happen.  I’ll come back to this in a bit.

July 2nd, 2012

Is Hell a Good Thing?

by Max Andrews

When someone evil is killed or dies should we celebrate in the fact that that unsaved person will be going to hell?  For instance, Hitler and Osama Bin Laden were evil men. Should we be mourning and sadded by this? Yes. This person was not saved by God and another soul is in hell because of his unrepentant sin and trust in Christ to atone for his own sins. Love is twofold. There is love and holiness and when love and holiness are violated there is justice. My continuous reflection has got me thinking, “Why am I not more appreciative of justice?”

This is how I work it out and how I believe God views mercy and justice.  Antecedently, God willed and genuinely desired Bin Laden to repent and to respond to the revelation he has been given.  However, consequently, because of Bin Laden’s rejection of God and infatuation with evil, God has willed that Bin Laden atone for his own sins and for there to be justice.  This justice is his death and punishment in the afterlife.  Why am I not taking joy in God’s justice?  I believe my apprehension of justice is far removed from how God loves justice since it is ontologically based in him.

April 17th, 2012

Why Every Christian Must Practice Epistemic Humility

by Max Andrews

There are three primary categories for virtue the Christian/theist will affirm.  The first are the transcendental virtues: truth, beauty, and goodness. The second set is the theological virtues: faith, hope, and love/charity.  Then there are the four cardinal virtues: prudence, courage, patience, and justice.  It’s my belief that every Christian must practice epistemic humility.  What is that?  Well, epistemic humility, in the sense I’ll be using it, refers to an application of the four cardinal virtues in the area of epistemology (knowledge).  Each of these virtues have a respective vice.  For instance, the virtue of moderation would appear as a vice in addiction.

The virtue of epistemic prudence is know when and how to appropriate your knowledge to others.  Have you ever noticed that person in class or in church that seems to be the ‘know-it-all,’ whether they actually are or not?  Of course, it’s worse when they’re simply ignorant of what they’re talking about, but not only is this person annoying but there may be several issues rooted in the flaunting of knowledge. There’s nothing wrong with sharing you’re knowledge but, like I said, it’s how and when you share it.  

December 29th, 2011

Dear Cancer…

by Max Andrews

Dear Cancer,

You’re world famous now. I hope you’re happy. You’ve done everything you could’ve ever dreamed of doing. Your name is known in almost every home in the world. You’re probably more known than Jesus Christ himself. I just wanted to let you know I’m getting a bit fed up with you. You’ve managed to elude our medicine and our use of science. You’ve taken so many of my family. You’ve taken friends. I’ve seen so many friends and family suffer the pains of your presence. I’ve seen so many more suffer your pains by watching others experience it. We all cheer for joy when we find out you’ve left but you never seem to leave us alone for good. I’m sure you treasure your secrets as to what form you’ll take or when you’ll come back. However, what I treasure is that you can’t answer why you come. You’re but a means to a greater purpose. Have you ever noticed that some of your victims find complete rest apart from you and in the Lord? Who knows?–Someday you may catch me. I hope not; but if you do, just know that you got second best. You can steal this life but you can never take the next. As you see, Cancer, you’re going to lose one way or another.

Sincerely,

Me

December 20th, 2011

Dear, Lewie… A Letter to My Younger Self

by Max Andrews

Dear Lewie,

I wanted to write to you with my best intentions of preparing you for the life to come.  I have so much to tell you and so much to prepare you for.  Don’t worry; I’m not ruining any surprises.  It’s like when you read the ingredients of your favorite dinner on the menu of your favorite restaurant.  You know what’s coming but knowing just that never seems to ruin the experience, does it?  You still experience the joy of the meal.  It’s a bit like that my friend.  This letter will only foretell you of things to come.  My purpose in writing you is to make sure you understand what it means to experience life.

I’ll cut straight to the core issue–your life is going to be good and I have nothing but good news for you.  Despite what you’re about to read it’s all beautiful.  Your life is going to change.  Okay, before I continue I know what you’re wondering and yes, you will get married.  You’re going to meet this beautiful girl in college.  She’s going to distract you from everything.  You’ll have a romantic tunnel vision.  Everything else is going to blur and you’re going to focus in on her.  Her smile is going to capture you.  Her eyes are going to melt you.  You’ll learn to love.  This is the love that can never be adequately expressed in words.  Actions and experience is the only sufficient way of knowing this love… a love that helps you understand God.

This brings me to my next point.  Sooner or later you’re going to become a Christian.  The thing is, this doesn’t make your life any easier.  You’ll go to a university and study philosophy and you’ll learn to love science.  Pay attention in school.  Please, if this finds you please study physics more before university.  It will make things easier for me here!  You’ll eventually aim to make a career in academia.

August 19th, 2011

The Wrath of God and its Theological Implications

by Max Andrews

Guest Post by Bryan Raszinski

The wrath of God is a truth that is rarely taught or proclaimed within the Church these days. The Church seems to display greatly the love of our God, the mercy of our God, and the grace of our God…but when His wrath is brought up we just shut down and move forward like it is nothing of any theological importance. J.I. Packer recognizes this problem and says:

“To an age which has unashamedly sold itself to the gods of greed, pride, sex and self-will, the church mumbles on about God’s kindness but says virtually nothing about his judgment…The fact is that the subject of divine wrath has become taboo in modern society, and Christians by and large have accepted the taboo and conditioned themselves never to raise the matter…One of the most striking things about the Bible is the vigor with which both Testaments emphasize the reality and terror of God’s wrath.”

The Bible is clear that the wrath of God plays an important role not only in the life of an unbeliever but also in the life of a believer; Israel and the other Gentile nations.

In Exodus 3:20 it reads: “So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after that he will let you go.” One theological implication of this text is divine justice. Moses was just commissioned to go before Pharaoh by YHWH and demand the release of his people. This is the promise YHWH gives Moses as a sign that Moses is not alone in this deliverance. Israel is being delivered and redeemed back into the land they are supposed to dwell in as was authorized by the Lord back in the Genesis account. YHWH is going to strike the Egyptian nation with His wonders and miracles and as the Exodus account continues it becomes clear that His wonders are divine judgments that go against the 10 major gods of the Egyptians as well as play a part in showing the glory of His power and His name to the nation of Egypt and use this as an example for other nations to see. His wrath on the Egyptians was divine deliverance for His people the Israelites.

As we move in the New Testament, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians gives important implications of the wrath of God. We read in Ephesians 2:1-3-“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to thecourse of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Ephesians 2:1-10 is a popular passage when it comes to sharing the gospel and for good reasons. The first three verses serve as a reminder of the state we were in prior to believing in the Lord and acknowledging Him as Lord. They place us in a place that is often not spoken of…a place we refuse to realize we were in in the first place before being saved and transferred from  kingdom to another (Col. 1:13-14). We were devil worshipers and by our very nature a stench that repelled us from our Lord. We were sons of disobedience and walked by the flesh. We were children of wrath. Paul is very clear that before verses 4-10 occurred we were not in a neutral spot ready and prepared to say yes to the Lord whenever we deemed it necessary. We were naturally against the Lord and our minds and bodies were embodied in the chains of sin and depravity. We understand verses 4-10. We tend to only read that section and then move on from that passage praising the Lord for His grace…but do we know why we are praising His grace? Do we understand the full extent of where our sin had us and what He did for us?

The wrath of God gives us this ability. We as believers and co-workers of Christ can rejoice in the wrath of God because of the grace that has covered us for our sins in the past, sin we commit now, and sin we will commit in the future. Believers should not ignore the truth that the wrath of God has ingrained in it. There are two places in eternity- Heaven and Hell. For His children who will reside with Him in heaven we are able to rejoice in both the grace of God and wrath of God for the grace of God, given to us by the act of propitiation that Christ performed on the cross, has covered us and made us holy and above reproach. We can rejoice in the wrath of God because we are commanded to rejoice in the Lord always no matter what (Phil. 4:4) and because the wrath of God gives us deliverance from the sin of the world and separates us from the imperfections and distortions that sin has committed. It is the wrath of God that will eventually eradicate sin and temptation from the world and give us an imperishable place of residence free from such heavy chains (1 Corinthians 15:50-57) and allow us to be able to be what we were originally meant to be- the perfect and holy image of God.

July 3rd, 2011

The Crohn’s Chronicles: Second Thoughts

by Max Andrews

As many of you know, I’ve been battling Crohn’s disease for seven years now.  Most recently I’ve been struggling through a flare up that has lasted over a month now.  I’ve been treated as an outpatient for this flare up with antibiotics, steroids, and painkillers.  This past Thursday I had an appointment with my gastrointestinal doctor.  I want to add that this was a very timely appointment for if I had not been going to see this doctor I would have been going to the hospital because I was in so… much… pain… The doctor came in and asked about my medications and I told him I’ve gotten worse since being on them.  He saw the amount of pain I was in and within one minute of him seeing me he said, “I’m sending you to the hospital.”  My doctor’s concern was that I may need to have an emergency surgery to remove this section of my intestines (which doesn’t necessarily fix the problem in the long run anyways, 50% of the time the Crohn’s returns).  On the drive to the hospital my mind started to feel overwhelmed and I told my wife, “I’m so tired of being in pain…

My doctor was kind enough to call the emergency room prior to us leaving his office to notify them that I was on my way.  When we arrived all I had to do was tell them my name and that I was a rush admittance. I waited for no more than two minutes and they got me into an ER room.  They hooked me up to a saline/potassium IV and gave me a morphine injection to help the ease my pain. The next moment they brought me my favorite, beloved, most hated hospital beverage–vanilla flavored barium (for my CT scan I was about to have).  Barium is disgusting. Leah (my wife) sat by my side and encouraged me the whole entire time.  Mid-drink Leah told me, “We’ve still got to see this as a blessing, Max.”  This statement has dominated most of my thoughts since that Thursday morning.

I recently wrote a blog post on the blessings of having a disease.  It’s so easy to look back on to something and try to pull the good out of it.  It’s hard to look forward and expect bad things to happen and to pull the good from it then simply because the definitions of the situations have yet to be set, it’s unknown.  The hardest thing to do is in the midst of pain, look at yourself, keep a straight face and tell yourself that you honestly believe that there is good in this.  The morphine didn’t do much for me in the ER.  Not much longer than fifteen minutes after my first injection I needed another.  The nurse told me that I had been given enough morphine to hold me over for two hours.

Allow me to give a context for my pain levels this past month.  I don’t quite know how to compare the actual physical pain to something more recognizable but I’ve always said it’s like digesting glass or someone reaching into your gut, squeezing intestines and twisting them around.  My mother has recently been diagnosed with Crohn’s (she was diagnosed this past month amidst all of this).  She has said the pain is similar to child-birth (and I’ve heard many people compare the pain to child-birth as well).  Anyways, the pain has progressively grown more in frequency and intensity in the last month.  Sometimes the day would be great with minimal problems–others a blur from coping with it.  I went through three bottles of [prescription] pain killers in one month trying to deal with this.  The last week leading up to this most recent hospital visit got so bad that I started to develop back pains.  I’ve had back pains in the past so I figured it was just another problem that could be treated with back rubs and Icy-Hot.  I soon came to learn that my back pain was from Crohn’s.

Well, to resume the story, I wasn’t in the ER very long at all and I never did get my [needed] injection of morphine.  While in the ER the pain got so bad again that I gave myself a fever.  I arrived at the hospital with a 98.6 degree temperature.  Modestly, I wasn’t in the ER for over an hour.  By the time I got to my room I developed a 100.4 degree fever.  My RN came into my room as I was being wheeled in and she promptly went to get me some morphine and made a comment to someone roughly similar to, “Why are they not giving him morphine? Do they not see how much pain he is in?” You couldn’t have played Bach’s Fugue in C-Sharp Minor and tell me that this nurse’s words weren’t sweeter music to my ears.  My nurse told me that my fever was developed by my attempts of dealing with the pain.  When I was being wheeled into my room that first time I noticed that I was on the oncology floor.  I asked the nurse if she knew something that I didn’t and why I was on the oncology floor.  She said that the oncology unit specializes in pain control and that it was the best place for me to be at the time.  She made me smile at that (which also helped remove oncology-related questions and concerns).

My mother-in-law came to visit me within the first few hours of my stay and while she was there I was wheeled out for my CT scan.  She stayed with Leah in the room while I made my way to X-Ray for the scans.  CT scans aren’t my favorite but they don’t last very long.  To help with imaging they inject a radioactive contrast moments prior to the scan.  While being scanned you get a metallic taste in your mouth, a sensation similar to wetting yourself (I don’t know what it is but if they hadn’t warned me about that the first time I would’ve thought I had actually wet myself…), and a feeling of intense heat running through your body.  Well, I got my results later that afternoon.  My intestines had become so inflamed that it had put pressure on and displaced my kidney.  My kidney was responsible for my back pain (lower right back) and the inflammation, directly or indirectly by the kidney, put pressure some nerves, which intensified the pain.

That first night in the hospital, Thursday, I was being taken well care of by the nurses and doctors.  I can honestly say that I’m very impressed with the Lynchburg General Hospital staff.  I had a fairly liberal amount of morphine at my will when needed.  My way of testing my pain levels was taking in a deep breath and trying to sit up.  Breathing in caused the rest of my organs to move around just enough for my intestines to be irritated and sitting up moved my back enough to cringe.  My last injection was at 10 PM Thursday night when I wasn’t feeling much pain any more.  I love my pain killers but I love getting rid of the pain over masking it and I became determined to get out of the hospital.  The rest of my stay was wait-and-see.  I was being pumped full of intense treatment, which was a couple different antibiotics and steroids.  The next day, Friday, the doctor was surprised to see how far I’ve come with all the pain.  He thought for sure I would be in the hospital until at least Monday.  I had an early discharge from the hospital Saturday morning–no surgery needed.

Leah has been such a blessing in my life.  I love my wife so much.  This was the second flare up in six months and she has been by my side every step of the way in prayer and support.  She slept over every night and the last night there she was so worn out from working a fourteen hour work day that while she was cuddling with me in my hospital bed she fell asleep with me in that tiny little bed the whole night.  The nurses thought it was the cutest thing ever.  My mother and her fiancé, Howie, visited me Saturday afternoon, which was quite pleasant and needed.  I love my family so much.

Well, though my physical pain has passed away for the time being, my emotional and spiritual pain has intensified.  I started putting my mind in the way of hard questions.  I don’t want to say I started doubting but I wanted to keep my mind balanced.  I needed to check my balance between my emotions and my academics/intellect.  I started asking questions like: “Is there a God?” and “Why would God allow this?”  Despite my situation, the questions weren’t too hard to deal with and I credit having a strong foundation in my faith to not waver in the trials.  That’s not to say I didn’t have hard questions because I did.  The hard questions and struggles came when I realized that I started living in fear of pain.  I didn’t want to eat anything because I was afraid of the pain.  I likened myself to Dr. House who always seeks a way out of his problems in efforts to avoid his own pain (both physical and non-physical pain). I was pleading with God to just give me a break.  “God, please, no more pain!” I pled with God to just let things going right for once.  I had an emotional break down that night and wept.  I wanted to be done with pain.  I wanted to not worry about finances and whether or not I can afford to have a sandwich with a buddy and not throw off the budget.  I wanted to be able to drive across town and not worry about the gas.  I wanted to have our two vehicles we once had instead of one.  I wanted to have a job with normal work hours or to not stretch for overtime because I know we need the extra money.  I wanted to not be on medicine and if I had to be on medicine, that it not have the side-effects that they do have (breaking out, bloating, digestive problems, mood problems, etc.).

There were so many problems running through my head that I just wanted a break from!  I then stopped and thought about my situation in the bigger scheme and got mad at myself for complaining about it.  I have a house that I can get mad at when the weather rips off the storms windows.  I have family that I can bicker with.  I have a car that I can curse at yell at when it stalls in the middle of an intersection almost causing an accident. I have a job with great employers and coworkers who bend over backwards for me and visit me in the hospital.  I have medicine to treat my problems.  I have a great argument for every problem I have as to why it shouldn’t be a problem to me.  But still… I asked God, in my context, I would like things to go smooth just for a while…

This is where I am right now.  I’m trying to work all this out, hoping for things to smooth for me.  To not have these stresses build up causing me to break down every once in a while.  My life is good, it’s real good.  God has been so great to me.  The hard thing is being okay with it in my own context.  I know that the prayers of family and friends are what God used to expedite my care this past hospital stay.  I thank all of you so much for it.  I love you all.  Please continue to pray for me as I deal with the questions and that I will be sensitive to God’s work in me, that I may have His perspective on things and that I not get too entangled in my own sight and contexts.  I said earlier that the hardest thing to do is in the midst of pain, look at yourself, keep a straight face and tell yourself that you honestly believe that there is good in this.  I’ve come to learn that in the midst of pain, it’s easier to not look at myself, but to look to my heavenly Father and tell him that I honestly believe that there is good in this… even if I can’t see it right now…