Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Should Christians be speaking out against the evil in their culture?

How should a Christian respond to the evil and wickedness in his culture? What should the body of Christ be doing about the corruption that surrounds her? Should pastors, bible teachers, Christian authors, and those on the vanguard of Christian thought and  Christian worldview be speaking out?

I'm of the firm conviction that the body of Christ should "speak out" against evil and the trends of our culture. But how do we "speak out?" Can we run the risk of just becoming moral crusaders? Can we get side-tracked with being a moral voice and totally miss the gospel? Is the gospel simply raising our voices against the evil that surrounds us?

That's a lot of questions and they are there to get you to think. Questions are good, they probe and cause us to stop and evaluate our motives and our course of action. Are we following the biblical blue print? Are we missing the mark of what the true calling of the Church is? So, take the time and ask yourself these question and form a solid Christian worldview concerning your mission and your response to the cultural madness that surrounds you every day.

One book that had the greatest impact on my Christian life was Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Metaxas. Bonhoeffer, lived in Hitler's Nazi Germany where he was forced to take a stand and speak out against the evils of Nazism. Bonhoeffer like many of his peers in the ministry could have stayed safely tucked away in his Church or academic studies. Bonhoeffer could have rationalized and compromised like many of his contemporaries did, and say that his job was to be a pastor and not to get entangled with the things of this life.

The majority by far in the state run Lutheran Church accepted the Nazization of the Church. One of Bonhoeffer's close friends and fellow Lutheran Pastors, Martin Niemoller, who at first decided to stay silent and accept the Nazization of the Church; and rationalize away the evil that was perpetrated upon his fellow countrymen by the Nazi machine wrote this poem about his error of staying silent:

In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up."

The question for me is how big is the gospel? Is the gospel just mans eternal salvation? Or as citizens of God's Kingdom are we under compulsion to speak for the oppressed, denounce evil and sin, and be true lights in this dark sin-sick world.

I'm sure most of my readers are familiar with the old maxim, " The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing;" by our very nature as being: salt, light, sons of righteousness, children of the Kingdom, and representatives of our Father's holiness, how can we as good men keep silent in the face of evil? How can we not speak out against the evil trends in our society that are ripping the very fabric or our culture apart?

Our Savior and master teacher taught us to be wise as serpents, but harmless as doves---this is the advice that I would give to any believer who is bold enough to stand on the rooftop and denounce sin, evil and oppression. How one speaks out, how one accomplishes the mission may be different, but my plea to the body of Christ is not to go to sleep and say it's not my job.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14
 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The believer must guard his thought life at all costs.

I was thinking how important it is for the follower of Jesus Christ to guard and protect his thought life. We should all be aware that our actions are preceded with a thought, an idea, a whisper in the ear. Our thought life is secret, it is veiled to those around us, which leaves open for us to be one thing on the outside all the while being someone else on the inside.

The Bible is filled with admonishments, instruction, and charges for the believer to be aware of his thought life. That old sage Solomon gave us great advice when he told us "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life" (N.L.T. Proverbs 4:23). Keep in mind that the Hebrew thought of heart included the whole of the inner life: mind, emotions, and the will. It is not wise to separate the inner workings of our life, for they are intertwined and the parts make up the whole.

The follower of Jesus while being given a new nature (2 Cor. 5:17), still carries with him the old man with all of his dirt and baggage. David in Psalm 139:23-24 asks God to look deep into his inner life and shine the light of his holiness, listen to what David asks God to do, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way."

When the Christian understands just how deeply sin has affected him---his emotions, will, and thought life he is better equipped then to put up the proper guards to deal with sins devastating consequences. Keep in mind that the role of sanctification has a duel role; the believer is to work out his own salvation (our part) while God is working in us to do his good pleasure (God's part) Philippians 2:13.

One of the old saints made the theological mistake of seeing the fall as only affecting the will of man while not touching the mind of man. St. Augustine did not see the fall as having a total affect on man---he maintained that the nature of man remained untouched by the fall, and is all that man needs is God's grace to help him along. In other words man is not totally depraved, just semi depraved---our theological understanding of the fall has deep and far reaching consequences into all of our theology.

 When the Reformation came to Europe initiated by John Wycliffe, John Huss, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Huldrych Swingli they brought with them the theological idea that the fall affected every part of the whole. They called this teaching the total depravity of man; that is man's will, emotions, and thinking (logic) have all been touched by the fall.

What this means for the follower of Christ is a due diligence in paying attention to his thought life---as God  tells us in  1 Peter1:13 "gird up the lions of you mind, " the free online dictionary tells us that this phrase "gird up"comes from the Bible, where girding up your loins meant to tie up long, loose clothes so that they were more practical when you were working or travailing.

There is truly a "battle for the mind" of the believer. The believer must strive will all diligence to live a life where his inner life is congruent with his actions or the way he lives on a daily basis. We must strive to have our inner thought life sanctified by the washing of water by the word of truth see John 17:17. "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth."

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

For the love of reading.

How many really love to read? Have you developed a love for reading in your life? Notice that I said developed the love of reading---reading is like any hobby or skill it must be developed.

Now I know there are many hindrances to picking up a book and getting started: For one  it takes time, which many look for so desperately in this crazy culture of busyness that we live in. For some it is a question of what to read. Some of you might have to do a self examination to see how much time you're spending in front of the tv or in front of the computer screen For others is is just, well, I don't like to read; here is where I can sorta help I think.

I'd like to share how I gained a love for reading and how the scope of my reading over the years has widened and deepened. When I came to know the Lord as a young teenager back in the 1970's my coming to Christ touched every area of my life. I look back at my school years and I'm convinced that my teachers just passed me to the next grade level because they did not want to deal with me for another year, and that is a whole other article.

Soon after my conversion I was diagnosed with hepatitis. This diagnosis laid me up for several weeks. This is the time in my life when God gave me the opportunity to read and read I did; and have not stopped since. Kinda reminds me of the line from the movie Forest Gump, when Forest tells us, " and from that day on I just kept running."

There are so many positive things that I can say that I've gained from reading, but I'd like to talk about what I feel has been the most important of all to me. All of my reading has always brought me to see God more clearly. If I was reading about the history of the Revolutionary war there I saw God's providence in leading and guiding the founders of our Country to establish our Constitution on biblical law.

While reading about Hitler's Germany I saw evidenced the total depravity of man. The fall of man with all its effects was brought out during Hitler's push to purge Germany of all those who didn't fit into his super-race vision. Hitler's worldview was the antithesis of a Christian world view--in fact Hitler has said that Germany must be purged from the weakness and moral softness that Christianity espouses.

When reading biographies of men like Dietrich Bonhoeffer I'm humbled by a man who followed Christ which resulted in Hitler having him put to death. Bonhoeffer loved not his life over death, he followed Christ faithfully to the end. As I read Bonhoeffer I saw how God's hand is always upon his people and His providence and Sovereignty are always working for the good of His people.

All of the commentaries, theology, and written sermons that I've read over the years has created deep within me a strong and firm confidence in the God of the Bible. As the proverb says, as iron sharpens iron---the reading of Godly men has surly had this sharpening effect in my life. The reading of theology has caused me to have to think critically and think hard on what I was reading.

Let me finish with what I'd say has been my greatest experience of all---that  is the reading God's message to me; the bible. Think about what the bible is---God's mind to you and me. God has given His word to the Church so that we may know Him and live our lives in a way the pleases Him.

So exercise the gift of reading;  read a wide variety of subjects and see God at work in history and in the lives of His creation. Read God's word which will  provide you with the discernment to be able to properly interpret all other subjects and disciplines.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

How do you use your time?

Have you ever thought about how you use your time? Many of us think of our religious duty as it pertains to going to church on Sunday mornings and for some Sunday evenings. Some even make a mid-week service or attend a small group study during the week.

I did a very unscientific calculation on how much time the average Christian spends doing church---which would include Sunday mornings (avg 2 hours) and a mid-week service (avg 2 hrs), which comes to 4  hours a week, or 16 hours a month --- this is against the back drop of 168 hours in a week and 672 hours in a month.

I think that you can see where I'm going with this idea---by far the believer spends his time outside the walls of an organized church. So the question that the God of the Bible asks is how do we spend our time? Which brings me to a text of Scripture that I'd like to examine with you. Le's us look at Ephesians 5:15-17:
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
The Apostle Paul tells the saints at Ephesus to live a careful life---the word "walk" is used throughout the N.T. to denote how believers are to practice their Christianity. The believer is to live a morally upright life---he is to live a life that is producing the fruit of the Spirit---the believer is to be living in, and abiding in Christ. God tells us that our spiritual life's blood comes only as we abide in the True Vine.

As the believer lives a carefully guarded life in all he does, in all his thoughts, in all his motives, he will be wise and his life will be honoring to God. By contrast, those who live an unguarded life will be considered fools, not that they lack academic intelligence, but they lack moral intelligence.

In light of the evil days that we live in, in light of our deceptive culture where the god of this world is masquerading as an angel of light, Paul tell us that we are to be making the best use of our time, see v. 16. We are to use are time wisely. We are to look at time as the wind; once it blows by we can't get it back. The believer as a steward of God will be held accountable as to how he uses his time.

I'll spare you of what you should and shouldn't be doing with your time---that is the job of the Holy Spirit, and the instruction of the Word of God. My goal in writing is to show you that how you use your time is extremely important to God.

Let me pull this all together: Paul tells the believers at Ephesus that they need to be careful as to the manner in which they live their lives. One way that the believer is instructed on how to live a God honoring life is how he uses his time. In light of the evil culture that we live in we can't afford to go to sleep spiritually. We need to be alert and wise, so that we know what God's will is for our lives. The goal of all that the believer does should be the glory of God.

The Renewing of the Mind

I've have written in the past on the life of the mind. I cannot stress enough the importance for the Christian to develop the life of ...