Blogging through the New Year on Central Standard Time. Another year is going into the books tonight and where are we? Where are you? Where am I? Beyond a shadow of a doubt things are changing in our world, our culture, and always, always, always things change for us on a personal level. Here are some thoughts on all three. I’ll be blogging for the rest of the year, so feel free join in below.
World. Christianity garnered some sympathy because of the increase in real persecution, especially in the Middle East. From Egypt, to Iraq, to Syria, to Libya, to a mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Christians have been under real attack by Islamic militants. Shades of Revelation chapter six going on in Middle East? Well how about those famous four horsemen of the apocalypse? A white horse that represents revolution perhaps? Check. A red horse that represents war? Check. A black horse that seems to represent shortages and high prices of basic goods? Check. A pale horse that represents Death? Check. Move on from the four horsemen to the Fifth Seal which represents persecution? Yep that one too.
Most Bible prophecy teachers believe the Seals of Revelation are world-wide problems, of course, not merely local Middle Eastern events. Still, it’s a little spooky.
The big change for the West has been the rise of an aggressive populist atheism, and social changes including same-sex marriage and the view among almost all media that the Bible, and those who believe in it, are no longer anywhere close to the mainstream. From movies, to books, to talk shows, traditional Christian beliefs are increasingly being viewed as morally wrong, or intellectually bankrupt. Ironically, this comes at a time when the arguments in favor of Biblical Christianity are at their strongest.
In recent times, atheism surprised Christianity with a deluge of new and old arguments, and fresh styles of attack. The culture, which today values the style of debate over the substance, is often swayed by fierceness of the attack. Christianity is not argued against as much as ridiculed, scoffed at, and laughed away. And as we’ve seen in presidential debates that award someone the win based on how well they interrupted or talked over or laughed at their opponent, so the new atheism uses a new attitude as much as any new argument.
Nevertheless, because of evidence of design the arguments for Creation have never been stronger. Genetics has also presented what I consider insurmountable hurdles for macro-evolution, and even paleontology has challenged, of all things, the age of the dinosaurs. Despite these and other advances on the evidence side of defending the Bible and the existence of God, the debate is as much about style now. In fact, I get the distinct feeling it’s a lot like a fashion show, and what is “in style” now currently isn’t the Bible.
Personal. There are lots of things we can say have changed on a personal level. We may have gone through triumphs or tragedies or both. Kids grow up, we grow older, new opportunities come, and sometimes we leave things behind. This being a blog about spiritual things, however, let’s talk about where our views have gone, perhaps some things we’ve learned along the way, and definitely where God has led us.
For me, a few things stand out. A trip to Kenya opened my eyes to the role of the rich in this world. And yeah, it’s we Americans who are rich. It was in Kenya when God showed me our role was to give it away. Someone has recently said we need to be more ruthless in giving away our material blessings. I couldn’t agree more, but I didn’t really GET this until Kenya.
While there, we gave away clothes, we gave away our reading glasses, our shoes, our spending money, and whatever else was needed. We didn’t do it at random mind you, but like any accountant at any business, we wanted to know where, why, and if it was a good idea to give in this way or that. As managers over a trust fund, we invested as wisely as we could, but we made sure we invested. God opened doors for us to purchase food, Bibles, medical treatments, pay for school fees, and even, before it was over, give a family a new home. Going back to the Bible, we realized the role of rich believers is simply this: to give it away as good stewards of God’s money.
Not only was that big for me in regards to doctrine, it was a time that opened a door for the Gospel. With the help of two on-fire local pastors, we met with people, sharing with them about Jesus. Many already attended a church but believed they were “saved” because they were a member, or because they followed a particular preacher. We didn’t try to get them to change churches, we simply wanted to tell them about Jesus, and shared with them the basics of the Gospel. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ. It didn’t say the gift of God was eternal life in Church XYZ, or Preacher So and So. It said Jesus. And Romans 10 says if we confess with our mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart God raised him from the dead we will be saved.
There’s just no getting around it, the Bible preaches salvation through Jesus, not religion or anyone else. And through the ministry that began with our little group, 42 people who already attended a church, accepted Jesus for the first time. Today, a church is forming, one that preaches Jesus instead of religion. That was just cool.
There’s more to say on the Personal side of things. A new understanding of what worship is, what living by the Spirit really is all about, will impact the new year. What about you? Hope you’ve had a good one, too.