Tuesday, January 11, 2011

We need MORE Radicals

In light of the recent shooting in Tuscon, Arizona, there are many people pointing fingers. There doesn’t appear to be any question regarding who did the shooting. The shooter did, in fact, get tackled at the scene.

Commentators of all sorts have been laying blame for the incident, however. Political hay is being made by those who claim that rhetoric (mostly “right wing”) is responsible. Now we have many calling for a cooling of the rhetoric.

I, on the other hand, declare that what we really need in the United States is more radicals.

Understand that what I write here is intended for those who claim to be Christians. It won’t make sense to anybody else.

The great military leader Joshua, as he was preparing to die, called Israel together for one last sermon. He was worried about them. He wanted them to remember the lessons of faithfulness they had learned about God. He told them that they needed to serve faithfully. This lesson can be found in Joshua 24.

“With Faithfuness.” he said.  Not with wimpiness; not with casualness; not with acceptance  from society. With FAITHFULNESS. What does this mean? It means that we serve him as radicals. We cannot be like everyone else. We must stand out.  In Philippians 2:12-16 we read this:
12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. 14Do everything without complaining  or arguing,15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe16as you hold out the word of life--in order that I may boast on the day of Christ  that I did not run  or labor for nothing.

Shine like stars. Stand out. How? Well, in our society it can be viewed as both very easy and very difficult to stand out. It’s easy to find those actions and activities that are morally higher than those of our society as a whole. Our society is so morally bankrupt that being different is easy.

OTOH, it is hard for us sometimes to feel different; to be strange; to put yourself in a situation which marks you off and makes you a target. Here are just a few suggestions for living a radical life in a morally degenerate culture.

A.            Go to Church. We live in a generation that knows not Jesus. Some people attend church services when they get to it; when they don’t have anything better to do. God’s Word (Heb. 10:25) says that we should not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another. We can’t encourage one another while we’re at home (or at a bar, a bowling alley, or even a very important political activity) and they are at church.
B.             Nurture the Family. The enemy wants the family to be fractured. That’s why government makes divorce easy; has made living together without marriage more acceptable and legal; and wants to make homosexuality seem normal. God created the family. Satan – and his minions – want to destroy this medium of stability in society.
C.            Pray. Do you pray regularly? Do you let people know that you pray for them? There is power in prayer, friends. We are told to pray for our enemies; pray for the government; pray for one another. Do you pray in public? Let them see you. Let them know who you are – and whose you are.
D.             Dress Better. This one may seem out of place, but believe me it is one of the visible – and radical ways to stand out like a sore thumb in society. Do I mean that we should all wear suits all the time? No. I mean that we should not accept the lowered and sexually provocative standards of the society. I mean that we should look like Christians – modest, not trampy.
E.               Work. I know that some of you would like to have more work. Obviously this one doesn’t address you. But Christians are supposed to do an honest day’s work for a day’s wage. No cheating; no welfare. In Ephesians 4:28, Paul writes, ”He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.” Did you get that. No welfare (obviously accepting some help in times of need is not the same as living on the dole); no mooching; work – and be ready and able to help others in need.
F.              Quote the Bible. How do people know that you are a person of the Book? No, you don’t need to become one of those annoying Bible thumpers. Many of them know the words, but don’t live them. What I’m talking about is being able to use a quote or a concept from the Bible in conversation. What’s the catch? You need to read it; know it; have some understanding about it.
G.            Be Committed. This is “The C word” today. Jesus said that we are to have our “yes” be “yes” and our “no,” “no.” This is not just about making oaths; it’s also about living a life of commitment.
H.             Give. Ah, he finally gets down to the nitty-gritty. There are many places in Scripture that tell us that we need to be giving people. We need to give to the church; we need to be giving to one another. This really befuddles people. Liberals don’t give. They are stingy. There are all sorts of polls and statistics that show this. If they KNOW that you are a giver – especially to the church – they will either try to get some of that giving or they will ask questions about that. Rich, who used to work for me in the newspaper business, once asked me if I gave regularly to the church. I told him that I was a tither. He shook his head. He couldn’t believe it. I told him why.

Live well. Do NOT be involved in violence. Stand out. Be a RADICAL. If you do these things you will befuddle the liberals - and probably be persecuted. Rejoice!


Anonymous said...

On the Puritanboard you posted on why people leave churches:

* The Pastor is mean.
* There aren't enough programs.
* My kids are bored.
* The band stinks.
* The coffee is not fair trade.

You also added an eye roll icon.

Perhaps you might ask God if you lack humility.

There are many pastors that have been mean and oppressive. They can be found in the Catholic, Pentecostal churches, etc.

Believe it or not, even the Reformed churches have mean pastors.

Are you sure no former lay member of your church never found you mean?

The Puritanboard frequently mocks Benny Hinn, Joel Olstein, etc.

I don't agree with the teachings of these pastors, however, I am try very hard not to mock because the Bible speaks so strongly against mocking.

If you disagree with Benny, that's fine. I do too. However, just state specifically where his theology is wrong. Anything more, like comments about his hair, etc., is extremely distasteful and I fear displeasing to God. (There have been many posts on the PB mocking Benny's hair, etc.)

Perhaps each pastor should survey former members of their churches.

These pastors might find that when people leave their churches, maybe just maybe, the pastor may have erred.

In my walk I have seen that the greatest flaw among "professing Christians" is the inability to self-criticize. To paraphrase Jeremiah, the heart is deceptively wicked - who can know it.

My opinion of myself is much lower than it was 10 years ago.

I shutter to think of the careless and stupid comments I have made and how this affected other people and what they thought of Christians.

This thread on the Puritanboard - and your post in particular - reeks of arrogance.

As a Christian I have learned to feel real remorse and embarrassment for the foolish and sinful statements I have made.

I found your comment very distasteful.

Anonymous said...

An additional comment:

I mentioned Benny Hinn not because I want to defend him. I detest his theology.

I mention Mr. Hinn because mocking is something that really sticks in my throat.

Painful memories are often attached to incidents involving mocking.

I fear that many people have been hurt by Christian pastors through a haughty or mocking attitude.

It is easy to be "tone deaf."

Many times I have asked God to GENTLY show me where I have sinned.

Perhaps some bad things happen at least in part because I (blindly) sinned.

Curt said...

I find it interesting that negative comments are almost always made by the same person, "anonymous."

You know who I am....

Anonymous said...

I appear anonymous on the internet because the internet world is dangerous.

Some would call me a coward. Others say I am prudent.

Joe Johnson had some interesting comments. He seems to self- examine his heart when conflict occurs.

If my comments were inappropriate, I hope you forgive me.

But beware: Mockery and arrogance are abundant in professing Christianity.

"My denomination is more orthodox than yours. My church is more proper than yours. I am holier than you."

One of my Christian friends and I discussed this topic a while back. We agreed that the tendency to self-justify is deadly. It's hard to confess sins you can't see.

You know how restaurants sometimes ask customers for anonymous feedback. Maybe churches should do the same.

The problem with this idea is the human tendency to explain away all criticism.

I would like to interview Pastor Ivan's former members to see their perspective.

Have a nice day Curt.

Anonymous said...

I think Anonymous is a coward and the 'internet is dangerous' excuse is just that - an excuse. Anonymous knows that Anonymous would get ripped to shreds in the thread in question if Anonymous had the guts to post there.

(yes, there is irony in this post....wait for it...)

Anonymous said...

Ha. This is why I usually refrain from internet discussions.

Rather than discuss the issue at hand (non-attendance at church), Curt and some other poster attack me for making an anonymous post.

Perhaps someone should address the issue at hand and not me personally.

Curt, it seems that you are a fantastic pastor. You criticized me and you criticized people who don't go to church. You yourself are blameless.

It's quite obvious from your posts that any person who has left your church left because of his or her own failings - and not because of any fault of yours.

Church can be a very difficult place to visit for many people. Through the years, I and many many others have labored reach out to newcomers.

This is a difficult process.

Keep up attacking people who make anonymous posts, Curt.

Anonymous said...

Someone said:

"I think Anonymous is a coward and the 'internet is dangerous' excuse is just that - an excuse. Anonymous knows that Anonymous would get ripped to shreds in the thread in question if Anonymous had the guts to post there."

Why did the Puritanboard delete this thread? Who is the coward?

Anonymous said...

On a much more positive note, I have noticed that the Puritanboard is now walking the walk.

Over the weekend, this board repeatedly emphasized the applicability of the 4th Commandment to Super Bowl Sunday.

Curt said...

Dear Anon,

You weary me. First, it's true that cowardice hides behind the name "Anonymous."

You, who have "labored" so hard over the years to welcome people are truly without much of a clue. The reasons that I listed on the PB were listed with tongue in cheek, but recognizing that some people are indeed that shallow.

My taking note of these things in no way makes claim to my being "blameless." Would that it were so.

Perhaps you have unresolved issues with the church and with pastors.

Being the perfect pastor that I am, I could offer you counsel. Drop by my perfectly appointed "study" (we mustn't call it an office). I'm sure that with my impeccable credentials, my deep insight, and my great humility, I'm sure I can straighten you out.

Anon, please don't bother to respond. I know you're too busy welcoming the visitors and just cleaning up after your own pastor, who I'm sure needs your help.

Anonymous said...

Please forgive me for one last post.

Please show these postings to other Christians, and please ask for feedback.

If I am wrong, please forgive.

This is a big issue in the church.

Anonymous said...

Please post all these posts on the Puritanboard.

I suspect many people there would have interesting insights.

What have you got to lose?

BTW I am not criticizing all pastors. Some kind and gentle.

Take care Curt.

(I don't fully subscribe to the Westminster standards, therefore I can't post.)