Sunday, May 29, 2016

Comprehending the Truth about America: Presentations on the Censored Truth


If your like me, you've just got to know the truth.  There's something inside you that yearns insatiably for it. Perhaps it is the splinter in the mind Morpheus described to Neo in the Matrix movies.  Something aches in our hearts when we watch Fox News or CNN.  Something beneath the surface twists when we watch the political spin and false narratives.  Something inside cries out: It's the desire to know the truth.

Most any average idiot on the streets is clueless as to what is really going on in this country.  Why?  The mainstream media.  They very effectively perpetrate a false narrative of "progress" and "everything is fine, nothing to see here!"  They carefully censor the truth.  Hollywood pushes the narrative forward as well.  And quite thoroughly, the United States public school system instructs en masse, a revised and edited history of life that has edited out Christianity, edited out certain key facts, and endeavored to portray America as evil and our founders as average joe corrupt dirt bags.  

I knew something was off, my whole life.  I honestly did.  It drove me crazy in school, junior high, high school and on into college.  I imagine much the same happened for you?  Something inside your mind told you something was wrong.  Though the modernity mindset pushed on you in society sold you the idea that everything was basically good and OK, something pulled at your mind.  So you started researching, probably on the internet.  Before that, we were really hopelessly screwed.  The splinter in the mind was thorough before the web and the more the television played, the more acute the splinter became.

Thankfully we have the internet now.  And many of us started researching.  We started to learn about the truth behind the body guard of lies.  But many of us still don't fully understand the reality of what is happening in the United States.  There isn't anything wrong with that.  Some of us focus more so on different areas of study in our search for truth.  We all have different interests, and different desires for knowledge.  Nothing wrong with that!

For me, I dug deep into the political situation.  I wanted to understand that area and I dug into the meaning of life question as well.  Those were my areas of deepest desire for knowledge.  I found out a great deal.  So I'd like to share some presentations, videos of some great minds who can fill you in on certain spheres of truth.  These questions and answers are quite expansive, so we often have to find individuals in various fields, and with various skills to share from varying perspectives.  The perspectives overlap in places, like spheres meshing with other spheres to provide worldview-level truth.  

I hope these presentations will help enlighten you as to the truth of America in the political, cultural, and religious realms.  Enjoy.

1. Dr. D. James Kennedy - The Culture War in America



2. Alan Keyes on God-Ordained Natural Marriage



3. Ben Shapiro on Politics on the American Campus



4. Francis Schaeffer - The Watershed of the Evangelical World



5. Frank Turek - Why Christians Should Be Involved in Politics



6. Os Guinness - Challenging the Darkness: Towards a New Christian Renaissance



7. Dr. Del Tackett- The Truth Project & Christian Education



8. Dr. D. James Kennedy - George Washington the Christian

 

9. The State of the World



10. Ben Stein - Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed Documentary

 

Additional Recommended YouTube Videos:
  1. The Real Story of What is Happening in Washington by Ted Cruz
  2. Mark Levin on the Establishment
  3. Dinesh D'Souza on the Political System
  4. Ted Cruz on the Washington Cartel vs. the American People
  5. Ben Carson Speech at Prayer Breakfast
  6. Frank Turek Correct Not Politically Correct

Related Posts:
  1. Authoritarianism toward Christians in the name of Gay Rights
  2. A Movement of Millennials: The last hope of Western Civilization
  3. Take a Stand Like Daniel: Being a counter-culture Warrior
  4. Religious Liberty: The Great Struggle of our Time
  5. The War on Principles & the Hope in our Worldview 
  6. A Three-Fold Battle Plan to Redeem Western Civilization
  7. Five Political Presentations that will Change your Worldview
  8. The Great Pillars of Society: Morality & Religion
  9. The Illusions of Modern Society and the Gospel 
  10. An Appeal to Heaven: The Movement 

Be a Powerhouse Christian Battleship

The story is told of Sherlock Holmes and his trusted colleague Watson. Holmes and Watson were out camping, sleeping, later that night Holmes woke up Watson. And Holmes asked him,”Watson, look up, what do you see?”

Watson looked up and replied,”I see stars and stars and more stars.”

And What does that tell you Watson?”

Watson thought for a moment.

"Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets."
"Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo."
"Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three."
"Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful and that we are small and insignificant."
"Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow."
"What does it tell you, Holmes?"

Holmes glared back at him and replied: "Watson, you idiot. Someone has stolen our tent!"

Today we’re looking at apologetics and sharing the gospel, but sometimes we can end up discussing all these in depth topics and fail to realize what the issue at hand really is.

As Christians we exist between worlds. We’re destined for the eternal city, yet still living on the chaotic Earth. In the world, but not of the world. We’re surrounded by evil, by a troubled world. Yet we carry within us the life of Christ. We carry the cure to death itself.

Here on Earth, it seems to be getting worse everyday. In fact today even the most self evident facts are in question. Today people don’t even know which bathroom to use. It’s true.

Maybe we’ve forgotten the fact that we are engaged in a spiritual war against a deadly foe. That foe is Satan. And in the history of our United States we have royally pissed off Satan quite a few times, founding a Christian nation, setting slaves at liberty, and defeating tyrants like Hitler. Obviously the enemy’s number one target must be the USA.

Because frankly, there is nowhere else to go. If we lose our freedom here, we have nowhere else to flee to. This is it. Ultimately on the nation stage, it’s not really left vs. right, or big business vs. the people, or banks vs. the working class or government vs. the people. It’s really a spiritual battle, Satan’s kingdom vs. the body of Christ. We must always be aware of that and thus always be ready to fight that battle. Around us we see people, buildings, grassy fields, lakes, rivers, houses, businesses, but beneath that surface unseen is a spiritual battle raging for the souls of mankind.


 

See in the photo? What movie is this from? That’s right, Lord of the Rings. It was when Gandalf stood against the terrible balrog. He stood and turned to face the menace, coming after his friends. Why? Because he could. He knew he was the only one who could face the balrog, with it’s dark powers. In the same way, we as Christians are the only ones truly aware of the spiritual battle. And we are the only ones with the tools of the Spirit to take on the balrog, the dark forces destroying our country and menacing our young people.
 

Let’s talk about young people.  Young people, especially my generation, have been led astray. I’ve watched my generation obliterated by alcoholism, addiction, pornography, sex trafficking, abortion, on and on the list goes. 

What happened? Slowly our nation is being transformed from one nation under God, to a nation gone under. The Bible was forced from public schools, evolution teaching was thrust upon an entire generation. Values and ethics were no longer taught, because increasingly people believed that man was basically good, and simply needed to be liberated from the chains of church & God. My generation was born into a world where the 1960s radicals had transformed a Christian nation into a secular empire. The prevailing ideas have not led to a greater prosperity, but have led to the confusion & destruction of young people.

When I was a young guy, in my early twenties I asked the question probably many young people ask: So a guy died on a cross two thousand years ago, who cares? Why does this matter? Why should it change my life?

We’re called to “share the gospel.” In the past, it was simple, because nearly everyone was raised in a church of some kind. Ministers and evangelists could pull out the Bible, and show people what it said. The Bible was once a primary cornerstone of American culture.

Today it’s quite different. My generation, millennials are increasingly unchurched. Many of them were not raised in churches, and many more are simply uninterested n the spiritual. They tend to believe that society has moved past the need for “religious views.” They tend to hold a lot of skepticism and hostility toward Christianity and the Bible. So how do we reach young people with the message?

Let’s talk about apologetics.
 

Apologetics are reasonable defenses of the Christian faith. The root word for apologetic is in the Greek “apologia” which means “to give an answer.” The most notable use of the apologetic is done by the Apostle Paul at Mars Hill. When Paul spoke to the gentiles at mars hill he did not refer to the scriptures, but instead gave a defense of Christianity. (Acts 17:22-31)

To make use of apologetics is to give reasons and evidence for why God exists and why Jesus is a true, living savior. 


"If Christians could be trained to to provide solid evidence for what they believe and good answers to unbelievers’ questions and objections, then the perception of Christians would slowly change. Christians would be seen as thoughtful people to be taken seriously rather than as emotional fanatics or buffoons. The gospel would be a real alternative for people to embrace."
–William Lane Craig, On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision, p. 18


Let’s look at some quotations.

Apologetics Moment

“If the universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we could never have come into existence. It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was created for man to live in.” –Robert Jastrow, agnostic astronomer, author of God and the Astronomers

“An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.” –Francis Crick, biochemist and spiritual skeptic, shared the Nobel Prize for discovering the molecular structure of DNA

“There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all....It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature's numbers to make the universe....The impression of design is overwhelming.” –Paul Davies, an internationally known British astrophysicist and author

"Donald Page of Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Science calculated the odds against our universe randomly taking a form suitable for life as one in: 10,000,000,000124. One in ten billion to the 124th power! This is a number so large, it is safe to say that the universe did not come together randomly. It was created by an incredibly intelligent and powerful designer." –Charlie H. Campbell


These quotes are a form of evidence called “expert testimony.” We hear from experts in various fields, and their testimony lends credence to the Christian worldview.

Next let’s look at a quick reasoning process through several disciplines.


Veritology, what is truth?  We have to start off with the idea that objective truth exists.  You'll hear this one a lot in pop philosophy and the culture:  "All truth is relative bro."  In response simply ask them,"Is that true?"  That's called the road runner tactic, their bogus philosophy violates it's own conditions. Absolute truth exists. We live that way, even if we want to play at the idea that it's relative, we don't live that way when it comes to history or our bank account or the laws of our country.  Those are all fixed truths.  

Second, does God exist?  Everything that begins to exist has a cause.  The universe began to exist (big bang).  Therefore the universe has a cause.  The cause must be outside the system, timeless, space-less and eternal, all powerful, and therefore God exists, because God is the only being who can meet those conditions.

Third, are miracles impossible?  Naturalists, evolutionists say "no."  But if God exists, and he can make the universe from nothing, then the miraculous is possible.  If God really made the universe from nothing with special ability, then smaller adjustment to the system are simple.

Fourth, the NT is historically reliable.  Yes it is, given excellent manuscript evidence, correlation with archeological discoveries, and known historical events.  There are about 5,686 ancient manuscripts of the New Testament, all matching one another; in historical terms, such evidence is unmatched, it's unheard of, a revelation, a divine fingerprint on history itself!  Has it been changed over time?  When comparing our modern Bible with the recently discovered Dead Sea Scrolls, which sat untouched for 2,000 years, they matched perfectly.  Therefore by all available accounts the NT is accurate. 

Lastly, Jesus has risen from the dead.  The twelve disciples, save John, died proclaiming Jesus Christ as risen.  The Romans and Jews never produced a body to disprove the early Christian movement.  And finally, a small movement in the midst of hostility broke out to become the world's number one religion.  Given the data, Jesus rose from the dead.

So if Jesus really did rise from the dead, that means he’s really God come to Earth, every word he spoke is true, he is God, and I must respond in faith, in worship, in praise, in adoration and allegiance to my savior.
 

One of my favorite Christian apologists always says, “Apologetics are the appetizer, but the gospel is the main course.” Apologetics help the young understand that Christianity is true, even in a modern world. But once your there, then comes the vital living gospel.
Jesus Christ of Nazareth

 

So let’s talk about this guy who died on the cross, and why we believe it matters. Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem was God himself, born into human history. Thankfully they didn’t have abortion back then, because we might’ve missed the son of God. Why Jesus matters is because he is not just a man, he is literally God come in person. Can your mind comprehend the expansiveness of that fact? The God who made this entire planet from nothing, the God who designed the laws of science, of logic, and mathematics, your body and mine, came into human history.

This matters greatly, because He was God. And he lived. He humbled himself. In fact he was tempted in every way we are, every terrible urge we feel at times, he felt, and he successfully resisted.

Jesus of Nazareth grew up, hung out with his brothers, and eventually as he got older he became a carpenter. He knew his whole life what he was destined to do, but he had to wait. Just like us, he had to learn patience.

Then Jesus, around age 30 theologians believe, began his mission. Jesus began performing “miracles.” He healed basic medical conditions, people who were blind, he helped people who couldn’t see. He healed people with other conditions and ailments as well.

This is where we start to get skeptical, but remember, Jesus is well established as a historical figure, like George Washington or Napoleon or Winston Churchill, Jesus Christ most certainly did exist. He gathered disciples around him, twelve of them. And he trained them to carry his message: And his message was this: God has come into human history to redeem his people, and to set them free.

So we must also understand the problem. Guess what the problem is? The problem is you and me. The problem is sin. One of the fundamentals in understanding the saga of Christ is understanding our own brokenness.

So Jesus, Immanuel, came, he lived. One of his twelve disciples, Judas betrayed Jesus. Judas got 30 silver coins for it. Jesus was then dragged before the Jewish rulers, whipped, beaten, dragged before the Roman occupiers of that region, scourged, and forced to carry a rough wooden cross. Then he was slammed down onto the cross, rusty nails were driven through his hands, and his feet. Then the cross was lifted, and forced into a hole in the ground.

Then people would stand around the cross, and laugh at him. They would mock him. Spit on him. Urinate on him. It would take the person nailed to the cross hours to die, sometimes days. See, being nailed to the cross made it hard to breath, but they could use their muscles to force themselves up on the cross to get air, so depending on how weak they were, they would eventually die of suffocation.

This death that Jesus went through for us, of his own free will, was set as an offering for us. Jesus endured what was meant for us. The truth of the matter is that each of us deserve to be cast away from God. Because we’ve done terrible things. We’ve sinned against God, time and again. We deserve to endure what Jesus endured.

But at this moment, as all the forces of evil gathered around Jesus on earth, to slaughter him, Jesus instead of answering back, instead prayed for those before him saying, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.”

While Jesus was on the cross, slowly dying, from 12 noon until 3pm it went completely dark. For 3 hours. What was happening spiritually during those 3 hours? Hard to say. Perhaps this was the moment when the presence of God left Christ utterly alone.

None of us have ever experienced this, even the most ardent atheist lives in the sovereign grace of God everyday, feeding them, helping them, keeping them alive and well. Everyone in this world lives in a temporary state of grace.

This 3 hour period of darkness was recorded outside the Bible by a Roman historian of that period named Thallus. He attempted to try to explain the darkness away as perhaps a solar eclipse. But scientists looking back to that period of time noted that no eclipses occurred in the solar or lunar calendar during that time period.

A Greek historian of the same period, Phlegon also recorded an event of total darkness, with an accompanying Earth quake, occurring in 33 AD. He recorded that it became so dark they could see the stars over Nicaea, and buildings were toppled in Bithynia. Amazing evidence.

After the three hours of darkness, Jesus cried out as God turned his presence away from him saying: “Father, father why have you forsaken me?”

In Matthew 27 it is recorded that Jesus cried out one last time, probably an awful scream of agony and sadness, before he “gave up his spirit” verse 50. And verse 51 says, “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split. And the tombs were opened.” See the temple veil had always separated God from the people. The veil being torn showed that God had removed the separation between himself and His people.

So Jesus died. And if that was the end of it, we could dismiss the events easily enough. We could compare Jesus to Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi, John F. Kennedy and other great leaders who have been killed by this evil world. But then something happened that changed everything.

Jesus resurrected from the dead. He showed himself to his disciples. He showed himself to his mother, and to Mary Magdalene. He came to Thomas, and offered him his hands, holes still in them. And Jesus said,”Stop doubting and believe.” And for some of you out there today, he is saying the same thing: Stop doubting and believe.

Jesus also showed himself to Peter, and the disciples again by the sea of Galilee. In fact it is recorded in 1st Corinthians chapter 15 that the resurrected Jesus Christ personally showed himself to over 500 people.

Now if your looking to make up a false religion, this isn’t the best way to do it. One could simply say “Jesus rose spiritually” then there would be no way to disprove it. But it is specifically stated that Jesus was raised physically. Now all the Romans or Jews had to do to disprove the resurrection was produce the body of Jesus and say here he is, see, hes dead. They never did, they never did. They couldn’t, because Jesus wasn’t dead. He was alive and walking around!

Christianity alone unlike any other religion holds historical accounts, eye witness testimony, and manuscript evidence. Today there are over 2.2 billion Christians in the world. Christianity is the largest faith on planet Earth, by far. Islam is second, with only about 1.5 billion adherents.

Can we really say that it’s all just a coincidence? Has mankind really moved past all the violence and bloodshed and sinful behavior? Take a hard look at our society, just beneath the surface you’ll see corruption, immorality, brokenness, slavery, and even the organized genocide of unborn children.

Jesus resurrected from the dead to set us free from all sin and death. I see the effects of sin, I see it everyday. I volunteer at the nursing homes, Bishop Noa and others. I see people withering away, growing old, and eventually dying. Before that I worked at a homeless shelter in Wausau, and I saw people withering away under the weight of alcoholism, addiction, dying before me.

Friends, death is not normal. Something about it surprises us all. We see people withered and old, and we think to ourselves.. this isn’t right. Death should not be.

But though we wither and die, if we will believe in Jesus, we will be resurrected from the dead just as Jesus was resurrected from the dead. Why should we believe this? BECAUSE JESUS SHOWED US HE COULD DO IT. He did it personally and showed us down through history: I will set you free. I have conquered death, see I have shown myself to many witnesses and they have testified to the ends of the Earth about Me.

Dare we turn away from that in smugness? No. Trust in Jesus. Jesus resurrected. Jesus Christ is alive right now, Lord in heaven, with holes in his hands and feet, seated at the right hand of God the Father.

Before this moment humanity had no advocate before God the Father. But it was recorded in the book of Job that Satan had regular access to the throne of God, where he came to accuse the brethren. But now we have an advocate there, Jesus.

So if Satan says look at that sinner, look at how he betrays you, look at how he lives a double life, Jesus Christ is right there to answer: HE IS MINE I HAVE MADE HIM CLEAN. HE IS BECOME RIGHTEOUSNESS IN ME.

Paul urges us in the scriptures: "In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry." -2 Timothy 4:1-2,5(NIV)

We are Christians. Our primary purpose on Earth is not worship. We’ll have all of eternity to worship God. Our primary purpose is to carry the gospel to the lost. Each of you carry the answer to all the problems of life, death, Earth, people and sin. You carry the sacred gospel of Jesus Christ. I think we as the church have gotten too insular in our attitude. We’re set on being the church within these walls, when we’ve got to be going out into the community and evangelizing the lost. I’d encourage you to do that. Pray about it. Make it a part of your daily thoughts. God will open doors and give you chances to carry that message.

I’ll Fight!

It’s really about adopting a missional attitude of the mind. We won’t do it perfectly, but we can start to have a kingdom mentality, a mentality of thinking throughout the day… how can I carry the gospel todayHow can I reach out just a little bit today, to help someone or love someone in need? It isn’t so hard. It isn’t so complicated. And soon the effort begins to grow into a missional lifestyle.

I’m telling you the truth, even one person living that missional lifestyle can trigger shocking transformations in a community. I’ve seen people like that around. They are very inspiring to behold. And they aren’t special. They aren’t superheroes. They are just people, redeemed sinners who have decided to live missionally, to carry the gospel with them. And when they catch fire, well, wow. Just wow.
 

I want to put this thought in all your minds: Focus your attention on young people. Focus your attention on the elementary school kids, and the teenagers and the young adults in their twenties. When you look at them, remember what you are looking at: your looking at the future.

Please be in prayer for the young. And engage with them.

So our mindset, I’m hoping, will become one of being a “mobile ministry.” That’s how I think of myself. I’m like a one man army. I’m blasting out that gospel message to as many people as possible. I’m trying to be like a battleship, shooting out from the front, from the rear, from the sides, from the hull, and from the decks.

Ultimately we must push ourselves to do it. Will we focus in on the truth, our Christian heritage, our worldview, and carry it into the community? If we want the Salvation Army to carry on for another 100 years, 200 years, then we have to be diligent today.


The Abraham Lincoln Battle Group, via Wikipedia
I’m encouraging you to be a battleship, a powerhouse Christian soldier. Do so on social media, posting about Jesus. Do so at your work place, carrying the message of love. Invite your friends and family to your local church services. Pray constantly. Be a powerhouse Christian in your community!

Get creative, think big, but start small. You can do it, in the power of God. Bathe it all in prayer, and it will prosper, even if you don’t see the results, keep on working. Paul languished in prison, probably wondering at times if his letters mattered at all, if they weren’t just crumpled up and tossed in the garbage. Little did he know his letters would be read by billions, and stored in the modern day Bible to lead untold generations to the living God.

Learn more about apologetics, I’ve included several internet links in this post. And carry the gospel to this fallen culture, who are in desperate need of Jesus. The Holy Spirit will do the rest. God be with you, young people need you, the world needs the gospel, carry it boldly, without compromise. 

 
This is the full version of the sermon preached by Justin Steckbauer at the Salvation Army of Escanaba on 5/29/2016. 

Apologetics Websites:
  1. Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
  2. Cross Examined
  3. Reasonable Faith
  4. Evolution News
  5. Stand to Reason
  6. Answers in Genesis
  7. The Poached Egg
  8. The Veritas Forum
  9. Socrates in the City
  10. Always Be Ready

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Has Christianity been a force for Evil in the World?

St. Peter preaches in the catacombs, via Wikipedia.

We hear a lot about the negatives of Christianity.  We hear about them constantly actually.  We are those raised by the 1960s cultural revolutionaries.  But is "religion" in the case of Christianity really a source of evil and darkness in human society?  

Far from it friends, far from it.  In fact we've been sold the lie that religion is the source of most war in the world.  That statement of course is completely false.  In fact only about 7% of wars in world history had religious motivations, and after removing Islam the number drops to 3%.  That's just one tid bit.  Do you realize the bloodiest genocides were committed not by Christians, but by atheist regimes?  A few examples include: Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, the Cambodian genocide, and Adolf Hitler.  Blue pill, red pill, that red pill kicking in yet?  You've been lied to by Marxists and naturalists seeking to remake our society in their own image.  The truth is quite different.  Here are some of the positives of Christianity...

Positives of Christianity:
  • The first orphanages were devised by Christians
  • Hospitals were first founded by Christians
  • Hundreds of Charities including The Salvation Army, The Red Cross, St. Jude Children's Research Hospitals, YMCA, Goodwill, World Vision, Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services, Samaritan's Purse, Cross International, the list includes at least 37,000 organizations.
  • Preserving writings during the dark ages in monasteries (And no, Christians didn't cause the dark ages, the dark ages were caused by the fall of the ancient Roman empire and the invading barbarian tribes).
  • Criminals turned saints: Consider the billions who have chosen to live moral lives despite criminal pasts!  I'm included in that group, recall I was once a burgeoning junkie.
  • Abolishing slavery in England (William Wilberforce)
  • Abolishing slavery in the United States (Abraham Lincoln)
  • Temperance movements in the U.S.A. and Europe.
  • Peaceful revolutions (like the American revolution contrasted against the bloody secular french revolution, ala heads will roll)
  • Redeeming broken cultures (like The Salvation Army's work in darkest England during the late 1800s)
  • The birth of science: Galileo, Newton, and Bacon were all Christians.  They all testify that belief in God drew them to search for patterns in nature. 
  • Universities like Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Brown and others were all founded by Christians, as Christian schools. (Later they were quietly conquered by leftists and secular marxists.)
    Compassion International's work in providing sponsoring for children in Africa and Asia.
  • Tens of thousands of homeless shelters provided by Christian groups like the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, & Lutheran social services.
  • Thousands of treatment centers (ARCs) provided by the Salvation Army for addicts in need of recovery.
  • Twelve step groups like AA, NA, and Celebrate Recovery based many of their precepts on biblical teachings (via Oxford groups).
  • Christianity provides the foundation belief systems that describe all life as holding sacred value. Liberty is deemed an inalienable right, and morality is considered universally applicable.  Darwinism provides no such foundation, only survival of the fittest.
  • Christians have always stood against child sacrifice, even in it's modern day invocation, abortion.
  • The endless tens of thousands of churches that host food pantries, charity events, housing support, and dozens of other ministries to their local communities and in return are thanklessly hated and denigrated as "bigots" and " hateful fundamentalists." 

The list goes on and on.  Christians have done the world so much good, but are constantly mocked and ridiculed.  Christians have stood for truth, morality, and service to the poor in the darkest hours of human history.  Many have fallen short of the standard of Jesus Christ also, that is certainly admitted.  But we must not over look the incredible good done by Christians throughout history.  Do you enjoy this advanced society we live in?  Are you glad for hospitals? Universities?  Are you glad for the moral foundations of the society around you?  Are you grateful for charities and food pantries and homeless shelters?  Thank a Christian!

Portrait of William Wilberforce, who fought slavery in England, via Wikipedia.
 Related Posts:

  1. A Three-Fold Battle Plan to Redeem Western Civilization
  2. An Appeal to Heaven: The Movement
  3. The Supreme Court, Same Sex Marriage, Religious Liberty
  4. Thoughts on Public Schooling: Should Christians homeschool their Children?
  5. All those who Wander are not Lost: A Study in Nothingness
  6. Kim Davis is only the Beginning: Prepare your Ministry for Persecution
  7. A Cause Worth Dying For: Materialism, Millennials, & the Authentic Mission
  8. What is the Truth about Abortion? Fact, Fiction, Christianity & Humanism
  9. Faith in the 21st Century: The Seven Key aspects of Faith
  10. Christian Activism: Can Christianity survive the new cultural attitudes?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Addressing Liberal Theology: Was Jesus Nicer than Thou?

"Buddy Christ" from Dogma

If you interact on the web, or with folks in your hometown you may come across Christians who tend to believe that Jesus Christ was the nicest of nice person who ever walked the planet.  This Jesus apparently never offended anyone.  This Jesus was all inclusive.  This Jesus endorsed gay marriage.  This Jesus doesn't give truth, but only gives love and acceptance.  This Jesus accepted everyone.  This Jesus never said anything mean.  This Jesus embraced every ideology.  But it turns out... this Jesus never existed.  

Let's look at some of Jesus's all inclusive statements:

In Matthew 12:36 (ESV) Jesus said,"I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak."

In Luke 14:26 (NLT) "If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison--your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple."


In Matthew 5:10 (NIV) "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

In Matthew 19:21 (ESV) Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

And finally we see in Matthew Chapter 23 the quintessential tepid, all inclusive Jesus having a few words with the scribes and pharisees, including: "
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness." -Matthew 23:27 (ESV)

Jesus was awesome.  In fact Jesus is presently awesome, seated in glory and majesty at the right hand of God the Father.  He is presently completely awesome.  Why?  Because he was very loving.  But he was also so truthful.  He was a warrior for truth.  He took a stand.  And as a guy, I love that.  I love the love of Jesus, and the mercy of Jesus, but more and more so I appreciate the defiant, courageous, truthful Jesus who stood against the corruption of those times.  

Jesus was God in the flesh, when he walked on Earth. If God himself took a stand 2,000 years, we must be in good company when we take a stand today.  But watch out for those nicer than nice Christians.  They are the ones who will stand up and call you out when you take a stand on some key issue like bathroom policy, marriage laws, pornography, human trafficking, abortion, or other issues.  I've seen this, they stand up and say, "Hey you can't do that.  You can't say that.  Who are you to tell others what they should do?  Jesus said do not judge!"  Now my first response is to reply, "Well, if you think Jesus meant never stand for anything, and to never judge anything or anyone, then why are you judging me for judging?  Aren't you violating your own standard?"  This gets them rather flustered, let me tell you.  But ultimately the issue is: I'm not called to judge, as in condemnation.  But I am called to judge in terms of discernment and standing for the truth.  The word says "discern all things."  The word also says "you will judge all things" (Hebrews 5:14, Philippians 1:9-10).  Jesus said in John 7:24 (ESV) "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”  

Why do they stand up to attack those who stand for the truth?  Very simply, because they aren't standing for anything.  They carry the same arguments progressives and atheists use to attack what they call the "religious right."  It is a favorite past time of some Christians and bloggers to go after the "religious right" and bash them.  Why?  Because it gives them a false sense of moral superiority.  In the cultural debates of our time and age, often what we see is various groups of individuals attempting to take the moral high ground from one another.  One group says they're standing for "LGBT rights" then the next group says they're standing for "Religious liberty" and on and on it goes.  With liberal Christians they disdainfully critique the "religious right" as hateful, when they have no idea what they're talking about.  And even worse, they're shooting their own and attacking those who are fighting for their rights, rights that are in peril every single day.  In fact, if it weren't for "religious right" organizations like the Alliance defending Freedom taking on the ACLU in court time and again, we'd have lost our religious liberty by now.  That's how critical this struggle is.  Ultimately, it goes to a lack of understanding of the scriptures and how they are applied.  But it's not entirely the fault of the person, the problem often is that pastors and leaders are too concerned with filling their church seats, and they don't address key issues like religious freedom, the Constitution, abortion, gay marriage, and such concerns.  They're too concerned with being "loving and cool." And many of them are more concerned with attendance numbers and the dollars coming in.  Sad, but true.  

What is liberal theology?  What is conservative theology?  Well, conservative theology suggests that the Bible means what it says.  The teachings are literal, meaning, the historical events depicted in the Bible actually occurred, and when teachings are given they're meant to be timeless and universal.  So if teachings on marriage or the sanctity of life become inconvenient... well, they're still in there, so they still apply.  

Liberal theology is the idea that the Bible means whatever they "feel" it means at any given moment.  Feelings rule, thoroughly influenced by the culture and pretty soon Jesus is carrying a gay pride flag, Jesus would never offend you, and it's just all about the love.  The Bible according to liberals is more "symbolic" and "idealistic" which means in essence: "Shut up, it means whatever I say it means, you bigot." 

Was Jesus nicer than thou?  I've debated folks endlessly who really believe that Jesus was so "nice" and so "loving" that he wouldn't dare challenge someone else's beliefs.  I mean, my goodness, the only way someone could hold this view is if they'd never read the gospels! 

The instinct of man is to remake God in our own image.  Remember that 90s song, "What if God was one of us?  Just a slob like one of us?"  We want Jesus to be like us.  We want Jesus to get on board with our viewpoints and with our plans.  But that isn't the Jesus of history, and that isn't the Jesus who is alive and well in heaven, seated at the right hand of God.  We're delusional people sometimes, as humans.  It's amazing some of the things we'll read into the scriptures, or cut out of the scriptures to suit our tastes.

In fact recently I had someone suggest that it's good that the gospel has been watered down because "Jesus taught in parables to leave that open to us." 

Our instinct as humans is not to trust the Bible.  Our instinct is to trust our own opinions.  That's the default position of our minds.  It's easy to get on board with "Jesus saves" and "God is love."  It's harder to get one board with "Homosexuality is disgraceful behavior" (Romans 1:27). It's harder to get on board with the judgment of the righteous and the wicked (Revelation 20:11-15).  It's harder to get on board with the concept of hell and eternal disconnection from God (2 Thessalonians 1:9).

But it's all in there.  And it doesn't change.  We can't change God's word.  Either we believe every word of the books of the Bible, or we toss it all out and just make it up as we go along.  There is no intermediary position there.  Either it's all God's word or it isn't God's word.  It can't be partially God's word or somewhat God's word.  I'd like to challenge you to believe all of it.  Believe every word of it.  Trust God's word.  Trust God's word even when it seems terrible to you or offensive to you.  Why?  Because more will be revealed.  

Remember this vital, central fact: According to the Christian worldview I'm not God and your not God.  We can't see things from a full perspective.  That's true for anyone, Christian or atheist, we know our discernment isn't perfect.  We all make mistakes.  So maybe we need to trust that if something in the Bible offends us, maybe it's because we aren't seeing it from the right perspective.  Maybe we're the ones who are holding the wrong opinion, or a limited opinion, or opinions based on false or incomplete evidence.  Take the radical step of believing things that may offend you.  The gospel is an offense right?  The Bible gives me hard, hard truth about myself and the universe.  It isn't easy to take at times.  But I love it, because I love the truth.  Love the truth as well, even when it's tough to comprehend!

Jesus Christ came to save us.  He came fully of love and mercy.  He came to show mercy to sinners.  But he also called sinners to repentance.  He asks us to change our ways, not to change His word.  We have no business, none whatsoever in changing any part of the word to suit the ever changing views of the culture.  The culture has embraced child sacrifice, the culture has embraced pornography, the culture has embraced gay marriage, the culture has embraced boys in girls restrooms, and in ten to twenty years I have no doubt the culture will be singing the praises of pedophiles.  And who knows what else.  We don't change the word for the culture.  The message doesn't change.  Our application of it may change, our modes of intersection may change, but the timeless truths don't change.  Jesus Christ came full of grace and truth.  Let's not cut out either truth or grace.  Jesus wasn't nicer than thou.  Jesus was too awesome for that.  


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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

It is always Darkest before the Dawn


I believe it is always darkest before the dawn.

I believe in the enduring human spirit.

I believe truth must rise from the ashes of media censorship and moral chaos.

I believe God will use to great effect any man or woman who is willing to believe in a better tomorrow.

I believe we are seeing the beginnings of a coalition that will defeat the Alinsky Marxists transforming America into a socialist authoritarian nightmare society.

I believe that conservatives are rising up, Constitutionalists are rising up, libertarians are rising up, and Christians are rising up.

I believe our best days are ahead of us as a nation and as citizens of heaven.

I believe that Christianity is the truth of life, and it must win out over the false worldviews of naturalism and materialism.

I believe a movement is forming, of young people who believe in the founding principles of this nation and are tired of the dark culture taking shape in the U.S.A. 

I believe Jesus Christ the son of God is alive and seated in glory at the right hand of God the Father. And I believe that he loves me, he loves you, and he is not done with us as a people.

I believe a new day is dawning because people like you are willing to work hard, pray even harder, and advocate for the principles that define the prosperity and joy we enjoy in this nation.

I believe the forces of light are gathering at this moment, in the coming years we will see a resurgence of Constitutionalism & Christianity.


Related Posts:
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  2. An Essay on the Fall of Man in Today's America
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  4. An Appeal to Heaven: The Movement
  5. The Supreme Court, Same Sex Marriage, Religious Liberty
  6. Thoughts on Public Schooling: Should Christians homeschool their Children?
  7. Kim Davis is only the Beginning: Prepare your Ministry for Persecution
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  9. What is the Truth about Abortion? Fact, Fiction, Christianity & Humanism
  10. Christian Activism: Can Christianity survive the new cultural attitudes?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Dear Salvation Army: Please don't change your stance on Marriage

marriage, stock photo via pixabay.com

The views on this blog do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the Salvation Army, it's employees, or partners. The views on this blog are solely those of the writer.

Dear Salvation Army, 

You rock.  I'm serious.  You're doing a great job reaching out to the least of these.  You're really doing it.  You're "Christianity in action" as Billy Graham said.  You've got great people, great leaders, and great programs.  You're on the cutting edge of culture and engagement.  It's an honor to be a part of this army.  So let me share something on my heart with you.  Because you rock, at least in my humble view.  

These are the opinions of one person, me, who would humbly encourage you in one area: Please stand firm on the issue of marriage.

There is a lot of cultural pressure in this day and age for churches, organizations, and movements to compromise in the area of marriage.  Frankly the issue is that of gay marriage and Christian practice toward those of the LGBTQ community.  

Jesus Christ was once asked about marriage and divorce.  He replied in this way:

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” -Matthew 19:4-6 NIV

The biblical formula for marriage is between one man and one woman.  The Salvation Army position statement on marriage is as follows: "The Salvation Army affirms the New Testament standard of marriage, which is the loving union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others."

There is mounting pressure in Europe, Canada, and the United States for Christian organizations to turn coat on the issue of marriage.  

The Salvation Army's current policy is quite excellent regarding gay marriage and the LGBTQ community: The Salvation Army's mission is to carry the gospel and serve all people without discrimination.  LGBTQ individuals are served, cared for, and invited to church just like anyone else.  That is missional love and the showing of mercy to those in need.  That's a good policy.  

In addition, individuals who are homosexual or other gender identities may be hired by the Salvation Army.  But here's the line: Like any other organization, for ministry leadership positions the individual must be in agreement with the core doctrines and values of the organization.  Someone who practices homosexuality would not be eligible for officership or other ministry positions because that person would be living in contradiction to core army truths.  However, if someone of homosexual disposition had committed to celibacy and God's mind on the issue, then that person would most certainly qualify for officership.  That person, like all of us, have decided to do things God's way instead of their own.  That person is not only qualified but highly qualified, given they have renounced old ways and put on Christ.  

In recent years some Christian organizations and denominational movements have made moves to change their marriage doctrines to allow for gay marriage to be practiced.  The arguments have been that this is about love, inclusion, tolerance, and equal rights for gay couples.  The results have overwhelmingly been that there is a mass exodus from the movement.  And with the core principles of the churches compromised, soon other compromises come about, and the movement dies off completely.  I don't want to see the same thing happen to the Salvation Army.  

We must never, never, never endorse a practice that the scriptures show clearly to be sinful. Regarding homosexuality, the New Testament writer, the Apostle Paul addressed this issue in the flagship book of Protestantism, the book of Romans.

Paul was writing regarding those who disbelieve in God, who refuse to obey His standards when he wrote: "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
 

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.Amen.
 

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error."
-Romans 1:21-27 NIV

Critics say that this scripture doesn't apply because the context is that it's addressing idolatry.  It is true that the context is how God deals with idolatry, which is that he then gives people over to indulge in sin.  It makes sense, if people don't want Him, then he turns them over to their own desires; desires which God defines as sinful.  And God indicates that these sinful desires include homosexual activity.  Which means despite the context being idolatry, implicit in the scripture is the clear truth that homosexual practice is indeed sinful.  Another attack on this scripture is saying that Paul was addressing the pedophilia practiced by men in Rome. But Paul doesn't say children, he says men.  Which means he's talking about adult men.  And he also talks about women indulging in sinful behavior with women.  How could that have to do with pedophilia?  Paul wasn't addressing pedophilia.  He was addressing idolatry, and implicit in his description of idolatry is the truth that homosexuality is a sinful practice.

Another attack levied against biblical marriage is ceremonial laws of the Old Testament. The objector will start listing off ceremonial and judicial laws from the Old Testament, mainly from Exodus and Leviticus.  They say: "Do you eat pork? Do you eat shell-fish? Should you stone your wife if she commits adultery?  Do you think a woman who is on her period is unclean?  How can you pick and choose!"

The answer to this is that the levitical laws were ceremonial rules for the ancient nation of Israel, mainly for their health and safety.  These laws were for an ancient nation 4,000 years ago, to help them stay healthy and to eat the right foods, and so on and so forth.  We are not under the ceremonial laws.  The judicial laws in exodus were for the ancient nation of Israel once again, as rules for an ancient people to begin to learn to obey their God. They were the very beginning of government laws for an ancient people.  

The Bible is what we call a "progressive revelation."  Meaning over thousands of years God interacted with people by slowly revealing His will and plan in ways they could understand.  We still look back to the Old Testament at things like the 10 commandments in Exodus, because those commands are spiritual in nature.  We still look back to the OT in other areas for inspiring stories and wise teachings, but the ceremonial and judicial laws are no longer binding.  We are directly under the teachings of the New Testament today. And time and again homosexuality is directly prohibited in the New Testament (1st Corinthians 6:9-11, Romans 1:26-28, 1st Timothy 1:10).  

In fact during the spread of the early church in the book of Acts, the Jerusalem council meets to decide if Gentiles (non-Jews) should be required to keep the OT laws (See Acts 15:1-35).  The decision is made that Gentiles must not be placed under the OT laws, because of the grace of Christ, but that the Gentiles should be taught to live holy lives, and it's specifically mentioned at the Jerusalem council that gentiles should be taught to abstain from sexual immorality.  Included in the umbrella term "sexual immorality" is of course prohibited homosexual practices as described in the NT.

Look, I'm not trying to be mean, or judgmental, or unloving.  But the Bible says what it says, and doesn't say what it doesn't say.  And given the choice between the Bible and someones opinion, I'll take God's word every time. 

There is a very simple question to ask: Is the Bible the word of God?  Does the Salvation Army as a Christian church movement believe that the Bible is the true, real word of God?  The answer is of course yes, given doctrine 1.  So if the answer is indeed "yes" which it always ought to be, then we have absolutely no business encouraging that which God has forbidden.  It's just that simple.  

At the end of Romans 1 Paul also writes: "Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them." (v.32)  Do we want to join the growing number who have decided to approve of those who practice such behaviors?  

Additional scriptures dealing with homosexuality: Genesis 19:1-13; Leviticus 18:22;20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9.

Articles regarding the Bible & homosexuality: 

Scientific, Logical, and Sociological Evidence against Gay Marriage:
Watch a presentation by the Christian apologist Frank Turek on the issue of gay marriage.

This is a very tough issue.  Let me repeat that: this is a very tough issue.  The culture is quite convinced that anyone standing for natural marriage is on the same level as the most demented, backwards, evil bigot.  Human rights organizations have and will condemn anyone who dares to a take a stand on this issue.  Those who stand for natural marriage have been and will be called hate-mongers, bigots, homophobes, and discriminatory religious zealots.  

But it's worse than that. Sadly gay activists have taken to suing Christian businesses, slandering Christians who take a stand, and getting Christians fired from their jobs for standing for their religious values in the public square.  Some in the government wage a war on religious liberty, demanding that Christian business owners be forced to participate in gay marriage ceremonies or be shut down and fined hundreds of thousands of dollars.  That could very soon continue forward into the area of ministry and pastoring.  Now the Department of Justice is demanding that all bathrooms in the country be open to anyone.  If a biologically male individual prefers to be considered female, then he must be allowed to enter and use the female restroom.  The same is being forced on public and private schools, for locker room use and restroom use.  This agenda will only continue.  We can't avoid politics, even if we aren't interested in politics, politics is interested in us. 

Many top companies in the U.S.A. have taken to bullying states to push forward the redefinition of marriage.  National companies may boycott you or your entire state, as Indiana was boycotted for attempts to protect religious liberty and how recently North Carolina has been boycotted by musicians, employers, and over 120 different major U.S. companies.  Some of the companies involved include: The NFL, the NBA, Paypal, Starbucks, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Pepsi, Whole Foods, Hyatt, and many others.  We may find ourselves attacked, boycotted, and slandered for defending natural marriage, but who do we want to be?  God's people or the favorites of the world? 

The Salvation Army has had to deal with attacks from the LGBT community, and the response of the Salvation Army has been excellent.  The Salvation Army has reached out to LGBT individuals, despite hatred and vitriol toward a time honored charity.  The Salvation Army is right to reach out.  But there must also be limits in regard to this issue.  These limits have been extended tactfully by army leadership.  But some in the Army fear that leadership may begin to move to the left on this issue, and eventually adopt a full on position of support for gay marriage.

This would be a profound mistake, and a major departure from the shared meanings of the past.  It would no doubt splinter the organization and cause mass resignations.  The cost is high, but the Salvation Army must stand firm on the issue of marriage.  Dare we change God's design for cultural acceptance only to find ourselves outside the will of God? 

Let's think outside the box.  How can we encourage a change of heart and mind in those struggling?  How can we compassionately call people to repentance from harmful behaviors?  How can we treat people with dignity and respect, yet also carry the full gospel message?

The Salvation Army is a conservative biblical Christian movement.  All that means is that we take scripture to literally mean what it says: We literally believe Jesus Christ resurrected from the dead.  We literally believe God is real.  We literally believe that the teachings in the Bible apply today.  Which is a good thing, because these are not just our beliefs, they are facts of life.  God is in fact real.  Jesus Christ is in fact, Lord.  Thus we must never abandon that which the Bible teaches.  Small compromises lead quickly to a pattern of compromise and that is very dangerous.  

God is real.  He is active in the world.  God's Bible is real, true, and infallible.  It is the description of God's timeless truths.  Thus when the Bible tells us something is sinful, we must never call it anything but that.  There have always been heavy pressures from the cultures we engage in.  At the founding of the Salvation Army most churches hated the army, and people threw rocks at brass bands and those attending open air meetings.  In the 1950s atheistic communists took control of Seoul, Korea and captured a Salvation Army officer named Major Noh.  This Salvation Army officer was shot as he lifted his Bible in one hand and his song book in the other declaring, "Whether I live or die matters not, Christ lives!"

Should we change our marriage stance?  Should we encourage that which God has forbidden for the affection of the LGBT community, for the acceptance of U.S. businesses, for the sake of "equality and inclusion?"  Never.  Because it doesn't matter what happens to us, live or die, fired or labeled haters, none-the-less Christ lives!  

Our application of God's word adapts to the culture as it shifts.  But the eternal truths found in God's word do not change.  Marriage is a sacred union between man and wife, to the exclusion of any other combination.  Let's carry the message of the gospel in the fullness of grace and truth, standing firm in His word despite what the culture demands. United, here we stand, God help us: One Army, a Christian army. 

Please feel free to share this article and the pictures.  If you're an adherent, soldier or officer in the Salvation Army please consider being an active advocate in your area for a biblical foundation of marriage, family, and core theology.  We need voices like yours, standing firmly for the truth.  Thank you! 


From the Salvation Army position statement on marriage and divorce
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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Living in the Fall of Man: On A Lonely Christian Walk

creative commons image, source

"The loneliness of the Christian results from his walk with God in an ungodly world, a walk that must often take him away from the fellowship of good Christians as well as from that of the unregenerate world.  His God-given instincts cry out for companionship with others of his kind, others who can understand his longings, his aspirations, his absorption in the love of Christ; and because within his circle of friends there are so few who share his inner experiences he is forced to walk alone." 
-A.W. Tozer 

Are you feeling caught between worlds?  Are you feeling troubled by an emotion you can't quite name?  Are you desperately lonely?  Cut off? Perplexed? Amazed?  I know I am, more so than not.  It is the cross to bear in this world.  What an algid cross it seems to be, so unremitting.  

Your an exile friend.  Your on a lonely road.  Did you think it would be all muffins, unicorns, rainbows and lollypops?  Might you have been expecting an accolade or two? Perhaps a polished trophy for your endeavors? 

There are none, no.  There is only the flickering presence of God on difficult roads through an unaccommodating forest of trouble.  This world is certainly of great trouble.  If one dares to read of the troubles politically, socially, economically it would be enough to drive one mad!  I've often taken that grim study and it isn't of particular joy.  But there is such a fascination with knowing the truth, don't you think?

The truth shall set you free!  And as the poster read on the wall of the Catholic retreat somewhere in the cow hills of Wisconsin: "The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable."  Such a grim prognostication, yet also so hopeful.

Much like our Christian walk, through an unforgiving world.  As Jesus said,"If you were of the world the world would love you as it's own.  But you are not of this world."  You are no longer of this world friend.  You are a citizen of heaven.  But I imagine the world didn't like you much even before the great transformation that changed your life forever.  

When you met Jesus, the King of Kings, the President of Presidents, the Lord God almighty, you encountered the truth!  The truth become a man!  God almighty himself, came to you!  And he changed you forever.  And yet...

Yet here we are, in the world.  But not of the world.  John R. W. Stott referred to it as being "between worlds." Destined for eternal life, a perfected state of existence, a future we can hardly imagine.  It's a beautiful future, a real future.  

It's not a pie in the sky, leave that to the marxist utopian types.  They pine for a utopia on Earth that at best would last them 107 years.  Then they're gone.  We will live forever you see.  What a shocking thing, how ground shaking!  No wonder it is so hated, such a despised message worldwide.  No wonder the nations turn from it, no wonder secularism abounds.  No wonder even in our own country they seek desperately, day and night, to strike God, Christianity from every sphere of life.  They do so viciously, rabidly, and they never stop.  What drives them so?  They are driven by hatred for a message that transcends them.  They're driven mad by moral accountability.  It's within their own heart you see.  It nudges them while they sleep, and the more they try to hide it, the more it comes out.  In the night, in the dark, the truth of who we are as humans taunts them, and the need for forgiveness.  

They cannot stand the fact that how they live matters.  They are in permanent revolt against the shared meanings of the past.  They've been at it a while now, to the point that it's now considered quite normal to be a raving immoral, uneducated, unborn baby killing, sexually liberated authoritarian dead set on self, self and self.  It's even considered the American way.  

But how long could it last, our Christian nation?  There is a war on after all.  It is a spiritual war.  It affects us everyday.  We read about it in the news.  We see it on the television.  And it drives us mad.  Because we have the answer, Jesus Christ, but they can't and won't accept that.  They willfully condemn themselves, make rebellion against God in how they live, but they refuse to face it.  

It is mass madness on a global scale friends.  The truth has become so darkened, so covered over, so removed, so stigmatized, so demonized that when I write these words one of the world reading them assumes that I am quite mad, that I am a backwards fundamentalist, entirely delusional, trying to force my backwards hokey myths on good and decent people.  To those who have been brainwashed into the current cultural ethos, we Christians appear quite nutty.  But the truth always appears like hate to those who hate the truth. 

We are the hold outs, the Maquis, the french resistance, we are the saved, redeemed, reborn living in the fall of man.  Can you fully appreciate that?  Has it sunken into the depths of your subconscious?  

This is the fall of man, and if you know Jesus, truly know him, you've found the escape route.  And so many refuse it.  They can't see it.  They are evil, and they seek to remake the world in their own image.  Their worldview drives them to try to create a worldview devoid of God, but the problem is that worldview is systemically contradictory.  It is without foundation.  It's like an unbalanced equation.  When they look at the world they can tell it's broken.  It triggers errors, paradoxes, and destructive behaviors.  Yet they must, must, must keep a divine foot from sneaking in the door. They stand on the foundation of Christianity in order to subvert it.  

And here we are in the midst of it all.  We're desperate for change.  Yet we know this world's fate is already written.  It is destined for nothingness, to be remade into a restored state.  

Those who so malign us everyday, those who bash us without end in the mainstream media, in academia, in the sciences, on the internet, well, they are destined to receive that which they so thoroughly desire: a world without God. 

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. -John 15:18-21 NIV

Remember that friends.  We are destined for a kingdom greater than this one.  As our enemies gain victories, as our foes multiply, as we feel estranged from the world, cast aside, when we feel lonely in our pursuit of God, remember that we are not of this world, yet we remain in this world.  As a result our primary imperative must be the salvation of lost souls.  And what a tiring, desperate, seemingly hopeless effort this seems to be at times.  Cold, burnt to a crisp, like the starfish on the seashore.  And your the boy tossing them one by one into the deep, and the world is the man accusing you of wasting your time.  Your time is not wasted friends.  You may be lonely now.  You may feel the weight of glory now, the weight of eternity, and the longings of a infinite world in your heart, but today what you do matters.  

We're touching on one of the many, many great paradoxes of life on Earth in it's current state.  The fall of man when originally triggered by the first humans had an effect of dividing a perfect reality by darkness (sin), multiplied by free will.  The outworking was a series of paradoxes, hundreds of them, thousands of them built into the framework of the fallen state.  The paradoxes are constant, and best described within the Bible itself: We are dead yet living.  We must humble ourselves to be exalted.  The meek shall inherit the Earth.  God made Him who committed no sin to be sin on our behalf.  God almighty became a man.  God died, to free man from death.  God resurrected to give man eternal life.  To be the greatest of all one must be the servant of all.  We carry this infinite treasure in clay pots.  In the world, but not of the world.  Enemies of God, now friends of God. One could increase the list endlessly.

This is the fall of man friends!  The deeds we do today, in service of our King will be remembered for eternity.  Our proclamations of the gospel have the power to light holy fire in the hearts of mankind.  We are called to carry the message that frees humanity from eternal chains that condemn untold millions to outer darkness, to disconnection from the God who wants to restore them, redeem them, and love them unlike any other!  So continue forward, just as I must, unto daybreak.  Carry the gospel, even when your heart aches.  Endure the elongated sorrows of this world, day in and day out, for we are destined for a greater reality, a greater world, a more perfect union.  We are destined for greatness.  The world hates you for it, but take heart Jesus Christ has overcome the world.

"Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.  Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.  And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.  The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.  For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.  For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
 
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak,  because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.  All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
-2 Corinthians 4 (NIV) 



 

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