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Discussion in 'Discussions about Religion.' started by beensetfree, Nov 4, 2012.

  1. beensetfree

    beensetfree Alfrescian (InfP) Old Timer

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    Again Lord


    I have looked away from You Lord
    again
    Lord let me look upon You
    again
    I have walked away from You
    again
    Lord let me walk with You
    again
    I have not read Your Word
    again
    Lord give me a hunger for Your Word
    again
    I have lost my faith in You again
    again
    Lord give me faith to trust You
    again
    I have disappointed You Lord
    again
    Lord strengthen me so I will not disappoint You
    again
    Free me Lord from this circle, grant me the victory found within You, in the power of Jesus Christ’s blood.
    for always..

    Amen

    Romans 8:1-2
    So there is now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus. For the power of the life-giving Spirit-and this power is mine through Christ Jesus-has freed me from the vicious circle of sin and death.
     
  2. beensetfree

    beensetfree Alfrescian (InfP) Old Timer

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    “For there stood by me this night the angel of God.”

    Acts 27:23

    Tempest and long darkness, coupled with imminent risk of shipwreck, had brought the crew of the vessel into a sad case; one man alone among them remained perfectly calm, and by his word the rest were reassured. Paul was the only man who had heart enough to say, “Sirs, be of good cheer.” There were veteran Roman legionaries on board, and brave old mariners, and yet their poor Jewish prisoner had more spirit than they all. He had a secret Friend who kept his courage up. The Lord Jesus despatched a heavenly messenger to whisper words of consolation in the ear of his faithful servant, therefore he wore a shining countenance and spake like a man at ease.

    If we fear the Lord, we may look for timely interpositions when our case is at its worst. Angels are not kept from us by storms, or hindered by darkness. Seraphs think it no humiliation to visit the poorest of the heavenly family. If angel's visits are few and far between at ordinary times, they shall be frequent in our nights of tempest and tossing. Friends may drop from us when we are under pressure, but our intercourse with the inhabitants of the angelic world shall be more abundant; and in the strength of love-words, brought to us from the throne by the way of Jacob's ladder, we shall be strong to do exploits.

    Dear reader, is this an hour of distress with you? then ask for peculiar help. Jesus is the angel of the covenant, and if his presence be now earnestly sought, it will not be denied. What that presence brings in heart-cheer those remember who, like Paul, have had the angel of God standing by them in a night of storm, when anchors would no longer hold, and rocks were nigh.

    “O angel of my God, be near,
    Amid the darkness hush my fear;
    Loud roars the wild tempestuous sea,
    Thy presence, Lord, shall comfort me.”
     
  3. beensetfree

    beensetfree Alfrescian (InfP) Old Timer

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    In His Mother’s Footsteps


    It was a busy day in our Costa Mesa, California, home. But then, with ten children and one on the way, every day was a bit hectic. On this particular day, however, I was having trouble doing even routine chores-all because of one little boy.

    Len, who was three at the time, was on my heels no matter where I went. Whenever I stopped to do something and turned back around, I would trip over him. Several times I patiently suggested fun activities to keep him occupied.

    “Wouldn’t you like to play on the swing set?” I asked again. But he simply smiled an innocent smile and said, “Oh, that’s all right, Mommy. I’d rather be in here with you.” Then he continued to bounce happily along behind me.

    After stepping on his toes for the fifth time, I began to lose my patience and insisted that he go outside and play with the other children. When I asked him why he was acting this way, he looked up at me with sweet green eyes and said, “Well, Mommy, in Primary my teacher told me to walk in Jesus’ footsteps. But I can’t see him, so I I’m walking in yours.”

    I gathered Len in my arms and held him close. Tears of love and humility spilled over from the prayer that grew in my heart, a prayer of thanks for the simple yet beautiful perspective of a three-year-old boy. This experience has served as a reminder to me of the vital role of a mother. While it is sobering to realize that I am a crucial link between my children and the Savior, I need to remember that since a mother is a copartner with God, I am in a position to receive guidance from one who truly cares and wants all of us to walk in Heavenly footsteps.
     
  4. beensetfree

    beensetfree Alfrescian (InfP) Old Timer

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    “Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him.”

    Isaiah 3:10

    It is well with the righteous always . If it had said, “Say ye to the righteous, that it is well with him in his prosperity,” we must have been thankful for so great a boon, for prosperity is an hour of peril, and it is a gift from heaven to be secured from its snares: or if it had been written, “It is well with him when under persecution,” we must have been thankful for so sustaining an assurance, for persecution is hard to bear; but when no time is mentioned, all time is included. God's “shalls” must be understood always in their largest sense. From the beginning of the year to the end of the year, from the first gathering of evening shadows until the day-star shines, in all conditions and under all circumstances, it shall be well with the righteous.

    It is so well with him that we could not imagine it to be better, for he is well fed, he feeds upon the flesh and blood of Jesus; he is well clothed, he wears the imputed righteousness of Christ; he is well housed, he dwells in God; he is well married, his soul is knit in bonds of marriage union to Christ; he is well provided for, for the Lord is his Shepherd; he is well endowed, for heaven is his inheritance. It is well with the righteous — well upon divine authority; the mouth of God speaks the comforting assurance.

    O beloved, if God declares that all is well, ten thousand devils may declare it to be ill, but we laugh them all to scorn. Blessed be God for a faith which enables us to believe God when the creatures contradict him. It is, says the Word, at all times well with thee, thou righteous one; then, beloved, if thou canst not see it, let God's word stand thee in stead of sight; yea, believe it on divine authority more confidently than if thine eyes and thy feelings told it to thee. Whom God blesses is blest indeed, and what his lip declares is truth most sure and steadfast.
     
  5. beensetfree

    beensetfree Alfrescian (InfP) Old Timer

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    “Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord.”

    Isaiah 2:3

    It is exceedingly beneficial to our souls to mount above this present evil world to something nobler and better. The cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches are apt to choke everything good within us, and we grow fretful, desponding, perhaps proud and carnal. It is well for us to cut down these thorns and briers, for heavenly seed sown among them is not likely to yield a harvest; and where shall we find a better sickle with which to cut them down than communion with God and the things of the kingdom?

    In the valleys of Switzerland many of the inhabitants are deformed, and all wear a sickly appearance, for the atmosphere is charged with miasma, and is close and stagnant; but up yonder, on the mountain, you find a hardy race, who breathe the clear fresh air as it blows from the virgin snows of the Alpine summits. It would be well if the dwellers in the valley could frequently leave their abodes among the marshes and the fever mists, and inhale the bracing element upon the hills. It is to such an exploit of climbing that I invite you this evening.

    May the Spirit of God assist us to leave the mists of fear and the fevers of anxiety, and all the ills which gather in this valley of earth, and to ascend the mountains of anticipated joy and blessedness. May God the Holy Spirit cut the cords that keep us here below, and assist us to mount! We sit too often like chained eagles fastened to the rock, only that, unlike the eagle, we begin to love our chain, and would, perhaps, if it came really to the test, be loath to have it snapped. May God now grant us grace, if we cannot escape from the chain as to our flesh, yet to do so as to our spirits; and leaving the body, like a servant, at the foot of the hill, may our soul, like Abraham, attain the top of the mountain, there to indulge in communion with the Most High.
     
  6. beensetfree

    beensetfree Alfrescian (InfP) Old Timer

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    I’ve always loved the story of Jesus appearing to Thomas.

    Maybe it’s because of the skeptic in me. Growing up in the megachurch movement, I watched thousands of people around me every Sunday, swallowing a self-help gospel hook, line, and sinker. It wasn’t the Joel Osteen style, “you were born to win” sort of self-help gospel. I think that’s what it was so easy to digest to the usual churchy, Christian crowd.

    (By the way, despite what the megachurch movement would like you to believe, they are jam packed with the usual church, Christian crowd, not by scores and hoards of newly attracted disciples.)

    This kind of self-help gospel was a different style. It’s therapeutic quality was shrouded by claims of absolute morality, inerrancy of Holy Scripture, and the utter simplicity of the Christian life. It was out of this movement that a lot of the common quasi-spiritual cliches were born, catchphrases of self-reliance or pithy abdication, baptized with Christian culture god-language.

    “God never gives us more than we can handle.”

    “If he brings you to it, he will bring you through it.”

    “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.”

    “God has a plan for your life.”

    “Everything happens for a reason.”

    “God is in control.”

    “You can’t put God in a box.”

    I have a visceral reaction to this sort of thing. Always have. These are the kinds of things we say to convince ourselves. Diluting a historic Christian faith into bumper sticker form with nonsense sayings can really only serve to momentarily soothe our anxieties. But this world is stark, ugly, tragic. The beauty of creation remains, but the pangs and pains of sin and brokenness are all around us. If we don’t realize this, if being a Christian and following a crucified and risen Christ seems like the easiest thing in the world, our faith is vain, anthropocentric, and utterly meaningless.
    To persist in the path of K-LOVE Christianity is a farce to me. I can’t do it.


    So, please forgive me for what I’m about to say. I can so easily see myself in Thomas. I don’t see him as stubbornly harboring unbelief, I see him as being in profound faith. To doubt the stories of the other witnesses, no matter how convincing, well, it’s normal. To question your faith, to struggle with its complexities, to grapple with paradox, that is the stuff of following Jesus.

    So don’t malign your inner Thomas. Don’t explain him away as sin. Embrace him.

    Jesus can handle your questions, he can handle your doubts.

    God is not an abuser with dignity so frail and insecurity so strong that would make God snap at the very idea of being questioned.

    Let’s face it: the Christian story is foolishness to our human minds. It is ludicrous. That we would believe in a Savior crucified and risen is nothing short of absurd.

    But yet we believe. In faith, we believe the day will come when we shall see Christ as he is, with wounded hands and broken side, and we shall bow and proclaim as Thomas did, “My Lord, and my God.”

    Until then, let us continue to proclaim our faith in Jesus crucified and risen.

    No more we doubt thee,
    Glorious Prince of life!
    Life is naught without thee;
    Aid us in our strife.












     
  7. beensetfree

    beensetfree Alfrescian (InfP) Old Timer

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    A lady recently asked her co-worker what it was like to be a Christian?

    The lady replied, “It’s like being a pumpkin: God picks you from the patch, brings you in, and washes all the dirt off you may have gotten from the other pumpkins. Then he cuts the top off and scoops out all the yucky stuff. He removes the seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc., then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world to see.”

    This message was passed on to me from another pumpkin that was picked from the patch. Share this with others including those who may still be in the pumpkin patch.
     
  8. beensetfree

    beensetfree Alfrescian (InfP) Old Timer

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    In recent decades, a plethora of evangelical ministries has emerged designed to “engage the culture”. A Google search for “engage the culture” returns more than half a million results. Moreover, a huge number of operations designed to inculcate a Christian worldview and provide apologetics training are booming. In short, the evangelical effort to reverse America’s slide toward secularism and decadence has been vigorous and pervasive.

    It has also been, largely, a failure. The evidence is plain. In spite of the resources poured into these efforts, American culture has increasingly embraced the cultural and sexual Left. Any impact of evangelical efforts to reverse this trend has been vanishingly small. How can millions upon millions of evangelicals have so little effect on the culture around them?

    The answer is that evangelicals have failed to reckon with the fact that Christian belief is a mark of low status, and has been so for a long time. This has been the case at least since the Scopes trial and the unflattering media portrayals of traditional Christian believers that accompanied it.

    In the middle of the 20th century, it was more difficult to see Christian belief as a marker of low status. After all, during that period America was still dominated by a form of Christianity as its civil religion. Some religious figures were widely admired, Billy Graham being the most obvious example. Millions of people still attended church.

    But, even then, in elite circles, Christian belief was a mark of low status. In such places, traditional Christian belief was largely considered the province of the weak, the bourgeois, the misinformed, the gullible or the wicked. At the same time, Protestant liberalism dominated. This less stringent form of Christianity sought to relax the tension by accommodating traditional Christian belief to the worldview of America’s secular elite. Eventually, that project failed.

    We have now arrived at a moment when this dynamic can no longer be hidden. The hostility of our elite institutions and those who run them is well documented. Just consider Harvard University’s recent treatment of a traditional Christian group.

    Only now, as the reality of Christian belief as a marker of low status has become undeniable, have evangelicals begun to take note. The failure to do this earlier explains the previous ineffectiveness to “engage the culture” profitably.

    The idea behind the “engaging the culture” movement was that, rather than withdrawing from the surrounding culture as their fundamentalist cousins did, evangelicals should go forth to meet it. The expected outcome of this going forth was a revival of Christian faith.

    It sort of makes sense. If enough evangelicals,the idea was, could be trained to engage the surrounding culture, especially in the culture-making arenas of politics,education and the media, eventually these well-placed agents of change could turn things around.


    What this plan never took into account is the dynamics of social status. Evangelicals sought to engage the culture by being relevant, by creating works of art , by offering good arguments for their positions. None of these addressed the real problem: that Christian belief simply isn’t cool, and that very few people want to lower their social status by identifying publicly with it.

    Many evangelicals sensed something was going on. They responded as though the problem were a matter of style rather than content. They created churches calculated to prove evangelicals could be as hip as anyone else. The result was churches that had rocking worship bands, superb lighting, a million cool programs and no cultural impact.

    The only lasting success to come from this trend was to make the hip pastor in a goatee and skinny jeans a universal object of derision. When the elites see him, they aren’t impressed. Rather than seeing someone so cool they want to emulate him, they see desperation. They see a low-status guy craving their approval, and they are rightly repulsed.

    This is just one example of how evangelicals misjudged the context in which they operate. They could not see that Christianity has fallen from its place of cultural dominance not because we haven’t had enough worldview seminars, cool clergy or “God’s Not Dead”-style movies. Christianity has become marginalized because Christian belief has become an obstacle to getting what most people want: social status and the privileges which accompany it.

    Rod Dreher was one of the first to recognize this. Whatever the strengths and weaknesses of his “Benedict Option” solution, it is an attempt to grapple with the reality of our situation. In the end, few will heed his advice. The worst, and most probable, response evangelicals could offer here is to continue doing what they have been doing: offering solutions to problems most people don’t have.

    The right path forward is murky. But, whatever that path requires, it requires the truth. To continue acting as though the approach of the last two or three decades is productive is to avoid the truth. Let traditional Christians, of all people, embrace the truth. And perhaps, in doing so, we will set an example that might finally make an impact on this culture.
     

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