Archive for March, 2009

There are some flaws in the Christian worldview that impact how a huge segment of “born again” Christians perceive reality. This adversely impacts their behavior and their sense of purpose.

For example, many invite Christ to come into their lives because they don’t want to think anymore. They want pat answers for everything and a life free from conflict—free from the negative consequences resulting from poor decisions. They want God to be a constant blessing machine. They want Him to indulge them with creature comforts as a sign that He loves them—as a sign that they are OK. Materialism and the acquisition of “things” becomes a sign they are living the life God meant them to live. Churches validate this mindset routinely by making successful businessmen elders and deacons to the exclusion of all others. After all, above all else, God wants His people to enjoy creature comforts—lots of them. Millions believe this nonsense and are offended when their assumptions are challenged.

Christians like these give lip service to loving and caring for others, when—in reality—their existence and purpose for life is all about themselves. In their superficiality, they believe they are profound, as they blissfully go about their lives doing what benefits them. Another alternative never crosses their mind or, if it does, it’s just a fleeting thought—like how you might feel after watching an uplifting movie. It touches you for a short while, but that’s it.

Christians, who embrace this worldview, eagerly wait to be “Raptured,” taking virtually no responsibility for the state of the world or for the depraved condition of mankind—spiritually or materially. They say they love others, but their actions rarely benefit anyone but themselves. This was not the way the Lord intended them to perceive reality, and it renders them useless for the work to which they have been called.

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Witnessing That Works

EDITORS NOTE: The following came to me as an email. Normally, I wouldn’t post something like this but, since I’ve maintained vigorously that who you are witnesses for or against Christ everyday, it’s as good of an example as I’ve seen.


TWO YEARS AFTER THE TRAGEDIES OF 9/11/2001, by Robert Matthews.

A few weeks before Sept. 11th, my wife and I discovered out we were going to
have our first child. She planned a trip out to California to visit her
sister. On our way to the airport, we prayed that God would grant my wife
a safe trip and be with her. Shortly after I said “Amen,” we both heard a
loud pop and the car shook violently. We had blown out a tire. I replaced
the tire as quickly as I could, but we still missed her flight. Both very
upset, we drove home.

I received a call from my father, who was retired from the NYFD. He asked what my wife’s flight number was, but I explained that we missed the flight. My
father informed me that her flight was the one that crashed into the
southern tower. I was too shocked to speak. My father also had more news for
me; he was going to help. “This is not something I can’t just sit by for; I
have to do something.”

I was concerned for his safety, of course, but more because he had never
given his life to Christ. After a brief debate, I knew his mind was made up.
Before he got off of the phone, he said, “take good care of my Grandchild.”

Those were the last words I ever heard my father say; he died while helping
in the rescue effort.

My joy that my prayer of safety for my wife had been answered quickly
became anger. I was angry at God, at my father, and at myself. I had gone
for nearly two years blaming God for taking my father away. My son would
never know his grandfather; my father had never accepted Christ; and I never
was able to say good-bye.

Then something happened.

About two months ago, I was sitting at home with my wife and my son, when
there was a knock on the door. I looked at my wife, but I could tell she
wasn’t expecting anyone. I opened the door to see a couple with a small child.
The man looked at me and asked if my father’s name was Jake Matthews. I told
him it was.

He quickly grabbed my hand and said, “I never got the chance to meet your
father, but it is an honor to meet his son.” He explained to me that his
wife had worked in the World Trade Center and had been caught inside after
the attack. She was pregnant and had been caught under debris.

He then explained that my father had been the one to find his wife and
free her. My eyes welled up with tears as I thought of my father giving his
life for people like this. He then said, “There is something else you need
to know.”

His wife then told me that as my father worked to free her, she talked to
him and led him to Christ.

I began sobbing at the news. Now I know that when I get to Heaven, my
father will be standing beside Jesus to welcome me, and that this family
would be able to thank him themselves. When their baby boy was born, they
named him Jacob Matthew, in honor of the man who gave his life so that a
mother and baby could live.

This story should help us to realize this: God is always in control. We
may not see the reason behind things, and we may never know this side of
heaven, but God is always in control.

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His love endures Forever. Psalm

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Have you been abused? If so, how badly has it been? The following questions will help you to see for yourself. If you answer affirmatively to any of them, then you have. If you answer yes to three or more question—or to any part of question six—then your need for recovery is extensive. 91 Days to Recovery from Religious Abuse can help you a great deal.

1. I have stopped going to church because I have been offended by someone in the ministry.

Strongly Agree …Agree …Neither …Disagree …Strongly Disagree

2. I still go to church, but I simply go through the motions. ________________________________________________
Strongly Agree …Agree …Neither …Disagree …Strongly Disagree

3. I believe God is displeased with me for leaving the church. ________________________________________________
Strongly Agree …Agree …Neither …Disagree …Strongly Disagree

4. I believe most Christians are hypocrites. ________________________________________________
Strongly Agree …Agree …Neither …Disagree …Strongly Disagree

5. Yes, a church leader has offended me personally. ________________________________________________
Strongly Agree …Agree …Neither …Disagree …Strongly Disagree

6. I feel unworthy to pray. ________________________________________________
Strongly Agree …Agree …Neither …Disagree …Strongly Disagree

7. I have been verbally abused by a leader in the ministry. ________________________________________________
Strongly Agree …Agree …Neither …Disagree …Strongly Disagree

8. I have been sexually abused by someone in the ministry. ________________________________________________
Strongly Agree …Agree …Neither …Disagree …Strongly Disagree

9. I have been financially abused by someone in the ministry. ________________________________________________
Strongly Agree …Agree …Neither …Disagree …Strongly Disagree

10. I have been emotionally abused by a religious experience. ________________________________________________
Strongly Agree …Agree …Neither …Disagree …Strongly Disagree

11. I feel a sense of shame being around religious people. ________________________________________________
Strongly Agree …Agree …Neither …Disagree …Strongly Disagree

12. I feel used by my religious experience. ________________________________________________
Strongly Agree …Agree …Neither …Disagree …Strongly Disagree

13. I believe religious people are condemn me. ________________________________________________
Strongly Agree …Agree …Neither …Disagree …Strongly Disagree

14. I am angry with God. ________________________________________________
Strongly Agree …Agree …Neither …Disagree …Strongly Disagree

15. I feel unworthy to reach out to God. ________________________________________________
Strongly Agree …Agree …Neither …Disagree …Strongly Disagree

16. There is more to life than I’m experiencing. ________________________________________________
Strongly Agree …Agree …Neither …Disagree …Strongly Disagree

17. I would you like to feel closer to God but it’s not possible. ________________________________________________
Strongly Agree …Agree …Neither …Disagree …Strongly Disagree

18. Life has no meaning. ________________________________________________
Strongly Agree …Agree …Neither …Disagree …Strongly Disagree

19. Sometimes I wonder if I have a drinking problem. ________________________________________________
Strongly Agree …Agree …Neither …Disagree …Strongly Disagree

20. Sometimes I wonder if I abuse prescription drugs. ________________________________________________
Strongly Agree …Agree …Neither …Disagree …Strongly Disagree

21. Sometimes I wonder if I have a problem with pornography. ________________________________________________
Strongly Agree …Agree …Neither …Disagree …Strongly Disagree

22. Sometimes I doubt that God loves me. ________________________________________________
Strongly Agree …Agree …Neither …Disagree …Strongly Disagree

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As our country continues to deteriorate economically, I have noticed that most Christian people are apathetic about our current state of affairs. Some even welcome our decline, seeing it as a “sign of the times” that the Lord’s return can’t be far away. To millions, being part of an apostate generation, reminiscent of the Church of Laodocia, is to be welcomed. Since it’s the seventh church in John’s Revelation—the last one, evangelicals reason that the Rapture is imminent. Following the historical example, Laodocia’s apostasy has been equated with the current state of Christianity but, instead of being horrified by it, it is worm by millions as a badge of honor. In the eyes of millions of Christians, being virtually worthless is somehow noble—somehow to be welcomed. Christ is coming to rescue our sorry generation, which means that we should be complacent rather than stand against the trend toward apostasy.

I understand this worldview. I’ve lived it for decades, but there are some inherent problems with it. It has some substantial dangers, which I would like to discuss for the next week.

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The other day I went to a track meet to watch a friend’s son race. Because the schools were small, several of the races had the boy’s squad racing at the same time as the girl’s, including the two mile race.

It was a long, uneventful, dull race by most standards. When the first boy and first girl finished the race, it was all over except for the fact that each had lapped one girl, who was particularly slow. Everybody in the stadium and on the field was anxious to start the next event, which was hampered because of one ponderous girl, who was painfully slow. You could feel the negative energy in the crowd, as people wished the girl would just quit, but she didn’t. She ambled on and, as fatigue set in, her stride became even slower.

At that moment, a beautiful young girl with a long blond ponytail, who was a friend, raced on to the track, caught up with her teammate, and encouraged her to finish the race by helping her set a better pace. She ran stride for stride with her friend, encouraging her repeatedly as she did. She did this for her friend and nobody else. In fact, she seemed completely unaware that all eyes were on her. As I watched this event unfold before my eyes, my eyes misted and I became instructed.

What I witnessed was a metaphor for my life and probably for yours. In the difficult economic times most of us are facing, we don’t need best wishes or prayers as much as we need someone to run along side of us—someone who will stand with us as we run against the wind, encouraging us to remain faithful to God and to ourselves. My prayer for myself is to be the kind of person who will stand with others by my deeds and not simply by my words. That girl was a profound witness, but she never realized it, which is exactly the way the Lord works most of the time.

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During World War II, President Roosevelt once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” In America, this was true because the War was overseas. If you lived in Poland or Russia, however, where the War was all around you, being fearful would have been appropriate. The fear was real.

In our day, we are told by many leaders—both governmental and religious—that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Perhaps this is true, but I doubt it. In an effort to keep a positive mindset, we are told to think positively—to have confidence in the future. In my humble opinion, pumping up joy and confidence, which have nothing to do with reality, is precisely the wrong thing to do.

Instead, this is a time to be miserable, to mourn, and to weep. It’s also a time to humble ourselves before God, acknowledging that He is in charge of our destiny—that He alone can spare us from the disaster we have richly brought upon ourselves. Sadly, not many have done that. Our churches remain irrelevant, as they worry about their own survival rather than minister the Word of God as they have been charged to do.

You can spin what’s happening all you want, but it produces nothing but self-deceit. There is only one answer: Humble yourself before the mighty hand of God. He is God Almighty and, until enough of His children bow their knees, we’ll fumble and flounder for years. Positive thinking is counter-productive; genuine humility is not. God will scoff at the former, but He may honor the latter. It’s our only hope.

Will you humble yourself, or will you continue to be a fool and who spouts off politically correct nonsense? As always, the choice is yours; so are the consequences.

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There’s nothing more difficult than hearing the voice of God when you’ve been spiritually abused. Because someone you trusted used his or her position to exploit you, you naturally recoiled when you realized the destructive nature of the breach of confidence. Not only did it make you angry but it also hampered your ability to trust others. This loss of trust also extended to God, because in your mind, He should have intervened to prevent it. He should have done something to stop it.

In some ways, God let you down more than the abuser. At least, that’s how you feel. When you think about it rationally, you acknowledge that this isn’t true, but you still feel that way. Because you do, it’s hard to trust God again. It’s also much harder to hear His voice, which is always gentle and never caustic. Like a wounded animal, you have recoiled and become very self-protective, and the thought of becoming vulnerable again is the farthest thing from your mind. Just the thought of it sends a cold chill down your spine.

But that’s what you have to do, if you want to heal. You have to listen for God’s voice, trust it, and become open to God’s healing. What that entails is between you and God Almighty. I have no idea what it is, but I do know He will continue to reach out to you until you listen. It’s His nature, and He’s very patient.

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Rarely does a day go by when we don’t hear about graft and political corruption in our national or state governments. It seems to be everywhere. The same is true in the private sector. Corporate leaders lose billions of our dollars and reward themselves with outrageous bonuses for doing so. Financial exploitations seems to be everywhere.

In the midst of all of this, where is the church? Where are our Christian leaders, who should be showing us the way by providing godly leadership? Sadly, many have followed the same path, exchanging the glory of God in their endless pursuit of material rewards.

Whatever happened to doing the right thing for the right reasons, regardless of the consequences? The answer is simple: It’s still an option–the only option for those who walk with the Lord. It doesn’t matter what road others follow, if you belong to the Lord, you must follow the road less traveled, regardless of the cost.

If you do, you’ll build estimable character qualities. If you don’t, you’ll be no better than the rest. Remember, character counts.

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STEP 8: I share my experience with a trusted friend, and I confess to God the exact state of my heart.

When you confess your sins, be specific, open, and completely forthright. Do your best not to hedge in any way. If you do, it will create disturbance in your soul and be counter-productive. If you’re completely forthright, however, the weight of guilt will be broken, freeing you from your chains. You are only as “sick as your secrets” and, once they have been confessed, the burden will be lifted. You’ll be free. If your sin is habitual, find a support group to help you.

There are many available. Do what you need to do to lift the burden of guilt and shame from your life. Haven’t you been confined to your emotional prison long enough? If you believe you should be shackled, it’s a lie; you don’t. God wants you free, and He is eager to restore you to wholeness, to health, and to peace. Take some time and write down exactly what you need to confess. Then shake off your inertia, find a trustworthy friend, schedule a time, and do it.

Mustering the courage to actually confess what’s troubling you will be difficult but, once you’ve completed the task, you will be amazed by the relief you experience. It’s palpable; there’s nothing like it. If you’re reluctant to proceed, it probably means there’s something bothering you. There’s something you need to uncover, and it will not leave you alone until you do it. Stop hesitating and do it—even if you have to force yourself.

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