Posts Tagged ‘culture’

pilgrimsWould you be a Pilgrim for your children or grandchildren?  Would you risk your life for their future?  Many of us believe that the Pilgrims came to America seeking religious freedom.  This is only partly true.  “They also came,” writes Chuck Colson, “because their teenagers were giving them fits.”

Here’s some background.  The Church of England was the established church in 1608.  If a Christian objected to aspects of the “official church,” they were labeled a Separatist and sometimes thrown into prison for worshipping “in their own way.”  A group of those Separatists escaped to Holland in 1608 because they were determined to worship as they believed they should.  William Bradford, age seventeen, was among them.  In his journal, Bradford noted how desperate the Separatists were becoming, not because they couldn’t worship as they wanted, but because it was difficult to make a living.  Labor was grueling and some of the Separatists actually preferred prison in England to liberty in Holland.

It was not, however, the backbreaking work that motivated this group of Christians to leave Holland and set out for America.  It was their children.  Many of the young people who had moved with families from England to Holland were losing their faith.  They were influenced by a licentious culture.  They were lured by evil examples.  They were turning away from their parents and living wayward lives.  The Christians who had escaped from England to Holland now realized it was time to plan a dangerous journey — for the sake of their sons and daughters.

Parents have always had to take a stand against evil in the battle for the souls of their children.  In the case of the Pilgrims, staying in Holland meant watching their children be tempted away from God by saloons, prostitutes and sensual living.  These parents, with their children’s eternal future in view, needed to act.

Perhaps you have thought about becoming a Pilgrim.  Perhaps, because your children are giving you fits, you have entertained the notion of packing them up and moving to a “safe” place away from it all.  But where is such a place?  For a while, the Pilgrims found new land where they could instruct their children in the way of the Lord.  But soon enough, their children’s children were also tempted and giving their parents fits.  That’s how it is with sinful people in a sinful world.

So what is a parent to do?  We may not be able to escape the culture, but we can certainly equip our children for living in it without being of it.  This requires training… training that begins in the home.  Our own as well as theirs.

This Thanksgiving, we can do what the Pilgrims did.  We can look at our children in light of their eternal destiny.  We can be willing to do the hard things that godly parents have always had to do.  We can be faithful… not trusting in ourselves, but holding fast to the Word of Life.

(With appreciation to Chuck Colson
and his devotional How Now Shall We Live, 2004)

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If you’ve never watched Rev. Jonathon Fisk on YouTube at Worldview Everlasting, you’re going to be in for a surprise.  This Lutheran pastor talks to the “now” generation but, the question is: Can the now generation keep up? In this episode, Rev. Fisk challenges a new culture of women but with unchanging Truth that endures the ages.  Young women… let me know what you think.  Better yet, become a subscriber of Worldview Everlasting 🙂

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bride & groom at altarDefenders of marriage at the Family Research Council recently posted a blog entitled “Why Marriage Should Be Privileged in Public Policy.”  What follows is a brief excerpt.

Marriage is the most important social act, one that involves much more than just the married couple. To begin with, extended families are merged and renewed through a wedding. It is also through marriage that the community and the nation are renewed. A new home is formed when a couple marries, one open to the creation of new life. These children are the future. Marriage also has beneficial social and health effects for both adults and children, and these gifts benefit the community and the whole society. Conversely, it is through the breakdown of marriage that society is gravely harmed. The future of the nation depends on the creation of good marriages and good homes for children.

Among marriage’s many benefits to society is an increased respect for and protection of human life, since married women are less likely to abort their children than are unmarried women. Married-parent families contribute to safer and better communities with less substance abuse and crime among young people, as well as less poverty and welfare dependency. Also, married parents help prevent young people from engaging in premarital sex and having out-of-wedlock births; they are also likely to produce young adults who view marriage positively and maintain life-long marriages. Marriage brings many health and economic benefits to society and helps citizens to be more involved in communities.

Because marriage serves a public purpose–namely, procreation and the benefit of children and society–government can legitimately privilege marriage and seek to strengthen it in its policies. Other relationships such as cohabitation and homosexuality do not benefit children and society, and, therefore, should not be supported by government. There is no evidence showing that these relationships have the same positive effects as marriage. In fact, there is considerable evidence that they have detrimental effects on both children and adults.

Please read the entire post on FRC’s blog.  There are a great many reasons for the government to guard marriage.  All of them have to do with the health, welfare and defense of our nation and civilization as a whole.

(Thanks, Bob, for being part of the FRC team!)

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What’s going on?  The whole culture has changed.  We’re in a moral and ethical mess.  What has happened… and what can I do about it?

First, it’s important for the Christian to recognize that two worldviews are in conflict.  Man’s perspective on life opposes God’s.  The Biblical worldview is Creation, The Fall, and Redemption.  All questions of life can be answered by this worldview.  But, when man doubts the Creator and places himself as the ultimate authority, he is left with only evolving opinions about how life should be lived.

Second, history proves that whenever Christians stepped into the public square, the culture was dramatically affected.  In Rome, for example, unwanted children were placed outside the city gates and left to die, but Christians started orphanages or even welcomed abandoned children into their own homes through adoption.  It was common for sick people to be neglected, but Christians started hospitals and hospice care.  Women were too often considered property, but Christ-followers saw women as equal to and compatibly different from men.  This made Christianity worth thinking about.

Third, those who resist God want others to resist Him, too.  Passionate about their perspectives, they step into the public square — especially coveted areas of academia and the media — to influence others.  Passionate people are persuasive people with words and actions.  Labeling something “scientific” makes the idea “progressive” and worthy of consideration.  Labeling something “religious” implies personal, but antiquated beliefs unworthy of any modern thinker.  If you are “scientific,” you are intelligent and welcomed to dialogue.  If you are “religious,” you are clinging to “some faith superstition” and your views are fine for you but not for general consumption.  Since the 1950s, children taught “Bible stories” in Sunday school grew up to become students at the university where “science” ridiculed “faith stories.”  Zealous disciples of Darwin, Marx, Dewey, Kinsey, Sanger, and others replaced the disciples of Jesus in the cultural conversation.

Fourth, when Christians pull out of the public square to take refuge inside the walls of the church or keep their faith private, the culture suffers — in every area from marriage and family to education and ethics.  We miss huge opportunities to push back against evil and raise up a younger generation in Truth when we do not talk about what God has done throughout history (documented in His Word beginning in Genesis); when we let the “science” of evolution intimidate our faith in the Creator God; and when we assume our faith is a “private thing” not to be lived in the workplace, classroom, or neighborhood.  It’s true that there is strong opposition to Christianity in our time but, in the midst of the opposition, there are people everywhere crying out for answers to the critical issues of life.  If we believe Christ is the Hope of the world, don’t we also believe that His Word is applicable to the world?

Can one person  make a difference?  Yes.  How?  By being as bold, confidant, and passionate for God as those who oppose Him.  The Christian citizen living in a morally and ethically-bankrupt society makes the greatest difference when he/she fears (trusts) and loves God above all things.  Trusting God’s Word, we can use it to serve our  neighbor.  We serve our neighbors by:

  • Speaking God’s Word of Law in love to those not aware that they are making wrong choices.  We should always be prepared to contrast trendy opinions with God’s Word about our beginnings, the sanctity of human life, relationships, marriage and family, sexual behavior, health care, law, and ethics.
  • Speaking God’s Word of Gospel to those sorry for their sins and ready to live as changed people in Christ.

This culture is in need of ordinary people who make a difference right where we live.  Parents and grandparents faithful to God’s Word affect families and neighborhoods.  We don’t have to be an author, speaker, or teacher to impact the culture.  We can ask questions that help people think, confront issues, and entertain challenges. 

If we don’t have the answer to a particular question, we can promise to find out.  Heaven knows resources are as close as our fingertips.  Some of my favorites are the Colson Center for Worldview, Vision Forum, Stand to Reason, and Answers In Genesis.  Some of my favorite worldview authors include Nancy Pearcy, Chuck Colson, Frank Beckwith, Greg Koukl, C.S. Lewis, J. Budziszewski, Marvin Olasky, and Gene Edward Veith.

We can make the best of every opportunity.  If you can’t speak to a crowd, speak to one.  If you can’t speak at all, write a letter-to-the-editor or a personal note.  Keep your eyes open and ears attentive.  Many people are struggling in confusing situations.  They’re not looking for someone’s opinion, but for a life-changing word of hope.  I know that Word of hope, don’t you?

Small seeds planted by faithful people of God will grow a better culture.

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Do you have a daughter captivated by the romance of Edward and Bella?  Then you might be interested in an early morning phone call I received a few days ago.  A mother had one question on her mind.  “What do you think about the Twilight series?”  I admitted that I haven’t read the books, but previews of the newly released film have my attention.  “What,” I asked, “concerns you so much that you would call even though we’ve never met?”

With calm reason and logic, she defined Twilight as an example of “deception.”  It’s an attempt to “normalize an aberration,” she noted.  “You’ve pointed out such things in your articles and Titus 2 ministry.”  Twilight, she said, is fantasy — to be sure, but it is also a dangerous mix of the holy and unholy.  I’m frustrated, she confessed because “when I express my concerns to the younger ones in my family, they roll their eyes.” 

Mentoring and warning sons and daughters often receives this kind of response.  Parents may back away from dialogue because they’re described as “unenlightened” or “out of touch.”  This mom, however, was looking for encouragement to press on.  She was well aware of the battle for the hearts and minds of young Christians.   

I’m thankful this mom cared enough to call.  It motivated me to do further research.  I found a discerningly helpful article entitled “The Twilight Series from a Christian Perspective: Part I & II” by Mark Farnham.  Mark is Assistant Professor of Theology and New Testament at Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary in Lansdale, PA.  He and his wife have two teen daughters and a ten-year-old son.  Mark has served as a pastor and director of youth ministries. 

If there is a young woman in your family whose romantic yearnings are teased by Twilight, please take the time to read Mark Farnham’s review.  “The fact that Edward and Bella do not engage in sexual activity seems to be enough to warrant a stamp of approval from  many Christians who defend the series,” writes Mark.  “Some even praise Edward (a vampire) for his considerable restraint in not doing the one thing that is most bodily urgent to him – drinking Bella’s blood.”  But, cautions Mark, “What a work of culture promotes as normal and desirable – or abnormal and undesirable – is the crux of the matter.”  Twilight “drips with sensuality,” writes Mark.  “This aspect of the series should be a major stumbling block for a Christian reader who is attuned to biblical portrayals of holiness and purity.”  (Visit SharperIron to read more.)

Parents, what is Twilight promoting?  What is it compromising?  Might it change a young person’s attitude toward God?  “For Bella,” writes Mark, “God is unnecessary.  Only Edward is necessary.  In her mind, God is only an acceptable thought if He (in whatever form He exists) accepts Edward.  The roles are switched — Edward is supreme and necessary; God is subordinate and contingent.” 

It is spiritually risky business when we fear, love, and trust our self-determined happiness before God.

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It’s easy to become discouraged these days.  Those who don’t want to acknowledge the Creator God are bold.  Those who want to acknowledge Him long enough to blame Him for all the ills of the world are just as bold.  All worldviews except the Biblical worldview are tolerated on campuses.  A “progressive” media scoffs at the “downward-sloped forehead” people who live in virtually every state except along certain coastlines.  The culture, in general, is certainly more coarse.  Immodest.  Selfish.

New York state legislators and the governor rammed through so-called “gay marriage” earlier this year.  Iowa’s Supreme Court did the same last year.  Most Americans oppose this redefinition of marriage.  It has failed in 31 states where it was put to a vote.  But, through the efforts of a small group of activists, America appears to be closer to embracing a radical social experiment that will, without any doubt, undermine marriage, hurt children, and destroy religious liberty.

Of course, having said all this, I run the risk of being labeled “intolerant.”  “Judgmental.”  A “theocrat.” A “dominionist.”  Or a “Christianist.”  (I run this risk because I don’t believe that my faith is a private matter.)

In spite of all this, there is hope.  (Ezerwoman believes there is always hope.)  “Think about it,” writes Chuck Colson.  “Most surveys estimate the number of homosexuals in America is only around two to four percent.  If these few people, with the help of like-minded liberal elites, can bring America to this dangerous tipping point, why can’t faithful, orthodox Christians — who make up a far greater percentage of the population — bring some sanity to the critical moral and cultural issues of the day?”

Colson references an article in ScienceDaily.  “Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society.”

Did you know this?  Why might this be?  Colson explains.  “Researchers at RPI note that this is possible because people do not like to hold unpopular opinions and are always seeking to reach a consensus.”

As a Lutheran, I’m compelled to ask, “What does this mean?”  It means there is hope!  Colson writes, “Those who stick to their intellectual and moral guns can eventually influence their undecided neighbors to adopt their views — and begin to spread them themselves!”

The very thing that Jesus did He asks us to do.  Jesus launched a movement that greatly impacted the world for good starting with twelve disciples.  Twelve ordinary, kinda-like-you-and-me people.  Those disciples became agents of change.  Modern Christians who use God’s Word and try to practice their faith wherever they are and in every circumstance are agents of change.

Well over 10 percent of the U.S. population, according to every survey conducted by any polling group, identifies itself as having unshakable Christian beliefs.  So why do we appear to be losing on so many cultural fronts?

Colson answers well.  “We need to be more active in sharing our beliefs about absolute truth in our pluralistic society.  Too many culture-war-weary Christians have retreated to the pews.  Too many so-called ‘Christian leaders’ are advising the rest of us to do the same.  Nonsense.  We must speak up.”

Second, says Colson, “we need to make our case confidently, winsomely, and positively.  The Christian worldview provides the only way to live rationally in the world.  It is the blueprint for human flourishing.  And it is visible whenever we defend the dignity of every man, woman, and child; when we feed the hungry and clothe the naked; and when our marriages and families and churches and schools are refuges for love and learning.”  (Breakpoint.org 8-19-11)

For most of my life, I’ve been surrounded by agents of change.  This was no accident.  God placed them in my life so that I could learn how to be one, too.

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John Sommerville is the author of how the News Makes Us Dumb.  Before news became an industry, Sommerville writes, society was held together not by news but by its cultures.  People shared “fairly settled assumptions about what was reasonable, natural, expected or good.”  Scholars call this a culture’s metanarrative — a  narrative that “binds our thinking.”

The Bible provided this metanarrative for Western civilization.  Even nonbelievers were familiar with its stories and ways of structuring moral and social reality.  But the media — the news industry — changed that.  People in this industry generally disregard or blatantly defy the Judeo-Christian narrative.  They believe it’s their job to shape our thinking.  They are constantly raising questions that cause people to doubt Christianity or any cultural traditions grown out of Biblical thinking.  Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries, writes, “The result is that many people accept the idea that we should be constantly reevaluating what we believe and understand about the world — including our religious beliefs — but news stories cannot replace a culture’s metanarrative, because, by its very nature, the news gives priority to the shocking and the new.  It is a cycle of endless deconstruction.”

“The good news,” writes Colson, “is that Americans are recognizing that the ‘news’ is becoming a little more than vulgar entertainment, largely irrelevant to our lives.”

A good practice is to use the news for appropriate and limited purposes.  Sommerville offers this suggestion: “We should balance our bloated appetite for news with a cultural diet rich in books, reflection, and discussion.  And we should put the news through a mental metanarrative grid — asking ourselves if the ‘news’ being offered up reinforces our cultural story — and our views of Christianity — or tears it apart.”  Colson agrees.  “The news may make us dumb — but reading and discussing great books, especially the Bible, leads to the kinds of wisdom that brings real understanding.”

Appreciation to How Now Shall We Live Devotional
by Charles Colson, Tyndale House Publishers

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