10/10/2008

Evolving Values

Which came first the departure from God or the decline in morals and values?

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20070308/survey-departure-from-god-is-cause-of-america-s-moral-decline.htm

http://www.hyperhistory.net/apwh/essays/cot/t4w32usmoraldecline.htm

http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0216-20.htm

10/09/2008

The most dangerous thing ...

...a Christian can do in this day and age is to live in a Christian bubble, with only Christian friends and never develop real relationships with the lost.

This has been my observation as have been studying evangelism, the post-modern culture, and the church.

You see the culture is more relativistic. They are less likely to be concerned with any theory that claims to be the one true way. They are more skeptical of any type of theory or logic, in general. They have questions but they are not sure what type of answer they want. They enjoy the journey of life.

What they value and want is real relationship. They want someone to love them, listen to them. 1. Becuase all humans desire this. 2. Becuase there is a higher value on this in the post-modern society. Community and social connection. People want to share ideas and blend the relative ideas together. They are extremely acceptable and tolerant of pretty much any belief system, as long as it does not claim to be the "One true way."

Missional churches have placed a lot of time and creatively into the methods of evangelism. Let me tell you, these creative ways of sharing the Gospel, some of them are pretty effictive. But the biggest thing I have learned and like about most of these missional expiriments is this: the foundation of the outreach is a relationship.

Live out your faith, live out Jesus in your life. Build a real relationship with your lost friends and do not base the relationship on if they go to church with you or not. Do not base it on if they accept Jesus or not. Just be real with them. Be honest with them. Love them. DO invite them to church with you, but do not try to force anything on them.

The most dangerous thing a Christian cna do is to not have any non-Christian frineds, not share his faith, live in a Christian bubble. This is dangerous and bad for all Christians for several reasons!

It portrays a selfish "fat baby" Christian and Christinity. We have portrayed Christianity in a negative light and outsiders have a negative (false) perception of what Christianity is and what we are about long enough! It is time to demonstrate the Gospel and live as Jesus did!

It is not responsible way to live. God has called us to share our faith with others.

It shows lack of maturity, shallowness , and misplacement of priorities. Is Jesus Christ your first love? Prove it.

Intentional Christianity.

Starbucks Spirituality - article from Christianity Today

I recently read an eye-opening, thought-provoking article called "Strabucks Spirituality"from Christianity Today.

The article is quite long, but worth the read. The article challenges us to find ways to relate the Gospel to Gen Y and a post-modern society. In the past the answer for salvation was presenting in words the Gospel message with PowerPoint presentations and four-point evangelistic outlines.

In today's world spreading the Good News requires more than words. Christians have mastered the art of proclamation of words. But words alone aren't going to answer the trust question.

Trust is built by actions, not words.

"We're supposed to proclaim the kingdom of God and demonstrate the kingdom of God," says Soong-Chan Rah, pastor of the Cambridge Community Fellowship Church near Boston. "Evangelism for our generation means learning to do both.

"People are not looking for theological comparisons but for attractiveness, relevance, and usefulness."

But the best part is that Christianity is useful. relevant, and attractive...we need to demonstrate it as such. If we truly live it out, true Christianity (live like Jesus) then Christianity will appear as useful. relevant, and attractive, as it really is!

"Simply put: Being a Christian means following Jesus. If our discipleship is not leading us to continue to give away our lives to other people, at great personal cost, then we are not following Jesus.

"Be intentional and authentic in your friendship," he says. "Their response to my overtures can't determine whether we stay in friendship. If it does, then it's not a friendship but a manipulative ploy to get them to become a Christian. It's a difficult paradox to reconcile.

I recommend this article.

Compartmentalized Faith - HomeWord Devotion

Compartmentalized Faith
This devotional was written by Kelly McFadden

A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad.
Matthew 12:33

There is a slogan commonly used when describing a trip to Vegas: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” The idea is that when people go to Las Vegas they get license to do things they would never normally do, to act like they would never normally act, and to sin in ways they would never normally sin. So what if you cheat on your wife, this is Vegas! So what if you are irresponsible with your money, this is Vegas! So what if you…?

The problem is many Christians are living their faith this way. When you compartmentalize your faith the slogan becomes “What happens at church, stays at church” or “What happens away from church, stays away from church.” Many Christians are living out their faith only Sundays at church. And when they don’t feel like being a Christian, they stuff their church selves away until Sunday when they need to be good again.

Christians are called to be Christians not just some of the time, but all of the time. We are called to be Christ-like in all of our actions, not just some of our actions. When Christians live a compartmentalized faith, they do a great job being a good Christian at church on Sunday but come Monday morning (or even in the parking lot on the way out!) all bets are off. You fill up on Sunday with a dose of Christianity and respond as the perfect Christian, but come Monday when your co-worker is late with a project…the evil thoughts take over and start plucking away any good fruit that was being produced the day before.

The Bible says that we can be recognized by the fruit we produce in our lives. What kind of fruit are you producing? More than that, what kind of fruit are others noticing you are producing when they see you on a daily basis? Are you producing the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? The challenge of the Christian faith is being a Christian 24/7. The challenge is being a Christian not just when everyone is looking but also when no one is looking.



To comment on today's devotional, click here.



GOING DEEPER:
1. What type of fruit is your life bearing?

2. In what ways do you live a life that is Christ-like, and in what ways is your life Christ-less? Pray right now that God would move you towards living your faith in all aspects of your life.

FURTHER READING:
Matthew 7:18-20; Matthew 12:33-37; Galatians 5:22-23

Kelly McFadden works with HomeWord’s radio broadcast and content teams. She and her husband Michael are the new parents of Campbell McFadden.

10/08/2008

From UnChristian to Christian

My reflection on Chapter 9 of UnChristian:
This is my final reflection on The book Unchristian. I wish that every Christian will read this book (or at least all my posts reflecting on this book, lol :) ) It was a good read and well worth the time. It has got me thinking a lot and the book has a strong impact on my soul. I really hope we can change our perception over the next 10-30 years of what it means to be a Christian!

In sum, it all comes down to this: being more Christ-like!
We must learn to respond to people the same way Jesus did!
The more mature we become in our faith the more we are able to see our need to continue learning and growing. expect persecution but understand who your real enemies are. It is not flesh and blood but of spiritual warfare. Satan and his demons want to see you miss the mark in your faith. They want to distract you from the main goal. (your relationship with Christ!)

When you respond to cynics and opponents of your faith consider defending God's fame. Not your own image/fame! maybe this will be humbling, admitting you might be wrong, but bring glory to God!

Connect with people with relationships! Spiritual influence occurs more often in the actual relationships you have with people. God has put people and opportunities in your life to have an impact on! Jesus said that we would be known for our love in these types of relationships.

Be Creative! Just as Jesus was a master communicator, we have the oppurtunity to be creative in our relationships, in the way we communicate, and the way we share the Gospel. Breaking through to our audience is something that modern day Christians are lacking today. We need to find fresh ways to communiate the Gospel to a society that no longer has a background in the Bible! Ask the right questions, engage minds, get people to think for themselves about the Gospel. The Word of God is sharp and the Holy Spirit will turn that Word in thier minds, but we have to get their attention!

One of the biggest eye-openers, and heart changers is simple servce. Jesus did it. And Christian leaders that make an impact are servants. We need to cultivate a deep passion for outsiders and trly love on them with all our hearts and serve them. Put them first. Show them justice and love. This will require sacrifice, but it is nessicary!

Learn to listen. All humans are craving attention and real relationships. Do not make the relationship about you. But listen and love them!

As I said before it comes down to Christ-likeness. Have we lost sight of the main thing?
Is Jesus, the main thinkg in your life. Once you build upon the rock of Jesus - you mature and become more Christ-like and develop all of the things also talk about in this post. So to start get your relationship wiht Christ right. When we act like Jesus, when we look like Jesus....(guess what?), people will see Jesus and they will want what we have. They will desire to be around us. THey will come to know Jesus, in just the little Jesus in us, but the real thing!

Fat Baby - Amy Grant

know a man, maybe you know him, too.
You never can tell; he might even be you.
He knelt at the altar, and that was the end.
He's saved, and that's all that matters to him.

His spiritual tummy, it can't take too much.
One day a week, he gets a spiritual lunch.
On Sunday, he puts on his spiritual best,
And gives his language a spiritual rest.

He's just a faaa...
He's just a fat little baby!
Wa, wa, waaaaa....
He wants his bottle, and he don't mean maybe.
He sampled solid foods once or twice,
But he says doctrine leaves him cold as ice.
Ba, ba, ba, ba...ba, ba...ba, ba!

He's been baptized, sanctified, redeemed by the blood,
But his daily devotions are stuck in the mud.
He knows the books of the Bible and John 3:16.
He's got the biggest King James you've ever seen!

I've always wondered if he'll grow up someday.
He's momma's boy, and he likes it that way.
If you happen to see him, tell him I said,
"He'll never grow, if he never gets fed."

He's just a fat, fat, fat, fat, fat, fa-at, fat...
Fat, Fat, Fat, Fat, Fat, Fa-at, Fat...
FAT, FAT, FAT, FAT, FAT, FAT, FAAAAAT...
...little baby...



Are we Christians merely fat babies? I hope not.....

10/07/2008

The future Christian

My reflection on the Afterword of Unchristian:

This chapter in the book is a collection of thoughts and ideas from Christian leaders.

All of the perceptions in this book are not merely perceptions, but reality. There are tens of millions of people who see Christianity as how it is described in this book and there is good reason to why they see it this way.

Fortunately, God i a God of grace and love. There is a future and a hope. God wants to redeem and save! we need to remember common grace. The Modern church has forgot the basics of our faith like grace. When we forget about grace and do not portray it in society and in our disciples, the culture easily gets a negative perception of who we really are.

The simple truth is we need to become more Christ like again! It is hard work. We do not need strategies, we need to simply build our relationships and transform as Christ did.

This means:
getting out of our comfort zones
advocating for the undefended
be better listeners
fighting for social justice
being more courageous
being more humble
escaping the sub culture
living it out in the real world
truly sacrificing
taking it to the streets
being selfless and compassionate
do less fighting and bickering with those that disagree and love them
heal and self-help ministries, doing what we are called to do - what the government cannot do
being concerned with excellence in everything
being consistent in life
being bold
faith in action
changing our methods but not our mandate

We can truly change the world. God is sovereign and he wants to use us. We need to step up to the plate and let the Holy spirit make us into what he wants us to be.

email is for old people...

Something that is a little upsetting, because it makes me "old"
But now that I think about it is a little funny
It is so strange how fast times change
some "old people" still haven't figured out email

And now texting is the new email

10/06/2008

Hey Wall Street

"Hi there rich man....Let me give you $700 million! What do you think of that? ....You like that...okay, well remember we want you to save America with this money, okay? Now do not go spend it all in one place. Alright? Okay, here you go....."

"What is that? You lost it all in one day? WHAT? I told you to SAVE America. Our country is in dire straits right now! And you gambled all that money away in one day....what is that, I have to pay the Congress back? What? Wait, I am giving you all this money and you threw it in investments with risk? haven't you heard of investments that save and earn in the long run?"

"Gee! How fast can you gamble away $700 M? It would take me longer to spend it and while I would be spending and bettering the economy, the richer than I sandbagers in the Wall Street are having a day, watching my money go to waste. Yippee!"

"What's that? I owe Washington more taxes...you mean the that $700 M, that I personally never saw, the money I gave the rich stock holder and investors....is gone and now you are asking me the middle class and poorer to repay their lost investment....you are saying that they (the rich) could have saved America, but didn't and now I (the poor) have a responsibility to pay the other rich portion of America (Congress)? What is up with that?

I should have neve trusted those guys in the first place!"

The Political Christian

My reflection on Chapter 7 of Unchristian:

Dealing with the perception that Christians are primarily motivated by a political agenda and promote right-wing politics.

This chapter did not stick out to me too much.

I've blogged about this before so I will not spend too much time on it.

Obviously, younger generations are less traditional in their political viewpoints and agendas. Their stands on issues like homosexuality, media decency, sexuality, and family is continual shifting away from what their parents believed.
The younger generations are more willing to compromise their opinions to get the job done. They do not hold strongly to one position. As you can see in today's relativistic, post-modern mindset!
Also the young generations are more skeptical than any others before them. Especially of the Bible.

As you have heard me rant before: I believe that politics are important but they are not worth dying for. By that I mean we need to put focus on the right thing. God and our love for Jesus is the right thing. If we win an election but loss our soul in the process, then it is not worth it. Also we need not put too much emphasis on Politics, nor on one particular party. Christians should never have a political party of association. We should go a lot deeper than just right wing or left wing. But instead vote for change. World change through the love of Jesus.

One party does not have all the right answers. Don't put your eggs in one basket, don't vote nessicarly on one issue. But one which is the best canidadte to lead us as a whole.

Also Chrisians need to lear about respect.
Respect others who have different believes.
Respect the leaders of our nation despite their agenda.
And do not get confused by the word respect!

Also do not think you can solve all the world's problems with politics, cause you cannot. God can!
Do not be a hypocrite, but do vote. Do pray for our leaders. And do engage politics with a Christ-like attitude! And do promote good thing through politics in light of the Bible.

The Sheltered Christian

My reflection on chapter 6 of UnChristian:

The perception that Christians are boring, unintelligent, old-fashion, and out of touch with reality.

The Christian culture or sub-culture, seems to be well behind the secular culture. It is not as exciting to outsiders.

The perception continues to build since many outsiders see the "moral behavior" of Christians as boring, dull, predictable, lifeless, disconnected, and a rigorous standard of rules that keeps Christians away from pleasures.

Some outsiders go so far to say that Christians do not even have room to think and act for themselves. Their religion keeps them in an insulated box.

And there are good points here that outsiders are making. Think about how much time we Christians spend together doing things together for our own enjoyment. IN OUR OWN BUBBLE!

Instead of engaging a social club, we need to be out in the world as Jesus was.
Outsiders are not aware of their main problems. The true Christian worldview is not prevalently known by all people. We are failing at explaining the problem of sin to our common men. We are failing at sharing God's love and Gospel!
we are not in the culture creating, contributing, and fighting for good art, music, history, literature, government, science, medicine, education, and social justice. Christians have had a history of creating and contributing to culture in the past and through this they have transformed the world and demonstrated God's love and the Gospel to others. But today we are failing at this also!

Today's younger generations are more flexible in viewpoints, more diverse in opinion, more comfortable with just about anything...they enjoy searching for new sources of input. They/We are more protected and more safe. We like safety. Everyone is entitled to safety and their own way of life and opinion and viewpoint.

Of course, every life is messy. Sin is messy. Fortunately our God is a god who can work in the mess, in fact he works better when people's lives are messy and out of whack.


What do we do?

As is, Christians are not sharing the Gospel enough. They do not even have time to.
We need Balance. We need to spend less time doing in church things and more time reaching out in the world.

We have a responsibility to engage culture and engage lives. We have relationships with outsiders, but are we really sharing the Gospel with them? Are we salt? Are we light? Are we being the city on a hill?
These things take time and energy, are we devoting time and energy to the lost and our outreach to them?

Love dispels fear. Do not be afraid. But let the Holy spirit work and speak words through you.

Have compassion. Expect trouble, persecution, and to be offended. But do not let it bring yo down.

Be ready at any time. God wants to use us if we are willing and ready. Listen to the Holy Spirit!
Also be ready and willing to help the desperate: the sick, the needy, in gritty, real and raw places.

We come back to the idea of balance:
We are to be in but not of the world.
Pure and proximity.
Both are important.

One of the most important things to do is to forget about having this "Christian culture or subculture"
and to simply live in (but not of) this real world.
Secondly inside of this world we all a have a sphere of influence -people we see, live with, go to class with, sit by, in real life at school, at work, and everywhere we go normally.
These people are the people God has placed in your life to talk to, interact with, and share God's love with.