Archive for the 'Christianity' Category

21
Sep
10

Hope…Don’t Misplace it

We’ve heard a lot about “hope” recently…and been let down.  It reminded me of a Word of the day I shared with the men of eNgage a couple of years ago.  I pressed this to encourage you, reader, to put your hope in the right place-where you won’t be let down, but where you will be blown away as you realize your hopes were so much smaller than what your Creator planned, and did, for you.  This is but a piece of the “Good News” of Christianity-if you want a fuller picture, let me know.  For now, enjoy this encouragement to put your hope in Jesus.

I want to share with you a devo is out of Isaiah 42:1-4 (also referenced in Matt 12:21), you can feel free to turn there or read the TNIV below:

The Servant of the LORD

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight;

I will put my spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.

He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.

A bruised reed he will not break and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.

In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;

he will not falter or be discouraged until he establishes justice on the earth.

In his name the nations will put their hope.”

I don’t know how many of you are wanting to be involved in politics or public service, but Lord willing I will run for an elected office or two in the future.  A recent speaker who spoke at Chapel for the undergrad pointed out that both McCain and Obama in their respective election night speeches exalted America as the “hope of the world”…so far I think God is humbling our pride by making us eat those words and see just what a “hope” our nation is apart from Him.  We do not send the rain so that the California Central Valley can send food to the world or so ranchers in Texas can raise cattle for meat that will nourish others—God does.  That train of thought led me to the above verse.

The verse is of course a prophecy about Jesus and there are a few things that I wanted to point out (in addition to what the Holy Spirit points out to you):

“He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.”

-The message and truth of Christ is what it is; it does not require eloquence or complexity or a feature length film with special effects and graphics to affect mankind.  It is powerful.  It is always relevant.  We as men are imperfect and irreconcilable to our Creator and doomed to spend eternity apart from him, BUT God sent his son Jesus to “redeem” us-sacrificing his perfect life to be tortured and crucified so that our sin would be atoned for and we can not only now spend an eternity with our Creator, but we can live our lives on earth with victory and freedom from the sin that once held us in bondage.  Those who surround us are hungry for this message.  We need only share it with them-simply and consistently.

“A bruised reed he will not break and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out”

-No matter what has happened to us or the severity of the sin we have committed or if we have turned from God, Jesus is always freely offering to redeem us-we need only ask.  He will not give us any reason to turn from him-for he will always be treating us in love.  He will always graciously give us the choice to accept him or not

Hope streetsign on same pole as a one way sign

“In His name the nations will put their hope”

-The name of Jesus is powerful because of what it means to us and to humankind.  Jesus is our savior, our redeemer, our constant help in times of trouble, our lover, our protector, and he will never fail.  We may not be able to put our hope in our nation or in Wall Street, but we know that we can always put our hope in Jesus Christ.  No matter what you are concerned about, give it to Godand trust in him.  He can be trusted.  He is our hope.

God bless gentlemen

Jonathan

Sola scriptura, Sola fide, Sola gratia, Solo Christo, Soli Deo gloria

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19
Sep
10

Where’s the Gold?

master blacksmith shaping metalWhere’s your gold?  Recently, we talked about being “metal men,” or men who are ready to be used for God’s nobler purposes according to 2 Timothy 2:20-21:

20In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. 21If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

We then read the story of Joseph and challenged each other to “find the gold” that has been put in each of us by God: the gifts, the talents, and the character that we display for the world when we are at our best.

I challenge you to do the same.  Take some time to think about the man you are-not the titles you have or the roles you fill (such as salesman, director, student, husband, father, etc…), but that which was woven into who you were created to be by God.  When you take the time to find the gifts, talents, and character of who you are and when you know who you long to be at your core, you can live out of that strength and use the gifts God has placed in you to make a difference in the world around you for the Kingdom of God.

Here’s an example of what I put down:

Jesus guiding his disciples through the storm“I am a restorer: I work to redeem that which is fallen, broken, or lost; working to transform it into that which is forgiven, healed, and rooted.  This applies to people and relationships, but also to areas of this world.

I seek to lead with a quiet strength: leading others with a consistent and sure example-knowing that I am a son of the Most High God, established in His Truth, and assured of His love.”

I am a protector: I fight to advance my Father’s kingdom and establish beachheads of peace, hope, and rest in a battleground of turmoil and despair.

I am a guide: I point those who would seek it to God’s perspective and Truth.

As a group, eNgage is now trying to live out of our statements of who God created us to be.  This is impossible if we rely on our own strength, but when we put our faith in God and look to Him to be our strength, we know that God will use us to transform this world.

Gentlemen, I challenge you to know who you are and who you were created to be and then to go out and make this world a better place.  Your words and actions can bring a blessing or a curse to the people around you.  Find the gold God knit within you, allow Him to refine you and let the former be true as you live out who you were created to be.

Want some accountability?  Post your statement below for your brothers to see.

Jonathan

Sola scriptura, Sola fide, Sola gratia, Solo Christo, Soli Deo gloria

03
Jul
10

Saving Society

Most days, I try to make my monotonous, hour-long commute into downtown Los Angeles profitable via talks, lectures, or sermons by great leaders, thinkers, and preachers. Dr. Vishal Mangalwadi has become one of my favorites. If you’ve never been exposed to his work, let me highly recommend Must the Sun Set on the West? No matter your religious or political persuasion, I guarantee you’ll find yourself challenged as India’s foremost Christian intellectual unpacks Western culture and details its heritage.

This week, I found Mangalwadi’s “From Monasteries to the Twin Towers: The Crumbling Spirituality of Capitalism” to be particularly timely. Let me apologize in advance for the length of my explanation.

There have been many times in recent months where I have found myself asking “What the Hell is going on!?!” I turn on the news to see Muslim suicide bombers blowing themselves up to kill innocent people, both Muslim and non-Muslim alike, all over the world. Closer to home, I see an inept Federal government populated by corrupt, self-serving politicians, beholden to special interests, passing bills they haven’t read, and making policies that punish ‘good’ behavior to reward the ‘bad.’ I see unscrupulous and greedy bankers and businesspeople who have driven the global economy into the ground while executives continue to pocket tens of millions of dollars for themselves. I see flagrantly immoral ‘entertainment’ in every medium, glorifying illicit behavior and irresponsibility. And, I see men gorging themselves on porn as they float the ever-quickening current toward the increasingly well-documented waterfall of impotence that awaits them.

Did I mention that the Gulf of Mexico is filling up with oil?

Our society is in social and economic tatters, and if there’s any light at the far end of the tunnel, it’s a train.

So, just what the Hell is going on?

We’ve become the master of our own destiny, that’s what. Wasn’t there some kind of aphorism about sowing and reaping? As Dr. Mangalwadi discusses in the talk referenced above, we have chosen to divorce ourselves from the foundations of Western culture and are thus facing the consequences. Hell is going on.

You see, after the Reformation, European monks picked up on the notion of ‘calling’ evident throughout the New Testament, and most particularly in the writings of the Apostle Paul. Given to lives of service to God and committed to work, these monks inadvertently laid the foundations of Western capitalism. As they specialized in the production of different products (e.g., wine for the church) and their operations grew, they developed the early management and accounting principles that gave rise to those we apply today. These men saw purpose in life via the ‘calling’ to work in all things for the glory of the Christian God. Interestingly, these monks also took vows of poverty that established the humility necessary to manage the people and money their operations accrued.

However, modern society has divorced itself from these shackles of Judeo-Christian thought and assumed carte blanche. Thanks to the influence of four modern men, we no longer need worry about humility or honoring any god but ourselves.

The men we have to thank for the modern state of affairs are Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, and Charles Darwin. As Dr. Mangalwadi so eloquently expounds, these individuals had other ideas about the centralities of life. Marx said money; Nietzsche said power; Freud said sex. Society gradually bought in; and, planted in the fertile soil of the tenets inherent in Darwinian macro-biological evolution, these philosophies took root and blossomed into the catastrophe we see around us today. Our society’s divorce from its Judeo-Christian foundations has led to a loss of humility before God, and therein self-restraint. Instead, we’re faced with the precipitant arrogance and depravity that has manifested itself in the corruption and immorality we see in politics, business, and entertainment, as noted. This will not change until we change.

But how, given the tumult?

Some hope in serendipity, but we need to hope in Providence.

My wife and I went to see Toy Story 3 last night.  Before the show, one of the previews was a spot from The Foundation for a Better Life. (You can see it here.) I thoroughly enjoyed the commercial, and appreciated its message; however, I was also bothered by it. Why? Because humanistic notions of morality are innately amorphous and ephemeral, and thus not robust enough to mitigate humanity’s natural depravity. Yes, they are ‘good,’ but they are also helplessly adrift like a sailboat that’s lost its mooring. This is because they don’t actually have a mooring – they aren’t tied to anything. Thus, as with a boat drifting loose on the water, people see and take notice. They find humanistic morality appealing and relevant, but ultimately inadequate.

The potency required for changing our world will only be found in morality moored to an absolute – anchored to something that won’t allow for drifting. Gentlemen the mooring I am referring to is your Christian faith, and it’s the only thing that can shore up our world.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Matthew 7:24-27

Men, society needs us to eNgage! Look around you as Jesus’ words once again ring true: The rain is coming down. The streams are rising. The winds are blowing and beating. What do you see happening?

There is a solution, and it starts with our engagement. This nation does not have to fall “with a great crash” on our watch, and neither does the rest of the world. But averting the disaster will require long-term change, and it will be difficult.

As men, we need to pick up on the notion of ‘calling’ and then dedicate ourselves to working in all things for the glory of God. This means we need to dedicate ourselves to excellence in the arenas to which He has called us. This means we need to be willing to shrug off complacency and comfort in favor of taking steps of faith toward our dreams. Are you called to law, business, public policy, formal ministry, music, or athletics? What have you done about it lately? Don’t be caught with your pants around your ankles or your Xbox controller in hand when society is crashing down around you.

As men, we also need to cultivate the humility necessary to respect God, love each other, restrain ourselves, and manage that which He gives us appropriately. This means we need to be asking God for wisdom. This means we need to be making the daily decision to be the men we know God has created us to be, moment by moment, hour by hour. How’s your walk with God? Are you seeking him for wisdom and guidance? Don’t assume you can skate through society’s depravity unscathed.

As men, we also need to be purposeful in developing transparent, armor-bearing relationships with one another. As you probably already know, that’s what eNgage is all about: Purposeful relationships. Young men helping each other live God-honoring lives, pursue excellence, and be the men God has called us to be in our marriages and families as husbands and fathers, our companies as employers and employees, and our governments as lawmakers.

If we can do these things, I think we have a shot. Our influence can establish justice and morality in our institutions, and Godliness in our society. If we can’t…

I think our alternatives are well-established.

“The fear of the LORD leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.”

Proverbs 19:23

– Jer

28
Jun
10

The Cross

The cross is a symbol often seen but little understood.  Its cultural heritage, and more importantly its crowning moment have been diluted, obscured and forgotten.   This current cultural symbol and former method of execution witnessed the death of the greatest man to ever live, in the most significant moment in history.  The man is Jesus Christ, and this moment, redeemed the course of you and I.  While the cross of Christ traveled the road to Golgotha, the cross as an Icon had a long journey before it.  Two thousand years, seven great councils, two epic splits, thousands of splinter denominations, a reformation, and a crusade later, the Cross arrived in twenty ten.  But in order to understand what it is now, we have to know what it was then.

Their leader publically claimed to be God.  So they killed him.  However, he happened to be the one man who conquered death, inspiring a cult like following.  His followers lived a culture of the cross in an age when the Cross meant death.  They lived so boldly and spoke so passionately; their beliefs spread across the globe and have endured millennia.  They endured extreme persecution, lest we forget that the mighty Roman Empire initially saw Christianity as a cult; a “pernicious superstition.”  Emperor Nero used this “pernicious superstition,” which he called Christianity, as a scapegoat for the burning of Rome in 64 A.D., promptly crucifying those following Jesus.  It is essential to understand that personal association with the cross meant death, torture, and the cult of Christ.  This culture understood the cross and all it’s implications.  Just 70 years before Christ’s birth, the Roman Empire had suppressed the rebel revolts led by Spartacus and crucified an estimated 6,000 people along the two hundred km road between Capua and Rome. For the following four hundred years, the cross was a sign warning rebels, not a symbol worn by rock stars.  Not until Constantine’s Edict of Milan in 313 A.D did cultural tolerance of the Christian religion begin its long journey to social acceptance. That trajectory has placed the cross two thousand years later where we see it now:

A disrespected, displaced, disloyal icon stripped of its power and the man who made it powerful.  I don’t have enough fingers to count the number of times each day I see crosses tattooed on giant biceps at the gym or across the midriff of some tinny-bikini touting female at the beach.  Problem is, many of these people are deluded into thinking the cross has more to do with 50 cent than Jesus.  A mighty shift has occured, and:

When we use the cross for gain, slap it on every consumer good, hang it on every necklace, and begin to see it as a shape not a symbol; something’s terribly wrong.

If you want to tattoo a cross on your forehead, great. But, when people ask you about it, don’t be so ignorant to think it’s trendy, because in truth it shows you a rebel marked for death, but by God’s grace one who might receive life instead.

If you do rock a cross: on your shirt, your shoes, your arm, or your car, live like you know the man who died on that symbol to give you life.  Help others see, that although we live in a cross-culture, there are those among us who still live a culture of the cross.




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Wednesday Jan 26th 2011
8:00 AM - George Page Commons

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