Each New Year many people try, what is popularly called, The New Year's Resolution. Sadly, many of these resolutions don't last long. I believe that much of this is due to patterns in our life that we cannot seem to overcome. Psychologists have gotten very much into our cultural thinking including Christianity. In their framework, patterns can be overcome. But many patterns are set by demonic forces that we cannot overcome unless we understand how to deal with the spiritual realm. Very few psychologists, even Christian ones understand or even accept this truth. If you've read this blog for a while you probably realize I am not a flaky Charismatic (or Pentecostal), so I hope you won't stop reading at this point. There really is a spiritual realm that Christians must deal with using the power of Jesus' name instead of psychological or "positive thinking" approaches. Why? These approaches don't have any power, so individuals often go right back to their patterns no matter how hard they try to get out of them.
The first step is to truthfully realize and face any patterns we have in our lives that we cannot seem to overcome. The second step is to ask God to show us if there is any demonic problem causing it. The third step is to hear God which is no small matter. I find the more I concentrate when I read the Bible, the better I hear God's small, still voice. The fourth step is to ask God if you need to know how the demonic power got a hold of you and if any unconfessed sin is involved. The fifth step is to take care of what you hear God is saying. Of course, if you attend a church that understands and practices this within the bounds of God's leading (as opposed to much of the Charismatic flakiness going on today) you are very fortunate. But sadly, it's difficult finding a church like that, even in Pentecostal land where so many of those churches are dead. If you must deal with it alone, it will probably take longer but you will learn a lot during the process.
I just love this! Over at the White Horse Inn page, there is a great picture on the left side of the post with the caption, "Happy Hanukwanzumas." The accompanying article is pretty good too. You can read it here.
The folks at the White Horse Inn are at it again. Ever so often they take a survey of evangelical Christians to find out what they believe and what beliefs these evangelicals think are important. They love to go to the Christian retailers conference held in the summers to do this. So, this year (2010) they went to the International Christian Retailers and Sales Conference held in St. Louis, Mo. Here are a selection of questions they asked and the answers they received.
*The most important task of the church today is the transformation of our culture*. 15% Agree 81% Disagree 4% Unsure
I have to admit this really surprised me as so many evangelical leaders both on the Christian Right and the [new] Christian Left seem to think this IS the mission of the church. I happen to agree with this statement but with the caveat that we don't change the cultrue thorugh politics but through individual conversions and excellent life-long discipleship, as its individuals who can change the culture toward the positive.
*The most important way of converting non-Christians is preaching, along with the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper*.
89% Disagreed with this. My first inclination is to say that this is why the church and the country is in a mess. However, I am wodnering if the responses are because of the way the statment is worded. If the statement said, "The most important way of converting non-Christians is evangelism (individuals telling others about Christ outside of the church), preaching, along with the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper," would more would agree with this statement? The way it's worded it sounds like the only way to convert people is to get them into a church. At the end of each statement and the responses the Reformationists at the White Horse Inn give Scripture references and their comments as to what they think the response should be. In looking at the Scriptures given for this question it might be that the word "preaching" used here can refer to both preaching inside and outside the church. However, most evangelicals today would not think of individual evangelism as "preaching" and IMO would give a "Disagree" response to this statement.
*It's more important to "be the gospel" to others, rather than to preach to them*. 69% Agree 23% Disagree 8% Unsure
This idea of us being the gospel is very popular today in evangelical circles, and essentially it smacks of liberal Protestantism. Of course we should live our lives as much in the gospel as possible, but as the Inn folks point out in the comments they give for this statment, we are not the gospel. What Jesus Christ did for us is the gospel.
*Spiritual disciplines and regular church attendance are essential ingredients to becoming right with God. 38% Agree 54% Disagree 8% Unsure
I would suppose that many evangelicals today, especially younger ones, would disagree with the regular church attendance part, but I wonder if they would disagree with the spiritual disciplines part. I believe this question should have been in two parts. The responses to each of those parts would be most interesting to me. The Inn folks (and rightly so IMO) say that it's belief in Christ's work at the cross that determines our right standing with God.
*Kids are easily bored with content oriented lessons, so youth workers need to regularly attract them with new and exciting things*. 59% Agree 32& Disagree 9% Unsure
IMO this is exactly why those in their 20's and 30's are adrift theologically. So many of them grew up in clown youth groups. However, I am wodnering if when asked this question, the respondents thought by the term "content oriented lessons," they thought of those old time really boring curriculums. Again, it's how you word questions when taking polls and surveys.
Well, I only dealt with 5 out of the 10 questions the Inn people asked. To see all ten, go here (it's a .pdf file).
Hi there! Welcome to this week’s Christian Carnival #358. Here is the lineup:
*There are a lot of “True Meanings of Christimas” out there but this is an especially poignant one. Joe at Personal Finance By The Book writes, “because of what happened during the Christmas season of 1988, our Christmas tree today means much more than a simple decoration” about his post entitled, The Story of Irvin’s Christmas Tree.
*One of my main interests over the past 30 years has been the study of dictators. Jon of the The Mind Of Jon blog writes one of the best summaries, especially form the Christian point of view, that I’ve read yet in his post entitled, Follow the Leader (Article).
*Carl at the Theological Pursuit blog presents an excellent summarized compilation of scientific fact on why much of the climate change rhetoric is just simply sloppy and even dishonest in his post, Climate Change Fiasco.
*Sometimes a simple poem, like a haiku, can express deep Christian thoughts in a short but effective way. In his post, The idea of loneliness, Rohan of the treebytheriver blog shows us how this can be done.
*I must say that I am surprised at some of the Apps for smart phones and IPods/IPads. Craig informs us that now you can even download the Manhattan Declaration. But that App has added something that Craig of the into Home Blog disagrees with. He tells his his viewpoint in his post, The Manhattan Declaration: A Christian's Perspective. If you don’t know what the Manhattan Declaration is, Craig has put a link to it in his post.
*The Messiah is making a big comeback via YouTube and what is called flash mobs. If you haven’t seen the one in the Canadian food court, Barry of the who am i? blog has it in his post. There is also another one at Macy's in Philadelphia. This has prompted some to read about the creation of the Messiah by it’s composer, George (that is pronounced “Gaa-org” as it is a German name) Frederich (pronounced Free-der-ick) Handel (pronounced like our English word, “Handle). Barry tells us about some of the books available out there on the composing of this masterpiece in his post entitled, Handel's Messiah.
*Many of us will be able to related to what Kaleb of the W2W Soul blog is saying in his post, No Pain, No Gain. Why will we relate to it? Kaleb compares the physical training/exercise classes process to the process of growth in the Christian life. Not easy always, but necessary and it brings results.
*I didn’t realize that we can contribute to the Salvation Army Red Kettle Christmas Drive online. The INSPIKS blog tells us how in the post, Online Red Kettle – Doing The Most Good/ Do you hear that?. As for me, I will continue to stuff bills into the Red Kettle outside of my local market. But good to know there are other ways to support this fantastic ministry, the Salvation Army.
*Wow! Guess what Rodney of the Beyond Belief blog gets to do? He is flying to Papua New Guinea to do…….what? You’ll have to read his post entitled, the Gift of Christmas to find out.
*Violet at the Let God be your promoter has a very good post about God promoting us instead of us promoting us. She uses the example of a popular Christian song and how it came to be in her post, Let God be your promoter. At the end of the post the you can play the song.
*Well, this week Jeremy at Parableman tackles atheist Sam Harris, Christian existentialist Soren Kirkegaard and Early church father, Augustine, in a discussion of the meaning of the word, faith from both the religious and non-religious views in his post, Faith.
As I've written here before, the Emergents are simply following line for line the same game plan of the liberal Protestants. From the big change of the liberal Protestants in the 1960's into a social justice Marxist liberation theology to the initial takeover of the mainline denominations 100 years ago, we are seeing the very same thing. And that brings us to the fact that satan isn't as stupid as some people think. He simply rehashes the same plan over and over throughout history but changes it slightly and renames it. And this seems to fool even the theologically educated among us. The way liberal Protestants took over the mainlines 100 years ago was through the seminaries. In fact, even before that, their precessors, the Unitarians, did the same thing. Satan does the same plan over and over again. In the late 18th and early 19th century the Unitarians took over Harvard, so the evangelicals started Yale. Then the Unitarians took over Yale and so the evangelicals started Andover. Later, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries the liberal Protestants took over Princeton and the evangelicals started Westminister Seminary.
Today, we are seeing the very same thing. There is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Our Christian colleges and seminaries are slowly, or rapidly, depending on how you look at it, being taken over by the 21st "liberal Protestants"--the Emergents. Just check out Fuller and Wheaton for some eye popping stuff. Tony Jones at Fuller and now starting his program in co-junction with McLaren and other Emergents. Wheaton has started a program in conjunction with the Tony Blair Faith Foundation’s Faith and Globalization Initiative (yes, the former British Prime Minister), on how to coperate with other religions to solve world problems. This sounds good to natural man but it has all been done previously in other generations. Let's "cooperate" with other faiths" becomes eventually "let's synthesize (fuse) faiths together. Of course when Christianity becomes synthesized it's required to give up it's distinctive of the substitutionary atonement through Christ alone. And of course, that is satan's objective.
Did anyone ever think this would happen in these two Christian education institutions? And it's also happening in many other Christian evangelical colleges and seminaries. Just amazing, but not surprising because statan always does the same thing over and over and over........ And everytime so-called "smart" people get fooled.
I thought this was a best yet about what Christians should be doing about "the gay problem." It's from the quotes page in Christianity Today magazine (the October 2010 issue, p. 52).
If we put as much time into prayer for the gay community as we did in forcing our values on them, maybe lives could be changed. I'm not saying legislation isn't important, but we forget that those in the LGBT community are people who need Christ.
This has to be the best quote yet. It's from Crosstalk.
Jim Wallis is unhappy that Obama is not listening to his economic advice. Memo to Wallis: Barack Obama has some high level socialist economic advisors. He doesn’t need low level, “evangelical” socialists to give him counsel on how to redistribute wealth.
This last Monday I was on jury duty again. It is about the sixth time I've been called to jury duty in my adult lifetime. Each time it was fun to talk to people around me and I always found some people compatible to go to lunch with. In fact, years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for many of us to get each other’s phone numbers as we became such good friends over the course of our duty. But this time was much different as not too many people were talking to one another. And why was this? Since the last time I was on jury duty, smart phones, mp3's and the IPad have come out. With almost no exception, almost everyone in the jury room was absorbed either with reading a book or with their smart phones, mp3's, laptops or the new IPad. The woman next to me was typing something on her Blackberry phone for an hour. Then she got up and walked around talking on it. After she sat down she pulled out an IPad. Ahhh, I thought, here is a good opportunity to begin a conversation with her as I had just attended a workshop on the IPad at my nearby Apple store the previous Friday. I told her this and asked her about hers. She responded in a very friendly manner and I thought, “Well, here we go. She’s actually going to talk to me.” Well, no. THe ocnversation probably lasted three minutes and then she said she had downloaded a TV program and was going to watch it. I saw she had downloaded the new CW show, Nikita. I love that program and told her so. She was glad I liked it but no more conversation after that as she started to watch it after putting her earphones in her ears to get the sound. At lunch time I ended up going to the cafeteria and eating alone. I've never eaten alone on jury duty. I didn’t mind eating alone, but I thought it was very sad. I saw a few others I recognized from the jury room. Every one of them was sitting alone. After lunch I went back to the jury room and decided to sit at a table in the adjoining room which was smaller and more intimate. The Los Angeles Times was on the table and although I get the Times daily, I read it since I had nothing better to do. There were two women and a man at the table, none of which gave me the time of day. The woman across from me, probably in her fifties, was listening to her IPod. After she was through with that, she took out her cell phone and I guess checked messages. Then she whipped out her laptop and started to work on that. The man in his late fifties or early 60’s next to me was reading a book and never looked up. The younger woman on the other side of me looked more pleasant than the other two but she was reading too. So, I just quietly read the paper. Then the younger woman put her book aside and whipped out her laptop and began to type. Eventually they called a large jury pool for a 40-day trial in January. I got a reprieve so didn't need to go to the courtroom with the ones who were called. After they left, there were very few of us including the man on my left and woman across from me. This left me with the younger woman and she and I actually began to talk. She’s a teacher in Beverly Hills and also had been a vice-principal before her maternity leave. Since I had been a teacher and a teacher trainer, we really hit it off. So, the day wasn’t a total loss as I got to know someone. Frankly, overall, I didn’t have a real great Monday. I blame those blasted devices for my predicament! Yes, I know they’re fun and productive. But is social discourse with someone sitting next you a thing of the past now? And how will we make friends anymore? How do we bring up our conversion experience in normal conversation if there is no conversation?
I take a philsophy class sometimes. It si a part of the California state program for seniors and is administered by my local community college. My philosophy teacher also teaches at another community college. He was telling our class one time that during the class break at that college the students don't talk to one another because they are emailing/checking email/texting/calling someone, etc. I think this may be a serious problem for our society and certainly for evangelism. Add to this the fact that at church the teens and young adults are usually separated from middle aged and older adults and the current generation under 45 really have almost no contact or input other than from their own generation. But with these devices, even their own generational friends will ever shrink if they rarely talk to someone new because they are always on the "devices."
I would love to have comments on this post, especially from younger readers.
Well, it's that time of year again--time for the shoeboxes full of gifts for the Samaritan's Purse's Operation Christimas Child. You buy the gifts and they send them to needy children overseas. Each year I go to a discount dept. store to seek out appropriate toys and other items (toothpaste, colored pencils, drawing pad, etc.). This store has a very large toy department but I have to admit, it is becoming more and more difficult for me to find anything appropriate. So, why is this? Because most of the toys fall into one of three categories:
*very sexual *very violent *very demonic (looking)
What has happened to our culture and to parents? Why don't parents demand better toys than this? Have you seen the dolls recently? They are either scantilly dressed with anatomical parts showing or they are demonic looking and would probably scare a third-world child half to death. I finally found a slinky and a stuffed animal dog that would fit into the shoebox. However, the dog was one of those white poofy things with a bow in front of its head. I wondered what the child would think when she opened this box (I decided to buy for an older girl 9-12). It looks a little like a llama. Or, it might look like some demon god in the child's culture. But that is the best I could do. The other stuffed animals were either too large and expensive or goofy and weird looking teeny tiny ones. I wanted something the child could hold and cuddle. So, this is the best I could do. Last year I was buying for a boy 5-8. It didn't go much better with the toy cars. I'm not even sure I want to do this again next year, but I will as I don't want to disppoint a child.