culture

Raising Kids in a Prosperous Culture

Jonathan Dodson with a good post on how we can teach our kids to be devoted to the one true God in a culture that beckons them to be devoted to other things. You may also like:

 

Is it Taking Away Your Love for Prayer?

If ever you are so much engrossed with any enjoyment here that it takes away your love for prayer, or for your Bible, or that it would frighten you to hear the cry, Behold the Bridegroom cometh—then your heart is “overcharged”. You are abusing this world.

R. Murray M’Cheyne, Watching Unto Prayer

This is an old clip from a prayer conference I attended in February. But after doing a funeral this past week I was struck with the reality of eternity again. What really matters when it's all said and done? Let's listen to God this week and "set [our minds] on things above" (Col. 3:2).

Follow Up Post to Heaven is for Real

I deleted my initial post on the book, Heaven is for Real, because I felt it was more appropriate for my wife to give her input since she actually read it. After reading Greg Thornbury's post on the book, she had a different take so I encouraged her to share her thoughts below:

When given a copy of this book, I was prepared to have several critiques, but the opposite happened.  I felt the author did an excellent job of telling his son's story without appearing to be exploiting him for money or fame.  While still not 100% convinced that Colton (the little boy from the story) went to heaven and back, I am convinced that this family loves Jesus and wants others to know Him.  Upon finishing the book, I recommended it to both believers and unbelievers (who I knew I would follow up with). I think it's a great conversation starter and a pointer to the Bible, not a detractor from it.  I wouldn't build my theology on it, but I thought about heaven more.  I know of another person who searched out Scripture passages on heaven after reading this book.  And I don’t think that the high volume of sales says anything other than we live in a fallen world.  People are curious.  Most people are looking for hope and a quick fix.  They want to hear heaven is real, but most want it to be for everyone.  This book clearly states that it is for those who have a relationship with Jesus Christ. The Jesus Christ of the Bible to which this book points.

Developing Disciples or Demanding Consumers?

Kent Carlson, from his thought provoking book, Renovation of the Church:

We should not assume that those people who are attracted to our church have been captivated by the message of Christ and his alternate view of life .... We should be more truthful with each other here. They come because their high school kid likes the youth program, or because their children don't get bored, or because they like the music, or because the pastor preaches the Bible the way they believe it should be preached, or because they happened to be greeted by a smiling face one day, or because the worship leader looks like Brad Pitt.

This is the hard, raw reality of life in the North American church. The people who come to our churches have been formed into spiritual consumers. This is who we are. It is our most instinctive response to life. And you can hardly blame us. Almost everything in our culture shapes us in this direction. But we must become deeply convinced that this is contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ, the one who invited us to deny ourselves and lose our lives in order to find them. If we do nothing to confront this is in our churches, we are merely putting a religious veneer over consumerism and nothing is changed. We offer no real, viable, attractive, alternative way of living. And what is worse, our churches become part of the problem. By harnessing the power of consumerism to grow our churches, we are more firmly forming our people into consumers. Pastors end up being as helpful as bartenders at an Alcoholics Anonymous convention. We do not offer what people really need (p. 68).

The Green Lantern Will Never Be the Light of the World

Chad Nuss:

Given the power to create anything the mind can conceive and given the power to defend the universe is more than a human can handle. Comic book heroes will always remain a myth because human saviors will always fall short. That much power in the hand of any person will be tainted with corruption, selfishness, and evil. Jesus said that out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander (Matthew 15:19). In the real world, Hal Jordan wouldn’t use his power to save the universe; he would use his power to rule the universe. You cannot fix evil and sin with an evil, sinful person. The only one with the power to create and the power to save must be perfect. This one must have no corruption that would distort power to his own ends and must be all powerful in order to overcome all of the brokenness of the universe. Jesus claims to be a man without sin (Hebrews 4:15) and the sovereign God who upholds the universe with his very words (Hebrews 1:3). If he is neither of these things, then Jesus is nothing more than a mythical comic book hero as well.

The Green Lantern will be released in theaters on June 17.

Charlie Sheen and Self Worship

With all the media attention given to Charlie Sheen lately, I thought this quote by David Kupelian, in his book, How Evil Works, was very insightful:

Human beings were never made to be worshiped ... Worship does extremely weird things to human beings ... Worship destroys us and drives us mad.

I'm not pointing the finger at Charlie Sheen. All of us are in great danger when we begin to think we are something special. And like Sheen, when we're drugged up on praise we can grow increasingly egocentric and narcissistic. We worship ourselves, and this is not only sinful--it's satanic in nature.

Chuck Lawless in his excellent book, Discipled Warriors, compares the pride of Satan and the humility of Jesus from Isa. 14:13-14 and Phil. 2:5-11.

  • Satan chased after glory and power … Jesus walked away from glory and power
  • Satan wanted to ascend to a throne … Jesus descended to earth
  • Satan tried to be God … Jesus became a human
  • Satan wanted to be master … Jesus became a servant
  • Satan was cast down for his pride … Jesus was exalted for his humility

James Boice describes the scene this way.  "Satan said, I will go up … up … up and God said, “You will be cast down, down, down into hell.” And Jesus said, “I will go down to the cross."  And God said, “You will be exalted and given the name that is above every other name.”

The truth is that all of us were made to worship. But humans don't make very good gods. Only God himself can open our eyes to see this truth through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus. May he do so for all of us - including Charlie Sheen.

The King's Speech Spoke to Me

Not many movies have spoken to me like The King's Speech.  If you haven't yet seen it, I highly recommend it--especially if you're a leader who is often governed by fear.  This movie not only made me think, it made me feel ... it helped me to enter into my internal world of insecurities and then empowered me to be the man God made me to be, using the voice He's given me for his glory.  Like David, before I die, I long to "serve the purpose of God in [my] own generation" (Acts 13:36). BTW ... the reason why the movie is rated R is for language.  But most of the profanity is in one short scene and it didn't bother me too much because of the context.  All in all, I encourage you (especially if you're a leader) to go see this movie.  My wife really loved it too and appreciated Queen Elizabeth's endearing quality as a strong, supportive wife.  Here's the trailer:

Should I Care that My Kid Can't Spell?

Allie Townsend recently pointed to a study by the English Spelling Society that the Web has not only wholly altered the English language, but has turned us into a culture of misspellers. "The increasing use of variant spellings on the internet has been brought about by people typing at speed in chat rooms and on social networking sites where the general attitude is that there isn't a need to correct typo's or conform to spelling rules," the paper says, meaning our attitude toward grammar has become increasingly lenient. If correct grammar continues on a path to irrelevancy, Townsend argues, children won't bother to correct themselves, let alone learn it in the first place. If you're a parent and your child struggles with spelling, should you care?  John Piper says yes as he tenderly speaks from personal experience.

The Big Question as We Approach Halloween

It’s October and that means Halloween is on the horizon.  So what are you going to do?  As a pastor to families, I know this can be a hot-button issue.  But I think it’s a good one for us to wrestle with in a spirit of humility. I think the big question we need to ask ourselves is, “Where are all the unbelieving families going to be on Halloween night?”  Answer: they are going to be out trick-or-treating.  According to the National Confectioners Association, 80 percent of adults in America plan to give out candy to trick-or-treaters, and 93 percent of children plan to go trick-or-treating.  So here's the deal.  If the rest of the world is out there trick-or-treating, isn't it our responsibility to be out there as well in a way that does not compromise our faith in Christ?  Although I'm aware of its pagan roots, I think it is possible to participate in Halloween without celebrating evil.  Indeed, most families think of Halloween as a fun night of just dressing up and getting candy.

This Halloween every family in your neighborhood is coming to your house.  Let's live out the mission of God in our neighborhoods (Matt. 28:18-20). Let's permit the children to come to us (Mark 10:14).  Let's love our neighbors and let our light shine (Matt. 5:16).  Let's give out the best candy in the neighborhood.  And let's pray for opportunities (Col. 4:2-6).  Who knows … Halloween may serve as a little step into the hearts of those who live around us who so desperately need a Savior.

Note: As you know, this year Halloween falls on a Sunday.  This is how we've handled that issue at our church.  We will continue to meet for our regular Sunday night service, but before and after that service we also encourage our people to be lights in their neighborhood.

Video on Mosque Controversy

Dustin S: In this short video Hussein Rashid and Joseph Cumming share their thoughts on the Ground Zero mosque controversy. I found Joseph’s comments to be very helpful in thinking about how Christians should respond. How does loving our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39) impact our view on this? How does Jesus’ command to do unto others as would have them do unto us (Matthew 7:12) impact our view on this?

Slavery to Busyness?

Michael Wallenmeyer shares his thoughts about a book that could liberate many of us from our slavery to busyness:

Sometimes the busyness I see in my own life and in the lives of others seems more like slavery than anything else.  Why are we so darn busy? Why are there no margins in our life? Why does it feel like we can never slow down? What are we teaching our kids based on the fact that we are traveling at the speed of light? What is the cost of this busyness to our families and our spiritual well-being? Should we just accept this frantic pace and learn to deal with it? Or is there something deeper going on in our hearts? Do we need to examine our lifestyle in the light of the gospel? Tim Chester is a sharp theological thinker and a man I respect greatly. He wrote a book that is a must read for Christians today caught up in the rat race,“The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness”.

The book is asking us to take a look at our heart to see if we are not so much victims of busyness, but rather to at least contemplate the idea that we are perpetuating this pace of life because of the things we are pursuing. But, the book does not simply stop with a critique of our own ambitions, it points us to biblical truths that can liberate us from this self-imposed slavery. Here are the liberating truths from chapters 7-12…

  • Chapter 7: I’m busy busy because I need to prove myself-The liberating rest of God
  • Chapter 8: I’m busy because of other people’s expectations-The liberating fear of God
  • Chapter 9: I’m busy because otherwise things get out of control-The liberating rule of God
  • Chapter 10: I’m busy because I prefer being under pressure-The liberating refuge of God
  • Chapter 11: I’m busy because I need the money-The liberating joy of God
  • Chapter 12: I’m busy because I want to make the most of my life-The liberating hope of God

Check out this video of Chester explaining why he wrote the book.

The Church's Posture Toward Culture

postureBrent Thomas outlines 4 ways the American Church has had bad posture toward the surrounding culture:

  • The Church As Bomb-Shelter (Fundamentalism and some Seeker-Sensitives/Attractionals)
  • The Church As Mirror (Liberals, Emergenters, some Seeker-Sensitives and “Nominal” Christians)
  • The Church As Sanitizer of Culture (Evangelicals at Large)
  • The Church As Legislator of Morality

Read the entire post to see how he explains each one