Late last night I learned that President Trump and his wife tested positive for COVID-19. Apparently the Pentagon scrambled E-6 “Doomsday” planes last night as well, in the event the US is attacked. 2020 is an era within itself. Let’s continue to think deeply this week, explore and consider the world around us through the lens of a Christian worldview. Let’s not give up on praying.
Today I commend to you an idea, articles, podcasts an essay and a beautiful song…
Don’t miss the song!
Let us discern this hour like the men of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times.
[Idea]: “An SDS (Students for a Democratic Society – New Left) radical once wrote, “The issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution.” In other words, the cause-whether inner city blacks or women–is never the real cause, but only an occasion to advance the real cause, which is the accumulation of power to make the revolution.” – David Horowitz.
We can disagree on our views of Mr. Horowitz but he is very perceptive here. The Marxist revolutionaries use marginalized people groups as ‘cannon fodder’ as a means to an end (the revolution). This revolution is the complete dismantling of western culture. Ultimately, they intend to undermine and destroy Christianity and the church. That’s not going to happen. All one must do is read the Book of Revelation. But, in the meantime, we must challenge this godless worldview.
[Essay] Fear as cover for False Teaching by Lance Cashion “Fear is the cover of darkness that the enemy uses to infiltrate the church with false teaching and deception. Once inside the walls, false teachers spread a false gospel among the flock – beginning with the “least of these” children and the spiritually immature.” Read more…
[Audio] Why (and How) Christians Should Vote (Breakpoint podcast) “If our faith should make a difference in every aspect of our lives (and it should), it should shape how we think about and live out citizenship, too. To put it bluntly, Christians have both a civic and a Christian responsibility to vote. As my friend Tim Goeglin, vice-president of external and governmental relations for Focus on the Family, put it recently, to vote is the beginning of our civic duty of Christians.” Continue on…
[Audio] Movies and Shows in a Nihilist Key: How Nihilistic Trends Have Impacted the Movie and Television Industry (Theology Pugcast) “Tom introduces the topic by engaging Thomas Hibb’s book: Shows about Nothing. Chris and Glenn join in with many insights and rich analysis.” Listen here…
[Article] Immanentizing the Eschaton by P. Andrew Sandlin “The loss of Christian culture after the Reformation led to a re-divinization of the world, though not of the old pagan pagan variety. Rather, the re-divinization revived the ancient Gnostic heresy — the presence of evil (defined now in secular terms) must be purged from the created world by a cultural or political revolution that molds a utopia on a secular pattern analogous to what orthodox Christian understand as the eternal state…” Read on…
[Article] Real Justice PAC (Influence Watch) “Real Justice PAC was founded by Shaun King, Becky Bond, Zack Malitz, and Michael Kieschnick in 2017 to push left-of-center policing and criminal justice policies. Real Justice PAC supports county prosecutors or district attorneys who support limiting or eliminating cash bail, restricting policing practices that left-of-center activist groups deem abusive, and decriminalizing drug, property, assault, and resisting-arrest offenses.” Read more…
[Podcast] The Church of BLM “In this “freestyle” episode, Darrell and Virgil (“Omaha”) discuss some of the fundamental doctrines that guide the organization Black Lives Matter and how those beliefs are more resemblant of a “church” with its own religion than a political entity seeking social justice.” List here…
[Music] “This Is My Father’s World” by Josh Bales I’ve been listening to Josh’s music for about two years. I got to meet and chat with Josh in Denver at a Colson Fellows residency last year. He was our worship leader for the weekend. When times are dark and trials come, I believe leaders like Josh point us to our Heavenly Father who created all things good. Take a walk outside. Break away for a few hours and enjoy the world around you. Listen here…
Let’s continue to pray, feast on God’s Word and engage the world with a Christian vision that requires action.
In 2009, Kathryn and I had the privilege to spend a week with Dave Ramsey and his team in Cancun Mexico.
We joined about a couple dozen business leaders and their spouses. All of us were striving to grow and/or improve our organizations by developing our personal leadership. Today this program is called “EntreLeadership” (Master Series) and thousands attend every year. Dave’s book by the same name has sold millions of copies and the podcast has gained a massive following (shout out to my pal Dan Tardy).
It is cool to look back and see that we got to participate in a small but powerful begining. Today EntreLeadership has grown as a brand in its own right and continues to have an impact on businesses, nonprofits and churches.
It’s been over 10 years since we were in Cancun with Dave and team. I think it’s time to revisit lessons learned, how I applied them and test their relevance today.
Unity is always on the forefront of good leadership.
Let’s talk about what Dave Ramsey refers to as the “Five Enemies of Unity”. Every organization has a culture. The culture can be healthy and life-giving or toxic and deadly. A good leader will strive to create and cultivate the former and defend against the latter.
Anyone who has a lawn or a garden knows that it requires watering, weeding and maintenance. Left unattended, a beautiful lawn or garden will become overgrown with weeds and overrun with pests in no time. The same goes for the culture in an organization; be it a company, church, nonprofit or your family. A leader must be vigilant in building and maintaining unity. A leader must wake up and fight the enemies of unity like a gardener fights weeds and pests – all the while cultivating unity. It’s a big job! I’d argue that its the most important job of the leader.
Unity is powerful. Unity is biblical.
Christian unity is good, beautiful and true as it demonstrates the fullness of the body working together.
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism…” – Ephesians 4:1-6
A football team does not win the Super Bowl by accident. Individuals may stand out, but ultimately unity is behind the victory.
You may know there are some things you can do to create unity. There are thousands of ‘team building’ programs that can help establish unity. But, what are you doing to protect your organization’s unity?
Subscribe to my blog to join us on this journey. You’ll get content delivered to your inbox as I post.
I chose this particular book because although it was written nearly 40 years ago, it is more relevant than ever today. Francis Schaeffer had an acute awareness of the coming cultural milieu that we find ourselves in as Christians in America. In this cultural moment, we are facing a competing worldview that is completely antithetical to the biblical Christian worldview.
We must keep in mind that there is only one worldview that has the philosophical and theological equipment to birth a nation with the words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” No other worldview or philosophy could have made such a claim.
Since Schaeffer accurately diagnosed the problem decades prior to it emerging in culture. I think it is worth understanding the issues from Schaeffer’s perspective and solutions he offered.
Deep in the soil of our nation, there are the remnants of a good, beautiful and true Christian heritage. But, we find ourselves in a drought in this present darkness. It is time for the Church to dig deep and cultivate the Christian worldview artifacts that remain before they are lost forever. As we follow Christ as our first love, our lives redeem and restore the culture around us as a secondary effect.
“Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.” Revelation 3:2
Beginning on September 11, 2020, we will be reading our Bibles, praying, exploring and discussing Schaeffer’s “A Christian Manifesto.” I will introduce articles, podcasts, videos and even music along the way.
I look forward to sojourning with you for a season.
The word and concept of ‘Reconciliation’ is getting thrown around quite a bit right now. One must understand that ‘reconciliation’ means different things to different people. That is why it is important to define terms up front in a conversation. The best way to get people to define their terms is to ask the question; “What do you mean by that?”
John Stonestreet likes to say, “People are using the same words but different dictionaries.” In other words, the same word may mean different things to different people. If you are using the same words but different dictionaries, you and the other person are having two completely parallel conversations. You are basically talking about two completely different things. You will reach two completely different conclusions. This is frustrating and a waste of time. Not to mention, it can create conflict or exacerbate tensions.
I’m not going to provide multiple nuanced definitions of ‘reconciliation’ floating around the culture. I intend to focus on the Biblical definition of ‘reconciliation’. By focusing on the real thing, it makes it easier to identify the fakes.
What is Reconciliation?
Reconciliation is defined: katallagē (Gk) – an exchange; restoration to favor (between God and man) – adjustment of a difference, restoration to favor. It is the restored relationship / favor between God and a repentant sinner who places his/her trust in Jesus Christ’s atoning death on the cross and His resurrection.
In terms of western culture, reconciliation is a cultural artifact from a Judeo-Christian heritage. No other worldview offers the concept of reconciliation in the way in which we know it today. Even as we sometimes misunderstand or misapply it, reconciliation is a distinctly biblical concept found in the New Testament in particular.
Many (not all) well-meaning Christ-followers who love the Lord have a disordered concept of ‘reconciliation.’ I confess, I have adopted a disordered view in the past. As Christians, we know that “iron sharpens iron”. Therefore, we must be personally vigilant and point each other back to scripture frequently. Words (and their definitions) matter because they shape reality and give meaning to the world around us.
What is Reconciliation for?
(what is the purpose of reconciliation?)
Lets’ begin at the beginning!
1. In the beginning God created all things including human beings (who were made in His image). God said it was “very good.” Humans lived in perfect harmony with God.
2. The Bible states that because of sin our relationship with God is broken (referred to as ‘The Fall’ in Genesis 3). We are born into sin, under God’s judgement and wrath.
3. Because God is Holy and perfectly good, we cannot restore that relationship on our own. There is nothing we can do – no number of good deeds can save us. We need an outside agent to reconcile us with our Creator. We need a Savior.
4. Jesus Christ took our sin upon himself and died on a Roman cross innocent. When he rose from the grave, Jesus reconciled sinful man to a holy and perfect God. He essentially made a path where one did not exist.
5. When a man or woman believes and trusts in the finished work of Christ, he or she is the reconciled with God – the formerly broken relationship is restored. The Bible refers to this as the ‘new of life’ and the condemnation of sin is removed forever.
Therefore, Biblical Reconciliation is primarily a vertical process and relationship between an individual and God mediated through Jesus Christ. All authentic and redeeming qualities of reconciliation flow from this vertical relationship with God as the source. There is NO other source of reconciliation. God is it.
For instance, if I am not reconciled with God first, there is no way I can be reconciled with anyone else. This is a spiritual reality. Furthermore, the other person must be reconciled with God before he/she can be reconciled with me. Nowhere in the Bible will you find a doctrine that teaches that horizontal reconciliation (man to man) is a viable primary option. It is always vertical (man to God – through Christ).
In the absence or rejection of reconciliation with God, all you have is manmade acquiescence or genuflection to another’s power, coercion or emotion. From a Biblical perspective, I argue this is a counterfeit ‘reconciliation’. Why?
Without Christ, we are totally incapable of Christ-exalting good (John Piper). As Paul says in Romans 7:18, “Nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.” In John 15:4 Jesus states, “apart from me you can do nothing.”
Every individual Christ-follower is challenged personally with two questions;
1. Do I believe what the Bible says?
2. Am I willing to live as the Bible instructs and commands?
Disclosure: I am guilty of everything I’m about to say because I’m a sinner too. So, the following is a message for me to hear as well.
Well-meaning Christians who love the Lord seem to turn to manmade / man-centered secular concepts of ‘reconciliation’. Why?
First, while the Bible remains the best-selling book in history, the bible is the least read, studied or understood. Basically, well-meaning Christians don’t know their Bibles. Therefore, they misunderstand and misapply the Gospel of the Kingdom to life and culture.
Second, because the Bible is not viewed as sacred scripture and authoritative but more of a “moral manual.” So, people pick and choose what verses they like in order to validate or support their position or sin patterns. When we treat the bible as a cafeteria-style moral manual, we conveniently sidestep hard truths, conviction, repentance and healthy realignment with God’s Word**
Third, while many well-meaning Christians will claim to believe the bible, their worldview betrays their claims. In other words, how we live our lives reveals what we believe. Many Christians today live as secular humanists or functional atheists without realizing it.
Finally, making manmade or man-centered (horizontal) ‘reconciliation’ primary feeds man’s pride and ego. In addition it gives him a psychological escape hatch from sin. This stems from the sinful trait of self-determinism. In my estimation, man-centered reconciliation reveals our idolatry and fear of man rather than a fear of God.
Biblical Reconciliation begins with our realizing and admitting our sin against God
Psalm 51:4 states the following from an individual perspective, Speaking to God the Psalmist cries, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight…” We sin against God first.
Romans 3:23 encompasses ALL humans who ever lived, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Basically, God has put ALL human beings on notice regarding sin. We are all born in the same sinking ship. Thank God, he sent Jesus to save us.
Does the bible say, “Be reconciled to the world?” Nope, the Bible says the following;
“God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s trespasses against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ: Be reconciled to God.…”
The Great Commission of Christ’s church is to call the world to be reconciled with God, not to call the world to be reconciled with the world. There will be no reconciling the world to the world without God. That is a biblical impossibility and antithetical to the Gospel.
Jesus summed up the Ten Commandments and 613 Jewish laws in two commands.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:37-39
Relationship with God is primary and is the post on which the second hangs. Our message to the world is ‘be reconciled with God!”
In conclusion, it is vitally important to define our terms up front in a conversation. A good way to do that is to ask a question like, what do you mean by that (reconciliation)? As I have pointed out, the Christian must be focused on the primary work of reconciling the lost with God through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We also love our neighbors and even enemies as ourselves (our witness). Biblical reconciliation is quite different from worldly reconciliation… The results are quite different as well.
Live your life the way in which you were saved – by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
** [Section Note] When a Christ-follower is out of line with God’s Word, it grieves the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the believer feels conviction and frustration. The Holy Spirit ceases working through the believer and begins to bring conviction in order to bring about repentance and realignment with God’s Word. This is why I believe that Christians who dabble in non-biblical versions of reconciliation end up feeling frustrated and confused when the world’s version just simply does not work (ever). Keep at it long enough and it will have a callousing effect on the heart and you risk losing the sensitivity to sin – that can lead to backsliding. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit by following worldly philosophies or patterns of living (see Eph. 4:17-32)
Donations can cause supply chain disruptions in neighborhood stores
This is a situation where good intentions can unintentionally cause problems in a local community. What are the unintended consequences of an act of goodwill?
As a local community pastor, I probably receive 2-3 emails or calls per day from nonprofits and agencies asking for supply donations from folks in the community. These requests encompass everything from food, water, PPE, hand sanitizer, diapers, formula, TOILET PAPER, etc. I know many of you receive the same type of requests.
We all want to help! We all NEED to help in some way. However, we need to think through how to help the RIGHT way.
Under normal conditions (non-COVID-19), local stores and supermarkets are very well stocked with essential items. When you or I go to the store, we can buy as much as we need in the full knowledge that what we take off the shelf will be replaced within hours.
You’ve probably noticed the phrase ‘Supply Chain’ mentioned more and more by the media and government officials. The supply chain starts where a product is sourced like a farm or manufacturer. Those goods make their way to distribution centers and then onto the shelves of neighborhood stores where you and I can purchase them.
The COVID-19 Crisis changed everything.
COVID-19 created a panic, which caused people to purchase more essential items and thus putting stress on the supply chain.
What does all this have to do with nonprofits and agencies asking me and you to donate essential items?
Well, unless you and I have a surplus of essential items in our homes to donate, we typically go to our local store to purchase those items. Then we donate them to the organization that is requesting them. While the intention is good and noble, there are unintended consequences.
This can cause supply disruptions in neighborhood stores.
When I go to my local neighborhood store to buy additional items to donate to an agency in need, I am taking those essential items off the shelf at a time when supply chains are stretched thin. Restocking those items may take days rather than hours depending on the item and location of the store.
There are those in our neighborhoods who depend on the availability of essential items in local stores. The elderly couple on fixed income may be able to go to the store once per week to purchase essential items. If I purchase items before they do with the intent of donating them to another area of need in my community, I’ve unintentionally created a problem – a disruption for that elderly couple. They must go without or ask for help.
Again, we’re all trying to help. But we need to be thoughtful of how we help and source supplies in this current COVID-19 crisis because supply chains are crucial on a micro-level.
How can we help the right way? I have a couple ideas.
1. If you want to donate essential items, give from your stockpile first instead of going to your local store. Even a few cans of food, a box of formula, etc can go a long way to helping a family in need.
2. If you do purchase from a local store, limit your purchase to a couple items to donate. Make sure to leave something on the shelves for others in your community.
3. Call your local store manager and ask them when they restock and time your visit. Again, limit your purchases.
4. Instead of donating essential items, ask the nonprofit or agency if you can donate money. Encourage them to source their needs at the distributor level instead of the neighborhood level. Big box stores and grocers will often help nonprofits source much needed items.
5. Help your community nonprofits connect with larger nonprofits and community resources that have access to distributors higher up the supply chain. Organizations like the United Way, Salvation Army and local food banks have greater supply chain access. Collaboration is everything. Help organizations work together to solve problems and ensure supplies get to the front lines the right way while preserving supplies in neighborhoods.
I hope this is helpful in helping you think through how we can avoid causing disruptions in local supply chains. Your elderly and immune-compromised neighbors with benefit from thoughtful giving.
Seeing people’s faces raises moral and lowers stress.
As Local Outreach Pastor during the COVID19 pandemic, the church is faced with new challenges when it comes to connecting and serving people. While most folks know how to use social media and communications platforms like its second nature, we must consider those who may not know how to use technology to connect.
Think about the elderly widow who is isolated but she has a smart phone. She may not be aware of the capabilities at her fingertips. The objective is to help you help others connect face to face using technology.
Below are some simple videos and instructions you can share with others. Help those feeling isolated and lonely connect. Be their buddy and the face that brings them hope and comfort.
Let’s help our neighbors connect during quarantine during this COVID19 situation. Let’s keep relationships and loving our neighbors at the forefront of our minds while we exercise proper precautions like social-distancing and self-quarantining.
This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of my employer or my church. The opinions of expressed by guest authors and commenters do not necessarily represent my opinions.