War? What War?

I read an article yesterday that announced that Christians have lost the culture war. This Christian hasn’t lost anything.

In fact, I’m feeling mighty fine and pretty victorious.

 

If I’m completely honest, I know what the author of the article meant. This country is less “Christian” than it used to be. Our country doesn’t seem to be based on Christian values and, in fact, seems to work against them. It isn’t really comfortable to be a Christian in America any more. I still don’t think I’ve lost any war.

When America began, our laws were loosely and imperfectly based on what God says is right and wrong as expressed in Scripture. That has changed. Our laws are now loosely and imperfectly based on what our representatives believe is most expedient regardless of right and wrong. I would say our culture is worse for that.

Most of us still believe in “thou shall not kill” unless we are mothers and are talking about our unborn children, or we are talking about those convicted of capital crimes, or we are talking about those we view as enemies, or those who threaten our life or property. I would say our culture is worse for that.

I know “Christians” have failed in convincing the world that some sins are worse than others. Personally I think that argument was wrong-headed from the start.  We might disagree as to whether certain things are sin. Even if we leave out the “questionable” sins, each of us is guilty of plenty enough sins to keep us out of heaven. Even if it makes us feel superior to point to others who commit more public sins, it doesn’t get us where we want to be, Heaven. I would say our culture is worse off for that debate.

I think the real problem is that even Christians forget what our guide (The Bible) has to say. We like to believe that if we try hard enough and yell loud enough the world will get better. If you believe that you better read the book. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. When it does get better it won’t be because of anything we’ve done. It will be because the King has returned.

There’s a war going on all right. It’s not against flesh and blood. Try loving a bit more. It won’t get you loved in return, but it’s what Jesus asked us to do and considering what He did for us, can we do any less, no matter how distasteful or difficult it is. When the sins of our culture start to overwhelm and discuss, spend some time in front of a mirror.

The battle isn’t for cultures. It’s for souls. We shouldn’t forget that.

 

Jesus Eyes

bekind

It must have been very hard for Jesus when He was on the earth. He could see everything. He could see sin in each person. He knew the hurt in every heart he met. We are not in that situation. We don’t see past facades. We are fooled by smiling faces or blank looks.

We can’t tell that the pretty girl struggles with thoughts that she’s ugly or too fat. We don’t know that the soccer mom believes her husband is unfaithful and doesn’t know why. We are unaware that the kid on the playground doesn’t see his father every day and is glad for it because the days dad is home are awful. We don’t know that the guy in the fancy car and suit lives in constant fear that his dishonesty will be revealed. We are blind to the pastor’s wife who pours her life into her husband’s ministry but wishes he had just a little time for her. We don’t know that the smiling face that sits next to us in church struggles daily with doubt and disbelief.

It’s a good thing we don’t know or see all that Jesus saw. Perhaps, however, we ought to be brave enough to pray for a bit of Jesus eyes. If we could at least sometimes have Jesus eyes, we could have compassion instead of indifference. If we could know the struggles of others, maybe it would be easier for us to say an encouraging word or give a healing touch.

If we can’t see like Jesus, maybe we should just assume what is probably true: that everyone could use some encouragement, some prayer and someone just to listen.

 

The Right Question

Two of the top ten books on the New York Times bestseller list seek to answer the question: “Is Heaven Real?” None of the books address the question: “How do I get there?” It seems we are pretty good at asking the wrong questions.

Asking the right question seems to be particularly important when it comes to eternal life, the things of eternal significance.

We ask folks if they would rather spend eternity in heaven or hell. That one seems rather obvious doesn’t it? Even with a question as simple as that, some folks have the wrong answer.

We ask if people have “accepted” Jesus. That doesn’t seem to be the right question. Have you “trusted” Jesus? That seems better. What about “following” Jesus? That doesn’t seem a path we are eager to take. Jesus was hated and suffered and died. We like to skim over the gospel parts that have language about taking up crosses. We like to forget that Jesus went into places of danger and need and persecution.

Yesterday while reviewing some of my favorite recent reads I came upon this question:

Do we believe the reward found in Jesus is worth the risk of following him? Platt, David (2010-04-17). Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream (p. 162). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

That seems, to me, to be a really good question. Maybe even the right question.

That’s a hard question because: The danger in our lives will always increase in proportion to the depth of our relationship with Christ. Platt, David (2010-04-17). Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream (p. 167). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

The more we follow Jesus, the more like Him we become, the more uncomfortable those around us will be and the more hated and dangerous our path will be. The way we love each other is the way folks will know we are His. There is no promise that will make us loved by them, in fact, just the opposite is true.

So with the risk of following Jesus so great, can the reward be worth it? It is. For in following him, is the only real and eternal safety. In His love, is the only worthwhile security. In His presence, is the only real satisfaction.

We can only know the truth of the risk/reward when we experience it. The only way to know the joy of following in what appears to be complete foolishness, is to take the first steps.

Begin to ask the right question. Begin to trust the right answer.

Blessings.

 

Making Disciples

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

We sometimes aren’t very clear about what it means to “make disciples.” I think the answer is in the words Christ used in the Great Commission.

Go. Making disciples means going or a change of place. We can’t make disciples by sitting at home or huddling up in church. That’s not to say that disciplining activity can’t take place at home or at church. It means we have to get out of our  comfort zone and meet the loss where they are.

“Go” is also an individual command. Making disciples isn’t for a chosen few. We are all charged with making disciples. This is because disciplining can’t take place in a mass meeting or on television. Disciplining  is a one-on-one activity.

Baptizing. Baptizing is part of disciplining. It includes all three types of baptism: baptism of repentance, water baptism, and baptism in the Holy Spirit. To become a disciple we need to turn from our sin, make a public expression of our decision and get charged up by the Holy Spirit.  The process of discipleship is baptism in a generic sense as well. A disciple is “soaked” in God. Kyle Idleman expresses this idea in “Not a Fan.”  When we become a disciple, we become more than someone who thinks Jesus is great. We become a committed follower. For a disciple, it’s all about Jesus.

Teaching them to obey. Any pet trainer or parent will tell  you that teaching to obey is so much more than conveying information. The purpose of Christian education is to teach to obey. Too often we fall into the Christian scholarship mentality. We want to know more about the bible and more about God, but  that knowledge must lead to changed action. A child or a pet doesn’t learn to obey by learning “about” his parent or trainer, but by getting to know that person. We learn to obey by knowing God. The job is not to convey information, but to show the blessing of knowing God. That gets us back to “go.” It’s something we have to do “out there” where life is lived. It’s something that can only be done one-on-one and one-at-a-time. That’s why it’s a job for us all.

 

Rules That Men Have

I try to generally stay serious in this blog. Sometimes, however, I don’t have a serious thought. Sometimes the day is beautiful and I feel frivolous. Sometimes I find something that’s funny and true and I can’t help sharing it. I found an article entitled 21 Rules that Men Have. There were only 19 which made it even funnier. So blame the beautiful weather and have a nice laugh.

1. Men are not mind readers.

2. Learn to work the toilet seat, you are a big girl.  If it is up, put it down, we NEED it up, you need it down.  You don’t hear us complaining when you leave it down.

3. Crying is blackmail.

4. Ask for What you want.  Let me be clear on this one:
Subtle hints do not work
Strong hints do not work!
Obvious hints do not work!
Just say it!

4. Yes and NO are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

5. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it.  That is what we do.  Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

6. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument.  In fact, all comments become void after 7 days.

7. If you think you’re fat, don’t ask.

8. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.

9. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done.  Not both.

10. Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials.

11. Christopher Columbus did not need directions and neither do we.

12. All men see in only 16 colors, like windows default settings..peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color.  Pumpkin is also a fruit.  We have no idea what mauve is.

13. If we ask what is wrong, and you say “nothing” we will act like nothing is wrong.  We know you are lying , but it is just not worth the hassle.

14. If you ask a question you don’t want an answer to, expect an answer you don’t want to hear.

15. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine…REALLY

16. Don’t ask us what we are thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss: Football, sports or SI Swimsuit Issue.

17. You have enough clothes.

18. You have too many shoes.

19. I am in shape, round is a shape.

Thank you for reading this, I know I am sleeping on the couch tonight…but did you know that all men don’t really mind sleeping on the couch?  It’s like we are camping.

 

Keep Calm and Love Everyone

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 1 Thessalonians 3:12

Last night we had a great connect group with the above verse as the theme. We have been dealing with Living with Confidence in a Chaotic World. 

So far we have been advised to Stay Calm and Love Everyone.

We seem more stressed than ever in nearly every part of our lives: physical, spiritual, financial, political. Chaos seems to reign. As Christians, we are moving from a majority to a minority position. We are no longer “loved” for who we are. We are marginalized and even hated. Don’t be shocked. Scripture predicts this time.

That doesn’t make it any less stressful and chaotic. Stress and chaos, however, are matters of perspective. There is always someone worse off than  you no matter how bad things seem.

Step one is not to panic. Stay calm. God is in control.

Step two in reducing pressure and stress is to find someone worse off than yourself. This takes your focus from yourself and makes you realize that  you really have things pretty good. That helps.

Step three is to love that person who is worse off than you. Even better love that person that is causing the stress and chaos in your life, your enemy. We can’t do this on our own or in the natural. We need the agape love of God. Remember the Dead Sea isn’t dead because of what’s in it. It’s dead because it has no channel for outflow. If we will love supernaturally, those who are, to us, unlovable, we will keep God’s love within us alive, fresh and powerful.

How do we love? Pray. Serve. Testify. Praying for someone helps change our hearts toward them. Serving them helps change their hearts toward us. Testifying helps change their hearts toward God.

Trust God. He’s in control and love your way out of the chaos and stress of life.

Be blessed.

Learning to Lose

The Ragin Cajun Baseball team is expected to be really good this year. They have several starters back from last year and some exciting new players. They are picked to win their conference almost unanimously. The season started on Friday night. They lost. They went on to win three of four games over the weekend. In baseball you play a lot of games. You better learn how to lose.

Even a great hitter will get an out about every 7 out of ten times he steps up to bat. You better learn how to lose.

Life is like that. Most days we don’t get home runs or even singles. We strike out or ground out or fly out. Sometime, however, we get a walk, or get a hit, maybe even a home run. That happens if we don’t quit the many times we “lose.” That happens if we learn from our losses.

We lose a lot in life. There is a danger we will get use to it. We can become losers. Losing can be how we define ourselves. The secret is to take our losses in stride without becoming satisfied with them. Our losses should motivate us to win.

Losing is especially important to Christians. As Christians, we know that without Christ we are losers. We can’t win without Him. He knows that about us and loves us for it. For us, losing is just a reminder we need more of Him. We need to move closer in. We need to set more of ourselves aside and make room for more of Him.

We  can see something a baseball team will never see. We can see victory in loss. We can see Jesus triumph when we are the weakest, when we make the most errors, when we not only miss the ball, but can’t seem to see it at all.

Play ball. It’s a long season.

 

Faithful God

 

 

 

For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Psalm 108:4

Faithful
You are ever faithful
You are ever faithful
To us God

Sunday during our worship time we sang about our Faithful God. The song and its words have been stuck in my head. I think we don’t fully comprehend the faithfulness of God.

Consider the synonyms for faithful: ” loyal, constant, true, devoted, unswerving, steadfast, dedicated and committed.” Faithful means “keeping promises.” These aren’t common qualities these days. What struck me about the words, stuck in my head, is that God is faithful “to us.” He deserves Faithfulness; we don’t. He is faithful, although we are almost universally “unfaithful.” He is committed to us; when we aren’t often even mindful of Him.

It’s difficult for us to comprehend a faithful God because we are so unfaithful. We are fascinated by the new and different, whether it’s products, programs or people. Sticking with just one of anything really isn’t very cool. We drift from relationship to relationship, job to job, church to church. As soon as something no longer excites us or meets our needs, we move on. No wonder we can’t understand a God who is faithful to those who are unfaithful to Him.

And what of “keeping promises.” We certainly aren’t great at keeping promises. Since we are so bad at it, we consider ourselves “self-improved” if we just don’t make many. I don’t know exactly how many promises God makes in His word, but it’s in the thousands. Some are conditional. Many are not. He keeps every one.

Consider the joy and peace which can be ours if we can just begin to understand the faithfulness of our God. Consider how great our world would be if we could mirror just a bit of His faithfulness in our lives. When God’s will is finally done on earth as it is in heaven, faithfulness will reign.

Won’t that be good?

Blessings.