Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Blogging for the Kingdom

We all go through times in our lives where themes are constantly coming up in our daily devotions, in sermons and in conversations. One idea that the Spirit seems to keep raising in my heart over the past several months has been that of Kingdom Relationships.

All I am saying with the idea of Kingdom Relationships, is that we have to relate to people, all people, within the context of Kingdom Relationships. My relationship with my spouse needs to be one that prepares her to be a citizen of the eternal kingdom. My relationships with my children should prepare them for the day that they bow before that eternal throne. My interactions with my coworkers should be such to encourage those who are entering into the kingdom and compelling towards those who are not already submitting to the King. I submit to you that our interactions with everyone on this planet with whom we have any contact must be contributing to the building up of the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.

But, does that really hold true in the blogosphere? This has been the subject of much discussion on the Christian forums of cyberspace. I have witnessed many a discussion that turned from its subject to harsh words of disagreement or accusation over anything or nothing. You may well have seen hijacks of interesting threads turn to inane discussions or crazy accusations. Is this behavior in keeping with the Truth? Again, I postulate that all our interactions must be kingdom focused. Even in cases of contention and confrontation we must conduct ourselves with a care that we do not turn away those who need to enter in nor do we savage those with whom we will worship for all eternity.

All this is readily agreeable. There is a practical problem however. It comes in two parts. The first should be readily apparent to all. We have the great mandate of Ephesians 4:15 to speak the truth in love. We must speak in a way that shows love. It is always easier to communicate when we speak to people face to face. Oral communication is the next easiest. The hardest is realm in which to communicate is that of written words. It is so difficult (even in this age of emoticons ;p !) to communicate our intentions accurately. That means that participants in email, blogs and chats need to be that much more wary of how they express themselves. I believe that this problem is also helped by identification. On a blog, when I feel like garythegreat89 is attacking me it is hard to imagine this cyberbabble of a name as a brother in Christ. When participants clearly identify themselves and open themselves up to reproof and correction by publishing their email address they are less likely to be lighting up the flamethrower.

The second part of the problem is accepting confrontation in grace. Whenever someone comes to us with criticism, rebuke, reproof or correction we need to accept it as from the Lord. Even when it is mostly untrue there is almost always some element of truth that we can take and allow the Holy Spirit to use. I think of the strong words that Paul uses at the end of 1 Corinthians 4, "What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?" The apostle apparently felt warranted to say that his demeanor toward them would be based on their response.

So my admonition to any who reads these words is that we all must speak the truth in love, hear the truth with grace and proclaim the truth of the Kingdom!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Standing on the Rock

This blog is called Standing on the Rock. I decided to call it that because I think that an important part of life is to have a stable foundation spiritually, philosophically, emotionally from which to observe the world. As a christian there can be no other foundation than Jesus Christ, His divinity, His life, His eternally efficacious work (1 Cor 3:11).

Now, I did pause before deciding on this. I do have some political and social subjects I would like to address. Can one do that on a blog with a religious title like "Standing on the Rock?" I think one certainly may. I am reminded of Bob Jones Sr's saying that, "For the christian there is no separation between the secular and the sacred." This always raises american hackles and some will quickly trot out the ol' separation of church and state. And my first reply is that speaking in the public forum and legislating a state religion are apples and monkeys. My view is that a religion that does not affect our view of society, history, science and politics is no religion at all. The framers were intent on keeping the government from establishing one sect or denomination and then discriminating against others. Anyone who has read the founding fathers cannot help but notice the incessant references to God, God's Word, Creation and Divine Law and Providence. There is no hypocrisy in discussing cultural issues from a religious perspective. There is no intolerance in declaring one option better than another based on economics, culture or morals.

Whether we discuss religion, culture, sports or philosophy we must do it from some framework, some basis. My basis is the Word of God and what it reveals to us about God and about ourselves. Each person must choose between viewing life from God's perspective or from a humanistic perspective. I think that we always struggle to see from God's viewpoint because our fleshly hearts constantly try to infuse man's way into the picture. But thankfully God has promised that His Word and the Holy Spirit will guide us to wisdom that is from above. And we can use this wisdom to analyze all of life.

Standing on the Rock is not about me sharing any higher knowledge. I hope that I can write some things that are entertaining and thought-provoking. I am writing mostly for my own benefit since I need to write to hone my own skills and to formulate my own thoughts.

Any feedback is welcome. Any constructive criticism is appreciated.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A Thought About Dan Brown's Work

Unless you have been renting Ted Kaczyski's cabin in Montana for the last 6 months you have heard about The Da Vinci Code.  Clearly such an insidious attack on Christianity must be answered by the church.  Or does it?  The obvious problem is that the book and movie are a fiction, but purport to be factual.  And the alleged historical facts of this story have been used to attack the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth and the Inerrancy of Scripture.  Now, last time I checked, these are both core fundamentals of christianity so we have to defend them, right?

The problem, as I see it is that if these are really part of the nucleus of christianity then should not every one who calls themselves a christian know this.  We should certainly not have to worry that any member of our church would be confused by this assault.  Furthermore, if our church is in the business of edifying, building up, and strengthening the saints then our members should be sanctifying God in their hearts and readying themselves to give an answer to anyone who questions the foundational truth on which our faith rests (1 Peter 3:15).

I am an ER nurse.  It is not unusual for someone to come to the emergency room for some seemingly minor problem, only to find out that they have a major problem like cancer. Imagine a fairly healthy person in their early 50's that has a fainting spell and comes in to be checked.  As part of the routine exam we do a chest x-ray.  We are all shocked to see a huge cancerous mass in the left lung.  Everything seemed fine but in just a moment this person goes from being healthy to being very sick.  Their ability to get life or health insurance is completely changed.  This may affect their ability to get a job as well as their ability to keep a job.

Dan Brown has done a great service to the church.  By writing a simple work of fiction, lacing it with an improbably 2,000 year-old conspiracy that has spanned centuries and continents, and then stating that his work is factual, he has revealed a huge cancer in the very breast of the church.  Answering questions about the divinity of Christ and the preservation of scripture should be bread and butter to any true believer in the Way, the Truth, and the Life.   And especially in Fundamentalist circles this should be true.  But The Da Vinci Code had revealed that this is not the case.  Pastors and churches everywhere are scrambling to be sure their people know how to answer this attack and how to springboard from discussing a work of fiction to sharing the message of hope that is the Gospel.  Instead of the church saying, "Bring it on!" she is whimpering, "Wait a minute?!"

In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 Paul says, "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve; after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.”  This is the Gospel!  Jesus Christ, the very Son of God came and fulfilled Old Testament prophecy and this is recorded by multiple eyewitnesses in the New Testament!  Every one of us has to know this!  If we cannot defend these truths against all comers, I assert that we do not KNOW them!  If you try to tell me that the earth is flat you are going to get no where with me because I really, really know that it is a globe.  And these truths are just as fundamental.

So, I tell you that you have a huge cancer in your chest.  I guess there are several responses you might make.  You could deny it.  You could ask how it got there.  You could cry and wail and get depressed.  But the healthy response is to ask, "How do we need to treat this?"  Our churches have to be about the proclamation of the Gospel.  The Good News of the Kingdom.  We have to be able to articulate what it is.  Perhaps the reason why the church is having so little impact on our society is that we really do not know the Gospel.  Perhaps the reason that Fundamentalism is in the state it is in (whatever that may be!), is that we really do not apprehend the truth that we purport to proclaim.  So if that is true, we have to get back to the clear teaching of the Word of God.  At it's heart is the message that Jesus explicitly stated that He was God Very God. His disciples understood it, and His enemies understood it.  The Jews killed Jesus because of this truth and He validated His claim by rising from the dead.  His disciples knew He rose, and His enemies knew he rose.  It was attested by hundreds of people.  And it was immediately recorded by multiple authors.

This is not the kind of knowledge that you learn in seminary.  This is the kind of truth that must be taught in Sunday School.  These things are not some part of a complex theory that one needs an advanced degree to be able to speak of. What it is is a fact of history that our children should learn just as they learn about George Washington and World War II.  Furthermore, these are not just pieces of factual knowledge because they are eternal truth.  When we are in God's presence joining in that eternal, joyful, raucous worship service before the eternal throne, I don't think that medical knowledge or quantum physics or Magna Carta is going to mean much to us.  But the Eternal Son and the Everlasting Word will be central to our never-ending existence.

Let us be ready to give to every one an answer of our Great Hope.  And let us build up others that they may to likewise!