An Outstanding Article to ponder! IMonk hits a home run!

Imonk
You might not agree with his conclusions…but the analysis of the ever-changing culture of the American Church is worth your consideration and reflection.  I'm not going to forward opinions at this stage in the game…I'm reading it like you hopefully will…I'm trying to have an open mind and heart…but I must say at first glance, there are some things that are most certainly true.  I recommend you read it and join in some conversation with those with whom you do life, community and the journey of faith.

My Prediction – by IMonk

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Giving made “easy”…and in a manner that it financially dangerous

Ministrygive
These are trying times in the USA financially. Many people are struggling with unemployment…the government is incurring more and more indebtedness…family finances in instance after instance is in crisis.  It is always good to know (excuse me for my cynicism) that there are caring and "Christian" companies out in the marketplace that are giving people who love God the option of giving to their local church via electronic means.  If you can't afford to give, just swipe your credit card and you'll make sure that the pastor and elders of your church are happy.  Of course, the MinstryGive program accepts ALL major credit cards.  I tell you there is NOTHING BETTER than encouraging people to go into debt (at sometimes 25% interest) to make sure that there is more entertainment in church on Sunday.  This is a consumeristic society and culture by the way…these types of options are to be expected.  It always is amazing to me that there are more and more local churches that are more interested in their programs and edifices than they are of the personal growth, financial health, faithfulness, and emotional stability of their adherents.  I don't know what more to say…

Ancient Wisdom…

Whisper
"Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him.  But the thunder of his power who can understand?"  Job 26:14

In this section of Job, Job is reflecting on the magnificence of God's creation and the grace of revelation.  For not only do we unmistakably hear from God in the apparent views of the cosmos but we also hear from him in the small whispers of the heart.  The truth is we have a hard time understanding and comprehending the awesomeness of the divine presence and revelation…while at the same time, when God speaks into the soul, it is difficult to ignore.

I've been trying to listen more of late…not that I gave up for any reason, but my prayers have been crying out with a renewed sense of urgency given the circumstances that I am facing now in my life's journey.  In the scope of trial that is often difficult to deny, ignore or escape, the whisper of God is being heard.  I'm constantly surprised and amazed at that but it is the only way in these days that I sense peace, contentment, and trust. 

I get the big shows of God's power…what I continually need is the small whisper.  How about you?

A Worthwhile reminder for all of us…

Obama
The following post is a "hybrid" of what I posted in November…the day after the election.

I couldn't help today thinking and praying for our nation.  Today is a day for patriotism…to thank God for the fact that many of us live in a great nation.  This is a nation that needs God's leadership…we aren't in a position of superiority except in our own minds.  History is God's story…we are a part of it.  God will have the final say about the success or failure of the American experiment. 

For now…I pray for our new President!  That's it…he's my president and yours (if you are an American). I want him to be successful and a great leader.  So, today is a day to reflect and pray…that's about it!

But now is a time to do what I posted in November…so recall with me for a bit –

"The election is over…so needs to be the "I told you so's" and the
finger pointing and the extremes of ideology.  Now, as followers of
Jesus we pray…we pray (as we always have) for our national leaders
and the wisdom they need to make decisions that will honor a larger
truth than the truths of the culture.  It might be difficult for some,
a joy for others, or something that would not even occur to others
still – but it is time to give support to those who have won this
aspect of the race.  As I mentioned yesterday, we who love and follow
Jesus live for another Kingdom – now we pray that we can continue to
live as a citizen of the Kingdom of God no matter who is in political
power.  We still retain our prophetic voice and we still have the call
of God ringing in our hearts and ears…so despite what has changed, it
in many respects remains the same.  So, let's start praying…"

We’re in “God’s camp”

Genesistp2
"Now as Jacob when on his way, the angels of God met him.  And Jacob said when he saw them, "this is God's camp".  So he named the place Mahanaim (i.e. "two camps")."  Genesis 32:1-2

There are two camps that God is in…his own and ours (which is really his).  In fact, they overlap…wherever we go, we are in God's presence.  Truth be told – God has already set up camp wherever we go…God is moving, acting, redeeming, loving, challenging, convicting, and filling the place with his unmistakable touch. 

We make a mistake to think that we go to places where God is not…when we "take the gospel to the ends of the earth" (even though that might mean across our street), God is already there.  As we rationalize the demonization of a "godless" culture by pointing a finger of condemnation at whatever we disagree with, God is moving in that place where we least expect him.  When we should be looking for what God is already doing in "his camp", we often turn a blind eye and inflate ourselves as if we were going to be able to do something that God missed or neglected.  Our presence makes a difference only in that God's presence was there (wherever "there" is) first. 

What camp has God set up in your life that you are going to discover today or this week?  I'm looking around…how about you?

A book worth reading and an article worth seeing

Ayn_rand_stamp

I'm not an economist..I don't submit to anyone that I really know what I am talking about when we are reflecting on the crisis that our country is facing.  All I know is what I have learned in my life…you can't live beyond your means…you can't live long under the grip of the evil of huge indebtedness.  Giving $$ away is a good thing…but not if you have to borrow it to give it.  Sounds simple enough. 

This article is worth reading.  I saw it quickly the other day but a friend from APU, Dr. Keith Reeves, highlighted it on his facebook page…it is calling out to you to take a peak at it.  Also, it is in reference to a HUGE read that I have played around with but haven't fully "ingested".  I'm going to get back to it.  Ayn Rand's book, Atlas Shrugged, is the book in reference. 

Take a peak at both…these are challenging and fascinating times that are calling us to have some knowledge of how to navigate difficult waters.  More to come…

Church Signs are “white noise” in a Culture of Pluralism and Syncretism

ChurchSign2
George Barna released a new report that discloses that most people in the USA now view Christianity as one of many religious "choices" or "options" in the the "smorgasborg" of culture.  Now people "pick and choose" their religious preferences based upon THEIR beliefs…the church, in this instance, doesn't dictate what people believe…no faith statement or denominational doctrinal position is imposed upon the adherent…rather the individual chooses the faith that best "fits" them (I'm looking for a pair of "relaxed fit" jeans…or is that "boot cut"…oh, let me try both). 

I've known many churches that are still infactuated with their church signs…in a culture of consumeristically driven values and choices, it is time to realize that all church signs are white noise.  They don't gain people's attention…a sign states a brand that a person can care less about unless they are a loyal, "already convinced" customer. 

Good article by Barna..click on the link above and give it a read!