Aliens in a Strange Land

In Galatians 1:3-4, Paul writes that Jesus “gave himself to rescue us from this present evil age.” It seems like every day we’re confronted in new and more blatant terms just how evil this present age is.  On the one hand, it can be heart-breaking to see a culture in constant decline and that reality should push us towards it with the desire to communicate hope in Christ.

On the other, it serves to remind us that disciples of Jesus are not of this world (1 Peter 2:11) and this place isn’t home.  The deteriorating condition of the world should push us closer to Jesus, longing for another land with a Father-King who rules with strength and grace, protecting His children and welcoming them into His presence, face-to-face.

…but does it?

Are you homesick?

I know too often I’m not.  That’s what is frightening.  It’s when I don’t long for home.  That’s when I know I’ve gotten too comfortable in a world I wasn’t ultimately designed for.  It’s when I have to pull back a bit and remember I’m not to be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2).  That comes through the Word–spending time absorbing the Truth, meditating on the reality of another Kingdom that I’ve been born into and fitted for, and praying for a fresh perspective on why I’m still here.  Only then will I be ready to engage the world in a way that brings glory to God and healing to the hurting.  Only then will I experience what it means to be rescued from this present evil age.

Check out, “Watching Our Words” by Jacob C. Price

jacobblogMy son, Jacob, has written a new blog post entitled, “Watching Our Words,” where he explores the affect of words on our relationships and, as a part of a larger series he’s working on, “Becoming a Young Gentleman in the 21st Century”.

I had the privilege of being interviewed by him for this segment (his first interview), so I hope you will take a few minutes and listen to that at the bottom of his post.

I appreciate you supporting him in this as he hones both his writing and his life skills.  Let us know if you have any feedback or encouragement along the way.

Taking Down the Giant

ppIf you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you know that I have been singing a song with essentially one verse of late: Stop abortion!  Now, you may reasonably ask, “Are you just jumping on the anti-abortion bandwagon since that’s the popular issue of the day?”  My response to such a question would be, “No…and yes.”

I have actually been on this particular bandwagon for many, many years, writing several articles published on my previous blog on the subject.  I have long been repulsed and broken over the reality that up to 57 million babies have been killed in the most barbaric and inhumane ways before they have ever taken their first breath.  I have written on the absurdity that a fetus is considered a child, protected by law, only if the mother wants it.  In such a case, a person can be charged with 1st degree murder for killing an unborn child, if the mother wants it, thus arbitrarily declaring that it is a human being with rights.  Otherwise, it is nothing more than the “product of conception,” legally exterminated with little more concern than killing a cockroach.

At the same time, as many other Americans, I have grown complacent in my fervor against abortion.  I have been lulled into the false-notion that long-standing laws cannot or will not be changed, especially over those that have been in place for over 40 years.  That being said, I have, indeed, jumped on the recent bandwagon.  If there is one thing the LGBT community has taught me, it’s that public opinion can change.  Laws can be reversed and public opinion can shift…if enough people let their voices be heard and do not let up.

I gladly jump on that bandwagon and pray I never fall off until the day when, like the slave trade in England fell as a result of the lifelong effort of William Wilberforce, abortion is no more.  If this battle for the unborn is to be won, we must commit to the fight.  We must determine that ALL life is valuable, regardless of the stage of development it happens to be in.  It is illogical and foolish to believe that a trip down a birth canal can transform non-human into human.  We must trumpet these false assertions.  How do we do it?

First, we commit ourselves to the battle for life.  Determine to be a part of the solution, prayerfully considering how God wants you to be involved in a way that will glorify Christ.

Secondly, we make our voices heard in standing against the funding of abortion using our tax dollars.  Think about that: you and I are indirectly paying for abortions right now!  This must stop!  Contact your representative and demand they stand…really stand against continuing funding Planned Parenthood.  Use the avenues you have been given such as Twitter and Facebook to give voice to the millions of children who have been killed throughout the years along with the hundreds, if not thousands, worldwide that have been killed since you began reading this short article.<

Thirdly, we make certain that our spending habits don’t inadvertently fund abortions through the companies we do business with.  Will this be inconvenient and take sacrifice on your part?  Yes, in that you may have to look for alternate cellular companies or home improvement stores, but the impact we can have on our nation can be profound if we refuse to do business with those who support the business of legalized murder.  Let these companies know why you are taking your business elsewhere.  To date, several companies who were staunch supporters of Planned Parenthood have withdrawn their funding because of the public backlash.

Fourthly, we actively support those organizations that work directly and tirelessly to truly care for women in difficult positions by providing other options besides abortion.  In the Chattanooga area (a city I am proud to say has no abortion facilities), Choices Pregnancy Center is a great resource for women who are concerned about an unplanned pregnancy and are considering abortion.  Volunteer and/or contribute financially to an organization like Choices that offers alternatives to abortion such as adoption, along with extensive counseling to help those moving towards abortion as well as young women who have already gone through with it and are suffering from the results.  Along with this, be the Church: reach out to those around you who need the love and support of godly people before they ever get into these situations. Prevention is always the best remedy.

Finally, pray! This is never a last resort. It’s the first (I just saved the best for last!).  Our efforts can go a long way to change a mind; to alter public opinion, but only God can change a heart…something He’s been in the business of doing since He created time.  Pray for the names of those you have seen on some of the horrible videos that have come out.  Pray for women everywhere who are considering or are in process of having abortions right now and the activists, men and women, who benefit by keeping the abortion machine running under the guise of “guarding a woman’s right to choose.”  Pray for our leadership in Washington and in our state that God will change their hearts and give those who are already opposed to abortion the courage and will to engage in the fight for as long as it takes.

William Wilberforce is famously quoted as saying to those first exposed to the horrors of the slave trade, “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”  Watch the videos. Become informed. Stand together. Refuse to bury your head in the sand.  This is not a political issue.  It never was.

Polyamory: The Next Frontier

 Ryan T. Anderson has written a new article on polyamory entitled, “How the Media Are Promoting Polyamory. The New ‘Marriage Equality’?”

In it, he describes the recent push for marriage equality for polygamists that actually began before the Supreme Court ruling. Turns out it was the plan all along:

Before the Supreme Court’s ruling, Professor Judith Stacey of New York University expressed hope that redefining marriage would give marriage “varied, creative, and adaptive contours,” leading some to “question the dyadic limitations of Western marriage and seek . . . small group marriages.”
In their statement “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage,” more than three hundred “LGBT and allied” scholars and advocates called for legally recognizing sexual relationships involving more than two partners.

Shocker. 

Once marriage is taken and “undefined”, there can be no stop signs and nothing will be out of bounds. 

Don’t let anyone ever fool you again…there really are no limits to Pandora’s Box. 

Kirsten Powers: “Crush Planned Parenthood” Article

  Kudos to Kirsten Powers, an evangelical, independent-minded Democrat, for having the courage and conviction to stand against the political pressure of conformity and speak the truth about a glaring, yet legal, atrocity in our world today.  For so long, we have turned a blind eye to the systematic, legal and profitable killing of unborn children now exceeds 57 million in “the land of the free and the home of the brave” where “every life matters.”  Now, Planned Parenthood has been forced to remove the mask, allowing everyone to see just how horrible this culture of killing really is.

In her recent article in USA Today, Ms. Powers pulls no punches in her indictments against Planned Parenthood, clearly defining how ihuman these practices are and how out-of-touch with reality this organization is as master’s of missing the point, focusing on tone rather than substance:

This is stomach-turning stuff. But the problem here is not one of tone. It’s the crushing. It’s the organ harvesting of fetuses that abortion-rights activists want us to believe have no more moral value than a fingernail. It’s the lie that these are not human beings worthy of protection. There is no nice way to talk about this. As my friend and former Obama White House staffer Michael Wear tweeted, “It should bother us as a society that we have use for aborted human organs, but not the baby that provides them.”

Powers goes on to point out how even the most ardent supporters of Planned Parenthood have suddenly gone quiet, though, of course, there are some so blind to their own ideology, they continue to punch the air with empty excuses and straw man arguments or outright denial.  One of the most common cries of foul has been that these videos were secretly taped, thus nullifying their relevance.  Ms Powers rightly responds with a resounding, “Big deal.”

Richards intoned menacingly that the video was “secretly recorded.” So what? When Mitt Romney was caught by “secret video” making his 47% remarks, the means of attaining the information was not the focus of the story.

Put simply, there is no way to effectively spin this to come out looking noble.  No matter how a pig wallows in the pen, he still comes out muddy.

The most jaw-dropping part of Ms. Power’s article was the revelation of an abortion doctor from my home state of Mississippi, who has been guided by a profoundly MIS-understanding of Christianity that has informed his position and led him to what is later in the article referred to by one as a “Christ-like” persecution:

Mississippi abortion doctor Willie Parker — who was lauded by Esquire for his “abortion ministry” — ran with the trope that direct quotes from a Planned Parenthood doctor constitute a vicious attack, but went a step further: He compared Nucatola to Jesus. “It’s no secret that my frame of reference for the work that I do and in terms of generating compassion is related to my religious understanding and, in particular, my Christian religious understanding,” Parker told Cosmopolitan magazine.

Planned Parenthood has, thankfully, been exposed. The masks are off. The truth is evident.  My question is whether or not we will finally do something about this.  We are so good at compartmentalizing atrosities and quickly forgetting the unforgetable, that I wonder if we have the collective resolve to demand the changes that this kind of evil requires.  As Ms. Powers rightly concludes, “When abortion doctors are elevated to gods who may not be questioned or held accountable, society has officially gone off the rails.”  Sadly, that train wrecked a long time ago.

I encourage you to read the full article here.

Boys Will Can’t Be Boys

As the father of two active boys, I need to remind myself regularly of the truth that is found in the following video.

Boys are not like girls and it’s past time we stop treating them in the same way with the same expectations. Boys tend to be more active, sillier and LOUDER.  That’s not abnormal and attempts to medicate away or stifle normal boyish behavior is incredibly detrimental to our kids.  Yes, I understand and agree there are circumstances in which medication is appropriate, but I’m certain not nearly as often as it is used.  Age and maturity will usually take care of most of those problems in due time.

Maybe, like me, you’ve fallen into the trap of placing unrealistic expectations on your boys from time-to-time.  I believe we need to re-think how we’re treating our boys and how we can let them be boys while still maintaining reasonable expectations for their general behavior (and we must be honest that we sometimes fail miserably at the latter, as well).

Our goal for our boys is that they grow up to be strong, godly gentlemen.  It is impossible for that to happen if I do not allow them to run a lot, climb trees, explore, wrestle, fall (repeatedly), make noise and make mistakes, all the while teaching them what they did wrong and how to avoid the same results again without crushing their spirit because they made them in the first place!  I have failed at that more than once, which has given me the opportunity to show them what repentance looks like.  By now they should have a thorough understanding of that concept!

Boys aren’t girls.

They mature slower and learn differently.  My neighbor, who is an elementary school teacher, told me just last week that modern-day schools aren’t designed for the learning styles of boys.  They tend to be most conducive to girls.  When I asked why, she stated almost the exact same things that I heard in this video. She said they don’t allow enough time for kids to play and exert pent-up energy, they expect quiet all the time (which is nearly impossible when the former is not provided for) and punish them when they can’t.  I’m starting to understand this as my youngest bundle of talkative energy does much better after he’s unloaded a couple thousand kilowatts.  Most of the time, he doesn’t get that opportunity at school.

Will the situation change?

I don’t know, but let’s start the conversation with each other and with our teaching professionals and see.  I agree with Ms. Sommers that something needs to change in our expectations and practices in teaching children and unless we are prepared to address it, we’ll continue to see mal-adjusted young men failing to reach their God-given potential because we failed to help them do so in a way in which they understand.  We (and their teachers!) need to learn to “speak their language.”  When we do, I think we’ll start seeing little, immature boys becoming young, mature men, ready to meet the challenges of life with confidence and intelligence.  If that happens, we will all benefit…but perhaps, especially, our little girls!

Feel free to share your reaction to the video or your own story and thoughts on raising healthy boys.

A Time-lapse Virtual Tour of Paris

One of Karen and my favorite places in the world is Paris. We haven’t been there since 2000, but get back there frequently through pictures, videos and memories. If you’ve ever been or never been, I bet you’ll enjoy this really cool time-lapse tour of the “City of Lights”.

 

Paris 2013 TimeLapse in Motion (Hyperlapse by Kirill Neiezhmakov) from Kirill Neiezhmakov on Vimeo

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Video: Relentless, Part 8: Integrity, On the Verge of Extinction

Who do you trust? I mean really trust?

If you’re like most people (me, included), you can probably count on one hand the number of people you know, beyond a doubt, that their word is their bond; that if they commit to something, you can take it to the bank. Can you name them?

Would you be on someone else’s list?

Being a man or woman of your word seems like a dying breed. We live in a world where promises are expected to be broken, commitments are expected to be circumstantial and contracts expected to come pre-loaded with loopholes.

Cynical? Maybe. Realistic might be a better word.

Yes, it is the world that we live in. However, it doesn’t have to be the life we live…and it’s not supposed to be. As a matter of fact, if we’re Christ-followers, it must not be!

This week, in Relentless, Part 8, we talk about integrity and how being called to holiness demands we live lives of integrity. How do we do it? Watch this weeks message and find out.

The Gathering Chattanooga 06-02-13 Sermon from The Gathering on Vimeo

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Culture Warrior

boycottStarbucks

I hate that term. I hate the concept, too. “Culture Wars.” Who came up with that anyway? I mean, I understand the thinking: “Our Country is going to hell and it’s our responsibility as Christians to stand up and prevent it!” I think that’s what bothers me the most. Is that really our calling? Is it even within our ability to do so?

I’m not saying it’s not our responsibility to stand up, and I’m not saying it’s not our responsibility to stand against sin in our world. The greater question to me is how are we supposed to do it and what is our ultimate goal?

For so many (which, I admit, included me at one time), the idea of “fighting sin” was more along the lines of boycotting and writing senators and picketing and the like. While I readily admit there may be instances where people are genuinely called to take a similar stand as was the case with Francis Schaeffer, who at times picketed abortion clinics, I think that sort of action usually has limited results, often at the expense of the spreading of the Gospel. More importantly, I think the motivation must be checked before anything is done.

I have found that the usual motivation for taking a stand has less to do with wanting to see people come to know Christ and more to do with protecting our own way of life. While I understand the fear, I don’t share it.

Look at Jesus. When he ministered on earth, the Jews were under the rule of the Romans. Many who hailed the coming of Christ understood Him to be a great military and political deliverer. They were hoping for another Maccabean revolt, only this time with better results. They had no concept of the kind of Messiah He turned out to be.

In our day, Jesus would be expected to march on the Capitol, rebuke senators and call the president out to be the antichrist he surely is. However, Jesus didn’t do that in His own day, and I’m not sure He would do it in ours. He seemed to have a different agenda. It was a Kingdom of God agenda, which was more focused on spreading the good news that this, regardless of how good or bad it got, was not your best life now. There was much more to life than current experience. So, he didn’t overthrow the Roman rule (which was the vehicle God used to carry out His death). He essentially overthrew the Pharisee rule (which was the vehicle God used to bring about His death). He had more to say about the problems within the current religious establishment than the governmental one.

That is not to say that there are not plenty of problems with the governmental rule we are under here in the United States. There are a plethora of problems and we should stand against those that run contrary to Scripture. The issue I raise is how we go about it.

We will never be able to legislate morality and, because of that, we’ll not be able to win on all of the cultural battlefields that exist in our world today. These include everything from gay marriage to abortion to general corruption in government. It won’t happen. The only thing that WILL happen is that the Church of Jesus Christ will continue to be marginalized as just another right-wing, special interest group of the Republican Party (much the same way that the liberal churches are of the Democratic Party). When this happens, we lose our voice as The Church: The voice of God called out to speak to all of culture from a biblical perspective, NOT from a political one.

So, what are our options? As I see it, we have two very powerful ones:

1. Preach the Gospel. In Romans 1:16, Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…”. This is an important point we must not miss. The gospel of Christ is the power we possess and through it, change occurs. We cannot legislate morality, but if, through the gospel, men and women are saved bringing about transformation in their lives, culture will change. Now, let me say something to clarify: I do not believe that everyone is going to be saved, nor do I believe that all the problems in this world are going away this side of Christ’s return. We’re told they won’t. Our goal is not to establish Utopia on earth. However, the goal of the Church is to be used of God to establish His Kingdom, not any earthly one. Preaching the Gospel addresses the issues we face, but does so in such a way that the Church maintains both her integrity before The Lord and also a humble, grace-filled reputation before the world. I rarely see “political Christians” with either.

2. Pray. Sounds like an over-simplified Sunday School answer, I know. Be that as it may, it is a powerful weapon against the evil in our world. Look at what God said to Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:14:

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

The healing of the land does not come through cultural warfare, but spiritual warfare. The problem is we are a people of action who want to see immediate results and if we’re not standing against those godless people in our world, we’re losing ground. The reality is that that view is short-sighted Christianity. It demonstrates we don’t have a clear understanding of either the warfare or the enemy. Paul was clear to point out who the enemy is:

…we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against lthe cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

If we understand this, our culture war will be replaced with the spiritual one, we’ll do battle through prayer against satanic forces and, unless Scripture is wrong, we may actually see the tides turn. We may actually see people coming to Christ, having their minds renewed, lifestyles altered and hearts softened, rather than the hardened attitude towards the things of God because of the actions of the people of God.

You may very well be called to take a particular action in the face of atrocities like abortion. That’s great with one condition: You have spent long, intensive amounts of time in prayer and are motivated from the grace of God to see people’s hearts change so that they will be internally motivated to cease the support of such atrocities. Then, and only then, do I think the glory of God will be revealed through His people in such a way that the battles will actually be won.

Shai Linne’s Fal$e Teachers

shailinneMy twelve year-old son, Jacob, has taken to hip-hop music.  Now, if you’re like me, the revelation that your son likes hip-hop can be a bit concerning.  I certainly don’t need to mention the fact that most hip-hop music is angry, often violent young men spewing their anger and violence out lyrically.  Much of it simply leads to angry, violent young listeners.  Then I found out what it was that Jacob was listening to.

It turns out that he has become a big fan of Lacrae.  Now, I had heard a guy engaging in “Lyrical Theology” once before but didn’t know much about it, except that I liked what I heard.  However, not being a huge hip-hop fan myself, that’s about as far as it went.

So, I began listening with Jacob and the more I listened, the more impressed I was.  These guys are solid and good at what they do.  I admit that I only take it in doses (guess I’m just getting old), but I encourage Jacob to listen to as much as he can because I know he’s getting good theology in a format he enjoys.

Recently, I was introduced to a guy named Shai Linne.  Shai recently wrote a song that has stirred quite the hornets nest (in a good way) with a song called “Fal$e Teachers” where he calls ’em out by name (a man after my own heart).

In case you haven’t heard of him, I thought I’d share a recent post from his video blog below where he explains the motivation behind the song and then, below that, is a link to the song, itself.  Let me know what you think.

 

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