Saturday, October 29, 2016

Five Presentations on Atheism, Chinese Persecution, Evidence for God and Abortion Arguments

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" -Hosea 4:6.  

To be robust Christian activists, warriors for Christ in the culture we must constantly be fighting for the truth on the very pioneers of truth and knowledge.  We must meet people where they are with the timeless truths of scripture and the life of Jesus Christ.  We can do this by constantly expanding our knowledge.  

What is happening in the world?  What are the latest events?  What do young people, millennials believe today?  What are the best arguments for atheism?  What are the best arguments for theism?  What about abortion?  And what of the persecuted church?  How can we reach the young with the gospel?

It is our responsibility to stay at the forefront of world events and at the forefront of knowledge.  Only then can we counter every argument that sets itself up against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5).  Stay blessed friends, keep fighting, though it looks bad now, our hard work day and night in our culture and society will plant that seeds that fuel the future transformation of our society in the hope and power of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  

Enjoy, and share!

1. The Atheist Delusion Movie
Featuring: Ray Comfort
Producer: Living Waters 
Description: This whole post is largely to showcase this new documentary by Ray Comfort's ministry.  The Atheist Delusion is a must see movie.  Definitely watch it and share it with everyone you know.

2. Christian Persecution in China Documentary
Featuring: Persecuted Christians in China
Producer: Unknown
Description: This is a very eye opening documentary.  We live in such a cloistered world in the United States.  But not too far from us, Christians are being persecuted and murdered for their faith in Christ.  Bridge your awareness, learn about and support the persecuted ones.

3. Is there Evidence for God? 
Featuring: William Lane Craig & Kevin Sharp
Producer: The Veritas Forum 
Description: The Veritas forum facilitates discussions between Christians and atheists, as well as naturalists and agnostics to discuss the reason for God.  William Lane Craig is an excellent apologist, definitely follow his work.

4.  Is Jesus God? Excerpt from documentary "Mining for God"
Featuring: Lee Strobel, W.L. Craig, Gary Habermas, et al.
Producer: Mining for God 
Description: Mining for God is a documentary I really believe in.  It's a great presentation of the robust evidence for the Christian worldview.  Unfortunately it hasn't reached as many as I've hoped, so please share clips from the documentary on social media.  It's a must see for non-believers.

5. "180" Movie
Featuring: Ray Comfort
Producer: Living Waters
Description: This is a great documentary of interviews and discussions with young people mainly, attempting to help millennials understand the sanctity and value of human life.  Specifically the topic of abortion is addressed. Check it out and share it with others!

Related Posts:
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  5. Believing in the Miraculous: The Work of Jesus Christ on the Cross
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  8. No Evidence for God?
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Friday, October 28, 2016

The Top 10 Reasons Why I Love The Salvation Army

CC 2.0 via Flickr
You may or may not know that the writer of this blog, me, Mr. Justin Steckbauer is a soldier and officer-candidate in The Salvation Army.  Though this is my personal blog, and the views on it are mine alone.  What is The Salvation Army?  What do they do?  I'd like tell you the top ten reasons why I love the Salvation Army!  Enjoy. 

10. Vocational extremism - These reasons are not in any particular order, but I would probably place this near #1 if I could.  There are no half measures in the army, there are no token efforts, there is ministry to the extreme.  This lifestyle of very straining, it is certainly not for everyone, but it is missional in the starkest terms.  It means serving with your entire life, meeting needs, and reaching those with the gospel without compromise. 

9. Adult Rehabilitation Centers - millennials like myself, well, we're a bunch of a potheads, pill poppers, and drinkers.  It's a growing trend in our culture, from huge cities to tiny sea side communities like Escanaba.  Young people are literally dying in the streets, overdosing on drugs like heroin, morphine and oxycontin.  One could say meth has gone viral in our communities, dominating the lives of untold millions, slaughtering them over time.  Who will rally to meet this challenge?  The Salvation Army of course (along with many others).  It's a relevant, today, now, sort of challenge and I love that the Army is taking it head on.  

8. Jail Ministry - Have you ever gone into a jail and preached the gospel?  It's something you'll never forget.  It's a place where the gospel can be heard and should be heard.  "Visit those who are in prison" right?  Jesus told us to do it, and we do it.  I can't explain it, I just can't, find some way to get in and do it yourself.  You'll see what I mean.  

7. Biblical emphasis - There could be the temptation for the Salvation Army to drift away from the gospel and simply slip into being just another charity that does social services.  Not so!  The Christian mission of the Salvation Army remains strong and vibrant.  Secular?  Not at all. It's gospel, biblical, evangelical Christianity.  

6. The Lost art of mentoring relationships - Having an older, more experienced individual speak into your life is a blessing beyond measure.  It's become a lost art in communities, in the church, but not so in the Salvation Army.  I've been mentored by some great, towering figures of the faith.  This process is built into the structure of the Army, yet it also happens organically.  There are times when you want to give up, because it's so hard, and so much is coming at you.  But when someone speaks into your life, encourages you, and tells you that they're proud of you, it makes all the difference.  The wisdom imparted is amazing.

5. Feeding the hungry - This is something we've learned to take for granted in the United States.  Everyone has food, no one need starve.  How did that happen? The generosity of churches and charities like the Salvation Army.  Nope, it wasn't the government redistributing your tax dollars.  It was and always had been churches and charities.  The Salvation Army corps across America tend to always have a monthly or weekly food basket program and a kitchen that serves meals open to the community free.  The corps I've served at, have had meals at least five times a week.  An interesting statistic in my area of Salvation Army work, is that 80% of those come and collect a monthly food basket only do so once and never return.  In other words, far from creating dependency, people come rarely and only when in need. 

4. Homeless Shelters - It's amazing how we take stuff like this for granted.  We always just assume that in most cities homeless will have access to shelters.  Isn't it amazing that in most of the 1st world that is the case?  And in much of the 3rd world, that is not the case.  But more so than ever, facilities are being created by organizations like the Salvation Army and Compassion International.  We take it for granted, but it wasn't always that way.  Not so long ago, many homeless froze to death during winters.  Thanks to the Salvation Army probably more so than any other organization, there are thousands of homeless shelters in the United States.  I know, I worked at one.  And it's an amazing experience to work with people and see their lives changed.

3. Women-empowering - Women are quite capable and effective at sharing the gospel.  The Salvation Army is quite aware of this, and empowers women to lead in the ministry work of saving souls from eternal lostness.  Women are strong and effective leaders in the Salvation Army, just as much as men, which is a wonderful thing.  One of the best parts about Salvation Army officership is that man and wife serve together side by side as war leaders in the battle for Christ; Could anything be more romantic?  Didn't think so. 

2. Quasi-Military Structure - Funny interesting fact, the quasi-military structure of the Salvation Army probably led to the insistence at one time by the Russian government TSA was an actual army and a threat to their civil government.  Thankfully those insinuations were finally dropped when Russia came to understand that TSA just wanted to be a blessing to their poor and needy. An arms dealer once said that he'd sold guns to every army in the world but the Salvation Army.  The military structure of the Salvation Army is one of it's key strengths.  It makes it more than just a fluffy religious order.  It's an army, a bold offensive force on a mission.  

1. Red Kettle season - It's a central staple of Christmas culture in the United States, the red kettle bell ringers.  Red kettle season is a magical time of chaos and glory in the Salvation Army.  There is nothing quite like it.  The red kettles are right in your face.  The Salvation Army had the gall to request to ring right in front of major grocery and convenience stores.  Who could believe it?  Imagine the rage of the secular and atheistic groups in the United States?  But the Salvation Army has always pushed the limits and insisted on engaging the culture in a real way, with open air meetings, knocking on doors, parades, and community outreaches.  That's the wonderful thing about it, we're part of the community, not apart from it. 

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Was God just to destroy Sodom & Gomorrah? Or is God a moral monster?

CC 2.0 via Flickr
Reading the historical accounts in the Old Testament, from thousands of years ago I sometimes ask myself: Could this really be true?  Isn't this too fantastic?  I have my doubts, just like anyone else.  But there is something intriguing about these ancient sagas.  God manages to amaze when we inquire.  We can certainly throw up our arms intellectually and say, 'preposterous.'  But if we actually reach out with a bit of faith, a bit of inquiry and begin to study these things... well that humility can take us to the truth.

Let's look at one account, the account of Abraham and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  This is a classic account.  It's culturally relevant.  We know these terms, even if we aren't theologians.  God sends fire and brimstone and down upon this city of completely innocent bystanders.  Then again, not really.  But God destroys a full city of people, thousands, a city renowned for it's evil ways in the ancient world.  

All of us, most of us are thinking one thing as we read these words: How could God do this?  How could he slaughter all these people?

Now, if this was a legendary account that issue would probably not come up.  Why?  Because it might discredit the account.  But just as I'm thinking those questions Abraham asks God a question.

22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord. 23 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
26 The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” Genesis 18:22-26 NIV

Abraham keeps lowering the number of people who theoretically could be in the city that might be righteous.  The angel of the Lord continues to respond, that if there are only a few who are righteous in the city, he will spare the entire city on their account.  Ultimately, God is explaining to Abraham, and to us today, that he isn't cavalier in his decisions.  He doesn't destroy the righteous along with the evil.  He destroyed that city because 100% of the people in it were evil to the core.  

The people of Sodom and Gomorrah routinely committed child sacrifice.  Rape was common. All sorts of sexual perversions.  All kinds of evil were taking place in this city.  They rightly deserved to be punished, just as if someone raped and murdered your own mother, you'd want them tried, sentenced, and convicted.  

That offends our modern sensibilities of course.  If so, so be it.  I find it so fascinating though, that Abraham asks the question that we're all asking at that moment.  "Is this fair?"  God's succinct answer is,"yes."  

The hardest thing in the universe for us to accept is divine accountability, the fact that we are liable for our daily behavior to God almighty.  I know, my mind fights it too.  It's because the poles have been reversed in reality through the fall of man.  Instead of us working from the precept that God is sovereign, which is the factual reality, instead we operate from the inverted perspective that we are sovereign, and instead we fly back into the face of God and attempt to judge his actions.  We look at the troubles of the world, decrying God's goodness in the face of such evil.  But God didn't do those evil things, humanity did.  And when he corrects things, through his holiness and divine justice on people who act in evil, we instead blame God and try to judge God.  The poles are reversed.  Instead of judging God, we should try to understand that our perspective is limited, God's perspective is eternal, and he judges us, because he's qualified in every way to do so, and we don't have to judge God's actions, we can trust that he is perfect, and holy, and true.  We don't understand now, but we will understand later.  That doesn't encourage your thought, as Gandalf might say, but it's the truth.

Again and again Jesus said, "I'm telling you the truth."  The world lies to us day and night.  Jesus cuts through all that with a very hard truth: That the son of God had to come into the world to receive for us exactly what Sodom and Gomorrah received justly for their excessive sins.  Jesus came to be the offering for us, to take our punishment, and wipe away our debt of sins and give us eternal life.  The holiness of God and the fear of God can help us to comprehend this mystery.  

"Worthy is the Lamb" artistic depiction cc 2.0

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  9. God of Love, God of Justice: A Future Heaven, a Future Hell
  10. How to Pray Authentically: The Four Position Prayer
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Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Glory of God: Cosmos, Biology, Nature & Optical Phenomenon

Photograph of the Aurora Borealis in Anchorage, AL cc 2.0
Message Audio:

Moses said to God, “Please show me your glory.” -Exodus 33:18

Every moment, literally, is filled with the glory of God. Here in our little lives we get to experience some of the glory of God. But we experience it everywhere, if we’ll tune our minds and hearts to it. I see the glory of God everyday, if I have the right eyes to see it. When I’m at work, I experience it in others. When I’m at the nursing home volunteering I see it. When I’m at home, and I look at my cats, I’m seeing a little piece of the glory of God. When I look at the stars at night I'm seeing God's glory.

The glory of God is most certainly beyond our full conception. But, we can perceive some of it. But what exactly is the glory of God?

John Piper, a prominent theologian of our time defines it like this: “the glory of God is the holiness of God made manifest.”

The glory of God is the manifestations of God’s greatness, beauty, and wonder. It is the awe inspiring effect of His mysteries. The glory of God is the effect of his holiness and infinite nature. 

In fact the scriptures themselves display the glory of God. Yet God’s glory is also present in the natural world.

The word of God says, “The Heavens declare the glory of God.” I certainly think that’s true. When we look up at the sky at night, or at the sunset, or the sunrise, we are admiring a piece of God’s glory.

For ages man looked up at the stars and wondered. In our age, they built telescopes, like the Hubble and have taken magnified photos of far off galaxies.

Like this one. They aimed the Hubble telescope toward the center of our galaxy, and took this photo. The heavens declare the glory of God. God gives us a look at his glory when we look at the stars and galaxies.

Here is another photo aimed toward a different region of our galaxy. God made this. It’s out there right now, a massive reflection of God’s glory. This cluster of forming stars is much larger than our entire planet, or even our entire solar system. An image of God’s glory, describing just how much higher his ways are than our ways. Our ways focus on our home, workplace, the city we reside in, maybe even national news and some deeper thoughts, but the mind of God deals not in cities or countries, or even in entire planets. God’s thoughts span star systems, galaxies, nebula, and dimensions beyond our comprehension. 

Here’s another photo. These are all photographs, not doctored in anyway, simple snapshots. Could this be a Hubble telescope photo of some far away galaxy? Nope. This is in fact a photograph of brain cells, the little engines in your brain, taken by a microscope.

In fact, you yourself are a manifestation of the glory of God. Your body, the structure of your being, your anatomy and physiology are reflections of the glory of God. They are manifestations of his creative genius and propensity to develop beautiful and harmonious structures in the world. You are a creation of God. In fact, you are a dream in the mind of God.

Habakkuk 2:14 ESV says: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”

Scientists have been increasingly realizing that the universe we exist in seems to be an artificial reality. Some astronomers speculate that the universe is being artificially projected from black holes, because the event horizon of black holes is actually 2 dimensional. Almost like a projector screen. These scientists are now directing more and more of their efforts to trying to “break out” of this artificial universe. Additionally, as scientists look deeper and deeper into cells, they find that the resolution of the universe itself isn’t high enough for them to look any deeper. In other words, its like examining a painting close up and you start to notice the brush strokes of the painter.

And I have to laugh. They recognize that the universe appears to be a designed reality. They recognize that something has put it all together. But they are so obsessed with resisting the notion of a creator, of God, that they have to resort to thinking we live within some sort of videogame reality that they need to break out of.

We fight so hard as humans to escape the inevitability of divine accountability. Yet once we go through that wormhole, we find the very meaning of life and the ultimate purpose of our existence. It’s worth the price.

This is a microscope photograph, via Discovery Magazine of an enzyme produced by your body, called insulin. My goodness when I first came across this photo and stared at it, at the shape of the insulin crystals, I was aghast.

I had to mockingly ask myself the question: Does that look designed!? Of course it does. It looks intelligently generated in the starkest terms. Those crystals are produced by your body, automatically! It is absolute madness to suggest some sort of evolutionary route over billions of years to get this sort of ordered complexity. Madness. Insulin is designed by the creative and scientific genius of God almighty. Nothing could be more obvious, yet nothing is more intellectually resisted. That’s in your body right now, regulating your sugar levels, ensuring the most precise balance to sustain your internal organs and blood functioning. Evolved indeed, such silliness! 

One of the most sacred reflections of God’s glory we see here. This is a human embryo, 3 days old. Simply astounding. Glory to God. This is someone’s baby picture. That was you, just after conception. A clump of cells or a sacred human life?

Whether by the telescope or the microscope, life itself declares the glory of God.

The scriptures say in Revelation 4:1-6: “Then as I looked, I saw a door standing open in heaven, and the same voice I had heard before spoke to me like a trumpet blast. The voice said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after this.” 2 And instantly I was in the Spirit, and I saw a throne in heaven and someone sitting on it. 3 The one sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones—like jasper and carnelian. And the glow of an emerald circled his throne like a rainbow. 4 Twenty-four thrones surrounded him, and twenty-four elders sat on them. They were all clothed in white and had gold crowns on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning and the rumble of thunder. And in front of the throne were seven torches with burning flames. This is the sevenfold Spirit of God. 6 In front of the throne was a shiny sea of glass, sparkling like crystal."

Notice the rainbow is mentioned as part of this incredible description of God’s throne in heaven. Maybe it looks something like this.

I remember I would look up at the rainbows I’d see as a child and I’d be filled with wonder. Then as I began going to school I recall they tried to give us textbook “Scientific” definitions of the rainbow. Something to do with natural gases and blah blah blah. They always do that don’t they? They try to find some way, some reason to take the wonder from life. They try to explain everything away, until we’re nothing but materialist meat puppets fulfilling evolutionary Darwinistic desires for propagation and survival. Science is wonderful is how it can analyze our world, and help make our lives easier. But when science moves into the area of philosophy and starts trying to define the meaning and purpose of all life, it fails to produce accurate results. The rainbow is a reflection of God’s glory, and his promise.

But perhaps the greatest manifestation of God’s glory is in Jesus Christ our savior. The scriptures say: “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” -Hebrews 1:3 ESV.

Jesus himself, in his infinite glory holds the universe together.

I couldn’t help but think of that scripture when I came along this photo. This is a photo of an optical phenomenon often referred to as “glory.” Though scholars debate how exactly this phenomenon forms, it has something to do with the rays of the sun interacting with water particles in the atmosphere.

Yet maybe it gives us a little glimpse of the idea of what it means for Jesus Christ to hold the universe together by the word of his power.

Bu it’s interesting how scientists tend to make discoveries that support the word of God. In fact Scientists in the past 20 years discovered the Higgs-Boson particle, a particle that literally holds the universe together, and allows for mass. It quickly garnered the nickname “the God particle.”

Indeed the natural world is full of magnificent sights that fill us with awe and amazement. This is a photograph of the largest hot spring in the United States. It’s simply amazing. In fact, as I gathered these photos together for this presentation, I found myself increasingly haunted by the fact that despite being such disparate representations of creation, from galaxies to brain cells to rainbows and the natural world, the thought kept coming to my mind that they all look quite similar in aesthetics. As if they were all designed by the same artist.

Our job today, tomorrow, and everyday is to live like Jesus. And to live for Jesus. Jesus being number one. And in so doing, we become like sun, the moon, the stars, nature, animals, and the very cells in our bodies, we become walking manifestations of the glory of God.

So we are called to reflect the light of the son of God. In fact, when are saved, reborn, regenerated by Jesus Christ our Lord he actually comes and lives within us, and we become his hands and feet on Earth.

Colossians 1:27 says regarding this: “To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

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

So we see that God makes his glory known through the creation. And we see that God makes his glory known through Christ in us.

And finally, we see that in the future we will see the ultimate representation of God’s glory in the eternal city of heaven. When we move past the veil of tears, and our lives end here, we will awake in glory, in the eternal city prepared by Christ for us.

Revelation 21:23 says “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” In our coming reward, our coming eternity, for all time, our future coming existence, which will never end, will be a place lit by the full glory of God. We will see the full glory of God himself, and live within the eternal bask of our creator’s wondrous glow. And in the lamp light of our savior Jesus Christ. Our destiny is to live within the glory of God, the expansive, incredible, joyous glory of God.

Ultimately when we talk about the glory of God, we’re talking about living in the presence of God. The glory of God is what the joy of heaven is. It is living in the joy of seeing God at all times. And living in full peace, becoming so much more than we are now. It is the full coming into the fullness of what we are as people, made in the image of God, restored, having given glory to God, now welcomed into joyousness, the presence of God. We get little tastes of the glory of God, the joy of God today as we carry the gospel and love others, but in our eternal future we shall experience the full glory of God, beyond anything we can fully comprehend. And we ought to look forward in great hope for that day.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

10 Awesome Political Videos that Cut through the Lies

Politics is the art of seeing through the lies and to the truth of any given situation. This is never easy. There are layers to each issue, there are talking points put out by candidates, and then there is the reality of the situation. There are often distortions and half truths mixed in. In many situations politicians will say one thing and do the opposite once in office. Many times an issue is displayed from a certain perspective to make a course of action seem appealing, but in reality this is an attempt at deception. It's very tough for us as everyday americans to see through the lies and recognize the truth. But I hope I can help, by sharing videos like these, from people who speak truth to power. Enjoy.
1. Mark Levin: Do we need a new Republican party?

2. FRC Action Party Platform

3. D'Souza has a word for Christians not Voting this November

4. Clinton Cash, the documentary

5. Supreme Consequences: Good Judge, Bad Judge

6. What is the Future of America?

7. Trey Gowdy slams Obama's senior advisor

8. PragerU - Can you trust the Press?

9. Nigel Farage ends Hillary Clinton

10. Hannity analyzes the Wikileaks Email Dump

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Friday, October 14, 2016

God Loves a Lost Cause: Mainstream Media Power & the Burgeoning New Media Movement

The symbol of leftist media bias, the New York Times headquarters, via Wikipedia.
To me it seems like the mainstream media has been able to steal another election for the Democratic party.  The same thing seems to happen every election cycle.  I used to be in the dark about this little arrangement.  I used to jeer the very suggestion of liberal mainstream media bias, but usually right after we'd get done jeering we'd wink to each other.  Or smirk while reading an article on CNN or NBC, noticing a clear bias, but being pleased to ignore it since it was for our team. Well, then one day you wake up and realize you were indoctrinated into the wrong team.  

If academia, the scientific community, the mainstream media, celebrities, and late night talk shows have all aligned to tell me to vote Democrat against the evil GOP, well, I might just be a little brainwashed.  Amazing how one can feel edgy and alt on a college campus by supporting the politicians supported by everyone else on campus, television, teachers, and media pundits.  Very interesting, very interesting.

So we've found ourselves a few weeks from the big day when Donald Trump loses to Hillary Clinton, or so the media tells us.  The polls don't look too good though.  It's a difficult situation.  To grit one's teeth and vote for the outrageous blundering Donald Trump, well, that isn't an easy prospect.  Many are turning to Gary Johnson, some are turning to a guy named Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party, and still others are looking to Evan McMullin of Utah.  

Some of the establishment GOP are saying they intend to vote for Hillary Clinton.  Yes, they are that terrible.  It's truly amazing the lows that the establishment will go to.  Clearly, they are more leftist than conservative.  I'm sure very few are surprised.  

I'm really quite perturbed with people like Glenn Beck, Ben Shapiro, the Federalist, and the Resurgent. It's tough because these are basically the people who are the core inner circle of my political beliefs.  They represent exactly what we need, exactly the kind of zeal and principle we need to retake America.  These folks are in fact my team in every respect.  I'll be honest, I'm one of the original, earliest members of the Never Trump movement right when it started during the primaries, when it was between Cruz, Trump, and that little snail-like creature they call "John Kasich."  But I just can't abide the way these folks keep trying to undercut Donald Trump.  If you aren't going to vote for Trump, well that's fine, but do you have to be out there day in and day out trashing him?  Do you have to spend every day manically attacking Trump?  For what reason?  To do everything possible to slander and attack him?  I don't like him either.  In fact I despise Trump.  But I agree with Mark Levin's argument, this isn't about me, this isn't about me being right, this is about the future of the country.  These folks like to undercut the idea that this election is critical, saying you know they say that every election. Well maybe so, but the facts are clear, this election is critical, we are at a fundamental turning point.  The Supreme Court, they try to undercut that argument, but it's a solid argument. These leftist activist judges will take the 1st amendment, the 2nd amendment and much more.  They openly declare as much. Is that hard to understand?  No, it's quite clear.  In addition, if open borders continues, with illegal immigrants crossing the border, being pushed toward red states, well, soon the country will be unrecoverable.  It's not about you, your ego, or even your hatred for what Trump represents.  Put your country before your reputation.  

That's my thought on that.  Trump is a catastrophe, his comments about women are despicable.  But his policies and positions are reasonable in quite a few areas.  His tax plan is solid.  His SCOTUS picks are solid.  He's surrounding himself with people like Pence. The GOP platform is firmly conservative.  Will Trump follow it? I have no idea.  But I know exactly what Hillary will do.  And anyway, these people who refuse to vote Trump were willing to pull the trigger for people like John McCain and Mitt Romney, people who have supported the most radically high spending in the Senate, the most radical progressive agendas, they've rubber stamped and gone along with, with people like Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid.  Your telling me Donald Trump is worse on policy than those low lifes?  Maybe you don't fully understand what goes on in our House and Senate.

So we've got problems on our team, within the conservative movement.  But I firmly believe that conservatism is making a huge comeback.  We've seen wonderful things coming together, we really have.  We are seeing young people increasingly identifying themselves as conservative and libertarian.  We are seeing an increasing push back against the failed policies of the progressive left. We saw AFA and FRC fighting and WINNING the battles for the Republican platform at the RNC, creating the most conservative platform we've seen in recent history.  We still have that toad Rhence Priebus gathering untold power to himself and his office at the RNC, but in time we'll deal with him.  

We've seen principled folks, everyday americans, and Christians getting involved in politics again.  We've seen Reagan conservatives, Tea Party, evangelical voters, old guard, libertarians, and conservatarians all coalescing into a new and vibrant conservative movement.  We've seen liberals departing the left, becoming libertarians who are gathering with conservatives.  We've seen many who once considered themselves democrats turning to conservatism because the left has gone so far left.  We've seen the formation of all kinds of new media to challenge the left wing media, websites like Drudge, Breitbart, National Review, the Daily Wire, the Daily Signal, Life News, Life Site News, the Resurgent, the Federalist, Western Journalism, PragerU, The Stream, Charisma News, the Christian Post, the Daily Caller, and many others.  On the radio there is Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Glenn Beck.  Through Youtube and internet shows and radio we see great programs like The Andrew Klavan Show, the Ben Shapiro Show, Louder with Crowder, Rebel Media, The Blaze, Breitbart Media, the Eric Metaxas Show, the Dennis Prager Show, and many others.  But the truth is we're still not reaching enough everyday Americans to turn the tide.  That could change over time though.

We have a problem in the United States, quite a few actually, but the one key during this election is the mainstream media.  That's what I mean when I say the "old media."  The mainstream media as a term is often attributed to the firmly left wing television news companies including CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, and MSNBC.  Also included are big newspapers like The New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and Bloomberg.  One could also include radio like NPR and the CBS radio network.  More recently added to this conglomeration of left wing news are websites like the Huffington Post, Politico, Snopes, Politifact, Salon, Yahoo! News, Media Matters, Occupy Democrats, and of course, Gawker.  It's important to remember additionally that major search engines and social media sites also tend to lean hard left, most prominently Facebook, Twitter, Google, Wikipedia, and Yahoo. 

It's also important to remember that many of the largest and most powerful businesses in the United States are left wing.  Some of the largest include Microsoft, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Pepsi, Progressive Insurance, American Express, Starbucks, Pfizer, Ben & Jerrys, Liberty Mutual, Nike, Morgan Stanley and hundreds of others.  For a full list just Google companies that boycotted North Carolina for refusing to allow boys in the girls bathroom.  Or Google companies that directly fund Planned Parenthood.  If it feels like the whole world is against you, well, that's pretty much it.  
This is our problem to deal with.  And each of us can make a difference.  I cancelled my Cable a long time ago, and I encourage you to do the same.  Make use of the internet for your news.  Subscribe to alternative news sites, and encourage your friends to do so also.  Build a presence on social media and advocate for conservative and Christian values in the public square.  Many could've just thrown up their hands a long time ago, and said it's over these companies are too powerful, the television is too powerful, but conservatives never gave up, they took the truth onto the web and built a vast movement that is now challenging the leftist narrative on a daily basis.  Keep fighting, keep sharing the truth, keep praying, because God loves a lost cause.  

The tides are turning.  If it had been almost anyone else, especially a Ted Cruz or a Marco Rubio, this election would've been much difference.  But for now it looks like Donald Trump may lose to the awful, terrible, corrupt Hillary Clinton.  Hillary Clinton is truly terrible, her policies are a nightmare; more spending, more bailouts, higher taxes, inheritance tax, gay marriage, gender ideology, no vouchers for school choice, abortion up to and including partial birth abortion, and of course weak and naive foreign policy.  Hillary Clinton sold her position as secretary of state for donations to the Clinton Foundation.  Imagine a White House that sells itself to the highest bidder.  Imagine pay to play at that kind of level!  It's truly a terrifying thought.  People are afraid of a Trump presidency, because the left has gone so far as to call Trump "literally Hitler" but it's nonsense.  Trump is no Hitler, he's a business man, a lewd, nasty, immoral business man, but nowhere approaching the corruption of Hillary Clinton.

All that said, we will probably have Hillary Clinton as president.  Oddly enough this could be a good thing to the movement that is being formed through conservative organizations and new media.  But it will only be a good thing if we can somehow hold on to what little is left of the Constitution.  People make it out like somehow this is just an average election, a normal time to be an American, and all the talk of "the end is near" is overblown, well, much of it is. But then again, the facts are quite clear, the national debt is massive, the Supreme Court rulings are on the edge of chaos, the presidency has gathered far too much power, and the rule of law is in the toilet with most everyday Americans believing that there are two sets of rules, one for them and one for the elite.  This isn't normal, this isn't an everyday election, I think there is a solid case for the suggestion that we are at a pivotal moment in our nation's history.  The Constitution has never been under attack like it is today.  But maybe, just maybe, with the blessing of God we can turn the tide and form a new movement to defeat this leftist marxist nightmare threatening to turn America into a weak, second-rate nation of debt and big government control of everything. The danger is real, but the conservative movement is coming out swinging.

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Isaiah's Prophecy of the Coming Messiah

Via Wikimedia, Isaiah describes the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon
Sermon Audio:

Now is right around the time of year when I start looking forward, and I start thinking about Halloween, Thanksgiving, and of course Christmas. We center our lives on a 365 day year. And interspersed in that year are various celebrations and holidays that help us ground our lives. As Christmas approaches, I start to think about Jesus, and the mystery of his coming into the world.

I start to think about how Christ changed my life, and how he changed my story. The mystery of Jesus Christ is the mystery of divine personality. The mystery of Jesus Christ is the story of creation itself. It tells us about the lands we live upon, about the Earth we reside on, it tells us about the sky, the stars, and the galaxies. The coming of Jesus Christ is the saga of humanity itself.

Even before I knew Jesus I sought out heroes in my life.

I looked to cinema, to media, and to books. I looked to characters in movies like the Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek to emulate. I looked to superheroes like Batman and Spiderman to understand what it meant to rise above the 9 to 5. We search for transcendence around us, we search for meaning that rises above our own little lives.

In the pages of the Bible we find the saga of mankind, and an expression of ultimate transcendence. The Bible is the #1 best selling book in human history. The Bible is a historical book, a book of poetry, it includes eye witness accounts, prophecies, letters to churches, and accounts of the creation of all things. The writings in the Bible were written down by people, people who were inspired by the Spirit of God to write down the knowledge and wisdom of God. The writings of the Bible flow together seamlessly, spanning over 3 thousand years. There is no other book like the Bible.

We can trust the Bible. Historians trust the Bible. Archaeologists use the Bible to unearth ancient treasures. Scientists have trusted the Bible all the way back to Galileo and Isaac Newton. The body of Christ trusts the word of God as our unquestionable guide to knowing Christ.

In Bible study we’ve been reading through a book of the Old Testament called Isaiah. Isaiah is a book that seems to bridge the gap between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Isaiah’s revelation time and again points to the future coming of Jesus into the world. 

Listen to this scripture from Isaiah chapter 53 verses 1-6:
"Who has believed our message?
To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?
My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,
like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,
nothing to attract us to him.
He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.
Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
the sins of us all."

Do you believe this? Do you believe the message of the gospel is for you? Do you have a personal intimate relationship with our Lord and King Jesus Christ?

Each of us will see Jesus face to face. We could reach out and touch his hand. Jesus is alive right now. Jesus is alive right now. He is seated on his throne, ruling and reigning in heaven. He is also here with us right now. And he knows your name.

He knows my name. Yet he has given me a new name, and put my name in the Book of Life. Is your name in the book of life?

Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than being in the garage would make you a 72 Chevy.

Either we believe in Jesus, or we are lost in our sins. I know what it means to be lost. And so did Israel. Time and again in the Old Testament books we read about the struggles of Israel, how they would come to the Lord, turn from their sins, and then a generation later they would turn away. In the wilderness they saw the miracles of God first hand but it didn’t matter, they still complained and fell away, they failed to grow.

In the book of Isaiah is God’s description of coming judgment to Israel. Isaiah describes the coming Babylonian captivity, yet he also describes how they will be set free. Isaiah decries the misdeeds of Israel, yet also points forward to coming of Jesus. And his words rejoice for the coming of the King. Every book of the Old Testament points forward to Jesus. Even all the way back to Job, one of the oldest books of the Old Testament, it was written and recorded that Job prophesied the coming of the Christ when he said, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.” -Job 19:25

The trees will clap their hands. Much the palm branches as Jesus came into Jerusalem. I get chills when I think about the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem. He got onto a donkey and rode into Jerusalem, and the people cheered his entry. This was a revolutionary moment in history. It seems so many times in our society the rich and the powerful control everything that happens. They manufacture evil and keep good people from the lime light, they keep the message of purity and truth down in the pits. And in the same way the Pharisees fought Jesus every step of the way, but Israel was bursting at the seams, and finally the revolution had begun, and Jesus Christ was cheered by the whole city as he triumphally entered, the king of kings, Satan couldn’t shut down the crowd, they had to cry out in joy for the coming of the messiah into the city of God. It makes your heart sing when the outsider finally achieves victory over the entrenched establishment and moneyed elite.

As Jerusalem rejoiced with the coming of Christ, so we too rejoice when Jesus enters our heart, when His Spirit draws us into close relationship with him. Isaiah prophesied the joy of turning to Christ in these words, from Isaiah 54 verses 4 to 8: 

“Fear not; you will no longer live in shame.
Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you.
You will no longer remember the shame of your youth
and the sorrows of widowhood.
For your Creator will be your husband;
the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name!
He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,
the God of all the earth.
For the Lord has called you back from your grief—
as though you were a young wife abandoned by her husband,”
says your God.
“For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with great compassion I will take you back.
In a burst of anger I turned my face away for a little while.
But with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,”
says the Lord, your Redeemer."

The grief of life on Earth is real. The weight of sin is real also. I can still remember the heaviness on my back, on my soul, as I walked around dragging my sins behind me. Those are not illusions. The grief is real, when I was 16, forced to be a sports star by my dad, bullied at school everyday to then come home to my parents screaming at each other in the hallway, and crank up the heavy metal music and cry on my bed. To begin to experiment with prescription drugs, and wake up in a mental hospital, being told you threatened to blow up your high school, you’ve been expelled, and all of your former friends are afraid of you, and won’t talk to you. To become self destructive, to feel abandoned, to feel the lack of the presence of God.

And also, to cry out to Jesus for help, to throw my hopes upon Jesus and the cross, to have all the shame of my sins lifted off and tossed into nothingness. To have daily communion with God our Father. Is an honor, a blessing, a humbling incredible revelation so wonderful, so transformative, so expansive and wondrous I can hardly come to grips with the fact that it happened to me.

Jesus, God with us, gave himself at the cross for me. He was nailed to the wooden cross for my sins. It was as if I sat in a court room, and a list of my sins was being read off. We all have that list, of things we’ve done, harmed women, lied, hurt our parents, stolen things, make bad choices, and committed evil deeds. Or been selfish. And that list is being read off in the court room, and I’m guilty. I know I’m guilty. I deserve to be sent out from God’s presence, to outer darkness, and my spirit tells me that, within I know that. God is so holy, so perfect, and I want that so badly, but I know internally that my sins are too much.

Or as Isaiah wrote in chapter 59 verses 1-3: 

"Listen! The Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you,
Nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call.
It’s your sins that have cut you off from God.
Because of your sins, he has turned away
and will not listen anymore.
Your hands are the hands of murderers,
and your fingers are filthy with sin.
Your lips are full of lies,
and your mouth spews corruption."

The judge declares me guilty, and I know he’s right. But Jesus walks over to this judge and says no, all of those sins, I’ll take the punishment for him. I’ll receive the sentence that he deserves, I’ll remove those sins that are destroying him, I’ll take them all into my being, and receive the death penalty for him. And Jesus sets me free. He went to the cross to take my punishment and set me free from all my sins. That’s how great Jesus is. But even further, he gives me eternal life, he comes with me on the journey of life, helping me along the way. That’s the power of Jesus. And he did it for me, if I’ll just believe that its’ true, that Jesus lives, he resurrected for me, and is my King forever. For me! Even for me, foolish little Justin.

I like many here was never a lucky man, nor was I ever a smooth criminal. I was blunderous, and slow to learn a new thing. Just ask major ralph how quickly I learn stuff on the job. It takes me a while to learn anything. I’ve never won a prize drawing in my life. Yet me, silly old Justin Steckbauer, the junkie, the loser, the clumsy kid with the nerdy glasses, the druggy, the drinker, the despicable liar and cheat, that such a thing would happen to me, that Jesus would happen to me, is simply the greatest thing ever. Jesus Christ is the greatest thing that ever happened to me. Jesus Christ is my Lord, my savior, my friend, my brother, and my King. I love him.

Do you know him? Have you really personally made that commitment? Step forward and make that commitment today.

Isaiah wrote: "Seek the Lord while you can find him.
Call on him now while he is near.
7 Let the wicked change their ways
and banish the very thought of doing wrong.
Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them.
Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously." -Isaiah 55:6-7 NLT

As we once again approach pasty week, kettle season, and Christmas, keep the wonder of the coming of Jesus Christ at the center of your mind. Meditate on the child born in Bethlehem 2000 years ago, and the journey ahead. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” -Isaiah 9:6

Thomas Cole's Angel of Bethlehem via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

From Seeker to Believer: 7 Stages of Conscious Expansion

1. Not interested – OK for you, not for me. Holds many misconceptions about the Bible and Christianity. Have a negative view of religious faith in general. Believe all religions are basically the same. Are generally uninterested in spiritual matters.

2. Curiously seeking – thinks there might be something to all this, but not sure.  Struggles with old biased views of Christianity. Considering the existence of God. Beginning to question the belief that all religions lead to the same God.

3. Searching assertively – searching for the answers, reading the Bible, asking questions, intellectually understands God, but doesn’t have a relationship. Begins attending church services to learn more.

4. Faith commitment – Discovers Jesus is real and personally accessible.  May involve a single or series of "aha" moments. Receives the risen Lord Jesus Christ as savior, freed from all past sins and spiritually reborn.

5. Experiencing New Life – Grasps the meaning of the gospel, continues to struggle with changing value system and worldview. Pursues the spiritual relationship, prays regularly. Struggles with assurance of salvation.

6. Growing in Community – growing in intimacy with God through prayer and bible study, has come under authority of biblical values. Experiencing victories over self defeating habits. Begins to share Jesus with others. Discovers that not all Christians are growing.

7. Living Missionally – Lives in God's will for their life. Mentors others spiritually. Studies diligently. Gives generously. Serves the community. Understands the centrality of the gospel to his or her life. Lives a surrendered life to God the Father.  Actively and effectively shares Jesus with others.

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