Monthly Archives: July 2014

If we have the numbers, why does it seem we are losing the Battle?

According to a recent survey the gay and bi-sexual community make up 2.3 percent of the population. Combine this with atheists making up around 6 percent, and for easy math, let’s say 10 percent of the population total. This is a very small percentage when compared to Christianity yet we seem to be losing the battle! What battle you may ask? Well, according to another survey our children, or young adults are leaving the faith at an alarming rate of 60-80%, and if a person hasn’t accepted Christ by their mid twenties the chances are extremely slim they ever will. The gay community has succeeded in having same sex marriage legalized in many states. Many of the popular television shows we watch, and support, now have at least one gay couple or theme, including Disney’s Hello Charlie. The atheists, or new atheists as they are referred to today are invading college campuses with the Student Secular Society, major ad campaigns, and are also portrayed in many of the most popular television series including Orange is the New Black! So do you still wonder what battle it is we are losing? There is a Christian pastor in prison in Iran, Christians are being killed daily in the middle East, and we are sitting back feeling good about a Hobby Lobby case that doesn’t affect the majority of us, and telling everyone how blessed we are! Something is obviously wrong with this picture!
The question is, if we have the numbers, then why are we losing the battle? I guess the first answer that comes to mind is a question, do we really have the numbers? Think about it. Think of all the people you know that profess to be a follower of Christ. Now think of the number of gay, bisexual, or atheists you know. In rural America I promise you the professing followers by far out number the other group. So based on numbers alone one would think our voice would be just a little bit louder and carry just a little bit more influence. But instead, well, you get it we are losing the battle. Does this not concern you? Do we really love God as much as we say to allow such things to happen. How long are we going to sit by and watch? It should make you angry, but sadly, most don’t seem to care…
So what do we as Christians do? There is a saying of a famous man that states “doing the same thing over and over with the same results is a sign of insanity”. Well, in my 50 years of existence most churches are still doing the same things they have done for the past 50 years. First we will pray about the world and the condition it is in. This is a good thing and probably the best place to start. But then what? But then what? More VBS? More Sunday morning sermons on reaching the lost or getting outside our four walls of comfort? More small groups to discuss how it was before it got how it is? Not that there is anything wrong with any of these things, but they obviously are not working!
So maybe, just maybe we should try what the Bible in fact tells us to do…what a concept huh? Let’s see, to love God with all of our heart soul and mind. If we actually do love Him this much, then we would show Him, by doing something about all of the corruption mentioned previously. So pray and love God first! And then, let’s actually make disciples, followers instead of fans of Christ! How far will you travel, stand up for, or unfriend on FB when it comes to your favorite sports team. But for God, if church lasts longer than you feel it should we become angry, much less actually spend enough time to become a disciple. And finally, be prepared for the battle. Again we are instructed to have an answer for the hope we have! How can we expect to go to battle, much less win the battle, if we are not prepared to even fight it?
Let’s stop talking about everything that is wrong and take a stand for what we supposedly believe! Oh and don’t give me the dreaded judge not, or it’s none of our business, or whatever excuse out of context scripture you want to use. It is not a popularity contest! They hated Jesus to the point of killing Him, and us, well, let’s be sure not to hurt anyones feelings, besides God is love, and others are dying for it…

Advertisements

Allow me to explain…Part 2

So I am sitting on my back deck drinking an adult beverage one night and decided it would be a good thing to take my kids to church. Not sure why, just seemed like a good thing to do at the time. So I decided I would start this idea the following Sunday as the next couple days, (Sunday and Monday), were spent recovering from too much of the adult beverages. In fact it was after those two days that I also decided to take a break from partaking, not quit, just take a break.

Well, one Sunday led to another and one weekend sober led to another. I am not one of those people that can give you the exact time and day that the Holy Spirit moved in my life, but He did and I accepted the free gift of salvation through grace! I haven’t drank in almost nine years now! Funny how God can mess up one’s plans huh? I was your typical new Christian, on fire wanting to save the world. But there remained one problem…I still had questions and no one still could not answer them. This forced me to school in search of answers. Life was amazing. I was involved in the church, the sound guy for a small gospel group, and started a motorcycle ministry as at that point I still had my bike. I then felt this “calling” for lack of better terms to preach, and being in a small rural town that is pretty much all it takes is to tell someone you feel called. It all happened so fast. I would pray for people and it would seem they would accept Christ. I wanted to preach and I was evangelizing throughout three counties in southern WV. I was even offered a position as pastor for a small rural church, of which I accepted of course, but never should have for sure. This began my journey of learning about the reality of Christianity in rural America. I learned a lot the five months as the pastor of this particular church. In fact I learned a lot through the Bike ministry also. Much of which remains today and is to say the least frustrating and disheartening.

During this time I was still going to school. I completed my BS in Religion, and a MA in Evangelism and Church Planting. What? Church planting? I had never heard of church planting or much of anything else I was learning in school. I was indeed finding answers, but it seemed no one wanted to hear them. Strange concept to a new believer. I thought Christianity was about the Truth, but found out really quick it is more about tradition, and what makes those professing followers comfortable. I was the bad guy. I was causing division by sharing the small amount of knowledge I was obtaining. But it didn’t matter, I fell. I fell hard. The reason really isn’t important, but the fact one falls in a small town, well I may as well have been stoned to death.

Obviously this is an overview and summary, but what started then continues today. The church planting thought has never left, yet no one understands or feels it is something that should be done. However, I have found a true love called apologetics. And if one thought church planting was “out there”, apologetics is even worse. For the most part many do not even know what apologetics are. And as for the Truth, well, apologetics provides answers, evidence and reason to believe what we believe. Now one would think most people would know why they believe something. Not the majority of Christians I meet. They believe and that is all that matters. And if you want to discuss division, well, tell someone the verse they are using is out of context and see how quick it happens. Or better yet, ask them why they believe what they do concerning God, the Bible, resurrection, or most anything else having to do with their Christianity. I have been tabled extreme, fanatic, and many other things since beginning my study of apologetics. And it doesn’t stop there. Being an apologist is one of the loneliest, most frustrating things a person could ever attempt. Well, maybe not for every apologist, but in rural America, and with most apologists. We wonder why everyone that professes to love God so deeply doesn’t really care to know much about Him, except of course the parts they like and the traditions, whether Biblical or not.

You see, it is not that I am angry, know it all, or as stated previously, whatever adjective you would like to use. It is the power of the Holy Spirit in my heart that brings out the frustration that Christians and Christianity as a whole is exactly what I thought it was for forty one years. Not all, but most. My peers, fellow students and professors seem to be on the same path and thought process as I am. But for the everyday rural American professing follower, well, it appears they really do not care. And sadly I am told it is not just rural America, but that is where I live so I can’t speak for the metropolitan areas. It amazes me on a daily basis that Christians will follow, believe, listen to, and support pretty much anything that sounds good and makes them feel good. It doesn’t matter whether it is Biblical or not, as long as it is what they want to hear. Seriously, Joel Osteen, the “prosperity gospel”, Ken Hagin, Joyce Meyers, TD Jakes, and so many others like them. I know it has always been this way. The point is why I am the way I am. Why I want others to know the Truth. Do followers of Jakes and the prosperity nonsense even know what they believe? We cannot all be right! And please, if I am wrong tell me! But don’t come with some emotional nonsense, out of context, my preacher said so reasons.

There is so much more to say and write, but prayerfully you understand a little better of why I am the way I am, if you even care. I try to present the limited knowledge I have with love and gentleness as the Bible tells me to do. But if you are going to get angry, unfriend me on FB, call me names, or simply ignore me, that is your choice. But please, stop making Christianity look stupid to the rest of the world. And for the love of God, if you are a professing follower at least know where your Bible came from, and stop spending so much time telling each other “people will know Christ by your actions”. No they won’t! There are a lot of nice, good, moral people out there that are going to hell…give them an answer for the hope you have as told to in your Bible! Their life depends on it, as does yours…

Allow me to explain…

I have been blogging now for a little over a month or so, and if you have read any of them, you may have gotten the idea that I appear to be blunt, arrogant, harsh, or whatever adjective that goes along those lines. Please, allow me to explain.

You see, I was agnostic for forty one years of my life. I was raised by my parents, (divorced when I was eighteen), in a small rural town in southern WV. I am not sure one would call our home a Christian home, though I was forced to go to a small church most of the time. My parents for the most part attended also, though my dad was known to fall asleep at times. I participated in youth group simply because my family/friends were forced to also. We had “fun” and did the typical things churches still do today; learned a Bible verse here and there, attended VBS, heard about Jonah, Noah, the ark, and well, you get the point, Sunday school stuff. Sometimes we were allowed to stay “upstairs” in the adult service where the preacher would scream at everyone for what seemed like forever and then have something called an altar call, that also seemed to last forever. Every now and then someone would walk up front, usually crying, and say they now believed in Jesus. Soon after the preacher would then have them get in a pool of water and dunk them, or at least that’s what it looked like to me. Everyone clapped and hugged, but yet later the people disappeared, well except for the same one’s that were there to begin with anyway.

As an adult I attended church on occasion. You know, Christmas, Easter, or a special service to make my mother happy I was there. I remember standing there so many times looking around at the different people thinking to myself, “why would I ever want to be one of them?” I mean seriously, there were mainly old people and the one’s closer to my age were not the cool or well known individuals many would want to emulate. I watched as preachers would come and go for different reasons, and listened to the same old thing each time I did decide to attend. Or so it seemed, the fruit of the Spirit message, the we need to get outside these four walls message, and of course the dreaded study of the Book of Revelation, which by no means was close to being accurate on a scholarly level to say the least. You know, I even tried to be a Christian one time. I got baptized and all. Went to church every time the door opened, but it was still the same. Nothing I truly wanted to be a part of. It was boring and the same people doing the same thing. Needless to say I was no more “saved” than I had been previously and eventually blew it all off as a learning experience.

Fast forward to the age of forty one. I still had no intention of ever becoming a “Christian”. Life was good. Beer, money, a move to the beach and back, a Harley, and of course a divorce, women and the dreaded invite to church and we are praying for you. My goal was to take my eldest daughter to the Bowery in Myrtle Beach and dear ol dad show her how to drink. Sad really. But I knew one thing for sure…being one of those “good Christians” was not part of the plan!

Part 2 tomorrow…

COEXIST…Really?

All too often we hear “why can’t we all just get along”, or, as the title states, why can’t we all just coexist? Well, the easy answer would seem to be we all can’t be right. So who is? And if we say someone else is wrong are we not judging? And we all know the famous, oft misused verse, of “judge not”! And God forbid we were to tell someone that their belief is wrong and our’s is right. So why can’t we all simply coexist? Why is it any of my business if the Mormon, Muslim, Catholic, or any other of the hundreds of religions are wrong as long as I feel good about what I believe? What about the cults, the word of faith folks, atheists, and our favorite televangelist? Am I better than them to even consider that what I believe is right and they, in fact, are actually wrong? Do you see the problem developing here? To actually coexist we are basically saying there is no right or wrong. Is that the price to pay so everyone will be happy and just live with whatever belief is good for them and not care whether it is true or false? If so, we are conceding that what is true for one person may or may not be true for another. Thus leading us back to Truth. Coexist sounds nice, but in reality, is that a world you really want to live in or be a part of? Are you sure?
The point of all of this is easy, somebody is wrong! Think about it the next time we are out “being the good Christian”, or “showing the love of God” just like all of the rest of the groups mentioned previously. And I didn’t even include all of the good people that are, well, just good people. Or the “bad” people, not sure how one would define this group, but what about them, maybe they are right.
So why is this so important to the professing follower? Hmm, well the Bible tells us to make disciples, to love God with all of our heart soul and mind, to have an answer for the hope we have, and above all that Jesus is the Way, the ONLY WAY. So the next time you want to show the love of Christ, or serve others as Jesus did, think about this: Why? Why are you doing the same thing everyone else is doing? Please do not misunderstand, it is obviously Biblical to serve, however, while you are serving and showing the love of God, share the Good News. Have an answer when ask why you are doing what you are doing other than “showing the love of God”. There are a lot of good people doing good things. Tell them about Jesus, that He is the only Way. Do it in a loving and gentle manner, but tell them they are wrong. Call out false teachers, and help them understand why we can’t coexist, and in reality, we don’t want to either.

Out of Touch

Many of us have heard the saying that politicians are out of touch with America, or the average person. I have alluded to this in a previous blog and would like to share my thoughts on how the church may very well be out of touch with those we are attempting to reach with the gospel.
Most of you know I was agnostic for the first 41 years of my life. Yet, if someone ask me about God I would tell them I believed there indeed was possibly something, God or otherwise. This seems to be an all too common problem today. I promise you if your were to ask the majority of people you meet if they believe in God, or a god, they would say yes. In fact many would not only say they believe, but they simply were not interested in anything else because the Bible states that if one believes ten they are saved. So, those we as the church consider lost feel there is no reason to do more than believe there is a God, and go about life in whatever means they feel comfortable. Here in lies where the church, professing followers, are out of touch with what we say we are trying to do and actually doing it. Convincing someone of Gods existence is typically not a huge objection to overcome, unless of course one is speaking with an atheist, which is a small minority of the population. In fact, most believe, including satan, so why are we either a) trying to reach believers, or b) are we really that out of touch?
According to numerous surveys if a person hasn’t accepted Christ by their mid twenties, at the latest, the chances are extremely slim of reaching them at all. So are we to focus on children only? Or why is the percentage so small in reaching adults than it is kids? My thoughts are we are indeed out of touch with what we are supposed to be trying to do. Why or how could this be possible? Well, based on the statistics the majority of professing Christians accepted Christ at a very young age, (4-14). And they did so for numerous reasons, parents, peers, emotion, or some other factor that was important to them at that stage of life. I say that to say this: how, if one has been saved since child hood could they possibly know or understand why so many “believers” are not, or have not, become followers? Speaking from my own experience it is because the average 20+ something individual has been a part of the Christian circle at one point, doesn’t see the point in being a part of it any longer based on the actions of other professing Christians, and above all, especially in today’s society need answers that most lifelong Christians can’t answer! Seriously, why would most people want to be a part of something if they were to ask a professing believer why they believe in God and either get a blank stare, or a standard “I feel it in my heart”, or “so you can go to heaven”.
You see, I lived the life of the dreaded sinner that is so preached about on Sunday mornings. In fact, I rather enjoyed it, or at least felt I did at the time. I felt Christianity was for the weak, the nerd, the person looking to fit in somewhere, or whatever, but it was not something I wanted anything to do with. Why? Because the majority I met couldn’t answer my questions, and were so out of touch with the real world that they didn’t have any idea of how to reach me or my friends other than to invite us to church. I promise anyone that is a professing follower of Christ that a lost person must first understand they are lost, from what, and why they need to be saved. And if you can’t answer some basic questions of why you believe what you do about God, the Bible, resurrection or many other such things you will not have any type impact. All the good, nice Christian things you do, (not that there is anything wrong with any of them), are looked at as just that. Nice Christian things that everyone and their brother is doing Christian or not. Just look at the Masons and Shriners for a quick example, in fact look closely if you are a follower, but that is another blog entirely.
We seem to like to talk about being around “sinners” as Jesus was. And plan nice “outreach” events which typically only attract other Christians. So why is the church so out of touch? Because we are so busy being focused on doing the good Christian stuff instead of making disciples and teaching answers. It seems we have put the “cart in front of the horse”! We have someone that the Holy Spirit has led to accept Christ and instead of discipling them, stick them in a “ministry” or a service project leaving them a sheep among wolves.
We are losing our youth at an alarming rate, 60 to 80 percent, and not reaching the adults, other religions, or atheists at all. This should be alarming, and demands the attention of every pastor, youth leader, and professing follower! Just as we are told to serve, we are commanded to have an answer for the hope we have, and to love God with all of our heart souls and MIND. No more blind faith! Put on the full armor and let’s get in touch with reality. Stop feeling good about being “blessed”, (another blog also), and speak up! There is only one Truth, know why, and call other out that are wrong…Jesus and Paul both did!

Does God Exist?

 Yes, I know there are many blogs out there addressing this particular question.  But this isn’t going to be your typical “Does God Exist”? blog.  Would you expect any different?  The reason it is going to be different is I am not going to argue, debate, or provide any type answers for the existence of God.  And yes, I know, once again, then why title it “Does God Exist”?  Well, as with many of my posts/blogs, simply to provoke thought.  Thought?  Of course God exists!  Really?  How do you know?

     You see, many people simply take it for granted that God exists.  And, of course, there are many others that will argue that He does not.  Here in lies the point of the question “Does God Exist”?  Did you ever really think about it?  I mean seriously, why do you believe God exists?  Many would say it is because of a number of reasons such as, the cultural, or where you were born, your family believes He does so you do too, or maybe it is a matter of intelligence, you just believe it blindly, or you like the warm fuzzy that He exists, and even worse you just believe it regardless.  Of course there are many ways to defend God’s existence, scientifically, historically, and philosophically, yet many do not seem to bother with knowing the evidence, they just believe.  And this again is the point.  

     This is where apologetics play such a vital role in today’s society.  Apologetics provide answers to the WHY questions, as instructed in 1 Peter 3:15.  No, I am still not going to give the answers here.  But should we not care enough to know why we believe something, especially in the God we profess to so love?  Even if you never tell anyone about God, shouldn’t you at least know why you believe in something, other than some of the answers given previously?  If nothing else for your own satisfaction.  If you ask yourself, Does God Exist, does it not bother you if the only answer you come up with is I know He does because I can feel it in my heart?  If that is the case, how do you know Mormonism, Islam, JW, or even the atheist’s aren’t right?  Do you believe in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy?  Of course not!  But yet you will believe in something that you have no apparent good reason for believing?  Oh here we go, I know the Bible states God exists.  That is all fine and dandy, but how do you know the Bible is reliable?  And again, yes, I know it is the inspired Word of God.  Seriously, this is possibly the most important question for anyone professing to be a Christian.  Do you not owe it to yourself, and especially God, to know why you would believe He indeed exists?

     Does God Exist?  Prove it!  Well, we can’t prove it.  But then we can’t prove He doesn’t exist either.  Or can we…