Thursday, September 12, 2013

DAILY DEVO - The real gods of our culture

The year I was born – 1963 – was a watershed year for our culture. It was, indeed, the end of an era.

Since the founding of our country, the predominant worldview in America was Theism – most prominently, Christian Theism.

Sparked, however, by Darwin’s theories, an alternative worldview had been evolving for about a hundred years. This new worldview was deemed “rational.” Its aim was more secular. And the transition between these worldviews, the tipping point, occurred right about fifty years ago – 1963.

If you have a hard time grasping this, just think back to what happened by the end of the decade. It was suddenly the era of “free love.” It was the beginning of the drug culture. Something fundamental was definitely changing!
The final triumph of the Christian Era occurred when a Christian pastor – Martin Luther King, Jr. – used Biblical principles to convince our American society that we weren’t living up to God’s calls for freedom, love, justice, and equality in Christ.

That victory, however, wasn’t credited to Christ and his church. Rather, the new secular majority gladly claimed credit. (And sadly, it was easy to do. After all, too many misguided Christians had been tragically using God’s Word and His church as tools of racial inequality and oppression.)

What is this new and dominant philosophy? Some call it “secularism.” Others call it “naturalism.” At its core is the belief that the world, life, and nature could be explained without God.

But make no mistake. Human hearts always find something to “worship.” After fifty years of cultural dominance, you can turn on the TV today and discover our this worldview’s true priorities. In America today …

<![if !supportLists]>·        <![endif]>our religion is sex,
<![if !supportLists]>·        <![endif]>our god is money,
<![if !supportLists]>·        <![endif]>our ideal is self,
<![if !supportLists]>·        <![endif]>and the sacrificial lamb upon the altar is our children – and our families.

Many well-meaning people may say – and believe – that “children are our priority,” but the living condition of America’s kids tells a very different story. Even if you don’t consider the carnage of abortion … even if you don’t consider America’s deteriorating educational standing … just look at how and where and with whom American children are living.

For example, in the 1960 census, about three percent of children lived with just one never-married parent. Today over forty percent of children do not live with both biological parents. And it gets worse. In hundreds of American communities that number has climbed as high as two-thirds. And most of these kids are being raised below the poverty line.

Why? It’s the inevitable consequence of when …

<![if !supportLists]>·        <![endif]>our religion is sex,
<![if !supportLists]>·        <![endif]>our god is money,
<![if !supportLists]>·        <![endif]>our ideal is self,
<![if !supportLists]>·        <![endif]>and the sacrificial lamb upon the altar is our children – and our families.

Ideas have consequences. Indeed, ask yourself where are the hundreds of communities where two-thirds of children are living without both sets of biological parents. Ask where two-thirds are living below the poverty line. It’s in the African-American neighborhoods of most American towns.

The last salvo of the Christian Era was a Christian pastor’s victorious call for Civil Rights and freedom. But look at another new and disturbing trend that this new worldview has wrought. We’re living in a new era of slavery – literal slavery in America. We call it human trafficking.

How is this possible? It’s because …

<![if !supportLists]>·        <![endif]>our religion is sex (which is at the root of so much of this human trafficking),
<![if !supportLists]>·        <![endif]>our god is money (which drives this new breed of “slave traders” and “pimps”),
<![if !supportLists]>·        <![endif]>our ideal is self (which drives a new generation of “johns” who are seeking cheap thrills),
<![if !supportLists]>·        <![endif]>and the sacrificial lamb upon the altar is our children (which too many of these trafficked victims are – teens and children who are bought and sold and disgustingly used).  

If you doubt that these are the new gods and goals of this pagan and naturalistic society, just turn on the TV.

Or better yet, don’t turn on the TV.  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

DAILY DEVO: The 7 Critical Questions

Do you want to receive more power for living? Here’s how …

George Barna is a Christian pollster and researcher. To provide good data, he has to do the impossible – statistically measure a Christian faith. (How in the world do you do that, right?!)

He came up with a list of seven question, figuring if you believe in all seven, you have a traditional, biblical faith.

Now that’s opinion. Is that really what it means to have faith?

We can say that “that’s debatable.” But what’s not debatable, is that those who believe all seven of these traditional doctrines exhibit statistically measurable “power for living.”

Church goers who believe 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or even 6 of these doctrines, live no differently than the rest of the world (statistically). We’re divorced just as much. We’re alcoholic just as much. We do drugs, cheat on taxes, view pornography, have affairs – you name it – just as much as the rest of the unbelieving world. And that’s 91% of Christians. In other words, picking and choosing what doctrines we believe leaves us no real power for living.

But the one in eleven Christians who humble their hearts and embrace all seven questions (the historic core of the Christian faith) are two, three, four, six, even eleven times less likely to participate in these life-altering and family-destroying behaviors. In other words, a submitted, committed faith brings the power of heaven into the ordinary life.
  • I invite you to do an honest inventory of these seven key questions.
  • If there’s a place (or two) where you’re weak, celebrate! You just discovered the key that will unlock your struggles and point you to more power.
  • Choose the question with the most leverage (for example, that God is passionately active in our world or the Bible is totally His Word). Now start praying for God to soften your heart to this first timeless truths.  
  • Remember answering six out of seven statistically produces zero power. You’re holding something back. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s wisdom, guidance, and encouragement as you seek to go “all in”!
  1.       Do you believe in God in the Father, creator of heaven and earth? 
  2.       Do you believe that he is omnipotent, omniscient, and actively involved in and caring about our world?
  3.       Do you believe that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary?
  4.       Do you believe that Jesus, in his life on earth, lived a sinless life?
  5.       Do you believe that Jesus literally rose again from the dead?
  6.       Do you believe that the Bible is the Word of God?
  7.       Do you believe that Satan is real and active?
  8.       Do you believe that we are saved by God’s grace apart from works prescribed by the law?

-- adapted from George Barna

Monday, September 9, 2013

DAILY DEVO: Holiness vs Legalism

Our daily devotions will start back soon. Let us get fall started (and let us come up for air). In the meantime, I’ve had a few requests from Sunday’s sermon. Here’s one …

Holiness vs. Legalism

Holiness is beautiful. Legalism is binding.

Holiness brings life. Legalism brings death.

They are as different as night and day, and yet at first glance they can seem similar because they both stand against sinful behavior and call for holy living.

How can we distinguish between the two?

Legalism is rules without relationship. It emphasizes standards more than the Savior and laws more than love. It is a system based on fear. It leads to either self-righteousness or self-condemnation (or both!)

Holiness is all about relationship. It emphasizes the heart of the Savior. It is a system based on love. It leads to either humbleness or freedom (or both!). Holiness declares God’s love expressed through the cross.

-- adapted from Dr. Michael Brown