Friday, June 28, 2013

Fighting with Lego Swords

When I was little a "friend" of mine and myself decided we would go to our respective homes and get swords to play with. Not having a sword of my own, I built one out of Constructs (kind of like erector legos), and went out to meet him.

When we met outside, he had brought his own real (plastic) sword. He then proceeded to tell me something along the line of how mine was useless before breaking it to pieces with his sword and walking away.

Needless to say, I was crushed. I picked up my sad, broken sword, went back inside, and played there until whenever it was I felt like going back out. I still remember that incident clear as day. I remember the weather, the sun, the excitement, and the soul-rending defeat of the moment. I even remember the old man next door shaking his head (no doubt muttering something to himself about mean kids) as he worked on his lawn, bent over probably pulling weeds.

Even now, 20+ years later, I still have this weird, sickly feeling whenever I think about it.

But this post isn't about that sickly feeling. This post is about the fact that I brought a useless weapon, and how we do the exact same thing all the time in our own lives. Instead of coming prepared with our best weaponry, we come to the battles in our lives with poorly made substitutes thinking that the other side will play by our rules so that our flimsy toys won't break and fall to pieces.

We need to realize one thing. The other side does not care if our toys break. In fact, it has a vested interest in making sure they do. Yet time and again we cobble together "defenses" for our beliefs that are not bound or upheld in Scripture. We even use arguments that are completely devoid of a Christian worldview for fear that we will be attacked as kooks or bigots or some other perverse smear.

So we go in our rooms, look at our legos, and build a toy thinking that everything will be fine because we're "on the right side of things". Thinking we will win simply because "we are right," is not only dangerous, but fatal.

Take the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage this week. The way the opinion was written has basically left the door open for the next useful case to declare gay marriage as a "right," guaranteed by the Constitution. When the opinion came out I saw people everywhere rejoicing at the decision. Facebook, Twitter, News, even YouTube has a marker next to its logo "celebrating LGBT pride." Taglines such as "all love is equal," are everywhere, as well.

Yet almost nowhere did I see wide scale denouncement of the decision. It was as though Christians and others got their toys broken, picked up the pieces, and went to go play in their rooms, thinking that they would be left alone if they went into hiding for a little bit.

As Erick Erickson put it, you will be made to care. One way or another, you will be required to take a stance on this issue one way or another. It's not only this issue either. Drug use, pornography, FCC decency regulations on primetime TV, the sexualization of girls and the demasculation of boys, and on and on and on. There are a lot (a lot) of things coming to a head in the next several years that you will have to take a stance on. There will be no hiding from it. "No opinion," will not be an option.

Are you ready for that?

Are you ready to do the preparation and fighting it will take to battle these things? Are you willing to donate your time, your money, your expertise to those who are on the front lines fighting these wars in public? Will you take a stand before there is no ground from which to take a stand on?

Some will say, "you can't legislate morality." I disagree. We legislate murder, insider trading, cheating on your spouse, child support, what can be on TV before 9pm, and a thousand other "morality" issues based on what is right and what is wrong. Legislating morality is all that regulators do. The argument holds no water.

Others will say, "that's not showing love." Is it showing love, then, to not tell someone they are about to be hit by a train? Is it love to look at someone, knowing they are dying while holding the cure in your hands, and not tell them about it? How much love can we show if we do not fight for goodness and holiness? How much love are we showing if we are not showing a broken and fallen world the requirements from a loving God to live with Him forever?

Still others will say, "if you fight back against what is going on, you will run people away from the church." This, too, is a false argument. If we do not hold ourselves to God's standard, are we acting as His church? Are we proving ourselves as the body of Christ by our silence? Better a small church which follows God than an enormous clubhouse of people calling themselves christians who are such in name only.

We must be willing to act. We must be willing to fight. And we must be willing to do so using real arguments based in God's Word, Character, and Worldview. Lego swords will not work. Running away will not work. We must be willing to stand, now and forever, for what is right before God, and Him alone.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Retiring from God, or Faithful Till Death

"You see, it is so hard for these creatures to persevere. The routine of adversity, the gradual decay of youthful loves and youthful hopes, the quiet despair (hardly felt as pain) of ever overcoming the chronic temptations with which we have again and again defeated them, the drabness which we create in their lives, and the inarticulate resentment with which we teach them to respond to it - all this provides admirable opportunities of wearing out a soul by attrition.

If, on the other hand, the middle years prove prosperous, our position is even stronger. Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is 'finding his place in it,' when really it is finding its place in him. His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of being really at home on Earth, which is just what we want."

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

I try to make a habit of not starting posts with long quotes, and it is rare that I start with any quotes at all. However, I felt that for this topic, this quote was particularly appropriate. I thought it fit so well because it is true. Read it again if you don't quite believe it. Through and through these may be the most frightening lines I have ever read in a book.

Why are they so terrifying? Because even at age 31, I see them coming true. Not all the time, mind you, but in those moments of weakness or where I'm having a bad day, I see it. What is even more frightening is that I see it in the church today. I see it in the older people who believe that since they have retired from the working world they can retire from God's work as well. I see it in the teenagers who on one hand are so beaten down by the world that their hearts are barely stirred by the Gospel and on the other hand are so consumed with work and becoming well-off that God takes a back seat to anything that can help them "succeed" in the "real world."

Don't believe that you are immune from it. That is a mistake we cannot allow ourselves to make. When you believe that something cannot happen to you is when you are in the greatest danger of it happening. I have seen it happen to elders, men, women, teens, even church bodies. They either become so disillusioned or so comfortable in the world that they cease to be effective in the world around them. Satan doesn't care which one destroys us.

Satan just cares that we are destroyed.

In Matthew 24:13 Jesus says, "But the one who remains faithful to the end will be saved." It comes in the middle of Jesus speaking about terrible things will happen soon after His ascension, but the message is timeless. We must be faithful until death.There is no other way to Him.

Satan knows this. In fact, he is counting on it. If he can wear down our faith so that we are no longer faithful, he wins. He may use riches, comfort, or pain. Indeed, he may use a combination of all three over a lifetime. Anything to make it so we are no longer effective in the service of the One True King.

We may retire from our earthly work, but we can never retire from what God would have us do. We cannot allow ourselves to get too comfortable, thinking that the world is our home. It is not. We also cannot choose to step away and let others do what we should be doing. It is not acceptable before God.

We must choose, every day, who we will serve. Will it be ourselves, will it be our comforts, will it be our pain, or will it be the One True God who loves us and wants us to be His?

As Joshua said, choose this day whom you will serve.

And choose it every day.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

"Consume Me! ...later..."

Why is it so hard to say, "Consume me, God!," and mean it? Obviously I am not writing about being physically eaten, but I am writing about being devoured. Why is it so, so difficult to ask God to do that, and mean it?

Could it be that deep down, we don't really want to be consumed?

Could it be that really, we don't want to put in the work it takes to be devoured?

"After I finish this show, I'll give myself over," we say. "After I get home from work," we say. "I can't start this when I'm tired, after I wake up tomorrow," we say, "then I'll get to work on being consumed by God. I'll make sure I start fresh and give it all I've got!"

I wonder how many of us have made those statements.

Even more, I wonder how many of us have made good on those statements.

Don't allow Satan to tell you, "you can do it later." You can't. When you feel the urge to start giving yourself to God, do it! Don't wait until after class or after lunch or after you sleep. Do it right then!

It takes work. It takes sacrifice. It takes endurance.

It takes time

And it is not easy.

But don't let the fact that it is not easy or instant make you feel like it is not worth it.

Because it absolutely is.

There is no after, there is no later, there is no "in just a few minutes." Let yourself be consumed by Him now. Let your life, your mind, your heart, your soul be taken over, and push yourself to do the things it will take for God to devour everything you are and were and will be.

You'll be surprised by how much you gain when you give yourself up. It's hard to believe, even for me. But I want to. Not just a little bit either. I want to believe it as badly as I want to breathe. I want to want God as badly as I want air in my lungs. I want for people to see me and say "What in the world happened to that guy? Is that the same person we used to know?" Because that's how it should be.

So I'll work on it. Hard.

Will you join me?