Canaan’s Rest represents a quiet place “set apart” for the purpose of hearing God's voice, growing in intimacy with the Lord, and being renewed in soul and spirit.

Category: Wildman Journey (Page 1 of 59)

Inflated Tires

I read Glenn Stanton’s recent article in The Daily Citizen (Focus on the Family) entitled “Atlantic Magazine Science Writer: Men Don’t Have to Menstruate.”  It got my attention.  The article was “about how suffering through the end of their monthly cycle might now be a thing of the past for women.”  But the shocker was, “that men need no longer to have their period either.”  Stanton calls this confusion “a significant cultural indicator.”  

The article demonstrated how an influential magazine like the Atlantic has in Stanton’s words bowed, “low to the new gender theory orthodoxy that yes, both men and women do indeed have periods and no one should think otherwise.”  

The article  highlights how menstruation is becoming an elective bodily process. One expert believes, “We now have the technology to make periods optional.”  While reporting on a personal health issue for women, Stanton points out “the astonishing editorial choices” used in writing the article.  “Her” is avoided, with the use of the gender-neutral “their.”

In order maintain that menses are not solely a female issue, phrases such as “people who have periods” is used,  along with “people who have periods spend an average of 2,300 days of their lives menstruating.”   Then their is this curious statement, “The cost of so-called feminine products can add up to thousand of dollars over a person’s lifetime.”  Why not just say women or female.   Because as Stanton point out the Atlantic, “is following a……wholly novel theory that a man can be as legitimately a woman as any other woman merely by declaring himself one.”

Stanton wonders why “the otherwise fine Atlantic piece didn’t specify whether ‘men’ were included in their analysis.  He replies “it had to do with the difference between doing actual science and pushing a wholly creative ideology that is directly at odds with one of the most fundamental realities of what it means to be a human.”

You know there is confusion when Facebook has listed over 50 gender options to choose from when filling out a personal profile.  This is sure proof that “gender” has become untethered from reality.  The remedy is to go back to the original design, at the beginning, found in the book of Genesis. 

Jesus was definite in telling us, “at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female'” (Matt. 19:4), going on the say that the two in marriage cannot be separated.  The Pharisees questioned Jesus  stand on marriage, saying Moses allowed for divorce.  Jesus was saying in effect, “this is not the way God created it to be.  Something has gone terribly wrong. This was not the way in was in the beginning.” 

Christopher West uses the analogue of  people driving with a flat tire as being normal when it comes to our sexuality.  But Jesus is telling the pharisees that “in the beginning, they had air in their tires.”  We need to go back to the beginning to see how distorted of view of sexuality has become.

Jesus came into the world not to condemn those with flat tires, but rather to re-inflate their flat tires.  West observes, “We cannot actually return to the state of innocence; we’ve left that behind.  But by following Christ we can receive God’s original plan for our sexuality and live it with Christ’s help.” 

I love the analogue of “flat tires.”  Men, turn to Jesus in humble dependence, asking him to fill the deep caverns of your soul, so that you might be affirmed in your fully alive masculine soul.  Jesus can inflate your tires, giving you all the passion and energy you need to be “one” with your bride.  

 

 

 

 

Matrilineal

Recently I read an article in Mere Orthodoxy with the captivating title of “American Evangelicalism isn’t patriarchal or feminized. It’s matrilineal.” The article has got me pondering the criticism of the church being feminized. I have often written about the feminization of the church.

Matrilineal is a verb referring to behavior or characteristics that are based on kinship with the mother or the female.   Anthony Bradley maintains that the Evangelical church is neither patriarchal, nor feminized, nor do they emasculate men in order to appeal to women’s sensibilities or desires.  Evangelical churches are matrilineal.

“Matrilineal societies” notes Bradley, “are centuries old systems that organize community life so that the day-to-day activities of women are placed at the center of social thriving for successive generations.”  In these societies “the outward-facing office does not determine which gender is socially dominant…..Men may hold an office, but women control the operations of community life….women are outward-facing representatives of the community.”

As a pastor, I often said without the organization of the women and their contribution, church life would suffering greatly.  So Yes, I can definitely see where life in the church can be matrilineal.   

Not only were the women the life-givers, but they were also the life sustainers.  Mothers were revered in the community.  Look at the emphasis on mother’s day in our churches and society.  Without the mothers, much of family and youth activities would not happen. “Without women and mothers, life does not happen, ” observes Bradley. 

“In reality” Bradley maintains, “many churches are simply a complemenatrian facade living a matrilineal reality.”  That is why the “felt needs” in the church often reflect the feminine life in the church.  He might be making a valid point. 

The following observation from Bradley certainly holds true from my experience. “Matrilineal societies can exist while men are placed in outward-facing leadership roles (pastor or elder), but the community’s internal life would implode without women’s authority as mothers.  Matrilineal societies are about who does what to sustain life rather than merely looking at who hold which outward facing title or role.  Without women sustaining life, the community dies no matter who has what title in a matrilineal society.”

So what does this mean for the church?  Here is Bradley’s challenge.  [We] may want to make adjustments by reframing who does what to make life work at home, church, and school so that women are freed from the burden of sustaining the family and men move from being passive to becoming actively involved in the spaces that nurture children.”

This article does not do away with the criticism of the church as being feminized, but it does help to visualize why there is such a feminine emphasis?  I would contend one word could nicely address the questions raised by the matrilineal influence in the church.  

It is the word “nurture.”  In the amplified we read in Eph. 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke our children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; not by showing favoritism or indifference to them], but bring them up [tenderly, with lovingkindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

This passage challenges men to be nurturers. It is all about how men relate.  Larry Crabb calls out our “relational poverty.”  Men, it more than doing, thinking and organizing.  It’s about getting down to the level of our children and relating to them from the heart.  It is sharing our hearts with our wives.  May God give men the courage and grace to release what is deep in them, to bring life to others.

 

  

Itching Ears

New research from George Barna shows, “a broad, deep gap in American political beliefs and behavior, rooted not in ideology or partisanship, but in fundamental differences in the worldview of voting-age adults being fueled by a national cultural shift away from the biblical worldview.” Barna believes, based on his research that, “The 2020 election is not about personalities, parties, or even politics. It is an election to determine the dominant worldview in America.

Barna payed particular attention to those he calls “integrated disciples.”  These are persons with a consistent biblical worldview.  The survey indicated that only 6% of those who identified as Christian had a biblical worldview.  These believers tended to hold conservative political views in greater number than adults without a biblical worldview.  

For example, they believe in the definition of marriage as one man and one woman, 95% vs. 34%, and are more deeply committed to practicing their religious faith, 98% to 57%.  These folks are two and a half times more likely to be conservative on social issues 91% vs. 34%.

What I find interesting is Barna’s contention that politics is no longer about party platforms but competing worldviews.  “Over the past 40 years Americans have gradually but consistently abandoned a range of foundational, biblical beliefs in favor of a human-centric, consensual, emotion-driven understanding of and response to the world.  That transition has been highly visible in relation to morality and political preferences.” 

Men, this reminds me of Paul’s warning to Timothy about those with “itching  ears.”  “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” ( II Tim 4:3).  

The “seismic sixties” as Os Guinness calls it, was the decade when the radical ideas first broke through into mainstream American thinking and life.  Guinness notes, “the 60’s sowed the poison seeds that are producing today’s bitter harvest.  The roots of those ideas predate the 60’s, but it was in the 60’s where they became dangerous.”

In the 1973, as a young pastor I read Os Guinness book “The Dust of Death” several times over.  It cemented my thinking to be a “Jesus person” and a pastor of “the Book.”  I never doubted my stance as I lived through those years.  As a feeling, intuitive man, I clung to my testimony of Jesus, wanting to be  credible witness for him with the Lutheran church.  But I needed help thinking my way through the changing times.  I wanted the Bible to form my worldview.

Today, having lived through the 60’s, being ordained in 1970, I am part of that 6% that Barna discovered in his research.  I survived due to the following commitments I made regarding the Word of God. 

First, Scripture is God’s inspired Word and it has the final say when it comes to faith and practice.  I had to settle that in my mind.  Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matt 24:34).   

Second,  I gladly submit my thinking to the authority of God’s Word.  If something is not clearly found in scripture I will raise a big question mark.  

Thirdly, I continue to  need guidance as I journey with Jesus through the changes and chaos that is coming.  “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Ps. 119:108).   

Fourthly, I need help to be an integrated follower of Jesus (in word and deed).  Scripture does that for me if I obey, “But don’t just listen to God’s word.  You must do what it says.” ( James 1:23).   

    

The Tonic of masculinity

“The tonic of masculinity” caught my attention while reading an article by Bill Donaghy about  men.   “If we have been steeped in the lies of porn, if we’ve let ourselves be defined by the hashtag “toxic masculinity”, then we have work to do,” declares Donaghy.  He exhorts us to, “go back to the beginning to discover that primordial call to the tonic of masculinity ! (my emphasis) 

The intention of toxic masculinity is to deny and do away with what is the natural strength of men, which is, of course, expressed differently in each man.  While it is true that men need to live in the awareness of how their natural male strength has done great of harm to women since the fall, our task today, as never before is to  walk humbly with our Lord, asking Him for the grace and mercy to rightly exercise our place in the social order as God intended it.  We must not deny who we are.

As C. S. Lewis so famously said, “In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function.  We make men without chest and expect of them virtue and enterprise….we castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” The challenge becomes that of knowing how our strength and passion as men, can be used of God, rather then being misdirected into harmful, and even destructive patterns of behavior.  We have to do this work, without the help of the dominant culture.

To meet this challenge in the gender wars of our time, men need to be able to receive by faith the gift of their God given masculinity ( being a man).  After God made both in his image we read, “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good” (Gen 1:31).  Because of the contemporary narrative, which is highly critical of maleness, men will need help in being affirmed in their masculine roles as being “very good.” 

Pope Benedict XVI gave this wise pastoral advise for men.  “Man comes to the profoundest sense to himself not through what he does but through what he accepts.  He must wait for the gift of love, and love can only be received as a gift……One must wait for it, let it be given to one.  And one cannot become wholly man in any other way than by being loved, by letting oneself be loved….”

These are words of gold, offering tonic for many men living in shame and disillusionment.  Let me brake this statement down.   May these words sink into your soul and help you rise up with new tonic for your masculine soul.

First,  spiritual tonic cannot be applied to the crisis in masculinity by relying on our effort.  Men simply cannot fix their problem. The culture also cries out to men, “fix your problem.”  We can’t do it.  We are part of Adam’s fallen race.  Let this sink in – men need to learn to receive.  It is by the grace of God that we are given to capacity to change.

Second, even more difficult is the necessity of waiting.  God is able to mold and make us into the men we are intended to be.  Let this sink in – it is a process.  I personally know.  God has been reshaping me for over many years.    

Thirdly, always remember that you are his “beloved.”  Let this sink in – it about receiving love.  Like the Pope said, “one cannot become wholly man in any other way than be being loved, by letting oneself be loved….”  There is nothing we can do expect to receive the gift.   

 

 

 

Shame and responsibility

I spend time daily on the internet, reading news sources and Christian blog sites to make some sense out of our world.  I also am on the look out for articles regarding masculinity, to help me better articulate a healthy male perspective for men and their walk with Jesus.

Every once in a while, I find a new source to help me to write helpful blog for men.  A recent find has been Alastair Roberts, who blog at Alastair’s Adversaria.  He is worth following.  In one of his blog he reflected on the no win situation men find themselves with the feminist view of patriarchy. 

For the feminist, the problem for men is toxic masculinity and  the dismantling of patriarchy.  “Feminists believe,” maintains Roberts, “if men could deal with their weakness, shame, and vulnerability….we could do away with patriarchy.”  They believe men are shaped by damaging messages for their past. 

But for many men the feminist demands are emasculating.  Men many express openness about their weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and yet face hostility for  “developing genuine strength.”  Male strength can be a threat.  “Male cultures that celebrate and accentuate male strength are a direct threat to women’s advancement.”   

Men are realizing that focusing  on their faults and weaknesses, “comes at the cost of both alienation from and pathologizing of their own manly strength of agency.”  Men can  easily develop a poor image of themselves as a man.  

Women are portrayed as passive victims of patriarchy.  “This enables them to hold men accountable,” notes Roberts, “to lay blame for problems at their door, and to expect then to turn everything around.”  The responsibility for men can seem negative, since men are the ones that assume blame and are expected to bring about a new paradigm of relationships between men and women 

I appreciate the argument Roberts makes for men having to assume both guilt and responsibility for the unhealthy patriarch of the past.  The following in my opinion is very insightful: “Responsibility always comes attached to blame, as a law that sets up it recipient for condemnation and failure.  The result is a shame and guilt-inflected vision of masculinity, one in which men are always being held capable,  yet have relatively little ways in which they can enjoy the dignity of a positive responsibility.” 

I have three comments regarding shame and responsibility.  First, I am committed to helping men to walk comfortably with the Lord, in the midst of our contemporary “gender wars.”  I am simply a voice crying in the wilderness,  for men to come in  from the darkness of shame and self-loathing, to bask in the light of our Heavenly Father saying to men, “You are my beloved.”  Be affirmed in your god-given masculine self, period.  Receive this as your inheritance in the Lord.  He will help you stand with other brothers.

Secondly, Robert’s word are convicting to me.  I repent and ask for forgiveness if I have in any way shamed a man into making attempts to be anything other than who God has created him to be.  You are unique and have your assignment from the Lord.  Don’t let me or anyone else tell you how you are to celebrate your god-given masculinity.

Thirdly, this is a cry to men to stand tall in their unique masculinity and be responsible.  We get our marching order from the Lord himself, and not from the feminist agenda for men.  We are to give it all up for Jesus.  “Those who love their life in this world will lose it.  Those who despise their life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25). 

 

J.R.R. Tolkien and Marriage

I recently read an article by David Mills revealing insights into the marriage of Tolkien, who was married 55 years to Edith.  By all accounts the marriage was successful but not necessarily happy.  Near the end of his life, after Edith had died, Tolkien shared some reflections on his marriage with his son Christopher.

After three of his insights I would like to add my testimony.  At this stage in my marriage, God has wonderfully drawn me closer to my bride (55 years).  I am very grateful and humbled at the work of God in my heart.  I give him  glory and continue to cry out for his mercy. 

First, Tolkien warns that a  romantic view of men and women, can take “the young man’s eye off women as they are.”  Tolkien describes them as “companions in shipwreck not guiding stars.” Not seeing the woman realistically makes young men “forget their [women’s ] desires, needs and temptations.  It inculcates exaggerated notions of ‘true love,’ as a fire from without, a permanent exaltation, unrelated to age, childbearing, and plain life, unrelated to will and purpose. 

Men, your bride needs to know she is “the total package” as you both age.  “Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you.  Rejoice in the wife of your youth” (Prov 4:18).  Take this advise from brother Al.  Express your delight and fascination with her as being “your bone” (Gen 2:23).  It will breathe new life and spiritual refreshment into your marriage.  

Secondly, Tolkien refers to marriage as a “great mortification.” In a fallen world, “the best cannot be attained by free enjoyment, or what is called ‘self-realization’ (usually a nice name for self-indulgence, wholly inimical to the realization of other selves); but by denial, by suffering.”    

The early monks thought of marriage as martyrdom (death to self).  “Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged” (I Cor 13:5-6).  I am more sensitive to my failures, especially in my self-pitying attitude.  I humble myself,  rationalize less and ask for forgiveness, knowing I still have a long ways to go.  

Thirdly,  Tolkien speaks of  “self-denial.”  “No man, however truly he loved his betrothed and bride as a young man,” insists Tolkien, “has  lived faithful to her as a wife in mind and body without deliberate conscious of the will, without self-denial.”  In his view, “nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes.”  But he insist “the ‘real soul-mate’ is the one you are actually married to.”  His advice, “in this fallen world, we have as our only guides, prudence, wisdom, a clean heart, and fidelity of will.” 

The Lord is helping me to put  the needs of my “soul mate” forefront in our daily life.  “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (I Cor 13:7).  In our relationship I am more like a yo-yo.  Judy is consistent.  I am becoming more honest with my emotional state, admitting my downward cycles, and asking her to pray for me. 

It is hard to admit my childish ways.  “But when I grew up, I put away childish things.   Now we see things  imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.  All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely,  just as God knows me now” (I Cor. 13:11-12).  One day I will understand, but in the mean time I ask for grace to mature in my marriage.  God help me to be your MAN for Judy.    

 

Honesty and Courage

Self-censorship is on the rise according to a new Cato Institute survey that reports nearly two-thirds of Americans are afraid to share their political views.  “31% of liberals, 30% of moderates and 34% of conservatives are worried their political views could get them fired or harm their careers,” the Cato survey stated.  “There has been shifts across the board, where more people among all political groups feel they are walking on eggshells,” the survey found, adding, “majorities of Democrats (52%), independents (59%) and Republicans (72%) who all agree they have political opinions they are afraid to share.”

In the midst of this self-censoring, white conservative Robert George and liberal African American Cornel West have issued a joint appeal to their fellow Americans, “to unite the country, we need honesty and courage.”   This ideological odd couple because of their own long friendship, believe, “honesty and courage alone can save our wounded, disunited country now.”   

They believe, “We need the honesty and courage to speak the truth – including painful truths that unsettle not only our foes but also our friends and, most especially, ourselves.”  This statement is sure convicting to me.  Even more so are these words, “We need the honesty and courage to recognize the faults, flaws and failings of even the greatest of our heroes – and to acknowledge our own faults, flaws and failings.”  

Here is more of what they had to say, “We need the honesty and courage not to compromise our beliefs or go silent on them out of desire to be accepted, or  our of fear of being ostracized, excluded, or canceled.”

“We need the honesty and courage to consider with an open mind and heart points of view that challenge our beliefs – even our deepest, most cherished identity-forming beliefs.  We need the intellectual humility to recognize our own fallibility – and that, too, requires honesty and courage.”

These two men are putting before us a real challenge.  Their cry: “We need the honesty and courage to speak the truth.”  But how do we go about speaking the truth of the gospel, while doing it with honesty and courage in the culture that is so divided. 

I thought of the words of Jesus in Mark 13:11 when He tells his disciples  they will have difficulty. “When they bring you, betrayed, into court, don’t worry about what you’ll say.  When the time comes, say what’s on your heart – the Holy Spirit will make his witness in and through you” (Mark 13:11 MGS).  

These words should give us hope of staying in the battle.  We need  to remember that it is about Jesus not our agenda.  The Message puts it this way – “I identified myself completely with him.  Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ.  My ego is no longer central.  It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven  to impress God” ( Gal 2:20 MSG).   

 Jesus is the truth  (John 8:32). That  is settled,  Our aim should be to give witness to His reign in the earth  of which we are a part.  This should give us confidence to be honest and have courage.  Jesus promised help.  “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.  He will not be presenting his own ideas, he will be telling you what he has heard” (John 16:13).   

Lord, help us to stay in the battle for you. Remember – “Make the most of every opportunity.  Be gracious in your speech.  The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out” (Col 4:5-6 MSG).   

 

 

 

 

 

Male loneliness

If you were to google loneliness you would find loneliness among men, especially in the age of covid, to be a pubic health crisis.  Men tend to live in isolation with their inner pain, while women more readily connect with other women. The lack of healthy male relationships is a subject not easily discussed in our culture.  It leaves men alone to suffer in their shame, not knowing how to deal with their inner pain.     

One counselor who worked with men gave the following five reasons why loneliness among men is a worsening epidemic that is “literally killing” men.  1) Men fear appearing weak, 2) Men don’t talk about their feelings, 3) Many aren’t comfortable being vulnerable, 4) Hypermasculine assertiveness, and 5) Few bonding opportunities.  I want to address this last point.

In the church, men get mixed message as to what a man is suppose to be.  Jesus can be portrayed along a continuum from being super sensitive and caring to being like the warrior portrayed in Revelation 19.   In the age of the “toxic masculine,” men in the church, have learned to hid behind their protective emotional shields, afraid to express their confusion, sadness, anger and loneliness.  Men are emotionally wounded  by the gender wars and don’t know how to process their pain.  The festering of the wounds, spills over into dysfunctional relationships with those who are  closest to them, especially family.    

In the church, there are men who have “forfeited their souls” to the feminist rant for the new masculine.  They are shamed into being emasculated men, who are not able to express any genuine masculine strength, for fear of being called a bigot.  Men are caught in the double bind of being shamed for being a man, while being told they are  have not been responsible addressing  male patriarchy.

Men needs intergenerational male communities of brothers and fathers where soul talk among men is normal conversation.  Here men can be heard as they risk telling their stories of navigating life through the good, the bad, and the ugly.  “Celebrate Recovery” (look it up on google) give good guidance: “Realize I’m not God; I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and my life is unmanageable.”    

Men can learn to “fight for each other’s hearts.”  A good watch word would be Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else guard you heart, for it affects everything you do.”  Alastair Roberts makes this observation regarding the gathering of men .  “Male groups tend to broad and shallow: larger numbers of persons, but typically less intimate and closely bonded…Male groups have a greater tendency to socialize and bond around agency, ritual, action and competition…….We principally bond through sharing ideas, activities, arguments, and obsessions, not through sharing feelings, personal narrative or secrets.”  

While the church needs to provide opportunities for men to grow spiritually through activities together, there is a real need to provide space for men to process their journey with other men.  It will take time and practice to move beyond “agency, ritual, action and competition.”  In the days to come, men will need to find and have brothers who stay with them in the battle.

If you are a man who is caught in the dark web of loneliness, feeling like a lost sheep, Jesus, the good shepherd, knows your need.  Tell the Lord you honest need and begin to ask to Lord to direct you to a group.  The big step is to reach out and make yourself available to a group of men. He knows your need and will provide the opportunity.  But you will need to be vulnerable.

 

The Pagan Public Square

The title of this blog might surprise you.  It is the title of an article by Robert P George,  professor of law at Princeton.  He points out that secular liberals or “progressives” are making little effort to maintain “the pretense of  neutrality.”  “Having gained the advantage” notes George,  “on battle front after battle front in the modern culture war, and having achieved hegemony  in elite sectors of the culture….there is no longer any need to pretend.”

Steven Smith in his book “Pagans and Christians in the City” names this aggressive liberalism as “paganism.”  What he [Smith] perceives,  notes George, “is that contemporary  social liberalism reflects certain core ideas and  beliefs …… that partially defined the traditions of paganism that were dominant in the ancient Mediterranean world……..until the point at which they were defeated….by the Jewish sect  that came to be known as Christianity.”  Christians were like “resident aliens” in the world,  following a God who was transcendent, whereas pagans located the sacred within the world. 

These two worldviews clashed with the spread of the gospel in the first centuries of the church.  No where was the clash greater than in sexuality.  “The Christian view of sexuality was not only radically alien,” notes Smith, “it was close to incomprehensible.”  There was a fear that Christians would “turn the lights out on the party.”  In the West, the Christian sexual ethic prevailed until the present time.   

But now in our day the lights have been turned on once again and the party is going again.  It is “live and let live” when it comes to sexual morality.  The old Christian ethic is “no longer operative.”  We are entering into what George calls a “new Diocletian age,”  similar to the last and most severe persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. 

“The culture war is over; they lost,  we won…..Taking a hard line is better than trying to accommodate the losers who are defending positions that liberals regard as having no normative pull at all” declares Mark Tushnet.  The neo-pagans are not willing to accommodate Christians in the public square, when they dissent from progressive orthodoxy.  

There are people “who want to ensure that we never again get near the light switch and that we are properly punished for having switched off the lights to the party in the first place.”  So what are believers with a biblical worldview to do in the coming days. 

George give three options.  First that of capitulation and acquiescence.  There are whole denominations that practice a visible evidence of faith but have  no moral substance.  George believes they have made themselves “useful idiots” of neo-paganism. 

The two other options are between “flight or fight.”  Rod Dreher has a strategic retreat in his promotion of the “Benedict Option.”  Christian are to build arks in order to endure the coming flood.  Believers would still be involved in the affairs of the world, while attending to intentional community for the sake of maintaining to faith.   

The third option is that of staying in the public square and fighting.  George opts for fight, saying “the cost of discipleship is a heavy cost……the days of comfortable Christianity are over.”  We are, in his opinion, “back in the position of our forebears in imperial Rome.”  

So men we are at a crossroads.  Accommodation is not an option.  Will it be flight or fight?  I personally lean toward flight ( building an ark through my church) rather than fight.  But I know that I will need to take a stand among the pagans.  God give me grace to stand for Jesus 

 

 

 

The Jesus Movement 2020?

I am a product of the Jesus Movement.  I was a seminary student and a young pastor when the Jesus movement began in California in the late 60’s and early 70’s and than spread throughout the rest of North America and even into Europe.  Like today,  those days were marked by political strife, racial tension, government instability and economic volatility.  I remember embracing the title “Jesus Freak.” 

The movement was also a predecessor of the  charismatic movement, which moved through the mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic churches.  I attended large gatherings of believers throughout the 70’s and early 80’s.  God was awakening the whole church to the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, who had had become “the forgotten member” of the Trinity. 

The movement left its impact on the church.  I witnessed this first hand as a young Lutheran pastor.   There was tension as God was pouring new wine into old wine skins.  Many Jesus people left and formed other churches, while some of us stayed, wanting to be a leaven with the traditional denominations.  I am forever grateful for what God taught my wife and I during those years.  We still treasure “the Scripture Songs” we learned as a family.

I bring up the Jesus Movement because some observers wonder if we are about to experience another Jesus Movement.  Don Whitney notes, “Perhaps no year in modern history so parallels the turmoil of 2020 than 1968……But in retrospect, it’s encouraging to realize that rumbling beneath it all, the Jesus Movement was gathering  momentum as a work of God’s power that would flourish across the country in the years immediately following.”  

Now there was folks reporting on a “beach revival” talking place in Southern California.  Worship leader Sean Faucht, leader of worship during the beach revival believes the church is in a time similar to the late 60’s and 70’s.  “What we’re seeing how  is a return to a gritty, raw Gospel, Jesus people movement foundation,” observes Faucht.  “What it’s doing is stripping off the sheen and the polished nature of what we’ve built in America and it’s allowing us to return to the simplicity of the power of the raw Gospel.”

Wow!  I read of other revivals taking place in other parts of the country, even at the place where George Floyd was murdered.  Could it be that in the midst of all the chaos, conflicting politics and anger, God  is sending awakening.  Could this be “times of refreshing ” from the Lord (Acts 3:19). 

As I write this blog I have several gut responses to the reports of revival.  First and foremost, there is an excitement in my spirit, of another move of God like the 70’s.  It was glorious time to be a “Jesus Freak.”

But secondly, I am reluctant to admit fear and hesitancy getting involved in a move of God’s Spirit that will surely confront the powers of darkness that war against our nation.  Lord, forgive me for my lack of trust in your sovereign power to protect me and my bride during the coming battle for the soul of our nation.   

Thirdly,  I am convicted that I have not prayed in Faith, with my face and hands raised to heaven, crying out, “God has mercy on us.”  Daniel helps me with his prayer, “We do not make requests  of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.  O Lord, listen!  O Lord, forgive!  O Lord hear and act!  For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your name” (Dan 9:18-19)

  

 

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