Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Illusions of Modern Society and the Gospel

Image is part of the public domain, source from

"If we as Christians do not speak out as authoritarian governments grow from within or come from outside, eventually we or our children will be the enemy of society and the state. No truly authoritarian government can tolerate those who have a real absolute by which to judge its arbitrary absolutes and who speak out and act upon that absolute." -Francis Schaeffer, How Shall We Then Live?, page 254. Written 1976, Published 1979.


It's amazing how Dr. Francis Schaeffer could see what was coming in the United States with such clarity.  I've included several quotes from his landmark book: How Shall We Then Live? and the accompanying video production.  If you haven't read it, and watched the series, I highly recommend it.  

Let's look at the illusions and presuppositions within the culture around us, and ourselves.  Then we'll look at the cultural progression, media movements, and the gospel's power to transform cultures.

Are people brainwashed?

Do you ever get the feeling that people around you seem brainwashed?  It's a daily occurrence for me.  The television is a powerful influencer.  It came with an unprecidented ability to generate culture.  And oh the immoral culture it has generated.  There are so many other influences though.  There are so many situations that provoke us in different directions.  We like to pretend that we aren't influenced by the television, the ads, or the ideas being perpetrated.  But companies wouldn't pay millions of dollars for TV ads if they didn't have a power to influence the human mind.  Do you know how many ads a person sees in a day?  Probably hundreds.  

A view based on interests of everyday people

People have a lot of focuses, like work, family, art, music, movies, vacations, sports, and so on.  These interests are all fine when kept in moderation.  But it's when they crowd out the center of life, Jesus Christ, that they become problematic.  And are these interests crowding out legitimate yearnings within our heart, for the supernatural?  To be part of something special?  

God must be the center of our worldview, not off in a compartment for Sunday morning.  God must be the center.  God must be of first importance, even above our own families or our own lives.  I think we often lose touch with the radical devotion required by God.  Jesus Christ lifted two commands above all else: Love God with everything you have, and love your neighbors.  That is vital.  We must obey those commands.  We ignore them at our own imminent peril. 

Peeling away the layers of conditioning

Can we wake up to reality?  Can we see past the American lifestyle to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ?  I think we can.  But we have to start peeling away the layers.  We have to start seeing through the lies.  

So many of us are afraid of sharing our faith.  We're afraid of looking stupid.  I spend a lot of my time trying to get people to share their faith on social media, just by posting scripture or sharing Christian social media pictures.  You'd be amazed that almost no one is even willing to do that much.  

Evangelism is the number one concern of the church on Earth, it all hinges on sharing the message.  The Holy Spirit convicts, but God didn't commission the Holy Spirit to float through the air to evangelize.  He commissioned the twelve.  And he commissioned us.  It's our job.  It's of great urgency too.

That is only the beginning.  We also have to look at how we spend money.  And we have to look at the conveniences that we're so adjusted to.  We have to look at the time we spend in front of the television, and the time we spend on the computer.  We should inspect what we eat, and we should look at cutting down the list of conveniences and start directing our income to the needy.  If you're doing that now, great, if your not, pray on it, and start examining the budget.  Do we have wants on our "need" list?  It's a reasonable question.  We're very used to having it easy. 

Waking up from the dream world

There is a dream world and there is a real world.  The dream world is materialism.  The dream world is the mindset that just says keep chugging along, and never give a thought to why you exist.  The dream world cries "make money!"  and "be important!"  Those aren't Christian values, and they are in contradiction with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  

A lot of us operate on presuppositions that we haven't really thought about.  Those presuppositions go into all areas of our life.  They affect our spending, sex life, goals, job, mentality, our emotions, and our thinking. They affect everything.

We must examine ourselves candidly: Are we still operating on dead ideologies from the world?  Do we still live like someone who thinks there is no god?  Are we isolating parts of our lives that we don't want to turn over to Christ?  

Are there glaring, obvious problems?  Do we smoke cigarettes?  Do we watch pornography?  Do we drink excessively?  Do we use illegal drugs?  Do we use doctor prescribed drugs improperly?  Do we have sex with whoever we want, whenever we want?  Do we operate from a base system of entertaining and indulging ourselves constantly?  Are we just plain selfish?  

Seeing the presuppositions of our culture 

The presuppositions of our culture are pretty clear.  We've gone over them before.  It's usually a pretty vacuous existence.  It's generally people trying to find happiness, wealth, and prestige.  Those aren't necessarily bad things, when properly placed.  But when they are the central pursuit, they are empty endeavors, doomed to failure and disappointment.  The mindset is generally people walking around who don't know why they exist and they aren't particularly interested either.  Isn't that insanity?  It seems insane to me.  You don't even know why your here, your just kind of going through the motions?  Maybe you should see a psychiatrist about that.  But the psychiatrist would probably have the same mindset.  It's become endemic to our society.  

Our isolated mindset in the West

One of the hardest parts of waking up to the truth is realizing the state of things.  It's a dire situation.  But at least we can see it truthfully, instead of believing the lie that everything is fine, despite the evidence.  We get to see the truth about our planet.  We see that humanity is crippled, lost, caught up in wars, chaos, and sin.  It's hard to see that in the United States.  We tend to live in this bubble that tells us everything is fine, it's always been this way, and everything is getting better and everyone is basically good.  Have you had that mindset?  I know I have in the past.  

Unfortunately that false reality can't stand up to the raw facts:  The American good life is not eternal, it's only been since the past 40-50 years.  If you go back a bit further than that one can find economic depressions, world wars, genocides of races, corruption, poverty, and violence.  It continues today in many forms.  Think of human trafficking, which occurs widely in the USA.  Think of slum lords.  Think of the conflicts, poverty, diseases, and struggles across our planet.  No, the American good-life false reality does not stand up to history, the current world stage, or today's newspaper. 

The power of the organized Media

"All that is needed is that the world-view of the elite and the worldview of the central news media to coincide. One may discuss if planned collusion exists at times, but to be looking only for the
possibility of a clandestine plot opens the, way for failing to see a much greater danger: that many of those who are in the most prominent places of influence and many of those who decide what is news do have the common, modern, humanist world-view we have described at length in this book." -Francis Schaeffer, How Shall We Then Live?, page 240.

The media has the power to create culture.  Why?  Because the media can impact more people than ever before.  What was one of the main drivers of the American revolution? Pamphlets.  If pamphlets and newspapers could do that in 1775 imagine the power of the television media networks, the radio networks to a lesser extent, and that power extended to the internet super highway.

Yet when the internet boomed it opened two doors, one good and one bad.  The bad door is where a lot of bullying, hatred, vulgar humor, terrorism planning, and other sins flowed in.  These things became much more widespread and accessible from home.  Of course the worst madness of this door was the pornography industry and worse, child pornography flowing through to the minds of millions.  Truly a terrible situation.  

Yet I would say of equal or greater value is the second door, the good door: Coming through this door are dissenting views to the mainstream media narrative, art and cyber culture, humor, the capacity for the spread of good information, alternative political views, and most certainly a growing Christian awakening in the areas of Christian culture, Christian philosophy, Christian apologetics, and Christian social media evangelism.  In effect the internet's diverse voices, through blogs, websites, and social media platforms became a giant check and balance to the planned and pre-programmed media narrative, generated by the associated press and distributed by the major networks: Fox, CNN, NBC, etc.

Imagine if there was no internet.  This election cycle it would be Jeb Bush vs. Hillary Clinton.  Which comes to a key example of this check and balance on information, which was so desperately needed.  This election cycle things have changed substantially.  Establishment candidates are not carrying the support they did 8, 12, or 20 years ago.  The outsiders are beginning to rally real numbers, people like Dr. Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and on the Democrat side, Bernie Sanders.  The establishment still holds sway, but especially in the GOP there has been a seachange.  I believe Dr. Ron Paul inspired much of the shake ups toward true conservative principles.  Dr. Paul took on a stage full of neo-conservatives in 2008 and 2012.  Now today the stage is filled with true conservatives, and the Freedom Caucus is gathering support, led by Rep. Justin Amash who credits his entrance into politics as inspired by Ron Paul.  

Progressive movements & successes with guiding culture

Step by step from the post-world war II environment and beyond the culture of the United States has been drastically shifted.  It's been shifted away from traditional Christian values.  That is a serious problem, since moral values hold the framework of the country together.  The Constitution must give way to an authoritarian oligarchy if the people descend into ever increasing depravity, addiction, crime, and corruption.  We're seeing that happen today.  Even the most staunch progressive would, watching MTV or reality television, have to admit that our culture, art, and entertainment have descended into simplistic, depraved garbage.  It's pretty crazy, let's just be real.  One can't even go into too much detail regarding examples, music videos, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, this stuff is so obscene and disturbing it's unacceptable to even describe.  

Media and culture today are the outworking of a process that began in the 1950s.  People like Ravi Zacharias and Francis Schaeffer have written and spoke on the progression from a Christian culture to a secular progressive culture.  The secular movement really springboarded off the 1960s protests and hippie movements.  The movement led to a lot of skepticism being thrown at government, social norms, the family, and religious faith.  Evolution eventually replaced creationism in public schools.  The courts had outlawed the teaching of any religion aside from one: naturalism, an unprovable worldview based on presuppositions stationed for the purpose of circumventing the Christian worldview.  

Gen-exers really embraced the genuine cultural revolution.  Step by step organizations like the ACLU and the Freedom from Religion foundation began targeting and suing Christians who dared to share their faith in the public square, or witness to their faith while holding a public office.  The courts have struck down scores of legal charges raised by these organizations, but with the cultural shifts taking more solid form, the courts are beginning to shift their positions to more secular rulings.  

The Supreme court handed down a nightmare in Roe v. Wade, legalizing the extermination of unborn children in 1973.  The Supreme court has recently handed down a series of increasingly ugly, authoritarian dictates from on high, acting as "philosopher kings" to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

After the world trade center towers were destroyed by radical Islamic terrorists in 2001, the four horsemen of new atheism descended like black doves to explain how the actions of radical Islamic terrorists meant that Christianity had been found false, violent, and wanting.  The logic is a bit fuzzy for me, the connection there, but after 9/11 the mood seemed to be that religion had become bad.  In the past few years a religious persecution has begun, targeting Christian businesses, public servants, and leaders who refuse to endorse homosexuality and cater to the every whim of aggressive LGBT activists.  

Secular humanism seems to have taken charge in all key areas of academia, most notably in the sciences, medicine, and psychology.  Humanism has also made impressive inroads in government, leadership, and the business world.  

Today it has really become the leading worldview being taught.  I make that statement carefully.  I don't believe it to be the prevailing worldview of the general public of the United States.  Instead it is the worldview being forced upon a generally resistance public.  Polls have often indicated that the most common worldview in the USA is the Christian worldview.  Most are more skeptical about evolution than belief in God.  What the secular gen-exers really did was conquer the institutions of the country.  They set up shop in psychology.  They set up show in social work.  They set up shop in government and the legal system.  They quietly took over Christian universities, universities founded by Christians like Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Brown, and many others.  They then shifted those universities to increasingly secular, skeptic, and atheistic positions.  In history, archaeology, and of course the sciences, there is this quiet secularism forcing silence on the topic of religion and Christianity.  The attempt seems to be to evict it from discussion, from all public squares, from academia, and from the culture all together.  

"There is a death wish inherent in humanism–the impulsive drive to beat to death the base which made our freedoms and our culture possible." -Francis Schaeffer, How should we then Live? pg. 226

Christians engaging & guiding culture

Hand in hand with the mainstream media they manage to perpetrate a mood that is actually quite deceiving.  The mainstream media is excellent at making it appear that progressive and liberal views have basically won out in America.  And they are simply trying to root out the last old power points of the GOP, Christianity, and religious institutions.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  That view perpetrated by the media is a myth.  In fact a massive movement of Constitutional, conservative Christians are rising up, organizing on social media and in public organizations to begin to bring the United States back in line with Constitutional government, personal liberty, small government, free exchange of ideas, the end of political correctness, traditional marriage, respect for life, and is energized to drive out a progressive ruling elite entrenched in the mainstream media and political establishment.

It's a dangerous situation given the insane debt crisis (17 trillion dollars) as well as the curtailing of personal and religious liberties, rising inflation, the Federal reserve endlessly printing money, the oligarchy of the Supreme Court issuing dictates suppressing the rights of the states, and the list goes on and on.  But don't believe the media, don't believe these progressive newspapers that would have you believe that it can't be changed.  It can be changed.  It is being changed.  

Pray, pray hard, and keep believing.  We can retake our country from the special interest groups, big government builders, authoritarian neocons, and mainstream media pc-police. 

Standing up for the truth, without compromise

We need to shake off the programming, the false reality, and wake up to the truth.  What is the truth?  God is real.  Jesus Christ is really the Lord of every man, woman, and child on this Earth.  God does work in our world.  He answers our prayers.  We don't have to let these people scare us into silence.  We can speak out.  It means taking a risk.  It means probably getting called names like "racist" and "bigot" and "homophobe" and "sexist" and "insensitive."  But that's just ad hominem, an attack on the person intended to scare them into silence.  Don't let that slide and don't be afraid when they say those things.  Stick to your beliefs and keep sharing them.  Share them on social media.  Share them with your friends and family.  When trouble comes, when insults come, keep posting, keep sharing, and keep sending emails.  Keep speaking.  When they try to silence you, pray for them and keep speaking.  

"That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said.  As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”  Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
  -John 20:19-23 NLT

If other Christians scold you for sharing the truth from the word of God (and they will) ignore them.  They've been influenced by a secular ideology based on an unqualified view of love that is not biblical.  In short, love warns and they need to read their Bible more often.  Jesus called out sin!  Jesus spoke the truth without compromise!  Jesus was love, he was mercy, but he stood up for the truth.  Don't be afraid when Christians call you judgmental, tell them to read their Bible more often.  Help them to understand that Jesus came full of grace, yes, but he also came full of truth.  And he didn't mince words about sin.  

"Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." -Galatians 5:19-21 ESV 

Saving Western Civilization from total collapse

Is it too late for western civilization?  I don't think so.  Many might want to assume that these must be the end times, and America is destined to fall into destruction and be destroyed like Sodom.  I don't adhere to that.  Imagine how many different societies and nations have probably felt just the same.  Some thought Osama Bin Laden was the anti-Christ.  They said Hitler must be the anti-Christ during WWII.  Further back, they said it must be Napoleon.  Still further back, they feared emperor Nero was the awaited anti-christ and the end times were upon them.  But history continued every time.  I can't predict the future.  But I know God is good.  Pray hard, and pray often.  

Yet ultimately it could be said by a honest observer: "Upholding the United States, upholding a Christian culture isn't part of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Why focus so much effort and time on this cause of preserving a conservative Christian culture?" 

Well it's quite true that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the most important thing.  It's about sharing the gospel with one person at a time right?  Well, I would say that is how we view it today.  And I don't think that's a wrong view.  But the last command of Jesus Christ was to go to all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  He mentions baptizing people too.  But even before that he asks us to go to nations.  He wants us to redeem nations, and be salt and light to nations.  The gospel has spread across much of the Earth.  But it still has further to go.  The United States can be a beacon to the world, or it can fall into darkness.  Appeal to heaven brothers and sisters.  Take up this cause.  Peel the scales of the false reality from your eyes, and take up the cause of the gospel; the redemption of cultures in the name of Jesus Christ.  

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus is with you.  Go boldly, don't be afraid.  Christ is with you.  He is real.  And he will call all of us to account for our actions on this Earth.  What you do today will determine what you will say when you are standing before the risen, glorified son of man.  It's real.  It's the truth.  Believe, and plant daily for the day you meet Jesus Christ face to face.  Amen.  

Copyright the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, used with permission
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Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Reality Frozen in Anticipation: Moments of Truth... Wake me, Oh God

Source via Wikimedia Commons CC 3.0

"I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter." -C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, pg. 3 

There are moments in life when the webbing of our delusions lift, and we are able to see the truth unobstructed.  Oh so rarely do we get to see things in the fullness of how they really are.  Our preconceptions cloud situations.  Our minds cloud things.  Society, media, and culture encourage and build upon the misconceptions.  Can we see?  Can we be humble?  

Can I be teachable?  Oh humility, remain with me.  Let not pride take me to terrible places.  Pride is the most deadly enemy.  It wants to tell me sweet lies that shift my mind into dangerous places.  It wants to blind me with sugary lies about who I am and what I can do.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. -Proverbs 11:2.

So as I walk the empty autumn streets at nightfall I'm reminded of the beauty of a life found in the optimism of humility.  And in the presence of God.  But God was there with me on a thousand nightwalks before I called him my savior.  He was leading my mind along beautiful roads.  He was showing me awe inspiring imagery of wind blasted forests, cities stretching across valleys, bubbling rivers, star lit canvasses of trees, street, and black sky.  

There is a simple way to live in awe: Look up at the stars at night, for several minutes and just wonder.  And listen, listen to the wind blowing, the rain falling, and listen for the vacant wonder of star-filled nights.  The moon, the stars, and shooting stars triggering elation.  Oh my, Lord, oh my.  Can you feel it?  Can you feel it pouring over you?  Can you feel it vibrating through your very being?  If not, rest assured, you will.

The wonder of a moment of beauty, in the night, in the day, in nature or in the city, is a moment when the confusions fall away, the delusions fall away, and all is silent, without, within, and I am perceiving a truth beyond naming.  

My mind recoils against it.  An intense feeling of revulsion rises.  Yet I will not write it off, I will not discount it.  How could I?  

Look at that tapestry of the sky, the clouds floating by on any given day.  It's majestic.  It's awe-inspiring.  I've seen it a thousand times, but it always inspires me.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. -Ecclesiastes 3:11 

Autumn trees and autumn leaves dropping to the ground.  The smells of autumn triggering memories in my neocortex.  Memories of lost loves, memories of childhood, memories of broken afternoons, and memories meshed together into unnamed emotions.  

I could die on some of those days when I inhale the scent of leaves crusted to the dew ridden trail amid the cool of the day, but I must keep moving, wouldn't want to have an embarrassing moment in front of others.  Right? 

Frustrating, afterall I'm not a human doing, I'm a human being.  I dream dreams and I see visions.  I work hours, and I sleep.  I fall in love and make friends.  I smile in joy, I cry out in sadness.  All in the span of a few years.  Yet how can I endure?  How can I endure in this broken visage?  How can I endure in this darkly mirror?

As I walk through the supermarket I wonder at the thought that though I dream, I am not truly the dreamer, God is the dreamer, and I am his dream.  I'm the dream of God, as C.S. Lewis wrote.  Do you realize this?  Do your comprehend?  Your a dream!  God dreamed you up.  And as Gump said in Legend, "If life is a dream, best dread the waking."  

I've dreaded the waking.  As is written: The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.  Which I despised early on.  I don't want fear, I want love!  Yet trembling in the presence of God is useful.  Reverence is wise.  Worship is right, and joyous.  I couldn't understand that at first, but now I do.  God gives wisdom, ask him and you will understand.  He loves when we simply ask.

Life I suppose is the day dream of God, but it's a very real dream.  It's objective, universal, and fixed.  Yet it will all be changed.  It will be rebuilt.  All things will change, and will be brought into perfection.  You too my friend, will be perfected.  Are you ready?  Are you excited?  You should be.  Don't be afraid.  It will be grand. 

Think of this: The natural outworking of your faith is that you are part of a species devised by the mind of a timeless being who has no beginning or end.  You are a craft of a God who desired to create beings with a sliver of his own nature within all of them.  But, you, and I, are also a tangent craft.  We have gone our own way, and gone after many schemes.  We are as they say "fallen."

I'm not trying to badmouth humanity, so stay with me here.  

Think of the four seasons... autumn, the death.  Winter the frozen emptiness.  So warm, yet so cold.  Such a tender isolation.  Then spring, the new beginning, the birth.  The time of renewal.  And summer, the period of warmth, sunshine, and joy.  It mirrors of the descent and rise of man.  Paradise lost, paradise regained.  From death to life.  

It's a sort of feedback loop, God has frozen us in our fall.  He has frozen reality around us, in our own fall, to give us one last chance to be set to rightness.  But we cannot set ourselves to rightness.  Rightness takes Jesus Christ.  God holds out his hand all day to long to us, in this deep freeze of reality, offering a simple way to return to perfection (Romans 10:21, Revelation 21:1-5).  Because this existence, this tangent earth, in this tangent universe is destined for destruction, and for those who choose to refuse God's invite to rejoin him will face destruction with this frozen reality.  We have our escape, and God holds out his hand.  Now is the time, today, right now, not later.  Time is running out.  The clock is ticking.  God will not allow this tangent reality to continue indefinitely, he is right and good and holy and true to remake the universe into perfection once again.  And you with it.  If you could only see; unveil their eyes Lord, to see the truth of life, existence, and the universe.   

Reality itself is caught in this cycle, life on Earth is caught in this repeating loop.  It's kind of a staggering, crippled holding pattern for our planet, as existence waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God (Romans 8:19).  Life itself cries out.

What will the perfected reality look like?  How could we know?  We were born into the corrupted model.  It's all we've ever known.  When I sit, even for minutes, hours, over days I am unable to imagine a heaven.  My mind cannot conceive of it.  My mind much more easily conceives of hell than heaven.  Why would that be?  

It's like the Matrix movies, we were born into bondage.  We were born into a prison we couldn't see, taste, or touch.  For us that bondage is sin.  Our minds themselves are enslaved to a selfish notion, that sin is good.  We can do it ourselves sort of attitude.  I always tended to a subtle self destruction, why is that?  

Life and death, alpha and omega, the biggest questions of life.  The secrets held in locked doors, ancient doors that would not be opened.  But with the coming of a man named Jesus, Yeshua, those ancient doors were called to be opened (Psalm 24:7,9).

I so badly want to live out the real implications of my Christian faith.  I don't want it to be corny, superficial crap that I do on weekends, singing to glossy Christian rock at church on Sundays.  I want it to be real.  And it is real.  It's the truth about life.  But we're all so deluded and confused by this modern society.  It's got it's plugs in our arms, our legs, our ears, our eyes, and our mind.  We fight so hard to break free, but it so often has us.  

Truth, show me the truth!  I'm tired of this consumer lifestyle, I'm tired of these office hours.  I'm tired of staring down dark roads at night, sensing an eerie anticipation.

Wake up, oh, wake up.

Wake up my people and wake me, Lord.  Wake me.  Because I can't see.  I need my eyes cleared, because I am so blind.  How many scales must fall?  How many more days of these lies?  Why can I not see?  Show me Lord, cut me free of these bindings.  I want to see the truth.  I want to live from the truth, but I am blinded by this society, which I was raised up in from my earliest days.  From my first days, I've believed lies.  Show me the truth Jesus, show me the unencumbered truth.  

Why so fearful, oh my heart?  Why so empty, my bank account?  Why so expansive, my waist?  Why so filled with nonsense, my mind?  Why do I lack hope?  Why do I fear the enemies of our souls?  Why do I not find courage in his presence?  Why do I fall into sin again and again?  When oh when will this tragedy die?  When will existence be made right? 

My heart aches for it.  My mind cries out in silent, wicked bondage.  I'm set free in Christ.  Yet so wrapped up in worldliness.  My heart aches over the evil in the world.  My heart aches for the millions of children exterminated in abortion.  My heart aches for the lies in the high places.  My heart aches in my own personal situation, so taunt, so completely, its too much, set me free, I want to be free, I want to climb the air like an eagle, I want to run for miles and not grow weary.  

Every eye will see Jesus Christ, on the day of his return.  But I want to see him today.  I want to see the truth of life.  I'm tired, I'm weary of sin, I'm weary of incompleteness, and dogged work of the everyday office life.

And what of the rest?  The most agonizing thing, after being changed, renewed in Christ is to see old friends, addicted to drugs, lost on the road, and they cannot hear you.  For a thousand years I could sit down and share the truth with them, and they cannot hear.  They refuse to see.  It's heartbreaking, because they suffer.  They write words and sing songs expressing the aching of their souls, the confusion, the depth, the cries for meaning, but they are unwilling to come to the son of God for life.  They can't stand the thought of it.  

And oh irony.  Because I was just the same.  I couldn't hear it.  I didn't want to hear it.  I would have rather died than hear of the God of the Bible.  It made me sick to my stomach at the thought.  I hated it, I was angry, and I thought it was all judgment and legend!  Yet one day all of that changed.  My heart's rebellion ended, finally.  Imagine the cheers in heaven at that moment (Luke 10:15).  Maybe that was the rumbling I felt without and within (Ezekiel 3:12-14).  At that moment I was saved, when I cried out to Jesus Christ, the ground shook around me.  A beautiful moment.  I will never forget it.  

Our moments of clarity come time and again in life.  What I've learned is, we must act on them.  We must respond to the clarity we see.  We must not shrug it off.  We must begin to interact with it.  The inclination of the mind is to dismiss it and flee.  We must reject that reaction, and instead interact with the presence.  We must interact with the truth. Dare we tread a road of such far reaching implications?  Dare we tread a road that could change every assumption we have in life?  We must, and there is no turning back.  

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
-Revelation 21:5-8, 22:1-5 NIV 

Source via Wikimedia Commons CC 3.0
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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Facts on the Ground: Science, God, and the testimony of Great Thinkers

Hubble Telescope images used with permission thanks to

Hubble Telescope images used with permission thanks to

“Discoveries of the last half of the 20th century have brought the scientific community to the realization that our universe and our planet in the universe are so remarkably unique that it is almost impossible to imagine how this could have happened accidentally, causing many agnostic scientists to concede that indeed some intelligent creative force may be required to account for it.” –Dr. Walter Bradley, Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A & M University

Is it reasonable to believe in God?  Can we confidently believe?  This is a quick description of some of the keys to unlocking the truth hidden in plain sight.  

Science or God is a false choice.  Don't subscribe to that.  The Christian faith inspired some of the greatest scientists in history.  That continues today.  Is it reasonable to believe in God?  Based on a great deal of inquiry, into multiple disciplines and from the testimony of great men and women over the ages, I do believe it is highly reasonable to believe in God.

There are a lot of lies and distortions out there.  Don't believe it.  They try to push this agenda, that it has to be science vs. God.  But that is nonsense!  God and science are not in conflict.  People want to divide and conquer in that area though.  Be careful for the bias in the media, in the sciences, history, philosophy, and in culture all together.  Many of these quotes I'm sharing here do not fit the media narrative and the cultural narrative.

“Atheism is so senseless. When I look at the solar system. I see the earth at the right distance from the sun to receive the proper amounts of heat and light. This did not happen by chance."
Sir Isaac Newton

In my view the best argument for the existence of God is the argument from design.  It screams very loudly from every angle, from the smallest cells in our bodies to the galaxies surrounding the milky way.  Every small and large part of life testifies that God exists.  Why?  Because harmonious complexity does not come from random chance, it never has and it never will.  Entropy, and the second law of thermodynamics.

To illustrate the the argument from design: It's like admiring a beautiful painting, of a lush forest with great mountains in the background.  It's awe inspiring and magnificent.  As you walk nearer to inspect the design you start to spot the brush marks on the canvass where the artist, the painter, the designer, brought the painting to life.  In the same way, when we inspect the vast, incalculable complexity of the universe, and the cells of the human body, of nature, and the union of intersections all precisely tuned to allow for a natural order, we understand that we are seeing the paint brush strokes of a grand designer, we're seeing the handiwork of God himself.

“It's natural to be skeptical of a story like Noah. However, the greatest miracle in the Bible is not Noah and the flood. The greatest miracle in the Bible is recorded in the first verse: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." If that miracle is true, then every miracle in the Bible is at least possible (including Noah's Ark). If God created the universe, then He can do whatever He wants inside it.” –Frank Turek  

Quite parallel to the argument from design is the Kalam cosmological argument.  This argument basically indicates that something can't come from nothing.  Travel back with me to the birth of the universe.  The big bang if you believe in such a thing, where did it come from?  Who generated the explosion?  Nothing can't trigger a big bang.  The universe can't pop into existence from nothingness, it makes no sense.  The cosmological argument indicates that the best explanation for the existence of the universe is that a timeless, eternal, all powerful being created the universe.

To escape from this obvious conclusion atheist scientists will speculate that well, perhaps an infinite number of possible universes all exist at the same time in parallel dimensions and we just happen to be in the one where a perfect harmony was developed to allow for human life to flourish and sustain itself on a planet bearing natural plant life edible to humans with a perfect ecosystem to allow for life, plants, animals, and the planet itself all to sustain one another in a perpetuating circle of life.  

They call this the multiverse theory.  And the multiverse theory isn't just ridiculous, it's down right embarrassing.  First, it's purely speculative to suggest an infinite number of universes all exist.  There is no way to test such a theory.  Second, Occam's razor cuts it off immediately as being much too far fetched and exceedingly complicated.  It neglects a much more simple, and workable explanation: God.  Third, the theory engenders a logical fallacy called special pleading.  When cornered with a finely tuned universe, this is the special case scenario being entirely preposterous, is still suggested as an alternative to the elephant in the room: God.    

 “Is it really credible that random processes could have constructed a reality...which excels in every sense anything produced by the intelligence of man?” –Michael Denton

A God created the universe.  Fair enough, which God?  Let's look at the Bible.  Is it credible?  Is it really the word of God, inspired through the minds of men?  Is there evidence outside the Bible to testify to it's truthfulness?  

One area that testifies to the truth of the Bible is archaeology. 

“It is not too much to say that it was the rise of the science of archaeology that broke the deadlock between historians and the orthodox Christian. Little by little, one city after another, one civilization after another, one culture after another, whose memories were enshrined only in the Bible, were restored to their proper place in ancient history by the studies of archaeologists…The over-all result is indisputable. Forgotten cities have been found, the handiwork of vanished peoples has reappeared, contemporary records of Biblical events have been unearthed and the uniqueness of biblical revelation has been emphasized by contrast and comparison to the newly understood religions of ancient peoples. Nowhere has archaeological discovery refuted the Bible as history.” –John Elder, archaeologist (Quoted in Don Stewart, The Ten Wonders of the Bible, 1990, p. 58)

What about the Bible itself?  Is it reliable?  We must remember that many, if not most who expel skepticism at the biblical documents are working from an extreme bias against the supernatural.  They are defending their worldview, which is naturalistic.  Naturalism is the doctrine that the physical world and universe is all there ever was or will be.  It's entirely unproveable.  It's a worldview.  Is the Bible reliable?  Listen to the testimony of the experts:

“There exists no document from the ancient world witnessed by so excellent a set of textual and historical testimonies, and offering so superb an array of historical data on which the intelligent decision may be made. An honest [person] cannot dismiss a source of this kind. Skepticism regarding the historical credentials of Christianity is based upon an irrational bias.” –Dr. Clark Pinnock, Skeptics Who Demanded a Verdict, Josh McDowell, p. 84.

“It's ironic that Isaac Newton, discoverer of the laws of motion that were later used by others to attempt to contradict parts of the Bible, was one of its greatest defenders. He wrote several papers supporting the accuracy of the text and spoke out against the Biblical critics of his day.” –Ralph O. Muncaster, The Bible: Scientific Insights, p. 20. 

“Is the Bible the Word of God? Then let us all resolve from this day forward to prize the Bible more. Let us not fear being idolaters of this blessed book. Men may easily make an idol of the Church, of ministers, of sacraments, or of intellect. Men cannot make an idol of the Word. Let us regard all who would damage the authority of the Bible, or impugn its credit, as spiritual robbers. We are traveling through a wilderness: they rob us of our only guide. We are voyaging over a stormy sea: they rob us of our only compass. We are toiling over a weary road: they pluck our staff out of our hands. And what do these spiritual robbers give us in place of the Bible? What do they offer as a safer guide and better provision for our souls? Nothing! absolutely nothing! Big swelling words! Empty promises of new light! High sounding jargon; but nothing substantial and real! They would fain take from us the bread of life, and they do not give us in its place so much as a stone. Let us turn a deaf ear to them. Let us firmly grasp and prize the Bible more and more, the more it is assaulted....God has given us the Bible to be a light to guide us to everlasting life. Let us not neglect this precious gift. Let us read it diligently, walk in its light, and we shall be saved.” –J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)

“Born in the East and clothed in Oriental form and imagery, the Bible walks the ways of all the world with familiar feet and enters land after land to find its own everywhere. It has learned to speak in hundreds of languages to the heart of man. Children listen to its stories with wonder and delight, and wise men at its warnings, but to the wounded and penitent it has a mother’s voice. It has woven itself into our dearest dreams; so that love, friendship, sympathy, devotion, memory, hope, put on the beautiful garments of its treasured speech. No man is poor or desolate who has this treasure for his own. When the landscape darkens, and the trembling pilgrim comes to the Valley of the Shadow, he is not afraid to enter; he takes the rod and staff of Scripture in his hand; he says to friend and comrade, ‘Goodbye; we shall meet again’; and confronted by that support, he goes toward the lonely pass as one who walks through darkness into light.” –Henry Van Dyke (Quoted by Don Stewart, The Ten Wonders of the Bible, 1990, p. 9)

We have to be careful about the society around us.  In going to public schools and then attending the liberal university of Wisconsin colleges network I found that I was being indoctrinated into a worldview.  It was a worldview that encouraged skepticism toward the Bible and unquestioning faith in other areas, like liberalism, evolution, post-modernist philosophy, and many other areas.  I'm not saying those worldviews and ideologies are necessarily entirely fallacious, but I am indicating that I was taught a sort of devotion to them.  A devotion much like the devotion a Christian might have for his worldview.  

In my life I've found that I must peel away many misconceptions from my mind.  I must unlearn so many things that I've already learned.  I held an unwavering skepticism toward the Bible and an unwavering faith toward my own judgment and discernment.  I wanted life to be what I wanted it to be.  I ignored the truth.  Western society pushes a secular ideology at every turn.  You may not realize that many of the beliefs you hold are ingrained from a secular perspective not based on facts, but based on faith in naturalist presuppositions, and secular approaches to all disciplines of life, from psychology to family, to finances, philosophy, and of course science. 

I'll give you just one example out of many.  I was watching the History channel, an influencer of tens of millions of people, if not more.  On the show I was watching they were trying to show how the events in the Bible could be explained by scientific means.  When I clicked onto the channel they were discussing the star the wise men followed to find the recently born Jesus Christ in Bethlehem.  The historians, scientists, and archaeologists on the show were trying to show that perhaps the "star" they saw was a meteor or some sort of trick of light based on science.  See, they know the biblical accounts are historically reasonable, but they must absolutely refuse any reference to the supernatural.  Later they were discussing the escape of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt.  They were trying to explain that perhaps the river become clogged further upstream creating a sand bar along the water so they could pass over safely.  I kept wondering, why won't they consider the possibility of a supernatural occurrence?  The screen switched to an speaker who indicated that the text says Moses called upon God to make the waters split, but "that's a fantasy."  And I wondered, how do you know it's a fantasy?  You've provided no proof that it's a fantasy.  You've indicated no evidence that the supernatural is impossible.  You've simply acted on an unfounded presupposition that the supernatural is impossible.  Which is unacceptable, especially when your giving off an air of objectivity. 

“The excessive skepticism of many liberal theologians stems not from a careful evaluation of the available data, but from an enormous predisposition against the supernatural.” –Millar Burrows, former Yale University Professor 

“All I am in private life is a literary critic and historian, that's my job...And I'm prepared to say on that basis if anyone thinks the Gospels are either legends or novels, then that person is simply showing his incompetence as a literary critic. I've read a great many novels and I know a fair amount about the legends that grew up among early people, and I know perfectly well the Gospels are not that kind of stuff.” –C. S. Lewis

Have you ever heard that before?  "The Bible is just a book of legends."  The only problem with that statement is it's completely false.  The Bible is accepted by the vast majority of historians as reliable accounts of historical events.  Explain that one to an atheist, they will go crazy.  They don't like to bring up history though, or science for that matter.  Unless of course it's in relation to a strawman of the Christian faith, matched with a false dichotomy of religion vs. science. 

“It is generally the man who is not ready to argue, who is ready to sneer.” –G.K. Chesterton, as quoted in The Christian Research Journal, Vol. 32, No. 1, 2009, p. 44. 

In conclusion, there is strong, powerful evidence for faith in the God of the Bible.  The testimony stretches from presidents, to nobel prize winners, to the best scientists of history, and to some of the greatest minds today.  They all indicate that the God of the Bible is real.  There are excellent arguments, like the cosmological argument and the argument from design.  You may rest assured that Jesus Christ is Lord, and he is alive today.  You may rest assured that the Bible is the word of God, and we may place all our trust in the God who cares for us and keeps us in his protection until the day of Christ Jesus.  Amen. 

“Therefore, when a person refuses to come to Christ it is never just because of lack of evidence or because of intellectual difficulties: at root, he refuses to come because he willingly ignores and rejects the drawing of God's Spirit on his heart. No one in the final analysis really fails to become a Christian because of lack of arguments; he fails to become a Christian because he loves darkness rather than light and wants nothing to do with God.” –William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, p. 35-36.

Hubble Telescope images used with permission thanks to

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Five Videos from 2015 that will Change your Perspective

Source: image search for CC photos.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."      -Margaret Mead

There are some incredible people in this world, with incredible stories.  They have mind-shaking views that challenge us to think differently.  They challenge us to see the world differently.  These are people who help us to see the truth, despite our own narrow views.  

Enjoy these thought provoking videos taken of game changers today who are sharing views that challenge us to see the world, politics, government, life, society, and God from different perspectives.

1. Gianna Jessen's Testimony before the House Judiciary Committee
Featuring Gianna Jessen
Originally aired September 11th 2015

2. Ben Carson speaks to the Media
Featuring Dr. Ben Carson
Originally Aired October 10th 2015

3. Ted Cruz: American people want traditional marriage | "Glenn Beck Program"  

Featuring Ted Cruz and Glenn Beck

Originally aired July 2nd 2015 

4. Unlimited? The Challenge of Human Freedom

Featuring Ravi Zacharias and Os Guinness

Originally aired June 18th, 2015

5. Ben Carson speaks in Anaheim, California
Featuring Dr. Ben Carson
Originally aired September 19th 2015

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Honoring God with our Eating: Sugar, Heart Disease, and Church Potlucks

Do you know what the leading cause of death is in the United States?  Could it be murder?  Or drug addiction or alcoholism?  Perhaps it might be car accidents, or cancer?  If you said any of these items, you would be incorrect.

The leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control is heart disease (2013)(source).  According to Mayo Clinic, heart disease is caused primarily by poor diet, being overweight, and smoking (source).

Cancer, which came in second in the CDC data (2013) may also be related to low physical activity, poor diet, and being overweight.  7th on the CDC list was diabetes, which is also related to eating problems and poor diet.  

This is something that is really seen as a non-issue in Christian communities.  It amounts as little more than a joke.  People joke about it.  People laugh about their poor eating habits.  And it causes a lot of health problems.  Considering the incredible negative effects of over-eating one would think this would be a prime issue in Christian theology and preaching.  But it isn't.  In fact I could probably comfortably say that 90% of those reading this post have never heard a word preached on healthy eating.

Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.  -Proverb 23:20-21 ESV

Have you ever noticed that sugar is in almost everything we eat?  Have ever noticed how children are started on sugar from a very young age?  Did you know that sugar is addictive?  Did you know it's more addictive than many street drugs?

It's amazing that heart disease kills so many, yet healthy diet is never discussed.  We need to have a discussion as the body of Christ on this issue of eating healthy.  And I believe we need to set a good example by adjusting our own eating personally.

It's very typical to see an area of lavish deserts at any almost any church gathering.  But most of these deserts are quite damaging to our bodies.  They clog our arteries and cause weight gain.

It's time we have a conversation on healthy eating.  Given how many die of it yearly in the United States, it should be much higher on the list.  And as church congregations age, which is taking place now, the issue of physical health will become more and more crucial.  Heart disease is an epidemic, cancer is a growing epidemic, and so is diabetes.  And these killers are preventable by healthy eating. 

Let's talk food, exercise, and healthy eating.  What do you think?  What would this discussion look like?  What is the correct approach?  

Education is a very simple first step.  Many people, especially young people simply don't understand the importance of healthy eating.  I think it's important for church leaders to set the example in what they serve.  I think it's important to encourage people to cut back on deserts.  I think it's also very important to stop constantly feeding children sugar.  It's no wonder so many are being diagnosed with issues like ADHD and ADD.  They're overdosed on sugar.  

Should the church of Christ be encouraging organic-only eating?  Should the church of Christ be exposing the issue of genetically modified foods(GMOs)?  Should Christians be researching the health impact of asparatame and other chemicals commonly found in everyday foods?  And what about fast food, like McDonalds, Burger King, and other chains that serve such deadly food?  What should the Christian church do and say in response to these issues?

How can the body of Christ encourage good stewardship of our bodies?  How can churches set the example by serving healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables?  Let's talk more about healthy eating. 

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your[a] food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”
11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. Daniel 1:8-16 (NIV)