CCM is a trainwreck!

March 31, 2009 at 3:20 pm | Posted in Christianity | 3 Comments
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I’ll be honest… I don’t listen to much Contemporary Christian Music these days (gasp!). One of the reasons is because I like to hear the songs that I want to hear when I want to hear them. I can do that with a CD. But that’s not the main reason. The main reason that I don’t really listen to CCM much anymore is because of the direction that much of it seems to be going. It seems to be a growing trend in CCM to write songs that are “uplifting” but have little to do with anything that Christianity is about. If you didn’t know that it was a CCM song, you might think that it was a secular love song being sung by one lover to another. Others teach weak or aberrant theology and it seems to be ok because it’s got the word Christian in the title. Many also seem to speak for God, but are they saying what He said?

 

After awhile, it just gets sickening to hear a breathless man/woman sing to Jesus like He’s their lover. It also gets trying when you hear bad theology coming through Christian music. Whatever happened to Jesus being holy and righteous? What happened to respecting God for who He is? One of the saddest parts (aside from a seeming total disrespect for God’s character) is that the most popular “Christian” bands around sing many of these songs today. I guess that this shouldn’t surprise me though. Many churches don’t preach or teach theology anymore either. Generations of young people are growing up hearing songs that tell them very little about the truth of God just like their teachers and pastors are at church. Many of the songs talk about love, hope, and joy, but say nothing about the source of those things. Very few mention sin, hell, or judgment. A lot of the “Christian” songs don’t even mention Jesus! Does anyone else see something wrong with this? These are supposed to be CHRISTIAN songs!!! What is more important: Singing songs that a majority of people (Christian and non-Christian) will like (under the guise of “reaching out to the lost”) so that you can sell the most records; or, actually singing the truth of Christ and telling people about sin, hell, and judgment and THEN giving them the hope of the true Jesus? Granted, one of these two options will make you a lot more money than the other, but if your focus is on selling records and making money, then call yourself a secular singer and let Christians sing Christian music.

 

In an effort to show what I’m talking about, I got some of the lyrics of the top 20 CCM songs over the past couple months. Are these songs really glorifying Christ? Are they teaching correct theology?

 

I wish I was more of a man, have you ever felt that way?
And if I had to tell you the truth I’m afraid I’d have to say
That after all I’ve done and failed to do
I feel like less than I was meant to be

What if I could fix myself maybe then I could get free?
I could try to be somebody else who’s much better off than me
But I need to remember this
That it’s when I’m at my weakest I can clearly see

He made the lame walk and the dumb talk
And He opened blinded eyes to see
That the sun rises on His time
Yet He knows our deepest desperate need

And the world waits while His heart aches
To realize the dream
I wonder what life would be like
If we let Jesus live through you and me
           Excerpt from Big Daddy Weave’s “What Life Would Be Like”

 

Is this sound theology? Can we “fix” ourselves? What dream is the world waiting to see realized? Is it up to us to let Jesus live through us? I was under the understanding that we live through Him (1 John 4:9). I’ve always been taught that we can’t fix ourselves and that it’s Jesus who “fixes” us. Does scripture talk about a dream being realized? Is the salvation of the people across the world a dream? Does Jesus’ heart ache? I’m sure that it bothers Him when people reject salvation through Him, but wouldn’t offended be a more accurate word? When people die in their sins I’m sure that God doesn’t like it (2 Peter 3:9), and I know that Jesus healed the lame, dumb, and blind; but that’s all we seem to focus on nowadays.

 

Here’s another one:

 

He never thought he cared so much about the minute hand
Until he started praying for, a second chance
If he could only do it all again
He’d trade the long nights that he spent behind his desk
For all he missed

He tells his wife, “I wish that this moment in this room was not me dying, but just spending a little time with you.”

You only get just one time around
You only get one shot at this
One chance, to find out
The one thing that you don’t wanna miss
One day when it’s all said and done
I hope you see that it was enough, this
One ride, one try, one life…
To love….

          Excerpt from 33miles’ “One Life to Live”

 

Is this considered a Christian song because it has the word praying in the lyrics? Or is this a deeply veiled reference to Hebrews 9:27 (And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment)? Is all the syrupy, sentimental music necessary? How does this teach about Christianity at all? I even agree with the fact that you only get one chance, but is there a more scripturally sound way to say it?

 

Here’s one that sounds like a secular love song:

If everything comes down to love
Then just what am I afraid of
When I call out Your name
Something inside awakes in my soul
How quickly I forget I’m Yours

(PRE-CHORUS)
I’m not my own
I’ve been carried by You
All my life

(CHORUS)
Everything rides on hope now
Everything rides on faith somehow
When the world has broken me down
Your love sets me free

          Excerpt from Addison Road’s “Hope Now”

 

Sure, the You and Yours are capitalized, but how many are going to see while listening to this? They don’t even mention the source of the love that “sets them free”! I really don’t see how this is Christian at all… Are we just supposed to assume that it is? If you didn’t know that this was a “Christian” band, would you be able to tell?

 

Ok, here’s one more and it’s one that really irks me:

 

Can you hear, there’s a new song
Breaking out from the children of freedom
Every race and every nation
Sing it out sing a new Hallelujah

Let us sing love the nations
Bringing hope of the grace that has freed us
Make Him known and make Him famous
Sing it out sing a new Hallelujah

 

Arise
let the church Arise
Let love reach to the other side
Alive come alive
Let the song Arise

Africa sings a new song
reaching out with the new Hallelujah
Every son and every daughter
everyone sing a new Hallelujah

          Excerpt from Michael W. Smith’s “A New Hallelujah”

This one gets up my nose because it says nothing about God (other than two pronouns – He and Him – with no indication of who they talk about) and yet it is from one of the most well known Christian artists! What does this song mean? Why would I want to sing a “new hallelujah”? Hallelujah means “praise ye Jah”. It is an adoring exclamation to God. Do we need a new one? Also, is it our purpose to make God “famous”? Is God worried about fame like Christian singers seem to be these days? It talks about hope and grace and joy and love, but what about the rest of the truth? What about the fact that those things can only come through an understanding of sin and repentance?

 

Before I go on, I should explain that I understand that not every song is going to be chock full of theology and loaded with scripture (why not?), but these songs are on the TOP 20 CCM songs list! These are the some of the most requested songs of today and hardly any of them talk about Christianity! Christianity isn’t just about hope, love, joy, peace, and a better life. It’s about sin, hell, judgment, righteousness, obedience, and wrath too but no one seems to want to even talk about this stuff. Like I said above, I understand that not every song is going to be brimming with theology, but shouldn’t that be our goal? As Christians, as the people ordained by God to share the truth of the gospel, shouldn’t we be using every chance we get to tell others the truth? Shouldn’t we be using our music to make sin apparent and warn people about the wrath to come so that they flee to the cross? Could the new crop of CCM coming out these days be an indicator that these kinds of things aren’t being emphasized at church? Could it be that these songs are just a reflection of the weak, diluted teachings of the modern church? I think that this is at least partly to blame.

 

I know that there are many songs that really do uplift the God of the Bible and His Son Jesus Christ and they make it very clear. They do talk about sin and hell and judgment, and there are even some on the Top 20 list. But, these songs are very much the minority. To give you an idea of the type of music that I’m talking about I’ll post some lyrics. One song is by Chris Tomlin It’s called “Jesus Messiah”:

 

He became sin
Who knew no sin
That we might become His Righteousness
He humbled himself and carried the cross

Love so amazing
Love so amazing

Chorus:
Jesus Messiah
Name above all names
Blessed Redeemer
Emmanuel
The rescue for sinners
The ransom from Heaven
Jesus Messiah
Lord of all

His body the bread
His blood the wine
Broken and poured out all for love
The whole earth trembled
And the veil was torn

Love so amazing
Love so amazing, yeah
            – Excerpt from Chris Tomlin’s “Jesus Messiah”

 

This talks about sin in the very first line! It also talks about righteousness, redemption, and the sacrifice of Christ. Later in the song, it gives glory to God. Why aren’t most Christian songs like this? Is it that hard to write songs like this, or is it less appealing to “Christian” audiences that are looking and acting more like the world? There is one other artist that I would like to focus on. I had never heard of him until some of his music was played on Wretched Radio. The artist’s name is Shai Linne. He is a hip-hop artist from Philadelphia and, along with other artists at Lampmode records, writes lyrics like this:

 

Chorus

We’re cursed from our birth, sinning from the beginning

The womb to the tomb, depraved to the grave

Astray every day, every breath brings death

In Adam all die, In Adam all die

 

We’re rebels like the devil, scheming like demons

Prideful with our idols, disgusting with our lusting

Twisted and sin-sick, selfish and helpless

In Adam all die, In Adam all die

 

Verse 1

 

Everybody knows that they’re guilty

Our conscience condemns us, shows us we’re filthy

Truth be told, we really have no answers

For why we fall short of our own moral standards

The evidence for God is simply bountiful

And it’s illogical to think we won’t be held accountable

A universal day of judgment approaches

Any rational notion of justice would presuppose this

And deep down inside, everybody knows this

But we disregard it because our deeds are atrocious

We prefer the vicious, our words are malicious

Our slurs pernicious, we find the absurd delicious

Depraved in our appetites- the things we crave are lacking light

 

Because sin’s got us enslaved and shackled tight

And if we are to understand the fruit

We need to go back and examine the root

          Excerpt from Shai Linne’s “In Adam All Die”

 

Do you see the theology? Sinful man, guilty conscience, judgment day; it’s all here. This is another:

 

Chorus

 

It’s where we see Your holiness- at the cross

We see that You’re controlling this- at the cross

We see how You feel about sin- at the cross

Your unfathomable love for men- at the cross

It’s where we see Your sovereignty- at the cross

We see our idolatry- at the cross

We know that there’s a judgment day- from the cross

May we never take our eyes away- from the cross

 

Verse 2

 

We’re now in the realm of the sublime and profound

With God at the helm it’s about to go down

The Father’s wrath precise will blast and slice

The priceless Master Christ as a sacrifice

Willingly, He’s under the curse

To be treated as if the Son was the worst scum of the earth

The scene is the craziest

Jesus being treated as if He is the shadiest atheist

How is it the Messiah is in the fiery pit

As if He was a wicked liar with twisted desires?

The One who’s sinless and just

Punished as if He was promiscuous and mischievous with vicious lust

The source of all godly pleasure

Tormented as if He was a foul investor or child molestor

How could He be bruised like He was a goodie two-shoes

who doesn’t think that she needs the good news?

He’s perfect in love and wisdom

But He’s suffering as if He constructed the corrupt justice system

We should mourn at the backdrop

Jesus torn like He’s on the corner with crack rock with porn on His laptop

What is this, kid? His gifts are infinite

But He’s hit with licks for religious hypocrites

He’s the Light, but being treated like

He’s the seedy type who likes to beat His wife

 

He’s treated like a rapist, treated like a slanderer

Treated like a racist or maybe a philanderer

Jesus being penalized like He had sin inside

Filled with inner pride while committing genocide

I could write for a billion years and still can’t name

All of the sins placed on the Lamb slain

But know this: the main thing the cross demonstrated

The glory and the holiness of God vindicated

          Excerpt from Shai Linne’s “The Cross (3 Hours)”

 

This entire song is about the cross. Not only what it did, by why it happened and what it means to mankind in general. Why isn’t this the norm in Christian music? The last song I’m going to share from Shai Linne is called “Atonement Q and A”. This song alone should put most Christian artists to shame. Shai Linne has basically taken some of the most important theological words and defined them through rhyme:

 

Verse 1

 

Who is God? God is the universe’s Creator

And Sustainer plus the only Savior, there is no one greater

He triune, holy, omnipotent, omniscient, absolute

Loving, sovereign and righteous are a few of His attributes

How do we know this? Well, we know this from the Bible

Where God has revealed Himself- anything else is just an idol

What’s the Bible about? Man’s complete ruin in sin

And what God has done in Christ to bring us to Him again

What is sin? Sin is the breaking of God’s law

Plus our condition, which means from birth we all got flaws

What’s the result? The result is by nature we’re God’s enemies

And must pay the penalty unless God provides the remedy

What the remedy? The remedy is the cross of Christ

Where He suffered all the strikes for the lawless type

I’ve been rescued by the Lamb, I’m convinced that He’s risen

And blessed is the man whose sins are forgiven!

          Excerpt from Shai Linne’s “Atonement Q and A”

 

I’m not saying that Shai Linne has a corner on theologically sound songs. I’m not saying that there are no other artists that have God-glorifying songs. What I am saying is that these songs are in short supply and are being drowned out by thousands of songs that have nothing about the truth of God in them sung by “bubblegum Christian” bands who hope to cash in on the CCM fad. We don’t need pop-star Christians singing breathlessly about God. We don’t need hard rock bands posing as Christian bands to “reach a certain audience”. What we need are Christians who sing. We need people who are sound in their theology to write and sing songs. Singing songs is great, but it’s not going to save you or anyone else…

Wisdom for the nation

March 24, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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Last week, I wrote about where our country is and why. I wrote about how the government has fallen away from the Constitution and now only serves itself, ignoring the people it supposedly represents. I ended with some ideas on what I would love to see happen and what I think could begin to fix the nation. After I posted that, I thought about a few more things.

 

Many people today talk about being Christian and show very little evidence for it. Many claim to believe in God, but they refuse to believe the Bible is His very Word. Along with them, the world mocks the Scriptures and says that they have no value other than some ethereal “good teachings”. This week, I wanted to look at some of the scriptures to show how they are pertinent to every situation, at any time, anywhere. Many of these verses are thousands of years old, and yet, they still hold more than “good teachings”. The main place I’m going to go this week is Proverbs. As you read this week’s blog, I ask that you contemplate the problems that our nation (and much of the rest of the world) is facing right now. Solomon wrote most of the proverbs in the Bible. Solomon is known as the wisest man who ever lived besides Christ. During his reign as king of Israel, the people were at peace and they flourished and grew. It seems to be simple logic to look at what Solomon did/believed and see if we can’t do the same. It must be made clear though: Solomon’s wisdom was God-given and did not come from any man (1 Kings 3:3-10). To understand the proverbs, we must first know their purpose:

 

The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, To discern the sayings of understanding, to receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity; to give prudence to the naive, to the youth knowledge and discretion, a wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, to understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:1-7)

 

The purpose of the proverbs is to understand wisdom, to receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice, and equity. They also give prudence to the naïve, knowledge and discretion to the youth, and increase the learning of the wise man. But, Solomon makes a caveat to all of this in verse 7. The proverbs are only helpful to those who fear (revere) God. The wisdom that Solomon is sharing is from Him and it is only through a correct view of God Himself that this wisdom will make sense:

 

Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; for if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:2-6)

 

The LORD by wisdom founded the earth, by understanding He established the heavens. By His knowledge the deeps were broken up and the skies drip with dew. My son, let them not vanish from your sight; Keep sound wisdom and discretion, so they will be life to your soul And adornment to your neck. Then you will walk in your way securely and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. (Proverbs 3:19-24)

 

There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers. (Proverbs 6:16-19)

 

The eyes of the LORD are in every place, watching the evil and the good. (Proverbs 15:3)

 

The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility. (Proverbs 15:33)

 

 

The proverbs are filled with examples of those who follow wisdom and her teachings and those who don’t. For those who refuse to listen to wisdom, the consequences are severe:

 

“Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; and you neglected all my counsel And did not want my reproof; I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes, when your dread comes like a storm And your calamity comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but they will not find me, because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD.” (Wisdom speaking – Proverbs 1:24-29)

 

Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge, And he who hurries his footsteps errs. (Proverbs 19:2)

 

But for those who will listen to the wisdom of God and be obedient to it, there are much different results:

 

Wisdom shouts in the street, She lifts her voice in the square; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings: “How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing and fools hate knowledge? Turn to my reproof, Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you.” (Proverbs 1:20-23)

 

“But he who listens to me shall live securely And will be at ease from the dread of evil.” (Proverbs 1:33)

 

How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain better than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels; and nothing you desire compares with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast. (Proverbs 3:13-18)

 

“Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will guard you; Love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding. Prize her, and she will exalt you; She will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a garland of grace; She will present you with a crown of beauty.” (Proverbs 4:5-9)

 

“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, And I find knowledge and discretion. The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverted mouth, I hate. Counsel is mine and sound wisdom; I am understanding, power is mine. By me kings reign, And rulers decree justice.  By me princes rule, and nobles, All who judge rightly.” (Proverbs 8:12-16)

 

The reward of humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, honor and life. (Proverbs 22:4)

 

By wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established; And by knowledge the rooms are filled With all precious and pleasant riches. (Proverbs 24:3-4)

 

In my opinion, these examples alone should be enough for our nation to begin to radically restructure our lives to turn back to God. But, for the sake of those skeptics who mock the Lord and see faith in Him as a “crutch”, let’s look at some other things that the proverbs touch on.

 

In today’s time, it has unfortunately become so common to hear about school shootings (like the recent ones in Germany) that we have become numb to those things. Add to this the out of control sexual activity, drinking/drug use, and the absolute lack of morality that our kids are being brought up in through public schools it is an utter catastrophe both for our society and for the church. Proverbs is something important for our children as well as for ourselves. If you teach your children to read a chapter of Proverbs a day (and repeat it every month) the wisdom they will come away with will keep them from many of the things that they will face. Solomon wrote down his wisdom to pass it along to his children. Look at some of the things that he said:

 

My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent. If they say, “Come with us, Let us lie in wait for blood, Let us ambush the innocent without cause; Let us swallow them alive like Sheol, Even whole, as those who go down to the pit; We will find all kinds of precious wealth, We will fill our houses with spoil; Throw in your lot with us, We shall all have one purse,” My son, do not walk in the way with them. Keep your feet from their path, For their feet run to evil And they hasten to shed blood. (Proverbs 1:10-16)

 

My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; For length of days and years of life And peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute In the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. (Proverbs 3:1-7)

 

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back, And tomorrow I will give it,” When you have it with you. Do not devise harm against your neighbor, While he lives securely beside you. Do not contend with a man without cause, If he has done you no harm. Do not envy a man of violence And do not choose any of his ways. For the devious are an abomination to the LORD; But He is intimate with the upright. (Proverbs 3:27-32)

 

Do not enter the path of the wicked And do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on. For they cannot sleep unless they do evil; And they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble. For they eat the bread of wickedness And drink the wine of violence. But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day. Put away from you a deceitful mouth And put devious speech far from you. Let your eyes look directly ahead And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet And all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil. (Proverbs 4:14-27)

 

My son, give attention to my wisdom, Incline your ear to my understanding; That you may observe discretion And your lips may reserve knowledge. For the lips of an adulteress drip honey And smoother than oil is her speech; But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, Sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death, Her steps take hold of Sheol.

She does not ponder the path of life; Her ways are unstable, she does not know it. Now then, my sons, listen to me And do not depart from the words of my mouth. (Proverbs 5:1-7)

 

Imagine if our children were taught this? What would our nation be like? If generation upon generation were to walk in the truth of Proverbs how great would it be? If they had a healthy reverence for God and obeyed Him imagine what it would be like? What if our children were able to pull this nation up from the dregs and move it forward because they stood on a sound and strong foundation based on Biblical truth? It would be amazing! It would be what it is supposed to be…

 

Throughout Proverbs, there is a comparison between the upright/righteous and the wicked/evil. The righteous are those who believe in God and fear Him. They are obedient to His Word and are willing to change themselves to fit it. The wicked are those who hate God and turn away from Him and His wisdom. They rebel against Him and live their lives the way they want to.

 

Pro 2:21-2 For the upright will live in the land And the blameless will remain in it; But the wicked will be cut off from the land And the treacherous will be uprooted from it.

 

Pro 3:33-5 The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, But He blesses the dwelling of the righteous. Though He scoffs at the scoffers, Yet He gives grace to the afflicted. The wise will inherit honor, But fools display dishonor.

 

 Pro 5:21-3 For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD, And He watches all his paths. His own iniquities will capture the wicked, And he will be held with the cords of his sin. He will die for lack of instruction, And in the greatness of his folly he will go astray.

 

Pro 6:12-5 A worthless person, a wicked man, Is the one who walks with a perverse mouth, Who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet, Who points with his fingers; Who with perversity in his heart continually devises evil, Who spreads strife. Therefore his calamity will come suddenly; Instantly he will be broken and there will be no healing.

 

Pro 10:2-3 Ill-gotten gains do not profit, But righteousness delivers from death. The LORD will not allow the righteous to hunger, But He will reject the craving of the wicked.

 

Pro 10:6-7 Blessings are on the head of the righteous, But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. The memory of the righteous is blessed, But the name of the wicked will rot.

 

Pro 10:9 He who walks in integrity walks securely, But he who perverts his ways will be found out.

 

Pro 11:3 The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.

Pro 11:6 The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, But the treacherous will be caught by their own greed.

 

Pro 11:10-1 When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, And when the wicked perish, there is joyful shouting. By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, But by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down.

 

 

Pro 11:18 The wicked earns deceptive wages, But he who sows righteousness gets a true reward.

Pro 11:20 The perverse in heart are an abomination to the LORD, But the blameless in their walk are His delight.

 

Pro 12:5 The thoughts of the righteous are just, But the counsels of the wicked are deceitful.

Pro 12:7 The wicked are overthrown and are no more, But the house of the righteous will stand.

Pro 12:13 An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, But the righteous will escape from trouble.

 

Pro 13:5 A righteous man hates falsehood, But a wicked man acts disgustingly and shamefully.

 

Pro 14:2 He who walks in his uprightness fears the LORD, But he who is devious in his ways despises Him.

 

Pro 14:34 Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people.

 

Pro 15:8-9 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, But the prayer of the upright is His delight. The way of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, But He loves one who pursues righteousness.

 

Pro 15:29 The LORD is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous.

 

Pro 16:8 Better is a little with righteousness Than great income with injustice.

 

Pro 16:28 A perverse man spreads strife, And a slanderer separates intimate friends.

 

Pro 17:15 He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, Both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD.

 

Pro 17:26 It is also not good to fine the righteous, Nor to strike the noble for their uprightness.

 

Pro 21:15 The exercise of justice is joy for the righteous, But is terror to the workers of iniquity.

 

Pro 21:21 He who pursues righteousness and loyalty Finds life, righteousness and honor.

 

Pro 22:12 The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, But He overthrows the words of the treacherous man.

 

Pro 24:1-2 Do not be envious of evil men, Nor desire to be with them; For their minds devise violence, And their lips talk of trouble.

 

Pro 26:24 He who hates disguises it with his lips, But he lays up deceit in his heart.

 

Pro 28:12 When the righteous triumph, there is great glory, But when the wicked rise, men hide themselves.

 

Pro 28:22 A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth And does not know that want will come upon him.

 

Pro 28:28 When the wicked rise, men hide themselves; But when they perish, the righteous increase.

 

Pro 29:2 When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, But when a wicked man rules, people groan.

 

Pro 29:7 The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor, The wicked does not understand such concern.

 

Pro 29:16 When the wicked increase, transgression increases; But the righteous will see their fall.

 

Proverbs also talks about lying and deceit and shows what God thinks about it. It also shows the results and problems that come from lying and deceit. Unfortunately, lying is so commonplace that it is an accepted and even encouraged part of many professions and life in general. Our lawyers, politicians, and (sadly) many preachers are seen as liars. This is a tragedy on many levels. First, it has obscures the truth and it causes a lack of trust that hurts marriages, families, and the infrastructure of our nation. If we can’t trust our family, friends, or leaders, then we are at a loss to build anything that lasts:

 

Proverbs 12:19 Truthful lips will be established forever, But a lying tongue is only for a moment.

 

Proverbs 12:20 Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, But counselors of peace have joy.

 

Proverbs 12:22 Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, But those who deal faithfully are His delight.

 

Proverbs 14:25 A truthful witness saves lives, But he who utters lies is treacherous.

 

Proverbs 17:4 An evildoer listens to wicked lips; A liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.

 

Proverbs 17:7 Excellent speech is not fitting for a fool, Much less are lying lips to a prince.

 

Proverbs 19:5 A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who tells lies will not escape.

 

Proverbs 19:9 A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who tells lies will perish.

 

Proverbs 19:22 What is desirable in a man is his kindness, And it is better to be a poor man than a liar.

 

Proverbs 20:17 Bread obtained by falsehood is sweet to a man, But afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel.

 

Proverbs 25:14 Like clouds and wind without rain Is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely.

 

Proverbs 29:12 If a ruler pays attention to falsehood, All his ministers become wicked.

 

As I said above, Proverbs touches on a number of things. It is a book of wisdom that all men, women, and children should be digging into every day. Another important thing that Proverbs touches on is a strong work ethic. Many times in his writings, Solomon condemns those who are lazy and will not work:

 

Proverbs 6:6-11 Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise, Which, having no chief, Officer or ruler, Prepares her food in the summer And gathers her vision in the harvest. How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? “A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest”–Your poverty will come in like a vagabond And your need like an armed man.

 

Proverbs 10:4-5 Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, But the hand of the diligent makes rich. He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely, But he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.

 

Proverbs 12:11 He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, But he who pursues worthless things lacks sense.

 

Proverbs 14:23 In all labor there is Proverbsfit, But mere talk leads only to poverty.

 

Proverbs 15:19 The way of the lazy is as a hedge of thorns, But the path of the upright is a highway.

 

Proverbs 16:26 A worker’s appetite works for him, For his hunger urges him on.

 

Proverbs 18:9 He also who is slack in his work Is brother to him who destroys.

 

Proverbs 19:15 Laziness casts into a deep sleep, And an idle man will suffer hunger.

 

Proverbs 21:5 The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, But everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.

 

Proverbs 21:25 The desire of the sluggard puts him to death, For his hands refuse to work;

 

Proverbs 28:19 He who tills his land will have plenty of food, But he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty.

 

For those who say that this is not throughout scripture and that we have a responsibility to take care of those who can’t work, let me explain. I am not against taking care of those who can’t work. Like scripture, I’m against those who CAN work and refuse to do so. Unfortunately, our nation is filled with men and women who hold this view. I’ve heard stories of women who stand in line to pay for lobster and wine with food stamps and then pay for their cigarettes with a $100 bill. I’ve also heard of men who stand outside gas stations with signs that say they need help and then brag to the station’s owner that they are making $200-$300 a day. This is both angering and sad. Our nation used to be filled with men who took pride in being able to work honestly for the privilege to support their families. Now, we have greedy and dishonest men who will connive and deceive their way into money because they have no honor. I am going to say something that many will probably disagree with. I believe and agree with 2 Thessalonians 3:10:

 

For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.

 

If you don’t work, you don’t eat. Period. This is probably hard to swallow with the current job situation, but listen to what I’m saying. I am not against women working at a job. But, I think that if more women spent time at home with their kids, things would be better. The children would have someone there for them. I’ve actually heard stories of women who have lost their jobs and found the joys of motherhood through it. To be honest, the work done by women at home is more special, much harder, and extremely more lasting than the work that any man will do (other than teaching their kids the truth and disciplining them when necessary). All of this is supported many times in scripture including Proverbs 31. Instead of men dragging their feet and trying to chase after what they want, they should be doing whatever is necessary to provide for their family and take care of them. I also think that welfare is unnecessary. Again, hear me out. It is not the government’s job to give people handouts and bail them out of the situations they’ve gotten themselves into. It is the church’s job to help the widows, orphans, and those who need it. It is the church that should be taking the initiative to help those who are in need.

 

If our nation is going to be restored, it’s going to happen through hard work and diligence. Lazy, unmotivated people will not rebuild the nation, but that is what we are creating. We are teaching the next generations that they can expect everything to be handed to them by the government. This undermines the drive and resolve for people to strive for the best.

 

Leadership is another topic that Solomon touches on in the book of Proverbs:

 

Proverbs 11:14 Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory.

 

Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.

 

Proverbs 13:23 Abundant food is in the fallow ground of the poor, But it is swept away by injustice.

 

Proverbs 14:28 In a multitude of people is a king’s glory, But in the dearth of people is a prince’s ruin.

Proverbs 14:31 He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, But he who is gracious to the needy honors Him.

 

Proverbs 16:12 It is an abomination for kings to commit wicked acts, For a throne is established on righteousness.

 

Proverbs 20:6 Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, But who can find a trustworthy man?

 

Proverbs 20:18 Prepare plans by consultation, And make war by wise guidance.

 

Proverbs 20:28 Loyalty and truth preserve the king, And he upholds his throne by righteousness.

 

Proverbs 22:16 He who oppresses the poor to make more for himself Or who gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.

 

Proverbs 24:6 For by wise guidance you will wage war, And in abundance of counselors there is victory.

 

Proverbs 24:24-5 He who says to the wicked, “You are righteous,” Peoples will curse him, nations will abhor him; But to those who rebuke the wicked will be delight, And a good blessing will come upon them.

 

Proverbs 25:5 Take away the wicked before the king, And his throne will be established in righteousness.

 

Proverbs 25:19 Like a bad tooth and an unsteady foot Is confidence in a faithless man in time of trouble.

 

Proverbs 28:2 By the transgression of a land many are its princes, But by a man of understanding and knowledge, so it endures.

 

Proverbs 28:4 Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, But those who keep the law strive with them.

 

Proverbs 28:15-7 Like a roaring lion and a rushing bear Is a wicked ruler over a poor people. A leader who is a great oppressor lacks understanding, But he who hates unjust gain will long his days. A man who is laden with the guilt of human blood Will be a fugitive until death; let no one support him.

 

Proverbs 29:4 The king gives stability to the land by justice, But a man who takes bribes overthrows it.

 

Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.

 

 While Solomon mentions kings, the premises of the wisdom can be applied to the leader of any nation, king or otherwise. He shows how important it is for leaders to be upright and honest. They should rule in righteous and justice, but these things are defined the way God sees them and not the way that man does. They should remove treachery and deceit from them and their advisers. They should not oppress the people or act wickedly toward the righteous. Imagine what our nations would be like if their leaders would follow these precepts as they lead the nation. Their people would flourish and grow as the trust between them and their ruler grows. It would be something that changes our country.

 

Greed and wealth have been the focus of many Americans lately. Our leaders continue to pump money into a system that isn’t working. They flip-flop between the horrible catastrophe that we face and the encouraging outlook our nation sees from their senseless waste of our money. Many of the situations we now face are the direct result of greed and the desire for wealth. The CEOs of major companies are more concerned about themselves and the amount of money they can immediately gain then they are about their employees and their welfare. The government continues to throw money at these companies who in turn continue to waste it. The book of Proverbs talks about all of this:

 

 

Proverbs 11:28 He who trusts in his riches will fall, But the righteous will flourish like the green leaf.

 

Proverbs 13:11 Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, But the one who gathers by labor increases it.

 

Proverbs 13:22 A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.

 

Proverbs 15:27 He who Proverbsfits illicitly troubles his own house, But he who hates bribes will live.

 

Proverbs 19:6 Many will seek the favor of a generous man, And every man is a friend to him who gives gifts.

 

Proverbs 22:2 The rich and the poor have a common bond, The LORD is the maker of them all.

 

Proverbs 22:22-3 Do not rob the poor because he is poor, Or crush the afflicted at the gate; For the LORD will plead their case And take the life of those who rob them.

 

Proverbs 22:26-7 Do not be among those who give pledges, Among those who become guarantors for debts. If you have nothing with which to pay, Why should he take your bed from under you?

 

Proverbs 23:4-5 Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, Cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.

 

This is just a small portion of the wisdom and knowledge that can be found in the Bible. If our nation and its leaders would apply the wisdom found in scripture to the different issues in their lives, as well as our nation, we would see drastic changes immediately happen in our country. If they would be examples to the people, teaching them about sacrifice, righteousness, and honor, it would help restore the people’s trust in them. See, America’s problem (and the problems of every other nation) result from sin and a lack of absolute morals. Without absolute morals, there is no guideline to know right from wrong and man is free to do whatever he deems right. This is exactly what is happening in our country as I type this. This is ridiculous. We continue to try to solve problems with “answers” that have already been proven not to work. The only answer the will work is the one that is consistently ignored. It is my prayer that our nation and its people will turn their eyes back to the Lord and trust in Him instead of man:

 

Proverbs 16:20 He who gives attention to the word will find good, And blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.

 

Your thoughts?

Design of the Week Crossover – 03/18/09 – Family Farms

March 18, 2009 at 3:11 pm | Posted in Designs of the Week | Leave a comment
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This weeks design is another in the Crossver series. This month, the design comes from Fresh Green Tees. Fresh Green Tees is an eco-friendly shop that specializes in designs that support ecology and cleaner living.

The design that I’ve chosen is called “Family Farms”. It is a design that shows support for those small town farmers who toil and work hard to grow food that the country needs. They aren’t the biggest farms and are often overlooked by locals. I like the style of the design as well as the colors used in it. It has a heavy lined style that enhances the message without overshadowing it.

If you get a chance, check out “Family Farms” and other great, green designs at Fresh Green Tees!

A Declaration

March 16, 2009 at 3:50 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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In the 200-plus years that our nation has existed, it has faced many issues. From the beginning, the colonies that made up our future nation faced tyranny and strife. The monarchy of Britain tried to remove the liberties and freedoms of the colonists that they were entitled to under the British constitution. As the pressure and strife increased, the colonists made their views and grievances clear. Many of the ideas expressed in the Declaration they made would shape the future of our nation. The colonists saw “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as God-given, unalienable rights and not the benefits of the government. They believed that the government was responsible for the securing these rights and that the government “derived their just powers from the consent of the governed”. They also believed that if the government failed in securing these rights, it was the right of the people to alter/abolish the government and institute a new government that was built on the aforementioned principles. They believed that the new government should have its powers “organized in such a way that the people feel will most likely affect their safety and happiness”. Because of the beliefs and the grievances Declared, our Founders were forced to fight for their beliefs and the morals attached to them. After winning the war the colonies came together to create a new government designed to secure the rights they had so desperately fought for.

 

This new government was created by the states and was laid out in the Constitution. The Constitution created a federal government with limited powers and responsibilities. Any power of responsibility not found in the Constitution automatically belonged to the states. The Founders saw the inherent problems in a strong federal government. It would create the same possibility for tyranny that they had just freed themselves from. Instead, the Founders left the majority of the rights and powers to the states. It was up to the states to provide for the needs of their people. They felt that because each state was basically a group of like-minded people, this would be the most beneficial and efficient way to handle the issue.

 

Since it’s founding, our nation has grown and prospered because its leaders feared God. For many years the government stayed small and the men who took office held to the Constitution (as the oath they took required them to). There were men, even in those days, who desired to expand the federal government, but the character of those men and others wouldn’t allow them to overstep their bounds. The federal government kept itself in check and the people benefited. Unfortunately, as the nation grew, some of those elected began to use their position to exercise powers they weren’t given under the Constitution. They consolidated the power of the federal government and then used that power to fulfill their own desires, reward those loyal to them (and not the Constitution), and trample the rights of thousands of Americans.

 

Along with this, the moral character of many elected seemed to deteriorate. It was no longer about the character of the President et al., but about what they said and how much they promised. It no longer mattered whether the President was an adulterer, liar, or thief as long as they looked good and told the people what they wanted to hear. All the while, they would use the American people to fulfill their agenda at the expense of the people. Sadly, this has become the epitome of American politics. It is commonly said that you can tell when a politician is lying because their lips are moving, and yet, they are still elected to office. We no longer look at someone’s character as long as they promise us things it isn’t in their Constitutional power/privilege to provide. This has been going on for at lease 100 years now and will only stop when the American people do something about it.

 

America has recently elected a new president. Although his character (he supports abortion, infanticide, and “gay marriage” and still calls himself a Christian) and selection of friends/”mentors” (Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, Raila Odinga) is questionable at best; and even though he has lied numerous times during his political campaign, people still voted for him because he promised them what they wanted and had good intentions. Since the new president has taken office, he has spent trillions of dollars of taxpayer money (who else is going to pay for it?), put into office men and women of questionable character (when they weren’t shamed into denying the position), and lied to the American people by breaking promise after promise (tax raises, earmarks, putting lobbyists into government positions). All the time he was doing this, he spoke of transparency and accountability in his administration like never before. In less than 100 days the new president has saddled our children and grandchildren with an enormous debt in an effort to save us from “economic catastrophe”. He has also lowered the image of leaders (I didn’t think it was possible either) and set a horrible example for the next generations. He attacks those who bring real concerns about his efforts and spends a lot of time talking loud and saying nothing. Congress is also to blame. They too have greatly overstepped the powers and responsibilities given to them by the Constitution under the guise of “general welfare”. Instead of honestly representing the people and endeavoring to secure their rights, they have fought with each other to see who can steal more money from the people in the form of pet projects for their own states to secure their personal desires. Sadly, most of these projects are useless wastes of time and money. Like the president, Congressmen and women are expected to be liars, cheats, tax frauds, adulterers, and thieves. No one expects anyone in Congress to have any sort of backbone or honest care/concern for America or her people and we let it continue.

 

Not to be left out, the judicial system has also followed suit and overstepped its bounds. The Supreme Court (and other federal courts) no longer spends its time upholding the Constitution and the laws that follow it. Instead, it spends its time rewriting laws and reinterpreting the Constitution to mean whatever the judges want. They strike down state laws that are constitutional because they disagree with them. They help read the Constitution progressively as a “living, breathing document” (which is what the colonists separated themselves from in Britain’s constitution).

 

The worst part is that it is the American people will be the ones that suffer. The president will still make his six-figure plus salary (given by the taxpayers) while thousands scrounge to put food on the table. Congressmen and women will continue to make their outrageous salaries (along with all the money they get from side businesses, etc.) and waste taxpayers dollars. Judges will continue to rewrite the Constitution under our noses. The federal government will make every effort to grow and grab power from the states and individuals while America burns (should we hand out fiddles?). And Americans will let it happen. Between the three federal branches our rights will eventually disappear and we will be nothing but a mockery of the nation our Founders envisioned. What amazes me is that people are willing to give up their freedoms and their rights because the government says that it will take care of them, even though it has failed to do that in every instance it’s made the effort. The government has made it clear that they believe the American people are too stupid and lazy to take care of themselves and we continue to prove them right because we refuse to pay attention and speak up for ourselves. 

 

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering a few things. You may be wondering why this is on a blog devoted to Christianity and evangelism. Well, there are a few reasons. One, this type of environment is likely to lead to a situation where people like me will no longer be able to talk about Christianity without it being considered “hate speech” or treason. Second, while this blog post is about our nation and government, it is important for us to understand our history or we will repeat it. Third, it is because the kind of things going on in our government are a reflection of what our nation has become since it has rejected God (America was founded as a haven for Christians). Because America, its people, and its government have rejected the God they once appealed to; we are being subjected to things that God once protected us from. You may also be saying something like “if you don’t like it, you can leave”. Yes, you’re right. I could leave and find another place to live and one day, it may just come to that. But that day will follow my having done all that I can to fight against the mockery our nation has become. I love my country and will fight for what it once represented, even if I’m the only one.

 

Still others may be wondering what my purpose in writing this is or may be saying “well, do you have a solution for this?”

 

Let me tell you what I would like to see. I would love to see the Christian foundation of our nation restored. I would love to see God glorified in public. I would love to see children learn morals and uprightness from scripture in public school. I would love to see our nation return to God and repent of its sin. I would love to see the American people stand up and speak out. I would love to see babies have their rights restored instead of being killed by the thousands every day in the name of “choice”. I would love to see the American people regain the rights they’ve allowed to be stolen from them. I would love to see them have shame and remorse for letting out nation get to this point. But, what I would love to see most is the American people repent and return to God – to fear Him and turn from their sins. That’s what I would love to see and it could happen. If it does happen, it won’t be because of the federal government. It will happen when the people repent. It will happen when all people begin to care more about others than themselves.

 

My solution to this is simple. First, America must repent. We must stop doing what we know is wrong. I’m not advocating a new government or secession (although I think that it should be kept as a possibility). What I’m advocating is a return to the Constitutional government that we started with. I’m talking about returning the authority to the states and allowing them to be sovereign again. I’m talking about getting rid of unnecessary government programs that are unconstitutional and have added to our burden. I’m talking about not stealing any more money from our grandkids or just printing more money when we need it. I’m talking about government officials with character and morals that do what’s right for the people, take their job seriously, and uphold the oath that they took when getting into office. I’m talking about true accountability and transparency. I’m talking about getting rid of the political leeches that suck the life out of the American people. I’m talking about securing the rights of the American people (remember? – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?). I’m talking about reminding the people that they are not entitled to everything. They are entitled the opportunity for a house, car, job, education, etc.; but they are not entitled to have those things given to them. I’m talking about looking at the rich history of men and women who started out with nothing and built their lives through hard work and the fear of God. That’s what I’m talking about and the amazing thing is that it can all happen if we get rid of our selfishness, the government stops what it’s doing, and America repents.

DOTW 03/11/09 – Cleansed

March 11, 2009 at 6:30 am | Posted in Designs of the Week | Leave a comment
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This week’s design is called Cleansed. It is a design meant to remind us that we need to be cleansed of our sin. In Hebrews 10:4 the Bible says that it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to cleanse us of our sins. For our sins to be taken away, there had to be something more permanent. The blood of bulls and goats could only cover our sins. The problem comes when we see that because man is the one who brought sin into the world, and because all men after Adam have been born into sin, it is impossible for man to do anything to pay for his sin.

 

For us to be cleansed of our sins, we need a spotless Lamb. We need someone who has never sinned. The Bible says that this is exactly what happened. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, came to earth and lived among men as one of them. There was one important difference between Christ and other men. Christ was without sin. He never once transgressed the law of God and did everything that He was supposed to do. Because Jesus was without sin, He could be the propitiation (substitute) for us. Because Jesus was the seed of God (promised back in Genesis 3:15), He didn’t inherit the sin nature passed down through Adam. Jesus spent 33 years on earth. The last 3 ½ years, He spent preaching the truth of God to all those in Israel who would listen.

 

Unfortunately, many of those who heard the message didn’t like it. They didn’t like to hear about their sins or how those sins would send them to hell. Sadly, not much has changed in 2000 years. Man still doesn’t like to hear about his sin (lying, stealing, lusting, coveting, etc.) and he still hates those who preach the message of repentance. He still doesn’t like to be told that many of the things that he likes to do are seen in God’s eyes as sin. Because man can’t reach God or attack Him, he often takes out his anger on those who represent Him by mocking them, insulting them, and even killing them. But, no matter how much sinful man doesn’t like to hear their need to repent, it doesn’t change the truth.

 

The truth is that sin will be paid for one of two ways. One way that the Bible says sin will be paid for is when man is sent to hell to pay for those sins. This is hard for us to understand and to accept, but it is the truth. If we don’t have our sins paid for, they will be in hell. The other way that sins are paid for is through the blood of Jesus. Because Jesus a man who had no sin in His life, He could substitute Himself for us and reconcile us to God. Because He is the Son of God, that substitutionary sacrifice could be applied to all of those who would repent of their sins and call them what they are. The blood of Jesus cleanses man of all his sins and reconciles him to God.

 

Please understand this truth and take a look at your life. If you have not been cleansed of your sins through the blood of Jesus, please repent. Hell is not a myth and it’s not a joke. It’s a horrible place of torment that lasts for eternity. Be cleansed through the blood of Jesus and put your faith in Him.

A gospel for all ages

March 9, 2009 at 6:30 am | Posted in Christianity | 2 Comments
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Our modern society is divided according to age. We have different categories that we tend to put people:

  • Babies
  • Children
  • Youth/teens
  • Adults
  • Elderly

 

Each group is expected to know certain things. Each group is separate from the other and to be affiliated with the wrong group can be offensive to some. This separation is also seen in the church. To see this, all you have to do is look at Sunday school. We have a class for babies and toddlers. We put children in another. The teens have their own class and, often, even adults have been split into groups depending on age, marital status, or gender. Why do we split ourselves into groups? When did we decide that this was good? I see some problems with this. First, each group begins to identify with their own group to the exclusion of others. They don’t learn to interact with those that are younger or older than they are. Many times, an older group will often look down on younger groups. This is most evident between the groups of children and teens, but can be seen in other groups as well.

 

One of the major problems that I see with this approach is that there seems to be a different gospel being preached to each group. Often, toddlers and babies don’t have the gospel to them at all. Our children have Bible “stories” with little substance. They hear about the main events in the Bible, but in a cartoony, unscriptural type of way. The see images of the ark where the animals are practically bulging out of the ship, they see images of Jesus even though we have no indication of what they look like. In these kids classes they often hear about five to ten minutes of a Bible story and the rest of the time they color or do crafts or play. The teen classes are often structured to be “cool”, “edgy”, “entertaining”, and “relevant”. Much of the time, there is very little time spent on truth and much more on entertainment. Much of the time, these classes are basically a weak attempt to try and keep the teens in church because most have heard that many of them will leave when they get to be adults. In all honesty, there was no such thing as a teenager before 1940. Before this time, you were either a child or an adult and the change often took place around age 13 (think of bar-mitzvahs and bat-mitzvahs).

 

Unfortunately, we tend to deceive ourselves and think that they are just kids and can’t see the façade of the church. They look at how the church tries to be like the world and they aren’t impressed. The world does the world better than the church does and when we’re trying to be like them instead of like Christ, the teens don’t receive what they need and we push them away. We don’t have any substance or backbone, and we can’t answer their questions (even though we’re supposed to be able to – 1 Pet. 3:15). This is why we’re losing so many of them to the world. We try to be relevant and they’re not impressed.

 

The adult classes are often focused on issues like finances, parenting, relationships, and marriage. They are many times split into men and women. The elderly classes are often focused on comfort and seem to be the most Word-focused classes in our churches. I would guess that this is because they were actually raised by men and women who valued the Word more than anything else.

 

Many may be asking whether or not this is bad. I would say that it’s not bad all the time. It can be good to separate for certain things, but I don’t know that it should be the norm. The truth is that the gospel should be the same regardless of what age the participants are. They should hear about sin and hell as well as love, mercy, and grace. I’m sure that this would cause many in the church to gawk. What we need to remember is that salvation does not come from our kids coloring a picture of Jesus, building an ark from popsicle sticks, or sitting in a relevant class that talks about teen issues. Salvation comes alone from when we preach the gospel. It comes from when we tell them the truth and don’t pull any punches about sin or judgment. Some might disagree with me and say that we need to present the gospel in understandable way. I don’t disagree with this at all, but I would have to say that the method or way of presenting the gospel in no way has to affect the truth of it. Let me give an example:

 

My daughter and I went to dinner together about two years ago. While we were talking about different things, I felt the urge to witness to her. What was I going to say? She’s a seven year old. I had just started learning about the biblical method of witnessing to others from Way of the Master. This method basically goes through the law with someone to show him or her what sin is and then shows him or her that God will judge lawbreakers. It then finishes with God’s mercy and the legal transaction of the cross. I decided that I would do this with my daughter. I began to run down the Ten Commandments in my mind. I didn’t feel comfortable about talking to her about adultery or lust. I chose to focus on lying. I explained to her about lying and how it was a violation of His law. I explained to her that God is not happy with her if she’s told lies. I told her that if someone has broken God’s law, He would not let her enter heaven. After a few more minutes of talking about lies, sin, and the cross, she asked me if we could talk about something else. I let it go and decided that I would keep an eye out for another opportunity. We ate dinner, spent some time together, and then I took her home.

 

The next day, I got a call saying that my daughter had talked to her mom about lying and sin. She had decided that she wanted to be saved and not long after, she was baptized.

 

This experience between my daughter and I didn’t happen because of me. It happened because the Holy Spirit was able to take the truth that I shared with my daughter and use it to prick her conscience and lead her to Christ. If this can happen with a seven year old, then why do we waste our time with them coloring and playing? We should be honest with our kids. There is nothing wrong with simplifying our explanations (when needed) but we cannot simplify the message or water it down to make it palatable to everyone.

 

If I have any teen readers I’ll probably lose them with this next statement. Teens don’t exist. They should be taught the same truth the adults are. I honestly don’t see any reason why teens can’t sit in on adult classes. I don’t see any reason why they can’t grasp the truth. I can’t help but wonder if we have underestimated our youth and their ability to grow in holiness or understand the truth. I think that we do them a great disservice. Many teens are hungry for something more than what their churches are giving them. They are looking for something with substance and when they can’t find it in the church, they go to look for it in the world! They are leaving because we don’t give them what they are hungry for and what they need. 

 

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel for all ages. It is not just for adults or those we think are ready for it. It should be preached to our kids as soon as possible and as much as possible. This should happen not just until they’re saved but it should be done just as much (if not more) after they are saved to remind them of what Jesus has done for them.

He who has ears to hear

March 3, 2009 at 4:54 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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While many people talk about Jesus and knowing Him, I can’t help but wonder when I look at those who profess Christianity how many are listening? There were a number of times when Jesus spoke that He told His listeners, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”. He did this when explaining that John was Elijah to come. He said it when telling some of the parables He spoke. He also said this to John the Apostle when John received the Revelation. When John wrote to the seven churches, everything that Jesus said to them was ended with “he who has an ear to hear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”.

 

But how many today are actually listening? How many people today actually look like the description of a Christian found in scripture? The Word tells us what to do and not do. Do our lives line up with this? If they don’t, then we aren’t listening. When Jesus spoke, it wasn’t up for debate. He never corrected Himself or changed His mind on an issue. Those who actually listened to His parables, heard more than just stories. They heard how to receive salvation. They heard how to live their lives in obedience to God. They heard that judgment was to come. Those who were listening understood what He was saying and it showed in their response to Him. This is the opposite of what’s happening today. Today, pastors aren’t preaching the truth. If what is being preached from the pulpit doesn’t line up with the things that Jesus Himself or His Apostles preached, then it’s not the truth. Instead, pastors are entertaining their audiences with dietary tips and worldly music. People need to hear the truth of Jesus Christ and many of them are not. It reminds me of what Jesus said in Matthew 13:14-15:

 

“In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, ‘YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE; FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES, OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.’

 

What did Jesus want us to hear? He wanted us to hear the truth. He wanted us to know about John the Baptist. He wanted us to hear the parables. He wanted us to hear that until He returns, there will be false converts in the church along with those who truly believe. He wanted us to know that true Christians bear fruit. He wanted us to know that those who commit lawlessness will be thrown into the furnace. He wanted us to know what defiles a man is what comes out of his heart. Jesus wanted us to know that we should count the cost of what it means to be a disciple. He wanted us to know that if we love anyone or anything more than Him, we cannot be disciples.

 

He also wants us to know what will happen to those who overcome. In the book of Revelation, Jesus tells John to write to the seven churches. In each one, He told the churches some of the things that they were doing well and the things that Jesus had against them. He then reminded them what would happen to them if they overcame. If a Christian overcomes, he will be able to eat from the tree of life (Rev. 2:7); they will not be hurt by the second death (Rev. 2:11), and they will get some of the hidden manna and a white stone with a new name on it (Rev. 217). The one who overcomes will be given authority over the nations to rule them with a rod of iron and be given the morning star (Rev. 2:26). The one who overcomes will be given a white garment, his name will not be erased from the book of life, and Jesus will confess his name before God (Rev. 3:5). The one who overcomes will be made a pillar in the temple of God and he will not go out. Jesus will write the names of God, the city of God, and the new name of Jesus (Rev. 3:12). The one that overcomes will sit down on the throne with Jesus (Rev. 3:21).

 

We have to hear the Word the way Jesus spoke it. We have to preach the Word the way that Jesus spoke it. We have to understand the Word the way the Jesus meant it to be understood. We have to bear fruit through the Word. We have to realize that not everyone that claims to be a Christian is one. We have to understand what it means to be a Christian, what it will cost us, and be willing to pay the price.


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