Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Finding Faith in the Fragments

One big mistake sociologists make in commenting on the church is not understanding "the invisible church" or "the church triumphant".

Modernists predicted the decline of mainstream denominations and the numbers do represent a decline. Is this the weakening of faith?

It is a much tougher analysis than you might expect.

Yes, there seems to be a dimming of the light of Christ on culture. In a time where a record number of Americans proclaim faith, the evidence seems to be lacking. Why?

First, there is a gradual worldliness that impacts the church. We have lost influence because there is no real distinctiveness. This has had devastating efffects- addiction, broken homes, greed - can be found throughout the visible church.

Second, post modern culture has hurt the visible church through radical individualism. I see post modern thought and life having its biggest influence by encouraging selfishness. We are isolated. We pick and choose what parts of the faith we want and refuse to acknowledge any authority higher than our understanding. We submit to whoever we want, when we want, when we agree with the why. Hebrews encourages us to "not forsake the assembling of ourselves together"- but we tend to travel in our own individual bubbles at our own pace- with no restrictor plates.

This does not take Scripture by surprise: 2 Timothy 3 speaks of the last days: "difficult times"-"people will love only themselves and their money"-"boastful and proud"- "scoffing at God"- disobedient to parents"- "ungrateful"-"They will consider nothing sacred"- "unloving"- "unforgiving"-"slander others"- "have no self control"-"cruel"- "no interest in good"- "betray their friends"-"reckless"- "love pleasure more than God"-"act religious but no real power"

BUT IT IS A MISTAKE to think of the Church as powerless and Jesus as defeated.

The Bible indicates that there is only One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism - it is the invisible, universal Church- it is hidden because it is mixed with the untrue Church. Wheat and Tares together.

So the big choice is to choose sides.

I love what Paul says later in 2 Timothy 3-
"You know what I I live...and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith and how long I have suffered... everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ will suffer persecution... but you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. YOU KNOW THEY ARE TRUE and you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood and they have given you the wisdom to receive salvation that comes by trusting in Jesus. ALL SCRIPTURE is inspired by God and it is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong with our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for evey good thing God wants us to do."

There is faith among the fragmentation of this post modern world- the Sacred Canopy still stands- it was broken, but He rose from the grave!

The Canopy is Jesus.

Monday, May 22, 2006

No More Christian Dylans

1 Corinthians 2 :1 And I, when I came to you, brothers ,did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

I am watching Christian youth today- I notice some interesting things:

They fall in love with the “ticklers”- cool talking and looking “bleeding hearts” who feel their pain and soothe their dissatisfaction. They feed off the scoffers which are found all throughout Christendom today. These “teachers” are very popular with our post-modern youth.

I think these thoughts when they speak:
“Bob Dylan did not change the world, but Bill Gates did.”

What type of believer do you want coming out of Christian Schools and Youth Ministries today?

One type is the “Christian Beatnik”- artsy hair and comfy. A real feeler. He has Eldridge and Romanowski on his bookshelf and has totally missed their point. Reads Christian books, but not the Bible. A mission trip junkie. He is suspicious of Christian anything (especially music) and dislikes any institution.

Another type is the ‘Reformer”- sharp and steely. Respected as a leader. Will compete with any avenue he pursues. Driven by excellence. A doer.
One who has great courage and is poised to take on the world for Christ.

How do we get the reformer?
1) Continue to push the Word of God. Teach it and hold it high.
2) Demand respect for authority. Make them respect “No”
3) Do not apologize about excellent appearance- Wall Street Still Runs the Marketplace
4) Develop leadership
5) Use loving confrontation
6) Rescue them from doting parents

I know I sound hard line and it makes me laugh. But we need to train… not coddle. We will have to give an account to Christ for our labor here.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Dark Side of Post-Modernism

So... I am way behind the times- but I just saw this weekend the 1999 movie "Fight Club" as a suggestion in researching post modern cinema. Wow- what an experience.

It was a clever movie that mixed many of the elements of post modern pragmatism, including an attack on consumerism and the juxtapositioning of reality and the absurd.

In the end, though, it unearthed the dark side of post modern thinking. If we all are free from from judging personal constructs, then what prevents destruction and violence? Why was it even imprtant that no one was killed in the final destruction? Why was it important to keep the club rules? Why the devotion? What did anything matter?

To cut loose from God means a continually moving randomness without compass in a cold chill of nothingness. And that randomness will almost always turn nasty and mean.

I stepped inside that dark world and looked around. I will still rest under my canopy of the Lord Jesus.. the Logos, Savior, Creator, and Friend!

I am sad for those trapped in their free, personal Hells without Him!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Reaching Post Moderns and Saving Myself

I have really been enjoying an online education to the post modern pop culture and strategies for outreach.

One of the basic ideas behind post-modernism is that all meaning and values come from a personal construct. In this view, there is no such thing as universal truth. Each culture and each individual develops personal meaning and all views are valid. Each person lives in their own world and no one can really say that that world is in error.

It is a fruit of modernism's blast against the traditional world view- the grand canopy of Judeo-Christian life- that guided and guarded our forefathers in Europe and America. The blow against the canopy cracked many of our foundational beliefs. This has led to a gradual fragmentation.

Reaching these post modernists means stepping into their world. I need to experience their world. That is why media plays such a big role. A movie changes my landscape and takes me to a new world with new thoughts- a current popular song challenges me to think in another's shoes.

My journey to Christ at times seems to draw me away from this popular culture. As I grow in him, I am less satisfied. There seems to be no good songs, no good shows, no good reads ... and I grow weary of bearing the mediocrity. But I cannot lose touch or I lose opportunity.

I am not as close to my students and players as I used to be- I am getting more square everyday- I need to spend more time in their world.. not because I enjoy it, but because I love them.

In this new age, it isn't about winning an argument- it is about loving a soul. They don't need my philosophy, but they do need my Jesus.

There will be a time to speak the truth in love and I need to be opportunistic and prepared.

Lord, I have really enjoyed my time with my team this spring- it is saving me... from becoming insignificant.

I press on. I press on toward them.