Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bridging the Gap

In my February 28th article, "It's the End of the World...Again", I discussed why modern eschatology (speculation over "end times") pushes non-believers away from pursuing Christianity and how the church scarcely even realizes that she is her own worst enemy in recruitment.

It is my intention today to highlight ways to bring Christianity into the forefront of your life and make it attractive to those who otherwise would reject it as boring and ineffective.  Remember, we can sit back at home and complain non-stop about how things aren't going our way, how the nation is becoming too secular, and how people walk all over Christianity, but nothing will improve until we work to reform the individuals around us and in our communities.  After all, our nation is made up of those people.

"Anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like."- James 1:23-24

Liberalism and secularism are enemies of Christianity.  For the purpose of an example, let's use a generic American city that would have been considered conservative in 1942.  Liberal movements from the sixties began to influence the city, and by the time the large-scale government safety net swept over the area, liberalism and government dependance were at an all-time high.  We can see this in many large American cities, where practitioners of political correctness have silenced many Christian outlets by branding them as "bigots" for simply promoting and encouraging traditional values and general morality.  As angry as it makes us to hear those things, we have no choice but to reach "across the aisle" and begin reconciling lost relationships.  "Tending our own gardens" won't accomplish anything.  Today's cultural divide is vast and cannot be bridged unless we promote three critical concepts: the appeal of Christianity, acceptance of those who call us "bigots", and a positive worldview.

We've all heard people say, "Christianity just didn't work for me", as if it were something to be fished out of a medicine cabinet and tested for effect.  Any true Christian understands that accepting Christ doesn't mean that you're going to be instantly rich or permanently free of worldly troubles, but I've seen many people grow cold toward the faith in the face of death, disease, and financial disarray.  It is of utmost importance that we highlight the inherent value of Christianity while remaining honest and affirming the imperfection of not only modern adherents to the faith, but also the shortcomings of nearly every single figure of Christianity.

The Bible teaches us lessons in parenting, choosing leaders, financial wisdom, discipline, courage, faith, vision, hope, love, sacrifice, perseverance, and many other critical aspects of our Earthly lives that appeal to secularists and Christians alike.  The Scriptures are a message of abundant life, not one of oppression. In them, we find room to dream, confidence that we were created by the Master's own touch, and courage to stand back up from our failures.  These are the lessons of hope that must be imparted on a society that searches constantly for fulfillment in everything but God.

"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him."- John 3:17

Second, we must practice acceptance of those whom we tend to condemn.  This does not mean that we must condone actions and lifestyles forbidden by the faith, but we are to accept our fellow man in the same way that Christ accepts us.

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us."- Romans 5:8

I am as guilty as anyone for judging and despising those who defy Christianity with their lifestyles and demonize its adherents with their tongues.  I believe I picked up those bad habits in conservative southern "hellfire and brimstone" churches where the congregation tends to be so zealous for righteousness that they can't stop hatred of sin from growing to a hatred of sinners; however, it is true- secular America is turned away from Christianity in the most part not by what we believe, but by hypocrisy within the church.

Take this example from a text message conversation I had with a secular friend this week:


Me: "One of the groups I am most upset with is my own Christian church.  All this basking in negativity and not moving forward with positive outreach has killed a lot of otherwise positive influence."

Him: "That's what bothers me about most churches.  They are against gays and abortions and preach that.  But no one seems to care about acceptance or helping others."

Me: "Exactly my point.  The outward projection is unwelcoming.  I would help a gay man at my door as much as I would help a Tea Party man.  The focus is best put on putting emphasis on your ideas and why (they are good) instead of targeting people.  The case for traditional values can be made in that sense without giving the impression of outright hatred."

Him: "I know.  I think this is one of the major reasons why young people are turning away from the church."


My friend probably has a different idea of the word "acceptance", but the point is clear: these types of individuals, people in need, find churches unwelcoming because the people come across as hateful.  What's the solution?  The solution is in outreach.

" by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."- James 2:17

Outreach doesn't necessarily confine itself to handing out soccer balls in Nicaragua.  Outreach can be anything that you invest your time and energy in for positive purposes.  My wife and I have friends over for poker nights and talk about life and faith and many other things over beers, football, and casino chips.  We've hosted Thanksgiving dinner for our single friends.  We have friends that cook meals for couples that have recently had a child and are exhausted from all of the related events.  Find a way to come across as welcoming to people who aren't as acceptable within your circle of friends and you may see a positive difference in the way your faith is viewed.

Finally, Christians must do a better job of exhibiting positive attitudes in regard to world events and the status of our nation.  No one likes to emulate failure, so why would anyone want to practice a faith that doesn't even offer hope to its own adherents?  I believe Christians are not merely along for the ride, but that we are to write the meaningful pages of history.  If you believe that failure is the only option for America, then you lack vision and need to refer to the writings of Paul:

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever..."- Ephesians 3:20-21

or Luke:

"...'What is impossible with man is possible with God'."- Luke 18:27

As we approach elections, we are reminded again that our people are looking for solutions.  They want a better economy, a better future, honest leaders, and vary in their desires for social change (or lack thereof).  All of these needs stem from perceived problems, so what has been the solution of many in the church over the past few decades?  The Rapture!  Of course, how convenient- we can just ride out the problems instead of using the providence of God to advance his kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven, as we have been commanded!

When people realize that Christians can provide real-life solutions based on Scripture that have measurable results on all of society for the good, much of the world will turn to the faith and apply its tenets to everyday life.  The resulting social change will better the America (and the world) that our children and their children will inherit long after we are gone.  The only thing is, these things won't happen by themselves.  It takes a change in attitude for all of us.

"'...let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.'"- Matthew 5:16

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Summoning John Paul Jones

We've all been following the GOP race for the upcoming presidential nomination.  If you're like me, you've seen enough of the debates and you wish Newt Gingrich would humbly bow out of a race that it looks increasingly unlikely for him to have a snowball's chance in hell of winning.  Regardless of your enthusiasm over any of the remaining four candidates, one thing is for certain- you've certainly heard the assurances of the liberal media that their anointed one, President Obama, will be easily re-elected this November.  Even the president himself said, "I've got another five years".  I hope I can look back at history books someday in my old age and remember those famous words.  They'll be buried in there somewhere with George H.W. Bush's "read my lips" gaffe.

Looking back at history, one can find that we have had ten one-term presidents since the office was first occupied by George Washington in 1789.  Included in that list are several strong presidents, including John Adams, his son John Quincy Adams, and Bush.  The last time I checked, unemployment was pushing nine percent, nearly half of Americans didn't pay taxes, and the vast majority of Americans thought the country was headed in the wrong direction.  So why is the media trying to tell me that this current president will be re-elected?  There are two reasons:

First, they have an agenda to push.  It is a politically correct strategy of appeasement made to appeal to mainstream viewers that do nothing but sit at home and watch TV.  Political correctness, as we all know, is simply tyranny with good manners.  We are talking about a media that publishes stories implying that Americans burn Korans out of bigotry rather than as a means of eliminating a method of communication for enemy prisoners; consequently, controversial stories are pushed out and American soldiers lose their lives trying to quell riots in a barbaric and primitive country.

Second, people believe them.  A co-worker of mine is a conservative Californian (yes, they do exist) and plans to vote for the Republican nominee this November.  He went on to tell me that his vote "doesn't matter" because of the progressive population that seems to always turn California blue.  Others say that there are simply too many Americans dependent on the welfare state for there to be a chance for conservatism to again govern the land.

Let me slap you in the face with the big hand of reality.  Just 16 months ago, Republicans captured the House of Representatives and nearly took the Senate.  Americans are fed up with the curse of liberalism and progressivism.  Gallup surveys say that conservatives outnumber liberals 2-1 in America and even moderates are becoming more conservative.  When you give credence to the MSNBC or Huffington Post propaganda that Obama will easily be re-elected, you discourage potential allies in the all-important upcoming vote to send the Obama administration into the history books.

My readers know about my propensity to reach for my history books when trying to make a point.  Today I am pleased to tell you of the story of Captain John Paul Jones.  Jones was the commander of the U.S. naval vessel Bonhomme Richard during the Revolutionary War's Battle of Flamborough Head in 1779.  Outgunned in a fight with HMS Serapis, Jones made every effort to lock the ships together, which allowed his Marines to carry the fight onto the British vessel.  It was during this time that Jones responded to the British call for his surrender with his famous words:

"I have not yet begun to fight!"

The British continued to press the offensive and asked him again to "strike" his flag of surrender, to which he replied:

"I may sink, but I'll be damned if I strike (surrender)."

Guess whose ship wound up sinking?  Well, it was actually Joneses' ship that ended up at the bottom of the sea, but it didn't sink before Jones and his victorious men had boarded the HMS Serapis and continued their mission.

We need to figure out if we want to surrender or if we want to fight on.  Right now the media and the water cooler progressives want you to know that Obama can't be beaten.  They want to offer you an early surrender and show you why his administration is so beneficial to our country.  I ultimately believe that we the people should not put our hope in the president for the well-being of our nation.  The people, driven by their Godly values and dependence on the One who ultimately provides, are responsible for that.  A moral and responsible people will elect a man who reflects those values; in contrast, immature and morally bereft people will elect people who could care less about adherence to moral principles that built our country into the greatest country on Earth.  With that said, a strong head of state and a strong supporting cast in Congress is instrumental to putting us back on the right track.

"When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers, but a man of understanding and knowledge maintains order."- Proverbs 28:2

"When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan."- Proverbs 29:2

I hear groaning everywhere I go, and I'm sick of it.  I'm sick of the state-run media and I'm sick of hearing people whine and complain about how terrible everything is.  Are we going to surrender and put our heads between our legs for four more years of Obama, or are we going to begin to fight?

Take a lesson from John Paul Jones and don't get sidetracked from doing your duty as an American citizen.  While politics may be seen as a personal matter, you should understand that this is an important election for you, me, our kids, their kids, and their kids after that, and as far as the American eye can see, and there are plenty of people more interested in American Idol than government.  Fixing the attitude of apathy is truly change we can believe in.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Consider the Source

If you're familiar with my blog, you certainly understand the extent of my conservatism, traditional beliefs, and patriotism.  If you understand those three concepts, you also can understand why I like Rick Santorum so much.  His opponents are quick to point out his so-called bigotry, sexism, and desire for a theocracy.  Since the mainstream media, with the exception of Fox, is run by liberal activists, much of the population is led to believe that Santorum is an evil and horrific opponent of liberty and human rights.

Political correctness is a curse that creeps in a little bit at a time.  You've all seen it in practice at work.  No longer is that nice old man who mops the floor after work known as Fred the janitor, he's now Fred the sanitation custodian.  Even in the realm of military, there was a movement to replace the rank of "private" with the rank of "warrior" so as to not demean the private.  As a former lieutenant fresh out of college, I never felt offended by being addressed by the title of the lowest officer rank.

These seemingly innocent examples turn into tyrannical efforts to silence churches and military chaplains alike over their duty to speak out about matters of marriage, abortion, or birth control.  While I don't condone the use of racial slurs or the deliberate insulting of others, it is critical that freedom of speech is not silenced in what many believe to be the "the land of the free."

Peer pressure to accept progressive movements that promote and tolerate sinful behavior often puts Christians in a difficult spot at the workplace.  One of my co-workers knows about my excitement over Santorum's campaign and once chided me by saying, "why don't you just move to the Eastern Bloc?", over my traditional views on marriage and child-raising.  He said this with the conviction of someone who was speaking to an enemy of freedom.  My response to him was simple: "Was George Washington a bigot?", I asked.  He couldn't give me a straight answer.  The awkward pause continued until an eavesdropper quipped, "I guess if he lived today, he would be a bigot.".  While that reply is hard to grasp while thinking of one of America's greatest icons, he was right- today's brainwashed media would paint one of our greatest heroes as a bigot.

Santorum is seen as a bigot because he doesn't like contraception (his own personal preference, not an indicator of a pending law banning it), gay marriage, or women serving in combat-coded specialties.  Can you guess what other famous American shared similar feelings?  I'll make it multiple choice in case some of you aren't big on history.

A) Madonna
B) George Clooney
C) George Washington
D) Lady Gaga

If you guessed "C", you have passed today's test.  Are you like the oak tree that stands its ground against the fierce and blowing storms, or are you like the waves tossed by the ocean?  Values never change over time, no matter how much pressure is exerted by lobbyists to bring "social justice."

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."- Hebrews 13:8

The next time you feel like there's no hope for the values of your grandparents to resurface in society, do yourself a favor and turn off the news.  Stick to your playbook, the Bible, because it works one-hundred percent of the time that you apply its truths to your life.

"The wise lay up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near."- Proverbs 10:14

In the coming years, we will see the truth of Proverbs come true.  You see, while many Christians are busy sitting at home and waiting for doomsday, there are some that are using their lives to further the Kingdom of God here on Earth.  The Question Evolution campaign has launched an all-out assault on evolution with 15 questions that no atheist has been able to answer yet.  Consider the following excerpt from their blog:

Our Question Evolution!Campaign group wants to promote the 15 questions for evolutionists for the long term as we want to pave the way for some very significant things we see happening in 2020 and beyond which are expected to be very positive and significant developments for Bible believing Christians, pro-lifers and religious conservatives. 

Consider this key information relating to the United States: 

The Birkbeck College, University of London professor Eric Kaufman wrote in his 2010 book Shall the Righteous Inherit the Earth? concerning America: 

High evangelical fertility rates more than compensated for losses to liberal Protestant sects during the twentieth century. In recent decades, white secularism has surged, but Latino and Asian religious immigration has taken up the slack, keeping secularism at bay. Across denominations, the fertility advantage of religious fundamentalists of all colours is significant and growing. After 2020, their demographic weight will tip the balance in the culture wars towards the conservative side, ramping up pressure on hot-button issues such as abortion. By the end of the century, three quarters of America may be pro-life. Their activism will leap over the borders of the 'Redeemer Nation' to evangelize the world. Already, the rise of the World Congress of Families has launched a global religious right, its arms stretching across the bloody lines of the War on Terror to embrace the entire Abrahamic family.
Of course, we expect the above tipping point in America to positively affect the proliferation of Biblical creationism as well - especially with the aid of the Question Evolution! Campaign. 

If you're older, stop losing faith in the young guns of American Christianity.  If you're younger, stop buying into every negative theory that your hometown church pitches regarding our future here.  Collectively, it's time to move out of the shadows and make our voices heard with our actions and to quit pointing fingers at the Baby Boomers, Generation X-ers, or whoever else we think screwed up our country.

The next time someone calls you a bigot because you believe that in the beginning God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, consider the source.  A bigot is actually defined as "someone who is obstinately convinced of the superiority or correctness of one's own opinions and prejudiced against those who hold different opinions."  We have the source of truth, which is the Word that never changes. The other side just throws a fit because you have an opinion that guides your life in the same fashion that many of our founding fathers did.

Yes, my opinions certainly differ from theirs.  They really don't like my opinions.  They dislike like them so much that they are willing to push for "hate speech" legislation so I will be silenced if I dare stand in the way of the progressive train.  It makes me wonder just exactly who the true bigots in life are.  Are they those who know what makes a nation prosper and seek to influence society in that direction, or are they those who refuse to stand for the right to free speech that has been a hallmark of American freedom for centuries?

You decide.