Today was Memorial Day.  I tried to use the day as a reflection of all the service people that gave the ultimate sacrifice for me and the Country.  It made me also reflect on how really little I have given up for others – its shameful really.  I also reflected on God.  Not so much his sacrifice but how he must tire of listening to me whine all the time…. God help me with this, Lord why didn’t that happen, Father will I languish this way………   When God returns will he find faithfulness on the earth.  I dunno, but I don’t want to be part of the problem.  Lord help my belief, help my unbelief. Anyway I can’t thank those that gave so much – but thank you all.  Maybe in Heaven huh?

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I have not posted for quite a while.  Its not because I have not had any thoughts that I wanted to share.  You see I started this blog, like the title suggests to offer Christian thoughts for an Un-Christian world.  Problem was that I found myself always wanting to comment on the Presidents Socialist/Marxist agenda ….. see there I go again.

So I wont comment on politics, but rather comment on earth science – I mean there’s no politics in that right?   I have been teaching earth science as part of my social outreach agenda… er ah Christian outreach agenda.  See I can do it too, community organizer = Socialist/Marxist.  Social outreach=Christian outreach – that was easy. I have been telling students you can be fully Christian, and believe the Genesis story.  I don’t have a need for billions of years for my belief system.  I just have a God that can speak things into existence.   I tell students something like the following at the end of each course:

“I hope you were able to see during this short introduction to earth science that God is amazing.  Some look at our world and see surroundings that came about by time plus chance.  I look at the world and see a creation made by the master engineer.  I have been a practicing scientist for more than XX years, have many refereed journal paper publications, and have been elected X times to a board position of the Blah, Blah, Blah Society, but yet I see no problem believing historical Christianity including the Genesis story.  We have a miraculous God, and we live on a miraculous creation. “

No politics in that.  Just gospel truth….. just be careful where you say it, and be careful to whom you say it, Oh and don’t say it to small children.

I feel pretty happy with this post don’t you? I mean I have completely avoided politics.  Or to quote Mr. Rogers, “there, I knew you could”!!

Normally I try to stay away from politics.  However the real state of the union and we the people are directly linked.  Surprised by whats going on in our nation?  Don’t be, I have read the end of the Book and things are going to slide.  I use to think Americans were not “stupid”.  But like the dwarfs that JRR Tolkien wrote about, we seem to be so consumed with digging in our mine(s) for treasure, we have little time to care about anything else.  So the president we have, is the president we earned.  I see the current administration as the first fruit of our education system being infiltrated 100 years or so ago.  Slow progress – yes but their has been steady progress.  Our courts are largely peopled by judges so corrupt – well just look who they dont send to prison and then state “Ive done no wrong”.  Are our politicians any better?  I think not.  So when I look all around I wonder how this could happen – how did these people get control of a formerly bright star?  We let them get there – they wanted to destroy like moth and rust, and we were to busy digging in our mines.  After all, our judges, our school administrators, our politicians they are just good honest people like us  who want to live in the land of the free( right)?  Ah, the father of lies has been busy working while we slept.  And now?  I fear we are helplessly out numbered.  My hope however is in my retirement plan –

America has been great because most of her people have been good.  If America is not great, its because most of her people are not good.

You have  probably been reading about the failure of AIG, Merrill Lynch, Freddie and Fannie this week and prior. I suppose one could just view these occurrences as simple cycles of Capitalism, or are they something more? To me these occurrences are further signs that our country has traded the God of the Bible, for our desire to have the god of money. I want to be clear up front I am not suggesting Gods judgment. What I am suggesting is that if you choose eating candy for every meal rather than wholesome food, you will get sick and eventually die of disease prematurely. Much has been written about the tragedies that occurred in September of 2001 when we lost our World Trade Center buildings. But maybe that was the first big sign that the new god of America was not as good as the old one. Since that time we have had financial earthquake, after earthquake. Patrick Buchanan 9/19/08 wrote an article titled “The Parties Over”. In that article Buchanan quotes “The Government must save us !”. But I have only ever read about one god who can save, the one of historical Christianity. Buchanan continues “Up through World War II, we followed the Hamiltonian idea that America must remain economically independent of the world in order to remain politically independent. “ True that Pat– but others want globalism. I have read some about globalism in the Bible (Revelation) and I did not like how the story goes till the very end. If you don’t know Christ, I promise you wont like how it goes but there is no divine reversal for you!

Buchanan further writes “Who are we kidding? What we are witnessing today is how empires end. The Last Superpower is unable to defend its borders, protect its currency, win its wars or balance its budget. Medicare and Social Security are headed for the cliff with unfunded liabilities in the tens of trillions of dollars.” Preach it Pat – I have been sending some of this message to my elected representatives, but I am sure they sigh, another nut with email ! Pat continues “What the Greatest Generation handed down to us — the richest, most powerful, most self-sufficient republic in history, with the highest standard of living any nation had ever achieved — the baby boomers, oblivious and self-indulgent to the end, have frittered away.” Francis Schaffer wrote that people wold trade their liberty for comfort till the have no liberties to surrender. C.S. Lewis suggests the same in Screwtape Letters.

The death of America? She died the day she traded the God of the Bible for one of the gods of this world. The question now is how long will full death take. Pray for America and her leaders. Pray that God will lift up the Godly to run for political office and that they will get elected. Pray for our churches that truth will be stood up for. We can change America, but it will only occur one heart at a time.

Before you start thinking down a path I don’t intend to go down, I am not talking about ministry to homeless people, although they most certainly need Christ (if they would not know Him). I do want to present on the type of street person that goes to church (me). In the past we have discussed the fact that churches are really social concentric rings. Think about an archers target, or skeetball with the highest score in the center, and with declining scores as you move away from the center. That is just like church. As you move into the inner most circle, you get the highest score, and as you move away from the center, your score declines until you get to the edge where I am not sure you get any score at all. Have you ever used your time and energy to move toward the church inner circle? Wow, the hours it took doing things and activities that only the the center of the core thought important. Did Christ think they were important? I mean the time spent trying to advance into the inner core. It is time,, energy and thought doing “works” activities. So after years of this type of pursuit, I have decided to be “A Street Person for Christ”. You see, I just want to be Christian. But no matter where you go to church, you are expected to move from concentric ring 1, to 2, to 3 and so forth. If you don’t seek to move into those circles or rings, that is viewed as not affirming those that are there. If you don’t spend time trying to get in, you are not affirming. If you are not affirming, you will be getting pushed back and down. This effect is being written about all over the web, media, and in blogs. The result for me is that, I have simply decided to walk with Christ, serve when I can, and how I can. And because this is my chosen path, I am effectively a church “Street Person for the Lord”. I think many feel this, and write about it. But what can we do about this phenomenon? You know I tell my family that we Christians should look at ourselves as one beggar trying to tell another beggar where there is bread. But I do not think this concept fits too well with our current church models. The model most of us are under is more feudal, than first century. But until Gods Holy Sprint blows through with reform, I will just be happy praising my Lord as a Street Person for Christ. Psalm 84: 10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

Books on Christian thought generally fall into two categories. Some are amazing reads from cover to cover. Still other books are maybe not exciting cover to cover, but are still worth reading, and may only have a couple of chapters that are super. Of course, what speaks to one persons mind and heart, may not to another (and vice versa). I just finished a Francis Schaeffer book, and for me, a lot of time was spent on theological basics, but one chapter (which also should have been a theological basic), was amazingly good. You see I often hear that we don’t want to spend time in church thinking – I mean beyond the basics of Christ. But as you might guess, Dr. Schaeffer could not really agree with a notion like that (nor can I). I tell my wife that people do not deal with ideas very well. Calvinism v. Arminism – they are both just ideas about theologically relating to God. As long as the two views stay as ideas, there is no problem. But we know, that is not how it goes in church circles. So I repeat, most people don’t deal with ideas well, especially in the church. The other big issue is that people do not realize that they don’t deal with ideas but actually think they do. In True Spirtuality, there is a chapter titled Freedom in the Thought-Life . This chapter fell into the super category. Lets see if we can get the nuggets from Dr. Schaeffer chapter, onto this post.

 

In Romans 1 we are told that “they became vain in their reasoning” this is an inward thing, and it is pointed out that this is the problem with the Gentile world (current). You see man has a thought life that is different from any other creature in the world. Man lives in his head (with verbalization), this is the uniqueness of man. The internal thought world is first, and the internal thought-world causes the external. The importance of the thought life is especially ignored by works oriented Christians. Since our mind is the starting point, our bodies are the bridge from out of our thought life to the physical world. An artist believes they bring a picture forth into the external world – but it first started in the mind. The same is true of an engineer, florist, or an author. We are created in a finite limit (as opposed to God), and we cannot create like God does, but none the less we can and do create. Next the real battle for a mans soul is in the thought world, not the external world. And our real communion with God is in the interior thought world. Real communication between people must always be between the internal, thought worlds. Often, men and women might try to relate to the greatest extent physically, but it does not last long – it really can’t. Ideas are to be discussed, not personalties or organizations. Ideas are the stock of the thought world, and from ideas burst forth all external things: painting, music, architecture – everything. But as far as what it means to men, it is what he accepts in the thought world that makes the difference: whether he believes God or whether he calls him a liar. The preaching of the gospel can never be an organizational / external world matter. The preaching of the gospel is ideas, piercing ideas brought to men, as God has revealed them to us in scripture. So when we teach doctrines, they must be ideas, not just phrases (Here is when the modern church goes wrong and exhibits its greatest shallowness). We cannot use doctrines as pieces to a puzzle. True doctrine is an idea from Gods word. The reality is, God thinks, and he has made us to think. The spiritual victory, or loss in battle is always in the thought world. So should we spend time in church focused on learning to think correctly, learning true history, true cultural perspective, and excellent doctrine – Our very thought life depends on it (and therefore our souls). God made us to think and be analytical. Should we deny our maker? May it never be !!

 

 

 

I have been reflecting on the words spoken in church recently, and on the message I heard by Dr. Stanley today (1/20/08) about the focus of the Christian. And I had to think ( and know) that one of the most important and central messages of the gospel is not really preached (anymore) . I mean when was the last time you heard a message taught regarding the chief end of man? The messages I was reflecting on are typical of the church thought today, but was present in the church before. The question is – Is the chief end of man to witness? Before you run off and tell Mom what you read on this blog site, yes we are to be a witness, and to engage in witnessing. Were we saved and are the people we work to save simply to become little witnessing machines? I have always said that in America, there is no shortage of people who want to tell you about the Lord, but I meet and know so few that want to be the Lord with skin (Or be his ambassador). So lets ask, what is the chief end of man – I bet if you go into most Sunday school classrooms, they will struggle to answer – they would probably answer to witness?, to live set apart?, to tithe? Nope, not even close. Wanna guess? here goes………. from the Westminster Catechism Q. 1. What is the chief end of man? A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God,and to enjoy him forever. It is the very first point. Did you learn this as a child ?– If you did thats good, its not taught widely anymore. I found a great Puritan sermon taught on this point of Christian life by Thomas Watson titled, Man’s Chief End is to Glorify God. Watson lived from c. 1620 — 1686 .

Here is a link to this sermon – its worth reading.
http://www.puritansermons.com/watson/watson5.htm

 


I think what really frustrates me about the single foci of “save them, so they can save them”, is I do not think the people expounding this know what the point of this is – or if they do they never let on. Is it really only to save souls from Hell (good enough motivation)? No, God has something much better in store – there is a reason he wants more saints. It is true that he is willing that none should perish, but then what? I don’t hear that being preached … I think they have forgotten why or it is oh yea and that too. There is a shallowness that pervades our vintage of Christianity – go back to the saints of old. Their teaching has stood the test of time. What is the chief end of man? A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God,and to enjoy him forever. What I am raising here is that God wants you to fellowship with him – that is the chief end of man. That is why he saved you – He wants you to spend time with him.  Being a witness will come – but it is not the chief end of man.  

Today I finished reading an article in the American Magazine titled, China Menace and Model. The focus of the article is the question whether China can continue its economic success while it continues its political suppression. In this article we read that China, not the U.S. Is the model many other nations now look to including visible ones such as Venezuela, and most of the Asia region including Vietnam. It was clear to me that the writer of the article did not have a Christian perspective nor a historical understanding of the book of Revelation. Can China’s model work where its citizens are gain prosperity without political freedoms? To understand this question we first need to look at and understand how the west and specifically Americans define freedom in a post Christian world. Freedoms for westerners really mean freedom from the confines of Biblical do’s and don’ts. For example, in the AM article, the author was aghast that the Chinese government would still be working as a cash – not a debt based society. Yet we know the Bible clearly tells us that the borrower is slave to the lender. The AM author mentioned that China seems totally unaffected by Asia’s recent financial troubles….. but debt and the stock market are the problem, not cash based trading. So freedom in the west is the allowance of art like the Piss Christ, and magazines such as Hustler, not the freedom to be Catholic or Presbyterian. This week Chuck Colson wrote another good article about the new atheist and the old question, can you have morality without absolutes? American is testing the water fully on that account under the notion of freedom. You see, the designers of our government never really meant freedom, they meant freedom to to be fully any kind of Christian you want to be – not freedom to be an Animist or a Mammon worshiper. The designers of our government were also clear if our government moved away from a Christian framework, it would fail. Patrick Buchanan has just published a book where he asks, is the U.S. headed for the dust bin of history? Patrick says yes, and I agree. So back to China – will their model work? Yes I think it will work because freedom is an illusion of the unredeemed mind. So if your thought is that China will fail because it is not “free”, then you first should study what you think it means to be free. We know the world is now studying the Chinese model, and not the U.S. Model. Sadly, what made the U.S. Model great was a Christian world view – but that is not being studies anymore either, it will be Confucianism. You see freedom does not make nations great, it is Christianity. Some Christians I know think the current invasion of the U.S. is a wonderful thing for Christian opportunity. But actually, the invaders come as barbarians to take this time, and they are bringing their religions with them. They do not come to learn the U.S. Model that has the Christian value system at it core. The new god is freedom in what ever form you wish to pursue it. My prayer is that U.S. Christians would seek to have their churches a Christian model, and that our individual lives would draw men to Christ. If the unsaved do not see anything in us they like, Christ has to step over us to do his redeeming work. May he step through us, and not over us. May our churches reflect the personality of Christ, and not just personalties.

Chuck Colson’s latest article is entitled “Rethinking Church”. The focus of Chuck’s article is the famous Willow Creek Church in Illinois. It seems they have been going through introspection, and are finding out getting people in the door and putting them to work does nothing to grow them as Christians. “Pastor Bill Hybels has said that the results of that study are “earth-shaking,” “ground-breaking.” Colson states that,” In a nutshell, the survey results showed that heavy involvement in the church programs and activities of Willow Creek did not necessarily translate to spiritual growth and maturity”. I think part of the problem is that busy Christians have no time for what they were actually created for, communion with God. Colson says he has discovered the same thing as Willow Creek has in his ministry. What I have personally found is that no one cares how well you know God. You certainly can’t get any credit from it with the Pastor or fellow Christians – what good can that be? No one will make you an Elder or Deacon based on your relationship with Christ. They do care how much work you do however – if you do it right everyone can see that. The more you work, the more your saint status grows – Its kinda like a computer game. So I am going to try to run around and pick up all the Christian marbles before you do dear brother or sister. One excellent strategy I have found for doing that is to get control of a ministry. Once I have control of the ministry, then I can really control marble gathering – and probably most of it at your expense !! What could be better. And then at the shout (personal or global), my jar will be full of marbles (Ha, Ha), and yours, well yours will not be so good. I will get a big crown, and it won’t matter about all the intangibles no one can measure or see. I know there is a passage in Luke that speaks to this:

Luke 10:38-42

[38] As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. [39] She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. [40] But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

[41] “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, [42] but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Are their errors in the Bible? I think we have found one here – the roles are obviously reversed as is Christs comment.

Colson says of church “It’s about the movement of people toward Christ, toward deep love for God and genuine love for others.” We will dialog about this more, I think others have this totally confused !! Now get back to work and get your hands off, thats my marble !

I love Barna surveys. I love them because others say what I am often thinking or observing about Christian life. The best part is, since others make the comments, the one making the citations can not be accused of being, well all the things the church says about those who dare to think it is not perfect. Barna in his latest survey summarizes up front by stating “Those transformations” (Mega Themes) “were described as Americans’ unconditional self-love; nouveau Christianity; the five Ps of parenting; and designer faith with rootless values”. I am not going to dive into the 5 Ps of Parenting. More detail on the mega themes:

 

Americans Accept Themselves Unconditionally – “Barna studies underscored the fact that Americans have a high opinion of themselves” (this means the church since that is who Barna surveys)– “and lingering reservations about others. The prevailing paths to maturation, however, are usually not characterized by planned or intentional development; instead, engagement in a series of adventurous experiments seems to be the norm. When it does occur, growth takes place rather unpredictably, and the changes accepted are typically adopted on the basis of feelings. Most Americans, it seems, are willing to change as long as the pathway promises benefit and enjoyment, and generally avoids pain, conflict and sacrifice”. So we know the church has a high opinion of its self – see the comments on image at the end of this post.

 

Nouveau Christianity – “New practices are in vogue: embracing racial diversity and tolerance within congregations; pursuing spiritual diversity in conversations and relationships; valuing interpersonal connections above spiritual education; blending all forms of the arts and novel forms of instruction into religious events; and accepting divergent forms of spiritual community (e.g., house churches, intentional communities, marketplace ministries). Rigidity of belief – which includes the notion that there are absolute moral and spiritual truths – perceived by a large (and growing) share of young people to be evidence of closed-mindedness.” This means that they have really abandoned thinking – and why not, the public school system has been working on these people effectively not to think. I think, therefore I am close minded because I have precepts ! I think Martin Luther was pretty closed minded too – that is why he would not take back what he had taught and written. Praise God for Martin, I wish all were of his fiber.

 

Designer Faith, Rootless Values – Barna tells us that “For instance, young people are still likely to claim the label “Christian,” but the definition of that term has been broadened beyond traditional parameters.” This is as all cults do – how many Jesus’ are there? Mormon, JW, Muslim, etc.. they all have one, same name, but different human character.

 

OK, I could not resist so here is one of the five P’s of parenting. Public perception – “In a society where image is reality ……… public perceptions is a major concern among parents. Like politicians, many parents hone their skills in spin control and positioning in order to place them and their children in the best possible light”. See what I mean about Barna ? thank you for saying it ! There are some I go to church with that could be responsible for seeing a 1000 souls saved, and would never let on they had a part, but there are others in church  that every Sunday I have had to endure a propaganda blast from (them) that would make Madison Avenue smile . Many Sundays those same propaganda spinners make me want to run out of church for fresh air so I do not barf (sorry)! Image is everything, as are spin control and positioning.

 

So Scott, great but what does all this blah, blah, blah mean (to you). Barna again says it best “values that young people (all people – added) are prone to embrace are often consistent with Christian beliefs but are not based on biblical foundations. For instance, while young Americans have adopted values such as goodness, kindness and tolerance, they remain skeptical of the Bible, church traditions, and rules or behaviors based upon religious teaching”. Often I have wanted to invite people to church to meet Jesus, but have been afraid they would only meet the people in the church, and that would drive them from Christ not too him. Matthew 23:15 tell us that “”Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves”. Try to go to a typical church and fit in with the congregation? It is hard to criticize the emergent church because they are obviously striking true with the people Barna is surveying. We need to pray that our churches would repent. We need to pray that they would seek the true gospel, and we need to pray that Christians would do not as American do, but as Christ did. Maranatha !