Endangered Christianity

The Statement

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I have heard it said by more than one person that “Christianity is only one generation away from being extinct.” Usually, the one speaking is trying to get across to their audience the necessity to reach out and share the good news of Jesus or Christianity will be gone. It’s a combination of a fear factor and a warning. The audience, I have been one, nods in agreement as the message sinks in. We had all better get busy winning souls or there will be no one left to carry on after we are gone.

Question Everything

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Even though it sounds good, there seems to be a lingering thought somewhere on the periphery that tugs on the brain. It asks if the statement is true. Are things that desperate? I believe the statement is one of “truthiness,” as I have heard one public speaker call it. “Truthiness” is something that sounds true and logical, but when examined further, it doesn’t pass the litmus test.

Incorrect Presumptions

To accept the statement of “endangered Christianity” at face value is to agree to several basic, incorrect presumptions:

  1. It presumes the continuance of Christianity rest solely on the shoulders of the present generation, and without the evangelistic actions of that generation, Christianity is doomed. Yes, we are commanded to reach, teach, and disciple, but we plant the seed. God waters. The thinking that it all rests exclusively with man leaves God totally out the equation, which leads to the second presumption.
  2. The statement presumes God is not capable of sustaining the Christian faith. This is not biblical. Even in the darkest of times in history, God had a remnant of believers. Case in point is when Elisha ran from Jezebel and begged God to die. He complained that he was the only one in all of the land that followed God. God responded that He had 7,000 followers who did not bow to the state-sponsored religion. God is quite capable of maintaining a following. Further, even in the darkest times yet to come as spoken of in the book of Revelation, and during the Tribulation times, God will still maintain a remnant of followers.
  3. Another presumption is one that would be shared with the devil himself: somehow God can be defeated. This thought process leaves the Christian believing they are fighting a losing battle. They wring their hands while looking to the eastern sky chanting “Even so, come Lord Jesus.” They live a life of someone who is waiting to be rescued from a sinking ship rather than manning their battle stations on a spiritual destroyer.

There is, however, a danger to going to the opposite extreme. We can smugly sit around, not doing anything, “because Jesus has won the victory, therefore I do not need to fight at all.” This too is not biblical. We are commanded to act. In many places, we are ordered to reach the world around us – proclaiming the good news.

In the book of Jude, we are told to “snatch” the perishing as one would a stick from a fire. Paul said “blessed” are the feet of those who proclaim the message of salvation. In another spot, he says faith comes by hearing the Word of God, and hearing by someone telling. Jesus gave us the Great Commission in the 28th chapter of Mathew, to go into all the world. We, as the church, are expected to be obedient to the commands and calls.

The Conclusion

Truly, it is a joint venture with God and His church to continue what Jesus started. There will always be someone who responds to the love of Christ and then will be obedient to tell others, who then respond. There is no danger of the Church going anywhere. It might get lazy. It might get beat down. It might dwindle. It might even lose power, but the Bride of Christ will continue on until He says it’s the end of the age.

Why I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost

Ghost Busters
Logo from the movie Ghostbusters.

Who ya gonna call?

Yes, I know the word “ain’t” isn’t proper English grammar and there is a double negative. It is just when hauntings and ghost sightings are mentioned I hear the theme from Ghostbusters start off in my head. Personally, I don’t believe in ghosts per se. Okay, one Ghost, and I am not afraid of Him, but I will get to that in a minute. Let’s explore the possibility that there are or are not ghosts. As with any subject supernatural, I use the Bible as my premise and foundation.

Ghosts Defined

A ghost, as defined by Encarta Dictionary: English (North America) is “the supposed spirit of somebody who has died, believed to appear as a shadowy form or to cause sounds, the movement of objects, or a frightening atmosphere in a place.” As defined, I do not believe ghosts exist. You could probably bring to this argument, hundreds, if not thousands of arguments to the contrary. These would include haunted houses with unexplained phenomena ranging from thumping noises to furniture moving, to a cold presence, and sick owners. I could not dispute what these people have encountered. My question would be: was it ghosts? I think not.

I believe in angels, fallen angels, demons, and/or evil spirits. Nothing more. I think that all the hauntings, evil and cold presences, sicknesses, and thumping noises are demonic in nature.

Why?

To answer this, we have to go back to the beginning of the creation of man and the world to the first account of fallen angels. The king of fallen angels has been called by many names throughout the years: the Devil, Lucifer, Satan, Father of Lies, the Accuser, etc. Not exactly human-friendly terms. Most religions of the world have this evil being as the leader of all this evil. He not only hates God but all that is good and created by God, especially humans.

Also in creation, we can find why he hates humans so much. After God created all and saw that it was good, He created man in his image (See Being Fully Human for more discussion). The man was the crown of God’s creation and above all the world of created beings. Satan would and does attack the closest thing to God and to God’s heart: man. One of the most effective ways to injure a man is not to attack him, instead to attack his family.

How?

Several of the demonic tactics in luring humans away from God is to seed doubt in our minds, especially in times of sorrow or stress. This accounts for the seeing of loved ones or even animals shortly after their death. Humans seek stability through reasoning and answers. We do not like change and pain. We prefer pleasure and simplicity. Demons appear as our loved ones in an attempt to question what we know and lead us away from God. Many times God is silent to the passing of our loved ones. He has His reasons, even if we don’t agree with them. We long to see them again. If demonic activity allows for our greatest longing during our most enormous pain, to see our loved ones again, then we tend to relieve the pain through acceptance.

Summary

The Bible clearly states concerning Christians for us to be separate from the body is to be present with the Lord. Though some religions mention the body lingering for up to three days before departing, the Bible does not teach this. There is no mention of people hanging around or visiting loved ones once departing this life. Rather, there is a void that exists. Then something else is impersonating our loved ones. Satan and evil forces exist and will do almost anything to keep you from the one true Holy Ghost. This Ghost or Spirit is not to be feared but loved since He is the Spirit of Love. So now, who ya gonna call?

4 Philosophical Ways to Know Jesus

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The Thinker. Sculpture by Auguste Rodin.

The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer stated there are four basic rules of philosophical argument or debate. These rules help govern debates through logical steps and conclusions. Here are the basic principles in simplified form:

  1. Everything that is, exists.
  2. Nothing can simultaneously be and not be.
  3. Each and every thing either is or is not.
  4. Of everything that is, it can be found why it is.

So, how do these rules of philosophical debate stack up when discussing who Jesus was and is? When conducting any investigation one must use facts as stated by reliable witnesses if the investigator is not an eyewitness to the events. So it is also with any debate or argument.

Everything that is, exists.

Over the years there have been attempts to prove Jesus of Nazareth never existed. These investigators come up, not surprisingly, short of concrete proof for the His non-existence. On the contrary, history is replete with factual evidence of Jesus’ existence so vast that it cannot be listed here. From the Bible to Josephus to early church fathers, the references are there. It begs the question: does He still exist like Christianity claims?

Nothing can simultaneously be and not be.

Many have said through the ages that Jesus was a good man or a good, moral teacher. He claimed of Himself to be the Son of God and the Savior of the World. C.S. Lewis and Josh McDowell stated Jesus was: a lunatic, a liar, or the Son of God. A lunatic could not, and would not have had the mental capacity to establish the ways, beliefs, or truths of Christianity. No liar could be a good man or moral. This leaves Him to be who He said he was: the Son of God and Savior of the World. He cannot be a lunatic, liar, and the Son of God simultaneously. He has to be one and not be the others.

Each and every thing either is or is not.

Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and in fact, God Himself. This same claim was, and is made of Him by Christians since His death and proclaimed resurrection from the dead. He either is what He says He is or He is not. He cannot be the Son of God and not be the Son of God. When speaking to the religious leaders of the day he stated the proofs of His deity: His miracles, His words, and the testimony of others to include: God the Father, John the Baptist, the Holy Scriptures, and those He had healed. These witnesses being reliable as they are, also provides evidence that He still exists today.

Of everything that is, it can be found why it is.

What of Jesus’ existence on earth? If He was, and is truly God, as He and His followers have stated, why was He here on earth? His mission is stated in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (ESV) There is a thief who steals everything from man that can be stolen. This includes our joy, our purpose, our souls, and our lives. Just look around the world today and throughout history. Jesus came to stop the thief and give man back all he was designed by God to have. That starts with his life eternal. This is the difference between Christianity and all the world’s religions and belief systems. Man’s spirit is dead within him. Jesus creates that spirit to come to new life; a new creation. He offers and requires a spiritual renewal. The world religions and belief systems neither require, nor offer such renewal.

You Can Know

Those who would debate against the existence, mission, and validity of Jesus have not examined all the evidence. Rather they have taken the stance of “My mind is made up don’t confuse me with the facts.” Two great books filled with the evidences of Jesus and His mission is The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel and New Evidence That Demands a Verdict
by Josh McDowell. Examine the evidence and know Jesus existed. He was more than a moral teacher. He is who He says He is and He wants a deeper relationship with you. I invite you to start your relationship with Him today. Click on the link below to learn more.

Begin a Relationship With Jesus

Being Fully Human: Claim Your Birthright
       

Finding Something Better Than a Golden Dome

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Golden Dome of the Georgia State Capitol

 

On the street corner in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, a friend and I were standing, chatting, and waiting for the little pedestrian icon to turn from orange to white so we could cross the street. An older woman came up to us and looked passed us up to the top of a building beyond.

“I am not concerned about Jesus Saves,” she said. “I am looking for the golden dome. Do you know where it is?”

It took us a minute to realize what she was asking. I think our hesitations cast some doubt in her mind as to whether we could give her a trustworthy and satisfactory answer. My friend’s name being Jesus (Hey-Zues) added to my confusion. We guessed she was talking about the golden dome that sits atop of the state capitol government building along Washington and Trinity streets in downtown Atlanta (More about the Georgia State Capitol) . We pointed in the general direction of where we believed it to be. With apparent no trust in our judgment, the lady headed in another direction. The dome was indeed in the direction in which we had pointed.

Jesus Saves

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Steeple with “Jesus Saves” on both sides.

 

Jesus and I continued towards a building where we were to conduct an inspection, discussing the strange encounter. We were not sure what she had meant by her not being “concerned about Jesus Saves.” Part of our inspection included the roof top. We decided to go there first. Once upon the flat roof I surveyed the Atlanta skyline. I saw a steeple with the words “Jesus Saves” on the side of it. I looked down and saw the street corner where the lady had spoken to us. Other buildings had blocked our view of the steeple where the brief discussion had taken place. I realized what her statement meant. She wasn’t looking for this building, but for the building with the golden dome.

This woman echoed the sentiments of so many people. They don’t care too much about “Jesus Saves.” They just want to know the direction to the golden dome. Jesus addressed this very concern of the world’s obsession with things that are limited and false. People prefer the shiny things in life to what Jesus has to offer. The golden dome this lady sought has twenty ounces of gold leaf covering it. It is estimated to be worth $30,000. As impressive as it sounds, it is still temporal.

The golden dome represents man made government and society. In Isaiah 6:9a, the government and kingdom of God is spoken of. The scripture says “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder.” (ESV, italics are mine for emphasis). The government of man shall pass away in all its imperfections, but the government and kingdom of God will not.  Jesus saves from the temporal and faulty government of man and replaces it with His kingdom. It starts now in our hearts and will be in full force when Jesus sets up His kingdom at the end of time.

We pointed the lady in the right direction, but, again like the world she didn’t trust us with our directions any more than she trusted Jesus to save her. I wonder if she even knew what she was asking. I know she meant it one way, but it could be taken another. I wonder if she thought, “What is it that Jesus saves from?” Based on her statement and then her interaction with us, I would hazard a guess that she never gave the statement a second thought, much less a deeper meaning. She, after all was “not too concerned with Jesus Saves.”

I, on the other hand am very glad Jesus Saves and Jesus saved me. As Ravi Zacharias has said, “Jesus did not come to earth to make bad people good. No, He came to earth to make dead people alive.” Jesus saved me from death. He saved me from a life of aimlessness and worthlessness. He saved me from the slavery of sin and deceit. He saved me from eternal separation from God and he saved me from unrighteousness. He saved me from me. He came to give me life and that more abundantly. He did all that by the renewing of my spirit. This is what it means to be born again; to be born to new life and to become a new creature. This is how Jesus Saves. This is the good news we must tell to others, even those who are not so concerned that Jesus saves and prefer the gold and golden domes.

Getting to Know Jesus

Find out more about the abundant life with Jesus at the links below.

Are You a Watchman?

Christianity Coexist? It Cannot Happen.

Christianty Coexist? It cannot happen.

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Perhaps you have seen this bumper sticker of late that suggests all the world’s religions, movements, and beliefs should just get along and play nice: they should coexist. It is kind of like the saying “to live and just let live.” Those who display such stickers or embrace this stance do not understand there is one of those “religions” that cannot just coexist.  I am sure you noticed I put the word religion in “”. This is not a grammatical error because though Christianity is a religion to many, it was never designed to be.

Though the symbols of all belief systems are not displayed in the sticker, it is intended to be all inclusive. This thought process in and of itself is Hinduistic in nature. It says, “There is room for every belief system.” The saying “all roads lead to Rome” or better, “all beliefs lead to heaven” is its mantra. There in is the rub. Christianity by its very nature cannot be all inclusive to all beliefs though it is welcoming to all who would believe.

An examination of Christianity will find it similar in nature to many of the belief systems of the world:

  • There are many who claim their founder was an Avatar or incarnation of a/the Supreme Being.
  • Some claim their founder was born in unusual or supernatural circumstances.
  • Some belief systems claim their founder died and was resurrected from the dead.
  • Many systems claim a higher road of living with ethical precepts. These precepts are offered in a systematic order of conduct. There are various levels of being or living which is dependent upon how closely the precepts are adhered to. The greater the adherence to the belief systems’ precepts, the greater or closer one will be in the walk to attaining the goal or to the Supreme Being or Universe.
  • Many systems offer a way to heaven or at least a calmer existence in the afterlife.
  • Many claim theirs is the only way to attain this afterlife and/or oneness with the Supreme Being or at least with the Universe.
  • Many systems claim when one attains the blissful afterlife, they have simultaneously saved themselves from an alternate hellish afterlife.

What makes Christianity so different from all other world belief systems? All the claims made above can and are made concerning Jesus and the belief system He offered with two exceptions: the spiritual condition of man and the cure for it. Like many of the world systems Christianity says mankind is in a state of imperfectness and there must be some alteration to make him viable to gain all that is offered. Where most, if not all belief systems encourage a gradual becoming, Jesus states man must have a new beginning first. Many belief systems see the becoming as a journey that starts at birth. Some state it crosses many lives and many attempts. Christianity sees man as a dead spirit and there is no way he can cause that spirit to live again. In his spiritually dead state he is separated from God and his ultimate destiny is in a place of eternal separation.

Christians call this new beginning being “born again.” Jesus used this terminology in the book of John and chapter three. In His discussion with Nicodemus He stated everyone must be born again. Paul calls it being a new creation. Jesus further tells Nicodemus that this new birth comes from believing in Him, the Son of God. The Bible clearly explains how Jesus died on the cross in our place. It wasn’t an accident, it was intentional. None of the major world belief systems have a founder who willingly and purposely died in the place of its adherents. Nor does any of the world religions require the adherents to accept the substitutionary death of their founder as the only way to gain the salvation spoken of in its precepts. Jesus further explains the reason for His death and resurrection: the love of the Father.

If someone claims to be a Christian but has never come to the place where their spirit has been renewed by the Spirit of God then their brand of Christianity is no different than any other belief system. They may follow every rule outlined but they have in essence taken the precepts of Jesus and made them an ethical system. This is one of reasons people think it should and could coexist with all other world systems when in fact it is more than an ethical system. In the words of Jesus “You must be born again.” At that point, the journey really begins. Have you been born again and are living the abundant life Jesus promised to provide? Or are you living a life which seeks to emulate an ethical system? It’s a choice and not to choose is to choose not to have.

If you would like to know more about being  born again, click on the link below.

To Be Born Again

Are You a Watchman?

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Invariably when I broach this subject I am quizzed about the Watchtower booklets used by the Jehovah’s Witness. And so, right up front let me say that these are not the same. Rather, this is a term used in the bible in Ezekiel, Chapter 33, and verses 1-11. In this chapter God addressed Ezekiel in such a manner that it leads some scholars to believe God was talking to anyone who is called to be part of the clergy. Some scholars will say God is using this example to Ezekiel to highlight the duty of all Christians. Either way there is a lesson to be learned here. I am not going to write out all the verses. Those that I quote will be from the Revised English Standard.

The people of the Old Testament times were mostly nomads; some people had become city dwellers as a means of safety. Whether nomad or city dweller, danger lurked in the form of marauding bands or raiding armies. A watchman was necessary to warn the people of incoming danger. The watchman would take the highest vantage point to scan the horizon for trouble. From the highest sand dune, cliff, or pinnacle of the city tower, he would keep an eye out for threats. We obviously want people with certain qualities to fulfill these positions. They need to be able to see communicate clearly. We don’t want a blind mute watching for us.

God set Ezekiel up a watchman. He was told to warn the people of Israel as God’s spokesman. What God told him, he was to tell the people. God specifically told Ezekiel, the Watchman to warn the wicked that they will die in their wickedness. There were two possible scenarios here God describes along with the outcomes of each.

  1. The Watchman, given a clear word from God to warn the wicked people of their wickedness and to turn away from it, decides not to warn the people. The people will surely die, but God will hold the Watchman accountable because the people did not have a chance to change from their wickedness.
  2. The Watchman does tell the people they are going to die in their wickedness and they don’t repent of their wicked ways. Again, the wicked will die in their wickedness, but the Watchman will not be held accountable. He did what he was instructed to do.

In the first scenario the wicked are not warned and God says that person will be “taken away in his iniquity.” Iniquity is immoral behavior. If left unchecked, the person will be lost in it. Can people be so blind to their immoral lives? Yes, they see nothing wrong with their lives and who are you to point it out? You got to be careful here. If God tells you to speak with someone about their immoral lifestyle, you better be sure it is from God and you go in His power, not your own. Conversely, if God has told you to address the immoral ways of someone and you don’t speak up, then God is going to hold you accountable for not speaking to that person. This isn’t so easy with family or friends, is it?

The part of the equation besides God’s power is the reason for the telling, which brings us several questions:

  • Do Christians have a right to correct/confront non-Christians? It is not a matter of right; it is a matter of obligation, obedience, attitude, and desired outcomes. Again, is God telling you to do it or are you doing it in an attitude of being offended or judgmental? Do you just want them to stop the behavior or do you want them to see they are lost in that sin without a Savior? If you want them to meet Jesus then it won’t be a “come to Jesus meeting.”
  • Do Christians have a right to correct/confront Christians? Here too, it is not a matter of a right as much as it is a matter of obligation. Believe it or not, Christians and non-Christians have a different standard. God does not expect the unbeliever to act like a Christian. He expects them to become Christians. God also does not expect Christians to behave like unbelievers. The correction here is to bring a brother or sister, someone who is part of the family, back into a right relationship with the family. Their iniquity separates them from fellow brothers and sisters as well as the Father.

Above all things, there is to be an attitude of love. We talk to the immoral unbeliever because we love them and want them to live up to the spiritual purpose God created them for. We lovingly confront the brother or sister because we love them and, like God, want what is best for them in their walk with Him. In the last two verses God makes it plan that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Rather, as a loving Father He implores them to turn back from their wickedness to find life. He asks, “Why will you die?”

Divine Appointments & Stray Cats

Sally Cat

As I looked out the window from my third floor hotel room overlooking the parking lot, I notice two cats slinking their way across the lot. One of them obviously was in charge of the two since she or he had the lead. The other followed like a good underling. Not far back, came another cat some distance as if she or he was a subordinate, but not allowed to walk in close proximity to the leader. It was somewhat interesting to watch as they stopped and sniffed tires and pieces of trash, one cat after another. I am no stranger to cats since we have six ourselves. Almost all of them were strays that had no one until we took them in. They too, have a pecking order and they know who is in charge.

Later that night I had to gas up the rental car I was to turn in at the airport the next morning. Being a people person I watched the folks around me fueling up their cars or going in and out of the convenience store. My daughter refers to this activity of watching people as “creeping” and jokingly calls me a creeper when she sees me. For example, the car in front of me was empty and the driver was nowhere around. I thought it was odd how the car was pulled a little too far forward of the pump for gas. I had to almost touch bumpers with it in order for me to reach the gas nozzle to the car.

Across from my gas dispenser, I noticed a young lady who I thought was a little underdressed in the night air of 30 something degrees. She was talking to a man who was fueling his truck. They conversed while she propped over the tailgate of his truck. She must be with him and is about to go into the store, I thought. He never looked at her and had his back to her as he pumped his gas. He shook his head in disagreement with something she said. She smiled and headed for the store, but she never went in. Instead she went to another car to speak to yet another man. Out of the corner of my eye, to my left, I saw another young woman, though older than the first. She was a little more dressed as she had a shawl to keep her warmer.

The driver of the car in front of me came back and began to pump his gas. He had been stopped by the first woman and after a few words they parted ways. She headed out into the parking lot where the second woman was now. The second woman headed for towards the intersection and the younger, first woman followed. She stopped at the intersection and leaned into the passenger side window of a vehicle waiting at the stop light. She conversed with the driver while woman number two leaned against a power pole at the same intersection. They reminded me of the cats who I had seen earlier on the prowl looking for opportunity; human strays that didn’t seem to have a home or fit into society. I finished fueling the car and drove away. In my rear view mirror I saw the younger girl still leaning into the car and the older one was joining her. I thought about how I would have reacted if they had approached me. I had helped a young man at that very same gas station earlier in the month on a similar night. I hadn’t hesitated when he approached. It was almost like God told him to speak to me and God told me to help him and I did. I pray for him often. Maybe God told them I was not worth their time. I smiled at the thought.

Except for the grace of God, I would be like those strays even today. I recognized that grace and accepted it. How many people are offered the love, mercy, and grace God offers and they turn Him down. We are not supposed to keep all that to ourselves. We are to be sensitive to the voice of God and to be Jesus to the world. That means we sometimes are in awkward situations, approached by people who are not like us, and to be ready to touch their lives as God sees fit. If we are not willing to be used, God will not waste His time putting hurting, lost, strays into our lives. It is called Divine Appointments. I am glad Jesus put me in the life of those who reached out to my family when I was young. The second son of a single mother, I for all intents and purposes was a stray, but I didn’t know I was a stray. Jesus said He came to seek and save the lost. He expects us to do the same. If we are not looking for the lost we will never see them and we won’t be able to offer them the salvation from their lostness. Thank God Jesus is in the business of looking for and taking in strays.

If you feel like you have strayed, please click on this link to learn more. Jesus the stray seeker