Monthly Archives: January 2015

Our American Sniper

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”  -G. K. C.

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” -G. K. C.

You shouldn’t have to take more than a couple of steps outside of a movie theater to realize that this is a place worth fighting for.  And to fight is to sacrifice.  Unfortunately, this is not apparent to a lot of people these days.  Because evil isn’t just, over there, it’s here too.  And not just in the sense that we are all fallen, that we all have sin, but it is deliberate and more pronounced in some.  Some people don’t appreciate good when it is right in front of their face, and some people actively fight for evil, right here in the good old U. S. A..

Chesterton said that what’s important about a myth or legend isn’t what it says about the person, but what it says about the people who hold onto that myth.  Every story is a partial story, it isn’t a complete tape recording it is a picture, painted with words, an art.  Every man who walks this earth has flaws, but there truly are great men.  Only a fool spends his life destroying these men or telling stories about their flaws.  It’s not important if every detail of the movie is an exact replica of the life of Kyle.  Of course ugly parts were passed over and his achievements were glorified.  America loves the book version of Chris Kyle, America loves the movie version of Chris Kyle and that’s not a bad thing.  Because we become like our heroes.

In the sixties movies about the wonders of free and open sex were aplenty, like The Graduate.  Adultery was actually illegal in California at the time!  And soon after it wasn’t, and soon free and open sex were everywhere.  In the eighties Van Halen was Hot for Teacher, and today you can read about female teachers having sex with their students almost daily.  When you idolize bad ideals, you get bad people.  Is it really so bad to lift up a man for his remarkable accomplishments, even if he was very flawed?  I don’t think so.  Our children need role models.  I wonder how many of these critics would like to have the entire force of the media picking through their lives with a fine tooth comb.  Which is why we still know nothing of Obama’s past.  It has been erased by strong arming and bribes.  Those who mock traditional heroes, make a mockery of themselves, they have heroes too, just the wrong kind of heroes.  Heroes such as Clinton or Kennedy, no one even bothers to cover up their evil, they just lower the standards.  And so today often sex isn’t sex and lying and sleeping around are fine. Because too many people picked bad heroes.

There are many heroes in the Bible.  Abraham, Issac and Jacob, Moses and Elijah, or David.  I remember mentioning that these men were ‘righteous’ to a friend and he was making fun of me because these man had flaws.  I pointed out that it wasn’t I who called them righteous, but scripture itself.  They are also called “a man after God’s own heart” and “men of faith”.   Their flaws should be a warning, but that should not overshadow the importance of remembering their greatness.

So, just what does this movie say about our culture?  First of all it says that we are divided.  There are a lot of people who hate this movie and a lot more who love it.  Of the latter, it says that they love someone willing to get up off the couch of their own selfish life, and protect the innocent.  It says that they love someone who has sex before marriage. Ok America you get a fail on this one.  It says that they love someone who is willing to stare evil in the face and deal with it.  It says that they love someone who is very good at what he does.  It says that they love someone who gives up what he loves for his family.  It says that we realize that excellence is the result of hard work and trials.  It says that we have a place for the Bible even if it’s only in our breast pocket. It says that we would love it if the Middle East would spend their afternoons watching movies instead of living like barbarians and trying to kill us.

But there is the other side, the evil within.  Their heroes are Woodward and Bernstein, the iconoclasts.  Because we all know there is nothing good in this world.  Well, except for whatever you feel like.  Their heroes are similar to the hero of the Middle East, the Prophet.  A bloodthirsty, lazy, caveman, coward, polygamist, who married into money and fell into fame by a scheme so good it could have only been made possible by Satan himself.  No I’m not talking about our Secretary of State, John Kerry, I’m talking about Muhammed. Hollywood and academia love this type of hero.  Which is why the Tsarnaev brothers didn’t really stand out at Harvard.  Hollywood spends most of their time trying to destroy the heroes of middle America like Kyle.  But they are not without their own heroes, men like Castro, Che, Mao, Marx, Darwin, and even Lucifer himself.  As Bill Ayers, hero mentor of both Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama, dedicated his book to Lucifer.  Ok you can have your Michael Moore.  We are quite happy with Clint Eastwood and his myth.  Someday our kids will give their lives to protect the lazy bastard children of your hollywood academia.

 

 

New Mountains Made Old

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. -Mark 9:2

That should be all we need to call to mind other mountains in scripture.  Mountains are very important, they are where you meet God.  Jerusalem is often referred to as a mountain.  It too is where God’s people meet God.  Other details in the story should connect this with another prophet who went up a mountain to talk to God, Moses (Exodus 32-34).  Jesus became radiant white and a cloud came over them and from it the voice of God. Moses too became radiant, and his face shone even after leaving the mountain.  God also spoke to Moses from a cloud. And as if that wasn’t blatant enough Jesus and his disciples actually met Moses.

Raphael, The Transfiguration.

Raphael, The Transfiguration.

Peter wasn’t that far off in wanting to build tents or tabernacle with God on this mountain. The first time we see Abraham climbs up a mountain he pitches a tent and builds an alter to the Lord(Genesis 12:8).  Moses had done something similar, he had been on the mountain so long the people were getting anxious.  And after all God had set up his people on the mountain of Moriah in Jerusalem, around his temple.  Camping out with God is a good thing.  But this time is different.  Mountains and God had often been instances of death.  Elijah  plus God on the mountain equalled a bunch of dead false prophets, via fire from heaven.  When Moses went up the mountain he came down to find the people worshiping a golden calf and 3000 of the false leaders were killed.  I always thought it was interesting that Aaron doesn’t seem to get any of the blame.  He blames the people for their unbelief.

So, it’s interesting that in Mark they weren’t allowed to camp, but they come down the mountain to a kerfuffle.  The people and the leaders are in disarray.  This time only the demon is defeated, the people are spared, but Jesus criticizes them for their unbelief.  ““O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me”  Then the boy is healed, not killed.  This is a different kind of kingdom, than they were expecting.  This is a kingdom fighting spiritual war.  Jesus comes down the mountain and instead of leading Israel to fight the Philistines and conquer the land.  He enters the land and conquers a demon, one of many during his ministry.  And just as the people were afraid to enter the land flowing with milk and honey, so too are they afraid to take care of the demon.  It is very similar.  I gave you this land, just go take it.  I gave you power to move mountains now do it.  Mark doesn’t focus on any sin the disciples might have been guilty of, as Matthew does.  You could almost take the last line of the story as saying, you can’t fix the hearts of all the people, you just have to pray for them.  And so we learn that even if the leaders are faithful it doesn’t matter, if the people have no faith.

We, the church, are about a slightly different work than the people of Israel. But it is still about the hearts of the people.  It should be remembered that the faithless generation Jesus criticized was judged.  About 40 years later the emperor Titus marched into Jerusalem and packed off the articles of the temple.  Every person who clung to the old order and fought for the glory and restoration of the temple in Jerusalem was killed, down to the last man at Masada.  While the church heeded Jesus message (Mark 13:14) and they fled to the hills and lived to fight another day.  They worship at a new temple, the body of Christ (John 2:19).

Building Worship Schism

What if we all started training all the children of the next generation in a different language?  From now on all the schools are teaching only in Russian.  You know there are the standard reasons, Russia is the future, says someone with some fancy title.  Russian is statistically something, bla bla bla. At some point there is going to be a battle between the old timers who speak English and their damn kids who now speak Russian.  That’s just the reality.  Groups of people need unifying language, instances of different languages, are cause for division.  Oh sure you can carry out the daily business of government in one language and translate it, or alternate or some such.  But it really doesn’t work.  At some point you have to pick a language.

No I didn’t make it up. This is real from some sort of ministry training site.

The funny thing is we are literally doing this in our country.  We are raising up a huge population of people in Spanish.  But the church has also done this with the language of worship.  We scuttled off all our little ones during the service so they wouldn’t interrupt the taping of the sermon with their beautiful cacophony of little voices.  Then we scuttled them off in junior high and high school, to their hip praise bands and messages catered specifically to them.  Then in college we scuttled them off again.  Oh aren’t they so cute.  With their rock music and their progressive, contemporary dumbed-down messages.  But then they got a little older and they wanted back into the main service.  And they didn’t want adult fodder, they wanted their special pre-formed chicken nuggets.  And now the battle is being waged in churches across this land.  The leadership of old has built disunity, they have encouraged schism.  Oh sure you could have ‘traditional’ services in the morning and ‘contemporary’ services in the evening.  Really you just have two churches that meet under one roof.  Or you could alternate each week, but eventually there will be a division.

I remember noticing this as I was growing up.  You had fun camp songs for camp and youth group and then adult songs in church.  I always wanted to be an adult, which I still believe is actually the point of raising children, so I was always waiting for my peers to grow up and become adults.  It never happened, and what did happen was that the adults all started acting more like kids.  The message was dumbed down and the standard for music became,  about how it attracted the young people.  This is bad.  These young people never spent time learning how to be adults, because they were always off by themselves, with some ‘leader’ slightly older than themselves, teaching them to love being children.  And if your church doesn’t cater to them they will take their ball and go on a Journey to a church that will.

The same is true of our culture at large.  A few years ago I went back to college again.  The first core class was a sit-in-a-circle and dialogue Kool-Aid party, about how your parents and every Judeo-Christian is completely wrong.  Embrace our new atheism or else!  So I left, I’m sick of paying people to lie to me.  This is semi-rural Montana.  Do you think the ‘Universities’ in the rest of the country are teaching traditional values?  No, they are teaching the next generation a different language.  The post-Christian language of warm fuzzy socialist utopias.  This has been going on for a few generations and so you have and will continue to have battles.  Occupy Wall Street, comes to mind.  And it is a joke.  Little children unable to cope with a real world where six foot children with three degrees in anti-Christian b. s. , have a rough go of it.  The conflict will continue.  And I might actually put my money on Putin’s Russia.

It seems to me that the first thing we need to do is train our children to be adults.  Stop catering to them and feeding the mentality that every generation is supposed to rebel.  Civilization is quite the opposite, what distinguishes us from the animals is that we can pass on wisdom and achieve more every generation.  But we have instead become animals, too stupid to pass on the rich wisdom of the ages.  We can’t pride ourselves in how much we destroy and then expect civilization to continue.  Of course there will be many challenges in dealing with the perpetual children we have already created, but we need to stop the bleeding.

Second we need to stop feeding the culture of academia.  Why do seminaries accept pagan education as a prerequisite?  Why are the few remaining orthodox colleges selling out more each day? Why do missions organizations and churches look at secular academic credentials before character and faith credentials?  We need to stop pretending it is doing anyone any good.  Like Christian reformers of many generations we need to separate ourselves and behave like the God of the Universe told us to behave.  Don’t let the idolators of the world teach your children another language.  Teach them to conform to the living God.  Build your own schools, the world’s system will fall apart and they will come running.  The same way they flock to this country.  It has happened many times before.

So stop sewing division, and plant some unity.  Unite your children with the vast wealth of wisdom historic Christians have to offer.  It will be difficult, admitting that you are not all you could be.  It will be difficult growing up yourself.  But by the grace of God, this is what we are called to do.  We are a people of light to the world.  We shouldn’t be following their silly ideas of multiculturalism and agnosticism.   We should be eating meat and not sucking at the tit of academia for all the godless drivel they spew. We should be following the commands of Almighty God and emulating the life of his Son.

I was sparked by this sermon:  http://www.canonwired.com/featured/1818/

Grandiose Delusions

There are so many false religions and crazy philosophies out there these days.  And then there are just plain crazy people.  I could go on all day about the Catholics, Charismatics, or Mormons, but I think I will just attack straight up crazy today.  According to wikipedia “Grandiose delusions are principally a subtype of delusional disorder that occurs in patients suffering from a wide range of mental illnesses”.  Oh thanks that helps a lot, sounds like the average sinner to me.  But these really are funny, people actually think they are famous, or some sort of royalty, or even the King of England!   Can you believe that?

I’m not sure I believe that, but I do believe that the heart of man is deceitfully wicked.  And I’m not sure how this weeks sermon unveiled that or pushed anyone towards something better, towards Christ.  Bashing the false religions of the world is a little strange but “think on the things of heaven” and then ending there seemed quite vapid, quite crazy.  The best parts of the story were cut out.  What does it mean to think about heavenly things?  What about facing the glaring reality that we can’t do it, without Christ?

“What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
says the Lord;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
and the fat of well- fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
or of lambs, or of goats.
“When you come to appear before me,
who has required of you
this trampling of my courts?
Bring no more vain offerings;
incense is an abomination to me.  Isaiah 1:11-13

God did say this to his people, but to portray them as perfect outward conformity with internal deadness is crazy.  Though I have heard it may times.   All it takes is a little context, they may have been doing these things, but they were ignoring the majority of the law.  They offered sacrifices, to Yahweh, but he was just one of many in their pantheon.  And their lives reflected this chaos, it wasn’t just a secret heart issue that was on display or in need of remedy.  They needed different actions, real, external actions. Keep reading verse sixteen.

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
learn to do good;
seek justice,
correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause

This is a list of things to do.  Of course they couldn’t do it without the grace of God.  Of course it’s representative and not exhaustive, but it is a list.  And neither can we have a correct heart or a correct focus without Jesus. But if we have the Spirit we should act like it externally.  It’s not just about theoretical, abstract beliefs.  This is how God’s people should act.

Paul seems to be always pushing this point.  In Colossians it is made very clear.  He does say we should “set our minds on the things above and not the things below”, but it is in the middle of the book.  The things of earth are a reality, it was no mystery to them. What is the context?  Paul is suffering, they are being persecuted, there are false teachers lying to them and making up rules about food, and there are countless temptations to sin.  It’s not much different from today.  And the temptation to live as if this was all there was, is real to us.  So then Paul says, “set your minds on the things above”.  What are the things above?  Christ.  And how did he get above?  He died.  Your baptism was a picture of that, if you want to be raised on high, to heaven, you must die.  Get your desires and worries and all the selfishness of this world, out of the way.

What is Christ doing on high, in glory?  He is reigning as a king on his throne.  We don’t have the best view of kings these days.  But we still look to our political leaders to provide good things for us. The ideal king of the Old Testament was a sacrificial, humble leader who applied his wisdom to accomplish the list Isaiah used above.  Christ, the perfect king is reigning on high. And Paul says “we will also appear with him in glory.”  We are sons of the king people!  That crazy guy above, who thought he was the King of England, was closer to sanity than many Christians.  We are royalty in heaven despite what it looks like here on earth.  So act like it!  The news this very day is full of stories of British royalty who are not acting like it.  The press loves it, but it is a great shame to our sister nation.  Prince Harry is always running around with scantily clad women and now it looks like Prince Andrew is abusing young girls.  They are not acting like royalty, they are giving their country a bad name.  This is what it looks like when Christians act like the world.  We give our king, Jesus, a bad name.

So Paul goes on.  We are royalty, we have been given a position we didn’t deserve or earn, so act like it.  He gives us a list.  He doesn’t just end with “think about heaven in 2015,[corny guitar solo] bye”.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. . . But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, . . .

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye- service, as people- pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person

This is how the heirs of the King are supposed to act.  So go and make your king proud.  It’s a privilege.  Don’t let it end with a theory.  Don’t throw up your hands and call me a legalist.  Love him because he first loved you.