Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Sunday, May 13, 2012
Monday, February 27, 2012
Fear tactics are effective motivators for people. If you watch television commercials closely you will see that sex or fear (or sometimes both) are being used to compel you to buy something. Politicians use fear to try to frame the opposing candidate as the one who will bring down America. Even the title of this blog post uses a well-known fear to get you to read. Nothing riles up Christians quite like our religious liberties being attacked. We often say, “Our rights are going way!” or “We are being persecuted for our faith!” News channels and politicians capitalize on the fear that these things create in Christians. These are two ideas that I find frankly laughable.
It is true that our society, government and power structures are becoming more hostile to true Christianity. It is hard to read the news today and not observe that. Obama is trying to require Christian Institutions to provide something that is inherently against their stated ethics. A small group in California was being fined for having regular meetings in their home. For Christians these are just but of few more signs of a society growing in hostility towards faith, and in particular Judeo-Christian faith.
I want to offer a slightly different take on these things and provide a little historical perspective. Most people know that Christianity started as a small sometimes persecuted faith. The Jews, the Romans, and most local societies persecuted Christians. They were persecuted because they would not participate in the rituals of that society. They were persecuted because they made radical claims about Jesus. They offended the current philosophies and world view of the day. They caused businesses to dry up because they converted people away from idol worship. Societies will tolerate almost anything until you attack their money or their peace.
In the early 300s Constantine legalized Christianity and made it the state religion. For many this was and is a great day for Christianity. Finally, Christians would not be persecuted and the faith would spread unabated. However, this moment marked actually one of the biggest attacks on Christianity ever conceived. Christ became mingled with the State and Christians became the puppets of whatever government institution wanted to use them. As time passed, Christians sought to grab temporal power instead of recognizing the tremendous spiritual power available through Christ and the Holy Spirit. They sacrificed real power and truth for a pitiful and weak substitute.
For roughly the last 1600 years Christianity and the State have been mixed together in stranglehold that has largely removed the life and power from real faith. I am largely speaking of Christianity from a Western bias; this is not the story of Christianity in the world-wide theatre.
As I observe the growing hostility towards Christianity in our society, I cannot help but be a little relieved. I think this marks a sign that Christians are finally beginning to be the true salt and light they are supposed to be. The truth of the message of Christ is beginning to be more dominant again. Christians are refusing to be the puppets of the government or a certain political party. What does the puppet master do with a puppet that is no longer of any use? He disposes of it. Christians must continue to stand strong against the manipulative attacks of our society, corporations, government and political parties. We must not be their pawns; rather we must seek to walk in perfect harmonious step with Christ. We must do only what we see the Father doing!
Now some of us get fearful at the infringement of religious freedom in America as it relates to Christianity. I believe this reveals in us a certain weakness of faith. We erroneously believe that the world institutions can destroy the true Church. We often see Jesus as the Savior, Friend, Lord, and Brother, but do we really see Jesus as the KING!! Do we really believe that? He is the King!! No scheme of satan or of man will have any success against the King, the TRUE KING. We need to adjust our view of Jesus and the power of His Kingdom as it manifests on this Earth. Worldly institutions are hostile to true Christianity because they recognize the true spiritual power of Christ and not the weak temporal power of government! So as our faith is being attacked, be at peace and rest in this fact: This is good news and evidence that God’s Kingdom is at work in this world and we are right in the middle of it.
So let us not be fearful, because we serve the only true King and His Kingdom is powerful. It conquers the world systems, time, nations, hearts, minds, and souls. Our King is a conqueror in His way, not ours. He does not use military might to usher in His Kingdom, He uses love. He is not a destroyer of life; He is a destroyer of sin. His Kingdom will not pass away! Let us face this world and this time in remembrance of the real King.
Lord grant us the faith and endurance to handle this. May we always represent your grace and forgiveness as we encounter hostility and derision. Make your presence obvious in all those who follow after you. May your Kingdom come and may your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Monday, December 5, 2011
When I was in high school it became un-cool to decorate the tree with my family. It was an event to be endured, not so much enjoyed. Added to the pain was the type of the ornaments that went on the tree. My mom insisted on putting our school pictures from each year into small frames and displaying them on the tree. From all objective standards our tree was packed and gaudy. As I grew older, I began to be embarrassed of the multitude of reminders of my dorky past. One year, I was into sweat bands and prominently displayed a wrist band for a school picture. What was I thinking? Decorating the Christmas tree with my family became simply an obstacle to doing what I really wanted to do, which was, uh, nothing really.
Last night I watched my children decorate the tree with a great amount of joy. Sometimes these moments do not live up to the hype. Children have a way of arguing about things, but not last night. Last night was harmonious and joyful as we decorated the tree. They were polite to one another, they helped one another, it was truly a post card moment. It was one of the good moments of life. It was a beautiful time.
I was enjoying moment, but also reflecting back to my own memories. It made me regret some things in my life. I began to wonder at what age my children would think it is un-cool to decorate the tree with mom and dad. I began to feel sorrow for not leaning in to my parents more when I was an adolescent and teen. These moments, the truly great ones are fleeting and sometimes we forget to really enjoy them.
I guess I just want to say to my mom, “I am sorry that I did not enjoy those family moments more. I hope that I did not ruin them for you.” I also want to say, “Thank you. If it was not for your love and hard work, I would not have been able to enjoy that moment with my children last night. I wish you could have been there. I think you would have been proud of me. I laughed with my children, I took pictures, and I danced with my wife. It was perfect.”
The lesson I take away from this is to try to remember to lean in. Lean in to the ones who love you. Lean in to ones you love. These moments, these truly beautiful moments are short, enjoy them for all they are worth.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Let me state first and foremost that I have not decided who I will vote for and I am not trying to endorse a certain candidate. I frankly would probably never “endorse” any candidate. Elections have become troubled waters for Christians of late. In the past most Christians were single issue voters and this issue was surrounding abortion. Abortion is rightly a high priority for Christians voting in this country. It is nothing short of the murder of human life. I believe one of God’s highest values is life (John 10:10). A candidate’s stand on this issue is important. I do not know that America will ever do away with abortion. Our best hope is to deal with the underlying causes that lead to abortion. Instead of asking a candidate if he or she is for or against abortion, let’s ask candidates how they will decrease the number of abortions. This is the goal after all. Making abortion illegal will not do away with the problem because the problem is much deeper than Roe v. Wade.
These causes are routed deeply in sin. Not just the sin of the individual, but the sinful state of the world around us. But how can we as Christians combat this sin, and still be loving? This is indeed a tough question. Instead of yelling at people for aborting their babies, why don’t we adopt those babies who were not aborted? I have not adopted as of yet in my life, but I have many friends who have. I praise God for these people who are battling abortion and poverty 1, 2, and even 3 kids at a time. You know who you are and I thank you for picking of the slack. Please do not let us forget to do our job.
There are other ways to battle this problem. Hospitals were originally founded largely by religious organizations. The Catholics, Methodist, Presbyterians, and Baptist all have names that are associated with hospitals. It is with great sadness that I remind us that many hospitals that bear these names are complicit with the abortion problem. These institutions are driven much more by money than they are by helping people. Some people claim to have abortions because they cannot afford the cost to have a baby. Having paid out of pocket for our last child, I understand this concern. It is ridiculously expensive to have a baby, especially if you do not have insurance. Are we as Christians going to let children die because there is not money available to help bring these children into the world? Are we? Are we going to go joyfully on buying our iPads, TVs, cars, and houses while children die? All the while blaming the government for allowing this to happen, it is time to take responsibility for this. We as Christians must repent before God and man, ask forgiveness and BE part of the solution. We need to work with these hospitals to provide for people to be able to have children.
As we listen to the candidates speak on this issue. Listen to the nuanced response. A candidate may say something like, “I am pro-choice, but have an active plan that I hope will reduce the number of abortions significantly.” Someone else my just say, “I am pro-life.” Instead of giving our vote to someone just because they are pro-life, let’s require them to show us a plan that will help alleviate abortions. Let’s raise the level of discussion about this issue to something greater than just a sound bite. We are smarter than that, aren’t we?
The next phase of this is that we as the Church must be prepared to care for the children born. We must not let them exist in poverty, for this reveals no value for life either. I will post later on some of the other issues facing Christians, such as the faith of the candidate, poverty, social programs, war, defense, and other issues.
I believe God hates abortion and I do as well. We need to be in prayer about this. We need to repent, and we need to be a part of the solution instead of being angry and vindictive. Please pray, but be ready to act as well. We must act in love, not violence or hatred.