Saturday, January 31, 2015

Am I called to Ministry? How can I know?

 Isaiah 6:8 (ISV) Then I heard the voice of the LORD as he was asking, "Whom will I send? Who will go for us?" "Here I am!" I replied. "Send me."

Ah, the grand call to adventure.  Every hero has accepted the call and began the journey of love and service.  In a sense, every Christian is called to ministry of some sort.  It doesn't have to be flying to the Congo and teaching natives about Jesus.  It can be helping your landlady take out her garbage.  It's as simple as helping set up chairs for a youth event.  Or writing a Christian blog.  Or sharing some scripture on Facebook or Twitter.  

But what about full time ministry?  How can we know if we're called to full time service to the blessed Lord Jesus Christ?  

I've asked myself that same question.  But not too many times.  Deep down I just knew.  No one could tell me.  No church leader could say "yes" or "no."  It was something God placed on my heart.  Don't ever assume that because a certain leader or friend or colleague doesn't think you're right for the call, that you should give it up.  That's between you and God.  Of course the confirmation of friends and family is certainly helpful.  

For me, in the Baptist church it seemed like doors kept closing in my face.  I was concerned about that.  But then I ended up with the Salvation Army, working for them.  And when I worked there it was like every door would open as I walked up to it.  Bosses and colleagues were telling me "yes, definitely, get involved, you're perfect for it."  So it began to confirm that there was a road ahead in ministry.  Imagine if I had given up in the Baptist church and assumed that I did not have a call.  That wouldn't have been good!  But I'm not trying to say here that what happened with the Baptist/E-free churches was a bad thing.  God moves hearts.  He didn't want me there, but that doesn't mean they were bad.  God was just maneuvering me where he wanted me.  I'll always be grateful for the people who helped mold me into a follower of Jesus.  Jesus just led me to a place he knew I would flourish.  Of course it hurt my feelings at times.  That happens in life.  

Even further, for all I know God might lead me elsewhere from here.  It's hard to know exactly what he's up to.  He's a complicated God, the one we have.  He moves in the shadows at times, and at other times he comes out in the bright lights.  I've seen wonderful things happening in the past few weeks.

I met with Salvation Army officers from Divisional Headquarters in Milwaukee.  The next step for me will be moving to a ministry internship somewhere out of state.  I don't know where yet.  It's all part of the SA Ministry Development Program.  I'm excited.  I'm very excited.  

Originally I had envisioned myself in a very different place.  But God knows what is best for us.  He knows where we can do the most good.  Since working at the TLC shelter, I've had the chance to minister to God's favorite people: the poor, the lost, and the needy.  Who did Jesus spend his time with?  The poor.  The Lord has a special place in his heart for the poor, lost, and broken.  I know, I'm one of them. 

Here's what I can tell you about ministry.  A lot of the wrong people are in ministry for the wrong reasons.  It's tough.  We desperately need one thing for ministry in the world:  People who really believe God's word is true.  Not kind of, not a little, not mostly.. but truly truly understand that the Bible is real.  That every word in there is true.  We desperately need people who understand that heaven, hell, Jesus Christ, are not just nice stories, or cool things, or traditions, but that these are realities.  Not just words on the page, or conceptual, but when we turn our heads up and look at the sky, or across the city, or around the neighborhood... we know it's real.  That we know and truly know, that in this physical world these people around us are facing eternal disconnection from God.  And live accordingly.  

Maybe you're called to ministry.  Maybe you need to pave a trail for those who feel like they have no way to God.  Think of all the people groups that aren't necessarily apposed to God, but they don't want to leave their culture?  Punk rockers comes to mind.  Indie rockers.  Metal heads?  Artsy people?  Writers?  Libertarians?  Democrats?  Republicans?  Occupiers?  Anime fans?  Movie buffs?  Gamers?  Nerds?  Motorheads?  Jocks?  Hippies?  New agers?  

And what about international missions?  So many countries remain largely unreached.  Japan is 98% unreached.  India is largely unreached (over 750 million people in fact remain unreached).  Countries like Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria remain largely unreached.  And those are countries where you could be killed for even speaking the name of Christ.  No one said it would be easy.  But it will be a challenge.  People sometimes think Christianity is for wussies and girly men.  It's not.  It's for the brave, the courageous, and the strong.

You get the idea.  If you're a little "different" like me, maybe God is calling you in an unexpected way.  Maybe he wants you to make a niche for people like you.  I'm sure a lot of people feel funny about going into churches where everyone dresses a certain way.  Like I've said in the past, many don't want to join evangelical culture.  And they don't have to.  Jesus didn't tell new believers to wear the Jewish colors, attend Jewish events, and go to Jewish festivals and holy days.  Nope, his followers went to the Gentiles (non-Jews) and did not require them to follow the laws of the Jews.  In the same way, maybe God is calling you to start a church or write a blog or reach out to people like you who don't see a clear way to come to Jesus.  

But how can I know? 

Here's the thing, you're never going to know 100%.  That's the whole point.  You step out in faith, in the incredible act of trusting God on his word and believing what he says in spite of all the horrors of this broken world.  Something deep down will push you in that direction.  Cultivate that.  Build on it.  Think outside the box.  Of course pray about it.  Talk to friends and family about it.  Write about it, read about ministry.  Just turn it around in your head and think about it.  Start to generate some ideas.  If it's of God, he'll make a way in the desert.  He'll help you pave a trail in the wilderness for those like you to come to the one we all must come to: Jesus Christ.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mighty Men, Men of Valor, Men of Honor, Men of Renown

I have a dream, you see.  I have a dream of a different thing.  I have a dream of a new thing.  I'm a believer you see.  I'm a believer in the Spirit of men.  I'm a believer in the realm of men.  I'm a believer in the men of the west. 

Times and measures are backwards now.  Things don't look so well for the people of western civilization.  We've gone off in search of many schemes.  But this isn't the end.  A decline isn't a fall.  

If we're children of a benevolent creator, and I believe we are, then everything can change.  Everything will change.  We must believe it can.  We must change.  And we will.  

We know the problem, don't we?  Men used to be honorable.  Men used to be brave, strong, and courageous.  That is the natural state of men.  We are to fight for honor, fight against evil, and uphold the good.  We are to be the righteous heroes of the stories.  Instead we've become the villains, predators of a kind, with no honor, no dignity, stalking weak willed women, inventing new ways of doing wrong, lazy, hopeless, and faithless.  But it doesn't have to be that way.  

I know, personally.  I have a dual doctorate in despair and self destruction.  It was fun for a while, sure.  But eventually the raw heart begins to cry out for something more.  Something different is required.  

The Lord said in Isaiah 43:19 (ESV) Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.

What does it mean to be a man?  It seems to me, to be a man is to be honorable.  It means bravery and strength.  To be a man means protecting the weak, and helping the poor.  To be a man is to be a higher being, a jedi knight, a chivalrous knight, a defender, a rider of Rohan, a soldier of Gondor.  To be a Christian man, is to be something even greater.  To be a Christian man is to be the crew of a hovership, it is to be a revolutionary, a member of the Maquis, a Dutch resistance fighter, a loyalist, a patriot militia fighter, a hero on the battlefields of Europe.  

One man, even one man can change the world.  One man change everything.  One man who believes and stands for something he believes in can change everything.  God will bless that.  The Bible is full of examples of God using a single person, or a few good men, who truly believed and sought a return to holiness, to change everything.  He takes our small effort in faith and multiples it by a thousand.  I've seen it happen in my life already.  It's shocking and powerful.  I'm genuinely shocked by it at times.  Especially when I see it happen, months later, after a single prayer.  Something huge in the USA changes, and I'm like woah.  Was that God's answer to my prayer?  Incredible.  

I'll give you an example.  One thing I like to do is share Christian stuff on my social media accounts.  I have two Facebook accounts, ten Twitter accounts, and accounts on Pinterest, Goodreads,, Live Journal, Tumblr, Youtube, and Reddit.  I found channels on Youtube mainly from the Veritas Forum, Cross Examined, and Reasonable Faith.  I loved watching Ravi Zacharias and many others to study their methods.  Naturally I would share these videos a lot on social media.  When I first started sharing videos from the Veritas Forum, and RZIM, and others, most of the Christian videos had maybe 3,000 to 8,000 views.  These days when I watch those same videos, the views are up between 100,000 and 500,000.  All we have to do is step out in faith, pray, share, and watch God do incredible things.  

I digress, I digress.  In the history of planet Earth, perhaps one of the most incredible men to walk the Earth was a man named David.  He dropped goliath with a rock, remember that story?  David had a troop with him in the wilderness, when he was on the run from all kinds of trouble.  The scriptures record them as "David's mighty men."  The saying is true that those who are with us during the hard times are the ones who will be with us in the good times.  David had truly loyal friends.  He had Jonathan, the dearest friend one could hope for.  

Is that desire dead within the hearts of men?  To be brave?  To be honorable?  To be the righteous hero against the forces of darkness?  Must we become shadows?  Must we flee all along the nights?  Will there always be too many of them, and not enough of us?  When is day break?  When is the dawn?  

I'm tired of the sex obsession of the culture.  I'm tired of the lack of dignity.  I'm tired of the lies and deceit.  I'm tired of so many people always looking to get an edge, to cut a deal, to give up their honor for a dime, and I'm so so tired of people trying to sell me things.  I'm tired of men who care about nothing but money and sex.  I'm tired of it, and I won't stand for it anymore.  I will see men become men of honor again.  I will see it in the name of Jesus Christ, the savior of man kind.  

It ain't so bad.  Who said it was?  I know the media always paints good as "boring."  And it usually paints evil, depravity, and random sexual encounters as "awesome, fun, exciting."  They don't show the next week of paying child support.  They don't show the abortion operation.  They don't show the divorce court battles.  They don't show the guilt felt by the man, or the lostness in the eyes of the woman.  What is difficult and boring?  Being stuck in the same cycle of dissatisfaction in empty pursuits.  Day in and day out, always feeling guilty, empty, depraved, a hole in the chest.  Always on the run from reality.  

"But I don' believe in God" you say?  It's never as simple as that though, is it?  Maybe you've been frustrated by the actions of churches.  Maybe you've been hurt.  Then again, maybe you have honest questions.  If you've got honest questions, and you're seeking the truth, check out the section of this website "Resources for Seekers."  Lots of videos and book suggestions and links to take a look at.  But let's proceed forward with the assumption that we know there is a God.  Most of us do, but maybe we're afraid it'll be too hard.  Maybe we're afraid that we can't live up to the impossibly high expectations.   

I'm not saying we're gonna be perfect today.  Not saying that at all.  But if you're reading this, a man, confused, which direction do I go?  I'm telling you the truth, this is the way.  You don't have to be perfect today.  But you can start today.  

James 4:8
Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

It's all in the book, the Bible.  Now don't worry, I'm not saying you have to start wearing button up shirts, going to cheesy conferences, and sit in pews on Sunday.  That's not what I'm saying.  I'm not saying "join evangelical culture."  Because a lot of that is just luxury society BS.  I'm saying radically follow the Jesus of the Bible.  I'm saying fight for justice.  I'm saying fight for political liberty.  I'm saying battle the corruption of big business and big banking.  I'm saying fight for the gospel.  I'm saying fight for the orphans, the widowed, and the sick and dying.  I'm saying take up the lost cause of hope, dignity, truth, and morality in this crazy backwards society of depravity!

James 1:21
Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

He is doing a new thing.  The West will have one more great awakening before the fall of all things and the coming of Christ.  I'm praying for God to raise up a generation of mighty men of honor, might, and renown.  Men of the west.  Men of the United States.  Men who will fight for the cause.  Men who don't fold.  Men who don't harm.  Men who lead men.  Men of dignity.  Men of loyalty.  Men of respect.  Men of passion.  Men of honor.  Men of God.  

Be one of them.  Start today.  Be a hero.  Be a man of honor.  

2 Cor 6:6 (NLT) We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love.

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

2 Cor 6:1-10 (ESV) Working together with him (Christ), then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says,

“In a favorable time I listened to you,
    and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”

Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

Related Posts:
Be a Man
The Lifestyle Change: Following Jesus one day at a Time
10 Answers to Common Questions Raised by Skeptics 
Five Causes for the New Christian Activist to Champion
The American Dream and the Christian Dream


Sunday, January 18, 2015

What is the Gospel?

What is the Gospel?  How are we to understand exactly what the Gospel is?  

We can know scriptures, we can memorize verses, and we can tell people about the Bible, but what in essence is the basic message of the full Bible, cover to cover? 

To me, we see a description of two basic issues.  First, we have a problem.  Second, we have a solution to that problem.

Let's dig into this.  How are we as humans to understand this? We are biological life forms dreamt up by the mind of God.  We gain certain pieces of knowledge, but as we grow into adulthood we are fundamentally apposed to God unless taught.

Let's start here: What does the word "Gospel" mean?  

The meaning of the word "Gospel" is "Good news."  So maybe some of the preachers had you thinking it was bad news.  But it's not.  It's very very good news.  

But to understand a solution to a problem, we have to first understand the problem.  What is the problem?  The problem is man's disconnection from God.  Theologians call this the problem of sin.

Man kind went away from God, thousands of years ago, our ancestors did.  They rejected the awesome presence of God, and decided to try to make it on their own.  Now today we live in the wake of that.  

Really it's not hard to see.  There is corruption in every level of business and government and especially banking.  We live in a time of war, disease, and death.  Sometimes we can forget that as Americans though.  We live in a sort of bubble, where we educate ourselves into sheer imbecility, in vain attempts to convince ourselves that "everything is fine and dandy."  But it's not.  Perhaps the most clear witness for the problem of sin and evil, is the fact that the people of the Earth have more than enough to go around as far as food, water, and shelter... Yet people by the hundreds of millions starve to death, live homeless, and have access to no clean water.  

So it's clear there is a problem.  I hope we can all see the problem.  I was debating with a sociology major at the University of Wisconsin, and she just couldn't seem to see the problem.  The UW is a high quality school.  So I surprised.  I confronted her with the facts.  She just kept talking about how we need to reduce the population.  Which isn't actually necessary at all.  There are vast amounts of resources, that are being hoarded by the few, to the death of the many in countries like India, Pakistan, Tanzania, China, and so many others.  It makes me think that Malcom Muggeridge may have been correct when he wrote, “So the final conclusion would surely be that whereas other civilizations have been brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction of training its own destroyers at its own educational institutions, and then providing them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at the public expense. Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down, and having convinced himself that he was too numerous, labored with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer. Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over--a weary, battered old brontosaurus--and became extinct.”Malcolm Muggeridge, Vintage Muggeridge: Religion and Society

The problem stems back to the very first humans, Adam and Eve.  The problem can be surmised as three separate issues that led to the fall of man.  Unbelief in God, as the first humans trusted instead the tempter, and themselves.  Satan had said, "Did God really say that?"  He called into doubt the truth.  Second, succumbing to pride and temptation to power, when Satan said to them, "You will be like God."  Third, blaming others, and blaming God.  When God asked Adam, "Did you eat from the tree which I told you not to?"  What did Adam say?  He replied, "The woman..."  Dang, the woman.  It's always somebody elses fault isn't it?  When I got in trouble, it was society, it was conditions, it was the corrupt government, it was the bad laws, it was my parents, it was divorce, it was my friends, it was this, it was that.  And by the time it's over, I was just a helpless victim, standing there, and they just did it to me.  But I knew deep down that wasn't true.  The problem starts with me, and my actions, on a daily basis.  Not society.  Not conditions.  Not labor laws.  Not drug laws.  Me, and what I did.  And who I think about before anyone else.. Me.  

What did Adam say after "The woman"?  He said, "who you gave me!"  So, not only is it the woman's fault, it is also God's fault, because God made the woman.  Wow.  Just wow.  How often have I done the exact same thing?  Like Cool Hand Luke in the chapel crying out to God "You're the one who made me this way!"  I have blamed God for my problems, for my sorrows, when it wasn't God.  It was me.  Or it was other people.  But it wasn't God.  

Genesis 3:12 (ESV) The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”    

That is the problem.  Man turned on God.  And that heart of turning from God, has been passed on down the ages to every person born on Earth.  All the way down to me and you.  

From Genesis to Malachi the problem of sin is described in great detail.  The Old Testament is our total guide to the problem of sin.  We see the history of the Earth, of God's interactions with man after the fall.  He helps man, he encourages man, he pursues man as they run off in chase of many schemes.  The laws passed down to Moses and the Israelites helps man understand the problem even more clearly.  The laws of the OT helped man understand that there are standards.  There are reasons why God should be obeyed.  Because if all of these laws were followed to the letter by all people, there would be no war, no starvation, and no sorrow.  But the law informed man of another problem: Even when someone wants to sincerely live a good life, they seem to trip up and not be able to follow it perfectly.

I can understand why.  There is a lot of mind pollution in the world.  I was watching television recently and on average about every 10 seconds as I clicked through channels I would see a female scantly clothed, whether on a commercial or fitness program or sitcom.  Or I would see food painted up to look very scrumptious indeed.  Or car advertisements.  Or reality shows where people buy extravagant houses or are told to do ridiculous things for large cash rewards.  In summary, a lot of depraved weirdness on that screen.  The point is theres a lot of temptation.  

So man falls, man receives the law, man cannot seem to follow the law.  That is the problem.

Now we come to the solution.  And my goodness, is it a beautiful solution.  It is a majestic solution.  It is a wondrous solution.  It is a deep and meaningful solution.  It is the solution of the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ.   

God comes in human form to deal with the problem himself.  He offers himself as the way in which humans can be made right.  God gives himself as the bridge to righteousness.  God comes as Jesus Christ, teaches the truth, but more so, he is the truth in human form.  He lives the truth, and Jesus does not just teach the way, he is the way.  His righteousness is the gift.  This completes our passage into right relationship with God.  Christianity could be called "the way."  In the book of Acts it's often called "the way."  Because it's not necessarily about reading the Bible, it's not necessarily about loving or helping others, it's about personally believing in and receiving Christ as a graft onto my soul, a transfusion of righteousness to defeat the nature of sin within me.  It is surgery, to change me from wickedness to righteousness.  

God recognizes the problem more than people or society or the "experts."  The problem is not around us, the problem is within us, and that is why the Christian message is the truth.  It's a painful message at times, because I must admit that I am part of the problem and that I must change.  But I don't have to drag myself up by my own bootstraps.  Jesus Christ lifts me up.  I don't come to Jesus perfect, I come to Jesus humbly admitting that I'm the problem, me, and that I need his help to be part of the solution.

Now today, I, we, you and I get to be part of the solution.  We get to help, instead of hurt the world.  We get to love instead of take.  We get to give instead of always receiving.  This is the way.  It ain't easy to hear, that's why so many people refuse it.  Why?  Because of the same three problems from Genesis chapter 3.  One, Unbelief, "There is no god."  "The Bible is full of errors."  "Christians are hypocrites."  "Well I've never met Jesus."  And on and on.  Two, pride.  "I don't need God."  "I'm just fine."  "I'm not perfect, but I'm certainly not as bad as.. *insert person or people group."  "I don't need God to be moral."  And three, blaming God and others.  "Look what my parents did to me."  "God made me this way."  "Society did this to me."  "If I wasn't raised in poverty, I would've been something special."   "It's all my ex-wife's fault." And on and on and on.  That's why everyone isn't Christian.  And God treasures us, and our individual rights and freedom to choose so much that he won't force eternal joy on us.  We can always choose sin, depravity, and death.  But we don't have to.  

Many can see the problem, and the solution.  They humble themselves.  They believe upon the evidence and the word of the Bible.  They meet Jesus.  They trust in him despite everything the world shouts.  They blame no one, and take responsibility for their situation and their actions, past, present, and future.  They don't try to do it alone though, they rely on Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide the way and change them internally.  

That person is the Christian who has received the Gospel, the good news, that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life.  The Gospel very simply, is the message that Jesus Christ can help someone like me, a sinner, to reconnect to God today, and expect an eternal life with God after death in the future, past the veil of the shadow of death. 

What is the Gospel?  Justification for a person, from all their misdeeds, and rebirth into the family of God by The Way, Jesus Christ, or in Hebrew he is called: Yeshua.  

God bless you, amen.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Does man need God in Western Civilization: Young People are Hungry for the Truth!

Malcom Muggeridge said, " "It would be difficult for anyone looking around the world today to resist the conclusion that something has gone very badly indeed with what we continue to call “Western Civilization.”  This awareness tends to be distorted and muffled – if not obliterated – by the media, which manage to induce us to take for granted the continuingly explosive situations that confront us on every hand, and to see as an enlargement of our freedom and an enhancement of the quality of our living the steady and ominous erosion of the moral standards on which our traditional way of life has been based." - The True Crisis of our Time

And Dr. Ravi Zacharias as he has often said, might reply, "The greatest question of our time will be this: Can man live without God?" - The Death of Truth and the Decline of Culture

In our day and age it seems that for the most part, mankind has slipped from any cognition of morals, values, and God forbid, a loving creator.  But when we're angry, or upset, or something terrible has happened, or we've slammed our fingers in a door, what do we exclaim?  "God!"  "Jesus Christ!"  

Why?  Perhaps we know deep down there is an ontic referent regarding how things ought to be, and when they don't go rightly, we exclaim in intensity, the name of our creator.  How often do you hear someone exclaim "Oh Buddha!?" Or Krishna, or Zoroaster?

In the news lately we hear of the terrible attack on a newspaper in France where ten were killed by Islamic extremists.  Will the new atheists claim this event as yet another reason that religion is destructive?  Probably.  But we notice that while the popular liberal (in sharp contrast to the true liberal, who I can respect) unconditionally supports the rights of women, when the topic of Islam comes up, the popular liberal is also unconditionally supportive of the Islamic faith.  When Islamic extremists murder the staff of a newspaper, ironically, later religion and specifically Christianity will be attacked and minimized as a result of the tragedy.  The same happened after the events of 9/11.  Islamic extremists bring down two skyscrapers killing 3,000 and later the new atheists use this event to condemn religion, and more specifically, Christianity.  Later as the popular broadcast media discusses it, the view seems to be that all religion is simply bad.  All because of the actions of Muslim extremists.  Confusing?  Yes indeed.

When God is evicted from the public square, from the scientific institutions, from the public schools, from the colleges, what happens?  We've seen a growing depravity in the culture epitomized by perhaps a certain Miley Cyrus, once an idol for millions of young female children on the Disney channel, later seen on MTV naked mounted on a wrecking ball swinging back and forth.  Which may be an accurate picture of what the television media is doing to the minds of our young people: wrecking them.  Wrecking them with sexuality, drug culture, greed, and materialism.  

I've spent several weeks on vacation, recharging my batteries, and spending time with my mother and step dad.  They watch a lot of TV.  As I've browsed through the channels and viewed the "programming" I'm even more convinced of my previous conviction: The mainstream media through television, radio, internet, and product advertising are at the forefront of the decline in culture in the United States and Europe.  And the process of globalization has made that depraved declining media available to the entire world.  Then what comes to mind is a piece of scripture from Revelation that says "For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries."
 (Revelation 18:3)

Does man need God?  To me it seems that he does.  There was always the village atheist in the old times. But now it has become a popular mainstream belief.  The belief seems to be that science explains reality, and that's all we need.  But is that true?  Does science adequately explain the origins of mankind?  Not at all.  Science is based on observation.  There is no theory regarding how the universe got here. Evolution is discussed, but where did the material and energy come from?  A big bang is theorized, but who caused this big bang?  Thankfully there are excellent arguments, like the Kalam Cosmological argument which explain how the universe needs an uncaused designer.  Intelligent design is a reasonably view, it certainly is.  I would say much more reasonable than a universe that "creates itself from the law of gravity" as Professor Stephen Hawking has suggested.  But that is an illogical statement, as Professor John Lennox has pointed out.  

Never-the-less the question remains, does man need God?  To me, it seems that man desperately needs God.  I grew up without God.  My parents took my sister and I to Catholic church, but to me it was so antiquated and detached from reality that I never made even a meek connection to it.  But I needed God.  I needed God when the commercials and consumerism had convinced me I needed so many products and subscriptions and new toys.  I needed God when I was so obsessed with NFL football that I collected volumes full of football cards.  I needed God when I spent endless hours playing Nintento, Super Nintendo, Playstation, Playstation 2, Xbox, PC, and Xbox 360 games.  I needed God when my parents divorced and my world was shattered.  I needed God when I turned to drugs and drinking to blot out the terrible emotions I felt.  And I needed God when I kept asking.. "Why am I here?  What is the meaning of life?  What should I do with this life?"  And in the same way as I need God, so all humanity needs God.  Because God shows us the truth.  He shows us the way.  He shows us how to overcome death.  He shows us Jesus Christ, and invites us to believe in him and live a completely different life as a result.  But not to believe in some story or book or legend, but to believe in a Living Jesus Christ, and a Christianity that is not just talk or myth, but extends into all reality around us, across the cities, the forests, the rivers and oceans; and is lived out in the physical world, not just in talk, but in true devotion to follow a living God named Jesus Christ. 

Many turn hard against the idea of God.  Many have had very negative experiences with Christianity.  The word "religion" or "religious" has come to be a virtual curse word.  It is a taboo in modern society.  Spirituality is good, and religion is always bad.  People openly mock the Christian worldview citing it as the view of the uneducated conservatives of the past.  

However, as Dr. Norm Geisler said, “The unexamined life is not worth living by insisting that the unexamined faith is not worth believing."  One is not suddenly free to live a life of empty debauchery and depravity simply by pointing out the failings of "organized religion."  That is not an acceptable remedy to the soul.  Christianity has certainly been practiced poorly by many.  So how about instead of judging, condemning, and then discarding the very excellent teaching of Christ in the gospels, why not instead step forward and live it as correctly as possible, to show the "organized religious types" how it is done?  That is, in fact, exactly what Jesus Christ did when he confronted the religious hypocrites of his day and age, the pharisees.

It's been a question on my mind in the past few weeks.  How did we get here?  How did things get this way in the United States?  This nation was founded on Christian principles.  This is in fact a Christian nation as evidenced by statements made by the Supreme court.  So then how did this happen?  And I think several factors play into it.  But the biggest factor has to be the minds of young people.  The young people are future society.  The current professional class right now are the young people of yesterday.  

I saw it most clearly myself as I was growing up.  What were the influences on my mind?  Primarily?  My parents. My friends. The television. The public school.  I was a middle class, middle middle class kid growing up into the culture of the 1990s.  Dad was a teacher, mom was a nurse.  As middle class as they come.  As I grew up into junior high and high school I became increasingly confused as to why all the people around me seemed so interested in nothing more than the latest products, the latest television shows, (South Park was very popular when I was in junior high) and the latest sporting events.  Why is that?  Because it's the primary focus of the culture.  The television, music, news, movies, it's all geared toward selling things, and triggering temptation.  

Have you ever noticed how rare it is for a truly intellectual television show to air on TV?  It's all dumbed down.  It's like it's specifically designed to keep people consuming and not asking questions.  Thank the Lord of Heaven and Earth for the Internet.  Because there I could search, I could participate and inquire.  I read about all kinds of ideas that I simply didn't know about.  They were not allowed within the orthodoxy of television media, public school curriculum, videogames, news, and sports.  

Therefore my conclusion must be that the mind of the child in western society is held hostage by the media of today.  Think about it, really think about it.  Malcom Muggeridge knew it.  Noam Chomsky knows it.  G.K. Chesterton could see it years ago.  Francis Schaeffer saw it in the 1970s.  Dr. Zacharias sees it today.  I can see it too.

The vast majority go to public school, they are taught materialism, scientism, and modernity.

The vast majority watch television, and are sucked into a culture of sexuality, sports, materialism, technology, and purchasing.  Selfishness is king.  

The vast majority are not given a Christian message.  Many are given a dead Christian message or a prosperity gospel message.  Others are given a straw-man description of Christianity as a "backwards religious" cult of simpletons.  If the Christian message is in there at all, it must compete with an incredible noise and temptation and past programming within the mind.  No wonder it's so difficult for Christians in the west to live truly holy lives.  There is far too much noise.  

So it's not an easy time to be a Christian, or to share the Christian message.  But this is not a special situation.  World Christianity has always faced chaos and trouble.  And it's always overcome.  And we will overcome also.  

When you look at church history, what has Christianity had to face?  Let's see, first intense persecution in Israel in the first century AD.  Then intense persecution in the ancient Roman empire AD 100-300.  The fall of the Roman empire.  Evangelizing the barbarian invaders.  Then fighting corruption from the papacy, leading to two reformations. The Muslim invasion of Europe and North Africa.  Then two world wars, and now today, globalization and mass media.  It's no different than the past chaos Christianity has faced.  We will overcome the world, because Christ overcame the world.  

The first step is to believe that we can.  We've been sold the lie in this country that "it's done, you can't change it."  Abortion is done.  Obamacare is done.  Media depravity is a reality, accept it. Gay marriage is a reality, accept it.  Next they'll be saying you need to take a microchip implant (Iplant 7 series from Apple?), just accept it.  It's a new era, just do it.  I refuse that.  I can change anything.  I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.  This is nothing new for world Christianity, we've faced worse in the past two thousand years and overcome it by leaps and bounds.  

Why?  Because we've got Christ.  He is our King, our Lord, our blessed Comforter.  And we have the current ministry of the Holy Spirit, who moves too and fro between the nations, like Gandalf the White between Rohan and Minas Tirith uniting the Christian peoples against the forces of the evil one.   

All we have to do is believe in him.  We petition the Lord God, and he hears us.  As the word says:

Isaiah 40:26-31(NIV)

26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
    Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
    and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
    not one of them is missing.
27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
    Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
    my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Young people are hungry for the truth today.  As men like Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig, Frank Turek, and many others travel to universities to give their presentations on Christianity they are speaking to increasingly massive crowds.  Young people are hungry for the truth.  At a recent event Ravi Zacharias of RZIM spoke to over 10,000 young people.  It reminds me of the 2012 talks given by the presidential candidate Ron Paul, as he traveled to universities like UCLA and spoke regarding liberty and restoring the Constitution to 4,000 and 6,000 and in Wisconsin 3,500; an event that I attended.  People are fed up with the corruption in Congress, in banking, and in big business.  They know about the lies.  Meanwhile the main "candidate" Romney was speaking to crowds of a few hundred at best.  And the mainstream media news conveniently ignored Ron Paul.  Just like the mainstream media news ignores most news of any real substance, instead covering celebrity gossip and social issues while the Constitution is shredded and religious liberty is assaulted.  And so the mainstream media also conveniently ignores people like Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig, Stephen Meyer, and Lee Strobel who share a relevant Christian message.  But never-the-less young people just don't buy into post-modernism or this materialistic scientism.  They know deep down there is something more.  They want answers!  Thank God for ministries like the Veritas Forum and RZIM that go into university campuses.  Because so many churches simply fail to penetrate into people groups, even those right around them.  

There is too much noise, depravity, and temptation for young people these days.  Young people, teens, twenties, thirties have been thrown to the wolves of addiction, pharmaceuticals, sexuality, fine foods, new technologies, products, and entertainment.  I was stuck in it all.  Wondering what truly mattered, wondering what the penultimate reality was.  I sought out the perfect high, the perfect social encounters, the perfect true love sexuality for completion but all of those things fell short and instead left me addicted, confused, depressed, and starving for something I didn't know I needed.

Jesus Christ is the perfection I so deeply require.  His internal presence through the Holy Spirit is the final fulfillment of such ancient lusts and longings buried within me.  I want everyone to know, especially young people who are suffering in the three ring circus out there in the United States and Europe, that all of those temptations, treats, and triumphs are in the end hollow.  The truth is that we need God just like our parents and grandparents needed God.  We need God in reality, in relevance, and in truth.  We really, really do.  

To that end, I would like to share some links to ministries, websites, organizations, and charities that I would like to encourage young people to participate in.  The noise is too loud in the culture, "buy this!"  "you need that!"  Instead turn to Christ.  Make use of these organizations, support them, engage in their activities, become part of their efforts.  Stand out, and swim against the stream.  

That way we can work toward a better tomorrow, and shut off a lot of that media noise, replacing it with outlets of biblical truth, important causes, and means of edification for the body of believers in Jesus Christ, the blessed Lord and King of the entire, actual, real Earth.  He is our literal leader, our high chancellor, who will soon claim his position and set things right on the Earth.  Await that day with hope in the Lord, that you will walk and not grow weary, you will eat hearty of his truth, and stand the test of faith over the test of time and temptation.  Until that day of his return, participate in these organizations, share the gospel of grace through faith, and stand strong in the faith.  God bless you all, amen.  

Organizations, Ministries, and Websites:  - This is my favorite reference website for searching the Bible.  It's got it all, references, dictionaries, free resources, audio bible, any translation you can think of.
Open Bible - Topical - Open Bible is a great website for topical searches on any topic imaginable, ESV format.
Bible Study Tools - This site is great for more advanced studies of scripture, I love the free searchable NASB/KJV concordance.  Those paper concordances are daunting, this website makes it quick and manageable.
Compassion International - is a charity that is very highly rated.  They serve children in countries all over the world.  I highly recommend supporting this charity if you can!
Sermon Index - This is an awesome resource for downloadable sermons from all the great preachers over the ages of Christianity, all completely free mp3 downloads.  I love it!
Charity: Water - Help build wells in the 3rd world.  Simple and effective.  I check out all my charities, this one has a near perfect review as well.
Reaching You Ministries - Kristen Jane Anderson is an absolute inspiration.  She attempted suicide in her teens and was ran over by a train.  She miraculously survived and now travels to campuses and churches telling her story of salvation through Jesus Christ.  Check out your website to have her speak at your ministry!
89Q Your Positive Hits Wisconsin Radio - support 89Q, a Christian rock station helping people today who face the tough job of being a Christian in a world trounced by sin.  These are some great people, support their ministry please :)
Wisconsin Christian News - One of the few standing Christian newspapers in Wisconsin.  Support these guys if you can.  They cover a lot of difficult topics that don't seem to ever come up on the mainstream media television news.
Abolish Human Abortion - Join the movement to abolish human abortion, through abolitionist societies across the USA
National Pro Life Alliance  -Join the pro life alliance - Help support the persecuted church in foreign countries by taking action through petitions and media campaigns
Discovery Institute - I love the discovery institute! They put forward the reasonable evidence for intelligent design and actively appose the massive Darwinian establishment
Answers in Genesis - A ministry in support of young earth science
Cross Examined - An excellent apologetics ministry, support these folks and share their videos.
Reasonable Faith - William Lane Craig is one of the greatest Christian apologists of all time, support and raise awareness of his powerful ministry, reasonable faith.
Applied Apologetics - An important Apologetics ministry.
Ratio Christi  - With chapters all over the USA this apologetics ministry is quickly gaining ground. - Online apologetics ministry, moderately Calvinist
Got Questions - Online apologetics ministry, moderately calvinist in it's answers.
Liberty Institute - An organization that actively supports religious liberty, I'm a firm supporter of Liberty Institute
ACLJ  - The ACLJ is a religious liberties ministry that advocates for religious freedom in the USA.
Focus on the Family  - A ministry in support of the nuclear family.
Alliance Defending Freedom - An organization focused on supporting religious liberties in the United States
Youth for Christ - Youth for Christ is a wonderful organization that guides young people in their path in ministry by providing them chances to serve in meaningful ways in the body of Christ through speaking and leadership. Youth for Christ treats young Christians with the respect they deserve, by offering them possibilities to meaningfully serve and preach early in life. Churches ought to notice the example being set by Y4C.  Y4C has raised up great Christian leaders like Billy Graham and Ravi Zacharias.
Cru - A ministry for young college students.
Wycliffe Bible Translators - Wycliffe translators help translate the Bible into new languages to unreached people groups.
Converge International - Converge is a massive organization of Baptist Evangelical churches. They generally have good churches in their network that stick close to the Bible and engage young people.
Ravi Zacharias International Ministries - RZIM is a very important international organization that propagates the gospel through Christian Apologetics.
The Veritas Forum - The Veritas forum is one of my all time favorite ministries. They have chapters at major universities in the USA and Europe. They bring speakers to debate with prominent atheists, and to give presentations at universities like Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Oxford, and many others. I watch their videos on Youtube and share them a great deal.
The Dennis Prager Show - I love this radio program, Dennis Prager is spot on regarding the culture and how truth has gone out the window in this day and age.  This is not necessarily a Christian radio show, Dennis Prager is a proponent of Judaism, a close friend of the Christian faith. 
The Freedom from Atheism Foundation - A ministry dedicated to answering the objections of atheists.
Liberty University - The largest Christian University on planet Earth. This is where I attend. Founded by Jerry Falwell in 1971. Teachers include greats like Ed Hindson, Elmer Towns, and Gary Habermas.
The Salvation Army - I work for a small Salvation Army corps in Wisconsin. I deeply believe in the mission of the Salvation Army. They were founded in the late 1800s by William Booth. The Salvation Army's Wesleyan holiness theology leads to a great deal of service and radical action to meet needs and introduce people to Christ. The SA practice what they preach. They do exactly what Christ instructed, serve the poor and preach the word.
Gospel for Asia - The 10/40 window is the area of planet Earth where the most unreached people groups exist. Asia needs the gospel. Please support this organization.
Jews for Jesus - Many Jewish people love Jesus and are dedicated to bringing God's chosen people, the Jews, to saving knowledge of Christ Jesus. - Download and order Christian audiobooks and other content. - Purchase Christian books and other items.
Voice of the Martyrs - Help support the persecuted church through this large ministry.
C.S. Lewis Institute - An organization that carries on the legacy of C.S. Lewis and his Christian beliefs.
Socrates in the City - A ministry of Eric Metaxas, heavy on apologetics and reaching intellectuals with the Gospel.
The Institute for Creation Research - A very important scientific ministry.
Always Be Ready Apologetics Ministry - An apologetics ministry that I support.
Christian Today - a Christian magazine.
Charity Navigator - charity reviews - Check the charities you support and make sure that they use the money you give them in honest ways.
Campaign for Liberty - A political organization that supports personal liberty in the USA.
Young Americans for Liberty - A political organization in support of personal liberty.
The Jerry Doyle Show - a conservative radio show that I deeply appreciate.  Strong supporter of personal liberty and religious liberty.
Church - A website with articles geared toward Christian leaders.
Old Earth Ministries - a ministry of Christianity and old earth views on the age of the Earth.

John 10:7-18 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Related Posts:
The Modern Mindset & Challenges we Face 
The Cross of Christ Jesus & Reflecting the Savior 
Secular Views vs. Christian Truth 
The Power of Love in Western Culture
Outlook for a Revived American Christianity

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Real Christianity: Clothing, Buildings, Money, & Extravagance

There is a lot of stuff out there claiming to be Christian, when it's not really Christian.  It's a difficult situation for any real Christ follower.  On one side you have a culture and society growing progressively more hostile toward Christian values.  On the other side you've got a religious establishment entrenched in wealth and worldliness.  The real Christian must face down hostility from a depraved culture.  And within the church, the real Christian must face down the rejection and hostility from luke-warm Christians, self righteous false followers, and health and wealth types.  It's very difficult.  Especially once within the church.  One hopes to find respite, but instead finds hostility and many who feel threatened by the sincere Christian's real devotion to a real savior.  Have you ever encountered that?  I have.  80% of Americans claim to be Christian.  But are they really?  Of course not.  

Now before I go any further, I know that it is very easy to attack the church.  Everyone attacks the church, believers and non-believers a like.  She's an easy target given all the trouble.  So it's worth mentioning that the church, the body of Christ, was never said to be perfect.  In fact from the very outset, evidenced by the letters of the New Testament to the early churches, from the very start there were serious problems.  The NT letters tell of sexual immorality (1 Corinthians), men sleeping with their own mothers (1 Cor 5:1), false teachers (Galatians), Jews attempting to force Christians to be circumcised (Romans, Galatians), falling away, shipwrecked faith (1 Timothy), attacks from Gentiles (Acts), attacks from Jews (Acts), and many other problems.  The church is not perfect.  Yet it's also important to realize that when Paul and others wrote the developing churches, he didn't ignore the problems or sugar coat them.  He addressed those problems directly.  He then lovingly encouraged the believers to do better.  So if we do the same today, we are right and correct to do so.  

So what does it mean to be a real Christian?  To be a true follower of Jesus Christ?  

Does it mean that I never sin?  Of course not.  Does it mean that I never make a mistake?  Nope, true followers make plenty (ask Peter).  Does it mean we never fall away?  No, true followers have fallen away (but they always come back).  

Jesus Christ taught that the wheat and the weeds are being allowed to grow together (Matthew 13:24-30).  The church is full of non-believers, agnostics, hypocrites, liars, fakes, and abusive men looking for submissive wives.  And that's not even the half of it.  Some churches are dead, some churches are half death, other churches teach false doctrines, and still other churches are nothing more than CEO business style money making machines flamboyantly portraying a false belief system stamped with the word "Christian."  

I don't want to be a jerk or anything, but it's true.  I don't want to be a debbie-downer either, but we real Christians need to watch out for this kind of thing.  I've encountered people threatened by me in virtually every church I've ever visited.  Why?  There is no need for it, but it happens.  I've been deeply hurt by people in the church professing to be Christians.  It doesn't necessarily mean they aren't followers of Jesus.  But that could be a possibility.  

What I'm trying to say here is: Expect difficulties, especially if you're sincere about this Jesus following thing.  I'm not always as great as I want to be.  I fall short.  I screw up.  I don't always feel as sincere as I should.  But I cry out to God about it.  I beg God to change my heart.  As I write this, I yearn for God to receive these written words as yet another desperate prayer from a troubled young man like myself, to please, please, please Holy Father, change me into the man you want me to be!  I need it so badly.  That's all it takes.  Keep asking, keeping talking to the Father, if you don't think you're sincere enough, if you think your faith might be fraud, cry out to God the Father!  Beg the Spirit and Jesus to intercede for you.  It ain't hard, just ask.  

Given that we believe and love the Savior, how then shall we live?  That's the pertinent question.  How shall we live in response to a world in such desperate need?  We really can't live as Christians of the United States and Europe anymore.  We need to live as Christians of the world.  We're in that time in history, when we receive news and information from all over the world.  If I want to, I can send a package to the Philippines and it will arrive in a few weeks.  We are global Christians.  Via the internet I can speak to people anywhere.  I can access information on virtually any topic.  

Despite all our access to information then, why are we so foolish?  How could I not realize the desperate needs of the 2/3rds world?  

This blog has always been about a lifestyle change for peace.  Peace is only available through Christ.  The Psalmist wrote "Seek peace and pursue it" (Psalm 34:14).  Through Jesus I have peace with God (Romans 1:5).  Now today, I am the arms and legs of Jesus Christ in the world, the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12-20).  Every true believer is within that body and functioning by and for Christ.  How then shall I live?  

It is best that I love God with all my heart, all my mind, everything I have.  It is best that I love those around me, and serve them humbly, washing their feet and giving of myself to them.  Or as it was put in Micah 6:8.. do what is right, humbly, love mercy, walk with your God.  

Seek peace and pursue it (Psalm 34).  Blessed are the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9).  I best seek peace and pursue it by being the arms and legs of the reconciler, the peace-maker himself.  That's Jesus.  And it's all about Jesus.  All things were made by him, through him, for him! (Col 1:16, Rom 11:36). 

The scriptures say that to whom much is given, much will be expected (Luke 12:48).  Who has been given much?  I have been given much!  I am a Christian living in the wealthiest country in the world!  That fact has passed me by sometimes, as I dither in my own sorrow.  Never-the-less I don't want to diminish the real sufferings of American Christians.  We have great material wealth.  In reality, we have little of real value (Proverb 11:7).  The only thing of real value is faith in Christ (1 Peter 1:7).  And with the material wealth comes temptation of every kind, bells and whistles flashing in the face day and night always tempting, tempting, tempting.  Sex, drugs, alcohol, parties, cars, electronics, appliances, loans, cigarettes, fine foods, furniture, and it's so loud and overwhelming and all encompassing and brainwashing you could just scream out loud!  Shut up, be quiet, get out of my head!  The noise pollution, the forcefully memorized slogans and commercial ads, all being beaten into the head of the Christian believer who is trying so hard to escape all that nonsense to truly follower Christ, and all that noise is such a grave threat to that walk with Christ that it could snatch away years of progress in a second.  It isn't easy.  Whether you are going hungry in the 3rd world threatened by disease, poverty and war, or a sex addict media junkie 9 to 5 debt slaver in the 1st world, it's never easy.  Each environment comes with it's unique challenges.  

I was watching Cable recently while visiting my mother and step dad in Wisconsin Rapids.  I was disturbed as I flipped through the channels to find myself looking at a certain Benny Hinn, with a 1-800 number posted on the screen.  On the screen was flashing that if you called, Benny would pray for you, so God would get you out of hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt.  I believe the exact number was $140,000 of debt.  God wants to get you out of debt, just send us your money!  Buy this book, order this DVD!  It was like I was watching an infomercial.  

I was genuinely disturbed.  I recalled then from years back, when I was watching a program where a gifted preacher drove me up into a religious frenzy with his speaking, and just at the cusp of the frenzy I found that he was trying to sell me a product.  Truly disturbing, once again.  These religious television programs are a lucrative market it seems.  That's not Christianity.  But that's what many assume it is.  A joke, a game, a lie.  But that isn't Christianity at all.  It's a business venture.

All the fancy clothes, the multi-million dollar buildings, the extravagant meals, the weekend conferences, the health and wealth, the gyms, the "Christian" dating tips, the "Christian" get out of debt DVDs, and the preaching tours of Israel.. I mean, it seems like mega-churches end up promoting their brand of "Christian" material more than the real message of the Bible.  

Humility ends up a dead concept.  If there is one way to get this all straightened out, it's through intense humility and utter devotion to the real Christ.  Maybe we need to take a hard look at how we live, and ask ourselves what we could give up.  How can we redirect all of this wealth to reach the lost?  Isn't that the primary purpose of the body of Christ?  To bring Christ?  Maybe we need to ask ourselves, what are we here to do?  Why is evangelism such a low priority?  Why are we staying behind the church walls instead of going out to serve?  Why all these fancy suits, massive building projects, and flamboyant worship music?  Do we even know what worship is anymore?  Are we going to be entertained instead of to praise and worship the Living God?  Why are the sheep starving in the fields?  Why is the message so watered down?  

There are many questions to ask.  But in the end, it starts with me.  It starts with the choices I make everyday.  How can I, me, Justin, serve Christ better?  How can I redirect some of my incredible American wealth to those who need it?  Keep in mind, I work at a homeless shelter making a tad above minimum wage.  I'm not a rock star or CEO pastor.  But I've got a bit extra.  I can sponsor a child for  I can hand out some Bibles.  I can tell some people about Jesus.  I can pray for some people.  I can take a few people under my wing and encourage them.  I can write.  I can share on social media.  So I need to challenge myself to do those things.  It doesn't have to happen over night!  But it can happen slowly over time.  It's not hard.  In fact it's great!  We can definitely do this.

This is real Christianity.  This is really following Jesus.  And it's great!  It's the real thing.  It's powerful, shocking, and life changing.  It's exciting.  It means taking dangerous risks, and fighting for a noble cause in a lost world.  This isn't kneeling in the pew half asleep on Sunday morning praying for service to end already.  That isn't it.  This is going to the lost.  This is serving overseas.  This is going into dangerous countries.  This is putting it all on the line for our faith.  This is trusting something we can't tangibly see.  This is radical devotion, a world shaking spiritual experience in the lives of billions on the planet Earth.  This is everything, or it's nothing.  What it can't be is "six tips for a better blah blah blah."  Or can I take your order?  Or playing World of Warcraft for two months straight.  Or CCD doctrinal sessions.  Or ziplining at youth group.  This is the front lines of a spiritual war.  A real conflict.  

This Christ following journey is the truth of life itself.  It's the spark in the eyes of those once half asleep at the wheel.  Those bored to tears at mass, or bored to tears clicking through an endless Facebook news feed hoping to heaven and earth that something might change, that something might light up in the dead eyes of someone who is emotionally and physically wasting away from meaninglessness in the self entertainment lifestyle of this culture.  Someone who has masturbated so many times to pornography, got drunk so many times, smoked so many cigarettes, paged through so many magazines, taken so many orders, sat for so many hours in a cubicle, went on so many unfulfilling vacations, did so many drugs, had so many empty sexual encounters, faked so many smiles, driven so many bland miles, and sat staring at a television screen so many endless hours that they feel they might burst inside from the meaninglessness and droning emptiness, and deadness of it all. 

This is the message for you, this is the mission for you; the Christian mission, the radical Jesus Christ following mission of true, real Christianity, beyond all the mega-churches, book sales, conferences, and prosperity gospel.  This is true devotion to a Living God, through a Living Savior, in the current ministry of the Living Spirit.  All explained through the elegant message of the Bible, the book, written over thousands of years, there is nothing like it.  No one ever said it would be easy, but there is one thing I can guarantee you:  It will be worth it, and it will stir in you a light that none can extinguish.  Take the journey.  Open the Bible.  Study and learn.  Explore the resources.  Truly follow him, truly follow him!  In the name of my blessed savior Jesus Christ, amen.  


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