Thursday, April 22, 2010

Evangelicals Attacking Evangelicals

The new “thing” these days is for Christians who write blogs and other-venue articles to attack other Christian groups.

Especially if the other groups are established churches and denominations.

A recent article was excited to point out that the new atheists are not much different from evangelicals. Both are avid activists trying to covert others to their beliefs.

Yeah, ok. I get it. I understand what you’re trying to say.

But really, do we need to keep pointing this out?

Atheists disagree with those who believe in God – although we usually only hear of them disagreeing with Christians (what about Muslims and Jews?).

Christians disagree with atheists. I get that. I understand it.

I’m just tired of reading established and widely-respected Christian journals and journalists pointing out that Christians need to get away from hating and demagoguery.

Sure we do. No argument from me on that!

However, based on what I read in the Christian blogs and in the magazines and e-zines – this is ALL that Christian writers and Churches and Denominations actually do – hate and demagogue!

I do NOT agree with that at all.

Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Baptists, Methodists – and Christians in general – do far, far more than just criticize ABC Family Channel, atheists, politicians, and anyone else they disagree with. In fact, I would not be surprised if that kind of things gets less than 1% of all the time spent on what Christians actually do!

A Christian – by definition – is someone who has faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They believe that Jesus Christ died and rose again from the dead to forgive their sin and give them new life – both here and now and soon-to-be in heaven.

A Christian takes seriously what Jesus says, including but not limited to:

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…. – Matthew 5:44

‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ – Matthew 22:39

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. – John 13:34

And Christians are so excited and joyed by this that they want to share this Good News with the people that they meet every day!

I’d like to read more about Christians doing this. Is that possible? Because I know that there are far more Christians doing this than is indicated by the blogs and articles I read.

Relationship and the True Man

Women are comfortable with relationships. Men, not so much.

Women have “girlfriends.” They get together to talk over coffee or tea. They go shopping together. They buy shoes together. They scrapbook together. They call each other on the phone and talk for hours.

Men do NOT have boyfriends. It just doesn’t happen that way. We have “man caves” – we like to be alone. We are more at-home sitting by ourselves watching “the game” in our underwear. We like it when we don’t have to say “excuse me” and can expel gas and pick our noses without upsetting the women-folk. (Maybe I’m revealing too much personal information here!)

To sum up, women are made for relationships, men are made to be rugged individualists.

Oh really? The oldest collection of writings in the world tell us something different.

Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." – Genesis 2:18

Men and women were created to be in relationships. We were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) and part of the image of God is that He is in relationship (Trinity) with the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The 21st Century man has a hard time with “relationships” because the word has become entangled with scrapbooking, shopping, being open and sharing feelings – all of which make men uncomfortable.

But when we learn that relationship is really about not being alone, that relationship is about support, help, strength, purpose, and adventure – I think men can accept this concept as vitally important to who we are as men.

What do you think? Add your comments to this!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Training for D-Day

We were suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the enemy. The following day tens of thousands of men enlisted in the military to defend our country.

Upon enlisting, they were NOT given a rifle and sent into the theaters of war. They went through basic training, then subsequent training in specific fields of tactics.

A man of God is no different today. We are deliberately attacked by the Enemy – Satan – and we need to defend ourselves and our families.

We must enlist in the fight. But it isn’t enough to just enlist. We have to go through basic training and we have to continue to train and drill if we hope to win this war.

If you are at the enlistment stage, you are at a very dangerous stage of the war. NOW is when the Enemy needs to do everything he can to defeat you – while you are still un – or under – trained.

Recently a group of men from my church went on a retreat. I told them that as they leave for this retreat – some of them may not understand exactly why they are going. Some of them even may not want to go. That is the enemy attacking them– trying to get them to back out, to give up. And do you know why he’s doing this?

Because he’s afraid of them. And well he should be.

For these men are about to embark upon a Great Crusade. The eyes of their families and, indeed, the eyes of their country are upon them. The hopes and prayers of God-loving people everywhere march with them. In company with a band of brothers, they will begin their training to bring about the destruction of Satan’s war machine and the elimination of Satan’s tyranny over the oppressed peoples of the world.

This is the beginning stages. I encouraged them to, as they return from the retreat, to join forces with other men at our church to take what they have learned. They can help enlist more men for the war.

I have full confidence in their courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Customer Service or Serving?

You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others – Hebrews 5:12.

Erwin McManus – pastor of Mosaic Church in Los Angeles – tells the story of a man who had been attending his church for over a month. He told McManus that the teaching met his standards, the music was acceptable, and he was pleased with the children's and youth ministries. He was married, he said, and had several children. But when asked where they were, he explained that he didn’t yet allow them to attend; he wanted to first check out the church to make sure the products and services were in line with what he felt his family needed.

Sounds good, right? But re-think that for a moment. This wasn't about theology; this was all about customer service.

Our culture has been teaching us practically from birth that we are the center of the universe. We evaluate everything on the world’s ability to meet our needs. Some of the best preachers of the Scriptures (by various standards) have had people leave their churches because they're not "being fed." John 10 tells us that we're all the sheep of God, and sheep require a shepherd to feed them. But there must come a time when we become shepherds who feed others. In America today, it is estimated that over 60 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. Could this also be true in the arena of personal spirituality? Are we too much about us getting fed and too little about exercising our faith? (Adapted from An Unstoppable Force by Erwin McManus)

As we continue our series at Redeemer, 50 Days of Ablaze, I challenge you this week to explore what changes you might need to make so that your church involvement is about more than consuming “products and services.” Begin with this prayer: As your disciple, Lord, I recognize I can't live a life of faith and faithful service on my own. Help me to truly connect with the Christian community. Amen.

A True Man

"Behold, there is a man of God in this city, and he is a man who is held in honor; all that he says comes true. So now let us go there. Perhaps he can tell us the way we should go." – 1 Samuel 9:8

That’s the kind of man I want to be. I want to be a man that it can be said of, “Let’s find him. He’s a man of God in this city. Everything he says comes true. He can tell us the way we should go.”

I work every day – at least to a certain extent – on becoming more and more that kind of man.

Some days go better than others. Today, while being a day late on posting this devotion, I’m being very deliberate in my attempt to be a man of God.

Some of the spiritual disciplines I employed today were:

Reading and meditating on God’s Word. I read five chapters of the Bible (1 Samuel 13-17). I posted some thoughts on my twitter page (part of the meditation).

I prayed this morning. That sentence is five words long, and doesn’t seem to do justice with what prayer should be. But it also tells me that you can pack a lot of stuff into five little words!

I tried to encourage some members of my church that have email and Facebook accounts with a note this morning (which I will post on this blog in a few minutes).

I’d like to do this every day, but I don’t. I don’t know why I don’t. I feel so much better and stronger when I do. I’ll add that to my prayers.

Becoming a man of God that people can come to for truth is why I started True Men Ministries 5 years ago. We’re not the biggest Christian ministry today – actually we’re probably one of the smallest. But I sense that God has something for me to do through this ministry.

God also has something in mind for you as well. When Jesus died on the cross He forgave your sins. When Jesus rose from the dead He gave you a new life. Now Jesus calls you to a new purpose in this life.

Do you hear the voice of Jesus calling? It is saying, “Who will go and work in the ‘fields’ today?”  How will you answer? Maybe you’ll start your own ministry. Maybe you can connect more deeply with your church. Maybe you can simply pray (yet there’s nothing simple about prayer – it is powerful!).

As you grow in your calling, I pray it can be said of you, “there is a man or woman of God in this city, and he or she is a one who is held in honor; all that he or she says comes true. So now let us go there. Perhaps he or she can tell us the way we should go.”

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Real Easter

Easter is usually a time of joy and celebration. The typical picture of the first Easter is that the disciples are joyous that Jesus has been raised from the dead.

Certainly joy and celebration is part of Easter.

But consider this account of the first Easter:

1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3And they were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?" 4And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back— it was very large. 5And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6And he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you." 8And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

And that’s where Mark’s Gospel – at least the earliest copies we have of Mark’s Gospel – ends. For they were afraid.

Joy, celebration and fear, astonishment, trembling  - these are all part of Easter.

And God planned it that way. Because not everyone comes to Easter Sunday with joy, relief, excitement. Some come with doubt, uncertainty.

And that’s ok. God welcomes those who are filled with doubt and uncertainty. Think of Thomas who didn’t believe at first. Jesus didn’t turn his back on Thomas, he invited him closer.

Jesus extends the same invitation to you.

The invitation of Easter is to come closer to Jesus, bring your doubt and uncertainty. You and Jesus can the deal with it.

I recently read these words, attributed to C.S. Lewis

“If ours is an examined faith, we should be unafraid to doubt. If doubt is eventually justified, we were believing what clearly was not worth believing. But if doubt is answered, our faith grows stronger. It knows God more certainly and can enjoy God more deeply.”

So what do you have to lose? Easter’s message is you can come to Jesus with your doubts and uncertainties. See where it takes you!

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