Christianity 201

October 29, 2012

How Material and Sexual Cravings Block Ministry

Church Relevance has posted a number of summaries from global:church forum. (I’m sure these are excerpts/summaries.) Here is just one:

At the Global:Church Forum, Michael Ramsden of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries discussed how the global Church is changing.

Luke 14:12-33
12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers[b] or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” 15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant[c] to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you,[d] none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’” 25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

What happens at the end of the world? There will be judgment. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. And western cultures say, “Oh, and there is going to be a banquet!” But what type of banquet? A wedding banquet. And whose wedding is it? Partly ours.

What does it mean to be betrothed? Think of the anticipation. Yet I find it interesting that we often struggle to live as though we are the bride of Christ.

Most people in affluent cultures, find themselves having to constantly increase the pace and volume of consumption in order to maintain the same level of enjoyment. This cycle is called the Hedonic treadmill. Research shows that consumers consistently make self-defeating choices.

Now in Jesus’ parable about the wedding banquet, the servant is not inviting people to the banquet when he goes out. The invitations have already been sent out and accepted. When the servant goes out, he is merely ringing the dinner bell. But everyone made excuses. The first 2 excuses are commercial in nature, and we understand how people get caught up in money. This is what happens with the affluent.

But the 3rd excuse causes a lot of Westerners problems. The 3rd excuse is a man saying, “I have a women at home, and I would much rather be doing something with her than you. The is not an affluent excuse but a sexual one. The modern era has become too focused on viewing men and women as sexual objects. We live in e that tells women that they are empowered if they act as sexual objects. How is that progress?

In the Western world, sexual desire was driven by a sense of spiritual connection. In India, sex has been long thought of as a mystical connection. But today sex is increasingly viewed as a product to consume. Pornography is rampant. And we increasingly think of ourselves as animals.

Slavery reduces people to objects rather than people. Pornography treats people as objects. Sin dehumanizes us. It makes us less human than we actually are. When we treat people as objects, we lose our way.

Is it even possible that today’s Christians treat God as an object that is to be consumed?

One US government analyst said, “Hypocrisy is the new unforgivable global sin.” When you marry objectifying people and unhealthy consumption with our integrity, what do you have?

In Jesus’ parable of the wedding banquet, people had an invitation that they ultimately rejected, so the servant went out and evangelized. The servant sought out who would come. The servant compelled people. He must be compelling.

If you do not pick up your cross and forsake all you have, you cannot be Christ’s disciple. That statement cannot be compelling unless God’s servants live it.

The trouble is we are trying to teach morals of discipleship that do not demand everything. Even some churches treat people as objects that give them money.

Don’t ignore the people in the trenches that are laying down their lives. We have arm chair quarterbacks that are ignoring the pleas of help from those in the trenches as well as their feedback on how to do things better. I’ve known people that would not fund a ministry initiative because they are afraid people will be martyred. But I wouldn’t fund ministry by people who weren’t willing to lay down their lives.

Salt that has lost its saltiness is worthless. If the impurities in salt reach a certain level, it will be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

Poor areas of the world are modeling out an incredible spiritual richness. So since we are in the West, it is not just enough to learn from the theology of the Church of the South and the East. What we need to do is learn from those who are persecuted and willing to die yet keep growing in their passion for Christ.

If as a Church we are willing to pay the cost that the majority of the Church is paying, you will be scared at times, but you will also be more effective.

Affluent cultures are born by sacrifice. When we are poor, we mistake scarcity for spiritual discipline. But when affluence comes and scarcity becomes scarce then peoples lives are destroyed if they lack discipline. The trouble is that in the West, we have been affluent for a very long time. The types of disciplines that we need have been gone for a very long time.

God has a habit of humbling people who trust in themselves. The goal of life isn’t to live as long as possible but to live a life that is obedient to Him. That is the only life worth living.

I think the models of discipleship we have in the West (1) move too slowly, (2) expect to little, (3) promise too much, and (4) expect quick maturity.

~Michael Ramsden

June 28, 2012

Apologetics in Action

I hope none of you feel cheated when I use a video post instead of text, but today I’ve actually got two for you.

The first is Ravi Zacharias shown at his best, taking questions from the audience during what I presume to be a university appearance.  This one is on the subject, ‘Are people born to be good or born to be evil?’

Do you feel Ravi answered her question? Or was he trying to answer, ‘the question behind the question?’

The second one is an audio reading from C. S. Lewis.  It’s a really great explanation of how God can permit free will even though within the range of that free will we choose that which is not God’s ‘will’ for us.

I would like to be able to memorize this (in more contemporary language) to the point where I was able to present this to others. I’ve listened to it three times now, but would next need to take notes to follow the logic of the presentation.

Interesting enough, the Lewis clip was posted to YouTube on the channel ‘Islamic Worldview.’

I Peter 3:15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. (NLT)


Here’s a previous edition of Apologetics in Action from December, 2011.

… And almost exactly a year ago, we featured a number of Ravi Zacharias Quotations.

…Finally from January, 2011, C. S. Lewis on Life, Atheism and God.

June 18, 2011

From the Mind of Ravi Zacharias

Ravi Zacharias is one of the leading voices in the field of Christian apologetics, and an author of many significant books on the subject.  RZIM, his organization is based in Atlanta, Georgia; and he has a daily radio program heard throughout Canada and the United States.  These are in somewhat random order; so take a minute to pause between them; feel free to comment if one especially strikes you.


“We experience emptiness not when we are wearied by our trials, but when we are wearied by our happiness.”


“A man rejects God neither because of intellectual demands nor because of the scarcity of evidence. A man rejects God because of a moral resistance that refuses to admit his need for God.”


“One of the most staggering truths of the Scriptures is to understand that we do not earn our way to heaven. …works have a place–but as a demonstration of having received God’s forgiveness, not as a badge of merit of having earned it.”


“I do not believe that one can earnestly seek and find the priceless treasure of God’s call without a devout prayer life. That is where God speaks. The purpose of prayer and of God’s call in your life is not to make you number one in the world’s eyes, but to make him number one in your life. We must be willing to be outshone while shining for God. We hear very little about being smaller in our own self-estimate.”


“Philosophically, you can believe anything, so long as you do not claim it to be true.
Morally you can practice anything, so long as you do not claim that it is a ‘better’ way.
Religiously, you can hold to anything, so long as you do not bring Jesus Christ in to it.”


“There is no greater discovery than seeing God as the author of your destiny.”


“These days its not just that the line between right and wrong has been made unclear, today Christians are being asked by our culture today to erase the lines and move the fences, and if that were not bad enough, we are being asked to join in the celebration cry by those who have thrown off the restraints religion had imposed upon them. It is not just that they ask we accept, but they now demand of us to celebrate it too.”


“I think the reason we sometimes have the false sense that God is so far away is because that is where we have put him. We have kept him at a distance, and then when we are in need and call on him in prayer, we wonder where he is. He is exactly where we left him.”


“You cannot really have the world and hold on to it. It is all too temporary and the more you try to hold on to it, the more it actually holds you. By contrast, the more you hold on to the true and the good, the more you are free to really live.”


“Where the eye is focused, there the imagination finds its raw material. The right focus must be won at immense cost and discipline. Train the eye to see the good, and the imagination will follow suit.”


“It is theoretically and practically impossible to build any community apart from love and justice. If only one of these two is focused upon, an inevitable extremism and perversion follow.”


“It is a mindless philosophy that assumes that one’s private beliefs have nothing to do with public office. Does it make sense to entrust those who are immoral in private with the power to determine the nation’s moral issues and, indeed, its destiny? …. The duplicitous soul of a leader can only make a nation more sophisticated in evil.”


“Anyone who claims that all religions are the same betrays not only an ignorance of all religions but also a caricatured view of even the best-known ones. Every religion at its core is exclusive.”


“God is the shaper of your heart. God does not display his work in abstract terms. He prefers the concrete, and this means that at the end of your life one of three things will happen to your heart: it will grow hard, it will be broken, or it will be tender. Nobody escapes.”


“The tragedy is that just when we need to remember the most because we have climbed some pinnacle of blessing and success- that’s when the tendency is to turn our back upon God.


Sources:

Good QuotesQuotation Collection, Christian QuotesLiberty Tree, Christian Apologetics Forum, Just My Thoughts, Simply Quotastic

This is an awesome exercise to do.  If there are any authors or speakers you’d like me to research, let me know, but I encourage you to do this sort of thing yourselves as well.

August 1, 2010

How To Do Apologetics (By Someone Who Does it Well)

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:45 pm
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Ravi Zacharias was recently asked on a radio show what makes a good apologist (defender of the Christian faith.)

He said, “Let me answer the question backwards;” and continued

  • a bad apologist deals with the question
  • a good apologist deals with the questioner

We can get so locked into ‘winning points’ in a discussion that we lose sight of the person asking the questions.   Jesus looked past the questions — some that we would consider superficial and others we would be less likely to dismiss — and dealt with the heart of the person.

How can I remember to do that the next time I’m in a seemingly ‘confrontation’ faith discussion?