The Finger in the Mirror


We hear the word repentance bandied about in Christians circles, and in some of those circles, it’s practically a mantra. The list of things we Christians need to repent from is an arm long, filled with things like lust, jealousy, faithlessness, failure to tithe, lack of a decent quiet time, etc.

We also hear pastors and parachurch leaders going on and on about the culture wars. Each day seems to bring a new call to arms from some ministry or self-appointed Christian leader to pray and/or write our political reps over homosexual marriage, abortion, Obama’s health care package, illegal immigration, the rise of Islam and jihad, and so on. The list is nearly endless.

But what I NEVER hear is a combination of the two messages that asks Christians to repent for our complicity in helping to empower the very culture war problems we fight. Never.

A friend sent me a call to prayer for the gathering of Muslims due to take place Friday, Sept. 26, 2009,  in Washington, D.C. Evidently, Islam is trying yet again to market itself as the religion of peace, even as it promotes Sharia law, says little about terrorism,  and advocates a host of legalistic follies that oppose the Gospel of Grace and send millions into a Christless eternity.

When I read that call to prayer arms, I had to ask the question that Christians in America avoid at all cost: In what ways am I at fault for this?

A few thoughts to consider:

  • If American Christians had continued to follow the way of Jesus in ministering to the sick, would we have the health care debate now tearing our country apart?
  • If American Christians had continued to follow the way of Jesus in caring for the orphan, the widow, and the elderly, would we have abortion on demand and a nearly bankrupt Social Security system?
  • If American Christians had continued to follow the way of Jesus in visiting the prisoner, would we have a sky-high recidivism rate?
  • If American Christians had continued to follow the way of Jesus in caring for the poor, Do we truly believe He is the answer?would we have government welfare and the burden of having fostered a society-wide victim mentality?
  • If American Christians had continued to follow the way of Jesus in loving the outcast, would we still be fighting the homosexual agenda on its proponents’ terms or battling race and illegal immigration  issues?
  • If American Christians had continued to follow the way of Jesus by actually obeying His  Great Commission, would we be fighting Islam in this country or dealing with any of the culture wars we seemingly can’t wait to engage with calls to prayers and letters to our congressman?

I would offer that the answer to these and other questions like them is a simple NO.

I would offer that we Christians are as much to blame for the condition we find ourselves in as any of our supposed foes are, but you won’t hear that from the pulpits or from parachurch ministry leaders.

When the Church of Jesus fails to do what the Gospel asks of us, something will fill the vacuum created by our absence. And I can guarantee this: We will not like what fills the vacuum.

Honestly, the denial on our parts sucks the life out of me. And yet we will go on and on about our foes, the way the government does things we don’t like, or the next moral truth to come under assault.

We talk about our nation being a Christian one, but in truth, we’re Christian in name only. If we’re not living the Gospel, then of course everything will go to hell. Why would we be surprised at that?

Do we still believe that Jesus changes lives? Do we believe that Jesus is the answer to all of life’s issues? Then we better stop living as if we don’t.

Musings for a Monday Morning


Many thoughts today…

Yesterday was  about the most beautiful day I can remember, one of those “It’s great to be alive” days. Wonderful morning in church,  a nice nap afterwards, some basic housecleaning, and then a fabulous afternoon and evening outside in absolutely perfect weather. Even spotted an Orchard Oriole on our property, a bird that in checking was not on my life list. How about that? Then my wife and I settled in to watch the second DVD of the Haibane Renmei anime series as part of a project for a friend. Even got to bed by 11:15. Just a superb day.

Which makes it all the more difficult to segue into current events…

While it may not have been the infamous History Eraser Button, Lee Grady of Charisma magazine claims “God Has Pushed a Great Big Reset Button.” In part, he says the charismatic movement is kaput.

You know it’s pretty bad when the Russians are claiming they’re now less Marxist than the United States. (For ultra-irony, the linked article was also featured in Pravda.) For further proof of the claim, perhaps we need look no further than this amazing bit of proposed legislation.

If you want to be really depressed, while also seeing how bad the economic situation is in our country (or your county), check out this animated, interactive map of spreading job losses.

Oxymoron of the week: A doctor who specialized in late-term abortions was gunned down in his Lutheran church yesterday as he handed out bulletins.  (So much for loving the sinner and hating the sin.)

Meanwhile, holding a Bible study in your home may now run afoul of local laws.

Risking brickbats and charges of heresy, the iMonk wonders if something is lost by being too God-centered. He also weighs in on the above San Diego Bible study issue.

CCM recording artist Shaun Groves postulates what the world would be like without the CCM business.

If you want to know how to write a compelling story, this serves as a perfect example of the craft.

Meanwhile, I watched 20 months of work on a novel I was writing, The Dying Day, go down the tubes thanks to J. J. Abrams.  Though I promised not to get dragged into an ongoing TV series again, having been a devoted follower of The X-Files for far too long, I got snared by the similar Fringe this year. To my horror, the final two episodes for the season mirrored the events in my novel’s plotline and the lives of my characters so thoroughly that the novel may be a complete loss. This is the second time this has happened, and this one is even worse than the first. A fellow writer tried to console me by saying that it shows that my ideas are marketable (online scuttlebutt was calling the Fringe finale “genius”), but that’s little comfort right now. Argh.

Did I mention that yesterday was just a stunningly perfect day?

Epic Fail, Epic Win


In the lexicon of the English language, failure may no longer be an option.

Instead, we English-speakers bring you fail. Not as to fail, but simply fail. (If you aren’t tracking with this, Slate has a fine article explaining this latest twist in the mother tongue.)

Of course, being the the lovers of the extreme that we Americans are, fail is itself a fail unless we can find a way to magnify it. This becomes epic fail. And because all extreme language needs its counter, we have coined the term epic win.

The landing of US Airways Flight 1549 is an epic win.

An epic fail? Think Jan. 22, 1973.

Yes, Roe v. Wade was an epic fail for Christians in this country.

Asleep at the wheel. Knocked out. Comatose. Guard dropped. You name it, the Church of the early 1970s didn’t react to what was happening under its nose. Didn’t stick to the game plan. Didn’t get it. So we got Roe v. Wade and millions upon millions of barbarically destroyed human lives. An entire generation of people culled. Epic, epic fail.

You witness a lot of handwringing over Roe today. What wasn’t big news leading up to that day in January 1973 is now. With a new president who believes Roe was an epic win, Christians are even more alarmed about the course of our country and its attitudes toward abortion. Many frantic calls will emanate from pulpits and burn up the Christian radio and TV airwaves. We will hear a million outlines for courses of action which we have all been hearing for decades.You can almost recite them by heart.

In the language of fail, let’s look at those familiar calls to action:

Voting Republican – FAIL

The Republican Party has done next to nothing to end abortion even though the rhetoric of the party reeks of pro-life talk. But talk is cheap. As long as Christians keep devoting their time and energy to this do-nothing party of talk, we will not end abortion.

Supporting Pro-life Candidates – FAIL

See above. Candidates are often very vocal about their pro-life sentiments. Funny how we hear about this incessantly come election time, then all goes quiet immediately afterwards.

Demonstrating/Protesting – FAIL

I demonstrated with Operation Rescue. I was on the frontlines of protesting at abortion clinics. Another anti-abortion tactic fail...Yes, there were small victories when a child was saved once in a while. But the scale gained is not the scale that will save this country from judgment.

Educating – FAIL

We can show pregnant women pictures of aborted fetuses. We can fire up the 3D sonograms. We can talk and talk and talk about the horrors of abortion. Yet 36 years of pro-life education has given us one thing: the surety of more than a million babies aborted in 2009.

Praying – FAIL

Prayer a fail? How is that possible? How can God not honor our prayer to see abortion end?

Prayer fails under one critical condition. If I am outside on a bitterly cold day and I encounter a destitute man rubbing his chilled hands together while mine remain snug and warm inside my gloves, do I need to pray about what my course of action should be? Haven’t the Scriptures informed my direction? Isn’t the Spirit in me telling me what to do? What is the point of me praying, “God, I really need to know what to do about this man and his cold hands. If it be thy will, let him come over to me and strike up a conversation. Then I will know that I need to do something”? Do I need to pray this? No, I don’t. I need to do what the Spirit and the Word, both of which I claim to know, have already told me to do.

When we use prayer as a means to look spiritual while failing to do what God wills of us, prayer is a fail. Disobedience does not move the heart of God toward us. What should we expect from God when we know what to do but do not do it?

And there is one enormous thing we are refusing to do even though we know we must do it.

This brings us to the most epic fail of them all. It’s an epic fail larger than Roe v. Wade. A million Roe v. Wades combined could not be as epic as this fail. And it is this epic fail that explains entirely the epic fail of the American Church when it comes to abortion.

Making disciples – EPIC FAIL

In the early 1960s, the Church in America abandoned its primary mission to make disciples in the name of Jesus. We got sidetracked into culture wars, fighting the commies, worrying about hippies, looking at every threat in the world while ignoring the fact that lost people were remaining lost because we forgot what we were supposed to be about. I believe that’s the main reason why abortion became the law of the land.

If we have tried every other means to stop abortion in America and nothing has worked, the simple reason comes down to this: When a nation is filled with people who have not been born again, that nation will not honor righteousness.

That is the American Church’s epic fail. We simply stopped making disciples.

Want an epic win and an end to Roe? Make disciples. If every Christian in this country committed to actively sharing Christ with a half dozen lost people this year, just one every two months, I think we would begin to see change. If we stopped toying around with discipleship and got serious about raising up the next God-fearing  generation within our very own churches, we would see change. We would know that epic win that we have craved for 36 years if we dropped all the other skubalon that has distracted us and focused on our primary mission of making disciples.

Because a nation of people filled with the Spirit would have no need for abortion and would abolish it in a heartbeat.