The Return of True Christianity

One of the better articles from the past year or so regarding Christianity and the culture of American society was by Matt Lewis ( http://theweek.com/articles/448500/christians-silver-lining-losing-culture-war.) With the redefining of traditional marriage to equality based on preferences instead of biology, values held by Christians over the past 2,000 years are being systematically ignored and punished. As Mr. Lewis suggests in his article, this is not all bad news. It might be that the nominal, cultural Christianity that only pays lip service to the commands of our Lord will be stamped out. As falsely professing Christians and denominations pander to the culture, true Christianity will be revealed and empowered even as it is persecuted. I remember as a kid a missionary on furlough saying that their was nothing wrong with the American church that a good persecution wouldn’t cure.

Now, I believe that Christians, as Paul writes in Romans, are to live as peaceably with all men as is possible. I also know that it is not always possible. I know that our Lord said we would suffer if we followed Him. Peter writes that we should not be surprised when fiery trials come upon us. I do not wish to live in a time when Christians are ridiculed, fined and imprisoned for holding to Scripture. I do not wish for my children to live in such a time. I hope and pray, though, that now that such a time is coming upon us that we stand firm, holding onto our Lord without apology or shrinking back. I pray we engage those around us boldly, in love, seeking to penetrate the hardness of their hearts with kindness, compassion and the truth of God’s Word.

Now is the time for followers of Christ to examine themselves and see if they are really His or not. John tells us that we will know who was a real believer or not by seeing if they stay or leave. Do we love Christ or American Christianity? Do we follow Jesus when it is easy or because He alone has the words of life? Do we follow the changing laws of men or the unchanging Law of God? Do we cave in to keep jobs, homes, and retirement funds or do we stand firm and trust in the Lord to preserve us and provide for our needs?

Erick Erickson over at the website RedState.com coined the phrase, “You will be made to care.” No longer can the church sit on the sidelines, wringing hands and moaning the sad state of the Union while failing to engage it. Now we need to be salt and light, shining God’s truth and exposing deeds of evil. We need to be preserving what is good and pure and enhancing the communities where we live. We need to be busy practicing good works so that unbelievers see us and give glory to God for us being His representatives and presenting His presence to them. More than ever we need to stand up and choose this day whom we will serve – God or current society. You cannot serve two masters. We need to be in serious prayer for the courage and strength to stand in the face of opposition as well as for perseverance to endure hardship without shrinking.

We’re pilgrims on the journey
Of the narrow road
And those who’ve gone before us line the way
Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary
Their lives a stirring testament to God’s sustaining grace

Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
Let us run the race not only for the prize
But as those who’ve gone before us
Let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives

CHORUS:
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful

After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone
And our children sift through all we’ve left behind
May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find

Artist — Steve Green

 

Re-educating the Church

Back in the early ’80’s when I attended high school,  one of our required classes was “AVC”, otherwise known as Americanism vs. Communism. Far more than just a class on governments, the course outlined the philosophical differences between the two ideologies.  One of the stark differences I remember was that in countries like North Korea, Soviet Russia and others, political and religious dissidents and advocates were routinely sent to re-education (through labor) camps. These were a highly effective way of ensuring group think and keeping the powers that be in control.

Fast forward 30 years to present day America.  More and more of our citizens are being sentenced to re-education classes, facing fines and/or jail time for not “evolving” on social issues such as abortion, gay rights, marriage equality and other issues. We have seen heavy handed government enforced re-education philosophies at work in Houston, Idaho and Minnesota recently. Private organizations, churches, even football teams are being pressured to adhere to the new social norm. Anyone who resists must be a Neanderthal in need of re-education to get with the program.

Christians have two choices in froont of them: acquiesce and lose all resemblance to Christ we profess to be like or push back, stand for our beliefs and take any and all punishment meted out by the state as Christ and the Apostles did. America is no longer a safe haven for Christiandom. Declare your allegiance because now it is Americanism vs. Christianity. Teach your children now how to stand in the faith so they can rise up in your place and carry the legacy of the cross forward. Stand and be counted. Now is the time to choose who you will serve.

Quit moaning and wringing your hands wondering what you can do. Live your life according to Biblical principles, engage the culture, vote for moral values – not for party or union dogma and pray for those in power over you that the Holy Spirit would transform their lives. Please, stop lying to yourself that you can just “live your witness” and that will be enough. You must speak, must verbally proclaim the life changing gospel while backing it up with your lifestyle. It isn’t one or the other but both in harmony that provides an effective witness.

When I was young I heard over and over, “When we get together we can talk about anything but religion or politics.” We have reaped what we have sown; masses that cannot think critically about the long term implications of policies and a muddled, confused and impotent church that is irrelevant to mainstream America. Now is the time to declare your true intentions – are you ready to stand up for Jesus no matter the personal cost or are you going to shrink away and continue to compromise? Stand up for Jesus. Stand with your brothers and sisters facing persecution. Get involved and be a force for the advancement of God’s Kingdom.

Understanding the Culture

Here at Ta Ethne we read a lot. From the Huffington Post and Slate to Red State and the Washinton Examiner. We peruse both CNN and Fox, World Magazine, Christianity Today, Renewal and Patheos. Scientific American and Smithsonian? Check. Christian Pirate Radio and White Horse Inn? Check. All of these are on our list as well as many others. Why? So that we understand our culture. We will read the same article from different perspectives, liberal to conservative, Christian to atheist. Not only are we able to glean insights that way, we begin to understand how we can take the truths of Scripture and share them with others in a relevant way.

I speak at a lot of churches. Many of them have good pastors, who explain Scripture’s meaning to their congregants faithfully. Unfortunately, I don’t see many who can tell their people how to apply those truths to everyday life, and even fewer who can explain to their flock how to tell those truths to unbelievers in a way that is relevant and engaging.

If you want to know how to reach people for Christ, one needs to know where they are so you can meet them there and move them forward, Paul was a master at this and so was Jesus. Here is an exercise that may shock you. Pick a story, any story about a church or ministry or prayer. Read it on at least 3 different sites, one liberal, one conservative, and anything in between. Then, scroll down and read all the comments. Look at the hatred, the sarcasm, the ungodly and immoral values being touted in a superior way by those who do not know Christ. Go to YouTube and watch an inspirational video and read the comments posted there as well. It is better than talk radio in that you begin to see the worldviews expressed with no restraint by those for whom civility has disappeared.

Then go in prayer before the Lord. Pick up your Bible and read. Pray again, asking God to show you how to share His love, His truth, with those who hate Him and are under condemnation. It will change your life. You will begin to become salt and light to a world that is dark and diseased. You will be following in the footsteps of the New Testament apostles as you enter a world that needs Jesus desperately, but doesn’t even know that they do.

Hymn Devotions Day 23 – From Greenland’s Icy Mountans

 

DAY 23 – FROM GREENLAND’S ICY MOUNTAINS

From out of the days of great missionary endeavors comes this hymn, which captures the spirit that moved so many to proclaim the gospel across the globe. It is our duty to bring the gospel to those who have never heard its story. It is our privilege to show all people the correct God to worship as well as the correct way to worship Him.

Paul told the Greeks in Acts 17, “You worship what you do not know, in ignorance “(my paraphrase) and then proceeded to enlighten them with the truth. In the same manner, those in places without a gospel witness worship in vain: idols made by hand, false gods, political systems, etc..

One of the charges against Christianity is that we destroyed people’s religion and culture with our missionaries. Yes, we did. We sought to destroy false worship and replace it with the knowledge of the True God. Social customs, as long as they do not violate Scripture, are to be left alone. Religious and moral deficiencies are to be exposed to the gospel light so that its transforming power can set the spiritual captives free. May we never shirk from seeking to transform every culture, including ours, and having them conform to God’s laws.

May we never be ashamed of the gospel’s power. May we never apologize for loving people so much that we are diligent in showing them how God requires them to worship.

Lord, move on me to be unashamed that You have set up a narrow way, an exclusive way to salvation – through Jesus Christ. Help me to never apologize for holding fast to the truth that through Him alone salvation is found. Help me to proclaim salvation to those who have never heard as well as those who have never responded.

 

FROM GREENLANDS ICY MOUNTAINS – Reginald Heber

From Greenland’s icy mountains,
From India’s coral strand,
Where Africa’s sunny fountains
Roll down their golden sand,
From many an ancient river,
From many a palmy plain,
They call us to deliver their land from error’s chain.

What though the spicy breezes
Blow soft o’er Ceylon’s isle;
Though every prospect pleases,
And only man is vile:
In vain with lavish kindness
The gifts of God are strown;
The heathen in his blindness bows down to wood and stone.

Can we, whose souls are lighted
With wisdom from on high,
Can we to men benighted
The lamp of life deny?
Salvation! O salvation!
The joyful sound proclaim,
Till each remotest nation has learned Messiah’s Name.

Waft, waft, ye winds, His story,
And you, ye waters, roll,
Till like a sea of glory
It spreads from pole to pole;
Till o’er our ransomed nature the Lamb for sinners slain,

Redeemer, King, Creator,  in bliss returns to reign.