22 July 2009

Discussing Christian Freedom

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

[Begin Rant]

OK, call me a crazy Christian conservative right-wing gun-toting whacko, but why in the world do we want to say it is OK to have our children, the next generation of Christians (or so we hope) fill their minds with stories of Vampires, the 'underworld', demons and magic? Whatever happened to filling our minds with the things of God and righteousness rather than the things of the world? Whatever happened to Philippians 4:8?

Why don't we encourage these things more, and work harder to protect our children and young and vulnerable believers from the attractions of the world which will prove to be distractions from Christ? Sure, we can debate the 'freedom in Christ' thing all day long, but why don't we instead debate commitment to Christ and His word, separation from the things of the world (2 Corinthians 6 and all through there)?
Psalm 14:2
The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God.

Are there any who seek God? Shouldn't WE be one of them? Our job is to protect our children shelter them from the ways of the world and raise them in the way that they should go, not show them the things of the world and all their attractiveness, let them read it, watch it, participate in it with all the other kids of the world, and then try to tell them to be separate from them? Sanctified? For that matter 'children' in a Pauline sense also means those new to the faith. We owe it to them to protect them and shelter them just as if they were our own children!

When I say that I shelter my kids, it is not to say that they do not know what it going on. Sometimes we watch the news together, read the papers etc. We talk politics, social issues of the day and all of that. BUT, when it comes from me or their mother, WE control the spin on the subject, and get to take them to scripture to back it up. My children are more prepared for dealing with the world BECAUSE they are sheltered.

Call me goofy, but I think it is more important we teach them at a very young age the intricacies of sanctification and separation from the world and its ways. People tell me all the time that you cannot shelter your children from the real world. My response is your right, I can't totally shelter them, BUT I SURE CAN TRY!!, and God makes it clear that we are supposed to. It used to be that it was only the lost and secular of the world that asked me that question. Now it is other believers and PASTORS who are asking!

With regards to Christian freedom Paul said that all things are lawful… and this seems to be where the people who want to relish in their 'liberties' and freedom tend to leave it. But as leaders we must always be willing to step up to the plate of righteousness and finish the verse, "but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify." Why as leaders are we debating what we can do and still be 'OK with God', when we should be challenging our congregations to live a Holy and perfect life, because "[HE] is Holy!"? Why do we not respond when people ask us about Harry Potter and his minions of Satan worshipping witches and say ~ RUN AWAY! And as fast as you can, and rather, fill your children's hearts with the love of Jesus, and the word of God! And yes, you read it right because I said it strong, I said Satan worshippers: If their power is not clearly identified as having come from God, there is but one other source. If they desire and love these powers, which they clearly do, and they do not come from God, they are loving the power source as well.

Our children do not need to be culturally 'relevant' to be liked and well adjusted. Scripture does not encourage us to teach our children the ways of the world so that they can avoid sin, but feel free to walk the tight-rope as close to the world as they can so that all the kids at public school will 'like' them… Rather it tells us to protect them, and to raise them in the ways of the Lord.

Someone please explain to me why liking, even obsessing over a series of books or movies, waiting hours, even DAYS in line to get the next book or movie ticket, whose main characters desire to have supernatural powers that come from the underworld is helpful to our kids?? And we wonder why the secular world looks at Christianity and shakes its collective head!

I just do not get it. We debate these things, we allow our kids to participate in them, even promote them in the name of cultural relativity, and then we wonder why our youth are falling away from the church. We wonder why we have such a high failure rate of our young adults keeping their faith when they run off to college. Are we all this naïve? Or just kidding ourselves to that we can be 'popular' 'cool' or 'rad' parents to our kids? Then again, maybe we are moving away from actively seeking and teaching our flocks to seek the Holiness that God desires and commands us to live out in our lives?

In a recent conversation a pastor friend questioned the direction of Christianity in America. His point was that it is not about debating freedoms, it is about a trend in Christianity that only we as leadership can change. The question should not be CAN I do/read/drink/smoke something, the questions should be what can I do to please God? What can I do to make my relationship with Jesus better? What things can I do in my life that will bring Glory to God?

  • Are we bringing Glory to God by leading a generation of kids into a fantasy world of Vampires, witches, demons?

  • Are we edifying ourselves and lifting up the body when we participate in watching and endorse films filled with nudity, sex, violence and filthy language?

  • Are we furthering the Kingdom and growing our witness when we go to the bars to have "a beer" and a smoke?

  • When we do these things are we helping (Phil. 4:8) the cause of Christianity? Are we Edifying (Phil. 4:8) the body and bringing glory to God?

Picture this: You're sitting at home and just got done watching a Harry Potter film or some R rated 'classic' like Basic Instinct or [insert sex, profanity and violence filled movie here]. Your smoking a stogie, finishing off knocking back a cold one, maybe two… and now that the movie was over, you breath out a large lung-full of cigar smoke and belch out the last bit of carbonation from your beer you just finished. Then, you look to your right and say to the guest in your home that you share a couch with that just happens to be Jesus Christ Himself and say, "Holy [expletive] man, wasn't that a [expletive] GREAT film dude!? Buuuurrrppp… By the way, I love you Jesus, and thanks for coming over tonight."

[awkward pause…] You guys can answer that for yourselves. The thought makes me wretch.

[End Rant]

21 July 2009

What He has Done For Us

John 17:4

I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.

It came to mind today something that Pastor Chuck Smith had shared with us at this year's Sr. Pastors Conference. I thought of it in part because of the celebration we had this weekend of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Lunar landing.

President Kennedy, who had promised to take us to the moon within the decade (1960's), something we did accomplish, but that he did not live to see, started his term as President with a wonderful speech. In that inaugural address he said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." What Chuck Smith had to say was very similar in tone, but with much farther reaching effects. Chuck said, "Going through all of scripture I find a biblical emphasis that is not what we can do for God. But rather, what he has already done for us."

His point was, I believe two fold. Firstly that the work of the cross is finished. There is nothing we can do for or against that work. It is simply a matter of accepting and receiving it, or denying it and rejecting it. Secondly, that we have a responsibility after accepting Christ to live for Him with all we are worth.

Jesus uttered the verse chosen for today's devotional right before He prayed for His disciples, and was then off to the Garden to be arrested. By the end of the next day, Jesus would have done all that He could do… for us. He had finished the work that the Father had Sent Him to do. It is at that point that OUR work began. It was at that point that the responsibility to do the will of the Father in order to further His Kingdom, fell on us.

Unlike the lunar landing was to the world, an impressive feat indeed, we cannot do anything to impress God. We cannot say that within the next decade you or I are going to do something so totally awesome that God will want to create a new section in heaven just for us. Anything we do in our lives, we ought to do out of love, respect and a heartfelt indebtedness for what God has already done for us. What we need to do is all that we can do in order to bring glory to God here on earth in the time that He has so wonderfully graced us with. This day is the day that the Lord has made. We must rejoice and be glad in it, knowing that His work is finished.