Friday, April 17, 2009

"Waiting for it to Change"

I was recently reading the book, Atlas Shrugged, when I came across an interesting scene that caught my attention. Dagny Taggart is riding a train that comes to an unscheduled stop in the middle of nowhere. The reason for the train stopping was due to a broken red signal light that was stuck in the on position. Dagny Taggart is impatient and ready to get the train moving again. Her discussion with the conductor, who stopped the train for an hour, is an interesting one:

Conductor: “I don’t think the signal is going to change. I think it’s busted.”
Dagny Taggart: “Then what are you doing?” (She asks this with frustrated impatience.)
Conductor: “Waiting for it to change.”

The signal light was broken and it was not going to change. But the conductor was so paralyzed that he was willing to wait for it to change even though he knew it wouldn’t.
The conductor’s absurdity seems to be common. There are some signal lights that are broken, yet, we look on in vegetative inaction waiting for a change. Marriages, parenting, spiritual lives and relationships are stuck in the on position but not working. The strange thing is not the failure of the signal lights, but rather, those who stand there complacently staring: the minutes and moments of life passing them by.
Waiting for the signal light to work is not reasonable. How can one define the madness of our social and personal apathy? Watching a red light that you know is broken –“waiting for it to change”.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Judges 17 Question

The real reason I decided to drop you a line is that I am not making any sense out of Judges 17 thru the end of the book of Judges. I keep asking why this story is in the Bible. I understand what it's saying, but can't understand what it ties into. Can you tell me?
As far as Judges 17 – is concerned there are several reasons and principles that I think can be drawn from the passages:
First – it shows the ugliness and sin that Israel was engaged in. Very often “sin” is abstract and theoretical in our thinking but in these stories we see sin in its real nature and gore. Sin affects lives. And I feel when I read those passages that we see sin in it effects and consequences.
And that is important to remember. Sin is not just a religious idea that only has bearing upon the conscience prone to religion. Sin has real results in the world and in the lives of humanity.
Second – it shows the decay of a people who took God for granted. Israel had every reason to live right, yet, they chose to go down the path of hedonism and heathenism. As Christians we are always in danger of having all the outward trappings of faith and yet not experiencing the inward transformation and reality of that faith. There is a danger of living on the symbols and the past rather than living on the strength of a current and vital relationship with Christ.
Third – what is most interesting is the phrase “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” I feel like that is a perfect statement and illustration of where “relativism” leads to. They were not intending to do wrong per say, they were doing right – what “they” thought was right. So the Bible says: “there is a way which seemeth right unto man but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Right is only truly right when it is according to God’s commands and principles. In this current day and atmosphere everyone assumes they are doing right; however, that is a false assumption. Man is not bent naturally towards right; man is bent naturally towards sin. That is why it is so vital to make sure that our opinions, feelings, actions and attitudes, no matter how religious we may think they are, are in fact in line with scripture.
Fourth - these passages show us that God's grace and justice deals with man on the stage of human experience. By that I mean that these people in the Bible were not "characters" without feeling, without context, without psychological baggage and without the struggles of human existence. God's work of redemption and man's interaction with God is not played out in a vacuum. In passages like these we see God's grace in that He is dealing with man in all of man's failure and frailty - and how vile that can be the text clearly shows. True Christian experience is a human experience. Christian faith and obedience to God is not just something we "think" about in our private studies and church pews on Sunday morning. The Christian life is lived amidst the collisions of life and death, sin and righteousness, victory and struggle. We must not allow the Bible and its teachings to be separate from our lives, but rather, it must shape our lives and direct our lives as we live.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

In the fury and bluster of troubled times there is, for Christians, a danger of becoming carried away with the moment and losing sight of eternal biblical principles that transcend political principles. This is just such a time. I do not believe that Socialism, nor any of its off shoots, is a viable political approach. The founding political principles of America has been and is the best, although not without problems, political approach to the human experience. But Socialism is not the great danger facing America. The cries of angst against bigger government, bail outs, environmentalism run rampant and political corruption are things that should not be our greatest fears. In short, Socialism will not destroy our nation - Sin will. It is not the political corruption in the halls of our government, but rather, the moral corruption within the the walls of our homes that will bring this nation to its knees. It is not bigger government but bigger "religion" that hides the face of God. Christianity has flourished under an array of political schemes: monarchies, oligarchies, republics, democracies and dictatorships. It is righteousness not rightness of politics that procures the blessings of God. Political change, no matter how noble is not the true and deepest answer to the issues we are facing. The only real issue is not grass roots political change but grass roots spiritual transformation. Christianity transcend politics. True morality and spiritual power is the result of an encounter with God and not the result of legislation. Tomorrow many Christians will attend "Tax Tea Parties" but that will, in the end, have little lasting impact. Far better would it be for Christians to attend prayer meetings, fast and seek God. We are facing times that call for a "rending of the heavens" if ever we are to be saved. We are facing challenges that can no longer be dealt with by newer methods. I believe it is very dangerous for Christians to be swept away in the fight for American Capitalism. The fight is not against flesh and blood. The fight of faith is one of righteousness. We must keep our focus clear and balanced. Socialism may be a symptom; but Sin is the disease. Only Calvary, only truth can truly cure the disease.

What in the world is a, "Soul Trap."

The "soul trap" was a phrase used to describe Whitefield's Tabernacle in the eighteenth century. That was a time when "souls" were brought under conviction & conversion through the power of the truth and the Holy Spirit. They were captured for Christ by His power alone. In these days of political dismay, economical trouble and anxiety at every turn, it is easy to be distracted from the real issues at stake. For all the symptoms we are faced with today, two things are true. First, this is not the first time in history great problems have faced a nation. Second, the real answer and cure has always been and will always be mankind rightly related to God through saving faith in Christ Jesus. This blog may deal with a myriad of issues: some personal, some political, some practical. But the answer to the true problems we are facing must always bring us back to the Gospel. The need now is not simply political reformation, more church programs and methods, lower taxes, health care reform -the need now is for churches to once again become "soul traps" - places where men and women are captured by the weight, reality and love of God displayed through the cross of Christ.