Category Archives: Saving the Culture

We Need a New King

King of Kings

There were great differences in the culture of the Greco-Roman world from the Jewish culture that the Apostles lived in. They faced a great challenge evangelizing a culture with a vastly different cosmology. The primary state-sponsored religion of the empire was emperor worship. Most people adhered just to get along. Emperor worship evolved as a natural progression of the pantheon mixed with the humanistic cosmology of the Greek philosophers. The “gods” of the Greco-Roman pantheon were worshiped primarily by middle/ lower class agrarian people. The “gods” of the pantheon were nothing more than glorified humans with very human characteristics, including their sin nature. Greed, envy, lust, jealousy, etc. were common to the pantheon. The pantheon gods were worshipped for their power. Thus, it would be natural to look upon the emperor as a god. The humanistic/ atheist philosophies of the Epicureans and the Stoics were adhered to primarily by the educated and academic classes. These upper class folks would have been the type that Paul witnessed to at the Areopagus.

It is important to understand that most Romans were not very satisfied with their cosmology. The emperor could be a cruel tyrant. He was noted for authoritarian control, the taking of property and oppressive taxation. The gods of the pantheon had not served the masses well in defending them.

It is amazing to consider how God prepared the 1st century Roman world for the spread of His gospel. Most scholars credit the Pax Romana, the peace of the empire, which enabled the evangelists to move about the empire freely. But there were other important contributing factors. The existence of the Jewish diaspora was crucial in making people familiar with the one God of the Jews. The neighborliness of most Jews and the unique nature of their God appealed to many disillusioned Romans. The God of the Jews was unique in that He was not only powerful, but He was “holy”, that is completely different than humans and without the sin nature of the gods of the pantheon. But, perhaps most importantly, the one desire for true freedom that God places in every human heart was what motivated Romans to receive the gospel message with gladness. True freedom from outside oppression and inner bondage can only be found in Christ. The Romans were ready to hear about a new King that offered eternal freedom. The message for which the Apostles were martyred was that there was a new King. They were not martyred for telling people how to get to heaven. The emperor could not have cared about that. But, another King was a threat.

Our society today has many parallels to ancient Roman. People have been promised security by an over arching and controlling government. They have neither security nor freedom and they are disappointed with the god of the state. They need to hear the message that there is a King that offers true and everlasting freedom.

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Govern Diligently

Moses

Romans 12:8 continues, “If it is leadership, let him govern diligently.” The American Heritage Dictionary defines diligently thus: “Marked by persevering, painstaking effort.” Many “ministers” in the church today labor diligently. They practice a style of servant leadership that Jesus modeled. But, servant leadership is not the sum of the leadership that Jesus taught and practiced. It is clear that Jesus established the direction and method of His ministry and when His disciples attempted to change the course He rebuked them sternly. Unfortunately, few pastors really govern their churches. This scripture clearly ties leadership to the business of governing. It is part of the pastoral ministry not just to feed, but to lead. Most Christians see their pastor as the leader of the local church, but unfortunately in many cases, pastors do not govern the church. That responsibility has been given to a “governing board” that makes decisions for the church. The pastor serves “at the pleasure of the board” like a sort of “hired hand.”

 

I believe this to be an unbiblical model of church government that developed as an outgrowth of the Protestant Reformation and as a reaction to the misuse of ecclesiastical authority that occurred in the Roman Catholic Church. The abuses were a result of the church’s failure to recognize the authority of scripture, not a result of the structure of church government. Unfortunately, like we are so prone to do, the reformers “threw out the baby with the bath water.” Could you imagine Moses serving at the pleasure of two million men? In those cases where Moses’ authority was questioned or challenged, God’s judgment was swift and sure. The rebellion led by Korah, detailed in Numbers chapter 16, resulted in him and his followers being swallowed up by the earth. In American Christianity, it is not uncommon for pastors to be fired by a board or told what and what not to preach about or what ministries can receive financial support.

 

I have had the unfortunate experience of attending one church where the senior pastor, who had served in that church for twenty-one years, was forbidden by a church board from starting a contemporary worship service. This man had been impressed by the Holy Spirit to reach more people for Christ and was hampered by church government.

 

The Presbyterian or congregational form of church government is especially appealing to the democratic and independent American spirit. But this spirit will not be tolerated in Christ’s kingdom and it should not be allowed to influence how we govern local churches in this age. We are not independent; we are part of a body. A body does not function by having the parts vote about what it should be doing. The spiritual leader of the body is the head and decides where the body goes. Pastors, as Christ’s ordained representatives, should be the spiritual leaders in the local church.

 

Pastors of local churches should also be in submission to those who are performing the functions of the apostolic office. That is, those responsible for overseeing entire movements or denominations. While there are no new Apostles in the church, there are those that perform some of the duties of an apostle. They would be in authority over pastors, teachers, evangelists and prophets within their movement and would have demonstrated faithfulness and fruitfulness in all of the other areas of ministry. There is nothing in scripture to indicate that the local church should be completely autonomous. In fact, in Acts chapter 15 we read of an example where local disputes were settled by a council with higher authority, which was led by one particular individual. The Roman Catholic structure of authority is not necessarily unbiblical, nor was it necessarily responsible for the abuses of power by those in authority. Those abuses may have been avoided had the church accepted the final authority of scripture in matters of faith and practice.

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Real Hope

Real Hope

Welfare and income redistribution don’t provide any lasting hope. Real hope springs from faith in Christ. The virtues of good character provide a reason to hope.
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Thy Kingdom Come

Kingdom of God

Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” (Mat 6:10)

The idea of God’s kingdom on earth is a classical Christian belief. Christians affirm this belief in the Apostles Creed: He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead”. In modern western Christian thinking the concept of salvation is usually confined to the spiritual realm. We usually think of salvation in terms of a personal relationship with Christ by faith. We rarely discuss the idea of a progressive fulfillment of the concept to the physical earthly realm. We tend to think of heaven as the goal. But, biblically speaking, salvation is the restoration of the entire creation. That restoration starts with the individual spirit, but it will progress to the entire physical creation. Biblical salvation ends with the physical realm; the restoration of Eden.

Restoration is not accomplished in a single moment.  Quoting George Ladd, “The Kingdom of God belongs to the age to come. Yet the age to come has overlapped with this present age. We may taste its powers [Lazarus] and thereby be delivered from this age and no longer live in conformity to it.” The focus of the modern western Church has changed. The common message is usually about how to escape hell and get to heaven. It shows up in how we evangelize.  We ask questions such as, “Are you going to heaven?” or  we invite people to come to Jesus and get healing, peace, prosperity or some other personal benefit. You don’t very often hear an evangelist say, “Come to Jesus and die to yourself.”  Most Christians are not expecting His imminent return and the establishment of an earthly Kingdom.

The hope of the early church was, For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that having denied ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live discreetly, righteously and godly, in this present world, looking for the blessed hope, and the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,….” (Tit 2:11-13) Jesus will rule on earth with His church. (Rev. 20:4-5; Zech 14:16) God created the earth for a dwelling place with man. His plans are not frustrated; He is not a loser; He doesn’t have a plan B.

 God’s church will not be raptured away from this world in defeat.  God saves the best for last. The wedding in Cana was a type of the wedding of the bride to come. Just when we think that the wine is all gone, Jesus will perform His great miracle. He is the Creator and He is always doing something better. (Hag. 2:6-9)

 But God’s people perish for lack of or a wrong vision. Our focus should be preparing for the Kingdom. Jesus will return when the gospel of the Kingdom is preached to the whole earth. (Mt. 24:14) Heaven will hold Him until He has made His enemies His footstool. (He. 10:12-13) Our part is to hasten the day of His coming. (2Peter 3:12)

How do we prepare the way? Do what Jesus told us to do. Make disciples, not converts, teaching them to obey the things that Jesus taught. (Mt. 28:19-20) Preach that the Kingdom is at hand and serve.  (Mt. 10:7-8) That requires being a preserving influence, being salt and light. We must be involved. It is disheartening to see so many Christians not involved in the battle. We are in a struggle for the culture and too many are silent. God has granted us a gift of having a voice in our civil government, but too many believe it is unspiritual to be involved in the fight. The kind of government we have will influence the kind of soil that we sow our seed in. The scriptures teach that God has prepared good works for you in advance. We are to expose darkness by turning on the light.

We must walk in true holiness, not phony legalism, loving God with all of our heart and loving our neighbor as our self. The task is attainable in this life by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Gal 5:16)

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Godly Zeal

Never be lacking in zeal; but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11, NIV)There are some questions that this appeal should stimulate us to ask. What does God mean by zeal and spiritual fervor? What kind of behavior characterizes this zeal? Would the appropriate expressions vary depending upon culture? In Romans 10:2, Paul writes that the Jews are “zealous for God.” Their zeal was commendable in that God was its object, but it was flawed because it was not based on a right knowledge about God’s way of salvation, as Paul proceeded to point out. Paul was referring to their zealousness in strictly observing the law. The Jews failure was that they pursued righteousness by works instead of faith. They were blinded by spiritual pride, thinking that they could attain right standing with God by their own effort and in doing so they stumbled over the stone, which is Jesus and His sacrifice. The modern Jew is much better off. Because of his inability to offer an appropriate sacrifice, he must rely upon God’s mercy. Yet modern Judaism still rejects the proper atonement for sin. True zeal for God is a product of repentance and godly sorrow and never results from pride, self righteousness or observing the law.

Jesus displayed zeal driving the merchants from the temple courts. This is the kind of zeal that the scripture encourages us to and yet how many modern Christians display this sort of zeal? When Christians disobey man’s laws in order to save children from being sacrificed in abortion mills, they are criticized even by the church. But, Christ and the Apostles disobeyed man’s laws in order to obey God on several occasions. There are Christians who are willing to pay severe consequences for obeying God and leaders in the church condemn them for it.

There are numerous examples in scripture of the zeal that characterized the Old Testament saints. Phinehas, the priest, was rewarded by God with a covenant of a lasting priesthood because of his zeal for the Lord. He led the Levites in executing the Israelites who were involved in sexual immorality and Baal worship with Moabite women. It is noteworthy that Phinehas also was allowed into the Promised Land with Joshua and Caleb after the previous generation died in the wilderness because of their unbelief. He later became the custodian of the Ark at Bethel. Both Zadok and Ezra, descendants of Phinehas, were known for their zeal in leading the people in renewal. The Psalmist tells us that Phinehas’ faith was “credited to him as righteousness.” Thus he was identified with Abraham as an inheritor of God’s covenant promises. His zealous deeds are attributed to his faith. His actions were not motivated by a self-righteous determination to enforce human ordinances. They were a product of his faith in God’s purpose to raise up a nation of people that would represent Him before all of the world.

Jehu was another who was commended by the Lord for his zeal. He was responsible for killing Jezebel and Ahab’s sons in accordance with the prophetic word of the Lord spoken through Elijah. He was not timid about proclaiming his “zeal for the Lord” before killing the ministers of Baal. The Lord commended Jehu for his zeal: “Because you have done well in accomplishing what is right in my eyes and have done to the house of Ahab all I had in mind to do, your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation” (2Kings 10:30, NIV)

Romans 12:11 admonishes us that our zeal should be an expression of service to the Lord. Our fervor should not be expressed in a carnal manner. Any zealous behavior for our own cause would be sin. We must be zealous for God’s cause, not our own. Our zeal should accomplish God’s clearly expressed will as defined in scripture. It is God’s will “to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” We also know that it is God’s will for “everyone to come to repentance.” We need to make sure that our behavior glorifies God and remains in accord with all of His precepts, taking the entire revelation of scripture into account. In doing so we must be mindful that the greater and newer revelation of the New Covenant interprets the Old Covenant. As such, we no longer have permission from God to kill the prophets of Baal with the sword. But, while we are not free to duplicate the specific actions of Old Covenant zealots such a Phinehas and Jehu, we are exhorted to emulate their passion for God’s cause in ways that are consistent with the New Covenant.

What are appropriate expressions of zeal under the New Covenant? Working for the cause of justice is an appropriate expression of zeal for God. The movement to abolish slavery in the U.S. grew out of the heightened moral consciousness that occurred during the revivals of the Second Great Awakening. Charles Finney hated slavery with a passion and insisted that it was impossible to be on the right side of God and still endorse slavery. When he accepted the position of president at Oberlin College, he did so on the condition that the school be thoroughly integrated. The efforts of Christians to correct the injustice of slavery even led some to civil disobedience. Perhaps the best example of compassion and godly zeal in this effort is the underground railway that delivered slaves to freedom. Perhaps the best example of ungodly zeal is the efforts of John Browne which led to taking of human life without civil authority.

Undoubtedly, the most analogous social evil that we face today is the sin of abortion. I do not intend to argue the point that it is a sin. The word of God is clear to those who would have their eyes opened to it. Much of the work done to right this injustice displays godly zeal. The crisis pregnancy and adoption services that have developed are a clear example of Christian love in action. Unfortunately, most of the political lobbying efforts that have taken place have produced little if any fruit. Christians have spent millions of dollars and hours in massive efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade and we are no closer than we were in 1973 when it was ruled upon. One of the most zealous and fruitful activities that believers have undertaken has been castigated by numerous outspoken leaders in the church as a bad witness and worse, as sinful behavior. I speak of the efforts of Operation Rescue.

The stated purpose of rescues was to save children from death by abortion. They were never intended to be political protests, nor were they intended to forcibly stop anyone from committing a victimless sin. Had that been the case, as their detractors suggested, civil disobedience would not have been an appropriate Christian activity. Rescues were most often criticized by church leaders on the grounds that they violated biblical admonitions to obey civil authorities. But, biblical rationale for civil disobedience has been established by numerous well respected theologians. Jesus broke the civil law. Indeed, Peter said “We must obey God rather than men.” It is God’s commandment to love our neighbor that rescues attempt to obey. It is the same law that moved Corrie Ten Boom to disobey civil authorities when she risked her life to protect Jews from Nazi cruelty. God’s law requires action in loving our neighbor. “Faith without works is dead.” God’s word commands us to love in deed and not to close our heart to a brother in need.  God’s chosen fast requires setting the captives free. When civilian authorities tell us not to rescue our neighbor being sent to the slaughter, they command us not to love, to disobey God.

The only way that one could refute the biblical support for civil disobedience in this case is to close one’s mind to the reality that abortion results in a dead child. Rescues were fruitful. I bare testimony to that fact. I have seen children who are alive because someone blocked a door, granting the mother enough time to think about what she was doing and for God to change her heart. I have labored as a sidewalk counselor at rescues. Unfortunately the Rescue movement died for lack of support. Perhaps as a result, we now have a new breed of frustrated John Browne’s going around killing abortionists and attempting to justify their actions by pointing to God’s laws. Again, this is not godly zeal.

Picketing and public protesting are legitimate expressions of zeal when they are intended to correct injustice, as defined by God. The church has a responsibility to represent God to the world. We are commissioned as ambassadors of reconciliation. If all we do is love and serve, we fail to completely represent our King. It is our task to be a prophetic witness, to reveal sin which separates men from God. We are called to “expose deeds of darkness,” and to be a “light on a hill…the salt of the earth.” Speaking out against injustice is part of fulfilling this command.

Radical obedience and bravery in the face of great danger are marks of zeal for God that have characterized the heroes of our faith. Stephen bravely proclaiming the gospel in the face of death and Paul obediently going to Caesar are only two examples from scripture. Church history is full of accounts of martyrs who died for their obedience to Christ. For their zeal and self sacrifice valiant members of Operation Rescue suffered beatings and imprisonment at the hands of the state and scorn from the secular media. If that were not enough, they also had to endure criticism and rejection from the church. In truth, the zeal, faith and commitment which they displayed was a great testimony to God’s love and power. The days of Christian martyrs have not stopped.

Tireless and extraordinary work for the cause of the gospel is another expression of zeal for God. Certainly the Apostle Paul stands out as an example of such zeal. He was responsible for reaching most of the Roman world within fifteen years. He did this facing incredible resistance including imprisonment and numerous beatings and ultimately martyrdom. John Wesley displayed great zeal for the Lord in preaching the gospel. He traveled more than 200,000 miles, mostly on horseback, and preached over 50,000 sermons. Billy Graham has preached the gospel around the world for sixty-five years and according to Eerdmans’ Handbook To The History Of Christianity he “is undoubtedly the most successful Christian mass evangelist in history” with converts numbering millions. Mother Teresa of Calcutta is certainly another outstanding example of zealous service to others and to God.

In order to be zealous for God, we need the correct world view. Zeal flows from having a proper perspective. Having our hopes centered upon Christ and His kingdom will cause us to be “eager to do what is good.” Observance of God’s chosen fast as given to us in Isaiah 58 will guide us in our efforts to be zealous for God:

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter– When you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn, away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.”(Isaiah 58:6-8, NIV)

Christians must be zealous in discharging the commission given to us by our Lord. Christ’s exhortation to the lukewarm Laodiceans was to “be earnest (Greek: Zelos) and repent.” Lost humanity will not believe our testimony unless it is accompanied by great zeal.

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Answers to the Most Common Objections to Privatizing Public Education

As I am working to restore the republic by dismantling public education I find many parents and teachers that are furious with our public education system. Most want to simply reform the system. I would caution them that the likelihood of success at reforming the system is small. Reformers have been working at it for half a century without much success. I would liken it to reforming federal spending. It’s too big. We’ve passed the tipping point. There are too many powerful entrenched interests opposing them including big government progressives, big union bosses and giant corporate moguls. They have billions of dollars to spend. I want people to consider a radical solution that could be achieved outside the normal political processes. It involves your choice in the limited time that may be available. I want to address the most common objections I hear to privatization.

“It would be impossible to accomplish.” True, through normal political/ legislative processes. Maybe not as impossible as overturning Common Core! The entire funding system is based upon daily attendance. A sizeable boycott (25%+) would bankrupt many school districts, thus forcing legislative relief which would trigger the debate. A large scale boycott would make enforcement of truancy laws impossible. Social media can be exploited to enable a boycott to go viral. Parents would not have to make immediate alternative plans. You could say that you were home schooling, do it in the evening or work with other parents. A viral boycott could shut the system down within a few months. There would be a transition phase where private alternatives would arise. There would be thousands of teachers seeking employment. There would be empty real estate available for lease at bargain prices.

I hear this objection: “Most people do not or cannot home school and cannot afford private school. What would happen to poor and inner city children?” Federal and state income and sales taxes could be reduced by eliminating education spending. Education spending is the largest budget item in most states. Total taxpayer investment in K-12 education in the United States for the 2004-05 school year is estimated to be $536 billion. Most property taxes could be cut by 60 – 75%. See: http://febp.newamerica.net/background-analysis/school-finance

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

“Federal K-12 education spending—including spending in the Department of Education and other departments—has increased rapidly. Spending jumped from $12.5 billion in 1965 to $72.8 billion in 2008—a more than five-fold increase.”

See more at: http://www.downsizinggovernment.org/education/k-12-education-subsidies#sthash.OJihhsTC.dpuf

As property taxes are reduced, housing expense will be reduced. Even landlords are subject to competition. This would help pay for private education or make it possible for one parent to stay home to home school. The cost/ pupil in private education is less than a public education now. As competition and choice increased, private education costs would likely decline. Private schools and charities could offer scholarships for poor children who are committed to learning. Typically, especially in inner city schools, a number of students disrupt the learning environment because they have no interest in being educated and parents are either absent or disinterested. Too many kids aspire to a life of crime or dependency. Teachers and schools spend a disproportionate amount of time and money attempting to control/ educate these students to the detriment of other students. The success rate with these students is low. Many aspire to a life of crime and that is where many end up anyway. After all of the time and expense a large proportion of these end up incarcerated or on public assistance. In a private school, disruptive students and uncooperative parents would be expelled. We really don’t have much to lose by letting many of these kids go. Perhaps some will wise up through the school of hard knocks.

I hear teachers say that they would suffer pay reductions and many good quality teachers would quit. Teacher pay reductions would probably be temporary. As the number of private schools expanded dramatically, demand for quality teachers would increase proportionally. In a private environment teacher pay would be based more on performance than seniority. Privatization would eliminate much of the dead wood in the teacher corps. Teacher performance would be evaluated more by the teacher’s direct supervisor rather than some nameless bureaucrat and it would not be based upon some bogus standardized test. With reduced class sizes and fewer disruptive students, teachers would be able to focus on teaching. The job experience would be much more enjoyable. With privatization, there would be much more diversity in styles of teaching and curriculum as different schools sought to carve out their own niche. Teachers would have more of a say in developing curriculum and teaching methods. Teaching would be a more rewarding career in more ways than just money. Too many teachers today are burned out because of the system they are forced to work under. 10 years x $100,000. = $1,000,000. 25 years x $75,000. = $1,875,000.

Learn more: https://www.facebook.com/groups/536415279763727/

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