The Babylon Affect

Genesis 11:6 – The LORD said, “They are one people with one language. This is only the beginning of what they will do! Now nothing they plan to do will be too difficult for them.

God saw all the amazing things the “globalized” people of the earth were accomplishing and He saw it as a negative.  Why would great advancements, huge building programs and international cooperation be seen as a negative?  Because God knew that along with “nothing they plan to do will be too difficult” would also come an arrogant practice of anything goes.

So it has taken several thousands of years for the world to be “globalized” again to the point where language differences are of little consequence when all you have to do is hit “translate page” on Google or upload a comparable app on your smart phone for instant, real time translation.  Just yesterday I saw and advertisement for an ear insert that instantly translates a language.  There is again no language barrier in the world.  As a result, truly amazing things are taking place in the advancement of the world in technology, medicine, farming, science, construction, manufacturing as well as equally negative, anything goes, factors of relativism, pride and debauchery.

An amazing amount of these “advancements” have taken place in my lifetime.  I was visiting with my father a few months back and we were discussing the decline of the church’s influence in America in particular.  He made the point that WWII was a significant factor in the beginning of the globalization of the world.  Prior to WWII, the vast majority of people were born, grew up and died all within a few miles while all the time going to the same church, generally knowing the same people as well as being subject to the same peer influence and pressure for most social and character life issues.  The effect of WWII on that localized influence was monumental.  With the advancement and reduced cost of both local and international travel, it was no longer assumed that you would live and die in your “home town”.  Troops from across the globe, in addition to fighting a war, were exposed to vastly different and exciting new states, countries and cultures.  Combine this shrinking of the world via travel with the ease of international communication and collaboration and what was once the local village ultimately became the World Wide Web breaking down all remaining barriers.

Don’t get me wrong, I see it as a good thing when somebody in South Africa comes up with a piece of some medical puzzle and he is able to instantly collaborate with someone or even several someones in other countries to affect a breakthrough in medicine.  That is not the problem God saw with common tongue and communication.  It’s when some guy with a foot fetish, (or substitute some other fringe activity) who because of social media and the ability to search the whole world in an instant for others with the same interest, no longer feels alone and the need to hide or curtail his vice.  He now feels validated and accepted practicing what would have otherwise been viewed as weird and perhaps even deviant to his local community.  Don’t believe me.  Oh you doubters, there are now foot worship fetish parties all over the world.

http://www.footnight.com/la.html

When it comes to appreciating nice looking feet, perhaps there is little concern for the decline of worldwide morality.  There are, however, other incredibly destructive things which have come “out of the closet” in my lifetime.  And I’m not just talking about homosexuality.  In the big scheme of things, homosexuality may be one of the lesser evils which have found validation in today’s society as a result of the shrinking world.  By far the most destructive things to emerge “triumphant” in modern society are areas in which the church has capitulated to “right side of history” and culturally correct or expedient practices.  The reason falling standards in the church bears so much consideration is because, lest we forget, “judgment begins in the house of God” 1Peter 4:17.

I am going to be as blunt and honest as I can here because the future ability of the church to regain its effectiveness, influence and reputation in the world is at stake.  Just a short biblical lesson shouldn’t be too tedious for those who already know and it will be helpful for those who don’t (of which there are apparently multitudes).  From the very beginning of the establishment of the Jewish nation, leadership was admonished to not collect a big salary (multiply gold for themselves), to follow God’s eternal laws and to serve the people.  Most of them unfortunately failed to do this causing countless reoccurring problems.  Jesus however, as our most perfect shepherd/leader, did in fact model these eternal values by living a life of servant hood and sacrifice paired with an extremely modest lifestyle.  How is it then that today there are so many “pastors” who insult God’s commands and the very essence of who Jesus is by embracing living standards more closely resembling the “lifestyles of the rich and famous”?  It’s because they can go on line and find other pastors “succeeding” who have equally inflated opinions of themselves who live in million dollar homes and who collect 6 or 7 figure salaries.

It is primarily a modern day phenomenon in which a person can feel “called” into the ministry and service of Christ and have the prospect or expectation of being greatly enriched by doing so.  And if we are going to be completely honest, even the un-churched are often all too aware of the commands in scripture for a modest lifestyle among Christians and these affluent and greedy mega-church practices, which more closely resemble those in the corporate world, have them dismissing and tuning out entirely because of the blatant hypocrisy.

I’m going to sound a bit liberal here for a moment (please forgive me) but how do so many churches justify cushy couches, fancy coffee bars and worship leader spot lights combined with a multitude of projector screens, mood lighting and the latest internet technology while we still have the destitute, lost and desperate right outside our church doors.  I suggest it is our priorities which need remodeling – not our “out dated” facilities.  And here is the kicker, those “bigger, better, more” accoutrements are the very reason we are not drawing in or retaining our young people as they see these things as a shallow mimic of their entertainment world.  They are longing and searching for something very different than their most recent secular concert experience when it comes to engaging and worshiping a holy God – or was it for naught that God said “My ways are not your ways”?  And in Romans 12 when God exhorts us “Don’t become like the people of this world.  Instead change the way you think.”  What follows is a list of activities of servant hood, giving, teaching, showing mercy etc.  Conspicuously lacking is any mention of fancy buildings or big salaries.  This is not to say that functionally appropriate facilities are not necessary, but they cannot take precedence over the work of the ministry.

There are many more factors which have led to the church growing in its irrelevance.  In order to maintain those high salaries, fancy coffee bar lobbies and environmental sanctuaries, which by the way are resulting in ever increasing budgets, many churches have rolled over on many eternal biblical standards.  They simply can’t risk losing those tithe dollars so in order not to offend the offenders, long standing Biblical laws are massaged and equivocated on to include a hate for divorce that mirrors God’s (Malachi 2:16), an intolerance for adultery, teen sex, gossip, greed, homosexuality and more.  Pro-active mentoring and accountability for Godly character has become a fading and lost art.  I offer one glaring example from Malachi 2:13 & 14 where God plainly informs His people that the reason He no longer pays attention to their prayers and sacrifices is because of the high divorce rate.  Could it be stated any more plainly?  And here we are today with divorce rates in the church approaching the same level as in secular society.

I hope you are able to track with me on this as to the negatives of the church being “plugged in” to the progressive globalized world.  To possibly help illustrate this I will offer an example.  Most of us Christians, as well as non-Christians, view the Amish and similar communities as old fashion, behind the times and maybe even a bit weird.  But let’s give the benefit of the doubt for a minute and consider this quote from an article on the Amish Studies website.

“Why would God frown on a telephone? What sense does it make to keep a tractor at the barn but not take it to the field? Is it not inconsistent, if not outright hypocritical, to hire non-Amish drivers but refuse to own cars? And what could be the difference between 12-volt electricity from batteries and 110-volt current from public utility lines? These distinctions may look silly to outsiders, but within the context of Amish history they are important cultural adaptations that have helped to slow the pace of social change and keep worldliness at bay”.

Obviously the rejection of many types of technology hasn’t been a catch-all for the Amish, but in their close knit and tight communities the influence or validation of Biblically fringe practices have had little opportunity to foment and grow.  Not too unlike it might have been 100 years ago in a smaller community where if some guy in your church is abusing his wife and the other men in the church find out, they would have taken that guy out and given him a good talking to or more depending on the level of abuse.  Or if the guy with some other fetish or deviant inclination was unable to find others like himself in their town he might truly have understood that this was a lifestyle or way of thinking which he shouldn’t entertain.  But today, it almost doesn’t matter what fringe or deviant interest you might have, you are sure to find a few hundred if not several thousands of people “just like you” amongst the billions of people in the world for the simple reason you were able to search it on Google or some other social media and even go the their annual conference.

And on a more broad note, how is it that so many young people today feel the freedom to be dismissive and rude to their parents, teachers and other community “elders”?  Because they see it modeled every day on the latest TV sitcom, late night comedy “news” or selfie video on social media.  And if all those other young people are doing it then it must be ok and all those grey headed people are just stupid and out of touch by trying to hold onto those outdated practices of honor, character, respect, morality and hard work.  Even among many Christian youth it hardly even enters into their minds that the first commandment with a promise was to honor those “older” people in your life (parents).  They have been brainwashed into believing they know better after finding validation for their attitudes with the latest trending YouTube video and they do not even hesitate to inform you of their new found enlightenment and your “old and busted” views.

How unfortunate that the globalization and shrinking of our world through the ease of communication, and the internet in particular, has spawned 2 very different results.  One being the almost limitless capacity of our world to accomplish things formerly thought impossible as well as the ability for anti-God practices to gain an increasing foothold in the church because “everybody is doing it” and I can prove it because I read it somewhere on the internet today.

As much as it pains me (and the Lord) to say this, I don’t see things changing for the better in the church in general.  So many have fallen hook line and sinker for the Joel Osteen, Rob Bell and Carl Lentz types who embrace feel good wealth fantasies, no worries about eternal punishment and an unwillingness to call blatant sexual sin – sin.  I am feeling more and more that Jesus was not speaking metaphorically when He said that the path to eternal life is narrow and few will find it.  I am challenged everyday to watch my attitudes, anger, impatience, un-forgiveness as well as my devotion to the principals of scripture and how it compares to the life of Jesus and the fruits of the Spirit.  I have a long way to go, but I cannot turn aside  from that narrow path to run across the median to that wide and inviting road shouting to the rest of humanity, and so many who call themselves Christians, “wait for me, I’ll catch up”.  This is not about being on the right side of history.  This is about being hidden in Christ and Him alone.  And the promise is that if we do so we will be despised on this earth.

PS  As I was writing this over the past few weeks, I felt strongly that it was a prophetic word for the church.  I was praying the past few days for the Lord to confirm this word in my heart before I sent it out and this morning a good friend posted an excerpt from a short letter written by Derek Prince probably 25 years ago.  That letter parallels this blog in several ways and I felt it was a confirming encouragement to go forward.  Thanks Richard!  Link below

http://www.derekprince.org/publisher/file.aspx?id=1000021473

I have never asked this, but if this blog speaks to your spirit, pray about sharing it.

Too good to be true?

This is a follow-up blog to the one I wrote yesterday about the inability of secular society to stomach true Christianity in their midst.  Again, as I have written several times, this has nothing to do with tolerance, equality or getting their cake baked.  They simply cannot swallow the idea of a judgmental God who also stands at the ready to redeem and save any who would humble themselves.

Several years ago Barbie and I read together Ben Carson’s book Gifted Hands.  It was truly an inspiring book on several levels.  He was born into poverty and rose to the absolute pinnacle in the field of pediatric neurosurgery.  As an inner city youth he rose faster than any one before him to the top of the ROTC program in high school.  But most importantly, as an angry black youth, he rose out of his rebellious, angry and hatful attitudes as a result of a salvation experience with Jesus.

But to non-believers, this is myth and cannot happen in real life!  It’s just a story, and it must be discredited at all cost in order to preserve our right to do as we please.  So bring on the attacks and deep investigating into the life of a teenage boy while in grade school some 50 years ago.  They simply cannot reconcile that someone displaying good character today could have once tried to attack his mother or stab a relative over 5 decades ago.  It’s not possible, it sounds to ….. how can I put it ….. fantastical.  And of course we don’t believe in fantasy, right!

No, we don’t believe in fantasy, but we do believe in a redemptive God who can turn even the worst of us around and cause His light to shine.

And it’s not only the liberal left who are out to discredit Ben’s changed life.  Just this week in an interview with Bill O’Reilly, Donald Trump totally dismissed any possibility of it being a redemptive God story stating that the only thing that can bring that kind of change to someone is pills or drugs.  I guess that also says a lot about Trump’s understanding of Christianity – which he claims some form of adherence to.

No, here again is a prominent public figure unashamedly modeling Jesus and His life changing redemptive power and this narrative is totally incompatible with unaccountable secular humanism.

As for me, I choose to see this as a wonderful example of the unlimited potential of Christ in the life of Ben, me, you or anyone who would yield to Jesus.

too good to be true

When doing the right thing is somehow wrong?

This week it was made public that the oldest Duggar son, Josh, acted out when he was a younger teen.  His actions were in fact discovered at the time and although not immediately it was reported to the police some months later, counseling and support were provided for the “forcible fondling” (as identified in the police report at the time).  In other words almost everything that should have been done or was legally required to be done was done combined with correction and counseling.  Was it all done perfectly?  Probably not, it rarely is, but there were never any subsequent reports of additional wrong actions by Josh committed against anyone after that time which is a testament to Christ’ redemptive power as Josh indicated these events led to his salvation.

How many 14 year olds have been on the giving or receiving end of “forcible fondling” and worse which was never reported, was covered up or, even more troubling, either ignored or encouraged.  Unfortunately far too many and in fact a report from almost 10 years ago listed the rates at 1 out of 3 girls and 1 out of 5 boys.  I suspect this number is much higher due to the historic cliché of kids “playing doctor” which is rarely reported.  But have it happen to a high profile Christian and all hell (literally & figuratively) breaks loose in an attempt to cancel or discredit an entire family.  One of the first and most vocal complainers has been honey BOBO’s mom – not exactly the most stellar example of character who is most recently reported to be shacking up with a registered sex offender.

It took character, strength and wisdom for Josh’s father to report the whole incident to the police and get the appropriate help for all involved.  His actions probably arrested what could have become a hurtful pattern of abuse.  I certainly hope & trust all the victims in this case have been able to walk out of this in a healthy way as well.  It certainly seems Josh has experienced significant victory in his life in the past 12 years since that event to include revealing his actions to Anna (who became his wife) two years before they were even married.

Sexual abuse should NEVER be diminished or ignored.  It is hurtful, selfish and destructive with consequences including depression, a multitude of psychological challenges and sometimes even suicide.  But here is a case in which almost all the right steps were taken to help those involved.  There have been no additional reports of moral failings and in fact testimonies of Gods healing grace.  But you would never know it by the news reports where you hear quotes like “it was finally revealed”, “Josh has finally come clean”, “the family covered it up”, “police reports have been destroyed” (which is common in juvenile cases) etc. etc……

This is journalistic and societal dishonesty to be “shocked” or “outraged” at the reality a 14 year old boy acted out in some testosterone driven sexual way.  Can I see a show of hands people – really!  Don’t get me wrong, that is no excuse and most are never confronted and go on to led a less than noble moral lifestyle afterwards.  But due to a strong commitment to Christ and holiness by his parents, Josh did not go on to become just another person, journalist, football player or “good old boy” out there sowing his seeds whether welcomed or unwelcomed.

The Family Research Council lost what may have been the best person to lead such an organization.  A humble sinner saved by grace, aware of his weaknesses and excited about helping others find suport in times of need.

Footnote:  Just to be clear as to what is happening here.  Secular society is so determined to degrade and discredit Christianity they have now taken one of the most redeeming tenants of Christianity, being the redemptive power of the forgiveness of sin, and made it something evil.  Never mind the fact that secular society does far worse things but when there is some bright hope relating to forgiveness of sin, they go bonkers because they reject access to that forgiveness and retaliate out of their own guilt and shame.

But what about all the other abusers out there?

I previously posted my opinion that the real reason people have come down so hard on Ray Rice is because of a reach back to “outdated” Christian principals of men caring for, watching over and protecting the weaker sex which is of course in direct conflict with the women’s movement for equal rights.  It seems ironic that our society finds is so easy to champion Christian values when it suits their agenda and just as easily throw them out the window when those values appear to be too narrow or judgmental as in the case of same sex marriage – which of course raises a whole new problem in the discussion on domestic violence, but I digress.

Now Adrian Peterson and a couple of other prominent football players have been suspended for abuse of a child or spouse.  As I stated in my previous post, I was raised that it is wrong to hit women.  This and other life lessons were however drilled into my backside with generous amounts of corporal punishment from my parents who loved me deeply and were devoted to my future.  Can corporal punishment go too far?  Absolutely it can.  Did AD go too far?  Sounds likely, but that is not the purpose of this blog.

My question is why the focus all of the sudden placed uniquely on football players?  What about abuse to spouses or children that has been doled out by parents or spouses who were team owners, lawyers, judges, corporate executives, teachers, coaches, Wall street tycoons, construction workers, pastors, policemen, bakers, movie stars, etc. etc. etc.?  I don’t necessarily have the answer, but I do find these “newly” found conviction of conscience being disproportionally applied to football players in comparison to the rest of society.  What corporate executive was ever sidelined for something like this?  What pop culture icon lost his/her role in the next movie or had their next 4 concerts canceled after giving in to anger?

Is it because a majority of NFL football players come from inner city black neighborhoods?  If so why isn’t someone claiming racism?  Is it because of all the money they make?  Why not cry wealth envy or apply the same standard to Wall Street executive or famous people.  Is it because they are big and strong and can more easily hurt?  What about brick masons or gym rats who outnumber football players probably 100 to 1.  Is it because football is such a “violent” sport?  Maybe, but then what about rugby, boxers or MMA fighters?

I don’t really have the answer (although I suspect it lies somewhere in the push for a “kinder gentler” world – not to be necessarily confused with a more Godly world), but I do think the question is well worth asking and doing the hard work of fleshing out the answers.