Bobblehead Christians

Recently I’ve developed an online relationship with a self-avowed atheist. We found some common ground in the issues of politics at the time, and I was intrigued by his public claims that there is no God, so I pressed into him for more specifics about his belief system.  At first he was a bit evasive, no doubt due to many previous arguments he’d had with knucklehead Christians.  But I was persistent, kind, talked a bit of smack and tried to bait him out to share with me more about what he believes. I’m happy to say that he is opening up and starting to share his heart with me.  We’re moving beyond pat answers and into worldview, which is where I want to go with him.

I have no agenda at this time beyond seeing what kind of evidence he has used to arrive at his conclusions.  Of course, I do care about the eternal destination of his soul as well, but contrary to popular Christian evangelistic tactics, that is my endgame, not my first play.  I’ve taken a genuine interest in my new friend.  He gave me the privilege of looking into his heart, and I have reciprocated.  I’m meeting him where he is at – on the field of logic and reason.  We’ve both agreed that we like one another (we’ve not yet met in person) and we’d like to keep the discussion going.  I’ve given him honor, and he has done the same.  I’ve sought to earn the right to hear his heart, honestly, genuinely and without judgment.  I’m hoping he’ll join me in a public discussion here on my blog.  He’s thinking about it.

Contrast this with the approach of most Christians who, rather than being “fishers of men” are out with their 44 magnum study bibles hunting for souls to bag.  The typical evangelical mindset is focused on one goal – to “win someone to Christ” by getting them to pray the “sinners prayer”.  The victim person, that stands before them is a wretched miserable sinner who needs to repent for their wicked ways and get right with God (like me!), rather than an individual with deeply held convictions based upon life experience, teaching, etc. who may have little interest in hearing what we have to say, especially when they believe us to be fools.

It’s both comical and sad to see how most Christians approach evangelism. Either we remain silent in complete violation of the Lord’s command to go and make disciples, or we temporarily turn into some crazy aberrant religious psycho that doesn’t seem to be capable or rational thought.  Just look at the discussions that occur between atheists and Christians and you’ll find it littered with scripture quotations.  What kind of logic uses scripture to make a case with someone who has already determined that it’s not true?  How dumb is that?

I’ve found a lot of common ground with my new friend. He has examined Christianity through the lives of Christians and found it to be a very unattractive and unbelievable, thus he rejects God.  His logic is flawed, no doubt about it, and in time, I hope to change his conclusions by challenging his logic.  But I’ve looked through his eyes, and based on what he knows now, I find I agree with him more than not because of the hypocrisy, animosity and downright meanness that is found in many Christians – especially those who are “evangelistic” by nature, because they are often driven by religious spirits rather than being led by the Holy Spirit.

We used to have a guy in town that I called “Bumper Sticker Guy”.  This brother was so “radical for Jesus” that he literally covered his car with Christian bumper stickers, emblems, and anything else he could get to adhere to his car that proclaimed his message.  This guy would go out on the main drag and simply cruise in circles, driving up and down the block “witnessing” for Jesus.  While I do not doubt his sincerity, I’m amazed that he actually believes that anyone is going to embrace his message.  As a believer, I was more than offended by his approach, and desperately wanted to run him off the road lovingly confront him every time I saw him doing his thing.  This, my friends is what causes the world to think that Christians are idiots.  Would you vote for someone that shared the beliefs of Bumper Sticker Guy?  I wouldn’t, that’s for SURE!

Private note to Bumper Sticker Guy if you happen to read this.  I love you in Jesus, and I admire your boldness to be a witness for Jesus, but for God’s sake, please peel all that crap off your car and just start loving people.  You’ll be a whole lot more successful and you may live longer.

My friend Peter Lord says we need to “keep the Main Thing the Main Thing”. What is the Main Thing?  It’s not soul-winning, or praying, or quoting scripture or worship or another religious activity you can name.  It’s love.  God is love, and love is the evidence that we belong to Him.  Love is an irresistible force.  If love is not present in our conversations with those who do not yet know Him, not only are our chances of success extremely low, our entire motivation is wrong.

We also need to quit checking our brains at the door. We need to know why we believe what we believe, other that “’cause the Bible tells me so“.  Take away a Christian’s bible, and many become powerless to have an intelligent conversation with an unbeliever about why they believe what they believe about God.  We need to examine our worldview and identify the evidence that serves as a foundation for why we believe as we do.  Some of us might be shocked at how thin that foundation really is.  If we’re going to go up against the strongholds of unbelief in the lives of others, we’d best have something more substantial than what the preacher told us last week.

The early Church didn’t have Bibles. They didn’t walk around quoting the Old Testament to the Gentiles.  They had a personal revelation of Christ and they had His love flowing out of their hearts.  Their lives were filled with the fruit of having a close relationship with Jesus.  This was the greatest evidence they could present about the risen Christ.  Yet, I believe they also possessed a divine wisdom and the ability clearly articulate the reason for their faith.  But what really made their case bulletproof was when their faith was tested by the fire.  When the rocks started flying and the whips and chains came out, their faith endured because it was real and the were willing to lay it all on the line for what they believed in.  Suddenly all the words they had spoken carried a lot of authority because they were signed in blood.

Is your faith that real, that solid, so alive that you’re willing to die for what you believe in? If not, stop trying to convince others and work on those foundations.  The world doesn’t need any more bobblehead Christians or Bumper Sticker Guys.  They need to see real faith, in real people, who really know God.

Until next time,
R<><

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Published in: on September 9, 2008 at 2:38 pm  Comments (2)  
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The Moment of Truth

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to take my boys out fishing the flats of Tampa Bay. We had an incredible day, filled with sunshine, cooling breezes, and lots of fish hitting our lines. We managed to boat most of them, keeping only a few nice size sea trout for dinner. We caught all of our target fish – snook, redfish, and trout – a grand slam. We also caught a couple of bluefish and a black tip shark.

The highlight of my day came shortly after we arrived at our last chosen fishing spot. Our watchful captain spotted a couple of sizable cobia riding the wings of a large stingray, as they are prone to do. As luck would have it, they were swimming in the general direction of our bait. One peeled away from the ray to take my son’s bait, but unfortunately missed the hook and swam off. The other cobia and the ray turned away from the shore and also disappeared from our view.

A short time later, the other cobia and the ray (or another, we can’t know for sure) reappeared near the shoreline, but turned and swam the other direction away from the boat. Our captain quickly fired up the motor and circled around in an attempt to put us in a favorable position for another attempt. Even though we were not really geared up for a fish of this size and strength, the temptation was just too much to resist.

Sure enough, the ray and his wingman swam in our direction, and I quickly cast my baitfish in front of them. The cobia saw my bait and made a run for it. My bobber disappeared under the surface, I waited a couple of seconds, and then set the hook. My reel screamed in delight as the fish made a run away from the boat and time stopped for a while. The boys scrambled for the cameras to capture the saga.

For the next 20 some odd minutes, it was a vicious struggle of man versus fish. My light tackle was tested to the limits as the 40″ (dare we estimate) long beast strained to keep away from the boat. Each time I got him close enough to make a net attempt, he would make another run away from the boat. We were quite concerned about the light leader’s ability to hold up much longer against the constant pull of this incredibly strong fish. We figured the sooner we could get him into the boat, the better chance we had of bringing him home. We knew if we could just get him into the net, we’d have him.

Finally, the fish began to tire, but not before my arms began to ache (what a great feeling!). I brought him near the boat, and pulled him up to the surface and the captain got into position with the net. In a coordinated effort, I steered the fish toward the waiting net. Success was mere seconds away! 

The Moment of Truth

The Moment of Truth

As the net closed around the beast, he didn’t even slow down. Instead, he reached down deep inside, and with a thrust of his powerful tail, he pushed right through the bottom of the net as though it were made of paper. The weakened leader snapped, and in an instant, he was gone.

What looked like a certain victory for me turned into a sudden disappointment. I had placed my faith entirely upon the net’s ability to hold that fish. It never occurred to me that a fish could break through something as strong as that net. I assumed once he was safely inside, he was mine.

But the fish had a different perspective. It was his Moment of Truth. He didn’t stop to think of how strong that net must be, and how difficult it would be to break through it. He didn’t stop to think about how hard he had fought and how tired he was and how he was now facing the biggest challenge of his life at the very moment he was at his weakest. He simply saw that net as a barrier that had to be broken if he was going to live another day. He reached down deep inside, and pulled on that reserve of energy that is available to all of God’s creatures in times like these. And he moved from certain death to precious freedom in the blink of an eye.

So often we find ourselves in the Moment of Truth. The enemy plays us into his trap, wearing us down, and then, at our weakest moment, closes in for the kill. In that moment – the Moment of Truth, we can reach down deep inside and pull out that breakthrough strength that God provides for us in moments like this. We must never allow obstacles to become nets of death around us. There is always a rescue, if we call upon God and exercise faith in the Moment of Truth. And we too will leave the enemy with a shattered and empty net.

In the end, I was very happy, having had the opportunity to struggle with this fish. Like my father, I like to imagine that the ones that get away grow up to become the biggest and the strongest. And fortunately, we have the struggle on video tape, so I can enjoy it whenever I want to re-live the experience. It was a very good day, in my book of days.

Published in: on September 2, 2008 at 3:04 pm  Comments (2)  
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We Need a Kingdom Perspective!

Jesus Came To Establish A Kingdom, Not a Religion.

“I must preach the Kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.”  Luke 4:43 NASB

Jesus had more to say about the Kingdom than any other subject.  Obviously, it ranks right up there on God’s priority list of topics His children should understand.

One major point of truth that we need to grasp is that Jesus did not come to establish a religion.  This may come as a surprise to many, but it is true.  Religion is man’s meager attempt to appease an invisible and unreachable god.  Even Christianity is a religion.  But Jesus did not come preaching a new religion, He came preaching the gospel of the Kingdom.

Many restrict the work of Christ to the cross.  However, Jesus came for much more than to die for our sins.  The cross was a tremendous victory in innumerable ways.  Not only did Jesus redeem us from sin and purchase a place for us in Heaven, but He took all of our sicknesses and diseases upon Himself and removed them from us forever.  Yet, we continue to fight the good fight of faith, enforcing the victory of the cross in our everyday lives.  This is because the cross is not for us an ending, but a beginning.  You see, Jesus came to establish the rule and reign of God upon the earth and to restore the dominion to man that was lost in the Garden of Eden.

When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are not only saved from our sin, but become part of His Kingdom.  He becomes our King, and we become His subjects.  However, He is not looking for subjects, but sons and daughters who will rule and reign with him in this life, right here, right now.

Perspective Is Everything
Every one of us sees life through a unique pair of glasses.  Every situation we encounter, every relationship we enter into is interpreted through this pair of glasses.  Psychologists have given a name to this pair of glasses – paradigm.  Paradigm describes the unique perspective that each of us have of life.

Our paradigm is the totality of our education, life experiences, and relationships.  Unfortunately, our paradigm can be flawed, due to negative events in our lives.  Like a bad pair of glasses, we do not see reality clearly.  We interpret things incorrectly, draw erroneous conclusions and formulate bad decisions.

A “paradigm shift” is a term that describes a radical transformation of our perspective.  Something causes us to see things in a completely different light and our thinking is instantly changed.

For example, suppose you are driving down the street minding your own business, when suddenly, a car comes racing past you, swerving in and out of traffic.  They cut you off, nearly taking off your front fender.  Ahead, they continue to swerve wildly in and out of the traffic, clearly presenting a danger to everyone.

You assume this is a reckless teenager, as has been the case so many times before.  You decide that you should follow them up the road and give them a piece of your mind.  You speed up and catch them at the next stoplight.

As you pull up, you roll down your window, ready to let them have it.  However, you are shocked at what you see.  Rather than a reckless young driver, you see a man who is obviously in crisis.  You see the panic in his eyes.  Upon closer examination, you see that lying on the seat next to him is a little boy with a large, bloody towel wrapped around his head.  The man’s hands, tightly clenching the steering wheel, are red with blood.  You hear his choked voice as he reassures the boy.  “Everything is going to be alright, son.  We’re almost to the hospital.”  Before you can utter a word, the light changes, and they race off, leaving you in stunned silence.

In an instant, truth was revealed and your flawed perspective was radically transformed.  Your anger dissolved into a profound sense of empathy and you suddenly wanted to aid this unfortunate family.  You just experienced a paradigm shift.

Needed: A Kingdom Paradigm Shift
Based on what we see in the Church today, I believe that most Christians need a paradigm shift.  One of the greatest losses of the Church in the last 2000 years is the loss of a view of the Kingdom.  Somewhere along the way, we had a paradigm shift in the wrong direction.

Many of us have allowed the enemy to fit us with a pair of glasses that distorts reality.  Rather than seeing life through God’s eyes, we take a carnal, earthly perspective.  Big things look small, and small things look big.  We miss important details because our vision is out of focus.  Life is interpreted incorrectly and opportunities afforded by God for our benefit are missed.

We need to put on a Kingdom set of glasses, that we might gain a Kingdom perspective!  We were never meant to view this earth through an earthly, natural perspective.  We are supernatural beings, specially created in the image of God, with spiritual senses that are waiting to be awakened.  The apostle Paul prayed this way:

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.”   Eph. 1:18-19 NASB

I once heard Jack Taylor say, “Celebration is the fruit of perspective.”  I believe this is a very profound statement.  For the Christian, perspective lies at the very heart of celebration.  Those with a carnal perspective can only rejoice when circumstances are favorable.  Their celebration is limited by their natural perspective.  However, a Kingdom perspective says, “Everything’s gonna be alright!”  No matter what is happening, we know that we are part of a Kingdom, and our King is in control.  Even if our circumstances don’t look so good, we can still celebrate because we have a Kingdom perspective!

A Kingdom perspective says, “God will be successful in all of His plans.”  We know that He will never fail.  Therefore, the only question in the matter is simply, will we be with Him?  Only those who see through spiritual eyes will overcome this world.  How desperately we need to gain a Kingdom perspective!

Until next time,
R<><

Published in: on September 1, 2008 at 8:40 pm  Comments (6)  
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