This Means You

Some of you aren’t going to church.

But you can get fed anyway.  Come to church with me.  Personally I find the music translates very poorly over the computer speakers, so I’d skip the singing, which means all the services start about half an hour after the official start time.  If you like, you can also watch older sermons.

Links.

 

http://calvaryoceanside.faithnetwork.com/  (live stream – services @ 5:55pm Sat; 9 & 11 on Sunday – which means watch @ 630/930/1130 for just sermon stuff – Pacific time)

if you miss it, wait a couple of days, and find the archived sermons here.  All the archived sermons, if you are just curious about the crazed Calvary Chapel people.

http://subsplash.com/ccoceanside/s/f7b75bc/

How we weaken ourselves… Division

This is my personal axe to grind, with the folks that come and read my blog, all ten of you.

This era in which we find ourselves living in is not a good time for us to fight amongst ourselves.  Those of us who are serious about living a life to the glory of God, who believe the Word of God, who have a meaningful relationship with Christ Jesus – we’re family.  God said so.

Now, I don’t have any sibs IRL, but I’ve observed sibling relationships, and you know… lots of siblings drive each other nutterbutters.   That seems to be pretty normal.  But they’re family, and when chips are down, they have each others’ backs.

I don’t always agree with all of y’all.  That would be impossible, y’all don’t agree with each other.  But I respect you.  I respect your walk of faith.  I respect your allegiance to Christ.   I see how you’re living your lives (insofar as we can, through computer screens) and I see that you’re walking the talk, that you’re consistent.

I don’t care how we do this, but I am beseeching you – we need to mend our fences and get to a place where we can have a few Christmas parties where everyone laughs and someone eats too many cookies.   We need to have prayer meetings.  We need to support one another.

We don’t have to agree.  But now is not the time to fight out the minutiae – now is the time to come together and act like family.  Yeah, sometimes that means pigtail pulling… but we need to leave knowing that we love one another.

When we separate out and stop caring for one another, we play into the enemy’s hands.  Let’s, instead, come together. Please?

1 John 2:Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10 The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (NASB)

Subtle Ways the Culture Wars on Faith

Last post I talked about how The World, The Flesh, and The Devil have always been the pulls against true Christianity, and how just because the World used to mask itself more flatteringly, doesn’t mean it was an ally in truth.

But there are ways in which the culture of the post-Christian West is making it increasingly difficult to grow a mature Christian faith.

  1. Permanent Adolescence/The Worship of Youth (Selfishness)
  2. Creeping Spirituality/Non-Christian beliefs

The Worship of Youth comes in as many forms as a centipede has legs, but at its core there is a concentration on the good things that come with the stage of life when most of us are running about finding mates and figuring out what we’re going to do with our lives.  That potential is something that the modern doesn’t want to let go of, even well after that stage of life has ended.  The value in maturing, having confidence in one’s skills, being slower to speak …. they’re completely devalued, at least until retirement age.  This weakens the Christian, because it concentrates us 1) on the World and the Flesh *very* effectively and 2) reduces the number of mature people (much less mature, committed Christians) to have as pillars of our communities and examples of life well lived.   On the contrary, our examples are those who have held onto youth with teeth and toenails.   This worship has seriously weakened our families and marriages.

Creeping Spirituality is another way in which our culture has made it more difficult to grow mature Christians.  The doctrine of Hell has disappeared, having been replaced by a vague “catch you next life” belief in reincarnation.  Absolutes  have been erased, and “all roads lead to Heaven” is the core belief of most folks – if they think about it at all, which is something that is no longer socially acceptable (see worship-of-youth).  If the vaguely new-age spiritualities aren’t embraced, some sense that all of the monothestic gods are the same god has been, and “whatever works for you” is the mantra of the hour.  All of this makes it very difficult to structure your life with the understanding both that you only get one life, and that your existence doesn’t end with your last breath, that there are consequences for your actions.  Consequences and judgement, the very concept of eternal justice, they’ve all fallen victim to Creeping Spirituality.

An enemy that faces you square on is an enemy that makes you stronger.  It might be an enemy that makes the less-committed of your force run and hide or change sides, but those who stay will gird themselves, make themselves stronger, and become better warriors.

An enemy that pretends to be a friend, an enemy that pretends to be harmless, that’s the enemy that will stick a knife in your back or poison in your soup when your defenses are down.   There’s a reason that history has chosen to treat traitors and moles with heavier sentences (and greater contempt) than captured enemies.

The enemy that pretends to be harmless until the moment the knife is bared is far more dangerous in the long run, and this is the enemy we have been fighting for the last fifty years.   As we now see the blade, we’re running in circles and screeching because so many of our fellow warriors have been weakened by the poison that they’ve been filling the wells with.  But now, now we can see the blade, and now we can gird ourselves more effectively.  There are benefits, if we’ll look to them – consider also that some of “our team” will defect, but remember… if they’re ready to defect, they weren’t of God *anyway*.

The times are changing, and those who called themselves our friends are showing their true faces.  We mourn, and rightly so – but I say that we should also rejoice, because our choices are clearer now than they have been for many a year.

Post-Christian America: A Reality Check

There’s always been a choice for every person on this planet – Christ or Something Else. We can categorize the Something Else as “The World, The Flesh, and The Devil”.   I’d like to explore how this has changed in our post-Christian America, and what it means to us.

Calling any culture post-Christian is a bit of misdirection, to be honest.  When has it been true that most people in any culture searched for Jesus, devoted themselves to pleasing Him, and loved our Master?    Never.   What changes is what guise The World wears.  For the past thousand years (and more), Western Civilization has worn the mask of Christianity – but it isn’t difficult to ascertain that most folks were still chasing the World or the Flesh, not God.

Let’s take a second to define terms.  When you chase The Flesh, you chase the good (or the pleasure) of the body.  Whether gourmet, exercise fanatic, or lothario, you worship the body.  When you chase The Devil, you pursue evil for its own sake… and there are always a few folks who will do this.  Those pursuing the Devil also pursue false gods with a willing heart.  When you chase the World, you are looking for the “win” – you’re looking for the praise of man.

The way that Western culture has changed in the last 100 years is that no longer do you have to be a member of a church and mouth the right words to obtain the praise of man.  This is now optional.  There are new requirements, some of which are now anti-Christian.

So, what does that mean for us?   That means that the World is no longer on “our side”. *  That means that when people want to pursue their own desires, they don’t have to worry about losing status.  They don’t have to worry about what the neighbors might think.  They don’t have to worry about slapping on an outward mask of righteousness.

Sometimes that makes us think that people are worse now.  Maybe they are – we certainly aren’t encouraging people to love the Lord, even by accident.  But people have always been wretched and selfish.  Humans are not nice creatures, we are all desperate sinners.   A culture of people who feel a need to play nicely is certainly more pleasant to live in, to raise a family in – but is it a more fertile field to raise up children of the King?  On the contrary, I would say that the open enmity of The World is a better breeding ground for committed Christians.   Look at China.  Look at first-century Christianity.

Our world, our culture has a way to win and serve both Flesh and World… make enough money, grab enough power, please enough people in order to obtain enough money to consume everything that The Flesh desires.   Before, you had to add a certain amount of public “righteousness” to that mix in order to win the respect of the World, now – you don’t.  Are we, then, less righteous?  I say not.  Choosing to do the right thing simply because the World expects it wins us no reward in Heaven.   Again, it was nicer, it was easier, to live in that culture and be a real Christian… but the choice was still there.

Now the choice is obvious.  It feels like a betrayal, to see the culture turn away from Christ.  But remember, it has never really belonged to Him – when you chase The World, you’re still chasing Something Else.

The mask has been removed, and we can see the sepulchre is no longer whitewashed.  It is the heart that is desperately wicked, and it is that heart that must be replaced by the new heart given us by God.  Or not.  There is no solution short of Jesus, there is no way to make things “nice” without kneeling before the Cross.

It feels bad.  It feels like “we should do something to make them be nice”.   But Nice is not our aim.  Nice is just the tepid glop that our Lord will spit out when He comes.   There’s not one of us without someone on our list whose choices don’t make us crazy.  There’s not one of us who looks at the mess that this world has become and doesn’t mourn.  But look beyond the whitewash – our aim is NOT to hand out buckets of lime, it’s to sow seed for the Harvest of Souls.

It hurts.  It hurts me too.  It made it so much easier to pretend that everything was okay when everyone played nice.  But that time is over.  We’re playing a different game, we’re living in a different culture.   Our aim shouldn’t be to take back Nice, our aim should be to win souls for the King.

Some truths are ugly, and the moment of choice breaks many a heart.  But ne’ertheless, we must all choose.  Christ – or Something Else.

 

*Not that it ever was.

Small Thoughts on Ecumenism and Iron Sharpening Iron

Chris reminded me of what I consider the strength of the modern Church, and that is its diversity… at least when we’re all serious about the One that matters, and our pursuit of Truth.

My Messianic friends teach me about the beauty of the OT feasts, and how they plug into Jesus’ life and prophecy.  They enrich my understanding of our Lord, and sometimes bring me near to tears.  (http://messianicfellowship.50webs.com/wedding.html)

My Calvinist friends remind me to study hard and stand unflinchingly for the Truth, regardless of popularity.

My more Pentecostal friends remind me to have BIG faith.

My Catholic friends show me the strength of a church that works together.  (The only time I want to be Catholic is when I fantasize about excommunicating certain folks who blaspheme our Lord by claiming Him).

My Orthodox friends show me love for tradition, and pure stubbornness in the face of the World.

Better would be if we truly knew when we were doing it “right” – but according to the seven letters in Revelation, we haven’t had that dialed in since John’s day.  I’m looking forward to learning to worship perfectly in Heaven.

Until then, I do the best I can (and I do the.best.I.can) and y’all do your best … and we’ll argue about details, and thus sharpen each other.  We make each other think.  We challenge each other’s assumptions.  We poke each other in our weak spots.  We illuminate the dark spots.  We’re a family.  Family is frequently annoying.  :)  But we are all working for One Person.

And just as we’re one family, we’re one body… bodies have different bits with different purposes, skills, and weaknesses.

As an aside, if I could do one thing, it would be to share the overwhelming euphoric joy with which I am sometimes filled.  It’s amazing.  And all us sibs have equal access… so, if I could get you to do something, it would be to enjoy the filling of the Spirit and your communion with God.  Or maybe y’all do, and you aren’t telling me.  Because you should drop me a note about this stuff.  I need someone to glow with.  :D

 

Humans Judge on Appearance

I never thought I would write something for my professional blog – my image consulting blog – that I’d want to cross post here.  As a matter of fact, it’s not even running over there until later this week.  But it fits here.  And since it DID make me mad, I’m saying it today.  :)

It irritates me when we needlessly replicate social science studies – especially when we do so on the backs of children.  This popped up on my FB feed this weekend.  https://www.facebook.com/NowThisNews/videos/1094289017327888/?pnref=story

The idea is to expose how horribly lookist that we are, in order to shame us into acting differently.

I’m all for treating people well, regardless of their appearance – it’s part of my commitment to Christ.

James 2:1 – 4 My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? (NASB)

So, insofar as it involves me – or you, dear readers – I hope that you’re controlling your actions and basing them on compassion.  BUT.  BUT.  This wouldn’t have been in the Bible if it weren’t a natural human tendency.  (“Natural” is not a synonym for “good” – especially in the realm of human behavior).

What’s upsetting?  This has been proven.  Babies prefer pretty people.  Babies.  This is not nurture, it’s nature.  https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn6355-babies-prefer-to-gaze-upon-beautiful-faces/  This is known.  Every interaction any one of us has ever had in the world has reminded us of this hard truth.

You didn’t need to make a little girl cry.  I’m mad that they hurt this little girl – do they think she’s going to forget that day?  Every protective parental bone in my body is infuriated right now.  How DARE they do this to her?  They knew she’d be rejected.

And I get mad when I hear grown people say, “well, it shouldn’t matter how I dress…”  You’re right.  It shouldn’t.  But it does.  Humans are visual creatures, and we take in information visually.

Learn to speak with your mouth closed, and you can make this work for you.  In the meantime, remember that these things work on you just as they work on tiny babies, and act with love.

Seasons in life

In the World, when you say goodbye to a season in your life, whatever it is, you’re supposed to slam the door and say, “good riddance!”  In Christianity, there’s no such requirement – excepting perhaps the season of our lives before we came to Christ.   The Bible speaks often about the appropriate seasons of life, it doesn’t tell us that we should remain static.  (Rather the opposite).

I’m thinking about this a lot lately.  I don’t *want* to slam the door on the season of life that I’ve inhabited for 16 years.   I’ve spent this time well.  The lessons I’ve learned will stay with me for the rest of my years, whether I’m currently using them or not, and I’m grateful.  I’ve been grateful to have had this time at home.

It’s not like it’s coming to an abrupt end, I’m just switching gears a bit – the home is still my responsibility.  My work won’t be full-time for years yet.  If I choose to resent home-work because it “isn’t who I am now”, I’m a fool.  If I choose to stifle my excitement at my new adventure because “I haven’t made it yet”, I’m likewise foolish.

Learning, changing, developing as a person – I hope to keep doing these things until my dying breath.   I’ve always recoiled in horror at the notion that learning was something one only did in school.   You’re supposed to grow in faith, you’re supposed to grow in knowledge of the Truth, you’re supposed to grow in spiritual maturity.  And if you’re growing in all of that, you can hardly help growing in secular things as well.

Because I don’t eat bread much anymore, I don’t bake much anymore.  I’m glad to know how to make a good loaf of bread even so.    I’m glad to know how to carry a baby properly, to double-dig a garden, to sew a fine seam, to plan the holidays… knowledge isn’t wasted.

So, if you will forgive me – the season coming up isn’t about slamming a door, it’s about stepping into new skills and new duties, and moving along in my pursuit of becoming a Proverbs 31 woman.

What I reject is the idea that simply because I’ve left a season behind, I would ever want to slam a door between it and myself.

Description of a Worthy Woman

10 An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.
14 She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.
15 She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.
18 She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies belts to the tradesmen.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
26 She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
29 “Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.