Saturday, October 29, 2011

"Jumping the Shark!"-Part One

What comes to your mind when you think of Martin Luther and the Diet of Worms? Was this an early form of a fad diet in 15th century Germany? After all, just a few years ago you could find advertisements in magazines for tapeworms. Just swallow a few of these, the ad would say, and you can lose weight without really trying. Our brand is even hygienic for your good health, it would say! But, a Diet of Worms? Our form of the English language can be a fascinating thing. We can only imagine how strange it seems to others when they attempt to learn and speak our brand of English.

Martin Luther, as many of you well know was the father of the Protestant Reformation. Martin was born in eastern Germany in 1483. This was only some forty years after Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press. Martin Luther protested some of the practices in the Catholic Church of that time. A diet was a judicial hearing or court. Worms was the German city where the trial was to be held. And now, as the late Paul Harvey would often say, you know the rest of the story.

History demonstrates that at various times and different locations, the Christian church has veered off and even jumped the track. God calls out men and women, grounded in His Holy Word, the Bible, to steer the Christian Church back into the right direction. He has done this from Old Testament times until the present age in which we now live. The bigger question is whether or not the church of today will listen.

Recently, a well known television pastor and evangelist (Click for the interview) was asked what he thought about the Mormon faith. This was in response to recent criticism of a particular political candidate. The tele-evangelist’s answer seemed logical, and probably sounded OK to much of today’s Biblically illiterate culture. He said he probably would not agree with everything he Church of Latter Day Saints would teach. He went on to say that they were probably not the purest form of Christianity…that recognizing Jesus as the Son of God was the most important thing. The thing this well known evangelist neglected to consider is that the Mormon Church does not believe that virgin birth of Jesus Christ happened by any miraculous means.

All genuine Christianity is built on the foundation of what seemed to be a small detail to him. God sent His perfect, sinless Son, born of a virgin to be a sacrifice for mankind’s sin. Christ became sin for us on the cross at Calvary that we might have eternal life. The virgin birth is of utmost importance because sin is passed through the blood of each generation. Because Mary was impregnated by the Holy Spirit, Christ was born without sin!

Back in the 1970’s there was a popular television called Happy Days. As with most television shows, ratings decline the longer a program remains on the air. In an effort to gain a ratings boost, the Happy Days gang went on a beach vacation. In one particular scene Fonzi is seen wearing his famous leather jacket while on water skis. Still on the skis he then jumps over a shark to the cheers of everyone on the beach. Because of this particular scene, movie and television critics invented a new name for programs that leave common sense behind and go off into a strange direction. It’s called “Jumping the Shark!” My friends, there are many churches today that have jumped the shark!

The bigger question today is…how do we as a The Church get back on track? I would like to focus on several things today that I personally believe would get our church and nation headed back into the right direction based on God’s Word.

I. A Return to Christian Community: When I say church, I’m talking about the church as a whole. I’m not criticizing our church, Boonville Wesleyan Church. We are just a part of a much larger picture, Christ’s church, the entire Christian Community. Union with Christ establishes our membership in His Church, the community of the faithful. I’m afraid that because many times we as Christians have put so much emphasis on a personal relationship, that we forget we are all called to work together to be the light of the world. As an individual we belong to Boonville Wesleyan Church. Our church is part of the Indiana South District of The Wesleyan Church. Our district is part of The Wesleyan Church USA. And of course, all churches that believe that Jesus is Savior and Lord are part of the Kingdom of God. The first step the church of today must take in getting back on track is accountability. We must remain true to the Word of God and in fellowship with the entire Christian Community of believers that are striving to do the same.

II. A Return to Christian Social Witness: What do I mean when I speak of a social Christian witness? John Wesley once said, ”Any religion that can be concealed is not Christianity.” What do you think Wesley meant when he made that statement? As you study his life it becomes quite clear. The England of Wesley’s day had become very corrupt. Alcoholism was very rampant in the streets. Children could be hanged for stealing rabbit from a gentlemen’s estate. Not much different than today is it? Florida is the leading state to treat children as adults with over 300 under the age of eighteen in the adult prison system. Florida is followed closely by Texas. I’m sorry folks, regardless of the crime, a twelve year old boy is not an adult and does not deserve life in prison! I would not want to be in the judge’s shoes who sentenced a child for personal political gain when the King of Kings judges him. Jesus tells us about the fate of those who mistreat children. And just as the early Wesleyans constantly decried the evils of slavery…we should cry out to God for our leaders who justify the nearly 4000 thousand children who are murdered each day in their mother’s womb. God tells us clearly that the children’s innocent blood cries out from the ground to Him.

Early Wesleyans and like-minded Christians of other faiths worked to reform the prison system, end slavery, and feed the poor. A Social Gospel is putting into action what we believe and know in our heart is right based on what the Bible clearly shows us. . That is what it means to be salt and light. This is putting the golden rule into action. True revival brought about the needed social change in England. The answer to America’s problems is true spiritual revival, not more laws and political rhetoric.

Many would look for a political or presidential candidate to solve the problems.

Someone once said,” Why do we choose from just two people to run for president and fifty for Miss America?” Good question!

Both major political parties have had periods of time when they experienced complete control with the presidency and both houses of congress. If being democrat or being republican were the only answer, then our problems should have been solved by now. If you seek God in honest prayer, He will guide you in selecting a candidate, nationally or locally.

In spite of billions of dollars pouring in every year, our public school system has become a disaster. Abraham Lincoln said that the classroom of one generation will become the government of the next one. The great reformer Martin Luther recognized the problem nearly 500 years ago when he said, “I am afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures and engraving them in the heart of the youth.”

Dr. Leon Henson said, Whenever the Christian lives an authentic life, the world around is permeated with God’s presence… The pure in heart not only see God, but become letters through which society sees Him.”

Check back later for Part Two...God Bless -Keith 1 Cor 13

Friday, October 21, 2011

All Saint's Day...An Armchair Theologian's Opinion

All Saints Day, the day on which Catholics celebrate all the saints, known and unknown, is a surprisingly old feast. It arose out of the Christian tradition of celebrating the martyrdom of saints on the anniversary of their martyrdom. When martyrdoms increased during the persecutions of the late Roman Empire, local dioceses instituted a common feast day in order to ensure that all martyrs, known and unknown, were properly honored.

Most Protestants churches other than some of the "mainline" churches focus more of their attention on days such as Mother's Day, Father's Day. Now there's even a Grandparent's Day and a Children's Day.. I'm not criticizing this practice, but would would personally like to see more of the day's on the Christian Calendar observed and explained to congregations also.

Retailers tell us that the pagan holiday of Halloween is second only to Christmas in total consumer spending! It is not uncommon to see as many houses decorated in ghosts and goblins as Christmas lights a couple of months later. Most conservative churches replace Halloween Parties with Hallelujah Parties asking that participants dress like Bible characters and such.

This a a good alternative so the children of church members don't feel like they are totally left-out as in the good 'ol days when everything was illegal, immoral, and it seemed a sin just to smile. Maybe there is another possibility to consider? Maybe we as the Church could focus more on church holidays like All Saint's Day in rememberence of those who died that Christianity, especially Protestant Christianity might live. Included in this is our many translations of the Bible into everyday language so that everyone can read it.

And while we are at it, maybe we can throw Maundy Thursday, Pentecost, and Trinity Sunday in there also! That's my opinion anyway...keith 1 Cor 13