Thursday, February 27, 2014

Objective Truth on a Spiritual Battlefield

In my view, faith is not blind at all! Especially with my faith, which is Christianity. I can approach it very reasonably, step by step.  

The Bible is historically accurate when compared to other historical events (99.7%). I can say there are over 5,000 verified manuscripts of the Bible that all line up to provide that this document was put together when it says it was, by the people it says it was. Philosophically I can look at the life of Jesus, and see that this was a man who did not sin once, when the record is examined. He was humble, he healed the sick, cured diseases, taught a perfect teaching, and he was a humble servant who died for his friends. He taught love and he lived love to the perfection of himself and all man kind.  It stands out as a philosophy of life more perfect than any other. 

Scientifically I examine the fact that no matter how many billions and billions of years scientists want to add to the theoretical age of the universe, they still cannot account for the incredible complexity of DNA happening by random, and they cannot solve the issue of the mathematical impossibility of the universe and sentient life occurring by accident. I've now approached Christianity reasonably, not blindly. I can also say that reality as I perceive it corresponds to the presuppositions of the bible, sin is a problem in the life of every single human being that lives, there are world wars and genocide, meanwhile Christianity has grown from 12 people to 2 billion.  Hard for a lie to grow so fast... don't you think?  Finally, I look at my own life, and say yeah.. I do notice this event, that event, this prayer that got answered, that prayer that got answered, the way I feel in church, the positive changes in my life as I give my will over to God to say.. wow, yep, there is definitely a God and I don't just believe it, I know it. By offering at least a certain amount of trust to God in the beginning I have gone from a reasonable leap to an absolute knowing.

Christianity is a global movement!  Did you know that?  This blog welcomes visitors from over 50 different countries.  Astounding, absolutely astounding.  The power and depth to the truth behind Christianity is absolutely overpowering.  It is not fun truth though, or popular truth.  The world says we are all basically good, the Bible says we are all basically bad.  The world says compulsory heaven for all and the Bible says give your life to Jesus if you want to live forever!  The world says homosexuality is good, the Bible says it's a sin.  The world says get everything you can, the Bible says serve God and love him above all else.

Those are not fun truths to kick around the dorm room.  

They say all truth is relative, and there are no absolutes.  And this is funny.. why?  Because of the word "all" in that statement.  This is something constantly affirmed on college campuses.  But it's funny because saying "all truth is relative" is an absolute statement, does that mean that all truth is relative except for the absolute truth that all truth is relative?  It's an error in logic.  All truth can't be relative, so does that mean that some truth is relative, but other truth is objective?  It's ridiculous really.  

From my perspective before I was a Christian, I thought the religious institution of Christianity was a backwards old tradition that had nothing to do with reality or reason, and had long been annihilated by the microscopes and telescopes of science.  

By the generalizations of the culture, sure, those things are true.  But when you actually inspect those things yourself, do some solid reading, you start to realize.. it's all full of holes. 

Strangely enough we no longer live in a society that is concerned with what is actually objectively true when it comes to spirituality.

Of course we're still completely sure there is objective truth when it comes to the price for a candy bar at the gas station, or for a gallon of gasoline at the pump.  If I say my truth is that the gas is free, and drive away with a few of my free gallons, maybe in my mind it's true, but it'll be true in my mind only, most likely as I'm sitting in a jail cell for theft.  Reality doesn't adjust itself accordingly to my desire for free gasoline.

Same thing with my bank account or my credit card.  Chase says I owe $4,000 but since all truth is relative, I think it's actually that I owe them $0.  Well, I've just lied to myself.  And maybe I feel better about it.  For a while, until they start garnishing my wages. 

Do you see what I mean?  How can we say whatever I want is true in the realm of spirituality, but in physical daily life, I constantly live by objective truths that are decided outside of me.  And they don't change, as I might want them to change.

God is the same from the beginning, and today, and to the end of time itself. 

I have a very sturdy anchor, one none can move.  I find joy in that.  I find some peace in that.

Now I take my Bible, and I read the truths in it, the proverbs, the poetry of the psalms, the instructions of the apostles, and then I look at the world.  Here is the meat and potatoes too.. that in so many areas of the world, and my daily life I saw things that rubbed me the wrong way, that I knew something wasn't right.  Do you ever feel that?  Like you're being deceived?  Like reality is not actually the way they say it is?  Again and again, and as I studied my Bible, and prayed, the contradiction and all encompassing lies of the USA culture began to jump out at me.

Oh the joy of discovering they were wrong.  I was wrong.  But I was glad to be wrong.  Strangely enough though, it was not by intellectualizing the Bible that I came to know Jesus Christ.  No.  I was trapped in the lie culture, bouncing in and out of rehabs, detoxes, and mental hospitals due to frequent suicide attempts. 

Temptation is a powerful weapon of the culture.  As me as a human being, is being clobbered over the head by constant advertisements, buy this, buy that, alcohol, cigarettes, food, sweets, cars, trucks, trailers, insurance, and on and on and on.. instead of it being like a free menu, to choose what would delight me the most.. oh I had chosen what I wanted.  But ironically the choice had been removed, and I was becoming addicted to the things they said would make me happy.  Alcohol, food, drugs, and so on.  Hammered, day and night with the temptations, fed to my eyes and my ears. 

I knew somewhere deep down it wasn't right!  But no one was protesting! Everyone was just wandering the aisles of the super market, target, wal mart, pleased it seemed, with this way of life.  I knew something was up.  But I didn't start to really be disturbed by it until I was all up in chains to alcohol, cigarettes, the desire for the female body. 

And I am telling you the truth, it is the very fabric of western culture, serve me.  But the truth behind that is.. I become enslaved.  Enslaved to the purchase of products, at the expense of my time, which I must spend increasing amounts of at my day job.  Credit cards wrack up.  And the counselor is telling me coping mechanisms, ideas to manage things better, self healing techniques.  But the answer wasn't in me.  And that's why those things didn't work. 

Because what Christianity says is true, and what the world was saying was ultimately false!  The world said here is your menu, you choose what you want, and don't worry, you're an individualistic strong self sufficient human, you can control your desires, and if you can't, hide it from others and from yourself. 

Christianity had the balls to look me in the face and say, "You're a sinner, and you've become enslaved to temptations because you can't resist without the help of Jesus Christ!"

That's an ugly truth for a self sufficient people like us.  But it doesn't matter how ugly it is, it is absolutely true.  Anyone who says otherwise is lying, or delusional.  Before I was a Christian I bent the knee to my desires, which meant I was at the same time bending the knee to those providing the products, which meant I was also bending my knee to money, and inevitably to myself.

Talk to a young woman on her 3rd abortion.  She knows, she knows.  It keeps her up at night.  God looks and sees a sin, he does not give it a pass because it's culturally acceptable at the time.  Because it's the way the wicked culture is going.  He looks and says "murder."  But should that same young woman get on her knees and give her life to Jesus Christ, God looks again, and says "I love you my child, your sins are forgiven."

Forgiveness is something we all need so desperately.  At entire planet of people who all need the same thing.  A Savior.  A superhero.  Jesus Christ is that man.  He is alive and well, in heaven. 

Upon accepting the savior provided, and digging my feet in, and answering the call to minister to a dark world.. it was like I woke up from a delusion, and found myself on a desperate battlefield. Think about the movie The Matrix with Keanu Reeves.  He is going about his day job, 9 to 5, and suddenly he's contacted by this group of hacker rebels.  And they spring him from the matrix, where he is plugged into this giant grid with plugs all over his body where the suck the life out of him.  These rebels, lead by Morpheus, break him out of the matrix, and he discovers himself on this battlefield between machines and man kind.  And it's ugly.  But at least it's the truth.  That's what Morpheus says to Neo, the main character, when offering him a way out of the matrix.  "All I'm offering is the truth, nothing more." 

That's all Jesus Christ offers us, is the truth.  When we truly wake up from the lie of modern society, we find ourselves on a spiritual battleground.  In foxholes with other believers, attempting to bring people to the truth.. people who don't want the truth.  People who would rather believe a lie.  We're assaulted by demons, hit by the darts of the enemy forces.  We are pounded by the hard truths we see around ourselves.  Issues like abortion weigh on our minds.  But the overpowering peace and joy of knowing we serve the living God, who will make all things right, is the most incredible encouragement possible.  Many of us internationally face death everyday.  People live in countries where the Bible is illegal, or where adherents of other religions will kill Christians.  We live in the domain of the enemy, Satan.  We are on enemy territory, and as a friend said to me, only a fool would build a house on a battlefield. 

This place is not your home!  Your home is in heaven, and so is mine.  God will make all things right here.  He will rebuild this place.  Don't kid yourself, this is a war.  And we are soldiers for Christ.  Remember that as you go out.

We must spend more time in prayer.  We must spend more time reading God's word the Bible.  We must spend more time training new Christians, and more time loving and providing for unreached peoples and non-believers. 

Do we really, truly believe Jesus Christ resurrected from his death on the cross and truly, truly, truly, paved our way to heaven? 

For me the answer to that question is: Yes. 

And since it is true, and my life of 80 years on this planet is so very short a time when compared with eternity, all my energy ought to go to storing up treasure in heaven, by loving my God with all my heart, and loving my neighbors as myself, and praying for those who persecute and kill me. 

Jude 1:17-25 (NLT)17 But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ said. 18 They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. 19 These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them.
20 But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, 21 and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.
22 And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. 23 Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.
24 Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. 25 All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.

Monday, February 24, 2014

1 Peter 5:6-7 Enduring Spiritual Warfare

1 Peter 5:6-7 New American Standard Bible (NASB)Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

The letter 1 Peter was written by the apostle Simon Peter, from Rome in the late A.D. 50s or possibly early 60s to Christians in Asia Minor who were under severe persecution (Douglas, 2011, p.1111). Peter was assuring those under persecution to conduct themselves in a righteous manner and to focus on the reward they'll have from God in the next life (Douglas, 2011, p.1111). 1 Peter chapter 5 is in relation to how to conduct oneself while suffering (Douglas, 2011, p.1111). 1 Peter 5:1-4 is a message to the elders of the various churches in Asia Minor. In verse 5 young people are addressed, and then it's clear that all the Christians among the churches of Asia Minor are being addressed. In 1 Peter 5:5 we learn that God gives grace to the humble. Verses 6 and 7 are in reference to God giving grace to the humble as at the beginning of verse 6 is the word “therefore” which points back to verse 5. Christians in Asia Minor are told in verse 5 to be humble toward one another. In verse 6, they are told to be humble under the mighty hand of God. This is a teaching to understand that God is in charge and is still sovereign even during times of persecution. Peter instructs the persecuted Christians to cast their anxiety, their fear and apprehension onto God. Peter encourages them saying that God cares for them and will give them their reward in due time. Grace is the mechanism within the idea of remaining humble, and later being exalted. The primary teaching is on humbleness in persecution, the sovereignty of God, and praying over anxieties.

Christians in the United States today are becoming increasingly disheartened and discouraged with the evil and sin around them. But Christians ought to remain humble and understand that God is sovereign in all things. The persecution will grow in the United States, as the secular world casts aside Christian truth in favor of pluralism and sin. God has not fallen off the throne, he was sovereign yesterday, he remains sovereign today, and will be sovereign for all days ahead. Consider how the Christians dispersed throughout Asia Minor were persecuted and killed during the earliest days of Christianity. Peter instructed them to remain humble, and to remain aware under times of trouble and growing persecution. They were losing heart too! They were becoming discouraged, and as a result beginning to give up because they had no redress. What redress do we have in this country? Christianity is openly mocked in the public square. God has no place in public schools. Christians are mocked in the mainstream media, and called intolerant and hateful toward homosexuals. In the scientific community Christianity is openly scorned, and the idea of God raises choruses of laughter. I strongly doubt anyone will hear our redresses on these concerns either. Never-the-less, God remains sovereign. But God does not simply sit back on his throne watching idly. God cares. Let me tell you now, he truly cares. So when these mounting concerns have you filled with anxiety, I want you to go to God in prayer. Tell him about what you're upset with, and why you're upset, and I want you to turn those anxieties over to our God. Because he does care. He does listen. He can carry those things, when we can't. We can be fully assured in prayer that God cares, and we can release our anxieties knowing for certain that God is sovereign over all that happens in our country. Our reward, our exaltation awaits us in the next left, where we will have happiness, honor, and dignity as the children of God himself!

Douglas, J. D., Merrill C. Tenney, and MoiseÌs Silva. Zondervan illustrated Bible dictionary. [Rev. ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2011.

Rapids, Mich. The strongest NASB exhaustive concordance. NASB updated ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2004.

The Holy Bible: New American Standard Bible.. New York: American Bible Society, 1991.

What Makes Jesus Superior to Other Saviors? (Vintage Jesus) - Mark Driscoll

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Grace and Peace to the Family of Christ

My dear brothers and sisters in the international family of Jesus Christ:

Grace be with you, and peace as well.  May love be in your mind, as you execute the order of the great commission that our great Lord Jesus gave, go unto all the nations and preach the word, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  How blessed are we, to be involved in the most important work possible!

There is nothing of greater importance, truly truly, if I start to think money, or the things of this world, or romance or the esteem of my colleagues even comes near the mission of serving God, I am beginning to go completely insane.  There are priorities my family.  There are ideals within Christianity that go about reshaping everything we understand about the world.

Psalm 145:1-21 (ESV) A Song of Praise. Of David. I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.

I was at a Bible study last night, and the topic came up, of the visitation of God to our planet, in the bodily form of the man Jesus Christ.  Scandalous, scandalous said the Bible study leader!  For the one who existed only in the tent, the tabernacle, the holy of holies, with such specific requirements to be obeyed when working near this earthly presence of God, it was absolutely intense, personal, and incredibly direct, for this presence to be in the body of a man, Christ Jesus, and sitting at tables spending time with the very worst kinds of sinners.  To the Pharisees, the religious leaders of that time in history, it was absolutely unthinkable.  They simply could not accept that God himself would be just that personal, and just that selfless, to sit at tables with sinners, heal the masses, and have such intimate contact with everyday, average people.

It at that moment in the discussion last night that I felt an incredible cherishing feeling erupt in my heart.  An incredible amount of pride, and honor, and humble gratitude, for who my God is.  He is the God who came.  The paradoxes and deep meanings, of what the height of moral truth is are shone in the life of Jesus Christ.  God came to us, personally.  That hasn't ever stopped.  Jesus lives in heaven at this very moment, and at the same time, meets us on the road, in our homes, in the churches, in the prison cells of those persecuted, and even in the alleys, in the drug dens, in the bars, and even out on the battlefields, he is there, meeting us individually, where we are at, and so often God draws us to his son from the most desperate circumstances, out of the most bitter confusion and welcomes us to believe, and begin on a new journey in communion with Him.

It was also at that moment in the discussion when it seemed if I had been in a room with religious leaders from every major world religion, I would've laid down the fact of Jesus Christ coming personally to sit with the sinners, as a royal straight flush!  I dare you to fix your broken idols in a manner that can even begin to compare with depth of truth and meaning, of the Holy of Holy God, coming to sit with sinners, teach truth, heal his people, and to die on a cross having committed no evil, at the same time paying the price of all the sins and evils of man kind, from the very dawn of man to the very last day of this earthly existence!

None compares to our Lord God, the God who came to Earth so desperately in love with his fallen people, he had to provide a river back to his tree of life.  Walk this way, he says to us, kiss my son, know my son and you will know me.

Psalm 2:7-12 (NLT)
The king proclaims the Lord’s decree:
“The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son.[b]
    Today I have become your Father.[c]
Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance,
    the whole earth as your possession.
You will break[d] them with an iron rod
    and smash them like clay pots.’”
10 Now then, you kings, act wisely!
    Be warned, you rulers of the earth!
11 Serve the Lord with reverent fear,
    and rejoice with trembling.
12 Submit to God’s royal son,[e] or he will become angry,
    and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities—
for his anger flares up in an instant.
    But what joy for all who take refuge in him!

John 14:6-11 (NLT)
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is.[c] From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”
Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. 11 Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do.

Operate in love with the Lord our God.  The God of all peoples and all nations of the Earth.  He is with you in China, he is with you in Europe, he is with us in the United States.  Discover who he is in the scriptures, and see how none other compares to his teaching, his love, his truth, his mercy, and his sacrifice.  

If you are being persecuted, or you are experiencing spiritual warfare, then you are exactly where you are suppose to be.  Rest in the peace of Christ.  If the way you are treated seems incredibly unfair, congratulations, you suffer as our great savior suffered.  Rejoice in peace, you will not find justice in this world.  Indeed this world is a battlefield, a continuous battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil.   Our savior, Jesus Christ "Jehovah Saves" provided the Way to eternal life.  In that way the serpent has been crushed.  But the war continues for the souls of those born into the great lie of this planet.  Things will be fixed and made right by our Lord at the appointed time, at the last day.  But until then, our Lord God is full of mercy, and is powerfully patient.  He wants to give time for those who are born into this broken world, lost in sins of all manner and kind, to repent and believe on Jesus for forgiveness and eternal life.  

That is where we come in!  God no longer exists solely in a tent, tabernacle, or in the person of Christ.  He exists in the body of believers, the universal church, as the Father lived in Jesus, now Jesus lives in us, and the Holy Spirit moves constantly among the nations and peoples of the planet, drawing those the Father wants to missionaries, churches, Bibles, and even blogs.  We have the great honor, privilege, and duty of sharing the Gospel with those God calls to us, and I am telling you the truth, there is nothing of greater importance. 

John 14:27 (NLT) “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Have peace in the God of all comfort as you go about your work among the nations.  Remember to love your neighbor with powerful concern for his and her eternal soul.  Remember also, our God is a very special God.  He is not just loving in general, but he loves You personally, so rejoice in that.  Pray for those who are persecuted, and endure patiently the trials and troubles of this life.  Await the future eternal life and glory with patience and gratitude.

God be praised, amen.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Brothers and Sisters of the Covenant

1 Peter 1:3-5 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

Brothers and sisters of the Covenant, 

I am honored to be here for you.  Peace be with you.  

Have you now become a powerful Christian?  Are you standing for your faith in multiple arenas?  I hope so.  This war rages endlessly, and only a fool would set up residence in a war zone.  Nothing will remain of the materials acquired in this life, so live for eternity.  Set treasures with your Heavenly Father, and be assured that he keeps careful watch over your inheritance as you make war on the forces of Hell.  

You need not worry, take up the full Armor of God that you may stand firm on this battlefield.  Any mature Christian knows this war affects all things, and all people.  The lie is persistent, and in the west, often all consuming through the lenses of technology.  The god of the air, the evil one, owns the air waves, television, radio, and so on.  It's an amazing thing, the internet, without it, I would be unquestionably quite brainwashed at this very moment!  

God has grace for all our failings, and he has grace for our prayers, and for the defense of the knowledge of his people.  We are his people.  He loves YOU.  God is loving yes, but he loves me directly.  Personally.  And he loves you, not simply as an idea or a concept, but as an emotional response, personally, to you, in response to who you are, and all you are, and for the simple fact that you are his child.  He's shining down on you at this moment, loving you, personally.  

Take heart, our Master has overcome the world.  The enemy is defeated, yet the war rages on.  And we will not be victorious in the physical world in regard to this war.  No.  We are being conformed to the image of Christ.  And the more vocal and open we are with our faith, the more enemy fire we're going to take.  

There is a repeating pattern, an expectation that will not change in regard to the properly lived Christian life.  If I am living it correctly, I will suffer the fate of Jesus Christ.  Jesus spoke the truth, they killed him for it.  Eleven of the twelve disciples all died for their faith.  An attempt was made on John's life, but the poison failed to kill him.  Stephen was stoned by the Jewish authorities.  The Apostle Paul was assaulted by crowds, beaten, arrested, thrown in prison, and brought before the high authorities of Rome.  

Joan of Arc was martyred.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer died attempting to stop Hitler.  

John F Kennedy died while attempting to stop the secret societies from their play on the United States.  Martin Luther King Jr. died in his attempts to make the world a better place for his people.  Polycarp and Justin Martyr, of the early church in ancient Rome.  The list goes on.

It's not a necessity to be killed for your faith as a Christian.  But it is highly possible.  And it is likely to be hated, especially in the United States today.  I live in friendly territory, north-central Wisconsin.  But when I go down to Madison, the capitol, you would be amazed at the powerful hostility, just from where a Christian t-shirt or mentioning the name of Jesus.  

This physical world, the one you're seeing with your eyes at this very moment will not exist for long.  It will slip, slowly, and then quickly, into utter darkness.  The anti-Christ will come, the tribulation will occur, sometime after the tribulation the church may be raptured.  But we will be protected during the tribulation. Scripture says those who are sealed, with the name of God on their forehead will not be harmed by the plagues and destruction.  

And imagine the possibilities.  Imagine the chances at evangelism in the end times.  So many lost souls, seeking answers.  

Jesus Christ left his peace with us.  Let us receive it today, at this moment.  Be in all joy, our savior lives.  He lives in heaven at this very moment, and he dwells within each of his children.  You are secure in the Lord Jesus.  Your salvation is assured, keep the faith til the end.  Place your faith in the Lord Jesus regarding salvation, and also work with the Holy spirit on the mission of sanctification.  Don't torture yourself, but truly continue to work with the Spirit on becoming a bit better person, everyday.  This is not to gain the love of God.  You already have it, to the max.  This is simply to obey, and to be conformed to the image of Christ.  

Easy does it.  Be gentle with yourself. 

I'm not always gentle with myself.  It's been a struggle since I've been on this mission to become a better person with the help of God.  I want to make the maximum impact for my Father.  I want him to be pleased with me.  

A big part of that has been attending support groups.  If you think you might need some help for some big sins in your life, join a support group (sex, drugs, alcohol, food, depression, etc).  Or join a small group at your church, or get some Christian counseling from a non-shaming/condemning counselor/pastor.  That's something I did early on.  God lead me directly to some books to read for my various issues as well.

Let me take a minute to recommend some:

Pain and Pretending - Minirth Meier Clinic  -  Read this one if you dealt with divorce, or serious family problems, emotional or sexual abuse early in life.

Love is a Choice - Minirth Meier Clinic - If you have trouble with healthy relationships, you get too attached, read this one.  It's on healing from codependency.  It seriously helped me so much, I was able to break from some very unhealthy relationships with family and friends.

Victory over the Darkness by Neil Anderson - This is a great book if you have an inner voice that tends to shame and condemn you constantly.  This is also great if you hear actual voices.  I had a friend who got rid of them by reading some Neil Anderson books.

The Lies We Believe - Minirth Meier Clinic - What lies are you believing?  Don't underestimate Satan's ability to mess with your beliefs and ideas about the world around you.

Worry Free Living - Minirth Meier Clinic - Certainly helped quite a bit with anxiety and worrying issues in my life.

The Shame that Binds by John Bradshaw - This one dabbles a bit into secular psychology, but leaves the door open for spirituality.  It's certainly quite helpful regarding shame.  Did your parents shame you a lot when you did something wrong?  Is shame now your constant companion?  For me, definitely, so it's been helpful in that regard.

Please Let Me know You God by Minirth Meier Clinic - This is one I'm reading right now.  It's about having a Biblically correct conception of God.  So amazing so far.  It talks about four dimensions of understanding of God.  Intellectual, symbolic, spiritual, and emotional, and how to get those straightened out.  

Freedom from Depression Workbook - Minirth Meier Clinic - This one I'm also currently going through.  It's been incredibly helpful regarding my depression.  I'm amazed.  

Depression is an ugly thing.  It's something that has plagued me for the past 15 months.  It's something I wrestle with day and night.  It's just not so much fun..  So I figured it was time to tackle the problem.  Or at least make an attempt on those gates.  I picked up the "Freedom from Depression" workbook.  

Tonight I was reading it, writing in answers, and it came to a part where it said.. Much of the cause of depression relates to series of events that produce a pattern of negative results, leading to an utter assertion that things can never get better.

It was at that point that a sudden anger filled my head and I threw the book at the wall.  I don't normally do that.  But it definitely hit a tender spot.  As the rage filled my heart, and I also remembered that the previous chapter had been on depression often being as a result of anger turned inward...  So true, so true.  

My particular rage was in response to a series of unfortunate failures of will power, as well as tragic circumstances outside my control.  

And yes, a strong strong feeling that justice was not being done.  It just wasn't fair.  Why did my family have to collapse?  I was so angry with my dad, yet why did I have to be so sad when it was the right thing that they split?  And why did I have to bury all the anger and sadness about it within myself?  It nearly destroyed me.  I never discovered a bit of the problem until the final night of my old life.  The night I died to the world.  When I screamed out within, on my knees, Jesus, please save me.  And that call echoed to the very throne of God himself.  It truly did.  I could feel it, and hear it, echo within me.  A true, and desperate call.  And unconditional admission, Jesus, I need you, all I have is neediness to offer, please, save me. 

We all need Jesus.  We really really do.  Even when we don't know it.  Even when that isn't our worldview.  Even when we want to do it on our own.

I wanted to do it on my own.  I didn't understand the powerful significance of Christ.  I paid a mighty price.  

But He paid the mightier price.  The price of my eternal life.

I will never find pretty enough words to convince people who want to believe a lie.  But you believe the truth, so be of good cheer. 

I Peter 1:8. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an expressible and glorious joy.

Perfect evidence, perfect beauty, there is no way to convince someone who cannot receive it.  They are blind.  I was blind.  I know.  It's like having a clear wall between you and the truth, you can see it, but you can't believe it.  

2 Corinthians 11:30-31 (NLT) If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am. 31 God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, who is worthy of eternal praise, knows I am not lying.

There are a million reasons to walk away from the cross of Jesus Christ.  Just like there are a million reasons for me to relapse and die.  Even if there weren't, I could make some up.  I can justify anything in my mind,  I can believe the biggest lie in the universe.  I can believe the universe is the lie.  

God doesn't cut into my free will.  And ironically the things that I thought I was free to do become the things I have to do.  All up in chains I put on myself, out of curiousity and utter foolishness.  But we are no longer in chains.  Jesus Christ has set us free.  We don't believe lies, but we believe the truth.  By grace, we do this.

Psalm 107:10-14 ESV Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons, for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High. So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart.

Why is eternal life associated with the image of a butterfly? 

Some curiosities are best left unexplored.  Imagine if the Lord hadn't found me in my delusion.  Imagine if he hadn't sent his butterfly symbols into my stories years ago, to foreshadow his coming move to my heart, influencing me to call on the name of Jesus Christ...

I cannot imagine.  But it reminds me to be thankful, to be utterly grateful.  I want to remind you to be grateful to the Lord for what he has given you.  

I feel bad for the young people, they know not what utter foolish they run into.  They don't know what a liar and a pervert their hearts are.  There is no way to explain it to them either.  They can just as well say I'm trying to rob them of a good time.  

And I am unable to take on the responsibility of changing the indoctrination methods of public schools.  I simply cannot.  Not alone.  Those are strongholds worth breaking.  We must start taking some of these strongholds, my brothers and sisters.  Evolution taught in school.  Why can't we take this stronghold?

The evils of the music industry, why can't we take this stronghold?  

And what about the awful stronghold of legalized abortion?  Why can't we take this stronghold?

The answer is, we can.  We most certainly can.  Believe in God.  Trust in him.  We can do it, together.  The united body of Christ.  We have the numbers, the forces, step out in faith and take action.  Trust in God to guide your steps, as you take on these mighty giants.  God is faithful.  If it is of him, he will be with you every step of the way.

2 Corinthians 10:4 "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds." 

We have the power.  Our God is all powerful.  We have the Bible.  Trust our Father my family of Christians.  Trust him every step of the way.  And stay in constant prayer, prayer is how we communicate with God.  What could be more important in a relationship than communication?  Well, trust ;)  But communication is vital as well.

I'd like to leave you with an illustration from a wonderful book by a Christian brother.

There is a scene from The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis, that I just love. There's this woman and shes in heaven, and she lived a life of sharing the gospel and just being kind and loving. So as she walks about heaven there is a personal entourage around her. Angels singing, a parade of images of people she loved, birds and animals she cared for trotting around, beautiful violins and trumpets are being sounded as she walks about the heavenly realm. And in the book there is a bus that the people from hell take to come and see if they can accept heaven. The woman's husband approaches her, all upset, hes dwarf sized, kind of half faded, and will only speak through a shady torso he has chained to himself. She tells him how much she loves him, and offers to help him walk into heaven.  He yells at her, for always complaining at him, and never having enough time for him.  He argues with her.  And he gets so mad he just gets back on the bus back to hell. 

Remember, we all have a choice in this.  As heart breaking as it is to see someone choose hell, choose stubborn resistance to the loving heart of God day in and day out, it is inevitably their choice.  Not yours.  Sometimes we have to let them go.  And remember, the treasures and gatherings of your wise choices and loving relationships will echo in the realms of heaven, at the tree of life in the new city, for all eternity.  Live for that eternity.  Labor day and night for those rewards.  They will never perish.  Those deeds will never be forgotten.  The lies of the world are persistent, but the truth shines through, every time.  Have Faith in our Lord Jesus and his power.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Loving hand of God the Father be working in and about and on your life today and everyday ahead, to eternal life, come daybreak.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Internet Evangelism


Guess what modern Christianity?

We've got a big problem. 

We're losing the battle of ideas in the United States.

I know, it's a bummer.  Our culture is becoming increasingly hostile to the message of Jesus Christ.  There are things we can do to change this grim fact.  I'd like to propose just such ideas, to provide for a powerful swing in the climate of thoughts and ideas in our Western culture.

In any climate of ideas, the primary transmission of ideas and mentality itself must be examined.  In our case, we're looking at media.

What are the primary media transmitters?  Well old-timers, it's not word of mouth.  It's not the newspaper either.  The primary media transmitters are:

Cable Television News - Fox, NBC, CNN, MSNBC
Cable Television - Discovery Channel, MTV, VH1, History Channel, etc
Local Television News
Print Newspapers/Magazines - Time Magazine, Boston Globe, Seventeen
Internet News
Internet Social Media - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
Internet Videos -Youtube

I will be referring to these transmitters, primarily in Cable television, Magazines/newspaper news, reality tv, music, and celebrity gossip as well as certain high profile internet websites as "The Mainstream Media." 

Assuming that the media transmitters are pro-Christian or at least neutral, then we've got a climate of ideas that supports the propagation of the Gospel.  Unfortunately we have a mainstream media that is generally working in direct opposition to Christian values.

Consider the views that permeate our culture.  Cultural lies, you could call them.  Some examples:

Churches just want your money.

The Pastor has an agenda.

Science has disproved God.

Evolution is a fact and adequately defines reality.

Religion causes incredible suffering in the world.

Religion leads to war.

"I'm spiritual, not religious."

Church is boring.

Church is irrelevant.

The church caused the dark ages.

The crusades were Christians attacking Muslims.

Universities have survived despite the church.

Christianity has done very little good in the world.

These are just some of the many lies that permeate our culture.  I'm sure you could create a list of your own, of just some of the generalizations that are mentioned in table talk, local news, national news, and the internet.

Nothing is so dangerous to the truth as the generalizations prevalent at a cultures' kitchen tables.  

Think about it.  How do the national news networks portray Christianity?  The Bible?  Creationism in general?

I tend to see coverage of Westboro Baptist Church and their signs that say "God hates fags" and so on and so forth.

When is the last time you saw coverage of something positive Christians are doing?  Inevitably, and I've seen this many a time, a Pastor will be on national news and the issue of homosexuality will inevitably come up.

Mark Driscoll calls it the media's litmus test.  They pin you to the wall with that question, if you say you don't agree with homosexuality you're intolerant.  The mainstream viewership is going to write you off, and you've lost a chance to bring the Gospel message.  If you say nothing, or try to avoid the question fundamental Christianity is going to call you out on it, and you're in trouble with mainline American Christians.  Either way it's futile.

With the church of middle America in decline, and middle America in general vanishing quickly due to economic turmoil, the strength and vitality of Christianity is in trouble.  We saw an incredible decline in Christianity across much of Europe during the past fifty years.  I don't want that to be the United States next.  

I recall recently I was watching a debate between Christian apologist William Lane Craig and Atheist Sam Harris.  What caught my attention was at the beginning the moderator was listing off the accomplishments of both men respectively.  Craig had many books and papers and such under his belt, but when it came to Sam Harris one by one every major news network was listed off, major magazines, for carrying his articles and ideas, and it became clear at that moment: Something isn't right here.  Another example would be Ravi Zacharias.  Consider how this incredible apologist one of the great men of our time has traveled the globe, speaking to the United Nations, at top colleges like Princeton, Yale, and Harvard.  And then consider how many times he has been interviewed on national news.  Almost never. 

Possibly the worst tyranny of the mainstream media is that Christianity, Christian missions, Christian stories, they just aren't mentioned at all.  Like Ravi Zacharias and William Lane Craig, great leaders are never mentioned or recognized.  The blessing of that is as Christians we aren't seeking recognition from the world, but the curse is that a whole generation of young people today are unreached in our culture.  The entire topic of Jesus Christ is deleted from the public mind, and it simply isn't discussed, and if it is, it's to bash it and condemn religion as evil and backwards.

I have experienced first hand the hostility toward the message of the gospel, not just viewing the exclusion of it in the media, but the effects of that exclusion on middle America, and working class America, and the climate of ideas in general.

While Christianity is not mentioned, or at best misrepresented by prosperity gospel televangelists, depravity is on fire in the modern culture.  If you aren't noticing this, if this isn't bothering you, or setting off alarms, pray for some discernment.  This is a serious issue.  Where do I even start on this topic?

Miley Cyrus, twerking.  The power of the NFL and the Superbowl.  Commercials, constantly playing on our sin nature.  Temptation, temptation, temptation.  It's ugly out there.  Watch a few music videos.  Or a few movies.

I'm done illustrating the issue.  Let's say it's been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, too much depravity, the media is deliberately shying away from Christianity.  Is this a vast conspiracy?  Probably not.  But Christianity doesn't sell.  Guess what does?  Depravity.  Indulgence.  Excess.  Rebellion in general.  I want what I want, and I want it yesterday.

This is our biggest problem.  Millions and millions of people are sucked into this mini culture within the television screen, internet, and cell phone.  Young people are raised on evolution and then transitioned into a money/materialistic society.  This was a suffocating atmosphere for me, and I know it is for them.  I escaped it, by the grace of God.  But will they?

Endless amounts of people built into entertainment addicted atheists.  This is the issue Christianity doesn't want to face.  It's too ugly.  But we have to face it.

Unfortunately there isn't a lot we can do about the television screen.  The gates are locked there, and starting our own television stations hasn't always worked out the best in the past.  But it's certainly a long term goal, to retake the television news, and networks, somehow.


Problem: The mainstream media endlessly hides the Gospel and misrepresents it, while actively promoting depravity.

Solution: The internet can be used as a method of evangelism for altering the climate of ideas in Western culture to return to Christian morals and truth.

The internet is an incredible tool for social change.  The internet has really become the new public square of our time, in many ways, via social media.  That role seems to be growing, as the internet has finally given so many groups and individuals a voice.  This is where ideas grow and take off.  The technology is not evil, or wrong.  It's just the latest medium for the transmission of ideas.  We can suit up and keep our message relevant by getting into these realms and expressing the truth of Christianity.

Let me be clear, this does not replace in-person relational evangelism.  But maybe while all the evangelical extroverts are out there holding twelve conversations at once with six different people, all leading them to the Gospel, perhaps we introverts can take advantage of our talents, creativity, art, writing, and interpreting truth, and apply them to evangelism in the realm of the internet.

Now I've got your attention.

The Goals:
1.Change the climate of ideas in Western Culture.
2. Share the Gospel through the medium of the Internet.
3. Use our creative talents to provide some "air support" for the evangelicals extroverts on the "frontlines."

Desired Results:
1. A less hostile culture being confronted with the truth of Christianity
2. The rise of a new great awakening in Western society
3. Doing our part in taking the Gospel to all nations through the power of the internet.

I hope you understand, we are engaged in a Spiritual war.  The Bible makes that very clear.  If the relational extroverts engaged in the various forms of in-person evangelism are the ground troops, the churches must be the tanks, artillery, and ground leadership.  If churches and individual Christians are our ground forces, I suppose one could say missionaries and international organizations are like our Navy, taking the Gospel to all the nations.

However, in World War II what was possibly the most important asset for the Allies against the evil Nazis and Japanese?  Superior Air Forces.  Air Forces won the battle of Britain.  The Allies had air superiority as they reconquered Europe from the Nazis. We can provide that Air Support in the Spiritual war of truth going on in the World today.

Have you ever heard of the B-17 Bomber, nicknamed the Flying Fortress?  They were powerful bombers used to incredible effect in World War II and after. 

I propose that we, as Evangelical Jesus Loving Christians, must become B-17 Bombers in this spiritual conflict.  How can we do that?

Churches and organizations are not always too thrilled about Christians working as lonewolfs.  But as introverts we're good at that.  We don't like sitting down for in your face meetings time and again.  We prefer to read, and study, and learn by observing.  Those are powerful assets.  If you love the internet like I love the internet, you can become a B-17 Flying Fortress for the Gospel truth.

The method is Internet Evangelism.  And it takes serious dedication.  It means spending more time in your Bible and study books than messing around on Google or Facebook.  There are many great training programs and classes out there, but often we end up training ourselves.  But we have the tools, like say, the library.  Or the many high quality Bible study websites like and 

You would be amazed at how effectively the Internet has been used in political campaigns, as well as for grassroots organizations, altruistic causes, and spiritual growth.  Libertarians and members of the Occupy movement, as well as Democrats, Republicans, and so on have made use of the internet to organize meet up groups, gather funds, and promote ideas.  Day in and day out activists work posting picture after picture with political messages on them on Facebook; Tweet after tweet on Twitter with links and quotes and brilliant one-liners.  Activists build video presentations and upload them to Youtube hoping they'll go viral.  If you recall last year this was done with a video calling on people to stand against Joseph Kony.  Whatever your opinion about those various groups and their values, the point is the internet has been used to spread ideas and beliefs to great effect, without large amounts of money, but with a lot of hard work by average people.  Perhaps one of the scarier developments in the power of the internet for change is the broad, all inclusive new age mysticism movement's explosion in popularity via social media, and of course, Oprah.  The New Agers are out there day and night starting websites and posting to Facebook and Twitter about auras, astrology, channeling, telepathy, and world consciousness paradigm shifting.

We as Christians have to meet this powerful and growing lies with truth, truth, and more truth.  A man once said, facts are stubborn things.  Believe it or not, all the facts support Christianity and they support the philosophy of Jesus Christ.

So let's do this! 

Here is the plan, as I see it, my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Be Armed with the Truth: Be constantly growing in communion with God.  Prayer, prayer, prayer.  And Bible study, know your Bible really well.  Perhaps just as important is knowing the intellectual defenses for Christianity.  Research apologetics, and the arguments of greats like Ravi Zacharias, Francis Schaefer, William Lane Craig, Frank Turek, and Lee Strobel.  That is the key to this, grow, grow, grow! Learn, learn, learn!  Get better and better at what you're doing.  People raised on science, logic, and evolution are going to want some reasoning, history, and science behind belief in God.  That's great, let's give it to them.  But after reaching that point, it's all about the Word of God.  The Bible has the power to inspire, and change hearts and minds.  So does prayer, so pray for those you speak with.

A B-17 Flying Fortress is just a sport plane out for a joy ride unless it's armed and ready.  However, do not wait until you know everything about everything.  Start now, and learn as you go.

Post, post, post:  Here is the key.  Spread the Gospel truth, spread Bible verses, Spread apologetics, spread the morals and love within Christianity.

Post on Facebook.
Post on Twitter.
Post on Reddit.
Post on Craigslist.
Post on LinkedIn.

Constantly throughout a single day be posting Bible verses, or Pictures, or Video sermon links from YouTube.  Two to Four times a day, be posting something Bible/Jesus related.

Be Creative: There are constantly new social networks starting up, new websites, and possibilities with email, or with building your own website or blog.  You have incredible ideas in your head that I haven't thought of, ideas that take time and effort, but can bring about incredible opportunities for revival in our time.  Get energized, and get excited.

Start a Blog or a Website: It takes some dedication and effort, but if you love writing and journaling on the Bible consider starting a Blog or a Website.  Believe me, incredible things can happen.  I started this blog just under a year ago to simply journal about my spiritual journey in Christianity, and since then I've had just over 17,500 views from over 50 countries.  Countries like Japan, China, the Philippines, Nigeria, the United Kingdom, France, the Ukraine, Turkey, Russia, Poland, and the Czech republic.  Consider the steep cost of sending even a few missionaries to foreign countries, and consider the impact you could have just by writing in your spare time on the internet!  This is for real, pray on this, and try it.  Let God use you to his glory.

The B-17 Fortress had turrets and gun slots at angles facing the back and the front and the bottom and the top.  In the same way we must consider all possibilities and approach in sharing the truth from multiple angles.

Pray Forcefully: This is something introverts are good at.  Prayer and meditation.  Let's direct our efforts of prayer to the national and international stage.  Or start an online prayer group on Facebook.  Gather friends together at your home for prayer or Bible study.  Make the choice today to make a difference in this spiritual conflict.

Pray for Revival.
Pray for Political Leaders.
Pray for Churches.
Pray for Atheists.
Pray for Agnostics.
Pray for Scientists.
Pray for those on College Campuses.
Pray for a new Great Awakening.
Pray for Celebrities.
Pray for teenagers in public schools.

Constantly be on patrol as a Fortress of prayer and intercession.

Establishing Relationships: Yes, relationships do happen on the internet.  Friendships do happen.  I have spent much time in conversations with people I'll never meet from around the globe.  I love it.  Just as in person evangelism, we can establish relationships with non-believers, and share the Gospel with them.  And just as in person, we can be focused on being polite and compassionate, and loving.

That is a point I want to stress.  On the internet it's very easy to get into mindless, endless arguments and fights over foolishness.  The goal in this is not to win the debate with someone you don't know, but to lovingly politely share truth with them, and establish a friendship.  You will, absolutely will come against insults, and very mean, awful comments back to you, much more so than in face to face discussions.  So be it.  Block the person, move on to the next.

 Form Groups: On Facebook and other websites there are options to start groups and pages to gather like-minded folk together.  I myself am a member of many Christian groups on Facebook, as well as apologetic defense of the faith groups.  This is useful for gathering and unifying efforts with other believers.  Eventually the goal would be to establish organizations and missions to continue to push for Christian truth in the public realm of thought.  Remember, use your unique strengths. Flying Fortresses are ineffective unless they work in large groups, flying in formation. 

Under the Authority of God: Since we don't report to any particular church or organization, we are under the direct Authority of God, specifically Jesus Christ.  Because there is no one to get in our face if we're doing it wrong, we'll need to constantly be in prayer, and checking our words and actions by the timeless truth of the Bible, scripture.  This is extremely important, because a few mean spirited rebukers can cause a lot of damage on social media for the cause of Christianity.  When in doubt, be loving, compassionate, and very forgiving.

B-17s have the entire trip to the target and back to make decisions, but at the end of the day the authority is the Commander of the air group.

Dominate Social Media:The goal eventually is to have people constantly posting scripture, encouraging quotes, Christian pictures, Christian blogs, Bible websites, and video sermons all over social media.  The idea is to plug into the realm of ideas and debate, and interject constantly with Christian hope, Christian truth, and Christian love.

Build your social media presence, and share daily, at least 2-4 posts a day sharing Christian pictures or just copy-pasting Bible verses.  If you're doing it right you'll come against militant atheists, agnostics a-plenty as well as people with genuine interest.  This is great for local friends and family as well, because you are indirectly inviting people to your church by posting links to your church website and making updates about how great service was.

There are a lot of Christians already doing this on social media.  There are tons of great websites, like God Tube, and Christian social networks.  But I've gotta believe we can do much better.

With superior air forces, and the work of troops and tanks on the ground, as well as naval forces at sea, the Allies pushed Hitler's Nazis across Europe, defeating the enemy and occupying her territories.  The Japanese were driven back island by island, until they surrendered.  Maybe in the past 25 years in America, Christianity got hit with a Pearl Harbor surprise assault of evil.  As Mark Driscoll put it "Christianity in the United States has passed through a wormhole."  Evil and depravity of all kind has overrun our country, our culture, and we've got to take it back.  

Let's build a new revival, a new Great Awakening in the West.  

Let's do our part, introverts and extroverts alike.  Be a Flying Fortress in this Spiritual war.  Be an autonomous Christ-powered message of truth in the realm of public thought, via the Internet.  Our weapons are love, truth, and forgiveness.  Our weapon is the word of God.  Our defense is the truth of apologetics, in the realm of ideas.

God bless you all in your mission, and take heart, He has overcome the world!

Matthew 22:16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

John 8:31-32 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 17:8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.  -Jesus Christ